Yesterday I heard a taxi driver tell someone in a foreign language I understood anyway, that he was bringing “a nice old lady,” which is what I guess I am. As much as I appreciate the “nice,” I was of course offended by the “old lady,” though I made no fuss about it, even inside my own soul, as we must remember that I am here while Bryn Mawr will be having a reunion of my class the number of which I am reluctant to put into e-letters.
Speaking of which, I have written an e-song, that I hope I can find a singer to record, as it seems to be to be truly of the moment, even though I no longer am. Here you are:
IT’S AN E-WORLD
AND I AM E-ALONE
I USED TO HAVE U
BUT NOW I HAVE E
IT’S AN E-WORLD
NOT EVEN A TELEPHONE
SO HERE I AM
ALL AT C
WILL MY SHIP EVER COME IN?
WILL IT BE AGAIN THE WAY IT’S BEEN?
OR AM I DOOMED TO B LOST
FOR ALL ETERNIT-E.
Put that in your Smartphone and smoke it,
The cafes here are terraced with active dope smokers. Yesterday I saw a still-young woman walking down a busy street sucking devotedly on a glass pipe, nothing in her eyes, and I would guess, very little on her horizon. Much as I have enjoyed the occasional toke, it seems even more hazardous to me than the staircase, as I don’t really know who anyone is, or what their true motives are.
Let us begin with Roberto, an Italian waiter at the Majestic cafe in Dam Square, who seemed sincere to me even though Italian. I understand everyone here is on the Hustle, but as I also understand Italian, and he actually said he would help me find an apartment, I borderline believed him. The beauteous, overpriced apartment I am thinking of taking in the event I commit myself to long-term here, which I am considering, as I do seem to be able to write well, though not sleeping at ALL, is not available until June 2. Where I am staying now at a HUGE week’s rental is hazardous, to put it mildly. Many levels of steps, shabby, endless places you could get hurt, and… well, you’ll see the terrace as soon as I can get back to the Apple Store and learn how to attach the photo from my iPhone. I went there this morning to wait for Roberto’s call, which never came (SURPRISE!)
Paul (see yesterday’s REPORT) was great as before, but the SIM card he sold me so I could make calls at less than a fortune, doesn’t work in my iPhone, so we have to call AT&T to unlock it and we can’t do that till 4 o’clock, as we are six hours ahead of the U.S.
It is now only 1:06. I would take a nap, but as explained, sleep is completely elusive. Everything so far that has happened has come with a footnote of great difficulty to get past before I could get on with what I hoped would be a great adventure, the option I took to my college reunion, which seemed, and is, about the past.
I wanted to be about what was ahead, if anything is. I thought that might be a new kind of inspirational saga, different from all those offered by these charlatan religiosts who seem to be holding forums at enormous prices everywhere, the God they are offering: SUCCESS!! (The last one I know of before I left “home” was in New York, being held by Ariana Huffington, who scares me, because she is so obvious and people still pay attention) Among others I wanted to inspire was myself, because I hate to think my audacity is over. WITHOUT RISK, it says in the window of the Nike store here in Amsterdam, THERE IS NO VICTORY. But of course, you have to live through it to win.
In Dam Square at the Majestic, yesterday, while I was hoping to get something sincero from Roberto, who was carrying a tray of sandwiches, I connected with a cantor from Israel. He was a truly lovely gentleman, but he does not believe there was a God in Europe or the Holocaust wouldn't have happened.
I have a different theory. Some years ago, In a prior bout of audacity, probably closer to madness, I attended the Aryan Nations Congress, in Hayden Lake, Idaho. Besides the registered out-and-out Nazi propaganda and committed Nazi storybooks, they were selling paintings by Hitler. I know that Hitler's mother didn't like him, and his stepfather was physically punishing, and possibly he was a Jew. But besides that, the KunstAcademie, I think you spell it, the art academy in Berlin turned the young Adolf down for admittance.
His paintings, as displayed at the conference were laughable, a number of them of cows. But it occurred to me that if his mother hadn't been abusive, and the art school had let him in, six million Jews might be alive. Rage at being unloved and unappreciated, it seems to me, was what made him crazy.
One speaker at that Nazi Congress, a supposed minister, intoned "Harbor hatred only for Jews." Many of those attending had shaved heads, including the women, but with long braids hanging down the backs of their necks, a sort of style that seems to be in evidence here in Amsterdam among some of the young, as well as close-clipped on the sides, and spiked up and heavily gelled on top.
I had been followed carefully through the conference with regular check-ins via phone, as it used to be in that Age before texting, by my wonderful friend the late Joe Wershba, a producer at 60 Minutes. I knew I it was beyond risky to go there, but Don had died, and I was looking for my next novel. When I had written it, or almost all of it, I went away for a weekend in the desert. There was a great rainstorm in L.A. and a flaw in the roof over my desk. Water poured in and the manuscript was completely destroyed. So though there may have been no God in Europe for the Holocaust, I think there was one in Southern California. A man in Chicago who had been writing a book about the American Nazi party was found hanged outside his office window, the other end of the rope attached to his desk.
I had been joined at the conference towards the end by a friend living nearby, Tomi, a holistic masseuse I'd gotten through best pal Jamie Lee Curtis. Tomi heard one of the hate speeches and asked me how I could stand it, as she wasn't even Jewish and her skin was crawling. I made it literal and developed eczema. We got out of there before the final night, when, I'd heard, a microphone fell out of a man's sleeve during the Nazi 'SIEGHEIL!' with which the gatherings always started. They'd discovered he was with the FBI, and killed him, or so the story went. I had already left so I can't confirm that.
But I went directly from the conference to the actual lake, where I parasailed, for the first and last time, as fearful as I am of heights. There was nothing to be afraid of, comparatively, just breaking your neck. I made it through that parasail by looking up instead of down, and singing. I mean, if there is God, maybe He/She likes audacity.