Friday, October 29, 2010

Week 8 in LA: What a difference every single day makes

I knew my life in LA would be different than my life in New York, but I didn't really know how – and that’s both how it would be different and how different it would be.

The answer is veryvery, very, very but what’s weird is that it’s not a difference I day-to-day feel.

I guess some people – in this case me - get to a new place and immediately start assimilating to what life is like there forgetting what they would have been doing at that same given time on that same given day a previous life ago. Like last Friday night when my roommates and I had comfortably hosted 11 people around our living room for a rousing night of games (the theme of which turned out to be How Many Ways Can You Work Designing Women into a game of Celebrity ooor 10 Gay Men Play Games) I wasn’t thinking, if this were a Friday at 11pm in Manhattan I’d be drinking a very dirty martini at a bar walking distance from the apartment where I never hosted more than three people at any given time, only two of whom could share the “couch.” I’ve found that my mind just decided, this is life now, and moved on. And yet when I stop to think about just how insanely different every moment of my day now is, it’s a shock I’m not suffering more moments of what-the-hell-am-I-doing.

Take getting to work, for example. I now drive the car I pay for all by myself eight miles down the road to my office. That takes anywhere from twenty to forty minutes depending on what time I leave and what portion of Olympic they’ve decided to tear up next. I dress for this commute in whatever I intend to wear for the day. Things like the temperature of the subway or the distance I’ll have to walk in heels or how freezing it might be on my route are not factors nor is whether or not my just-straightened hair will withstand the humidity I’ll encounter from point A to point B. First of all, there is no humidity and second, I don’t encounter anything but the interior of my car – a place I keep regulated (or will once I finally figure out how to use the heat/air).

The actual workday warrants its own post about the similarities and differences between office culture in New York and LA (or more like the differences and similarity, that one item being, both include the word office).

Dinner is another cornerstone of differentiation. I have been in Los Angeles for something like 50 dinners? At least 30 of them have been consumed in a home, included more than three people and consisted of food prepared that night. Two weeks ago Robby made a three-course meal in twenty minutes on a Tuesday at 8pm. Almost every single Sunday I’ve gone to Avia and Doug’s for a Sunday morning brunch consisting of a seven item spread and no fewer than five guests. And the other night Mike and John baked not one but two apple pies from scratch (while Brian and I drank). The amount of time I spend with large groups of people in appropriately-sized living spaces is bizarre, and yet it’s like I’ve forgotten that not once in my five years in Manhattan did I attend a dinner party at a friends’ apartment. Nobody had a table big enough.

If I want to go run some errands or pick up some groceries or pop over to the Urban Outfitters, I have to drive and park. So far I haven’t figured out how to drive and not park, but I’m getting closer. As such, I do all of that much, much less. It didn’t dawn on me until the other day that I hadn’t done an ounce of unintentional shopping since I arrived in LA. It used to be that I’d be on a purposeful walk from somewhere to somewhere else (i.e. work to grocery store) and suddenly find myself in a clothing/accessories/shoe/housewares store shopping for something that I just then decided I want/needed. Or, more often, that I’d decide to spend the afternoon strolling around with no real need for anything and then four hours later find myself three neighborhoods away with a black felt fedora, vintage framed paint-by-number and a jar of kosher pickles. Here I move with intention, mostly because I've found it challenging to both drive and look at all the shops I'm passing to see if there are sale signs in the windows.

New realizations of the blatantly obvious pop up every single day - like I have yet to don a pair of socks but have already lost two pair of sunglasses or they sell liquor at CVS here?! - as I slip out of the post-move haze and into a place where I can actually look back at life eight weeks ago and marvel at what a difference a time-zone makes.

All of that said - I am proud to report that my commitment to not wearing sweatsuits - no matter how colorful - as legitimate ensembles remains very much in tact despite the peer pressure in this town.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The 500th Post Favors

Today is the 500th post.

I usually mark major blog milestones with some sap-filled opus about the power of the written word or the inspiration of good friends, or the fact that you too can have all this and more if you just wake up insanely early and only associate with people who don't care about being misquoted.

The 500 mark is no less proud a moment, but today in a spirit of I-wrote-you-500-posts, what-have-you-done? I've decided to turn the tables.

Yes, it's been a personal joy and group effort and source of advancement for my career, but it's also been a whoa lot of work. So in celebration of how far we've come I'd like to request a few 20-Nothings-themed favors to help ensure we keep going, but better:

  • If you're going home with him slash her (but probably him) because you think going home it will make him like you more so he might eventually want to date you - don't do it.
  • The very next time you're inclined to post a Facebook status update bragging about _______ place you're at with ________ amazing people eating _________ ridiculous food on behalf of _________ insane company you do business with, just don't.
  • If someone says "I love you" before you're ready to say "I love you" back, don't panic and blurt it out so you're even. Say something to the degree of, "I feel the same way about you but I want to say it in my own moment." Yes, I know how lame that sounds, but it's better than faking that major moment.
  • If someone says, "I love you" after an amount of time greater than 6 months, and you're still not ready to say it back to them, stop dating them.
  • Make a phone call today to tell someone you're thinking about them. Your Mom, your Dad, a sibling, a grandparent, a college friend a co-worker - I don't care. We don't do that enough, and it's really nice - for both parties involved. Really do it, today.
  • Watch yourself very carefully the next time you're involved in an argument with the person you're dating. There may come a moment when you are inclined to say, "you know what, it's fine" or "okay, fine, whatever" or "okay, fine, let's drop it." Try really, really hard to avoid the "fine" line. Saying something is fine ironically means it is absolutely not fine. Say what it actually is and things will get better, faster.
  • I'm not saying you have to vote (though it would be really helpful if you did, and for the correct party), but just to help save us from turning into a totally apathetic nation, could you be sure you know who's running for the major offices in this upcoming election? I'm asking because I recently had to do it myself after being totally mortified when someone asked me, and I didn't know. I used the, "I just moved here" defense.
  • Try really hard not to fake it when you're having you-know-what. I knowI know but try.
  • The next time you get wronged in any way and say, "I know, but he/she just didn't seem that like that of guy/girl" remember two things. 1. people lie, and 2. everyone has the potential to be "that kind of guy/girl."
  • And finally - if you have enjoyed this blog for any and all posts you've read of the 500 posts I've written, could you do me a huge favor and forward it to one person today with a, "give this a read!" referral? You can shoot them my twitter (@20Nothings) if that's easier. I'm not much for self-promotion, so a little word-of-mouth push to celebrate this milestone would be greatly appreciated. Note: at 1,000 posts I may start charging...
Thank you, all. Joking aside (as always) it's been worth every minute spent writing every word.

Monday, October 25, 2010

What the Cox-Arquettes can teach us about the "freebie fix"

This whole Courtney Cox and David Arquette break-up has become a very divisive issue around my various groups of friends (seven weeks in LA, and I'm proud to boast not one but three unique sets of people whose houses I know how to get to and park at).

For those not tapped-in to the celeb gossip ring, David and Courtney were having issues in their marriage caused in large part (according to David) by Courtney's sexual dry spell, which was caused in large part (according to Courtney), by David's immaturity. I'm butchering the real story here, but that's fine for the purposes of this conversation.

So to help resolve the issue, Courtney told David he could have a freebie - or something like that. A "freebie" - I now know - is the official term for letting your significant other sleep with another person, once. This is not to be confused with an "open relationship" in which you let you significant other sleep with another person, always. These terms will become important.

So Court gives David a one-girl pass. David finds one girl (whoooo looks exactly like Courtney). They have sex one or more times (I think the story goes that David can't remember if it was once or twice, which is like yeeahh, I bet... You don't remember if it was 20 or 21 times but you remember if it was just one time or another time after that just one time. Whatever.)

Which brings us - finally - to today's discussion: can a freebie save a relationship?

Let's forget about the back story in this specific situation, and the back story in any specific situation. Can slash does the tactic of allowing a partner to sleep with another person if slash when there is sexual frustration or disconnect in a relationship help that couple's own sexual and emotional relationship?

I have zero experience in this realm, thank god, as do the various friends in my various groups, so we took the theoretical approach. Here are those different theories:

1. The freebie appeases the frustrated member of the relationship while the sexually dormant member works through their issue. It's a, "sorry, but here's something to bide your time" arrangement. You love someone, you want them to be happy, so if you can't give them that happiness personally, you give it to them tangentially. They're happy, you're less guilty - problem solved. Thoughts on this include:
  • How can you be sure one freebie is going to be enough? What if the dormancy continues indefinitely? Does the partner get another freebie? And then how does that work? For every 6 months without sex one freebie is earned? And, does the problem partner have to offer the freebie for it to be fair? Or can the frustrated member request the freebie making a case for the fact that all it will take is one for them to be happy in the relationship? Seems like a very slippery slope ...
2. The freebie appeases the frustrated member of the relationship while igniting a fierce jealousy in the sexually dormant party resulting in what I guess you'd term "jealousy sex." John suggested this theory, and Avia and I both agreed that a jealous girl can be inspired to do just about anything. So this might further excite the originally frustrated party bringing their relationship - both sexual and emotional - to a heightened state and solving the issue. Thoughts here are:
  • If raging jealousy is the only way to restore passion to a relationship, isn't there a bigger issue there? When does that jealousy go away? What if the thought of the freebie becomes something the jealous party can't get over? Or, what if the intention is for the jealousy to restore the passion but the jealousy doesn't happen? What if the person realizes they really can live with their guy/girl being with another girl/guy? Would that just put the nail in the coffin? "Unless you're both incredibly strong people," Avia said, and everyone nodded with a hint of I-could-never-handle-that, in it.
3. The freebie is an agreement reached after so much fighting that both parties are beyond caring what happens at that point so long as there's a cease fire in the arguing. I don't really have additional thoughts around this other than, you're both screwed.

"But how is it any different than an open relationship?" someone appropriately asked.

The way I see it - an open relationship is a state of being. You decide as a couple that both of your sexual needs require that you sleep with more than just each other. You then set ground rules permitting both people to sleep with other people at any time (or however the rules read). It's not a "gift" of extra sex or a tactic to help one party get back to wanting sex, it's a permanent state of openness about sexual partners making it incredible different than the "freebie fix."

I'm going to come out and say that I don't believe one freebie can save most relationships. The idea of it just doesn't make enough logical sense to seem like something I'd try given all the potential trouble it could cause. To each their own, of course, but given the scenarios, I don't think I'd agree to it.

But, if for some reason I did, I'd make damn sure I included a clause preventing my partner from doing any radio appearances before, during, or directly after the event...

Friday, October 22, 2010

Why we're guarded, or at least, why I was

There are catch-phrases of the dating and relationship world that we throw around without thought:
  • You know, it's just that I'm a giver and he's a taker
  • The reason she's needy is because she's immature
  • Some people just need to fight to really communicate
And, the most oft-used of the bunch:
  • I'm just a/she's such a/we're all really guarded at first
There are guarded men, but it's generally a female-associated term. Probably because the assumption is that all men are guarded, which is why, "I'm just a sensitive guy" exists as a disclaimer.

