Ambien, Exercise and A Distinction

You, dear readers, likely know that my mother is many things to me: dear confidante, good-humored muse, occasional critic. You may not know she’s also my drug dealer.

“Just a couple!” I am known to beseech her, a couple of times a month. ”I’m trying to wean myself off!” ”I’m breaking them into teeny tiny pieces!”

Like most of the females in my family (unlike the males, all of whom could sleep standing up on the Cyclone, if pressed), I struggle with cyclic bouts of insomnia; with these, and without health insurance, I must depend on her dispensations. Like any junkie, sometimes I push it.

“I’ll give you a few,” my mother emailed me recently after I sent her a request. “But you need to work on better sleep habits, i.e. earlier bed time, right?” She had clearly taken note of the time stamp on my message: somewhere between one and three am, on a Tuesday.

“I’m balancing four jobs, a book, a blog and trying to find a husband,” I wrote back the next morning. “And sometimes my dog wakes me up vomiting at 4 am. Easier said than done :-)

In classic, melodrama-resistant fashion, she ignored my cheekiness–replying, instead: “Can’t you get them from your therapist?”

Per usual, my mother was wise not to take me seriously. Because, though I sometimes fail to realize it, I’m not–actually–serious.

Well, I was about the book and the blog and the work. And the vomiting. But not, exactly, a husband.

“I just think she’s really ready,” A said. We were walking down Second Avenue following the most perplexingly vicious exercise class in the history of exercise, complaining about leg lifts and men. She was talking about a mutual girlfriend.

“I mean, I think she’s just done dating and wants a family. Like, now.”

“Right,” I agreed. “But aren’t we ready, too?”

“No,” she replied “Absolutely not.”

“Really?”

“No,” she said again, in that breathless tone she uses to indicate nothing has been more obvious since concealer.

“We are still working on our own stuff. We are in no way ready to have families.”

“Oh,” I said. “Right.”

About three blocks and a few reflections later (Would someone who’s “ready” spend two months dating a 24-year old? Or a week with someone who actually speaks the words, “I never know where I’m going to be”? Don’t answer that.), I was convinced.

Turns out, I’m, not, actually, in desperate search of someone with whom to procreate by Tuesday. I’d like a relationship, because I like them: it’s nice to have someone who supports and cuddles you and comes along when you would like to whimsically ice skate or drink whiskey/rye cocktails.

And yeah, maybe someone I might wind up in a relationship with some time soon will be the person who I wind up with for a long time. Lord knows I would not protest were I to never again suffer through an internet first date.

But my priorities are still selfish–I’d like that to change, but not, necessarily, quite yet.

Which means that, jokes aside, I don’t actually feel that urgent, panicked need–the one our mutual friend, we think, feels–to be settled down yesterday.

A few afternoons later I had coffee with a close friend of my mother’s, a woman who I’ve known my whole life and who knows me as well as anyone does. I explained to her how I’m trying to adopt better dating skills-you know, moving slowly, dating more than one person at a time, all the things I know I will never, ever do but like to pretend so people roll their eyes at me less.

“You just need to be focused on something besides finding a husband,” she said. I lit up. “But I am!” I said, brightly. “I’m writing a book! That’s my focus! I’d like a relationship, but I’m not trying to find a family right away.”

“But you said–”I didn’t even let her finish–though I didn’t, actually, know which flip reference to seeking a partner she was referring to. (That is how frequently, thoughtlessly, I make them.)

“I know, I know,” I replied. “I say those things. I’m not serious. I don’t really feel like I need to settle down that soon.”

“Oh,” she said. “I didn’t realize.”

“I know,” I assured her. “Neither did I.”

On (Not) Going It Alone

I don’t know why I was so determined to go it alone.

I mean, for the record, I didn’t really want to drive from New Mexico to New York by myself–at least, not at first. I wanted, of course, to drive with the Guy Who I Met Right Before I Left Who, Just Before I Moved, Flaked.

