Sunday, November 29, 2009

Princeland cont

OK, here we go back to Princeland. This is a story that will have many installments as it was a long relationship and I am trying to find a way to tell it....the best and most honest way that I can do so....

Driving to the recording studio I had stopped channeling Helen Keller and was back to my chatty and somewhat loud self. We girls from Michigan tend to be that way. Just plain LOUD!!!
So as I was zipping along through the Los Angeles streets in my little cream corvette [baby your much too fast!] I was feeling like I was living a dream. A rather loud one at that...

The night was crisp and seemed so bright although it was the wee hours of the morning. The streets we pretty empty but I was full. Full of excitement and desire and amazement. The moon glowed and the stars twinkled. Or maybe it was just the shine coming off my new found friend.

My mind was racing with millions of thoughts.... I wondered what would happen next. I wondered why he wanted us to come with him.Why us??? Why not the masses who approached him at the bar??? I was after all just a young, inexperienced and unsophisticated girl from Michigan. Yes, just a girl, not even a woman yet. Not even close. Growing up in middle America allows one to grow up more slowly than in L.A. And I had only been here a few months. My head kept spinning trying to figure it all out.

There must be something I was missing, I thought. We are following this man to the recording studio? Not stalking like the crazed fans that we were, no, we were invited??!!! I surmised from my eternally boring lack of self worth place that PRN must be into my friend Judy. A beautiful, statuesque mil ado woman with exotic features to match no other. Yes, she was my brothers girlfriend but they were not exclusive. I have to admit she was cool but there was the eternal haze of Valium around her which I found unattractive. But most did not notice, they just thought she was really mellow. It was the 80's after all and most people were high on something.

I am fond of using peoples initials. PRN stands for Prince Rogers Nelson. Yes, it is his birth name. His father was a musician, a funny, funky and at times volatile man. Purple Rain is quite autobiographical and was meant to be about he and Vanity. Replaced by the awful [my opinion] Apollonia. Even though the name comes from Godfather II where Micheal Corleone goes to Sicily and marries a young woman who gets blown up in a car shortly there after, to me she was still, just, Yuck. Also the film contains the ever present added ingredient of Hollywood "based on a true story" bullshit.

To be with PRN in his environment is to enter a kingdom like no other. From the inside of the limo to the decor of his Minneapolis home. Or a temporarily inhabited hotel room to a recording studio. His unique mark permeates all time and space. All 5 senses are engaged. There are gorgeous colors, pillows, silks, feathers. Candles everywhere day or night, a habit I cannot shake myself. Incredible smells of perfume, incense and beauty. In this place,yes, beauty actually has a smell. Dark, warm and inviting colors. And, of course, the funky back beat from the very soul of the man.

We took the right off of Sunset on Cherokee and an immediate left into a private, gated parking lot that Chick motioned for us to follow them into. As I shakily parked, a feeling it took awhile for me to conquer being around him, PRN waited patiently. He immediately shared that he had been here recording for days . Sometimes he'd record all night and come back right after a brief nap or a trip to a local club for inspiration as was the case tonight. This was what I affectionately came to call Princetime. And it was odd hours.

I recently heard that Micheal Jackson would keep similar hours. And was said to believe that when God gave him a song if he didn't write it down immediately, God would give it to PRN. I believe that it is the other way around actually. But I guess I am biased. Chris Rock has a funny rif about this. He said that in the 80's everyone would fight about who was cooler, PRN or MJ. Well, guess what, he says.... Prince won!!!!! I agree completely. RIP-MJ.

It was an old red brick building where many high level musicians came to record over the years. We went through a series of locked, gated doors to get to the entrance of an outdoor corridor that had 4 or 5 different door leading to separate recording studios. This area had a few benches and a basketball net that PRN would frequent . He loved basketball and once confided that he played in school until everyone kept growing taller than he so he had to stop much to his dismay. To release some energy, or just have a break he'd go out there and play. Like any guy, right?

