Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Obligatory End of 2013 Post

You probably won't see this until THE FUTURE but it's still 2013 as I write, so I wanted to spare a few minutes from socializing to stop by. 

2013 was not the best year for me. If you review statistics, it's been pretty awful in a lot of ways. I'm not sorry to see it go. But I hate regret, because I think even mistakes and missed chances and shitty parts of your life add up to what you become. Even things that suck can turn into great opportunities and great parts of your character and even just great stories. So I don't like the idea that I would undo any of it if I could. I think I'll come out of the wreckage that is 2013 with some pretty great stories. 

I mean, if you think about it, I had a pretty great year...

 Started the year at the Arctic Circle.

 Took up some new hobbies. 

 Froze at a fjord. 

 Spent A LOT of time in airports. 

 Drank too much coffee, probably.

 Went to a LOT of weddings.

 Did I mention I went to a lot of weddings?

 Best bowling game of my life. Yeah, I broke 100. Jealous?

 DID I MENTION I WENT TO WEDDINGS?

Saw Paris.


Paris was ok.


 Spent a lot of time volunteering.

Learned how to circus. Ok, I learned how to juggle, but there was a lot of circus stuff going on.

Also this happened, with no context given whatsoever. 

Despite some great moments, I'm ready to move on. This year is a clean slate. 2013 was a year of transition, so this one is a year for progress. I'm ready to take on 2014. Let's go. 

Monday, December 30, 2013

I'm Blaming the Men

Several weeks ago, I was out with some friends. What started out as a small group grew and grew, as more people called friends to join us. It was a top notch night out. 

Or rather, it almost was. Between shots, I discovered a new voicemail on my phone from L. "Amanda, I'm going to make it after all. I'm on my way and I'm bringing you a man." If there are lovelier words to hear from a friend, I certainly can't think of them right now. 

Later the same night, B approached me with the news that his handsome** friend was on the way with the express instructions to make out with me and not ask for my phone number. (**I'm editorializing here; my friend didn't use the word handsome.) 

Two handpicked men? What an embarrassment of riches! My night was looking up! Surely one of these men would put his face on mine! My post-breakup dry spell would be over! (Also, YES I do have the greatest friends.) 

I am not one to brag, but you guys...I was on point. My flirt game was strong that night. I spent good amounts of time with these men (separately, thank you), stopped drinking before I was in danger of being sloppy, and my hair was in full cooperation. 

L showed up early, friend in tow. The man in question had a great face and was positively charming. We danced and he saved me from a creeper. Things were looking up. Until he disappeared.

However, my designated makeout arrived shortly thereafter. We hung out for the rest of the evening. I was feeling pretty confident, despite the disappearance of the first guy. Did I mention that my game was on point? A panel of judges would have given me at least a 9.8, and the internet would have contested such a low score. Women in the late 90s would have been debating my Sex and the City likeness. (Sure, I would have rolled my eyes so hard they were in danger of sticking, but it would have happened.)

All was not well, though--because of course I can't come out of something like that unscathed. DM abruptly announced his departure, hugged me, and left. Without following through on his mission. I stood in shock before turning on B. "I THOUGHT YOU SAID--" "I know. I'm going to kill him." 

What went wrong? How could I strike out twice, and with my eyeliner so even that night? Surely these men missed the point of their attendance that night, as neither man made a further move of any kind. 

On top of all this, my struggle brings up another question entirely: Are we done with making out in bars before going our separate ways? Must it be all romance and intimacy and last names? Where are the reckless men of my early 20s? If it's all exchanging phone numbers and defining the relationship, I don't have time for that. SURELY I'm not the only person left who occasionally just wants a man to kiss her. I'm not prepared for that reality. 

Monday, December 23, 2013

Easy Holiday Recipe!

It's Monday! Except it's Christmas week and that means I have no idea what day it is except to call my mom and repeatedly ask which family members I'm having dinner with tonight. Then I remember which friends I'm meeting for brunch. The friend stuff is over course great, and the family stuff is actually wonderful but comes with a certain amount of drama because OF COURSE IT DOES, IT'S THE HOLIDAY SEASON. I would be bored with a quiet family, though. 

Anyway, in the spirit of my ex-boyfriend, I doubt I'll have much time for you guys this week. Next week we can get back to talking about me striking out at bars and how the words "spinster" and "old maid" were spoken at a family dinner last night. For now, I copped out and here's an easy holiday recipe! You may be alone, but you made treats, dammit. (YES I know the sound is weird--I was on my laptop.) This will not be a regular occurrence, so sorry about my face. 

...Ok so I had to upload it to youtube. THIS IS ALL GOING VERY WELL I bet you're glad you clicked over here today. If you're still with me you can check out my adventures making peppermint bark for Christmas. 

If you want to make peppermint bark, this is a close approximation of how I do it: 



Bitter Amanda's Peppermint Bark

Crush candy canes with a hammer. If you're using regular size, try about 9. However, these are a pain in the ass to unwrap, so I use about 3 dozen mini candy canes. Crush them until you start to feel better about your future as a cat lady.

Melt 20 oz dark chocolate. The amount, like the number of candy canes, is negotiable. Just melt some dark chocolate. Use the microwave or a double boiler so you don't screw it up like your past relationships. Google double boiler if that part is foreign to you. Add some peppermint extract to really impress your friends. 

Line a large cookie sheet with wax paper or parchment paper. 

Put the chocolate on the pan and refrigerate until it's hard. This takes about 20 minutes, or just long enough that you forgot you were making something. The wait goes faster if you facebook stalk your ex and try to decide which girl in that picture he's sleeping with now. 

Melt the same amount of white chocolate that you used for the dark chocolate layer. 

Mix in candy cane pieces and pour onto dark chocolate layer (Make sure the first layer is chilled well and work quickly or it’ll melt and it will not look as pretty. It will still, however, be delicious. Looks aren't everything.)

Refrigerate.

When solid, remove and break into pieces until it resembles your heart. This is best kept in the fridge until you're going to share it and/or eat your feelings. 

