The Life of the Young and Fabulous? Or, #KeepingUpAppearances?

IMG_20130518_120819“Promise me, Joe: when I get married, you’ll do my wedding.”

One of the great advantages to my job is that I have a roladex full of caterers, event photographers, and florists. When weddings happen, I’m your go-to gal for the essentials. When my turn comes, I won’t need a planner. I’ll just call a few friends and ask them to show up with their talents. Joe is a florist. A fantastic florist — the kind that takes you into Wonderland and deposits you among fanciful, gorgeous flowers.

“Of course! But don’t hurry to get married too fast. If your facebook is anything to go by, you’re pretty busy being fabulous and not married.”

It’s (mostly) true.

Artful adventures are just  another day in the life
Artful adventures are just another day in the life

If you follow my (arguably) overactive (and private) instagram account, you’d say I was living the life. Roof-top, top-shelf cocktails. Midweek museum outings. Designer dresses. Center ice playoff tickets. Legends boxes at Yankee Stadium. Michelin star restaurants. Jaunts across Europe. Exhibition openings. Beautiful men always at my side.

You said it, Macklemore: We’re here to live life like nobody’s watching.

Are we, am I, really?

Maybe it’s more like everybody in the club, all eyes on us... and that club is our ever-reaching, ever-expanding internet audience.

When I was a freshman in college, facebook was still a kind of exclusive club. High schoolers and employers had yet to infiltrate it. I was the designated photographer at parties (this was largely because I didn’t drink and was, therefore, the one most likely to be sober enough to remember to take off the lens cap) which meant that, come Sunday morning, mine was the album holding all the documentary evidence. In those days, albums could only have 50 photos — so I was selective. 50 photos came to represent an entire year, not a single night out the way it does now for some college kids. Also, facebook wasn’t linked with our smart phones… in fact, there were no smartphones… my laptop didn’t even come equipped with WiFi. There was no instantaneous sharing. Everything was a #latergram.

That was then. Fast forward a decade, and I’m a curator with an instagram handle, 2 twitter accounts, a pintrest, 3 blogs, a vine, and a facebook. My internet imprint has grown ten fold. So what does that mean?

"I knew it was you!" Thanks to social media, people think I have style.
“I knew it was you!” Thanks to social media, people think I have style.

“I knew that post was from you, even before I saw the name!” my friend living the other side of the world commented on a photo I posted.

It was of a pair of high-heel peep-toe oxfords and my recent neon pedicure.

In thinking about my addiction to all things visual, I realized my decisions on what to share is dictated by a kind of personal branding. A kind of play at keeping up appearances. I guess I want people to see a picture of great shoes, intriguing art, foreign locales, and haute cuisine and think — Kathleen’s at it again!

It’s true that I think my life is pretty interesting — the people in it, the places we go, etc — and why not share it. But it’s also true that, believe it or not, you don’t see everything. After all, sometimes I like to see the sunrise through both my eyes.

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When Ranting On Your Blog Doesn’t Turn You Into the Next Mark Zuckerberg

Blogging is dangerous business. Originally, They Told Me to Find a Rich Husband was supposed to be anonymous. For a long time, even after I had given the “About” section a named authoress and a face, googling me wouldn’t get you to my blog. Somewhere along the way, probably thanks to Facebook, that changed. Now, anyone doing background on me will find TTM2FaRH front and center on the first page of search results.

Is this a problem?

Up until today, the answer would have been “no.” There’s nothing I’ve written that I would be ashamed to have a boss or family member read. A few boys doing their pre-date due-diligence have stumbled on this page — what they uncovered had never amounted to a strike against. Quite the contrary.

And that’s largely because I had adhered to a few simple rules: never be mean, never complain.

Boys behave badly, boys break your heart, but never make your blog about them. Keep it about you. Because sometimes, you behave badly. That’s more or less been my motto.

But I broke my rules. In a moment of frustration, I riddled off and published a post I shouldn’t have. For the first time, I made it solely about them. And it was mean-spirited. Thanks to google, it was found. I was rightly put in my place.

