Thursday, December 30, 2010

How I signed my soul over to Satan

Catholicism.  Something I was blessed/cursed to be indoctrinated into when I was born.  Literally, there was no choice.  You’re a baby in a satin white dress being held by your mother in front of a crowd of people and then you’re dunked into a bath of water by a strange man in a robe.  And tada.  You’re Catholic! 

There are few things that I remember from my earlier/church going years.  One, my real estate tycoon Grandmother believed God understood she was too busy to go to church on Sundays (Dear Lord, I have a sale to make!).  Two, that it instilled an unhealthy worry that Satan was lurking in the corners for me like a pedophile on Halloween.

The devil’s powers were mystical to me.  Around the age of 7, I was convinced that you could literally sign your LIFE away to the devil simply by stating it in your head.  Trust me, I tried NOT to sign my soul away to the devil.  But because children touch hot stoves and open presents before Xmas, I could not get the idea out of my head.  And that thought was so compelling that one day, in the middle of my bedroom; I decided to say out loud “I sell my soul to the devil.”  I had no preconceived notion of what was going to happen next, other than that I was going to die. 

Days went by without me being possessed or having an urge to kill.  That didn’t soothe me, it only made me panic.  I decided this meant that the devil would wait until I was complacent and then suck my soul through my ear hole.  Most days I could work through the logic that saying something out loud doesn’t make it true.  But other days, I’d be sitting alone in the back of my Grandma’s Cadillac, clutching My Little Pony and start crying because the devil was eventually going to come find me. 

In retrospect – I missed the entire message of the “sell your soul to the Devil” tale of Christianity.  It seems everyone else in the Bible had actually gotten something out of the deal – wealth, eternal life, Gisele Bunchen. I had actually just given up my soul for nothing.    Which makes my soul akin to an easy lay in high school. 

And if, in his generosity, he just gave me everything I subconsciously wanted - thanks for the beach, the convertible and the good friends.   And if Satan is going to take me - take me while I'm stuck on the 405.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

How Dan Savage ruined my sex life (aka the Savage effect)

I started reading sex advice columns before you did.  And not the Carrie Bradshaw kind – the out of the closet/angry at heterosexuals column written by Dan Savage (of Savage Love infamy).  His column was in the back of The Onion when it was still a tiny hard copy newspaper published in Madison, WI.  I started reading every column he ever wrote at the age of 13.  (This was mid-1990s when HBO’s Real Sex was the main source of pornography for teenagers.)

In my early teenage years Dan was my window of choice into adult sexuality. And what a weird effing window it was!  His appeal is his ability to simultaneously criticize readers if he feels their concerns are bullshit but also give sound advice if you ever discover an elderly parent touching a pet parrot in an extra curricular way.  Every week there was a different, off the wall concern from a different gay or straight couple living a very modest life publically and inwardly getting their jollies off wearing animal costumes. 

Now, truthfully Dan has helped the world over discover that they’re not alone in their love of latex and balloon animals.  However, for a young Midwestern girl I perhaps took the message too literally.  Cue my first boyfriend.  After months of sucking face in public and declaring our undying love to one another I felt it was only appropriate to share our inner secrets.  When two teenagers fall in love it seems only right that you would share EVERYTHING, no matter how repulsive.  And I was determined to be the open, non judging girlfriend, ready to share and partake in whatever that boyfriend was “into.”  (Dan Savage had taught me so). 

So throughout the course of my first relationship I’d lie in bed, next to boyfriend and try to ferret out his darkest sexual yearnings.

Me:  So do you want to pee on me?
Him: No.

Me:  Maybe you are bisexual?
Him: No.

Me:  Tie me up?
Him:  Maybe. 

I’d stay up all night worrying he was withholding. What could it possibly be? Water sports?  Massage parlors? Then I thought, maybe he’s into something Dan Savage hasn’t even DISCOVERED YET.  A humiliating attraction to phone booths? 

Over the course our entire relationship I kept searching, convinced that with enough prodding and unconditional love, he would reveal all. There would be Valentine’s Day, tears and my constant plea “just admit it you love ball gags!” The less he had to reveal, the more I was convinced that he didn’t love me enough to speak the truth.

Tragically, the relationship ended.  But my quest to determine his sexual deviance is unwavering.  Because after all, strap ons aren’t just for breakfast. 