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Your Friendly Neighborhood Cable Company

Yesterday I received a letter from my cable provider. It's a general hey thanks for sticking with us, there's a slight change in our channel lineup letter. Nothing noteworthy. What is noteworthy, I noticed as I got to the bottom, is the CEO. It's a woman--she's CEO and Chairwoman of the Board. Considering how many companies and organizations are run exclusively by men, I'm sad to say that I was happy to see that. 

And then I looked closer. She's not just the CEO and Chairwoman of the Board. Between her name and those titles, there is another line--different titles. "Hugger, Mother, Keeper of the Culture." 

I shit you not. 

My irritation flared up, which will surprise exactly zero of you. You really should hear the first draft of most of my rants--this was no exception. You're a damn CEO! I don't care if you like hugs--I care that you're taking care of my cable and internet! My internet doesn't need a hug! Don't bring your maternal instincts into this! DO YOUR JOB. 

I'm not proud of it, but part of me was mad that this woman in charge was putting out this silly image. I'm so tired of being asked if I need a tampon when I'm having a bad day. I had an imaginary conversation with this CEO, asking her how she could be taken seriously when the first word after her name on letters is "hugger." 

Once I calmed down and paced my living room a little, I headed over to Google. This is not exclusive to the CEO, it would seem. WOW! Cable (Please do not get me started on their name. Please.) wants you to know that their employees aren't just employees--they're people, too. Each of them gets a "brand signature"--titles for their non-work life. This was done to humanize their employees, since people really hate cable companies. The idea is that if I'm on the phone, irate and wanting answers, I'll chill out and be nicer to the guy on the other end if I know he's a Jazz Enthusiast and Fly Fisher, rather than just The Guy Who Probably Screwed Up My Cable Bill. 

Alright. So it's everyone. That made me feel a little better. It wasn't the CEO alone. Then I asked myself how I would have felt if the letter had come from a man, with his brand signature listed with his job title. Would "Family Guy, Sports Fan, Person of Faith" have caused the same reaction? (That's the President's title, in case you're curious.) Yes. Yes, it would have. I realized it's not about being taken seriously as a woman in business--it's about being taken seriously in business. You're in charge of a cable company. I don't care what you do in your free time--that's totally up to you. What I do care about is the service you're providing me. Your passion for keeping the culture (whatever the fuck that means) weighs exactly zero on my decision to stick with you or switch companies. 

Moreover, I had no idea this was some company quirk until I did my research. I didn't think the author was human, I thought she was too eccentric to head up a cable company. It requires too much explanation--this is hardly common knowledge. (Particularly for a regional company. If Google did this, or Disney, or Apple...we'd probably have read about it on The Huffington Post by now.) It feels like an inside joke that I wasn't privy to. 

So, readers, I ask you--am I the only one not charmed by this "brand signature" nonsense? Does it change your image of cable companies if you know the CFO is a dog lover? 


Monday, December 16, 2013

Public Service Announcement: First Impressions

If I'm at a bar and you want to meet me, "Hi, I don't think we've met," is a perfectly fine line. I mean, it's definitely a line because we definitely have not met--but you need something to open with, right? So sure, that's a fine start. 

You know what isn't a fine start? When you're standing outside in the snow smoking a cigarette and talking to the bouncer and try to snag my arm as I dash outside on the phone to take a call, and then deliver your line. Do I look like I'm comfortable right now? It's snowing and I left my jacket inside. I'm trying to make this quick. I'm on the phone--I'm not saying I'm about to make a call. I'm saying the phone is at my ear and words are coming out of my mouth. Don't try to grab me, because that doesn't start a conversation--that starts my fight or flight instincts. And then really, really don't stand there and wait for me finish my call. That's not cute. That's creepy and intimidating. We're basically alone and I don't know you and have I mentioned that I'm actively having a conversation? You can't wait until I go back inside? Really?  




Thursday, December 12, 2013

Stranger Danger

I hate when strangers adopt a false sense of familiarity with me. I can't stand when telemarketers answer your hello with a friendly "Hey Amanda!" so I don't hang up right away, struggling to match that voice with someone I actually know.I don't want a waitress to scoot into the booth while I order just to be the cool staff who chats with my group. I don't want people to knock on my door with the secret friend or whatever knock when they're showing up to proselytize. 

I'm not offended by strangers introducing themselves to me. 

In fact, I introduce myself to strangers pretty regularly. It's one thing to turn around at the bar and ask the guys at the table behind you if they chose the music on the jukebox. It's fine to find someone on social media and comment on their blog, tweets, whatever. It starts a getting to know you process. 

Sometimes that process goes quickly. You can bond with other women in the ladies room in no time if you're both drunk and putting on lip gloss. You can make fast friends when someone else jumps onto the dance floor at the same time you do. You feel pretty close to people after spending a few hours next to them on an airplane. But you have to go through SOME kind of process. You find common ground, even if that's just "we shared an armrest for 4 hours and also helped each other with that crossword puzzle in the in-flight magazine."

But you can't jump into familiarity. When you approach me and address me casually and use some ridiculous pet name, like we go way back, we have a problem. I received a message on facebook, from someone I do not know, with no mutual friends. His message starts with, "Hello my dear." I'm not your dear. I'm not your anything. (And if you're wondering if a 50-something man tried to hit on me, you're correct.) Delete.

This week I received both a friend request and a message from another random--we have literally nothing in common to suggest how he found me. "You're really pretty. Don't be shy. Can we be friends?" NOPE. Also I don't plan on being shy, I plan on ignoring you. I don't know you. 

You have to let me learn enough that I want to be your friend! Will we have stuff to talk about? What kind of stuff would we do together? Will you send me entertaining snapchats? Can I repeatedly send you links to things I found on youtube? These are things I think about when considering a new friendship. 

