Tag Archives: playwright

Si!! Per due giorni non ho studiato italiano!!

Yes! That’s right!

This morning, I realized that I hadn’t studied my Italian lessons for the past 2 days. Which also means I missed my Sunday quiz!

Ack!! I’ve been so caught up in revisions of the play, as well as the profoundly intense heat wave, that everything else fell from my awareness.

I’m not gonna spend the rest of the summer giving you the weather report for around here, but I do want to at least say that it is an unbelievably beautiful day here, today. All the heat and thunderstorms are completely gone.  It is sunny and mild and supposed to stay that way all week. And by mild, I mean it’s going down into the high 50s Fahrenheit during the night! I feel transformed because of it.

I did not feel transformed yesterday, though.

I had a very challenging day with the revisions for Tell My Bones.

I was getting good work done. I liked what was coming, but it was painstakingly slow going. And I am still having trouble going back & forth between the new revisions for the overall play, and the staged reading version of the play , which is condensed and shorter, less music, etc.

And as I make the revisions to the overall play, I then have to go back to the staged reading version and make sure it gets updated. So the constant switching back & forth was extremely distracting.

After I was at it for 8 hours, the director of the play called to wish me a happy birthday and to confirm our lunch appointment for today — AND to say that he was reading the screenplay version of Tell My Bones and that it was incredibly wonderful and he told me all the reasons why he thought so and that he lamented that the play couldn’t capture a lot of that because they were two different media.

(The screenplay scored really well in several high-profile screenplay competitions the year I wrote it, and won Best Voice of Color at the Cleveland Independent Film Festival the following year.)

While we were talking, I was already so incredibly exhausted from laboring over the revisions of the play for 8 hours, that my “take away” from the phone call was that the play was nowhere near as good as the screenplay and so I had to start from scratch or something.

It blew my evening right out of the water, and not in a good way. I stayed at my desk for 3 more hours wondering, what am I supposed to do here? How do I turn this into the screenplay?

Loyal readers of this lofty blog no doubt recall that Sandra and I struggled with just that very thing for a couple of years before I came to the conclusion (with input from Peitor in Los Angeles) that I had to let go of the screenplay entirely, and approach the play from a whole new perspective. Because it wasn’t working for the stage.

Last night, though, I kept feeling that there must be a way to sort of layer aspects of the screenplay on top of the play…. and have a 90 minute full-cast dramatic screenplay magically become a 90 minute one-woman play with music.

I’m sure you can readily see that I was completely out of my mind.

Eventually I realized that I was starving and needed to eat dinner. So I finally closed the darn laptop and walked away.

This morning, though, I had an entirely fresh perspective on all of it. And I know something magical is going to transform or infuse the play with aspects of the screenplay. I don’t know yet what that is but I can feel it sort of hovering at the edges of my mind.

Even though this also means that at my meeting today, revisions to the script will not be finished. But it isn’t the end of the world. I still have  2 weeks before Sandra gets here to begin the initial rehearsals.

(Here’s something interesting that I just noticed: Whenever I need to type the word “being” it always comes out as “begin” and I have to fix it. But just there when I needed to type the word “begin” it came out as “being”! Clearly, I know how to type the word “being” so why can’t I just type it the right way when I need it??!!)

Anyway. Hey, thanks to new readers who are coming here through the post over at EdgeofHumanity.com yesterday. I appreciate it.

I thought it was kind of interesting that yesterday was my birthday and the first excerpt from my childhood memoir-in-progress, In the Shadow of Narcissa, went out on the EdgeofHumanity.com feed.  I don’t know why I wasn’t expecting that. I knew it was coming out this week, but I didn’t think it would be on Monday.

I have emotional issues with In the Shadow of Narcissa, only because it is very hard for me to write.  It’s hard for me to emotionally claim all the stuff I need to in order to write it. But I do feel 100% sure that I need to write it, so I’m not going to allow my emotions to get in the way of that.

Still, seeing something so personal to me arrive as another entity’s web update in my inbox, was startling. Partly, you know, I just want to remove myself from it. It’s the only way I can handle it, really.

I appreciate so much that they are wiling to publish it over at Edge of Humanity, though, because I think it’s helping me stick with the process of writing it.

