"let your boat of life be light, packed with only
what you need - a homely home and simple pleasures, someone to love and someone to love you,
enough to eat and enough to wear
and a little more than enough to drink:
for thirst is a dangerous thing"

Thursday, 31 May 2012

first dates and proposals

I am not sure if it is just the weather and the fact that everything is so warm and cozy or whether the weather has nothing to do with it at all and it is just a melancholy time of the year for me.  Not only for me, I have noticed that quite a few of my Facebook friends have been putting up slightly more "soppy" stuff than usual.  This one in particular was one that I clicked on, thought "Oh no, what rubbish am I watching now" and two minutes later was totally mesmerised and then wiping my eyes and sniffing.

Then it got me on to thinking about life and love and first dates and how with all the techno gadgets and social media available these days, things are so different.  Dalene and I were telling Amy how "in our days" girls had to wait for a guy to phone you to ask you out.  Poor guys would have to build up courage to dial your land line and then have to get past your mother (or father or sister) and announce themselves.  Then once you were on the line to the brave boy, who usually had to answer a few questions fired to him by your mother, you felt a little bit bad (very bad) to say "No, sorry I can't go out with you".  I always felt too bad to say "No".  Dalene however, never went out with anyone she did not really fancy and did not feel guilty saying "Sorry, I am already going out (even if she wasn't)". She was happier at home with her Bee Gees LP's and Jackie magazines than out on the town with someone who was not up to her high standards.  I must confess that there were a couple of times when I just could not go through with it and had to pretend to have to babysit my little brother.  The best story of all was when I agreed to go on a date with this much older guy (who had a sports car) and seemed very sophisticated to me.  He walked up the driveway and I spied him out of my bedroom window (I was all dressed up and ready to go) but as I viewed him in broad daylight combing his already perfectly blow dried mullet, I jumped straight into my bed, fully clothed.  I shouted for my mother and Dalene to please tell him that I had had an asthma attack.  I whisked out my pump and lay there breathing deeply into my Ventolin inhaler.   My mother still brought him through to my doorway to see the production I was putting on.  I still blush and hide whenever I see him. (He is always on the same stool holding up the bar at Forres (whenever I go there)).

But more like this:-

Amy's Blackberry does not stop beeping.  She only started attending parties a month or two ago and she has now has a couple of interested suitors.  Not nearly as difficult for guys today to get in touch with a girl - a BBM pin, a new Facebook friend and Bob's your uncle.  It works both ways though because it is as easy now for a girl to think about the date she is accepting before just saying "Yes, sure, that will be cool" and then having to overdose on your asthma pump when he arrives at the door.
Stay fussy Amy

Cheers for now.  Off to meet a friend for a birthday drink (at Forres).  Will let you know if "the mullet" is there.

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

a little inspiration for a grey day

During my internet adventures these last two weeks, I am coming across more and more Tumblr sites.  Basically they are sites that are filled with pictures and words - some amazing stuff and some pretty scary stuff - and from what I understand "tumblelogging" is what text messages are to email - short and sweet (not really my style).  It is a short form of blogging and seems to be catching on amazingly quickly.

However, what I find difficult now is how to be correct about referencing stuff that you are taking off other peoples Tumblr sites? Perhaps like Twitter you are supposed to re-tweet (tumblr) them but if you want to blog about them or use some verse or a picture, it is pretty difficult to find the original source.  

Like Pinterest you can spend hours looking at pretty pictures, holiday destinations and beautiful people.  Enough to often make your own pictures, holidays and normal self feel pretty ordinary, boring and unattractive.

One thing I found here during my cyber-travels was this wonderful piece (not quite sure what else to call it).  Sometimes on grey weather days like today when you are feeling a bit dowdy and dreary (and your middle son asks you in his very caring and polite way "Do you maybe need a new patch, Mom?", all you really need is to read some words like these (and perhaps a new oestrogen patch as well) to make you realise that we are who we are and that is just fine.

I am round where others are flat, flat where others are round.
I have rough skin on the bottoms of my feet, soft skin on the backs of my knees.
I have freckles, marks, scars and bruises. I breath deep gulps of air.
I am not like anyone before or anyone who is to come, other than our ends.
I have no reason to compare myself to others.
Not the rounding of my thighs, or the set of my eyes.
Not my train of thought, nor the way my hands flutter through the air when I talk.
These are possessions that are unconditionally mine.
I didn’t have to pay for them, I didn’t have to bargain, haggle and scrimp for them.
I didn’t have to pine after them on the pages of magazines.
Nor desire them from the pages of books.
My eyes do not see them elsewhere.
I do somethings better than others, I do many things worse than others.
I need not compare my talents to others.
I need not compare accomplishments or failures of  others to my accomplishments and failures.
So, my curves, my imperfections, are not imperfect.
I am perfect. I am a perfect me.
Selfish, perhaps.
However, I have to repeat these words each time I feel the doubt and fear creeping in.
I am a perfect me.  


