Tuesday, September 6, 2016

guys get dumped, too // part 1

My good guy friend from college (seriously, one of the best guys I know) reached out to me this weekend with a mega-bombshell: he was dumped.

Considering he's a writer himself, he suggested a brand spankin' new series for this blog: GUYS GET DUMPED, TOO.

It's easy to forget this little fact, when we ladies are crying over ice cream/wine/Tinder and wailing about how awful that last asshole was that broke our heart. But, then you stop and really look back at it and realize that it truly goes both ways.

Hearts are broken left and right in the game of love and, as we've come to find out, neither gender is safe from the serious sting of heartbreak.

Since writing was such a therapeutic tool for me when I was dealing with my own broken heart last year, I jumped at his suggestion. On one hand, I think it's genuinely fascinating to get an in depth look at the range of emotions a guy goes through, as he goes through them. And on the other hand, I just really want to help out a solid friend. If this helps him get through this rough time in any way, we did our job. And if this helps put the male psyche into any sort of perspective for us ladies, then we really went above and beyond.

Note: We're going to keep this super cool dude anonymous throughout the duration of this series. (However, if any lovely lady is interested in taking him out on a date, clearly that's a different story and I'll be more than happy to pass along his info.)

---



I didn’t plan for Labor Day weekend to be start off with a break up and lead to me sitting in a dark room streaming Californication. I didn’t picture I’d be in a small bedroom with the door shut, my roommate and his future wife sitting on the living room couch. Instead, I find myself shifting around the same 10x10 foot room over and over again, trying to find comfort. The bed is too soft and broken in where she used to sleep. The floor is too hard and still covered with pieces of her long black hair. 

The truth is men get broken up with too. And frankly, this won’t be a revelation: It hurts us just as much. 

So, after a brief discussion with the author of this blog, I decided it might be useful for her audience to have a glimpse into the range of male emotion post breakup. My goal isn’t to gain sympathy. I’m writing this anonymously because truthfully who I am is irrelevant. My goal is for people, mostly women, to have a window into a world they might not see often. Men are generally seen as guarded, emotionless, or cold. This isn’t necessarily true. 

 Instead, we hide our emotions to fit into an old world mold and to appear strong or unaffected by the downfall of relationships. 

If I’m going to pen this anonymously I should give at least a few vague details to allow you, the reader, to have a sense of who I am and where I’ve been. I am a small town raised, Southern California male, who is staring at the latter years of his 20’s. I am a college graduate and work a full-time job for a government institution. My interests in sports, cars, and rated R comedies would lead you to believe I was a jock in high school. Truth is I have a weak spot for romantic comedies and the idea of undying, never-ending love. I have friends with marriages and kids, some with marriages and no kids, and some with just kids. The majority of my peers are unmarried but well on their way in successful, well- manicured dating relationships. I thought I was too. That is until about twenty-three hours ago. 

Twenty-three hours ago I wasn’t in a 10x10 foot bedroom. I was on a couch watching preseason NFL football and texting my girlfriend of almost 2 years. The tone of the conversation wasn’t light-hearted; I’ll be the first to admit it. We were in stuck in the midweek hangover of not seeing each other and being overstressed at work. It consisted of one to two word text messages and no time to meetup for real conversation and physical contact. As the old adage goes, “The straw that broke the camel’s back.” 

Shortly after the clock struck double zero in the 4th quarter, my relationship reached the same fate.

An hour later I found myself under the covers typing away and hoping the next time I hit the send button I would save my relationship. As the spoiler in the first sentence gave away, I failed. As a sports fan I can appreciate a good batting average. Batting a thousand in tanking long-term relationships and being dumped? Those aren’t stats I can applaud. Being that I’ve been down this road before and am headed down it a third time, I know what to expect. 

My post-breakup cycle consists of a period of struggle, strife, and occasionally overcoming all of it. It strongly resembles the Stages of Grief and Loss so I’ll use that as an outline for I go through and from what other men of this age group generally go through. 

Step One: Denial and Isolation. 

I’ve already mentioned the hiding under the covers and the desperate text messages which amount to “Give me another chance.” That’s the initial denial. 

The real denial is displacing the fact you’ll have to inform everyone around you that it’s over. Your friends, your family, coworkers, the people you used to call “our friends.” They all need to know at some point and burying that fact is flat out denial. The first person I’ve always told is my best friend, a level-headed guy nine months older and 10 years wiser. He’s the optimistic sage to my pessimistic fool. Next is the confession to my mother. It’s more painful and tear-jerking than the series finale of your favorite show. I don’t feel like being around anyone close. I can fake it in front of strangers and make things seem normal to the passing observer. It’s the closest people that ask how your former girlfriend is. Unknowingly, they’ll walk into a confession and become an accomplice in a short-term secret. 

