And now 39 years old!
Which is a whole lot of many.
Or at least it feels that way.
I don't think I mind being 39,
but I also wouldn't mind stopping aging here.
I'll just always be a 39-year-old!
That doesn't sound so bad.
I hope it will be better than 38, anyway,
which was no great shakes.
Which was mediocre shakes all around, actually.
Not so much because of the age,
but because of the year, which, feh.
Illness in the family, moving and moving and moving,
as Jarndyce and Jarndyce drags on,
and we squat in our Bleak House;
professional disappointment, as Have You Flounder
did not become the new Eat, Pray, Love,
though it did become the new
Smoke Pot, Be Co-Dependent, Fake AIDS.
I lost friends this year; some of them died,
some of them just flaked away.
And I just sent a birthday card to my mom --
It's a new year.
And when Bill came up with the mail the other night,
he had a card in his hand,
and I thought it might be from my mom,
but it was from my in-laws instead,
and I thought, "Even better."
Because I love them, and they love me,
and I'm grateful for it.
I'm grateful for the most loving partner in the world.
For the friends who have stuck with me this year.
For the cat sitting in my in-box, licking my left hand;
for his henchcats, and the cats that came before him.
For my family, all of them, even the ones
who don't speak to me these days.
For everyone who wrote me an email
to say hey, I really liked your book.
For the fact that I'm writing again,
even if everything I write lately
turns into a billowing puddle of crap.
For my health, and for the relative health of those I love.
For freedom from privation and persecution.
For my life, which has turned out so much better and happier
than I ever could have hoped for.
For sleeping late, and skipping my five-mile run today.
For the day ahead:
Work, massage, dinner with Bill and the folks.
For the year ahead:
Five-mile runs included.
For New York, my hometown,
where every square block stores my history.
For not giving up and going back to three joints a day,
as badly as I wanted to at times.
For the email I just got from my beloved editor.
For my shrink, who'll be back on Tuesday.
For more things and people than I could ever list,
I'm even grateful to feel grateful,
instead of feeling my usual boiling anxiety and incipient rage,
also known as "my personality."
And I'm grateful to whoever reads this,
because without readers,
I'd be a tree in the forest, falling down and yelling,
HEY, DID ANYBODY HEAR THAT?
LITTLE HELP, PLEASE!
I'VE FALLEN, AND IT'S MADE NO EXISTENTIAL IMPRESSION ON ANYONE!
I'd be one hand trying to clap for myself.
I'd be even more lonely and alienated and bored
than I already am, which is a lot.
So thank you!
And thanks to whatever forces have conspired
(or not conspired, probably, just happened)
to allow me this life, this consciousness, this being,
these circumstances, this great fortune,
this love, this day, this moment.
Thirty-nine years old!
Thurs. Feb 17, 2011
Click for details and more dates »
Best of the blog
- "I have to think of something before I die"
- Dear "books on how to not kill yourself"
- Mommy, tell me about the war.
- Questions for the Author
- How do I get to Ground Zero?
- A Flaming Asteroid Hits My Ex-Boss In the Nuts
- Book review: Wuthering Heights
- "Feminist Men": Oxymorons, or Simply Morons?
- Random facts about the book
- Amanda Cudy Swavy
- Amanda Stern
- Anne Elliott
- Anne Fernald
- Ariel Schrag
- Ashley Davila
- Ayun Halliday
- Beehive Hairdresser
- Bridgit Antoinette Evans
- C. Brooks
- Cheryl B.
- Claire Cox
- Clio Bluestocking
- Dana Piccoli
- Dorothy Parka
- Geoffrey Ian Bara
- Janet Reid
- Jen Bekman
- Jen Dziura
- Jess Zaino
- Judy McGuire
- Koren Zailckas
- Lauren Cerand
- Lea Jacobson
- M. David Hornbuckle
- Maud Newton
- Melissa Febos
- Michael Stuart
- Nathalie Hardy
- Rachel Kramer Bussel
- Satia Renee
- Sharon Mesmer
- Tayari Jones
- Virginia Vitzthum
- Wendy McClure
And now 39 years old!
Despite my lack of desire to ever leave my house again, and my general crankiness and feelings of being overwhelmed, I seem to have signed up for bunch of readings, shows, and classes, to wit:
Monday, September 15, 7pm, free
KGB Bar, 85 East 4th Street
I'll be reading at the Best American Poetry series, with poet Kevin Young. Best!
Wednesday, September 17, $150
Sonesta Hotel, Cambridge, MA
I am delighted to be the keynote speaker at this year's Prepare for Winter Dinner to benefit On The Rise, an organization supporting women in crisis.
Saturday, September 20, $125
I'm teaching a one-day Memoir Writing seminar through Gotham Writers Workshop. Click here to enroll.
