It Takes Two To Make A Thing Go Right

I was about half in love with her by the time we sat down. That’s the thing about girls. Every time they do something pretty… you fall half in love with them, and then you never know where the hell you are.
J. D. Salinger

If you live to be a hundred, I want to live to be a hundred minus one day so I never have to live without you.
A. A. Milne

Valentine’s Day is right around the corner, and you may be surprised to discover that it is one of my favorite holidays. Not because I like receiving flowers and chocolates, but I like the buzz that it generates. Ever since grade school, when we passed out our hand-made cards to our crushes, I have always gotten excited at the prospect of grandiose gestures on a particular day of the year. This day is the day where you gather all your courage to tell that special someone how you really feel.
The first recorded association of Valentine’s Day with romantic love is in Parlement of Foules by Chaucer. The poem translates to:
“ For this was Saint Valentine’s Day,
   when every bird cometh there to choose his mate.”

Chaucer wrote the poem to honor  the first anniversary of the engagement of King Richard II of England to Anne of Bohemia, which took place on May 2, 1381. Readers assumed that Chaucer meant February 14th when he referenced Saint Valentine’s Day, though mid-February was unusual time for birds to mate in England.
I hear many people say that they don’t need a holiday to show their significant other how much they care. To that I say this: of course you do! Take it from someone who has always been in long-term relationships; it doesn’t matter how well the car drives, everyone needs a tune-up now and then.
Creativity is crucial, especially when you are dealing with someone who thinks that flowers are pretty but a waste of money( every plant that enters my home dies). The woman in your life will appreciate the thought you put into the details, more then the cost. One of my favorite V-day gifts was a big box filled with bags of Jelly Bellys(my favorite candy), movies that I had wanted for a long time, and some other amazingly thoughtful gifts. Maybe write her a love letter, or order a personalized candle, and select a scent that reflects her personality. Speaking of scents, there are places now that allow you to custom-make your own perfume, which is a nice way of showing a woman what smells remind you of her.
Ladies, it goes both ways. Men deserve creativity as well. If you go by the top ten list on askmen.com, it would suggest that all men are simple creatures, and just want simple things. I can tell you that if I bought my husband any of the things on that list, he would certainly not rate them as highly as the writer of the article did. Some of  the old stand-byes are good: making him dinner, buying his favorite DVDs, or purchasing that latest tech device he has eye on. But consider putting a twist on these things, like giving him a coupon for a week of  “picking what’s for dinner”, or a coupon for “ Sunday Funday”.
The bottom line is this: show the one you love just how much you do this Valentine’s Day, because moments are fleeting, so make the most of the present.

We loved with a love that was more than love.
Edgar Allan Poe

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So No One Told Me About Her….

Her body has gone to her head.
– – – Barbara Stanwyck (about Marilyn Monroe)

 

Elizabeth Taylor’s so fat, she puts mayonnaise on aspirin.
– – – Joan Rivers

 

She’s like an apple turnover that got crushed in a grocery bag on a hot day.
– – – Camille Paglia (about Drew Barrymore)

 

When we were in high school, as girls at the height of hormonal fluctuation, there was a litany of problems to endure. Every day we faced a new dilemma: was this outfit ridiculous, will this guy stay interested, will that little argument with so and so ostracize you from the entire group? It was a delicate balance, trying to seem as if you didn’t care about such things, while constantly stressing about every little detail all day long.

With your close friends, it was a game of tug of war. One day you think everything is fine and well; the two of you telling each other your deepest, darkest secrets, the next day your friend suddenly loathes you. And she refuses to give you an explanation, other then “ you know what you did”. After asking around, you find that something you said half-heartedly as a joke, to another friend you thought you could trust had been twisted and amplified through the rumor mill and now your friend thinks you are gossiping about her. The only hope we could cling to was that when we got older and more mature, all of the foolishness and drama would stop.

But it doesn’t, it only gets worse..

If you are like me and have the pleasure of working in an industry that is predominately female, you know the joys of dealing with drama and high levels of emotionally-charged individuals. Now, I am an honest person, and I tend to be sarcastic, some may a little too much. When I worked in an office with all men, this was never a problem. I feel like I’m back where I was ten years ago, stepping on egg shells with every comment, joke, or look.

