RSVP Anyone?

I’ll be out most of the afternoon, getting stuff for the reception tomorrow night. Here’s what I’m serving:

Mango Crab Stack Canapés
Chevre Crostini
Smoked Salmon Canapés
Cheese Plate with grapes, pralines & honey drizzle
Chocolate Fondue


So What's Your Point?

It’s a weird feeling when you find out people are talking, or writing, about you, and saying things that aren’t very nice.

Five-plus years ago I used to portray Mozart on a website I designed to provide an educational service for students. It got very popular and ran for about three years. My idea was that young people could learn about Mozart, not only via the material I provided (bio, pictures, all that), but also by conversing with him through email and a personal message board. It was very rewarding and I received tons of letters from students all over the world, asking Mozart sometimes funny, sometimes difficult questions. Some of the writers were young prodigies who simply needed a little emotional support from the ultimate child prodigy. Naturally, I kept my true identity hidden, not because I had anything to hide, but for the sake of those young people’s fantasy of actually communicating with the composer. Of course, they knew it wasn’t Mozart; it was a Santa Claus kind of thing. Everyone had a lot of fun.

Not long after I set up the message board it was visited by a group of women who at first pretended they didn’t know each other. One of them (I’ll refer to her as Sister Agnes of God) was the author of a new book on Mozart’s wife and she wasted no time in using my forum to promote herself. I didn’t have a problem with that, and we began what I thought was a growing online acquaintance. We even wrote to each other privately and she sent me a copy of her book in the mail.

It was about that time that one of the other women (one who pretended with her to be strangers meeting for the first time on my board when they’d actually known each other for a while) asked if she could read my manuscript, and I said sure. (I’ll refer to her as Sister Innocenza.) We’d been writing to each other for a while and were pretty good online friends. Remember that all this time I kept my true identity a secret, but I did use a male pen name with the adults with whom I’d developed a correspondence and who wanted to know who was behind the Mozart mask. I wasn’t ready to let them completely into my private life. Most people on the Web don’t. I was also trying to get my book published; my decision to use a male nom de plume was because in the Mozart world there is a great deal of misogynistic snobbery, and how could I possibly write Mozart’s memoirs? What could I know about Mozart as a man?

It turned out that this little clique had a different idea about the Mozart marriage than I did. So what? I didn’t care, but they obviously did. A lot. When Sister Innocenza read my book, she took it so personally that she told Sister Agnes of God about it, who in turn sent her copy back to me unopened and unread. I didn’t understand. These women then did everything in their power to discredit me, not only by bad-mouthing me privately to some of the young people who frequented my forum, but in other Mozart forums as well. And why? Because my opinion of Constanze Mozart was different than theirs.

Privately, I began to call this hen house “The Sisters of St. Constanze” because their vehemence about such a small matter bordered on fanaticism, and their devotion to Frau Mozart was worthy of a cult. Some of the things that were said about, and to, me were downright malicious. In an email to a mutual “friend” Sister Agnes of God called me, a “monster” and a “perverter of innocent youth.” WHAT? Why? Because of the conclusions I came to after years of research? It’s not like I wrote that Mozart and his wife ran a brothel, or an opium den, or were pedophiles, or into child slavery, or anything like that. All I wrote was that, as a man of his times, Mozart enjoyed a few extra-martial romps. For crap sake, his own wife said so in interviews after his death. Besides that, what’s it to these people? The man’s been dead for over two-hundred years.

This little cult very quickly ran the educators and their students off of my site. Some of the students were befriended by these women so that they could turn them against me by filling their ears with all kinds of nasty lies. It hurt. It hurt a lot. It broke my heart, to be truthful, and I closed the site down. And who really paid the price? Those kids who were having a good time.

The Scheisse really hit the fan, however, when I decided to drop the male pen name and pursue the publishing of my book using my own name. Now I really was a perv in their estimation. “Oh my god! Steph and Lynette are… are…” The Sisters of St. Constanze never forgave me for that. I mean, what does it mean when you find out you’ve had a crush on someone of the same gender and you couldn’t tell? Especially if you’re a conservative Christian, which they both are. It means I was a bloody good actor and that my Mozart was flawless, thank you!

