As crazy as it sounds

Note of minor importance: I think I wrote this back in February/March and I’m just now posting. Oops!

You keep trying to ask me why. Why I’m still here, why I love you, why…. idk what exactly the rest of that question is, but it’s something to that effect.

At risk of sounding cliché: you make me laugh, I’m way too comfortable around you, and it’s all so easy, still.

But it’s also about the things you’re not: you’re not jealous, or bitter, or untrusting/untrustworthy. I’ve dated those people and none of them are fun.

It’s even simpler than that, though: you get things done, I don’t have to nag. If I need you to do something, you do it. I mentioned before that you’re not a child, you can take care of yourself. You laughed and said my standards must not be that high, but you haven’t met my exes.

Most of all… you actually want me to tell you what I think. You don’t ask out of obligation, you actually want to know. You want to know what I want. My desires matter! You change things or do things because of me! Because you want me to be happy, I guess? That never happens! You know I hate the smell of smoke so you switched to e-cigs. I noticed. I didn’t think it had anything to do with me, but I noticed. I noticed awhile ago, I just didn’t think it was because of me. I almost cried when I found out that was why.

You come across as an asshole. Sometimes you’re actually an asshole. You are shockingly blunt and way too honest at times, but that same characteristic makes you insanely genuine. Nothing you do or say is because you think it’s what I want to hear. All of it is only the truth (for better or worse).

Yet behind all the dickish comments and brutal truths, you care more than anyone else I’ve ever been with.

I don’t mean to compare you to anyone else. I think I’m just trying to say that based on my experience, I didn’t think anyone like you actually existed. The little things mean a lot.

You had this way of catching me off-guard early on. I’d run errands with you and have more fun than I would have ever thought possible in that situation. You’d make some off-hand comment that was EXACTLY what I needed at the time. When I was starting my ‘experiment with hedonism’ and actually trying to be selfish, you made some comment like “just do you. do what you want and fuck everyone else.” I swear to god I almost fell in love with you right then.  Oddly/fittingly enough I think I even wrote this the day I met you: Experimenting with Hedonism.

It all sounds ridiculous, maybe. But I’ve never had anyone change their behavior – no matter how simple of a change it is – just to make me that little ounce happier. I’ve never had someone who would go out of their way – no matter how tiny the inconvenience – just to make something happen for me. I’ve rarely had someone follow through on any/all of their plans or promises. Sometimes people remember I don’t like olives- but they never remember I don’t like olives, pickles, mustard, spinach, and jalapeños. You remember things that I say. I’m always amazed by that.

Each thing by itself isn’t much I suppose. But all of it together? That’s just crazy.

 

Consistency, not Commitment.

it’s great seeing your name on my screen

One fucking text, and I fall apart all over.

Long story short, I needed someone to go with me to this thing, sort of last minute. So I’m texting all my usual people in the area, then I start texting boys I haven’t talked to in months just on a long shot, hoping they’re free. Boys that I liked, it just didn’t work out or whatever. Then I decide to text Remy, assuming he won’t answer me. He decides to respond, though. He can’t go, but ends his rejection with:

it’s great seeing your name on my screen.

Well then maybe you shouldn’t have disappeared, asshat!

Unfortunately, sometimes I still miss him. Remy and I weren’t technically dating, we only saw each other for a few months… but he was this magical, fleeting, shooting star and I just wish I had him around to bounce ideas off of every once in awhile.

What is it with these shooting stars? The boys that can still tug at me like no one else after months, years even, are the ones who weren’t around very long. Everything with them heated up quickly – the star burned hot and bright – and then before I knew it they were gone. Before I could even make a wish, they had disappeared.


Back in middle or high school, I used to tell people who were desperate for a boyfriend that if they stopped looking, good things would find them. Back then I think I was starting to realize the concept of: “maybe don’t be so desperate and boys will find you more attractive,” or, “confidence is sexy – act like you don’t give a fuck!”

Maybe it’s time I take my own advice. Not that I was desperately trying before, but I’ve decided I’m done with the internet dating thing.

I want to meet someone in a coffee shop one day, or accidentally run into someone when I’m out exploring my city. As a writer, I have this need for a good ‘how we met’ story. Something – anything – other than, “well, we both swiped right….”

