Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Why I'm Skipping Fifty Shades

Real Talk: I did read Fifty Shades of Grey. All three books--wait, were there three? Whatever, I read the series. After ignoring the hype for a while, I decided to read them for two reasons. The first was that I was still teaching at that point and most of the other teachers in my building were reading them and going apeshit. I wanted to join the veiled conversations at lunch. But what really made me submit that Amazon order was reason two: the Twilight connection. If you're not familiar, I read that Fifty Shades was originally written and published on the internet as Twilight fan fiction. (Yes, I also read that series.) 

At that point, I HAD to read these books. I had to know. I had to know how close to the Twilight series these books would be. I mean, I understand the general premise: instead of a controlling vampire, he's a controlling business guy with particular sexual interests. It's a jump, but I can kind of see it. 

Have you read both books? Anyone? Feel free to chime in. 

THEY'RE SO SIMILAR. I'm not talking about the general story line. I'm talking about all aspects, minus the sex. He's so mysterious! With copper gleaming hair! And unusual eyes! And no one can figure him out! She's clumsy! And plain! But not really plain because she's actually super pretty! He should stay away from her! But he just can't! And they live in the Pacific Northwest! And EVERY SITUATION IS THE SAME AS TWILIGHT. As I read, I would say, oh we're going to meet his meddling sister now and BAM there she was. That guy will definitely be the bad guy and what do you know, HE WAS. 

So there. I read the books. And yes, you read right--I bought my own copies. After hearing the way my colleagues spoke about these books, and learning how long the wait list was at the library...I decided I really didn't want to handle copies read by dozens of middle aged women. I've heard these books described as mommy porn and porn for bored housewives. Um, I'll take fresh copies thanks. 

So...did I enjoy the books? Nope. I was bored and disappointed. (Hey, more in common with Twilight!) Not to mention a super unhealthy relationship and a portrayal of the BDSM lifestyle that's widely criticized as inaccurate. Sexy!

But now the movie is coming out! And we finally saw Christian Grey! And the Beyonce song! And everyone is losing their shit

There is no way you'll get me to watch that movie, ESPECIALLY in a theater. I WILL NOT sit in a theater and watch socially acceptable porn. Have you ever watched porn with a bunch of other people? I have but we knew it was ridiculous and NOT SEXY and we laughed and cringed the whole time! (I mean, when you rent Shakespeare porn I guess that's to be expected.) I don't think Fifty Shades moviegoers will be joking around. So if you think I'm going to sit in a room with a bunch of strangers who are hot for this character (YES MIDDLE AGED WOMEN I MEAN YOU sorry not sorry. I saw Twilight in the theater and you were everywhere.) you are dead wrong. 

I'm not spending $10 to be uncomfortable for 90 minutes, thanks very much. 

Thursday, July 24, 2014

"Once upon a time I was falling in love..."

I'm home from summer camp! Hooray for you! (Not really hooray for me, because I super miss my friends and running around in ridiculous outfits and you know, sleeping on the top bunk isn't so bad once you assess the situation for bugs, and I DID manage to avoid the poison ivy scare. Narrowly, but avoided all the same.)

Between a dumpster fire (long story) and singing songs about poop (not as long a story as you'd imagine), I did some thinking about my ex--accidentally. One night the kids sang a song that wasn't necessarily "our song" because not only does that idea gross me out but we never agreed on it anyway, but it makes me think of him. Because of unimportant reasons. "You had to be there" kind of stuff. Anyway it's Adele. "Someone Like You." And I know what you're thinking--that song is really sad!!--and I KNOW I AGREE but hold those thoughts for a second. 

Another night at camp, we were having a dance party and naturally that led to some interpretive dancing. Our DJ took my request and played "Total Eclipse of the Heart" and let me tell you, that's a very respectable interpretive dance song. My dancing led me into the arms of a charming Italian man, as all good dancing ought to do. We sang to each other and he told me "Total Eclipse of the Heart" was his and his ex's song. 

"It's such a sad story. I should have known it would end," he said. That really hit home for me. Even while we were dating, I thought of my ex when I heard "Someone Like You." Like, it made me smile. EVEN THOUGH THAT SONG IS REALLY SAD. It's definitely about a break up. I mean, without a doubt that song is about the end of a relationship.Come on, Adele sings it. It's sad. Is that weird? That such a sad song ABOUT BREAKING UP made me think of my boyfriend...in a gross happy way? During our relationship, I never even stopped to consider the meaning of the song, to be honest. WHICH IS DUMB I KNOW. How did I not notice that I associated my boyfriend with a really really sad song? I keep telling you I make bad choices in relationships. I mean, it's not like that could have actually been Our Song. What, if we got married we would have danced to Sad Adele? (HAHA MY WEDDING j/k that was never going to happen.) People would have judged us so hard, and probably tweet about it and I'm saying this with 100% confidence because I would absolutely do the same thing. Sad Adele can't REALLY be your song. 

