Thursday, October 31, 2013

Motherly Advice

Before coming to town with my dad for a family event, my mother asked if she could extend her stay, solo, for a few extra days.  Against my better judgment (we were not on great terms), I told her that she could stay as many extra days as she was willing to cook, clean, and buy things I needed for my apartment.  She stayed two extra days.  She cooked once.
What she did, instead, after moving from her weekend stay in the suburbs to my apartment downtown, was use those two days to observe, superficially, my daily anxiety-ridden routine, gathering ammunition and plotting her attack.
Her last morning in Chicago, she offered to drop me off at work before heading to the airport.  We stood by the door putting on our shoes as she ever-so casually began, “I know you think you’re quirky and it’s cute, but your anxiety is ruining your life.”
She was referencing an article I wrote about how quirky is suddenly and oddly trending and how relieving that is for girls like me.  An article, mind you, she would not have even known existed had I not sent it to her – as a courtesy – making her unsolicited negative twist on it that much more impudent.  Regardless, the blasé nature with which she delivered this segue (and calling it a segue is even generous) did not properly indicate what was about to unfold.
Reeling from that, we’ll call it, thesis statement that had the subtlety of a bull in a china shop, I tuned out for a minute, trying to get my bearings.  Her battle tactics were smart, catching me off-guard with no time to prepare.  I tuned back in just in time to hear the words “birth control.”  Context unknown.
            “Oh, I’m off birth control,” I jumped in, hoping that factoid would be both relevant and satisfactory.
            “Yeah, all that means to me is that you’re still not having sex.”
The disappointment was palpable.  I wonder if, had I told her that I had accidentally gotten knocked up after my shift at the strip club, she would have exhibited delight or even pride.  She paused in the elevator and I hoped with every fiber of my being that it was over. 
Clambering into the car, I felt wounded, weakened from the attack.  Like Voldemort, she fed off my weakness; it energized her, made her feel only more powerful, more entitled.
“You know, Jamie, this should be the best time of your life.  You should be enjoying yourself, sleeping around.  You don’t want to marry the first guy you have sex with. / Don’t you want to be dating?  And I know you want kids.  If you didn’t want kids, it wouldn’t matter, but I know you do. / Why do you refuse to take anxiety medication?  I think it would help you.  Do you know why you won’t, I mean, is there a reason?”
She went on. 
And on. 
And on.  And somewhere in a last wave of assertions came the very bold intimation that if I don’t start putting out, I will never be able to get someone to date me.
I’m not even really sure where to begin with that.  Why is the implication that I don’t have enough other, if any, good qualities that would be worth someone’s time?  That all I could really offer someone is sexuality and I’m not even doing that? 
More importantly, why is it that though there are plenty of people who ask significant others to wait for marriage (which I’m not doing) and even more people who expect to be dating someone for longer than an hour before having sex with them, that my expectations about intimacy are unreasonable?  Sex, for these obvious freaks, isn’t a way to lure someone in, it’s a step in a relationship.  (I’d imagine it falls somewhere between having dinner and moving in together.)  And yet, somehow, my asking someone to be a little patient (What’s the rule? Six dates?) is different.  But, is it? 
Maybe she’s right.  Maybe the root cause of my singleness is a lack of sexual connection.  (Or maybe it’s just a lack of Jesus because those kids seem to have it all figured out.)
And then, this happened.  Two weeks ago, I went to Florida for a wedding; the rest of the bridal party and I got in on Thursday for the combo bachelor/bachelorette party.  The girls started the evening with a nice dinner before going to meet the boys, the bride obligatorily covered in penis paraphernalia.
One glass of wine in, I received back-to-back texts from my mother (in California):
Crazy Moobs (how my mother appears in my phone):  Jamie.  Do you remember when you had your first drink and you said to me I can’t believe I wasted all that time.  Well…
Crazy Moobs:  You don’t need to repeat that text to your friends :)  I love you.  Have a great weekend.
Very confused not only as to why this conversation needed to be happening right then (she knew where I was and what I was doing), but mostly, what the conversation was, I asked the obvious follow-up questions, like what the hell she was talking about and why I wasn’t allowed to share that I was destined to be a lush.  She responded with an equally obvious observation that I was “missing” what she was saying.  She continued:
                        Crazy Moobs:  My text isn’t appropriate.
                        Jamie:  I don’t think I understand what’s happening.  Can you start over
                        Jamie:  R u drunk
Crazy Moobs:  No I’m not drunk.  I’m trying to tell you not to be a 30 year old virgin
I laughed partly because of my inability to have any other kind of reaction given my current surroundings, though it was mostly out of discomfort.
            Jamie:  Hahaha why r u texting me that right now
Crazy Moobs:  I’m not sure why I’m texting it right now.  It just came to me that you said that about drinking and you are wasting time.
Presumed Meaning:  She knew I was getting drunk on a vacation in Florida and assumed a bachelorette party/wedding would be the perfect opportunity to get drunk and get laid.
Crazy Moobs:  OMG can you imagine grandma saying that to me
I’m actually still not sure whether that was to imply her level of sluttiness in her younger days (and therefore lack of need for a talk like this) or my Grandmother’s better sense of tact.
Jamie:  No. I can’t even imagine you saying it to me.
Crazy Moobs:  I know but let’s get with the program

