Thursday, December 29, 2011

The Dallas Woman's Guide to Gold-Digging With Pride

"I'm fed up with the ramen-eating artist who can't work a real job because he must think about creating.  I'm sick of the relationship-phobic professional who is great for the first month, then turns aloof and weird.  He get angry at you because you assume he's your steady Friday-night date and rebels against cuddling.  I'm disgusted with the emotional vampire, the guy who leeches on to your own reserves and demands that you validate his whole existence.  Yes, you are a great writer/lawyer/politician, and great in bed and very, very funny.  This kind of man is never generous in return, neither emotionally nor materially.  I should add that in all these involvements there is some incident of cheating [....] I'm exhausted from the relationships I've endured, so I've decided to try it Aimee's way."

I'm beginning to see why this is my cousin's favorite book. 

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The Ghost of Christmas Present

The year is winding down. Days are ticking off the calendar like the small remainder of leaves ripped from the trees in this morning's wind gusts. It's strange realizing that Christmas is less than a week away. I used to have trouble believing how people could actually be depressed during the holiday season, but now it's not so far-fetched. And while this year the loss of my Nonna is easier to bear than it was last year, it is still hard this time of year knowing that I won't ever again be able to make fraitz with her bustling around the kitchen or listen to her high soprano singing old Italian Christmas songs.

Move over, Martha Stewart!
It is becoming increasingly easier to hold her memory in my  heart without sinking into the sadness of loss. Nevertheless, I still long for her - her very essence - especially on this most festive of months.

Considering my life last year and how far the past 300+ days have brought me, I can't really complain too much. I am so cozy in my Little Mansion with my Teacup Panther and my Giant Nova Scotian Balsam Fir all decked out in gold and red.
I have loved decorating for Christmas this year. And, despite not being able to go to Buffalo this year, there's no other place I'd rather be than snuggled in with my family on good ol' Cape Cod, cooking and eating and drinking and watching Christmas movies together.

So no, I'm not depressed this year, but I understand the joy and peace so much more than ever before. Much to love, much to cherish, much to celebrate.

God bless us, everyone

Friday, December 16, 2011

Ernest Hemingway

"From things that have happened and from all things that you know and all those you cannot know, you make something through your invention that is not a representation but a whole new thing truer than anything true and alive, and you make it alive, and if you make it well enough, you give it immortality. That is why you write and for no other reason."

Thursday, December 15, 2011

I Will Not Go Quietly Into The Night

At that moment I stood in the bathroom washing my face and hands. Not a single tear in my eyes. But there was no light in them either. I remember having the most mundane thought that we really needed to put a space heater in the bathroom because it was always so damn cold. I could feel it working its way through my feet, up my legs, around my heart. Somehow, as much as I hate feeling chilled, I embraced it at that moment.

At that moment he stood there. He stood there next to me, watching my shaky hands wipe away the mess and the shame, mocking me for being upset. "You can't possibly think that I'm going to believe that you didn't want it." "Baby, you know I love you." "You've always liked it when I did that before." "I know you could've fought harder to get away if you really didn't want it."

At that moment I felt nothing. And then there was another moment when I thought I would actually try to fight back. There was a moment when I thought I should try to win this battle of him always being right, of me always being too dramatic, of us always being "bigger than this." But, at that moment, I dried my hands and lost the war.

I wish I could say that I reported this crime to the police. I wish I could say that I left him after that night. I wish I could say that this was the only time I have had my dignity stripped away with my clothing. Unfortunately, I am not the only one that has been sexually assaulted by someone near and dear to me. Not all rapes are performed by a man in shadow in a dark alley. Actually, 38 percent of rapists are friends or acquaintances of the victim and 2/3 of assaults are committed by someone the victim knows. In fact, in the 30 minutes it's taken me to find the words and the courage to write this far, 15 women in the United States have been sexually assaulted. Chances are, if you are a man or a woman reading this who is blessed to be untouched, then you know someone who has been touched at some point in a way in which they did not want. Whether you know it or not. Sometimes not even the victims fully know it because they pass it off as no big deal. I still remember how shocked I was when I realized that throughout the 11 months of our relationship (11 months at the end of our seven year on-again, off-again relationship), I had been repeatedly raped by my boyfriend. But, I was 22 and had just lost my virginity, how was I to know that when I told him to stop because it hurt and he didn't - over and over and over again - that it was wrong? We were in love! And besides, he and I both knew that I'm dramatic and make too big of a deal out of things and I should stop putting our relationship through the ringer by "picking fights." Our relationship was worth more than my physical pain. After all, maybe there was just something wrong with me.

Yes, there was something wrong with me. The image I had of myself as not being worth only the utmost respect and love was what was wrong with me. And yet, even as I'm typing this I realize that I still have to remind myself that, Oh yes, I am a Lady of Worth. Because this is the truly heartrending statistic: too many women have been gaslighted their whole lives into thinking that the problem lies within them. That, to paraphrase my dear friend, if you don't want to get raped then it's up to you to not make bad decisions. And her blog post is really at the heart of why I am writing this. Because I want to be in the Get Shit Done room not the Get Over It room.

And perhaps the reason why supposed strong, confident women stay in the wrong Room is because we've been told our whole lives that the problem inherently lies within us. If I wasn't such a flirt, if I didn't wear that outfit, if I wasn't such a good dancer, if I didn't take that particular way home, if I had only worn a robe over my nightgown around my grandfather like my grandmother had warned me. We've been told by society, by boyfriends, and sometimes by parents that if you act a certain way you get certain results. It's the same justification that passes over "lady of the night" murders; the "well, she was a prostitute, what do you expect" mentality that simply continues to perpetrate the lie that it is somehow our fault.

However, I do want to say this and say it very clearly: there is something to be said for modesty and the fact that there are certain lifestyles that leave women more susceptible to abuse. Does that make it our fault? No. Do we need to be even more cautious? Yes.

The summer of my 21st year, I went out a lot. A lot. To say my conservative Christian parents were nervous was an understatement. Yet, during all the repeated conversations I had with them, they always reiterated the fact that it wasn't that they didn't trust me, they didn't trust the other people out on the roads driving drunk at that hour; they didn't trust the creepy guys that congregate in bars and club looking for only one thing. My parents have been around the block quite a few times and are not naive. They are not conservative because they have always been so, but because they have lived on the opposite side and been burned too many times.

I have been burned as well. But, I am not going to hide away from fear because of it. I am a woman and I have a voice. Right now it might be a small, scared voice, but, like the Who's kept alive so precariously on the speck on Horton's thistle, I AM HERE! And I will not go quietly into the night. So, thank you, Muska, for your post. It has reminded me, yet again, of why I am constantly inspired by your bravery and ability to use words to display it so effectively. More importantly, I am reminded that my purpose and vision for life has always been to effect positive change, to know that in my own way I am saving a small corner of the world. And that saving doesn't have to be overnight or to millions of people. It starts with one.

It starts with each one of us telling the men in our lives what is and isn't acceptable. It starts with us claiming that we are Ladies of Worth. It starts by getting in The Room.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Faithfulness Is What I Long For

I've been thinking a lot about infidelity. Why people cheat, what causes it, how does it happen? For whatever reason, it's been rearing its ugly head in my life more often than not lately, so, as is my M.O., I am going to use the gentle clacking of my keyboard to work through some of this and use it as a form of therapy.

I spent a good portion of last night researching the causes of infidelity. I used to think that before "The Artist" no one had ever cheated on me. And why would they? I'm beautiful, funny, intelligent, caring, an amazing cook, and a damn good kisser. But, apparently that doesn't matter because Homo sapiens find monogamy difficult (I find this article ridiculous, by the way). Now I'm starting to rethink my original hypothesis of only some people cheat to maybe everyone cheats. Seriously. Does no one understand the sanctity of exclusivity anymore? And now I'm terrified at the thought that maybe someday I too will fall along the wayside of secret meetings and guilty conscious and "I had to work late" just because I cannot deny my animal nature.

I had a conversation with one of my cousins while I was in Dallas for Thanksgiving about faithfulness and what it means to cheat. I believe that one does not need to actually have sex with someone else to cheat, although that is the ultimate culmination. Like all things, cheating begins in the heart and the mind. It begins by making a concious decision. For instance, if I go into work thinking, "Oh that project isn't due until next week. Maybe I'll work on it today." I most likely will not. However, if I go in thinking, "I will finish this project today no matter what!" I will finish it no matter what. Why? Because the mind is a powerful thing. The reason why I became a vegetarian and lost over 30 pounds three years ago wasn't because I thought it would be nice, but because I set my fucking mind to it.

Everything worth something is worth the hard work. So I told my cousin....if this man that treats you like gold is the person you want to be with for the rest of your life, then you need to find a way to work through whatever needs to be worked through. If, for whatever reason, he's not, then you need to end the relationship for the right reasons with the dignity that your time together deserves, not for another man.

Growing up, my parent's did not allow my sister or me to date. They were huge advocates of courtship. While I definitely don't ascribe to these rules in the strictest sense (and I most certainly didn't when I was 16), I do believe that most dating relationships do the opposite in preparing people for a lasting marriage. The way our modern society practices dating, it, in essence, prepares people for divorce. What do you do when you don't like/love/find the other person attractive anymore? Break up with your partner. What do you do when you find someone else more appealing? Break up with your partner. What happens when things get hard? Break up with your partner. Getting married does not mean that all of a sudden all those things that happened when you were "dating" disappear. If anything, they're magnified. It's just as easy for a married person to be attracted to someone else as it is for a single person. The difference is that there are vows and promises made (which really don't mean much today anyway). The point behind all of this is commitment. When you are committed to another person, it means that you are choosing to sacrifice your own needs and wants for the other's ultimate happiness.

Marriage is a covenant, a solemn agreement between two people to do, or not do, something specified - namely, to be promise to love, cherish, and honor the other person through the good and the bad, in sickness and in health, for richer or for poorer. These vows are sacred. I love the wording of the original marriage vows: "...holy matrimony which is an honorable estate, instituted of God, in the time of man's innocence, signifying unto us the mystical union that is betwixt Christ and his church...and therefore is not by any to be enterprised nor taken in hand unadvisedly or lightly; but reverently, discreetly, advisedly, soberly and in the fear of God, duly considering the causes for which matrimony was ordained."
These vows are not only promises to each other, but in a sense they are law. And just as we are required and obligated to honor and obey the laws of our earthly governments, so we must honor and obey the law of marriage.

Well that's all well and good for marriage, but what about  pre-vow relationships? I believe that the same rules apply, though not as binding. One thing that I carried away from my break up with The Artist was when he told me that he wanted to have our end at least give honor to what we had. Yeah, I know, this coming from the guy who cheated. But, he had a point. I believe that it's important to be able to leave a relationship for the right reasons and "give honor" to what was shared. And, let's be honest, there's really only one reason why you should get out of a relationship: it's not ending in marriage. Because otherwise what's the point? If I cannot see myself spending the rest of my life with this person, what's the point? Unless you're just in it for sex, but that's a completely different topic (it's never just sex). And I trip myself up with this in my dating life all the time. It's not just a matter of, "He's hot and we have fun." At this stage in my life it cannot be about that anymore. But, I think this is where a lot of the problem comes from. This is why many people start dating in the first place and then days/weeks/months/years down the line realize that their non-negotiable's don't match up.

My non-negotiable's?

  1. That he have the same sense of spirituality/faith as I
  2. That the vision/goals we have for our lives are complementary
  3. That he is well-educated, hard-working, and ambitious
  4. That he is constantly encouraging and making me want to be better
  5. That there is a mutual respect, attraction, and selfless approach to loving the other person as they need to be loved, not how we want to be loved. 
So why would I even think about being with anyone that doesn't meet these key criteria? Because of stinking feelings and their funny ways! And feelings are funny because they are fleeting and we cannot trust them. Which is why love is so much more than that. It is the commitment that I spoke about before; it is a constant choice to love the other person as they need to be loved, not how you think they should be loved, or how you need to be loved yourself; it is a decision that starts in the heart to be faithful. 

This is the way my conservative Christian parents raised me and this is why I'm not really afraid that I will give into some animal instinct one day and be unfaithful. I know because I have set it in my mind and in my heart as not even an option for my life. Just as it's not an option to do conscious, malicious harm to others, it's not an option to give up or to look back, it is not an option to break my promises. 

It's not an option to live with anything less than the utmost integrity. 

So no, I don't believe that we're hardwired to cheat. I think that we are, at heart, selfish beings and our society has become conditioned to accept the easy way, the fast way, the most convenient way as king. We are all tempted and herein is not where the sin lies. The brokenness comes from giving into the temptations, some with worse and harder consequences than others. I am far from perfect and have my share of battle scars, but I would hope that the consequences of my sins,  no matter how grievous, are always born by me and me alone and do all that I can to spare others from the same pain to which I have been subjected. 

But, I am coming to learn more and more that the foundations for all of this is laid early on in the home. And if it is not set then, when will it be established?

Monday, December 12, 2011


I am stealing this idea from someone wonderful.

Things I Have Caught Myself Saying to my Cat:

  • You are so much smarter than that (as he attacks his reflection in the mirror)
  • You are crazy if you think you're going outside after sundown
  • Chill out! You know you only get to eat twice a day
  • Snuggle in (this is said often)
  • Wipe your paws before you come in (he does)
  • Tokes! Don't be weird
  • I'm sorry I stepped on you, but you should know better than to swirl around my legs when I'm trying to cook. I'm not saying it's your fault, but.....
  • Yes, it's still as cold as it was 5 minutes ago when you wanted to go out but realized it was too cold the first time.
  • Bye buddy, I love you, have a good day! (every single morning)

Nerd Fail

I used to think I was a nerd. Took pride in it. Bragged about it. Embraced it. Why, you ask? Why-ever did a beautiful, charming, witty, fashionista such as moi stereotype herself as a nerd? I will tell you, loyal readers: for the mere fact that I was raised on Star Wars (Han Solo will forever be my perfect man....Oh Noble-Bad-Boy-With-A-Heart-Of-Gold-and-Killer-Good-Looks, where have you been all my life?)  and SciFy, constantly had my nose in a book and actually enjoyed studying, and - most importantly - I was a beast at rescuing Princess Peach from the evil Bowzer a la 1988 NES 8-bit gloriousness.

The Evil Mushrooms still look like owls to me
But, alas, I have been sorely mistaken! Misinformed of what a true nerd is! What is this anime nonsense? And no I do not wish to partake! Play video games past the age of 11 on a system other than NES or Sega? Blasphemy! Graphic novels and and graphic-ier t-shirts? Don't make me give you what-for!

I'm sorry, I don't speak freaky deaky dutch!
I have come to the realization of my non-nerdom over the slow course of basically since this summer. It started with meeting TLGOE. I foolishly believed that our nerdness was equal, but I soon learned that I was merely a minnow in the large ocean of NERD. This was the first inkling I had that my much-coveted title of Hot Nerd Chic might be false. The mass amounts of technology in his loft and superhero posters on his walls left me speechless with the epicness of it all. Unfortunately, things fell apart with TLGOE, although not because of the X-Box....perhaps because I just couldn't stop comparing myself to PowerGirl's effortlessly perky tits. Or maybe I was jealous of Ramona Flowers. The world will never know.

I mean, how do you compete with this?
My second hint that not all was well in the "I'm-A-Fucking-Nerd" world was after Mr. LA Looks himself entered the scene. After our first conversation I knew - Oh boy did I know! - here was a fellow nerd on my level. We can talk about how the subtle sexiness of Leia's white robe outfit is so much better totally not as hot as the blatant sex she oozes in her slave girl outfit! We can dream of naming our first car the Millennium Falcon! He can show me a video clip of him and his friend....battling with light sabers....? Epic? Yes! A display of his mad crazy editing skillz? Indubitably! A sign that I was surpassed, yet again, in the nerd department? Without a doubt. 

Of course I comforted myself with the knowledge that yes, of course I can still hold onto my Hot Nerd Chic title. For a girl, I'm still a total nerd, it's just the men-folk that have the upper hand, right? Right?? Ah, but here is where the proverbial nail in the coffin is pounded home:

Thanksgiving 2011: South Lake, TX. Scene I: The disgusted look on Hot Cousin Number 1's face when I claim that I "know nothing of Harry Potter." Scene II: The copious amounts of excitement displayed by Hot Cousin Number 2 as she played her World of Warcraft version of Xbox for the first time and me not understanding it at allllllllll. Scene III: All of my Hot Cousins having some inherent knowledge of all things pokemon, internet cats, and random cartoons. I was humbled in the grandeur of their Ultimate Hot Nerd Chic-ness. I was merely flotsam bobbing hopelessly in the wake of their Nerdliner. I was utterly and completely destroyed.

Until I realized that I can be ok with this. In fact, I am embracing NOT being a nerd. You know why? Because I am amazing at accessorizing the shit out of an outfit and looking hella tight 365. That's right, bitches, not only will I kill you on NES, I will also out-outfit you (except my hot-nerd cousins are total trend-setters. Blast!).

Seriously, what else do you need?
And to top it off, the time I save by NOT playing video games and looking up LOLZ Cats I can use to learn another language, teach myself to play piano again, learn the choreography to my favorite scene in White Christmas:

Seriously won't get married until the man I'm with reenacts this scene with me. You think I'm kidding....

And I will get around to all those things right after this: 

You're Welcome