Paul and I are getting married in approximately two months, and this is what people call crunch time. This also means that people around us are saying and doing all kinds of weird…stuff. Below, I briefly summarise some of the things that people are saying to me, and how I am responding…and how I wish I could respond. I am sure these things will be familiar to anyone who has ever been married. Ever.

1) The Fun Part

What people say: Only two months to go! How is planning going?

What I say: We’re down to the really fun part now!

What I mean: There is no such thing as “the fun part.” I am living a very expensive version of Hell.

2) Family Planning

What people say: So are you and Paul going to start a family right away? Are you guys already trying? What’s your timeline?

What I say: Oh, we’re still talking about all that!

What I mean: That you for your incredibly rude interest in my vagina. How is your reproductive tract doing? Do you think you want to have any more children? When was the last time you and your wife even had sex?

3) Plus 47

What people say: I noticed you didn’t invite our three kids on the envelope, so we’re just going to RSVP for the five of us. Also, what’s your childcare plan at the reception? We want to get drunk and dance, and Janie and Junior won’t go to sleep for a babysitter so it’s best that they just stay with us all night.

What I say: …

What I mean: Are you kidding me right now?

4) Plus Canine

What people say: Is the venue dog friendly? I noticed you didn’t invite Rover on the envelope, and he loves Roo so much.

What I say: …

What I mean: Are you kidding me right now?

5) Vegan Caveman

What people say: We noticed that your RSVP card didn’t specify menu choices and we only eat vegan, paleo, Bulletproof meals. What’s the best way for us to communicate our preferences to the venue, or will you do that for us?

What I say: I am sure we can work something out.

What I mean: How is that even A Thing?

6) Flora & Fauna

What people say: Can you tell me what flowers you’re having at your wedding? I have seasonal allergies, and I need an accounting of all floral products before we can decide whether we are attending.

What I say: I am sure we can work something out.

What I mean: Please stay home.

7) Benefits?

What people say: We are considering attending your wedding but we need to understand what’s in it for us…

What I say: (this is actually a real thing someone said to me, verbatim) …

What I mean: Kindly piss off.

8) Miss Manners

What people say: We want to attend, but we are not sure we can condone your second big white wedding. We will have to get back to you on this.

What I say: (this is another thing someone actually said to me) Please let me know either way before October 15th.

What I mean: Look, we’re getting married at a restaurant that’s quite difficult to book. If the taste of your moral victory is better than a free Michelin star meal, that’s your problem, not mine.

My only explanation for any of this is that weddings bring out the worst in people.

I don’t eat radishes, except when I’m at the Palm. It’s one of my rituals. Rituals are important.   – Larry King
The New York Times Magazine

I am sitting in my office, reading an article in the New York Times Magazine about Larry King. In the opening scene of the profile, King is dining at The Palm in Washington, D.C., and I am thinking about how my old boss took me there on my first day of work at my old firm. That particular boss was a big man, with a booming voice, and…hairplugs, and he was the sort of person you’d expect to see at The Palm, alongside the caricatures of celebrities, including, but not limited to Larry King.

At the time I started that job,  I had been out of work for a year, and had been travelling to Africa, and Asia. I had eaten roast yak meat, and had been roused from slumber by the sounds of bullfrogs and roosters. I had stopped running my toothbrush under the faucet at home when I brushed my teeth at night because it had been so long since I’d been able to drink the water from the tap. I was also freshly out of months and months of intensive therapy geared at saving my failing marriage. I had all but forgotten how to talk to normal people in a workplace setting. 

Somehow, none of the strangers with guns on any of my travels ever made me as nervous as I was that day at The Palm — sitting across from a man with bad hair, wondering if I could hack it back in the Real World.

The Larry King profile goes on to talk about King’s various accomplishments at CNN, and the oddities and complexities of his Life on The Air. For instance, the author claims that King “sat shiva” on CNN the night that both Farrah Fawcett and Michael Jackson died.

That same day Michael and Farrah died, I was standing in the lobby of the SeaWorld Orlando Marriott, a grown-up at a convention of college-aged women, trying not to get punched in the face by a woman from New Jersey who was screaming at me that [she] was a leader not a follower.  What the hell was I doing there? What the hell had I done to deserve that? There were TVs blaring overhead, announcing the news that first Michael Jackson had died, and then Farrah Fawcett — all gods dead, all songs sung, all faith in Hollywood shaken. 

The college girls milled around me like I was a barely-submerged iceberg in the stream of tanned, well-heeled Southern blondes. They had been taught to avoid conflict, and I was a beacon of it. I had been humiliated by a trollop in a gold lame gown, while Larry King sat shiva on CNN on the big screens that dotted the lobby. I had no idea how I had gotten to where I was in the first place.