(Every time I move, by the way, I contemplate this precise fantasy, with, roughly, the same guy: what could be more romantic than a cross-country road trip, fueled by budding romance? A lot of things, it turns out, beginning with lunch or dinner at Red Hot Chinese Takeout II. But no one ever told me this.)

And even when said Guy didn’t come through, I had options: friends who weren’t sure they could get the time off work but might have pulled it off with more aggressive coaxing; a brother who told me he’d buy the one-way plane ticket as soon as I gave him the word.

I didn’t, consciously, decide not to. But weeks passed, and then more, until I’d somehow, passively committed to driving by myself. The notion began to sink in that anything less would signal profound personal failure: a lack of maturity, of independence, of ability to be and do alone.

There are a lot of reasons this feeling doesn’t make sense. Mainly, I take pride in my chronic capacity to depend on other people: whether it’s sewing a button or assembling a chair or navigating a city, I’m much sooner to ask for help than try my own hand. I’m good with people and not-so-good at a lot of basic tasks: the approach strikes me as altogether more efficient.

But driving felt like something I could–and, for some reason, should–do.

Until, suddenly, it didn’t. Until, suddenly, the day before my intended departure, my dog ran away (four hours and countless hysterical phone calls later, she appeared, shame-faced, in the backyard); until it became clear that no one was going to buy my car and I’d have to drive the thing, instead of a rental, all the way; until I asked my mechanic what he thought about my VW’s cross-country prospects and he shrugged at me the way a devoted Knicks fan might if you asked them about the team’s 2013 championship odds.

“I’m starting to panic.”

I was standing in the front room of my Albuquerque house, all the doors splayed open in hopes of Bonita’s return, flinging plastic hangers alternately in boxes for shipping and bags for trash–talking, on the phone, to my mother.

She started enumerating options: I could leave my car in Albuquerque with a friend! (Not practical.) I could fly! (The dog.) Finally: “Maybe I should…I don’t know…what if I met you in St. Louis?”

I threw a pink hanger in a box. “I don’t know what to say, Mom.” I swallowed. I didn’t want to say yes. But I didn’t have it in me to say no. “I’m not going to tell you not to.”

“Well, let’s think about it,” she said, and we hung up.

Ten minutes later I was on the phone with one friend as she assured me Bonita would come back and emailing with my sister in law, who had heroically produced Lost Dog flyers, when I got a voicemail from my father: “I guess I’m meeting you in St. Louis!” he said, eager, into the phone. “Call me about flights!” (This, by the way, is apparently how marriage works.)

All day, a part of my brain had begun to hatch elaborate visions of being alone on the highway, smoke piping from the back of my car, oblivious highway drivers refusing to let me pull over. That part, as I heard my father’s message, heaved a sigh of relief.

Another part clung, stubborn, to the fantasy of going it alone: that part clenched and twisted in disappointment.

And then, it began to fade. It began to fade a few hours and less than 400 miles into my journey, when my car stopped accelerating–mysteriously, it turned out, out of oil. It began to fade further when, thanks to a highway closure and a hotel clerk posing as the real-life Kenneth from 30-Rock, it took me three hours and multiple, misdirected stretches of dark, dirt road to drive the last twenty miles into Oklahoma City. More when I clocked nine hours of driving the next day on four hours of sleep. By the time my phone charger and then phone died a couple hours outside St. Louis, that part of me was entirely gone.

“What is the universe telling me!?” I texted a friend. Short of a clear answer, she offered a sequence of cheesy platitudes in reply: “It’s always darkest before the dawn! Tough times never last, tough people do! Stay the course! You want more?”

I didn’t. But I did wonder: why was I so determined to do it myself? What was I trying to prove?

For a long time I’ve felt as though I need to demonstrate my capacity for solitude. Perhaps it’s to counter the self-crafted persona of someone who is always looking for a relationship; “I may really want a companion, but that doesn’t mean I need one!”, I seem desperate to say.

I seem slow to accept that companionship is rarely a matter of need: sure, it was great having my dad with me when the car did, actually, start to smoke nineteen miles outside of Cincinnati. Just as it was great having a friend to help me pack up my minimal supply of kitchen appliances.

