Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Shanah Tovah, I think

    I had some breakfast this morning in spite of the fact that I usually fast on this meant-to-be solemn occasion, because I was meeting the columnist Liz Smith for lunch, an old friend to whom I owed gratitude (she was very kind and supported me during the best of my writing career) -- I remember after the success of The Pretenders, and the election of Richard Nixon, after which we moved to England because we could,  I was sitting with her downstairs having breakfast in the Regency, where we staying because we could, when Robert ran by the window in his adorable toddlerhood. When he came in, she said "I saw you running in the street," and for several minutes after that, he chanted, ecstatic, "You saw me running in the street.  You saw me running in the street."  I believe it was the highlight of his New York visit, since he never liked anything more than being observed.
   She had also turned away some attractive man at a cocktail party who was interested in me, saying, very calmly but severely, "She's already taken." (I believe she really liked Don, as I did, too.)  The Pretenders had soared high on the bestseller list without much help from the publisher, being a surprise hit, and one of its most witty advocates in the Hearst papers had been Cholly Knickerbocker, whom I didn't know but who roundly admired my novel in print.  Then at a cocktail party, I was introduced to Liz Smith, and she said "I'm Cholly Knickerbocker."  After that we were great friends for a while, and she even marked the antics of my mother when she had her own column, so my mother felt like she, too, was a hit.
    I was very grateful to her, but then pressed for more publicity, as I was success-mad, and fearful it was going away, which it was, so Liz got mad at me.  Because my life has changed so completely, as I believe I have, I wanted to smooth it over before one or both of us left the planet (she is almost 90, and I am surprisingly old, having been the youngest one in my class at Bryn Mawr, and having started my life over after Don died, and several times since, writing travel for the Wall Street Journal Europe, my first real job since I was 20, when I had a brief run in the NBC Comedy Development Program, where I shared office space with Woody Allen, who was already smarter than I-- as he came in only on the day we got our checks, while I wrote a sitcom, songs, or a musical almost daily.)  So I made this date with Liz, which I did not want to re-set even though it was Yom Kippur, on which I almost never eat, though I am far from an observant Jew, or a steadfast observant anything, though Don said I should put in my reunion update that I was "a Quaker -Buddhist-Jew-- that'll really give them something to puzzle out at Bryn Mawr."
   Anyway I went to Swifty's. and she wasn't there, having apparently cancelled last night, but I didn't pick up the message, since most of the calls I've received lately have been disturbing for reasons I hope I am too private to put in a Report, as open(too) as I am.  So being uptown in a neighborhood where I used to live I decided to just wend my way home, chicly dressed as I was, and hoping that God, should He/She be looking, would see that I was making an effort to be present, the best thing I think you can be in this life, even as the mind wanders.
   First I went into the Christian Science Reading Room, to see if something could offer me illumination.  Neither any of their literature nor the messages opened and underlined in the window did it for me.  Then I went into a church-- I am not quite sure what denomination, and let the hymns fall open where they would, seeking guidance for the crap I am going through, and studying the Gothic architecture and the really lovely stained glass.   Then I passed a store called 'Worldly Things,' which was going out of business, and had a sign in its window saying 'The end of Worldly Things,' that I considered perhaps spiritually significant. But going inside, even their sacrifice prices were a bit too worldly.
   So I made my way to Temple Emanuel, where my parents belonged in my youth, and went through the side entrance for those who cannot afford to be in the congregation, passed through the metal detector and set it off with my new hip, and went downstairs, where there were hundreds of seats set up, and only about six or eight people in attendance.  But I heard the sermon from upstairs, and, more important, the singing voices of children, which kind of lifted me.  Then the woman rabbi read a story, but her reading was singsong and less than inspiring, so I left.
   And as I did, I encountered on the sidewalk a very fine-looking young father, holding a three-month old baby in his arms, fortunately a girl, as she had beautiful eyelashes, and it is only right that they should not be wasted on a boy.  "What's her name?" I asked the dad.
    "SYLVIA," he answered, immediately balming my soul, and giving my heart hope. For that, as my friends know, is the name of my musical, or was -- it is now
"SYLVIA WHO?"  And that is the reason I am back in New York, as the only really good thing about the economy is it's right for my musical.  It is the tale, begun long ago, but because of the way things are now, being timely and truly pertinent-- inspired by my mother-- of a widow whose husband leaves her a co-op on Park Avenue, and just enough money to pay the maintenance, so in order to live, in order to eat, she crashes parties, looking for love and free hors d'oeuvres.  That was, of course, what the late Helen Schwamm, aka Mom, did, except that in her case love came along a lot but never settled, though she was oft commemorated by Liz.  Nor did she have an apartment on Park Avenue, having panicked and sold everything of real value she had, silver, crystal, china, and a gorgeous place with terrace and many rooms on E. 60th Street for $60,000 to a British director whose name I don't remember since he wasn't very good, but struck a fine bargain with a woman who wasn't thinking.  From there she moved to the studio where I live now, as she was kind enough to leave it to me, but sad she divested herself of most everything but the chutzpah to crash parties.
    As old friends know I was originally a songwriter, (Frank Loesser said "Kid, you're the biggest talent since me.)  But Don told me early in our marriage: "You mix people up: you write plays and songs and poems and movies and books, and people are only comfortable if they can pigeonhole you.  So do one thing and one thing only and then you can surprise them."  So I wrote twelve books and figuring I had made my point, presented my musical to Jimmy Nederlander who rasped: "You're a bookwriter! What are you doing writing a musical?"
   So it's been a very long struggle to get people to listen.  The songs are, understandably, the kind of songs that used to be, because that's who Sylvia is. But they're good, and the lyrics say something, and the wonderful Rosemary Clooney whom I didn't know liked them so much she recorded them for me in exchange for sandwiches for the musicians.  Then one day during my recent sojourn in LA, as I swam in the pool at the Mosaic, an old friend appeared and said "I haven't forgotten about SYLVIA."  She would like to establish herself as a producer, is very sharp, and has the wherewithal and connections to do it.  But she isn't well, so I am, of course, praying for her good health.
  We'll see.  Meanwhile, there WAS that baby outside the temple.  You just never know when the signs mean something.  At least one can hope so.  Or, as Blanche DuBois might have said, slightly rewritten, "Sometimes there's God so slowly."

