Discover more from making a list
#13 the spring we talked about efficiency
notes from march
The Valley I
We decide on an early breakfast. He’s living in the Valley now, in a house with a vegetable plot and a convertible we drive up to his favorite New York deli. He’s a New Yorker. He tells me this like I haven’t known him for ten years. “So you know, I love the deli.”
We sit outside and order latkes and egg scrambles and he tells me about the 22 year-old DJ who left him for her first solo tour. “Horrible. So depressing. And,” he stops eating. He’s too upset. “It’s been raining.” I finish the rest of his latkes.
I’m doing too many jobs. I start the day writing a book about the cosmos and end the day writing about AI tools that can Make Us All More Efficient. In between, I write notes on a film about a whale and an ad for America’s favorite sock brand. By 7, I cover a piece of toast with honey, so I can sit and write a show about a woman who thought vulnerability would heal the world, but it didn’t.
I land in San Francisco and immediately brush my hair. Inside the bookshop, copies of Trust Yourself (Channel Your Emotions For Success at Work) and Our Human Future: Living with AI are stacked next to each other on the front table. I put on some lipgloss and pick up a memoir about a French woman’s decades-long affair with a married Soviet diplomat. An affair that went nowhere, that led to nothing.
I hand the cashier 20 dollars and read the first fifty pages standing up.
The Valley II
He takes a wrong turn on Mulholland and admits it. “You’re always talking about your life in phases, and I get it, you’re a writer,” he says. It’s windy, so he’s talking loudly. “But you’ve been doing this since we were 18. And you’ve always been worried about the same things.” He lists them. “You gotta just start thinking two weeks at a time.” I turn to him and ask what he’s doing in two weeks. He says he doesn’t know.
He might go visit his mother.
My grandma is telling me about when my grandpa was paralyzed in his early 40s. How the MS got so bad he couldn’t move, and how everybody visited saying, “Oh this isn’t too bad!” and “We will pray for you!” And how Uncle Vince showed up and looked at him in his cot and said this is the shits. And how he got on his knees and cried.
In between the meetings there are calls. Studios don’t care about writers. We can’t write TV. We’ll have to make money writing other things. But AI is writing all the other things. But art will prevail. But nobody will pay for it. But –
I go to a dinner for a writer I met that month before the pandemic. I sit with an actress from Naples, and she tells me how she spent the last year living with a doctor and his family down the road. I ask her why she stayed there. She can afford something else. She says she felt a spiritual connection with him, and she wanted to honor that.
She pours me the last drop of wine.
“It’s important,” she says. “To do that.”
I’ve decided that I’ve decided on the boy I want to kiss. Only I don’t want to give him the satisfaction. I tell the clairvoyant about him over oysters.
“Don’t do it,” she says. She takes cash out of her pocket, tips. “Total waste of time.”
“Right,” I say. “Totally. A total waste of time.”
We look at the empty oyster tray and order a loaf of bread to stay longer.