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Posts Tagged ‘boys’

My Life is a TLC Song

The other day, I was walking to the train from my house, minding my own business, on my way to work. I passed the local dry-cleaners, the Irish pub where the locals drink Guinness and watch basketball, and waited for traffic to stop so I could cross the street. By the time I made it to the end of the crosswalk and rounded the corner of the bus stop, I heard it. The catcall. A guy who thinks he’s fly, hangin’ out of the passenger side of his best friend’s ride, trying to holler at me.
Oh, Oh.

The car wasn’t even nice. It was a beat up, old, brown clunker from the 1970s. Furthermore, this was at 8:30 in the morning on a Wednesday in a residential neighborhood known for its quiet and respectable families and young professionals.

Plus, I was wasn’t even wearing provocative clothing! I had on dress slacks, a Victorian-esque lace shirt up to my neck, and moccasins (don’t judge, the heels come on at the office). I was looking like class and he was looking like trash, and somewhere between the surprise at processing a catcall and dredged up disdain for men everywhere before my morning coffee, I realized that I had broken the fourth wall (or whatever the acoustic counterpart of that is) and had fallen into a TLC song.

All day at work, all I could think about was this pre-commute event and how disgusting men are. Do they think it makes women feel good to be yelled at with lewd phrases, sexualizing them to a walking piece of meat? They can not think this kind of behavior will elicit anything but at least an eye roll and at most an angry bout of man-hating and disillusionment of the notion that women are seen with respect and equality in the 21st century.

Then I started to do a little fishing online (it was slow at work), researching how other women feel about the catcall. Predictable, I found in other blog posts, reader comments, and lifestyle articles on various news sites that most women think the catcall is either vulgar and demeaning or annoying but ignorable. What did surprise me were the comments I saw saying that women feel buoyed up by what they considered male appreciation of their body. Some women think catcalls are flattering. Not that these women would stop and run off with the men doing the catcalling for a date and/or roll in the hay, but some say catcalling puts a smile on their face and makes them feel empowered by their feminine charms.

I respect everyone’s opinion, but I still can’t understand how some women enjoy what I find to be a horrible but inevitable experience. Maybe these women are not getting the same kind of comments I’m getting such as the three examples below:

  • “Ooooooo girl, yum, gimme, gimme!” (while banging on the door of the car) – last Wednesday
    -Yum? Really?
  • “Oh girl, you thick!”- last year
    – Thank you for pointing out that I am “thick.” I don’t like to be reminded that I have what my family calls “the Murrin hips.”
  • “Hey, you in the black t-shirt! Oh, give me some of that, yeah, unnhh” – Age:16, Location: Washington, DC, Parties Present: MY PARENTS
    – Underaged. And, thanks for giving my Mother a heart attack.

All of my catcalls have been made by low-class, sloppy looking cretins. Perhaps if a preppy-looking man in a business suit catcalled me outside of my office, I’d have a better outlook on this male tradition. Yet, it seems like the only kind of men who catcall are the scuzzy undesirables whose comments make women feel less “hot, sexy woman with the power to turn heads” and more “piece of ass that I’d like to fuck.”

Men need to get their act together when they catcall and class it up a bit. A “hey, beautiful” or even a whistle wouldn’t bother me like the trashy sexual comments do. Yes, I can see the other side of the coin. I have turned a few heads while walking by a construction crew on their lunch break while wearing a red dress, and I felt pretty sassy.* Otherwise though, men should expect nothing but derision from the recipients of their remarks. Do men actually think shouting at women from the street is going to work? I’d like to know the success rate of catcalling in getting a woman’s prolonged attention.

So what do you think? Catcalls: flattering or flustering?

And with that, I leave you my inspiration for this post and a piece of classic 90’s awesomeness:


* The stereotype come to life. And yes (because I know you were wondering), the construction workers were hot burly young men. Girls look too; we are just more subtle and classy about how we do it.

