Thursday, February 26, 2015

Are you lonesome tonight?

I think the word "loneliness" is one of the hardest to utter.

I'm told it goes hand in hand with "divorce" "menopause" "empty nest." I'm still married, I'm not (yet, I don't think) going through menopause but yes, both my children don't live at home, but my husband and I have been apart for close to four years and though we are great friends, we lead our own lives.

Tonight on the phone I spoke to a friend of mine who suffers as I do. I know this because she pisses me off. She goes for long periods of time without calling me and I inevitably taking this personally. I'm wrong. She's worked all her life. She was a studio head. She is very, very smart. And she's not happy when she's not working. And so, like me, she hides sometimes. She stays in bed all day and reads books. Tonight I got her on the phone and I was happy about it. She has a deep, calm, purring voice and like me, she has Norwegian roots. We think of ourselves as tough girls. I told her why I fired my client who won three Oscars. She told me why she got back together with her husband.

And then I told her something I've never told anyone else, until today. I said "I'm lonely." I lived my whole life with someone else. And it's been four years since he's been gone, and I miss having a nice warm body in my bed. And I broke up with my lovely English boyfriend before Valentine's day, and he didn't live here anyway, and the truth is, I hole up here. I work. I sleep. I eat. I walk my dogs. And I'm lonely. And tonight, for the first time ever, as I was making pasta with pine nuts and cauliflower and parsley and reading Joan Didion's recipes, and talking to my lovely lumpy lady, who is 14 and a dalmatian, and very very lame on her front foot, I thought of a good idea, stirring garlic into the onions and cauliflower. I thought for the first time in nearly four years that I should call up my ex-husband and ask him if we should try again.

Now I know that we love each other. And I know that we're not compatible. And I know that he has a lovely girlfriend. And I know that there is a man in England that I'm mad about even though it's over. (I know that I love him madly despite the fact that he is a flakey, crazy, excuses-laden chap, hopelessly devoted to his singleton-dom.) But just for a moment, I thought, wouldn't it be nice to feel some relief from this terminal loneliness? And I do love the father of my children. He is a good man, a kind man, a man who buys excellent Christmas presents. But, jeez, what is that about?

What is this loneliness that creeps in at the time of year when we should be feeling hopeful? Spring solstice is only a few weeks away. Every morning I hear the birds singing jubilantly in the canyon. The grass is the greenest it will be this year. The trees are budding. I should be in someone's arms, drinking it all in, feeling optimistic.

I long, I long to be wrapped in warm arms. I long to make a cup of tea at six o'clock in the morning for someone other than myself. I know this is temporary. I know that this will pass. I know I must stick to my list of mental health fixes. (See the photo below. I'm amused, and must thank my ex-boyfriend for pointing out that I said THE nature, instead of nature, but you get the point.)

But I'm going to say it anyway. Although I am rich with friends, and I have a thriving business and clients I adore, I am lonely. (No disrespect, dog and horse friends, you've been wonderful). I'm also amused by it. People think because I am jolly and English and usually very optimistic that I'm always out and about and on the town. This could not be further from the truth.

This is what I'd like: to lay out under the stars somewhere without light pollution with the dogs and a nice warm jersey, and a nice man who understands what a nut I am and doesn't care. That's it. And maybe he'd be holding my hand.

A letter to "Kate," the cat burglar

Here's an open letter my friend Eve wrote to the woman who picked up and kept Eve's beloved "lost" cat for a couple of weeks. It's self-explanatory. -- Miss W

Dear “Kate,”

I’m not sure if “Kate” is even your real name as you blocked your number before calling me and didn’t volunteer any other information about yourself when you and your mom, Judy, came to my home last night.

Let me start by saying again, Thank You, for returning Jane.

My family and I have literally been emotionally suffering since “losing” Jane 2/7/15. We have been going out with food and flashlights 2-3 times a day calling and looking for her. We have knocked on countless neighbors’ doors (many people know her). Of the 200 posters we printed, we stuffed them in over 50 mailboxes, put them up on posts in a ¼ miles radius, gave flyers to our mailman, FedEx and UPS driver and dog walkers. We put up posters in Starbucks and To Wag For on Montana Ave. We contacted every vet in Santa Monica as well as several shelters and put a lost cat profile on their watch list. There are ads on PetKey and PetFinders. We put up two Lost Cat ads in Community under Pets and Lost and Found on Craigslist. The information on the posters and ads and that all these organizations have is that Jane went missing 2/7/15 and is micro-chipped.