This reminds me that the cat died at the beginning of August. Grace was my grandparents’ cat – she was all that was left of them – and my mother had taken her from Florida over a decade ago when my grandparents’ health began to fail. She had lived with Mums and Daddy until the week that they were to move house. She died days before they moved across town.

Some things just can’t tolerate change, I guess.

The day after Farrah Fawcett and Michael Jackson died; the day after Larry King started to sit shiva on CNN; the day after I almost got punched in the face was the last time I ever left Orlando. I never bothered to go back and find out where my grandparents were buried. I never bothered to go back at all.

Larry King, according the the profile, is fixated on dying. Larry King is planning his own funeral. Larry King wants Bill Clinton to give the eulogy. Larry King will have the memorial service in a synagogue, to honour his mother, but to be clear, Larry King is not religious.

I have not been back to The Palm since that day in Washington. I will probably never go back to The Palm — not the one in Washington; not the one in Tribeca; probably not even the one in the Delta terminal at JFK.

You see, I am usually the kind of woman who Goes Back To Places. This is one of my Rituals. Rituals are important – they help you make sense of the world. But sometimes the world doesn’t make any sense. Sometimes, things fail; bosses suck; relatives die; people misinterpret your best intentions.

Sometimes, the only way Out is Through.

#Reverb15 is the opportunity for us to reflect and project throughout 2015.   Each month, KatSarah and I will be posting on a new prompt.  Please check out the #ProjectReverb main page and join in.

School’s Out: Share what you’re doing when the sun doesn’t set until 9 PM!

Here’s what I did with my Summer:

I did not take any vacation of note.

I did not go swimming in the ocean.

I went to Los Angeles to help my parents clean out their house before they moved from my Childhood Home, only to have them accuse me of weighing them down; leaving behind “so much crap.” When pressed, I realised they were referring to the one (admittedly large) box of mementos I had packed up and asked them to ship to me.

My parents are weirdly dramatic.

Then again, my parents are also the proud owners of a “Snow Village,” consisting of hundreds of small, ceramic houses, people, and accessories, which is set up each year at the holidays for my mother to gaze upon, heave sighs, and say, “I just wish I lived there!” The boxes comprising the Snow Village at one point overtook every closet in my childhood bedroom; my parents’ old laundry room; and several other cupboards. They had to permanently rearrange their parlour to accommodate December’s Snow Village arrival.

So the fact that they complained about one box of my stuff, and yet found no issue with moving thousands of tiny pieces of useless ceramic should maybe tell you something about the particular brand of bonkers I am dealing with.

I went to Santa Barbara to run a half marathon, forgetting that I love to run on the East Coast because the sunrises are dramatic.

I miss the West Coast sunsets, and watching that heavy, fiery orb sink into the Pacific. But running at the break of dawn along the shore is nothing particularly special in California. The sky is just grey; pink; yellow; then suddenly…blue.

I went to Governor’s Island with my bestie for a race and wondered why I had never been; I went to Fire Island on a day trip with my friends and my dog, and wondered why I don’t go more often. On both of the aforementioned trips, we encountered the kind of freaky beach detritus that may or may not have contained human remains. In the style of true New Yorkers, we simply looked the other way and continued to enjoy the view.

I slipped and fell during a race in the beginning of August, and wound up having to fly back from Dublin and have emergency reconstructive knee surgery a few days later. I hesitated in making that public because I have had to deal with all types of smug, but well-meaning people leaving Facebook comments and sending messages with stuffed with annoyingly bold assertions like: Maybe this is God’s way of telling you to stop running!

(I am truly fascinated that I know so many people who are able to interpret God’s will; who have personal knowledge that God is a couch potato.)

In reality, this injury was a freak accident. It could’ve happened by walking down the street. But there is something about distance running that inspires…envy?…disgust?…in people who don’t do it and do not understand it.

I am on the mend now. The past few weeks have been a blur of crutches, rehabilitation, and more pain meds than is perhaps socially appropriate to mention in a public forum. When I woke up from hip surgery last summer, I felt like a million bucks – the injury itself had been so painful that the operation brought instant relief. No one bothered to tell me until after I had my knee surgery that operations like the one I had are typically more painful than the procedure I had on my hip.

So that was what happened. It was a far cry from what I wanted to do.

I wanted to run Summer Streets.

I wanted to train for more races.

I wanted to hike in the Adirondacks or the Berkshires.

I wanted to go camping.

I wanted to take my kayak out for the first time in years; hose out the boat; unstick the rudder pedals; paddle around the Sound.

There is a part of me that feels as if I have missed the small joys of summer the past few years; that I am Getting Through rather than really experiencing anything. There is a part of me that is angry that many of these things have been…missed…due to things well beyond my control.

