It’s 7:30 am Sunday morning, and I’ve been up for hours.
That I rose before dawn is not uncharacteristic. But I’d planned to sleep in this morning. To bask in a morning of quiet stillness, quiet comfort after returning from a wonderful week alone in the woods of Columbia County and jumping head-long into the clamor of New York.
I spent so much of this busy weekend activated by the presence of others—in sessions with clients, then walking and dining and bedding my beau—that today I was pulled out of sleep hours before dawn, the need to process my interactions more powerful than my need for rest.
Mae Sarton has a wonderful passage in Journal of a Solitude about shutting the door to the world.
Begin here. It is raining. I look out on the maple, where a few leaves have turned yellow, and listen to Punch, the parrot, talking to himself and to the rain ticking gently against the windows. I am here alone for the first time in weeks, to take up my “real” life again at last. That is what is strange—that friends, even passionate love, are not my real life unless there is time alone in which to explore and to discover what is happening or has happened. Without the interruptions, nourishing and maddening, this life would become arid. Yet I taste it fully only when I am alone…
I find that last line less ironic than simply factual. Because I do not just absorb other people’s realities. They absorb me. For me to spend time in the presence of anyone is to climb inside them, so that I am regarding the world through their senses, processing information through their nerve-endings and brain synapses. Continue Reading →
Once upon a time, the brilliant essayist Eve Babitz was also a painter. In the 1960s she was not only known for her magical groupie powers but for some of the key album covers of that decade–most notably a collage for 1967’s Buffalo Springfield Again. And although she had limited patience for movie stars (she did deign to fuck a young Harrison Ford, but then he was mostly a weed dealer and shoddy carpenter), she hobnobbed with some of America’s most-touted artists–among them Annie Leibovitz, Ed Ruscha, Andy Warhol, and Marcel Duchamp. (Only one of the aforementioned never saw her naked in person.)
But one day Evie put away her brushes for good. And the reason, at least according to every teller of the tale (including Eve, who is honest if not exactly truthful), can be traced to one seemingly offhand remark by Earl McGrath. A sort of Oliver Wilde-cum-Leonardo Da Vinci-cum Frank Abagnale Jr cad-about-town who quite possibly was her only true match and definitely her only worthy frenenemy*, McGrath gazed upon one of her paintings.
And after an exceptionally pregnant pause, said only: “Is that the blue you’re using?” Continue Reading →