Tuesday, March 18, 2008


(The back salon at PSAW)

Another excerpt from my novel-in-progress, Ginny Bates. If you are already a familiar reader, begin below. The action in the story resumes immediately after my post yesterday. If you need background, check the links in the sidebar on the right, fifth item down, to get caught up.

NOTE: We're in danger of creating an existential wormhole here, but -- I'm thrilled to say that the REAL Liza Cowan has posted a link to this blog at HER blog, See Saw, under the title Fictionaliza - In Which I Play a Cameo Role in Maggie Jochild's New Novel. Can you tell we're having a blast? Judy, Alix, Holly, Sigourney, Doris, let me know if you, too, want to make art and fiction blur! (Oh, and Isabella, of course).

August 2006

After returning from Michigan, Ginny plunged back into weeding and harvesting her garden. For a few days, the sound of the pressure cooker infiltrated Myra's attempts to sort out all the pieces of writing she'd done on the trip -- Ginny was making late summer marinara, canning pickles and putting up beans. David had a canvas going in her studio and showed no urge to rush back to Denver. Both kids had done well in their absence. Carly was more or less living with them, working with Gillam part-time as a lifeguard, part-time waiting tables. Margie, about to start her senior year, was sleeping until noon and staying out late every night.

Myra opened her e-mail one morning to find a letter from her old friend, Claire. She called out to Ginny in the kitchen. "Hey, Claire is house-sitting on the coast of Maine, some island, and says we should come visit her."

"I've never been to Maine" said Ginny, coming into the study and wiping her hands. She smelled deliciously of garlic and onion as she leaned against Myra's chair.

"I've never been to New England, period" said Myra. "She'll be there through the end of September. I mean, we just got home and the kids are about to start school, but if David is still here, we could sneak off for another week, I bet. I miss the hell out of her."

"You know -- " said Ginny speculatively. "I just got a notice about an art opening next month, a show with Alison Bechdel and Phranc together, at a gallery in Vermont."

"Holy fuck, together? I mean, that's fucking amazing. What gallery had the brains to do that?"

Ginny grinned. "The one that belongs to Liza Cowan. I think it's in Burlington -- here, do a Google search, let's have a look."

They researched the gallery and the show's description, then Myra munched her way through Liza's website while Ginny went to check on her sauce. When Ginny got back, Myra had her atlas out and was checking distances in New England.

"These states are so itty bitty, Ginny, I can hardly wrap my mind around it. But look, here -- it only takes three hours to get from Burlington to Amherst, Massachusetts -- I mean, that's less than it takes to drive from Austin to Dallas, for godsakes."

"What's in Amherst?" said Ginny, confused.

Myra stared at her. "Emily Dickinson. They have her room exactly as it was when she lived there. Her desk."

"Oh, forgive me, I forgot" said Ginny, laughing.

"And then from there to Maine is only another few hours. We could do all three in a couple of days, have three days with Claire, a half day of travel each way, and still be gone less than a week. When is the art opening?"

"September 8 and 9" said Ginny.

"We could get to Burlington by the 8th, spend the night there, drive to Amherst on the 9th and meet Claire there. Spend the night in Amherst and begin traveling with her after that."

Ginny said "I would love to talk art with Liza Cowan directly, we've only exchanged a couple of e-mails here and there."

"Let's check with David and the kids. I'll call Claire right now."

"Shall we ask Allie and Edwina to go with us, Myra?"

"Uh, no. Allie's not wild about Dykes To Watch Out For, for one thing, and for another, won't Edwina be teaching then?"

Ginny stared at Myra. "What's wrong with the strip?"

"She doesn't like people of color characters who don't live in people of color communities, says it's a white folks fantasy of getting to have their ethnic cred without having to really change how they live" said Myra, a little distracted by the map of New England.

Ginny thought for a minute. "But...our circle, it's more white than not, when you include the kids."

"Yeah, I know" said Myra, looking up at her. "Allie and Edwina have other friends besides us. Close friends."

"Who aren't white" said Ginny. "And -- they don't really ask us over for dinner with them, do they?"

"Well, they practically eat with us every other night as it is, Gin. Only it's almost always here because since the kids were born, it's just been easier to stay here. But way back when, before you and I got together, I went with Allie a lot to her friends' places, and I was sometimes the only white woman there. I was always in the minority" said Myra.

