There’s a song entitled “Everything Waits To Be Noticed.” Written by Buddy Mondlock, Maia Sharp and Art Garfunkel who performs, it tells of moving along through life with the hope even, perhaps, the expectation, of being noticed.
“The quiet room, the unlikely pair.”
“A tree falls with no one there.”
When fellow blogger Bart Boehlert of Bart Boehlert’s Beautiful Things tagged The Errant Aesthete some weeks ago as one of his favorite blogs, I was thrilled. It is an honor to have someone of his ilk and elan acknowledge and yes, notice. My most humble thanks to him for including me in such esteemed company.
Here’s how being tagged works. When nominated, you are required to tell ten things about yourself, then pass it along to seven other bloggers of your choosing. They, in turn, carry on the tradition. Since I never met a rule I couldn’t break, I’ve come up with the required ten things you might be interested in knowing and nine blogs, I personally consider, as worthy of notice.
Since I normally reveal little of myself in these pages, I must confess to feeling a bit like that ambivalent fellow above, scrunched up out of sight under the protective cover of an unopened umbrella.
Thus, the first thing to know about me is that I’m quite private, so this autobiographical jaunt is a bit like losing my internet chastity in a Colosseum full of stalkers.
1. I work tirelessly, some might say compulsively, to embrace and align my contradictions and eccentricities. I always felt I belonged to another place and time. For years, I suspected I was mistakenly switched at birth since my parents and siblings all had brown eyes and I, blue.
Naturally, it gave rise to taking huge leaps with creative license in reinventing myself into someone else.
The Errant Aesthete, for example.
“Know first who you are; and then adorn yourself accordingly.”
2. My earliest memory of a life long quest for self-styled sartorial splendor began at the age of seven when mortified at the thought of being seen strolling through the neighborhood in a dowdy and dreary academic ensemble, I ditched the shamefully atrocious shoes – big, brown, clunky Oxfords — into the folds of my bag in exchange for the far sportier and socially acceptable Keds.
Blessed with scrupulous standards, however, I did think the dark navy beret quite smart and so very French.
3. I love small details, observations, anecdotes, trivia, odds and ends, and always carry a journal to record the unusual, the dissimilar, the incandescently sublime and the outright strange. An entry might be a tidbit gleaned from a magazine or a newspaper, or an interview on the radio that revealed, for instance, what one well-known celebrity ordered for breakfast at the Hotel Du Cap: white roses, red fruit and coffee (black).
4. I’m famously known in my small circle for wearing the unexpected: head wraps ala Lou Lou de la Falaise, multiple skirts (two, sometimes three) for a fully layered elongated look accented with fashionable boots, of course, and a J. Peterman inspired over-sized duster coat for eye-catching effect.
Rounding off my one-of-a-kind repertoire were tailored vests, snappy suspenders and all manner of ties (bow, wide, skinny in silk, wool, leather, and beads).
Inspiration credits also go to Kate Hepburn’s trousers (featured here with those Oxford brown tie-shoes I came to love) and the outrageously ridiculed George Sand with her unorthodox lifestyle, fashion sense, romantic rebellions, and scandalous use of tobacco in public.
Any woman of that era who could elicit this most delicious of criticisms from poet, Charles Baudelaire, left me breathless with ardor: “The fact that there are men who could become enamoured of this slut is indeed a proof of the abasement of the men of this generation.”
5. The gypsy resides in me. Born with a sense of wandering and restlessness, I feel certain I was a Bedouin in a past life. Each apartment, room, loft, guest house, condo, even home was temporary, a train station or bus depot. Stopovers on the way to somewhere else.
I’ve lived in seven cities and six states which doesn’t always endear me to those more permanently rooted. Where to send the Christmas card.
6. Coco Chanel believed that art is imperfection and disorder and I couldn’t agree more. Hence, I’ve always been the least bit contrarian in my views, my style, my things. For example, an old wooden wheelbarrow overflowing with vintage buckets of flowers graces my living room and an impossibly tall English stepladder once belonging to a small, reputable book shop now resides in a quiet corner of my kitchen.
7. I was held up at gunpoint my first year of living in New York. There was a well-known theory going around at the time that if you could survive your first year in Manhattan without incident, your chances of living a long and productive life as an octogenarian were assured. Don’t believe it.
Do believe that you can never fully know what your reaction in a crisis will be until you’re actually faced with it.
While most would shrink in mute horror at the sight of a surly looking man with a gun, my reaction was a strangely curious response of bluster and defiance. Like a charging matriarchal elephant protecting her young, I launched into a chattering tirade, fuming to this gun-wielding stranger that this was the second time in less than a week that someone had tried to make off with my finances (a clever hacker had helped himself to my credit card number).