I don’t mean to lump all ladies into one group, but there is truth to the fact that when we are all together in one setting, trouble brews. Just look at all of the success of The Real Housewives franchise;

groups of different women in different states, their every day lives being documented. But it’s not their every day lives that America cares about, it’s the table-flipping, hair-pulling, drink-throwing in the face type of fighting that goes on between these women. In one reunion of the Real Housewives of New York , Kelly Bensimon accused the other cast members of “systematic bullying”, saying, “ I just don’t like gossip”. To which Countess LuAnn ( a cast member), retorted, “ That’s probably why you don’t have that many girlfriends.”

Bravo’s senior vice president of programming has a unique perspective on why the franchise is so successful. He thinks being in the persistent spotlight in front of the cameras brings out the id- the unconscious desires that the women would normally suppress in public. “I think the deeper we go every season with our wives, the more comfortable they are in front of a camera, the more heightened their relationships get,” he says. “I think this season didn’t necessarily bring out the best in everybody and I think it did become kind of like high school.”

Rosalind Wiseman, author of Queen Bees and Wannabees, is an expert on teen and young-adult behavior. Her book was also the basis of the movie Mean Girls, one of the greatest movies out there, because everyone can relate to it.

“In our culture,” she says, “we get rewarded for mean-girl behavior, so we see adults behaving in ways that we typically assign to teens … Getting attention is the most important thing.”

According to Wiseman, the part of your brain that can recognize future consequences and choose between good and bad behavior fully develops at the age of 25. As a teacher, she saw some girls reach this maturity by the age of 15 or 16. ” On the other hand, we see lots of women in their 30s, 40s, and beyond acting more foolishly than their daughters. “It’s not fair to say they are acting like a teenager,” says Wiseman, “because some teenagers are very mature.”

So what does it all boil down to, ladies?

Well, to be honest, I’m not really sure. This was just one that I felt compelled to write based on recent events. But maybe we can all just try to be a little more sensitive to one another, try not to take things so personally, and scale back on the gossip. I know, we all say we don’t do it, but when work gets boring and someone starts telling a tale about you-know-who, no one is blameless in listening in.

Love comes when manipulation stops; when you think more about the other person than about his or her reactions to you. When you dare to reveal yourself fully. When you dare to be vulnerable.”

 Dr. Joyce Brothers

 

When I was 17…

When I was 17…

In case no one has noticed, I have a running theme where I title my blogs after a song title. I did this time as well, but it is an old song, and most people will probably miss the reference. It has become increasingly difficult in my old age to ignore how much the world has changed since I was in high school (which was not that long ago,for the record ). In light of my upcoming ten year reunion that has subsequently been canceled, I have decided to take a look at how far we have advanced in a decade.

Phones

In 2000, Sprint was the first cell company to offer wireless data service, with the other providers quickly following suit. This was a huge deal, it meant that we could access the internet on our phones! Of course, back then, that meant waiting five minutes for your phone to load a page that barely resembled a website. Oh, and let’s not forget the enormous charge that your provider charged you for trying out your new data services. Not to mention the unspeakable charges for texting. That is, if your phone was capable of texting. I was one of those people who had a beeper at an early age, and was eager to jump on the texting train as soon as it became available, so I got the new phone and texted everyone I knew. I wasn’t met with a warm reaction, however, because most of my friends were being charged a million dollars a text message and their parents wanted me out of their lives.

When my friends finally did join the texting world, we found that it wasn’t always a time-saving venture. Sometimes it would take up to twenty minutes to create and send one text, since there was no auto-correct or keypads, not mention the amount of times you would have to re-send before it would actually go through. After that, you would wait quite some time for a response; and if it was a close friend whom you usually heard back with haste, you ended up calling them anyway only to find out that they never received the text.

Now, we don’t even think twice about texting, and whether or not someone has it in their cell plan. If someone says they aren’t able to text, we instinctively look at them as if they have two heads. No one wants to make phone calls anymore. Most people don’t even know their own mother/brother/husband’s phone number because it is programed into their phones. Why waste your time talking into the phone when you can text and browse the internet at the same time? Or you can listen to your Ipod and have a meaningful conversation without ever having to move your lips. If your fingers are tired, or you are concerned about carpel tunnel (aren’t we all), some new smart phones have the option for you to just speak into your phone what you want to text. So you can yell at your mother while driving to the store to pick up your new Ipad without breaking any laws. It’s all about multi-tasking people.

