Love, Marriage and Social Media

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One of the best parts of reaching a “certain age” is that you get invited to weddings all over again. This time around – it is to the weddings of our friends’ how-did-they-grow-up-so-fast adult kids.

After an in-depth analysis based on my recent attendance at a grand total of two weddings this spring, I can confidently state that some things about nuptials remain the same. But some have changed. And for the better.

Let me explain.

Last Saturday we drove from DC to Brooklyn to attend the wedding of the son of my best pal from law school. The ceremony was at 4 p.m. in a darkly beautiful, historic gothic church in Brooklyn Heights followed by a reception in Prospect Park.

One step inside the Park’s Picnic House and I knew this was a millennial-designed reception.  No assigned seating, no name cards, no receiving line, no formality. Instead a group of very happy friends and family members clustered around a drinks’ table featuring a curated selection of local craft beer and personalized mixed drinks.

AND in a prominent place a boldly lettered sign providing the following social media instructions for guests:

 

For Instagram, please use #GroomLastNameBrideLastName

Social media instructions are very 2015. But some things about weddings – thankfully – REMAIN THE SAME since I was a May bride 37 years ago.

1. A wedding always involves a happy couple.

And as guests, we get to bask in the reflected glow of their happiness, watching as they recite their vows and pledge their troth. (whatever that is, they still pledge it.) And vows they still say, even if they leave out the part about “obey” (I did, too, to my husband’s lasting regret.)

2. After the ceremony comes the reception – and hors d’oeuvres will be served.

I am a huge fan of tiny appetizers.  While you may be among those wedding guests whose first priority is to get your first drink, or to offer congratulations to the bride and groom, my first reception task is to determine from which door the waiters carrying the fresh trays of hors d’oeuvres will emerge.

On Saturday night, I lucked into an excellent reception location, about eight to ten feet from the swinging door so that all of the waiters had to pass right by me as they entered with trays of miniature potato pancakes topped with chives and sour cream, petite crab cakes and tiny goat cheese tarts.

(pro tip: please do not block me, if I get to the spot closest to the appetizer entry door. I can be fiercely hors d’oeuvres-protective.

3. There will be sentimental toasts.

The bride’s sister on Saturday night charmingly told a story about her younger sister in pigtails. The groom’s sister welcomed the bride into her family. And the best man embarrassed the groom with a reference to tray stealing from the college cafeteria. Guests applauded, champagne was served.

 

But some things about weddings  – thankfully – HAVE evolved.

 

1.No one blinks an eye if the happy couple are from entirely different backgrounds. 

33 members of my husband’s extended Macedonian-American family traveled from Michigan to Connecticut to see us get married by a rabbi under a chuppah; that was unusual in 1978, although my parents and relatives did a lovely job of welcoming my husband’s family.

Now in May, 2015, inter-everything marriages are the norm and differences in heritage are celebrated.

Early in the evening of Saturday night’s reception, the bride, the Korean-American daughter of immigrants, and the groom, whose forebears served as officers in the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War, both donned Korean wedding attire for a paebaek ceremony where they sought and received blessings from both sets of parents. After they bowed to their elders and drank ceremonial wine, their parents tossed chestnuts (symbolizing boys) and dates (symbolizing girls) in the air which the bride tried to catch in the apron of her dress to signify how many children she and her new spouse will have.

All of the wedding guests crowded around the paebaek ceremony, applauding and cheering –   I did spot my friend, the mother of the groom, flinch slightly when as it was announced that the newlyweds should expect 6 male and 8 female children.

2. No bouquet was tossed nor garter was thrown.

Saturday night’s couple, both medical residents at a major hospital, did not partake in these antiquated traditions. No one seemed to miss them. It was clear to everyone that this was a marriage of equals, of two young adults who take joy in each other’s accomplishments, yet intend to support each other in times which are sure to come when disappointments will outnumber successes.

3. Love is even sweeter the older you get.

When I was making the rounds of the weddings of friends in the late ’70’s and ’80’s , a wedding was pretty much a party. A chance to dress up, to eat the aforementioned hors d’oeuvres, to dance the night away. Now – after years of seeing our friends through divorces, second marriages, more divorces, the deaths of spouses and of elderly parents, I leap at the chance to go to weddings.  Purely happy events come less frequently as we get older, so any opportunity to share in the happiness of our friends in the glow of young love is particularly treasured.

