Mary Elizabeth Williams (marybeth) Wed 11 Mar 09 04:18
Thanks, Amy and Jessica. No haters! I haven't heard a peep from either of my parents. It was actually freeing that both of them pretty much stopped talking to me before I wrote the thing. The caution that I felt about writing about other people in my life wasn't there to that degree. I did nevertheless tone a stuff down. I'm really learning that it's very very challenging to write about the people in your life in a way that's respectful of their privacy without losing the story. I don't know any writer who hasn't struggled with how far to go. A few of my friends who are in the book have called or emailed, and so far everybody's been really nice. I'm doing a reading in Brooklyn in a few weeks, and I do have this fear that a few of the people I identified as raging douchetards will show up. I changed some of their details, and hey, it's not like we're going to be exchanging friendship bracelets anyway, but I sometimes have visions of the woman I called my "nemesis" blacklisting me. (She works in the media! HA!) And I think the "why don't you just adopt?" analogy is a great one. I have a friend who does an amazing blog about her own adventures in infertility, called alittlepregnant.com, and she has written a lot about that, with great humor and sensitivity. The world is full of helpy helpertons, some of whom may just be making small talk and some of whom are just totally invested in getting you to live the same lives they have. When are you two going to get married? When are you going to have kids? Don't you want kids? When are you going to have the second one? You can't let her be an only child! When are you going to leave the city? You can't raise kids in the city! Note to world: thoughts go on the inside. Our choices are so so personal. And sure, some of my friends have taken paths that would be totally wrong for me. That's why they're their paths. If you don't have to live it, you don't get a vote! Although I did spend the better part of the last nine months teasing my friend Keri for getting knocked up a third time.
Lisa Harris (lrph) Wed 11 Mar 09 05:07
I was on a date (back in the dating days) and the man and I were talking about where we lived and where we wanted to live. At the time I was living in Boca Raton, FL (and hated it!). He lived in eastern Ft. Lauderdale (where I really wanted to live). At one point he said, "Well, we're all going to end up living in Westin-like sub-divisions anyway, so it's all moot." And I thought to myself, "There is NO WAY I will end up living in a sub-division." Needless to say, that was our last date. Clearly we weren't going anywhere.
reader (artlife) Thu 12 Mar 09 14:09
i fled the suburbs where i was born and raised as soon as i could it amuses me that once i married and had children, i settled in a leafy suburb, similar to where i was raised but i did take my kids into sf frequently when they were young - and my suburb is close to the city, so there is nearby diversity and there are rampant cultural opportunities
Daniel (dfowlkes) Fri 13 Mar 09 02:59
<scribbled by dfowlkes Tue 3 Jul 12 10:14>
Maria Rosales (rosmar) Fri 13 Mar 09 10:24
When suburbs started they were intentionally not diverse, but mine, like yours, is diverse now.
Daniel (dfowlkes) Fri 13 Mar 09 11:12
<scribbled by dfowlkes Tue 3 Jul 12 10:14>
Fawn Fitter (fsquared) Fri 13 Mar 09 11:58
How did your reading go, MB? What kind of questions are you getting?
Mary Elizabeth Williams (marybeth) Sun 15 Mar 09 05:37
No disrespect to the burbs here! What I did find difficult as I was searching were all the people who were so set on the inevitability of leaving the city. I had a broker flat out tell me my kids would hate me for raising them in a small apartment. That is BALLSY. And it's that mindset of judgmentalism that I find so fucking toxic. I really really tire of the culture of "I need to put you down to feel good about me." Fawn, I think the Housing Works event went fine! It was a "conversation" with Chris Bonanos of New York magazine, and frankly neither of us were quite sure what that meant, but we had a good time. I get a lot of questions about why I wrote the book and how I started it, but one of my favorites from the event the other night was about how I blog and how that affects the writing. When I was shopping the initial proposal around, my first agent gave me a memoir that had been based on a popular blog. And I thought, this sucks. I love having a place for my little random thoughts, and I have long stood firmly in opposition of the notion that print is a more legitimate form than anything on the web. But they are different. And I think blogs is blogs and books is books and the space where they overlap is pretty small.
Lisa Harris (lrph) Sun 15 Mar 09 17:28
That is ballsy. I have people tell me all the time that I MUST build out my house so my kids can have their own rooms. And I think, "What if I lived in a condo that couldn't be built out?" Plenty of families have kids that share bedrooms. Most days nobody that lives in this house could care less about building her that room.
Mr. Death is coming after you, too (divinea) Mon 16 Mar 09 04:35
Hey, I was raised in a small NY apartment, and, looking back, I LOVE my parents for getting us somewhere decent to live (it really WAS nice), and esp. my mother for opening up all of the wonders of the city for me.
