Tag Archives: marilyn jaye lewis

If You’re Gonna Give Me Idiotic Book Covers…

Then I suggest the one above!

It actually offends me less and makes about as much sense as most of the book covers I’ve been given over the last 30 years.

It’s a losing battle, though, one which I gave up fighting a long time ago. And except for Richard Kasak (a publisher who died quite a few years ago), I only got the covers I wanted when I designed the books myself.

And I only bring this up today because yesterday I was rudely awakened to something that really bothered me. (Yesterday was a big day for that kind of thing.) I was trying to investigate further this Neptune & Surf French audio book link I had seen because I wanted to write to my publisher in Paris.

I soon discovered it’s not really an “audio book.” Meaning, it’s not the entire book.  It’s excerpts. Still,  I’m pretty sure the amount of content included violates my contract. But I was soon overwhelmed by too many things that sort of “assaulted” me that I got depressed, gave up and said, I’m not dealing with this. Just let it go, Marilyn.

This particular French edition has been out for 8 years already and I had completely forgotten that the publisher changed the title of the book from Neptune & Surf to Sex in America. That had bothered me when it happened, even though, technically, I understood what the publisher was getting at, I still thought that it both: a.) only vaguely summed up what the book was about; as well as, b.) hugely overstated what the book was about.

Then they gave it this horrible cover, even though I had asked them not to give me a cover picturing a girl in her underwear. Technically, she’s in sparkly stockings and a necklace, so I guess she’s not really in her “underwear”. However, when I finally saw the cover back at my desk in America (where I was probably having Sex), it quietly enraged me, since I had specifically asked them, en francais!, not to do this.

Then, I remembered that they had deleted the novella, The Mercy Cure, from this edition because they thought that it was “too complicated.” This meant that this edition only contains 2 novellas, Gianni’s Girl (one of my most popular stories ever, about Italian bootleggers and a gang-rape in Chicago in 1927 – that’s so American, right?  – but I was glad they didn’t tinker with that), and the novella Neptune & Surf – which they changed to Neptune Avenue. (And, yes, technically, that title is easier to grasp and perhaps makes more sense, but I gave it the title of Neptune & Surf for very specific reasons, mostly because the story was written for and dedicated to Holly and all of our wonderful years of hardcore debauchery together on Coney Island. The title means a lot to me and to her.)

But all of that taken together means that no one on earth would possibly connect Sex In America with Neptune & Surf unless they were psychic in some sort of seriously scary way.

Plus the price of the book – a mass market paperback (in French) containing two novellas – is almost 17 dollars! That seems crazy to me.

So that depressed me. I don’t like broken links in the chain of commerce and product identity.

(And it also bothers me that Little, Brown, in London, somehow managed to put out into the international search engines that “Marilyn Lewis” is the author of their digital edition of Neptune & Surf, even though, all over their website, I’m “Marilyn Jaye Lewis”, which makes a huge difference because there are about 500 billion women in the world named “Marilyn Lewis.” Yet another annoying broken link in the chain of commerce and product identity!)

Anyway, at the beginning of the digital reading, the French woman who reads the excerpts of Neptune & Surf (aka Sex In America) says very complimentary things about the book and about the caliber of my writing. Extremely kind things. Which was nice. Still, the whole thing is prefaced by the concept of: Good writing in bad books and about how this is sort of a dirty secret of publishing houses – this good writing in these bad books that are hidden in dark corners of bookstores. (All of this was said in French, by the way, which only made it sound more authoritative.)

I probably don’t have to tell you that this really upset me. Even though most of my books have sold well and have not been relegated to dark corners in bookstores. I of course understood the point she was trying to make and it’s a public conception that I’ve been up against throughout my entire career.

It’s upsetting to think that all these decades later, I’m still up against this.  Yesterday was just not a good day for me. First, the entire universe seemed to want me to come to terms with the reality that Tom Petty is dead, and then come to terms with the reality that people will only find out that I’m a good writer if they happen to find themselves furtively lurking in the dark corner of a bookstore…

Plus that whole feeding frenzy over buying the Nick Cave ticket yesterday morning was also very disturbing to my equilibrium. (At Town Hall, it’s called Nick Cave Words + Music, btw, not Conversations with Nick Cave.) (I don’t think this means that he’s just going to say a bunch of words, and that he only saves actual “conversations” for people who aren’t American…)

Anyway, normally, I refuse to participate in stuff like that. I just can’t stand that feeding frenzy set up.  And I’m sure this morning’s sale will be so much worse, since it’s the regular tickets.

Obviously, I want all of Nick Cave’s endeavors all over America to sell out. [UPDATE: Town Hall indeed sold out in under half an hour –  Ed.] Loyal readers of this lofty blog  are probably really tired of me bemoaning the fact that most non-big city Americans do not even know who he is. Still, I was so seriously tempted to just abort the whole thing yesterday, it was making me so insane:

CLICK, Oops! Sorry, that ticket’s gone! Try again! CLICK, Oops! Sorry, that ticket’s gone! Try again! CLICK, Oops! Sorry, that ticket’s gone! Try again!

Over and over and over. And it happens at warp speed. You’re watching all the little blue dots on the seating map disappear in nanoseconds. Jesus fucking Christ, you know? What is that? It’s one of the things I hate about doing stuff online.

I would not even do something like that for myself, if for some convoluted reason I had to buy a ticket to hear myself speak. I’m definitely someone who moves quickly to: Fuck this shit, and then goes back to whatever it was I’d been doing. But, alas. Not for Nick Cave having a conversation. (And in that movie, 20,000 Days on Earth, when we go with him to his “therapist’s” office? Oh my god! That was the most ingenious thing I ever saw in my life. I’d probably sell my house to afford a ticket to go to therapy with Nick Cave.)

