Tuesday, September 22, 2009

"When you least expect it"

It’s amazing to recognize a moment when your life changes forever...to be fully aware that things will never be the same again.

I’ve had two of these moments over the past couple of months. The first happened after I was accepted to the grad program I’d been waiting all summer to hear from. My reaction was a combination of emotions: shock, joy, fear. This was followed by a three day trip to pro-con list hell. It was a seemingly impossible decision - there were so many factors, so many complications. Then, I decided to move to Chicago. The second I made my decision, I knew I’d reached a point of no return. My life was about to move forward…rapidly.

The second moment requires a bit more detail.

“It always happens when you least expect it.” Gag. This is one of those clichĂ© phrases that make single people want to rip their eyes out. For me, it’s up there with, “you’ll meet someone when you’re ready” and “don’t worry, someday you’ll find someone who is perfect for you.” Although I've earned my distate for these particular phrases in the past few years, I won't suggest that they’re devoid of at least a little bit of truth and wisdom.

When I met Michigan on the Fourth of July, a relationship was the furthest thing from my mind. I was looking toward the future, and planning to have a little fun before beginning my new adventure in New York (or so I thought). But, as I explained in my last post, barely a month later my plan to “have a little fun” while I waited for my departure date, started going horribly awry. The more time I spent with Michigan, the harder I fell. I fell a little harder…

…every time we discovered something else we have in common - from cheesy music and even cheesier old movies, to religion and family values.

…the first time he cooked me dinner…along with about five back up options, just in case I didn’t like something.

…each time he offered to drive down to my parent’s house to take me on a date…even if it meant he had to sit in two and a half hours of traffic and meet my entire family.

…because he took the time to ask around for restaurant suggestions in my area, and showed up at my parent’s house with a plan…and several sets of printed directions.

…when, after showing up early for another date down in my neck of the woods, he chatted politely and attentively (and with just enough nervousness to be incredibly endearing) with my parents for ten minutes while I finished drying my hair, but was rendered completely speechless by the sight of me walking down the hall. This won my mom over as well.

…when he got uncharacteristically nervous while asking if he could take me to San Francisco for Labor Day weekend. I fell even more when I saw the look on his face after I said “yes.”

…during every second of our trip to San Francisco, which ended up being one of the best weekends of my life.

…during my last night in California, when he spent four hours in the hospital waiting room, while I took care of Girl Roommate, who ended up in the emergency room after falling and cutting her wrist on some broken glass.

But most importantly, I fell because he did all of this in a way that let me know it gives him genuine pleasure to make me happy. Maybe it was because I wasn’t looking. Maybe it was because I was ready. Maybe it was because he’s perfect for me. I have no idea.

What I do know, is that the moment he looked at me and said, “It’s only been two months, but I’m crazy in love with you,” is a moment I'll remember for the rest of my life. No matter what happens next, that moment changed everything. For the very first time, it was the easiest, most natural thing in the world for me to say, “I’m in love with you too.”

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Blindsided

There is a 98.9 percent chance that I'll be starting graduate school at NYU in early September. The 1.1 percent uncertainty is due to the fact that I still haven’t heard from a couple of schools - one of which I’ve wanted to attend my whole life, but was brutally rejected (well, just rejected, but it felt brutal at the time) when I applied during high school. Regardless, I’m leaving the state, and therefore not looking to get caught up in a romantic relationship here in California. Yet - quite possibly as a result of this detached attitude - I’ve been attracting quite a bit of male attention.

During April and May, I was so busy balancing work with studying for the GREs and compiling my grad school applications, I barely had time to notice that I was living with my parents and had absolutely no trace of a social life. But once the GREs were over and the applications were submitted, I realized that I was restless and ready for some fun. So, I started spending most weekends with Girl Roommate in my old stomping grounds.

On Fourth of July, Girl Roommate threw a party at her new apartment. For most of the day, I was bouncing around, playing flip cup, talking to my old friends and making new friends. I was having so much fun in my temporary role as a social butterfly, I barely noticed that one of Girl Roommate’s new friends, Michigan, was following me around.

In fact, I didn’t really notice him at all until he asked me if there was any way to remove the bright red fruit punch stain from the front of his white t-shirt, without the help of a stain remover or a washing machine (Girl Roommate has neither). Always up for a challenge, I told him that our best bet was to soak the stain in club soda, and put the shirt in a plastic shopping bag to keep it moist until he could get it to a washing machine. Of course, I had NO IDEA if that would actually work, but at the time, I felt like I could give Martha Stewart a run for her money.

Clearly impressed with my stain-removal expertise, Michigan asked if he could take me to dinner sometime, you know, “as a thank you.” Partially due to the fact that after an afternoon of flip cup, I probably would have accepted a dinner date with Mr. Rogers, I agreed. Bonded by our shared domestic emergency, Michigan and I hung out for the rest of the day…and for the rest of the weekend. We never went to dinner, but we did take a romantic walk on the pier, have a private dance party in his kitchen (he is a terrible dancer, but incredibly endearing) and a handful of get-to-know-you conversations about our family and friends.

Michigan is easy to like - he’s sincere, considerate, friendly, good-natured. And masculine. While he isn’t masculine in an obvious way, like J-Dogg, he’s masculine in way that makes me feel very comfortable being feminine. Not only is he attentive, he’s always trying to anticipate my needs. That first weekend, he never missed a chance to help me walk up or down stairs when I insisted on wearing my super-cute, but not-so-practical wedges. He endured hours of back bumps and shoulder jabs after inserting himself between me and a drunkenly rowdy crowd while we waited for Girl Roommate to be ready to go home. He was receptive and respectful when I told him that I needed to wait until I knew him better before being physically intimate (something shockingly uncommon in our town). Surprisingly, he did all this without making me feel the least bit smothered. His manner is understated, genuine, natural.

Ordinarily, I would’ve been very concerned about being too available and spending too much time with Michigan - especially in the beginning. But because I’m leaving, it didn’t even occur to me to care. I was having the time of my life. So, we also spent following weekend together, hanging out with Girl Roommate and his friends, kissing, playing games on the beach and talking. It was easily one of the best weekends of my life.

Over the next couple of weeks, while I was in Colorado at Best Friend From College’s wedding, we texted, talked on the phone and we tried to orchestrate a group camping trip that never got off the ground. Then, Girl Roommate convinced me to come up again last weekend because of a local volleyball tournament and a birthday party for our mutual friend.

Very excited to have me back in town, Michigan left his friends at a bar and took a half-hour cab ride to meet up with us on Friday night. Much later that night, back at a friend’s apartment, I was playing cards with a few of his friends when he came up behind me and whispered, “I'm done sharing you. It's time for me to steal you away.” I laughed and whispered back, “If we leave together, we’re going to get so much crap! How about you casually walk downstairs. I’ll wait 35 seconds and then meet you down there?” He nodded, and without another word, he turned and walked downstairs. By the time my 35 seconds had passed, I’d already completely forgotten the plan and was wrapped up in another hand of cards. He waited patiently. And waited some more. About 40 minutes later, he came back up the stairs, smiled at me and said, “I think we need to review the difference between seconds and minutes.” Laughing, I gave him my best “oops, did I do that?” look, and we went home.

On Saturday morning, we talked about everything from what food we could eat for a month straight without variation (for me, guacamole and chips; for him, pizza) to our career and travel goals. Suddenly famished, we decided to motivate our friends to join us on a field trip to an especially-delicious sandwich shop in a neighboring town. By the time we got to the sandwich shop, I REALLY had to go to the bathroom, so I put Girl Roommate in charge of ordering my sandwich and went to wait in line for the restroom (this is a relevant detail, I swear).

When we got back to Michigan’s apartment, we all sat on the patio to eat our much-anticipated sandwiches. I opened mine to find that Girl Roommate had not taken her sandwich-sitting responsibility very seriously. My sandwich consisted of dry wheat bread and several pieces of turkey. That’s it. No condiments, no lettuce, tomato, onion, or anything else that makes a sandwich a sandwich. Seeing my distressed look, Michigan laughed loudly and immediately got to work. He took my sandwich and began wiping his condiments onto my bread. Then, he asked what else I wanted, and added tomato, onion, lettuce, pickles, olives and jalapeno, per my instructions. When he was finished, he carefully closed the sandwich and presented it to me as if it were sitting on a fancy silver tray.

That was it. It was so simple, but in that moment I knew I was falling for him.

That night, after I put in my appearance at the birthday party, he picked me up and drove me back to his apartment for a movie night. I walked in the door to see that he had arranged his living room like a movie theater. He had also set out red wine (a favorite of mine), candles, and…chips and guacamole. As we snuggled and watched Thomas Crown Affair (another favorite I’d mentioned), I distinctly remember feeling completely content. We spent the next day lying in bed, talking, laughing, telling stories and making out; we didn’t even realize we hadn’t eaten anything until it was almost 5pm. Our perfect weekend concluded with a mini picnic and concert on the beach.

Leaving that night was incredibly hard. But the time that’s past since then, has been even harder. Now that I know I’m falling, I’m scared to death. In what has to be a subconscious attempt to combat my sudden vulnerability, I can’t stop trying to plan how the rest of this is going to play out. I can’t stop thinking about the painful irony of finding someone amazing just weeks before moving across country. I can’t stop thinking that I’m going to leave in a few weeks, and might never see him again. I can’t stop wondering if he’s thinking about any of this…

I realize that none of this thinking will do any good, but I can’t find the “off” switch. It’s only been a month, and it would be ridiculous to make any decisions - to stay local for school, to try long distance, etc. - after only a month. My only choice is to move forward with my life. Packing. Apartment hunting. Class registration. And enjoy the time I have left with Michigan.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Baby steps to being a woman

I recently stumbled upon some old pictures of me as a little girl. I was telling a story to the family cat while sitting in a cooking pan on the kitchen floor; I was taking a nose-dive (and laughing hysterically) after trying to walk in my teenage brother’s oversize cowboy boots; I was tenderly caring for an injured bunny; and striking a dramatic pose on the beach at the age of four. I was curious, compassionate and content. I was also distinctly feminine - sensitive, exuberant, kind and concerned mainly with interpersonal relationships.

