Saturday, June 29, 2013

Ain't nobody got time for (shitty dates)

Last night I raced from work to a restaurant I had picked specifically because it was near a craft store (plan B, yo) and the dread began to mount during the 30 second phone call while my blind date and I tried to locate each other. Conversation was so stilted and awkward that I texted a friend from the parking lot "omg this is going to suuuuuck."

Ten minutes after sliding into the booth, the conversation was so bad that I just folded up my menu and said, "Hey, um... I don't think we should order after all." He looked confused. Poor guy, I genuinely think he didn't understand that his critical nature was turning me off. "So, what, you work for da gubment? Like, you enjoy that?" Okay, Vinnie, I realize very little impresses you, and you just pulled out and picked apart everything I mentioned in my profile in the name of conversation but it would be awfully nice if you stopped scowling for at least five minutes.

I didn't even want to try having a nice time, not even to preserve someone else's feelings. So I bagged it.

Back in the parking lot, I texted the guy I met last week who invited me out for tonight but I'd had to decline because of the date with Vinnie.
me: "Want to meet afterall? Earlier date didn't work out."

him: "I want to hear all about it! I got reservations in an hour at Restaurant X, let's go."

me: "I won't have time to change! I don't generally dress up for first dates and that's a fancy restaurant."

him: "Don't worry about it, come as you are."

me: "But I'm wearing the SAME EXACT THING I wore for our first date last week..."

him: "Okay now that's funny!"
So Friday Night Version 2.0 was MUCH better than Version 1.0.

Then today I went to a bead show with a girlfriend and another guy I had met last week joined us. We spent FIVE HOURS looking at beads and the dude did not once look tired or bored. He should include that impressive feature on his dating profile!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

I suck at being spiritual.

I suck at being spiritual.

I bought a book on the mystical properties of rocks so I could make little placards with my handmade bracelets that say "jasmine is associated with winning pianos!" and set them out at my next craft fair but I couldn't stop snorting long enough to type. (I don't actually know what jasmine is associated with because I couldn't take the book seriously enough to remember even the slightest detail, but jasmine is a pretty rock and I'm thinking pianos.)

Always how it happens.

So maybe I can reword it. "Some SAY jasmine is associated with the possibility of winning a piano." Then I don't have to act like it is ME that believes this, right?

I do like the idea of meditation though, and yoga. Those are kindof spiritual, right? It's the mindset I want to be plugged into, the loving/accepting/happy/content nature hippies have (except without being high). Can you be a skeptic and still become one with the universe?

Fly & be free!

Actual conversation I had the other day:
Her: So my cat keeps doing that for food! Haha actually I do the same thing now that I think of it.

Me: Well humans are animals so no wonder, haha!

Her (suddenly getting serious): I don't believe that, actually. Humans are not animals.

Me: Uhhh, okay. (This is when I checked out of the conversation -- I'm not interested in having a debate. But I WANTED to say, "It's not a matter of opinion! Humans are not plants, they are animals!)
Seriously. On the classification scheme, pick one. Here are your choices.

Humans are ______?
1. Plant
2. Animal
3. Fungi
4. Protists
5. Bacteria (actually these are in two separate categories, archaebacteria and eubacteria)
Maybe me?
(Hmm, hard toss-up between fungus and bacteria... lemme think...)

Generally, my multi-cellulared nature (despite my best attempts to revert to a single-celled organism on Mondays) forces me to acknowledge that I am, indeed, an animal.

I think people are so used to using the word "animal" to describe ("he's an animal!!") that they forget it's also a classifying descriptor in Linnaean taxonomy. I'm not about to condense the history of the scientific thought process or convert the entire contents of a basic science lecture into a convincing sentence (if we're even HAVING this debate, most have already decided what they want to believe anyway) and so this is when I just want to scream, "SCIENCE!" and run away.

True dat.
So how can I make my bracelets extra-appealing?? Back to the drawing board!

Monday, June 24, 2013

Deep conversations with shark boy

Me (to old roommie who is a shark fanatic): From my Twitter feed, because they're not scary enough grown: "Shark fetuses fight and eat each other while still in the womb - the one that is left alive is the only one that is born." I just fact-checked it. Can't you pick a more cuddly, gentle species to revere??

