Thursday, August 26, 2010

Conversations With (Marginally More) Hideous Men, Part 2

The other day, I was downtown at Fuda getting Chinese with my neighbors Jamie and Adam after hitting 3 Needs for the end of Duff Hour and getting a little swasty before 6 PM. After my mouth ordered myself special lo mien (the origins of yesterday's lo mien in post,) and the cashew chicken combination platter instead of the special lo mien and the relatively much cheaper fried wontons, and mid-conversation while we were extolling the virtues of eating cold lo mien straight from the carton the next morning (it's seriously my favorite breakfast, and given half a chance with inanimate objects, I might marry it,) an absurdly cute 20-something guy who must be Vermont's answer to Paul Walker appeared at my elbow and offered his two cents with a totally disarming smile.

"I'm a chopstick person myself, but I bet you only use two fingers when you eat it."

He was right, and he was cute, but I was in the process of wrestling with myself before making call, and was a little drunk and scattered. We flirted a bit while Jamie and Adam receded and did the engaged-people equivalent of giggling and goading on match-making. But I was distracted, and cut off the sweet-talking pretty shortly, leaving him awkwardly standing next to me with nothing to do, so he looked around, locked in on the establishment owner's children playing at a nearby table, and went over to kibitz with them.

Sometimes men are so transparent you can literally see the cartoon character speech bubble floating over their head: "Now she'll see how great I am with kids, because don't all girls dig dudes who like babies?"

Well. I never want to birth my own, but yeah, I can appreciate a guy who doesn't make children run screaming, and I can also appreciate a guy who puts a lot of effort into winning me over more. Unfortunately, his order (and time) was up, and as I pointed it out to him, he commented off-hand, "Oh, it's not for me. I'm just the delivery guy." Short of calling all the independent delivery services in Burlington and saying, "Excuse me, do you have a driver who looks like Paul Walker's younger brother, with blonde hair, bright blue eyes, lots of leg hair, blue sneakers, and a small earring? And how might I find him?", I gave up on him as soon as he walked out the door wishing me a good night and I got my hands on (and in,) my lo mien.

Back at the apartment, eating on the back porch, Adam asked why I'd put my wall up about Delivery Dude. "I'm not looking for anything right now," I told him while twirling my noodles.

"Maybe he's not looking for anything either," he responded, and I swear to god I felt my lip curl in a silent "Eww."

"Not my style," I told him.

Adam's more or less appalled by my dry spell streak, but I have this theory about how when you're not feeling wanted, or after the end of something emotionally taxing, your libido goes on strike. And then I tend to just forget about it. For the most part. And I'm picky about ending it.

Case In Point: Last Friday night, Emily and I went out for a Girl's Night. In the middle of Ake's
Place, I laid the gauntlet down-- "Our goal for the night is a phone number or a free drink. May the best woman win." We shook on it and drank to it, and apparently stumbled upon the magical sports bar secret, because not 20 minutes after finding a table at 3 Needs (yes, it's my favorite bar), Emily came back from the bar giggling. "There's two guys up there, and I just got a phone number." They came to sit with us, and soon numbers were exchanged all around, (along with me telling the drunker one that Emily was from "Amish country, but she believes in electricity!") and they were eying our drinks. "I'd offer to get you another beer, but you already have one."

"Is that a promise?" I asked. He agreed, we shook on it, I pounded the half of my bottle left, and true to his word, he got me another one, insisting I belly up to the bar with him and snaking a polite arm around my waist. Italy taught me a lot of good life skills, one of which being the foresight to see in which direction men are thinking, and halt it in action. Unfortunately, while in Italy, telling someone you're engaged (because having a boyfriend doesn't mean bullshit to them,) only elicits the mildly more respectful response of (and I quote from numerous Italian men,) "Where is your man? America is very far away," but here in the good ol' U.S of A, it's easier to stop a speeding train. I asked our beer-buying gentleman where he lived, and promptly responded with, "Oh! That's near where the guy I'm seeing lives! He lives on _______ Street!"

Lesson #1 in bar and club safety for women: If someone's coming on to you who you're not interested in, yet you don't want to totally discount them because they're a nice and gracious person, make up a boyfriend, and sprinkle tid-bits about him liberally through the conversation. "He lives (here)." "He took me (there)." "Last night, we went and saw (this)." "He's out with his guys tonight, so we're having Girl's Night." And the killer: "I think you two would really get along."

"You're cute, but you're difficult," he told me later as we walked to Mr. Mike's. I snorted, and told him, "You don't know the half of it. I'm sure my exes would agree with you. I'm making that my new tag-line."

He bought us pizza, and insisted on walking us home even though it was on the complete opposite side of town from where he lived. On the front porch, I gave him a quick and perfunctory hug, thanked him, wished him a good night, and then shut the door on him and tripped lightly up the stairs and passed out in bed. Alone.

Well, not quite. Nicco has cemented his nighttime abode as my pillow, and wakes me up in the morning by stoking my head with his little paw and preening my hair, which is really alarming sometimes when you're dreaming about Bourdain or Shemar Moore and wake up to someone fondling your head. But at least he never leaves the toilet seat up.


P.S-- I recounted that bar story to a guy that one of my friends is dating, and the look of sheer terror that came across his face as I described how women will make up boyfriends so we don't have to flat-out turn you down was telling, yet hilarious. I guess the lid has now been throughly blown off of that one.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Conversations With (Not So) Hideous Men

When I was little, I used to despise getting up to go to elementary school, a sentiment I'm sure we can all relate to. In the span of time between the first time my mother came in to wake me and the second (because it has always taken me 15 to 20 minutes to wake up and get out of bed), I used to lie there and have waking daydreams about a place where people could lie in beds all day, in a room surrounded by books on bookshelves, do their learning and reading in bed, clack away at a computer from the comfort of under their down comforter, and have food delivered and eat in while still in their pajamas.

This is why I became a writer. I chose to be a writer so I could be doing what I am right now-- sitting upright in bed after waking up at noon, still naked, eating cold leftover lo mien out of the carton, answering work emails and making money. (Plus, if you haven't caught on by now, writing is just kind of what I do. If I didn't have hands, I'd write with my toes. And if I didn't have toes, I'd teach myself to hold a pencil in and write with my mouth. And if I couldn't learn to write with my mouth, then I'd go out and buy a tape recorder and wonder why I just hadn't done that in the first place. But you get the point-- it's an as uncontrollable love and reflex for me as breathing or eating Annie's white cheddar macaroni and cheese.)

