With the unsparing comments of his three teenage daughters as chorus, and his own brutally honest, often self-deprecating self-assessments as narrative, the story follows Jed as he lives everywhere from Russia to Spanish Harlem to New York’s Chinese immigrant community to Singapore, from a relationship with a member of Moscow’s intellectual elite to a barely literate but vastly streetwise Chinatown massage parlor queen, all in his quest for a new “chemistry,” one that doesn’t, in just a matter of time, become, for him, relationship déjà vu.
With stops along the way for a toupee, AA, being robbed outside Lenin’s favorite hotel, a pimping accusation, a life-threatening diagnosis, aging parents, and the death of his rescued Alaskan malamute Kobi who sees him through everything, Stuck in the Passing Lane charts Jed’s struggle to create a new user’s manual for his life.
* from Goodreads
Inside the Author with Jed Ringel
Wow, Jed, this book sounds like something we all can’t help but to read (like we watch the accident at the side of the highway) but, what is it that makes Stuck in the Passing Lane more than just ogling?
You’re right that online dating has exponentially increased the opportunities for dating, with a concomitant increase in the possibility of “accidents” (and books that are just compilations of rubbernecking incidents). In my case — that of a mature man who’d just ended a long marriage and who, down deep, was looking for his final great love, one that wouldn’t be déjà vu — increased experience allowed me to understand what attracted me, good and bad, assess people better, and make adjustments. Being a bit “thick,” and, in retrospect, carrying a lot of emotional “baggage,” this certainly was a “trial and error” process that, quite often, erred on the side of often funny, sometimes even cringe-worthy errors. But, as the story tells, I kept at it, using the opportunities afforded by online dating to, for example, purposely see women radically different from what ordinarily drew me, experimentation not possible using the dating venues — work, bars, school, friends — available twenty years earlier, when I last was single.
Certainly, I take it to extremes (Russia, Singapore, U.S. communities far different from my origins), wander blindly in the wilderness for quite a while, and let hormones do more driving then should have been allowed. But, after taking what many may see as great risks, I figure some things out, and, not to give too much away, reap a great reward.
I love how you pull your daughters into your life. It shows that you really cared what they had to say. What was the most insightful advice given you by one of them?
As the product of a divorce that had me attending to my parents’ needs rather than the reverse, and not wanting my daughters to experience that, I worried a lot about how the divorce would affect them. I anticipated them acting out. I also wondered how these moody, button-pushing teenagers, who often acted as if they resented me breathing the same air they did, would react to me dating. I expected them to be dismissive, and hyper-critical, protecting themselves from having to deal with the potential of another adult woman in their lives, and just plain making my life difficult.
So I pretty much kept them away from my relationships, until I’d been seeing the same woman for over a year. A Chinese immigrant, my kids had heard enough about her to know it was fairly serious, though none had met her. For that, I scheduled Thanksgiving dinner at a restaurant.
The silence during the meal was deafening, as were my daughters’ criticisms afterwards when we were alone. Why, they wanted to know, did I want to be with someone so much younger? Whose English was in large part incomprehensible? Who had no education or profession? Who, with her children, was simply a bundle of needs with no compensating benefits?
Why, I asked myself, were they so critical? The youngest had begun living with her mother full-time, and the twins were leaving for college. None, therefore, were threatened with any long-term exposure to this woman, and they knew by now that I wasn’t the kind of person who’d insist that they see, much less like her. Suddenly, I realized what even someone psychologically comatose would have immediately seen: they were protecting me. Despite all the suffering, this dad-initiated divorce had caused them. Despite all the bad blood between me and their mother that unfortunately had seeped into their lives and I’d been unable to control. Their main concern with this woman was not how she’d affect their lives, but whether she would enhance mine.
Their questions echoed doubts I was trying to ignore. Their motivation was a very heartwarming surprise.
Thanks for sharing your life and your journey with us Jed, can you tell us if we can hope to hear more from you?
I’ve almost finished a childhood memoir titled Crybaby. I have novel ready to publish called Still Life. I’m shopping a screenplay involving the financial system aiding and abetting despotic dictators looting their countries (A Global Affair, drawing upon my experience as a lawyer chasing dictators to repatriate what they stole). And, for readers who like my wry, often self-deprecating and humorous take on things, they can always tap into my blog at jedringel.com.
I have to be honest, I was never so disappointed as when I told Rebecca at The Cadence Group I couldn’t participate in this tour with a review. This looks to be an amazing book!
|Publisher & Date:||June 1st 2015 by About Face Press|
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