From the category archives:

Everyone is Insane

Good at It

by Marinka on April 19, 2014

There are things that I am absolute shit at and that list is not short.

I don’t like or care about decorating. I’m happy with college-era furniture. I’m not interested in cleaning and am useless with a vacuum cleaner. Really, we have a very frosty relationship, staying out of each other’s way as much as possible, save for the time that I’d tripped over it because I couldn’t bother to get it out of the way earlier. The fact that I snapped a seldom-worn heel during that incident didn’t endear the vacuum to me any, by the way, and neither did the fact that it’s not spelled vaccum, although I really think it should be.

One time the cleaning lady told me that the filter needed to be changed, and really, you’d have thought she was asking me to arrange an intergalactic journey, on frequent flier miles, for her. My breathing quickened and the only solution I could come up with was the buy a new vacuum cleaner, which I assumed would come with a filter already implanted, the way the Good Lord intended, and that would put an end to the whole changing the filter nonsense. I recognized that it was a temporary solution, to be sure; but as solutions go, temporary is sometimes preferable to final, especially if you’re not into the whole Holocaust denying thing.

Fortunately, while I was trying to slow my heart rate down to non-Code Blue, mumbling “filter… I’m not so sure…” she opened some side closet that was apparently devoted to filters and changed it herself like it was the most natural thing in the world. The crisis was averted, but it drove home, to my living room, the point that not only was I was no domestic goddess, I was not even domestically competent. I am, quite possibly, an embarrassment to women and perhaps humanity at large. I feel that I should apologize, but apparently I’m not good at that either.

What’s worse about my lack of cleaning aptitude is that I don’t mind it. I don’t see it as a character flaw that I need to work on, I’m not embarrassed by it and I don’t even wish it were different. I know there are people who feel a sense of satisfaction after cleaning the bathroom or organizing the kitchen, but I can’t play at that. I’ve had my share of washing the bathroom, scrubbing the toilet, rearranging the spice rack, of course. But instead of the elation of a job well done, of feeling pleased that things are in order and that I held the center for the household, if just for a few hours, I feel instead the kind of melancholy that drove home the point that I just spent hours cleaning instead of say, going for a walk, listening to Leonard Cohen, spending time with friends or reading the US Weekly “Stars! They’re just like us!” feature. Because knowing that stars feed the meters and their kids like us mere mortals is what democracy is all about. Maybe if there were photographic evidence of Angelina scrubbing her toilet, I’d get on board with it too.

But I doubt it.

I’m telling you the things that I am bad at to take the sting out of telling you what I’m good at. I want you to think that I am just like you– bad at some things and good at others. Because then maybe you won’t resent my superpower. Because I have to level with you–I’m really, really good at it and I don’t want you to think that I’m boasting. And, yes, of course I’m boasting, but I just don’t want you to think that I am.


I’m really good at making friends. Or rather, I’m really good at attracting people, men and women, if you’re not familiar with the concept of “people” to me and binding them in friendship. It’s witchcraft, almost, except I refuse to sink to prove my virtue. Or float, for that matter.

It is, nevertheless, uncanny– ever since I was a teenager, and I was a really awkward teenager, I drew people to me who became lifelong friends and gave me more than I deserved. I am not being modest when I say I did not do anything to earn the friendship- I really didn’t. I mean, I wasn’t an asshole. I didn’t abuse the people that I knew I was lucky to have in my life, but I also didn’t work on the friendships, I didn’t pursue them. I didn’t solicit. I didn’t show up with balloons and surprises. I didn’t lend my favorite sweater. I was a person. Whenever I had a new boyfriend or something, I’d disappear and not return calls. The usual stuff. But somehow I kept the friends. It just happened. I was lucky.

And I’ve always known how lucky I am to have the friends I have. I’ve always known it was an anomaly. Like years ago, before children and marriage, I dated a man who I sometimes describe as the best looking man I ever dated, but that’s not true. Because he was the best looking man that I’d ever seen, at least at that time; I’m not great at look-backs. The thing about dating him was that sometimes I wondered if the people we met as a couple thought I was blackmailing him with something unmentionable or if they suspected that I had a trick pelvis. But no, that wasn’t it. We were just young and fun.

