Monday, October 31, 2011

The 10 Ten Things I Fear Most About My 10 Year High School Reunion



I wonder if there are people out there who receive their 10-year HS reunion invite and go, "YES! The night I've been waiting for! I am filled with joy and healthy anticipation. I have no fears or anxieties. I am fully confident in all I've done in the past 10 years and can't wait to share it with my nearest and dearest former friends."

I think there's a chance I'm dating a person who falls into that group.

I am, not surprisingly, not among that easy, breezy set. I have fears. I have insecurities. And I have a exactly 25 days to get over it.

Perhaps publishing them on the Internet will help?


10. That I will have forgotten the names of people whose names I should not have forgotten.

9. That people will have forgotten my name because, apparently, it was forgettable.

8. That more than 75% of the people in attendance will be in considerably better shape than I am.

7. That, either, no one will read this blog or know that it exists or that many people will read this blog and hate that it exists.

6. That the passage of time will render people far too comfortable with informing me that I was a an uptight, goody two-shoes.

5. That my New Jersey accent will re-render its unfortunate head...and stick for any amount of time.

4. That someone will bring up the whole "Most Likely To Succeed" thing in the context of, "guess that prediction was a little off."

3. That people will respond to my saying, "I am a writer," with, "please list all the titles of the writing have you sold."

2. That every single one of the people I had crushes on throughout my four high school years will be happily married.

1. That I will drunk confess my former love for each and every one of them.

Stay-tuned for my post-game coverage. And in the meantime, please share your own reunion worst fears in comments.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Pride vs. Progress: why you should just tell him how much you like him already



(This blog post may-or-may-not have been inspired by a "Dear Abby" I read in the Teen Vogue I may-or-may-not subscribe to...)

I used to do the whole "keep-your-real-feelings-for-the-guy-a-secret" thing.

In the early stages of dating, I'd walking on egg shells about my desire to see him three times a week and talk to him every day in between. If things got a little more serious, I'd keep the "girlfriend" behavior in check. I wouldn't leave things at his place. I wouldn't assume I could stay over without asking. I wouldn't assume I was invited to events he'd mention. When things progressed beyond "a month or two in," I'd be sure to keep the future-talk to a minimum - no "my friend is getting married in six months" or "what are your plans for Thanksgiving?"

I think all of this was done in an attempt to avoid getting hurt. I think I thought that If I didn't like him more than he liked me, I would avoid heartbreak slash embarrassment. I think my goal was to prove that I wasn't some crazy, desperate, serious girl looking to lock this guy down. We were keeping it casual. I was fine with him, fine without. I was the guy who was incredibly easy to date.

Man was that a waste of time.

I think it's because I'm older. Maybe it's also because being in a relationship made me a bit wiser? Maybe it's because I've seen way too many people get burned by the very antics I ascribed to in my years being "cool?"

Whatever the reasons, I'd kill to go back and smack some sense into that oh-so-casual self. Post-smacking, here is what I would tell her:
  • If you want to be in a real relationship, own it. It doesn't matter if you're 22, 24, 28 or 30. Admit you're looking for a stable, loving, committed relationship and accept nothing less.
  • The sooner you give him an indication of where you'd like this dating arrangement to go, the sooner he'll give you one back. If they match, great, congrats! If they don't, END IT. Dating someone who doesn't want it to go anywhere real with you is a really strange set-up.
  • The ability to be openly loving to someone and have that affection returned is among the biggest benefits of dating. If you're not doing it for any number of reasons relating to a fear of scaring a guy off, reconsider. If affection scares him, have a talk. If affection still scares him after that talk, have a break-up talk and then a giant cocktail.
  • There is "being a clingy/needy/demanding" new girlfriend and there is developing fair expectations around a growing relationship. Decide what you're looking for, and if the dude can't/won't/doesn't meet you around/about there, move on. If I could tell my 22-year-old self one thing it would be that being alone is less lonely than being in a relationship with someone who doesn't do "relationship" like you need it done.
Now, how to get this blog post in front of that Teen Vogue reader...

Monday, October 24, 2011

Relationship advice from yet another dentist



Three years ago I went to the dentist in NYC and got completely unsolicited relationship advice that I posted here on this blog.

Last week it happened again. Different city. Different dentist. Same barrage of advice on dating, relationships, marriage and children that I by no means requested. This time Dr. West Coast peppered in some general thoughts on both pop culture, history and philosophy.

Sos not to deny this bizarre occurrence its very own blog post, here goes.

