I know it’s only been 4 days since I started using the calendar method to get my work done every day (meaning, the weekly calendar I drew up where each day, I tackle only one specific thing for the entire day), however, I can’t tell you how much more manageable my life already feels.
On Friday and Saturday, I finally wrote that new flash-memoir piece and sent it off to a potential new publisher. And then I got great work done yesterday on Thug Luckless: Welcome to P-Town.
And even though it made me feel a little anxious that I won’t be working on Thug again until Friday (Fridays, Saturdays & Sundays, I have set aside for my own writing), it still felt just great to be able to sit at my desk and write, without having that voice in the back of my mind telling me I ought to stop and work on some of the other tons of stuff on my desk. (Or, actually, in piles on the floor.)
The schedule actually helps my mind feel free.
I also switched my workout schedule to early mornings, right after I meditate. That way, in my mind at least, the whole day ahead is just sort of free.
I’m not sure what it is about self-imposed structure that relieves my anxiety, but it does. But it has to be self-imposed, because when anyone, or anything, tries to impose a random structure onto my day, I really rebel against it. With every fiber of my being!!
Hence, I had real problems with school. Thankfully, I was really smart so I could always keep up with my homework, etc., but I was always skipping out on classes. And I have no recollection of how it happened, but I somehow managed to arrange it so that the signature that the Attendance Officer had on file for my mother was actually forged by me, so my excuse notes from “my mother” always matched the signature they had on file because it was actually mine.
Anyway, I always skipped so much fucking school! And still graduated up near the top of my class and was the Valedictorian on Graduation Day. (There were 2 Valedictorians — one boy, one girl.) So even that was sort of a cool thing to pull off, I guess. There I was, giving the entire Graduating Class (over 800 kids) advice on how to have a really bright future, and I’d skipped more school than all of them combined. Plus, I’d been institutionalized in a nuthouse for awhile. And had been notoriously raped. And was openly bisexual. (And had the leads in the school plays!) I mean, the entire school knew all this stuff about me. It’s just so weird to think that I was the one giving them advice.
I also recall a Home Room teacher that I had (Home Room was where you went first thing, for the attendance check in). She was about 70 years old and taught English, but I never actually had her as a teacher for any of my English classes. I was working on a poem during Home Room one morning, and I was having trouble with a specific word. I went up to her and asked her about the word or how to spell it, or something like that. And she saw that I was working on a poem.
SHE: “Do you write a lot of poems?”
ME: “Yes, I do.”
SHE: “I’d love to read them, would you bring some in and show them to me?”
ME (a bit startled): “Okay.”
And so I did. I brought her a stack of poems I’d written and she took them home with her for a few days and then gave them back.
What I actually didn’t know was that she was the teacher in charge of the school newspaper. And a few days later, random classmates were coming up to me in the halls, telling me they loved my poems.
Finally, one of my closest friends (my friend who now works for NASA in Houston and is still battling cancer), came up to me and said the very same thing. I stopped him there in the hall and said, “Why is everybody saying that?”
And it turned out that the teacher had published a bunch of my poems in the school newspaper!! Without asking me…
So weird. The entire school seemed to know every last intimate detail about me. Always. But that same teacher nominated me for inclusion in the Quill & Scroll Honor Society. (Again without telling me.) And I got in. I still have my little pin. It actually meant a lot to me. I was already taking my writing really seriously, even back then.
Although I considered myself primarily a songwriter, I did write a lot of poems.
Once, after having read Kafka’s Letters to Milena, I was so moved by it (I was a huge fan of Kafka), that I wrote a love poem about Kafka and Milena — and a train that Kafka never gets on — for my grandma up in Cleveland, and I mailed it to her. When she got it, she called me on the phone and was crying. She really loved it. (She was a Polish-Jewish immigrant who had had family members in concentration camps during WWII, etc.) (Kafka, who was Jewish, died long before the war. But Milena, who was not Jewish, died in a concentration camp in Germany for helping Jews.)
I will never forget that, obviously. Just another one of the reasons why my grandma was my most favorite human being in the entire world — she seemed to understand me and she always just loved me, just how I was. She never asked me to try to be some other way.
When she died, my family didn’t even tell me. (I lived in NYC at the time and she still lived back in Cleveland.) They didn’t tell me she had died until after she was already buried. Not only did they not want me at the funeral, I think they just wanted to spite me somehow. To hurt me, you know. (And they did. It is truly astonishing that I am able to keep any sort of relationships with even a few of my family members. )
I didn’t get to see my grandma’s grave until 15 years later. I made a special trip to Cleveland (from NYC) to see it. And there it was, her tiny grave — right next to my grandpa’s grave!
My grandpa had died one month before I was born, and I was named after him, in the Jewish tradition. My grandpa’s spirit was a big part of my childhood because I loved my grandma so much and she had loved him. And a framed photo of him that always sat on her coffee table throughout my childhood, now sits here on a bookshelf right next to my desk. I still look at my grandpa every day.
Well, what was so weird about finally seeing my grandpa’s grave, after he’d been dead close to 50 years, was that the entire time I was in elementary school in Cleveland, the schoolbus drove past that cemetery twice a day, every day, from 1966 to 1971, and NO ONE in my family had ever told me that my grandpa’s grave was in that cemetery. No one ever once took me to see his grave.
I find that just astounding. That constant feeling that I was never important enough to matter. I still deal with those feelings.
But onward. I try not to dwell on it.
Okay. Nick Cave sent out an amusing Red Hand Files letter today. You can read it here. It’s about his attempts to score a £200,000 Fazioli piano for free. (We’re now taking up an international collection to get him that piano for Christmas.) (Totally just kidding about that!!) (I sure hope I am, anyway.)
Anyway, the piece was really cute. And it sort of reminds me of myself, in a way. Because, in the near future, I am going to begin reviewing adult sex toys online. (And I’m not doing it just to score free toys — it’s more about staying au courant in the always expanding world of sextoys.) But I keep sort of fantasizing (no pun intended, actually), about how great it would be if RealBotix gave me a free, top-of-the-line Henry A.I. sexbot to sample and review!!
It would make me so fucking happy!!! But I honestly don’t see it really happening. Even a no-frills Henry is something like $8,000.
Today is the day for me to go into town and get the groceries. And then I am going to be spending the workday, getting caught up on reading other writers’ works that have been sent to me and have begun to pile up. So I feel really good about making some headway with that.
And, in the evenings, I have been thoroughly enjoying Season 3 of “Agatha Raisin”!!! So life is good, gang.
Okay, I am off to town now, in my happy little surgical-grade COVID 19-approved surgical mask!!! Enjoy your Monday, wherever you are in the world. Thanks for visiting, gang! I leave you with Tyler Jarry’s “dad packing the car for a family trip.” This is totally American. I don’t know if it will translate to dads in your country, or not. Perhaps it does!! But enjoy!! It lasts one minute. I love you guys. See ya!