How Do I Envy Thee? Let Me Count the Ways…

Careful, dear. Your envy is showing.We’re talking envy this week. Envy is not something I have an issue with. The truth is, I am a highly evolved human being who finds envy a waste of time. I mean, envy isn’t even a worthy enough sin to make it into Dante’s circles of hell; envy lies in purgatory.

So I am not envious. But I have this blog post to write about envy. I’ve got to come up with something. Hmmm. Well, I guess if I really thought about it, I do kind of envy people who write for The New Yorker. In my house, The New Yorker has always been the pinnacle of literary success. And if I press myself a little more, there’s a tad of envy for those who have written for The New York Times. And The Atlantic. And Brain, Child. And, really, any publication I haven’t written for. I want to write for ALL the publications!

Oh, hell. What have I started? Are we really going there? I guess we are. Deep breath. Let’s go:

  • I guess I can admit that I envy that writer who got a huge advance and is therefore getting all the attention from her publishing house.
  • Oh, and I also envy that writer who got a smaller advance because she will likely earn out faster and be more likely to sell a second book to her publisher.
  • Okay, so all my running buddies might say that, perhaps, I’ve mentioned once or twice or fifteen times that I think it’s totally unfair that that mother of three always looks like she just walked out of a salon and she’s so thin you can tell she doesn’t have a problem with gummy bears.
  • Mmm, gummy bears. Well, that’s legit. I totally envy anyone eating gummy bears right now. Hold on a moment, while I see if I have any gummy bears.
  • Ugh. I just ate a bag of gummy bears. I feel sick. I definitely envy anyone who didn’t just consume an economy-sized bag of gummy bears.
  • I envy those writers who have three pages of blurbs in their books.
  • I envy writers who publish when they’re young. Heck, I envy anyone young. Not that I want to be young again. I just want my knees to not sound like popcorn popping every time I stand up.
  • I envy anyone with a two-book deal.
  • I envy those who are smart enough to know the difference between envy and jealousy and who didn’t have to look it up before writing a blog post about envy.
  • Let’s not talk about bestseller lists. I triple-dog envy (with a cherry on top) anyone who makes it onto a bestseller list. I am so envious of bestsellers that there should be a new word for it. Grandenvious. Ventevious.
  • Ventevious. Venti latte. I envy anyone who is drinking coffee right now. I envy anyone who doesn’t need a coffee right now. I truly envy anyone who doesn’t need a coffee right now but is drinking one anyway.
  • I’d say I envy my husband because he can decide that he wants to lose weight, and then a week later be down ten pounds, but the truth is, it just pisses me off.
  • When I asked my daughter who I envied, she said hopefully, “People with dogs?” Honestly, I don’t. I finished toilet training children eight years ago. I am so over cleaning up poop.
  • I envy anyone who doesn’t have to fight with his or her children over bedtime. Or Xbox. Or viola practice. Or Hebrew school. I won’t go so far as to say I envy those with child-free lives… although the thought may occasionally flit through my mind.
  • I envy writers who aren’t distracted by social media.
  • I envy writers who—sorry, lost my train of thought. Someone posted a cat video on Facebook.
  • I envy people whose hair does what they want.
  • I envy writers who manage to sit for hours a day and get solid work done.
  • I envy the sentences of so many writers. I can’t count how many times I read a great novel or memoir and think, “Why couldn’t I have written that?”
  • I envy those who say they don’t envy people… and actually mean it.

But other than that, I don’t envy anyone. I mean, why should I? Did I mention how evolved I am? Totally evolved. Totally.

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Jennifer S. Brown is the author of MODERN GIRLS (NAL/Penguin). The novel, set in 1935 in the Lower East Side of New York, is about a Russian-born Jewish mother and her American-born unmarried daughter. Each discovers that she is expecting, although the pregnancies are unplanned and unwanted, in this story about women’s roles, standards, and choices, set against the backdrop of the impending war. Learn more at www.jennifersbrown.com.

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This article has 5 Comments

  1. “In my house, The New Yorker has always been the pinnacle of literary success.”

    Walt a minute. You mean there are people who don’t think that way? 🙂

    (At our family Christmas, my cousin detailed her system for reading articles on the New Yorker website without ever reading an article that was going to be in print — she doesn’t like to open an issue of the magazine if she’s already read the articles.)

    1. Oh my gosh, Anthony, your cousin is awesome! I am always so disappointed when I read an online article and then discover it’s in that week’s print edition. I have a long, complex relationship with The New Yorker, that I hope I can blog about one of these days. (And–unbelievably–I HAVE met folks who don’t think The New Yorker is the be-all end-all! Go figure!)

  2. Before I read this post, I would have said I wasn’t an envious person. But then you had to go bring gummy bears into it, and it all snowballed from there.

    And I reeeally envy other writers who are organized/efficient enough to keep up with their blog rolls! Gaah! I miss “time.” 😉

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