Tag Archives: Family

On Me and New York and What’s Meant To Be

Just about the first two questions I received upon arriving in New York City on Friday—where I went this weekend for my brother’s not-really-at-all-impulsive wedding (sorry, J)–were these:

From my best friend R, who I called in the cab from LaGuardia: “Welcome home! Oh sorry—is it strange for me to call New York ‘home’?””

From my mother, who I met near her East 92nd street office for a pre-wedding blowdry as we powered down Lexington during rush hour: “Oh! Are you having culture shock? Do you always have culture shock when you come back here, still?”

I am inclined to say I had no clue how to answer either of these questions—but, in fact, my real-time response to each one was a fairly assured ‘no.’

As in: no, it’s not strange at all to refer to New York as “home.” I was born here, it’s where virtually my entire family still lives and where my parents still occupy the house in which I grew up.

And: no, while I regularly tell of a consistently violent cultural jolt each time I visit the city, even when it was only from DC (Aaaah! Everyone’s more stylish than I am! And skinnier! And walking with even more speed and apparent urgency!), it seems that nine years of fairly regular ins-and-outs has numbed the shock.

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Love and Sex and Parents: Some Notes

My parents, as I’ve mentioned, read my blog. Also, as I’ve probably also mentioned, I talk to my parents. A good amount. We talk about our daily routines. The latest subway delays. The latest in family gossip. What meals we’ve eaten and cooked. We talk about the weather.

We do not talk about my blog.

Occasionally (and with diminishing frequency–though, to be fair, my posts have diminished in frequency, too), my mother will comment that she found something “funny” or “cute.” Also occasionally, my father will leave a cryptic comment using the pseudonym of one of their chocolate labradors’ names.

But besides that, the subject of my writing–or, more broadly, my dating life–does not really come up.

Now, I don’t blame my parents for this. No one wants to think their parents or children have sex at all, much less know the particulars.

And yet, I, and perhaps one, would think they’d have gotten used to it. It’s been about eight months since I’ve been writing this thing. Longer since I began publishing essays about love and sex. I would think, by now, they would have grown accustomed to the enterprise: that my dramatic openness with the virtual world about my romantic life would have–at least, a little bit–expanded the openness I can have with them on the subject.

It has not.

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What I May, or May Not, Want

Even on the internet, people.

Even on the internet: the place where single people go to be sensible, calculated, methodical in their romantic pursuits–I have gone to behave just as irrationally, impulsively and–dare I say–foolishly as is my bane in real life.

Or have I?

Truth be told I’m still rather squeamish about the whole project, and hesitate to write anything. Also, when one shares something with a person, and said person responds with shock and dismissal that borders on disgust, one might hesitate to share said thing with hundreds on the internet.

Fortunately for me, I need not listen to your dismayed responses the way I had to my sister-in-law’s the other day over the phone.

And in the end, I can’t very well announce to you all that I’m going to start dating online and not follow up with some sort of report.

So: within days of posting a profile, I have begun trading messages with a handful of men. One, a 24-year old fresh from a serious relationship. Another, a 40-year old with a ten-year old son. And another in his mid-thirties who is father to three children.

(Insert sister-in-law’s disapproval here.)

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Sharing a Bed

One difference between dogs and people–or at least, well-adjusted people who have social skills–is that dogs have absolutely no qualms about staring at you.

They stare at you when they’re alarmed because you’re banging a bag of ice against the kitchen floor. They stare at you when they’re perplexed because you’re suddenly carrying toys they like to play with out of the house and putting them in the trunk of your Volkswagon. And they stare at you when they really, really don’t want you to put that dress on and leave the house because they still don’t fully trust that you’ll ever come home despite the fact that every time you’ve ever left before, you have.

And yes: they stare at you when they would much prefer to be sleeping in your bed, thanks.

And so, it’s official: Bonita and I are sleeping together.

I resisted.

First the nice and very reasonable-seeming people at Animal Humane told me it was a bad idea because she wouldn’t respect my authority. Then my mother told me it was a bad idea because I don’t sleep.

“You have insomnia, remember?” she said over the phone. “The last thing you need is something else to keep you awake.”

I’m terrible at making decisions, so when others make them for me–sometimes I accept. I placed Bonita on the chair beside my bed to spend the night.

“That looks small,” my father observed when I sent photos of her all curled up. “Does she need a bed?”

“If you want to spoil her like you spoil your other grandchildren…” was my reply. I aborted my own doggie bed search and kept her on the chair until the L.L. Bean box arrived containing her monogrammed, loden-colored gift.

Of course, by then she had adjusted to the chair–and every time I put her on it she stared at me, ears perked and head tilted, the way you might if I asked you, for no evident reason, to stand on a coffee table.

I thought taking her with me to Taos would be the perfect opportunity to get her accustomed. I packed her new bed with us and placed it at the foot of mine in our pet-friendly Sagebrush Inn hotel room. Instead she sprawled herself up on the crumpled pile of fallen blankets right beside it. She looked at me. By the second night, we were spooning.

And sure enough, our first night back in Albuquerque, she tried her luck at hopping up with me. And, whaddya know, I didn’t have the heart to turn her down. (That stare–I’m telling you.)

Frankly, I didn’t particularly want to either. I’ve been sleeping fine, actually, and quite enjoying the presence of something warm, soft and breathing in bed beside me.

I like companionship. Isn’t that why I got a dog?


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Who to Call? Another Girlfriend Tribute

On Sunday, after some public griping on the blog about my single woes, I went out and had a perfectly lovely day: I took Bon Bon to a new dog park where we met a lovely dog-owning woman–a local journalist and musician who told me about some new local spots. I caught up over the phone with an old girlfriend and talked about her potential skype sex. I took a rare trip to Trader Joe’s for some peach salsa and other things-I-don’t-need. And then to a low-key house party/rock show where I saw the first 40 oz. bottle of malt liquor I think I’ve spotted since high school.