To all of my friends whose adult kids are not yet in serious relationships, may I say with all due respect: HURRY UP.

I am not getting any younger and though I tweet with aplomb, if you want me to become an instagram expert too, I had better start learning now.

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“Going for the ‘Wow” Factor in College Admissions – From 2001 To 2015

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I often think I am a prescient person. Then sometimes I find proof.

While cleaning a long-forgotten shelf this week, I came across an old folder containing copies of my early published essays.  In my lawyering days I wrote occasional freelance essays, satirical or poignant, or both, on subjects that captured my attention as a parent and was thrilled when I saw them in print.

On May 8, 2001 – 14 years ago!! – if you were reading the Washington Post, you would have seen my article on page C4:

 

Going for the ‘Wow’ Factor”

by Nancy L. Wolf – May 8, 2001

“Recently the University of California proposed to eliminate the SAT as a requirement for admission to college. I have another bold proposal to add to the debate on the college admission process: Start mandatory college counseling in the sixth grade.

What I have learned as the parent of a high school junior is that we have waited far too long to prepare our child for the rigors of the college admission process.

We thought we were ahead of the game. We knew she needed high SAT scores, excellent grades, evidence of as many advanced placement or honors-level courses as she could squeeze into a semester, and leadership in extracurricular activities. But apparently that is no longer sufficient. As the parents of juniors were informed at a recent college night at our daughter’s school, our children must also possess some great distinction, a unique talent or accomplishment to offer to their prospective college.

It is, of course, a little late, to develop a “wow” factor when your daughter is already a high school junior.

On the way home from college night, our daughter berated us for not thinking ahead. If only we had signed her up for advanced pottery classes when she was six or taught her how to fly fish when she was eight, she might have been en route to a national ranking or regional award in the talent of her choice. How could we have been so unenlightened as parents not to know to plan ahead for the college admission process.

Take a look at the Web sites of various selective colleges. Sure, they boast of the high SAT scores and grade point averages of their recently admitted classes. But they point with even more pride to the distinctive, unusual and frankly, sometimes odd accomplishments of next fall’s incoming class. Unfortunately our daughter is unable to contribute to this new diversity.

She is not a tiger trainer, nor a commercial fisherman, nor a champion cricket player. She does not milk cows at dawn on our family farm in Nebraska, or host her own cable television show, or regularly swim across the English Channel. She has not been a master junior golfer, has never been awarded a patent for her own invention and did not win a national Hula-Hoop championship. She is, simply put, a terrific kid. How devastating to find out after all these years that this is just not going to be good enough.

One of the speakers at college night was an admission officer at a university proud of its highly selective admissions standards. He shared with us the profile of a recent applicant – a young woman, first in her family to go to college, a nationally ranked pianist, the winner of numerous math awards, the captain of the tennis team, the highest of scores and grades, who had tutored young children in Chinese.

The other parents in the audience at college night were awed at her accomplishments. I could only wonder – when did she have time to floss?

With all that she packed into her day, so busy was she fashioning her pre-college resume, that she barely had time to say hello to her parents, much less to spend an hour of downtime watching MTV. I suppose that when she gets into that highly selective college of her choice, she can learn to floss there.

Yet, the admissions officer was dismissive of her achievements. He told us that she was too “well-rounded”. What his university was looking for was that special something, that oomph that no one else had. That “wow” factor that only admission officers know when they see it.

The stress on our high schoolers is palpable.

These kids worry that they must begin studying analogies for the verbal part of the SAT I well before they even know what an analogy is.  Now added to the anxiety about grades, scores and accelerated classes, they must also devote hours, beginning at a very young age, to development of their “wow” factor. That one singular talent that will help an applicant stand out from the highly qualified crowd.

The speaker at college night was dismissive as well of the accomplishments of another applicant whose admission folder he shared with us, someone he said was a “borderline” candidate, despite his extremely high SAT scores, grades and records of challenging classes. This young man, the admission officer, told us had been the class president, editor of the newspaper and captain of a varsity team. But, he said, his university gets many of these kinds of applicants – too much leadership! – these days. We parents all slumped in our chairs, racking our brains at this late date for that elusive “wow” factor.

