Baby, Talk is(n’t) Cheap

Some become uncomfortable when others talk religion. Or politics. Or the birds-and-the-bees. These conversations rarely make me lose my train of thought and though others may not agree, I don’t sway my opinion to match what’s considered acceptable by whoever’s standards I’m discussing such topics with.

However, while money talks louder than sex, I’d much rather review every sexual encounter I’ve ever had than talk about cash flow.

For whatever reason, finances freak me the [insert foul word] the out. I come from a family that never struggled to make ends meet and my parents managed our assets smartly and strategically, giving me mostly anything I wanted – minus the pony in the backyard when I was six, but who remembers that? I’ve always been taught to value the dollar and that it is something that comes with hard work. Applying that mentality from the get-go, I started my own baby-sitting “business” at 13, after taking classes at the Red Cross for CPR and childcare, and my dad printed business cards for me, un-cleverly titled, “Lindsay’s Baby-Sitting.”

At 15, off the books and under the table, I earned an hourly wage at a privately owned hotel as a maid. My first day on the job, the head maid escorted me around the premises and I shadowed her cleaning skills and how to tuck the corners of the bedspread carefully. However, when we pulled off the sheets in the first room to discover whipped cream and strawberries, my virginal-self was a bit distracted during the rest of her lessons. Come to find out, it wouldn’t be the craziest thing I discovered at that job.

During high school and college, I worked at grocery and retail stores, restaurants, and daycares. On the side, I freelanced articles for next-to-nothing pay and for eight months, I wrote a weekly column for $10 a pop about worldly issues affecting local teens. I started a non-profit and I became a marketing machine of what I considered my greatest potential – my words. I was using MySpace to network before social networking was ever a topic of discussion. And through all of these odd jobs and while I developed an entrepreneurial spirit, I never stopped worrying about my mini un-wealth. It wasn’t – and maybe still isn’t – something I feel at ease talking about and while I believe in the freedom of speech, for me, that’s a talk that isn’t cheap.

To combat my woes, I’ve always been a saver and never one to really accept financial favors from anyone. After a certain age, it would churn my stomach to ask my parents for cash and I felt a sense of guilt that they were supporting me during school, while so many of my friends were already independent of their families. Men have often paid for my dinners and I almost always allow them to, but once I’m in a relationship, I feel more of a need to go 50/50. Mr. Possibility‘s bonus is more than my annual salary and while he can afford to cover me for every outing we take, I always make an effort to add in my literal two cents frequently. Because I’ve placed my savings where I can keep track of them, I know where I can spend money and where I can’t.

Even so, for years and even at points to this day, I’ve lost sleep stressing if I was making the right decisions with my income. Am I saving enough? Should I start investing? Am I getting the best deal? Do I really need that or can it wait? Have I gone out for drinks too often this week? Should I not get coffee this morning? Should I book that ticket or can I afford it?

And who the hell thought I was capable of maintaining my own financial stability when my idea of managing my money is logging onto BankofAmerica.com?

It took until I was truly on my own, without any financial support from mom and dad, paying my own bills and student loans, having only my name on a lease, and depending only on myself to eat, drink, and be merrily-with-money, that I started to relax. Within the first three weeks of moving many moons ago, I bought a plane ticket, transitioned myself into a new apartment where I had to fork over $1,600 for a deposit and first month’s rent, plus fed myself, and bought an unlimited Metro. I watched the stockpile of money I had been building for over six years quickly disassemble and realized that money was meant to be spent, not continuously counted and admired. I had not gone into banking because I couldn’t stand the thought of it – I had picked a career that no one pursues for the monetary pay-off, but almost all are satisfied with the print-out.

If the last few years attest to anything, it is that much of what we consider permanent is not as sturdy as we view it. Stocks and companies crash, bailouts aren’t always the best choice, and the lap of luxury we’d all like to lay in may never be an actual option. Their is no secret remedy to dismissing the fear of losing it all because no matter how much we make, how much we spend, or how much we save – there is no guarantee that what have today will be there tomorrow. Though I find myself mature with my finances and for the most part, I always make smart decisions – I’ve discovered the key to managing money is learning that to get, you have to give. Not just in charitable donations (as you should) but by enjoying your life instead of preparing for what could come or what may be inevitable.

I’m not to the point of frivilous spending or unplanned trips to exotic places, but if I want that Kate Spade bag or a pair of shoes half-off at Bloomingdales, I remember I’ve worked this hard and treating myself won’t destroy my accounts. Even so, if you ask me about it, I’ll won’t reveal my purchase. I’m just not one to spend and tell.

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.

Good Enough for Who?

