undirected ruminations

The personal ruminations of Mallory Kasdan.


My daughter’s recent birthday has ignited my memory of being her age. Her intonations, tics and tricks are so familiar to me. The pouting, the scary emotions that overpower her sometimes, her otherwise infectious enthusiasm and mostly good nature that result from a happy home and mostly good natured parents who try their best. I remember trying all on all of those moods and attitudes I see her working through myself, like outfits, or hats.

Besides being my daughter, Zoe is this dimension of my own childhood self, just as I, as a mother, am a dimension of my mom’s mothering self.

I have my baby book that my mom made. The title on the cover is “Your Baby Age 0 – 7.” I look at it a lot lately, in sadness and in wonder, because the idea of the book is such a contradiction to what I thought was her lack of sentimentality in later years. It’s filled with details about my lost teeth, my doctor’s visits, my first words, and upbeat descriptions about each of my birthday parties. I was glancing through it yesterday, looking at a photograph of my mom at 26 holding me in the front seat of the car coming home from the hospital, searching her eyes for clues about what it felt like to be her, holding me in her arms. Ready for the adventure and not knowing what the future would bring.

And today, as I look through pictures of myself bringing Zoe home from the hospital on my computer, with my hopeful and much less worried looking eyes, I simply can’t believe Zoe is the age I was when I was no longer my mom’s baby. This loop of life, moving through it sometimes seems truly miraculous.

Seven was also the age I turned when my youngest sister was born. I remember what our house on Linden Lane felt like physically, the light in the downstairs hall and the smell of concrete and Tide in the basement and how the house was changing. Rules, once rigid, were becoming less so. I imagine my mom was tired, maybe overwhelmed? Sugar cereal, once outlawed, began creeping in.

The office with the yellow, brown and green wallpaper was peeled down and painted, yellow I think it was. Or pink? There was a gilder. A slide. A changing table. We were intrigued, but after a bit, bored and ready for the next thing. Nine months seemed an interminable amount of time to wait.

I remember going to the hospital at the end of the summer to meet her, and it all seeming unreal to me, how tiny my sister was, and like, where the hell did she even come from? I remember we got to go to Sea World with my dad the week right after she came. I know it happened because there’s a picture of Lanie and I on my dad’s lap holding twin Shamus, pink faced and white-blonde haired. And I remember too that it was my birthday five days after Lex was born, and I was extremely pre-occupied with what I would get when we returned from Sea World. Because that’s seven.


I’ve been listening to this Taylor Swift song on repeat.

Listening to “22” is a four minute jolt of infectious auto-tuney happy earnestness which bleeds into intense nostalgic yearning. The soundtrack to trying on outfits while wearing a clay facemask. Sitting shotgun driving to get frozen yogurt. Laying out at the pool and not worrying someone will make you get them a graham cracker.

It’s pretty sweet to go inward in that particular way a pop song can free you from your present, even if that present is not exactly unpleasant and you’re cool with where you are in your life. Plus, I get a tiny thrill listening to it on my phone on the train between some skinny hot girl with librarian glasses and a tough thug with his legs spread maximally.

Factors that contribute to happiness in your 20’s are sharply different than those that please you in your 40’s according to an interesting article my husband pointed out to me while constantly reading his iPad. It’s about what motivates you at those specific times of life.


The author of the article, Heidi Grant Halvorson, who is on the cusp of 40, writes:

“Happiness becomes less the high-energy, totally-psyched experience of a teenager partying while his parents are out of town, and more the peaceful, relaxing experience of an overworked mom who’s been dreaming of that hot bath all day. The latter isn’t less “happy” than the former — it’s a different way of understanding what happiness is.

Social psychologists describe this change as a consequence of a gradual shifting from promotion motivation — seeing our goals in terms of what we can gain, or how we can end up better off, to prevention motivation — seeing our goals in terms of avoiding loss and keeping things running smoothly. Everyone, of course, has both motivations. But the relative amounts of each differ from person to person, and can shift with experience as we age.”

I suspect that the place of calm and complacency the author is writing from reflects that she is NOT having a midlife crisis, feeling the need to challenge herself physically by juice cleansing or running a marathon. Or becoming depressed and thinking a drastic career or spousal change will be the answer, or having another kid. This writer, in a vague, non-type A personality kind of way, seems to have what so many of my contemporaries are striving for: some peace and contentment for five minutes. It can be enough that everyone is healthy and safe and playing Junior Monopoly on Saturday nights. So good for her! This is great news and I appreciate the reminder that not everyone is out there being groovy all the time and that as parents we are occasionally allowed to breathe a sigh of relief that things are dull and unremarkable.

