My stories stem from the inner voice where all the gaps of expression are liberated.
I’ve started to pack up my books, files, figurines, music boxes, and photographs. Don’t ask me where I’m moving because I don’t have an address or even a definite destination. Supernatural powers may intervene, or it will be the Dragon. A reverse approach that hangs on faith in the disorderly order of our lives. Just when you have it all documented, calendared, Faced-booked and tweeted, the unexpected takes you in another direction. There are days that my heavy hurting heart leads, and I am poised to detach from Santa Fe and everyone I have here and drive west to the sunset and the ocean. Then comes the days of indifference and obstructions, days when I do a lot of nibbling, and combing my hair or cleaning. This week, the whack of change whipped the most vulnerable spot, the corner where Limbo lived inside me. The last time I felt like this was after my father died. Suddenly unprotected and vulnerable, I spent the summer staring out at the Pacific Ocean from my Venice beach apartment. I was so alone that for the first time I experienced intuition and instinct. I drove off to Del Mar in Dad’s El Dorado and started a new life at Del Mar Beach.
In-shock is a peaceful place to be, a protective coating before the wound breaks open. The letter was in my mail slot for ten days. I didn’t even open it because I thought it was from my attorney. The one that saved me from the Dragon four years ago. Unwillingly I contacted her in the remote chance that Dragon would try to gain control of Limbo’s and my real estate investments again. We both had an insatiable appetite for renovating historic properties; all three of ours are over 100 years old, and Taos is 400 years old. Limbo loved that Taos adobe with the vigas and polished oxblood floors. We opened our first Gallery of Rock & Roll in Taos. What a night. It was January, everyone told me not to open in January, but I did it anyway. Movie stars showed up, about 200 people comminglingly amongst the famous photographs of Jimi, Janis, The Stones, The Beatles, everyone we esteemed of that age.
I opened the Santa Fe gallery with sixty or seventy photographs of Jimi Hendrix. It was a sensational vibrational evening with Santa Fe artists, photographers, and the media. Follies House in Saratoga Springs; our first property, we turned her into the Wedding Cake House. Limbo followed my color scheme and we painted the Victorian Lady seven shades of pastels. Upstate New York taught us every day how to adapt, how to laugh, and how to be old fashioned.
I read the letter with a loose jaw and forehead scrunched. For a long time, I’ve lived an uncomplicated life: no marriage, no children, and self-employed. All I had was little Limbo following me like a child, waiting for the next LouLou adventure. I don’t need Freud to tell me Limbo was my son. I’ve always turned to the misfits, the alley cats, the lost souls who sit on a bench and stare down the world.
Dragon composed the demands, that I am sure, it is written like an executive order. I dialed White Zen, I now call her 911, and she zipped over later that day to read the letter.
” HE’S OUT OF HIS MIND. Telling you to immediately quitclaim your investment in Santa Fe and move out in 150 days, and sell your other two investments. You’ve managed all his real estate for what 25 years? That’s your retirement. He even told me that. You have to get an attorney.”
You know when you taste the omniscient love. She talked and cooed and advised for a long time. I wasn’t completely coherent. Mom and Dad guided me. Dad said don’t fall apart, call your attorney, and fight for what is yours. My mother said, don’t be bitter, and don’t exact revenge. I dialed my Clairvoyant real estate friend for advice. She has rapid response reason like no one I have ever met. “Don’t worry Loulou. I’ll find you a little condo all your own. Don’t worry, this woman’s business is to take men for everything and then she leaves after she’s spent all his money. Just stay calm.”
Ironically, I was calm.The vision of Limbo when the Dragon is all through with his business is not what we have worked for the last thirty years. He used to say, ‘One day I’m just going to walk into the desert with my spear and live under a boulder like Ishi. ‘
Our bodies know us better than we know them. My arms and legs went limp, so did my thoughts. I just wanted to stare into the sky and eat potato chips. Every photo, corner of furniture, figurine, and vase is from one of our adventures. They stand there like frozen memories and the temptation to fall into that state of burial is not where I need to go. Not now, this is a long process. So ironic that I had already begun to box up my belongings. I must cross the finish line by spring.