Sometimes, I can be a little much – for a friend, for a man, or even for my mom. I’m outrageously impatient, incurably stubborn, and intoxicatingly optimistic. When I pick a new project, go after a job, or a date – I won’t give up unless I absolutely have to or I am turned away.  I can go weeks without washing my dishes, cleaning out my fish tank, and if you ring me, I probably won’t pick up the phone…and it’ll take me a while to return your call. I get lost in thought mid-conversation, I’m not always understanding, and at times, I’d rather be alone than with the company of anyone else.

I’m far from perfect and I don’t always do my very best to be a better person, but overall – I think I’m more than an average human being. I have qualities I believe to be attractive, admirable, and honest. Though my 5’4”-ness would never allow me to be a model (nor would my problemsome acne from time-to-time), I find myself to be blessed with beauty, both inside and out.

And even though I realize what I have to offer and that I am a person of goodness, kindness, talent, and passion – for a very long time, I always wondered what was wrong with me, that no man (or at least the ones I wanted) found me worthy of love?

I mean, it had to be me, right?

We’re advised to never compare ourselves to others, but I think part of human nature is to size ourselves up to those we are a tad bit jealous of. To fight the envy, we try and determine ways we have a one-up on pre-determined competition. And though I find myself seeking to have perfect skin, a perfect body, a perfect sexy disposition and attitude – the thing I desire the most that other women have…is a man. Or rather, a man who loves them.

It isn’t that I put myself above anyone else – but there are these girls, these women – who are just not that great of people. They do not have things going for them. They are not full of charisma and grace. They are not kind to others, nor do they feel the desire to help the unfortunate. They are not intelligent and they don’t demand excellence on themselves or those in their life. They are the type of ladies that my group of friends can’t stand, who we shy away from at the bar because they’re spilling their drink everywhere with their boobs popping out.

And yet, for whatever reason, these are the same females who have a man who adores them. A man who is successful in every aspect of his existence. Who is full of charm and is dependable beyond his means. Who without reasonable doubt, should be the standard of a man who is attracted to someone who is not ridiculous, but commendable.

Why do the girls we hate tend to be the ones who date the men we want the most? How are they worthy and I’m not?

After a particularly devastating breakup, I discovered the man I thought would be my next love, was Facebook official with a girl…I couldn’t stand. During the duration of our courtship, he consistently made fun of her for being a “groupie” of his friends, joked at her lack of common sense, and one night, because she was so intoxicated, she had to sleep on his couch, while he and I shared his bed. She was open (and proud) that college was merely a way for her to get her Mrs Degree, and she had no outside interests other than consuming large amounts of alcohol and finding a boyfriend. She was, in all shapes and forms, the complete opposite of me.

So when he fell in love with this chick – and for the record, is still dating – I was stunned. I couldn’t believe or understand why he would go from one extreme to the other, and even more – why he would find her valuable as a partner, and not me.

Perhaps the trouble with unrequited love, other than the fact that’s one-sided, is the rejected party always feels the need to blame themselves. Surely, if this man who we find to be the answer to our “wish-list” in a partner just doesn’t seem to feel like we’re his match – it has to do with us, right? If somehow we just changed who we are, if we weren’t so intimidating, if we weren’t so damn independent – maybe, we’d be what he wanted. We’d be the girl who got the guy – instead of the she we despise.

Instead of pleading with the relationship gods or cursing them all together – I finally concluded that his choice to stray away from me and into the incredibly open arms (and legs) of this gal wasn’t because of a flaw in me, but rather, a flaw in the could-be relationship. I was blinded by romantic illusions and even though I saw him as this ideal boyfriend, he obviously wasn’t. Because if he couldn’t fall for me, support me, and decide to be with me for who I was – it simply wasn’t meant to be. And perhaps, he and the chick are, just like one day I’ll be meant for someone more up to my speed and up to the challenge that I am.

It took me a very long time (years, if I’m honest) to reach the point where I was happy for my ex and his new girlfriend. I’ve never added her back on Facebook, but seeing pictures of them together or reading the sweet exchanges on his wall doesn’t bother me anymore. After a while, I had to sincerely refrain from stalking her via web once I reached an unhealthy level of journalistic research about someone I didn’t even really care for. Maybe a turning point was when I slightly considered signing up for Spokeo to find hidden information – and yes, I realize this makes me grade-A crazy. She is still not a person I would choose as a friend – but what’s more is I finally realized he is no longer someone I would pick as a mate.

Time has a funny way of changing things and if I’ve learned anything from the tears and the cheers to true love – it’s that the best thing about life is that it always changes. Even when there seems to be no possible way for anything to go worse, something or someone comes along to give you hope. When you’re convinced fireworks are impossible to ignite again, your heart opens up to a possibility. And when you’re feeling like your love, your company, your presence is undesirable or not good enough – a strike of confidence compels you towards something much greater: to the point where you know, without a doubt, that what really defines your worth is not a man, jealousy, or other women – but rather, yourself. And nothing, no one, no defeat, no rejection – can ever make you lose your value…unless you let it.

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