"You gave that up because of me?" said Ginny, disturbed. "This is news to me."

"No...Gil died, and I crashed and burned. I gave up a huge chunk of what had been my social life at that point, narrowing it down to Allie, Chris, Sima, a couple of others. Plus therapy and my writing. Then -- well, right when I was ready to get back out there, I realized how I felt about you. And that was all she wrote for a while, you remember how it was. By the time that wore off, Margie was here. You know, when I read essays about how the movement died because of all of us who coupled up and had babies, I feel so guilty. I really did shift gears" said Myra.

"But...That doesn't explain why my contribution to our circle has been so white, does it?" said Ginny slowly.

Myra thought about reminding her of Edwina. Instead, she said gently, "No. Nor does it explain why I've not made sure my children, our children, had their feet in other communities, more than they've had, I mean. Explanations of convenience don't completely account for it."

"The rest is racism, is that what you mean?" said Ginny.

"I think so" said Myra. She didn't add "As is you putting all these pieces together like this for the first time", because she didn't need to, Ginny's upset expression revealed it.

"Does Allie think that?" asked Ginny.

"You'll have to find out from her. But my guess would be yes. Just one more way she crosses over to us more than we cross to her" said Myra.

Ginny nibbled briefly at her own lip. She said "When we're not full-time parents any more, I'd like to change that dynamic."

Myra grinned. "I'm with ya, babe."

Ginny stood upright and said "Dinner will be ready in half an hour, Myra."

"What is it?"

"Pasta with marinara, you moron, whaddya think?"

Once in Burlington and in a rental car, Myra got so nervous about meeting lesbian heroes that she asked Ginny to do the driving.

"Can you read the Mapquest print-out, or are you too starstruck to manage that, too?" teased Ginny. "We're looking for Pine Street."

"I don't understand how you can be so blase about this" said Myra. "I guess it's because you're a nationally-recognized painter, you know the visual artists will think you're cool."

"You're as cool as they are, Myra" said Ginny, taking her hand. "You are my hero, but you are to a lot of other women, too."

"I wish Allie would've come with us" said Myra, not really hearing Ginny's reassurance. "She'd stand with me in the corner and we could be nervous together."

Ginny took her hand back. "Myra, I'm going to be right beside you, you know."

"How does my hair look? Is the cowlick -- oh, hell, Ginny, look at it, it always gets floppy when I go to a different climate."

"Myra, is this the exit I need coming up? Put away the visor mirror and read the damned map."

Myra obeyed, but was immediately distracted by a shiny silver diner they were passing named Al's French Fries. "Hey, let's go there for breakfast tomorrow!" she pointed.

Ginny, for her part, was having a little trouble focusing on the road because of the late afternoon light pouring from the west, and the glimpses of lake she was getting. Once she turned left onto Pine Street, congestion grew -- every single parking space was occupied, and literally thousands of pedestrians spilled over into the street. Myra insisted they could park across the street in the lot of an apparently abandoned factory. After making the block three times, Ginny decided to risk it in the slowly filling lot. They followed the crowds and the signs for Art Hop.

Myra had seen Alison before at book signings, so almost as soon as they walked through the double doors of the gallery, she spotted her across the jammed room and whispered to Ginny "There's Mo. I mean, Alison."

"And Phranc beside her -- we have to get her to sign something for Margie, remember how cute she was in that crewcut when she was little?"

Ginny had her hand in Myra's, pulling her gently behind as they threaded a way through the throngs. Ginny said "Look at the color on this wall, Myra -- we need to repaint your study, and this green is the same family as your study but I think much richer, don't you think?"

Myra focused on the wall, taking deep breaths. "Yeah, actually. Can you match that?"

Ginny snorted. "You forget who you're talking to." She added "This is a large gallery, My. You know, I've thought about starting a gallery sometimes."

Myra looked at her keenly. "Really? That would be interesting."

"Yeah, except it takes creative energy to do it, it's not just commerce. Maybe after the kids are grown."

"You'd be good at commerce, I bet" said Myra. "But I thought after the kids left, we were going to live in small hotels around the world where there's good light and good food, so you can paint and I can write." They were standing chest to chest, grinning at each other.

"Maybe a gallery in Paris" said Ginny. "You could edit a small but extremely prestigious international literary journal."