Okay, gang. I’m gonna get started around here now because I have to have that lunch meeting in a couple of hours. I hope you have a terrific Tuesday, wherever you are in the world!! I leave you with the breakfast listening music from today! “Opium Tea” from B-Sides & Rarities. A song with an hypnotic, groovy little groove to it. Thanks for visiting! I love you guys! See ya.

“Opium Tea”

Here I sleep the morning through
‘Til the wail of the call to prayer awakes me
And there is nothing at all to do
But rise and follow the day wherever it takes me

[Chorus]
I stand at the window and I look at the sea
And I am what I am and what will be will be
I stand at the window and I look at the sea
And I make me a pot of opium tea

Down at the port I watch the boats come in
Oh, watching the boats come in can do something to you
And the kids gather around with an outstretched hand
And I toss them a dirham or two

[Chorus]
Well, I wonder if my children are thinking of me
Cause I am what I am and what will be will be
I wonder if my kids are thinking of me
And I smile and I sip my opium tea

At night the sea lashes the rust-red ramparts
In the shapes of hooded men who pass me
And the mad moaning wind laughs and laughs and laughs and laughs
At the strange lot that fate has cast me

[Chorus]
The cats on the rampart sing merrily
That he is what he is and what will be will be
The cats on the rampart sing merrily
And I sit and I drink my opium tea

I’m a prisoner here, I can never go home
There is nothing here to win or lose
There are no choices need to be made at all
Not even the choice of having to choose

[Chorus]
I’m a prisoner yes, but I’m also free
Cause am what I am and what will be will be
I’m a prisoner here but I’m also free
And I smile and I sip my opium tea

c – 1996 Conway Savage & Nick Cave

Yay! The Heat Wave Finally Broke

As promised, the thunderstorms came through last night in a big way and the intense heat wave finally broke.

Even though it’s grey here today and likely to keep on storming for most of  the day, it is only 72 degrees Fahrenhiet right now, gang, and I can think!! And I can breathe!! And I’m not sweating like a Tropical Fuck Storm!!

Yay! Because I have a whole lot more to do on that play and I must do it TODAY.

And it is indeed my birthday today.  And I would much rather spend this special day thinking and breathing and not sweating!!

Even though I had to cut the day short yesterday because of the intense heat, I did get some really good work done on the play early on and I was so incredibly happy with it.

I was forced to stop at an intense juncture, though, because I honestly just couldn’t think anymore. It was so fucking hot. And I seriously needed my brain in working order.

It’s a part in the play about a segment of Helen’s life that was very, very important to her and to what came later for her, but the way it is written now — the director didn’t say it in so many words, but he finds it boring. Non-theatrical. And so I must find a way to “theatricalize” it!! Because I can’t leave it out. I not only owe it to Helen to keep it in, but it lays the groundwork for the most important elements of Helen’s private life.

Yes, it’s days like today that I miss easy access to illegally obtained prescription medications! The kind that make your brain seriously focus!

I guess I will have to rely on my regular brain, instead. And coffee.

That said, I really gotta scoot.  And get focused. And spend my day as my dear friend Kara advised in a text to me during the wee small hours of the stormy night, “celebrate the day of your birth with your words.” So I’m gonna do that!

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

Blissed Out, Baby!!

Even in the intense heat yesterday (at one point, my outdoor thermometer read 99 degrees Fahrenheit but I think the sun was beating down on it),  I still got great writing done on Tell My Bones.

I was so happy yesterday.  Once I was able to finally figure out where the revisions from the staged reading script fit in with the overall play, I made so much progress.

Caffeine had a lot to do with it, but at one point, I tuned into that signal of the Muse and everything came in loud & clear. It was wonderful. It just flowed.

I still have a lot of revisions to tackle before Tuesday, but one of the trickiest junctures is done and I’m just so happy with it.

And even though it was super hot in here last night, for some reason I slept really great. I was up at 5am, did the usual cat-breakfast-furry-feeding-frenzy thing downstairs. Got my coffee. Went back upstairs to meditate. And during the meditation, I realized that I am in such a great space today, energetically speaking. The feeling was pronounced. I was just totally blissed out.

Do you ever just lie in your bed with your eyes closed and try to imagine that you’re somewhere else, but try to get the details so precise that you actually feel that if you opened your eyes, you would be in that place?

I love doing that. It feels so cool. Like you’re actually building a new reality  outside of yourself.