I'm theoretically as lazy as when it comes to "real world" writing work as I am about exercise. I mean, I'll get up, shower, go into an office and put in my 10-6, just like I'll get on a treadmill and pound out a mile and do some chest presses and back extensions-- I'll do it if I know it's going to get me somewhere or get my 4-pack back, but it's not like I have to enjoy it. My father was self-employed for most of his adult life, and among other things, I take after him in that I'm happiest when I'm being my own boss. And I'm never going to be happy unless I'm doing something that I'm going to find useful.

Grad school is one of those "useful things." I recently and unexpectedly met one of the writers and talent scouts for Saturday Night Live, and before I knew who she was, had given her a brief run-down of my resume and objectives. After the fact, she commended me on my choices of schools, and my resume. "By the time you get your Masters," she told me, "Don't be surprised to be looking at $80,000 a year salaries in New York, if you keep doing what you're doing." (She also, by the by, used to be a sex, love, and relationship writer in college, MOM.)

Now, money is one of those tricky things for me, and as I am reluctantly growing up, I recently sat down with a projected list of living expenses, current bills, and my income. I figured out in order to live someplace in New York where I won't have to fear sharing a one-bedroom with an infestation of roach roommates, pay my bills and college loans back, buy the occasional pair of shoes and feed myself a few times a week, and keep my horse, I need to be making a minimum of $30,000 a year. So yeah. Grad school. It's gotta get me there. And if it can be with give-or-take $50,000 to spare, hey-- I'm not going to protest.

Because it's only mildly important in developing the rest of my life, I did the only reasonable thing I could do when faced with some questions about one college no GRE prep book or grad school website can answer: I called my ex. Having grown up about 2 hours away, I suspected he knew the area a little, and could give me a basic idea of what it was like, and if he could see me living and studying there.

Scary? Yes, a little. Weird? When you don't talk so regularly anymore, yeah. When he beckoned me into the other room, was I not sure if I were about to get verbally chewed up and spit out? No, I was considering it a possibility. After all, harsh words have been traded in the not-so-distant past. But did I follow him? Yes. Because when it comes down to it, there's one thing you have to keep in mind-- "I know what this person looks like naked." And that little thought is enough to make anyone seem more human and vulnerable again. When you can trace someone's moles from memory and know the stories of their scars, you can't help but remember that at one time, neither of you wanted to hurt the other.

That's the thing about maintaining people in your life-- if someone has been inside of you, they generally know other intimate things about you, like your likes and dislikes and have a pretty good handle on who you are as a person. And if they're good people, even after the whole "we are not together anymore" thing, they'll still try to do right by you. So when he said, "I can't really see you enjoying it there," I listened. I also listened when he said "You've got the ambition, and if that sort of networking is what you want, then it would be a good place to go."

I used to burn bridges and recklessly discard people and exes like used plastic utensils, but along with the whole "growing-changing-thinking-about-my-future" thing, I've also realized what a bad move it is. Some of them are people I'd still lay down a lot for-- why would you want to alienate that for yourself? Not the smartest move a generally smart person could make.

So play nice and work well with others. What you put out is what you receive back, after all, at running the risk of sounding like your Zen Yoda master.


Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The Secret Language of Men

You know what I really secretly and snarkily love? Shooting down your exes, when they deserve it. (Not exes that you're Still Trying To Be Friends With. Even I have 3 of those.) I just watched someone I know do it, and I more than giggled a little about it. I did it the other day when my first-semester-senior-year-of-high-school boyfriend commented on a photo of me on Facebook. It was a liiiiiiittle too close and personal of a comment for my liking from someone I haven't talked to in, oh, 3 years, and basically in the most misspelled way possible pointed out for the entire Facebook world to see (which, as we all know, is the only world that matters, am I right, or am I right?) that we'd Had Sex. And I DO NOT need all 560 of my Facebook friends knowing that I slept with a guy whose idea of spelling is "conplaned." So that comment got deleted faster than Pirate's Booty gets eaten.

(Going to ignore the fact "booty" and "eaten" are in close proximity to each other and MOVING ON!)

Anyway, this got me thinking about how guys treat women, and what their behavior can tell you. We all know by know that "I'll call you" means absolutely nothing that translates; that "I'll call you back," means "Maybe sometime when I eventually remember, but probably not,"; and that "I'm doing this for you" basically means "I'm doing this to keep having sex with you, until I no longer want to, and then I'm going to stop and promptly get convenient amnesia that I ever promised this to you." But what are the other little things that girls pick up on easier than a coon hound picks up the scent of dropped bacon?

- If you're not introducing us to your friends, we're usually clever enough to pick up on the fact that this means you're not serious about us. You introduce important people in your life to your friends, because you want their approval, and even sometimes, their jealousy. But if you introduced everyone you slept with to your closest friends, even they would start to think you're a slut. So you hold off for the people that it seems like you have the most interest, pride, and investment in, and then you introduce them. So if it's been over a month, and you haven't invited us out to a party to do a meet-and-greet, we know we're pretty much a place-holder and bed-warmer. Sucks, but we get it. (Some of the guys I've been with have never met a single one of my friends, so it also works both ways, dudes.)

- Along similar lines, if you never invite us to do anything with you in public, it pretty much means the same thing as above.

- The way a man talks about his exes will tell you a lot about how he'll talk about you. I was with a guy who referred to his longterm high school girlfriend as "The Vapid Bitch." There was also the "Crazy Bitch." This hasn't made me very hopeful about the fact I'm not now referred to as "The Psycho Bitch."

- I heard something interesting on the show Covert Affairs the other night-- Auggie, who's a blind information analyst, told Annie that he can tell if a woman is hot or not just by the way other men speak to her. I feel like there's some truth to this-- if a guy's friends like you, like spending time with you, or think you're attractive, it ups your appeal to that guy. Guys like to compete with each other, be it in sports, video games, drinking tolerance, or who can pull and bed more women. Just like in Marketing, we call this "Supply and Demand." If you're on good terms with other guys, the one you're with is going to know you're a hot commodity, and (hopefully), step his game up. So always be sweet to the friends.

