Notes from the Edge

Carrie Fisher wrote these words for Meryl Streep to say as a fictionalized version of herself in the semi-autobiographical film Postcards from the Edge:

I can’t feel my life.  I look around and I know so much of it is good…but I just can’t believe it…I don’t want my life to imitate art.  I want my life to be art.

Those lines are condensed from a climactic speech where a perennially snide, yet terribly insecure and newly sober actress for the first time admits she realizes how fortunate she is to be alive and to have opportunities in which to thrive.

an eye opener

It was an embarrassingly honest bit of contemporary self-parody 30 years ago. 

I mean, who is truly going to feel sorry for a talented young woman born into a wealthy show business family whose real life inspiration played Princess Leia in Star Wars?

But who knew it would have additional resonance all these decades later where so many of us are walking around wringing our hands over what our 2021 lives are, are not, or may never be?

The very same people who could have predicted that both Princess Leia AND the actress who played her would also be gone.

Stop that!

It doesn’t help that the news gives us daily warnings that the Covid Monster we assumed we were beginning to slay is actually still lurking just outside our door and ingeniously getting even closer.  

The latest tidbit is that the viral load for those infected with its new and improved Delta variant is ONE THOUSAND TIMES higher than its original and almost TWICE as CONTAGIOUS.

This reminds me of another line from another even more classic film, The Wizard of Oz.  After her house accidentally drops on the Wicked Witch of the East and that witch’s evil sister stands before her, an already nervous Dorothy is immediately warned by her friend Glinda that:

This is the Wicked Witch of the West.  And SHE’S WORSE THAN THE OTHER ONE!!

I’LL GET YOU MY PRETTY!

Considering film is our best cultural representation of what it’s like to be human, it shouldn’t be at all surprising that so many of us are in our current emotional states.

Well, I for one, had to take at least a partial step back from all of it this week.  There is nothing clever nor particularly profound about this decision except, well, I had to do anything but intermittently freak out amid, well, intermittently freaking out.

And as someone once told me, sometimes it’s better to do something, or anything, than nothing.

(Note:  I think it was a therapist who gave me that advice but I can’t be entirely sure I actually didn’t once read it in some old Carrie Fisher interview).

… or maybe it was Gary.

In any event, since I wasn’t up for volunteering in a space where I would be around anyone or anything I didn’t know (or anything or anyone who wasn’t vaccine certified), I chose to go back to the one constant in my life that has almost never let me down – friends.

One day I had an outside lunch with a buddy who I’ve known for over FORTY YEARS and haven’t seen in two.  Another evening was spent with two guys I haven’t seen in person in three years but have known for THIRTY. 

Another close friend I first met in 1982 is here for the summer and we’ve had a bunch of get-togethers.  I’ve also had a ton of long conversations with family members and others close to me that I haven’t talked to in a while. 

And now I’m all verklempt

I even – and I know this is shocking – made it a point to actually pay more attention to the person I see every day of my life – my HUSBAND – and actually make it a priority to LISTEN to what he had to say before I SAID anything.

The latter might not seem like a lot but, well… okay… the long married/long term couples will tell you…

I can’t tell you any of these was a panacea aka CURE for what’s been lurking outside my door, or yours, but it did help – A LOT. 

At least for a while.  Until it didn’t.

It was at that time that I reached out to even more people and began to listen and look around at my surroundings.

And breathe. 

It’s been too long Johnny

That helped too.  A bit.  At which time, things got somewhat anxious again and I started to write stuff.  Not a lot but enough to get me through some rough hours.  As it has so many times, through so many decades before.

And when that lost its effect I even went for a run and…worked out?!!??  A bunch of times.  That, in turn, bought me a whole bunch of extra, non-worrying hours.   Much as it hurt and I didn’t want to do it.

Oh, and it also brought….appreciation.

I’m kidding… I think

See, at the end of the day what you realize is that any life at all is art, woefully imperfect and consistently stressful, daunting and even haunting, though it may be.

I wish I could cure Covid but I can’t.  I wish I could thoroughly avoid Covid but, practically speaking, it’s impossible and not advisable. 

Though what I can do, and all of us can do, is live our lives with some meaning AND with the people that make us laugh and make us happy, and not let it poison so much of what is good about living at all.

It’s not a perfect art but, as Ms. Fisher observed all those decades ago, that’s not what life’s about anyway.

She also once famously said:

Instant gratification takes too long.

Amen to that, also.

Meryl Streep – “I’m Checking Out” from Postcards from the Edge

THE BEST OF THE WORST

Let’s agree not to say or write 2020 was the worst year we can remember because, well, we don’t know what’s coming next.

I mean, no one could have predicted this sh-t show, this confluence of events, this utter turd avalanche that hit the world, and the United States in particular, for the last 12 months.

Sure, some of it.  But…all of it???

You can’t primarily blame any one person, but here on my throne in Hollywood I do

so, privately, each day.  And I do so publicly once or twice a week when I go on his twitter page and simply type –

LOSER. YOU LOST!

