Sunday, August 30, 2009

Behind Enemy Lines

So, during my up-all-night session for F-Squared, we got to talking about movies. He and his main squeeze had just seen The Ugly Truth. I asked him what he thought, because that is what polite people do, and he said he thought it was okay, but there was another movie that he thought was a lot worse -- as far as giving away guy’s secrets.

Really, I thought. Which one?

He couldn’t remember the name, but Drew Barrymore was in it and the kid that is the Mac in all those commercials and Ben Affleck and Jennifer Aniston.

Oh, He’s Just Not That Into You?

That’s the one. He wanted to punch in the face the guy that wrote that movie. He gave away too much.


Yes, I read and critiqued the book. And no, I had no interest in seeing this movie. But, maybe I missed something. Maybe I underestimated what the authors were saying. Maybe the movie gave away something that wasn’t in the book.

I made a promise to myself that I would On Demand the movie at my earliest convenience. After all, as GI Joe once told me, “knowing is half the battle.”

As it turns out, the first night I was free to really sit down and take in this movie, was this past Friday.

I brought in reinforcements -- a chocolate, chocolate vegan cookie from Whole Foods (I know I am suppose to be boycotting them, but I really love their vegan cookies) and a bottle of red wine. Hey, if I am going to spend a Friday night alone, watching a romantic comedy, I am going to need back-up.

Thank goodness it was raining. It seems so much less pathetic on a rainy night.

Honestly, I didn’t hate the movie. Which is odd, because I rarely like romantic comedies. Maybe it was the wine -- it was a really good red I picked up when I was in Nags Head.

As for insider information -- not so much. Justin Long (my new Hollywood crush, I can totally see why Drew Barrymore loves him) provided most of it to Ginnifer Goodwin’s character Gigi, after she shows up at his bar looking for a guy that she had a really good date with, but never called her. Ginnifer is enthralled when he tells her that her date is never going to call her. They become fast friends and Ginnifer starts calling him whenever she finds herself unsure about a guy’s intentions.

Predictably, Ginnifer then develops a crush on Justin after over-thinking all the “obvious” signals he has been throwing her way. She throws herself at him, he rejects her, angry that she hasn’t been listening to anything he has said and she gives a great speech about preferring to look like a jackass again and again and still have hope of finding someone than be him -- cynical and alone.

The movie then contradicts the book, not just by having Justin Long’s character falls for Gigi. But also when Ben Affleck asks Jennifer Aniston to marry her after seven years of dating -- umm, okay, I get the first one, but the second? Cripes that is actually a chapter in the book -- He Is Just Not That Into You If He Doesn’t Want To Marry You. Though, I was happy it worked out for them. I am totally Team Aniston.

Ooh, maybe I should have started this post by saying I would be spoiling parts of this movie. Yikes. Oh well, I mean it is a romantic comedy, I am sure most of you could predict the ending.

So it seems the movie had to tone down the rhetoric to sell some tickets. And sure, it didn’t really teach me anything I didn’t know already. Still, it wasn’t a terrible way to spend a Friday night. Certainly better than the way I have spent the last few Friday nights.

Wait, is that pathetic?

Friday, August 28, 2009

Hugging Me Is Like Hugging a Porcupine And All The Other Reason Why He Never Called

Confession time again, kittens. I have been on 47,000 first dates and only about 6 second dates.

Which is why I was so intrigued by Rachel Greenwald’s book Why He Didn’t Call You Back. It was tough getting through the first couple of chapters of surveys and percentages and research methodologies. Still, I persevered, as much for you as for me.

The basic gist of Rachel’s book is that dating is a numbers game (I concur) and that the more you date the more you are likely to meet the one (I don’t believe there is just one, but I will agree that the more you date the more likely you are to meet a great guy out there in the land of duds). In our current dating environment, men have a lot of options (thank you online dating) and are of the mindset that someone more perfect is just a mouse click away. Because of this it is incumbent on us women that are looking for a mate to make the best possible first impression so as to make the first round of cuts. Then the ball will be in our court and we can turn down the duds and continue to see the ones with potential (obviously I am a fan of empowering women, so this part sounded good to me too).