Reading this right now, you are the perfect you.
The set of your eyes, the hitch of your stride.
The scars you have or don’t have.
You are the perfect you.
Relish in your perfection, often.
Praise your perfection.
Worship your soft, your rough.
The curve, the hollow, the point, the flat.
Let’s agree you are perfect, I am perfect.
Live in your perfection.
Stop comparisons.
Start self praise. 

I am a perfect me

Perfect white tulips for you
“For most of life, nothing wonderful happens. If you don’t enjoy getting up and working and finishing your work and sitting down to a meal with family or friends, then the chances are that you’re not going to be very happy. If someone bases his happiness or unhappiness on major events like a great new job, huge amounts of money, a flawlessly happy marriage or a trip to Paris, that person isn’t going to be happy much of the time. If, on the other hand, happiness depends on a good breakfast, flowers in the yard, a drink or a nap, then we are more likely to live with quite a bit of happiness.” —Andy Rooney (via ventriloquistic)
(via torace)

So there, time to think and take stock

I love nothing more than to sit down at the end of the day to a meal with family and friends.

My happiness is not based on my job, money or a trip to Paris

A good breakfast, flowers in my garden, a drink (rather than a nap) makes me realise that I live with so much happiness and although it has been a grey and dreary day today, I am on my way out of this office and off to give my little niece a big hug.  She was devastated yesterday to be given detention at school for the first time.  I have had reams of BBM messages from her, she does not read my blog ("the stories are too long") so I am going to share this little bit, with you, off my phone:-

K:  I have some terrible news
J:   What?
K:  Detention tomorrow
(Followed by a photograph of the detention slip)
K:  Its the first DT I have ever got in my life & I promise I am not happy about it.  I have been sad and crying this afternoon.
J:   Sometimes we need a shake up to make us determined to work harder.  Everyone gets detention sometime - ask your Mom.  Take your punishment because you did not do your homework and learn from your mistake.  You are so special and unique and we all love you, no matter what - even your teacher.
K:  Aww u so kind & u always make me feel special and better
J:  How long is your detention?
K: Please don't speak about it anymore.  Lets change the subject and get down to business.....Computer games...have you tried any new games?

"Captain my Captain"
Got to love this girl.  Got to get out of here.

Monday, 28 May 2012

lazy sunday afternoon

It was a glorious day in Cape Town yesterday and I did not move out of the house.  Except for an hour raking leaves in the garden, all the windows and doors were opened, washing was done and a fancy new chicken dish invented and served with mustard mash.

I did not feel so bad when I read on Facebook this morning that Shelley was also in tears (and indoors on such a glorious day) when Philip Phillips won American Idols last night.  I have been sending my sons snippets of Philip from the beginning of the season with short messages "Listen to this guy",  "Doesn't he remind you of Dave Matthews?"   "How good is his cover of Billy Joel?" -  I never got one reply back from them (for well brought up and usually well mannered boys they know when to give their mother a miss!!).  I think since the Heinz Winkler hysteria over Idols in 2002, I warped my children forever.  The final when Heinz won we had a full on Idols dress up party.  My mother dressed up in traditional gear like the judge Mara and it became quite a noisy party with 2 different camps.  My mom had recently got her cellphone and had spent quite a bit of time and money on voting for Ayanda (I don't think she made it to the final 2 though).  I had used our company cellphone router and 500 free minutes to phone through 100's of times for Heinz (can you still get into trouble for confessing to something you did a decade ago?)

I was not that popular last night.  Our DSTV is playing up and we can only watch one channel at the moment.  Michael and Matthew were switching between rugby, golf at Wentworth, cricket at Trent Bridge and the IPL final.  MIchael disappeared for an hour to take his mum home, Matthew had a friend to visit and Kim and I grabbed our chance and were on the couch (with a bottle of wine and the remote) watching the Philip Phillips show.  Oh my word he is so good (and cute and humble and normal).  I felt exactly like Shelley did and was all teary and it was as though one of my sons had won.  When he had to stop singing half way through his final song to go and hug his mom, I was toast.  I think this is the first Idol that I will head out and buy his CD.  (I lie, now that I put this in writing I must confess that I did buy Will Young's CD all those years ago - two confession in two paragraphs).  That was another hectic family finale with my mom and Michael yelling for Gareth Gates and Dalene and I screeching for Will Young (we are quite a childish bunch).
All's well ends well in that we did see Luke Donald's final putt, a few highlights of the rugby and the final over of the IPL.  I was sad to hear this morning that I missed my cricket team (England) take 6 wickets in the final session of play on day 3!!   However, watching Pheeel was worth the sacrifice.

After a supper of delicious toasted sandwiches, we watched the movie Limitless - oh my gosh - I so need one of those clear magic tablets.  They turn your eyes bright blue, it gives you ninja powers, helps you write your novel in a day and gets your mind remembering all the facts that you have ever learned.  Not really interested in running for President of the USA but the rooftop apartment in New York and the money you could make on the stock exchange wouldn't be too shabby.  It also starred  Bradley Cooper - a perfect end to a lazy Sunday.

