Can I Help You?

About a month ago I traveled north and east about four and a half hours and ended up in Detroit. To be fair, this was intentional—I was there for a wedding—but, yeesh, that town is grim. Not like Sarasota, Florida grim where you walk around the promenade and realize it is possible for an entire town to be built around the concept of tropical prints, elastic waistbands, and comfortable shoes. Detroit is like your favorite restaurant closing because no one but yourself ever appreciated it. When you walk around the city (And I was in fact downtown. When I told people I had recently been in Detroit, I think they assumed I was staying at Tim Taylor’s.), you look up and see all of this beautiful architecture. Buildings with ornate molding, beautiful brick work, grand entrances, so much of it now decrepit or abandoned altogether. I like to imagine that in Detroit’s heyday, there was a parade everyday at noon and all the women and babies came outside and Henry Ford marched with a giant baton while little newspaper boys threw money and candy into the crowds. And all the men drove around in their American made cars and high-fived each other, shouting, “WE GOT THIS!” But now when you walk along Detroit’s city sidewalks, you’re practically alone save for one or two city dwellers who apparently didn’t get the memo that the Red Wings had an away game.

I wish for that city that someone would come in and really turn things around; someone to take a risk, open an Apple store or something. Move Apple’s headquarters there! Heck, I don’t know! I didn’t go to business school! I’m just throwing out ideas, hoping something will stick because Detroit is one of America’s great cities and we should all be conscious of it’s need for recovery.

Enough about Detroit. This is supposed to be about the dress I wore to the wedding in Detroit. I like to write in ascending order of priorities. I don’t do many fancy things in my life. If I am ever standing in front of a step and repeat it’s probably because I am a 40 year old intern at a PR firm and it’s my job to vacuum the carpet before the important people arrive. One could argue that a wedding is not a fancy special thing for the regular attendee but I counter with free drinks, dancing, lots of toasts, and your date has to be in a suit. When young people complain about going to weddings I give them a similar list. Weddings are fantastic parties and we should all just be grateful we have one less Saturday night where we ask our friends, “So, uh, wanna go to that bar?” and everyone collectively shrugs. The only time I am ever mildly uncomfortable at weddings is when the ceremony takes place in a Catholic Church and it’s time to take communion and I sit politely in my seat while everyone else gets in line and I imagine they’re all looking at me thinking, “Ugh, just participate.”

Since this Detroit wedding was my first of 2013, I convinced myself that it was appropriate, nay, mandatory, that I buy something new. I still had some money stowed in savings from my weekend babysitting extravaganza and there are many weddings yet to come for which this purchase could be reworn. We were leaving Friday morning, so I decided the best time to go shopping was the day before when I also had a million and one things to do like pack and babysit that evening for five hours. I had a scheduled workout at 9 am that morning which brought me downtown, so I had the good sense to pack a regular bra in my purse so I could change at the gym and not a) have to make a trip all the way back to my apartment or b) try on cocktail wear in sports bras. There is an ‘s’ at the end of that word because I wear two and not everything about life is easy. It was a cold and drizzly day that Thursday and, despite the costume change, I was basically still smelly and disgusting. I took the train a few stops north and then walked to the Anthropologie on Chicago Avenue. If you have not been to this Anthropologie and you are a fan of that store, put that on your summer bucket list because it is beautiful and big, and most importantly, it has Megan.

I am a terrible shopper. I love owning new things, I hate looking for them. Have I ever mentioned the time I bought my prom dress the day before prom? The stress of that event nearly killed my mom and I was all “whatever” about it. I walked into Anthropologie that morning, most of me damp from the drizzle, my jeans were sticking to my skin in the bad way and I was wearing this awful raincoat that made me feel like the What Not To Wear cameras were secretly following me and Stacy and Clinton were downstairs making fun of me in the dressing room. I had already been on the store’s website and knew exactly what it was I was looking for—this full skirt with thick black and white stripes and a visible gold zipper in the back that would make me look like a fun, classy young person. I walked through the entire store, and not only did I not find the skirt, but I only found one dress that I tolerated enough to try. I grabbed a pair of shorts so as not to feel like I had completely wasted my time, and went to the dressing room.

In general, I loathe being assisted at stores. Sometimes, if I can tell that, walking into a store, I would be the only patron, I avoid it altogether out of fear that I’ll receive too much attention from the sales people. Even when I am looking for something extremely specific and someone asks if they can help me, I tell them “No, I’m just browsing,” and then curse under my breath at the store for not having exactly what I need. When I walked back to the dressing room on this Thursday, I was particularly not in the mood for assistance or friendliness. I didn’t have the time and the store had already sorely disappointed me. As Megan grabbed the two items out of my hand, she chirped “Oh, this dress just came in! I can’t wait to see it on someone!” Ugh, I have to show you? As she hung up the dress she asked, “Do you want a shirt to try on with those shorts?” Oh, um, yeah? Harmless, I thought. “How about a pair of shoes for the dress. Just to see?” I drew the line there. No shoes. I was on a schedule. She left and I tried on the dress, which ended up looking like if your mom made you a mod dress out of a black and white checkered table cloth and based the measurements off of what she thinks you’ll look like when you’re five months pregnant. Megan reappeared with a shirt which I instantly thought would look hideous on me but I appreciated the fact that she had just bought the same shirt for these shorts and she thought the combination would look just as great on me. That was sweet. We both agreed that the dress was not working. I smiled through my teeth and allowed her to give a thoughtful response, secretly wishing she would just go away so I could cry hot tears of anger that the dress gods were fighting me so fiercely that day.

When she asked if I was shopping for anything in particular I admitted that I was looking for a dress for a wedding and before I knew it she was off again. I sat in the dressing room, tempted to poke my head out and let any other employee know that I needed to get going, and please let Megan know she can call off the search. But there she was again, this time with maybe seven dresses I had seen during my own lap around the story and had aggressively nixed. Over the next 20 minutes, as I tried on dress after unflattering dress, Megan kept reappearing at my door, one time with jeans, another time with six shirts she was just dying over, another time with a jacket that was so gorgeous and flattering and had been selling like crazy, and look this last one we have is in your size! It was turning into my very own Julia Roberts Pretty Woman moment, if Julia never met Richard Gere and only had her street money to buy things and the store ladies welcomed her anyway. I tried on the jeans (did not need jeans) and walked out onto the floor and Megan and I just gushed over how great they fit and, God bless her, she even asked if I needed a smaller size.

Toward the end of the affair, after I decided that the jeans and that super flattering jacket, which was in fact super flattering, were must buys, Megan was at the door with three more dresses. Not only did they appear super boring, I was also so over the idea of Anthropologie solving my dress crisis that day. I was onto separates! But she had been so nice and helpful that I decided to indulge her. I tried one on. No. Looked at another, felt rather “meh” about it, but gave it a go anyway. And wouldn’t you know, it did something for me. I walked out of the dressing room and looked at Megan and said, “I actually think I like this one. But…it’s missing something…”

“A BELT!”

And off she ran to gather every belt in that store that might vaguely match this dress, calling a woman upstairs on her walkie talkie to bring down some jewelry options, walking back to me and smiling, “Now do you want to try some shoes on?” Yes, Megan! Yes! Bring me the shoes! Soon, I had the attention of multiple employees and a handful of customers in the dressing room. Everyone was weighing in and everyone agreed it was just the perfect thing.

That girl killed it. I walked out of that store over an hour after I entered with a pair of jeans, a jacket, a dress, a necklace, and a belt. If any other person had assisted me that day I guarantee they would have let me leave empty handed and miserable over the thought of having to repeat that entire miserable shopping experience at Nordstrom. The woman at the register was the same woman who had brought down the necklaces so she simply confirmed, “Megan was helping you today?” Yes. She. Did.

I hope retail stores recognize and appreciate when they have someone like that on their hands. For Megan, I hope she has a Jenna Lyons/J. Crew like career journey with Anthropologie. If she wants it. Maybe she’s in med school and she’s just an awesome person who’s like, “While I’m here, I might as well change everyone’s life who encounters me.” I’m tempted to go back in a week and be like, “Megan! I’m going to New York Memorial Day weekend! What should I wear?!??” But I genuinely fear for my bank account, so I may just have to suffer through the insufferable H&M or something. Either way, I am grateful for a new outlook on customer assistance and hope to bring the Megan out in many sales girls to come. I could always use the help.