Only what he was taking a break from was a kind of genius that is rare. One that I was soon to observe firsthand. He taught himself to play every instrument as a young teenager. At this point he was recording for his next album. Or maybe it was for The Time, one of the many bands he created. He also has an unlimited vocal range. Who knows if this devotion and drive came from the disappointment of having to quit basketball or the pain in his life at home or just the deep human need to be creative and connect with people.....I don't know. But I was deeply moved by it all.

As we entered his particular studio, the first one on the left, his music filled the room. He would over the years use the same studio, a creature of habit like myself. The technician had been hard at work editing the track they had been focused on to PRN's specifications. He was a perfectionist as you might have guessed, clear and clean. He did not indulge in drugs at all and barely drank. Only a little Remy Martin sometimes.

It was in this moment that I first glimpsed the professional musician who demanded the same of others as he did himself. The techie had NOT listened to what he had been told to do and was instantly corrected and put back on task. PRN knew what he wanted it to sound like and did not want this techie's input. Not offensively, just TRUE to his vision. An example for me of a commitment to his voice/his truth and a work ethic that influenced the rest of my life. He simply did not need to be liked by this man. It was an amazing level of self respect.

Of course, I had gone mute, again. But it never seemed to bother him. Like he could see a me inside that I had not even discovered myself. Years later he would say to me....."I would put you in a movie and make you a star, but I am having too much fun watching you do it all by yourself." I guess he watched me blossom in a lot of ways into a woman and a professional one at that. As I write, I am discovering what a deep effect he had on me on all of these levels. I am excited to continue to realize more.

Are you?????

The technician back on track, it was time to add the drums to the track of guitar PRN had recorded before meeting us at the bar. He sat and played, I watched...... It was not a complex beat but just right. He never seems to feel the need to over do it. It is so interesting to watch and hear a song come together. To feel the pieces fitting and complimenting each other.

The drums complete, it did not take long it was on to the next piece. They had a few cokes bottles with different amounts of liquid in them and he tapped them with silverware for the next track. It was simply amazing. It sounded so great. In remembering, it was for a song for The Time. Listen to "Cool" and you will hear it. It is immediately recognizable if you know what to listen for.

This went on a few hours what with recording and editing and all. Much to my frustration Judy was going down and wanted to go home to bed. I could've stayed all night but in my muted state, I just shrugged and followed her lead. So we said our farewells and left. Was it disappointment I was seeing on his face? I could not tell. He did not seem to resist or try to encourage us to stay.

I felt sick to my stomach. I was certain this was the only time I'd ever see this magical man again in my life. It made me sad. I walked as slowly as I could to the car ignoring the complaints of Judy and her withdrawal shakes in the cool air. We climbed in my car and I went to back up when Chick appeared at my window and knocked.

"Prince wants to know if he can call you, Sherri?" Uhhhhh, of course. I stammered and fumbled for something to write on. I was all thumbs and nothing about me was cool. Thank God Chick had all bases covered. He smiled amused at my behavior, no doubt he'd witnessed it before in countless others. And he handed me a pen and paper. Uhhhhh, [next problem] I almost could not remember my phone number but at least my voice had returned.... Although now my brain was MIA. Uhhhhh...... Then Judy came out of her haze and saved me. She gave my number and we were off into the night. In my little cream corvette.

We sang together blasting my now declared theme song. "Little red corvette, baby your much to fast, yes you are." The sky starting to wake up with gorgeous shades of orange and red. I loud and proud from Michigan. Judy a little hazy but fueled by the fact that she'd be home soon so her Valium supply could be refreshed.

Many adventures to follow......before and during..... when in a year or so I met my very first true love and very first long term 3 1/2 year committed relationship with "The world's sexiest man" according to People mag. To me, he was just my Johnny and we were just two young people from small towns with stars in our eyes and dreams of becoming actors. We met through our agency and were cast in an AFI film.......directed by Laurie Frank. She is fond of saying,"There is casting. And then there is DIVINE casting."

But that is another story.....

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Blah, blah, blah

It is still dark outside. I have been awake since 4am. I reworked some of my Prince blog. I will need to do that more often, there were a lot of dumb mistakes. Sorry. I am worried, I am a worrier. I know this is not a real word but I don't care. Its all so redunkulous. Capice, redunkulous? My absolute favorite new word. This is a kind of meaningless rant, you may anat to move on to a different blog.... Your choice, but don't say that I didn't warn you.