- We know when you're "yes"ing us to death. Same as when you're answering a question without thinking or looking. If your texts are one or two word answers, we know you're not in the conversation. And like I've said, "I love you"s and "I miss you"s are not Band-Aids for everything else you've fucked up about, to be liberally applied to stop the emotional bleeding. They stop meaning so much when you bandy them around, and we stop listening or believing.

- Straight from the mouth of one of my exes to your ears, if a guy wants to impress you on a date, he'll tip well. So try to get a glance at that line of the receipt. Something about "working in food services; I know your pain," and "not wanting to look cheap."

- And going back to the beginning, a good ex is one who you can still keep in touch with and rely on to still have your back and best interests at heart because yes, at one time, you both cared about each other. A walk down Memory Lane with these guys isn't awful. In fact, it's a little like watching a Lifetime movie-- comforting, pastel, and a little nauseatingly sweet. A bad ex is the one who flies in like a bat out of hell from nowhere to drop unwanted "Haha! I know what cup size you are and the shape of your nipples!" bombs on your life in hopes of scaring off any current dudes. They probably didn't care much about you. Or just cared about your nipples.

What are some other things you picked up from your dating and dude-ing experiences?


P.S-- And yes, yes, I did just use a Skeletor comic to demonstrate a point. Does anyone else remember Panthor with such fond childhood memories?

Friday, August 20, 2010

Wild Horses

I've been listening to lots of The Rolling Stones lately; why, I don't know. I guess it was just their time to cycle back into my current playlist. Anyhow, last night after spending about 45 minutes listening to "Wild Horses" over and over again on repeat, it struck me-- undeniably a romantic and heartfelt ballad, and a proclamation of devotion, who was it written for, and what happened to them?

Fast-forward through a bit of research done today, when I could actually think straight enough to formulate a plan of internet trawling attack, and here are some answers: "Wild Horses" was written for the album "Sticky Fingers," which was released in 1971. During this time period, and, we'll assume, the period in which Jagger, Richards, and the band were writing songs for the album from 1966 to 1970, Jagger was in a tumultuous relationship with Marianne Faithfull, who was shrugging the merits of her last name by dallying with Jagger while married to John Dunbar. Nonetheless, she took her son and left her husband to live with Jagger, and the two became nearly permanent fixtures in the hip "Swinging London" scene. Drug use, misuse, overuse, social drama, personal drama, and relationship drama ensued. ("You Can't Always Get What You Want" has also been attributed as being influenced by her, if that's of any sway to your thinking on this matter.) For awhile, Faithfull was his muse, the significant woman in his life, his greatest pride at times, and in others, as when she fell into a drug-induced coma, his biggest mistake. At the end of 4 years, Jagger and Faithfull finally called it quits. Jagger's stated that "Wild Horses" was written while their relationship was "pretty much done," but in the tone and the lyrics, you can still hear the sound of a man who really loved her, even if it was "done."

Jerry Hall, one of Jagger's most well-known ex-wives, has always held that "Wild Horses" is her favorite Stones song, even if it was written about and for another woman.

So, that much time, that much emotion, that much love and devotion, and a song, and it still ended?

We're not exactly living in the time of fairy tales, children. The first time I heard "Wild Horses" was in the movie "Fear" in which a mid-Marky-Mark Wahlberg and a baby Reese Witherspoon play star-crossed lovers...with a murderous twist. In that movie, psychosis was apparently enough to break that devotion. All it leads me to wonder is, where does the love go? After 4 years, lots of living and a life together, when it ends, what really ends? The living arrangements? Seeing them every day? Sharing the coke? But do the emotions themselves end, or is there some part of Jagger that's still the man singing "You know I can't let you slide from my hands/ ...No sweeping exits or off-stage lines/ Could make me feel bitter or treat you unkind,/ Wild horses couldn't drag me away" for Faithfull? After all, you can take away the actions, but they will never lose their meaning.


Monday, August 16, 2010

Being Yourself... Apologetically.

In every girl's life, there's that moment in their youth when they look back at their past, and suddenly see the huge, purple elephant standing in the middle of the room, and do a perfectly executed forehead smack/"Oh shit!"

I recently had mine in regards to my last relationship. Enough time and distance had finally passed to allow me to step back, look at it non-judgmentally, and try to sort out who did what to whom and where and when it went nose-dive-spiral wrong. It didn't take that long, because when I looked back, I saw something odd: It wasn't a relationship that had two distinct characters in it. It was a relationship that had three. And sometimes, more.

Maybe it doesn't come as a surprise, knowing that I'm the anti-dating, anti-commitment snarky love harpy that I am, but we started as TV-and-drinks night hook-up, nothing overly interesting. Yes, we clicked, yes, there was intelligent conversation and good humor and great sex, but I was not doodling hearts on my notebook the next day in class. Or the day after that. Or the day after that. What was interesting was when he texted me 5 days later around 1 in the morning, to check in because he "just hadn't heard from me" since that night. I was just trying to play it cool and keep things normal, but when we finally switched over to voice-on-voice action via the phone instead of thumb-on-thumb, it became clear that our objectives were not eye-to-eye. I told him I was leaving for Italy soon, and not looking to start something. He countered back with, "Technically, we've already had relations, so like it or not, we're already in a relationship."

"I'm fine as long as you don't actually say that to me," I told him, fighting down hyperventilation. (I think until this day he still didn't know that my body actually locked up when he said that "R" word and I could only breathe in shallow gasps for the next 5 minutes.)

"I didn't expect that to happen," he told me, and I swear to god I rolled my eyes.

"Oh, please. I knew it was going to happen. You don't think I go everywhere with an overnight bag, do you?" (Actually, that's a very smart idea, and do as I say, not as I do myself.)

"Ok, I had some idea when you came over that we would end up sleeping together, but I didn't expect anything other than that would happen. But what could go wrong in 2 months?"

"Oh, sweetheart, you don't know me."

