Archive for the 'life' Category

the most gorgeous man in the world

When I was twelve, I was in this program that paired kids with elderly people who wanted company. Every week, I visited a woman I’ll call Mary in her overstuffed one-bedroom in a dimly lit facility circled by a sad narrow sidewalk. The whole place smelled like loneliness and mildew and I was depressed by it.

But Mary was upbeat and earnest and she always made me a grilled cheese on her George Foreman grill. We talked a lot about the virtues of that clever grill. The grilled cheese was always on potato bread with American cheese from her similarly yellowing refrigerator. I loved it.

Mary and I had some other things in common, besides appreciation of a good grilled cheese: we both loved Agatha Christie and romantic stories. Hers was the most romantic of all, she told me. Her third husband was the love of her life. He had been in the Navy and he had a sailboat- a real sailboat! And he was gorgeous. The most gorgeous man in the world. Like a movie star except better. Tan and tall and charming and with such a smile! It would make you faint.

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“Don’t you dare fall in love with me,” he’d warned her, when they first met, dancing. “I’m on borrowed time.”

They were in their fifties. He told her his doctor had only given him a handful of years to live, a decade if he was very lucky. The problem was his heart.

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Kate on January 22nd 2014 in beauty, friendship, life, relationships

the Jews in Williamsburg

Rode the backway through Williamsburg to meet R for lunch, and it was bleak and raining and there were no non-Jews for about 15 blocks. No trees, either, except for a few helpless scraggles. It felt like entering a different time, an older world.

The boys, preparing for Shabbat, were all carrying the same tallis bag. They can’t carry umbrellas, though, on the Sabbath, so their hats were wrapped in plastic bags. The girls went with their heads bare. A pregnant woman in the long, traditional black stood at the door of yet another rusty, tired apartment building, staring out into the grim street scene. It must be so safe, though, because I saw a girl who must’ve been only nine or something, pushing a baby in a carriage, alone. Probably not going far. No one seems to be going far—it is a universe in ten blocks, a cosmos in fifteen.

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A building had a plaque by a door that read “ladies’ entrance.” Some signs were in Hebrew. It struck me that I am living right next door to this community. I am within walking distance, though I never walk that way. I am Jewish. I am a married mother, too. My life looks nothing like this.

I sat in the car and stared and wondered what it is like to be a girl here, so close to my home. What is it like to be a woman? To be anyone?

“There are a lot of cities in this city,” Bear said, later, when I mentioned this. He said that NYC is a compilation of all of these little, insular communities. Ours is one, too. It’s strange to think about.

The parents in my neighborhood are always talking about preschools—which are prestigious, which are better, have I signed Eden up yet, for the wait list for the more exclusive wait list for this one down the street? It’s important because of the matriculation rate to Harvard. It’s important to have put her on the path to Harvard, now, at six months. It sounds like a joke, but it actually isn’t. I think I am supposed to have planned for her whole life, already. Or at least through twenty-two or so.

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the smartest guy at college

I started out as a music major, and once I cried in a practice room, sitting next to a chipped old grand piano, because everything felt wrong.

I was dating a French horn player and all of his friends were brass players too (they were really very nice but I never fit in) and all of my classes were about music, except that somehow they were boring and difficult at the same time. The other sopranos were better than me and also harder, somehow, and the one who made herself throw up in the dorm bathroom was the most popular.

I signed up for one academic class. Religion and Psychology. Professor Jones, a commanding man with exactly the right amount of facial hair to be distinguished-looking, and a low, thoughtful voice made for oratory. I sat towards the back, but soon I was raising my hand a lot, because I wanted to talk about everything. And the other students in the class wanted to talk, too. There was a really smart girl who sat in the front, a little to my left, and took notes in the neatest handwriting. There was a lumbering guy with a baseball cap who sometimes debated with her. And then there was the smartest guy at college.

