Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Decade: An Overview

As I recently noted, I love me a good year-end wrap-up.

So what better opportunity than the close of this decade to do a wrap-up of my own and hit a few of the highs and lows of the last ten years? I'm not talking world events here; I'll leave 9/11 and the tsunami to Time magazine. And trust me. You don't want to hear me try to explain the sub-prime mortgage thing. I'll stick to what I know.

I realized in the shower today that my tenure as a parent very neatly bifurcates the decade: I spent roughly the first five years without kids and the second five with. Or, more precisely, I spent the first half of the decade not appreciating how nice it is to sleep as much as you want and the second half wishing I had. And stepping on a lot of Legos.

On January 1, 2000, I was 31 years old. I lived in a rental apartment in DC's Dupont Circle, drove a ten year old cherry red VW Golf and still used a dialup connection in a pinch. I had been dating my boyfriend (now husband) for seven months, although I think I already suspected he was a keeper. But I still skipped my tenth college reunion that summer because I didn't want to have to hear myself say over and over that I was single and childless.

Let's see what happened next, shall we?
  • August 9, 2001: I finally go on my first European sojourn. Eschewing those traditional European starter countries like England and France, I go straight for the hard stuff and see Poland and Ukraine. While I am gone, my apartment is destroyed in a freak flood, prompting me to move in with aforementioned boyfriend. His friends still refer to the "flood" with a wink and air quotes. But it was real, I swear!
  • July 14, 2002: My debut in the pages of the New York Times Magazine. I wish I could say I wrote a clever "Lives" column or a brilliant profile of Jhumpa Lahiri. But no. It was my photograph that appeared in the magazine, along with my brother Daniel's story about our trip to Eastern Europe, which eventually became his award-winning best-seller. A photo of me...cradling my head and crying at a devastatingly sad story about the Holocaust. You know, because when I first appeared in the pages of the Times Magazine, I actually wanted it to be a picture of me sobbing. No, really.
  • August 11, 2002: Ending years of angst over my certain march towards old maidhood, much of it on the part of my mother's elderly cousin Trudy in Queens, I get married. As I once said in a Washington Post column, I was right to be jealous of my friends all those years: getting married totally rocks. You have a religious obligation to buy jewelry. And you get to register for lots of cool shit you want other people to buy you from Williams-Sonoma. And then you go to Italy and eat mozzarella and prosciutto. For breakfast. (The having a husband/partner/true love part is also pretty great, I must say. He also makes really good scrambled eggs.)
  • May 1, 2003: We move into our first home. Six and a half years later, I am still traumatized by the process of trying to pick paint colors. That school bus yellow in the dining room? It was supposed to be kind of a warm Tuscan umber. Oops?
  • September 2, 2004: I give birth to my first child. Without an epidural. And not by choice. Yes, yes, the ends justify the means and all that. But I really would have loved if the means did not have to involve spending 36 hours tethered to a hospital bed, enduring the misery of a failed induction that I was told was necessary because my baby could, you know, well, die. And then dilating from one centimeter to ten in 25 minutes. (Yes, I said 25. I know "My labor was suckier than yours" stories are totally cliche, but I must say I often win the cocktail party contests with that one.) And the ends? The ends are awesome beyond words.