It's one thing to introduce yourself to a strange. It's another to act like the introduction is your favorite inside joke and demand their time and attention. Strangers don't owe you anything, so don't be a creep. Not to mention, Random Facebook Guy, I don't know that I want to be friends with Regina "you're really pretty" George. That just makes me think you're going to talk behind my back after I thank you. 

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Time for puppies.

I'm only a few hours into this day and I'm already over it. Life is winning this round, guys. In case you're feeling that way also, here are some puppies. (These are all from the outstanding http://handsomedogs.tumblr.com/, which is exactly what it sounds like.) 



Thursday, December 05, 2013

Still keeping an eye on Netherfield...

I haven't spotted Mr. Darcy in so long that I was beginning to think he fled back to Pemberley for the winter. His car isn't even around that much! (I'm not even going to apologize for sounding creepy because what, are you new here?) (If you are new here you can check out the Netherfield tag and learn just how much I stalk Mr. Darcy.) (Stop interrupting me.) ANYWAY, I know the house isn't empty because there are lights on and other such signs of life. Just no people. 

Until yesterday! Twin and I were leaving the house as Mr. Darcy pulled into his driveway. And then, as we walked down our driveway, Mr. Darcy slowly reversed his car down his own driveway. When we got in the car, I turned to Twin and said, "Well that was it. He was probably checking us out and is now determining that we are barely tolerable. It's all going to plan. ...Also, rude. We are far better than barely tolerable." 

I'll spare you details about Twin's reply, although if you're imagining that she rolled her eyes...you might be right. 

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Wedding Season is upon us.

I'm concerned that I didn't make myself clear in Monday's blog post. I realize that I told you engagement season is upon us, but that didn't mean ALL OF YOU HAD TO GO AND GET ENGAGED. 

After my five wedding summer/autumn, I was pretty excited to take a break. Get away from the place cards, the painful slow dances during which I sit and openly mock happy couples, and hoping there will be attractive men in attendance. (Ok, the mocking is actually pretty fun. But that's not the point!) That's not in the cards, it would seem. It would seem that everyone is against me. It would seem that I'll need to find another All Purpose Dress to wear all summer. It would seem that all of you hate me. I've received three save the date cards for next summer and based on the email I just answered with my mailing address, another is on the way. FOUR WEDDINGS and it's only December 4th. (Weddings in three states and two countries, in case you were keeping track. Which is more than this year's five weddings in three states.) 

However, I have to give a huge shout out to all five of this year's weddings. Every single one of you skipped the bouquet toss, saving me a feigned urgent phone call or possibly a post-breakup fit in the bathroom after being pushed to the dance floor because I'm single. Also, A+ music selections this year. Brides, you're the best. High fives to each of you. 

I can only hope this next crop of weddings can live up to such praise. It's going to be a long holiday season. 

Monday, December 02, 2013

Relationship Exit Ramps

Take a minute and examine your relationship status. 

Now get used to it. (If you're in the US, that is. If you're not, we'll have this conversation again in a couple weeks.) With Thanksgiving over and Hanukkah in full swing, we are in Winter Holiday Season. Winter holidays are a minefield for relationships. There's family, presents, and so many social engagements. Movies teach us that snow falling is the perfect opportunity for romance. (Have I mentioned that the Hallmark Channel is showing Christmas movies 24/7?) 

After Christmas, it's New Year's and Valentine's Day. We're in Winter Holiday Season until St. Patrick's Day finally shows up. Right now? Your relationship is in a holding pattern.** If you're dating someone and it's even fairly serious, consider yourself in that until late February. If you've been harboring thoughts of ending it, you missed your chance--there are no exit ramps on Relationship Highway between Thanksgiving and Valentine's Day. What, are you going to leave him single for Christmas, with his whole family asking where you are? Presents with your name on them left under the tree? Or will he have to lie about you; tell his family you got called in to work and yeah, it IS really shitty? Are you going to wait until after Christmas but leave her scrambling for midnight plans on December 31st? And you're definitely not going to be the guy who breaks up with her before Valentine's Day, "the most romantic holiday". (Try really hard not to be that guy.) There is no good way to end something at this time of year. (Unless you're a douche, and then it's always breakup season, because you're a terrible human being.) The only way your relationship can change is to get MORE serious. More committed. It's proposal season, guys. So unless moving in together was part of your holiday plan, you're just trying to maintain the status quo until the snow has melted. 

If you're single, this isn't a great season for you either. I mean, how many people want to go on a blind date just in time to find you a Christmas present? And risk getting invited to your office holiday party? It's a high-pressure time for dating. I was supposed to go on a blind date the week before Christmas and he asked if we could reschedule. That was 2010. And see, ANOTHER holiday season has arrived and now he'll have to wait--AGAIN. He'll call this spring, maybe. No pressure. You guys think he'll call, right? He's supposed to be really cute. He'll probably call as soon as the date holidays settle down. I'm not worried.

Where were we? Oh yeah. Relationship Highway. No exit ramps. Late February. Except all the engagements that I may or may not be unfortunately anticipating. 





**Casual relationships, where both parties are aware that it's casual, have a less strict set of rules. 

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Holiday Time is Family Time.

Well readers, tomorrow is Thanksgiving (in the US) and that's just the tip of the family holiday iceberg. From now until the new year, it's family time. I have a pretty large extended family, so I see them in small groups to celebrate. My mom has already started calling us and throwing out dates to find out if she can confirm plans with Uncle B's family and all Dad's cousins and the neighbors. I have a lot of great people in my life and I'm thankful to have them blah blah blah--but let's be honest, it's a lot of family time.

If your life is anything like mine (and by that I mean A MESS) then you're probably dreading that moment when the conversational spotlight shines on you. Even great family time can be difficult when you don't know how to tell your aunts that you don't have plans for babies right now. Your job? Your apartment? Your relationship? Your future? Uhhh....those are good questions!....Answer them? Um...

I could give you some simple tips that I've used over the years. Ask questions first! Keep the spotlight on others. Focus on the successful areas of your life, no matter how small! Keep your head up! BORING. Instead, I've come up with a few suggestions to make this family time both more tolerable and also more fun. 

