Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The bullshit of opportunity cost

I was gchatting with a friend who wants to leave his job to pursue a life of not his job about how exactly he'll go about making money should he leave. For the time-being said friend needs to keep his current job, so he'll stay identified as "a friend."

This friend is one of those modern renaissance men - a writer, graphic artist, video producing stage manager type who's dabbled in theater and fashion (if you count be-dazzling suspenders for a Lady Gaga concert, which you should). He has a good job writing for a major publication - a job many people would die for, and a job that could become a fantastic career. Problem is - it's not a job he would die for, and it's not a career he wants. And to make matters more frustrating, it's one of those "incredible opportunity" jobs - which in Manhattan is code for pays shit and consumes your life.

What does he want? He isn't sure, but it definitely doesn't fall inside the box of traditional careers. "Well, will staying at this job help you in this or other careers?" I asked him as we played 20-questions, should-I-leave-my-job? edition. "I don't want a career," he responded.

It was the most honest and relatable thing I'd heard (since that St. Patty's Day convo).

A career - the way most people think of it - is a trajectory inside a sector of employment. You have a career in journalism, a career in media, a successful career in law, education, finance. You pick a path and march up its ladder toward whatever level you can reach. Specific things get you there, specific things don't - end scene.

This friend isn't interest in any one thing with any one title. He wants to create some things, participate in creating some others then figure out what he likes next and go make some of that. Maybe that means writing? designing? producing? entrepreneuring? He doesn't know, and right now that's not his question. His question is how he's supposed to get to any of that if his 9-to-9's are spent slaving at a career he doesn't want for a paycheck that amounts to little more than he'd make at a Baby Gap.

"Your opportunity cost is out of wack," I told him as we discussed the merits of staying versus going. "Even though you have a good situation at a good company, what they're paying you isn't worth what they're costing you in opportunity."

If that isn't the plight of the 20-something "creative" I don't know what is.

We (well, many among us) need jobs for money and money for survival. So we get jobs that make sense and offer potentially great career projection. Then we decide we don't want the careers we're projecting towards, but don't know how to A. figure out how to make money off what we do want and B. figure out how to make better money until we survive.

Find me a job that pays tons and takes very little time and effort(that isn't being a professional egg donor), and I'll get on the waiting list of would-be creatives begging to work there.

So then the question - and my friend's question - becomes one of those simple ones that's annoyingly impossible to answer:

How much is your current grind preventing you from getting what you really want?

Enough to make what little money you're paid totally worthless? Enough to make you leave it behind to bar tend?

How much do you not want your career to leave it behind and do life from 24 on without one?

All we truly need to survive is some money, some health insurance, a place to live, and Top Ramen to eat. So then to my friend the question becomes not if to step out of the rat race but how? You can't google, how to leave job and become creator of TBD things (but if you do - just for fun - you'll get this).

Opportunity cost is a tricky bitch in the life of this city's 24-year-olds. The "careers" of the world have you by the balls, the Baby Gaps employ a steady stream of actors, and "creator" isn't something you can list on a LinkedIn profile.

So what's a guy like my friend to do? I don't know, but we'll figure it out. And in the meantime, if I read the TIME "What the Healthcare Bill means for you" article correctly - at least he's still young enough to get covered under his parent's health insurance.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Are all guys really looking for three girls, three ways?

I got involved in a chat the other night about the different types of girls you can come across slash date with a guy who happens to be seeing more than one type. Our conversation was about girls as characters - not like, "that Jessie...she's such a character" - or, "that Jessie, she has good character..." like if I were to structure a screenplay with three archetypes of women, what characters would they embody. Typical Sunday at 5pm phone convo...

My mind immediately went to that girls-in-buckets philosophy some member of the male blog board brought up a year or so ago. His world view: guys place girls in one of three buckets almost immediately after meeting them.
  • Three's - no real interest, wouldn't pursue it unless it landed outside his apartment.
  • Two's - attractive, prime for hooking-up and maybe dating a little, but they're juuuust not...
  • Your one's - that bring-home-to-Mom girl. This is the girl you could date, and will likely try to
I know - it's a mine field in and of itself - but point (for now) is that guys categorize the degree to which they're interested in girls almost immediately.

But the question at hand in my convo last night was about guys who aren't necessarily looking for the ONE at the moment - guys who are genuinely attracted to and interested in dating a variety of girls.

Yes, maybe they too can follow the 3-bucket philosophy, but their situation isn't necessarily about absolutes - it's about picking the one you want to date most at a given moment. High class problem for sure, but one that brings up a totally valid question.

How many different varieties of "attracted to" could a guy be? Or maybe, how many "types" of women - not in who they are at their core but in who they are to him - do guys struggle to choose between? Or (thiiink I've got it this time) how many archetypal relationships are there inside the dating realm - in the mind of a guy?