Now I see that we have played this all wrong. As parents,  we could have helped give our daughter the “wow” factor she so desperately needs. But unfortunately, my husband is not a senator and I am not a Supreme Court justice. There are no science buildings at any of the colleges we plan to visit that have been endowed by any of our blood relatives. We have nothing to offer our daughter in the way of distinctiveness. We, too, are normal.

So I propose that mandatory pre-college counseling begin in the sixth grade. No wait, perhaps that is too late; first grade would be better. A sign-up sheet can be passed around in every school with “wow” factors to choose from. Each first grader will meet with the college counselor to decide on what “wow” factor will be his or her special area of expertise. Elementary and middle schools would hire special tutors for afternoon “wow” factor classes.

By the time each child gets into high school, that will be one less thing to stress about. Every kid will have his or her own “wow” factor.

But wait, won’t that make it less distinctive if every child has one? There, that will be our daughter’s “wow” factor – she will be the “normal” one! No one has a “normal” for a “wow” factor these days – she’s in!”

 

(post script from May 14, 2015)

Our daughter graduated in 2006 from an amazing liberal arts college which somehow overlooked her lack of a single “wow” factor, and instead had the wisdom to recognize that having a terrific, well-rounded, smart and thoughtful young woman on their campus would be an excellent fit for both of them. Would that be the outcome in 2015? Perhaps not, the college admission process has gotten even more frantic since 2001.  The pressure on teens and college kids to be distinctive, to excel, to be perfect has reached epic proportions. How can we  – as parents – push the pendulum back to the not so far off good ol’ days when being a terrific, well-rounded kid was actually a sought after quality? For the sake of our kids’ mental health, we must take steps to do this.)

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On Being a Mom Without a Mom on Mother’s Day

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“Yes, Mom, what do you want?” I said quietly into the phone. “My boss is sitting right here, I can’t talk now.”

My Mom had been calling me every day at the office for six months. She had been diagnosed with colorectal cancer in the spring of my 3rd year of law school.

As a newly-minted lawyer at a government agency in downtown DC, my first job, with a boss and my own office (albeit very small and without a window), I was learning to deal with her daily calls.

No, I can’t tell you that,” I told her.

She persisted.

Please, just tell me what your bra size is,” she asked again.

Mom, c’mon, I’m at work, I’m in my office,” I pleaded. “My boss, he’s a man, he is in my office, too.”

She pleaded right back.

I’m at the yarn store in Westport. I’m knitting you a sweater. Just give me the number.”

I gave up.

36B,” I whispered into the phone, as my boss rolled his eyes upward, squelching a laugh.

Exactly one year later my Mom died of cancer. (well, actually she died because of malpractice related to her cancer but that is a tale for another time.) She was 54 years old, I was 28.

I still have the beautiful red, V-neck cotton sweater with the just-below-the-elbow length sleeves she made me, although it no longer fits. It was as stylish then as it is now. She was a woman of both good taste and great kindness.

Some women complain that their elderly moms call them too often.

Every night, can you believe it, she calls me every single night, and then she worries if I am not home by 9 p.m. She tells me to eat my vegetables, have I gotten an eye check up lately, she bugs me about the kids or my job or my husband. When are we going to visit her? Who’s going to drive her to her doctor appointments? Or run to the store to get her a new light bulb or better reading glasses. I’m tired of hearing her complaints about who did or who didn’t sit with her at dinner. Honestly, my mom is driving me crazy. Doesn’t she know what a busy life I have?

I bet she does know you have a life. Hers is shrinking in scope, yours isn’t and she wants to be a part of it.

My Mom called me at the office for over a year when she was ill. Then one day she stopped calling. Three weeks later, on a sunny spring afternoon in May as my Dad and I sat by her bed, holding her hand, in the ICU of a cancer hospital in New York City, hearing the beeps from the machines that had kept her alive ebb away, she died. It was mid-afternoon, on the Tuesday after Mother’s Day. Thoughtful as ever, she chose, I felt, to wait and not ruin the holiday for us.

