Monday, December 19, 2011

Pin Stripes and Rain Jackets, Meeting Diane Keaton and Praying to Virginia Woolf


When Abe came over, I would lay on my bed and watch downloaded movies and various content with him. He sat in the chair and I would turn my head towards him and exhale, “I love you.”

It was just good to have him there.

Instead of saying, “I love you, too,” he said, “I am helping you, right now.”

The weekend after the phantom pregnancy, Abe went back to Costa Mesa and stopped promptly responding to my messages. I refused to fall back into the manic plea for a response, so I just let it go. I let him go.

Our conversations whittled down from a “Of course I still want to work towards a future with you” to a “Well, I am kind of happy with the way things are right now.”

I knew that. I saw it coming. I spindled a fantasy and wrapped him up in it. It has no material weight.


On Saturday morning, Dora texted me at 8:50am “Call the mechanic about your car.”

The mechanic is an old immigrant from South America or something who was a friend of Dora’s family. He was nice, but in our exchanges over the last 5 weeks, it became clear he was in over his head with my repairs.

He didn’t know how to communicate with my insurance company, so often he would call me with a question that was really meant for them, and I would play “Telephone” between the two.

He had to wait for the check from the insurance company, which was 7 days.

Then he had to wait for the parts, which was another 4-5 days.

Then he needed another week (or two) to teach himself how to install an engine in my car.

Over the last few weeks, I developed a rhythm with the helplessness.

Dora’s family gladly offered to drive us to and from work when we had the same shifts. If not, Sasha or Mississippi or Baye from work would drive me in. I would leave a little cash for gas money.

Taylor couldn’t drive us in because he was in Florida. His brother killed himself. Young people seem to be eliminating themselves in the face of hardship. Whats going to be left of that generation?

People really don’t sit around and talk anymore, so during the 30 minute drives each way, I learned a lot about people I had already grown to love.

Sasha is a petite blond with so many tattoos, she looks like the doodled cover of your favorite notebook in high school. The kind you keep more for the doodles than the notes inside.

She went to college on an Opera singing scholarship and didn’t finish. As she puts it, “I don’t need to go to college or have a career to be happy. I am happy being a bartender and sometimes working at a Doggie Daycare. Why can’t that be enough? It’s enough for me.”  

I asked her why she came to LA and she said, “One of my friends was just moving out here and asked if I wanted to come. I said, ‘Sure’ and just jumped the ride out here. ”

Mississippi moved here from Mississippi (ha) because his band wanted to make it in Los Angeles. They all moved out together and rent a house in Silver Lake. They practice and record, thought about moving to New Orleans or somewhere else, and then decided to stick it out in LA.

He wasn’t happy with the job and was applying to other gigs like “Church Organist.”

When he finally got an interview, no one showed up to the Church to meet him and eventually, Mississippi gave up on his job search and decided to stay at Doggie Daycare for a bit longer.

Baye, the Korean actor at Doggie Daycare, graduated from Cal Arts. He went overseas to teach English somewhere in Asia . . . it escapes me now. There he met a girl roughly 10 years his junior who he fell in love with. When they returned to the States, he came back to a hibernating acting career in Los Angeles, and she went back to her family and a waitressing position in Michigan. After several months on the phone, they decided she would move out here to Los Angeles and try to make a life with Baye.

He was at first anxious, then worried, then slightly overwhelmed. He had never lived with a lover before. Now the decision was made and he was waking up every morning to a girl he had a love affair with last year in a foreign country.

You know what? It worked out. They are happy.

So the rides to work were not so bad. In fact, I enjoyed the conversation but with anything, the burden on my friends made me uncomfortable and I wanted my independence back.

My days off were spent drinking Tecate in my room watching “Breaking Bad.” I plowed through all four seasons like soy butter. (Now I know why White Trash sits around and watches TV with beer . . . its the cheapest and easiest thing to do)



I couldn’t go to movies, or see my friends on the West Side or go to auditions or do audience work. I was stuck.

I gave the mechanic some time, then started routinely calling about my car.

He would insist that he “wasn’t making any money of this job” which is mystifying since its a big job handled by my insurance company.

He would say, “I don’t want your car here any more than you do.”

There was this feeling like I was burdening him with a job he was being paid for. Doubly annoying, was he would not call me with updates even after I specifically asked him to.

The next morning I would call and ask what happened and he always said, “I would call if I had good news.”