Using zero experience and and 25 or so minutes, I've arrived at three:

  • Your right here, right now girl - instant chemistry, great connection, total attraction factor. It's not all about the sex, but what keeps you attached to this relationship is the lust and zing. She may have an amazing personality, brilliant brain, incredible family, impressive career, but the first thing you think when you think of her is, "wow..." Can you have a happy, healthy, amazing marriage with this woman? I think yes. But when you tell the tale of your first-meeting to your future kids it won't start with, "I was completely intrigued by her career in marine biology..."
  • Your obvious wife material - not your obvious wife material - this is the girl that everyone says is a great girl, the girl everyone says someone should hurry up and marry. To you she's low maintenance, constant fun, easy-going, impressive on a whole host of levels, and just plain great. You like her for a million reasons, but mostly because it's a simple, logical, lovely fit. "Isn't she sweet?" you say. "We agree on so many issues," you say. She's the girl you want to call to just watch a movie on a Friday night because you know it will be an easy, fun, low-key time. Things fall into a quick routine because you know what you can expect from this girl.
  • Your Rachel (you being Ross...) - there's really no way to explain your relationship with this girl. It's complicated. You've loved her, hated her, and then loved her again. You date her because you want to, but nothing about it is traditionally easy. She's the girl who gets in your head and keeps you thinking and makes you crazy. Maybe she's the girl you don't ever really date because you know that once you do it'll either be marriage or disownment. In two words, it's complicated. In two more... it's special...

Are there more types? Maybe, but this seems to cover a lot of situations I've experienced and heard about guys being in. Is it as simple as the girl you want with your head, the girl you want with your heart, and the girl you want with you man parts?

A girl can be three different types to three different guys. A guy can want a different one of the three types a million different times. But are there ever really any different relationships than the one's that make you hot, the one's that make you crazy, and the one's that make sense?

Maybe. That'll be for another Sunday phone conversation. And perhaps in that one we'll figure out which of the three most guys will surrender to in the end...

Thursday, March 25, 2010

The Why-we're-single Series: because we think we're going out to meet people, but we're not

There is a difference between going out to meet guys and going out to be met by guys. A big difference. Same applies to the guys-meeting-girls scenario, but I like guys so we'll take it from that angle.

Going out to be met by guys consists of the following steps:

  1. Gchat many friends throughout entire work day to determine whether or not you should go out
  2. Determine you should not go out

  3. Start gmail chain to determine where you will go out

  4. Suggest in one gmail of gmail chain: "we should go somewhere where there will be boys!"

  5. 34-65 gmails later - align on time and location

  6. Receive email from friend who's been radio silent for 9 hours derailing all plans

  7. Repeat steps 2 through 4, annoyed

  8. Get gussied up in a way befitting of the venue

  9. Gather at Benny's Burritos for one to two $3 margaritas for purpose of saving money/going to Benny's Burritos

  10. Arrive at venue

  11. Stand around boys, dance a little in plain view of boys, walk over to the juke box when boys are there, get in bathroom line which snakes around that of boys bathroom line, wedge self between boys ordering beers at bar

  12. Complain that boys at this bar suck

  13. Leave

I know. They should come talk to you. They should see you dancing and want to join you. They should notice your incredible taste in rock music and ask you out. I get it.
Thing is - they're not... And yes, I have witnessed and experienced exceptions to this rule - and really every rule - but for the purpose of the W.W.S Series, I'm only concerned with the rule.
So then what does going out to meet a guy look like? I'm no expert but I think these are some key elements:
  • Traveling in packs of 2-4 not 5-8 girls - one girl is intimidating to guy, 8 girls are essentially non-existent

  • Positioning yourself among guys so you can talk to them not apart from guys so you can watch them

  • Going to places where talking and hearing can be done in tandem

  • Taking advantage of moments where introductions can be made. And by introductions I mean any conversations starter that is at all sensible in a given situation. As in, if you can read the Beers-on-tap perfectly well with your own eyes but would like help from the guy standing next to you at the bar, ask.
I want guys to see me and feel so compelled to know me that they hurtle all social obstacles present to make that happen. Maybe someday that will happen. Until then, I think it best to apply the Sister Mary Clarence philosophy of life to this and really all situations: "If you want to be somebody, if you want to go somewhere, you better wake up and paaaaayyy attention."
Please re-write per this situation's needs.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The truth is, we all know why we're single.

I stumbled across a post from one "Nick" of Wade the Tides on a post of one "Polly" of The Hitchlist the other day. Nick wrote an impressively detailed expose on why he's single including what appear to be power-point-sourced charts highlighting several of his more mathematic points (...while I contemplate adding videos but think, that seems harder than not adding videos...).

Nick's point: several easy-to-uncover factors contribute to his singledom ergo it's not shocking that he's single. Nick is a heavily tatooed rocket scientistic with very specific taste in women. I think he's suggesting it has something to do with that, but I couldn't quit decipher the chart.

Between five and thirty-five times a month I take a quick assess of my world and think to myself out loud - "why I am single...?" (except: "wa-eeeyyyeee am I siing-gguullll??)

