Thursday, April 29, 2010

Regarding what bridesmaids can and cannot tell the bride...

When do you have to suck it up and when can you say "no" to the bride?

Here's a preview of my AOL article on that very issue.

I've lost count of the number of TV shows about brides-behaving-badly.

There's "Bridezillas" (now in double-digit seasons), "Say Yes to the Dress" (which they usually don't ...), and "Million Dollar Weddings" (or, "Even though it's all free, I still want exactly what I want"), just to name my three favorites.

Secret's out. Being a bride is one of those rare life moments where you get to pull the "this is my day" card. For the millions of women getting married every year, that means months of stressful prep leading up to 24 pressure-filled hours. But what it means for those who serve in the courts of the wedding-day queens is something very, very different. For those saints (i.e., us), it can be 12-plus months of smiling, nodding and muttering, "I'm never going to wear that" under our breaths. Tempers can flare and feelings can be hurt -- all with good reason: Being a bridesmaid is expensive, it's stressful, and no matter what, you can't say no to the bride.

Or can you? As one friend who's been bridesmaid to four would-be Bridezillas put it, "It just shouldn't have to be this way!"

With wedding season in full swing, and the engagement boom just behind us, here are some healthy suggestions on when and how to put your foot down when asked to be in a bridal party.

Monday, April 26, 2010

The things that still make me feel grown up

On Saturday morning I flew out to LA for a business slash vacation trip.

(I'm still here now...and the myths-busting continues).

As I rolled my super chic Diane von Furstenberg duffcase (see it's like a suitcase but also like a duffle) up to the self check-in counter I felt that twinge I sometimes feel when performing an act my 12-year-old self thought was sooo adult. It's not the common shit-I'm-an-adult-make-it-stop twinge common to starting Turbotax or opening your first Jury Duty slip. It's more a pride-filled, yeeaahh-I'm-doing-it, how-cool-must-I-look-to-all-the-12-year-olds-at-this-airport feeling - like I felt the first time I ever went to a restaurant without any adults or the very first time I drove in the city by myself (this January).

The airport check in experience made think about all the other damn-right-I'm-an-adult moments in my day slash life - an embarrassing and very specific list that I'm really hoping you'll add to in comments sos to validate my crazy. Here they are:
  • Renting a car - oh-my-god do I feel cool when I rent a car. I'm like hell-yeah-I-can-be-responsible-for-this-massive-driving-machine-that-isn't-my-own. I'm over 25 and have enough money to cover this rental. Boo yeah!
  • Ordering a dirty martini really quickly - when I first started drinking dirty martini's I'd be all, "a martini,, dirty? like the lots-of-olive-juice kind. Oh, and I like it with vodka instead of that other option, and could you please put it in the v-shaped glass with no ice?" Now I'm, "very dirty Kettle martini, up - thanks." Honestly, it felt good even typing that.
  • Having house guests - before I moved home to share a room with my 20-year-old sister I commonly welcomed apartment-guests from out-of-town to crash in my mini apartment. They would ask for a spare towel, and I would have one. They would need directions, and I would give them. They would say, "I there a ______ nearby where I can _______?" and I would say, "Yes, there's three of them within walking distance.
  • Using acronyms, specifically in business - "I was at the OMD party with some people from GMG talking about the state of the CHC and CPC businesses." If that doesn't sound totally cool and completely grown up, I don't know what does.
  • Using Entertainment industry speak - i.e. "Yeah, she's great, but can she push a photo?" or "I hear she's just hip-pocketing her." The key-to-cool here is the risk factor. Say it wrong and you're over.
  • Having a business card that doesn't say assistant - When I first got business cards they said "Assistant to the CEO" or "Assistant Sponsorship Account Manager," which is just like, why don't you just print "Under 25, Under-paid" in parentheses. Now I have one with a totally vague title that no one understands. Much cooler.
  • Calling important adults by their first names - I am still fully inclined to address an email to a company CEO or president with whom I deal regularly "Dear Mr. _______."
  • Understanding what a deductible is - on Saturday my friend Jordan explained what a deductible is as we were hiking up Runyon Canyon. I'm still a leeetle fuzzy, but get it much more than I used to. Next stop, Roth IRA. Abby?
*yes, that is a picture of my 5-year-old self in a belted business-casual blue look with white cherry-printed tights. If that outfit still fit, I'd be wearing it today.

Friday, April 23, 2010

The results of my 5-month shopping cleanse

Here's the first in a series of upcoming articles I'm writing for AOL - the tale of my 5-month shopping cleanse.

My name is Jessie, and it has been 87 days since I last shopped.

No clothes, shoes or accessories, no $5 pashminas or $3 sunglasses off the street. Nothing. Since December 25 I have been on a self-induced five-month cold-turkey shopping cleanse intended to forever alter my relationship with the power of purchase.