Sharkboy: Killer whales?

Me: They're known for ripping the 2,000 lb tongue out of gray whales leaving them to bleed or starve to death as the killers search for only the most select, prized morsels of their prey's flesh. Do you have a third runner up?

Sharkboy: Rabid chimps.

Me. Not the face-ripping off kind?? (Is there even another kind?)

Sharkboy: Nope. Angry chimps are cool.

Me: I give up!!

Sharkboy: I like nature. Bad nature, but nonetheless nature. Condemn me if you must but I'll set my chimp on you.

Me: Nooo! Face transplants aren't regular enough yet!

Sharkboy: They may only gouge out your genitals.

Me: Oh, okay. I'm not using them anyway.

Sharkboy: Word.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Wanting what you have

From Friday's Carolyn Hax column (question paraphrased):
Q. "I hate tattoos. I think they're ugly. My husband has discovered he loves them and has started to plaster them all over his body. Luckily, I'm still attracted to him but what if that changes?"

A. "I can’t promise you’ll remain attracted to him when he’s a walking needlepoint sampler. I do hope you’ll at least consider, though, that the reason you’re still attracted to him now isn’t that he has left just enough bare spots, but instead that you still love who he is. I hope this not because I think it’s a magic solution, but because doing so is a step toward wanting what you have. ... I think acceptance, difficult as it will be, is the only choice you can trust not to let you down." (source: Washington Post Friday 6/21/2013)
Wanting what you have. I love that.

Lots of us don't want what we get: the mate who gets sick, the hair that turns gray or falls out, the body that stops working. I don't care what my sweetie or parents or loved ones would face, I would love them and be there regardless. I sometimes thought to myself, shortly after my marriage ended, that if something, god forbid, happened to him right then, I would pledge to take care of him anyway, backtrack leaving. Enough time has passed and he has a new sweetie to do that so that won't be necessary but the thought was there. My meager resources, what are they good for if not to give when there's need?

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Seven (a guest post by Anonymous)

I met a girl once. We got together casually a few times. I liked her very much for a few hours.

Seven I think.

Then something changed. She came to my house for dinner. We had some food and some wine. I listened attentively as she bemoaned the alcoholism of her ex-husband while quickly refilling my glass to the brim whenever I took a sip.

More happened.

I thought about how amoebas surround and engulf their prey and dissolve them into nothingness.

                    (Actual date footage)

I became desperate for her to leave.

Later, I called her to say I couldn’t do this.

She wanted to be friends.

I wanted to let things settle for a few days.

She began cyberstalking me.

I emailed her and told her I couldn’t be friends.

Then she let loose a barrage of increasingly mean emails.

Seven I think.

Later, a friend advised me that she was trying to provoke a reaction from me. I had indeed reacted, and had set up my email to divert her assaults to trash.

Anyway, a few months have passed.

Seven I think.

I miss her.

I fear I missed the chance of a lifetime entanglement of pathologies that would make the rest of my life look great in comparison.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

What am I buying? Stuff I buy, because you want to know.

Because this is the MOST riveting topic I could think of, I thought I would grace you all with a list of stuff I buy. Isn't that great??

Stuff I buy:

1. Hair conditioner. (Actually I buy a lot of hair conditioner, and all different kinds too because ONE of them is bound to make my locks all soft and silky, right? Marketers, keep it up, I almost fall for your pitches.)

2. Food. I should have put this first, if we're prioritizing. I buy a LOT of food. I love to eat. It's awesome, I highly recommend it. If you haven't heard of food, you should try it.

3. Socks. Not cotton though, those harden in the dryer and become all gritty. I must have soft socks. Luckily you only have to buy socks once in your life though, it's not as much of a repeat demand purchase as food.

4. Animals. I have purchased animals before. Some people might refer to them as pets. Sometimes you can get them for free, but not always. Although I don't have any creatures right now, I once bought a parakeet for $20. It served the dual purpose of both companionship and musical transmission device and was a really great purchase, although it only lasted 10 years. Be sure to have backup companions and music.