Here are my four suggestions for better family time this holiday season--and really all year long. (Ok...I had five suggestions, but one was just "Get to the gin as quickly as possible," and that's rather boring...so FOUR suggestions!) 

1. Pretend everything is a road trip word game. Answer every question with another question--first one to use a sentence loses. Choose a famous person in your head and answer questions as if your family is trying to guess who that person is. (I'll be...Beyonce. Are you seeing anyone? Yes. Is it serious? Yeah, I'd say so. What does he do? He's in entertainment. Where is he today? With his daughter. How's work going? Really, really well. Get it?) Choose a buzzword and deduct a point anytime someone says it. Announce the winner over dessert. 

2. Hunger Games. No, don't hide under furniture and kill your family. But ask yourself, what would Katniss do? She's a survivor, and she just wants to get through the bullshit and go home. Just like you. So imagine that President Snow is scrutinizing your every move. Katniss knows when to put on a smile and when to rebel. She finds allies and stays away from the Careers. She keeps her emotions out of this. Be Katniss. 

3. Search for Horcruxes. You are Harry Potter (or Ron or Hermione) and you have to save the wizarding world. If Lord Voldemort is living among your family, and hiding Horcruxes--what would they be? Where are they? And where is Lord Voldemort? You have a serious mission, Boy Who Lived. 

4. Hallmark Movie. If your biggest problem this season is your failed/nonexistent/complicated relationship, this is the plan for you. Hallmark has been showing silly Christmas movies nonstop for weeks now, and I may or may not watch them when I can't fall asleep at night. (Quite the sedative.) Along the way, I've learned a thing or two about these movies. I could write half a dozen, easily. In many of these movies, the main character has an overbearing family who expect to meet their significant other this holiday season. And somehow, they have ended up single. What's a main character to do? Invent a significant other, of course! You can concoct an elaborate story about your relationship (and why it's been a secret...) and then concoct a fabulous but reasonable excuse for their absence and spin fairy tales all night! If you're really committed, you can hire an actor/convince a handsome stranger/beg a single, attractive friend to be your new love interest! Just watch out for any meddling Santa Claus figures--you're sure to stumble onto some mistletoe. 


Let me know if you come up with anything else.
Happy Assorted Winter Holidays! 

Monday, November 25, 2013

My thoughts are all over the place today.

The holidays are quickly approaching and it has me thinking about all the reunions that are bound to happen. Reunions and labels are on my mind today.

With the exception of my middle school years, I've never paid a lot of attention to astrology. Middle school was when we were discovering Cosmo and Seventeen Magazine and reading our horoscopes in the back during sleepovers, desperately hoping they were correct and that some hottie WOULD ask for our number around the full moon, despite the fact that we didn't know any hotties and what on earth would we do if one actually spoke to us?

By now, fully aware that Cosmo lies and that hotties never in fact ask for your phone number, I'll glance at my predicted fate as I flip through magazines on an airplane or waiting for an appointment. (You never read old horoscopes, though--I learned that it's bad luck from a friend in Guatemala and I like that idea.) I would occasionally find my horoscope cut from the newspaper and tucked into a letter from my grandma during college. I found that rather charming and they're all taped into journals somewhere. I know my sign and the accompanying personality trademarks. 

I was born right on the cusp of Gemini and Cancer, so depending on the horoscope I can be either one. It came in handy during sleepovers--I would lay claim to whichever future sounded better. (And still may or may not do the same while I wait at the dentist.) 

Silly or not, I think my zodiac signs are actually quite fitting. (I can feel many of you skeptically rolling your eyes. Stop that.) Geminis are adaptable, talkative multitaskers. The idea of the twins is that their moods change quickly.  Geminis are a party...and somewhat fickle. I love meeting people. I love a good adventure and I travel as often as possible. (I'm sure you're well aware, considering how often I abandon you all.) To say that I'm well acquainted with Detroit Metro Airport is an understatement. 

Cancers, however, are homebodies. (It's the shelled-creature thing.) They have a maternal, protective instinct towards their loved ones. They also have an aversion to sharing their feelings. I've always loved coming home. Part of the fun of going on an adventure is knowing that home is waiting for you whenever it's over. I love having an anchor. 

(Did you notice that I skipped over that "sharing feelings" nonsense?) 

So. My zodiac signs work for me. I'm ok with those labels. But what about the ones that don't work for me? Lately I've been struggling with getting over labels from your past. Some of it is unavoidable. Family members you see once a year will ask about your boyfriend over Christmas dinner. Last Christmas he was a big topic, so how are they supposed to know that you haven't spoken in six months? You explain that he's a dick, refill your gin and tonic, and move on.** Those are the easy ones, though. Sometimes it's a bit trickier. What do you do when friends expect you to be an older version of the person they knew in high school? How do you explain a decade of changes? Why on earth should you have to? 





**CHRISTMAS FORESHADOWING?

Thursday, November 21, 2013

More Questions for Couples...

Hey couples, I have another question for you. If you're not too busy making out with each other and sharing headphones in public, acting like that doesn't bother anybody. 

Facebook has options for you. You have the choice to link to each other's pages, telling the world who you're dating. (Or married to, or involved in some undefined situation with, or whatever. Options!) And you can choose to make that super public if you want. (Unless you're my ex, in which case it'll be hidden from the world. Options.) But you can announce it! LOOK EVERYBODY AT THIS PERSON I GET TO BANG. (Or not bang, because sometimes people wait or opt out of that. OPTIONS.) 

With all these choices afforded to you by social media, why oh why oh why are some of you creating joint facebook pages

You heard me. Joint facebook accounts. Like a joint checking account, but for your birthday greetings. This is apparently not an isolated incident that I've witnessed, but rather a fairly common occurrence. Bitter Amanda and Ryan Gosling start dating and then after things get serious, Bitter Amanda and Ryan Gosling delete their facebook pages and create the brand new RyanandBitter Gosling facebook page. Because they're so connected that they can't deal with a separate identity on the internet anymore. WE'RE A COUPLE. Birthdays? Nope, we have an anniversary now. We'll sign our initials by posts that come from one of us, but let's be honest--we agree on everything now so it doesn't matter. 

