Discover more from Rolling in D🤦🏻♀️h with Jenny Blake
Fearing the Other Shoe, Part One
Today's Forecast: Blue skies and cool breeze, potential shoe squall forming overhead
✍️ Sunday, June 11 at 11:30 a.m.
“Strawberries chutney,” Michael says with a proud smile.
He presents a small white plate topped with a stack of pancakes drizzled in maple syrup, sliced bananas, and a square of butter on top, with a homemade blended red chutney sauce sitting on the edge in a small teacup.
The signature chaos on the kitchen counter mirrors how much attention to detail went into today’s breakfast.
It is late on a Sunday morning, the Sunday after getting The News. This moment—this plate—reminds me how much love we have. It is a love that fuels everything.
Later that day, I capture a note to myself while sitting with Ryder in the grass, undisturbed by strangers staring for too long, alarming noises, or off-leash dogs sprinting toward us.
“Park with Ryder is as blissful as ever,” I wrote. “For some reason, I feel like things are going to be okay.”
✍️ Thursday, June 29 at 7:15 a.m.
I woke up feeling happy today. Calm, content.
What is this strange feeling and how did it get here?
I came downstairs at 5:30 a.m.
While keeping the kitchen dark, I flicked on the Moccamaster that I set up last night as a small gift to my future self, and started the latest episode of And Just Like That (heretofore AJLT) to cringe-watch with my morning coffee.
The writers are butchering the characters I grew up adoring, but I still can’t look away. I’ll savor even these minuscule morsels of wit and joy.
In the second episode of the second season of this AJLT spinoff series, Carrie records her audiobook, a process I am now familiar with. She just shuttered her podcast, even though it would’ve been the perfect voiceover-is-back conceit!
In a much-critiqued storyline (thank you Reddit for helping put words to this bizarre series of events), she:
Refuses to read an ad for a product that ties directly into her three-decades-long column;
Struggles to re-write 60 seconds of ad copy for said suppository until late into the night, despite the fact that she made a living as a writer;
Allows the entire podcast company to collapse due to this refusal, despite the fact that she’s enormously wealthy now and could fund her show in its entirety, and
Expresses no remorse (or emotion whatsoever) in the bizarrely cheerful scene in the lobby where she just lost her job and breaks up with her friend-with-benefits-producer. And just like that, Carrie narrates, “I freed up an entire week.”
It is odd how someone (albeit fictional) who has so much could be written in such a shallow way as to so cavalierly throw it all away. We—the collective of Carrie Bradshaw stans—have worked too hard for this!1 We have
lived vicariously watched for 25+ years (!) . . . for this?!
Writing and living in New York City were my wildest dreams, and they were planted on my first visit at nine years old, then set like sidewalk cement when Sex and The City debuted while I was in high school.
I remember watching the first two seasons on DVD in my wealthy friend’s basement. We knew her dad did something fancy, but didn’t bother to dig for details at the time. Turns out he worked in venture capital, making gajillions from investing in internet companies like Google at their inception.
She had a whole movie theater set up, with plush leather chairs that eight of us would sink into in riveted silence. There was something subversive about watching these 30-somethings navigate New York City and their dating disasters even while we were half their age, still too young to understand most of the storylines.
A few years later, while I was still painfully inept at romantic relationships, my college friends and I would pack like sardines from wall to wall into the sorority house living room on Sunday nights to watch the final season. We held our breath as Carrie flew to Paris, buried herself in couture on the bed, stepped in dog shit, stumbled on hotel stairs, lost and found her namesake necklace, and flicked open her bedazzled flip phone to reveal Big’s name.
The four best friends and their romantic troubles, Carrie’s weekly column, the punny voiceover and thematic storylines, the way dating became a humorous punchline (instead of the depressing mystery it was in my actual life), the book launch party and restaurant openings, the many cocktails and brunches with friends—it was all a beacon for me, as it was for so many women my age craving an alternate path to
patriarchy propaganda saccharine RomComs and Disney storylines with all their endings tied in neat coupledom bows.
I held no illusions about marriage growing up, so that was never an aspiration. Marriage mostly seemed like a bad business deal, trapping people in lives rife with fighting and misery.
When I did envision a wedding (which was rarely), it always included the crone from Princess Bride ruining it as she protested “Booo! Booooo!” After getting married, it was shocking to me how fun it could actually be, but that’s a story for another day.
Manhattan, on the other hand, beckoned like a searchlight, following me up and down the state of California between jobs and school.
Despite SATC failing the Bechdel test in just about every scene of every episode—and while acknowledging critiques through the lens of today’s political considerations twenty-five years post-facto—these women exuded exhilarating independence. Career success mixed with friends-as-family, fabulous clothes, and a bustling city: Where do I sign up?
At last, in 2011, after leaving my job, I finally mustered the courage to try to make it on my own. Together with my friend Julie, we navigated the logistics labyrinth and landed a two-bedroom Nolita apartment, twelve years ago this week.2
This last decade-plus has been a dream, in spite of any and all challenges along the way. The very first morning I stepped out of our apartment, I knew I was finally home.
Sometimes when I feel as happy and calm as I do today, for no “good” reason, I look up to the sky, wondering where the other shoe (stiletto?) is—the one that will drop at any moment to send my anxiety spiking again.
Today I got my inbox below 25 (a miracle), wrote ad copy for a Free Time podcast sponsorship, edited Substack essays, replied to Voxer coaching clients, played with Ryder outside, and watched a show with Michael before heading to bed.
I looked over the Wells Fargo statement that arrived in today’s mail, the money for July’s mortgage sitting in savings ready to be auto-debited (another miracle), and crunched some numbers as a pep talk to myself.
I have paid my Manhattan housing bills on time for 141 consecutive months, all while self-employed. I know I can figure out the next four, six, twelve.
If you, too, are a decades-long stan(ette), check out Jennifer Armstrong’s Sex and the City and Us: How Four Single Women Changed the Way We Think, Live, and Love.
If you can get past the smugness of Michael Patrick King—aka “daddy MPK” as the ladies of Every Outfit call him—you will also enjoy the multi-part Origins podcast series hosted by James Andrew Miller, starting with Episode 1: Tutu’s, Tete-a-Tetes, and Taxis. And just so you have them handy, here’s Ep2: Brighter Lights, Bigger City, and Ep3: 1, 2, and Out.
This jewel box of an apartment—in a prime downtown location on a quiet tree-lined street—was entirely thanks to, whose new full-time job at the time pleased the rental office and satisfied security deposit requirements. And huge congrats to Julie who embarks on the next phase of her Yellow Brick Road this month after eight years in her previous job! 🌈 👠👠