Best I stop now, before I get into trouble.  Oh, Heinz Winkler's number was 08214907 or SMS 07 to 37400 (some things you can remember without drugs!)

Thursday, 24 May 2012

f scott fitzgerald

The Great Gatsby is one of my favourite books but I have never known much about F Scott Fitzgerald.  The other day I came upon some of his private letters on this website,  I was a gonner - after about three hours of reading and extreme voyeurism, I was left feeling rather empty and sad.  He died at the young age of 44 and ill, troubled and unhappy man.

Zelda and Scott
I have two letters to share with you, the first being a letter written to him by Zelda.

From Zelda Sayre, Spring 1919

Please, please don’t be so depressed—We’ll be married soon, and then these lonesome nights will be over forever—and until we are, I am loving, loving every tiny minute of the day and night—Maybe you won’t understand this, but sometimes when I miss you most, it’s hardest to write—and you always know when I make myself—Just the ache of it all—and I can’t tell you. If we were together, you’d feel how strong it is—you’re so sweet when you’re melancholy. I love your sad tenderness—when I’ve hurt you—That’s one of the reasons I could never be sorry for our quarrels—and they bothered you so—Those dear, dear little fusses, when I always tried so hard to make you kiss and forget—

Scott—there’s nothing in all the world I want but you—and your precious love—All the materials things are nothing. I’d just hate to live a sordid, colorless existence-because you’d soon love me less—and less—and I’d do anything—anything—to keep your heart for my own—I don’t want to live—I want to love first, and live incidentally…Don’t—don’t ever think of the things you can’t give me—You’ve trusted me with the dearest heart of all—and it’s so damn much more than anybody else in all the world has ever had—

How can you think deliberately of life without me—If you should die—O Darling—darling Scott—It’d be like going blind…I’d have no purpose in life—just a pretty—decoration. Don’t you think I was made for you? I feel like you had me ordered—and I was delivered to you—to be worn—I want you to wear me, like a watch—charm or a button hole bouquet—to the world. And then, when we’re alone, I want to help—to know that you can’t do anything without me…

All my heart—
I love you

He subsequently married Zelda (who was the daughter of a Supreme Court Justice) but Scott always had feelings of inadequacy.   He made more money out of his 160 short stories for magazines than his novels and lived a fast paced lifestyle beyond his means. He and Zelda only had one daughter Frances (Scottie). Their marriage was turbulent. Scott drank too much.  Zelda tried pursuing her dream of becoming a dancer and instead suffered breakdowns and spent time in and out of psychiatric hospitals.  From a young age their daughter Frances went to boarding school.  With Zelda hospitalised, Scott performed the functions of concerned father, wrote her letters and attempted to parent by correspondence.

Here is a bit more about Scott and Zelda (if you want).

This next letter must be one of the saddest I have ever read:-

To Frances Scott Fitzgerald August 8, 1933 La Paix, Rodgers’ Forge, Towson, Maryland

Dear Pie

I feel very strongly about you doing duty. Would you give me a little more documentation about your reading in French? I am glad you are happy—but I never believe much in happiness. I never believe in misery either. Those are things you see on the stage or the screen or the printed page, they never really happen to you in life.

All I believe in in life is the rewards for virtue (according to your talents) and the punishments for not fulfilling your duties, which are doubly costly. If there is such a volume in the camp library, will you ask Mrs. Tyson to let you look up a sonnet of Shakespeare’s in which the line occurs Lilies that fester smell far worse than weeds.

Have had no thoughts today, life seems composed of getting up a Saturday Evening Post story. I think of you, and always pleasantly; but if you call me “Pappy” again I am going to take the White Cat out and beat his bottom hard, six times for every time you are impertinent. Do you react to that?

I will arrange the camp bill.

Half-wit, I will conclude. Things to worry about:

Worry about courage 
Worry about cleanliness 
Worry about efficiency 
Worry about horsemanship…

Things not to worry about:

Don’t worry about popular opinion 
Don’t worry about dolls 
Don’t worry about the past 
Don’t worry about the future 
Don’t worry about growing up 
Don’t worry about anybody getting ahead of you 
Don’t worry about triumph 
Don’t worry about failure unless it comes through your own fault 
Don’t worry about mosquitoes 
Don’t worry about flies 
Don’t worry about insects in general 
Don’t worry about parents 
Don’t worry about boys 
Don’t worry about disappointments 
Don’t worry about pleasures 
Don’t worry about satisfactions

Things to think about:

What am I really aiming at? 
How good am I really in comparison to my contemporaries in regard to: 
(a) Scholarship 
(b) Do I really understand about people and am I able to get along with them? 
(c) Am I trying to make my body a useful instrument or am I neglecting it?