I would give anything for one more phone call, nagging, annoying, insistent, critical, I’d take it.

And you know what, Mom, I’d say? You have a wonderful young adult granddaughter and grandson that you never got to meet. And last year you became a great-grandparent, too.

What else would I tell her? Oh yes, my bra size has changed in the past 34 years. I don’t like the color red as much as I once did. But the sweater remains in my closet and it always will.

Miss you forever, Mom! Happy Mother’s Day.

 

 

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Was it Something I Said? – – Job Rejection at a “Certain Age”

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Rejection? Does it get easier to handle when you are older?

Rejection is something to learn from, I would tell my kids when one didn’t get the part he wanted in a school play or the other was not invited to a sleep-over.

You learn that “life is unfair” (my Dad’s favorite phrase) or “when one door closes, another opens” (my Mom’s more optimistic approach) or “don’t take it personally” (my husband’s soothing words of choice.)

I kept these phrases in mind when I opened my email last Friday to read:

Thank you for your time on Wednesday. There were a number of applicants for this opening. (Name of employer) regrets that we are unable to offer you the position of (job title) at this time. We wish you the best in your future endeavors.”

OUCH!

A friend told me a few weeks ago that a well-regarded, college planning company was looking to fill a part-time, seasonal position. I’m not looking for a job, I told her. But this ad, for a college essay specialist, has your name on it, Nancy, my friend insisted. You have the qualifications, you should apply. So I did.

To prep for my interview, I studied the Common Application college essay prompts for next Fall’s admission season. High school seniors using the Common App will write an essay, up to 650 words, on one of five topics. Here’s Topic #2:

 

 “The lessons we take from failure can be fundamental to later success.

Recount an incident or time when you experienced failure. How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience?”

How ironic is it that when I applied for a position to assist high school students in brainstorming, writing (their words, not mine!) and editing their essays that I was the one to experience failure?

It could have been something I said or didn’t say. Perhaps it was how I looked? Was I over-qualified? Under-qualified? Not a good fit?

I don’t know why I wasn’t chosen but I can, in up to 650 words, write about it.

1. “Recount an incident when you experienced failure.”

The last time I had a job interview was 23 years ago. Last week my interviewers were a great deal younger and there were two of them in one room. One sat directly in front of me, the other to my left, requiring a great deal of head swiveling. Thought I did well on that. One seemed friendlier, one a bit cooler. I answered their questions, perhaps too candidly, as is my nature. And then to a separate room to take a written test. I like tests, thought that part went well, too.

But I admit, as I left their building, I did not have that warm fuzzy (they liked me! they really liked me!) feeling.  I wrote a nice thank you note. Waited a day. Then the “regrets” email came.

2. “How did it affect me?”

I was surprised, not shocked, but I was upset. Got that pit in the stomach sick feeling. I called my husband who told me not to “take it personally.” Completely unhelpful advice. (Apologies here to my kids for ever saying that to you.) OF COURSE,  I TOOK IT PERSONALLY. They rejected me. That is about as personal as it gets. We do not want you. You may think you were right for the job. We don’t agree. Guess who wins.

I emailed a few friends who were rooting for me. More reassurance; I started to calm down. My stomach returned to its normal state (hunger.) It was late afternoon; I still had research to do for an article I’m writing on college mental health and revisions to make to an agreement I’m drafting for a non-profit board.

Rejection affected me – but not for long. Move on, things to do, next project, please.

3. “What did I learn from the experience?”

I don’t think I learned anything new. When I was younger, I tasted failure often enough. This time, even though I bounced back more quickly, failure had that same bitter taste.

In my 3rd year of law school, when I was hunting for my first job, I had a series of interviews at a small DC law firm that I really wanted to join. I eagerly waited to hear from them. Email had yet to be invented so it was a letter in the mail that gave me the bad news resulting in that same pit in my stomach sick feeling.

The next day I called one of the lawyers at the firm, an older partner who I seemed to connect with during our 20 minute interview, and asked him why I didn’t get the job. He was surprisingly candid. He told me  – “We all thought you had spunk, but your grades didn’t measure up.”