I do not know what the next days, months, years of my life hold. I know that I never really knew anyway, it just felt more comfortable thinking I did. I don't know that I want to act again after all these years of doing it. I certainly will only do it on my terms. In other words, I will only commit if I really love the role and the people involved. Feel an honest level of commitment and integrity in the project. It seems reasonable but trust me that in Hollywood, it is rare.

I want to write in a professional capacity but have no idea if it is possible. Or what form that might take. I always thought that my ideal man-partner would be a writer. That is me, always looking outside for the answers that can only be found inside. Now I think that the writer-partner I have been looking for is me.

After running from me for so many years this is a somewhat startling realization. Am I really all I have been seeking all this time. Like the proverbial running on a hamster wheel? It seems to simple. And quite anti climatic. I guess I should've made that right turn at Albuquerque.

I thought of writing a tell all book. To finance then directing a few documentary ideas that have been close to my heart. Or maybe a tell some. Some people would be mad or hurt, I am certain. It is not what would stop me though. I say my truth, I can't help myself. I frankly have no idea what it is that stops me right now.

Maybe that I am a full time mother right now of a 15 and a 2 year old. That I am taking care of them and juggling a confusing relationship. Sometimes love is not enough. Sad but true. I have no idea whatsoever if this relationship will work out. I am tired of working. It seems I work at everything. I wait for the chapter of my life when things get easier, lighter, with less work. It never comes.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Prince: A magical, mystery ride.

I was 18 and had moved here, fresh out of Michigan for only a few months when we met. Coming from the home of Motown I was a lover of Prince ...anything and everything he did. What a carpet I would cut to his funky beats in my bedroom. How many nightclubs I had snuck into and as they spun only a few notes of his unique music I would be up, screaming and running to the dance floor. He was the prince, my prince ...I would fantasize. I thought he was so beautiful, so sexy, so well, soooooooo! I did not dream of Leif Garrett or whoever the teen mags showed, I dreamed of Prince. He was my Prince Charming.

I went with my oldest brother Leo, also a huge fan [Sorry but Micheal who????] to see his Controversy show while we were still living in Michigan. Vanity 6 played first, then The Time, then the man of the hour. It was fantastic. All music penned by my Prince, I was in awe and in love. I watched him running around backstage and playing with the gorgeous Vanity. They looked like a perfect couple, their kids would've been scary beautiful for sure. Thankfully for me, it never went that far. But back then, as just another fan behind the railing, what did I know.

So now, in the city of Lost Angels I was. Just another angel among the masses and as lost as the next..... still sneaking into nightclubs and being a crazy 18 year old. One night me and my brothers girlfriend Judy went to dance at Carlos and Charlies. It was on the infamous Sunset Blvd and was an exclusive nightclub above a restaurant. Dressed beyond my 18 years in my hot 80's garb, a white leather mini and matching motorcycle jacket. Camisole, inspired by Vanity 6, a look Madonna would later steal as her own as she stole MANY things from my Prince. And short sexy silver and white boots. It was on, crouton. Dancing, drinking, and gasping as I looked over and saw my Prince walk in the door. I almost died and am certain I cried.

He was small, my size, not the giant from the concert I remembered. He had on colorful clothes and high heeled boots which did little to increase his physical stature. He was still a god to me. As pretty as I thought he'd be. Maybe prettier. And oh, so sexy. The club parted like the red sea as he made his way to a great table right next to the dance floor where he could partake of a favorite habit of his. Watching people dance, sometimes getting up himself. Seeing what the pulse of the crowd was in terms of what music they were listening too.

The DJ would of course begin spinning as many of his records as he could get away with. Not realizing that it irritated Prince a bit because to him all of his current music on the radio is very old now. He has written so much new music since then and does not even like the old stuff anymore. He is prolific. Has 100 times mores music that anybody has or will ever hear. Some is simply for his own enjoyment. But he did enjoy when the people danced to it with enthusiasm, which was partly fueled by the fact that he was sitting right there.