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Unexpected Mischief

    It is amazing what trouble I can find just walking through the park.  Example, below. This is the woman who was kind to me on Saturday, when I suffered over being rejected by someone I didn't even know, which is my way.  If you want to call her, that's up to you.  But I shall await the arrival of Jack Kornfield, my friend and teacher, to pick up my healing.
    Honest to God. 
    What a world! what a world! as Margaret Hamilton would say just before they threw the water on her in Wizard of Oz. 
    Breathe and stay healthy, and out of the way of.. how can I put it poetically?...bullshit?
    One day I will tell you about my adventure on Sunday, going to a beloved friend's husband's memorial service at Calvary Church in Stonington, Conn, on a train that left at 7 AM so I was up at 5 and got there at 7 and the service wasn't till 1.  So there I was all alone in an unknown venue but the sun glittered on the water, and I found some friendly faces and a few pelicans.  I wrote about it on my Ipad but can't send it as I forgot my password for that particular Apple device, which we know from yesterday's headline is from what will be the first company to break a trillion.
   Oh, I hope there is a Heaven, so Steve Jobs knows what he hath wrought.  Not to mention Ash Green, the great gentleman whose sad celebration it was.
    Here's the lady in the park.

About Kat Katsanis-Semel

Kat Katsanis-Semel, M.A., is a Reiki Master, an Integrated Energy Therapy® Master, an Angel Therapist® and a Magical Awakening® practitioner. She is the founder of KaTransformations, which is a revolutionary, personal transformation business. Kat received her Bachelor of Arts from Sarah Lawrence College, and her Master of Arts from New York University. Through introspection, as well as through her studies in academic and holistic health environments, Kat discerned her dharma, or life’s calling. Kat is called to support others in their personal evolution of moving from fear based belief systems, to those rooted in love. KaTransformations offers this support in an LGBTQ-welcoming paradigm, which reflects her core value of conscious inclusiveness.
(THE PLUG IN, whatever that means, I guess her picture, is missing.  But you get the idea.)