And in the midst of it all this loveliness, I must confess, I thought of yet another recurring single-girl grievance: the dilemma of, “who to call?” As in, I just had the loveliest afternoon, and who do I have to tell about it? (I mean, no offense to my mother, but I can only call her so many times in a given week without starting to feel completely pathetic.)

First, I thought: “That’s why I have a blog!” Second, I thought: “I can only exploit my readers’ sympathies so much in one weekend” and “Actually that’s not why I have a blog, it’s why I would have a diary if I was somebody who didn’t feel ridiculous whenever I kept one.” In other words, I imagine that most of you who read this–with the possible exception, perhaps, of my mother–do not do so out of strange fascination with the quotidian details of weekend adventures related to grocery shopping. Correct me if I’m wrong.

I got home, shrugged it off, contemplated what it might mean to simply enjoy the experience of happiness for a moment, and then checked my email.

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Step One: Get Married. Step Two: Have Kids?

Yeah, I know: I’m, like, really, really far from starting a family.

Like, this weekend, out at a downtown bar where there were, actually, a decent number of evidently attractive men–an event that seems to occur about as often as the solstice around here–I stood on the periphery, completely disinterested.

“I wish I knew some cute guy so we could go over and I could introduce you,” my friend E remarked.

“Oh no,” I assured her. “Don’t worry about it. I’m not feeling all that sexual these days.”

It’s true: I mean, don’t get me wrong: I still think it’d be nice to have/desperately want a boyfriend. But for whatever reason (perhaps, dare I ponder, the staggering sequence of disappointments that has been my love life for the past several years has finally caught up with me) I’m going through a phase in which I really can’t be bothered to put in the the effort that it takes to put myself out there.

(Don’t worry too much: put me in front of a shiny object and I will flirt with it. It’s how I’m wired, whether I like it or not.)

But still: as you all know, I think about these things–love, relationships, marriage. And yes, children.

I’ve been thinking about this last one recently a bit more than usual. So I was intrigued when I saw this story on the Times “Well” blog.

The post reports on a new study from the Pew Research Center that surveys what people say are the most important factors in the success of their marriage. The Times headline was that children rank surprisingly low: behind good sex, behind money, and just above similar political views.

Apparently marriage has overall become more “adult-centered” as people have fewer children and wait longer to have them–which would suggest that people are still having children, they just generally find them less interesting. Or essential to a happy partnership, whatever.

Which is intriguing to me, because what I’ve been thinking about lately–in regard to kids–is the cultural expectation I think is imposed on women, especially, that we ought to have kids at all.

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To Live, Or Not to Live, in NY

I tend to get contemplative when I travel. Sometimes, I make rash life decisions. Especially when I travel to London. Or: once, when I was in London, I made a rash life decision.

It was the last time I was there, four and a half years ago. At the time I was living with my long-term ex in Minnesota, but about to head off for a two-month internship in DC–after which I planned on returning to St. Paul. A few days spent on my own in London left me intoxicated with independence: I decided to leave MN, and my then-boyfriend, permanently. I returned there for just a week, during which I packed up all my things and shipped them off for indefinite residence in my parents’ Brooklyn basement.

Before this trip I half-jokingly warned friends that I might return with some other idea for dramatic life revision–but I wasn’t sure what it would be. “Maybe I’ll become a lesbian!” I joked.

I haven’t. And I’m not altering my living or life situation grandly either. (Though I am, oddly, going back to Minnesota on Wednesday for my five-year college reunion–an event that promises to be loads of fun and, one might imagine, a good source of blog material.)

But I did have something of something of an epiphanic moment on the subject of where I want to live.

It may be premature, or just plain neurotic–after all, I am committed to at least two more years in Albuquerque–but the question of where I want to settle has been the source of much angst to me lately. This mainly stems from the recent realization that I do not, in fact, have to wind up in New York.

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Bridging the Gap

For all my glib talk about how much I was going to make my parents squirm when I read a couple of my pieces with them in the audience the other night, I wasn’t all that surprised when they totally didn’t.

“We’ve been conditioned!” my dad smilingly explained to one of my professors, who commended them for getting through the evening without a blush.

“She’s gotten a little raunchier over the years,” he later joked to a group of friends. “But we can take it.”

They can take it. And they do. But, as it emerged over their weekend visit, it’s not always easy.

Nor would you expect it to be easy for the parents of a blogger who writes about her sexual life with a regularity and tone that often require some exaggeration. I’m not saying that what I write here isn’t true, but the extent to which I do so surely enhances the severity of the impressions I give off.

Which, as they finally confessed, can be tough for them to swallow. (Dad: “You just seem, kind of, insecure and obsessed with finding a man.” Mom: “You don’t need to date men who aren’t worthwhile, you should be picky!”)

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To Be, or Not to Be, Mysterious

“Remember when you lived in Washington DC and were really interested in politics?” my father asked me last night over dinner, by way of gentle counsel that I need not spend the rest of my writing career so focused on relationships.

“Vaguely,” I replied.

(It turns out to be true what what’s going on in Washington is far more interesting when one is living in Washington that it is when one isn’t.)

“I mean, it’s great for now,” my mother joined in. “But, you know, you might, at some point, decide that you want to have a little mystery.”

Ah yes, I thought. Mystery. I’ve been contemplating this word a lot lately–namely, in relation to the fact that I don’t have any.

It came up a few days ago when my guy friends and I were free associating in our effort to pinpoint the nature of femininity. We concluded that it might be in the mix, but that truly mystery is something both men and women look for and are drawn to.

Either way–since I do, on occasion, like to actually attract members of the opposite sex–this reminder causes me some pause.

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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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