LIFE ADVICE FROM MY DENTIST: part two

  • "Do not marry a man who is younger than 31-32...maybe 30 if he seems like he's got his noggin' on straight and his zipper zipped up."
  • "If the guy you're with hasn't succeeded in his business by the time he's 30, he never will. I'm telling you. It's a fact."
  • "People who get married in their early 20's have a real, real hard time making it. They just do. Plain and simple."
  • "You wanna be real careful about being with a guy who makes less money than you - as a woman. If the man makes more money than the woman it becomes a giant mess. Equal pay, fine. Less, disaster. Really creates resentment, which - you know - deeply affects things in the bedroom."
  • "You're probably going to want to convert to Judaism so your kids don't end up screwed up. I mean, I should say, do want you want religion-wise - I don't care if they're Buddhist - but make sure you present a unified front to the kids, religion-wise. They need that."
  • "You know Thomas Jefferson was an atheist?"
  • "If you're gonna get re-married make sure the guy isn't too close to his kids, if he has any from a previous marriage. That'll really screw things up."
  • "I don't know much, but I'll tell you one thing I know for sure - that Marcus Bauchmann is gay as hell."
  • "Whatta ya think - should I throw the dental gig away and get into that Dr. Phil work? Huh?" (pinches cheeks)
Those are the direct quotes I remember clear as day. There were also some comments on the dangers of fundamentalist Christians, how hard it is to believe in God after a tragedy and what happens if you have kids before you're married (note: nothing good).

Apparently somewhere inside my mouth there's a tattoo that reads, "please provide me with tons of inappropriate and judgmental advice while you have my ability to respond in your hands, literally." That or I have the absolute worst taste in dentists...albeit consistent.

Friday, October 21, 2011

How To Move To Los Angeles: there are two kinds of people in this city

The series continues with a look at the two very distinct sets of creatures that inhabit this specific corner of the world.



Based on my observations there are two kinds of people who live in L.A.: "real people" and "not people."

"Real people" are those who, if you took them out of L.A. and plopped them down in any other city in the US, would function just the same (albeit likely frustrated by the lack of avocados on restaurant menus). Upon meeting them their new neighbors would say, "that's a real person."

"Not people" are those who, if you did the same, would not be able to function as human beings in this non-L.A. environment. Upon hearing rumor of these people (they likely won't fraternize with the locals) their new neighbors would say, "what the $@#&*! is wrong with those people??"

Allow me to attempt to explain.

"Real people" have real jobs, real lives, real families and real friends. They go about their day attending to the tasks necessary to make their lives continue to go 'round. They behave in a manner befitting of the tasks they need to complete. They perceive the world around them as it actually exists. They take care of themselves (their bodies, their minds, their souls) in a manner similar to 99% of the world's humans. In short - they move with the general flow of the traffic of life.

Yes "real people" may have crazy/interesting/bizarre/only-in-L.A. jobs. They might be somewhat reclusive writers, insanely loud comedians, fairly eccentric directors or make-up artists with arm sleeve tattoos, dozens of piercings and bright, pink hair. They might be macrobiotic-exclusive vegans. It's not about what they do, it's about who they are.

Which is why they would fare well enough in any other city. People might find them strange, artsy or concernedly prone to testing out fad diets, but they'll get along well enough.

Not the case for "not people." To best illustrate what makes this set so far from real humans and thus so completely unable to function outside of this Mothership, I'll describe a few manners in which they successfully operate here in Los Angeles. All of these examples are rooted in reality.
  • A not person might request that all materials he reads be typed using one specific typewriter and one specific type of paper. No e-mail on a computer, no scripts on an iPad, no books in paperback, no newspapers on news paper. Every single thing he reads must be re-typed by an assistant hired to re-type everything single thing he wants to read using the specific typewriter and paper of his preference. Because, see, in any other city no one in their right mind would actually take that assistant gig.
  • A not person might eat only raw foods everywhere they go. At home they are exclusively prepared by a personal chef, but when dining out their assistant simply calls the restaurant of their choice ahead-of-time and explains your specific dietary request. Because, see, in most other cities in this country the restaurant would say, $%&*! off.
  • A not person might yell and scream profanities at the top of their lungs to employees, their boss, their clients, and/or anyone else their might do business with as a means to get their point across. Additional scare-tactics may also be employed to drive the point home. See above, add: you'd get fired because there would be an HR department...that did something.
  • A not person might not shower, not leave the house, not speak to a specific list of people they don't care to speak to, not write the script/edit the movie/produce the show their agents have been promising they will finish for the past six months and STILL being considered a genius whose work is coveted by many, many people. Same but: you'd be homeless.
And so you see a few of the ways in which Los Angeles enables not people to be people can be successful humans where elsewhere they would be rendered unemployed social outcasts with no restaurants to turn to.

Sometimes I think some of the "not people" could survive just as well in Manhattan (a place that has its own unique set of "reals" and "nots"), but then I remember that it gets colder than 60 degrees there and sometimes you have to climb stairs.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Advice for Occupy Wall Street: make love + equality



I know that this is not cool to say.

