Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Not your typical Thanksgiving post.

This has been sitting in my drafts for weeks. I come back to it frequently, but my words are always a tangle. I want to edit it and finish it all the time. Last night I decided that perhaps my words on this issue will never untangle, but that I might feel better if I just post the damn thing. 


I'm not here to list all the things I'm thankful for this holiday season. Because honestly, there are a lot. I'm a lucky woman with a pretty awesome life. But that's not what I'm here to say. 

Not in this moment. In this moment...I am sad. I am sad in a way that cannot be expressed. I am sad and frustrated and angry in the pit of my stomach and it radiates outward to my whole being. I look at the world around me, and know that we can do better.


Earlier this month, I spent a day at the hospital while my niece came into the world. It was 11 hours in a hospital waiting room and even though that sounds uncomfortable and boring, it was one of the best days I've had in a long time. I spent it with my family and everyone was full of joy and we didn't argue once and yeah, that's something of an accomplishment. She was born into a beautiful, loving, strange, wonderful family. I adore her; she's perfect. I made a collage for the background of my phone, of her and the other babies in my life. And it probably looks weird; I probably seem like I'm one step away from building a house of candy in the woods somewhere. But I look at them, the children of family and friends--these pieces of my heart--and I want them to be safe. I want to know that when they grow up it will be in a world that's just and kind and supportive. I want more for them than what we've cultivated.


I come here and rant about my ex boyfriends and I whine about being single and we joke about my fear of commitment and yes, it can get a little bit angry. It's all true...my love life is abysmal and I have dated some dickheads, but honestly, I believe in kindness and treating people with respect. (Sorry if that shatters any illusions for you, but please know that I will always complain about my exes and being reprimanded for forgetting to flush** when I got up to pee in the middle of the night. I remain terrible at dating. Rest easy.)


We're not doing a good enough job. We treat people who are different from us like shit and we treat a lot of people who aren't different at all like shit and we treat the world around us like shit and in the end...a lot of us treat each other badly, far too often. The sadness and anger I'm feeling threaten to become toxic. I worry that if it stays too long it will infect everything good in my life. I have the same worry for everyone I hear crying out that things have to change. So we need to try. We need to find ways to love each other and fix what's broken. We need to help each other figure it all out and try to understand each other and lift each other up instead of stepping on each other. We have to try. I know that's a very broad, sweeping, naive, privileged way of looking at it...but it's a start, right? It's all I have in this moment, besides sadness and anger and frustration--and I'd rather not pass those along. 



We need to do better. I have a tiny niece who deserves better from this world. 




**Yes that happened. It was just pee--it's not like he had to face a tampon in the morning. SORRY I'M NOT AT MY BEST AT 3AM, YOUR HIGHNESS. Put on your big boy pants and flush it your damn self. 

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Casual Weekend in Guatemala

I just spent five days in Guatemala, for a wedding. As you do. At least a third of the guests were American, most of the rest were Guatemalan, and there were a handful of internationals. (I spent the rehearsal dinner with a Colombian, a Czech, and a German.) It was one big, awesome adventure. However, I arrived home exhausted. Blogging was lower on my priority list than sleep and laundry and getting to work on time. So now that I've recovered, let's review the highlights:

I was reunited with friends I haven't seen in six years. They're amazing people. It's funny how six years felt like nothing, as if we'd been apart just a few days. I've said it before, but my friends are truly the most remarkable thing in my life. I don't deserve them. I also made some new friends. The universe put me in the right place, ok? 

I stayed at this fantastic hotel. 
Just, you know, stepping stones over a pond to get to my room. Whatever.

My friend has a great new husband, even if they tricked us to do the bouquet toss--using Beyonce! I felt so betrayed. 

Coffee, dancing, drinks, way too much food because they fed us really well, and handsome Guatemalan men. 

Yes, I know--my weekend was better than yours. 


During all the wedding events, we had some conversations about wedding customs in different places. It was rather fascinating, since you know I've become a bit of a wedding connoisseur. One thing that I love is a German tradition called Polterabend. On the night before the wedding, friends of the couple come over and eat and hang out, then they smash porcelain on the ground! Plates, cups, sinks, toilets, whatever. They smash it. And make a loud mess! And it's supposed to bring luck? And then the couple has to clean it up and that's some kind of bonding experience about all the shit they'll have to clean up together in their lives. That part sounds less fun, but the smashing! Sounds great! 

Just throwing out the idea in case any of my many engaged friends want to consider it. I'm totally ready to break shit, In honor of your love. Or whatever. 

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

On a serious note.

Alright guys, Real Talk. 

I've seen a lot of articles floating around lately about the terrible lesson we're teaching men by constantly turning them down by saying we have boyfriends. And I have concerns. 

We're talking about men who hit on you and only back down when you say you're in a relationship--because it can't possibly be something to do with them, but simply that you're taken. First of all, yes I think it's atrocious that a significant other, either real or imagined on the spot, is the only thing that will stop some men from hitting on you. I also think it says something terribly unflattering about those guys--that they don't respect you and your no thanks, but they will respect whatever guy you tell them you're dating. It's awful. Ok? 