But here is where it gets tricky. Because it starts to sound like Rachel is telling you to change who you are. She claims she isn’t and I believe her. She just wants the whole you to hide until he gets to know you better.

Yeah, see this is the part I had a problem with -- I think that is a very fine line to toe.

Rachel then goes on to list and describe the top 16 reasons why he didn’t call you back -- what she refers to as stereotypes your dates developed based on things you did during the date. The stereotypes range from the Boss Lady (the number one reason) to Bitch-in-Boots (number seven) to the Wino (number 15). The top 10 came with in-depth descriptions, real-life examples, a quiz to see if you were that type and possible ways to not be perceived as such.

About those quizzes, yeah, I fell into almost every stereotype. I wasn’t the Closer, as it turns out my dates probably never perceived me as baby hungry.

Reading the reasons and the real-life examples from men, I understand why she choose some that she did, but I think it did a poor job illustrating her point in that it made it easier to dismiss the guy as a jerk. For instance, under reason number 11 -- the Seinfeld, which encompassed strange little “ticks” the women displayed that turned their dates off. One guy had a problem with his date because she wouldn’t touch public handrails. That’s just the dumbest thing I ever heard. Umm, Buddy, do you have any idea how many people don’t wash their hands after using the bathroom? And there’s this little bug called the Swine Flu that is going around and it can be deadly. So maybe your date was just smarter than you.

I also have a question about how Rachel defines intimidation. A lot of women cited this as a possible reason they weren’t called back, but Rachel dismisses most of them. Again, though, reading through the examples, some men sure sounded intimidated to me -- even if they had another name for it like Park Avenue Princess.

Of course, this could be my cynical side talking which is why I tested positive as a possible Debbie Downer.

The top 16 were followed by the top five ways you could have screwed things up post date. Maybe it was because I could take this a whole lot less personally (though, I have totally made these mistakes too) but this is the part of the book where Rachel started to hook me. Maybe she just did a better job selecting real life examples.

Rachel then suggests that the really, truly best way to learn what I am doing wrong is to enlist an interviewer and have him or her call a handful of my first dates (those that I thought were a good date or that I hoped to see again) and ask him why he didn’t call back. First, no. I am not going to do that. I am tough, but not that tough. Second, I can’t do that. I don’t have their contact information any longer. It was one date. I gave it two weeks and when I didn’t hear from them, I deleted the number. Another possible misstep, by the way, not giving him enough time to call me back.

Man, was dating always this hard?

My other question for Rachel, when we become friends, because despite her bad haircut I think she is pretty cool, is what do I do after date three? I mean, all this advice is aimed at giving him a chance to get to know the real me by putting my personality quirks on hold and showing him just how kind to other human beings I can be. Not to mention funny. And not the least bit sarcastic.

Because, I am not really that caring a person. And while I am pretty funny, it is mostly because of my sarcasm. I also really like to win and am capable of flagging down my own cab. So, what? On date four I just let the real Tatiana loose? I can almost picture it now:
“Cheese and rice, Tatiana, I had no idea you were so opinionated and capable with such a busy social life and an irrational fear of cats. You seemed so kind and docile and needy and I mean, who doesn’t like cats? Remember our first date when I talked about Muffin and Fluffy -- you acted interested in them. Why didn’t you say something then?”
"Umm, because a book I read told me not to?"

