Welcome Guest Author Julie Buxbaum

Today we’re happy to have debut author Julie Buxbaum as our guest at the Debutante Ball. Julie Buxbaum is the author of the recently released novel, THE OPPOSITE OF LOVE, which is a Book Sense Pick and a Barnes and Noble Discover Great New Writers Pick. Julie is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and Harvard Law School. Though originally from New York, she currently lives in Los Angeles. julie-buxbaum.jpg

When I first heard that the topic this week at The Ball was going to be First Loves, I figured I’d dodge—maybe talk about how I turned my first love, books, into a career, or maybe I’d go more kitschy and gush about my other first love, Converse sneakers, which still grace my feet on a daily basis two decades after I first discovered them. But the truth is whenever anyone mentions First Loves, my mind goes straight to romantic love, and I blush and splotch, my telltale giveaways of embarrassment. But perhaps it’s time to come out of the proverbial closet, and stop with this silly shyness about my past. I’m ready to come clean, to tell the world the truth: I married my First Love.
Now that in and of itself is not embarrassing, and in fact, to some, may seem romantic. Two people meet, have a connection, break up, years go by where they fall in and out of love with other people, and then one day they pass on the street, recognize something in each other, and eventually, after a series of semi-comic mishaps, they reunite to live happily ever after. Great movie, maybe, but that’s not what happened with my husband and I. Nope, I met him at twenty three, and I married him at thirty, and if things go according to plan, my First Love will be my Only Love, which to be honest with you, is where things get a little embarrassing.
The truth is I have always felt as if I should have lived a little more. My now-husband was supposed to be the One-before-the-One, the “real” relationship practice I had somehow missed out on in college. Sure, I dated a bit, had an absurd number of crushes, and there were a couple of boyfriends along the way, but none I ever said those important and eternal three words to, and none who I think would qualify as a First Love. So, at twenty-three, I talked to this charming guy with a British accent on a park bench, and then less than five minutes later told my best friend, “You never know who you are going to meet that’s going to change your life.”

But I didn’t mean he’d change my life. He wasn’t supposed to. He was mere metaphor for the unlimited potential of the romantic universe. He was the hope, not the thing. No, we were supposed to fall head-over-heels, and then just as quickly fall back out, heels-over-head, and he’d be my introductory lesson, a First Loves 101, for the real thing. To bring this full circle, back to my other F.L., I had always thought love was a lot like reading; you don’t start with the tough books, the favorites that you will treasure, at least in part because of their difficulty; instead you start with Dr. Seuss and work your way up. (I was going to mention Converse here too—the progression from low tops to high tops—but I realize I’m pushing the analogies a little hard.)

I figured love required practice, and I am not so sure I was wrong. It does require practice, and maybe that’s why it took my husband and I almost seven years to tie the knot. We did end up practicing—that unique form of commitment, of partnership, of compromise—on each other, for each other. Funny to think back to my late teens, and remember how I imagined my twenties would play out: there would be a series of passionate love affairs, hearts broken and mended; maybe I’d fall for one of my handsome professors, someone older and wiser who could teach me the ways of love. Maybe I’d run away to an ashram to escape my devastation when it ended.

Now that I’ve entered my thirties, now that I’m enjoying the stability of being in a long-term loving partnership, I wonder why I’ve felt such insecurity over my lack of romantic entanglements. Is it because as a writer, I feel like I should have had my heart stomped on a little bit more? Perhaps felt a sneaker tread right to the middle of my chest so I’d better be able to capture the feeling on the page? Is it because the teenage version of myself was so wrong about my character? Drama for the sake of drama turned out to never be my thing. I’m honestly not sure. But as I sit here typing this on my laptop, my First Loves are all still here with me; Today, I am wearing black low top Converse sneakers, have a book in my bag, and a ring from my First and Only Love on my finger. And I wouldn’t trade any of it for all of the handsome professors in the world.

14 Replies to “Welcome Guest Author Julie Buxbaum”

  1. Welcome, Julie. It sounds like you dispensed with the trying out part of finding love and hit the jackpot on the first go. Good on you – and as a person who tried out a few duds along the way, let me tell you, you really didn’t miss much.

    I just checked out your book on Amazon and it looks like a great read. Thanks for visiting.

  2. As a very active frog-kisser in my day, I agree totally with HRH. Lucky you! thanks for coming by today, Julie! I know you’re in London today so your comments may come at a different time of the day, but thanks for being here!

