Home for the Holidays

Ah, such a dramatic title for what amounts to an 8 mile drive for me. But the holidays are more than a journey down the highway- they are a personal journey -- always. Aren't they? It's part of my ritual to watch the fabulous film Home for the Holidays, starring Holly Hunter and Lilly Downey Jr. -ahem, sorry - Robert Downey Jr. It taps in, with an all-star cast boasting Geraldine Chaplain and Anne Bancroft, no less, into the compelling mix of adoration and suffocation that fill the air at family gatherings.

Every year, the holidays are a chance to gauge how things have changed in the last 365 days. I suppose we do it, even unconsciously, this measuring of sorts. My brother has sprouted facial hair and height in mass quantities, and ducks out at intervals to go see his girlfriend. I made a lot of the Christmas presents I gave my family, helped cook dinner, and baked throughout the weekend (gag gag, hello domesticity). And so on. I try to remember what the holidays were like when we were 2, 9, and 11, but I can barely recall thanks to this crap memory of mine, mostly used up on song lyrics. I used to celebrate Christmas unfailingly. String the popcorn, make the paper chain, whatever. Now I sit back and enjoy our use of a holiday celebrating a savior our religion (not that we really have one) doesn't recognize as God's son. But boy oh boy do we loot.

I was showered with gifts I probably don't deserve. I mean, was I good kid? Let's see. I quit my job. That was fun, if slightly naughty. And this brings me to another question- we have to have been good all year, right Santa? But do we need to be good from January 1 to Christmas? Is this like taxes, on the calendar year? Because if so, as I see it, we need to raise holy hell from today (Dec 26) til Dec 31st. Maybe these are freebie days? And maybe we should work quickly. I don't know what I'd do even if I was give the free reign to misbehave. Maybe I'd send George Bush a rude email. Maybe I'd blow off some red lights. Maybe I'd get a tattoo. I regret that the rebellion gene seems to have missed me.

Anyways, back to the holidays. I suppose I expect everything to be pristine and perfect. I expect the reflection of Christmas ornaments to twinkle in our eyes as we share a meal. But this isn't how holidays go. That's not what they're for, I'm realizing. I suppose I'd always expected our family to live up to this Hallmark Holiday Special standard of "perfection". And yet that doesn't apply. Question as to whether it even exists.

I suppose I don't have the right to quote Tolstoy, given that I"m only halfway thru Anna Karenina (and that was 2 years ago, when I took a break and never picked it up again. oops). "Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way." I'm not sure I agree in breaking it down into happy or unhappy, but I suppose that each family, during the holidays, pulls together in its own way. Holidays are a trial. And if you make it through, well then, you're a family. Can you live through a few days under the same roof, eating leftovers and putting presents together and watching horribly crap television together? Can you share one computer with internet access? Can you coordinate mealtimes for 5 stomachs on different time zones, much less taste buds?

Reality television, anyone?


I never can guess how that sentence will end. My recurring dreams led me to believe I'd marry the annoying (and creepy) friend on Mad About You. I had nightmares that I was arranged to be married to him; I wanted out, and my family was pushing me to just do it. Ah, such is the dreamlife of the Persian girl, I suppose. Then, as I grew up, I would have the very rare wedding dream. In it, I am in full bridal gear, but there isn't a groom. And in the dream, I know there's no groom. I guess it's just a "celebration of me" party.

Possessed as I may be with charm, wit, my mama's good looks, and a bad case of optimism, fade out the dream sequence and let's deal with some reality. I'm 27. Remember learning to estimate in elementary school? Yeah, that brings us to the big 3-0. I may *look* like I'm 16, but those are the biological facts, etched on these here uterine walls. I know I'm treading on genetic landmines. Someday, I have been told, I will wake up to a clammering biological alarm, and I will wonder what I've done with my life, why I'm not married, why I'm not surrounded by kids, etcetera etcetera. Yawn.


