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If you’re new to the blog, or to my earlier career, Freak Parade and The Muse Revisited Volumes 1-3 are exceptionally explicit (award-winning!) literary erotica, often with bisexual BDSM themes and with overtones of what is now termed “questionable consent”. These titles are not aimed at the average reader and could be considered upsetting or offensive.
However, Twilight of the Immortal is historical fiction, not literary erotica.
Yesterday, I had to do a lot of driving around. A collected 2 hours’ worth of freeway traffic, which I hate, especially now that I live out here in the Hinterlands, where “rush-hour” means maybe 10 cars…
This collection has a lot of really early songs and, as each song’s intro would start playing, I was amazed by how familiar those intros were down in my very bones, and it would immediately take me back to my old apartments in NYC. I was so young.
When I learned, back in October, that Tom Petty had died, I was shocked and really sad, but it wasn’t until yesterday, when I started listening to Free Fallin’ and then repeated it over & over & over for the rest of my driving around, that it really struck me that Tom Petty was dead and I had that keen sense of sadness that you finally get when you realize that someone you love is really gone now forever.
It was so sad — but then suddenly, I was struck by this overwhelming desire to make love to Tom Petty. This is not something I ever had the slightest desire to do while he was alive, so this was quite a huge and sudden step into the realm of utter impossibility.
And it was so vivid, if you know what I mean. I could actually see it in my mind, all this lovemaking with a decidedly not dead Tom Petty.
Certain meditation practices teach to ask yourself “What do I want?” and then to lean into your desires without supplying yourself with any answers. Let the questions just “be there” and the answers eventually surface.
I don’t believe that any desire on earth is as keen as wanting to make love to somebody that you simply cannot have. And there’s that added edge of frustration when you never even realized you wanted to make love to that person until it was just too late.
I’m not saying that making love to Tom Petty was ever in the realm of my possibilities, I’m just saying how intense it was to suddenly be overwhelmed by these keen desires (and pictures in my head) that were utterly impossible to fulfill. Least of all, when I was driving around in a car, in 96-degree awfulness with unbearable humidity, in the middle of nowhere, 9 months after he was dead.
What’s also strange (I chalk this up to the Muse’s recent return into my creative life), is that I’m finding , to a much lesser extent, I’m having those feelings about a number of people. Total or near-total strangers. I’ll see a person and suddenly find that I’m really impressed with the beauty of their humanness and then I get the vague feeling that I want to make love to him or her. Not anything like what happened in the car yesterday; but more a deep appreciation of their humanity and their unique beauty, and then the response is “wanting to make love.”
My long-time readers obviously know that for many decades, my Muse was an incredibly erotic one (for instance: see everything I ever wrote between 1985 – 2010, including personal letters, private diaries, scribbles on scraps of paper, you name it.). So I guess that none of this sudden Eros should be surprising to me, and yet it kind of is. I seriously don’t want to spend the last half of my life walking around in that same cloying haze of relentless erotic desire that I spent the first half of my life in, thank you very much! It was certainly fruitful, but it was exhausting.
This morning, as I was getting ready to meditate, I decided to do a “What do I want?” meditation and lean into my new Tom Petty desire and see where the questions took me.
Part of my question was simply about loss and about “what is life, really?” and that kind of made me cry. At least, tears came. The answer that also came was simple, but profound, I suppose. What all those years of writing erotica taught me about the Muse, is that all of creation, and the creative process, comes from the Higher Source, a place of nearly indescribable love — the Muse is, in a spiritual sense, making love to you and then you conceive your creation from it — and therefore the creative process comes with an intensely erotic energy when you allow yourself to tune in it.
And I think that while I was driving yesterday, and zoning out on Free Fallin‘ and tapping into the entity that had been the physical Tom Petty, I was also tapping into the fact that he had been created at all, as a human being, and that he had been so creative while he lived — and so I’m guessing that in the after-world, his energy is just as creative, still. The creative processes don’t stop just because you cross over to the nonphysical. I think I was tapping into the creative essence of Tom Petty that was simply eternal and that’s how the Muse chose to show it to me — with all those pictures in my head.
Anyway, thanks for visiting, gang. Have a beautiful, beautiful Tuesday, wherever the Muse takes you. See ya.
