In Which I Meet Benedict Cumberbatch…But Not Really

My crappy picture of Benedict

My crappy picture of Benedict

I am sure that you, too, have fantasized about what “The Meeting” would be like. Perhaps there is a small crowd of fans outside an event, with you at the front. Your fingers brush his as you hand him a Sharpie to sign his name and you exchange meaningful looks and maybe a “hello” or “thank you.” Or you pass him on the street and you manage to both acknowledge his presence and respect his privacy with a quick wink and nod of the head. Or he saves your life on a busy London street by pulling you out of the way of a speeding car. Or he comes up to you at the launch party for your new book to tell you how much he wants to play the main character in the movie version. I am just saying — it could happen.

In reality, “The Meeting” will not really be a meeting at all, and it will go down like this: By some weird, uncharacteristic stroke of luck, you score tickets for you and a friend in New York City for a screening of his new movie, The Imitation Game, followed by a Q&A with him. It’s only two hours away from where you live! It promises to be a fabulous evening with dinner and drinks and a city shimmering in early Christmas excitement and lights.

You get ready. You wear skinny pants and big earrings and sparkly eye shadow, because if any occasion calls for sparkly eye shadow, it’s this one. You draw the line at wearing Spanx. A girl has to be comfortable for “The Meeting.” You accidentally spray perfume in your mouth right before you leave the house, so for the rest of the evening everything tastes slightly of daisies and alcohol.

Read the rest of the story on The Huffington Post

A year of writing seriously

I just realized the other day that on November 13 it’s going to mark a year since my first essay was published by Full Grown People.  That was the day that I started to dip my toes back into writing and to take it — and myself — seriously.

I guess I have always been a writer, albeit one that doesn’t write. So maybe that doesn’t count. But I look back on this year and part of me wants to yell “why haven’t you done this earlier!” and part of me is just happy that I finally got to this point, where I feel confident(ish), happy, and proud to be writing. Maybe I just wasn’t ready before. Maybe I didn’t have anything important to say before.

I have written more in this past year than ever before and I hope my streak will continue. I am in fear every day that my pen will dry up, that inspiration will leave me, that my confidence and enthusiasm will vanish. I don’t think they will, but who knows where the magic of writing comes from and who knows what it is that really keeps it nearby? I certainly don’t.

If you would have told me a year ago that my writing will appear in The Washington Post and The New York Times, I would have laughed at you. But both of those things happened and I hope they will happen again. And I hope that even bigger things will happen to, and because of my writing. I guess maybe that’s what changed over the past year — that I am allowing myself to think big, outside of my comfort zone, outside of what I once thought was possible. Because apparently, anything is possible.

Some of my favorites from the past year:

Young Love

I’m letting my son be in love

Five Things I Learned About Love and Life from Having a Crush on Benedict Cumberbatch

My Complicated Relationship with My Jewishness and What It Means for My Son

 

 

Can a new mascara change your life?

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“This new mascara routine will change your life,” the salesgirl assures me as she slips a couple of shiny tubes into pink tissue paper and into a tiny glossy shopping bag.

I had just spent the past 45 minutes with her, applying, removing, and then reapplying lipstick until we found the shade and texture that made it look and feel like I had no lipstick on at all. After all that she also sells me a tube of mascara and this magic mascara foundation that will not only separate and lengthen my lashes, but apparently also change my life.

I am a latecomer to makeup. My mother never wore makeup — not even face lotion. I don’t think she ever used any product on her skin, yet even now, in her 60s, her face is plump and smooth and rosy like a peach. When I was a young girl she once received a round case of eyeliners from France. She had no use for them so she gave them to me, but of course I had no idea what to do with them. But I remember the black, transparent case and the silver pencils bunched together with tiny dots at their ends showing blues and greens and grays. They smelled like crayons dipped in perfume.

Read the full story on The Huffington Post!

Alone

It’s one of those weeks: Drew is gone so Sam and I are by ourselves for a couple of days. We all get along when it’s the three of us, but when it’s just me and Sam, somehow we fall into a different rhythm: slower, quieter, more… something. We stayed in our PJs all morning yesterday, ate breakfast in front of the TV, played on the floor, didn’t nap… It was a perfect day, right until the evening meltdowns started, fueled by the time change, the lack of napping, and possibly the large amount of leftover Halloween candy we both ate.

