Agnès Varda’s movies were dreams spun by a woman, a punk rock pixie whose gaze–wide and eternally bemused–was amazing to behold but even more amazing to share.
A powerful female director when the world had few, she spun her dervish dreams while the rest of us stumbled stridently in linear time. While watching her films, I always calmed down and also came alive. Not one did I watch on a small screen. That would have been a profaning of her magic–that wondering wonderful movie magic that she birthed while like lovers and children we sat at her feet.
Once at a luncheon I was seated next her—the host thought we’d like each other–and I was struck uncharacteristically dumb. Her lavender-auburn coupe à la Jeanne d’Arc, her oyster smile, her puckish striped costume, they were all like her movies and it was just too good. Both object and subject, she was art and artist–what woman are trained to be, what women fight to be–and as we ate our lunch she asked good questions while her eyes told much more. I wish I’d asked more, said more, taken the hands off the clock. But then again, there are some people from whom we can never get enough. Fairy godmother, thank you for sharing your gaze. You showed us life.
I have read five books by Ruth Reichl, wonderful stories of travel and food and champagne and love. I have read all three of L.M. Montgomery’s Emily of New Moon books, which, as Natasha Lyonne avers, are better if grimmer than the Anne of Green Gable series: more honest, higher stakes. Also I have reread Eve Babitz’s Sex and Rage and Black Swans. And of course all of MFK Fisher.
Especially How to Cook a Wolf.
It does not escape me that all these books are by and about women writers who found love and literary success.
For the moment, both evade me. I say “for the moment” because I am relentlessly hopeful in my own way. Though my romances have conferred as much pain as pleasure, I still look forward to the next one.
And though I have yet to sell my book–yet to finish it, even–I see its cover before I go to sleep at night. Sometimes on someone else’s night table.
In the meantime I keep my scale very, very small. Frankly, I’m too broke to go out. I have no money to spend and though an affordable New York still lurks beneath the city’s Instagram ops and best-of lists, I find myself weary and wary when faced with the prospect of restaurants and bars. Friends invariably pick up the checks and it hurts to burden them. This is not how I like to live. This is not how I like to treat my people.
In my home I can take care of business. I rise early and write as long as my brain will let me, then go for a long walk, the neighborhood quiet in the mid-afternoon. I shop the grocery sales and cook slowly as the sun ripens in the horizon. I cook because it is cheaper than eating or ordering out but also because the rhythm of stirring, chopping, stirring–knife thumping, oil sizzling, sauce thickening– feels elegant and serene. The way I felt before the Legend smiled at me and I smiled back. Continue Reading →