Unhitched

I wake these mornings without the daily dread of a deadline. Like the dog that sleeps in the bed with you, I sigh and turn onto one side for ten minutes to look out the window. Then I sigh again and turn to my other side. I think about Time. Then I shift to my back, take up my phone and read about the daily horrors as recounted on the various news sites. After that, I really sigh, and as antidote, read my book for ten minutes, which right now is The Boys in the Boat.

I read this book both because a young person to whom I am deeply committed recommended it and because as a lover of old things – see awesome photo – I delight in being transported back to a long-ago time like the 1930s, when the action in that true story occurs.

old house

You wonder who once sat on these porches of a summer night, with the dews descending and the fireflies winking.

Speaking of summer nights, this summer just ending has been a strange one for me, because for the first time since the years when gals wore poufy hair like this…

alexis-carrington-joan-collins-dynasty

…I have not been filing a weekly column. And as it stands I’m not going to be filing any, until October at the soonest.

I both chose this non-writing path and had it chosen for me in that the parent company that owns most of the papers I appear in announced in July it had no budget for freelancers at least until then. I know I could have done a Gandhi and kept writing for free but to do so would break solidarity with my brothers and sisters in the scribbling game. For about six hours after hearing the news though, I did feel I should go on sending a fresh column to the other papers that subscribe to me column and are not part of this giant chain. But then, sitting outside the dry cleaners at around 4 that afternoon, it dawned on me that this could be the universe sending me a message.

I asked the editors of these independent papers if they‘d mind my taking a break and they couldn’t have been nicer. “Take it!“ they said. “Take it by all means and we’ll be glad to have you back in October.”

And so I decided, I would take the time, and wouldn’t I have scads of it!

I didn’t have scads of it, of course. For one thing, our span of time is brief and swiftly passing no matter what we are doing. And for another, there were some family events, some joyful in the extreme and some that same degree of terrifying and to them I turned all my attention.

But over these weeks I did learn this, I did learn this: I learned that I feel at my happiest when I write, and that I feel most lost and somehow lonely when I don’t.

So, I’m back, ready to catch more small moments of Time in my little net and tell of them here.

Of course we writers never know who is reading what we write, if indeed anyone reads any more, but that’s fine. It’s the writing that counts, the saying what we saw. I have always felt my purpose in life was to do just that. Just as it says in that early-days Elton John song with its lyrics by the great Bernie Taupin, “My gift is my song and this one’s for you.”

 

 

Dishing

I feel like I went to high school with Elton John; that’s how connected to him I feel. When I first heard “Your Song” on the radio I felt this shudder of familiarity. Was I thinking I knew that voice? Or was it those lovely understated words, penned by the great Bernie Taupin? Maybe anyone who was around in the 70s gets that twinge of nostalgia at the thought of a pair of platform shoes. Elton took the fashions of that decade and just kind of magnified them.

But really my topic today is how everyone thinks he’s an expert on the celebrities. Back in the 60s people around here would say “Oh sure Joan Baez, she really slept around.” That that casual piece of slander made me furious and kept me that even after I saw the 2009 American Masters documentary about her where she says basically ‘I was pretty promiscuous for a while there, whatever that was all about.” (Ah what a great human being she really is. In my book she took that sliver-of-mercury voice God gave her and wrapped a whole lot of goodness around it.)

Here’s what I’m sayin’:  Just because someone who supposedly knows someone swears that story about Richard Gere, say, is really true doesn’t mean a thing . To that I say “Eh.” My kid was in Mark Zuckerberg’s class at Harvard and though he ‘knew’ him and saw him around he doesn’t pretend to know a thing worth mentioning about him. I was in Julie Nixon’s class at Smith  but I too feel I can say nothing at all about what she was like except to mention that she had a rapid blink, probably arising from the fact that her dad was the president – and that in an age when most men looked like the Twelve Apostle she was shadowed wherever she went by a couple of  buzzcut Secret Service agents straight out of Central Casting.

I did ride down in the elevator of the Hotel Northampton with her mother Pat Nixon when we were both overnight guests there. She had stayed there because she was visiting Julie and her new husband David Eisenhower. I was there because by the time I got drinking those 25-cent beers at the City Cafe it was too late to get back into the dorm. I called in the overnight as you had to do in those days and the local boy I was with gallantly got me a room that I hasten to add he never set foot in. He pressed the Up button on the elevator, gave me a peck on the cheek and went back to the bar to meet up with his buds.

Ancient history you say? Nah, it was only yesterday. My hero Thoreau said it: “Time is but the stream I go a-fishing in. I drink at it; but while I drink I see the sandy bottom and detect how shallow it is.”  (My mom went to high school with him I think.) 

Now let’s bow our heads and listen to Elton when he was but lad in his early 20s.