Romantic Life Lessons

A Cat At Last

We are no longer cat-less. My blog silence on this topic was to protect Yossi’s privacy. No, he doesn’t care. The truth is that it’s hard to upload pictures stuck on my phone. I have to send it to my regular computer and then go through all the hoops to bring it onto the blog. A young whippersnapper would simply write this post on her phone. But I’d have to find my password, which means rifling through papers somewhere. I am turning 50 this year (my new excuse). My slow pace up and down the subway steps? Laziness over technology issues? 50.

Back to Yossi’s origin story with The Blooms. I went to the ASPCA on Friday, December 22, 2017, in search of a kitten. My brother and his husband Carlos–cat lovers–came with me on my mission. The volunteers were super-friendly, conducting an interview on the spot. They did not try to persuade me to adopt an older cat or to take two kittens (I had my reasons to refuse ready). I love them.

There were several adorable kittens I could have taken home until Carlos pointed out this unassuming grey jewel in the bottom row. He was “found” at 5 weeks and originally named “Midori.” I took the little guy out and we bonded instantly. Where do I sign?

My husband didn’t think his getting a robot litter box meant we would actually get a cat, so when I called him at work to let him know I’d found our Yossi, he seemed surprised, wondering how I was bringing “it” home.

Back at the manse, I opened the carrier to cat-human felicity. It didn’t take long for him to start licking Sam’s beard, for them to have Fetch Mouse morning exercises, and chase each other around the apartment.

Three months later, if he’s not within arm’s reach, we go in search of him. I have sacrificed my ergonomic desk chair for his sleeping comfort. He waits at the door for us, tries to climb up our legs. Yossi is friendly to strangers and will sleep on your lap for hours.

I wonder what would add to his happiness. Another mouse toy? More string? Maybe promising never to dress him in little outfits.

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Romantic Life Lessons

Tough Year, Still a Crazy Lucky Wife

At the beginning of 2017, I reasoned that we should adopt a cat because it would help offset the raging depression sure to come after the inauguration. You said no. I asked if I needed to be gravely ill before we finally got a cat. Don’t be silly, you said. It was a shameful thing for me to suggest (a few times) and you didn’t fall for it.

Accepting this pet-less fate, I went along with my year, so focused on current events that I couldn’t have spared love for anyone else. You are sort of right about everything (except MSNBC is amazing, no matter what you say). Would an adorable, twitchy feline make the horror go away? Or in that never-ending trigger-fog, would I remain absent, as I’ve been most of this year? It’s one thing to be alert, and another to be obsessed with that darkness. I don’t expect to be perfect, but I am aiming for better.

Despite an ever-present Apocalypse and that distant cat dream, I have much to be thankful for. You are healthy, no matter how many “procedures” you threaten to have. And now my mother has an iPhone, which means I can text her frantic emoji-filled texts. My knitting bag is full, a hobby that prevents that disastrous trip to the deli for candy. My job of twenty years keeps me busy in a way that is comforting and absorbing. Friends and family, lovely. I am writing. Most of all, I’m grateful for you.

Exactly eight years ago, when I thought my life was plodding along quite well, I took a fun detour, meeting you for our first date after a twenty-six-year gap. From there, everything changed and I found myself on an even wider path with off-shoots, wildlife, and adventures that make me glad to be alive. Thank you, Sam, for bringing such joy to my life, even though it’s very irritating that you know me so well. As I write this you are watching football, using my stability ball as an ottoman and eating my fries–a sight that is very dear to me. And thank you for the $500 litter box you showed up with a few days ago.

I love you madly!

Romantic Life Lessons, Shameless Promotion

Weekend at Williams College

I’m a firm believer that leaving the house is a good thing. Two weeks ago, at Williams College, I sp18033806_1841392116120242_235358556887425489_noke about my employer’s global marketing program at a conference about romance. Following this, I signed my book at Water Street Books, a lovely bookstore that is too friendly to be your typical college bookstore. Where were the shotglasses and school banners? Maybe they were there, but I was too focused on the wall to wall books.

Given my new fearless status when it comes to travel, this whole trip was a labor of love: hopping on a train and getting into a car with like-minded romance-aholics. I had the pleasure of talking with stars of the genre: Eloisa James, Sarah Wendell of Smart Bitches, Sonali Dev who writes Bollywood in a romance novel, Katy Regnery, Radclyffe of Bold Strokes Books, Alison Case who is a professor at Williams (and fellow Oberlin alumna!) to name a few. We had a blast, and not because of the constant Dunkin’ Donuts outside the lecture hall.

And now I’m packing for the RT conference in Atlanta. This is my first time going. Except, of course, I have three emergency edits to do. Is it me or are work and Crazy Life Events falling from the sky all at once? Well, this just means it’s time for chocolate and dessert.

 

Romantic Life Lessons, Writing Tips

Will Schwalbe Delivers Book and Life Inspiration at B&N Reading

I love going to readings. Last Thursday, I attended Will Schwalbe’s reading/signing for Books for Living, which will be a keeper on my shelf. What made this such a happy event was not only the author’s joyous energy, but also the communal love of books. There are few things more sublime than being surrounded by carefully put-together book nerds. The array of fashionable eyewear alone was impressive.

The author opened his talk with his nightmare: being at an airport on his way to Perth (far away) and not having a book to read. I might have suggested an Ambien to help with the panic, but I totally get it. Books are an intimate connection to multiple factions: words, the author, the author’s world, and yourself. It is an eternal relationship that goes from one mind to the next and becomes a collective affection.

