Tag Archives: The Hurley Falls Mysteries

So much joy, plus sinus headache! Plus cricket!

Yes, I have a sinus headache! Too much humidity around here.

And yes, we have a cricket! In the laundry room.  Nothing but an omen for so much good luck.  However, it is 1 cricket against 8 cats. I am trying to get them to understand that the omen of good luck pertains to all 9 of us in the house (10, I guess, if you include the cricket — 20 million of us, if you include all the spiders), and not just to me! ME (to cats): Please don’t kill the cricket!! This is good luck for all of us! CATS (to each other): What the fuck is her fucking deal, goddamn it??!! She keeps letting that thing get away.

Anyway. Since I last wrote, the Hurley Falls Mysteries has continued to explode. I am so serious. I am just loving the writing of this book. It has been such a long time since I was able to really, really love the thing I was writing at any given time.

I’d been praying for this. Well, I’d been praying for 2 things, actually. The first was that I prayed for a new Muse — an actual Muse, so that I wouldn’t just fade into the nothingness of being bored to death with my own writing, which was rapidly happening. (Literally, dying from boredom, as in, starting each day saying, “okay, once the cats are gone, I’m ready to die” because even though I have so many projects in the fire, and people are sort of counting on me to keep writing, if I don’t truly love my characters and the stories they’re telling, I can take or leave all of it, and more and more, I was siding on the side of leaving it. Until — as loyal readers of this lofty blog are painfully aware,  the month of June arrived and the Muse burst into my life with a vengeance and everything, absolutely everything in my life, turned around. Almost as if the last 20 years of my life disappeared overnight,  and I was suddenly, once again, the woman I was 20 years ago, before I chose to go down some really, really misguided roads.)

The other thing I prayed for (which was sort of a counterpart prayer) was that I could somehow create a story and characters I loved for the Hurley Falls Mysteries. I was okay with the quality of the writing I was turning out, but I was not responding to any of my characters at all.   I could not give them energy.

So, anyway, the Muse arrived in June (in spirit) and took over. He did a ton of “housecleaning” for me, as it were. And just blew my life open — my heart, my mind, my creativity, my sexuality. And, in an unexpected move, I was suddenly making tons and tons of notes on that memoir I had told those publishers in England (my friends, actually) that I was “working on” last year.  Then, just as suddenly as the memoir notes poured out of me (pages, and pages and pages, almost all coming forth at 4 AM most days), the Hurley Falls Mysteries suddenly reappeared in this awesome form, that frankly, I couldn’t really believe.

Suddenly they were characters that I really loved, and they surprise me everyday with the stories they want to tell. They’re funny, sexy, dark, vulnerable, rude, and unexpected characters — almost all of them drawn from the actual founders of this crazy town I now live in, all of them buried in the graveyard a couple blocks from me — having been dead now for nearly 200 years.

I was with my friend Diane yesterday, for the first time since we went to see the Kirtland Temple with the Mormon missionaries. And I was telling her about what has been happening to me with my writing now, and about how the Hurley Falls Mysteries are going. She  knows this town now, too, and knows why I respond so strongly to it. But yesterday, she said, “Marilyn, maybe you lived there in another lifetime. The spirits just come right to you.”

It is weird how that happens here. I thought at first that it was this old house — that it was some sort of friendly portal to the spirits of this town. But now I wonder if it could just be my heart that is so open to them. They do seem like friends to me.

Well, I’ve had an incredible bunch of days since I last blogged here. I had quite a staggering phone chat with my first husband. I won’t, of course, detail it here because it is personal to him.  And I’m guessing that it bothers him enough that I write about him at all here on the blog but he is too polite to say that, however, it is sufficient to say that after we hung up, I was literally speechless. Just sort of staring at the wall and wondering which marriage he was talking about. Certainly not the one I was in with him, because  all I remember is that he was perfect and I was just a relentlessly opinionated bitch who was fucked -up all the time (bourbon and pills — this was back when you could still get pharmaceutical grade Black Beauties.) (Yes, if you know what pharmaceutical grade Black Beauties were, picture that kind of speed on 101-proof bourbon, and then picture yourself marrying that….) (And no, they weren’t prescribed for “attention deficit disorder” back then, because, back then, no one had that — we just wanted to stay awake, lose weight, fuck our brains out and act insane.) (I think he married me primarily because, back then, I looked a lot like Jackie O. on the outside and he thought I had class. Sadly, I was Dennis Hopper on the inside…)