I want a shooting star, but they’re all afraid of commitment. I get that, because I am too. Yet the ones ready to commit, the steady North Stars, can draw me in and keep me there for months before I realize what’s happened. I end up following along, heading in the same direction towards something I don’t even want. I fall into a rhythm and I don’t even realize I’m unhappy until I realize I’ve been unhappy for awhile.

What I need isn’t commitment. I don’t need to get married or move in with anyone. I just want… consistency. I want a more consistent shooting star. Someone to hang out with, that likes some of the same things I do. Someone who is crazy about me and can make me giggle like a child.

Maybe I need to shoot for the moon instead of another star. Ever-changing yet constant. The biggest, the brightest. Or even the sun – I spend enough time in darkness, I need someone who can bring me out of it. Someone who brings out the poet, the writer in me – but without the disappearing act.

But I’m no astronomer nor astronaut, and I’m done becoming undone over one silly text. The sun can come find me for all I care.

Sometimes, Life Isn’t Fair.

Once upon a time I was drunk and feeling defeated about my current situation, so I wrote a letter. I almost even posted it, or sent it, or something – but I guess I was sober enough to realize it might have been a bad idea. Just to give you an idea…

Dear Fuckface,

I gave you the best four years of my life. Four years of college and I stayed faithful to you. I was surrounded by boys in their prime who hadn’t yet let themselves go, by boys willing to shower me with compliments and free drinks. Boys who would’ve maybe even given me more than that. Boys who would’ve given up so much for me, for my dreams, for my bullshit whims. Given up things the way I did for you.

I fucking hated leaving my friends behind every goddamn weekend to come see you when all you did was sit there with your roommate and play video games. Great, that’s exactly what I wanted to miss the big game or the party for, to watch you play some stupid fucking game.

And ever since he broke up with me, that’s all I would think about when I thought about that relationship – the fact that he took the best four years of my life. Like he was some sort of thief, he took them from me without warning. I could get over the fact that he would choose his smoking habit over me if there was ever an ultimatum; the fact that I was essentially worth nothing to him. Because those are his issues, and not mine. He has to live with that for the rest of his life. The relationships I had been in since then have been enough to boost my self esteem and get over that. It’s the wasted time I couldn’t get over.

But now that I’ve been an adult for a full year now (yes, I know how ridiculous that sounds), I think maybe I was wrong.

I think I have yet to see my best four years. Even this past year, I’ve crammed enough blackouts into one summer that I’m not upset about missing out on those in college. I’ve done a lot of things I never thought I’d ever get to do. Basically – the rest of my 20s could be like college, except with more money to burn and less Thirsty Thursdays. Or I could use my twenties to build an incredible career for myself. Or I could travel to places that would be impossible once (if) I have kids. The possibilities are only limited by my meager income and student loan debt but otherwise completely limitless!

So, he didn’t take my best four years. He got my stressed-out, broke-ass, freshmen-fifteen years instead. I got some of his worst years, too. We saw each other at our worst, and now someone else will get to see me at my best. Without him weighing me down I feel like I can do anything.

Despite this new revelation, it still doesn’t seem fair to me that I missed out on a lot of things in college because of him. But, as my father would say:

Life.

The downside of Ambition (Dating Limbo pt 2)

I have no idea what I’m doing. I’m terrible at this.

That’s my POF headline. It also happens to be what I say to myself – about almost anything – on a daily basis. Sometimes it’s work, sometimes it’s coaching soccer, sometimes it’s this very blog.

If I’m not the very best at something then I’m disappointed in myself. I’ve been in the exact same job for almost a year now, and because I’ve made no upward progress, I’m basically failing. I realize this trait in myself, and sometimes I can calm myself down but usually it just makes me more angry and frustrated.

I’ve always thought of myself as a perfectionist – but college taught me that I am more than okay with “good enough”. However, the combination of being ambitious and being a control freak is what might drive me to insanity. I want to have control over everything, and I want to be the best at everything – but I’m also incredibly lazy and easily demoralized by setbacks. I’m never settled or truly happy for very long. In my career, personal life, hobbies, or even physical appearance – I know I can do better, should be better, have been better once.

