Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Ruthless and Unkind and A Wonderful Gift (The Zombie Fuck)

Let us join together and discuss openly what my friends and I have dubbed the Zombie Fuck. Understand that you may need to get past the words, Zombie Fuck. You may need to understand that a Zombie Fuck is more than just words, it’s a philosophy.

For those of you still left hideously in the dark, a Zombie Fuck is having sex with a man without him knowing about it, at all.

I’m not talking about The Fermata here (a brilliant novel). We don’t want to stop time and take a stranger’s clothes off, we want time to continue just as it is. We certainly don’t want to crouch in a hamper watching someone suck a black rubber dildo, no offense to Nicholson Baker or his (simply brilliant) character Arno Strine. I’m talking about zombie fucking. The man would, however, be in a sort of netherworld state. A place, as Dorothy of Kansas said, where there’s no trouble. He would have no remembrance of the event and the woman would also, if she so chooses, have no remembrance of the event. She should be able to walk away glowing, aerobicised, refreshed and yet at the same time psychically immaculate.

Is this ruthless and unkind? Yes. Does it flay all remaining shreds of conventional femininity we as a sex clutch to our Pilates-sculpted busom as we race toward a new day? Of course it does. Yet when we consider how men have historically behaved after having actually coupled with women, it’s tempting to believe that generally speaking and with few exceptions, the Zombie Fuck would perhaps be a better way to go.

Men of course would also like to utilize the Zombie Fuck, but theirs might be different; their egos might still want us to respond, or at least remember them. Women wouldn’t need to have the man remember or even necessarily respond. This will surprise those who believe that women desire sex for intimacy and cuddling and not for the sex itself. Maybe when a girl is seven; of course that raises another debate entirely. But that girl grows up, she experiences I’ll Call You a few times. Maybe she eventually gets married. Maybe she’s married now with a baby and a vice presidency and a parking space with her name on it. She wants a Zombie Fuck. She doesn’t want the memory of you, she doesn’t want have to deal with you later, she definitely does not want to marry you and have to pick up your socks. She just wants to be able to do it and walk away, like a really great manicure pedicure.

And yet, why the Zombie Fuck, when so many regular fucks are presumably available? The reasons are manifold, each more satisfying than the last.

Consider the Zombie Fuck, as a woman, whether you’re married or unmarried, a) you don’t get the Buyers Remorse thing, and, b) you don’t have to deal with the man’s reaction to having had you; i.e. him acting strange and beginning to lie about simply everything, including his name and the time. (Note to Gay Men: The Zombie Fuck is still a valuable commodity, for obvious reasons, the main one being you don’t have to deal with bullshit. Also, there are no condoms in Zombie Fuckland.)

It would seem a shame to stop here, so I will continue to share what my friends and I are thinking about in our spare moments. I will officially open the Pool of Truth. It’s adult swim time and I’m diving in here at the shallow end.

The fuck that got away; we call that the Lost Fuck. The man who didn’t quite have the courage, or conversely the man who had his eye on a blonde across the room who any fool could see would never do him in a million years. Those too religious, too nice to copulate. The wrenchingly beautiful college boys who are going to grow up to be Lutheran ministers and have two little girls and a wife resembling the woman in American Gothic.

The Lost Fuck can be also be the Premature Fuck.

The Premature Fuck is someone who was perhaps a bit too babyfaced or intoxicated or both, and so it didn’t turn out to be a positive sexual experience. Somebody who was a little nauseous or naïve, but you know had you waited they would have been seasoned, and it would have definitely been fantastic. But by the time they’re seasoned, you’re both irrevocably entwined with different people. It’s the wine you drank too early.

The Fuck With History is the man you had before and you liked it and you still would probably like it. Say he was a conceited putz but he was a decent fuck and you would like to zombie fuck him now. To return as the person you are now, and not give him unnecessary strokes, just enjoy yourself and leave him without a clue that you ever came back to slap down for a Fuck With History. So – to clarify -- a Fuck With History can still be a Zombie Fuck, and should be. Because a Fuck With History in real life is something that inevitably leads to a sad place called nostalgia and remembering with terrifying lucidity why it didn’t work out in the first place. It’s a Here Now History Fuck.

The Here Now History Fuck is the man that you had before whom you bring current and reunite with for a night but it’s not a regular fuck because its also a Fuck With History. Unfortunately, and this is why we don’t recommend it, with a Here Now History Fuck the odds are excellent that this man is going to commence lobbing the same odious spitballs as he did in the first place, or you are, and once is frankly enough for most of us. Also, the Here Now History Fuck often leads to the Dangerous High Risk Fuck. There’s a ton of paper work here, so bear with.

Dangerous High Risk Fucks are the rare men from the past (or major celebrities) whom you would cheerfully annihilate your life for. The ones were it to happen you would need to forfeit your marriage, your parents, your house, your precious stones -- your world as you know it would simply splatter against the side of the house next door. It’s Orlando Bloom showing up naked at your door saying, ‘I’m on my way to a shoot, but since I was in the neighborhood I thought I’d stop by and see if you wanted to have sex with me for around four hours.’ And you say Come in. Can I get you anything? Even though your husband is due home five minutes ago. Is in the next room.

Here I cannot help but once again point out the virtues of the Zombie Fuck. The cleanliness of it.

Finally I would suggest that the Zombie Fuck makes a wonderful gift. For a friend who is going through an ugly divorce, or someone who’s feeling a little depressed. You could pick out a Zombie Fuck for your best friend (Justin Timberlake), your son’s kindergarten teacher (Kevin Costner), even your own mother (Sean Connery). Something she would perhaps not buy for herself, but would enjoy nonetheless. It’s that rare delight, the gift that no one ever returns or jams into the back of their closet or rewraps and gives as a gift to someone else. Can you think of a better one? I’m sorry, I just can’t.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Take Courage

C S Lewis, childhood photo, date unknown

Courage is not simply one of the virtues but the form of every virtue at the testing point, which means at the point of highest reality.
-- C.S. Lewis


Saturday, December 13, 2008

"Split: A Memoir of Divorce" , a Library Journal Best Book of 2008


Library Journal's Best Books of 2008

Split: A Memoir of Divorce. Finnamore, Suzanne. Penguin Group (USA)

Best-selling novelist Finnamore (The Zygote Chronicles) never saw her divorce coming; to make sense of it, she dissects her once-broken heart with an astonishing calm and precision, breathing new life into a tramped genre. Fellow divorcées and connoisseurs of the English language will savor each exquisitely cut piece.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Lucas Cranach And Happy Birthday, Mister Fox

who are you in this picture? it was mysteriously sent to be by a man turning 60 who said he was the fellow in the wheelbarrow far left. oh who am i kidding? that was no stranger, that was the brilliant nick fox, husband to fay weldon. i replied as well i could:

You must not pity me because my sixtieth year finds me still astonished. To be astonished is one of the surest ways of not growing old too quickly.


Monday, December 1, 2008

Telephones: An Instrument of Satan

I'm not sure when I realized I'd become a zealot for a cell-phone-only existence. Yet not long ago, bit by bit, I reasoned that functioning land lines, cordless phones or answering machines were wholly unnecessary; perhaps such obsequious devices were to be considered actual instruments of self-harm. All these multiple and clingy communication implements were just another way - like email- that crazy people could touch me.

I felt strongly that one reliably sketchy cell phone for a family of two was a perfect, sleek system. It worked well enough (from my viewpoint) until recently, when key persons in my life rose up into a small mob, insisting I arrange for a minimum of one phone to be functional in my life at all times.

Just one phone, they said, faces purple with religion.

I thought and I thought, and then I remembered the 1990 Sanyo Princess.

“Just in case”, I'd long ago retained one "real" landline phone, cached in my garage for Emergencies. It's a quaint, bone-white princess phone with all the modern conveniences of Touch Tone, but it isn't cordless. It's bloody crammed with cords. A vintage electronic, it has a very long cable that plugs right into the wall (!), whereupon something called a Dial Tone always happens; phone calls always go straight through, without going dead, dropping, crackling like an electrical storm, playing hard to get, or coyly dying just at the moment of urgent verbal consummation.

The Princess has a very ornate, curly white cord, which connects the phone itself to the base of the phone. It functions 100% of the time and it is always in plain sight, in the exact same place. Can you imagine? Its very availability and staunch reliance, of course, is what drove it into the garage in the first place. The Princess was too direct, too dangerous and too incriminating to those I was trying to avoid, which was often everyone.

Sadly for the Princess – and for those like me who enjoy frequent, unexpected or expected, passive aggressive and often permanent disconnections - it's not a cell phone, so it has no distorted audio, or go-dead tricks that cell phones delight in doing, at the 'worst possible moment'.

Princess is not a cordless phone, the inexplicable lemon-phone on a worldwide basis.It’s surely no mystery now that cordless phones were designed with profit margins, treachery and ineptitude as Job One. I have two cordless phones, unreliable and moody and useless by design. They need constant electrical charging to function at all - a fact exacerbated by the way they rarely rest in their cradle correctly. They proffer a wheezy, faint and buzzing connection, despite how much one frantically dashes around the house and yard and roof, changing channels. Possessing no cord, they're irresponsible gypsies, malevolent by nature, and are easily misplaced -- being the ideal shape and size to slide between couch cushions, disappear in any garage, drawer, hamper, room or patio, and wedge themselves uncannily into random crevices.

