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 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? 


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 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! 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 clich├ęd. 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'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 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.