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What is Love?

While talking to my mom Thursday morning, she sprung a doozy of a question on me. Seemingly out of the blue she asked if I am in love.

Background:
1. Yes, friends, family, people of the Internet, I have a boyfriend.
2. Apparently it was my dad who asked the question. This struck me as odd since we don’t talk about these things. Instead we shoot things or disagree on politics. I guess my mom is slowly filling him in. Interestingly, when I called him this afternoon, specifically to see if he’d mention anything, he only told me to drink in moderation (I was on my way to a wedding and I’m pretty sure my dad thinks I’m a lush, but that’s a post for another day.)
Anyway, I didn’t know how to answer this question. I’ve never been in love. Sure, I love my parents. I love my friends. I love my students and I love my dogs. But I’ve never experienced that totally different kind of love. Love with a capital L.
How do you know? My mom said you know when you know, which was entirely unhelpful.
After my mom posed the question, two songs* immediately came to mind. Haddaway’s “What is Love” and “That’s How You Know” from Disney’s Enchanted.
The first song describes my fear of love (baby don’t hurt me…). I have a hard time getting too emotionally invested in just about anything because I fear the hurt that will come when things don’t work out. Even applying to colleges I was afraid to love one too much, in case I didn’t get accepted. Perhaps this is because I only applied to really good schools. I didn’t have a safety school. I had one good match school and several reach schools. As it turns out, I think I ended up much happier at the good match school than I ever would have been at the East Coast schools my heart was set one. But even in that situation I was determined to not set my heart one particular East Coast school. Whether or not that worked in practice is up for debate (I still hold a soft spot for Boston College).
If I get this afraid of rejection from a team of administrators, just think about how terrifying rejection from a boy is for me…
However, the Enchanted song reminds me (okay, maybe not remind since I’ve never been in this situation, but it reminds me of what the movies and books and my friends tell me) of the wonderfulness and excitement of love. I desperately want to feel this feeling but I’m afraid my fear will hold me back.
Perhaps it is the stoic Norwegian in me rearing its placid head. Maybe it’s a confidence issue. Who knows. I will say that I am, and probably always will be, a very even-keeled person, emotionally. My swim coach used to rag on me nonstop at swim meets to show emotion behind the block. I always wanted to tell him, I was excited and pumped about my race. I just didn’t show it by jumping all over the place behind the blocks, or splashing myself with water (never understood the tradition). My calm stretching and weird little goggle traditions were my own displays of excitement.
I guess this post really has no purpose except to talk myself thorough my feelings. Oh, and to brag about my boyfriend. He’s sweet and romantic (he remembered on our first date that I complained about the lack of stars and told me, once we have the time he is going to take me somewhere we can see all the stars). Yet he’s “manly” and athletic (6’2″ hockey player!!!) while being intelligent (hello scientist!).
So yes, I am excited. I think he could be my first real love, but taking that emotional step is huge for me. And that is terrifying.
*I apologize. I forgot/wordpress changed and I don’t know how to embed videos anymore.
**If you watch/listen to all 10 hours of the Haddaway SNL skit I will simultaneously love you and judge you…

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I’ve never read the titular book, but it’s on my never-ending list of TBR’s! The list is growing more quickly than usual because it is taking me FOREVER to read The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. I’m really not sure what the hype is all about. I’m about to give up on it…

Anyway… during the time not spent at work or trying to keep my eyes open reading Dragon Tattoo I’ve made some interesting observations about men and women. I admit, these are broad categorizations and I know there are many a man who would fit in the female group and vice versa. Nevertheless, here they are.