The thing is, I learned a long time ago that I am an acquired taste. Just interview any of my friends. At least 50 percent of them will tell you they hated me when they first met me. But if a porcupine like me can find best friends, including at least two that hug me every time they see me despite how horrible and awkward it must feel, I have confidence that there is a guy out there that can love me for me too.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The Science of Romance

So, after cleaning my apartment, doing all my dishes and laundry, clearing out the ‘fridge, scrubbing the floorboards and still feeling a bit antsy -- I decided to tackle my office/spare bedroom/nursery. Some people have a junk drawer or two in their apartments -- I have an entire junk room.

I never use this room which was suppose to be my office. For one, it isn't part of the original structure of my building so it is almost always too hot or too cold to be comfortable. Two, my kitchen table, where I never eat, makes a great desk.

The climate factor is why I hesitate to put an extra bed in there -- I don't think it would be very polite to makes guests sleep in this room. Plus, you have to cross through this room to get to my bathroom. Bridie thinks it would make a lovely nursery -- despite how cold it gets in there in the winter, so she calls it the nursery. My mom thinks this is funny and has also started referring to the back bedroom as the nursery.

I shudder at the thought.

So, first up in my junk room -- my piles of magazines. I collect magazines the way Britney Spears used to collect court dates. I have every intention of reading them when I buy them (or they come in the mail) but most of the time, I just page through them and then add them to the pile until my living room looks like a doctor’s office waiting room. Which is when the magazines get collected and moved to the back room until I can deal with them.

In this pile of good intentions was a Time magazine from the beginning of last year. The cover looks like a Lichtenstein painting and the coverlines read “The Science of Romance: Why we need love to survive.” I remember standing in line at the Whole Foods when I first saw this cover and thinking to myself, wouldn’t it be wonderful if it was all as easy as a science.

Seriously, what if people that are smarter than me figured out the formula for why we find some people attractive and pass over others? Why it works for some couples and not for others? If they could reveal that if you put on A, smear on B, give X look while standing in position Y, mix until smooth and creamy and bake at 450 degrees until warm and bubbly you will have love everlasting.

Okay, so I am mixing my metaphors, but you get what I mean. My interest in this magazine renewed and I set out for my sofa; this time I was going to actually read the article.

After all, information is power and I can use all the power I can get in this silly little game of love.

Sadly, there were no equations or recipes. Just a lot of hypothesizing as to why we put ourselves through the whole process and some really interesting facts about it. For instance did you know that strippers that are ovulating average more in tips then strippers that are menstruating or strippers that are neither menstruating nor ovulating? Mind you, I didn’t realize that strippers worked when they were menstruating.

There was also a section on flirting, but again, less a how to and more an everyone does it and here is why we do it even when we are happily married. Did you know the first how-to guide to flirting was published more than 2,000 years ago? That raised an eyebrow (which is a nonverbal flirting cue) as I may be able to use that as an ice breaker the next time I am out and near a cute boy. Of course I won’t. But it is good to have. Less I start racking my brain for something interesting to say and the tid-bit about ovulating strippers blurts out.

There is just nothing hot about a girl talking about ovulating strippers.

Otherwise, there really wasn’t much I could use as I embark to find Mr. Tatiana. Which is good in a way as I would have been really angry with myself if the secret to finding couple bliss had been sitting in my junk room for the last year and a half. Maybe I will run out to Borders and see if they have a copy of that 2000-year-old guide to flirting.

I mean, really, how much could have changed in the last two millennia?

Monday, August 24, 2009

I’m Sorry, You Have Me Mistaken for Someone Else

I’m used to other people’s misperceptions about me. After all, I was blonde for most of my life. I’m used to being mistaken as stupid or helpless or klutzy -- okay so I am klutzy, but never have I ever been mistaken for a republican service woman.

See, I don’t own a car. And my family drives down to Nags Head, N.C., every year for a week’s vacation. So I borrowed my father’s jeep and made the trip by myself.

My father’s jeep -- it’s green, with a tire cover that reads “Once a Marine Always a Marine” a sticker in the window proudly declaring the driver is a member of the National Rifle Association and a McCain/Palin sticker on the bumper. I call it the Republican Mobile. I told my mom I felt dirty driving it. She rolled her eyes and said I could always walk.