Going into this I think it's important to note that I am not a shopaholic. I don't binge-buy thousands of dollars worth of clothes I don't need. You won't find me trolling the shops for retail therapy. I'm not that kind of shopper. My issue is more of a co-dependent relationship with outfits. I love them. I need them. I fully believe that without the right one, my meeting or party or first date will be negatively impacted to the point of why-would-I-even-go? In 1962, Jackie Kennedy wore a mint green, Greek-inspired gown for a dinner honoring Nobel Prize–winning writers ... because its columnar structure was a nod to the architecture of the ancient poets.

I'm that kind of shopper.

And so, this past Christmas morning, with a pile of shirt boxes before me, when I said, "Wow! With this many new outfits I bet I won't have to shop until May!" I got the reaction I probably deserved. My three little sisters guffawed in age order -- Dani: "That'll be the day." Sara: "Yeah right, Jess." Alex: "Hahahaha!"

My mom choked on her coffee, and my dad delivered his classic, "Whatchu talkin' 'bout, Willis?" look.I fought back hard: "It's only a few months! I have more than enough clothes! You really think I can't do it?!" They fought back harder: "It's five months including a season change; it's not about how many clothes you have; and no, we know you can't do it."

Thursday, April 22, 2010

What we really think about emotionally in-touch men

Andrew and I were gchatting the other day about something relating to guys and girls' relating. It may or may not have been on the topic of why I'm single (which we all know is because I let a co-worker win me at the dating auction instead of Creepy Mc-Wow-You-look-like-that-girl-from-Glee.)

I was making the oft-made argument that guys say they love it if a girl is really independent, but they really don't (which means it was definitely on the topic of why I'm single). My point wasn't that guys don't like independent women. My point was that there's a very fine line between independent being a turn-on and a turn-off. I think guys have a 3-little-bears-to-porridge view of independent women (for my international friends - baby bear didn't want the porridge too hot or too cold, had to be juuuust right).

I thought Andrew was going to lay into me with a you're-single-because-you-put-men-in-unfair-boxes lecture, but instead he said something I'd never heard anyone say before.

"Yeah - just like how girls say that want an emotional guy, but they really don't."

Touche...I thought. That may be the most interesting comparison between guy/girl hang-ups that I've heard since that discussion about guys and girls on marriage planning.

Question is - is it true?

Do girls claim to desire a man who's totally in touch with his emotions but turn-a-nose at guys who fit that bill? Is this, like the Men vs. Miss Independent situation - a not too emotional, not too stoic, juuuust right issue?

Thinking back on friends, family, people-who-email-the-20Nothings-account-with-random-thoughts I can definitely say that many women express a desire for a guy who isn't so closed off. I've heard, "I wish he could tell me how he feels" or "He never has any feelings about anything!" Also, "_______ would never go see that movie with me."

So there's undoubtedly a desire for a guy to be more expressive about his feelings, understanding of a woman's, and willing to see chick flicks. That's universal. We want guys to provide exactly the support we need in the exactly the right way specific to whatever we're crying about. I know a girl who fakes a crying tantrum early in a relationship to test the guys' coddling skills. This is terrible (slash hysterical), but it cuts to the gist of the issue - we want guys to know how to be there for us, to understand our emotions and theirs' to the point of being able to relate and help. And of equal importance is a guy's ability to explain why-the-hell-he's-acting-so-weird even though 9-times-out-of-10 we know - leading to the following argument: "I know it's because you're stressed about your CPA exam, but I want you to be able to tell me that, and then we can talk about it and get beyond!"

But if you'll notice, all those things are focused in a zone of the way guys relate to us based on their emotions. We desire for him to be more emotionally connected so that we can receive more understand or communicate better in the relationship. Fine. Smart. Valid.

Not the question.

The question is how do girls feel about a guy who is already incredibly in touch with his emotions?

He tells you exactly what's wrong, exactly how he feels, exactly when he's feeling it. If you look sad or confused or any different than you typically look he'll bring it up, and want to sit down immediately to work through it. He will coddle the shit out of you. And if he feels like crying - which he does - he will.

You're thinking, does this guy exist?

The answer is yes. But are you interested?

Andrew's point was that that guy is who girls' say that want but get weirded out when they experience. That's the guy they say, "I mean he's amazing, but he's almost too good to be true. _______ thinks he's gotta be gay." Is there a line where emotion covers manliness and the guy is rendered unattractive? Is it the same deal when a women's independence covers her femininity?

This is a sexist conversation (that I'm having with myself...). It applies when a woman is too much like a man or man too much like a woman, they're less attractive to the other. It suggests that there are ways we think a man should be, and same for women. And it assumes that at least most people agree.

I don't know if it's true. I don't know if it's universal. And I don't know, if it's true and universal, where I fall on whether it's a fact of life or a terrible condition we've created.

I just think it's fascinating.

What do you think?

Monday, April 19, 2010

I'm moving out to move up

I'm moving out of Manhattan this week.

On Thursday night my dad will (attempt to) park the minivan and help me cart four years down the four flights of my Greenwich Village apartment building. Then I'll make him knock me unconscious before we drive away from my beloved neighborhood en route to the place I'll be calling home for the Summer - home. Specifically, suburban New Jersey. More specifically, a second floor bedroom I'll share with my 20-year-old sister.

All together now...deep breath...