5. Floss. I buy quite a bit of floss, as I am extremely OCD about dental cleanliness. (All that eating, you know?) NO STORE sells the floss I like so I must buy mine online in gargantuan 6-month supply stocks. But it is wonderful floss and my dentist recommends it.

Now that I have shared five things I buy, I will share the idea for this post. Every blogger mines the world for blog topics and today mine came from the news.

Today in WORLD NEWS headlines, we see the following top-ranked item of interest:

What's Kate Been Buying for Baby??
Inquiring minds want to know.
So much is happening in the world today but the most important question I've been waiting for has FINALLY been answered: "What's Kate Been Buying for Baby?"

I thought I might go the rest of my life and never know.

Thank you, news aggregators, for prioritizing these current events . My burning curiosity about Kate's purchases can now rest.

I hope YOU blog about your purchases next and we make this a widespread Internet meme. Tag, you're it!

Monday, June 17, 2013

The date that will probably end with 84 years of bad luck.

"I know," my prospective date was saying. "Let's go on a road trip!"

We'd spent an hour on the phone and seemed to be getting along.

"I need to get a special shelves but it's only at a Walmart in Norfolk, I just checked," he said. "Let's go tomorrow."

"I can't go tomorrow," I said. "I won't be free until... I dunno, maybe next weekend?"

"Oh, alright." He sighed disappointedly.

A day passes and he emails me. We're still in the getting-to-know-you stage. I mean, it's been 24 hours but I need at LEAST one more day before my serial killer assessment test results come back.

"What kind of car do you have?"

I reply, confused, "an older sedan, why?"

"Oh because I was wondering if they would fit. Do the seats fold down? They're huge. I don't have a car so we'll have to take yours."

Wait, you're not pushing to spend 6 hours with me because of my awesome & captivating personality but because I happen to have wheels??

I balk. He calls. "I found a backup plan. There are these other reflective glass shelves at a Walmart near you. Can you pick them up for me when you get a chance? I need twelve."

Do you have ANY IDEA how much of a pain in the ass it is to set FOOT into an Walmart? And THAT MANY of those monsters, will they even fit into my back seat or will I just get 84 years of terrible luck for trying??

I hate dating.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

And then a buffalo jumps in there and starts head-butting everything and your face catches on fire and there is a general atmosphere of chaos.

If you're in a relationship, sometimes you probably feel like you're fighting a caged death-match with an invisible spider monkey. And the monkey is rabid. And you don't have any legs. And then a buffalo jumps in there and starts head-butting everything and your face catches on fire and there is a general atmosphere of chaos.
-Hyperbole and a Half's relationship advice
Oh conflict.

Someone wrote to me recently, asking "my marriage is on the rocks, please help?"
"What is going on?" I asked.

"We're fighting too much. I get hot-headed and she turns cold just when I need compassion the most. We're just not getting through to each other. It's awful. We're at the end of our ropes."
Conflict arises when something is wrong. (Duh, right?) But then why not just make it right?

Easier said than done.
That's because resolving conflict healthily takes 2 things:
  1. The ability to manage your emotions
  2. The ability to communicate in a way that feels safe for your partner. 
Don't do this.

So, just ask for what you need, right? Or conversely, listen nicely?

But what if you don't WANT that stolen traffic light hanging over your marital bed? To compromise, you offer to give in as long as you can display your assorted toenail collection prominently on the mantle (I really did know someone who kept one in a paper bag so I'm not making that completely up) which seemed like a reasonable compromise at first, really, but now neither of you will budge, relent or detach.

A funny thing was discovered though, by Dr. Marriage (as I like to call Dr. Gottman, the marriage researcher who could predict which marriages were likely to fail). He found that when people brought up an issue of discontent, if it wasn't addressed, they didn't necessarily keep bringing it back up. They just stopped asking. They were still unhappy, they were just letting sleeping dogs lie.

Real dogs are much cuter than the dogs of marital discontent.