But there will be other summers; there will be more races. There will be new memories to make. This is just my particular brand of bonkers I am dealing with in this sticky middle season of my life.

Home is where one starts from.
– T.S. Eliot – Four Quartets

My parents sold their house a few weeks ago. So at the end of June, I flew to Los Angeles to complete that weird milestone of Going Home For The Last Time. It sounds so grim when written out, but I’m talking about that thing where people go through their parents’ cupboards and rummage through their childhood home, and ask and are asked: Do you still want this? Can I have this? Can I throw that away? Should we ship this to you?

It’s just what you do when people move house or die: You put a price on your nostalgia and see if it’s worth the cost of checking an extra bag full of teddy bears and high school trophies, or shipping yourself a box of letters from your high school friends.

So I flew to Los Angeles, which I always think of as being familiar because I am technically “from” there, and then was completely startled when I arrived and it was like a different planet. Half of the radio stations were in Spanish. The men in white dress shirts and skinny black ties were not doormen – they were Mormons. Los Angeles is the kind of vortex where young women look old from the sun, and the old women look young from the surgery.

It’s a really weird place.

My parents live in a suburban Los Angeles town that is 35 miles from Downtown, and 70 miles from Santa Barbara. On a bad traffic day in LA and a good traffic day on the coast, they are essentially equidistant from either place, since everyone knows that distance in Los Angeles is measured in travel time, not in miles.  Their town used to be nothing but onion fields and spinach farms, and now, it consists of cul-de-sacs and identical, high-end strip malls as far as the eye can see.

And the evolution of the town makes sense, really. The place was founded as a junction point for California’s railroads, and the development of real estate in the area has been the primary industry of the valley since the 1870s. That it would grow from onion fields to strip malls was practically written into the town charter.

Until a few weeks ago, my parents were among the dwindling minority of their friends who still owned or lived in the same house where their kids grew up. They lived in a canyon that went up in flames every summer with the forest fires, and the hills slid with every major rainstorm. Because they were in a canyon, the coyotes and owls would come down from the hills and steal household pets. That there were earthquakes went without saying.

Essentially, they lived in Australia. If it wasn’t the land trying to take them out on the regular, the encroaching wildlife was unrelenting.

My friends remember my parents’ house as a safe haven of pool parties, and co-ed sleepovers, and a garage refrigerator full of sodas and later, beer, that the middle school boys would sneak through our doggie door to steal while we were away. Our house was a fun place to be.

But I am not sure I will miss it.

I am not sure I will miss the place where I used to have to lock up my credit cards when I came to visit from school, because my brother was using, and he’d steal them. I am not sure I want to ever go back and sit under the skylight in my parents’ massive master suite where I got ready for my first wedding. I won’t miss slinking back to that house in defeat, when it was clear my marriage was ending. I won’t miss the room I painstakingly painted to my liking when I was a tween, only to have my mother whitewash it the minute I left for school.

I will miss the memories of pool parties, and being kissed under the maple tree in the front yard, and disarming the house alarm so I could sneak out in the wee hours to go running at dawn and be back before anyone accused me of sneaking out at all.

I am not sure I will miss that house.  Because we all deserve more than just our memories. Where we began is simply where we start from. It is not where we are doomed to stay.

This is the 19th in a series of posts about New York.

There are very few things I know for certain.

I came to New York because it Seemed Like a Good Idea At The Time; because This Was Where We Found Jobs; because because because. It never occurred to me not to want to be in New York.

I stayed, sometimes, because this was where I was qualified to practice law and the thought of taking another exam or facing the prospect of not being able to fully call myself a lawyer felt too daunting. Other times, I stayed because I no longer knew my way around the places I had been before. Los Angeles had grown too rapidly and I couldn’t find my way around any more; Washington felt so comfortable but quickly became claustrophobic.

I stayed, too, because I love it here, and I couldn’t imagine being anywhere else.

I’ve done all those crazy New York things you’re supposed to do – and more. I’ve lived alone and with others. I’ve kissed the wrong men in all the right places; I’ve had the best meals money can buy; I’ve danced in the clubs that no one ever gets into in a city where smoking was banned in the mid-2000s but if you have enough money for bottle service, the waiter will light your cigarette for you; I’ve been serious and silly and funny and strange. I’ve run the marathon multiple times; I’ve raced in all five boros. I’ve witnessed births and deaths and everything in between.

At the end of June, I flew back to Los Angeles and got lost leaving LAX. It was a drive I have done hundreds of times, in every possible way, on every exit, and every surface street. But somehow, I couldn’t find my way from La Cienega. And there I was, driving around Crenshaw at 11pm, frantically googlemapping myself out of deserted streets and cursing my inability to find my way on to the 405 – which was directly next to me.