I listened to Terry Gross interview Greta Gerwig, 20 something actress and co-writer of “Frances Ha,” where Greta is talking about the moment, shown so beautifully in the film, where a person is a post collegiate mess a bit too long to be charming, and how some people seem to move more gracefully into adulthood than others. This film was excellent at probing that side of being youngish and flailing around, and how murky the experience of driving your life forward can feel. I loved it because it showed a character who couldn’t not be who she was, until she found her unique path, which most of us eventually do.


I guess these pieces of art, this pop song and this film, are two halves of a whole. The Taylor Swift song paints a condensed and uncomplicated version of events, feeling free and happy because things are in front of you and who knows where the night will take you? And the film, “Frances Ha,” is a more lengthy, more intellectual take on this exciting and awkward time of life, more probing, more squeamish and more mortifying in its execution. Both young, female protagonists are searching for answers, hoping vaguely for the future and trying to find the joy in the journey.

I do love when a study in a magazine validates a feeling I’ve been having, which is that getting older, raising kids while watching parents age, and feeling overwhelmed with responsibility at times, can and does have its moments of relaxation and self acceptance, where your happiness can be found in staring into space and listening/watching/saying/doing whatever you want.

We need to congratulate ourselves for the work we’ve done to get to this boring-ish place.

Cue Taylor Swift, and whoever the hell else I want to listen to.

blah blah blah

It’s funny, but not funny. How when things are moving along for me creatively, finally starting to coalesce, when I have some linkage between the hundreds of tabs open in my brain, and I’m about to sit down to tap into those ideas and stories blending and blooming like food coloring in the bathtub, that’s when another crazy fucking tragedy explodes and I’m paralyzed looking at my news feed with an open mouth and tearing eyes.

This feeling: this creeping, seeping, horribleness. It keeps HAPPENING.

This is my 40th year. And things have gotten way adult. The last six months have begat one situation after another, a whole assortment of hurt from every category: Crazy Storms. Gun Violence. A sick parent. And now, an act of terrorism that feels, in its intense personal carnage, like a massive, evil, kick in the kidneys. Because it could happen to any of us, anywhere we go, and we kind of forgot about that for a bit didn’t we?

First I try not to look at the images and read the stories. Then I indulge. And then, I don’t know how to be normal for a few days. I can’t explain these tragic things to myself, why this person, how that person, what if that person ….. so I just smother it out by literally inhaling the innocence of my kids, breathing them in as we cuddle and play and dance to Beyonce.

I have my version of prayer and meditation when things are tough. I have my people I turn to for guidance and to crack open my thoughts: writers and comedians and people I love and all of that helps me grow and laugh and think.

But I am really scared. Times just seem so chaotic. I never know what news my New York Times alert app thing will alert me to when I get off of the train.

I want normalcy. I want my struggles to be about doing best by my loved ones and being happy and productive. But it seems that this fear and this sort of “what now?” is our reality. What will be the next scary thing? How will we adjust to the next one?

I know this is what it felt like for my parents too, as they went through scary times and tried to keep us safe and relatively free from suffering. And I guess that’s the true shift, because now I know they can’t make anything better. And I am in charge of making sure my small underlings are ok and protected by pretending its all going to be ok. I have been passed that particular torch.

I know this feeling will pass, soften, minimize. But the fear/anxiety/anger/sadness combo — it comes on hard, fast, and lately, all too frequently.

This is 40 This is Not Funny

I sat down for our date night movie expecting a respite from the mental sludge I find myself struggling under lately. Said sludge is thick, opaque and a mishmash of Important Big Things: family illness, school shootings, Republicans, hurricanes and Not As Important Smaller Things: I look tired, I want people to read my mind, my hair looks bad. Also, I am tired and my hair looks bad.

Stuff came up for me this summer just before turning 40, so I was hoping Judd Apatow and Company would get at some of those emotions in a funny and relevant way with his film “This is 40.” Being married for eight years, having young kids and retiring aged parents, being somewhat settled on paper but still feeling restless – I’ve found this time of life to be complex and compelling, fascinating and terrifying. A middle place, as its been called. I’m a parent but sometimes wish I could still be a child. I yearn for freedom and want less responsibility but realize I will only have to take on more as the years pass because of my choices and situation.