With the Princess I may take phone calls without the prescience of Caller ID, as well. In 2008, the all but extinct element of Surprise now has a home within my Princess phone. When the Princess phone rings, I can look straight at it and have no idea who is on the other line. It’s shocking. And, oddly enough, when the Princess rings forth like a regular old-fashioned telephone, it is also completely terrifying.

I don’t like to be shocked. More and more, I see surprises as a form of violence. But the Princess will surprise me in a shrill, insistent manner – she has her plastic white heart set on it. Childlike, I am once again at the mercy of the telephone, unless I turn the ringer off and leave the answering machine detached, which I have just had the foresight to do. The Princess rang once, last night at 8 32 PM; I didn’t know who it was, and the ring sounded like a scream. That was enough.

Telephone conversations, it is safe to conclude, are vastly overrated. More than one telephone conversation has made me feel as if I needed a .12 guage rifle, or a foolproof suicide plan. The telephone is an instrument of Satan; there are plenty of telephones in Hell, on that we can rely. And they are all land lines.

The Genius Bar

Fate is cruel. I think we can all agree on this one thing, before I move on. Mostly cruel, especially when one considers withering illness, global politics, death and taxes -- all of which are as unavoidable as Fate, and are therefore part of Fate.

I, a writer and a single mother (one son, Pablo, ten), am at this moment sitting atop a barstool at the Genius Bar at my local Mac Store. (The Genius Bar. I wonder how much money someone made to think of that, instead of Customer Service. I'm thinking about a million dollars and a team of six creatives, two of whom were actively disengaged.) My laptop, an iBook G4, is cursed; it is a gypsy curse. It involves a great deal of mystery and importunate timing; that's how I know gypsies were involved. Gypsies or witches.

Within the past ten weeks, my laptop has had everything replaced; it was physically gone for a week in Memphis, Tennessee. And now it refuses to function, despite the fact that literally every part was replaced except the top cover and the plug.

A beige man with short dreads and a seasoned look is manning the Genius Bar. He checks his list of Genius Bar appointments and says,

"Is there a Bud?"

Buds do own computers. This in itself may well be information well worth the trip and time spent, which I am beginning to think may be in vain as far as my computer being fixed before I must pick up my son at school. Every minute the aura of the Genius Bar becomes more jagged; at exactly 2:55 PM, a gaggle of teenagers clutching iphones and ipods rush to the fore.

More people cluster worriedly around the Genius Bar, pressing me forward onto the counter. It's like that scene in It's a Wonderful Life when the Bailey Building and Loan bank is on a run and the whole town becomes an anxious sweaty mob grabbing for what's been promised them. And Jimmy Stewart is running around telling everyone to calm down. Just calm down.

Jimmy Stewart is not at the Genius Bar. He's dead (see: Fate).

Now the man next to me is drumming his fingers. Great, a finger drummer. Next I'll get a whistler. My mother used to attract dwarves with shopping carts. I swear to GOD.

Here comes Bud to the Genius Bar, and people look on him with envy and a kind of hatred. Bud told me earlier that he had an appointment; he came here and immediately signed on a computer for a 2:55 appointment. People named Bud are known to be practical. He doesn't even have his computer with him, that's how efficient Bud is. He has a list of questions.

When Bud told me this, much earlier, I sashayed to the row of computers and I made an appointment for 4:55 with the secret Apple Store clipboard man. I am gleeful. It may even be before then, he said.

Now it’s a good feeling, just sitting at the Genius Bar. They have wisely installed wide barstools. People are used to sitting at bars; bars are safe, bars are good. If you squint, it's a pub. Lots of time can go by inside bars without anything happening. Yes, bars and barstools are an excellent choice.

"Why do they make those little CDs if no one can USE them?" The customer, a man in black turtleneck, is angry. He has a problem they cannot solve. His whole system is out of date, like a dodo bird. He walks the walk of the dejected as he leaves.

So now we all know: it's not really the Genius Bar. It’s the Just Okay bar.

If this were a real Genius Bar, I would have arrived equipped with a list of questions, as did Bud. Let's say there's a limit of ten. Ten questions.

1. Why was I born?

2. What happens when you die? Is there a Hell or is there nothing. Within reason, I would prefer a Hell. Hell I could understand; I’ve waitressed for lunatics, written ads for panty shields, and experienced hours of labor contractions one right the fuck after the other. Nothingness, however, terrifies me. I want to still exist, even if it means Hell. (In real life, I tell my son that I believe in Heaven, but if I am wicked honest, I don't. I feel it has a high probability of being a publicity stunt.)

3. Why did my marriage really end?

4. Can time be moved backward? I'd like that option.

5. Do the people I hate know it? I want them to.

6. Do the people I irrationally love know it? How can I make some of them un-know it?

7. What's the square root of one million?

8. How many holes are there in an average colander?

9. Why did the dinosaurs become extinct?

10. Will I ever have another huge, death-defying love affair, or am I sentenced to an eventual Mojave celibacy, along with its accompanying sense of being a rock-person, and not a really thorough woman.

Meanwhile, back at the Genius Bar, they actually do fix my problem (or what you see now is only my Immediate Problem.) My Genius Bar man wears a plain black long sleeve shirt that may be Helmut Lang, and two very sleek, scientific looking necklaces around his neck; possibly the keys to the entire Mac universe. The key to my deliverance from evil.

Another customer, this one with a short cruel hairdo and big ass diamonds in her ears appears to my right. She bears a look of a nurse at an emergency ward, a mask of concerned fatigue. I sense she has not a computer glitch, but is afflicted with matters of life and death. No little SHIFT keys slightly loose, no slow connections, no -- everything in her vista is crashing into a meteor of destruction and heartache.

God. I’m done, and I am so glad to be free. And I alone was spared -- that's the feeling.

As I slip from my barstool I hear a full-grown man talking in a high, quavery voice.

"It's the blinking question mark." He's practically weeping.

The Genius Bar is open.

Monday, November 24, 2008

'I Been Shattered' for the Daily Telegraph, London


On the morning of April 1, I woke up naked, a full ashtray in my line of vision. Twenty or thirty twisted butts in a large black cigar ashtray with the word HAVANA on its side in yellow; the word seemed to scream into the stale air. An empty bottle of mandarin flavored vodka stood very tall and close to the ashtray. Strains of an Elton John dirge skittered through my head.

“All the papers had to say was that Marilyn was found in the nude…”

Then it hit me: my husband had jammed the night before. The refreshed information slammed back to me. It was definitive; he’d said to expect a divorce petition in the next week, minutes later he’d swooped out of the house like Dracula. I looked around my bedroom, it was different. There was a person missing.

I saw more. Prescription pill bottles clustered round an empty glass. Effexor XR. Xanax. TylenolPM. And for some inexplicable reason,a bottle of Viagra. I'd puzzle this out later. For the moment, it was all just visual information: Still Life Of An Abandoned Wife, With Depression.

Our baby son was asleep in the next room, he had just turned one. One. Surely age one was too early for a child to learn about loss. A child of one needed a father in the house; it should be law. I was furious with the law. Fathers shouldn’t be allowed to just walk away, as from a cocktail party.

I was in a new life, this was the first day. I fucking hated my new life. I had half the income, all the tending of the baby, all the humiliation, and none of the love from my husband. He’d pulled out of our life. My new life would, however, include him as a horror figure and a betraying devil. That’s how I saw it. I saw no end in sight, no credible resolution. I was blind to the future and the present was a blur.

I don’t remember feeding my son his first bottle of the day, but I did. I bathed him, I read to him, I kissed him. I told him how much his daddy loved him. It felt like a lie, but a very important lie, one I needed to push really hard to keep everyone from imploding into pathos.

I fed myself once a day, tasting nothing. I lost 25 pounds. I spent my nights weeping and drinking and chain smoking on the back deck of my little rachety house. I was a terrible smoker, burning holes in every article of clothing and piece of furniture….a very inept, boozy arsonist-in-training. A small throw rug went up, as did three down comforters and part of my laptop keyboard.

For months, I functioned like a machine. My innards and brain were distinctly ajar, tumbled, dysfunctional. Shattered, like a snappy Mick Jagger lyric. I endlessly babbled to friends and strangers about the divorce. I had a list of 10 people to call; they were my lifelines, as in a game show. I was the walking wounded and a walking cliché. I’d gone from an attractive, successful writer and adwoman to a useless, frowsy windbag in one fell swoop.

“Why?” I asked my friends, over and over.

“Because he’s crazy.’

“Because he’s a rotter”

These answers did not satisfy me. I wanted real, hard answers. Such as: You are too wide. The house is too small. He has been lured away by mermaids.


Time passed. Anger came and saved me from depression. I exchanged verbal gunfire with my ex. After a while, it had all been said. I looked up. My son was two, was deeply involved in riding his toy tractor/trailer through the house, loaded with fruit and toy dinosaurs. I refinanced the house, I got a job, went to lunch. I had a party. People came and rearranged the furniture, music blasted. I fell down laughing, and I wasn’t drunk.

In time, I took a lover. I took several.

Dracula and I became friends. I remembered why I’d married him in the first place. Our son was happy. It had come, the miracle…not overnight, like the millennium or the lottery. But it had come.

This was it, my new life. I loved it. It was interesting and fun and hard. I felt gratitude for having loved that hard, for not missing my window of fertility. I felt lucky, a quality I remember feeling as I walked down the aisle, as I held my newborn in my arms. I was shattered but pieced back together, made stronger in the broken places. I was a walking cliché.

