Sunday, May 31, 2009

Things To Do In Denver When You're Dead

OK Ya'll,
So this week I thought I would post a few thoughts about activities one should embark upon before they take the ol' trip to Ball-And-Chain-Ville. I was cleaning the Casa de Big E (no, that's not a joke, I really was in the mood to clean it) the other day and I came across a book that an ex got me that was one of those "99 things a woman should do before she dies" jobs and it got me thinking. I don't know how many people I've come across, both male and female, who just haul off and get married without really getting the chance to live a little. Maybe it's just me, but I just think there's something to be said for taking a step out there. So here's my suggestions for pre-nuptial discovery.
1. Live on your own. And I mean, really truly on your own, no roommates, no shacking up, no whatever, but in a place where only your name is on the lease. I know so many people who have gone from Mom and Daddy's to co-habitation with their Cuddlebug and have no idea how to make it on their own. I honestly think this lack of independent homeostasis is the main reason people get all co-dependent with their significant others and subsequently keep the psychology industry in full swing. I mean, sure it's great to have the one you love nearby, but what happens when things don't work out? You end up going back to Mom and Daddy's at an age where it's wildly inappropriate to say you still live at home, or you end up sleeping in your friend's basement on their mildewed hand me down college couch that probably still has bodily fluids on it from college. So take it from your old pal The Big E--get out there and live on your own. I'd say do it for at least a year. Not only do you learn how to take care of yourself better, but you learn a valuable lesson--how to be a person that is wholly you, not part of "You and Your Boyfriend/Girlfriend/Whatever" or "The Smith's Kid Who Still Lives At Home." It's called independence, people, and it is sorely underrated in this day and age. Big E has been in her own little domicile for the past 8 or 9 years now, and I can't tell you how much I enjoy it. I have the freedom to come and go as I please, the freedom to leave my underwear laying in the bathroom floor, and the freedom of knowing that I can take care of myself without having to depend on anyone else financially or emotionally. Sometimes I even paint my face up like William Wallace in Braveheart and yell "FREEDOOOOOOOOM!" from the window of my condo. Then my next door neighbor's dogs start barking like wicked Banshees and I shut it down and go wash my face. But hey, it feels great to know there's nobody to tell me it's past my curfew or to go get them a beer. Because you can't take care of other people without first taking care of Y-O-U.
2. Figure out who in the hell you are. This is sort of an addendum to #1 because I find that usually figuring out who you are comes most easily when you are on your own, simply because you have time to think about it without your mom asking you if you did your laundry or your significant other pestering you to "flip it over to the game already!" or whatever. Seriously, this is vitally important to success in life and in relationships, because figuring out what you want from life and for yourself is the best way to make sure you get it. Nobody says to themselves, "hey, I think I'll be a miserable hunk of shit for the next 30 years and let someone else run my life," but that's exactly what happens when you don't know what you want in the first place. It's like the old saying goes, "if you don't stand for something, you'll fall for anything." And failure to figure that out is the reason why shows like Tool Academy make it on the air. So do yourself a favor and get to know your likes, dislikes, dealbreakers, wants, needs, and secret career fantasies. You'll thank me when your sitting behind the CEO's desk in the highrise that is your super awesome life with a super awesome (and probably hot) spouse on their way to pick you up for lunch.
3. Learn from your mistakes. There are so many people in this world who get sucked into the same bad relationships over and over again, and then finally end up marrying one of them because they think "this time it'll be different." In the words of Tom Cruise in Rainman: let me let you in on a little secret, Ray. K-Mart sucks. So does going from one loser who didn't have their shit together to another loser with a whole other set of problems but still no visibly gathered shit. If your friends and everyone else you know keep telling you, "this is just like when you dated so-and-so" or "you seem to fall for the same type of guy/girl all the time" and that guy/girl makes Courtney Love look like the voice of reason, then take a little cue from your gut instinct and abandon ship. Figure out what it is that keeps attracting you to this type of sucktitude and get on the path to change. You'll be a lot better off, and your friends won't have to put up with another lame night out on the town with you and whats-his-nuts fighting the whole time.
4. Don't limit yourself. Now, I'm not saying that people don't meet the love of their lives at age 5, but I am saying you're probably not that person. So there is no reason for you to get yourself tied down really early in life. When I was in high school, my parents used to tell me not to get too serious with one guy, and I thought they were complete and total fuddy duddies. These days, I thank my lucky stars that I subconsciously took their advice and didn't get hot and heavy at 16. Sure, I had a boyfriend or two who broke my heart, but I never in a million years thought I would marry them. I had too much ambition and too many things to do and see to get married. And lets face it, no matter how smart you think you are at 16, 20, hell, even 25, YOU ARE AN IDIOT. I still have so much more to learn and do and become in this life, but I think at 30 I've at least got a handle on the aforementioned 1-3. So what I'm saying is, go out there and date. I mean really date. As in, go out with a wide variety of types and personalities. I've gone out with tall, short, funny, boring, blondes, brunettes, younger, older, etc etc. And I've learned so much more about myself and what I want, and especially what I don't want, to safely say I am confident in my list of items that are necessary for marriage. Limiting yourself to one or two long term relationships that weren't that productive in the first place is only going to limit your ability to be a good spouse, in my humble opinion. So seize the cheeseburger! Say yes! At least you'll get a free meal or a movie. At worst, you'll have a story to post in your very own blog someday.
Alrighty folks, that's all I got this week. Let me know your rants, raves, comments, and queries!