I digress. I’m just saying, I don’t like that kind of thing – buying tickets in that fiercely competitive way. I feel like I’m being spiritually eviscerated by the Internet. And I don’t even have a question I want to ask him.  Well, actually, I have an unending list of questions I want to ask him. Daily, I’m asking him questions in my head, from the moment I wake-up in the morning until I go to sleep at night, but these are not questions that would interest anyone else on earth. And a lot of the questions people do ask him are actually really, really cool questions. I’m actually very eager to hear what other people want to know.

So I stuck with it and got my ticket… And I’m happy, but the process sucked the life out of me for awhile.

So yesterday was a challenge.  But I’m going to try to make today a lot better.  This morning, at breakfast, I was once again listening to The Big Jangle (Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, from the Playback collection) and just loving every moment of it, but also thinking, Man, these songs are over 40 years old. He died. Shouldn’t I be putting it to rest now? But the tears started to come again and I just can’t go there. I can’t. I have to shift gears and tell myself, He’s alive and well and only 30 years old and living inside my little tabletop jukebox.

And life, as it were, goes on….

Thanks for visiting, gang. Hope you have a perfect Friday wherever you are in the world! I love you guys. Seriously. I mean that. See ya.

Well It didn’t feel like Sunday
Didn’t feel like June
When he met his silent partner in that lonely corner room
That over looked the marquee
Of the Plaza All-Adult
And he was not lookin’ for romance
Just someone he could trust

And it wasn’t no way to carry on
It wasn’t no way to live
But he could put up with it for a little while
He was workin’ on something big

Speedball rang the night clerk
Said, “Send me up a drink”
The night clerk said “It’s Sunday man, …wait a minute
Let me think
There’s a little place outside of town that might
Still have some wine”
Speedball said, “Forget it, can I have an outside line?


It was Monday when the day maids
Found the still made bed
All except the pillows that lay stacked
Up at the head
And one said, “I know I’ve seen his face
I wonder who he is?

And the other said, “He’s probably just another clown
Workin’ on something big”

c- 1981 Tom Petty

Good Lord, I’m Back

What a fucking morning. And everything started out so good.

It began sliding downhill when I noticed that someone from overseas had come to my site during the night, looking for Michael Hemmingson. My dear colleague who is allegedly dead. And I visited the post from back in September that had brought them to the site, Me+ Reality = Never a Good Combination and it just broke my heart.

I still refuse to believe that Michael is dead.  I am simply not going to process that until they can show me a corpse or something, you know? And since it’s now been 5 years, I’m guessing that if there ever was a corpse, there certainly isn’t one now. But it just feels devastating and part of that is because I’m refusing to process his death. I know that. But a small part of that is that I honestly do not believe that he died, his politics were so dicey, so how do I process it?

And then I kept reading the post, and there was all that stuff I wrote about sex and fame and my writing career. And that was pretty disgusting but I’m not going to un-say it because it was true. And if the truth about myself sometimes makes me sick, oh well.

Then, a new video  was dropped today. Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers’ For Real. This was a previously unreleased song that came out posthumously on The Best of Everything collection a couple months ago. They did a video of the song and it dropped today on YouTube.

And as much as I told myself, “Do not watch this, it’s gonna break your fucking heart!” I watched it anyway. And I just sobbed, you know? It broke my damn heart.

Loyal readers of this lofty blog no doubt recall that I steadfastly refuse to process Tom Petty’s death, too. I cannot accept it. I understand that he’s dead, logically I understand it, but I refuse to actually process it and let it move into some sort of bygone place.

I can accept that the 66-year-old version of him died, but I can’t watch any of that video footage from the Hollywood Bowl, when he died 7 days later. Can’t do it, even though I know that that man is dead. I can’t bear it. And when I see this stuff from his early career, when I, too, was so young and so full of dreams and loved him so much, it just devastates me to have to think even for a moment that that guy is dead, too. I can’t do it. It kills me.

Even though I begged myself not to watch that video… I could not resist the lure of how beautiful he was.

Oh well.

I guess you just never know what you’re going to do in the space of a morning, do you?


Sometimes -There’s God – So Quickly!

I know, I’m hopelessly plebeian, but that is probably my favorite line from A Streetcar Named Desire.

I first read that play when I was about 15 and it was one of those lines that seared straight into my heart and I immediately put a lot of faith into those words ;  God was going to somehow manage to be there for me, even if He was gonna wait until I really, really, REALLY needed Him before regaling me with that miracle at the 11th hour.

Of course, in the play, it’s all about a woman needing a man to take care of her and she thinks she’s finally getting one. That’s a concept that has always been, even at age 15, indescribably foreign to me. Why on earth would I want a man to take care of me? Then he would have the power to tell me what to do!

Even though I really love dominant men, I am definitely not the kind of person who responds well to being told what to do. It’s a strange, hazy, jagged sort of line, isn’t it? Not something that can be sorted out in a single, lighthearted blog post, I’m guessing.  (It’s interesting to note, though, that I respond really well when someone puts actual thought into how best to subvert my churlishness by making something sound like a mere suggestion and not a mandate. My enormous ego assuaged, I can then do what you ask and still trot along happily behind you, my merry tail wagging away once more.)

However! Yes! I digress. That’s not at all what I was going to post about!

I was going to talk about Blessed By Light and how inserting a single clause within a sentence yesterday completely heightened the dynamic of what I had been trying to say for 3 days without understanding for 3 days what I was really trying to say!

The clause was “who now embodied everything I ever was in my youth” and it just made everything hit the stars, you know? I really just sat there and stared at the manuscript and went, WhoaWhere did that come from?

Hence, my Tennessee Williams’ line, Sometimes – there’s God – so quickly.  Or the Muse. Take your pick. I lean more toward Muses than God. But it’s still a great line that often comes to me when I’m just really, really happy.

I only got 2 more pages written after that yesterday, because the phone calls that I knew were coming came and dealt with 2 other projects I’m working on and it set my mind off in other directions. Try as I did to reel my mind back in, it just never happened. But I still had just a beautiful night. I am just so happy with everything.

