Wednesday, November 30, 2011
So I'm sitting in some bizarre, late-night traffic the other day, flipping the old radio dial, and I stumble upon a blast from our collective pasts - LOVELINES! Apparently it's still around and hosted by some guy named Mike, some girl named Simone, and its now-famous originator, Dr. Drew.
I dropped in on the program at the beginning of a call from a 17-year-old, Midwestern girl named Katie. Katie was calling to ask the hosts if the amount of sex she's having makes her a slut. Her story is that she's been sleeping around and experimenting since breaking up with her boyfriend, but is, "worried people are going to think [she's] a slut now." In response to the question of how many different partners she has per month (I think Dr. Drew asked), she said, about four. Katie asked the panel (and this part I remember clear as day), "Like, how long should I wait in between having sex so I'm not a slut?"
I'm listening and thinking, whoa that's a loaded question, and four people per month is a lot for a 17-year-0ld slash anyone, but let's see what the experts have to say. Surely they'll address the bigger issue of how she feels about this sex and why she's doing it versus the number of partners and time span between sexual encounters. They'll probably also get into why she doesn't want to be a slut and what being a slut means in her mind. After all, these people are professionals, right?
Mike and Dr. Drew punted to Simone (the girl) to respond, resulting in a confusing and unclear answer that I think boiled down to, "you should wait at least a week between sex partners." (in fairness, Simone said that's what she would do). Simone did acknowledge that Katie is young and should spend time thinking about how long she waits in between unique partners. She also admitted that a "slut" is hard to define (here's my own attempt from way back when). But she in no way addressed the bigger issues at hand (in my opinion): what does Katie think it means to be a slut? why is she concerned about being a slut? what is motivating her to have the sex she is having in the first place? how does she feel about herself after the sex? What about before the sex? What if the answer is, "yes, you're a slut," - then how would Katie feel?
I get that this is a radio show and not a psychology class, but if 2011 is anything like 1999 then impressionable young teens were listening in to that call on the Walkmen (iPhones?) they have stuffed under their pillows. And unfortunately those kids got a hackey answer to a pretty significant question.
And so, even though I doubt this will reach Katie, doubt many teens read this blog, and am perhaps less qualified to answer than Simone, here is how I would have responded:
Katie, the whole word slut - what it means, who is one, who gets to decide - is really tricky. Some people think you're a slut if you sleep with anyone before you're married. Other people think there's no such thing as a slut and that you should be able to sleep with whomever you want, whenever you want to. Then there are people who think being a slut is about being careless about sex and your body. There is no right or wrong answer.
I personally think that the word "slut" should have much more to do with how you feel about the sex you're having. Does it make you feel empty? Does it make you feel weird? Do you personally feel like it's too much, or are you totally comfortable with it? It sounds like you're worried about what other people think of the amount of sex you're having. Why is that? And are you worried about it yourself?
Now, aside from the whole "what-defines-a-slut" thing, I have to be honest with you and say that multiple sex partners per month at your age makes me worry. The decision to have sex is a very important one because it affects your body and your mind, and when we're young - like you are - we know less about our bodies and minds. If I were you I would think carefully about who I want to have sex with, and more importantly, why I want to have sex with that person. People have all sorts of definitions and labels for all sorts of thing - especially when it comes to sex - but the only thing that's important at the end of the day is how you feel about yourself and how you take care of yourself.
I hope that's a helpful answer. If I were you I would also talk it over with a good friend so you have more time to think through your feelings.
Monday, November 28, 2011
I survived, and not just barely. Despite the apprehensions, nerves, and my mother's insistence that I was wearing something out of season, the event was a success. 100 of the 300+ FTHS 2001 grads attended, and 75% of the people I was most excited to see were part of that group.
Of course no highly-anticipated, first-time, 20-something experience is without its list of learnings. Here, in no particular order, are mine.
1. Ten-year high school reunions feature three kinds of conversations:
- 2-minute, faux catch-ups with people you weren't really friends with (How are you? How's your family? Great! So good to see you!)
