Here's hoping no kids egg my car this year...

Tonight during my drive home I passed a gray Jetta and thought I saw Bill Clinton in the driver's seat wearing a yellow fleece. Can you imagine if Bill had never become president and was commuting everyday on I-684 in a yellow fleece instead of helping to save the world?

Talk about spooky...

Also, there's a new NIFW.


Wedding, Alex-style

Alex is not the first of my friends to get married, but his wedding was a first in this way: the bride and groom entered the reception hall to the Star Wars' theme. Not kidding.

Alex has always had his shit together and it doesn't surprise me in the least that he is one of the first to be married. He is also the first to be a homeowner. This may sound like a good place to be in life, except you are forgetting that this means he is now the lucky owner of the "doorstep most likely to be frequented by his un-married friends in their 30s." So I hope he is relaxing in Hawaii this week with his lovely new wife, Han, because from now on, he is the resident GROWN-UP.

Without further ado... the wedding and brunch pix:


One-track mind

"Mom, what do you think of THIS?" (shows new blog header)
"Hey, it looks like a colon!"

Fixing with Windex

You know what is truly amazing? The transformation of Tula in My Big Fat Greek Wedding, which takes her from Loser with frumpy clothes to Aidan's girlfriend with confidence and style in about a minute and a half. All through the magic of college.

I'm pretty sure it took the rest of us four years. Four years and a semester abroad. And I, for one, did not get Aidan as a post-grad gift.


What then?

Today was Wednesday, October 23. My friend Alex's wedding is Saturday and today was the day that I had a ticket booked to fly back from Paris to New York for the wedding.

This is the last date that was planned in my Paris life. And so as time has spun away in its quick way over the past three months, I have always had this date in mind. Because nothing beyond October 23 existed; I had not foreseen past the flight home.

I am feeling the effects of this freefall.

It's not that I'm unhappy with this life. Except that I am unhappy. I struggle with fitting back into a society and among friends; I feel foreign.

Even on my loneliest days in Paris, I was not alone because I had the city for company. I would walk the streets and take comfort from their strong facades, worn but sturdy from time. And perhaps I also allowed myself more leeway to feel lonely- I was far away from home. Loneliness abroad is explicable, almost assumed, expected. Loneliness at home, back among "all your family and friends," is less accepted, perhaps even to myself.

People pretty much expect you to be over it, four months after you move countries. I avoid talking about how much I miss Paris because the tolerance of others to listen to that sort of thing is limited; it comes across bourgeois and self-involved on my part. And yet it is so much of what is on my mind everyday. I can't help but think that this would all be easier if Paris was a man I was dating; surely it is more socially acceptable to drone on about relationship problems than it is to bemoan a city and life lost.

'Brooklyn' is the magic word, the solution that everyone offers. "Wait until Brooklyn, you'll see!" they shout. "Once you move there, everything will fall into place." And maybe they are right, maybe Brooklyn will suddenly be the answer.

But what if it is not.


In case "something bad" happens

Put a new phone number in your cell phone and label it "ICE" (in case of emergency). In parenthesis next to it, list the person's connection to you. If something bad happens and an emergency worker has to get in touch with someone quick, he or she will look for an ICE number in your phone first.

So to review:
ICE (Mom): (555) 555-5555

Thanks to Katherine for the advice, a girl who knows how much I love a good lifesaving tip.



This is going to sound cliche and like a bitter New Yorker, but I swear I would write this even if I came from the opposite of New York, like... Nevada.

Red Sox fans are SO. ANNOYING.*

Like a team if you want. Even LOVE a team. Put their bumper sticker on your car and make-out with a team if you want. What do I care? Except when you start your CRAZY LOUD SCREAMING ANNOYING VOICES, it really gets to me.

Red Sox fans are like those annoying people who cut you in the "10 items max" line at the supermarket clearly holding 26 items. They are also like the people who do not know how to merge onto route 22 in Pennsylvania. And finally, they are like THOSE people who talk through an entire movie that you just paid $16 to see and your suspension of disbelief is broken by IDIOTS jabbering on about the f'ing Red Sox.
And don't go giving me the old sob story about how they hadn't won in like 500 years until two years ago boo hoo Sox players. Their pants are baggy and their hair is ugly. And there is no 'charm' to this look:

Do yourselves a favor: clean up your act, get a haircut and wear tighter pants. Look presentable. Like a Yankee.

*If you are a Red Sox fan and a friend or a reader of this site, my apologies. You are probably not as annoying as the other Sox fans.