Thank God.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

'Electric Sky' by Ken Muth oil on wood

What this gifted gem of an acclaimed artist is doing selling original oil paintings to me, at a discount, I have no idea. this one is 12" by 12". oh my GOD. Well, it just proves he's a artist with a heart, and possibly a saint, living in Florida. Check out his staggering paintings, photographs and storyboards at

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Man-Collecting: A Worthwhile Venture

an unadulterated version of the essay running in More Magazine 08

I’d like to take a minute to discuss - in a sensible yet informed manner - love and lust and friendship and Internet dating. Someone has to.
The fact is we all need love or companionship or a reasonable facsimile. And everyone in America is looking online. It’s no longer something to be ashamed of, although I personally wouldn’t advertise the fact that you’re advertising. (Except to your closest friends, many of who will also be trawling for coffee dates, cocktails, foreign films and - oh yea - their soul mate.)

These days you and your friends can exchange digital photos of 18 to 121-year-old, Athletic and Toned / About Average / Slender/A Few Extra Pounds/Big and Beautiful men of all persuasions. You can choose among Single, Never Married, Currently Separated or Divorced guys who are assiduously sailing, mountain biking, surfing, skiing and staring soulfully into the camera. There are hundreds and hundreds, in your 25-mile radius alone. Worldwide, there are millions. It’s fun and harmless, as long as no one gets hurt.

Of course, people do get hurt, they get their hearts hammered all to shit every day of the year, 24/7. People have their egos stroked, ignored, bounced, caressed, and passed through a thresher. Others go on to marry. Each other.

I, for one, feel I'll not get (seriously) hurt (again), although as you all know I've been dramatically wrong before. I’ve been through a craven divorce, in fact I wrote the book on it...literally. So, that road’s closed. I now know about taking my time, boundaries, realism and how to protect my heart. I now suspect I’m precious and rare and worth loving in a sort of Certified Pre-Owned Vehicle way - of course I do. I live in California, for God’s sake. I can spot a pagan, womanizing, emotionally withholding squirrel in a hot second. (I've already lived with, met, or married most of them; I'm almost completely joking.)

Yet it pleased me when I registered on and right away, within minutes, all these unique, one-of-a-kind, very collectible men started showing up. Boom boom boom boom BOOM. Eric, Stephen, John, Tony, Kevin. A plethora of Toms, Tommys and Thomases. There were lawyers, contractors, artists, and computer guys. There were policemen and professors and firemen and accountants--oh, my. This was Happy Hour at the buffet of groomed humanity. Suddenly everything from getting a parking ticket written off to having that hideous mauve carpeting ripped up and replaced with hardwood was within reach of my fingertips, so long as I wore a dress, skipped desert, hiked around and did my hair every six banal, how glorious. It turns out that men of a certain age who aren’t husbands actually get tired of lying fallow. They want to be needed and adored and, well, used.

In my kid in the candy store phase, I went out with several eligible bachelors (are there two more beautiful words?) and often ran to the phone like a teenager. Everyone I met was somewhat tall and fantastic and interesting enough to date and maybe even make out with. (“Everyone loves everyone for three dates,” my ex husband commented dryly from the sidelines. He always did have a way of nailing a situation.) It was justifiable and even great, that crazed beginning: I hadn’t dated for five years as I raised our son. I was making up for lost time, time I gladly lost, but time nonetheless. I had to reboot my system, and so I did. Booted the system straight up.

In the beginning, I decided not to get too attached to anyone too quickly, nor to send any good men away. Naturally, I did both at once, immediately and with extreme prejudice. I knew what I should do, but I did what I felt like doing. (Something even great men have practiced for centuries.) It was a riotous coda. Yet in time, I settled into a groove. There were two or three men I liked a lot and who liked me. Marriage was out of the question for these particular guys and me, at this stage in our lives (ever) but that was no reason to discard them.

Ninety-nine percent of these men did not meet my son. A great deal can be done in private and without anyone knowing. I don’t have to tell everyone everything, and I don’t have to marry everyone I like the smell of and who makes me laugh really hard. But there’s no reason not to keep them around. You like them, they like you. Nobody asks a lot of questions unless they want to know the truth, and you’d be surprised how few people – myself included – really want to know the truth about anyone (unless it blossoms into a genuine long term relationship. In which case all of this is fact? None of it ever happened.) I just want to be treated well, respected, kissed and hugged a lot, and taken care of in the ways that are meaningful to me. I don’t expect men to save me or be perfect.

Naturally, I don’t have to have sex with any of these guys. Match does not require this; a woman can simply date and never, ever take a lover. I don’t know why she would, but it is possible and people do. Plus, as a supposedly mature adult, one is not handing out experimental sex vouchers, charity sex or guilt sex. We’ve gotten that out of our collective system; we’re done with all altruism. We're having sex as we see fit, and probably just with one partner. Probably. Mostly. Unless of course, there is overlap, which at times – as men have known forever – can occur. It never lasts long. Like a foot cramp, it swiftly passes. Like a rainbow.

Man collecting sounds mercenary and hedonistic, but it’s not. It’s sensible and practical, like not throwing away vintage clothing or rare prints or giving away one dog because you got another one. There is rarely any real reason to let anyone go. You’re not lying; they all know there are others. Think of Aurora Greenway in Terms of Endearment, only a little more entitled and less frou frou; Aurora would have gathered them all at the dinner table for four sumptuous courses of soup, duck l’orange, salade with cheese, and afterward there would be cake and coffee and brandy. Aurora understood the need to have several men on call, some of them exes and some of them presents and some of them futures. And now I too have the luxury of time, something I did not have while my biological time clock boomed in my head like a massive swinging bell with a hunchback attached.

Basically, I feel - and I still believe - that if you do it right, one month of Internet dating – 30 days - should yield a lifetime supply of men. But – and this is completely essential – when I say one month, I mean 30 days of having your Profile “up” -- exposing yourself to men’s eyes -- only for 3-day long, 72 hour periods, which are then staggered once a month, for ten months. Listen. Men don’t like anything they can get any old time. You have to parse yourself out to them and then snatch yourself the fuck away. Do it properly, maintain a fighting weight, get your spa appointments, and yes –for certain – this should yield a lifetime supply of men. (Unless you’re greedy and attempt to date everyone all at once. I don’t advise greedy. Get greedy, and pink ogres and gay pixie sprites start showing up as your dates. It’s God’s way of pulling your plug. You'll know it when it happens.) I'm not saying it's worth it,or that you should do it. I'm just saying.

Eventually, I realized that I needed not an endless smorgasbord of men who all have at least one fascinating aspect. So I began to whittle it down. I kept my Profile down. Some moved, some married, they dwindled. It came down to one man, who had evolved into my best friend (!), and then none. I had come full circle, but I was bouyant, serene, and I had kept my house and all my stuff, as well.

In the end, I cancelled I was all full up on man collecting -- and dating is super strenuous in its own MataHari way -- I had no needs left unfilled, and just about everything on my romance and fun list was, in a round of high sport and drama, checked off. I felt fulfilled and content within myself. It’s a woman’s dream come true.

I quit Match forever. But I loved it.


Because it's where the men are, until the right one comes along. The right one being the last one standing.

Therefore, I suggest that collecting men is a fantastic option. Think of them as vintage Italian pottery with wallets and hammers and spatulas. Think of them as friends, which is what men have wanted all long, right? How many men (and husbands, even) broke up with us and then asked if we could be friends? Well, that time is here; my house is now. And it needs a new pedestal sink. Now we know that as a woman I could install a new sink myself, I could hire someone, I can do it all and still juggle plates and sing American Pie. But why? Why, at this stage in life when my son is 10 and I have a break – why would I try to be a hero? I have been taking care of men and children and co-workers and friends and relatives for several consecutive decades. It’s time for a little ease, and a little fun. Why should I volunteer to go without assistance, to go without succor, to go without?

Ladies, I can’t think of a single reason.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

good morning mister president

there he is, number 44, kickin it with a friend. oh, it's good to wake up in OBAMA LAND, CALIFORNIA. USA. PLANET EARTH.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

It's Poetry Month, Babies!

It is difficult to get the news from poems,
yet men die miserably every day
for lack
of what is found there.

William Carlos Williams

I can't post all the really good poems here' i am forced to post my own. I am so sorry...but I do love poetry, and agree with WCW.

The Day's On Fire! Roethke Was Right

In a Dark Time

In a dark time, the eye begins to see,
I meet my shadow in the deepening shade;
I hear my echo in the echoing wood--
A lord of nature weeping to a tree,

I live between the heron and the wren,
Beasts of the hill and serpents of the den.
What's madness but nobility of soul
At odds with circumstance? The day's on fire!

I know the purity of pure despair,
My shadow pinned against a sweating wall,
That place among the rocks--is it a cave,
Or winding path? The edge is what I have.

A steady storm of correspondences!
A night flowing with birds, a ragged moon,
And in broad day the midnight come again!
A man goes far to find out what he is--

Death of the self in a long, tearless night,
All natural shapes blazing unnatural light.
Dark,dark my light, and darker my desire.
My soul, like some heat-maddened summer fly,

Keeps buzzing at the sill. Which I is I?
A fallen man, I climb out of my fear.
The mind enters itself, and God the mind,
And one is One, free in the tearing wind.

