It's Just Like Riding a Bike

I’m just back from a 7 day cycling trip in Tuscany, without the kids. It’s not an overstatement to say this situation was epic.   

The trip, “Tuscany by the Sea,” was organized by Back Roads, a cycling/travel company, and took us from Rome to Montalcino to Castaliglione della Pescaia and Ortebello, to Monte Argentario (among other spots) and back to Rome, and was incredible. The rolling hills, the sea views, the churches, the old men sitting on a benches in every town square, the pasta, the Brunello, the espresso, the wonderful guides who told us what to do (my favorite part – being told what to do) – it was such a joy to use my body, to enjoy my family, and mentally put aside all the brutality of recent events. Especially the past few weeks, watching the Kavanaugh heinousness like it was my job, and teetering on the edge of feeling like the result would produce a moment of redemption or healing for all women. But. Of course, we know how that went and honestly, the hits just keep coming and show no sign of stopping. I know that being able to escape the madness of the current political climate for a week was a total luxury, and to do it in ITALY OMG, but man, did it feel good to have a break. I totally unclenched. 

mallory kasdan

Leading up to the trip, I had been training on a Peloton indoor bike, which my apartment building purchased back in January. I had never been one for indoor spinning in a gym – the few times I tried Soul Cycle I didn’t really get it, I was self conscious, it was too hard for me, or the instructors made me do a little too much woo-hooing for my taste. My sisters both got Pelotons last year, and particularly Lanie, the middle sister, became a spinning animal.  She talked about it all the time, she loved all the metrics, which wasn’t surprising given her type A tendencies. She rides every day, and eventually, I got on the one in my building’s basement, and just freaking went for it.

So it was likely some sisterly competition that got me into this unique home biking business, but I’m so glad it did! Peloton has re-introduced me to endorphins, to pushing myself cardiovascular-ly, and I’m seeing fitness results with efficiency and crazy convenience. Though I have a very strong yoga practice, I had been needing something to kick my butt a little, as I get older. Riding alone in my basement to fit and funny instructors live or on demand in a Manhattan studio, oddly, was something I hadn’t known I needed.

cycling mallory kasdan.jpg

The world can be so hard for all of us, and if you have the strength and good fortune to be able to exercise, then you are lucky as hell. I felt so happy being able to rock up those Tuscan hills on a real bike this past week, alongside my sisters, my husband, and my dad, and I’m grateful for all the miles I put in ahead of time to prepare.       


Cycling is a metaphor, and on this trip I found myself looking through it as a lens for relationships, like my marriage. Evan and I celebrated our 14th wedding anniversary last week on one of these rides and slipped away from the group for a seaside lunch for two. Cycling has long been Evan’s passion, and on this trip we got to enjoy it together. It’s hard not to be so literal on the hills, valleys, difficulties of the climbs and euphoria of the vistas, in thinking about our life together and the joys and struggles we experience in the moment, and over the long haul. Again, I feel lucky to be able to make these connections.

peloton series MILK podcast

In that spirit, check out the MILK Podcast/Peloton mini series I recorded with the lovely Peloton instructor MILKs, Jenn Sherman and Christine D’Ercole.

peloton milk podcast mallory kasdan

Riding with them at home has been a fascinating experience, and getting to know them personally in these interviews just highlighted their talent and deep motivational vibes. They are both super inspiring, and I think the episodes are terrific. Jenn and Christine are wonderful women who motivate and lift up others, and getting to meet and interview them, especially just before this trip, has been a wonderfully bright light.

cycling mallory kasdan

And by the way, the day after we returned from Rome, I was right back in it, planning, food shopping, taking the younger to a car racing birthday party and managing a tween temper tantrum over packing her own lunch. So these wonderful experiences, they are over before we know it, and we’re back at the bottom of the hill, working our way up. I feel lucky for all of it.


He always makes the coffee.

He once took the kids to Chuck E Cheese for a 10 am birthday party, hungover.

He fixes my computer, mixes my podcast, and backs up my data.

He goes food shopping, makes stew on a Sunday afternoon, and then cleans the kitchen. 

He still tells me stories from cab driving days.