After I finished meditating, I was in such a relaxed emotional space. The sun was just coming up and I just wanted to lie back down in bed, curled around my pillows, and take in the peacefulness of this amazing town.  So tranquil at that hour.  And so many trees. So many birds singing.

And when I closed my eyes, I started imagining one of those high-end glamping-type tree houses. It was screened in on all sides, so it had a 360 degree view of something lovely, although I’m not sure what. But I could feel the breeze coming in, because there actually was a breeze in my room. And I could hear the birds singing around the tree house, because birds were actually singing over here on this end of it. And there was nothing in the tree house but a big bed, and there was a mosquito netting canopy thing over the bed.

And then suddenly it just sprang into “reality” and it felt like I was really there.  And that if I opened my eyes, I would be there in that tree house. It was just so cool. (And the guy in the beautiful robe who brings the coffee — see the post re: I Live Vicariously Through These Twohe was suddenly there, too! Whoever he was. And the robe was only sort of implied, you know, but not on anymore. And he was just as peaceful as I was, and just lying there with me. It was just perfect. And even though I didn’t want him to bring me coffee, I knew that he would if I wanted it.

I have never had a guy bring me coffee in bed. That is just ridiculous, isn’t it? Part of it is because I’ve always been a really early riser and most people are still asleep for several more hours after I’m up and puttering around. The other part is that I’m really particular about my coffee. I take milk in my coffee, but a very specific amount. And I know when the amount is perfect by the color of the coffee.

It seems to me that it would be a simple thing to learn that shade of “coffee with milk,” yet, as it turns out, it is an impossible thing to master. And so I am always politely told to just get my own coffee. And then, sure enough, we are soon well into the “woman brings the coffee” routine while the man stays in bed. And then the “woman makes the coffee” routine while the man is still in bed. And then the woman says “can I make you some breakfast?” routine while the man stays in bed. Etc., etc.

I have no actual problem with any of that stuff, you know. And I can be almost unbearably perfect about it. And why wouldn’t I want to do that, especially if I’m in love with some guy, right? But just once, I would love to just lie there, blissed out for whatever reason, and have the most perfect cup of coffee brought to me while I get to just lie there and love my life.

And yet, it turns out that it is a little too much to ask. I will probably have to get a wife in order for my cup of coffee to be absolutely perfect…

But anyway. I digress!

I was taking in the whole tree house thing in my mind and how incredibly real it felt, and how incredibly blissed out I felt — with or without the phantom guy with the beautiful robe no longer on. And when I opened my eyes, and I saw how beautiful my maple tree looked outside my windows, and how beautiful the sky looked beyond the tree, with the sun coming up. And how much I love my bed and my pillows and this incredible bedroom in this house that I love…

I realized that it doesn’t matter where I am, I am just super happy, gang.

Okay, well! The weather report for my birthday tomorrow has changed significantly. It’s still supposed to thunderstorm, but those storms are now set to begin later tonight, and by tomorrow , the high is only supposed to be 74 degrees Fahrenheit! So I shouldn’t have any trouble sitting all day at my desk and writing. I really need to finish the revisions on the play by Tuesday and I know I still have too much left to revise to get that all done today.

That said, though, I’m gonna scoot now and get started on that.

Have a super blissed out Sunday, gang, wherever you are in the world! Thanks for visiting.  I leave you with a blissed out song, if there ever was one.  From my wee bonny girlhood! I love you guys. See ya!

“Peace Like A River”

Peace like a river ran through the city
Long past the midnight curfew
We sat starry-eyed
We were satisfied
And I remember
Misinformation followed us like a plague
Nobody knew from time to time
If the plans were changed
If the plans were changed.

You can beat us with wires
You can beat us with chains
You can run out your rules
But you know you can’t outrun the history train
I’ve seen a glorious day.

Four in the morning
I woke up from out of my dreams
Nowhere to go but back to sleep
But I’m reconciled
Oh, oh, oh, I’m going to be up for awhile

c – 1972 Paul Simon

Gimme A Pill — Please!

Or as Huey Lewis & the News so succinctly put it a million light years ago:  “I need a new drug!”

Something/Anything.  [Todd Rundgren said that in 1972.]

Mostly, I’m just exhausted, gang. Spiritually. Psychologically. The constant dialogue that goes on in my brain.