            Another “successful” sex talk from my mother.

Adventures in Snapchatting (The Dirty Hipster, Part II)

As first seen on HelloGiggles

Cornelius is a rail-thin dirty hipster (he is as disinterested in food as he is in washing his hair) who recently quit his job at an ad agency to pursue photography, whose mustache gets mixed reactions from all who encounter it, and whose passion is inspiring.  His aversion to texting effectually makes you feel omni-important when you’re with him and frustrated when you’re not.  And after an unfortunately long string of dates that ranged from horrid to eh, it felt nice to actually feel something.  Did I mention he’s the son of a minister?  What can I say?  Little Jewish hearts want what they want.
I will embarrassingly admit (only embarrassing if he reads this) that he was the first guy in a long time about whom I got a little excited.
            And this is when Snapchat entered my life.
Snapchat, an iPhone app I can only assume was invented with the intention of facilitating d*ck pics (pictures self destruct Inspector Gadget-style after a predetermined number of seconds) is the most narcissistic form of digital communication yet.  People send pictures of themselves and/or what they’re doing without any recognition of or response to the picture they have just received, creating two simultaneous, but totally separate, self-involved conversation threads.  Since the d*ck pic revolution, Snapchat has been adopted by teenagers who use it to send their friends mildly embarrassing photos.  Of course, by teenagers, I mean 20-somethings who are desperate for yet another way to avoid actually talking to each other.
Once finally convinced by a (bad) friend to experience Snapchat for myself – because it’s “fun” – I discovered that it is just another communication device on which I will have to learn how to be cool, which is essentially inherently impossible.  So far, it has served just as a way to prove further that I have no digital game.  It’s literally the worst.
While I only recently allowed Snapchat into my home and my heart, my familiarity with it dates back quite a bit.  I was first introduced to Snapchat through a family friend who has consistently Snapchatted with her long-distance on-again/off-again boyfriend since its emersion onto the scene.  I would watch, slightly baffled, as she made a weird face, snapped a pic, then smiled to herself as she sent it along.  Unfortunately, this boy is as confusing as they come and her barometer of his feelings for her depends almost solely on who initiates Snapchat and/or how long it takes him to reciprocate.
My family friend’s mom, feeling unable to offer solid advice on dating in the digital age, sends me updates of the daily drama and seeks my opinion/advice (which is confusing to me both because of this guy’s inconsistent behavior and because I don’t quite understand why anyone would want my dating advice).  Having entered into a similarly Snapchat-based communication pattern with Cornelius (now more colloquially known as Dirty Hipster), I answer the best I can, drawing comparison to what has been happening with DH and me, but convincing myself it is somehow different.  (The only even halfway justification I can come up with for why I have allowed this extensive Snapchatting to continue is that while I am a writer and prefer written communication, he is a photographer and prefers visual.  Just let me have it.)
For a while, I was getting multiple Snapchats a day from Dirty Hipster; he would share his latest work-induced injury, videos of him on his bike or at the bar, and my favorite, pictures of himself with a simple “Hey” scribbled on it.  Snapchat can be oddly flirtatious.  Or maybe just perceived as oddly flirtatious.  Regardless, however impersonal I thought texting was before, I now miss the days of full-length text conversations. 
Recently, I found myself seeking the input of friends, contemplating the same things that once plagued me with AIM and texting.  (How long do I wait to respond?  Well, he initiated yesterday, so can I message him today?  Does he like me or is he just bored?  How big of a factor is it that he just split with his girlfriend of two years?)
And every time I hear myself referencing Snapchat interactions as though they are any type of legitimate indication of anything, I immediately am forced to reevaluate my life.
About two weeks ago, my family friend’s boyfriend made it official that they were off again just as DH’s communication, aka the frequency of Snapchats, began tapering out.  I should probably mention that my family friend is 14-years-old.  And as our dating lives aligned, I realized I am living a life directly parallel to that of a pre-pubescent teenager. 

As disappointed as I am about Dirty Hipster, this is the saddest part of all.