Books

At the risk of sounding like a literary snob here, I really love books. I love the smell of them, the feeling of a crisp new book in my hands, or even an old one that has been aged over the years. There was a time when you had to go into the library and walk through the aisles to find what you were looking for. Or if you wanted to purchase said book you went to Barnes and Noble or online to Amazon . The exciting part of book purchasing was looking at the interesting cover art, the thickness of the book, and reading the synopsis on the back to determine if it was worth buying. And if you are like me, you would read a couple of pages in the middle of the book to see if you like the writing style.

Today, books are about to be a thing of the past. With the Nooks, Bundles, Ipads, whatever other electronic device you have to download it onto, people are opting to buy books for much cheaper price then actual printed copy. Why buy a classic like The Great Gatsby for six dollars when you can buy it for two dollars and read it on your Ipad while waiting for your oil to get changed? Who needs the inconvenience of turning pages and carrying around a heavy book? Bookcases take up too much room anyway. Besides, there will be a movie re-make of it coming out soon, so if you don’t read it in time you don’t have to worry.

TV

There were a lot of great things that came out of the 90’s, and some of the greatest television programs are amongst them. The difference between ten years ago and today is that TV executives were a lot more strict about what was acceptable for the general viewing audience. That, and laugh tracks were a lot more noticeable back then. There used to be a thing used in programs that is referred to as innuendo. Maybe you have heard of it? Ten years ago, prime-time TV had to use innuendos when referring to sex, drugs, or anything overtly homophobic. Shows that were aimed at teenagers always had some underlying PSA, complete with your standard stereotypes. When the “good girl” suddenly went bad, she automatically donned a nose ring and started smoking Smoking cigarettes was always the sign of someone who was either poor, from the wrong side of the tracks, or had been possessed by another person’s spirit (Buffy the Vampire Slayer). Whenever anyone had sex on these shows, they never came right out and said it, they used innuendos. If someone had a drug problem, it usually never surpassed smoking “grass”, and other cast mates admonished it quickly.

Today you have the likes of Gossip Girl, a show that started with a girl who escaped school after a scandal where a GROWN man died while snorting coke with her. She almost slept with him before the overdose, and she only went to his hotel to escape the guilt of having just slept with her best friend’s boyfriend. Mind you, this was her FRESHMAN YEAR. The rest of the cast openly drinks at upscale bars in New York without ever being carded, does a multitude of drugs, sleeps with endless people(married adults included), and black-mails members of high society. This is all before they graduated high school. You also have shows like 16 and Pregnant, a reality show on MTV, which was supposed to have been set up to warn teens against teen pregnancy. Yes, I have seen the show. I have also read the stories about the groups of teen girls who have gotten pregnant in an effort to make it onto the show. This show not only glamorize the life of a teen mom, but it makes me feel like my brain cells are leaking out of my ears. With all of the reality programs out there, kids know about things that I wasn’t aware of until well into high school, because these shows are on before their bed-time. Let’s not even get into what damage these shows are doing to this generation’s language skills. Jersey Shore, anybody?

On the plus side, we have some great programs with some really intelligent writing. Now that we are allowed to push the envelope more, we as an audience get the benefit. Curb Your Enthusiasm, Parks and Recreation, and Modern Family are some of the best show I have seen in a long time.

There is so much more to say on this topic (,of television especially) but I will save it for another time. I have to get back to checking my multiple social networks and see if anyone has messaged me.

Come as you Are….

  While working on my second novel, I have been doing some research on the topic of emotional baggage. This proved to be more of an undertaking then I originally foresaw, because it involved requiring myself to become emotionally invested. Google renders some strange results for emotional baggage; from an article about E-bay auctioning artifacts from people’s personal trauma, to a blog advising how to purge your emotional baggage in order to be a better submissive( which I actually read out of curiosity).  After spending countless hours reading articles, blogs, and other informative pieces, I have come to these conclusions so far:

Some People are Delusional– As I searched endless dating forums I found that a common theme is men complaining about women over a certain age and the amount of emotionally charged luggage they carry. It seems that the general consensus is that a lot of women have a difficult time introducing their emotional issues organically, but rather dump them onto their date’s lap during the first date. If this seems to be your problem, I found one  article that may help, as it warns that nothing scares a man more than making him aware of your emotional baggage. Instead this author gives helpful hints on how to disguise your troubled past, and to learn how to view your negative past in a positive way, putting a whole new layer of crazy into the world of dating. It goes both ways, after the age of twenty-five it is almost impossible to meet someone who doesn’t have some skeletons in their closet. How many times have I heard a friend say ” I like this guy, but he’s too available”, or “he never has any free time, but I think we have something special” ? Every one us brings something into a relationship that we wish would vanish, but that isn’t realistic. If the person is worth the effort, you will both unpack the metaphorical luggage together and work things out.