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Autumn in New York

So yesterday was spent traversing the doggie hot spots in Manhattan, looking for the little girl who can never replace, but might warm the spot formerly camped on by Mimi, whose loss, you may remember, sent me heartsick to a welcoming recuperation at a kind friend's home in Bali.  That of course resulted in two books, the first, one that was fun but didn't matter, SCANDAL, the second the task gnawing at my gut and heart since 2004, when a truly beloved friend died in a mysterious and improbable "accident" in Bali, never investigated, even though she herself was arguably one of the great woman journalists of our time-- certainly mine.  That book being finished, although orbiting into a world bereft of Barnes and Noble and publishers filled with purpose-- oh ghost of Maxwell Perkins, have you found anyplace to rest?-- felt like a true achievement, if not for my career, for my soul.
    Returning to what is essentially the supercharged, driven, but empty place that is New York New York if you are not on top of the heap or self-appointedly so (see Donald Trump) my apartment felt particularly vacant without Mimi.  So the lovely and kind Susan Dady, who worked with my magnificent mentor(character-wise, I could not hope to stand even a long way behind her, academically) Pat McPherson after she left her post as president of Bryn Mawr and went to the Mellon Foundation.  Pat had once again sent me looking for a dog, and knowing how susceptible I am, counseled me to take Susan along to give me ballast.  Our appointed meeting place was the pet store on Lexington where I had found Mimi, an aberration for a pet store, angel dog that she seemed and now is in fact, where I had the sense not to be taken in by the doggies in the window, advertised outside at $699 and being once you inquired, $2500 but they would come down a little. Really.  I mean even the wonderfully ugly dog who looked a bit like MuMu, the Dachshund/chihuahua that was one of the litter of three totally different mixed breeds all from the same mother(and three different fathers, apparently dogs can do that) that I had come to love in Bali, was over the top in price, $ 3300 but they would come down a little.
     We taxied up to the neighborhood where the adoptive pets were, had a tasty lunch on First Avenue and 110th Street at Wing Ho, vegetables and Lo Mein, then made our way to the place advertised where my new dog wasn't.  But they suggested we go to the ASPCA and the Humane Society further downtown.  So we did.  On the way, having saved $3300 but they would come down, I bought my first pair of heels since my recent realignment, checking if I could actually maneuver in them, which I believe I could if I had an arm, so that might become my second Manhattan quest after Whoever She Is.  At the Humane Society I made a human connection, with a wonderful, seemingly hard-bitten interviewer who morphed instantly into a sensationally accessible woman, we became friendly, and I am sanguine that if the dog exists, she will find her for me.  
      Then I hobbled home, this having been more on-the-ground running than I have done since returning to this city of cement sidewalks and hard countenances, everyone on their way to something, nobody being exactly where they are.  But all that will be put into clear perspective next weekend when my beloved teacher and friend, Jack Kornfeld, whom Don called my Jewru, comes to town, a gift from the universe during these troubled and confusing times, to teach at Omega, quartered while he's here at the Ethical Culture Society, just across the park from me.  
      Sometimes the blessings are so elusive, but in others, they are held out like welcoming hands.  With very soft skin, and no callouses. 
      That night I went to the opening of the antiques show at the New York Armory, loaded with flashy and over-the-top jewels,  beautiful furniture, and a cast of hundreds mooching free eats. Dinner on the sidewalk with my old friend Isobel, and then another long walk home.   So the next morning I went to the chiropodist, and then stopped in to see a friend with whom I shared a vet whose name I couldn't remember, and her receptionist told me she doesn't have the vet anymore, because her dog died. 