You tend to hear (slash say) it in this half apologetic/half not tone - like it could just as easily be, "I'm sorry, I'm just really bad Excel..." It's like, "and while I feel bad/weird about that, I believe it's very far out of my control and am probably not going to change, so if you need whatever it is that Excel does, best to move on."

I know. You're thinking, being guarded is a personality trait and not understanding a computer program is just something you have to learn. Put your mind to it, and you can be an Excel wiz the likes of any accountant friend. "Guarded" is who you are deep down, not some skill or tool you're missing.

Turns out that's not true, though that was my line of thinking too for the entire duration of time I was (and really still mostly am) a guarded woman. (note: I'm trying to use the term woman more - instead of girl - because according to Elements of Style any girl over the age of 18 should be referred to as a woman. For the record, it feels ridiculous).

As the phrase reared its cliched head again most recently - prompted, yes, by a new relationship in which my guard serves little if not negative purpose - I started to think about exactly what being guarded really means.

What kinds of things happen to us to build that emotional fortress in the first place? And what's the worst thing - in our minds - that can happen if we just let it go from the start?

The easiest question first - where does that guard come from?

The way I see it you can be guarded as a result of an experience, guarded as a personality or the very dangerous combination of both.

Scenario one: you've been lead on time and time again by people who welcome you in then let you loose at whip lash speed. Just as soon as you make yourself vulnerable, emotional, a real partner in a relationship the other half runs for the hills, scared off from your "seriousness."

This is a common issue in 20-something pairings. Girl meets boy (or vice versa), girl makes clear how much she likes boy, boy leaves girl. This is why we do the dance and play the games - it's all in an effort to leave someone before they leave us first. After time all that rejection slash confusion builds up a wall of I'm-not-going-to-do-it-first(s) - tell you how much I like you, ask you where this is going, welcome you into my life fold, what have you. And, voila, we've moved over to the dark side.

In scenario two, being guarded isn't a direct result of relationship experience, but rather life experiences (trust issues from experiencing a divorce as a child/seeing negative relationship examples) or simple disposition (low self-esteem leading to an unwillingness to let someone in because you assume everyone's going to leave you). You've never personally been wronged, but you assume that is what will happen if you do x, y, or z. That or you still worship Felicity to the point of modeling her every move (which I'm not judging).

Most commonly though - it's the deadly combo. You're inclined to go guarded and so every hint of an experience in the vein the would inspire it digs your hole deeper and deeper.

In an effort to understand my own guarded nature I took to a word doc (I'm sorry, I'm just really bad at Excel) and listed out the relationships I thought had turned me guarded. Then I sat and really thought about the logical progression of those situations, how wronged I'd really been, and if I had to do it all over again how being more guarded from the very start would have protected me.

Which is how I came to the conclusion that there's a fourth category of guarded women...

See, I haven't really, truly been wronged to the point of swearing off vulnerability entirely. Yes, I've had guys pull a surprise turn in what seemed like a happily progressing relationship, but I don't think that was because I went lovey-dovey before they were ready. And yes, I've heard and seen tales of people falling victim to situations where being a bit guarded would have saved them, but when I think about why I hold back in a relationship, why I fear the steps of real commitment, and why questions like, "would you call him your boyfriend" make me nervous it's far more about control than vulnerability (yes, they're intertwined, but hear me out).

There is the type of guard that goes up defensively (as a direct result of hurt) and the type of guard that goes up offensively (as a result of being the kind of person who only knows how to play for the offense...).

I'm that version. A moderate control freak with a some minor perfectionism issues and a slight discomfort with anything involving failure. I'm methodical, rational, and generally ceremonial about things I take seriously. It took me one full year from the time I decided I should probably move to Los Angeles to actually get myself there. I feel most comfortable when planning out events three to four months in the future, emailing the details of those plans to myself, and filing that e-mail in a specifically labeled folder.

It's not that I don't know how to be vulnerable or that I necessarily think being vulnerable is going to make a man run away, it's that I've scheduled vulnerability for week six, and it's only week three.

In my mind relationships should progress at a very specific pace, and in my plans, I control said pace. Part of that is because I'm fiercely independent and hesitant to bring too much "we" into my "I" - but most of it is because rejiggering my mental state to relationship mode takes a controlling person like me much longer, even when all signs point to, let this guy in. ("all signs" in my case represented by a phone call from Katie saying, "Don't #$%!& this up!).

I think being guarded can be very fair, very logical, and very much out of our control. But I think there has to come a time in the beginning of every relationship that feels different than the rest where you say, "I'm acting this way because I _________" - am conditioned to/am legitimately worried/am not sure how I feel/know no other way to act.

And, in my experience, if you can get to the point of saying it directly to the person, you'll find out just how worthy they are of you letting your guard down.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Why I/we/they tweet, and what it's worth

I was against Twitter the first time I heard about it. It was two, maybe two and a half years ago, and David and I were having one of our 8:00am Grey Dog catch-up breakfasts in which he lectures me about how to get more traffic for the blog, I lecture him about how to properly date women, and neither of us really listens. Joining Twitter was his reco of the day. Join as 20-Nothings, he told me, and tweet snippets from your blog posts or other thoughts you have that are relevant to what you write.

