Tatiana Talks

Why Paul Ryan Lied – A Feminist’s Opinion

By now, even my parents know that Paul Ryan lied about his marathon time. What people don’t know is why he lied about it. Was it a simple mistake? No way. Was he just boasting? Maybe. Was he flat out lying because he didn’t want to admit a girl was faster than him? Well, that’s my theory.

Yes, as a recently reformed misogynist, I’m seeing misogyny everywhere. And sure, one could say I have developed this theory to get back on Gloria’s good side, but still, stay with me for a minute.

After Runner’s World broke the news about Ryan’s lie, The Washington Post did a quick blog about all vice presidential hopefuls’ (and one vice president's) marathon times.

In the mix is Sarah Palin, who at 41 years old ran a marathon in very impressive (to me at least) 3 hours and 59 minutes.

Now, I don’t know Sarah personally, but she strikes me as the type who would brag about this accomplishment. It’s something about her first name. Sarahs love to tell anyone who will listen just how awesome they are. If she were the type, I would even bet she has her time tattooed somewhere on her body.

Fast-forward seven years and Paul Ryan is being interviewed and it casually comes up that he ran a marathon. Well, he can’t honestly expect that to impress anyone, anymore. I mean, who hasn’t run a marathon? Drew Carey. Katie Holmes. Puff Daddy (he will always be Puff Daddy to me). Oprah. So, to really impress, he is going to have to give the reporter a time and a good time. And his time wasn’t bad. But, wait, what is this he is remembering. What did Sarah Palin tell him her time was? Crap. She beat him, didn’t she? Okay, well now he is going to have to say it was better than hers. But what was hers? Three-fifty-something. But what if he says 3:55 and it turns out she ran it in 3:54. Well, someone in the liberal media will be able to dig up her time and that will be the big story. Not that he ran a marathon but that Sarah Palin beat him.

After all, could Paul Ryan really admit that a 40-something woman beat his marathon time when he was 20-years-old? What sort of man would that make him? Plus she lost the election. He didn’t want a loser to have beaten him. What sort of message would that send?

But mostly the part about her being a woman. Women are weaker and sillier than men. Men rule. Men are better and stronger and most importantly faster. He admits a woman is faster and then what? He has to admit women are also capable of making choices for themselves?

So he played it safe and said he finished in two-fifty-something.

Next time, Paul, if I may, I would go the other macho route: Tell the truth and then add, “But you know, I didn’t really train, and was drunk for the first half, hung over for the second, so what-evs.”

There is no way Runner’s World could disprove that.

My Apologies to Women Everywhere (And Eli Manning)

 I have a confession to make. Sometimes I can be a bit of a misogynist. Now I don’t beat up women or call them stupid when they ask a question or suggest that they belong in the kitchen making me a sandwich. But on Sundays during football season I have been known to yell at my T.V. “What kind of bullsh*t arm tackle was that you effin’ p&ssy. Take your g.d. skirt off and man the eff up.”

One of my favorite t-shirts
now headed to the Goodwill pile.
 Of course, I realized what I was yelling was wrong, but I always explained it away, saying, “I am not a feminist on Sundays (and some Mondays. And Saturdays. And the occasional Thursday night).

 But then, recently, I was reading my Twitter feed and a couple of the sport’s bloggers I follow were talking smack about an opposing team. And as is often the case when a bunch of drunk white guys get together to talk sports – the jabs questioning opposing team members sexuality started flying. This pissed me off. After all, being gay doesn’t mean one can’t be strong or tough or good at sports. I have known a number of gay men who could kick the crap out of the overweight, out of shape bloggers making these comments, which is exactly what I was typing into my iPhone when it occurred to me that these same bloggers were making just as disparaging remarks about women and just like my tough gay friends, I am pretty sure I can take a number of these guys.
No wonder Gloria has stopped taking my calls. Apparently I have become less than a feminist. I’ve become a misogynist.

In all my years of yelling at the T.V. (and it has been many, many years) I don’t think I have once, stooped so low as to question a player’s sexual preference or suggest they engage in homosexual activity. So why then when insulting other team’s quarterbacks (or expressing my displeasure with a member of our team) would I scream at my television, “my mother tackles harder than that.”

Really? I was suggesting if a player was less woman-like (or less like my own mother who is one of the toughest women I know) they might be better able get the job done. Really?

Because with everything we have been reading recently about how women are taking over the world and men might soon become irrelevant; that more women are going to college, and take up a greater percentage of the work force and are bringing home higher paychecks than their male spouses, why are we still suggesting men man-up?

Maybe it is time we start telling them to woman-up.

To put a skirt on.

The Games We Play

There is a game my mom and dad love to play with me. For lack of anything better, I call it the “Anything Else” game.

It dates back to middle school when guys were just starting to notice girls – and by that I mean guys were starting to notice other girls. I remained the girl they only noticed when they needed one more for a game of football.

Every day, when I got home from school, my mom, a nurse where she worked with a parent (or two) of just about everyone in my class, would wake up (she worked nights) and ask, “How was school today?”