Sometimes it happens when I see a particularly misfit couple (what I call a 10-and-2 - a term I realize applies to proper driving, but I don't participate in that, so I've changed it). Or when I watch some reality television program in which an unacceptable woman is somehow beating sensible men off with a stick. (Dear Stephanie Pratt - wash your hair). Or when I stumble upon pictures of a since de-friended ex via the album of a mutual friend and note the series of clues proving he's dating someone new (it's all in the picture-pose lean...)

Regardless, my sentiment is generally a combo of wtf?! and really? REALLY?!

But, when I step away from Benny's all-you-can-drink Mimosa brunch (like, they keep it in a pitcher and just walk that pitcher over whenever your glass isn't full) and into a place of greater self-awareness (read: a phone call with my Mom) - I find that I, like Nick (sans the charts), could probably tell you precisely why I'm single. (note: not entirely unrelated to Monday's career-obsessed post).

We tend to be all the-universe-is-against-me about the New York dating scene, when in reality it's far more numbers-and-charts than we're willing to admit (slash can understand).

And so in a spirit of growing the hell up I'll be exploring the reasons we're single. Reasons like:
  • because we think we're "going out to meet guys" but we're not
  • because we refuse to do online dating
  • because we don't position ourselves as approachable people
  • because we're waaayy too picky
  • because we want to be single, and guys can tell
Let me be clear - this will not be a series of explorations into why everything is our fault because men are just muscly angels who would love us to pieces if we'd just make ourselves easier to snag. This is - here's the scene, here are the detail, here are our actions - sooo maybe we shouldn't be so shocked.

We start tomorrow with: because we think we're "going out to meet guys" but we're not.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Re-writing the meaning of the "career-obsessed" woman.

A female friend and I were having dinner at an Italian restaurant on St. Patrick's Day because it seemed like too much of a challenge to catch up with all the wasted kelly green polo shirts stumbling around the village.

We spent the first fifteen minutes like we typically do "catching up" about other people, the next fifteen catching up about work stuff (She is building toward being an independent producer, and I'm building toward being independently produced...) until the conversation turned - as it always does when two girls are dinner-ing together - to boys.

  • She segued: "So, have you been seeing anyone lately?"
  • I replied: "No, I'm seeing absolutely no one lately..."
  • To which she, with a sigh said, " too."
And then I said something that I've been thinking for a long time now but haven't quite been able to put into words...

  • "I know I need to put the effort into going out and meeting guys," I said, "And I'd like to be seeing someone great, of course, but when it's between spending time working on that versus time working on my writing or this video thing I started or any of my crazy projects - I just always pick those."
It felt as weird and wrong and awkward to say out loud as it just did to re-type.
  • "No, I know what you mean," she said. "I feel the same way."
  • "Right?" I said, "I think it's because, so far, no guy has been more exciting or seemed more worth it than any of that..."
  • "Yeah," she agreed, "I think we're those career obsessed women they talk about..."
They've been talking about those career-obsessed women for a long time now. Women who put the climb up their ladder of success before more traditional mile-markers of female progress - marriage, home, kids. What they tend to say is that those women struggle to date, get married much later, and delay having kids until - in some cases - it's too late. They say those women want "it all" - the corner office and the picket-fenced-in 2.5 kids, but that they'll find having it all - if it's even possible at all - means a timeline that won't look like that of their less career-driven female peers. And then they say that it takes a confident, patient, equally-career-focused or content-to-let-the-woman-earn-the-pants-man to date slash marry this woman.

They say more, and they say different things too - but those are the generalizations, and anyone who says generalizations are no way to observe life has never been a 26-year-old single woman in Manhattan.

The thing is - I don't feel like that woman. In my head it isn't, "as soon as I sell a screenplay I'll start focusing on finding a man" or "if I can get to X salary level by Y age I'll relax, switch gears, and get married." In my mind there isn't this platform I'm reaching for before I'll say, "fine, that's enough, now let me do that other stuff that's life is all about."

To me, the stereotype of the career-obsessed woman is that she needs to achieve, succeed, and earn before she's willing to step out of that rat race and surrender to marriage and kids - that her self-worth is entirely connected to her business stature.

But that's now how I feel at all...

I feel like there are things I want to accomplish now because they're making me a more fulfilled person. I feel like learning what I'm focused on learning and producing what I want to produce right now makes me happy and excited and proud. That's not attached to any salary level or line on a business card - that's about how I feel as a person in this world. Right now that is more of a priority to me than the effort it may take to find the right partner. Right now, in the opportunity/cost game I'm having trouble finding the same value/worth in spending time finding a relationship versus time finding myself.

The question probably is - why can't you do both?

If someone fantastic for me came along would I walk away, absolutely not. I'd love to be dating, I plan to be married, and it's incredibly important to me to have children. But if right now if he said, "I want you slow your projects down and focus on building a family with me," I'd say I wasn't ready. And if he said, "it's me or X project you're so focused on," right now I'd say, "then it's X project."

Does that make me a career-obsessed woman? I want to say no. To me, "career" feels so limiting and "work" related. Can't I be "person" obsessed? or "product" obsessed" or "legacy" obsessed? Can't I just be looking to be with a person who appreciates my desire to make things that have meaning for myself and other people?

