At Least I’ve Learned A Few Things

The Breakup Chronicles: Part 2

First off, y’all are wonderful.  Thank you for your outpouring of support.  Sometimes we write just needing to get it out, and forget that people will have things to say.  And what you did say to me meant more to me than I can express.  You didn’t have to take the time to say a word, but you did, and it helped me a lot.  Never double that your kind words in a tough time are doing so much for someone.

Things are still uncertain and who likes uncertainty?  Not this girl.  I had grand plans to talk to Francois about it – a little check in, if you will – but when we last chatted I was tired and worried that I wouldn’t be quite eloquent enough.  So here we are.  Breakup week the second, confusion week the second.

I’m determined not to text him (or, you know, at least until Saturday).  Do you know how hard it is not to text?  It’s like when you’ve had a drink or two, and you know you really shouldn’t drunk text but you do because it’s so fun!  You’re so funny!  People must love you!  And then in the midst of that fun, when you’re trying to tell Grace one thing, you get drunk digits and instead ask her to milk you.  You know. Awkward times. (For the record, I don’t remember what I meant to tell her, but it was most certainly not for her to milk me.)    Right. Where were we?  Oh yes… I’ve been getting mixed signals out the wazoo which feels great because it feeds that little bit of hope I have, but it’s crappy because it keeps him in my thoughts.  And at the back of my mind I know that 99% of the time this sort of thing isn’t going to work out but those mixed signals are very powerful.  You tell yourself that you might be the situation that works.  It could be you!  Which is all to say, if you see me with a cell in my hand this week, you have permission to yell, “KATE, STEP AWAY FROM THE PHONE.”

Here we are.  Day 9.   Here is what I’ve learned thus far:

When your bestie offers to drive in to see you?  Take her up on it.  Best friend therapy often can’t be topped and you’ll kick yourself for missing that needed time with her.  True, you will probably talk her ears off but she’s a doctor and can sew them back on.

Hang out with people, no matter how much you want to wallow or stay glued to Facebook checking for signs of activity.  (It’s unseemly the amount of time I’ve spent checking to see if he’s been active.  Someone save me.)  It’s very possible Francois will pull himself out of my life for good, but my friends aren’t leaving me anytime soon.  In times like these they are especially supportive and say the kind of thoughtful things that make you cry not because of sadness, but because you’re not sure how you got lucky enough to have them in your life.

Wine is delicious.

Pathetic walks by the lake aside, exercise is healthy.  Go on an extra long run but this time focus on overtaking the guy in front of you rather than checking the parking lots for signs of Francois.  Admire the runner’s calves as you approach.  Race past him.  Feel victorious when you leave him in the dust.  Round the corner so he can’t see you.  Walk.

Hug your cats.  I’m still missing the lazy mornings in bed with Francois but little furry gatos can be pretty comforting.  I will be not ashamed of my cat lady status.

Listen to your mother:

I hope for Francois’ sake he realizes he’s being a dick.  Because he is not going to find another Kate Hepburn.  Sometimes guys need a hammer to the head.  Just a little tap.

and later…

If things don’t work out, since you keep finding better and better guys, I think you should set your cap for…Prince Harry? Why not?

Also, two solid hours of dancing around in one’s underwear and lip syncing to Bruno Mars and Carole King is recommended.  Not that I have experience with such a thing.

-Kate

The Stages of a Breakup

The Breakup Chronicles: Part 1

Spinster friends, I was in relationship bliss over the past several months.  We’ll call him Francois the Dapper because he really is dapper and he’s kind and interesting and smart and funny and pretty damn attractive.  So you can imagine my…

1.  Shock

…when he texted me the other night and asked to come over.  I knew something was up, as he never asked to come over before (we’re, after all, of the generation where nobody can seem to make a decision: “What are you up to?”  “Nothing much.  You?”  “Nothing much.”  “Wanna do something?”  “Yah, what were you thinking?”  “Not really sure.  You?”  “I don’t care.”).  He walked through the door, stopped me when I tried to kiss him, and my heart plummeted.  A chill of dread spread through me, I felt hot, and all I could do was look at the floor, avoiding eye contact as I stated to myself over and over, “I will not cry, I will not cry!”  I’ll spare you the upsetting details but suffice it to say it involved a past relationship, lingering baggage, and confusion over his feelings.  My heart was wrenched apart, but I quite calmly offered my support and understanding.  I also offered him a piece of cake.  Then that night that I poured my feelings onto 4 single-spaced pages of nearly 2,000 words.  Y’all, I could not stop the words or the feelings.  I knew I was in…

