Saturday, August 17, 2019

About Last Night

When I was in college, I was very determined to live what I called an "episodic life." I would move from one episode to the next. While I'm not especially wanting to critique this philosophical disposition right now, I will say that I had some adventures in college. The USSR (during Gorbachev)! Europe! NY! Disneyland! My parents, a tad befuddled, joked, "You leave. You come home. You make a scrapbook. And you leave again."

I do have quite a few killer scrapbooks.

Now, a middle-aged goddess-wreck, I write a blog post. When I started my book-promo episode, Lori Hettler featured me in her AWESOME, ongoing, generous blog, "The Next Best Book Blog." At this point, I write a blog post and call it a day.

Alas . . . My Last Big Thing (Until Something Else Happens?)

Just the photos, ma'am . . .

I visited a book club last night.

So, let's be honest here: I'm good friends with Chhayal Patel-New. It was her book club, and she invited me to join them. Chhayal and I have a history, going back to 1998. I do need to tell you, just so you know, she's super smart--like one of the smartest people I know--and my first real memory of her is of this class we took together a million years ago at a local community college. This guy, her boyfriend at the time, was so into her . . . he was making this bread-crumb trail in the community college hallway to lead Chhayal straight to his heart or something like that, except instead of bread crumbs, it was, like, diamond nuggets or chocolate. I don't know. I don't remember his name. He didn't last. She married someone else.

Speaking of someone else. Matt. Chhayal doesn't know this, but there's actually one line in And So We Die, Having First Slept that was inspired by something that happened at her wedding. I will tell her the line (BUT ONLY PRIVATELY AND IN PERSON).

So Chhayal is a lawyer, and--as everyone knows who knows me--I love having friends who are doctors and lawyers. Not because of the prestige-thing, because I could give a shit, but because I'm a hypochondriac and I always get into legal trouble. #Truth
Love her!
She's also pretty hot. You can tell right here, right? (Sorry, Chhayal. It's true.)

But wait. This is your book club? You guys meet at the Westin Kierland Resort & Spa in Scottsdale? Are you freaking kidding me? Yeah, so basically her book club consisted of all these sophisticates who were oft-related, but not always, and who HAD read my book, but had also--no joke--hiked Machu Picchu, been scratched by monkeys in small villages in India, and were visiting from Brooklyn (which is pretty exotic for me these days). I'm, like, Girlfriends! I've got two kids who talk back to me, my husband is feeding them McDonald's, I'm on Tamoxifen so I'm going to hot-flash like a motherfucker, and--did I hear correctly? Is there an INFECTIOUS DISEASE DOCTOR IN THE HOUSE?--Okay, you group of lovelies: Bring. It. On.

They last did Steinbeck's East of Eden. Ha! I'm next!

Sara Mahoney is in this book group! Sara and I also go way back. We're actually like family. No joke. Sara is this extraordinarily gifted woman. artist, peacemaker, and pulse-taker (meaning that she senses what's going on and mitigates circumstances or awkwardnesses--which she did for me last night and many other days and nights before). She's a bit too vegetarian/granola sometimes, but she once lured her lost cat back home by strategically placing home-brewed urine in the right places to beckon the boy back. 
This is my husband on one side and Sara on the other. We were making pizza, back when I was skinny.

Reader, she married him.
This is Mejal, who is Chhayal's younger sister. I had to keep from gushing, "You're  the cutest thing ever!" She was this vivacious young woman--who had read my book in a binge-reading session so she was feeling it intensely and I think she pretty much "got it" in that way writers hope readers "get it." When I told Chhayal that her sister was adorable, Chhayal said, "Everyone loves Mejal."

Not pictured: Chhayal's older sister. Nimisha. I loved seeing Chhayal with her sisters, because you had her little sister gushing about the "rawness" of my book (you go, girl!), and you had the older (not that old, still younger than I) one, all no-nonsense, saying, "I'd dump his ass." (She didn't use these words.)
Sharon is in the red dress. She's a lawyer, and I got her card of course--in case I need her. She had recently read Normal People by Sally Rooney, which is on my TBR pile. Also, she asked me about Sappho.

Which leads me to another confession. Or multiple confessions. First, I love when people know who Sappho is--though I do not expect people to know her. Second, I wrote this book and I can articulate the significance of Sappho and the ambiguity of Sappho's identity and the christening of Brett with this moniker in writing, but I find it difficult to articulate in speech what it all means. Crazy! Yes, Sappho is a BIG DEAL. But I'm not sure I can explain it to you in person. I'm glad you knew that it was important.

This actually happened multiple times last night. These TOTAL SOPHISTICATES asked some hardcore questions that I was unable to actually answer--THOUGH, LADIES, THESE WERE UNEQUIVOCALLY THE RIGHT QUESTIONS AND MY THINKING IS THERE IN THE BOOK. Yes, Sappho is supremely important. And these are huge questions: What is the virtuous life? Is it worth living? Is there virtue in suffering? What is the nature of fidelity? Is this a story about fidelity? To a spouse? To God? Does Brett abandon religion? Why did these people even get together? Is there any real passion between them? Should they stay together or call it quits? Why is Miller even there? What about the kids?


I met a lot of great women yesterday--and I wish I could highlight them all. Judy and Meenal and Mejal and others. Thank you, women!

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