It am not great at a lot of things (saving money, dressing down, expressing heartfelt affection without a follow-up joke) but I am terrible at a select few thing, and adapting to new technology is one of them (the other ones are math, running sports, and disguising my reaction to things I find rude). So it wasn't so much that I didn't appreciate the idea of Twitter, it was more that I couldn't figure out how to use it. Yes, I now know that it's a Facebook wall with a 140 character limit, but at the time it was very overwhelming slash hard to read.

To say that Twitter is huge would be boring - it is, in the finally appropriate words of Rachel Zoe, "everything" - which is why I was surprised to hear Malcolm Gladwell - the man who first wrote about how something becomes so "everything" - come out so strongly against Twitter as a form of social change in his recent New Yorker article - Social Change: why the revolution will not be tweeted.

I get his point - Twitter makes us lazy activists willing to throw 140 character support at any cause we have 30 seconds to re-tweet. Can Twitter really organize us, really move the social needle on anything from US policy reform to Iranian elections? I don't know. I've never thought about Twitter that way, and I'd venture to guess that neither have you.

Twitter is, above all, about self promotion. Whether your self is telling your 20 followers that the party you're at is bumpin' or that some comedian is hysterical or - more likely - that you're hysterical.

Can something so intentionally selfish ever motivate people in a new direction?

Twitter founder Biz Stone thinks so. He came out against Gladwell in a piece for The Atlantic. He points to all sorts of research proving the impact of Twitter - its use in charity fundraising, political organizing, and the like.

Ends Stone:

"Small Change" dismisses leaderless, self-organizing systems as viable agents of change. A flock of birds flying around an object in flight has no leader yet this beautiful, seemingly choreographed movement is the very embodiment of change. Rudimentary communication among individuals in real time allows many to move together as one--suddenly uniting everyone in a common goal. Lowering the barrier to activism doesn't weaken humanity, it brings us together and it makes us stronger."

I agree with both writers on the issue. Major social change the likes of the Civil Rights Movement will not be organized on Twitter, but at this point it will not go down without it.

"It's just a promotion vehicle," David told me all that time ago, "That's the most it can do."

I don't know if I like it, and I don't know if I'm glad, mad, or ashamed that I do it, but I think that "most it can do" is actually enough to change the world - in one way or another.


Monday, October 18, 2010

The great marriage-age divide: NY vs. LA

It's come up more than a few times in my six plus weeks in L.A. - the question of whether there are more married 20-somethings in New York than there are in L.A.

I always respond the I have the exact same number of very good friends who are already married in New York as I do in L.A. - zero - but I think that may be a bizarre case of no-one-within-a-10-mile-radius-of-me-is-prepared-to-get-married (except for you, Carl. well done!).

But people here seem to think that our New York counterparts get married earlier with greater frequency. They've apparently found the pocket of East coast 20-somethings that evades me.

"I have four sets of married friends in New York," said one single-ish, 26-year-old Los Angelene, "and only one of them is from college." (note: the "from college" issue somewhat disqualifies couples from this specific argument because there's an egg timer on a post-grad to marriage relationship that should take savings etc. into consideration, but doesn't).

Their collective theory on this maybe-issue is that it's all about money.

More people in New York work in varied industries (law, finance, marketing, etc.) that lead to higher salaries earlier in life. Higher salaries mean more savings and greater stability in life. More savings and greater stability in life mean a faster progression toward let's-be-real-adults-now. And with that comes dough to buy a diamond, move into a married apartment (they're generally bigger than single-person apartments and have closets) and start playing house (minus the playing part). Yes there are 28-year-olds in Manhattan making 40K as associate editors at major fashion magazines, but they are fewer and further between. The typical New Yorker graduates from assistant to associate (or beyond) at age 25, 27 at the latest.

Not the case in L.A.

First - an insanely high percentage of people work in the entertainment industry, which is issue number one. Second - within this industry pay starts lower than almost any job in New York (I know, I fought it too, but it's true) and stays that low for much longer. It is absolutely customary to spend four to five years as an assistant here (or as they say, "on a desk") without it being because no one knows how to tell you it's never going to happen. And those are people who actually have salaried jobs. This is a town full of freelancers. If you're a baby writer (term for young writers) scraping by on what you make from one script sale to the next, the last thing on your mind is settling down and getting married. You don't even necessarily have health insurance let alone the ability to plan out the next five years.

I argued that in New York people have relationship shiny ball syndrome - so many options, so many places to meet them and as such, so little interest in locking it down. New York invented the Big-style bachelor! It's filled with men and women who are career versus life-partner focused, whose standards are so high they'd never marry themselves, and who would rather bar hop on the Bowery than couch surf in Brooklyn. It's not about the money, I argued, it's about the personality of the town.

If you think New York is full of career-driven perfectionists, one friend told me, L.A. culture clearly hasn't sunk in. This is a town that people move to largely-if-not-solely to succeed in one, specific industry (I'm lumping music and all of entertainment together here). Yes, NYC is full of career-driven post-grads, but it's also populated by east coasters who picked the nearest, biggest city and people who have fallen into an industry that has strong opportunity in New York - i.e. if you work in finance you could live in Boston or Chicago, but perhaps you landed in New York.

People - in large part - move to Los Angeles to pursue one, specific thing. Many of them - this girl included - would actually prefer not to live here but do so because of a given passion. The last thing a person like that wants to do is lose sight of the dream on account of a time-consuming dating detour. Dating means less time spent on your screenplay/short film/first album and marriage means tying yourself down to someone who may not be on your same passion-drive progression.

