Music of My Life

I’ve often imagined myself walking through the streets of Manhattan, a la Holly Golightly in “Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” with a cup of coffee in my hand and the refrain of “Moon River” playing over me. Or I was more like Mary Tyler Moore, tossing my Tam o’ Shanter cap in the air to the tune of, “You’re going to make it after all.” Continue reading

And I Quote

Divorce is kind of like the story of The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka. One day you’re married. The next day you awaken sleeping next to a cockroach. Who is this creature beside you, you wonder, and what ever happened to the person you married?

Illustration for the book cover, "The Metamorphosis," for the Simon and Schuster classic series. Selected for the 2009 CA Illustration Annual.

It’s a time of upheaval and massive change. You’re being wrenched in so many directions, wondering how you’ll get through it, drawing on all your coping mechanisms and figuring out where you go from here. You may wonder about the future and what’s in store for you, and how you’re going to take the reigns of your life, once and for all. Divorce is the time for all these things, and at the other end of the divorce spectrum is the discovery of who you really are.

I’ve written about some of my coping mechanisms, which helped me through the process. Like talking to strangers, finding comfort in music, and fighting my ex’s perception that I would never amount to anything.

Well, here’s something else I did. I started collecting quotes. At first, the quotes related specifically to divorce and love and being single again. But then I started expanding (which was a good sign that I was healing), and pretty soon I had a journal of quotes. Many of these quotes are from famous people. A few are from ordinary citizens.

And, all of them provide something to think about, whether or not you’ve ever experienced divorce.

Here’s a sample:

“How many torments lie in the small circle of a wedding ring?” – Robert Benchley, Dorothy Parker’s longtime friend and writer

“Find your blessings every day because none of us is going to get out of this life alive.” – Capt. Harry Jenkins, who died in a small plane crash, August 2, 1995.

“Lick it, put a stamp on it and mail it to someone who cares.” – Kyra Sedgwick’s character in the film, Something to Talk About.

“Being alone. There’s a certain dignity to it.” – Bridget Fonda’s character in the film, Singles.”

“You seem so different, yet the same. It’s as if someone turned the light on inside of you. Why wasn’t it me?” – Timothy Hutton to Meg Ryan, after he had broken off their engagement in the film, French Kiss (My ex actually said something like this to me around the same time, which gave me no small satisfaction.)

“One of the things that needs to happen after a divorce, it seems to me, is to let go of the bitterness and anger or disappointment about what happened in your marriage and turn the page. You can’t do that if you keep rereading the old chapters.” – From an article about single mothers in Redbook magazine, October 1996 issue.

“I spent too many of my younger years looking for guys, trying to be in love—and therefore ignoring the things that I needed to do for me, such as reading, learning, and opening up to new places I wanted to find in myself.” – Sally Field

“I think life is a series of difficult choices and then life throws the inevitable curve ball. I think more and more, getting through life is finding a sense of humor and being this wise person who laughs at everything.” – Glenn Close

“People, like angels, come when they are loved, wanted and expected.” – Deborah Tadman, my son’s art teacher when he was nine. I didn’t really know her, but one day, when I arrived to pick him up, she could see that I was in need of an angel.

“There’s absolutely no point in sitting around and feeling sorry for yourself. The great power you have is to let it go, and allow it just to be their crap. You focus on what you have, not what has been meanly, or unkindly, removed.” – Minnie Driver, discussing her then recent breakup with Matt Damon.

“If everyone has someone who is perfect for them, then perhaps everyone has someone that they are drawn to like a moth to a flame who is all wrong for them.”—From an article about a bigamist in Entertainment Weekly, circa 1997.

“I am on a lonely road and I am traveling, traveling. Looking for something what can it be? Oh, I hate you some, I hate you some, I love you some. Oh, I love you, why not forget about me?” – From one of my favorite Joni Mitchell songs, All I Want

“We women need to stop taking ourselves so seriously 24 hours a day, seven days a week. We need to put our foot in our mouth more…Listen with our hearts. So what if they get broken? We are resilient. We always have been able to pick ourselves up and keep right on steppin’.” – Author Terry McMillan, in an interview for Glamour magazine’s Women of the Year, 1996.

And one more:

“I can’t believe I’m making moral choices based on a B-movie.” – Phil Hartman’s character, Bill McNeal, speaking to Dave Nelson (played by Dave Foley) in one of my favorite shows, News Radio, referring to Dave’s favorite film, Logan’s Run.

So, tell me. What’s your favorite quote?