He never makes a big deal about IKEA on a weekend or driving someone to the airport.

2004 photos by Philippe Cheng

2004 photos by Philippe Cheng

He laughs at my jokes and calls me out on my annoying.

He fights with strangers on Twitter about politics.

He learned to snowboard at age 40.

He loves the movie “Roadhouse.”

He has excellent hair. 

He is always up for family cuddle.

He deals with AAA when the kids leave the dome light on and the car battery dies.

He leads the Seder.

He’ll probably help you move.

He has more than one clear plastic bin of cables and cords.

He could use a few more pairs of dress pants

He’s generally chill, but don’t mess with his family.

He’s my guy.

anniversary university

Today is the day Evan and I married 8 years ago. It was dazzling and exhilarating and lives on as the most glamorous and narcissistic thing we’re likely to do. I’ve never looked glossier or been bossier. Champagne flowed. Evan wrote me a song. There was klezmer, funk and filet. I’ll never forget how breathless I felt gazing out from under the chuppah over our sea of peeps and knowing it was all downhill from there.

Anniversaries of wedding days are weird, because as the years stretch on the two events have so little to do with each other. Marinating in the memories of your wedding is like re-watching a well produced movie version of your life, where things are honed and planned and people paid to cater and flower. While celebrating another year wed is like is bingeing on a reality show shot with an iphone — sloppy, inconsistent, hilarious, cozy and tedious. With poor editing.

I’m just happy to be here, honestly. I feel blessed that we’ve made it this far. There’s so much heartbreak and difficulty just trying to be in the world and be a good person and just staying LUCKY that I can’t believe I have someone to not talk to while watching Friday Night Lights.

And I do treasure being married. It usually means there’s one person to do the stuff you don’t want to do, until you realize neither of you is actually going to fix the garbage disposal or clean the drain and that just sucks. I’m actually shocked that there is a man in New York who puts up with my terrible driving and temper and hasn’t left me for a younger model.

Every story of a marriage you thought was ok failing is definitely a reality check, like a kick in the stomach. The Amy Poehlers and Will Arnetts, Danny Devitos and Rhea Perlmans and every couple everywhere who can’t take one more day of each other. Not the end of the world of course, but dispiriting none the less. But what to do? You gulp, self examine, and then make dinner. What is the alternative?

I guess marriage is a mash-up of many possible high school extracurricular activities: debate team, musical theater, long distance running club, and detention. So of course sometimes, with all those things to keep up with and attend to, all you really want to do is hang out by the smokestack and cut class.

fun on a stick

Nothing says sexy like a man and wife holding black leather satchels and twin Muji umbrellas, walking into a Toyota dealer to test drive a Prius wagon.

It’s like the opening to an urban legend told round the fireplace where the couple gets kidnapped, or the beginning of an embarrassing joke your uncle tells at Passover – just add a rabbi and some lightbulbs.

But for me and Evan, it was Thursday.

11th Avenue in Manhattan, roughly between 48th Street and 55th Streets is a bizarre corridor, where a slew of car dealerships occupy giant showrooms within walking distance. There’s also Larry Flynt’s Hustler club, some gross delis, and the studio where “The Daily Show” is taped. It’s a creepy and random area, especially on the dreariest, Marchiest day fathomable. But a good place to go look at cars if yours dies, mostly because you can take the subway there. Also, if you hang out on 11th Avenue long enough it feels like you are on drugs.

Oh, the fun we had, strolling in and out of dealers, waiting interminably while car salesmen said indecipherable things to us, then driving up the Westside Highway and back down West End Avenue in several vehicles. It took 7 hours. We ate no meals. We drank coffee and ate almonds and bananas instead, not wanting to pause in this disorienting experience of entering a building, talking to a guy, then waiting and driving and waiting and peeing and waiting. It felt like we were running a marathon of boringness. We talked to guys named Joey. We talked to guys named Darnell. We talked to guys named Chang. We admired waterfalls in the Range Rover area. We watched salesmen circle the floor like lions, and receptionist ladies with clickety-clackety nails flutter behind counters. We saw fake plants, fake marble, and real fish tanks. Our sinuses experienced new heights of air freshening.

