Wednesday, April 3, 2013

post-flail perspective

There was a period of time after my last long-term relationship ended when I was, to use a term from Girls, “flailing.” I had no footing and no understanding of how to be alone. I’m not someone that deals with things head on, so instead I let major events sink in over a few weeks or months while I psychologically process them. Post-breakup, this manifested as a desperate fear of being alone. For the last year, I’ve fought through that swamp of indecision, and I’ve arrived at a place with a lot more perspective, which I will share with you here.

(1) Repeat after me: “I AM BETTER THAN THIS DECISION.”

This is really effing hard to learn, because it requires you to have hindsight without actually having anything to reflect upon. But the next time you want to go home with a guy you just met or text your ex-boyfriend or wear a midriff-bearing top with denim shorts, say this 100 times, and then put on real pants.

(2) You’ll never feel better than you do on the first day you’re happy to wake up alone.

Kelly Clarkson tells us that “the bed is warmer / sleeping here alone,” but you know what? The bed is also bigger. And it doesn’t care if you’re wearing ugly underwear, or if you washed your hair yesterday, or if your alarm is going off too many times between snoozes. Boyfriends are not inanimate objects, but beds are. Someday, I will be thrilled to wake up every day next to someone wonderful, but right now I’m perfectly happy to stretch out in my cupcake pajamas, take a deep breath of morning air, and watch the newest episode of Mindy with my hair in a Mulan bun on the top of my head.

(3) Dates are weird, terrifying, fun social experiments.

We all date in the hopes of finding the perfect Ken doll, but in the meantime it can be fun to play with Mr. Potato Head. How will you know what features you want unless you try them out first? I went on this perfect date right before Christmas where me and this guy, we’ll call him Ben, walked around our town’s central square and drank cider and talked for hours, and that made me recognize some qualities that I really want in a guy. He was athletic but also not afraid to nerd out with me about books, had interesting hobbies that stopped short of creepy or obsessive, and had lots of ambition and funny stories. Unfortunately, he was also five years older than me and extremely interested in buying a house and getting married, which I am not. So basically, I found Mr. Potato Head’s shoes, but the hat didn’t quite look right. Dates are weird and strange and sometimes extremely uncomfortable, but can be so much more fun when just viewed as exercises in trial and error.

(4) You never know what great friends you have until you go through a breakup.

I always knew I had good friends, but after I broke up with my ex, I realized that I have great friends. If I were still dating him, I probably never would have realized the cynical bond and love of fried food that Mandy and I share. I wouldn’t have discovered Julia’s love of animated movies or had nearly as many wine and Bravo nights with Kate. I would have talked to my boyfriend about all of the things going right or wrong in my life, but instead I started divulging this information to my friends. I realized what great, ridiculous, beautifully flawed people they are, and thank goodness I didn’t wait another day to discover that.

(5) Being single = so much more free time.

Looking back, I honestly don’t know how I had time for a boyfriend. I spent half my time walking back and forth from his house, checking in with him, telling him about my day, and washing his socks that he threw into my hamper. Now, my schedule is otherwise exactly the same but I can’t imagine devoting that much time to one person other than myself. Maybe that means I became more selfish, but I think that’s fine. I know I’ll make the time when someone good comes along again. Until then, I have dinner with me and I just can’t cancel that again.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

why leslie knope is the perfect career role model

I will openly admit that my eyes got a little moist when Leslie and Ben got married last week on Parks and Rec. I will also freely say that I love Leslie Knope. If there is one fictional character who I would want to be my crack spirit guide, it would be her. Mostly because she would tell me that crack is a terrible idea and I should throw that stupid junk away and go for a run instead, which is great advice. But I also think that as a young person just starting my career, I want to look to characters like her to emulate professionally.

(1) She is incredibly respected and loved BECAUSE of her all-consuming neuroticism.
Uptight characters in TV shows always kind of get a bad rap—I’m thinking of Paris from Gilmore Girls, Angela from The Office, and Monica from Friends. Sure, people love these characters and they always ultimately reveal that they have this heart of gold or whatever, but people love them IN SPITE of their neuroticism. People love Leslie BECAUSE she smothers her friends, family, and enemies with exactly the same amount of pathological energy, and she never apologizes for it. 

