Tag Archives: marilyn jaye lewis

Don’t Worry, I Don’t Believe You Anyway!

I’ve noticed that people post a lot of lists these days.  Their favorite this and their favorite that.

On Instagram, for instance, Magic Johnson has been posting excessive lists: His Top 60 favorite things of everything in the world. You know, like: “My Top 60 Female R & B Singers” and stuff like that (wherein, I did not even know there were that many female R&B singers, so that was cool).

But anyway.

I am not a list-maker. Lists take time, and contemplation, and consideration. And I think that we all know that, since I basically don’t even have time to think about what I want to eat anymore, I certainly don’t have time to make random lists.

I only make lists when I go to the local dollar store, otherwise I will go in needing important things, like soap, and come out with things like this instead:

Really cool little plastic pineapple that glows in all different colors

And then I go home and, later, I get in the shower and find no soap and think, fuck!!!

So I make those kinds of lists. And I try like heck to remember to look at the fucking list while I’m still in the store, so that I’m not back home in the soap-less shower again, thinking, fuck!!!!

But this morning, I was thinking about Johnny Cash again, and from there, I started thinking about all the female Country & Western singers that I absolutely loved as a little girl and of course I began to consider that pattern, which was so prevalent in female C&W songs back in my wee bonny girlhood, which is that: Men lie like dogs and will just break your heart and fuck you up and they drink too much and will run around on you and leave you and yet you love them to death anyway and cannot live without them, as hard as you might try, so don’t be surprised if you just end up alone in a bar someday, drunk.

And I thought back on all my truly favorite songs by female C & W singers when I was a little girl, and I saw this said pattern in the songs that were indeed my favorites. And I wondered why these songs had appealed to me so much when I was little, and also wondered if those songs had any real impact on how I experienced the opposite sex as I was growing up.

I came to the conclusion this morning that those songs were nothing but absolutely 100% correct. And of course they influenced (or fell completely in line with) how I felt about men.

And by that, I mean, that I always fell for the worst possible guys. The loners who, if they weren’t already in trouble with the law, would be within the next 5 minutes. Guys who drank and smoked and took drugs and worked on cars or worked construction and hung out in the kind of bars that were actually dangerous. And they loved to have sex.

By the time I was in my late teens, I could see a guy like that coming from 5 miles away and I would be boarding that train by the time he arrived in the station, you know?

But the weird twist was that I was just like those guys. I wasn’t some girl who didn’t know any better, or who would try to get them to behave differently or anything like that. I loved going to cheap motels, drinking whisky, having sex. I honestly always loved doing that. But I always had a mind of my own; I always had my own plans, my own dreams. For instance, I knew from age 7 that I wanted to get the hell out of Dodge and go to New York City when I “grew up.” (Which turned out to be at age 20.)

Unlike the C&W songs, I didn’t want to get married and settle down. And from the start, I didn’t trust guys any further than I could throw them. I always just assumed that when they were out of my field of vision, they were up to things I didn’t want to know about so I didn’t ask.

But it didn’t mean that I didn’t actually love them. I sure as hell did. If I fell for a guy, I fell body & soul.

Still,  I could not understand why that meant I had to give up my dreams and get married, settle down. (Even guys in trouble with the law want to get married and settle down.) It didn’t make any sense to me.

So regardless of which guy it was, we would always end up fighting like the proverbial cats & dogs because I wouldn’t do what I was expected to do (settle down), and I’d end up leaving, breaking it off because I didn’t want to be owned.  Even though it meant I was leaving with a truly broken heart. I really was.

Right before I left for NYC, at age 20, I adopted this sort of personal policy: If ever I saw a guy like that coming my way, ever again, I would walk the other way and let the train ride on past. I wasn’t boarding any more of those trains.

And it was kind of easy to stick to my policy. Because the kind of guy I really went for was usually that “hillbilly mix” — meaning a mixed heritage of German/Irish/Cherokee and decidedly rural. There were guys like that in NYC (usually transplanted musicians from Kentucky or someplace like that), but I would try like heck to steer clear of them.

I wound up going out with really amazing men, from all over the world — marrying a couple of them, too. But I would never allow myself to really fall in love with any of them.

And the one time I did, when I let my guard down when I was 40, and fell absolutely in love, trying like hell not to fall in love; when we finally got together in a cheap motel room in the Bronx, when I finally knew for certain, in my heart, that I had truly fallen in love with a guy, for the first time in over 20 years — you know, we’re in that bed, he’s got on his gold chains, his gold rings, his gold watch, his tattoo, his amazingly beautiful eyes, and he’s lighting a cigarette and he says, “I have something I better tell you right now, honey.”

