Tag Archives: Men And Women

In defense of (crazy) love

When love chooses you, you’re limp in its arms. Let’s say that he was your classmate. You had every class together. He sat beside you. Sometimes the right side, sometimes the left. You exchanged pens, thoughts, numbers. You sipped each other’s coffees. His was milky, yours was sweet. Class became an exercise in grappling with his energy. It’s not that you intentionally tuned out the teacher; it’s that her vocal frequencies couldn’t contend with the static between you and your classmate. You found ways to write about him in your homework assignments. Your homework suffered as a result. Everything suffered as a result. Everything but him, and he was everything.

You fell in love the way Russians do. You surrendered to a Regime of Fate. You tried to unearth a rational, self-advancing agency in the matter, but this love was a train of the sort you see in great fiction, or in the final Back to the Future movie. Your first fight introduced you to internal mechanisms that had never previously been broken, and to bits and pieces that had never previously been torn apart. But who are your friends to say that love shouldn’t run you over or send you soaring off a cliff? This isn’t some romantic ideal you decided to realize as a girl because you read one too many novels. This isn’t the kind of love you’d request if a spectrum of options from Ned & Maude to Sid & Nancy was laid out before you. But this is what’s happening. You really are tied to the tracks. Life takes you places.

The drama tends to tip the scales. You’ve been happier than you ever thought possible. But you’ve also been debased. You’ve been undone. You’ve been fucking miserable. At those times the answers should be clear, but they’re not. You’ve questioned yourself into the occasional nervous breakdown. You emerge bigger, better, your heart more open with grace and forgiveness. You do it all over again. Or rather, you do it to him, he does it to you. You inflict pain and joy on each other. Which doesn’t seem to be allowed in this day and age. You wonder why you can’t be a feminist and completely batshit boy crazy at the same time.

What feels bad: trying to make sense of it. Trying to define it once and for all. Trying to match your childhood to his as if the wounds would disappear if you could only reconcile on the playground. Something rubs you the wrong way about the standards to which modern American relationships are held. You read up on this stuff trying to rationalize what isn’t rational and perfect what isn’t perfectible. You consume literature devoted to categorizing partners and partnerships. You try to reduce the deeply personal to affairs of black and white. You subscribe to healthy/unhealthy dichotomies that make you feel ashamed and sick and stupid. You read too many self-improvement articles that treat your partner more as a gadget for your own growth than as a complex individual. Vast portions of the population are dismissed as toxic. You wonder what happens to all those people who the gurus say don’t deserve to be loved.

The dominant storylines aren’t true for you anymore. You’re no one’s languishing victim. You aren’t weak for occasionally trusting in forces that exist beyond your human frailty. You aren’t weak for being kind. You aren’t weak for conceding to metaphysics. You aren’t diminished by your vulnerability. Honoring difference does not equate to self-sacrifice. Love is not “womanly” or submissive or something to be ashamed of. Love is a beast. Love makes you a fighter.

What feels good: loving, having faith, working through it, staying loyal, staying strong, asking for help when you need it. You stick to that.

You’re aware of how naïve you sound when someone says “leave” and you counter with “love.” But you have studied every inch of both alternatives. The love is not what you would choose, but you respect the forces, and you remain.

You shouldn’t have blown off your homework assignments. You know better now. You shouldn’t have failed to thrive just because you became two instead of one. You know better now. You regret your self-neglect. You regret feeling compassion for him and not for yourself. You know better now. You apologize to your teachers for a year of not listening. And you forgive yourself for past mistakes. Because love does not crush you in this narrative. Love calibrates you to be a person who connects, and to whom one can be connected. And that, dear boys and girls, is everything.

Life: Some Practice Sessions


You inherit a chunk of money. You fritter it away because you feel you don’t deserve it and its association with death makes you sad. You find yourself relating to Minnie Driver in Good Will Hunting when she dramatically breaks down and says something to the effect of, “You think I wouldn’t give all of this up to have my father back??” Except instead of being at Harvard studying organic chemistry, you’re in Miami drinking margaritas at a tiki bar.


You entertain the idea that you’re either bipolar II or an empath. You can’t decide which one is worse. Either way, you should probably get yourself some mood crystals.


