All Hyped Up on Love

Though I may only be a 20-something, I’ve been through quite some pop culture and trends.

I grew up on everything from TGIF, Sister Sister, The Adventures of Mary Kate & Ashley, Full House, The Secret World of Alex Mac, Figure it Out, Clarissa Explains it All, and Rugrats to All That, Hey Arnold!, Saved by the Bell, and Boy Meets World. By some strike of fate or stupidity, my mother eventually allowed me to watch MTV and Friends (where I appropriately flooded her with questions), and some ex boyfriends introduced me to shows like Alf, long after they were off the air.

I convinced myself I could sing just like Mandy Moore – breathy and incredibly too dramatic and all. Outside, with that same recorder I used to interview people with, I’d belt out a Mariah Carey with the neighborhood kids, who at one point, all got together and formed a band, The Butterflies. I always wanted to ride places in my dad’s truck because it had one of those new CD players and if I was careful not to scratch them, I could listen to The Beatles, the Beach Boys, The Temptations, Elton John, Eric Clapton, and Jim Croce while we were driving around town. He’d always serenade me with “My Girl” and hearing it still makes me smile today, though I’m positive I prefer his voice over the original. With my belly button visible, I danced in front of the mirror to Britney Spears, I cried over a Backstreet Boys song when Mr. Curls didn’t show up to my seventh grade birthday party, and I lost my virginity to “I’ll Make Love to You” by Boys II Men.

Being an early bloomer who sprouted out of training bras and into the real ones the summer between fifth and sixth grade, I was amazed with my new curves and unsure of what to do with them. I did, however, notice the looks older boys gave me. So did my mother. I can’t count how many times she left me at home because I refused to change into something more age appropriate, and then I’d call her on her cell phone that was the size of my forearm, and beg her to come back and get me in my jeans and unflattering t-shirt. I wore the platform shoes like The Spice Girls, I braided my hair with a colored strand, I wore glitter on my eyes, and though I thought Abercrombie was cool, even at a young age, I realized how ridiculously overpriced it was. I also didn’t enjoy being choked to death by cologne ten steps before the store front.

I lived, breathed, and loved all of these hypes.

They came, they served a purpose, and they left. I was onto the next band, the next technology, the next style that would fade faster than I could begin to afford it. It took until junior year in college for me to stop caring so much about hypes or what’s hot and to focus more on what I wanted instead of what was new.

This week, to keep my spirits up and to lower my peeking stress level, I’ve been listening to 80’s music. I wasn’t alive in the early 80’s, but some of my youngest memories involve my mom dancing in hot shorts to Michael Jackson or Fine Young Cannibal’s “She Drives Me Crazy” while cleaning. Because my office is in the process of moving, we’re all packing up and my “You Make My Dreams Come True” Pandora station proved to be exactly what we needed. As the songs were playing, I’d notice how certain songs remind me of men I’ve loved or guys who have introduced me to a band I didn’t know. Some of the other women in the office would start singing and then proclaim who they were dating when that particular song came on. Somehow, the best of the 80’s translates into the best and the worse of men of the 80’s for those who lived through it – or discovered the music later on.

Listening to the stories while pouring what I owned into a large Staples cardboard box, I wondered if love is one continuous hype.

We’re sucked in early with fairytales and if we’re lucky, by watching our parents verbalize their admiration for one another. I didn’t really go through the “boys had cooties” phase, I was more concerned with my kindergarten boyfriend, but all of my friends were repulsed by the opposite sex (funny thing is, they’re all married now, and I’m happily not). Once that period comes to a close, we transition into middle school where holding hands and doodling our names with hearts and “forever-ever-and-ever-and-always” seems like the only important thing in the world. High school introduces us to sex, college we have a lot of sex, and in our 20’s we discover what great, incredible sex is, and wonder what we were thinking (or who we were doing) the years previous.

