Thursday, July 2, 2009

Happy July 4th

Such a week it has been. Farrah Fawcett and Michael Jackson passed away, weirdly, on the same day late in June. I miss Farrah more than I do Michael. The best thing I can say about him is that he morphed into a beautiful monster who sang to us. I love his music but his attitudes towards children--his own and other people's---was creepy, and reeked of someone who just hadn't been told "no" often enough. Farrah was an iconic figure from my childhood---I remember watching "Charlie's Angels" at 10 p.m. on Wednesday nights, when I was twelve, and she was twentysomething. Farrah was so blonde and gorgeous, she seemed happy and perhaps intelligent, and I followed her career. Though I felt sad every time I read that her son had again landed in rehab, I admired that she became intent on becoming more actress than bombshell. She almost succeeded. Farrah and Michael's deaths prompted discussion in our house of the price of fame---do the same qualities (single-mindedness, intense ambition, belief in one's talent), which make a person super-successful as a performer also lead to his or her undoing? Or the undoing of the ones they love? Hard to know.

The other big news in our house is that our kids are off at camp. My husband and I dropped them off on Tuesday, and drove home in the rain. We arrived home mid-day. The hydrangeas were blooming. As if to remind me that I might have left my children in the Pennsylvania mountains for a month, but I am still a mother, my dog started biting me on the breasts. I pushed her away and I realized: I can do anything I want. Anything. I can eat what I want, I can say what I want, I can sleep when I want, write when I want. I grabbed The New Yorker, went onto the patio, lay down on our ripped cushions and devoured a story about Nora Ephron and her new Meryl Streep movie, "Julie and Julia." I read the whole article in one sitting. While I read about Nora Eprhon's success as a writer/director/wife-and-mother, I felt a bit envious (she went to Wellesley, wrote for the Wellesley News, likes to cook and write, has two sons---so do I!) So I ate four skinny, Skinny Cow popsicles. I piled up the wrappers on the table next to me and did not think about making dinner. My dog lay down next to me and waited for my popsicle to fall. It didn't. My husband drank a diet Coke and left the can on the counter for all the world to see. He left his dishes in the sink and I didn't yell at him. Then I left my dishes in the sink and didn't yell at myself. We went upstairs and took a nap, Then, my husband ran on the Treadmill and I took took myself to see "Hangover." The theater was packed with couples. I sat in an aisle seat and laughed alone at all the inappropriate, sexually explicit jokes. It was glorious.

The next day, I went into the city to see my friend Barbara Friedman's gorgeous show of "Overlook Paintings" at the Michael Steinberg Fine Art Gallery on West 26th Street. Barbara is a professor of art at Pace University and a fantastic painter. We own one of her paintings; I wish we could afford a few more. The gallery has no air conditioning and it was very hot when I arrived mid-day, but a couple of people were milling around, staring intently at the paintings, in absolutely no hurry to go anywhere but there. The colors in Barbara's paintings are vivid, mesmerizing and gorgeous, and the scenes she paints depict tiny figures surrounded by large, lovely landscapes. I walked around the show several times and when I left, I felt that I had gone to another part of the universe and returned a calm, peaceful person. It was if I had meditated, without sitting down or chanting the same word over and over. Barbara's show closes today but you can check out her paintings at I came home and went to my good friend Susan's house for dinner. She had promised to cook for me. The last time anyone cooked for me and only me was August 1991, when my then-boyfriend, now-husband, was wooing me. Susan had promised to pick up a few things at Whole Foods, and when I arrived, she had prepared a large salad, filled with oranges and hearts of palm, and set about grilling marinated shrimp. While she grilled, I ate about a dozen olives, soaked in lemon juice and garlic. We sat on her patio, drank white wine and talked about everything and nothing. As I drove home, I committed the ultimate crime against humanity: I left the air conditioning on and opened the windows. There was nobody in the car to tell me not to! When I got home, I crawled into bed. At 8:30.

This is the beginning of a long, holiday weekend. Have a great one.

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