I sighed. I was hoping she would offer me her car -- instead she offered me her gas card. My dad brags that the jeep gets 17 to 18 miles per gallon.

So, there I was on I-76 cruising around the turns, singing along to an artist I am too embarrassed to say I like, when a young man in a dark sedan pulled along side me, turned and saluted me.

No. I’m not kidding.

And, no, it wasn’t the one finger sort of salute. Believe me, I am used to those. It was an actual salute.

This is when I realized that so long as I was in this car, all my feminist rants and liberal beliefs no longer mattered to those around me. Those driving past me assumed I was a marine (or married to one) and would treat me accordingly. I also worried that I didn’t respond properly to the young man that saluted me but I checked with my brother and he said it definitely would have been wrong to salute back. Particularly since I am not even sure I know how to properly salute.

Of course it seems this misunderstanding between me and my fellow road-mates had its perks. I am a decent driver. That’s not to say that people don’t occasionally beep at me when I pass or shake their fists at me when they pass. However, in the Republican mobile it didn’t happen once. Did they see the NRA sticker and think twice about messing with me?

I also have a bit of a lead foot. I don’t like driving and so the sooner I can get out of a car the better. When I drove Rosie, I was pulled over ever other week for speeding (though I only ever received one ticket, thank you very much). While I passed several cops with their radar guns out -- I wasn’t pulled over in the Republican mobile. Could it be they saw that tire cover and decided I earned the right to drive just as fast as I want to?

While I certainly appreciated the fringe benefits of pretending to be someone I wasn’t, there was one moment when I truly felt like a fraud. I pulled into a service station looking for fuel that didn’t contain 10% ethanol (according to Daddy, the ethanol negatively affects his jeep’s delicate engine). A man and his girlfriend/wife pulled into the pump next to mine. He got off his Harley, took his helmet off, looked at me and said, “Thank you.”

I just stood there, blank for a moment. The woman he was with had her helmet off at this point and thanked me as well, you know, for my service.

I smiled and debated whether or not I wanted to engage these two in a conversation about misperceptions and my father and just how far this piece of fruit fell from his tree. Instead I just nodded and started washing the windows of the jeep. I also made a silent promise to myself to relay this couple’s appreciation to all the actual servicemen and women I knew.

Of course, the dirty, long-haired biker and his girlfriend/wife in her too tight tank top and too short shorts could have been really nice, really smart, really interesting individuals. Had I engaged them in that conversation maybe I would have learned that his father was a crazy radical conservative that worked on Wall Street and is disgusted by his Harley-Davidson-riding son that lobbies for PETA.

A thought that didn’t occur to me until after I pulled away from the fill-up station. I made another silent promise to stop pre-judging people and then realized just how impossible that sort of promise would be to keep. Aren’t my rules about who I will and won’t date just a form of prejudice? When I claim I have a good instinct about people, where does that instinct come from? Its not as if I know these people all that well when I declare “there is just something about him/her I don’t like.” It’s based on how they look or act or talk or in some cases smell.

So, instead I promised to be more open to the idea that I could be wrong about people and not get so defensive when someone incorrectly assumes something about me.

I then turned up the radio, the performer that I will never openly admit to singing along with for fear of how people will judge me was on again.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Fruit From The Forbidden Tree

So I learned something about myself this week -- when I am sexually frustrated I turn into a clean freak.

Here all this time I just thought I was naturally neat.

See, Thursday night, just like all the other nights last week, I was hanging out with my brother and his friends. As the night progressed, Ivan and his fiance went to bed. Then my brother’s best friend Larry went to bed; that left me and the Forbidden Fruit.

See, Ivan and I are only two years apart so growing up we hung out with a lot of the same people. But after a short relationship he had with one of the Chrissies we developed an unspoken rule about not dating each others friends.

