Tatiana Talks

For My Dad on Father’s Day

What follows has more curse words than is typical for me, but it is a post for my father and he would want it that way.

Like many in America, I heard about the recent pew study finding more than 40 percent of households are being supported by women.

I can’t say this surprised me, though the total shit-storm that erupted because of it did take me back a bit. And I was going to post a rant about how screwed up some of these douchebags are, especially after watching Megyn Kelly (really? Can we see a birth certificate as I don’t buy her mother named her Megyn with a y) handed two of these assholes their hats and I found myself cheering for her. But since it is Father’s Day, and my dad has a secret crush on Megyn, I decided I would be nice.

Instead, I think I am going to take this opportunity to tell you a little something about my family. My unholy, unnatural family.

My mom was the primary earner in our house.

That’s right. My mother was one of the 40 percent before there was such a thing. Always a trailblazer that one.

Whether it was because he was in school or economic hard times kept him out of a job, for portions of my childhood, my dad stayed at home while my mom worked. Even when he worked, my mother’s paycheck was bigger than his. 

And, according to some asshats out there, my family is what is wrong with America.

Because, instead of wringing her hands and spending her time in the kitchen, my mother worked. While she was working, my father was the one who took me to dance class and piano lessons and shopping for my first bra.

Which is why I am such a fuck up today. I mean, I’m a total degenerate. As are my brother and sister.

Oh, wait, that’s not right. We're actually all pretty normal, functioning members of society. We work. We pay taxes. Ivan and Lana even rescue dogs for crying out loud. Bad people don’t rescue dogs. 

Yes. It’s true, more people know my father as “my father” or in some cases by Ivan’s first name because they just assume he named his son after himself, than they might know him from his professional life. But it doesn’t seem to bother him. Give him a cigar and a Scotch and my father will tell you story after story about running into our old teachers and coaches and friends’ parents and friends. 

My father loves being a father. More than he ever loved working. And there is nothing wrong or unmanly or unnatural about that. 

In fact, Erick Erickson, I think you should go knock on my parents door and tell my father to his face you think our family is unnatural and the reason America is going down the toilet. Because I think it would be hysterical to watch you explain to your viewers how a man who stayed at home taking care of his kids while his wife worked to support the family gave you a black eye and a broken nose.

Maybe instead of blaming feminists or women who support their families out of desire or necessity, you should be looking for ways to turn this bullshit paradigm on its head.

Maybe we should stop defining men by the title on their business card, the zeroes on their pay-stubs or the number of women they’ve banged and instead ask if he is a good fathers. Is he a good providers, not just of a roof over his family's head, but of love and support of his family and occasionally a shoulder for his teenage daughter to cry on, say when her best friend stole her boyfriend and it feels like her world is coming to an end.

Because right now, there is a man who did just that, sitting on his deck, smoking a cigar, next to a pile of opened Father’s Day cards, possibly with a tear in his eye because he got emotional after reading what his favorite daughter wrote, wishing his children would give him grandkids instead of just golf balls and cigars.

And you know what? There is nothing unnatural about him.

Happy Father’s Day, Dad.

Thank You, Superstorm Sandy

Lana bought this book for me for my 16th birthday.
I still have it.
When someone asks “How are you doing?” I almost always respond: “Well, thanks. You?” “Well” is simple. The truth is not. But the well-meaning stranger doesn’t want the truth. They were just being polite. So, I return the favor by not regaling the person with all the problems keeping me up at night.

The same can be said for when someone asks, “Are you and your sister close?” The simple answer is “Yes.”  The truth is more complicated than that.
I love my sister. I can (and do) tell her everything. When Houdini dumped me via text message, she was the person I called and she was there in less than an hour with a big bottle of wine and a pack of cigarettes. When I lost my job, she was my first call, and again she was there with cigarettes and wine.

She is my biggest fan and cheerleader and challenges me to be a better person. She is my sister. We email everyday and text on the weekends and have inside jokes, and no one's opinion means more to me (with the possible exception of my mother). Is that close?

