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Nothing Really Matters to Me

In a PW rant last week, a famous writer said,  “The Internet is not to blame for your unfinished novel: you are.”  As far as I’m concerned, the internet was created to keep more crappy novels from crowding the in-boxes of bitching ass agents like me. From crowding the shelves of bookstores. From taking down trees. From becoming e and crowding the what? ether? I think the more the internet keeps people from writing the better. Thank you internet porn. Thank you E-Bay. Thank you YouTube. Thank you Mark Zuckerberg. Every minute you surf the web is a minute you don’t write something stupid and pathetic. The internet is the next best thing to wanking, face picking, drawer reorganizing, and therapy. The internet is what separates the yolk from the whites. O, internet! O, website!  The keys on my keyboard are  ghost letters. The ring on my finger is you. The internet is in my bed. And this is my fuck you.

City of Night, City of Night

Leaving L.A. What wouldn’t make me cry. Leaky bag am I. Why does every new beautiful step sweep up in its hem so much sadness? Where did we go? Sunset Boulevard? A lemon TR6? I lost my notebook, my glasses, my pencil case. I lost my camera, my wool cap, my son’s bandana. A young man with a slow smile. Angela Lansbury sips tomato juice like a queen beside me. Did it flush? Did it drain?  Is the driver Russian? Can you bear me? Am I too much? O, to not give an exquisite shit. Is Laurel Canyon a canyon? Am I the Pork King? In and Out Burger? Are those tits real? A small child with a port wine stain falls off a swing. I rented a car I didn’t drive. I watched the wedding and wanted to die. This dim light. This still life. A couch. A slant of Hopper light. You do not have a new idea. You do not have a new book. There are no pages left. The last typewriter died last night in Bangladesh.

It’s Just A Box of Rain, Or a Ribbon For Your Hair

Meds? Check. Passport? Check. Notebook? Check. Panties, socks, striped shirts.  Check. Secret project? Check. Powerbars, pencils, lucky necklace, crap magazines, manuscripts. Check. Did I say Passport? Jesus Christ where did this day go? Going to London to bid farewell to one of my dearest friends and the agent who taught me the only thing you really need to know: play it straight. No matter what mess I was in, I could call Abner for advice. He’d listen carefully, turn it over, you could feel his mind working like a master chess player, and then he would  say, you know, I think you should play straight. Every time I went to London, he found a new restaurant for us to try that specialized in Dover sole because he knew I liked sole. And every time, after I took a few bites, he’d look at me and smile and say, “how’s the sole?”

And Love Will Steer The Stars

I didn’t read my horoscope today, but if I had I think it would have said: you will meet a sexy, tall, blue-eyed blond rock star, a friend needs you, and spring is almost here — stay on your meds! It might have also said, a “colleague” is going to try to treat you like dog shit — don’t let him! You will eat sushi with Jews! And someone you love hates you!

This week: Get a haircut! Try something new!

Your lucky number: one million, bitch!

You get along with Pisces and Sagitarius.

Famous Leos: Robert Downey, Jr.,Madonna, Marilyn Monroe, and Muhammad Ali.

Smile Leo! Spread your sunshine! You are on Fire!

What’s your sign and do you write best when Jupiter is rising, when Mercury’s in Belgrade, or when your hemmies are under control?

Still I Look To Find a Reason To Believe

Why do you write, why do you write, why do you fucking fucking write.  No one cares. No one is waiting. There is no soundtrack, no young men, their legs flexed with sinew, no field of green slick with slugs. Who cares if you find terza rima, or sonnets or  villanelles. You can  fill hundreds of notebooks and lose them on trains, planes, in Courtyard Marriotts without a courtyard where you rent a three way and get bored bef0re the cum shot. You think about it all day long waiting for a cab, you think about it all night long writing in your underwear, a pack of smokes, a glass of watery gin with lime rinds sucked dry. You will not take a long walk on the beach, you will not binge on orange food, you will not see a Liam Neeson movie you have seen ten times no matter how desperate you are. You will not stumble around in your rented room as if you have a brain injury, you will not change your clothes, you will not open a can of soup the last tenant left behind with crusty opener slick with snail snot. You will remember something you can’t remember. You will stop yourself from starting something.  You will touch yourself until you cannot cry. You will not write. No writing allowed. Writing publishable by death.

Process, anyone?

The Sky Was Yellow and The Sun Was Blue

I pulled out my back yesterday and I write to you from a raft of valium, percocet and ibuprofen pills the size of horse tranquilizers. I am drifting in and out of  consciousness and I am reminded of my twenties. Only now I have shit to do and this actually isn’t any fun. Was it fun then? Not for me, not really. I just wanted out of myself. I never really partied so much as tried to stop my brain’s overdrive. Tried to stop the train I desperately wanted to get off. All those afternoons in my backyard, the Dead blaring on crappy speakers, a frisbee snapped from my wrist floating into an eternity of self loathing suspended for an instant. I spent today drooling on a pillow, a recurring nightmare visited upon me: a faceless person chases me and I can’t call out. A terrible sound escapes from my throat.