I know that the Occupy Wall Street (et al) movement is a serious thing rooted in a real issue facing our country and so many others. I really do believe in the movement, the gravity of the issue at hand and the powerful manner in which the protesters have decided to go about their campaign.

Honestly if I knew how to get to wherever Occupy L.A. is happening I'd go down there with some packets of Emergen-C to show my support.

Which is why I feel bad writing a blog post about the fact that these Occupy Wall Street people (and their counter parts around the world) better be making some love connections.

Listen, times are tough. It's not so easy to find a group of like-minded and like-committed people without the use of an Internet aid. And even so, how much time do you have with those people once you meet? 15 minutes at a bar? An hour at an industry event? Maybe a weekend if you meet at the wedding of a friend that only invited people who all meet a very specific set of personality and life-goal qualifications?

This Occupy Wall Street situation is like mining for relationship gold in an actual gold quarry.

You've got people so like-minded that they've committed to living in parks and communicating through a "human megaphone." You've got a fairly consistent age range and, even where there isn't, people open-minded enough to not care. Most people there are either unemployed or not particularly into employment meaning you don't have to worry about who's going to pick up the check slash get annoyed with someone's dead-end career. Everyone has got to be equally smelly at this point. And, the most important point of all, no one is leaving!

It's like Summer camp but everyone's a liberal adult and none of the counselors care what you do. Hhmm...so it's like drama camp but everyone's an adult!

No...you know what it's really like - the Olympic Village. Did you know that during an Olympic games the athletes' village is like once giant orgy? Long distance runners hook up with soft ball players. Gymnasts hook up with divers. Long jumpers hook up with cyclists. And the swimmers all hook up with each other because they're the best looking, and they know it. (I went Summer in honor of the upcoming games).

And see just like Occupy Wall Street, it works because they're all intense, committed athletes. They all share the same passions for their individual sport. They all believe in winning for their country (read: themselves). And just like the denizens of Zuccotti Park - they're all jammed together in one, contained space!

I think it's only fair for the people of this protest to spend a little time attending to their own needs during their time of selflessness. After all, what could be more beautiful (or efficient) than finding love in this time of frustration and activism?

...And, frankly, how else are we going to fill the commemorative TIME magazine issue on the Occupy Wall Street events of 2011 than with a photo gallery of Occupy Wall Street weddings and babies?

p.s. please note and commend the fact that I got through this entire post without making the painfully obvious "occupy each other" joke. It took a lot.

Hey Occupiers: if you have a story of love found in the protesting fray, post it here in comments! Or Tweet it to me @20Nothings #OccupyLove

Monday, October 17, 2011

There are really only 6.5 ways to meet someone (to date)



There's been a lot of where-have-all-the-good-people-to-date-gone? talk around and about me as of late. Frankly I'm not sure where they are now, and I'm not sure I knew where they were before. What I do know is that people will drive themselves up a wall trying to figure out what they should be doing differently to find them. I know this because I was people.

Go out more? Go out less? Wear more skirts? Wear less skirts? Stop looking? Look harder? The sheer volume of X factors involved in the search are enough to make people stay in their miserable no-strings-attached situations. Until now...

I've got good news and bad news, and I'm giving you the bad news first because that's how it's done.

BN: there is no answer to the question of "what exact thing will work?" to meet someone great.

GN: there is an answer to how many things you can do and, therefore, when you can stop wondering if there are more things you should be going and give yourself a break.

Here, as far as I'm concerned, is that definitive list of things you can do to meet someone.

You can do online dating.

It may be slow. It may be weird. It may not result in A+ candidates. 75% of your responses may end up being from Indian men over the age of 35 (or was that just me?). But if you commit to online dating you will go on dates. I have done Match.com and Chemistry.com, both of which resulted in dates. I can recommend OKCupid.com and Eharmony.com based on friends' experiences. Bottom line: if you build it, and it is a profile on any one or combo of sites, they will come (you just might have to e-mail them first).

You can tell everyone you know that you're looking to be set up (yes, this includes your Mom).

This is the "job search" approach. If you were unemployed and desperately seeking employment you wouldn't keep that a secret from everyone in your immediate and secondary networks. Same goes here. Tell people. Tell them in direct and somewhat awkward e-mails. Tell them over drinks. Tell them on gchat. (I didn't have the patience to "Green Eggs and Ham" this section, but I thought about it). I know it's somewhat embarrassing. I know it opens up a lot of cans of worms (see Date It Forward for reference). But an insanely high percentage of relationship begin through a set up (case in point mine), and it's considerably harder to get set up if people don't know you're looking.

You can expand your social network by joining something.

Kickball. Volunteer organization. Cheese aficionados club. Occupy ______. Whatever it is make it something outside your current circle of people. This is by no means a surefire path, but expanding the number of people you know and associate with expands the number of people you might be able to date.

