Monday, August 31, 2009

Please Help! Traveling-writing contest

I'm up to win a killer writing contest. 


NYCGO and Trazzler teamed up to offer one writer 10K and  a travel writing gig.  The destination: uncovering hidden NYC!

I'm now a semi-finalist based on my write up of the Washington Mews -- that hidden alley of ivy-covered carriage houses tucked inside lower 5th Avenue. 

Here's a sneak peak

"Its wrought-iron gate is the armoire door to a colonial-inspired Narnia. Genuine cobblestone, creeping ivy, uneven roof shingles. The Washington Mews is a single street from an era when "ornate carriage houses" meant found wood and guessed-at blueprint."

But I need your help, please 

The write-up with the most votes goes on to the finals where a panel of judges will decide who gets that actual gig.  

So if you could just click through RIGHT HERE and select "add to wishlist" - that would be a huge, huge help (Deadline is 9/14. )

And hey, if you want to pass this along to - I don't know - everyone you know - that would be fantastic too. 

Many, many thanks - I promise not to use this blog for shameless self promotion again - unless another 10K and a travel writing job is at stake...

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Ted Kennedy's telephone


*back to regular posting - the book is headed to the editors (my friends)!

I was glued to my TV Friday night watching the memorial service of Ted Kennedy.

I love the Kennedy’s – Ted in particular – as much as any Boston College-educated liberal democrat. I also have a strange thing for memorial services, commemorative events, roasts, that part of the Oscars where Tom Hanks gives Ron Howard a lifetime achievement award (in my mind it should just be that every single year) – really anything involving notable people making sweeping speeches about other notable people.

Very notable political people had incredible things to say about Ted Kennedy. Historical things and achievement-based things, yes, but also deeply personal stories about their times with Ted. 

“When Teddy and I went sailing for the first time” or “out at Hyannis for my first of Teddy’s famous Christmas parties” or “every time we’d greet Ted would break into Oh What a Beautiful Morning.” 

Ted Kennedy was a deeply personal man – old-worldly in his approach to connecting with people, but what struck me about each speaker that echoed such similar sentiments was how often someone referenced Teddy “calling them up.”

He called me every other day after my wife and daughter were killed and offered me a thought or a prayer or, more often, a joke – Joe Biden said.

Teddy would call me after we’d had a particularly big fight on the senate floor and say, “that was fun Orin – what should we go ‘round the ring about today?!” – Senator Hatch recounted.

He never even said who is was when he’d call, Boston’s Mayor Tom Menino said – he’s just launch into whatever he needed to say as if you were continuing some conversation you never finished the night before.

Caroline Kennedy, John McCain, former senator John Culver – the list goes on and on but stories were all the same. Ted Kennedy made contact – regular, personal, thoughtful contact over the phone.

When our generation is remembered in memorial services and thoughtful newspaper columns what will people say? “She’d send me funny texts a lot” or “I used to really enjoy her group emails” maybe “I followed her on twitter for years, and that was always interesting…”

Yes, we are of a different technological time. We have cell phones and Facebook and Twitter and gchat – and yes, they allows us to keep in touch with a larger quantity of people – a good thing, no doubt. But what about the quality?

There is something about connecting with someone over the phone. Maybe it’s a voice thing? Or a you’re “live” and not rehearsed or written down thing? Could just be that phone calls mean, “I stopped my entire day to call and speak to you” unlike texts and emails that can be so multi-tasked.

Yes, Ted Kennedy was a “phone man” because he lived and worked before texting and tweeting was the status quo. But the phone is still available, and we don’t opt against it because it’s less effective or efficient. We opt against it because it takes more time and vulnerability.

Is it weird to say I want people to know me like they knew Ted Kennedy? I mean it in a personal, friendship, familiar sense – not as in I want to be a famous senator. But listening to all the speeches throughout his memorial service I couldn’t help but think that when I pass I want my family and friends to have the memories of my reaching out to them just like Ted Kennedy’s family, friends, and colleagues have.  

Apparently part of that can be as simple as an unexpected, thoughtful phone call.

Monday, August 24, 2009

The truth of male agendas

quick note for today. finishing up the book this week!

Chris and his friend Chris and I were talking about some Boston-based group of girls that one of the two Chris's knew.

(paraphrased):

"They'd always invite me to do stuff around town," Chris was saying, "but it's like - no I don't want to go to the museum with you - I'm a guy and none of us are dating."

"Interesting..." I said.

"Yeah," then Chris turned to Chris for bro validation. "Would you want to do that with a group of girls if you weren't interested in any of them?"

"It depends," that Chris said, "but probably no."

"Hhmm...More interesting..." I said. "So what you're saying is that if you have zero interest in any of the girls in a group of girls you therefore have zero interest in hanging out with them socially?"

"No, not at a bar or party or something, but yes to say go ice-skating."

"Wow..." I said. "So then if you decide to go do something like that with a group of girls you probably have some interest in one of its members?"

"Probably," one Chris said. "I mean it's not that simple," the other one finished, "but it's almost that simple."

Not that you couldn't figure that a guy who accepts an invite to the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens with you and the girls has some kind of agenda, but to hear it explained that simply puts things into an interesting perspective.

There are categories of things that guys and girls do together -- watch games at bars, attend bbqs, go to the beach, go to concerts. Then - apparently - there are categories of things that girls do that guys will do if they want to be around one/many of those girls -- go ice skating? go shopping? attend the ballet? I didn't get a confirmed list (yet...).

Does that mean they want to date one or just hook up with one? Unclear, but there was some suggestion that the degree of girliness of the event has correlation to how a guy feels. Go see a chick-ish flick: he may just be gunning for a hook up. Spend that afternoon at one of those make-your-own-pottery places: he's considering marrying one of you.