I don’t believe I’ve ever had the perfect relationship, or the perfect job. But I take the best parts of all my past experiences and want the next thing to be better than all the best parts. It makes dating a real pain in the ass. If one tiny thing reminds me of an ex in a bad way, I immediately want to break it off. I hold myself to an impossible standard, as well as those around me.

I have no idea what I’m doing. I’m terrible at this.

I’m seeing this guy right now – let’s call him Alfredo – and I can’t help but link his video gaming habit to an ex of mine. I can’t rule out all video gamers; I’d be left with maybe 10 guys in my age bracket and geographic location. Early on in my dating experiences, the minute someone reminded me of an ex – the way they acted, words they used – I immediately stopped seeing them. I’m trying to get over that. So Alfredo sometimes does things I don’t always like, has some habits I could do without… but he’s also the most fun I’ve ever had with a date-type person, even when we’re doing the simplest of things. I’ve gotten comfortable with him very quickly, and it’s just very simple and easy and wonderful. He’s more of a safe bet than some of the guys I’ve been with in the past. Yet, I’m still scared. Lately, the safe bet guys have been more scary to me than any bad-boy-wannabe. Maybe because I’ve learned that sometimes the good guy isn’t always as good as he seems.

It’s also frustrating because I have no idea how dating works. And as that ambitious control freak, I want to know everything and be good at all of it. Not understanding the dating game makes me even more angry that I didn’t get to date in college. I still have text conversations with boys from POF or Tinder that I’ve met before, and I feel like I should shut those down, I hate leading people on. I hate being led on. I’ve been seeing Alfredo for a month or two and when does that become shady? It isn’t “official” with Alfredo, and I don’t even know if that’s what I want anyway. But I like his taste in music and the fact that I can be ridiculous in front of him. He can cook. The ability to cook is such a small thing, but the time it takes for me to fall for someone is severely shortened when I see them in their element, and especially when that element happens to be in the kitchen. He continues to surprise me, and makes me laugh all day long. There’s a slight chance I’m over-thinking all of this, too. Maybe I’m just scared.

I’m scared that another failed relationship means one more thing I can’t get right. Either way, I’m not ready to dive in head first, but I’m not ready to let go yet either. There’s no explosive chemistry, but there’s staying power and a level of comfort with him. Maybe that’s more important.

I have no idea what I’m doing. I’m terrible at this.

And maybe being lost for awhile is okay. Someone needs to remind my ambition of that.

Should I Be Worried?

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Last season, when I was getting my soccer bag ready for the first day of practice, I tried to think of everything I might possibly need. Besides the balls and cones I was given, I also packed any extra pairs of shin guards I had and an air pump. I even bought a whistle. I added my first aid kit from my car, because kids are clumsy. I was coaching girls, so I also added lots of extra hair ties and pre-wrap (even though most are too young to even care if their hair is up or down when they play… I have no idea how anyone does anything with their hair down).

This year, I’m doing the same thing. Equipment is all laid out. But since I’m coaching boys (15 of them, all aged roughly 10-12 years old) instead of girls this year, I’m not going to pack the hair ties.

I’m going to be honest – I’m really worried about coaching boys this time.

I wasn’t too concerned at first, in fact I was even excited to be a positive female role model! I was excited that the boys play with more players on the field, so the game might be more similar to what I’m used to. I was excited about returning to the soccer pitch, in general, in whatever capacity.

But then, people got in the way of my excitement:

  • My mother made the comment, “at that age, some of them might have a crush on you.”
  • Playing trivia with a few guys I just met, they made comments like “The girl got one right!” or, “You like sports? Girls never like sports. Why do you like sports?”
  • “You don’t think the dads will think that’s weird?”
  • “Huh, well I hope you can handle it all by yourself!”

I know these boys I’m coaching are going to make their own comments. I know they aren’t old enough to understand what they’re saying. Hell, even when I coached girls they made comments that were painful, but for different reasons. Many of them wouldn’t do proper push-ups, because “girls are weaker than boys”. Which, I struggle with that even though biologically it might be true – but at their age, it’s not true at all. At 10-12 years old, girls have started hitting the growth spurts that boys won’t see for another 3-4 years. Even if the boys were/are stronger/faster/taller – you’re going to just give up!? You aren’t even going to try, because there’s an implied limit on what you think you can do? It just hurts. Unfortunately I didn’t see this video until after the season ended.