With dearest love,

P.S. My come-back to your calling me Pappy is christening you by the word Egg, which implies that you belong to a very rudimentary state of life and that I could break you up and crack you open at my will and I think it would be a word that would hang on if I ever told it to your contemporaries. "Egg Fitzgerald." How would you like that to go through life with — "Eggie Fitzgerald" or "Bad Egg Fitzgerald" or any form that might occur to fertile minds? Try it once more and I swear to God I will hang it on you and it will be up to you to shake it off. Why borrow trouble?

Love anyhow.

Concern or cruelty?  Maybe both.  Just so sad and particularly as it came from a man who had a way with words and who wrote words like this:-

"He knew that when he kissed this girl, and forever wed his unutterable visions to her perishable breath, his mind would never romp again like the mind of God. So he waited, listening for a moment longer to the tuning-fork that had been struck upon a star. Then he kissed her. At his lips' touch she blossomed for him like a flower and the incarnation was complete."  F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby, Ch. 6

“He smiled understandingly-much more than understandingly. It was one of those rare smiles with a quality of eternal reassurance in it, that you may come across four or five times in life. It faced—or seemed to face—the whole external world for an instant, and then concentrated on you with an irresistible prejudice in your favor. It understood you just as far as you wanted to be understood, believed in you as you would like to believe in yourself.” —F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby 

Pretty sad.  I now need to find out more about what kind of a life Frances had and what happened to her.  There is a biography.  My tastebuds have been tempted.

And the trailer to the new version of the movie to be released later this year.

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

time for winter pj's?

This got me chuckling today.  For two reasons.  The first reason is that last night I took out some winter pj pants (I have about 4 pairs (which I never wear)) and a long sleeved t-shirt, thinking that as it was a bit chilly and I wanted to watch some television the new ensemble (lovely word) would look better than my usual big sleep t-shirt (of which I have 2 - one pink, one blue).  You have to see them to believe it.  Perhaps I will take a picture for you (I did, see below).   However last night, once I got into bed and tossed and turned a couple of times, unable to get comfortable, I jumped out of bed in anger (and irritation) and started peeling off the new ensemble, much to Michael's amusement (and probably worry).  He knows better than to be amused for any other reason!!  I just cannot sleep in pj pants.  Probably because I am so restless.  The pants do not move at the same speed as I do and I end up with a wedgie and the waistband so tight around my non-existent waist that I have marks around my middle that look like a liquorice twister (but not black).  (Not the best description but you get my drift).

Anyway the other reason I found this sketch amusing was that the glasses that the super cool chick above is wearing are almost the same as my new prescription multi-focal glasses that I collected on the weekend.  I now have one (not three) pair of glasses which I can use for reading, the computer and to watch television and rugby.  The lenses are taking a bit of getting used to and my head and nose bobs up and down a whole lot more than before but it is wonderful to not have to be running around and scratching in my bag for the appropriate set of glasses for the occasion.
My most favourite sleep shirt of all time.  I bought the two of them in the lane between Cavendish and The Link about 7 years ago (for R15 each) and have probably worn them every night since then (4 days blue, 2 days pink - it is not as soft).  Winter and Summer. Autumn and Spring. Winter accessories are to add a pair of stripey rugby socks to sleep in and a fluffy gown when I get up.
The new glasses

I love it when you find the right picture for the right posting at the right time.  Have you taken out your winter jarmies yet?

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

everyone is different, each one special

I love it when I post something and as press "publish" I say to myself  "Hope will love this song",  "Janet will make a comment", "Allie will laugh" and then when I look at my blog or the Facebook comments the next day, I am right.  There is something very satisfying in being right.  Friendships are amazing and, in particular, the ones that you sometimes don't pay enough attention to.  Those friends that you don't see from week to week or even year to year but with whom still have that special bond.  You spend time with them and when you say goodbye and drive off home you think to yourself  "Hell, I love that girl, I wish could see more of her".   It is the one downfall of having so many great people in your life - there never seems to be enough time.

I started this silly game with myself - a file of pictures that I have collected, each one reminding me of certain friends.  I think you will like them too.  There are too many to put up in one posting so I am spreading them out  - no favourites, just as they pop into my head.

for Christine who is having fun in Boston with her grandson.  The picture is from the book
Make way for Ducklings.  A story from the early '40's about a family of ducks who move into the
Boston Public Gardens.
for the menopausal crew with whom I share my sleepless stories and
our latest remedies (even an occasional tablet or two)
2 pretty young sisters that I know ;)
(in their new kitchen, cooking quinoa)
not really - but it could be them
it is good to make up stories
for the J's - Janetta and Jen
and Ginny
and Lynne
for Janet, Chantal, Wendy, Gareth
(and all those lucky friends who read far more than I do)
for Hans and Siobhan
(are the tulips still blooming in Amsterdam?)
I would love a bunch of  white tulips
for Victoria (who loves lions and cats) and Kelly (who loves all animals)
and does not read my blog and confesses to "only looking at the pictures"
for Hope and Judy (and maybe Janet, Gareth and Nic - but probably not Nic)

You know who you are?