For most, it is one date after another, one relationship after another, one bed and then another, one romance and then ten more. The personalities change, along with the clothes and the mannerisms, but the men essentially are all the same, each time – we get ourselves all hyped up on love. And when it’s good, when it has promise, we’ll go as far to think we’ll never feel it again. That this feeling, whatever it is, is impossible with another man. We’ll get so dead-set on this hype that we’ll become depressed thinking he is the end-all-be-all and we’re doomed if this doesn’t work out…or worse yet, if we screw it up.

If that was the case, Buffy the Vampire Slayer would still be making shows. So would Dawson’s Creek. We’d all still be listening to LFO, eating Dunkaroos, and wearing those god-awful acid-wash jeans (keep in mind Williamsburg is excused from this analogy). We’d all carry mobile phones that don’t fit in our bags and our dial-up internet would greet us with “You’ve Got Mail!”

Things change, so do people. We fall in love and we fall out. We think he’s The One and then we want him to be the one who never comes back. We are addicted to our pair of skinny jeans until our bodies grow some curve, some place, and they don’t fit anymore. We buy into something until it becomes a commodity and we got for a cheaper alternative. Much of life is a hype – but the one thing that remains consistent is me. I’ve been through all the hypes, all the love, all the coming and the going, and I’m still who I am. I’ve adapted and learned, grown up and become a woman, and while I don’t forget the trends I trended through, I realize I’m always going to trend through something.

And if a particular style doesn’t look right on me or a musician doesn’t get me moving, or a man doesn’t hit the spots I need him to hit – I rest easy knowing the next hype is closer than I think.

No Almost About It

Similar to the dating scene in New York, when you find something that’s incredibly tasty, surprisingly no-hassle, and relatively inexpensive in the city – you keep coming back for more. Such is the story of Corner Bistro.

Tucked away in the West Village at West 4th and Jane, Corner Bistro is the definition of a hole-in-the-wall joint. It’s dark, even mid-day, only accepts cash, and you’re lucky if your waiter does more than grumble at you. It is always, always packed – as it should be. Out of any burger I’ve had in my life, it is the absolute best. It even beats my dad’s – and to pin the olive on top of the bun, their signature burger is a mere $7.

When I discovered this well-known, not-so-hot spot, I instantly became hooked. A week or so ago, when I found myself with a craving for their menu, I gathered three friends and caught the train downtown. A few Blue Moons, three orders of burgers and fries, and an hour worth of catching up later, my friend J decided the next destination would have to be a gay bar less than ten mini-village blocks away.

Happily filled with booze and burgers, the crew trotted toward a hidden address, bumping into Sarah Jessica Parker along the way. While we were appropriately star-struck, it didn’t last long – this is New York after all. If you didn’t pass a celebrity here or there, then you obviously are not going out enough and spending far too much time in your far too small apartment. On the way, we stopped by a pet store to admire the $1,000 frenchies, the $1,200 Cock-a-Poos or Bossi-Poos or Cava-Poos, and then finally made it to the one place to admire the trendiest of all – the Village Drag Queen. With eyelashes curled to the 9’s, liner that goes on for miles, and a push-up that pushes whatever-that-is higher than my ladies are resting – this Mr/Ms was a force to be reckoned with.

Not to mention, s/he was the Bingo keeper. Yes, gay bar bingo. Apparently, sweets, it is the newest thing.

It is also a serious game, even if the commentator walks around flirting with anyone who doesn’t have a vagina, which luckily for him/her is the majority of those in attendance. When I casually asked a neon-wearing gaggle of gay men where to get Bingo stampers, they promptly informed me they brought their own and that I could find golf pencils on my table. Oh, well excuse me  – I thought i looked pretty slammin’ in my blue sweater dress and heels, but apparently not. At least in terms of gay bingo, anyways.