But it wasn't always like this. Growing up, Lana was a few years older than me and often saddled with the responsibility of watching me while our mother slept (she worked nights) and my father studied. Imagine being 14-years-old and wanting to just hang out with your friends and talk about boys, but all your friends are too busy cooing over your super adorable little sister. You would hate me too.

As I got older, I became a bigger pest, borrowing her clothes and subsequently ruining them, giving her even less privacy than she had at 14, and telling my mom whenever she did anything wrong.

Eventually, Lana left home, went to college and got a tattoo: cementing her status as the coolest person I knew.

In return for no longer having her favorite sweaters stolen, Lana began to give me advice, took me to parties, and when she was home on break she helped me cut class. Even without email, Facebook and cell phones, it was probably during this time that my sister and I were closest.

But then I started to grow-up and over the next few years she had to adjust to the idea that I was also a grown-up that didn’t always need her big sister.

I had to realize that my hero was also a human.

It was a tough adjustment period, and at times I wondered if my sister weren’t my sister, would she still be my friend?

I got my answer last week.

Hurricane (or, I’m, sorry, Superstorm) Sandy hit the East Coast last week. While Philadelphia was relatively unscathed, airports (as well as the city) shutdown in anticipation of a catastrophe. And my sister, who was in town to cheer me on in the Marine Corp Marathon, was stuck in Philadelphia. I didn’t have anywhere to go – my office was closed – so while Sandy ravaged New York and New Jersey, Lana and I sat on my couch, ate junk food, watched trashy television, farted, didn’t shower, laughed, and talked. Neither of us needed anything from the other. She didn’t need my shoulder to cry on; I didn’t need her to fight a battle for me.  

I feel terrible for all those that have suffered loss because of this superstorm. But I can’t help but be grateful for the good things that came out of it – corporations opening their doors and donating their warmth and more importantly their electricity to those without both, Republicans and Democrats coming together to get relief to those that need it, and New Yorkers actually learning their neighbors' names.

And my sister and I becoming close. Again.

Fifty Shades of Gross

Like everyone else in America, I had heard of this new super series, Fifty Shades of Grey. I knew it was steaming up the bedrooms and bathrooms of women everywhere and I was even interested in reading it myself.

That is until my father told me he was reading it.

Now, I’m not a prude, nor is anyone in my family. But we all have a quiet understanding that I’m a virgin, Ivan was a virgin until he was married, as was Lana who is now saving herself for her next husband, and that our parents had sex only three times. It works for us, because, let’s be honest, thinking about a family member having sex is disturbing.

This bubble was burst when I climbed into my father’s jeep and he asked, “Have you heard of the book, Fifty Shades of Grey?”

“I have. It is basically porn (I can’t say erotica to my father). You don’t want to read it.”

“I already started it.”

I made an incredulous face.

“Your mom bought it. She said you recommended it and I thought it was gonna be like the Hunger Games.”

“I did not recommend that book to Mom. I told Lana to read it. She must have told Mom about it.”

“Well, Kid, let me tell you, you shouldn’t read it. You aren’t gonna get past Chapter Two before you run out of your apartment and just grab the first guy you see and drag him back to your place.”

I swallow back vomit.

“And I am sure as hell not going to let your mother read it.”

I give him a sideways glance at “let.”

“I’m an old man. I don’t think I could keep up with her. I would have to call friends in to help. You know that Viagra commercial with the warning about a four hour…”

“Dad! Stop!” I couldn’t stomach hearing him say the word erection. Just hearing Viagra was enough.

Now, sometimes after a night of drinking I won’t remember the details of certain conversations. I immediately started drinking hoping that would be the case here. Sadly it wasn’t, though I still continue to drink in hopes of erasing that conversation from my memory.

Moms – Gotta Love ‘Em.

There is one thing I will never grow tired of seeing – the look of shock that is on my mother’s face whenever she tells me I look nice.

Fortunately for me, I got to see a lot of it these past couple of weeks.

Like me, my mother suffers from the antipoker-face face. Every thought and feeling she is having broadcasts across her mug. So, like me, she doesn’t bother lying.

So I know she isn’t lying when she tells me I look nice. But it’s funny to read on her face that it surprises her so much. What’s funnier is that it borders on astonishment.

