Husband Envy

It’s not the first time I daydreamed I was

Nicole Krauss, authoress

all-around good

woman good Jewish but not so Jewish

writer I could aspire towards

and as a matter of curiosity

exactly one day

(perhaps only hours!)

older than I.

But today most of all

when I learned husband

Jonathan

Safran

Foer

(even his name sounds groovy out loud with line breaks forcing teeth against my lips)

cuts up old books to make

new books

Fresh! Magical!

I thought I couldn’t stand to

be me another day

I just want to be Nicole Krauss

just to be married to a man

who thinks up cutting up

old books to make new ones

who writes books called

Extremely Loud

Incredibly Close

and then writes a book

about not Eating Animals

because sometimes he

doesn’t eat them

out of kindness or conviction

and then – to top it all off with an all-natural maraschino cherry –

lives in Park Slope and wears

smart but sexy glasses.

I imagine him sitting there

next to her

at a wooden desk in their house in Brooklyn

(the desk was his

found at an antiques shop in New Paltz)

separating their two laptops is an

antique robin blue typewriter

maybe even with Hebrew letters like

the one I drooled over but

didn’t haggle over

(4000 shekels!)

in the artist’s colony in the Golan Heights.

There is an imposed silence every week day

in Chez Safran Foer Krauss

from 8 am to 12:45 for

Writing Time.

They write and write and write

while sipping organic espresso

a matter that is serious to both of them

but they’re considering giving up

because of stomachaches.

On Wednesdays they listen to

Van Morrison for inspiration.

On Fridays he makes her a spinach and goat cheese omelette

and takes out the recyclables

and this is their life

I imagine

unless one of their kids is sick –

then she is downstairs

on the couch watching

Phineas and Ferb and

gritting her teeth in

frustrated agony

the way writers who are also

mothers grit their teeth.

She considers calling the nanny

but she won’t while he is upstairs cutting up

old books

to make new books

new stories.

She’ll wait.

Or that’s what I’d do.

Wait and wait and wait

and grit teeth

until Wednesday when the fever breaks

and she takes

her laptop

to the café down the corner

and stays there

til the sun goes down

til closing time

so he can sing the kids to sleep

and she can see if her Wikipedia page

is longer than his or

for once write a novel on the napkins

like she’s wanted to for

the last three years

and glue them together

with Juicy Fruit gum.

Fresh! Magical!

Sometimes, she writes

in her journal

how she wishes the internet would break

so she could start over

and find the wooden desk

in New Paltz first.

Or marry a carpenter.

And this is when

I understand why

she is keeping her name

and writing poetry again

and practicing the Law of Attraction

on the door to the cafe

daydreaming it’s a portal

to that kibbutz she volunteered on

in the summer of 1990-something

a kibbutz in the Lower Galilee

a lemon tree in the front yard

that looks remarkably

like the one I see

through my bathroom window.

A virtual cure for anxiety is almost here

This morning, my hair dryer caught on fire.

Which is a lot better than my hair catching on fire — which actually happened once, the first time I visited Israel in 1992 and forgot to use a converter before I set my curling iron to my bangs.

I lost half my bangs that day … which was probably a good thing, in hindsight.

I sensed something was wrong this morning when I started to smell smoke. I smart girl.

By the time smoke started pouring out of the thing, my hand was already on its way to the outlet. So when fire sparks started shooting out from the plug, I pulled it out from the wall immediately.

RIP Conair Ion Shine. RIP smooth middle aged hair with no fly-aways.

It was startling, for sure, the fireworks display. It’s a fear of mine — electrical appliances spawning disasters. A friend of mine lost her house to a forgotten curling iron once when I was 10.

But the incident today was also strength-building.

How so?

As a lifelong anxiety sufferer, I’ve become really good at imagining the worst. My mind is programmed for disaster and tragedy; not so much survival and rescue. So that when I do save the day — when I manage to get myself out of a hairy situation or when, for instance, my child manages to narrowly escape harm all on his own — the grey matter in my mind has a new paradigm from which to think.

See, I can tell myself. You made it.

You are okay.

Not that I am inviting harm to myself or my children.

But I do firmly believe that a good, solid, quite startling, near tragedy is a muscle strengthener for those of us with anxiety. (As long as the outcome is a happy ending.)

It shows us that the worst isn’t always as bad as we think.

Perhaps one day, in the not-so-far away future, the smarty pants tech inventors I work with will come up with a virtual reality stimulator whose anxiety treatment is designed to fully scare the crap out of us.

So that we will see, once and for all, how strong, indeed, we are.