Last weekend Rick and went to a party. I’m not a big party girl. To me, Saturday night is all about Netflix and the couch and hopefully some cake. But we hadn’t been out in a while and we thought it might be fun, so we went to a party.
The best party I ever went to was in college, New Year’s eve. I was in a four year drama program and we were all very dramatic and there was a lot of very creative dancing happening at the party. It was the first time I ever got drunk and I woke up the next morning on my best friend Cas’ couch and we ate cold Spaghetti-O’s for breakfast and then I took the bus home wearing my London Constable’s cape. (It was DRAMA school!) Great party.
The worst party was New Year’s again, many many years later. Actually, I never made it in to the party. I arrived at the door and looked in through a large front window to see a small group of people sitting in a circle and silently eating chips and dip. It was like that scene in the Woody Allen movie where he looks into the one train and everything is somber and gray, while across the track the other train is all lively and colorful. I knew I was heading onto the wrong train, so I crouched down hoping that no one had spotted me at the window and I crawled to my car and drove away from the somber gray party.
The party we went to this weekend was called a “Spring Soirée.” We received the invitation from a music industry associate, so we were excited to maybe meet some interesting music people. We arrived at the location, which turned out to be a big, new McMansion, gave our names to the keeper of the list (Rick was “Rick” and I was “plus one”) and walked up the big, new driveway. We were greeted by someone who immediately told us “The house is for sale! And it comes with the Maserati.” We glanced at the gleaming red sports car and nodded approvingly. We certainly would enjoy driving that Maserati if we bought that mansion.
We entered the house and walked through the huge dining room out to the back yard, past the pool in which, I’m certain, no one has ever swum. The water was illuminated with lights from below and slowly changed colors from light blue to deep sapphire to amethyst. A pretty young woman dressed in black floated by and offered us cold bottles of a name brand water. We walked a few more steps to the pool house where a hip young bartender offered us a choice of several drinks, all made with a name brand vodka. (We chose the pear and rosemary martini, which was delicious.) Then we walked over to a young man in a pure white chef’s outfit who was grilling skewers of porcini mushrooms and beef and as we ate a few skewers, the man standing next to us told us all the food at the party had been prepared by the executive chef of a fabulous new restaurant that was opening soon on Hollywood Boulevard, after a fabulous renovation of the fabulous old building, where the decor was to be “Chinoiserie with deco elements.” He handed us his card – turns out he was the general manager – and said we should stop by sometime for a tour. Fabulous!
As we walked back to the house, we began to notice brochures everywhere. Literature about the house. Literature about the car. Literature about the restaurant, the liquor, the water. We saw several real estate agents guiding clients through the mansion, pointing out the Brazilian mahogany floors, and the huge woman’s walk-in closet, which was filled with clothing from a big name designer, available for purchase, we knew, because the literature told us so. The posters that hung in the den, featuring exclusive images of famous musicians, were also for sale. We knew because the literature told us so. And more pretty girls in black dresses floated through the party, scanning the crowd for empty hands, hands waiting for name brand cocktails. They moved silently, stealthily, vacant smiles and vacant eyes, offering their goods, silently sending their hidden telepathic signals of name brand and delicious cocktail and go home and tell your friends.
We began to wonder if we were the only actual guests at the party. Everyone else seemed to be selling something, offering something, marketing something. We started to feel a little guilty because we were not going to buy the mansion ($8.5 million) and don’t really drink vodka, and rarely go out to eat at fabulous trendy restaurants. The pretty girls in the black dresses didn’t seem to know this, or didn’t care. They kept offering us drinks and food as we wandered through the huge mansion where everything was available for a price, even us, maybe. As the vampire girls circulated with their free drinks and silent telepathy, we decided it was not a really fun party and it was time to go home.
We did not make an offer on the mansion, but if you’re interested, I can send you some literature.
