Tag Archives: friendship

“I don’t think you think deep thoughts.”

watch-yourself“I don’t think you think deep thoughts.”

I remember I was chopping something. I remember freezing as the words washed over me.

Why weren’t the next words out of my mouth “get the fuck out of my house”? Or a simple and elegant “no”?

I looked down, went back to chopping. Clean slice after clean slice. There’s a comfort in moving, especially when your mind has whirled to a stop.

I offered no stunning retort, no rebuke, no wrath. Nothing that was merited. How embarrassing. I am embarrassed at myself in retrospect.

I, I who love words so much, was speechless. Who says that to someone? Someone with whom they’re supposedly friends?

mansplainingI chopped and chopped said that I was currently thinking about the various waves of feminism and wondering about intersectional feminism’s relationship to the third wave. He was confused by the word “intersectional.” I explained. I listened to some bullshit about feminism and inequality which revolved around inequality being bad and very little being said of substance. I listened to him talk, because he wanted to talk, not because he had anything to say worth hearing in that moment. A bit of the underinformed man-splaining to which all women are routinely subjected as a price for existing.

Chop. Chop. Chop.

I remember my heart falling. This was never going to be a real friendship. I was both adored and belittled. At the root of both lies comparison, comparisons that say you are both greater and lesser than other people. It is having expectations thrust upon you, expectations for which you never asked.

gina-dont-keep-talkingIt is tiring being a woman. You talk too much, too little, think too much, too little. There is no just right. “Just right” is the great lie told in children’s stories. Goldilocks is a fairy tale not because of anthropomorphic bears, but because of the idea that a woman could choose something that would be just right. Women can’t get something just right. I’m surprised a man didn’t appear in the cottage and go “NO! You’re sitting in that chair improperly. How can you judge its merits with your feminine ass?”

I police my words as if they might run away. Sentences could turn against me.

I stopped writing. What if the words were wrong? What if the thoughts were wrong? Was Tinder Buttons just a sea of shallow thoughts into which I pull other people?

im-backWell fuck that. My thoughts of varying depths and I are back. And you’re cordially invited to wade in with me.


That Time I Said I Love You

I love you“I love you.”

The last time I had said I love you to someone romantically was years and years ago.

It felt strange as I murmured the words. It was a statement wholly unexpected on both of our parts. The surprise was unflattering.

He wasn’t necessary to my happiness.

But I liked having him around.

It’d been a short, whirlwind course of dating, marked by too many hours gazing into each other’s eyes and conversations about our dreams and our plans, our feelings about Romeo and Juliet and tireswings.

I wasn’t madly in love. But his existence made the world better, made my days a little sweeter, and for that I loved him. It was a simple fact, not a confession. It was never a secret, even from me, because the moment I said it was when I knew it.

I loved him for being unabashedly himself. For his passions, for his joy. For his willingness to be ridiculous for the sake of fun. For his ambition, for his compassion. For being a person who makes your life and the lives of those he meets a little more beautiful.

sentenceI was still embarrassed when the words slipped from my lips though. It’s nice to get to know something on your own for a while, to have time to turn something over in your mind. To let it be yours for a little while.
I blinked, things changed. He was headed out of town for the summer, I’m moving to a different continent in August. I was ok with goodbye hurting if it meant we had a wonderful time. I found myself wanting to suck every last drop, to get every last bit of fun and joy from our time together. He wasn’t, needing more closure and space than I, a sort of winding down period, which I respect, but certainly did not want or enjoy.

We spent our last day together with a game of him keeping me at arm’s length.  Thanks to the wonders of disc golf, I mean that quite literally. Those discs are sharp.

OH.These days, texts go unreturned or with a short reply. I had successfully moved into the being friends territory, but friendship doesn’t look like this. Friendship is genuine joy and caring. There are people I only talk to periodically, but there is such a warmth and a generosity of spirit when we do talk that it is clear that the friendship has not languished in the silence. Instead, the silence has simply been a chance for us to have adventures and thoughts and feelings of which we can speak together.

Here, I feel as something has crumbled. The distance resounds as if perhaps we’re afraid of each other, because real interaction might run the risk of resparking what had been, reminding us of the shining possibility that for a while there, we both so clearly saw. Or we might run the risk of hurting each other. Or a million other things that could go wrong.