Sports:

When a woman gets back into a physical activity she used to excel at (or at least succeed at) she doesn’t start of at a sprint. No, a woman overestimates her loss of ability and starts out slow. Afraid of tiring too much before the workout is complete. Whereas men put all their effort into the beginning and often find themselves dragging at the end (or getting out of the pool early). I’m not saying either is good. Women should not doubt their abilities so much. It’s kind of like brushing off a compliment (“Really? I feel like I look really bloated and messy” in response to “You look great today!”). We should take a leaf out of man’s book and be more confident. Sometimes, a bit of confidence is all you need! On the other hand, starting off too strong can lead to injury and frustration.

Literature:

One of my guy friends has his favorite passages and quotes pulled from the books and framed. All eight are hung in his bedroom. It’s hard to describe, and I don’t want to use his picture without permission, but it looks really cool. I’m seriously thinking about copying him, so I started thinking about which authors belonged on my wall. My gut reactions were:

Jane Austen (Pride and Prejudice)

Margaret Mitchell (Gone with the Wind)

Truman Capote (Breakfast at Tiffany’s)

Harper Lee (To Kill a Mockingbird)

Katherine Mansfield (Miss Brill a short story found in her collection, The Garden Party and Other Stories)

Kenneth Grahame (The Wind in the Willows)

Shakespeare (The Tempest)

Markus Zusak (The Book Thief)

My friend’s choices are:

Ernest Hemingway (Hills Like White Elephants)

Nam Le (Love and Honour and Pity and Pride and Compassion and Sacrifice)

Donald Barthelme (Some of Us had been Threatening Our Friend Colby)

Gabriel García Márquez (One Hundred Years of Solitude)

William Faulkner (The Sound and the Fury)

George Orwell (1984)

Kurt Vonnegut (not from a book, but from a speech)

F. Scott Fitzgerald (The Great Gatsby)

Tom Stoppard (Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead)

I don’t consider myself a romantic, but all my quotes (except for the passage from The Wind in the Willows) are about love, or at least relationships. I do not know exactly which passages my friend chose, but I’m pretty sure they are not about love.

I know there are many women out there who love these authors, but combining all these authors in one group seems very masculine.

Life:

Let me give you two scenarios, one from a female friend and one from a male friend (in order to avoid he/she I will use “they.” Even though I know it is not grammatically correct). Both are wonderful people. Both are scientists. When one friend knew their oral exam was approaching they studied like crazy. For 6 months. They wanted to be absolutely certain they knew anything and everything their advisers could throw at them. They were stressed, stressed, stressed. For a very long time.

The other knew their oral exam was coming up, and did not tell me. I did not know about them until two days before. This friend stayed out late with friends, made new friends, religiously watched their Alma Mater play in the March Madness games. Basically had a grand old-time. Unfortunately for them, the exams did not go well.

Can you guess which of these was my female friend and which was my male friend? If you guessed female for scenario number one, and male for scenario number two, you are correct. While my female friend probably over stressed herself, which is not good, my male friend was not stressed enough. There is a fine line, which, granted, is hard to walk. Too much stress and you don’t sleep. You don’t eat . This makes concentration difficult, affecting the final outcome. On the other hand, winging it is fine for some situations, but your future academic career?

So, are any of these 3 qualities better than the other? No. I just think it’s interesting to think about.

