Saturday, January 13, 2018

You Said WHAT?????!!!!

So to my surprise, and, I suppose, in a way, gratitude, I am growing older.  This is not an anticipated eventuality, as I was always the youngest one: in my class at Bryn Mawr, in my building in New York, in Bikram's yoga class, till he started promoting himself and hitting on students... you get the idea.  It came as a shock then when I was contacted by my audiologist, I think he's called, to have a hearing test.  Deafness has never been true anathema to me, as my sweetest most lovable relative was my Grandma Gussie, with whom I lived for my five first years, because my father, whose family was rich, particularly for Pittsburgh Jews, loved nothing better than everybody else doing everything, and did not share with my mother till after their wedding party in the basement of her family, his intention.  As she told it to me, he said, as they left their mating celebration, "Why don't we just go upstairs?" and moved in.  My mother, not yet having embraced the fury that was to characterize her being, just behind the wit that also developed, stunned, acceded.  Three years later I was born, and so it was that my crib was assembled  just inside the doors that led out onto the sort-of balconied front porch, while at the other end of the hall my mother's several brothers, sisters and parents had to wait every morning outside the only bathroom while Lew W. Davis, as my grandpa Moisch always called him, a slice of wry with his observation, slowly maximized every moment of his bathing and shaving, impeccable as well as inconsiderate. 
      When Lew appeared to be going to work he would hide out just up the street in Grandpa's fruit and vegetable store so my mother wouldn't know he didn't have a real job, as he sold pharmaceuticals for Bauer and Black, and that you could do without going into an office as I don't think he actually had one.  He ate Indian nuts there until it was time to go home, shelling the little things and throwing the casings on the floor.  My grandma, in on the secret, and, as already noted, the sweetest person in the world, swept everything up and said nothing. 
     So because I loved her so, her being hard of hearing didn't seem that odious to me. As few of the people I've known were captivating with every word they spoke, missing a thought now and then didn't seem dire.  Being tested then, coming up with the numbers far below what they should have been, I quickly acceded to getting a hearing aid, as I know this is a transition time in my life, grateful at having come this far, past where I always assumed I would be over.  Also I have made a penny or two, and there is insurance, so the price of my new appendage did not weigh in to my cognition.  It took a few days after I had ordered the aid, tried it on, saw how primitively, obviously, even obtrusively it sat on, behind, and in front of my ear, or rather ears, that it even sank in how much I was paying.  $7200.  The price, once I thought about it, of a small used car.  Or maybe a new one if I knew the right dealer.
      Thus I have spent the better part of this weekend day pulling my thoughts, my phone, my ears and my soul together, arranging to return the things, just say "Huh?" and/or be with people who don't mind repeating, delighting in the happy fact that we are all still here.  Or if they are lucky enough to be cute and younger, that they will be privileged  to have my run, if they do, or if anyone can with what is going on politically. I am still going to have to pay $300 to return the aids, plus postage. I suppose with how things are and what is going on in the world,  I am lucky have become conscious before it was too late, and I had to go everywhere with what the dealer told me, surprised I wanted to return them, was "the Rolls Royce of Hearing Aids."  That might have mollified me if there was somebody fabulous standing by the curb.

