Wednesday, July 16, 2014

JOHN & CAROLYN


It would have been  15 years ago today that John F Kennedy Jr, Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy and her sister, Lauren Bessette were tragically killed. I remember hearing the news on the radio and feeling devastated. I must have been only 13 when they died, but I had followed their story for as long as I could remember. They were the first celebrities I had ever actually been interested reading about; to my young mind, to me they were what "perfect grown-up life" looked like. Two breathtakingly attractive people (I can't think of many American celebrities as arrestingly beautiful as C.B), powerful, elegant, and completely in love. There isn't a present-day celebrity couple that compares to them, is there?


I could go on and on but I'm sure you've heard it all before... instead I will direct you to the memoir I have recently read, Fairy Tale Interrupted, by Rosemarie Terenzio. Rosemarie was JFK Jr's assistant at George magazine and a would later become a very close friend and confidante of both John and Carolyn. The book is a warm tribute to them and I can't recommend it highly enough. Here's one of my favourite passages:

In the three months leading up to the publication of the first issue, there was not a day off to be had. Everyone bitched and moaned about how late we were working - still, people didn't go home. We bonded over working at a magazine everyone was talking about. For the first time, the editors weren't just covering the news, they were making it. With all that newfound attention, actually getting the magazine out seemed secondary.
I was as guilty as the rest of the staff of getting swept up in the hype. I stayed late and came in on the weekends when it wasn't totally necessary. It wasn't like John's mail needed opening on a Sunday, but I didn't want to miss anything. Though I didn't know the difference between a managing and executive editor, I was as excited as anybody about putting a new magazine on the racks. I loved the frantic highs and lows of the deadlines, the cynical banter between writers, and the debates about politics.
I loved being involved... until I realised I wasn't a member of the club. At first I ignored hints from some of the staff, like the incredulous looks when I mentioned that I was a fan of the New York Times  writer Frank Rich or that I had gone to college. I didn't see myself the way they saw me: as an unsophisticated assistant from the outer boroughs. John's secretary. A dumb girl with a Bronx accent. No one worth knowing.
I clearly didn't fit into their "George Plimpton at Elaine's" vision of magazine publishing, where men with Upper East Side addresses drank like tough guys and spent like heiresses while talking over the "important" stories. When they went out, it had to be someplace where Hemingway took his last drink or Tom Wolfe first donned the white suit. And of course, at first I was not included. ("Well, if I were you, I certainly wouldn't go," a female editor who was part of their group said to me after  inquired about another editor's birthday-drinks outing. "He was very specific about who he invited.") That one particularly stung because the editor having the birthday was one I had a huge crush on - and he knew it.
Once, when most of the editorial staff was out of the office at a group lunch, John returned from a meeting to find me at my desk.
"Oh, you didn't have to wait for me to get back," he said. "You could have gone to lunch with everybody else."
"I wasn't invited," I said quickly.
"What? Why?"
"They never invite me"
I could tell John was annoyed. He didn't tolerate people being slighted. "Come on, we're going to lunch," he said.
He took me to the place where the rest of the staff was eating, and we sat three tables away, laughing and gossiping. I didn't need to look over at their table to know they got the message.


Thursday, July 10, 2014

I WILL NEVER...

I know, I know: never say never. But I am so uncertain of a lot of things that I think if I think I'm certain of something it means I probably am. Here goes:

1. I will never be a woman who suits white jeans
2. Ditto extremely short shorts
3. I will never use an elliptical machine again
5. I will never give birth naturally (aka will have C-section)
6. I will never eat foie gras
7. I will never hit my children (though I've never been a parent, so we'll see)
8. I will never snowboard
9. I will never stop thinking that McDonalds food is extraordinary
10. I will never deliberately harm someone

Now, over to you...

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

SNOW


We're back from a quick trip to the snow! We rented a place at Mt. Baw Baw in Victoria (it's the closest ski field to Melbourne) with a couple of other families and had one full day on the slopes before work commitments called us back home. James had never been to the snow before and I hadn't put on a pair of skis in over 10 years so we weren't sure how we'd fare. It turns out we're rather competent and slightly addicted to going up and down ski slopes all day long. Not to mention the magical feeling of just being in the snow. We loved it so much we think we'll head for Thredbo or Perisher within the next month.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

THE SAX IS BACK!

A very early memory of mine is the time I told my mother I wanted to play the saxophone. I was sitting in the back seat of our station wagon, my mum was driving and her friend was in the front passenger seat. When you're a child, anyone who isn't your immediate family represents an audience you're always seeking to impress. Mum's response to my statement might well have been only to show her friend how darn cute kids could be but it tore me up: "Is it because Lisa Simpson plays the saxophone?" She was totally correct and I was totally embarrassed. As a child, there's little that could be more humiliating than being caught out being a copy-cat. My denial was disproportionate to her question (but totally proportionate to how embarrassed I felt): a loud, obnoxious NO! (and I would be unsurprised if it were also accompanied by a frustrated kick to the back of the seat in front of me).

I wish I could say that I did end up playing the saxophone. It was, after all, the only instrument I was destined to play, given my excellent lung capacity, good ear and capable fingers! (Honest, they're some of my best traits!!!) But that didn't happen. Instead I moved on from the saxophone, in much the same way most musicians did after sax saturation of the 80's and 90's. Though I loved the way it turned a great song into one that makes you wait for the good bit, the way the electric guitar or an awesome middle 8 does, I didn't see a place for it in the present. It was all nostalgia, and I kick myself for thinking this way because now it's back, in a new and exciting way! Here's two songs which make the sax star again. I'm completely addicted.