If you told me right now that I had to choose between writing a series of beloved novels that would touch people for generations to come or marrying a wonderful man, I'd pick the novels. Does that make me career-obsessed? Foolish? Wrong?

If you told me that if I leave New York and move to LA to pursue a career in writing I'll decrease my likelihood of getting married before I'm 40 by 75% I'd say, well shit, that's unfortunate...

Yes - all of the choices I'm making right now are for myself and my future. Few if any of them are about setting myself up to meet and marry the right guy. I am fully aware that's a huge part of why I'm single, and I'm fully okay with that. But when the world looks at me, my priorities, and my world view - I'm not comfortable with them assigning the "career-obsessed" stamp.

Are you?

Friday, March 19, 2010

Oprah says you have to write your perfect man down

My friend the brilliant photographess Jenny Anderson usually sticks to the picture's-worth-a-thousand-words philosophy on her personal/professional blog, so I was surprised to read this pitch-perfect description of the man-of-her-dreams the other day.

Oprah slash The Secret (and so by extension my mother...) say you've got to get your ideal man down on paper (so, Internet...) to let the universe know what you're after.
I don't really believe that, but I do believe this is one incredible picture painted in some incredible words.

by jenny anderson

So, this being a photo blog and all I don't usually post without...well photos. However, I've been super busy with work and haven't had time of my own to shoot anything new. So, I wanted to share with you a thought I had today. I just started thinking of what the perfect man would be and how I would go about getting that said perfect man. John Hughes had the right idea! So, here goes. My perfect man if I were to put on a bra hat and weird science myself a soul-mate.He would have Conan's humor, Tom Welling's cheekbones, Zooey Deschanel's whimsy, Ryan Gosling's mystique, Johnny Cash’s swagger, Dempsey's hair, Ledger’s (r.i.p) accent, the pop culture savvy of Lorelai Gilmore, the brain of CJ Craig, the utter coolness of Bob Dylan, the voice of Ray LaMontagne, a dash of Clark Kent, a smidge of Kermit the frog, a sprinkle of Liz Lemon & a fist full of Jim Halpert. He would also have the style of Joseph Gorden Levitt in 500 Days of Summer and the boyish charm of Hugh Grant in Sense and Sensibility/Notting Hill. He would also play a mean guitar, make a kick ass sandwich, do a killer impression of Alf and be an excellent doodler.Just thought I should write this down somewhere just in case one day I find this person I will have proof I thought of him first. If you are out there dear sir, please contact me. I am extremely fly for a white gal. Thanks.

Read more Jenny Anderson (in picture and in word) here.

And maybe try your hand at your own perf man in comments slash on your own picture or word-based blog.

Happy Friday, and Happy Spring.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

A particularly topical Hook-up Conversation

Thanks to all who came out to the second installment of The Hook-up Conversations Tuesday night. You packed the house for another great session of awkward, hysterical, shocking, and devastating "conversations" all around that oh-so-familiar topic of hooking up.

I'm thrilled to announce that we've been invited back to do it all again - so stay-tuned for new performance dates (yes, plural) to come.

Until then - one of the pieces from the show tackles that stomach-turning issue of confessing your feelings to a friend you wish was something more. Whether or not you can be friends after was the question on Monday, but the even more impossible one to answer is what to do when things have clearly gone too far - when you know you finally have to say something. In this piece GRACE is confronted with that moment and decides to take a road (which I think we can call the high one) that captures so much of what so many people are probably dying to say.

Performed by the incredibly talented Miss Evangeline Reilly - this one tends to leave people in a state of whoa...

As with all The Hook-up Conversations, this monologue is between GRACE and an invisible conversation partner - in this case her "platonic best friend" Matt. We don't see Matt...thank god...


Jessie Rosen

Lights up on a girl perched on a
bar stool, seemingly very fidgety...
as in drunk

(with pauses between the lines.
She’s tipsy, but not fully drunk) this that group that you love? On the juke box
now?... No - hahaha - lis-ten. It is, right? You put them on
the last CD you made me. They’re good. Oh, you know what
else I really like from that CD...

(she hums the lines from MGMTs “Kids”)

Do, do, do, do, dooo do, do do...hahaha....Whaaa’s that one?

(She's interrupted)

(pause, confused look)

Oh - you’re ready to go? Okay. Where to?


Yeah - get out of here? that’s fine - where do you want to
go? Pizza? Or you want to meet the guys over at Brian’s
place? They’re there, right?
(she yawns)

I think I’ll go home if you’re going to do that but...

(she’s interrupted, pauses
after hearing what he says, startled)

Oh - you? Oh... leave with you?
(pause, her voice registers
more sober, she’s saying this to herselfnow)

Leave just with you. And go to your place...


And you’re not hungry. So you just want to... Right. I’ve got it now.
So... that’s interesting.

I mean - sorry - I don’t mean interesting I just mean...I
just mean it’s a surprise. I just didn’t think you...