Making Strides Sunday

I'm not crazy about bugs and I really hate the thought of snakes, but the one thing that I am unbelievably afraid of is one day waking up with cancer. My Mom has worked in oncology for the past 25+ years and I have grown up hearing stories of her patients' "bone mets" and "positive nodes." To hear her speak about cancer is to hear of a veteran speak of war- it sounds nonchalant except when you realize that this nonchalance has grown from an OVERWHELMING amount of emotion and experience.

My Nana had breast cancer twice in her life and survived it both times and my great-aunt on my Dad's side recently went into remission from her breast cancer. Anyone who knows anything about breast cancer knows that having it on both sides of your family is NOT good news. This is a reality that I think about daily; sometimes it's on my long drives to work and other times it's when I pass a hospital and sometimes for no reason it's when I'm falling asleep at night. How long until I too join the statistics?

This morning my Mom and I walked in the American Cancer Society's walk-a-thon, a 5-mile jaunt through the gorgeous weather with about 9 billion other people. I was TOTALLY unprepared for the number of women wearing pink shirts with "Survivor" printed on the back. You hear about the numbers and you see the pink ribbons, but there, in the flesh, were thousands of women, marching down the trail, some in wigs, some whose hair has grown back, and some proud of their hairless tops. They had confronted the demon, my demon, and yet they marched, wrangled and tired, but victorious.

What struck me the most was to see how many different types of women were Survivors. Women of all races and all ages, some wearing crosses around their necks and some wrapped in religious scarves. And there they all were, glad to be alive. It was really impressive.

Along the way there were hundreds of volunteers cheering for the walkers, many of them college students from Manhattanville or Purchase. I noticed that quite a few of them seemed to be foreign students from Asia and I thought about what this must look like to someone from another culture, this huge mass of Americans marching through the streets in the name of a disease. It is something so unique to our culture and in that moment I was really proud to be part of the power that lies in belief and the unwillingness to accept 'no.'

"Rock on, you motivated Americans," I thought to myself.

Because surely we can find a way.


Friday night jinx

Every morning as I turn right onto I-684, I have this great thought for what I want to post about on my blog that night. And every night I try to recall what that great thought was to no avail. I mean, what could it possibly be? The charm of a certain guardrail?

I'm going to a friend's wedding next weekend and have made it my mission this week to avoid foods that will interfere with the whole "looking good in the new dress" thing. No one tells you this when they sell moving back to America-land, but living in this country makes. you. fatter. I wish I was kidding. But the lethal combination of not living in a 6th floor walk-up and driving everywhere puts on the pounds. I'm trying to tell myself that this is a pre-Brooklyn problem, that once I get there I will do so much more walking and I will be poorer and unable to buy cookies everyday at lunch. I also try to convince myself that I, like Elizabeth Gilbert, need an "Italy" period in my life when I allow myself to get over my recent divorce (with Paris) and let my body go. This zen-theory works much better on paper than in reality because I am having trouble with the zen of FITTING INTO MY PANTS.

And no good intention goes untested, as we all know, so today the universe decided to send two colleagues to work with donuts and one with freshly-baked chocolate croissants. I held it together though, because I'm about two binge-days away from wearing pants with a drawstring waist. Hot.

This week was full of important emails that warned me that not enough women are getting free mammograms and of my impending doom should I not forward one cheesy-ass poem to five people in the next three hours. After describing two horror stories of people who didn't forward the email (both of which ended in death, mind you), the final one reassured this:

"Richard sent this poem out within 45 minutes of reading it. Not even 4 hours later walking along the street to his new job interview with a really big company, ! when he ran into Cynthia Bell, his secret love for 5 years. Cynthia came up to him and told him of her passionate crush on him that she had had for 2 years. Three days later, he proposed to her and they got married. Cynthia and Richard are still married with three children, happy as ever!"

Sad and unemployed to married and successful in three days? Ya. Ok.*

And finally, how cool is this site?

*probably just jinxed myself.


Annnnd... ACTION!

Scene 1
Place: Kitchen table
Time: Sunday evening, post-dinner
Jen and Steve are surfing the Internet on their respective laptops.

J: Come onnnn... help me think of the top five important things to tell people about helping the environment for my blog tomorrow. It's Blog Action Day.
S: Ok, 1. Use Nalgene bottles.
J: Or maybe just any reusable bottle?
S: Yeah. 2. Eat local food.
J: Ok, I guess I can find a website that tells people where their closest farmer's market is. How about getting fashionable reusable bags?
S: Ok, that can be 3. And 4 should be Use energy-saving lightbulbs.

