Tiny Coconut

I have things.

Monday, August 16, 2004

My New York State of Mind

Just back from my trip to drop Em off in New York with her grandparents and an entire battallion of doting uncles, aunts and cousins. I'm wiped. I don't know if I'll ever get l to do a whole travelogue--and really, why would I?--so here are the highlights:

1. Visiting with Anna Rose. My friends' 17-month-old is fresh out of a Russian orphanage and has gained three pounds, grown an inch and gone from not being able to crawl well to walking several steps (right into my arms...giggling with glee...it's almost too sweet for words) in the two months she's been with her new mommies. The best moment: Anna in my 8-year-old nephew's arms starts to whimper, and someone suggests that she wants her mommy. My nephew, without hesitating, says "Which one?"

2. Dinner with my sister last night. A huge pot of mussels, a big stein of microbrewed beer, two straight hours of real talking. I can't remember the last time we got to do something like that, just the two of us.

3. Lunch with some of the folks I did my bipolar book for. (See obscure and unsatisfying mention of how that went below.) They sure did wonders for my ego.

4. An hour in my brother-in-law's office, just catching up. He and I were very close friends long before he set me up with Baroy, and the years and distance and our becoming part of the same family haven't really been all that kind to that friendship. It was nice to bond a bit.

My least favorite part of the trip? Definitely last night before and after the dinner with my sister. Em, for some reason, felt compelled to cry relentlessly on several occasions, and my mother felt compelled to try to reason her out of it. Sigh. It was painful, and long.

I'll leave you now with some notes I jotted down on Friday, after the aforementioned book-related-people lunch.

Genetics is not destiny. All hail environment, the undersung, underappreciated influencer of personal fate.

I had this epiphany on Madison Avenue, as I walked (ah, NYC, where people walk at MY pace) from 23rd Street to 50th. Oh my god, the streets of that city. Walking down them is like mainlining speed—not the drug, mind you, but the velocity, the direction, the whoosh of it all.

Granted, I’d just had a most excellent meeting with some of my book editors. (Another book in the works for me, perhaps. And maybe some magazine articles as well. More on that later, when and if things gel.) So I was on a bit of a high to start with. But as I walked, it only got higher. I could feel my thoughts start to take off, to race ahead of reality. And then...and then...and then. Anything seemed possible. Everything seemed likely. But it also felt speeded up, pressured, imperative, almost life-supporting. At home, I would have jumped around a little bit, squealed once or twice in excitement, then gone back to preparing the PTA newsletter. Here, I was walking down a street basically planning my takeover of the literary world. At home, I’d have been gleeful but realistic, thinking about what I would do with a little extra cash next year. (Central air, here I come.) Here, I went straight from excitement to grandiosity, from ‘ooh, that could be a lot of fun’ to ‘and then, when we’re living off my royalties...’ From real to oh-so-very-much not. I got so far ahead of myself in such a short period of time, that when I finally stopped walking, 30 blocks later, I could feel the let-down. I could actually feel the disappointment seep in with the remembering that we were talking about one book, one small advance, an unknown number of readers, an unkown amount of royalties.

Yes, you need the genes to be bipolar, or any of the other brands of craziness. But sometimes, you also need the environmental push to reach your full craziness potential. NYC does that for me. It’s a Very Good Thing I don’t live there any more.

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