(he interrupts her again)

Right, right. We are here. And we are drunk.

(pause, he says something that
makes her chuckle, nervously)

Ha. And we are fun together. I just - I mean, I didn’t think
you thought about us that way.
...well, thank you.
(he interrupts)

Yeah, no, I know - it’s just we have this...

Right, right, but I just wanna be sure this isn’t...

(and again. Now there’s some
skepticism in her voice...)

I do trust you it’s just there’s a little more to it than
that. Because we don’t do this. Well, we do this, but wee
don’t do this. And I didn’t think we were going to do this - ever.
No. I mean, yes. It does feel right. That’s not the issue.

(pause, he asks what more is
there to it?)

Well, the more-there-is-to-it is that I’m afraid that
we’ll...or that you’ll...Fuck...
Okay...I’m afraid that this’ll be a mistake.

(pause, his question is, “what's the big deal?”)

What's the big deal...? Oh - wow. I get it.
This is the same as the everything else.

(pause, he presses her to
leave. Now there’s a bit of
anger or upset in her voice.)

Yeah, no. I know you’re ready to leave now. Listen, this
isn’t quite how I imagined this going but here we are so...

(he interrupts)

No - stop. Here’s what’s going to happen now. I’m going to
say something - somethings technically. And I need you to
just listen until I’m done, please. And if you agree with any piece of
anything I’m saying we’ll just take it from there. But if
you disagree with what I say - if what I say isn’t something
you ever thought I’d say - and isn’t something you wanted me
to say then I want you to just say, “I’m sorry - did you just
say something?” and then I’ll say, “nope - you must have
briefly blacked out,” and then you’ll say, “okay.” And we’ll
leave the bar and go home. How’s that?

(we assume he agrees)

Okay, so then here it is.

I have feelings for you. Feelings feelings.
As in, sometimes when I spend time with you I’d prefer if time
just stopped and we kept doing whatever we were doing forever.
I have trouble being myself, but not with you.
I have trouble laughing without faking it, but not at you.
I have trouble not obsessing over things like how long it’s taking
the waitress to run the credit cards through the credit card
machine or if the pint glass she’s serving us was actually
washed or just dipped inside that gross basin of beer water,
but not if you’re here.
I think there’s a chance that you make me a much
better version of myself, and if I’m not misreading all
Nicholas Sparks books, that’s what a girl should be looking
for. I’m not sure when I realized this. I’m not sure if it’s
going to go away anytime soon. I’m not sure if I ever should
have said anything, but at some point this started to become
a bit of a thing in my head. A big bit of a thing. Sooo.

So yes, I want to go home with you right now...slash in
general, but in my head that’s because we both have feelings
for each other that we should probably figure out. Nothing
with a title or a time-line, but not one of those things you
laugh about and then don’t make eye contact for six to nine
weeks. I’ve done that. And that’s fine. But I can’t do that
with you...

So if this is “come home with me because I think I
maybe feel what you’re saying you maybe feel” then okay -
yes. But if this is “come home with me because you’re here
and I’m drunk” which...which by the look on your face right now is
exactly what this is... Then no.

Actually, no - and ouch. And...actually, fuck you. I’m not
every other girl you hook up with. I don’t deserve that. So.

(she takes a deep breath and then stands up)

I’m done now.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Two reminders, then whether or not you can be friends with an ex who was originally a friend

Two things first:

One: Looking forward to seeing as many of you as possible at The Hook-up Conversations tomorrow night! 7-9. Nuyorican Poets Cafe.

Two: The 20-Nothings National Video Project is underway. Set aside 15 minutes. Make a video. Change the world.

And finally:

CQ emailed a topic the other day that prompted one of those, "wait haven't I already written about this?" moments. Turns out I haven't, which seems strange, but for awhile there that Laundro-Matt story was taking up a good chunk of space here...

"If you date a friend. Then the two of you end it. Then said "friend" slash "ex-man you date" wants to be friends again after some (2 year) period of time. Should you give them the chance to try and be friends again? i.e. can you successfully date a friend and then be friends again?

Tough one. If it has to be yes or no then yes - you can successfully date a friend and then be friends again.

But part of the beauty of life slash this blog is that it doesn't have to be yes or no, which is a good thing because when it comes to ex's, especially ex's who were friends, nothing is black or white.

Can you be friends with an ex again - sure. You can be friends with anyone again. It takes time and forgiveness and for both people to be in very different places, but you can do it. That friendship will look very different than it did before you started dating, but if the target is simply "friends" you can hit it.

But this is an issue of "should you give them the chance to try and be friends again..." Sounds like the break-up in this hypothetical case was less than amicable placing you in a position to decide if you want to let this person in again. This happens - regardless of whether or not you were friends before - and the way I see it slash have experienced it, two things are pushing you toward the answer, "yes, you can have another chance":
  1. I miss this person and want him back in my life in some way.
  2. I feel I should give this person another chance to be back in my life in some way.

Let's deal with the second first because it's easier.

