Peter Seth: My “Time Alone” Report Card

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Two weeks ago, I blogged about my “Time Alone” plans when the Tiny Goddess and the Flower went away on a ten-day mother-daughter vacation. I’ve decided to go back and look at that blog – and see how I did. Did I accomplish what I wanted? Did I waste the time? How pathetic was I — alone?

So here are my original plans for my Time Alone – versus what I actually did

“– I’m going to get the TG’s car fixed. The bumper of her car encountered a curb, and the curb won. It’s a three-day fix, so the perfect time to do it is when she’s out of town. Can’t live in LA without a car.”

— Yes, I got her car fixed. The car place gave me a loaner car, which sat in my driveway for three days while they did the job. They also detailed the car, so that was nice. Mission accomplished.

“– I’m going to work an extra session after dinner, which I don’t do when the TG is around.”

— Yes, I did lots of work while the TG was gone. Besides doing these blogs, I’m about two-thirds of the way through the first draft of my new book. I’m pushing as hard as I can. I wish I wrote faster, but I write as fast as I can. The good thing is that I’m very excited about this new book but anxious that I’m not making it as good as it should/must be. It’s only a first draft, but I try to get close. Already I have tons of stuff to re-add when I go back through.

I did some night-writing. I should do more. The night is magic.

“– I’m going to see an old friend Kevin Sessums do a book reading and signing at Book Soup in Hollywood, where I did my reading and signing for WHAT IT WAS LIKE. His new book “I Left It On the Mountain” is excellent reading!”

— Yes, I went to Kevin’s reading. It was great to see him. He had been on a long book tour and was pretty exhausted. Nonetheless, he gave a terrific reading. (He was/is an actor. He did “Equus” on Broadway, the kid who blinds the horses.) I bought some other things at Book Soup: one of my own “autographed” books from my reading last September for good luck, to “prime the pump,” and a history of Greenwich Village that I’m already devouring.

“– I’m going to have a meal at the Oinkster. A pulled pork sandwich, with their amazing Belgian fries. That will make me feel better, if only temporarily. I might need two Oinkster meals. Everybody tells me that it’s overrated, and people just like it for its name. Could be….”

No, I did not get to the Oinkster. Good for me! I did eat other bad stuff, just not that particular bad stuff. I only ordered in one pizza.

“– I’m going to try to sleep later in the morning – at least until 6:00 AM.”

— I remember sleep. Once I used to be able to sleep through the night. Those days are long past. At least I take a nap after lunch, which renews my mind and body. Without that nap, I’d be a complete zombie. With the nap, I get a second start on the day.

“– I’ll help my friend Susan pack up her house. She’s leaving LA. (sob)”

— Yes, I helped my friend begin to clean out her house. She’s going to leave her lovely home in Laurel Canyon – yes, the legendary breeding ground of singer- songwriters in the 1970s – to move back east, to be closer to her family. My friend is a saver. Not a hoarder: she just has lots of great things: books, music, movies, etc. But finally, her lovingly recorded collection of VHS tapes just had to go. (And, yes, she still had a working VHS player.) We also weeded out her collection of DVDs. It was a two-person job: one person on the stepladder, one person catching and dumping. She’ll have to pick though her books and vinyl later. And she has tons of magazines, some rare stuff: original Rolling Stones. Remember the early issues that used to fold over?

We’ll need another clean-out session. She’s not moving until late April. I’ll miss her when she goes. Fortunately, there’s all this new technology for staying touch.

“– I’ll play a little more of my Pandora “Rolling Stones” channel and a little less of the “Giacomo Puccini” channel. And I’ll play it louder.”

— Yes, tons of loud music, all day long. I played some of those CDs I got at Amoeba. But thanks to the example of my brother who got a new Sonos system, I downloaded a 30-day trial of Rhapsody, the music streaming service. Lots of weird, interesting stuff there, but also lots missing. I don’t think I’ll renew it, but it’s fun to play with for thirty days. I found some very strange Fred Neil pop songs.

“– I’m going to the local mall and buy some new jeans. I have to do this every five years or so.”

— Yes, I went and bought some Levi 505s. And I went to the tailor to have them altered so that they vaguely fit me.

“– I’m going to transplant some cactus, putting some overgrown plants into the ground and putting some grafts into containers.”

— No, I didn’t do the gardening I wanted to. I’ll get to it soon: some plants are busting out of their containers.

“– I’m going to go to Amoeba Music in Hollywood and finally spend my gift certificate from Christmas.”

— Yes, I did. See my recent blog, SPENDING MY AMOEBA MUSIC GIFT CERTIFICATE.

“– I’m going to do some painting touch-ups on our outside wicker furniture. I had to special-order the matching paint.”

— No, I didn’t get to that. The new cans of paint are still on my desk, but I haven’t gotten around to using them yet. Soon.

“– I’m going to go the opera alone. A very good supposedly “BARBER OF SEVILLE.” I can’t get any of my friends to see opera, so I’ll just slink in and out. And I’ll donate the TG’s ticket back to the LA Opera, to resell or give to a deserving music student.”