I would shrug (because I was a preteen and shrugging was my favorite) and respond, “Good.” And the game was on:

Mom: “Just good? Not great, terrific and wonderful?”

Preteen Tati: “No. Just good.”

Mom: “Anything happen in school today?”

Preteen Tati: “No.”

Mom: “Nothing?”

Preteen Tati: “Umm, well, we have a history test coming up.”

Mom: “Anything else?”

Preteen Tati: “I’m probably gonna need new running sneakers soon.”

Mom: “Anything else?”

Preteen Tati: “Jenny and Rachel are fighting again.”

Mom: “Anything else?”

Preteen Tati: “I can’t think of anything else.”

Mom: “So Jeremy didn’t walk you to math class this morning.”

Preteen Tati: “What? Oh, well, yeah, he did, but.”

Mom: “According to Becky’s mom, Jeremy is one of the cutest guys in your class.”

Preteen Tati: “I guess, but.”

Mom: “So, what did you two talk about on your way to class? Because, according to Becky’s mom, it looked like you two were very involved in the conversation. You know he and Jaime broke up?”

Preteen Tati: “Yes, I know that. But, that’s what I’m trying to tell you, we were just talking about our history test.”

Mom: “Oh.  Well, Becky’s mom also mentioned that he asked for your picture the other day, so you can see why I was curious.”

Preteen Tati: “Mom, we’re just friends.”

Mom: “I don’t know, Tati

Preteen Tati:

More than 20 years later and the game is pretty much the same. Of course my mother no longer works with the parents of my classmates, but she is my friend on Facebook. So, when someone tags me in a picture standing next to a guy at a baseball game, I am sure to get a call the next morning.

To win the game, you have to be the first to fold. And by that I mean, the first to acknowledge the game, come clean and just ask/state the obvious. So, for example:

Mom: “Anything else going on that I should know about?”

Almost An Adult Tati: “I don’t think so. I told you that I’m looking at flights to Austin, that I’m changing one of the characters in my novel, work is good, I got another press release to draft, and I'm signed up for the MCM in October. So, yeah, that’s everything that’s keeping me busy.”

Mom: “Nothing else is going on?”

Almost An Adult Tati: “Mom, I’m not seeing anyone, if that’s what you’re wondering.”

Mom: “That’s not what I was asking, but now that you brought it up …”
Advantage: Mom.

As a teenager, I always won, mostly because I didn’t know we were playing and my mother was often looking for something that didn’t even make my radar as worth mentioning.

As an (almost) adult, I practically lose every game. My mother (and father, because now he plays too) has grown more patient whereas I have grown less. I’ve tried driving them to defeat by detailing the most mundane details of my life (“I picked up D vitamins at the Whole Foods yesterday. I went with the cheaper ones, even though they contain gelatin, but I didn’t get sick or anything.”) or distracting them with details from my former classmates’ lives (“I saw on Facebook that Jeremy had a baby.”). But, alas, this only leads to conversations about how my mother always thought Jeremy had a thing for me (“Remember that time in middle school when he asked for your picture, Tati.”).

And that is how we begin a game of “The One(s) That Got Away.”

A Little Self Reflection During My Last Full Week at 33

So this past week has been an interesting one for self-discovery – nothing all that unusual as I typically do a lot of reflecting on my life and what it all means in the weeks leading up to my birthday.

Around this time every year I start to get the itch to move to Chicago or San Francisco. I think about changing careers, or going to school or doing something so that I have a better plan than my current back-up plan (to retire as a nun) if I don’t make it as a writer. I also spend a lot of time wondering about exes – what they are up to but mostly what would be different about my life if they weren’t an ex.

It was in this mindset that I clicked on the Atlantic’s article “Is Facebook Making Us Lonely.”

I was most intrigued by this article because I have often thought that things like Facebook and Twitter actually make it easier for me to be alone. On Friday nights, when I’m not in the mood to go out (or my friends are all out on dates) I will sit home and watch TV, enjoy some wine, and check in on Facebook and Twitter obsessively. If I am watching the Phillies play (or this past week, the Olympics) reading my Twitter feed suddenly feels like I am watching the game with a dozen or so of my closest friends – even though I have never met most of these people.

What I took away from the Atlantic article wasn’t that social media was making me lonelier, but that I might be a narcissist. I’m still wondering about this. I thought about asking Bridie her opinion the other night at dinner, but I refrained. Probably because I think too highly of myself to hear what she thinks of me.

On a more interesting note, the article also gave me a possible title for the collection of essays I will one day publish – Porcupine Problems.

While worrying that I’m a narcissist, I clicked on a link promising dating tips for short men. Now. I am obviously neither short nor a man, but still, I was interested in reading what advice was being doled out to these guys.

I can’t find the link, and I don’t remember most of the advice, but I do recall clearly the first piece of advice: If a girl won’t date you because you are shorter than her: forget her, because she is a terrible person.

Huh. Terrible person.

The author isn’t wrong. If I met a guy that told me he didn’t date a woman over a certain weight or with breasts that were smaller than a c-cup, I would think he was an ass.