“One cannot be always laughing at a man without now and then stumbling upon something witty” — so wrote Jane Austen in Pride & Prejudice. Stumbling upon something witty is what TTM2FaRH hopes to do. Yet in the same book, her best loved hero, Mr. Darcy confesses: “I cannot forget the follies and vices of others so soon as I ought, nor their offenses against myself…My good opinion once lost is lost forever.”

The keyboard is mightier than the sword, and used recklessly, offers the Mr. Darcy’s of the world reasons enough to loose their good opinions.

There are enough blogs out there that ridicule men — Fail Males, for example.They Told Me to Find a Rich Husband will not be one of them.

 

Things Facebook Tells Me That I’d Rather Not Hear

Facebook reminds me I was nearly 20 lbs heavier in college -- note the size of my arm in exhibit 1 on the left vs. the more recently taken exhibit 2 on the right

My Facebook newsfeed and I have a tenuous relationship. When it alerts me to a friend’s favorite story in today’s New York Times or lets me know they safely escaped the tsunamis in Hawaii, I like my newsfeed. But just as often, facebook tells me things I’d rather not hear…

1. I was 15 pounds heavier in college, and looked it.

There are only 429 photos of me on facebook, and thankfully very few from my early college days, but the ones that are there…well, forget “freshman 15,” more like “freshman kiloton.” Blame one too many sports-related injuries and one too many late-night frozen yogurt study breaks. To de-tag or not to de-tag?

2. 4 people I went to high school with are already married.

It’s not like getting married is any measure of success or that I’m still competitive with people I haven’t spoken to in 7 years or anything…

3. The guy I’m in love with is “now in a relationship”…with a girl who isn’t me.

I probably should have de-friended him when we decided to go our separate ways, but then I would have lost stalking privileges. Seeing this on my newsfeed made me throw up a little… and then sign-up for OkCupid.

4. Those twats whose papers I used to edit are in PhD programs and on fellowship.

My teenage cousin has a more active sex life than I do.

When I was an MA student, I tutored a number of underclassmen in art history and edited their grad school applications. They couldn’t tell the difference between a brick and an original idea if their lives depended on it. Their status updates announced they had been accepted into prestigious PhD programs… the same programs that rejected me. Ironic, no?

5. My teenage cousin has a more active sex life than I do.

Every month, she has a new boyfriend. Every day she posts a new album of webcam photos featuring her making out with her latest beau. Maybe if I were a better older cousin, I’d try to reign her in, teach her about modesty, but more often I feel like asking her, “so, what’s your secret?”

“The Social Network” is a Terrible Movie, but We Say we Love it Anyway

All these critics agree -- The Social Network is a landmark film. Maybe I watched the wrong movie.

News Feed: “Facebook is now in a complicated relationship with The Social Network.”

I may be the last person on the planet who, before this weekend, had not seen “The Social Network.” Now that I’ve caught up, I wish I was still the last person on the planet who hadn’t seen “The Social Network.”

My opinion of the movie has little to do with the fact that I was friends with Mark Zuckerberg in public school. We weren’t extremely close, but I knew him well enough that my mother was willing to make him the sole exception to the “No Dating Until You’re 18” rule (oh! Mothers and their power of foresight!). “The Social Network” is not a bad movie because it’s an inaccurate portrayal of one of the most enigmatic (and powerful) characters of our generation. It’s a bad movie because it’s superficial, boring, and disjointed.

Our obsession with Facebook and its creator is a complicated one that dictates the way we respond to “The Social Network.” Until recently, Zuckerberg stayed out of the spotlight. When we did see him interviewed, he was reticent, brilliant but hard to relate to. The lawsuits attacking possible underhanded dealings threatened to take Facebook from us. We knew there were a few of them, but what were they about? And yet, while there were those who tried to halt its forward march, “to Facebook” became an action we can’t live without.

We’re inclined to like “The Social Network” because as Facebook rapidly penetrated every click and every interaction, we craved a  neat summary of how this idea born in a Harvard dorm room transformed into a global phenomenon — a phenomenon that has irrevocably changed the way people connect.