A little more about Jane: she (and her two littermates) was bottle fed from 2 weeks old by my mom, who has been featured on Animal Planet for cat rescue. We’ve had her with us in Santa Monica since she was 8 weeks old. She is (or at least was) an exceptionally friendly, funny cat, always purring and chirping to us.

When you first called you were “hesitant” about returning her. You wanted to do “what was best for Jane.” You openly stated you were questioning if she came from a good and responsible home.

You mentioned Jane is an “absolute delight” and that she is very soft. How do you think she got that way? Because she came from an irresponsible and abusive household? Jane was brushed, fed and adored by three doting humans EVERY DAY.

Well? What’s your opinion now? Are you surprised to learn that you are not the only good pet owner on the planet? What about the other neighborhood cats you heard me mention last night? Why not pick them up? Why not make their owners suffer, too?

Jane is not the same since you deigned to return her. I understand, much better than the average cat owner, that it will take time because she was yanked from her territory and held in a new environment with another cat she’s not familiar with. Jane used to purr as soon as you called her or touched her. She is now skittish, not purring, not coming to us. She is also overweight.

I don’t believe you fully grasp cat behavior if, as you say, you saw Jane “more than once” IN THE SAME TERRITORY. Jane had her “routine.” She was so regular in fact, our neighbors have checked in with us in the past to say Jane and Xena were in their yard playing @ 10:30am just like clockwork.

If you feel YOU are such a responsible cat owner, why did you needlessly expose your own cat to a “stray?” You don’t know if the cat you picked up has Feline Leukemia, parasites, etc.

You said you didn’t see posters or online ads. Does that mean that they weren’t there? Sure, we didn’t go nuts with TONS of posters until 6 days after her disappearance, but the initial posters and information went out within 48 hours.

You could have at the VERY LEAST called in anonymously to the Santa Monica shelter or any vet in the area and asked if anyone was looking for a cat meeting her description. You would have gotten your answer.

You said Jane was running in the street @ 10:30pm. As a nocturnal animal, she probably was. She is an indoor-outdoor cat and that is the risk you take with such a cat. She WAS happy to have it that way. Neighbors enjoyed her and looked out for her. Our other cat, Xena, was her constant playmate. Now they are hissing at each other.

There are SO MANY CATS that need homes or are not cared for. Can you HONESTLY say that upon seeing Jane, that she wasn’t well-cared for?

I hesitated this morning writing this letter because I am now a little terrorized that you could take her again if you see her and not return her. As I don’t know who you are or where you live, I would have no recourse to get Jane back again. I would like to kindly suggest that you take your judgment of other pet owners down a notch.

You have NO idea who I am in regard to animal rescue and care. The day before you returned Jane, I rescued a boxer, “Sparky,” off San Vicente Blvd who’d gotten out of his yard and hit by a car. I found the owner, beyond distressed at having lost the dog (for a whole 30 minutes) who is now injured. He wasn’t home when it happened. A well-meaning person in his employment accidentally let the dog out of the house. IT HAPPENS. But, my first impression upon seeing the dog was, “Gee, this dog is so well-cared for and so friendly, I’m sure he got out and got lost.”

I wonder what truly compelled you to finally, after almost THREE WEEKS, return Jane. I am thrilled that she isn’t hurt or dead, but I am appalled that you were more than able and capable of finding her home within MINUTES of picking her up but instead chose to sit smugly in judgment of another pet owner.

Next time, YOU do the right and RESPONSIBLE thing and consider the pet’s and the owner’s situation and feelings first before your own. 



Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Dream Song 29

Dream Song 29

There sat down, once, a thing on Henry's heart   
só heavy, if he had a hundred years 
& more, & weeping, sleepless, in all them time   
Henry could not make good. 
Starts again always in Henry's ears 
the little cough somewhere, an odour, a chime. 

And there is another thing he has in mind   
like a grave Sienese face a thousand years 
would fail to blur the still profiled reproach of. Ghastly,   
with open eyes, he attends, blind. 
All the bells say: too late. This is not for tears;   

But never did Henry, as he thought he did, 
end anyone and hacks her body up 
and hide the pieces, where they may be found. 
He knows: he went over everyone, & nobody's missing.   
Often he reckons, in the dawn, them up. 
Nobody is ever missing.