Long story short - could it be that while marriage may be a low priority in the life of a New Yorker it's even lower in the life of a 20-something in L.A.?

The jury's still out in my opinion. I moved from one place to the next and grew no more or less terrified of marriage. But then again, I've only been here for six plus weeks. Perhaps the transition from a 7 to a 11 on the no-way-am-I-ready-for-that scale just hasn't taken effect...

*yes, that was a movie (that doesn't apply, but still felt right. and why yes, of course you can buy it off amazon immediately).

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Father knows best or how you can tell if a guy is defective

I expected a New York City-style hail storm (ouch guys) of hate mail in response to my Duke Sex List opinion piece. Soap-boxing of that variety usually leads to some "who do you think you are" comments - which aren't necessarily unwarranted.

Not only were those fewer and further between this time, but I got an unexpected message from the father of a college-aged girl containing a line that's at the wisdom level of a certain Sex and the City episode (slash best-selling book, now wildly disappointing movie).

"Men, at least men I have known including myself, are all, without exception, 16 year old piggish idiots. It doesn't matter if they are some rich kid jock at Duke or some old guy like me. That's how we roll. The thing is, the right woman gives us a reason to be better than that. Women are better than we are. They're supposed to be better and they are. If the right woman doesn't make a guy want to be a better man then the guy is defective."
"If the right woman doesn't make a guy want to be a better man then the guy is defective."

Let's leave the "women are better than we are" part out of this and focus on people in general. That's one hell of a line, but if you break it apart it sort of makes everything make sense.

See people - in general - prefer to do the least amount of work possible to get the most amount of reward. You'd be inclined to use the catch-all adjective "lazy" to describe that disposition, but that's not really enough. Lazy is about being inactive, procrastinating a lot, sleeping through spin class. You can be lazy as a personality or lazy for an afternoon. You can also be emotionally lazy or professionally lazy. But when it comes to the bigger picture issue at the root of what I think this guy/dad is talking about it's more than lazy - it's lame.

Many people - in all of life but especially in relationships - elect not to do or figure out how to do the most ____________ thing. Most loving, most mature, most kind, most considerate, most thoughtful, most constructive - you get the picture. In every issue that comes up - from birthday gifting to how to handle those early Friday night dates to awkward conversations about sex - there is the correct or really-close-to-correct way to handle it, and there is the lame way.

It's not universal, meaning every relationship is different and every person has different needs. So a person you're dating can be lame in the general sense (is usually an asshole) or lame in the specific sense (doesn't care to figure out what you specifically want/like/need and then act on that knowledge).

What I think this man is getting at is that women are more likely to know the correct way to handle things when it comes to relationships. We're wired that way. Man are less likely to know the correct way and more inclined to try to get away with not figuring it out. In making that decision they are electing to be lame. It's not a world wide mystery how to handle a stressed out girlfriend or how to behave the first time you meet someone's parents or how to not be a way bigger douche when a guy you come across is being a pretty big douche. But you have to think about it and then execute on that thought.

So - to the point - if a guy isn't electing to figure that shit out and thus be less lame around/for/with/to impress a girl - he's defective. Guys should want to step outside their comfort zone and up their game for a girl who's worth it. If they're half-assing it, they're half into it. If they claim to be fully assing it but still fall into the consistently lame category, they're defective.

Jack Nicholson said it in one pretty damn romantic sentence - "you make me want to be a better man."

Bottom line - straight from a wise elder - it's possible. So if it isn't happening, it isn't going to.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Week 5: Was moving to L.A. worth it?

Around the fourth or fifth week after you move to Los Angeles people stop asking how you're adjusting to the move, if you're going crazy with all the traffic, or what you think of the weather and switch - in unison - to a very specific question:

So, are you glad you made the move?

Am I glad I decided to leave my job, family, best friends and significant collection of vintage winter coats to move clear across the country in pursuit of a TBD future in the entertainment industry?

I have yet to find a proper earring tree or wash a load of darks (listen, I have a lot of black underwear), and I'm being asked to evaluate whether or not the most significant decision of my life was a good one? I'm still trying to decide if being a Communications major was the right move, and I'm five years out! (I'm leaning towards no.)

They ask it like there's a chance I'll say no. No, I think this was a huge mistake. No, I can tell I'm not going to like anything about this place. No, I'm not making the kind of progress I projected for week four; I'm fairly sure I'll fail.

"Well, I say, it's only been a few week so..."

There are only certain circumstances in life that you can get away with the "so" trail off.
  • Someone: You're pregnant! Congratulations!
  • You: Well, we're not married so...
  • Someone: I hear you're looking for a new job?
  • You: Well, I got fired from the other one, so...
  • Someone: So things never worked out between you and _________ huh?
  • You: Well, he's gay now, so...
The truth, of course, is that I've been asking myself that same question since week two (only b/c week one was spent asking myself when the #$!& my shit was going to arrive from New York).

I am a keeper of scores, a critical assesser of situations, a compulsive writer of pro/con lists. It took me two years, three months and seven twists of fate to convince me to move to L.A. in the first place. Of course I'm engaged in a daily mind battle over whether or not I'm glad I did, and of course I have an answer that doesn't require a trail off.

But to understand why I can know that moving to L.A. was the right decision after just five weeks, you have to know why I thought I should move in the first-place.

See, despite being so painfully bad with numbers to allow this line:
  • Peter: I'm thinking of going to Fred Segal later. It's their 2/3rd's off sale!
  • Me: WOW - 75%!?!?!
I believe that life is a numbers game driven by luck. A numbers game in that finding and achieving what you want is about putting yourself in a place where there's the greatest chance for that to happen. And luck in that opportunity-meets-preparedness sense.