For Thanksgiving dinner, I was wearing a nice skirt, make-up, and had just finished my hair. She said, “You look nice.” Her face said, “Why are you getting so dressed up? It’s just Daddy and I?”

Last week she was in the city attending a conference. I met her out for dinner. Again she commented on how nice I looked. Again her face told the whole story: “Wow, you almost look as nice as Lana (my older, prettier sister). I really don’t understand why you aren’t dating one of the attorneys you work with.”

But the best face – the face that was so distorted in confusion I actually had to call her out on it – was when I was leaving to meet up with friends on Saturday night (over Thanksgiving weekend). As I came down stairs, her face pulled back in horror, she stared at me, her whole head turning to watch me as I made my way to the couch. I could feel her gaze on the side of my head as I transferred my ID and money from my purse to my clutch. I couldn’t help but smile in anticipation of what face awaited me.

I wasn’t disappointed. Her face was equal parts “you are not my daughter” mixed with “I don’t understand if you can look this nice, why wouldn’t paint you face this way all the time” topped with just a touch of “did my husband and I really manage to produce that?”

And of course it would be flattering, if it didn’t all boil down to the fact that my mother is shocked that I can be pretty.

The Bride: Part Two

Just the other day, at my desk, I was reading an email from Salty. We were going to see a show together that night and she was wondering if we should get a drink and maybe a quick bite before the show, and if so, where.

I shot her an email back saying we will definitely need food and drink and I would come up with a place. Later, when I finally focused on it, I had a list of 15 or so places in a matter of minutes. I shot the list to Salty, she responded, picking a place from my list and just like that we had a plan.

Now, about a month ago, Salty and I were sending similar messages back and forth, trying to figure out where we wanted to go for happy hour. It took us all day to make a plan and even then, I wasn’t thrilled about it, despite Salty picking one of my favorite places for happy hour. Why the ennui? If you had asked me then I would have said I was in a funk. With hindsight I realize it was because it was a Friday night and I thought I should have been going to a bar where there was better potential to talk to a guy.

The past several months, everywhere I was, I was sad. I was also anxious, and angry, and disappointed as well. If someone asked I dismissed it as a funk (or claimed I had no idea what they were talking about).

When friends wanted to get together for drinks, I would get annoyed about the place they picked.

When they wanted to get together at someone’s house, I was frustrated we weren’t going out.

When I didn’t have plans with them, I felt like a loser sitting in my apartment, all alone on a weekend night.

When I got back from Spain and people asked if I made out with any hot guys, I felt like a failure when I said no.

Yes. You read that last part right. I felt disappointed in getting to go to Spain with my three best friends: only mildly, but still. What the hell was wrong with me?

On my way back to civilization, in the jeep with my dad, both of us silent, I really started thinking about all the energy I was expending on the quest for a boyfriend. About how when the hot guy at my office is talking to his secretary, I stop working and listen to what he has to say in case he drops some crucial piece of information that I could possibly use later to strike up a conversation.

I thought about the new tattoo I wanted for my birthday, but held off on getting it because I worried that it might make me desirable to a smaller circle of men.

Probably the worst part was that I wasn’t writing. In addition to wondering what to blog about if I wasn’t blogging about guys (a question that should have given me more perspective that it did, sadly) I was also worried that I could possibly meet an awesome guy that wouldn’t want to date me after he learned about my blog. As for my other writing, when did I have time between my various jobs, going out, and obsessively worrying about the fact that I still didn’t have a boyfriend.

Why was I doing this to myself? Was being single really so terrifying?

Actually, it isn’t. I have long known I am really good at being single. I actually like drinking wine and watching movies by myself. I also prefer sleeping in a bed by myself and thanks to my big hands and my father’s instruction, I don’t need a man around to open jars or hang the art I bought in Granada.

I also know that being in a relationship isn’t all walks on the beach and candlelight dinners. It comes with a slew of problems and headaches and heartaches.

So, again, what the hell was wrong with me.

A couple weeks later, on another deck, with another man asking when I was going to find someone that was right for me, it hit me. Probably never.

