Mar 31, 2007

I am in a Marriott in Charlotte, NC, and just had the traumatic experience of picking up a bottle of orange ginger body lotion and spreading some over my face, only to discover that it smells exactly like PLEDGE.

Mar 20, 2007

So last night Joi and I saw The Year of Magical Thinking, the Broadway version of Joan Didion’s memoir about her husband’s death and the year that followed. It blew me away. It might be the best thing I've seen on Broadway, along with I Am My Own Wife. It's devastating and beautiful, it's better than the book, and I think Vanessa Redgrave is not of this world. I saw her in Long Day’s Journey Into Night, but not up close like this, and under these lights, all raw and bare on the stage. She’s so beautiful! This massive, otherworldly woman with glowing blue eyes and pale hair and this face that shifts in an instant. It’s just her for an hour and 40 minutes, talking to the audience under stark lights, in a white dress, with a series of dark screens behind her. I was completely under her spell. It reminded me of seeing the Stooges, actually, a few years ago: that night, too, I was tired and sort of wishing I was home instead of at this show, and the moment Iggy Pop came out, like a walking wound, astonishingly vulnerable, which I didn’t expect, so completely raw and open and ferocious and so palpably in pain, I found myself given over, completely hooked into him and in tears. Vanessa Redgrave was like that, just devastating and raw and open, like there’s no space between her grief and your own heart, it’s like this magical thing she does, taking you up into herself.

And the words! Joan Didion sort of stripped down her own book and redid it for the stage, and she includes the death of her daughter, too, since her daughter died after the book was published. And whereas the book is so clinical and ordered, or trying to be, and Joan Didion’s grief is like this weight pressing against the words but never breaking through them, the play offers all these cathartic moments and pauses and bursts of lyricism. And it’s funny! There’s a lot of humor and wryness and charm. She talks about her “magical thinking” that keeps making her believe, despite all reason, that her husband will come back to her if she does everything right, in this funny, self-deprecating way that’s run through with grief, so you are literally laughing with your heart breaking at the same time. And she breaks down and pulls herself together, cries out and then goes silent and resumes her story, and it’s just this whole journey through loss and every mood that accompanies it. Anyway, the whole place was under Vanessa Redgrave’s spell, and there was a huge standing ovation, and I cannot believe that we saw the 13th preview—the play doesn’t open until next week—of a play that hasn’t ever been performed before, never played outside of New York, and it was that perfect.

Look. Her face!
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Mar 18, 2007

So I have spent the past few weeks going over and over my second novel, not just "slowing down the ending a bit," which was my agent’s suggestion, but really trying to tighten the whole book—take out every unnecessary line, make every scene as rich as possible, add various bits that will make the ending more effective, listen to feedback from various readers, etc. etc., and also cut down on repetition, not just of images but of various word choices that I was not even aware I was making over and over again. And weird ones, too.

I have realized, for example, that every single character in this book winks. A lot. Characters are always winking! Whenever they make a joke or say something saucy or hand someone money or try to get someone to do something. As I was looking at this array of winks, I had to wonder: who actually winks? Nobody actually winks! Do they? I think the economist winks sometimes in a funny way, but I don’t think anyone else I know winks on any type of regular basis. Then yesterday I had the distinct pleasure of riding up a long escalator with Tink in a K-Mart in Queens, and a little kid in front of us kept staring back at me. I winked at him automatically, and in the next moment had a startling moment of self realization. I wink. I’m pretty sure I only wink at children and when I am being jokingly flirty, but still. Unfortunately, my own penchant for winking does not mean that every character in my book is allowed to wink, too, and I am therefore pulling the winks from my book as if they were weeds. Beautiful, luscious weeds with flowers blooming from them, but weeds nonetheless.

I won’t even go into my apparent affection for the word "fingered," as in "fingered the hem of the dress" or this line: "an old-fashioned vanity was crammed between the bed and the kitchen counter, and I walked over, fingering the elaborate hand-mirror, the pots of gloss and blush and glitter and jewelry that lay on top." My mother is the one who pointed that out; I hadn’t even realized I used that word. I don’t believe I have ever spoken it. Who "fingers" things rather than touching them? How did that word weasel its way into my writing? "Fingering" should only be used in a sexual sense, and even then, sparingly. Everyone knows that.

I suspect that this is the devil’s work.

The end.

Mar 12, 2007

For Lana, who put pink cupcake dye in my hair today and draws endless inspiration from my extremely fashionable strawberry earrings (which inspired her to make a wig so strawberry-like and confectionary that you want to put whip cream on top). She also did magical things to Joi's locks involving thread. Later, we abused ourselves with hippie food, mulled wine, and white chocolate fondue. The end.