I want very much for the epicenter of the entertainment industry to be in New York. I want agencies and production companies to have as much presence there as they do in L.A. I want every single show that films on the East coast to be written out of the East coast.

Unfortunately that's not the case.

I had been told time and time again that the greatest opportunity for people pursuing what I'm pursuing is here in L.A., and I've had enough of my own experiences prove that true. I believed I would come here and start to meet people who want to help me advance my career, and I have. I believed I would have a better opportunity to learn the in's and out's of the industry, and I do. I believed I'd be motivated by the energy of creative development in this town, and I am.

Here there are the greatest number of opportunities for me to bring everything I've prepared, but that's not why I'm so sure that I'm glad I moved to L.A.

I'm glad I moved because now I know that I can. Transition out of one career and attempt to enter the next. Say goodbye-for-awhile to family and friends. Organize my life into must-keep and can-live-without. Move myself, by myself, into a new home in a new state on a new coast. And - most importantly - negotiate a lease on a car.

I am glad I did those things because now I've done those things, and dramatic as it may seem, I feel forever changed having gone through this process. My strength and will and ability to build Ikea furniture has been tested and, at five weeks in, I'm proud to say I've passed (despite one brief meltdown over a faulty shoe rack, which is annoyingly poetic).

So yes, I'm glad I moved to L.A. Very, very glad. It was the right decision for a number of reasons, but practical and emotional.

And those are all outside of the unexpected eighth twist of fate, but we'll talk about him some other time...

Thursday, October 7, 2010

My take on the Duke F**k List

I'm always torn when things like this pop up. "Things like this" being the sex diary of a former Duke student that went viral early this week.

On the one hand I want to say, "who cares?" or "that's interesting" or "wow guys really have terrible grammar when sexting" but then on the other I think, "this is an example of really immature behavior that's now being called female self-empowerment.'"

This time I gathered my thoughts on the subject for - Aol's women's lifestyle site. Give a read and feel free to add your own opinion in comments or e-mails before this story's 15 minutes are up (I'm guessing by next Wednesday, latest).

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

The Top 10 Things _____________s Like About Their ________friends

A few days ago some gchat conversation jogged some thought in my mind that prompted a theory about the differences between guys and girls. This happens between twenty and five hundred times a day depending on how busy I am at work and whether or not Chris is on gchat. On this particular day he was, and we got into a conversation about what people really like about the people they're dating - not necessarily what attracts someone to another person but what, once in a committed relationship, is it that really matters to guys versus girls.

It's fuzzy now, but I believe my exact theory was that there would be a strong disparity between what guys say versus girls. I think I assumed guys would say a lot of things about the personality traits, looks, and behaviors of the girl whereas girls would mostly mention things about how the guy treats her specifically. If I had to come up with a theory again right now that's what it would be, so let's go with that.

The reality is that it doesn't matter because whatever specific theory I had, it was completely wrong. I asked 16 people, 8 guys and 8 girls, to give me the 10 things they like most about their significant other - as simple or specific as possible. Two of the 16 people I asked were actually dating one-another, which I thought would be the most helpful direct comparison.

I was right, except that the direct comparison proved my theory wrong.

Below is a laundry list of what individual people said. I've changed all the pronouns to "it" as if we're discussing babies with TBD gender and disguised any other obvious gender-based responses. The people are going to stay anonymous because I promised.

Take a look, take a guess, and then scroll down for the reveal:

  • That it's got emotions; where I hide/control mine, it lets loose. Put another way, it knows how to be vulnerable and I don't.
  • It's independent; although it chooses to see me as often as possible, it makes its own fun
  • Outrageous passion for its field of work.
  • It loves me just the way I am.
  • It shows me that I'm a priority 99% of the time
  • Its eyes. The eyes always get me.
  • It’s completely devoid of sexual issues and hang-ups. This is rare.
  • In a room full of people it doesn't know, it wouldn't need me by its side but has more fun when I am
  • I love the way it cares for me. I've never had someone who has loved me the way it does
  • It’s love for its family and mine; in addition, my family's love for it
  • It’s great (body part)
  • Does it count to say that it's absolutely trustworthy? That means a lot to me
  • It’s ability to have fun and be fun.
  • That it wants to learn and be better at things, for example going to graduate school, cooking, working out, etc.
  • That it cares about its career and is dedicated to it.
  • Passion. I don't always agree with it- in fact I agree with it possibly less than more when it comes to a wide range of topics from politics to our opinion on Lady Gaga (I'm pro, it's anti). It is not just agreeable and amenable- I think that would get boring.
  • Its love of my friends and their love of it
  • That it and I work in the same industry. Brings a level of understanding and allows us to always have something to talk about.
  • That I am friends with its friends and it is friends with my friends. And that when they are all together, they all are friends.
  • It’s (body part)
  • It knows I am obsessed with sports. And is ok with it.
  • My family likes it. Means something.
  • Its loud, sometimes booming, laugh.
  • The Sex. I mean this in a broad sense. Not just the actual act of coitus, but it's been 2 years and it still looks amazing to me/for me and the passion hasn't waned one bit.
  • It is very good/charming with children/families/elderly/pets
  • Its heart. Again sounds lame, but it is not a jaded NYer.
  • It takes care of all the things I hate to do
  • It is attractive
  • Geeky, in a good way (doesn't act like it is too hip, enjoys Jeopardy, crosswords)
  • It’s ambitious
  • It’s very caring and sensitive, particularly in a crisis
  • It and I want the same things in the future: kids, fulfilling careers, NYC
  • It has really pretty greyish-blue eyes
  • It’s (body part) is really amazing.
  • It’s not a Republican (thank God)
  • It looks like a cross between ________ and _______. Seriously.
  • It's smarter than me
  • It’s trying really hard to like the football team with which I am irrationally obsessed.
  • It will eat anything.