You take a short break from enforcing a new policy around the condo. The new policy stipulates that you are invisible and your boyfriend is invisible, but it says nothing about palm trees, and there is a palm tree on fire in the parking lot. When you tap on the glass of the hurricane door, your boyfriend joins you on the balcony and together you watch the palm tree burn to the ground. The fire seems energizing, unlike everything else in your world of late. Perhaps the tree sensed that you were emotionally depleted so it spontaneously combusted as a personal favor. It knew that those few smoky moments of peace might diffuse the negative charge in your general atmosphere. Or perhaps an island arsonist is at large in Miami. He wears a Hawaiian shirt and goes from beach to beach burning down palm trees and lifeguard stands. He rides a Vespa scooter in his flip flops. He drinks from flaming coconuts because he likes the taste of toasted milk. Could the island arsonist be your boyfriend? You wouldn’t know because your boyfriend is invisible today, per the new policy, and he’s vanished again behind the hurricane door.


You FaceTime with your nephew and right away he requests that you sing him a song about trucks. Before you hang up he tells you—after prompts from someone off-camera—that he loves you. Twice he falls over during the phone call and you have to talk to the floor for a while. You wonder why all human conversations can’t be like this.


You don’t know how to live. You constantly pursue the question of how you’re supposed to live. It may be that you have too much time on your hands. Or should you continue to give the question your full attention even if that seems to preclude gainful employment?


This next one is about paddleboarding. You’re out paddleboarding with your boyfriend. You didn’t rent the waterproof speakers that were offered with the paddleboards for fear of scaring away the fish. But now that your boyfriend has paddleboarded you for at least a mile down a murky, Evergladian canal where you must lie flat on your stomach to pass safely under the thickets of mangrove trees spanning the water and you haven’t seen humans or sunlight for two hours and you might as well be in Apocalypse Now, you sort of wish you had some music to ward off the alligators. Eventually you start humming a song to yourself.


You spy on professional beach people. An old man walks down the boardwalk wearing a t-shirt that reads “Baller for Life.” A young man leans over the railing of his hotel balcony and tells a pretty woman below that she dropped something. When she anxiously turns to inspect the bricks behind her, he clarifies what she’s dropped: his jaw. A man in board shorts who might be homeless spends a full 30 minutes lathering himself in soap under a public beach shower. Salty children wait in line for him to finish bathing.


You’re starting to fear that there are too many books in the world. It’s impossible to make room for them all, and their numbers are beginning to annoy you. You wish you liked James Patterson novels because then you’d just read those exclusively. The fact that you assume most books are pointless anyway makes you wonder why you wrote one. Why write a book when you’re still learning how to live? Maybe you’ve become a nihilist or a philistine during your extended beach vacation. Maybe you’ve given up on art altogether. Maybe you’d rather learn how to sail a boat.


He calls you shortly after he leaves the condo. He needs a hair elastic for his ponytail. Says he’ll drive around the building and idle below the fifth-story balcony if you could please throw one down to him. You stand on the balcony and wait for his car to appear. Because of the wind, you decide in advance that the best way to deliver the hair elastic to him accurately will be to shoot it like a rubber band. Then you remember the games you used to play, when you’d look up from your computer and he’d be pointing a hair elastic at you, ready to fire, and you’d squeal and cover your face with your hands, and then he’d do it again, and you could never return comfortably to your work because you could still sense his weapon aiming at your nose. Maybe it wasn’t so much a game as a torment, but it was still something lively that you did together. While you remember this you look down at the sun-bleached parking lot and try to decide whether you’d aim for clear pavement or for the roof of a car if you were to throw yourself off the balcony. Of course you choose pavement because who are you to dent a stranger’s vehicle? His car finally arrives and he gets out and looks up at you impatiently. You almost don’t shoot your missile because you’re afraid he’s going to interpret that as another act of hostility, but you also don’t want the wind to carry the elastic into a bush or onto a lower balcony and be lost forever, so you launch it towards him anyway. And there’s no playfulness in its trajectory. And your heart aches from the contrast. Then you and he exchange small, somber waves from a great distance and you go back inside, where you can take your hands off your face for the first time since the morning’s troubles began.


You sit on the beach watching two men in wetsuits try to out-parasail each other. It’s a windy day and their parasails whip around the sky in unpredictable currents, sometimes launching the men several feet above the water. A helicopter approaches from the north. It flies low, dangerously close to the parasails. If the wind changes direction even slightly, the helicopter will get tangled up in the parasail lines. The lines and the colorful swaths of canvas will then spin around the propellers until the men are sucked up into the machinery and the whole craft goes down in flames on a nearby dune. For the rest of your time on the beach, you cannot get this image out of your head. You thought the beach was supposed to be relaxing.