So I've been thinking: does your song set the tone for your relationship? Should I have known we were doomed? If you pick a sad song to represent you as a couple, are you saying you're a sad couple? Maybe you're an idiot like me and never really put all the pieces together? Or maybe you just don't have any shits to give? Or is this a sign that I spent too much time with teenagers this month? I have so many questions about this!

Although ultimately I suppose I just have one--what does it say about you as a couple if your song is sad? Feel free to weigh in on this...

Monday, July 14, 2014

Everything I Love Leaves Me

My last relationship ended because my long distance boyfriend needed space. You know, in addition to the 4,000 miles he already had. 

Until then, I never realized my love was so aggressive, so overbearing that I could drive people away with the sheer force of it--and from so great a distance to boot! I should put that on my resume. Is it a marketable skill? Let me know. 

I thought it was the first time my affection has been cause for flight, but a conversation with Twin made me remember an old mp3 player sitting in a desk drawer. 

When I went abroad in college, I bought an mp3 player--but not an iPod. I didn't want that. Instead I got myself a Rio. And I loved that thing. (Still love. Present tense.) It served me so well. Production on Rio mp3 players shut down before I finished college. Undeterred, I used my Rio Karma until a new laptop (and thus, a new unsupported operating system upgrade) facilitated the purchase of a new device. It was so sad, but without updated software, I couldn't add or delete music from my player. (My Rio still works just fine, for the record. I just can't update it--it's a time capsule for my musical taste in college.) 

Still determined not to buy an iPod, I got a Microsoft Zune. Another player I loved. I loved it until it died suddenly, with no warning. Once again, my love was too much to handle. Production on the Zune halted. There was no replacing mine after that. I had loved it too hard. Twin found me looking for an ipod alternative after that and gently suggested that while my love was too much for Rio and Microsoft, perhaps Apple could hold up under the staggering weight of my adoration. 

I admitted she might have a point and thus, settled for an iPod. (No offense, Apple. I'm just not an iGirl.) Things are fine. I enjoy it, feeling fairly confident that it will still be around in the morning. It's reliable. It's probably for the best. 

Before you go assuming I just have terrible taste in electronics, I should tell you that my love drove away a favorite shampoo, which I spent a couple years importing from Canada whenever we crossed the border. (Border proximity perks.) 

Given this history, I should not have been surprised by the text from the man I love, explaining his need for space. (Or rather, not explaining it. Just mentioning, more accurately.) Apparently, I just love too hard. 

Watch out, Apple. I'll try to play it cool this time. 

Monday, July 07, 2014

Updates from the Austen Suburbs

I met Mr. Darcy almost a year ago. (Check out the Netherfield tag if you want to catch up on the Mr. Darcy saga.) And to this day, we've only had the one conversation. 

You guys, I'm not sure he's playing it cool. I read the book, he's supposed to knock off the aloof act after a while. He's supposed to learn to love me and then awkwardly confess his feelings! 

He might...just be ignoring me. Seriously. I don't even know what to do with this realization. Although I did learn that I have a mutual friend with the roommate. Maybe I was right, maybe Mr. Darcy really is Mr. Bingley and this mystery roommate will be Mr. Darcy and fall weirdly in love with me**? That could happen, right? 

It's time for some Mrs. Bennet level scheming, readers. No concrete plans yet, but there are weeks of beautiful weather ahead of us and I WILL come up with a plan. 

**And by fall weirdly in love with me, I mean put his face on mine. I'm talking about a loose adaptation, ok? Nobody here is looking for a husband. 

Monday, June 30, 2014

Most Asked Question: Is this a date?

There's a blog post making the rounds among my facebook friends--I'm sure some of you have seen it. On his blog, Matt Walsh is calling for single men to stop hiding behind the phrase "hanging out" and call a date a date. Admittedly, this is the first I've read on his blog so I don't know how many opinions we share. But on this issue, we have some common thoughts.

He's right: dating is confusing. Because most of us aren't 100% sure when we're actually on a date. I get A LOT of letters and questions from people asking me "was that a date?" I don't understand why this is so unclear, just that it is. It's almost like each of us is so afraid of rejection that we think keeping it vague is better. Or maybe we're so afraid of commitment that we keep everything really casual until, what, someone proposes? I don't know the answer here. I can only join the millennial masses and speculate.

