Wednesday, October 03, 2012


One thing I know: don't make any major life decisions with a 102F fever. And so it has been for the last few days: the sore throat, the headache, the body aches, and now the raspy man-voice. One typically Italian man with whom I work said to me today (as I croaked to him down the phone) "where are you?" "In bed, deathly ill," I rasped. "You sound amazing," he said, somewhat lustily. So much for ginger and lemon and cayenne and hot water and Ribena. But back to the point, never make any life decisions with a fever. Fevers make you paranoid and sad and small and utterly without a sense of humor. With health comes energy, expansion, bigness, happiness, wit (one hopes).

It's lousy in Los Angeles at the beginning of October. On the east coast there is rain and rainbows and colored leaves and apple picking and glorious bonfires and sausages on sticks. Here we have dried out hillsides and cut native grass lying about in black garbage bags like SoCal silage and winds that feel like hairdryers and the constant murmuration of earthquakes (no, not starlings, dear pedants). While others are making toffee apples and pumpkin soup and singing "Old Uncle Tom Cobbley and All" we are reading Joan Didion and tweeting the presidential debate and feeling sad that Obama was so boring tonight ("take that man to Starbucks" said someone) and wondering what will happen if the Republicans without a plan run the country. And it's too warm for "hearty autumn fare" so we're still nibbling on lettuce leaves and eating ice lollies to stave off the heat and mending the fence so that the dogs can't get out to carouse with their coyote friends. And after three days in bed I am giddy with boredom and sick of doing skyped conference calls in pyjamas and dying to be back in the office in relative cool and civility, eating bad food off the truck on the lot.

And then there's the giving up. You know, when you naively believe there's still a spark of hope left and you give a tiny little millimeter only to be slapped in the face and you wish you hadn't and you realize how much easier everyone's lives would be if the divorce were over and you were on your own completely and you didn't have to worry about the house and the hillside and the holes in the fence and the deck which is listing dangerously towards the environs of Sunset Plaza (and not in a good way, more like the Titanic), or the fact that the sprinklers don't work and you don't know how to fix sprinklers, despite learning how to use the sprinkler computer box which you think is awfully clever. There are school fees and medical bills and all the things that overwhelm you when you spend three days at home, on top of the 800 emails you receive every day. And you look in the mirror at your pale face with the hair scraped back and you think yikes, seriously, who'd have me anyway looking the way I do in frumpy pajamas and a strawberry pink hoodie that has seen better days.

Miss Bean

"The vet says that Bean is impulsive" say Monica. "Impulsive?" I say. "Hmmm."
"You know, the way she licks that hot spot. How she can't stop even though it makes it worse."
Ah. Compulsive. Yes, of course I understand. The irresistible urge to keep doing something even though it hurts. So much.

If Bean were a human she would pull out clumps of her hair. Unless she's running around on the hillside, under the trees or in the canyon. Last weekend I took them all to Little Tujunga Canyon and walked up into the National forest, under the oaks, in dappled light before the sun had come over the horizon, down to the old creek bed, which is barely a trickle at this time of the year, and she ran and she ran and she ran. Came back to me, smiled, and ran again.  And we stood there in the middle of the rocky bed of alluvium watching the Mexican cowboys and the hawks soaring overhead just above the ancient oaks. It's peaceful there in the morning. There is nothing and there is everything.

There's a great piece in EW today about the films of Paul Thomas Anderson by Owen Gleiberman (whether or not you agree with him, it's brilliantly written). More than anything it reminded me of this beautiful film, Magnolia. Watch Aimee Mann's Wise Up here. I mean, if you can, please watch it. You will know what I mean, I promise. Or have a look below:

Magnolia - Aimee Mann - Wise Up from Shoaib Akhtar on Vimeo.


nancyblackett said...

My father sang that song to us throughout my childhood except I am sure he always started "bill brewer, bill brewer, lend me your gray mare, all along, down along, out along, lee". Anyway, apart from that shared experience, I want to wish you a speedy recovery. You are dealing with so many trying things and I can understand that sometimes you just want to surrender to it all. You are SO resilient, so warm with optimism and generosity and so hopeful that people will be kind. Get well soon, hope your heart stops aching so.

Moonboots said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Unknown said...

801 emails....thanks for a beautiful piece of writing and the link to the video....I hope you come out the other side of this tough time knowing how to love is something all us mid-live divorced gals need to learn...get well soon and trust me that even though the dream dies hard, life is going to be fricking amazing, better than ever!

Jessie said...

Feel better, Miss W. Things certainly do tend to look dismal when looking through the prism of illness. You are resilient and strong, and I am confident that you will be back to seeing things in a better light soon.

As much as the fall seems so lovely elsewhere, I always enjoy seeing your photos from the left coast as I haven't spent a lot of time there!

materfamilias said...

I keep daring myself to watch this film again -- so amazing! I listen to the Aimee Lee Mann tracks often, but together with images? absolutely devastating.
But anyone who can write like you can knows how to handle devastating. . . .and maybe so, I'll watch Magnolia again. . . Thank you!

LPC said...

You'll be fine. In some part because you allow yourself such devastation. And, can I say, I am wholly and fully in love. At 56.

Tania Kindersley said...

I know this is a sad subject, but oh, oh it is a beautiful bit of writing.