It’s cheaper than renting this van!
(currently googling how much it would be to rent this van #2021)

My husband thinks it’s immature and silly but hey, it makes me feel productive AND a lot better, two things I haven’t experienced much of since, well, 2019.

Admittedly, I do it partly in the hopes that he might see it or someone else will who could tell him.  But I mostly do it because one of the few positive things I’ve learned in this horrifically awful past year is that if some small act that doesn’t involve drug taking or violence lightens your load then hey, why not?

Does that make me no better than a Karen or a Ken

I’m gonna need to talk to the manager

Well, that’s for others to judge.  Which, I’ve also learned in the last year, is inevitable.

Speaking of judgments, I will admit that in wanting to normalize 2020, i.e. not give it any MORE than the already underserved and very extra special attention it’s currently getting, I attempted to make a traditional best and worst list.

HAHAHAHAHAHA!

Everything bad couldn’t come close to the totality of the year itself, so why list any one of them individually?  Everything good was simply just that — good.  Not great, not list worthy and certainly nothing much to write home, or here, about.

Perhaps there should be a moratorium on lists and awards for anything to the end of time for this entire year? 

Can someone make that rule? 

Joe?  Kamala?

She’s on it. #MOREMAYA2021

Do we want to give anyone that much executive power ever again?

I gotta say once I get past all the virus, disease, death, mask wearing and hand sanitizing of it all, well, there isn’t a lot left except the nascent smell of alcohol permeating everything in my room or on my person. 

Certainly not enough to explore the issue of executive power with.

And if there were I left them in a recorded Zoom chat that has likely already been permanently deleted. 

2021 – Year of the Hammer

Though as we all now know, nothing is permanent and certainly not one bit of it is EVER permanently DELETED.

I will say binging all six seasons of Schitt’s Creek nicely filled up a dozen or more evenings in our house this year.   And learning I’m not that unlike David Rose, only THREE decades older, filled a few online therapy sessions.

I found my religion

There were also the Sarah Cooper videos lip synching to audio of that LOSER spouting off recommendations of bleach injections; Leslie Jones’ Twitter commentary on those opining on the state of the world due to the LOSER; and a barrage of so much cable news that I became obsessed with writing to MSNBC’s Steve Kornacki, gay man to gay man, in an effort to get him to purchase a shirt, jacket and pair of pants that fit him right.  That’s how much I felt obligated, as a newfound friend, to tell him. The same for Pete Buttigieg.

Of course, Kornacki was just voted one of the sexiest guys alive (Note: People’s “Chartthrob’) and Pete is moving to D.C. to be in Biden’s cabinet so in the long run it’s probably a good thing I didn’t excel at follow through all during all this turmoil.

Leaving that to Chasten… for now

Though watching Ryan Murphy’s Netflix version of The Prom was a great big gay piece of bubble gum that gave me relief for about as long as, well, bubble gum lasts. I could also say the same for Disney’s Hamilton, David Fincher’s Mank (Note: Watch Amanda Seyfried steal the Glenn Close’s eighth chance at an Oscar this April!), every Christmas movie on Hallmark and Lifetime and all of the many offerings on Turner Classic Movies that temporarily kept me from going insane.

Except for the Westerns.  I hate the TCM (or any, really) Westerns. There, I said it. 

Way harsh Chairy!

Though I did enjoy Damien Chazelle’s dramatic musical limited series, The Eddy (Note: Somehow sorta gay) as well as The Queen’s Gambit (Note: Somehow VERY gay).  Thanks Netflix and don’t think I haven’t noticed your 2020 recommendations have now confirmed a sort of, VERY definite pattern.   

Though not a list.  Never a list.

Which brings me to the one thing I DO gravitate towards and couldn’t resist this year  — the 2020 f-k off videos.

This… exactly.

If there were a best of list to be rightfully made for this past road kill of an almost obsolete calendar it would be each and every one of them.

You might want to listen to this viral TikTok ditty from this all female group called Avenue Beat, literally entitled “Fuck 2020.”  This year being what it is, it shouldn’t surprise anyone to learn that these three young childhood friends from Quincy, Ill., who have been singing together since they were 14 year old, have already been getting major nasty Internet blowback for all the attention they’re getting.  To which I reiterate their message of:

Though equally as good was the Toronto advertising agency, Public Inc., that produced the ultimate mental health PSA, #Eff2020.  It’s everything you’ve thought and/or screamed at your TV, or out loud in small, socially distanced groups when you were feeling especially feisty  – aka – All. The. Time.

That being said, perhaps we should close out the year on some small positive note of… hope? I’m not an especially spiritual soul except when it comes to the white witchery of Stevie Nicks. 

She released this haunting new song in October and no one told me. 

But, I found it anyway.

And if that’s not a road map for 2021, well…..

Stevie Nicks – “Show Them The Way”