Tag Archives: Sandra Caldwell

It Was One of those Nights

I awoke at 2 a.m. and could not fall back to sleep until 3:30. Primarily thinking about Daddycakes and feeling like I didn’t do enough to save him and wondering if he was somewhere in the afterlife, angry at me for letting him die when he should have been in the prime of his kitty life.

It’s just so different when you’re dealing with rescued feral cats. They make the rules, because they are wild animals, and then you — or me actually; I am the one who has to try to figure out if I step aside and let them have their own connection to God’s world, or do I try to intervene somehow and make a decision about life and death?

Playing God, basically.  It got to the point where the cat was simply suffering too much and my heart couldn’t handle it so I had him put to sleep.

Then of course, by feeling guilty for the decisions I made regarding him, it means I think I am God: I should have known better, or I should have known more about that cat’s life or death and the quality of it or lack of it, and just done all sorts of different things that I can’t even imagine at this point.

Honestly, how can we possibly know those things?  We make those kinds of decisions through whatever filters we have in our brains that tell us we have answers to these sorts of questions and that’s not really saying very much at all. Because we don’t know how to create life; we know how to do away with it. We simply make a decision. And that’s not saying anything at all, in the scope of what is nonphysical, I mean.

Well, I finally made myself stop thinking about Daddycakes, and instead decided to worry about the novel.

I went to the grocery store late yesterday afternoon – always an investment of time because I live in the middle of the country and the grocery store is about 4 towns away.

It was a glorious spring day. It really was. The countryside was turning that tiny spring green.  Birds everywhere. Daffodils blooming in the most unlikely places. (And you know that a person had to plant those; daffodils don’t just spring up in the middle of nowhere along the highway. And that makes me love people, because I know I’m one of the passing strangers for which those daffodils were joyfully planted.) And all along the way, the farms had all their little baby calves out now, finding their footing in the green pastures.

It was just so beautiful. A testament to the renewal of life.

I’m guessing I was listening to something by Nick Cave, but I don’t recall what. It’s always either Nick Cave or Tom Petty. My little Honda fit is overflowing with CDs by either Nick Cave or Tom Petty and one single CD of Anne Murray’s Greatest Hits. (Inside my house is another story. In there, the world overflows with music of every possible stripe and persuasion. But for some reason, none of that makes it out to the car.)

(And to see me getting into the car is ridiculous: “Oh my god, what I am going to listen to?” If I’m going to the Dollar Store, it’s a 3-minute trip and the music is not so crucial. But everywhere else I go to from here in the middle of nowhere, is a journey. It requires a soundtrack. If I’m going far, far away, like to NY, then it’s hands down Tom Petty’s LIVE Anthology, because traveling on Interstate 80 is intensely American and so you need that American rock & roll; 3-minute awesome songs about falling in love or falling out of love, or chasing a dream and that’s basically it. It could not be better or more clear cut.

(But other journeys require Nick Cave, but he can be so dicey because you never know when he’s going to throw you under the fucking bus. Which is what I love about his writing, but it can get harrowing. You can be driving along at 95 MPH, which is what I tend to do out here on these highways, listening to “Where Do We Go Now But Nowhere?” and at first you’re thinking, man what a song. Then the next minute, you have to pull over, grab your revolver from out of the glove compartment and shoot yourself because it’s just too fucking horribly SAD.

(Or, I guess, you can just turn the music off. But that’s the dilemma: you’re on a  journey that requires a soundtrack; you’re not supposed to turn it off. So I’ll sit there in the driver’s seat, engine on, looking at all the CDs and trying to figure out which one will not cause me to  want to shoot myself while going 95 mph?  Sometimes I sit there for several minutes, not going anywhere and driving myself insane.)

Anyway, I get to the grocery store, and in the parking lot, I get a message on my phone from the editor in NYC who is editing my novel, Blessed By Light.

She sends me updates, chapter by chapter, because it’s much easier to manage that way. And while all her comments thus far have been very positive, this particular message says: “This chapter kicks ass. Kudos.” Followed by comments on the next chapter: “Excellent chapter. He seems distraught, guilty, tired. Beautifully written.”