And you know what?

It feels oddly satisfying to look at a pile of crumbles. To know that while it’s not what you wanted at the time, it doesn’t really hurt you, or your plans, or your dreams. To kick the dirt and watch it fly. To know that for all your inadvertent slips of the tongue, you never said anything you didn’t mean.

I loved you, I loved you, I loved you.

And how sweet those words will always be.

Sugar and Solidarity (Virgin Mary Days and Abortion Candy Nights)

Sometime in our senior year of college, my suitemates and I found ourselves talking about abortion. We came to two important conclusions:

  1. candy for dinnerIf any of us ever had an abortion, the others would buy her vast quantities of the candy of her choice (hereby known as “abortion candy”).
  2. You got to watch Here Comes Honey Boo Boo for the rest of the day.

Strange as this may sound, I took great comfort in this. I still do. For all the sugar and TLC absurdity, we broached a topic easy to talk about in abstract from a political vantage point but rendered taboo in every day conversation.

As we debated the merits of Reeses pieces, gummy worms, and snickers, surrounded by our leopard print shrine to Abraham Lincoln and a life-size cutout of Justin Bieber which we decorated with bras far too large for his cup size, I internally sighed with relief.

This conversation meant that whatever choice you made, you could count on your friends to be there with and for you. It meant that we could talk through our options. It meant we would never be alone.

Jesus is coming backSeveral of us had had that heart-stopping moment of realizing our period was late. We found ourselves calculating the date of our last sexcapade, becoming more stressed by the minute (and making ourselves more late in turn). For me when I haven’t had a gentleman caller of late, this turns what I call the Virgin Mary Panic. “Oh my God, I can’t be pregnant…can I? I mean, it happened to the Virgin Mary! Maybe it is about time Jesus came back. I wonder if Jesus would be a cute baby. Probably not.” I always found solace in the fact that goodness knows God wouldn’t pick me and in the span of a few seconds reverted back to the sane and reasonable “oh, I must just be really stressed.”

But even when it wasn’t Virgin Mary panic and in fact real panic, our brains clawing back to possible failures of our birth control methods of choice, there was a sense of being not alone as we sent good blood-tastic thoughts to whoever was late. And we’ve been lucky. So far, it’s only been stress and hormones toying with our bodies. But should the day come otherwise, we’ll be there for each other.

Jennifer Lawrence candyThe Abortion Candy conversation reminded us that should our birth control somehow fail, should we not be as vigilant as usual one night, should we find ourselves pregnant, our friends would be there as we figured out our course of action, no matter what that entailed for us. We had a choice, and in turn our friends had chosen in advance to honor and support our choice. Be there a baby or an abortion, we could talk to each other. We could be scared and overwhelmed together. We could be confused, relieved, happy, sad, or all of the above.

And we could eat candy together.

After all, there is a great strength in sugar and solidarity.

You beautiful tropical fish (of compliments and broken egos)

compliments-tropical fishI love Leslie Knope of Parks and Rec’s unabashed use of compliments to celebrate the people in her life. While her metaphors may seem absurd, they speak of the intensity of her love for her colleagues and friends. She values them, and they’ve come to accept that, bizarre as Leslie’s esteem may be, it comes from a profoundly genuine place.

So when I had the opportunity to spend some time with one of my favorite Tinder fellows this week, I found myself surprised as I reconsidered my own relationship to compliments.

This gentleman does wonderful things for the world, for his community. He stumbled into an opportunity to help others and has seized it, serving on a board advocating for those who need a champion and a role model. He worked hard to get a job at a place he dreamed of working. He mocks people on HGTV like a champ.

Oh, and word around the block is he can make chocolate chip cookie dough spring rolls.

I think he’s pretty amazing. He jokingly attempted to refute me. I wasn’t having it.

