"Did I study NLP? I did," Huffington says. "I took Tony Robbins' Walking on Coals workshop, which was based on NLP principles, read lots of books about NLP, took the concepts that I found valuable and kind of integrated them. There's good stuff in it. Would you like some almonds?"
The driver has gotten her lost somewhere near Palm Springs with time running short, but Huffington does not get upset. She views this as an opportunity to remain cool despite the heat, much like some of the other opportunities that have come her way. There was the time in 2003, during an ill-fated campaign for governor of California, that she knocked over a forest of press microphones while trying to horn in on a photo-op with fellow candidate Arnold Schwarzenegger and wife. The time during the same campaign that she spouted off about tax-avoiding "corporate fat cats." shortly before The Los Angeles Times revealed that she'd paid only $771 in taxes the two previous years. The time that she formed a group to oppose gas-guzzling SUVs. only to have it come out that she once drove an SUV. The time that Time magazine wrote about her "past involvement" with John-Roger, "a former schoolteacher who assumed the name John-Roger in the early '70s after the 'Mystical Traveler Consciousness' entered him after a kidney-stone operation. The Cult Awareness Network classifies John-Roger's Movement of Spiritual Inner Awareness as "destructive," its most damning category. The many, many times, ever since she switched political parties, she has been called a feckless hustler. And so on, ad infinitum, such that one might be tempted to conclude that, in addition to a gift for intimacy, she also has a gift for self-sabotage. And yet she remains calm, like these were the most welcome of sparrows.
"Why waste an ounce of your energy?" she says. "This is the only life you have. It's like what [LA. Weekly columnist] Nikke Finke did the day the Huffington Post went online." What Finke did was write a bizarrely scathing review of the Web site titled "Why Arianna's Blog Blows." "It would be a problem if I allowed it to affect me in any way. If you let craziness of that kind affect you, there's something wrong with you. That's what I'm saying in my new book about fearlessness, and that's what I'm telling my own daughters. Those things don't matter. I have zero interest in analyzing them. And I don't think it's my job to have to explain them."
Or, as John-Roger once said, "You can't afford the luxury of a negative thought."
Even so, of course, she still gets them. She checks her BlackBerry compulsively, for instance, even while out shopping with her daughters Christina. 17, and Isabella, 15, and often negatively asks of herself, "How sick is that?" On the other hand, today, she pays no attention to her BlackBerry when Isabella calls asking for help on a school paper about the Rosetta stone. "For a topic sentence, why don't you start with the significance of deciphering it?" she suggests. "What about if you start by saying, 'We cannot overestimate the significance of deciphering the Rosetta stone? Hieroglyphics were a complete mystery until then."'
Afterward, she says. "Ever since I can remember, I've been interested in Socrates' idea that the unexamined life is not worth living." That noted, however, like the Rosetta stone for a good, long 2,202 years, much of Huffington at fifty-six years is still a mystery waiting to be deciphered, largely because as a matter of policy she has always refused to talk in any detail about her intimate life. This has led even her friends to say things like "What's beneath the public persona? More public persona." And yet the revelations that outsiders seem to yearn for most — about her eleven-year-long, must-have-been-really-weird marriage to then-closeted Michael Huffington and her even longer association with John-Roger — are likely to only provide more self-negating details for the endless pro-and-con debates about Huffington currently ongoing. One would think that there has to be more, and better, than that.
Oh, great luck: a few bits of fresh Huffingtonalia have recently been unearthed — so recently, though, that only with further study can they be contextualized. Nonetheless, the raw data seems worth sharing.
Her favorite cuss word is "fuck" ("What else is there?"), although in fact very few people have ever heard her use it.
She is very much into "detoxification" and has had all her old dental fillings replaced, fearing possible mercury poisoning. As to any possible interest in colonics. she is mum.
She is "totally a lingerie person," though the lingerie she wears is the same lingerie she wore during her "Strange Bedfellows" bits on Politically Incorrect. She is, it further develops, a great fan of sleep. "My greatest hobby is sleep," she can sometimes be heard to exclaim. "I am such an incredible believer in sleep. Actually, one problem with our culture is that we are entirely sleep-deprived. Especially you guys, though I'm sure you are wiser than that."
Her position on female orgasms is that she wrote about them on her Web site only in response to a New York Times review of a book on the same subject; as to her own most memorable orgasm, she would happily talk about it if not for the feelings of her daughters. Suggest to her that female orgasms exist only to make the men who cause them feel good about themselves for having done so, however, and she is likely to shift topics, slightly, and say, with a knowing frown, "Not all men are like that. Only some men. Smart men."
She once smoked cigarettes and would again if suddenly they were deemed risk-free. Pot? "No, never."
While late British journalist Bernard Levin wasn't her first lover, he was her first love. He was forty-two and she was twenty-one, a student at Cambridge and the third female president of its debating society, the Cambridge Union. The couple didn't kiss until their second date, after Levin took her to Covent Garden, where she discovered that "the master singer at Covent Garden is a great aphrodisiac." Just an FYI for any future Huffington daters out there.
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