“Your handwriting. 
The way you walk. 
Which china pattern you choose. 
It’s all giving you away.
Everything you do shows your hand. 
Everything is a self-portrait. 
Everything is a diary.” 
Chuck Palahniuk

Everyone is different, each one special

Saturday, 19 May 2012

scott and zelda

Professor Ruth Prigozy
Executive Director, F. Scott Fitzgerald Society.


The names, "Scott and Zelda," have become immediately recognizable to people throughout the world, many of whom have never read any of F. Scott Fitzgerald's fiction. They have become a fabled couple, legends of a bygone era, the embodiment of the triumph and tragedy that afflicted the decade with which they are most associated, the 1920s.
That they were charming and extraordinarily beautiful has added a tragic dimension to their story; like the subjects of one of Fitzgerald's novels, they seem the embodiment of "the beautiful and damned." That Fitzgerald achieved a posthumous resurrection as a great American novelist does not make the sadness of their lives any the less poignant. Indeed, if anything, it etches ever more clearly in our minds, the pathos of their last days.
This brief look at their lives may help us to understand this extraordinary couple, their lives, their work, their great love for one another, and their legacy to future generations.
F. Scott Fitzgerald was born at 481 Laurel Avenue, in St. Paul, Minnesota on 24 September 1896. His parents were Edward and Mollie (McQuillan). The Fitzgeralds had lost two children in infancy before their son was born, and Fitzgerald recalled his mother's anxiety concerning his health throughout his childhood. (His mother was notably eccentric in dress and mannerisms, causing young Scott some distress during his childhood.) His father's family was originally from Maryland, but settled in St. Paul after the Civil War. His mother's ancestors were Irish immigrants who settled in the St. Paul area and became wealthy as wholesale grocery merchants.
Fitzgerald was proud of his mother's family connection to the Scotts and the Keys because it made him a distant relation of Francis Scott Key, composer of the American national anthem. Edward Fitzgerald failed as a businessman and returned with his family to St. Paul, from Buffalo, New York, where he had worked for Proctor and Gamble. His own furniture business in St. Paul had failed.
Mollie's family provided support for the family during the author's childhood. Indeed, although his family did not own their own home, they lived in a middle-class row house in the Summit Avenue section of St. Paul - an area inhabited by the wealthiest residents of the city. Thus, as a young boy, Fitzgerald's close friends were drawn from the city's richest residents - they were his dancing school partners, his drama club colleagues, and fellow guests at parties which he attended regularly.
He lived close to all of the wealthy St. Paul families, and could not help but notice the mansion belonging to railroad tycoon, James J. Hill, in walking distance from his own modest home. He wrote that he felt like an outsider throughout his childhood, for although he lived among them and socialized with them, the rich inhabited a different world. That idea would find its way into his fiction--notably The Great Gatsby and Tender Is the Night.
Fitzgerald was small, blond-haired, and handsome, and from the beginning was determined to be popular. Although he played football when he was young, he was never tall enough to be selected for the team when he grew older; he retained his love for the game throughout his life, and his inability to achieve fame on the football field was a lifelong regret.
He was enrolled in the St. Paul Academy where his first story was published, in 1909. He then attended the Newman School in Hackensack, New Jersey, where he became fascinated with Broadway theater, especially the musicals. He entered Princeton University in 1913, and struck up friendships with Edmund Wilson and John Peale Bishop. He participated in literary activities, but his major efforts were in writing lyrics for the Triangle Club shows - musical comedies produced by Princeton undergraduates - which then toured the United States. He published songs, poetry, lyrics and stories in the Princeton Tiger and the Nassau Literary Magazine. Because of his extra-curricular activities, he neglected most of his classes and was in danger of flunking out of Princeton.
In 1914, while on a Christmas holiday, he met a beautiful young debutante, Ginevra King, from Lake Forest, Illinois. They would see each other and correspond until she ended the relationship in 1917. He would always remember Ginevra as his first love.
After dropping out of school in 1915, he returned in 1916, planning to graduate in 1918. But with the advent of World War I, he joined the army as second lieutenant in 1917, and was sent to Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, for training. There he began to work on a novel, The Romantic Egotist. After several transfers, he was sent to Camp Sheridan, near Montgomery, Alabama, where he would meet the popular young belle, Zelda Sayre, who would soon become the most important person in his life.
Scott Fitzgerald and Zelda Sayre, the daughter of an Alabama Supreme Court Associate Justice, met in July 1918 at a dance at the Montgomery Country Club. By September, Fitzgerald declared that he was in love with her, ironically, the same month that his first love, Ginevra King was married.
Zelda was a natural beauty, with red-gold hair, fine features, and a graceful body. But what distinguished her from other young women was her spirit - playful, often rebellious, and even reckless. She was undoubtedly the perfect girl for Scott at that time, eager for success, a member of a prominent (but not wealthy) family, independent, and beautiful.