And the weather has been just incredible the last few days. It has made everything almost feel magical. I took a walk to the Dollar Store yesterday (the only store in the whole village except for the gas station across the road from it, where you can buy cigarettes, chewing tobacco, M&M’s and stuff, and nothing but the finest libations: beer and cheap wine, and windshield wiper fluid). And on my walk home, I was looking fondly at my house in the distance as it came ever closer, and I simply couldn’t believe how happy I was.  All of my projects are just going so well.

I don’t define myself solely by my writing, but my writing does account for about 98% of how I look at myself. I don’t care if that’s a good idea or not; it’s just how it is. And when the writing is going well, all is right with my world. I have the best muses ever.

I still have to deal somehow with this explosion of stuff on the Internet, where people seem to be doing renewed projects with past books of mine, and I haven’t seen royalty statements from these publishers in a few years. I posted here recently about the interesting hardcover editions of a novel of mine that never came out in hardcover, but which are selling for $203 per copy. And then I noticed an audio book of Neptune & Surf! In French! How nice! Were you planning on ever telling me you had done that?? Methinks not! (But I have to write that letter en francais! so it’ll take a little while.)

So there’s still little headache-type stuff that I have to figure out how to deal with, but it’s all okay. Everything will work out.

Okay, in about 34 minutes and 44 seconds, I’m gonna get my ticket to see Nick Cave at Town Hall, and then I’m gonna get crackin’ here on Blessed By Light. [UPDATE: I got my ticket, a really good seat in the front of the balcony, dead center, but wow, what a feeding frenzy that was. The pre-sale tickets were gone in about 12 minutes.  – Ed.]

I hope you have a really productive and happy Thursday, wherever you are in the world! (Assuming it’s still Thursday wherever you are in the world!)

I leave you with yet another really cool song from my breakfast-listening this morning. It’s from The Big Jangle – by Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, 1978: Shadow of a Doubt (A Complex Kid). I really love this song. The melody is just great. And once you decipher all the lyrics, it’s so fucking singable! All right. Thanks for visiting, gang. I love you. See ya.

There goes my baby
There goes my only one
I think she loves me
But she don’t wanna let on

Yeah, she likes to keep me guessing
She’s got me on the fence
With that little bit of mystery
She’s a complex kid
And she’s always been so hard to figure out
Yeah, she always likes to leave me with a shadow of a doubt

Sometimes at night, I
Wait around ’til she gets out
She don’t like workin’
She says she hates her boss

But she’s got me asking questions
She’s got me on the fence
With that little certain something
She’s a complex kid
And she’s always been so hard to get around
Yeah, she always likes to leave me with a shadow of a doubt

Just a shadow of a doubt
She says it keeps me running
I’m trying to figure out
If she’s leading up to something

And when she’s dreaming
Sometimes she sings in French
But in the morning
She don’t remember it

But she’s got me thinking ’bout it
Yeah, she’s got me on the fence
With that little bit of mystery
She’s a complex kid
And she’s always been so hard to live without
Yeah, she always likes to leave me with a shadow of a doubt

Well a shadow of a doubt
Well a shadow of a doubt

c- 1978 Tom Petty

Alas, Poor Sybil!

Sybil is the girl up there on the book cover. Doomed to come into her hormonal peak in an era when most Americans were more comfortable with women being one-dimensional!!

(And I’m guessing that the author, “Joan Ellis,” was really a guy.)

But I guess it made for some good, solid reading. Yes, indeedy.

God knows, I was no stranger to these kinds of trashy paperbacks when I was young; they were just everywhere in the early 70s. Just everywhere. But I was not their target audience, that’s for sure.

Even though this era in erotic publishing in the US was sort of a “golden era” for the genre, it did absolutely nothing for me. And I was the horniest child imaginable, so it wasn’t that. It was the writing. It was not good! I was only 13 when I read Story of O and that was, like, from some other celestial realm. It took my breath away, it was so erotic.

For me, it all came down to the quality of the writing. It really did. I guess if you aren’t into dominant men (as I am and always have been, since about, I don’t know, age 6?), the quality of the writing might not mean anything at all to you. But I’ve known women who weren’t into dominant men, and women who weren’t even into men at all, who were still blown away by the writing in Story of O.

Wow. Well. that was certainly an unexpected tangent at 6:11am!

What I was intending to write about was something a little bit different. But not much.

Last evening,  I finally did get some energy going. My brain connected. I had Chapter 21 of Blessed By Light open in front of me. I was tweaking some stuff already written there and feeling primed to get some new stuff down, and then suddenly Peitor texted me.

I don’t keep my ringer on when I’m writing but I do keep my phone on the desk, so I saw that he was sending text after text after text. Which always means something important is on his mind, so I looked at the texts. And then suddenly, Valerie in Brooklyn started texting me, too. She’s working on some sample cover art for me and I needed to hear from her, so I was trying to read that, too. And then suddenly my dad called.

All of this happened at once, completely at the same time, at around 7 in the evening.  And no one had texted or called me all day. Suddenly, all my mental energy was re-routed toward my phone, which basically derailed any creative stuff getting written yesterday.

But the stuff from Peitor was really cool. He and a handful of creative people in L.A. (except for Peitor, I think the others involved are all women), anyway, they’re starting an artists’ retreat in Perugia, Italy.

Peitor lives a good portion of the year in Italy and England. And he agreed to take over this property for a friend in Italy and run it. And it’s amazing and really lovely.  And it’s upscale, you know. Really nice. It can house & feed 60 artists at one time.

Peitor is a composer and producer, and he scores films and TV and stuff. And the women onboard are, like, award-winning photographers for National Geographic, and artists in other disciplines, and other writers, as well as TV & film executives. All based in L.A.