And while this made me feel good in the grocery store parking lot, at 3 a.m., alone in my bed in the guilt-ridden dark, all it did was make me wonder about the previous chapters, which were only “good”. Shouldn’t they all kick ass? Shouldn’t they all be beautifully written? Should I start all over from scratch? Am I a total failure now? I used to be a good writer.

You know, I start to doubt my sense of pacing, my sense of building a story arc, my sense of anything at all because I’ve suddenly forgotten what reality is even for. If I ever even knew, I mean.

Death does that to you. Even tiny little furry deaths.

Well, it’s another glorious spring day here in the Hinterlands. I’m going to give it all another shot and see how this day turns out.  As usual, no guarantees but I am tying so hard to be happy.  I have a wonderful novel in progress, that is sometimes good and sometimes it kicks ass.  I need to count my blessings today.

Have a good Wednesday, wherever you are in the world.  Thanks for visiting. I love you, gang. And I leave you with this! See ya.

 

Makin’ A Joyful Noise!!

Yay!! The revisions on the play (Tell My Bones) are just about done! Finally!

I should have them completed by the time the director and I are actually in the same room, sometime next week.

I had a brief phone chat with Sandra Caldwell yesterday (the actress I write for in NYC), and I tried to discuss the changes I’ve been making, based on the director’s notes, and she said, “Mm hmm. Well, just let me see everything when you’re done — and don’t get rid of your original version.”

There’s something really invigoratingly enthusiastic about that, don’t you think??!! Ah, well, gang. We shall see!!

It’s overcast here today but it’s gonna go up to about 70 degrees Fahrenheit, so I’ve already got some windows open, and I’ve got a CAT at every window, listening to all those birds singing like mad.

And at the back of my house, the starlings have indeed returned. They are keeping intact the damage they did to my gutter last year buy building more nests in it this year.

(No, I did not get it fixed last fall because my lawn guy was going to fix it (for free) but said, “You gotta clear out all those old nests first. They’re combustible.  You don’t want to seal that soffit until all that stuff is out of there.” And in what Universe — with all these constant writing deadlines that I’ve been under for the last year — would a gal like me, a ladder-less gal, I might add, have time to clean old starling nests out of soffits over my backdoor? So, no it didn’t happen, and yes, the starlings are pleased as punch and are moving right back in…!)

Anyway. Spring is here!! And as soon as I grab a minute away from my desk, I’m gonna go out there and, I don’t know, appreciate it or something!

Have a wonder-filled Saturday, folks, wherever you are in the world! Thanks for visiting! I love you! See ya!

Life, in General

Except for the fact that I wasn’t a little boy when I was growing up (unlike one of my closest female friends and colleagues), that little illustration above pretty much shows you my entire childhood.

At every possible moment, I was listening to records. And usually on one of those small portable record players pictured there. And even while that is a very isolating — well, I don’t know if that’s the best word; maybe a word like solitary is more appropriate — even though it was solitary, those were the happiest years of my life. Truly.

Even the process  of  “listening to records” nowadays has changed drastically, of course. I have a record player,  but I almost never play it. I usually just stream stuff off the Internet in one way or another.  And I play a lot of CDs in my kitchen or in my car. But it’s just not the same thing. At all.

The way of living life that I used to love is simply long gone.  I’m not trying to reclaim the past, or to live in it (yeah, I know — I bought a house that’s 118 years old, with a really cool old barn that’s 108 years old, and it’s in a tiny village in Ohio that’s close to 200 years old, and I interact with the long-dead spirits here on a daily basis; however, I do not consider any of this as living in the past! I think of it more as “sharing the different levels of reality,” or co-existing in something virtual.).

Anyway. Big digression. Sorry.

I don’t need to live in the past, but I do crave a certain simplicity. I guess that’s why I fell in love with Muskingum County and moved here. Even though it makes traveling a colossal headache.  Just getting to the nearest International airport takes an hour. I realize that when I lived in NYC for 3 decades, it took at least an hour if not more to get to either airport, but here in Muskingum County, if you want a car service to do the driving for you (as I usually preferred in NYC), it’s about $175 before the tip. So life is not quite as “simple,” living in the peaceful middle of nowhere, as it might seem.