Monday, May 25, 2009

That's A Dealbreaker, Ladies!

OK Ya'll,
So I entitled this latest post with a tagline from one of my favorite shows, 30 Rock. In the show, Tina Fey is a writer for a sketch comedy show and one of the sketches that has become most popular is one in which Jane Krakowski plays a "relationship expert/talk show host." She advises her guests about matters of the heart and when she recognizes a peccadillo that could be considered a fatal flaw, she bellows "That's a dealbreaker, ladies!" in a grating New Yawk accent. Now, I'm not from the NYC, although I do have a lovely accent I can put on, but I do know a thing or two about deals and how they become irretrievably broken. So in the spirit of the Millionaire Matchmaker meets Tyra Banks, allow me to indulge my ego and share with you a few of the things I feel are dealbreakers all around and those that can be overlooked or tolerated with time. Or as I like to call it, The Great Compromise. Or the 80/20 Rule if you're a Dr. Phil follower. That is to say, 80% of the stuff your significant other does is fine, the other 20% you can get over or deal with or isn't going to end up causing you to scream at the top of your lungs "for the love of GAWD, STOP IT!" I've seen plenty of relationships, some of my own and some of other people's, go down like the Hindenburg because they didn't think it through. So here's my advice. Take it or leave it, but don't say I didn't warn you.
1. Don't get your wagon hitched to someone not on your spiritual level. Now I'm not talking about both of you clearing your aura or having good karma, unless that's your thing, but I'm talking more about religious views (or lack thereof). I happen to be a Christian girl with some pretty strong convictions about certain things, and while I don't expect everyone to agree with me on everything, I do expect the person I share the rest of my life with to have the same basic values and beliefs. I don't care so much that you're a Baptist or a Methodist or Catholic, but we have to see eye to eye on what's happening after we shuffle off this mortal coil and how it is we come to that post life party. This is a tricky thing sometimes, because you don't always know what your potential mate is into until a little further in the game. And sometimes it's tough to extricate yourself from that situation. I spent a good 2.5 years with someone that I knew in the first 6 months wasn't on my plane, but I fought it with every ounce of my being. I wanted him to be different. I wanted to be a positive influence. All I got was somebody who consistently mocked my faith and made me feel like an idiot. I'm telling you now, it doesn't matter how hot he or she is, if you're "unequally yoked" (to put it Biblically), you're going to have problems. Especially if you want to have kids. Because everybody knows that Brooke Shields and Tom Cruise do not a happy couple make. And nobody wants to be glib about post-partum depression.
2. You think he/she will change. Sure, you can vote for it all you want, but let me let you in on a little secret--people don't change. They may change behaviors temporarily, but they don't change who they are at their core. Sometimes the things you think will change are serious issues, sometimes they're little idiosyncrasies you wish would go away. But they won't. Thousands of people go through a lot of shit in their lives and they either rise above it or they sink down in it. But it's not your choice, it's theirs. And marriage/"a good talk"/promising to do better is not going to make it any different. Those 12 step programs have a little saying--you are always in "recovery." You're never a "used to be an alcoholic." You are always a "recovering alcoholic." Because once you think you have it licked, that's when the beast rears it's ugly head and strikes back ten times more forcefully. Same concept for anything you consider to be a problem-- if you see something that's a red flag now, get it taken care of now and get out. Don't wait until you're sitting around alone and lonely wondering what in the hell happened. I know that sounds a little serious or overbearing, but I'm telling you, even a tiny string can unravel an entire cocktail dress if you pick at it long enough. And nobody wants to end up being the one wearing the Emperor's New Clothes.