I met one former boyfriend when I started hanging out with my good friend Abby's co-workers. I met another when I joined a theater organization. Both of these boyfriends were imaginary because I have never, ever dated or liked anyone but you, R, but point is: if you find yourself saying, "I only ever see the same 20 people!!" it may be because you only ever see the same 20 people. Note: alumni groups are a really good idea.

You can get famous, somehow.

The better known you are, the more likely you are to find yourself in the incoming calls business when it comes to dating. So if you're really exploring every strategy possible then you do have to consider the benefits of making yourself a more "public figure." You can do that by literally making yourself a public figure (every town needs a council!) or by getting creative about gaining exposure (start a blog, start a youtube channel, start performing improv). You can also do this "lite" by starting to throw a regular happy hour among a large network of friends or organizing a big party. Bottom line, you want to be the person that people point to when someone says, "who organized this awesome thing."

And yes, this concept is derived totally and entirely out of the fact that I live in L.A., but I did promise you a list of everything you can do to meet someone.

You can go back to school.

Business school. Law school. Culinary school. Some adult education classes in screenwriting. This is like "you can join something" except you'll have to be accepted to and pay for it. See above rationale for why it works.

You can go out a LOT and introduce yourself to people you find attractive.

And unfortunately a once-a-month "girls night out" is not a lot. Randomly meeting people is more of a numbers game than any of the examples above, and just being at a bar/club/event is not enough. You have to be willing to actually go up and talk to people you meet. In my opinion this is harder than all the other options combined, but it is an option fair and square, so it is included. I have only ever met two (imaginary) people at bars, but in fairness I never truly made a point of going to bars with the goal of meeting people.

Honorable mention: you can get a dog.

I have never tested this theory, but I am told that if you have a dog of reasonable cuteness people are inclined to randomly talk to you. I would pay top Monopoly dollar for an expose on this, so please let me know if you're willing to play guinea pig.


I think that's it, but please let me have it in comments if I've made any glaring omissions. And, most importantly, please don't look at this post as a depressing list of the far-too-few things you can do to find live in your life. A. there's a pretty solid amount of action you can take. And B. now you finally know when to stop and say, "ok, I did everything I could. Now it'll happen when it happens."

Friday, October 14, 2011

Word to the Wise: Think twice about where you arrange for the parents to meet the parents...

No, not me (yet...), but please enjoy this story from my great friend John who recently went through this whole ordeal in a shall-we-say "magical" manor...




Jessie and I were emailing back and forth about my recent trip to Florida and I said: “You know where is NOT a very good place for your parents to meet your significant other’s parents for the first time? Walt Disney World. I should write about it on your blog.”


And that’s how it started. Seconds later I emailed back and said: “Actually can I try and write it up? I think it would be fun.” Jessie was hesitant at first. She isn’t going to turn the reigns over to just anyone. So I bought her this $5 a Day Bank I saw in Sky mall, and that’s how I end up on your computer today. (If you don’t get why she’d like this, can I point your browser here… AFTER you read this post of course!)


So for the last two years I’ve been dating Jessie’s roommate Mike… err… M. (I always like how Jessie refers to “R” in her entries. So my boyfriend will now go by M. It’s very Judi Dench in James Bond…) So when M and I decided to run the Epcot Wine and Dine Half Marathon together and both of our parents announced they’d be coming down to cheer us on we realized one of the watershed moments in our relationship would soon be upon us…


THE PARENTS ARE MEETING EACH OTHER!


This seemed like a big deal to me. Sure I had met his family and he had met mine, so the two families meeting each other felt like the last piece of the puzzle finally falling into place. M was more reserved: “So they’ll meet each other. It’s not a big deal.”


Now I don’t know how this Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah moment usually happens in relationships, but my guess is it doesn’t usually happen while literally listening to Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah and I wanted our moment to be perfect.


In some ways, Walt Disney World seemed a perfectly natural first meeting ground -- it is the happiest place on earth, after all. What nobody remembers when they look back at their vacation photos is just how huge Walt Disney World is and just how hot Florida can get.

Making matters worse, just before her trip down my mother ruptured a disc in her neck which meant she’d have to skip Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride and settle for the wild ride she’d get by taking a Disney bus after popping 2 Vicodin.


So before I tell you how our parents’ meeting went, let me just lay out my two main points in more detail:


Walt Disney World is HUGE – This becomes an issue in two ways. First, if have trouble walking for long periods of time (which, with a ruptured disc, trust me, you would) it will hold your group up. Even if everyone says: “Of course we don’t mind stopping to sit down every 15 feet!” Don’t believe them. They mind.


Size also means that there is a lot to do. So my parents might want to rest by the pool while M’s parents want to ride Space Mountain. Or vice versa. You can’t move as a big group and please everyone.


