By Jen Pastiloff
I’m on the plane. I have Game of Thrones on in front of me, paused on Jaime Lannister looking at the sea, mid-sentence, and the back of Cersei’s head, post-haircut. If you have not seen it or don’t watch it, I don’t know what to tell you.
I have seen this episode before. I caved about six weeks ago and started watching (7 years in, I know, I know) and I didn’t stop until I was up to date. You should’ve seen me in London, hiding under the covers, trying to download season 6 damn it, or in Tuscany telling my retreat peeps I was “going off for a nap.” Lies! All lies! I was watching GOT. So yea, I have seen this one. Season 7 Episode 1: Dragonstone. I was sitting in front of the fake fireplace at my rented apartment in Putney when I first saw it. (I will now imagine moments of my life according to where I was when I saw each episode.)
And here on the plane there are no subtitles so thankfully I have seen this one or I would be pissed because they all sound like they are underwater, with faint English accents, but underwater. Why doesn’t everything have subtitles always? What kind of crock of shit is this? I demand a do-over! Give me better ears or give me subtitles! All. The Time.
I said I was going to start writing more. Taking down notes and details and memories and moments but I didn’t. I am on the plane after ten days away. I first went to New York (wrote about that, see last blog) where I met with my agent to celebrate my book getting sold. I took her and one of my childhood best friends to see Tiny Beautiful Things at the Public Theatre and I sobbed my face off. Which is weird because I really don’t cry because: meds. But there I was, crying like a baby. Along with the rest of the (packed) audience. I tried to look at my Adriann, my agent, but she was all nope, not making eye contact, because she too was weepy af.
I needed a witness. Oh my God, can you believe this? Look how snotty I am. It’s like when you witness great art or something so moving, a perfect sunset- I don’t know- something, where you need someone else to remind you that you aren’t making it up or that the beauty won’t kill you or that you aren’t crazy for thinking it is THE MOST BEAUTIFUL THING ON FUCKING PLANET EARTH.
And the play was one of the most beautiful things on fucking planet earth. I saw another play a couple weeks ago that my friend Laura Donnelly starred in. The FerryMan. Holy mini bottle of airplane wine, that play too. I cannot believe that I know the person who wrote that play (Jez Butterworth) and one of the stars? I want to just sit in their presence and stare at them because how is it possible that people can be so talented? How can people create such dialogue, replicate such pain so as you feel it in your bones as you sit in your seat, you laugh with them, and you can’t stop thinking of them, long after the curtain goes down? Cheryl Strayed is like that too. Her words. How how how, I kept thinking as I walked back to my friend’s apartment on Charles St. How how how as I danced with some strangers on 7th Ave because, well, they started dancing with me. Who am I to leave people hanging? How how how as I bopped along laughing in the unseasonably warm night. How how how do I ever forget that art is the thing that keeps me going? How how how do I know such people? I want to just sit in their presence and stare at them and soak up their genius and sensitivity and wit and I want just a tiny percent of it. It would make me a better person. It would no doubt be weird to have me just sit and stare but I don’t care because I think just by being near them, by osmosis, I would become better. I would immediately finish my book and stop drinking mini-bottles of airplane wine and writing blogs to avoid or watching GOT to avoid or avoiding to avoid. But maybe not.
Maybe I just want to sit and be with them because no matter how many times I have witnessed a perfect sunset, or read a set of words that broke me, or watched something that made me lean forward and try to make eye contact with someone, anyone, no matter how many times- it’s like the first time. And anyone or anything that can make me feel like it’s the first time is magic.
When I was in New York, I also led one of my On Being Human workshops. It was huge. A hundred people. Eeeeeeek! I was scared shitless but I put the microphone on- yea, I was all mice’d up- and I was like I was born to do this. Speak with a mic, that is. I could whisper and the room could hear me! Even the people in the way way back. It was amazing!
I let everyone know how scared I was and we all were scared together. It was as intimate as my workshop two days later at Canyon Ranch in Massachusetts where there were only 8 people.
Today, I had some free drink vouchers for Delta so I asked the flight attendant if I could get the “premium” wine instead of the free bottle by using two of my vouchers. (The free bottle is terrible hangover wine.) The guy next to me was drinking straight from the bottle. It inspired me. It’s not my first rodeo, he said. Now I have mine in my lap, the fancy mini bottle, and I am drinking right from the bottle. Rebel! I show him and he says, Go for it. Cut out the middle man. (Get it? The cup is the middle man? Lolz. Aww, Seatmate, you’re funny, doing your research work on diffusing large B-cell lymphomas next to me.)