So what I keep reading is that we as women should stop playing into this and making up boyfriends or husbands or girlfriends or anybody at all. We should teach this lesson that our no should be just as powerful as our no I'm in a relationship. We should change the culture around being hit on and let these men learn to deal with a little rejection. I'm all for that. 

In theory. I want to be a part of this movement. I want to help now, because I don't want the toddlers in my life to be in their 20s and still making up big, muscular, jealous boyfriends just because they don't want to dance with some random. But the practice of this is a little less...practical. For me, anyway. And maybe for you too. 

There are times when I'm happy to stand behind my no just because I'm not interested, and not feel this pressure to lie to a grown man who can't take a little bruise to his ego. Then...then there are times when a big, tall guy wraps his arms around me to ask if he can take me out. And I assess the situation, trying not to panic. In that situation, I'm not about teaching anybody any lesson. I'm about getting out of the situation and back to my friends. I'm about taking care of myself. So if, in those situations or anything remotely similar, I think that the quickest way out is to say I have a boyfriend, then I will absolutely do it. Every single time.

Because it's a good lesson to teach. And I'm all for doing my part. But it's just that--part. We can't be expected to do all the work. And we can't be expected to feel unsafe while we do it. 

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Flying Solo

I've never lived alone. I've always had family or roommates or a dozen other summer camp counselors. The closest I've ever gotten was living in a single room in my dorm in college. (Mere feet away from dozens of friends.) So when I agreed to house and dog sit recently, I knew it would be a whole new world.

It was eye-opening. Here are some things I learned about myself:

1. Some of my standards are lower than I thought. I only flush the toilet when it's necessary or when I'm entertaining guests. (On the plus side, I know how and when to clean.) Is this gross? Maybe. But at least it's earth-friendly. And yesterday I wanted to take a nap. I arrived home from work to a bed covered in books, my laptop, and laundry baskets full of clothes I washed last week and didn't bother to fold. I looked at that and thought, hey I can take this nap if I move everything. Then I imagined myself taking the time to do that and thought again. I napped on the floor directly next to my bed. I didn't even consider moving to another room to find a couch. I would make the same decision over again. 

2. I really want a dog.*

3. I am not shy. Ask how many doors I closed during those ten days.**

4. If I could get all my exercise via solo dance parties, I would be much, much happier. I pretty much dance partied around that house every day, despite my dog friend not giving a shit. Sorry not sorry neighbors.

5. I talk to myself, out loud, all the damn time.

6. I may not know how to use every corkscrew I come across, but I'll figure it out. Because I'm highly motivated. 
Way more complicated than it looks. 

7. Did I mention I want a dog?





*Not a new discovery but still worth noting.
**If you guessed 1-3 and only when other people were in the house, you'd be correct. 

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Learning my "love type"...

When I discovered Lovebirds by Trevor Silvester at work, I knew I had to read it. Written by a couples therapist/bird watcher, it promised to identify my love type from a set of birds--AND how to live with me. I mean, come on. I NEED to know my lovebird. Need. Must know. I didn't even know that "love types" were a thing. 

And so I shamelessly checked it out from the local library. Yes, people I know at the checkout desk, I AM reading self-help relationship books. FOR RESEARCH AND SCIENCE AND STUFF. 

We got off on the wrong foot when Silvester states, on the first page of the introduction, that I'm not so much living a life as a slow, painful pre-death coma. 
"If you live in a supportive, loving state of intimacy you live longer, healthier, happier, and more successful lives." How dare you, sir. 

Things improved a bit on page 13 where the author says the first stages of a relationship actually make you a little crazy, since your body is going insane with love chemicals*. (See? SCIENCE.) So he basically says people in love are nuts, which I can totally see. It's something I've been saying for years. 

I took the quizzes to learn my lovebird, which I'm a little disappointed to report feels a bit Myers-Briggs-esque. Not because I'm against the Myers-Briggs, or because it was poorly done, but because I was hoping for more straight up bird behavior comparisons. ("Peacocks look gorgeous but if you approach them too quickly at the zoo they'll go apeshit and make scary noises until you run away. Sound familiar?") I wasn't disappointed enough to stop reading the book though. I told you, I had to know my lovebird. 

The good news is that my prediction was wrong--I'm not a crow. (Loud, obnoxious, and who really wants them hanging around for very long?)

I'm an Owl/Dove. (Owl is my first one, but Dove was two points behind, in which case the author recommends reading both profiles. Here's a cool fun fact: I'm a rare bird. No, really. Apparently I'm not a common combination? LIKE YOU DIDN'T ALREADY KNOW THAT. 

So, I'm an Owl/Dove. I didn't even have to read the profiles to know that makes sense. Think about it. Owls are a symbol of wisdom and they have an outstanding Resting Bitch Face. Doves are symbols of peace who are forced to attend a lot of weddings and flee the scene as soon as they're allowed. Sound like anyone you know? 