Again - not entirely black and white (because sadly nothing is), but it does make it a little easier to figure out where a guy stands on you/your girlfriend. Get some girls together for a night of wine and pie baking and invite the dude over to join. If he comes for the entire thing he's into someone in the room. If he stays and helps clean up the entire kitchen -- it's you.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Operation Rosen-Obama: In Full Effect

*The below letter clearly summarizes my mission in a format that's easily posted, tweeted, pasted into status messages, and emailed around to everyone you know.  We can do this, America.
Dear Sir or Madam:
I’m on a personal mission to date a member of the Obama family, and I believe you can help.

A CHANGE of dating tactic YOU CAN BELIEVE IN
Finding an eligible man in this mad-cap modern world is no easy task -- it takes focus, determination and savvy, plus of course, a strong sense of exactly what one wants in a partner.

I want someone like Barack and/or Michelle Obama.

Someone calm, cool, and collected. Someone poised, yet perma-casual. Someone with strong family values and the ability to grow an impressive vegetable garden. Someone who looks great in J. Crew. Someone presidential, if you will.

As such it seems only logical to target my search to a relative of The First Family. One possessing of their genes – no matter how few – surely stands to be superior in all human aspects.

Say YES, WE CAN help

I’m reaching out to you because of your (please circle all that apply):

connections to the president / experience in ancestry research /
current or former residence in Hawaii, Chicago, or Kenya / general smarts

Do you or does someone you know have the president’s ear? Can you think of a way to make my mission more public? Are you personally aware of a 26-year-old male third cousin living on the east coast?

Please consider whether you have any leads based on the above suggestions, and please feel free to pass this document along to anyone you think might be helpful. Included below is my dating resume – a brief summary of why I will make an excellent addition to the Obama family tree.

Many thanks in advance for your help toward this most American of causes. For why – in addition to nationalized health care, ending the war in Iraq, and a sustainable energy program - should not love, the true foundation upon which this nation was built, be a priority of its current administration.

God Bless America!

Jessie Rosen
______________________________________________________



Education______________________________________________
Boston College, College of Arts and Sciences May ‘05
•Bachelor of Arts in Communications - Cum Laude
•Founding Member – Boston College TV
•Participant – Pedro Arrupe Volunteer Immersion program, Kingston Jamaica

New York University, Semester Abroad Spring ‘04
•Villa La Pietra, Florence, Italy

Datable Experience_______________________________________________

20-Nothings.com, Creator and Writer, 2007-present
•Dating, relationship, and 20-something life-focused blog. Currently under option for television development by Mercator Pictures, Paul Schuring’s (Prison Break) production company.
•Note: has resulted in extensive research on how to be an excellent date and eventual girlfriend, plus the tv part could be very cool.

Jesuit Collective Emerging Leadership Program, Pilot Member, 2007-present
•Pilot program of the Jesuit Collective aimed at preparing young adults for a life of leadership in the image of Ignatian spirituality
•Note: extremely well received by mothers, grandmothers and aunts

PregameBoston.com, Founder and Executive Editor, 2002-2005
•Founded, owned, and operated event-based online destination, providing college students with weekly information on Boston events
•Note: Dads/mentors/current bosses tend to appreciate this element

Junior State of America, Convention Coordinator, 1998-2001
•Responsible for the development and planning of three annual, political-based conventions involving debate, thought talk, and prominent D.C.-based speakers for this student-run political organization, the largest of its nature.
•Note: the president himself is familiar with and fond of this organization :)

Obama-like Attributes__________________________________________

•Card-carrying member of the Democratic party and contributor to the Obama campaign

•Can participate fairly competently in the game of basketball. Can participate very competently in the watching of the game of basketball

Very open to the idea of holidays in Hawaii

•Have three little sisters who have each, at one point, been the same ages as Sasha and Malia

•Believe both “Mom jeans” and “shorts” are totally appropriate for all Americans

•In 2001 I memorized all the U.S. Senators, in alphabetical order

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The as-of-yet untitled Date an Obama Project

I wasn't kidding about this I-date-a-relative-of-Barack-Obama situation.

The formal search has begun and is now organized into a three prong approach:

1. Ancestry.com searching and susequent contacting
Last week I had the following conversation with Carly:
  • Carly: i can help!! i have literally done this kind of
  • Me: this is so wonderful
  • Carly: i have my family tree back to rev war and saw that i have the same great great grandfather as some guy our age that lives in new haven
  • Carly: so i fb messaged him
  • Me: WOW
  • Carly: and now we are friends
  • Me: see- that's exactly what I need to do
  • Carly: he went to uconn
  • Carly: hmm, doing a quick looking at O's family tree i think its actually pretty possible that i am distantly related to him - hahah - he has ancestors named "Wright" from tennessee in the 1800s... as do i
  • Me: wow -- then can I just date someone related to you? that would be a lot easier
Using Carly's bizarre but convenient prowess we will scour Obama ancestry files for third, fourth, fifth, and even more distant cousins who I may be able to friend on Facebook and then eventually date. This happens tomorrow, over white wine and hummus (like all of life's more important tasks). Piece of cake.
2. Washington-insiders approach
I graduated from the same high school specialized learning center as Kal Penn - former I'm-not-a-pot-head-I-just-play-one-in-the-movies and current Communications officer for the same company where Barack Obama works (America, more specifically The White House). I'm developing a one-sheet to send to Kal and like D.C. contacts explaining my "mission" and imploring them to choose to help me accomplish it. People love a good story, no?


3. Youtube?
Seems like a powerful engine for getting difficult things done. Sarah Silverman's "The Great Schlepp" video sealed the election for Obama, as on example. And that "Charlie Bit Me" video inspired millions of Americans to talk in a British child's accent for at least a week. Also, Susan Boyle... I am contemplating going so far as to develop a youtube video explaining my mission and asking the American people -- arguably all brothers and sisters of our great leader, for help. Thoughts? Fears? Digi cams?


