Archive for the 'marriage' Category

religion and burgers

It was the first Rosh Hashanah in twelve years that I wasn’t on the bima, singing.

“Just so you know,” I’d told the midwife, many months earlier, “I’ll be leading high holiday services about a month after the baby is born.”

“I don’t think so,” she said, in her gentle but straightforward way.

The baby might be two weeks late, she explained. So then I’d only have two weeks to recover. But even if the baby was on time, a month would not feel like very much.

“Oh,” I said.

It was the first Rosh Hashanah since I was eight or so that I wasn’t even in synagogue. Getting to New Jersey, where my congregation is, felt impossible.


Instead, I was walking down the block with pink sunglasses on, disheveled, my baggy shirt falling off one shoulder. Bear was pushing the stroller.

“We have to do something special,” I’d been saying for the whole morning.

“Burgers?” he suggested, mostly joking. But maybe a little hopeful. 

“L’shanah tovah, Eden!” I kept saying into her little face. “Happy new year! It’s the new year and you’re seven weeks old and you’re a little Jewish baby!

She didn’t care about any of that.


(“Stop prattling and push my wheeled throne, cow.”)

And then there was a flood of Jews in nice clothes, coming from the local shul, the men still wearing kipot, some of them, and I fought the urge to smile at each one of them as they passed, to signal somehow, I am one of you!

And I was ashamed.

Which is stupid.

But also, I was reminded.

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Kate on September 9th 2013 in life, marriage, new york

don’t marry him

I couldn’t write anything yesterday except for poems about Sandy Hook. I couldn’t stop reading the articles. And today, instead of writing about that, because I don’t feel able, I’m writing about something else entirely. 


I finally read “Marry Him,” by Lori Gottlieb. She’d written that big Atlantic piece a while back, and then the book, which is an argument in favor of settling for a good-enough man (if you’re straight and want to get married, otherwise she’s not writing for you), because you’re probably not going to find a perfect one.


I don’t know what made me want to read the book. No, I’m lying—I’m remembering now. It was a comment under her recent piece in the Times Magazine about therapy branding. Someone said something like “EYEROLL! Like I’m going to believe anything from the woman who single-handedly convinced women that they were nothing without a man and should marry the first lame guy who came along so that they didn’t have to die alone. Thanks A LOT, Lori.” Or something to that effect.

And I was curious, because single-handedly convincing women that they are nothing without a man sounded sort of impressive for one book. And I’m sick. So my brain sucks right now.

So I read it.

And I’m still not exactly sure what I think, which is why I’m writing about it.

Basically, Gottlieb argues that when women are in their twenties, they reject everyone, all the time, because they’ve learned that a better guy will come along and they will eventually settle down with him. But even when great people come along, these women continue to reject them, because there might be someone better out there. And then, all too soon because time is so fickle, the women are almost forty, and the good men are taken, and now the women have to either learn to make compromises, or they can just up and die alone, forty-five or so years later.

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Kate on December 19th 2012 in life, marriage, perfection, relationships

One of those days…where you end up with a lot of cow blood on the floor and your cat might be dead

I guess I’m not often really happy. I am satisfied and glad and stuff, but occasionally I get this burst of happiness, like a whale erupting through the water’s surface, and it’s sort of shocking and I wonder what I did to deserve it and why I can’t feel it all the time and if I’m depressive most of the time and if I should be on anxiety medication and if I’m actually totally fine and I’m just being a crybaby and since I can feel this happiness I can probably feel more of it, more often.

Anyway, I was really happy the other day. I had all this sudden energy, maybe in part because I’ve been walking every day, like a champ. (To the guy who commented arrogantly under one of my old posts that I have the wrong attitude about health, IN YOUR FACE, I’m totally exercising and you don’t know anything about me!) I was bouncing around, being all thankful for stuff. We’d gone out with another couple and everyone got along really well and it’s so damn hard to find other couples to hang out with. I got some work done ahead of time, even though it was the weekend, and next week was going to be awesome because my friend Brenda was coming to visit and we were going to have the best time ever.

I went to bed early, because my sleep schedule has been better recently and I feel deliciously tired in the evening, instead of vaguely bored and confused about what I should be doing and thrown off by the fact that it’s dark so early.

And then, in a haze of sleep, Bear was standing by the side of the bed, trying to tell me things in an urgent, miserable voice. Something about the freezer and the front door. My brain pushed his image away, trying to burrow back into dreams. But he wouldn’t go away. Disoriented and foggy, I half-thought, “No, but today was so happy…”

And then I was mostly awake and he was telling me, “I think I killed Minute.” (My tiny orange cat.)

It started with the meat freezer.

We have one now. It’s new. We have it because we bought an eighth of a cow.

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Kate on November 28th 2012 in fear, life, marriage

I would appreciate it if people would tell me that my husband is hot

The owner of the tiny Vietnamese restaurant was very friendly. She spoke halting, heavily accented English that seemed not to slow her down at all.

“You spouse?” she asked us. It took me a second to catch what she’d said.

“Yes,” we said, together, “We’re married.”

She nodded emphatically, then gestured up and down Bear’s torso and squeezed his shoulder. “He very good looking. You lucky woman.”

“I agree!” I said.

Bear seemed uncertain how to react. “Well, she’s a beautiful woman,” he said, gesturing at me.

The restaurant owner looked at me. “Uh huh,” she said, willingly enough, but not as enthusiastic.


Later, she worried over him not eating his noodles and wanted to know why such a good looking man was trying to diet. I mentioned that he has diabetes, and she was suddenly sorrowful. Her father had gotten it at seventy-five, she told us. It was very hard for him.

“I’m sorry,” she told Bear. “Very sorry.”

“It’s not your fault,” he said. “I promise.”

