Take Me To Your Lazy Leader.

Recently it was my 55th birthday and amazingly I managed not to cry, sulk, pout, brood, whine, or have a full-blown temper tantrum even though forces around me still insisted we celebrate.

I can’t say I comported myself with the same restraint during the parties of my youth. Every single birthday was a complete nightmare, though, like most children, I waited all year for my big day. The chaos which was the norm of my house seemed to amplify and my mother, who while well meaning, was way out of her depth and tended to retreat into a bottle of vodka while my playmates, without the structure of Pin The Tail On The Donkey, or musical chairs, turned into a pack of wilding ingrates, stealing my gifts, sticking hotdogs up their noses, or, as on my eleventh birthday, make kamikaze raids to take swigs of my mother’s vodka as she fumbled to put the candles on my cake. Naturally, my parties were the highlight of the year. Poor solace for a kid who wanted a mother who knew how to bake a cake that yielded foil wrapped coins and who didn’t feel it necessary to point out that our juvenile jokes, were, well, juvenile. “Really, Patrick, lighting a cow’s fart is hardly Noel Coward.” Continue reading “Take Me To Your Lazy Leader.”

Lies, Lies and more Lies. Will it ever stop? Let’s Hope Not.

It is not unusual to hear actors recount the moment on stage when they first made some-one laugh or cry and that was it, they were hooked, and from that day forward they knew exactly their purpose in life. I had a moment like that too, except, it was the first time I told a lie.

I was six years old standing on a mound of snow in a corner of the schoolyard trying to make clear to my kindergarten mates the difference between half and whole siblings and why, because both my parents had been married before, I had a smattering of both. This was Anglo-Montreal mid-1960’s and what I was telling them was pretty risqué, even so, as I looked into their enthralled faces, I knew I had to take my family story and run riot. I couldn’t be sure, I told them, that there weren’t many more potential half siblings lurking out there, after all, my father, a professional race car driver (he had raced a few races in England, never professionally) had lots of women throwing themselves at him (true, but I couldn’t have known that then) and that he only married my mother because she was famous (she had a column in a newspaper) and because she had threatened to strap me to the hood of his formula one car and abandon me forever rather than be left alone to raise a bastard child.

They are rather crude lies, I will admit, but I see that day as my true birth and the frisson, joy, and freedom of taking a kernel of truth and making it infinitely more interesting has held me in its grips ever since. Unfortunately, for me, there isn’t much of a career to be had in lying unless of course, you are a politician but then everyone knows you’re a liar so where’s the fun in that?

There are those who would say that I lie because I’m insecure, delusional, a boaster, not to be trusted. Yep.

After the Brian Williams story broke, one night lying in bed I began to wonder if I was so far gone, like he appears to be, that I couldn’t tell anymore which parts of my life were real. Is my IQ ridiculously high? If so, why am I such an idiot? Did Mickey Rourke beg me to sleep with him? If so, why didn’t I? Back in the day I slept with everyone, or did I? Did I really get malaria in Africa, or was it something boring like a rumbly tummy? Was I nearly kidnapped by a man on a horse in Turkey? Then I thought, who cares, the story is a good one.

My mind still roving freely my blood suddenly ran cold. Before me loomed my future and a new scary reality: the indisputable truth. With the cloud, surveillance cameras, Facebook, Twitter, Vine, GPS and god knows what other truth-ware stalking us rooting out fibs and fabrications, what chance do us liars have?

I was feeling pretty grim until something occurred to me. Yes, I ceded, there will be some awful truthful years, it might even last long enough to, in the light of history, be given a name like The Boring As Shit Epoch and there will be victims like Brian Williams, good liars who will be vilified and shunned from society. But one day, long mired in truth, we will rebel. The world, we’ll cry, can’t be this flat! So, even with cold hard facts staring us in the face, we won’t believe because the truth isn’t what we humans are all about. We, and we alone are raconteurs, spinners of yarns, rakes, rogues, story-tellers and that is no lie.

 

My Tucking Days

I’m about to move to Abu Dhabi because my husband, Charles, has landed a great new gig teaching creative non-fiction at NYUAD. I’m not worried about the move or the new job in particular. What has me up at night and utterly intimidated is that I’m going to have to decorate our new place…from scratch.