I did not intend for this, you know.

It is one thing to come to New York with the intention of becoming a New Yorker, like an earnest girl fresh out of school who read Slouching Towards Bethlehem too many times. It becomes an entirely different ballgame the day you wake up and find you have actually become one.


They say if you live in New York for 10 years, you can officially call yourself a New Yorker. But the trained eye can always spot the ones who were born here.
– Sex and the City

This is the 18th in a series of posts about New York; a guest post by my fellow Refine Method-addict and marathoner, EMG.

It was a Tuesday morning: my first full week, third day at a brand new school. At 9:48am, the headmistress called me out of the library where I was studying for an upcoming test, almost an hour after the first plane hit the World Trade Center. Seventeen minutes later, the building where my mother worked on the 92nd floor collapsed.

My life would never be the same; New York would never be the same.

Nearly 14 years later, the city, for the most part, has recovered. I am not sure that you can say the same for me. The City has held some of my best and worst life moments. Every time I walk down the streets and visit the places that I grew up in I am reminded of the wonderful 14 years I had with my mother.

These daily reminders proved to be too much for my father who left New York four years ago. For me however, they are fresh air. They allow me to remember the good times and not to focus on what everyone tries so hard to not forget — the worst day of my life. I remember the bagels that were eaten on a Saturday morning at our local bagel shop; my mom dropping me off at school and family dinners out every Saturday.

The City is an integral part of who I am. My life would be so remarkably different if not for New York City and I wouldn’t have it any other way.


About the author
E was born and raised in Manhattan where she currently resides with her Shitzu Mr. Flip half a block from her childhood apartment. E works for the City of New York. She is a fiercely loyal friend, a creature of habit, a boutique fitness fanatic, and an avid marathoner.

This is the 17th in a series of posts about New York

Maybe you’re wondering whatever happened to Frederic – the man who was once such a major part of my New York Story.

I regret to inform you that the answer is possibly the most boring answer known to man: We became friends. Not the well-intentioned ex-lover kind, but the real kind.

Just writing that sentence makes me cringe, because the future I had in mind if the darlings ever DID make it to Mantua was either so glamourous or so horrific – nothing in between.

To recap, or for the uninitiated: Freddy and I had met at work nearly a decade ago. We had been friends, then had a fabulous, troubled, star-crossed romance at the end of our first marriages; he broke my heart when he surprised me with marrying someone who wasn’t me. The same weekend he told me he was marrying a former colleague of ours, I was hit by a car when I was out running. While in hospital, I couldn’t locate the fellow I was then-dating, which is how I found out he was cheating on me with a mutual friend’s sister (the friend had set them up).

Being a resilient woman, I made my displeasure with Everything That Happened That Weekend known by hunting silver foxes through the British Isles and (former) colonies for the ensuing few years.

Eventually, Frederic and I met for lunch at the Pool Room, where everyone who’s anyone in New York gets business done, and I Got Over It. (NB: If you ever want to convince me to do anything important, I would strongly recommend talking me through your proposal over gazpacho or crab cakes at the Four Seasons, with a side of cotton candy.)

That was it, really.

(Well, not really. Throughout the last few years, we had had a lot of open conversation about feelings, and recovery, and grown-up things – messy, yucky, ugly things. Those kinds of conversations are good for friendships but they make for terrible blog posts. Repairing trust doesn’t happen in fewer than 800 words.)

After that, we worked on a handful of professional projects together; I hired his firm to do some work for mine. We see each other frequently enough; Paul and I sent his family a Christmas card this year.

Everything is so middle-aged and normal that I keep waiting for a gotcha. We used to torture each other at every turn -trying to outsmart and outwit each other – and at our last meal together, we had a 20 minute conversation about why luxury cars weren’t what they were cracked up to be and why I was glad, retrospectively, that I no longer had my fancy English car. (Now I drive a Volkswagen.) At which point, he chimed in that he was thinking of trading in his SUV for a tricked out Ford Focus.

Apparently, the far side of the road travelled by star-crossed former lovers is done in sensible sedans?

I don’t know that this is a Happy Ending, per se, or even a typical one. I don’t think you go from standing barefoot in the ladies’ lounge at the W in Union Square telling someone to go fuck himself; to having his tongue down your throat in the elevator lobby at Bloomingdale’s; to pulling up your Jag at The Retreat at Westchester to pick him up to start his new life; to finalising mutual divorces; to watching him marry someone who isn’t you; to receiving the birth announcements for each of his beautiful children and being genuinely excited for him and his wife; to sending his family Christmas cards signed by you and your fiancé.

What this all tells me is that I don’t know much, really.

But what I do know is that this sort of thing only happens in New York.