But it wasn’t a woe’s me probably never. Or I am woman hear me roar probably never. Or even a men suck no one is good enough for me probably never.

Just a probably never because I’m done trying so freakin’ hard.

Instead, I am refocusing that energy. I’m knitting and writing and working on my office at my apartment because I am no longer convinced that I may have to leave Philadelphia to find my mate. I got to spend Halloween weekend not shivering in a slutty version of a costume, but in D.C. cheering for Lana (who finished the Marine Corp Marathon). I have been working, writing, and making plans, all without first wondering how any of it will impact my chances of meeting someone.

Which is how I found myself with Salty at one of our favorite martini bars in the city. As we sat there, chatting with the female bartender, Salty wondered why we don’t come here more often.

I looked around the bar and smiled, “Because there are never any dudes here.” She looked around, smiled, and raised her glass.

Cheers to that.

It’s Not Giving Up: Wherein I Attempt to Explain Why I Haven’t Blogged in So Many Months While Simultaneously Avoiding the Topic Altogether

I apologize in advance at the jumping around this post will do. But to tell this story, I am going to have to go all Tarantino on you folks. And because it is so long, I am going to break it up in two volumes.

A couple of weeks ago, on a deck in the middle of nowhere, the Duke (the Duchess’s beau) was asking me (as he always does) if there were any men in my life. I smiled and shook my head. After the typical notes of disbelief, the Duke then starts telling me about his cousin. I stopped listening until Bridie came out onto the deck and asked, “Are you really trying to set her up with a 50 year old that still lives at home with his parents?”

The Duke shrugged his shoulders innocently. The Duchess pointed out that the 50 year old is a really nice guy. I just laughed.

While, laughter was my normal go to response in these sort of situations, it was then followed my hours of self-doubt, wondering what it says about me that my friends want to set me up with a 50 year old guy that still lives in the suburbs with his parents. Followed by more doubts about whether there is anyone good left. That inevitably led to the plummet of desperation and sadness that I was never going to meet anyone and I would be alone forever which only ever led to the inexplicable resolve to move out of Philadelphia because life would be better in New York City, or Chicago, or Washington, D.C., or San Francisco.

But this time I just laughed and meant it.

See, a couple of weeks before that, on another deck just north of nowhere, I was sitting with my father. He was smoking a cigar, drinking a beer. I was drinking a beer, craving a cigarette. We were both silent, trying to think of something to talk about.

After several failed attempts to engage me in a political debate, he finally asked, “So, is there anything else going on in your life?”

I shrugged my shoulder. “Not really?”

“Any guys?”

I shook my head. “Nope.”

Then my father shocked me. Instead of retreating back into silence he continued “I know you have really high standards, kid. But do me a favor, don’t wait until I’m dead to introduce me to the guy you finally fall in love with. Because I swear, if the first time I meet your boyfriend is at my funeral, I will haunt your honeymoon.”

What a lovely thought.

I attempt to assure my father that my intention is not to wait until he is dead and that I really am trying to find someone. As I say it out loud the truth of it hits me. Recently I have become consumed with meeting someone. I've told friends that I was open to meeting any single guys they know. I never left my apartment without make-up, even when I was leaving to ride my bike for 80 miles. I went on dates with other single girls so that I would have single girlfriends with whom I could go out and meet guys, I hopefully bought pretty underwear, and I agonized over what to wear to the gym. My every free thought is focused on what I can do next to find a boyfriend, which is exactly what I am about to say to him when I taste the bile in my mouth.

I force a smile and instead, off my father the platitudes I typically give him, ending with “Daddy, I am trying, but you know it is hard to find someone good enough for your little princess.”

It’s tough for a father to argue with that sort of logic. But while that answer was enough for my dad, it wasn’t enough for me.

To be continued Monday.

Rock Climber

Yes, it has been awhile. Feel free to fill the comments with complaints about what a unreliable blogger I am. I deserve it. But I had a reason (note, I did not say a good reason).

Those of you that follow me on Twitter and/or Facebook know that a month or so ago I declared that I was officially tired of blogging about douchy guys. Not only did it get boring, it started to feel self-defeating. The more I blogged about jerks, the more focused I became on jerks, the more convinced I became that world was filled with nothing but jerks.