At 40, I think I have the components of what I want in life but find myself searching, and often feeling disappointed. I have been hearing many variations on the mid-life crisis theme in my own world: several friends questioning their sexuality, for example, one member of a couple becoming an extreme exercise fanatic, yet another losing a ton of weight and getting weird. I’ve heard amazing things: marathons run, television shows produced, books published. And terrible things: Cancer — every minute it seems.

So back to the movie. How was this not funny? What a hilarious time of life right?

Yes, I nudged my husband at many moments that were scripted straight from our morning and evening routines, and laughed a few times at some of the mostly mean spirited jokes and the mocking therapy speak. But it was more of a bitter laugh than a belly laugh. These people were kind of awful. And strangely, every time Apatow had an opportunity for humor he let it end on a thud with something really dark or depressing. There was so much screaming at each other (mom and dad, daughter and daughter, daughter and mom, mom and daughter’s friend, daughter’s friend’s mom and mom) that at least 3 or 4 people walked out of our screening. They couldn’t take it.

People are criticizing “This Is 40” because of the clueless White People Problems of this family. They have money and groovy Hollywood jobs that allow them lots of free time for workouts — cool offices and boutiques with neon signs and ironic employees with mustaches. They drive fancy cars, go to a lovely private school, have personal trainers and houses too large for their needs.

It is hard to feel bad for them as they “struggle” with money, when the implication is that it will all be fine. I think this is mostly a distraction from the examination of a family and its values that could have had resonance. The beautiful house and great stylist Debbie (Leslie Mann) has for her perfect Cali-boho mom look is Hollywood movie crap that won’t trust an audience to deal with real emotions and problems without gloss. It is a missed opportunity to actually examine some of the ways people live beyond their means in order to “keep up”, just as I think Debbie’s focus on her (very beautiful, bordering on perfect) looks do not do any service to the issue of women aging gracefully. Lying about her age in the doctor’s office? That’s just stupid. Who is she, my Grandma Jeannie? And all the supposed jokes about sagging breasts and hemorrhoids and gynecologists and no feeling “down there.” True, yes, but funny? Nope, not funny.

(And by the way, where the hell is the couple from “Knocked Up” and the kid? How about a mention of their whereabouts perhaps? Are they on an ashram in India or is that the next prequel/sequel?)

I think this movie really tried. Tried to be meaningful and honest by examining mid life and being in the middle place and blaming your parents and ultimately forgiving them. Trying not to be a hag (wife) or be checked out on the IPad playing Scrabble (husband) and being grateful for what you have (children, everyone in the movie). It wanted to say something about our culture’s bi-polar desires for indulgence and then self-improvement without wanting to do any really difficult, sustaining work.

And it’s bothering me because if this movie was marketed as a comedy as the trailer for it falsely did, then it at least should have been entertaining and better edited. Either that, or be a freaking documentary, with some normal looking people and the actual dullness of real life. I’m annoyed that if the tone decided upon by the director and editor was to be mostly insufferable for 2 plus hours, that that fact should have been plainly stated in the brochure: WARNING: THIS MOVIE IS NOT FUNNY. NOT WORTH IT FOR YOUR VERY RARE DATE NIGHTS.

But the real problem with this movie is a lack of true goodness in this couple you are supposed to care about and that my husband and I would want to hang out with on a double date. I wouldn’t want to have dinner with Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann’s characters, because I know they’d be talking shit on us after the date. But I would like to know who her dermatologist is and who does her hair and fashion styling and how she buys all those workout clothes and pays the decorator and the housekeeper without knowing there isn’t money in the bank.

So maybe this is the point of the film. Distractions are good because they keep us from getting at the thing that’s difficult: life’s a bitch and then you turn 40 and then eventually, after a not so hilarious doctor’s office montage set to cool music by Fiona Apple and Ryan Adams, you die.

anniversary university

Today is the day Evan and I married 8 years ago. It was dazzling and exhilarating and lives on as the most glamorous and narcissistic thing we’re likely to do. I’ve never looked glossier or been bossier. Champagne flowed. Evan wrote me a song. There was klezmer, funk and filet. I’ll never forget how breathless I felt gazing out from under the chuppah over our sea of peeps and knowing it was all downhill from there.