Florida can be HOT – This is an issue for everyone – not just people who are heavy sweaters. First impressions count for a lot and it’s hard to create the perfect one when you’re melting like the Wicked Witch of the West.


This is also an issue for me in particular because my stepfather sweats. A lot. I’d use the whole “he sweats like a whore in church” joke but I think a whore in church would be put off by the pool of sweat that follows him. Think of that swirl of dust around Pig-Pen in PEANUTS. If that was sweat (and Pig-Pen had less hair), he’d be my stepfather.


So as the moment of their initial meeting drew closer my anxiety rose. What stories from my youth would my mother – high on painkillers and exhausted from an early flight – drop? Didn’t she know the old saying: “Loose lips sink (relation)ships”? Or even worse, would M’s parents slip and fall in the pool of sweat trailing my stepfather?


This could be cataclysmic. But it wasn’t.


Like most things I worry about, it all ended up fine. We had lunch inside an air-conditioned restaurant (curbing the sweat problem) and my mom, it turns out, handles painkillers better than Liza Minnelli. (Her lunchtime rendition of “Cabaret” should have won her a Tony and Oscar, too!)


[Side Note: For those keeping score at home, that’s a Wizard of Oz , Dame Judi Dench and Liza Minnelli reference all in one post. How did it take my parents 18 years to figure out I was gay?]


I’ve come to realize that the only “pressure” on this meeting going well came from me.


And, looking back, that’s just silly. Both my parents and M’s parents know how much we love each other. (M just threw up reading that… he even hates written PDA!) Everyone wanted the meeting to go well and guess what? It did.


Yes, there were awkward silences. Yes, I had heard some of my stepfather’s jokes before. But we all left the weekend wishing we could have spent more time together – which I think qualifies it as an unabashed success.


Before we headed down to Florida I told M I was nervous about our parents meeting and he told me to not waste time worrying about it. He assured me that it’d be a great weekend. Now I don’t usually say this so I hope Mike.. errr, M… enjoys it now:


You were right.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Some thoughts on a new article about how people are more single than they've ever been



Every so often someone (but usually The Atlantic) features a massive article about the state of dating, relationships and marriage. A few years ago it was that now famous piece about settling (Marry Him! The Case for Settling for Mr. Good Enough). Today they've shifted the pendulum to the opposite side with a piece from Kate Bolick called All The Single Ladies.

This one is essentially about the fact that we've never been so single as Americans. More people are opting against marriage. More people are adopting children without a partner. And those who are choosing to be in a committed relationship are redefining what that looks like.

I never know what to think about these articles. I read them - all - and in OCD-style detail (there's a highlighter involved) combing the stats and stories for some kind of thesis statement I can get behind. Something like, "being single until your 30s leads to a significantly happier marriage." Or, "adopting a child alone will render you miserable; just settle for a 75% good-enough guy." Or even, all of this talk of independence is great now, but ask any 80-year-old woman and she'll tell you a life-long partner makes for the richest life."

I know these writers aren't looking to make grandiose statements. I know many of them don't have the answers themselves. This Single Ladies article is written by a woman who left a man she had thought she'd marry because something just didn't feel right. To this day they are the best of friends despite him marrying another woman. If anyone is qualified to question this whole issue, it's her.

So today instead of agreeing or disagreeing with Bolick's piece I thought it would be safer to highlight the most interesting parts (to me) and explain why I find them so interesting. This way it's like we're reading the article together while I discussing all my highlighted thoughts in detail! (no, it's not easy to date me).

Here we go:

"Bolick says, "Do I want children? My answer is: I don’t know. But somewhere along the way, I decided to not let my biology dictate my romantic life. If I find someone I really like being with, and if he and I decide we want a child together, and it’s too late for me to conceive naturally, I’ll consider whatever technological aid is currently available, or adopt (and if he’s not open to adoption, he’s not the kind of man I want to be with)."

At some point in our late 20s we all come to the realization that the biological clock is a known and the ability to meet the right person to have children with is an unknown. It's a terrifying realization (that is, if you want children and to marry a person you truly love) and one that deeply affects our frame of dating from, oh, 28 on. Someone should write a whole article about that.

"If, in all sectors of society, women are on the ascent, and if gender parity is actually within reach, this means that a marriage regime based on men’s overwhelming economic dominance may be passing into extinction."

If by "economic dominance" we mean "superior stability to women" then I couldn't agree more. I don't have one girlfriend who is twiddling her thumbs while she waits to marry for money. Now, if it came down to a struggling comedian who is a 10 versus a stable professor who is a 7, which would most women choose? I don't know. I think my friends would choose the comedian, but I do live in L.A.

"America as a whole currently enjoys a healthy population ratio of 50.8 percent females and 49.2 percent males. But our shrinking pool of traditionally “marriageable” men is dramatically changing our social landscape, and producing startling dynamics in the marriage market, in ways that aren’t immediately apparent."