Monday, February 23, 2015

Breathe again

It's over. We can all breathe again. Those of us that make our livings in Hollywood can now look up and see the world around us and not just through the prism of Awards bloggers and special events and red carpets and shaping a strategic narrative. Outside, nature has been washed, everything is glittering after yesterday's rain, and the birds are positively jubilant. And the best thing? A phone call from my daughter at 7.30am. "I'm calling you for JK Simmons" she says. I beam.

My neck has a permanent dent in it from looking down at my phone. One of this week's New Yorker covers is appropriate:

How many of us miss the butterflies?

Every day is a choice. I realize this as I lay in bed at 5 or 6, wondering whether I can handle what's coming at me, wondering how everything will turn out, wondering if I'm strong enough to function in this town (my chronic dislike of the red carpet is well documented) or keep my head high for another day. But today I got up, I went outside with my limpy lame old lumpy lady who can barely walk, and she stopped and sniffed the fresh, rain-cleansed air, and positively smiled at it, and I thought yes, you can do this.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Ash Wednesday

“And the lost heart stiffens and rejoices in the lost lilac and the lost sea voices and the weak spirit quickens to rebel for the bent golden-rod and the lost sea smell quickens to recover.”
-- TS Eliot, Ash Wednesday

Thursday, January 29, 2015

(She invented) Medicinal compound (the saviour of the human race)

I'm eating oranges in bed, covered in a turquoise blanket, laptop balanced on my thighs, dogs spread out around the me in puddles of spotted loveliness. I'm in my knickers and a t-shirt and it's been an 'orrible day. There is a pile of pills by my bed: two kinds of antibiotics, some prednisone, three advil, one vicodin, also a glass of water and a jar of hyacinths to remind me it's spring.

What a fucked up day.

I spent it at the offices of three different doctors, also a lab where they do chest x-rays.  I cheered myself up with a Cubano sandwich - thick cut ham and pork and yellow mustard and pickles on lovely egg bread -- from Rockenwagner.

I made a rash decision about a rheumatologist who seemed out of it on the phone and turned out to be an 80 year old, Norwegian, red-lipsticked version of Dr House himself, turning over ever possible thing that had ever happened to me (horses, dogs, ticks, vertigo, broken fingers and toes, aversion to runny egg yolk) to try to diagnose this AWFUL thing which I will refer to as TURNIP NOSE.
My nose which felt like someone karate chopped it at the bridge last week, and which healed after a massive dose of steroids and antibiotics, has swollen up again and hurts like a MOFO.

"There is nothing else for it," said my boyfriend, gravely. "You will have to have an entire nose-al transplant. You have your choice: Nicole Kidman, Tom Cruise or Cameron Diaz." I read of the list of blood panels they're asking for and he says, "Don't forget SNSOBCO (Sore Nose Syndrome Of (Probable) Canine Origin)." He is obsessed with the idea that my sleeping with dogs has led to my possible lupus diagnosis. He reads paragraphs out of Web MD on Wegener's Disease and adds line like "and sharing sleeping quarters with (furry) pets." Okay, I'm not going to alarm you. It's polychondritis and they're trying to rule out vasculitis, lupus, lyme disease, hence the barrage of blood work (8 vials but I did get a granola bar and some apple juice) and the CT scan and the chest x-ray. Hence the meeting with two new specialists tomorrow, and the new antibiotic and the doubling up on prednisone.

You can become a professional patient. I learned how to nap on the doctor's comfortable table, with the nice butcher paper on it, how to prop my head up against the wall and daydream at the imaging center while CNN buzzed faintly in the background. I learned that you can buy a phone charger at 7/11 and even drunk guys will hold open the door for you if you smile (it was nice, not anti-feminist, it was a nice thing on a shitty day).

