Monday, August 23, 2010

On the Road Again, and Again

For those of you, beloveds, who have expressed some degree of concern
or a minimal sense of loss at not having received a report as of late, let
me take you by the gentle hand and tell you a little of why. When I was
in Montecatini, having a very low-key fine tempo at the wedding of
Marco, handsomest and most charming of the Maccioni boys, and I am
still a fool for handsome and charming, although on occasion I am also
drawn to ugly and rude, not content to simply be having a good time,
I forced myself to write on the new book, and what I sent my master
editor elicited the response 'Not good.' So instead of walking the hills
and eating the pasta, I shortened my stay, paid extra to fly back early,
and did something on the plane, where even tripping back to NY I felt
I had to write, that killed my computer(a little spilled vino? Do I really
remember? Does if even matter, if you consider the larger lesson, which
I am trying to do?) So as soon as I hit my landline, I called Toshiba,
which as many of you know is outsourced to the Phillipines, and they
said 'Someone will call you within two hours.' That same response was
given me the next eleven days, in the same tone, so I never left my
house except to walk Mimi, and then very hurriedly.
And on the twelfth day, as the Bible might put it, when they said
the same thing, I said: "I am a writer and I can't work and I am going
to commit suicide." The Toshiba guy said: 'Thank you for your
patience.' As I could not reach through the phone to throttle him, I
went down the street to the Apple store and bought a Mac.
Since then, my life has been a learning process. First, how to use
the MacBook, and second, how to be in the present and actually enjoy
my life, without simply writing it, except for the occasional pome. As
some of you know, including the literary agent who has thus far been
unable to sell it, when in Venice last early Autumn I wrote a book
called Live the day about a woman of 'a certain age' who is trying to
learn to be in the present, and not base her happiness on whether or not
what she is writing sells. Many chewed fingernails and months later, I
spoke to my beloved Jewru Jack, who had just had oral surgery and was on
Vicodin, and asked him, as I have over the years, what to do, having
been unable to accept my own artful(I think it was) counsel. And Jack
told me, speaking from the depth of the Vicodin, as he himself said he
was doing: "Why don't you go somewhere and not write."
It seemed unthinkable. Unaccustomed as I am to listening to
wisdom, I have been doing that ever since. Going places, including boat
rides around Manhattan on the yacht(it actually is, though I was
expecting a ferry) of my health club where there are too many people in
the pool--though I rarely look back, I regret not having befriended
Leona Helmsley who lived unhappily and cruelly just down the block, so
she could have left me her lap pool, as like her I was probably royal in
a previous life, though doubtless not as abusive. Other destinations
have included Central Park, just across the street, where I breakfast on
a bench with Mimi beside me, read the news(not good) and write the
occasional pome(not bad) and try and learn to Live the Day.
Recent days included a visit to Newport, Rhode Island, where I had
never been, and imagined was North of Massachusetts(I should have
paid more attention to Mrs. Laubenheimer, my geography teacher
at PS 9) and fell very much in love with it. it is once again what my
husband, Don, called a smart little village', the kind to which I have
always been drawn: see St. Tropez and La Jolla, where you can always
visit but shouldn't make the mistake of moving to after your husband
dies too young. Anyway, I love Newport, and with any luck and a few
bucks will rent a place there next July and you're all invited.
And there I lived the day, only three, but it felt good in the
basement of Vanderbilt Hall where there's a beautiful pool with
nobody in it but me, and a fine masseuse. So I was able to luxuriate
and heal, and the townsfolk weren't bad either, especially the two
realtors at Sotheby, who made the time there pass even more
delightfully. Present also was a great and colorful rock musician,
Pete Townshend, and I am always elated at the presence, especially
when it is present, of talent. I also wrote a few pomes.
While there, though, I did have ONE bad experience, going to see the
movie of 'Eat Pray Love' which I tried to go to with an open mind, even
though my beloved Jack had expressed a variation of what my beloved LA
library friend Evelyn Hoffmann had said, that she wished I had written
it. I, too, wished I had written it, because I am equally able to eat,
pray and love and my sentence structure is better. Envy is one of the 7
deadly, and though I would not have traded my grasp of the English
language and my feeling for Whatever There Might be Out There, for her
writing I would have enjoyed her royalties. So, to the movie.
I do believe it will set back spiritual study by a few centuries.
Oh, well. I have long felt a secret dislike for Julia Roberts because
my friend Marilyn said she had a mouth like a fish, and I know she took
someone else's husband. But it took Lewis Black, on the Daily Show,
whom I have long considered smart and funny but too unfettered in his
rage to rage against the movie enough. He pointed out that the shopping
network is full of Eat Pray Love merchandise, twenty hours a day. As if
that were not offensive enough(Eat Pay Love?) Julia to show her
dedication explained that she has actually been practicing Hinduism for
several years.
Huh? I said to myself, as a sometimes student of religion without
its orthodox strictures and entanglements. Huh? And again, Huh?
So going to the Internet, now that I know how to use my Mac and
understand I will never again have to ask anybody a question except
maybe Jack, I wrote in 'Hinduism' to see what exactly it required or
consisted of. I like the meditation, the belief that everything has a
spirit-- in Bali they have a day to honor the engine gods, especially
the ones in cars, a bit too over the top or under the hood, but
harmless-- but I draw the line at worshipping Vishnu the god of
violence-- and understand now why I loathe even more deeply than I
thought, Julia Roberts, since she's trying to add gravitas to her
excessive salaries by her claim. i have defined myself for the old Bryn
Mawr register as Quaker-Buddhist-Jew(at Don's urging:"that'll really
confuse them," he said.)
Anyway, on to the positive, speaking of Bryn Mawr. They are
putting on my play, The Women Upstairs, about what the wives were doing
during Plato's Symposium, while all the big guns, Socrates,
Aristophanes, Alcibiades and the rest of the gang were partying (the
actual word Symposium means 'Drinking Party' which if they would put on
it maybe more people would read) on October 29th, in the newly renovated
Goodhart Hall, where Katharine Hepburn spoke her first marbled words
onstage. You're all invited. And on the 16th of that selfsame month,
we are doing a reading of my musical, with the wonderful Tyne Daly
reading the star part which is almost joy enough to take care of my not
hoping it materializes on Broadway, but not quite. None of you is
invited to that, as we're doing it just for us to see how it sounds.
But as my wise and wonderful cousin Ruth-Anne told me once,
'Freedom is knowing you have options.' So I am filled with a great
sense of relief that I have avenues besides the one I barreled down
trying to finish the new book which I have now set aside to see what
happens with the career I really wanted all along, even though the
detour I took was being a novelist.
That's why you haven't heard from me. It felt good. Being in the
present I mean.