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.

Romantic Life Lessons, Uncategorized

Editor Is [not] the New Billionaire

iStock_000016891929XSmallMy first few years in New York, working as an assistant editor, I lived on credit cards. It cost a lot to live in Manhattan and, once again, I’d chosen a career that didn’t promise wealth. Maybe I should have been more financially pragmatic and looked for an apartment in Queens or Brooklyn, but I wasn’t. Those years taught me a lot about cutting corners, which I still do to some extent nineteen years later. If you love to edit books, you can do better than survive. Here’s how:

Food:

Breakfast can easily turn into lunch. If you put off breakfast, tada, it’s lunchtime! That’s one meal you don’t have to pay for.

Lunch: If you want to stay healthy and save money, make your own. Most of us give in to the sandwich bar. Reasoning: you’re too busy as a working woman to prepare food. Sadly, this can’t carry through to dinner unless you want to blow all your money. Another way to save money: take out industry people. It’s professional, enjoyable, and it’s a write-off or your company will reimburse you.* Did I just say that out loud?

Continue reading “Editor Is [not] the New Billionaire”

Romantic Life Lessons, Uncategorized

Six Years of Facebook Friendship

Just marriedAugust 10, 2015 is the six-year anniversary of when Sam Friended me on Facebook, which began our courtship which resulted in marriage. As a single girl for forty-two years, I got very used to my own rules. Now, with a few years of cohabitation/marriage under my belt, I’ve learned a few things:

It’s fun to do nice things for another person. Sam beams at me when I bring home food or do the dishes. I did the same just last week when he got me tickets to see Jane Lynch (my girl crush) at Joe’s Pub. Marriage can be a harmonious exchange of good tidings. Who knew???

Just because you’re together, doesn’t mean you have to spend every second together. When he wants to go out with his friends, I’m like, go for it, dude (as I turn on Housewives the second I hear his footsteps retreating).

Respect territory. The kitchen is his, the couch is mine. The yoga mat used to be mine, now it’s is. He cooks dinner, I bring home snacks and toiletries. I get the covers.

Bitchy behavior = he’s getting sick. And when he gets sick, I navigate between bringing him chicken soup and leaving him alone. He will yell at me no matter what.

In a New York apartment, he will see me in hot rollers. I once read that Gwen Stefani always makes sure she’s in full makeup, even around her husband*. I tried this and lasted one day.

Kindness wins over complaining. When I want to scream at Sam, I think, Is there a point to this? Usually, there isn’t. Sometimes, he deserves it, though.

Like all the books and rom-coms say: Trust is key. I leave my diary and phone out all the time. I don’t care if he reads them (the boredom would be punishing), but trust he won’t.

Ignore couple rituals. We don’t have a “date night” since we already spend a ridiculous amount of time together. Our Valentine’s Days are laughable. Romantic vacations are severely lacking in frequency and we don’t explode into tears over our love. We just are.

You can co-exist if you have different political leanings. Happening right now as the 2016 presidential campaign heats up. We discuss points of view without ridiculing the other’s beliefs. He’s wrong, of course.

Cleanliness is optional. Apart, we are clean-freaks; together, we are total slobs. We only clean in earnest if someone is coming over.

Being with the love of my life doesn’t solve all my problems, but it adds richness and joy to my life every day. I get to witness this other person’s life in an intimate way. What a privilege!

Happy Facebook Friendship, Sam! You’ve taught me so much and I’m excited for the next forty years.

*They’re divorcing but hey, it was a long-ish marriage.

Romantic Life Lessons, Shameless Promotion

To Emote or Not to Emote

I tend to read a lot of artist/writer blogs, the juicier the better. Because I’m not physically in high school anymore–or even in my twenties or thirties–I get a vicarious rush reading about an individual’s personal and professional trials: deadline pressures, the angst of parenting, difficulties (physical and mental), irritating moments that ruin one’s day, pep talks, who hates Jonathan Franzen today, or good old-fashioned frivolity (Housewife chat?). I’m both impressed and a little horrified at how a person can put so much out there for anyone to see. What did we do before blogs and social media? It’s so tempting to read everyone’s thoughts and then I want to emote myself. There is a lot I have to say! Fair warning, some of it is superficial. You caught me in a moment. Yesterday, I was agonizing about events in Rome, circa 31 B.C–don’t get me started. Here goes:

I’ve switched from Cheetos to White Cheddar popcorn as an evil snack. Sam loves it, too, so we get two bags. We feel like giant hogs afterwards.

Ranting on FB (about life, politics, Israel/Iran/Palestine, climate change, Obama) annoys and fascinates me. I have an appreciation for the need to connect, preach, and spread information. I’m doing that right now, see? Hey, I wouldn’t be married without Facebook. Sadly, I don’t recognize some of the people I thought I knew and I now know people who have mostly been strangers (it’s all good-ish).

No one has noticed this but I’ve been weening myself off television and reading more. I read for my day job, but currently feeling that reading day and night means stronger eye muscles…or blindness. Right now, am flying through The Sun Also Rises by The Hemingway He kinda writes like a five-year-old, Andy Cohen’s memoir (awesome), The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins (you must read), The President’s Club by Nancy Gibbs and Michael Duffy (who knew Harry S. and Ike could get along!), and Come Dancing by Leslie Wells (addictive, especially if you love the 80s)…11051892_1555249804734476_5339737004723344042_noh, and a biography on Charles Manson (I don’t know why…).

Because I drove with my husband to Rochester, New York, last weekend for his business, I rewarded myself before the trip with an iPhone and three secret cookies from Fika. With my gadget I was able to take cool selfies. Furthermore, if I get to see Duran Duran in concert, I can finally take a good picture of my boys! I hear the iPhone is also used for calling, but I am not good at using phones. The Candy Crush is too small for me to see.

Starting to feel that editing on paper is inconvenient and yet I don’t want to do the first edit on screen. Will I make the transition? This could be exciting news for trees.

I struggled with depression in the second half of last year. It made me a little too quiet, but I know how things shift from light to dark, dark to light–and even shades of grey (see how I got that in there?). The world is lovely again in all its forms. When I go outside, I don’t feel terror, just an appreciation of sunshine, the taste of coffee, people hanging out in my local Pain Quotidien. Notice how this gets sandwiched between lighter stuff.

I put hot rollers in my hair now, which makes me feel 100 years old, but the outcome can be splendid and slightly Mad Men if I brush vigorously like Betty–or it could be senility setting in. Am now looking around at women and wondering who secretly uses hot rollers. Fess up!

Trying very hard to accept that “awhile” and “fairytale” might be one word. This seems wrong to me.

After 30 years, I’ve stopped running. Now I walk or do the elliptical, which begs the question: Will I join a walking club and wear fussy gym clothes from Athleta? Am I someone now worried about joints and my back? Will I start doing yoga?

At 46, I should be all 1962853_664713946900219_800430870_neasy breezy about how I look, but last night, I had second thoughts about my purple pants from J Crew. Nah, they are awesome.

I recently had 10 minutes where I had no work deadlines. Now I’m swamped again. I’m not complaining at all, just observing the tides of my industry. The busier, the better.

My love/hate for CNN grows strong in both directions. I love my Anderson Cooper (very much), but hate the editorializing of most of the other anchors. Just deliver the news, please, without the moral outrage and incredulity. Sometimes, this compels me to a more conservative station. I like my headlines dry and without emotion!

Yesterday, someone sent me a fan email for Romance Is My Day Job. It put a huge smile on my face.