Then I realized I was being a giant hypocrite. So often when people pay me a compliment I try to brush it off. I try to play it as humility, as if modesty were some magic circle that made being complimented acceptable.

compliments-regina georgeHowever, that’s operating on the assumption that accepting a compliment is somehow to be vain. I’ve spent my life treating embracing compliments as a shortcoming. I want to appreciate people. I love telling people why they inspire me, why they bring me hope, joy, and inspiration. Why would I not give them the joy of appreciating me if they should want to do so? Why hide behind the guise of modesty?

The answer immediately rang in my head, and I’m ashamed to admit it’s because I don’t think I deserve it.

I’ve spent the past year feeling like a giant loser. Hell, right now I’m applying to jobs like crazy and can’t manage to get an interview. I’ve taken to paying for groceries in change (sorry not sorry, people in the self-checkout line at Kroger). I couldn’t even afford my own car insurance (generous grandmother to the rescue!), can’t afford to get my eyes checked, and haven’t had a haircut in over a year. Between stress eating and OCD meds I’ve gained a stunning number of pounds, reducing my wardrobe to mostly jeans, leggings, and t-shirts.

My ego has been shot to pieces.

I didn’t realize how vain I was until I found myself hitting what has felt like rock bottom. Me, Miss Phi Beta Kappa, fancy liberal arts degree, talk your ear off, charming to a fault, somehow held down three jobs at a time during college—an incompetent mooching failure laid low by OCD and the job market.

And yet people still seem to like me. As all the things I thought I valued in myself have fallen away, academic success, employment, even my old appearance, people still like me. People still somehow have compliments for me. It’s absolutely blown my mind. I found myself attempting to dismiss kind words with a laugh, or sentences starting with “yeah, but…” Upon further thought, as someone who so values words, how unkind of me to dismiss someone else’s for the sake of my current lack of self-assuredness.

I’ve learned people value who I am so much more than what I achieve. They celebrate for me when I succeed and hurt for me when I struggle, but at the heart of that is a profound respect for who I am as a person, in spite of what I may or may not accomplish.

So often we forget that the measures of our own esteem are inherently flawed, twisted by years of assumptions and false comparisons. While we may think we fall short, in another’s eyes we may absolutely shine.

Even if in my heart of hearts I’m struggling to see myself in a positive light, I owe it to these people to believe them when they say kind things to me and to trust, even if I can’t quite see the good things myself, that compliments come from a genuine place based on their experiences with me.

compliments-do you trust meSo, you beautiful tropical fish, if I tell you you’re wonderful, trust me, and I’ll do you the courtesy of trusting you. Here’s hoping that the more we let ourselves be wonderful in each other’s eyes, the more we’ll learn to be wonderful in our own.

Boring guy, be gone! (and learn to appreciate historical lawn gnomes!)

Jack boredI’ve recently been getting fairly regular, remarkably dull texts from this guy I met way back in my first weeks of Tinder, who then dropped off the face of the earth and reappeared just as quickly. I quickly realized I preferred it when he had disappeared, because he’s extraordinarily boring and self-centered. His recent texts have been tedious, annoying, expecting me to pick up the conversation, and frequently implying that I should sext him. He says a lot of things like that he’s just sitting around his house being bored. Well, Mr. Trebek, I’ll take Things That Are Boring for 400.

Things to know before reading: when this event occurred, I was in D.C., headed up to Maine for a week and a half of hiking, kayaking, cooking, board game playing, reading, and sunset watching with two of my loveliest lady friends from college (I am so excited to sit by the lake and write!). And this guy teaches middle school history.

Alternatively, he could crochet a sculpture of gnomes in a garden, like this one from http://mochimochiland.com/2014/05/gnome-team-selfie/
Alternatively, he could crochet a sculpture of gnomes in a garden, like this magical one from Mochi Mochi Land

Guy: What’s up
Me: I’m in DC
Guy: Awesome
Me: How are you?
Guy: Just laying here all alone 😦
Me: That seems to be what you do a lot
Me: Maybe you should take up a fun hobby! Like gardening! Or crocheting! Or lawn bowling!
Guy: It’s summer. No more students to teach lol
Me: You could paint little lawn gnomes as historical figures.
Guy: That’s lame
Me: Um, false
Me: What’s lame is that you disappear for ages and then treat me like something to keep you occupied.

And then I blocked his number.