Monday, December 27, 2010

A Guide to a Happy/Albeit Chaotic Life

A defining moment in the life of (some) adults is the moment they pack up their belongings and move away from everyone and everything that they know and love.  For most rational adults – this occurs in college when you move away from home for the first time.  And then you move back to the closest “big city” to where you grew up to start your first job.  And then you meet your sweetie, move out to the suburbs and raise children who will eventually abandon you for a college that’s at least 2 hours away and the cycle continues.    The whole process normally looks like this – adolescence, abandonment and then back to the mothership in less than 10 years. 

I fall in the extreme outlier for humanity.  I started off going to college literally DOWN THE STREET from my dad.  Then I transferred to a large university that was the preferred 2 hours or more away from my parents.  And then – ON PURPOSE – I packed up everything I knew 7 more times as I lived around the country (and outside of it).  I haven’t lived in any city longer than 2 years.  And consequently I also haven’t lived in an apartment for longer than 2 years nor had the same group of friends near me for longer than two years.  I have reinvented everything over and over and over again.  The absence of routine, familiarity and stability has been my comfort.  I assume to most rational people this sounds like their version of hell – living a life where the only certainty in your life is yourself.

Out of the chaos and instability there are a few takeaways I am grateful to learn:

You don’t really know who you are until you find yourself alone, in a new city, in an empty apartment with no friends.  You will quickly find that who you “used” to be was a lot of behaviors you picked up from your upbringing and who you “grow into being” will include choices that you make outside of the expectations of your parents and high school friends.  You’ll radically change some things and diligently follow others but the only way to test who you are is to throw out the book and start from scratch. 

There is a balance and cycle to those who orbit in your life.  It is scary and daunting to consider leaving life long friends for career dreams but I promise you, you will make new friends.  And the “old” friends who drop out of your life weren’t meant to be in your journey for the long haul.  The ones that stay with you will surprise you and usually are not the ones that you would expect.  There are high school friends who you will talk to every other day and college roommates you talk to a few times a year and always pick up where you left off.  And there are those kindred spirits who fall off completely.  But in all my moves I’ve always seen a new friend enter where another took the off ramp. 

The places you dream of most may be the most disappointing.  The jobs and projects you fought hard for may be the most lackluster for your career.  The boys (or girls) that seemed perfect for you may turn out to be the least compatible.   Predicting your life is a rocky science – expect the trial and error to repeat.

At some point you will find a place in the world where you want to pause, soak it all in and sigh.  This is probably the place you should be living in for longer than two years.  For me (to my utter disbelief), this is Los Angeles

And lastly, to quote my friend Jerry Garcia – what a long, strange trip it’s been.  


Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The awful truth about hooking up

I’ve come to the conclusion that literally no one enjoys the constant parade of bodily fluid swapping known as the hook up.  Despite what we keep telling ourselves “it’s an ego boost!” “I don’t need a boyfriend” “sometimes you just need to get a piece” … we know deep in our hearts that we’re lying. And I’m not morally against lying per se but against lying when it comes to yourself.  Human beings are crafty at many things (yay opposable thumbs) but craftiest by far at convincing yourself of something that you don’t really believe to be true.  (Like my constant attempts to appear to be less of the yuppie than I really am – more on that later). 

Hook up patterns start primarily in college where alcohol and mattresses are prominent.  You can kind of get a pass in that period of your life because none of us knew what the eff we were doing – we didn’t really know who we were or what we wanted out of life.  But as we grew older, we packed up our belongings at college and brought them to new and interesting cities …. We also decided to pack up our hook up lifestyle and spread it like cancer. As we upgraded our careers and living situations we forgot to elevate our expectations of the opposite sex.  It was still OK to meet a boy at a party and take him to your bedroom at 25.   And the tale ended in never speaking to that person again or staying in relationship limbo where nothing is defined, there are no expectations and no one is satisfied.  (There are people who transitioned their hook ups to full fledged relationships but by in large these are the exception, not the rule).

Yes, there are days when a hot make out session gives you everything you needed in life.  But I believe on average, the pattern gets old.  There are days you wake up and wish there was a person to actually TALK TO lying next to you as opposed to a person you are wishing will leave your apartment sooner rather than later.  You start wishing that there was someone in your life who wanted to share more than your body.  Maybe someone who would enjoy long days watching college football, eating your appetizers and drinking craft beer (P.S. if you are said gentleman who enjoys this -  for the love of god FIND ME). 