My group pitched in together and bought three cards to split amongst the four of us. We decided if we happened to win the $1,300 jackpot, we’d split it evenly. A few days before, I had given in to the pleas of one of my closest friends to watch The Secret, which is great for giggles, if you feel inclined. While I think the message is true- tell the universe what you want, believe you’ll get it, and you will – the documentary was not well-done. With beer and three mimosas swirling in my tummy thus making my lips a little looser, I encouraged my friends to believe we would win the money. I figured if I’m going to lead my life by a secret I already knew, why not let my friends in on it, too? In my early evening haze, it seemed like a strategic approach to gay bingo.

Twenty minutes later, we were one little box away from winning. By this time, I had told them my reasoning and all of us were suddenly on board, convinced that by having faith, we suddenly had a super weapon against the rest of the players. We had intentionally placed the universe on our side. As if we were waiting to meet our unborn child or on that phone call, offering us our dream job, we lingered on the bingo board, each gripping our inadequate pencils and drinks eagerly.

And then Mr/Ms Village Drag Queen called B9. A man with a high-pitched voice and a blue stamper screamed “Bingo!” We needed B8. We almost won. We almost had the universe at our fingertips.

But what good is almost? The Southern saying, after all, says almost only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades. There are rare  things in life where not hitting the goal, but getting close to it, is just as powerful as reaching it.

In thinking about our loss, I considered all of the things I’ve experienced that were best defined by almost. Mr. Idea was almost the right guy for me, minus a few vastly important characteristics and interests. I almost had that national freelancing gig at a consumer publication, but my tone wasn’t right for the mag. I almost fell asleep at midnight, at one, at two, but couldn’t stop stressing out from my overflowing to-do list. I almost ran five miles, but I gave out at 4.8 out of nothing but utter boredom. I almost achieved that toe curling orgasm, but couldn’t get right there, right where I needed to be.

Almost: It is almost worse than failing in the first place because you know how near you were, and yet, so terribly far away. And yet, it is a word I use constantly.

“Yes, I almost went to that show, but…” “Oh, I almost went out with him, but…” “Well, I almost got that byline, but…” “I almost signed up for that race, but…” “I almost came home early, but…” “I almost initiated The Talk, but…”

Almost, but what? Is almost an excuse or something that we actually experience? If something doesn’t work out, if we don’t sincerely care to do something, if something is not quite what we want, if something is not within reach – then it doesn’t work out, we don’t do it, we don’t have what we want, and we don’t reach it.

It isn’t a matter of almost, it is a matter of fact.

But it doesn’t mean almost doesn’t count – in fact, I’d like to think it always does. Thinking about almost is a way to realize our worth and what we’re capable of. If we just about got there, if we just about found the right person, if we were the forerunner for a great Bingo board win, if we knew we probably could have gone longer and harder – then we know what we’re made of. We know and we believe what’s inside of us – because if we can just about get there, one day, we can definitely get there. No almost about it.

(That is, as long as we have a fancy stampy thing)

What I Should Have Said

There are some perks to a blog – especially for a writer. It is a place for me to vent, for me to discuss topics in liberal opportunities, and a way for me to help others learn from the experiences I share. Blogging has been around over a decade and it has proved a successful platform for publishing companies, wannabe-authors, and anyone who could function on WordPress, Blogspot, or other platforms. While certain studies show the momentum behind blogging and being a blogger may have lost some of its cache  in an overly saturated market – if you want to find a community of supporters and other writers, it is rather simple.

If you’re not convinced, just ask me.

When I started Confessions of a Love Addict mid-September last year, I had no idea of what I was getting myself into. I clicked publish without a plan, without any intention of promoting the blog anywhere but Facebook to my friends, and came up with the idea as a way for me to work through past relationship issues. I became interested because I knew the way I approached love was unhealthy and I was allowing the presence or the absence of a man control the way I valued my self-worth. Because writing isn’t just my job, it is my passion, and in many cases, the best therapy I could ever invest in. And blogging, of course, doesn’t cost anything.