In a world where getting their first determines "coolness," The Social Network is only cool because it told the facebook story first.

We live in a world where getting there first is the principal criteria for “coolness,” the leading criteria for critical acclaim. The iPod will always trump other mp3 players because it got there first. “The Social Network” will always trump future Facebook or Mark Zuckerberg movies because it was the first to tell us the Facebook story. Stephen Holden of the NYTimes calls it “a once-in-a-generation movie,” and it is, simply because the next Facebook movie is another decade in the making.

Facebook is an empowering platform that  allows us to not only communicate, but to curate our lives.  It enables us to pick and choose and update the details that shape the way we’re perceived by our peers. We have become objects in an online museum where our solo-exhibits change as frequently as we choose. Even if Facebook one day implodes, an unlikely event now that it’s so ingrained in our social and digital fabric, we will never revert to the old ways of locating, messaging, and digitally relating to people.

That’s the true Oscar-caliber performance of Mark Zuckerberg’s social network. Sorkin’s and Fincher’s snooze fest pales in comparison.

The Progress of Love? The Stages Stay the Same, It’s the Content that Gets the Update

45 minutes after meeting each other, they were off in the corner of the lounge lip-locked. A few days later, text messages inquires attempted to arrange a proper date — neither had the time and the exchanges ceased. A week passed and she awoke to a Facebook friend request, a miracle considering she never game him her last name. As she clicked “accept,” it occurred to her that they might have done things totally out of order…

Back when I was a bright-eyed student enrolled in Art History 101, I was given an assignment to write a short paper on a painting housed in New York’s Frick Collection. I settled on a series of 18th century baroque panels by the French artist Jean-Honore Fragonard entitled “The Progress of Love.” Floral-ridden and chocolate-box-esque, the 4 tableaux track love from its uncertain beginnings to a happy ending. Beginning with “The Pursuit”  the artist takes us through “The Meeting,” “The Lover Crowned,” and “Love Letters.”

It’s been a long time since I thought about these paintings, but as I compared dating notes with a few girl friends who recently acquired/deactivated boyfriends, I decided the scenes set among the frilly, baroque gardens of earthly delights needed a 21st century make over…

The Pursuit (the attempt at seduction):

She's out with her girl friends, but that doesn't stop him from making his approach.

In Fragonard’s day, when masquerade balls were probably the 18th century’s closest approximation of OkCupid, The Pursuit really only happened in the flesh. Today, technology grants us endless ways to approach (stalk?) our future lovers, but at the end of the day, we still prefer a good chase in the real world…

Much Like Fragonard’s leading lady, today’s heroine is out with her girl friends when He makes his approach. He catches her off guard — the last thing she had on her mind tonight was getting lucky. He nonchalantly slips in next to her at the bar and leads with a corny pickup line because he figures  it’ll make her laugh.  It does. The usual questions are asked and answered. He offers to buy her a refill. She accepts. There’s an occasional arm touch or shoulder tap. Her friends drag her away – they have places to go! She won’t give out her number. But shouts back her name, spelling it out for him. If you want to find me, you’ll find me, she tells him. Lucky for him, he has a good memory. He tracks her down on Facebook. A friend request. Accepted.

She’s out again with her friends, a drink down the hatch when they convince her to message him and find out what he’s doing that night. The doors are wide open. Messages fly back and forth for the next few days. He’s busy. She’s busy. He’s busy. She’s busy. Radio silence. A week passes, then finally he tries again. They agree to a proper date…

The Meeting (the moonlit assignation)

The Moonlit assignation, or the First Date

First dates don’t happen on weekends anymore. Weekends are reserved for real friends. Weekends allow you to behave out of character. Weekends have consequences.

They agree to meet on Tuesday night, after work, for drinks and dinner. She has a 9AM meeting Wednesday morning with a big client — the perfect built-in out for when things start to go rough. He’s decided she’s worth impressing and takes her some place upscale but understated. By now, they’ve both forgotten what the other person actually looks like in real life, and are surprised to find they’re attracted to each other.