Anniversaries of wedding days are weird, because as the years stretch on the two events have so little to do with each other. Marinating in the memories of your wedding is like re-watching a well produced movie version of your life, where things are honed and planned and people paid to cater and flower. While celebrating another year wed is like is bingeing on a reality show shot with an iphone — sloppy, inconsistent, hilarious, cozy and tedious. With poor editing.

I’m just happy to be here, honestly. I feel blessed that we’ve made it this far. There’s so much heartbreak and difficulty just trying to be in the world and be a good person and just staying LUCKY that I can’t believe I have someone to not talk to while watching Friday Night Lights.

And I do treasure being married. It usually means there’s one person to do the stuff you don’t want to do, until you realize neither of you is actually going to fix the garbage disposal or clean the drain and that just sucks. I’m actually shocked that there is a man in New York who puts up with my terrible driving and temper and hasn’t left me for a younger model.

Every story of a marriage you thought was ok failing is definitely a reality check, like a kick in the stomach. The Amy Poehlers and Will Arnetts, Danny Devitos and Rhea Perlmans and every couple everywhere who can’t take one more day of each other. Not the end of the world of course, but dispiriting none the less. But what to do? You gulp, self examine, and then make dinner. What is the alternative?

I guess marriage is a mash-up of many possible high school extracurricular activities: debate team, musical theater, long distance running club, and detention. So of course sometimes, with all those things to keep up with and attend to, all you really want to do is hang out by the smokestack and cut class.


It’s fall, my very bestest time, and the season I most associate with being a productive citizen of New York City. I feel September shining on my face and pulsing through my heart – motivating me toward action on the one hand, and reflection on the other. I want to train for a marathon, go to a reading at the 92nd Street Y, eat something braised in a restaurant. Meditate.

(I also want to buy brown boots and a small black cross body purse that’s perfect for day but works at night.)

My children are sweet and small and delightful, but their presence has mostly eaten away at these nostalgic cultural montage shots of me lingering in bookstores, going to museums, learning something new that isn’t about where to take gymnastics or swimming after school. In the past 5 years I haven’t even gotten my shit together enough to get online on the day to buy tickets to The New Yorker Festival.

But suddenly, just as August slipped into September, I started feeling the fall fever. BAM. MOMA. WTF. TAL. Publishing. Music. Theater. Comedy. Radio.

I want back in.

So last night I forced Evan to get home early from work, skipped the second night of Rosh HaShannah entirely, and got myself to a bookstore a full hour and a half early to see my favorite writer read from his new novel. It felt like an epic motivation, and as usual I felt guilty for some vague reason, this time having to do with the lack of apples and honey for the kids, not doing enough to reinforce Jewish values in the home, etc.

I arrived to find a bunch of other nerds camped out against the wall to stake their claim, and I was overwhelmed with the thought of how much time I used to have to arrive somewhere early for a free event and just …. hang out and read my book, talk to strangers until it started. I met this adorable kid from Wisconsin who had just graduated from high school and is in his freshman year at Fordham. It was his first Brooklyn! We talked about Dave Eggers and Jonathan Franzen and Jennifer Egan. He was coming back for Salman Rushdie on Saturday. He was young enough to have the brain cells be able to quote lines from The Mysteries of Pittsburgh. He was the cutest ever but could actually be my son.

When Michael Chabon showed up I had that feeling I used to have when I worked in publishing and got to see an author I admired up close. At first it’s kind of awkward because everyone is there to get a glimpse and a taste, so there’s that worshipful, almost creepy vibe, and there’s the super chipper book publicist and the nervous bookstore clerk introduction of him, and he doesn’t really know where to look, and you’re standing in front of him because you got there early and you feel like you know him because you follow his wife on Twitter.

And as he read this incredible passage from “Telegraph Avenue,” I got almost a sexual charge because he is so talented and his dialogue and descriptions so delicious that it was truly a shiny special moment. I reflected back to all of those readings I went to in my 20’s and 30’s and I realized that I remembered every single one. These writers that I love — these Jennifer Egans and TC Boyles and David Foster Wallaces and John Irvings, they really are my true pleasure, and how totally thrilling is it that they continue writing and I get reap the benefits? So simple and obvious, but I really felt lucky grateful to them in that moment.

I stuck around until the very end to get my book signed and I got to meet him and talk to him for a moment about growing up in Pittsburgh. Just getting to connect with that brain, and see that awesome hair up close, even for under a minute — I’ll never forget it. That’s culture baby. That’s September.

i once was a girl

I haven’t been mistaken for a girl in a while. People trying to get my attention who don’t know me call me ma’am, lady, miss, or hey you tired looking female person. I’m no girl, and most days I’m good with that.

