Friday, July 22, 2011

Wanting Too Much

If only I could find someone who's looking for a literary nerd, food and drink enthusiast and a music fanatic rolled into one, I'd be all set.

But, alas.

My evening began at the Library of Virginia where author Charles Shields was talking about the subject of his last two books, writers Harper Lee and Kurt Vonnegut.

He contrasted the difficulty of getting Lee to cooperate on a biography (she never did) and the relative ease of getting Vonnegut to tell his story (a postcard with the word "okay" and a drawing of the author smoking).

Lee never agreed to talk to him and Vonnegut gave multiple interviews.

When asked "Do you believe in God?" Vonnegut answered, "I don't know, but who couldn't?"

That's the kind of answer an interviewer lives for.

Vonnegut wrote lots of letters, making the process of writing his biography much easier than Lee's.

Shield said that in a 600-page book about Vonnegut, there are 1800 footnotes due to the 1500 letters he had access to.

He contrasted that to Lee, who stopped giving interviews in 1964.

I was fascinated to learn that she had rewritten "To Kill a Mockingbird" three times before arriving at the final version.

Didn't someone annoying say, "If at first you don't succeed, try, try again"?

Her comment after the third rewrite says it all. "All I want is a merciful death." No wonder she never wrote another book.

Shields was asked about the lack of written correspondence as a hindrance to future biographers, but he's hopeful that digital records of e-mail, TV and radio broadcasts will replace the handwritten word of yesteryear.

Let's hope so because I would be a sad puppy if biographies went away.

After so much information  gathering, I moved on to Aziza's on Main to meet a friend I hadn't seen in over a month.

She had stories of near-breakups and Cape May; the best I could do was mornings that ended at 6 a.m. (don't judge).

We enjoyed a bottle (or two) of Cassillero Del Diablo Sauvignon Blanc (mouth-filling but with great acidity) as we caught each other up on significant developments in our personal lives.

She chose a red pizza with pepperoni and onion for dinner while I kept it simple by ordering the head cheese (pig head with carrots, basil and turnips and roasted veggies on the side) and grilled bread.

I was rewarded with three thick slices, fragrant, flavorful and with enough chunks of pig to satisfy my inner pig fanatic.

Fact: head cheese makes me happy and I don't see it on enough menus.

By the time we got into our second bottle, we were over-sharing to a degree not seen in ages.

She loves my directness and I applaud her relationship success. She is light years ahead of me in that department.

Once Aziza's closed down, she headed home and I went to Cous Cous for music.

The Cinnamon Band was playing and I like them because they make a whole lot of sound for two guys.

It took some time before the music actually began, this being Cous Cous and all, but that gave me time to visit with any number of friends who were there.

I ran into the birthday boy (a photographer) while ordering my Hornitos, then saw a couple of musician friends, another music lover who suggested we dance on the bar if Peaches came on again and the biologist who is taking it easy this summer.

The Cinnamon Band continues to impress every time I see them, engaging the audience with their harmonies, exuberant drumming and low-key charisma.

When they inevitably make it big, I will know that I have been devoted to them since the beginning.

If I had a significant other, I would have just shared my thoughts on Vonnegut, Lee, head cheese and the Cinnamon Band with him and been done with it.

I'd be sound asleep in all likelihood by now.

Instead I sit here scantily clad and sweating in my 94-degree apartment, doing this writing exercise  and wondering if things will ever cool down.

Oh, yes, or if the weather will ever improve. Hope springs eternal in the optimist.

The pragmatist just keeps her fingers crossed and mouth shut, ready for anything.

But secretly hoping for the best.


  1. "...and so it goes"...Kurt V


  2. "Life is but a day at most"