Wednesday Midday, February 20

1) The term “self care” - so recently coined, so popular - seems to come with a soft filter so that it encompasses only vaguely glamorous things like massage, scented candles, spa treatments, lounging in bed, and flowers. Tear away the gauzy curtains and you get everyday “self care:” hanging up coats so they don’t clutter the parlor and washing the frying pan so you can cook out of it the next day.

2) This interesting column asking the question “Can I turn down family requests for money?” reminded me of the stories of the Marchesa Casati and Mary Astor. Because of course it would, right?

2a) The “mad Marchesa,” having plowed her way through an enormous fortune by indulging in costume parties and portraits of herself, found herself destitute in London. The artist Augustus John and some other friends sought to help her and established a bank account for her. But they learned quickly never to have more than five pounds in it at any given time, as the Marchesa would withdraw the lot and splurge on something entirely inappropriate.

2a.1) Her granddaughter was told by her mother “NEVER let your grandmother into your house, because once she’s in it becomes HER house.”

2b) Mary Astor’s father was notorious for appropriating her income as a child performer, and even beyond. She finally “closed the bank,” and later found out on the set of whatever movie she was making that her parents were suing her for abandonment because she wouldn’t continue covering the bills on their estate. Her response: “I’ll give them $100 a week for food.” (This in the 1930s, when that was a lot more than most folks had in a year.) The parents were laughed out of court.

3) Today could be described as unfocused. That’s not good.