By nightfall, I led myself by the leash of force across the street to La Posada. I sat next to Toby. He’s a gregarious zany character.
“I’m having a book signing party next Sunday, I hope you can be there,” I said.
“Of course I will. Your book is unbelievable?”
“You read it?”
“YES, I loved it.”
The prong of pain subsided for an hour or two. I have not rejoiced in the accomplishment of the book since Limbo lashed out with both fists. Friends advise me to focus on the book, and the positive feelings. It’s just not there, and that’s how the pickle splits in life. What I learned from all those colorful, highly dangerous and formidable gangsters, is the prayer of humor. They all had academy award wit. If only I was a writer then, I’d have thousands of stories. Will I find the humor in this obstruction someday?
The morning sky is a sheet of the palest gray. It’s eight o’ clock on a Saturday so I wouldn’t call White Zen or anyone in Santa Fe. Who lives on the East Coast? Of course, Madam Follies, my friend, and the tenant who has reigned over Follies House for ten years. To be continued.
” Hi Stephie, are you sitting down?”
” Oh no. What happened.”
I discovered dimensions of wisdom inside Stephie, that wouldn’t have surfaced without unleashing the contents of the letter. She turned the situation upside down, so instead of raking Limbo’s mysterious and spiteful motivation, she said, ” This is his journey, not yours. ” That spawned an image, of Limbo driving Dragon around and petting her desires with presents, lots of presents juxtaposed with me on a road of seriousness protecting my investments, my health, and my career as an author. I haven’t had the daily routine of writing as I did with the book, now it is the business of marketing and selling. It feels like going from the oceans fluidity of wave and crash to solid ground where my imagination is now used to strategize my defense against the Dragon. Two hours later Stephie induced laughter and caressing from my initial whimpering and hollowness.
Two hours later Stephie induced laughter, and charity from my initial whimpering and hollowness. I hung up the phone, got dressed and went shopping along Palace Avenue, to the shops I frequent. I felt this strange identity with my teenager consciousness in Los Angeles, walking along Melrose, drinking espresso at Cafe Figaro, window shopping, and tanked up on the street activity. A Sargent Peppers parade of bohemian and hippie lifestyles emerged in West Hollywood in the sixties. It was like a preview of a future without Limbo laundering my thoughts and feelings.
I went on a date, and even though he was not towing me in, he has a Tom Cruise smile, and he liked to talk and laugh at his jokes. Stepping out of interaction with Limbo, and his escapes, battles, complaints and vanishing humor, I reached for friends. They’ve been there all along, and I didn’t take notice until the day of the book signing. Wow-I hadn’t been available to mingle with so many friends because Limbo didn’t like them. He doesn’t attach himself to friends, just one woman and for thirty-three years I was that woman.
A few days later I was perched on a bar-stool refreshing my mood with Eric, Zak, Jennifer, and Raul, the Staab House gang that greases my mood. A man next to me draws me into his conversation about the sixties. We’re just reminiscing, and the woman next to him is listening, observing in a very neutral manner.
” So what do you do in Santa Fe?” he asked.
” I just published a book. I’m an author. White Zen told me I should say that instead of I am a writer.
” Really, what’s the name of it?”
” Cradle of Crime.”
” What’s it about?”
” Growing up with gangsters. My father was Bugsy Siegel’s partner for ten years. It’s about my discovering his life.”
The gal then looked me straight in the eyes and said, My great-grandfather investigated those guys.
“Who was your great-grandfather?”
” Estes Kefauver.” If you’ve not read the book he was the Tennesse Senator that summoned every known gangster in the nineteen fifties to testify under oath on television. Dad was one of them. The excerpts of his testimony are in the book.
” What! Oh my God, he’s in the book, my Dad was one he interrogated.”
We both jumped out of our seats and rushed through the introductory connection without judgment or shame, and then we hugged. It is this kind of incident that broadens my catalog; I’m not ashamed of my legacy. We ended up in Casita, and I handed her a book.