Then, to immediately follow-up that phone conversation, that very same day, I got a proposal of marriage, for the first time in years. From a man who also used to think I looked like Jackie O. on the outside, but who knows darn well what I am like on the inside and still wants to marry that. I was so touched by that, really. I can’t even tell you how much. But I would much rather just be very frisky now & then companions because, among other complications that would be involved, I don’t want to leave this town and move back to Manhattan. Ever.

Still, you can probably guess by now that me and marriage is not the best idea, anyway. I don’t see myself getting married again — except maybe to the gorgeous guy at work. I’d marry him in a heartbeat, and not just for the sex, but because I am still so good  at making misguided decisions based on all the wrong things when it would not be in the best interests of any of the people involved. Those are the kinds of marriages that I excel at!

(In seriousness, though, I say that about him because from my lofty viewpoint of my advancing age and all my varied experiences of life, of people, the world, the spirit, and because I know I knew him in another life, I can see him from a wider perspective. I can see that his soul is already amazing. That his life has the potential for an inner landscape that will be amazing — if he allows it. You know.  I guess I would want to marry him in order to remind him, 24/7, to allow it. To let the mundane go, and allow his inner world to get amazing. I would marry him for that, and of course, the sex.)

All right, gang. On that note.  I’m outta here! Gotta get back to the world of Hurley Falls. Thanks for visiting. Have a terrific Tuesday, wherever you are in the world.

(I leave you with this — one for the Muse. Seriously. “I can only thank God it was not too late”.)

 

The Boys of Summer

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!

Weathervane Playhouse

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  fentanyl and many other medications.)

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.

 

 

 

 

That snag in the road

I realize it’s a mixed metaphor.

It stands for when you’re just tootling along on the computer keyboard, happily writing your new novel, when a single word stops you. Brings you to a sudden halt.

You ponder that word. You know it’s not the right word. But what is the right word? What would be the perfect word? Then you realize, No it’s not the word that’s wrong; it’s how you’ve structured the sentence… Hm. How to re-structure it, then?

And the next thing you know, you’re dissecting whole paragraphs and suddenly everything seems to be written in a different language than the one you thought you were writing in and the whole manuscript begins unraveling. How did that happen?

Before you do anymore damage to your otherwise perfectly reasonable manuscript — STOP. Just stop it. Stop tinkering. Close the laptop and walk away!! You are clearly not in alignment with it and nothing good can come from that.

That was yesterday, folks. I had that kind of strange writing day. Luckily, I’m 110 years old now and have had many of those types of days before and know that it will pass. I’m hoping today will be better. I’m hoping that when I open the Word file and look at the Hurley Falls manuscript, it will be back in English, the language I’m most comfortable writing in…

Actually, my secret is (and I teach this to all my writing students), there is a completed, perfect version of your book, script, poem, whatever, already in existence and all you need do is tune into that version and let it flow through you with confidence into this reality.

That’s why it’s best to walk away when you’re feeling out of alignment with something because you actually are out of alignment with it, for now, so stop trying to “fix” it and go do something fun instead.

And I did!!

I had another splendid time at the theater last night!

I saw I Hate Hamlet (Paul Rudnick, 1991). I’d never seen it before and wasn’t sure what to expect, except that it would be a comedy and that it had key elements that I would probably really enjoy (i.e., I’ve always loved John Barrymore. No, I’m not that old; he was dead before I was born, but only by about 18 years, so his reputation was still part of the overall movie and theater culture when I was growing up).

I wasn’t expecting the John Barrymore character to have so much depth, though, since the play was a comedy.  But depth it had. And I came away feeling they did a great service to John Barrymore by not simply treating him as a lush-has been.

As happened in A Chorus Line a couple weeks ago, actors who are really young (very early 20s) are in the key roles and they blew me away. An actor named William Joseph Bureau played Barrymore last night and I was really impressed with his ability to tap into something timeless and have such compassion, passion, and humor. He isn’t even out of college yet. How does that happen?? Well, happen it did!