The Highly Overrated (joeyx) Mon 16 Mar 09 09:16
Hey Mary Beth, long time fan, first time question asker... once you guys got settled in to Inwood, and things were on their way, did you maintain your searching? Did you still scan Craigslist and the Times? Did you ever find a place in your old neighborhood where you thought, "Shit, if we waited 6 months we could have bought this one?"
Mary Elizabeth Williams (marybeth) Tue 17 Mar 09 04:14
Divinea, thank you for that post. That means a lot to me. I really love that my girls take for granted stuff that other people dream their whole lives of seeing, because they live here. Ah, and the artist formerly known as stickboy! Longtime fan as well! I'm not obsessive, but I do still look at the real estate listings - both here in Inwood and in my old Carroll Gardens neighborhood. As I mentioned upthread, the apartment we bid on originally is now, three years later, on the market for 70K more. And I have two friends who have this sort of unit and it makes me weep: http://realestate.nytimes.com/sales/detail/641-3430/inwood-new-york-ny- usa/PRICE-HIGH- sort/266-400190--297-0134618--641-3504--641-3430--641-3692--44-1515099--641-36 71--44-1182816--641-3674--955-0712008001- ls/66-t I love my hood with all my heart, but sometimes I wish I could airlift it about a hundred blocks further downtown.
Lisa Harris (lrph) Tue 17 Mar 09 07:59
They have that roof garden view? AND 3 bedrooms? I'm weeping with you.
Philippe Habib (phabib) Tue 17 Mar 09 09:39
As the market hit the tank soon after you bought, how did that impact your feelings about buying and owning? Did you have thoughts that you'd be on the good end of the price spiral once you got in and then discover you got to the party too late?
Mary Elizabeth Williams (marybeth) Wed 18 Mar 09 05:28
I honestly feel I did as well as possible. I started looking in 2003, so, even with the slowdown and slight dip in the market, prices are never going to be what they were then. And sure, maybe if we'd had our shit totally together and leaped on something right at that moment, we *might* now have a tiny co op in Carroll Gardens, or a somewhat rundown house in Kensingon (both Brooklyn). But we didn't, so, je ne regrette rien. If I were trying to sell right now, like some of my friends, I might be freaking. But right now, my home is just my home, and that is a GOOD thing. I got this place for 10K less than asking, which in NYC in 2006 was pretty unusual. I got a 30 fixed mortgage rate, thanks to the Community Reinvestment Act. And mostly, I just like where I live and where this road has taken my family and me. I sometimes look at what houses are going for in the other cities where my friends live, and think, why am I doing this again? But value isn't square footage or resale price. It's how you feel about where you live. So I guess I think whenever you arrive at the party, you've just to figure out how to have the best time possible once you're there.
Gail Williams (gail) Wed 18 Mar 09 12:28
Thanks, Mary Beth, for a good read and a good discussion.
Lisa Harris (lrph) Wed 18 Mar 09 12:29
(dana) Wed 18 Mar 09 12:51
More thanks here, marybeth. BTW, your book has been very popular with my friends in SF who are still in the market. Three people out here have read it since this discussion began. We're highlighting a new discussion today, but of course this one doesn't have to end.
It's all done with mirrors... (kafclown) Wed 18 Mar 09 13:47
I just finished the book, and the tension at the closing... I might be a big softie, but I had tears in my eyes for you. I remember very well having a similar re-action (and our closing dance was not nearly as rollercoaster as yours) It's a really great read, and I can't wait to read your next book. (on your second and third editions, you can add the clown seal of approval!)
Amy Keyishian (superamyk) Thu 19 Mar 09 02:53
It read like a house on fire!
Mary Elizabeth Williams (marybeth) Thu 19 Mar 09 09:41
Oh, thanks, everybody. I knew I could count on the WELLperns to bring it with the great questions and stories. It's been cool getting to talk about my meatspace home in my virtual one.
It's all done with mirrors... (kafclown) Mon 23 Mar 09 11:37
Hey MB-- what witty things are you thinking to write in people's books? When I wrote my coloring/learning book I alternated between: "Have fun coloring in the whole state!" and "Remember, you are never too old to color!"
Mary Elizabeth Williams (marybeth) Wed 25 Mar 09 12:34
I've been thining of writing "NOW YOU CAN'T RETURN THIS" but I haven't yet. I suck at signing.
Fawn Fitter (fsquared) Thu 26 Mar 09 13:37
"Thanks for helping me pay my mortgage."
Linda Castellani (castle) Thu 26 Mar 09 17:07
Seems like a play on the words "house warming" might be called for.
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