Sunday, July 22, 2012

My 15 Minutes


i’ve been living in a state of heightened reality this past week, where colors are brighter and food tastes stronger. i can see dancing in the shadows and the moon smiling at me. stars have been giving me high-fives just by twinkling. i know it’s the electrical current that’s been running through my body since the publication of my Modern Love essay in the New York Times. it’s a mighty powerful current, one that’s thrown my head into the clouds, feet off the ground, hands in the air, wave ’em like you just don’t care.

about an hour after my essay was up, i made my way to San Diego to attend Comic Con International 2012, where i worked the GEEK booth (i copy edit the magazine), wandered the main floor taking photos, attended one panel, and went drinking every night with the GEEK squad. being at Comic Con only intensified the surreality with its costumes, crowds, noise, events and general overstimulation (more on that in a future post). i spent three days there, having a ridiculously enjoyable (yet exhausting) time, and returning home the night before my essay came out in the sunday print edition of the Times.

that morning felt like christmas — or what i imagine christmas would feel like if i weren’t a jew and actually celebrated that silly little pagan holiday. i woke up early after barely having slept, excited to unwrap the sunday paper as though it were the lego set i wanted all year. my parents took me to brunch and told the waiter about my essay. i spent the afternoon with friends celebrating my big day at a local bar and returned home to find my inbox flooded with emails from people who had read my drivel.

i’m not gonna lie, that part has felt pretty damn good. of course, i expect my friends and parents to sing my praises as readily as i would sing theirs, but having strangers reach out to congratulate me has been the icing on an already very sugary cake. the emails i’ve received have been overwhelmingly positive, with only a handful of downers in the bunch, which is expected and doesn’t at all diminish the awesomeness of this experience. they seem to fall into a few general categories:
  • the other Goldenbergs: to date, i’ve heard from about six, all of whom told me my essay had been forwarded to them by numerous people and one of whom tried to sell me an “obama watch.” (?)
  • the writers: most have been single women in their thirties, though there have been a few men as well. the emails usually offer a warm congratulations and discuss the writer’s own desire to also be published in the Modern Love column; a few have included questions.
  • the married men who agree: i’ve been most surprised (and delighted) by these. in fact, i think more married men than women have emailed me to say their spouse didn’t change her surname upon marriage and couldn’t understand why any women would. sweet!
  • the single dudes asking for a date: i’m assuming this happens to anyone who writes about love and relationships, but i’ve received a number of invitations, some subtle, some direct. none will be accepted.
i’ve also been monitoring the noise on twitter and was happy to see my essay retweeted countless times. depending on who you believe, it’s either the best modern love column ever or the worst. some people found it hilarious, others found it sad, some thought it was lame, and still more thought i sounded crazy. one of my favorite tweets from the week: “that’s a lot of thinking before a first date.”

regarding all that thinking: i’m not saying i didn’t mean every word, but i definitely played up the “crazy” to make for a punchier essay. despite the neuroses i parade for your amusement on this blog, i like to think i’m fairly down to earth in real life and i think (hope?) my friends would affirm this assessment of myself. of course, i was excited to meet my namesake and hoping for the best, but i was also well aware that things could go south and not all that terribly devastated when they did. i bounced back rather quickly, as i tend to with these things, and now think about the events from that time not at all.

my larger point, which i hope doesn’t get overshadowed by all the gratuitous crazy, is that whole name-changing thing, which i feel very strongly about — not enough to picket weddings or try to pass laws forbidding women to take their husband’s last name, but enough to write this essay and hopefully get people thinking. it’s something that’s never felt right to me and i feel beyond lucky for the opportunity to express my viewpoint on such a big stage. 

other cool things that have happened as a result of the essay:
  • i was interviewed by the Highland Park-Mount Washington Patch, which i’ve also blogged for, in an article titled Highland Park Writer Published in The New York Times
  • for a friend, i signed my first (and what will probably be my last) autograph. 
  • one of the other Goldenbergs wrote this awesome piece about our surname for My Life as a Goldenberg in Five Charts. (my parents really dug that one.)
  • i received a request to be interviewed for a project about love and relationships, which amuses me to no end as i’m hardly an expert on the matter. i know as much or as little as the next person and am really just making it up as i go along. still, i agreed to the interview as i’m a fame-hungry whore who wants to put my surname everywhere.
sadly, the one email i most hoped to receive, the one offering me a book deal, never came. i guess that means i’ll have to keep writing to keep my good name out there, which i intend to do. as always, thanks for reading. please don’t ever stop.


Alisha said...

Just read the story! Congratulations! I read Modern Love every week (on Sundays) and I long to have a story published in the column (I've already received a rejection). It's an awesome accomplishment.

Milla said...

thanks, Alisha!

Anonymous said...

You should write up a rejection letter and sign it "I was Published in the NYT, Were You?"

Anonymous said...

and then send it to all the naysayers.....

Milla said...

i'm going to sign my reply emails to the naysayers with "sincerely, the person who was published in the NYT (note: not you)" said...

I'm old fashioned. I still think I'd insist a woman took my name. You know, CAUSE I'M A MAN!

Sincerly, Brian Supermachobatmantype.

Milla said...

if my future husband's last name were Batman, i would consider hyphenating.

Unknown said...

Keep up the good writing and that book deal will come! I loved your article because I felt it painted a true snapshot of the female mind in dating mode (at least mine) when we think, hope, pray that we having finally found the "one". It's an article that many, many of us can relate to.


Corey said...

I'm still giggling over Milla Goldenberg-Batman... Yeaay you-- I think you're going to get at least 16 next time. :)

Anonymous said...

I hope you didn't reject these guys because they asked you out, or because you don't like the idea of NYT column being a personal ad. If he's employed, single, and not an addict, why not?