Friday, October 3, 6pm open mic, 7pm show
Cornelia Street Cafe, 29 Cornelia Street, 212-989-9319
Another poetry reading, this time with an open mic beforehand. Come, and join in the show!
Thursday, Oct. 9, 10pm, $?
Lucky Cat, 254 Grand St., Brooklyn, (718) 782-0437
"Life During Wartime," curated by Chris Lee, featuring great old friends Spyro and Anne Elliott, as well as "a groovy psycho-tronic disco extravaganza."
Thursday, October 23, details TBA
Coolidge Theater, Boston, MA
I'll be storytelling with Elisa Albert and Joseph O'Neill, presented by Nextbook.org.
In the meantime, my apologies if I am behind in answering email or scheduling lunch dates. It's been a weird time, over here at the Temporary Casa de Erlbaum-Scurry. I'm looking forward to getting settled somewhere and catching up soon; until then, I'm grateful for the support -- and the patience.
Lots of stuff going on over here; not much time to blog about it. Judgecal has got some major press over the past two weeks, especially this article in the Times -- it's great that he's famous, I just wish it could have happened while he was alive. The memorial last Saturday night was very helpful; saw Debbie Harry there, but she left before the eulogies. I heard her say, as she stalked out, "What's there to say? It's a shit shame he's dead." Yeah, that just about covers it.
Went to Boston last week, to sign books at the American Psychoanalytic Association convention, and to visit On The Rise, the crisis center whose fundraising event I'm speaking at in September. Is it weird, that I had a good time at a crisis center? That the minute I walked in, I felt at home, at peace, in good company, and happy? I guess not, as most of the women there share that feeling about the place -- that's what makes it so special. Please join us, if you can, on September 17 -- information is here.
(APA was all right, too -- I got to meet John Elder Robison, who is the author of Look Me in the Eye, and Augusten Burroughs' brother. I was the dud of the Random House booth, selling far fewer copies of my books than the other authors, but I got to spend a few days with my dad, which was great.)
And yeah, Laura Albert, aka JT Leroy, was my roommate at one of the group homes where I lived. It's been awesome, swapping reminiscences about the place with her and some of the other ex-residents she's found on Facebook; I'm amazed at how well everyone's turned out, despite the tumult of our youth. Laura was not a character in Girlbomb -- I was writing about the home I lived in before the one we shared -- but some of the other characters have emerged, and I'm pleased to say that they're all well and thriving.
Finally, I'm in the New York Post today, talking about drinking. And I'll be at the LIM college dorms tonight, reading and talking and shmoozing. Then I'll be home watching Project Runway, though I could give a shit about any of the contestants this season, which has been, as Blayne might say, suck-licious. Hey Weinsteins, give me my own show!
First of all, Girlbomb just went into its seventh printing, just weeks after its sixth.
But that's not even the holy shit.
HOLY SHIT: Laura Albert, aka JT Leroy, just wrote to me on Facebook to say that we were roommates at one of the group homes where I lived, and she dropped a detail that makes me think she's telling the truth. I'm looking at pictures of her on Google right now, and I seriously think she might have actually been my old roommate, Laura. How could I have not put this together until now? I have to send her my book. Maybe she can challenge its veracity!
(Another snippet from the story collection in progress, now with the working title The Crazy Bitch Club. Because people seriously can not get enough of books with the word "club" in the title.)
The Redemption of Brittany C.
I didn’t have high hopes for Brittany C. We almost passed right over her in the audition – she was just too generic, the blond with the big fake ones who said she wanted to come on the show in order to “grow as a person,” which is a phrase that always makes me roll my eyes. What does that even mean, “grow as a person?” As opposed to what, growing as a houseplant? You might as well tell me that you’re “not here to make friends.” Because we haven’t heard that one before.
I was starting to stack the headshots in front of me, ready to give her the thanks so much, we’ll be in touch spiel, when she broke.
“Listen,” she said. “I really need this. Not for the money, but, like, I need this. I need to figure out, like, who I am. Please.”
Marty had already put her picture in the no pile, and was now staring at the headshot of a girl in a pink fur top hat, with zeppelin-shaped breasts and a pout the size of my fist. Her name was also Britteny, but with an e – they’re all Brittanys, unless they’re Ashleys, or Heathers. It’s a whole nation of Brittanys.
But this one had caught my attention, finally, after three minutes of generic posing. “How do you think the show will help you to figure out who you are?” I asked.
