Where nobody pays attention
She flew quite high
Towards an azure sky
Ending up in a new dimension
Where the air was clearer
And God seemed nearer
And there were both nabobs and slobs
There was fairness, parity
All of it run by Steve Jobs.
After the agonies, real and imagined, of my first few days in Amsterdam, plagued by insomnia, a word that seems to me not strong enough for the anguish you go through, plus not knowing where my life was heading from here, if anywhere, I end up in a pocket of peace. Not easily come by, of course, as Peace rarely is. More bouts of uncertainty, in this fascinating city of Amsterdam, where every time you think something will be easy to get to, there is construction in the way. Like a metaphor for Life itself.
Roberto, as noted, never showed up, though I called him many times, each of my calls answered by a hospitable recording of his voice mail, moderately unintelligible. But when I got to the Apple store, my Club, and they called AT&T in the States to unlock my IPhone, I found out that all your calls, whether to or from you, which they don't tell you when you buy your however many minutes, are charged to your account, so even without being able to speak to him, I had used up the dollars I had bought, which were many.
Dispirited to say the least, I then went on my quest for sleep. Knowing it would not come easily if at all, since I was now many days past the expected jet lag and I still couldn't even doze, except for one short interlude given me by my new friends, the young couple I'd taken to dinner the night before to celebrate their engagement. He'd put an App on my IPhone called Sleep Hypnosis, which worked once, briefly, before I started getting annoyed with the female whose voice it was, because she gave alternatives... i.e.: "You are standing on a mountaintop... or maybe you'd rather be under a tree... or maybe you're by a lake... " and so on, so whatever spell there might have been was broken.
Had a tea by the canal with my new friend Daniel, who'd been seated next to me on the plane as I flew here, and had me to his home for dinner. By now I was more than desperate for rest, so went to a pharmacy for something to help me sleep. Available as are recreational drugs in Amsterdam, many of the young and older coming here to get zonked, I dared not even take a toke, not knowing what the effect would be, and there being so many steps and levels I could trip down in my "apartment." This is the "terrace" that came with it, as advertised online by an agency here that handles B & Bs. They didn't show this picture, and I was too bleary when I saw the flat to see how bleak it was. (I hadn't learned yet how to switch my iPhone to color, but trust me, in color, it is no less dreary.)
Now here is how it works at the Farmacie. Though outside, not too many feet away you can find a coffee house with someone to deal you grass or hash or maybe even heroin, and that's quite legal, the police have decided they don't want to be troubled with enforcing any penalties so the recently discussed plan to make all this criminal has been abandoned. In the pharmacy, though, you cannot get a sleeping pill without a prescription.
This is how you get one: the pharmacist calls a doctor, you talk to the doctor on the phone, give your birthdate, your problem, your passport number. The doctor, according to his discretion, faxes a prescription to the drugstore. So you get the pills. They bill you, besides the cost of the medication, twenty-five euros for the doctor, twenty-five for the pharmacy, and the pills. I got a packet of 10 low dose Temazipan, a barbiturate, for 66.50 Euros. At the current exchange rate that works out to about nine dollars a pill.
Still, I was so yearning for sleep, I didn't care. I was on my way back to my apartment "with terrace" when the borderline good news came: an apartment I'd looked at, clean and beautiful, overlooking one of the spiffier canals, that I'd been shown by the real estate agent I'd met with the young couple I'd taken to dinner, was available to me starting June 2nd. It involved a commitment: leasing it till the beginning of December. But hey... I hadn't really known, as I said, where my life was going, if anywhere. I'd decided to try and look ahead, instead of back, so came here instead of going to my Big Reunion. As I wandered these streets, narrowly avoiding being run into by bicyclists, I'd made a few cries to the sky of "Help me, God!" not knowing, of course, if there was really Anyone there. But I knew for Sure that New York was nowhere I wanted to be this summer.
It would not be possible for me to stay past next Monday at my studio with terrace, nor did I want to spend any more time there than I had to, with its ominous hallway that made me feel like Anne Frank had she lived to be old. I had to find someplace for the next seven days. Then Daniel called to invite me to dinner tonight with his daughter and Peter and Arthur who had a spare room he was almost sure I could rent. And I can work here! I can write here! It feels... well, as we used to say in Southern Cal, meant to be.
Today, May 24th, is the day my novel, THE MOTHERLAND, was published, in 19__ with the almost great support of Simon & Schuster. My famed editor Michael Korda, said: "As far as I am concerned, this is the only book we are publishing this year." He forgot about a little number called ALL THE PRESIDENT'S MEN.
Any interest in Fiction was obliterated by the fall of Richard Nixon. So I figured God had a choice between saving my book, and the country.
There is a Spiritual Diary I brought with me, bought early in my questing, at the Self-Realization Center in California. Every day has a message, by one of the Greaties, who really knew how to let go. Today's message from Paramahansa Yogananda:
"This life is a Master Novel, written by God, and man would go crazy if he understood it all."
If that doesn't feel like cosmic orchestration, I don't know what would be. And the best news: I fell asleep last night with no medication. There is a God. His name is Morpheus.