I couldn’t vent to Dora, because Dora insisted this older mechanic was her friend. She defended him over my insurance company and even over me.

I called my insurance company and told them the mechanic was complaining he wasn’t making any money off of the job, and they looked it up and said, “He is getting paid $85 an hour. That is the industry standard. I don’t know why he is saying that.”

***

My mother says mechanics always try to make women feel indebted or guilty about doing work on their vehicle. They create this dynamic, like they are doing you a favor by doing their fucking job. I AM PAYING YOU TO WORK ON MY CAR, NOT TO GUILT ME ABOUT PAYING YOU TO WORK ON MY CAR.

I didn’t get a Thanksgiving of my own, despite the mechanic’s assurances that I would have a car by Thanksgiving, and in addition to another negative pregnancy test, I went to work on the holiday just to avoid depression.

Dora woke me up with a frantic text to check on my car. I was just getting up, had not had my cup of coffee and wasn’t going to feed into frenzy before putting on my slippers. The kid needed to back off.

So instead, her mother called the mechanic and got the news on my vehicle.

Ok, I am 33-yrs-old, why am I not getting a phone call (I specifically asked for) on my car yet my roommate’s mother is getting the information?

So I call the mechanic and DRILLED HIS ASS about not calling me first and found out that I wouldn’t have my car for the weekend.

After that, I knocked on Dora’s door to find out if we needed to arrange for a ride. We had agreed that her family could drive us in most of the time if Abe wasn’t here.

She screamed at me. Cried. Looking back, I don’t even remember what she was really saying other than her family always drives, blah blah blah, I am ungrateful for spending Thanksgiving with her family and all I do is complain.

(Well, yeah, I am complaining a lot but  . . . thats cause I am miserable)

I told her to lower her voice. When she didn’t, I walked away and texted her to not speak to me again until she could talk like an adult.

Not that I need to address this, but I am going to so I feel vindicated, Abe drove us a lot. And when Abe didn’t drive us, I arranged for rides from Sasha, Mississippi and Baye. ALL of those people, even Abe, were compensated for gas out of my pocket.

I get it, she is young. She has never really shouldered expenses and responsibilities alone. Sure, I understand. But you know what, THAT’S NOT MY FUCKING PROBLEM!!!

So I sat down and smoked a cigarette. I turned my back on her crying and screaming about how ungrateful I’ve been, when all this time I have been incredibly uncomfortable accepting any charity from everyone, and I texted Abe that I needed to hear from him.

Abe was gone now for a few days. His texts were sparse and he hadn’t called at all. I expected this, I just put him through hell about possibly being pregnant and I knew he would take a Bachelor vacation from me and my problems.

When Dora came out to confront me, I turned my back, and Esther, my deaf dog, jumped on her back legs and hugged me from behind. She hugged me so tight, I couldn’t hear a word Dora was saying.

People always tell me I need to get rid of my dogs. They say my dogs are the problem holding me back. No, my dogs aren’t the problem. The people are.

Sasha let me borrow her car that morning and I went to check out a duplex in Pasadena. I called the guy and said, “I have three dogs, but one is deaf, one is old and the other one is little. Is that ok?”

Silence.

“Yeah, that’s ok.”

I went out there and took a look. It had a yard covered in hills of saw dust. The unit itself was small, but enough for me and the dogs. I don’t think it was big enough to separate the dogs and my cat, but I called anyway.

I said, “I am very interested in the unit. I am prepared to put money down right away.”

I didn’t have any money. I was just so God damn sick of living in a slum, in Sylmar with a heartbroken kid.

I talked fast, about my job, about balancing it with my unemployment benefits and how my parents had offered to help with the deposit.

He said, “Look, we could talk until the cows come home. About the money, about the unemployment . . . let me ask you this? Do you have a boyfriend?”

Unfuckingbelieveable.

Me, “How is that relevant?”

Him, “Well, I need to know. Do you have a boyfriend?”

Me, “I don’t think that’s an appropriate question. What if I had a girlfriend?”

Him, “Well, the unit is for one person, not two. And if anyone stays longer than a night or two, that’s a problem. Of course, if you have a girlfriend who needs to stay longer, you can just call me and let me know. That would be ok.”

Me, “So the appropriate question is ‘Do I plan on having any long term visitors?’ and the answer is no.”

Him, “Good. Look. I like you. I like you a lot. Why don’t you Paypal me $50 for the application fee and I will show you the place? I think we can make this work.”