My doctor is patient and kind and smells faintly of gum disease, which I don't dislike because it reminds me of my father. He stands quite close to my face and says, smiling kindly, "We'd like to rule everything out." I find myself loving him for being thorough and good and not swish. "They're a bit swish these Beverly Hills doctors" I say to the male nurse, who is probably a medical student. He's handsome, Asian, from San Diego, dressed in scrubs, no sense of humor, but kind. "I don't understand swish" he says. "It's sort of onomatopoeic," I say, "you know, those glam doctors that take themselves too seriously." He stops in his tracks, and turns around, with my urine sample in its plastic bag, in his hands, and he says, "I've learned so much from this doctor. He is patient with me. He spends time explaining." He dwells on the word 'patient' and I think I know what he means.

After the chest x-ray I drive home and think of my friends who spend time only in doctor's appointments and I wonder how they manage. A woman in Westwood stops me at a light to ask about my new Mini.  Her daughter, who is driving cringes in embarrassment. I tell her it's my first day out in it and that I love it. Things the English never do, I think, talking to people in the next lane in traffic. Would I? Am I English? Or am I an Angeleno? I don't know anymore. I'm driving down Wilshire Boulevard in that corridoor in Westwood where the retirees live, under cloudy skies, looking at the 50 Shades of Grey poster that's plastered on the side of the OXY petroleum building, eating my Cubano sandwich, because I'm starving and it's nearly 3 and I haven't had breakfast and I'm wondering what's going on. I make a left on Beverly Glen and wing it up to Sunset, and climb up Coldwater, marvelling on Mulholland at the sun on the horizon, a thin line of melon in the grey. And there's a bandage on my arm where they took the blood and my nose hurts and I want to sleep. And I've been told my blood pressure is elevated because of the advil and the prednisone and that I should buy a home blood pressure machine but I should make sure that the cuff is adult size (because God knows, those kids like to play around with blood pressure cuffs) and I think, is this worth it? Here I am, and I'm 51 and is this, actually, the beginning of the end?

Maybe I was just tired. I went home and I slept.

The text I woke up to was that a friend had died. Not a close friend, but someone whose children I know well -- she had 5. And she was a good woman, fit, a tennis player, smiley. And she dropped dead of a heart attack at 56. It makes no sense. There is nothing to make sense of.

And then there's love. The thing we chase and hope for and all of us, some secretly, want it. It's why we're here. And what are these other things? Are they there to make life more poignant? Are they there to teach us a lesson? To stop us eating butter? Red meat?

In the ER with Bean last night (two puncture wounds from a coyote) I made friends with three different people and their dogs. We were there a long time, gathered around The Waking Dead, a show I'd never seen before, involving The Zombie Apocalypse, cute guys with beards and guns, some trucks. We shared stories, mostly of our dogs, and laughed and commiserated with each other and we'll probably never see each other again. But it felt pretty nice. And I met Mara and Mr Dog and Hank, who had spotted paws, and I know a little bit about their lives. People talk to each other in those situations. There's no pretense. Dogs are coming and going. Sometimes they come in and you know they won't leave. There are tears. It's a sort of strange microcosm of life. We're all dorks. We're all in it together. We're all fragile and human. Perhaps that's what we embrace. Perhaps that what we love.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

A hard decision

I've always wanted my public persona to be Brave and Strong. I think anything other than Brave and Strong wasn't really respected in our house when I grew up.  It's a hard habit to shake. It's like the time I went out with the boy scouts, aged 9, without shoes on, running in the woods with the boys because I wanted them to be impressed. Stung by nettles and cut by wild blackberries, I soldiered on, head held high. Ridiculous, I know. I mean, generally, I am pretty brave. I deal with stuff, especially emergencies, and then collapse a few days later and stay in bed for the day.  I'm really, really good in emergencies. But sometimes you have to make a decision that maybe you wouldn't have made a few years ago and today I made such a decision. I resigned an account (fired a client) who, though a brilliant genius, was making my life a Living Hell. I've been beating myself up about it. I kept thinking it was me. If I could just be better, or more clever, things would get better, but they didn't. Our communication was horrible. And for all the accolades and all the Oscar nominations, it was no-one's fault. It was just like a shitty marriage. And better to know that now than later. But it's sad, nonetheless. I've worked with a lot of creative geniuses in my life, and it's all about the fit, the chemistry. If it works, you can deal with anything.

I told my daughter today and I was worried about it. I know she holds me in high esteem and I know that she is proud of my job and the things I get to work on. She said the greatest thing. She said, "That's great. Proud of you for doing that." That, really, was all that mattered.