Monday, October 29, 2007

inherited strange

I read this freakishly engaging book, Identical Strangers, by Elyse Schein and Paula Bernstein, these identical twins who were separated soon after their birth and raised in separate adoptive families, and none of them, parents or children, knew they were twins until one of them went searching for her/their birth mother when she was thirty-five. Imagine getting that call. “Hello? You don’t know me, but I’m your identical twin.” How does one deal?

One of my closests and dearests lent me the book. This friend is like my personal library of delectable soul-searching, spirituality-seeking memoirs, including but not limited to eat pray love, A Million Little Pieces and My Friend Leonard. I finished Identical Strangers in two days, it was so good, like crack totally must be. It was riveting like a good British mystery is reported to be. I don’t read mysteries myself, but I’ve always wanted to.

What struck me and yet depressed me about the book, initially anyway, is that it seems to prove that our personalities, for the most part, are inherited. The fact that I get stuck and insecure so easily, my indoorsy hermititude, my tendency to fall down the rabbit-hole of ‘compare-and-despair,’ are all genetic traits I possess like my promient wrist-bones, shiny brown hair and detached earlobes. But that also means that the seeker I am, who is sometimes the finder, well, that’s also inherited. I believe this. Today I believe this anyway, because I think my tendency to utterly lose myself in a good book is also genetic. I also and possibly contrarily believe that it’s possible to “re-wire” the brain and create new lifestyle habits, but it takes dedication. And the good news is that I got dedication, baby. In spades. Because I deal in the Truth. It’s what I am after, ultimately. Oh yeah. At least that’s what I tell myself and my therapist.

Monday, October 22, 2007

don't sell, michelle!

We finally got it together with a couple and their kids for brunch yesterday. Now that we’re steeped to our nostrils in all things kid-o-phile, our social lives have become a swampy series of reschedulings and postponements for dinners, brunches, lunches and playdates. So we felt really accomplished to sit together in our friends’ apartment catching up on our real estate conversation and munching toasted bagels with cream cheese and juicy tomatoes from their local farmers’ market while the kids practiced sharing toys.

Afterwards we went to the playground in our friends’ desirable nabe and as I boosted Hamish onto the spider-shaped jungle gym I realized with lightning speed that I was standing across the paint-chipped bug’s abdomen from a movie star. Yes, yours truly, the writer of Star Craving Mad, had the sacred privelege of sharing playground time with a very pregnant L____, who it turns out, has just bought in the neighborhood, which is most auspicious since Heath Ledger has flown the Brooklyn coop for concreter pastures (and supermodels!) in Manhattan. I heard there was a hilarious Times article about everyone and their brother pretending not to give a damn that Heath and Michelle had moved in, and now we’re all going crazy pretending not to give a damn that he’s moved out. I know I was not so secretly devastated to learn of their divorce. Poor Matilda. Poor shmashilda. Poor us, not being privy to star sightings anymore. Please don’t sell, Michelle! Ooh that sounds like a bumper sticker…I did catch them once on the street last year before Michelle gave birth. With skin lumenescent and dewy just like we demand of our stars, Michelle rocked a navy top! And Heath’s womanly wide hips still managed to be studly and carressable in baggy-butted Levis.

So (ahem) now in the playground to my delight was L____, pregnant out to here, all in stretchy black, with her hair piled into a rubberband. Very modest. Very downplayed. Was that for our benefit? So we wouldn't feel so bad around her sparkly famousness? Like an urban soldier, I went to work ignoring her and staring at her simultaneously and the pure distilled conflict of it all had my back in spasms. Did she notice my kids? My outfit? What a cool mom I am? Did she notice my nonchalance at her existence in my universe? That subtle studied wrist-flicking hip swivel that says, “I don’t give a shit what you think, I’m not sure I even recognize you?” Or could she see how dork-frothed with star-struckness I was? Did she cringe in self-protection against the possibility that I might sidle up to her and pat her belly, ask her what gender her fetus is and does she have any names picked out, I won’t tell anyone? Did I gesture too dramatically when I conversed with Bryan? Did I talk too loudly when cajoling Hamish to be brave on the curly slide? Did I brush the sand off Stella’s jeans with too much bravado? Could she tell I was performing for her? Did she give me a standing ovation? No, she didn’t.