(2) Similarly, she found love despite the fact that she is not laid back.
Laid back people are always the ones who find love, because they’re so open to new experiences and so unconcerned about how things will pan out. (This is how I’m told laid back people handle things. I am entirely un-laid back so I can’t speak from first person experience.) But Leslie found Ben, who is just as neurotic in his own right, and they’re going to have delightful, worry-ridden children who are smothered with care and affection. I think that is beautiful.

(3) She is super enthusiastic about every task she tackles.
If there is one thing I learned as an intern, it is that nothing will get you further than tackling any task you are given with an unnecessary energy and pizzazz. Filing? I love filing. Updating spreadsheets? Bring it. Leslie pays attention to every detail, and this is why she is great at what she does.

(4) She doesn’t need to put others down to get ahead.
Leslie has a lot of co-workers, but she chooses to cherish them rather than compete with them, and at the same time is not a pushover by any stretch of the imagination. This works to her benefit because she gets promotions with the support her colleagues instead of by stepping on their toes. If she ever did step on their toes, it would be by accident and she would immediately apologize.

(5) She is both feminine and a feminist.
This is a dichotomy that angers me. I consider myself a feminist, because I am a woman and I like women’s rights. I also like pink and wearing dresses and cute baby animals. I hate that in modern society, these things often cannot coexist. Leslie is fiercely pro-women, and she fights her battles with well coiffed hair and ironed clothes. Ten points.

(6) She’s nice even when she’s mad.
This is a hard thing to do, but she’s a classy broad. She gets mad for logical, loyal reasons, or when people hurt her friends. She is never irrational and never unjustified, and the anger is always rooted in love for something.

(7) She likes waffles.
This doesn’t really relate to her career, but I just like a woman who has a sweet tooth and isn’t ashamed to admit it. I love French fries, you mad?

a goldilocks chart of male habits, quirks, and attributes pt. 1

Weird facial hair patterns. If you look like you have crop circles on your chin, then the only thing you can hope to attract is an alien.
Overuse of gel. Unless you are a member of N’Sync circa 1998, no one will ever find this attractive.
Well-kept, shampooed hair that smells nice. Lather, rinse, repeat. That’s all it should take.

Pulling it whilst hooking up. The only memory I have of hair pulling relates to not sharing my Ken doll with my sister, and I don’t want to think about either of those things when getting down with someone.
Stroking it. If you want a dog, get a dog, but please do not pretend that I am a longhaired corgi. All that does is make me think you’ll kill me in my sleep.
Brushing my hair out of my eyes. I don’t know why I think this is so attractive. It feels gentle and caring, and makes me think you just want an unobstructed view of my beautiful face.

Ordering for me. I love eating, and I love choosing foods to try. You THOUGHT I wanted a salad? Nope, I wanted a cheeseburger, you asshole. Are you calling me fat?
Being completely ignorant. I once went on a date with a guy who had trouble ordering at Starbucks because “it was too fancy.” He ended up ordering a frappe because it sounded like a milkshake. Don’t be this guy.
Being a connoisseur without being a dick about it. I love when guys ask what kinds of beer I like and then suggest something I haven’t had before but might like to try. In my opinion, this is up there in classiness with wearing a pea coat and knowing cool things at museums. 
Not introducing me at all, as if I am not there or as if everyone in the room already knows me. Hi, I’m Casper the friendly disposable hookup.
Make weird overages of ownership, like physically clingy to me during conversations with others. In my mind, this conjures a red flag for a Gollum/ring type of possessiveness. 
A quick, “Hey guys, this is X. X, this is Joe, Steve, Tom, etc.” will suffice. Why is that so hard?
Assuming. Not every girl wants to be your girlfriend, Casanova. I probably don’t want to be your girlfriend, so you should clarify. Boys and buses, kiddo.
Jumping the gun. Putting me in your profile picture before we’re actually together. Inviting me on double dates with long-term couples when I’ve known you for like three days. Ahh. 
Handle this with a mature conversation. Say it with me. Mature. Conversation.
Words like slut and whore will get you slapped, clawed, or excessively bitten, and not in the fun way.
Love. Do not bring up love in bed if we haven’t discussed love when we’re both wearing clothes.
My name. What you like. What you don’t like, but in a polite way. The occasional dirty but respectful remark. That is a whole list to which you can refer in the future.
An IOU. It is literally the same as giving me an index card that says, “I only just barely care enough to write a few words on this card so here, have this, and pretend it will eventually turn into something better.”
An overly extravagant gift when we’ve been dating for ten minutes. Thanks for the diamonds, I hope you like your new t-shirt with a penguin ironically wearing sunglasses.
Something thoughtful, but small. The best gift a guy ever gave me was a pair of earrings that exactly matched one I lost the night we met. They cost him approximately seven dollars plus shipping, and I still love them dearly.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