They are getting their opening programs together for when the retreat actually opens again, and Peitor texted and asked me if I’d like to try to oversee some sort of erotic writing program there. Not for beginning writers, but more for writers who specifically wanted to write in some sort of erotic vein and the end result is  a book of collected stories or pieces that are erotic in some way and written during the retreat.  So, overseeing a retreat in Italy, as well as a publication. (And, of course,  wine is involved – the drinking of it, not the production of it!!)

And, of course, I was, like, YES!!!! with a zillion exclamation points. We then texted for over an hour, hashing out the details. So you can see why I never got back to the novel last night. My mind went off into this whole other realm.

I’ve taught writing before. It’s not an easy thing to do. And I was very picky about who I would take on as students, because it’s hard enough to help good writers become better writers.  Trying to teach someone who thinks they kinda might like to write…that’s just not even in a ballpark that I know how to show up in.

So, I can see how an undertaking like this particular retreat could require an enormous amount of energy from me, directed at a lot of people at once, and people from all over the world. I speak French and a little Mandarin Chinese, but that’s it.  Everyone’s gotta speak English, otherwise I’ll be useless. Yet, just because a writer might speak English, it doesn’t mean they’re thoughts slide together in the same way that a native speaker’s does, right? Still, I find the whole idea just really exciting, however it turns out.

But I think I totally passed out from exhaustion before 11pm last ngiht and then I was up at 4:11am, all excited about life and unable to fall back to sleep. Teaching that guy piano, and now this artists’ retreat in Italy. On top of all the other really cool projects I’m doing right this very minute.  I was also lying there wondering what seat I’m going to get when the tickets go on pre-sale for Nick Cave at Town Hall tomorrow morning. I know I’m going to get “a seat,” but will it be the seat I want? What is the seat I want? Actually, the seat I want is, you know, on the piano bench right next to him, but I’m thinking that’s not actually a seat that’s being offered…

I finally got out of bed at 5am, went downstairs to merrily feed the many scampering cats. We listened to The Big Jangle by Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers all during breakfast. What a great CD. (It’s from the Playback collection.) It has all of my favorites from that period when I was 18-21 years old. Gem after gem, and not one of them longer than 3 minutes.  It’s pretty much: verse/chorus, verse/chorus, bridge, chorus, out. But just wonderful rock & roll songs! All of them infused with that intense attitude he had when he was young.

It all just made for a great start to another sunny spring morning around here.

(Oh, you’ll notice that I reloaded Boy, If You Want into the music player. This is a demo we made in my boyfriend’s bedroom, on his 8-track, in 1984. He was a drummer in a different band. We used his bass player and a lead guitar player that they knew. It’s just a demo, the sound quality on the acoustic guitar is terrible, but I always liked the demo, overall.)

Okay, on that note! I’m gonna get crackin’ around here on the novel because I know for sure I have 2 phone calls coming today that I need to take. I leave you with one of my favorite Tom Petty songs of all time! (Isn’t it everybody’s??!!) Here Comes My Girl, from 1978!!!

All right, gang. Thanks for visiting. I love you, guys. See ya!

Good Morning, Sunshine!

This morning was just one of those mornings.

I woke at around 6am (late for me), dawn was already filling my splendid bedroom. A nice breeze was blowing in, birds were chirping outside. However, I felt like I’d been run over by a Mack truck during the night.

I was unbelievably exhausted. It was almost too much of an effort to even open my eyes.

I felt like I was trying to rise to the surface of life from deep down under some unfathomable ocean. But I knew I was happy. That much I was sure of, although it took a moment to remember why.

Ah yes! The Algonquin Hotel as a single woman! Nick Cave at Town Hall!

That helped me sort of focus. But it still took me about 45 minutes to actually get out of that bed.

I hate when that happens, because I really wanted to just spring out of bed today, merrily feed the cats, have my breakfast, and take my coffee back up to the laptop and get to work on Blessed By Light

I’m still waiting for something remotely similar to energy to kick in, all these hours later. Although I did manage to make the drive into town and back to buy groceries and it is a really stunning spring day out there today, gang.  Just gorgeous. Unbelievably perfect. Spring is barreling toward summer today.

While I was on the main drag in the town, I glanced in my rear view mirror and saw the most perfect, dark-haired guy in the car behind me. About 20-something. The kind of guy that is nothing but trouble. The kind that I used to be a magnet for, about 45 years ago. And he was driving a vintage Dodge Challenger – the distant forerunner of the Hellcat, my dream car. Wow. It really perked up my tired little brain, if even for a moment.

But now I’m back at my desk, manuscript open in front of me, and the brain is struggling to connect again. What’s funny, though, is that I can feel the muses. They’re swirling all over today. I can practically touch them. You know – with my mind. So it isn’t a lack of that kind of energy,  and so I’m hopeful that the day will eventually yield something really good.

Plus it occurred to me this morning, as I was lying in bed, thinking about the Algonquin and Nick Cave (and myriad combinations thereof); it doesn’t really matter if we can’t pull the tech rehearsals together that particular week. I can make 17 hundred trips to New York, if I have to. And Sandra and I have the other play (the one we’ll be doing in Toronto) that we can work on, plus 2 other plays that we’re working on that are only in various stages of notes. No lack of constant things to be working on in New York.

I don’t want to make myself stressed. I just want to enjoy myself in a wide open world, you know? Come what may.

What I do need, though, is for this novel to be completed and off to the publisher before we begin the initial rehearsals for Tell My Bones here this summer, so I’m gonna get back to staring at Chapter 21 until the brain returns, gang!

Meanwhile, I hope that Tuesday has been really lovely, wherever you are (or Wednesday, if you’re reading this in that part of the world). I leave you, joyfully, with this, gang! (See yesterday’s post).  Listen and decide for yourself if it isn’t the most perfect music to shoot yourself in the head by! Or, I guess launch into some orgasmic frenzy. Your choice!

All righty. Thanks for visiting. I love you guys! See ya.