ME (to my brain, while I’m washing the breakfast dishes): “You know, I could adapt that Cleveland project for the stage. I’d have to re-think the story arc, but I can already see the sets.”

MY BRAIN:”Knock it off already. We’ve got too many ideas in here.”

ME (to my brain this morning, while I’m going over the new memoir): “You know, I could re-write this as a micro -memoir. Or even a  long prose poem.”

MY BRAIN:”Knock it off already. We’ve got too many ideas in here. You should not have even started this one in the first place.”

ME (to my brain, while I’m listening to White Lunar during lunch): “This music is giving me some great ideas for Tell My Bones. I could see re-writing it as a screenplay.”

MY BRAIN: “You idiot!! It started out as a screenplay! Knock it off already!”

Related image

I’m just exhausted.  Happy, but exhausted.

And then yet another Australian musician started following me on Instagram today. And he texts me something about a photo I posted of Patti Smith’s Horses album cover (the album that I’ve had since 1975). And he says that Horses inspired him to become a songwriter.

So then I’m scrolling through his photos and I see a lot of old Bowie stuff, and I’m thinking we have very similar musical tastes and inspirations.

Then I click on one of his old Bowie photos — Bowie being a man who hugely & continuously inspired me since 1973 — and I discover that the guy in Australia is about 17 years old or something insane like that – still in school – and only found out about Bowie long after Bowie died.

And then that exhausts me, too. WTF?  Just how old am I? And how long has Bowie been dead – wasn’t that just last week?! And how come I have similar tastes and inspirations to teenage boys on the other side of the globe?

That shit just makes me collapse.

I was 14 years old when I saw Bowie’s Diamond Dogs tour back in Cleveland. That was over 40 years ago.

Related image

Honestly, I don’t give a hoot how old I am, but I just don’t comprehend how old I am. I can’t get an accurate grip on it.

I recently met this 17 year-old boy here in the Hinterlands and he just makes me laugh. I adore him. He’s really delightful. And so unusual and I love his energy. And I love when he comes around. And he knows so many old rock & roll songs that I wouldn’t expect him to know — knows all the words.  And he’ll blurt out the most wildly inappropriate and hysterical things.

And I am like – what? Old enough to be his grandmother maybe?! Why the heck do I get along so well with him?

And yet most people my own age… I’m going to be 59 a week from tomorrow. Unless they’re old rockers or old hippies — and that’s the men; the women I have, like, nothing in common with because they are grandmothers.

It’s just weird. I feel like I’m floating off in some strange orbit, all by myself most of the time. (And while I’m off in that strange orbit, more & more & more ideas keep coming to me for projects that require months of getting written down…) (I’m exhausted.)

Anyway. All sorts of amazing good news came in this morning’s email but I can’t discuss that on the blog yet, either. It’s sufficient to say that I am just so blessed, gang. And I was planning to take it a little easy today, but when the email came, I was springing out of my skin. All excited and happy and ready to get back to work on something/anything.

One of these days, though, I’m gonna stay in bed late. And just lie there and stare out the window at my beautiful maple tree and the sky beyond. Just hug my soft fluffy pillows and snuggle there and relax. Really relax. Do nothing. Type nothing, Think nothing new.

Just lie there and smile and imagine what it might feel like if I could train the cats to bring me a cup of coffee…

Yes. Well.

In the meantime, I hope your Sunday is going swimmingly, wherever you are in the world! I leave you with this. It was an amazing album, gang. Some of it was depressing, but all of it was thrilling, regardless, when I was 14.

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

“Rock ‘N Roll With Me”

You always were the one that knew
They sold us for the likes of you
I always wanted new surroundings
A room to rent while the lizards lay crying in the heat
Trying to remember who to meet

I would take a foxy kind of stand
While tens of thousands found me in demand

[CHORUS]
When you rock ‘n’ roll with me
No one else I’d rather be
Nobody here can do it for me
I’m in tears again
When you rock ‘n’ roll with me

Gentle hearts are counted down
The queue is out of sight and out of sounds
Me, I’m out of breath, but not quite doubting
I’ve found a door which lets me out!

[CHORUS (x3)]

c – 1974 David Bowie

Good Thing Summer Days Last Longer!

Happy Saturday, gang!