Some of the women were simply embarrassing themselves, bumping and grinding frenetically, desperate for a glance from him. He is a somewhat shy man and that was just a turn off. "Act your age, baby, not your shoe size & maybe we can do the town!" He would almost always say no thanks when people came and asked him to dance. Drunk, overt, slutty girls on drugs did not interest him in the slightest. This was after all part of the research for his artistry.

There was no entourage, just a huge bodyguard with long white hair and a mustache. He looked like he was in a motorcycle gang, threatening. A part of Hell's Angel's in the city of Lost Angels. I would later get to know his name was Chick. He was a gentle giant but took care of the business of keeping the prince safe at all costs. Lets face it, drunk fans can be a bit daunting. In a word...R-U-N !!!!

Judy and I watched him from the background for awhile. Truth be told, I could not take my eyes off of him. Then Judy, bold as she was with the ever present valium in her bloodstream wanted to go ask him to come sit with us. Oh my!!! He won't. Are you crazy I asked her!!! Why would he??? He has turned down WHATEVER the numerous girls that had approached him asked. God no!!! Just leave it Judy. My night had been made just laying my eyes upon him..... But Judy would not take no for an answer and literally dragged me over to him.

As we stood in front of him ,Chick arose the ever vigilant protector of the crown. I froze. Deer caught in the headlights. Heart pounding out of my chest. I had never been this close to a star, let alone THE star. The star of my secret love and fantasies..... She said simply,"Do you want to come sit with us?" It seemed an eternity before he answered. The pulse of the music unable to beat the rate of my heart. My mouth turned dry as sandpaper. Standing there, ugh, what should I do with my hands. A selfconcious thought I often had when first started doing film work as an actress. I nudged Judy, lets just go I indicated. He looked me up and down, then Judy.......Then stood up and said,"OK." And followed us to our humble table.

I think I barely spoke three words but I danced with he and Judy. Then with just him. He had golden eyes that were playful and mischieveous. He would watch me as I moved around him to the beat. I thought I was Vanity, I rocked. I shimmied and shook and felt so alive. I had so much fun. Sure I had gone mute but I still had fun. That ever illusive fun I seem to have lost the ability to have now as a 44 year old woman.

He was also very smart and funny when he did speak over the blaringly loud music. He was wise and flippant and would tell jokes. He had this low kind of husky sexy voice. Not high pitched like a woman's as I would later experience MJ to have when I met him with Prince. He was simply cool. Either you are or you aren't and he was. Still is. "I'm so cool...ow.ow.ow. Ain't nobody bad like me!"

The crazy part came a little bit later when he asked if we wanted to come to the recording studio with him. Jesus, what was happening. This was not, could not be real. Of course we took the invitation floating on cloud 9, hoped in my little cream corvette and off went following he and Chick in his limo.

This was the beginning of a beautiful friendship/relationship that would span the next decade of my life...

to be continued...... hehehe....if you like??!!!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

FUN I say. [Recently revised 11/24]

A few months ago my man of 3 years and the father of our 2 year old called to declare that we were gonna have a date that evening. And we were gonna have FUN!!! Even if it kills us, I thought but dared not say it. You see, our relationship has moved at warp speed and been quite tumultuous. So to do this after a week of fighting, of potential break ups, of all of was not easy for me to jump on board wholeheartedly.

As he came home and we gathered our stuff there was a strained feeling in the air. He kept laughing uncharacteristically loud. It felt forced, determined as he was to have that fun he spoke of. He is a passive kind of person. And has a tendency to people please and leave his truth on the doorstep. He is NOT this guy in front of me right now. I almost feel shy around him in this current incarnation. Who is this man???

I start to I really know him at all? Does he know me? Let alone like me? Sometimes it seems like he does not. And if we are both still discovering who we are, what if we find out that we don't fit..... Stop it I thought. So I pulled myself out of this introspection to get on with our date of "fun".

We arrived at the restaurant after some small talk on my part and a lot of boisterous laughing on his. It was still unclear to me who he was....

"Where would you like to sit? Inside or out?" Uh-oh. A potentially un-fun moment in the date. It was still very hot outside and where I knew it will get cool soon, it had not yet. I hate the heat. I am a Michigan girl at heart. So, I know he wants to be outside so I relent. Or more honestly, I lie. But he knows me better than I give credit and makes an executive decision to eat inside instead. Smart move, I am beginning to recognize him now.