Now, when I see the friends who show up for me– for my karaoke birthday party that I threw together on a Monday night with a few days notice, for a weekend in NYC, lunch at SoHo House, a few days in Rome, I catch my breath. Because I know how unspeakably lucky I am.

My daughter and I are in Rome to visit one of her closest friends. They met in NYC, during a period when they were both playing parental-mandated tennis. Eva’s family moved back to Rome over the summer, and my daughter experienced the kind of missing that you know is part of life but wish to spare the people you love. I don’t post many pictures on this site, and hardly ever of my kids, but I’m posting this one that I snapped a few seconds before my daughter was reunited with her friend. I’ve never seen her look happier. And I recognized that kind of happiness. I know that kind of happiness. I’m good at it.

photo 33 e1397910121106 225x300 Good at It

I met Daisy during freshman orientation in college. Again, we were both just there. It was random and so lucky. I had no idea then that she’d bear witness to my life and when things fell apart for me last year, that she’d tell me “I”ll meet you anywhere.” Big talk for a woman who lives in Prague and works full-time and has a family, but she did. This week in Rome, she showed up and we walked the city and we talked and laughed and remembered and cried and drank Campari and wine and cappuccino and coffee and I felt as happy as my daughter looked.

photo 32 e1397933138770 225x300 Good at It

Things aren’t perfect.

I’m at a complicated time in my life, I hate to vacuum and I still don’t have a trick pelvis.

But I am also so lucky to have a life that’s so rich in friendship and love.

Sometimes I think I’m the luckiest girl in the world.



by Marinka on March 27, 2014

Last month I was spending time with some beloved friends. I think it was book group, but it may have been wine tasting night, who the hell can remember and/or tell the difference. At any rate, we were sitting around and one of the dear friends was blathering on about something or other. It wasn’t about me, so I was quietly dying of boredom, filling out my toe tag, initialing the DNR form, that kind of thing.

I was just about to flat-line, when another friend, also dear and beloved, said, “oh, I love the massage place that’s upstairs from the bagel place.”

I stopped macrameing the noose.

“Massage?” My ears perked up.

I really like massages and when someone has a place to recommend, I take note.

“Yes,” the friend said. “Right above the bagel place.”

I knew where she meant, I’ve seen it a kazillion times during my bagel pilgrimages, and it never once occurred to me to visit.

Because in my universe, all establishments that are upstairs are either Mafia storefronts or whorehouses, possibly both.

I have no idea why I think this, although I haven’t eliminated moronism as a possibility.

“Isn’t that a brothel?” I asked innocently.

“No,” my friend said. “They do regular massages.” And then she gave me a half-sneer, which is not something that I appreciate from my dearly beloved friends.

“Then why is it on the second floor?” I asked. Apparently none of my friends have heard of this Second Floor Brothel And/Or Mafia theory, so they did not know how to respond.

“Because that’s where they rented space,” one of them answered, as though we were discussing real estate.

I wasn’t sure. On the one hand, I wanted to try the massage. The price was reasonable and it was close to bagels. On the other hand, I didn’t want to start dating my masseuse, if you know what I’m getting at. On the third hand, my hips were really tight and I needed to get a massage.

I was tense going in. I don’t know, I think it was from all the tension. I was worried that my friends were getting happy endinged in that place, after being slipped some sort of a mickey situation, and just didn’t know it. Obviously that was working out for them just fine, but I wasn’t interested.

“I’m here for a massage,” I announced when I walked in. “A regular massage,” I added meaningfully.

“Ok,” the lady said and then asked for how long. I was nervous that if I picked the wrong time, it would signify something inappropriate, so I sought guidance.

“What is the regular time for people who want a normal massage without any shenanigans?” I asked, maintaining eye contact. Eye contact that went far towards conveying that I wasn’t there for any shenanigans and that I had a possible personality disorder.

The good news is that the massage was great and didn’t have any surprises. I have to give it to the Mafia– they really know what they’re doing!



March 23, 2014

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February 27, 2014

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Good News and Also Bad

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A Name

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Better Red Than Not Talking About Heart Disease

February 13, 2014

Today is your lucky day, because today you get two posts for the price of one. First, I will tell you about a situation with my kids. And then, I will probably save your life. *** This week I received a gift. Actually it was a many gifts, and it arrived from Tieks, the people […]

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