Obligation is a tricky bitch. It will make you feel like you should do something, owe someone something, are a weak or mean person if you can't toughen up and fix something. When it comes to family, yes - you should give every relationship everything you've got because it's your blood and that's important. There are obviously exceptions - not the point here.

When it comes to friends - especially friends you've dated and broken up with - different story. You don't technically owe anyone a second chance, and you're not a bad person if you simply can't deal with a given person in your life. Not everyone is meant to friends, just like not everyone is meant to date. And it's often the case that people who were friends and then tried to date are the least meant-to-be set. That's not your fault. It's no one's fault. But entering back into a friendship based on obligation will be your fault.

This doesn't mean don't try if you desire to try and believe you can make it work. This means, don't try if you don't want to and know you can't make it work. Trust your gut.

Which brings us to the second thing - when part of your "gut" is telling you that you want this person back in your life. You're done being angry. You're done being hurt. Your focus is back on the good times and ways this person enhanced your life. You think that your life would be better if he was back in it.

Good for you! I say go for it, and congrats on the progress. Seems like a low drama situation that you can easily manage. Any interest in writing this blog?

But if you were my friend - and in a way, you are, aren't you (aaww) - my first question would be, why? Why do you want this person back in your life? What do you think it's going to be like to be friends with him again? When you think about what might still be hard about it, what comes up?

(yeah, this is what it's like being my friend...)

If an ex of this nature reaches out after two years to say, "hey, can we try to be friends again?" and your gut reaction is, "Aaww, _________ - good to hear from you! Yeah, let's grab a coffee or drink" and then at Sunday brunch you say, "________ reached out to grab a drink. I think I'll get together with him," and your friends say, "If you think you're ready for that, go for it" - then good. Well done.

But if your reaction to his outreach is, "Shhiiittt...wtF am I going to do about this...." and then at Sunday brunch you say, "you won't believe who wants to get a drink with me!" to which your friends go, "Don't you dare go within 10 feet of him" - then maybe that's telling...

Obviously adjust per the degree of OMG you experience, but the point is to take a good long look at why you want to see this guy, if in fact you do.

I think we're inclined - as the Facebook generation - to think that we need to keep every friend we've met and/or dated sos to prove to the world that we're strong enough to handle anything that comes our way. The truth is, we're better off without some people in our lives, and some people are much better off without us.

So - can you be friends with an ex who was originally a friend? Yes. Should you? Maybe not. And do you need to? Absolutely not.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

(Online) Dating's double standard

Ask most girls why they've recently joined an online dating site, and you'll hear one of the following:
  • Ugh, my friends maaade me...
  • I don't know, I just felt like everyone talks about it so much that I had to try it for myself
  • I'm looking to go on a lot of dates - you know - for practice and stuff
  • I figure I can't complain about not meeting any guys if I'm not willing to explore all my options for meeting them
Then ask those same girls if they think they'll meet "the one" on said online dating site and you'll get this:
  • Oh, I don't know...probably not. I'm just doing it to go on some dates.
  • I can't imagine I will - I mean what kind of guys do online dating?
  • I feel like guys aren't using it to really find serious relationships - except for e-harmony - but that's too much for me - so probably not
It is a damn-near universal double-standard of the modern dating set. Girls are willing to try for any number of reasons that all amount to the fact that they think they'll meet more guys, but most in no way believe the kind of guys they really want to meet would ever do online dating. This defies logic (but that has stopped me from believing it...).

Ask those same girls what kind of guys do online dating and they'll say:
  • Desperate ones?
  • One's whose sisters/cousins/already-coupled female friends make them?
  • Guys who work 100 hours a week and have no time to find people in the real world?
  • Guy who just want another method to find hook-ups?
Is that why these girls are doing it? Of course not.
  • We are sensibly exploring another avenue to connect with men we might otherwise miss in this madcap world.
  • We are recognizing and embracing the progress of social media as adapted for the dating process.
  • We are tired of hearing the success stories from friends of friends of our mother's...
  • So why not? We say.

Isn't it possible that guys could be approaching the process with exactly the same motivation?
  • I mean...I guess...but it just feels so...female?

This is wrong - wrong and sexist and illogical. How could something be fine and logical for us and yet unacceptable for the guys we're looking to date? Would we want them to apply our same thinking to this date/mate process? It can't be, and yes we should, and so I can't explain the thinking other than to say it just feels not good or right. Should men shop at T.J. Maxx because of the incomparable deals on name brand clothing? Of course. Will we think they're weird if they do? Absolutely.

But here's the thing of it. Any girl who tells you she doesn't think she'll find the right guy on any online dating site is lying. Not about whether or not she'll find him - she may very well not. She's lying about whether or not she thinks she will. She does - maybe just the slightest thought on odd days when the moon is waxing, but she thinks it. And I'm not saying that's her whole motivation for the painstaking process of crafting the perfect, 40 character dating headline - she may just want to date around, she may want to hook up, her friends may, in fact, have made her do it. But regarding this issue of whether or not she thinks she'll meet a quality guy on match - she says she thinks she won't, but some part of her believes she will.