Peitor has familial obligations in – yes!! – Iowa this weekend. So we are not working on any scripts this morning.  (It seems weird, doesn’t it – that he spent his childhood in both Florence, Italy and Iowa??!!) (It’s because both of his parents were tenured University Professors. In Literature. Both of them. Talk about intense. Both of his parents were always extremely friendly and all. But they’re both ridiculously intelligent. You always wanted to be wearing your best vocabulary whenever they came to visit in NYC.)

Anyway. So I have a little bit of a reprieve from “projects” today, which is good because now I have way too many that I’m trying to focus on every day. I know it’s because I started that memoir website thing from out of nowhere, and then setting up the page became stupidly time-consuming. I wasn’t expecting that.

But Sandra is in fact flying in here in a couple weeks to begin the initial rehearsals of the play (staying with the director because she’s allergic to cats!!), so I have to redirect my focus away from In the Shadow of Narcissa for a moment and get back to Tell My Bones.

I’m in a good place about that, though. And I’ve been kind of waiting for that feeling: that the play was getting queued up inside me.

If I’m not feeling aligned energetically with a project, it’s useless to kill time sitting and waiting on it. I go in the emotional direction of whatever calls me on any given day. It works out better for me that way. But sometimes, deadlines sort of force you to focus on something, regardless. So I’m gad that I can feel the play bubbling up inside me again because that’s what needs my attention most right now.

Plus, the Internet has been super wonky around here the past few days.  It will suddenly go out, for hours, in the whole area. It’s frustrating but it is also a forced “vacation.” I can’t do anything online. I can’t work on the new memoir. I can’t stream any new music. I can’t watch anything on Youtube or Amazon Prime. I can’t work on my Italian lessons, either. Or even tune my guitar!

So I’ve been using it as a signal to just STOP, you know? Because I never just stop until it’s time to collapse in bed at night. And even then, I usually spend an hour or two doing other weird stuff that I won’t go into right now.

Anyway. It does feel good to sort of just stop.  To be peaceful. To just listen to the earth. To take in, sort of from a distance, all the things that are going on right now.

Okay. This will be brief because the Internet has gone in & out about 5 times since I started writing this!! Hopefully, Spectrum will have it all figured out by tomorrow.

Have a wonderful Saturday, gang, wherever you are in the world!! Thanks for visiting! I love you guys. See ya!

The internet NEVER used to go out on my typewriter!!

Heaven

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.

I’m Sorry For A lot of Things, Only One of Which I will Mention Here

Hi gang!

First, let me quickly draw your attention to the cover of the vintage men’s magazine above. Specifically the special book bonus: “NIGHT OF THE NUDE NYMPH”

You’ll note, if you have great eyesight, that underneath that, is says: “Compelling tale of a twisted desire…raw emotions.” –The Record

This means that upon its publication, Night of the Nude Nymph was actually reviewed (!!??!!) [Wow, that ain’t never gonna happen anymoreEd.]

I love how America used to take literary pursuits, of pretty much any stripe, seriously. Of course, this was decades ago, a couple of which I was actually alive in. And then the decades of “images” came along and soundbites, and keeping everything as entertaining as possible in order to promote deep consumerism, etc., etc. And then everything became highly personal (yes, even the nightly news!!), so that if a book gets reviewed nowadays, it’s likely just some person “opinioning” it.

Yes, I love America. I really really do. But in order to maintain this deep love I have for America, I have to move deeper and deeper into the Hinterlands so that I can hear myself think; to be cut off from the bombardment of unwanted extreme opinions, images, proclamations, and questionable definitions of “entertainment.” I also got rid of the television a long time ago.  And while it has nothing to do with my television, I have since learned to fear the extreme liberals in this country as much as I’ve feared the extreme conservatives here all my life.

Meaning that my greatest fear is of intolerance; a thing that an extremist of any variety can master with alarming speed.  A thing that will also quickly “erode our liberty without eternal vigilance” on our parts (attributed to Thomas Jefferson although he doesn’t seem to have actually written that anywhere) . (And yes, that means eternal vigilance for the liberty of the people you don’t like; such is the weighty burden of being an American. “I will defend to the death your right to do that thing I don’t like.” You don’t hear that kind of thing too much in America anymore.)