So how do you combat this? Isolation. You learn to stay inside where the world can’t see you. Where the TV has no judgment on what you’re wearing or the last time you shaved. The fact is, every place you go to you’ve been there before with her. It’s now become tainted. The ghost of the past relationship follows you everywhere. It’s with you when you pass by the movie theater, when you pull into the In N Out drive thru, and even when you turn on the radio. 

I made a valiant attempt to go out with friends last night. The thought process was “It’s better to be miserable around friends than to stay home and be miserable alone.” Instead, it was a never-ending internal dialogue of how things would be if she was still here; the jokes she would crack, the look she would give when someone said something stupid, and the way she demanded to hold my hand while driving. I sat at the dinner table listening to conversations about friends of friends who recently became engaged and thought to myself, “What are the f**king odds.” I constantly checked my phone, thinking that for some reason I’d have a text message from her, or anyone for that matter. At the end of the night I sat in the backseat of my friend’s car staring out the window blankly at the 101. Every set of headlights in opposing traffic was like light going through a projection slide, each flash a moment from our relationship. The radio played a damning mix of love-sick songs culminating in Boyz II Men’s End of the Road. As we got closer to our exit I realized the biggest change in the last 24 hours is there’s no reason to rush home anymore. Nothing is waiting at home except an empty space filed by furniture and memories of what used to be. 

As much as I would love to hide until the pain subsides it doesn’t work that way. We all have jobs and bills. Eventually, I’ll need to go to the store for food. It’s these moments which cause a guy to find anything resembling strength and to use it to get out the door. Once I’m out, the poker face takes over and I can fake it for the outside world. The face says everything is fine, the mind is busy recalling memories you thought you had forgotten. 

These first two weeks are so important. The pitfalls I try to avoid are very simple: 

1. Don’t send anything to your ex which may be used in the court of law. 
2. Don’t tell her anything that you can’t take back and if possible, avoid all contact. 
3. Under no circumstances begin the habit of cyber stalking; i.e. Facebook creeping, checking Instagram, Snapchat, or Twitter. 
4. Don’t go looking for a rebound. The only thing worse than a failed relationship is a failed relationship and a failed hook-up. 
5. Don’t make it all about you when you’re with friends. Truthfully, they don’t want to hear your complaints over and over again. 
6. Don’t bash the ex. If you care enough to feel like sh*t then obviously you loved her. Respect the relationship. It’s not polite to disparage the deceased. 

Somewhere after all the “We’re not togethers” it starts to become real. Minutes somehow turn into hours, hours become days, and eventually days add up to a week or maybe more. It’s all real. The pain, the old pictures, the started and erased texts, they all exist. Yesterday I made it to the gym twice, I cleaned, I ate, and I went out with friends. Today? Today I’ve continued to binge watch Californication and haven’t quite left the house. At some point I’ll need to pick up eggs and milk. Filling my time with those miniscule tasks will somehow get me through the day and then out of the first stage. It has in the past and will again the future. Because the one thing I try to remember is I’ve felt like this before. 

 Years ago I cried and moped over a different girl. And I felt like I would never get over her or be able to live with the regret of losing her. 

Sometime after that I met somebody, went on a date, and learned to laugh and love again.

Here goes nothing.

Friday, September 2, 2016

bye bye summmmah

Dress: Zara; Jacket: Citizens of Humanity; Shoes: Aldo; Sunnies: Ray Ban; Backpack: Michael Kors

The weekend I dread every year is here - Labor Day aka the unofficial end of summer. Granted, living in California, we kind of celebrate summer on a year-round basis, but there's still an "anything can happen" vibe that summer brings that can never be recreated. The fact that Starbucks is already selling Pumpkin Spice products is actually blowing my mind right now, 

Trying to find a balance between that almost fall mentality and my desperation at hanging on to the last dregs of my favorite season. Picked up this amazing dress during Zara's massive sale a few weeks back for a mere $20. A great piece to toss on when you don't want to have to put too much thought into your outfit. This was the perfect ensemble for happy hour and a movie with friends (and fun fact, this brick wall is actually the ugliest little stretch of wall in the mall...I'm standing in front of a Recycle sign). 

What do you guys wear during this weird transition period? Do you cling to summer or start pulling out those fall clothes in hopes to make the season come a little bit faster?



