never married, over forty, a little bitter


Hmmm… I will have to get to this one soon, as Henry James, Emily Dickinson, and Edie Sedgwick have all been mentioned in this blog:

How much of Nora’s fantasy is true — and to what degree the Shahids must share blame where it is false — is at the core of Messud’s novel. Though she invokes Ellison, the writer Messud brings to mind is Henry James — with his involuted prose, often unreliable narrators and focus on the disconnect between American innocence and European experience.

It becomes increasingly clear that we can’t always rely on Nora’s view of events. Even as she pointedly tells us that she is the woman upstairs, rather than the mad woman in the attic, her art commemorates suicidal figures such as Alice Neel, Edie Sedgwick and Virginia Woolf. Nora herself suffers a breakdown of sorts in the aptly named Galerie Werther.

But like Emily Dickinson — the predecessor that Nora’s art most fully honors — Nora’s heightened state lets her see things others miss: how postmodernism reduces meaning to pastiche and art to easily consumed images; how women continually “glimpse freedom too late, at too high a price”; and, in an exquisitely rendered nod to that most Jamesian of themes, how she has failed to fully live because she has been overly afraid of dying.


I have a friend here who, in my late thirties, encouraged me to break up with a guy because she felt he wasn’t the best fit for me personality-wise. She said I still had plenty of time to find the right guy, get married, and have kids.

I agreed with her about the personality mismatch but disagreed about the latter. When I broke up with the guy, I realized I was most likely saying goodbye to having a family.

This same friend thinks I should hold out for a “dream job,” even though she has never managed to find such a thing for herself.

I have a lot of issues with The Secret and the idea that we can manifest our every desire. It’s not that I totally disagree with the premise– I do think that getting in touch with our dreams is a worthy pursuit and one that gives us focus– but that I think it is an incomplete idea. The thing is, we can get in touch with our dreams, but those dreams will eventually collide with reality.

My mom is a big fan of those “house hunter” shows on HGTV, so occasionally I catch one with her. The person looking for a house narrows his or her search by formulating an ideal vision, but then he or she inevitably meets up with the reality: the house that is the right size but doesn’t have a pool, the house that has a pool but is too small, the house that fits both criteria but needs too much work. Eventually the house hunter weighs the pros and cons of each and goes with the best fit out of what is available.

I think that is a good metaphor for life and that the job I am in the process of accepting is the right house for me.