Oh, also, because I am absolutely the type of person who would obsess over an outfit and not take a single picture of it, here is the ensemble off the Anthropologie website. It’s not meant to be the most glamorous thing you’ve ever seen, but it is a beautiful solution to a problem that at the time felt incredibly important.

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All photos courtesy of Anthropologie.com.

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April certainly flew by didn’t it?! Heh heh…oops. You guys, I swear, lately (consider lately the last five months) I have had the attention span of a gnat. Sometimes I catch myself suddenly googling “Teen Mom per episode salary” and I turn around and there are literally three pillows left to put on my bed in order to wrap up the bed making process. I will have eyeliner on one eye and think to myself “the soap dispenser in the kitchen needs a refill” and then I go do that thing. I struggle at least once a week with the temptation to take the trash out while I’m in my robe. Just wait, I tell myself. You are walking out the door in 15 minutes, go pick out an outfit and, you know, take a breath. This afternoon I opened up a “New Post” tab for the blog a little before one, and then distracted myself with a two hour conversation about crossbody bags and Broadway musicals in anticipation of a trip to NYC this Memorial Day weekend. So the fact that that small effort turned into the full post you are currently reading is a blessed miracle. I am a constant work in progress who is, I swear, trying to maintain some semblance of a plan at all times, succeeding minimally to averagely depending on what part of the plan you’re looking at.

Areas of success include not beating myself up/crying into my sleeve every time I think about how I don’t have a job, working with a budget that would make some people inquire into whether or not I am sleeping in a grocery cart in an alley (I am not), and learning how to steam asparagus using tin foil and a pot, rather than just buying asparagus and throwing it away three weeks later, because I don’t own a steamer and forgot about Google. I know it’s not brain surgery, but be patient with me. We’re all learning at our own pace. Sometimes a person comes into your life and they’re like “Just do it like this” and you’re like, “Ok, got it” and then everything after that moment is different. Let’s just stay positive and remember to pat ourselves on the back at each milestone, big or small. The day I learn how to use a curling iron I swear to God I am throwing a parade.

Areas of not so much success include, using 1-2 failed interview opportunities to deem the entire employment-seeking process a racket, combining the freedom of my weekly schedule and the three 80 degree days we had last week as an excuse to drink more on a Wednesday than I normally do on a Saturday (ow my head), and showing frustration when a woman tumbled onto my back as the train we were riding lurched forward and she was not holding onto anything. We’ve all been there and I hate when I get short-tempered with strangers who mean no harm. I mean, I didn’t yell at her, but I did give a curt, “Don’t worry about it. It’s fine. It’s ok.” I’m a monster.

Overall, days are made up of super fun times that keep me motivated to err on the side of productive member of society. I am keeping good company, seeing good theatre, enjoying excellent television programming like New Girl and The Mindy Project and Veep (Tune in, folks. Tune IN.), exercising enough so I don’t feel like an invalid. I even had a conversation at a party over the weekend where I confirmed with a fellow guest that she works somewhere I might want to work and we should stay in touch!  (Sometimes I have to remind myself that networking does not only mean putting on a name tag and going to a job fair hosted in a hotel ballroom at 11 am on a Tuesday and nodding your head at someone’s pyramid scheme.) Maybe right now, while I’m feeling productive, I’ll come up with a more structured writing format for this blog. You know, like how people have themes on their blogs like “Wedding Wednesday” or “Monday Motivations” and they post a picture of a girl in a gym with great shoulders? Maybe I can do something like that. Maybe Mondays could be Maggie Mondays, what do you guys say to that?! Maggie! Maggie! Maggie! Ugh, she’s busy at work. She can’t hear my chants.

Briefly, while we’re on the subject of things I do to sometimes distract myself from my priorities, can I say that Downton Abbey is just not happening for me? I started the first season on April 7th and I’m only on episode three, still struggling to flush out the plot. Like I get it, rich people and the hired help, but also the Titanic? Dowries? Mom is American, kids have British accents? Not following, not intrigued enough for a marathon viewing. I guess I’ll have to keep watching in ten minute increments as I fall asleep at night until something clicks.

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Life As A Parent (As Told By A Babysitter)

Last weekend I watched four children under the age of 10 from early Friday morning until Sunday evening. All by myself. It has taken nearly a week to find the right words to articulate this experience. Not really. That was just a dramatic set-up to excuse not writing this on Monday and also, if I can portray a scenario that earns me a few “How do you do it! I couldn’t do it!” sentiments from my peers, I tend to do so. It seems to be my nature. I imagine this is a result of being an out of work former assistant with a theatre background who has been told countless times “Look how well you talk in front of an audience! People admire that! Companies need that!”, when in reality what companies need is someone who can create a budget using Excel without having to Google “how to add numbers when they’re all in a row.” So yeah, sometimes it’s nice to think that while many people are a few steps/miles ahead of me in the career race, I have the upper hand in a few small life areas. What I know is kids. And one day when we all have them I can be like, “Oh, you’ve never done this before? See, the key to getting four children out of a locker room efficiently after swimming lessons is to make the two who were not swimming that morning sit on a bench stewing in their own misery and ignore their pleas to wander around the gym alone, while turning a blind eye to the other two standing in the showers peeing on each other so you can get swimsuits dried in those weird little machines, bags packed, and out the door in no less than 2o minutes.” It’s not experience I relish, but experience I have nonetheless. And while my nearly 15 years of experience as a babysitter I imagine qualifies me for some kind of adult Girl Scout child rearing badge, I am here to tell you that, holy shit, kids are a nightmare.

At this point, I have spent more hours taking care of children than I have on all other professional ventures combined and honestly it amazes me sometimes that so many young people (myself included) look at our wonderfully simple, independent lives, where every dollar we earn can be spent on ourselves and think, “Yep, I’d like to add a bunch of kids to this situation.”

“But it’s different when they’re your own!” Blah, blah, blah. Whatever, you guys. Yes, motherhood and fatherhood and parenting in general are very special experiences and your heart walks outside your body, and you learn what it is to love something more than yourself, and if a car fell on top of your crying baby, you would suddenly develop super human strength and lift that car up to save your most precious cargo’s life and when Oprah asks how you did it you’d say, “I don’t know, I’m just a mom.” But you know what? Ten years later you are going to ask that car baby what he has for homework and he is going to say, “UGH WHY DO YOU ALWAYS HAVE TO ASK ME THAT! IT’S NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS!” and you will have to call on patience you didn’t even know you had to prevent yourself from flipping that kid the bird and leaving the house for a week. My weekend as sole caregiver to these kids, twin nine year olds, an eight year old, and a four year old to be exact, was basically a 60 hour seminar in how to talk nicely to one another. And everyone failed. Do you know what it feels like to tell a kid to stop calling his brother a jerk and then out of the corner of your eye you see him MOUTH IT? Oh my God. Never.

I’ve known this family for six years, which means I have known the four year old since conception. I distinctly remember unloading the dishwasher in the summer of 2008 and thinking it had been weeks since I put a wine glass away and then realizing, “Oh God. Another one. It’s coming.” I remember all of them at that adorable age when they still couldn’t lift the milk out of the fridge. Now I find them with ten pieces of gum in their mouth and when I make a dinner suggestion I get, “No I don’t want SOUP. I’ll make my own dinner.” (For the record, I also think soup sounds like the worst dinner suggestion I’ve ever heard, but I know how to communicate that sentiment politely.) As kids get older they start becoming more confident with what they know about the world and more confident that everything they know, you don’t. I actually really enjoy talking to kids about what they’re learning in school or having thoughtful conversations with them about stories they’ve heard in the news. At dinner on Friday night I heard a really exciting interpretation of Hurricane Katrina. On our drive home from swimming lessons on Saturday morning, it was explained to me that none of them would attend a Justin Bieber concert because “he is not a good person” and “wears his pants too low.” I love hearing how kids respond to the adult world, how pop culture influences their preferences, what commonalities may lie between us. What I am less fond of is this: “Catherine why are you going this way? Why are you turning? That’s not the way to the movie theater! You were supposed to park back there!” Oh really?! Well let me turn around, drop you back off at that parking garage that leads to Von Maur and you can go ask the lady at the Clinique counter where the 1:45 pm showing of The Croods is! I am the adult! You know nothing! Maybe this is karma for when I was 14 and told my dad he was wrong, there was a middle seatbelt in the Honda Prelude, and so can you please now drive all of my friends over to some boy’s house. You know who turned out to be wrong in that story? I shiver at the memory. Either way, there is nothing quite like being bossed around by kids whose only area of expertise that might best your own is in multiplying fractions because they learned it, like, on Thursday. In every other situation you know more and you know better, and yet, to convey this simple truth to a child is next to impossible.