WHY DOES THIS HAPPEN? If Ryan Gosling thinks I'm deleting my facebook for him, he is dead wrong. I have different interests and favorites, Ryan. You'll have to deal with that. 

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Couple Stuff I Don't Understand (Part One)

I have a serious question for couples out there. (Yes, current couples only. It doesn't count if you used to be in a relationship, because if you were any good at it you'd still be in one. Your opinion doesn't count right now.) (Don't take that so personally--I have to include myself in there. Which is why I'm asking for opinions.) (Stop distracting me from the task at hand.)

So, couples. Sometimes when you go out to eat, you end up being seated at a booth. Very few booths are meant for two people, so they're often bigger. Four seats for two people. It's an embarrassment of riches, to be able to choose your seat from so many options! 

So why do you choose to sit on the same side?!? It's ridiculous. You look ridiculous. How do you talk to each other? Unless you're at Buffalo Wild Wings trying to watch the game and you're facing the same television and don't intend to talk to each other, then how do you chat during dinner? Why crane your neck the whole time? There's a perfectly good bench on the other side! 

On top of that, I immediately become suspicious of where your hands are. Are you being sketchy over Thai food? I'm trying to eat here--I WILL call a hand check if I have to. You're gross. 

So, couples--what's the deal? 

Monday, November 11, 2013

Types of People I've Blocked on Facebook

I shared a link on my facebook page last week, about annoying facebook engagement posts. You and I were definitely on the same page--we're sick of hearing about it. The Beyonce jokes, song lyrics dedicated to your best friend, the loooooooooong posts about how he proposed. We hate it. 

And while I absolutely agree, I think it's fair to point out the OTHER facebook posts I hate. Engaged friends, it's not just you! So here are a couple types of status updates that make me reevaluate our friendship--at least on social media. 

The New Mommy
Congratulations. Really. I mean it--well done on the kid. I definitely think you should post about your baby from time to time. I want to know when they're born. Your toddler swore? TELL ME EVERYTHING. Yes, I want to see the Halloween costume. (I was literally texting people looking for those pictures this year. Yeah, it's weird.) 
But let's not lose our heads, ok? Does EVERY update you post have to tell me in excruciating detail what your infant did all day? Can't you just email that crap to the grandparents? (They're not even doing that much yet!)
On top of that, you're serving as an ambassador to the childless--and you're totally dropping the ball. Every post about exploding diapers and crying all night long makes me contemplate looking up a reasonably priced chastity belt on amazon.com. You're killing us here. 

Jesus Take the Wheel
I knew a woman who would post at least once a day thanking Jesus for some material thing in her life. I shit you not, one day she thanked Jesus for sending a granola bar to her desk in the middle of the morning when she super needed a snack. This is the most boring post in the world, and including Jesus doesn't make it any less boring. Step up your game. That's not going to get any likes!
(Guys, I don't hate Jesus. Just boring posts.)

The Vegan
I'm happy you found a lifestyle that you're happy about. BUT I CAN'T READ ANY MORE POSTS ABOUT BEING A VEGAN. Particularly when half the time you complain about missing mozzarella sticks and the other half you're casually and self-righteously calling me a murderer. (Excuse me, but at most I'm an accessory to the crime.) We all make choices, and you chose a mozzarella stick-free lifestyle. I'm sure there's some quinoa substitute on pinterest--and I'm sure you'll post it later and add that you "couldn't even tell the difference!!!" Sure. Whatever works for you. 

The Newlywed
It's interesting how you've taken up the challenge of finding a way to include "my hubby" into every single status update. I get it--you got married. You love your spouse. You're blissful in your newlywed bubble. Shut up now please.

The Ultrasound
Gross. Just gross. 


Saturday, November 09, 2013

Maturity is hard.

I really try to be a fully formed adult. I'm pretty good about buying fabric softener and picking up my prescriptions before it's an emergency. I can always find a bandaid and almost never wear my onesie in public. (When I do, it is for a very good reason.) I might finally know what I want to be when I grow up and I'm part of a book club. That's all very adult stuff, wouldn't you agree? 

Part of this grown up I'm almost 30 attitude has been letting go of anger towards my ex. I mean, it'll never be ok and I'll never understand it, but directing my anger 24/7 at just one person was exhausting--and quite frankly it was limiting. There are so many things to be angry about! 


Sometimes...it is hard to be mature. 


Between all the Halloween merchandise that just left stores and the Christmas explosion that has just arrived, shopping has been particularly difficult. My ex works for a pretty well-known company. And I know what products they make and I have a pretty good idea what products he himself had a hand in. With all that knowledge, it's very tempting to have a not-so-adult moment and turn all the packaging backwards. Or hide them. Or sweep the lot of it off the shelf in a fit of rage. Most of the time I roll my eyes and bite my tongue to keep from telling other shoppers to take their business elsewhere, to companies that do not employ my ex. It wouldn't really do any good--the company would still make money and then the Target employees would hate me. No, that method would only earn me a reputation as Pathetic Jilted Lover and that's so clichéd. I can do better than that. 


I mean, if I'm going to go that route, I'll definitely put on my onesie first. 




Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Another letter to facebook...

Dear Facebook,

We meet again. Why is it always you? Why is it that whenever there's a social media problem, you're at the root of it? 

I have a request. This isn't like that time I complained about your new format. (ALL THOSE TIMES.) This is a legit concern. And I think I speak for a lot of us with this one. 

Our exes are on facebook. It's unavoidable. (Actually, a lot of my exes gave up facebook--my internet presence is so powerful, it would seem, that they gave it up altogether. Yes, you may bow and kiss my ring.) But COLLECTIVELY, our exes are on facebook. And sometimes we like to check up on them. Even if they unfriended us. On our birthday. (...hypothetically.) 

