Dirty Thirty, Signed Hardback
From my bookshelf to yours with love & all the best wishes for adventure!
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"By thirty, I have basically endured two divorces, but have somehow managed never to have been a bride: one proposal, two men I would have mothered children for, three rings, four great loves, five homes (each of which required appropriate redecorating, of course), lots of paperwork... And a partriiiiidge in a pear tree."
- Billie Proffitt
from Chapter One, What They Say Is True
"Fall in love or fall in hate. Get inspired or be depressed. Ace a test or flunk a class. Make babies or make art. Speak the truth or lie and cheat. Dance on tables or sit in the corner. Life is divine chaos. Embrace it. Forgive yourself. Breathe. And enjoy the ride...”
How’s the book?? was the last thing he ever said to me – it came in a WhatsApp message on Monday, and Friday he was dead. The following weeks brought plenty of painful changes, but above all, it changed the greatest regret of my life in the truth I had to face: that I chose to selfishly make my own art instead of incorporating him into my life enough to one day have carried his babies. Would he be here today if I had decided differently? Everything happens for a reason I repeat to myself over and over again. Everything happens for a reason.
This book is now for you. It is a constant reminder for me of why I made the choice I did then –because through telling stories we create more empathy in the world & with that we hold the power to make this a better place to live. That is the grace and inspiration you provided in life as you do in death – that you lived with this intention not through your words, but as a breathing example for all whose lives you touched to follow. You are one of the bravest human beings I have ever been blessed to know and I hope I can live up to the groundwork that you left behind. Above all, thank you.
Only the good die young.
“It takes courage to grow up and become who we truly are.”
- E. E. Cummings
Table of Contents
Chapter One: What They Say Is True
Chapter Two: Art Saves The Lonely, Baby
Chapter Three: “Life Begins At The End of Your Comfort Zone”
Chapter Four: “Patience, Grasshopper”
Chapter Five: Find My Momentum – Or – A Piece of Firewood Doesn’t Slow Me Down In A Modified PowerWheels Jeep
Chapter Six: I Am The Company I Keep
Chapter Seven: Learn To Let Go, Because Nothing Belongs To Me
Chapter Eight: A Spade Is A Fucking Shovel – Or – Identifying Components of Truth, Part I: It Just Is What It Is
Chapter Nine: Practice Never Makes Perfect, But It Sure Makes Things Easier
Chapter Ten: I Cannot Change The Truth, But I Can Change My Future
Chapter Eleven: Independence, Means Financial Independence
Chapter Twelve: Be Myself Wherever I Go – Or – How I Do One Thing, Is Absolutely How I Do Another
Chapter Thirteen: More Work Equals More Play
Chapter Fourteen: Organized Religion Is A Cage, But Faith Will Set Me Free
Chapter Fifteen: The Perils of Impregnating An Ego
Chapter Sixteen: The Paramount Precept: Everyone I See On My Way Up, I Will See Again On My Way Down
Chapter Seventeen: “Time Passes So Quickly!” (Flips Bar Mitzvah Photo Album Page And Sobs)
Chapter Eighteen: Everything Is An Investment – Or – You Reap What You Sow
Chapter Nineteen: Fifty Percent Is Nature, Fifty Percent Is Nurture
Chapter Twenty: Bad News First, Please
Chapter Twenty-One: Know My Own Good, Bad And Ugly
Chapter Twenty-Two: “Before Enlightenment, Chop Wood Carry Water. After Enlightenment, Chop Wood, Carry Water”
Chapter Twenty-Three: In D Major Tune of “Oh Tannenbaum” “Oh, [Irony], Oh [Irony]… Thy Leaves Are So Unchanging”
Chapter Twenty-Four: The Only Guarantee In Life, Is That There Is No Guarantee
Chapter Twenty-Five: Power Accentuates One’s Character, For Better And For Wors
Chapter Twenty-Six: Square Pegs Don’t Fit Into Round Holes – Or – Identifying Components of Truth, Part II: Clarity of Need
Chapter Twenty-Seven: History Repeats Itself As Everything Is Always Coming Full Circle
Chapter Twenty-Eight: “Your Heart Knows In Silence The Secrets of The Days And The Nights”
Chapter Twenty-Nine: I Can Always Come Home
Chapter Thirty: Holy Shit, There’s More?
Chapter One -
What They Say Is True
“The truth is not for all men, but only for those who seek it.”
I mean… I can do this the easy way, or the hard way. Either one is always my choice.
My parents, my teachers, the authors of my books, the strange old folk to whom I’ve lent my ear at various Starbucks (okay, okay, and bars) over the years while waiting for a friend, the man who offered solace on a Qantas flight as I sobbed because I had left Mike (and therefore abandoned myself very far away from home), the songwriters and musicians who bring those words to life…
They all told me their stories – their feelings, their experiences, their lessons, and the adages of those who came before them. I rolled my eyes inwardly far too many times, while saying aloud, “Oh, really?” or murmuring, “Yeah, I’ll remember that...” Actually, I was thinking that none of it applied to me.