The mommy raccoon and one of her cubs are now scampering hither & yon in the fields of the Lord.
They came out of the cornfield the other night when a pick-up truck came barrelling down the road.
There are still 2 healthy little cubs. The two are inseparable. It’s heartbreaking to see them at dawn, scurrying around together, alone. But at least they are healthy and they have each other and are old enough to survive now without mom.
And it’s always so wonderful when they stop by and hang out in their maple tree outside my window.
Yes, 42nd Street was an amazing amount of wonderful dancing feet — tap-dancing feet, no less. And tons of singing. It was really, really fun.
A couple of those songs made me a little misty-eyed for the New York City that I remember from the old days. (No, I didn’t live there in the 1930s! I meant, when the show first came out in 1980.) But overall, it was just plain fun.
As for those boys of summer (post below), it was really heartbreaking — but in the best way. I want so much to make time stand still, but it can’t be done, gang! (Unless, of course, it’s something torturous and horrible and filled to the brim with hell — high school springs to mind! Then time does indeed stand still…)
But 2 more shows, and then they strike the set for good and go off to have lives. The one guy in particular that I am really crazy about only has one more show before he’s done for the season. I saw him outside as I was leaving the theater last night. I had the perfect opportunity to speak to him, but all I could think of to say was, “Oh my god! Don’t leave me!!“ Luckily, I have a working brain filter, so I was able to just keep walking…
When I reached my car, though, I leaned against it for a while and watched him, watched all of them — the whole cast was outside. It was a beautiful, clear night; thousands of stars in the sky; only 67 lovely degrees. And I watched those beautiful young people and wondered about the flow of human beings coming together, dispersing, coming together again. I know there is an underlying emotional order to all of it, to the flow of life. I can’t explain it in linear sentences, but I feel the emotional order in my heart. And sometimes that flow of human beings is just too beautiful for words.
When I finally got in my car, I checked my phone and discovered a text from the Mormon missionaries! They received permission to still take that trip up to Kirtland next week to see the temple with me. What great news!
Also, yesterday, I had the conference call with Peitor Angell (see post below from a couple days ago) regarding my needing help with the re-structuring of the stage adaptation of Tell My Bones.
He’s out of the country right now; on a whole different time zone, 3 hours behind me. But he got up at 6 AM in order to find a quiet place, as well as a place where his cell phone could get reception, so that he could talk to me uninterrupted by life.
That is a true friend, isn’t it? To get up at 6 AM when you’re on vacation in another country, just to help a friend figure something out.
He gave me the most amazing, detailed advice for how I could find a better way in to the story. I could barely keep up, I was taking so many notes.
I said, “Is this a process you already do, or something? It is so detailed and so well thought out.”
He said, “No, I’m just coming up with it now. I’m trying to intuitively tap into the whole project and help bring out the artist in you.”
Well, it worked. It was staggering, really — how helpful he was. I am really just so blessed.
And so, on that note, I have to get down to the kitchen table, spread out a bunch of papers and notes and re-think my whole script.
Have a really great Thursday, wherever you are and with whatever you’re doing, gang. Keep looking for those miracles, they’re probably right in front of you. Thanks for visiting. See ya.
Well, tonight is finally the night, gang! I’m gonna get into my little white Honda Fit, drive the 15 miles of back roads into town to the summer stock theater that’s literally in an old red barn (well, it’s a newer old red barn designed to look like the original one from 50 years ago) to see 42nd Street!
Does this mean that the song Lullaby of Broadway will finally be out of my head? Your guess is as good as mine, gang, but the easy money is likely on “no.”
And yet… what I was listening to a lot, late last night, was Don Henley’s The Boys of Summer. I was in my 20s when his version of the song came out, and even then the song was considered “nostalgic.” Last night — obviously, 30 years later — it felt even more nostalgic.
Plus, the song makes me think of Tom Petty, since his bandmate, Mike Campbell, was one of the writers of the song. (Loyal readers of this lofty blog no doubt recall that Tom Petty was one of my girlhood heroes and he died last autumn from an accidental overdose of illegal fentanyl.)
Last night was a peculiar night. I’ve been noticing lately that I am developing more & more friendships with much younger people. Like, in their late teens and early twenties, while, at the same time, colleagues and friends my own age are dying, or developing various terminal illnesses, and having things like strokes and heart attacks.