Stay-tuned, per usual. Also any and all recommendations for a campaign slogan are welcome. Doug - could you maybe repeat the magic of "Laundro-Matt."

Monday, August 17, 2009

300 posts: seems like that would fill a book...

Today marks the 300th post - a fact I am equal parts proud of and surprised by.  

Some things happen for a reason, others because you make them happen, and a strange, special few because of an unexpected combo between the former, latter and luck. 

And so with that momentum as motivation - I've decided to self-publish -- twice. 
  
20-Nothings -- A collection of posts organized into three categories:

  Transitions - from point college to point now                   

Relationships - getting into, out of, and over them


  Wisdom(?) - it will be if it ends up being right...

Each category will feature 6-7 posts, some edited from their original for book essay format, plus a never-before-read essay in each category.




Starch-crossed Lovers - the Laundro-Matt tale from start to how it actually finished...

New stories that round out the "experience" from the point where the posts left off. 

Plus -- if I can figure out a way to do this that suits my conscience and her comfort -- a photo of Anna!! (no promises here).

No, I don't intend to drop a copy of this book off in his mailbox, Mom.

Both 20-Nothings and Starch-Crossed Lovers will be available for affordable purchase on my eventual storefront via Blurb.com - the genius interface through which I am self-publishing - and (if I can figure it out) via this very blog. Stay-tuned for directions to the finished products!  

I'll be light on the posting here for the next two weeks as I finish both manuscripts and prep for publishing, so apologies in advance.  

And many, many more thanks for your loyalty, encouragement, and endless help throughout all 300 installments of this little blog that could.

Could what?, you wonder...

Let's find out.   

Friday, August 14, 2009

The "Kiddo" of Death


You think things are going fairly well.

Maybe you've hooked up once or twice.  Perhaps you connected really well at some bar or house party.  Could be you went on what you believed was a bonafide date.  

Then this text: hey kiddo - going to be late to the bar but c u there ltr

Or this email: hey kiddo - sure I'd be up for that movie.  Let me know when you were thinking of going. Cool?  Later.

Or this voicemail (though I maintain guys don't leave voicemail): hey kiddo, it's _______, nah I'm not going to be down the shore this weekend, but have fun.

You thought wrong. 

I firmly - and with strong support from several normal males - maintain that the "kiddo" is conclusive.  It says, "I think you are adorable, wonderful, fun, my good friend, generally attractive, but in no way do I see myself legitimately dating you."

You're wrinkling your face.  Don't you wrinkle your face at me yet. Consider:

Many - no - most salutations do not include the word "kiddo."  The go "hey" or "hi" or "Jessie-" or they just launch right into whatever needs to be said.  The kiddo is a deliberate addition.  Consider further:

The purpose of a salutation is to launch into communication with a set tone.  "Dear Sir" - you're formal.  "Morning Mom!" - you're asking for money.  "Listen," - you're about to flip your shit. We go, "how'm I feeling? what'm I saying?" and then translate that into the first words of our message sos to lay it out there. 

And so, as Matt so eloquently noted over beef bone marrow and pork tongue at dinner club last night (and that's no easy task), "yes, it's a forced effort to make things more casual."  

It is.  And unlike a guy who says, "dude!" at you before he launches into conversation - since I know that's the argument you're about to bring up - the kiddo moniker has an air of little sister about it.  I won't go so far as to call it demeaning -- it's certainly not meant to be -- but it speaks to this guy viewing you as sweet, little, sisterly.  Those are not feelings you wed to hotness or passion.  Dude is current, modern, almost like saying "like" in between every other word.  It's just the way we speak.  Kiddo does not qualify as such.  But also, if a guy consistently referred to me as dude I'd ask him to stop.  

Druckman concurs over gchat:
  • me: druck - have a second for a quick question?
  • Druckman: absolutely
  • me: guy calls you (a girl) "kiddo" - kiss of death?
  • Druckman: I don't like it
  • Druckman: awkward, fartherly type conotation  - maybe even a little demeaning - sp.?
Demeaning was spelled right, conotation wasn't - Druckman should be trusted regardless. 

Regarding the difference between kiddo and kid - as in the famous "here's look at you..."  Yeah, he loved her at one point throwing support to the nicknaming game, but that was 1942 and - SPOILER ALERT - he leaves her. 

So I'm not saying it's a guarantee, a 100% of cases, or a surefire sign - but I'd take pause at a "kiddo" and at two or three or four, I'd start calling him squirt.   

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Were we really adults before?



Sometimes the best way to understand what it means to be a new-ish adult is to stop being one.

That's what Angela, the title character from the web series 2/8 LIFE (get it?) does in episode one of the show's second season. She moves out of the adult apartment she shared with 3-sometimes-4-sometimes friends and back into a cereal-stocked house where tickets to the Miley Cyrus show are just a Dad's credit card swipe away. I'd argue she stopped being an adult when she bought those tickets, but the idea is, she checked out of "independent life" and back into a world where things are just handled -- car insurance, cable bill, laundry -- all life's least pleasantries.


Brian, Angela's former roommate who secretly loves her (because this is scripted television) tries to convince her to re-enter adult society . "Well, don't you miss being an adult?" Brian asks. To which Angela convincingly responds, "I guess that's my point - were we really adults before?"

Trust me -- you're not an adult because you live in an apartment with other people your age and not your parents. You're not even really an adult just because you have a job that you can't skip whenever you're hungover slash a particularly compelling 8:30am Saved by the Bell is on. I don't think you even really qualify as an adult if you consistently cook for yourself; Matilda did that when she was 3 years old.


To me it's the stuff Angela is so willing to give up - life paper work and forward mobility. You're an adult when pay your own car insurance, do your own taxes, manage your own health benefits, and pay a credit card bill in a manner that does not forever destroy your credit. And, even more importantly, when you do all those things as part of a greater plan to continue doing those things while also saving money in something I'm told is called a Roth IRA (Abby, please confirm).