One of the main reasons I love living here in the Hinterlands is that everyone leaves everyone else alone.  And its not overrun with rules and regulations or high taxes. And no new construction is underway anywhere, at all. In fact, all the old construction remains until it literally falls down and blows away — and this sometimes takes hundreds of years.

At dawn this morning, I stood at one of my bedroom windows (in my 118-year-old house that sat vacant for a few years until I bought it last March), drinking my cup of coffee, and noticing how the guy a few houses down First Street from me, always parks his old Mustang GT horizontally across his driveway.  I love that he does that. I’m not sure why he does that but I’m thinking it has something to do with space; not outer space (although that’s another thing Americans are really eager to incorporate into the things they get to own), but the actual space in his driveway.  He can better utilize the space of the driveway he owns by parking horizontally on it.

I used to live in a town where they would never have tolerated that. If you would have dared to park your car funny, you would have been the victim of relentless neighborly scorn. And it would have escalated if you refused to buckle.

All righty!

Time for one of those things I’m sorry for!

I’m sorry I forgot to wish everyone a happy St. Paddy’s Day!

Even though I was not still officially sick, I was still under the weather enough to not want to get out of bed and deal with the computer until today. So a belated happy St. Paddy’s Day to everyone!

Long time readers of this lofty blog will no doubt recall that St. Paddy’s Day is also when I celebrate all the birthdays of my many cats . I bought them a new batch of catnip-infused felt mice, which they delighted in for about 5 minutes, and then went right back to playing with their ratty, beat-up, chewed-up, old toys.  So now I have a big bunch of brand new catnip-infused felt mice scattered all over my family room floor, being hopelessly ignored by everyone.

But that’s okay because it’s finally SPRING!! Yay!! And there are also birds everywhere outside all our many windows, keeping our attention occupied and keeping us eager for that warmer weather, wherein we will be able to open all 21 of those said windows and keep them open until October.  (It’s so cute, gang. The cats are practically glued to the windows now that all the birds have returned.)

And on that lovely note, I wish you a wonderful Equinox!! Make some heartfelt wishes today, okay? Because I think that they’re all gonna come true!! Seriously.  And now I’m gonna go make some lunch, then get back to re-writes on the new play.

I leave you with another old song I only recently found out about through that Australian guy’s blog (A1000Mistakes), and I absolutely love it!!! The Beasts of Bourbon singing Drunk On A Train!! It cracks me up! The lyrics are fantastic. Okay!

Enjoy, gang. And thanks for visiting! I love you! See ya!!

Variations on a Most Lovely Theme

Do you notice how sometimes when you’re sick, you wake up and think, Hey I feel lots better today, and so you try to do a million things only to make yourself 10 times sicker than you were even the day before?

That was me yesterday. But because of that, I spent a lot of really spacey, sort of drug-induced dreaminess in bed this morning because I was incapable of doing anything else but just lie there for 5 hours, trying to drink coffee.

And I was thinking about my Lou Reed birthday post from yesterday, and thinking about that song Walk on the Wild Side and how much it meant to me when I was growing up, and how songs like that literally  helped get me to NYC – helped me find my way there.

I moved there when I was 20, in 1980, thinking I would stay one year and then move to L.A. But once I got to New York, it was like everything I ever dreamed life was supposed to be, and also a whole lot worse. So I stayed there for nearly 30 years.

I think of those years in NYC as “my life” and everything that came afterwards as basically just the stuff I need to do before I die. Well, I did fall in love recently and that might change things, change my take on the world. It’s too soon to know for sure but I guess we’ll see.

Anyway.  Loyal readers of this lofty blog know that pretty much the very instant I moved to NYC, I fell in love with an older man who turned out to be a hitman for the Mob and then I launched myself headlong into a pregnancy with him that devastated me. And in the middle of all that, John Lennon was killed, and he was truly one of my girlhood heroes.  All of this was, literally, within a month of my moving to NYC. Once you get NYC into your veins like that — and it was so easy to do back then; it was a whole other world then — you just can’t get it out of your system, really. I became a New Yorker, like, overnight.

In the mid-1980s, I joined the Visiting Nurse Services of NY as a volunteer, because of the AIDS crisis going on back then. I went into the homes of people in the last stages of AIDS and tried to help make their lives easier in anyway they needed until they died, which was usually right away. By the time they sent someone like me into someone’s home, it was sort of the death knell.

THEM: “You’re not a nurse.”

