Friday, July 12, 2013

B is for Brave

When I was 10, I was guaranteed that everything gets better. My pre-teen hardships and burdens would ease, and my 20s would be a decade when I come into whoever I am supposed to be. This is what was promised to me by every adult, all coming of age books and my guidance counselor who lectured me on the importance of wearing a bra. It was the piece of truth I held onto at each obstacle I faced.

One day the beloved jock would change the oil in my car, and the mean girl who seemed to have a breeze of a time would have a reality of 16 and pregnant without the fortune and fame of MTV. I was confident that my success would skyrocket in my 20s. I would be so great the girl who called me a “slut” at 15 (when I hadn’t even kissed a boy) would regret using that four letter word and beg for my approval. I looked forward to dating because it was going to be easy. I was excited for my 20s because at 12 my reality seemed heartbreaking, so much so that there was no other way for it to get than better.

This is what I have been thinking about all month, who I was and who I am now. After journaling my most private thoughts I have come to the revelation that, if I could go back and do it all over again, if I could change who I was, shave off weight, tame my hair, learn that concealer was meant to be blended into the skin and not dabbed on in an extremely apparent way, I wouldn’t change a thing. Because, damn it, I was braver than any person I knew or have ever known.

As I learn what it takes to be an adult, I wish I could channel exactly who I was at 11. Today, I consistently hold everything I feel and think inside never exposing it to the appropriate parties. Why bother? She won’t care that she hurt me, and there is no chance someone like him could like me. I find myself being mean and judgmental to those who are mean and judgmental toward me because you don’t get to be an ugly human being without reciprocation.

But at 11, I dialed Walker Mason up. I told him I liked him, and asked him what he thought about me. When I was rejected, I went to computer class the next day and asked him to help me beat the next level of Snood. There was nothing awkward or uncomfortable about having expressed my feelings.

When Karen Keefer told the entire sixth grade class of girls that I was a Lesbian, I invited her to my birthday party, and I gave her a Valentine. As long as I kept being who I wanted to be (nice and smart and expressive), I was able to get up every day and look forward to the next because it got better. If I were then who I am today, I wouldn’t have asked Walker if he could fathom liking me, and I would have never dressed out for P.E. in the girls’ locker room ever again. I was brave.

So at 23, why is it so hard to ask someone if they like me back? And why do I feel the need to be mean to someone who thinks I’m not good enough. Whoever I like probably cares more about me and fostering a friendship with me if he doesn’t like me than Walker did. He still helped me over the 7th level slump. What’s so scary now? I am not facing a lunch room of 300 kids who repeat and believe everything they hear out of one person’s mouth.

I’m learning more and more that I want to be the chubby 10-year-old mathlete. She was brave, and she didn’t know it then, but she had confidence. Her denim overalls might not have been the best, but she is a role model to her future self. I want to find an NJB who will fall in love with that girl, because as far as I am concerned, she was pretty amazing.  As my search for my NJB continues, I want to find the one who sees that NJG in who I am today.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

I Have the Best Dad Ever

My freshman year, I thought I got a failing grade for a class I dropped. When I got home for Summer Break and saw an "F" on my grade report I stopped being able to breathe properly. In fact, I couldn't breathe. I was too busy hyperventilating and contemplating my life as a garbage woman.  My sophomore year of college I got a "C-" on my first test in a Law class that I needed to graduate. I curled up on the floor creating a  steady stream of saltwater trailing down the hall in my sorority house. My dreams of being a lawyer were coming to a crashing end. My junior year, when my professor made an example out of me by yelling at me in front of the entire class, I scream-cried all the way back to my apartment and collapsed on my bedroom floor. My senior year, when I felt betrayed by my beloveds, I sat through Mission Impossible stuffing my tear stained face in a huge tub of popcorn.

