Sunday, November 19, 2006

Are Rock Bottoms Solid/The Circle of Celebrity

I've had several moments in my life where I've thought, "OK, this is it, I've hit rock bottom." But then the mere fact that there have been several "rock bottom" moments implies that one of them really wasn't rock bottom, so obviously, the botom is porous and it's a sliding scale, especially for depressives. For a true depressive, I suppose that real "rock bottom" translates to thoughts of suicide or actual attempts. Anyway, my point is that I've had several times in my life where I've thought that "this is it; things just can't get any worse, how am I going to dig myself out of this whole and claw my way back to the top? (Or, the middle really.)

On Sept. 10, 2004, The New York Post ran a nearly full-page story about Dishalicious in the business section, accompanied by a photo of me and a photo of Bonnie Fuller. There had been previous items in Page Six, on Gawker and in Women's Wear Daily, but the business section of the Post? That got American Media's attention. Seventeen days later, Sept. 27, 2004, I learned that I was being sued by American Media. During all of this, the book was circulating amongst 10 publishers, and according to my then agent, prospects were good. Then I was served by AMI, and the bottom slowly began to fall out. The publishers' reactions went from "very interested" to "not interested, and I was once again unemployed.

Oct. 1, after I had a court date, after the press had both praised and vilified me and after the book was rejected by 9 publishers, my family and I went to the opening of our family friend's play, Jewtopia. Sam Wolfson, who I'd grown up with, is one of the stars and cowriters/cocreators. The audience that night was comprised mostly of family and friends of the stars. I was, as you can well imagine, an anxious mess that weekend. I was experiencing my first Warholian 15 minutes and was unsure what the hell it all meant? Would I challenge AMI? Would I settle? Would the book sell? And that night I was faced with a sea of Jacksonvillians I hadn't seen in years, so I had to do the whole 60-second-life story spiel about forty times.

I get through the pre-theater cocktail hour fine, doing the whole 60 second life story—book, press, lawsuit—several times over. Disconcertingly people seem to think that because I’m being sued, I’ve made it or I’m famous or I did something right. It’s bizarre.

Sam especially thinks this is cool. "Wow, you're being sued! How cool! Go get 'em Steph and let me know what happens."

In fact, this is pretty much everyone's reaction. The play is fantastic, and I’m so happy to see someone who deserves success finally achieve it. The thought that plagues me though is whether I’ll ever experience the joy that Sam is now, finally seeing his dreams come to fruition after struggling for so many years. I wonder if my parents will ever be as exuberantly proud as Denny and Arlene are of Sam. I have serious doubts they will.

After the play, at the small reception above the theater, my dad congratulates Sam's dad, Denny, with whom he grew up, saying something like, “I think your boy is going to make it!”

Denny, flushed with pride says something along the lines of, “It looks that way. Thank God, cause this is one difficult place to make it. You know, I came here after college to work on Wall Street and it was tough.”

“Well, you definitely have to be tough to make it here, otherwise the city will eat you alive,” I say, thinking, I wonder if I'll do the eating or be eaten.

Cut to two years later, this past Saturday night. Sam and Bryan are in Jacksonville doing a reading from their book. It's a funny book, and it was great seeing everyone again. But here we are again; two years later, a lawsuit, 30,000 edits of a manuscript, 500 pages of a new book and Sam, the actor, has a book and I, the writer, once again, have nothing. And once again, Sam's folks are laughing with pride, while my folks are, in answer to the question, "What is your daughter doing now," saying, "Well, she's in Miami, trying to figure things out."

Strangers or friends of my family I haven't seen in years, ask me what's going on and I have to do the 60-second-life-story yet again. "I'm in Miami, writing and working for my uncle."

"Do you like Miami?"

"No, actually, I hate it. I miss New York terribly."

"So what are you going to do?"

Good question.

Mercedes; The Ultimate Twatwaffle

10 hours in my car over two days does not a happy Stephanie make. Forced by the condo Nazis to "permanently remove" Wally from the premises, I drove up to Jacksonville yesterday, attended a patron's dinner for the JCC there wherein Sam and Bryan of Jewtopia were the featured performers, then drove right back down to Miami today. My back and neck ache, I've barely unpacked, and I'm off to Vegas for a true American Thanksgiving on Thursday. Funny stories from the weekend TK, from the Jewtopia event last night, but right now I must go stretch and hit the gym.
And, yes I'm bitching again, but if you don't like my bitching, then quit reading, because I tend to do quite a lot of it.