I booked a suite at the Algonquin Hotel in New York for the night of September 23rd.  I love that hotel. For its literary history, mostly, but it’s also just a really pretty, historic hotel that I have always loved.

I’m very happy.  And I don’t care that I’ll be all by myself in way too many rooms.  Nick Cave is having a Conversation that night in New York City, around the corner at Town Hall. Yay!

So now all I have to do is persuade  everybody involved with my play (starting with Sandra, tomorrow morning) that the New York rehearsals for the staged reading (with all the musicians and tech people) have to take place right around that date because I really, really, REALLY don’t want to have to make three trips to NYC in the fall.

But I’m so excited. I love New York in late September. I love the Algonquin, and obviously I love Nick Cave. I even love Town Hall – I’ve seen some really amazing people there over the years.

I also decided this past fall, when I was last in New York, that I don’t do the ex-husband thing anymore.

I used to always, always, always, without fail, let my ex know when I would be in the city and we’d always get together and have dinner, walk around together, like old times, but you know what? I just suddenly came to a decision before that last trip that I couldn’t keep doing it. We still talk on the phone occasionally and email each other (I’m like that with both my ex’s). And they both buy me gifts for my birthday, for Christmas. Which is really nice and I’m grateful that they can each find it in themselves to think so kindly of me after marriages that were so incendiary.

But I finally realized, I left that second marriage because I was really, really, really unhappy. And even though I still interact with my second husband professionally (he was a professional theater actor for a really long time and he’s very good friends with Sandra), I would rather just be by myself in New York then pretend I wasn’t really unhappy in that marriage, which I tend to do when we go out to dinner together.

You know: Don’t say one fucking thing about how it really was; let’s just be nice and be friends. Pretend all that heartbreaking stuff didn’t happen. And then he’ll pick up the tab, which makes me feel like a child.

And I don’t want him to tell me anymore that he hopes my writing is going really well, as he’s helping me into a cab. And I don’t want to hear him say, ever again, anymore, ever: I hope you find yourself, Marilyn. I hope you’re happy.

Because the undertone is, well, you know.

(FYI: We spent our first anniversary at the Algonquin, so, for me, this will be, like, huge. To be there by myself. Just me. Happy little me.)

Another really interesting thing happened to me today. This guy I only know casually begged me to give him piano lessons.

He bought a piano. A really nice one. Really. And I said, “Wow, this is a nice piano.” And he said that he didn’t play and wanted to learn. And I said that it’s easy to learn and that there are those cool apps now that you can put on your phone and learn how to play.

Long story short, though, he wanted a human being to teach him how to play and begged me to teach him, when he found out that I knew how to play. As in, hire me to teach him how to play the piano.

So I finally agreed.

I’m sure it would not surprise any loyal readers of this lofty blog, to learn that playing the piano wound up being a really traumatizing thing for me. I mean, why wouldn’t it? Every single goddamned fucking thing in my life has traumatized me!

Okay, perhaps I exaggerate there, but I used to be an incredibly gifted pianist. And when I was 14, all the local piano teachers said that they’d taught me all they could and that I really needed to go to the Conservatory and study there.  So my parents sent me. Well, my mom did because my dad was gone by then.

So this is where I studied, and I hated it:

Image result for capital university conservatory of music

Why, you may ask? Because it was intensely joyless.  And it was frightening.  Right away, focusing on Bach, which is, like, 17 different tempos for each hand, at once. and my teacher was incredibly strict. The only time she ever smiled at me was when I gave my first recital and blew everybody away.

And mostly I blew everybody away because I thought that if I didn’t, that crazy lady with the metronome would fucking kill me. I went to every single lesson with rabid butterflies in my stomach — yes, rabid; meaning, butterflies frothing at the mouth! I was so afraid of that teacher.

It was just awful – the pressure.  And I couldn’t tell anybody how I felt because not only was I intensely shy, but my boyfriend had been killed by then, and the rapes had happened, and all of that. So my mind was just unraveling and it was hard for me to speak to people, about anything at all. And after the suicide attempt, when I was put in the mental hospital, there was a grand piano there and this really kind music therapist wanted me to play it as part of my therapy.

And I simply couldn’t do it. I just couldn’t. It was like I’d snapped. Part of me actually died, spiritually – the pianist part of me – after that suicide attempt.  My guitar I could still play, but not the piano. I couldn’t handle it. I had been so traumatized by that teacher and her metronome and BACH… And even though I bought a piano a few years ago, I wound up giving it away. So it’s going to be interesting, teaching someone how to play.

I think it’ll actually be a really, really beautiful thing. I loved playing so very much – before all the pressure.  I think it’ll be wonderful to go back to when everything was simple. You know: Here’s middle C.

Okay. Have a great night, gang! Wherever you are in the world. Thanks for visiting. I love you guys. See ya.

A Pocketful of Muses

Wow, gang. Yesterday was amazing. It was worth being incredibly exhausted for.

Peitor and I worked for 3 hours on the current micro-short film project and it metamorphosed into this incredible piece.  It went way beyond what we’d initially thought we were creating. And it’s still under 10 minutes long. And it’s still funny, abstract, absurd; and yet it has become something so much more. And it was just kinda jaw-dropping – how tuned in to each other we were yesterday and what resulted from that.

Most of what I do is so solitary and isolating, so I am really enjoying this collaborative effort with Peitor, so much. That feeling that my mind is wide open and completely connecting to someone else’s mind, and the pictures are coming to both of us at the very same time. It feels incredible.

Back in early 1984, I was studying with a Lakota Sioux Medicine Man out in Texas. (This is a long story that I’m going to make very short.) Part of my blood heritage from way back is from the BlackFoot Confederacy (Piegan Blackfeet Tribal Nation), and, in addition, I’ve always had this specific spiritual thread of healing that ran through my life.  I made the conscious choice to connect that energy to the radical Jesus Christ and so went to Divinity School and became a minister. And by radical, part of what I mean is that I believe 100% in the power of Jesus Christ to heal you. But I also believe 100% in your own power to heal yourself. You don’t need Jesus Christ or anyone else. I just personally made the choice to connect to him.