He was fresh out of Riker’s, awaiting trial, looking at 15 years minimum for attempted murder. “But it wasn’t really like that,” he added. “The other guy had it coming.” He and I lasted about 5 years…until he gambled away all my money.

Yeah, well. It’s sufficient to say I live alone now and have for 15 years.

Here’s my fucking list.

And last but by no means least:

Ever since you left me, I’ve done nothing but wrong
Many nights I’ve laid awake and cried
We were so happy, my heart was in a whirl
But now I’m a honky tonk girl

So turn that jukebox way up high
And fill my glass up while I cry
I’ve lost everything in this world
And now I’m a honky tonk girl

[Verse 2]
I just can’t make a right with all of my wrongs
Every evening of my life seems so long
I’m sorry and ashamed for all these things you see
But losing him has made a fool of me

So fill my glass up to the rim
To lose my memory of him
I’ve lost everything in this world
And now I’m a Honky Tonk Girl

c – 1960 Loretta Lynn

Man. Time is Really Just Killin’ Me, Gang!!!

I don’t know if it’s like this all over the world, but in the Eastern region of America, the full moon in August is always pretty spectacular. It’s just huge and sort of rose-tinted.

Last evening, the full moon here in Muskingum County was also surrounded by puffs of clouds, so it was really incredible to look at.  And here in my own backyard, my neighbors (the drummer) have enormous old pine trees and for awhile, the full moon was shining through the tops of the pines down into my huge kitchen window.

It really was just so pretty. But bittersweet, too, since mid-August means that the summer is sort of galloping to a close.

I have spent the entire summer at my desk. I didn’t even get to the movies to see “Once Upon A Time in Hollywood,” which I really wanted to see. But the movie theater is 45 minutes away from me. So that’s an hour and a half of driving, plus a 2-hour movie… I just never managed to make time.

The director texted me yesterday that he’s extended his stay here in the Hinterlands of Ohio until the end of August so that he can be here to  meet with me pretty constantly until I get this play finished.  So I really, really, really gotta get this play finished. (Not that I was doing anything else other than that at all.)

And I still haven’t told Sandra about the extent of these revisions. I’ve only told her that I’m bringing back some of the earlier elements and that this time it’s working out really well.  Which is such an indescribable understatement of what is really happening, that now I don’t even know how to explain it to her. Plus, I have no idea when we’re supposed to go to Toronto regarding the other play; all I know is that the meeting will yield an enormous amount of rewrites for the other play.

I just want to be ready. So I’m just sort of in this weird world of constantly working so that I can be “ready.” Whatever the heck that really means.

Yesterday, I passed by my couch in the family room on my way to the stairs — I have an extremely comfortable couch in the family room. The kind you could easily sleep on all night and not wake up feeling like you’d slept on a couch all night. I passed by this same couch yesterday afternoon and realized that I had not so much as sat down on it in probably a year. So I sat down on it for about 60 seconds and remembered fondly all the many fantastic British crime dramas I used to watch while hanging out on the comfy couch! Not working! Sometimes even snacking! Sometimes even ordering in a pizza!!!!

That seems like somebody else’s life!

And also yesterday, I wanted some apple cider vinegar because my sinuses were bothering me because of allergies, and the cupboard that it was in was stuck shut because of the humidity. I hadn’t opened that particular cupboard in ages. I really had to yank it to get it to open. And once I did, it really was like the cupboard from yesteryear! In that one cupboard, at least, time had stopped!

All those herbs and spices and grains and different types of oils and vinegars and organic this and organic that. I was spellbound, just staring at it all. My god. I used to cook!!! All the time!!!

Now, all I do is work and I barely eat and the months disappear.

And I so much want to go with Kara to that cabin in the caves with the hot tub, but I can’t see it happening until the summer is basically over. That’s so disappointing.

But we will eventually get there.

It just is what it is for now.  I’m really just so thrilled with how the play is finally going that all I really want to do is just let it come out.

Still, it’s scary how time is flying. And I know that my whole body is intensely stressed, even though I’m doing my yoga 4-5 times a week. I never relax anymore unless I’m collapsing into bed. The thought of collapsing on the couch instead, with a pizza (??!!) and bingeing on episodes of DCI Somebody or Other??!! My god how fun!!

Well, someday.

Meanwhile.  Yes. I have to get to work on the play here. I would leave you with what I was listening to but you can’t actually get it on YouTube, so I’ll just say I was playing a lot of phenomenal Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers live bootleg stuff from the early 1980s, really, really loud. It was fun, but you’ll just have to take my word for it.  (And, btw, the new Tropical Fuck Storm CD, Braindrops, will be released next week. I am really eager to hear that. What I’ve heard from it so far, I have really just loved. Especially that song, “Paradise.”)