Also, teeth brushing! You mean to tell me that I arrived at the second floor approximately 20 seconds after you did and you managed to get your pajamas on, brush your teeth, and climb into bed? Yeah the fuck right. Why do kids lie about brushing their teeth? In a kid’s world, teeth brushing is probably the easiest thing they are asked to do in their daily routine, maybe only second to, “Here, eat this food I cooked for you.” I know that explaining in a wary tone that if they don’t brush their teeth, their teeth will rot and they’ll spend the rest of their lives eating apple sauce with their gums is the kind of long term consequence children can’t really wrap their heads around. So when it comes time to actually doing it, all they see is this wench lady standing before them, suddenly mandating a chore. Let me go get my violin, kid. I think I left it in the laundry room where I’m washing the eight different shirts you decided to wear today.

To quickly summarize, my weekend went something like this: “Talk nicely. Can you ask nicely? Don’t talk to each other like that. Did you hear me? Can you say ‘Yes, Catherine I heard you.’ Can you say, ‘Thank you Catherine for the movie?’ Can you say, ‘Thank you Catherine for lunch?’ How about a thank you? Please put Candy Land away. You can dribble that ball in the basement or outside. Where’s your sock? Do you need help zipping your coat? Finish your milk. Why is Candy Land still out? Sit up. Because I asked you to. Have three more bites. No you cannot have candy before breakfast. Buckle your seat belt. Why is the car moving and your seat belt is not on? Put a coat on. It’s 35 degrees outside, you cannot wear flip flops. If he says no you need to stop. Be patient. Be nice. Go outside! Talk nicely! Seat belts!”

Is it sometimes fun? Of course it is. If you’re up for enjoying the company of a kid, you probably will because they love you and they are just happy to have your attention and hear that the origami frog they made at school is the coolest fucking thing you have ever seen. What I take from my experience with children is an important reminder for young women that there should be absolutely no rush to get any of these life goals checked off our to-do list quite so quickly. Marriage. Buying a house. The perfect career. Kids. At this age, we see it happening to so many around us and confuse those gains in someone else’s life as a loss in ours. For anyone to feel behind or envious of their friends who appear to be a few steps ahead is wasting energy when there is so much fun to be had with what we’re given. Do you know what I did last night? I sat around my living room with three of my favorite girlfriends, drank lots of red wine, at one point my hair got curled, and then I went to bed at 2 am and now it’s 11 am on Saturday morning and I think I’m going to nap soon. That’s my life. And it’s so perfect. Do you know what the parents of those children probably did last night? Scrubbed a macaroni and cheese pot clean, watched an hour or two of basketball and went to bed at 11 pm because it all starts again at 6 am. No, as a 26 year old, I cannot say I am envious. In a hundred years (I don’t like to pressure myself with a timeline), kids may very well be a part of the equation and I will love them more than anything on this enormous planet and it will be so great. But that’s for later. For now, I am perfectly content dating guys who aren’t looking for a commitment, working in a theater company for the love not the money, embarrassing myself at an exercise class, and learning how to make better scrambled eggs. It’s the exact kind of life experience I need right now.

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Ten Pop Culture Events That We Missed While TFA Was On Hiatus

This is not a post of the top ten moments in pop culture of the last seven months. Just a list I created in my head, while lying in bed thinking about ways I could spend my afternoon that avoided looking for a job, but didn’t make me feel like a slothy loser. Poking fun at Amanda Bynes it is! Enjoy.

1. Kim Kardashian is pregnant with Kanye West’s baby.

This I care very little about. I don’t much care for him (although the first 15 seconds of “Jesus Walks” still gets my blood pumping and inspires some embarrassing interpretations of hip-hop dancing when I am in private) and she is, well, you know, just like a thing we think about sometimes and an easy punch line for comedians who are talking about shapely bottoms/work ethic. I stand neither with the “She’s a millionaire for doing nothing! Shame!” haters or the “She’s the best example of the American Dream! Creating something out of nothing and creating an empire!” lovers. What Kim Kardashian provides for me is an excellent program to watch when I feel like napping off a hangover or painting my nails. But I will tell you this, if I announced that I was pregnant and the feedback I received was, “OH GOD THE END OF THE WORLD REALLY IS COMING!@$!!!$@!#!!%!!”, that would hurt my feelings. So I felt bad for her. Especially when Kate Middleton announced she was expecting around the same time and everyone’s reaction to that was, “You are a goddess and in an incarnation of God’s most perfect maternal creation. Tell me what you’re thinking for maternity wear. No don’t—I want to be surprised. You’re perfect.” Kim will have that baby and the  jokes will return, and maybe she will deserve them because she will dress that baby in Louis Vuitton onesies and booties adorned with Swarovski crystals that everyone else understands to be a choking hazard, but for now, let’s just be happy for her.

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2. The Beyonce documentary.

My friend Lara and I were determined to have a Beyonce documentary premiere party the night this first aired, back in February. I ended up having something mandatory that night and she found something better to do and the plan to watch it together never real came up again. So when I was asked to babysit on a Saturday night a few weeks back, I indulged in my HBO OnDemand options, and gave it a chance. First of all, the ratio of footage of random trees to footage aboard Jay-Z’s yacht was like 50:1. Terrible. Second, Beyonce has a lot of thoughts on her career and the various stressors that come with it, but the only way she knows how to express them is by taping herself on her laptop so you can only see very specific angles of her face. Lord knows she’s gorgeous and she can work any angle and if you filmed me that close right after I got out of the shower, my face would look more like something film artists use as a tool on which to build prosthetic noses, but after so many of these shots it just began to feel a little MySpace confessional.

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My ears perked up when she mentioned to her computer diary that she needed to go make love to her husband, but then it cut to her in an elevator and I was bored again. The documentary was about an hour and a half long and as much as she wanted to believe that it provided all this deep insight into her life and psyche, I feel like I learned more about the super private Adele in her ten minute 60 Minutes interview. There was a sweet moment when she and Jay-Z serenaded each other in Belize or somewhere with Coldplay’s “Yellow” and she changed the lyrics to “Jay Jay I love you so” which was adorable. And then of course this happened and I forgave her for everything:

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3. Miley Cyrus cut her hair short.

I still don’t understand why anyone has ever forgiven her for the way she talks, so this haircut did not strike me as anything I needed to be that concerned about. Here are two things I think: 1. If you can pull off short hair, then girl, do it. Every time I see a woman with short hair and she looks amazing I am jealous. I know if I cut my hair short I would look like Tina Fey in a 30 Rock flashback sequence. So good for you, Miley. Change up your look. You just made yourself ten times more interesting. But still, please do not open your mouth or share with me anything about your life. Miley Cyrus becoming ten times more interesting to me makes her about as interesting as a hair model in one of those books you thumb through while waiting at a salon. I’ve never wondered about their boyfriends. 2. I’m no psychologist (just ask my Acting degree), but we all know Miss Cyrus has a history of negative attention-seeking. As someone who sought a great deal of attention as a child (one time I wrote my sister a note telling her I was running away because she was so mean and held the note under the sink so water would drip on the ink and she would confuse it for tears), my parents handled this problem by simply ignoring me. Have we ever thought what would happen if when a celebrity does something “extreme” like cutting seven inches off their hair, we just said “Cool look, Miley.” and let that be the end of it, and then we would hear from her less?

