Monday I read Les Misérables at work until I had to leave Jean Valjean on the road to Arras, where Victor Hugo left him, too; next comes an interlude with Fantine that I dread almost as much as I do Jean Valjean's arrival in Arras. I don't know what will happen next--I've never read this book before, never seen the musical or any of the movies. There was a TV miniseries version when I was a kid; it had a musical theme, five notes that went "Lay Miz Ah RAH BLAH!" which my sister used to sing, largely to annoy me. I can't remember watching the show. Most likely I was up in my room listening to music and "turning," which was something that I did from childhood through high school, in the dark to records or the radio, turning fast and clockwise in a roving circle with my arms outspread: a Sufi! Except I wasn't praying, I was escaping into daydreams as I still so often do, although without the turning: I have too much furniture now, too many "breakables" along with cats, and downstairs neighbors; besides this is a broken habit. Drinking replaced it, and smoking and smoking pot, as daydream tools. Those habits broken now as well, I daydream as I can, while walking, doing dishes, laundry, every task and chore; while at work, all through my lunch hour walks and bathroom breaks and ups and downs on elevators; while sitting on the beach. But especially while walking: it's a walking meditation in its way but the object isn't God, it's me. Or more precisely, a manifold resemblance to myself, but always more successful; often me, but often not. My avatars, my others, fleeing stardom, keeping wealth, are only two in number but as Spencer Tracy says in Pat and Mike, they're cherce. And, evidently, they're staying; at least they're with me still. My daydream fame flares up at the touch of a talk show, the flip of a celebrity magazine page; tennis tournaments send me into a deep, detailed space defined by what should have existed, but didn't.
Sad? I think, instead, efficient. Sustainable. Certainly Green. I got on the road to renunciation at an early age, and it started with turning. By now the fact is that I don't want very much more than I actually have because I've had everything I wanted, instantly, for years, in my head; I've led two exalted lives in addition to my own, delightfully enhanced; I've had a love that's lasted, literally since high school, and I've had perfect freedom to sleep with everyone I ever wanted, too. I've almost always owned a Karmann Ghia black convertible with red upholstery. Who wants a real car after that? And I should need a Master's degree when I've won Wimbledown? And an Oscar? You see what I'm saying.