And now the reveal:
  • That she's got emotions; where I hide/control mine, she lets loose. Put another way, she knows how to be vulnerable and I don't.
  • She's independent; although she chooses to see me as often as possible, she makes her own fun
  • Outrageous passion for his field of work.
  • He loves me just the way I am.
  • He shows me that I'm a priority 99% of the time
  • Her eyes. The eyes always get me.
  • He’s completely devoid of sexual issues and hang-ups. This is rare.
  • In a room full of people she doesn't know, she wouldn't need me by her side but has more fun when I am
  • I love the way she cares for me. I've never had someone who has loved me the way she does
  • Her love for her family and mine; in addition, my family's love for her
  • Her great breasts
  • Does it count to say that she's absolutely trustworthy? That means a lot to me
  • Her ability to have fun and be fun.
  • That she wants to learn and be better at things, for example going to graduate school, cooking, working out, etc.
  • That she cares about her career and is dedicated to it.
  • Passion. I don't always agree with her- in fact I agree with her possibly less than more when it comes to a wide range of topics from politics to our opinion on Lady Gaga (I'm pro, she's anti).
  • Her love of my friends and their love of her
  • That we work in the same industry. Brings a level of understanding and allows us to always have something to talk about.
  • That I am friends with her friends and she is friends with my friends. And that when they are all together, they all are friends.
  • Her boobs
  • She knows I am obsessed with sports. And is ok with it.
  • My family likes her. Means something.
  • Her loud, sometimes booming, laugh.
  • The Sex. I mean this in a broad sense. Not just the actual act of coitus, but it's been 2 years and she still looks amazing to me/for me and the passion hasn't waned one bit.
  • He is very good/charming with children/families/elderly/pets
  • Her Heart. Again sounds lame, but girl is not a jaded NYer
  • He takes care of all the things I hate to do
  • He’s attractive
  • Geeky, in a good way (doesn't act like he is too hip, enjoys Jeopardy, crosswords)
  • He’s ambitious
  • He’s very caring and sensitive, particularly in a crisis
  • She and I want the same things in the future: kids, fulfilling careers, NYC
  • He has really pretty greyish-blue eyes
  • Her ass is really amazing.
  • He’s not a Republican (thank God)
  • He looks like a cross between Steve McQueen and James Dean. Seriously.
  • He's smarter than me.
  • He's trying really hard to like the football team with which I am irrationally obsessed.
  • He will eat anything.

So, aside from the fact that guys like boobs, asses and sex - we seem to love very similar things in one another.

For once, I'm glad my theory was wrong.

And a TBD number of fake points if you know what that picture is this post's picture.

The "Are you that girl" quiz

This is one of those I-wish-I-thought-of-that moments. LADY GUNN is a "cool magazine based in New York and LA" (from their website, but that's really the best way to describe it). They feature fashiony, pop-cultury, music-reviewy things in their pages and on their website.

In addition to - apparently - the funniest female-focused lifestyle quiz I've ever seen, and I mean un-ironically funny (because one time I saw a quiz title, "Is Your Baby Really Your Baby or Just a Big Baby" and that obviously wins).


"An essential quiz to test your level of crazy"

As the mag puts it, "We’ve all heard about them – those tragic girls who give us sane women a bad name. The stalkers, the baby-talkers, the divas… good thing we’re not one of them. But it seems like every guy we know has dated a few of these maniacs. Which means either all these chicks are living on an island that only men can access or… we ARE those girls – at least every once in a while. Gasp! So how can you tell if you’ve crossed over into Territory Bonkers?"

What follows are seven simple questions in the form of real-world hypotheticals - what-would-you-do's? of the dating and relationship world. Things like: You’re getting ready to go to a party with your boyfriend. It’s been a long, stressful week and you could really use a compliment. Even just a little one. When he takes a look at you in your fabulous new outfit and simply asks if you’re ready to leave, do you.... - and then there are four hysterical multiple choice options.

Here's what I love most about this quiz. You can't take it and not feel a liiiitttllleee bit like "that girl." I read the questions, I answered honestly, I came out "not crazy" - but that's just because I have a lot of self control over my freak flag. With every single question there was a multiple choice answer in the "that girl" category that I have thought of doing, wanted to do, almost done, or actually done but figured out a way to undo before it was too late.

Moral of the story: we're all that girl from time to time - it's just about quieting that inner crazy as much as possible so that we don't drive the entire male (and female because there is nothing more annoying than dealing with a "that girl" friend) away.

Unless, of course, I'm right about my theory that most guys actually like crazy girls...

*photo from Lady Gunn

Friday, October 1, 2010

Marie Claire says there are 12 Types of Women. I take a deep breath and say....

I want you to know that in general I try to be very open-minded about all topics surrounding relationships and dating. It’s mostly because I think the whole category is such a complete and total crap shoot that any opinions slash theories are just as valid as any others. Also (mostly) there’s the pot/kettle issue.

But every once in awhile I come across something that is just asking for ridicule.

