Saturday, January 30, 2010

On black dresses, alterations and the alteration in me.

A couple of weeks ago, I spent an afternoon shopping with a good friend, who promised to be my very own Clinton and Stacy, a combination fashion coordinator/cheerleader/honest evaluator as I searched for the perfect outfit. The plan was to buy a dress, possibly shoes.

Cindy earned her title that day. Her energy never flagged and she was kind and truthful throughout it all. I think I tried on something like twenty-five dresses (maybe more) in a few different departments in two stores. Granted, some of these garments were on my body, or partly on it depending how you looked at it, for about three seconds before we ruled them out but still: that’s a lot of dresses. Almost all of them were black and it was hard to believe there could be that many variations on black dresses but there appeared to be an endless supply.

But it had to be black, right? You don't want to buy a dress for an event, love it in the dressing room and feel daring and one-of-a-kind, and then be the woman wearing the lime green dress all night.

It won’t surprise you to know that the dress I liked best, the one both of us decided was “the one,” was the most expensive dress of the day. It felt fabulous. It was fitted but not too fitted. I didn’t have to worry about back fat or cleavage. The fabric was elegant but not flashy. Even modeling it while wearing my socks, it felt right. Except for one thing: the armholes.

It was sleeveless. For someone like me who feels cold every single day of the year, with the possible exception of two afternoons on the beach in August, even considering a sleeveless dress, especially for a January evening, is significant. But this shopping trip was partly based on doing the unexpected. Serious shopping for this kind of outfit is something I do maybe once a decade.

Back to the dress. From one angle, Cindy had a moment where she could see my bra. It wasn't a horrible gap but it wasn’t great and it was a lot of money to spend to have my bra showing, even if it was just from one or two angles. No matter, the helpful saleswoman called on the seamstress to evaluate the extent of the “fix” that would have to take place to make this perfect for me.

The woman doing the alterations was a genius from Ukraine. (Her accent reminded me of my lovely sister-in-law, who is also from Ukraine.) With a couple of pins, she made the difference in the dress and it looked better.

Me (looking in the mirror): What do you think?

Cindy and saleswoman and seamstress: Great…looks very nice…(general consensus that this was the best of the day.)

Me (still looking in the mirror): What about my arms? Do they look horrible? Do they look like people will say, “What made her think she could get away with that dress with those arms?”

Cindy and saleswoman: (similar versions of something like) They look fine!

Seamstress (looking dismayed and kind of scornful): What is wrong with women? What would make you think there’s something wrong with your….there’s nothing wrong with…(her voice trails off as she basically shakes her head at the entire female population of this country.)

We pressed her on it and she said women in America have problems with every single thing about themselves and she sees a lot of women. Everyday. In all kinds of sizes wearing all kinds of clothing. I’m guessing at least a couple of them have mentioned their arms, or their tummies, or their legs, or their necks, their shoulders, their waists or their hips to the seamstress. According to her, every single one of them is horrified at her image.

Wind up of the story is I had the dress altered, and bought some astoundingly beautiful black heels and felt good about every bit of it.

The lesson here? God knows. Maybe it’s that you can’t try on too many black dresses before you find the right one. Maybe it’s that no one thinks about your arms a sixteenth as much as you do. Maybe it’s that having a Ukrainian woman look you in the eye and basically tell you to get over yourself and stop being such a neurotic lunatic about something like the shape of your arms is a good thing.

I may need to give her a call her once in a while for a reminder.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

"Expletive Repeated" and other healthy ideas.

Couple of interesting but random bits of information that struck me as interesting, obvious, somewhat sad and quite possibly connected in some weird way. Without further ado, here we go:

Let’s suppose a university did a study about depression and how it could be connected to growing older, even tangentially. Suppose the research isolated one particular group within the population and found that they were almost four times as likely as the rest of us to suffer from a depressive episode. Four times!!! That sounds like a pretty high number to me. Don’t you think having a four times greater risk of depression in one group more than another would make a lot of headlines? So did I. Here’s the news:

The Risk of Depression Doubles During And After Menopause.

It took nine years of study, but researchers at the University of Pittsburgh have discovered that women are more than twice as likely to be depressed during and after menopause. Specifically, during perimenopause they were about twice as likely as premenopausal women to have a depressive episode, and after menopause we are almost four times as likely as other women to experience depression.