Forgive the soap box, but not all 21-30 year old's qualify. Yes, age is just a number, but "adult" isn't just an age.


Angela's right. She wasn't really an adult before. Whining about trying to figure out how to be an adult doesn't qualify (watch season one -- all on hulu now!). But if real adult is the goal of 2/8 LIFE Season 2, I'm eager to see what steps Angela takes. And as a battle cry I offer her the inspiring words the St. Francis High School Gospel Choir sings under the direction of the incomparable Sister Mary Clarence: "If you wanna be somebody - if you wanna go somewhere -- you gotta wake up and paaaaay attention."


Maybe Angela will do that throughout the rest of the season, or maybe she'll just get a bird and call that parenting...

...proving that sometimes the best way to understand what it means to be a new-ish adult is to watch someone fail at it miserably.


Wednesday, August 12, 2009

SWF seeks member of Obama family tree for superior genes, access to Michelle

Finding my Obama

There's no question that Barack Obama was a smart guy to marry -- brains, looks, charm, American presidency -- just the kind of guy you could bring home to Mom. So it would only seem logical that a relative of our Husband-in-Chief would possess those same qualities that made Barry so datable in the first place. He would be a catch.


This piece follows my likely mad-cap journey to find and go on a date with a member of the Barack Obama family tree (Michelle's side included...she's just as good if not better).


I sent the above pitch to my editor at The Daily Beast. His response: "If anyone can pull it off, you can."

And with that I have to pull it off. I have to research the extensive family trees of Barack and Michelle Obama, find access points to contact key members who might be willing to help me, follow their trail to an eligible male family member, and get that man to take me on a date.

This makes the Laundro-Matt story look like child's play.

I'm going to need as much help as exists, hence the blog cry for help:
  • Do you or does anyone you know work for the President or Mrs. Obama?
  • Are you or is anyone you know/are related to from the Obama's neighborhood in Chicago?
  • Have you ever gone through the process of searching a random person's family tree (Carly, I feel like you have...)
  • What are your thoughts on my creating a simple youtube video (set to song, perhaps?) that makes my pitch to whatever Obama is out there? I could be like ObamaGirl but Obama-Relative Girl...
  • Would Oprah help? If so, how do I get to her?
It's not every day that someone you don't technically know asks you to help them get a date with a member of the Obama clan (yes, I am counting people married in -- no direct blood line necessary). Why not make today the day you dig deep and say, YES I CAN!

(let the puns, word plays and metaphors begin)

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Exclusive advice from William H. Macy

William H. Macy recently told my friend Kim that if she kept working hard, getting herself out there and not burning any bridges she'd know everyone she needed to get anything done by the time she was 31.

No. Not via twitter.

Backstory: My friend Kim, witty Kim, is a reporter for Broadway.com. As such she interviews stars of the stage like "Call me Bill" Macy about their upcoming projects. In a recent interview with the Academy Award-nominated actor (Best Supporting, Fargo) Kim decided to go out on a limb and ask W.H. about his experience starting The Atlantic Theater Company with his long-time best friend David Mamet.

The Atlantic Theater company was founded in a studio apartment on a broken futon over whatever the late '70s version of Ramen Noodles was (frozen quiche?). Macy was an "actor" from nowhere with no work to speak of. He had previously studied veterinary medicine. Mamet was a "writer" no one had ever read who got into the industry by working as a busboy at Second City in Chicago. Macy met Mamet at Goddard College in Vermont which is not to be confused with Yale because it's not Yale -- or really even that good a school at all.

Point being -- these were not Steven Speilberg's kids -- or Steven Speilerg's neighbor's kids....or -- enough -- they weren't in any way connected.

Back to the interview.

Kim leveled with Bill to qualify her question. She explained that she's currently going through that same process of starting a small theater and arts production company -- the now solidly on its feet Effable Arts (fan them on Facebook!) with a group of actor/writer/producer/artist friends.

And then owing to a good mood, fatherly-feeling, or love of witty women -- Macy dropped some serious knowledge on Kim. He walked her through his process. He recommended what her next steps should be. He told her to not look back and not take no for an answer -- and for a Danny Tanner-inspired finish he hit her with that pearl of wisdom about keeping contacts and bridges strong so you have everything you need for success by 31.

I have not a single idea about where I'll be when I'm 31 years old. I'm not even sure I could tell you where I want to be then, so it's hard to imagine that if I just keep doing what I'm doing, knowing who I'm knowing, and not pissing anyone off that come the big 3-1 I can place a few calls and the puzzle pieces will jump into place.

It's hard for Kim to image that too, but that hasn't stopped her from founding the theater company (with fellow No "No" For An Answer talent Brad and Meredith), reaching out to every contact she currently has, and laying the ground work for a network of 24-27-year-old go-getters who will -- if all goes according to plan -- all turn 31 at some point in the next five years. How famous they'll be -- how famous she'll be -- how famous William H. Macy will be then is question mark. But how any of them will be if they do nothing instead of something is a given.

So with that -- William H. Macy and I recommend you go directly to EffableArts.com, see what Kim, Brad, and Meredith have going on, and hell - why not contribute $5 to help them make it happen (Donate! on the top nav bar). Part of that donation will go toward helping them stage my very first play over Labor Day weekend. (September 5th -- details online!).
And yes, I do intend to tell people that I wrote a play because William H. Macy told my friend Kim I should.

Monday, August 10, 2009

The strongest woman I've never met

You think you know what it means to be a strong woman -- a strong person even -- and then you read this essay.

"Sure, you have your marital issues, but on the whole you feel so self-satisfied about how things have worked out that you would never, in your wildest nightmares, think you would hear these words from your husband one fine summer day: 'I don’t love you anymore. I’m not sure I ever did. I’m moving out. The kids will understand. They’ll want me to be happy.'"