I am by myself a lot these days. I work from home full time, so even when Drew is home I spend many, many hours during the day alone. Some days it’s hard to stay motivated, but most days I have to admit I can barely wait until I can drop Sam off at preschool and I can head home by myself. I love puttering around by myself in the kitchen: unloading the dishwasher, planning dinner, and then settling down at my desk to work. I love the bursts of energy I get from my family, from spending time with my friends and colleagues, but the slow, constant burn I get from being alone is crucial for my sanity.

I remember when Sam was born I felt horrible about wanting to be alone all the time. I wanted to be by myself, but also, more than anything, I wanted to be with him. These two conflicting feelings tugged at me and made me feel pretty horrible. Then my mom actually said something that made me sigh with relief. She told me that I was an introvert raising and extrovert. Being an introvert, someone who gets her energy from being alone, of course it was exhausting to constantly be with another human being—another human being who was clearly not an introvert—yet. I still remind myself of this every time I feel bad that I get giddy on my drive home from preschool alone, especially after a long weekend.

But what I love the most is that lately I’ve been able to be alone WITH Sam. It happened this weekend—Saturday was an ugly, rainy day. Drew hurt his neck, so he was in bed for most of the afternoon. Sam and I had to run to Target and to get him to come along I bribed him with a vanilla bean Frappuccino. (I know! He is a hipster child!) So there we were, sitting at Starbucks, sipping our drinks, looking at the rain and the people coming and going around us. We sat there for a good hour, not talking much. He was so content, and so was I. “I love this, mama,” he said. “I love sitting here with you.”

I know buddy, so do I.

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Home

It always takes me a couple of days to find my footing again. After all of the travel, the adventure, the excitement, home seems… boring. Maybe not boring, but predictable. And I suppose that is the good thing about it.

I came home sick — fever, painful ears, cough. I was so jet-lagged after not sleeping for almost an entire week in Germany, and felt so awful when I came home, that I slept for an entire day and I am just now starting to feel like a normal person again. It was all disorienting and upsetting.

But here I am. Home. Warm, comfy, grounding. Just what the doctor ordered. I can get back to my routine of work and writing, although I have a feeling that writing about the Germany happenings will have to wait until it all settles around me and I can make sense of it. Although maybe writing about it will help. Who knows? It will just flow out of me one of these days.

The “Save the Princess” Message Hurts Boys, Too

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I have a 5-year-old little boy, a living room filled with boxes of soldiers, swords and Matchbox cars, and a complicated relationship with fairy tales and the princes and princesses who live in them.

A part of me loves it when my son decides to play princess. It does happen from time to time — when we break out the nail polish and the sparkly eye shadow; he brushes my hair, puts on my necklaces and we watch Sophia the First. I am excited when he wants to explore a different part of himself, and I secretly enjoy this kind of activity. He is an only child and will always be an only child, and playing princess is something I know how to do without thinking. (Go figure!)

But then there are days when we sit down to play with his Playmobil figures and he announces that my princess figurine is not allowed to have a sword. “Why not?” I ask as I rebelliously attach a tiny gold sword to her hand, only for it to be ripped out again. “Because princesses don’t know how to use swords.” “So what am I going to do when the enemy attacks?” “Well, you just stay in the castle and wait for me, O.K.?”

Oh, all right.

Read the full story on Motherlode

Copyright 2014, The New York Times Company.

Life goes on

The fact that life goes on is both a blessing and just a strange, strange, unfortunate thing. Several times last week I thought that surely I will be dead by morning — from physical and emotional exhaustion, from being cracked open and turned inside-out, from questioning everything that I knew about my life to be true. But then I woke up the next day and I wasn’t dead. And I am grateful for that, obviously. But it was also disappointing — can’t the world see that I am having a crisis here? How can there be weddings at my hotel, and happy partiers, and bright afternoon sun after a day of rain, and happy shoppers on the main street, and packing to be done and flights to catch when I am so obviously about to die here? I just don’t understand…

The same thing is true when something great happens. Like yesterday when I had an article published in The New York Times. I worked hard to get there and I am ecstatic about it — and maybe that’s why yesterday when my article went live I expected… something. Shouldn’t there be a shift in your life when something big like this happens? But nothing happened to me. I was sick. I was in bed. I went to see a doctor. I slept and drank tea. Life went on, without much notice.

I mean, maybe the changes are not always visible right away. Maybe they are just small ripples and I will only know their effect weeks or months or years later. I’d like to think that’s true. But right now I am waiting — I am wanting — a seismic shift and I just don’t know if that will happen.