Recognizing the Ends

“It’s easier to see the beginning of things and harder to see the ends,” wrote Joan Didion. After six years of keeping one foot in New York, long after my time there had come to an end, I thought I’d share some tips of how to recognize the ends.

When you yell at a taxi driver like Dustin Hoffman’s character, Ratso Rizzo, in Midnight Cowboy.

When your doctor says your back pain may be the result of the 10lbs of stuff you haul around in your backpack from dusk to midnight.

When your boyfriend carries a beer inside a brown paper bag at 10 a.m. to have one for the “road” via subway on the way to the Coney Island music fest.

When you stare out from your high rise office window and wonder if the bike messenger has a more interesting job than you.

And, finally, when your relationship grows into a transaction.

I loved New York for all the reasons any wandering soul does. The energy radiating from the sidewalks. A city where both history is revered and the future is created. The ability to stroll street upon street passing thousands of people while still remaining anonymous.  And then it ended.  I bought real estate.  And everything I loved about that city became about keeping and maintaining a piece of property.  And then that’s all it became.

This week, I officially said goodbye to all that.  Now it’s time to fall in love with a new place.


An Orchid Doctor’s Diagnosis

my orchidThis past weekend I went with my mother, aunt, and our three orchids to the Botanical Gardens Orchid Care Clinic.  There were nearly 16 of us in line to see the Orchid doctor, cradling our plants like a baby about to receive care. As we moved down the line, we exchanged tips on the best fertilizer or planting materials (apparently bark chips mixed with the styrofoam peanuts is the miracle fodder). One helpful lady advised on care tips – as well as a number to call – for leaving my mother’s orchids alone for three weeks as my parents embarked on an overseas vacation.  For most, the doctor replanted their orchids into more fertile enviroments, because their current ones didn’t provide optimum care. Except for the one woman who brought in 8 orchid plants.  You have too many plants for me to examine, the doctor explained.  Conversely, my mother’s baby orchid had the perfect support system to bloom into a beautiful adult plant. Just keep doing what you’re doing. One woman’s plant was dotted with black spots, and was advised to put it to rest. It’s contracted a vascular disease. If you keep it near the other plants, they will die too.  For mine, pictured above, the doctor advised the mother has sprouted a baby, but it’s under great stress to keep the baby alive. In 6 months, when the baby is ready to be on its own, the mother will die.  Just keep the mother alive until then.  Hmm.

Battleground State – A Novel

Some writers write a novel in 30 days and others take several, even ten, years.  It took me 4 years after Obama’s election in 2008.  I was paid field staff in Georgia for the 2008 campaign and I began in January after the inauguration. I’ve published it just in time for Obama’s second inauguration.  It took too long.  Too much time to ruminate and sulk about where it wasn’t heading. Not enough time writing. (Please note that I also work three jobs–to be discussed in more detail later.)  Perhaps had I written it within a year after the election, the New York agents would’ve snatched it up and had a bidding war among the publishers.  Or at least that’s what one agent said.   No matter what anyone says, timing is everything.   Just like when you meet that person who challenges your mind and excites your heart, and then on the third date you learn he’s living in his parents’ basement after being laid off at his investment banking job awaiting seed money for his on-line porn/pizza and beer delivery platform.  You say “next” because it may just take three years for the site to launch.  Goldmine, perhaps. But who can wait?   Wait, am I the guy living in the basement hatching a porn/pizza-beer delivery business in this analogy?  Ok, I understand NY agent who had to pass on me. Well, my next novel, already begun, will be completed by the end of the year. First draft that is.  First, shitty draft.    Regardless, I hope you enjoy Battleground State if, for any reason, because it should give you hope the next time you volunteer for an effort that initially feels futile, like trying to win Georgia for the Democrats.  Give it time because it won’t be.   “Novels ought to have hope; at least, American novels ought to have hope. French novels don’t need to. We mostly win wars, they lose them. Of course, they did hide more Jews than many other countries, and this is a form of winning.”― Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life