You place a rubber dolphin under the sheet on your boyfriend’s side of the bed for April Fool’s Day. That night he jumps into bed without looking under the sheet and he lands directly on the dolphin. It squeaks wildly into your boyfriend’s butt. It is hilarious. In your wildest dreams you never imagined that your prank would be so successful.


When reckoning with the needs of other people, is it normal to forget that you are also a person? Other things that you could be: a squeaky toy, a burning palm tree, a baby sea lion.


You’ve been stealing your boyfriend’s medications. But he’s stolen yours in the past, so you call it even.


You practice putting out positive energy rather than taking in negative energy. The first person you practice on is a naked woman on the beach. She seems oblivious to your energy emissions because she’s already been burned by the sun today. Plus she’s busy playing volleyball. The second person you practice on is a little girl on the boardwalk who smiles back at you with sheer delight, then runs straight to a water fountain as if you’ve just made her incredibly thirsty. The third person you practice on is a cat.


Your boyfriend goes jet skiing with his buddy. You stay home to write and do laundry. You used to wish you had exciting hobbies, but now you understand that for some people, doing nothing is an exciting hobby. It can also be a full-time job.

One-paragraph heterosexual marriages

He studies geology. She has butt implants. When they go to the grocery store together, they try to fit everything into two baskets because they like to hold hands when they shop. If they need to buy a lot of heavy items like jumbo margarita mix and Thanksgiving turkeys, they reluctantly enlist a metal cart. She likes to stand on the cart and be pushed, but it’s awkward because her bottom is so big. In the produce aisle, many fruits remind him of her contours, especially the watermelons. One summer afternoon they start feeling frisky during checkout, then immediately have to go make love in the backseat of her car in the grocery store parking lot. All their ice cream melts, but the bananas are okay. Shortly thereafter the butt implants begin to sag, and with them the woman’s love. She files for divorce. The man now wanders alone through the grocery store, unable to find enough appealing food to fill his basket even halfway. “Why,” he asks himself as he squeezes a grapefruit in his forsaken hand, “didn’t I secure a more top-heavy bride?”

She runs an organic vegetable co-op. He works for a moving company, but would prefer to be a crocodile hunter. The woman’s gardening ventures yield very little income, then they start yielding dramatically less income when an objective party tests her soil and finds it to be full of lead. The man has been breaking his back all day moving someone’s entire wardrobe collection into a box truck. When he comes home to hear that his wife has been inadvertently poisoning middle-class urban children for years by selling their parents spinach grown on what amounts to a toxic landfill, he briskly loads a van with all his things and flees the townhouse. The wife declines to file for divorce on the grounds of desertion, and instead waits to hear that her husband has been killed by a crocodile, because then she can move on with her life. At night, alone in her marital bed, she dreams of harvesting freshwater prawns.

He has loved her since they were both eighteen. She grew to love him after an aggressive courtship on the space shuttle. Now they’re each 200 years old, napping in the twin beds that they, with some help from their robot, pushed together long ago. The woman wakes up first and is struck by the pattern of wrinkles on her husband’s forehead. They form a circuitboard while his age spots form a constellation. She rouses him with a freshly-baked cupcake smell, one of several thousand she’s formulated her skin to emit. He opens his eyes and says, “I love that you’re so old-fashioned.” They smooch on the lips. That night they die a natural death, meaning their souls are uploaded to a martian computer and their worn-out bods are shot into space.

Equal opportunity bullying on the mean streets of Charlottesville

Yesterday I was jogging past the parking lot of the auto body shop, imagining all the different car accidents responsible for the wreckage, when I was approached by a pair of nine-year-old girls carrying Fiddlesticks. I’m not usually intimidated by nine-year-olds, but these girls decided to pick on me because they perceived me – wrongly! – to be old and daydreamy and significantly out of shape. One of the girls – the ringleader – gave me a nefarious look and started pretending her mini lacrosse stick was an electric guitar. She shouted all the chords at the top of her lungs, bullying me with her stupid, made-up song while we passed on the sidewalk. It’s like she was mocking my musicianship, except I was wearing running shoes and she was carrying sports equipment and I couldn’t ascertain any connection between what the three of us were doing and the way in which I was being taunted. But I felt like I was under attack and I was frightened, so I quickly jogged away. But the two girls took a shortcut across a field and intercepted me on the next block where they resumed aggressively playing their lacrosse stick guitar at me and laughing and I was forced to flee and hide out in a nearby CVS until I was sure they were gone.