      I don't know. Maybe it's better if I don't get a pet.  When you love, in one way or another, you lose. 
      Then today, as I walked back through the park after catching up with the gorgeous Tarp children, Viktoria 3and 1/2 and Winston, a giant six months, and their beautiful parents, both of them making the world a better place (working for the UN in spots that need them)  I chanced upon a party on the grass behind a bench.  Two friendly Hispanics were sitting there drinking from silver chalices, having been invited, they told me, to share in the happiness.  The man whose half-happiness it was-- he and his partner were celebrating the partner's birthday, and the bench itself, he told me.  The birthday man said they had bought the bench so that their children and friends, when they were gone-- dead, I imagine, he meant-- instead of going to a cemetery friends and family could come to the park, sit there and remember them.  It seemed quite a beautiful idea, as the day itself was mild and beautiful, and the un-birthday boy invited me to come to the other side and share the happiness.
    There were two or three tables laid with wine and gorgeous cakes and pies, and although I took only a glass of water, I was impressed with the beauty and generosity of spirit.
     Not so fast.  This is, after all, New York.  The daughter Jennifer, a second grade school teacher, already knew we had the same name, both of them derived from Guinevere.  "It's my name, after all," she said.
     So basking in the benevolence, I just looked, and smiled, and then, it being my-- as they say in Italy, only in Italian(I don't want to show off)-- greatest virtue and worst fault that I am very, maybe completely open-- I tried to be friendly and asked the lovely Jennifer which of the cakes she had baked.  At that point she threw me out of the party.
     New York Hos, is what I dub that, fair Guinevere descendant.  Hos for hospitality, until a moment later when it becomes hostility.  So I left, at which point I encountered two women, one of them a healer/medium, and they both agreed that that was VERY  New York.  Open-hearted, with a knife in it.
     At that point the conversation turned to Mitt, the only one I imagine who has perhaps had a more tumultuous and upsetting few days than I have had, and the healer expressed the opinion that he was a sociopath, more extreme than the idea I had, which was that he is quite simply a moron, in an empty suit.  She said that what characterizes a sociopath is that they have no empathy, which young Mitt demonstrated at an early age when he cut the hair of the young gay guy.  They pointed out that this week he even turned on his poor, falsely smiling wife.  
     By then we had reached Columbus Circle and the two women went on to heal. intuit;whatever their plan was for the rest of the day, while I crossed the street to Fedex to pick up the print-out of my ticket to Mystic, Connecticut, where I go tomorrow morning on my way to Stonington, for the funeral, alas, of Ash Green, Ashbel in full, one of the great editors of my time, though I never had the good luck to be edited by him, though he did have a great suggestion for my new book which he really liked and may or may not ever see the light, what with Barnes and Noble becoming a Century 21, and there being not that many publishers hungry for product, as nobody knows what's going to happen with books as we knew them.  Ash, who was married to one of the great ladies,( she really is)-- Betsy Osha, whom I love-- was for much of his life with Knopf, probably the best publisher there is, though I never pirouetted that well or that high.
     Maybe he knows now where publishing is going, or If.  Or maybe when I get back to New York from this sad but inevitable occasion, I can ask the healer/medium.  I hope I didn't lose her card. 

