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Robin & Jim DEVOlving at the Beachland Ballroom, August 15, 2015

Robin & Jim DEVOlving at the Beachland Ballroom, August 15, 2015

This summer’s treks to points west were good ones. Over the past couple years, the odd niche of concert performance, kirtan, SubGenius shenanigans, and Devo worship has been fun. It also reminds me that the width of Pennsylvania is substantial, and that a gig or two along the way to Ohio would make for reasonable stopping points. I have made such idle complaints from time to time. For the most part, I am happy to travel, often alone. I’ve taken a lot of life that way.

I still thrive with a fair amount of aloneness. Lately, there has been more time filled by getting emotionally in line with writing than actually writing, but I’ve recognized that as a necessary part of my process. I don’t love this fact, but it is what it is for now.

I am happy to say that the balance of aloneness to togetherness has changed in the direction I’d hoped. Back on 2011 I wrote about preparing a place in my heart, mind, and home for poly family. It has been a long road and for a while it was best to mostly forget about. I didn’t dwell in a state of constant longing or go on a relationship quest. That hasn’t been my way. I have, though, allowed myself to be conscious of the intention.

This summer was the first time I took the mini tour to the Cleveland area with a partner. It was an easy-going, great experience to have a friend and lover (not to mention driver, roadie, and general assistant!) along for the trip. Here’s hoping for many more travels to local and faraway places. I do like to stay in motion, but even more than that I love the prospect of an emotional and spiritual traveling companion – Someone who wants a support system to navigate the twists and turns of the mind and is up for the task of being so for me as well.

I’ve never been set on the configuration my poly family should take. I’ve been one to allow relationships to develop as they will without a lot of engineering from the outside. In this case, I find myself developing deep bonds and becoming part of a family already well in progress. I had the chance to talk about our connection this week at Poly Role Models. There are ecstasies and practicalities, even-tempered positives, and some challenges I do my best to look at clearly. I’m up for all of it.

It’s a good thing that calls for appearances have been making room for themselves in the midst of my quiet intention toward personal life and personal growth. I have a few gigs coming up – one at the Center for Relaxation and Healing in Plainsboro, NJ on November 6th and one pending for Collingswood in the same time frame. I’m also gearing up to kick off the 2016 Caldera Pagan Music Festival in LaFayette, GA this coming May. I’ll be putting together a string of East Coast gigs to make my way south and back. I may have companionship for a few of those gigs, and by circumstance, I’m likely to also take on some alone. Those logistics are still some distance away. Either way, I have a sense of mutual support in my life these days, and that makes all the travels feel grounded in the heart space. It’s been a very long time since I’ve felt quite that way.

Seen on Robin Renée mini-tour August 2015. A very homey display at a Dutch-style restaurant in Pennsylvania en route to Cleveland, OH.

Seen on Robin Renée mini-tour August 2015. A very homey display at a Dutch-style restaurant in Pennsylvania en route to Cleveland, OH.

a happy day w/ my friends Ray & Preeti, Philly LGBT Pride 2013

a happy day w/ my friends Ray & Preeti, Philly LGBT Pride 2013

Happy Loving Day to all those who celebrate it.  I wrote a bit about it from a polyamory perspective, and it’s posted today @ Black & Poly.  I hope you’ll check it out, comment, & share it:

 Today is Loving Day! Here are 5 of the Many Reasons to Celebrate

 

A more personal essay on this blog from a Loving Day past is here: Embraced By Loving Day

Thanks for reading!

Robin

Warren Zevon

I’ve known this for a very long time.  I’ve even told a few people, but it didn’t really prompt me to take much action on it.  To my credit, it’s hard to know where to start on a grieving project, which is what I feel like I have in front of me.  So I suppose I put it on my Virgo to-do list, as if it is something I can tackle like organizing the basement (I’ve been notoriously slow on that, too).

Anyway, here’s the thing: I never really fully grieved when Warren Zevon died.  Yes, I cried.  Yes, I talked about it, and still do in comfortable contexts.  I’ve written about it a little.  But I also compartmentalized it – put it away in some corner of my brain where I could access it nominally and even feel sadness, without having to really walk through the fire.  This has done a lot to block my movement through the other huge losses over the past decade.  I believe it’s done damage to my ability and desire to write.  I don’t know how deeply it’s worked to obscure my ability to be effective in life overall.  I wonder what it’s done to my accessibility as an authentic, flesh and blood friend and lover and seeker of Spirit.  I’ve got to write through tremendous grief build-up to get to the other side of Emotional Rehab Mountain.

It has been exactly 10 years today that I received the call from my dear friend Nancey:

“He passed.”

Those were the only words she needed to say for me to understand immediately.  I’m glad I heard it from her, one who really, really got the essence of this man & his music.  Last night, she was the one to remind me of the anniversary.  Earlier this year, I’d thought a lot about the looming date, but filed that away too, leaving it to wait in line with the process of grieving itself.