Robyn knew about Estes, his reputation was and still is a historical moment in Mob history. A reenactment of the courtroom and transcripts are exhibited at the Mob Museum in Las Vegas. She said this was meant to be, a way of healing our relatives vendetta. Robyn sent me this photograph today. In these unexpected adventures in livingness I forget all about Limbo, had he been there it would have been entirely different. Instead, he is leading the Dragon into my den to rearrange my retirement, friendship, and love for our homes.
The night before the book signing that splendid spell has metallized into a muted gray state of nausea, and I couldn’t breathe. I popped over to La Posada for a touch-up color.
Yvette called out, “Hi Loulou, are you excited about the book signing?”
” Not at all.”
” Why not? This is a huge deal for you.”
” It could have been-you know who ruined it.”
” How can he ruin it? He won’t be there.
” Come on; you’re going to have a magnificent time. I invited my parents, and I posted it on my Facebook page.” She harmonized topics I cannot recall, but at the end of two hours, I walked out without the grimace.
David Stone who juggles all the events at La Posada was moving furniture around and, and intermittently asking me where I want the tables and chairs while I set up my Square card ready to sell books. I even invited my pal Raul’s daughter to be in charge of swiping the cards. At exactly three o’clock the first guest walked in White Zen.
PUBLICATION PARTY FOR LOCAL AUTHOR’S MEMOIR-CRADLE OF CRIME
La Posada Resort & Spa- 330 East Palace Avenue Santa Fe. NM
Sunday – February 12, 2017
3:00 PM – 5:00 PM MST
CELEBRATE WITH LOCAL AUTHOR LUELLEN SMILEY
Complimentary Wine, Champagne & Appetizers
Book signing & Q & A
This eye-opening memoir, twenty years in the making chronicles Luellen’s journey into her father’s criminal past, beginning ten years after his death in 1982. Luellen is the daughter of Allen Smiley – Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel’s best friend and business partner for ten years. Allen was seated next to Bugsy the night he was murdered. Luellen discounted her father’s Mafia association until she was forty years old. Awakened by an identity crisis, she cut through her silence and used government surveillance records, newspaper articles, and FBI files to discover her father’s legacy.
Share with friends
La Posada de Santa Fe, a Tribute Portfolio Resort & Spa
330 East Palace Avenue
Santa Fe, NM 87501
“THE CREATIVE INDIVIDUAL (in wrestling with his medium) is supposed to experience a joy which balances if it does not outweigh the pain and anguish which accompany the struggle to express himself.”
HENRY MILLER ON WRITING.
The coincidence of opening the book for a quote and landing on this perfect phrase has ended the battle of should I write this or not. Continuing on from the previous post, last week. Some of you know very well who HE is, and others do not. From now on I will use the name of Limbo to give me distance.
I walk in slow motion, look beyond the moment, swim in a pool of wonder. This is my life. No one or circumstance forces me to act or react to my wanderings through life. I believe everything that happens to us points to continuing character evolution.
The reckoning of my dependence on Limbo points to an enormous change. It’s a rearrangement of the certainty and security of Limbo.
Even our house seemed to slip into a baleful hue. The absence of activity and music smudged the glow, but like Uncle Whitey once said, ” Don’t fall in love with what won’t love you back.”
La Posada is my sanctuary and social club. There I can shimmy through conversations with the staff, and regain control of my gaping jaw. Sometimes I sit by the fire and write, other times I climb the stairs to the second story to expand my horizon. I’ve never spent so much time in a hotel. It is like an extension to my Red Room, when the limitations of space make me feel radioactive.
The backdrop to this misadventure is what did I do wrong?
One night I exploded and kicked the garage door with my boot. The door splintered as I fell backward on the cement. I picked myself up and swore off rage. For The next six weeks, my knee collapsed with the slightest kick.