I’m bringing all this up because I’m going to have to start traveling again in the near future and probably not stop for a long time. NYC, Toronto, Florida, and LA.  Because of the theater projects, the TV projects, and then the micro-short films and (hopefully) the music projects with Peitor. It’s all good; I’m not complaining. It’s just that there’s something still down inside me that would prefer to sit in my room and listen to records…

However. Yesterday, I continued to make great headway in the revision of the Tell My Bones script. I am almost done.  Which is, like, a really good thing because I need to meet with the director in something like 6 days.

Nothing like waiting until the final moment to get your fucking shit together.  I don’t know why it has been so difficult for me to take a 90-minute play and condense it down to a 30-minute staged reading.  Sounds so easy in the abstract, yet doing it on paper has been unbelievably hard for me. I don’t know why. But I will be so relieved when it is done. Or at least a draft of it is ready to show people.

And next week, I expect feedback on the chapters I have so far in my new novel, Blessed By Light, because I want to get that project completed, too. I really thought I’d have that novel done by Christmas, but au contraire; everything else in the world happened instead. I’m eager to see what the feedback from the editor will be, though. It is such an unusual book for me to be writing – the life of an aging rock star told in 2nd Person, from a male POV; the eroticism of his inner world, of his memories, and then the redemption of his life.

I still don’t know why I’m writing it, but I do really love the book. I can’t wait to be able to really focus on it again.

Well, on that note, gang, I’m gonna tackle the revision of Tell My Bones now. Inching my way toward the finish line.

Have a wonderful day, wherever you are in the world. I leave you with the songs I’m listening to, although not on my record player, as I yearn for that simpler world I used to have:

Sun Kil Moon’s new album, I Also Want to Die in New Orleans

And Grinderman’s Go Tell the Women from 2007

Okey-doke! Thanks for visiting! I love you. See ya!

You Remember THIS Guy, Don’t’cha??!!

Yeah, baby! He’s the little weasel of love!

That cute little furry thing that gets down deep into your intestines and scurries around in there, gnawing on stuff and filling you with anxiety, when all the while you’re wondering , truly, what on earth IS the human race? And more importantly, what IS love?

This time of year, I do the Lenten prayers every morning before I even get out of bed. And I recently began doing the daily lessons of A Course in Miracles again, too. Also before I even get out of bed. These two practices, in some ways, give you polar opposite approaches to the teachings of Jesus Christ, although the Lenten prayers I practice come from the Franciscans, who are decidedly open-minded and philosophical, so there are underlying similarities to the two, as well.

Loyal readers of this lofty blog know that I am an ordained minister; I got through Evangelical Divinity School with a magna cum laude gpa; that I was raised by an adoptive family in Cleveland who were strict, conservative Jews and so I hid my devotion to Jesus until I was 14 years old; that I’m also deeply interested in the history of ancient Christianity, primarily First Century followers of the Jesus Movement. Normally, the history of Christianity and the theology of Christianity make for exceedingly strange bedfellows.

And since I normally sleep in the same bed with myself, you can imagine just how strange I am. All of this is a constant tumble in my head. Sometimes sending me barreling into absolute insanity.

But I take it all really seriously: the human condition; these multiple layers of reality that reveal wildly different suggestions of what’s really going on here. And of course, and more importantly, I constantly ponder the existence beyond this present one — this one that oddly seems so real.

Love is currently side-lining me again, as usual. And so I’ve been pondering the nature of love. I sat at my breakfast table this morning, listening to The Boatman’s Call on the CD player. (WARNING: Do NOT do this if you are sitting alone at your breakfast table at 6am, pondering the nature of love!! Just don’t do it!! Turn it off!)

So I turned it off. A word to the wise is sufficient.  I could not let the situation at hand get so far as song #4 on the CD, which is Brompton Oratory, or I would probably grab a butter knife and saw helplessly at my wrists… (Brompton Oratory is such a fucking beautiful song that I would only advise listening to it when you’re having one of those days where absolutely nothing matters to you at all. Otherwise, you will never live through it. Listening to the song, that is.)

Anyway. I digress.