If you don't read Modern Love -- the New York Times' Sunday Styles essay on love and relationships -- start today.  This and all the stories that appear within are incredible accounts of what the human will/brain/spirit is capable of, but so far none have affected me quite as much as this piece. 

"Here’s a visual: Child throws a temper tantrum. Tries to hit his mother. But the mother doesn’t hit back, lecture or punish. Instead, she ducks. Then she tries to go about her business as if the tantrum isn’t happening. She doesn’t “reward” the tantrum. She simply doesn’t take the tantrum personally because, after all, it’s not about her."

It was through this lens that the author decided to view her husband's decision to be done.  And I say decided because you've got to believe some if not most parts of her wanted to say "good luck to you" or "how dare you" or "ouch."

"'I don’t love you anymore. I’m not sure I ever did.'

His words came at me like a speeding fist, like a sucker punch, yet somehow in that moment I was able to duck. And once I recovered and composed myself, I managed to say, 'I don’t buy it.' Because I didn’t.  He drew back in surprise. Apparently he’d expected me to burst into tears, to rage at him, to threaten him with a custody battle. Or beg him to change his mind.

So he turned mean. 'I don’t like what you’ve become.'

Gut-wrenching pause. How could he say such a thing? That’s when I really wanted to fight. To rage. To cry. But I didn’t. Instead, a shroud of calm enveloped me, and I repeated those words: 'I don’t buy it.'"


It's jarring to read.  It must have been even more jarring to hear.  What it felt like to say - oh my god I hope I never have to know.

The story goes on to paint the picture of a man whose career struggles had turned him unhappy with life in general.  He'd experienced failure in one area and decided change in all areas was what he needed.  For many, many people this may be true.  For the author's husband -- in the author's opinion -- it wasn't. 

And so she said to him, "'There are times in every relationship when the parties involved need a break. What can we do to give you the distance you need, without hurting the family?”

“Huh?” he said.

“Go trekking in Nepal. Build a yurt in the back meadow. Turn the garage studio into a man-cave. Get that drum set you’ve always wanted. Anything but hurting the children and me with a reckless move like the one you’re talking about.”


It gets more wow with ever paragraph you read.

Yes, she thought it might be another woman.  Yes, she considered a hidden drug addiction.  Sure she was absolutely furious and hurt and confused, but those emotions weren't constructive to her goal of a. letting her husband have the "tantrum" he obviously needed and b. keeping their family protected and intact while the storm passed.

Now this is where it gets incredibly hard to swallow. 

"Well, he didn’t move out.

Instead, he spent the summer being unreliable. He stopped coming home at his usual six o’clock. He would stay out late and not call. He blew off our entire Fourth of July — the parade, the barbecue, the fireworks — to go to someone else’s party. When he was at home, he was distant. He wouldn’t look me in the eye. He didn’t even wish me “Happy Birthday.”

But I didn’t play into it. I walked my line. I told the kids: 'Daddy’s having a hard time as adults often do. But we’re a family, no matter what.' I was not going to suffer. And neither were they.

MY trusted friends were irate on my behalf. 'How can you just stand by and accept this behavior? Kick him out! Get a lawyer!'

I walked my line with them, too. This man was hurting, yet his problem wasn’t mine to solve. In fact, I needed to get out of his way so he could solve it."


And then she gave him 6 months to show some signs of turning around -- except she never told him the time limit had been set.  Time and accomplishment inside that time was his problem; knowing he had a limit would only make matters worse, she decided. 

"I simply had come to understand that I was not at the root of my husband’s problem. He was. If he could turn his problem into a marital fight, he could make it about us. I needed to get out of the way so that wouldn’t happen."

The author describes the bad, low, miserable days she had within that 6 month window, and you just want to scream reading them!  You want to say, "you don't deserve this!" and "this guy's an asshole" and "don't you have the self respect to be treated better!!??"  

But you know she'll say, "it's not about what I deserve right now" and "this guy's behavior is that of an asshole, but deep down he isn't" and "I am taking my own approach to showing him that I deserve to be treated better."

And you think -- once again -- wow. 

"Instead of issuing ultimatums, yelling, crying or begging, I presented him with options. I created a summer of fun for our family and welcomed him to share in it, or not — it was up to him. If he chose not to come along, we would miss him, but we would be just fine, thank you very much. And we were.

And, yeah, you can bet I wanted to sit him down and persuade him to stay. To love me. To fight for what we’ve created. You can bet I wanted to.

But I didn’t.

I barbecued. Made lemonade. Set the table for four. Loved him from afar.
"

I want to be clear.  This "approach" is not for everyone.  Some relationships are truly abusive and should be escaped for safety reasons.  Some relationships prove irreconcilable way faster than a 6 month trial period.  And sometimes simply hearing "I don't love you anymore; I'm not sure I ever did" is absolutely enough to walk away forever.  In this case -- for this woman -- for many very person reasons -- it wasn't.

Read the end of the essay; I can't do the final story justice, but these last thoughts from the author are, to me, the most fascinating:

"When life’s knocked us around. And our childhood myths reveal themselves to be just that. The truth feels like the biggest sucker-punch of them all: it’s not a spouse or land or a job or money that brings us happiness. Those achievements, those relationships, can enhance our happiness, yes, but happiness has to start from within. Relying on any other equation can be lethal.


My husband had become lost in the myth. But he found his way out. We’ve since had the hard conversations. In fact, he encouraged me to write about our ordeal. To help other couples who arrive at this juncture in life. People who feel scared and stuck. Who believe their temporary feelings are permanent. Who see an easy out, and think they can escape."

