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This is basically a writing diary where I write all kinds of stuff that will be immensely boring to anyone who stumbles across it.

Don't be so gloomy. After all it's not that awful. Like the fella says, in Italy for 30 years under the Borgias they had warfare, terror, murder, and bloodshed, but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, and the Renaissance. In Switzerland they had brotherly love - they had 500 years of democracy and peace, and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock. So long Holly. ---- Harry Lime

Longing for the Purple Trees of China

When I was a kid, I figured trees in China had to be blue. Or yellow. Or purple. Or maybe they were upside down, roots in the sky, branches underground. Or maybe they didn’t have branches and leaves at all but feathery fronds and oval discs of translucent celluloid that made music when the winds blew through them. The Chinese sky wasn’t sky blue but a greenier aquamarine or maybe a kind of opalescent mauve. And the sun was square and cherry-colored…

China was a place about as far away as I could possibly imagine, so things had to be really, really different there, right?

Places that were closer to home wouldn’t be quite as different, I figured. England, for example, probably had blue skies and a yellow sun just like here, but there would still be curious deviations in the plants and animals that you wouldn’t see here. That’s why unicorns and griffins had thrived in England! That’s why there was so much history there and so relatively little history here.

And that’s why I wanted to travel: to see how different things were other places.

I was very disappointed when I actually began to travel in my late teens—I spent all my modeling $$$$ on travel and college tuition—and discovered, No, stuff is pretty much the same the world over.

People did speak different languages. There were different brands on the store shelves.

But those were artifacts. Artifacts don’t count.

Acid trips were far more satisfactory than physical travel in that regard.

###

A handful of times, I found myself in situations that felt, if they did not look, palpably different. Once in Cairo, on an elevated walkway high above al-Tahrir Square—the locals all wore pajamas and walked counterclockwise, and Ann Duerr and I, the only females in sight, wanted to walk clockwise—I remember feeling as though I was a foreign protein and that the entire Egyptian culture was an antibody reaction specifically targeting me.

Another time, I flew from San Francisco to New York, and when I got out of the airport, summer slapped me across the face. Humidity! And a kind of jungle lushness even in the ailanthus trees struggling to grow out of broken concrete. You don’t have humidity in California.

Those moments were rare though.

Mostly, what I’ve found is that every place is really the same unless you work really, really hard to force your imagination into overdrive.

###

Anyway, I am very, very grumpy because I can’t exercise.

My knee feels better: It doesn’t actually hurt now; it just feels stiff.

But I know if I try to run or even hike, it’s gonna start hurting.

Everything feels the same. This game sanctuary that I was lucky enough to be stashed in when the Universe rescued me is still and boring, and my imagination has gone out on strike, which means I’m having problems writing The Story.

I tell myself, Ignore that. Writing is no more mystical than sitting down in a chair and typing words into an MSWord file.

But, of course, I don’t believe that for a second. No! Shakespeare has to be dictating from the other side of the ether. Otherwise, fuggetaboutit.

Yesterday, I toiled for the Scut Factory, traded texts with B and Bachelor # 3 from the Stoopid Internet Dating Site, finished Reading Like a Writer, cooked three pounds of collard greens, sussed out the Bluetooth issue I was having with my electronics, and painted my fingernails a shiny metallic orange—can’t really justify paying for manicures while I’m doing so much gardening since gardening ruins manicures.

What more should I be doing?

Something.

Something…

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Little Megan liked the Eleanor Roosevelt story.

“It’s so imaginative!” she said. “You’re such a good writer!”

She’s a reader. If I still had my immense library, I could dig out other things for her to read. But I don’t see her as a John LeCarré fan.

She’s very bored.

“I mean—it’s all very pretty and everything. But there’s nothing to do!”

I laughed. “Yes, my youngest son—he’s two years older than you—absolutely refuses to come visit me here. He says it’s too dull. And if I were your age, I’m sure I’d go mad. But, of course, I’m not, so instead I feel like a member of an endangered species on extremely beautiful game preserve. Look! No lions!”

“But I don’t think of you as old,” Little Megan said. “I mean, I do. You are. But I don’t.

Which I guess was a compliment.