Zelda was much younger than her three sisters, and her mother treated her with loving permissiveness, allowing this youngest child the freedom she craved from her earliest years. She was defiant, fun-loving, and even reckless (qualities that she would exhibit as a woman). When just a child, she once sat behind the wheel of her father's car and calmly drove off for a short and exciting ride. On another occasion, she telephoned the local police to inform them that a child was in danger-on the roof of a building. Then she climbed to the roof of her home and waited in anticipation of their arrival. Her antics made her well-known in Montgomery, and as she grew up, a date with Zelda promised an evening of excitement, hilarity, and even mystery - for it was impossible to anticipate her next escapade.
There was always psychological instability in her family: her father's nervous breakdown, and suicides by her maternal grandmother and later her brother. Many questions have been raised about Zelda's later mental breakdown in light of her family history.
Although she was truly in love with Scott, she refused to commit herself to him, for his economic prospects were not promising. He had to leave Alabama, and was finally discharged from the army. He moved to New York City and worked briefly in advertising.
When his first novel was rejected by publisher's Scribner's, he decided to return to St. Paul to work on it in the hope of having it accepted and then persuading Zelda to marry him. His dream came true when Scribner's accepted This Side of Paradise for publication. His confidence restored, he also sent out several short stories which were also accepted by popular magazines.
His first Saturday Evening Post story, "Myra Meets His Family," was published in March of 1920 - the start of a long and profitable relationship for Fitzgerald with that magazine. Upon learning of his novel's acceptance, he wired Zelda, and she agreed to marry him; they were wed in the rectory of St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York City on 3 April 1920, and spent their honeymoon at a succession of New York hotels. And thus began their life together - the fabled couple who embodied the fun, the wildness, the brilliance and glamour of the era which Fitzgerald named The Jazz Age.
In these early days, their exploits were recounted to friends, reported in newspapers, and repeated in popular magazines which printed photographs of the handsome pair. They quickly became the symbol of the era, their exploits - jumping into the Plaza Hotel's fountain fully clothed, riding in an open car through the streets of the city, enjoying drunken revels at parties that seemed never to end - becoming the stuff of legends.
Zelda saw herself as the new woman - the flapper, and exploited her own image in the media. Of course, Scott's work was interrupted by the incessant party-going; they soon began to quarrel, for their life together lacked any semblance of order. But they were riding the crest of success and enjoying the fame that his novel had brought. This Side of Paradise, about young Amory Blaine who is searching for meaning in his own life, became a statement for the post-World War I generation whose foundations seemed to crumble in the aftermath of that bloody struggle.
After a summer in Westport, Connecticut, and then a brief return to New York City, they learned that Zelda was pregnant, and they embarked for Europe in 1921 hoping to relax for a few months before the birth of their baby.
They met interesting writers in England, but were soon bored (they particularly disliked Italy), and returned to St. Paul to await the birth of their child.
Frances Scott Fitzgerald (called Scottie) was born on 26 October 1921, and the family soon left for Great Neck, New York, a community located about 25 miles from New York City. Here, they became friendly with writer Ring Lardner, and Scott observed the life that he would incorporate into his novel, The Great Gatsby (Great Neck is the model for West Egg).
The Fitzgeralds' finances were always shaky. Scott was forced to write short stories for the Post and other magazines, and decided that it would be financially advantageous for them to return to Europe in 1924.
They lived for a time on the French Riviera, where Fitzgerald continued work on The Great Gatsby. Perhaps because she was lonely while he was working - perhaps continuing her reckless pattern from her youth - Zelda began a relationship with a young French aviator, Edouard Jozan, whom they had both met at the beach. It was probably no more than an infatuation, unconsummated, but Fitzgerald was angry when he learned about it.
Both of them would incorporate elements of that affair into their written works, Zelda into Save Me the Waltz and Scott into The Great Gatsby and Tender Is the Night where the theme of betrayal is constant. In his Notebooks, he wrote, "That September of 1924, I knew something had happened that could never be repaired."
That same summer, the Fitzgeralds met Gerald and Sara Murphy, who would become lifelong friends and would serve as models for Dick and Nicole Diver in Tender Is the Night. The Murphys were wealthy and at their parties, the Fitzgeralds met Picasso, Cole Porter, Fernand Leger, Philip Barry, John Dos Passos and other luminaries of the arts.
In may of 1925, Fitzgerald met Ernest Hemingway in the Dingo Bar in Paris, and their relationship would be marked by conflict - from closeness and mutual support at the outset, to tension and eventual estrangement by the end of Fitzgerald's life. Fitzgerald offered Hemingway financial and artistic support - recommending that Scribner's publish Hemingway's novel, offering valuable criticism of Hemingway's work (which the latter accepted without acknowledgment), sending his friend checks in the early days of the friendship when Hemingway and his family needed financial help and Fitzgerald's own income from his short stories had increased substantially. But help from any quarter notoriously offended Hemingway, and their friendship suffered when he referred to Fitzgerald pityingly in "The Snows of Kilimanjaro," as "Poor Scott Fitzgerald." Hurt by what he perceived as betrayal, Fitzgerald wrote to his friend, "Please lay off me in print," Ultimately Hemingway changed the name of the character to "Julian." But Hemingway's star began to rise as Fitzgerald's fell, and the two could no longer communicate as they had in the early days in Paris.