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4. Blake Lively married Ryan Reynolds. 

No one cares about this.

5. Anne Hathaway

Yes, you are correct, I am among those who absolutely cannot stand Anne Hathaway. This isn’t blind, mob mentality loathing I am expressing. I feel like I have spent an adequate amount of time experiencing her personality these past three months, and what I have taken away is that she is one who shows no awareness or understanding for why we the public find her choices/personality so grating, and I find that infuriating. This problem is not celebrity-specific. We see it all the time. Moms who casually mention how surprised they are that their four year old has already mastered the clarinet, friends who post pictures of  delivered bouquets on Facebook with the caption “I’m a lucky girl ;)” (For once I wish someone would caption that picture “Someone’s getting a hard bang tonight” just to keep it real), brides who talk about only eating egg whites for the next ninety days. This is Anne Hathaway. The woman you don’t even know how to be happy for because she is already so goddamned pleased with herself. At some point during the Anne Hathaway hate-a-thon that was this awards season, I saw more and more articles coming out trying to explain or nail down the root cause for all this loathing. I don’t know what was so confusing about it. This is what she said when she won the Golden Globe: “Thank you for this blunt object that I will forever more use as a weapon against self-doubt.” The problem here isn’t just the totally gag-me-with-a-spoon-faux-poetics, it’s that she is soliciting our sympathy when she is at the top of her career. You cannot have the odds and be the underdog, Anne. When Michael Phelps won eight gold medals he wasn’t like, “Oh gosh, I’m just a boy with ADHD and a dream.” No. He was like, “Bring on the shoe deal that doesn’t even make sense for my career, bitch.” And then he smoked pot and we forgave him because he is arrogant, and owns it, and makes America look good in front of China. When we finally arrived at the Oscars, Anne won and she came to the stage and my worst nightmare, well, you saw. It came true.

Relax.

6. Sean The Bachelor chose Catherine to be his wife. Also, he’s a virgin?

At one point in this blog’s history, I provided a weekly recap of The Bachelor for our readers. This was super generous of me because I really do find that show incredibly painful to watch. Not in a feminist “Get a backbone, ladies!” way, but in a “Oh my good God, must it take 15 minutes to hand out three roses?” kind of way. It’s a super tedious show. So I decided to use my seven month long blog abandonment as an excuse to also not watch this season with Sean. I did catch a few snippets here and there while my roommate watched. I know there was a great deal of fuss over “Tiara” and her “eyebrow.” I also noticed ABC finally entertained the idea of having some women of color contend for the bachelor’s heart for longer than the first episode. That felt pretty progressive. And then I heard that Sean is a virgin. Let me clarify: a man who spent many years having sex but decided he wants to be a virgin again. So he just is? Sure. In the end he chose Catherine for his wife, who, in the little time I spent with her, seemed like someone you discover gets more and more annoying the more you get to know her. I do like hearing my own name on television, though. I don’t know why. It’s like finding your name on a mini license plate in a Florida gift shop. It’s just nice to be acknowledged.

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Also, Sean is my brother’s name. So hearing the names Catherine and Sean paired together as a couple is not like, something I feel great about. Do you think they call each other Tawn Tawn and Caffer or is that just my mom?

7.  Amanda Bynes lost. her. shit.

Ahh! Face pierce! What happened, Amanda? You look like a contender on The Pussycat Dolls Present: The Search For The Next Doll who gets kicked off after episode three for hair pulling. Get it together. You were so great in She’s The Man. Seriously I LOL’d like six times. You can do this.

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8. Kristen Stewart cheated on Rob Something with that director who had a smokin hot wife.

I swear on my mother I am not trying to be funny or above the fray here. I am honestly sitting up in bed racking my brain to remember Rob’s last name but the only names coming to mind are “Reiner” and “Kardashian.” and “Stewart.” Can’t be Stewart. Thinking of Rod Stewart. Did they have one of those morph names Hollywood press use to save themselves a syllable? Was it Robstew? That’s not helping. Anyway, I’ll check the Internets in a moment to confirm. (Ed. Note: I started this post on Thursday afternoon. It is now Friday afternoon. Still can’t think of it.) What I found most fascinating was that this young actress who is normally so pouty and “get out of my life!” about her career in the spotlight, made such a fast and public apology. Were the pictures even that damning? I remember lots of hugging on balconies. Maybe a kiss? I’m around actors a lot and they love to touch each other. It’s there way of showing how liberal and loving they are as a community by greeting each other with a kiss right on the mouth while standing beside their respective spouses. Free love. I mean obviously Kristen and director left the balcony shortly after  the weirdo photographer hiding in the bushes got his shot and proceeded to have lots of sex. I’m not a naive child. I’m just saying maybe let your PR people do a little spin for you and see what you can get away with. The best thing I got out of this event was an introduction to Liberty Ross (the previously mentioned smokin hot wife of the director) who is awesome and does edgy editorials with Kate Moss. She is the only one I wanted to know anything about during this entire escapade.

Work.

Work.

9. Amy Poehler and Will Arnett announced their divorce.

While preparing this post, I g-chated the already mentioned Lara and asked her to freshen my memory on a major celebrity divorce that occurred in the last seven months and she said “Probably still Kim Kardashian” which happened in 2011. So I searched the Internet for celebrity divorces of 2012 and scrolled through the slideshow Us Weekly had created on the subject (the poor intern who’s job that was–don’t forget Chris Harrison or Richie Sambora and Denise Richards! Again!). And then I fell upon Amy Poehler and Will Arnett’s photograph and I remembered and re-saddened. I choose not to be shocked by most things related to celebrity relationships, but I had just recently read Mindy Kaling’s book Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? And Other Concerns, and in her chapter on marriage she shares a story about being at a party with Will and Amy and how they just seemed to be on the same team. Teammates. So I was rooting for them. Because when two smart, funny people get together, I want that to be enough to keep them together. When it’s not, reality sets in, and we realize that marriage is infinitely complicated and none of this is any of our business and I still love them both.

10. I watched the entire series Rescue Me in approximately two months.

This is not a pop culture event, but more a recommendation for the next series you tackle on Netflix Watch Instantly. I spent a lot of time alone in my old office in the last few months I was there and also just dedicated a great deal of evening and weekend time to this show. There was one Saturday where I genuinely had a full day of social activities—lunch with a friend, a trip to the grocery store, tidied up the apartment, etc.—and still managed to watch eight episodes. It is such a well-written, well-acted show that is hilarious and heartbreaking and ladies, if ever you are looking for some level of insight into the male experience, particularly regarding sex and relationships, Rescue Me would be the show for you. If you are wondering what kind of insight a terribly written, terribly acted show provides, you can borrow the first four seasons of Entourage from me and then never return them.

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That’s all for now! Please share with me anything I missed, if you are so inclined. Enjoy your weekends. Be safe out there celebrating St. Patrick’s Day! I’ll share with you my adventures next week if I can even remember them. That’s hilarious. I’m too old to still enjoy this.

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Catherine vs. The Internet: An Education

Last night my girlfriends and I went out to celebrate one of us completing the Bar Exam this week. It was not me. No, my week was dedicated to the relaunch of Thanks For Asking (yay!) and cursing the names of every Chicago homeowner who did not shovel their sidewalk. It was exactly the kind of food/drink fest someone needs after dedicating the better portion of the new year to studying law so complex and boring, it’s a miracle we humans even have the brain capacity to ingest this material for longer than thirty seconds. As her roommate, she would occasionally share a practice question with me and as she read it I would just lower my head and shake it in sympathy. The last time I took a legitimate test was probably high school considering my college education was basically a four year long venture into how I was feeling about my feelings. Even in high school the questions were like, “Does this flask help you make carbon?” And you just said yes or no. I don’t know. I don’t remember Chemistry that well. So out of the great respect I have for her and what she just went through, I drank my face off by her side. The night ended at a lovely local tourist trap, filled with men dressed like my father and women dancing like Oprah had just promised them a trip to the Four Seasons for a high class bikini wax. They were so happy. The Redhead Piano Bar is a great place to learn where I will be in my life in thirty years because I absolutely know it will be in that bar drinking vodka sodas until I forget about my wretched children who won’t even look up from the television when I come home from work. Other than that small insight, the place was gross and carpeted and I saw at least one man slip his ringed finger into his pocket while talking to my friend.

