The last time I saw Carrie Fisher she was lounging poolside reading a book. Of course this was also the first time I saw her in person, and to say it was more than a few years ago would be an understatement.
The Stardust Motor Resort in Yuma Arizona was the lodging location for the cast of what was then the film called Revenge of the Jedi. Actually, cast and crew were booked under the production name of Blue Harvest, but that's a whole other story.
The memory of walking around the "compound" and toward the pool area is still vivid in my mind. My friend Shelley was desperately trying to convince me the little girl sitting poolside reading a book was, in fact, Princess Leia. It wasn't until we brazenly walked up to her that I conceded it was, indeed, the daughter of Debbie Reynolds and Eddie Fisher. She was so petite. Very beautiful, granted, but so tiny.
Saying she was cordial and polite would be a disservice to those words. She was very kind to us, and when I asked if we could ask her a question, her response was quick and direct; "Only if it's deeply personal." If I hadn't already fallen in love with her, then I surely would have this day.
I bring up this meeting because, even back then at the peak of her popularity, she seemed ... normal. No hissy fits of having to deal with kids wanting an autograph and asking questions she surely must have heard a million times. No grumbling that this was her off time and asking us to get out of her sunlight while she worked on her tan. Nope, she was gracious, kind, funny and made each of us feel as if she was a friend living down the street. Her wave of "bye, see you later" at the conclusion of our meeting had each of us convinced that maybe we would, indeed see her sometime later.
So after having read Wishful Drinking, her autobiographical account of dealing with being bi-polar, I have to say ... I think she's even more normal than I ever could have imagined. Granted she has had to deal with extraordinary things, like ... well, I'll let you read the book because any attempt by me to describe her experiences wouldn't do them justice. But it's safe to say that she lives an extraordinary life and has dealt with her issues, both internal and external, in the most sane way possible.
Granted abuse of alcohol and drugs may not have been the most effective way of dealing with her issues, but reading her account, it almost seemed the most logical. 'I hurt when I think about that, but when I take this I don't think about that, and then I don't hurt.' Really, it kind of makes sense in a way. Of course she's not a doctor and self medication rarely works. She is testament to that. But her journey is a varied one and she dealt with it the best way she know how. And because of that, we benefit from her hindsight.
As someone who has battled melancholy and depression, and someone who, I often say, tends to think too much. It's refreshing to know that the internal battles I may wage aren't mine alone. It's nice to know that normal is completely relative.
An obviously gifted writer (four bestsellers), Carrie Fisher conveys her life as never before. Her previous works had bits and pieces of her life in them, but here, she lays it all out, and it's both a fast read and a terribly funny one.
Those that know me, know I"m a very slow reader, but this book was completed in two sittings the same day. I just didn't want to stop.
While she talks about a great deal there is, I would imagine, a great deal more to her life. In fact she says "If you think all of this is over-the-top, you can't even imagine what I'm leaving out!" Well she's right, I can't imagine. But I would love to read about it. I really hope she decides to let us in on other aspects of her life down the road.
If you plan to buy only one book this year, buy this book. It really is funny, heartfelt and, ultimately, liberating. It's nice to know that stardom, death, accidental overdose, gay lovers and being held in a mental facility is all not only survivable, but can be funny depending upon how you decide to look at it.
For those who spend more time in the dark places of their minds than they probably should, this book is a great shot of sunlight that tells us all to acknowledge who we are, how we think and that we're normal, even if the rest of the world thinks we're not. Because, after all, who said the rest of the world was normal?