Instead, she talked with her friends and shoved her hand down her greasy-haired boyfriend’s four-hundred dollar jeans’ back pocket and squeezed his ass. And her artfully dishevelled beau, who I have to tell you, didn’t strike me as keeper material, I really don’t think my mom would get a good vibe from this guy, grabbed a handful of L___’s armpit, which I thought was so perverted in my newfound curmudgeonly mom-itude. And when their hands commenced exploring each others’ sides and backsides like horrible teenagers, when the boyfriend ran his meaty hands over and over her belly like a genie might fly out of her mouth and grant him three wishes, I concentrated on keeping my jaw shut and continued to stare-but-not-stare, reassuring myself that, oh yeah, this is a recipe for disaster. These two are all over each other which means they’ve obviously known each other for two months tops. It’s all over before the kid turns one. These poor little famous kids. They don’t stand a chance. I’m so lucky I’m not them.

Which got me thinking, part of my fear about leaving Brooklyn is wrapped up in the very real possibility that I will no longer have celebrity sightings. Which is a pathetic reason to stay in Brooklyn, I know, not that we are, but the thought did cross my mind—do I actually believe that I am more validated as a human citizen if I live in close proximity to celebrities? And how sad does that make me? Especially knowing that they live in the most desirable, beautiful neighborhoods in huge lofts and townhouses while I languish in the working class ugly outskirts stressing out about square footage every time I schlep home a twelve-pack of budget brand paper towels. I do believe this on some level, and it’s shamefully comforting that others do too. Maybe by moving I’ll show myself that I don’t care as much as I think I do. Or maybe I’ll just have to start watching TMZ.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

right path

Not attaining enlightenment after deciding to, oh, about three pages into Eat Pray Love, for instance, had me a little down on myself. I meditated a total of thirty-seven minutes in two separate sessions about two weeks apart and found myself wondering, where is my blue light? Which I know is, well I don’t want to say ridiculous, because I know in my budding wisdom that beating myself up is not the Right Path, as the Buddhists would say, but I could maybe give myself a little more time to achieve the heightened states of consciousness that Elizabeth Gilbert makes sound so enticing, that took her at least five months and however many pages to reach in her life. And if I can’t get to Italy or India, at least I can go to a good Italian restaurant, and sit in my living room listening to my mind. So far I’ve been to a good French restaurant (rack of lamb and potatoes au gratin anyone?) and have sat myself down, and even though it doesn’t last long, it does feel like a vacation from my usual life of eternally explaining to my three year-old son why we don't dance with a glass of milk on the sofa. For instance. So I'm hopeful. I also seem to recollect that it’s best not to talk about your meditation practice, or your yoga practice, New Years’ resolutions, etc. But talk I do, because that’s what I do. I love to share.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

eat pray seethe

I never got be Madonna. Or Gwyneth Paltrow, or Amy Stein from camp, or Susan Amoroso from sixth grade. I have a history of wishing to be other people. And today it pains me that I am not Liz Gilbert. I am not an intrepid world traveler, I am not becoming fluent in Italian, or on the bestseller list, all before my thirty-eighth year. I am not tall and blond…Okay I like my dark hair, especially as I have usurped my Angelina Jolie girl-crush with Penelope Cruz after watching Volver on Netflix…

Monday, October 01, 2007

gila silib

I just got a few of these cuties in the mail, the third translation of my novel. Indonesian. Smells like peanut sauce. Not really. Smells plasticky, like cellophane.


Well you know, it's happened. That thing I dreaded ever since Bryan and decided to have children. Hamish and I were in the bathroom this morning. I'd just done my bizness, and was pulling up my pants when my three and a half year-old son touched my butt, said, "Pink and shiny!" and then, out it came, out from between his pink petal lips: "It's wiggly." My shoulders sank under the weight of it all, and even though I knew what he was talking about, I said, to clarify, you know, just in case, "What's wiggly?" And he said, "Your pink and shiny." I said, "Yeah...Well that's...Yeah." Which cleared up things.

Hamish, with his taut and tiny, went on his way, gathering an unseasonal outfit for the day while I thought about liposuction and spirituality, the kind that revels in cellulite and lack of muscle tone, that transcends it. And after dropping the kids off at school, I went out and bought not one, but two pairs of tight skinny jeans. Discounted of course. But skinny. Tight. One pair is even high-waisted. And faded. Am I a glutton for punishment or a naive non-waif who still believes in fairy tales? And what exactly does that last part mean? I just feel...wiggly. Yet closer to you, and closer to that post-partum resolution to start jogging again. Give me an S. Give me an I. Give me a G. Give me an H...What's that spell? I don't know anymore.