I had the amazing luck or karma or whatever to grow up to actually get to know this intense and brilliant man whom I idolized since I was 12.  There is just as much rich life-stuff in knowing and understanding and learning from the letting go.  It’s just not the easy part.

Back when I was allowing myself to remember the date, I gave some thought to what to do about this 10th anniversary.  I tried to push myself to write some major article or even a book with stories of WZ as a major factor.  One of the things he encouraged me to do is to journal daily.  I’ve hardly lived up to that.  The best way I can pay respects today is to start to remedy the reasons why.  Ready or not, it’s finally happening.

http://www.robinrenee.com

So many of us talk about love as an infinite force.  I believe it.  More than that – I feel it –when I am passionate, when I am quiet, when I am a channel for creativity in motion.

I feel the force of love in so many ways – one is in a sense of loyalty and constancy of friendship.  Essentially, if I loved you decades ago, I love you now.  A friend with whom I feel this exact kind of bond called me earlier this week, distressed. In no way do I mean to diminish the impact he was feeling when I say he related a common trajectory along the polyamory emotional highway: He and his girlfriend, some time ago, confirmed with each other that their relationship was open. She has been fine with his connection with me.  She met a guy she fancied, and he was fine with that. Now, the feelings between she and the new guy are deepening and my friend called me, feeling he was completely. losing. his. mind.

We talked for some time, and I hope I gave some comforting words to a friend who was freaking out.  I hope the real, honest, and continuous communication I suggested will manifest for them. I hope he believes me when I said that his feelings are valid and can help him understand his needs, which may well not be a need to close the relationship, but to get to the essence of how he can be loved and know he’s loved in a way that feels so clear and present that the unmanageable fear will dissipate.  I can’t say which logistics work best for anyone else but me. I can say more about my observations on the nature of love.

Love is.  It does what it does.  If left to its own devices, infinite ways of manifesting between and among people are possible.  Why don’t we all spend more time letting love be rather than engineering it?

Case in point: He and I have a forever bond of true friendship, a significant aspect of which is a deeply erotic connection.  We could embrace it, ignore it, avoid it, or act badly on it.  Over the years, we’ve done all of those. Yet it remains.  This is what our love is.

The arbitrary rules we place on love can hurt so badly.  Why should I leave behind a friend I love so much when I fall “in love” with someone new?  There was a time I did ignore one love for another, and that experience is one of my biggest regrets.  I care little about breaking the social norm or someone else’s rules, but I deflected a sincere being and broke a cardinal rule of my own heart.  These days, I am very intentional about opening to the committed, poly loves that feel right for my life.  I want any rules to come from within, not without, to be about allowing love, nurturing its growth, fine-tuning its expression.

During the phone call with my friend, I recalled times of being quite angry with him. Years ago I thought: Why was I never considered a possible “girlfriend?” Always, there was someone taking up the majority of the time and energy, and that someone wasn’t me. Was I so much less than?  Over the incarnations of our connection, it finally resolved itself in my mind: That is simply not who we are to each other. Leave love alone. It didn’t need to be made into what I thought it ought to be, either.

Does he place significantly more importance on romantic love than forever-friend love?  He probably does, I surmise. That is not equivalent to how I feel.  This morning, I noticed I felt some pain around that as I listened to his story.  At the same time I felt glad to be the one to field his honest outpouring of fear and doubt, and yes, love. I am still not sure how much love relationships should be about equivalent sensibilities, rather than sensibilities that through it all, emerge compatible.

I don’t know how my friend and his girlfriend will fare as they venture into the gut-wrenching, insight-sparking, fiery refinement of the ‘working through it’ they have ahead. Intuitively, I have high hopes.  They may create safety zones and discover boundaries which help them feel stable as they explore. My friendship with him might move back to denial or avoidance.  I hope not, but I’ll remain prepared for change.  She may discover she has a boyfriend and a friend, a partner and an occasional someone, “the new guy” could be gone next week, or what seems to terrify my friend the most at the moment – she may have found two profound loves. Love left alone, I know, is capable of such wonders.

I’m rooting for them, and for the best in all of us to come forth. Messy growing pains are ok.  They happen.  No matter what else happens, I believe listening to love first, then doing the emotional work set in motion are the keys to bringing all through strong and whole.