But I very much cherish the show “Girls.” I think it’s moving and totally unexpected. The characters remind me of all the curious, honest and narcissist New Yorkers I know and love — evocative combinations of some of my most favorite people. The writing and acting are both spot on. For better or worse, this is how girls who like each other talk to each other. “Girls” perfectly showcases how being in your 20’s is an exhilarating but equally horrifying time.

The show and creator Lena Dunham have been getting some great reviews, but also getting slammed for various reasons. From nepotism to the lack of racial diversity amongst the characters, to it being depressing, to the fact that these spoiled characters need to “Get a job!” I am confused by why people seem so pissed of about the show. I don’t really want to defend myself for liking it. People who don’t want to watch it or want to complain that it only got made because of Brian Williams and David Mamet are bitter and shouldn’t watch it. But they’ll miss hearing an amazingly formed voice bend around some serious funny. I’ve listened to a lot of interviews with this girl/woman and she is a girls’ girl, in that she has an open mind and is willing to put herself out there in ballsy way. And one of the most awesome things is that she’s not on TV because she’s hot. She’s on TV because she’s smart, funny and fearless.

(Ok, so I guess I am defending it).

But really, how great was it on this most recent episode when Hannah was at the doctor and they called out her weight (and it wasn’t 111 pounds), and she said something like: “Actually, I had my belt on.” I mean, who hasn’t thought or even said that?! And the humorless doctor/nurse was perfect.

The characters are so talky and therapized and 70’s Woody Allenish! I love the way the Allison Williams character is so pretty and poised and has the good entry level job and so therefore is the responsible one making the STD and abortion appointments at the women’s clinic, and of course has the really cute doting boyfriend probably also with a great job who probably just got his first book deal or whatever at age 25. And yet, she’s unhappy and unfulfilled and annoyed with Jessa (the British one) for being so Joni Mitchell-ish and getting to wear floaty pants and floppy hats. While Jessa is miserable and caught up in her own novelistic drama that she created by being irresponsible and self absorbed? And Hannah’s job interview where she let herself get comfortable and flirty enough to make a rape joke? Cringe-worthy in the best “Louie” way.

Far from being a flip show about people who are unlikeable, I think “Girls” is really deep and emotional and trying to get to the root of what it means to be an independent person in the world, flailing around trying to figure out what you think everyone else already knows. Dunham elegantly shows us how women put up with a lot of terrible things in relationships in order to have a few pathetic grasps of good feeling that come from being desired or desirable – I’d say that’s something a lot of women can relate to. It definitely struck a chord with me.

“I almost came,” Hannah says hopefully, after having silly, disappointing sex – because that’s exactly what would have happened in that situation. She’d convince herself it was ok because he got off, and even offered her a sports drink afterwards. And then she’d go talk it over with her friends on a bench with some frozen dairy treat made from questionable chemicals. And then, the vapid friend, the one who might be in law school and still wears Juicy sweatsuits, would whip out some stupid book similar to “The Rules” and quote from it earnestly. Yep, pretty much.

I love this show because it reflects a moment in a time that is so fertile with material, but also so heinous to live through. I’m so relieved to be out of there personally, but grateful to artists/thinkers “wunder”whatevers like Lena Dunham. I’m so excited to hear more from someone this young and this good.


friends with kids

Have you seen this movie yet? Jon Hamm and his sexy ass frat guy hotness? Awww yeah.

What? Erm. Sorry. Ok, yes. So this movie “Friends With Kids” takes place partially in a Brooklyn village neighboring mine and contains verbatim conversations I’ve overheard from my colleagues, the Brooklyn parent people. The supporting characters are exaggerated versions of folks in my world, so it’s funny, sad and cringe worthy because the behaviors are so familiar. The haggy and angry mothers bitching at the clueless or confused dads. The needy kids who don’t seem appealing because they aren’t yours. The judgment by the pre-breeder main characters of the have-breds and vice versa read like parenting blog comments come to life on screen.

The film is primarily about how people with (small) kids have a hard time keeping love and sex and even “like” in their lives after the invasion by the littles. How some couplings survive the stresses and remember why they wanted to do this, and how some simply cannot. And asks the question: can the disintegration of passion in a relationship with the addition of kids to the mix can be avoided with some type of creativity? Also, where do the kids fit into all of this? They will, after all, eventually be people someday as well.