On Thursday I'm moving out of my Manhattan apartment and into a bedroom in my parent's New Jersey home that I'll share with my little sister.

As my friend Paul said, "Oooh girl, this story better be good."

Thing is - there isn't really a story. Four plus years ago I moved into a $900 a month 28th Street sublet with zero savings on a 30K salary. Six months later I moved into a new sublet, $50 more expensive, on that same income. In a year I switched jobs to a 35K gig and my rent increased to $1,000. Now three jobs in my salary has increased, but not significantly enough for me to save any real sum of money. The debt I incurred in those years of very little income is something I chip away at monthly. Add in college loans and typical life costs, and I'm certainly getting by but not comfortably. I still live paycheck to paycheck.

I mention these really personal details because they're shared by so many 20-something city-dwellers pursuing careers in industries with low pay scales. These are desirable and important jobs - jobs we work hard to get and hard at once we've gotten, so there's no regret involved. It's just the way that world works, and if you want in you have to be willing to take the good with the bad. I am not financially secure, and I know many of you aren't either.

It dawned on me a few months ago as I was contemplating what the next five years of my life might look like that every possibility I can image or change I might desire is limited by my financial situation. I don't have a safety net. I don't have a cushion. And so there are ideas or projects or changes that I can't even entertain because I don't have the means. I have to keep peddling, and really I should seek opportunities that make financial sense. Read: I should sell out.

That's not okay with me. I don't want to feel trapped. I don't want to feel beholden. I don't want to miss out on exploration and travel because I can't afford it. And more importantly, I don't want to throw it on a credit card, and I can't just ask my parents for an 8K nest egg.

When I first graduated from college my primary goal was to keep life as much like college as possible. I didn't know what lay ahead, but I knew I needed to be as social and active as possible - to dive in and live life in the city. My concerns were not financial, and I wasn't frustrated by having to pinch pennies. Just being here among it all was what mattered.

Now my priorities have changed. I'm secure in my friendship and comfortable in my job. I can navigate the city and myself in it. And I know when it's time to go home versus when it's time to switch to shots. I could continue to pinch pennies. I could get by for years without solid savings, but I don't want to anymore, and thanks to a family who has room and patience and a house commuting distance from the city for me, I don't have to.

A lot of post-grads spend their first years after college living at home to get on their feet and lay the groundwork for an eventual move. I'm taking a bit of a different approach - a sort of mid-20's city sabbatical. From now until I'm-not-sure-when, a subletter will fill my spot as I experiment with a departure from my fast-track life and to a more savings-oriented lifestyle. I don't know what will happen at the end of the Summer. Maybe I'll move right back into my apartment, maybe I'll move somewhere else, but whatever I do will be what I want most because I'll have the options to follow that desire.

This is difficult on a number of levels. It's difficult because I have a co-dependent relationship with Manhattan and, more specifically, Thompson Street between Bleecker and West 3rd. But outside of the obvious I'm-going-to-hate-commuting sentiments, it's difficult because part of me feels like a failure. I haven't been entirely responsible. I haven't taken the most sensible jobs. I have followed my passions versus my logic, and those decisions have consequences. It's a strange feeling to know that you're successful in so many ways but not the way you absolutely need to be to play at life. You can't call Delta and say, "Sooo, I can't afford that flight, but I've written this blog three times a week for two and a half years so how 'bout you just give it to me on account of I deserve it?"

Would I change anything, no. But will I now sacrifice what I wasn't willing to sacrifice before, yes. I'm ready to make that choice now.

It's only a few months, I keep saying to people when they stare at me with wtf-are-you-thinking faces. But it's not about the amount of time or the distance from Manhattan or even the fact that I'm about to revert back to my six-year-0ld sleeping situation. For me this is about addressing a source of stress and hold-back in my life and finding a solution to move beyond it.

First I had to say, this is what I want to change. Then I had to say, this is what I'm willing to do to change it. And on Friday morning and the many mornings following I'll have to say, this is what I'm doing, and this is why.

Wish my family luck...

Friday, April 16, 2010

What I'm worth to the men of Murray Hill

I survived my first and last dating auction. Would I say it was miserable? No - not at all. Would I say I want to do another one today slash ever? Also, no - also very no...

Here's how it all went down:

Van Diemen's bar - the scene of the big show - is located in Manhattan's infamous Murray Hill 'hood. For those familiar with that nieb' and its population, I know... For those un, think of it as a 10-block college campus except instead of classrooms and dorms it's just bars, plus everyone technically graduated 3 to 10 years ago.

I arrived to a teaming crowd of co-eds holding identical pieces of paper and staring at everyone who walked in with an uncanny "is that person for sale?" look. Immediate thoughts: who else is getting auctioned off? are their outfits cuter than mine? where am I going to have to stand? is where I'm going to have to stand going to work with my outfit?

My friend Julie was at the door with wrist-bands for drink specials (the answer is, it takes 3 vodka sodas to prepare to be sold in public) and a stack of those identical pieces of paper - an "auction items" summary featuring mini pictures and mini bios describing us bait to the masses.

