I like this piece as it is a personal ass-kicker. And see I wrote something without waiting for the Muse.
I always think these talents who aren’t rap stars or troubled addicts will just grow old and die. But Mr. Hamlisch wasn’t terribly old. But he did die. I also think these famous, non-toxic folk die in their own beds with high thread counts, a secretary taking dictation and thus some warning about all this. I know ultimately that the dead really don’t care about what they are missing here, but as a mere mortal I always wonder, did they know at the time “you have just eaten the last artichoke you will ever have IN YOUR LIFE?!”
I picture Marvin walking down Hollywood Blvd. past Danny Kaye’s star on his way to have some prime rib and a martini at Musso and Frank’s. But he never gets there. No more martini’s. No more red banquets. He never had time for another lemon or to thrust his legs skyward on a swing set. He won’t listen to “This Will Be” on his headphones one more time and he will go to his grave without having worn cashmere again or seen his friend Barbra or played with Lego. What about the beach? He didn’t get to see the ocean again or friggin’ Paris. What about reading “To Kill A Mockingbird” one more time or sitting in the Park watching “Raiders of the Lost Ark’ with 100s of strangers? Not his cup of tea maybe, but still he has, er, had an equivalent.
I am not afraid of death, I am afraid of life ending. I can accept (gladly?) that I will never read Paradise Lost again and if I never have another papaya, I am okay. But life just seems like it will be on an endless, exciting loop like being chased through The Flinstone’s house by Dino and see the background repeat. And one day it will not continue or repeat. It will just end. No chocolate shake or last run down a slope.
I need to hear the overture to “Carousel” and have lox and a bagel washed down with fresh berry cobbler and vanilla ice cream. I need to hear a bagpipe contest and see my nieces and nephews. I have to say goodbye to Jan and eat at Zuni Cafe. But I know that I would trade it all in to be in love with one person and to be in bed and held in his arms one last night. After he brings me some cobbler.
David Rakoff died yesterday. Plenty of people are writing about him. He was a funny, David Sedaris protegé writer. My friend Lisa in California called me a couple of years ago and told me about him and said I just had to listen to him and read him. She suggested that we were so alike. Hmmm? What does that mean? That was more thrilling to me than we looked alike. I am always nervous to see what people think I look like on the faces of others: Alan Rickman? Really?
But David Rakoff was a funny, published, NPR Canadian Jew who lived in New York. Read him? I wanted to date him. Funny. NPR. Canadian. Jew. New York. are all tags I would love to use on my own bio. Maybe I didn’t want to date him but wanted instead to be him. But Lisa told me I already was him. Too much for one man to handle. Would need to take this to the couch and discuss with a pro.
David was (is?) two years younger than I. He had his arm removed to try to stop cancer. My father was (is? nah.) a podiatrist and his foot was deformed from diabetes. Ironic, I thought. And David Rakoff’s arm contained a hand and fingers: writer’s tools. Ironic. Isn’t it?
So we never got to meet, we never got to date. I am still sad he is gone. I admire him for his life and it was not a waste but it was still short.
My reason to start up writing a blog again was twofold – to write a novel and to lose 20 pounds. Most people achieve writing a novel by writing a novel and losing pounds by dieting and exercising. I am not saying that I am trying to sneak around these time-tested methods, but I feel blogging is one of the best ways for me to express and develop my “voice.” And OHMYGOD – to talk about my weight. Ergo, I think I will really end up writing a novel and losing 20 lbs because I started Cafe Blah Blah. Let’s see. But onto today’s topic: Sugar Free
After putting down the bottle and the fags, sugar appeared as my new lover, confidante, the substance that understood me. I could not live without it yet it was causing me to buy cheap trousers with waistlines that I planned never don. Sugar has caused me headaches. And participate in solo ice cream orgies where if there were a nanny-cam present i would die of embarrassment. I mean loads and loads of ice cream with chocolate sauce and then followed by a bowl with maple syrup on it and then a bowl of just plain vanilla ice cream to cleanse the palette. What happened to a book? Brushing my teeth? Or taking a lover?
My friend Brad came to visit from LA this weekend. He always promised he would bake a pie. Today he made a peach and bramble pie for me and my roommate. Latticed. Lovely. It became our lovely, compassionate sugar swansong. Both roomie and I gorged on this lovely pie topped with the finest vanilla ice cream and did a burial at sea via the garbage chute of all the rest of the sugar in our apartment. Gone. Tomorrow we start the withdrawal and the freedom.
We say we love our imacs and our family photos and all those other things we would grab when our house is on fire. And I suppose we do to some degree. But when I think of something that I really identify with on a level that cannot be explained it is these bowls that I bought in Little Toyko in downtown LA. It was a set of four bowls that were deep and blue and white like Japanese Delft. I think they may have been ramen bowls but I never knew their real purpose. For me they were cereal/ice cream/soup/salad/pudding/noodles/rice bowls.