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We write a lot about history here, but no necessarily our personal history. I am a firm believer that if we pay attention to the lessons of history, we can learn from them. In that spirit, here is a portion of my history, and I hope it helps someone.
I once dated a real jerk, let’s call him Jerkface Root. Don’t get me wrong, he had good qualities, too. He was brave, good-looking, intelligent, and funny. Unfortunately, he was also a liar, inconsiderate, selfish, and had a temper. For a while our relationship was good. Yes, I saw the bad qualities he possessed, but I thought it had to do with his time in war. I thought those unpleasant tendencies would ease up after he spent more time stateside. After all, I’m not one to shirk from a challenge, and I have a pretty nasty temper myself. We fought occasionally. (Not physically, mind you. True, Root had some PTSD issues. However, I only ever felt he would actually hit me once, and to his credit he restrained himself.) We had a lot of good times, too. Most people really liked him. Most people thought we worked very well together.
We talked about our future, about getting married. As we talked a funny thing began to happen, I noticed that the more we talked about our future the more it seemed like his future. He had very specific ideas about his life and very little concern about what that meant for mine. We fought.
However, at this point, about two years in, I was convinced that we were meant to be together. I actually started thinking about different ways to change my plans to match his. He never budged.
Everything shifted when I spent a summer in a foreign land in which I did not know a soul. I was happy. I realized I didn’t actually need Root for my life to be fulfilling. I could be happy all by my onsie. Still, I wanted to make it work with Root. I did love him after all. When I returned to the US, I began to stop budging myself. I decided that if he wanted a life with me, he would have to work with me instead of me just giving in constantly. I really dug in my heels. We began to fight a lot more.
Right before a holiday celebration we had a doozy of a fight about his unwavering position, and how that would absolutely not be possible with what I wanted to do, and couldn’t he just move an inch to help me out. He didn’t. I gave him an ultimatum: he had to either change and compromise with me, or he would lose me. I gave him three weeks.
He did not change. We broke up.
For a while after breaking up we maintained a friendship. He saw other people. I saw other people. We remained on good terms and even went camping together. (Separate tents and all, no worries.)
Twice after we broke up, he asked me back. He said he had changed. He said he wanted a life with me. Twice I believed him. Twice he shattered my heart.
I was wrong. He was still the same inflexible, inconsiderate person he had always been, and probably always will be.
Do me a favor, if you find yourself in my position, get out when you first notice these inhospitable traits. Get out before you waste four years or more of your life on a man who does not deserve you. Because whoever he might be, he is not worth re-directing your life when he would not do the same.

This is just my side of the story. I shouldn’t have to point out that I’m no saint. I have not-so-good qualities in my own personality. However, in my defence, I have managed to remain on friendly speaking terms with all of my other ex-boyfriends, which I figure is a pretty good character reference.

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I recently dove back into the dating world. And by diving in, I mean reactivating my OKCupid account. I messaged two guys, maybe three, but for the most part, I wasn’t interested enough to put in a lot of effort. I figured, if it works, it works. If not, oh well. No big loss. I got a handful of interesting messages, and if the guy actually put some effort in and read my profile, I usually responded.

However, there are so many guys (and I use so many loosely here, because I think I’ve only received 10 messages) who feel “hey, you’re cute, I’d love to take you out some time” is a valid introductory message. What self-respecting girl agrees to that? I feel the same way about guys in bars using lines. So, a guy has never used a line on me, but I see it in movies and on TV all the time. Lines always felt insincere to me. Sure, I could give guys some slack, and assume they use lines because it takes pressure off themselves, or some other nonsense, but I can’t. Because, honestly, isn’t being yourself easier?

I wish we lived in a time where conversation, or at least flirtation, was an art. Granted, I’d have to learn that art as well, but it’d be better than this! For demonstration purposes, I copied and pasted some the “best of the worst” messages I received in the past few weeks. I wish now that I hadn’t deleted so many, because there were some doozies.

(this is a followup to his first message which I deleted and never responded to) “Hey! =) So, I guess you probably feel uncomfortable e-mailing for my photo, so I put it online (I took out the url in case it’s a naked pic or a virus) I have more I can send if you’re interested. Maybe you’ll let me take you out sometime? :)” Who sends a stranger their email address? And what makes you think I want to go to your sketchy website? Maybe if it was Flickr…but still, why be on an Internet dating site if “you’re shy about putting yourself out there”? I suppose he could have a legitimate fear of rejection in a world based solely on looks (major scars, one eye etc) but I doubt it.

My next favorite comes from a guy who messaged me and I’m fairly certain I ignored. Either way, I got a message from him the other day asking “are you still there?” Yes, I am still here and I am glad I ignored you, because clearly you are needy and a bit possessive.