The awful truth about hooking up is that it gets old and starts to suck.  Physical intimacy is a poor substitute for emotional intimacy.  The former fizzles like a quick flame on a stove, the latter grows and intensifies.

And since I have close friends on both the male and female side of the camp – I can assure you that there are representatives on both sides that agree.  Despite our repeated attempts to hook up and convince ourselves it doesn’t matter, in the end I have heard men and women alike say they’re looking for love and friendship over groping strangers at a club in West Hollywood.  The problem lies in the fact that it’s easier to get the quick fix and harder and more risky to wear your heart on your sleeve.  To all of my friends (boys and girls) – I hope you find a way to put the heart back out there.  I know you will all make wonderful boyfriend/girlfriends/husbands/wives to someone special.  

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

My work spouse can kick your work spouse’s ass

For those of us who work under the crushing pain of corporate America, you have most likely come across a situation in which you were a member of a “work marriage.”  This person is handy when you want to share juicy work place gossip or talk in long tirades about the ills of your manager, the carpet in the conference room and the poorly executed holiday party.  There is an intimacy between the two work parties due to the high level of confidential information sharing which leads to a sense that “this is the person who understands me.”

I don’t know what work spouses say about our work culture?  Maybe for the young singles this is pre-training for real relationships?  Maybe it’s a mild form of cheating (if either party is hitched)?  Maybe it means we work too hard and need a beacon of hope/motivation to come to work every day (yes!)?

There are many downsides to this work arrangement.  One (obviously) is that at some point the urge to bone may tip the balance in favor of doing the (morally) wrong thing.  WARNING: hormones – not just for teenagers anymore.  Another is when you get to a spot in the “friendship” where you align yourself with this person so much you start to believe that it’s “Bob and I against the world” … this is a dangerous place where feelings develop and are hard to shake.  This leads to crying in the Starbucks bathroom before work every morning when Bob announces he’s engaged and you have to live with the crushing reality that Bob really didn’t see you as the only person in the world he could talk to. 

One of the toughest days in the life of a work wife is when you meet your work husband’s REAL WIFE.  For some reason you wish to know everything about them but none of the information means anything really.  If they’re EXACTLY like you, then what?  Your work husband just tends to attract similar kinds of women.  Is that comforting?  If she’s NOTHING like you, then what?  Are you just filling the void that the REAL WIFE isn’t providing?  But at the end of the day he married the REAL WIFE and you’re just the girl who can entertain him with supportive texts in a long meeting.  None of it means anything at all.  And in the end this also means that your relationship with this person means nothing at all.  Your work spouse relationship is the equivalent to a model home.  It looks and feels like a real home but it is just a display.  There can’t be a real “break up” or “divorce” in this situation because the foundation isn’t real. I imagine that this is why the work spouse relationship is so attractive to men – they can justify the ease of which they leave this relationship because on pure facts alone it isn’t real. 

So the real question is: are our spouses/significant others supposed to fill that work spouse void when they have no real context for what’s going on at your work and/or would be bored to tears by the minutia of your inner office politics?  And if not, what are our spouses supposed to do for us?  If we spend 75% of our time at work and our spouses are outside of that time, what the eff is their role in our lives?  

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Relationships outside of the catalogue

I'm sitting in a J Crew.  No, I'm not sitting.  I'm standing in the middle of the cashmere sweater aisle.  The waif behind the register is staring at navy blue ties with gold boat anchors.  My heart/mind is racing.  I'm going to see HIM in 10 minutes.  

I'm standing in the J Crew because I'm the preppiest former new englander living in Los Angeles.  I'm the cardigan twin set.  I'm the pearl earrings.  I like the order and calm that comes with a matching set and the promise of tennis in the afternoon with a boy from New Haven.  But no.  I'm living in Los Angeles on the beach and my date tonight is with my married ex boyfriend.  That's not true.  Well the married part is.  But I don't know if you can call him an ex boyfriend?  He was married when I met him.  There is no label for what we had.  There is no standard placement in the store for the outfit that was our relationship.  We were not summer wear; we were not evening glamour - we were hidden in the back dressing room.  Away from public.  Underground.  We were not ready made catalogue material.  

I don't know where he is right now.  He's not J Crew.  He's Ferrari.  He's Porsche.  I don't know if the fact that I can't think of a clothing store that defines him means something or nothing at all.  I don't know if he's as nervous to see me 6 months after the undefinable as I am or if he's succumb to the neatly prescribed Orange County married life. There is, of course,  an option for mid life crises affairs in that lifestyle.  But that option comes with more sex and less emotional connection than he and I had.  