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I did find myself longing to be in the position of the lounge singer, belting out classics from “Come To My Window” to “I Will Survive.” (Those are actually the only two songs I remember her singing.) For someone who spent the better half of the summer of 2001 singing along–loudly–to the Moulin Rouge! soundtrack and generally loses too many hours in the day pretending to be the featured artist at a major concert venue, I just think I could be really happy up there at the piano, taking requests, winking at all the men in light denim.

Before arriving at The Redhead Piano Bar, we enjoyed a nice dinner at Quartino, the perfect place for women to unleash their enormous appetites that are otherwise suppressed when googling recipes for brussels sprouts salads. We divided the bill by six and when the waiter came back with a hundred receipts for each of us, I explained to the table that everyone’s total should be $35 in order for our server to receive the proper tip. This confused some of us (one of us) which led to this receipt disaster:

Lara Receipt

At the time I thought this was the funniest thing I had ever seen (it’s not, really) and deemed it worthy of a pic uploaded onto Instagram. Which brings me to my point. 555 words later. I have recently added Instagram to my list of things that I would like to become better at. Also on that list is not ending sentences with prepositions. My reasons are two fold. 1. I am supremely jealous of people who photo-document their life because it naturally makes them look like they are having more fun than me and that gives me low self-esteem. 2. Instagram, like Twitter, is one of those of-the-moment phenomena that I’m sure if I were some kind of pop culture professor extraordinaire, I could better articulate its significance to our culture/generation. All I know is that I want in. I can’t have my grandchildren come to me in a hundred years, inquiring into the trends of early 21st century America, and reply, “I don’t know, guys. I never really figured that one out myself.”

The major problem here is that I have absolutely no idea how to use it. It wasn’t until a trip to San Francisco when I was looking over my sister’s shoulder, breathing on her neck, and saw that she was actually scrolling through her Instagram app that I even realized there was something to look at on there. I honestly thought it was just a place to take a photo and make it look like it was taken in the 1970s and you just smiled at it, content that it looked a little bit different than you’re regular boring photographs. I didn’t know you shared photos, and liked other people’s photos, and scrolled through this newsfeed of photographs after you were sufficiently bored with the nothing Facebook has to offer. I was so intrigued! When I got back to Chicago, I spent ten minutes trying to remember my username before successfully logging in and then froze in horror at what I had unknowingly shared so far. Among the photos in this limited/pathetic collection was a picture of my friend Daniel in the dark looking high on meth with the caption “Danny” and a picture of a polar bear with the caption “Polar bear!” There was one picture of my feet on my old work desk that I think I originally wanted to accompany with some sarcastic caption about not being at the beach on that summer day? My brow is furrowed in embarrassment as I type this. I deleted the foot picture because I just can’t have that be my legacy. The largest problem is that my pictures are so few and far between it’s the equivalent of your dad being on Facebook and the only update you have ever see on his profile is”Dad has joined Facebook.”

So I am a work in progress. I am taking note from my sister who among her top skills is an excellent photo-documenter. Much like the time she came over and taught me how to use Pinterest and I yelled at her until I found a recipe for something called Twix brownies, she is showing me by example how I can become a better Instagramer. I need to talk to her about hashtags because I don’t really get those either and hers are funny like “#slurpslurpslurp” under a picture of her boyfriend slurping noodles at a restaurant called Slurpies. But other people take pictures of stop signs and have hashtags like “#red #octagon #sign” so I’m not sure how literal or funny I’m supposed to be.

Feel free to look at my atrocious collection of 11 photographs, username catherineja. If you feel encouraged by this post’s promise of a greater presence with this app? site? tool? what do we call it? feel free to follow me as well. This morning I almost took a picture of my breakfast but I get the sense that the food shots are supposed to be more exciting than a bowl of Cheerios with bananas on top.

2013. It’s gonna be somethin’. And I’ll have the pictures to prove it.

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It’s Never Too Late For Now

Surprise! Are you shocked? It has been exactly 224 days since Maggie or I published a post on this site. And that piece happened to be about the hard times befalling me during a trip to Pinkberry as well as, if memory serves, rather obvious commentary on a couple of innocents just trying to stage some nice moments on their wedding day to share with the good women of Pinterest. What a way to go.

So I’m back. (Maggie doesn’t know this yet. Well, now she does. Hi Maggie!) Because I couldn’t bare the thought of someone trolling the Internets and falling upon the once great Thanks For Asking, looking at that picture of me in glasses the size of my forehead and thinking, “You look like someone who can’t finish what she started.” I’m too protective of that poor girl who, at age nine, thought picking out tan frames was the best way to manage the introduction of an eye crutch to her face. Tan, you guys. They were tan. I think the brand was even called “Tans.”

Anyway. I like writing. And I missed it. And I have so many thoughts on Jennifer Aniston’s career and hair and how hard it is to not eat raw cookie dough just every once and awhile and Homeland and does it count as running if sometimes you catch yourself in a storefront window and it looks more like walking and being a little mad at my dad for getting me a subscription to The New Yorker for Christmas when he knows how much I like TV, and I just needed a place to share all of it and no one follows me on Twitter. Don’t feel bad about that last part. I barely know how to use Twitter. I once tried to tweet at Mindy Kaling and it just reposted what she wrote and I got super embarrassed and texted my sister.

I’ve been meaning to do this since November when I was politely asked to stop coming into the office where I was working because said office would no longer exist by the end of the year. 2012 was not my best. I mean, I still enjoyed Olympic gymnast Aly Raisman’s parents as much as you guys did but, yeah, overall 2012 was a stink bomb. So it made sense to get back into something I had developed a true passion for, what with all this time on my hands. But as it turns out, I am much better at spending hours on YouTube watching old performances from So You Think You Can Dance? and my favorite Oscar acceptance speeches from years past than I thought. I literally went on the Internet yesterday to find Tom Hanks’s acceptance speech when he won for Philadelphia because it is my favorite of all time and I wanted to share it on Facebook and 45 minutes later I was watching an old Portia de Rossi interview on Ellen. I am amazing.

Normally, I’m the type of person who loves clear marks of a fresh start: Monday mornings are a great time to reevaluate your calorie consumption, the day after paying your credit card bill is a great time to restructure your budget, and Memorial Day weekend is a great time to get new flip flops for summer and throw the ones you’ve owned since sophomore year of college into the garbage. (That last one there is more of a future reminder than a lesson learned.) So I am thrilled when the new year comes around and it’s time to make a resolution for the entire year. I hate people who say they don’t make resolutions because they never keep them. They’re the same kind of people who say they hate their birthday. (What?! A day just for you to get showered in attention and have all your friends buy your drinks? You hate that? Leave the country.) Who cares if you don’t keep your resolution! Just play the game. I had like a hundred. Find a job, buy new gym shoes, stop watching Dance Moms, don’t get so angry about Taylor Swift because, you know, karma, start writing again, the list goes on and on. And I didn’t do a one! Not a one! But I put some semblance of a plan together at the start of the year and here I am, February 25th, lying in bed at 11:45 am getting that ball rolling. One of my other resolutions was to not lie in bed all morning even if in that bed I was technically working because my friend once went to a sleep seminar and they told her beds are only for sex and sleeping and I think that’s a good lesson for us slovenly folks who have found more Cheerios in their sheets than you would in the backseat of a minivan.

So I’m trying! And I’m excited! And I hope you are too.

I’m going to allow for some restructuring here at TFA (for the record, I hate this blog’s initials. Whenever I say it or type it I immediately feel like I’m standing at an airline counter) in order to encourage/mandate success this time around. When Maggie and I first started this in January 2012, the concept was a snark fest pop culture round-up, because we are so snarky and like to put people in their place when they say things like, “Aaron Sorkin man, he just gets it.” But nowadays I feel like I have so much more to share, like how I am managing my irrational fear of getting pushed onto the train tracks by someone suffering a severe mental illness every time I wait on a platform. I try to be cool about it but I’m sure someone has noticed me look at them with the fear of God in my eyes if they ever accidentally get within one foot of my personal space. So stuff like that mixed with expressions of unhinged anger about the guy from Homeland beating out Bryan Cranston for Best Actor in a Television Series at any award show ever because, seriously you guys, he is terrible. Every time he talks with his mouth I wonder if he had jaw reconstructive surgery at the age of seven and his parents could not afford to pay for the necessary post-op rehabilitation services where you relearn to open your mouth wider than one inch when speaking. What else can explain this!

