Betty G: Chapter 2

Columbus & Kearny
This is my Nanowrimo novel- the rest is kinda self-explanatory. Info here: Betty G

I found the makeup brush in the flip out black leather case, of course. I rarely put things away so it’s a surprise when I do. I applied dark brown and grey lightly below the lashes and above, and because I’m retro, added a sparkly peach directly under my eyebrows. I wasn’t all that excited to leave a quiet warm apartment for a lot of strangers and the cold, miles away. Make-up helped getting my interest up.

Finished and got in my car, drove out of the basement garage, up and over Russian Hill listening to some crap hip hop that I don’t even care that I don’t know. Pine street is a lovely one way that I discovered when I moved to North Beach. It runs West and the timed lights are a total life-saver in this small city with so many stop signs. I drift into a quasi meditative state and think about The Novel. What is it about F Scott Fitzgerald? I was seriously into him in college, which was unpopular among English majors because he was high school canon. You’re into Derrida or Julia Kristeva, not some washed up TV writer who coined things like a popular culture movement. I think I identified with him- middle class kid from Minnesota, intimidated by prep schools, uneven style, striving, always on the brink of something, unrequited love, all that jazz. I loved his awkwardness, I guess. In re-reading his book, though, I felt nothing of his awkwardness. Instead, I am marveling at how blog-like he writes. It’s personal and offhand, and, as my friend Partha likes to say of blogwriting, “breathless,”:

“Why they came East I don’t know. They had spent a year in France for no particular reason, and then drifted here and there unrestfully wherever people played polo and were rich together.”

He shifts from personal view to these imagistic moments, and I remember loving this when I was 16, the way he could describe someone:

“I’m p-paralyzed with happiness.” She laughed again, as if she said something very witty, and held my hand for a moment, looking up into my face, promising that there was no one in the world she so much wanted to see. That was a way she had.

And some really deep, unexpected moments of emotional clarity. After driving away from Daisy and Tom’s bizarre lovenest, he writes:

“Their interest rather touched me and made them less remotely rich—nevertheless, I was confused and a little disgusted as I drove away.”

I make deft, quick, decided turns into left hand lanes and parallel parking spaces like a true urban dweller. I’m not proud of driving this way, I feel like it’s a time bomb waiting for the unexpected, waffling tourist driver to intersect with one of my “deft moves” and we’ll all die. Anyways, walking up the sidewalk to their house, inside, drop off the coat, say Hi to everyone I recognize, get saddled with a glass of wine, then in a break, I tell my hostess I’m doing Nanowrimo (again). Give her a quick run-down, a piece inspired by The Great Gatsby, in Dot Com era.

My hostess, Lauren, is younger than me, with auburn hair and a striking similarity to Rachel McAdams of celebrity fame. She gets really excited about the idea. “Oh my god, you could do this thing where the mansions are these start-ups in Palo Alto! And the office spaces are the you know…” waves her hand. I’m impressed she remembers The Gatsby, and yet I’m already locked into some decisions. “Gatsby is a woman, I’m switching it up a bit, “ she gives me a kind of odd look. I start to get this edge of a feeling, that I’m again losing the momentum, like in my other novels, where the idea is easily picked up, but the execution just doesn’t match the initial enthusiasm.

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