However, in my early 20s, when I was still trying to make sense of this healing thing I had, I came into contact with that Medicine Man and he saw this side of me and wanted to train me to take over his practice out in Texas.  In those days, my music was everything to me. I was always playing in clubs, writing songs, in the recording studio, what have you – but all of it was in NYC. It was my life. But I decided to give this Medicine Woman thing a chance. And so I went to Texas and stayed with him in his cabin in the middle of nowhere and I studied with him.

When I say cabin in the middle of nowhere, I mean that. We were miles away from everything, up in the hills, in the forest, no less. There were things like mountain lions, and stuff. There was a generator so we had electricity, but no running water. And as  fate would have it, I immediately got my period out there and had the most intense menstrual flow of my entire life.  And no running water, no shower, not even a  bathroom – all that stuff was done outside. Not even in an outhouse, or anything, just simply outside. In the forest, where there were mountain lions and stuff roaming around.

I have never been the kind of gal who was ever, at all, interested in my “womanhood.” So getting my period the minute I got there, and in such an indescribably “flowing” way,  was the most unwelcome thing imaginable for me. But he, being a Medicine Man, was, like, “You’re really in your power now. It’s a good thing.” Whereas I was, like, “No, what I am now, is pissed off.”

But anyway.

It turned out that he was right about my potential for being a Medicine Woman and I actually was  really good at it. And it scared the fuck out of me. I was only 23 years old. And I really did not know how to handle it.  He taught me, quickly, how to completely open up this sort of psychic channel in my mind and this whole other level just sort of swooped in. It was so frightening to me because “past/present/future” sort of bled into each other all of the sudden and I didn’t know how to handle it. How to differentiate between the things I was picking up on and sometimes actually seeing. And there weren’t any drugs involved or anything; this was literally my actual everyday mind.

I was so used to compartmentalizing everything that I perceived; to create psychic gatekeepers that didn’t really need to be there but I didn’t know yet how to let them go. So it scared the hell out of me and eventually I decided to leave and go straight back to New York. He was extremely disappointed in me for leaving, because he didn’t want his practice to simply die out with him and he was old already,  but I couldn’t handle it at age 23.

Well, one thing I really loved about that whole experience, though, was how it felt to connect psychically to that Medicine Man. He was nearly 60 years older than me, but our minds completely connected. And even through my fear, I could feel how exhilarating that was and have always wished to connect with someone in that way again. Part of why I live alone is because that type of connection doesn’t happen and I refuse to live with a “reasonable facsimile” of it.

I know this is why I find this project with Peitor so enjoyable. Because we have a complete and total psychic connection when we’re working on one of our films together. It just feels so good. Mentally, I mean.

Okay, well, I suppose I should get busy here, tapping into the muse. You know, in about a week, those Conversations with Nick Cave are starting up again, this time all over Europe and most of them are sold out.

You know, I wish I had a ticket that was good for every conversation he’s gonna have for the rest of his life. I don’t think that’s too invasive, do you? Don’t mind me, I’m just here listening to everything you’re saying, for the rest of your life… They could put “Rapt Listener” on my tombstone and just forget about all the other stuff I’ve ever been.

All righty!! Have a terrific Sunday, wherever you are in the world, gang! Thanks for visiting. I have always loved this Native American chant, Yeha Noha (wishes of happiness and prosperity), so I leave it with you today! Enjoy. I love you, guys. See ya.

Hell, no! I’m Not F*cking Exhausted!

Why would I be? Just because I never stop working?

Well, I guess there is that. But yesterday wound up being really cool. I got some great work done on Chapter 21 of Blessed By Light. And then Peitor texted, wanting an impromptu phone conference on one of our scripts.

That turned into a 2 hour call but it was fascinating, actually. He had more notes on our “big” project. And even though I love all of our projects, that particular one is going to be much more complex and I really, really love it. I think it is just brilliant in its absurdity, even if I say so myself.

All of our projects are Absurdist and micro-short: 3-, 5-, and 8-minute videos. And while they’re scripted, and have characters, we focus more on the absurdity of the premise of the story and the set-up of the shots.

The one we’re working on right now (today, actually, in a couple of hours) is very Bauhaus in terms of how we plan the shots, but more “absurd” than creepy – I guess, that’s not the best word to use, but a lot of that Bauhaus photography has that sense of doom or drama or creepiness in it. We do use those elements, and we use uncomfortable juxtapositions, and even though there is always an underlying theme or plot, mostly we just want to make ourselves laugh. So that underscores everything.

I love the Absurdist sensibility. I was 15 or 16 when I first began reading Ionesco‘s plays (in English).  And that was like having a wild wind come sweeping in from the Cosmos or something. It blew open all the doors of my mind and let some fresh air in.

Those were such difficult years for me. And even though I was very interested in music, film, theater, and poetry of all kinds and they were literal life ropes for me, my inner world was in complete chaos. Once I was released from the Mental Hospital, my life just went into this really dark, restrictive, messed-up place.  And I think the Universe decided I was in the best frame of mind for discovering Ionesco.

I love words, in general. But I really love when words are used in an unexpected way. Whether that’s in a really intense way (like Nick Cave), or in that whole other arena of Ionesco,  it really just thrills me.  Even while Theater of the Absurd, going back to Ubu Roi I think, was more of an outcry against restrictive social mores and abusive governments, the nonsensical stuff it creates can be really funny.

Anyway. Today, Saturday, is the day when Peitor and I have our usual, scheduled, conference call, and that’s another 2 or 3 hours, but dealing with our current micro-short project. And it’s mostly just setting up the shots in a script format. (You’ll never guess who does all that typing…Ibuprofen, anyone?)