I have a deep fear. One of many actually. I fear that I do not know HOW to have fun anymore. Maybe that is why I felt a shyness then. That and I have a tendency to go mute in the face of bullshit. How can we be denying the extreme things we have been talking about and dealing with lately??!!! Fun, fun, fun.

An interesting moment shifted the tone when our waitress first came over to us. Tall and pretty with a head full of messily pinned up ringlets everywhere. She was thin like an ostrich. After she introduced herself she exclaimed,"We are short one busboy so we are all running around but its gonna be FUN!" We laughed. Maybe honestly for the first time that evening. It seemed some unseen force was helping us after all.

So we ate.....oysters, clam chowder, crab cakes and spinach salad. We shared our meal, as always. I have no memory of what we spoke of during our meal but I am sure it was light. An avoidance of any of the real issues that were on the table, so to speak. We had a plan and we were sticking to it. The wine loosened me up at bit. I was not sure of anything in my life in that moment. I was scared and scarred. And most of all....too old to feel this way.

As we walked into a bowling alley, there was the sound of crashing pins, laughing, talking and cheering. With all this activity I realized I missed this. I used to go bowling with my brothers and our father. I excitedly give my shoe size anticipating a pair of cute bowling shoes. I like them, always have.

The man hands me a pair, shiny, clean and surprising not stinky. I feel like a child. Why would clean bowling shoes produce such joy in me? Dark blue and deep burgundy with bold white pipping. Mmmmmmmmmmmm.... Like I was trying a new pair of Manolos...... I savor the moment. They fit perfect and make my feet look small even after having gained a shoe size after schlepping two babies in my body over the past 16 years.

Shoes in place, it is time to move on to the next ritual bowling experience. The choosing of a ball. I try many, first I go for the colors I like. A girl through and through. But of course the ones I am drawn to are Too heavy. With my recent injury I realize I must go with the lightest ball they have. A mere 6 lbs and this cuts down my color choices significantly. Bummer. But I manage to find a bright orange one. I am now drawn to orange as I realized it is the color of the Tibetan monks, a powerful color.

As I tested my swing with it I was flooded with memories of what my father taught me about the key to bowling.
Keep your wrist straight. That's all. Just always keep it straight with follow through. I did a few practice swings and was ready to go. No Laverne and Shirley episode here. I used to get a lot of gutter balls until that golden key was given to me.

These were unfortunately the kind of keys my parents gave to me. No wonder I am such a mess. Ones that really did not matter much unless [in this case] I was in a bowling alley. These crumbs meant the world to me though. Another memory of the bowling experience came as my brothers and I fought to write our own names on the score keeping screen. My family has always called me Sherri. But up until then, I spelled it Sheri. Well, my father corrected me. He said I was named Sheryl, but would always be called Sherri. With two R's. Sheryl for the catholic, appropriate version though. Like Christopher to be called Chris.

He said this with such passion and conviction, I would never forget it. Or maybe it was that he was focused on me at all created the moment of importance that really did not exist. Perception.

This bowling is an event for me. You see,I stand on the outskirts of life. I rarely go into the city to party, to connect. My fear freezes me. To "stand" is to be more active than a "couch potato."

I remember this picture of me as a 3 year old girl. My dress is so short, too short. I am clearly in need of some new, larger sized clothes. Neglect. My white maryjanes are beaten to a pulp.....

I was directed by my grandfather to,"Stand up straight !!!" So there I am, arms pinned to my sides. My legs tightly pulled together. So much tension that my shoulders are almost up to my ears. I am standing as straight as physically possible. Desperate to please. To be seen as a good girl. A lovable girl. As a pretty girl. Pretty is important to this family. Boys should be strong and unemotional and girls....pretty.

Another crumb bestowed upon me by my never present mother was that I had "naturally curly hair!" This crumb of attention became my calling. I would tell anyone who would listen this piece of wisdom my mother had bestowed upon me. I would run up to complete strangers on the playground:
"My mommy says I have naturally curly hair," I would pridefully exclaim and then run off to continue to play.

