The One Quality I Lack… And Need

 

My family is going through a time of change at the moment—lots of new and exciting things going on, just as Matt and I are coming up on our five year anniversary tomorrow. (Five years is, like, legit marriage, I think. I feel old.)

Most importantly, Matt is starting a new job. After seven years as a lawyer, he’s leaving to join a start-up. There are lots of unknowns, but he is a smartie and has surrounded himself with smart people. He’s brave. I’m proud, and impressed.

I know plenty of people hate change, or are scared of it, but I love it. I get antsy and bored when things stay the same for too long. Who wants same-old routine when you can have something new and different. I often need a shot of change as a jump-start, to get the spring back in my step.

But! There’s always that moment right on the cusp of change that involves so. much. waiting. There’s a lot of wondering and hoping and predicting… and not a lot of knowing. What will our new normal look like? When will we have a sense of our new routine? What will our life look like in six months? A year? Five years??

Have you ever found yourself thinking “years from now I will look back at this very moment and think, ‘that’s when everything changed”? That’s how I’ve been feeling every day for the last two weeks.

And so…. I need to learn patience. It’s never ever ever been my strong suit. I’m the girl who snuck into the basement every year to check out her Hanukkah presents weeks in advance. (Sorry, mom.) And right now I’d  like to do that same thing—get a quick sneak peek of what’s to come, then wrap it back up and wait for the big reveal. Turns out, life doesn’t work that way. (Who knew?)

So for now, I’m going about my days, trying to keep busy and distracted. But I’d do well to learn some good tricks for building better patience.

What’s your best trick for being patient, and staying calm in times of change?

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5 Women I Love-Hate (But Mostly Love), Because Basically I Want to Be Them

It’s overwhelming admiration tinged with a bit of jealousy. (Let’s be real.)

Mindy Kaling. Duh.

Lena Dunham. I love this

Tavi Gevinson. She’s 18, people

Ann Friedman. Because this. And also this. And all of this

Jo Goddard. So much style

These are the ladies that inspire me on a daily basis. They also make me feel a little “what are you doing with your life, Tavi Gevinson is an Internet mogul at 18,” but mostly inspired.

Who is on your “love-hate-but-mostly-love” list?

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Free Books!

JenniferGwyneth_1217-1     9780345524942

A fun book offer on the blog today: Buy a copy of Jennifer, Gwyneth & Me, and I’ll send you a signed copy of MWF Seeking BFF for free. All you need to do is email me a receipt showing you picked up your copy of Jennifer, Gwyneth & Me from any fine book retailer, send me an address, and I’ll pop a copy in the mail. I can sign it to you, to your best friend who just moved to a new city, to the new friend you met at Barre Method, whoever. You tell me. (Not-so-fine print: Offer good for the month of August. Receipt should be dated 8/7 or later. Please put “book offer” in the subject line.)

If you’re not sure if you’d like Jennifer, Gwyneth & Me, you can check it out on Good Morning America, or read the review on the AP or The Huffington Post. Or the excerpt on The Daily Beast. Or any of the links on the press page. Critics have called it “People magazine meets The Happiness Project” (thanks critics!), so if you like either of those, JG&M is a safe bet. And if you’ve been meaning to pick up a copy, now’s the time!

And please do spread the word, nothing is more helpful to a book than word of mouth. And, anyway, free books for everyone.

Happy August!

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29-Year-Olds Are The Most Popular

      

Twenty-nine was a good year. My first book was published. And I had all those new friends I made while working on said book. And I was still in my 20s! There was less grey hair, I’m sure of it.

Turns out 29 might be as good as it gets, at least socially. According to a new British survey, 29-year olds have an average of 80 friends, whereas the average person only has 64 friends. The 29-year-old popularity surge is due to still being tight with your besties from college, but also having made work friends too. Like Hannah Montana, 29-year-olds are in the best of both worlds (RIP Disney Miley).

I get this. At twenty-nine I was still more interested in going out on a Saturday night than staying in and playing Trivial Pursuit. I met lots of new people, and made it my business to connect other potential friends — thereby widening my circle. I was mature enough to network, and young enough to stay up past 10:30. All the makings for popularity! (At 32, my best nights include board games, take out, and lights off by 10. Jealous much?)

I mean, look at who is 29: Keira Knightley! Chace Crawford! Cristin Milioti! Do I want to be friends with them? Yes, please.

So, all you 29-year-olds out there, soak in those friends beating down your door. These are the glory days.

See you on the flip.

At what age do you think you had the most friends?

 

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I Covet: The Ideal Bookshelf

My daughter turns one this Sunday. That’s crazy because I’m pretty sure she was born last week. For her birthday, what I  want to get her—which is to say, what I want to get myself, because she’s one so she doesn’t know from gifts—is one of these Ideal Bookshelf prints from artist Jane Mount.

I love the Ideal Bookshelf series. Here’s a snippet from Mount’s mission statement: “I paint portraits of people through the spines of their favorite books: the ones that changed your life, that defined who you are, that you read again and again. ” Sometimes I get lost in her many bookshelf portraits, envisioning what my Ideal Bookshelf print would look like. Probably something like Little Women, The Things They Carried, Zeitoun, A Prayer for Owen Meany, Harry Potter, To Kill a Mockingbird. Not too shabby, if I do say so myself.