Ironically, I wanted a break from the stresses of my own Brooklyn first world problems, so I went to see it in the middle of the day, alone. And I’ve been chewing it over ever since. The film really captures that its difficult, impossible even, to understand what it’s like to have a family, until you do. And once you do, you can’t imagine choosing that prior life without them – even though you miss your old life desperately and kind of dread and often resent the overall scary responsibility of the day-to-day new family version. (And by “you” here I mean “me.”)

It also got me thinking about navigating friendships. Childhood friends, pre-kid friends, work friends, mommy/daddy friends, new couple friends, — so many complicated friendships emerge and disintegrate as we settle down and spread into a community.

I’ve always had a lot of friends and felt confident in my ability to nurture these relationships. It has been important to the idea of my best self that I’m a person who puts friendships first and is considerate of others’ feelings and needs. But with the complexities of small people who rely on me, demand my mental and physical short and long term focus, I’m finding certain friendship situations to be challenging.

It makes sense. We all have our own craziness going on. We are at the center of our own lives, obviously, and as empathetic as I want to be towards others, it’s my own crap I have to face when I have the time to confront it. It’s an obvious concept that everyone has some mania brewing on a given random day when you see them in an elevator. And yet, I forget.

So after a few confrontations with friends in the past few weeks, and feeling like I’ve disappointed others, I’m trying to figure out how to move through these yucky moments. I need my friends. And they need me. We are tied together by history and nostalgia and commitment, and we need to wrestle and fight to keep these bonds strong. Friends with older kids, younger kids, friends with no kids. We are all doing our best for each other.

fun on a stick

Nothing says sexy like a man and wife holding black leather satchels and twin Muji umbrellas, walking into a Toyota dealer to test drive a Prius wagon.

It’s like the opening to an urban legend told round the fireplace where the couple gets kidnapped, or the beginning of an embarrassing joke your uncle tells at Passover – just add a rabbi and some lightbulbs.

But for me and Evan, it was Thursday.

11th Avenue in Manhattan, roughly between 48th Street and 55th Streets is a bizarre corridor, where a slew of car dealerships occupy giant showrooms within walking distance. There’s also Larry Flynt’s Hustler club, some gross delis, and the studio where “The Daily Show” is taped. It’s a creepy and random area, especially on the dreariest, Marchiest day fathomable. But a good place to go look at cars if yours dies, mostly because you can take the subway there. Also, if you hang out on 11th Avenue long enough it feels like you are on drugs.

Oh, the fun we had, strolling in and out of dealers, waiting interminably while car salesmen said indecipherable things to us, then driving up the Westside Highway and back down West End Avenue in several vehicles. It took 7 hours. We ate no meals. We drank coffee and ate almonds and bananas instead, not wanting to pause in this disorienting experience of entering a building, talking to a guy, then waiting and driving and waiting and peeing and waiting. It felt like we were running a marathon of boringness. We talked to guys named Joey. We talked to guys named Darnell. We talked to guys named Chang. We admired waterfalls in the Range Rover area. We watched salesmen circle the floor like lions, and receptionist ladies with clickety-clackety nails flutter behind counters. We saw fake plants, fake marble, and real fish tanks. Our sinuses experienced new heights of air freshening.

At one point we walked into Nissan to compare a Murano to a Rogue, and a Scenario to a Sierra, or perhaps it was a CZX 65 to a ZW 3.14. A very shifty Latina man with the loudest “rhumba” ring tone I’ve ever heard hustled us over to a “pre-owned” version of the car we were looking for, and then promptly trotted off. As we sat in the smoke encrusted car from 2009 wondering where the hell he had gone, he reappeared with a signed head shot of Liza Minelli from 1990. “That car belonged to her assistant!” he exclaimed triumphantly. “She used to do errands for her in that car. Only 300 miles on there!” We tried to imagine what would make him think that Liza Minelli’s dry cleaning would interest us. We wondered if he had different head shots for different people – and did we look like Liza fans?

And then we decided it best to go.

There was Johnny, the spiky haired knuckle dragger with the spray tan and giant diamond earring at Chevy/Jeep/Chrysler. He wove us through the most enormous lot filled with cars being parked and repaired, and then couldn’t find that damn Chevy Equinox. He swore it was just there! It was like his white whale SUV. After almost getting hit by a minivan (never!), we thought it best to go.