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Mar 9, 2007

My friend Anton Strout just got a two-book deal from Penguin! I could not possibly be more excited for him. This book deal has been a long time coming, he has worked so hard for so long, his book is AWESOME, and I think right now he might be in shock.

Plus, he has horns!

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AND: Writer's Digest bought an article from me about me, Jeanine (Tink), and Anton, and how we wrote our books together, etc, tho we were all writing in massively different genres, etc., and my article is due April 2 and NOW IT WILL BE 500000 TIMES BETTER.

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And finally, in October 2004 I wrote this post about Anton on livejournal:

My whorish friend antonstrout is literally begging people to add him to their friends lists, and so I make this heartfelt plea on his behalf.

Why should you add him? Here are 5 reasons.

1. He can sound EXACTLY like Christopher Walken. Christopher Walken is cool. Plus, Christopher Walken told Anton in person that "the great thing about being me is that I could have sex with anyone in this room. Up the ass." Christopher Walken talking to you about asses? Is cool.

2. Anton is the gayest straight man alive. And gay men are cool, especially when they're straight.

3. Anton is gentlemanly. When we leave workshop he always takes the train to my stop and walks me home even though it is out of his way. Being gentlemanly is cool.

4. I made Anton two Nick Cave compilations and he liked them. People who like Nick Cave are cool.

5. Anton is a funny writer. Being funny is cool. Being a writer is cool, too, unless you suck.

I believe I have made my case.


In the past few weeks in workshop Anton has written two lines that I believe are among the greatest ever written.

Here is line number one:

She shimmered like a slutty little fish in a dirty little tank.

Here is line number two:

No son, no matter what age, should ever have to look at his father's sack or freshly dipped and shiny tool.

I think those lines speak for themselves, and I think it is obvious that if anyone deserves a two-book deal it is my friend ANTON STROUT.
Here is a leetle snippet from novel two:

She was ready. My work was done. I stood back and looked her over. I had outdone myself, I thought, but I didn’t feel the usual satisfaction. Not even close.

Her face was radiant, perfect. The smudges of dirt were gone, the circles under her eyes disappeared. Her eyes were almost shockingly blue. Her starlight hair lay piled on her head, with long tendrils hanging down her neck. The gown nipped in her waist, flared out over her hips, and shimmied along her as she moved, stopping just above the glass slippers that shone like diamonds from under the hem. The dress’s pale blue color lit up her skin, making it luminous and pale, almost iridescent. I looked at her and thought of pearls, the inside of shells.

We were rarely moved by human beauty, but I found myself frozen in front of her with my heart caught in my throat. She seemed absurd in the dusty stone room, standing in front of the cracked mirror, next to the straw mattress on the floor. For a moment, I wondered if she was like us. No matter how much magic I had worked on her to sweep up her hair and brighten her cheeks, it was clear that her beauty was something inside her, a gift she had been given. I tried to remember what I had heard about her mother, her past, of fairies.

“Does it suit me?” she asked. “Do I look right?” Her voice was so soft it seemed like the rubbing of silk against the stone floor.

I forced myself to smile. “You look beautiful,” I said. “Like a princess. No one will be able to take their eyes off of you.”

Gently, I touched her shoulder and turned her to the glass. “Look,” I said.

I stared at her face as she watched herself. The shock in her eyes that turned to wonder. The happiness that seemed to bleed off her and color the room. I could feel it moving up over me and I winced, resisted the urge to slap it off.

This is what you are supposed to do, I told myself. This is who you are.

“Thank you,” she breathed. “I can’t believe it.” She turned her head back to me. “You have no idea how much I have dreamed about this.”

“Oh, I think I do,” I said, smiling, trying to keep my voice kindly but hearing that same sharp edge creep in. I glanced forward, into the glass, and caught my own face next to hers. My human face, with its hair like autumn, its green-grey eyes. The face he had seen. Oblivious, she leaned back against me, in a gesture of caring and thanks. I put my hand on her shoulder. Maternal. Soothing. I breathed her in, that same desire and longing, and when I closed my eyes, her thoughts became my thoughts.
The feel of glass on marble as we walked up the silver stairs. Towards him. His arm circling around.

She was so close to me, I thought. I could reach up and snap her neck.

I opened my eyes and looked in the mirror. This is who I am, I thought. And then: It should be me.

