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Friday, May 26, 2006

More problems related to the vanity issue. And own lack of discretion, I suppose. Told Ms. A. I thought Ms. B. must have had Botox injections due to flawless, unwrinkled complexion. Ms. A reported back to Ms. B. who was upset at me for thinking she’d Do Such A Thing. (If I had the money, I would Do Such A Thing. Maybe.) I thought—worst case scenario—my comments were at least flattering.

Then, at a dinner party last night, I reported over dessert a problem with teeth grinding. (Poor excuse for dinner conversation, I confess.) Ms. C. said she’d had Botox injected in jaws to help her with a similar problem she’d had. “Did you ask them to do your forehead at the same time?” I joked. Ms. C. furious that I would Suggest Such A Thing. “I only meant, you look great,” I said. “You do,” Ms. D. told Ms. C. “In fact, I was sure you’d had a facelift.” I was relieved, convinced Ms. D.’s comment surely trumped mine for lack of tact. Instead, Ms. C. blamed me for bringing up the subject in the first place. I blamed my dentist for bringing up the grinding business. And so on. (Dessert some sort of low-carb ricotta cheese thing that did little to lift anyone’s spirits.)

Earlier in the day, was accused of being “profoundly pessimistic.” Countered that I was simply a “realist.” Now realize this is simply more evidence to support pessimist accusation.

Posted by Stephen @ 10:55 PM EST

Monday, May 22, 2006

Black tie musical evening at residence of local writer, musician, and bon vivant. (And massage therapist.) A three-thousand square foot apartment in Back Bay done in elaborate Empire style, with Chinese silks, Old Master paintings, and Louis XIV furniture. All presented with happy generosity and somehow or other—miraculously—complete lack of pretension. Light of day seems never to have entered any of the rooms, giving the entire apartment a seductive timeless atmosphere. Anything going on on the other side of the silk draperies seems irrelevant. (Would have been nice, for example, to have spent a few weeks there after the last election.) Cheese and (middling) Champagne at 5:30. At 7:30, elevator (which opens into apartment) arrives. Handsome man in tux steps out and silently sits down at piano. Hour-long program ensues: Beethoven’s “Waldstein” Sonata only the beginning. Ravel, Debussy, etc. All played on grand piano with pedigree too refined for me to appreciate. All played with burning passion and intensity for gathering of twenty. Out of another century. And not necessarily the 20th.

Felt simultaneously lucky and privileged to have been invited and a bit like a fraud for being there. As if I didn’t belong. Unworthy. Etc. Then again, that’s how I felt at my own birthday party last year. My…”30th.”

Just finished reading wonderful novel (Mitz by Sigrid Nunez) about L and V Woolf’s marmoset. Marmoset (not housebroken, btw) routinely carried on L’s shoulder to dinner parties, lectures, and assorted social gatherings. It, undoubtedly, felt less out place than I usually do. Possibly a lesson in there somewhere?

Posted by Stephen @ 10:14 AM EST

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Complicated situation involving recently hired cleaning people. Leave a “wish list” for cleaning people each visit, jobs that need doing. Return to find “Your wishes have come true” scribbled across the bottom of page along with many exclamation points and grinning faces. Problem is, jobs are never done. Furniture moved around and wastebaskets lined with plastic grocery bags, but otherwise little evidence of cleaning. Exclamation points and grinning faces make it difficult to confront them. But hate to think of all that money spent for nothing, so to save face, forced to do extra cleaning myself and then pretend it was done by recently hired cleaning people. Then forced to spend even more money discussing the situation with shrink. This relationship, like all relationships, will undoubtedly run for a while on dysfunction and denial and then explode in confrontation fueled by pent up anger and resentment. In the meantime, in anticipation of breakup, flirting online with other cleaning services.

Heard from Sam Karmann that French film version of True Enough (La Verite Ou Presque) about to go into pre-production in France. Actual filming to start late August. Excellent cast including Karin Viard and Andre Dussolier. Filming to take place in Lyon, French substitute for Boston. Script reasonably faithful to novel, lots of similar dialogue and scenes. A few choices I wouldn’t have made, but that’s that.

Rain finally stopped and Amazon problem fixed. Sick dog back to normal--whatever that means for 18-year-old dog. All in all, a good day. Wishes came true. Although not about dusting of Venetian blinds.

Posted by Stephen @ 10:40 PM EST

Monday, May 15, 2006

Major flooding throughout eastern Massachusetts due to 13 inches of rain in the past 3 days. And yet, after Katrina, it seems ridiculous to even talk about it too much. My own property has so far dodged the bullet. Spent a portion of yesterday helping a friend bail out his basement with cracked plastic buckets. Fleeting illusion of doing something to minimize damage until overwhelmed with utter futility of the project leading to roasted cashew binge.