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

A Welcome Gloom

    I am enchanted to see a really gray day.  There has been a spate of sunshine in my life in recent months: endless good weather in California and then many sparkling(if New York can be considered sparkling) days since I came back here.  So it is a relief to have the clouds and the overhang of gloom over the too high rooftop of the building going up on 57th Street that is offending everybody but the Israeli(I am ashamed to say; I assumed it would be an Arab) who is building it.  101 stories I think they are planning, and it was or rather is an Arab who supposedly bought the top floor-- yet to be built- for supposedly a hundred million or something like that, a figure that would be tossed aside or sent to the Galapagos by Mitt Romney.
   I am so sad for my country, that such an empty suit could be an actual candidate. But oh well, as my son would say, actually believing that he will not be affected by the election.  I am particularly sad for my Republican friends, of whom I have several I actually love, but cannot speak to during these days, because I know the best of them would find this unsupportable except they have to support it, so it is better we don't communicate.  I had a new friend I really liked who put on her Facebook, more's the public pity, that she liked Mitt Romney, and I don't know if that makes me sadder, or the fact that she is on Facebook.  As those of you who have actually read this blog will be aware, the only thing I have been able to celebrate these recent months is the fact that Facebook had a visible failure in the marketplace, which made me believe that in spite of all signs, discrimination had a future.
    I have been deeply disappointed by my few but costly forays onto the not-that-Great White Way, with little to look forward to but a personal miracle I am not counting on but could happen, with a less than ferocious appetite for even the movies that are being lofted(or lowered) onto the screens.  Most touted of course was The Master, where I genuinely looked forward to yet another surprising performance from Phillip Seymour Hoffmann, who did not disappoint me but must have disappointed himself.  Peter Travers all but peed on himself in Rolling Stone, and the New York Times did the same, in their excitement that here at too long last was a real movie.  The theater was chock-a-block--not an empty seat-- with happy souls, many of whom slouched out onto Broadway when it was over, wondering what the fuck was that?  My pal Rex Reed was the only one who dissed it, and I feared for him going in, but breathed a deep sigh on the way out that he still had all his judicious marbles.  There may be worse charlatans on the loose than L. Ron Hubbard.
     I am trying to believe that the dictums of Benjamin Franklin may yet prevail, and that Abraham Lincoln, still our most impressive president, what with his cultivated but unlikely intellect, deep wisdom, and fine bone structure soon to be arced into place by Daniel Day Lewis, was right when he said You could fool some of the people some of the time, and some of the people all of the time, but you can't fool all of the people all of the time.  But I can't be sure anymore, and will not know I can breathe a sigh of relief about this once great country until after the election.  Because I am afraid you can buy enough of the people some of the time, and that would be a true tragedy.  In an empty suit.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Forty-Seventh Street

    So having returned from sunny Southern Cal, a little too rested, I launched into my return to New York by going to the matinee on Saturday of Forbidden Broadway.  This exorcised any and all regret and not having been in New York, as I experienced what had to be the best and worst of the entire year, and even at the intermission they played music from when musicals were musicals-- Street Where You Live, etc.
    I sat Saturday night, during the first act of PETER and the STARCATCHER, all I could endure-- it was such juvenilia-- next to a librarian from Maine, whose library was not yet closing as there are a lot of rich retirees in her community who keep it going.  She was compiling a list of the 10 best musicals ever, and I helped her, citing one by Frank Loesser(GUYS AND DOLLS) who hit on me when I was twenty but did nothing to help me with my songwriting career, even though when he heard my songs, he said "Kid, you're the biggest talent since me," and later apologized for having lifted a couple of riffs for "a musical Moss and I are doing," one(GYPSY) by Julie Styne, an adorable man with whom I lunched at the Carlyle for several of the last Saturdays of his social life,-- he wanted to hit on me but was on dialysis;-- none by Vernon Duke, though he did write one of the best songs of all time (AUTUMN IN NEW YORK) and was jealous of Richard Rodgers ("He's a son-of-a-bitch, but he does write a great tune) who actually chased me around my parent's bedroom, old man though he was:) several by Lerner and Loewe, whom I did not know, but much admired, one by my actual mentor Yip Harburg, (FINIAN's RAINBOW)which was cheating a little as it does have a problematical and dated book, but the score is glorious, and he did write OVER THE RAINBOW, which still tears at the heart.  I did not remember until well after I had left the theater that I had completely forgotten Irving Berlin and ANNIE GET YOUR GUN which glows even in revival and without Ethel Merman-- Reba MvIntire, who woulda thunk it, bringing new charm to that great musical.  
    Stunning that I forgot him, since he is the reason I have considered my whole life directed towards songwriting, since I was born on May 11th, Berlin's birthday.  So I always thought, dreamed, imagined I had a Destiny.  The return to the Brooks Atkinson theatre, and the dreadful Peter I also supposed, in advance, anyway, was kind of drawn on a cosmic blackboard, as that was where my play opened on Broadway, for a few performances, anyway, the same time Madeleine was born.  So I was in the hospital for the final, crucial rehearsals, when they fired the director, Paul Bogart, and brought in Arthur Storch, who made the whole(small) cast hysterical.  My obstetrician let me out of the hospital for the end of the opening night--they still kept you in five daysish in those days--as he wanted to go.  So the limo came and got me there for the last laugh, which wasn't there, so I knew it had been a disaster. Mel Brooks who had been crazily helpful out-of-town(Philadelphia) and Annie Bancroft, then our close friends, drove me back to the hospital, and Mel said "You had two things happen this week-- if one of them had to go wrong, if your daughter had been born with six toes or two noses... that would have been okay: what mattered was the show."  I believe he saved my life.
     Everything then, I believed, and I know Donnie did, too, hinged on Success.  Now, I think, it is just about staying alive, gratitude that I have lived this long, trying to stay in shape, and well, sustaining the hope that the South could rise again... or at least libraries might, and, with them, people who read. Oh, well... I guess I have lived so long that I am doddering.  An odd word.  I must look up what it really means. 
    Ah, here it is, online of course so there's no need to open a dictionary, poor dictionary, cast aside along with all the other books, except maybe in Maine.
 shaky, feeble, or infirm, esp from old age. Well, thankfully, I guess I am really none of those, except in spirit.  But nonetheless, onward! Or, maybe at this point, sideways.  