Thursday, September 1, 2016

that pink door

Dress: F21; Shoes: Aldo; Hat: Target; Sunnies: Ray Ban

My friends and I made the trek to Palm Springs a couple of weekends ago, and needless to say, it was quite the memorable trip. From pool parties, to crashing at 5pm, to a hilarious Ihop trip - I had a total blast and was SO sad to go home. 

Dressing in Palm Springs is an art form in itself. The temperature usually hits an aggressive 110 during the day, so less clothing goes a long way. I picked up this dress from F21 a few months ago and it continues to prove itself as one of those easy, breezy pieces that makes it easy to grab and go. Also, these shoes are HEAVY in my rotation right now - as they go with pretty much anything I can think of. Debating on grabbing them in black, as well. 

The morning we were set to leave, I dragged a couple of peeps over to #thatpinkdoor, a residence that has a front door that is (no joke) Instagram famous. The house was easy to find and we snapped as many pictures as we could before hopping back into the safety of our air conditioned vehicle.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

on facing those tinder nightmares

I'm mad. I'm angry. I'm insulted to the point that my fingers are a-buzzing and I need to get this out into the universe. 

They say that dating is a game. Sure, I'll play. 

I've done the apps. I've done the "act cute in a pizza place and get picked up by some weird guy from Nebraska". I even bought a Groupon for Match.com, cause EVERYONE swore by it (but I deleted it a week later). Throughout that experience, I've run into some hardcore douche-nuggets - but at the end of the day, I've never felt actually disrespected as a woman.

That was, until today. 

Yesterday, I received an eye-roll message from a guy on Tinder. I'm very familiar with the Instagram account "Tinder Nightmares" and just figured this was another one of those ridiculous situations. Fed up with being treated like a piece of meat by a lot of the matches I encounter, I responded with a sarcastic comment (as I do A LOT of the time). 

That's when it went in a direction I never expected it to go:


First, he made a comment about my body - complete with emojis. Then, when he didn't receive a response he liked (cause honestly - how the HELL does someone respond to that?), he tried to attack my self-esteem by calling me ugly. And then the whammy: Whore. He called me a WHORE. 

Why? I'm still trying to figure it out. 

I opened up his final response as I was walking around in the mall this afternoon and initially, it didn't bother me too much. Another hilarious Tinder Nightmare, right? Then I started thinking about it. Reallllllly thinking about it. And then I was absolutely infuriated.

I've recently been complaining to my friends about how sick I am of feeling like a "thing" to so many of the guys I've encountered while trying to navigate this bizarre dating world. There's something so dehumanizing about feeling like a piece of meat - a body more than anything else. For example, the amount of FIRST messages I get about my chest from guys on these apps is actually mind-boggling. 

I know what my body looks like. I know I flaunt certain areas and wear outfits that accentuate body parts, but this doesn't mean I'm "asking for it". And this is definitely not an invitation for inappropriate comments from absolute strangers on dating websites. It makes you wonder - if we met in a bar, would you walk up to me and say, "Titties (heart emoji)" to my face? The answer is, most likely, no way. And, if you did, you would 100% get slapped in the face.

I'm a strong girl. I'm really firm in my beliefs and I'm completely capable of standing up for myself when I feel like something needs to be done. I'm also able to shrug off A LOT of negative comments, but as I was roaming through the mall today, it occurred to me that a lot of girls AREN'T like that. A lot of people aren't able to roll their eyes and walk in the opposite direction when a blow like this comes their way, which is why cyberbullying is such an issue in today's culture.

So as a result, this "gentleman" received this message in response (pardon the grammar errors - I was enraged):


We're living in a weird, weird world where dating online is the norm. I'm shocked when I meet couples who met out there, in the real world. What's sad is that I'm even more shocked when I meet people who are actually a "Tinder Success Story" - since I can count the number of these relationships on one hand. My sister's best friend just entered into one of these relationships and the three of us had a full convo last night about how rare (and exciting) that situation really is. True gentlemen are hard to find. So if you've snagged one, hold him tight. 

To the rest of us who are still stuck playing this game: keep on keeping on and don't allow the Tinder assholes of the world make you feel like you're small. You're strong. You're beautiful. You can flaunt whatever body parts you're comfortable flaunting. It's your body, your life, do with it whatever your heart desires. 

Eleanor Roosevelt brilliantly said: "No one can make you feel inferior without your consent."