In the meantime, Mama Epting comes into the kitchen.

S: Also, tell them they should unplug their cell phone chargers if they're not using them (5).
M: I don't do that. I leave mine plugged in all the time.
M: Well, it's just easier.
S: Mom, I am the president of Enact. It's important that I practice what I preach and it's also important that you support me! That's like... if I was the president of the United States and you were... communist.



New issue: www.noisforwimps.blogspot.com. Check it out.


Can Tiger Sharks make photocopies?

Work this week was stressful and at one point Thursday afternoon I started having heart palpitations, sweaty palms, and a migraine. Over photocopies. Friday was much of the same and by the time I walked in the door Friday evening, I was all "RED WINE OR BUST."

So I settled down with some red wine and kettle popcorn on the couch and proceeded to watch abc.com and nbc.com like it was my after-work job. My poor brain was so dim from the intense photocopy work-outs that I even sat through completely shitty shows like The Bachelor (who has no personality and is trying to figure out which no-personality female he should procreate with). Seriously, women who want to go on that show must have a strong desire to inflict bitchy, female competition on themselves... kind of like the girls who join sororities.

Included on the night's program was also Gray's Anatomy, which as Eliza and I discussed at work, seems to never really be great TV, but we can't stop ourselves from watching.

Some Gray's Observations:
1. If I were in a relationship as boring as Meredith and McDreamy, I would pack up my shit and move to a trailer park in another rainy state to find another intern. Maybe Oregon.
2. Every time I think I like Alex, he does something to crown himself DOUCHEBAG once again. Seriously, is that guy cool or not? Because Gray's writers seem to have a problem grasping his character development... which at this point vascillates between "wow I'm hot and emotionally available!" to "wow I think I'm hot and I'm Satan."
3. Lexie, I loved you when you told George you knew you were awesome. "Yeah, you ARE awesome!" I thought. And now I just think you're weepy and boring. Which proves that you really are Meredith Gray's biological sister.


I spent some time with everyone's favorite 5th grader earlier this week, who decided that we should start a band. We all wore backwards Eric Clapton hats; he would play guitar, his 2nd grader brother was assigned drums and I was to be the lead singer.

"Jen, we need to write our first hit."
"Ok, no problem, I have paper and a pen. What do you want our first song to be about?"
*at this point, I start wondering what he'll say- what do 9 year olds think about? Love? Family? Divorce? Global Warming?
"Hm... I think... MONKEYS!"
"Um, I, ok."
"Yeah, 'cause I wrote a song last week about a tiger shark, so that's already done."

Because of course the two options for songs written by 9 year old boys would be tiger sharks and monkeys. In that order.


Hopes, dreams, and mental issues

Me: Can I ask you for some more water?

Waiter: Sure, anything else? Heads shake as he walks his adorable ass away.

Mclo: Your hand in marriage...?

Me: I don't know how I'd manage with a shrink in the beginning. I'd be so paranoid that everything I tell them slots me into a generalization. And I don't like them thinking about me as the girl who 'xyz.' I don't want to be one of many. I want to be one of one.

Goldrick: Yeah, that's called 'favorite child syndrome.'

Me: You know, I was thinking about it. You're so lucky. You don't have to worry about another gender. There's no question in your mind like, "ohh he's a MAN."

Matthew: Right. It's more, "ohh, he's a dumbass."


The New Yorker Festival 2007

Here is what has run through my head at the start of every October for the past five years:
"Ok, Steve's birthday present, check, what else... OH SHIT I FORGOT TO BUY TICKETS TO THE NEW YORKER FESTIVAL."

This year, promising not to miss the boat again, I sat at my parents' kitchen table in mid-September and counted down the seconds until the tickets went on sale. In my left hand, I wielded a phone with ticketmaster on speed dial. In my right hand, the ticketmaster website on a laptop computer. And after a furious 4-minutes of double-teaming ticketmaster from both ends, I emerged, triumphant, with tickets to three events. And holy gorgeous event-spaces, were they worth it:

*Friday night: Reading by Daniel Alarcon and Zadie Smith

You know those authors who read in that monotone voice, only slightly lifting their tone at the end of a paragraph? As if using something other than flatness would ruin their hipness and their art? Daniel Alarcon is one of those. And the thing is that everyone fell asleep. Because he was reading some passage about a man who decides to leave his wife and baby and it was literally like sitting in church and zoning out because the melody of the psalms are always the same. Boring.

