My teenage son is home from his first college year and told me last night that every single parent of every single person he knows has acknowledged I am a loser and a lowlife pathetic failure of an excuse for a parent. This was just the prologue. The meltdown went on and on to dis my religion, my total 3 loser dysfunctional friends, the fact that I have never paid for one single thing in his life (translation: I have paid for EVERY single thing in his life except his iphone), and that all of his friends hate me. Three of them were witnessing this tirade, the same three that seem to endure sleeping in my loser apartment every night because they don’t dare go home. One of them even lives in a mansion on Fifth Avenue and is not allowed to have friends over but chimed in for the chorus.
So was this just a decoy to make his horrid report card seem less heinous? A belated Mother’s Day gift? The effect of his self-medication or failure to medicate or overmedicate? Bad sports-gambling debts which are mounting geometrically? He is the drama queen of the house, but this endless speech made 50 lashes seem quaint.
I went out for a margarita with friends who egged me on to throw the ungrateful wretch out. I came home slightly ‘tempered’ only to face accusations of being a drunk, and a belligerent drunk. Trust me, not only is my annual alcohol consumption less than one average teenage weekend binge, but I no longer have the passion for anger. I am anesthetized by not just the toxic fumes from voluminous media product- garbage, but from the slow ooze of cultural mediocrity. Has anyone else noticed this? Is it a Starbucks conspiracy? Our caffeine consumption has risen to offset the malaise, but it will take a high-magnitude earthquake to wake us up to our own sloth. I summon all my genetic bitchery, order all kids out, and no one moves. Even wrath is diluted... impotent.
Tonight I had dinner with a former rockstar who has the musical genius to compose a shattering soundtrack, but lacks the technology and equipment. Instead we are forced to turn on our sets to inadequate shows with not just derivative but inferior music by craftsmen who have all the technology but no creative depth or maturity. Is it their fault? Maybe not.
Wednesday I turned down an invite to attend the annual induction ceremony at the Academy of Arts and Letters. It seems they are running out of eligible people, because the list was as exciting as summer reality-TV reruns. Even the notion of sitting through these speeches was painful. Dull pain.
Last week an elderly former fashion designer complained to me that he attended an Anna Wintour lecture and all the women looked the same. Everyone has the same flowing hair, the same botoxed face, the same makeup and colors, the same shoes and gestures. Come to one of my shows, I teased him… you will at least see the marginally and mainstream hideous. He laughed. Said my soul was showing unfashionably. Sticking out.
As if I hadn't had enough abuse, the edgy indie director for whom I am writing film music kicked my lagging butt. He also threatened to put my unfinished music up on a myspace site, one by one, as punishment for my personal brand of sloppy perfectionism. Forget your brilliant NYTimes cd review and your poetry. The only books we will soon see in Barnes and Noble are Dan Brown, Harry Potter, and endless teenage vampire chronicles. Aside from that, publishers will take a risk on Paris Hilton's cookbook and Michelle Obama's workout routine. No more literature. Put that in the Academy pipe and smoke it.
Then the Chinese Restaurant we play at on Saturdays cancelled us. Apparently no one is eating this holiday weekend and if they are, they are doing it in front of their TV and saving the service charge. So they certainly do not require musical accompaniment.
My son got an ‘A’ in Business Law. Mostly because one of his teammates loaned him the assignments. He managed a mediocrity ‘B’ in Writing for the Media for which an ‘A’ might not be marketable. Ditto World Politics. But he never showed up for Psychology (surprise!), and had an ‘F’ in a course called ‘Equality’. I queried…perhaps you thought they meant ‘e-Quality’? Secretly I gave him a point.
This morning I emailed one of the young but wise songwriter-poets I consider my spritual offspring. He has lost everything in a fire, the blessing of which he is remarkably able to appreciate. The rest of us have simply lost everything but are still encumbered with rent and storage fees, dustmites and debris, molted skin and unusable lyrics. I told him how depressing the Academy list was, and that I was beginning to crust and crinkle at the edges with the smolder of blackened nasty. So just now, coming in from a Manhattan summer-doldrums-preview night out, I received his 4-word post-conflagration reply which soothed a few stinging maternal wounds and stilled the ache of mediocrity like Amazing Grace: ‘I see a light’, he said. Full stop.
Maybe it will be okay.