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”

Dropped Balls

Last week my younger sister, Sophie, came to town with her teenage daughter, Frankie. It happened to be my birthday but that’s not why they had flown in from L.A. to New York. They had come east so Frankie could tour colleges.

Birthdays don’t elicit much emotion anymore, but wandering around a college campus whether urban or suburban had both my sister and I grappling with all sorts of feelings, the two most paramount being regret and envy. Our own schooling was spotty at best.

After we had been shown the libraries, the cafeterias, the common rooms, the lecture halls and the dorm rooms, my sister and I headed straight for a bar. Continue reading “Dropped Balls”

Talking: The Difference Between Men and Me.

Recently, I went to see the new Robert Redford movie All Is Lost. It’s pretty good, except for the bit when he finds himself in the shipping lane and twice fails to draw the attention of a passing ship. But what really struck me, and what seemed utterly foreign, was that through all his travails he didn’t talk to himself. In fact, through the whole film, which spans eight days, the only words he utters are “Oh Fuck” or something to that effect. He is obviously not a woman. Continue reading “Talking: The Difference Between Men and Me.”

Here’s What I Think

On the night before my family was to visit Montreal’s Expo 67 for the first time, my mother, holding a wooden spoon as a microphone, pretended to interview all us kids about what we thought of our own world’s fair replete with exhibits from around the world. I can’t remember how wonderful and pithy our answers were just that we were cocky, funny and falling over each other to have a moment at the spoon/mic.

The next day, clad in these bizarre green capes that mother had brought back from a recent trip to Austria, (think the Von Trapp children) we headed off for our day at the fair. We were barely through the gates when a reporter spotted my mother, who, because of her column and TV show, was something of a minor celebrity, and rushed over to interview us. With a real microphone thrust in our faces, we three girls acted like sea anemones under attack. The shier we got the shier we got until all three of us were huddled behind my mother while she, mortified, tried to coax us out. Nothing doing. Continue reading “Here’s What I Think”

The Perils Of Being Married

I’m married, which, over the years, has had numerous baffling effects on me but none more so than what sort of person I am when I’m alone and what sort of person I am when my husband is around.

Charles is often away on assignment, he writes for The New York Times Magazine among others, and when he is gone I handle everything, with aplomb I might add. Take the dogs. We have three and because one, Roz, is really old she has to be walked separately, which means taking her down six floors, bringing her back up and then taking the other two on their real walk in the park and this needs to be done three times a day! It’s exhausting but I do it, along with remembering to move the car from one side of the street to the other, all while keeping up the house and doing my own work. Continue reading “The Perils Of Being Married”

Brains and Toes

I’m lying awake in the middle of the night staring at the ceiling unable to sleep because everything hurts. I was once told you can’t feel pain in two places, maybe that’s true, but define place, because right now that place is all of me.

I’m not a wimp about pain, at least I don’t think I am. I’m not reaching for a pain killer or low moaning, or thinking about jumping out the window. In fact, I’m sort of sentimental about this pain because I, and this might be middle-of-the-night-madness, believe this pain is memory. My body is remembering every bump, bruise, tear, break, fever, itch, every mysterious something that my body has been subjected to for the last fifty-three years. Continue reading “Brains and Toes”