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Practices start next week. Just like at the start of anything new, I have to figure out who I’m going to be. The tough coach? The fun one? Soft-spoken or whistle-blowing? But because I’m female, coaching a bunch of boys, there’s an added layer of issues I have to think about. What do I do if they don’t listen? How will I prove myself to them, that I know this game inside and out?

So I’m packing a bunch of internal things in the coaching bag this year instead of hair ties. Confidence, a louder voice, and the knowledge that I’ll have better form and distance than these punks. They’ll challenge me to prove myself every week and I will meet their challenges, because I can.

I always love a good challenge.

Fearless.

I’ve only known this guy for a couple weeks. We met online. We’ve played bar trivia a few times, I’ve met his dog. I went with him to run errands last weekend. I give him shit about his busted bracket (who the hell picks Northern Iowa to play in the National Championship game?).

Friday afternoon, he texts me and asks if I want to come with him to a wedding reception the next day. It’s two friends from his hometown that got married, so I would be meeting his parents. Probably staying at their house. It’s about an hour away, and he says the wedding is super casual; he’s just wearing his “regular clothes”.

I had no plans for the weekend. I need to go shopping, but that requires money. I need to clean my apartment, but I know I won’t. I could go see my mom, but I do that almost every other weekend.

I’d seen this guy seven out of the previous 11 days. Neither one of us knows many people in town, and we both like drinking and he’s just easy to be around.

But still – I’ve known this guy for less than two weeks, and I’m supposed to meet his parents? I haven’t even begun to think about what I want from him, but I guess what better way to think about it than to see what his parents are like. So I say sure, I’ll go. Why the hell not. In true hedonist fashion, I just say “fuck it! free booze? hell yeah!”

Whether it was the wanderlusty adventurer or devil-may-care hedonist, I’m glad that part of me was making the decisions. I explored a new city! I drank, which made the introverted part of me more relaxed. We had amazing pizza in this tiny little restaurant in his hometown. We went to a bar that only serves canned beer, and I almost kicked his ass in pool. His parents are even really, really awesome. Luckily, they didn’t ask how we met at first. Then they finally did, and I was hoping he would answer so I didn’t have to, but he was in another room. So after a pause I said, “well, online actually…” and his mom just says “Oh that’s not so bad, I met his dad in a bar! And he was too shy, so I had to pick him up.” We played drinking games on the Wii, and it turns out I’m a lot better at Wii golf than I am at real golf.

So no, I didn’t go skydiving or finally decide to move across the country. But this small leap, this extra ounce of ‘fuck it’, this spontaneous decision… means I can only move up from here. I still don’t know what I want from this guy, I still don’t know what the fuck I’m doing on a daily basis, but each step like this is getting me back to the fearless girl I used to be; the fearless person I want to be.

Are you okay? What do you want? Why aren’t you happy?

After months of not knowing, maybe I’ve finally figured it out.

I just want one goddamn thing in my life to make sense. To be a constant. Something reliable, something I’m good at, something that makes me feel good.

I had that, I had a rock (a stone, maybe only a pebble), for four years. As much as I hate that rock for dragging me down during college and then letting go at the worst possible moment, I don’t know if I could have make it through the uncertainty of college without that rock. The longer I had my rock, my pebble, the more I relied upon him. And sometimes, honestly, that rock wasn’t very good at being solid, at being there for me. (Maybe he was really more of a squishy, flaky pebble) But at least the pebble was predictable and made sense. I knew what to expect. I knew where my life with this squishy pebble was going, even if I didn’t know where other parts of my life were going. I had this squishy pebble to hold on to, even if he wasn’t always holding on to me in the same way, or wasn’t capable of being in love with me the same way all the time. At least he was there. So since he left I still haven’t been able to get solid footing, despite being over him. It was the constant he provided that I’m still trying to figure out. Up until now I’ve been trying to figure out my dating life, find a replacement squishy pebble. What I need now, though, is more than that – I need a solid rock this time.