Me, “$50?”

Him, “Its not for me, its for the real estate company. And when I show you the place, why don’t you bring me some soup? I hate getting sick and I have this damn cold. Next Monday? Wednesday … whatever. Make sure its rich in Vitamin C.”

I coldly thanked him and hung up.

I am so tired of this BULLSHIT! I am so tired of men picking up on my desperation and using it as leverage to FUCK ME.

If I have money and I am paying you, just fix my car. Just show me the God damn apartment. Don’t try to manipulate me into giving you a mental blow job.

I texted Abe, “I need a friend. Can you pick me up tonight?”

He texted back, “I am getting drinks with Ian.”

That’s it. Not “Why?” or “Are you alright?” So, I didn’t text again.

I texted Austin, an OkCupid date from a year and a half ago, who, even now, persistently asks me out on for follow up dates. He picked me up from work and drove me home.

I told him about the Landlord and the request for soup “rich in Vitamin C” and he said, “When I inquire about an apartment, they just ask me if I can pay the rent. I say ‘Yes’ and then they give me the lease. No one has ever asked me for soup.”

Of course not. To treat a man like that would be ridiculous. Wouldn’t it?

After everything that happened, it was hard to talk to someone about all of it at once; moving, Danny’s suicide, my car. Its like trudging through wet concrete.

I offered to take him out to lunch some time the following week as thanks.

***

Since everything was seemingly deteriorating so fast around me, I knew my car would be fixed any day. That was the nature of things, my key to independence was right around the corner, so tension was rising at home. I refused any more rides from Dora’s family and cut communication off entirely with Abe and waited. It wasn’t long.

I got my car back and saw the odometer wasn’t working at all. Then the engine light came back on.

I dropped the car off for another week and asked them not to return it to me until they test drove the car.

It needs to be said again, UN FUCKING BELIEVABLE!

The day I got my car back fixed, Dora’s Mom drove me in and tried to give me money.  She said, “You have been there for her, you drove her in when she needed to get back to work and you are living with her, and for that I am incredibly grateful.”
Whether intentional or not, I felt guilty.

I liked Dora’s Mom a lot. We had a rocky start but she is very intelligent, and we spoke about books, the ever-changing world of publishing and men on our car rides. She had become a mother figure for me in a lot of ways.

Dora herself, is not at all interested in books or publishing. She misspells her shopping list and coughs with her mouth open, tossing out the sassy excuse, “I was not raised proper.” There was some sort of disconnect between the two I find a little confusing.

Her mother is so savvy and well spoken, and Dora, I love as a little sister, is still catching up from four years of drug addiction during her formative years.

They challenge each other deliberately. Yet, in them both lies the same strong sense of humor, quirkiness and fierce independence.
***

That same day I got my car back, I picked up Trent to go to the Hammer Museum and see Diane Keaton read from her memoirs, “Then Again.”

Trent had started texting me back a week after he lost, or abandoned, his job at Doggie Daycare.

He just texted an “I’m sorry.”

I texted back: “It’s ok, Trent. I just wrote about you and what a great friend you are. No little stress induced spat will ever destroy that. I am always here for you.”

He wrote back: “Love you.”

Me: “Love you, too.”

He was getting sober again now and discovering he lost his job, his friends and his boyfriend. I guess he has to lose it all for a longer period of time now, so he can appreciate, or maybe respect is the right word, the control of sobriety.

We were both depressed, both single, and both sober.

Drugs can be used as an education to think outside of yourself, and explore new realms of thought. It can also be used to make your life seem bearable, and allow you the power to no longer care about your circumstances. In that, if you do not care about your circumstances, you do not care to improve your circumstances, and you stand still in time.

One must be sober to take a step forward, and both Trent and I were in desperate need of more than a step, but a leap forward.

I drove us to the West Side in the middle of the day.

Trent was running out of his savings and occasionally posing for a photographer in exchange for speed. He was now smoking speed.

I said, “Trent . . .”

Trent was in a constant state of fighting back tears. I could see how exhausting it was for him throughout the evening. He was resisting lots of things, most of all the pain.

He started dabbling again when his family dog became seriously ill and a decision needed to be made on putting him down. Trent mentally disappeared and never came back. Until now.

Trent said, “No, its ok. The photographer respects me, he doesn’t touch me. When we are done with the shoot, he says,’Call a cab and take what you need off the kitchen counter.’ There are piles of $20s and $10s.”

