I’m sorry/I can’t/don’t hate me

In “The Post-It Always Sticks Twice,” Carrie gets dumped by her boyfriend, fellow writer Jack Berger, via Post-It note. “I’m sorry/I can’t/don’t hate me” was scrawled on said Post-It. Leading up to the breakup, we see Berger’s recurrent insecurities about Carrie’s even more successful career, and how it makes him feel inadequate. Carrie received a huge check from her publisher; Berger’s second book option (at the same publisher) gets dropped. He feels like a “big fat failure” and is finding it increasingly difficult to be supportive in Carrie’s shadow, even though he cognitively knows and admits that she is “magnificent” and has earned her success.

True to form, I can relate almost any life situation to Sex and the City, and this is where I am right now. Only instead of being Carrie, I’m Berger. I just found out that my boyfriend (whom I love, adore and now live with) got his first real English teaching job, at the same school where he is currently the writing lab instructor. This will mean a big pay increase of course, and it’s what he’s always wanted to do, what he went to school for. A good girlfriend would be happy for her man when he gets the job he wants. Right? Somehow I can’t be. And it makes me sound like a bad person, but I’m trying to work out the reasons why I’m not happy, and can’t seem to shake the feelings that I have.

I’m jealous and resentful. I think that sums it up the best. I had toyed with the idea of being an English teacher on and off in my younger years. Instead of going to college out of high school, I dropped out, moved in with my boyfriend and got married at 19 (divorced at 20). During the last 7 years, I’ve worked my butt off to keep a roof over my head. I finally started school about three months ago. I’ve essentially ruled out becoming a teacher, mainly because I can’t take the required day program while working full time. Then again, I’m not even sure what I would be good at. Writing freelance? Editing? Who knows. I’m feeling all kinds of insecure and inadequate, even though I have a 4.0 and glowing feedback from the one English course I’ve taken thus far. I’ve only just begun. The job market is bleak. I know I should think positively and be happy I’m working towards my goals now, but I don’t feel that way. At all.

In the past few weeks as I’ve known bf’s interview was impending, I provided false words of encouragement. I thought if I resented him and hoped he didn’t get the job, I should (wisely, no?) keep my mouth shut and be supportive. I secretly hoped he didn’t get chosen. Not necessarily because I don’t want him to be happy, because I do, but simply because my own inadequacies are THAT crippling. I know how juvenile and hateful that sounds, believe me. I have my own issues (borderline personality disorder, depression, anxiety) and it’s really hard to balance them with a healthy relationship. Believe it or not, we do have a good relationship. This issue of resentment regarding career has come up before. The only thing I’ve done is keep plugging away at school and trying to put on a happy face when it comes to his successes. But it’s not working.

Today I confessed my resentment, probably shouldn’t have. And things have gone downhill from there. I said some terrible things which I hate to say, I actually meant. I’m talking to my good friends, and I know what I “should” do (apologize and work things out) but it isn’t that easy or that simple. My friends do understand why I feel the way I do, and so does he. Sometimes it helps to have a little understanding…but it doesn’t change how I feel.

Have you ever been envious or resentful of a partner’s success? How did you (or do you) cope with those feelings?

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Sex and the City 2: all glammed up and nowhere to go

[Editor’s note: I am quite possibly the biggest Sex and the City fan ever. I have watched every episode at least 12 times. I adore it all.]

Sex and the City 2 seemed ripe with possibility at first. That glowing “Carrie On” poster. Trailers of glitter and light, piles of more of what we loved. The glitz and glamour, the fabulous city, and the four girls who started it all. Right? Wrong. First of all, the “girls” are definitely not girls anymore. They’re middle-aged women now. Sex and the City was stories of single women in their thirties and their dating escapades and trials with love and life. The show was witty and insightful. The first movie was a peek into their lives as real grown-ups. Miranda and Charlotte got married and have kids, Carrie finally marries Mr. Big, and Samantha–well, she’ll never change. The first movie was a love letter to the series. It had real heart-wrenching moments, good times in the Big Apple and of course, great outfits. It was an extra shot to fill our Cosmopolitan cups, if you will, another fix because we missed our fab foursome. Perhaps Michael Patrick King (writer, director) saw some untapped loyalty in the rabid SATC fan base and decided to milk it for all it was worth.