  Baggage can help you become a genius– The baggage that you’ve carried  from earlier on in life may have shaped you into the creative genius you are now. Einstein may have discovered the theory of relativity, but he had no idea how to handle his own relations. He never had time for his first wife or his two sons, insisting “When one thinks seriously day and night one can’t engage easily in loving chatter.” After the first marriage failed, he moved on to his cousin, treating her as more of a nurse then a wife with a contract that would send most sane women over the edge. Even with his attempts at monogamy, Einstein failed miserably, with extramarital affairs that were well-documented by him. That’s right, not only did he cheat on his wife many times, but he informed his step-daughter and wife when it happened. Things became strained with his eldest son, Hans, when Albert objected to his marriage to an older and (in Albert’s opinion) unattractive woman. He warned his son not have children with the woman, and Hans was not very appreciative. Einstein left a lot of broken hearts and some neglected children in his trail, but he made no secret that his first love was physics, that was his priority. Everything else just got in the way.

  Kurt Cobain changed the face rock music with Nirvana, in a time desperate for an infusion of raw talent. Cobain brought angst to the fore-front, and became a spokesperson for Generation X, much against his own wishes. Even with the success of his band and the birth of his baby, Cobain battled with depression, a lot of it stemming from his fear that the public misunderstood his music. Drug addiction and marriage complications kept the press hot on his heels, and his mental state weakened.

 Another music icon worth mentioning, who like Cobain, is in the 27 club, is Janis Joplin. Best known for being the greatest female rock singer of the 60’s, Joplin has been a huge influence on female musicians to this day. In high school, she was relentlessly teased for being a misfit, her skin, weight, and choice of friends. She relished being an outsider, and it worked for her as musician, people often remembering her outfits as much as her performances. Still she held on to past scars, saying in an interview ” they laughed me out of class, out of town, and out of state.” Despite many ultimatums by friends and producers, Janis failed to quit her heroin addiction, resulting in an accidental over-dose at the age of twenty-seven. While it is tragic that either artist died so young; one has to question where the music industry would be without the addition of these two? Without the darkness that they struggled with, would we have such soulful, life-changing music?

   Childhood Baggage is the hardest to let go of– Some people make great careers from their dysfunctional childhoods, and two authors have found great success airing their dirty laundry. David Sedaris and Augusten Burroughs have been compared due to their similar writing style, raw and uncensored, and the dark humor they maintain while recounting humiliating stories from the past. Burroughs is recognized more for his novel ” Running with Scissors”, which was turned into a film in 2003, a story of his profoundly insane circumstances as a child written with such ease the reader questions the validity while at the same time finding Burroughs’ twisted humor engaging. But it’s the more recent ” Wolf at the Table”, where you see how the scars haven’t really healed, as Augusten recounts his lack of relationship with his father in such a harrowing way one can empathize with his need to escape emotional torment by any means necessary.   Sedaris litters his stories with amusing anecdotes and over-dramatization, as a buffer for underlying turmoil in his stories. He has such a talent for humiliating himself while at the same time inflating his own ego, that it is difficult to imagine him really experiencing any shame while recounting his colorful past. Even when he recounts how awful his mother and siblings have been to him at any given moment, there remains an obvious love for the people in his life. Sedaris seems to understand that if his family hadn’t been so crazy, he might not have so much material to write about.

  In the GQ article ” Schemes of My Father”, author Eric Puchner says: ” We live in the age of forgiveness, of doing our best to move on. Too often these gestures have only to do with creating a nice tidy narrative, one we can wrap up and hide away somewhere and promise ourselves will never happen again.”

 Sometimes it isn’t about forgiveness or forgetting, it is about moving on. Perhaps the best lesson is to embrace our baggage, in a healthy way, however that may be accomplished. How boring would life be otherwise?