From the corner of her eye, Myra spotted a gorgeous dyke with bright white hair and intelligent dark eyes approaching Ginny. Myra began saying under her breath "Oh god oh god oh god". Ginny saw the woman too and turned to face her. The woman stuck out her hand and said "And there you are -- Ginny, right? It's me, Liza." Her voice was full of humor.

Ginny beamed, shook her hand and said "I've never seen a gallery so full, how many people are here?"

"I've lost track, hundreds at least" Liza said happily. "It isn't usually like this, but it's Art Hop." She turned to Myra and said "And you must be Myra the poet."

Myra was delighted to be called a poet instead of the person who'd written Skene. She responded "And you must the woman both dimpled and smart."

Ginny caught the reference and noticed also that Myra had gone from basket-case to smitten in the space of a heartbeat. Liza said "I'd love to talk with you both further, but this place is a zoo and I have to keep track of a zillion things. Will you come find me later?"

Ginny took Myra's hand again and they made the rounds for a couple of hours. It was hotter than Seattle had been, which Myra appreciated, and Ginny kept taking mental snapshots of the light. After talking to Alison and Phranc, they wandered outside and found a local sausage stand where even Ginny tried the organic beef offering and declared it excellent. They followed the yellow balloons which indicated other artist's spaces, Ginny acting as spontaneous docent for Myra.

When they returned to PSAW, they talked to Liza again for a while. She got claimed by a customer, and Myra pulled out her notebook and began writing notes. "What's that, ideas for poems?" asked Ginny.

"Nope, stuff I want to buy. Gin, I hope you won't be jealous but there's art here I've got to own" said Myra.

Ginny was pleased. Sipping at a bottle of water, she said "I want a show in this gallery. I'd feel accomplished to be shown here."

"I know what you mean. Oh, Gin, I love our generation, I really do."

"I think you have a little crushie -- don't you, My?"

Myra looked to see if Ginny was bothered, but she was grinning. Her dimples were those Myra loved best. She nodded ruefully and said "She's a force of nature. With a mind I could never get tired of."

"It's starting to thin out a little. Let's go talk to Liza one more time and then find Willard Street and its inn" said Ginny, no concrete change in her tone but Myra felt a small tingle.

After a late breakfast the following forenoon, they returned to the gallery and wound up spending most of the day there instead of trying to find whatever was the local version of thrift stores as they had planned. Liza and Ginny began talking in sentences that wove together and overlapped each other. Myra made her list of purchases, arranging for shipping in a week when they'd be home to pick up the larger items. They went next door and got a take-out lunch for themselves and Liza, returning to eat at the picnic table outside.

The area was still buzzing with people, though not as many as the night before, and this time Myra's notebook was being filled with observations and lines of verse. Periodically Myra jackhammered her way in through the art talk and Liza easily switched to politics and revolution. When Liza's young daughters arrived, Myra fell for them just as hard and kept them laughing in a way her own children had not granted her as freely in years, since they had entered disdainful adolescence.

As the afternoon light began to shift, Myra turned to Ginny and said, with regret, "I need to be at Emily Dickinson's tombstone by dark."

Liza burst into laughter, saying "There's a sentence I've never heard. Or ever expected to hear." Ginny joined her laughter, explaining their plans. She said "We obviously have to come back some time. Let's call each other, okay?"

"And if you're ever going to be in Seattle, stay with us, okay?" said Myra. "I mean, seriously. Or just come out anyhow, come just to see us."

Ginny started goodbye hugs and shepherded Myra back to their car.

"I'll drive" she said a little testily. "I don't want to interfere with your daydreams."

"Oh, Ginny" said Myra. "Cut me some slack. Less than a month ago I was watching Dakin leave her fingerprints all over you, and I was a total sport about it, remember?"

Ginny laughed. "You're right. And it was Liza Cowan, after all."


When they got to Amherst and found their hotel, Claire had booked them rooms side by side. As soon as Myra saw her, she forgot about all crushes. Claire was lanky, with chestnut brown curls and hazel eyes, and a James River accent that Myra thought she could use as topping for ice cream. They strolled back to their rental car and found the cemetery easily enough, within line of sight of the Dickinson homestead. The gate was still open, despite a sign saying the cemetery closed at dusk. But the array of graves was far more extensive than Myra had anticipated, and she had no map of the cemetery.

Ginny, who was driving, said "What do we do?"

