There is some unwritten statute of limitations on how long one can whine about a crappy childhood, a negligent parent, a few too many chicken pot pies, summers with the grandparents, days spent on Greyhound buses and with dubious caregivers and creepy neighbors. There is just a moment in an adult’s life when the complaining and sad-sacking about how our parents got divorced, or lost custody, or bailed, or otherwise stank up the joint is just kind of pathetic. Let’s face it, that moment had come and gone for me.
I had to look inside myself, which was kind of like looking into my high school locker: moldy half-eaten sandwich, a few loose Starburst candies, heaps of notebooks and burrito-stained gym clothes obscuring the few things of value. Sure, there’s a book of Sylvia Plath poems and a valid bus pass, but good luck finding them while avoiding that festering tuna salad from yesteryear.
This moment that is supposed to be about eternal union is more about capturing eternal beauty in a photo that's going to be mounted in the living room so everyone can silently think, "Man, she used to be a lot thinner."
In my now perhaps exceedingly long life as a single woman, I've lived in both New York and Los Angeles.
If you've ever tried to split a Big Hunk candy bar -- the kind made out of brittle white nougat and peanuts -- then you understand a typical breakup.
I'm drinking at a bar called the Dirty Horse on Hollywood Boulevard. Well, that's not the real name, but I never got a look at the sign and that name seemed right.
My neurosis is like a Ferrari. I can go from 0 to 60 in under four seconds.
Another woman has come into my relationship with my boyfriend, and she's the best thing that's ever happened to us.
A week ago, a 22-year-old Japanese foreign exchange student named Mari moved in with us for the month while she studies English in the morning and hip-hop dances in the afternoon.
Is our culture trying to scam us into having kids?
This is an epic question and I only have 850 words, so let me start close to home, with my grandma.
"Listen to me," she said last week over the phone from Reseda. "You have to have kids. You'll never regret it. It's the best thing you'll ever do. Listen to your grandma."
Catch any celebrity parent on a talk show and you're likely to hear the same sentiment about the singularly life-changing effects of parenthood. When Jude Law, Eminem, Denise Richards and Esther Strasser agree on something, you have to give it consideration.
In one night, I had dinner at an all-you-can eat salad bar in Arcadia, met my father's first girlfriend in 25 years and weathered a nearly disastrous poetry emergency.
Sound the onomatopoetic sirens; this thing was a relationship 911. Free verse was about to cost my father the best relationship of his life. And it was my fault. What rhymes with "Zero tact"?
So there I was, sitting across the table from dad's new girlfriend, trying to impress her, using my best table manners, eating forkfuls of canned beets on my self-consciously dainty salad and thinking to myself: "This is just weird."
Love is a beautiful thing. That is, unless it happens to a couple of excessively famous people whose affair we can no longer stand.
The term "boyfriend" is like the knee joint on someone who is morbidly obese. It is being asked to do way more than it was designed to do. It is buckling under the pressure. Where it once could do the job, it is now carrying too much weight
I was headed into a pizza joint for a slice when I noticed a guy whose face looked eerily familiar. I couldn't place him but he gave me a subtle nod, frat-boy style.
Just as I snapped my head back to make sure it actually was the dude from "Average Joe," he was craning his head back, too.
This edition of letters: Silverlake JCC; Teresa Heinz Kerry and Israel; and Teresa Strasser's missing mojo.
Women love bad boys. Nice guys finish last.
Welcome to the most damaging and far-flung myth ever to hit the dating world.
What is it like to be one of People Magazine's 50 Most Beautiful People? I have no idea.
I walk into each new hotel room, look at it suspiciously, shake its clammy hand and gingerly put my suitcase down.
I knew better. I had about as much business being there as an elderly tourist has of being on Skid Row after midnight with a map in his hand and a blank cashier's check taped to his forehead. I was in grave danger of a psychological mugging, and I knew it.
I kept telling myself to walk away, hail an emotional cab and get out fast, but I couldn't. The pull was too strong. I had to know.