I was a bit startled to realize on my birthday this past Monday, August 27th, that it was indeed the 10th anniversary of the release of my second solo CD, All Six Senses.  I had what still feels like an idyllic, dreamlike time recording those songs out in Marin County, CA with producer Scott Mathews at his Tiki Town Studios.  Over the past few days, I’ve spent some time listening to those tracks with my friend Amy, who played them, intermingled with other tunes, from her iPod in her car.  It is sometimes annoying to listen to old recordings, but this time I really dug hearing some songs that have mostly fallen away from the set list (“Cling To You,” “I Skate Alone”) and others that have become standard fare (“Holy River,” “First Sight”).  It is a very rewarding feeling to listen and feel that All Six Senses, for the most part, really does sound like the songs that I had in my head.  It does a decent job of expressing snapshots of the spiritual growth spurt I was in when I wrote these songs (there is the one cover – a slow, jazzy take on “Cruel to be Kind”).  I hope it might still manage to inspire anyone listening to examine their own lives and take their own journeys.

I remembered how much I enjoy these tunes and the recordings of them, and then I remembered another anniversary.  It would take more than a short blog entry to tell the many stories and make even an attempt at the impact, but the super-short version is that I was (and still am) blessed in life to have met and gotten to know one of my greatest musical/lyrical/cultural heroes, Warren Zevon.  Since meeting him at The Stone Pony (his show [opening for The Band!] was August 26, 1994 – his after-midnight autograph says August 27th – now this story is even stranger), we kept in touch.  The day after my official, yet totally indie release of All Six Senses, it occurred to me that I hadn’t heard from WZ in a while.  I happily tapped out a long e-mail asking him what was going on, telling him about my life, the new recording, everything.  The response I got back was very brief:

He was ill.

“My lungs and liver are shot” he wrote.

I didn’t know, and couldn’t have comprehended on that day the seriousness of what he was saying.  If it wasn’t that very day that he’d gotten the diagnosis of inoperable mesothelioma, it was within a day or so at the very most.  I don’t have words for what I felt, or really know what I did the rest of that shocking day.

He asked me to send a copy along to him, so even in the midst of coping with finality he took the time to listen to All Six Senses.  He said he enjoyed it, was glad I was continuing to work on the music, and advised me to “keep chanting.”  I’ve definitely managed to do that.

I could say more – try to create some storyline about the impact of cosmic crossroads or the mystical fusion of wonderful-horrible anniversaries.  I won’t.  I will just try to sit with it all as it happened, and with my own uncomfortable twinge at having been moved to share this ball of entwined emotions with you tonight.

I don’t read nearly as much as I’d like.  I’m generally too busy writing something to give more than transient attention to the books I hope to absorb.  This is a definite frustration for me – If I had 48 hours in a day I’d take some of those extra hours to sink more deeply into popular science and science journals, spiritual biographies, political nonfiction, and contemporary poetry, maybe even with time left over to escape into a few episodes of Regular Show or American Dad.  Love of toons aside, as I’ve gotten more and more interested in trying my hand at writing some fiction, I do think I ought to start reading some of it now and again.

When my friend Glenn Walker (Welcome to Hell, French Fry Diary) asked me if I’d like The Dream Between to be a stop along Fran Metzman’s virtual tour for her new collection of short stories, The Hungry Heart Stories, I thought it was a fun and innovative idea.  It was enjoyable to go into the reading experience with no preconceived notion of what to expect.  What I found was that I’d need to leave my hope of escaping into stories aside.  Witnessing the interactions of the characters in memorable situations led me to some meaningful reflection on relationships in my own life.

In My Inheritance, Metzman explores the difficult mother-daughter relationship, as she does later in Getting Closer.  Frustration, indifference, avoidance, reconciliation, and hope are on the non-exhaustive list of elements thrown into the emotional soup.  How does peace-making around the relationship between my mom and me compare?

How have I been like the woman in Christmas in August?  What makes for healthy navigation through the end of a romantic relationship?  Am I capable of distorted love and desire that could lead to the main characters’ acts in The Invisible Wife or Myra’s Garden?

Redemption prompts: How far could I or should I go to protect my loved ones and greater community?  The construction of the stories invite writers’ inquiries, easily expanded: When is metaphor truly the best way to express an essential detail or experience?  When will only plain words do?  Metzman makes us privy to what her characters do, but the archetypal questions remain.

Author Fran Metzman is a graduate of the Moore College of Art and the University of Pennsylvania.  She teaches writing at various Philadelphia area colleges and universities and co-authored her first novel, Ugly Cookies, with Joy E. Stocke.  Her blog, “The Age of Reasonable Doubt” can be found at Wild River Review and deals with mature (sometimes immature) dating and relationships, as well as aspects of society that influence all relationships.  The Hungry Heart Stories feature tales of people in crisis yearning for emotional sustenance, where food occasionally intersects the empty spaces in their hearts.

THE HUNGRY HEART STORIES
Wilderness House Press
ISBN 978 0 9827115 5 2

On Amazon

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From Wilderness House Press

You can read more as the blog tour continues:

Wednesday, February 22nd

“Literary Debauchery” by Krista Magrowski

Thursday, February 23rd

“Welcome to Hell” by Glenn Walker

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