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A Wolf in Red Lipstick

How I feel

I’m nearing the finish line of the first draft of my book and it’s filling me with a terrible anxiety. I’ve gone totally broke while writing this. I’m unearthed stories about my past that irrevocably have changed my present and maybe my future. Some alliances haven’t survived; others have formed or reformed. And there are so many questions I’ve put off until now: Will anyone give a fuck about this story? being the first and foremost.

For the last month I’ve been drowning in sadness about a breakup but just now am gripped with a shimmering, ever-widening existential fear that I suspect has lurked beneath everything else all year. I’m honestly not sure if my book is any good, and that’s not a fish for a compliment so much as a bleat from the abyss. I have no idea how I’ll sell it. And I know I’ll feel terrible if it doesn’t find a home in other people who may need it, because I’ve never done anything just for my health–let alone write.

Yet my bravado is such that I never admit to how much I want something or someone lest I be forced to perceive myself as a failure. And my addiction to a victimhood for which I constantly overcompensate is such that I cannot imagine a life based on success rather than survival. My whole shtick is Against the Odds, prevailing over nothing and everything, shoulders squared as I stride down a subway platform in fake fur and real

How I wish to feel


There are wonderful people who have nurtured my work and my heart, and I don’t acknowledge that support so much as I cling to my self-image as a lone wolf in red lipstick, hurtling through space and time without a care in the world. Yet this is not a good look in middle age.

If I am to move forward–if my work is to deepen and set root in the world–I have to let go of all that shit and admit how much I need, how much I want, how ugly all this feels.

So this morning, as I blow snot into an old tissue and bleakly eye the grey sky adrift with grey snow, know this: I appreciate anyone who is taking the time to read this. And I wish desperately to live up to your love.

Thanksgiving ‘Playtime’

Years ago, I saw Jacques Tati’s Playtime in 70mm on the enormous screen of Champagne, Illinois’ Virginia Theater. I’d just dashed in from a spring thunderstorm that had liberated me from a fussy outdoor cocktail party, and the film’s awkward, swooping grace–alternately eager and morose, denatured and abloom–was just what the doctor ordered. I thought I’d never find a more ideal context in which to see the 1967 masterpiece, but on this very cold Thanksgiving, I ducked into a morning screening at the Lower East Side’s Metrograph. Shoulder to shoulder with other refugees from the most family-oriented, ideologically ill-conceived holiday of the year, I didn’t just feel community. I felt communion.

Tati mounted an entire mid-20th century cosmopolis outside of Paris for his poker-faced pratfall in gloriously technicolor drab, and its mostly noverbal story is conveyed so lucidly that the few spoken lines and handful of languages in which they are uttered are virtually irrelevant. Following a host of mid-‘60s characters through one day in this sound-stage Paris, the film’s protagonist is the human race itself as seen through a National Geographic sort of lens. As stylized as a Buster Keaton jig with Ayn Rand sharp corners and floppy flowered hats, every moment recalls the very droll mis-en-scenes buried in more narrative-driven films of the same era. Imagine a whole film cut from the same swoon as that infamous Breakfast at Tiffany’s party scene–the heiresses, vamps, barking agents, woman laughing, woman crying, treacherously long cigarette holder, prowling Cat, and Irving baby, o Irving baby. (Imagine a life cut of that cloth as well.) Continue Reading →

Nursing Monday (Mercury Retrograde Gloom)

The light was soft and sweet today, the weather a little warmer than it’s been the last few weeks. Still, it was Monday and I’ve not been able to do much of anything on Mondays since daylight savings began. I went downstairs and drank coffee with the Italians and then climbed back upstairs to listen to the school kids arrive across the street. For a long time Grace and I sat together on the window seat.

Oh, for sure Mercury has been having its way with me. All the lights in the house are broken. My outgoing voicemail greeting isn’t working. My car tire is flat.

But today I accepted all this almost too willingly. The isolation, the immobilization, the gloom felt—well, it felt cozy. Continue Reading →

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