Am I annoying?
The 2002 Simon Rockower Awards
It happened fast, like swerving out of the way of a stray cat.
I was driving toward the valet parking kiosk of a fancy-pants department store in Beverly Hills. As I approached, I saw clusters of press and well-dressed young women gathered to attend a charity brunch. A Mercedes was coming to a slow stop.
I don't know what made me do it; I took a sharp left, veering away from the valet kiosk and into an adjacent public lot.
You don't plan to become a trivia writer, it just happens. The next thing you know, you're a one-woman trivia carnival, packing up your trunk of battered almanacs and dictionaries and moving on to the next show.
Let the courts decide who gets custody of kids. What I want to know is, who gets custody of the coffee shop? The grocery store? The brunch place?
As I write this, I look like James Coburn eating a lemon in a windstorm. Drunk. Not only does my face look red and crackly, it must be covered at all times with a Vaseline-like lotion, thick and greasy, giving me the appearance of someone who has just eaten a pork chop with no hands. And I lack Mr. Coburn's panache.
Letters to the Editor.
In second grade, my alternative San Francisco elementary school gathered all the students together for a "share" session. It was a tiny school. We crowded into the library, where a teacher calmly announced that there had been a tragedy over the weekend.
Last night, I was watching "Big Brother," a show mocked for its lack of action. Call me crazy, but to me, it's Chekhov; it's all about the subtext. Anyway, a contestant named Bunky was voted out of the house last week. That's when I realized that slowly, quietly, the new breed of reality shows is causing a revolution.
Letters to the Editor.
I remember what I was wearing on just about every first date with every boyfriend I've ever had.
Girl meets boy. Girl falls in love with boy. Girl stops returning her friend's phone calls. Girl's world narrows. Girl loses boy. Girl starts calling her friends again. Girl meets another boy.
Bunny. Das-tardly Bunny. Stupid stuffed, fluffy gift from his ex-girlfriend. Bunny, you've enjoyed life on his pillow for awhile, but now you must die. Bunny must die.
This is what I thought as I tossed Bunny out the window of his bedroom last week. You see, there's something cute about a man with a stuffed animal, but when I realized they used to call each other "Bunny," it was all too much. Bunny, though cute, was a symbol of a love that had already hippity-hopped on by.
To all the people who've invited me to events with those two fateful words, "And Guest," I apologize. I'm sorry you have to look through your wedding or shower or Bar Mitzvah photos and say, "Who's that?" when looking at my date.
I'm doing my laundry on Christmas Eve. The Ebenezer Scrooges who own my building see fit to provide only one dryer for all the residents.
It used to be that you had to take a guy's word for it. Now, all you need is a good search engine.
They say you can never go home again.
Well, you can. Only you might find yourself staying at a Travelodge, driving a rented Ford Contour and staking out your childhood home like some noir private eye just trying to catch a glimpse of the Johnny-come-latelys that are now living in your house.
It was an innocent batch of chocolate chip cookies that started what I've come to call "The Great Gift-Giving War."
Once you spill your guts, they're a little hard to mop up.
Something quite unexpected has happened to my musical taste. I've gone country.
When I have things to write, I suddenly seem to have things to read. Yahoo online stock profiles for example, of stocks I don't own, because I don't own any stocks.
First date. He agrees to see a movie about ballet instead of "Gladiator." You're heartened by this early sacrifice.
After the movie, he drags you along to a friend's birthday dinner at some Italian sounding restaurant on Sunset. On the way he gets aggravated about the traffic. This, you count against him.You try to be charming around his friends, as you realize you're on display and want to be seen as someone with good social skills. He reaches way across the table for bread. This, you remember your aunt used to call "boarding house reach." You also count this against him.
He sees to it immediately that you get a shot of ouzo, a Greek liquor he says will be good for your cold. It is. This erases the traffic temper and the reaching, which persists.
Some days, you really don't feel like taking the high road.