I’m going to be 58 in 12 days. I’m in perfect health. Emotionally and spiritually, I feel older than 21, but in another sense, I don’t feel older at all.
Since Easter, I had been developing a really nice relationship with two young women, 19-year-old Mormon missionaries. They stopped in every week, sometimes twice a week, and we discussed the Book of Mormon, Joseph Smith’s life, faith, Christ, etc. These were wonderful discussions and I learned so much about Mormons, none of which I’d known before.
Next week, we were going to take a little day trip up to Kirtland to see the first temple that the Mormons built with Joseph Smith, back in 1836. We were all really excited.
Being missionaries, they really, really wanted me to join the faith, and while I think the Mormon faith is extremely positive and uplifting, more so than “regular” Christianity, I believe that chastity should be a choice, not something that’s enforced. Plus, most importantly, I have my own ministry to consider.
But that aside, we all got along so well and then yesterday, 30 minutes before they were due to come over for a visit, they texted me to say that they had both been transferred to another district, and it was effective immediately.
That happens with Mormon missionaries, but I was kind of devastated by the news. They said, “we want you to know you changed our lives so much.” And I told them they had done the same for me.
It’s so bittersweet, knowing that I have to watch them go off into the world, have their lives, find their own meanings, and that I’ll likely never see them again.
I tried to cheer myself by thinking about the show that I would be seeing tonight, and how excited I was to not only go to the theater, but to see this particular company that has so many wonderful young performers, including a couple of young men who have really moved me, and one who has really just stolen my heart.
But then it occurred to me that the summer season was half-over! And all these wonderful performers will soon be going back to college, or to New York City, to have their lives, find their meanings and their destinies, and chances are I won’t see them again, either.
I know that’s how it’s supposed to be with young, driven people. In fact, it concerns me that so many young people simply keep living at home nowadays, almost indefinitely. Where is the drive, where are the goals, the spirit? I know things are expensive, but I went to New York City practically flat broke, to be a singer, when I was 20 years old. Nothing on Earth could stop me. By the time I was 21, I was singing professionally in folk clubs in Greenwich Village. And so many people my age were in the city, pursuing their dreams, too.
So, obviously, I believe that young people with dreams should go off and do stuff — pursue their dreams; whether it’s on Broadway, or in a House of God.
But last night, it felt so keenly bittersweet. I’m really excited to see the show tonight but I know the show will be over in a heartbeat, and live theater never repeats itself. And then, in another heartbeat, the next show will happen, and then the next, and then the summer season will be over, and all those beautiful boys of summer — straight, gay, a little of both — with their beautiful voices, and amazing dancing, will be gone.
And autumn will come.
I have my own stuff I need to do –God knows –and I have to go back to New York City, and probably out to L.A. at least once. So it’s not like my own time stands still. But, wow, young people — their energy, their dreams, all the good things that are waiting up the road for them if they can stay focused — there is simply nothing like that. I am really going to miss all of them.
Happy as I am with the new direction I’ve taken the past couple weeks with the Hurley Falls Mysteries, I am also still dealing with the theatrical adaptation of my screenplay, Tell My Bones, the life story of the Outsider Artist, Helen LaFrance. I’m adapting it for the stage specifically for Sandra Caldwell.
When I first wrote the screenplay, things like #BlackLivesMatter hadn’t happened yet, although it was getting ready to. And even while the screenplay was well received at film festivals and among producers, the climate Off-Broadway for plays about African-American lives has changed considerably in just a couple of years. So, even while I’m okay with how I’m staging the play, how I’m presenting the music, the sets and the characters, I’m finding that the entire way I present Helen’s life has to seriously be re-framed to fit the tone people want to experience now.
5 years ago, when I went to Kentucky and met with Helen, she was already in her 90s, in a nursing home, and in a wheelchair due to a paralyzing stroke. I walked into the day room of the nursing home, where she sat in front of a canvas, preparing to paint (she’d taught herself to paint with her left hand because the stroke had left her paralyzed down her right side), and I said hello.
She barely looked at me. She knew I had come because I wanted to write a screenplay about her life. Still, she was not impressed, and her greeting to me, after I’d driven 12 hours to meet her, was: “What do you want?”