“I…I don’t know.” She slumped forward, her fake ones retreating under the cover of her rounded shoulders. Interesting, I thought. I like a girl with self-esteem issues. The look-at-me bitch-bots are all so one-note; we can always use a fragile girl in the house, a foil for all the egomaniacs in the yes pile. “I mean, I guess it’s pathetic, to be my age and not know who you are, but…I don’t know. In high school, I pretty much just followed my friends, even when they did stuff I didn’t love, or whatever. And I never had a real relationship with a guy before, just guys I fooled around with when I was drunk and stuff, and…I don’t know. I had a bad relationship with my dad, and my mom’s remarried and she doesn’t care about me, except how I look, and I feel like that’s all anybody ever sees, you know? The outside. And I want a chance to show that there’s something inside, even if I don’t know what it is yet. Like, I know I’m a good person…” She’d been addressing her feet, stuffed into platform sandals, but now she looked up at me, her liner-ringed eyes soft and pleading. “I’m a good person. I just don’t know, like, how.”
A few tears slid down her cheeks. And we’ve seen tears before – oy, have we seen tears! – but these weren’t the kind you squeeze out for the cameras. These were the real kind, the salty ones that come from the lachrymal glands; you could practically taste them from where we sat. Marty was paying attention again; they all were: Chris the executive producer, Tim from editing, and Felicia from the network, who had her elbow on the table, her chin on her fist, nodding sympathetically. Bingo. Brittany C. had just saved herself from the no pile.
Friendly faces Anne Radford and Don Eng
Fifty other faces, mostly friendly
Lady who calls me "Ms. Erlbaum"
Cute guy, frowning entire time
Cute tattooed girl who says she reads my blog (hi)
Guy who raises his hand with question five times
Guy who says he wants to write life story, but mob will kill him
Guy who wants to hijack entire seminar and make it all about him
Instructor who will not allow that to happen, sorry
Linda from Gotham Writers' Workshop
Heard about the death of an old friend this morning. I’m still in the “no, no, no” phase. I was hoping it was a hoax – he was a conceptual artist with a dark sense of humor – but I just got reliable confirmation: Mark “Judgecal” Chamberlain is dead. His landlord found his body in his apartment; cops say he’d been dead a few days. They’re calling it natural causes, pending a toxicology report. I feel like I just drank a glass of lead.
I just got a Facebook message from him a few weeks ago, in June. I was on Fire Island, ignoring all internet correspondence, but I never hear from Cal anymore, and I was curious to know what was up. I called him and left a message; he called and left a message for me: He was writing a memoir, and wanted some advice. We played phone tag for a few days – I called him twice, and he never got back to me. I just thought yesterday, “I should call and see if Cal’s still working on that book.”
I was talking to our mutual friend Steve last week, and mentioned that I’d heard from Cal, who was working on a memoir. “And you know, it’s kind of my day job to charge people for advice on their memoirs, I’m up to my ears in memoirs, but I’d love to read Cal’s life story.” Steve agreed. Out of all the exceptional, bizarre, demented, amazing, talented, crazy people we knew through our old jobs at Pseudo.com, Judgecal was…the most.
Cal! I used to see him around the Meadow, around Washington Square Park, even before I knew him at Pseudo. He was gorgeous – a blond Billy Idol lookalike with tattoos up and down both arms, and this unexpected, genuine smile. When I started at Pseudo in 1996, I immediately started to sexually harass him, dropping by his cubicle all the time to flirt with him, which he encouraged, though he did not requite. He had the most beautiful girlfriend, a pneumatic stripper who adored him and called him at work constantly, often while I was standing in his cubicle (decorated with Giger drawings, and pictures of girls with horse tails and bridles), acting like a bratty younger sister.
We worked on a number of projects together, most notably on a show called “Quakecast,” a show revolving around an interactive 3D game that gave me motion sickness every time I tried to play it. Cal could be “difficult” – there was not a single employee of that company who wasn’t “difficult” – but he was endlessly patient with me when it came to Quake, and helped me immensely with an onerous duty.
One day in ‘98, he came into my office and asked me about therapy. I knew that Cal had had an unhappy childhood, that he’d been on the street as a kid, and that his sobriety of the past few years had been hard won. You had to respect the hell out of someone who’d worked their way up from druggie urchin to Chief Technical Officer of a cutting edge internet company, and I did. We talked pretty explicitly about analysis, meds, recovery, PTSD, suicide, and the struggle for mental health. I offered to get him some referrals. He declined, and neither of us ever mentioned it again.
Cal! You mean I’m not going to run into you on your Rollerblades anymore, crossing your arms in your sleeveless t-shirt to make your tattoos bulge? Impossible. I just called your phone this morning, after I heard the news, unwilling to believe that this wasn’t a gag, an art project, like when that poet Todd was supposedly killed in a mugging back in ’95 (and oh, how hilarious! What a brilliant “performance piece” that was!) Your voice sounded fine, and I felt sure that I was going to hear this was a false alarm, a prank, a mistake.
It’s got to be a mistake. Cal, we still have to talk about that book you’re writing. I bet it’s brilliant. I can’t wait to read it.