So you get the gist. I also feel like this is the first step to getting all those other resolutions rolling. Finding a job is probably priority one, so if you hear of a company looking for a 26 year old woman with a degree in Acting who saw seven of the nine movies nominated for Best Picture this year and knows how to use iMovie, please let me know.

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Weekend Preview: I Spent Too Much On Frozen Yogurt Last Night

I was checking my credit card statement this morning in preparation for paying it, and realized that the SMALL original flavor frozen yogurt with toppings I purchased at Pinkberry last night cost $5.47. Granted, I should have realized this last night, but I didn’t, and so I say…really? Am I crazy to be stunned by this? Am I acting like the college kid who goes out in the city for the first time and exclaims, “Five dollars for a bottle of beer!” and you wanna be all like “Dude, this is the real world where a round of shots doesn’t cost $3 and come in a giant cup for you to then pour into dixie cups like mouthwash. We use glassware, for God’s sake.” I don’t know, I hate to be that kid–that kid is the worst–but considering how petite and un-filling a small frozen yogurt from Pinkberry is, I’d say $5.47 is a scam. It’s not like when you go to the Cheesecake Factory and you look at the menu and exclaim, “For this price I should be getting two salads!” And then it comes and you realize, “Oh, this is actually the size of like five salads.” This is actually a tiny portion with meager rations allotted for toppings. Do you know how many Chicken McNuggets I could get for $5.47? Like a hundred! (Someone check the math on that.) I could buy two boxes of cereal and 12 bananas from Trader Joe’s for $5.47. Even if I refocus my argument and apply my price expectations solely to the frozen yogurt industry, I am telling you, I could go to one of those self-serve frozen yogurt places, get flavors like red velvet cake topped with captain crunch and frosted animal cookies and spend less. I may be sick to my stomach the rest of the day, but at least I’m sated. [For the record, I would never create such a horrendous combination of flavors and toppings as the one described above, but I am hoping to drive home the point that I appreciate eating so much frozen yogurt it makes me a little bit sick for less than five dollars.] Anyway, I’ll probably go there tomorrow because I’ll be bored and walking down the sidewalk with Pinkberry in your hand makes you look cute and fun. At least that’s what Lauren Conrad taught me.

We are mere hours away from the official start to the weekend and I for one am really looking forward to the break. I’m not sure why exactly seeing as how I lined up an eleven hour babysitting gig for myself on Saturday starting at 3:00 pm that will probably not serve as the best cure for the occasional bouts of anxiety I experienced this week. But it should bring in enough profit for me to finally buy myself a crossbody bag that I love, won’t fall apart in two weeks, and isn’t the size of a hamster cage like the one I currently use for work. This has been at the top of my “Treat Yo Self” shopping list for over a year now because I am all about hands-free fun when it comes to going out at night and when I use the bag I mentioned above I get comments from men like, “AHHH that’s the biggest bag I’ve ever seen!” like I’m wearing a tumor. I know this is not the kind of purchase you should struggle with for over a year but in the past I have either not found exactly what I’m looking for or not had enough money when the perfect bag came along. So come Sunday, cross your fingers that the stars align and I find exactly what I’m looking for and can pay for it with the cash I earned from five hours of  two vs. one football, where my team (me) always manages to lose. It’s all I have to look forward to!

On a final note, I was scrolling through Pinterest the other day and was struck by the picture below that had the following caption: “I LOVE THIS IDEA….Exchanging love letters the morning of your wedding, before walking down the aisle. I love the looks on their faces :).”

Yes, I too love the looks on their faces. She looks like she’s about to marry the man of her dreams and he looks like he’s reviewing the bill from the mechanic. It’s so sweet. Smiley face.

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Men Go To Jupiter To Get More Stupider

I am in the habit of going home to my parents’ house and babysitting for families with top notch amenities often enough that I have been able to keep up with the new Aaron Sorkin drama The Newsroom despite not actually having HBO in my own adult home. (I mean, if you want to call it an adult home. All I have to eat right now are Cheerios, dried cranberries, and salami.) My first attempt at watching the pilot occurred the Saturday after it first aired, around midnight as I was waiting for my friend to get done with work. I fell asleep right around the thirty minute mark, but had experienced enough to know that something was slightly off here. My initial complaint with the show is that everyone in it, save for Jeff Daniels and Sam Watterson, seemed dumb and bad at their jobs. Not that I’ve never tripped over a chair in my day, but that Maggie character is such a ball of nerves I find it hard to believe she, as she is portrayed, would be able to compose herself long enough to make a favorable impression during an interview at a major cable news network. But as I continued to watch, and consulted with my sister Maggie who also trips over chairs sometimes but generally presents herself as a young adult ready to conquer her dreams, I realized that the real issue isn’t all the characters, it’s the female characters. Even the award winning Executive Producer back from Afghanistan, Aaron Sorkin portrays as a complete ninny. Emily Mortimer’s Mackenzie freaking out in front of her entire staff because she doesn’t know how to use email and accidentally sent a private message to everyone in the office? And she’s the boss? I am more successful at keeping it together in my most private moments and I’m twenty-six! The latest episode “I’ll Try To Fix You” felt like it had been written for the sole purpose of providing reading material for a university course studying Sorkinian gender bias; along the pop culture education lines of the Georgetown course “Sociology of Hip-Hop: Jay-Z” except less awesome.

So I was happy to find this article on nymag.com today, that not only agreed with the point I was trying to make inside my head, but managed to do so in a much more intelligent and articulate manner. In the article, writer Margaret Lyons notes:

Will’s boss and mentor Charlie scolds him in “Fix” for dating women “he’d never want to spend daylight hours with.” Because it’s degrading? Disrespectful? Objectifying? Because it’s patronizing? Cruel? Selfish? No, no: Because Will deserves better. Will can be petty, nasty, and immature, but the show insists that he’s still worthy of an enormous amount of respect. But that inherent dignity doesn’t extend to any of the female characters.

Yes, exactly. Thank you, Margaret. But while I was sitting high on my high horse, thinking it might be time to start a movement, ready to scream at the first male that walked into my office, “WOMEN CAN BE GOOD AT THEIR JOBS TOO!”, I realized I was simultaneously having the following conversation on gchat:

Lara: i did not see reunion part 2 last night
Me: it was an eye opener
Lara: tell me everything
Me: like major plot points revealed about donn and vicki’s marriage.
  donn was having a 20 year affair.
Lara: is that for real
Me: yes. briana was there and confirmed.
Lara: with who??
Me: unknown!
Lara: why did they stay together??
Me: i dont know. it was hard to know if she knew about it the whole time or found out about it towards the end.
  vicki was trampled during the reunion though. she looked like a fool.
Lara: really?
  why?
Me: because her whole thing is so hypocritical and she wont just admit it. like when gretchen says, “why could you be so critical of my boyfriend and no one can be critical of yours?” vicki’s just like, stop talking about brooks!
Lara: is eddie gay? do we know that yet?
  i mean the whole thing with brooks is weird
Me: no as of right now eddie is not gay
Lara: but i dont really know why everyone is so mean ot alexis when she doesnt seem that bad? i mean shes annoying but like ignore her?
  but he seems gya
Me: i agree. i think everyone needs to get off alexis’s back. like she clearly can’t defend herself.
AND THEN LATER!
Meg: How did you feel about the gunvalsons after the reunion
Me: i feel the most bad for briana.
  but like, dont live with your crazy mom.
Meg: Right. Like get out. But tamra…..youre awful for saying that shit
Me: yeah so basically what she said was that vicki called her in mexico and was like i woke up naked next to a stranger?
Meg: Yep
Me: like tamra don’t say that. but, yes, vicki you did that
Meg: Right. And briana was like not shocked
  And i think gretchen admitted to cheating on her dead fiance
Me: hahaha no she wasn’t.
  how awkward to have your daughter nod in agreement as all your friends rip you to shreds
Meg: Well in order to prevent that just like, dont be awful and date a weirdo
Me: yes, correct.
Meg: Remember that Cathy
This may be the most revealing and embarrassing thing I have ever posted about myself. At two different points today, while at work, I had in depth conversations with two different friends about last night’s reunion episode of Real Housewives of Orange County. Do you see this America?! I AM THE PROBLEM. “like tamra don’t say that. but, yes, vicki you did that.” THAT’S BARELY ENGLISH! Oh my gosh. This is where Aaron Sorkin gets his material. From my brain and mouth.
I am pretty open about my passion for reality television. In a Pavlovian-like response, my fingers punch in the numbers for Bravo on the remote as soon as I hear the melodic tone of the television turning on. I try to justify it by peppering into conversation all the scripted television shows I enjoy for their quality writing and acting, but I can’t deny it. I love the junk. My friend Meg (cited above) and I , though miles apart, make it a point to sit down and watch the newest Housewives episode at the same time so that we can text each other our opinions throughout the hour-long broadcast. Why do I care to invest in the convoluted drama of women I do not know and will never meet? I don’t know. Maybe that’s one of those questions I’ll have to tackle in future therapy sessions, where my therapist and I will trace threads from my childhood in order to reveal the root of my obsession with watching the Kardashian sisters accost a giant inflatable giraffe.
In the meantime, I like to believe that no matter what petty or ultra-feminine interest I choose to invest in, that doesn’t actually change the fact that I am a smart, driven, dynamic woman. As my best new gal pal Margaret Lyons puts it:
The feminist utopia version of Newsroom isn’t the one where the female characters are Perfect and Powerful. It’s a version where the female characters aren’t completely othered at every moment; where their motivations make as much sense as male characters’; where they’re given the same opportunities to be perfect and imperfect, powerful and disempowered, as right, wrong, scared, and brave as their male counterparts.
In conclusion, Mr. Sorkin, I will stick with you through a second season, mainly because you write lines like, “It’s a person. A doctor pronounces her dead, not the news,” that make me want to kick the air in celebration of this great nation, but you need to get it together. No more distracting your women who are in the middle of serious conversations with mentions of nail salons, no more Maggie sweating through her sweater just for getting called on during a meeting, no more poorly crafted quips about Olivia Wilde’s hotness. We are so much more interesting than that.
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OMG Did You See What I Wrote On Facebook?

First of all, I want to say a big THANK YOU for everyone’s feedback on yesterday’s post. You are all too sweet and if anything I said resonated with you, well I am happy to share the pain/insight. Second of all, WHEW! That was a doozy. I choked back tears about a dozen times at work yesterday which is fine because no one can see me at my desk and even if the mailman had walked in at one of those inopportune moments, I could have just been like, “Dude, you get it, right?”

So seeing as how I have plenty of time on my hands this afternoon, I thought I would whip up something a little more light-hearted heading into the weekend.

I have been a Facebook user for eight years. I can’t bear to calculate all the time lost and wasted, but in those eight years, I have noticed a pattern in how people choose to express every last good, bad, and anxty moment that happens in their life. And some of those patterns irritate the hell out of me. Do you see where this is going? Yes! A list! A list of my Top 5 Least Favorite Facebook Statuses! Feel free to add yours below in the comments section. Enjoy!

5. Who’s going out tonight?

What? No one. Is that how you make plans? What if someone you really didn’t like responded, “Hey! I got nothin’ going on. Why don’t we get a slice of pizza? It would be so great to catch up!” What would you do then? I’ll tell you. You’d feel like an idiot for opening up your social calendar to your 546 friends, remembering you actually only have three friends you’re ok spending a Friday night with. And now you’re in the awkward position to either, decline the invitation by admitting you didn’t really mean to imply you were willing to go out with just anybody, or just slowly creep away from your desk, act like it never happened, and hope that the sad sack who also doesn’t have anything to do that night doesn’t follow-up with, “You there? I was thinking around 7?”

4.  Ahh Facebook I hate you! Stop changing! It was fine the way it was!

Let me tell you a story about the day I joined Facebook back in 2004.  Facebook, by the way, is like the only thing where young people have the advantage over old people to say things like, “Back in MY day there was no News Feed!” Literally, Facebook used to be a place where all you could do was put up a picture of yourself, list your favorite books and TV shows, and gloat that your friends at subpar universities weren’t allowed to use it yet.  That was it. You couldn’t post pictures, you couldn’t comment on other people’s activities, you couldn’t even POST a status to complain about how much you hated the website. The only way to communicate with your friends was by writing on their wall, which back then worked like a Word document. If someone was so inclined (as my friend Molly was), they could literally delete your entire “wall” of messages by simply clicking on it, highlighting all the text dating as far as back as the day you joined, and hitting delete on their keyboard. It was that simple. And it happened to me. Literally, I just went back to look at the first documented post on my Timeline and it was, “OoOoOooO Catherine’s wall was deleted…let’s see if she’s pathetic enough to put ‘er back up.” If Facebook never evolved, never made adjustments, it would look as pathetic as this still-active website for the movie Space Jam:

http://www2.warnerbros.com/spacejam/movie/jam.htm

So count your blessings that someone out there knows what you need from this superfluous website more than you do, and stop complaining. Or just like, stop using it. Remember, it is optional

3. Good news is coming my way!

What is it? Oh, you don’t want to share it? You just want twenty people to comment, “Tell me! Tell me!” Don’t do that. It’s annoying. If you’re pregnant, just wait until it’s like a full blown fetus and then put up an ultrasound pic. If you’re about to get a promotion at work, just be like, “Climbing that corporate ladder! Finally, I’m getting mine!” I’ll know what you mean. But these coy, winky, aren’t-you-just-dying-to-know remarks are so narcissistic it makes me barf. If you want to brag, brag. Just don’t make me work that hard to care about your life.

2. 389 days until I’m married!

When someone I’m friends with on Facebook finally gets married, I think I’m more excited than she is because it means an end to the always-painful wedding countdown. I get it. You’re happy. I’m happy too. Really! For you, I pray for good weather. I cross my fingers you take beautiful pictures (but not too many that imply you confused your wedding with a high-fashion photo shoot). And I beg the Gods that if you hire a DJ, he or she does not torture you with the Electric Slide. But before we even get to that moment, before I can even get excited in anticipation of the first mobile upload posted of you in your dress, you torture me with an endless countdown, as if I don’t know that if last Tuesday you said there were 43 days left, this Tuesday it means there are 36 days left. I can take a “Booked the room! Got the dress! Ordered the flowers!” But the incessant reminder of exactly where we are in the calendar year as though it now revolves around your wedding day is too painful. Girl, you tell me your big day is June 10th, I will remember. I swear.

1. This is the worst day of my life. Why do men have to be so awful!

Wait…why? Is that a trick question? Do you really want me to think about it and get a response back to you? Or do you want me to ask what a member of this heathen species we call man has actually done to you? I don’t get it. Men have to be awful because you are awful because you generically complain about unidentified behavior on a social networking website. Enough! You know what? Men are fine. They’re FINE. If they don’t call you back, it’s because they don’t like you and the solution to that is to find one who does. If you think they’re awful because the one you are exclusively dating is mean to you then find one who isn’t.  But this kind of generic gender slaying is so boring and has me picturing you in the fetal position on your bed, refreshing your Facebook page every 10 seconds to see if anyone has left any words of wisdom for your depressing life. And girl, that is not a good look for you. Chin up, and if you absolutely must say something about men, just make a funny joke about their penises.