True. My college and grad school grades had been excellent, but my law school grades were less than stellar. And it was also true that I had spunk. Still do.

Yes, being older brings perspective, resilience, maybe even a bit of wisdom. But no getting past it, failure still hurts whatever your age.

What then did I learn from my recent brush with the world of employment?

That sometimes spunk isn’t enough, that your qualifications can get you in the door but now, as then, sometimes life is unfair (you’re right, Dad.) But when one door closes, another door opens. (you were right, Mom.) I’m going to walk through that open door now.

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Cozy Coupe Time (Part I)

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I don’t believe in “signs”.

But there it was – yesterday morning, on the third Sunday in April – I spotted it parked on the front walk of our new, next door neighbors’ house – a bright orange and yellow, get-in-and-out-of, toddler-size plastic car with a door and wheels – a “Cozy Coupe” -and it looked exactly like the one our kids had years ago.

Thought #1:  How reassuring to think some things have not changed. Kids still play with blocks, toss balls and get in and out of their Cozy Coupes.

 Thought #2: Our 18-month old grandson…

(wait, wait, please don’t leave this page! I’m NOT going to talk about him. Management has informed me that he is off-the-record and I gladly comply.)

Though we did visit the little guy yesterday afternoon and he, too, has his own bright orange and yellow Cozy Coupe identical to the one that just moved in with the new young family next door.

 Thought #3: If I saw two Cozy Coupes in a one day, what is that telling me?

It’s a sign.

Time to Move?

And because I am a practical (“too practical” an old friend once told me as if there could possibly be such a thing) and base all of my decisions on evidence, hard facts and well-reasoned arguments (oh, sure), I picked up old legal pad and drew two columns.

 

Why We Should Move:

  • We have lived in this house for 33 years
  • Our House is not getting younger
  • 33 years is a long, long time
  • JP and I are not getting younger
  • The neighbors around the corner, the neighbors behind us, the neighbors up the hill – all have little kids
  • New next door neighbors have a Cozy Coupe
  • Their Cozy Coupe will begat other Cozy Coupes and soon…
  • We will be the only family (are Empty Nesters considered a family?) on the block WITHOUT our own Cozy Coupe
  • Back to #1 – we have lived in this house for 33 years

 

Why We Should NOT Move

  • I love our house
  • It’s my memory storage center (I can look inside the door of our linen closet to see the pencil lines measuring our son’s height from ages 3 to 17)
  • I would miss seeing our ancient lilac bush burst into bloom during the third week of April each year

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  • I’m not ready?

 

When we first walked into this house on another Sunday in April many years ago, we were greeted by the “aroma” of chopped onions.

Yes, most people bake cookies or bread to tempt would-be house buyers, but the apparently reluctant would-be seller of our house decided that the pungent smell of onions in a mixing bowl on her formica kitchen counter was the way to go.

I was undaunted. Nor was I put off by the over-size, black wrought-iron, wagon-wheel shaped ceiling light fixture in the master bedroom that looked ready to impale unsuspecting sleepers. And I looked beyond the green shag carpeting in the living room, the burgundy flocked wallpaper in the bathroom and the shiny disco ball in the basement.

Somehow this house felt “just right” from the moment we walked in.

It’s not that I am picky (oh wait, I am), nor do I resemble Goldilocks in any way (she: a natural blonde and me: once a natural brunette), but I do want to replicate that  “just right” moment when we move to another home.

Which likely won’t be a home in the form of an actual house. We are considering taking the plunge, as some of our friends have already done, to down-size to a two bedroom, two bath condo.

No more snow-covered front walks to shovel, lawns to mow, front doors to repaint!  I shudder in joyful anticipation – already dreaming of the day when a giant dumpster sits in our driveway – toss! toss! farewell! see you never! I will gladly say to the boxes of I know-not-what that clutter a corner of our basement.

JP and I agree. Let’s just see what’s out there.

So we look at one condo, not far from a DC metro stop, saw two miniature bedrooms, you could reach out your hands and touch both sides of the walls. (shouldn’t those wide-angle, misleading real estate web site photos be banned for legal inaccuracy?) followed by an equally tiny galley kitchen. Perhaps we’re supposed to bring in take-out every night? We still like to cook.  We look at the people coming in and out of the condo building. No one looks over forty. Maybe not even over 35. I don’t see us there.