Sometimes you just have to know. So you hop on over to their page and click around. Hm, new girlfriend? I guess she's cute, if you like that conventional girl next door type. You changed your hair. It's long, like I always hated. Still posting gratuitous pictures of cars you'll never own, I see. Your dog is still adorable. Can I have--nope, that's weird. 

We can't help it. Clicking on that profile, that portal to their world...we just want to creep around like the ghost of relationships past. Just to see if they rearranged any furniture, so to speak. Most of us are guilty of this in some way or another. 

But it's dangerous, you see. The longer you click around over there, the more you're tempting fate. If you go through a dozen profile pictures, two new albums, and the last two months of timeline...you're going to click like. And you are going to regret it. You stare at the screen for a second in disbelief. You hover over "unlike" trying to debate the merits of undoing your mistake. Did the notification already go through? Have I caught it in time? Is there a facebook equivalent of the 5 second rule? If I unlike it, won't that show that I didn't mean to do it, and therefore catch me in my own web of stalking? Should I own it? Yes, I liked your status update! Thumbs up! 

Those 15 seconds of turmoil are enough to make you swear off this habit, like a college student nursing a hangover. 

So, facebook, isn't it time you helped us out? I'm not asking for much--just a little seatbelt for my tours through my romantic past. A way to help me keep my hands and arms inside the tram. Like a creeper setting. Just browsing--disable anything but browsing. Or a little confirmation message. "You've listed this person as your ex. Are you sure you want to like their cover photo?" Think about it. 

Hook us up. We're begging you. Your move, facebook. 
Solitarily yours,
Bitter Amanda

Monday, November 04, 2013

Family Outing

I went out with my niece and nephew this weekend. Yes, they're adults. My niece is a new 21, so it was the first time we've gone out. The three of us, along with their significant others, started out night at an arcade. (It's this bar that has a whole arcade game section. It's fine, if you're into air hockey.) The boys have this definite bond and ditched us immediately. That left us to judge the people there on dates--a surprisingly high number. 

Fortunately, the arcade didn't last long. We headed out to a different bar, which none of us had been to before. I started the night with some random sitting at the bar staring at me. A while later, he was hovering sort of near our table. Checking facebook on his phone. The five of us exchanged looks...do you know him? What's his deal? Nope, never seen him before. After a few minutes, my niece said, "Hi, are you single?" He looked a little startled and said yes. "She's single, too." She pointed at me. He looked away and my niece informed him that was rude. He turned back and put his phone away, said hi. "Amanda, he's tall. Stand up and see how tall he is." He introduced himself to us and sort of joined our table. 

Conversation was...sort of awkward? We chatted, but I felt no problem abandoning him to get up and dance. He hung around with us all night. He asked me several times how I was getting home, if I lived far, and informing me that he lived five minutes away from the bar. I GET IT, ok? 

Outside the bar at the end of the night, he asked if he could take me to dinner. I passed on giving him my number. He's a 22 year old European man here for his job. 22. He's a baby. He was cute but if I'm honest, I'm not sure what we'd talk about over dinner. He's the kind of guy you make out with in some corner of the bar and then sneak away from, leaving not even your lost shoe for him to track you down. Thanks, that was fun. (You can judge all you want, but at least I'm honest about it.) And I wasn't going to make out with him in front of my niece and nephew. I'm not exactly a conventional aunt to them, but that's a line I'm going to leave uncrossed. 

OH--nephew's wife also tried to hook me up with the bouncer. Meeting the 6'4" wall of a man, he looked me up and down twice before telling me I was a beautiful girl. (Surprisingly, I was not charmed by the action.) Then asked for my number. Pass, thank you. 

Laughing over pancakes at IHOP after last call, I was glad I hadn't gone home with the 22 year old or the bouncer. It was, however, worth it to watch my niece act as my wingwoman. 

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

It's hard to break up with his itunes collection.

There is nothing quite like a breakup to make you realize just how digital our relationships have become. I'm not talking about online dating--I'm talking about the digital fingerprint that people leave on our lives. It's so much bigger than deleting a contact. First you have to unfriend/unfollow them on every social media site. You may or may not untag pictures. And then you're done, right? 

Nope. Just getting started. I've particularly struggled with my last breakup because of the whole long-distance thing. It puts a lot of your relationship online. Do you delete all the pictures? Or save them to some buried file so that you still have a few in fifty years when you're over it? (On top of that, my ex worked somewhere that created apps, among other things. My phone was a museum of our relationship.) I found a small bit of relief when I had to replace my phone and his apartment wireless stopped popping up on my list of wi-fi options. (Out of range, of course, but still in my phone's memory.)

Do you save anything from old relationships? I have a friend who has an item of clothing from each of her exes. For me, it's music. I've discovered that I always end up accumulating music because of boyfriends. I can tell you the favorite band of every ex-boyfriend--at least, whatever his favorite band was while we were together. It's because those bands still pop up on my itunes. It's the only thing I feel comfortable keeping around. When the end is fresh and still shitty, I skip past them. But deleting them always feels like an injustice. Those bands ended up on my ipod because I liked the way my boyfriend talked about them. I liked their excitement about having me listen to a favorite song. I ended up liking a lot of those songs...so they stay. 

On one visit, the Ex filled up a flash drive with music I should try. Admittedly, I only liked some of it--but I gave it a try. When it was over, some of those things went the way of his company's apps. And sorry, but I'll never like E.T.--so that score was out. As I deleted files, I was feeling better. I was pulling him out of my life. But then I got to the favorites--the ones he wanted me to hear. The ones he was excited to talk about. And I hesitated. Maybe one day those songs won't make me angry--they'll just go in the gallery of exes and join the list of bands I like because a cute boy said I might. 