Fast-forward. About a month ago Lynette joined a discussion forum where “The Sisters” dominate the members with the same old crap. If anyone disagrees with them about St. Constanze, they lash out with nostrils flaring and spittle flying. I don’t go there. I never want to see those crazy women ever again. They brought me too many nightmares that recalled the movie, “Misery.” I’d actually forgotten about them and figured they’d tired themselves out, but I was wrong. Now, it seems, they see me hiding behind every poster who disagrees with them. I’m being accused of posting under assumed names right and left. I mean, who the hell am I? Get over me! When Nettl told me about this, adding that Sister Agnes of God is throwing out passive-aggressive remarks like, “Who are you now, Stephan, or Steph, or Mozart…” So, what’s your point, sister? Do you think you know something about me no one else does and that you have some kind of power over me by holding my identity over my head?

This catty shit pisses me off. Who gives a rat’s ass about the Mozart marriage? I went into the forum tonight and read the posts for myself, then I wrote a simple clarification for the members, stating that I never post there and never will, especially hiding under an assumed user name.

Makes me kind of worry about what they might do once the Rhombus film is out, though. That film’s going to surprise a lot of people who think they know me, and some of those who do.

“A fanatic is one who can’t change his mind
and won’t change the subject.”
Winston Churchill

“There is no place in a fanatic’s head
where reason can enter.”
Napoleon Bonaparte


Engulfed in Flames

I haven’t written in a few days because I’ve been so damned creative I can hardly sit still. I haven’t felt like this in years. Literally. I’m finally breaking out of a terrible, sluggish dry spell, and I’m full of ideas and inspirationand the energyfor both my music and my writing. I’ve been a bit of a stand-up comic too, but that’s what usually happens when I’m in a creative flux. I’m blazing with passion for everything. My god, it has been at least 10 years since I felt like this! And all this time I thought I was just getting old and tired. I’m attributing this surge to a number of things...


Got My Clown On

Last night Joel and I went to see the late showing of The Aviator, a truly good film. I’ve never really taken DiCaprio very seriously until now. His acting was superb; I was especially impressed with his work in the plane crash scene. Being the age I am and hailing from southern California, I’ve always loved Hollywood history, especially the era depicted in the movie.

Before the picture began, the usual set of recorded music played, first a tribute to Jimi Hendrix by Lenny Kravitz, then a Hip-Hop song with words in it that sounded like "I got my clown on". It was a “love song,” however (I insert quotations because in my opinion no Hip-Hop song ever really qualifies as a love song), so I doubt those were the words the guy said. Nevertheless, the phrase stuck with us and has now become part of our family lexicon...


Blowing In Like a Lion

I’m just going to get this crap out and then I’ll be done with it.

I confess that when I’m in work mode, whether I’m writing or composing, any little distraction, regardless of how good the person’s intentions are, can make me snap like a schnauzer with a sore snout. It’s probably because my life has never belonged to me and that whatever creative time I could carve out for myself had to be literally crowbarred out of someone else’s white-knuckled grip. Their needs and their wants were always more important than my own.

Because I’ve always gotten so little creative time to truly call my own, I’m very jealous of it when inspiration comes knocking, which isn’t very often anymore and which makes me even harder to get along with. I’m just beginning to come out of a 10-year dry spell and I’m terrified that everyday life is going to extinguish the few sparks that I’m trying so desperately to fan into flames. Virginia Woolf was right. Every writer needs A Room Of One’s Own. I’m tempted to move my desk into the guest room.

I miss uninterrupted work time. I miss having free access to my own bathroom instead of the public restroom that’s in what has essentially become the upstairs family room/master bedroom. I miss having an unengaged phone line. I miss not having to repeat “I’ve got it” to the three other voices on the phone when I do get the occasional call. I miss closed toilet lids, toothpaste schmutz-free countertops and mirrors, flushed toilets, drawer pulls without jam on them, fingerprint-free doors and door sills, and the peace that comes when people know how to close a door or cabinet quietly.

