How have you been? We are buried under snow here in Virginia, as is much of the Eastern Seaboard, but my son is napping so it’s BLOGTIME! (also, I have never been so happy to be renting as I am RIGHT NOW, as I sit inside in my slippers while someone else shovels my walkway and parking spot.)
Business first–I will soon be leaving my home and taking off on a whirlwind tour across the country, and most likely coming to a city near YOU! I am coming to (in order) Boston, Chicago, DC, NYC, Dallas, Los Angeles, Portland, and San Fransisco. Check my “appearances” page right here on the blog for the most up-to-date information. I’ll be adding the West Coast stuff later today when it’s all finalized, but I couldn’t wait to tell you! Please come see me if you can. And bring a friend! It will be a super good time and you will most likely be able to meet my son, who is adorable. If you don’t want to come for me, come for my little guy in tiny pirate clothes.
I will also be appearing on “Hollywood Today Live,” on April 26th. If you are part of the 40% of the country who gets this show, make sure to tune in and watch me talk pirates on national TV!
As you can see, I’ve been pretty busy getting the tour set up, but I have been sneaking in a little reading time, and I’ve just finished “The Princess Diarist” by Carrie Fisher. I listened to it on tape during a series of longish car trips, and it was really soothing to hear Carrie Fisher’s voice tell me her story.
The book was unexpectedly poignant because it was her last. Every time she mentioned offhand “Leia will outlive me” or “I’ll do so and so for the rest of my life,” I couldn’t help but think that the rest of her life was a lot shorter than she envisioned it while writing the book. It made me think about the things I do and the things I put off, thinking there will be time. Sometimes, there just isn’t time. This was a sobering reminder of that.
I am just so, so, so glad that she got to make Episode VII (and apparently VIII too) before she died. Her enduring legacy will not be of the golden bikini, but of the General–leader of the Resistance, powerful and graceful. A woman who, at the end of her life, was still doing what she loved. My son will know her first as the General, then as the Princess. I can’t help but feel that his life will be better for it.
I’d seen headlines on Facebook that this book was where she revealed the surprise nobody was suprised by–she and Harrison Ford slept together during the filming of Star Wars. I’d always assumed that it had happened, given their chemistry. I think honestly the world did not need to know this, but the way she tells it is so compelling and it says so much more about her and women in Hollywood than it does about the affair itself.
As I was listening, I remembered that in 5th grade, frantic for more info about my icon Princess Leia (because Leia and Carrie were the same thing, in my mind) I read “Postcards from the Edge.” (How I got a copy, I don’t know. Probably the library. My mother, bless her, never really censored my reading list but it’s possible I snuck it past her.) I was at the time as straight-edge as a ruler (still am, for the most part) and I was absolutely wrecked to know that someone I idolized had done so many drugs. How could I have so misplaced my adoration? Looking back, that incident stands out as the first time I realized that adults are real, flawed, people, not heroes with all the answers. Nothing is black and white, I discovered. This may sound trivial now but I was truly despondent. I felt like I’d learned an awful secret–something I shouldn’t have stumbled upon, like accidentally changing the channel to a porno. I desperately wanted to un-see what I’d seen. But I couldn’t–I had to deal with it.
Reconciling Leia, courageous and feisty Leia who so cheered my heart with Carrie, a former drug addict, was difficult. I had to accept that while drugs were bad, not all people who did drugs were bad. Sometimes good people, people I loved, would do stupid things, make mistakes, and that didn’t make them into different people. They were still the people I cared about, flaws and all. I think that this radically changed the course of my life, in a way. I was on the path to being a fundamentalist zealot, someone who clung so tightly to her beliefs that there was no room for any interpretation. I could have grown up into a lonely, priggish, sniffing spinster who looks down her nose at everyone and everything that doesn’t live up to her standards. (Don’t laugh–and I hate the word spinster–but let’s all admit we know people like this, people who are so caught up in their own worldview that they have no idea why everyone doesn’t see things their way. Most of these people are lonely but won’t admit it, because it is more important to them to be right than to make a friend. I know these people. And I could have been one of them.)
Carrie makes the affair sound like a silly romp, but it’s clear that she felt deeply for him, and it caused a great deal of emotional trauma for her. The whole thing began after the all-male crew coerced her into drinking and Ford “rescued” her drunk self from them (and then proceeded to make out with her). She recounts his anger and disbelief when he discovers that she’s only been with one guy and not the scores of men she’s talked about. The whole thing sounds a little “Fifty Shades of Grey” to me, in terms of the emotional turmoil. It didn’t make me think less of Harrison Ford, maybe because I’ve loved him for so long too or maybe because she is so determined not to make a villian out of him in the story, but maybe I should think less of him. It seems like he took advantage of a young girl far from home while married with two kids. That’s not exactly Boy Scout behavior.
The lynchpin of the book is Carrie’s actual diary from 1976, which is read by her daughter (and oh man, how weird would that have to have been? I don’t think I could have done it. Even though it was 40 years ago. Not when I knew who Harrison Ford was and had to look him in the face afterward.) She is a typical 19 year old, albiet with a bigger vocabulary, and the teen angst that fills her diary would have felt right at home in my own diary (minus sleeping with a film star, of course.) I guess that’s the biggest takeaway from the book–she’s just like us! It’s just sad, to say the least, to learn that she was just like us in terms of being undervalued, taken advantage of, and forced to laugh about it instead of cry. When I mourn Carrie’s death (which this book made me do all over again) I mourn not just the strong woman she was, but the scared, shy, hurt, insecure teenager she still was inside. Even now I guess she’s still teaching me about c ontradictions in people. I owe her so much, and I will miss her so much.
Sorry to end this on a sad note, guys. But I am re-reading “My Teacher Flunked the Planet” by Bruce Coville, and it’s just as great as I remembered from 3rd grade. Come back next week for a brief Cuba travelogue and some more writing life info!