At one point we walked into Nissan to compare a Murano to a Rogue, and a Scenario to a Sierra, or perhaps it was a CZX 65 to a ZW 3.14. A very shifty Latina man with the loudest “rhumba” ring tone I’ve ever heard hustled us over to a “pre-owned” version of the car we were looking for, and then promptly trotted off. As we sat in the smoke encrusted car from 2009 wondering where the hell he had gone, he reappeared with a signed head shot of Liza Minelli from 1990. “That car belonged to her assistant!” he exclaimed triumphantly. “She used to do errands for her in that car. Only 300 miles on there!” We tried to imagine what would make him think that Liza Minelli’s dry cleaning would interest us. We wondered if he had different head shots for different people – and did we look like Liza fans?

And then we decided it best to go.

There was Johnny, the spiky haired knuckle dragger with the spray tan and giant diamond earring at Chevy/Jeep/Chrysler. He wove us through the most enormous lot filled with cars being parked and repaired, and then couldn’t find that damn Chevy Equinox. He swore it was just there! It was like his white whale SUV. After almost getting hit by a minivan (never!), we thought it best to go.

When you get married, it’s the best you’ll ever look — all fancy and fabulous and glamorous and fun party party. But so much of being married is doing really boring adult shit in ugly and depressing places. Signing forms and figuring out numbers and making sure the dishwasher gets unloaded. And I think, I hope, if you’re still laughing and trying to figure out how to recover conversationally when a 22 year old sales guy is sitting in the backseat while you are trying to merge, tells you that he flipped his own SUV at 5 am after drinking and falling asleep at the wheel, well, I think you’re good. You’re still having some kind of an adventure, finding the funny in the terribly dull and weird. As mind numbing an adventure it is – you’re in it together. And it’s strangely awesome.

So, technically, you’re a boring yuppie with your stupid raincoats.

But still totally sexy.


I’ve been struggling with why I care about the whole Kim Kardashian wedding/divorce situation. I’ve never seen her show, and have desperately tried to avoid knowing about this glittery lady and her glossy lips. Some facts have seeped in, of course. I know she made a porn tape, has a gaggle of sisters, and a super fantastic publicist. But when I read unavoidably about the money spent on her recent wedding and the family’s endorsements being timed to hit right when her E! Spectacular was airing, and then her announcement to divorce three weeks later, I felt all self righteous, ranting about Republicans and all my gay friends who have been unable to marry, and the hypocrisy of celebrities marrying and divorcing with less care than they put into their photo ops coming out of Starbucks. Its not like I’m unaware of PR and what celebrities are willing to do for it, and the hollowness of this culture that gives these idiots a platform. So why did this particular incident push me over the edge into cranky Andy Rooney (RIP) territory?

I got married seven years ago in October. I imagine it was something like producing a Broadway show, complete with drama from the Producers (my parents), strong opinions from the talent (mostly me), and all the various folks that take part in a production of that magnitude (hair and makeup, dresses, tuxes, catering, Pilates instructors, media coverage). My husband and I laugh that we will never look or feel more like B or C level celebrities starring in our own reality show.

Seven years and two kids later, daily life is a long way from lighting design and calligraphy, and more like a life insurance ad set in our cluttered home on a weekday morning at 7:30 am. It strikes me as odd, and almost embarrassing that we made such a spectacle of our wedding day. Because now I realize how little the wedding experience mirrors the actuality of being married! It’s every day after the wedding that your union really needs the love and the high fives for making it through each day, each year.

The day of your wedding, you have no idea how much your partner might annoy you when he natters on about his iPhone, or how much you’ll annoy him by wanting to gossip about the parents at the school fundraiser. After the wedding, when your best friends (and random people you had to invite) are flying home, the champagne bottles piled in the recycling bin and “Play That Funky Music White Boy” echoing in your head, its down to dealing with your spouse’s habits, the possibility of growing away from each other, and the myriad of situations a marriage can, or can’t endure.