But, if we look at the psychology (or whatever) of why one person finds someone attractive, it’s purely biological. Men aren’t attracted to women with big breasts because society tells them to or because they want to put their face between them. But because subconsciously big breasts indicate that the woman will be able to provide a lot of milk for their babies. At least I think I read that somewhere. So my attraction to men that are taller than me isn’t because society tells me it is more masculine but because deep down in the caveman part of my brain, I want to procreate with only taller men so that the babies I don’t actually want will never have to read advice on dating tips for short men.

That's just science.

Does that make me the female version of a douche-bag – maybe. But that sort of makes sense because yesterday I learned I’m attracted to douche bags.

I mean ... photo from Women’s Health.

Just like everyone else in America, I have been suffering through NBC’s coverage of the Summer Olympics. In part because I love the back stories and the tears and seeing people that have worked so hard achieve success, but also because I think the swimmers are hot. One swimmer in particular – Ryan Lochte.

All the evidence was there. I didn’t need his mom telling me about his habit of one night stands or this hysterical Jezebel article to tell me Lochte is just the sort of ass I rolled my eyes at all through college and my 20s. But still, even knowing this, (mom and dad skip to the next paragraph) I still wanna sit on his face.

Worse than that, I think it is his cockiness and stupid grill and ridiculous style that makes me want him all the more. On the plus side, Cricket and I think we may be able to turn this into an opportunity for me to finally get some. No, I am not so deluded to think I actually have a shot at Ryan Lochte. However, d-bags are a population I’ve never really considered. But with zero chance of actually developing feelings for one, they might make for a good no-strings-attached arrangement.

Now, this is a lot for one girl to think about. Fortunately, next week I will be on a beach in Hawaii, giving me plenty of opportunity to sort this all out before I turn another year older.

Open Letter to Marie Claire

Dear MC,

I visited my hometown last weekend to check in on my parents, but mostly to get my hair done (my Mom and Dad will probably out-live us all, not to mention I had just seen them the weekend before when we went to the Phillies game). Waiting for me upon my arrival was a stack of magazines, almost up to my knees and in that pile were a couple of Marie Claires.

See, my mom has a subscription to just about every magazine published. She curates from her collection a selection that she think I would enjoy and leaves them in a pile for me.

My mom was most excited to show me your June issue. Right there on the cover, she pointed out, was a story I was sure to love: “The New Revolution. Love and the Single Girl.”

The next day, over breakfast, my mom asked me what I thought of the article. I rolled my eyes and told her it annoyed me. I then started explaining why. The problem is, I couldn’t pinpoint exactly what it was that so bothered me.

Then, last week, I was talking to Hot Attorney, really trying to concentrate on what he was saying and not fantasize about all the things I wish he was saying when it hit me – the second vignette. The second vignette in your article is what pissed me off. I went home a re-read it and I was exactly as I remembered.

It started out so well: “Putting themselves first and a wedding ring second, a new generation of women fights for their rights to be left alone (literally) and then went on to point out all the recent attacks on single women (even some I didn’t know about or really perceive as attacks). The article actually has the words, “We are living through the invention of independent female adulthood.”

What isn’t there to love about this article?

Well, after the one page of celebration, with all your quotes and facts and figures, the three vignettes followed. Three little stories about three different single women at three different points in their lives, all expressing a different hardship of being single.

Now, I am not an us versus them sort of girl. I have nothing but respect for married and coupled women. Almost all of my friends are married or in relationships. However, in the instance of Vignette Number Two (or VNT as I’m gonna call her), I have to say it: she isn’t single. She never was single. She was dumped and is now presumably back in a relationship. Using her six-months wandering the city looking for a karaoke bar where she could shine in a article about how awesome it is to be single is like using a woman that likes to make out with her girlfriends when she is drunk to the delight of all of the male bar patrons in a story about living as a lesbian.

Was VNT’s story adorable? Yes. I am equal parts impressed that she went to karaoke bars and got up and sang all by herself and glad that she found a new dude and they are getting married soon. However, you should have saved her triumph over tragedy for the inevitable getting over him piece you will run in February. Because it has no business in an article about women choosing to be single.

I get it. You prefer to include three vignettes because three is a magic number when it comes to examples to back a theory and choruses in pop songs. But there had to have been better examples out there. Why not talk to my friend who called off her wedding when she realized she wanted to be married more than she wanted to be married to her fiancé. Or, if you were looking for a happy ending (which you clearly still define as in a relationship) then talk to any one of my now coupled off/married friends that were single well into their 30s, dating like crazy but never settling down until they found someone that was worth it.

Further, why were the other two vignettes about how hard it is to be single – a pesky father and always having to move over a seat at a bar so a couple could sit down? Where were the triumphant stories of dates so terrible they still make your friends laugh. Or stories about girlfriend-only vacations or the good they are doing throughout the world because they aren’t tied to a home and a family -- there has to be one female doctor out there curing some disease that can shrug and say, yeah, saving lives doesn’t leave me a whole lot of time to date. Where was she?

Do I seem a little over upset about this article? Maybe. But it is just because I had such high hopes. My mother and I both did. And it was just such a disappointment.