Theodore Roethke

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

maurice at the barbeque / 1980

maurice at the barbecue,
drunk on gin and offering me
wine-in-a-box, hid his fifth
of Tanquery behind the rhododendrons
and said to me and jim and liz, Women...
turn them upside down, spread their legs and
they all look alike...
gesturing with long
black barbeque tongs. we had just met, he didn't
know my people, else he may have waited until i was
tucked in the hot tub, boiling null as a potato, before
opening his goateed, cigar-stuffed mouth. i saw he
was human, saw photos of children who'd slipped away.
i saw the bitter trade he'd made. everyone saw
his furred brown toes, protruding from huarache
sandals bought on his annual mexican slumfest, with
a framed red toreador on black velvet, a clutch of Oui
and Hustler splayed nearby. he was a rotting man,
but a man nonetheless. maurice was my neighbor, my host
to take or not to take. and i heard myself whisper,
Isn't that interesting? and jim and liz sighed, relieved i'd
not done the right thing, the merciful thing, really,
which would have been to kill maurice, to give him
an end, to roast him on the spit with the crispy whole pig,
now being served, along with the terrible
contents of the red wine box. he'd have looked
so natural next to swine, a gravenstein lodged
between his cigar and goatee - for appeal, but
also to stop him commencing on subjects
about which whatever he had once known
was now lost, forgotten, drowned.

suzanne finnamore

the long hall of your leaving

the hall is before you again and the man
stumbling in his hurry to leave
and the wild voice is saying Wait, come back

you watch stupidly as he takes the stairs
four at a time, silently hurtling down and away,
his head bowed, his mouth stretched shut

like a drum. you panic and begin screaming lies
downwind to him -- how you never loved him,
how much you loved him. you see him cross

the road, moving steadily, his legs
working like scissors, now. in desperation
you race to the roof of the building. you begin

a long, garish striptease, throwing your clothes
as far as your can. you start to gyrate, thinking
he'll feel left out, or disgusted. as a last

resort, you walk to the edge and swear you'll jump.
a crowd gathers halfheartedly, you look out
and see his figure, very small, way

on the horizon. you send up flares, you do
a little jig on the ledge. you hope
the press will send a man out.

suzanne finnamore

bees in the grass

news of your marriage
arrives calm, delivered
in subpoena fashion by a woman
with a permanent wave

and vows are taken, things bought.
bride like a mother to fix you lunch,
to make a bed with fast hands,
to fill it.

now all your socks sit in tidy balls
and shoes have trees. how
simply you reach this, and after what struggle:
the jaunt to mexico, the drinking.

never having touched you, i am
sour on the marriage
on the pregnant bride resplendent in yellow
on the gifts chosen in good taste.

never having broached the subject, having compared
your eyes to sapphire and done nothing, this news
of marriage brings odd alarm; i had always meant
to reach you: bees in the grass.

suzanne finnamore

autumnal equinox

there is a line that runs
between the expanse of cheekbone
and mouth, a small, perfect crease
where the skin kisses itself.
all night i watched it.

i wanted to disturb it with my mouth
and tell you something, then, some
wordless thing that had more to do with breath
and mild wishes thrown silent
against the tongue, so soft and
full of mute promise.

that night i had no words,
embarrassed by the hard sounds
which would stumble in the dark. but your eyes
were brilliant, they were light
where there is no light, and all the while
the candles flamed and marked
the summer's last night.

i knew, seeing white disc toss shadows
in long sulphurous waves
against your face,
this was not life as i knew it;
it was some magic we'd conjured,
some trick of the night, arranging
slices of moon as you hovered
above me, shining.

but wait,
now i will tell you something,
my arms across your long back, my heart
racing toward another morning.
i will tell you a secret: this
is not real, none of it is real,
as dreams and sage drenched shadows
are not real,
and this is all there is.

suzanne finnamore


a late bloomer.
sappy, a dupe.
never complained,
missed everything, that's all;

all the Balls, at least.
even the ugly sisters managed
to make an appearance,
however grisly. they

weren't much to look at --
all the same, they had style
and their father
by the balls. but

she was a sly one,
a hoarder,
had the Prince on a string
the whole time. she

was a wizard with props:
the glass slipper, the rags.
he loved it,
don't kid yourself. she

took him for all he had.
the castle, the land, the
works. he never saw it coming.
a hustler. the best.

suzanne finnamore

Eva Peron....and i love Madonna too. Sofuckit.

eva peron

....died and embalmers
rushed in as her last breath
hung like confetti in the air,
hair stylists waited, combs
poised; flutes may have played
low, adagio as she went
quietly from the house
and hundreds of dresses
ruffled softly in her
closets where luggage sat
where hats waited, where shoes
stood empty all together.
and outside now the people came
and kept coming, in groups
in waves, like fish
down the stream they came,
grieving, for days shouting,
now big with it
those that loved you, 'whore', 'goddess'
aphrodite of the argentines,
knowing, sure; beautiful still
at the hospital bed as you
vote for peron: a good wife,
fainting at inaugurations,
blond, ghost-like
cancer in your womb
like punishment for too much
power, for alarming the military --
or like favor, an exit,
not to see your billboards
burned, your statues lopped off,
your children's' palaces in heaps,
your body
stolen very early one morning,
from your enemies kept whole:
lot eighty-six,
grave forty-one,

suzanne finnamore

Monday, October 27, 2008

Moths At The Window

Some random shape against the light,
Edges lit with odd electricity; this wild
Creature desire and pique and you and I
Have something in common. Evening comes

Then drops into night like red peaches to the ground.
Do we grow old or just set in our ways? The cat is lulled
By the sound of these keys clacking hard and
Uncertain against false paper.

And I think how all Old Good Times sit
Firm and unblinking as pharaohs on a yesterday
Throne. A pink bulb throws light and heresy
On a photograph of me, younger and with short hair

Smiling as if to eat the world. To know you
Ten years is to know you ten minutes
Or less, and words garner silence. Let’s
Pick today like a fruit that cannot wait. Fear

Will visit and perch stern in the hall.
Friends will serve themselves up on a plate.
Personally I cannot grieve or wait
Another day to see what walks toward me, or away.

Love is still the hardest claim to stake, as if to say so would
void freedom, blithe, would cut nonchalance with the bluntest knife.
But when we laugh we touch gingerly on life
And beat against hard glass, winged.

moths at the window

Moths at the window

Some random shape against the light,
Edges lit with electricity; this wild
Creature desire and pique and you and I
Have something in common. Evening comes

Then drops into night like red peaches
to the ground. Do we grow old or just set in our ways?
The cat is lulled by the sound of keys clacking hard and
Uncertain against false paper.

And I think of how all Good Times sit
Firm and unblinking as pharaohs on a yesterday
Throne. A pink bulb throws light and heresy
On a photograph of me, younger and with more hair

Smiling as if to eat the world. To know you
Ten years is to know you ten minutes
Or less, and words garner silence. Let’s
Pick today like a fruit that cannot wait. Fear

Will visit and perch stern in the hall.
Friends will serve themselves up on a plate.
And personally I cannot grieve or wait
Another day to see what walks toward me, or away.

Love is still the hardest claim to stake, as if to say so would
void freedom, blithe, would cut nonchalance with the bluntest knife.
But when we laugh we touch gingerly on life
And beat against hard glass, winged.

suzanne finnamore

the mover / first poem ever published...

the mover

He could come without warning,
Swathed in blue, touching the rim of his cap
In greeting. You might be scrambling eggs
Or shaving your legs and he’d turn up –
Smiling, asking where this went.
You could be in the middle of something.
You may have no intention to move at all, but there it is.

He could come without introduction
But for a name randomly sewn on his shirt.
But he can wear any shirt; they could trade shirts.
When you call him Emmett
He could be laughing inside. Joe could be
Dick, Harry, Sean.

But he knows your name,
Knows where you live, has touched
All of your things,
Has pressed himself against your icebox
And slid it outside,
Has taken your lamps by their throats,
Your chairs by their wooden back,
Has wheeled your bed into the street.

Was he careful?
Was he quick?
Was he kind, as promised, or was he
Just perfunctory, visiting each of your rooms
In their appointed turn,
Carrying everything out very quietly:
Something that had to be done.
Something that after all, paid.

suzanne finnamore

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Poem For Fall


I wanted to write
something fine about men, about
how love bursts like pumpkins
in the fall. Then

I heard about the bears in Alaska
and how to keep them away, and that
seemed more relevant. You sing
or wear bells as you walk; if they

know you're coming they steer clear,
being the prudent fellows they are
(cowards, really). Whistling
may be misconstrued during

mating season. Don't wear perfume,
they find it attractive. Don't smell
of food, they like this, too. If you do
meet up with one, upon your peril

don't run. Bears are funny, and running
will trigger a chase. Although
they seem slow, they can do
forty in a pinch. There is no escape

that way. You are advised to
drop to the ground, without ceremony,
without sound. Drop
to the ground and play dead. Shown

total submission, they will lose interest.
And when he has gone, get up
if you can. Wear the bells, forget the perfume,

Sunday, October 12, 2008

(Overheard) BANG, BANG, You're A Whole Different Person aka The Bang Debate 08

WELL i'm living the questions, again. I'm genuinely TORN about cutting my hair into bangs. it haunts me like Casper the Angry Drag Queen Stylist ghost. this has been a source of anxiety and deep reflection lo these long adult years. and so, here it comes again. the bang sudden death quandary. and as usual, I'm taking a poll. because when bangs go wrong, I'm instantly rendered a LAUGHINGSTOCK for the foreseeable future. I'm not strong enough for this.

so, i think maybe y'all should look at my FACEBOOK PHOTO ALBUM (it's on the left side, once you register, free, on facebook. You have to register just to SEE EVERYONE ON FACEBOOK. but you don't have to have A FACEBOOK yourself.) you can see all Jon Engdahl's guerrilla mosaic street art while you consider the Bang question.

anywho. look at the more recent pics with my bangs LONG and then look at the others w/ bangs short, and then tell me. plus my hair's longer now. won't bangs look weird w/ long hair? kind of like Meatloaf? I CANNOT MAKE A SIMPLE DECISION. this is why I'm staying home tonight and watching books.