I’m thinking about this a lot as I watch so many couples around me split up. Its too complicated to try and create a trend out of people’s pain and the reasons why marriages don’t work out, but I do think that the emphasis our culture places on “your special day” to feel like a princess (or Prince) is somehow misplaced. Maybe the intensity and support from your community that happens during the planning of the wedding weekend can be dispersed somehow, so couples can get some love a couple of years in — when they really need it. Like periodic mini weddings: hugs, pep talks, advice, and real models of what it means to make difficult moments work. And gifts. I’ll take a new blender seven years in for sure. After a harrowing discussion of whether we can afford private school, whether our son ate a battery while we weren’t looking, or planning a time to fool around when someone isn’t sleeping on an air mattress on our floor, I could definitely use a blender for the distraction.

Its great that your college roommate gave a killer toast at your wedding about how awesome of a friend you are, and that your husband’s brother was able to articulate something he’s never been able to say since. But wouldn’t it be great if he could come over and read his remarks when you’re fighting with your husband of three years because of something ridiculous like he forgets that Sunday night is bill paying night? Or something less ridiculous, like you think you might be attracted to your best friend’s husband. Or your best friend’s wife.

I love being married. My husband is my partner, and he puts up with my flaws and my craziness and I think we truly fit. I have pride in the fact that we are constantly communicating and doing what we can to keep ourselves happy and committed. But being married is hard as hell, and married people can use all the help we can get. Not people desecrating marriage – cheapening, and turning it into a stupid, fakey-icky, cheesy brand you can buy at K-mart. And so that’s why I’m so annoyed by Kim Kardashian, I realize. Because I’m actually protective of this fakkaktah institution. I care about it. I believe in it. I’m actually not as cynical as I thought I was – I’m a softie and I believe in love and I believe in marriage. I even believe in weddings. That’s why I cry at every single one.

musings on a past life, pre-kids

I have these moments of intense nostalgia, usually triggered by one of my senses. A summer camp smell, certain songs by Phish, or a glimpse of The Breakfast Club on cable can recall a time and a place when I was a different person. So pure in their ability to create longing for a past life, these moments feel like the impetus for an artistic epiphany or something – like I’m supposed to do something tangible with these powerful memories. But I can’t paint or sculpt or write a song or make a film. I wish I knew how. Or had the time.

Recently I was waiting for my husband to meet me in Chelsea for a friend’s art opening. It was a Thursday, late afternoon, early summer, and the kids were home in Brooklyn with a sitter. I planned to walk around and check out some galleries, since I never do that kind of aimless cultural wandering anymore, but I was thirsty and ducked into an Irish pub instead. I sat at the bar and drank two beers and got kind of buzzed as the place started to fill with people. As I listened to conversations around me, couples and clusters of friends having their first drinks of the night, getting ready to go to a show, a party, a restaurant, I felt a pang of envy for my younger self. There was a time where I regularly sat in bars like this one, alone, sipping a whiskey, reading a magazine and waiting for a friend or a boyfriend. There was nothing this twenty-something unencumbered self had to accomplish, short of getting to my job and doing my laundry. Go to the gym, maybe.

A night like this — the first warm one of summer — would be languid, anticipatory, pulsing with potential. Maybe I’d meet someone hilarious or make out with a stranger. New York, and the world, was open to me. I didn’t know where I would be in ten years. Looking back now, my only anxiety was: who and where do I want to be and how in the hell do I get there?

I wouldn’t have guilt about leaving the kids. Or worry about ruffling a babysitter’s feelings by staying out too late. Or wasting money on a stupid night out. Wondering if I bicker too much with my husband. Or if my kids will be as lucky as I was to enjoy a mostly happy childhood.

I likely know where I’ll be for the next ten years, and most days I feel incredibly lucky. But now I have the worry of staying lucky, not screwing up. Being an example. Keeping my marriage strong. Being a good mom. Trying to enjoy my blessings without the crushing anxiety that can go along with having them. Because at a certain point all that languid, pulsing-with-potential business begins to get tired, and you start looking for the next thing, which begets the next, and the next thing you know you have a mortgage, two kids and four kinds of insurance (health, life, condominium, auto).

So sitting in a bar every once in a while is a definitely a good thing. It’s just a very different thing if you don’t get to do it with regularity.