Wednesday, October 23, 2013

PSA

I spent this weekend in the city where I left part of my frozen heart: Northampton. The wedding of a Smith College friend brought us together for a serious weekend of craziness and fun and dancing. We spent Friday night catching up with everyone at our bar, and then had the MOST BIZARRE experience. Several of us left the bar together, and stood together on the street for a few minutes before we parted ways. We talked about, among other things: Finland, Minnesota, psyching yourself up before a presentation, and embarrassing yourself before a presentation. During this 10 or 15 minutes, we were loud. It was a Friday night downtown in a college town--no need for an inside voice. 

And the WHOLE FREAKING TIME, this couple stood two feet away making out. They were really going at it. 

Seriously.

It was disgusting--find somewhere more private than a street corner! WHY ARE YOU MAKING OUT ON A STREET CORNER? Take that shit inside somewhere! At least stand in a shop doorway or something! 

Why would you want an audience for that? I'm hoping they were drunk, because that's the only reason I've ever been slightly less concerned about witnesses. DON'T DO THAT SHIT IN PUBLIC.

Unless I make out with Ryan Gosling, in which case I don't give a damn who sees.


Thursday, October 17, 2013

This is a post about football. Yes, really.

I'm trying to learn about football. 

Trying. 

I suppose I've been inactively trying to figure out the rules for about a decade, and during my high school years I made a very serious effort. I was in the marching band, so I had a pretty decent opportunity every week--I was required to be at the games anyway. Despite all this, I still don't really get it. Somehow my brain just can't wrap itself around the sport. (By the way, non-US readers, I am in fact talking about American football. Just to clear that up.) 

But this year, I'm trying and perhaps making some progress. The goal is to participate in fantasy football next year--I've been invited to join and honestly? I have a lot of ideas. I can't say much yet, but you're going to want to stick around for that accompanying blog. (Actually, in the meantime you can read this blog, which is following the author's first year of fantasy football, and it's fantastic.)

So what's the catalyst for some of these football facts actually sticking? Good question. When a bunch of us meet weekly for beers and catching up, sometimes we also reprimand each other for choices in our dating lives. (Also sometimes we high five choices. And sometimes a friend makes a choice that earns high fives from some and Disapproving Looks from others. Ok, it's usually me making those controversial decisions.) ANYWAY. This week, B had a lot to share. His relationships have been a straight up rollercoaster lately. So naturally, as any good friends would, we scrutinize and judge his decisions. Because we care. As there was a football game going on at the same time, M took the opportunity to teach me football rules in relationship terms. 

It was genius. I have a pretty good sense of holding, and I DEFINITELY understand when there's a flag on the play. I might finally have a grasp on this! 

I mean, or not. We'll have to see if it sticks, first. Good thing football isn't over for MONTHS AND MONTHS. (I'm trying, you guys, but old habits die hard.) 

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Fangirl.

Look at the button a friend bought me! The cutest...now I'm not only stalking Mr. Darcy (and dreaming about him--that's a story for another day...) but I'm also his biggest fan. 


Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Flirting: A Primer

**UPDATE: In my haste to post this, I FORGOT my most reliable move. Apologies. See bottom of post. 

A few days ago I found myself having to explain the different types of flirting I have in my arsenal. My audience seemed surprised--by what, I am still not entirely sure. That I would have variety in my game? That I have any game at all? (Likely.) That I would see the need for more than one kind of flirting? That I could control which level I'm using? I have no idea, but I explained myself all the same. And naturally decided I should provide some illumination for you all, as well. 

The No. Not flirting. I know, it's obvious. But I had to start the scale somewhere. 


The Fundraiser. I call it this because...well, I am constantly at fundraisers. This is the type of flirting you engage in when it's the nice, polite (and helpful--sorry for telling the truth) thing to do. Like when you're asking people for money. If you've ever been roped into selling 50/50 tickets then you know exactly what I'm talking about. Men ask if you'll deliver the prize to them if they win and you smile and tell them they have to buy a ticket to find out, when really you'd like to gag and make A Face at them. The latter is no way to raise money. This kind of flirting is more about charming people.


The Classic. This is reserved for when you're at a party, a bar, an event, whatever. There's someone cute and you're single. Whereas fundraiser flirting is often done out of obligation, this one is genuine. I'm not trying to get you to buy me a drink (see next item). This one is just for fun. It's not about the outcome. You don't care if they ask you out or get your number. (I prefer if they don't, but that's a personal thing.) This is my favorite. 


The Shrew. I call it this because this is the shit I hate. It's what I call any kind of flirting that is self-serving. It's women who get a man to buy them a drink and then walk away without another glance. It's trying to make someone jealous. It's picking a target to be your prop and not hesitating when you walk away after achieving your goal. This one is not in my repertoire. Ugh. 


The Mission. You absolutely care if they ask you out, take you home, or get your number. You care so much. This is about a goal. This is all your best moves. Yeah, you might fail, but you'll do it spectacularly. This is about making something happen. 


The Ryan Gosling. This is when someone is so attractive that you're flirting with them before you even realize it. You don't have time to think it over or rationalize it or map a plan--they're just that attractive. 


Did I miss any of your moves? 




UPDATE: Yes, I did miss one. One of MY moves. 

**The Traveling Salesman. This one. Ah, this one. This one is the best, as far as I'm concerned. Sure, The Classic is my favorite, because it's no pressure fun. But The Traveling Salesman...that's my most successful. The Traveling Salesman is flirting in any situation where one or both of you are on the move. He's in town on vacation, or maybe you've traveled to a wedding. Whatever the situation, this relationship is not a long term option. Which makes it perfect. As a friend pointed out, there is a built-in exit strategy. You definitely want to make something happen, but you don't care if he asks for your phone number--because you're on a different continent. You'll never have to see him again! Who cares if he calls? 


Thursday, October 03, 2013

Quick update while my cupcakes are in the oven...

October's only just started and already I'm a disaster. Which is, I suppose, my way of saying that everything is pretty standard around here! Anyway, I've got cupcakes baking, so let's see what's new...