Monday, January 08, 2018

THE DAY AFTER NOT QUITE OSCARS

So it is the morning after the Golden Globes honoring of Oprah, the boomstart to the speculation that she will run for president, and my understanding that I am more Californian than New Yorker in spite of Jeannie in the basement who keeps me from going madder than I am, and Acacia, Flower of the West, whom circumstance and her tough fortune and my Good one have brought into the Central Park South building, and my life.  In spite of eight hours on the runway and a landing in Las Vegas, making my trip back here as time-consuming as would have been a voyage to Europe, it was all in the end incontrovertible proof that here(LA) is where I belong, if I belong anywhere besides the moon.  Happily I no longer think I am meant to be in the center of things, especially as the center of things is only a little way away but the line-up to get there is many many many cars long, and motionless, engines running.
     I am at the little hotel I stayed at in-between sorrows or victories and defeats--hard to distinguish which they are from the distance- and it is absolutely empty of soul except for Armando, the bartender who's been here forever on and off, and an adorable young woman at the front desk named Asia who's going into business when she leaves here which I hope will not be soon as she's bright as a new penny and well-dressed, something that never really mattered to me I was convinced, but it is reassuring.  On the TV by the bar where I sit drinking the dregs of my coffee, served at my request in a paper cup as the china sucks, Trump, cross-armed, is fighting allegations that he had ties to mobsters which he certainly wouldn't have if they had any taste.  
     Am not exactly sure what I'm doing here besides being surprised at still being alive, hoping the brain is continuing to dance, even without a cute partner.
     Mon Dieu!  Outside the six-paned window that sees across the street to the small building almost everyone goes to for plastic surgery, rain actually falls.  I would like to think I may have brought it, as it isn't money, and is available to everyone at too long last.  Going back upstairs now in the hope there's something inside my head I may find in my room.  

Monday, December 25, 2017

ALMOST EVERYTHING MOVED EXCEPT...

for my heart.
     It is frightening or surreal, I have not been able to ascertain which, how unmoved I am by what is going on.  The truth that this terrifying clown has the whole world in the palm of his stubby-fingered hand is too much a treatment for a bad TV not-quite comedy not to be tossed out the window, except that it would doubtless land on somebody, somebody being all of us.  
     My desk is an unmeasured pile of litter, all the things I was planning to organize before the leaving, not being able to sort out when I was going, not knowing for what, if anything is there, if the heat of California would be worse for me than the absence of true human contact, besides the one or two seemingly loving presences I have found in New York, apart from the doormen, whose affection you can no longer measure as genuine at Christmas.  I just experienced the closest I have come to orgasm in decades at finding my passport in the litter on my desktop.  I am so ashamed of what I have become, dull, fearful, productive of nothing.  I was never afraid of age, not realizing how quickly, suddenly, and unmarkedly it could hit you, not realizing what a Strong-y you assumed you were.  I would write about it to share and soothe all the others experiencing this shit, except I'm afraid that halfway through I would forget what I was writing, and reading it over, would wonder why. Just received a brilliant e-mail(yes, Virginia, they do come in scattered time) from a longtime brilliant (right, who am I to judge?) buddy who continues to send the long, well-thought-out e-mail, perhaps not realizing how over those are, being emotionally secure enough not to care, or even measure.  It is such a strange time to be still seeking, and either brave or stupid enough to care. Especially if you think the whole thing comes with a solution.  We'll find out.  Or not.
   I like best, of course, the idea that it is all part of a Russian plot, as that makes us less stupid than we seem, more of an Agatha Christie than unthinkable, except who really understood her anyway.  Life, she am a puzzle.  Especially when from time to time you have been happy with/in her.  Usually when you were dancing. At least in your heart.

Friday, December 15, 2017

THE WANDERING JEW

So as we enter what I hope will be a peaceful and productive next year, I am trying not to let what is happening paralyze me.  I have
such happiness when I remember how it was here, when I was young.
      We were living on East 8something Street.  There was a little news store a block away, with a gentle old man selling magazines and papers on the other side of a small shelved window.  He had an accent and a pipe in his mouth.  It felt like Don and I were his only
customers, it was so quiet.
      And then he was closing, put out of business by a builder, so he gave us two tickets from his final promo that would get us into a movie we wanted to see. I can't remember what it was, but I remember him, kind as he'd been.  Buyers boarded it up, that little not-a-lot-of candy-shop.  I went back to see it once and the space had been mounted by an apartment building like an indifferent lover.
    How different things were in The Not That Long Ago.  At least it seems not that long.  But maybe that's because you remember it better when you cherish it more.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