I miss romantic interludes that are not first penciled-in with the kids. Oh yeah, that’s a big one. Nothing can kill the libido faster than having to clear your love life with your kids in order to ensure a little privacy. Kind of slays the spontaneity, doesn’t it? Who really wants to plan sex, anyway? The ultimate birth control? Have kids!

I miss time alone with Nettl, time to talk, to laugh, to cuddle, to dream, to make out, without the whole family knowing about it. We used to take naps and lay around like a couple of house cats. I really miss those languid afternoons of sprawling all over and grooming each other.

In a word or two, I miss PERSONAL SPACE and PRIVACY, be it physical, emotional, or mental. Since Christmas there have been only three weeks in which the kids have spent the full five days in school. Someone is always sick, or there’s a holiday of some kind that keeps them home… and spending all day on Nettl’s computer that’s just outside our bedroom door. My computer, where I work, is just inside the bedroom door. I finally had to make a rule: “If you’re too sick to sit at a desk and work at school, then you’re too sick to sit at a desk and play at home.” That one hasn’t made me very popular around here.

All this is why I stay up all night. It’s the only real alone time I get without interruption, time alone with my thoughts, time during which a writer’s ideas are able to seep through and maybe find themselves on paper.

I’d like to be able to sit down and work knowing that I’m not going to be interrupted. I’d like to close my door (actually, I’d rather not have to close it) and know it’s not going to be knocked on, or that someone’s not going to just barge in without warning. And don’t tell me to get a lock, because we have only one shower in this house--in the master bath--and six people who have to use it.

But I have to ask myself if, at our other house the kids weren’t allowed to come upstairs and stay, why are they allowed to here? The girls have the entire downstairs of a nearly 3,000 square-foot house. Why do they need to spend every evening, and all weekend, upstairs? Nettl’s computer, that’s why. When it was in our bedroom they weren’t on it this much. I understand there’s homework to do and that they do need to have access for a little fun and communication with their friends--I’m not a selfish monster--but I think we need to find a reasonable compromise otherwise this mild frustration I feel is going to grow into full-blown resentment. And I don’t want that to happen. There was a life before chat rooms, instant messaging and RPG forums. There was reading, going outside, drawing, and watching movies.

Maybe I’m not as good at this large family thing as I want to be. I was never good at the communal lifestyle of the 60s and I’ve lived in communes that were smaller than our family. I’m really hard on myself. I try to be good and patient and usually things are really, really wonderful, but lately it seems to be getting suffocating. Most kids of a divorce get to spend every other weekend with the other parent, but their dad lives in Ohio. I know what that’s like because when my youngest son was little he lived in Kansas while I lived in California. Too, I understand it’s harder on the kids than it is on their mother and me and I’m sure they could use a break from us--well, me--once in a while.

It has only been a year. Maybe I simply need more time. If money wasn’t as tight as it is I’d simply buy a laptop and get away to write for a few days, even if it could only be at the Best Western here in town. Actually, if I had the money, I just buy a computer for their room and they could duke each other out over it.

Nettl and I could go out to dinner once in a while. I hardly remember what it’s like to get dressed and take the woman I love out of town for the evening. I’ve forgotten how fun spontaneity is and the beauty of coming home after a romantic dinner to slip into a steamy night in bed. The few times we’ve gone out this year, we’ve come home to reports of squabbles, yelling, and general mayhem. Kinda spoils the afterglow.

I will not give in to the urge to quell these feelings of guilt I’m experiencing over having said all this. Most of you have been reading my blog long enough to know how much I love my Insta-Family and how grateful I am that we all have each other, and I write almost exclusively about that. But damn it, sometimes one just needs to beef.  Don’t all parents deserve the right to kick and scream and say, “What about my needs?” once in a while?

Okay, so here it is March and I’ve blown in like a lion. I’ll now back out like a lamb and get back to work. I’m currently reading (and of course proofreading) my book so that it will be fresh in my mind when the interviews begin. It’s important.