Then again, maybe I should stop pinning my hopes to a magazine with other coverlines that included “Extreme Weight Loss Confessions” and “Get it Now! Sexy Summer Style.”



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.

The Family Jewels

My mother has taught me two things (well, she has taught me a lot of things, but these two are the most important): How to work hard and how to treat oneself.

My mother’s treat of choice: jewelry; specifically, diamonds. Over the years she has amassed quite a collection and every once in a while, she will let me borrow something. Last weekend, when I was visiting, was such an occasion. She let me go home with a tennis bracelet.

Before I left she warned me not to lose it.

That’s a joke. I am her neat-freak, super-organized, type-A daughter. Sure I get drunk every now and again, but the only thing I ever lost of value is my virginity. Her bauble would never be safer.

Fast-forward to yesterday, and I am at the gym. I had come right from work and was still wearing the bracelet. I contemplated leaving it on, but I hate girls that wear a lot of jewelry when they workout. I was also afraid something would happen to break it. The problem was, my gym/work back is huge and small things disappear in it all the time. There is probably $47 in change floating between the lining and the leather right now.

As I stood there, torn between taking my chances in class or with my Bermuda Triangle of a bag a brilliant idea occurred to me. I took the bracelet off, stashed it in a secret, super-safe spot and then jumped on a treadmill.

The next morning, after my run and shower, I went to my dresser to retrieve my jewelry. The earrings and the necklace I wear everyday were both there, but the bracelet wasn’t. I didn’t panic because I remembered I never took it out of its hiding spot.

I then went to my gym bag, pulled my wallet out, unzipped the change department and discovered the bracelet wasn’t there.

Oh. Holy. God.

I looked again. Pulled all the change out and looked a third time. Put the change back in, went back to the dresser, and then looked in my wallet (which I was still holding) for a fourth time.

Now, on mornings following a crazy night of drinking, I typically experience 15 minutes of panic as I tear through my apartment to confirm I still have my wallet, phone, and everything I wore out the night before. Those anxiety attacks were nothing compare to the heart palpitations I was experiencing after I came up empty the fourth time.

If I lost my phone or my wallet, it would suck and going through the chore of shutting everything off and replacing it would be inconvenient, but I would manage. And I have already lived through the challenge of waking up without an item of clothing, but this? There was no living through this. My mother is still angry about a dent in her truck (that is no longer hers) that I didn’t put there but may have happened in a parking lot while I was borrowing it.

That was just a small dent. This was her tennis bracelet. I started emptying my bag and wondering if the gym was open yet. The worst case scenario running through my head was that someone saw me put it in my wallet and then took it. My best case scenario was that I missed the change pouch and it landed in my bag. Somewhere in the middle was that it landed on the floor next to my locker. Would someone have turned it in? People are good right? Or maybe it really was in my bag. I am a good person. The universe could throw me a bone on this one.

Then my sunglasses' holder tumbled onto my couch and my heart stopped in a good way (if that is possible). I didn’t put it in my change purse. I put it in my sunglasses' holder. Right?

My breath caught as I slowly opened the case. There it was. In all its glory and sparkle.

And thank goodness. Because otherwise, I would be writing this post from the lam.

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.

One More Summer

When I was eight-years-old my mom and I stopped into a specialty boutique for young girls (what we now call ‘tweens) to window shop. The super cool store near the bakery where we were probably either picking up end of the year cupcake, or placing an order for my sister’s birthday cake, was unlike anything I had ever seen before.

It was all purple and glittery. Inflated stars and hearts hung from the ceiling. It sold super cool pens with feathers and sparkles on them and matching, scented pads of paper. I silently cursed that I discovered this place so near the end of the school year and not in late August when it could have made me the envy of all of my classmates.

My mother, a sucker for my I-want-it-all-face, smiled down at my wide-eyed wonderment and told me I could get one thing. Just one.

Well, this wasn’t a decision to be taken lightly. I wandered the store, picking things up, putting them back down and occasionally sniffing things when it was required. And then I saw it. The thing I absolutely had to have and would simply die if my mom didn’t get it for me.

It was a two piece bathing suit.

But not just any two-piece bathing suit. It had a peach top that wasn’t smooth like other bathing suits, but ruched (no I didn’t know that word at the time, I just thought it was cool) and a turquoise blue bottom with a sash of peach flower pattern on a turquoise blue background. It looked so tropical. Like something one of my Barbies would wear. In short it was the most beautiful bathing suit I had ever seen.

When I tried it on, well, there was just no denying that this suit was made for me. Not even my mom could deny the beauty of that bathing suit.

It was one of the happiest days in my young life. No more silly, childish one-pieces with Miss Piggy on the front and ruffles along the bottom. I had a two-piece. I was a grown-up. I was eight-years-old.

Now this two piece bathing suit that I was so proud of had a top looked like a sports bra and the bottom was a brief cut, with the sash around the waist covering my belly button. It was nothing like the bikini my much older sister wore. It survived diving into pools, hardcore games of Marco Polo, body surfing, water slides, and running away from the neighborhood boys. After all, I was still an eight-year-old girl and I literally spent my summer in that swim suit.