And then I met the Rock Climber.

Spoiler alert: I am not involved with the Rock Climber (so, no, I didn’t drop my blog for a guy) nor did anything happen between the Rock Climber and I (well, we did hug, which is sort of a big deal for me), nor will anything happen between us (he’s about 20 and lives in Colorado). You may now continue reading the blog with your lowered expectations.

As you may know, Lana moved to Colorado about two years ago and since she moved has been begging me to come visit her. As soon as I emailed Lana that I booked my trip, she scheduled us to spend one of my days there rock climbing. In case you couldn’t tell from my blog I’m not exactly the rock climbing type. I’m not coordinated, or rugged, or skinny. Still, Lana was really excited about it and so I agreed so long as we could spend the next day at the spa fixing my manicure.

Our guide for the day, Rock Climber, was everything he should be: young, rugged, and cute. He smiled a lot, carried one of those big backpacks with all the pockets and places to store things (and actually used all the pockets and storage), and said “awesome” a lot. I couldn’t have written a better wilderness guide if I wanted to.

Now, I won’t bore you will all the details of the day – there were tears, cuts and scrapes, cheers and lunch – and will just skip to the good part.

It was the last climb of the day and Rock Climber thought we should try to tackle a particularly tough looking rock face. Lana agreed. I scoffed.

The first part of the climb was easy – well easier than I thought it was going to be. As I neared the top, neared Rock Climber, it got harder and I got tired. I couldn’t get my footing, my legs and arms were shaking, I kept slipping and I couldn’t catch my breath. Then I slipped again, this time falling completely off the rock (but not to my death thanks to Rock Climber) which is when I really started to freak out.

Over my heavy breathing and heart palpitations and the voice in my head screaming “this is good enough.” I could hear Rock Climber telling me to “Sit back in my harness. Relax. Breathe. Try putting your foot there.”

I shook my head. “I can’t do this.”

“Look at me.”

I looked up.

“I think you can.”

I honestly think I can say no man has ever looked at me that way before. He wasn’t just saying that; he really believed it. No man has ever believed in me like that.

Sure, I was (or rather, Lana was) paying him to be so supportive. But I can’t imagine holding my fat butt 20 feet off of the ground was a whole lot of fun for him. In fact, I think it probably would have been easier for him to look at me and ask, “You’re really done? Okay, catch your breath and I will ease you down.” Sadly, I’m pretty sure if he were any of my ex-boyfriends that is exactly what he would have done.

But he didn’t. He thought I could do it and as it turns out he was right.

Great. 19 More Reasons to Hate Single People

When I saw this, "19 Things You Should Never Say to a Single Person," on Lana’s Facebook page I had a lot of hope for it; I really did. And when it started out talking about all the tired clichés surrounding single women, I cheered (even as the author used several clichés to make her point). But then I started reading from the list and my heart sank. Really? Really we need another article that makes single women sound mean and spiteful and just plain miserable.

The only one (or two rather) I really could get behind as something I could go the rest of my life never hearing was the third one (and No. 17), “So, why are you single?” and “But you’re so pretty, why don’t you have a boyfriend?” Think about what you are asking here, people? You are literally asking the person to list her faults (which must be numerous) because obviously it is not all the losers out there. It is her.

I must admit, however, I also secretly love these questions because they allow me to answer in outrageous ways that leave the questioner dumbfounded. For instance there was a time when a guy asked me “How is it you’re still single?” And I whispered back, “I have a little penis.”

Yes, I get that this guy was probably trying to pay me a compliment, but if he couldn’t just accept his good fortune of meeting me while I was still single and not question it, well, then he is probably not the one for me.

Okay, maybe I really need to start answering this question, “because I’m a bit of a smart ass.”

The rest of these clichés, however, seemed more like a list of polite things people say to each other when you're not quite sure what to say.

Take the first one, for example. Yeah, I too am tired of hearing, “you’ll find him when you least expect it/when you stop looking.” (And actually I combined cliché No. 1 and No. 15). I heard this a lot over the past year when I told people I really didn’t have time in my life for a relationship right now.