But as clearly disturbing as this incident was, I’m sort of proud that young female, and not just male, bullies are now picking on the weak and defenseless in Charlottesville. As a young girl I never would have had the balls to confront an elegant, athletic, mature woman on the street and try to take her down a notch in some inexplicable fashion. I feel like feminism has come a long way in America when delinquent girls can be loud and rude and intrepid and gang up on strangers who have wandered into their neighborhoods in the name of physical fitness and who then go home and cry from fear and confusion after accepting the girls’ weird abuse, when that used to be the exclusive purview of troubled young men.

Keep up the good work, my young sisters! I fully support you in your equal opportunity bullying. My only suggestion would be to develop a more coherent system of attack so you don’t leave your victims feeling like they missed the point. But maybe you’re waging psychological warfare, in which case, wow.

The bride’s ego

You never know where or when the bride’s enormous ego will surface. Case in point:

“I just want a low-key wedding, Mom. Laid-back, informal, no-pressure. I don’t want to cave to the wedding industry with all its check-lists and up-dos and monogrammed water bottles.”

“Sure. Fine. We’ll just do family, a few friends. I’ll arrange some flowers from my garden. . .”

“Do we really NEED flowers?”

“I guess not. What about bridesmaids? Diamond rings? Crabcakes?”

“No way, Mom. I’m what’s called an enlightened, modern bride. I don’t need all the wedding foofaraw.”

“Okay. Well, you’ll need a dress.”

“Yes, and I want THE CHEAPEST WEDDING DRESS EVER. I want to be able to brag to my grandchildren about HOW CHEAP MY DRESS WAS. I want to flounce across the dance floor WITH THE PRICE TAG ON so everyone can see WHAT A GOOD SHOPPER I AM and how I didn’t BUY INTO THE SATIN PRICE JACKING that takes place at SNOOTY WEDDING BOUTIQUES. This December when I walk down the aisle carpeted in USED CHRISTMAS WRAPPING PAPER and CRACKED PISTACHIO NUTS, I want to hold a bouquet made of STORE RECEIPTS so my guests will be appropriately AWESTRUCK by my bridal bargain-hunting SKILLS. Suck on that, all you SPEND-HAPPY BRIDES trying on inflated GOWNS in your silky unmentionables. I DARE YOU to find a dress cheaper than mine. I DARE YOU. You will ALL FAIL because I am the THRIFTIEST PRINCESS and I will FLAUNT my ALUMINUM FOIL TIARA until all you BITCHES CRY.”

“I’m so proud of you, baby.”

Why elderly ladies in Georgia aren’t voting for Obama

Why elderly ladies in Georgia aren’t voting for Obama:

1. He’ll take all their money.

2. He’s a Muslim.

3. He’ll turn the nation Communist.


Why elderly ladies in Georgia send back their lunches:

1. Not enough sauerkraut on the reuben.

2. They ordered tomato parmesan soup, not French onion.

3. They’re confused by the small pile of lettuce on the sandwich plate. What is this green stuff? Am I supposed to eat this? What is this for? I have to go to the bathroom.


Why elderly ladies in Georgia get together for lunch every Saturday, even during Hurricane Fay:

1. A weekly ritual reminds them they’re still in the game. Also, they can show off their white bouffant hairdos after they take off their rain bonnets.

2. While dining they can pile all their purses, canes, walkers, and wet umbrellas in the corner of the restaurant, forming a sort of geriatric still-life that is only disturbed when someone demands a Kleenex or a cardigan sweater.

3. They can quiz me – the granddaughter guest – about Islam, existentialism, my upcoming nuptials, and the quality of my soup. Then they can send me to retrieve their friend who got lost on her way back from the bathroom. Then I can check their bills (split 12 ways) to ensure they left at least 5% for the waiter.

Funny hoo-ha

I realize that anybody who is anybody on the internet has already blogged today about the “Who Says Women Aren’t Funny?Vanity Fair article, itself a response to the VF article “Why Women Aren’t Funny” by Christopher Hitchens. [Full disclosure: Christopher Hitchens will always be a god to me because he devoted an entire book to putting down Mother Teresa. Who else would have the audacity to do that?] Nevertheless, I want to weigh in on this important debate contrived to sell magazines. Are women funny?