(I actually thought the profiles for my types were pretty on point. Particularly the Owl part. In particular...
"Owls spend a lot of time talking to themselves." Accurate.
And the best possible analysis. "And then there's the foreign world of emotions." 
Additionally, Doves need puppies. "A lack of physical contact will leave them feeling lonely and they'll often have a pet to provide a source of affection." The author is telling me to adopt a pack of dogs. You're getting that vibe too, right? Trevor Silvester, I was a little skeptical, but it is clear that you get me.)

The cool part about reading this book if you're single is that a good portion of it is dedicated to how to handle relationships for every bird combination. Since I'm perpetually alone, I skipped this part and finished the book in like 45 minutes. New record! 

If you're curious, you can take the lovebirds quiz--let me know what you get! 




*Technical term. 

Monday, September 29, 2014

Friends with Exes

You know that period after a breakup, where you fantasize about various situations where you run into your ex, and finally get to tell them off or get your revenge or whatever? (One of my more elaborate ones involved me actually suggesting a Kickstarter to friends to make it happen. I would tell you I'm not proud, but to this day I'm pretty sure it would be funded.) Those fantasies help you get through your breakup, because imagining your ex begging for forgiveness in front of all your coworkers until you tell him to stop, he's making a scene and then security escorts him out...I mean, that feels pretty good. In your head. Because in reality, if your ex showed up at work, it would be a total nightmare. 

And exes do show up. It's not usually at your parents' house during Sunday family dinner so he can apologize for ruining your life. It's usually accidental and messy. Oh yeah...and online. It'll happen online. We all know it's the worst. And yet...when we're on the other side...it's so tempting...

Well it's his birthday. I should tell him happy birthday. Just because I ended our relationship doesn't mean I want him to have a shitty birthday, right? It's harmless. 

Stop that. I'm saying this to you and to me. It's a tough decision, I know. But when do you let go of an ex? I'm not talking about avoiding them, because that's basically impossible. Given geography, mutual friends, and technology, you're probably going to run into an ex somehow. (Particularly technology. At least your mutual friends KNOW you broke up and don't want to see each other. Facebook is like, hey you have 37 mutual friends with this guy--maybe you should friend him! YES FACEBOOK I KNOW HIM. WE BROKE UP. YOU KNOW THAT, TOO. YOU KNOW EVERYTHING. You can keep track of what dresses I'm checking out on ModCloth but you can't remember who I digitally broke up with? I call bullshit.) 

Occasionally, an ex of mine will pop up somewhere on the internet I forgot about when I cleaned him out of my life. He recommended a book on Goodreads? He still uses Goodreads? Delete. Oh yeah, we WERE connected on LinkedIn...not anymore. I don't need to see that. 

There's no solid rule about contact with exes, and every relationship and subsequent breakup is a special little snowflake, blah blah blah, so you can't exactly go around making up hard and fast rules. So I don't have anything useful to tell you, as usual. But since this issue came up recently for a friend, I thought I'd tackle it just in case. 

Here are the few rules I use when it comes to getting in touch with exes. 

1. If I did the dumping, I let him come to me. He gets to set the terms of our post-breakup "friendship." Sure, maybe I said let's just be friends, but after that I'm letting him take the lead on it. If and when he's ready to be friendly, he can let me know. (And you're sitting there like, well what if he never calls? Then you really, really broke him and he never calls. Get over it.)

2. If I was dumped, then I cut off contact. No drunk texts, no sad voicemails, no tweets, and for god's sake no poking on Facebook. None. Shut it down. When (if) the time comes that I am no longer still in love with him and can really, honestly be just friends with him, I'll test the waters. (TEST the waters, not dive in headfirst.) You'll notice the emphasis on honesty here. You've got to be genuinely over him in order to forge a new post-relationship friendship. Sorry.

3. If I work with him, in any way, including volunteer stuff or him coming in to my place of work as a patron/customer, then it's polite civility. He's not worth having to chat with my boss about casually calling a customer a dickhead. 

Sometimes you can be friends with an ex. And sometimes you really, really can't. 

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Throwback Thursday

A few years ago, I met my mom at work for some retirement party or holiday party or some other event. Whatever, it was a social function after work and I worked in the neighboring building and was tight with a lot of her coworkers. During this party of questionable origin, one of her coworkers I wasn't particularly approached me and naturally asked if I was single. (And I won't leave you in suspense, dear readers. Yes, I was single.) So she starts going on and on about her single son and she shows me his picture and I say yes, he's very handsome and cool he has a career that's great and she fumbles with a cell phone she doesn't know how to use and snaps what I'm certain was a mediocre photo of me to show him. 

A couple weeks go by and I get this facebook friend request from the guy so I accept him. I immediately stalk him an appropriate amount: enough to get a sense of who he is (what I'm saying here is does the guy have a million profile pictures with his arm around a woman, you know that's the first thing you look for) and he seemed normal. I figured him friending me was the equivalent of asking for my phone number and so when I accepted the request, that was me saying, here you go call me sometime

Apparently not. I waited like three days and heard nothing so I figured, ok fine I'll like his profile picture or something to get the ball rolling. Only when I searched for him he showed up NOT MY FRIEND ANYMORE. That guy unfriended me within three days without saying a word. 

New record.