So why not? Why not blog?

What I forgot to consider when divulging the intimate details of my life to all who can click and Google was the fact that my personal life doesn’t just pertain to me. And the issue with a blog primarily about relationships is that the whole definition of a relationship is that it involves two people.

And thus, admittedly there are also two sides to every story. But my side, the way that I felt, what I thought, and what I learned is public knowledge. Sometimes, sadly, some of the things I’ve been comfortable enough to share on this space with mostly strangers, I haven’t been brave enough to be as honest about with the men the posts detail.

This downfall on my part is forgetting that the Mr’s read these blogs. Not so much with Mr. Possibility – for he’s known me since after this blog began – but with the men of my past. Some of which, months and years after the end of our relationship, discovered my insight into what we shared. While I’ve made a vow to never man-bash, but to only detail the benefit of each relationship, part of finding the good is discussing the bad. The things that weren’t enough, the things that I realized I didn’t want, the moments I knew when I was settling, those dreams that I knew would never come true if I remained in a stagnant, dead-end relationship with a Mr. Wrong that would never be Mr. Right.

And those things, for men I used to talk to daily, make love to consistently, and open up my heart, my soul, and my life to – are difficult to hear. Probably harder to stomach. No one wants to know that they couldn’t bring someone happiness or that contrary to every romantic comedy, storybook, and sitcom – love sometimes is not enough. No matter how many first stars or lucky pennies we wish upon.

I’m quite positive some of my exes will never dial my number or call me up when they’re in New York after reading the pages of this blog, that somehow has infiltrated and changed my personal life in vast ways. As much as it has helped me become a stronger woman, opened up new opportunities for me professionally, and given closure and a new friendship with certain former loves, it has also burned some bridges I wish still stood.

But that’s the thing about the truth – sometimes it hurts.

In fact, unless it is what we want to hear and improves our current situation, the truth is often the hardest thing to accept. When you realize you weren’t meant for someone and they realize it too – walking away becomes a game of roulette, who will dodge first and admit what feels like failure? When you know you’re staying in a relationship for the wrong reasons, but don’t want to cause pain to someone you once (and probably do, and always will) loved – how do you break it to them, without breaking them? When you understand someone is with you for the comfort you give them, not the undying knock-you-to-ground passionate love you deserve, how do you demand more or pack your bags?

Since these relationships – I’ve adapted the honesty is the best policy mentality. I’ll partly give credit to this blog, some to my own growing maturity, and some to the lessons I’ve mastered from the past and how they’ve translated into my present. Perhaps if I would have voiced my opinions, yielded to red flags when I saw them rise, and given up on a love I knew wouldn’t last – I would have saved myself some heartbreak. Or more importantly, come to the rescue to the men I wasn’t fair to, instead of thinking they were only there to rescue me. Maybe it is all of those honest, truthful things I should have said that would have meant more, in the long run, than all of the things that I said to save feelings, face, and heart.

Really though, the thing that will save us all, that will make our relationships meaningful and sincere is learning to say when enough is enough, when love is worth the fight and when it’s not, and when we realize there are better things that can be found. And accept that the person you need to focus on, the person you need to be the most honest with, the person who needs to read your blog the most – is you.

Because everyone else will always see what you say as a matter of opinion, regardless. No matter how honest you are. Even so – tell the truth anyways. They say it’ll set us free or piss us off – I think it’ll do it a little bit of both. And frankly, that’s better than hurting others and lovers more than is necessary. And more than a post on a blog could ever do.

Undoing the Undo

Sometimes I wish I could take a week off from my computer. If I estimated how many hours I spend looking at a screen, from my job that’s primarily at a desk to this blog, which takes up some time to write, publish, and promote – I’d be embarrassed of the total.

But the truth is – a computer helped raise me. I can’t remember a time without one.