"I'll channel her" said Myra. She heard Claire laugh from the back seat. "No, really. Just go where I tell you to go." Myra closed her eyes for a minute, thinking of lines of Emily's poetry. "Wild nights, wild nights, were I with thee, wild nights should be our luxury..." She opened her eyes and, pointing straight ahead, said "Drive that direction."

After a minute, halfway down the main drive, she said "Turn left here. " After a few plots, she said "Turn left again." It was complete dark, and Ginny was crawling along. After several more plots, Myra said suddenly "Stop. She's close."

Claire's voice came from the back seat. "Uh, My? That headstone right there says Dickinson." She was pointing to her left.

Myra scrambled out of the car and didn't wait for the others. She walked quickly to a plot fenced by black iron. Facing the fence, a few inches away, was a row of tall white marble headstones. All of them were for Dickinsons. The third was Emily Elizabeth. A scattering of colored rocks, flowers, and child's toys were lined along the top. Myra put her hand through the fence and laid it flat against the marble. The stone was unbelievably cold, almost icy to the touch. She burst into tears and, sobbing, leaned back against Ginny as Ginny's arms came around her from behind.

"Thank god I live now" Myra gasped. "Thank god I have the choices I do, and you, and my friends. Thank god I live in the same time as Liza Cowan, who blazed a trail for me."

"You blazed trails, too" whispered Ginny.

"I did, didn't I?" cried Myra. "And I publish my writing, and I get to love who I want!" Claire came up beside her and held her hand. After a minute, Claire said "Why would somebody leave a toy airplane on Emily Dickinson's grave, for heaven's sake?"

This sent them all into laughter. Myra wiped her face on her sleeve and said "I want to leave something, too."

"Let's find pebbles" said Ginny, turning around and then realizing she couldn't even see the ground, it was so dark.

"No, wait" said Myra. "My pack, in the car." She opened the car door and grabbed her pack from the back. On the pull-tab of the zipper was a small silver armadillo Gillam had given her years before. It was one of her most prized possessions. She walked back to the grave with it clutched in her hand.

"I can't believe you're giving that up" said Ginny.

"I have worlds of treasure" said Myra. "Love is something if you give it away -- you end up having more."

She balanced the little armadillo on the center of the headstone. It caught a bit of starlight and stood out in the darkness.

"I am so ready for dinner" said Ginny. She put her arm through Claire's and said "This island of yours -- are there whales nearby?" Myra said goodbye to Emily and followed them to the car.

After Myra and Ginny returned from Maine, Ginny persuaded her father to stay through the beginning of Rosh Hashanah. The weekend after he departed, in early October, Myra, Ginny and Gillam drove to Olympia for a two-day visit, leaving Margie at home alone because she had a crewing meet she couldn't miss. Allie and Edwina privately agreed to check in on her regularly.

On the way back from Olympia, Gillam was sprawled in the back seat, buried in a collection of Irena Klepfisz poetry. As Myra drove, Ginny was explaining an art technique to her which involved using a series of sea sponges to apply different colors.

Myra said "Speaking of sponges -- did you ever use those for your periods? Back in the day?"

"Oh, yeah" said Ginny. "I boiled mine first, avoiding the nasty yeast infections some of my friends got. And I tied dental floss around the middle so I could pull it out."

"I used dental floss, too. One time...." she began giggling. "I went to a day-long something anti-nuke with Deena Metzger speaking at the convention center. I was having my period, and around the middle of the day, I could tell I was about to start leaking. I went in the public restroom, which was packed, mostly the earnest middle-class straight white girls who ran that movement. Once I got the sponge out of me, I realized I would have to go to the sink to rinse it out." Ginny started giggling too. "So I pulled my overalls up halfway and walked out of the stall with a gory mass in the palm of my right hand. By the time I had water running in the sink, that room had cleared."

They were roaring. "Oh, my god, how much I'd give to have been there!" said Ginny. "You know, I saved my blood. I squeezed it out into a ceramic bowl in a thin layer, and it would dry up into these gorgeous crimson flakes. Eventually I created a dye out of it, using a fixative, and dyed a gauze shirt with it. Came out this lovely bronze color. I wore that shirt for years."

"You guys are unbelievable" came from the back seat in a faintly revulsed tone of voice.

"Oh, now, you'll thank us when your future sweetie finds out how comfortable you are with women's menstrual knowledge" teased Ginny.