"backup plan", noun: Arrangement of convenience between friends, ensuring that, in the case of mutual singledom at a future point in time, they will marry and eschew a life of loneliness, chaos and/or disaster. Origin: film- My Best Friend's Wedding.

Here's what I see as the benefit of the Backup Plan. You know what you're getting into. How? Because you make this agreement with a friend you've known forever. There is little/no risk that you'll throw open his/her cd case in your marital love nest and be caught by the glare of John Tesh's "Sax by the Fireplace" ("Egads! Where is my suitcase?"). You know what they're like when they're drunk (they were probably drunk when you talked them into this scheme). You know their family (genetic map so no ugly surprises. And you can take a guess whether your inlaws will be assholes). You know what they're like at their worst, which is why they were your friend until now. You know the little things-- the things it takes 25 years of marriage to get down -- that they don't like to share their popcorn, they hate the taste of mint, and they sniff their drink before sipping. People complain that they marry people who end up being someone completely different than what they expected. Realize it or not, you've lived with your friend for years. You know the big stuff. No troubling surprises.

I say 'troubling' for a reason. The upside to marrying someone you're not mad crazy about is that your expectations are low. You're marrying for companionship, and you'll get it, just like you have for the past (fill in the blank) 3, 5, 10, 20 years. This is the Money-Back Guarantee of The Backup Plan. Whatever else you get out of the deal is purely bonus. The physical chemistry is on? Bingo! You start from the bottom and build up. You expect neutral and hope for the best. No one gets anything other than what they bargained for, which is: not to be 45 and single and being nagged at by their parents. Because, frankly, I don't know how many of us can take another 15-20 years of this.

Now, some people don't understand how you can have a backup plan when you're in a relationship. "Is that morally right?" they may ask. The official User's Guide to Backup Plans clearly states that your Backup should be "someone other than he or she whom you are dating". Let me pose the question back at you: Is it right that you attend movies alone til the ripe old age of 85? Is it right that you have no one to split chili fries at Robertos with at 2am on any given night? Is it right that you have no one to roll your eyes at when you need to 'express yourself'? Take a closer look at the Constitution, folks. Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Good Company. It's right in there. I'm not saying whether you should or you shouldn't, but let's just say -- when you're eating healthy and exercising, you still want medical insurance, right?

I have a backup plan. If nothing else, for now it signifies to me that someone else gets just how damn exhausting this whole thing is. If you don't have one yet, rest assured. My matchmaking database is filling up. Hell, I may quit my job and do this for a living. To be alone is one thing. But loneliness? I don't believe in that martyr virtue. Drop me a line and let's get this thing going.



I recognize that using legal analogies in my romantic life is a wretched slope to even begin to graze, much less slip down, but hey, it works. When you play it safe and according to the #1 rule of trial advocacy, there is no surprise, no embarassment, and you walk away with that amazing feeling that you know it all. This isn't to say that you shouldn't employ the various strategies of Discovery (to be explored in a later blog?), but that when it comes down to trial, know your shit. Oh, and wear a cute suit.


This line is most frequently violated by first-year law students eager to use their newfound knowledge-slash-vocabulary. Case in point: three students are walking down a hallway and there is a spilled drink on the floor before them. "Tort! Tort!" they cry in gleeful chorus = not funny


Ask any of the people I didn't like in elementary school, junior high, high school or college. Because they heard from me, in long-winded emails as I sat bored to tears in my Professional Responsibility class. Backed against a shitty corner (read: the corner of a lecture hall at UCLA), I found it in my heart to forgive those who annoyed, betrayed, or bored me. I connected with them. I know the intimate details of their careers, married lives, and psychoses. Now that I'm out of school, I have another problem on my hands, but hey, ends justify the means.


My grades attest to this. Heavily. Seriously, though, did I need to spend three years in a doctorate program only to find out that there *are* no clear answers and that every situation has its own application? Um, apparently. Thanks for the tuition, Dad! I have this one covered. My degree proves it.


Pretty self-explanatory, I think.