The last message I will share with you actually made me laugh out loud. Again, I deleted it, but it had something to do with me being a nice Christian girl, strong in her faith. Sure, I filled in the religion part of the profile (Catholic, but not too serious about it), but where does he get “strong in my faith” from that? Out of curiosity I looked at the questions we both answered. Where he put, “absolutely not” to things like abortion, gay marriage, teaching evolution and sex before marriage (and these being very important to him) I answered opposite (also as being very important to me).**

I know I’m not painting a very pretty picture of the online dating world, and honestly, it’s not my favorite. However, it is surprisingly similar to meeting guys at bars, also not my favorite. Personally, I prefer getting to know the guy through friends, work, clubs, whatever, but since I don’t have those options available to me, I’ll take what I can!

Besides, online dating can work. A woman I work with is in a long-term, serious relationship with a guy she met online. I also have a promising date tonight with a guy I technically met online. When I discovered that he runs with a group I already planned on joining, we used it as an opportunity to meet in person. Meeting like that, surrounded by lots of other people, in a totally non-threatning (non-date) place, was really nice. It really took the pressure off, and he couldn’t pull any shenanigans* and if I didn’t like him I could leave, no hurt feelings. Okay, feelings could get hurt, but it’s not like leaving in the middle of a coffee date.

I will keep all y’all posted on the date. But for now, I’ve got to get ready! I feel a bit like Bridget Jones

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* I met up with a guy in Boston that I met on OkCupid and half way through the date he reached over and started holding my hand. Awkward!

* In order for the OK Cupid algorithms and what not to work you have to answer so many questions–the more questions you answer, the better your possible matches. An example of a question is as follows:

“Is Love Overrated”

-Yes, absolutely

-Yes, a bit

-No, it’s fine

-No, it’s underrated

Answers I’ll Accept

-Yes, absolutely

-Yes, a bit

-No, it’s fine

-No, it’s underrated

This Question is:

-Irrelavent

-A little important

-Somewhat important

-Very important

-Mandatory

If you click all the bubbles in the “I’ll accept” portion, the website automatically categorizes it as irrelevant.

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Friends and Lovers

As you all know, from my Dixie Land post, I recently moved to the south, from the Midwest. While there are a few cultural differences (see the post), generally we’re all the same. “A person’s a person, no matter how small.” Yet, I’m still finding it difficult to make friends. Mostly because the majority of people I work with are from France, Belgium, Spain or some other Spanish-speaking country. I don’t fit into this group because a) I don’t speak French or Spanish and b) I’m from the United States and therefore not an outsider like they are and, finally, c) I started in January and all the other new teachers know each other already and everyone knows, bringing new friends into the group is hard. Especially when they don’t share a similar background.

To counteract my lack of friendship in the workplace (I’m also one of the only unmarried American staff members (can’t break into the international or local cliques) and considerably younger than the other unmarrieds which makes it that much harder to connect) I started using Meetup.com. A place to meet people of similar interests, etc. I went to a board game meetup, because it’s held at the coffee shop with the best Beignets in town and because I like board games. Surprise, surprise, I was expecting “party games” (think Last Word, Balderdash, Apples to Apples, Trivial Pursuit etc) when in actuality, most group members play strategy games like Settlers of Catan (and this is the only one I was familiar with and therefore remember). Luckily, all was not lost. There was a new-to-town couple there as well, and the wife and I bonded over our newness.

Saturday night we met up for a drink near my apartment. I was so nervous going into our dinner engagement, I felt like I was going on a date! And honestly, I’ve never had a “date” go so well. Maybe I should become a lesbian (I’m sorry, I realize that was probably very offensive). I’m sure this sounds very weird. We all know what it’s like to meet guys and to have to put yourself out there, and make yourself vulnerable, but you’ve always had your girlfriends to fall back on. Imagine trying to find that support system and making yourself vulnerable, with no one to fall back upon. That is what I am going through now. Sure I have my girls (Cornflower and Sapphire included) but they don’t know exactly what I’m dealing with, nor the people I’m talking about, so it’s not the same.