I said, “Is he a drug dealer?”

Trent shrugged his shoulders and said, “I think so. He has cameras outside so he can see who is knocking on his door. He is weird, he will start talking really fast like ‘duh duh duh duh duh’ and I will realize, ‘Wow, this dude is crazy.’ He just smokes speed all day.”

Trent was slurring and talking so fast I couldn’t completely understand what he was saying. I would lean my head in really close and try to dechiper the sounds coming out of his mouth. He was so skinny. This is how I must have looked to Abe when he first arrived to Sylmar.

Trent, “He takes nude pictures, but I don’t show my dick, they have lights around them.”

Me, “Be careful.”

Trent, “I know . . . I am.”

Tears would rise and then Trent would fiddle with the zipper on his hoodie. His voice would shake.

Everyone seems to be deteriorating around me. The season was really Fall. We were all Falling.

He wielded his head out of a sobering thought and said, “How is Abe?”

I said, “I don’t know. I haven’t heard from him. I am not going to chase him around anymore.”

It was cold out and we were very early to the event. We sat in the empty, concrete courtyard as clouds turned black and the night air swept in.

I said, “I was pressuring him to move in with me somewhere. Its just too much for him. If I didn’t have the dogs, I could move anywhere. Its just . . . living without the dogs; I was even more self-destructive without them. Its so hard to save myself right now.”

Trent said, “Have you read Virginia Woolf’s ‘A Room of One’s Own’?”

I said no.

He said, “Its an essay I read for a class. Its really interesting. Its about women writers and how they need their own space to write. They have to live free of distractions; no children, no dogs.”

My heart sank. Even Virginia Woolf doesn’t want me to keep my dogs.

I said, “That’s interesting.”

He said, “So maybe its good Abe won’t move in with you. You need to be alone. But can you live alone without destroying yourself?”

I thought quite seriously about that and said, “I don’t know that I can.”

Trent said, “I don’t know that I can either.”

We both sat still for a moment. The line was building for tickets. Our ears were burning from the cold salt air. The ocean was far but closer than we were used to.

Trent grabbed some food and a small glass of wine from the concession area.

He said, “I met this guy, I really like him. But its ridiculous, he just was released from prison and has this box on his ankle, one of those tracking things. He is really cute, but says he is straight. Whatever. He kept saying catch this, catch this and threw me a bottle of vodka. I said, I would have caught it right away if I knew it was a bottle of vodka.  We walked together for a while and talked. I got his number.”

Trent likes to push straight men who are on the fence about homosexuality. The thing that concerns me most about this story is I can see Trent is almost selecting his murderer. He is finding someone who will destroy him faster than he can destroy himself. A heterosexual convict? Jesus . . .

I said, “I recommend you don’t call him. I am very concerned for your safety. These are the kind of people who will kill you if you make them have feelings they aren’t ready to deal with.”

Trent kind of bobbled his head in agreement. He is smart. He knows what he’s doing. He is just so God damn wonderful . . . and all of the things I love about Trent- the wit, the intelligence, the large lips and cocoa skin, the cackle and hot debate of Billie Holiday over Ella Fitzgerald . . . all of that was going to go away. Someday soon.

We got in line for tickets and spoke about Kent, his boyfriend.

Trent, “He is good you know. He is just so nice to me. He wants me to get help. I fuck up all the time and he is still so good to me.”

I said, “I know you don’t think you deserve someone good. I feel that way, too. I have to remind myself that I want to be happy, that I want to be with someone who is good. It goes against all my initial instincts. If we want to change our lives, we have to double think it and do the opposite of what we want to do at first, and stop ourselves from destroying the relationship. We have to stay with the people who are good to us.”

Hot tears filled his dark pupils and he looked up, as if to force the tears back into his head before anyone around us noticed.

He said, “You know, my father was a real asshole. He used to beat my mother. My mom is like the women in your documentary. He beat her really badly all the time. He wouldn’t let her go on birth control to keep her faithful, and when she got pregnant, he would beat her. She had a lot of miscarriages from being thrown down stairs and kicked around. But those of us that survived, survived because she went into hiding. She stayed with her family. And now, she says when I drink (he coughed a cry back down his throat), she says I remind her of him.”

I said, “Its hard. When you are a kid, you are developing a blueprint from your parents.”

He would shake his head in agreement and wipe his eyes faster than they could burn tears.