And Jack Baylis, the young man who plays the LA actor who moves to NYC and tries to take on the role of Hamlet (under the tutelage of Barrymore’s ghost), was part of last summer’s company and was my favorite last summer.  Though last night’s play wasn’t a musical, Jack Baylis had the part of the lieutenant last summer in South Pacific and had the most beautiful voice. Literally. Clear as a bell. So suited to Broadway.  When he sang, Younger than Springtime, it was truly the highlight of my whole summer.

It’s a moment I actually keep remembering, in fact. I’m guessing that, the older I get, I’ll keep remembering that moment — when someone really young and gifted was singing Younger than Springtime and time stopped. I’m guessing I’ll keep remembering it until I can’t remember stuff anymore.

That’s what is so great about live theater — those truly magical moments stay with you long after all the useless, or unhappy, or disappointing moments of everyday life have slipped away.

Okay. I gotta get crackin’ here and take a look at Hurley Falls. Have a terrific Thursday, wherever you are in the world, gang, and enjoy whatever you’re doing! (And if you’re not enjoying it, walk away and make room for the miracles!) Thanks for visiting. See ya!

 

I couldn’t be happier, gang!

First off, I finally have a haircut. And I got it by way of standing in front of the bathroom mirror this morning and simply snip-snip-snipping it off with a small pair of barber’s scissors.

I am so darn busy — and seemingly have been since last November — that I can’t ever get myself to the hair salon in a timely manner to get my hair trimmed. Yes, just a trim. That’s all I ever need. And now the salon is but a mere 5 minute walk from my house and I still couldn’t get myself over there. So, following in the footsteps of one of my many muses who happens to cut her own hair —

K D Lang

— I finally decided that enough was enough. That I could no longer leave the house with a mile-long bunch of dead, split-ends anymore, so off they came!! (But only about 2-inches. I’m not likely to ever be as drastic as KD Lang is when it comes to hair…)

I instantly felt several pounds lighter, at least in spirit. And when I sauntered out into the world to run my errands, everyone at the gas station and at the grocery store was visibly relieved that they no longer had to look at my unsightly split-ends anymore.

Yay!

The other thing that I’m really, really happy about is that the complete revision of my mystery novel, once called The Miracle Cats, but now called The Hurley Falls Mysteries, at last started coming out onto the page on Thursday. I’m really, really happy with the new direction it’s taking, gang. I’m finally back in that space where I can’t wait to get in front of the laptop in the morning and start writing.

This first book in what I hope will be a series of Hurley Falls Mysteries, is titled: Down to the Meadows of Sleep.

The other thing that I’m super excited about is that this Wednesday, I have my ticket to the theater again. They’re now doing I Hate Hamlet (Paul Rudnick, 1991).

Loyal readers of this lofty blog — well, really long-time loyal readers of this lofty blog, who remember when I was in the throes of writing Twilight of the Immortal, my novel about Hollywood in the late nineteen-teens, early 1920s; the very same novel that, upon completion after my ten years of writing it, my agent took me to a celebratory dinner at the Chateau Marmont in West Hollywood and declared, “Marilyn, this book is your masterpiece! The only thing I can compare this to is F. Scott Fitzgerald…. but unfortunately, that’s not a good thing. No one’s buying novels like this right now” — and she turned out to be 100% correct;  well, long-time loyal readers who remember all that, will no doubt recall that I love old Hollywood.

I Hate Hamlet is, loosely, about a modern-day LA actor moving into John Barrymore’s old apartment in NYC; an apartment haunted by Barrymore, and then shenanigans ensue. Here’s a shot from the theater’s Facebook page!

I Hate Hamlet at the Weathervane Playhouse; William Bureau playing John Barrymore’s ghost.

I think it’s going to be a lot of fun!

All righty! On that happy note, I gotta go downstairs and finish doing the laundry, and then get back at The Hurley Falls Mysteries and get some good work done on that, because tonight, Endeavor returns to PBS! I need to be front & center for that, gang!

Have a great Sunday, wherever you are! Keep those miracles coming, gang! And thanks for visiting. See ya!

Shaun Evans playing Endeavor on PBS