Somewhere between the middle of high school and the end of college, a combination of powerful factors convinced me that being feminine was weak. Ridiculous. Undesirable. Since then, I’ve spent a great deal of energy trying to keep my femininity “under control.” I’ve fought (desperately at times) to replace my innate, feminine attributes with independence, competence, intelligence and achievement; two sets of characteristics I regarded as mutually exclusive.

For years, I refused help, avoided vulnerability and focused on setting and accomplishing goals. I pursued men and career with the same assertive determination. I was overly critical of myself and overly sensitive to criticism and rejection. I assumed that striving for perfection was the only guaranteed way to enhance my desirability and self-worth. I believed that achievement would make me more worthy of love and more appealing to the opposite sex. Similarly, I thought men would find me more attractive if I opened my own door, paid for my own dinner, carried my own suitcase, laughed at vulgar jokes I didn’t find funny, was interested in sports, tolerated conversations in which women were objectified (and sometimes blatantly disrespected) and, essentially, tried to be “one of the boys.”

I didn’t need help or chivalry, I didn't want to be treated any differently than a man - I was a feminist.

Now, I have a demanding career and a number of interesting hobbies. I’ve done some traveling and lived in a few different places. I’ve checked a couple items off my life “to-do” list, had a lot of exciting experiences and met a number of fascinating and talented people. I’m a loyal, caring friend, daughter, sister and aunt.

I'm incredibly grateful for all of this. I'm also undeniably lonely.

I live for my family and my friends, but at this point, almost all of them are living for someone else - a boyfriend, girlfriend, husband, wife or child. While this doesn't diminish the joy I get from being part of their lives, it has introduced me to a new kind of loneliness. I used to think this meant I was ready to “settle down” and get married. It didn't.

The loneliness came from the realization that although I didn’t need any help or chivalry, I wanted it. It was an acknowledgement that feminine attributes are attractive to most men, just as masculine attributes are attractive to most women. It was an understanding that while men certainly admire and respect accomplished women, it’s in the same way they admire and respect accomplished men - it is rarely the reason they pursue a woman, or reach out to her with romantic affection. It was an admittance that, in a seemingly important, feminism-inspired attempt to "realize my full potential" and become self-actualized, I was cutting myself off from my most intimate desires and the most honest version of myself.

Basically, it took me 25 years to un-learn and re-learn something that the little girl who liked to sit in cooking pots and pose on the beach, would have never questioned - loving relationships are my most valued source of happiness, accomplishment and satisfaction.

Realizing all of this was overwhelming. But trying to determine where to go from here, has proven to be down-right terrifying. Living my life in fast-foreward has become a crutch - - how do I make peace with the fact that my Tasmanian Devil impression isn't leading anywhere? Is it possible that the whirlwind of pressure, exhaustion, rejection, and anxiety of the past ten years will prove to be my "what not to do" lesson? How do I accept that everything I thought I needed to do, has brought me back to the beginning? How do I learn to embrace vulnerability?

Baby steps.

For now, I'm trying to spend more time "being" rather than "doing." This has proven to be a tall order. Not only am I accustomed to living in one, never ending lightening round, but everyone else is used to me living that way too. So I'm working on not over-promising. I'm working on not feeling quite so responsible for everyone else. I'm working on feeling feminine. For me, that means dancing. Taking baths. Going on walks. Stretching. Reading. Spending time alone. Spending time with my girlfriends. Being quiet. Being silly. Laughing. And most importantly, it means learning to relate to men as a women, instead of a peer.

While some of you may find it outdated or un-liberated, I found the following quote to be honest, relevant and surprisingly timely:

"Funny business, a woman's career; the things you drop on your way up the ladder so you can move faster. You forget you need them until you get back to being a woman. That's one career all females have in common, whether we like it or not; Being a woman. Sooner or later we've got to work at it, no matter how many other careers we've had or wanted. And in the last analysis, nothing's any good unless you can look up just before dinner, or turn around in bed, and there he is. Without that, you're not a woman. You're something with a French provincial office or a book full of clippings. But you're not a woman."

-Bette Davis in All About Eve

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Reintroducing The Accidental Feminist

Months ago, someone questioned the purpose of this blog, and I wasn’t sure how to respond. While I'm going to reserve the right to change my mind again in a week, a month or ten years, this is where I'm coming from today:

I've been known to go on tangents or to "speak" passionately about a certain subject, but I’m honestly not trying to convert anyone to my version of feminism, or tout it as better than any other version. I realize that my wandering path will not resonante with every woman…or even be relevant for every woman. I wouldn't dream of suggesting I understand the struggles other women face on a daily basis - I can barely make sense of my own. Seriously.

My intention is not to judge or influence, but to discuss. I'm trying to open my mind and challenge everything I've ever believed about women, men and feminism. Why? Because after ten or twelve years of banging my head against the wall, I'm (FINALLY) ready to admit that I might be wrong...about a lot. This realization has been confusing, frustrating and frequently met with judgement (from myself, as well as others). I know there are other women who are smart, attractive and successful, yet wonder why they have "bad luck" with love. As someone who is recovering from disastrous stints as a kissing slut, "one of the guys" and a die-hard feminist, I simply want to share my stories while I rediscover my own femininity and pursue a distinct, and completely foreign, type of happiness, balance and satisfaction in my personal life.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

I'm baaaack

For the four or five people who still check this blog (thanks for that, by the way), here is the Cliff Notes version of where I’ve been for the past three months: After a lot of thought and research, I parted ways with Girl and Guy roommate (sniff, sniff), ended things with J-Dogg (yes, again), studied for the GRE (including re-teaching myself how to do long division), drafted my essays, gathered recommendations and applied to graduate school.

Sigh. It’s physically, emotionally and mentally exhausting just thinking about it now.

So, I’m currently living with my parents until I decide where to go to school this fall. It could be New York, Boston, Chicago, Philadelphia or Los Angeles. Possibly even more exciting than the fact that I could be living in a new city in just a couple of months, is the prospect of getting out of my study dungeon and gathering juicy stories to share with you. It’s definitely time for some new adventures.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Sluttly McSlutterson

I had a long overdue appointment with the dentist today, and while I've never really had problems with my teeth, sitting in that chair with my mouth hanging open for an hour isn't my favorite way to spend an afternoon.

But today, I experienced a different kind of horror at the dentist.

As I pushed open the office door, I was immediately met with what can only be described as a "family friendly" atmosphere - complete with a variety of toys on the floor and a half dozen framed photos of the dentist's children decorating the walls. I wandered to the front desk and stood there, waiting for someone to greet me so I could fill out my paperwork and fess up - to myself and to the receptionist - that NO, I don't have dental insurance, and YES, I will be paying for this "out of pocket." Moments later, the receptionist rounded the corner and I was almost suffocated by the overwhelming presence of her enormous, prominently displayed, fake boobs.

This receptionist was probably in her mid-thirties, still young, but not young enough to be able to claim blatant ignorance about what is and is not acceptable office attire. To say she was wearing a cleavage-baring shirt would be a gross understatement. Honestly, she might as well have been wearing a bikini. Admittedly, and with the exception of the over-sized breasts that were easily three cups sizes larger than what would have looked proportional, she had an amazing body - one she had clearly, and obviously, spent a lot of time and money to achieve and maintain. I don't begrudge her that. However, I do begrudge her the "feminist" label.

I wouldn't dare to comment on fake boobs in general...partially because I have boobs, and can't possibly know what it's like not to have them, and therefore want them bad enough to spend thousands of dollars to purchase them. However, the supposedly feminist prerogative to strut one's stuff to whatever extent one desires, and to then be offended if people - especially men - take notice, really annoys me. My experience at the dentist proves that people can't help but notice, be distracted and, if you're a heterosexual man, probably be aroused by such a display of skin. Heck, I was so distracted, that I could hardly keep my eyes off the mammary twins, much less focus on filling out my medical history.

Later, it occurred to me that it's rather hypocritical for a woman wearing revealing clothes to claim sexual harassment when a male colleague compliments her appearance, while men can't claim sexual harassment when provocative clothing distracts them from their work. I don't really see a difference - the man might enjoy the distraction in some capacity, but if the woman chose to wear a low-cut blouse, she was clearly hoping someone would notice.

Obviously, I'm commenting on extreme cases. Certainly, there are slimy men who harass even appropriately dressed women, simply to feel superior and powerful. I happen to think it's great for a woman to look and feel (especially feel) sexy. I don't think we should be forced to wear huge cloaks to hide our bodies simply because men in the workplace might be attracted to us. My annoyance is specifically targeted toward those women who clearly connect "sexy" with "revealing," and figure it's their "feminist right" to shake what their mamma gave them, everywhere and anywhere. Perhaps it is their feminist right, but then I pose the following quandary: HOW CAN WOMEN INSIST ON NOT BEING OBJECTIFIED WHEN WE'RE DOING IT TO OURSELVES?

At the risk of once again sounding quite conservative (is anyone picturing me in a channel suit with a string of pearls and a cup of tea?), I worry that instead of a step toward liberation, the sexual revolution was a step toward permissiveness, promiscuity and sexual confusion. Regardless of your personal views of stripping and pornography, allowing these industries to become mainstream only blurs the lines between a healthy attitude toward sex and the ancient human fascination with exhibitionism. Sex sells, this we know. But that doesn't necessarily mean that its prominence isn't damaging the future of women and society. Could the obsession with sex and the acceptance of things that were once considered dangerous and sleazy, be partially responsible for the fact that as a group, women in American are constantly battling insecurity and depression, while striving to look like porn stars and swimsuit models?