Maybe my rock this time doesn’t have to be a relationship. It probably won’t be my job, not for awhile, but it could be something else. There’s more to life than boys and careers, right? I suppose friends and family are constants – but not in the same way. There’s a sort of obligation for them to stick around; rocks by default aren’t the same as rocks by choice.

In that same vein, I don’t believe in doing things like taking a year to “work on myself”. I don’t believe I should avoid dating just because I need to find a constant that doesn’t involve a boy. I don’t believe in forgoing one thing because I need to focus on something else. Maybe it’s my “I can do it all” mentality or the fact that I wouldn’t know where to start with something like ‘focusing on my career’. But regardless, I don’t believe in exclusion.

The rock doesn’t always have to be a boy, but it could be. It doesn’t have to be a person, really. I just need a constant, a more solid rock this time. No more squishy pebbles.

Maybe this blog is a start. I think before the squishy pebble, writing was the thing for me that made sense. Maybe this time it’ll be my ever-growing love of wine and food, or the ever-more habitual exercise routine. I don’t know. I just know I need something, a rock to orbit my life around. Something, anything – that makes the rest of my uncertain life make sense.

Feminist in Limbo – Boys Will Be Boys

I still remember the first time I realized sexism was a very real thing.

I played soccer, and in my hometown that meant playing coed. Because of the lack of interest in soccer in my hometown, especially for girls, this usually meant I was one of very few girls on the “coed” team. Other teams we played didn’t always have a coed team, so we played the all boys teams by default, I guess. Defense was my usual position at the time. One particular game, this boy on the other team, their favored striker, kept attacking the side I was defending. Which is fairly normal; people will tend to stick to the side of the field and the foot they’re more comfortable with. But after several attempts to score on that side of the field without success, most people will switch it up and try something else. They’ll try it up the middle, they’ll try to pass – something! This guy just kept coming at me though. Eventually I moved over to the other side of the field to give me a break from playing constant defense against this guy. Except now this kid is coming at me on this side too! I thought it was strange, but just kept playing. Then, this kid brings the ball up the field and one of his teammates (likely tired of this ball hog) calls for him to pass the ball, because he’s going to lose it if he keeps headed in my direction. Instead of passing the ball to his completely open teammate, he just says “I got it! I can beat the girl.”

I can beat the girl.

I didn’t really think too much of it at the time, I was busy getting the ball away from this kid, but later I realized why he kept bringing the ball up whatever side I was on. He thought I was an easy target. That because I’m a girl, I couldn’t defend against him. That as the ‘weaker sex’ I couldn’t keep up.

Later in the game I stole the ball from him and made him look like a fool, and he eventually stopped bringing the ball up my side. I like to think I taught him a lesson that he kept with him for the rest of his life but I think that may be unrealistic. Stories like this happen all the time, even for younger girls and adult women.

And you know what the most common response is, when I ask why boys say and do things like this? Why they exhibit blatant sexism, why they’re jerks to girls for no reason?

“Boys will be boys,” as if it’s completely out of their control. Yet we’re the weaker sex.


In the professional and international soccer world this type of thing still exists, most recently with the current controversy over using turf in the upcoming Women’s World Cup:

Come to think of it, perhaps there is no better evidence that this boils down to sexism than the stance taken by female soccer players. No one has more to lose than they do. Nobody would be more willing to play this World Cup on turf, if they truly believed there was no other way, if they truly believed it was fair.

Female athletes are taking action because no one else is, because not enough people seem to care.

And that’s exactly what FIFA is counting on.

FIFA, the soccer governing body, is known for being pretty corrupt. But this is something else; this is low even for those guys. I get upset when FIFA does things that are biased against the US, like putting the men’s team in the Group of Death nearly every World Cup, but I can’t handle the way they’re dealing with the women’s tournament. Yes, I am happy the women have their own tournament, and I’m so happy with the leaps and bounds that have been made even in my short lifetime.

I’m just asking FIFA not to take a giant leap backward on this one. Don’t show those boys that you think women are the weaker sex, that women deserve less. Show the world you value the women’s game as much as the men’s. Give the fans, and the players, what they want. Doing good business means including the girls, too. Boys will be boys, but men don’t have to be.