Yes, I did. It was an excellent production that the LA Opera imported from Europe. I caught the end of music director James Conlon’s lecture beforehand. He’s amazing: he’ll lecture for forty-five minutes and then sprint to the podium to conduct for three hours. I think the Met wants him. Peter Gelb is in trouble, and Conlon will be a great “face” for the Met.

And then I came home saw the Tivoed Sergei Kovalev vs. Jean Pascal fight, one of the best light-heavyweight bouts in years.

“– Maybe I’ll get a little pity visit from Calder and his parents.”

Yes! I brought some take-out food to the new parents of my grandson. (I had already brought the gold, frankincense, and myrrh.) I held the little guy a bunch and played with his little hand. He just turned three-months old. Now he is no longer a newborn: he is officially “an infant.” Congratulations, Calder! Well done! You can already tell that he’s very smart and aware and avid for life. He’s going to be my best friend.

“Mostly, I’m going to work hard; this new novel is burning a hole in my brain, and I have to get it out. And then I have to make it better.”

— Yes, all that is true. I would have had a great time with the TG and the Flower on their vacation, but it was good that I stayed home and worked. I turned a corner in the plot, writing stuff that I’ve been planning to write since first conceiving the story, more than three(?) years ago. Thank goodness it’s coming along. But I have to make it better. People liked the first one; this next one will cinch the deal.

And then there were a few extra things, things I didn’t plan:

At the last minute, I got a single seat to see WICKED at the Pantages Theatre in Hollywood. I guess I’m one of the last people to see WICKED – the TG and the Flower saw it years ago: it’s a big “mother-daughter” event – but now I see why it’s such a sensation: it’s a very good musical! When it premiered in 2004, the smart people preferred “Avenue Q,” which is also an excellent show. (“Avenue Q” won the Tony Award. It’s still running in New York but in a small, off-Broadway house. WICKED sells out huge theatres at virtually every performance, wherever it plays.)

I’m no fan of Stephen Schwartz’ “Pippin” (bad three times) or “Godspell,” but he really outdid himself this time. Maybe it was the underlying material and the excellent premise: the “real story” behind The Wizard of Oz. Maybe it was the inspiration of book writer Winnie Holzman (“My So-Called Life” and “thirtysomething.”) Whatever it was, he wrote a terrific score with at least five great numbers. And two sensational parts for women: my cast was excellent. I can only imagine how wonderful Kristen Chenoweth and Idina Menzel were.

Here is some YouTube evidence – “Defying Gravity” – This might be the best Act I closer of all time. My audience went berserk.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6dDmcsbIeBY

I also listened to an entire live “Manon” from the Met with Diana Damrau and Vittorio Grigolo while I worked late. If the TG had been home, she would have made me stop to have dinner. Then we would have switched off the opera before it was over in order to turn an NBA game on.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1fyytF2xsio  — a chunk of a live “Manon” with Anna Netrebko and Roberto Alagna (Anna Netrebko: the subject of a future blog perhaps.)

I met with a smart friend of the TG’s who knows a lot about “social media.” She gave me some good ideas on how to promote my book and myself. This is the author’s lot these days. I’m not complaining; I’m just stating a fact.

When I had time to kill before WICKED, I went over to Hennessy & Ingalls, a wonderful bookstore specializing in art, architecture, and design books. I bought a fascinating-looking book called CENTRAL PARK NYC: An Architectural View by Andrew Zega and Bernd H. Dams about the architectural features of Central Park: the bridges, the sculptures, the buildings, the memorials, the monuments, the arches, everything including Cleopatra’s Needle. Did you know that there are only twenty-one ancient obelisks standing in the world today? (Egypt has four; Rome has thirteen.)

And Sting was right: the bed was too big without her.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w1ku3x6KZ2c  — Sheila Hylton’s version of The Police’s “The Bed’s Too Big Without You” – better than the original

My grade: A-

I wrote pretty well, so that was my goal for the ten days. Nothing else much matters. I didn’t do some chores: the gardening and the painting. And I didn’t make some phone calls I wanted to make. But I didn’t have to fill up the time as much as I thought I might have to.

I didn’t watch any movies, just fragments of movies.

One thing: the ten days alone gave me renewed respect and sympathy for my many friends who live alone. It ain’t easy. I’ve been married for forty-three blissful years to the perfect partner: always understanding, always willing to listen to my nonsense, always willing to put up with me. Alone, there is no one there: just the radio and the TV for human noise. At least, I have my work, which is always calling me, always important to me. But I can see where people could just get lost in their loneliness.

I see why people get pets. (We used to have a dog. I miss her. Maybe ….)

I was very glad when the TG came home, safe and sound. She and the Flower had a wonderful time, but I’m happy that it’s over.

Back to real life.

 

Peter Seth

Peter Seth is the author of What it was Like. Visit his website.

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