Let me start by saying that all those SNL hotties were ugly in high school. I lack the evidence to back up that statement, but I feel in my gut that it’s true. They were ugly and that’s why they cultivated their personalities. And I have to put that out there because a large portion of the latest Vanity Fair article, supposedly extolling the comedic talents of the fairer sex, is about how pretty these funny ladies are. Alessandra Stanley writes:

It used to be that women were not funny. Then they couldn’t be funny if they were pretty. Now a female comedian has to be pretty—even sexy—to get a laugh.

At least, that’s one way to view the trajectory from Phyllis Diller and Carol Burnett to Tina Fey. Some say it’s the natural evolution of the women’s movement; others argue it’s a devolution. But the funniest women on television are youthful, good-looking, and even, in a few cases, close to beautiful—the kind of women who in past decades might have been the butt of a stand-up comic’s jokes.

Of course female comedians are beautiful. Vanity Fair loves to take pictures of beautiful people. Vanity Fair gets to pick and choose who to put on its cover. Vanity Fair gets to slather the funny women in makeup and dress them in revealing “costumes” and Photoshop them into oblivion and then slap rubber chickens in their hands and pretend that their sexuality is not being exploited.

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Interesting people making love and dancing to Randy Newman

I like to read about unconventional marriages, especially if one of the principals is a writer. This couple – made up of novelist Jennifer Belle and entertainment lawyer Andrew Krents – spends more time apart than together because “familiarity breeds contempt.” For instance Belle went to Venice alone for her honeymoon because Krents couldn’t find his passport.

For a couple that craves and fights for time alone and apart, how do they stay together? One way, they said, is by pretty much ignoring their relationship in the same way a writer ignores a blank page.

“I try not to think about marriage,” Ms. Belle said. “It just seems impossible to me. It’s wondrous. It’s like trying to understand the meaning of the universe.”

Good for you, kids. Keep knocking the boots.

Cracking nuts

I’ve decided to take the GRE, so there. What are you doing with your life that’s so great? I’m studying basic algebra.

Originally this post was going to be about ballet. This afternoon I introduced a three-year-old girl to The Nutcracker with 1977 vintage Mikhail Baryshnikov (swoon!). Everything was going awesome until she asked me about the bump in the crotch region of his tights. I was honest with her, and she quickly moved on with her life, but for the rest of the ballet I watched Mikhail exclusively from the waist down and worried that I was actually showing her pornography instead of a nostalgic piece of my childhood.

DSM aka Tickle personality quiz

When I was a little girl reading Seventeen Magazine, YM, Cosmopolitan, and Penthouse Letters, I quickly realized that their relationship quizzes were for chumps. The answers were always so obvious. “Are you a jealous girlfriend? When you see your boyfriend flirting with the pretty Gap salesgirl at the mall, do you: a) punch him in the balls; b) slink away to Sbarro’s because he obviously found someone better than you to go out with; or c) approach him amiably and put your arm around him, asking him if he has seen the Gap’s holiday collection of flannel boxers? If you chose a, you need to keep the green-eyed monster in check. If you chose b, you need to stand up for yourself more. If you chose c, you are really good at passing these quizzes.” The girls that were the greatest friends, girlfriends, and lovers when judged by the women’s magazine criteria were always the bitchiest, loneliest, most virginal girls when judged by my own criteria. That’s why I started subscribing to Playgirl at thirteen. Playgirl wasn’t constantly testing me, trying to find out what kind of person I was. Playgirl just said, “Hey, here are some fanciful pictures of penises for you, from me.” I was like a) I love you; b) You’re handsome; c) Let’s go steady. That was gross and not true at all.

Anyway the other day Noelle sent me a link to this Tickle personality test called Is He “the One”? I think there’s also a version for men. I still don’t know if Darren’s the one because the test didn’t ask about whether or not he was willing to give me the fifteen children I desire. The Tickle site features emotionally relevant quizzes like “Could You Be Seduced By a Celeb Babe?”, inexplicable quizzes like “What Kind of Swashbuckling Pirate Are You?”, and essential quizzes for clueless women like “Are You Having Enough Sex?” I learned a lot about myself, and about how I spend my time. If I was more active on MySpace I would publish my test results for all my friends, but then everyone on the internet would know that I’m a sex-crazed buccaneer who could easily be seduced into a six-way with the Spice Girls. Did you guys know that the Spice Girls are back? Well it’s true. They are back.