Scribner's had brought out three collections of Fitzgerald's short stories by 1926 - each of them achieving respectable sales. They moved from Paris back to the Riviera, settling for a time in Juan-les-Pins. Fitzgerald was working on another novel, Tender Is the Night, but increasing drinking and too many distractions - as well as the need for money through writing short stories - prevented him from making progress on that work.
Both Scott and Zelda had entered a new period in their lives: both drinking heavily, and seemingly to dare each other to ever more reckless and outrageous acts. In the summer of 1925, the Fitzgeralds and the Murphys went for dinner at the Colombe d'Or restaurant in St. Paul de Vence, a hilltop village outside of Nice. The dining terrace was built some two hundred feet above the valley, and there was a sheer drop from its outer walls. They sat with their backs to a parapet and a series of ten stone steps. After finishing their meal at about 10PM, they noticed the famous dancer, Isadora Duncan sitting at an adjacent table. Scott had never met her, so Gerald Murphy took him over to her and introduced him, at which point Scott sunk to his knees at her feet. Always dramatic, Duncan ran her fingers through his hair and called him her "centurion." Zelda, who had been watching the encounter silently, stood upon her chair and leaped across the table into the darkness of the stairwell. When she emerged, Sara Murphy ran to her and wiped the blood from her knees and dress. Gerald Murphy later said, "I was sure she was dead. We were all stunned and motionless. I've never been able to forget it."
They both dived into the Mediterranean from a great height, and drove their car too fast along winding roads. Once, after a fight with Scott, Zelda threw herself under the wheels of their car and dared him to run over her - and he even started to move the car.
Their marriage was subject to continued stress from their drinking, his tension about his work, her feelings of neglect, and their constant worry about a sufficient income.
They returned to the United States, first to Montgomery, and then to Hollywood, where Fitzgerald was invited to work on a screenplay. Here he met a beautiful young actress, Lois Moran, whom he admired (she was the basis for the character, Rosemary Hoyt, in his new novel, Tender is the Night). Jealous of his attentions to Lois, Zelda collected jewelry from guests at a party and threw them into a pot of boiling water - to make soup. She also threw all of the clothes she had brought with her for the trip into the bathtub and set fire to them. When they left California, she threw a platinum wristwatch that Scott had given her years ago out of the window of the train, so angry was she over his admiration for Lois Moran.
At the suggestion of Scott's friend from Princeton, John Biggs, they rented the estate, "Ellerslie," a nineteenth-century Greek revival mansion on the Delaware River near Wilmington, Delaware. They loved the wide lawns stretching down to the river. Because the rooms were enormous, Zelda ordered custom-made, oversized furniture from a Philadelphia manufacturer. The giant couches and chairs made those sitting them appear child-like, but it was a novel solution to the problem.
The mansion was so large (27 bedrooms), Scott and Zelda developed a series of audible signals to let each other know in which part of the house they were in. Fitzgerald started once again to work on his novel. Zelda took ballet lessons in Philadelphia and their relationship was still strained. He invited Lois Moran and her mother for a weekend visit, which passed pleasantly - Zelda concealing whatever anxiety she might have felt.
They again began to throw parties, with the centerpiece often the singing of bawdy duets while one of the guests accompanied them on the piano. But soon, the parties began to take on a strange aura. Zelda had bought a gigantic gilt mirror (Scott called it "a regular Whorehouse mirror") and had a ballet practice-rail installed in front of it. During the parties, Zelda would spend the entire evening practicing her ballet routines to the tune of "The Parade of the Wooden Soldiers" playing on her Victrola. Scott later said that this melody was engraved on every organ he possessed. She would practice almost ten hours a day, seven days a week. Family physician, Dr. Lefty Flynn, was called in to treat her - often bed-ridden--for exhaustion. He observed both the Fitzgeralds wearing themselves out, and friends observed that Zelda had grown quiet, clearly no longer the exuberant flapper of just a few years earlier.
They decided to return to Paris in order for Zelda to study ballet with Madame Egorova, an outstanding teacher. Scott continued to write short stories which provided their major income. Zelda worked intensely at ballet, while Scott continued to drink and twice landed in jail.
They returned to America until the Spring of 1929 when their lease ran out and again they moved to Paris and vacationed once again on the Riviera.
Back in Paris, Zelda's ballet practice assumed an abnormal intensity, so much so that friends thought she might have a breakdown. On April 23, 1930, Zelda experienced her first breakdown in Paris. On her way to ballet lessons in a taxi, she changed into her ballet practice clothes. The taxi became caught in a traffic jam, and worried that she might be late for practice, she jumped out of the taxi and ran through the streets of the city to Madame Egorova's studio in her ballet clothes.