2.  Mourning

There weren’t enough tea bags in the world to shrink the bags under my eyes.  You know the feeling; it’s where the tears roll down your cheeks in fat drops and you’re just not sure they’re going to stop this time.  It – I – was just so sad.  I re-lived every good time, every future plan.  I tried outlining the bad times I could think of, hoping they’d make me feel better, but they were only a reminder of how well I felt we worked through our problems.  I texted Francois, and asked to meet him again.  He agreed.  It gave me…

3.  Hope

Not only did we chat, but we got pastries.  I poured out my feelings.  I told him all my fears about the situation and my hopes.  He listened, he told me he had a lot to think about, and then he asked me if I wanted to hang out.  Can you blame me for saying yes?  And it was pretty nearly great, save for that two hours of a movie we spent without holding hands for the first time since I’d known him.  We parted ways in the evening and I sobbed my feelings to Grace and to my mother, but I maintained the day meant something.  He was thinking about it.  The next day I contemplated all the possibilities.  Things were looking up so I took a walk around the lake which only served to send me to a whole new level of…

4. Patheticism

Shut up.  That’s a word.  And that walk?  It was to take advantage of the sunshine and the beautiful weather!  To clear my mind and increase my endorphins!  To watch the sunset!  Or so I fooled myself to think.  I looked in every parking lot for his car, hoping that the distant runner was him coming toward me.  By the end of the walk, I was dragging my sobbing, puddly mess into the car, dialing Grace and asking her to tell me that I wasn’t the most pathetic person that ever lived.  She’s a good friend, she told me I was normal.  And then later that night, Francois called me.  We talked for 30 minutes and my hope was renewed.  And it was then that I began seeking …

5. Validation

…from nearly anyone who would listen.  Grace and my mother?  Check, check.  My coworkers?  Check.  The mailman? Check.  It was really important to talk it out.  Really damn important to tell my side of things and have others tell me that my feelings were reasonable.  I need them to confirm my interpretation of how he should feel and how it made sense.

6.  Obsession

There was also a really low moment in there.  Like, really, freakin’, low.  As in, I figured out the mysterious her.  And when I say “figured out” I mean I went through every length of internet stalking I could think of.  I’m so good at it, people should pay me.  We went to the same college.  We share a couple of friends.  She’s funny.  She works in advertising and marketing.  She’s a runner.  She has a gummy smile.  The list…it goes on.  You can bet I revisited the same pages over and over and over again, obsessing about why she should have left such an impression on this guy that I cared about, why their old relationship was ruining mine.

6. Anger at Him

This came on just a fast as it ended.  I think the outrage of my friends seeped into my own mind and I was so angry that he would contemplate giving up on us and giving in to something that wasn’t ever going to be.  There isn’t doubt that I won’t feel anger again, but it was short lived because I soon directed all my…

7. Anger at Her

Sure, this might not be the most logical thing, but I go back to what Francois told me about the relationship and it makes me steaming mad.  They were that on-again-off-again couple, and based on what very little I know (read: I’m a writer and I’ve crafted an entire relationship story from a few limited comments), I’ve concluded she was a terrible, no-good person who didn’t deserve Francois.  That’s a little harsh.  But you know, people you care about deserve better.  Also: sometimes I’m petty and I act like a 12-year-old.

8. Confusion

Rehashing every look, action, and word of this breakup sent me into confusion in the end.  Francois never called it a breakup, he just said he had to think about things.  I gave him so many easy outs in our conversations, and he never took them.  I even asked that whatever the answer was, that I just got a clearly defined one.  None of this casual conversation that fades into nothing because he’s trying to spare my feelings.  Please not that.  He agreed.