All right, well. Thanks for visiting, gang. I hope you have a really fun Friday! Go take a vacation for me or something, okay?? Okay! I love you guys! See ya.

Enjoy that full moon, all you owls & pussycats!

The Thrill of All This Fucked-Up-Ness!!

I don’t know, but when I need to feel sort of “at peace” with where I am in life, vintage illustrations really do it for me. They calm me down. I like to ponder them.

They instantly propel me into thoughts of: Wow, remember when life in America was like this? So much simpler…everyone was happy

I know. Life was never like this. I mean, look at the size of that trailer, for one thing. The only way that many Americans, from 3 generations no less, would be happy living in a trailer that size would be if all of them were on prescription medication, 24/7.

But it’s fun to dream, right?

I mean, I’m really happy with my house — I love my house. It’s the first real home, emotionally, that I’ve ever had. And I love this town. I love being in the middle of peaceful nowhere.

However, if you’ve been reading this blog for any amount of time, you can readily see that a really long line of fucked-up-ness is trailing after me. And through relentless trial & error (i.e., living my life), it became apparent that things go better for me when I’m left alone.

And, of course, being left alone is often really lonely. But at the same time, when I’m hanging out alone not attempting suicide, I get a lot more done.

But, man. What a lot of fucked-up adults in that apartment complex, right? And nobody leaving me alone for a minute. The only people leaving me alone were my parents. They had no clue what was happening to me in that apartment complex. My mom would put in appearances in order to be really abusive and frightening, but otherwise, she was off in the world, finding herself. Like every other divorced woman of that era, it seems. And by then, my dad didn’t  live in the same town as us anymore.

But I don’t think he would have given a shit anyway. Nothing really registered with him when it came to me. His whole life was consumed with hating my mother. That’s all he could see back then.

He would come to town once a month to take me out, and in order to piss off my mother, he would take me to these really violent, inappropriate movies for a young girl to see. Things like Walking Tall and Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia. It wasn’t just that these movies were extremely violent, they had violence against women in them that was horrifying to me. I was traumatized by those movies because I absolutely did not know how to process that type of violence against women. It was all new to me and just terrifying. I would come home from those movies, and just hide in my room for hours.

But all my dad cared about was how pissed off my mom would be when she’d find out which movie he’d taken me to this time. And when the sexual assaults started to actually happen to me (in that same horrible apartment complex) my dad was the last person it would have occurred to me to go to for help. I didn’t go to anybody, actually.  I couldn’t figure out who on Earth would care.

After Greg died and the actual rapes began happening — I was just a dead girl walking, really.

Yesterday, after I posted about the sleeping pill problem and the mental hospital, I remembered how, once I was finally released several months later, I went back to my room at home and everything in there was exactly as I had left it when they’d scurried me away. Nothing had been touched. Flushing all those pills down the toilet was completely unnecessary (although it was a good thing that I’d done it, because I didn’t have them waiting for me when I got out).

But yesterday, that just seemed so sad to me. If it had been my kid — or anyone at all that I loved or cared about — I would have gone through every single thing in that room; trying to figure out who that person really was, what had gone so wrong that she would try to kill herself.

I had journals in there, too. Things were written down. Nobody bothered to look. For my mother, it was like: close the door; she’s someone else’s problem now.

The thing that would just enrage me, even at that young age, was that I had been taken away from my “real” mother only to be put into all of that. Even though, at that time, I didn’t know my mother had only been 13 when I was born, what I was told was that she “loved me but wasn’t able to take care of me” so she had to give me up.

I guarantee you, all I heard in that explanation was that my real mother loved me…

(And many years later, when I finally found her, it was the very first thing that I discovered that was absolutely true: She loved me more than life itself, really.)


Yesterday also yielded some really cool new pages in the play. It took several hours for them to finally come out of me. It was one of those days where I would sit at the desk, agonize, clutch my hair a bit. Get up, walk around the room. Sit back down at the desk.

I fumbled with that unlit Pall Mall I always have at my desk now. And I kept looking at it, wondering: if I lit it and smoked it, would the words finally come? (I didn’t light it. I never do.)

And then, all of the sudden, around 3pm, it all began tumbling out. Some of it, I’d had no clue I was getting ready to write! Some of it was disturbing, yet I still knew it was good. And I wondered, where the heck did that come from?

The process of writing can just be so strange. You wait for it and wait for it, and when it comes out, you look at it and go: wow, who the heck are you?

The main segment I wrote yesterday (something I knew I was going to write, it just took me forever to find my way into it) involves Helen going back 10 years or so in her mind and spending time with her adult grandson before he dies, and then she goes back another 25 years and goes fishing with that same grandson as a little boy but her adult grandson, now dead, comes back as a ghost and is fishing with them and they’re all having a great time fishing at the river even though Helen and the young grandson can’t see the ghost, and then the entire cast of characters — because we’re still in Helen’s dream, where she’s alive inside one of her own paintings and all the people she loves who have died are alive again in the painting  — all those characters sing a really jubilant & rambunctious version of the old slave spiritual, “Down By the Riverside.”