Peitor is very good friends with a woman who is very famous – but not at all famous for anything close to what our main character in our current short is like. And because of that, I really, really want her to “star” in the project (I use that word “star” so loosely, gang). It would just be so inexplicably incongruous for her to be in that role, even though she could totally play it, and that’s what I love about it; it would just be so absurd. Normally, she would say yes to something like that. She has the best sense of humor. However, she’s just had a really tragic death happen in her family, so she might not want to come back to work yet, in any role at all. We’ll see.

Yesterday, I also discovered by “accident” (I don’t believe in accidents or coincidences or any of that stuff, so….) but I discovered stuff all over the Internet about my Helen LaFrance play, Tell My Bones, that really startled me and just sort of put pressure on me to make that the best possible play that it can possibly be – and as soon as possible. And then also some other stuff has come up re: the TV project I’m still developing out in L.A., and so, yes… I’m exhausted, gang.

Yesterday, I actually heard myself saying, Marilyn, you need to take a vacation. Which was really weird, because I never tell myself that. What would I do? Go somewhere  tranquil with my laptop and write? I’m already doing that here in the peace of Crazeysburg. There is peace and quiet, solitude and beauty all around me, 24/7;  I’m the one who brings the insanity the minute I wake up. My mind simply never stops. So why go on a vacation? I have too many deadlines looming anyway.

But maybe someday, right, gang? Can you even imagine it; me on vacation? No laptop, no nothing; just me, maybe in a cabin on a lake, sitting and staring at all the wonder of God’s creations? I honestly just don’t know what that would be like.

What I am gonna do right now is try to collapse for a little bit, drink my coffee and wait for Peitor to wake-up there out in West Hollywood so that I can get back to work!!

Okay, have a wonderful Saturday, wherever you are in the world, gang. I leave you with this – the insanity I woke up with this morning at 5am: David Bowie singing Cracked Actor. Why on earth would I suddenly be thinking about a song that I haven’t listened to since like, 1973? And what a message it has! At age 59 (almost), a song like Cracked Actor has a whole different spin on it than how it felt when I was 13. What the heck was I dreaming about just before I woke up to make my mind be singing a song like that?

Actually, I was dreaming about Nick Cave. There was some sort of a code that you could put into the Internet somehow and then these really cool black & white video things of Nick Cave would come back at you, with another sort of personalized code.  In my dream, I was very excited by this, and I was waiting for my code to see what sort of video thing I would receive. And then in the middle of that, I woke up singing Cracked Actor and suddenly thinking about David Bowie. And my world was obviously completely back to normal so the day was underway…

Okay. Thanks for visiting! I love you, guys. See ya!

Do You Wake-Up Dreaming?

Or is it just the muse??

Wow, what an incredible morning. I awoke at 4am, just as the first birds were starting to sing. Now that all the windows in the house are open, the sound of the birds singing fills the whole house.

It’s so beautiful, because, by 5am, you can hear thousands of birds singing all at once.

Out here in Crazeysburg, there literally are no other sounds at this hour for many miles in all directions, except an occasional car (or the barrelling freight train with that awesome train-whistle scream, but that had already come through around 3am). The “peace in the valley” out here really highlights just how many birds there are. And it’s overwhelming when they all sing at once.

It’s one of the reasons why I don’t want to put air-conditioning into the house. Even though I had all the duct work and the furnace upgraded to handle air-conditioning. (The house is 118 years old, and didn’t even have electricity or indoor plumbing when it was first built.)  I can’t bear the thought of shutting out the sound of all those birds, or, as the summer goes on, the sound of the crickets and the cicadas.

The only time I even think about air-conditioning is when a heat wave comes through and my bedroom gets up to 102 degrees Fahrenheit and then in that soul-draining, mind-dulling, suffocating HEAT, I think, Why the FUCK haven’t I gotten this place air-conditioned yet??!!

But, anyway. I digress.

I awoke at 4am with the energy of the muses swirling all over me in the bed. It was breathtaking, really. It was such an erotic feeling. It made me think of how it might feel to spin a cocoon all around myself or something. Obviously, I don’t actually know if that would be an erotic sensation, having never spun a cocoon, but energetically, that’s what it brought to my mind. It was a really joyful feeling. Bordering on jubilation.

I have a feeling it’s going to be a really productive writing day if the muses are up and already so frisky at this hour.

The last thing I saw on Instagram last evening was a photo Dana Petty had posted of a butterfly landing on her thigh as she was sitting out in her garden. When I awoke today, in that incredible sort of erotic swoon, the first thing I thought of was that photo and it occurred to me that it was probably Tom Petty’s energy in that butterfly. Or his essence or something. Visiting her. Now that he’s off in the great beyond place, really “Learning to Fly.” That made me feel happy.

Loyal readers of this lofty blog no doubt recall that I usually meditate first thing in the morning, but recently I moved my meditation time to midday, right after lunch, and it seems to be helping me re-focus, or re-charge, in a more productive way.  And I come out of the meditations now inspired with a specific thing to do, so I get right back to work.

Yesterday, I came out of the meditation remembering that Peitor was waiting on me to send him a bunch of notes he’d lost on some scripts we were developing when I was in L.A. back in December. And I realized that all those notes were still in texts on my phone. So I went scrolling through 4 months of texts and got all those notes copied and sent to him, and then I remembered how, I don’t know, how sort of strange it was, when I was there in L.A. He was in his bed in the bedroom, I was on the futon in the living room, and we were texting each other script notes at 5am.

I mean, we could have easily spoken to each other if his bedroom door had been open. Yet we were texting. Still needing to communicate with each other even though neither one of us wanted to be out of bed yet; not wanting to commit, yet, to the day.