Because if there's anything more illogical than applying a double standard to the male/female online dating set it's paying $29.99 a month for the potential to go on bad dates...

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Comments on comments: Un-loving Mr. Perfect

Let's try this out from time-to-time...

The comment:

"Hey Jessi...I had a life-advice question for you. My crush (and good friend and 3 years my jr) is basically Mr. Likeable on steroids--smart, passionate (about life in general), hard working, reliable, goal-oriented (but not too much), values relationships, loves his mom, etc etc. He's always surrounded by these girls all the time -- his friends? or adoring public? I don't know. both? -- and I know because he's my friend I shouldn't mind anything but him being happy. The thing is, I'm jealous. I don't think it's okay that we be in a relationship just yet... tho maybe down the road...??? And I don't want to get in the way of things. But SERIOUSLY, what can I do? Right, so that's my quandary. All wisdom (or simply funny anecdotes) welcome. THANKS!!! ~ K"

My comments:

K, please know that my gut reaction when reading this comment was, "who slash where is this guy, and how inappropriate is it for me to ask..." This speaks to the fact that a. I have a one track mind but b. this guy's a complete magnet. I like him, and I don't know if he has so much as a deal-breaker last name (Rosenthal, Rosenstein, Rosenbloom, Rosenbaum...Rosen...). Point (here) being, he's built to insight jealousy - not your fault.

But point overall in this case is here: "I don't think it's okay that we be in a relationship just yet... tho maybe down the road...???"

To be timely - I felt like attractive-if-not-for-that-nose guy wearing suit-that-cannot-possibly-save-one-from-explosives upon finding the detonator inside some abandoned Buick when I read that part. That's a bingo.

Let's back-it-up: you have a crush on an amazing guy and, as such, feel jealousy when other people (some your friends) are attracted to him, date him, interact with him, etc. Good: that confirms you like him. I believe it's an extension of the no-pain-no-gain correlation but of the emotional world, and yes, I agree it sucks.

What I'm concerned/confused about is this "I don't think it's okay that we be in a relationship just yet" situation. Why not? Are you preparing to leave for the Peace Corp? Did you recently break off an engagement? Is he involved in training for enter the CIA? Did he date your sister less than 6 months ago (there are rules around that...)?

I admit there are reasons you can't quite approach being in a relationship with someone - that's what I'm getting at here - but does this qualify? Step one: answer that.

Step two: when you realize it doesn't - you've got to purchase a bottle of wine, order in some Pad Thai, and try to figure out why you think you shouldn't be in a relationship with this guy right now.

Awhile back I wrote about going from being friends to being more. The thesis statement of that post was - at a certain point you're going to have to decide if the pain/frustration/jealousy/the-list-goes-on is more unbearable than all the issues that may arise if you give it a go. Does it hurt more to be avoiding it than it would to just band-aid it...

You could fall out of crush with this guy and just magically stop being jealous - maybe you'll meet someone else? maybe he'll meet someone else?... - but it's not likely that your brain will put it to rest until there's legit closure - a legit answer. Maybe that answer is that you guys end up together. Maybe it isn't. But sitting in these chronic feelings for a guy is painful - truuuust me (twice) - and I'd argue it's more painful, in the long run, than jumping off that cliff and giving it a go - even if it turns out not to be right (twice).

No, you shouldn't mind people giving him attention, adoring him, and getting involved with him if he's your friend. The problem is - he isn't. He's the guy you have a crush on, and unfortunately that means the rules and feelings of friendship don't apply. You can't blame yourself for that - or for any feelings. The only thing you can blame yourself for is letting it go on without making a change. Maybe that change is you shift the "friendship" and move on to spend time with other people. Or maybe it's that you figure out a way to express your feelings and understand how he feels about you.

I don't know which I really recommend - depends on a lot more factors - and I don't know quite how to do it if you realize the answer is to jump (e-mail always seems sensible...but cowardly...) - but I know jealousy like this can rear its ugly head after too many vodka sodas in a potentially public manor... (just once).

Good luck.