PICKING UP PEOPLE

What still works better in New York than anyplace else is picking up people.  Better even than usual is when there are blustery winds and folks, as newscasters try to call them in their hope of trying to make all this sound connected and friendly, move into coffee shops and bump into other people, as I did today.  Two very sharp and attractive women, one with tiny scarf covering her head, the other dark hair newly washed and almost in her soup, so intense was their conversation.
     It was, that portion I caught of it at least, about Donald Trump, that name held so high in his own limited attention span, that we too lightheartedly laughed off in its earliest emergence, thinking America was too bright to let this happen.   How could it have?
    Anyway, they were lovely, and as this was their first actual meeting, abetted by my intrusion from the next small table, intense and sadly joyous, as most enlightened conversation seems to be these days.  Those of us who love our country for the right reasons are forced to observe it like the soap opera he is making this portion of history into, assuming we survive.  "Joyous", as he would put it, probably in caps, because at least people are waking up, as proven by the numbers that made it to the election and squeaked it into turning out the right way.  Or, more aptly, the moderate one.  I had a dream in which Benjamin Franklin, who believed in reincarnation, so I frequently see him as here, and wish he were, gives a sigh of relief.
     Where it will all go from here is, of course, a puzzle.  I trust none of it, and wish my friends who loved country above party were still alive and in Washington.  But close as it is to Christmas,
I don't think there is a Santa Claus, and there is a Donald Trump.
      Such a bad scenario.  If only there were a better Editor.  Maybe there is.  We shall see.  Providing we still have eyes and he hasn't sold us to another country.
      

Sunday, November 19, 2017

REPORTFROMTHEFRONT: The God Within

So as I continue my struggle to find out where I belong, if one is supposed to belong in one place, I attended my Quaker meeting this morning and that certainly ain't it. First, there is the reality of Memory, which, though I was given a Still There by the Memory doctor, is better when there is someone else nearby who remembers, is best in another place, spiritually anyway.  The Quaker Meeting in New York is absent of soul, but may be intensified by the truth that I can hear almost nothing.  There are many rows of built-in bench, and a small number of people who also appear built in, none of their backs particularly inspiring, and I leave hungering for my little Meeting in Santa Monica.  So along with my growing affection for my Grandboys, I have a hunger for connection with my West Coast spiritual buddies.  Also I found out after leaving that meeting that the woman there who seemed smartest and most intense had gone to Bryn Mawr, so am hoping that pinky touch of No Kidding! can be re-established.  And the colder it grows, the older I realize I am, the most happily spoiled by weather all these years I didn't have much to cling to, if you can be said to cling to air.
    Then I stopped in a food place on 57th street and enjoyed myself as I rarely do, or at least haven't done since I used to go south towards San Diego of a Sunday.  Eating all kinds of thing I wouldn't dare usually, imagining the place had just opened, only to discover on departure that it had been there for 18 years.  None of this is particularly exciting except as an alert that my spirit has been slumbering, if that's how I can describe it, assuming or probably more accurately hoping it hasn't died.  If I stayed here I would probably chub up, as fooding is the most sociable---it seems-- activity I have found, since the Y hasn't spoken to my soul, if I still have one.  A soul, that is, since we can be sure there is a Y.
    Oh please, God, tap me on the mind.  Let me know I am still here, and there is a reason to be.  It is quietly dazzling to discover you are still here when you thought you were gone.  And there is even a song, the other side of this, even after you have less than delighted in Brigadoon, though were happy to have seen it, City Center being so close, even though your own center seemed so far away.  You can remember a friendship with the tossed away Mrs. Alan Jay Lerner, the lovely Nancy Olsen, who was told by him that he couldn't live without Micheline, then seeing her on a side street in the south of France a few years later, withered.  The universe does seem to mete out Justice.
     

WHAT THE HELL: Why Not?

So I have lowered my head against the wind, and my expectations, bought an overpriced book (Callas) at one of the few remaining independent bookshops in Manhattan, have given up hope of a predictable schedule, (pronounced the British way,) and decided not to run away, not today anyway.  Somewhere inside me I am borderline terrified, as I have not been this old before and am surprised to still feel girlish.  You never change from inside your eyes.