If they hadn’t been there, I probably would have figured it out. But damn am I happy I didn’t have to.

 

On The Value of a Picture

Okay. So you may recall that I mentioned (briefly, hyper-cautiously) that I had a new Thing going on. You may also recall me saying that I wasn’t ready to say much about it. (You know, right before I said things about it.) And, here I am again today: still not ready, still saying more things. Um, so it goes.

But bear with me. You may also recall that I mentioned spending time with this Person (sorry, can’t resist) in New York–a place, you likely remember, I don’t (currently) live.

In fact, neither does he. (Do you like these hints? I think we’ve narrowed it down to the world minus eight million people!) But, still: it remains the case that he and I don’t live within one, or even two thousand miles of one another.

Which is all to say: perhaps I would reveal more about what this Thing was if I, myself, knew. But, geography (and other, you know, Things) such as they are, I have no friggin clue. It’s possible that I will never see him again. It is also possible that, five years from now, we will wind up wedded and window shopping on weekend mornings in some precious East Coast enclave that features a lot of brick. (Discuss.)

An uncertainty that, as you might guess, I find not a little unsettling. But I’m adjusting. As you may, also, recall, I’ve got other things (namely: a dissertation; and: trying to sleep every once in a while) on which to focus my efforts and energies.

And, as A put it the other day, while I watched her scrub her bathtub and recounted the latest developments, at least I’ve got someone to think about.

“Exactly!” I told her, leaning my head against the tile. “Isn’t that kinda the only thing that matters!?”

Here’s the part where I share something else that’s personal, the part where my stomach churns and I momentarily question the whole dating-blog enterprise (really? I’m going to say what happened? And put it on Facebook?) and then continue on because, what the hell else am I gonna do? Attempt an ending for my dissertation? As we say in New Mexico (kind of), that’s what manana is for. Also, I’m abnormal and don’t really care.

So, here goes: over break, (before above mentioned Thing), I finally talked to M: finally, I asked him how he felt. I need only tell you that the conversation was unpleasant, and you can imagine the rest.

I don’t want to undermine the feelings I had for him or the weight of my expectations about our potential future. (Okay, I totally do. But if I did, and you never trusted me again, I wouldn’t blame you.)

But I do want to tell you this: that the day after we spoke, riding the Bolt Bus up from Washington to New York, I contemplated what seemed the most devastating impact of the conversation: who, I wondered, was I going to think about now?

It’s a question with which I anticipated grappling. The night before I talked to M, I stayed over at my friend R’s house in Mt. Pleasant.

“Are you sure you’re ready to do this?” she asked as we lazed around her living room drinking tea. “Like, don’t you need those fantasies of ending up with him sometimes? Like, when you’re jogging and it’s hard?”

“Totally,” I replied–but, as I told her, I was determined to do it anyway.

A moment later, she took back her counsel: “Nevermind,” she said. “The great thing about fantasies is that you control them. Who cares what he says.”

It’s true: I could picture myself married to Brad Pitt if I want to. Pretty sure Angelina (if, you know, she happened to hear) wouldn’t consider me too big a threat.

But, sadly, I don’t. I want to have a different face to stick in those domestic daydreams of dinner-making and basketball-watching: one that the entire world and I don’t collectively encounter every time we go to Walgreens.

Because it isn’t, of course, just about the face: it’s about the comfort of having a concrete possibility. However remote it may be: I know there’s just as good a chance of me ending up with this guy (you know, the “Thing” guy) as there is for me to be with a whole handful of people I’ve never laid eyes on.

But I can’t picture them. I can picture him. And on days when I’m jogging, or lunging, or writing, for that matter, and it’s hard–that’s an option I’m pretty glad to have.

 

 

Yay 2012: The Paradox of Options

The other night I lamented to my friend D, over beers and corn dogs at a Brooklyn bar, the fact that I ever sincerely believed I might wind up marrying one of my exes.

“How could I have talked myself into that?” I exclaimed, dodging bocce balls.