Dinner last night with friends. Talk mostly of politics and flooding. Inability to concentrate on conversation due to peculiar hairdo of one friend. Sort of demented rooster idea held in place with wax or powerful fixative. Hairdo friend offering intelligent insights into mid-term elections with emphasis on careful state-by-state analysis. All very interesting until eyes wandered up to crazed rooster hairdo. Hopelessly shallow of me, but had trouble reconciling insights with glued in place rooster situation. Tried to keep eyes below hairline level, but urge to glance upward irresistible as picking at a scab.

Learned today from young friend that this is a called a faux-hawk and is very in. Fact that this aberration has an actual name made me feel much better about the whole evening.

Posted by Stephen @ 11:30 PM EST

Saturday, May 13, 2006

With its amazingly single-minded blame-the-messenger attitudes, rapidly collapsing Bush administration brings to mind X with whom I used to have coffee now and again a few years ago. As soon as we sat down, he’d start ranting about how intolerable his marriage was, all due to the fact that wife was insanely jealous. Constantly accusing him of having an affair, going through his belongings to find evidence, making both their lives miserable with her accusations.

“She’s driving me crazy. I can’t take it anymore. It’s a sickness.”

After a few such meetings, cautiously pointed out to him that, in fact, he WAS having an affair.

“Yes, but she doesn’t know that,” he said. “She has no proof.”

Finally stopped meeting for coffee because he always claimed he didn’t have any money on him. I was certain he did, but had no proof.

Collapsing presidency and massive servings of incompetence on all levels are creating Fall of the Roman Empire ambiance. Minimal attempts to address the problems, energy all focused instead on stopping the news reports pointing out the problems. Where will it lead?

In the case of X, he and wife went into therapy to deal with her jealousy and to get her on medication. As far as I know, they're still together. Doesn’t bode well for impeachment.

Posted by Stephen @ 01:33 PM EST

Monday, May 8, 2006

Meeting last Friday with producer who is interested in doing something with the play Anita and I wrote. It’s either a “drawing room comedy” or a “boulevard comedy.” Don’t know what the distinction is exactly, but since “drawing room comedy” sounds more dignified, will assume it’s in the “boulevard” category. The title is “A Little Work.” The subject is vanity. To be more precise, plastic surgery.

Oddly enough, shortly after meeting with producer, met a man of indeterminate age who’d clearly had some surgical restoration work done on his face. Not that he looked bad, but there was something odd and unsettling about his appearance. The glassy smoothness of his skin, the wide, slightly startled look in his eyes, the poutiness in his lips. Couldn’t help but think that wrinkles would have been preferable, but perhaps just trying to reassure myself that the increasingly scrotum-like texture of my own face is better left alone.

Feeling as if obsession with the body, from healthy fitness regimes to all-out body dysmorphic disorders will factor in next novel. Not that I know anything about any of it. Although there are all those baldness “cures” in the bathroom cabinet. And the towels-over-the-mirrors phase. Something to think about rather than pondering the Amazon disaster.

Posted by Stephen @ 04:53 PM EST

Tuesday, May 2, 2006

Currently in despair over fact that Alternatives to Sex is, more or less, unavailable on Enter title of book and you’re brought to a dead end involving the as-yet-unreleased paperback edition. Computer glitch of some kind. No idea how this happened, and no one seems to be able to get it repaired. Publisher aware of it, but unable to change it. Started last week and will continue until next. Meaning that the book will have been unavailable through the most important source for nearly two weeks of its brief life cycle.

Really bad part is that it gives me something else to talk about on subject of new book just when everyone I know is thoroughly sick of hearing anything about it.

On the plus side, computer glitch makes it so complicated and time-consuming to check sales rank that I’ve given up that time-waster. I now have more hours to spend scrolling through the bad news on HuffingtonPost and and watching the clips of Stephen Colbert at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner over and over again.

Posted by Stephen @ 08:38 PM EST

Monday, May 1, 2006

Because almost every place-name in LA is iconic, even the most mundane tasks glow with importance. Walking down Santa Monica Boulevard, exiting the 405, making a left onto Sunset. Would this feeling fade over time or would one’s daily life and grocery shopping seem to be drenched with glamour? In Boston, place-names are historically significant but culturally irrelevant. Bunker Hill. OK, but did The Kinks or Tom Waits ever writer a song about it?

Whilst in LA, I feel pleasantly irrelevant in a sea of insignificant glamour. It’s all very relaxing. Despite lack of famed sunshine and hectic schedule, trip was great fun. Overheard lots of cliché conversations about screenplays. Sea of glamour.

Everything winding down. Book promotion, teaching, travel. Ordinarily, I would like this, but leaves a great deal of room for the what-next question. Several projects underway, but I can feel incoming tide existential malaise in ocean of irrelevance. Someone, please, Block That Metaphor.

Posted by Stephen @ 09:47 AM EST

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