1. Keeping your mouth shut is often much smarter than saying something.
2. It's pointless to be jealous of anyone else, because almost everyone has problems you don't realize.
You may be reading both of those and saying, "Duuuuuuuuuh," but they're not all that obvious when you're younger. There are still times when I consciously employ #1 because my stupid comment is really unnecessary, even if I might think I'm funny.
And #2 really applies to almost everyone. There is pretty much no one who has a perfect life. But when you're a kid, you sure think so. Your friend's parents seem way cooler than yours, and your other friend has a nice three-story house, and your other friend is popular. Then you find out years later that those friends' parents were into "wife swapping." (You only find this out because your dad bumps into one of them at "Parents without Partners.")
Even knowing that it's silly to be jealous, I used to get jealous a lot -- mostly in my twenties. Your twenties can really be about that. Some people spend age 21-29 stumbling around, and other seem to fall quickly into a permanent life plan. You measure your life against those latter people. You see them in the Times wedding section: Classmate, 26, a newly minted lawyer (law school only takes four years, you remind yourself), married to someone he/she met two years ago in law school. They've already trumped you in occupation AND in relationships. You don't mind too much, because you know 26 is young, but you don't want EVERYONE to get married and figure out their whole career before you do. It's not always about jealousy;sometimes it's about just worrying that you're not doing something right.
I had to stop reading the Sunday Times in my late twenties because I was too jealous of too many parts of it. It started with the weddings page, then went to the book reviews. And then, jealous of other classmates who were writers and had essays or stories in the Magazine, the Travel section, the New Jersey section...
But I digress.
Of course, ending up in the right place in my life finally stopped me from being jealous. But I learned early enough that you can't envy someone else's perfect life, because it is rarely perfect.
Even though I took a lot of photos in Paterson yesterday, why did I settle on this seemingly ordinary one to post today? It makes me think about the people who live on this block in Paterson. It's just around the corner from a main downtown street full of bars and old shops, and across the street from the waterfalls, but decades removed from any real liveliness. The silk industry left town eons ago, so this street slumbers quietly, with people passing through town not realizing the neighborhood's significance or history.
Imagine strolling this street on a hot summer night. In the distance, the sign for the liquor store blinks on and off, and if you approach, you can hear its low buzz. The muggy air sticks to your skin, and you look off, not seeing anyone else, knowing that they are likely inside, in front of those TV sets you see glowing blue through the open windows. Most people are smart enough to be off what have gradually become less safe streets. You are looking for something but you don't know what - maybe signs of life where there used to be so much.
Second tallest waterfalls on the East Coast. Hubby and I went there today.
(By the way, he proposed to me in front of a waterfall! But not in New Jersey.)
RECOMMENDATION: preface with a trip to roadside eatery Rutt's Hutt in Clifton, eight miles away, known for their hot dogs, and then follow up at Applegate Farm in Montclair for great ice cream flavors.
The blogs of most people I know used to be more interesting when they wrote about their dates, but they're better off not doing that anymore. Some of them have since (a) either gotten into relationships and realized the value of privacy, or (b) realized that writing about your life too much can sometimes thwart future relationships, especially if people you go on dates with find your blog.
But I thought of a dating story I could put up here to entertain all six of you. It happened long enough ago and the person is unidentifiable, so why not?
So this happened when I was about 25. I had started a writing group two years ago in my hometown. I advertised it in the local newspapers and in signs around town, and occasionally I got a call from someone new.
One time, this guy called me, let's call him Seth. He was about my age, a Jewish guy who was into film. He was already in a writing group in the Barnes & Noble in his hometown of Morristown, NJ, but wanted to find a more serious group.
He came to my group for a meeting and seemed to like it. A few days after it, he called me. We talked about the group for a bit, but it seemed like he had other intentions in mind (good!)
"What I was really wondering..." he said, "was, have you ever heard of the movies 'Clerks' or 'Mall Rats'?"
The answer I gave was likely exactly what he wanted. "I saw Clerks and I loved it!" I said. "I haven't seen Mall Rats yet, but I really want to."