Are you following that? Do you see why maybe a lit cigarette could help?

But I got through it!! And I was really happy with the results. (And the director texted this morning that he “loved, loved, loved it.”)

So! Onward, right, gang??

All right.

Another bright spot I want to mention before I close this today. For 2 mornings in a row, 2 of my rescued feral cats — Huckleberry and Doris — have let me (very briefly) pet them!

This is the first time I’ve been able to touch them since Daddycakes died. It made me really happy.

Okay. I’ll leave you with this. For some reason, I just love listening to all these little kids singing the old slave songs. I like it much better than the adult choirs, because the adults just get complicated and fussy. All right. I love you guys. Thanks for visiting. See ya!

The Gentle Joys of Summer!!

After my little trip down memory lane to Arkansas, in yesterday’s post, I spent a lot of time thinking about Johnny Cash.

He was a huge part of my wee bonny girlhood, on up through my entire adult life. I loved Johnny Cash.

In Cleveland, in the era that I grew up in, radio stations would play all kinds of music. You didn’t tune to one specific station to hear a certain type of music you liked. Each station played everything, although Cleveland was a huge rock & roll city, so there was a lot of that on the radio. But they also played Country — the old style, or what I would call actual Country music: Country & Western.

So in my childhood, I was exposed to a lot of Country music. On the radio on the school bus, for instance, The Doors singing “Light My Fire,” would be followed by Merle Haggard singing “I’m Proud to be an Okie from Muskogee.”

And Johnny Cash was just huge; he was so popular. “A Boy Named Sue” — we were all just little kids, and we’d all sing along to that on the school bus! Really gleefully, we’d all shout out: “My name is SUE!! How do you do!!”

I adored that song he sang with June, “Jackson.” Still love that song. And for a while he had that variety show on TV that I just loved.

By the time I was 11, we moved to Columbus –a town I have never, ever been fond of, but I did like that in Columbus there was even more Country & Western on the radio than there’d been up in Cleveland.

Literally, Lou Reed’s “Walk on the Wild Side” would be followed up with Jeanne Pruett singing “Satin Sheets.” (I totally loved that song! Here it is, in fact! This song was probably the main reason why I grew up believing that rich men were never gonna be good in bed. ) (I won’t say whether or not that ended up being true… you decide.)

But after we moved to Columbus, I got to do that truly awesome thing that happened every August: Attend the Ohio State Fair!!

Back then, the fair was a really big deal.  It took place during the last couple weeks of summer, so it meant that all your summer dreams & summer loves were coming to an end.  And the midway was lit up at night with all those amusement rides and there was all that food that was so bad for you. And everything just felt electrifying because you knew the summer was as a good as over and pretty soon you’d be back in school (which I hated — I absolutely hated school. I just wanted to sit in my room and play records or play my guitar).

The other thing the Ohio State Fair was known for, though, was its live entertainment. And the very first time I got to go to the fair, the summer when I was 11, guess who was playing there that night? Johnny Cash!

Oh my god, I wanted to see him so badly. But it was already late, the sun had gone down. My dad just wanted to go home.

There was a huge cement wall, the back-end of where all the seats were for the audience to sit in, and it blocked the actual stage from the midway, but you could hear perfectly. I remember standing outside that huge wall, the lights of the midway all lit up all around me, the sky beyond us black, and then the audience just roared, you know? Just roared. Their excitement was not to be believed. And then the jangly country guitar kicked in and I actually heard him shout, “Hello! I’m Johnny Cash!” and the audience went crazy.

And I couldn’t fucking see anything and I wanted so badly to go inside! My dad was dragging me by my arm, “Marilyn, come on, we’re going to the car!” I had tears in my eyes; I was begging him — and I was not a kid who ever begged for anything, ever. But I was begging my dad, “Please! I want to see Johnny Cash!”

“You’re not going to see Johnny Cash!” (I was too young to know then that Johnny Cash audiences consisted more of hard-drinking, chain-smoking, shit-kicking rowdy adults, and not shy 11-year-old girls.)

I really was devastated.

By then, at age 11, my favorite Johnny Cash song was “Folsom Prison Blues” recorded live at Folsom Prison. I had the single and I played it all the time and knew every word and every single guitar note on that record and every single place where the audience would cheer and holler.

(I knew he was singing in a prison, but I still thought of them as an “audience.”)

I loved Johnny Cash all through my life, even his Christian phase. I guess he was always a Christian, but he found Jesus and dropped drugs at one point and sang a lot of songs that were more in that vein for awhile.