Honestly, as in, 100% brutal, public honesty right here and now, I didn't expect anything to happen, either. Honestly, brutally, publicly, the only thinking I'd done about it, and about him, and about me previously was "You're hot. You're really, really hot, and I'm going to just keep having sex with you until you won't let me anymore, and then I'm going to point at you and say, 'Do you see that gorgeous man? Yeah, I tapped that,' and brush my shoulders off." That was my game plan. I wasn't initially serious. At all. I was just seriously horny. And was just thinking he was seriously hot. But he was also raising some good points, and I hadn't connected with anyone like that in...ummm...ever. So we decided to take things slow, until I went to Italy, or until we drove each other crazy, whichever came first. (Keep in mind, I'm a One-Month Girl, and Italy was 2 months away. I was hedging bets on it crashing and burning before then.) I was being honestly, brutally, totally myself. I wasn't playing games, and I wasn't going to sign on to something that I didn't see myself wanting to do. A lot of the time, women tweak aspects of themselves or their personalities to appeal more to men, but it was odd-- I hadn't done anything but be exactly myself with him. I had no ulterior motives. I wasn't trying to impress anyone-- in fact, I believe I tried warning him off. And strange thing-- he seemed to like that. He seemed to like me, the me that not even all my friends get to see.

So things progressed. I was spending at least a night a week at his place (he never even saw my place), meeting his friends, doing the not-dating thing. It was casual; it was comfortable; it was perfectly in my comfort-zone. One night, he called to see if I was doing anything more exciting than painting my nail and watching Sex and the City reruns. (Fact.) I wasn't, and he invited me to go with him to a friend's birthday party. I declined, saying that if it was just a party, I'd be up for it, but since it was this girl's birthday, I didn't want to show up as a stranger. It was like that, for awhile-- he'd say he was going to a show or concert, and I'd say I'd meet him after; he'd call and see if I wanted to spend the night and go to our morning class together, and I'd be already in bed and unwilling to get up and drive through the winter's chill just to get into his bed; he'd say he'd ditch bar night with the boys if I wanted to come over, and I'd decline saying that he needed boy time and I needed girl time (fact #2, and also, something very important to keep on your mind when you're under 21 dating someone over 21-- they need their bar time. And you can't go. So don't impede.)

I wasn't one of those girls who wanted to be included in everything, though I'd help break down a performance space and drive his buddies home if they needed a ride. I baked brownies to stay on his roommate's good sides, and tried to keep the late-night noise down. And then something odd happened-- I started to actually fall for him. It wasn't just about the sex anymore-- it was about his bookshelf. His vocabulary. The way if he tipped his head back and said "Oho!", you knew he was getting ready to contradict something you just said. The way he'd call, just to say hey, if he hadn't seen me that day. His eyelashes. The way we both regarded bantering as a form of foreplay. How he would personally say good-bye to my friends and check in to see what my plan was before we'd leave someplace. The fact that we functioned pretty well together and surprisingly had a lot in common. I started to actually say "yes" to those invitations. It wasn't all great-- we went through some shit that was rough and ultimately took its toll on us, but I started to think about not sabotaging it. Maybe, I don't know, but I've heard of this weird thing that normal, committed people do-- nurture it?

And then I went away. For 4 months. That's a long time. At first, we Skyped a few times a week, or, when I lost internet, we'd have trans-Atlantic calls. Some weeks, we talked constantly. Others, not so much. I was fine with it-- I was busy exploring a new place and leading a new life, and he was the first one to bite the bullet and say "I miss you," which went over really well with me, as I had tried to say it at the end of the conversation before, and literally had choked. But he got that. It was difficult, yes, but whatever it was, it was working ok for the situation, and ok for me.

After Spring Break, what had previously been a pretty steady stream of communication started to trickle down. It became harder to get a hold of him, which was hard and frustrating for me because it was also when I was having the most issues being abroad. I got public-ally felt-up and molested by a stranger. I got bronchitis, with no doctor, and no drugs. I was getting broke. I had to find someplace to live for the next year while across the ocean from America. I was planning my senior year and starting to think about grad schools. I was really homesick. And he just didn't feel "present" anymore. About this time was when I realized he was seeing other women, which explained a lot.

Italy proved to be my undoing. Not that I'd ever take the experience back for, literally, the world, but in the last few dozen days before coming back home and moving back to Burlington, I got more and more keyed up. The girl who previously wanted a very achievable, functional, next-to-nothing relationship now wanted everything. And wanted everything to go perfect. I wanted my fairytale ending-- a reward for all my hard work. I wanted to actually be able to say "relationship" without fainting. I found myself daydreaming about things like washing his dishes and grocery shopping. I started looking at music calendars for shows we both liked. I started calling back to the U.S, just to whine about how much I wanted to be gone, and be home. A lot. If I couldn't get through to him (which, by the point, was more un-often than not), I would call my closest guy friend, conveniently his best friend, and bitch. (I am so sorry.) In other words, I jumped the gun. Not just any gun. I jumped the Heckler & Koch G36. (And yes, go to that link and look at the photo so you can see just how far ahead of the horse I put the cart. That thing's a beast.)

I think I temporarily misplaced my identity with that of one of Mad Men's housewives.

I ended up becoming one of Those Girls-- one of the whiny, insecure ones who seeks constant validation from her partner because she's not secure enough in what she wants. And I ended up rendering myself wholly unattractive and pushing him away, before I even realized what I was doing. I effectively took that G36, and shot myself in the foot. Or, maybe the heart. (And this is now the part in which now that I've claimed my share, I also acknowledge that he was a particular dick for a bit, too. So it wasn't all him, but it wasn't all me, either.) I went from being someone who knew exactly what she wanted, and exactly what she was comfortable with, and exactly what was fair to ask or be expected, to someone whose thoughts on commitment and relationships flip-flopped every other day and was getting increasingly demanding while at the same time never being pleased with the results, even if they were exactly what I had asked for. I became (and I'll say it since I know you have,) a total, raging, whining, needy cunt-bitch. No, I wouldn't have wanted to be with me, either. In fact, I hated myself while I was doing that, but it was like a personal train wreck I just couldn't stop-- I'd built up enough momentum, it just had to run its course. Oh, how the mighty had fallen.

And this is what I have to say about this whole affair-- my Cliff Notes, if you will:
- Know what you want out of a relationship, always. It may change, but at no point should you be waffling around about it. If you are, it means you either don't want it enough to still be in it, or you're too confused about something in yourself to be a productive member of it.