She laughed.

The food was good. I found myself automatically hoping that this little, outgoing woman with the round glasses and quick smile was having an awesome life. The truth is, not a huge amount of women have told me that my husband is good looking.

And it sort of bothers me.

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Kate on November 5th 2012 in beauty, marriage, new york, relationships

please stop telling me that marriage is really, really hard

For some reason, all I want to do is watch documentaries about relationships. I’d probably read those books with titles like “The Three Love Types: What Who You Fall In Love With Says About Your Type ” if someone left them lying around. I watched Daniel Gilbert’s documentary about happiness, which was mostly about relationships, and a couple days later I watched one of Michael Apted’s documentaries in the “Married in America” series, and then I watched some random documentaries about being married that had narrators who were like, “So now we go to the labs at UC Davis to discover the MEANING OF LOVE AND LUST!” but when you get there it’s just some awkward scientist feeding a couple of confused-looking monkeys.

I got married without reading up too much on the whole thing. We were busy. We wrote our vows the day before. We were engaged after six months, married about a year after meeting. We said things in our vows like “you’re really hot…” Bear jokes around that I married him for his body. Which is, of course, true. There were other things, too, though. Something to do with his brain…I can’t remember…


We didn’t talk a lot about marriage before we did it. There are couples like us in the documentaries I watched, but things are never going great for them. They’re like, “We rushed into it, you know? We should have given it more time…We didn’t even know each other when we got married…”

Disembodied voice of documentarian: “And would you say that’s made things hard?”

Couple, looking at each other sadly, then back at camera: “Yeah…It’s made things really hard… Hard is putting it lightly…” (sad little chuckle)

That is what people say about marriage. It’s hard. It’s harder than you expect. You go in all innocent and rosy-cheeked and skipping and a year later, there you are, worn down on the front stoop, your hair unwashed, eating Doritos by the handful as you stare blankly into space.



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Kate on October 3rd 2012 in being different, marriage, relationships

whatever you do, don’t marry a sick man

My dad is a pianist, but one of his fingers doesn’t work. It’s the middle finger on his left hand. I guess he can’t really flip anyone off with that one now.

It’s the diabetes, of course. The same thing that paralyzed his stomach. And this is a man who takes meticulous care of himself. Who knows all the research. Who wrestles ferociously for control as his body cleverly eludes him again and again. As his body works constantly towards destroying itself. Disease is so strange. It’s like, don’t you want to stay alive, body? Isn’t that supposed to be the only thing you want? Why can’t we agree on this one?

I am beginning to prepare to lead high holidays services, the way I do every year. I take the train out to NJ to meet with the rabbi I work with, and we stand on the bima in the empty sanctuary and make our way through the fat holiday prayerbook, practicing, arguing over the details, bursting into occasional songs from Fiddler on the Roof (yes, really). We have been known to dance around. We find each other funny. We sing in harmony sometimes and we grin the whole time.

On the train, on the way to our meetings, I get this familiar urge to read old journals. The same thing happens at this time every year. The high holidays, Rosh Hashanah (our new year) and Yom Kippur (our time of repentance and renewal), are a soul-searching, gut-wrenching, emotionally complex time. And I think the approach of autumn contributes to their drama. There’s this feeling of near-death that glides up in the smell of the foliage in the park. That is hanging behind the humidity. Things will die again, there’s an end in sight, and it will happen whether or not you are ready. The summer is inevitably faster than I expected. I’m whisked through it, and everything restarts again. It’s hard to keep track of who you are in the midst of all this transition.


So I pile old journals into my backpack and I read on the train. It turns out that I have had some funny moments! And also that I am a little insufferable. And sometimes embarrassingly melodramatic. I hope that no one else ever reads my journal. I also hope that it gets published. But only a few select parts, where I am clever. The interesting thing about a journal is that you can totally tell where you are lying to yourself. You know what I mean?

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Kate on August 16th 2012 in family, fear, marriage

the contract

I finally had my ketubah framed. That’s the Jewish wedding contract.

It was the first time I have ever had something framed. It was a bigger deal than I thought it would be. In the frame shop, this little man with round glasses like Harry Potter kept tugging open another drawer full of colorful samples. Every manner of delicately, elegantly aged. It made me want to frame everything, until he told me the prices.

I read the ketubah, since it was lying there on the work table. I forget already what it says. Something about commitment and love, I’m sure.

My eyes went immediately to the signatures on the bottom, and I remembered signing my name, there in the basement of the place where only minutes later I would barely make it down the aisle without tripping over the front of my enormous dress. My name is unbalanced, hesitant. Not because I am hesitant about marriage, but because I have never learned how to properly sign. Bear’s is more graceful. And then the witnesses, his friend, who has since moved to the suburbs to live in a house so big that I can’t keep track of the number of bathrooms, and my closest friend at the time, a woman I met almost the first day I arrived in this city.

She was sitting across the conference table from me at our departmental orientation, wearing a big necklace that she toyed absently with. She was very thin and had read more than everyone else combined, and I was intimidated by her.

For some reason (it might have had something to do with the fact that we were the only women there), we became friends, and then good friends, and then we were together constantly. She would sleep at my apartment after we’d talked into the night. Do you know the kind of friend who there is always more to say to? It’s something about the way they listen. She would tilt her head thoughtfully. She was so smart that she could find meaning in anything. So little topics could be stretched to become big topics and big topics could lie lightly across the top of whole months, years, even.

Her signature at the bottom of my wedding contract is so fine and small that it is almost invisible. It sits directly beneath my unruly, clumsy one. We are bound together here, her and me and Bear and the friend in the suburbs. 

In the framing shop, I tried to pull my eyes up from it, because she is gone.

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Kate on August 9th 2012 in friendship, life, marriage