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That’s what I called him in my head. He had a lilting accent I couldn’t identify because I wasn’t worldly enough. It made me want to be more worldly. He had very black, thick hair that did a sort of sweep because it was long enough to and because it had natural style. He had glasses that looked almost decorative, because I thought glasses were really cool. He had read everything. He could quote everything. He didn’t even sound like a jerk about it. Well, maybe he sounded like a tiny bit of a jerk, but I didn’t mind. I thought he sounded fascinated and, by immediate extension, fascinating.

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Kate on December 31st 2013 in fear, life, new york, relationships, uplifting

stuff people do on TV but not in life (part 2)

First, if you haven’t bought my book yet, you can get it through here. It’s also available through Amazon UK (which apparently works in Australia) and Australia’s iBooks. You might think you don’t really feel like reading a book about pregnancy. You might be right. But even if you’re right, it’s only like $4 and buying it is basically like saying, “I think you deserve to make at least a couple bucks for doing all this writing all the time.” (And by “all this writing all the time” I’m definitely not referring to this post.) I would really appreciate it. So much. Please?

There. Jewish mom guilt trip. Now that I’m a Jewish mom.

Now, because I had so much fun coming up with my first list of stuff people do on TV/movies but not in real life, I wanted to do another. I’ve been keeping this list on my phone as I sit around endlessly nursing and watching (mostly bad) TV.  It will be immediately clear from this list that I tend to watch violent shows about spies.

On TV but not in (my, possibly most other people’s) life*:

Anyone trying to destroy the world starts with LA

Which is maybe because the most important CIA, NSA, and some other black-ops super secret government agencies have their most important operations centers there

Every day, everyone is eating pancakes or waffles for breakfast. Golden, fluffy, perfectly circular pancakes in a towering stack. Golden, fluffy, giant waffles with fresh berries (prewashed?), and even whipped cream. The kitchen is clean, anyway. There is no leftover batter speckling the side of a Tupperware container with a mismatched lid. And the whisk and the spatula are already washed and put away by the time the children come down for breakfast

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(“children! Breakfast! Just a boring old stack of perfect buttermilk pancakes!” source)

Tough, hardened, smirking people often say “be my guest, pull that trigger” when someone’s pointing a gun at their head. They are always willing to bet that the person with the gun will definitely not, just this one time, pull the trigger

Kids get constantly shoved into lockers, especially when they are new in school. “Hey, new kid, you suck because you’re new!” BAM!

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Kate on November 13th 2013 in life

birth story (also my book is officially out today)

My little book is officially out today! Please buy it! Please read it! Please like it! Please don’t tell me if you don’t like it, because I will feel like crying and have to walk around pretending I don’t care when I do care and then I’ll get mad at myself for being so damn sensitive and then I’ll be like, to myself, “Well, come on, you know it’s not even that good…”

I’m nervous because my little book feels a lot like a little journal, and it’s sort of discombobulated and not particularly professional or neat. So I feel like I’m admitting to the reader that I’m not particularly professional and my mind is messy and I am not an expert at all. I hope that’s an OK thing to admit.

Information:

Here is the home page for the book with links to where you can buy it.

You can buy it on Amazon or iBooks, or Kobo  or Barnes & Noble. Oh, or Amazon UK,  and iBooks Australia too.

This is what the cover looks like:

Growing Eden

Growing Eden is an ebook right now. It might be a print book sometime soon, and I will let you know if that happens. For now, you can read it on your phone or computer or kindle or wherever you can read text on a screen. You can download a free kindle app for your phone or computer if you don’t have one.

Here is an excerpt. It’s from the epilogue, which is the birth story (full disclosure: I ended up choosing to have my baby at home. There’s actually a chapter in the book about how I arrived at that decision), but since you guys are special readers, I want to share a bit of the end first, like eating cake in the middle of the day, or right before vegetables.

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My doula said the day before that there was some astrological thing happening and that if I willed something to happen, it would happen. She said it half seriously, with a smile I could hear over the phone. She is really pretty down to earth. I said I was willing to believe, just this once, because I was so tired of being pregnant. Anyway, I was like, “OK. I will myself to go into labor tomorrow.” And then I changed my mind and wished for a billion dollars and a cure for diabetes. But then I changed my mind again and wished to go into labor. It was two weeks before the due date.