And while I remember a lot of things about that summer, the one thing I don’t remember is ever feeling fat or too pale or as if my boobs were too small to fill it out my awesome swimsuit. Heck, I didn’t even have boobs at eight. I did worry that someone would see too much of my backside as I got off the speed slide at Wildwater Kingdom. I was petrified of spilling blue snow cone “juice” on the front of my suit and ruining it forever. I was also scared about who my third grade homeroom teacher was going to be and whether or not my best friend and I would be in the same class. But never once did I worry about my chest being too small.

Why am I bringing this up? Because Abercrombie & Fitch has just released its new padded, push-up triangle-top bikini – the Ashley – for girls ages 7 to 14.

Think about that. Second grade girls owning a padded, push-up bikini top. I saw the thing laying on a table on the Today show – it has about as much padding as one of my padded, push-up bras. But I am an insecure 32-year-old woman. I’m allowed padding.

These are young girls that aren’t supposed to know that they are flat-chested yet. They have their whole lives to be insecure about their bodies and whether or not they are attractive to the opposite (or same) sex. Why are we pushing this on them? Why, when the one thing they should be looking for in a swimsuit top is whether or not it will come off when jump off the high dive at the pool, are retailers telling them that they need bigger boobs to look good in a bikini?

What upsets me more than Abercrombie & Fitch thinking this is okay – let’s be honest, A&F is evil and they will continue to do these outlandish things just to keep their name in the media – is that there are probably parents out there that will buy this bathing suit for their daughters.

Which is why instead of calling for a boycott of this despicable institution (actually I can’t imagine a lot of my readers shop at A&F so boycotting won’t do much good) I say we buy them out of these suits and then destroy them. Yes, I realize buying these suits will just pad A&F’s bottom line, but let’s be honest, as long as there is babysitting and paper route money, that chain isn’t going anywhere. However, there is a higher purpose that needs to be met here. We need to keep these suits off of our young girls.

We need to give them another summer (or more if possible) of not caring how they look in their swimsuits. Another summer just assuming they look awesome. Another summer when their biggest worry is a water-slide wedgie.

Change Me (Revisited)

It would seem some clarification to my last post is needed. Let me make it perfectly clear that I am in no way suggesting I need to change in order to find someone. I merely realized that in order to have a successful relationship, I must be open to the idea of change.

This probably seems like a no-brainer to most of you and you are wondering why I would even need to blog about such an obvious realization (let alone blog about it twice). Maybe you are even questioning my intellect because it took me so long to discover this.

Let me explain. In the past, nothing has frightened me more (not even cats) than the idea of a guy changing me. Before this realization, I couldn’t stand when my friends changed for guys. I would gag when I got into a friend’s car and heard them blaring the latest CD from their latest boyfriend’s favorite band. I would roll my eyes when one of them would show up for a run wearing a ball cap from their boyfriend’s favorite baseball team.

Now mind you, the friend with the new CD loves music, and the band was pretty good. The friend with the baseball hat has no soul and therefore never followed baseball before she met her now-husband. So it wasn’t as if they were putting aside their thoughts and feelings on a particular matter to side with their current beau. But at the time I couldn’t see that.

Meanwhile, when I would declare to my mother that I would probably never get married, but if I did, it certainly wouldn’t be in a church, and she would ask, what if it is important to your fiancé? My response: well, I can’t imagine it would be important to my fiancé, but if it were, he would have to understand my feelings on the matter. If he couldn’t accept them – we wouldn’t get married.

My mom would counter: What if it is important to his mother? Or his grandmother?

Me: I think I would be concerned that he was putting his mother’s feelings in front of my own.

And no, I’m not kidding. This is taken from an actual conversation I had with my mother.

I even took it a step further. It was a personal affront to me when Douche Bag said he could never date a smoker. Never mind that I hadn’t had a cigarette in more than a year and DB knew I had been a smoker. I still saw red and remember those words ringing in my ears a couple nights later when I asked Bridie if I could bum a cigarette from her.

Yes, my fear of changing for a guy is so powerful, that I would actually pick back up a deadly habit just so I could then crow that I won’t let a man tell me what I can and can’t do.

Keeping this aversion to change in mind, I am sure you will believe me now when I say I have no intention of changing myself just so I can find someone. Instead, my post was about how I now realize that once I meet that someone special, I will probably change

I have even started my list of areas where I would be willing to bend. As predicted it isn’t very long.

Change Me

I have been thinking a lot about relationships recently. For the first time in my brief history on this planet, more of my friends are in relationships than are single (unless of course you count eighth grade when everyone but me had a boyfriend). And as I thought about these friends and their relationships and talked to other friends (and sometimes my mom), I started to see a common theme. Well, I didn't really see it as first. It was more like I could feel there was something there that I was missing. Like looking at one of those 3-D pictures they have at the fair. You stare and stare and you know you are suppose to see a sailboat, but you just don't.

Until you do.