It is weird to have a hundred or so people holding your picture and trying to match it with your face. It is weirder still when you overhear them saying, "that girl seem pretty good." But it is weirdest when one of them comes up to you and says, "Jessie?...good...I'm going to win you."

Now, having given obsessive thought to the intricacies of the dating auction, I decided that auction order was of primary importance. You do not want to go first. You do not want to go last. But even more importantly, you do not want to go after someone incredibly good-looking or with an obvious fan base in the audience. So in jockeying for position after a quick assess of the crowd, I decided being the second girl but third item would be best. Order: girl one, boy one, me.

8:15pm - 2 vodka sodas in - Girl One takes the stage. She's blonde, long-haired and adorable in an Anne-of-Green-Gables-takes-Manhattan sort of way. Very short, black, long-sleeved dress belted at the waist. In other words - the opposite of the girl you want to go after.

After an excruciating 5-8 minutes of MC begging ("Let's go guys! This is for Cancer!!!...research...CANCER RESEARCH!), Girl One coyly smiling (it's really hard to perfect a please-buy-me!!....but-not-you-over-there look, and me drinking an entire third vodka soda (no comment) - the biding was closed. Girl One went for an incredibly respectable $80.

At this point I contemplated falling down and getting hurt. Girl One was up there for a LONG time. Just standing there, similing-ish but mostly looking like get-me-off-this-f-ing-stage... And $80 is a LOT of dollars. I mean I planted friends in the audience, but not ones I have the money to pay 80 bones.

"How are you feeling?!" my friend Lillian asked as Girl One came down off the stage. "Not good," I said through my mini drink straw.

I'm told that Guy Two went for about $125, but I was too busy practicing standing, holding a drink, and looking amazing to pay much attention. $125 is most certainly more than I ever imaged I'd go for, but again, Guy Two was up there for a long time. Longer than I'd ever prefer to be standing in one place while a group of peers decide whether or not they want to pay money for me.

And then me. GULP.

The "stage" was actually a flight of stairs facing the crowd, so naturally I almost fell up them upon taking my position. Then the MC introduced me as being from Boston - not a crowd-pleaser (also, not true). And finally, he started the bidding at $50. Higher than Girl One at $30 and Boy One at $40. Earlier in the night I told my friend Brian (one of the saints who came to bid in case things got really ugly) that I just wanted to go for $30 - and here I was starting at the cost of a Uniqlo cashmere sweater!!! Disaster... or so I thought.

See - there are friends who will hold your hair back when you get sick - and those are really good friends. Then there are friends who will go with you to an outer borough for an obligatory birthday party - and those are great friends. But the friends who will scream "she's worth it, trust me!!!" when you take the stage, start a four-man biding war for you, drive your sale price up to $220 in three minutes, and swoop in with a $240 selling price so the guy-you-don't-know in the corner doesn't win you - those are the best friends of all.

I sold for $240 to a good friend slash co-worker (and thank god for that), but there were some hands raised in the audience as the price climbed that were most certainly not (yet) acquaintances. It's hard to mask a look of who-are-you-out-there-that-just-bid-$175-to-date-me??? I just focused on smiling, nodding and not falling down the stairs.

How do you know whether or not you succeeded in your first ever dating auction? Hard to say, but if the girl who's supposed to go after you says, "I hate you...I mean, good job," you can figure you did okay.

And re: those mystery guys with the high bids. I kindly thanked them all for their interest in purchasing me. None seemed like quite the right fit, but I did appreciate their monetary affirmation. (And word to the wise - being the almost-winner in a dating auction is a genius way to meet girls.)

In the end, it was a success for a great cause with far less pain that I imaged through my vivid nightmares for three weeks prior to the event. I just could definitely have done without the, "I thought you looked like the girl from Glee, and I totally want to bang her" confession from "Dave" who was apparently willing to pay $175 to try with me.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Humiliation in the name of research: me in a dating auction

I've been known to take a risk or two in the interpersonal department - i.e. one time I emailed a guy to check out an apartment I had no business subletting at a time I wasn't even looking to move because his Craiglist ad was so incredibly well-written and charming. Then there was the time I engaged in a year-and-a-half flirting game with the son of the owner of the falafel shop on my street. I've also made an art form of giving out my personal business cards in manners befitting a scene out of Oceans 11 through 13.

If there's one friend in every friend group that makes all the other friends go, "you won't believe what _________ did..." - it's me.

And still none of my previous hi-jinx top what I'll be doing tomorrow night from 6-10pm at a bar in the east 20s. For at that time on the day after this current day, I've agreed to participate in a date auction - like, an auction in which people bid on people for dates. Like I'll stand alone on a stage and men will bid on the opportunity to take me on a date. Oooor, I'll stand alone on a stage...

You know that scene in The Princess Bride where Buttercup makes her debut as the new queen? She comes down from the little queen balcony thing looking all amazing and pure in that beaded white empire waist gown and then walks out into a crowd of villagers meant to welcome her into her new position on the thrown, but then instead of any of them cheering or clapping or bidding to take her on a date that one, old haggard, massive-mole-on-the-face grandma lady heckles the shit out of her destroying the entire moment slash arguably her life?