I come from a generation that’s always known what it was like to be connected to this digital creation and the World Wide Web. In elementary school, we took turns buying a bag of cotton balls so we could clean off our headphones for computer class, where we learned about home row keys and data entry. By the time I was in middle school, I had my own email account (latigar@aol.com, of course) and my parents let me chat in chat rooms before chat rooms needed a warrior like Chris Hansen to get the predators out.

In high school, I started really becoming a journalist with internships and mastering the Office Suite and how to effectively search on AskJeeves.com. I started to become interested in design and because I knew I wanted to work at a magazine, I started figuring out ways to contact editors – I even found interns in groups on MySpace. Time couldn’t change as quickly as the technology and college was full of Adobe and Facebook, Flash, and Google Analytics.

I’m well versed in the language of the web and when a computer challenges me, I fight back until I find an answer. Maybe because I’m so comfortable dancing across the keys or trying something new, but I’m brave to push my limits and explore the tech world, both socially and systematically. I’m not afraid of making mistakes because I know that there is always a saving grace, should I do something to throw the entire program or network off balance.

Undo.

It was a joke at the college newspaper I rose in the ranks of, that when in doubt, just hit undo. This miracle button could correct anything and it gave us the courage to test the waters of new, exciting pages, and scarily complicated CMS features. I felt a sense of freedom knowing I could do basically whatever I wanted to attempt and I’d be okay if something went awry. I wouldn’t be held responsible because I could just delete the action.

Ever since I discovered this free pass, I’ve found myself thinking “Edit, Undo” in my day-to-day when something goes wrong. Like when I’m walking the two blocks from my favorite coffee shop to my job and I spill a nice trail of Splenda-and-skim-infused Java down my blue blouse, five minutes into my work day. Or out of complete frustration and the onset of my monthly visitor, I snap at a friend who is only trying to make me feel better. Or when I say words I can’t take back, do things I can’t change, or leave people who will never return.

But the thing is – there isn’t an undo in life.

We make choices and we’re forced to stand by them. We make our bed and we lay in it. We meet people and we have the ability to decide (Heavens willing) how long they’re with us and how close they grow. We try things and they often don’t work out in the way we want. We take risks and we have trials, and there is no way to step back on that ledge once we’ve left it.

Though the backend of a computer and the Internet is vastly complicated – making those who understand it highly competitive and disgustingly wealthy – there is nothing more complex than the webs we weave. Life is a funny and beautiful thing, yes – but it is also better spent trusting in the decisions you make instead of wondering if there is a way to get out of them.

I haven’t decided if I enjoy black-and-white or shades of gray better, but I will say that it’s time to stop thinking by the ways of the technological world. Sure, it is the way marketing is going. It’s changing my industry daily. It’s going to continue to expand and there will be a boom that wakes us all up, I’m sure. But if we spent as much time in front of this computer, reading and writing these blogs, Tweeting to the world, and posting on Facebook – actually just living our lives – maybe we’d undo the undo.

We’d stop to think in terms of escape or safe merit. We’d understand that the decisions we claim are ours, even if they take us far from where we started with a hell of a long way to go. We’d click with other people and be more synced to ourselves instead of connecting our social media channels and tapping our mice. We’d see that while an easy-out is beneficial for our Apple or our Windows, it’d be better if we didn’t want to undo the life we lead.

Because while coffee stains are nearly impossible to remove, friends may hold grudges, and love may be lost – without those moments, without those incidents that can be significant or small– we wouldn’t learn. We wouldn’t come into our own. We wouldn’t learn to think before leaping, pause before speaking, or consider before leaving. We’d rely on an undo button to make our lives perfect instead of relishing in the imperfections that make life so worthwhile to begin with. Someone would make more money than Zuckerberg if they created something to give us the option to go back and correct the bad that didn’t seem to lead to good.

Maybe so – but as much as a computer-lover as I am, I’d never buy such a thing. I’d rather click publish in my own life than undo. Because, why would I want to undo…me?