But wait - if "traditionally marriageable" men (who are now disappearing) were economically dominant then doesn't that just open the door for women to be more dominant, and isn't that a good thing? We have the men, they're just a different breed leaving women more - for lack of a better word - in charge. Why is that bad? Because women actually want traditionally marriageable men despite it all?

"One might hope that in low-sex-ratio societies—where women outnumber men—women would have the social and sexual advantage. (After all, didn’t the mythical all-female nation of Amazons capture men and keep them as their sex slaves?) But that’s not what happens: instead, when confronted with a surplus of women, men become promiscuous and unwilling to commit to a monogamous relationship. (Which, I suppose, might explain the Amazons’ need to keep men in slave quarters.) In societies with too many women, the theory holds, fewer people marry, and those who do marry do so later in life. Because men take advantage of the variety of potential partners available to them, women’s traditional roles are not valued, and because these women can’t rely on their partners to stick around, more turn to extrafamilial ambitions like education and career."

Oh. That sucks.

"I kid! And yet, as a woman who spent her early 30s actively putting off marriage, I have had ample time to investigate, if you will, the prevailing attitudes of the high-status American urban male. (Granted, given my taste for brainy, creatively ambitious men—or “scrawny nerds,” as a high-school friend describes them—my sample is skewed.) My spotty anecdotal findings have revealed that, yes, in many cases, the more successful a man is (or thinks he is), the less interested he is in commitment."

Ugh, that definitely rings true in my book too. But wait, there is some hope -

"Indeed, another of my anecdotal-research discoveries is of what an ex calls “marriage o’clock”—when a man hits 35 and suddenly, desperately, wants a wife. I’ll never forget the post-first-date e-mail message reading: “I wanted to marry you last night, just listening to you.” Nor the 40-ish journalist who, on our second date, driving down a long country road, gripped the steering wheel and asked, “Are you The One? Are you The One?” (Can you imagine a woman getting away with this kind of behavior?)"

It does feel like there's a shelf-life on a male's desire to be a bachelor, and that its expiration date is somewhere around 32.

The article goes on and one for three more pages, but I'll leave it at this final observation and encourage you to read on your own and comment.

"When I embarked on my own sojourn as a single woman in New York City—talk about a timeworn cliché!—it wasn’t dating I was after. I was seeking something more vague and, in my mind, more noble, having to do with finding my own way, and independence. And I found all that. Early on, I sometimes ached, watching so many friends pair off—and without a doubt there has been loneliness. At times I’ve envied my married friends for being able to rely on a spouse to help make difficult decisions, or even just to carry the bills for a couple of months. And yet I’m perhaps inordinately proud that I’ve never depended on anyone to pay my way (today that strikes me as a quaint achievement, but there you have it). Once, when my father consoled me, with the best of intentions, for being so unlucky in love, I bristled. I’d gotten to know so many interesting men, and experienced so much. Wasn’t that a form of luck?

All of which is to say that the single woman is very rarely seen for who she is—whatever that might be—by others, or even by the single woman herself, so thoroughly do most of us internalize the stigmas that surround our status."

Monday, October 10, 2011

How To Move To Los Angeles: Regarding Road Rage

Now that I've lived in L.A. for 1+ years I feel wise enough to switch my "L.A. ____ Month's In" series to a regular "How To Move To Los Angeles" feature. The main difference will be a title, but if I've learned one thing in my 1+ years in this city it's that you can never underestimate the importance of a title (cough-BitchinApartment23-cough).

And so we begin. New series, new title, same over-dramatic stories about life in the land that aging forgot.



Notes on Road Rage

Hi. My name is Jessie and I have road rage.

It took me a little over six months to finally come to terms with the truth. For the longest time I thought everyone wanted to ram their car into the cars front, left, right and back of them in a fit of overwhelming frustration at how slow traffic could possible move at 6pm on a Thursday. Turns out some people in this city have learned to "accept" the traffic. I am not one of them.

I will confess that I feared my reaction to the traffic long before I followed in Fivel's footsteps. When people would ask what I was nervous about in L.A. I'd say becoming so consumed with my career that I live for nothing else; not knowing when it's time to pack up and admit I've failed, and the traffic. Given that line-up who could have predicted that I'd shed more tears on item number three than either of the others?

They told me I'd get used to it after a few months. They told me I'd developed special routes to avoid the worst of the grid lock. They told me it's sometimes nice to have long patches of alone time during both legs of your commute and en route to any lunches or mid-day errands.

They were wrong.

I pride myself on being a person who adapts well to change. In the 7th grade when my entire hair went from poker straight to Lisa Turtle curly, I didn't cry myself to sleep every night of the week. When I recently learned the best and therefore my favorite New Kid (John Knight, duh) is a gay man, I didn't question my entire childhood plus most of my teens and twenties. I welcome change. That's why you'll find me at the Forever21 at least once-a-month stocking up on the very latest trends for the very lowest prices (quantity over quality my friends!).