She entered Malmaison clinic outside Paris, and discharged her self in early May, but her condition worsened and she was admitted to clinics in Geneva, Switzerland. Their life together was essentially over, for Zelda would spend the rest of her days in and out of psychiatric hospitals and Scott would work to support her and their child, all the while drawing on his own diminishing physical reserves.
Although they returned to the United States after over four years abroad, their difficulties did not abate. They lived in a home on the Turnbull estate at La Paix, in Maryland, where Zelda took up painting - and continued to practice ballet. Fitzgerald would be admitted to hospitals for alcoholism and other ailments.
Zelda was admitted to Sheppard-Pratt Hospital near Baltimore after her condition worsened and she became catatonic. From 1934, they would never live together again. But their love was enduring. From the hospital she wrote him letters filled with memories of their happier days - and his devotion to her care never wavered. Even though he raged at her using material in her novel, Save Me the Waltz, which he was using in Tender Is the Night, even though she sent it to his editor without telling him, they nevertheless remained linked to one another for the rest of their brief and tragic lives.
By the mid-thirties, Fitzgerald's health was fragile, his alcoholism had taken a toll, and he had, what he called a "crack-up," which he used as the subject of three essays published in Esquire magazine in 1935.
Tender Is the Night, published in 1934, did not sell widely, and another collection of short stories did not provide sufficient income.
When he received an offer to work for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios in Hollywood, with a generous salary, he accepted the offer and moved to California in 1937. Scottie was in private school, and spent time with the family of his agent, Harold Ober. Once in California, she visited him on school vacations.
In Hollywood, he met Sheilah Graham, an attractive gossip columnist who reminded him of Zelda. With Sheilah's help, he started to bring some order into his life, although he did not stop drinking completely until his last year.
He began a new novel about Hollywood - posthumously published as The Last Tycoon, and wrote short stories about a Hollywood hack writer, Pat Hobby, which were published in Esquire, by that time his main outlet for his stories. He no longer could write the kind of stories that the mass magazines wanted, and he would not have been able to survive on the money from his Esquire work.
He had one film credit in Hollywood, Three Comrades, released in 1938 to excellent reviews. He was disappointed in his effort on the film because the producer, Joseph Mankiewicz, had made many changes in his script. But his contract was renewed and he continued to work in Hollywood.
He was hired by Walter Wanger to write a screenplay with a young writer, Budd Schulberg, about the Dartmouth College winter carnival, but was fired from the project for a disastrous alcoholic episode when he and Schulberg were visiting the New Hampshire college.
He refused to move Zelda to a state institution or to make Scottie attend a private school (she was enrolled at Vassar, a prestigious college for young women in New York State), and somehow, by borrowing, paying back, and earning money from screenwriting, he managed always to meet his responsibilities.
Scott and Zelda would meet once more before his death in 1940, and it would prove to be another mutual disaster. In April 1939, he took her out of the sanitarium (she was allowed to spend time with her family in Montgomery on several occasions), and they traveled to Cuba. He began to drink almost immediately, and was badly beaten up when he tried to break up a cock fight. They returned to the United States, and would never see one another again.
Fitzgerald stopped drinking during the last year of his life, and his secretary, Frances Kroll, reported that his health was visibly failing. He took to writing in bed during the day, and later dressing to go out to dinner with Sheilah.
He suffered a heart attack in November of 1940, and moved into Sheilah's apartment so that he would not have to climb stairs. He felt weak after a movie premiere on December 20, and the next day, while waiting for the doctor, he died in Sheilah's living room. At his death, he had paid off most of his debts, the remainder covered by the insurance policy.
Zelda was heartbroken at the loss of the man whom she considered her best friend. In the next few years, she lived in her mother's home in Montgomery, returning periodically to Highland Hospital in North Carolina.
She had become very religious in her last years, but she still wrote (Caesar's Things, an unpublished novel) and continued to paint.
In 1947, she felt unable to live outside the hospital and returned to Highland from Montgomery.
Just after midnight on a night in March, she was locked in a room on the top floor, awaiting electroshock treatment the next day, when a fire broke out. She was one of the nine women who died as the fire swept through the building.
Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald left a legacy that continues to enthral us today: their spirit, their love, and their creative energies still fascinate us.
Fitzgerald is recognized as a genius, the author of perhaps the greatest - and certainly the best known and loved - American novel of the twentieth century. Zelda is a tragic figure: a woman who throughout her life tried to become an artist, but was thwarted by uncontrollable personal demons.
Together they created their own world of enchantment, but that world quickly crashed, and they would not live to know how much they would be treasured by future generations.
They left us gifts that continue to enrich our lives.