Tuesday, February 27, 2007
I just finished my good friend Peggy Orenstein's new book, Waiting for Daisy: A Tale of Two Continents, Three Religions, Five Infertility Doctors, an Oscar, an Atomic Bomb, a Romantic Night, and One Woman's Quest to Become a Mother. It’s a terrific read. Highly recommended.
The book would have spoken to me regardless, but it’s even richer because my friendship with Peggy is so precious to me. I met her, a then successful journalist working on her first book, because she'd married a Director we were involved with. I was very close with his producer, Lynn O’Donnell. Tragically, Lynn developed ovarian cancer right after her daughter was born. During those three years fighting the illness, I needed a knowledgeable but safe conduit. Peggy and I started emailing. And so we’ve continued for a decade, writing back and forth at great length. We've met face to face only a couple of times. In fact, for what would be the second time, Peggy walked into the kitchen where I was waiting, then walked back out again. Returning a few minutes later she laughed, “I thought you were someone else all this time….But that’s OK. It’s OK it’s you.”
Over the years I would whine about finding my place in the world, managing my career, if you could call it that, balancing my close partnership with my husband, and of course, the kids. Peggy was writing articles and books. And managing her own bout with cancer, career, miscarriages, adoption, misgivings, and birth. We would write directly, or I would catch up via her NYT Sunday magazine articles. I’ll never forget the Sunday morning John woke me by throwing the magazine on the bed, “Here’s what Peggy’s been up to.” “35 and Mortal: A Breast Cancer Diary” I checked my email archive and damn, there it was, the last email saved, dated the day before her surprising diagnosis. And so it continued over the decade. Funny stories, Lurching, painful movements forward, supportive dialogue. One day she said, “I’m going to write my memoir and my HD crashed. Did you bother to keep a copy of my emails? ”
And so now, here it is, Peggy's moving, rich study of her journey from ambivalence to motherhood. It's such a clear narrative for our time. There are twists and turns, a coming to terms with the hand you’re dealt. And though I knew the outcome, I was still on pins and needles, so deftly has she spun the story. And it's not just about procreation, on top of everything else, Peggy has created a glorious, very honest love story. I highly recommend it.
Monday, February 26, 2007
Sunday, February 25, 2007
A poem for the drought.
To love a person is to learn the song
That is in their heart,
And to sing it to them
When they have forgotten.
Wednesday, February 21, 2007
when Gosling was 10 his mother took him out of class and home-schooled him. The year spent with her, watching movies, listening to Chet Baker and Billie Holiday, gave him, he says, 'a sense of autonomy that I've never really lost'. That confidence was crucial: 'I didn't want to work in a paper mill, and I wasn't going to stay in school. I hated being a kid. I didn't like being told what to do, I didn't like my body, I didn't like any of it. Being a kid and playing and all that stuff just drove me nuts.'
Tuesday, February 20, 2007
From Silent Bob Speaks:
I’m a fairly smart cookie. I’ve proven myself smart enough to build a career out of almost nothing, with no connections and limited skills. I’ve proven myself smart enough to woo and wed a woman way out of my league. I’ve even proven myself smart enough to turn hobbies into revenue streams - selling all my blogs (that I wrote for free, mind you) to Titan Books in the UK for publication as one giant compendium (due later this year). But when it comes to food and self-control in the arena of eating? I’m totally retarded.
For no particular reason I was just thinking of him this morning as I was idly taking a shower. Mourning how I just keep gaining weight. Remembering how a few years ago, when on my way to a successful 30 lb weight loss, that I've now gained back, I happened to see him. "Janet, what you losing some weight? Hmm, what, about 11 lbs?" Damn, if he hadn't hit it dead on. Which is amazing! When you're as big as I am, 11 pounds is not easy to spot. So Kev - good luck in this in tiresome neverending battle! And thanks so much for sharing with the rest of us. xxxo
Monday, February 19, 2007
Raised in Marin County, Mr. Fincher was only 7 when the area was seized with fear in 1969. “I remember coming home and saying the highway patrol had been following our school buses for a couple weeks now,” he recalled in December in an interview in New Orleans, where he was editing “Zodiac” while filming “Benjamin Button.” “And my dad, who worked from home, and who was very dry, not one to soft-pedal things, turned slowly in his chair and said: ‘Oh yeah. There’s a serial killer who has killed four or five people, who calls himself Zodiac, who’s threatened to take a high-powered rifle and shoot out the tires of a school bus, and then shoot the children as they come off the bus.’ ”
“I was, like, ‘You could drive us to school,’ ” he recalled thinking.
It was that same sense that initially drew him to “Se7en,” he said: the fearsome power of the stranger among us. “That’s what Zodiac was for a 7-year-old growing up in San Anselmo. He was the ultimate bogeyman.”