I was going over a recent conversation I had with one of my few remaining single girlfriends. We were talking about a mutual acquaintance and his relationship and she said, rather cynically, “I doubt that is what he signed on for when he joined Match.com.”

I’m sure she was right. I’m sure when he pictured in his mind the sort of relationship he wanted, the one he was currently in didn’t spring to mind. At the same time, our mutual acquaintance didn’t seem the least bit bitter. Quite the opposite – he is happy and excited. And why shouldn’t he be? He is in love, I argued with myself. He has found an amazing and wonderful woman that loves him and wants to spend the rest of her life with him. So he will be a little inconvenienced for a bit. Is that really worth giving up all the rest of it?

That is when it hit me – like an apple falling from the tree that I was resting under – maybe the only way we can fit together is if we are all willing to adjust. And by all, I really mean me.

Now, I have long given up on the whole idea of a soul mate – that there is one perfect person out there for all of us. Until that moment, though, I did believe there was someone out there that was going to love me just the way I am. That he was going to fit perfectly into my lovely little life I created and I was going to fit just as neatly into his.

As I typed that I realized my silliness makes looking for one’s soul mate seem practical.

We have all heard countless times that you can’t expect to change someone. This is typically given to us as advice when we are annoyed or frustrated with a partner. Sometimes, as if often the case with my mom, it is given more as an I-told-you-so. Either way, we have heard it so many times we have all accepted it to be true – and who are we kidding? It is true. But somewhere along the line, I got to believing that the inverse was all true. That so long as I don’t expect to change someone, I won’t be expected to change. However, I’m beginning to understand that I got this bit wrong (and algebra has once again failed to serve any practical purpose in my life).

I’m still working through all the details and consequences of my realization. For instance, what are things that I am willing to change? What are things I am absolutely unwilling to change? (I imagine this list will be quite a bit longer). How much change can still be called “good change”? My guess is it comes when you wake up one morning and no longer recognize yourself in the mirror (or worse, no longer like who you see staring back at you). Or maybe it goes back to that list of things you are absolutely unwilling to change. If you find yourself compromising on more and more of those items, your change has gone bad.

Of course these are just theories as I have never bent on anything in a relationship. (Insert bad joke about bending over plenty of things here if you must. But keep ‘em clean folks, my dad reads this blog).


So, while on vacation with my parents two months ago (though it feels so much longer) my mother was reading Jennifer Love Hewitt’s new book, The Day I Shot Cupid. When I saw her pack it, I eyed her suspiciously.

“What?” She defended herself. “I heard it was funny.”

I thought self-help books on dating are targeted towards single women (though, sometimes men, too). So either my mom is planning on getting back out there soon or she purchased this book for me. Her daughter. Who is so hopeless when it comes to dating, she would take advice from Jennifer Love Hewitt, whose only qualification for writing this book is that she has dated a lot. Oh, and she’s famous.

I didn’t argue any of this with my mother. I just silently resolved to finish Norman Mailer’s Executioner’s Song and check my luggage before we come back; less the ol’ girl tried to slip it into my bag “by mistake.”

So fast-forward to a few days later when my mom and I are sitting by the pool. She is appropriately covered with a hat and a light cover-up and sunscreen on all the spots those other two items leave exposed. I am lying next to her in a bikini and SPF 4. She was reading JLove's book. I wanted to read Norman Mailer’s but it was just so heavy, and the sun was so bright, and my iPod kept playing really good songs.

Out of nowhere my mom starts laughing. I open my eyes, expecting to see my father. See, on the first day of vacation my father used a spray-on sunscreen but didn’t rub it in so it looked like someone spray painted his sunburn with white. You couldn’t help but laugh.

But no, no dad. And no one fell climbing into or out of their lounge chair. So I couldn’t understand what my mother was laughing at. And then she did it again. I looked over and saw her smiling down at her book.

I knew this trick. Heck, I invented this trick. During a trip west in college (for crew) CK was sitting behind me on the plane and so I kept cracking up laughing at the book I was reading, knowing that if I did, he would eventually ask me what I was reading and we would fall hopelessly in love, get married and have lots of babies. Eventually CK did lean around my chair and ask me, which is when I saw the flaw in my plan. “Bridget Jones’ Diary: The Edge of Reason.” He raised his eyebrows and returned to his seat. What was I thinking? CK read John Dos Passos for crying-out-loud. He wasn’t going to fall hopelessly in love with a girl that laughed like a hyena to such low-brow literature.

But I digress. Recognizing my mother’s ploy, I smiled, lowered my head back onto my chair and turned up my iPod. I could still hear her laugh a couple more times, but I didn’t react. I guess she grew tired of my ignoring her, because she smacked the back of my arm with her hand. I took out one of my ear buds and lifted my head. She was handing me the book, pointing at a paragraph.

I rolled my eyes, but I was also wearing sunglasses so she didn’t see. I grabbed the book and read what Miss. Hewitt had to say. This passage was on text messaging and how some guys will only text a girl and that these texts can go on (and on) and you can feel like you have a boyfriend, but you actually never see him. Just his name when it pops on your phone alerting you to a text message. Miss. Hewitt goes on that, sure this is cute and exciting and fun at first, but this is not a relationship and that you (you out there!) deserve better and he will realize the error of his ways, but of course by then it will be too late.