After a couple hours of talking, she warmed up and ended the conversation by giving me the rights to write her life story, and after that, I had access to all her paintings, her interviews, and even her private diaries. In all the research I did, while it was clear she had to contend with racism and the unfairness of how blacks were treated in Kentucky, her art, her diaries, and her conversation were focused more on simply being a woman who was always trying to find enough time and money to do her art.
There was so much beauty in how she saw her life. Just so much beauty. A lot of heartbreak that centered on the people she loved who had died, but not very much about having to rise above oppression. Just needing enough time & money to paint. And so I told her life story in a very particular way, which now has to be re-framed. Same life, but I have to focus on it in a different way.
My seriously long-time, good friend in L.A., producer/composer Peitor Angell, is eventually going to be helping me with the musical arrangements for the show, but yesterday he agreed to help me try to re-think the telling of the story, too. So I feel excited about that project again. You know, the energy of one good friend can turn your whole world around.
I don’t need to have this adaptation done until the end of this year, since Sandra and I will be focused on doing the staged reading of her one-woman musical in NYC this fall. Still it has bogged me down emotionally that I couldn’t make better progress with Tell My Bones, so it feels good to feel encouraged again.
The other thing that has taken me unaware, that is also a really incredibly wonderful thing, is that the Muse has come back into my life! [Muse – noun – a person or personified force who is the source of inspiration for a creative artist.]
After having been blessed all my life with the beneficence of a Muse, I haven’t had the energy of the Muse in my world for several years now. It has been depressing. Even though I can still write without a Muse, it’s more laborious, a lot less joyful from moment to moment. And when I least expected it, and had pretty much given up on ever feeling that energy again, in he walked. Right into my field of vision.
I felt like Bill & Ted in their excellent adventure:
I don’t know him at all, although I’ve now seen him a few times. Yet suddenly life in my inner world is 360% not the same. So beautiful. I am so, so blessed. My inner world now is a deluge of inspiration, keen feelings, intensely beautiful images that my mind & heart respond to. And all of that makes its way to the page, to benefit you, gentle reader!
That is simply the very best way to write. And on that note, I’m going to go… get some lunch!! Yay! Have a super Saturday, gang, wherever the Muse takes you. Thanks for visiting. See ya.
And it’s very windy & overcast this morning, with storms on the horizons. A blessed change from the 96 degrees with relentless SUN and humidity that’s been going on around here for many, many days. It was almost unbearable. Almost.
No, it wasn’t the worst July 4th I’ve ever had, weather-wise. The worst was sometime back in the late 1980s, when I lived in a really old tenement in Manhattan’s East Village. The wiring in that old building could not sustain air-conditioners of any size. And that particular July 4th it was 104 degrees for several days running. I lived on the 5th floor — one floor from the top. So I didn’t have the absolute worst apartment in the building: I had the second worst, heat-rising-wise. The apartment simply collected heat and would not let it go. It was the proverbial oven. It was just god-awful. And I lived there for 9 years.
That particular July 4th, 97% of the population of New York City had gone to the various beaches. But I remained in my 5th-floor walk-up, unable to move or do anything at all but lay on the bed, drink Wild Turkey on ice, and watch — yes — A Summer Place!!!!
(Ever since then, my go-to July 4th movie has been A Summer Place. A really, really, REALLY great, lurid, trashy, romantic, scandalous movie from 1959. It starred Troy Donahue and Sandra Dee. If you’ve never seen it, it’s not to be missed, gang. And that’s not the bourbon talking, either.)
(Oh, and I also really, really love watching Damn Yankees! around the July 4th holiday, too. I’m not really sure why. But that’s another great movie.)
Anyway. As usual, I digress.
It was so wonderful to wake-up today to this break in the weather. I woke at about 6 AM. All the windows open, the wind blowing through the whole house. A soothing, overcast sky. The little raccoon cubs scurrying around on the tree branches outside my window.
After I fed the cats, I went back to bed with my cup of coffee and just thought about the world, about life, physical reality, reincarnation, probable lives, and men that I love.
And I had the song below streaming on my iPad, endlessly repeating. So atmospheric and lovely. I couldn’t have asked for a better morning. And now it’s back to the Hurley Falls manuscript. So, have a wonderful, love-filled day, gang. Thanks for visiting. See ya!