But what a great trip that was, oh my gosh. And I loved his apartment so much, the energy in it was so conducive to being creative. He used to have this great townhouse with a garden, by the corner of N. Fairfax and Sunset Boulevard. Then he and the guy he married got an apartment together right next door to the Sunset Marquis Hotel (which is such a cool hotel to hang out in),  and the new apartment is like straight out of 1967 or something like that. I didn’t think anything could be better than the townhouse was, but the new apartment is sort of magical – the energy inside it.

Plus, this trip, Peitor’s husband was off producing a TV show in Toronto, so we had the whole place to ourselves, which made us behave like unsupervised little kids or something.

That morning that he and I were texting at 5am, I had just discovered that Nick Cave’s The Ship Song sounded unbelievable in the earbuds of my new, upgraded iPhone and I was playing it over and over and over. It was mesmerizing, how good it sounded. I couldn’t believe I had waited so long to upgrade my iPhone. And the song had played “by accident.” I was listening to We Call upon the Author to Explain on Youtube, and I missed the repeat thing, and so The Ship Song suddenly came on and, it was like, Holy Fuck this sounds SO good!! It was like the Universe decided to suddenly give me this amazing gift, and the sun wasn’t even up yet. I had always loved that song, but this time I felt enveloped by it and the beauty of it was so powerfully overwhelming in those earbuds. And then I couldn’t stop playing it until Peitor finally came out of the bedroom.

So, you know, meditating midday not only helped me remember that Peitor needed those notes, but then all those beautiful memories unfolded, like a double gift from the Universe in the form of total recall.

Okay, well. I’m gonna get this day started over here. Chapter 21 in Blessed By Light awaits its erotic unveiling. I leave you with this really sexy little Tom Petty song from 1978, Casa Dega. I’ve been playing it down in my kitchen the last few mornings while having my breakfast. So, enjoy! It’s such a cool & sexy little song. Thanks for visiting, gang. I love you! See ya.

Well the clouds go by in the big blue sky
As the sun beats down on casa dega
And the moon pulls the tide and the tide brings night
But night is more than just a night in casa dega
Oh baby now I think I’m starting to believe the things that I’ve heard
Cause tonight in casa dega I hang on every word
That she said to me as she holds my hand
And reads the lines of a stranger
Yeah and she knows my name yeah she knows my plan

In the past in the present and for the future

Oh honey now I think I’m starting to believe the things that I’ve heard
Cause tonight in casa dega I hang on every word

That she said…

Baby fools pay the price of a whisper in the night in casa dega
Time rolls by, night is only night, can I save you?

Yeah more than just a night…

The Inexplicable Explained

I keep thinking about that comment I made on my post this morning about how I “inexplicably” moved to California in 1979.

It’s not like I woke up in California and couldn’t explain how I’d gotten there. What was inexplicable is why I had thought it was a good idea to go there in the first place.

I moved there because I was in love with a  girl who lived there. And she kept calling me long-distance , which was expensive back then, saying, “come on, come on, come out here!” So I finally hopped a Greyhound bus and went.

It was the worst possible idea. I had been in love with her since I was 15 and she was 16. She was living briefly in Ohio when we met. She was my first real girlfriend. The first girl I had sex with, and I was crazy about her. I was very, very attached to her, and I would do anything she said.

But, truly, she was nothing but trouble and full of bad ideas, and every single solitary time we did one of her bad ideas, we got caught. And for some reason, her stepdad hated me and thought that I was instigating everything.

And oddly enough, there was another older girl that I was very close with, but not in love with, who also had all sorts of bad ideas that I would go along with. And with her, we actually got arrested and taken to jail in handcuffs and a cruiser. When her father came to the precinct to get her, the only thing keeping him from killing me was the fact that we were, in fact, in a police station.

For some reason, he also really hated me and thought that everything his daughter did was my fault.

But that first girl, the one I was in love with and eventually moved to California for – she persuaded me to steal a car with her.  I didn’t care about cars, I didn’t know how to drive yet, I thought it was a dumb idea to steal a car, but we did it anyway and boy did we get caught. By the Sheriff. And I already had that arrest, mentioned above, on my record so I was looking at Grand Theft Auto and a couple years in Reform School.

I wrote on the blog once before about how it feels when a Sheriff, at 3 o’clock in the morning, all dressed in black, with his badge, and those guns in his holster, says, “Girls, you’re in big trouble”  — it really resonates. For a lifetime.

Thank God the man who owned the car dropped the charges. But my girlfriend’s stepdad was so angry, he had her sent to a boarding school clear across the country so that she and I could not ever get up to anything crazy again.

So when she persuaded me to move to California, even though I was 19 already and she was 20, I should have known better. I should have known it would be a fiasco from the start. And it was. She met me at the bus station with her new boyfriend. Her fucking boyfriend. And she said, “This is Ray. I’ve told him all about you and I’ve assured him that it’s over between us.”

Wow. I will never forget that moment, those words. They also resonated for a lifetime.

It had taken 5 days to get to California from Ohio in February – the dead of winter, where a lot of roads out West were impassable. I had run completely out of money halfway there and I was starving.

Ray was really nice to me, though. Extremely kind and cordial. He was a lot older than us and he knew I was in love with his girlfriend and that she had lured me into some sort of wild goose chase. He let me stay there  with them for 2 weeks, until I decided that I wasn’t gonna stay In California, after all.

So that was my inexplicable California trip. My New York City trip in 1980 was just so much better. I stayed in NYC almost 30 years.

But I think a whole chapter of my memoir, Dirty Girl Beautiful Mind, will be devoted to the crazy girls I was in love with in my teens, and why on earth everybody’s fathers were always thinking that everything was my fault. I think they were projecting, you know? Something, like, Wow, I hope I don’t meet that girl in 10 years because she’s gonna be nothing but trouble for me. Perhaps it’s best if we just squash her right now.

But I didn’t want to be squashed. A conundrum, indeed.

Man, those fathers made my life so difficult.

Okay, maybe I was never THIS angelic…