I touched his elbow. He seemed so thin, like crumpled paper.

I said, “You deserve a good life, Trent.”

Funny I should say this. The best I ever was to my body was the week I thought I was carrying Abe’s baby. It wasn’t enough that I was going to be healthy and happy for myself- it had to be for someone else.

Now that I was still showing negative on pregnancy tests, I wasn’t eating and back to smoking again.

I deserve a good life, too. I think.

We were ushered into the Billy Wilder Theater. It was packed and we couldn’t find seats next to each other, but were able to sit one in front of the other.

We must have been the only people there under the age of 50, with the exception of one short, white kid who was about 24 years old, standing alone, clutching on to his hard copy of Diane Keaton’s book.

Diane Keaton came out, and everyone cheered. Its a small theater, so everything was intimate.

She is exactly how she seems in her films. Genuine. Pretty. Relaxed. Sophisticated but awkward, all at once.

The total moron in front of me asked the first question for the Q&A which wasn’t a question at all, but unsolicited advice about pursuing her mother’s voice or writing or something.

Diane Keaton quipped, “I am looking for a lot of advice. Thank you, I am looking for more advice.”

Audience Member, “I love your energy.”

Diane, “I got a lot of energy, buts its gone at 8pm. GONE!”

I looked at my phone. It was 8pm. She was feisty.

The questions came in, mostly about the muse of this particular set of memoirs- her mother.

It was unavoidable, someone touched on her affairs with Woody Allen, Warren Beatty and Al Pacino.

Diane, “I don’t know what to say about men . . . should I cry? HAHAHAHAHA!

I subconsciously selected men that weren’t emotionally available or I knew wouldn’t be right. They wouldn’t get in the way of achieving my dreams.”

I thought about this. The Prophet. Alan. Abe. The emotionally unavailable men I fall so madly for, they had no chance of really interfering with my dreams. Was that it? Was that the problem? Or the answer?

Diane, “My mother said, ‘Everyone should be forced to write an autobiography.’ I do think that everyone should keep a journal. You learn a lot about people you love.”



“Parenting is life saving. Can you imagine me standing here all this time thinking only about myself? No. Thank God.”

Re: Annie Hall

Diane, “He heard my language and thought, ‘I’ve got something here.’ and made a movie. (pause) I love Woody.

My mother was not happy with the depiction of the family.

When he won the Oscar, she said, ‘That’s a big deal for a little family.’ But she got her picture taken in the local paper so come on . . . who are we kidding? She loved the attention.”


After the Q&A, we went outside for the book signing. We can not afford her book but I brought my copy of “Annie Hall.”

I should state here that I was dressed in jeans and an over-sized, orange rain jacket, simply because its my warmest jacket.

Trent was in a dark purple and black striped sweater.

We walked up to a cluster of people and I said, “Is this the line . . . for the book signing?”

A man holding a camera said, “No. This isn’t a line of any kind.”

I flatly responded, “Thanks.”

Trent said, “Asshole.”

I quickly shushed him as we walked away but later thought, I am glad he called that asshole an asshole.

People from the museum walked up to us and asked us if we had a book.

I said, “No, but I have this DVD.”

She said, “She won’t be signing anything BUT the book today.”

I said, “Ok, well . .  we take care of her dog so can we say hi?”

Pause.

Museum, “Yeah. Sure.”

Have I mentioned her dog regularly boards at our Doggie Daycare? She does. Every few months or so. A golden retriever with an attitude problem called Emmy.

Now, three times, this particular young lady approached us and asked us if we had a book.

2nd Time: “Nope we still don’t have a book.”

3rd Time: “We’ve spoken twice already, no, we don’t.”

Each time we got colder with our reply.

Another gentleman from the museum came up, stood right in front of me, I mean 3 inches from my face, and said, “Diane will only be signing copies of her book tonight. She will not be signing any memorabilia whatsoever.”

I turned to Trent, “What the fuck?”

Trent said, “Jesus, could they be any more obvious?”

I said, “Is it because we are under 50 or because I am wearing this big rain jacket?”

Trent said, “I think they have something against pin stripes and orange rain jackets.”

We were in a very affluent crowd. They carried their wine glasses in line with them. They had silver hair and black, long jackets made in foreign countries. Some had several copies of Diane’s book. Some, Diane pointed out herself in the theater, were friends or neighbors.

We were surrounded by snobs.