"Do you actually believe this is making me more comfortable with menstruation?" retorted Gillam. "And why are you assuming my sweetie is a she?"

Myra looked sharply at Gillam in the rear-view mirror as she pulled up to a red light. After a pungent silence, Gillam said "I mean, I haven't yet been able to completely enjoy the sensation of having a full tailpipe, if you get my drift, but I'm working on it -- "

Ginny twisted around in her seat to look at Gillam. "What?"

Myra hissed at Ginny "You fucking well better have gotten him a good supply of condoms, it was your turn."

Gillam went on "I have to say, though, I really love the taste of his cum, especially when he's already been inside me once."

The light they were sitting at had turned green, but Myra was frozen, staring ahead blindly. The car behind them honked suddenly, and Myra shoved her hand out the window with a vicious jab of her middle finger into the air.

"Myra!' said Ginny. "What if he's a skinhead? Or a pig?"

The honking became continuous.

"Pull over" commanded Ginny. "There's a spot right there at the curb, pull in there." Myra did such a botched job that Ginny was clutching the dashboard, prepared for impact with a lightpole. When the car was finally in park, they both turned to look at Gillam. His arms were across his belly in silent hysterics. Seeing their faces sent him off into loud shrieks. "Oh, my god, I GOT you! I got you BOTH! I totally fished you in. Wait till Margie hears about this!"

Ginny said, peeved "What if she'd been on the freeway? We could have all been killed." Myra scowled at her.

Gillam kept howling "You can dish it out, but you...can't...take...it!"

Ginny finally started laughing, and after a moment, Myra did too. On the next block, she pulled into a Fatburger.

"What are you doing?" demanded Ginny.

"I need a tonic. I'm getting a Coke" said Myra. She looked in the rearview mirror. "Gillam?"

"I'll have a kingburger, onion rings and a chocolate shake" he said far too knowledgeably. As Myra pulled up to the speaker, Ginny said "Oh, hell. Get me some chili fries."

The next week, Gillam came home from school with a kitten tucked into his buttoned-up shirt. Myra heard its mews as he walked in the door.

"Oh, no. What have you done?" she demanded.

"It was in the traffic median on the boulevard" he said. He pulled it out so she could see. Its fur was filthy, but it looked like it might be black and white. It was skinny and did not appear to be even six weeks old.

"Fleas" said Myra. "You have to bathe it before it sets foot anywhere." She stepped over to the kitchen sink and turned on the water, adjusting the temperature back and forth before putting in the stopper. "Go to our bathroom and get the Dr. Broner's and some towels -- not the good ones." She reached under the sink to get Dinah's flea comb.

She had Gillam make a dilute mixture of the soap with water. "You ought to wear gloves for this" she said.

"It needs to feel my hands" argued Gillam. Myra shrugged.

The kitten yowled, deep piteous cries, as it was lowered slowly in the water, but it didn't scratch or bite Gillam. Gillam started at its head, carefully rubbing in soap away from the eyes and using the comb to corral the sinous strands of fleas running for cover. By the time he was done, the water was almost opaque with dirt and thickly peppered with drowned fleas. Gillam lifted the kitten and looked at its underside briefly, then wrapped it in a towel and began rubbing its fur.

"A tom" he said. After he had most of the fur just damp, he switched to a new towel. As he bundled up the kitten, it went to sleep, utterly spent.

"Uh-oh" said Myra. She had begun scrubbing out the sink with cleanser. She pointed to Dinah, sitting puffed up to twice her size on the dining room table. "The Dragon Lady is here."

She said to Dinah, "Get off the table." When Dinah did not respond, Myra flicked water at her. Dinah hissed ferociously, then scampered for the back of a living room chair, where she still had a clear line of sight on the intruder.

"You'll have to keep him quarantined, anyhow, until we can get to the vet tomorrow. I can't imagine Dinah letting another cat live here -- Narnia's bad enough, in her estimation. But we can keep him until we find a home for him" said Myra.

Gillam's face was stony. He got from the cupboard a can of the pricey wet food that Dinah disdained and emptied it onto a dessert plate. The kitten woke up at the smell of the open can and began frantically trying to climb out of the towel. Gillam set the plate and the kitten on the breakfast bar. The kitten walked right into the food, wolfing down bites desperately. It was moaning as it ate. The slicked down fur showed his skeletal condition. He was literally skin and bones.