I had actually written about the independent film "Clerks" a year earlier because one of the bit parts was played by a guy who lived in my town, and since I wrote for the town newspaper, I had profiled him and seen an early cut of "Clerks." I instantly became a big fan of the flick.
It turned out that "Seth" was taking classes at NYU, as he was a film editor. Kevin Smith, the writer and director of both Clerks and Mall Rats, was scheduled to give a talk at NYU in a few days, and screen "Mall Rats." Seth had free tickets to the lecture because he was taking the film editing classes.
Sounded good to me. Yay! A date with an interesting guy my age! And to see Mall Rats, too.
Anyway, the auditorium was packed. Without much ado, they first screened "Mall Rats."
Well, the movie sucked. Miramax had given Kevin Smith a bundle of dough to make it, based on the popularity of Clerks, and he squandered it on the kind of film you'd make to live out your childhood fantasies. He played the character of Silent Bob just like in Clerks, except that in this flick, "Silent Bob" got to fly around and not be so silent. The humor was puerile and the plot was thin. Clerks had plenty of bad language, but it seemed natural and clever; Mall Rats was just a bunch of doody jokes. (I still like some Kevin Smith films but can't stand others...I loved Chasing Amy and Jersey Girl, but Clerks II was AWFUL.)
Anyway, after the film finished, Kevin swaggered on stage in his shorts. "All right," he said, "I know it's a piece of shit."
The audience laughed.
He said his next film, Chasing Amy, would be better. It would also contain the characters Silent Bob and Jay, and would "kind of give them back their dignity," he said.
He introduced some of the stars of "Mall Rats," whom he said he'd gotten from the "Dazed and Confused" cast - Joey Lauren Adams, Ben Affleck, Jeremy London, Jason Lee. I really knew little about any of them. (It was before Affleck really exploded; more on that later.)
People started asking Kevin questions, including whether it was true he was going out with Joey Lauren Adams.
"Yes," he said bashfully. "She and I are...dating."
He also tried to give props to the other stars. "He wrote a great script, Ben Affleck," Smith said, referring to some screenplay called "Good Will Hunting" that was in development.
I had a question, too. I raised my hand.
"I saw an early version of 'Clerks...' " I said. "In it, Dante gets shot at the end. But in the one you released in theaters, he doesn't get shot. Why did you change the ending?"
Smith smiled. "How did you see an earlier version?"
"This guy who lives in my town had a role in it," I said.
"Who was it?"
"His name was...hmmm. I can't remember. I remembered it before I came."
Smith repeated: " 'I remembered it before I came.' Boy, isn't that something we've heard before." That got a lot of laughs. Eek, how embarrassing. My date seemed ok with it, though.
Anyway, Smith said that his producers felt that after you enjoy getting to know the main character through the whole film, it's a shame to just let him die, so they changed the ending.
SO...back to the dating part.
I was really digging the Q&A, and really liked listening to Smith. But my throat was hurting. It had been hurting all day. Still, I wanted to listen.
"Do you want to go get something to eat?" Seth asked me.
Actually, I wanted to hear more of Kevin Smith. But I said ok.
We walked a few blocks to Great Jones Street and ate at the Great Jones Cafe. Seth told me more about himself. He'd gone as an undergrad to some college in Michigan. He'd been kicked out of his fraternity.
"Why did they kick you out?" I asked.
"They claimed it was because I smoked too much pot," he said. "But when I was pledging, they used access to pot as one of the reasons you should join the fraternity."
I didn't really like that too much, but just because someone smoked too much pot in school, didn't mean they did now. The rest of the dinner went ok, but I didn't find myself that interested in him. I figured I'd go on another date if he asked, but I didn't feel that excited, for some reason. I tried, though. (I always tried!)
I happened to mention that my throat was hurting, so I should get on home. (I used to get strep throat once or twice each year, before I started gargling with Listerine. Sounds like a commercial, but true.)
As we were walking out of the restaurant, he said, "There's this movie that's been going around, a cartoon of Jesus fighting with Santa Claus."