- 10-minute, legit catch-ups with people you, sadly, didn't keep in touch with (Actual questions about what the person is/has been/intends to do)
- 35-minute conversations with people you've remained friends with and/or know everything about through Facebook (Mostly gossip about everyone else in attendance)
2. People either look exactly the same or DRASTICALLY different.
99% of the people look only 10% different, 10 years later. The girls look slightly older, more mature, and seem to have stopped doing that make-curly-hair-straight-with-lots-of-gel thing. The guys are more chiseled in the face, have filled out a tiny bit in the middle, and seem to have stopped going tanning three time a week (note: I'm from Central Jersey). And then there are the few people who have either lost of gained massive amounts of weight. These stats are taken from a sample of 100 people, but I'd bet they're pretty typical of all classes.
3. VERY few people who were together in high school are still together.
Again, this could be attributed to the sample size or the dynamics of my graduating class.
4. Fewer people were married than I thought would be, until I thought harder about it.
I think the national average is something like 30 for men and 28 for women now? I guess I falsely assumed that my suburban NJ town would marry earlier than the national average, but as it turns out most people were in serious relationships or engaged but not yet married. So, kudos Freehold, NJ!
5. It's sort of hard to remember how close you were with some people.
You remember your best friends, and you remember the people who hated you, but that group in the middle - surface friends and friendquaintances - can be tricky to reconnect with after a decade. There will be some surprise "omg-it's-soooo-good-to-see-you!!!" and some equally surprising cold shoulders. Best to just roll with this and take every hug hello as it comes.
6. On average, people are just starting to have their lives together.
This goes with the whole most-people-aren't-married-yet thing. Ten years ago I bet most people would have been working in the same field for at least five years, buying their first house and not envisioning any massive changes in the near future. Today it felt like people had just settled into the rhythm they intend to keep for the next decade. There were first or second year lawyers, people just out of grad school, and people who had transitioned from one career to their current career. Or maybe that's just the way I decided to see the crowd on account of my continued and incomplete career change...
7. Some people may or may not inform you that they really wanted to make out with you all through high school.
This will likely be booze-induced and definitely be awkward. Just hope some awesome people are standing next to you when it happens so you can all remember the magic together.
Tuesday, November 22, 2011
Friday, November 18, 2011
You won't be shocked to hear that this recent Forbes article on young women burning out at work before the age of 30 caught my eye. I am a woman. I am burning out at work, and I am before the age of 30.
The piece is a good read on a very interesting topic, but I think it missed one big area of "why" that's worth discussing whenever discussing women under the age of 30.
Here are the very valid reasons the article does attribute to this burn-out trend:
- Women have been working their tails off since high school to compete for the best colleges and best jobs
- Many Millennial women have Type-A personalities (which is tied to the first reason).
- Women are more inclined to view life as a "sprint" versus a "marathon." (note: the article doesn't delve into why, but I assume this is some a-woman's-brain-just-works-that-way situation, or perhaps the reason this article left out, which I discuss below)
- Women have unrealistic expectations about the early years of employment, namely that they won't be so brutal.
Some of these reasons focuses on the fact that women are frustrated that they have to do so much. They're not burning out because they're overworked and putting excessive pressure on themselves, they're burned out because they didn't expect the work to be so hard. That's fine and valid, but it's not the area of this issue that interests me. I want to talk about why women put such excessive pressure on themselves to succeed from 2-0 to 3-0 in the first place. It's here that I think the article misses a giant point. Don't kill me for saying this, but what about:
- Women are rushing to achieve success before they transition into being mothers
If someone had interviewed me for this article that's exactly the rationale I would have given.
I am extremely driven to succeed and have been since I first joined the work force for two reasons 1. because my career is wildly important to me, and I want to succeed for my own, personal fulfillment and 2. because at a certain point I intend to transition out of being so career-focused and into being more family-focused. I've know this for many years, and I think about it constantly as I plan my next career moves.
Maybe that makes me oddly traditional for a Millennial woman? Maybe it makes me too cynical about the fact that today's women can "have it all"? I don't know what it makes me, I just know that it's how I feel and therefore very much a part of how I engage with the work place.
As I type this, I wonder if my confession will get a lot of backlash from people who find my position archaic and anti-feminist. Is the idea that I'm compelled to ascend to a certain level of success before I start a family too narrow? too vintage? too much? I honestly don't know, nor do I know if it's the right way to approach my career and my life. I just know it's a source of motivation and a very real truth.
