nonBlog — January 2009

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Now For a Word From Our Sponsor—Thursday, January 29, 2009

Actually, this web site—this career, for that matter—has no sponsor, because I have proven myself uniquely capable of publishing and publicizing quite a lot of perfectly national work without attracting more than ten farthings in pay. It’s a talent of sorts. At any rate, this weekend features the usual level of frenetic uncompensated career-related activity. I’ll be participating in readings both Friday night and Saturday night for Six-Word Memoirs on Love & Heartbreak; please come along if you can. Details are at right in the Coming Up box. Tomorrow’s event is at the Opera Plaza Books Inc. at 7pm and Saturday’s is at Book Passage in Corte Madera at the same hour.
Since I have finally admitted to myself and all six of my loyal and devoted fans that every bloody thing this year is about my father, it will only embarrass me a bit to confess that I can’t stop thinking about what his six-word memoir would have been. When I think them up they all come out mean, which doesn’t reflect at all how much I miss him and love him. Actually, they’re probably so mean because I miss him and love him—if he hadn’t made such a mess of everything he’d still be here and we could have some fun. We could have an adventure, to use his phrase. The ones I keep coming up with are nothing he would ever have said about himself.
My dad: Had lemonade. Made lemons.
Had every advantage; threw them away.
Wife, daughters, health, job, home: gone.
Shouldn’t have had all those surgeries.

What would his version have been? I wasn’t asking myself before now. I knew him so well that I bet I can guess. He would say:
I should have married Judy Griffin.
Dad loved Bill; Mom loved me.
Wish I’d stayed in the military.
My college years were the best.

He visited me so vividly in a dream not too long after he died, and it was like no other dream I’ve ever had. He emerged from the floor—sort of peeled off like a Colorform sticker—and suddenly there he was in 3-D and full color, young and handsome and healthy again. He was telling me I should stop grieving so badly; he was grinning and reassuring me. And I woke up in the middle of it and understood that he is both the man he was at the end of his life, when he had figured out how to be a loving father, and at the same time he is the man he was at St. Lawrence University, when he was happiest. So I know what his six-word memoir is now:
Finally I get to surf again.


No Woman’s Land—Saturday, January 24, 2009

Today is my birthday. It’s a weird sensation to have birthdays after 40 because most people really haven’t imagined themselves at this stage. You can picture yourself in your thirties when you’re in your twenties, and you can let yourself think about 40 when you’re in your thirties. But after that it’s a sort of aging black hole in which there’s no other face you can imagine in the mirror besides that of your mother. So you just don’t go there.

I do look increasingly like my mother, which is the height of irony because one of my sources of teenage misery was that I looked not the least bit like her and I thought she was one of the most beautiful women I had ever seen. And when she was in her forties I noticed that she retained a certain youthful prettiness that the other moms didn’t have. But now that her face is mine I don’t feel pretty at all. I just feel older.

Except for one really bizarre thing: year after year, my body hardly changes. Now this is ironic. When I was young and had this curvy body, all I wanted was a spare, sticky body like my friends had. So did men, I might point out, which only added to my perception that what I had was nothing anyone wanted. But here I am 20 years later with a body that is much the same and whose dishiness I have finally come to appreciate, at a time when the only part of it anyone sees is the part from the chin up that offers the only evidence of my years of sunscreen noncompliance.

Leave it to a woman to measure her worth by her looks. I haven’t said a damn thing about where I’ve gotten in life.


Is Every Damn Thing About My Dad This Year?—Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Last night when I was writing my blog about the publication of Six-Word Memoirs on Love & Heartbreak (check out the promotional video here), Olivia asked me what my entry meant. I sort of stammered, because I have to say that I wrote it in about five seconds and hardly deliberated on the word choice or its deeper meaning. I responded by saying the obvious, something along the lines of oh, your dad wasn’t really my type at first but he’s so much nicer than those tall dashing guys. But when I woke up this morning I realized I had dodged the question, partly because I didn’t really know the answer. But now I do. My six-word memoir isn’t about the boyfriends I had before Tom. It’s about my dad.

He’s less tall but more sane. The truth is, I never dated anyone much taller than I am, which is not all that surprising considering I’m nearly five-ten myself. So Tom isn’t less tall than my previous boyfriends. And although I dated a couple of guys who weren’t all that nice to me, I never dated anyone crazy. So Tom isn’t any more sane than my previous boyfriends either. The only man I loved whom Tom is less tall and more sane than is my father, who was over 6-foot-2 and suicidal for the last 25 or 30 years of his life.

After reading the past two years of blog entries about my dad, my friends keep telling me that the memoir I should publish isn’t about my mother, it’s about my father. And today I recognized that, without realizing it, that’s exactly what I did. I published a memoir not about my mother, nor about my husband, who at first glance seems to be its subject. Instead I published a memoir, however wee, about my dad.


The Shortest Memoir in the World—Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Here’s the good news: My memoir was published today.
Now for the bad news: It’s only six words long.
It’s so sad. I sort-of-kind-of took the fall off from paid work, which means that the Coming Up box on my web site is empty and the New or Practically New box’s latest entry is my contribution to a book of six-word memoirs on love and heartbreak. I’m wondering whether to tell you what the six words are, or whether to insist you buy the book in order to read my entry. Nah. My six core fans, most of whom are related to me, will buy the book, but the rest of you will go on with your day, not suffering in the slightest from being deprived of my edifying phrase. So I’ll give it to you. It’s, “He’s less tall but more sane.”
The story behind the publication of this non-story is at the top of my updated Books page, so go looky there. My husband Tom, who is the subject of my silken six words, has also updated the Recentish Clips page and the New box and is in the process of fixing the clips archive if you are so devoted as to wish you could read some article of yore. Enjoy. Or, not.
You could say that my Autumn Of Publishing Very Little has left me with a tiny attitude problem.



New, or Practically New

  • Fame and Fortune: Currently working on, and shocked to find I’m making headway with, the latter. Partly because of a bit of movement on the former. Perhaps endurance is the key to everything after all.