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Jewish Journal

Privileged White Girl Problems

by Tamara Shayne Kagel

December 9, 2011 | 11:28 am

Tonight, I hate the world.  And in accordance with cliché, I don’t even understand why.  My boyfriend called me tonight and by the time I got the message I had about a fifteen minute window to call him back before he went to sleep; I let it pass so that I didn’t have to talk to him while I was in this mood.  I figure that’s probably a good idea considering I could feel myself about to pick a fight with him.  I was going to test him by telling him I want to name the four daughters I plan on having after my favorite cheeses: Brie, Camembert, Roquefort, and Tallegio.  I might be willing to compromise if he wanted to replace one with a Gruyere or an Asiago, but if he pushed back, I was all ready to make a big deal about him being a slave to convention.

I know how crazy this sounds.  But sometimes, it’s hard to help.  Maybe it’s the holidays.  Maybe it’s the end of the year.  But with all this forced commercialized cheer and focus on things coming to an “end,” if you are not completely satisfied with where your life is, the holidays can be a brutal angry time dominated by self-loathing.  I’ve spent this week hating a recent haircut and simultaneously annoyed with everyone for not noticing, frustrated with myself for not finishing my work, angry at my printer for breaking, angry at everyone I knew in Santa Monica for not having a stupid scanner.  Angry at myself for going to holiday parties instead of exercising, angry at myself for not going to all the holiday parties I was supposed to.  I’m mad I stayed up way too late last night reading Christopher Hitchens and I’m also furious at myself for being unable to finish his entire four part series on cancer last year.  So essentially, I just hate myself and I’m inconsolable about this.  Actually, if you are my friend and you try to console me, I will be unreasonably irritated with you for trying. 

I wish I had a really good reason for all of this right now but I don’t.  If I had to guess I would wager that it has something to do with a general dissatisfaction with where my life is right now.  Last year on New Year’s Eve, I remember precisely what my resolution was.  I wished that in the year 2011, I would fall in love.  I was finally in a place in my life where I was healed from the previous exes who had hurt me and I was willing to open myself up enough to risk heartache and let love into my life.  Normally I think resolutions are stupid but I stopped judging myself for wanting it this time and I just let myself wish for love over and over.  And lo behold against all odds, my wish came true.  Not that long after, I did fall in love.  But it didn’t fix everything. Love wasn’t the only thing that was missing from my life.  And so now, despite the fact that I’m in love with a great guy, I am still succumbing to the omnipresent malaise I felt last year.

In my junior year of college, I was in this elite fiction writing class, culminating in a short story that served as our final.  I wrote about this girl Audrey who drove around in a Snapple ad-wrapped VW bug searching for something at garage sales.  I had a great professor, Sheila Donahue, and she seemed to think that my early versions of the story had great promise.  So when I finally finished and turned in my last draft, I thought I had written something to turn the world of fiction on its head.  I got a B+ I think.  It might have even been a B.  Prof. Donahue wrote a long critique on the back of my story where she essentially said I had gotten the ending wrong.  I was surprised because I had planned on this ending from the inception of the idea, but she pointed out the myriad of reasons it didn’t work.  You see, my story was predominantly about Audrey’s back-story told through the objects she buys and sells at garage sales, all while she was on a quest for this one particular object.  In the very end at the last garage sale, she meets a man who of course has her holy grail and I alluded to their happiness ever after.  But Professor Donahue rightfully called me out on this.  Audrey had never been searching for a man or a relationship.  The whole story was about her journey to find this ‘thing’ and I chose a cheap and somewhat sexist out by writing that the only thing she really needed to find was a man.  Once she found the man, she had everything she needed, literally he proffered the object she was looking for, the end.  But why did Audrey need a guy anyway?  The entire story had never mentioned her love life and yet the second she falls in love, she finds her special object and it’s all over.  No wonder my professor was disappointed in me.  And of course, the moment I read those words from her glaring up at me in thin red ink, I realized her criticism was unintentionally an indictment of me.  The reason I had Audrey fall in love at the end of the story was because I wanted to fall in love.  I was waiting for love to come to me and fix me.  I was ignoring the rest of the complicated and interesting story because I was so desperate for true romantic love in my life that I just unquestionably believed it would solve everything.  Love was all anyone ever needed.  Or so I thought.

You would think that because I had been in love before, this time around, I would know how little it really solves.  But the beginning of every great romance is so majestic, so consuming, and so beautiful that even though you know it’s not going to fix everything, you often have a hard time remembering what your problems were before.  I’ve been dating Mr. Dreamboat for ten months now and been in love for most of it.  But it’s also been long enough for me to stop floating around on air and to realize that the rest of my complicated messy life still exists.  Falling in love didn’t make all of that go away.  And so now that I can feel my feet firmly back on the ground, I need to take the bull by the horns and figure out the rest of my life instead of ignoring my inevitable and welcome responsibilities.  And perhaps, I’ve been putting this off for a while.  Facing it, means facing dissatisfaction with myself and my life at this stage of the game.  And that’s making me really frustrated.  And also kind of hate the world.  I know what I have to do, but sometimes it feels like so much work, it seems easier to put it all off and stay depressive.  I mean, if he really loves me, won’t he just go with Roquefort?

But alas, I know it’s time to end my self-pitying.  I’m getting sworn into the CA State Bar today and I’ll complete my yoga teacher training certification next week.  I will officially not be a student of anything for the first time in a while.  It’s time to kick my life into high gear.  And although love hasn’t made that fact go away, I’m hoping that maybe it will make it a little easier for me to find what I am looking for.


Tamara Shayne Kagel is a writer living in Santa Monica, CA. To find out more about her, visit www.tamarashaynekagel.com and follow her on twitter @tamaraskagel. © Copyright 2011.

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