So all I'm saying is that if you're going to write an article about how women under thirty view their role in the work place, especially one that discusses why they're overwhelmed, you can't ignore the idea that around the age of 30 women think very seriously about adding a second career to their lives. If I'm thinking about it, others are too.
Wednesday, November 16, 2011
There is nothing quite as terrifying as the moment you receive notes on the first draft of the first feature film you've ever written, especially if those notes are coming from the person who has elected to date you.
"Notes" is the catch-all term for suggested changes to your draft, AKA a line-by-line review of all the things you did poorly/wrong. This makes the notes process akin to you unhinging your brain and saying, "here is the summation of all that I believe is funny, smart and well-written, please judge it out loud and in front of me!" Then, add to that the fact that this script is not for hobby or sport, but rather a piece of material intended to launch your entire career. Yes, some of that is an overly dramatic, over-exaggeration. No, that doesn't remotely change the way you feel.
And so, based on all-too-recent-events, I give you my personal HOW TO guide for coming out of your very first notes session both alive and still in a relationship.
- Wear something really nice. I find people are less-inclined to be cruel if they think you look particularly good, especially if those people date you. So, for example, PJ stretch pants and a man's flannel shirt would be the wrong thing to wear, especially if you're pairing that ensemble with day-old hair and your coke-bottle glasses.
- Consider time of day when scheduling your notes session. Early morning can be tricky because your entire day will likely be ruined based on the notes. Similarly, 10:30pm on a Tuesday when you're fighting a nasty sore throat can be tricky because it's 10:30pm on a Tuesday and you're fighting a nasty sore throat.
- Sit across from, not next to the note-er. Close proximity is your enemy in this process. You want to establish a professional distance between yourself and the other party, so that when he knife-jabs a note directly into your creative core, he'll have to get up from the table and walk his butt around it to deliver the appropriate, apologetic hug.
- Think twice about making a stink about any note that comes prior to page 65. Trudging through 70 more pages of notes while employing the silent treatment is not pleasant or convenient.
- Don't say the following: "Writer to development executive, that was a shitty note." But if you're going to, definitely don't add, "Listen," to the front of it and deliver it dripping with nasty tone.
- Remember to say thank you for specific notes throughout the process. This will endear your reader to you and make it seem as though you are both happy and stable.
- Try not to flip to the last page or check the time on your non-existent watch through the session. I don't think this advice requires an explanation.
- When the notes session is complete, thank the noter-er in your most convincingly sincere voice. This person just spent the past 1.5 hours coddling your sensitive writer psyche through 115 pages of notes on a script he sped-read so you could turn it in on time. Prove that you know and appreciate that as much as you should.
Monday, November 14, 2011
A few thoughts on the way of man of 29 years should behave...
A man of 29 years should call his parents and siblings on the phone every so often.
He should be willing, able, and excited to host a group of friends at his place for a party.
He should know how to call a woman he wants to date and make it clear to her that he wants to date her.
He should have passions that are not sports related. Maybe music? Maybe cooking? Maybe old cars or travel? Something to prove he’s interested in the world beyond his world.
He should know where he stands politically.
He doesn’t need to know exactly where he wants to be at 40 or 55, but he should have a plan for the next few years, and a plan to make that plan a reality.
He should know when he needs to wear a blazer and when he can get away without one - same goes for dress shoes v. sneakers.
He should have good friends that he’s had for at least a dozen years and friends he met six months ago.
He should not be afraid of confrontation, but he should know how to appropriately confront.
He should be able to tell when people or situations are bullshit, but be able to deal with those people or situations in a non-bullshit manner.
He should know how to handle a crying woman.
He should know how to have a conversation with a 4-year-old little boy and a 94-year-old woman.
And, most importantly, when you ask anyone who’s known him over his 29 years, they should all paint a picture of the same exact man.
Happy, happy birthday to my favorite 29 year old man, who checks off all these boxes and so many more.
Thursday, November 10, 2011
When I lived in New York I used to get a big confidence kick out of rattling off weekend changes to the subway schedule or navigating the most spaghetti-on-the-wall streets of the far West Village. Same went for spotting a top Conde editor or knowing exactly which restaurant we could walk into at 8pm on a Friday night and sit down without a wait.
Today my city-based pride points come in different shapes and sizes, but are no less important to my daily ability to jump out of bed with a wink and a smile. It's a rubber-wheeled jungle out there/here, and we east coast transplants need all the confidence we can get.