Moving on…

I’ve read that sometimes depression masks itself as anger. In other words, you look and sound angry but you’re actually depressed. But let’s think about anger. The experts we hear from most often extol the benefits of serenity, peace, calm, Zen, being centered, balancing our chi and aligning our chakras. We practice karma yoga and Burmese meditation to “still our mind and perceive oneself.” We drum, we chant, we hold crystals, we bond with nature and honor the wisdom of our body. We get hot stone massages, mango-sugar scrubs and crushed pearl facials. We buy books, CDs and DVDs to help us find the Secret to our happiness and fulfillment.

Fine. Knock yourself out. Namaste. But here's a different idea. When was the last time you let forth a string of curses to release your demons? If you answered when you were fourteen years old and trying to feel grown up, you’re making a mistake. Here’s the news:

A curse a day may keep the doctor away.

According to a study excerpted in The Utne Reader, researchers at Keele University in England have discovered a positive link between using colorful language and the ability to withstand discomfort or pain. As study participants repeated a curse word during adverse conditions, their heart rates rose and theoretically, that may have helped them withstand the discomfort longer than others who repeated a benign word. They also felt less pain afterwards.

Maybe the next big self-improvement craze will be a chain of “Expletive Repeated” rooms across the country. In these simple but comfortable facilities, people can pay a membership fee, come in twenty-four hours a day and swear their bloody heads off with no harm done and no offense given to anyone near and dear to them. Their heart rates will go up, their anger will diminish and they can go on with their day.

Moving on…

How many times do you wish things were just more positive? It would be nice to live in a world where we listened to nothing but the Good News Network and focused on happy thoughts that helped us achieve our dreams. Life hard enough without more misery heaped on us daily, right? Right? Wrong. Here’s the news:

People are much more attentive to negative words than positive ones.

Where would we be without scientists conducting research? In a British study that flashed a variety of words on a screen for mere fractions of seconds, guess which words people remembered and identified most accurately? Yes! The winners were the “negative” words, much more often than those labeled “cheerful” or “neutral.” One of the professors involved in the study believes that using negative words delivers a more effective message. She suggests we post road signs that read “Kill your speed” rather than “slow down.”

So, where does all this leave us?

God knows. But as a woman of a certain age, I can tell you this. I may be prone to depression. So if I curse a blue streak once in a while or say things like “I’m in agony with this headache” or “This day is just murder, isn’t it?” you’ll understand. Right? Right??? Dammit, what do I have to do to get someone to listen to me for one damn second?

Thanks. I feel so much better.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

It's official: we're thinking WAY too much about laundry.

God help me. I am clearly missing something here. Let me explain and then please, please tell me where I went wrong.

On a ‘normal’ day, or in a ‘normal’ week (and I use that word loosely), here are the kinds of things I have on my mind, in no particular order of importance: my kids, husband, and Mom, the rest of the family, my friends and keeping up with what’s going on in their lives, my job, my boss, paying our bills, trying to lose weight but still eating chocolate, getting on the treadmill more than twice a week, keeping up with my writing work (the blog and the column), thinking about what’s for dinner and possibly preparing it, running errands, picking up around the house, reading a book, watching some television I really enjoy, checking my email and other electronic connections, maybe taking in a movie, and trying to get to bed before midnight.

That’s just the personal stuff. International and national news also commands our attention and response, whether it’s to the tragic outcome of the quake in Haiti and the billions needed to counteract it, or to the tragic outcome of our elected officials in Washington and the billions needed to counteract that. In between those stories, you have little time to consider things like the tragic outcome of James Cameron’s or Kate Gosselin’s hairstyles.

I hear you. That sounds like just about every life you know, including your own. Fair enough. We have dozens of time-saving, money-saving, portable devices designed to help us be more efficient and more organized. We hop online to read headlines, newspapers, and magazines because we can click, read, comprehend and bookmark. We download news, use our apps and DVR everything until we have time for it. Fine. I don’t think I could cram one more factoid into my head on any given day.

Which means there is really no explanation for the following. Somehow, someone somewhere ran a focus group and now believes we have the time and energy to consider this. Go ahead and watch it if you want to feel confused. Then come back and let’s discuss it, shall we? I’ll wait.

Question: You’re kiddin’ me, right? It’s not enough that I’m faced with an entire wall of fabric softener in a grocery store? It’s not enough that I have to make a choice about the right scent for the fabric softener I think I need for my rough, scratchy clothing, which, by the way, I don’t even own? Now I’m supposed to match my mood with my fabric softener?

