Thursday, October 23, 2014

What NOT to do when your friend is divorcing

I've been divorced now for almost four years.  And in that time, I went from feeling like a pariah to one of many good, normal people who experience this personal life-changer.  I've seen more and more of my friends go through this awful thing, and seeing their so-called friends (and even family) make them feel worse is infuriating to me.  But then I realized, maybe people just don't know how to react when someone is going through this.  It's AWKWARD.

So your friend's getting divorced... and you don't know what to do?  AWKWARD.

So I decided to post a few tips here on how NOT to act when your friend's getting a divorce... and a few things you ought to do.
  • DON'T assume fault or salacious storylines.  There are three sides to every divorce: his, hers, and the truth.  (Note: I'm for marriage equality, so feel free to substitute pronouns.)  The reality is, divorces don't always happen because someone cheated, someone was abusive, etc.  They happen for the same reason that any other breakup happens... it's just that there's a legal contract, social construct, and more that makes it that much worse.

  • DON'T feel entitled to the details.  When I got divorced, acquaintances on Facebook (as in, people I haven't talked to in forever) sent me messages to ask why my relationship status changed, or why my name changed.  Um, seriously?  If you're just a casual observer of someone's life on social media (as in, the most interaction you have is "liking" their photos or saying Happy Birthday once a year), you are NOT entitled to know the details of your so-called friend's divorce.  And even if you are a good friend, realize that you will never know everything that happened, and that's okay.  It's your job to be a friend, not soak up all the juicy gossip.  She'll tell you what she wants you to know, when she's ready.
  • DON'T act like it's contagious.  Divorce is not a literal plague.  So if you're married, don't cut your friend off because you're scared her reality could become yours.  Seriously, there are people who cut out divorced friends because it casts a new light on their own imperfect relationship.  The only one who can break your marriage is you and your spouse..  You don't have to feel weird inviting her to things you'd normally invite her to, because she's the SAME PERSON.  No need to be afraid, or wear a HAZMAT suit.
It's not ebola, people.
  • DON'T disparage her ex.  Well, not too much anyways.  Commiserate with her, but don't blast her ex to the point that she would never see you in the same light if they reconcile.  It's been known to happen.  Also, she'll wonder why the heck you never said anything about how much you hated him before they married!  It's fun to jump on the hater bandwagon, but she's the only one who is allowed talk *real* trash about him.
  • DON'T judge when she starts dating again, no matter how soon.  A divorce is not a death.  There is no required mourning period.  I learned from divorcing, and witnessing my friends' divorces, that whether you wait a year or a month to start dating again, it's going to be "too soon" in someone's (irrelevant) opinion.  Guess what?  Everyone is different... and while she may only be divorced a month, she probably hasn't felt like she's been in a healthy relationship for even longer.  You don't get to judge.  Also, don't set her up (especially with your husband's last, weird single friend) unless she asks you to...  she's not desperate, she's just divorced.
THIS is what your last single friend looks like to me.  Don't set me up.

I know I've listed a lot of things that you shouldn't do when your friend is divorcing... but there are also things you SHOULD do.  Or at least, these are things that I appreciated and try to do for my own friends.
  • DO... date your friend.  You know how when you're part of a couple, you look forward to Valentine's Day, birthdays, etc. celebrations with your loved one?  Suddenly, your friend no longer has that significant other around to take care of those things anymore.  So make an effort to make her smile, and "date" your friend.  Go to dinner, a movie, to a winery, send flowers, thoughtful things like that...  In many cases, your friendship predates your own marriage or relationship.  She deserves a little love from you.
It's time for sisterhood and friendship!
  • DO... realize that this is about HER, and not about YOU.  If you're worried about awkwardness around your friend, seeing her ex in public, people associating you with her divorce, and other stupid things, guess what?  She feels 1000x worse than you!  You do NOT get to be more upset than she is!  Period!  Don't make this your own drama.
  • DO... recognize that this is devastating for her, and she may not be herself for awhile.  Forgive her (within reason) for being a bad friend for a while.  Don't get offended when she doesn't "like" all your happy Facebook posts.  She'll come around, but it takes time.  In my opinion, divorce feels like an amputation: a part of you that you thought you'd always have is suddenly gone, and there's a lot of pain and even phantom limb sensations about it.  It's awful... but you get used to the loss after a while.
I know this isn't perfect advice.  And I'm not always the best at these things either.  But I wouldn't wish a divorce on my worst enemy, let alone a friend.  So try to be a friend to your friend... this too shall pass!