3. If you don't trust them, don't date (or marry) them. I don't know how many stories I have heard from people (women mostly) who should be in a Peanuts strip because they are so Snoopy. They hack into emails, social networking accounts, wallets, cell phones, etc etc and then get all upset when they find something they didn't want to see. Well guess what honey? If he had nothing to hide, you wouldn't be looking in the first place, so what are you doing with him? Think about it! Why are you digging around in his personal effects? To find a missing lotto ticket or some gum? NO! You don't trust him. Either he's done something to make you mistrust him, or you're paranoid. Who wants to go through life like that? So quit snooping and move on. Or get some professional assistance for your trust issues. Because you will never rest at night feeling like there's something he's hiding.
4. Naggers and Clingers never win. This is where you have to decide if the 20% of stuff that irks you is worth dealing with 95% of the time. So he doesn't take the garbage out like you asked him, or she doesn't put the dishes in the dishwasher. You know this. It's not news to you. But what do you do? You get in a fight once a week about the effen garbage. That's not what the real issue is, and you know it. So either figure out what your problem is and really address it, or put the dishes in the dishwasher yourself. Nagging is not going to get you anywhere except out on the street on your lovely hiney. Right next to the garbage.
Clinginess can also be a real drag to deal with, and a lot of times it has to do with rule #3. I don't know how many people smother their boyfriend/girlfriend because they don't trust them. If you are constantly suctioned to the side of your inamorata like our old seafaring friend the remora, then you're going to earn the resentment of your significant other if they value their independence even one little iota. Guys like to go out and have drinks with the boys; girls like to get together and drink cosmos and have Pure Romance parties. Let 'em go. I promise they'll come home if they really like you. Just don't go snooping through their stuff when they do.
There's another form of clinginess I'd like to address briefly as well; I call it the "Body Bubble Boundary." If you're anything like me, you're a pretty cuddly person when in private. I enjoy piling up on or crawling under the Snuggie with my significant other while lounging on the couch, and I have been prone to episodes of smoochiness on occasion. But when in public, please, for your own dignity and the digestive health of those around you, keep it clean and keep it in your pants. Holding hands, an arm around the shoulder or waist, fine. Maybe even a light peck on the cheek. The hands in the back pockets, spit bathing one another, and generally icky schmoopiness that's best reserved for a grossly overweight gal and her uber-skinny, bemulleted amour at the fair, NO. Save it for the trailer park folks. You don't want to earn the reputation as one of the worst races in all of intergalactic history: The Clingon.
Alright, that's it for this week folks. Send me your rants, raves, comments, and questions. Happy Dating!