The phone is my new best friend, and in between checking emails from White Zen, Baron, Lollipop and Aunt Debby & Uncle Charles, I google people I miss from my past. It was a subliminal gesture to google the Dragon; the femme fatal who commanded Limbo four years ago, and left him broke, sick, and humiliated. I didn’t move from the bed, my mind traveled rapid and directionless, as I read her bio, ” X recently moved to Santa Fe full-time. ” A seemingly incurable pain developed on my left shoulder-blade, it’s still there, stress is a wailing dominant and dictating power.
Now, a week later the consequences manifested in our combined real estate investments. Financial blindness became light and the reality of my situation kicked at me day and night. The most penetrating element of disaster is the loss of momentum, my body feels like a two-ton whale, and my eyes –scary. The only ones that endure this wilting lily are my pals at La Posada and White Zen.
I was in bed one night, and two figures filled the glass door.
” LouLou are you awake?”
I peered into the glass and there were White Zen and her son. We’ve all been friends since I moved here. They know the Dragon.
White Zen’s eyes flickered with mutual pain.
“We just drove by her house. His car is there.” She took my hand and rubbed my shoulders. ” Marc and I drove by, and when we saw his car we both said, Oh my God at the same time. They lathered me with assurances and stayed until I was emotionless.
This is not a unique story; it’s been dramatized, composed, written and drawn, the awe of life. Today, with a new head cold to accompany the shoulder and the knee pain, I watched Documentaries about extraordinary artists: Sidney Lumet and Bob Dylan. Both films road on the theme of expression, truth, and suffering. Again, it was one of those random choices that empowered my spirit of expression.
Two days have passed; snow folded into sculptures on the chairs and pots, clouds and rain emptied the street, and silence returned. The eruption of reason surfaced like a rising curtain. This is a lesson, an enormously necessary one for a gal who lives with one eye on the rainbow. I’m liberated with understanding.
All I have to do is navigate a safe passage out of these circumstances. That’s it. Make the decisions, implement them and be grateful for the friends who nourished me along the way. To be continued.
THANK YOU ETTA JAMES, SARAH VAUGHN, NANCY WILSON, NINA SIMONE, BILLY HOLIDAY, AND SATCHMO. What happened is why I am writing this, I don’t know. It is a wave that most of us have to swim through at some sandy loose day in our life. It’s the kind of wave that sends me to the ladies of soul. They sing the tears away, that harmony that makes you want to just weep with them because they have been there.
I remember the day, where I was sitting, and his expression. It was a few days before the final submission to Createspace to publish my book. My body felt heavy as concrete and my mind had been vacuumed of thought. I slept and slept. On November 20, he bolted into my room as I was stretched out on the bed eloping with comfort.
” Kathi want’s me to come out for Thanksgiving.” Kathi, well I never met her, she’s in Arizona. They see each other when they are not fighting. He said she hangs up on him most of the time. For the last two years she has given him an ultimatum, “Either we live together or I am not going to talk to you again.” He admitted he didn’t want to live with her and she pulled back.
” I told you I planned the publication for your Birthday and Thanksgiving weeks ago.”
He just stared at me. The silence said everything.
” Okay, go. Go on. Get the fuck out of here.”
” I know what you’re doing.” He replied.
He left the next day for Arizona, I thought, and I published the book with my ladies of soul singing to me. CreateSpace sent the link to my Amazon page, and I posted it on Facebook; my tears stopped. There you all were, posting kisses, smiles, applause; it was so unexpected. Most of the next few days were watching my royalty cart fill up. Admitting this is wicked, but the last time I made a decent dollar on my writing was 2009. It was graduation day from blogging to book. A milestone for any self-taught writer. Two pals Blair Sabol, A New York columnist and Baron Wolman, Santa Fe Rock & Roll Photographer capped the publication with a personal book signing.
A maelstrom took me on a journey of exaltation and devaluation. He wasn’t here to see it or rejoice in his monetary contribution to the book I started twenty years ago in his backyard cabana. Celebrating solo slapped some hard facts; why was I alone? I’m a long term- tenant of sensitive so I hold up a wall of protection.