From bearly-there Halloween costumes to Girls Gone Wild, we are teaching ourselves, and future generations, that attractive, fun and sexy are synonymous with slutty. Personally, I think we've gotten ourselves into trouble, with a capital "T."

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Brutal but brilliant

I recently ran across the following nuggets of truth, and I wanted to share:

Nugget 1: Why do I waste my time on someone I know isn't good?
Because you're hoping you're wrong. Everytime they do something to show you they're no good, you ignore it, and everytime they come through and surprise you, they win you over and you lose the battle with yourself.

Nugget 2: When the sex is good, it's only 5 percent of the relationship, but when the sex is bad (or nonexistent), it's 95 percent of the relationship.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Hard to get

Dating is a game...until it's not. We all know people who used to be one of us, struggling through the dating game one strategic (or not) play at a time - sometimes ending up with a devoted new fan, sometimes ending up with a new coat of pain for the closet of unrequited love. Then one day they run into the man/woman of their dreams at the grocery store (does this ever REALLY happen to anyone?), local bar, animal shelter, etc. and that's it - game over. But for the rest of us, we're still stuck rolling the dice and hoping for the "get-out-of-jail-free" card.

What I'm about to write will certainly be met with some resistance, but while it might not be the world's most perfect theory, it's definitely something to consider.

Playing hard-to-get works.

I'm not saying that "playing" anything is an ideal situation, but it's a time-tested fact that men (and women) appreciate things more when they don't fall into their laps (or beds). I see women who aren't especially pretty, smart or interesting, playing 'the game' with seemingly effortless confidence:

Step 1: She goes out dressed to kill, but when men do gawk and approach, she's standoffish, but not bitchy. If she's interested, and they spend an appropriate amount of time trying to talk to her, without treating her like a piece of meat, she may give them her phone number.

Step 2: The guy calls and she doesn't answer the phone. He leaves a messages along the lines of "Hi Brenda, it's Chad. I met you on Saturday night at Bar W. Just wanted to say hi and see how you're doing. You can reach me at 555-1234. Hope to talk to you soon."

Step 3: Two days pass and she doesn't call him back (because unlike most women, she isn't motivated by the intense fear that if she doesn't call him back, he's going to lose interest). He calls her again and this time she answers the phone - she apologizes for not having called him earlier but she was busy, busy, busy.

She wants to be pursued and has the self-control to act calm and collected, even though her heart may skip a beat when the phone rings. She knows that if she were available whenever he wanted, if she called him back right away and slept with him after one night, he'd lose interest quicker because the thrill of the hunt would be gone. Instead, she keeps him guessing and doesn't tell him what she's doing Friday night after she declines a date - he's intrigued.

Step 4: She finally accepts an invitation for a date and everything goes great -- the conversation, chemistry, etc. Maybe there is the much-anticipated first kiss, but when he calls her again to set up another date, she is busy, busy, busy.

The thesis is simple, and familiar to evolutionary scientists (and any woman who's mother was born before the 1960s): men are hunters who thrill in 'the chase.' For me, the wisdom here is that feminism hasn't changed the innate instincts of most heterosexual men. Women might have evolved from housewife to CEO, but men are still men. This is why we can't fully blame them for sleeping with a woman they met at a bar earlier that night - - if we're making it available, can we really blame them for taking it?

While the above may describe a common dating scenario in the 1940s and 50s, here's what's happening today:

Scenario 1: A single gal goes out in her cleavage baring halter top and drinks until she's wobbling in her stilettos. She sees a guy she likes and walks right up to him, making it clear that he can have her if he wants. They laugh and flirt. She goes home with him. Maybe she sleeps with him, or maybe, in a misguided attempt to play "hard to get," she limits herself to only making out with him. Either way, by being in his bed, she really isn't very "hard-to get."

Outcome 1: She goes home the next day, knowing deep down that she should have had more self-control and probably shouldn't have gone home with him. But she still hopes that this time it's different, that they had a "special connection" and that he's going to call.

He doesn't call.

Outcome 2: She goes home the next day, knowing deep down that she should have had more self-control and probably shouldn't have gone home with him. But she still hopes that this time it's different, that they had a "special connection" and that he's going to call.

He calls.

She is OVERJOYED, and in yet another attempt at playing hard to get she waits to call him back...until later that night. They chat and he asks her to meet for drinks the next night, she accepts. They have a great time. When he doesn't call her again for a week, she is confused. Wanting to "make sure" he knows she's interested, she calls him. After all, there is nothing wrong with a girl calling a guy, right? He calls her back and they arrange to hang out again. She thinks she is into something good, but then she doesn't hear from him again...until late one night when he texts her to see if she is "out." They officially become hook-up buddies.

Here's the thing: we want to believe that because women have proven themselves in so many ways, that it's anti-feminist and pathetic to follow "rules" in order to get the right type of attention from men. We should be able to be ourselves. Well, today's translation of "being ourselves" often means pursuing a guy because we don't believe they'll pursue us on their own. Feminists can also sleep with guys right away because sexual responsibility should be equal. Well, it's not. If it were equal, men would get pregnant too.

In some ways, we're using feminism and the fact that it's "not fair" that acting a certain way captures a guys attention, to make excuses for our own insecurity. By pursuing men, making sure we're available when they ask us out, and calling them back right away, we're trying to ensure that they won't lose interest and move on to someone better.

After years of being a cheerleader for the feminist dating camp, I'm here to report my findings: it's not feminist at all.

In fact, I think this so-called feminist view has taken away a lot of a woman's control in the dating world...we don't demand pursuit, chivalry or commitment before devoting ourselves to a guy. This gives men an unbalanced amount of control, and relegates women to waiting around to see if the man we choose will disappoint us or stick it out. How is this a better representation of feminism than playing hard to get? At least with the latter, we're in a position to choose someone who has already proven they're willing to go the extra mile and treat us right.

For those of you who are foaming at the mouth, waiting to argue that some men like a woman to pursue and be in charge - - I have no doubt that you're right. However, I wonder if these are the men who don't have the confidence to pursue women themselves? Anyone who is insecure finds it comforting to get assurance that there's no risk. Yet men who are comfortable with what they have to offer, may be turned off by a women who pursues, and therefore accidentally gives the impression that she doesn't think she's worth being pursued. And as for those heterosexual guys who fantasize about a woman taking charge on dates, and in bed? Well, it's my personal belief that a little goes a long way. There is nothing wrong with being a strong woman, but most heterosexual men don't want to date another man.

As usual, there are no stones being thrown from behind my pink lap top - this is coming from someone who has always been told to just "be herself," and someday I'll find the "love of my life." While this might very well be true, no one ever warned me that in the meantime, I might scare off a bunch a great practice guys by being my emotional, over-thinking, passionate, honest self.

Like most women, at one point or another I've worried that if I don't call a guy back right away, he's not going to know I'm interested. Then I was struck by a bolt of lightening: when I don't like a guy, I forget to call him back, I'm too busy for dates, and I'm accidentally aloof. Consequently, it's these men - the ones I'm not interested in - that fall all over themselves to pursue me. When I don't like a guy, and I don't call him back, does he call once and give up? No. Usually, if he likes me, he wants to "make sure" I got his call, and he'll try again. So why are we so scared to take that risk with a guy we like?

While I think there is some unavoidable truth in the "hard to get" theory, I think there is a bigger problem here: why are beautiful, strong, intelligent women so insecure that they need to play hard to get? We should be hard to get. We should be "busy, busy, busy." Regardless of what should be, the truth is, that no matter how far women have come, successful, interesting women everywhere are spending a lot of time worrying about what men think and want. Worse than that, we measure ourselves against what we read and learn about men, and end up feeling undesirable.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Time for a new type of feminism

I've babbled on about how I'm frustrated by certain aspects of feminism - mostly that traditional feminism seems to seek equality by encouraging the view that women are the same as men. Call me a "girl," but I don't want to pretend that pet adoption commercials don't make me cry, and that I can carry a six foot Christmas tree from the car to my living room by myself, in order to be considered a "strong woman." Personally, I think my strength is very different than the strength I admire in certain men, but that doesn't make it any less valuable. Similarly, I don't think allowing a man to open the door for me or buy me dinner, makes me any less intelligent, independent or liberated. I happen to like it when a man wants to make me feel special by treating me with a little touch of traditional chivalry...as long as he also treats me with respect.

Recently, I discovered that I also have a bone to pick with "lipstick feminism." Prior to my recent online research (brought about by Monday afternoon ADD), I mistakenly thought that lipstick feminists were those that didn't find it contradictory to both be a feminist and to spend time on one's appearance. If this were the case, the mere number of products in my bathroom and eye-shadow colors in my make-up case, would make me an excellent candidate for admission into this group. For me, clothes and make-up are hobbies, sources of enjoyment, that are completely separate from my feelings about what makes women equal to men as human beings. I mean, what's wrong with having a little glamour in your life?

However, beyond an inherent "no-judgement" clause for the number of trips a woman makes to Sephora in any given month, lipstick feminism doesn't find conflict between stripping, pole dancing, flashing, girl-on-girl exhibitionism - sometimes even glorification of prostitution - and feminism. Additionally, lipstick feminism often associates sex with power, and the power of sexual allure as power over men.

WHOA, NELLY.

I certainly don't think it's anti-feminist to purchase Carmen Electra's workout video (hell, I'd probably eat worms if someone provided evidence suggesting that it would make me look like Carmen) or attempt to liven up a workout routine by taking a cardio-strip class. I also have no problem admitting that I sincerely enjoy sex. But aside from my shock at the idea of glorifying prostitution, I just don't agree that any type of feminism should focus so strongly on sex or power. How did a movement originally intended to ensure that women have the same rights as other human beings, become a power struggle in which stripping, and even prostitution, are used as proof points to argue that women offer as much value to society as men? Does that seem counter-productive to anyone else?

