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Author Updates

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

After a brief flirtation with psychotherapy (17 years), terminated with psychiatrist yesterday. Probably more in the spirit of It's-Not-Going-To-Get-Much-Better-Anyway than a major I'm-Healthy! surge of confidence. Or perhaps it was just that the parking situation near his office had become untenable. Felt mildly bereft all day, until deciding to frame the whole thing as a $600 per month salary increase. Lots of money to spend on much needed new clothes. Relief.

Later in the day, received student evaluations from last semester. Exceptionally positive, but as a testement to lack of intellectual rigor and academic seriousness, I was most pleased by comments from two different students praising wardrobe. "Incredible ability to wear pants." "Impeccable pants." Was buoyed up throughout the day in tragic way of all vain middle aged men, until struck by realization, on drive home, that both comments were likely meant in ironic, insulting way. Tacky clothes? Skinny legs? Suddenly, salary increase became irrelevant. What's the point of new wardrobe if all in bad taste and too scrawny to carry? Decided I should have stuck it out another decade or so with psychiatrist. Reminded myself of parking situation, and coasted into state of calm acceptance.

Posted by Stephen @ 10:41 AM EST

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Is it my imagination, or is there something encouraging in the fact that even the most earnest newscasters can't keep a straight face when reporting that Rev Haggard announced he'd been completely cured of his homosexuality after a few weeks in de-gaying camp? No one buying this, whereas, a decade earlier, they just might have. The whole rebirth story embarrassingly unconvincing, like, I don't know, listening to a writer tell you his novel about sexually compulsive behavior is not in any way autobiographical. All you can do is nod and try not to roll your eyes.

Reading Cheri by Colette in French for weekly class with Sandrine. Read it in English 25 years ago, but of course remember nothing. Have vague memory of finding the older woman character unsympathetic at that time because of her sexual hunger, unbecoming at her advanced age. Appalled to realize this time around that she is several years younger than me. Now confused by discussion of her affair with the much younger Cheri being her last, since it's obvious to me she's in her absolute prime. Not even.

Also reading Mrs Bridge by Evan Connell to discuss with writing class. Written in a series of short, pointed vignettes, each one a window into the character's repressed emotions and longings. One of those books that makes the whole process appear deceptively easy. Book becomes sadder each time I reread it, probably from knowing in advance what is coming. Watching the groundwork laid for the upcoming emotional train wrecks. Which I guess is one way of describing everyday life.

Posted by Stephen @ 07:35 PM EST

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Jury duty yesterday. Amazing how quickly people in a small, crowded room fall into type and play their roles. Nervous woman talking too quickly and loudly to sullen, silent man beside her: "With my luck I'll be sequestered for six months. Probably a relief for my husband. Hey, whatever." Pregnant woman wielding belly like a weapon against empanelment. Organized man-in-suit-who-knows-everything: "This is the sixth time I've done this. If you see the officer come in at 10:30, we'll be here all day." Guy with weird comb-over and brown bag lunch. Woman with large cross around her neck (nun?) carefully going through a stacks of manuscript pages. Etc. I suppose I fell into the person-trying-too-hard-to-make-eye-contact-with-cute-guy-in-white-shirt category. Hey, whatever. Whole atmosphere quickly takes on a sort of disaster movie tone with alliances forming and tension rising.

Found out two criminal cases set for the day, meaning entire jury pool would be empanelled. Fortunately, one defendant freaked out in violent way elevator to court room, causing postponement of trial, and some technicality delayed second. Everyone set free at 1pm. Except bosses, co-workers, spouses don't necessarily know that. So a naughty feeling of freedom palpable as jury pool files out of building. Person-trying-too-hard-to-make-eye-contact-with-cute-guy-in-white-shirt working overtime in elevator.

Posted by Stephen @ 12:16 PM EST

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Received in the mail yesterday copies of tomorrow's Washington Post Sunday Magazine. Wrote a story for their Valentine's Day issue. Five writers were sent photos and asked to choose one as inspiration for a love story of sorts. Chose a photo of a middle-aged woman looking at her reflection in the window of a moving train, and wrote something a little melancholy and overly descriptive.

The link to the story is :

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/02/07/AR2007020701352.html

In looking over the whole issue, wondered if I was expected to write a gay story. Or maybe the point is: I wish I had written a gay story. Didn't think of it at the time, and that was the photo that got my attention. Oh well.

Went skiing today in finally-wintery New Hampshire. Was reminded of a skiing experience from last year. Got on chair lift with older man and said, "Hi, how's it going?" His response was: "I'm 82 years old and I miss pussy." Immediately realized that this was going to be an EXCELLENT ride to the top. "You're a good looking guy," I said. "I'm sure you could get some if you wanted." "Nobody wants an old man like me fucking them," he said. "But when I was younger, I left sheep gasping." Not sure what he meant there, but wasn't keen on pursing that particular line. "Well, look," I said, "it's great you can still...perform and everything." "Oh sure," he said. "And besides, you know what I say: If you can't cut the mustard you can always lick out the jar." "Good point. Nice weather today, isn't it?" Fortunately, the diversionary tactic failed. Another 10 minutes of astonishing filth ensued, much of it committed to memory. At the top of the mountain, he skiied off (excellent form, ladies!) and I pulled out cell phone, called my brother, and thanked him for insisting I get back into skiing. Considerable expenses all well worth this one conversation alone. Considered using it somewhere, but the truth is, one of those things that's funny because it's true. In fiction, would probably fall flat.

Posted by Stephen @ 05:56 PM EST

Thursday, February 8, 2007

Was recently informed that if I don't start putting up entries again here, people will assume I'm dead. Not all that alarming a thought. Many of the people who spend time with me on a regular basis assume, based on the liveliness of my conversation, that I'm dead.

In any case. Have just asked for and received an extension from publisher for new novel. A huge relief. I'm planning on it being a short novel anyway, but they're bound to expect more than those opening three sentences I've been nursing for the past year. But the threat of legal action is always helpful in getting me moving.

Learned that "La Verite ou Presque," the French film adaptation of "True Enough," is complete--editing, sound, and all. Will most likely be released in the fall. Also, about to start a week-long workshop with actors, director, and producer of the play Anita Diamant and I wrote together. "A Little Work." These two things make me feel marginally less marginal despite slow progress on new novel, tentatively titled: "My Husband." Will perhaps post small section here to see if anyone's interested.

Teaching at Brandeis. Lively and opinionated class with lots of talent. Very pleasing. Have been wearing ties which seem to give me more energy. Go figure. Did not get hired for long-term position, a disappointment. (Health care coverage.) Wonder if it had anything to do with the ties.

Determined to liven up life so as to have something to post here. Or else will just make stuff up.

Posted by Stephen @ 03:38 PM EST

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