My Mom keeps a Post-It note on their fridge still (one that was replaced many times with new background colors throughout my childhood, each time I threw away the one before it) that reads:
‘I don’t care that you remember.’ – Billie, January, 1996
I was nine. I was at that place in life when I still believed in my rudimentary perception of the world and that the rest of it was revolving around me. But Oscar Wilde said, “I am not young enough to know everything,” and the older I get, the more I agree with him – the more I realize that these underlying human truths don’t rot with time.
When I was twelve, I decided my room had to be redesigned with sponge-painted clouds on the walls and light yellow gingham bed-linen, a more ordinary by far cry from the truth of my unconventional childhood. (Wait, wait – you mean to tell me not everyone grew up listening to mornings on The Howard Stern Show on the drive to kindergarten? Weird.)
In those clouds I put up quotes that I adored and saw my life being lived by. If I could memorize them and keep their lessons in the forefront of my mind, it was my belief that it would make my life easier. Armed this way, I felt I could learn from them and see the train wrecks of life coming before they hit me. But from inside the car on my road, when I came to get stuck on various tracks, the trains approaching never looked so dangerous, until they hit me. They approached like Lucifer: in various shapes and forms, looking alluring and with the gift of silver tongues.
I now regard this data as prophecies told to me for my fortification – capitol for drawing on when the trainwrecks started.
Numerous times I have stood there with the Why Didn’t You Tell Me?! look on my face, to which my Dad repeatedly responds, “I did tell you, but you didn’t hear me. I spoke the words – but I could have put it on a piece of paper, whispered it in your ear, screamed it in your face or written it in the sky. You were never going to hear me, until you were ready to.” And eventually – across any length of time – once I decipher my own language, he’s right.
By introducing my predecessor’s experiences, their existence is identified in my head; albeit subconsciously, knowing their outcomes allows me more opportunity in applying them to a bigger challenge in my own life. Each chapter in this book is comprised of the various instances in which I have learned these lessons over and overagain; ideally deeper and better each time. The truth is, we are allowed endless opportunities to do this. These lessons accumulate, assimilate and then procreate in my gut instinct, and I am smarter, better, faster, stronger for surviving the process of it.
I choose to believe in these visceral impulses because it is where I find god speaking through me. Believing in him – his faith, his science and every other form of energy – is present in my ability and credence to keep moving forward toward a better tomorrow.
Now is probably a good time to state that I am not at all religious. I have broken all Ten Commandments at different times (three of them I continually reject every day). I do not wear a red ribbon around my wrist or pray five times a day facing a certain direction; I am contemptuous of enslavement to rules and I curse like the fucking sailor that I am.
In the words that follow, I am asking you to go beyond the word “god” as you read this book, (and the fact that I do not capitalize it,) because when I speak of “him”, what I am referring to is my own inner voice, which I cannot take prideful credit for. I am only a meager vessel who is blessed enough to have the universe’s truths pass through me while I stand here on earth – as every, single one of us is – trying to gain more awareness. I hold no power without the light of all other consciousness, and I am grateful for the support that grid provides, every day.
Whatever you want to call that universal force that is bigger than us, I respect. The greater good, prana, Allah, love, She, He, Yahweh, Great Tennger, science, Siddhartha, medicine, God, nothingness… Whatever. And I don’t mean to offend anyone, either. I only use the word “god” because it was the first way it was introduced to me as a small child and hey, eventually I ended up at a Catholic school, so old habits die hard.
More importantly are those time-tested sayings – the things They say.
I think at thirty I finally have to call myself a (loud swallow) woman. I’m like a grown up version of that kid who asks, “Why?” a hundred times in a row and then wants to discuss each answer, in order of priority, starting at the top. Annoying sometimes? Yes, regularly! But curiosity surely drives evolution. I have no plans to stop either, because as Ben Harper sings, I believe in a better way.
No matter how simple or monumental the fork-in-the-road decision appears I have the precious free will to choose to go in either direction. I must keep in mind though, as a wise businessman from Melbourne once told me over dinner on The Peninsula Beverly Hills roof, that “The easy way will always be the hard way, and what at first you think is hard will be easier in the long run.”
We are blessed in how many chances life gives us to learn these lessons too – again, and again. When we fall into the hole of one street, we eventually have the privilege of another set of circumstances further on down the line, which poise the opportunity to overcome it – or just, to walk around it.
I have (mostly) chosen to follow my heart-of-hearts, which is sound advice I garnered from Joseph Campbell: “Follow your bliss,” he said, “and the universe will open doors for you, where there were only walls.” I believe, as the Kabbalah teaches, that desire is the basis for all the universe – from it, everything we know arises. It is the precursor to creation. Therefore, you will find my desires to be as outlandish as any other female’s and that they change just as often… And that most of the time, they are driven by love.
By thirty, I have basically endured two divorces, but have somehow managed never to have been a bride: actually not married at all. One proposal, two men I would have mothered children for, three great loves, four homes (each of which required appropriate redecorating, of course), five rings, lots of paperwork… And a partriiiiidge in a pear tree.
The part that still stings is that no white dress, no pretty cake, and no party have ever been elements of these stories. (And, my, how I love dresses, cakes and parties. Third time’s a charm!)
But how did this happen? To begin with…