In What Went Wrong , I suggested that the misguided evolution of attraction is partially responsible for our youth obsessed culture and the acceptance of random hook-ups. But I'm beginning to think that feminist backlash has also danced to a few songs at the American "ho-down."

No matter what Oprah says, instead of learning how to develop, appreciate and leverage our individual personalities, unique talents and inherent femininity, young women are striving to become bobble-heads with 0 percent body fat and fake boobs, while drunkenly making out with each other in bars to win attention from men. And, if making out with a buddy doesn't win the man's heart, there's always an opportunity to share the epitome of intimacy with a complete stranger, and then pretend you've never met, when you run into him at the gym or grocery store.

Typically, we point fingers at men for our sex-obsessed culture and the rise of Internet porn. However, as painful as it may be to admit, there's also a connection between feminism, the sexual revolution and the reign of sluttiness. Between 1950 and 2009, being a slut has transformed from a label of shame to a symbol of feminism; proof that, since we're just like men, women can satisfy their carnal needs without emotional attachment. Sleeping with men for sport has become an aspirational quality, something that makes a woman independent and strong.

Congratulations, feminism.

Sex will always be important part of humanity, but my concern is the personality its importance is beginning to develop. Instead of girdles and chastity belts, we have four year-old girls with t-shirts that say "Future Porn Star" and forty-five year-old "cougars" prancing around bars in cleavage-baring halter tops and micro-minis. Although I'm suddenly appalled at how conservative I sound, the point isn't conservative or liberal - it's moderation. We've swung from one extreme to another in the span of 60 years, and we need to find some middle ground. If feminism is meant to benefit women, then I think it's time to focus on bringing an end to the backlash that has left an increasing number of beautiful, intelligent women struggling with self-acceptance. It's time for a new type of feminism.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

More confessions

Just for shits and giggles...

-I loved Gilmore Girls and I'm currently re-watching the entire series.
-Cellulite. My mom has it. My sister - who weighs about 10 pounds - has it. I have it.
-Sometimes I tell people I have plans, when I fully intend to stay home, reading and drinking wine. Alone.
-My nickname in high school was Kelly Kapowski.
-I generally think puppies are cuter than babies (don't worry, it's just aesthetics, I LOVE kids).
-I have a couple of deep, dark secrets that would shock the eyebrows off a number of people who assume they know all there is to know about me.
-I love cigarettes but made a conscious decision not to become a smoker.
-I have a recurring nightmare about marrying someone I don't love.
-I've never seen Star Wars. Or Wizard of Oz.
-I was asked to leave the movie theater (by management, no less) during "The Horse Whisperer" because I was crying so hard when the horse got hurt, that I was "disturbing the other patrons."
-I get really uncomfortable when people reference geography - for the sake of humanity, let's hope the fate of the world never depends on my ability to identify specific countries on a map.
-I cried on my 20th birthday because I thought I was getting old (that is both incredibly embarrassing and a poignant commentary on our society)
-I wanted to be Miss America (WAY after the age when it's okay to dream about being Miss America).
-I recently ran out of gas and had to have AAA come and bail me out.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Confessions and technicalities

I have a confession.

I've told you about my attempts to stir the pot. I've told you about my recent dates with Surfer Dude. I've told you about my fleeting attempt to become a gold medal flirt-er (this was a disaster, btw. Turns out, it's not the flirting I need to practice, it's communicating that my interest ends there). However, I haven't told you how much time I've been spending with J-Dogg.

At first it was sex. Then it was sex and the fact that I sincerely enjoy his company. Then it was frequent movie nights at his apartment, where he'd bundle me up on the couch with a blanket and all my favorites - red wine and brown sugar pop tarts or chips (all of which he keeps on hand, specifically for my visits). Then it was an occasional dinner or movie date. Then it was a weekend trip to the mountains, kissing in the hot tub under a light snow fall. Then it was a brief escapade in New York City.

A few days before Christmas, while in a Pottery Barn-type store looking for a Christmas present for my sister, I saw some pillows and towels that were perfect for the I'm-not-in-a-frat-anymore decor that J-Dogg has been implementing in his apartment. I bought them.

Then, when I went over for movie night, I had him close his eyes while I bustled around his apartment, replacing his thread-bear Chicago Bulls towel from 1987 with a fluffy new bath towel, and arranging the chenille throw blanket and pillows on his bed. When I was done, I dragged him around his apartment, explaining my purchases and babbling about how I hope it's not weird that I bought him Christmas presents when I'm not technically his girlfriend.

He smiled, thanked me, kissed me and asked if I wanted a glass of wine and a pop tart. I did.

We went into the kitchen, and while J-Dogg opened a bottle of wine and cleaned a glass for me, he pushed the pop tart box toward me and asked me to grab a package for him to put in the toaster. I opened the box, but there weren't any pop tarts inside. Instead, there was just a very distinctive "little blue box" with a white ribbon, and the simple black letters, "Tiffany."

Dumbfounded, I just stood there, staring at the box. Finally I looked up at J-Dogg with huge eyes. He just laughed and told me to open the box. I lifted the small blue square out of the pop tart box and untied the ribbon. From the blue box, I removed a butter-soft leather pouch. Inside the pouch was a beautiful, delicate, absolutely perfect, silver necklace.

Since that night, almost every one of my friends has asked me the same question you're probably thinking right now, "WHAT DOES THIS MEAN???????"

Well, it means that we still care about each other, and it means that I've learned a TON about myself since we broke up. I'm able to accept J-Dogg - and our connection - for exactly what it is, without silently torturing myself about "where it's going" and if it's "right." I don't need it to be anything other than what it is at this very moment.

Before I started dating J-Dogg, I hadn't been in a relationship in years. The unhealthy combination of my immediate connection to J-Dogg, my lonely lifestyle and a general lack of direction in my life, led me to put way too much pressure on "us."

Now my perspective is entirely different - I'm not looking to find a partner so I can feel like I'm moving forward with my life. I need to focus on figuring out what I want, and not what everyone else wants me to be. Right now, that means moving back to New York for awhile. It also means enjoying every moment I have with J-Dogg.

Years ago, my best friend, Beantown, introduced me to a great quote, and it seems very appropriate today: "Dance like no one is watching and love like it's never going to hurt."

Monday, December 29, 2008

The last stop on the campaign trail

A few weeks ago I watched a movie about several girls in college. It was one of those glorious fictional stories where the characters are just starting their lives, and the potential and possibilities before them are almost tangible. In the end, everyone figures out what they want and begins to follow their dreams toward becoming an actress, artist or anthropologist.

Instead of getting the high-on-life feeling I'm certain the director intended, I started to cry. I cried to the point of convulsions. I cried until I had a snot-covered t-shirt and a painful case of the hiccups.

I wasn't crying because I regret my own college experience. College was a crazy montage of all the emotions associated with the novelty of freedom and the fear of not quite knowing who you're going to become.

I cried because I suddenly understood my recent loneliness.

In this moment, I have a successful business, a great apartment steps from the beach, a loving family and meaningful friendships. Without a doubt, I'm a lucky girl. It seemed like I had everything I could possibly want, and I mistakenly thought the only thing missing was a life partner.

As someone who has lived life as if progressing along a never-ending campaign trail, I've worked hard to adapt according to my audience - I've perfected renditions of the devoted friend, academic, peace-maker, patient roommate, cheerleader, obedient daughter, court jester, homecoming queen, ambitious business woman and girl next door.

A whirlwind of nervous energy and campaign promises, I fell into my major, and subsequent career, through a series of decisions made to compensate for personal shortcomings and make my parents happy. I've learned how to present myself to achieve, accomplish and win votes, but I've never learned how to accept myself or trust my own intuition.

I value the flexibility and autonomy of my job, but I've never had any sincere interest in my work. I've created lifelong friendships with people I respect and admire, but I don't currently have anyone in the same place in their life to connect with on a daily basis. I love being close to the beach, my family and childhood friends, but I feel suffocated by the inaccessibility of this city.

The cruel combination of traffic, parking and having to drive after a few drinks, keeps me from going to new bars, taking salsa classes, seeing shows, or going to concerts and museum exhibits as often as I would like. Instead, I remain within the convenient bubble of my beach town. I go to the same bars and hang out with the same group of people; all very nice, but lacking my interest in life and learning.

Some people know who they are and what they want to do with their lives by pre-school graduation. But most of us aren't that lucky - we have to solve the mystery ScoobyDoo style through a series of experiences, mistakes and disappointments. The past year has been a crazy roller coaster ride with some tummy-turning drops and loops. Somehow, through all the jolts and jerks, my death grip on the safety consult has loosened, my eyes are open and I'm ready to trust that I'll get where I need to go.

This may seem like standard, post-chick flick introspection, but it's more. Assuming I can figure out the logistics without going broke or ending up homeless, I'm going to move back to New York for awhile. Hopefully I'll be able to live alone, take some continuing education classes and dance lessons, and meet some new people. This is not an attempt to run away from everything and everyone I've known over the past 28 years. Instead, I feel like I'm running toward something. I'm not doing this to win votes, meet a life partner, or make my parents happy. I'm doing this for the woman behind the 100-watt campaign smile.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Flirting

I had to go to UPS yesterday. While I waited in line to spend $60 to send a ridiculously small package over seas for work, I noticed that the manager - who was younger than me by the better part of a decade - was adorable.

When I got up to the front of the line, the adorable manager gave me a huge smile and said, "now that you've finally made it to the front of the line, I'm going to do everything I can to make sure it was worth your wait."

I laughed.