When I was in the mental hospital, I had a serious drug problem. Sleeping pills — at my worst point, before I attempted suicide & was then put into the mental hospital, I could take as many as 15 sleeping pills in a day and still be walking around. I had built up a tolerance to them, you know. Nowadays, if I took 15 sleeping pills in a day, I would be dead pretty darn quickly.

By age 14, I started getting an endless supply of the pills for “free” — meaning that a sleazy dentist whose kids I used to babysit for, illegally kept thousands of secobarbitals in huge jugs in his upstairs linen closet. He was married but he was fucking around with my best friend, who was 16 at the time and also one of his babysitters (this was when we were all living in that 1970s swinging-sex apartment complex place that I blogged about recently) and part of getting us to not spill the beans to his wife that he was fucking one of the babysitters was giving us a massive amount of free drugs.

Married men did this a lot back then — maybe they still do it, I don’t know. But the wife would make plans to go out somewhere, and the husband would make plans to go out somewhere, so they’d need to hire a babysitter. But as soon as the wife was safely off doing her thing, the husband would circle back home and hit on the babysitter.

It happened to all of us babysitting-girls in the apartment complex. It happened to me, too, but it always totally creeped me out.  I knew exactly what was going on when the guys would suddenly “be home” but I would just play dumb. I’d say things, like, “Well, since you’re home now, I guess I can I go.” Once I left without getting paid because the guy really, really wanted me to stay and I just wanted to get the fuck out of there. Another time, I actually gave a man my 16-year-old girl friend’s phone number and told him to call her because I knew she didn’t mind fucking any of those guys & would come right over. And both of them — my girlfriend and the man whose kids I had just been babysitting — said, “Wow, thanks!”

I’m serious.

(If you’re too young to have been a teenager in the 1970s, I assure you it was off-the-charts fucked-up, because all the “adults” all over the whole fucking country were trying to “figure themselves out” at the very same time.)

I was told I was being taken to a mental hospital about 5 minutes before they told me to get in the car. You know, they sprang it on me so that I couldn’t run away. They told me to grab some clothes and that was it. But before I left my bedroom, in a total panic, I flushed hundreds of those pills down the toilet. I already had one arrest on my criminal record and I was afraid that if they found those pills while I was gone, I’d be sent to Reform School after the mental hospital…

I think you can see that my life was getting pretty awful and my range for reasoning was getting pretty narrow.

However, while in the hospital, I had to attend “school.” We will not discuss what school was like in a mental hospital.  But one afternoon, they made us listen to a tape recording of Johnny Cash urging us to not take drugs.

He talked about his life of pill-taking and how fucked up it had made his life. At his worst, he took something like 98 amphetamine tablets a day, and except for the fact that I was taking pills that put me in the other direction, I could totally relate to what he was saying. And after that, I really tried hard to not take any more pills. I really did. It took about ten more years to truly be able to stop all  the drugs, but I was at least trying after that. I really was. I didn’t trust any adults, at all, except a couple of my English teachers. So I never went to anyone for any kind of help. I always just tried to figure out my problems on my own.

But that’s how much I loved Johnny Cash. Because of him, I tried really hard to stop taking drugs. I did.

When I was in my 30s, in NYC, I finally got to see Johnny Cash live. He played at the Ritz, but this was when they’d moved the Ritz to the old Studio 54 space in midtown Manhattan.

He was older by then, of course, but Parkinson’s had not set in yet. He could still sing and play that guitar like nobody’s business. The incredible Marty Stuart (who was still his son-in-law at that point, I think) played in the band. It was an incredible show. I cried when he finally sang “Folsom Prison Blues” and I realized that I was a lot closer to him, standing there by the stage at the Ritz, then I would have been back in the bleachers at the Ohio State Fair. How cool, right?

Well, okay!! My meeting with the director yesterday was so good, gang. Just really, really good. And I need to get started on the rest of the play now. I have a lot of really complicated stuff to tackle in the current segment that I’m in.

Plus, there’s a new Red Hand Files newsletter from Nick Cave in my inbox!! So I need to go read that!

Have a wonderful Wednesday, wherever you are in the world!! Thanks for visiting, gang. I know you know what I’m leaving you with today!! Enjoy!! I love you guys. See ya!