ME: “No, I’m not.”

THEM: “Who are you?”

ME: “I’m just here to help you with whatever you need from now on.”

One of my patients was an aging black pimp up in Harlem, who had this amazing apartment straight out of the 1920s, and a wife who was still working as a prostitute, who was part black and part Chinese, who looked & dressed like an aging dragon lady. (Yes, folks, from that slice of my reality, my now classic erotic novella Neptune & Surf was born.) That particular patient – a pimp who kept his wife turning tricks until the final moment – only wanted me to read to him from the Bible, which I did, until he died.

Another patient of mine lasted for quite a few months when they assigned me to him.  I was 27 at the time. You know, this kind of work is very confidential.  However, not only was this over 30 years ago, the patient’s Significant Other mentioned me at the funeral, so that was public, and so now I feel I want to go public, too.

That particular patient was the photographer, Peter Hujar. A gentle, warm, lovely man. A very talented photographer who documented so much of the NYC I lived in — and had gone to NYC to experience in the first place.  He had some truly famous, and infamous, photos framed and mounted on the walls of his modest apartment.

I bring all this up in connection to Lou Reed’s song, Walk on the Wild Side, because Peter Hujar took some iconic photos of men and drag queens from that era, including the men Lou sang about in that song.

When Peter first let me into his apartment that first day, I looked at all those photos hanging there on the walls and was stunned. I said, “Did you take all of these? I know these photos.” They were truly part of my life.

He was already so fragile by then, even though he would live a couple more months. But that day, he said to me, “You’re just perfect, you know that? I apologize for being so sick.”  In the early days of the AIDS crisis, the patients were basically treated like they were radioactive, because the disease was not understood yet but it was killing everybody. Most people back then would not get near anyone who was known to have AIDS. It was hard for the nurses to find enough volunteers. For some reason, I never had a fear of being around them. I saw them as people who needed help while they were dying and that fear was never going to be the right response when anyone needed help while they were dying.

Below are a couple photos Peter Hujar took. Click on them and they get larger. I’m guessing he also took photos of Holly Woodlawn, Joe Dallesandro, and the Sugar Plum Fairy (Joe Campbell), but you’d have to google all that.

Candy Darling on her deathbed. I saw this photo in Rolling Stone Magazine’s Random Notes when I was 14. At the time, I simply could not believe that she was a man. I never forgot this photo and I was stunned to learn that Peter was the photographer who had taken it.
Jackie Curtis at his own funeral in 1985. Another photo I saw long before I met Peter Hujar.
One of Peter Hujar’s self-portraits. This one is from 1976, 4 years before I moved to NYC. He looked pretty much exactly like this when I met him 11 years later, although he was painfully thin by then.

Yesterday, when I posted about how the song Walk on the Wild Side helped shape my life, making me who I am, I meant it on so many levels. Even though I’m almost 60 now, those very early days of mine in NYC seem like they truly happened just yesterday.

I’m not sure why so many gay men, drag queens, heroin addicts, gay alcoholic poets and painters, had such an enormous influence on who I was and who I became as a writer and as a woman, but they really did. A song like Walk on the Wild Side is part of my DNA now.

And I think that when people in Toronto (and sooner or later NYC), finally see the one-woman show I’ve been working on for 5 years now with Sandra Caldwell about her own life (The Guide to Being Fabulous), you’ll agree that the two of us meeting at all was pure destiny from the word go.

I was totally born to do this, to help bring her incredible story to the stage.  My play, Tell My Bones, about the painter Helen LaFrance that I wrote for Sandra, is a beautiful piece of theater that I want to share with the world. But being part of a play like The Guide to Being Fabulous is why I was born.

Oh Jesus Here it Comes Again

I am, of course, referring to the dawn of a brand new day.

I feel like absolute garbage.  Respiratory gunk and a swollen throat — both stemming from that weird pas de deux that I did with my vacuum cleaner the other day. (See some sort of post below.)

I wish I could just go swim in the sea somewhere.  I have no idea if it’s true, but I always think that submerging oneself in saltwater – the ocean – will wash away everything that’s making it so you can’t breathe.

And of course it snowed again here during the night, so the thought of going swimming in the sea someplace where it’s hot oddly makes all this congestion garbage in my lungs today feel a lot worse.