As BossMan (the name displayed on his name tag) helped me through the laborious process of sending my [very] small package to the U.K., he winked, smiled and made funny comments. His good-natured manner made me feel completely comfortable and I found myself engaged in witty banter.

As I walked out of UPS, I noticed two things:
1. Everyone in line had been watching our little encounter.
2. They were all smiling...and so was I.

It wasn't until I was back in front of my computer, that I realized what had happened: the UPS guy had been flirting with me. He wasn't hitting on me and I wasn't wondering if he was going to ask for my phone number. In fact, there weren't any expectations at all. It was the kind of innocent flirting that I just don't experience very often - the kind that is done by two people who are simply enjoying each other's company in that moment.

The key to BossMan's flirting was the ease of his delivery - he wasn't intrusive, demanding or desperate. A crucial distinction since, as we all know, a failed attempt at flirting can make the recipient feel so uncomfortable, they might as well be watching Michael Scott deliver a seminar on sexual harassment.

The point? I've always been able to step up and respond when offered some quality flirting, but after my delightful experience at UPS, I've decided it's high time I learned how to be the instigator. So, no grocery bagger, valet attendant or dry cleaning cashier is safe - I'm on the prowl for some flirting practice.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Heating up leftovers

I went on a date or two with Surfer Dude about six months ago, but stopped seeing him when I started getting more serious with MML. A couple weeks ago, I ran into him while I was out with Girl Roommate. Surfer Dude is more than a foot taller than me with striking blue eyes and brown hair. He is both very laid-back and incredibly funny, and we had a great 'ol time hanging out. Over the next couple of weeks we talked on the phone a couple of times, and I laughed out loud at his stories about going hiking in Hawaii without shoes and breaking his toe (it was funny, although writing it now, it doesn't sound very funny), and the annual trip he takes with his buddies to various college towns on Halloween weekend. Even though our conversations were good, scheduling issues kept us from seeing each other again. Then on Monday, he called to see if I was free to go to the Coldplay concert on Tuesday night.

I was.

I've always taken on more than my share of responsibility for making conversation - on dates, in social business situations and otherwise. If the other person isn't holding up their end of the conversation, I automatically feel the need to compensate by asking a lot of questions and avoiding awkward silences by talking about anything and everything that comes to mind. If I'm honest with myself, this is probably my attempt to make other people feel comfortable, and therefore win their vote in my on-going campaign to be liked and accepted.

Well, it's exhausting and I'm done - with the campaign, and with forcing conversation on dates.

While Surfer Dude is funny and interesting, he isn't a "talker." So, on our way to the concert, I started making conversation out of habit. When I realized what I was doing, I tapered off and spoke only when I had something to say. I wasn't necessarily more quiet than I would be ordinarily, but I also didn't work overtime to fill the silences. After my initial discomfort passed, I was pleasantly surprised to find that when I shut up, Surfer Dude stepped it up a notch, asking questions and introducing me to some of his favorite artists. Phew.

The night only got better from there.

We people watched, ate soft pretzels that were simultaneously soggy and stale, sang along with Chris Martin at the top of our lungs, and ran through the pouring rain holding hands on the way back to his car. When we finally made it back to the car, dripping wet, he bundled me in his huge sweatshirt and kissed me.

Cheers to finally shutting up and discovering some absolutely delicious leftovers.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Another ride on the Man-Wagon

Taking a short break from my rants about self-acceptance, I’m going back to another one of my favorite topics: gender. It was apparent from the response to my post, “Letting a man be a man” that I didn’t effectively articulate my point of view. So, I’m jumping back on my Man-Wagon to give it another go.

A quick Google search for “traditional male values,” revealed that authority, infallibility, virility and strength are common masculine attributes. Nothing shocking.

I’m not even going to begin the conversation about whether attributes can be shared by both sexes (I think they can) while preserving the gender differences that keep us from blending us into some weird uni-sex life form that reproduces through science and technology, instead of through “traditional” methods.

However, I will comment on the distinct discrepancy between the traditional definition of masculinity and the representations of masculinity we see today. The example that comes to mind immediately is one of my favorite TV Shows - Two and a Half Men. Charlie Sheen’s character is supposed to represent the Holy Grail of male life - an attractive, successful, perpetual bachelor who answers to no one and is free to indulge in beer, sports, cigars and women (usually significantly younger women) to his testosterone’s desire. While this is supposed to be a comical extreme of masculinity and male utopia, the relationship between manliness and innate laziness and uselessness, is growing in popularity. Married with Children and The Simpsons are other examples of the lazy, useless, bumbling idiot-man that come to mind.

I’ll admit that there are some shows with characters that portray positive masculinity. For instance, Brooke Shield’s character on Lipstick Jungle is married to a man who is sexy and masculine, yet supportive and communicative - hell, he stayed home and played Mr. Mom while she went out and rocked the business world. However, that show has been cancelled. Other masculine characters include Mel Gibson (not the person, merely his character) in The Patriot. Father, protector, provider and leader, the character respects and appreciates women, while embracing the role of homemaker and maintaining the essence of manliness, capability and purpose.

Sure, we're talking about fiction, and neither Mel Gibson nor Charlie Sheen are people I’d be psyched to hang out with in real life, but if I had to choose between the two characters, it’s a no-brainer - I’m going with the man on the horse, carrying the bayonet, who is willing to make room for me in his life.

It seems to me that while women are breaking out of stereotypical roles as mother, sex-pot and ingénue, and into roles as action hero, world leader, crime fighter and business tycoon, men are more frequently being relegated to roles as couch-potato-frat-boy, weak weenie-man, geekizoid and bumbling Neanderthal.

What’s most interesting to me is how these powerful female and negative male stereotypes might be influencing character development in the three-dimensional world. Some of us independent, successful types like to whine about how men are passing us up for the cleavage-barring, eyelash-batting poodle-types because they are “intimidated.” We snarl at men who want to provide for and protect us (even if they know we don’t need them to do either), without considering that these men might merely be seeking purpose in life beyond ESPN.

Have we cast feminism and traditional masculinity in the roles of Harry Potter and Lord Voldemort - enemies, incapable of co-existence? Could it be that one of the negative side effects of the feminist movement (please unclench, a simple criticism doesn’t mean I believe a woman’s place is as the submissive and nurturing compliment to her man’s leadership and authority) that allowed women to be valued for abilities beyond motherhood and homemaking, is also partially responsible for the male-bashing phenomenon and the fall of traditional masculinity?

Call me pro-masculinity (AKA anti-feminist), but perhaps the appeal of poodles is less about their eye-shadow application skills and more about their ability to let men feel that they are needed, that they are appreciated…that they have a general purpose. If we staunchly independent feminist types are guilty of aligning masculinity with the lazy, couch-dwelling, womanizing, beer-guzzling, porn-loving, Charlie Sheen-esque Neanderthal, should we be surprised that men aren’t rushing to hold open the door for us? Heck, for all they know, we might yell at them for it.

There are no stones being cast from behind this computer screen. I’m guilty of lumping men into masculine stereotypes. I find myself making excuses for my Guy Roommate, who is unconcerned with the fact that making dinner and leaving all the ingredients - usually meat, sour cream and cheese - out in the pan or on the counter for hours and hours on end, will inevitably attract bugs and create unappetizing odors. I find myself defending his distaste for picking up after himself to my Girl Roommate (for whom male-bashing, and alcohol, eases insecurities about her own appeal to the opposite sex) by stating that “he’s just a dude.” What the hell does that mean? Yes, a large percentage of men might be less genetically inclined to care if they are surrounded by clutter than most women, but I’m pretty convinced it’s also a function of the lazy man-slug perception that we’ve bought into. We let guys off the hook for certain behaviors that we consider a function of their masculinity. While deciding that vacuuming is the epitome of manliness might not result in men jumping off the couch and revving up the Hoover, I can see why, if their gender lets them off the hook for some less-than-fun chores, they’d go with it. Expecting nothing - or the worst - from men is certainly not going to motivate them to prove us wrong.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

What went wrong?

Since cavemen and clubs, women have sought the attention of men. This innate desire is clearly tied to survival of the fittest and procreation - we must be more attractive than other women in order to be chosen for reproduction. Fair enough.

Since we've evolved past seeking a mate based solely on their physical ability to hunt for food or protect our offspring from wild animals, it's only natural that the definition of attractive should evolve as well.

But has it?

While we might work at developing qualities that make us good candidates for life partnership, most of us are also guilty of focusing on - with or without actually achieving - the extreme physical qualities that are considered attractive. Extremely thin. Extremely large boobs (even if they're fake, erasing the original basis for their appeal - reproductive ability). Extremely white teeth. Extremely young-looking skin. Extremely expensive clothes, jewelry and shoes.

While we might strive to become dynamic, rich with life experience and develop true confidence from the inside out, we also buy into the message - which is constantly being shoved in our faces - that in order to be the most attractive, we must be waifishly thin with big boobs and a perky butt, have a glow-in-the-dark smile and wear $300 jeans.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not going to pretend that my sunny disposition, compassion and intelligence make me feel any cuter when I'm standing in a bar full of Malibu Barbies, but I'm certain that we can all agree that one of the most attractive qualities a woman - or man - can have, is confidence. The extremes will certainly stop traffic, but they don't stand a chance of covering up insecurity that presents itself in the extremely unattractive neediness, jealousy and desperation.

The era of extremes doesn’t stop at injecting poison into our bodies to stop the unthinkably unattractive signs of age. Between the acceptance of random hook-ups and the abundance of mid-drifts, cleavage and micro-minis, being slutty has become standard, trendy even.