Wobbling around in a state of dismantlement, the bricks and mortar of my spine turned to rubble. Someone asked me, ‘How are you?’ I said, half and half. It was the best day of my life and the worse. How that happens in one day is typical of nature, but not human emotions.
Supernatural forces arrived almost immediately; the feral cat moved in, well not completely but she spends the night every few days, and she likes to be on my bed. I named her Rockette. She is shiny black, slinky in majestic feline moves, but I cannot hug her for more than two seconds.
A week later, after the first impromptu Thanksgiving without him since we met in 1983, I forced myself to go solo and test my wall. It came down as I dined with other singles. My bedroom sparked with honey sunshine flocking the gold curtains rocked my cradle of confusion. Adjustment to a glance of him crossing the street, taking detours so he doesn’t pass my glass front door, and not responding to my emails or text detonated. I retaliated by pulling out the lavender he planted last spring, tipping over a planter box, and kicking his door one night in rabid-rage, and the wood splintered.
Over the next few weeks, he did not sleep here, check his mail, or even sweep the sidewalk. From this dismantlement of our former friendship, the response to my book served as my oar against the current.
I rowed through Christmas fanning my despair with friends and strangers, seized by the glow of their joy. I never broke down in front of anyone, even the couples who toasted to forty and fifty years of marriage, or the newlywed couple from Santa Monica. I just don’t understand the limitations of love. Do you just stop loving your best friend after thirty years?
On New Year’s Eve my body moved to the music, the theatrics, and all was well because I would use 2017 as my new spreadsheet of adventures in livingness.
To be continued.
NEVER THOUGHT IT WOULD HAPPEN AGAIN
Making the same mistake twice. This time she’s a serpent, a persistent and pushy woman who drudges the gutter seeking a lonely lost man she can bite. Only this serpent has a bite that is desperate and sick. The man succumbs.
He deserts his friends, his home, his life. The trail of slime metastisized. I was pinched y her bite. She timed the bite to resonate on the most important day of my life; the day my book published. The celebratory party planned, the grail of completion sitting on my smile, and then the grenade explodes. My heart contracted.
The bleeding is bandaged with approvals from readers of my memoir, hugs, smiles, and book signings. The triumph is teetering on temper flares. I’ve never been a bland responder. When a friend jets above the clouds, or crashes, I’m on board. Without company during our flights of life, our ribs cave. You just cannot eat cake alone on your birthday or attend a funeral without a shoulder next to you. Thank you White Zen for being the first responder. I love you!
Four weeks after the serpent carried him away, I am sublime,wistful and without anger or rage. The end of the flight surprised me-the alley cat now named Rocky fell in love with me andmy freedom is returned. After 33 years, I am free to move without his warnings, threats, and selfish motives. All of us are capable of envy and jealousy; our choice of how sordid and dangerous it can be is what separates us from doom. I don’t intend on being doomed by his desertion. I gave myself a month to rinse my mouth of shock, tears, and fear.
HELLO, my recuperation ends on the 17th of this month. Just enough time left to hang the holly, wrap the gifts and write the cards. No one takes Christmas and Hanukkah away from me except God.
If any of you are spending the season of senses without that shoulder, remember our suffering is what makes us strong. Well, personally, strong is good but sensitive and soulful brings me to a pink finish line. Now, it’s time to go shopping for the irreplaceable friends, ex-lovers, and family.
BE SENSITIVE AND SOULFUL-AND STRONG.
One week ago I published my first and not the last book. It is in the past, and yet not. Instead of checking PM, tweets, facebook, emails and text a few times a day, your voices on the digital wire are a continuum of exultation. A writer doesn’t accept their work until those reviews come in. An enormous hug and kiss to all of you who have expressed approval.
Just know that every time one of you writes about my book, I think of when we met, the memories we made, and the immortality of what I remember. As I said on the acknowledgment page in the book, without you I wouldn’t have walked through the archway to my ancestry.
There is a mystical rainbow over this book. For the first time, my father’s relatives are learning about their abashed cousin, uncle, grandfather, and friend. I feel the river of change taking me into the current. It will be my ride because I am ready to steer on my own.