I have some very annoying house guests right now.
The first is a young woman named Sarah. With an “h.” She gets mad if you forget the “h.”
The other morning after breakfast I said, “I have to go do some work now, Sara.”
She crossed her arms and looked at me. “It’s Sarah. With an ‘h.’ Why do you do that?”
I shook my head. “You heard the lack of an ‘h?’ How is that possible?”
“It’s my name,” she replied. “I know the difference between ‘Sara’ and ‘Sarah.’ Duh.”
Sarah with an h is not the kind of person who says “Duh.” When she does, she means it sarcastically, or as an insult. Sarah with an h is in her late 20’s, and she’s from the east coast. She hates LA. She went to a small liberal arts college where she majored in English, and she has worked as an assistant at a major publishing house. She just finished writing a a book based on her blog about her dog, Franny, who had an art show in Soho. She doesn’t understand why it’s taking me so long to write my book, or to get an agent. She doesn’t understand why I’m not successful, and why I keep deluding myself that I ever will be.
My other house guest is in his early 20’s. His name is Jayson, and he grew up in Minneapolis with a loving family that totally supports his various artistic pursuits. He majored in philosophy and art history, and after graduation he toured with a theater troupe that performed Shakespeare entirely in Pig Latin. Now he writes for one of those websites that recaps TV shows. He’s very funny, and always has the perfect witty retort, as well as an amazing wardrobe that makes him look effortless chic and hip without seemingly like he’s trying at all. Whenever I ask him how he pays for it all – he makes hardly any money writing for the website – he gives a vague answer about an aunt of his mother’s who left him some money. He’s out every night at gallery openings or clubs in Hollywood. He keeps telling me I should write a blog about sandwiches named after famous people.
My third house guest is Bill. He gets very annoyed if you ask him his age. He worked in the entertainment industry for years, but hasn’t been able to find work lately. He likes to pretend that he’s English, although everyone knows he grew up in New Jersey. He is very vain, and constantly uses my computer to goggle things like “best Botox in LA” and “celebrity eyeglasses.” He thinks I should write a spec script about a fundamental Christian vampire who falls in love with a quirky New York waitress.
It’s hard to write with them around. Sarah with an h is always looking over my shoulder, rolling her eyes and saying things like, “Really? A book about your life? What’s the market like these days for historical novels?” Jayson sits across the room clicking away on his laptop, laughing hysterically at his own clever writing. And Bill reclines in the big easy chair, flipping though Entertainment Weekly. He has the ability to read a magazine and hold a conversation at the same time. “Stakes? You’re working on your character’s stakes? The only stakes you should be thinking about are the stakes your vampire needs to avoid.”
Sometimes I manage to make them shut up and leave me alone for a few hours, and then I actually get some work done. But most of the time they’re here with me, in my head, yammering away as I try to work. Except Jayson, of course. He completely ignores me at all times, which makes me even more paranoid.
Do you have house guests who live in your brain and drive you crazy?
Today I had lunch at an Italian cafe. It was a tiny town in the countryside, with views of the Tuscan mountains in the distance. The weather was very pleasant – warm, but with a light breeze. I had a chunk of fresh bread, not long from the oven, and a small dish of olives – green and black – with fresh feta cheese, all sitting in light olive oil. I piled some of the cheese onto the bread, then dipped it into the olive oil. I ate the olives alternately – one green, one black, one green, one black. From my table I watched an old Italian woman slowly make her way across the town square, holding tightly to her string bag as she headed to the market in search of tonight’s dinner. I followed my bread and cheese with an iced latte, which amused the group of old men a few tables away from me. They sipped their cups of espresso, occasionally dabbing their lips with white napkins as they offered each other the solutions to the world’s problems, as they did every day. I closed my eyes and just sat, living the moment, letting go of any agenda or expectations or thoughts of anything other than being in that cafe, sipping that latte.
Now I have to get back to today’s work. There are some workers banging hammers and sawing something at the house next door, right next to the window where I sit typing. Los Angeles is upwards of 90 degrees today and my non-air conditioned house is stifling. But the iced latte still tastes good.