Well, that’s sort of a play on words, based on the title of a popular Off-Broadway musical from the late 1970s, I’m Getting My Act Together and Taking it on the Road.
And even while I can sort of totally base my life on that musical, I’m actually just trying to get my shit together here today. I really, really am.
I have a phone meeting with the director in NYC this morning and need to kind of be like a “complete person” before that happens, because there are a lot of little things I need to discuss about the play, about the Christmas promotion, about bringing the first actors together and getting the workshop underway there for Tell My Bones. So I really need to have a functioning brain when I’m discussing all this.
Back when I was in Divinity School, I was trained in grief counseling, and so all the things I learned there (and practiced — I’ve been an effective grief counselor for others) — well, I need to do this for myself. Again. Counsel myself through this. And the first and most important thing, is not to meet myself at the level of my grief. It’s kind of convoluted to counsel myself as if I’m two people, but in a way, I am because my grief has me behaving like a separate person here. One that I can stand back from and look at it in my head. And I know it isn’t going to help anyone at all, least of all him, if I don’t just get my shit together and get back to work around here.
And I have to stop worrying so much about how to behave towards him. I happen to be a really compassionate person and if I end up annoying him by hovering too much, I know him well enough to know that he will let me know if I’m annoying him.
This morning, I decided it was time to get the Christmas breakfast dishes out. Because how can you feel sad or dissociated when this cute guy’s looking at you, bringing you your coffee??!!
And it actually did help — having breakfast with the moose. He’s on my breakfast bowl, too. And his sweet little face is adorable.
And for some reason, I keep listening to that old Bruce Springsteen song (I posted it here over the weekend) over and over. And before it popped so suddenly into my life the other day, I hadn’t thought of it in 40 years. Now I can’t stop playing it.
Loyal readers of this lofty blog can probably already figure out that the song pushes a lot of the wrong buttons for me, and yet there is something about this song — melody, tempo — that I really love.
And I was sitting at the breakfast table this morning, listening to it for the millionth time, trying to pinpoint what it is, exactly, about these kinds of sentiments about marriage that rub me the wrong way. And I have always been like this when it comes to marriage.
Back when this particular Springsteen album, The River, came out, I was at the tail-end of trying to make a key relationship in my life work. It was a guy I was really in love with, and had been for 5 years, but we argued so much, that we were always breaking it off, then getting back together.
He was from West Virginia, from a small town right on the Ohio River, so I only got to see him on weekends if I got to see him at all. And even back when we were teenagers, still in high school, he wanted to get married. Meaning, he wanted me to drop out of high school, move to West Virginia, live there with him and his mom, be married to him and start having babies. Right away. (And his mom was in full support of this, so that didn’t help.)
I know I don’t even have to tell you what was wrong with that picture for me. Especially since, by then, I already knew, by age 16, that I wanted to be a singer-songwriter and move to NYC, once I was out of school and could figure out how to do that. But I really, really loved that guy, so it was hard to simply just walk away. And so, instead, we tried to stay together and just argue, constantly.
One time, the summer when I was 16 and he was 17, he and I went to a drive-in movie and of course we were fooling around in the car — we had more sex than you can possibly imagine. In fact, he was actually the first guy to give me an orgasm — and on purpose. Meaning, he knew his way around that whole “clitoris” thing and when that had first happened between us, I was only 15 and it was a huge, happy thing for me, especially since Greg had only been dead for a year by then, and the rapes had happened. But anyway, I digress.
We were at the drive-in movie, fooling around, and I told him I couldn’t have intercourse that weekend because I was ovulating. And then he was like a man on a mission, you know? And I was a girl on a mission in direct opposition to his mission. It got really dicey in that car that night, I can tell you. Man. I mean, I was super horny, because I was 16 and ovulating — the worst combination to be if you’re with your boyfriend in some car at the drive-in and not wanting to get pregnant.
It is sufficient to say that I really wanted to kill him that night. I was so pissed-off at him. And even though it seems like most 17 year-old boys don’t want their girlfriends to get pregnant, if you happen to have one of the weird ones, don’t — even for a moment– believe him when he says, “I promise I won’t come in you.” Instead, just put your jeans back on, get out of the car and just walk the fuck home.
Anyway. In early 1980, he and I were still in that constant struggle of trying to be together, long-distance, with me not wanting to get married.
HIM: “Why do you have to go all the way to New York City and sing in some bar? We can get married and you can sing at home. I’ll buy you a trailer and your own washer and dryer.”
ME: (various expletives spluttered really loudly and with deep consternation and disbelief. Even when I was totally sober.)
What’s odd, though, is that after I moved to NYC in November of 1980, I was actually married 5 months later. To this really amazing Chinese guy from Singapore. And even though the marriage didn’t work out, I loved him and still do; he always tried to help me find my way in the world. (And still does, actually.)
So it’s just fucking weird — me and marriage. And whatever the hell goes on in my head about that. Primarily, I just don’t want to be owned, you know? Because then you can always be discarded. For some reason, it’s very hard for me to see past that one specific thing. The discard.
Well, the Bruce Springsteen song, in my opinion, is all about marriage as ownership, but it’s still a sweet song that’s hard not to want to buy into, even knowing all that I know.
Oh, before I close! I want to point out that there is going to be a book by Nick Cave to coincide with the exhibit in Copenhagen, Stranger Than Kindness: The Nick Cave Exhibition. Back, over 30 years ago, when I worked at MoMA and books were published that supported a special exhibition, the books were only for sale at the museum. Not in bookstores or anything. So I don’t know if this particular book (which I know will be amazing) will be available for regular people to buy (meaning myself specifically.)
Normally, in a year when I’m not planning on being in Los Angeles, Toronto, and New York City repeatedly, with pretty much all of my published books and stories being rapidly consumed free of charge all over the Internet by everyone in the world and so money is becoming a real pressing THING in my life (although I still got some royalties from Amazon this month, so thank you, people, who are actually purchasing stuff)… but normally, when all that’s not going on, and an amazing museum exhibit is going on somewhere in the world, I will go to it! But this one just can’t happen for me. That so sucks… But I know it’s gonna be really, really cool. And hopefully, that book will end up being for sale all over, at some point.
Okay. I gotta get ready for my phone meeting here. Finish my coffee. Brush my teeth. (I never feel like my day has officially started until I brush my teeth!!)
So I’m gonna try to be cool today, and stop being so irrational with my grief, and try to find a more productive way to behave about my grief because I know for sure that the success of my writing is also really important to my friend, whether or not he has cancer that does not seem likely to be cured.
So, thanks for visiting. Have a really good Monday, wherever you are in the world. I’ll leave you once again with the Springsteen song, so that you don’t have to scroll down. Plus, I’ll also leave you with my “answer song” and then my absolutely MOST FAVORITE song for when I’m in love and will follow a guy anywhere (even into marriage…). (And if you can’t figure me out then imagine how it feels to actually BE me!!). Okay. I love you guys. See ya!