Scary Demon Thoughts on Halloween.

Sepia Selfie. Sepia = Spookier.
Amy Poehler was on Fresh Air this week, and within five minutes, I was near tears.
Not tears of laughter, tears of solidarity.
Terry Gross referenced the “Demon Voice” in Poehler’s head–a chapter in Poehler’s new book–that says “I hate how I look,” and asked Poehler if she still hears that voice.
“Mmhm. Yeah. Every day,” Poehler replies.
And she goes on to talk about the demon voice and how the key is to learn to live with it; it never goes away. As she says, “It pokes its head out every once in while to remind me that ‘You’re ugly,’ or ‘You’re not as pretty as this person’ or whatever mean thing it wants to say.”
She offers a way to try and deal with the demon voice, and says that she’s made about 15% progress, and she feels good about that.
This whole exchange blew my mind. Have you seen Amy Poehler? She’s beautiful and funny and smart and kind and beautiful, and her demon voice still tells her she’s ugly. My brain cannot comprehend that data.
I’ve been letting the demon voice win a lot lately. In fact, I’ve been letting the demon voice bitch-slap me around for a good two months. It’s partly what led to me quitting online dating and completely giving up any hope at all that anyone will like me enough to date me more than once. The demon voice also likes to tell me that going to the gym is pointless because I’m not an athlete, I never will be an athlete, and even if I try and I happen to lose fifty pounds, I still won’t be able to find anyone who will like me enough to date me more than once. At least now, with the weight, I have something tangible to point to as a reason why I’m not dateable. Take that away, and then maybe it really is my personality after all, and I should just start wearing muumuus and quit wearing makeup and sit on a lawn and swear at kids.
(Full disclosure–I’m coming off a two-week hopefest in which I thought I might actually go on a series of dates with someone. That someone has since disappeared. So I’m irrationally vulnerable at this particular moment in time.)
But there is tiny piece of me–like Jo-Jo in “Horton Hears a Who”–telling me that maybe November is a chance to try something new. Maybe I spend November working on tiny fitness goals, like increasing my plank time or just getting 30 minutes of walking in every day. Maybe I take Sundays in November and pop in my yoga DVD and allow myself time to breathe and relax. Maybe I read something from Beauty Redefined every other day. Maybe a gratitude post here and there can be about the good things my body does for me, and the good things I do for my body.
Maybe these are ways to beat back the demon voice for the time being. I think I have to try. Because I can’t keep letting him (or let’s face it, it’s really probably a her) reduce me to a a dress size, a hairstyle (awkwardly growing mine out right now) or whether I have a date before Christmas (which will not happen).
I’m pretty sure my life is more than any of those these, even combined.

Impulsive.

I have many, many flaws. 

I am fully aware–it might be argued I’m aware to a fault–of my many flaws. And one of those flaws is that I can be impulsive. 

To wit: I’d been home from my mission for just over a month, and had been spending a lot of time with a guy I really really  liked. He was incredibly flirtatious, and I can flirt with the best of them, but I quickly grew weary of his all-flirt-but-no-action approach to our relationship. So one night after a run to Dairy Queen that included quite suggestive flirting, I pulled the car over a couple blocks before we reached his house, took off my seat belt, leaned over and kissed the living daylights out of him.
Impulsive? 
Yes. But also necessary.
He needed to put up (out?) or shut up and it was clear to me he lacked the guts (balls?) to make a move, so I did it for him.
Tonight I impulsively broke up with something that’s been breaking my heart for well over a decade: online dating.
For many years, I’ve felt it necessary to at least have a profile up on random dating websites because it’s the only way to meet guys I want to date. Except today I realized, I’m not meeting any guys I want to date. Instead, I’m not meeting any guys at all, and the ones I’d like to date don’t want to date me. 
So without much forethought, I deleted everything. There is a small part of my brain that is screaming at me what a bad idea this is, but my better angels are breathing sighs of relief that the negative side effects to online dating (and let me tell you, they are myriad) are no longer part of my life.
Impulsive? 
Yes. But also necessary.
Online dating is partly to blame for how aware I am of all my flaws, as I try to figure out why I’ve had absolutely zero success utilizing it. And I do a good enough job castigating myself for all those flaws that I don’t need the men of the online dating world making it worse.
For another impulsive decision tonight, I’m hitting the publish button.

