Friday, February 11, 2011

The Human Race - Joining It

It's a slow road with switchbacks.

In too many ways I'm still doing damage control from the Descent that began in July.  My job has been threatened.  I don't know how I'm going to make it financially.  There is so much stuff I have to do that I go blank contemplating how to get my life back in order.

I was wandering around on Kindle the other night, looking for something nonthreatening, and made a discovery that put me in a cold sweat.  I haven't been a literary agent for eight years but there was someone I had worked very, very hard for and been unable to sell.  That person's books, which I edited with an Exacto knife, are now published.

I was surprised that my former, er, career still has that kind of power over me and I noted on Facebook that I wanted to chew my right hand off with jealousy.

"X (the literary agent who made money off some serious work I had done on the manuscript) doesn't have Daisy," I mantra'd as I turned off my computer and crawled into bed.  "X doesn't have a new flannel nightgown and clean flannel sheets and Daisy."

Of course, X might well have much better stuff but does not have that ineffable alchemy of flannel and Daisy, the solid 70-pounds of muscled weight sleeping next to me.

The Prozac, you see, is working.  The dosage isn't yet right but the worst is over until the next time.

Sometime in the last month I had a severe loneliness for a god I can't quite believe in.  One evening I went out to walk Sandy, a mild enough golden retriever, and demanded that god get down here and show himself to me.  It was a week of fuck-ups at school coming back to haunt me and I was scared and, always, lonely.  This demand was a bratty win-win: I know there is no god with a personal interest in me so there would be no answer and I could continue my terror and loneliness in blissful non-peace.

Then Sandy's owner gave me a hundred-dollar tip she referred to as "snow duty".

It was not Fatima but it was a penny placed on the other side of my personal scales of life.

And so I told the green-eyed dog of jealousy that I have a silky yellow one to sleep with, thank you very much, and fell asleep wondering how much of a wreck I would be the next day.

I woke at six in a rush to get to Facebook and quit all my farms.  Suddenly, I had to declutter that much of my life.  (I kept my city.  It's my only game and takes little time.)  And I was surprised to see that my post had several responses from women I respect saying, me too.  I was comforted not to be alone.

Not to be alone.

Not to be alone.

By writing a sentence I had let some people admit to the green dog as well and I could begin to laugh.  I began to hope that the version of the manuscript I worked hardest on had been the one to sell.  I owe that boss amends, although not for what she probably thinks I owe.  Maybe I can say I made them with that work.

Maybe it augers well for the novel I'm editing now.

That morning, the winter light poured through the windows of Grand Central so purely that I thought there was a spotlight shining on the west windows.  I asked one of my students if he'd seen it and yes, he said, he thought it was a special effect, too.  And I felt I had not been alone in that cold bath of early light, and that my loneliness and my isolation are not one and the same but are, certainly, related.  If I can't break the former maybe I can break the latter.  And maybe that will begin to mend the day-to-day lack of family and close friends at hand.

By whatever means.


Marianne said...

This is a great piece. I recently had a similar experience but of an old acquaintance who published and I spent three hours reading about/stalking him, got up the next morning and hired a nanny so I can finish writing... I guess my next step is to get a dog...

Literacygirl said...

Thanks for posting this, my FB friend. (We watched "Heavy" together?) I identify with every morsel you have created here. We are not alone. And everytime you get the courage to show that vulnerability, so many of us are blessed by it. Keep being real.

Anne D said...


E. Jane said...

Wonderful post, Frances. Keep looking for the light, and let in shine into your life every chance you get. You have talent; you have heart; you can make it; you're stronger than you think.

Marian said...

Oh jeez, and here I thought the green-eyed monster had visited you because of some man! (I have Valentine's Day on the brain, and a bad, bad case of "oh lord, why isn't he mine?!")

I see the publishing world is as cut-throat as ever. There's so little good stuff getting out there at all - you should be proud. And I can't imagine anybody is getting rich off of books anymore except for Stephen King etc.

kim Anderson said...

So happy to see your words back here, especially this beautiful post. I hope knowing you're loved by so many of us here online helps the loneliness even a little. And may the gods bless Sandy's owner. (For a really funny fast read try God's Behaving Badly. I giggled all through an otherwise miserable plane ride.)

Anonymous said...

I'm glad to see you are back. You are not alone.