“Folsom Prison Blues”

I hear the train a comin’
It’s rolling round the bend
And I ain’t seen the sunshine since I don’t know when
I’m stuck in Folsom prison, and time keeps draggin’ on
But that train keeps a rollin’ on down to San Antone

When I was just a baby my mama told me, “Son
Always be a good boy, don’t ever play with guns”
But I shot a man in Reno just to watch him die
When I hear that whistle blowing, I hang my head and cry

I bet there’s rich folks eating in a fancy dining car
They’re probably drinkin’ coffee and smoking big cigars
Well I know I had it coming, I know I can’t be free
But those people keep a movin’
And that’s what tortures me

Well if they freed me from this prison
If that railroad train was mine
I bet I’d move it on a little farther down the line
Far from Folsom prison, that’s where I want to stay
And I’d let that lonesome whistle blow my blues away

c – 1955 Johnny Cash

I’m Sorry, I Just Couldn’t Help It

I went googling for something entirely different, and that image came up and it sorta made my day…

(Yes! The title for my memoirs!!)

(No, I have no clue why I’m so immature, gang. Part of my questionable charm, I suppose.)


I had such a hard night.

Every so often the full moon stuff makes it impossible for me to sleep.  And last night, I really, really wanted to get a good night’s sleep because I got nothing new written on the play, even though I was at it until about 8pm last night. My brain just couldn’t focus. The residual of the migraine was still lurking all evening.

I felt like I was laying in bed for hours, just trying to let go of being human. Become some sort of empty vessel that just fills with sleep, you know? Instead, I was filling up with memories, that led to more & more memories.

It was during an August full moon in 1989 that my dad and I (my birth father) had a huge thingy on the phone and nothing was ever the same again between us after that.

I had been having a really hard time sleeping that night, too, because of a full moon, and then he called me on the phone. (He lived out in the desert in Nevada, and I lived in NYC, so it was still kind of early where he was.)

I was 28, he was 43. We were in love, but unlike my uncle and his daughter, we did not become incestuous. We came very, very close to it that summer, alone out there in his trailer in the middle of the desert, but somehow some sort of weird sanity prevailed. Nevertheless, we were still in love, and that night during the full moon in August, was the night he couldn’t take it anymore — the whole deadend street-ness of it all.

I’m not gonna ever forget that phone conversation. I’ve blogged about it before, but I’m not gonna go into it now. It was very disturbing, very sad.

Anyway. He didn’t actually stop speaking to me until several years later, when he was dying from cancer.  So then I remembered that Wayne and I (after we were married) went out to see my dad in Nevada, back in 1993.

And then I remembered that Wayne and I drove into Virginia City one day, by ourselves, and walked around. We went into the original Bucket of Blood Saloon (still standing  & still in business since 1875). We saw the famous Suicide Table, which had the losing poker hand spread out there, eternally.

The whole thing was really cool. I don’t know if it’s the same Bucket of Blood from “Stagger Lee” fame, but it is the original historic saloon from Old West days.

So then I wondered if we had taken any photos inside the saloon. Wayne was an avid picture taker (this was long before smart phones).  So I got out of bed and actually looked through old photos. But all I could find was a photo from the old Virginia City graveyard. (It was really cool.)

And then I also found a photo he took of me on our Honeymoon — on the Mississippi River! I had forgotten all about that. We were leaving Elvis territory in Memphis, heading into Johnny Cash territory in Arkansas…

Me on the Mississippi River in 1993, after we left Memphis. We were somewhere in Arkansas.

I remember that everything we ate in Arkansas tasted really good but absolutely everything was deep-fried. Wayne’s paternal family was from Arkansas, so a lot of his childhood was spent there.

This was his grandfather’s grocery store back in the 1920s. It had been abandoned for decades, but was still just standing there, outside of Paragould, Arkansas.

Wayne’s grandpa’s grocery store from the 1920s, in Arkansas. Photo taken in 1993.

We stayed in this really wonderful motel (tacky, run down; I think it cost about $17 a night), in Paragould, AR.  It’s heyday was long gone. It had a built-in swimming pool that was cracked and empty and had been, forever. The chain link fence surrounding it was nothing but rust. You could tell that, at one point, it had been a really ideal place.

When I wrote the short story “Til Death” many years later, in my mind, I placed it at that old rundown motel in Paragould. (The story is up there in The Vault section of the blog. It’s a story about a woman facing the onset of middle-age after her husband has been executed for murder. It’s erotic, though, so here’s the  disclaimer: Contains sexually explicit material and non-eroticized themes of rape, murder, and execution that could be upsetting to some readers.)

I guess, you know, looking over all this stuff, it’s no wonder I couldn’t get to sleep.

I also remembered that it was in another very tacky, cheap motel room on that same trip that I first heard Tish Hinojosa sing her haunting song, “Closer Still.”

I love a lot of her songs, but that one has always been my favorite. And suddenly, last night, I vividly recalled hearing it for the first time, while sitting on a bed, late at night, in some really cheap motel somewhere in the depths of America, with Wayne.

I was absolutely spellbound by Tish’s voice; by that song. Of course it made me think of Greg, and everything I ever lost that I had ever loved.