###

I fucked up my knee again yesterday by going for an extremely long walk. Not a run; a walk.

It’s definitely a pronation thing since pains were shooting up from my right ankle into my knee all last night, making it difficult to sleep. So, new shoes. Orthotics. There’s a very famous store in Saugerties, Montano’s, that sells reasonably attractive orthotic shoes.

And I guess I’ll have to restrict activity for at least two weeks.

I daydream sometimes about an excuse to do absolutely nothing but lie in bed for a week watching baaaaad TV. (Of course, I don’t own a TV, so I’d really be watching baaaaad iPad.) A peculiar thing would happen as I watched: The Law & Order episodes on the various streaming networks I subscribe to would cross-pollinate and reproduce; there would be dozens and dozens of new episodes I’d never seen before! Plus Inspector Wexfords from novels that Ruth Rendell had continued writing, apparently from beyond the grave! And I would be happy, happy, happy. Doing nothing, nothing, nothing.

Of course, since I am answerable to no one these days, it’s not as though I need an excuse to lie in bed all day and watch baaaad TV.

But I can’t let myself.

I look at L’s boyfriend Chris who is actually two years younger than I am and whom I like but about whom I’m going to say something extremely uncharitable: He looks like Mr. Potatohead or a big lump of Play-Dough. There’s this head on this body. Little stick arms and legs are sticking out but the body is just this big bulbous mass with absolutely no definition.

Everywhere he goes, he carts about this huge medicine chest filled with all the pills he takes. Forty percent of his conversation is about his allergies and his back pain, and another 20% of his conversation is about how much better this place used to be before [your change goes here] fucked it all up.

That’s what old people are like, I remind myself.

Old people are all around me here on the beautiful Hudson Valley game preserve.

And the only thing that stands between me and them are those three-mile runs I do three or four times a week plus those projects I’m involved in that I never talk to people in my daily life about.

Write those short stories. Finish that damn novel. Do those art projects and leave them anonymously in the library stacks! Stake up those tomato plants! Knock on doors for Antonio Delgado! Run.

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Dreams, Food, Writing

Dreamed I was a nurse again in a field operation. On the upper floor of an abandoned house near the front line, I found an old, old man and a baby. Neither was wounded, but both were showing signs of hideous neglect—soaked in urine, starving etc. I scuttled back and forth between them, trying to bathe them, trying to feed them. Every time I focused on one of them, I’d think, But you’re neglecting the other one, leaving the other one in an unsafe situation! So it was very nerve-wracking until I woke up!

L and I took Caro out to lunch at Bocuse. Little Megan came, too. Food was excellent as always, though no real standout dishes. I had poached turbot, which was good but not great:



For dessert, we had lavender ice cream, which Benito made tableside. Again: good but not great.



We took Caro out so that she’d have the opportunity to see her husband in action before they go back to Utah.

Caro did not even thank us, but that is just Caro. She doesn’t have good manners. I suspect that if you’re not LDS, for Caro, you don’t really exist. Mormons are a bit like Hasidim in that respect. I don’t hold that against her particularly. One does things because one wants to do things, not as a means of extorting slavering protestations of gratitude from others.

###

Send me your story about Eleanor Roosevelt’s childhood!, Little Megan texted me later that afternoon.

Third time she’d asked, so I finally sent it. Little Megan is doing archival work at the FDR Library this summer, some of which involves ER. I’m sure she doesn't know what she was asking for. She’d probably envisioned an Anne of Green Gables-ish romp. Buck-toothed Ellie! Highjinx in the Hudson Valley!

Instead she’s getting a Turn of the Screw homage written in high-Victorian, Downton Abbey patois! With a guest appearance by an incestuous ghost!

I am not going to ask her what she thinks of it.

###

Meanwhile, I’m down to the last couple of scenes in Neversink. Two possible endings suggest themselves:

(1) Alison follows the stag out into the forest with the implication that she’s gonna die in the forest.

(2) Alison follows the stag out into the forest with the implication that she’s gonna metamorphose into a deer herself.

Of course, Ovid's ghost is prancing up and down next to me, screeching, Door Number 2, girlfriend! Door Number 2!!

Also, the name "Alison" is very wrong for this character. Daphne, maybe? Iris?

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