To that end, here are the 7 things that make me puff out my chest and say, "heck yeah, I know how to live in L.A." (my Mom doesn't like when I say hell on the blog).
#7 - Narrowly avoiding a car accident
I don't mean a screech-n'-swerve, I mean expert defensive driving that allows you to see the accident that could happen three wrong moves into the future. See, the streets of Los Angeles are like a combination chess and shoots n' ladders board. Every move prompts several other moves that may result in you slipping down a metaphoric slide and into a not metaphoric car.
#6 - Staying out past 3am
It is a major point of pride in this city to both close the bar and continue partying at an after-bar location. Most people barely make it past midnight, and the idea of driving/cabbing to more than one location is widely considered blasphemy.
#5 - Out-routing someone on their own route home
It goes something like this: "Oh, you live in West Hollywood? I live in West Hollywood! What's your route home?..." (several beats, smug eyes, warm fuzzy feeling of pride) "Yeah, you could definitely go that way, oooor you could save yourself 20 minutes and those phone calls you only make to kill time if you went this super genius route I'm about to gift you."
#4 - Recognizing non-celebrity celebrities
They're the writers, directors, editors, and special effects people that actually make the TV show/movie a TV show/movie. Spotting, say, the creator of Nurse Jackie makes me feel awesome because A. I love that show B. I know enough about this biz to know who she is and mostly C. I get my coffee at King's Road too, so if that's all it takes to create a hit TV show, I'm golden. (note: this has never happened, yet)
#3 - Being able to explain the details of a given world issue if/when someone asks
It's not that people here are dumb, it's just that they don't have the bandwidth to follow both "our" industry and the political industry. It is impossible to out-scoop someone who "works in the business" on any entertainment news, but it's fairly simple to know more about the latest in the Greek debt crisis. The chances of someone asking you are about as slim as me running into the creator of Nurse Jackie at Kings Road, but it could happen, and knowing that feels great.
#2 - The knowledge that anything good currently going on with your hair is owed to the total lack of humidity in the air
Sometimes it's the little things, because there are no other things... When the traffic is miserable, and you've just endured a half hour conversation about how funny a given actress is with that given actress, and you find out that some big shot writer just sold the very idea you've been writing for the past two months, a quick reminder that your hair would look like %$&*! in most other cities is all it takes to help you put down that wine bottle and keep on keeping on.
#1 - Hearing that someone else has heard of you
R to Me: "Hey I was having lunch with a manager at ___________, and I brought up your blog, and she said she's already heard of you."
I'm not going to say any more about this because it's bound to make me sound very not good. Let's just say that just because I used to live in New York doesn't mean I'm immune to to things that are painfully L.A.
What am I missing, fellow Angelinos? Gimme some more confidence boosters via comments!
Tuesday, November 8, 2011
As of 7:30pm last night I did not have a blog post for today. The weekend was busy (culminating in the second, successful SUNDAY NIGHT SEX TALKS!), and I spent yesterday morning attempting to finish the feature I've been working on since - oh - July.
Then the blog gods shone down on me and plopped the Latin American Patti Stanger down next to me at Urth Cafe on Beverly Drive.
I'm not kidding. This woman looked like Patti (but with smaller nose), dressed like Patti (but in a bold, floral pattern vs. Patti's typical jewel tone solids), and talked like Patti (but in Sophia Vergara's voice).
I didn't catch Spanish Patti's name, so we'll just call her Patricia (Pa-treat-see-ah), but she was there to meet a new client named Paola. Paola is a beautiful, 30-year-old Bolivian ER nurse who thinks she can't find love because she's too controlling. Patricia: "I'm not going to lie to choo. It sounds like this is the case."
They sat together for 30-45 minutes as Patricia interviewed Paola about every relevant detail of her dating, relationship, family, sex, career, clothing, health, and social life. It. Was. Pure. Gold. I sat there half writing my script and half transcribing bits and pieces of their conversation for this post (so, yes, if you see me in a coffee shop where you intend to have an intimate conversation, leave). Below is a compilation of direct quotes and things I learned from my unofficial match-making session with, "the most reputable Latin American love-connector in all of Southern California."
Things she said:
- "Now tell me, is your bust size real or enhanced?" (The answer was enhanced)
"This is good. 'Real' does not matter, 'appears to be real' is what matters."