I am so nosy. I know.
So I didn’t write more like I said I would. Like I have been saying for exactly 22 years. I know because I find old slips of paper from 22 years ago that say, Write more. Take notes so you don’t forget. Journal, Jen! Ha. I am so predictable. I slept deep and hard at Canyon Ranch. I am the guest speaker there a couple times a year and this was the first time I went since being pregnant because children are not allowed there. I made a choice to leave Charlie because I figured 17 months was a good time to stop nursing (he is at the stage where he pulls my boobs out in public. Literally.) And also, I thought I would write.
I will write every second I am not working. << LOLZ.
I slept in the room like the sleep of the dead. Like the night king and the army of the dead (GOT reference.) There are blackout curtains and I would wake in the morning, and without fail, be shocked that it wasn’t the middle of the night. But it’s so dark! And there was a professional white noise machine on the bedside table. Not that I need that because I have tinnitus which is like white noise in my head all the time but still! A white noise machine. A dark room. An expensive mattress. No other body in the bed. No other bodies plural. No 17 month clawing at my tits. Heaven! I missed him terribly but I enjoyed it in equal measure.
I didn’t write as much as I stuffed my face and also stared out the window at the rain. Rain! We don’t get rain in Southern California like that. And the trees with all their colors. Oh, how I miss fall. How I miss seasons. I think I will move to New York and live in a brownstone and hahahahhahaahhahaaa hold on while I drink this wine.
I live in a tiny one bedroom and I won’t tell you how much my rent is because you will hate me and you will understand why I am never moving. But still. Seasons. I miss them.
Also: I love watching what other people are watching on planes. It’s weird habit. I will watch a whole movie that the guy across the aisle is watching. (He’s watching Wonder Woman. I have seen this three times now.)
I am nosy.
This morning I was talking to my friend. She’s family really. The kind of friend where you can stay on their sofa and then lay in their bed with their kids and talk to them like they are your own. The kind of friend where you stand by the kitchen sink and remember sixth grade or tenth grade or being thirty. As you load the dishwasher and ask if there is a sheet for the sofa for you. And the sofa is the best thing in the world- better than a fancy mattress at Canyon Ranch. (Okay, not really, but you get the point. That kind of friend. The I’m home kind of friend. I’m home when I am with you.) We were talking (again in her sunlit Upper West Side kitchen) about how we grew up with scarcity and it makes sense how we tend to cling to so much in our lives. How we fall back into those patterns.
And I’m here on the plane now heading home to my baby after ten days and after having very much NOT written and having eaten ten thousand pizzas and 800 cookies and I’m saying, Fuck that. Fuck scarcity.
I will share with you guys what I have been working on recently: Walking my talk. Doing what I say. Living what I teach. Not being an asshole. (dontbeanasshole.net leads to me. WORD.)
I teach about how there is enough. There is enough. And yet I get stuck in these patterns where I go Oh My God, she is doing that so I can’t cant and there is not enough for me and how I fucked my life up.
Why do we tell ourselves these lies in kitchens? While do we tell ourselves these lies anywhere? I hope you have those kind of friends that can call you out on your BS (Bullshit Stories) and say, Girl, here load the dishwasher and STFU, there IS enough. There IS! No the glasses go in like this. Not like that. Don’t be an asshole.
Our friends should call us out on our bullshit stories and when our IA (Inner Asshole) starts running the show. That sneaky troll. Block their ass.
We also talked about getting in our own way. And the people we know who are super smart and talented who get in their own way, like all the time. I am tired of getting in my own way. Aren’t you? I won’t do it as I write this book. I refuse.
Stay with me for a sec.
