Did you miss me? Ah, bad question. Passive-aggressive or perhaps delusionarily self-interested. Never ask things you might not want the answer to. Still if you heard I’d slipped on black ice and died, you’d feel guilty. Only briefly, but still.
Actually the reason for my absence is two-fold. One, because I put down money with an internet blog-hosting company (ie, after you pay for the gym membership, you never use it) and two because I’ve become so involved in my manuscript that after-hours correspondence seems more obligation than entertainment.
So what, you may ask (or not) is this manuscript about? Well, me, of course. What other topic could I write with such authority? But actually it’s about a lot of other stuff, too: motherhood, daughterhood, marriage, family, work, travel, war, food, art, space, marketing and keeping your shit together when it would be so much easier not to.
And yes, Mom, there are some funny bits. In which you play a supporting role. As the bumper sticker says, Be careful what you wish for.
Though I need to warn you, Mom, you’ve become a character. As have I. I’m writing my own story and I’m only an actor in it. How weird is that? Though it’s merely one of the naval-gazing epiphanies I’m prone to these days, even in non-fiction, the people on the page are reductions of themselves. Else I guess every story would take way too long to tell. Like a lifetime. And since the listener would be too busy living his or her life (except those people who don’t have one and spend all their time playing video games or writing letters to the editor) he or she wouldn’t have the time to listen. For those who might appreciate the reference—right now I’m working on a scene that takes place in Argentina—how Borgian.
On the listening front, earlier today I had a fairly surreal experience IMing Liz in Senegal while Skyping another friend in Malawi. Suddenly Africa is looming large on my consciousness, for reasons in no way connected to Madonna on Angelina Jolie. (Do you think Ms. Pitt made that last name up? It seems likely her spouse didn’t mess with his.)
The news from Senegal is fairly upbeat, and following in her mother’s footsteps, Liz has started her own on-line letter. If you’d like receive updates, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org. I hate to compete with my own kid, but without a doubt the goings-on in Dakar have to be more interesting than the goings-on in Toledo. That said, I’m both happy that I live in a place where my shower comes from a tap, not a bucket, but unhappy I no longer have the guts to be the kind of person who doesn’t care.
Skype, by the way, is something many of you, particularly you overseas, might want to log onto. It’s been around for a long time, since I lived in Germany, at least, but late tech-adapter that I am, I only recently started using it. Basically it’s a voice-over-internet service that lets you talk--voice talk, not IM talk--for (in most cases) free. It was started by some guys in Estonia--those crazy former Soviets--but is now owned by e-bay (those crazy, canny marketers.) My Skype address, is barbaragoodman.
In other news, well, there isn’t a whole hell of a lot. Trying to write a book is remarkably time consuming; it can take more time to move me the character into the seat of my car than for me the person to physically drive to Buffalo. Fortunately last time that was supposed to happen my parents made the trip in reverse, bringing with a cooler of past-its-prime fruit and an uncooked roast rib of beef. No, Mom, that won’t make the book, but it should.
Liz was here for two weeks over the holidays and Bill makes periodic appearances, but for the most part it’s me and my computer. I saw an editorial cartoon this morning commenting on the fact that more and more American women now live alone. The comic, picked up from the New Orleans Times-Picayune, said (Frame 1) When asked if they are living with a spouse; (Frame 2) 51% of women said they are not; (Frame 3) 3% said they are; (Frame 4, a woman next to a guy clicking a remote) And 46% said, “oh, I suppose so…if you call this ‘living.’” I know that’s mean-spirited, but it made me laugh. I suppose sitting in front of a computer screen isn’t living either, living is what Liz is doing trying to catch a crowded car rapide in centre-ville Dakar (watching a friend get pickpocketed in the process) or what the Skype dudes were doing making something out of nothing. But writing about living also has its pleasures, they’re just not as immediate.
Culture alert for Toledoans: The Village Players (a competitor, but I believe in shareware) is mounting a play called “The Best Man,” a political satire/comedy/ tragedy/slice of life written by Gore Vidal (distant cousin of Al) in 1964. It’s excellent, both as a script and as a production. For the first time in five years I made myself watch GWB on TV two weeks ago, the “surge” speech, but couldn’t sit through it, couldn’t stand myself for wanting to talk back to the television, couldn’t stand him for what he said or his critics for their self-serving, (albeit, in my mind, closer to “right”) equally scripted commentaries. That Vidal got this down so perfectly 43 years ago makes me wonder if anyone ever listens to reason. (Yes, certain Greeks got it down perfectly millennia ago, but I haven’t seen their plays recently.)
Anyway, I will end here, short and sweet-ish before you’ve had too much of me. The older we get, (the longer we write) the more, I think, we become parodies of ourselves. You think so, too? Don’t answer.