Thursday, September 06, 2012

Return of the Non-native

  So I have returned to the Great not-so-White-Way to seek my Once-and-Always-was-my-Secret Fortune, and was immediately suffused with humidity, weariness, and regret, wishing I was living in California.  That was a very special time, and I am grateful to the universe and my left hip for forcing me into a period of silence, tranquility, and being able to live and be with myself for long periods of time, which proves that I have overcome the specter of my high-school days at the progressive school, known improbably as Cherry Lawn, in Darien, Connecticut, the seat of anti-Semitism in the U.S. in that day, (mine,)where went (not at the same time) the young refugee bald ten-year old German Jew, Mike Nichols, and where my Nazi(I am sure she was) housemother Mrs. Lande slammed us out of bed every morning saying we were all unfit to (I don't think it was quite) live(See Sweet William, my fourth novel, which doesn't quite soar but it's fun.)  Mrs. Lande, smoking through a long black and silver holder clenched in her surprisingly white(but maybe they weren't hers) teeth, told me if I were in a room by myself, I would go mad.  Well I was, and I didn't.  It took many and many a mile and a year, but I actually emerged serene.
    Still, it all fell away like a mantel when I got to JFK, where I was met by my loved and obviously reliable friend Steve, the sweet musician, who drove me back to Manhattan via the scenic Verranzano Bridge route, which I had never taken and did not much appreciate at the time, glittering though it was, as I was spent and humided,(I know it's not a word) and sorry to have left L.A.  I think now that a mantel of calm may be called that, as it can so easily be discarded, or slip.  At any rate I hated my apartment on sight-- it seemed cluttered to me after the spare neatness of the Mosaic where I had so little excess, if you don't count flowers, but also empty, as it still barks the absence of Mimi, for whom there were many pillows on the floor which I think I have to give away.
    Jamie had instructed me to 'Broom' the room, which she would be quick to do, having been raised by the painstakingly tidy and neat Janet Leigh, as the first time Jamie saw the place she said "I could live here," which she doubtless could but I am not as neat as she, and have not yet learned to be a minimalist, and compulsive, I have to say, albeit lovingly.  There would be no brooming this room as there are too many fabrics.  But I did spend yesterday getting rid of much I didn't need as there was a man who's looking for a studio and I hoped to sell it to him, but he didn't show up today and I did such a good job I suppose I could live here.  We'll see.
   I am of course afraid for my country which is more cluttered than my apartment, with mindless people who vote out of fear, and afraid for my son who doesn't take this election seriously as he doesn't think it affects him.  But I know it would affect my beautiful grandboys and their education and their prospects unless I got very rich which of course I still might do, depending on whether I get my Fortune I am seeking, at the end of a very long but always pretty obvious road which few really knew I was on except my classmates at Bryn Mawr, several of whom, including, I read in the Alumnae Bulletin which I must remind myself not to look at anymore, those with improbable and storied family names, several of whom have died.  I am still surprised when some people die: for example, Larry Gelbart, whom I thought too clever to do that, and Michael Crichton, whom I have already expressed shock about, as I thought him too tall and too rich, and last, Veronique Peck, whom I considered too chic.  Oh, well.
    So I have rejoined the gym, where I am off to now, so I can swim, which has kept me alive and sort of flexible at the Mosaic, the great little pool of which was mine alone almost every morning, and a soothing luxury.  And then I will Chipotle with the angel Carleen, as she is known to me and my cousin Lori, who knows an angel when she sees one.  They were about to open a Chipotle on Little Santa Monica in Beverly Hills when I left there, so it will be safe and spicy to return one day, I hope, when my Ship has come in, which I am almost confident it is soon to, though you never know.  We'll see, a good motto for any life, including Mitt Romney's.  Such an unlikely name.
    But as they end every speech, and have now included Him/Her in the Democratic platform, God Bless America, even though it is as if Benjamin Franklin never even lived, judging by the foundering post office, which he founded.  Ben was a big Believer, as he had to have been with all those gifts.  But as he said in his epitaph, written of course by himself, "he will return in a new and better edition, written and edited by The Author."  Oh when, oh Lord, if you're really there. Oh, when?  It can't just be on the hundred dollar bill.