This was never a problem for me until Thursday night.

Forbidden Fruit is younger than my brother and my mom thinks he is really good looking. I get the feeling that lots of moms think he is really good looking.

I never saw it.

But then I was never drunk with him discussing books and life and relationships until 5:30 in the morning.

I didn’t even know how late it was until he mentioned that it was getting light out.

The next day (or rather, later that day) he was up before me and must’ve told my parents about our night.

I spent that day reading and avoiding my family, until my mother came into my room and laid in my bed with me.

“So, you and Forbidden Fruit were up all night talking, huh?”

“Yes, mom. Just talking.”

“About what?”

“Stuff. Books and movies and his girlfriend. Nothing major.”

“What did he call you this morning?”

I rolled my eyes. Does she miss anything? “Ellsworth Toohey.”

“Who’s that?”

“A character from The Fountainhead.”

“Oh, he read The Fountainhead?”

“He did.”

“What did he think about it?”

“I don’t think he got it because he said some terrible things about Howard Roark. I told him he should re-read it.”

“Well, that is because you are in love with Howard Roark.”

“Every woman should be in love with Howard. Ayn wrote him to be the perfect male.”

My mom rolled her eyes and moved to get out of bed but not before she uttered the accusation I had been hiding from all day. “You’re a cougar.”

For the record, I think one has to be in her 40s to qualify as a cougar.

The next day my parents left and I came out of hiding -- it was my last day at the beach and there was nothing my brother and his friends could tease me about that would keep me out of the sun.

But they didn’t tease me. It was just like any other day; but then I noticed Forbidden Fruit wasn't wearing a shirt. Did he not wear a shirt the whole week? Huh. Well, we are at the beach, no one wears a shirt at the beach? But in the house? I mean most of us had the decency to put on our cover-ups as we were making our lunches and taking a break from the sun.

Then he took a shower and came back downstairs in just low-slung shorts. When he walked past me I closed my eyes and reminded myself of all the reasons that I am not interested in him. And then wondered if he always smelled that good.

That is when I got up, put my book down and started cleaning the kitchen -- sanitizing is more like it.

When I asked Ivan is he saw a vacuum cleaner and he responded yes, Larry chimed in, “Wow, Tati, you are quite the Suzi Homemaker this evening. What is up?”

I made up some lame but possibly true excuse about being charged if we didn’t clean up the house before we left.

Once the kitchen and dining room and living room and two of the bathrooms were spotless I decided the best thing to do was go to bed.

I was washing my face when I heard FF calling my name. I stepped out of the dirty bathroom. Oh, sure, now he puts a sweatshirt on.

“What time are you leaving tomorrow?”

“I don’t know, early-ish.”

“Because Ivan thought you might want to follow me home.”

We had a brief conversation about my getting lost (it was the stupid Garmin’s fault) and whether or not I would feel better following him home. I told him I would survive.

“Are you sure? Because if you aren’t going to follow me, I am probably going to leave really early and I don’t want to leave and have you change your mind.”

“No, really, I think I’ll be fine.”

“Are you sure? You aren’t doing that chick thing where you say one thing but expect me to do the exact opposite are you?”

I smiled. “No. Actually, I think it would be less stressful to not follow you.”

He looked at me. “Okay. That is completely contradictory.”

I wanted to say, “Yeah, ask Ivan, when Calvin Klein came out with 'Contradiction' he joked that someone had finally created a perfume perfect for me.”

Or, “Well, here’s the thing. For the past two days I have been having really inappropriate thoughts about you. I have tried to stop thinking these things, but I can’t. And so I think the only way to stop is for you to go downstairs and get back on the phone with your girlfriend and for me to go to bed and try to think about anything else and for us to not see each other again for a long, long while.”

But for the first time in my life (probably) I managed to just say nothing. He looked at me for a while, then turned and yelled downstairs, “Ivan, she said she doesn’t need to follow me.”