     In the same book batch that I found Callas, I found a much cheaper little volume by Thornton Wilder, who at one time I imagined myself to be like, creatively anyway, full of bright imaginings as I was, not having come to terms with the truth that I would probably never find the creative partner for my soul.  I was a little girl for a very long time, the happy conviction that I would be able to fulfill myself as a dreamer who could write and be realized, exacerbated by a novel, Sweet William, being optioned when I was in my early twenties (Sweet William), going back to my high school (Cherry Lawn, Darien, Connecticut, the capital of anti-Semitism in America, and us mostly Jewish kids, put out on the hill by confused or incompetent parents) for a movie that never got made (the star went to another film instead, taking the money and the deal with him.) I still get flashes of memory of the long weekend when it was still going to happen, and Bazz Burwell, my wondrous once drama teacher, sat musing , his fine face in his fingertips, and seeing me seeing him softly said, "I was just remembering you as a student."  I really loved him but didn't have the money he needed, so the relationship didn't continue, the school went out of business, and I still don't know if the Carter Burwell creatively in the movie business is his son.  "Age cannot wither nor custom stale her infinite variety" Shakespeare wrote of Antony musing on Cleopatra, but the relationship must not have gone on long enough.

          Oh, Life she am a puzzle. As is this instrument of writing I am not quite sure what to call, typewriter that she really isn't.  Laptop, I guess.   Just as I am unable to maintain true sovereignty over the size of the print. 
       I could take it back to the Apple store, mercifully not that far away from the apartment left me by Maman, as I think of her in affected recollection, in spite of her oft murmured threats that she wouldn't, including once as she awakened from a coma.  "You're not getting the apartment!" she grunted, before even opening her eyes.  
      I have to guess she really loved me, as much or as well as she could, having sold, lost or profligated everything she had, from the diamonds to the Jackson Pollock, The Blue Unconscious, 8 x 12, feet that is, which I slept under when home from school once she'd married Puggy, and turned it (and him) on its side("What difference does it make?"she'd said.)  He had gone to school with Clement Greenberg, the art critic, who'd gotten Puggy (Saul Schwamm he was to fellow brokers who'd mostly had their backs to him, since he was a Jew) to buy the painting as he was the only one with any money.  When their marriage ended... he'd fled, left everything, and she, a child of the Depression, had panicked and sold everything in the huge Park Avenue apartment for peanuts, almost literally, the Pollock for ten thousand.  It is now worth maybe two hundred million.  Maybe more  by the time you're reading this.  Gag.  Oh, well.
       It's only money.
       Cost me only a hundred and ten dollars to go to the Christmas show at Radio City.  I thought (not sure) I had gone there as a little girl, with my daddy, as I called him and was sure he was, except I liked my mother better, cruel though she was.  Cruel is a heavy-handed, heavy-hearted word, but it applied to her.  She was beautiful and brilliant, the first after minor plastic surgery: nose.  Incredible eyes and a dazzling smile.  Only one cavity her whole life.  
      There had to have been something truly mentally ill about her, as she was disproportionately smart, and had times been different probably could have become the head of General Motors.  As it was, she knew how to downcast those eyes.  But no idea how to look up into herself to become.
      Poor Mama.  Probably she was as enraged as she was having spent all those lunchtimes in a cubicle toilet in a bathroom at 
school, eating the sandwich Grandma Gussie had made her, saving the two dimes, giving them, all added up, to Grandpa when she'd graduated.
        Writing this, remembering as best I can, I am touched that she was only as crazy as she was.  And only part of the time.  Even more moved  by how much in love they must have been, a few years later,  Puggy the self-made Jew on Wall Street, Helen the social director she'd become after the struggle upwards from secretary she'd learned to be on the train as we Southerned towards Florida from Pittsburgh that winter.  I'd turned five but had to pretend to be four as we didn't have the money for the ticket.  Already knowing how to read,  I could dictate to her as she practiced  shorthand, and we moved towards her improbable Destiny.