“People ask me, ‘When are you going to make your ‘Amarcord?’ ” Mr. Fincher added, with a little laugh at the comparison to Fellini’s autobiographical tour-de-force. For now, he said, “It’ll have to be ‘Zodiac.’ ”
Thursday, February 15, 2007
Although this film premiered at the 2006 Toronto Film Fest where it won Best Canadian Feature, was recently voted Best Doc Feature and Best Canadian Film by the Toronto Film Critics Association, and had its U.S. premiere at the 2007 Sundance Film Festival, I didn't know anything about it, or it's subject, the renowned landscape photographer, Edward Burtynsky. From Zeitgeist's synopsis:
Internationally acclaimed for his large-scale photographs of “manufactured landscapes”—quarries, recycling yards, factories, mines and dams—Burtynsky creates stunningly beautiful art from civilization’s materials and debris. The film follows him through China, as he shoots the evidence and effects of that country’s massive industrial revolution. With breathtaking sequences, such as the opening tracking shot through an almost endless factory, the filmmakers also extend the narratives of Burtynsky’s photographs, allowing us to meditate on our impact on the planet and witness both the epicenters of industrial endeavor and the dumping grounds of its waste.
It's a tremendous film - a rare example where the documentary's style perfectly matches the work of the subject. It's gorgeous, reverent, and provocative. The scenes of the Chinese factory alone are unforgettable, reminiscent of the brilliant precision of Chris Smith's still undistributed classic, American Job, -- multiplied exponentially. Keep your eye out for it. Seek it out. This film is a must-see.
Wednesday, February 14, 2007
At the movies I sat between two couples my own age. On the left, married 25 years. On the right, more like 7. But they each snuggled and held hands. The couple on the right choosing that moment to exchange their cards, one store bought, the other, handmade. When you're single, and you hear about the drought of a long term marriage, you want to believe that it's true. But it's not, for the lucky few of us. I didn't get babe looks, a photographic memory, or stellar talent, but I got a Valentine, who 25 years later, still makes my heart beat faster.
Happy Valentine's Day
Tuesday, February 13, 2007
I think about this all the time anyway, but my salsa classes bring up a particular intensity. Because it's a different way of knowing people. For me anyway. It's not at first an intellectual connection, or professional, or even friend of a friend. It's more pure somehow (and therefore shallow? Hmmm, not sure.) It's based on looks, how people move, how they learn to move, and how they choose to interact in an abstract, limited moment, again and again and again. The teachers laugh about how cliques form during every cycle. How can they not, with repeated greetings, week after week, all through the year. Sure there are some people everyone likes, like the adorable new blonde who looks amazing, can really dance, and seems to be sweet besides. But other than that, it's a crap shoot. I feel particular ease with C. and L. and F. although I don't prefer to dance with F, I just prefer talking to him. The other two got my attention from the dance. And with D. I feel an immediate connection though I rarely see him. There's rapport with others of different variations. E is great looking but odd to dance with. I like the way T. dances but we dance together badly. I move around this circle, week after week, learning more, getting more comfortable, trying harder, working it out with the same group of faces that changes slightly from night to night but overall is the same, and I muse at the relationships forming or not.
Thursday, February 08, 2007
And I guess I know why. Because instead of it being about something I'm thinking about, or interested in, or excited by, it's about taking ownership for what I've done. Responsibility. Credit. It's just so much easier to do something than to fess up to it. Or have any perspective. When I used to be in therapy, we would talk about why I was somehow dis-engaged from my life. Not from the living but from the acknowledging. There's this very old tendency to feel invisible. And I don't know why. Never got to the bottom of it.
Wednesday, February 07, 2007
Friday, February 02, 2007
Some excerpted highlights (but really encourage you to read the whole essay!):
....Most artists are brought to their vocation when their own nascent gifts are awakened by the work of a master. That is to say, most artists are converted to art by art itself. Finding one's voice isn't just an emptying and purifying oneself of the words of others but an adopting and embracing of filiations, communities, and discourses. Inspiration could be called inhaling the memory of an act never experienced. Invention, it must be humbly admitted, does not consist in creating out of void but out of chaos. Any artist knows these truths, no matter how deeply he or she submerges that knowing.....
...Undiscovered public knowledge emboldens us to question the extreme claims to originality made in press releases and publishers' notices: Is an intellectual or creative offering truly novel, or have we just forgotten a worthy precursor? Does solving certain scientific problems really require massive additional funding, or could a computerized search engine, creatively deployed, do the same job more quickly and cheaply? Lastly, does our appetite for creative vitality require the violence and exasperation of another avant-garde, with its wearisome killing-the-father imperatives, or might we be better off ratifying the ecstasy of influence—and deepening our willingness to understand the commonality and timelessness of the methods and motifs available to artists?......
.....Artists and writers—and our advocates, our guilds and agents—too often subscribe to implicit claims of originality that do injury to these truths. And we too often, as hucksters and bean counters in the tiny enterprises of our selves, act to spite the gift portion of our privileged roles. People live differently who treat a portion of their wealth as a gift. If we devalue and obscure the gift-economy function of our art practices, we turn our works into nothing more than advertisements for themselves. We may console ourselves that our lust for subsidiary rights in virtual perpetuity is some heroic counter to rapacious corporate interests. But the truth is that with artists pulling on one side and corporations pulling on the other, the loser is the collective public imagination from which we were nourished in the first place, and whose existence as the ultimate repository of our offerings makes the work worth doing in the first place......