It seems in retrospect I was screaming I AM IMPORTANT!!! I have something special. Look at me . Watch me. SEE ME. Because I felt invisible. A little person that nobody wanted to take care of. So the crumb became my own little feasts. And during my feasts, I had FUN. Or did I?

All the ritualistic choices made, it was now time to put my fathers wisdom to work. Would I just throw a bunch of gutters? would I score some strikes? I hoped for the best but anticipated the worst. Kind of mirrors the patterns of my own thought processes. And that of my life. I suppose we all have a variety ups and downs. Good scores and some, not so much. Is everything connected or is this just the way my brain works.

Well, it turned out I owe my father a big thanks. I did really well. No gutters and a few strikes and spares. Hey, it seems it is a new day. No more gutters of life. I am going for the strikes. And as insignificant as the feasts of my crumbs seemed, they gave me something to hold onto where there was very little. And something is better than nothing.

I hope I will find out.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

What the fuck too so long???!!!

Wow...... I promised myself that I would not read comments but after waiting so long to actually write again, I did. A secret self sabotage, I thought people would mirror my lack of worth, dodgy uneducated writing skills, you name it..... only to be shocked to the point of tears. So I sit hear, tears drying, Wall-e playing for my "what can i fuck with next", angel 2 year old boy. Yes, yes I know, a contradiction. I seem to be a walking one. I need to thank you who have shared these kind words with me. It is astounding to me that complete strangers seem to actually care and sometimes have kinder words than those close to me. It shows me that we are all connected and there is much love in this world. Thank you.

I need to remember this right now because I have just been passing out of a kind of dark night of my soul. A time where I watched my world crumbling around me, and where I have accountability for some of it, as is often the case, it takes more than one to create a storm. Yet in my self hate and lack of self worth, for a period of time I let ALL the blame fall on me. It almost took me down. I thought I was seriously losing my mind, was certain I did not deserve to live and was completely unstable. I have never experienced anything like this before in my life.

I have read it is called a phoenix process. A death and a rebirth but fuck, labor HURTS. I went so low that I believe I went into a sort of collective body of fear and negativity....... And am thankful to have turned a corner, gotten my power/truth back. I learned a lot about myself and am showing up in my life in a different way. It is not always easy because old habits are hard to break but I am day by day feeling more grounded and actually, God forbid, loving myself.... All of me. How shocking.....

My grandmother was a mother figure for me.....for better or worse. As she was dying of cancer I flew back and forth to Texas [NOT my hometown but where she resided] to be with her as much as possible for her last months in this life. I was 28 then and frightened to lose the strongest, most stable element of my life since my childhood. As I told her I was afraid and what would I do without her, she assured me that all would be fine. Then she said what I have never forgotten.... She said that there is only LOVE. That is all that mattered because it was behind everything. EVERYTHING. I realize this is not a new concept. Shortly after she passed I was pregnant with my first son.

My mentor, friend, teacher and father figure was a great man named Roy London. He too began his swan song shortly after my grandmother flew away. My heart was breaking wide open. But someone said that if your heart breaks enough, it starts to look like lace....... I saw Roy as much as possible fighting morning sickness and the heart break. I was told a story by his lover that I will also not ever forget.

In the last few days of my sweet Roy's life, he had a burst of energy and keep trying to get out of his hospice bed. He said he had made a mistake and needed to teach one more class before he died. He said he had been wrong. That all this time he thought it was power or love that was the motivation behind all scenes, scripts, stories. And that now he knew.... it was love. It had always been love and always would be. That that was all there is...

So the same message from two of the most loved and influential people in my life. In retrospect, other than a burning bush???? Turning knowledge into being seems a difficult task. And maybe its not something we can do, but that it does us. When the time is right. Those deaths took place 16 years ago and I am finally getting it on a deep level. I guess I am a slow learner.

So I think of another quote by a wonderful teacher on the planet right now. His name is Jeff Foster. He says:
"Love is not something you can do. Its all there is."

I will close with that. Happy to have actually written again with more to come. At least a few a week. And again, thank you, thank you, thank you for the LOVE you have all shown me.