My new book “Midlife Solo” is now available.

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So Sad Today

Okay, not quite sure where I got the recommendation for Melissa Broder’s book of personal essays So Sad Today. It’s a mixed bag, to say the least – it turns out she is stunningly neurotic and very open about her neuroses, which are endless. Some of the essays are full of lurid, I mean really lurid details about her sex and private life. I skipped quickly through the parts where the words ‘pussy,’ ‘cum’ and ‘dick’ predominated. TMI, IMHO. Why, why do women comics like Amy Schumer and Broder – whose writing is in the comic vein – feel the need to be so vulgar about their bodies and hearts and sex? Or am I just old?

And then the book settles down and is provocative in a skilful way, making us feel this clever, funny, crazy woman is, yes, sharing intimate details of her life, but important ones, ones that matter instead of just shock. She writes movingly about her husband who has a chronic illness; she writes in a way that resonated powerfully with me about her penchant for hopeless love, something in which I specialized for many years – and am chronicling right now. She writes:

One form of romantic obsession is to become
infatuated with someone who actually exists. With this type of romantic
obsession, you project your entire fantasy narrative onto a person in your life
and attempt to get them to comply. You take a living, breathing human being and
try to stuff them into the insatiable holes inside you. These holes are in no
way shaped like that person (or any person). But you believe this fantasy
person will fill you, because he or she possesses all the imaginary qualities
you seek in a lover. And how do you know he or she possesses all these
qualities? You put them there.

form of romantic obsession is to fall in fake love with a person who doesn’t
exist at all… You fall in love with a magic hologram of a person you create
based on a distant image … a dead person … a famous person, a cartoon … The
longing is hope. It keeps you alive.

God knows, I understand that, I who lived with the magic hologram of Paul McCartney for quite some time, which kept me alive. At another point, she says, “I have the brain of an addict and the heart of a
sixteen-year-old girl.

That I get, as I read my diaries from when I was sixteen, page after page of romantic obsession. I get the insatiable hole inside. I don’t have it any more. But it was there for a very long time, and I tried to fill it with drugs, drink, food, and unsuitable men – oh those poor guys, with a frantically amorous young woman hounding them! Thank God for the love of the invisible Macca. 

Thank God, I grew up. And Broder did too. I think.



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About Beth

I began keeping a journal at the age of nine. Nearly fifty years later, I started this online journal, sharing reflections, reviews, updates, and the occasional secret.

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