Why I’m Okay with the HIMYM Finale

HIMYM, by the way, is short for How I Met Your Mother, a show I started watching in its 3rd season (I went back and watched the first two seasons later, thanks to Netflix). And last night was the last episode of the series.

Many people have many opinions about the last episode, many of them negative.
But here’s my Horton-hears-a-Who moment of why I loved the last episode. If you’re a fan of the show, fair warning: spoilers ahead.
If you’ve never seen the show, here’s the elevator pitch: in the year 2030, a dad is telling his adolescent children how he met their mother. Except we don’t really meet the mother until Season 9, so it’s really a winding yarn about how Ted spent the better part of his 30s looking for The One. Moving on.
A few weeks prior to the finale, in the middle of a conversation with Ted, the protagonist, and The Mother (it was a flash-forward), there was an insinuation that perhaps the mother was dead by 2030. I definitely bought into that theory, and didn’t mind it so much because life is messy and conflict abounds and all that writer crap that Stueve is always telling me.
And last night, we learned that’s exactly what happened. Ted meets the mother in 2014. They have two kids, but he doesn’t marry her until 2021 (not judging at all here, just giving time references). She dies in 2024. In the last ten minutes of the finale, Ted tells his kids how much he loved their mother and how lucky he was to have the moments he had with her.
And then the kids call him out on the 9-season story: it’s not about The Mother, it’s about “Aunt” Robin. 
Robin, the girl that Ted says “I love you” to on their first date, steals her a blue french horn, eventually dates her but it ends in disaster. 
The kids encourage Ted to call Robin and ask her out on a date. Mom’s been gone for six years, they say. It’s clear you love Robin, they say.
And the Internet freaks out, while for me, hope springs eternal.
Here’s why.
My uncle, who I love so dearly, fell in love with a woman while in college. He asked her to marry him, then he left for his LDS mission. While he was gone, she married someone else (not a decision she made lightly, by the way, so don’t be upset with her). He came home from his mission, married someone else, had a family.
And his wife passed away. And the woman he proposed to in college, her husband passed away. And they reconnected, and married, and raised their families together, and lived some happy years together. So I’ve seen in my own family, the “girl that got away” be re-gotten. 
Then I think of me. And my favorite Jane Austen book Persuasion. And my uncle. And last night’s HIMYM. And a small flame of hope appears: maybe I’m someone’s Second Act. And I don’t say that for pity–I say that because it just might be true. That perhaps one day, **someone I laughed with or studied with or fought with might show up outside my window holding a blue french horn, and all the pieces of my life will suddenly lock into place while the universe screams at me: THIS. This is what I had waiting for you. Isn’t it great?
So, Internet haters, I wasn’t disappointed with the HIMYM finale. I quite loved it.
But I also loved the last episode of Lost, and I was in the minority then as well, so maybe I just don’t know good TV after all.
**I am in no way wishing ill will on any spouses of ex-boyfriends. Please understand that.**

Smash the Patriarchy. Kind of.

I have built a pretty productive life without being completely dependent on a man. Sure, when I run into car trouble I call my dad first, but for the most part, I am self-sufficient. Every now and then, though, I want to be carted around. I don’t want to drive. I don’t want to decide where to eat. Sometimes being a single woman is exhausting just for the constant decision-making I alone am responsible for (do men ever get exhausted by making decisions? Asking for a friend).

Last night my friend Grant was in town, and we knew we wanted to do something downtown, but I knew I didn’t want to drive or mess with parking.

“I’ll pay for all parking if you drive,” I said.

Turns out that Grant is fabulous luck with finding downtown parking spots so I didn’t have to pay for parking anyway. But it was so nice to climb in the passenger seat and visit with Becca (who let me ride shotgun the whole evening) and go to a couple of bars and have Grant bring me a drink so I could just sit.

Sometimes ceding to the patriarchy is relaxing and nice and I love it.

Sometimes the patriarchy pisses me off.

Like this morning, when I received a message from a man who is looking for the “Snow White to his Prince Charming,” someone who wants a woman whose sole ambition is to be a wife and a mother, someone who wants to be waited on hand and foot.

Now, the waiting on hand and foot is nice every now and then, as demonstrated by last night. But all the time? I don’t think I would like it. No reason why–maybe my propensity to feel guilty when people do things for me (though I felt no guilt last night). Anyway.