Yeah - I know that scene too.

What were you thinking?! is what everyone I mention this to says. Well first I was thinking, this is for a really good cause. My friend Julie runs the Boston Marathon in support of the Dana Farber Cancer Institute, and the "Date My Friends" event (actual title) is a major part of her fundraising effort. So I was thinking, I essentially do the opposite of things-for-a-good-cause every other day of my life, why not spend a few hours penance and raise money for something important?

Okay, fiiiine...

The actual first thing I was thinking is that it would be a silent auction. Like the best goddam picture of ever taken would sit in a beautiful frame a top a table with corresponding piece of paper boasting the title
JESSIE - 26 - West Village
  • LIKES: long walks on beach, chocolate lab puppies, sushi.
  • DISLIKES: bananas, men who wear jewelry, the GOP
That I can handle. Men I don't have to stare directly in the eyes of examining a re-touched photo and brief description then silently making an offer. No offers would be a huge bummer, but it would be a huge, silent bummer...
Word to the wise - if someone asks you to participate in a dating auction, they probably don't mean a silent one.

So naturally I've begged every guy I know to stand in the audience and help the bidding process. Naturally 97% of them are gay.

And so - I'm left with no other choice but to do this thing - all the way. Like my friend Jenny said: "Maybe you'll meet someone amazing. I HATE when people say shit like that. But maybe you will..."
I hate when people say shit like that too, but maybe I will.
Regardless, you can expect a full report on Friday morning.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Today in I-can't-believe-I-didn't-come-up-with-that-first:

The other day Nora emailed to inform me that I missed out on yet another opportunity to make a hundred million dollars.

Yes - that says "I dump for you" and its full form is And yes, this website does exactly what you're goddamn giddy with hope that it does.

Here is the actual explanation from this actual website that people have actually used.


Welcome to a new way to pass responsibility on to someone else! Now you can actually have us dump your boyfriend/girlfriend and take the guilt off of you.
Are you cheating on someone, are you bored with someone, or maybe you just want to get out and can’t find the words?
Then how about iDUMP4U?
Simply click the link below and you will be taken to a registration page with information that you fill out about you (dumper) and the person you wish to dump (the dumpee). Just tell us why you want to dump this person, and we will do the rest! Please make sure to be as detailed as possible. This not only makes it easier for you, but it also is very helpful to a possible “Habitual Dumpee.”
Studies have shown that 9 times out of 10, the typical “It’s not you, it’s me” approach can lead to a history of several more dumpings. Why not help the person you are dumping as well as helping yourself! Then you go away with not only a free life but also that sort of “Pay it Forward” type feeling that you can only get from Helen Hunt.
iDUMP4U will also record the audio of the dumping, and after editing out any information that could jeopardize a person’s safety, we will place it on our YouTUBE site! Then others can have joy in hearing someone else getting dumped and maybe save themselves from the same fate!

In case you skimmed through that and missed the part where iDUMP4U will record the audio of the dumping and place it on youtube - iDUMP4U WILL RECORD THE AUDIO OF THE DUMPING AND PLACE IT ON YOUTUBE!!!!

And guess what - THEY REALLY DO, and IT. IS. GOLD. I just spent 45 minutes listening to people get dumped over the phone by a a genius named Bradley. And let me tell you - there is nothing as hysterical as someone getting surprised dumped on the phone by a man with a movie announcer voice.

I know, I know, but calm down. Almost all the cases recorded involve the dumpee being a lying, cheating, disaster who clearly had it coming to them. ...Well...except for Clark who got dumped by Brittany because he couldn't curb his Farmville playing habit:

iDUMP4U file 02/17/10: Brittney dumps Clark

Clark loves to play Farmville™, in fact he kind of loves to play it a little too much. SO much that it has affected his work, school and even his relationship. Well Brittney has decided that since this relationship as whithered she needs Bradley to step in and harvest the fields so she can plant a new relationship later….

But I support Brittney on this one - Farmville is an absolute dealbreaker. Like, worse than Mafia Wars.

So let's take a pause and recap.
  • There is a website you can use to dump someone.
  • It works by you supplying the persons' name and number plus an explanation of why you're dumping them.
  • Then a man named Bradley calls and dumps them for you while recording the session for public enjoyment...slash education

There is a fee involved, but luckily it's based on a very logical scale tied to the seriousness of the relationship: $10 for breaking up your standard relationship, $25 for breaking off an engagement, and $50 for ending a marriage.

And though I don't have any specific experience, I've got to assume $50 is a steal to have your marriage ended for you over the phone, by someone else. I mean, did you see that scene from Mrs. Doubtfire?! That shit is upsetting.

So, long story short - WOW. WOW and BRAVO Bradley.

And apparently I really need to pick up my brainstorming drunk at 3am game...

Oh, and someone please do this and report back, obvi.

Friday, April 9, 2010

What the hell I wrote 405 posts about.

The other day I glanced down at the blog post tracker inside my post settings section and went, "Four hundred posts!? What the hell have I written four hundred posts about??!!"