The one thing all of these moments had in common, besides my never-ending tears? My Dad. When I couldn't breathe, when I thought one grade had surely done me in for a life as a Walmart greeter, when I thought there was nothing more horrific that could happen to me than taking a public shaming in front of 43 of my peers, and when I thought I was unworthy of friendship, my dad came to the rescue with some wise questions. (And when that didn't work, he gave me popcorn...)

Are you sick? Did you hurt anyone?  Tomorrow, will you wake up? 
​So, the way I see it, this is far from the end of the world. (He clearly never had four girls ignore him at once...he also never made a bad grade in his life.)​ 

My Dad didn't know it then, but he was teaching me two things that no amount of school could ever teach me. 
The first,
​ which I think every person should fully understand, is that there actually is more to life than a stupid mistake, an embarrassing moment, or a silly fight. If it's not a learning experience, it's a story to look back on and laugh about. Sometimes we have to make mistakes and disappoint ourselves to be able to get to better experiences and opportunities. If I hadn't gotten that awful "C-" I never would have understood how to frame and articulate my thoughts. If I had never been ignored, I probably wouldn't fully understand how lucky I am to have people in my life who care about me even if I don't always seem to do the same for them. And if you can't learn from it? SO WHAT? It's not like you did something so bad it's irreversible and uncorrectable (I am aware this is not a word...I just can't think of the proper word).

The other end of the equation that my dad taught me about? That I want to surround myself with people just like him. Out of everyone in my life, he is the one person I can count on to unwind me from my uptight state of being. He has a logical sense about him paired with a childlike sense of humor that makes him the perfect Dad and perfect husband to my mom. (Sometimes his humor can be more than I bargain for, so  my mom is pretty stellar for handling it.) I would be silly to not recognize that his calm, methodical and happy nature is exactly what I, and every girl, should be looking for.

So on this Father's Day, I want to thank my Dad for being the best man I know, for always pushing me to be better and for being there for me when it feels like the world around me is ending. My Momma sure hit the jackpot with that NJB. Here's to hoping there is someone with the same qualities my dad has on my search for my NJB.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

No Pay No Play

In the March issue of Cosmo there is a statistic that claims 78% of men think a guy should pay on the first date. I polled my friends, my office, myself and the everyone south of the Mason-Dixon line, and we are all in agreement with the 78%. Somehow I wound up going on a date with someone in the 22% (not to be mistaken with the 1%, who I would also like to steer in the clear of).

So the date begins at a burger joint around NYU where he is in Law School. He is wearing construction boots, but I overlooked that because maybe that’s normal when you live in Brooklyn. (After the fact, I realize these two facts, Brooklyn and hideous footwear, should not have been ignored. Rather, they should have been immediate red flags.)

We sit, and the conversation immediately flows, and I think could it be? Could this basically balding, weird-accent boy be my Minch and Shining Kipah? 

Following dinner we order a beer, and that’s when the Red Sea began to separate. I chose the beer, which is always a step in the wrong direction since my understanding of beer ranges from Bud Select to Bud Lite Lime. The reason I chose? He didn’t know beers. The reason he didn’t  know beers? He rarely ever drinks. In fact, he finds it disgraceful when youngsters our age drink and/or get drunk. (Good thing I didn’t tell him about my plans later that night…)

After we asked for the check, he went to the bathroom for the second time during our date. (Either he had the smallest bladder in the world or he was talking to someone else. Two times is excessive when he barely had anything to drink, and it’s been less than two hours.)The check comes, and I let it sit until he comes back. I fumble through my wallet for what felt like at least a minute. When I finally realized, he wasn’t going to pull the obligatory “I got this” move, I put my Amex card down. We split the bill, and I went into the night, $25 poorer than I started. 

I’m not a brat. I don’t go on these dates for the free meal. In fact, I’d rather go for something quick like coffee so I can escape in a short amount of time once disappointed. But the guy should ALWAYS pay until at least the 3rd date!

As we parted, he too tried to kiss me. Sorry son! To quote my innermost thoughts, “This cow don’t give no milk fo free!” 