- Do not, do not, DO NOT become someone who picks petty fights over text, or calls or texts numerous times a day for unimportant reasons. Here's an example of when it's ok to call and/or text more than a few times in one 24-hour period: Medical emergencies. If pertinent, timely plans have become subject to change. If you've just won tickets to a Philadelphia Eagles game. Here's when it's not ok: When you just want to "hear his voice." Again. 2 hours after the last call. When it's to say that you still haven't found your sunglasses, and can he please check his car again? When you know he's at work, or with his family. When you are drunk.

- When things change, you've gotta put the Big Girls pants on and talk about them. Things like emotions. Goals. Where you see yourself in a month, or 5 months. Where you see him in that. If you don't see him in that. If you'd like to see him in that. Mind-reading (still) is a lost art.

- After the break-up, wait it out. You're gonna be sore, and tender, and touchy, and bitchy for awhile. For maybe, a long while. Wait until you sort yourself out to sort anything else out. Maybe that's why I'm in such a total "no nothing" zone right now. No relationships. Nothing even casual. I just want to be me, and figure out what that means again, and not have to worry about anyone else. (Though, 2 months later, even when you're creatively slurring their name paired with rhyming insults at 3 AM, you're still going to be worrying about them. Worrying if their life's on-track. Worrying if they're remembering to feed the cat. Worrying if they're getting a chance to bitch about their work/parental/friend issues with a caring ear like they need to. Worrying if they're just eating pizza every night and haven't seen anything green or leafy in weeks. Worrying if they're happy. Not fair, and it sucks, but true.)

- In some wise dude words, "It's between you and him." Remember that. Act accordingly. At one time, you liked each other. You still might, half of the time. So be nice to his friends. Be nice to his property. Don't talk shit about him. Have some manners, and bitch about it with your roommate later. (All this personal informational is strictly for educational purposes, from my side of things. Another "do as I say..." moment.)

- Space, like silence, is sometimes golden in a relationship. You need time alone or with your friends. He needs time alone of with his friends. Doing everything together, or expecting to do everything together, is not sexy. It's suffocating. I never appreciated sleeping alone more than the nights after I spent the one before with him.

- Goddamn, it's a phone, not a texting device. That is still your cell phone. Stop with the day-long texting, and actually take 45 minutes to talk. It is so important. Honestly, that's one of the things that won me over and made me go from "just another bro" to "I'm really feeling this Joe."

- If you see yourself becoming that Crazy Bitch, please, for the love of god, try to stop or have someone step in and perform an intervention/exorcism.

That's what I have for you in hindsight. The rest, you'll have to take and make up as it comes along on your own. But believe me-- heed me. If I could go back, fix it, make it right, and take it seriously, I would. Maybe not now, but when I'm ready. Don't fuck yourself over, too. You deserve a whole hell of a lot more than that. You're all smart, pretty, fabulous girls. So start acting like it, and not someone else.


Good Morning, Amurika!

I'm really digging off-the-shoulder tops lately. It's a nice way to show a little extra skin, and is so much more unexpected than showing more cleavage or back. If your neck and collarbone are sensitive, it's sure to get some blood rushing.

I bought 3 cheap pre-made o-t-s tees and a regular crew neck Rolling Stones men's tee the other day, brought it home, and DIY-ed it into an off the shoulder with "Can't Get No..." emblazoned across the back. The first thing I ever DIY-ed (we're not counting the misguided attempts at making my own deconstructed/reconstructed clothing held together with more safety pins than sewing when I was a pint-sized punk-rocker in middle school who refused to "conform to The Man" by, I don't know, wearing jeans and clothing that did not have holes in it?) was what was in it's previous life, an XL white Hanes men's crew neck tee. Now, it's an off-the-shoulder tie-dyed tailored shirt-dress with peek-a-boo holes cut down the spine. Hey, who said I got rid of my holey obsession?

I've been partying a lot lately, and unlike the sophomore bitties who go all-out in dresses, heels, hair and full make-up for a house party to only sit on some guy's couch that's still squishy with spilled cheap beer, my formula for parties goes along the lines of fun, functional, funky, comfortable, and easy. Face it ladies, if the party is happening on the roof or in the basement, and you can't get there because you dress doesn't allow some minor acrobatics and your heels and non-functional, you're not going to be have a fun time.

This is a Kirra scoop-neck, loose-sleeve tunic that I tug over my left shoulder and go. It looks very Parisian over skinny black pants, or hipster-chic layered over a tight knee-length shirt, and under a plaid button-up. You can even belt it at the waist to give it some more shape, but as it already tapers, I'm pretty cool with it as is when not under something less form-fitting. Worn best with lots of jewelry, unwashed Cali-girl hair, and a whimsical attitude.

And the hat? Red Stripe. "Don't worry; beer happy."


Men Are Just Breathing Machines

Nicco and I are curled up together on my bed, being stoned and blissful, listening to music, because that's what we do, and his little body rises and falls against the side of my head and face, lulling me into and even deeper daze, when it hits me:

Maybe it's just the feeling of someone breathing beside me that I've missed.


Friday, August 13, 2010

The Liar and/or The Lover

Confession: I will read nearly every women's magazine I can get my hands on. I will even read magazines with women IN them, including but not limited to Playboy and Maxim. (Good articles.) So it should be no surprise that my mother co-signed me on for her free subscription to More, and when she and my father spent the night on our pull-out couch last night before flying out for Minnesota this morning, she left me July's O magazine. (Not, as some of you may think given some of my latest posts, "Orgasm" magazine. No, my confused flock, O as is "Oprah" magazine. Commence giggling here.)

Make fun of me all you want (insert hair-braiding, Nicholas Sparks movie-crying, Vera Bradley-loving snark here--), but when I started reading "How To Solve A Thorny Problem" by Martha Beck, I had a full-on, existential epiphany.

"'At first I thought Jack was just a rebound-dater wanting to make a conquest. But he's called every day since our first date, and he's really sweet. He remembers my favorite song, and he reads my blog-- I think we really connected.'

'Sounds like a dream come true.'

'On the other hand, he talks about his ex-girlfriend a lot, and he started hinting at sex 5 minutes after we met.'

'Bad sign. Don't let the whole "favorite song" thing fool you. He's just a player. He's thinking, Oh, yeah, I'm all that.'