High school, college and twenty-something women are making out with each other in bars to win the timeless battle of “who can get the most attention.” It’s commonplace to share the epitome of intimacy with a complete stranger and not even greet them when you pass on the street. How have we managed to convince ourselves that running into a one-night stand at the gym, and not feeling like you know the person well enough to say hello, isn’t weird? Where being a slut used to be associated with shame, it’s now a symbol of feminism; proof that, like men, women can satisfy their carnal needs without emotional attachment. Sleeping with men for sport has become an aspirational quality, something that makes a woman independent and strong.

I'm certainly not the Yoda of life or love, but I have learned that confidence, independence and strength have very little to do with receiving attention from men or achieving certain physical standards. These lofty attributes are even more hard-won then a perfectly taut tummy - they come from self-acceptance.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

When pot sitrring goes awry

Halloween night started out fabulously. My costume - Betty Boop circa 1940 - was a hit, our party was raging and two of my three 'pot stirring' invitees were in attendance.

One of my these special guests, Rico Suave, is a very good-looking, incredibly charming guy I'd met on a recent Thursday night date with my Girl Roommate. Initially, I'd been turned off by his slightly intrusive, over-the-top attention, but he eventually won me over with his light-hearted personality and tireless effort. Rico Suave called me a couple days after we met, but I never called him back.

Although I have some good reasons to be wary of super-charming, ultra good-looking guys (it has been my experience, that guys who are smooth talkers got that way by practicing...a lot), I tend to discount them altogether...which is a lot like discounting any guy who wears tapered jeans or drives an expensive sports car. So, in the midst of my pot stirring revelation, I'd decided to invite Rico Suave to our Halloween party. What better way to stir the pot then to throw in some unusual ingredients.

With the party in full swing, I was having a great 'ol time flirting, drinking and being a social butterfly. I didn't even realize I was drunk until I started making out with Rico Suave in the middle of the party...much to the dismay of my other special guest (oops). It was clear I needed to cut myself off - this was bad form for a reformed kissing slut. When Rico Suave's friends were ready to leave and head downtown, he hesitated, making it clear that he was hoping we could take our public display of affection somewhere a little more private. Inexplicably disenchanted, I told him to go with his friends.

Shortly after saying goodnight to my make-out buddy, I noticed that Girl Roommate and Guy Roommate were no where to be found. I briefly waded through the party for my roommates, realizing that I didn't recognize most of the remaining party guests, and that our house was quickly beginning to look like a frat house on homecoming weekend.

I decided to take brief refuge in my room to remove my itchy Betty Boop wig and enjoy some quiet time with a few Doritos. I was sitting on my bed, happily munching away, when four Poodles (for a definition of a Poodle, please refer to The Poodle Problem ), dressed as slutty cast members of Whinny-the-Poo (who knew Eeyore and Piglet could be slutty), came crashing through my closed door, landing in a drunken, giggling pile on my floor. I'd never seen these girls before in my life, so stepped over the Disney road kill, and fought through the crowd to catch some random, rather large guy, letting people into our house through the back door.

I was pissed.

I decided I needed to find my roommates, have them identify their friends and kick everyone else out. Apparently, in my drunken state, I hadn't noticed that my Girl Roommate had left the party and headed to the bars (Girl Roommate isn't a fan of house parties where the choices of men tend to be limited), and that Guy Roommate was off somewhere, "occupied" with his out-of-town crush, Cowgirl.

Now I was really pissed.

I identified one of Guy Roommate's friends, a frequent resident of our couch during football season, and demanded that he help me kick out the people we didn't know. Minutes later, there were only a handful of people remaining...and pretty soon, I was alone, lying on the couch in a cave of beer cans and red cups, drunkenly trying to bring DVRed episodes of The Office into focus by closing one eye.

With no desire to see my roommates or start cleaning up the mess, I called for back-up. My knight in shinning armor, on loan from the LAPD (yes, J-Dogg), came to pick me up after he got off work. I retreated to his apartment, eager for Halloween to be over.

Of course I didn't expect my first efforts to stir the pot to end with my ex-boyfriend. But sometimes, you just know what you need.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Getting off my butt and stirring the pot...

Recently, I've gotten some questions about whether I'm actively dating anymore. The answer is yes, I still go on a lot of dates. In fact, my guy roommate never ceases to be amazed at the sheer number of dates on which I go (although he is easy to impress, as he hasn't gone on a date since I've known him). But here's the thing: for me, there is a monumental difference between "going" on a date and actually "being" on a date. "Going" on dates has become such a large part of my life, that I've actually added it to my resume. However, with the exception of a couple recent, random, dates with J-Dogg, it's been awhile since I've really been on a date.

Until last night.

I met Military Man last week and was actually rather excited to give him my phone number. Although he is very cute, when it came time to actually go on a date with Military Man, I didn't feel like it...I wanted to sit at home, watching DVRed episodes of Gossip Girl and drinking wine. However, this is generally the reaction I have to the EXHAUSTING prospect of a first date. I didn't feel like taking a shower, doing my hair, picking out an outfit and struggling through "first date conversation." I was about to cancel when my Girl Roommate gave me the speech: "Just suck it up and go. You never know, it could be great. Plus, Guy Roommate is parked on the couch watching sports...again. Even a first date beats battling him for the remote."

Can't argue with that.

So, I took a shower, did my hair, picked out an outfit and gave myself a pep talk. Turns out that Military Man is really quite interesting. He is from Iowa, went to college in Wisconsin, enrolled in Officer's school after graduation, joined the Navy, served in Iraq, came back and is now finishing up his service while simultaneously getting his MBA from a very prestigious program. He suffered through my endless questions - and relative cluelessness - about the military, and seemed interested in my work and my life as well. Overall, it was very pleasant.

Maybe I'll see Military Man again, maybe I won't. Regardless, last night was exactly what I needed to remember what it feels like to enjoy a date (with someone other than J-Dogg). It also made me realize that being bored with my dating life isn't an excuse to camp out on the couch and live vicariously through my favorite friends from The Upper East Side - it's a reason to stir the pot a little.

So, in an attempt to stir the pot, I invited several guys that are yet to be important enough to have nicknames, to the Halloween party I'm throwing with my roommates on Friday night. It could end up being a disaster, but at least I know my vintage Betty Boop costume will go to good use.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The return of FR

Didn't expect to see that name again, huh? In case you need a refresher, Filthy Rich (FR) is a bi-coastal hotel mongrel with whom I once had an amazing conversation. Unfortunately, FR is probably about 30 years my senior...think wrinkles and sagging body parts.

Anyway, about a week ago, I ran into FR at a local dive bar. With a few drinks under my belt, I was very excited to see my old friend (no pun intended), even though I'd ultimately decided to blow him off after our previous meeting, mostly due to my aversion to liver spots and my acknowledgement of his intentions (I’m not cut out for the Anna Nicole Smith role). Within seconds, we were in the midst of yet another fantastic conversation, and what seemed like only moments later, the bar had closed and the bouncer was kicking us out.

FR: Let's go somewhere else and have another drink
TAF: I think all the bars are closed.
FR: Let's go to Bar X.
TAF: Pretty sure it's closed.
FR: Well, I'm pretty sure it'll be open, let's check it out.

Turns out Bar X was closed, but that they were miraculously willing to stay open just for us. I'm not sure if FR owns Bar X or if he just paid them to stay open, but we enjoyed another couple of drinks while the staff waited. Patiently. After pre-paying for my cab (which I didn't even notice) and saying goodnight, FR said that he wanted to see me again...the following night for dinner, if possible. I told him I had plans (which I did), thanked him for the drink and smiled coyly as my urban carriage pulled away.

FR texted me later that night to make sure I'd gotten home - no response (I was too busy passing out).
FR called me the next day to tell me that he rarely enjoyed an evening as much as he'd enjoyed our evening together, and to ask if my plans could be broken - no response.
FR called the following day to see if I would be able to have dinner before he went back to NYC - no response.
FR called again the next day to ask what he'd done wrong, to tell me that I was one of the most charming and interesting woman he'd ever met, and to beg me to please consider sharing one meal with him.

I knew I'd run into FR again at some point, and I certainly didn't want him to think he'd done anything wrong. So, liver spots and all, I decided to accept the dinner invitation with a resolution to make it very clear - in a breezy, classy way, of course - that things weren't going to progress past friendship. I finally called him back and agreed to have dinner several days later.

FR never contacted me to confirm the details for our dinner date. In fact, I didn't hear from him until late in the evening on the day we were supposed to meet. He'd suddenly had to fly to San Francisco for a meeting and hadn't been able to call. Luckily, a couple months ago I made a hard and fast decision not to wait around for guys - geriatrics included - who don't call. By the time FR contacted me to explain, and say that he'd just flown back down to LA and was hoping we might still be able to meet up, I'd made other plans. We rescheduled, but several days later I found myself stuck in almost the exact same scenario. There were apologies, compliments and assurances that this was uncharacteristic behavior.

I enjoy spending time with FR, but I have no intention of having any sort of relationship with him. Somehow this knowledge protects me against being too flexible (sure, life happens, and flexibility is essential, but there is a fine line between being flexible and not putting enough value on your own time and life), disappointed, or worrying what he'll think about me if do this or say that. It never occurred to me to change any of my set plans to accommodate his schedule. I wasn’t even tempted to down-shift our plans and meet him for late-night drinks in order to satisfy his desire to see me immediately.

After recent reflection about the behavioral differences between being in a Fan Club and having one, my situation with FR served as a case study. For me, the freedom of having no interest in someone comes from the previously discussed ability to be completely comfortable with myself and what I have to offer, and an absence of any premature fear that if I don't present myself or do things in a particular way, I might miss out on something that could be great...something that could be forever. After realizing this, I've decided it's not much better than expecting to be whisked away by a handsome prince and live happily ever after. With someone I'm not interested in, I take things as they come, without thinking about the future or putting unrealistic expectations on myself or the "relationship." Obviously it's easier to value yourself and your time when you don't have any real interest in someone, but I'm hoping practice makes perfect.