Now no one is talking and the issue gets buried and the couple disconnects.
There's a good reason people don't usually talk about their feelings though: they're worried it won't be received well. But emotions never politely dissipate; if something is wrong, it's not going to go away. Learning to communicate how you feel in a way that is true to your authentic self and also nonthreatening to your partner is paramount to a happy union, and vice versa listening without making your partner scared to be vulnerable with you.

Some advice on where to start:
In a conflict, it's easy to become "flooded" and once that happens, the rational brain shuts off and goes into a reactive state.

Al Turtle calls this "lizard" mode.

My spirit animal.
 I read somewhere that it takes 19 minutes for fight or flight hormones like cortisol and adrenaline to dissipate once released during a perceived threat. You cannot fight your biology; once you get mad or sad, these chemicals are coursing through your body and you cannot talk yourself out of their effects anymore than anyone can will themselves out of a diabetic attack.

Humans (all animals, actually) are physiologically made for one purpose: to save our own lives. This means we are prepared, in the face of a threat, to respond in one of two ways: fight or flee. That's why those hormones get dumped into your system: so you can take down the saber toothed tiger or scale a tree to escape from the wolf.

However, this wonderful built-in defense is useless in a marital argument.
So in a fight, when you feel the tension rising and believe you're no longer in a good place for a productive discussion, give yourself at least 19 minutes away from the threat (the fight) so you can return and try talking again. When you walk away, help your body do what it started: walk, do some pushups, jog in place, whatever -- force your muscles to use up that energy they've been pumped with.

Then once you calm down, ask yourself "what is the longing behind this argument?"

Your longing and your partner's longing is the core of the issue. It won't necessarily come out that way at first but that's why it's so important to uncover the real issue.

My partner and I once got into an enormous fight on a trip when I had to use the bathroom frequently. The real issue? Not that I had to disappear into a public restroom every 2 hours. The longing behind his complaint was that he felt lonely, like I was more preoccupied with the facilities than sharing the day with him. There is often the fight, and then there is the real issue underneath.

For a good article on marital boundaries, read:
And one more tool for your arsenal: "nonviolent communication." 

A common problem is learning how to manage emotions. You feel something, and you're probably not lame so you happen to feel it very intensely, but the intensity is too much to handle.

This guy is hot!
The first thing to recognize is that you are not this emotion, it is temporary and will pass through you. Observe it like an outsider. Split yourself in two, be your own best friend, hug yourself and offer self-compassion. Accepting emotions instead of being intolerant of them will allow them to pass more quickly.

Then, when you are ready to talk with your partner, try a new approach.

I like "nonviolent communication" because it encourages self-expression without the kind of reactivity that can trigger a partner to shut down. I don't necessarily like the label because it sounds like communication must be either violent or not, but that's not true, it's just a technique to talk without activating your partner's "lizard."

One last resource to help with relationship woes is the book The Five Love Languages.

The premise is that everyone has a certain way they feel loved. If you want your partner to feel loved, you want to speak their love language.

The five languages are:
  1. Physical affection 
  2. Gifts 
  3. Effusiveness with words: telling people how much you appreciate them or what they did 
  4. Quality time 
  5. Acts of service: doing nice things for someone else like washing the dishes or having their car vacuumed or something.
Do an exercise where each of you ranks this in order of importance. The top two are your love languages.

One girlfriend did this with her husband and then suddenly understood why, when he had to work late and came home with flowers and an apology, that it didn't mean anything to her because her love language was quality time, and his was gifts. Neither of them felt loved by the other because they were expressing to the other how they wanted love expressed to them. Too often we do for someone else what we want done to us.

Now that you know your partner's love language, do another exercise:
  • List 10 things that make you feel loved, and have them do the same.
Share the list with each other. It should be very specific: small things that would be easy to do and understand how to take action. Not just an abstract "love me more" but concrete things like "hug me first thing in the morning" or "run to open the door if you're nearby when you hear my keys in the lock."

Try to do at least 3 of the things on your partner's list every day. (It can be hard to do them all but aim for at least a few.)

If you're unsure whether you can save your relationship, I recommend: "too good to leave, too bad to stay" by Mira Kirshenbaum. Also, counseling is awesome. Best of luck in your marriage, I hope it works out.