04/09/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

Up Where The People Are

Up Where The People Are

You probably don't have much character if all you really want is to be famous so you can have your picture in, "Up Where the People Are." In sequins, at horse races, a program furled in tan kid gloves, on the red carpet, on the third page; who was where, when, with who, so you will have that rise, that glow -- you were there.

I never exactly pray for fame. It's like a red lining in a grey coat. I say I pray to have character, insight, to be a serious writer, to be a person with real values and principles. But I figure if I make that kind of nice prayer, God will say she's being so great, she's really changed, maybe I'll give her a break.

The fame I want is in New York. I want to be mentioned by people when I'm not there. I want Ralph Lauren to ask me if I'd wear his red velvet tea gown to the opening of the Met's new exhibit. I want you to know what I was wearing last night. (It's been so busy, I don't remember, where was I?)

I can't do the interview for Vogue next week, because I'll be in the Hamptons doing a shoot for the story on our new weekend house, but I'll fit it in when I get back, and I'd love to write up my friendship with Doctorow -- we talked about it at supper last week after the run through of John Guare's new play. Redford was upstage and when he called the next day to say he was so glad I was there, he asked if I'd give him a quote, and would I come out and do a short course at Sundance this summer? It will have to be next summer I said because I'm doing a course at Sarah Lawrence this summer, after I get back from the feature cruise on Crystal Symphony.

It's been an exhilarating week; the opening of Johnny Depp's first musical; Spielberg gave him a party after, a complete re-creation of the original Roseland Dance Hall in the middle of Broadway. I finished my set of ten star cooking columns for the Times Magazine. Graydon Carter heard they were good, he asked me if I'd write about food and restaurants for Vanity Fair.

Is it true, Christie's wants to know if I'm master of ceremonies (don't they mean 'mistress of ceremonies') for Sotheby's Hollywood House Collections? No, I honestly hadn't heard that yet, and I'd be delighted to do theirs. My agent called and said someone heard we'd sold the next book to Tom Cruise, was I making deals on the side; "Never," I promised, "it's just something he was saying to get attention, you know how they are." "Who?" she said. "Stars," I said. "Oh, I wouldn't know, really." "That's true," I said. "Nevermind. I always tell them to talk to you." "I'm so grateful," she says, "You looked amazing, by the way, in that story in Women's Wear, they'd like a column." "Oh, I couldn't do any more." "They'll be devastated," she says, "but at least you finished the series for Martha Stewart's radio show, so you can have a break.

Did you know Martha did my wedding, yes this last one, and back before she was Martha; what does this have to do with my day? With that day? Can we think about that later? You see the idea is to stretch it out, fame can come and go like that, one minute you're everywhere, 'Could you come? We'd like to invite you, if you could just drop by, we'd love to introduce you, if you would only.' Then it's gone and you won't remember how it really felt -- you won't really -- only that you liked it better that way. 'I've got a call from LA, can you take it? They want to re-shoot the story, they'll fly you in, first class of course, where you're careful not to disturb anyone, so they won't disturb you;' "it's hard" you say fast over a nibble (you don't want anyone to say 'God, you can't imagine, she eats like a horse.') "Honey, you're much cuter in person, well, sure she's a big deal, but I'd take you anytime!"

As the airline rep rushes you off the plane, do you feel that hum of resentment ? Or maybe you don't notice now. After all, you do your thing for society and you have paid your dues. Do they hate me? I've ordered dark windows on the limo so I won't see the hostility.) I'm using the phone -- only my assistant's got the number. I'll do the show, but I want another fifty grand (that's above the fund for Darfur I said I wanted -- after all, I'm exhausted). Do you know I'm frightened and alone here now? Can you imagine how it feels when I lie here alone knowing I've got a year, maybe two in the sun and it will be over, you will be here. We'll be sitting together having lunch on Madison. Someone will click by on heels, stop and tell me, "I'm crazy about you! You're just great." Then she'll click off.

And you will say, "But who did she think you were?"