What are you afraid of?

I’m afraid of public speaking. I’m afraid of confrontation. I’m afraid to tell someone bad news… I’m afraid to tell someone I’m unhappy.

In the beginning I told him when he was being an idiot. Then slowly, I stopped fighting. That fucker wore me down, and took the fight right out of me. Instead of fighting and losing every time, I just stopped fighting.

I wish I had kept fighting.

Feminism in Limbo: Chapter 6

In college I took an Organizational Behavior class as part of the business school curriculum. The class was too easy; the grade based entirely on 3 multiple-choice exams that were based entirely on the textbook. I went to class anyway, because the professor was amazing, funny, and had wonderful stories to tell.

But one thing that stuck out from that class, was a chapter on gender and a very distinct difference between the genders I’d never really noticed before, but it made sense. (I’m paraphrasing a bit and it’s been awhile, so bear with me). Women, when they complain or have a problem, typically want sympathy or someone to listen to them. Men expect a solution. So when a woman is telling you about their awful day, and then this guy is trying to solve the problem, when all she wants is someone to empathize with her… or vis-versa, a man is telling a female about his awful day, and he wants the problem to go away, but this girl is just giving him all this sympathy he doesn’t want. You can see where this could lead to frustration.

The professor then went on to explain why this happens, why the difference exists (again, paraphrasing):

When a little kid falls down, parents (dads especially), will often treat a boy differently than a girl. If their little girl falls down, a dad will rush to the rescue, and make sure everything is ok. If a boy falls down, dad will tell him to get up and brush it off, maybe even say something like “dirt don’t hurt” and expect the boy to be on his way. This make girls accustomed to receiving sympathy when they fall, and boys are just told to get up, you’ll feel better, problem solved.

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My dad, seen in the picture holding me over a fence (which I’m pretty sure he wasn’t supposed to do) wasn’t that kind of dad. If my brother fell down, Dad told him to get up and brush it off. If I fell down, I was told the exact same thing. At times, I sort of hated him for this. If anything, my dad pushed me a lot harder than he pushed my brother – whether academics, or sports, or other hobbies – he was always telling me where I could be better. I got an A; he’d ask why I didn’t get an A+. My team won a soccer game; he told me I looked a little tired toward the end, and I should get myself in better shape.

This gets to be exhausting after awhile. I just wanted to be celebrated for my accomplishments, not told it wasn’t good enough. That’s what I heard, every time he would ask why it wasn’t an A+.

I didn’t hear “you’re smart enough to have the top grades in all your classes,” instead I heard “this isn’t good enough.”

Now I’m an adult and understand why he did those things. A lot of people I know now who are successful, had a parent who was rough on them and was kind of an asshole. By default, kids (especially smart ones) can be lazy. They know they can be. They don’t have to study for the test, or ask questions to understand the homework. It pisses people off, but it’s true. So without that constant effing nagging – they’d continue to be lazy for the rest of their lives.

I don’t think my dad knew the ripple effect of what he was doing. The bar wasn’t set at “you did well for a girl,” but it was “did you come in absolute first place, boys or girls?” He was going to set the bar as high as possible, and not bring it down just because of my gender. He knew I was a smart kid, and wanted to make sure I reached my full potential. I was the first child, and I’m sure that’s a lot of the reason the bar was so high. It didn’t matter to my dad that I was a girl. He wouldn’t have been disappointed if my brother had been a girl, either. Even though my dad was the last chance for carrying on the family name, and without my brother the name would have died, he didn’t care. There was a lot of pressure from the family for my dad to have a boy.

“I was too worried about having a healthy baby, I didn’t care what it was as long as it was healthy,” he used to tell us. But, to the satisfaction of my aunts, a boy was born. So now the pressure is on my brother, I guess.

Even more powerful, it wasn’t because I was a girl that my dad was a pain in my ass. It was because I was smart, because I had the potential to do something real. He understood I’d have to deal with a lot worse if I was going to be a smart, successful, powerful woman someday. But he did it because he wanted his children to succeed – boy or girl.