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It’s For The Best We Get Our Distance

I’ve always been a late bloomer. When I was in sixth grade a kid was paid five dollars to come up to me and say, “Would a man with no feet wear shoes? Then why do you wear a bra?” I didn’t shave my legs until I was in seventh grade, and even then it was without the blessing of my mother. The first time I kissed a boy I was a month away from turning 14. I don’t know if that sounds young or old, but a whole year earlier, during recess, I had listened to my friend describe her first experience going to third base, so I was feeling way behind the times. It was the night of my 8th grade graduation and my friends and I had snuck out of the house where we were having a sleepover (sorry Mom!) and met up with a few guys from our grade who were sitting in a park drinking beer they had presumably stolen from one of their fathers. After an hour of sitting around and staring at each other, the girls and I decided it was time to head back and that was when he went in for the kill. It was about as pleasant as you can imagine kissing a 14 year old with beer breath would be. I didn’t have my first drink until I was 18 and in college, and I am still waiting for the day to come when I have my first cigarette. But none of these were more notable to me than the fact that it wasn’t until I was 24 that I had my first relationship. I had certainly experienced my fair share of dating, if we all understand dating to be the process of avoiding someone else’s advances or accepting the fact that they are avoiding yours. But it wasn’t until I was two years out of college that I met someone, fell in love, and had the blissful experience of that same person loving me back. And so, chronologically, that means it wasn’t until I was 26 that I experienced my first break up.

I’ve mentioned my boyfriend before in this blog, but have yet to make the formal announcement that after almost two years together (we were so close!), we broke up at the beginning of June. This blog has never been about our personal lives so it’s certainly not as if our audience has been tracking my relationship. I don’t feel as though I owe an explanation or verification. Frankly, I just felt like writing about it.

The problem with dating someone for the first time at 24 is that you never had the ease of dating someone without the pressure of “Are they or aren’t they the one?” When you’re 15 and you’re in love, and your boyfriend asks you to homecoming by writing out an invitation in chalk outside the front entrance to the school, you’re allowed to just sit with that and be like, “Wow, you’re pretty great. I’m going to consider having sex with you in the next 6-9 months.” But when you’re 24 and your boyfriend is patient enough to learn how to make the bed just the way you like, you’re like, “Oh fuck, I gotta hold onto this one.” The only relationships I ever experienced prior to my first were those of my friends, and while I was certainly a jealous outsider looking in, I also remember that they were 19 and the largest obstacle facing their relationship was whether or not they were willing to stay faithful while they traveled to Acapulco on spring break. I don’t mean to undermine relationships that began in high school or college, especially those that have resulted in very successful adult relationships/marriages. My point is that no one really cares whether or not you want to marry the person you’re dating when you’re a teenager. But once you’re out of college, and therefore considered an adult (despite the fact that if it were up to me, I’d still go to my pediatrician. She was so nice.), everyone suddenly becomes much more interested in “the one.” The pressure of figuring out quickly whether or not this person who you just became comfortable ordering a cheeseburger in front of could possibly be the father of your children, is insurmountable and, frankly, unfair. I felt the pressure to figure out within the first couple of weeks whether or not he would march beside his gay son at the 2035 Pride Parade. (He would. Thank God. Phewph. Total deal breaker in my book.) Trying to navigate a relationship with the understanding that at some point the two of you have to decide whether you’re going to stake a permanent claim in one another or go your separate ways is a lot of pressure for someone who doesn’t even consider herself old enough to subscribe to a newspaper yet. I never saw myself as someone who would get married in my mid-twenties, but suddenly there was this man in my life who I couldn’t imagine living without and the opportunity to resolve my entire future was at my finger tips. I’ve always prided myself on having a very honest and logical sense of the world. I believe in only spending as much as you earn. I believe in talking nicely and tipping well. I believe graffiti should be seen as vandalism and not art. I believe a couple should agree on religion and politics before getting married. I believe you should make your bed in the morning and go to bed at night without dishes in the sink. But this utopia I had created for myself, this idea of what my perfect relationship would look and feel like, blurred as I found myself so in love with what was in front of me. The instant gratification of waking up next to someone you love on a Saturday morning overpowers your check list of “100 Things We Must See Eye to Eye On Before Broaching The Subject of Marriage.” If Carrie Bradshaw was writing this she would tell you, “It wasn’t logic, it was love!” In my mind, and too often out loud, I would say if this changed or we adjusted this one small thing, then we would be perfect and everyone could live happily ever after. No matter how frustrated at him or myself I became, I always held onto the idea that I would find a way to have a successful and healthy relationship with him.

No one person has ever known me as intimately as he did, and that intimacy becomes an addiction. To know that there is a person out there who will drop everything to care for you, who thinks you are the most beautiful woman in the world for reasons beyond your physical looks, and who makes every effort to assure that, in his presence at least, you are happy and comfortable; there was a calm and a joy in my life that I had never known before, and it was something I wasn’t willing to give up easily.

In the end, though, the checklist won and we realized through many painful arguments and plateaus of progress that we could not be for each other what the other needed. When our relationship ended, it was he that pulled the plug. I didn’t tell him this at the time, but I honestly believe it was the bravest thing he ever did in the 20 months we were together. I almost envy his courage to say, “This isn’t working,” and hold to that declaration despite my protest. In my heart I knew he was right, but I honestly don’t know if I ever would have had the strength to say it myself.

We didn’t formally agree on how we would handle the end of our relationship, but as it turns out we both feel it’s better not to communicate as we use this time to heal separately. We haven’t spoken since it happened. Many people have asked me how I can stand to not talk to someone who was a part of my life for that long and in that way, and the truth of the matter is I can’t. They ask me how I’ve never texted him when I’ve been out late drinking. I’ve never done this before so I’m winging it here, but I like to think that it’s because I know that there is nothing he can do or say in response that would make me feel better, and so I choose to protect myself from that kind of lingering pain. I know he misses me. I know he loves me. For he and I to pow-wow over the loss every Saturday night at two in the morning does not grant either of us the ability to move forward and become healthier adults. That’s my take on it at least. For all I know he be like, “Bitch, I got hoes up in here! Don’t distract!” Did I mention that my boyfriend is Seth Green’s character from Can’t Hardly Wait?

I certainly can’t offer advice on how to endure a break-up. I imagine the saying “time heals all wounds” is true, but seeing as how I’m not on the other side of this thing yet, I can’t report that back as fact. All I can say, and listen up ladies because you won’t hear this anywhere else!, is that it hurts like hell. It actually feels like heartbreak; a flash of his face or the smell of his skin suddenly comes into your memory and your chest swells and you feel the need to hold onto your heart and protect it until the memory goes away. As you reenter the world as a single person, you still see a place for him in every aspect of your life, because it was only a moment ago that you intentionally reserved the room. I went to a family reunion two weeks after it happened and I kept seeing him swimming in the pool or sitting next to me at the dinner table and smiling as I spoke with my typical wine-infused bravado and heavy gesturing.

It’s distracting, it’s paralyzing, it’s reflective and bitter and sad and terrible.

But there’s nothing to learn from a break-up, because the break-up wasn’t the thing. (Unless you like, slashed your boyfriend’s tires, you should learn not to do that again.) The thing was the relationship. This, what I’m going through now, is all a gray area. It’s all incidental of a much bigger, more important time in my life. I do not define my relationship with him by how it feels to be apart from him. I look at what we had and I feel like the luckiest girl in the world. Not everyone gets to experience what it’s like to be loved by someone that much and I feel forever in his debt. For a first-timer, I couldn’t have asked for a better person to help me navigate the highs and lows of a relationship. He has set the bar, and I would be lying if I said I didn’t question whether or not that level of trust and respect could be given to a girl more than once in her life. But I know that that fear does not serve me and to get stuck in that mindset is to not acknowledge my potential. One of the best pieces of advice I received during the aftermath was from my friend Linda, who told me I had already invited this kind of love into my life once; there is no reason to believe I can’t do it again.

What I am most thankful for is that our relationship ended because we were both conscious of our needs, not because we stopped loving each other. And for that reason, I get to love him for the rest of my life. No matter who or what comes next, I will always get to think of him as the incredible, loving man that he was. That, for me, makes all the pain and frustration I feel now, a sweeter pill to swallow.

In the meantime, one suggestion I can make (should any of you ever find yourself in a similar position): find a song that you feel identifies with what you’re going through. Because sometimes you just want to sit and stew in it, and musical accompaniment makes that experience all the more theatrical. Below is mine. Enjoy.

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