When I'm at the gym watching trashy TV on the treadmill, I fluctuate between various guilty pleasures. There's usually a rerun of "Sex and The City" or an episode of the Kardashians show. But if I'm really lucky, I'll stumble across an episode of Hoarders on TLC. People who are so fucked up, that they make me feel normal. Yes, it's voyeuristic and slightly nasty, but it's also fascinating.
That picture on the right? That's people trying to get into the Collyer brothers' apartment who died in their crap-filled NYC apartment.
She hassled the cop who pulled them over, because their car was weaving on the highway. And she was all attitude. He told her to get in the car. She told him she could do whatever she wanted, because she was an American. When he told her to knock it off, she responded with a "Do you know who I am?" and "you're going to be on national news."
Yeah, she was drunk, and we're all assholic when we're drunk. She apologized appropriately. But the incident does make you wonder how many other situations she's used the celebrity card.
And now a vote for the best Witherspoon movie... First place goes to Election. Second goes to Walk the Line.
Elizabeth Wurtzel's essay in the Atlantic last week was a typical Wurtzel piece. She told us that she still looks good even though she's 45 and gave us her recipe for looking great in her trademark uncomfortable way. It's full of bitterness and jealousy and name-dropping and sadness and rambling digressions and the occasional, interesting turn of phrase.
The reactions to her piece runs the gamet from train-wreck to a huge train-wreck. I feel too bad for her to add to the pile on. She doesn't seem happy, despite her insistence that she is happy.
My first reaction to her piece was to show it to my nieces and tell them, this is what happens when your identity is too tied up with your appearance. Beauty is a short period of our lives. After 35, you gain weight. Gravity takes its toll; your neck, eyebrows, boobs all head south. If you have put a lot of stock in your looks, it's a depressing, downhill battle.
In recent years, feminist critics have concentrated their efforts on getting more women in the workplace and in the executive office. Wurtzel herself has told us that a real feminist is not even married. Today, I'm missing the old school feminists with their sensible shoes and unshaven legs. I think a real feminist takes value in her brains, kindness, unique talents, hardwork, and not on the fact that she still looks good in a mini-skirt in her mid-40's.
There is nothing wrong with looking nice. A pair of skinny jeans and Lenny's fabulous hair cut makes me feel wonderful. But I'm grateful that I was never beautiful, because aging has no effect on me. I'm going from young and quirky to old and quirky. I'm not ordering Cindy Crawford's face creams on the HSN or sculpting my abs in Pilate's classes. I do the basics, but I don't care that much.
In some ways, I understand Wurtzel's frustration. Society does have a way of casting off middle aged women in their Lands End swim suits and Clarks loafers. But the way to get attention isn't to insist on fitting into tight clothes. It's by saying smart things.
I hesitate to point to the New Republic's article on day care in America, because so many of my friends have kids in day care right now. They worry enough as it is. But there is a huge difference between the places that serve middle-class communities and the day care that serve the poor.
Jonah spent some time at an unlicensed home-based day care, when he was little. Nine toddlers and babies in a window-less basement apartment with one non-English speaking babysitter. There were some days that I worried about his safety.
A couple of years ago, I decided to write a book. I figured that I had read just about every book about autism and had tons of personal stories about it, so I should I write a book. Piece of cake. I wrote a dissertation after all and had years of blogs posts that could be stitched together. In a month, I would have a best seller! Guest spot on Letterman! A country house by the beach! That how I roll. It's only a matter of seconds between the idea and the country house and Letterman.
I actually hammered away at the project for about six months. I have files of documents in Dropbox. Chapters are organized in Scrivener. Because electronically organizing words is much better than writing words.
I retired this project back in 2011. Writing little articles was much more fun and provided immediate gratification. Also, the book-writing process was becoming more and more painful. It was probably painful, because the whole thing sucked.
I opened the files this weekend for the first time in two years. Boy, was it awful! I was unable to commit to one type of book, so I tried to do everything at the same time. It was part memoir, part academic, and part tips and tricks/humor. The memoir was overwritten and melodramatic. Nothing salvageable there. The academic stuff was ok, but could be boiled down to an article about how kids with special needs received no public education until the 1970s, and now special education takes up about 25 percent of all education money. The tips and tricks stuff could be brushed off. Maybe I'll do that.
You know, it's really hard to write a book. Hats off to all my friends who have done it. It's more than just stringing together some words. Spewing out words is not a problem for me. I think that to write a book, one needs a commitment to tell one story. That's not a easy task.