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You Hurt My Feelings

It may surprise you to know that I am not always cheerful. A few days ago I was distressed and crabby — why? Envy. A friend, a former student, wrote a memoir that has done extremely well; she had a great publisher who publicized the book, had excerpts printed all over, did a ton of prime time interviews, has appeared on panels and at book fairs and made it to the Globe bestseller list. She deserves her success, and I am 100% thrilled for her. I’m just really really sad for my book, which had none of those things.

So I grumped. A visual artist friend commiserated; she knew whereof I spoke. I know envy is corrosive and makes life miserable. I know, more importantly, that I’m one of the luckiest human beings on the face of this earth. Periodically, I need to feel sorry for myself and bitch. So I do.

And then stop. No point. Get over it.

Speaking of writer neurosis, however, I watched You Hurt my Feelings, which struck so many chords. A New York writer — the magnificent Julia Louis-Dreyfus — has published a memoir that did fairly well, though not well enough according to her demanding mother, adding to her insecurities. She has written a novel she’s trying to get published; her agent is lukewarm. She’s happily married to a kind man, a mediocre therapist who’s her great supporter, and is devastated, one day, to overhear him tell a friend that truthfully, he doesn’t think much of her novel.

These Woody Allen-esque people are ridiculous, yes – self-centred bumblers living privileged first world lives. But more, the film is about the necessary if sometimes painful compromises of love and marriage, about the white lies we all must tell to support our loved ones and friends. I’m sure everyone can relate. A very enjoyable film — especially for writers.

Today’s treat — Auntie Holly took the boys out of school early, and I met them downtown for Eli’s birthday. I gave him the silver chain I’d bought at LE Jewellers; I think he liked it, although later he tucked it inside his t-shirt. I took them for lunch, and then we went to SportChek for Holly’s gift to him – a new softball bat – $200! Who knew? Ben fell in love with a coach’s clipboard so he was given that and now is a coach. The 3 of them went off to a movie…

… and I rode home, stopping at Doubletake to look for t-shirts and hoodies for them. Found a few. Also an expensive treat for me – an Armani sweater I love, $19.99. I’m wearing it now. If it’s not cashmere – the tag has been cut off – it’s remarkably soft wool. Spoiled.

This morning my roofer came with his son to give my enormous willow tree a severe haircut, to allow the sun into the garden. A neighbour said incredulously, You spend money every year cutting back that tree for a bit of sun for your cucumbers? Well, yes, actually. If I didn’t, the thing would take over the world. It grows that fast.

The William Morris roses are opening, with tons of buds. So – new sweater on, a few more things crossed off the to-do list, garden watered by the rain last night. Envy, what’s that?

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2 Responses to “You Hurt My Feelings”

  1. Joan Currie says:

    And that’s why misery loves company.

    You’ll always be on my best seller list.

  2. Beth Kaplan says:

    Merci, #1 fan!

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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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