I love the mall. It’s big and safe and full of possibilities. I grew up in a family that was very intellectual and artsy and anti-materialistic. My mother was totally opposed to anything that looked like it was part of a “set.” Sheets, towels, dishes – she was almost compulsive in her hatred of things that matched. It was as if these things represented, in a very deep way, everything that was banal and bourgeoisie. Which, okay, maybe, but when you’re eight years old life is chaotic enough, and sometimes a little matchy-matchy can help calm the mind, is all I’m saying.
While I can appreciate certain aspects of my mother’s artistic leanings, I do feel I was the unintended victim of a mild form of child abuse. I never learned the basics of putting together an “outfit.” I never even knew that people wore “outfits.” I thought you just had a random assortment of clothing, and as long as there was a shirt on the top and pants on the bottom, you were good to go. I still wake in the middle of the night, gasping for breath, remembering a certain polka dot shirt worn with purple pants with little flowers. Cute shoes weren’t even part of the equation. Shoes existed only as an afterthought. You had one pair, and as long as they sort of fit, what more was there to say about shoes?
The damage was deep, and sometimes I fear, irrevocable. The injustice of it makes me weep, still. And sends me running to the loving arms of the mall, where I wander for hours, searching for more than a great outfit. I’m searching for my lost youth, where there is calmness in the chaos. Where things make sense. Where some things belong together. And, if I happen to end up with a nice outfit and some cute shoes that match, well, that’s a price I am willing to pay.
Most writers hate to write. It’s fantastic to have written something, but the actual writing itself is really hard. I try to avoid doing it as much as possible. However, I love talking about writing. I especially like talking about other people’s writing, because I’m twice removed from any actual writing. First, I didn’t write it, and second, I’m talking about it.
Writing about writing is almost as good as talking about writing, with the exception that you actually have to write. But at least you don’t have to do the really hard stuff, like come up with ideas from nothing. There’s nothing worse than staring at that blank page. It’s so much easier to stare at someone else’s filled up page and write about that. They’ve already done the heavy lifting. I merely have to jabber on about it. Which I can do, no problem.
For instance, I recently jabbered on when I was hired to critique a screenplay. I told the writer I thought he had written a really great screenplay, and that he needed to change everything in it. I always try to be helpful like this when critiquing, although I am very aware of how hard it is to be on the receiving end of a critique. I lost a friend once as a result of giving a “helpful” critique, so I take nothing for granted anymore. My “helpful” was apparently her “get the hell out of my face with your critique.” It’s a fine line.
Much more enjoyable is reading other people’s critiques. Currently, I’m much enamored of a writer named Jacob who writes about the TV show AMERICAN IDOL at the fantastic blog TELEVISION WITHOUT PITY. Jacob critiques the show, the judges, the contestants, Ryan Seacrest, the audience, and me, even though he doesn’t even know who I am. He has a writing style that is very bold, and he often goes on these incredible tangential descriptions that I don’t quite understand in a logical way, but I do understand in an emotional way. He has a definite point of view. He forms opinions, and he’s not afraid to tell you what they are. I don’t always agree with him, but I know that he believes what he is writing, and his writing is beautiful. He tells little stories about every little thing, and then he connects all the little stories into one big story about the show, except it’s about so much more than the show. The big story is about life, and me. Somehow he writes about me! About what I might be thinking and feeling, and why it’s okay or not okay, according to Jacob, and I don’t mind that he’s telling me it’s not okay, because he believes what he’s writing and I believe what he’s writing. Even if I disagree.
I hope one day I can write like Jacob, with truth and conviction and a point of view. But for now, I will just write about writing about writing. Which is my truth at this moment. I know that Jacob would understand, and even if he doesn’t, he would understand that I understand. And even if he doesn’t, it would be okay, because I understand. And Jacob would understand that that’s a start.
“Reported Tornado Hits National Guard – Destroys Barracks
They immediately called themselves for help, but were unavailable … due to a tornado that had destroyed their barracks.”
My head hurts.