No. Just No.

I Say No

No. It’s such a short and simple word. It’s one of the first words we learn to say as children. It’s super easy to spell. And yet, sometimes, this word comes attached with so much headache inducing guilt and stress that it should be considered a perfectly legitimate reason to leave work (and still get paid). Why is it that the word “no”, the word we’ve been saying for practically our entire lives, can be one of the most difficult things for us to say?

Life is busy. Holy hell is life busy. And the thing is, nearly everyone is busy. I’m busy. You’re busy. We are all busy busy. And yet, we truly struggle to say “no” to things that make us even busier. I mean, sure, I work a full-time job, am planning a wedding, write at least 6 blog posts a week, am trying to (finally) finish a book, spend time with my fiance, and see my family and friends every once in a while, but yeah, I can totally bake 5 dozen cupcakes for your baby shower. Except, no, no I can’t.

Or, what if I’m invited to do something I’m not really interested in doing. Say, for example, attend a waterpark where there are lines for every slide and pool but not one person is in the bathroom (think about it…). If it’s not something I am interested in a doing, why should I feel like I can’t say “no” to that? Why should people give me shit for it? Why am I not allowed to say “no” to something I don’t want to do? Why is it considered bitchy for me to say “no”? And, if I am allowed to say “no”, why should I have to make up an acceptable excuse for saying “no”? I can’t tell you how sick I am of people saying “yes” to things and then bailing the last minute when they suddenly “don’t feel well” except I totally just saw them having all kinds of fun out and about around town? I would much, much rather you have just said “no” from jump street, (Address 23, you can’t miss it, it’s right next to 21), than tell me “yes” if you weren’t interested. But people only do that because they are afraid of the implications of “no”. They’re afraid that people will interpret “no” as “I’m not really your friend.” or “You’re boring as hell to be around.” or “I have better offers.” when really the only thing “no” means is “no”.

We don’t say “no” because we want everyone to like us all the time, because we don’t want people to think negatively of us, because gosh darn it, we live in a “yes” society. Or, you know, it could be something completely different. I  don’t really have the answer.  All I know is that I am exhausted with feeling guilty for saying “no”. So, I’m not going to feel guilty anymore. I’m going to say “no” when that’s what I want to say.  I have a right to say “no”, we all do. No?

Love is (Probably) Not a Board Game

My paranoia runs deep. I doubt this comes as any surprise to you, kittens. A girl who is afraid of Australia, for Christ’s sake, is bound to have some issues. I also won’t go camping without skewers (oleander poisoning), don’t like the swing rides at amusement parks (dangling wires cutting off unsuspecting extremities), and have single-handedly ruined my friends’ love of mushrooms (carcinogens). What I didn’t realize until recently is that my paranoia invades my love life, as well.

Okay, let’s be real. It’s not paranoia, is it? It’s fear. Fear of this, fear of that. Fear that actually comes off as charmingly well-informed and idiosyncratic in most cases. Once I explain the existence of a deadly fish that looks like a freaking rock, don’t you have some reservations about that Down Under vacation? I can logic the hell out of any emotion. It’s the scientist in me.

Relationships weren’t covered in Biology 201, however. There are no rules, no logic, when it comes to being interested in another person. Even my Interpersonal Comm classes are no help. Do you know how hard it is to actually tell if a guy’s pupils have dilated? Bloody impossible, especially if you’re also trying to gauge body mirroring and keep up witty banter. Cut to last week, when I ended up in the hometown of Professor McGregor, who—holy vampire babies!—wanted to know if I could meet up.

So, we met up. He gave me a tour of the house he just bought, he took me to dinner at a great Tex-Mex place, and we swapped stories of our misspent undergrad careers. Then, he kissed me.

Y’all, he kissed me.

Like, up against a wall, straight-out-of-my-literary-fantasies kissed me. The next hour after that is kind of hazy, but I can definitely say pulses were elevated. His eyes were probably dilated too, but I was too busy melting every time I looked into them to notice. Also, I have a whole post on beards coming soon, because that was a revelation.

Awesome, right? Grace meets a boy. Boy thinks Grace is neat. Boy and Grace go all Wesley & Buttercup in the Fire Swamp on their first date. Awesome. Another word for it, however? Terrifying. I am so damn terrified.

I left the professor’s house all giddy and arrived home two hours later scared out of my mind. What the hell just happened? What’s going to happen next? What if, while I’m gone for the next two weeks of West Coast shenanigans, he meets someone else? What if he thinks I’m an awful kisser and never wants to see me again? What if my makeupless face terrified him and he is presently still having nightmares, because did you know that making out with a bearded man results in the disappearing of one’s Laura Mercier armor?

So much fear. What it all comes down to is this: I’m so damn scared that I’m going to like him more than he likes me. Sure, that goes against every feminist fiber of my being that shouts “Grace! If he doesn’t like you, he isn’t worth it!” but it remains the truth. Because, y’all, I really like him. I honestly don’t think I’ve ever been this into someone, especially not so quickly. I’ve had great conversations and I’ve had really great make-outs in my time, but Professor McGregor…

He’s something else entirely. People talk about relationships like they’re games, something we win or lose. If only it were that simple. I rock at board games. This, however, doesn’t feel like a competition. This feels like I just jumped out of a plane (something else I will never, not ever do) and am starting to question that parachute. Worse, there are no ladders to balance out this potentially malfunctioning chute. I need a map legend; I need some game instructions. What I’d really like is a time machine, so I could fast forward a few months and see if all this worrying is worth it. I’d settle for some words of wisdom, even if it’s just: Calm the hell down, Grace.

– Grace