Last night I curled up with Miss Marla (longhaired kitty cat) and watched Meryl Streep playing Julia Childs. Her cheekbones gave her away, but I loved how she careened about Paris, eating pears and smelling cilantro. A few things made it a good movie: someone from the LWord showed up (her older sister), the winning prize was a book deal and the movie was about writing as much as it was about food. It was also about love, and the figment-friendships we form in our minds that prod us, like specters, toward our dreams. Of course, the best part of the movie was that it celebrated blogs blogs blogs. I love that word. It is so unserious and contagious.
It’s amusing to me that I profess to love my blog while day after day I abandon it like a bad mother. Dan Damkoehler, my very sweet, very knowledgeable web master, hobnobs with me on weekends and in between the sushi and the hot tamales he will say, So, post anything on your blog lately? And Time for another blog post! I slink from him in shame as he explains how some people blog twenty hours a week, make a career of blogging, and religiously read hundreds and hundreds of other peoples’ blogs. It dawned on me in the midst of champagne and chocolate, that I am a fake blog lover. I am a poser. I am not like my friend, Natalie Blake, who has a little timer that goes off at 2 every day when she posts her blog. She is a famous ceramics artist, and she posts about tiles. If she can write about tiles, I can certainly learn to blog about writing and love and imaginary heroes that move us toward our dreams.
After Julia turned 92 and died and little Julie went to her kitchen at the Smithsonian and left a hunk of butter, I stayed up late with Miss Marla at my feet and my husband curled around me, and meditated on my grandmother, Maggie, who blogged every day on an old Smith Corona that turned into a 400 page diary. If Julia Childs was Julie’s inspiration, Maggie was mine. A gourmet cook, Maggie made rosemary braised lamb shanks and put silver, china and fresh linens on the table every night. She was slender and beautiful, with dark lusty eyes and a fashionista’s flair for finding a good hat. She’d been a flapper girl in Europe in the 20s and an actress in a traveling stage show, and she’d broken an engagement to the minister’s son to marry my grandfather, a writer from California. For years they lived on Saint Mark’s Place in New York, where Maggie typed her daily diary about my mother’s birth, riding the wooden elevator in Bloomingdales, the impending war, wearing velvet and taffeta housecoats, flouncing off to the ballet, drinking champagne on a roof on 14th street, hiring Chinese cooks, smoking cigarettes around a late night cribbage table, summering in Connecticut and arguing about Edna Ferber and Pearl S. Buck.
When I was in my twenties, it was Maggie who occupied my mind, telling me not to get married young, advising me to quit my job and pack my car, take my rolling tobacco, and head down to Mississippi to sit on Faulkner’s grave and write my novel. The summer I made that plunge, I put up her sepia-toned photograph– Greta Garbo look alike with dark brown hair and plunging neckline– and every time I got weak-kneed, she gave me that sassy, no-nonsense, one-life-to-live look, and I kept packing boxes.
Of course, except for her daily diary, I didn’t really know Maggie, she’s been dead since I was nine, and word is she smoked Marlboro reds, tended to drink buckets of gin, was prone to bouts of telephone-itis where she was sometimes nail-hard mean, and broke all the family china. But our specter heroes only have to be perfect in our minds.
So, this morning, while I was taking a brisk walk in ten degree weather where I fantasized all my fingers were falling off, and I’d never write again, I realized that something about not writing my blog was like hiding, it reeked of shame, of scarcity. If there is a God, I reasoned, She gave us blogs so we could practice abundance, so we could put our moments down and see that they aren’t useless, they form a living, breathing life.
At home, I got out my grandmother’s diaries. I have three years of typed pages from January 1st 1937 to December 30th, 1940, full of parties and art and passion. And right there and then, looking at her first entry: M. home a little early, we wrapped a Christmas bottle of champagne in paper to take to the Joneses and went to their suite at The Brittany, Carroll looking beautiful as usual in brown net evening dress with sweet gold mesh Juliet cap. I decided to make my own commitment: I would blog every day right alongside my dear dead flawed but perfect grandmother, Maggie.
So, this year, on January 1st, 2010, (drum roll please), I will begin my three year blog project, catapulting myself into Manhattan on the cliff’s edge of World War Two, when the average house cost 4,000 dollars, the Jones’ suite at the Brittany is $5 a night, the Hidenburg just exploded, no one could find Amelia Earhart and Jack Nicholson and Madeline Albright were being born. I’ll tell the world what my grandma Maggie was doing in New York and simultaneously post about my own life, Obama as the first black president, the recession, writing, eating chocolate, book deals, being in love and, whatever else might happen in this wild world… I’ll call it Maggie and Me: a time traveler’s blog: 73 years later a writer brings her au courant grandmother back to life.
Why not? It’s just a blog, after all. Wish me luck. And until then, happy blogging in blog land everyone!