Time stopped for me the first time I heard that song. So, of course, I had to look it up on YouTube and lie in my bed in the dark, 26 years later, and break my heart all over again…

Eventually I fell asleep, but a really loud train went through and then rains came. I don’t know. Rough night.

And now, I really, really gotta get at it because I have a meeting with the director later this afternoon!!!!! Aaaarrrrrgh…. MUST GET COFFEE!!

Thanks for visiting, gang. I’m guessing you know what I’m gonna leave you with today! Have a terrific Tuesday, wherever you are in the world. I love you guys. See ya!

Closer Still

Closer still than e’er my arms have held you
Or the beating rhythm of my heart
I belong to you in frozen memories
And framed in gold is my desire

Closer still than starlight soft upon you
For though a million shine tonight
Deep inside is where one lonely forgotten
Dream is waiting here, closer still

Closer still is every word that takes me
To the fire burnin’ without end
In the moonlight pale a song is sayin’
That time will find us back again

Closer still our shadows must be swayin’
For I can almost hear you say
Deep inside is where one lonely forgotten
Dream is waiting here, closer still

c – 1992 Tish Hinojosa

Me + Migraine + Aspirin + Caffeine =???

Sorry for the delay in arriving here today.

As the heading might indicate, I was struggling with a headache. The type of headache that makes me indescribably irritable.

One of those migraines that starts as a brightly-colored geometric pattern in front of one eye. It slides around, making it really difficult to see (i.e., laptop screens). And I have discovered over time that if I can get aspirin into me as soon as the shapes appear, I can cut the accompanying headache off at the pass…

But I didn’t want to take aspirin because I have a lot of work to do on the play today and I have a meeting with the director tomorrow and he’s going back to NYC in a few days and I wanted this draft done — done done done done done — before he went back to NYC,  and aspirin actually makes me really sleepy.

So I decided that I would just ignore the brightly-colored geometric pattern in front of one eye as it slid around, and then the accompanying headache would simply never materialize.

Yes, that would be the self-same headache that always, without fail, 100% of the previous times, for years, has accompanied that fucking brightly-colored geometric pattern in front of one eye…

Since, obviously, ignoring it didn’t work, I finally compromised and went out in a whirlwind of pain & frustrated anger and bought low-dose baby aspirin and then drank a truckload of coffee… and guess what?

It worked!!! The headache put in a very brief appearance and then went away and I’m not sleepy at all.

That said, though, it’s already 3:30 in the afternoon so I’ll probably be here at my desk until 10 o’clock tonight, trying to recoup the lost time.  We’ll see. The feedback from the director re: my most recent revisions was really, really just so wonderful. So, I don’t really mind sitting here eternally, working on this play. Eventually, it’ll be worth it.

Here’s something really interesting that happened last evening. It was out on that magical highway over here, the one I’ve talked about before, where the Spirits are just off-the-charts interactive.

I was coming home with groceries, it was almost dark out, and for some reason, there was actually traffic on the highway. (By “traffic” I mean maybe 10 cars, but still. That’s 8 more cars then there usually are.) I was in the fast lane (of course) and a car cut right in front of me and had the nerve to go the actual speed limit (which is 70 mph, but I usually drive 95mph).

But I decided to myself: you know, it’s a really beautiful evening; the moon is almost full, the stars look awesome. I’m just gonna chill and hang out here behind this guy and go the speed limit for, like, the first time ever.

And then, lo & behold, up around the bend, for the first time ever, there sat the Muskingum County Sheriff. All bright and bold and beautiful.

Oh my god!! It was just too cool!! I felt so fucking blessed, you know? Like that guy who cut in front of me was sent from heaven! I always speed out here because the Sheriff is never around. But I also always pray to St. Francis and St. Christopher and to whoever else might be listening, before I ever get into my car… I really think it works.

Also, today, when I went to get the baby aspirin, I had to go a round-about way because they’re painting new lines on the main road. I went out over by the old Canal Rd., which is all farms and trees and hills and just so pretty.  (The old Ohio – Erie Canal used to run through this town back in the 1820s or something like that. There was a lock here and everything.) And the sky is so blue right now. I wanted to stop and take a picture to post on the blog, but I had such a fucking headache by then that I wasn’t really able to process the idea of stopping the car.

Anyway. It was lovely. And I just feel so blessed to be living out here.

Okay, gang. I’m gonna cut this short and get to work on the play now. Thanks for visiting.  I leave you with 2 things. One: an old photo of the Ohio & Erie Canal.

Image result for old erie canal in muskingum county ohio

And, two: the song I was absolutely blasting on “repeat” in my little Honda Fit last evening when I had my blessed non-event with the Muskingum County Sheriff!

