Dec. 26, 2008

The world in the year 2000

by Marge Piercy

It will be covered to a depth of seven
inches by the little white plastic
chips at once soft and repellent
to the touch and with the ability
to bounce like baby beach balls
under the table and under the radiator.
They come in boxes with toasters,
with vitamin pills, with whatever
you order, as packing material : they
will conquer the world. They are
doing it already beginning
with my kitchen.

"The world in the year 2000" by Marge Piercy, from Stone, Paper, Knife. © Alfred A. Knopf, 1994. Reprinted with permission. (buy now)

It was on this day in 1905 that Edith Wharton, who was at her large estate near Asheville, North Carolina, wrote a letter to a friend, and she said:

Yesterday we had a big Xmas fete for the 350 people on the estate — a tree 30ft high, Punch & Judy, conjuror, presents & "refreshments." It would have interested you, it was done so well & sympathetically, each person's wants being thought of, from mother to last baby.

On this day in 1927, Anaïs Nin wrote in her diary:

The tree was illumined — more presents given away. Mother's dinner was efficiently disposed of, without much grace or wit — the Danish spirit prevailing. Stupefied by the labor of digestion, all the family sat around in a circle: Manny, like a wilted flower; Liska, like a tired athlete; Emily, with her hands on her stomach and her knees wide apart; Betsy, with sagging shoulders.

It's the birthday of Anaïs Nin's lover, the writer Henry Miller, (books by this author) born in New York City in 1891. He's best known for his novel Tropic of Cancer (1934). It was banned in the United States until a Supreme Court ruling in 1964 overruled charges of obscenity. Miller moved to Paris in 1930, where he lived until the beginning of World War II. He moved back to the United States in 1940, to Big Sur, California.

He said, "Whatever I do is done out of sheer joy; I drop my fruits like a ripe tree."

It's the birthday of the gossip columnist Doris Lilly, born in South Pasadena, California (1926). She wrote for the New York Post and the New York Daily Mirror. And she wrote How to Marry a Millionaire (1951), which was made into a movie starring Marilyn Monroe. She once admitted that the people she wrote about were shallow, but she said, "They're pleasant and they smell good and they eat well and drink good wines, and that's all right."

It's the birthday of David Sedaris, (books by this author) born near Binghamton, New York (1956). He grew up in Raleigh, North Carolina. He moved to Chicago, and he made a living painting apartments, squirrel-proofing houses, and working as a house cleaner. Then, in 1992, he read his essay "The SantaLand Diaries" on NPR's Morning Edition. It was extremely popular. He signed a contract with a publisher, and his books of essays were huge best-sellers — Barrel Fever (1994), Naked (1997), and Me Talk Pretty One Day (2000). But even after he became a successful writer, Sedaris kept his job cleaning apartments for a long time. He said, "I can only write when it's dark, so basically, my whole day is spent waiting for it to get dark. Cleaning apartments gives me something to do when I get up. Otherwise, I'd feel like a bum." Also, it allowed him to keep up with his favorite soap operas. David Sedaris has kept a diary for about 30 years. He makes one for every season, and each one has a cover. He says, "It's a lot of work for something no one's ever going to see."

His most recent book is When You Are Engulfed in Flames (2008).

Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®




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