Take today, for example, when I read a letter from a reader named Molly (not her real name). Maybe I just wasn't ready to deal with this total stranger who seems to have taken a keen but rather unpleasant interest in me. Maybe I just hadn't had my coffee yet, and my mind was like a dozen unmade beds and half-baked ideas and I wasn't standing firm enough not to be blown over by the sheer force of this person's meanness.
At that moment, the high road was looking mighty unappealing.
Phobia: 1. A compulsive or persistent fear of any specified type of object, stimulus or situation. 2. An exaggerated or persistent dread of or aversion to.
Sitting in the front row of the McCadden Theater in Hollywood was my personal pit of snakes. I would rather be buried alive, in the dark, on top of a skyscraper covered with mice than be reviewed. But there he was, a theater critic from Backstage West trade paper, perched right in the front row to review my one-woman show.
It started out innocently enough. Some burning. Uncomfortable urination. A couple of weeks pass, and I'm starting to feel like my bladder is on fire and all the cranberry juice in Vons isn't going to put out the flames.
Busted flat in Barstow, I realize the desert is no place for an old Plymouth. The mechanic says something about "a machine shop in Victorville," and I think that is one phrase you never want to hear in a sentence with your name. That and "feeding tube."
Ever since I moved to Los Angeles, I've been completely lost.
No, I don't mean spiritually or emotionally. I mean literally. I've been lost for pretty much two straight years.
I don't know how to tell you this, but I think it's over.
I don't want you to take it personally. It's not you; it's me. I just need some time to get my head together. I just need to find out who I am without you in my life. After 28 years, I just need to move on.
One recent day, all was right with the world. I was the master of the details in my universe. I had arranged to pay my bills online, lugged five pairs of shoes in to be shined and reheeled, picked up my dry cleaning, bought stamps.
When an important local rabbi invited me to his house for Shabbat dinner to discuss my column -- which he doesn't like -- I was appalled. How patronizing, I thought, to summon me to his home so that he can tell me, with home-court advantage, to change what I do.
They were actors, set designers, writers, studio secretaries, directors. Now they're residents of the Motion Picture Retirement Home, a placid place tucked into a sleepy Woodland Hills neighborhood and dense with stories of Hollywood past.
I wake up early, groggily slapping the snooze button and hating the outfit I've picked out the night before. When I go to brush my teeth, I'm frightened by the sight of a hideous pimple that seems to be taking over the left side of my face. A familiar sense of dread comes over me. I have to go to Sunday school. Well, I don't have to go; I'm choosing to go. I'm going back to Sunday school to find out if it's as bad as I remember it.
I'm not mental. Really. I'm not manic-depressive,hypomanic, borderline schizophrenic or psychotic. I don't hear voicesor imagine I'm being followed by Marie Osmond. I don't have tics or acompulsive need to wash my hands or avoid cracks in thesidewalk.
Like a lot of people, I could just use someone totalk to. That's all. I figure it can't hurt.
After all, my family is like a Who's Who of mentalillness.
At 16, I was so uncomfortable in my own skin that my daily outfit of choice was a drab army jumpsuit I bought at a thrift store. It zipped up to my chin, and that almost wasn't far enough forme.
Usually, I'm so used to the clutter that has accumulated inmy 1986 Honda Civic that I don't even notice it. Now and again,however, I squint and think to myself, "Why am I seated in a mobilegarbage can?"
I am standing in the doorway looking at my first blind date, I'mthinking: somebody could have said something about -- how do I saythis tactfully -- his face.
There's nothing so intoxicating as when a mentor singles you out,shining the warm light of approval all over you.
It seems you can't throw a cat without hitting a story about Monica Lewinsky, the former White House intern who may or may no thave engaged in untoward relations with President Clinton. We maynever know exactly what transpired between the two, but it has captured the world's attention more than any other of the president's alleged dalliances with the opposite sex.
I love basketball. Not as in, I love Neil Diamond,I hum along when he's on the radio. No.
I remember coming home from my first date witha boy.