I have not been through a 20 year marriage or career failure, and I do not have kids or even a dog watching me go through those things, or things as little as a bad day, so I can't relate to this story in the traditional sense.  But the idea that we're sometimes not really who we are but only temporary struggling versions of ourselves reeling from effects (environmental, societal, peer pressure induced) that we can't even source is a very real feeling.

This man was lucky to have someone who knew him well enough and loved him unselfishly enough to help him work through that.  Is that a case for or against marriage?  For or against unconditional love? 

Out of respect and admiration I'll take the author's approach.  I'll say "for".

Friday, August 7, 2009

At 26: Mom, me, and choice


Today I turn the age my Mom was when she had me – 26-years-old.

I wonder if it’s a uniquely female thing for that to matter – to arrive at the age your Mom was when she became a mother and go “whoa.”

I like to think of myself as a mature adult -- a fairly together person. I’m proud of myself a coupe times a week. When difficult things come my way I find that I can deal with them sans tantrums. In general I am doing what people would call “well.” Do I act 26? Most of the time. Do I feel 26? Sure, I guess I’d say I do.

But could I have a child at some point during this 26th year of my life? OHMYGODNO. NO NO NO NO NO.

Do I know how to care for a baby? Yes, enough. I have those three little sisters. Would I at 26 – my version of 26, not my Mom’s – destroy the life of a child? No, not at all. I know all my lullabyes. It’s just that 95% of my life would have to change drastically in order to shift from my current mode – let’s call it work/write/drink/eat/fun mode – to bear and care for children mode – I believe that involves saving money/not sleeping/Mom jeans/and an elevator building if not actual back yard.

That, right now, I cannot do because I don't want to.

Not having children is a choice at any age, but so is every piece of the single, 26-year-old lifestyle. At 26 I remain un-beholden to anyone but myself (and my family because I love them, but even that’s a choice). I make decisions every day that affect the kind of 26-year-old I am. 

I live in a city and as such my savings account is similar to a joke. I work in a the media industry which means long hours and low pay. I write as much as I can on the side which makes for early morning and some very late nights. I have a close network of friends, so all remaining spare time is spent organizing things to do in the city with that group.

I could write less. I could make more money at a different job. I could spend differently (namely less…). I could be in a relationship (I maintain that most people could be in a relationship if any relationship was the goal). But I would have to adjust lots of little pieces of my life to shift into making those things possible.

No, not everything is planned, but most major decisions come at the cost of something else. I believe these are referred to as sacrifices, but that’s always sounded like such a bummer. Let's call them cause/effects.

The question is when those cause/effects start to shift -- when you know it’s time to put one priority above another-- especially as you're turning the corner on your mid-twenties -- especially now that people are starting to say, "you know, you're not getting any younger.." Was I ever?? 

You hear people say, “then I decided to settle down” or “it was around then that I knew it was time to be in a relationship” or “I just knew the time was right for a career change.” How do they know? What happens?

As I was thinking about turning 26 – and what my Mom was doing as she was turning 26 (her birthday is in June, so she was doing 7 months pregnant things) I thought about what I’d be willing to give up to get some of the things some other 26-year-olds have.  What causes would I take up to effect other results?  Would I trade X to have Y or Z? Would I shift my attention from A to B so I could make my way to C? If someone told me I could have _____________, but I’d have to stop my ______________, would I do it?

We are the sum of our choices – trite but true - from as early on as we understand the concept of choice.  But I think we sometimes forget that in choosing one thing, we're also choosing not another.  This isn't an argument against having "it all" (there's no argument, you can't -- but that's for another day).  This is just a newly 26-year-old woman (who still feels like she should be referred to as "girl") realizing what she loves about her life but what she could and might soon leave behind now that with each passing year the future changes focus. 


Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Bianca and Olivier gchat on the sex # issue

The following is a real, unedited gchat conversation between 27-year-old-male and female friends around this issue of sex numbers -- and some other fascinating stuff. Names have been changed for protection slash humor -- and I also cut out a section where "Olivier" talks about "how many mexicans he has under his belt." You don't even want to know.


Read. Digest. Judge. Comment.

  • Bianca: OMG did you get an email from jessie about # of sex partner

  • Olivier: yeah but i forgot to respond

  • Bianca: if you liked a girl - and she had slept with 50 dudes - what would you think of that

  • Olivier: i would think...seeeee ya later - id stop liking her - what would u think abouta guy with 50?

  • Bianca: eh, probs think he was kind of dirty - idk - if someone tells you 50, and thinks there's nothing wrong with that....I mean, come on! be smart enough to lie to me - hahahaha

  • Olivier: hahaa - it's different though

  • Bianca: because someone could have only 2 - who happen to be like best friends - or sisters - or something - that's dirtier

  • Olivier: hahaha yes - regardless of anything, there's a gender difference here - the age old double standard -- and like it or not, it still holds true. So what im getting at is this. If a guy fucks 50 girls, it's like he succeeded -- if a girl does the same, it's like she failed…your’e probably gonna react sharply to that

  • Bianca: do you agree wtih that yourself? do you TRULY admire a dude who's slept with tons and tons of girls?!

  • Olivier: not in those black and white terms -- but i definitely think about both cases differently. No, i wouldnt say i admire or even aspire to that, but how about this - would you say that if you liked a guy who was a virgin? or slept with only 1 girl - -would that...umm let's use the phrase "turn you off" at least slightly?