But it worked. I mean, I woke up the next morning, and I was in labor.

I was very cool about the whole thing. I met a friend from birth class for coffee. We were both hugely pregnant.

“How are you?” she asked.

“I think I’m in labor,” I said. It was 10:00 a.m. and already ninety-five degrees out.

“Oh my god!” she said. “Are you okay?” Then she said, “Oh my god, I am not ready to go into labor!”

“Maybe you should get ready today,” I said. “Just in case.”

“I probably should,” she said.

I got a peanut butter breakfast bar and an iced coffee. I figured the contractions would go away soon, the way early labor often does, especially for a first timer. I had read so many books.

Walking out of the coffee shop, my friend stopped me and, looking intensely into my eyes, said, “Hey, I know we’re both cynical New York women, but really, you should just be a goddess.”

“I’ll try,” I said.

Then I went home and ordered a pizza.

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Kate on November 5th 2013 in fear, life, motherhood, pregnancy, writing

i wrote a book and it’s coming out (for preorder) today!

So I wrote a little book.

This is the story about it:

One night when I was four months pregnant I was lying in bed and feeling like a failure, as is my tendency. This time, I felt like a failure because I hadn’t yet published a book and I was going to have a baby and it was now too late to publish a book before having a baby. For a lot of my life, I told myself that I had to publish a book before having a baby because I was pretty sure that the rest of life ends when you have a baby. A baby is a lot like a cliff in the mist, I thought. One day you drive your car right over it, and you have to really believe that it’s just a short drop and then there’s an even better road right there to catch you. But, let’s be real, probably not.

I’m not sure why I’ve always thought that publishing a book was the most important, meaningful thing anyone could ever do. I think it has something to do with me being essentially uncreative. And reading a lot of books as a kid. And being self-centered. And sort of introverted. And snobby about literacy. But I’ve always been like this. All paths in my fantasy of my life lead to published books. For example, if I start a fantasy with “Let’s say I just won 100 million dollars,” the next thing is, “I could start my own publishing company and publish a book!” And then the thing after that is, “And I could hire really fancy publicists to advertise it. I could get a billboard!” And then the thing after that is, “And I could combat world hunger!” Shit. I’m a selfish prick.

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i think i finally don’t care as much about the way i look

Absentmindedly, while watching TV, perpetually breastfeeding, I am playing with a roll of fat on my side. It is a new addition. My skin is looser now, around the middle, more pliable, softer. It feels nice to touch. It looks—well, whatever. I’m not thrilled about how it looks. My midwife said, “Yes, it will look tighter, after six months or so. No, it will never look the way it did.” Then she told me I was getting my period again, already. So that was a cheerful exchange.

The new moms I meet are always talking about their bodies. First we talk about our babies, then we talk about our bodies. We are a little uneasy about them, they seem unfamiliar, they have been changed and then changed again and what will they even do next? Who knows! The babies are cute, though.

“I have stretch marks on my boobs,” I was telling a friend. You know, just making conversation.

She said that her husband didn’t know what stretch marks were at first and he thought hers were pretty. And I remembered that the first time I saw them, on a guy, not a woman, I thought they were pretty, too. Silverly and iridescent. They have a magical sheen. It’s funny and random how we learn about ugliness—where to look for it. Where it’s supposedly hiding.

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(I googled “iridescent wings” and the jewelry that popped up is really nice!! source)

Bear said the other day, “You used to get really upset when you saw a bad photo of yourself.”

I remember—I would feel abruptly hopeless. It was like tripping into a deep hole- a hunter’s pit. Oh wait, I would think, I was wrong. I am not good. I was mistaken.

I didn’t even want to think about beauty. I just wanted to like myself. And somewhere along the way, I’d learned that looking a certain way meant you could like yourself more and not looking that way meant you should probably like yourself less. I got this feeling that I wouldn’t even have to think about my appearance if I only looked better. Stupid, stupid, I told myself, every time. Why can’t I just get over it? Why can’t I be smarter? It was so embarrassing to care.

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Kate on October 3rd 2013 in beauty, body, life, motherhood