Soooo I decided the only option was to go through them all and figured it out.

Here, after two hours and more than a few whatwasIthinking moments (Again, John Legend, really sorry about that...) are the results:

  • Posts regarding specific guys I am unsure whether or not I want to/should date: 3
  • Posts about specific guys I have dated: 2
  • Posts about specific guys I was currently dating when writing the post: 0 (see, you can totally date me and not get written about. Just don't break up with me!)
  • Posts about specific dates I've been on: 6
  • Posts written by Pierson: 4
  • Post on the issue of getting a job: 2
  • Posts about not hooking up: 4
  • Posts about hooking up, sex and issues surrounding: 7
  • Posts regarding the widsom of other people, famous or otherwise: 11
  • Posts about work, working, not wanting to work: 4
  • Posts reflecting back on college, childhood: 4
  • Posts about how annoying slash difficult yet rewarding slash inspiring to make art: 4
  • Posts about the "quarterlife crisis", if we're having it, why we're having it, what it feels like to be having it, how to stop having it...: 8
  • Posts that question WTF we're doing with our lives...: 11
  • Posts that just share random stories about my life, relevant or otherwise: 12
  • Posts within that set that make me look like an idiot: 11
  • Posts about my Mom: 4
  • Posts about New York City, and my over-the-top love for it: 4
  • Posts specifically about The Facebook: 4
  • Open letters ranting at people I'll never actually get the chance to talk to: 6
  • Posts about online dating: 4
  • Posts about what the hell is going on in the minds of guys, and how it's usually crazy: 8
  • See above, replace with girls: 11
  • Posts about the differences between guys and girls: 6
  • Posts about breaking up, and how you're probably doing it wrong: 3
  • Posts about cheating, and how you're probably doing it even though you think you're not: 7
  • Posts about chivalry and whether or not it is dead: 4
  • Posts surrounding the issue of finding people to date, where the are, how you can get them once you find them, if you should do it in a given manner, why it's hard, why we're bad at it, etc: 25
  • Posts regarding the fact that we're not particularly good at dating once we find someone, what we do wrong, how we should behave, why we'll probably never learn: 20
  • Posts discussing general dating etiquette and rules, if they exist, what you should never do, what you should do more of, if what someone I specifically know did was good or bad: 25
  • Posts that essentially say, "you'd be in a relationship if...": 7
  • Posts regarding actually being in a relationship: 10
  • And, of course, posts about that time my laundry lady tried to set me up with a fellow customer, how she did it, what happened, a if I've ever seen him again: 9
And that's - essentially - the whole of it. Yes Abby, I know they don't add up to 405. It just didn't seem necessary to make a whole category for "Posts about the fact that I got to keep my rent controlled apartment" or "Posts about my outfits".

People always ask, "what's your blog about" - when someone else tells them I write one (405 posts and I still haven't gotten the self-promo thing down...). I tend to say something like - it's about being in your 20s and everything that involves? - a vague answer but one that doesn't lump me into the category of relationship blogger.

Apparently I should say, "well, about 50% of it is about the fact that nobody really knows what they're doing life or dating-wise, a good chunk is my ideas around why that is and how we can fix that, then there's some wisdom from old people, a good chunk of coverage on freaking out because we're not getting any younger, some stuff about my Mom, and a 9-post series on my dry cleaner pimping me out. You should check it out!"

Thanks to everyone who's inspired any of the stories that make up the 405, and sorry to anyone who wasn't aware they'd inspired one until they read it...

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

The why we're single series: because we don't talk about the fact that we are

Two posts officially makes this a series. Here's where it started. Cliff notes:

"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."

Last week? we discussed the fact that the reason many of us are single is because we think we're going out to meet guys, but really we're not. At it's core - a perception versus reality issue.

Now this week it's more of a PR issue, if you will.

Consider this: When you officially decide you're looking for a new job, what's the first thing you do?


So then after you completely check out of your current job what's the next thing you do?

Tell everyone it's appropriate to tell that you're looking for a new job.

And when you're looking for a subletter but don't want to use Craigslist? Or travel to a city and not have to pay for a hotel? Or defame a collectively hated member of your social group?

We are the social networking generation. We grew up displaying our hourly location and the Dave Matthews Band song quote that best describes our every mood via away message. When we want or need or are casually interested in something, we tell the world in every god-given form we have available. I know a girl who LinkedIn her way to a long-lost family member.

And yet, when it comes to going after that tricky want of a person to date, we tuck the peacock feathers in and play all coy and shit about our private lives. "Am I dating anyone? really... - well do I want to be? Oh...I don't know...I haven't really thought about it...not really there yet in my mind, ya know?"

Replace better paying job with boyfriend and we'll send Facebook messages to people we haven't talked to since...we can't remember. There's just something about that public declaration of, "I'm looking - who do you know?" that's too look-at-me-I'm-needy for most people to handle. We'll self-promote everything from what we ate for breakfast to how we feel about Universal Healthare, but when it comes to self-promoting ourselves (a-haaa...), we're uncomfortable.