Milk it they did, creating a film with unreasonable excess ($10 million wardrobe budget: Patricia Field’s ultimate coup!) and a tissue-thin plotline. Suspend all that you once knew about Sex and the City. The characters here might be played by the same actors, but they seem like cardboard cutouts. The movie’s first big event? A white, rhinestone-crusted gay wedding (Stanford and Anthony), replete with swans and a cringeworthy cameo courtesy of Liza Minnelli. Here we set up our general plot points: Carrie (Sarah Jessica Parker) is 2 years deep into marriage with Mr. Big (Chris Noth), and just came out with her 4th? 5th? pink and black fake relationship book. Miranda (Cynthia Nixon) is still with Steve (David Eigenberg) and is struggling to be present for son Brady, while also dealing with a sexist boss (Ron White). Charlotte (Kristin Davis), also still married to Harry (Evan Handler), is deep into mommy-hood with a big-boobed, braless nanny to contend with.  Samantha (Kim Catrall) is facing the onset of menopause–or rather, avoiding it at all costs with pills and creams galore.

PR genius Samantha gets a business offer from a business-savvy sheik so slick she can’t turn it down (courtesy of hot ex boyfriend Smith, who has one scene and then vanishes from the film with no resolution): An all-expenses paid trip for four to Abu Dhabi. Noteworthy is the fact that the United Arab Emirates refused to let the crew shoot on location due to the offensive script, so the desert scenes, which comprise the majority of the film, were shot in Morocco. The ladies, dressed in their Manhattan-goes-to-the-Middle-East-finest, descend upon the city. The whole premise is a huge culture clash and eye-rollingly unrealistic. Even as well-off New Yorkers, the wardrobes are out of control and would make Paris Hilton suggest toning it down. Their gilded suite is the epitome of opulence; they have personal butlers and are waited on hand and foot. None of the girls fit in, least of all Samantha, who eventually gets arrested for public indecency. The film blithely pokes fun at burqas and Muslim modesty, and Samantha literally gives their culture the finger. This aspect of the film–not a mere scene but a huge portion–is culturally inept and painfully shallow.

Plot-wise, things bumble along. Anyone who saw a full-length trailer will know to expect Carrie to cross paths with ex-flame Aidan (John Corbett) –she’s shopping for shoes (of course!) and spices in a foreign bazaar; he’s buying rugs for his NYC furniture store. The sheer chemistry between Parker and Corbett is magnetic. The two wind up sharing a dinner and a kiss–which is quickly smothered by Carrie’s guilt, and we don’t see Aidan again, only Carrie confessing her sin to a wounded Mr. Big. Carrie and Miranda share a heart-to-heart on the woes of being a mother with live-in help (Kristin Davis does give one particularly honest scene and it involves baking cupcakes and vintage Valentino). Samantha is a caricature of herself. Sex-crazed and delirious, she spends the film chasing after dick or smearing herself in yams (since her menopause “supplements” were confiscated at the UAE airport).

The series centered around Carrie, and now there’s nothing left for her to do. At the wedding, a fellow guest gushes about how she “is” Carrie, until she realizes that Carrie and Mr. Big aren’t planning on procreation. They say it’s “me and you, just us two,” but never bring up the baby talk or even explore the topic. Granted, making Carrie a mom would be so cliche, it would break the soul of everything SATC used to be about: Make your own rules. Do what makes you happy, and love yourself. Carrie still writes, but it seems like more of the same. Her marriage to Mr. Big is placidly vanilla; evenings with takeout and a flat-screen TV. Even if that’s what happened, we don’t need to see that. Our Carrie is forever adventurous.

SATC 2 is a fun romp, if you can forget the well-crafted masterpiece that was the HBO series. It’s a chick flick on speed. There’s no sharp narrative or insight here. Nothing but a dervish of self-indulgent “girl power” and decadence from women who are simply too old for their roles, no ageism intended. The show wrapped up the stories perfectly; the first film put a bow on top. It would have been better to go out on a high note. There was simply no story left to tell–continuing the saga leads into the banality of lives that many women are already living, coated in a glamour lifestyle most are not. SATC 2 makes a mockery of the Sex and the City franchise, dumbing it down to avante garde fashion and bawdy laughs. The show had its moments of glamorous excess and was no doubt laced with innuendo, but now it’s gone trashy. SATC 2 utterly lacks authenticity. You won’t see Carrie typing at her window eating a popsicle, and you won’t see Miranda at home in her Harvard tee shirt hanging out with Fatty. SATC 2 is a faint echo of what we once loved. True fans are best to get lost in reruns of the TV series.