I grew up in a home where I really can’t remember my parents ever buying new furniture. If something was needed, either it was bought second-hand (an antique, darling) or my father built it…from scratch. Continue reading “My Tucking Days”

Cooking In Other People’s Kitchens

There I was, newly arrived in Australia, standing in my friend Chris’ kitchen at 3 o’clock in the morning, spinning in slow circles, every nerve quivering, my ear cocked trying desperately to figure out which of his uber-sleek modern appliances was ceaselessly pinging at that ungodly hour. Ahhh, other people’s kitchen.

Usually, I’m a good invader, swooping in armed with the short hand to the innate logic that rules the room that feeds us all. But Chris’ kitchen had none of the familiar benchmarks, even so, earlier that evening I went blindly forth figuring any woman with a knife can make friends with a stove. Continue reading “Cooking In Other People’s Kitchens”

Wanna Be A God? Shave Your Legs

I shave my legs every day, and I’m not even hairy, but no matter where I am, who I’m with, near water or not, ill, hung-over, harried or alone I will not let a day pass without drawing a razor up my shins. And because of this, I might very well be thought of as a god. Continue reading “Wanna Be A God? Shave Your Legs”

The Right Side Of History. In Three Parts

The Right Side Of History. In Three Parts.

One

When I was a little kid my older sister took great satisfaction in pointing out, because I’m allergic to fish (among many things), that had I been born an Inuit, I’d be dead. It didn’t take much to see myself wrapped in a bearskin, half starved, my disappointed mother wailing as my father, chief of the tribe, sent me off on my own child-sized ice floe to meet my fate. I realized then that it was sheer happenstance that I was born south of the Arctic Circle in a place full of food not hell bent on killing me and, from that point on, I have never taken for granted my place in the world and my moment in history. Continue reading “The Right Side Of History. In Three Parts”

Here’s To My Health, Or Not

I was a sickly child. Not the heart wrenching kind lying in bed with an ethereal faraway look in my eyes. Nor was I like Tiny Tim filling my family with wonder at my courage and pluck. I was the gross kind. Snotty, scratchy, wheezy, whiney.

I was born with a raft of allergies and my reaction to being exposed to fish or nuts, trees or grass, cats or fur dogs was in the extreme. (Although nothing like kids today. No one actually died by the hand of a peanut) I mean extreme in making me look and sound disgusting. My eyes would swell, seal shut and ooze, what can only be described as, white, viscous tears. My throat, beyond itchy, was relieved by making this loud reverse retching noise, a sound pitched to instantly put people’s teeth on edge. While I was scratching my throat, I was sticking pencil tips in my ears aimed to kill yet another itchy hotspot. Continue reading “Here’s To My Health, Or Not”

Small Luck

As luck would have it, a couple of Sundays ago I was alone at our—I hesitate to call it our Canadian country place, yes it’s in the country but the place is a trailer and it’s not even a double-wide, though I’m not snobby, after all, it protects us from the elements and it is definitely a refuge from New York City summers, anyhow, my husband was off on a magazine assignment and I was alone. So that morning I decided to do all the things that Charles and I never do on weekends, like watch Sunday Morning new shows. Watching a news show may not seem that radical but Charles tends to make rules and one of them is no TV during the day. Normally I buck authority but as a rule I am usually in agreement with his rules except for the one that says we can’t eat dinner before 9 pm. And that’s only because I am ten pounds heavier than I need be since everyone knows that no food should pass your lips after 5 pm if you want a fighting chance of ever seeing your hip bones. Continue reading “Small Luck”

Old Age? This Is How You Beat It? Say It Ain’t so.

It’s looming. Old age. And I’m obsessing. Stupidly. And preparing. Poorly. So far all I’ve got when I envision that thing that’s going to happen to me in about thirty years is a vague plan to kill myself. I’ll get death before death gets me sort of thing.

You would think having this fail-safe would allow me to live my present life free and easy. It doesn’t. I spend an inordinate amount of time gathering wisdom on how best to navigate the rocky shoals of decrepitude.

Yesterday, while chopping vegetables with one ear cocked to the radio, I heard the tail-end of a report that said the best way to stay young is to be social.

Oh great. I hate people. Continue reading “Old Age? This Is How You Beat It? Say It Ain’t so.”

Wait For It

Five months ago I submitted a novel I wrote to an editor. Five months! And it wasn’t to some small press manned by a lone book worm hoping to find a little gem to grind out on his hand-cranked printing machine, it was to a big respectable house. And, it wasn’t to some underling charged with ploughing through a year’s worth of built up MFA manuscripts either. My book was put directly in the hands of the head honcho. Five months and I’m still waiting. No, I take that back. I’ve been waiting my whole life. Waiting, apparently, is my life.

Continue reading “Wait For It”