All righty!! I love you guys! See ya!

Mi mancano i bagagli!

Si! I am learning some very important things now in Italian!

“I am missing some luggage!” “I would like a dessert!” “She never walks in the park!” “There is a party here!” “The butterfly is beautiful!” “Can I help you?!” “At what time is lunch?!”

(Of course, the exclamation points are mine — added to just give you the feel of the overall excitement here.)

Actually, though, I am starting to learn things. Meaning, of course, not just phrases but also the dreaded grammar.  The Mondly app, honestly, is really fun. (I’m still thinking, though, that my extensive studies in French help enormously, plus I’ve also studied Spanish and Portuguese, so I’m not really sure what the app feels like if you have no exposure to a Romance language.)

I have not yet sprung any of my meager Italian on Peitor, though. Since he is fluent in Italian, he might go off on a spree and leave me sputtering in the dust. And even while it’s fun to actually be learning Italian after all these years (since I first studied it and gave up), I do really wish that my dearest friend, the fluent-in-Italian-Peitor, was coming to Perugia with me.

Not that I have ever been one who wants to stand behind some sort of wildly capable man and then simply follow; in this instance, I would be 100% okay with it!! You bet’cha!!

However, he has already assured me — in rather excellent English — that he is not coming to Perugia to simply hold my hand (and speak Italian for me) because he has to stay in Los Angeles sometimes and earn a living. (He is a record producer and a composer.) (But he does go to Italy about 6 times a year, so there is still that tiny hope that one of those times will be when I will be overseeing the Writer’s Retreat.) (Peitor organizes all the various retreats at Villa Monte Malbe, but he doesn’t attend them unless he’s, you know, on the payroll…)

(And even while I am certainly old enough to participate in some sort of Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone, I’m not wealthy enough to pay for it.) (Sadly.) (Although if I could afford it, I would probably want to support an actual gigolo, and not my dearest friend…who would likely balk at many of the things I would be expecting if, you know, I were actually paying for it.)

In fact, I can hear it now:

ME: (asking him for any of the many things I would be expecting.)

HIM: “Marilyn, shut up and get your mind out of the gutter. ”

(Frankly, I can get that for free. In any language.)

So!! Gang. I have to say that my work on the revisions for Tell My Bones has just been really, really great this weekend. Yesterday made me so happy. This next segment I’m working on actually sort of “bleeds through” into two segments and it’s really opening up in my head — just filling up with life.  I’m really excited. And if I hadn’t already written this thing 17 hundred times, I probably wouldn’t be able to visually open it up like this. I feel like I’m seeing it in 360 degrees, and not just in a linear way, if that makes any sense.

Well, before I get back at it here today (yes, I slept in again!! You have no idea how lovely the mornings have been here — cool and sunny and so peaceful!), I only want to say a couple more things.

One: Marlon Richards turned 50 fucking years old yesterday, and if you think that doesn’t make me feel indescribably old, you are just out to lunch; what can I say? I don’t mind being 59, but how can he possibly be 50??!! He’s just a little boy, one that Keith and (the now deceased) Anita are always toting around…

Image result for keith richards and marlon as a baby
Yes, that wee bonny lad turned 50 yesterday… How old does that make YOU??!! (Stop looking at Anita’s sizable things there, and just look at the wee bonny lad!!)

And for no reason at all, here is my very favorite photo of Keith. I have had it stuck to my wall for years.

Keith in Los Angeles, in 1969. (Robert Altman)

The other thing is that it does seem like the thing in Melbourne — Nick Cave and Warren Ellis and the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra — was incredible. Gosh, I wish I could have been there. (And they even sort of speak English in Australia so I wouldn’t have needed a Mondly app!!)

All righty! I gotta scoot. Thanks for visiting, gang. As unlikely as it may seem, I will leave you with my breakfast-listening music from this morning!! Make of it what you will on this glorious Sunday. I love you guys. See ya!

“Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee”

Joyful, joyful, we adore Thee,
God of glory, Lord of love;
Hearts unfold like flow’rs before Thee,
Op’ning to the sun above.
Melt the clouds of sin and sadness;
Drive the dark of doubt away;
Giver of immortal gladness,
Fill us with the light of day!

All Thy works with joy surround Thee,
Earth and heav’n reflect Thy rays,
Stars and angels sing around Thee,
Center of unbroken praise.
Field and forest, vale and mountain,
Flow’ry meadow, flashing sea,
Singing bird and flowing fountain
Call us to rejoice in Thee.

Mortals, join the happy chorus,
Which the morning stars began;
Father love is reigning o’er us,
Brother love binds man to man.
Ever singing, march we onward,
Victors in the midst of strife,
Joyful music leads us Sunward
In the triumph song of life.