The Bravery of a Fool

There are not many late-night, frantic, and ridiculous phone calls between women discussing the unpredictability of the typically predictable male that don’t involve questions concerning being a fool.

The adages are plentiful – only fools fall in love and everybody plays the fool without an exception to the rule. And the negativity behind this term is not just in a noun, but also a verb – fool me once, shame on you – but fool me twice, shame on me. While women may want to be beautiful and irreplaceable, a vixen, and maybe an officially official girlfriend – one phrase they never like to adopt is being the fool of a man.

Maybe I’m being too cliche in my perspective of this definition. But to me, a fool is someone who knows there is a chance for destruction with a man who has a reputation or has warned you of his troubles, and yet, against any recommendation or any red flag waving in the vast unknown – they willingly pursue and maybe even commit to such a character. Perhaps it is a lack of judgement or an inability to be prudent with those they date or open their legs for – either way, I think it’s a title we’ve all claimed at some point. Most of us, probably well knowing the role we were accepting before we took the stage.

But why would anyone want to be a fool for anyone? Wouldn’t we rather stay logical and collected, calm, and in control of the love we decide to share with only a someone who is willing to offer us the same? Isn’t being in a relationship only worth the wager if you know that while the stakes are high, there are two players playing on an even-playing field?

Call me crazy – but I agree to be in love, you must be a little foolish. It is not an easy task to openly offer up your heart, your emotions, and your hope to a person who may or may not handle such precious things with care. With a simple slip of the mouth, slip of the pants, or slip into a stranger’s bed – a man who you once trusted with your most intimate self could leave you waiting in the wings, covered in not just the dust of his speedy exit, but the residue of his countless lies. Sure,  all of these things are possible and no, they don’t always happen. But they could and they do. If such pain is plausible, we’d have to be irrational to rationalize love. Right?

Or is it that the thinnest line isn’t between faith and fortune. Or between flattery and fumbling.  Or loving and lusting. Or what we want and where we are. Or the beginning and the ending. Or  making love and making the dirty. Or exclusive and free.

But rather – the most blurred connection is between being a fool and being brave.

And if I follow the absurdity of fairytales or the blatant reality of my parent’s example of a relationship that can endure the test of time and health – being brave is the quality that made the dues payable. But to be courageous, one must always be a little asinine, or we wouldn’t realize what we were risking. And really, the largest investment we make in a relationship isn’t even in the person – however dreamy he may be – but the liability is in ourselves.

We must be brave enough to fall in love and absurd enough to trust someone other than ourselves with our most valuable assets. Because once they are out in the open, in front of the court to see and ridicule, there is not always a guarantee that a prince charming will ride our way. More often than not in times that are Millennial instead of Medieval – the knight’s armor is less than shining and more shunning. After all, the fool is not the princess or the lady in waiting or even a maiden of the most prestigious court. This character is rather the one who entertains, the one who hides their own face in an effort to bring joy to the lips of others. But the fool is no fool to her antics or her charm, to her words, or to the price she could pay for being honest or sarcastic. She knows the chance she takes, she knows the pieces that could shatter – but she does it anyways.

Because what we forget about being a fool is that to be one, you must realize your own value. And you have to know that if the crowd doesn’t take to what you present, you know there is safety and shelter in your own care. And in that power comes the ability to accept being a fool and knowing that though we get a wild card to play a prank on a friend on this day each year, there is never a holiday for deceiving ourselves.

Rather – it is something we do constantly, time after time, man after man. We convince ourselves he will be different. That it will be easy and just as we imagined. He will do those things we always wanted him to do. He will surprise us. He will love us unconditionally, if such a love is reasonable. We fool ourselves into falling in love again. And again. We accept the burden it carries when it doesn’t work out as anticipated and we bow to our audience, to the fates who tricked us again, and we go backstage to prepare for the next show.

For the next brave attempt at the foolish ways of love.