“I wouldn’t worry about it too much,” he replied. “I mean, that’s basically your starting point.”

I laughed, cause it’s funny, cause it’s true. And it was especially funny, and especially true, because of what had happened just the day before: when I had an extended, if joking, conversation about marriage with a man who I had met–through a friend, in my defense–hours earlier.

You can imagine the dialogue: “You’re twenty-eight? I’m twenty-eight! Let’s get married!”, followed by a discussion of variously significant details: how many kids would you like? City or country? Wedding or elope? Etc. What, this doesn’t sound familiar?

Fascinating. Well, it does to me. It’s only happened a couple of times, but both with men I’d met just that day, and neither of whom I ever saw again–much less met at the alter.

But it won’t surprise you to know that, both times, too, there was part of me that could totally imagine getting hitched to the guy. (You know the perfect stranger to whom I’d just been introduced.)

Because: once you’ve established banter and attraction and mutual interest in a shared third party, what else, really, is there?

I mean, besides whether they want kids and where they’d like to live–both issues, by the way, I’m pretty sure remain unresolved in many a long-term couple–what else do you have to know?

In other words: if you really want to, you can make it work with just about anyone. (Really, I think, anyone. But, preferably: anyone you wouldn’t mind having regular sex with and talking to for a few consecutive hours.) I believe that. Being with anyone is gonna be work; it’s just a matter of whether you’re both willing.

And yet, I also believe–or rather, have, rather arduously, not to mention conspicuously, learned–that it can be hard to find a person with whom you share that kind of chemistry, basic as it seems, and have it all work out. (The more I think about it, the more “all” is just code for “timing.” Which means that I’ve been blogging about relationships for two years and have nothing more to show for it than an ancient cliche. Glad we had this talk.)

Moving on. Because what I really want to say is this: and yet. And yet: in spite of how many possibilities there, rationally, ought to be, there often seem so few. And not in a negative, god-I-just-can’t-meeet-anyone-screw-you-perpetually-crappy-timing sort of way; I mean the other side of it: the wow-this-person-is-so-amazing-how-can-I-ever-let-them-go thing. You know that thing?

Pretty sure we can relate on this one: it’s called infatuation, and few things are more fun. I mean, what tops that rush of opening yourself up and getting to know someone new and feeling like your connection is so rare that it’s worth whatever it takes?

So here’s the truth: I’m pretty happy right now, and it’s a lot harder to make sense of feeling good than it is of feeling bad. Also, generally, more boring. But it’s 2012 and I haven’t blogged in a while and I wanted to share that quote from my friend D at the beginning and I’m not really ready to write about anything else that’s going on.

But I did want to say this, cause I think it’s interesting, and maybe you do, too: when it comes to romantic partners, there are endless options out there. And yet: sometimes, there’s nothing better than feeling–in spite of yourself–that there’s only one you want.

 

 

What Not to Get Me for Christmas

Two things I’m pretty sure I’ve made clear before: one, I bake a lot. Two, I have very awesome, very generous parents.

Said two things collided when I went home for Thanksgiving: creating a scenario in which I stood in my parents’ kitchen, helping my mother chop carrots, as they announced that they had an idea for a Christmas present they’d like to get me. (So yeah: we’re Jewish, but we celebrate Christmas. Or rather we used to, before all my brothers got married and my parents were less interested in taking late December vacations. But those are two different essays).

Anyhow. Quite pleased with themselves, they announced their bright idea to buy me a Kitchen Aid.

I know: when someone offers, enthusiastically, to buy you a very expensive gift that is also extremely thoughtful, not to mention utilitarian, you’re supposed to respond with equally enthusiastic gratitude. But normal social conventions don’t apply with parents–at least in my world, no matter (or perhaps because of) how awesome and generous they are.

So instead of reacting with, “Oh my gosh, thank you!” I barely looked up from the wood countertop as I exclaimed, “No! Not yet!

As I proceeded to tell them, I have long associated getting a Kitchen Aid with getting married.