The Road Taken: Where it Begins

Chapter 7:  After the chocolate peanut butter pie incident, I’m sure you’re thinking, what kind of a guy is G? Why didn’t he ever stand up for me against the housemates? Well, he did in his own way, believe it or not. But before we go any further, it’s only right to take a step back and explain how it all began.  The first time I met G and the first kiss, as disastrous as it was. It’s a story that begins with fingernails. Or the lack of them.

It starts, not with a bang but with a whimper. Ours is not a story of love at first sight, or even second.  It is a story about fingernails that weren’t there. Long fingers with flat, stubby tips and nails chewed to the quick, leaving unsightly exposed nail beds. I’m not talking about my fingers. These were G’s, and I was horrified at the sight.

My college dorm. G's was across the way.

I met G in May, on the very last weekend of my college sophomore year. He was a freshman. I had a number of guy friends on campus, some of whom I’d dated, but G wasn’t among them. There was an heir to a couple of well-known amusement parks. Bryan, an African American who would stand outside my dorm window, shouting “Stella!” as if he was Marlon Brando in A Streetcar Named Desire. There was Juan, a Puerto Rican returning student, older than the rest of us, who sold pot and cut hair on the side.  And, there was Doug, a stunning boy with long lashes and soulful eyes, who loved Joni Mitchell’s music as much as I did.  We fell head over heels for each other during an all-night make out session, while listening to the Court and Spark album.

I didn’t know G, but I knew his roommate, Jon, on whom I had a deep crush. The two lived in a dorm in the same quad as mine, on the other side of a pond.  I’d often hang with Jon and his cronies, joining them at meals in the dining hall, and if G was there, too, I couldn’t say I’d noticed.

On the Friday before summer break, Jon and I were having dinner together in the dining hall, chatting about our summer plans. Mine were still up in the air and I hinted that I was considering returning to school early.  I kept gazing flirtatiously into Jon’s brown eyes, taking in his swarthy good looks while hoping he’d get the message that I was hot for him. Which is when, G plunked his tray down on the table.

“Anyone sitting here?” he asked with an exuberant grin on his face.

I looked up at this interloper, who was towering over our table, wracking my brain for a polite way to say, buzz off. He had thick, wire-rimmed glasses, long stringy hair and a full-fledged shnoz. At 6’4”, he was tall, thin and gangly.   As Jon introduced us, my line of vision went directly to his fingers. A feeling of instant repulsion came over me.  I wanted to ask, “What in blazes happened to your fingernails?” But instead, I looked away, feeling annoyed and disappointed that my alone time with Jon had vanished.

Pretty soon others joined our table, including Candace, a freshman from my modern dance class, who was lithe with long auburn hair that looked like something out of a Breck Shampoo ad. It seemed to me, Candace clearly had her eye on Jon.  After dinner, I tried to get Jon’s attention, but that was next to impossible, thanks to Candace.  We left the dining hall and walked to a nearby wooded area, where a couple of joints were passed around.  Soon our foursome paired off, when Candace grabbed Jon’s elbow, leading him deeper into the woods.

I felt as if we were reenacting A Midsummer’s Night Dream. You know, where Lysander thinks he’s in love with Helena and Helena is in love with Demetrius who is in love with—well, you get the picture. It’s all very confusing. Let’s just say that I ended up walking with G, who somehow didn’t mind this turn of events.

One thing I quickly noticed was that G was incredibly smart and witty. As we walked, he was quite effervescent and friendly, finding the humor in just about anything.  As we wandered through the woods I found myself laughing, even bursting into uncontrollable giggles, and getting all teary from our banter. We ended up in the chapel fields, an expansive section of campus where there were three non-denominational places of worship. There, we lay on the grass, looking up at the stars. The solitude felt peaceful. In the silence of the night it occurred to me, that if it wasn’t for my wanton feelings for Jon–and G’s seemingly lack of fingernails–I could easily find myself liking him.

We lingered contentedly in the still of the grass, when, out of nowhere, G’s nail-less fingers swooped down on me, like alien creatures landing from Mars. Pressing me into the ground, G leaned down to kiss me. Aack! I wasn’t ready for this.

I pushed him off and bolted upright.  “Gotta go!” I blurted, as if I had just been contaminated with the killer virus and needed to find the antidote.  “Have a good summer!”

I ran to my dorm room and slammed the door shut.  Relief washed over me. It was almost dawn. In a few hours, my parents would be arriving to take me home for the summer, and I wouldn’t run into G again until September.

And by October, we’d be declaring our undying love for each other.

Missed a chapter? You can read the entire series, by visiting the page, titled, The Road Taken.