Sunday, May 22, 2011

When it comes to our exes, what can we really ex-pect?


About every eight months or so, I can feel it coming on, the way my knees ache before it rains.  It arrives with either the advent of spring (although in NY right now that seems premature), or around thanksgiving, where I get a message from an ex I haven’t heard from in awhile.  And the more time that accrues since my divorce, the more exes (unfortunately) exist.

After my husband and I separated, I had the classic rebound. Although at the time, of course it didn’t feel like a rebound. It felt serious. I was in love, and had all the symptoms to prove it, including the depression and heartache that followed after he broke up with me, with no warning (in retrospect, there was naturally plenty of warning that I couldn’t see). It took me a long time to get over that one. But regardless, I knew it was over, and whether it was pride or the practical acceptance that there was never going to be a round two, I deleted his information and never initiated contact. Not a single impulse text was sent (doesn’t mean I didn’t write them).  

Everyone handles breakups differently. For me, it's like the flip of a switch. No matter how powerful the yearnings or temptations to reach out can be at times, when I know something is over, I resist. I’m not sure if it’s how I’m built, or a protective reflex - or both - but I am grateful that needy post break up reach-outs are just not my M.O. I always hear a voice (I think it’s my Israeli relatives, or my father’s), saying, “What’s the point? What do you want to get out of it?” And if I know that the guy can’t provide me with any more answers or closure, and it is something I need to find within myself, the option to abstain is obvious.

But that doesn’t mean it’s the same on the other end. Just last week, I heard from my last boyfriend (not a surprise since it’s recent), my ex-rebound, and my ex-husband. The last two relationships are 4-5 years old, and so I’m always surprised by the sporadic reemergence of their names in my inbox. The content of the emails vary, yet they all seem colored by the hue of regret, no matter how veiled the attempt. It feels like the metaphorical pebble is being thrown at my (closed and locked) window.

Why now?  Do they sense that I’m single again, or is it just the natural cycles of time, or the weather, that sparks discontent in their current relationships, and the consequential remembrance of the “one that got away?”

I have to say, it is not flattering to hear that you’re the one that got away. Especially when you’re the one who was broken up with or it seemed mutual. For some women it might provide a jolt of vindication and ego inflation (and I get that. You’re allowed to say “yay!”) But for me, at this stage in my life, it incites frustration.  I can’t help but wonder whether it is just a pattern I should accept, or whether it is me, and my choice in men - if I date guys that aren’t able to make it stick. But then why do they come back (not that they actually would, or that I want them to). 

Is it ego, or the pretty lens of nostalgia that tempts them back as a potential solution to their current relationship dissatisfaction? And of course it begs the question, what does it reveal about them, when they are in a relationship and emailing an ex-girlfriend?

Will I ever know the real reason, even if I decide to write back? Are these men able to express the underlying motivation for their sudden engagement?

Do they even know for themselves, what “the point is”?

Note: I intentionally didn’t wrap this post up with a neat little answer bow. Because I don’t know. (But I can rhyme!) So I’d love to hear what my readers have to say in this regard.










Sunday, May 15, 2011

NYC: Which is more difficult to find - an apartment, or a man?


It all depends on the quality you’re seeking. There’s an expression I learned back when I started making films.  You want your movie to be three things: “Fast, inexpensive, and good.” But the thing is, you can only have two out of three.

It applies to apartments too. If you’re prepared to pay a lot, you can have a good place quickly. But if you’re patient, and take your time, you can find the perfect place, at the right price. Does this apply to dating too? If we don’t pressure ourselves with deadlines – if we leave our options open and keep looking – will the right thing come our way?

I’ve lived in NYC for years (with a six year detour in LA) in many apartments and neighborhoods. When I was living with my ex-husband, the choice of apartment had different criteria. Now that I’m single, and in the five years since I moved back to NY, the specs have changed. At first, I just needed something that was mine, that I could call my own (and that permitted large dogs), and I found it. It was cheap, I found it quickly, and I felt triumphant because it was my first apartment post divorce.  But after two years, when I started to gain my confidence and independence back, I began to see the apartment for what it was - a shithole masquerading as “It’s mine not ours!” glee. My neighbors were note-leaving, wall-pounding assholes, and the kitchen was a shelving unit. And while I don’t cook, I thought (okay, my Mom did) that moving to a place with an actual kitchen might inspire me to (it hasn’t).

I decided to rent a new place. This decision coincided with my break up (the first or second one- can’t recall) with ex-cub #1 (sounds like a Cougar dating show). I stupidly gave notice on the shit hole and had to find a new apartment within 3 weeks. I didn’t think I would find something in time. “Apartment hunting is harder than dating!” I dramatically texted to four friends simultaneously. I was a wreck. I wanted something bigger and nicer, that I could “grow into” (read: stay in even if I had a baby and/or a new husband) but I soon realized I couldn’t afford it. And the two apartments I liked wouldn’t take pets (the bastards). It dawned on me that I was in no position, emotionally or financially, to be making decisions in the present based on where I might hypothetically be in the future.