For whatever reason, they felt they deserve the privilege to meet Diane Keaton, and we did not.

When we came up to Diane, we saw she was taking pictures with fans. Trent got the pre-celebrity jitters as we were next in line.

Trent, “What do we say?”

I said, “I got this down, follow my lead.”

We walked up and I said, “We take care of Emmy. We work at (insert name of Doggie Daycare).”

Diane’s mouth dropped open and her arms extended outward. “(Our Doggie Daycare) is here! What an amazing night this is. EVERYONE is here!”

Trent said, “And I remember Red, too.”

Red was her corgi. Before my time at Doggie Daycare.

Diane made the sign of the cross at the mention of his name and said, “Ooooh Red.”

Her assistant stepped out from behind her and said, “Ok, we have to get a picture.”

Oh really? Do we have to? Wow, how things suddenly change, don’t they?

We went behind the celebrity partition and someone took our picture with my iPhone.


She said, “Tell me how Emmy is, I mean really.”

I said, “She is very specific about the company she keeps.”

Diane lit up and made a big “HA!” with her mouth. She warmly grabbed my arm and mimicked me, “She is very specific about the company she keeps.”

I looked down at where her hand met my arm and thought, “No wonder men fall in love with her. She makes it feel easy to light her up with joy.”

Diane kept saying, “We have to talk. I want to hear more.”

I knew we couldn’t stay and talk- 150 people were here to talk to her, too. I stepped away and Trent, now loose and easy, said, “And the tomato soup . . .”

Diane said, “YES YES! The tomato soup.”

We put tomato soup in Emmy’s kibble so her urine doesn’t stain Diane’s lawn.

Trent and I stepped away, looking at the picture. What a nice token from our night of sober self analysis.

I said, “She asked us to be honest about her dog.”

Trent said, “She’s a bitch, how is that!”

I laughed. She is.

We drove home and I thought about what could happen to Trent. He could turn to prostitution. He could become a junkie. He could overdose. Or he could call this recently paroled convict and get his head smashed in after a consensual blow job.

My precious friend, how can I protect you from yourself?

While preparing to write this blog, I looked up “A Room of One’s Own” by Virginia Woolf and found a blow of encouragement from beyond the grave. Its of supernatural relevance, like God himself whispered in Trent’s ear and asked him to recommend it to me for reading.



Now, I am about a blog and a half behind in real time. As I write this, I have two other blogs growing inside of me, at different heights, within different speeds, and with fruit I don’t even know the color or shape of quite yet.

I can tell you that my parents visited me, and have no idea why I am still in Los Angeles. They don’t see a future in acting, writing (unless its journalism) or adventure. Obviously or maybe not so obviously, those conversations were heartbreaking.

I can also tell you, this very evening, as I polish this blog, a co-worker confronted Dora about her character based on what I have written here. And once again, my blog posed a threat to a precious relationship in my life.

Dora and I spoke, and agreed that if there is a lesson to be learned from our last couple months together, it should be documented and shared. That my writing should be unencumbered. And in that moment I shared, in a Ralph’s parking lot with Dora, I felt understood just a little.

When I read Virginia Woolf’s “A Room of One’s Own”, I was expecting to hear an argument against children and lovers, husbands and dogs. Instead this is what I found:

"The whole of the mind must lie wide open if we are to get the sense that the writer is communicating his experience with perfect fullness. There must be freedom and there must be peace. Not a wheel must grate, not a light glimmer. The curtains must be close drawn. The writer, I thought, once his experience is over, must lie back and let his mind celebrate its nuptials in darkness. He must not look or question what is being done.

And what holds them together in these rare instances of survival is something that one calls integrity, though it has nothing to do with paying one’s bills or behaving honourably in an emergency. What one means by integrity, in the case of the novelist, is the conviction that he gives one that this is the truth.

By hook or by crook, I hope that you will possess yourselves of money enough to travel and to idle, to contemplate the future or the past of the world, to dream over books and loiter at street corners and let the line of thought dip deep into the stream. For I am by no means confining you to fiction. If you would please me — and there are thousands like me — you would write books of travel and adventure, and research and scholarship, and history and biography, and criticism and philosophy and science. By so doing you will certainly profit the art of fiction. For books have a way of influencing each other.

I should implore you to remember your responsibilities, to be higher, more spiritual; I should remind, you how much depends upon you, and what an influence you can exert upon the future."

Dear Virginia Woolf, I am going to try.

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