But it is where you'll find me minutes before I enter the F21 - namely the public parking garage on 4th Street between Broadway and Santa Monica - which proves there are some categories of change that I cannot overcome. For it is in that parking lot where the cars crawl like hardened honey out the bear-shaped tube that I broke the road-rage seal. See, in Los Angeles you have to take a ticket when you enter the parking garage and then pay that ticket at a ticket paying machine before you exit. Some garages let you pay for the parking at the exit gate, but some do not. And do you know what happens if you do not pay for your parking at the ticket paying machine when that is the only payment option? AALLLL the cars behind you in line have to WAIT for your INCONSIDERATE rear-end while you get the man inside the parking garage building to come bail you out. AND DO YOU KNOW HOW LONG THAT CAN TAKE?!

I yelled. I yelled and screamed and honked my horn and shook my finger in a fit of powerless rage at the white BMW convertible-driving vixen who held me up at the 3rd Street promenade parking lot for 18.5 minutes. And I have never been the same. It was like some Hulk inside of me was released that afternoon.

6+ months later I've tried everything to control myself from screaming ridiculously unproductive things out my closed car windows at people who can barely see me. "NICE BLINKER!" I cry. "MAKE THE TURN!!" I scream. "SO HELP ME GOD IF YOU DO NOT GUN IT WHEN THAT GREEN ARROW TURNS ON!!!" I warn. And then if those road fools do not comply I speed by them and stink-eye glance in their general direction so they know what they've done.

I'm getting help. R has me on a cocktail of NPR shows and calming podcasts. He encourages me to call him when it's really bad, but I'm too concerned he'll break up with me if he experiences me in Hulk-mode.

And so I think the most logical solution is a bit of L.A. driving wisdom a family friend gave me a few months ago. "I drive 8 miles of out my way to get to and from work just to avoid the traffic," he said, "takes me ten extra minutes, but I have yet to kill a fellow driver and I still have all my hair."

Thank god it's sunny every single day.



Thursday, October 6, 2011

I think the What's Your Number? haters are missing an important point



A lot of people have a real problem with the new Anna Faris movie WHAT'S YOUR NUMBER?.

Quick movie synopsis so this blog post makes sense:
  • Anna Faris plays a single woman named Ally Darling who is searching for love.
  • Ally Darling reads an article in a magazine which says that women who sleep with an excess of 20 men significantly decrease their changes of getting married.
  • Ally Darling has slept with exactly 19 men.
  • And so Ally gets back in touch with all 19 men she's slept with an in effort to make it work with one of them so that she'll never hit the dreaded 20-notches-on-the-bedpost mark.
  • I don't know what ends up happening because I didn't see the movie, but I'm going to bet she ends up with the adorable Colin (Chris Evans) who elects to help her on her mission, because I've seen a romantic comedy or hundred in my day.
Now back to the fact that people do not like this movie. They find it offensive, they find it archaic, they find it a waste of Faris' comedic talent.

At the root of this criticism is the movie's suggestion that a woman's sex number should matter at all. How could it possibly be that in 2011 we're still chiding women for entering the double digits and congratulating men who do the same?, the movie's critics ask. And, more importantly, who says that number - or any number - makes the character of Ally a slut? Valid questions given the sexual equality both genders seem to share today.

Some critics question whether or not the movie is a mirror of the real world or an exaggerated tale of less sexually liberated times. Do women really still care about their sex number? Is there really such a thing as a slut? Do women really believe any of that matters to men? And...does it?

I can only speak for my corner of the 21st century female world, but the women I've talked to about this subject both in response to the film and over the year I've been writing this blog say yes, it does matter. I've covered this in a few posts over the years, first in "Reclaiming the Word Slut" and then again in a piece on "Whether or Not to Share Your Sex Number with Your Significant Other". From those pieces and some additional research, here are the top reasons why their sex number matters to most women:
  • Sex is a deeply personal act to many women that they only want to engage in with select people. To this group the number isn't just a number but a memory of a person and an experience that they aren't comfortable collecting en mass.
  • Women are afraid that if their number is too high men will think they are sluts and not want to date them. We'll get into this more in a bit.
  • Women are afraid that if their number is too high other women will think they are sluts and judge them.
  • Women are concerned for their physical and sexual safety and would prefer to avoid potentially endangering either by simply not engaging in casual sex.
But I don't think that's the most interesting or most important question we should be asking in response to this whole What's Your Number? debate. To me the more interesting angle is the male perspective. Do men really care what your number is? And the most important question of all, why do they care, if in fact they do?

Call me a Comm. major, but maybe if we explore why men care we could open a dialogue about why they should or shouldn't and how we as women do/don't feel/behave response?