'What if both things are true? Maybe he's a man-slut with a bruised ego trying to get someone in the sack, and he's a thoughtful person who really likes you?'" (All quote excerpts by Martha Beck, pg. 37, "O" magazine, July 2010.)


I've been dedicating a lot of my (single) (precious) (unpaid) (non-White Collar-watching, though sometimes I space out during commercial breaks) time to doing the flower-NOT-included equivalent of "What The Hell Happened, And Did You Play Me, Or Play Me Not?" As evidenced in this post, I've been struggling with the repercussions of being with men like Jack, and having relationships in which, when they end messily, you look back and can't tell the forest from the trees, let alone the truth from the lies. So which do you choose? Was he a womanizing dick who "didn't care" what you thought, or was he the guy who would call to talk for over an hour "just because I didn't see you today"? And what happens when both actions come from the same man? As Beck says, "...Could they truly have the ideal of angels in their hearts and the morals of goats in their pants?" Is it split-personality syndrome, or just humanity? Which do you choose to believe in when actions and words cross, double-cross, and start knitting scratchy sweaters with each other?

As Beck points out, "If you scrutinize your own life, you'll find you do plenty of things that violate the dichotomies in your mind... We're considerate, selfless, and clever (except for the times we aren't). ...Are you good or bad, fragile or tough, wise or foolish? Your worst habits [are] both destructive and helpful." (Pg. 38 & 39.) We certainly can be our own worst enemies, and many a time have I either heard or said myself something along the lines of, "I wish I knew why I did this or were this way." "But," Beck points out, "things get complicated when you get... a mix IV drip of essential fluids and poison-- when a person or situation seems to provide necessary things like love and comfort but is also the source of pain and upset." Sound familiar? I'm sure we've all lived it. I know I have, over and over to no answered avail at all.

When we find ourselves in situations or with people who nearly seem to force us to choose between one extreme or the other-- love, or hate; help, or hinder; stick, or let loose-- it can be nearly impossible to reach one conclusion because one half of the equation will always be left with with an unsatisfying remainder-- he can't be all bad if he meant what he said here, and here, and here. I can't be too throughly fucked if I've gotten this positive feedback, and this, and that. It's not going to kill you if you learn this lesson, and so on, and so on. "What makes a both-and mind-set so powerful is that it takes you beyond the two choices you thought you had. It opens up new, previously unseen possibilities and opportunities."- Beck.

SO MUCH ZEN QUALITIES. SO MUCH FORGIVENESS. HOW CAN I POSSIBLY MANAGE IT? I'M ONLY HUMAN, WITH AN INCREDIBLY GOOD MEMORY FOR EVERYTHING THAT WAS SAID AND DONE. I'm not (unfortunately) a superhero. I am not the Incredible Forgiving Woman. I am not Buddha Girl. And you're saying I'm going to have to learn how to be? For my own happiness and good? And that of others? So I stop torturing myself endlessly on the mental rack?

Sound like a whole lot of talking yourself in circles so you end up with the conclusion you want, a la Greg Behrendt of "He's Just Not That Into You" get-your-head-out-of-the-sand tough-love? I was thinking this to myself cautiously when I came across this: "...One caveat to all duel-emma relationships: If you or the other person involved can't or won't admit the whole truth-- 'Yup, I have a Dr. Jekyll side, there's also a Mr. Hyde in here,'-- the relationship will become increasingly dysfunctional."

So, does this mean I didn't have a dysfunctional relationship? Does this mean I --gasp-- had a totally normal one instead? There was a lot of admitting going on. There were a lot of big, hairy, ugly truths. But I didn't fully admit to everything. I didn't fully admit to my bad behaviors, and my feelings, and my lies. Was I the dysfunctional part? Admittance is the first step, you say? When is it too late to start admitting? "It wasn't all you; some of it was me, and you should probably know about it, because I'm sorry it made me a raging, judgmental cunt, and I don't want you to spend the rest of your life thinking I got a partial personality lobotomy while abroad"? Something along those lines might suffice?

We're supposed to accept people for all that they are-- flaws and quirks non-withstanding. We do this with our friends, and our family, and our less-than-well-behaved pets, but don't seem to extend the same lax attitudes to our romantic relationships, while completely by-passing it for ourselves in the process. So instead of asking "Which is which, and what are you, really?" should I be instead saying, "This is all that makes up you, and this is all that makes up me, and this is the shit we have to address, talk about, and deal with," once I stop pointing fingers and take a long, hard look in the Morality Mirror myself?

So. The Liar and The Lover. You, or me? One in the same, or just a hopeless case? How does one decide?


Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Discourses in Deception

I always have mocked the term "recessionista," but when you find yourself substituting 4 o'clock and 5 o'clock "Duff Hour" at 3 Needs as your new more cost-effective, less prime-time alternative to late-night drinks, those $1 pints seem to be more practical, if not glamorous. And when you're not really working (although I've got an internship, a paid short-term copy-editing gig, and a new column being optioned-- I like wearing as many caps as possible; maybe it's because I don't look good in hats--), like me, $1 pints are not something to be picky about when what you really want is a $7 Cosmo with the girls. I'll take
my cheap alcohol where I can get it.

If there's anything I've learned while living on the lean, it's the the art of deception is probably
one of your most paramount tools in life that you will ever learn to master, along with being flexible, crafty, and mastering some sleight-of-hand while working the bills out. I know some of you (including one ex in particular who hated lies while at the same time going out of every way to have to explain the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help him god,) aren't the biggest fans of deception. Some of you think it's best to "keep it real" and "tell it like it is." And while "telling it like it is" may not be a particularly strong point of mine (and here I hear a few "Amens" from the same chorus), what I'm advocating here is the sort of deception that hurts no one.

College and shortly thereafter is a time in which you trade, barter, and prostitute with what you have. Like my renaissance love-affair with Duff Hour, you work with what you have. And what I have right now is lots of time. In this time, there are two things I like to devote spending vast amounts daydreaming about: Writing, and cons.

Ok, so maybe it's more like three things: Writing, sex, and cons. And while my writing is getting me free business lunches and opening doors of career opportunities, it's not exactly paying the bills NOW.