This guy doesn't know that I graduated Magna Cum Laude from college. Or that I've spent thousands of hours in the car commuting to countless jobs to build a career for myself. He doesn't know that my heart has been broken and that I've done things that I've sincerely regretted doing. He doesn't know where I've traveled and he doesn't know the last place I was truly happy. He doesn't know these things because he doesn't know me. He doesn't know my story, and I don't know his. And even IF he did, he STILL has absolutely no right to call me names for being uninterested in him.

You're allowed to stand up for yourself and others if anyone, any where, makes you doubt who you are as an individual. You are allowed to say NO. You are allowed to recognize when something is not okay or when something makes you uncomfortable. No man, especially a random stranger on some random site who has no idea of you or your story, should ever be able to hold your body, your sexuality or your appearance against you. 

#swipeleftasfastasyoucan

Sunday, July 24, 2016

on auditioning for 'the bachelor'

I do a lot of things for this blog. And I'm willing to do a lot of ridiculous things in life, mainly since I'm a collector of stories and love being able to tell people (in detail) about the crazy things that happen. 

So, that all being said, a very patient friend and I ventured out to Costa Mesa yesterday afternoon to audition for the upcoming season of "The Bachelor". 

Let it be known - I have literally NEVER watched "The Bachelor" before. I'm watching "The Bachelorette" this season for the first time cause I wanted to see what all the hype was about. Most of the time, I just wind up yelling at my television: "YOU HAVE KNOWN HER FOR TWO WEEKS. YOU AREN'T IN LOVE WITH HER!!!" It's hard to understand how full-grown adults can go on national television and make fools of themselves for a person they barely even know.

Yet somehow, I found myself at the Costa Mesa casting call yesterday afternoon. I think a part of me was curious to see what it was all about; to learn about the process of finding regular people who are genuinely interested in finding love on national television. Another part of me was going cause I figured it would just be an entertaining blog post. And a tiny, tiny part of me was actually holding on to a bit of hope that maybe this could be something good.

It feels like a lifetime since I've sat down and actually written about dating. Last year, it was an activity that I really threw myself into. I had ALL of the apps (and even some website subscriptions) and I was going on dates pretty much every other night.

I don't know if the word "jaded" is a good way of describing my feels about the whole dating scene today - but it comes close. There have been a lot of almosts. People that I genuinely liked and/or cared about, which ultimately wound up just going nowhere. 

These past six months, my approach to dating has been a lot more relaxed. Gone are the days where I go on a date every other night. Gone are the days where I lay in bed upset over some guy I met online who really didn't care about me in the long run. These days, I only have one app on my phone (of which I can only access when I'm in a wifi zone) and I barely even check that. 

One of my girlfriends, when I told her that I was going to the casting call, asked, "Are you going actually looking for love and engagement with one of those dudes? I feel like everyone just goes on to get famous...no one goes on for love anymore and all they do is be annoying on Instagram."

I genuinely felt like I was going to this casting call with good intentions. Dating on TV can't be worse than dating online, right? The chances of me actually making it on the show are slim to none, but I figured that I have nothing to lose and it's on a day off and I would just be sitting at the pool anyways, so why not give it a shot?

---

I got to my friend's house in Hollywood and after giving me a once-over, he insisted that we run to Zara to grab a different dress than the one I was wearing. This resulted in me literally changing into a new outfit in The Grove parking lot. We opted out of an overly revealing look and went with a white dress since we were like, "duh, they're looking for a wife for this guy, so obviously I should look bridal and angelic..."

Dress: Zara; Shoes: Steve Madden; Sunnies: Ray Ban; Necklace: Madewell

After sitting in dreaded 405 traffic forever, we got to the casting call around 2pm and after signing in and having my photo (up-close and full body) taken, I was given a very large packet to fill out. This thing was probably 15 pages and even included contracts that I had to sign in case I actually made it on to the show...


Here's evidence of me carefully considering questions, such as:

"What are you looking for in an ideal mate?"
and
"What are three adjectives that would surprise people about you?"


The room full of hopefuls. The casting was open for both men and women (for either show)- but the number of women FAR exceeded the number of men looking to audition. 



Here's a snap of my friend and I cause we were both beyond bored while waiting in line. He spent his time chasing Pokemon, so at least he was occupied for the majority of the time.


We then waited in one line, to get moved to another room where I waited in another line (this time on chairs) while they slowly called people into meeting rooms to be put on camera. We were especially thankful for the fact that the whole thing took place indoors, since I had read online that different castings required the potential hopefuls to wait in line outside.