Off to another condo. The lobby of this one has glossy, marble floors, a cadre of courtly concierge types sitting behind a stately desk. The bedrooms are larger but outdated, with hideous track lighting and non-dog-friendly, white carpeting which our rescue terrier would eviscerate in minutes. We look at the people coming in and out of the building. No one looks under 75. Maybe not even under 80. I don’t see us here – either.

This is going to take awhile. Is that “just right” feeling too much for an empty nester to ask for?

And am I ready to have our next place become our truly “forever” home –  as in the very non-fairy-tale meaning of the word “forever”?

I’m waiting for another sign.

TO BE CONTINUED

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Everything I Never Told You

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I don’t often write about the books that I am reading. But when I am not writing, I am reading. As in reading all-of-the-time reading.

(When’s my walk, our dog asks. Where’s my dinner, my very tolerant husband wants to know. Sorry, but I’m in the middle of a really good book, I respond.)

Last night, or rather very early this morning, I finished an amazing novel called Everything I Never Told Youby author Celeste Ng. It was her debut book, a New York Times best seller, it won all sorts of awards.

(I’m jealous! Writing a novel is #1, #2 and #3 on my list of life goals. If only someone would invent a device to get the book that writes itself in my head nightly while I am dreaming onto paper.)

I won’t ruin the plot of “Everything I Never Told You”, but truly you need to race out and read it. The author manages to combine the elements of a mystery (my favorite literary genre) with the story of a family that kept their true feelings about themselves a secret from each other, to their own peril.

After I reluctantly finished the book, I pondered its title further. So opposite from my own family. We have always told each other everything. Candor to a fault. Critical when not necessary. Over-sharing well before that became a “thing.”  As my cousin told me after our recent Passover Seder, sometimes you just can’t get in a word edgewise at one of our family’s meals.

My husband says I am a “truth-teller”. But lately I’m finding it easier to write through my feelings rather than say them aloud.

I may have been influenced by this TMI trend. Let no difficult experience go unmentioned. Share every moment, express your inner feelings to all.  The comedian, Margaret Cho, said in a recent interview that she “can’t think of a thing that should be hidden.” In her life, as in her show, her interviewer commented, “nothing is too private, too sacred or too humiliating to be turned into a punch line.”

I am not, nor do I wish to be, a comedian, although I do enjoy making my friends laugh at what I believe is my witty repartee. For years as a lawyer I also liked to amuse my clients in our non-legal moments. I relish drawing praise for my punch lines.

But where do you draw the line at using your own personal life to create a good punch line?

Last Friday I met two friends who I had never met for lunch.

Translation: in an online writing class I took this winter (plug here for the terrific Her Stories Project) three of us in discovered we lived in the DC area so decided to meet each other in real life after class ended. We already “knew” each other through the drafts of our shared essays. I knew about their kids, their husbands, what they worried about, what they didn’t, as they knew about mine. We had a wonderful lunch, we were instantly at ease with each other, as I expected we would be.

The three of us talked a bit about over-sharing. About how much we should be making public to an unknown crowd (hoping it is a crowd) of readers through our essays, our blogs, our  published work, about us and our kids. When our kids get older, as mine already have, what will they think when they read what we have written about them, we wondered? Is it enough of a cover, an acceptable justification to say that we, as parents, are writing our own stories, not theirs, even if our kids often play leading roles in what we write?

May 21, 2015 will be the one year anniversary of this Blog. 48 posts, one a week. (the math may be approximate here.) I have been enjoying it immensely.

But have I occasionally been guilty of using people from my real life as punch lines?

I think so. And after much thought, I am going to stop – or at least try – to stop doing so. Celeste Ng wrote so eloquently in her book about a family that was not candid enough with each other. Hers was a novel but I sense her words rose from a real life place. In my own real-life place over-candor can be hurtful, not helpful. Whether in private or in a public forum.