Part of this is practical: the things are damn heavy. I can’t count how many apartments/houses I’ve lived in since college, and I don’t know how many more there are in store. It’s enough to schlep around the piles of sweaters and scarves that I’ve  managed to accumulate, along with the Cuisinart I bought myself years ago and the approximately six hundred books that I don’t even want to discuss. Anyhow: a Kitchen Aid seems like the kind of thing you don’t get until you have a real home: not just a place where you live, for now.

“That is so sweet of you to offer,” I, finally, mustered the decency to tell my parents. “But I don’t think I want to have one yet.” (As I assured them, I actually kind of like mashing butter with a fork. I also get sincere pleasure from mincing garlic and lemon zest. Gotta get it where you can.)

A couple of weeks later I was at a downtown Albuquerque coffee shop with A when, staring off from her laptop, she asked whether I ever thought about buying a house.

I had the exact same response: “No!” I said. “Not yet! Not until I’m married!

We both laughed as I told her about the parallel conversation I’d had with my parents. “I guess those are the two things,” I told her. “A house and a Kitchen Aid.”

Let’s be real: there are lots of reasons why I don’t, at this moment, consider buying a house. Mostly, this: that the money I have saved up could barely send a ten year old to summer camp. For four weeks. Much less purchase a 1-2 bedroom. Also, I don’t even know where I want to live.

But it’s true: the thought of buying real estate while I’m single does seem kinda radical to me. Perhaps I’ll wind up changing my tune, but for now, I’d like to find a partner before I find property.

And on both counts, this attitude seems a bit outdated: It’s the 2000s! I’m an independent, strong-willed woman on her way to a terminal graduate degree! I consider myself progressive! Borderline alternative! I do yoga and (as of this week) drink kombucha, for Christ’s sake! Shouldn’t I be enlightened enough to not think I need a man to make large investments–of real estate, and, particularly, of sturdy kitchen appliances?

My friend C, also a compulsive baker, has a similar mindset about the Kitchen Aid. She’s always expected that the man she’s supposed to marry, you know, the proverbial “right guy,” will buy her one.

I admire C’s hope–and have every confidence she’ll find her man, and her mixer. But for me, it’s different. As we’ve discussed, too many years of manic dating have dissolved just about every fantasy I once held about my future partner: from the color of his hair to what kind of books he’ll read. Certainly, I don’t have any expectations about what he’ll get me for a holiday gift.

In my case, it isn’t about the idea of a man, or even of marriage, so much as the idea of settling down. Which, of course, is also code for “growing up.” A Kitchen Aid—and a house–is stuck in my head as something one has when one has achieved that “adult” status. When one has officially crossed over from kid/adolescent/emerging adult to, you know, a real live grown up person.

A transition that, by now, I recognize as perpetually elusive: I’m pretty sure my kid-raising peers feel much the same unsettled angst that I do. Intellectually, I know that nothing, not even those cliched markers of adulthood—getting married, buying a house, having babies—will necessarily, truly signal that I’ve “grown up.”

But a Kitchen Aid? Perhaps.

 

 

 

Getting Over the “Princess Fantasy.” Slowly.

On Thursday D, as he frequently does, made dinner for me and a few of his college friends.

One of them has gone on a few dates with a girl that he likes, and all week had planned to call her the following night–Friday–in order to see her over the weekend.

The rest of us, myself in particular, took umbrage at this strategy.

“So if you want to hang out with someone during the weekend, when would you call them?” I asked the group.

“Thursday” was the immediate, obvious consensus. This suggestion provoked a response so aggravated, so extreme that even the guy in question couldn’t help but be amused–at which point the conversation turned comic.

“I don’t just think you should call her,” one guy chimed in. “I think you should marry the girl. Might as well propose.”

“You’re compatible, you’re physically attracted,” he continued, his wife making salad a few feet away. “That’s all you need. The rest you’ve got to work for anyhow. There’s no such thing as ‘the one.’”