Walsh gets it half right when he calls for men to be clear and make up their minds. He's half right because women need to do it too. Despite the fact that it means talking about feelings, we as a population of single adults need to be honest about the status of things and ask the questions that lead to knowing if you're on a date.

I found myself in a bit of trouble recently when a man told me about an event he and a bunch of friends were attending. As a group. It sounded fun, so when he said I should join them, I told him I would consider it. He asked for my number. Halfway through the digits, I felt the all too familiar Commitment Panic, realizing he might have wanted it for date purposes. But how do you make that clear? Please only use my number for platonic group events, thanks? That's not normal. I can't go around saying things like that and still make friends. Not to mention...what if he didn't want to ask me out? Then I would sound like that girl who assumes every man wants to be her boyfriend. Once I started giving him my number, I couldn't turn back. I just had to wait and see what happened. Because I was totally in the dark.

No, he wanted to ask me out. His message that week was a clear date invitation, so points for that. But if he had been clear from the start, we could have avoided that situation.

In his blog post, Matt Walsh is appointing men with the task of being clear about their intentions. And I'll give you that most of the "is this a date?" questions I get are from women, but my audience skews more female, if stuff like my facebook page is to be believed. (Boys, you need to be more vocal out there!) I'm not sure if guys have this same "are we on a date" anxiety--my guess is yes. And "are we on a date" doesn't even compare to "are we in a relationship" concerns. Can I call him my boyfriend? My friends are calling him my boyfriend but he's never said it, and I've never said it, so maybe he's not my boyfriend? One time I didn't address this issue until my dad started telling everyone I had a boyfriend and then I asked the guy if that was true. And no, I absolutely will not tell you when this happened in my life.

So here's my suggestion, single readers: make it clear. If you initiate hanging out with someone but really you mean it to be a date, call it a date. If you want to keep dating them, make that clear too. Then they can answer you honestly about whether or not they'd like that, because they will KNOW it's a date. They can adequately prepare for a date and stop texting me mid-date from the bathroom listing details of the outing and asking if I think they're on a date. Yeah, that happens. (I'm fine with you messaging me mid-date if you want my help, but it's probably a little weird and maybe our relationship should have some boundaries? I don't know, we'll work on that.)

Thursday, June 19, 2014

In a Relationship? Or is it Complicated?

I overheard someone saying that a sign of a healthy relationship is no sign of it on facebook. This has been bothering me, for a couple reasons. (Yes, I know I went off on keeping your romantic shit off my newsfeed--I stand by that. But NO sign of it? I take issue with that, too. No, you just can't win.)

My first question for anyone keeping their relationship totally off facebook is why? What's your reasoning for keeping his par of your life invisible? Because I'm not gonna lie--that seems shady. My gut reaction would be to assume you're ashamed of being with them.

Now, if both of you mutually and honestly decide to keep your relationship social media-free, then cool. I guess. Still seems weird. Like if you're going to use social media and create lists of your favorite movies and choose a profile picture...why are you actively leaving this part off? (Unless you work together or something else that would necessitate some secrecy because you're not ALLOWED to be together. As long as you're both available consenting adults I'm fine with that.)

But that's all a personal choice, yeah? You do you But if you're maintaining a facebook page and leaving off your relationship status, we need to talk about my second concern.

Everyone else.

I'm talking about creeping on your page. I'm talking about meeting a handsome man and trolling his page to learn about him. (If he's available.) The Facebook Stalk, guys. It's one of my big moves. People look for a relationship status! It's the internet wedding ring, the first thing we look for. We look at that and we scroll recent profile pictures for any reoccurring person who may or may not be your significant other. And if your page has NO mention of a relationship, then we will probably assume that's a green light for our incoming flirting efforts.

Then we learn that you ARE in a relationship. Here come the questions. Why isn't that mentioned? I checked the profile! Why the secrecy? Does this significant other actually exist? Or are we talking about one of those "she lives in Canada, you wouldn't know her, we met this summer" kind of people, which we all know means she doesn't exist. Does this guy not care that he's dating someone? Is this his way of potentially cheating? Wait, does that mean I'm not worth cheating with? Stop that, I would never be the other woman. But still, this guy doesn't know that! What the f-- wait seriously why wouldn't you just click the "in a relationship" box?? I can't be alone in this thought process.