From the article:
"There's a brand-new book out called (deep breath) Seeking Happily Ever After: Navigating the Ups and Downs of Being Single Without Losing Your Mind (and Finding Lasting Love Along the Way). To write it, author Michelle Cove interviewed more than 100 women and talked to them about how relationships based on what they think they should want often leave them unhappy. She tried to determine what it was that they truly wanted — in the process, getting readers to think a little more deeply about what their dream relationship might really be like. After interviewing so many women, Cove began to think that most of them fit into one of 12 categories, which she defines for us below."

Yes, I do recall the essay I wrote under a week ago about the three kinds of males, but this is a very different animal. That was about the overarching categories men fall into when dealing with women based on their relative maturity. This is A. focusing on the 12 different categories of female relationship seeker a woman can be and B. wrong.

It’s not the idea of it that’s the issue. I actually do think there are types of women just like there are types of men – so does a male friend of mine who has a theory on types of women that’s as precise as mine on men (which I coincidentally asked him to write up for Monday’s post, so stay tuned). My issue with this article is the categories themselves. Is this really it? Can't you be many of these things at one time? Is the idea that these are 12 common phases women experience in the process of seeking a partner? If so why is it oh-so-generally titled the 12 Types of Women...
Here’s my recap and retort:

The Soul-Mate Seeker: Someone who is doing everything she can to find The One.
  • This first one is pretty valid. There are women out there who are in hot pursuit of the last man they'll ever date, but there are also women out there who go through phases of that chase. One month they want "the one" - the next they want to play the field.
The Phoenix: A woman who recently had a painful breakup and is doing everything she can to rise from the ashes in better shape.
  • Again, I've know that woman, but what about the woman who recently had a breakup and is doing everything she can to consume the whole of Yogurtland's (I live in LA now), supply while drinking vodka/vodka's to re-runs of Felicity?
The Organic: She prefers to leave things up to destiny and live her own life rather than hunting for men in any methodical or calculated way.
  • Yes, and amen, but I have a theory that absolutely no one fully ascribes to this theory. In a lot of ways I've always been The Organic, but in a lot of other ways I've spent an embarrassing amount of hours pursuing people I thought "destiny" may have overlooked.
The Princess-in-Waiting: She is waiting to be rescued by a prince (who sure is taking his royal time).
  • My problem with this may be that I'm not a huge fan of this type, but it's also that this means we have overlap between The Organic and The Princess. Don't they both believe time and fate should take it course? It is that one is entitled and the other is disengaged?
The Late Bloomer: The rest of her life is on hold while she waits for her future husband to appear.
  • Wait, then how is the Late Bloomer different from the Princess? Is it that she's waiting for him to come but doesn't need him to rescue her once he gets there? And what exactly does, "the rest of her life is on hold" mean? Is it that her singular focusing is finding a man, or rather that man finding her? Because if so, whoa. But if you're going to put your entire life on hold wouldn't you maybe want to put in a little more effort toward the goal than just waiting for it to happen?
The Free Spirit: She worries that she can only have one or the other — her independence or a committed relationship. (And she thinks the former is better.)
  • I have no issues with this, prrroobbaabblyy because I've been this for the majority of my dating life.
The Wedding Wisher: She suddenly finds herself fantasizing about marriage after a lifetime of not caring about it.
  • Yes, okay, fine, but then which other category is she when it comes to actually finding that man? Is this a Chinese menu of categories? Can one be the Wedding Wisher and The Princess-in-Waiting (seems logical), and what happens when we run into a philosophical inconsistency like A Wedding Wisher and a Free Spirit?
The Town Rebel: She no longer aspires to live the cookie-cutter lifestyle of everyone else in her community, though she once used to.
  • I like the idea of this one but it doesn't seem to follow suit with the others and, again, seems to require the pairing of a how-you-feel-about-finding-a-man type to make it complete, no?
The Ritual Re-inventor: A woman who wants to get hitched but also feels very strongly about having an unconventional marriage (right down to the wedding ceremony).
  • Are we really reserving an entire category of woman for people who don't want banquet hall weddings?
The Someday-Mom: She would like to have babies someday, but wishes she didn't feel so much biological pressure to figure it out fast.
  • So, The Every Single Woman. Again - this isn't a category, it's a sub-type. You can in one phase of life be a The Phoenix and later end of the Someday-Mom.
The Slow & Steady: A woman who hopes to marry when the time is right. Meanwhile, she does her best not to cave to the massive pressure she feels from friends, family, and society.
  • So, The Sensible. And again, again - aren't most of us this woman at some point in our lives? I mean, what's the opposite of "doing your best not to cave to the pressure"? - having a nervous breakdown and booking an arranged marriage? This just feels like a given, and therefore not a category.
The Trailblazer: A woman who knows married life is not for her, so she's trying to break a new kind of path to happiness.
  • Yes. Finally. This may actually be a category of woman. Though I'm not quite sure how you could 100% know married life isn't for you without experiencing something very close to it, but the idea that a woman has this distinct perspective is possible and does separate her - category-wise - from other types of relationship-oriented women.
I know it's just an idea - just one author's assessment after a look at the female landscape, but I do feel that articles like this make us think we have to be one (or more) of the 12 and that, if we are that makes it okay "Oh, well I'm a Princess-in-Waiting so I really can't do online dating because it goes against my type."

Like I said - I think there are categories of women relative to their maturity levels - just like the boys/guys/men progression - and some of these 12 fit into that TBD set. But for me personally, this list is a little too limiting and a lot too simple.

Making me the obviously missing 13th woman - The Complicator.