I bought them because I loved them. I was not looking, but just happened upon them and fell hard. Like that guy in the tuxedo I saw after the concert and I could not explain to myself the intensity of my attraction. It wasn’t planned, I wasn’t looking, but he took my breath away. (Until he opened his mouth and it was over.) Not these bowls! I loved them way after I left them. I loved them not because they were validated on an Oprah list or in a friend’s house or they were something that would get me status points. They were probably one of the most sincere purchases of my life.
When I had two weeks to leave LA and move to New York I gave them away or sold them or some such thing. I don’t know why I didn’t put them under my sister’s house with my books. Of all the things I left behind from my apartment in LA it is these bowls I think of the most. I find i have things that I say I love like Shakespeare and the moon landing and my iphone. But not on the level of Bob Fosse, Modigliani and these bowls.
Had dinner the other night with a friend from LA. We both put our iphones on the table like they were cutlery. “Iphone, then salad fork then dinner fork” etc. It used to be rude to have your phone out during dinner, but now it is “post rude.” Which in my book means it is still rude, but we all do it so it is okay. And then there is a light up text during salad. We have it at the ready in case we must make a decision of whether to bomb a country immediately or not? What could possible be so vital that we need our phones out? Neither one of us is waiting for a kidney. Or a call from a baby sitter.
Then there is the “Sorry, I need to take this.” My cherry has not be broken on that one. Yet. Even though I react to my iphone like it is a dialysis machine, I would never actually take a call during dinner. I just need to see what call I am not taking? Maybe it reduces the stress of all the buzzing in your pants. You can see immediately who is trying to contact you. Remember when it had to wait until you were done with the whole meal to check? Remember before that when you didn’t have a cell phone (not really, huh?) and you had to wait until you got back to your office or home to check your messages? Remember before that when there were no messages and the phone just rang until the person gave up? (I have now lost half my audience)
Dinner now is a conversation between old friends catching up interspersed with glances outside the intimacy of breaking bread to see who may be texting us. Mine usually are just sweet hellos from friends followed by emoticons. And we tell ourselves we are just going to show each other pictures on our iphone to illustrate our catching up. Admittedly we do Google to settle an argument or find out which Bradley starred in that film. But really we cannot not know what is going on with our buzzes and duck quacking and harp playing emanating from our lifelines.
In the old days after cigarettes were banned in restaurants we would light up immediately upon leaving the restaurant. And now we cannot let 5 seconds pass after the air hug goodbye to check out email.
Waiter, I need to scan my check.
I want to:
1. Write a novel
2. Lose 20 Pounds
I thought about my to do list: exercise, write, read, practice bagpipes, buy apartment, relationship. And then I boiled it down. Though a strainer. What are the main things and why.
Lose 20 pounds. Why I want this is clear and easy: I will look and feel better and my clothes will fit. Plus it will help with my sugary, bingey nature. And this incorporates “exercise” off the expanded list. Perhaps it also incorporates: bagpipes, relationship and apartment. Not sure.
Write a Novel and get it Published This over fall in love and buying an apartment? Really, Muse? Yes, I was born to write for some reason. I struggle and avoid it. I thought I was born to dance. Or please others. Or be medium. Not A medium. Just “medium.” But I think writing is what I am supposed to do. I always thought others were supposed to do this and maybe they are, but I thought that some muse came to them. Like an archangel or the Ghost of Christmas Past. Or they all went to school for it. No. They just wrote and got rejected and wrote.
I got rejected when I applied to grad school at Hunter College for Creative Writing with this piece: Vienna Waits for You.
I got accepted when I wrote this piece for The New York Times: Modern Love
I am going to write again. And get rejected again. But I will get accepted again too. “The secret to writing is writing.” If I had a really good paragraph for every time I heard that.
So write a novel and lose 20 pounds. Write a novel about losing 20 pounds? Write so much I forget to eat? I not sure the two are or will be tied. But there it is out there.
I used to write a http://www.manhatin.blogspot.com and I write sometimes on fierceandnerdy.com, but my new home is cafeblahblah.com I have been looking to start fresh. Have a more open place to write. My goal out of this blog is to write a novel. Sorry, write and publish a novel. I could have called it “Test Kitchen” or “Spaghetti on the Wall” but I chose Cafe Blah Blah because it cross pretension with bullshit. This is perhaps where I am today. At that crossroads. The air is thin here and the ground is squishy.
Please follow my blog if you like. Give feedback once I get up and running and share posts if you feel like.
I am going to write slice of life still and also ask questions, vomit on the page, and add photos. Thanks.