One of the weirdest things that people say to each other about relationships is “When you know, you know.” It means that when you’ve found the other person to be your singular life partner, you’re practically struck by a bolt of lightening. You just know.
It’s a weird aphorism, because it’s so often untrue. Many of us know people who actually don’t know. They’re ambivalent about the person they’ve been dating, even for a long time, or they’re ambivalent about commitment, fidelity or the institution of marriage.
Then there are the other people who do know, who do find someone, and then they get proven wrong. They know someone is right for them, but life turns around and tells them, “Actually, you don’t know.” Keep reading »
The first time someone called me a derogatory name on an internet comment forum, tears stung my eyes like I just got sucker punched. “Drunken slut” was not something I ever expected to be referred to as simply for writing a well-intended, personal essay about my dating life. I was reminded of being blindsided at the mall in 8th grade by a girl in my class I barely knew. She rounded the corner of Sam Goody, and closed in on me with two of her sidekicks. “I’m gonna beat your ass, you whore!” she screamed in my face.
I had barely even kissed a boy. I wasn’t anywhere near ready to process, or even understand, her insult. I called my mom to pick me up and didn’t go back to the mall for two months. Keep reading »
When I decided to move to Nashville, celebrity sightings were pretty high on my list of “new city perks,” ranking somewhere between “high concentration of cute banjo players” and “existence of sweet tea.” Based on the blogs and gossip columns I read, it was impossible to go to the grocery store in Nashville without rubbing shoulders with Brad Paisley or exchanging muffin recipes with Taylor Swift. I loved how effortless it all seemed. How simultaneously casual and glamorous. I started pre-bragging about my anticipated celebrity encounters before I even left Portland.
“You’ll text me as soon as you see Carrie Underwood, right?” my friends would ask as they helped me pack up my kitchen supplies.
“Of course,” I would breezily reply, not mentioning that I had already looked up her preferred bakery and planned to go there every Monday afternoon to increase my chances of “accidentally” running into her and becoming her best friend. Keep reading »
When it comes to giving oral sex, or as one of my friends calls it, sucky sucky, women seem to fall into two camps: LOVE IT or HATE IT. When gossiping about sex, I feel this overwhelming pressure to declare that I go hog wild for head or loathe it so much that I’ve taken it off the sexual menu with the exception of special occasions, like birthdays. (I’ve never understood that, by the way. Why would you give the gift of something you supposedly hate?) On the subject of blowjobs, there is a subtle urging to take sides. “Too much work!” or “Yummy! Cock!” As I sit there, feeling terribly neutral about the act, I can’t help but suspect that women have been conditioned to have strong, polarized feelings about giving head — or at least to play up their feelings for effect. Keep reading »
So, I’m in love. This isn’t exactly unique — so many others would say the same. Love is an overused word, it’s commonplace, expected even. But to me, it couldn’t be a more novel, beautiful, fascinating thing. For most of my life, I was fiercely independent and ambivalent about relationships. My focus was on platonic friendships and tangible milestones, like my education.
So, it’s strange to think that now, I call someone “my teammate.” My boyfriend has become my refuge from the craziness of everyday life and encourages me every day to be the best I can be. He’s never too busy to make me laugh or to remind me to cut myself some slack. He tells me ridiculous stories of faraway places we’ve never been, wears the most adorable sweaters in the world, and confides in me candidly. He has taught me so much about myself and what I’m capable of.
The crazy thing is that he and I almost never happened. What we have now was one wayward text message and an ounce of pride away from never happening.In some alternate reality, there is another me, who didn’t give him a second chance. What is this other me doing? What kind of things has she missed out on? Keep reading »
“Don’t be afraid of the white canvas.”
I’m sitting in the Nashville community art center for my first art class in almost a decade. My art teacher is standing at the front of the room repeating this phrase over and over in her sweet, calm voice. She brought homemade cupcakes to class and brewed a pot of coffee. Maroon 5 is inexplicably blaring from a paint-spattered boombox in the corner. I’m surrounded by easels and a small group of mostly middle-aged women who have signed up to spend their next eight Monday evenings learning abstract painting. I’m nervous.
“Experiment,” my teacher urges us. “Don’t be afraid.”
I dip a fat brush in water and coat it with acrylic paint. Deep breath. I drag an exuberant wash of magenta across the smooth canvas. It immediately starts dripping. I’m surprised to find that I don’t care at all. The color is so joyful. I want more of it. I stipple the edges of the canvas with the same lively pink, then rinse my brush and switch to yellow. I use quick, diagonal strokes. It overlaps with the magenta and creates a fiery orange. This is awesome, I think. I want to do this every day! Keep reading »