Meet Fran Lebowitz, your new favorite writer. If you’re already familiar with her sardonic wit and general indolence, then you’ll enjoy these. If not, then this is a perfect introduction to her writing.
My favorite way to wake up is to have a certain French movie star whisper to me softly at two-thirty in the afternoon that if I want to get to Sweden in time to pick up my Nobel Prize for Literature I had better ring for breakfast. This occurs rather less often than on might wish.
4:15 p.m.—I get up feeling curiously unrefreshed. I open the refrigerator. I decide against the half a lemon and jar of Gulden’s mustard and on the spur of the moment choose instead to have breakfast out. I guess that’s just the kind of girl I am—whimsical.
There is no such thing as inner peace. There is only nervousness or death. Any attempt to prove otherwise constitutes unacceptable behavior.
Very few people possess true artistic ability. It is therefore both unseemly and unproductive to irritate the situation by making an effort. If you have a burning, restless urge to write or paint, simply eat something sweet and the feeling will pass.
Your life story would not make a good book. Do not even try.
All God’s children are not beautiful. Most of God’s children are, in fact, barely presentable.
When it comes to sports I am not particularly interested. Generally speaking, I look upon them as dangerous and tiring activities performed by people with whom I share nothing except the right to trial by jury.
It is not that I am totally indifferent to the joys of athletic effort—it is simply that my idea of what constitutes sport does not coincide with popularly held notions on the subject. There are a number of reasons for this, chief among them being that to me the outdoors is what you must pass through in order to get form your apartment into a taxicab.
I must take issue with the term ‘a mere child,’ for it has been my invariable experience that the company of a mere child is infinitely preferable to that of a mere adult.
Children make the most desirable opponents in Scrabble as they are both easy to beat and fun to cheat.
True, there are those laws which endeavor to shield the public from financial disaster. Truer still, financial disaster occurs anyway. And truest of all, the public is not a particularly interesting group.
For some, this sort of agitation would lead to industrious results, scholarly pursuits, inventions that save the world. I am gifted only in how far I’ll stretch to scratch an itch I can never reach.
I can see my glass is half full…but, of course, I did order a double.
When Sadie was two and Huxley near one, I was due my next personal crisis. I can’t risk skipping one of those. (I still take great pride in having been, some 20 years ago, the first on my block to get anorexic.)
It wouldn’t be fair to say my husband, Frank, ignored me. He’d wave now and then through the window as he walked to the kitchen to get another beer (so that’d be six waved on a weeknight and 12 on a weekend, which is more friendly than some marriages). Then, one evening, who knows why – maybe because my mitten had caught fire – Frank stepped outside and saw that I had been crying. ‘Are you say?’ he asked. He’s sensitive like that.
We fly up the front of the plane. We give each kid a lot more than the recommended dose of cough syrup. I display it with a wink-wink, nod-nod to the other passengers so they’ll know we have their comfort in mind. The meds have the desired effect on Huxley. In fact, they work so beautifully that any time we see his eyes flutter – probably just REMing but who wanted to take chances – I scream, ‘Dose him!’
I close my eyes and ardently wish I could offload the kids and take a two-day nap. That might bring colour to my world. I hear a plop on the floor. It is the sound my sweat makes when it finishes hanging around my jaw.
I ask Sadie if she’d like to go out and feed the koi fish…some of these cough drops I found in my pocket. Huxley is wailing for his milk. I tell him, ‘Don’t worry, honey, we’ll be in that pool in a few hours. Until then, you just cry your little heart out.’
It is the first day that Frank has to leave us and go into work. The kids are still not settled into the time zone and, therefore, no one is. Huxley’s doing a lot of screaming – a lot of screaming. Therefore, we all are, though some of us put it to words. I guess we’re just a family sharing a wavelength.
Now it is Monday. And I am Frank-less. And I am in Singapore. By 10 am I have the kids bathed and fed in their respective containers. Huxley is velcroed in his bouncy seat with a bottle and Sadie is in a high chair. She’s a little old to be in one, but she likes it…I tell myself.
There are streaks of brown sludge all over the white marble floor. It stinks in there. Huxley’s feet are encased in the same shit. And, shit it is. Sadie, who I had taken out of the high chair, had been running around bottomless because we’re in toilet training. Apparently we’re not there yet. She’s taken a dump on the floor. Huxley is joyfully riding his walker back and forth, zigging and zagging it all over the place. We have miles of poo trails leading us through the living room.
I wouldn’t say that I dislike the young. I’m simply not a fan of naiveté. I mean, unless you have an erotic interest in them, what other interest could you have? What are they going to possibly say that’s of interest? People ask me, Aren’t you interested in what they’re thinking? What could they be thinking? This is not a middle-aged curmudgeonly attitude; I didn’t like people that age even when I was that age.
If I had to, I would rather have dinner with James Thurber, than, say James Joyce. I’m not the biggest James Joyce fanatic and I would rather have dinner with someone who was funny.
There are some great writers who are great talkers, but there are more great writers who are not great talkers. People seem to think there is some connection between talking and writing, but I love to talk and if there were some connection between the two of them I would be the most prolific writer in the history of the world.
I’m such a slow writer I have no need for anything as fast as a word processor. I don’t need anything so snappy. I write so slowly that I could write in my own blood without hurting myself.
[Male writers] have this sneaking suspicion that writing is not the most masculine profession. This is why you have so much idiotic behavior among male writers. There are more male writers who own guns than any other profession except police officers.
I have a real aversion to machines. I write with a pen. Then I read it to someone who writes it onto a computer. What are those computer letters made of anyway? Light? Too insubstantial. Paper, you can feel it. a pen. There’s a connection.
I’ve never once been edited. I’ve never let anyone edit me, even when I was a kid. When I started publishing, I was writing for this small magazine, deservedly small, called Changes, which was what was then called an underground magazine. I wouldn’t let that editor edit me…My first book was not edited…So I’ve never had the experience of being edited and never will.
I suppose some writers actually like to write with editors. They feel that an editor isn’t an enemy but actually a helper. There is nothing more mine than my writing, nothing I’m more proprietary about. If someone were to say to me that something was wrong, some fact not true, I suppose I would be able to deal with that. But never in a matter of style.
Sulking is a big effort. So is not writing. I only realized that hewn I did start writing. When I started getting real work done, I realized how much easier it is to write then not to write.
Cut yourself some slack. One of the biggest regrets most people have about their 20s is that they didn’t enjoy them more. And I’m not talking about “buy more expensive dinners, take another trip to Thailand” type of enjoyment. I mean having the ability to take a deep breath and sip coffee in the morning knowing that you have done, and are doing, your best.
“These essays are slowly changing my life, as the title promises. As my friends’ birthday come along, they will all be receiving a copy of this wonderful book.” – Janie