Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Me vs. That Lady From MSNBC

“Every choice has a consequence,” the trim blonde with the chic bob tells Stephen Colbert on his Comedy Central show. She is entirely serious. “And that’s sort of what I try to lay out here. But I try to lay that out here.”

The pretty news anchor has written about how hard it is to be a pretty news anchor and a mom. God, I wish I could feel her pain. I wish I could think that her life was so tough and so compelling that I’d love to read about her struggles. Oh, to be a pretty news anchor and a mom and feel like making money was important. Just because I wanted to. Not because I had to.

Because some people actually have to, lady.

“You say that mothers shouldn’t feel guilty about having to work…” Stephen says to her… And she tries to combat him and says she thinks people should talk about this.

And I want to wring her na├»ve neck. Because while she kept her name (I likely may?) and she wanted to keep a job, but can obviously afford childcare and doesn’t have to worry about paying for that childcare and her bills… She instead writes about the guilt and compromises of trying to be everything at one time.

Now, I will give you that I’m not your average woman. I’m an Ivy League-educated writer who has taken months off from having a corporate day job to write, think about what she wants to be when she grows up and really just give herself some slack for the first time. But while the book I’m writing touches on a lot of personal subjects, none of them deal with how hard it is to be a rich white woman with a husband and two children and a career with a national cable news network. Nope.

I’m not an asshole.

Having spent years as a rape crisis counselor and fighting for women’s rights, I am a bit taken aback by her solipsistic memoir. But I suppose the pretty blonde news anchor point of view lends one to believe that everyone wants to know how hard it has been for you to be so pretty. Everyone relates. Really. We do.

I’m not saying I’m not pretty. But for the love of god, I will never hand any of you a book that talks about how I’m pretty and smart and “gee, I still have real people problems!”

Mostly because I feel like I’ve had some pretty unique experiences, perhaps unpleasant on a unique scale (I did have surgery on my face while I was awake at 18…) but I would also never assume that my experience of work and money were at all universal. I grew up with my parents. My father was a New Jersey surgeon. My mother is a nurse. But she took time off for years to care for her four children. We were a handful. But we weren’t poor. Far from it.

Am I being self-absorbed? Maybe. Selfish? Maybe. Delusional? I don’t think so. I think I have a good story to tell, and I’ve begun crafting that book. It’s scary though. Especially when I see people who I think have written their stories and are so very earnest. And I don’t want to dislike them, but then they show up on television pimping their tales and well.

Lady, I’m sorry you think it’s really hard to have a high-profile, high-paying job and have kids at the same time. That’s not a news flash. It’s the story of so many women’s lives. Oh wait, not so many after all. Women may be making strides, but we’re still not in charge. And as long as we make the babies, I think we will perhaps never want the lives we see men lead.

I am contemplating my future career and how it will work with motherhood in the next ten years. I want three. Maybe two. But hopefully three. Then they won’t just learn compromise, they’ll learn negotiation. And they’ll learn to stand up for themselves when the majority is against them. Three is a good number. (From experience, four is better because then the downtrodden has a buddy. The fourth never lets the cheese stand alone unless the cheese is really, really wrong…)

But I digress, as I often do.

I watched a storyteller talk about her lame story and got angry about both her subject matter (so?) and her mannerisms (stop feeling entitled!), but somehow feel my own story is better?

I guess I’m so anti-that-author because I’m both jealous and afraid.

I wish I were just a pretty news anchor.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Elegance Defined?

At a party at my old apartment in Cambridge, Mass., down the block from the now-defunct but much beloved B-Side Lounge (which I learned met its demise in a divorce settlement, not because people stopped loving its decadent gouda skillet and unparalleled mint juleps), back in the day, a conversation started about elegance.

What was elegance? Who has it? What embodies it? Are some things inherently elegant while others never could be, even if Audrey Hepburn herself were to wield them?

(Sometimes its important to think about things that aren't very important. It keeps us from going crazy.)

Today some friends and I were discussing the recent trend toward formality in both dress and mannerisms in the younger generation after a piece on the LA Times blog "The Art of Manliness" defended its own propensity for nostalgia. A NY Times article last month talked about the return of the suit as a rebellion against the business-casual aesthetic and who doesn't love the art direction and dapper elegance of Don Draper in "Mad Men"? I told them about the party, the list and we started to come up with our own list of things that evoked images of elegance and nostalgia for things we never experienced... Following are a few we came up with:

Top hats. Manhattans. Audrey Hepburn. Oxford shoes. The Great Gatsby. Grace Kelly sunglasses. Red lipstick. Old Fashioneds. Steinbeck. Silk scarves. Pearls. A clean shave. French New Wave films. Brigitte Bardot. Aston Martins. Chanel No. 5. Gray leather handbags. Bowties. Charlie Chaplin. White Dinner Jackets. Old rolltop desks with old-school phones. Pintuck curls. Paul Newman. Trouser socks. Beauty parlors. Liquid eyeliner. False eyelashes. Whole milk. Extra butter. Heels with ankle straps. Leather journals. Convertibles. Ella Fitzgerald. Sailboats. Oysters at Balthazar. Real champagne. Good manners.

What's on your list?