  • Bianca: ummm not a turn off – but it wouldn't get me all pumped to sleep with them – hahahahha - I think guys wouldn't mind that as much

  • Olivier: right, basically the lower # a girl has, the better

  • Bianca: it depends

  • Olivier: the virgin thing is debatable

  • Bianca: a virgin -yikes

  • Olivier: the virgin thing is a lifelong debate with valid points on both sides

  • Bianca: one girl - a long relationship? could be amazing - it's all just case by case

  • Olivier: personally, at this point i wouldnt want a virgin

  • Bianca: there'd be a LOT of pressure

  • Olivier: but above zero, the lower the better

  • Bianca: like, I think I'm more attracted to more laid-back people

  • Olivier: and i think i speak for at the very least 99% of all Pierren

  • Bianca: I think people's numbers should be based on the last 5 years

  • Olivier: so if a guy has a low number -- a too-low number -- that can be undesirable or not great

  • Bianca: no no

  • Olivier: no? i thought u said yes, in certain terms

  • Bianca: well - I guess it depends on the terms, yes -- I don't feel like teaching someone how to do it

  • Olivier: right

  • Bianca: even tho most guys require that anyway - no offense

  • Olivier: but what about the idea that there might be something wrong with him if his # is too low - like, he wasn’t able to get more than 2 girls to sleep with him?? why am i sleeping with him?

  • Bianca: I wouldn't think soPierrething's wrong with HIM, but his skills might not be so hot

  • Olivier: that thought process doesnt happen?

  • Bianca: nah

  • Olivier: hmm – interesting

  • Bianca: because a dude who's slept with 100s of girls probably just picked up dog

  • Olivier: probably, but what about a guy with 15? - vs. a guy with 2-3

  • Bianca: I don't know

  • Olivier: case by case

  • Bianca: I can't answer hypothetical’s -- I don't think rationally if I like someone

  • Olivier: fair- hahahaha

  • Bianca: I like them - and chances are - I won't like the type of guy who's banged out everyone on the planet - but the diff between 3 and 15 -- eh? Also - I fully expect that everybody lies

  • Olivier: ok, this is another topic

  • Bianca: I mean maybe not, I just automatically assume people aren't being honest

  • Olivier: girls deflate, guys inflate?

  • Bianca: about their past -- yeah, probably -- or not – OMG - I just think it's a pointless topic of discussion!! even though we discussed it the other night --- it's futile – OMG I have like a million questions about hte male race

  • Olivier: hahahaha

  • Bianca: well here's one - if a girl sleeps over - do you expect she's going to sleep with you?

  • Olivier: no

  • Bianca: see you're a bad example because I feel like you're actually a stand-up guy

  • Olivier: well

  • Bianca: I want to talk to some dirty asshole who will make me mad!

  • Olivier: i dont expect it...but im still disappointed if it doesnt happen - and it also depends on the events up until then

  • Bianca: haha but aren't you disappointed if it doesn't happen – like - you always want the end result to be sex - because you're a boy

  • Olivier: aaah - well yeah but there's a realistic chance of it happening if she’s sleeping over

  • Bianca: what if you like soPierreone and she gives it up right off the bat - turn off? - I say yes

  • Olivier: if I like her, yeah - as in - if I like who she is - more than physical - if it's just physical - then no, not a turn off

  • Bianca: right - like if you would consider dating her - but then she sleeps with you, deal's off?

  • Olivier: i wouldnt rule it out...no, not a dealbreaker - just not ideal - and I’d investigate further

  • Bianca: hahahaha - talk about a double standard

  • Olivier: yeah - that's a tough one for girls, i admit

  • Bianca: see, but I think girls agree with that - like if I like a guy I'm not going to sleep with him - and I know plenty of girls who would want to - but hold out for the very reason they know it'll be a turn-off

  • Olivier: yeah, sure - but if he likes you back, then he'll like you more -- and it’ll eventually happen -- if u both like each other

  • Bianca: exactly - well it's kind of true what your mom always tells you -- like don't give up the cow thing

  • Olivier: if he doesnt like u back, then hes prob still going to try to sleep with you anyway, at least one more shot, and then maybe youll sleep with him -- so worst case, u end up having sex either way – wait -- the cow thing?? - what's that?

  • Bianca: he won't buy the cow if he can get the milk for free

  • Olivier: hahahahhaahhhhahahahahahhaa -- wow

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Others said - hell yeah I want to know

Change of schedule -- this one before the candid convo.

Representing the other side of the argument -- the ask and tell side -- is the other half of the respondents from yesterday's post. Their rationale's are equally well thought out and effective meaning we're essentially no where on this issue...

Read on:

26, female, in a relationship

So...I was always of the philosophy, "Dont' ask, don't tell." I had absolutely no desire to know how many people a guy has slept with before hooking up me. I consider myself a pretty self confident woman, but that is torture! It makes me all oddly jealous and insecure and I hate both of those things. It always makes me feel like shit. Sex is something that is very important to me and I hope to pick partners who feel the same way. And sure, maybe he has a past, but I've learned from mine and I like to hope he's learned from his...I don't need to hear about it.

That being said, I upheld this personal philosophy with my current boyfriend for a good 6 months. Right or wrong, it was only after than long that I knew I could handle knowing his number without going apeshit. (Perhaps noteworthy that I had gathered his number was much higher than mine.) So, I ballparked his number high, and then when I asked, it was lower! Everyone wins. And I was confident enough in our relationship that I knew he only wanted to be with me, blah blah blah.

26, male, married

I had a talk with all of my girlfriends in high school and college while we were dating about our sexual histories. I thought it was good to know where we were starting from. If we know what each other is comfortable with while we have our clothes on, it limits the possibility of surprises/awkwardness/uneasiness once they're off. In terms of quantifying too many or too few, no number high or low would be a dealbreaker; that's not to say high and low numbers did not catch my attention. If the number was low (0-1) I want to be sure to be respectful and have an idea early on what's cool and what's not just yet. If the number was higher (I'd say more than 4) I'd want to make clear that I am a slow mover and would hope that would fly.

The more I think about it, though, the more I think a person's history is their history, and if I fall in love with someone, I fall in love with the whole package. So as I said above, many sex partners wouldn't be a dealbreaker for me even today, but it would be a signal to me to initiate a conversation about our attitudes toward sex.