I came to the conclusion — a conclusion I’ve come to before, btw, but this time it loomed huge and undeniable in my awareness: love is only and always a reflection of what you are putting out there. What you put out there and how you are feeling at any given moment, is just getting reflected right back at you.  Because what you perceive is always filtered through you and always projected through you and always interpreted through you.

So when you love somebody, or an animal, or a pet spider, or an entire movement of some sort, that feeling of love you get in return is really all about how you love yourself. At the very bottom line, that’s what it is. The love you think you’re sending out into the world (and of course, you are actually doing that) is all about how you are loving yourself. It has little to do with the “other.”

What it does have to do with the “other,” in my opinion, is that we are all coming from the very same starting point within the creation of energy itself — once you dig down deep enough, go back far enough, remove enough of the layers of what we consider reality.

So, yes, that means that I believe that to love each other means we are, in the truest sense, loving ourselves.  And that’s why I believe so strongly in forgiveness, too. We don’t really forgive others, we forgive ourselves.

So that’s what I was thinking about this morning.  And I felt kind of good about that; the idea that everything that’s coming back at me, even when I find it inexplicable on its surface, is just telling me a little more about how I love myself.

And yesterday, gang.  I finally made some needed headway on the revisions of the play! (Tell My Bones, which both Sandra and the director are patiently awaiting in NYC.) Thank you, God. I still have a ways to go, but that really troublesome spot I’d been languishing in for a few weeks already  is finally behind me! Yay. I am well into the midway point, but I was at it for 8 solid hours yesterday — and I am talking about 8 hours, primarily focused on 2 pages. And once I finally conquered those 2 pages, I got through 4 more before I had to call it a day.

The backs of my hands were aching and the back of my neck was in spasms from being hunched over this crazy laptop for so long yesterday. But then I did yoga while focusing very spiritually on reruns of the Dick Van Dyke Show and LMAO, and that seems to have taken care of  all the joint and muscle pains. And we will begin the process all over here today until the revision of this play is done.

So I guess life is good.  And thanks for visiting! Gang, I leave you with this, but DON’T watch it if you’re on the borderline of anything emotionally dicey! Otherwise I cannot be held responsible.  Okay, I love you! See ya!

Up those stone steps I climb
Hail this joyful day’s return
Into its great shadowed vault I go
Hail the Pentecostal morn

The reading is from Luke 24
Where Christ returns to his loved ones
I look at the stone apostles
Think that it’s alright for some

And I wish that I was made of stone
So that I would not have to see
A beauty impossible to define
A beauty impossible to believe

A beauty impossible to endure
The blood imparted in little sips
The smell of you still on my hands
As I bring the cup up to my lips

No God up in the sky
No devil beneath the sea
Could do the job that you did, baby
Of bringing me to my knees

Outside I sit on the stone steps
With nothing much to do
Forlorn and exhausted, baby
By the absence of you

c – 1997 Nick Cave

Holy McMoly!!

Man, was I sick.  3 long weeks of that garbage. But I finally broke down and went to the clinic over the weekend. They promptly put me on 4 different meds, all of which had to be taken at different times, in different quantities, and that alone can make a sick mind really rebel against the system. But I am finally almost well!

Jeepers, that took forever.

While I was down for the count, I laid in bed and watched a  lot of YouTube stuff on my phone.  You know, I really hate to watch those indescribably “unofficial” videos of concerts  other people make with their phones,  because I know the entertainers really wish that people wouldn’t do that.  There is no quality control whatsoever, and of course there is no way for the entertainer to “merchandize” that.

And yet…

I was not able to resist watching Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds in concert in Saint Petersburg Russia last July recorded (not at all well) on some Russian guy’s phone.

And I am talking terrible sound quality. And I am talking terrible visual quality. And yet I am still talking: What a mesmerizing concert. Even under those wretched video conditions. Often, the guy taping it couldn’t keep pace with Nick Cave moving all over the stage and so only God knew what we were suddenly looking at. And sometimes  his phone would drop briefly and he would only be capturing the backs of the heads of the people in front of him. And I would find myself calling out to him in my horrifying laryngitis-infused gasp: “Dude, dude!! Fix your phone!! I can’t see!!” As if I were actually there beside him, watching it all on his phone.

