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My absolutely fabulist life

Posted by Delia Cabe  May 18, 2010 04:47 PM

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I致e had a long, storied career. Wait, I知 getting ahead of myself. I値l start at the beginning. That way you can understand who I really am.

My birth seems like a good place to start my story. Like so many others before me, I was born somewheremaybe it was in Sherman Oaks, more like South-Central Los Angeles. My birth certificate is somewhere. Anyway, my folks, who were white and Native American, couldn稚 raise me so I lived in a series of foster homes, among the gangs and drug dealers.

Later, I may have attended Phillips Academy in Andover. A quick study, I got a perfect score on the SATs. I decided to try Bowdoin College in Maine. However, the college and I蓉m, we had a misunderstanding. I transferred to Harvard, where I was truly appreciated: grant money and writing prizes were falling in my lap. The biggest scholarly prize of them, a Fulbright or a Rhodes scholarship, would soon be mine.

Let痴 skip ahead a few calendar pages, lest I bore you with the petty details. In life, I have learned that you have to move on.

I went to New York for a while and hung out at Studio 54. It was the early Eighties and the only place to be seen. Not everyone could get in, of course. But as the child of the Oscar-winning actor Sidney Poitier, I did. So many famous people were willing to help me out and even put me up in their posh apartments.

Soon disco was pass. I landed a job as a Pan Am pilot預 great gig that allowed me to travel the world for free. Eventually, all this travel, all this restlessness left me searching for a place to call home. I obtained a law degree and passed the bar in Louisiana. You think I was happy? Do you know how humid it gets in Louisiana? I spent a fortune on hair product. Luckily, I had lots of checks to cash.

Alas, my career was stalling faster than you can deep-fry a beignet at Caf du Monde in New Orleans. I did some soul searching預nd I indeed found my soul, my voice. I started singing and, in 1990, won a Grammy for Best New Recording Artist. This time, my life was truly soaring. My albums sold millions, including the hit 敵irl You Know It痴 True. Then the glitch happened. I知 no techie. To this day, I don稚 quite get it. All I know is that my singing career collapsed. I'll tell you what I should have done: invest in a karaoke machine company. I'd have made some real money. Just think of all the bars, parties, cruises! Ka-ching.

Oops, I knew I might get a bit lost in all this storytelling. I sometimes find it hard to keep all these facts straight. You know how it is. Did this transpire before or after the reclusive Howard Hughes, the world's richest man, asked me to help him write his autobiography? At that point in my life, losing track of the chronology was easy. See, Hughes wanted me to keep it all hush-hush. I acted as the go-between, ferrying his letters and manuscripts to his publisher, McGraw-Hill, in New York. He made me so nervous and swore me to such secrecy that I can barely remember whether it happened at all. That痴 how powerful this dude was. Eccentric, too.

Years later, perhaps even some decades later預re you keeping up with me?悠 started working at the New York Times. I covered all kinds of stories憂essica Lynch, the Beltway sniper attacks. So much distance to cover! However, because of someone痴 little lapse in judgment (far be it from me to point a finger), I had to make a hasty exit and write some books.

Only then did I find freedom to create, be open and be candid. I wrote A Million Little Pieces, in which, give or take some 400 pages, I admitted to my alcoholism, drug addiction and criminal ways. I was coming clean. "Be strong. Live honorably and with dignity. When you don't think you can, hold on, I wrote. Sentence after sentence, I壇 stare at the glowing computer monitor until the wee hours of the morning, reminding myself not to let the past get in the way of a good story. My book got published. Oprah anointed me and and suddenly my memoir was on best-seller lists. Nearly 2 million copies sold! Oprah loved me! That is, until she had me on her show. Let痴 just say that I wasn稚 jumping up and down all over the comfy couches on her set shouting about how much I loved Katie Holmes. As I said in my book, "Sometimes skulls are thick. Sometimes hearts are vacant. Sometimes words don't work.

After that, I thought, To heck with reality. I wasn稚 going to allow some silly Oprah fallout to dampen my career. I still yearned to write. I sat back down at my computer, rolled up my sleeves and began typing anew. By then, I was a Harvard sophomore. (Time, you see, is relative. A physicist can explain why better than I can.) For my next oeuvre, I was going to write true fiction. I called my novel, How Opal Mehta Got Kissed, Got Wild and Got a Life. Delighted, a publisher gave me a $500,000 advance and a two-book contract. Me, a Harvard sophomore from New Jersey with a book deal! W00t! My career was set, until those twerps at the Harvard Crimson read my book. Hello? Like Shakespeare痴 stuff was original?

Ah, but I digress again. I nearly forgot to mention my stint at The New Republic. A couple of years and dozens of stories under my belt there, and the journalism world was calling me a rising star. Like I told 60 Minutes, 的 loved the electricity of people liking my stories. I loved going to story conference meetings and telling people what my story was going to be, and seeing the room excited. I wanted every story to be a home run. By the late 1990s, I was working the system, baby. I was freelancing for the Rolling Stone, George and Harper痴. [insert incident here] And that痴 how I ended up doing improv in Los Angeles after I finished Georgetown Law and a stint in New York City.

Around then, I also began collecting art and partying with all these socialites like I was some kind of Rockefeller. Come to think of it, I am a Rockefeller.

Will you look at the time? Got so caught up in my bio. Tempus fugit and all. I really must stop here. I値l leave the rest to your imagination. Perhaps, there値l be another installment. I still need to cover my years in Vietnam. I値l let you know whether I get the Fulbright, Rhodes or the $5,000 bail. Meanwhile, you can check out one of my resumes to fill in some gapsthe one I sent when I applied for a literary internship.

This blog is not written or edited by or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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About the author

Delia Cabe's work has appeared in The Boston Globe Magazine, Boston Magazine, Self, Prevention, Scientific American Presents, and other publications. In between posts, you can read Cabe's tweets at!/DeliaCabe, More »

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