He addressed several of his life-altering books, including The Odyssey and the subject of mediocrity. I mean, Odysseus wasn’t so great about getting home. You get it.

The Importance of Living by Lin Yutang became increasingly magical as Schwalbe relayed how this book affected his life, where he was when he read it and the lessons he learned.

There was a lovely bit of shade thrown at the tech obsessed. He mentions 1984 and how Orwell hadn’t foreseen that one big screen could become a million little screens and that we’d all be carrying them. We are the ones depriving ourselves of the pleasure of living.

After his fabulous talk, we got our books signed. Rocco DiSpirito was there, and he got to cut in line because he’s cute and famous. The big moral of this story is that I deviated from my routine and it fed the soul.

Many many raves and congratulations to Will Schwalbe and his new book which I can’t wait to read after I’m done with The Exorcist–don’t ask. For those who feel depressed by the state of the world, writers and readings are a way out of the rabbit hole. I left very inspired and recommitted to put new energy into loving books.

Romantic Life Lessons

If such and such hadn’t happened, then…

Today is a special day and, while the root of all things is Adam and Eve or single-celled sea substance that morphs into humans, let me skip a few billion years to thanking my two sets of grandparents: William & Harriet and William & Ella for their stunning contribution to my miracle.

Bill and Hattie had a sweet little girl. She grew up to be famous goddess historian and begat little Patrick and Patience.
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On the other side, Bill and Ella had a boy who also wound up liking history, soccer, and helped begat Patrick and Patience.
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Many years later, B&E sent their son to the posh school down the street. He did pretty well and later went to college. He met my mother in this general time frame. Marriage and babies happened, after which they settled in Ohio, then Upstate New York, then Paris and then, well, chaos. My parents joined the flood of divorcing couples in the 70s and our households shifted.

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Let’s acknowledge that splitting up sucks for everyone. But out of hardship, miracles can happen.
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In the chaos, Patrick went to my father’s posh school. He was super-smart, had even skipped a grade, and how cool is it to live like an adult, and eat as much candy as you want? I demanded the opportunity to attend the same posh school.

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Finally! Here I am in high school! It’s awesome but, you know, adolescence is tough.

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But I meet this guy. He makes an impression for a brief time.

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Twenty-six years pass. I get a message from an old acquaintance. Thank you, Facebook, for getting me and Sam in touch again on August 10, 2009.We are separated by 5,000 miles but fall in love anyway. He books a ticket for our first date on December 17, 2009 and he’s still here.

Happy First Date-iversary to mJust marriedy love, Sam. And thank you to my grandparents, my parents, my posh school, and Facebook for nudging us onto the path. Eternal gratitude right here.

 

Romantic Life Lessons, Shameless Promotion

It’s Happening: My 30th High School Reunion

mulletIn three weeks, groan, I’m attending my high school reunion. Let me muster the energy to drag my fabulous self to what can only be an unnecessary trip down memory lane. I am so over that.

Lie, lie, lie! I’m not even close to being over it! This eagerness must be palpable because somehow, I wound up on the planning committee and–wait for it–amassing enough 80s music to last 3 hours. I love the build-up, the preparations–emotional and wardrobial (that’s a word)–and the blinding nostalgia. How could you not want to re-live your painful adolescence?

In the spirit of reunions, let me revisit my reunions. Each one has a flavor.

My 5th Reunion: Um, I don’t attend this one because life is too traumatizing. See chapter 4 of my book, Romance Is My Day Job. I call this flavor “gum stain on the subway platform” because it is just that icky.

The 10th: It takes me months to pick out this purple gauzy dress and chunky patent leather heels. The hair is everywhere. Classmates are marrying and having babies, like my best friend Nici. Isn’t 27 too young for this? I breathe into paper bags over the idea that I could embark on such adult rites of passage. My recollections of this reunion are vague because I am hyper-focused on an impending first date with some dude in NYC, the dude responsible for my being in NYC. An important domino in my life. Would I be in New York if it weren’t for this date? Probably not. Flavor: Tiramisu because it is the first time I try the dessert in New York.

The 15th: Ugh, 32. That’s almost as old as Jesus before he died and I have done nothing too important. IMe, Nici, Kirsten do learn that my classmates are wildly interesting, but I eat too many strawberries (not sure what this means and yet it is my lame excuse for fleeing Connecticut before the real festivities). Jesus would not have done this. Reunion flavor: Strawberry Agita.

My 20th: I’m 37! Though I could be the only single one left, I am…okay. Am I? Oh God. Why did I cut my hair short? Why!?? Despite those pesky feelings of low self-worth,  sleek black pants and a raincoat hide a whole lot of sh&*t. I’m grateful, at least, that I have done nothing terrible ever. Job, roof over my head, loved ones, no longer living off credit cards: not too shabby. Flavor: One scoop of vanilla because I’m blessed.

My 25th: I’m MARRIED. Look at my husband! You all know him! He’s cool! I’m not a dork anymore! Married, married, married. Oh wait, I missed all the crazy after-hours shenanigans because I’m married married married. Okay, I’m still a dork*. Flavor: Two scoops of matching flavors, whatever he wants.

My 30th: Married, married, married. This means I have another set of eyes and sharp senses to take in the entire event: my classmates, my teachers, the beautiful school itself, etc. I will enjoy this reunion and stay up all night**. Class of 1986, I’m ready. Beware of the girl who watches and records everything. She might write about it someday. Just kidding, sort of. But seriously, flavor: Whatever keeps us dancing.

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*but married

**to catch any shenanigans. The fact that I use the word “shenanigans” only proves my dorkiness.