This all seemed fine and well until he texted me mid-week while at work. As a busy bee, I didn’t see it until much later, so I decided to wait to respond mulling over the idea of a second chance. While I was asleep, I got another text asking if I had gotten the earlier text. (Uhm, these are the things girls think when they text boys, but we never actually ask…) I didn’t respond, feeling a little bit odd about the situation. 

The next day: “Am I missing something? I thought you had a great time, and you said we should do this again.”

The next next day: “Wow, that’s really rude. You’re just not going to respond. I didn’t do anything to deserve how you are treating me. Wow.”

Okay, I admit. Maybe I should have texted him back after the first or second time. But what was he trying to get at with the last two? Did he think I would feel so bad about being rude, I would go on a second date? The way I see it: He got what he paid for…nothing!

So I went on to the next poor, unfortunate soul in search of a paying NJB.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

The Mommas and the Pappas

After suffering through middle school and an abundance of failed relations thereafter, I have finally found the source to blame: Parental Masters, specifically Kenneth and Fern (I didn’t change these names. Feel free to either send them fan mail or hate mail depending on how you think I turned out). Good parents tell you that you are beautiful and you can do anything. Smart parents tell you the truth. My parents were good until I got to college, and then they became smart. (See picture below…they told me I was beautiful.)

I am a firm believer that parents should warn their children that they are either normal or need to do some self-evaluations to fix their social habits. My mother has no problem telling me I sound like a valley girl and my high-pitched voice will not take me very far in life. (This is not mean; it’s just telling the truth. Even though I hang up the phone every time she says this.) Such was the case with Allen. 

Where do I begin? Allen was a math “teacher”, “6’0” and “athletic.” Allen was actually unemployed looking to teach math, 5’7, and he claimed to play tennis. (I’m pretty sure I could have won a match, at least on the Wii.) Once again though, I have low standards so this hardly bothered me. His high pitched-voice, on the other hand, was a little bit startling. 

We met at a coffee shop that Allen quickly decided was not suitable due to the large crowd invading the space. As we made our way to the second coffee shop, Allen did not hold back his comments about how the date was going,

“I think it’s fine that we keep walking to another coffee place. We seem to have a lot in common. You like sports. I like sports. There are no holes in the conversation. Sometimes it’s hard to keep up the conversation on dates.”

As we ventured to the third coffee shop since the second had the same problem as the first,
“I think we are really connecting. My other dates were full of awkward silences. This is going really well. Don’t you think?”

By then I discovered, he was going to make commentary on the date the entire way through, and I was going to politely agree to everything he was saying. We finally settled at the fourth coffee shop, a vegan hole-in-the-wall…I like cheese, and I like milk. This was an “udder”ly bad decision.

“You don’t have your phone on the table, and you aren’t checking it every so often. That shows you really respect me, and are having a good time.”

Do you know how to respond to these comments? Do I clap, like he just scored a basket? The cherry on top was our final conversation topic. PAST RELATIONSHIPS He asked about my history. I replied nothing serious. He replied questioning what that meant. I replied, “There is no one from my past who meant enough to bring into my present.” He asked again what nothing serious meant. I stopped responding. (We both went to college. College relations for the majority of college graduates can be described as nothing serious, and we all know what it means!)

Alas, the date was over, as I excused myself to hang out with my brother-in-law. Two seconds later Allen asked me out on date two, via text. I declined the offer. 

I want everyone to know: This uncomfortable date full of commentary is not a reflection of Allen, but a reflection of his parents. Parents’ inability to tell their children the truth about how weird they really are hurts the child’s chances at correcting his behavior and venturing down a more average path. Allen is the product of parents cushioning their children, when what we need is someone to tell us our behavior is weird, our jokes aren’t funny, we are destined to live average lives and we could stand to take a shower.

So this is for all the parents, including my Mom and Dad. I’m blaming y'all if my search for my NJB, doesn’t pan out as hoped!