On a different, but related note, I’ve recently reactivated my OK Cupid account. I figure, I’m putting myself out there to meet platonic friends via the Internet, why not romantic friends? It’s not like I can go out to the bars with my friends or meet my friend’s friends. Yet, every guy I find physically attractive is a “60% or less match.” I know I shouldn’t but I take their little algorithms seriously, but I don’t understand why the cute ones have some sort of fatal character flaw (homophobia, over sexualization*, too religious etc). Sometimes I message them anyway (if they’re cute enough) whereas I get messages from perfectly normal men and ignore them because their pictures just don’t do it for me. This is the problem with meeting people virtually. In person, their personalities can make up for lack of physical attributes, but I’m sorry, that doesn’t happen over the Internet.

So, basically, I’m a at a standstill. Either the cuties that I emailed need to email me back (since heaven knows I’m not going to put myself out there more than once!) or I need to meet guys and girls (friends of all kinds) through work and maybe my new game friend.

* Seriously, the questions they ask… I understand the reasoning behind some of them. If you’re waiting until marriage but the guy who just messaged you thinks 3 dates=sex, well you might have a problem. But so many of the questions are sexual in nature. I just don’t get it. Aren’t these the kind of things you’re suppose to slowly learn? I have learned, however, that OK Cupid users are very concerned about sex (many of the questions are user generated). Also, a shockingly large percentage of the male users only brush their teeth once a day. I have no idea who came up with that question, but I like it.

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It’s the season of holiday parties—family parties, friend’s parties, co-worker’s parties, parties thrown by your significant other’s friends—no matter what kind of party, there is usually that awkward moment when you realize, “I don’t know anyone here.” This, my friends, is how I spent my Saturday night.

To say, “I don’t know anyone here” is actually an exaggeration. One of my good friends threw the party and two of my other friends came as well. Technically I knew other partygoers (I went to high school with my friend’s roommate) but I didn’t know them well. Despite only “knowing” the hostess I stuck around and followed the party to the bars (her building is full of old people and party poopers, i.e. noise violations) after my other two friends left.

Now, if you’d like to know how to totally freak a guy out, I can tell you, because that is what I proceeded to do, once we reached the bars. Without my friends to converse with, and not wanting to monopolize my hostess, I sought out a fellow guest that I recognized and was comfortable. Luckily for me, there was such a guest and I latched on to him. I have this tendency, which I’ve probably

Two Broke Girls

written about previously, to find one or two people at parties or large gatherings and stick with them. This has led to friends and acquaintances thinking we’re a couple (if my party partner is a boy) or that I have feelings for him (again if it’s a boy, apparently people don’t notice when it’s a girl). If I’m super comfortable with the crowd, then I don’t need that kind of party support, but as you can tell, this holiday party was not one of those occasions. In addition to an overload of strangers, the bar was filled with people dressed up as sexy elves, sexy lumps of coal, Santa Clauses, sexy Mrs. Clauses, and for some strange reason, a plethora of pimp style elves and Santas. I don’t know if there was a themed party that we crashed (super weird theme though) or if the weekend before Christmas is accepted as a second Halloween. Whatever the reason, my nervous habits were exacerbated and I clung even more to my party friend.

At one point I remember saying things, just to say something, so we weren’t standing there, silently awkward. I’m not sure my ramblings helped the situation though. Once we changed bars, he ran into some of his actual friends and I joined my hostess friend on the dance floor. When my new party friend and his friends joined us, I kept trying to tell him we had a coat pile, and he should add his, but whenever I tried to talk, or tell him that, he’d ignore me. Well not exactly ignore, he wasn’t that rude, but I could tell he didn’t want to enter into another inane conversation with me. I have to say, I can’t blame him! And that is how you freak out a boy—cling.

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