I didn't know at the time that this would be the short film that would launch the careers of the creators of "South Park."
"Do you want to come to my place and see it?" he asked.
"Now?" I said. It was close to midnight, and it was our first date, and my throat really hurt.
"Sure," he said.
I apologized and told him I was too tired and sick, but maybe another time.
Anyway, he called me a few days later, and I still wasn't feeling that well, but we talked a bit. Didn't make any plans. Then when I was feeling better, I felt guilty so I called him to chat. But he seemed uninterested this time.
A year or two later, I was flipping through the TV channels and saw some new, low-budget TV series on channel 11, whose credits were rolling. I saw Seth's name as film editor. It could be another person with the same name, but I figured it was probably him. He'd made it out to Los Angeles and become a film editor like he'd wanted. Good for him!
Right now, I don't actually remember either his first or last name, although I think his first name may have been Adam. It was something Jewish, anyway.
Another year or two later, Kevin Smith came to do a talk in my hometown, this time about "Chasing Amy," which I liked a lot better. I got to interview him and I told him I'd been at his NYU talk. "That was a great night," he said. "Everyone was there!" (Meaning Affleck etc.)
Well, that's the whole story. And now I've just written a really long blog entry on something very inconsequential, but at least you get a small glimpse into my fabulous dating life in my twenties. Sorry, not very tawdry, was it? The sparks only flew when I met the hubby. It's too bad hubby had to see Clerks II with me, the poor guy. Somehow he still liked me after that.
Blogfan Sam writes: "I tried looking up Adam SomethingJewish on IMDb, with no luck. I was sure I would find a "SomethingJewish" in a Mel Brooks movie, but no luck there either. Oh well, I tried. There's actually a www.somethingjewish.co.uk, but I don't think it's Adam."
Update 2: A different Sam (yes, really, two of my six readers go by 'Sam') wrote to tell me that Adam is not strictly a Jewish name, being that it goes back to...well, Adam. Yes, true. Just seems like when I was growing up, it was more popular among Jooz.
(May 11) - More than 10 years ago, Brian Monaghan was diagnosed with stage 4 melanoma that spread to his brain. Doctors gave him six months to live, but he's still alive today. He credits his wife, Gerri, for his survival and said on Good Morning America that she was his biggest advocate for beating his cancer.
"There are other things that may have helped me make it, but I would be dead it were not for what she did," Brian, a former trial lawyer, said in the interview, which was broadcast Monday.Immediately after her husband was diagnosed with cancer, Gerri made a list of how to fight the illness and put it into a folder called "To the War." That list and subsequent writings were the basis for the couple's new book, 'The Power of Two: Surviving Serious Illness with an Attitude and an Advocate.'
In it, the Monaghans lay out 50 tips on how to survive a serious illness with the help of an advocate.
"You're on emotional overload when you're the patient. And I think the most vital thing an advocate can do is be there (in a doctor's office), bring a notebook with you, write it down and make doctors speak to you in a language you understand," Gerri said.
My mom and I watched Changeling, which as a friend pointed out is an "odd choice for Mother's Day" considering the subject matter. Good movie, though.
Quote from Mom:
"I shop at Whole Foods in New York now, and I found this mozzarella cheese with no fat, no salt, and no cholesterol. Absolutely nothing bad. It looks like putty and tastes like putty. (pause) Want some?"
We went to Manhattan this morning to participate in a walk to raise money for women's cancers, particularly breast cancer.
It was the hubby's idea because he said he always wanted to do it, so we registered two months ago. I'm proud of him.
We also learned about a new website: www.chemo-couture.com, if you know anyone who might benefit from it.
****If you are reading this and are a female, do your monthly breast check, and have your annual ob/gyn exam. Catching things early means your best chance for survival! I'm talking to you. Yes, YOU.
Fran Drescher also said that if you don't feel well, if you feel something wrong, keep asking questions of doctors. She said she had to go to eight different docs before she got a correct diagnosis of uterine cancer!