This is a theory with which, in the abstract, I completely agree. There are lots of people one could find happy partnership with. With any of them, there would be persistent challenges. Different ones, perhaps, but challenges all the same. Sharing a life is never easy.

In other words, intellectually I know he’s right: the myth of “the one” is just that–a myth.

Emotionally, though, I’m not sure I do.

Continue reading

When a Woman “Finally” Gets Married

Like any good, compulsive iPhone owner, I sometimes check my email during my morning run. You know, Cee-lo and Kanye and various NPR podcasts can only hold a girl’s attention for so long. Even while jogging. Even while jogging with a highly excitable mutt who has been known to throw said girl on her back via enthusiasm for a passing terrier. But I digress.

The problem is that the place where I run–a trail around the campus golf course–doesn’t have very good network reception. And so when, one morning this week, I looked at my email and saw a message from my father, I could only see two things: one, that the subject was “news alert.” And two, that he’d sent it to me along with all of my immediate family members–brothers, mom, sisters-in-law.

I have a grandmother who is about to turn a hundred. I have a sister-in-law who recently pulled out her back and a niece who has had a chronic fever for the past three weeks. Also, I’m Jewish. In other words, I spent the  next five minutes, until the full content of the message finally downloaded, in a state of panic.

Then, I saw what it said: “We just heard over the weekend,” my dad wrote,”that Ilene and Allen got engaged.”

Then, I felt a little ridiculous. (Actually, I felt a little angry too: immediately upon returning home I typed a ‘reply-all’ asking that everyone refrain from sending emails with such ominous subject lines in future; two of my siblings quickly seconded the request.)

But back to the message. Ilene, you see, is my paternal cousin. She is about to turn fifty. She is a very successful, very well-paid corporate lawyer with a condo on the Upper East Side. This is her first marriage.

The “news” my father sent wasn’t exactly breaking. My mother had, rather breathlessly, delivered the information via phone the night before.

The thing is that no one in my family is particularly close with Ilene. None of us are that close to the entire side of the family, I should say: they’re lovely people, but they’re a bit, well, different. You know, they have bigger hair and bigger belt buckles and the political persuasion that such things often imply. Even when I lived in the same city, I’m sure I went years without seeing her–or, certainly, any of her Florida-residing relatives.

The news, then, was not so significant because of our relationship. It was so significant because of the particulars. Specifically, the fact that, at almost-fifty, no one expected her to tie the knot.

Most notably, Grandma Edith–the one who is a hundred.

“Did you hear about Ilene?” she asked when I called to check in on her this morning. (You’ll have to imagine my vocal impression here: full-on Brooklyn, Yiddish accent applies. “Here” is more like “heah.”)

“Yes,” I said, patiently. “I heard.”

“Could you believe it?” she asked. “It’s about time. She’s no spring chicken, you know.”

I will chalk up the fact that she repeated that last phrase, or some version of it (“she isn’t exactly young“) about half a dozen times throughout our ten-minute conversation to age: I’m of the opinion that, if nothing else, surviving a century earns you the right to say whatever the hell you want.

But what about my parents? As I alluded above, they’re pretty progressive types. If my father had his way New York City would be its’ own country and all Fox news anchors would be lined up and shot. They’re supposed to be liberated, feminist, enlightened.

So why were they so brazenly glib with the news that this “old maid” was finally getting hitched?

I don’t really want to call my parents sexist–they’re not. (They are, also, wonderfully tolerant and well-humored, relatively private people who put up admirably with an aggressively oversharing daughter–for which I am ever-grateful.) That is, they’re not sexist any more than the rest of us are. And the reaction to Ilene’s announcement reminds me that “the rest of us” still have a ways to go.

Talk about news that isn’t quite breaking, but it still unsettles to realize that, even in our post-”Sex and the City,” women-getting-more-educated-than-men era, the notion that a woman is only worth her marriage persists. To be a single man is a choice; to be a single woman is pathetic.

I’m glad my cousin is getting married. But not because there’s anything significant about a ring or a ceremony. I’m glad because Allen seems like a really good, honest guy who has a good chance of making her happy. Which, no matter how old or successful we are, is all any of us can hope for.