Drugs. Dreams.  What does this have to do with anything?

How Bout Me Not Blaming You For Everything

When I was an assistant in the sub-rights department at Simon and Schuster, a guy  told me that the only reason to survive in publishing was so that you could eventually fuck over everyone who fucked you over. I knew I was in the right place. A lot of people ask me how I have the time to write with a full time job, teenager, cockapoo, etc.  I usually say something glib like oh, well, I’m manic, la la, or I’m just compulsive,  tra la. But really, I’m in it to fuck the world. I want revenge. I want the last laugh. I want the Oscar. Shit, I’ve got the speech. Thank you fuckers for throwing me out of NYU film school, thank you Professor Pulitzer Prize for making me feel like a piece of shit in your poetry workshop, thank you dad for pissing on my MFA, thank you dry cleaner for destroying my buttons. Thank you for Lithium.  And Lamictal. And Tylenol PM. Thank you for the bicycle messenger and the supply closet. Thank you for no end of ideas, countries named after me, a statue whose gown gathers dirt and is stained with my tears. Thank you.

My Gift Is My Song

Let’s talk about poets. Poooets. Wordsmiths. Visionaries. Mongrels. Thieves. When I was getting my MFA, someone asked the great William Matthews why poets didn’t have agents. “Because 15% of nothing is nothing.”   When people discover that I have a degree in poetry and won a couple of prizes when I was still in diapers, they ask me with a hopeful longing, “Do you still write poetry?” And it sounds like, do you cavort with the angels, do you still touch yourself gently, or lay down in a field of alfalfa where wild ponies run?

I would say it makes my skin crawl, but that is cliche — the enemy of poets. Do you have any idea how much I love poetry? But I quit it. Like some people kick booze. One day at a time I don’t write a poem. I came to believe that a power greater than myself could restore me to sanity. I used to count syllables on my fingers while I walked. I used to have images in my head and words that fell like burning rubbish. I used to walk from Columbia to Inwood and eat everything in cellophane. I never believed I was any good. Just clever. What was the point? A few journals deigned to print a few poems. A guy made a pass at me after a poetry slam and I ran home.

What about you? Do you believe in iambic pentameter? Do you go to readings and wonder if you should clap in between poems? Do destroy a beautiful piece of paper with a poem?

Some Are Dead and Some Are Living

I used to crack the office window and smoke into the cold morning.  Across the way a water tower.  A woman moving inside a building — easy to imagine her more beautiful than I. The stone ledge smudged from so many mornings. It was the part of a lifetime.  Do you miss me? Did I doze? Can you hear me skidding?  Someone took the stones from my father’s grave. Who am I talking to?  The end of the year means nothing, but visits upon me a strange feeling. Long ago, I resolved not to make any resolutions except to distrust people completely. Ha! Will I always be nine years old with my bangs cut unevenly across my forehead? Is there more faith in the world than in a plastic barrette plastered to the head of girl ready for greatness, poised for destruction.

I miss Jim, raconteur extraordinaire.  Ralph is gone, our loyal friend.  Lucy died this time of year. Then Tracy. Then Liz. Some are dead and some are living. My grandmother said you are the captain of your own ship. You are the captain of your own ship. Oh, I am nostalgic. To all my beautiful writers and the books you brought into the world, for little or much. To everyone who opened  a book and turned her beautiful pages. I love all of you who leave comments here, magnificent  breadcrumbs on a lonely trail. Thank you for reading, lurkers too. Have a happy and healthy new year, or in lieu of that:  WRITE YOUR ASS OFF. Love, Betsy

p.s. I’ll be back Monday, January 3.

I aint scared of you I’m scared of me

Over Thanksgiving holiday, my nephew (also my tech person and the smartest person in our family if Harvard admissions is any judge) suggested that I scrub up my blog if I ever wanted to apply for any job. This hit me like a ton of books. It’s not like I’m posting pictures of myself on Facebook wearing a tube top and throwing up at a backyard party, or doing bong hits in the ladies room of the Nassau Coliseum.  I don’t even have a Facebook. I took umbrage at his remark; was I really that over the top, out of bounds, or to use the dread word: inappropriate. Was I eating dead babies? Smearing feces? Carving swastikas into my forehead. What was he talking about?

Thank god I work for myself, I thought. But then what if I did want to get a job? And where? Run Random House?  HBO? Personal assistant to Jake Gyllenhaal? I could always bag groceries (I am amazing at this), organize Tupperware drawers (again, sorry for such unabashed self-praise, but I’m genius at this), I could teach pottery. I wonder if I could get a job at Google or Amazon, or is this what he is talking about?  I started thinking about self-censorship and how, on this blog, I already engage in a fair amount of it. For instance, I never write negatively about clients or publishing colleagues. I never talk about projects that are in play. Is my nephew aware of how much self-control I actually muster night after night? I thought the blog was a resume enhancer. At the very least it makes me appear younger, right? And to all potential employers: fuck off and die.

What’s on your resume? Worst job? Besides being a writer that is.