I’m not going to get Maggie the prints, because, again, it would really just be a gift to myself. And I have to save something for kid number two, should I be so lucky. But if anyone out there is looking to decorate a nursery, or an office, or a kitchen or I don’t know, anyroom, get Mount on the horn pronto. As your personal interior designer, I say you can’t go wrong with any of these:

Tweens

Cooking

Travel

All images via idealbookshelf.com

 
What would your ideal bookshelf look like?

Want a peek into my bookshelf? Or my kitchen? The Chicago Tribune ran this great profile last week, complete with a video of the books in my office. Check it out!

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What Should I be Reading Online?

I spend a lot of my day on the couch staring at the computer, not unlike the woman in this picture. Except, you know, my hair is less shiny, my clothes are less classy-casual, my nails are much less groomed and my smile is less smiley (except when reading this assessment of Blake Lively’s new lifestyle site, which had me laughing out loud, especially the “love affair with the past” part).

I do most of my reading on feedly, where I collect articles from my favorite sites. Which is to say my daily reading is usually made up of stories from the following sites: Jezebel, The Atlantic, The New York Times, Entertainment Weekly, Vulture, People, BuzzFeed, NPR, Reality Blurred and The Happiness Project.

I click on a lot of links I find on Twitter or Facebook. I read stories that friends email to me. Sometimes I hit up Grantland or Rookie. I read friends’ blogs, like this one and this one. I fall into the black hole that is the Internet more often then I’d like to admit.

But reading and researching is part of my job. Ideas for books and magazine articles and blog posts… a lot of them start with a story I’ve read online or in a newspaper or magazine or book. And so I want to expand my online library. There will always be more to read than I have time for, but I want to add to my to-read queue anyway.

So I’m asking you: Where do you do your favorite online reading? Which blogs, newsmagazines, daily newsletters? I’m curious to find great stories, wherever they may be. Especially if they’re more off-the-beaten-path than the sites I mention above. Enlighten me, dear readers! What should I be reading?

Chicago friends! I’ll be reading tonight from Jennifer, Gwyneth & Me at The Book Cellar in Lincoln Square at 7 pm. Please come! I’d love to see you there. I may or may not bring a tutu. 

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I Can Cook For My Husband and Still Be a Feminist

As a writer, you learn quickly to develop a thick skin. People on the Internet will comment about, for example, how you can’t write, or how your husband is inevitably going to leave you, or how your particular style of writing is entirely responsible for any man leaving any woman, ever. And you take it, and eventually learn to laugh at it, because it’s part of the gig. You will get rejections, you will get bad reviews, you might even get nasty emails. It comes with the territory. If you want to write for a living, you better learn to accept it or get out of the game.

So it takes a lot, these days, for a review or reporter to rattle me. I can shrug off nastiness quickly. I usually share any particularly harsh feedback with my family, because if we can’t all laugh together, where’s the fun?

But a reporter asked a question recently that really irked me. I’ve been thinking about it ever since, and I know I got pretty defensive when it first came up. I tried to keep a reasonable tone, to answer the question thoughtfully, but that the question would even be asked, well, pisses me off.

It was an interview for my new book, Jennifer, Gwyneth & Me: The Pursuit of Happiness, One Celebrity at a Time, in which I write about trying to make my life a little bit more fabulous by emulating some of the stars who seem to have it all. Jennifer Aniston. Sarah Jessica Parker. Jennifer Garner. Tina Fey. In one of the chapters, I talk extensively about trying to cook like Gwyneth Paltrow. I mention that my husband—not much of a cook himself—especially enjoyed the home-cooked meals. I also write throughout the book about my longing for a baby, and about my infertility struggles.

So here was the question: “How can you write about wanting to cook for your husband, and wanting to have a baby, and still be a part of the feminist discourse?”

I was so taken aback that I had to ask the reporter to repeat the question, and even then I had to repeat it back to her to be sure I understood it correctly.

I am a feminist. I believe that women are equal to men, and that all women should have the right to choose and live the life we want. I believe that whatever decision we make—whether it is to have a family or not, to cook for a romantic partner or not, to work or not, to shave our armpits or not, whatever—is valid as long as we’ve made it for ourselves. Our lives should not be chosen for us. Other people’s ideas of what makes a woman should not dictate what our rights look like.

The idea that you can only be a feminist if you reject the notions of starting a family or wanting to cook for someone else or wanting to feel better about your body, is ludicrous. My daughter brings me joy. Putting a meal that I’ve created in front of my husband every now and then makes me proud. I am a feminist because those are choices I’ve made. No one made them for me. My husband has never demanded a home-cooked meal. I didn’t have my daughter because someone said, “you better start popping out kids soon.” These are choices that make me happy. My career also makes me happy. And so does playing sports. And so does leaving my daughter with my husband for a weekend so I can get some much needed me-time.

If another woman chooses to eschew kids and marriage and pursue a different path, I support that, too.

Women shouldn’t have to apologize for not wanting to get married or for choosing career over kids.

But I shouldn’t have to apologize for wanting the cooking and the kids, either. I am a feminist—home cooking, baby and all.

 

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