October 10, 2008 6:51 PM

polly kahl said...
Hi Suzanne, to me the question is what look you want to go for. The longer bangs (Facebook version) is softer while the shorter blunt bangs are more sophisticated and distinctive looking. I personally like the shorter bangs because to me they are part of what makes you unique. Even though we've never met I might actually recognize you on the street with the shorter bangs, whereas with the longer bangs you look like lots of other people. Plus I think the shorter bangs are kind of sexy. So I vote for the short and sassy Suzanne, and I hope you'll post before and after pix when you decide.

October 10, 2008 9:23 PM

lindac said...
I think you are beautiful either way, but I agree with Polly. But, you are right, you may need to cut some of the length for the short bangs to work like they do in your other photos. You have such lovely and piercing eyes, I think the short bangs frames them in a way the longer hair just doesn't. But, I am a fashion moron, I have no fashion sense at all - so I think you should do whatever feels right for you. After all, you are the one who is going to be looking back in the mirror.

October 11, 2008 10:59 AM

DAMN. bangs are just a MASSIVE decision. i thank you both for your thoughtful and ridiculously complimentary posts. I'm still in a twist about it. I'll prawly take my good scissors to them and just cut a LITTLE BIT off. so i can see. then of course they will be crooked, and i will even them out, more and more, until i look like Friar Tuck. history bears this out: i go all CHARLES MANSON on my bangs, every few months. it's an Issue.

Polly Kahl said...
There are some fun software's which allow you to upload a picture of your face and put all kinds of different hairstyles on it. I think some are probably free online but if not let me know and I'll send you my disk. I'm doing nothing but growing my hair out for at least the next year. It's my last hurrah before I'm so old that it looks completely ridiculous. (Right now it only looks partially ridiculous. In another year it will probably qualify as completely.)

OCTOBER 11, 2008 8:54 PM
oh yes! I've seen those,. ill try googling a link to one of those on site hair experiments pages. thanks.

although, my friend Mad Augusten Burroughs weighed in on NO bangs. Augusten said that "bangs are SO 90's..."
besides,i DO like hiding one eye behind my hair, sometimes. it feels safe there.

OCTOBER 11, 2008 11:09 PM
Polly Kahl said...
That's true, bangs are so 90s, but we're not talking mall bangs here. Mall bangs are 90s but Bettie Page bangs are timeless. Here's one with long hair and short bangs that's kind of sweet.

I demand before and after pictures.

Caryl sent you a message.
Re: profile

Saw the pics. Here is the verdict.

soft and feminine, longer bangs that sweep to the side to do this you part your hair in the middle. and
when drying the bangs, sweep them to one side, but just the bangs. DO NOT part
your hair on the side.

sexy and sassy, darker hair with short bangs straight across. This is best
done with botox. not for you in particular, but all women of a certain age who
want to pull off short bangs. I know I will probably be kicked out of the club
for saying that, but you can be smart and vain, and still be deep and human.

Please don't underestimate the hair parted in the middle, this came from a very
important stylist who is in the "business" and it is absolutely true.

OCTOBER 12, 2008 7:42 AM




SUCH A MAGIC, MAGIC TIME TO BE ALIVE. all the bangs you can choose from,in fact all the VARIATIONS OF ALL HAIR STYLES, in current and classic shots, celebrity and real people who look like supermodel photographs, not old stock photos or line drawings -- all on one website, it's just HEARTBREAKING and RIGHT.

i feel like when Princess Ariel sang "A WHOLE NEW WORLD" on The Little Mermaid, when she got to grow legs. and yes, i do cry at Disney movies. in fact, ten minutes into Beauty And The Beast, I had COMPLETELY FORGOTTEN i was watching an "animated feature film."

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Deep In The Amazon: One Writer's Disease

This is what happened. I wrote a book, submitted it to several publishers, got rejected. I wrote another book, found a New York agent and a New York publisher. Within a week I had sold the film rights to 20th Century Fox, quit my job, and settled into what felt like an extended dream world, one in which I was able to go to sleep and wake up without the scenery changing. This is it, I thought, my beginning of a writer’s life. I bought a new car and each time I went outside I expected to find it gone, with a note that read Terrible Mistake Now Rectified.

Several weeks before my actual publication date, a friend informs me that my book is listed on Already? I said, the faintest suggestion of coy surprise in my voice. I attempt to sound casual but inside I am hula dancing naked with George Clooney and he is saying Baby I didn’t know you were a writer.

After a period of insensate glee at my book simply being for sale on the Internet, the first Amazon customer review is posted. Five stars, from my mother, cleverly disguised as A Reader. “Suzanne Finnamore is the spokeswoman for the nineties.” A couple more people write reviews, either four or five stars. In a quasar of accolade, my Amazon sales rank number soars from 1,439,003 to 707. I begin thinking about a new house, something with an extra bathroom and a pool. Perhaps an Olympic-sized pool for the staff to enjoy while I am in Aix choosing a villa.

Then it happens. My first bad Amazon customer review. My husband peers idly over my shoulder as it floats into view on my laptop computer. As in tornadoes, there is no warning. One star. A Reader From DC wishes I would catapult myself from a tall building. Then I should be chopped into tiny pieces, like a vampire. Pieces which are then mailed separately to different continents, so that I won’t reconstitute myself and start looking for a pencil.

My husband pats my arm and goes for vodka. I cry for an hour: Why me? Why?

I then call ten friends and insist they write Amazon reviews. Five stars, I mumble, I need five.

But I haven’t read it yet, my friend says. It doesn’t matter, I say. He laughs, not realizing I'm serious.

Eventually the good friend reviews are posted, knocking mister one star off the top. Then a Reader From New York writes an even worse review -- for some reason giving me two stars. He loathes my writing, my characters, my plot and my publisher; it is the grand slam of reviews. What would merit one star to this person, I muse. A grease trap?

More friends (and acquaintances who have been upgraded to friends) are encouraged to write five star reviews. Oddly, I even get a few great reviews from strangers. I write to thank them but also to ferret them out: I secretly feel they must be my mother, who has become dangerously proficient on her computer. I also believe that the bad reviews are from my enemies. I will never be able to prove it, of course.

Later, a blinding flash of lucidity reveals that the bad reviews are in fact from friends, jealous alcoholic friends who write bad reviews on Amazon and then black out. I log on every hour, to monitor my triumph/debacle. It is all I can do to keep myself from setting the alarm for 3 AM so I can properly stay abreast. As part of my system, I regularly cross reference numbers with Nathan Englander’s For The Relief of Unbearable Urges and John Le Carre’s Single and Single. I also look up Memoirs of a Geisha, which has been out for well over a year and is still in the top 25. Janet Fitch’s debut novel isn’t even out yet and Oprah named it as an Oprah pick, so she’s number 6. I mentally will her under a bus.

After three weeks of this my husband forbids me to log onto I agree, sensing this is what’s best, the healthy response to what has perhaps become a fixation. I haven’t put on a bra since this whole thing started, and the baby has a bald spot from being laid in his crib so mommy can log on. I have however lost nine pounds. Soon breasts won’t be an issue.

I tell everyone I am not going to check any more. Then I check. 659. I am in the sixes. So I feel good, am able to have coffee and write and even leave the house for milk. When I return, I log on but I don’t check my own sales rank. In an inspired flurry, I try to spread the good sales rank number karma around. I start looking up books I admire and writing five star reviews. It is then that I realize the gross inequity of the system.

Eudora Welty has received two stars for The Ponder Heart. I write a review for her. Since there is only the one other review, I am able to boost her average from two to four stars. One person can make a difference. I’m sure she’s appreciative. I also write a five star review for Germaine Greer, whose new book I haven’t read yet but have ordered from Amazon (40% off) and will certainly enjoy. Probably.

At five till midnight I log on. (Amazon updates not just every day but every hour, a fact that a writer friend has been kind enough to point out.) 666. This is significant; I file it away, under Coincidences That Involve Satan. Exactly fifty-eight minutes later as I am landing with a sad frenzied thud on my book site, I notice that it says Linda Hamilton is the co author if my book, instead of the reader of my audio cassette version. This does not worry me, but the fact that I am 1311 does. It makes me feel homely. I look in the bathroom mirror. Uh huh. Definitely thirteens. Additionally, a Reader From Albuquerque suggests that the best use for my book would be as a doorstop. I am finally drifting off when my infant son Pablo wakes up screaming, about two hours earlier than usual. He is cutting his first tooth -- or maybe he senses my sales rank, which I have just checked, wondering whether my numbers rise at night. 8,810. The sales rank of a high school yearbook.

