Tag Archives: James Dean

Born again, again!

I have finally settled in enough in the new house to get down to a daily writing schedule. It feels incredible. Not just the “writing again” part, but having ready access to everything I’ve ever written, published and unpublished, throughout the course of my career.

And not just my fiction, but also dream notebooks I kept over the years, where I kept track of my dreams at night, and spiral bound notebooks filled with song lyrics I wrote over 30 years ago (for those new to my blog, I was a singer/songwriter in NYC in the late 1970s into the early 1990s, when I switched to fiction-writing, exclusively).

I mentioned in a previous post, that even though all my “stuff” was in storage for about 2 years, it’s really been closer to 15 years that I not only had ready access to all my stuff, but was in the frame of mind to relate to it all. These many years that I’ve been back in Ohio have not been happy ones for me, and I had often deeply regretted moving back here.  I had really come to feel like one of the walking dead, but without the zombie-like features. ha ha.

But, first, the move into the Hinterlands in 2016, into a rental house, followed by a move deeper into the Hinterlands and into a new (really old) house that I bought this past March, has made me finally feel alive again.

I’ve titled this post “Born again, again” because in the space of 12 months (2016-2017), I nearly died 3 times (car accident, lightning, accidental overdose of aspirin). My life was so unhappy during that whole era, that, spiritually, I could have easily chosen to just die and move on to the next plateau. But I didn’t. I constantly fought to stick around. To stick it out. (And long-time readers know that my teen years were filled with awfulness: 2 rapes, constant abuse, drug & alcohol problems, confinement to a mental hospital, arrests, tragic deaths of people I loved. I survived 2 suicide attempts in those years and it was because, again, even though life felt unbearable, I really wanted to stick it out until it could finally get good.)

So now, when I wake up in the morning, in love with life, with my house, with my new tiny town in the middle of lovely nowhere, I truly mean it: I am happy.

Here’s a shot of my kitchen table from a few minutes ago. It feels so great to be able to really spread my work out again. It’s been since the days on E. 12th Street, in NYC (over 30 years ago), that I’ve had a kitchen big enough to have a kitchen table I could really spread out at while I worked:

Working on the stage adaptation of my Helen LaFrance script

I was going through an old dream notebook from 1986 this afternoon (I’ve recently started keeping track of my dreams again) and a poem I wrote about James Dean was stuck in there.

It was typed on my old IBM typewriter. It had some pencil marks, where I had edited it. And there was still tape on the corners of the paper, where I had taped it to my bedroom wall (I often did that with poems back then that I wanted to look at , study, and then revise). I had completely forgotten having ever written a poem about James Dean, although I did really used to adore him.

For readers too young to know who James Dean was, he was a movie star in the 1950s, who died really young. He was from a small town in Indiana, and went to NYC to study acting. He appeared in early TV shows, some stage work, but then went out to L.A. and became famous almost overnight. He only made 3 movies before he died tragically in a car accident in northern California. And his third movie, Giant, wasn’t even released until after he died. He was buried back home in Indiana, close to his family. His casket was shipped back home on a train. He was a guy who always wanted to be really, really famous, and I often thought that if he hadn’t died so young, on the precipice of real fame, he would not have become a Hollywood Legend. Meaning, that spiritually, dying young and tragically was part of the whole “legendary fame” package, which I believe that on some level, he subscribed to hook, line & sinker.

Here’s  a still of James Dean in his final movie, Giant (a terrific movie about racism, btw, that you must see if you haven’t already), followed by my newly re-discovered poem!

James Dean on the set of Giant, 1955
JAMES DEAN'S PLAN
I went to L.A. to die,
not in one grand leap, mind you, but in frames.
I knew I could muster
the sullenness,
make the necessary toss of
a cigarette butt
and the careless flash of a
shy smile.
Then I'd arc my life
up the Northern Coast
in a dashing trajectory of vision;
collide with
my tragic partner
in a slow-motion splatter
to timelessness,
then resume a more somber
parade
with my pine box shipped east, marked
Indiana's Own
but my ticket stamped
Hollywood's Heaven.
--MJL 1987