Intrepid traveler, newly in love, widely produced playwright, novelist, late in life mother of a splendid son, cat servant. Irreverent Buddhist.
How About Love?
I’ve always had my groove. It’s partly a matter of temperament.
My set-point is naturally optimistic, and although I cope with physical symptoms daily, my constitution is strong and my curiosity, unwavering. I have tricks and tips, rituals and charts I’ve used for years—they’re fun for me, and keep me on track. And though I’ve known misfortune—a raggedy-poor upbringing, a family riddled with mental illness and addiction, an excruciating marriage that lasted for 20 years—I’ve also been steadily cheerful, and convinced I was happy, despite long, less happy periods.
In my experience, things fall apart and then come together in cycles, partly influenced by luck. In addition to misfortune, I’ve great luck. My plays and libretti have been performed around the world, including multiple times at Carnegie Hall. My son was born to me when I was forty-five years old, a healthy boy, bristling with intelligence, who is about to graduate from university in the midst of all of this worldwide uproar.
Also, just lately, I’ve fallen in love for the first time in thirty-some years. We’re sheltering together in quarantine, my new love and I, and it is wonderful. We go crazy with laughter every blessed day—and crazy with, uh, other things that involve tearing off clothes. I find myself writing in top form. I’m able to address the covid-19 pandemic directly via the small nonprofit I lead, and I’m already hearing how much the extended public service film I’m producing, via the nonprofit, is making a difference in the world. I’m also handling daily misunderstandings, off-the-rails thinking and
wild behavior among people very close to me. It is not easy, but I’m lucky and happy, as always, and I plan to go down with the ship singing this song of lucky and happy and love, love, love.
Just before we went into quarantine in Minnesota, I had a terrific lunch with another writer, who mentioned a friend of hers, a scientific consultant of such renown that he’s been on the road constantly, from Los Angeles to Paris to Tokyo, etcetera. As it happens, this scientist is, genetically, at very high risk for early-onset Alzheimer’s. He recently asked his medical team of world experts whether there was anything else he could do to prevent dementia. He got a surprising answer. They suggested that he fall in love. The research is coming on this, they said.
He protested that he’s already in love with his wife and adores his kids—he certainly isn’t going to seek an extramarital affair. Then the experts clarified:
fall in love with your wife again, or with something else—with a book, or a piece of music, or a tree. The rush of hormones when we fall in love apparently does more than we perceive to protect our health and sustain our energies, to say nothing of the thrills it brings. Love! Why the hell not?
I adore my new partner past all telling. I love Italy—la bella Roma, in particular, to say nothing of Florence, cradle of the Renaissance.
In this photo, I’m walking down a street in Florence, Oltrarno, toward what else but love!
More about Marisha
I write poems, novel-length fiction, plays, and texts for music such as song cycle lyrics and opera libretti. Why would anyone do all that? To me, it’s great fun, and deliciously risky to try a new form, and then find out I can do it well. Good ol’ trial and error—including plenty of error.
My nonprofit is Circle in the Field creates virtual support groups via video for people going through crises. I’m a documentary producer, and have served as executive producer, camerawoman, writer and editor for such clients as the Hazelden Foundation, the Minnesota State Bar Association, VocalEssence, and the Minnesota Department of Education. I’ve held fellowships from the Bush, Rockefeller, McKnight and Jerome Foundations and from the National Endowment for the Arts.
I live in a loft in the old Schmidt Brewery in St. Paul, where, from my window, I can see actors rehearse, musicians play, dancers dance, and writers like myself bent over their laptops.