Announcing My New Plan: Write my own truth but at no one else’s expense. And think hard about signing up for a new writing class – this time in fiction. Look for my first novel – in, say 2018?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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“Opening Day” or Just Another Monday in April?

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Of the many annual events on my calendar, one stands out – “Opening Day” – the day in April when professional baseball leagues begin their regular season.

Nearly all of my friends, relatives and other human beings with whom I come into regular contact are big baseball fans.

And I am not. Never have been. May never be.

For me “Opening Day” marks the beginning of my lonely season. The season when most people I spend time with in the DC area talk incessantly about baseball – and I am unable to join in.

A conversation in which I cannot participate is very difficult for me. As you may have gathered, I have opinions on all topics and like to offer them to others, whether requested to do so or not.

My unwelcome opinion is that watching baseball is both boring and tedious, two cardinal (oh, wait, isn’t that the name of a team?) sins. I prefer to watch sports that move more quickly. And have more transparent rules.

  • Like college football. Every ten yards = a first down.
  • And college basketball = the ball goes in the basket and the score board changes.
  • Add in rowing, in which my daughter participated in high school (she was a coxswain). When the first crew boat goes over the line = that team wins the race.
  • All action, speed and easy to follow.

Just as the cherry blossom trees on the mall make their annual appearance so does my early spring willingness to try to learn why I should like baseball.

Last week I recruited two of my most fervent baseball fan friends to help me to overcome my dislike of America’s Pastime.

What is it, I asked my old college pals, Martha and Paula, that makes you so hot about the sport that leaves me so cold?

Martha traces her love of baseball to her New England childhood, recalling summer afternoons in her backyard “slathered in baby oil and listening to the Red Sox on the radio.”” And years later as a Mom, Martha kept up with her teen son’s favorite team finding it “a great conversation starter when every other topic elicited mostly grunts.”

Then she tells me about how much she loves debating baseball strategy and understanding its’ legalistic complexities.

(Have I mentioned that Martha also is a lawyer?)

I have heard this many times before. Allegedly, as a lawyer, now a semi-retired one, I should find baseball fascinating because of its intricate rules.

(Can I state here, for the record, just to allay your fears, that I do have many friends who are not lawyers? Although it is not easy to have non-legal companions in DC, I work at it.)

My friend Paula, yes, also a lawyer, came to love baseball later in life.

As an adult, the minute I started practicing law, I needed something major to distract me. Reading, my other primary form of entertainment, didn’t demand the same level of anger, joy and mastery of arcane facts.”

O.K., I get it. You don’t need to keep hitting me over the head to prove that baseball and the law share an affinity. But when I practiced communications law, as that technology rapidly changed, so did the laws and rules that went with it.

Unlike in baseball. Where nothing ever seems to move with alacrity.

Martha gets a tad testy when I complain to her about the s-l-o-w pace of a baseball game.

Are you kidding me? Is the pace of a Mozart concerto too slow? The game is poetic. It’s a thinking person’s game.”

Ignoring the part where Martha implies I am not a thinker, I remind her that even those at baseball corporate agree with me on the pace problem.

When Major League Baseball adopted changes this February intended to speed up the games, I cheered. A new rule will require hitters (a/k/a the ones with the bats) to keep one foot in the batter’s box (self-explanatory, although I don’t really see it as a box, more of a semi-circle maybe?) between pitches with several exceptions.

And pitchers and batters will only have up to 40 seconds from the announcement of the batter’s name (how long can it take to pronounce someone’s name?) to the time the first pitch is thrown.

Will the game of baseball finally become sufficiently fast to retain my wandering attention?

Probably not, the experts say. So I throw out one last wild pitch to my pals:

“Why can’t I love baseball the way that you do?”

Martha.Because of your constant need for speed? Maybe you just haven’t learned enough about the game to appreciate it? Or maybe you are just WRONG?”

I prefer Paula’s more measured response.

Paula: “Frankly, Nancy, I can’t explain it. You are otherwise a woman of intelligence and taste.”

Yes, Paula, I am  – and I am also a good closer.  Call me the Drew Storen of the essay world. (get it, Nats’ fans?)

 

THE END.

 

 

 

 

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Filed under College, Female Friends, friendship, Lawyers, Women, Writing