Jim Morrison, Insomnia, and Me

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I had a hard time coming up with a title for today’s blog post. Damn you search engine optimization, I don’t care! A part of me wanted to go with “Hello Insomnia my old friend,” and another part of me wanted to go with “the rantings of a fragile eggshell mind.” Can I just say that I am in love with Jim Morrison the musician and poet? Mostly, I am partial to Jim Morrison the poet.

The Doors are known for their insatiable freaky sound, and once you hear it, it never fully leaves you. It’s so hard to describe. It’s almost as if it is its own form of creationism. It’s like a church organist suddenly became possessed by something that goes way beyond Beetle juice. It’s political, it’s irreverent, and it’s a melancholy madness that makes you want to leap for joy all at the same time. That’s the beauty of the Doors.

If you have fantasies about driving open roads and immersing yourself in the mysticism of the desert, or experiencing what it would be like to fall for a girl on Love Street, then Jim will put it all into words for you. Very poetically and eloquently I might add.

I had almost forgotten about Jim. It was like he had become a forgotten relic that was wrapped up in my subconscious. Thank god, for public radio. I was heading home from work one day lost in one of my endless commutes when suddenly Peace Frog came on the radio and I just about lost it, and I mean that in a good way. Hearing that song was like receiving manna in a sky that had been plagued by crickets of conformity. That song made me want to come alive again!

I liked Jim with a beard. Jim with a beard, leather pants, and a microphone, or Jim wearing shirts with snappy buttons that make me feel a sense wonder for the late 60s and early 1970s. Yes, I am one of those people who would view going to his grave as if it were a pilgrimage.

I don’t know where this strange affiliation for Jim comes from. I am perfectly aware that he was an addict. Oh…but he was so much more than an addict. My former husband was a James who was a Jim, and he also had a beard. At least I liked him better with a beard. I never viewed any of this as having any connection with Jim Morrison.

My Jim was not a poet, but he could pull the poetry right out of you. He was a reminder that there is always a dynamic to people you just can’t see behind the haze of rose colored glasses. It was like experiencing a type of poetry that can tear you in half. It not only influences you, but it gets into your core and changes who you are. You are never the same.

My husband went out of town this weekend. He went to California. My husband is a Shane. Jim is far behind me now, but his presence lives on in my children. I would have liked to have taken the drive to California, and have a look at the Joshua trees in the desert. It was just something that was not to be. Hence, an accrual of underlying madness and insomnia incurred that had me contemplating Jim Morrison, and a lost era, and why there aren’t many musicians out there who are poets anymore. I have a playlist for that. A playlist for lost poets.

A few weeks ago, I had an experience that knocked me for a loop! I have an old friend who is a Native American flutist and guitar player. He was sharing an open mic session he was having with other musicians and suddenly I was hit by something that made me feel as if I were witnessing the sight of a ghost. I recognized the name and voice of one of the musicians when he offered my friend’s introduction.

Suddenly I was taken back to a long-forgotten summer in 1990 in Minnesota. I recall skipping through the woods of 1000 lakes, with a young man at my side. He was a Leo with a golden mane, who had flashes of red in his beard. Our feet would sink into the moshes of the earth and sometimes mud would squish between our toes. We had no cares for the possibility of obtaining Lyme disease or the leaches that would sometimes attach themselves to our bodies when we bathed in the lake. We would balance on logs to get to various destinations and other encampments. I recall passing six guitar players on the trail playing their own rendition of Uncle John’s Band, and that song still gets to me to this day.  Sometimes we would take short trips into town in the back of station wagons to obtain honey and coffee. Our encampment was called “The House of Java.”

This man seemed like an observant lost puppy who sort of followed me around until he eventually grew on me. He would observe me in my moments of false solitude as tears would stream down my face when I would get lost in my journaling.  At night, I would sit between his legs wrapped up in the comforts of his wool sweater while we listened to the sound of drums and got wrapped up in the magic of fireflies and an occasional flash of lightening that was either a mescaline hallucination or magic. Who was that girl? I don’t even know. Was she lost? Am I lost now?

I did get lost the last night before the end of the gathering. The one and only Rainbow Gathering I ever attended in my whole entire life. I should have stayed with my own encampment but I wandered off with someone in my own naivety and paid terribly for it. “Daniel” stayed up and worried for me all night. I never fathomed that he cared for me so much. I just thought that freedom and experiencing multiple people was part of the deal. My friend Amy consoled him and kept him company. I arrived at camp early in the morning cold and shaken. I was bruised. Bruised beyond anything anyone could have known for a gathering that was supposed to be all about peace and love

My “sister” Amy wrapped me up in her arms and we went for a walk. I could scarcely look “Daniel” in the eyes. How I would have liked to have gone back to the innocence of what we had and listen to him play children’s folk songs on his guitar for me again. Why did I have to go and ruin a good thing? Everyone told me not to go. I was always the girl who could walk off with the devil and not know it. Sometimes I am glad that girl is lost. I never want to find her again.

person with rainbow color paint on his wrist
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The time had come to break camp. I remember loading into the back of a truck, and pulling my prairie dress over my knees, hugging them to myself. Suddenly I heard a voice, “Rachelle!” I saw Daniel running towards me with his guitar dangling from its embroidered strap. He grabbed my hand and gave it a squeeze. He said, “I don’t care, I don’t care what happened, I just want you to be alright.” His hand squeezed my hand even harder. He handed me a letter. He sent me another letter that was on the back of a small flyer for an event that was happening in Boulder. He had made it to Colorado, which was a relief to me. You never knew that fate that could befall hitch hikers.   He was going to pursue his dreams of being a folk musician on the Colorado scene. I never heard from him again.

I almost forgot all about him, all about me, and all about the gathering. For all I knew, any number of those people could either be dead, in prison, a priest, or working on wall street. I do know one thing now, Daniel is alive and still working as a musician. His songs are still folky and poetic and he had never sold out at all. Other than the fact that he seemed to have a full awareness of busting out his brand on social media and accruing a modest following, he was still very much the same guy. The same guy with a modest amount of success, who was influential on the music scene, and had shared stages with influential people. For some reason, this made me incredibly happy.

I listened to the songs on his site (yeah, maybe I looked into him a little). I felt a certain degree of guilt for loving them. I have lived long enough to know that life can present itself with various rabbit holes and some of them you should not never go down. So today, I sing the praises of this one particular rabbit hole, and how it presented itself to me. How it flickered like a flame, and then let itself out. There is one thing that I know for sure. I will always have a strong sense of nostalgia for poets and song writers who present themselves at various stages in my life.

So, I spent the weekend with my playlist of poets and songwriters. I did not add “Daniel” to the list. Part of me wanted to. I wrote a paper on ecocriticism for a literary theory class, and I attempted to go to a farmer’s market in a car that needed maintenance and detoured back home after eating a bowl of buttered zoodles.

My children and I watched Mama Mia and danced around the living room. I thought about how strange it was that I was now a mother of four, who had gone through two divorces and lived in various places while another man had spent the last 20 years cutting out a music career in Colorado.

Later that night, I watched The Dutchess all by myself on Netflix. I made a French onion soup casserole because I could. My husband doesn’t care for onions in his food, or period movies, or musicals for that matter. He is an incredible dancer though and can put Tom Cruise to shame in Tropic Thunder. We laugh about this. We laugh about getting older as if it’s truly hysterical. He won a dance contest on a cruise once, long before I entered the picture. My husband came home from California, kissed me, and I joined him later after providing the final touches to my ecocriticism paper. It was the best night of sleep I’d had in a while. Yes, these are the rantings of a weekend insomniac and the musings of a “fragile eggshell mind.”


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