Friday, October 10, 2008

The next step

Most of my best friends from growing up are married, and a lot of them are starting to have kids. I suppose the EVENTUAL goal of finding a life partner would be to start a life and a family together. But lately, I've realized that I'm in no hurry for the eventual part.

One of my very best friends was venting to me after bickering with her husband, and said something along the lines of, "honestly, I don't even care if he's started smoking again as long as he helps with the damn dishes." I couldn't help it, I laughed out loud.

Watching how hard my parents have worked to make their 40-year marriage a successful one, I have no delusions that people get married and "live happily ever after." There have been times when I've even wondered if it's worth all the effort.

Another girlfriend is juggling a three-month old baby, a husband with a career that forces him to spend a lot of time away from home and a job of her own. Talk about exhausting - the woman can barely eat a full meal or watch a TV show. Sure, I see how she looks at that little girl, but I still need a nap just thinking about all the responsibility.

From runny poop and incessant crying to the fear of hurting or irreversibly screwing up your child, early motherhood looks like it sucks. It looks like a lot to put up with just to have someone who, bound by the circle of life, will comfort and care for you when your body and mind inevitably begin to deteriorate.

Of course I can't fully understand what it's like to be married and have kids from where I stand, but I do understand how people get there. For the same reasons I feel ready to share my life with someone, I can imagine that once you are with someone who is worth the sacrifice, frustration and exhaustion of constant compromise and communication, the desire for the rest - regardless of if "the rest" is commitment or marriage and kids - will follow.

In relationships, we always seem to be focused on the next step, whether that be our first kiss, our first boyfriend, getting married or having our first kid. However, since I've yet to meet someone that I want to share a bathroom with for the rest of my life, I'm going to make it my personal mission to enjoy exactly where I am. Who knows, in a few years, I might miss this...

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

The Fan Club

The group my brother has always jokingly referred to as my "Fan Club," is a small collection of guys who inexplicably, but firmly, believe that I'm the best thing since Monday Night Football.

The Fan Club consists of men from different periods in my life - high school, college, New York and LA - that have professed their love and proven their devotion to me...repeatedly. Some of these men have gone to great lengths to keep in touch with me, or show how they feel about me. Flowers delivered across 6,000 miles, jewelry, mixed CDs, letters and even a marriage proposal or two. One of them sent me a copy of a painting by my favorite artist, two years after I mentioned - in passing - that the particular scene reminded me of "how love should feel."

I've briefly dated a couple members of the Fan Club and kissed all of them (shocker, I know). Members of the Fan Club vary in personality, interests, intellect and attractiveness. In fact, these men have only two things in common: a romantic interest in me, and my lack of romantic interest in them.

While this probably seems like a sudden outburst of uncharacteristic arrogance, I urge you to hang in there - my point is far from arrogant.

In fact, I have been the president of several Fan Clubs myself...

We've all had them - the guys we obsess over, the ones for whom we carry torches and wear rose colored glasses, avoiding the reality of their imperfections and their luke warm interest - or total disinterest - in us.

Dickwad
During my freshman year of high school, eager for a romance like the ones I saw on TV, I fell hard for Dickwad. Oblivious to the fact that he was a senior with a reputation for preying on younger girls, I hungrily accepted his attention and his compliments about my smile, my eyes, my body. He was sexy with piercing green eyes and dark hair. I waited with baited breath for Dickwad to look at me, to talk to me, to call me...and he did. Assuming the attention of an older man was my official transition into womanhood, I tried to act sophisticated and coy, but in reality, I followed him around campus, gazing at him with Bambi eyes and giggling like the fourteen year-old girl I was. When he asked me to the Homecoming dance, I was on cloud ninety four.

As you may have guessed, the night didn't go as planned. Straight out of a scene from a high school soap, Dickwad barely acknowledged me during the dance, and proceeded to earn his nickname after I refused to perform certain...tasks. Scared, hurt and confused, I found an older family friend and hitched a ride home.

Naive, but not without self-respect, I should have despised Dickwad, and I knew I should despise him. But I didn't. Instead, I wondered why he didn't like me, and assumed that somehow I wasn't enough. I continued to carry a torch for Dickwad until he graduated the following spring. I'd been addicted to the pain of unrequited love and infatuated with my perceived inadequacy.

CollegeGuy
I met CollegeGuy during my first year at Lehigh, and the attraction was immediate. He was preppy but manly, quiet but witty, athletic and incredibly intelligent. We lived in neighboring dorms and flirted for weeks until he finally worked up the guts to kiss me. For the next two months, we laughed, talked, flirted and made out between classes. I found myself in foreign territory - I felt like I was falling in love.

During my senior year of high school, my first real boyfriend had cheated on me with my best friend and then dumped me to be with her (for more details, please refer to The Ex Files). A year later, I was scared to death. I was scared I wouldn't measure up to other girls. I was scared that I'd lose the amazing feeling I'd found. Desperate to understand "where I stood," and how far I was from the inevitable rejection, I tried talking to CollegeGuy about the status of our relationship. The more I talked, the more I felt him slipping away. A month later, he told me he was still in love with his girlfriend from high school and that they were getting back together.

I was devastated. I wondered what SHE had that I didn't have, I wondered if I just hadn't said X, or if I’d done more of Y, maybe he would have picked me instead of HER. Eventually, I became good friends with CollegeGuy. I was his confidant, and I guided him through his romantic pursuit, while silently nursing the hope that he’d see the error of his ways and leave HER for me. It never happened. I tortured myself over CollegeGuy, while unintentionally collecting members of my own Fan Club...until Lacrosse came along.

Lacrosse
I met Lacrosse at a frat party - he was wearing light blue pajama bottoms with white clouds on them, and he was heading to bed because of an organic chemistry exam. I was hooked. Immediately. I walked right up to him and made some flirty, witty and smart-ass remark about his choice of PJs. I remember the way he looked at me appreciatively before he threw his head back and laughed his deep, sexy, contagious laugh. We dated for awhile and I couldn't get enough. Lacrosse liked me too, so I called him, found ways to be at the same parties as him, accidentally-on-purpose ran into him at the library and attended his Lacrosse games (and cheered loudly). About a month or two after we started dating, he mentioned that we was really nervous about an upcoming exam...I baked him chocolate chip cookies in the shape of the words "good luck."

I'm completely serious.

About a week later, Lacrosse told me that he needed to focus on his school work.

My roommates spent months scrapping pieces of my shattered heart off our gold linoleum kitchen floor, while I convinced myself that Lacrosse ended things because I wasn't interesting enough, or because I wasn't thin, cute or even smart enough.

Cringe. Gasp. Shudder. Looking back now, these stories evoke intense physical pain. I literally want to hurl myself onto the 405 Freeway when I think about my past displays of rampant insecurity. But we've all been there at some point.

Eventually, I realized that CollegeGuy and Lacrosse felt what I feel about the members of my Fan Club. They liked me, just not enough. Aside from the fact that insecurity is the ultimate turn-off, their lack of interest had very little to do with how interesting, cute or thin I was (or wasn't) - sometimes you're the one who pines, and sometimes you're the one who is pinned after.

Sometimes you just end up with the short end of the Emotional Wishbone.

But in my opinion, there is another point to all this. From high school through my early twenties - when I didn’t know exactly who I was, much less know how to act like myself - “being myself” with someone I was crushing on, meant being anxious to tell the guy how much I had to offer (often via the oh-so-attractive first date resume regurgitation). It meant never giving him a chance to discover what I was all about or to prove that he was worth all the hype I’d created. It meant dropping everything to spend time with him. It meant waiting around for phone calls. It meant being available at a moment’s notice. It meant focusing on every small detail, just to gain clues about how he felt.

In contrast, with members of my Fan Club, I was never worried about presenting myself in a certain way - I was confident, caring, ambitious, sarcastic, curious, and even a little demanding. Authentic me.

Even though I’ve come a long way since the days of cookie art, I still struggle to remain calm when I meet someone who makes my teeth sweat and has the potential to throw my entire universe out of whack. In fact, I’ve actually had to train myself to let the other person EARN a place in my life…to maintain my routine instead of offering infinite flexibility, to remain open to other dating opportunities for as long as appropriate, and to not throw all my emotional eggs in one basket every time someone makes my tummy do a little flip-flop.

We all have baggage, we all have insecurity and we all fear rejection. But until we are genuinely comfortable with what we have to offer, and can accept the fact that some people just aren't going to like us as much as we like them, those crush-worthy dreamboats are always going to have the ability to shatter our world...or at least catapult us into a couple weeks of general self loathing.

I wish I could end this post by offering some brilliant advice for achieving this complete self-acceptance, but unfortunately all I've got to offer is the generic, but oddly appropriate "fake it til you make it." Other than that, I will say that it helps me to remember how far I've come since the Lacrosse games and Bambi eyes.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Panties in a twist

In need of some shallow entertainment, I picked up US Weekly at the grocery store last night. While I enjoyed juicy stories about family drama, wrecked marriages and over-indulged children, I noticed that there were several sections devoted to 90-pound actresses who claim that they "don't diet."

Sigh.

I understand the Hollywood pressure to be thin. I realize that "Who Wore it Best" is more about "Who is Thinner" or "Which Actress/Model is More Popular This Week" than the designer outfit in question. I'll even admit that sometimes I think thin makes up for not-so-pretty. For example, I adore SJP, but if you took away her incredibly thin - yet athletic - figure and trendy hair, she doesn't have a typically beautiful face. Sure, there are times when I sincerely think she is a pretty woman, but mostly, she is just really thin.

Since I'm guilty of these thoughts, I feel that it would be inappropriate for me to climb up on my soap box and point out that as the line between genders becomes more blurred, both men and women look more like 12 year-old boys.