Last weekend I learned that I am NOT the world's worst bartender, when I volunteered to pour beer at a local fundraiser. Being behind the taps is a great way to scope out all the men coming through and talk to all of them--but only for a moment. Then they have to leave! It's perfect. Also, the guys who work for the beer distributor told me I was doing a great job, even when I made The Face at patrons. (That would be my "no fucks left to give" face.) And when I lied to them. (Ok, so these two old ladies ordered root beer--the brewery also makes their own--and came back up to tell me it was flat. Ladies, that shit just came out of a keg. I made The Face and turned back to the growing line of people. They said it again, so I told them it was brewed that way. I may have said something about "small batch brewing" even though I DON'T KNOW WHAT THAT MEANS, made The Face again, and then continued pouring beer. One of the beer guys was laughing to himself, so I think that means he heard me. He didn't stop me, though. And by the way, no one complained about the root beer for the rest of the night, so I'm guessing either it was fine or word got around about the whole small batch flat root beer thing.) 

This month I'm in and out of town pretty regularly. I have a couple fundraisers to attend, some family things (but with the fun family members), a conference, and--because it's been so long since I attended one--a wedding. The bride and groom have foolishly and dangerously offered me a modicum of power at this wedding, so naturally I'm pretty excited. At least, I will be excited until they wrest the power away from me after I become drunk from it. 

I can't tell you much about the conference yet, but there is plenty of room for me to make a fool of myself, so that's something to look forward to--for all of you, anyway. 

Since we're catching up today, I thought I'd leave you with a picture. I've been going through bookshelves, trying to get my life in order. (Oh, and also trying to find a job HAHA.) Over the course of this blog, I've accumulated various books about relationships, in hopes that they might prove useful in my writing. Most of them are from used book sales and friends who've gifted them. It paints a very interesting picture of my life, particularly if you didn't know about this blog. 

PS--Seeing a lot of new traffic here lately--craziness!--so welcome! Unless you're one of my exes or those ladies who complained about their root beer.

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

A Congressional Interlude.

Alright...I don't tend to talk politics around here, although if you've been around long enough you've likely gained some insight on my views. But it's a slow news day for me. Sorry--no ex boyfriend ranting today.

Today I'm embarrassed. Generally, there is a lot about the US that makes me proud, even though that can be an unpopular opinion. It's not perfect. But I know a lot of people who do a pretty awesome job representing this country. 

Not today. I'm embarrassed that our elected officials have decided to put their own agenda first. Last night at midnight the US government shut down. They shut down because they couldn't agree on a budget--or health care. They disagree on providing affordable health care options to Americans and the end result is a Congressional temper tantrum. Congress adjourned at midnight and took their toys home. They met again at 9:30 this morning. Until they resolve the budget, hundreds of thousands of government employees are not working or getting paid. Still more--essential employees--are working without pay. Some of these positions are jobs you could certainly never convince me to take...people like air traffic controllers and prison guards. 

The good news is that at least members of Congress are still getting paid during this shutdown. Over $600 each day. 

This is embarrassing. Today I am not proud of what we're doing. I've said it before but I'll repeat myself--this is a piss-poor example we're setting for young people. They deserve more from us. What I am proud of is all the people going to work and doing their jobs without a paycheck. I'm proud of the people who care about their jobs so much that they're not celebrating these unexpected days off. I wish more members of Congress felt that way. If they did, perhaps they would not have adjourned at midnight and gone home to get a solid night's sleep before starting again. Perhaps they would have done what many of us do when faced with a deadline--keep working and do the job in front of us and sacrifice a little comfort because we didn't do our job

I expect more. I expect better. 

Maybe tomorrow. 

Monday, September 30, 2013

Getting back to dating?

I went on a date. 

It was my first post-relationship date. We have mutual friends and after we met he got my number and texted me a picture of his dog. (As far as I'm concerned, that's like sending me flowers.) We met for drinks that weekend and we talked for a few hours. He made me laugh and then drove me home. 

It was remarkably normal. It wasn't dramatic, sweeping love at first sight, but it wasn't a disaster. I didn't do anything stupid or embarrassing. I didn't talk about my ex. He didn't say anything that threw up a red flag. He was really cool and I had a nice time. I smiled when he texted me a few days later. 

And while it did make me realize that I'm fine "getting back out there" or whatever nonsense everyone keeps telling me, it also made me realize that I'm totally not into anything serious right now. So it wasn't a total loss. 

The other thing I keep hearing is to try internet dating. I'm telling you, I am the worst candidate for internet dating. I'm not saying that because I'm terrified I'll meet a serial killer and have my story told in a Lifetime movie, although that thought does live in the back of my mind. (Get someone awesome to play me. Seriously, you have my permission to start weird internet campaigns, in the event of my untimely internet dating demise.) I just know myself, and I know that I'm way too quick to judge when it comes to reading bios. I can find something wrong with every profile and never feel the need to talk to anyone. I do much better in person. I give people more of a chance when I meet them face to face. If your profile is all about your love of football, I'm clicking away immediately. But if I meet someone who's really into football but he talks about it in an engaging and interesting way, then I'm considering him. 

Internet dating just makes me feel like I should take a self-defense class. Besides, who has time for internet dating when there's a neighbor to stalk? 

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Mountain Day!

Today is a major holiday. At least, for myself, fellow alums, and current students of Smith College. It's Mountain Day! Mountain Day is one of the best traditions from my alma mater...waking up to all the college bells ringing on a lovely, random fall day because, according to the college president, it's too beautiful to go to class. Everyone gets the day off. We spent my Mountain Days going to brunch, apple picking, a trip to Shelburne Falls, and always frolicking outside. It's a wonderful tradition, made even better because Smith emails all the alums to tell them it's Mountain Day and then I spend 20 minutes on facebook liking everyone's nostalgic Mountain Day updates. We live vicariously. I'm hoping to find time to go outside and frolic later. It's good for the soul. 

As long as Mr. Darcy isn't in his yard when I do. If he is, I'll have to frolic in the front yard or in the park. 

Find some time to sneak outside for some fresh air today!