27, female, single

I think eventually in a relationship I would ask, just out of curiosity, because I think it's one of those things that just tells you more about a person (along the same lines of how many serious relationships they've been in, when they lost their virginity, all that kind of stuff).

So, I guess my answer is "Yes, eventually," but I don't think I would take their answer account anymore in my decision whether or not to seriously proceed with them. That being said, if their answer was more than 20, I would probably have some follow-up questions. 20 is somewhat arbitrary, and does sound like an awful lot, but I just feel like guys sleep around a lot!

28, female, single-ish

Yes, of course I want to know! I don't know what I'll do with the info yet, but I'm pretty sure I want to at least have it. Would you date someone who never told you how they voted in a single election ever? Or if they have any strange medical history in their background. Or, here's a good one, how would you feel if you later found out someone had seen a therapist for a bunch of years on account of whatever issues? I can't decide if those things are the same, but they feel similar...

If you say - that's ridiculous it's just sex, it's not that big a deal? Then why don't you want to know? And if you say - it's sex, it's such a big deal that I can't handle knowing, well then what does that say?

I think people want to tell themselves that the # of people they've slept with means nothing, but I think by this point in my life I finally disagree. It means something. I don't know what exactly, but whatever it is, I want to go into a serious relationship at least having the option of figuring it out.

Jessessment

Almost all these positions are rooted in the fact that these people think your sexual behavior is telling. It means something about how you view sex? how you view yourself? how you view the world after one too many drinks? I don't know. I don't even know how I feel about telling or not in the first place.

But with that question still unanswered we've arrived at another: what does your number say about you? And what would your significant other -- if they want to know that is -- hope that number is (or is at least under...) when they ask?

Tomorrow, two people's opinions.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Some said - Don't Ask, Don't Tell


As promised, the first in a series of follows-ups from the halvsies post last week. Thank you for your patience Greenberg.

I reached out to 10 guys and 10 girls on the issue of whether or not to share your sex number with your significant number. Exactly half of the people (who responded….) reported that they strictly follow the Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell policy. Here are a few of their rationales:

26, in a serious committed relationship.

I do not want to know, nor will I ask my girlfriend about how many people she has slept with. It doesn't really matter. It's not something I can control, and it could potentially, for no reason, affect the way I look at her because without meaning to we all set expectations for the person we're dating. If the number is big, what am I supposed to do about it? And if it's miniscule, unless she is self-conscious about it, I have trouble seeing how it will help the relationship or my state of mind to know. If she wanted to talk about it, then I wouldn't challenge her desire to tell me, but it would never be something I'd ask for.

Plus, I do not have a list or a number myself. I neither am ashamed nor proud of having slept with a certain number of people. Each is an individual case/circumstance, so to be able to judge something by simply a number would be... unfair, I guess is the best way to put it. If the girl I was dating was healthy, faithful, and had slept with 500 people, what does that say about her? I don't have an answer.

 27, engaged

I make it a policy never to ask that question. In fact, I'd go so far as to include "never discuss how many sexual partners either party has had in the past" as one of my relationship 10 commandments. I'd probably place it pretty high on the list.

Reasoning, in the form of bullets:

First and foremost, what is there to gain from this? You gain a little insight into your partner's sexual history. I suppose that's useful in the sense that it probably indicates something about what type of person he is, but I think there are much better and less stressful ways to glean a person's sexual philosophy and certainly better ways to figure out what type of person he is.

What if the number is (much) higher than yours? Then maybe you feel inadequate. Maybe you feel threatened by that. Maybe you think he/she's a manwhore/slut. If you like everything else about the person, why risk marring it with something that *probably* isn't all that consequential (I'm making the assumption here that, while you probably make judgments about people based on sexual history, etc., it's probably not really part of your fundamental value system - i.e., a deal breaker. Maybe it is though...)

What if the number is (much) lower than yours? Now maybe you feel self conscious about your own promiscuity. Maybe now you worry that the other person will eventually drop you because they want to experiment more.

(Those last two bullets probably scream "INSECURITY HERE!" but I think in terms of this particular topic, everyone is a little insecure.)

We often say that there are certain things you really can't take back, so you should be careful what you say to people. I think this is a similar situation. You can't un-ring this bell. Once you know each other's numbers, you have to deal with the consequences.

Also - In the case that you were friends with the person before you were dating, you probably know a decent amount about his sexual history. So if you find out the exact number and it's a couple off from where you thought it was, you'll kill yourself wondering who the others are (at least you will if you're obsessive like me). Or if it's *much* higher, you'll be weirded out that this person was keeping so many secrets from you.

As I said, I make it a rule never to ask, and I also make it a rule never to tell. My fiancé has actually tried to bring it up before, and I've always said "I don't think it would be good for our relationship to discuss it. I don't know anything about your sexual history (other than obvious boyfriends) and you don't know anything about mine (other than obvious girlfriends). Why don't we just keep it that way and enjoy our own sexual relationship and never have to worry about thinking about this stuff?"

That being said, if she *really* pushed for it, I would tell her. But I still wouldn't want to know.

And 26, single

No, because I wouldn't want her to ask me. Then I have to lie to make myself not seem like a douche :)

Jessessment

You’d think the don’t ask don’t tell policy would be put in place because “who cares” but much like the actual version -- it's because they do -- very much. They’re uncertain about what meaning their partner’s sex number holds, but acknowledge that that meaning, while not founded in logic or really anything concrete, holds the power to unnecessarily affect the relationship. Don’t ask don’t tell is both a preventative measure and a trust issue. It’s saying, I don’t want something we can’t control and don’t really know how to appropriately value come between us and also, I trust that you want to be with me and that our sexual relationship is now the only one that matters.

Of course to some people omissions are more problematic than truths, for a lot of reasons.

Their rationale’s on Wednesday. Tomorrow – one very candid convo between two people trying to make sense of this issue.