Saturday, May 9, 2009

It's Hard Out Here For A Pimp

OK Ya’ll,
So this week I’m going to let you in on a few dating tactics The Big E employs when choosing a suitor. Some of it is just personal preference, some of it is just for practicality’s sake. But I find it makes the dating process, painful as it can be at times, a little more bearable. And I think it’s good advice to boot.
1. Know your limits. Now, I am all for giving it the old Casey Kasem try by attempting to “keep your feet on the ground and keep reaching for the stars” as it were, but sometimes you gotta realize that the stars may be out of reach and you’ve got to be happy hanging out in the troposphere. And by that I mean you have to be realistic about what you look like and what your date looks like, and try to stay within the acceptable range of what you can attract. I know, I know, personality counts for a lot, and looks are subjective. And what’s attractive to one person is different than another person. I understand all that, and I’m not saying exceptions don’t occur. But let’s face it: if you don’t see some kind of cute in there initially, it’s going to be a tough row to hoe. It can be a spark, a hint, a variation of hotness, but it has to be there. I have plenty of guy friends who fall into different categories of hotness—one is baby-faced hot, one is quirky hot, one is tall, bald, and hot, etc etc.—but the fact remains that I, and ostensibly other girls, see that brand of hotness. If they are not the least bit cute, then you might think it’s cool to date them for a little while because of the personality, but that will wear thin quickly. Trust me; I’ve been in this situation a few times. I thought to myself, well, he really really likes me, and thinks I’m pretty, and even though I am not attracted to him in the least physically, perhaps his personality can win me over and make up for it. And initially, things were ok. But I either got a wandering eye after a while or I never stopped letting my eye wander, and I knew it wasn’t going to work. The personality did not make up enough for the lack of physical attraction. I mean, I’m no Christie Brinkley, but I’m no Billy Joel either. I am what guys label as “cute” and “funny”, and though I don’t know how far that will get me on any given evening at the bar, I do know my limits. And though I lust after the impossibly hot guys with the chiseled abs a la Paul Walker, I know for a fact that my looks alone would not be enough to bring him over to my table and offer me a drink. So I set my sights a little lower on the hot scale but a little higher on the intelligence scale. I’m cute enough to land somebody in the same category of cuteness or possibly slightly higher, but I never, ever want to settle for anything lower or a “talk myself into it” situation. And you shouldn’t either. Yes, I have dated guys I thought were way too hot to be with me, and yes, I have dated the Billy Joels. I’m happiest when I’m on an even playing field. And I think you will be too. Because the last thing you want people to think, in the immortal words of my mother, is “it MUST be all in her/his pants.”