Now, I just told you I don’t have time for anyone in my life. So here’s hoping I don’t meet someone because it wouldn’t be the right time (see cliché No. 7) now you could come back with cliché No. 16, but if you know me, you know there is no way I am going to let a guy ruin my life (yeah, I didn’t get that one either). So you come at me with No. 1/No. 15. But here’s the thing, get in real close because I am about to tell you a huge secret, single people are always looking. It’s the way we are programmed. Countless magazines and “news” stories have told us that we will find him when we least expect it so now we expect it all the time, meaning according to you we are doomed to never find him.

So yes, even when I didn’t have time in my life for a boyfriend, I was still looking for one. Not very actively. But still. The only reason I am telling you I don’t have time for someone is because that is my polite, nonpathetic response to you asking me if I am seeing someone. So what did you do? You responded with “oh, you’ll find him when you least expect it” as your polite, noncombative response to me. Sure you could have called bullshit and said, “So what you’re telling me Tati is that if Stewart Bradley walked in right now and told you he loved you and couldn’t live without you, you would tell him it wasn’t a good time?” But you didn’t, because you are my friend. And for that, I am grateful.

Another one that really annoyed me was No. 13 “Wow, I wish I was in your shoes!” and the poster’s comment, “Really?! I’m pretty sure you CAN be single if you actually wanted to be. That there is an attainable dream, so if you aren’t messing with me right now out of pity (which I suspect you are), please go for it!”

First, Poster, please never use a question mark and an exclamation point together again. Both those punctuation marks have suffered enough.

Second, I think you are doing something wrong. I know for a fact that a lot of my married friends and coupled-off friends really wouldn’t mind switching places with me on occasion. Being single can rock at times when being settled down sucks. And vice versa. Yes, it is awful having to get up during a wedding for the bouquet toss (or hearing cliché No. 14 “your turn next” though, that is such a grandma thing to say and how can you hate grandmas). But you know what is worse than enduring the call for all the single ladies to join the bride on the dance floor. Your son screaming “I have to poop, Mommy,” during the service. And all eyes turning to you, judging you, wondering why you didn’t just hire a baby-sitter instead of bringing your child to ruin your friend’s wedding.

And what about when your down and out because some jerk dumped you (You! You should have been the one dumping him he was such a jerk). And your friend offers “He just wasn’t the right guy for you.” Okay, that's not great. But we’ve all been there. She calls him a jerk and before she knows it, you and the jerk are back together and she is worried that you now think she hates your boyfriend. So she has to come up with something to say to make you feel better. Will it make you feel better? No. Neither will hearing No. 7 “It was just bad timing,” but let’s be honest. At that point in time would anything make you feel better?

And if that is the case, then how about, the next time your married friend is complaining about how her perfect husband watches too much sports (No. 19) you don’t jump down her throat about how great she has it, or roll your eyes and say, “the grass is always greener.”

No. 19’s Poster (who I suspect it is the same poster as No. 13) complains that single people in general don’t want to be complained to about “petty relationship stuff.” Are you kidding? Please continue to complain to me about all your petty relationship stuff. That is when I feel best about being single. Well, wait, no, actually I feel best about being single after I buy an expensive pocketbook, knowing no one at home will make me feel bad about my purchase or ask “how much was that?” or “do you really need another black purse?”

But I feel second best when my friends are complaining about how their seemingly perfect boyfriends (or husbands) leave their dirty underwear on the floor of the bathroom. I close my eyes and thank my lucky stars that the only dirty underwear I ever have to pick up is my own. On nights like that, I run around my apartment, blissful that, even when it's messy, it is all my mess.

Of course, none of this compared to how the article ended. Stating that it was still okay to offer “He’s just not that into you” because that’s not condescending. I’m going to forget about the it not being condescending part and just say, I was tired of hearing that even before they made a book out of it, followed by a movie. And no one has ever even said it to me. Because I mean, come on, of course he was into me. There had to be another reason he didn’t call.

Anyway, I linked the article here. (for those of you who are not friends with Lana on Facebook). Feel free to disagree with me. It won’t be the first time and it certainly won’t be the last.