- "How many times a week do you drink the alcohol?" (The answer was four) "It's not enough. You need to be having a glass of wine every day with or after your final meal. Wine keeps us smooth and sexy."
- "I like camping, but only for one night." (This was Paola's response to Patricia asking her what outdoor activities she enjoys). Patricia: "Ay god no! Do not tell a man you like the camping. Nothing sexy is ever happening in a tent."
- "You like to cook?" (The answer was no). "Well we’ll say you do because you need to learn."
- "Now, how is your wardrobe? Tell me how much you spend on a dress to go out?" (The answer was $200) "I don't love it, but I'll work with it."
- How much do you weigh?
- How much does your mother weigh right now, and how old is she?
- Are you willing to date bald men?
- Name the styles of Latin dance you have mastered.
- Are you fluent in Spanish? (the answer was no) Well are you fluent in dirty talking in Spanish?
- How much money do you have saved for retirement?
- How many children is too many children for a man to already have?
- Talk me through the major points of your last serious relationship?
And then she explained to Paola how the first date organized through her service works: (paraphrased)
Okay, so I'm gonna find you a compatible man but not the most compatible man I have in my group. Then we're gonna get you set up on a date. I'd like to see you in more color. I'd like to see you in higher heels. I'd like to see your hair a shade or two lighter, and we'll talk about make-up, I may send one of my girls to your house. Now, when you go on the date, I'm going to be there with you. I'm going to sit a few tables away - don't worry, no one sees me - and I'm going to have a little ear bud connected to a little microphone in your breasts.
At this point Paola, who's no fool despite her control issues, goes, "So you're wire tapping me?" Girl totally watched The Wire.
Patricia laid it all out there. Yes, if that's what choo want to call it. I need to hear exactly how you are on a first date with a man so I can guide you on the next series of dates we arrange. Make sense?
And then Paola said the thing that people say to Patti once they're fully under her spell. "Yes, makes sense. I'll do anything you tell me to do."
Guys, this happened, before my very eyes, on a Monday night. And I'm telling you, if I was a Latin American woman struggling to find love in this urban, West coast jungle, I'd call Patricia up right away. That woman was like the finest Yenta I've ever heard with the least annoying Yenta voice. I think Paola's going to be just fine.
Thursday, November 3, 2011
I'm going to keep this short and sweet because I'm mortified that I'm even writing it in the first place.
I now understand why people use pet names.
For the past 28 years (I'm counting them all because I believe that even as an infant I abhorred their use) I have been adamantly against pet names. I never used one, never had one, never met one whose use I supported.
My position was that pet name are goofy, silly, childish monikers that trivialize one's real name. My belief was that they were one part of a couples' act to make all other people jealous of their obvious love - a verbal PDA, if you will. Nothing about me is a pookie, a lovey, an angel or a pup (yes, I know someone who used that one). My plan was that if a man ever attempted to use one on me, I'd calmly explain that it was unwelcome and unacceptable.
My "P" dealbreaker was and shall forever be "P, Pale" but "P, Pet Namer" was a close, close second.
Today I am the girlfriend of a more-milk-than-olive-toned man who has bestowed upon me a pet name I will not now nor shall I ever print. Know that it is a 5 on silly/childish scale, and that I have given up trying to make him stop.
Part of my surrender is because I - yes I, the girl who swore she'd never be that girl - also have a pet name for him.
I can't really defend this situation with any legitimate rationale. I don't need to call him anything special, his name isn't particularly long, and I'm not of the mushy variety. It's just that when I go to refer to him I don't want to use the same name everybody else uses. I want to say something sweeter and more special. I want to lay some verbal claim!
I never do so in public. I never do so over the phone if other people are in ear shot. And I have yet to adapt the very simple moniker I use into five varieties that all end in "ey."
But I use it, often, and I like it. It makes me feel like I'm in a tween rom com or something, which is funny because that's exactly what I hated about the whole proposition for the past 28 years.
Let the regression continue!
Wednesday, November 2, 2011
I feel like we need to have a little sit down.
I've noticed by your Facebook posts/Tumblr updates/Tweets that you are pretty peeved at Kim Kardashian for divorce-bombing Chris Humphries a mere 72 days after their fairy tale wedding. You're saying things like, "how dare she!" and, "her career is done," and, "reality TV has gone too far." I even saw a few of those clever memes people are making with really mean things about Kim, things like, "and they think the gays are destroying the sanctity of marriage?"