Monday, March 8, 2010

My one-week LA assessment

I spent a total of 6 full days in LA, so I’m by no means qualified to de-buff all the myth slash stereotypes I intended to explore before my arrival. In fact, there’s the chance I built up even more confusion about this city-of-a-dozen-suburbs than clarity around my premises. Still, I have some thoughts which maaay read like judgements, so please understand that while I know what I have in New York and what I love about it, I have no idea if the New York life is, as they say, the life. I’ll get to that, eventually.
Here are the myths with my attempt at a busting:
Social life is disjointed.
If you’re at a bar in the West Village at 10:30pm and get a text from some friends on the Upper East Side saying, “what’s up, where u at?” to which you respond, “around West 4th and 7th Ave – come!” they’ll grumble about it, but they’ll probably jump in a cab and meet you 15 minutes and $15 later.
There’s less of that in LA. Not none, just less. Some neighborhoods have a dozen or so bars within walking distance, but most don't, so it’s typically a drive from one place to the next, and therefore one friend group to the next. In New York you can hit 3-4 bars in one night with absolutely no issue picking up friends and randoms as you go. In LA I sense it’s rare to go to more than 2 bars in one night, and your plans tend to be laid out before you go to account for driving and drinking (or rather, not).
What does this all mean? Less chances to get more people together with ease. Nights that end earlier and soberer. A mainstay of bars in a select set of neighborhoods, generally close to where people live.
Aanndd yet, everyone seems to know everyone. Case in point – I invited some LA friends and friends of friends for a “I’m in town” drink (note: all of them came despite distance and parking) – some of them knew each other, some of them didn’t – or so they thought. By the time the night was over it turned out everyone had at least two connections to everyone else there, except for Pauly Shore who only had one connection, but that’s another story.
I can’t figure this out, but it’s true. Perhaps it has something to do with these “message boards” that everyone talks about – idk.
There are more gay guys.
Tough for me to answer because I am, shall we say, low on straight male friends in LA. I don’t think you can make a percentage comparison on this one – especially if it was between Boy’s Town and Chelsea. Also LA doesn’t have Broadway, and there is nothing gayer than Broadway
There are more people who seem gay.
This is opening up a can of very non-PC worms, so I’ll just say this. Many men in LA of the actor/musician variety take very good care of themselves, look incredible, are generally tan, and wear fairly tight clothing. If this makes them seem like some people’s stereotype of gay, then one might say that more guys in LA seem gay. I will just say that more guys in LA seem like they really like both themselves and fitted clothing. In short, there appear to be less bros in LA. In shorter, I'd struggle there...
The "who do you know" factor.
I was out and about a fair amount and no one asked me who I knew versus what I did. That said, it’s fairly assumed that people work in “the business.” Of the, say, baker’s dozen friends and friends-of-friends I saw, only two didn’t work in some form of entertainment – and one of those works for Fran Drescher’s charity Cancer Schmancer (not a joke), so that counts on a technicality.
I will say that a fair amount of name-dropping goes on pretty much chronically, but it appears to be used to find relation between new people. "Oh, you work at Fox, do you know ________?" - "Yep, worked with her at _______." Oh, I didn't know you worked at ________. I was there when _________ sold that pilot about _________." "Omg, then you must know ________?" "Totally! She and _________ worked with my friend ________ over at _______." "Right! I totally know _______ and _______, I interned at ___________!"
It's like the college name game except you actually know someone everywhere anyone mentions. Is it pretentious? Only if you're dropping celebrity names you don't really have the right to invoke. It's more just a fact of life is the biz, and a way to establish connections.
Everyone is suffering from Peter Pan complex
Everyone isn't doing anything the same in LA because it's huge. I will say - as a blanket observation - that the presence of cars and real houses and apartments big enough to host dinner parties makes for a certain degree of more-grown-up going on.
But if we focus on "the industry" (entertainment), it seems somewhat true that there's a delay in people setting down their dreams and focusing on raising a family, saving money, tending to a garden (metaphoric or otherwise). Also, LA culture doesn't necessarily value grown-ups - it values creativity, hard work, commitment to your passions, good networking. No one is going to give you a gold star for ability to manage your 401K while investing in property and finding the perfect mate - that's not the value system. So it's not that people pursuing success in tv, film, music don't want to grow up, it's that whatever growing up means to Boston or Chicago or New York or Miami doesn't count in LA.
Life is cheaper in LA.
This is tricky, but I do think it nets out to be cheaper to live an active 20-something life in LA than in New York. A lot of this is owing to the fact that apartments are roomier allowing for easier planning of nights and afternoons in. Also, people will argue with me, but rent is cheaper there - point blank. I don't know a soul who pays under $1,000 and lives under 100th street here in New York. Because LA is more spread out but people have cars you can live in the "cheaper" outskirts without any trouble.
But really, I think it has to do with the fact that people drink/eat less, less often, at less establishments. Bars close at 2am, you're often a designated driver, and it's a little more complicated to bar-hop around the village putting a credit card down and eating the $20 minimum at every spot you stop. First off, there appear to be no credit card minimums.
So if a typical NYC night costs you $60 +, a typical LA night might only run you $40. Again, perception after a week, but that was the math I experienced.
It's a strange town, for sure, but no stranger than Manhattan if we had to make a list. But I will say, myth's and truth's aside - there might be no bigger difference between lifestyles of 20-something than there is between New York and LA. Bold statement, I realize, but I do maintain that the life of a 25-year-old New Yorker is more similar to than of someone from Boston or Chicago than it is from LA. There's just something about the weather and the cars and the fact that 90% of people work in the exact same field... I don't know - it feels like LaLa Land - like a place where people speak this weird language and have these weird customs and are all in agreement that whatever it is they've got going on is better than whatever else is out there.
And no matter how you feel about parallel parking or ending the night at 2am, you can't help but wonder if they've got some things figured out...
But again, that's only after a week.