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Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Union Common

Union Common, located in Midtown, was not on my radar whatsoever... and they've been open for two months!  My friends MM and MC met up with me for dinner, but when we got to Sinema (sans reservation) we were told the wait was 3.5 hours.  Seriously!  I'm sure I'll try Sinema another time, but it kind of stinks that they save *zero* flex tables for walk-ins; I like restaurants to have a friendly mix.

We called Union Common, and they set a reservation for us in 30 minutes, perfect time to get to midtown from where we were.  We valeted my car at the restaurant and walked into the space.  It had a real art deco vibe to me, from the decor to the menus.  It wasn't jam-packed with people, which surprised us at first, so we didn't know what to expect.

My friends ordered cocktails (which were good, but had a bit too much ice!) and we perused the menu.  There are LOTS of shareables on the menu, which was great for our foodie crew.  MM and MC are more adventurous than I am, so it made for a really great experience for this junior foodie!  We decided to order a few small plates to start.

First up was one of my favorites of the whole meal, the Crispy Duck.  The duck was nestled on polenta and parmesan with some delicious cornbread crackling.  I really, really enjoyed this dish.  There was lots of crunch and flavor.  We scraped the dish clean!

Crispy Duck

The other starter dish we indulged in was Roasted Bone Marrow.  It had a pickled garnish on top and was served with mustard and toast.  They gave us tiny spoons that were very helpful in scooping the marrow out of the bone.  It was excellent!  Bone marrow might sound bizarre, but if you're a meat-lover, this is just a truly awesome thing to try.

Roasted Bone Marrow

For our main dish, we ordered the smaller Dry-Aged Ribeye, which is supposedly aged 50 days.  We had it medium-rare, and they served it for us as medallions so we could share more easily.  It was very good.  In fact, my MM said that the meal was better than Kayne Prime, a Nashville steakhouse I've got on my wishlist.

Dry-Aged Ribeye & Brussels Sprouts

For our sides, we ordered the Lamb Sausage and Brussels Sprouts.  I do not like lamb, but I did try the asparagus.  Not bad!  The Brussels Sprouts were great.  It seems everyone in Nashville is doing their take on Brussels Sprouts (it's the new fried pickles, I suppose), and this one had pork belly (!), parmesan, pine nuts, and sorghum.  Sorghum is another thing I'm seeing all over Nashville menus.  It's the new molasses, or something.

Lamb Sausage

On impulse, we also ordered ANOTHER small plate:  Nashville Hot Sweetbreads.  They came fried, like popcorn chicken, with a great buttermilk dressing.  Yup, I tasted some offal!  And honestly, this batch tasted like Buffalo chicken fried sweetbreads, in a really great way.  MC told me the texture was still similar to other sweetbreads she'd had, so I felt particularly proud to try it.

Nashville Hot Sweetbread

While my friends are savory fans, I saved some room for something sweet.  I chose the Banana Foster Bread Pudding, because I am on a bread pudding ROLL lately.  It was served with a bourbon whiskey ice cream, which was a great complement to the dish.  Everyone tried some!

Banana Foster Bread Pudding

Overall, I've got to say that Union Common really hits the nail on the head for excellent food and tons of menu options.  Our table of three had four cocktails, an entree, five small plates, and a dessert, and the check split was around $65 each before tip.  Excellent, right?  The small plates range in price around $6-15, and the entrees are on the higher end.  There are some very high-price steak options too, but we loved the variety we got by sharing.

I sincerely hope I get a chance to come back, as the waitstaff was great to boot!  They need an extra valet or two (especially on a Friday night, people!) but I'm glad the service is available.  You need to try this place!

Union Common on Urbanspoon

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