A "con" or a "confidence trick" or "confidence game," (also known as a bunko, con, flim-flam, gaffle, grift, hustle, scam, scheme, swindle, or bamboozle) for those of you who never saw the brilliant "Catch Me If You Can," is "an attempt to defraud a person or group by gaining their confidence. The victim is known as the mark, the trickster is called a confidence man, con man, confidence trickster, or con artist, and any accomplices are known as shills. Confidence tricks exploit typical human qualities such as greed, dishonesty, vanity, honesty, compassion, credulity, irresponsibility and naïveté. The common factor is that the mark relies on the good faith of the con artist." Cons aren't always so devious as sometimes they're just a fact of life. Sometimes, it's necessary to convince someone that you're solvent enough to be a good investment. So when I showed up today for my business lunch in an avant-garde skirt and leather heels, no one would have been any the wiser that I owe the bank $200, haven't paid my utilities bills yet for the month, and only have $4.27 in my wallet, and literally, to my name. With the right wardrobe, you can be anyone. I like my money where I can see it: On me. People say invest in gold and bonds and the tangible, so I do my best, and keep it in my closet.

But like every good con, I have my tell-- the more jewelry I'm wearing, the more insecure I am. I can't help it-- being a jeweler's daughter, I've watched all sorts of people walk in, and I've checked out their bedazzledness. A large gold watch or large watch with gold accents screams "I can afford to have the time." I got mine for 10 Euro in an Asian appliance hole-in-the-wall in Florence. In a time when people accessorize by
dripping with jewels, I got my fighting leopard cocktail ring, long sunburst necklace, and vintage cat pendant at a flea market in Florence, not paying more than 10 Euro for each of those
pieces. My gigantic Chinese knot necklace I got from a booth in New York City's Chinatown, and
the only jewelry of any value that I ever wear are two rings from my father-- one, the first thing he ever made for my mother; the other, my 18th birthday present.

I can play a fun game with you in which I point out what things in
my room I've bought at T.J Maxx-- hint: it's about half. That's where I've picked up discount Tommy Hilfiger and Polo Ralph Lauren bags, and the white studded Steve Madden purse in photos above. I bought my 1970s vintage Louis Vuitton messenger bag--my first piece of big-name designer anything-- at the same flea market in Florence where I bought all my jewelry, and I haggled the price down 15 Euro for it, too. That pink silk shirt, and a gray tee, were both originally from Urban Outfitters, where I have never bought anything full-price-- the pink silk was thrifted from Plato's Closet, and I bought the gray shirt on heavy sale, like everything else I've ever come home with from that store. Honestly, I was just in there again today, and while I adore a large majority of their clothing, I could just as easily walk into a good consignment shop and find the same styles for half the price. At least. But for now, I'm perfectly content with re-inventing things from my own closet to look like new. And if all I'm covering up is a sub-par bank account with a few extra bangles, I don't see what the harm is in convincing other people I'm either flush, or something that I'm not. It's like playing dress-up, but for semi-grown-ups. All we're doing is running around and trying to
appease people and convince them that we're what they want us to be, anyway.When was the last time you were truly you, just because you had a chance to be?

Yeah. Next time, don't worry what they think-- worry about what the people who know you for you and love you for you think. As Emily has said, it's all about "faking it 'til you make it." Hey, I never said my moral compass was straight.

{An extremely insecure and nervous day--
The UO tee of my 3 major food groups
(Alcohol, Caffiene, Nicotine,)
that I've worn to death and stretched out into an off-the-shoulder,
3 necklaces,
4 rings,
my bangles,
wristband from Brewfest that still hasn't fallen off,
my beaded rasta bracelet from Solarfest,
and my studded riding belt.
Jewelry is my armor.
Mistah J is my dude.
And my other tell-- I can't keep my hands away from my mouth.}


Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Why Don't You Love Me? Yes, Why Indeed?

While I can joke around that yes, this is EXACTLY what I look like while doing car repairs or working around the house, what you can't joke about is Miss B's undeniable knack to produce music that women can relate to, even if we're pretty sure Jay is still pretty smitten and B isn't writing and singing about any current issues-- they're just still universal ones.

Fabulous, non? If at one point, there was a man who didn't love Beyonce, I feel so much better about myself, and you should, too. I'm still 99% sure marrying her was the smartest move Hova's ever made.


Sunday, August 8, 2010

Relationship Of The Traveling Jacket

As we probably all know by now, I have issues with money. Specifically, not spending it. And even as apt as I am to spend it on a whim for myself-- really, a lot of the time, I have no idea where my money even really GOES-- I'm even more apt to spend it on presents for other people. Shopping for myself is so easy it's not even much of a challenge anymore. I know what I like; I know where to find what I like; and I have no trouble buying what I like. However, there's that One Moment when you find something that is so perfectly perfect for someone else that I liken it to the shopper's equivalent for the Holy Grail. It's like a coke addict getting the pure stuff. It's like Imelda Marcos finding another pair of shoes. And I swear to god, in the moment that I spot that item that my friend/father/boyfriend/boss/random-waiter-who-only-serves-me-on-the-3rd-Friday-of-every-month/professor cannot possibly live without, even if they don't know it yet, and I get to be the one to present it to pulses in my vision with a radiant golden glow, like it was sent from the gods. It's like a something in a totally killer video game, but it's REAL LIFE. And it's blissfully and tangibly MATERIAL.

The weather in Vermont lately has been such a teaser for the fall to come, and today was the first day since moving back Stateside that I got to wear my leather jacket (seen above at Trevi Fountain, below looking toward the Colosseum, and above-above on the night of my birthday, so I guess, technically, that's a lie, though literally, today was the first DAY and not NIGHT I've worn it). I commented on this fact to Alli during our dinner-and-an-old-yet-favorite-movie at home, and the conversation finally worked its way around to the fact I bought and brought back from Italy to the guy I had most recently been seeing a leather jacket of his own, based merely on the fact that as I was leaving, I asked if he needed a new wallet or belt or journal, as I was going to be living in the leather goods capital of the world, and he jokingly replied, "Nah. But I always have wanted a leather jacket," and so on the same day, in the same shop I found mine, I found the perfect one for him-- something
which neither Alli nor Nora have completely made peace with yet considering all of what happened between coming back from Italy, giving him said jacket, and now. As for my part, it was a gift, and I am not an Indian-giver. You don't just happen upon, buy, give, and then take back the perfect present. You don't repossess something bought specifically for one person. You just cut your losses and call it even. Eh. What ya gonna do abouddit?