It’s not checking my Amazon sales rank and customer reviews, it’s checking to see if I am licit. The mentally intact need not apply. I do not write any more, of course. That would take me away from my real work, which is checking my sales rank on

I consider calling Anne Lamott and offering to be her Amazon eyes for her new book, Travelling Mercies. I could give her a status report at the end of the day (5:57 PM: Anne 29, me 922. 6:59 PM: Anne 41, me 2,004.) I don’t call her, though. I already phoned her for reassurance after the savage Kirkus review came out, and I have only two wishes left with the magic flying monkey cap. If you don’t get this reference, then you have never read:

The Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum.
Amazon Sales Rank: 35,623

Five stars from
Anisha Zaveri ( from Bombay,India. , November 14, 1998


Three stars from
A reader from Bountiful, UT , October 21, 1998
A Classic Satire on the Populist Party
Most people look at L. Frank Baum's classic novel as a simple children's story, but it has a deeper significance. Baum lived in the Great Plains of the American West during the Populist uprising of the 1890s, and the characters and events of the Wizard of Oz are based upon what he observed. For example, Dorothy represents the innocent Midwesterner who must contend with the wild nature of the West (the Wicked Witch of the West) and the deceptive idea that all solutions can be found with money (following the path of gold, or the Yellow Brick Road). The Scarecrow represents American farmers, the Tin Woodsman represents American workers (his transformation from human to tin man represents industrial accidents), and the Cowardly Lion represents Populist presidential candidate William Jennings Bryan (a great orator but a pacifist, hence the cowardly lion). Following the path of gold leads Dorothy and her companions to the Emerald City, which represents Washington, DC, and the corrupt influence that money has on the city. The Wizard is the President of the U.S.--a weak and powerless humbug who nevertheless manages to convince the innocent Dorothy that it is he and not the moneyed special interests that control the land. Anyway, there is much more, but in the end Dorothy conquers nature (the Witch of the West), and with the help of the Silver Slippers (the Populist Party's Free Silver issue), finally finds her way home to truth and happiness. A wonderful book when read in the proper context.

Phew. I am finally able to have a context, something I feel I have previously been lacking by only looking up my own book. I look up a few more, just to get a sense of where I stand.

Angle of Repose The Pulitzer Prize winning novel by Wallace Stegner
Amazon Sales rank: 3,331

One star from
A reader from Minnesota, April 4, 1999
Waste of 600 pages
I was required to read this book for school. It was probably the slowest book I have ever read. Don't waste your time. The only reason I gave it one star was that I don't have the option of giving it less.

Rabbit, Run, by John Updike
Amazon Sales rank: 73,122

One star from: from Chicago, IL, January 28, 1999
Thumbs Down!
I agree with the reader for New York City. This Book was a total waste of time and I dreaded every turn of the page.

One star from:
A reader from New York City, September 15, 1997
Uggh!!! Updike can't write worth spit! This is just pure junk. Not only is it dull, but it's about nobodies. A total waste!

A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway
Amazon Sales rank: 3,585

A reader from New York City, September 17, 1997
Very bad.
“Bad reading; the descriptions are okay, but the characters stink. The heroin doesn't seem lovable and great, she's crazy and stupid. It's bad. The drawing on the cover is as good as it gets.”

A reader, July 2, 1997
Hemingway rode on the coat tails of F. Scott Fitzgerald.
None of Hemingway's work including A Farewell To Arms should be touted as "Classic". Hemingway caught a ride on the coat tails of F. Scott Fitzgerald and without him as a predecessor Hemingway's body of work would have died the timely death it deserved. A Farewell To Arms is yet another example of Hemingway's inability to forward narrative in an interesting manner or to develop characters that anybody could care a whit about.

A closer look confirms that Hemingway’s not doing well on his Amazon Customer Review Average. This is doubtless because he is dead, and can’t get people to write reviews for him. Mental email: Stay alive.

I log onto my site again. 1,590. Re-read my Kirkus review. They’ve placed it right up front so strangers can read it without breaking a sweat in the magazine aisle. Realize suddenly that the reviewer didn’t compare me to Nora Ephron, as my editor had said -- he compared me to Erma Bombeck. In abject horror, I call my friend Augusten and read it to him, and as I hear the words spoken out loud, I laugh for about a minute. It feels like surfacing for air. Kirkus doesn’t matter, according to Augusten. Who matters? I say. I don’t know, he admits. The New York Times Book Review, I guess.

I wonder what my therapist is doing right now. I call him to see. I leave a message saying that I am having some “popularity issues.” Would it be a conflict of interest to ask him to write an Amazon review, I wonder as I hit the Search key.

The Complete Works of William Shakespeare by William Shakespeare
Sales rank 2,130 (Unabridged hardcover)

A reader from USA, February 24, 1999
Shakespeare is highly overated
Not to deny Shakespeare’s incredible talent, but he is certainly overcredited in the creativity area. if you're looking for a true, unique and original read, i reccomend any famous ancient greek playwrite, such as aristophanes, euripides or sophacles. you'll find thier style a little less decorative, and little more simple, but still very similar (afterall, shakespeare did have the works of these men to study and emulate.

A reader from Japan, July 5, 1998
Shoddy Binding
(no review)

I admire the brevity of the Japanese reviewer. There is simply no room in Japan for the verbose. I go to the front menu of the Amazon site to glean the overall view. In Amazon’s Hot 100, Number one is Body For Life, by Bill Phillips -- a man with biceps the size of Virginia hams. Sugar Busters! Cut Sugar To Trim Fat is number 11

Apparently I have made a grave error in writing a novel. Mental Email: Stop trying to write fiction. I’m sure the Reader From DC would applaud this decision, and the Reader From NY would crack champagne. Meanwhile I write emails to my friends and sign off with my Amazon sales rank number of the moment.

“Hope your liver tumor isn’t malignant. I’m sure it’s not. 704.”

I log on at 5:45 and again at 6:01. In less than twenty minutes my sales rank went from 636 to 4501. It’s Mothers Day, I rationalize. Still, 4501. I mentally affix a cleft palate to my lip. Dinner is out of the question now. I will be sucking horse tranquilizers.

It occurs to me, not for the first time, that getting published isn’t exactly the way I pictured it. Yet there is still time to make it right. There is still time to burst into Amazon’s Hot 100. If not, I will marinate in shame and defeat, along with Stegner and Welty. And John Updike. Let’s not forget that popsickle stand loser.

Epilogue: In June of 1999, Otherwise Engaged: A Novel climbed to #35 on The Amazon Hot 100.

Nothing changed.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

What We Whine About When We Whine about Writer's Block


Every writer feels it at least once,if not regularly: the not wanting to begin, the dread writer's block, the magnetism of procrastination.every writer one i know, at least, and those whose biographies and memoirs i've read.

it's a very perverse,unnecessary banana peel step on the road to creation. i believe, against my past history, I'm gaining a little bit on it. when approaching a genuine, hard deadline (as in, the check is being printed, or not printed) i no longer wait until the last possible mo. i give myself a small buffer of time to finish writing a piece, just the slimmest wafer of time , to allow for punctuality. an idiotic, exhaustive,useless state of inner affairs, that's what procrastination and its fraternal twin, writers block is.

why do i do it? i ask you. i ask myself. it is because I'm a drama queen? I'm lazy? I'm fearful and anxious regarding both failure and success? I'm on a wholly other planet in my mind, at times, a place without time or money and a place devoid of the greasy noose of the deadline, swaying with tangible menace in front of the mind's eye? am i rebellious? spoiled, immature, narcissistic, thoughtless and glib? possessing an inappropriate sense of entitlement regarding my Creative Process? irreverent and carefree, holding nothing that can be called 'work' sacred? hedonistic, pagan, apathetic, and completely devoid of boundaries whenever the mood strikes? selfish to the BONE? reckless, slipshod, slick, feckless, haughty, distant, rude, shallow, cavalier, flippant, oblivious, arrogant, full of false pride and a shabby bravado i don't possess, but practice nonetheless to the detriment of myself, those around me, and my personal environment?

yes. all that, plus a strange feeling of desertion by any scrap of a muse. the sinking sensation of being alone with the blank page. and the blank page feels like being alone with a bomb.

tick tick tick tick tick tick.

it may be that i am only able to write, to complete, in order to stop the ticking bomb inside.

but oh, then comes a golden silence, a perfect glade of relief and childlike freedom. it doesn't last , but it's a magic time, when the writer's block and the procrastination have withdrawn...the time after one book is done, and just before the next rounds the corner, brandishing a blackjack and smoking with impatience.

'The art of Frida Kahlo is like a ribbon around a bomb" Andre Breton

Saturday, September 27, 2008

The Courtesy of Fate -- Back By Popular Demand, Although It Makes Me Look Bad

Coincidences and the Courtesy of Fate

It was a somewhat jarring coincidence when I first learned that the charming, intellectually fierce and sexy man who’d written me on was Jewish, 5’9” and a San Francisco divorcee named Rob – a man with the same name and general profile as my ex husband.

I later discovered that this new Rob man, however, spelled his name with an extra ‘b’ at the end. Robb. WELL, I thought. THANK GOD. A SIGN THAT I AM NOT repeating old behavior or suffering from “repetition compulsion”. Plus, this new Robb was a tawny brunette, had hazel eyes, and was 48 years old– and when I met my ex, Rob, he was a hazel-eyed tawny brunette who was 44 years old. Another differentiation.

And ex Rob is 60, now. Another GALAXY of Robs.

Although Robb and Rob had both fast tracked into my life through immediately praising my brain, my writing, my exotic eyes and my swagger, this RANDOM commonality, I knew, was just because they both “got” me. They both gave me the immediate sense of thrilled urbanity. But the resemblances ABSOLUTELY ended there…except I had immediately felt “safe” around both of them. (As it happens, this was a grand, sweeping error, in the case of my ex. To be fair, he wasn’t feeling “safe” around me either.).