Conversations On a Plane

In workshop earlier this semester, my wise peers gave me some typically wise advice:

“You’re idealizing relationships too much,” they said.

“The author is smarter than the narrator. You know that romantic love won’t solve everything.”

I do know this. Sort of. But it’s easier to play with point of view and structure and tone than to be more reflective. I promptly ignored them in my revision.

During my trip home to New York today, though, I was reminded of what they said.

Specifically, an 83-year old Delta passenger named Phyllis, seated beside me between Minneapolis and JFK, reminded me.

Phyllis was (actually, probably she still is) on her way to Cairo. She has three grown children, but no interest in spending the holiday with them. She sees them other times of the year. It will not be her first visit to Cairo, either: she told me she’s been to sixty countries.

“Really I’m just going to Egypt so I can get to Syria,” she explained.

“Why do you want to go to Syria?”

“I don’t know. I haven’t been yet.”

Phyllis, who lives in Lansing, Michigan–where she raised those three kids, alone (“I had a husband, but I got rid of him”)–spontaneously announced to me, abruptly looking up frrom her Steven Martini thriller, that she loves being single.

Continue reading

Inventory: Counting All the Men Left

The thing about dating, and being single, is that it’s really hard not to spend a lot of time feeling hopeless. You meet someone, you reject them or they reject you, and–no matter how many times it happens–you always manage to feel as though there is absolutely no one else around.

This feeling can be particularly acute in a smaller city, where it sometimes seems as though you’ve seen everyone in town at least once, and the ones you find attractive–you’ve already dated.

Perhaps, in some very small towns, this is actually true. But, as I reminded S last night, it usually is not the case–and for us, it definitely isn’t.

“I think we forgot how big this city actually is,” I said. “Just because we see the same people over and over again we assume that we’ve seen everyone. But I think there are a lot of men here who we haven’t yet come across.”

“It’s true,” she said, attempting morale.

The thing is that I only thought to say this because S said something very similar recently to me. Her words, as they often do,  resonated so much that I wrote about them–not on the blog, but in a nonfiction essay I’m working on.

This essay, which is the closest thing to a blog post I’ve attempted in longer form (much longer: my average post is 700 words, this piece is close to 5,000) got workshopped last night.

For the uninitiated, this means that a group of about ten people sat around a table telling me–sitting by with a virtual piece of duct tape over my mouth–a lot about what’s not working (and a little about what is) in what I’ve written.

As you might imagine, there’s a lot in this essay that’s not working. But that particular moment, the one in which S imparts her wisdom, is one that many people agreed worked well.

Continue reading

What Happens When You Watch Airplane Movies/Notes on Wedding Fantasies

On the flight to London I read a book. (Fun Home by Alison Bechdel. Brilliant graphic memoir. Thanks, D.) And on the flight home, I watched three romantic comedies.

Yes, three: Leap Year (really dumb plot but Amy Adams is appealing and Matthew Goode may be today’s vote for sexiest English-speaking male), Valentine’s Day (unwatchably and incomprehensibly dumb, but Ashton Kutcher is cute at playing himself) and…wait for it…Bride Wars.

S watched the first two with me and reluctantly began watching the third–I tried challenging her to finish it, but the only prize I could muster was my miniature packet of off-brand cheese crackers from the American Airlines snack box and it turned out she hadn’t eaten hers either. She made it through about fifteen minutes before switching to the last half of an Entourage episode.

“I think I might need to write about this,” I leaned over and whispered to her as she changed channels while I kept watching.

“Sure,” she said, too tired–and too old a friend–to mask her skepticism.

I mean, it did occur to me that I might have to comment on the film–especially after the early scene when Candice Bergen’s character (the wedding planner) informs those played by Anne Hathaway and Kate Hudson (best friends getting married on the same day, vying for the same location etc.) that their lives will not actually begin until their wedding day. “You are dead, right now,” she says. Yikes.

But, also, I kinda wanted to watch.

Continue reading