Jerry Seinfeld, an Alpaca and David Sedaris — And How was Your 2013?

Any time something comes to an end, is a good time to reflect.  Also to scarf down a pint of ice cream. In one sitting.  And then immediately regret it.  Still, you can’t help but once again reach for the spoon and the empty cardboard container and scrape off every last melted miniscule drop of  it until you are so sad that it’s really, truly over that your heart aches.  As do your teeth and your belly.  (Note to writers: this is not a metaphor for anything.  It is in fact, my ice cream consumption ritual.)

So before placing a “Closed” sign on 2013, here are a few of my highs and lows that may be or may not be worth sharing, but since I went to the trouble of flipping the pages of my Week-at-a-Glance (yes, nerds — it’s a paper calendar) all the way back to January…:

January 16:  “Alan Alda, 2:30 pm”  definitely a high, as I insisted on a face-to-face interview for my cover story in The Saturday Evening Post (vs. a phone chat). He’s one of my favorite actors, but I’m sure Alda regretted agreeing to meet me as soon as I nervously launched into a series of inane questions about his facial hair.  So for Alda, this was an all-time 2013 low.

January 28:  “Urologist, 11 am”  Obviously a low.  Don’t ask.

February 5:  “Guild Hall Essay Reading, 7:30 pm”  This was the very first in a series of readings that I produced in 2013 –”Living, Out Loud: Writers Riff on Love, Sweat and Fears“.  The treacherous trek way the hell out to East Hampton on that snowy evening was totally worthwhile–it was such a  HIGH to see Alec Baldwin! (Oh, not in person.  A plaque on a wall bears his name and yeah, I got to touch it!)

 

February 6-8:  “Boston” A total high strolling for the first time ever through Boylston Street, just hours before a massive blizzard rolled in and we had to unexpectedly roll back down to Long Island. But since in April Boylston Street and the people standing on it were blown to bits during the Boston Marathon, this actually turned into an unspeakably tragic low.

February 16:  “Wedding, 4 pm”  I was a guest at my first lesbian wedding, y’all!  Guess what?  Except for all the boobs, it was just like every other wedding. Sheer joy. Mind-boggling love. Cake.  So, yes — a high.

March 6:  “Smash, 2 pm”  Remember the ABC show for theater-geeks that began with so much promise and ended in so much snark? I was scheduled to be an extra for a shoot in the Brooklyn Navy Yards but then I was sent the rules and requirements on the colorful email below: show up at the crack of dawn schlepping your own wardrobe, makeup and accessories. Cell phones are confiscated and returned at the end of the shoot, which could take up to 16 hours.  No pay.  Bring a sandwich.  (Confession: I had been watching way too much of Ricky Gervais’ “Extras” on Netflix which does not at all romanticize being an extra so what the hell was I thinking, anyway?)

April 8-12:  “New Orleans” Stuffing my beignethole at The Original Cafe Du Monde? A high and not just due to all that powdered sugar.  There was also lots of my heart being blessed with the sound of music and of course, the kindness of strangers.

April 22:  “Wendy Liebman, 12 PST”  For a Newsday article, I got to talk to Wendy. She doesn’t know this, but ever since I tell everyone we’re close friends.  (Hey, the proof is in the Twitter! She follows me! What more do you need?)

April 30:  “Carol Leifer, 12:30 pm; Jim Breuer 2 pm”  More interviews for that Newsday article on Long Island funny people. Jerry Seinfeld gave me a quote.  Can I get a “What-WHAT?  And then …

May 2:  Alan Zweibel, 11 am”  I had to meet him in person.  (Why? See Jan. 16, “Alda”) Alan, one of the original SNL writers who invented the Samurai sketch, “Cheddar Cheese” and too much more to mention (but if you really want to know and you should know, look here) is one talented and generous mench.  We spent several hours together and I would have followed him home like a puppy.  He doesn’t know this, but ever since I tell everyone we’re close friends (he’s NOT following me on Twitter but shut the eff up–I’m working on it!)