  • September 22, 2004: The book I helped write comes out and spends one glorious week on the Times bestseller list. Because I have a six week old, and spend most of my time shuttling between nursing, weeping, and actively second guessing the decision to procreate, I am too petrified to try to travel to New York to attend the book party. In my next life, I will totally go and look kickass awesome. Like Mary Louise Parker at the Golden Globes that one year.
  • October, 2006: I survive my 20th high school reunion without a single person laughing out loud at the fact that they voted me Most Likely to Succeed. I consider this a success.
  • August 17, 2007: I give birth again, this time with an epidural. Labor? What labor? I laughed. I lounged. I read People. I think I might have gotten a pedicure and an aromatheraphy facial, too. I mean, seriously. This was labor? If the first one had been like this, I could have given Michelle Duggar a run for her money. Plus, I ended up with this. What could be bad?
  • December 7, 2007: Oh wait. I know what could be bad. Four month old Alec wakes up 12 times in the course of a 12 hour night, shattering all records previously held by his notoriously sleepless older brother, who I was certain was unbeatable. Call it my own personal Pearl Harbor. The next night, in desperation, I decamp to my inlaws'. And second guess the decision to procreate. Again.
  • November 11, 2008: I turn 40. I still have no idea how this happened to me and walk around in a depressive fog. Wasn't it just last week I was all dressed up in my goomie bracelets on my way to see Madonna's Like a Virgin Tour at Madison Square Garden? Actually, even though I am in denial, I celebrate with a long weekend in Bermuda with my two dearest friends. I'm not complaining. Except for the part where, for the first time in my life, I was actually told by a gate agent that I simply could not get to my destination on the day I was ticketed to do so, not on USAir or any other airline. (Weather-delayed flight, missed connection, etc etc.) There were tears, people. And that was from the agent I smacked upside the head for suggesting that maybe I "just wasn't meant" to go to Bermuda that day. OK, I didn't really hit her. But I wanted to. This trip was far too long in the making. I was 40 fucking years old. I was going to Bermuda that day, missy. By some incredible stroke of good luck, my hairdresser had just told me about USA 3000, a cute little charter airline that flies about three places out of BWI, and one of them happens to be Bermuda. And because they're a charter, they aren't part of the system that the USAir agent was using to search for available flights. I called them. They got me to Bermuda that day. Direct. For like $150. And USAir gave me a refund. I think I actually made $10 on the transaction. When does that ever happen? OK, I take it back. Being 40 might not be so bad.
  • January 1, 2009: I launch this blog, which quickly becomes a national sensation. I'm using the loose definition of "national sensation," of course, which means, "the most popular blog at my parents' split level on Long Island." The rest, as they say, is history, right?
Happy New Year, everyone. Here's to a new decade filled with many, many bloggable moments.


  1. BRAVO Jen! What a great decade for many of us. Here's to many more! Happy New Year!

  2. Wow--you've had quite the 10 years. What a great recap.

    And who knew you were so pretty?

  3. Jen, you always make me laugh. Your blog is the most popular in my house, too, so go you!

  4. Your family actually reads your blog? Even more jealousy from this end. ;)

    Happy New Year!

  5. An amazing decade for you, Jennifer. You certainly were a beautiful bride. I think I can beat you in the labor department though - first contraction at 1:00am with back labor (no real pain) and my daughter was born at 3:57am as my doctor walked into the delivery room. :D I hope the next decade is fun and fantastic for you. Happy New Year! Dani

  6. You used "bifurcate" in a blog post. You're my hero.

  7. @bruce_mi: Enjoyed your "Decade Summary!" And, yes, I agree with were and are a Beautiful Bride...and, Mommy!

  8. I love it when I have to google to know exactly what you're talking about!

    This is awesome!

    When we meet, we have to compare horror birthing stories.

  9. Isn't it funny that my first response to Dani is to feel the competitive need to explain that no, I'm pretty sure I still win? ;-) Those 36 hours I wasn't in labor. They were trying to induce me and it wasn't working. My water finally broke at something like 12:30 a.m., They checked and I was 1 cm. I then went into warp speed and dilated to ten in 25 minutes. He was born at 2:06. Ouch.

  10. Correction. Just reread my birth story. It was 11:30 when my water broke. (And the resident told us it still might be 10 hours before I got to 4 or 5 and could get an epidural. Ha.) But I still win. Two hours and 36 minutes from start to finish. ;-)

  11. Loved the recap! What a decade. And you know what's cool and kinda interesting? I've "known" you through most of the events you described- that makes me feel good!

  12. Bring it, Becky! (What did you have to google??)

    And Shilpa, that just made me all warm and fuzzy. ;-) So funny how we know all each other's stories, we've just never actually been in the same room!

  13. What a fun run-down of your decade!

  14. Okay, I'll give you the win by 21 minutes. Kind of funny that I named my daughter Jennifer, too. (You're 3 years older, though.) I still hope you have a happy new year! Dani