I have spoken to zero men about this, but here are a few starter ideas:

  • Men don't want to envision their girl with any other guys, let alone a high number of other guys. Therefore the lower the sex number the fewer men they have to imagine sleeping with their one-and-only. This issue is rooted in insecurity and competitiveness. Also, I feel the same way.
  • Men fear that a woman who's slept with a lot of men might value sex more than she values commitment. In other words, girls who "sleep around" are more likely to cheat on you. Again, insecurity but with a layer of a lack of understanding about how women feel about the sex they're having. Yes, some may have a "sex addiction" that could lead to infidelity. Others may simple be comfortable with casual sex as single women but fully committed to one partner once in a relationship.
  • Men think a girl who has slept with X number of guys (X being a number they deem high) is dirty - as in, she may have a sexually transmitted disease and/or she doesn't value her body/self/health/safety enough.
  • Men fear that if their girlfriend has slept with more people than they have that she'll view herself as more experienced or actually BE more experienced giving them a disadvantage in bed.
  • Like the above, but with a tweak: men fear that if their girlfriend has slept with more people than they have that she'll view them as less of a man. The "what's wrong with him?" perspective.
These are my guesses. Are any of them true, guys? And, of those that are true, what can they teach us about the sex numbers judgment game? Romantic comedy aside, it seems a lot of this whole situation revolves around insecurity. Is that something that can be solved with progress and communication? Or will guys always judge a girl whose number climbs into the double digits?

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Regarding this whole "interns sue Fox Searchlight" situation



Have you heard about this whole "interns sue Fox Searchlight" situation? It's a really interesting story.

The basics are that two men - one Alex Footman (a 2009 Weslyan Grad who interned as a production PA) and one Eric Glatt (a 42-year-old with an MBA who interned in the film's accounting department) - are now suing Fox Searchlight with hopes of securing a class action law suit for their violation of labor laws with the use of unpaid workers on the film BLACK SWAN.

From The New York Times article on this whole ordeal: "The lawsuit, filed in federal court in Manhattan, claims that Fox Searchlight Pictures, the producer of “Black Swan,” had the interns do menial work that should have been done by paid employees and did not provide them with the type of educational experience that labor rules require in order to exempt employers from paying interns."

And to quote the law suit itself: “Fox Searchlight’s unpaid interns are a crucial labor force on its productions, functioning as production assistants and bookkeepers and performing secretarial and janitorial work. In misclassifying many of its workers as unpaid interns, Fox Searchlight has denied them the benefits that the law affords to employees.”

Interesting, right? And what's more interesting is that there's apparently been a backlash from college students and current interns who are frustrated that someone is raising this whole issue so publicly. Their opinion: leave it alone or we're all going to suffer because companies will stop offering internships, and then we'll never get our feet in the Hollywood door.

I listened to a radio interview with Eric Glatt (one of the plaintiffs) this morning on my drive to work. He made his case in three key points:
  • It is technically against the labor laws of the state of California to offer an unpaid internship that does not meet the standards outlined in the specific laws governing that kind of work relationship. I will admit that I did not know that and do not know those laws now, but here is a link where you and I can learn more.
  • Films, production companies and other Hollywood entities (and for that matter many industry outside LaLa Land) will not stop offering internships if they have to pay interns. As Glatt said in his interview, "they need someone to do the work." His point is that these interns are performing tasks that are critical to the final product of the given production or company. Their positions cannot be eliminated; they are literally making it possible for - in this case - the film to be completed, therefore they are directly contributing to the 300 million dollar profit made by BLACK SWAN. Given this struggling economy and the current unemployment rates, Glatt said, that is criminal.
  • Unpaid internships - specifically those in the entertainment industry - block hundreds of thousands of people young and old from access to the industry because they cannot afford to work for free. This point hits home for me because I was in that exact situation after graduating from college. I had student loan debt, I had zero dollars in my bank account, and I didn't have the luxury of living off my parents' dime. I had a strong desire to work in many areas of the media and entertainment world, but I simply could not afford to work for free. And so I took a job that did pay me and worked my way into this world through different channels. It took me a much, much longer time than it does many college grads who are supported by their parents until they land a paying job. So in Glatt's opinion, if more companies offered paid internships a more diverse group of people would have a chance to work in this industry.
So what do you think?

Should interns suck it up and do the free work because everyone has to pay their dues? Should labor laws be more specific about what counts as intern work and what doesn't? And will this make entry-level Hollywood jobs fewer and further between as studios and production companies cheap out on workers? This specific law suit is seeking class-action status for what the plaintiffs claim are over 100 unpaid interns on various Fox Searchlight productions. Would Fox really turn those 100 free workers into paid jobs or will they just make 50 people (or less...) do 100% of the work? And if so will it become even harder than it is now to get your foot in the TV and film industry door?