I realize that I've had a bad attitude all week. (Don't worry; my mother, my sister, my boyfriend, and several of my friends have already pointed this out to me, several times!) In any case, I am trying to do something about it. And I want to begin by acknowledging how privileged I am to be in the position of being able to complain about having a book published. I realize that there are thousands of aspiring writers all over the country who would sacrifice their big toe to see their book on a shelf in Barnes & Noble. Until my first novel was published, I was one of these people. But even now, and despite my grumbling, I am very excited about sending my fictional heroine, Phoebe Fine, back into the world.
I am also grateful for having the friends I do.
Last night, I went to a reading on the Upper East Side given by my friend Kate Christensen. Kate read from her highly amusing new novel, The Epicure's Lament, which is about a misanthropic hermit who is determined to eat and smoke himself to death. The subject matter is dark, but the book is hilarious. And I admire Kate's ability to write in the voice of a man. Kate's mother and my father traveled in the same musical circles in the early 1960s—they are both cellists—though we found this out only after we met as writers. Last night, after the reading, she told me that she thought of me as "her younger cousin." This pleased me, since when I meet a cool person, I often think that I would like to be related to him or her.
Afterward, I went downtown to meet my dear friend J., who had organized a dinner party in honor of her friend D., who was visiting from Hollywood, where she runs an independent production company. The dinner party was at an Italian restaurant off University Place called Il Cantinori. On the way there, I ran into another friend, who alerted me to Il Cantinori's neighborhood nickname, which I hadn't known: Il Cantaffordi. Indeed, as I waited for the other guests to arrive, I thought I heard the bartender mutter something to the manager about Martha Stewart being there, but I probably imagined it. Maybe what he actually said was, "If only Martha Stewart were here." Or maybe it was, "Martha Stewart is queer."
To be honest, I was having hearing problems all night: In my difficulty understanding the authentically Italian waiter, I kept repeating his specials and offerings back to him, accent included. I'd say, "Oh, oh, oh—you have tonight the tiramiSU!" I only became aware that I was doing this after my friend T., who left the art world for banking, pointed it out. At which point the two of us broke into hysterics. (I am always happy to laugh at myself—so long as I find it funny.)
During the evening there was much talk about the advantages of Los Angeles versus New York, and the difficulties of being bicoastal. (Apparently, bills stack up at both addresses; desks are never clean.) There was another conversation about whether our generation date/marry for looks, intelligence, love, or money. M., who is a man and a successful author, suggested that "nice was the new money." J., who is a female studio executive, disagreed, albeit consenting that "the new money is not the old money." Which confused me slightly: Which "money," I wondered, would be paying for Il Cantaffordi?
From there, it was on to the question of whether we worked for money or love. M. claimed to work for money, though he later admitted that he loves what he does for a living. J. busted M. about having sold out. T. and I agreed, half-jokingly, that we'd be happy to sell out—if only someone would give us the opportunity to do so!
D2., a fabulous, mustachioed photographer, recounted having been at the Calvin Klein fashion show, chatting with a socialite, when Bianca Jagger walked over to say hello. "Beyoncé!" said the socialite, confusing her B-name celebrities. We all agreed that it was a very unfortunate thing to have happened.
Next, T., who is part Native American, and I had a semi-serious conversation about why Mohawks—who built most of New York's great bridges—are not scared of heights. In the end, we both agreed that it was culture not biology which had propelled the tribe into the "high steel worker" industry.
J. sweetly raised a glass in honor of my book publication. Other glasses were raised in honor of other milestones, such as D.'s new Hollywood post.
There was still no sign of Martha Stewart.
For dessert, we passed over the tiramisú in favor of the profiteroles, chocolate cheesecake, fruit tart, and biscotti plate. My boyfriend decimated three out of the four.
We were both a little drunk when we got home.