Leo <3
Leo ❤

Truth be told, I’m pretty pleased with myself for not tolerating being treated like a convenient entertainment source by someone who was only looking for cheap thrills.

The Curse and Blessing of Formal Friend-zoning

Tonight I got friend-zoned by a really great guy.

It’s not surprising. He all but disappeared after our second date, doing that weird not responding to texts thing and falling off the face of the earth beyond periodic “likings” of my Facebook statuses. I got invited to one of his gigs, where I was without warning introduced to his very young and very dull girlfriend (in fairness, even he has acknowledged to me that she was boring) with whom I made absolutely agonizingly tedious small talk. At that point, I’d actually written him off, to the point that my brother, in all his fourteen-year-old articulateness, told me “fuck that guy. Stop talking to him.” And then, lo and behold, he appeared again, having broken up with young boring girlfriend, and becoming the stuff of my musings on conversation. To say I was confused was an understatement.

But he was fascinating. Brilliant. Ridiculously good looking to the point I found myself at a loss for words (and as you might guess, that is an extremely rare issue for me). One of those people who ask incredible questions. Self-reflective. Insightful. Creative. The rare sort of person who inspires you.

And I knew. In my heart of hearts, I knew we were firmly planted in the friend-zone.

He’s told me I’m sweet three times in the way you’d say it about a puppy. That is a friend-zone “sweet” right there. That is an arm’s length, never mind that I kissed you on the top of your head because I’m never going to do it again, let’s just forget how nice it was to have my arm around you “sweet” right there.

Apparently my sense of masochism took over, and I just had to go and say something that I knew would lead to clarification.

I’ve gotten friend-zoned a lot in my life. I’ve been left in liminal places eternally without responses. I’ve had guys suddenly deny having told me multiple times they liked me, meaning they either lied or they were fickle. Those things hurt far, far more than this knowing does. There’s a great blessing in actually knowing where you stand with someone. It feels a lot better, even as much as it hurts.

I'm pretty sure I could rock this look from She's All That.
I’m pretty sure I could rock this look from She’s All That.

At the end of the day, I’m still the artsy girl in the glasses in a Freddy Prinze, Jr. movie who never got the makeover (not that I need a makeover. I happen to think I’m pretty awesome the way I am). I’m still going to lose out sometimes to boring women who have cute faces and giggle when you poke them, while I sit with my nose buried in the illustrated William Blake or a book about ideal museum label structure, or go play with a cat and chat with a slightly unhinged drug dealer in the corner of a concert. I am the girl in the strip club analyzing the subliminal messaging on the walls and chatting it up with the girls about how they take care of their feet after wearing those heels all day. I am the girl who unabashedly ran a porn club, who plays in the rain when she’s home by herself, and who drives a mini-van.

I’m more than just interesting or quirky. I’m capable, and I’m fun, and dammit I’m beautiful. Not pretty. Beautiful.

And I get it. I’m not going to fault someone for not feeling chemistry. I wouldn’t want someone to pretend to want me if he didn’t really. We want what we want. He gets to want what he wants. He’s entitled to that, and I can respect that. I’m grateful for his honesty and his forthrightness at long last. I’m pretty sure we have a long and lovely friendship ahead of us after I build a bridge and get over this.

But sometimes we just want to be wanted. And it is valid and just as important to let ourselves acknowledge and feel how much we want to be wanted. It hurts. But it will pass.

Because there are men out there who like us, who feel the chemistry, who find music in our laughter and joy in our eyes. These are the men who dream of us with flour smeared on our cheeks or curled up in library chairs, simply being ourselves. These are the men who text us before bed just to make sure we go to sleep with a smile on our lips, who respect when we say things are moving too fast, who just want to make us laugh-and then in that same breath-kiss us. We wait for these men.

Weird? Yes. Lovable? Definitely.
Weird? Yes. Lovable? Definitely.

I will always be the weirdo. I am a Gonzo, a total oddball, surrounded by a sea of chickens, perfectly contented to throw myself into whatever may fascinate me. I will always be who I am. Sometimes, that means I don’t get the guy.

But I’d rather be the friend-zoned weirdo without the guy than be anyone besides myself.

And for tonight, that’s a little bit lonely. I’ll still take it.