So here we are.  The stages aren’t complete. I don’t doubt that most people feel they can see this for what it is, but I’m still confused and waiting.  There’s also the responsibility that one needs to place on Francois, lest you think I’m ignoring that. But I gave myself permission to stop feeling embarrassed about my feelings – my hope – and I’m just riding the emotions for now, rather than forcing myself out of them.  It was a debate to share this with you, Spinster friends.  There’s always that fear of looking ridiculous, but I can’t be the only one who has experienced all of the above, and sometimes it’s good to put it out there because someone else might read it and have that sigh of relief that their own similar situation is… normal.

The Best Worst Honeymoon Ever

1282199049757270I don’t know when the epiphany came—whether during my third night of uncontrollable sobbing or the hundred year flood—but it was clear and true: Professor McGregor and I had the worst honeymoon ever. I would like to say it was all my fault, but no matter how hard I try, I’ve yet to control the weather or checked baggage or broken toilet seats. The sobbing, though, was definitely all me.

Darlings, there is a reason people fantasize about beach honeymoons. They’re easy! Hop on a plane, get picked up by a resort shuttle, then happily sip neon drinks under an umbrella for seven days. It’s a good recipe. Unless, of course, you’re the type who poo-poos this whole fancy umbrella thing in favor of exploration and the ever-present excitement of “Will there be bedbugs in this hotel room?” Spoiler alert: the professor and I are the latter type. Instead of a nice, relaxing trip to a warm beach, we went to Ireland. In the middle of winter. Without hats.

To be fair, Dublin was utterly lovely for the first week. The sun was shining. it softly rained a handful of times, and the people were doggedly friendly. Unfortunately, I spent that week 100% convinced that I would drop dead on the cobblestones at any moment. Omnipresent fear of your Untimely Doom does put a damper on romantic strolls, kittens. Our second day in Ireland, I was hit by these odd lightheaded spells, accompanied by nausea and fatigue. Then it happened again on the third day, then the fourth, and so on. Luckily, I had enough medical knowledge to know what was up: I was experiencing symptoms of DVT—thanks to use of birth control—and a blood clot was going to travel to my lungs, turn into a pulmonary embolism and kill me dead. There were no other possibilities. (She said in a fearful, crazed tone to her beloved at 3 AM.)

On one hand, my legs weren’t achy or swollen and there were zero chest pains, but on the other…THESE THINGS CAN BE ASYMPTOMATIC. I WAS DEFINITELY GOING TO DIE ON MY HONEYMOON AND LEAVE A GRIEF-STRICKEN PROFESSOR BEHIND ALL BY HIMSELF. HE WOULD THEN, HAUNTED BY MY MEMORY, TURN INTO A BITTER, ANGRY WIDOWER WHO KICKED BABY ARMADILLOS AND NEVER TRAVELED OR FELT JOY AGAIN AND IT WAS ALL MY FAULT FOR BEING AFRAID OF BABIES! *SOB* By the time New Year’s Eve rolled around, and I’d been unable to sleep for three nights in a row for fear of my imminent corpsehood, Professor McG had the hotel find an open minor emergency clinic and shuttled me to a Dublin suburb to check things out. After all sorts of tests, I was pronounced completely fine, except for the prolonged lady dark times I’d also been experiencing. Exact prescription: “Rest and eat red meat. You’re probably vitamin-deficient from all the blood pouring from your uterus. Duh.”

images (1)By the time I felt better, it was our day to depart Dublin for the picturesque western coast. Galway, our destination, was famous for its seaside village shops and proximity to amazing natural wonders, like the Cliffs of Moher. We were going to experience real Ireland, by walking on bluffs and drinking tea in cutesy tea shops! It was going to be…awesome hit by a once-in-a-century winter storm! Yes, we arrived in Galway, just in time to be hit by Winter Storm Christine. Fun fact: when they name the weather system that’s about to hit you, the scenic cliffs turn into terrifying death traps. The cutesy tea shop I’d been stoked about? Flooded. The lovely seaside walk? Under water. The meandering stroll to city center from our hotel? Aided by 70 mph wind gusts and sideways hail. Adventures!

Even better, the “four star” hotel we were staying at made Motel 6 look posh. We arrived to a suspiciously stained comforter, broken-in-half toilet seat, and one of those king beds that is really just two twins, with a totally comfortable metal bar joining them together. Trip Advisor had let us down in a rather epic manner. Adventures!