why real world dating is really fucking scary

He could not just have an STD, but other non-venereal diseases. Like measles. I don't just want you to get an STD test but also a throat culture.

I want to see a valid driver's license, a school ID, proof of residence, an SAT score report, an assessment of your credit score, and 2 - 3 legitimate references.

Similarly, there is a very slim possibility that he went to the same college as me. Perhaps he went to a good college, but even so. In the real world, you don't have the comfort of knowing that you and whatever guy you're talking to were at least vetted by the same admissions committee. Oh, wait, you didn't go to college at all? Oh, you work at a Foot Locker?

We have few or no mutual friends, which means I have no knowledge of your backstory. Perhaps you fit all the previous qualifications and you're still a sociopath who is going to hit me with a shovel as soon as we leave the bar. Maybe I could love you despite your flaws, but before I make that decision I would like on have a firm grasp on what your flaws ARE.

Just being attracted to someone in college doesn't mean you should hook up with them, but just being attracted to someone in the real world doesn't mean you should hook up with them, go anywhere with them but a crowded public place, or give them any personal details more specific than a pseudonym.

If you run into the same guy all the time in college, that means you probably have similar schedules. If you run into the same guy all the time in the real world, he might be stalking you, and thus this level of crazy.

Along those lines, having no knowledge of your history means I have no way of tastefully researching your ex-girlfriends.

And so somehow, every conversation I have with a guy in the real world leaves me feeling like this:

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

some thoughts on loving yourself.

a close reading of "Boys and Buses" from the TV show Nashville

It is generally my advice NOT to follow anything Hayden Pene-whatever tells you to do (she just looks like a  bitch, amiright?). However, she is so right on in her song "Boys and Buses" from Nashville. So props to her writers for identifying with every 9-29 year old woman in America.

I had a broken heart and a broken heel
And a break down when those big old wheels
Left with him and left me in a cloud of deep old dust

I imagine the broken heel was a result of all the chasing after buses she had previously done. The broken heart was inevitably a result of another d-bag who said he loved her despite her oddly shaped body and terrible personality only to leave her [for a job, to take a trip, to be with another woman, to live with his parents, to "find himself"].

She was sitting there with her beehive hair
and said, "Honey that's a waste of good mascara."
She handed me a pink Kleenex, and I'll never forget what she said next

I love a good beehive. Especially when it is accompanied by fantastic advice. This woman has clearly been in the dating rodeo and has made it to the other side. She appreciates the value of good mascara and that a man who is willing to pack up and leave without you has no right making you look like a raccoon in a rainstorm.

Boys and buses got a lot in common
They both pick up speed when you try and stop 'em.
You could waste your breath, you could scream and cuss 'em
But there's no use chasin' after boys and buses.

This is not only an excellent lyrical metaphor, but also incredibly true. There's something about men - the more you show your interest, the less interested they become in return. The last thing that will get you a man back is tracking him down at a bus station and screaming for him not to go. That essentially translates to, "I need you to stay because we need to take our family portrait at Sears for the Christmas card! Say goodbye to your freedom!" We may just want someone to want us, to watch celebrity reality shows with us, and to be there when we wake up, but even this can be too much for some. In which case, DO NOT try to stop them. If he figures out he made the wrong decision, he can buy his own ticket back like the idiot he is.

She said, "Some leave with a guitar case,
some wind up at an army base. 
Some ain't got much under the hood,
some roll it on out to Hollywood.

If you're dating someone who plays the guitar, they are probably going to leave you. I'm sure there's some empirical support for that. And yes, some ain't got much under the hood. In fact most of them don't. And if you're dating an actor...sweetie, just give up now. Especially if he's a musical theater actor.

But the cost is lost when the ticket's bought
and you can't catch what don't wanna be caught.
But when those tail lights start to dim
there's another one comin' right around the bend.

