Archive | Sabboytical

The Way Forward Is With a Broken Heart

foxLast night I heard one of my favorite writers speak—he may be my favorite living writer—and I was so brokenhearted I could barely take it in. Afterward, I bought a new copy of his best book (I’d read the last copy to shreds), and made an ass of myself as he signed it. I forgive myself because I’d known this would happen. I’m balls out when it comes to meeting movie actors and rock stars, but on the rare occasions I’ve met the writers I cherish, I’ve presented as angsty, unbalanced, wild-eyed. I think it is because I was raised more by my favorite authors than by my parents. I learned to read at age 3, inhaled adult books by kindergarten, and relied on essays, novels, and memoirs for the models of decency and decorum, the communion and care-taking, that I received nowhere else. It’s no wonder I’ve always been a disaster when I’ve met my favorite authors. The degree to which I’ve cathected to them has made our dynamics hideously uneven.

The person I met last night was Edmund White, whose work I’ve loved since reading “The Beautiful Room Is Empty” in the university library while my peers fell upon each in beery, Gap-clad messes. (I hated college.) As he signed “The Farewell Symphony” for me, I welled up and recited the Joshua passage I’ve quoted here. I saw his eyes widen in sympathy and alarm but couldn’t reel myself in; any emotional pregnancy unmoors me completely right now. I know I am not alone in feeling this way, far from it. But I am ashamed to say I am not just mourning the demise of the United States of America. I also am mourning the death of hopes I’ve nursed for months and months. Continue Reading →

For Katerina, with Love and Squalor

foresmewithloveandsqualorI just drank my coffee at the downstairs cafe where two British children-an 8-year-old girl and her barely verbal little brother–grilled me gravely on such lifestyle topics as pets and profession. Mostly, they approved of my answers though they felt I should have a cat AND a dog (emphasis theirs). On this point I agreed, and suggested they bring up the matter with my anti-canine landlord. The girl asked if I lived next door ALONE and if I was SAD, and I answered yes and not usually. She nodded dubiously. It was all I could do to keep from buying her a second cookie (her nanny had put the kibosh on this notion) while intoning: “For Esmé, With Love and Squalor.” Her name was Katerina, anyway.

Love and Animals

ruby redI’m trying to climb back on the grid, I really am. I’ve had my computer back for a few days and have completed all my paid assignments. But a lot has happened this month and it all boils down to my realizing how much more I want, and how much Rilke applies if I’m to achieve it.

You must change your life, said Rilke.

In the first and second and third place, I’ve grown powerfully tired of social media. I know this isn’t fair but after a time away it just seems like the worst of 20th century snail mail: chain letters, clippings from college roommates who assume they’re ranting to the choir, notes from bored aunts about everything they ate and aren’t-they-just-the-cutest kittens and babies.

I want more. I want please and thank-yous. I want diagrammable sentences rather than rebuses; polite declines rather than rebuffs. I want declarations and advance invitations and follow-up questions and direct answers. I’d wanted the Summer of Jane but at this point would settle for Dick and Jane. Or just See Spot Run. Continue Reading →

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