I shrugged my shoulders. “So?”

I’m not sure what my mom was expecting but it wasn’t that. “Well, is that true?”

Now I was really starting to get concerned. My mom doesn’t text. She doesn’t even carry her cell phone (it just stays in her car). So why should she care if modern technology (while making us always available) is making it harder to actually connect with anyone?

“Sure.” I nod. “It’s one of the reasons I’m not a fan of online dating. You meet,” you bet your sweet patootie I used air quotes around the word meet, “these guys and you think, huh, there is some potential here. But then all you do is IM or e-mail and then a month goes by and you realize you have a crush on a guy that you've never met.”

“Do you sext?”

Now where in the world did she learn that word? “Umm, yeah, I guess. If you’re like 16.”

“Huh.” She went back to reading her book and I started thinking of all my arguments for why my mom shouldn’t leave my father.

Fortunately, it never came to that. The next day my mom, obviously defeated, handed me the book and said, “you should read this. It’s funny. And it will take you less than a day.”

And so I did.

Well, she was half right; it only took me a day to read. And besides the workout plan (yes, you read correctly, the book comes complete with a JLove approved workout) and the odd aside about the high school girls that were prohibited from wearing thongs to their prom (I have no idea where that came from either) Jennifer Love Hewitt wrote nothing me and my girlfriends hadn’t already said to each other a thousands times.

Okay, there was one thing. But I am almost too embarrassed to even type it. JLove suggests --- oh my god I don’t think I can write it --- she, umm, suggests bedazzling your va-jay-jay.

I’ll give you a moment to let that sit.

In addition to all her other cutesy tips about how to love yourself more (wear a tiara, sleep naked) and prepare for a date (spray tan, buy cute pajamas) she also recommends BEDAZZLING YOUR GIRL BITS! Of course she stressed it is not for “him” but for “you.” That you’ll never feel cuter or sexier than when your bits are blingin’.

I was going to Google search this, to see what all is involved in this process but I couldn’t have that sitting in my Google search history. Not to mention I can only imagine the resulting Google ads I would start getting. Instead, I'm just going to sit here with my un-sparkly private parts and hope like hell this is just some stupid L.A. trend that doesn’t catch on everywhere else.

Dance, Dance, Dance, Dance, Dancing Machine

I accidentally found myself out dancing this weekend. And while at first I was disturbed, I soon realized dancing is exactly what has been missing from my life.

See, I was in Allentown again this weekend. And before you start asking why I have been spending so much time at my parent’s place understand two things. 1) I get my hair done in Allentown and don’t trust anyone but Hairdresser to show these locks love; 2) ever since Lana left and I started applying to grad schools Mom and Dad have been wigging out. So I have tried to spend a bit more time there, helping out and letting them know they are still loved.

Okay, so Saturday, Hairdresser was doing my hair and asked what I was up to this weekend. I told her that my best friend from high school, Colleen, and I were going to get together to catch up. She asked where and I told her I wasn’t sure. She suggested we go to this new sports bar, which was by far the newest, hippest place to hang out. I shrugged and said cool. Later, when Colleen sent me a text message asking what I was in the mood for, I recommended the sports bar.

I should have known by the delay in getting back to me that I made a poor choice.

But, Colleen was gracious, agreeing to meet me there. Only after getting lost (briefly -- why aren’t Union Street and Union Blvd. the same road?) did I learned why Colleen was hesitant about the coolest, hippest place in Allentown. Because it wasn’t a sports bar. It was an adult arcade.

No, not like “adult” arcade with nearly naked women walking around (at least not before 10 p.m.). No, adult arcade like a place with bowling alleys and ski ball and Dance Dance Revolution. Not the best place to catch up, still Colleen and I managed. Fortunately, thanks to Facebook, most of the catching up had been done and so we entertained ourselves making fun of the band and the other bar patrons.

Now, earlier when we were sending text messages back and forth, Colleen had said that 12 Pack was going to be at the bar. I stupidly assumed 12 Pack was a band and so when we got there I thought it was 12 Pack that was wreaking havoc on our ears. Colleen soon cleared up the confusion. She explained 12 Pack was a reality star. Memories of a Sunday spent hungover in the Duchess’s living room, drinking vegan shakes and watching Daisy Chain of Love came flooding back to me. When I asked Colleen if he was called 12 Pack because he had more than a six-pack she laughed. This would explain why the sports bar was starting to fill with women in short satin dresses, teased hair and heels that were not appropriate for a bar smack in the middle of a city that was hit with 8 to 12 inches of snow just the day before.

So, how did I find myself accidentally out dancing? Well, between the really bad band and the appearance of 12 Pack, a dance party broke out next to the VIP lounge (which much to 12 Pack’s chagrin, I’m sure, was nothing more than a couple of chairs pushed around a coffee table) and in front of the stage where a hula-hoop girl enthralled us all. And since we had nothing better to do, and Colleen’s dancing fool fiance had shown up, we decided to join the fun.

