Category Archives: Huffington Post

A Mother’s Opinions, Censored

The other night, as I got passed around my family’s Passover seder via phone reciever, a family friend with whom I rarely speak brought up the blog.

“You know, I think your mother doesn’t always know whether to be proud of you or embarrassed!” he chuckled.

(For the record, I’m pretty sure she leans toward pride: last night she sat, like a champ, through a reading in which I use the word “fuck” as a verb and repeatedly mentioned masturbation–she claimed no discomfort.)

Later, slightly rankled, I relayed the comment in an email to a friend. “I don’t care what she thinks,” I wrote. And then, immediately: “That’s a lie. Of course I care.”

The fact is that I a care a great deal what my mother thinks–probably more than I’d like to, and do, admit. Not only when it comes to my writing, but also, of course, my relationships.

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Men, Women and George Eliot

Even more enjoyable than re-reading Beloved, I have discovered, is re-reading Middlemarch. (And no, I am not actually that virtuous–again, it’s for class.)

With Beloved, there’s really no way to do any sort of skimming; you’re either paying attention and getting something out of it or you’re not. With Middlemarch, though, it’s not too difficult to breeze through the parts about taxes and local politics while savoring those about marriage and relationships.

Which I am clearly, and quite happily, doing. I know a lot of people hate this book. It’s written in a bizarre and antiquated omniscient voice, is not far from a thousand pages long and has more characters than most books have chapters. I understand. But I don’t agree.

Because the thing about that weird all-knowing voice–as well as the reason I love this book and the reason I do think it might be one of the best novels ever written–is exactly how brilliant that voice is. Nearly every page is littered with insights into the human experience so piercingly accurate that one can’t help but consider the possibility that George Eliot actually did know everything that every person has ever thought–not just in the fictitious country village of Middlemarch but in the entire history of the planet.

Pardon my enthusiasm. But this is what I found myself thinking as I lay in bed reading last night and came upon passage after passage that resonates with how I think about the world. Especially, of course, how I think about love.

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Thoughts on Believability and “The Male Brain”

Usually, when I think something is too good to be true, it is.

For example, when a guy tells me he wants me to be his future wife having met me within the last thirty-six hours, I usually tell at least one friend that I’m sure it’s “too good to be true” before eagerly reciprocating the sentiment and finding myself devastated two-to-three days later when his undatability surfaces. (See? I may exercise poor judgment–but at least I do it self-consciously.)

Similarly, I got really excited when I first read about this new book, “The Male Brain” by Louann Brizendine.

According to that CNN exerpt, at least, it basically reinforces everything anyone’s ever thought about the differences between male and female behavior: men think more about sex, are visually driven and less sensitive to the nonverbal cues that make women receptive to other people’s emotions. Also, Brizendine cites evidence that, despite their perpetually wandering eyes, men are even more prone to commit deeply to a partner than women are–which reinforces my observations about friends’ long-term relationships in which the guys are sure and the women aren’t.

I’d like to claim that I’m always right, but I’m not. Often, I readily believe things–bad research as well as pre-emptive claims of affection–that a more skeptically minded person wouldn’t.

And I was really happy to readily believe everything that Dr. Brizendine wrote. Until, to my dismay, I had to go and stumble on this Salon piece tearing it apart–and now I feel obligated to readily believe that instead.

Basically the Salon hit piece claims that most of her data is based on 30-odd couples in Newfoundland studied, dubiously, more than ten years ago. It also brings up that certain facts included in the author’s previous book, “The Female Brain,” were so erroneous as to have to be removed from later editions.

Which is too bad. Because I know the “male brain” science stuff can be seen as excusing behavior that’s not ever excusable (aka, as the Salon piece suggests, Tiger Woods couldn’t help but sleep with every pair of breasts on which he laid eyes). But it is also kind of comforting to think that guys’ preoccupation with sex and inability to read emotions isn’t just the female imagination at work.

And I don’t think it is. I don’t think it’s random or false that men are more visual: just think about how many couples you see in which the woman is good-looking and the man isn’t, and how many you see in which it’s the opposite. To think that there’s science behind that phenomenon doesn’t make it any less annoying.

I also think there might be something to this other notion Brezendine writes about that men do actually experience intense emotional responses–even more intense than women–despite the fact that they generally don’t show them. I’ve always been wary of mistaking the male inability to express feelings for an inability to have them.

I’m not sure Brezendine’s research is completely reliable, but on this one I think it’s prudent to give her the benefit of the doubt.


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New HuffPost Blog, and a Note on Frequency

My second blog for Huffington Post is up today – check it out! (Unless you are my parents, in which case: read at your peril.)

Hopefully there will be no scandalous Twitter hacking today.

Speaking of my mother, I feel the need to share that yesterday she emailed to ask if I was okay. Why was she concerned, you ask? Because I had not blogged in more than 24 hours. She hoped, she wrote, that I was just very busy.

Rather than respond to her email, of course, I blogged.

But seriously: I like writing here every day. It makes me happy. But sadly it does not pay me or get me any closer to my graduate degree and I have several other obligations that do. So I will continue to be as consistent as I possibly can, but if I miss a day or two, please don’t fear for my safety and security.

Probably, I’m just blogging for another site anyhow.

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New Blog on Huffington Post!

On the off-chance that you are one of the thirteen people in North America I haven’t already emailed, I’m starting to blog for the Huffington Post and have my first piece up today. It’s about my idea for an Olympic event in Speed Dating, and my brother Rob tells me it’s “much better than my previous pieces” because “you could actually follow this one from start to finish.”

Hope you enjoy the essay, and I’ll be back later with more, less cohesive thoughts (sorry, Rob).

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