flashback: Carrie’s style (Sex and the City)

I was called out of work today, and being broke as a joke, a few points this weekend have opened me up to trips down memory lane. Cleaning out my cupboards (when you live in a place alone for four years, stuff can accumulate), organizing iPhoto, and this morning, reading excerpts from my handwritten high school journals (stickers and metallic ink, anyone)? Anyway, all that prompted me to seek out my old(est) website and then look in my folders for my carefully kept files from my old Glamour Junkie website. It’s been offline for a few years now but looking back on some of my work, I did such a great job (self-applause), piecing things together. So in honor of Sex and the City 2 being in theaters, I decided to post these pieces I did (in 2005!) and celebrate Carrie’s style, which still rules no matter how many years go by. So without further ado, an archive from Glamour Junkie history.

May 7th, 2005
Carrie Bradshaw (portrayed by Sarah Jessica Parker) is the star of the hit HBO series, and it’s easy to see why by her style. She is the most versatile–she chooses everything from vintage to uptown couture. She knows fashion. She bought Vogue instead of dinner when she first moved to the city because it “fed her more.” While her fashion choices are “out there” at times, she always goes for it and looks unique and amazing all the time, never falling into a rut. While she loves her clothes, shoes will always be Carrie’s vice, especially Manolo Blahniks! Carrie will forever be a trendsetter–and an inspiration to shopaholics everywhere.

me, myself, and Carrie Bradshaw

My personal love affair with a fictional icon

Her name has become synonymous with style and the chic, single-girl lifestyle. She represents the new woman’s funny, sharp, likable everygirl. She’s Carrie Bradshaw, possibly one of the most influential fictional characters to ever influence a generation. Sex and the City played a huge role in revolutionizing the way America views single women; presenting the idea that we do not have to be programmed primarily to achieve the cookie-cutter life targets we’ve been told we should reach for so long (marriage, house, baby, etc). Instead, the bachelorette cherishes single life, independence and freedom. The major storylines in the show, however, do center on not whether or not the characters do in fact marry, have children, or even serious relationships, but how they do it–without losing their sense of self. Being single is not the key, a sense of self is, and Carrie Bradshaw leads the way.

Along with many other women around the world, I have always identified with Carrie. She’s all about opening your heart and your mind at the same time. She’s witty, she’s sharp, she’s sexy–but all in a very accessible, believable way. Mine and Carrie’s “storylines” have coincided as I have watched and re-watched the show and begun to experience my single life as a young woman. While I’m not near my thirties yet, I still feel the inevitable pull from older influences–and society in general–to “settle down,” whatever that means. For Carrie and I, marriage and “happily ever after” is not the be-all, end-all in life. And just like Carrie, I’m a career-focused girl but not necessarily as schooled or as driven as the other three women on the show.

I feel akin to Carrie in many ways. She smokes and drinks and has had a fair helping of casual dating and one-night-stands, but at the end of the day, she’s an old-fashioned girl. She believes in the One, she believes in romance, and most of all, she believes in love. She’s sentimental and reflective. All women are complex, but I relate to Carrie a lot in this way too–her needs and feelings are often conflicted and result in charged and sometimes difficult relationships with men. She’s had to know when to walk away, and it’s bittersweet; especially in her second breakup with Aidan, whom she truly loved and respected, but it just didn’t work, and she couldn’t be what he wanted her to be. It’s never easy to strike a balance. Not just anyone will do. Mischiko Kakutani accused Carrie of “disposing” of men when she reviewed her book in Season Five; I’ve had many of my older friends and colleagues say the same thing to me. But I digress: When searching for a soulmate, one can never be too picky. And so continues the endless search. Carrie was looking for love, real love. “Ridiculous, consuming, can’t live without each other love.” And she found it, as we all hoped and predicted–in Mr. Big.

It’s easy to make a sweeping judgment of the carefree single girl–Carrie and myself included–and throw out terms like “promiscuous” and the like. Aside from the ludicrous societal double-standard, I like to believe that I’ve maintained a moral compass. You can’t look back, you can only learn. Carrie is flawed. I am flawed. We trip over things, we can’t (don’t?) cook, have messy apartments and high credit card bills due to an unshakable shopping addiction. But she’s real–still fictional–but that’s what makes the show so amazing. The writers really, really made Carrie real and relatable to all of us. We can look at her and say: “I’m her.”