Mar 7, 2007

I wished I had a camera yesterday because as I was leaving the glamorous confines of SUBWAY on Eighth Avenue after partaking of a delightful fresh value meal lunch, my eyes did witness a derelict looking man walking around with a large sandwich board (which was, in the crazy wind, unfortunately leaping off his back and smacking the back of his head, sometimes staying in place like a headboard) and handing out flyers. I peered in to see what he was advertising in such a self-destructive fashion, and, on both front and back, the sandwich board had a list of beauty services available, apparently, around the corner, and these included eyebrow threading and BIKINI WAXING, specifically of the Brazilian variety. Can you imagine making a decision to get waxed Brazilian style based on a sandwich board some weird guy was parading outside the Subway on Eighth Avenue? I feel even more horrified at the thought after reading this. Silicone! In their faces!

In other news, on Monday night I met my old friend Stephanie, who was my roommate many moons ago in Los Angeles, when she was working at a fancy film agency and yours truly was studying Dante, and we had sushi and white wine in her apartment and it turns out that she has just become a member of the Columbia Club, which means CHEAP SQUASH COURTS and tho I have only played squash a few times I DID used to play racquetball every day, in high school and college, and at various times after, and I always loved it because it is fun and not boring, but in cities it is too expen$$ive to play, and even tho squash is not the same thing as racquetball and you use a weird hard ball that's like the thing in your computer mouse, beggars can't be choosers and it's close enough. So now Stephanie and I are going to play once a week. And my ex boyfriend Jim, who is a professional squash player among other things, is visiting me this summer, and even tho I will obviously be a squash genius by then I will demand that he give me lessons anyway. And then I might possibly become superhuman.

In other news, last night I met my friend David and now we are going to re-start our exclusive weekly NOIR WRITING CLUB. There is nothing like some flat-out healthy competition as well as heightened shame factor to make one produce and at the moment I am all about being productive--tho not reproductive, mind you--and I want to finish novel #3 this summer. I have 150 pages of that manuscript but have not worked on it in monttthhhs.

Finally, I would like to say that I hated Zodiac. The killing scenes are quick and boring and then it's 50000 hours of them trying to solve a case THAT WE ALREADY KNOW WAS NEVER SOLVED. Plus, I don't like Jake Gyllenhall's moon face and when I see him with kids I don't believe it as he looks five years old himself and like he needs to wipe his nose.

Oh, one more thing. I have a real thing for the scent of cinnamon and cloves, as I have attested, and I have now discovered an entire line of products based around it. Words cannot express the longing that has blossomed in my heart and possibly even soul as a result.

Mar 6, 2007

So I spent last weekend in Philadelphia at my friends Mark and Jen's house, which is one of my favorite places, and I came down with my friends Rob and Bonnie on Saturday morning, and Sunday was Jen's baby shower, and I bought her items made from GINGHAM which made me very jealous as I too should own gingham, and we dined on small tea cakes and other delectable and delicate delights and I played BINGO with ferocity in my heart since Bonnie works at Vogue and populated a whole basket worth of prizes with amazing beauty items she bought for $1 at work. These are items so wondrous that I look at them and feel my life would be vastly better if they were a part of it. Like the BLING EYE SHADOW KIT, which is now in my possession and makes my eyelids green and shimmering. Like a mermaid's!

Anyway, I have written before about how much I love this South Philly house, which is narrow and tall and four stories high and it has WINDOWBOXES and is filled with old things and now I have EVIDENCE.

It is the kind of house in which cats lounge in front of fires:
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It is the kind of house in which mirrors look like moonstones and tree branches grow on pillows:

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It is the kind of house in which art featuring umbrellas and fish hangs from the wall:
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It is the kind of house in which sparkling and fancifully iced raspberry lemonade is served:

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Here is the owner of the house, Mark, and me. Mark is one of my oldest friends. Mark has a twin brother named Kenny who is a puppeteer. Kenny's wife Shima, who is a costume designer, revealed this weekend that she is friends with AUSTIN SCARLETT.

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Here is Mark's wife Jen, who is wearing a ring with a bird on it that I plan to steal:

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Here is Mark and my sister and Mark and me 12 years ago, before our hearts grew old and bitter and we knew that it would never be made right, not ever.

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The end.

Mar 2, 2007

So this morning I was on this spanking new radio show on Sirius, called the Be Happy Dammit Hour, which will start airing March 12. This first show was taped in advance but in the future it will be live. I was verrrrry nervous, but it seemed to be over in seconds. I was on this book segment with Ron Hogan (as his guest author) and the host Karen, and there were all these other guests there, a few authors and bloggers, including Marci Alboher, a cupcake blogger, and this woman who has a tea empire and was interviewing Robert Thurman for some ongoing tea portion of the show. It was very fun and after I ate a big chocolate cupcake that tasted suspiciously like regular cake.

Tonight I am seeing ZODIAC as I love any movie or show or book involving serial killers and I have forever and THAT'S JUST HOW IT IS.