Wednesday, December 10, 2003

Jealousy Is Not Pretty

To the casual observer, I was happily sipping Merlot and enjoying my rosemary-scented chicken, but on the inside I was in turmoil. Like a possesive girlfriend, I blanched each time I glanced at the podium and saw Ann Packer huddling close to Daniel Handler, their foreheads almost touching as they chatted companionably. In my fantasy I would be up there too, just flowing with pithy comments and observations worthy of the Algonquin Round Table.

When I was in grade school all of my classmates, even those who ignored me at lunch and picked me last for kickball teams, crowded around eagerly every time I read one of my stories aloud. I carried a notebook with me everywhere, gathering up material for the great novel I knew I would write one day. Instead I am reduced to spending $95 for the privlege of eating dried up poultry breast and waiting three hours in line for the chance to exchange a few words with Lemony Snicket, my former childhood chum. The only thing that made me feel MORE pathetic was actually meeting him and feeling obligated to mention our ridiculously ancient personal connection.

Because my association with Daniel is so miniscule, I actually feel far less envious of his success then I do with people I knew well in high school, or the offspring of my parents' friends whose grand houses and prestigious occupations I hear about repeatedly. Sure, when I first learned years ago that he was writing a novel, I rolled my eyes and said "him too?" But when I read Basic Eight for the first time I was blown away by his unique voice and dark, dry humor. And by the time the Series of Unfortunate Events hit it big, there was no point in being jealous - his talent and creativity was so far out of my league I couldn't even begin to compare myself to him. Daniel, I decided, deserved every bit of his success.

Okay, so I can never be another Lemony Snicket. But sometimes I can't help but to think that maybe - if I had been more disciplined, if I could have handled the rigors of an intensive creative arts major and my ego was not too fragile for the blunt criticism of writing workshops, then maybe I could have mined my life and family for a few laughs and moments of poignancy like Adair Lara, or been plucked out of obscurity on the basis of an uneven, yet compelling morality tale like Ann Packer. And then it would be ME up on the podium, chatting with my old pal Daniel while basking in admiration and graciously signing autographs.

I have to admit - I still cling to a persistent fantasy that someday I *will* write a funny, moving and true chronicle of my experiences raising a son with Down Syndrome. Sort of like Anne Lamott but with more chromosomes (and far less Jesus), or Expecting Adam without the trippy supernatural subtext. In the meantime I will continue to blog away in obscurity.


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