Of course my first worry this moment is about what I'm wearing and what I look like.  As if that would ever be his first concern.  There isn't a cocktail dress in the world that will change any of the realities.  He's married.  He was my boss.  He's 20 years older than me  

J Crew does not promote relationships that are outside of the pre-determined seasonal collection.  There's winter boyfriend.  Summer boyfriend.   Fall boyfriend.   Summer boyfriend is my favorite.  He puts sun tan lotion and a six pack of beer into your pink beach tote.  And ironically his greatest asset is his six pack.  Fall boyfriend is the most serious because there's a chance you met him at university.  You can take your time with fall boyfriend - there is no pressure to rush into sex.  Winter boyfriend has the best cable knit sweaters and most eclectic itunes collection.   Spring boyfriend kisses you in the rain underneath a madras umbrella.  Spring boyfriend break ups are the most amicable.  Mainly because of the ease of transition from spring to summer clothing.

The J. Crew catalogue ends where real life begins.  Real life is a young woman in a flattering purple dress panicking in a well known retailer.  Wondering if there is any meaning at all to a relationship where there is no answer to the question "was he your lover?"

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The year of the growing pains

I remember when I was in grade school/junior high that the adults in my life believed that kids experienced growing pains.  The basic premise was that your body was growing at such a rapid rate that it caused you physical pain.  I also remember that there really wasn’t a treatment for this – you had to just suffer through the growth and hope you were a svelte beautiful teenager once it was over.

This year has been the adult equivalent of a growing pain.  The cause of this pain is not due to the physical growth but rather rapid mental and emotional maturity.  The catalyst was probably leaving a company that made me who I am today, hitting some bumps on the road and ending up at a new company that is a match for where I am heading.  And there was some major drama with a man who I had no business having feelings for. But he too proved to be there when I needed him the most and was a positive influence on my life.  I had to work through losing him (because it was a bad idea for both of us) and trying to recuperate from the loss of a true soul mate. (Hint: no matter how many people you surround yourself with afterwards, you walk away feeling very alone for some time after it ends).

But the most difficult aspect of the adult growing pain condition is that it is impossible to diagnose.  It sort of looks like depression, a quarterlife crises or psychosis to your closest friends.  And as the patient – you were a bouncy, happy individual and then all of the sudden things don’t feel right.  But what’s going on mentally is important (albeit frazzling). 

That’s what I’ve been feeling this year.  And as an unlicensed practitioner of a condition that I’ve just made up – I’d say I’m getting closer to the other side.  I’m feeling wiser and more in tune with the adult me.  I’m more at peace with things that have happened in my life.  I find that it’s much easier to sweat the small stuff now than it was just two months ago (for example – I damaged my new beautiful convertible and it didn’t so much as cause a bad day).  I think that means that (eek) I’m getting ready to be a full fledged/beautiful-on-the-inside 30 something? 

And as a graphical representation of my current feelings I've enclosed a photo of my happy disembodied head.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

The Human Experience

You have two choices.

1) Everything you have ever experienced (emotionally) was felt by a mass majority of people.  Each heartbreaking experience could basically be understood by the strangers sitting next to you on public transit.  When you begin the start of a painful story, generations of people could finish the ending because it seemed so familiar to them.

2) All of the key moments of your life were 100% unique.  Your closest friends could not even fathom what you've been through.  There isn't a message board for your experience.  You are essentially alone in your human experience.

What would you choose?

Friday, December 3, 2010

Passive Aggressive Break Up Strategies

For those who want to break up but don't have the fortitude to do it themselves .... here are ways to ensure your partner will break up with YOU instead:
  • Invite Sarah Jessica Parker to live with you and your sweetie
  • Wax your girlfriend's eyebrows in the middle of the night
  • Wear carrot scented perfume 
  • Let David Crosby impregnate you
  • Serve glow worms for breakfast
  • Start growing dreadlocks
  • Hide drugs in your girlfriend's purse - call the cops as she heads to work
  • Pay Tom Brady a large sum of money to propose to your girlfriend
  • Pterodactyl noises.  In bed.
  • Keep goldfish in the toilet bowl
  • Make fruit loops part of your grooming process
  • Eat dinner with a letter opener
  • Blow a rape whistle every time he tries to touch you
  • Get a tattoo of your ex boyfriend's name
  • Stop, drop and roll in front of their coworkers 
  • Show your love through pinching
  • Kick your boyfriend in the teeth
  • Tell your partner that watching The Never Ending Story controls your mood swings

Thursday, December 2, 2010

So, you still live in LA?