But, see, here's the thing - Really? REALLY?! You're actually upset? You actually, legitimately feel fooled, duped, and wronged by this latest celeb divorce development?
When Kim and Chris got married on national television in a 20 million dollar affair after less than a year of dating, you really thought it was lasting love? You watched that all go down and thought, "there is no way in a million years that will end quickly and for absolutely no reason."
Or was it that you thought Kim and her E!-sponsored clan would have the decency to A. wait a little longer or B. inform the husband first? Is that why you're so mad?
I think you're forgetting that the only reason this entire family is famous is because of Kim's sex tape? Don't you "Robert Kardashian was a very famous lawyer" me. Kim's sex tape started it all, so I'm not sure we can be shocked and appalled that her D-cup doesn't runneth over with decency.
Yes I know she cost E! $280,000 per day of marriage, and yes, I too think that's an absolutely disgusting waste of money. But you know what else is disgusting? E! spending 20 million on the televised wedding of two fabricated celebrities. Actually, I take that back. Chris Humphries has a legit reason to be famous.
And while we're at it - the show was called Kim's Fairytale Wedding and the rag mag covers read Kim Gets Engaged, Kim's Big Wedding Plans, and Kim Ties the Knot. So for those of you out there shedding a tear for the sweet, innocent professional basketball player who got mixed up in this mess, here's one big REALLY?! for you too.
But back to why I, for one, am glad that E! "wasted" all that money on a 72-day marriage. Maybe they've learned their lesson. Maybe next time they won't spend the cost of launching a charter school (or 5) on something my 89-year-old Poppop could have told you didn't stand a chance. And he doesn't even get E!.
Of course, chances are they have not learned any form of lesson at all because they have not really been harmed. Chances are E! will only benefit from this divorce ordeal because angry, angry people who cannot believe Kim would do such a thing will now tune in to one of her four shows to find out why she did it.
You know...if I were a more cynical person I'd say they planned the entire charade - found the guy, arranged the marriage, orchestrated the wedding, and suggested the hasty divorce.
Outside of the whole E! angle, I'm sensing a lot of what you're feeling is anger at Kim for shoving her rotund buttocks in the face of the sanctity of marriage. What does she think, that this is all some kind of joke? That it's all just make believe?
First of all, yes, that is what she thinks. Second of all, the sanctity of marriage does not apply to TV weddings that cost 20 million dollars. And finally, I'm guessing the "tough talk" Kim had with herself over whether or not to stay married because it was better for Chris/E!/her family/ her fans/man-kind was a short one.
But in the end, my favorite line of all the "can you believe she..." lines I've heard is this: "Can you believe that $%&*! made something like 8 million dollars off her wedding and then bolted!"
Yes. Yes of course I can. Kim Kardashian is the poster girl for Sketchers Shape-ups. You guys, those are HANDS DOWN the UGLIEST piece of footwear invited since the beginning of the invention of footwear. If she can shill those, then she can stay married to a professional basketball player for long enough to collect some significant dough.
So let's all take a deep breath and remember that this doesn't matter, and it is certainly not worth getting worked up over. Kim will live on to make reality TV shows because people will live on to be shocked about Kim Kardashian getting divorced after 72 days of marriage. That is, until someone new releases a sex video that catapults their entire extended family to fame, which someone really should get on, toot sweet.
Tuesday, November 1, 2011
Sunday, November 6th at 8pm, five hysterical and talented performers will take the Bar Lubitsch stage for the second installment in my girls-only, R-rated storytelling series. Sorry, but it really is NO BOYS ALLOWED.
The topic: If I could time travel back to one dating/relationship/sex moment I'd go to ______________ to change __________________ .
The format: Free-form storytelling based on the prompt. The show will run 1 hr.
The talent: Five ladies whose combined first initials spells MAJEK (which is what they will make on stage, obvs) and me!
Tickets: (Oooone more time... ) $6 at Brown Paper Tickets
The first show was a huge success, so don't miss out! E-mail me at 20Nothings@gmail.com with questions, comment, talent suggestions and positive RSVPs! Hoping to see many of you on 11/6 (sorry boys...).