And I’ll be dancing with myself

 

And I’ll be dancing with myself…

As I sit downtown Lake Worth(my new residence), I marvel at the action around me. People-watching has become my new favorite hobby. Not in a creepy One Hour Photo way, I only occasionally take breaks from my writing to observe. While I type on my lap-top I watch complete strangers ask each other if they can join each others chess games, politely interject their opinions into other people’s conversations, or offer unsolicited dog breeding advice. All of this baffles me, as I feel slightly embarrassed for these people and their apparent lack of social boundaries. I have a problem asking someone if I can take the spare seat next to them at Starbucks, fearing that I am invading their personal space. Even when a nice stranger tries to strike up a conversation, I nervously falter, forgetting any social graces I once had. My mother told me that when I was a wee tike I had no problem approaching complete strangers and striking up conversations. Have I really become so bitter in my old age that I see something wrong with this behavior?

Now that I am living in a new state,I am especially questioning this anti-social attitude, as it is far more difficult to make new friends. There is no longer the assurance of having gone to school with people, or knowing people that you used to work with, it is time to start from scratch. My co-worker suggested that I go on this social networking site, one for meeting friends in group date scenarios. This sounds great for people who like to go canoeing with strangers, but I’m not ready for that yet. One friend that I have here actually approaches people that she finds herself possibly having a connection with, offering the suggestion that maybe they could hang out sometime. While I applaud her courage, I find this task extremely difficult, because every time I find a potential “ friend mate”,I worry about a lot of things. What if the person is a lot younger then I assume, like in high school, and I end up on the evening news? I am a terrible judge of age. I have come to realize the three main reasons that I can’t seem to socialize naturally anymore.

Technology

Yes, I know it seems a little lame to blame technology, but it is also inevitable. I now find it almost impossible to understand someone when they tell me that they don’t text. What century do they live in? If my eighty year-old grandmother has an IPhone, there should be no excuse for you not knowing how to text. Actual phone conversations are reserved for emergencies or once a year heart to hearts. Even when I am on Skype, I try to avoid the face to face, preferring to type my conversation. If I can have a conversation with my aunt while also updating a photo album on Facebook, then I feel accomplished with my multitasking. This type of disconnection replaces the intimacy of speaking in person. These days it is difficult to sit next to someone you are supposed to be spending quality time with, without feeling the need to play with your phone or distract yourself in some other way. As a society we are so accustomed to being busy, always moving, that we can’t seem to find the time to slow down and pay attention to what or who is right in front of us.

Children

My lack of children is apparently holding me back. People with children seem to migrate toward one another, knowing exactly what to discuss at exactly the right moment. These same people probably would have never hung out in high school, but because their children get along, they are now best friends. When I listen to young mothers describe daily activities with their children, I get exhausted and feel pity, especially when I see them doze off in the middle of a hair cut. Some mothers,however,seem to have an endless supply of energy when it comes to caring for their children. These special mothers always describe everything as “we”; “ We just started teething, We are taking swimming lessons now, We are finally potty-trained.” You have to wonder what these women did before the kid showed up. Now I think that there are plenty of good reasons to have children- you need members for your garage band, you want to create the next Hannah Montana, or you need cheap labor for your new clothing line. Trying to create more friends to play with is not a suitable reason for me, even if it means having an excuse to go to Disney Land frequently.

Choice of Pets

Thousands of years ago, cats were worshiped as gods. Cats have never forgotten this.”

This could not be more true. People parade different breeds of dogs up Lake Avenue, only to be stopped by whomever and asked a litany of questions about the fluffy creature. Cats do not appreciate being led on a leash in any capacity, believe me. I once tried this with my beloved cat in high school and wound up entangled in a thorny rose bush while he scampered away, laughing at me. I have always been a cat person, though I find certain dogs adorable. Cats don’t need you, they make you work for it, and I always have. Dogs make the perfect wing-man, because they don’t mind being used to boost your social life, so long as you shower them with attention. Any type of man can count on a pretty girl approaching him if he has what resembles a small cotton ball attached to a leash.

I have two sugar gliders. Most people do not even know what they are when I mention them. While they serve as a decent conversation piece, they do not bode well as social connections. Contrary to certain websites, our gliders will not just sit on our shoulders or hop into our pockets when beckoned. Once there was an incident and one of my furry babies escaped from the cage. It took six hours of cajoling and master-minding to get him back into the cage. Not to mention the fact that sugar gliders are marsupials, and therefore nocturnal, making it difficult to put them on display whenever anyone wants to see them. If we could just drug, I mean train them to do the tricks that those guys at the mall are able to pull off, then I’m sure I could lure people to become my friend with my glider magic.