As Colleen’s fiance made a bit of an ass of himself, but in a good, goofy way, Colleen and I stood on the sidelines and did what we do best -- made fun of everyone else (including her fiance). But as I stood there, laughing, judging and occasionally busting a move, I realized the only thing missing was my get-up. Sure I was making fun of those girls out there, but secretly I was jealous. Even as much fun as I was having listening to old school hip-hop and drinking cheap beer from plastic cups, it felt somewhat incomplete in my GAP trouser jeans and cute flats. Not that I had packed scut gear for my trip home, but suddenly I wished I too was wearing a really short dress and inappropriate heels.

See, somewhere in between all those storms we recently had, I complained to Salty, Bridie and the Duchess that I was sick of neighborhood bars and desperately wanted a big girls’ night out complete with fancy drinks and heels. Now, the Duchess has promised to take me out to celebrate finishing my novel and I think I'm going to insist on a night of dancing. I can’t remember the last time we went dancing (and no, I don’t count the shore). I think a night out, all gussied up and rubbing my badunkadunk against some stranger’s junk is just what the doctor order.

Oh, and before you ask -- yes, we did wait around to meet 12 Pack and all I have to say about him is he’s a lot shorter than I expected.

The Dénouement

I finished my novel.

First, I should tell you, I didn’t have the Valentine’s Day weekend I expected. Friday went off as planned. Drank some wine. Ordered Chinese. Had a vegan carrot cake cupcake for dessert. I didn’t watch any action films, though. Instead, I opted for the Opening Ceremony of the Olympics. And, before you ask, yes, I cried. Like a baby.

Saturday, I got some writing done. Then the text messages started. Everyone wanted to go out. And by everyone I mean Salty, the Duchess and Bridie. At first I stuck by my guns. No. I will not go out and feel bad about myself as cute couples all around me enjoy pink drinks and suck face.

I delighted in my rebellion. I decided the perfect way to celebrate a Saturday with myself is by doing some laundry. I was moving my wash to the dryer when I saw Brandi had brought her laundry down -- she was holding a spot. What was she washing you ask? Black satin sheets.

No. I’m not making this up.

I went back to my apartment, promptly sent a text to the girls asking where I should meet them and then started putting my hair in curlers.

Out, everyone was asking how the novel was going and I lamented that if I wasn’t out drinking, I would be home finishing it. Yes, I was that close.

The next day I was sure I would finish. But I couldn’t open my laptop. I mean, maybe I could, I just couldn't bring myself to try. I walked by it. Looked at it longingly. I even brought it into the living room and plugged it in and thought about it during commercial breaks. But I never opened it. Something in me wasn't ready for it to be over. Instead I just lied on my couch, eating more garbage and watching really bad television.

Then Monday came and with it another deadline I didn’t want to meet. And since my laundry was already done, and I didn't have any dishes to do since everything I ate that weekend came in take-out containers, I had nothing left to do but finish my novel.

When it first happened, I hardly realized it. I was sitting in front of my computer, typing and retyping the last couple of lines -- after all they were going to be the last couple of lines of my first novel. They had to be good. No, they had to be great. Not necessarily epic. I wasn’t looking for anything quite so amazing as “This is not an exit.” But something that would leave my readers feeling something and so I battled and finally I put down words that were somewhere between good and great and I hit the enter key to continue the story when it hit me. The story’s finished.

The story is finished.

I turned off my computer. Still not feeling quite as I imagined the narrator of Stand by Me felt when he finally finished typing his saga and ran out to play with his son and his son’s friend. But maybe that is because I don’t have a son. So I called my mom. I had to share it with someone.

When I told her I was hit with a wave a nausea. Oh my god. I’m finished. I had to sit down.

I started shaking and told my mom I had to go.

And I don’t know why, but I did need to go. To Staples. To print a copy of my novel. Printing it made it more real. Sitting on the subway home, the big box containing two copies of my novel resting safely in my lap, it started to to sink in. I have finished the first draft of my novel.

I started sending text messages to friends and family and relaxed a little more with each message of congratulations and suggestion of libations to celebrate. Of course I couldn’t go just then. One, I looked terrible. Two, I had the only two printed copies of my novel with me. What if something happened to them? I needed to get them home where it was safe.

Once we were all safely home and my novel was securely placed on my desk, I poured myself a glass of wine. It was finished. I couldn’t stop smiling. I also couldn’t stop shaking. Though it wasn’t really shaking so much as I felt like I was shaking on the inside. Like I had Restless Leg Syndrome, but everywhere.

I tried to relax, but I couldn’t. So I poured myself a second glass of wine. Then a third. If it helps, I didn't finish the third.

The strangest part is on Monday morning, when I woke up, I read my horoscope and it told me I was going to finish a project that I had been working on for a very long time. I laughed. Good one, horoscope. When I thought about it later, a chill ran up my spine.

Now, on Saturday my horoscope said I was going to meet my next romantic interest. And since the only guy that caught my eye was the bartender, I guess my next boyfriend will be a beer slinger.