Honestly, the list of travel disasters that hit us could be a mile long. Delta lost my baggage on the way back the States, Irish cashiers were utterly flummoxed by our chipless credit cards, and my umbrella was defenseless against winter storms. And yet…we had a blast.

shameless-honeymoon-movie-poster-9999-1010429406Through fear of my untimely demise and hurricane force breezes, Professor McGregor made me laugh and smile and fall in love with him all over again. He twice walked to the pharmacy to retrieve lady devices (tampons, yo), made sure I was always in reach of hot chocolate, and assured me over and over again that I had not ruined our honeymoon with my weird illness. And you know what? He was right. We had so much fun! It turns out that Irish food is really good, we both look fetching in wool hats, and getting away together was a much needed respite…even with all the crying. Plus, my beloved left with a new favorite whiskey and I with intimate knowledge of the Irish medical system.

So, perhaps I should revise: Professor McGregor and I had the best worst honeymoon ever. 

-Grace

P.S. Thank you all so much for your good wishes and congratulations on my last post! The wedding went off without a hitch – lovely weather, lovely food, and lovely conversation. Just like we wanted.

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Pick-Up A Date, Darling: Say Hello & Get Seriously Friendly!

hello2 004Hello, dearest readers!

Autumn is our favorite season, here at Spinsters. There’s a nip in the air, there are adorable sweaters in every store, and everything smells like cinnamon. There is no season more romantic than fall! Which is why, of course, it can also be a harrowing season for singles. Who will you take to your office Thanksgiving potluck or on an apple-picking adventure in the country? Not that we have apple-picking adventures in Texas, but I’m sure that’s what romantic dates are like in the North. Do not burst my bubble, kittens!

So, anyway. Apples. Romance. Canoodling. FALL HAS ALL THE GOOD THINGS! All you need is someone to share them with, like—just off the top of my head—that foxy librarian at your local branch, who you can’t stop gazing upon. You know the one, darling: brunette, sweater vests, deep piercing green eyes behind horn-rimmed glasses. This is the year for your literary love affair, I can feel it. But how exactly do you begin the romance?

Say hello! 

Does that sound too simple? In love, simple is always best. It can be totally paralyzing to take that first step though, so we’ve thought up our favorite suggestions for kicking off your Autumn of Adoration. (Yeah, that’s what I’m calling it now. You’ll thank me later.)

  1. Compliment Away: If you’re having a hard time striking up a conversation with your future beloved, keep it positive. Pick out something personal about him or her—obscure band t-shirt, Alice in Wonderland tattoo, funky hand-knitted scarf—and let your intended know how much you like it. People usually respond well to being complimented, especially if it’s on something they love or put a lot of thought into. It shows that you notice them!
  2. Ask How Her/His Weekend Went: Unfortunately, if your love interest du jour is a librarian, there may not be much to notice. Librarian, lovely though they are, can be so buttoned up! In that case, a simple “Did you have a nice weekend?” will do. Intsant conversation starter! Of course, make sure you’re not in a no talking zone, liebling.
  3. Bring An Apple Pie: Your words have failed you, coming out high and jumbled. Don’t worry, we’ve all been there. Instead, have you thought about professing your interest through baked goods? Bring an apple pie for the office or cupcakes for your favorite librarians, as a thank you! People will be impressed with your kitchen skills and seek you out to say so. Sometimes, it’s easier to be on the receiving end of those compliments.

set1Our final tip, one truly simple in its sincerity, is just this: Smile! A gorgeous smile says so much that words are barely needed. Flash a grin, say a quiet hello, and let your pretty pearly whites do the work! In that vein, today’s sponsor, Hello Oral Care Products, is here to help. We’ve partnered up with Hello to help you get seriously friendly this autumn.

With delicious flavors—Sweet Cinnamint is my personal favorite—Hello mouthwash, Hello toothpaste, and Hello breath spray are the ideal accessories for your date night routine. No one wants to be stuck saying goodnight with onion breath! Luckily, no kiss need be avoided. Hello breath spray is pocket-or-purse friendly and beyond adorable.  You don’t have to be embarrassed to freshen up in public. Oral hygiene for the win!