By the time I got home I hadn’t gotten FF completely out of my system which isn't terrible because my apartment can use a good scrubbing.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Vacation All I Ever Wanted

I know, I know, I have been totally out of it lately. I would like to say it is because I have been on vacation -- but the truth is I only have been on vacation this past week.

More truth is my brain has been all over the map recently. What, with the novel and the blog and rowing and crushes and the Republican and my family and my friends and my future and my past and I think I have finally figured out why.

Because I just turned another year older.

Don’t you hate that? Not turning another year older. I mean, sometimes that sucks. But this year I am pretty okay with it. What I mean is I hate when some small part of your brain you don’t even know about takes control and starts making you do and think things you aren’t ready to do or think.

Worse, you start to wonder why you are doing and thinking these things and you can’t figure it out. That is until you wake up and the reason is sitting on your chest, smacking you in the face.

That happened to me Tuesday morning. And just like the time my TV screen was skipping and so I got up and hit the side of it in an effort to make it stop; my brain just stopped working. Of course this time there was no final flash of light before it just went black.

Since then I have tried to use my brain as little as possible. I’ve been reading trashy beach reads, drinking more than I should and playing the occasional game of Asshole with my brother and his friends. It seems to be working as my brain finally feels ready to be turned back on again.

So, now I am trying to sort out all my thoughts and feelings and prepare myself for this next year in my life. Hopefully you can forgive my absence and hopefully I can get my head back on straight and start writing again.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Well, That Didn’t Take Long

So, I was Facebook-Stalking R 2.0 today -- what else am I suppose to do, work on my novel? Oh, right, I am suppose to be working on my novel. I promise to get right back to that once I tell you this.

I found him, it was quite easy as his real name is not John Smith and his profile was public (it is almost as if he is begging girls to stalk him). First thing’s first -- I checked his info page, where, what to my wondering eyes did appear but a relationship status Married to Some Skanky Girl. I’m kidding. I’m sure she is lovely.

My point? My crush is over just as soon as it began. Oh well, at least I got a good run and two days of pretty out of it.


Sunday, August 2, 2009

L Is for The Way You Look at Me

Man, there is nothing like having a crush. And boy, have I missed this feeling.

I have missed this feeling so much that I tried forcing myself to have a crush on CK but to no avail. CK is just too damn perfect to be crush-worthy.

However, this weekend I have found my crush -- Rower Version 2.0 or R 2.0 for short.

I raced this weekend, twice; a women’s eight and a mixed eight (mixed as in there were both men and women in the boat). As I sat in one of the boathouses waiting for my second race to launch, a woman that was waiting with me introduced me to R 2.0. I was told he would be in my boat later.

I looked up (it was almost a strain on my neck as my new crush is very tall) and a little voice inside my head sang, “ding-dong.” I had found him.

I think he felt it too.

The next morning I woke up and the whole world felt lighter and brighter, despite the severe storms that were rolling through. It didn’t matter. I have a crush again.

I know it is silly. It is one of the things I can’t stand about myself. But having a crush makes me want to get up and workout. It makes me want to get gussied up and go out. I know I should want to do these things for myself, and I do. But a crush is such better motivation then training for a marathon or simple self-improvement.

Sigh. Maybe one day I will matter enough to myself to want to do these things just for me. But until then, I will use the fact that there is a chance I will run into R 2.0 to keep me running and rowing and applying mascara.

Is it really that terrible? After all, I am the one who is improved by all my effort.

Now, not everyone will be happy about this new crush -- Bridie for one thinks hanging out in Fairmount, making out with rowers is a step backwards. For the record, I haven’t made out with anyone -- yet. Nor do I have plans to hang out in Fairmount -- a lot.

Still, I have spent the last few years denying that I was a rower or an athlete, but I finally accepted that and look how happy I am. Maybe finally admitting that I have a thing for rowers will bring me the same sort of joy.