You're just making it difficult for everyone else by hiding your relationship from social media. And that kind of behavior gets you blogged about around here.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

The Dangers of Picking Up a Stray (Person)

If you were to ask my twin about my bad habits, I'm sure she would produce a long list with sources and proper references. I can't even guess what a lot of them are, since so many of our own bad habits do not seem bad in our own perspective--just to everyone else. However, one bad habit I am confident she would name is my tendency to, as she calls it, pick up strays.

I'm not talking about pets, although that would be awesome and maybe I should look into a new habit...

Anyway, before I find myself with a pack of dogs...back to my point. When Twin tells me not to pick up any strays, she's referring to the person equivalent. Just like cats and dogs wandering around the neighborhood often return back to the houses where people pet them or leave out food and water, some people return to the places they find friendship or attention--or even what just appears that way.

I'm a social person. I like to talk and I like to listen to people and if some of those people are new to me, then that's great. I regularly find myself having conversations with the people next to me in line at the grocery store, the people at the next table in the bar, my airplane seatmate...anybody. Unfortunately, this habit also makes you susceptible to strays. Strays are the people who return again and again, hoping you'll eventually just adopt them and bring them into your house--or your social circle. Sometimes they end up thinking you're really close friends but really you just talk to them because they're nice enough, they go to the gym when you do, and you run into each other regularly. It's fine until they start to ask you if you want to see a movie or something. When that happens, you know you've picked up a stray and you have to decide what to do. And maybe you're going to go ahead and be real friends, not just waiting in line at Starbucks every morning friends. Maybe you won't. It's a personal choice. But just know that strays are really, really hard to get rid of.

I'm not bothered by essentially being a cat lady for people. It's led me some interesting places. I've lost track of the number of times people have told me about losing someone they love or fighting with their siblings or quitting their job or other really personal things. I've talked to people on their way to weddings, funerals, and hospital waiting rooms. And sometimes they want to talk a lot after that or sometimes they go their own way and I never see them again. But no matter the outcome, I've come to realize that sometimes you just have to share the burden of your story. That might mean turning to someone you trust. Other times, you tell a stranger--someone next to them on an airplane or behind them in line at the grocery store. If I can give that to someone...I'm definitely ok with that. 

It should be noted that my attitude towards strays DOES NOT extend to men trying to date me. Those kind of strays aren't confiding in you or trying to be friends. They're the ones who sprinkle a sort of awkward conversation with very awkward questions designed to find out your age, marital status, the kind of men you go for, and sometimes--fingers crossed!--your sexual preferences. (Yes that has really happened to me. With strangers. Awesome.) These men are not very smooth about getting to know you and don't read your cues very well, so they don't seem to care whether or not you're actually interested. Which is why you ask if the book in their hand is worth reading and they ask if your boyfriend likes books too. ...What? They say they were at work and you ask what they do and the reply is something about pleasuring women. (YES THOSE PEOPLE EXIST.) These men are pretty much going to ask for your phone number at the first opening, despite your bewildered expressions and uncomfortable attempts to change the topic. But you were nice to this stray and they were encouraged. So the longer that conversation lasts, the greater the chance of that guy asking for your number. Decide right now--do you want this guy calling you? If yes, proceed. If you're like me and no no no don't call me I don't believe in phones, then you need an escape plan. Now. You have to get out before he can ask and really it's better to avoid him for the immediate future. (Until one of you leaves the bar or the flight lands, for example.) From personal experience, it is less awkward to get out before he can ask than to tell him no, you can't call me sometime. I mean, if he's a douche then don't worry. But if he's just kind of clueless and you think he's really not picking up on your disinterest and you want to be kind to him...just get out. (STRAYS LOOK SO SAD WHEN THEY CAN'T COME INSIDE YOUR HOUSE, OK?)

Ok, I can hear complaints coming. 

I recognize that it's hard to put yourself out there when you're attracted to someone. And I applaud honesty. But I have a big problem with continuing to try when the other person rejects you or does not return your sentiments. If you're talking to someone and keep trying to ask what he's doing on the weekend, and he keeps changing the subject--he does not want you in his weekend plans. He doesn't even want to tell you that. I'm just saying you should respect the unspoken boundaries that are being set by your conversational partner, you know? But that's getting into a huge topic, so we'll save that for another day...

The thing about strays is that I have a really hard time identifying them until surprise! they keep coming back. And by then...

What I'm saying is you need someone like Twin who has your back, because she pretty much hates strangers and also sees the strays coming and tries to warn me. (You can guess how often I listen, but she tries.