Answer: Yes. According to Downy, we (read: women) can now choose from a line of products called “Simple Pleasures.” Why? Because according to Downy, every woman has many sides. True enough, I suppose. I just didn’t know every one of them needed its own fabric softener. “Lavender Serenity” = Calm. “Spice Blossom” = Daring. Elegant =… oh I don’t know. I stopped listening. There are two more scents available and I have no idea what they represent. I did hear that every one of them contains “scent pearls.” Thank God for that.

You can’t miss the gorgeous beach house where all these moods appear to be taking place; or the adorable husband who enters the scene just as the woman models the sweet little black dress in the mirror. Their equally adorable children peek in through the window and watch mom and dad canoodle, wrapped up in the Downy magic no doubt.

The black dress, by the way, is the same dress she wears to frolic on the beach with the Mr. and their perfect little girl and boy at the end of the spot. She has her silky lavender wrap around her shoulders as well. As we now know, wearing those two pieces indicates she is feeling both calm and elegant.

And by the way, since when did fabric softeners become a ‘woman’s only’ product? Doesn’t a man have “sides?” Doesn’t he want to have the fabric against his body to reflect his state of mind?

Answer: Nope. Because he knows it’s ridiculous and good for him.

On the other hand, since they’ve already launched the campaign, they may as well expand the line. Otherwise, I’m a little concerned. Question: What Downy scent should I buy when I feel pretty darn cranky? Which one for those times I feel fat? Or how about exhausted, or weepy? These are also some of the many sides women have and as of right now, they are not being addressed by my fabric softener.

I swear to God, if someone opened a retro grocery store with about 7,000 fewer SKUs in it, I’d shop there. I need every bit of my brain and energy to put toward thinking about things that matter, not the serene/daring/elegant nature of my fabric softener. Who’s with me?

Friday, January 22, 2010

Proof that we really do think everything is about us.

Here's today's column in The Daily Caller. As I've said before - and sadly, fully expect to say again - you can't make this stuff up.

Hope you enjoy.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

A slippery, spice-filled, calorie-laden slope into hell.

Today’s quiz: the following grocery shopping stories represent:

a. Innovative, ‘out of the box” thinking
b. The new low of imagination and creativity we’ve reached as a society in general and specifically, a new low in our culinary endeavors
c. Spectacular time-savers
d. All of the above

Tonight my husband and I wandered through the spice aisle at Wegmans, looking for a large container of dried red pepper. Didn’t find one but I did come across a new kind of product, which has to be almost unheard of in the spice industry right?

I have to imagine the marketing teams at McCormick spent years talking about ways to improve their sprinkle tops, new spice combinations they could sell to novice cooks, and other ways they could somehow infuse new life – spice up if you will – their grocery store SKUs. But I ask you: how many cinnamon combinations, flavors of pepper, or “crusting” blends can you make? I checked them out online and turns out you can make as many as the market will bear but tonight, I found a real innovation.

Whoever conceived this product should be given an enormous bonus, given that fact that we all say we’re so busy, busy, busy all the time. Basically, the new packaging contains an exact selection of assorted spices, in exactly the right amounts, that will help anyone create flavorful main dishes. To talentless cooks like me, this means I will never again have to pull out the measuring spoons, check the spice cabinet for orange zest, chip a nail opening the ‘pour’ section of the plastic top, or over-pour a few extra teaspoons of paprika into the sink.

Nope, that kind of old-fashioned, season-as-you-go cooking is so 2009. We can say goodbye to recipe personality, creative cooking and one-of-a-kind dishes. But isn’t that a small price to pay for tear it open, shake it on and ta-da! Perfect pork chops infused with apple spices (and at least five other spices I can’t remember right now.) We reviewed the entire line of new spices-make-the-meal combinations. Then we put them all back in their slots.

Across the aisle we found the perfect dessert. In a little single-serve cup. Just add water. Then microwave it for about 40 seconds. I wanted the black velvet cake with caramel sauce; my husband wanted the bananas foster, also with caramel sauce. After about fifteen seconds of imaginary sugar-infused joy, I turned the box and read the list of ingredients. God knows. We put the boxes back on the shelf.

So there you have it. Pre-measured spices that turn a pork chop into a meal. A cup of premixed dry ingredients that after half a minute in a microwave emerges as a gooey, hot dessert. Hey, I like convenience as much as the next person but this is almost too much. This sort of thing is the exact opposite of a nutritious, healthy diet program called “mindful eating.” This is “mindless cooking” that results in “mindless eating.” We could take a step back even further and call this kind of grocery store experience “mindless shopping.” By mindless consumers who seemingly stopped thinking a long time ago.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Retreat or refresh? Maybe it's both.