But I simply can't remain quiet when anorexic-looking women are claiming they "don't diet." Clearly full of crap and nothing else, these women avoid the label of "LIAR" on the technicality that to "diet" you must actually consume food at some point. The new trend of claiming to be effortlessly thin really pisses me off. I'm no physician, but I can assume that very few people are born so thin that the bones in their shoulders stick out and the circumference of their thighs is equal to that of their arms.

An expression of deranged Hollywood logic, I think this trend is an attempt to present a healthier attitude to young people. Well, high on spray tan chemicals, these folks obviously didn't consider the possibility that young people - a group that doesn't exclude certain 28 year-olds - are going to see uber-thin women who "don't diet" and figure that their own bodies are genetically inferior since they were never able to attain (even as a 12 year-old), much less maintain a 12 year-old figure in their 20s, 30s, and 40s.

"I have to work very hard to look as good as I do. I work out every day, I go hiking and I have a personal trainer." One of the many reasons Gwen Stefani is a cool chick.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

When TAF goes MIA

I could say that I haven't written lately because I've been crazy-busy keeping my little business afloat during a time of economic ruin. I could say that I've been dealing with health and family issues, and a teenage dog that has enough angst and emotional baggage to rival good 'ol Brit Spears. While all of these statements are true, they aren't the reason for my blogging delinquency. I wish I could say that I've been too busy dating an endless string of delicious and interesting men to find time to chronicle my man-capades (thanks for the new term, Nicole ;-). But that would be a flat-out lie.

Some of my favorite bloggers write their most poignant, hilarious or thought-provoking posts when they are feeling conflicted. But for me, writing usually comes in moments of clarity and evolving life perspective.

Over the past couple of weeks, I've been fighting a vague loneliness. While this loneliness isn't specific to a person or event, it's been so exhausting that I find I'm uninterested in things that ordinarily bring me joy, satisfaction or hope.

Years ago I had a dream about love. It wasn't an over-the-top romantic fantasy where a knight-like character comes to sweep me off my feet; it merely featured a faceless man and an overwhelming feeling of love. To this day, I've never had a dream or real-life experience that could rival that feeling.

I'm a lot of things. Sentimental and emotional are certainly on that list, but sappy and unrealistic are not. So why have I been missing someone I don't know...someone I can't identify...someone I haven't even met?

I know I'm not the first person to feel this kind of loneliness, and I know it doesn't make me sappy or (gasp) un-feminist, but the longer I'm unable to shake my emotional rain cloud, the harder it is to ignore the fear creeping in like a drunk teenager who broke curfew.

I've stood boldly behind my declaration that I'm ready to find a life partner, and I've tirelessly defended the difference between being ready to find a life partner and wanting to get married. While my dedication to defending the latter hasn't budged, I'm beginning to question where I stand on the former: if I'm not completely content in my life as it is, am I really ready to meet the faceless man? If my goals and my life aren't enough to make me leap out of bed in the morning, could it be that I still have some work to do before I'm the person I need to be in order to open my life to someone else?

I'm working on the answer to that question, but in the meantime, I'm also going to work on finishing the numerous blog posts I've started in the past couple weeks...I might even try striking up a conversation with my quiet neighbor who has long hair (it's a little too Fabio-esque for my taste, but I think he's going for more of a surfer dude look, so I'll let it slide) and beautiful blue eyes.

Friday, September 12, 2008

My life as a practical dater

Warning: serious generalizations ahead.

I have this theory that women in their twenties need to be abused by men. Twenty-something women tend to go for the hot, talented, athletic or charming guys who are used to having things - especially women - fall into their laps. These guys aren't accustomed to putting very much thought or effort into their relationships, because they've never had to. So, twenty-something women get ignored, cheated on, cast aside and blatantly used...and then come back for more. These guys aren't jerks (well, some of them are), they're just coming into their own, which means testing their limits in all areas of life, and experiencing success and failure.

As twenty-somethings, we make it easy for guys: we sleep with them immediately; we call and text before they even have a chance to miss us; we walk, drive or fly to see them; we give them second, third and fourth chances to hurt us; and we lie about how we really feel in an attempt to appear like the cool, independent woman we wish we were. Essentially, we focus on making our guy happy - hoping that we will earn his love - and we don't expect a lot in return.

At some point, things seem to shift. Maybe we figure out who we are, or start to recognize what we need to be happy, but we stop seeking out Mr. Popular, and start noticing guys who notice and appreciate us. I've watched a number of my friends experience this shift, and I've noticed that it's followed closely by finding their future life partner. Call it my theory on the process of romantic maturity.

Although I've definitely suffered my share of twenty-something-like abuse, my romantic history hasn't been as text-book as some of my friends. After a handful of earth-shattering experiences in my teens and early twenties, I realized that dating Mr. Popular caused nothing but heartache, so I shifted my radar and focused on finding Sweet Little Geeks (SLGs). Figuring that these guys were more likely to adore and appreciate me (and secretly - but probably obviously - trying to protect my heart), I thought I'd out-smarted the natural course of romantic maturity. In some ways, my plan worked. I certainly dated men who adored and appreciated me, but something was always missing. I tried to force myself to have feelings for guys who genuinely liked me, assuming that attraction would come with time.

It never worked.

I'd date a guy for a couple months, waiting for my feelings to develop. Eventually, I would give up, hurting the guy and disappointing myself. For someone relatively self-aware and insightful, I let this pattern go on for WAY too long. By my late twenties, I'd never been with someone I wanted to be with...I'd never fallen in love with someone who loved me back.

Then I met J-Dogg.

He wasn't Mr. Popular, but he definitely wasn't an SLG. Even though he never said it (he wrote it, but never did muster up the words), he showed me what it felt like to be loved by someone I loved in return. He taught me that while attraction isn't always connected to the hottest or most charming guy, it's an essential component of a relationship. He was manly - something SLGs often lack - and I FINALLY realized how appealing the differences between a man and a woman can be. I also learned that while I want and need to be adored by any man I end up with, I also need to be with someone who challenges me and communicates with me.

So here I am again, still in the dating game - with its trauma and hilarity - and I'm finally on my own path to romantic maturity as I learn to balance practicality and chemistry.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

An interesting night

On Thursday I was supposed to write an eloquent and persuasive letter on behalf of one of my clients. However, I wasn't feeling particularly eloquent or persuasive. I was feeling annoyed.

I wasn't annoyed at anything in particular, but at everything in general. I was annoyed that some women don't exercise and are just naturally thin. I was annoyed that I'm not particularly stimulated by my job, but that fear of failure keeps me from pursuing my secret aspirations. I was annoyed that people don't use their turn signals when it's SO easy to do. I was annoyed that my Guy Roommate STILL hasn't grasped the concept of putting things INSIDE the dishwasher, instead of next to it. I was annoyed that people keep telling me I'll find love "when I'm not looking for it." What a load of crap. Not that finding love is the sole focus of my life, but unless I become a bitter, haggard woman living in a small apartment with a bunch of cats, I seriously don't see how I will ever not be looking for love...until I find it.

But mostly, I was annoyed that I was annoyed. Luckily, it was Thursday, and the best remedy for a grumpy mood is Thursday night date night with my Girl Roommate. I thought going out with my roommie was a great idea until I got to the bar and came face-to-face with MML for the first time since he ended things.

MML was with FunnyMan and Hair, two of my favorite people, and we all had a happy reunion. I figured we would get the hugs and hellos out of the way, and then my Girl Roommate and I would continue with our evening.

Nope.

MML was clearly drunk, and it was mere seconds before he was all over me. He was dancing with me, on me, or around me for the majority of the next several hours. His buzz made him deeply aware that there is nothing sexier to a woman trying to have a conversation with someone else, than a man who dumped her, coming up and ramming his butt in to her crotch and stomach. Sexy.

As the night went on, and I was laughing and talking with my friends, he was kissing my cheek, rubbing my back, sweeping my bangs off my forehead and pulling me as close to him as physically possible. He couldn't stand it when I wasn't paying attention to him, he couldn't stand it when I was talking to his friends and not to him, and he couldn't stand it when I was looking at the crowd and not dancing with him. Confused, I didn't overtly reject his advances. Instead, I quietly, gently and consistently moved his hand, his lips, and his body away from me. MML finally left the bar to go home, and I stayed for awhile as my Girl Roommate's wingwoman. When I got home, I wasn't at all surprised to find the following text from MML: "What are you doing?" Although 20 responses ranging from scathing to flirty came poring into my head, I managed not to respond at all.

The part of me that was abruptly dumped by someone I was beginning to have sincere feelings for, was triumphant and satisfied by this display of attention. But the part of me that wants to stop dating the wrong guys and find something lasting and real, was stunned to see a man who had spent three months convincing me that he was ready to move into the next stage of his life acting like a spoiled two-year-old who wasn't getting his way.

My limited interactions with MML since things ended between us, have made it increasingly clear that the guy I thought I was dating was partially a fraud. MML presented himself as a man with all the pieces of his life in place - a man who was happy with his life and ready to share it with someone. I sincerely believe he wanted to be that man, and I certainly wanted him to be that man...maybe we are both at fault for allowing ourselves to live in a fantasy world. But seeing him now, pouting when the girl he dumped won't come running back to his embrace, I see that he was a man-child playing dress-up. He was role playing with me; trying on adulthood like a costume for some play. I could be flattered that he cast me as his leading lady, but I'm not looking for a role-playing partner, I'm looking for a life partner.

Maybe it's hindsight, maybe it's my annoyed mood, but I'm hoping that I'm ever-so-slightly more wise having been able to resist a charming, successful and adorable guy to see a potentially hurtful situation. Plus, with the cat-lady years still safely in my future, I'm optimistic enough to let myself think that this experience will bring me one step closer to finding someone wonderful, someone who really is ready to share their life with me.