I found a place in the end, which I live in now. I like it. It’s pretty. It's more expensive than I wanted, and probably need (I got fast and nice. Not cheap. You catching on?). But I realized in all that searching that it is so easy to see something you kind of like, without having to commit to it. In the hyper scramble that is Man-hattan, with so many options – apartments we missed, men we didn’t get to meet – isn’t there always something better just around the corner?

These perceived options can paralyze us from making a choice, and sometimes paralyze us permanently. Renting, dating, moving from place to place in search of the next thing, when sometimes, the right thing might be right in front of you. Right?  

After one year in my pretty new place, my rent has been significantly increased. Time to move again! (same time as break up with ex-cub #2...hmm...).

Except this time, I have a different attitude. I’m not freaking out.  But it’s not because I’m not in a rush. It’s because I realize that nothing is perfect. Nor permanent. Besides, it’s only an apartment. I know what is important to me - not later, in three years - but today (location, price, and vibe. It doesn’t matter if it’s smaller than a newborn).

So I went to look at some apartments today. Mom and Dad came along, even though all of the apartments were below 24th Street, without a Zabars, Fairway, or yarmulke-wearing dude in sight. Mom did perk up when she spotted a synagogue on W 12th Street. She didn’t know we had those downtown. 

We had a great day, even though I found myself caught in moments of brief despair regarding where I was headed, and who I would meet next. And whether it would finally stick. But I didn’t say anything to my parents. They didn’t ask about my recent breakup, or whether there was a new guy, even when my Blackberry beeped with texts that made me smile (yes, that is all I am divulging…now).  At dinner afterwards (5pm early bird special, of course), amidst the apartment discussion my dad surprised me when he gestured towards my mother across the table and said to me, “Look at your mother. Isn’t she cute? From the second I saw her, I decided I wasn’t going to waste any time. It’s been 45 years.”

So I guess in some very special cases, it’s possible to have all three.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Mom’s Top Twelve

I’ve been meaning to bring Mom (Ema, in Hebrew) back to the blog, since it’s been a while, and what better day to do so than Mother’s Day? In no particular order, here are my favorite Ema-isms from the last year. If you don’t speak Ema (a language consisting of misspellings, malapropisms, and of course, love), bear with me.

Cougel: It’s looking like I’m close to getting this new job!
Mom: I am holding my fingers for you. 

Cougel: I got the job!
Mom:  You must be inside the seventh cloud.

Re: new Christian boyfriend…
Mom: How is it going?
Cougel: Good, we communicate about everything.
Mom: If you talk about everything, have you talked about him converting?

Cougel: My friend is going through a hard time and she’s staying at my apartment.
Mom: Just remember the saying, no good deed goes unfinished.

Cougel: What did you think of my essay?
Mom: I loved it. So hard warming.

Emails from Ema:

Subject: CANNED TUNA!
Just read in consumer report, of studies that showed that mercury is very high. in tuna .[we know that] . . you should not eat or give to your children more that 1 serving a week.  [ children should have 3 oz ]. i am shocked. sub. canned salmon fr. Alaska.  Love, Ema

To daughters (re: The Holocaust): ... the other cuntries did nothing!

To daughters (re: Passover): Just came from Shoprite in Pars. they have all the dry goods out for pesach. bought most of the stuff. I don’t have to sclapp to Livingston. Meat and others, i will buy when i get back fr. Israel.

Cougel: Sorry I haven’t called. I’ve been working hard.
Ema: You must be exhausted from seeing clints.

To Cougel (re: a funny joke): I am laughing so hard. Ha cha cha.

To friends: My famous daughter’s essay was published in HUFFINGTON POST PUBLISHER!

To Cougel: I brought your horoscope in heb. fr. israel. amazing so much to the point. Call me if u want me to translate.

To Cougel: Did you hear about the 8.9 earth quake in Japan? a big one so scary. nature is not in our control.

For those of you who are new to my blog, I’m bringing back one of my very first posts, “Mom wants to read the blog (without knowing what Cougar means).”

Email # 1:
NU GET ME YOUR BLOG. EMA

Email #2:
Send me instructions how to get in ? ema

From Cougel, to Mom:
its http://www.cougel.blogspot.com/
MOM DONT BE SENSITIVE! THERE'S STUFF ABOUT YOU AND DAD THAT"S CUTE but EXAGERATED FOR DRAMATIC EFFECT

From Cougel (giving mom proper context):
by the way, a "cougar" is a popular term in pop culture now for women over 40, attractive, independent, who go after younger men... it started derogatory but now its not.. it's like demi moore.

MOM FINALLY READS IT
From Mom:
its cute.
i like it.
can i go on it and add more?
 
From Cougel to Mom:
Ur so cute! U can comment. At bottom of each story there should be, in gray, "comments" and a box will open for u to write whatever u want. What do u want to add?

From Mom:
I have to think about it. The world reads them ???
Did you eat dinner ?