Right about now, this desk calendar flipping is getting really old.  So let’s skip the summer because it’s just sticky and annoying except that I did partake in a superb reading with my essay group at Cornelia Street Cafe and then had close encounters of the first kind with this alpaca in Roanoke, Virginia –

…and then with a racehorse at Saratoga.  (We texted for a while but long-distance relationships never work out).

 

October 20:  “David Sedaris, 7 pm”  This was the year when my literary hero basically asked me to fuck off.  Not in so many words, but I had managed to get a hold of his personal email address and began to gently stalk him. Sedaris sent me a good-natured email asking to be removed from my mailing list — little did he know he was the only one on that list.  Ha, ha.  You know what else he doesn’t know?  That ever since he sent me an email I tell everyone we’re close friends.

Now don’t you go warning author and New York Times columnist Joyce Wadler!  In November she agreed to be a special guest essayist at my group’s 2014 kickoff reading on Jan. 10th at City Winery.

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And so, that’s more or less my year.  Lots of other stuff happened in between, of course, but right now I’ve got a pint to suck down.

A, O, Way to Go, Ohio

My recap of the Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop in Dayton –

I squeezed in a few workshop sessions in between a pill-popping frenzy that would have made Judy Garland gasp.  (Although I doubt she ever took aspirin recreationally.)  Now before you get your knickers in a knot (don’t they say that in Ohio?) let me explain: no sooner did I land at the Dayton airport than my brain began throbbing, building steadily to a feverish pitch over the next two days.  For those of you about to travel to Ohio, here’s a tip — Excedrin Migraine has no potency in that part of the country.  Still, I ingested the capsules feverishly, along with evening mouthfuls of Advil PM.  (Note: While I am not being paid to endorse these brands, I’m open to negotiations).  But enough about that…

The Writers Workshop was broken down into three days of sessions, most of which were very informative, although one presenter stressed repeatedly that while much of the alphabet isn’t funny, k-words are hysterical (see “knickers” and knot” above).  But I and most of the attendees k-new that already.

Every lunch and dinner featured keynote speakers.  My favorite was Alan Zweibel, who told us stories about meeting and then working closely with Gilda Radner in the earliest days of Saturday Night Live, where he was hired at 21 as a writer.  (Zweibel was not ready for prime time lawyering – prior to SNL, he’d scored terribly on his LSAT, he said, resulting in his parents applying black fabric over all the mirrors in the house, an ethnic joke that fell flat on the goyish majority in attendance.  Speaking of, each meal was preceded by a formal invocation complete with Jesus references — blessings that fell flat on the Jewish minority in attendance).

Ilene Beckerman, who’s had her first taste of success at 60 from “Love, Loss and What I Wore” spoke about how she came to write her charming little book. Also her not-so-charming experience with the Ephron sisters (producers of the performance show), whom she indicated snapped up the rights, although Beckerman had little to no legal representation to speak of.

And highly entertaining – humorist Gina Barreca, who did over an hour of stand-up on the last night. After her set I hugged her so fiercely she had to pry me off her torso.  This was not only because she had me in stitches (they do say that in Ohio) but also like Zweibel, she was raised on Long Island and by then I was shamefully homesick.

You see, my Dayton, Ohio conference goals were met, but ultimately…what Dorothy said.

If Life is a Bowl of Cherries…What Am I Doing in Dayton, Ohio (aka The Pits)?

I know…Just wanted an Erma Bombeck reference (“If Life is a Bowl of Cherries, What am I Doing in the Pits?” was one of her top sellers back in the day) and that’s the best I could do on short notice — because I’m busy packing.  For my first Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop in…yes, Dayton.

My goals for this conference:

1.  To get away from my family.

I hope to blog from there, unless I’m too busy schmoozing with funny people or repeatedly grazing the buffet table.  We’ll see how this plays out…

 

P.S.  My 80-year-old mother asked me to get Erma’s autograph while there.