I wonder about the word “nesting.” I never thought much about it, other than to note that I uniformly hate it when the modern lexicon turns a noun into a verb.

And yet, how do you explain the following, other than to chalk it up to “nesting?” The boys all returned to college yesterday, and as we packed up, unplugged and loaded everything into and then out of the car, I knew what I would do when I returned home. Strip their beds, turn and flip mattresses, then wash everything from pads to pillows, only to remake them, complete with hospital corners and fluffed up pillows. I grant you, that’s a far cry from twigs, twine and tree bark – or anything else birds use to create a sturdy nest. But it felt right to me.

At various points in my life, I’ve thought about the comfort I could find in my parents’ home. Even as a grown woman with children of my own, I’ve had moments where the idea of curling up on my old bed, with a warm blanket pulled over me felt like it would solve a lot of problems. There have been days, admittedly most often when I was living with three children under the age of two, where I wanted nothing more than to take a very long nap in my old room. Maybe by sleeping in that space, I would feel closer to my younger self, one who had a lifetime ahead of her and none of the real world challenges of marriage, motherhood, jobs and responsibilities. Intellectually, I know nothing would change on the outside, but emotionally, the cocoon of safety and “everything will be okay” lingered in my imagination.

Maybe that’s what I’m trying to preserve for my own children. With every year, they’re inching closer to adulthood, and the thousands of good and bad adult things that come with it. They’re in the midst of the college experience, sleeping in beds that will provide little more than resting places for about a year before they move on. It may resonate for them in some small, unspoken way that ‘coming home’ means, among other things, that a soft, welcoming, familiar bed is waiting. One I’ve made up for them with love, affection, a bit of loneliness, a stretch to tuck in a corner that makes me feel every bit of my age, and a tiny sigh of relief/regret.

Since I moved out almost thirty years ago, I’ve never actually gone to my parents’ home and taken that tempting ‘escape from life’ nap. Knowing the option was there and available was almost as rejuvenating. I’m positive not one of my sons spends as much as a nanosecond contemplating his bed at home, or the sheets, the pillows, or the comforter on it. But I hope they know that in the decades ahead, it can be their quasi-escape from adulthood. It doesn’t really matter if they ever actually stretch out on it or not, nor does it matter where we call ‘home’ at that time. It’s there whenever they need it.

Boys will be girls...sort of.

For yet another "study" that leaves me confused, check out today's column in The Daily Caller. I'd love to hear what you think about it.

At it's most extreme, could it be possible to "breed" docile behavior into humanity? A kind of 'Stepford Husbands?' Would we really want to?

Hope you enjoy.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Winding down.

I’ve found one simple tool every single person in the Western world over the age of forty can use. It will help us assess, in a matter of seconds, what sort of person we’re speaking with, his or her views of the world and how they interact in society. Honestly, it will take one or two seconds.

You ready? Here is it: next time you meet someone for the first time, look at his or her wrist. What do you find there? If you see a watch, you have someone who is simpatico with you; someone you can connect with, bond with, and someone with whom you can laugh off the quirks of life. You are very likely to have the following in common: they remember going to banks to cash a paycheck, missing phone calls and television shows because they weren’t at home, getting busy signals, and unfolding then reading maps while driving or buying convenient Trip Tiks from AAA. They remember using IBM Selectrics, turning handles to roll down car windows and drinking something vile yet addictive called Tab.

Now, look at that wrist again. If it’s empty, they know none of this. They share very little of your life experiences. In fact, it would be nearly impossible for any of them to imagine not having the following options available to them: getting cash from a bank 24 hours a day, sending text messages and getting a nearly immediate response from the one or the forty people who receive it, watching almost any television show they want to whenever they want to watch it, or following a satellite navigational system in the car to reach an unfamiliar destination. They don’t know how a backspace key corrected an error on a typewriter, or how a window could get lowered on the passenger side of car from the driver’s side, or why anyone would drink anything other than Diet Cherry Dr. Pepper or Cherry Coke Zero.

Decades ago, the generational lines were drawn according to hairstyles. Or clothing, or music, or even by the kinds of books we read. People who "got it" read Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg and listened to Dylan; people who didn't read William F. Buckley and Ayn Rand and listened to the Kingston Trio.

Those examples are so last century. Seems that the new generational divide has emerged on our wrists. People who belong to the uber-wired and connected generation have never worn watches and probably never will. The older-but-forced–to-be-wired among us wear watches…everyday. Possible exception to our rule: weekends, or vacations, when we want to feel “free.” How very hip we are.

