Aaron has always had a thing for jazz vocalists. Last night we were listening to Madeleine Peyroux, and while I was already warned that this was the CD where she was very beautifully staring at the camera, I was soon told that she also played the guitar. But, not to worry, I was assured that she was, in her manly tie and with her injured gazes in the CD’s insert, too hip for my elementary-music-teaching husband. It seemed only fair to threaten a lengthy discussion of how articulate and too brooding, too intelligent really, were my own crushes, namely the Jeff Goldblum of Jurassic Park and Jonathan Franzen. All’s well that ends well, and all marital discussions about other men and women that end well end smiling, but still, instead of starting on dinner I read Franzen’s reflection piece “Farther Away” in this week’s New Yorker, which felt, I must admit, a little traitorous.
I would have stopped at the first page, but he was speaking my language, like he did in The Corrections (and not like he did when he implied in Freedom that reading Goodnight, Moon to your child was unimaginative and mundane):
“The more you pursue distractions, the less effective any particular distraction is, and so I’d had to up various dosages, until, before I knew it, I was checking my email every ten minutes, and my plugs of tobacco were getting even larger, and my two drinks a night had worsened to four, and I’d achieved such deep mastery of computer solitaire that my goal was no longer to win a game but to win two or more games in a row . . .”
He continues to describe his quest for isolation on an island off the coast of Chile and I think, I used to check my email every ten minutes, too! Every five minutes, even! We have so much in common, JF.
Now that there’s really nothing to do around here, I’ve taken up the study of watercolor. To reward myself for making so many financial sacrifices, I spent this month’s saved $100 on an Alaskan-original called “Yellow Breeze”:
Just kidding. I painted that and it’s very ugly. When I took up oil painting in Spain (I like to say that), the host mother I was staying with would always scrunch her nose at the pieces I brought home and say “Que feo. Muy feo. Muy feo” and shake her head violently like I dishonored the country responsible for Goya.
The other night I said something clever about the series Mad Men and Aaron said, “You’re smart” and I said, “But you’re talented.” I am not, but it’s okay if determined people don’t have talent. I’m going to keep painting because when I do, it doesn’t feel fleeting like a distraction. It doesn’t just end or stop; instead, like so few things I’ve found, it feels, albeit amateurishly, finished.