The cost: the gifts, the shared movie theater popcorn you paid for, the mental anguish spent trying to please his mother. You are not getting those back. Luckily, once they're gone you can invest in yourself. So you may never get that autographed poster of their favorite band back, but you will hopefully get some peace of mind. Or his new address to egg his house. The choice is yours.

Sometimes love and transportation 
will spin their wheels and keep you waiting.
But anytime you think you've missed it
Just give it ten or fifteen minutes.

This is where Hayden really gets it right. No matter how much it hurts to watch someone leave, time heals all broken hearts. After some time, you'll hear the familiar sound and get excited, anticipating, hoping that this bus will be your bus, the one you've been waiting for. It always feels longer than it's actually been when you're waiting for the bus, and it's not always 15 minutes. But there will always be another boy (and bus) coming around, hopefully a little cleaner and more respecting of your attributes as a successful independent woman who values public transportation.

the inner monologue of watching someone facebook stalk your ex.

OK, this girl next to me really likes to Facebook chat in class. That's cool, more likely I'll get an A.
Is she Facebook chatting my ex? She can't be.
...leans in, pretending to strech...
Yep. Yep. She is definitely Facebook chatting my ex.
...Shock. Horror...

Too far away to read what is being said. Crap.
Oh, now she has clicked on his profile. Yeah girl, I know, he's not very photogenic. I understand why your made this face:
Wait, why am I sympathizing with her? Only I'm allowed to judge his lack of normal Facebook proficiency. WHY ARE YOU EVEN LOOKING AT HIS PAGE?
Why are they still chatting? Are they hooking up? Have they hooked up? Maybe they're just planning a mixer.
Maybe they're talking about how heartbroken they are after their latest breakups and how awesome their exes are. Maybe they're just talking about having high IQs. Maybe she's bringing legal charges against him and they're angrily messaging about the details of his plea bargain.
Or maybe they're hooking up.
...silent judgment of self for even having that thought...
Well, fuck.

Monday, February 4, 2013

a typical monday night conversation

10:00PM, February 4th. Maggie's phone rings. It's Mandy.

Maggie: Hey, what's up?
Mandy: Hey. I have an important dating question.
Maggie: Mmhm?
Mandy: (muffled) I'm picking up an order for Amanda?
Maggie: ...Where are you?
Mandy: What? Oh. Picking up buffalo wings. Obviously. Anyway.

Remember, we don't trust people who don't like meat, or snacks.

especially the first one

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

best friend is not a title, danny. its a tier.

In last night’s episode, we saw Mindy realize that the creepy midwife she was sleeping with is an asshole. He refuses to commit to any formal type of relationship and is apparently choosing to date a tiny Asian refugee who doesn’t speak English yet enjoys 3D children’s movies over her. Like, the guy is a midwife. If only she’d run the non-delusional potential murderer test on him sooner, she would have figured he was a no-go like three episodes ago. (Sidenote: I actually go to a midwife instead of a gynecologist, but she’s a really nice lesbian who talks to me about things like “respecting my cervix.” Brandon is a creepy Voldemort-y guy with feathered hair and hot stone treatments and a bathtub in his office.) But anyway, we discussed him and decided that he is an amalgamation of everything we hate about the guys we’ve hooked up with but not actually dated. Like, there’s something wrong with him and you know you don’t want him around permanently, but for right now he’s okay. The problem with guys like this is that they’re easy to get attached to because they’re convenient. Butch friend Maggie (holla atcha name, but do you have to be a gym teacher?) said it best in her response to Mindy’s clingy bitching. “Why? Because he worked upstairs from you? Because he had a bad personality?” That’s the thing about this kind of guy. You start to want him around because you like the attention and you’re bored and you want to prove he can’t do better than you, but when it boils down to it, there’s nothing you can pinpoint actively liking about him. Mindy knows this, too, it just takes a little help to realize at times. If you recall, this was her natural reaction last week when she realized Brandon didn't like snacks. You don't make this face if the guy is a keeper.

I was hanging out with a guy right before I went to college, we’ll call him Ted, and he was fine. That’s how I’d describe him. Fine. Not particularly boring or awful, but not great either.  I didn’t actually realize that he was one of these disposable types of guys until one night when I asked him to come with me to a party at my friend’s house and he was disgustingly non-committal.