Maybe those times we are staring out the big window and watching the rain or memorizing the trees and the way the color hugged the sky or how we watched the guy riding the lawnmower with his head phones on and thought how fun it looked and maybe when we imagined dancing naked in the pourdown on the great lawn and who cares if anyone saw, who really cares and how we did it in Tuscany, under a full moon, holding hands with the other women, shivering as the weather had finally turned, who cares if the whole of Canyon Ranch sees? And maybe the times we were laying on the massage table and the women walked on our backs as our brains raced until finally at the very end, they seemed to slow down but by then it’s like, wait, it’s over? Already? Maybe those are the times that we need more of. Maybe that is like writing for me? The living, the watching, the imagining, the remembering, the trying so hard to get quiet. And then, that moment of, wait, it’s over, already? Isn’t that we are constantly saying? Childhood? Relationships? Summer? Our lives? So whatever, I did not write, bla bla, story of my life. If you follow me you know I am not that person who is regimented, who writes everyday, who follows any kind of rules or plans.
I crave connection. I want people to be beside me on this journey so when my eyes are spilling during the the part of Tiny Beautiful Things (dude, read the book) where Sugar is talking about how her mother would never meet her kids and I think me too, me too, my dad, and he would be so proud, how he would love Charlie Mel. How Mel would love Charlie Mel. Someone is there to grab my hand or put their hand on my shoulder or breathe near enough my body that I feel it and feel less alone or whisper to me, I got you. I want that.
So sometimes to me, the living is more important than the writing. It’s bigger. Better.
And yet, I must write this book. So that’s why I am writing a blog and watching GOT (again) and chatting with my seatmate. No, but really. N,BR. This is what it means to be human, right? My friend said that in her kitchen this morning before I Ubered my ass to JFK (and got car sick wtf.) She said, Jen remember to be gentle with yourself. You’re human.
I am embarrassed to even post this because it’s really rambling but here’s a little gem from my London workshop a few weeks ago. We were all singing Don’t Stop Believing to the street below. All the Londoners on the street looked up into the studio with its open windows and sweaty window belting out Journey and we got more and more into it. At least sixty of us. English folk, mind you! Streetlight people! We wanted to keep going but the song ended. I said, Imagine caring less what the people on the street think.
I didn’t plan it to be so perfect. I didn’t plan to have them sing to the street below, but dudes, caring less about what the people on the street think. That’s it!
So if you don’t like my rambly posts, oh well. Practice for me. There are going to be loads of people who don’t like my book. Whatever.
(I am so full of shit. I want everyone to like it. Love it. I want you to like it. I want you to like me. I want everyone to like me!)
But really, there will be. I recently got a message from someone who has been following me for a while who has sent me mean messages (not sure why I hadn’t blocked them until now) and they basically told me how much they hated me. They ended with “no disrespect” though. I laughed. Not tryin’ to be rude….No offense, but…. I made my mom promise when my book comes out that she wouldn’t look on Amazon and focus on the bad reviews or people who don’t like me. (She gets protective.) She promised. If you don not like my rambly hi from a plane and I am writing because normally I have a baby in my lap and this is a dream come true Game of Thrones bloggy blog, well, I shall use it as practice to harden me. To steel my heart.
Nah, you know me. I will always be a sensitive wuss. I just won’t let it stop me. I won’t buy into the Bullshit Story that just because someone doesn’t like me means EVERYONE doesn’t or that I suck. You know, I call it the 1 and the 100. If a hundred people are in a room and they all looooove you, except one, who do you focus on?
I am here to say, hell no, I am not focusing on the one. (Except for a little while at first because I am obsessive and I need a little to obsess but then I totes wont!)
Anyway, I am going to finally drink this wine I have been squeezing between my legs. You know that thing I said above, about going, wait, it’s over? Already? I felt that about Game of Thrones even though I was racing to finish it and I couldn’t wait to get to the end to see what happened and it felt like I would never get there. In the same breath as I was saying hurry, hurry, get to the end, I was lamenting that it was going to end, and yet I couldn’t control myself, I couldn’t pace myself, I couldn’t stop trying to get to the end. And without fail, I said, wait, it’s over? Already? so I am going back and watching again.
Fuck scarcity. There is enough. If you do not have that kind of friend who can help steer you off Bullshit Story Lane, please find her. Or let be her. Because there is and you are and this wine between my legs is calling my name, and Jaime Lannister is still paused in mid-sentence and I will put the sound back on even though I really can’t hear and count the minutes until I see my baby who is probably in college by now who, upon seeing him, I will say, wait, it’s over? Already? You’re in college?
It goes that fast. Be there for it. Don’t stress so much. Eat the pizza. Drink the wine (unless you’re sober, duh.) Talk to the person next to you. Get quiet. Do it all. Fuck scarcity. Tattoo There is enough in your mind. On your heart.