Archive | October, 2012

50 Shades of Oy Vey

My mother called me yesterday. As always, when she aggravates me, I want to post about it here.

Here’s why:

Mother In Palm Beach:He’s going to marry that Russian, isn’t he?
JS: She’s Kosovan.
MIPB: I always hated those Russians. They completely ruined Brighton Beach.
JS: You’ve never been to Brooklyn
MIPB: That’s a filthy lie, Jasmine. You’ve always taken his slide.
JS: It’s not even eleven o’clock mother. How can you be drinking already?
MIPB: Don’t pretend you don’t have a Hendricks in your hand right now.

(Silence of Admission.)

MIPB: I was a good wife. I didn’t do everything he wanted, but I stayed skinny. How was I supposed to know what he was into?
JS: Mother, I don’t want to hear…
MIPB: He just seemed like your typical finance asshole when we met. I thought the masks were part of an old Halloween costume.
JS: Mother please!
MIPB: Not that he ever satisfied me either. You think just once he’d asked what the straps were for.
JS: Could we please focus, here Mother? How are we going to stop this wedding?

Mark: Maybe they really love each other.

This last helpful comment came from Mark Mualam, my errant interior designer, who was in the kitchen taking measurements.

JS: How about finishing the bedroom before you share your pearls of wisdom?
MIPB: Who is that? He sounds just like…
JS: Shut up, mother. You know I never speak about him. And let’s get back to the wedding. What are we going to do?
MIPB: I got my settlement darling. You’re on your own.


My future ex-husband: What if Mark is right? What if they do love each other?

Did I mention that my future ex-husband has been behaving bizarre ever since the night we went to Lysette’s house in Queens? As if I didn’t have enough to worry about. I swear I must be the only sane person in this entire penthouse, including Pavel, who’s installing the Novellini shower door in the en suite bathroom.

On another subject: As my readers know, I don’t like to call attention to other women. However, these two ladies had the same idea as I did and posted their two cents under the title “50 Shades of Oy Vey”. Anyone who thinks likes Jasmine is doing something right.

Abbey Prentice – Writer and blogger and sadly for her, a mother – really, really hated the S&M books and says they are “not worth the paper they’re printed on”.

Pink Lady Lindsley, also a writer, sounds like she has a really hot sex life herself. Alas, she found the sex scenes boring and prefers 9 1/2 weeks for getting libidinous. Jasmine hasn’t read the books but generally endorse anything erotic, so long as it doesn’t make me feel old.

in future ex-husband, Gay Men, Jasmine Schwartz, Jasmine's Father, Jasmine's Mother, Lysette, Mark, Queens, Renovation, Sabina | Read full story · | Comments { 0 }


I confess. I watched soap operas growing up – in the kitchen with my mom while we watched the maid peel and chop vegetables for dinner. All My Children, General Hospital and One Life to Live. Luke and Laura. Erica Kane. Vicky Buchanan and her many alternate personalities.

As any soap fan will tell you, the appeal of these shows is not the “good” characters – the sweet, the gullible and the law-abiding. It’s the plotters and the schemers, the seekers of revenge and the lovers of injustice, the jealous and the impulsive and the just plain loony – they’re the ones who draw us in. We care more for the tragically flawed than the morally upright, and we tune in to see just how far they’ll push the limits of their outrageous behavior.

So too in literature. In February, The New Yorker published an essay about Edith Wharton written by Jonathan Franzen. The piece [which has since been slammed as “mean-spirited” and “uninformed” because of its treatment of Wharton] points out that we root for unlikeable protagonists in fiction because the author has given the character “a powerful desire”. We, the readers, take on that desire as our own, and keep reading.

That’s part of the story, but there’s another important element. Honesty. Naked, relentless emotional honesty. There are writers who use language beautifully, and there are authors who are expert storytellers, but the books that stay with us are written by those unafraid to tell the truth, about themselves and their characters.

The Patrick Melrose novels of Edward St. Aubyn hook us, not because the main character was raped by his father, but because of their magnificent portrayal of narcissism, drug addiction and self-delusion. Here again, it’s the weaknesses and the failings, both the writers’ and the characters’, that perfect the character. St. Aubyn has said, about these outstanding autobiographical novels, “The whole Melrose series is an attempt to tell the truth, and is based on the idea that there is some salutary or liberating power in telling the truth.”

From Luke and Laura to Patrick Melrose. That’s quite a neat jump, don’t you think? We need something in the middle, like the funny, fabulous David Sedaris. The reason his books are consistent bestsellers? His portrayal of himself as an egotistical, inept pinhead.

Sedaris has been criticized for exaggerating the truth in order to make his essays entertaining, but the heart of his appeal is that he skewers himself without sentimental fluff. In The Learning Curve, an essay published in Me Talk Pretty One Day, Sedaris describes his failure as a writing teacher. He’s at such a complete loss for what to do with his class, that he wheels in a television set one day and forces the students to watch his favorite soap, One Life to Live, instructing them to guess what might happen next.

I bet you didn’t think I’d bring it back to Vicky Buchanan, but I did. Aside from writing characters that are flawed, neurotic and self-destructive, a little humor, too, can breathe life into a story.

in Luke and Laura, Writing | Read full story · | Comments { 1 }