Over the past ten years, and little by little, I gave up the ambition to be a wife and mother. That’s not to say that I wouldn’t mind being married, and if said fictitious husband has kids, I’d like to think I’d be a kind stepmother. But I love my career. I’ve worked hard to be successful, not only at teaching, but also at writing. My sole ambition now is to be a good person, to love the people in my life as best I can, and to continually improve in my chosen profession.

But he completely lost me at the Snow White/Prince Charming analogy. Snow White: he wasn’t talking about the Snow White of “Once Upon a Time”–that’s a Snow White I can get behind. And as a fan of Stephen Sondheim and “Into the Woods,” I know Prince Charming’s true colors:

Anyway. So I replied to this man’s message explaining why I didn’t think I was a good match for him. His response?

“You might consider masking the bitterness at least partially. It will continue to keep you in the dating scene ad infinitum.”

All I did was explain to him, in very clear terms, why I didn’t fit what he was looking for.

I was clear.

I was honest.

I was logical.

And yes, I was blunt.

Clarity, honesty, logic, and bluntness apparently mean I am bitter.

Yet if a man explained to me that I did not fit what he wanted, I don’t think I would accuse him of being bitter. I’d like to think I would thank him for his honesty and time. Which is all this guy had to do, but instead he “taught me a lesson” (I shared one line of his reply here–it was a couple paragraphs long).

Smash the patriarchy, is what I’m thinking this morning.

But the next time I want to go downtown, I’ll probably wish the patriarchy could drive me there.

Dating Again, Part 3: First Date Redux

“Would you like to go out for sushi?”

I cringed slightly, because I am a moderately superstitious person and since the previous date was also at a sushi joint, I didn’t want to doom my first date with John.

John was not a phone talker–in fact when I gave him my phone number after he asked me out, he said he preferred to not exchange numbers until after the first date. I only gave him my number in the name of practicality, should either he or I suffer a tragic car accident en route to the date and need to get in touch. Especially given that, just like my previous date, said sushi joint was quite a hefty drive from my home.

John’s emails to me were incredibly formal, but as I pretend I’m a writer, I chalk up formal emails to someone who values the written word.

I arrived at the sushi place wearing the exact same outfit I wore on the previous date: dark wash jeans with a black floral print v-neck shirt that shows just enough cleavage. Classy cleavage, if you will. (Though in hindsight, maybe I needed to switch up my “date outfit” to change the luck.) I scanned the restaurant and saw someone who looked a little like John, but anemic compared to his photos.

“John?” I approached the anemic-looking man sitting by himself.

“Hi Julie!” He stood up and extended his hand in a very formal manner. I shook his hand, and we sat in our booth.

When I’m on a first date, I’m all about figuring out what to order first and then getting around to talking. So I found a couple of items that looked similar to sushi I loved at my favorite sushi spot and ordered those, and John ordered several of whatever he wanted. 

And then we started to talk.

Something wasn’t quite right about the way he was conversing. It was almost as if he was working from a script. Like he was so concerned that we wouldn’t have anything to talk about that he allotted a specific amount of time for each discussion topic.

But at least he was interested in what I had to say, which was so different from the previous date. There was still something about John that concerned me, and I couldn’t figure it out right away. And as he was explaining to me the audition process (he was active in community theater) I realized what it was–he had many of the verbal mannerisms and physical tics as some of my students on the Autism spectrum. I don’t know if he actually was, but the bigger issue was that he was a carbon copy of one of my students.

It explained the formality of his emails, the handshake, the scripted conversation. He was so very nice, and when dinner was over, he asked if he could walk me to my car, which of course I agreed to. He stiffly offered me a hug, and I got in my car and drove home.

That’s the down side to being a teacher–so many things can ruin a guy. If he has the same name as the kid who called me a racist, or looks remotely like the kid(s) who refused to do any work and be surly about it, it affects how I view him. Not fair, I know. But it just is what it is.

Not that it was a horrible date at all–it really wasn’t. It was a lovely evening with only one super awkward moment (the conversation had died, I looked around desperately for a conversation starter, looked back at him only to find him staring at me intently), and it was nice to be out with a nice man who liked to talk as much as he liked to listen.

But I was pretty sure I would never hear from him again, and I never did. And that’s okay.