Tag Archive | jealousy

Feminist on a Road Trip


Every time we passed a sign for Des Moines I said it over and over in my head so many times that it started to sound like “Desdemona.” This pleased me.  Thinking about a Shakespearian heroine proved I was smart. A goddman woman of letters.

I suspected that at some point I would write about this word-morphing and “forget” to mention that I had to Google Desdemona to confirm that she was, indeed, Othello’s wife. I wasn’t 100% sure.  When I Googled her, I was disappointed to read that she was not black, as I had remembered her. She was described by Wikipedia as a “Venetian beauty.” Her husband, the Moor, was believed to be black.

These are the thoughts of a well-read person, Google or no, I thought.

We drove past Iowa City.  I waved to Jane Smiley and whatever remains of Ann Patchett’s essence after her graduate school stint at the famed writing program.

Look at me! I’m an enthusiastic celebrant of all things literary! Supporter of women in the arts!

Once Des Moines was in the rear view mirror, I succumbed to uncharitable thoughts about the Iowa State Fair goers who feasted on hunks of livestock impaled on sticks. I myself ate corn kernels with a fork and a roasted turkey wrap on a gluten-free tortilla, ThankYouVeryMuch.  Like a total asshole– I mean, who eats like that at a state fair?  When Jeff asked the pimple-faced vendor for the gluten-free turkey wrap, she stared blankly.  “Do we serve that?” she asked her shift supervisor.  We pointed to the menu; they both looked surprised.

On the final long stretch of the road trip, I fell in love with a book of essays. The pieces were well-written, darkly humorous, and made me feel smart for enjoying them. No beach reads for this woman of the world traveling through exotic Nebraska while a grating narration of Ramona and Beezus filled the mini-van.

By the time I was half way done with the book, I had a definite picture of the author in my head. She’d mentioned that she was blonde three times, so I started there. My imagination gave her blonde-but-stringy hair, an ample bosom, and a no-make-up earthiness that I assumed from her hobbies: antiquing and summering in Maine. I also assumed she was older than me by at least a generation.

Basically, I made her a funky, lovably eccentric Kathy Bates with longer, more Nordic hair.

Jeff exited near Altoona. “Can you drive?” His eye lids sagged; he’d be asleep before I merged back onto the highway. As he put the car in park, I Googled the author of the essays.

Big mistake.

She was most certainly not Kathy fucking Bates. She was Gwyneth Paltrow, but—worse—she was way less vanilla. Her face was more angular; her glasses had that “I live in Manhattan” cool that felt (and was) thousands of miles away. She looked younger than me.  Oh great– she was also a professor at a fancy New York college. She definitely knows all about Desdemona; I doubt this author ever vacationed at the Iowa State Fair.

I hated her. I hated the essays. I hated myself for enjoying them. Why couldn’t she at least be portly? Or old? Or mean? Or not funny? I was so totally jealous of her that it consumed me for miles, across the borders of the flattest states, isolated and hostile to me now, though before the Googling, I thought they were majestic and soul-stirring.

I seethed across Iowa. I seethed into Illinois. I stared at the horizon and begged myself to be, not undone by her beauty, talent, wit, and success, but inspired! vivified! energized!  I prayed for the ability to stuff the image of the real author back through the wireless airwaves so I could have my original back.

Back home, I forced myself to finish the book.  It’s not her fault she’s beautiful and friends with David Eggers.  It’s certainly not her fault my heart is shriveled by jealousy and impotent rage.

It was a really good book.


In The Long Run: Four Miles, An Obsession, and Art

Don’t you love it when an artist gives you a pep talk?  Those are the pep talks that are full of words that sound beautiful, even if you are not sure what they mean when applied to you.  Like the other day when my artist friend Karen said to me, “Outlaw Mama, you have to get the focus on yourself and your own expansiveness.”  I am pretty sure it was a tough love moment, but the word “expansiveness” hung in the air like a colorful hot air balloon ready to take me to a new, happy place.