No, younger people don’t seem to “get” the idea of a watch. They have cell phones. Why wear a watch that gives you the date and time? And? That’s it? Please. There’s an app that will also give them the time in Uzbekistan if they want it.

Like much of the wired gadgetry that surrounds us, this makes me a little sad. What will young men pass along to their sons fifty years or sixty from now? It won’t be the classic Hamilton or the stylish Movado or the elegant Rolex. Somehow, cherishing Dad’s vintage Blackberry or elegant I-phone doesn’t sound quite so special.

What feels somewhat lost to me here is the simple “nature” of the thing itself. The idea of a watch, that spent the better part of its working life attached to the wrist of a beloved father, or uncle or grandfather that now ticks away quietly against another wrist during another lifetime is somehow reassuring and constant. The wristwatch a mother wore as she wound her way through a typical day that included family and job and all manner of activities at the turn of the millennium that is then clasped around her granddaughter’s wrist circa 2050 sounds delightful, doesn’t it?

Meh, as the kids say. Yes, perhaps this is an overstatement of reality but for how long? Who can say? Maybe sentiment like this is also so twentieth century.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

a new year, a new megaphone

A request of my blog visitors:

In The Daily Caller, you'll find an interesting, enthusiastic new voice in cyberspace. Please hop online and browse around...

and when you do, please check out my column(first of many I hope!) in the Opinion section. Comments welcome, in fact encouraged!

Thanks as always for the support of the blog, which will continue to be the place I comment on the world and the many aspects of it that make little sense to me. But I do hope you visit - and enjoy - The Daily Caller.

Friday, January 08, 2010

What you don't know only makes you...clueless.

I’m starting to think that there’s a moment in almost everyone’s life where they feel really, really smart. Where you have confidence, swagger, positive feelings and an unparalleled belief that you are in control of your destiny. I’m also certain that moment hasn’t yet happened for me.

Honest to God, most of the time I feel like I must have experienced some kind of coma or otherwise unconscious period that no one talks about, where I lost possibly many years of everyday, ‘everyone-knows-that’ type of accumulated knowledge. I can’t be certain this coma actually ever happened, probably because everyone around me is either too polite to bring it up or doesn’t want to stir up their own memories of that time. But I’m pretty sure that had to have happened.

Otherwise, there is almost no explanation for something like this:

Tonight as we sat around the table enjoying our Friday night pizza, I mentioned that a colleague had emailed me an aerial photo of England, which showed the country covered in this season’s surprising amount of snowfall. He also told me that last night, it was colder in the Scottish Highlands than it was in Antarctica. (That sounds about right to me. I once shivered through one of the coldest evenings of my life in Edinburgh, Scotland – in July.)

This conversation led to one of my sons talking about the first Ice Age, which came about when an enormous iceberg type thing (I don’t think he actually said ‘type thing’) broke off of Greenland and as it melted, masses of frigid, cold air wafted over Europe and sent the continent into a deep freeze. Everyone at the table seemed to know that was the cause of the first Ice Age except me.) He claims it’s happening again and that’s why so much of the world is experiencing such a harsh winter.

The conversation shifted slightly, and we discussed the very cold weather in Florida and what that might do to the citrus crops growing there. Following that, we had a brief global warming / climate change / skeptic / supporter debate that didn’t get too far. And that’s really for the best. Friday nights and pizza are not built for debate.

Somehow, that launched a discussion about dinosaurs and how interesting it is that no one really, truly knows exactly what killed them off. I offered some pathetic explanation about ‘the cold’ killing them (as if the boys had never heard that before.) The conversation then took a turn again, into a discussion about the meteor that hit the earth and how the resulting gasses and particles that lingered from it blocked the sun, creating the cold that killed the dinosaurs.

Ahem. What? A meteor hit the earth? It did? And blocked the sun? And killed dinosaurs?

My kids looked at me in disbelief. “Well yeah! [Implied but not stated: “You didn’t know that?”] It may have been the same meteor that some people say created the Gulf of Mexico.”

Ahem. A meteor created the Gulf of Mexico?

“Well, it could have but then how could you explain Pangaea? Where did that land go? How could the continents have been connected if it took a meteor to create the Gulf of Mexico?” [I’m pretty sure that last part may have been for my benefit but inexplicably, I did know what Pangaea was. I really did.]

Let’s recap. I had no idea that melting icebergs created the first Ice Age in Europe. I had no idea a meteor had ever hit the earth. I had no idea that the cold that resulted from that meteor blocking the sun may have killed dinosaurs and created the gulf of water off of Mexico.