Yes, I felt trusting and relaxed talking on the phone and emailing Robb, nonchalant, waiting for a window in his busy schedule as CEO of a non-profit organization, so that we could meet and hang out. This, I reasoned, was now a GOOD thing. Rebuilding Trust In Self.

Now I could hang with a man who GOT me. I could give myself a little rope, some fun. Re-Investment in Self.

I felt I’d done quite a bit of inner work. Now out from the shadow of divorce, I deserved to kick up my heels.

As Robb pursued me and we spoke on the phone and emailed, it became crystal clear that this man was different – maybe even different from all the men I’d known before. He was a breath of fresh air - a CEO, bright, unassuming, and serene and at the top of his game. Certainly, I was an altogether different woman now than the naïf that I was in the nineties, and this was not some new age pinhead karmic “test” of some sort – not a cosmic game of musical electric chairs. I had written a book about the divorce, for God’s sake. It was all cauterized out of my bones.

And since I felt nothing passionate for my ex any longer, I knew I’d fully and truly learned one big lesson: never get with charming sexy Jewish men named Rob who are 5’9” and express love by serial fucking shiksas who will never be quite bright and petite and submissive enough, not even if they manage to be Thumbelina.

I took complete absolution from the curse of the previous, disparate Rob’s.

And imagine my delight when Robb showed up at my door tonight, just as handsome as ever and made me feel like I was walking on air. I mean, just a good, solid, wicked funny and dry non-practicing Jew. (Rob had never practiced either. Who does?)

One hour turned into four, and before I knew it he had charmed the very pants off me. I can’t say I gave him much of a struggle. The man was really, really unique. And yet I felt I kind of knew him, you know? We’d just followed a very civilized and improvised path to this inevitable turning point. We were on the floor of my living room, making out in our
underpants. At some point we decided the couch was too small and had moved to the larger venue. We fell on each other like animals, really, but also very sweet, very comfortable and easy and fun and right. Our bodies just seemed to fit together, since we were both roughly the same size. In fact, you could lay a transparency of me and Robb and Rob on a light board and there would be only a few major differences. Uncanny. I chuckled at the absurdity of the coincidence, as meaningless as it was. Because Robb man was a CEO and he was 48, and…well why belabor it? That was then, this was now.

His iphone rang at one AM. I thought it was my iphone! Boy was I relieved when I realized it was his iphone. Whew. Because, you know, I am dating more than one guy; in fact I have a superglam Sushi Ran Sausalito tryst planned with another man Saturday night. You know, because the really great men need to be kept on their TOES. I’d always felt that way. I’d had another BF when I first got with my ex Rob, too. Not that it mattered, now. Right.

When Robb and I embraced goodbye at the door, it was now 2 AM. And I hadn’t let him have actual intercourse with me. More progress, more growth.

‘Goodbye,” he said. And walked to his luxury car and slipped into the night.

I stood there, frozen with a rictus smile on my face.




Instantly, I was transported back to the night in 2000 when my husband Rob had
stood in the same spot, had hit that same mark, and very simply said “Goodbye.”

FUCK FUCK FUCK FUCK I chanted. I could hear the high, shrill laughter of the gods, and Jesus just tearing his hair out. I had FAILED THE Rob/Robb TEST, AGAIN.


I wrung my own hands, just HORRIFIED at what had happened. And I was sober THE WHOLE TIME. I had nothing to blame this on, except my own blind vanity and my willful ignorance of the same laws, the very same signs that had landed me in the padded bitchhouse slammer eight years ago.

There was nothing to do but pick up my clothes and turn out the upstairs lights. In the morning, it would not seem better, I knew. It would seem dramatically worse. Because I wouldn’t even have the sexual afterglow from the makeout session which I was now enjoying the last remnants of: God hates me, angels fucketh with me, and there is no justice or learning to be had. Ever.

That’s when I saw it, laid out flat and smooth on my dining room table.

A watch.

A man’s watch.

A man’s sapphire crystal Victorinox Swiss Army Maverick II watch.

Robb’s watch. He'd forgotten it. I was filled with spontaneous salvation and a bright, joyous greed.

I walked quickly and with sure instinct to my front door, flipped the deadbolt shut and killed the porch light.

Then, swathed in black lace boys cut hipsters and a silk camisole, I slipped the large, solid Swiss timepiece on my wrist. A wide grin spread across my flushed face. I buckled it.

Then, in the mirror, I went to see it on me. I held my wrist up to my hair, brushing a few strands casually to one side and moistening my lips. It looked fucking amazing.

And suddenly, the whole world was righted again. JUST LIKE THAT.

I logged onto the Swiss Army website, to identify the watch. Model 2451, retail price $350. Available only from Canada and the USA.

Or, by courtesy of Fate.

Monday, September 15, 2008

the woman Orson Welles called "the greatest actress in the world"