I know this because I do this. I write a thrice-weekly Internet column about my perspective on, oh, everything, but ask me what kind of guy I'm looking for and I'll say, "Oh...I don't know...I haven't really thought about it." And forget me just boldly asking you if you know anyone.

Cause then you'd know I really want a boyfriend and can't seem to find one - embarrassing. And then I'd have to wonder what you think of me and who you'll set up with as a result - nerve-wracking. And if it does, by some miracle, happen I'll feel totally obligated to like your guy because you were nice enough to make it happen - inconvenient.

Seems super involved and pretty thought-consuming from a timing perspective. Surely will be easier and less personally invasive than all that...

So, today's bottom line: If you want something you're having trouble finding slash acquiring on your own, you should tell people you're looking and see what happens. Not: "Good morning to you too! I'm fine thanks, looking for a blond-haired, blue-eyed around 5'10"-6'2" with a background in economics who left is all to pursue his art, but otherwise everything's tip top!"

Just weave it in there when it makes sense. The goal is to let people know you're in the market so they can think of you when someone some girl with a boyfriend says, "_______ has this awesome friend _________ who isn't dating anyone, and I'm like too bad I'm already dating ________ because I'd be all over that."

Good luck.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Why my apartment is covered in Sandra Bullock-covered rag mags

There are currently five magazines in my 300 square foot apartment featuring a picture of a stone-faced Sandra Bullock and some headline with the phrase BLIND SIDED! included (which is just like, really God, really?!).

I can't stop reading about it - all the details and rumors and new information that's never actually new information. I'm officially obsessed, and I could not be more pissed about that fact.

See, I consider myself fairly immune to celebrity scandal. With Reese and Ryan I was like - figures, they got married young and he was reportedly always more into the scene. Nick and Jessica - saw that coming from the first episode of Newlyweds. Kate Hudson and that Black Crows man, please. Even through the Tiger Woods shit storm I was like, wow still more women? but it felt like your typical good-guy-gone-bad fall from grace.

But this Sandra Bullock/Jesse James mess got me good. I was and remain shocked and appalled. That whore? With those tatoos?! And everyone knew it was going on?!!?! And he told that vixen he was apart from Sandra after she said what she said during her Golden Globes acceptance speech?!?!?! Is he not aware of the sacred nature of the acceptance speech love-confession moment!!! How daaaaare he...

Not since Karl Rove's handling of the 2004 election have I been more inclined to write hate mail to a complete strange who absolutely does not read his own mail slash care.

"Wow, you're really into this Sandra Bullock thing..." Geanna said as I placed another UsWeekly on the stack currently taking over our TV tray slash dining room table.

Yes, I really am. Which begs the question - WyTF am I?! (it's like WTF but with "why" - get into it).

These are celebrities I do not know leading lives I follow via unreliable sources going through the same shit most other celebrities and millions of regular Americans experience every single day. Why I am more hurt for Sandra and more stark-raving at Jesse than I've been at any other adulterous A-list spouse to grace the cover of the weekly's? Is it because it happened eight - and again for effect - eight damn days after her Academy Awards moment? I mean yes, but not - that's not the crux of it... Is it because she has that adorable relationship with his little daughter that's been catalogued throughout the pages of People mag for the past five years? Also no... Could it be because his name is Jesse, and I feel some name-related responsibility around the situation? Maybe, but that's ridiculous...

When I re-read all my current Sandra articles, and then think about it so more the answer I come up with is maybe more embarrassing than the Jesse/Jessie guilt. It makes me sound like both a crazy cynic and hopeless romantic - the kind of person who falls for gullible fairy tale love stories you only see in Ashton-Kutcher-shit movies. I don't tend to be that person, but we can't help what we think, so here goes:

It's because Sandra Bullock seemed like the kind of woman who would never fully surrender to love unless she was absolutely sure it was right. And so she didn't, publicly, for many many years. Then at the not-young age of 40, after meeting a very unlikely man, she finally did - so much so that she very publicly dedicated the greatest career success of her life to one Jesse James - the man who finally taught her what it meant to love and be loved. And then this happens.

Sandra Bullock is the woman I'm terrified of becoming - I mean, she's the woman we're all terrified of becoming, but to me there's this deeper level fear-factor surrounding the fact that she wasn't a believer then found herself transformed by a love she'd "just never experienced before" that makes it so much worse.

A lot of women fall for the wrong men and find themselves in situations just like America's sweetheart - women without Academy Awards on the mantel to remind them that they're better than some Nazi-tattoo clad 'ho. But in my head I'm always able to assume - falsely or otherwise - that those women were naive to the warning signs, attracted to bad apples, not equipped with enough self-respect to get out of the relationship when the writing was on the walls. For some reason, with Sandra Bullock none of that seems to apply. This may be crazy, and probably is. Sandra Bullock may be as much of a fool as the rest of us who buy it hook-line-and-sinker, but something tells me she was as guarded and careful as they come. Perhaps as guarded and careful as me...

So then could it be that there's absolutely no way to protect yourself against the Jesse James' of the world?