I was literally the next person in line to be called into the room to talk to a casting director and by that point, I was pretty much over waiting for this whole experience and I'm pretty sure my friend could tell, based on his edit:


Two hours after initially signing in, I finally got brought into a meeting room where a nice casting lady (with some stellar glasses) hooked me up to a microphone. She had me say my name, age, place of residence and occupation to the camera - then began asking me a series of questions to get an idea about if I would be a good candidate for the show. 

Naturally, she asked me about my dating history. I told her about how I was in a long relationship and after that ended a year and a half ago, I had been trying to stay afloat in the dating world. She asked a couple of personal follow-up questions, but it was pretty much exactly what I was expecting. 

Then she asked me to tell her something interesting about myself. I told her about this blog and about how writing is something that allows me to try and stay honest and authentic in a world which feels like everyone is trying to be something that they're not. 

The interview ended after I had been in the room for about five minutes, which was pretty standard based on what I was seeing while sitting and waiting outside. She thanked me for coming in and told me I should hear something, if I'm selected as a semi-finalist, by the beginning of August.

--

I left the casting with a weird taste in my mouth. It was nothing personal, since everyone at the event was super polite and friendly, but the experience as a whole had us raising our eyebrows about the nature of love and image as a whole.

For one thing, there was a severe lack of diversity in the girls who showed up to audition. There were no women of color and, for the most part, all the girls there were tall and thin with their hair expertly done and their long legs on display as they walked around in tiny rompers or dresses. True, we were in Orange County, but we walked into the room and EVERY single person in there was white.

I'd say the average age of the girls auditioning was around 22. 

Think about it. 22 years old and willing to go on a show where they are expected to MARRY someone at the end of it. I sat there observing and listening to the conversations that were taking place. Most of the girls surrounding me were talking about how they were home for summer vacation and were headed to Disneyland the next day, or how they had just graduated college and had to start looking for their first jobs. I heard one girl complaining about some guy that wasn't texting her back and one group of ladies talking about how they got super wasted the night before. One girl gave our whole section a speech about her dress and where/when/how she acquired it. At one point I looked up and the entire row of girls across from me (six girls in total) were taking selfies of themselves on their phones, complete with the signature pout that you see all over Instagram these days.

All I could think as I sat there (being one of the older girls in attendance at the ripe old age of 25) was: "NONE OF YOU HAVE LIVED YET!" 

None of you have actually worked, or had your heart broken, or had to hustle to achieve something massive, or be financially independent for yourself. Why on earth do you want to subject yourself to a life on reality TV where you may or may not find love, but it's 100% certain you will be publicly ridiculed on national television (you agree to it in the contract that we all signed when we first got there)?

It just made me think about the lengths people will go these days for notoriety. Like my friend who I quoted at the beginning of this essay said, people are going on these shows and literally saying YES to getting married to a practical stranger - mainly for the chance to become Instagram famous for five minutes. 

--

We got back to my friend's apartment and I took of my white dress and we snapped some pictures a la Terry Richardson against a wall that he has in his apartment...


I had to take a second to remind myself that my body and my identity is beautiful - even if isn't necessarily what the 'ideal' is in terms of casting a reality television show. I'm a petite, curvy girl. I have boobs, I have a butt. And when I walked into the holding room yesterday afternoon, I instantly knew that there was no chance in hell that I would get cast, which reminded me why I quit my short lived acting career all those years ago.

After leaving that casting call, I realized that I don't WANT to marry some guy I meet on national television. Here I was, a girl who had my heart broken and lived to tell the tale, sitting and waiting to be interviewed by a casting director to potentially marry SOME guy (identity TBD).

I get that yes, people do find love on this show, but that's not that kind of love I want. I don't want a relationship that I have to compete for with a bunch of other young, blonde hopefuls, that's pretty much contrived by producers to make good TV. I want something honest and natural and real - and I just don't think that's honestly something that can be found in a casting room in Costa Mesa. 

I'm not a cookie cutter version of anyone else. I HAVE LIVED MY LIFE. I have scars on my body (and my heart) that prove that I have hustled and moved and had epic adventures, and I've done what I have to do to make my life the one that I want. And eventually, I will meet someone who accepts me for who I am, who has approached living his life the same way. But why rush? 

I'm 25. I have no desire to get married at this point in my life. I prefer to run around and have a blast and travel and explore and work my ass off to achieve my goals and eventually, love and marriage will be something that presents itself and when it does, it will be a beautiful thing. 

But until that happens, I'm just happy being me. The girl in the pink lace (not in the white dress), partially buzzed off a homemade Moscow Mule, trying to stay cool in an apartment on a summer day in California. 
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