August 2, 2007
My legal review with the very nice attorney representing my publisher went well, although it ended up taking five hours. I'm not sure who to thank, James Frey or my own snotty writing or just common sense, but yes, five whole earth hours that I will never get back.
They weren't wasted hours, either. I defended a great many statements, changed many of them slightly, and rewrote a few. What I have left is, hopefully, clean and fresh and litigation-resistant.
It's been a week for revisiting the past, in some ways. In the process of having the book vetted, a member of Julie's family got upset about a story that was in the book, one that was important to the story but admittedly didn't reflect very well on him. The attorney cleared the story, but in the end I changed it, although I regretted it almost immediately. I've never felt like a sellout until now. Julie's been supportive of this book, however, so I figured I owed her a little family peace in return. Still, it bothered me when I did it, and it bothers me still. I shall get over it.
I received two other pieces of news this week that left me feeling... strange. I spoke to my mother early in the week and discovered that my childhood best friend recently committed suicide. He had been extremely ill with some pretty serious stuff, and I suppose it just got the best of him.
I can't remember the last time I spoke to him, although it might have been twenty years ago. In finding out about his death, I realized that I didn't actually know very much about his life, the one that came after our summers of running around our neighborhood setting off illegal fireworks and sucking down enough Slurpees to, well, give a kid diabetes one day. He'd become an adult and so had I, and our paths only crossed once more, in a brief meeting while I was in college that I barely remember. Now I feel a sort of loss, not just at his death but, I suppose, at his life, too, the one I never knew.
The other piece of disconcerting news I stumbled across was that my ex-wife has a child. This one I'm not sad about; indeed, if having a kid changed her the way having Schuyler changed me, then I'm hopeful she is happier now than she was when we were together. It was still an odd feeling, however, if only because it made me think about that life I had and that path I didn't continue.
Julie and I discussed this recently, how it's hard to think back to the lives we had, both together and even before we met, before Schuyler was born. It's weird, too, because it's not that I don't remember the events of my life back then. It's just that in my memories, or maybe in the feel of my memories, Schuyler is there. When I think back to my wedding, it seems crazy to think that she wasn't sitting there watching. When I remember my father's death almost two decades ago, it's hard to believe that she wasn't there as well, patting my hand comfortingly and speaking softly in soothing Martian.
I suppose, in a way, that she's always been there. I said recently that in my writing before 1999, I was simply waiting for Schuyler to be born, but really, I suppose that applies to my whole life.