2. Abide by the rule of two. In a beginning-to-date situation, like a few weeks in or a couple, three dates in, I try to always stick to the “rule of two”—as in, don’t call/text/email more than twice without a return call/text/email. Accidents happen, so the first call/text/email could have not gone through or been deleted or what have you. Sending the second one should give the hint. A third one just makes you look desperate or needy at best, stalkeresque at worst. I actually had this situation happen to me very recently. I was in communiqué with a lad via email that I had met on the dating site, and we had discussed quite a bit in written form, so I figured things were going well. As luck would have it, he ended up having jury duty on a Thursday. He emailed me during break that day, and I emailed him back, offering my phone number if he chose to communicate that way since jury duty is a little restrictive on email privileges. I didn’t hear from him all weekend. So I sent one more email on Monday, just a single sentence “more jury duty today?” email, to test the waters. No reply. So there’s where I left it. He knows where to find me. I gave him two means of communication. If he can’t employ one or the other or both, that’s not my problem. He either changed his mind or died. Either way, I’ve got to find someone new to buy my drinks, so I better get crackin’!
3. Define your boundaries. You need to know what you are and aren’t comfortable with on the first few dates and what your time frame is for certain activities. I personally have set myself a new rule to try not to kiss on the first date, or to not let it get too Hustler too fast at least. I think if the person is worth seeing again, they’ll get over the fact that you didn’t spit-bath them right away. A nice, lips only kiss sends a good message, one that shows you’re a respectable person who’s interested but not trying to push things too far. But if you’re not feeling your date, or you know things are not going in the right direction, don’t pressure yourself or let them pressure you into thinking you have to kiss them. A nice handshake or a hug gets the point across. You’ll save your dignity, and you’ll be glad you don’t have to worry about getting mono. The same principle applies to subsequent situations in dating. You have to decide before it’s too late how far you’re going to go, when. Nothing’s worse than waking up the next morning and thinking, “GAWD! Why did I do that? I didn’t want to do that yet!!” and then feeling awkward. Plus, suspense and anticipation is a powerful dating tool. If you stick to your guns, it’s not only a show of character, but it can act as an aphrodisiac. Let them work for it, ya’ll. Because once you do it, to borrow a phrase from Juno, “it’s one diddle that can’t be undone.”
4. You are your own best editor. I am the kind of person who has “flaws” that are sometimes embarrassing in public. My volume dial goes up to 11, and I tend to drop the F-Bomb like I’m the Enola Gay flying over Hiroshima. But I know this about myself, and therefore have the ability to kick it down a notch when necessary, namely when I’m trying to impress a date. Now I’m not saying you have to be someone you’re not, because that kind of behavior only comes back to bite you in the end, but a little bit of editing on the “areas of improvement” you may have is never a bad thing until you’ve gotten a feel for how your date will react. The last thing you want to do is tell an off-color joke about the very socioeconomic group his/her grandparents belong to, or have him/her employ the back-up plans early because you are a social menace. Everyone wants to be the best-smelling, best-looking, most intelligent version of themselves they can possibly be. And it doesn’t hurt to give someone glimpses of what a fun, exciting, lively date you are. But take your mother’s advice and be on your best behavior until the comfort level gets a little higher. You’ll be glad you did, and you’ll probably get another date out of it.
So that’s it! Let me know what you think, comments, suggestions, rants and raves.