Yes, I feel a little guilty. I didn’t pay the 3 billion rubles the actual tickets must have cost, and the sound & visuals were awful, plus I was hopped-up on various cold meds throughout, yet it was still astoundingly cool. A great show.

And I have to say to all you Americans out there reading my blog; yes, you who steadfastly refuse to listen to Nick Cave — I must say that all those Russians, who speak a language that could not be more dissimilar to English if it tried; yes they were all singing along in English to those lofty Nick Cave songs and you can’t even be bothered to listen to them in your own native language. A word to the wise is sufficient!

Okay!! Onward.

I am hoping against hope to get back at the revisions of Tell My Bones today. I have been so sick that it was hard to even get out of bed, let alone to think in an even remotely creative way. And of course the clock is ticking.  Sandra and the director of the play patiently await my revisions in NYC  so that rehearsals can begin!

Nothing like a  little pressure and a whole lot of stress to get those creative juices churning… But here we go, gang.

I hope all is going good in your part of the world! Sorry for my prolonged absence. Thanks for visiting. I love you!! See ya!

(I know you’re not gonna listen to it, but here’s one of my (many, many) favorites from about 20 years ago or so. Thank god we don’t have to learn this whole song in Russian….)

Please bear with me as I attempt to post…

I’m still sick! But the good news is that I feel a lot better.

I dragged myself from the sick bed in an effort to share with you Sandra Caldwell’s newest photo. I love it so much!!

Sandra Caldwell. The actress I write for in NY.

The only down side to this new photo (there were actually several new photos from this shoot that were just wonderful, gang), is that she is back in NYC now, gearing up for rehearsals for the staged reading of my play, Tell My Bones.

I say “down side” because I have not yet written the staged reading version of my play, Tell My Bones. Because I’ve been so fucking sick.

Structurally, it’s ready to go. I did a lot of work before I got sick. But there is still a whole lot of revising, tweaking, paring down that I need to do to the text of it. And I need to have a truly keen presence of mind to do that, guys. Because everything imaginable hangs on the staged reading being a success.

I got out of bed primarily for Holy Communion today — Ash Wednesday. And felt reasonably good. But as the morning has gone on, I keep sinking back down to feeling not-so-good.  I was up literally half the night coughing my lungs out. In that horrific way where you can’t catch your breath, and you’re pissing into your PJ bottoms, and you’re thinking you’re literally going to hack a piece of your lung out of your mouth — and yet you know that you’re on the mend because you’re coughing up everything that accumulated for the past week. So surely you must be getting better!!

And even though I felt like I was gonna die from that horrible hacking, I was also in this wonderful euphoria because I am so fucking in love with my guy and he had texted me such a cute little string of emojis before I went to sleep and it was still on the screen of my phone. So it just kept making me smile, you know?

ME (all night): Cough, smile. Cough, smile. Cough, smile.

So. I feel happy; I feel pressured to get well enough to work on the play today; maybe even wash my hair, which is truly horrifying to behold. It promises to be an interesting day.

Oh, also. I saw on Instagram this morning that Lukas Nelson (son of the very famous Willie), and Dhani Harrison (son of the famous George), Jakob Dylan (son of the indescribably famous Bob) and Adria Petty (daughter of Tom, who I heard today is no longer dead, thank God — wait, that was probably fake news). Anyway, all of these offspring of hugely famous songwriting men are involved somehow in Lukas Nelson covering a previously unreleased song of Tom Petty’s.

Okay, now. This clearly means that anyone in the Universe could cover a previously unreleased song of Tom Petty’s and I’ll be forced to buy it! Well, I already buy Lukas Nelson CDs, but come on. If Taylor Swift covers a previously unreleased song of Tom Petty’s I will be forced to refuse to listen to it, or to buy it. And how will I stand that??

Hey, though, that reminds me. A fellow blogger from Australia, a1000Mistakes, recently turned me onto Tropical Fuck Storm and I really like them!! And also regurgitator! So I leave you with some new favorite songs: You Let My Tyres Down, by Tropical Fuck Storm, and Weird Kind of Hard, by regurgitator.

Okay! Listen and enjoy, gang. Thanks for visiting. I love you so much! See ya.

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.