Archive | Past Matters

Dog Days of Summer

IMG_6463I have so many things I could write about my time up here in the woods–the mysteries that have worked themselves out with a cheerful efficiency, the quiet tribe I have formed with Grace and the two dogs living here. I have been walking a lot, matching the rhythms of Daisy, the white terrier mix who is outgoing and hypervigilant in a way that feels ruefully familiar. As I walk, ideas about my work arrive as well as the heavy feelings I usually keep at bay: fear of the future, grief, some sour anger. Daisy’s pacing is good for me—the emotions show up and depart with a briskness that reminds me of other people’s mothers changing sheets, fluffing pillows, smoothing duvets. More cheerful efficiency.

Memories show up too—mostly painful ones—as if here in this out-of-time-space where the silence is punctuated by crickets and wind and many birds’ opinions, here I can piece together my past without the usual danger of being destroyed by it. I wake from a voluptuous nap in a hammock, an open book still dangling from my hand, and it is as if I just now told my lover that he would not be coming to Maine rather than five years ago this month. Continue Reading →

Working Tween (#FirstSevenJobs)

UNION!I’d planned to ignore the ‪#‎firstsevenjobs‬ hashtag floating around. Then I realized I couldn’t even remember my first seven jobs because, a true Capricorn, I’d been working since before I hit double digits and had done everything from posing nude to working as a TV actor before I turned 20. Sorting out the list proved more entertaining than doing a crossword, so forgive the length and (nonhumble) brag. One thing’s for sure: I missed my calling. Given my early proclivities, you’d think I’d be a coke-addled billionaire by now.

1. Leaflet distributor. At age 9, sick of begging my parents for an allowance when it came straight out of my mother’s limited food budget, I decided to take matters into my own hands. I marched into all the local businesses in West Newton Square and asked if they wanted someone to distribute leaflets on their behalf. Two businesses bit, and, soon enough, I was slipping leaflets advertising a thrift shop and deli under all the car windshields and welcome mats in the area. Yes, I was that arsehole.

2. Babysitting entrepreneur. At age 11, I decided the leaflets weren’t cutting it—they only yielded five cents a page—so I started a mini-babysitting business in which I mined my leafletting skills to build my “company” from the ground up. In retrospect, it is appalling that so many Newton, Massachusetts parents entrusted their precious charges to a gum-snapping 11-year-old who did not like kids. When I could not handle all the work that came my way, I began to hand the jobs entailing too many boys (all those huge Boston Irish Catholic families!) over to Michael Anderson, who promptly poached most of my gigs permanently. Oh, Michael. Twenty years later, I was the best man in his Oregon wedding. Continue Reading →

Righteous ‘Indignation’

Screen Shot 2016-07-29 at 2.50.16 PMFrom “The Human Stain” to “The Humbling,” Philip Roth adaptations are a tough sell. Brooding, yet devoid of the author’s rich insights, these films often die on the vine. “Indignation” is a rare exception, partly because the eponymous 2008 novel is an unusually lean, plot-driven effort for Roth. (It’s no coincidence that “Goodbye, Columbus,” his most successful adaptation, is also uncharacteristically plot-driven.) Partly too, this is the first feature by writer/director James Schamus, who wrote the screenplays for “The Ice Storm” and “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon,” and, as the CEO of Focus Pictures, was responsible for such elegant indies as “Far From Heaven” and “A Serious Man.” In watching this meticulously crafted film, I get the sense Schamus would have waited forever for the perfect project for his debut. This is not to say this film is perfect – it is too dour to qualify as perfection – but every frame speaks of an unflagging, ultimately winning dedication. Continue Reading →

"All, everything I understand, I understand only because I love."
― Leo Tolstoy