Jeanne Moreau
When you visit the woman Orson Welles called "the greatest actress in the world," don't try to light her cigarette -- you might get burned.
By Jeff Galipeaux
Dec. 06, 2001 | Actress and director Jeanne Moreau spent half of the 20th century on screen. From one Age of Anxiety to another, she has appeared in more than 110 films and dozens of plays. She is, as she likes to say, "a woman with absolutely no sense of nostalgia." And like a Gaulois-smoking, pouty-lipped Energizer Bunny, she's still going and going. In the last year and a half, Moreau directed her own adaptation of Margaret Edson's "Wit"; purchased the French rights to Marie Jones' "Stones in His Pockets" and Noel Coward's "Fallen Angels"; has been dramaturge to the Opera Bastille's production of Verdi's "Atilla"; and has two films on the way to the festival and art house circuit: "Zaide," inspired by Mozart's unfinished opera; and "Cet amour-là," in which she plays the late novelist and filmmaker Marguerite Duras.
In her four best performances from the '60s, "Moderato Cantible," "Eva," "Mademoiselle" and "La Notte," Moreau demonstrates a broader range than most actresses do in their entire careers. And that's leaving out "Jules and Jim," "The Immortal Story," "Bay of Angels," "Chimes at Midnight," "Diary of a Chambermaid," "The Bride Wore Black" and a half-dozen other films. She is the heavyweight of '60s cinema, and so far, the last of the heavyweights. In the three decades since Moreau's heyday, many fine welterweights have come up through the ranks (Susan Sarandon, Meryl Streep, Robert De Niro, Kevin Spacey), but no one who could have handled her run of '60s films with the intelligence, wisdom, range and unself-consciousness she conveys with preternatural ease.
And it's not just the upcoming new films that make this a fine time for Moreau fans: Criterion recently brought out "Diary of a Chambermaid," her 1964 collaboration with Luis Buñuel, on DVD; "The Bride Wore Black" has been put back into video circulation; Jacques Demy's "Bay of Angels" will be rereleased in theaters this fall. And distributors have at last atoned for two home-viewing crimes: A shimmering print of "Mademoiselle" is now available on VHS, and "Eva" can at last be found in the United States.
Unavailable for years, Joseph Losey's "Eva" is a famously butchered film. Originally 155 minutes long, it was chopped down to 103 minutes by the producers. The Kino DVD contains a bonus Swedish cut of the film that runs 112 minutes, but the odds of a full version ever reemerging seem dim. And that's a shame, considering "Eva" contains Moreau's riskiest performance. Eva Olivier, as portrayed by Moreau, is probably the best depiction of a case of borderline personality disorder ever put on film. I once watched the movie with a psychiatrist, who was amazed at the intuitive accuracy of Moreau's performance. (I was told Eva would have been diagnosed "a functional schizoid" at the time the film was made.)
"You're fantastic in that film," I said to Moreau when I interviewed her, "even though it doesn't quite hold together as a movie."
"There are scenes missing," she said.
"I've heard that."
"Joe Losey was not able to do his editing."
"The Hakim brothers?" I asked, referring to the film's producers.
"I had to fight with them. I ran after one with a knife," Moreau told me.
"I wanted to open him up."
"I've heard they were really hard to work with."
"He closed a door just in time. Otherwise I would have skinned him," Moreau said as she smiled and lit a cigarette.
Earlier, when I arrive at Moreau's apartment building in Paris, I'm shown in by Madame Oberlin, her gracious personal assistant. She takes the flowers I've brought and urges me to sit down, but I can't. I'm in Jeanne Moreau's living room. All the chairs look important. Duras, Truffuat, Malraux -- who knows what illustrious backsides once warmed these cushions? Instead of sitting, I look around the room.
Labeled in English with blue Dymo tape, the shelves are devoted to literature, psychology and mythology. There is also a shelf holding two Caesar awards, a Golden Lion from the Venice Film Festival and a best actress prize from Cannes (in its box, modestly closed). Over the sofa there is a pencil drawing of Moreau lying on what appears to be a chaise, but drawn from an angle and elevation that show off her splendid face, neck and hair; the curves of her body suggested in a few sweeping lines, softened by a blanket or a bedsheet. If I had a drawing like that of me, I'd hang it over my sofa too.
Moreau walks into the room. No trumpets. No nymphs throwing flower petals. I nearly do a double take. Those splendid eyes are not the result of some cinematographer's elaborate setup. They're huge, bronze-colored and bulge just the tiniest bit. Hyperthyroid cute, I guess you'd say.
We shake hands.
She thanks me for the flowers. I apologize for the fact that they had been wrapped in hideous cellophane.
She nods to indicate the cellophane was of questionable taste, but smells one of the roses and says again they are lovely. I ask if she minds if I record our conversation. "Of course not!" she says, "I'd be offended if you didn't." She smiles.
Before we get started, I make the mistake of trying to light one of Moreau's cigarettes. She had been smoking one when she walked in, but it was almost gone. There are four lighters, an ashtray and packs of cigarettes on the table between us. One of her trademarks is the lazy, smoldering cigarette. On screen she may light up with a tropical languor, but in real life Moreau is one of the world's fastest smokers. At least in the top 10. All I see of her hands is a whirl, and a singed filter is out of her mouth and in the ashtray, replaced by a glowing new one before I can fumble for my Zippo. "You know," I say, "I'll be a complete failure as a man and all my testosterone will sludge out onto the floor if I don't light at least one of your cigarettes."
Her pouty lips form a grin and she quickly looks me over. "Don't even try, son," she says, "you'll just get your fingers burned."
We begin by talking about her role in Joseph Losey's film. "When you play a character like Eva, does the anger stay with you? Was it ...?"
"There's no anger."
"No anger?"
"No," Moreau says. "We prepare the suitcase. Orson Welles taught me that. You prepare your suitcase -- meaning the costumes of biography. So the anger comes when it's needed. And even if on the day of the shoot, Orson would say, 'We're not shooting that scene, I don't like it anymore, I wrote another one,' I didn't mind, because being the character is like being in your own life. You know, before you go to bed, you know exactly what are your appointments for the day after ... And suddenly, someone says to you, Jeanne Moreau can't see you at 6, and you have to change gears, and come a little earlier ... Once you are in the character, whatever happens, the scene is now. New scene, new lines, it doesn't matter. If you are the character just bit by bit, then of course, you panic! 'Oh, how am I going to breathe!' and it becomes complicated. But if you have your suitcase, with all your things, bits and pieces, shoes, skirts, coat, cold, rain, heat, happiness, pain, whatever, you're ready.
"When we started shooting 'Jules and Jim,'" Moreau continues, "after three weeks, we stopped; there was no money left. But I had made another film, and had enough money, so I gave it to Francois [Truffaut]. And why did we do 'Jules and Jim' without sound? So we were free to be out, moving. The film is totally post-synched. Entirely post-synched. We only had a sound engineer the day we did the song."
After Orson Welles' European relocation, Moreau fast became his favorite pinch hitter. She appeared in three complete films and one aborted project, which for a Welles collaborator must be some kind of record. First, in 1962, she had the small role of Miss Burstner in his underrated film of Kafka's "The Trial," throwing a tantrum that reduces Anthony Perkins to mush, and finally garnering one of the best close-ups in any Welles film, magnificently framed as she shrieks, "Get out of my room!" Then, in 1965, Moreau played Doll Tearsheet, in all her unexpurgated glory, cuddling with Welles' Falstaff in "Chimes at Midnight." Three years later she was cast as Virginie, wife of Welles' curmudgeonly Mr. Clay in "The Immortal Story," his first film in color; a subdued, perfect 58-minute miniature originally shot for television, but given a European theatrical release. Finally, she was Rae Ingram in his "The Deep," shot intermittently off the coast of Yugoslavia between 1968 and 1973, when the production was aborted, following the death of costar Lawrence Harvey. (Years later, "The Deep" would be made in Australia as "Dead Calm," a terse thriller early in the careers of Nicole Kidman, Sam Neill and Billy Zane).
Welles called Moreau "the greatest actress in the world" and the admiration was mutual. To this day, Welles is a topic Moreau addresses with particular warmth. When she wrote and wanted to direct her first film, "Lumiere" (1975), she consulted many of her director friends, almost all of whom were against the idea. Even Truffaut read her script and returned it with so many pages of notes and suggestions she felt he'd turned it into a Truffaut film. "[Francois] started really not to like me at all when I wanted to direct," Moreau tells me. "The only man who was behind me was Orson." After "Lumiere," Moreau went on to direct "L'Adolescent" in 1979, and a documentary on Lillian Gish for the American Film Institute in 1984.
The experience not only added to her respect for Welles, but also confirmed a broader suspicion. "Nearly all the film directors are macho," she says, flexing her own bicep. "Except Buñuel. He was a crazy man."
At the beginning of her career, when she joined the Comedie Francaise, Moreau "was seeking something traditional, strict; just to prove to my father that being an actress is not being a whore." Moreau, who describes herself as a "woman of the 20th century," and her father as "a man of the 19th century" (and the 19th century in the center of France is basically the 18th century), was motivated through much of her early career by a desire to impress upon her father that acting was hard and serious work. She had been a bright student, and he had hoped she would become a teacher, marry and have children. When she decided to pursue acting, he became violent and threw her out of the house.
At first the rigorous discipline and hard work required by the Comedie Francaise was the perfect antidote to her father's attitude. But, within a few years, as Moreau came into her own as a performer, she began to find that environment too constricting. During this time Moreau was contacted by directors such as Orson Welles and Michelangelo Antonioni, but her contract with the Comedie Francaise prevented her from being away long enough to do anything more than take roles in quickie B-movies. As her star was slowly rising, she was asked by the Comedie Francaise to sign a major deal for more pay, more responsibilities and bigger parts. But in Moreau's words, "The only thing I could see was I would be signing for 16 more years. And I thought, shit! Oh my God!"
Moreau used the opportunity to go freelance. In 1956, she got her biggest theatrical break when she played Maggie the Cat in the French debut of "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof," under the direction of Peter Brook.
"And then backstage one night came a young man named Louis Malle," she tells me. "At the time I had a very serious agent who managed big stars. And this young man said, 'I've been filming with Cousteau, underwater -- that's all I've done, but I've bought the rights to a book, and I want to make a film, and I'd like you to be the star. And it's called "Elevator to the Gallows."'
"And I liked this group of young men -- young writer, young producer, young director. And I spoke to my agent about that, and he said, 'That's horrible! I've been working like mad to establish a real career [for you], and then you fall in love with these guys just because it's new. You don't know anything! This guy has only been filming fishes underwater! What does he know about a woman! A star?' I said, 'I like them. I'm going to meet them again and he's going to give me a script.'
"So I met them again, and I saw my agent and said, 'I like them. I'm going to make the film.' And he said, 'Well, it's them or me.' I said, 'OK, it's them. I'll find another agent, because I won't find anybody else like these people.' Through Louis Malle, I met Francois Truffaut, then I got in touch again with Orson Welles, then I met Tony Richardson, then I met Buñuel -- I was thinking, in fact, that was the moment in my life where I broke a taboo. It was my father's will power, trying to please him. I still think about it, though he died in 1974.
"But I'd done my best, and I don't regret I worked in a certain discipline. I learned a lot. I respect other people's time. I'm very professional, but that's my nature. I work very deep. I had a knowledge of the cinema hierarchy, with the stars having makeup, hairdo, secretary, a dresser, a car, a trailer and no relationship with the crew. As soon as you finish shooting, somebody would come up and say, 'You can have a rest.' And I said, 'Fuck 'em, I'm not coming here to have a rest, I'm coming here to work.' Then, suddenly, I discovered freedom.
"There was no makeup man, there was a hand camera working in the streets, and no way of hearing somebody tell you 'Go and have a rest, and we'll call you when it's ready.' So from that time on, I've been related to everything. Even the production; I knew how much it cost, I knew where the money went, and it was total freedom. And it was telling stories in another way. It didn't last long, because hierarchy came back again."
As her leading-lady days began to wane, Moreau made a graceful transition to character parts, lending her talents to such enterprising and unusual films as Duras' "Nathalie Granger," Bertrand Blier's neglected anarchist romp "Going Places" and Fassbinder's softcore extravaganza "Querelle," slutting around in ridiculous whorehouse garb, belting out "Every Man Kills the Thing He Loves."
Her cameos are always great unexplored tangents. Watch her in Luc Besson's fine but overpraised "Le Femme Nikita." It is an extended cameo with one glorious scene -- teaching Anne Parillaud to apply makeup -- the kind of moment directors would sell their mothers for, but one that opens a hole in the pacing and depth of the film, offering a glimpse of how a fine thriller might also have been a brilliant character study.
Moreau occupies the full color spectrum. Still, I always think of her in black and white, her face an unparalleled wash of elusive middle-gray tones, a cigarette, defying physics, hanging just off her lower lip, coils of smoke rising up into the darkness where emulsion and reality stop. An image to counterblast the most dire surgeon general's warning.
It's a dirty habit, yes, but some people are exempt. Moreau's cigarette is as much a part of her image as Monroe's blond locks were a part of hers. I don't mind an icon's secondhand smoke. Oh, sure, it kills you just as fast, but it kills you with a certain je ne sais quoi. Legends can do all sorts of things that would only make the rest of us look foolish.
Before I leave her apartment, Moreau and I look at an old press still from Vadim's "Les Liaisons Dangereuses." It's a great shot of her. While holding it she smiles, just a little bit.
"When you see something like that, you have no sense of nostalgia?" I ask.
"What for? My life is very exciting now. Nostalgia for what? No. It's like climbing a staircase. I'm on the top of the staircase, I look behind me and I see the steps. That's where I was. You and I, we're here right now. Tomorrow, we'll be someplace else. So why nostalgia?"

-- By Jeff Galipeaux