When the undaunted robber pressed on, demanding money, I, incredulously, sputtered back that I didn’t have any, (meanwhile, my handbag was jammed with bills). In one long solo breath that Kathleen Battle might envy, I charged through a litany of implausible excuses on how I wished I could help him out, but… well, you know, this being New York and me being new to town and short on cash … and well, there’s nothing I can do. Realizing I was quickly losing momentum and nerve, I wrapped it up with a final whimper of “Sorry.”
Friends, upon hearing of my near death experience (aka badly botched holdup attempt), called me everything from a brainless twit to a certifiable idiot, while my parents wept in relief, or embarrassment, I knew not which. The police, meanwhile, thought me seriously misguided and in need of some good common sense.
Yet, as I’ve come to learn, even in the most direst of moments, miracles do happen. So charmed was my assailant by either my incessant prattling or my, hopelessly, naive maiden-in-distress entreaties, he mumbled something about me being ‘very sweet,’ and gallantly blew me a kiss as he walked out the door, mere moments before I crumbled to my knees and fainted dead away.
8. I revere certain sounds like that of the Cello, the Violin, the music of Ennio Morricone and silence. Empty, noiseless, tranquil nothing.
9. I think everyone is entitled to a once-in-a-lifetime adventure complete with a head-over-heels, lust-laden transcontinental romance to keep things in perspective. I had one such life altering moment a few years back when I traveled solo to Venice one Christmas on an art and architectural tour. Deplaning for a stopover in Rome, my gaze fell upon the most devilishly handsome of men standing, not across the room, but at the bottom of the boarding steps, ushering passengers into the terminal. As fate would have it, he worked for Air Italia. If you’ve ever encountered one of those fabled eye-locking moments of your own, well … let’s not be shy about it. It’s an irrefutable “yes” to sex sans the small talk.
Had screenwriter, Ring Lardner, been there he might have referenced his most wonderfully quotable line, “They gave each other a smile with a future in it”.
The attraction was so pronounced, so immediate, and the flirting so outrageous, the other passengers seemed to be experiencing a pre-coital glow of their own. When my gorgeous leading man suggested I meet up with him ten days hence in Florence, summit talks ensued with those of my more pious fellow travelers falling strangely quiet, lest they give the appearance of condoning moral misconduct.
The more tolerant of my plane mates, virtual strangers prior to boarding in LA, cozied up to me like long lost relatives, dispensing heartfelt advice, wisdom, and, unmistakably, self-annointed fantasies of their own.
Poll results were evenly divided with the men warning that my impossibly handsome consort was little more than a sweet-talking lothario and louse, programmed in deception, while the women, oh those dear suddenly intimate sisters, never flinched, wavered or equivocated in seeing Mr. Right (for the moment, at least). A chorus of well wishers with romanticized dreams of their own, soundly advised that while hearts can heal, there was no antidote for chances lost.
Following a dizzying schedule of logged air miles and motor scooter rides amid passionate trysts of wine, plates of pasta and softly-cooed sonnets of love, we retreated to our too dissimilar lives after an eighteen month tempestuous affair. Not surprisingly, the ladies, my sisters of the air, had it right.
10. I once enjoyed a career some would envy. Glamor. Perks. Hefty sums of money. An Emmy. But trade-offs too.
Burnout, backstabbing, huge chunks of time lost in a daze of delirium. Coupled with inordinate amounts of excess in drama, intensity, hypocrisy, cronyism, toxicity, old boy networks and, well … You get the idea. I ended up doing what any self righteous, independently spirited woman with a sense of her own value would do — I left.
Packed up the homestead, threw a dart at the map and fled the all too emotionally fraught unwholesome familiar.
These days I can be spotted walking the dog in a serenely beautiful and desolate bird sanctuary, alternating between quiet moments of revelry interrupted by an occasioned outburst of bellowing at the top of my lungs. There’s something about being alone in the great outdoors, shielded in the most private of places where one can get away with that sort of behavior without getting arrested, or being reported.
You might say my existence right now is akin to a total do-over. Transition. Redefinition. Or whatever the lexicon of the culture deems it these days. There’s something rather liberating about taking an unplanned “time out.” It is not for the faint of heart as It so goes against our mania for busyness. There are days when I marvel at the simple and uncomplicated ease of it all, secretly thinking to myself this is not half bad. As I write this, Sir Edward Elgar’s majestic Enigma Variations, Op.36, fittingly found its way to the airwaves.
For the moment, at least, with no plans, maps, goals, or destinations, there is a undeniable grace, beauty and bliss in discovering the unexpected pleasures to be found in the presence of your own quiet company.
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