starting to get addicted to…

You know that saying “Once on your lips, forever on your hips”? That’s the way I feel about celebrity gossip.

Not literally, of course. I don’t think talking about Justin Beiber will give you thunder thighs (but maybe you should stop talking about him anyway, just in case). I think talking about him or investing any time into knowing personal facts about his life will stick with you and find a way to permeate other areas of your life in which it doesn’t belong. But let’s be honest, errant gossip about teenagers or anyone you don’t know doesn’t really belong in your life.*

For instance, I know way too much about Jennifer Aniston.

I know she drinks Smart Water, is dating Justin Theroux (whoever that is), has dated John Mayer, is the daughter of Victor (real name John Aniston) from Day’s of Our Lives (my favorite fact about her!) and is divorced from Brad Pitt.

There are numerous ways I could have written that last fact: had her husband stolen from her by Angelina Jolie, as if he were a possession; was betrayed by her husband, Brad Pitt, for the bombshell Angelina Jolie –as if I actually know anything about the state of Brad and Jen’s marriage at that time; et cetera, et cetera.

The point is: I know too much. We all know too much.

I know so much that I have formed a theory about Jennifer Aniston.

America, or specifically, the American press, will never grow tired of/feel satisfied with Jennifer Aniston’s life  until she is married to a billionaire Greek shipping magnate, being photographed with that assthat hair and that smile off the coast of Mykonos while we deal with unyielding hot or cold weather and expanding waistlines stateside. Because we are obsessed with subscribing emotions to her and our own versions of happy endings for her, regardless of what her happy ending might be. Because she already gave us a happy ending once. Because we’re great with beginnings but can’t deal with the endings that we get. Because we’re still obsessed with her fairy tale.

The idea of happy endings, misrepresented beginnings and unexpected conclusions all lead to my current addiction. I’m starting to get a teensy, tin bit obsessed/addicted to Mia Farrow, by way of Woody Allen (I know, I know)

A letter from Mia to her stepdaughter, Nancy Sinatra:

My children are a continuous joy. The latest is Soon-Yi (aged 6, 7 or 8 — we’re saying 7). She’s from Korea — was found abandoned in the streets of Seoul — with rickets, malnutrition — even her finger nails had fallen off, she had lice and sores everywhere. Now she speaks English and is learning to read, write, play piano, dance ballet & ride a horse. She is also learning that people can be believed in and even loved. These are golden times and I am aware of that every single second.

After reading this TIME article from 1992, I’m really feeling a Jennifer/Brad/Angelina vibe from Woody and Mia, in that the press portrayed them as the perfect love story and of course they were spectacularly wrong about that, at least in the end.

 

Mia’s humanitarian goals and status as “the betrayed” makes her both Angelina and Jennifer.

Her ethereal, whimsical nature is something worth looking up to, even if it’s just on the surface.

“I get it now; I didn’t get it then. That life is about losing and about doing it as gracefully as possible…and enjoying everything in between.”

I get it now.

I get it now.

 

*That is an unintentionally misleading statement. I also don’t think gossip concerning people you do know belongs anywhere in your life. But, if we’re being honest here (and I’m always being honest here) my psyche is stuck in constant turmoil between being Cady Heron Before and Cady Heron after. It’s a process.

 

 

 

 

 

her failure was a useful preliminary to success

Last week I finished Edith Wharton’s 1920s investigation of changing cultural norms in The Custom of the Country. The protagonist, Undine Spragg, is a conspicuous consumer and a social climber with a prime spot for advancement in the changing landscape of 1920s New York, where the divide between old money and everyone else began to vanish as industrialization and extreme capitalism found their way into society.

The rows of girls and boys in my class dressed in such conspicuous brand names that they might as well be wearing dollar signs, quickly claimed their resentment of Undine. Her obsession with appearance is disgusting, they said. Her behavior is selfish and crass—why would Edith Wharton write such an awful character? They take her as a caricature and ignore their reflections in her words and actions.

I finish the five hundred page book quickly and I’m embarrassed to see myself at sixteen, eighteen and sometimes even now, as a reflection of parts of Undine. I think of ambition and how quickly it can ruin lives when unchecked. I think about my goals…

Last semester, during a random book sale on campus, I bought a copy of The Age of Innocence, Edith’s Pulitzer winning novel. I meant to read it that Spring, which turned into last summer and now I’ve set it in a longer, more realistic timeline.

That timeline simplifies everything and adds it as a task in my growing list of 43 Things.

The goal is this: I want to read Edith Wharton’s first twelve novels.

She wrote 22 novels but published multiple essays and collections of short stories. For now, this is a perfect starting point. I have Ethan Frome, The House of Mirth and The Age of innocence. I think I can knock out at least two of them by April.

1. The Touchstone, 1900

2. The Valley of Decision, 1902

3. Sanctuary, 1903

4. The House of Mirth, 1905

5. Madame de Treymes, 1907

6. The Fruit of the Tree, 1907

7. Ethan Frome, 1911

8. The Reef, 1912

9. The Custom of the Country, 1913

10. Summer, 1917

11. The Marne, 1918

12. The Age of Innocence, 1920

If you click the link above, you can find a list of 19 goals I’d like to accomplish. My number one goal? To find a REAL goal!

Two weeks ago, when I was feeling especially overwhelmed with my life and obligations, I met with a time management advisor who asked me to list at least three goals I had.

And man, why didn’t anyone tell me about that dunce cap I had been wearing for the past year? I had been goalless! I failed to reflect on anything that I was doing and I wasn’t moving towards anything. I have a few things listed on actual paper that I shared with the advisor and I’m getting there.

Here’s to another week of living. Celebrate it!