I’ve left out the carbon-dating discussion, the creationist vs. scientists and the ridiculous nature of the Creationist Museum, and finally, the roster of the members of the Wu Tang Clan, along with the complete CV of The RZA and his upcoming book, The Tao of Wu. If you’re confused, imagine being me at that table. And I live there.

So there it is. Well, most of it. A very partial, very rudimentary list of the bits of accumulated knowledge I missed out on while I existed in a multi-year (secret) coma. God knows what we’ll talk about next Friday.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Committed to reading something else.

Oh my Lord. It’s here and it’s far from fabulous (if you believe the review in The Times.) But who couldn’t have predicted that?

I’m talking about the new book from author Elizabeth Gilbert: Committed: A Skeptic Makes Peace with Marriage. Just in case you’ve been occupied with living, contemplating or otherwise been caught up in your own life for the past several years, you may not have had the chance to worship at the altar of what MSN called a literary juggernaut, Eat Pray Love. I’ve written all I care to about that book in columns and on this blog, so I’m moving on to the news about her new book, Committed.

Here we go: Seriously? Really? It’s difficult to choose my favorite part of Gilbert’s interview on MSN but I’ll offer these for consideration:

1. “Britney out” - "'re in battle against yourself. This sort of cannibalistic self-competition ... this is largely why people Britney out." Gilbert uses this term (in earnest) to describe the idea that sometimes success destroys people, especially people who never stop trying to top their latest achievement. I’m not sure if she coined it but it’s annoying and somehow superior-sounding. This is the best one of our best-selling authors could do to voice her distaste for self-destructive behavior? Brilliant.

2. On the possibility of being mother: “I've often thought that if I had been married to somebody who wanted to be a mom, I could have done it. I used to say, "Man, I think I'd be a really good dad. I'll be a great provider. I'm funny; I'll go on trips with them — I'll do all sorts of stuff." But the momming? I'm not made for that. I have a really good mom; I know what she put into it. I didn't think I had the support to both have that and continue on this path that was really important to me.”

Translation: Dads are providers who possess a sense of humor, a love of adventure and other kinds of ‘stuff.’ Moms are…humorless home bodies. How is this train of thought even possible in a woman as cosmopolitan and sophisticated as Gilbert? She’s not in her seventies or eighties; she’s forty years old. We’ve come a long way, baby.

3. On her husband and their partnership: “We've been together five and a half years now, and I have never had that man put a plate of food in front of me where I didn't feel like I was in holy rapture. Because I never, ever, ever saw, in my entire life, a man bring a plate of food to a woman. Because it wasn't his job.”

Note to self: thank my husband for the dinners he prepares much more often that I. I hadn’t realized that made him such an item of curiosity in the 21st century. (He’s exactly the same age as Gilbert’s husband by the way.) Once again, how is she a forty-year old professional woman in the Western world who has never been connected to a man who prepared and served her a plate of food? Is it that freakish?

4. On travel and spontaneity: “When I was in Mexico when I was 20 [note: she previously disclosed that she traveled to Africa when she was nineteen], I remember meeting this American couple who were in their 60s, and they said, "Oh, it's so great that you're traveling now, before you have kids, because you won't be able to then." I know this is a thing that people do; they go traveling for a year, and then they hitch their leash to the wall and put their face in their feed bag and that's the end of it. And I thought, "But I might want to keep doing this," you know?”

“…hitch their leash to the wall and put their face in their feedbag…” I'm sorry. Would that be similar the actions involved in choosing to create a home, putting down some roots, developing some constancy and building a life within a community, surrounded by family (including children you adore) and friends you love?

I kind of can’t really go on with this except to say that much of this is very amusing. During her interview, Gilbert acknowledges that she is comfortable with her persona: “….I'm not what's being said about me, either in the highest praise or the highest criticism. I know I'm not a self-indulgent idiot; I also know I'm not the second coming of Deepak Chopra. [And thank God for that. One is quite enough, thank you.] If I had believed either of those, or both, as some people do when they get famous, that's when the mental illness arrives.”

In other words, she is not an extreme. I get that; few people are. And yet, she has very clear and defined images of others. They are either bread-winners or they are busy “momming.” They are either globetrotting adventurers or they’re hitched to a wall with their faces in feedbags. Mental illness must be on their collective doorsteps.

How very enlightened. How very open-minded. How very entitled. And since I’ll never get back the hours I put into Eat, Pray, Love, I think I’ll pass on Committed.