Sunday, September 02, 2012

Collecting Oneself

    What’s wonderful about remembering someone you loved who’s dead, and they were colorful, is they can still give you  a laugh, even one you didn’t know at the time was funny.  For example, I have recently rediscovered Good Earth tea, and I remembered how I would meet Don at the Good Earth restaurant in Westwood.  And he referred to it once as “your smelly place.”  I tasted the tea and remembered that, and it made me laugh. 
    I don’t know how many years he’s been gone, but our daughter was eighteen when he died and she’s forty-six now.  You do the math.  Imagine something that can make you laugh all those years later.   I was a lucky woman.
    This has been a time of pulling it all together-- the past, the near present(Bali)-- letting go of regret and anger, stripping my life of things unnecessary to its healthy continuation, learning to be completely alone, except for Vince D'Onofrio-- I have eased myself into sleep nightly with Law and Order, and he is the detective, and they run the series continuously, but in its different seasons, put together, so I can see him gaining weight in the course of one evening, and wish I could comfort and counsel him, as he is palpably gifted, and handsome.  It threw me back to when I was living in Paris right after Bryn Mawr, and I wanted to save Judy Garland and Orson Welles, who were both there.  I never ran into Judy (or of course she would still be alive,) but I did pass Orson Welles on a bridge on the Left Bank, and he was talking to himself.  As bold as I thought I was, I was too respectful to interrupt.
        But this has been a great adventure, as I didn't know I had it in me to be so quiet for so long.  I have written little, but then in Bali I wrote a great deal, and the object here was Peace, which I was not quite sure I could achieve.  
      I think I have.  We'll see.
      But meantime I had beautiful closure last night with my family: Robert and Jennie who -- we'll see, Lukas who wanted to know if I was coming to his Bar Mitzvah June 29(I must not seem a very present Grandma that he could have any question-- Silas, who once again chided me for treating him or thinking of him in any way that was the same as when he was little-- "But we were very close then," I said.  "We're close now," he retorted.  So that's that.  The sense of joy and relief was a balm.
      On Tuesday I am off to New York.  It is a fearful time politically, but as I have written before though not here, I had the calamitous privilege to be in the San Francisco earthquake in '89 with the great Ann Richards-- we took shelter at Lia Belli's house, overlooking the marina, which was on fire-- and I said "what if __ (I can;t remember who was running for president) wins?" And she Texas drawled, "Then this country will find out what the Framers always knew, that it could run without a president."
    I hope we don't have a chance to find out. 
    Meanwhile, I love you all and wish you a Happy Autumn.  It can not come quickly enough.  I have had enough sun.