When you get married, it’s the best you’ll ever look — all fancy and fabulous and glamorous and fun party party. But so much of being married is doing really boring adult shit in ugly and depressing places. Signing forms and figuring out numbers and making sure the dishwasher gets unloaded. And I think, I hope, if you’re still laughing and trying to figure out how to recover conversationally when a 22 year old sales guy is sitting in the backseat while you are trying to merge, tells you that he flipped his own SUV at 5 am after drinking and falling asleep at the wheel, well, I think you’re good. You’re still having some kind of an adventure, finding the funny in the terribly dull and weird. As mind numbing an adventure it is – you’re in it together. And it’s strangely awesome.

So, technically, you’re a boring yuppie with your stupid raincoats.

But still totally sexy.

we are all the same

The other day we were all at this kiddie enrichment place. Z takes ballet there and they have free “open play” in their beautiful gym facility, which we try and take advantage of in order to justify the silly money we pay for classes there. That means getting online weeks in advance to reserve spots for the two of them, and then getting up there by 9ish on a Saturday morning, something we are not fabulous at doing. I always swear I’ll get the diaper bag ready the night before. The same with getting Z ready for school during the week – packing her lunch and laying our her outfit before she goes to bed. Say I’m gonna. Don’t do.

I’m frenzied on these Saturday mornings — grabbing 4 different satchels and cramming snacks, Ziploc bagged sippy cups and ballet clothes into to each one of them, not eating or drinking a thing besides 3 cups of coffee, and feeling like a complete freak for not being able to get my act together by 9:00 am – given that I’ve been awake for hours. This whole ritual kind of sucks, and I would say 7 out 10 mornings E and I end up fighting about who is winning the most annoying spouse contest. But once we get to the place and the 80’s hits are pumping, the kids start frolicking and E goes out and gets coffees and bagels, all the hustle is worth it. Both kids get an activity before noon when we have to get back for M to lunch and nap, and then it’s the reward of chill time for the rest of us.

This Kiddie Club is a funny scene. It’s a posh crowd, and many of the kids have names that for some reason irk me, which I won’t name here in case you have also named your kid Schmoopie or Schmoopae, but let’s just say on a morning that I’m feeling cranky, the names and inevitable tantrums, plus the sing-songing voices of the parents can wear on a gal.

Which is what happened the other day. My irritation did not stay at home with the breakfast dishes, strewn about clothes and plastic toy chaos, but travelled with me to kiddie enrichment place. I truthfully don’t know exactly why E and I were publicly hissing at each other about who got to eat their bagel sandwich, getting napkins wet with coffee cups that still had coffee in them, and who was or wasn’t chasing M into the toilets over and over, but there we were. Certainly not our finest moment.

Seething, I sat down to eat my cold bagel sandwich, and a woman I had seen carrying a wild haired toddler while trying to corral a second child in and out of a coat, stroller, leotard, etc, came running up to me breathlessly, plunked a business card down on the table and said: “We have to hang out. We have the exact same life.”

Now this is certainly something I have fantasized about doing. Seeing another mom who looks or seems or sounds a certain way, it is tempting to want to be pals with this person. I have plenty of friends and acquaintances and people to talk to from all facets of my life – some parents and some not, but for me there is the lure of this person out there in the universe who is your momfriend soulmate, who is cool and honest and not weird and competitive, you have no baggage with and perhaps your kids are exactly the same age and on the same schedules?

We don’t like to think so, because it dilutes our coolness or our specialness, but we are all just archetypes acting out rituals that parents have been doing forever. Maybe we vary in socio-economic status and the modern trappings that go along with having families, but here in our Brooklyn village we do appear to have similar lives. We have struggles and victories that matter, that are not trite or surface. But we also have the same annoying conversations about where to eat lunch and who is going to take the boots to the shoemaker, and worry about how much time we let our toddlers play with our phones. Of course some of us have deeper problems and secrets, but on a Saturday morning at 10:10 am, we are mostly just trying to get though the day without losing our minds.

What had this woman seen or heard that gave her the chutzpah to want to connect with me in this way? I actually love that she noticed that we were probably being ridiculous, and that the whole idea of a kiddie enrichment place is kind of ridiculous, and that by laughing and noticing and reaching out, she was making her morning a little better.

My interest is piqued. I think I’ll call.

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