Friday, August 02, 2013


Found this old piece  today on my computer, as I searched for a novel I wrote many years ago when I was still considered a "hot" novelist, looking for a new agent, and enjoyed a brief friendship with Mary Higgins Clark, who could not have been "hotter," making as she did a consistent and continuing fortune.  "What are your books about?" she asked me, over dinner on Sixth Avenue, at a restaurant I loved that isn't there anymore, as many things aren't, along with what and who I loved,
    "They're all different," I said.
    "Oh, that's a mistake," she said, gently,without missing a beat, having sold a jillion books that were all pretty much the same, a brilliantly successful formula, reassuring to her army of fans.  Then she gave me the name of her agent, Gene Winick, at Macintosh & Otis.
I called him, and because I was still in some kind of happening state, or, more probably, because Mary had sent me, he took me on.  Then he submitted the book to fifteen publishers at once, without a personal approach to any of them.
   It was a novel written from the point of a view of a gay man(not dared at the time) who was probably mad from the beginning but was to go completely insane by the end of it, killing the woman he was living with, who was very like the newly widowed me. He was very like my great first love, Tony Perkins, at least the closeted, tormented part of him, and the book was called SCHERZO.  I hope I have it somewhere, from the days when you still typed and copied on paper.  Because today, too many years late to actually inform me so I might have been careful, I read the piece in Vanity Fair about Harper Lee, and among the dolts and unthinkers she worked with were Gene Winick.  And I suddenly remembered the dead look in his eyes, and the fact that I really hadn't been sure that he even read it.  Only one publisher responded, a naughty woman of the time, whose name I can't remember, but she was a troublemaker and made some for herself. I may remember it later, which I do most of the time now, as facts escape me, even while none of the feelings do.
     And then I remembered clearly how I saw Winick shortly after that, and realized he didn't even really remember who I was.  Which is different from not being able to recall a name,  And then I knew he hadn't even really read my book, and just sent it as to a cattle auction.  Oh, well.
     Here's what I found in my Documents file.
     So it is Sabado de Gloria, as they celebrate it in Mexico where I was one Easter season, when Liza Minnelli was only a little messed up, and I was in Guaymas while she was making Lucky Lady. My children were little and still beautiful and touching, and Don was very much alive, standing up for me, which few have done since. But then, I have learned to stand up for myself, supported by a few wonderful and smart friends and the occasional clearheaded lawyer.
I have returned to Los Angeles to check in with those, as well as the doctors I trust who keep me alive, so far, and to maybe find someplace to live where I will not lose my bearings because I am so cold. This has been the hardest winter of my life, isolated in the midst of a crowded, busy New York City, and a building full of people who mostly avert their eyes, even in the elevator, as though they are fearful you will ask them for something. Like compassion, or, even worse, money.
It is a puzzle, New York, still the capital of the Driven, people busily on their way to Somewhere or Something, not many of them noting where they are. I am no less guilty, having lost my Jack-center, having forgotten how to be peaceful, except by the Boathouse in Central Park, where I can look at the lake and almost remember what it was to rejoice in being still. That has been the setting for my making a few friends, most of them from other countries, where people still dream that New York is the place, and maybe envy me the fact that I live there. Or did.
I am looking for a place to live here so I can do what work I am meant to do, all the while hoping that my fantasy, the reason I stayed in New York, will materialize. And that is, of course, my musical, which I have been working on since before you were born. But I have an advocate, and that encourages me not to think it is a complete dream, so we will see.
There is no point, I don’t think, in giving up a dream, even if, or especially when it seems elusive. When we lose the ability to chase after things, if only in our minds, then the gears of imagination stiffen along with everything else. So I remember how it was that Sabado di Gloria, when the whole world, or at least the exotic part of it, lay before us, and nobody could imagine or conjure or be warned about growing old. There we stood, under the tree, my handsome, strong, tall husband, my darling children, and the member of a local tribe we connected with, who was having his own, mysterious Easter celebration. Those were the days, remember, when I believed in Everything. So I considered it a personal gift from the Powers that Be, (unless they Aren’t) to have
connected with this obviously illuminated local, a Yaqui Indian, which was the tribe that Castaneda, the celebrated mystical writer of the 60s, had connected with, and learned from (unless he was exaggerating, or, Heavens Forefend, making it all up.)
Nothing would ever go wrong again, I was sure, having recently been rescued by my hero, and not having yet encountered a great personal loss, if you didn’t count Roosevelt in the 4th grade. So there we stood, connecting on a super-sensitive and mysterious level. And when it was ending, and the Yaqui was returning to his Yaqui life, he said he would meet us again.
“Where?” I asked.
“Under the tree,” said the Yaqui.
“Under the tree,” echoed Don, smiling, indulgent as always of my

lunatic, mystical bent.
So when the time came, not all that long afterward, when my young

and tall and strong husband died, that’s where we put him.
Ah, but this is the day before the Rising Up. And we have nothing to

fear but fear itself and the little dumb lunatic in Korea. The sun struggles to come out, as Gays don’t have to anymore.
So let us rejoice in the fact that we are alive, at least some of us. A friend told me +Candace Bergen, a very smart woman, said “Growing old is a privilege.” I would have to applaud her.
At least my hands are still in fine shape. And I have made the print larger, in case, you, like me, find it more comfortable. 

    When I went to that church last Sunday, one of the thoughts projected on the screen was "Have the right regrets."
    I don't think there's any point in having any.  The only regrets we maybe should have, since there's no way of changing the past, is to regret the things you didn't even try to do.