"Oh, god" said Myra, choking up. She reached out for Gillam's hand. "He wouldn't have made it another day, would he?"

"I'm naming him Beebo" said Gillam stubbornly. Myra glanced resignedly at him, then said "I'll go call the vet's office."

Ginny also reacted less than gracefully to the news of the kitten. "A tom? He'll spray unless we get him neutered as soon as possible."

Myra saw Gillam pull back almost imperceptibly to this comment. She said "You know, in all the years we've lived here, we've never had a male pet." Ginny looked at her, then at Gillam. Her voice was changed as she replied "About time, then, huh."

Dinah continued to silently stalk the kitten. When Margie got home from visiting Amy, with Narnia in tow, the big shambling still-puppyish dog sniffed at Beebo in Gillam's hands and looked up at them all, grinning in her doggy way. No problemo, her expression said.

Beebo ate another small can of food before bedtime. Gillam held him constantly, and Beebo made no move to get down and explore. That night, Dinah kept vigil outside Gillam's closed bedroom door. Gillam rigged a shoebox lid with litter in it, plus food and water, beside his bed. By the afternoon vet visit, Gillam worried at Myra "He's peed but not pooped yet. Do think his digestive tract is not developed enough for wet food?"

But Dr. Mekonnen said the kitten was simply using every scrap of food that he was taking in so far. She proclaimed him severely malnourished but likely to survive. She said to bring him back next week for his first series of shots, he wasn't stable enough yet to have them.

After a couple more days, Beebo finally had a bowel movement, making Gillam cheer. He also had enough energy to climb down from Gillam's lap and strike out across the study floor. Dinah was crouched next to the wall, a gargoyle expression on her face. Beebo pittered about, checking out the light spilling on the floor, hopping once in a looney way that sent them all into delighted laughter. Finally he noticed Dinah. He stopped in his tracks and blinked at her. A low murderous growl could be heard coming from her, at the bottom register of human hearing. He wound up his kitten behind and then make a headlong run straight at her. She cocked her paw and slammed it across his face so hard that he somersaulted backward. Gillam started to reach for him, but Myra said "Nope. Let 'em work it out."

Beebo picked himself back up, shook his head, and then looked around excitedly for Dinah. Spotting her, he took off in her direction again. After a second of disbelief, she leaped lightly up to the top of a nearby bookshelf, still growling. Beebo sat below the shelf, gazing up at her entreatingly and crying for her to come back down. After a minute of this, she began washing herself, ignoring his very existence.

A few days later, Gillam went off to school forgetting to lock Beebo in his room. Ginny and Myra went out for the day also, to a museum, having a late lunch, getting groceries, and then picking up Gillam and Margie on their way home. When they all came in the front door, Dinah was lying on her side on the couch. Tucked in between her front paws was Beebo, sound asleep. As the humans gaped, Dinah looked slightly embarrassed, then gave Beebo a lick on his already washed forehead.

"Fuck me running" said Gillam. "Who would have ever thought she could be maternal?" When Beebo heard Gillam's voice, he awoke and meowed to be picked up. Gillam said to Dinah "Okay with you?" before he scooped Beebo into his arms. She stood stiffly and left the room.

Ginny said, "Beebo -- you don't know how you've scored." She and Myra went to put away the groceries.

© 2008 Maggie Jochild.


kat said...

so, uh, I might be going to Amherst this summer....If so, should I say hi to Emily for you??


Maggie Jochild said...

See if Gillam's little silver armadillo is still there.

And now Gillam has a little warm cuddler to sleep with. Besides Carly, I mean.

kat said...

gah! Upon further reading, it turns out that the Amherst Early Music Festival, which is, obviously, related to Amherst college, is not being held in the city of Amherst this year. Not even in the state of Massachussetts......it's in Connecticut.....what? I guess they outgrew the campus or something.

Hm...if I go, maybe I'll rent a car for a day anyway....

Liza Cowan said...

I am pleased as punch to have a cameo appearance in your novel. I was thinking that I had become a fictional character, which is so much fun I can hardly stand it. But it occurs to me that really it's more like when, say, Isabella Rossellini appears on Friends. Well, except that she's more famous and more beautiful than I am. And your novel is way more complex and interesting than Friends. But you get the point. Real person, fictional world.

I love it!