Today, however, I found the loop-hole, as I looked down at my spoils-of-Italy-clad feet while splayed across the couch. "You know what?" I said to Alli. "I actually think I paid more for these boots than I paid for that jacket."

Italy. Your economy can thank me.


Friday, August 6, 2010

So, Tell Me...

Every day, I doubt that you ever really cared about me for even just one day.

Ain't that a bitch?


NOT Waiting For It

Because I'm so flat-broke, instead of my monthly girl-fest Secret Single Behavior of buying the new issues of Glamour and Cosmopolitan and slowly spending an afternoon reading them somewhere quiet with a coffee and regaining my sanity, I've been trolling their online sites to read for free, instead. Not quiet as relaxing, as I've always preferred the tangible, but it does lend something new to the experience: reader's comments.

At the bottom of "16 Sneaky Acts of Seduction," on, an 18 year old reader said that she felt really behind still being a virgin when other "kids my age are already having babies & stuff. i do sometimes wonder how it would feel lk to be sexualy active," and asked the other readers if she should continue waiting to have sex until she finds the right guy, or if she should "just have fun or whatever?"

In my honest opinion, if you're not having fun in life, then you're doing something wrong. And I don't think she's missing out on "having babies & stuff" at the age of 18-- that's a huge fun-dampener. But the other reader's results to her questions were of a resounding "wait for it" lean. Not to diminish their reasons, which include:

"...Your first time is hardly ever good. It hurts and you might bleed a lot,"

"If you just have fun it has it's cons. You might get attached and he doesn't want a relationship. Or you think he's one person and find out he's another. He could just use you for sex. You could be lied to and find out he has an std,"

"I think sex is so much better when you have a connection with the person. Girls like to cuddle. Girls get more attached than guys, so if you get a guy who doesn't care about you, it will be emotionally stressful,"

Or, my personal favorite, the 25 year old virgin who is getting married to her fiancee who started dating her trying to win a bet with his friends about who would have sex first back in high school. He obviously lost that one, and I really cringe to think about waiting for and then marrying the sort of guy who made a BET about getting laid, because that just screams of a relationship that is built to last and come to fruition in a marriage.

But why does there never seem to be someone saying the opposite and telling these girls that not "waiting for it" doesn't mean you're a slut-bucket who's going straight to hell in a handbasket and will never find a man who respects them?

I'm now 21 and have slept with 5 men. I've had good sex, I've had bad sex, I've had weird sex, and I've had great sex. I'd had lots of sex, and I've had really long dry spells, too. Personally, I've never regretted any of it, even given the fact that the dude I lost my virginity to was probably the worst choice in the world. Like, I couldn't have picked any better (or worse?) if I had run "How Do You Not Fit The Qualifications?" interviews for the job. (This was also the guy I couldn't be bothered to muster up the energy to break up with, if it tells you anything about our entire un-apathetic union.) But I was 16, I was sick of it, and I just wanted to get it over with. I partially chose him because he was available, and he was older, which I assumed would mean he had more experience with sex than I did. "The first time" wasn't a huge deal to me. Yeah, it did hurt, but I really hate when women try to convince other women that you are going to bleed like Old Faithful and not be able to walk for a week. Coming from my point of view, another one of those "How Are You So Not Right For This?" qualifications that my first boyfriend met was that he was basically packing a third leg. Not so great the first time, but it got much better afterwards. And I could walk just fine, thanks.

So, to re-cap thus-far, for you vestigial virgins out there: Yes, it will be uncomfortable the first few times. There may be bleeding. There may be soreness. It may be really freaking awkward. NO first-time-having-sex you will EVER have with someone new will ever be spectacular-- you don't know how the other works, how your bodies mesh, or what makes each other tick.

Yes, you may get attached to Mr. Lying, Usurious, Herpes-Laden Committmaphobe. Unfortunately, our brains have some pretty fucked-up wiring when it comes to sex and emotions, and you can never really account for who you have a connection with. (Case in point, I've had some remarkable connections with flings, while dead connection lines with committed boyfriends.) But next time you meet a lying, usurious, herp-infested player, you get smarter, and (hopefully) pass him by for someone else. Yes, it's going to be emotionally stressful, but it's all part of life and learning. You learn, your taste and judgement in men gets better, are you're more likely to end up picking someone who actually is the right person for you than pinning all your hopes and hymen on someone you don't really know deeply or intimately right out of the gate. I've come a long way since my Couldn't-Be-Bothered first boyfriend. I've learned a lot about men, and myself, and it really has changed and shaped me. If I had stuck it out and waited for Mr. Right to fall into my lap, I'd be relationship- and emotionally-stunted when he finally came around, and probably fumble him right out of my life.

And, not all girls like to cuddle. Jesus, stop with this assumption, and please, give me some space at night.

Who knows if the guy you think is Mr. Right Wedding Bells right NOW is going to be Mr. Right Forever and Always LATER? Divorce rates in the U.S are over 50%, so the chances are halved that the man you lose you virginity to, IN MARRIAGE, could very possibly not be the man you die beside and are buried next to, a la "The Notebook." Romance really has no place in the relationship between sex and marriage. Please stop reading Nicholas Sparks and start reading "Dating, Mating, and Manhandling."

Maybe I could be so blase about it because I knew it wasn't the guy that I'd be marrying, and, in fact, maybe a large part of my decision was the fact I was (and still am) pretty sure I never did want to get married. Since then, not once, not ever have I regretted losing my virginity, either at all, or to a different man then the ones I've loved. Maybe I'm just a shameless new-age hussy, but the other thing that I can't wrap my head around is that waiting for marriage is basically like buying the car without seeing if it starts or runs first. Sex is IMPORTANT. You're never going to be happy in a relation where the sex is bad, especially if it's marriage. Frankly, the only thing that the sex I've had has convinced me of is the fact that whenever I sleep with someone new, I'm thankful for my previous experiences, as they've given me the tips, tricks, and sanity to deal with pretty much whatever is thrown my way.

So maybe that makes me a slut. If it does, well then, this slut is going to be ludicrously happy having good sex for the rest of her life, and if you get stuck in a sex-less marriage because you waited for "The One" and now you're unhappy and feel cheated and want to divorce him, send me a postcard and let me know how that's going for you, ok? Great. Thanks.