Then Zadie Smith came to the front of the synagogue. My first thought was "wait, Zadie Smith is black!?!" and then immediately "wait, Zadie Smith is British?!?" This just goes to show that I made it through the hefty On Beauty without so much as taking a glance at the inside back cover. Other than her charming accent, Zadie Smith also impressed by reading the first two chapters of her yet-to-be-published book. I have nothing more to say than her writing was beautiful and stylized, original and nuanced. I even waited on line afterwards to shake her hand and to tell her that she is lovely.

*Friday night, George Saunders and Jonathan Safran Foer, conversation about the "Incredible"

I wanted Jonathan Safran Foer to be adorable and witty; instead he was adorable in a "I-look-like-Harry-Potter-at-age-30-without-the-scar" and not as witty as he was intense. Especially in comparison with George Saunders, who was so lovable and funny and comfortable with himself. One of the most interesting comments of the evening was when someone asked JSF if he and Nicole Krauss (his wife) sit around talking about their plot lines and eating donuts in bed. (This is, of course, what many of us imagine to be true when two young, dynamic authors are married). Unfortunately, JSF confided that he leaves the house to write (he did not specify where- a park bench? a synagogue? the Park Slope YMCA?) and his wife writes in the house. When he comes back after a long day of work, he does not discuss his book and sticks to an "out of sight, out of mind" mentality. I gotta say, it might be true, but it sure does lose its fiction magic to hear that. I like my writers toiling with their work and tortured by characters that plague their consciousnesses. What JSF described might very well be true but it just feels so anti-artist and, how shall I put it... soccer mom.

*Sunday morning:
Robert Hass and Katha Pollitt poetry class
I wish I could start every Sunday morning in a poetry class led by these two. They shared poems that have inspired them (Milton's "On Blindness", Wallace Steven's "Thirteen ways of looking at a blackbird") and then spoke a bit about how they come to the page. I loved that Robert Hass keeps a folder of scraps of paper and envelopes and post-its with words or phrases on each one. When he wants to start a new poem he opens the folder and pulls something out and goes from there. Makes you dream of the possibilities for the back of your Con Ed bill, non?


Top 5 "men looking for women" ads on craigslist as of NOW

Ahh, what a menu. WHAT a selection. Craigslist, you really outdo yourself, I must say. Every once in a while a friend will forward me a particularly fantastic-sounding man's ad. And inevitably, I scroll down. And weep. Luckily they are tears of laughter, though I'll tell ya, it's kind of enough to send a single girl to the nunnery.

Top 5 "m4w" headlines of the moment- GO!

5. Let's be honest, nothing too loose.
4. With Strings Attached. The Better to Play Love's Sweet Music.
3. Wanted: Sassy witty, frisky, loyal girlfriend.
2. Matt Damon trapped in George Costanza's body.

and finally,
1. Man with Bod of Porn Star Seeks One Woman.



It is becoming increasingly apparent that I am not destined to become a famous musician. Nor have I demonstrated an acting talent that stands out as a hobby that I should pursue. My artistic skills are questionable at best. Try as I might, I don't understand modern dance and other than the 45-second ballet I still have memorized from Kindergarten, my dancing skills are nothing to write home about either. I will not be known for being one of these types of artists.

So what do you do when you realize you're never going to play for sold-out crowds? Maybe you change your dream.

I write this because there came a moment yesterday when I pressed the "publish" button and No Is For Wimps became a reality. This was followed by the "HOLY SHIT" face that I make when I am VERY excited about something. Then ensued ten minutes of rummaging through a box of CDs on my bedroom floor and then five minutes of dancing around to the sound of Outkast blaring through my little Dell speakers.

Organizing a bunch of people to contribute their voices to the Internet chorus, saying YES, and feeling like I am doing more in my life than working to pay my bills. This, my friends, is the closest it gets to being a rock star for me.

Sometimes I think about what my children will say to me one day about the George W. Bush years. How will I respond when they ask why I did nothing to stop the incredibly awful things that have been happening during his reign? It is not enough to say that I am one small voice out of many; it does not make me feel like a good person to say "politics don't interest me"; I am sick of reading about Iraq and Iran, but I do because it's important. I don't try to pretend that this blog or NIFW are going to save the world. But they are something for me. They give me a lifeline of communication, of voices, of perspectives.

And so I rocked out to Outkast yesterday like the rock star I will never be. Because I acted. Because I started. Because something came into existence yesterday that was not there before.

And maybe that is all that matters.


No Is For Wimps

I'll have more to say about this later, but here's something important you want to be reading: