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Marriage Proposal Monday

So the other night, I’m sitting in my PJ’s, about to go elbow deep into some microwave popcorn, when my phone vibrates with a message from a friend, telling me she just received a marriage proposal from a guy online.  A guy she’d never met.  A guy she’d never even messaged/talked with.

This is blog fodder GOLD, friends.

I’ll just let you see.

marriage proposal setup

 

Oooooooooh yeeeeeah, baby.  I was drunk with power… what to say?  What to do?

Was it my place to steer this poor lost lad in proper online dating courtship methods?  You know… stuff like, don’t lead off with lifelong commitment?  After all – with great power comes great responsibility.
Or could I just have some fun with him?

I think you all can probably guess…I chose the latter.

Enjoy.

marriage proposal

So there you have it.  I feel I’ve really done some good in this world.

I’m like a SuperHero of online dating, basically.  The Dark Knight (or is it Knightess?) of cyber love.
And you all are my co-voyeurs.

You’re welcome.

Love Hurts

I was talking with my kids the other day about love. Yes – this is what life is like in the Stone family… is anyone really surprised? When I asked my daughter, “how can you tell if someone loves you?” this was her answer: “Because he’ll be mean to you.” mean boys 1 *record scratches* Wai….wha….huh???  Where have I gone wrong in my parenting?  How have I failed her so? With pained eyes and a pleading furrowed brow, I asked her to tell me why she thought that. She went on to tell me a story – that inspired this post. See, there’s this bully at Charlotte’s school.  For the purposes of protecting his identity, let’s call him ‘douche-face.’ Oh…am I not allowed to call a 7-year old that?  Fine… FINE!  We’ll call him Jordan. Jordan has picked on Charlotte (that’s her REAL name…isn’t it pretty?  Yup – just like she is) for a couple of years now.  He’s a real piece of work.  One time last year, I had to come to the school to pick her up early after an ‘incident’ where he acted very inappropriately and the school had to write it up.  They were great about it – he, on the other hand, is a predator in the making… So, apparently, this last year, after some skirmish on the playground, Charlotte told a teacher what was happening, and the teacher’s response to her was that “Jordan probably just has a crush on you.  When boys like little girls, they’re mean to them.” Let’s hear that again:  “When boys like girls, they’re mean to them.” Ok – let the record show that I HATE this. [The record shall so reflect.] I do not think there’s a fine line between flirting and bullying. I think it’s a wide highway of bad choices. And it’s why some grown men think that insulting a woman will win her heart.  Or, in extreme cases, it’s a slippery slope to an abusive relationship. I know, I know… it’s true that little kids often display their burgeoning romantic feelings with teasing… out of an immaturity of understanding relationships. I remember those days.  I get it.  I really do. Insert funny caveat here… (yes – click this and watch). My problem isn’t so much with the occurrence of that immaturity, but the way we TEACH it to the girls. Thanks to one teacher’s misguided philosophy of love, my daughter has now been given an incorrect (or at the very least, an incomplete) message, by a grown up, about how love works. Yes – A message. We all collect messages as we grow up, that help shape what we believe about the world around us.  Heck – aren’t the college years basically just a time to sort out which messages we’ll keep and which we’ll dismiss?  Between parents/families, school, friends, civic organizations, churches, etc., we all get an enormous amount of data about how things are – social mores, rules of conduct, ways to think about finances, love, work, sex, and on and on it goes. So, now my daughter has another data point that says – “boys show you they like/love you by being mean.”

mean boys 2

Let’s just consider the implications of this: 1.  Because it’s a sign of their deep affection, being treated unkindly should be allowed, perhaps even enjoyed.  So – don’t be upset that someone’s hurting you. In fact… maybe you could learn to like it – since, after all, it’s a sign he likes you. Awesome message to give a little girl.  And we wonder why our young women are in and out of therapy later in life. A corollary assumption would be:   Boys/men don’t know how to express affection, so either put up with their meanness, or take it on as your own project to change them. And I think we can all agree that a woman trying to change a man – is a recipe for relational disaster.

(A note about boys/men expressing their feelings… I DO know that guys often use teasing or physical methods of communication with each other… I’m not here to say that needs to stop… but there’s a difference between razzing other guys, and being mean to a girl or making her feel unsafe, hurt, or uncomfortable.)

2.  If YOU love someone (or you’re on your way to love), you show it by being mean. Hey – if little boys can do it, and it’s ok, it must work for anyone! And we wonder why women use passive-aggressive behaviors.  It’s just a sophisticated form of mental bullying. 3.  Lastly, not only is it how boys show you they’re into you – but it’s GOOD. The teacher didn’t say, “I’m sorry he’s doing these things…I’ll tell him to stop, but it’s probably because…blah blah blah,” no, she used the “he has a crush” mentality as a rationalization… as if to say, “so that’s why this is happening – isn’t it adorable?”  This might seem like splitting hairs from number 1 on the list, but it makes a difference later in life when women chase after the ‘bad boys’ because the’yre seemingly better. I recognize that this is an age-old issue and that boys aren’t going to stop teasing girls anytime soon. BUT… I think we have an obligation to teach our girls that, while that may be the case, it is NOT acceptable or good.  We need to give them a lexicon of assertiveness.  Phrases like, “I do NOT like it when you do that.  Stop it.”  Pretty simple, right?  Yeah…..try saying it on a date when a guy is pressuring you for more than you’re up for… sigh… As far as the Stone household, we had a nice long talk about how Stone girls look for guys who use their cleverness for flirting, not belittling; their strength for protecting, not bullying; and their words for engaging conversation, not emotional tearing down. Granted….I’m still looking.  But, at least I’m not chasing the bad boys… and in my book, that’s coming out ahead of the game.  

Ask Sarah – Dating at the Graveside

Dear Sarah,
     I’ve recently encountered a situation that requires the advice of a love expert like yourself. Here’s a brief background story: In the fall of 2012 one of my dear and most loyal friends died of a self inflicted gunshot.  I ran into his ex-girlfriend various times over the next couple months and the poor girl was obviously a wreck, …and then we didn’t see each other for quite a while.
     Several weeks ago I ran into her again at a gig I was playing and we caught up – it was great seeing her. I immediately asked her how she was, and I guess by the look in my eyes, she knew what I meant and said she was doing better. She looked better, she looked great. So after an hour or so passed, while we spoke, and while more booze was consumed, I started to notice that she was getting a little flirty. And when I say a little flirty I mean it, nothing blatant, just a couple of the eye movements, and brief contact with knees. Keep in mind she is a very attractive person and normally it wouldn’t take much to win me over. The difference is that she is an ex of a deceased friend of mine. Not just a friend but a loyal man who would have given his life for me. He told me several times “Anybody who messes with you’s gotta mess with me first!! I’m serious, Bobby.”
      So the question is: Is it ok to sleep with, date, or pursue an ex of a deceased friend?
My philosophy is that you cannot do any of the above with the ex of a friend, associate, or anyone you know or respect. If you don’t care about the person, then fine, go for it, otherwise stay away a**hole!! What do you think? Also is she considered an ex since she was dating him at the time of his death? They weren’t married so she can’t be his widow.
Anyway Sarah I’m lost about this matter. Please give me any advice you can know of.
Thank you,
Your fan,
Bobby

Bobby,
Let me ask a few questions first.
1.  Does she understand the difference between “your” and “you’re?”  EVEN when texting?
2.  Has she stopped using hearts for punctuation?
3.  Does she own fewer than 5 cats?
If the answer to these questions is yes, then what’s the problem??
I want to tell you a different story and you tell me how you react.
There was a sweet couple – Jean and Hank – high school sweethearts – married 40 years when Jean was diagnosed with cancer.  As they battled the disease over the course of 4 more long years, they hired a live-in nurse, named Maria, to assist with medical issues and offer support.  The family became very close with Maria: it was clear she cared about all of them and she became more than a nurse… she was a friend.  As Jean slipped into her last weeks of life, Maria was there around the clock, tending to her, but also offering a listening ear or holding Hank’s hand as he grieved for his wife.  The day finally arrived and Jean passed away.  Maria was there for every moment of the mourning process – helping with the Memorial service details, talking with some family members, crying with others, sitting silently with some.  And as the weeks and months after Jean’s death passed, and life slowly started getting back to normal, Maria stayed in contact with Hank and his children, coming to family dinners from time to time, meeting for coffee to check in on them, etc.  She and Hank had developed such a strong friendship over the next year or so, that no one was surprised when one day, he announced that he and Maria were dating… and a year after that, they married.
How does that hit you?  Does it sound scandalous or wrong?  Does it break the bro code?
I have a feeling it sounds normal… sweet even.
Is that so different from your situation?  The only real difference is the age.  They’re old.  You’re young.  But why is it wrong simply because of youth?
Bottom line is that I absolutely disagree with you.
Who BETTER than those who were close with (read: possibly shared similar values and character traits as) the deceased, to take care of, and love, those left behind?
Now – if your question is, “can we have sex?” then my answer is different.
But if your question is, “can I start a relationship with this person and see where it goes?” I give my unequivocal two thumbs up!
Think of it this way – if he really loved you as much as he says, if you could go back and time and ask him, in a serious moment, “Dude… if something every happened to you, what kind of guy would you want to end up with your girlfriend?” – I bet he’d respond with something like, “Oh man, I’d want her to end up with someone like you.
What’s the alternative?  I’m guessing she’s not going to be celibate and alone the rest of her life.  So, if she’s going to date and eventually marry SOMEone, why not someone who loved the man she loved?  Makes sense to me.
The only sticky wickets in this king of situation would be:
– entering into a romantic relationship too soon after someone has passed away.  People need time to mourn.
– turning it into a purely physical relationship where, in the end, she’ll just feel used by someone she trusted
I find it interesting that you stated it this way:
“My philosophy is that you cannot [be in a relationship] with the ex of a friend, associate, or anyone you know or respect. If you don’t care about the person, then fine, go for it, otherwise stay away…”
Seems backwards to me.  “If you DON’T care about the person, then fine?”
So, let me see if I have this straight:
Date people you don’t care about… and stay away from those you do?  Hrmmmm…
If you care about someone who passes away, you’re supposed to remove yourself from his loved ones’ lives?
I sure hope if I were married and my husband died, that my friends wouldn’t adopt such a policy.  I want them to stay close – for comfort, friendship, support, and ultimately – healing.
So, there you have it – my permission to date this girl (if that’s what she wants too!).
And I’ll be curious to hear how it goes!

Sometimes The Glass IS Half-Empty…

I was inspired to write this supremely depressing 2-part post (can’t wait to read it now, can ya?) by a middle-of-the-night phone call I got the other night.  Here’s how it went down:

Phone vibrates.  It’s 1:48 a.m.  You know who calls at 1:38 a.m.?  People whose limbs are falling off or people who want to cut off your limbs.  Oh, and occasionally – drunk men, in the mood for ….well, yeah.

I look and it says, “Unknown Caller.”  I answer in my groggy, but firmly “I’m certainly not all alone in my home, just waiting to be killed” voice, “Hello?”
-silence-
Hello??”
-hang up-

Now, ordinarily, that would just be a minor inconvenience, but for some reason, it awoke me in just such a state that getting a hang-up call from a blocked number scared the sense right out of me.  I was now in full-panic mode – the kind where you just KNOW that if you shift in the bed too noisily, a terrible man is going to come upstairs and remove all the skin from your body like peeling a grape, or something (I MAY have watched a few too many episodes of Criminal Minds.  I’m never worried about dying, mind you…I’m always more concerned about the bag of tools in tow, and the bizarre form of torture I’ll inevitably endure.)
So, while I’m trying to talk myself out of being irrationally afraid…a good 5 minutes later, I get this text:

Glass Half Empty 1Ok – At least now I was on the path to believing there wasn’t a serial rapist downstairs ….and yet… I needed more details.

And so, the following middle-of-the-night conversation ensued.  (So, to all the Words-With-Friends opponents who asked why I was playing at that crazy hour…now you know… to distract myself from thoughts of medieval torment machines being assembled in my living room).

glass half empty 2Yes.  That would be inadvisable…ESPECIALLY considering that that was my “I’m not alone!” voice… not my sexy voice.
*rethinks ‘not alone voice’*

So, I was finally able to calm myself down and drift back off into sleepy land, when what should happen…?
He called!
AGAIN!
what??  Oy…

Let’s just review… this is a guy who I had ONE conversation with (by phone… in daylight hours), who said he would follow up with me and take me out for lunch.  Then I didn’t hear from him for weeks, until he messaged me….  Well, actually, let me just SHOW you.

Here’s our first encounter – on the IM feature on OKCupid – many months ago…

first convo

Seems cool, right?  He tracked with me on theological stuff, joked about smooching, …there was some banter there.  Decent stuff, no?

He called the next day (as in…while the sun was still shining and I wasn’t asleep…) and we had a pleasant-ish conversation.  He came off sorta pretentious…but not enough to not see how lunch went.  He said he’d call or text about lunch…then nothing.

For several weeks.

Then, this conversation:

post convo convo

And then……. you guessed it…. nada.

No contact again.

I figured between the flakey plan-making (a particularly unseemly quality in my book), AND the snobby tone he’d adopted on the phone call…that I had zero interest.

So…when he disrupted my beauty sleep – on a school night, no less, and called a SECOND time…
– I was particularly miffed:
glass half empty 3

You were bored, were you?  BORED?  Well, color me smitten.  A man who would rudely awake me and then ‘woo’ me with words like, “just bored” is the kind of guy who inspires some disillusionment.

I mean – I expect this stuff from the low-life guys I quickly swipe past on online sites, but… “et TU, professor of philosophy?”  If an educated, witty guy can succumb to late night fishing expeditions, then who the heck is LEFT?  So, while I promise to return to my normal cheerful, holding-onto-hope in this world of dating tone soon…  for now, I’m going to just shake my head in dismay.
Join me, will you?

A 2:00 a.m. booty call from a guy who seemed so great…is the kind of thing that has so many single people convinced that there’s nothing of quality left out there.

So, before I rally and give you my speech about how there ARE still great guys out there and that you should hold onto your hope and your standards, I thought I’d languish in the pit just a BIT longer… Come back another day for a better-rested, more hopeful blogger.

Lovers Gon’ Love

MjAxMy1mYTc1NjkzZDJhZDU1NzBk_511718d534a78Why do so many people hate Valentine’s Day?

Right, right, I can hear many of you reciting that over-used line, “It’s just a ‘Hallmark holiday’.”

And…?

Is Hallmark inherently evil?
Don’t thousands of companies latch onto holidays to boost sales?  We’re capitalists!
We don’t hate Presidents Day because linens are discounted, do we?
Does Egyptian Cotton trump flowers and candy?

Perhaps you’d say, “It’s an invented holiday.”
OOooooooh, ok… not like those organic ones we’ve found while out farming the land.  Right…

Maybe you’d respond with, “Why should someone else tell me when to show the person I love that I love him/her.  I SHOULD be showing them all year ‘round!
Great!  Yes!
You should!
Go do that!  Valentine’s Day isn’t keeping anyone from showering their loved ones with affection on the other 364 days of the year.

Are you afraid you’re going to think up a romantic gesture for your sweetheart and right when you’re about to leave her that note or give her that gift, you’ll get a firm knock on the door from the Valentine’s Day Police?  “Sir, …sir, are you aware that it’s April 12th?  What were you THINKING?  Loving your significant other is strickly forbidden.  Any thoughts, words, or actions of amorous expression must wait until next February 14th.  V-day LAW.”

hate-valentines-day-unless-bounty-hunter-ecard-someecards

Truth be told, Valentine’s Day isn’t making anyone do anything.  It just is.

If there were such a thing as “Hug Day,” would you fold your arms and refuse free hugs?  What about “Compliment Day?”  or “Get $100 Day?”  These are all good things… things that should not make people bitter, but excited!

The beautifully sweet thing about this holiday is this:
It’s one day a year, set aside, to celebrate love.

That’s it.
Love.

LOVE, people!!

The most important thing in this life… ought to have a day…right?

I mean… even people who aren’t at all religious, let baby Jesus have a day.  (That’s Christmas, y’all)
And hardly anyone turns away green beer on St. Patrick’s Day.
No one complains that the 4th of July FORCES them to play with fireworks and eat BBQ.

Why does Valentine’s Day get such a bad rap?

I think the answer is this:  people resent the fact that they don’t have the love they most want.
Valentine’s Day shines a light on the places where we feel lonely or hurt.  Stick with me for a moment.

– Married people who are unhappy in their marriages – hate the idea of a spotlight on love… because they are feeling that awful cringing pain of not feeling loved.

solo– Single people who crave a relationship, but don’t have one – hate the world turning their red and pink attention on those who HAVE found their lobster (which are, appropriately red…).

– Boyfriends and girlfriends in undefined, ambiguous relationships, don’t enjoy the holiday that breathes down your neck and whispers, “you know… you really ought to think about what you want, and what this is.  …I’m just sayin’…”

Anyone who is at all unfulfilled in any relational way – feels the heat of a day whose focus is the very thing you want, but don’t fully have.

And I get that… if there was a day that celebrated designer clothes or cool cars or fancy big houses, …I might feel left out.  Like, “hey – I want those things too… but, alas… not this year.”

The DIFFERENCE is that  Valentine’s Day is about ALL love… not just the Rom-Com, smoochy, McDreamy, end-of-the-movie-swoon-worthy-speech, PDA, fluttery tummy, grand gesture, sweeping soundtrack, surprised by flowers and poems kind of love.  Valentine’s Day is about so much more.

Those things are all fine…but they are one sliver of the story.

I propose… you look a little further.

Celebrating love doesn’t have to be a romantic love.

cheesy v-dayI know, I know…this sounds trite…you’ve heard it before, …but all those super classy corner tables/tents full of roses and cheap teddy bears don’t exactly scream equal opportunity love…they ONLY make us think of 2 groups:
1. gooey-eyed lovebirds – new to the sweetheart scene, and untarnished by the world.  Or,
2. guilt-driven men in panic-mode, on their way home from work

But, I’d encourage you to look beyond the consumeristic piece of this holiday and contemplate the heart of it.  Aha!  The HEART!  😉

You really can take a step back and look at your life…and appreciate the love of your parents, you can ponder the love you have for your children.  You can take an honest look at the friends, co-workers, roommates, neighbors, etc. in your life…and have a moment of happiness when you realize they are all gifts.  And maybe, …maybe you’ll even be inspired to tell them so!?

And if you look around at your life, and you truly have NO one to love… then (and I’m not pandering… I mean this), reach out.  Maybe that means seeking out friendship, maybe that means reconciling with someone who’s caused you pain or who was the recipient of your anger/distancing/etc.  Maybe it means visiting a church to find a new community.  Heck, come visit MY church!

I know you all probably get sick of me going on and on about how I still have hope for finding love… and I do.  But today is about appreciating and celebrating the love you ALREADY have.  I’m blessed to have so much love in my life – amazing friends (I mean, AMAZING), awesome family (who I can call ANYTIME when I need a ‘shoulder to cry on’), and the two most beautiful, creative, sweet children a person could hope for.  So, on a day made to honor love… I am full to the brim.  🙂

Happy Valentine’s Day to all of you!

Val-Day 2014 print

 

Dating in an LOL World

Things are not as they seem.  …or as they USED to be… I just used “lol” in the middle of sentence in a text…and I wasn’t L-ing at all, certainly not OL. I don’t even recognize myself… What has HAPPENED to me? I’ll tell you – the same thing that’s happened in the world of dating – the rules have changed. Sigh… Oh, how they’ve changed. And “Lol” is only the beginning… I used to be the biggest stickler about this one – I’d only ever type “lol” if I had actually ‘laughed out loud,’ (which of course I do often, so it wasn’t that much of a stretch). But, now, if I audibly laugh, I feel the need to type something like, “LOL!  I ACTUALLY laughed!  Out loud!” I mean, mercy!  Isn’t the point of having those three letters, so that you DON’T have to type out a play-by-play of your comedic response? The term and use of “lol” have changed since its inception.  It no longer means you actually laughed…it just means something is laughABLE, or even mildly amusing.  People use it to poke fun at a situation or themselves… it’s become a texting tic. And it’s not the only phrase that’s seen an evolution in its use and meaning.

The dating world is full of phrases, ideas, and expectations that don’t mean nearly what they used to.

A couple examples :

1.  “Hang out” used to mean spending time with someone – maybe meeting for a drink or to take a walk.  Now it means, “give me directions to your home – I’ll bring the ruffies.” russian BC 1 Russian BC


 

2.  “Hooking up” used to mean – connecting with someone once you were both out on the town. [e.g. “Cool, I’m out with a friend now…let’s hook up later and grab a beer!“]
Now it also means – have casual sex.  (I’m noticing a pattern here).


 

And not only have the phrases/lingo changed, expectations and ideals have shifted dramatically.

A few of the myriad ways:
1.  The age of a man complimenting a woman is gone.  If you find a man who will verbally appreciate your beauty or character, he’s a rare gem and you should put a ring on it.

2.  Major declarations of intentions or significant messages can now be delivered via text, and it’s not rude.   Texting someone that it’s not a good match, or conversely, that you REALLY like them… isn’t cheating.  It used to be that texting was for quick logistics, or for lazy people, but sentiment was left for the phone or in person.  Not anymore.  And that’s ok…if you know it. The problem with this one is that not everyone is on the same page.  So, feelings get hurt or people feel underappreciated.  You have people like me who’d rather NOT talk on the phone…I’m a text or in-person kinda gal… upsetting those who still want an old-fashioned phone convo.  Sigh…

3.  A first date is no longer necessarily an all-night event.  Where there used to be an expectation of dinner and a movie, now there’s just coffee or one drink.  In fact, truth be told, most of us in the online dating scene, would prefer a quick 5-minute meet-up to be sure you do, in fact, have all (ok, most?) of your teeth, you smell relatively normal, don’t give off that “I may have a few dead hookers in my backyard shed” vibe, look remotely similar to your online photos, and don’t get that crusty foamy stuff in the corners of your mouth. Yeah…the bar is nice and low, friends.

4.  In the olden days (you know…that nebulous period of “feels like forever ago”…), a man would meet a woman who intrigued him, and immediately ask her to dinner or, depending on how ‘olden’ we’re talking, to join him for parlor games with his parents at the plantation.  (I’m making this stuff up as I go, folks… and the bulk of my ‘olden days’ dating knowledge comes from vampire novels, but stick with me).  Nowadays, a guy will sit on a potentially great relationship for WAY too long without initiating a face-to-face meeting.  I have girlfriends who have been messaging guys for WEEKS and there’s no talk of “we should get together!”  WHAT?  If someone is exciting enough to send messages to every day, don’t you want to be sure you’re not chatting with a tech-savvy 12-year old named Aiden or Tate or something equally nauseating? I, for one, am all for the quick-to-meet philosophy.  What do you have to lose?  If the person is interesting in person, they’re still going to be so by text.  But if they turn out to be a me-monster, or insanely insecure…don’t you want to cross them off the list before wasting weeks of well-crafted flirty texts?

 

There are countless other ways that dating has changed, but I’ll close us out today with a most bizarre scenario that happened with me a few weeks ago – where my humor (and only a sliver of the ocean of funniness within me, truth be told) cost me a first date.

 

Met this guy on Match – he messaged me first… we took it to texting and made a plan to meet a couple days after the New Year.  We were just making small talk – he was sick, I was busy, blah blah…boring stuff… this is why I’m quick to meet with someone. We checked in with each other every day or so, but with the holidays, it was busy and since I hadn’t yet determined that he was ‘full throttle adorable text’-worthy, it was limited communication.  I was just looking forward to meeting him and seeing if there was real potential there.

 

 

 

 

 

 

And then this happened…. What?
I mean… what?

 

Billy 1

Billy 2

I like to think I stay ‘up’ on the ever shifting shadows of the modern dating world, but this one even caught me by surprise. Apparently a random insertion of cat allergy discussion is NOT a laughing matter… and I was supposed to be doting on this guy, by text, more intensely than I was… before ever meeting and establishing that there’s chemistry at all.

Ah well… lesson learned. But, no love lost, he used WAY too many emoticons anyway.
And if THAT’S not a red flag, …well then I don’t know what is.

Resolution: Don’t be a Jerkface

‘Tis the season to make empty promises to yourself.  Lose weight, spend less, be more patient…blah blah blah.

I don’t hate the idea of New Year’s resolutions.  In fact, I think it’s an admirable way to start the new year – wanting this one to be better than the last.  And self-improvement is commendable.  But, I’m a firm believer in making those resolutions specific and quantifiable.

– “Be nicer” doesn’t count.  Committing to hand out 1 honest compliment a day – does.
– “Exercise more” isn’t nearly as attainable as “do 100 push-ups a week.”

Specific.  Quantifiable.  Accomplishable.
Mine is to give up ice cream.  Sigh… it’s going to be a long, sad year… 😉

 

Forget all those ambiguous resolutions you’ve made …or even the list of unattainable goals you’ve typed into your phone ‘notes.’
I’d like to offer my services and take it one step further… Consider this a public service – my suggestions for how to not be a jerkface this year.   Here’s what you really need to do:

shhh

STOP SAYING THESE FIVE PHRASES

If you can cut these out of your life, you will be a measurably better person in 2014.
You have my highly-opinionated word on it.

 

1.  “No offense, but…”

Stop.  You’ve already offended me.  Anything that follows this phrase is something you probably shouldn’t say.
Ever.
And couching it in that super crafty qualifier isn’t fooling anyone.  It’s just a preamble to unsolicited criticism or jerkfaceness.

You might as well just say, “I’m about to be cruel, uncaring and arrogant.
But I don’t want you to think less of me.  Even though you should…

People say this and then expect that, because they prefaced their mean words with an untruthful statement, that somehow you can’t get mad at them …or hurt.  Problem is… no qualifier can keep that from happening.

If what you’re about to say IS offensive – you probably shouldn’t say it.
If what you’re about to say ISN’T offensive – you don’t need a qualifier.
So, just stop saying it.
Don’t be a jerk.

 

2.  “It is what it is”

Oh, IS it?

Duh.

Why don’t we just go around saying other obvious things like, “I breathe air.”

It IS ….what it IS?
This is the verbal version of shrugging your shoulders and lamenting that a certain situation is unfortunate, but not likely to change.

You know what a more apt phrase would be?  “I’m sorry.  That sucks.”  Or maybe just a hug.
A hug is almost ALWAYS in order.

When people say “it is what it is” to me… internally I say to myself, dripping with sarcasm, “wow…thanks for that… I feel worlds better.”

 

3.  “Don’t take it personally”

Isn’t that exactly what everyone does…about everything?
We are people… persons.  Most things that matter are ‘personal.’
We receive information and process it through the lens of our collection of beliefs, thoughts, feelings, mood, etc… we are designed to ‘take things’ personally.

Thing is – no one ever uses this phrase about something impersonal.

You’d never hear a math professor explaining the Pythagorean theorem, saying, “So…the square of the hypotenuse is equal to the sum of the squares of the other two sides…but don’t take it personally.”    Eh???

No – people always use this when something PERSONAL has happened.  But they don’t want to have to witness your disappointment.  That would make them uncomfortable, so they tell you not to let it affect you.

This phrase gets used when people experience breakups, getting laid off, receiving disappointing or scary news, being on the wrong end of constructive criticism… often something that exposes them or makes them vulnerable… the very time that they will have an emotion…that feels…well…personal.
The very meaning of the word “personal” is ‘belonging or relating to a person.’  Isn’t that pretty much everything?

Related side-note… for added frustration, stupid people sprinkle this phrase with poor grammar by not even having the decency to use the full adverb, and instead giving it that uneducated flair:  “Don’t take it personal.”
No offense, but – we are not animals, people.

 

4.  “Love on”

It sounds like a cat rubbing up against your leg.  Pass.

This one’s big in religious communities, but really everyone’s susceptible.  The phrase is often used about someone who could use some extra love… and it’s said in an overly mothering tone, suggesting that person go somewhere that they can get “loved on.”

Hold on while I go dry heave for a minute…

love ON?”  How about just LOVING?
No on.  Take that ‘on’ right out.

While we’re ON the subject, it’s also “by accident.”  Not, “on accident.”  I die a little every time I hear someone say that.
Hmmm…I’m noticing a trend.  Perhaps I have a problem with phrases ending in “on.”
Then again, I don’t mind the word so much when it’s preceded by “turned.”
I digress.

Anytime you show someone genuine affection, you are loving them.
Why must we bastardize the word by adding a cutesy preposition?

I think people use this phrase because they’re afraid if they just say “love,” that it implies they’re IN love.  [Insert junior high whiney playground kid’s voice…”ewwwww…you LOVE her…”]
Oh NO!!  Not LOVE!  Not the thing we all crave and move mountains to get a drop of…not the stuff that really matters… not the most important thing in the world.  We wouldn’t wanna get tangled up in all of THAT.  Grody.

How about we just start being bold about loving.
Showing love (hugging, snuggling, caring for someone, doing nice things, making sacrifices, etc.) isn’t something we need to tiptoe around.
Loving is doing.  Loving ‘on’ is talking about it…awkwardly.

I’d rather be a doer.

 

5.  “Of COURSE this would happen to ME 

How self-involved can you get?  Unfortunate things happen to everyone.  It’s not worse when they happen to YOU.  That makes you sound like you think you’re at a higher level of importance than anyone else.

The close second to this phrase is when people say, “I canNOT get sick right now,” or, “the LAST thing I need right now is a ______.”  Guess what…NO one ‘needs’ those things.  It’s bad timing for everyone.  There’s never a good time to have your dog pee on the kitchen floor, get stood up, be assigned extra work, contract an illness, etc.
It’s not worse for YOU.
And saying it makes you sound pretty self-absorbed.

 

So, to sum up:

 

5 Phrases

Do You Believe?

santa 6Ah, Santa.

What do we do with Santa Claus?   Jolly ‘ol Saint Nick.

Some people don’t believe we should propagate the fantasy with kids, some people are neutral, some people go full-tilt fantasy as long as their kids keep believing and then some (*raises hand*).

I’d like to make a case for Santa.  After all, he’s WAY too busy today to speak on his own behalf.

This year, my little girl is right on the cusp of belief and disbelief.  It’s definitely the last Christmas I can pull off the fantasy.  So, I enlisted the help of my dad (an excellent storyteller) to tell the kids about the origins and evolution of Santa Claus…to drive home all those smooshy feelings that keep you choosing to believe in something, even when the evidence is beginning to outweigh the power of imagination.

santa 4Turns out the REAL story of St. Nick is the story of love, kindness, and helping those in need.  Isn’t that a story we can ALL get behind?

santa 1The original Saint Nicholas, who was later made Bishop and mimicked by countless other secret night-time gift-givers, was so convicted about giving to the needy and providing money, food, and toys to children who had nothing, that it caught on.  Talk about a trend worth following!

Whether you’re spiritual/religious or not, the idea of showing basic human kindness to others is something everyone can agree on.

So, the question isn’t really whether you ‘agree’ with Santa, it’s – are you on board with our modern-day take on him?

santa 8And, yes, I admit, the idea has morphed into a more materialistic chase that frustrates even the unbreakable Christmas spirit in me, at times.  But, we don’t have to let it BE that.  Instead of surrendering to the greediness that can be bred by the Santa story, we can use the idea of Father Christmas to do two things:

1.  Enjoy the gift of creativity and imagination.  There is such beautiful artistry in a great story.  Think of the delicious elements of a timeless fairy tale…   The way we weave the best aspects of the known world we can think of – pleasure, love, good winning over evil, bravery, sacrifice, etc., along with the supernatural or impossibly wonderful – (i.e. magic) – into a narrative that fills us with wonder… is there anything better?santa 5

 

You do this on a small scale – all the time.  Even bah-humbug grown-ups make up miniature fantasies anytime we WISH traffic would just part and make way for us to scurry home, or we close our eyes for a milisecond in hopes that that guy will call us back after a date, or we hope, beyond all reason that it’ll be sunny even when the weather channel says there’s a 100% chance of rain on a special day.  We WANT there to be MAGIC.  It’s in our nature to yearn for fantasy.  It’s why stories and movies like Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter are so popular!

Passing this on to our children is a gift.  The gift of creativity and the gift of WONDER.  Teaching them that there is a possibility ….that there exists the tiniest crack in reality that …COULD be magical.
That COULD be other-worldly…
it not only stirs their imagination, but it breeds hope.

2.  Appreciate the thrill of anonymous giving.  The anonymity that exists in the legend – that is, the fact that you don’t get CREDIT for the gift – gives it a another layer of honest goodness and sweet satisfaction.  Any selfish desire to get that kickback feeling that comes when someone recognizes you… is gone.  So, it removes any self-centerdness to reveal a pure underlying love of giving and generosity.

Have you ever given a gift where the person never knew it was from you?  Wasn’t it divine?  This is another certain privilege of participating in the Santa story.

santa 9

This is a season where that crack of possibility, that there might be such as thing as magic, opens just a little wider;
Our capacity to dream becomes a little larger;
Our willingness to open ourselves up to whimsy and wonder and even the foolishness that a fairy tale brings, becomes greater.
And our reluctance to suspend disbelief starts to chip away.

 

And maybe for just a moment – BELIEF in something magical becomes a reality.  Even if it happens for a fleeting moment…just a flash of “what if?” …isn’t it wonderful?

santa 7So – I don’t know about you, but as long as there are Christmases, I’m going to choose to engage in the mysterious wonder of Santa Claus.

Merry Christmas to ALL of you, and to all – a good night!

The shop around the cyber-corner

In this gift-giving season that’s upon us, I’ve been thinking a lot about shopping.

I love to shop.
But, not necessarily in that female stereotypical way… so, if you’re thinking, “no way… I hate malls…,”
I get it.  I can identify with not being the “typical” ‘loves-to-shop’ woman–

Heck, in a city where we’ve taken the idea of a mall and turned it into a metropolis-sized temple of materialism…
I practically need a wee dram of scotch and a football quality pep talk to brave Houston’s Galleria.

BUT…. Give me wifi, a mouse and a reasonable budget…and I’m your girl.

shopping 1Right now I’m in the market for a scrunchy, tall, black, suede-esque pair of boots… comfortable, yet fashion-forward – and under $40.  I’ve had the darndest time finding exactly what I’m looking for,  (it might surprise you to find I’m particularly picky…), but the search continues.

I’ve gone to several local shoe stores, to no avail.  So – I had to turn to the ‘ol interwebs… you get so many more options and filters…surely I’ll find what I’m looking for THERE…

And it occured to me… what if online shopping could be even better….
if you could streamline your requests, and add in all kinds of perks to the process while you search?

Well – I dare say it can!
With online dating.  The ULTIMATE shopping experience.  Hear me out…

shopping 4There is no other place in the world that you can fine-tune your specific requirements for your “purchase” quite like online dating.

Sure, when you’re buying shoes, you can narrow down the search by color, size, price… big woo…
With MAN shopping, you can narrow your search by height, weight, income, body-type, personality-type, religious preferences, number of kids, marital history, age, sexual preferences, location, political stance, ability to answer logic problems (not kidding!), education, income, and a hundred other factors.

PLUS you get to read essays they’ve written (which lets you know if they can write well, if they have a sense of humor, and if they’ve come to terms with the fact that “alot” is not a word.)

You also get to see how they’ve answered a bevy of questions ranging from their thoughts on dating/marriage, to how they’ll raise kids, to where they’d like to vacation, to whether you should buy real or fake Christmas trees…you know – the stuff that MATTERS.

But, it’s really so much more.  Online dating is the only shopping experience where you get these added benefits:

 

Unlimited Test Driving.

Sure, car dealers will let you take a car for a spin… MAYBE, if you’re lucky, you can keep it overnight.
But that’s it.shopping 3

Online dating lets you take the “car” out as many times as you need to, to know it’s the one.  Yeah…it may claim to have a sweet moon roof and Bose stereo system… but until you’re feeling the warm glow of moon light on your face and hearing “O Fortuna” in surround sound…who’s to say it’s not an empty promise?

Same goes for men.  Gotta see it to believe it.  He REALLY values family?  He’s REALLY romantic?  He REALLY puts the toilet seat down?  Hey – Time will tell.

And you get all the time you need.

 

Great return policy

If you find a product you like… and your shopping days are over… but then, tragedy strikes and he turns out NOT to be the one… you don’t only have 30 days…or 60… or even 90…
You can return your purchase ANY time you want, in whatever condition you want – no questions asked.shopping 2

Unless someone’s put a ring on someone, dumpers and dumpees are free to get back online to begin looking for an even better match.  Talk about customer service.

 

Constantly updated sales team & Product Turnover

Unlike Target (*kisses two fingers and holds ‘em up in the air out of respect for the mother ship*), you’re not going to see last summer’s flip-flops being pawned off as the next trend.  Sure…they may still be somewhere in the Fall line… but new merchandise is constantly being added.  Every time I’m on an online dating site, there are new faces/matches to review.  And the stores (sites) themselves are ever evolving for their customer needs.

 

shopping 5I could go on… but, as Dec. 25th creeps closer and closer, you need all the time you can get to do your regular, old-fashioned shopping.

So, shop with abandon.
But remember, if it’s a relationship you’re in the market for, your odds are much better than finding those “black suede boots.”

So – happy holidays and happy shopping!

Making a Donkey out of U-M-E

The other night I was playing the radio game with some friends.  (If you’ve never played the radio game, you should remedy that posthaste.  It’s great car-trip fun.)
Anyway – on one song, my friend named the artist before I did, and in his excitement, put up his hand for a high-five (for his amazing musical catch).
Without even thinking about it, I slapped his hand in reciprocal excitement…only to then think, “wait…why am I celebrating his win?  He’s my opponentHe’s the enemy!”
So, why did I high-five him?

assume 7
Simply because he put his hand up!

And it’s human nature to respond.
I’m basically just a sheep, blindly following non-verbal commands…even if it means praising my adversary.

And while that’s fine for me and a buddy playing the radio game, its more insidious counterpart in the dating world…isn’t so fine.
But it happens ALL the time.

 

assume 3

Men and women both do this – me make assumptive gestures – in words and actions – and on a date, it’s hard not to return the metaphorical hi-five.

Picture this… you’re 5 minutes into a date and the girl makes a comment about how you’re going to just LOVE her parents….
Um…what?

Or, before you’ve even finished your first drink, the guy is planning your next date.
Come again?

 

This is an issue I keep encountering in my own dating life… men who assume.  (And we all know what happens when you assume…)

Everyone jokes that women all do this – practically plan out your wedding before you’ve closed out date one.  But, I’ve experienced it recently, comin’ from the menfolk too.  It’s not just us girls.

These are the guys who, by their references and actions, presume all manner of things…about a level of mutual attraction that isn’t necessarily there.

There are two main forms this unrequited “we have a real future together” attitude comes in:  verbal and physical.

Verbal

This includes, but is not limited to…

making plans to do things or visit places together, inlcuding international travel
     “Oh, you haven’t seen the new Mummy exhibit at the Science museum?  We’ll HAVE to go…”
     “Well – you’re going to LOVE the margaritas in Cabo… you’ll see…”

speaking about meeting family and attending family functions
     “That’s totally something my mom would say!  She’s gonna love you.”
     “You haven’t experienced St. Patrick’s Day ’til you’ve spent it with my crazy family.  You’ll see.”

talking about what kind of house you want to live in, how many kids you could have together (or how to blend your existing kiddos), who would move to the others’ place, etc.

assume 6I was on a date recently with a sweet guy.  We were hardly 15 minutes into our date… as in – the food hadn’t even been ordered yet – and he was pulling up photos of RV’s we could use for future camping trips.
(Now, a caveat – most men, when they hear that I don’t like to camp, always want to win me over… so, this isn’t THAT strange, but when he continued on later in the evening, showing me more spacious and convenient road-living options… it was too much.
Really – ANY talk of RV’s is too much.)

 

 

Physical

These are tricky in first-date land.  Because everyone comes in with a different set of rules and limits on what they will/won’t do on a first date.  Will you hold hands?  Snuggle?  Hug?  Kiss?
These are already sticky wickets for 2 people who LIKE each other…but what about a date you’re just ‘enduring?’assume 4

Assumptive posturing in the physical arena may look like:

Putting your arm around my shoulder

– Opening up your hand to you, as if to say, “hold this”

– Leaning in eagerly, and oh-so-expectantly for a kiss.

These (and more) are all things that it’s hard to NOT reciprocate, without feeling like a 1st-class jerkface.

Say you’re watching a show/concert/movie and a guy puts his hand, open/face-up on your knee… …what would you do OTHER than hold it?  Give him an akward low-five?
Put a Werther’s in it and give him a friend-zone-worthy smile?
Cross your legs at that exact moment, as if you didn’t even notice his hand there, and watch his arm fall off with a thud?
Shoot him that “not gonna happen, buddy” stare?  (Seems harsh!?)

assume 5This happened to me recently on a date… I wasn’t feeling the spark at all… but the guy sweetly put his hand out… and what did I do?  I took it!  And we held hands for easily 10 min!  And all the while I was conflicted about the mixed messages I was probably sending.  Argh…

Same for the arm around the shoulder!?  Wriggling out of that isn’t exactly a subtle communication.  Sigh…

Now… the more egregious faux-pas are easy to sidestep.
If I’m dancing with a guy and he presumes to grab my hiney, I’ll take his hand RIGHT off.  That’s culturally acceptable… and often expected.

But, refusing to hold a hand…just seems mean!?
And yet…I really don’t want to hold the hand of someone I’m not feelin’ chemistry with.  Am I locked in, simply by rules of courtesy?

What’s a girl (or guy!) to do?

I need some super suave, stealthy tricks to evade these unwanted gestures.
Not unlike the “hug & roll.”
Open to suggestions here, friends.

assume 2

The moral of the story is this…

When you’re on a first date –
READ THE ROOM!!
Use the clues your date is giving you to know if you can pull off the hand-holding or even a little goodnight snogging.  Watch for things like eye contact, light touching, sitting close, etc. to know.

If she’s making frequent trips to the bathroom…with her phone, or looking off into space, or checking the time, or scooting away… it’s not the time for a smooch OR showing her the latest motorhome models.
It sleeps 6!  That means we CAN have those 4 kids!”
smh…