Karen gave me this advice after she generously let me vent for 12 minutes over some Cajun food (at Wishbone, for you locals) about how jealous I feel about other people’s successes.  People like my friends.  Or everyone who has ever been Freshly Pressed (a blogging coup). Or that minx Meryl Streep, who is hogging all the Oscars. (No, I don’t act, but why does she get all the big awards?)  This jealousy and competitiveness burns me up inside. It’s more addicting than my iPhone.  Hell, it’s more addictive than if my iPhone was covered in dark chocolate and being palmed sensuously by a J. Crew-clad Ryan Gosling.

So, yesterday I went on my run, and I decided I would turn this obsession (with other people) into art.  Here was the assignment I gave myself: During my 4.5 mile run, I had to stop and take a picture of whatever was in front of me the minute I found myself ruminating about the great fortunes that have befallen other people. (Awesome huh? Maybe this month’s check for therapy should be signed over to Dr. Outlaw Mama.)

You can’t imagine how many pictures I had to take. I am surprised my iPhone didn’t burst into flames. Around mile 2 (and picture 47), I noticed that I was starting to have fun.  I started to see what was around me. By the time I hit mile 3, I was almost looking forward to catching myself thinking about someone else’s book deal; or 50,000 followers; or long, skinny legs so I could take a picture of what I saw with my own eyes.

Under the El

Under the El: The sound of the train grinding overhead is better than listening to the sound of my thoughts

Here is a miniscule selection of what I like to call my “I Hate Everyone Who Has Something I Want” “From Obsession to Art” series:

Wigging Out

Wigging Out

When I stopped in front of this wig store, I spent some quality time thinking about how wonderful it is that there are lay away plans for wigs.  It was a “life is beautiful” moment.

Here’s my favorite bridge, where I am always afraid I will be struck by lightning when it’s storming.

Chain Link Fence Over Highway

Chain Link Fence Over Highway

Sweet Emmit’s, which smells like warmed beer expelled from the gut of a fraternity boy.  How I love thee more than my thoughts!

Watering Hole

Watering Hole

I love a good bridge.


Bridge Over Kinzie Street

And finally, I had almost arrived at my destination downtown, where I was able to appreciate the hum of the lunchtime rush and its delicious aliveness.

People Making Their Way To Corner Bakery For Lunch

People Making Their Way To Corner Bakery For Lunch

Quite a variety, right? And that’s all I am asking of my brain.  A little variety, so it’s not just a constant loop of thoughts about other people and their successes.

That’s not asking too much, is it?

Looking For Leo And New Reasons To Be Jealous of Penelope Cruz

Assuming, arguendo, that I didn’t have reason before, I am now starting to fear for my sanity. I had some precious free time and what did I do?  Do you think I did laundry or cleaned the kitchen (or anything else) or set up the mise en scene for a craft project this afternoon?


No, I didn’t.

I didn’t because I was too busy looking for Google images of Penelope Cruz and Javier Bardem’s baby boy Leo.  I keep wondering where the full US Magazine spread of little Leo is.   All I could find were some grainy shots of the perfect Latino trio vacationing in Italy– “Look! Celebs are just like us! They vacation in Positano with their little ones in Baby Bjorns!”

The Cruz Bardems enjoying Italy

The Cruz-Bardems enjoying Italy– Is that vomit at the bottom of the stairs? I guess they are a little like me. (Photo courtesy of www.popsugar.com)

Right.  Penelope and Javier are just like me.  Except we have decided not to travel as a family, unless there is an emergency (like a civil war on American soil), until Simon is 7.  We’ve got 5.6 years to go.  And when we do, we will probably not be headed to picturesque Italy– we will probably head to Springfield, Illinois to explore the birthplace of Abraham Lincoln, because we are comfortably ensconced in the 99%.

Also, my hair won’t be long and luscious like Penny’s, my legs won’t be tan, and I probably won’t have a stylish swimsuit cover-up to sport at the motel swimming pool, unless you count the terry cloth wrap-around towel I got at Costco last year.  (It’s pink and yellow, so maybe that does count.)

I actually think it’s good parenting and very admirable that the BarCruz’s (I just made that name up– let’s take it viral) have not exploited baby Leo.  It’s just that if they did, then I could spend my time being jealous of their alleged perfection in stead of being jealous of all the people in my actual life.

Like you.

And you too.

Yes, you too, I am jealous of you even though I don’t really know you, because that doesn’t stop me.

And you? I didn’t know you read my blog! Thanks. And, yes, I am most certainly jealous of you.