12:19 p.m. Things are slowly getting back to normal. I am slowly beginning to feel exuberant and powerful again. Things are where I can find them. I will be able to lay on hands. A vast sense of control is sweeping across my mental terrain, terraforming the chaos. Look it up! Look it up! It will only take a moment. I wish I could have been a librarian, living my life in total thrall to Louie Dewey Decimal, quietly shushing along the stacks, tucking in the stray corner, smoothing and soothing the wrinkled brows of troubled youth.
My books are now mostly in subject piles, soon to be alphabetized even within those categories. Philosophy segues to religion to psychology to New Age babble. I want to believe, so I turn to the text. I study finance, math, and science. Usually to no avail, I might add. Sober history is viciously elbowed aside by true crime, which in turn is eclipsed by the short-attention-span-grabbing celebrity biography.
Those who don't remember history will be forced to reread it.
And believe you me, there will be a quiz. Guessing is allowed. Encouraged. You can even poll the audience if you're stuck between a rock critic and a hardhearted agent. Try balancing a cocktail weenie and an argument about the perils of the Cold War or Global Warming against the slippery slope of a film mogul's indifference and even without the Sonny Bono cameo, you already know how it's all going to end up. If you don't at least pretend to have all the answers in this frightened Town Without Pity, you will never get paid at the end of the month.
No, it isn't very pretty. No one will take your calls. There will be no more meetings at Morton's, drinks at Dray's, smoozing over samosas at Spago. Not that I would know, firsthand, of course. Although I have been known to pipe up with the colorful quip every now and then -- mostly I'm left behind like a cheat sheet while the guys in this town do all the serious talking.
Virginia Woolf once said (and I'm paraphrasing the words, but not the meaning) that a woman's function in life is to act as a sort of fun-house mirror, reflecting a man's image back to him as bigger than it really is. Ladies, hear me now and weep and gnash in private. If you want to be a success in this life, heed Ms. Woolf. What she says.
When I was a callow youth, I believed that we lived in a fair and equable world. Ha. I believed that if you studied hard and achieved good grades and brushed and polished your various hardened epidermal extensions, you would get ahead. Ha again. I believed in waiting to be called upon, waiting for my turn. Need I say it: ha!
A little knowledge is indeed, a dangerous thing. It makes you jealous of those with even less, who just happen to be driving a Mercedes 500 gee-whiz. Why them, not me? Don't ask; they won't tell until the price is right. But how did I get way the hell out here, in the bitter hinterlands, when all I wanted to do was describe how my book organization was coming along?
I am so grateful to finally have a place big enough to spread my treasure out and share it with the world. Just last night, for instance, I settled down with one of the new books I'd snatched off the street, just minutes ahead of the garbage grinders. It's a clear example of my point, which seems to have gotten lost somewhere between the teetering argument, the push-me pull-you of the have's and the have-nots. Where was I?
Oh yes, Loren Eiseley. Well, now there's a name that was in danger, for me, of being lost forever were it not for the superb library of the architect across the street. Eiseley was a writer and biologist, a major inspiration to Auden and Bradbury, two of my favorites, to give you some idea. Auden wrote the introduction to The Star Thrower, the book I am lucky enough to now have, and here's what Bradbury said on the back cover:
"The book will be read and cherished in the year 2001. It will go to the MOON and MARS with future generations. Loren Eiseley's work changed my life."
Whew. And I almost missed out. There's some fabulous reading here for me now. Poetry, lucid prose, the works. It's true, I'll admit, that I thought Loren was a woman, and that's one of the reasons I grabbed the book from the pile of the damned, but no matter. So, he's a guy. Another dead white guy. I'm big; I can contain multitudes.
And now, you too, have some more info for mental ammo. Be careful. Don't blow it. Discuss amongst your various selves. If you're male, fire away. If female, file it away. Sorry, I'm not making up the rules here, just merely reporting and retorting.
email Street Mail Shadow Lawn Press archives
yesterday September tomorrow
all verbiage © Nancy Hayfield Birnes