My new book “Midlife Solo” is now available.

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non, je ne regrette rien, sort of – well, maybe not, but I’m trying

Another gloomy day, not cold, just dark. But we’re alive. Sam got over his flu or whatever it was and has just been offered the job he wants, to start Monday. I got out a library book that will be fun to read. It’s almost wine time. Life is okay.

Something recently gave me some bad moments. You perhaps know about the painting of my father by the American artist Alice Neel, described in my article in the New Quarterly last month that I hope to post here when I can figure out how to change a PDF into some uploadable format. After my mother’s death, my brother and I owned the painting jointly; since relations between us can be prickly, I thought it best to sell the work asap. It was complicated; I had it refurbished and two good copies made, then got permission for it to leave the country, took it to a New York dealer and then to Sotheby’s. He and I were hoping to get a lot for it, I to help my kids with housing. But after two auctions at Sotheby’s, it still had not sold. A private buyer offered $27,000 for it. 

Since I didn’t want to sell it in the first place, I briefly thought of offering to pay half of that to my brother and taking it back home. It’s my father’s face! But  it just seemed too complicated. He and I took the deal and after expenses, cleared something like $12,000 each.

Last year, Alice Neel was given a huge retrospective at the Met in New York. She was compared to Van Gogh and named one of the greatest American painters of the 20th century. A friend recently sent me an article, which says, Neel’s reputation has undergone a — well, a “turnaround” doesn’t even begin to describe it. During her life, she was a marginal artist; and now — as evidenced by that massive retrospective at the Metropolitan Museum — she’s considered a master. Accordingly, the value of her works has skyrocketed. A single Alice Neel painting from 1966 — and not a particularly noteworthy painting — recently sold at auction for $2.5 million. 


Ah well. What the @#$# would I do with a million? U.S.? Besides help my kids, both housed in small crumbling apartments, buy a place to live? Say, a bright duplex, Anna and family on one side, Sam on the other, a huge yard … Oh stop. All that money would be too complicated. I have everything I need, and although my kids do not, they’re healthy and well and fine. 

So – after a few minutes of feeling sick, I put away my burning gut and crippling regret. Nothing to be done now.

But still…

No. Don’t go there. 

On the other hand, Jean-Marc gave my memoir to a friend for Xmas. She wrote, “I just finished reading Beth Kaplan’s truly wonderful, magnificently written book. Thank you so much for your thoughtful gift. Please tell her that I relished every word!”

So that’s better.

I also read two important, depressing articles: one from the Guardian, “Your attention didn’t collapse, it was stolen,” on how our brains, particularly young people’s, are being hijacked by our devices, how we now can’t concentrate for more than a few minutes – that this is a new kind of disaster and we have to fight back. Absolutely. I concur. 

And more pressing, this article, one of the most frightening things I’ve ever read, by Thomas Homer-Dixon, about the rise of fascism in the States: 

If you’re briefly feeling good about your day, read it and weep. What a world for our grandchildren – climate change and fascism. What happened? The day Obama was elected, we thought many of the world’s problems had just been fixed. 


Time to have a glass of wine and read Alison Bechdel and turn off the brain for today. Thank you for listening. 



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About Beth

I began keeping a journal at the age of nine. Nearly fifty years later, I started this online journal, sharing reflections, reviews, updates, and the occasional secret.

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