  3. Julie, we’re so happy to have you guest-blogging with us! I just loved this post…and you seem perfectly capable of capturing the feeling of romantic angst on the page, even without the real-life sneaker treadmarks!

    (Hope you’re enjoying London!!!)

  4. Welcome, Julie! I love the image you left us with–you in your converse, with your book and the ring from your husband. I think it’s wonderful that you found each other this way and that it still makes you blush.

    The book looks fantastic. How’s your launch going? We love to hear details!


  5. What’s true, Julie, is that you didn’t miss out on anything by choosing all of your three First Loves wisely, then remaining loyal and loving to them. Of course now it seems I better understand Emily and the angst you put her through in TOOL. Such a stunning debut, your writing and insight combined to create magic. I LOVED it. Bravo!

  6. Thanks so much everyone! And thanks Larramie and JoAnn–I am so glad you enjoyed THE OPPOSITE OF LOVE. I am currently in London, and have been delayed not only by the time difference, and the snow (yes, it is April and snowing in London!), and the kind of head cold that makes you feel like a fifty ton man is dancing on your sinuses, but major internet issues. Major internet issues, means in other words, a complete and total connection failure. So I apologize for taking so long to respond and for being a day late on my Debutante Ball debut!

    As for frog kissing, I don’t know. I guess heart ache for the sake of heart ache is never a good thing. But as a writer, I think having a pile of life stories to draw from is more than a little bit helpful. And on the romance front, I don’t have all that much. Fortunately for me, and maybe not so fortunate for them, I do have many a friend who has been put through the ringer, and has been kind enough to share their experiences with me. So maybe vicarious heart break is the way to go? What do you guys think?

  7. Danielle and Eileen, thanks so much for asking about the launch. So far so good. THE OPPOSITE OF LOVE was released in the US at the very end of January, so I am sort of in the home stretch at the moment. Trying to keep up momentum even though a new slew of great books has come out since. I kind of feel like a kid in the back of the classroom who keeps raising his hand–pick me, pick me, pick me. Please, pay attention to me! Come on, don’t forget about me!

    But it has all been really exciting. I am currently here in London–did I mention it’s snowing? let me say it again, it is freaking snowing in late April!–for the UK launch which is happening on Monday, April 7. In other words, TOMORROW! My husband’s family lives here (as does my husband at the moment, which come to think of it would make another great blog post one day: the trials and tribulations of a ridiculously long distance marriage), so I’m looking forward to taking them to a Waterstone’s tomorrow and showing them that I haven’t made it all up: that there is actually a book with my name on it in a bookstore. For all of the time spent trying to garner publicity, what I call the Bookstore Thrill has not gone away.

    Please let me know if I haven’t answered your questions about the launch. If you are more interested in some of the mechanics please let me know. Now that my internet is up and running (after quite a few hours on the phone with the British ISP, who was quite charming with his accent, I must say) I would love to keep this conversation going.

  8. Thanks for your thorough answers, Julie. I can just picture you over there in England, launching your book in the snow.

    Did you freak out right before your launch? I mean, of course you freaked out, but did you FREAK OUT? I’m hoping I can stay ZEN about it, but who am I kidding?!

    So happy to hear the thrill hasn’t worn off. Happy UK launch!

  9. I wish I could say I stayed all zen about it, and remained calm. But the truth is, I totally FREAKED OUT before the book came out. And it was a freak out worthy of capital letters. I am not sure exactly what I was freaking out about, I couldn’t even name my biggest fear, but yeah, I was totally and completely consumed by the fact that THE OPPOSITE OF LOVE would soon be out there in the world for people to buy (Ahhh! Scary) or not buy (Ahhh! Even scarier!) I have since calmed down–it took a while to realize that there was only so much in my control (actually, very, very little in my control), and that I just had to let the book stand on its own. I would like to say now, about two months after the fact, I have reached a place of zen, but I am not quite there yet. I still get all wrapped up in whether I am doing enough to support the book (I usually feel like the answer to that one is no, but it is never clear what I should be doing, and that’s part of what’s scary about having a book out) or, the flip side, whether I am focusing enough on my second novel. I wonder if this is what parenthood is like–a constant guilt about whether you are doing enough for your kids, whether you are giving too much attention to one at the expense of the other.

    By the way, still snowing!

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