He’s nervous and spills her drink. The ice is broken, literally and figuratively, and the subsequent conversation is lively. Before they know it, the maitre d’hotel is kicking them out — it’s closing time. He wants to kiss her. She’s sorry it’s a Tuesday, hugs him instead (what restraint!) and they agree to meet again.

Love Letters (the continuation of a happy union)

after the meeting comes the love letters... or love texts

In Fragonard’s series, this actually comes last — the happy couple send letters to reinforce their eternal love for one another. Today, I’m not sure how many people exchange handwritten love letters any more. However, the exchange of love notes in 2010/11 take on many forms, thanks to BBM and text messages. Fingers shoot across miniature keyboards in rapid-fire, concise exchanges. “Wanna come over?” “what r u wearing”  “;)” NC-17 camera phone images strengthen the lust, while the occasional “i miss u” or “dinner 2nite?” tug at the heart strings.

The Lover Crowned (they finally get it on)

When she was 18, her mother gave her a copy of “The Rules.” Recently, she’d been watching “Millionaire Matchmaker.” Both advocate waiting until a relationship turns monogamous before sleeping with the guy. She always felt this approach got her into more trouble than it was worth, but she’s been trying to stick with it. They’re a few weeks into things and out to dinner when he asks her if she’d like to join him at his sister’s wedding next week. Gulp!

“So..um…what’s up with us?” she asks, knowing that she’s about the meet his whole extended family. Is she “a friend” or “the girlfriend?”

The verdict? She’s the girlfriend…

They go back to his place. Clothes fly off — in the morning, there’s shirts in the kitchen, pants in the living rooms and trails of random garments hanging off the furniture. Thank goodness it’s a Sunday morning.

Finally, she gets to close the book on The Rules.

Next stop? The Swing?

Fragonard's "The Swing"... I don't think this one needs an update 😉

My Blog is Wearing a Push-Up Bra

Yesterday, “They Told Me to Find a Rich Husband” got a Facebook page and a Twitter account. That’s right, loyal readers, your favorite social networks can help keep you abreast of my latest musings on the way we love and are expected to love now.

this is what my blog looks like when it's facebooking/tweeting

I confess that I felt a little guilty as I created the “FindRichHusband” twitter account. I’ve scoffed at such forms of self-promotion in the past. But I realized that syndicating my blog through social networks is a lot like wearing a lacey black push-up bra under a white plunge-neck shirt when you go out on a Friday night. It’s not a style approach I necessarily consider “classy,” but let’s face it — a girl can’t make it in this world on her smarts and charm alone. Sometimes to catch people’s attention, she has to flash a little cleavage. Once someone has bought her a drink, her intellectual talents and penchant for witty exchanges keep him in her corner.

Facebook and Twitter are my blog’s push-up bra: they’re a sneak-peak at the full-monty. They entice you in, and then I work it to put on a good show.

At my family’s Labor Day bbq, my mother asked me what I hoped to gain by creating a facebook profile for They Told Me to Find a Rich Husband. “Aren’t you just sharing it with the people who are already reading it?” she asked. I tried to explain how “liking” something on facebook works, how News Feeds are like mini-ads, how the possibilities of expanded exposure were endless, but I don’t think I convinced her my internet lingerie was a worthwhile effort.

To her, a facebook profile for a blog is the equivalent of wearing my black push-up bra and white shirt on a night in with my brother and first cousins — a whole lot of fuss for no action.

Maybe. Yet in this wireless age where everyone is connected to somebody with real connections, no chance at being discovered should be overlooked.

Then again, maybe I should be wary of all this internet pimping. “I worry that with all this attention you’ll end up having to kill the blog too soon to get a book deal,” a friend of mine said after liking They Told Me to Find a Rich Husband on facebook. He didn’t think I’d be on the dating market for too much longer. I chuckled and calmed his concerns.

Landing a rich husband doesn’t mean the end, it opens the door for a sequel. ‘I Found a Rich Husband. Now What?’ Stay tuned for that facebook page…

In the meantime:

They Told Me to Find a Rich Husband on Facebook

FindRichHusband on Twitter.