I’m also wishing I could go down to some river somewhere and get a full-submersion baptism and have that dove of peace fly out of the top of my head, taking with it all the things that fuck me up in this world.

I’ve having so many distressing issues going on in my head at once these days that I just can’t deal with them. (I’m guessing that’s another reason why I can’t breathe right now.)

I had so many frustrating and just plain bad dreams last night, too. By anyone’s definition, my sleep was not restful. I know that I’m trying to come to an understanding about several different things that, frankly, are just plain impossible for me to figure out.

You know, like when you simply haven’t been dealt enough cards. It’s not that the cards I’ve been dealt are bad, necessarily, it’s that I feel I just don’t have enough cards in my hand to figure out how I’m supposed to play this hand — to live a better life right now.

In some ways — the plays, for instance — life is really going good. In other ways, things suck and I’m not sure how to make them not suck.  I know that forgiveness is key, but sometimes I get so darn tired of forgiving people. (ME: Why don’t you just do the right fucking thing for Christ’s sake?!)

I know; I’m a minister. That’s not a good sign. One of the reasons Jesus refuses to give me my own flock to lead around, I’m guessing!

I know that giving myself a break is also key, but I’ve never been very good at doing that. I’m always the first on my list to be merciless with, regardless of what the topic is.

So here we are, with another brand new day to try to get it right this time, and I’m just so fucking angry, disillusioned, frustrated — you name it; it’s not got a good feel to it but I’m feeling it anyway.

And my daddy cat is sick, too, the only cat in the colony that actually interacts with me, so I sure don’t want to lose him. Well, I don’t want to lose any of them. But I’m trying to get him to take his medicine so that he will start feeling better (ME: Do as I say, cat, and not as I do, because I’m feeling like garbage here, too.)

One happy thing. A record I ordered probably 6 months ago is finally supposed to arrive today. I have every single song on this 2- album set, yes I do! Most of the songs, I have on several different albums. But they have included one – yes one – song that was never released before, so naturally I had to buy the whole thing. They dropped the new song on YouTube the other day, but I refused to listen to it. If it’s the only song on the collection that I haven’t heard yet, I want to put it off as long as possible.

Image result for tom petty best of everything

(Another thing I’m really getting sick and tired of is Tom Petty being dead. Enough of that already, okay? Get up, dude! It’s not funny anymore.)

Jesus.

Brain dead but still walking around!

Yes, that would describe moi yesterday.

No, not the gutter girl part — the brain dead part! Thank you very much.

I spent several days writing up some promo materials that Sandra needed for the Helen LaFrance play (Tell My Bones). And as is par for the course, Sandra’s brief text said she needed  something simple, but then it turned out that she needed a whole lot more than something simple, and a couple hours of work turned into several days of work just to create a 3-page promo.

But it’s done now and off, and now I’m back to scaling the play down to a 30-minute staged reading version. Not an easy thing to do.

I’m trying to sort of internalize the director’s notes, and trying to get a feel for his “vision” for the reading. And in the process of trying to do that – a process of psychic phenomena — I realized that I had become brain dead.

I decided that what I needed was some really strong coffee. That brings most brains quickly back from the dead, but all that it made me do was suddenly vacuum the whole house.

I have one of those bag-less vacuum cleaners, where you remove the center thingy and then click open the bottom and empty the contents directly into the trash.

Yesterday, it worked in a different way. I removed the center thingy and the bottom clicked open  on its own and deposited a whole house full of dust and dirt and cat hair and who-knows-what-all filth into a nice billowing pile in the center of my family room carpeting.

When you’re wired on really strong coffee, it’s hard not to lose your mind. Luckily, I was already brain dead, so I looked at it and said, “You’re kidding me, right?” I had to vacuum up the whole darn thing again. I was covered in dust, and I’m allergic to dust. So then I had to drop everything, throw my clothes in the wash and take a shower. By the time I was sitting in front of the play again, I was even more brain dead than before and really only capable of staring.

I’m hoping that today will be more fruitful. I’m steering clear of strong coffee, for one thing. Just let the house vacuum itself from now on.

Life is just weird, isn’t it? The brain works when it wants to work. And stares the rest of the time.

Okay, on that lofty note! I’m going back to bed!! Oops! I meant: I’m gonna get crackin’ around here. See ya, gang! I love you and thanks for visiting.