Monday, May 4, 2009

When You Don't Want To Date...You Just Want A Date For The Evening

OK Ya'll,
So I thought this week's post would be a little rundown of some ideas I had about how to conduct a successful foray into the "date for the evening" category of relationships. I have found over the years that these types of "relationships" are fraught with complications, hurt feelings, and confusion, and it really doesn't have to be that way if you take a few pieces of advice to heart. So I wanted to offer my advice for hooking up Big E Style. Now, this is not a safety or physical advice type of thing, because we all know what those rules are (use birth control, always have money for a cab, take your phone, let someone know where you are, etc.), but rather how to be successful emotionally and mentally. Because that's where the problems start.
1. You MUST compartmentalize. What I mean is, you have to learn to separate feelings from actions. Men are great at this most of the time. Ladies, not so much. I know there are exceptions to every rule, but for the most part, guys are really good at disassociating the "feelings" aspect of bumping uglies from the "physical" aspect. They don't get all misty eyed when they finish, they don't sit around analyzing every word that was said, and they certainly don't sit around wondering if she'll ever call again. They just put that experience in the spank bank and call it a day. Scientists call this ability "compartmentalizing," meaning they are able to separate emotion from physical feelings, and apparently men are genetically hardwired to be better at it. So ladies, if you're going to hook up, you're going to have to figure out how to do this or you'll end up a blubbering mess the next time you drink a little too much and regale your local barkeep with sob stories. Learn to take it for what it is: he's cute, you're single and cute, he's been drinking some, you've been drinking some, and your hormones are racing faster than the Top 5 at the Kentucky Derby. Don't get to know him, don't ask him questions about his family, just see him as a hot piece just as down for a good time as you are. The minute you start wondering what your kids will look like is the minute you've gone too far. I'm not saying compartmentalizing is easy; I've fallen prey to attaching emotions where there were none, but I've learned from my mistakes. I've also learned that very, very rarely do flings turn into anything real. I was one of those exceptions; I had a vacation fling that turned into a two and half year relationship. The crux of the matter was I didn't get invested straight out of the gate. I met him on vacation, we had a lovely couple of days together, and then I put him in the "vacation fling" cubby hole in my brain and let it be. I never expected him to call again, and I had a great story to tell my friends when I got home. I even told the girls I vacationed with when they asked me if I thought he would call, "no, he got what he wanted, why would he call?" Just because he did, and because we ended up dating, doesn't mean it will ever happen again. And it doesn't mean it will happen to you. So let your mantra be: "relax and detach."You'll thank me one day.
2. Try to stage the rundown on your turf. I am a big proponent of hooking up where you feel most comfortable, and for me that's my own place. Now, I know there are reasons against this, namely you don't want people to know where you live or you have a roommate or whatever. And sometimes it is fun to get down in a new location or a neutral territory like a friend's house. All I'm saying is, if it's possible, then try to bring them back to your place. For one, you don't have to do the walk of shame the next day. You can simply stay in bed while they fumble around for shoes and accessories that got strewn about in the heat of passion, provided you haven't already gathered their belongings by the front door for convenience and ease of exit. You also have the luxury of not having to sneak out, and as an added bonus the opportunity to kick them out at your leisure rather than waiting on them to politely request that you vamoose. Then you can hightail it to the bathroom and get your business done and take a shower while you compartmentalize.
3. If you go to their place, drive your own car. Sort of a corollary to #2, but I find it easier to make a quick getaway if you have a getaway car. If you don't, you run the risk of being trapped in someone's house for hours until they wake up, or having to call a friend to pick you up and you have no idea where you are, or the worst, having to call a cab and you have no idea where you are. That said, obviously if you've had too much to drink when you're planning your hookup, you need to cab it or get a drop off or have him drive your car to his house. But if you're even close to being lucid enough to drive, hang out for a little longer and tantalize him while sobering up enough to drive to said staging area. You'll be glad you did when it's 6 am and you're ready to crash in your own bed.
4. Be a little discerning about who your chosen victim will be. The gene pool is not as varied in some places as in others, so I realize that you may not have the ability to be a "Jif girl" and be choosy. But at least try to avoid the following categories of folks for hooking up purposes: people who have a crush on you, people you have a crush on, exes, people your friends have dated and are not over yet. If you can narrow it down even a little bit, your chances of A. not causing drama and B. not getting stalked/being a stalker are significantly lessened. Like I said before, feelings are the number one reason hook ups turn into epic fails. If you have any emotional attachments still lingering or unspoken, you're taking a risk. And the only person you hurt is usually yourself. If you simply must choose a friend or acquaintance, the same "no feelings" rule still applies. You have to be sure that you're both cool with hanging out in the group without being awkward. Because there's nothing worse than the scene in Reality Bites right after Lainey and Troy hook up and things are all weird at the club. In the words of Vicki, "sex is the quickest way to ruin a friendship." Make sure your pros and cons list is well thought out before you take that leap.
5. Know when to say no. It's like the old saying goes, "friends don't let friends get with lame hookups." If the person has a significant other or a spouse, just say no. If the person is a known player and you find yourself falling prey to his charms, just say no. You'll be one of the very few who probably will. And you'll be glad you did, not only for your emotional well being, but your dignity as well. You have to make things work on your terms, not someone elses, or you'll end up with a bunch of regrets at the end of the day. You have to take control of your situation and know what you're doing. If you're out one night and you feel like hooking up, think about your plan of action. If you're cool with compartmentalizing and making it work, then all signs point to yes. If your gut tells you you're making a mistake, take a hint and just let it go. Like I said, you'll be glad you did.
So that's it folks. Let me know what you think or if you have other suggestions.