I think the answer is yes - and we probably don't need the covers of People magazine to learn that lesson.

Does that mean you never full surrender to anyone - no matter how much you believe in your love? An statistician would say no - the odds will be against you, but a therapist will say yes - you have to give things up if you're ever going to make a true connection with someone.

So then what's the real lesson in this whole public shit storm?

Never, ever dedicate an award received in a televised ceremony to a man*.

*People's Choice is fine. Those don't matter.

Friday, April 2, 2010

The Dating Ref: Should she be like eeww or like aaww?

Date: Thursday of this week.
Subject line: a lil nugget for you
Sender: a smart and sensible female friend

I have something that may or may not merit your attention/discussion -- if not, just disregard and call me crazy while your roll your eyes, but if so, here you go:

I just started working in the newsroom of a large network, and on my third day, I sort of locked eyes with this guy - but then he didn't look away, and my hyper sensitivity and irrational "psycho radar" kicked in and it seemed excessive/scary. On my way back past this guy, he was still staring. It was strange, but I thought it was probably all in my head. But he was cute, too, so I felt kind of like, go me. Just a teeny bit.

Later that day, I get a facebook message:

Hi __________,

Do you work at ___________? I work in ad sales...I could have sworn you were the person I saw in the office today. Are you a writer for _____________?

Speak to you soon,
Guy (ed. note: his name wasn't really Guy, which I point out because some guys are named Guy, which is really just cruel parenting).

Given that it's my third day in a newsroom of about 75 people, only about 3 people know who I am, so it would have taken some sort of digging to track me down. I think. I wanted to ignore the message and friend request (pet peeve - private profiles should be visible if they friend request you!), but then I thought, I'll 99% likely see him again, what do I do? I ended up just replying with a, "Yup, that's me," and left it at that.

The story continues with a pretty direct/bold response if you want to hear more, but basically my point is, every single day I go about my day in the big city, seeing cute guys on the subway, at the lunch place, Starbucks, sidewalks - and I think how it would be so nice if you could just capture one and start talking, but you can't, because no one does that. And now, for the first time, that actually happened, and I'm totally creeped out.

Maybe this is unique to me, but why do I immediately call psycho for actions I hope will happen all the time? Is it being a tease? wimpy? low self-esteem-y?
I don't know....


First of all - of course I want to know more...

In an attempt to be as sensible as my friend I'll leave the detail of his direct/bold response as: he referenced her having caught his eye, paid her a direct compliment, and left an open-ended sign-off. There was also a concerning amount of ellipsis her opinion. "When a guy uses ellipsis too much I get annoyed," she said. Get that, though not re: ellipses use because I'm kind of an ellipsis whore myself, but when a guy uses exclamation points too much I immediately think he's a tool. (note: both of us are single).

But back to this issue - is this guy a freak or friend? Clever or creepy? Functioning well within the rules of social network engagement or boldly slapping them with the Facebook? (too far Wynne?)

Let's think of it this way. If there wasn't the Facebook how would this guy have contacted my friend?
  • Least invasive: waited until he saw her again and approached with a "hey, haven't seen you 'round here before.."
  • More invasive: dug around for her name, looked her up in the e-mail directory and sent an internal email with a hey there subject line.
  • Most invasive:dug around for her name, looked her up in the phone directory called and said, I like you face...
But, see, there is the Facebook, and people have become very accustomed to using it willy nilly. It's to the point where my Mom now says, "he sounds nice - grab a picture off Facebook and email it to me" - my Mom who five months ago said, "I'm quitting Facebook. I hate it. All I know how to do is the wall!"

Don't get me wrong - even though we've come to use Facebook as we do doesn't mean we should. Is the way this guy decided to get in touch with my friend more or less weird than all the other available on and offline options? Yes, way. Figure he had to dig around the office for a search term he could use (her first name?), scour the network for a picture/profile that seemed to match (note: her name is very common), and then craft a message that said I-saw-you-today-stalked-you-on-Facebook-and-am-now-introducing-myself-and-immediately-requesting-your-e-friendship-twenty-minutes-later without actually saying that...

I call creeper. Not Creepy McCreeperson - the dangerous, douchey, steer-clear variety - just your average, socially awkward, took it a little too far dude.

But to address the in-going question - should my friend be flattered because he noticed her and wanted to say so, yes. Should she feel bad for being all, "I want someone to approach me but not like thaat!" - no. As discussed, beggars can and should be choosers. But does this mean this guy is to be cast aside on account of a stalker-like introduction and improper use of ellipses? In a shocking twist that makes me a hypocrite (again...) I'm going to have to go with no.

Yes it is creepy. Yes there were other ways to get in touch with my friend. But "the rules" when it comes to Facebook and Twitter and all that shit that wasn't invented until - oh - the minute our generation needed to get its dating act together - haven't been written. Maybe this guy just didn't think it was so bad. He's wrong, but maybe we he comes from that's how they do it. So maybe he's just a nice guy who really liked a girl and was eager to tell her so?
  • My friend: oh, the benefit of the doubt. Not my strongest point.
  • Me: Sames...
  • Me: Sorry, sames.