Me: Why?
Ted: Because I hate sleeping on floors.
Me: What? Ok, we’ll claim a couch.
Ted: Eh.
Me: Ted, do you just not want to go to this party?
Ted: I just don’t want to spend the night with a bunch of people I don’t know.

That was, TSwift style, The Moment I Knew. A guy who is worth more time than a haircut will want to meet your friends. Even if your friends are literally a bunch of banshees and she-goyles, he will willingly spend time with them and probably will even pretend to like them if he likes you. Ted did not fall into this part of the romantic ven diagram and, sorry Minds, neither does Brandon.

Anyway, back to the show. We also saw her start to date BJ Novak and his girlfriend, I mean best friend, I mean stalker. How did Lucy know what restaurant they were going to? I think that is significantly more Swimfan than When Harry Met Sally, but I digress. A guy with a girl-best-friend is not necessarily a bad thing, and actually is sometimes a good thing because that means other females are willing to tolerate his presence. But if the friend is significantly hotter than you and sitting on his lap, that bitch is gonna win.

And even though (as previously stated like a hundred times) we love Mindy, she did get a few things wrong in this episode.
(1) Yes, girls do care about abs.
(2) A houndstooth dress with a white button-up? You looked like a semi-stylish Indian puritan.
(3) You should have ignored your friend and thrown the nachos.
(4) This was actually Butch Maggie who said this, but men should not be the reason you get out of bed in the morning. You know why I get out of bed in the morning? Bitterness and toaster strudels.


Tuesday, January 29, 2013

lessons we've learned about dating. and life. but mostly dating.

1) One flaw = leverage. Many flaws = run.

2) It's generally a good idea to fully assess a guy's potential to become a murderer in the next five-ten years. This sounds obvious, but it is incredibly easy to develop blinders to what you would otherwise see as charming qualities. Like if he is a javelin thrower. Or if he has more hair on his chin than on his head. Just think about these things.

3) One act of kindness does not make a guy NOT an asshole. Even if its something really cute, like showing up at a performance or a gallery opening or your little sister's dance recital or something. Maybe he is a nice guy, but never underestimate the lengths a guy will go to in order to get laid.

4) Never trust guys who don't like red meat. Or chocolate. Or snacks, which is a lesson we learned from our good friend Mindy (Kaling, obviously.)

5) How a guy dresses really does say things about him as a person. This does not mean that a guy must be borderline metrosexual, but hygiene and a general sense of taste goes a long way. Red flags to watch out for: -Flannel as outerwear.
-What could easily be mistaken as women's pants or shoes.
-Headbands in general.
-Man leggings. Apparently this is a thing now, and unless you're in a performance of Romeo and Juliet this has never been and will never be okay. (Meggings?)
-Muscle tees if there is no muscle to be displayed.
-Hoods indoors. (Maggie notes: This is a personal pet peeve. Unless it is suddenly raining from the roof of your classroom or you are actually a fugitive, behave like an adult.)
-Backpacks in the professional world. Similarly, sneakers in the professional world. ("Are you in a fraternity? Are you Steve Jobs? Hold on a second, are you the billionaire owner of Apple Computers? Well, in that case, you have no right to wear New Balance sneakers. Ever." -Ryan Gosling, Crazy Stupid Love)

6) If you're in limbo with someone relationship-wise, you'll probably be in limbo until one of you gets married or dies.

Addendum to this gif: A person either has to be (a) perfect or (b) Ryan Gosling to be exactly what you need.

Mandy + Maggie

non-delusional girl talk tuesday night: our first post

“Nothing gives you confidence like being a member of a small, weirdly specific, hard-to-find demographic.” 
― Mindy KalingIs Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?

Being a non-delusional girl in college / in your early twenties is like being a penguin in the Sahara. It's awkward, you're always a little too dressed up, and you're just generally pretty uncomfortable most of the time.

Our non-delusion came to be over Tuesday lunches. We realized, while discussing the social networking activities of one of our particularly delusional acquaintances that we were about to be the leaders of a revolution. This is the second Feminine Mystique, one might say.

So welcome, reader, to the first post of our Bro Bible for Girls Who Are Better Than Bros Who Need Bibles.

Mandy + Maggie