I've been thinking about this bizarre phenomenon ever since I got back from my trip home for Thanksgiving.

Without fail, whenever relatives or random acquaintances strike up a conversation with me outside of this state there seems to be a theme.  That theme lies in their to desire to have me defend why California is so fucked up.

A sample conversation follows:

Aunt: So you still live in LA?

Me: Yep.

Aunt: So why is your state going bankrupt?  Why can't they figure it out?

On principle I understand why California as an entity is intriguing for people who don't live here.  I also get that the politics of this state are fascinating.  We'll put those thoughts in the "seemingly rational" pile.  What I don't understand is why it's assumed that I am expected to a) speak on behalf of 36 million people who live here or b) have any insight into the situation at all. ("irrational" pile thoughts)

Given the fact that I've only lived here for a few years it's like asking me to defend the cereal selection at Target because I shopped there for 60 minutes.

I don't know where one makes the insane leap of logic that a citizen of a body of land is also an expert on that land?  By that logic I should walk around Boston and ask people "tell me everything you know about Paul Revere."

And lest you think I'm some apathetic loser, enclosed is a list of things that I am more of an authority on than Cali politics:

  • Throwing up in a moving vehicle
  • Buying a quarter life crises convertible
  • The Foo Fighters concert at Wembley
  • The laws that govern happy hour in Boston (hint: there is no happy hour in Boston)
  • Wine (for obvious reasons)
  • Big ten football
  • Winning the hearts and minds of 40 year old executives
  • American Airlines exit aisle seats
  • Homemade pumpkin spiced lattes!
  • Groupies of The Killers (more on that later)

Stages of Vegas

Apologies to all of my friends who received this in an e-mail the first time I wrote it after our Fall Vegas trip.  Upon review from the booth, it's worthy of a blog post.  

Secondly, my apologies for the fact that this is all true.

Stage One: YAY, we’re going to vegas

Stage Two: Dread. I’m going to spend too much money.  I’m going to drink too much.  I’m going to make bad decisions.  Ugh.  I am a wasteof life.

Stage Three:  I’m going to make a power hour dvd for Vegas

Stage Four:  My life is going to get in the way of making said dvd and it’s going to be a power 46 minutes because I don’t have time to do this

Stage Five: Morning of Vegas.  YAY I’m excited for Vegas again

Stage Six:  High five the TSA guy at LAX because you’re going to Vegas!!!!

Stage Seven:  Arrive in Vegas, in hotel dance party ensues

Stage Eight:  Ridiculously expensive night club?  Check

Stage Nine:  Dancing your face off.

Stage Ten:  Limo ride around the block!!!

Stage Eleven:  Questionably wandering home alone and passing out whilst friends eat pizza on your limp body

Stage Twelve:  Morning gambling!!!!  Also discover that your friend is in a wheel chair.  Lose money.  Realize you have an amazing rack.

Stage Thirteen:  Drinking all day at the cabana.  You realize you are awesome.  And all of your friends are equally awesome.

Stage Fourteen:  Very drunk girl finds out her boyfriend cheated on her.  She continues to cry awkwardly in the pool and you have no idea what to do because you don’t actually know her.

Stage Fifteen:  Beatles + Cirque De Soleil = Tears of joy and fist pumping in the audience

Stage Sixteen: Dancing your face off AGAIN

Stage Seventeen: Bears Sunday and downing a pitcher of beer by yourself.  Learn your friend is engaged!!!!!

Stage Eighteen:  I NEED A TATTOO. 


Stage Twenty: Let’s gamble instead!  Win free money!  Drink ALL THE WINE.

Stage Twenty One:  I don’t feel so good.  Wine in my stomach is starting to dance and make me ill.

Stage Twenty Two:  PUKING IN THE CAR.  Puking on the side of the road.  Puking in the bathroom at random road stop.  Puking again FOR GOOD MEASURE.

Stage Twenty Three:  Passing out.

Stage Twenty Four:  Revival.  Feeling like a person again.  Then sitting in the car for another 7 hours to get home.

Stage Twenty Five:  Day after.  Ugh.  Vegas killed me.  I need to re-evaluate my life.

The end