Even better, all of Hello’s seriously friendly products are made right here in the USA and never, not ever, tested on animals. Their products are not only naturally friendly but alcohol-free, so that Hello mouthwash is easy on your delicate palate. They look great on your counter—with streamlined, user-friendly packaging designed by BMW DesignworkdUSA—but make both your mouth and your conscience feel great. You can find Hello at your local Walgreens, Duane Reade, Target, CVS, and other awesome oral care retailers!

Especially for friends of Spinsters, Hello has also graciously sponsored a giveaway of some of their fabulous products! I’ve been using their stuff all week and can’t say enough good things about it. You will love it and I’m thrilled to give some of these fabulous products away to a lucky reader!

Hello! 009

One lucky winner will win a Hello sunshine toothbrush, Hello mouthwash in Mojito Mint, and two Hello breathsprays, one in Supermint and one in Pink Grapefruit Mint! Woohoo!

How to enter the Hello Products giveaway: 

  • For +1 entry Answer The Following Question: What’s your favorite pickup line?
  • For +2 entries Like Hello on Facebook (http://facebook.com/helloproducts)
  • For +3 entries Tweet About Giveaway with the following message: Date prep is easy with @helloproducts. Enter to win flirty & friendly oral care from (Insert Your Twitter Handle Here) & #SayHello

For each way you enter, leave a comment on this post! On Friday, I’ll draw the winner and send you your lovely oral care goodies!

Just to get you started, I’ll share my favorite pick-up line: “If you were a Dementor, I’d become a criminal just to get your kiss.” Literary pick-up lines are my jam! What’s your favorite?

*This post has been sponsored by the fabulous Hello Products*

The Apathetic Bride Cheats at Cards

MailboxSurprise_GilElvgrenDarlings, I have seen the light. It is rubbery and comes in all the colors of the rainbow.

It’s also sold on Etsy, so get your mind out of the gutter. Last I checked, crafters weren’t hawking organic woodland creature vibrators yet. Though, if they were, I think we can all agree that one would be called “Foxxxy Lady,” because people can’t resist a good pun. What I’m actually here to buzz about today—It was too easy!—is something infinitely more pedestrian: a stamp.

People adore handing out wedding advice to newly engaged couples. Don’t tell them, but most of it is useless. So much about a wedding ends up being individual to the couple—by luck of venue choice, season of the year, or budget—and thus can’t really be prepared for with a handy one-liner from your neighbor’s mother. There is only one piece of advice that I’m planning to actively follow, as it came from my wise and reasonable friend, Girl on the Contrary. “Write thank-you notes as the gifts come, grasshopper” she said to me, over a giant plate of brisket.

That makes so much sense! The last thing I want to do is arrive back from our honeymoon, only to be faced by a mountain of 200 thank you notes waiting to be written. My hand hurts just thinking about it! So, I’m resolved to write them immediately upon receipt of gift.

Only…I’ve also already had to address Save The Dates, which was a giant pain, plus the invitation suites are looming. Is there no way to save myself from bridal carpal tunnel? Won’t someone think of my metacarpals!?

Someone did. Darlings, you can buy a self-inking return address stamp. Do you know how much writing that saves? On the invitation suites alone, you have to write “Professor McGregor & Grace O’Kelly, 100 Curmudgeon Lane, Not Austin, TX  666-66″ at least twice per invite. It’s the most tedious thing ever. So…buy a stamp. Seriously, if you do one thing I tell you to in your lifetime, make it the purchase of return address stamp.il_570xN.415978758_s0we

I bought the above one, from Rubber Stamp Press on Etsy, and I absolutely adore it. If Professor McGregor hadn’t asked me first, I’d probably marry this thing. It leaves a super clean imprint, legitimately looks hand written/fancy, and is so much fun to use. I stamped 10 sheets of paper, when it first arrived, just so I could use it. Even better, if you’re still in a name-changing quandary, this particular one doesn’t use last names. It can be used forever, even if you eventually decide to become Mrs. Ethel Frankenbaum-Woo. There are thousands of these available on Etsy, however, so the choices are endless. You can get one with penguins on it, symbolizing your shared love of arctic fowl, or one that looks elegantly minimalist.

If you want to spend as little time preparing for this wedding hoopla as possible, get a stamp. They are cheap and they are wonderful. I’ve named mine Archibald and swear to love him forever. That’s good practice for the actual wedding, right?

Ignore a Pick-Up Artist, Save a Puppy

4256913449_e09b0c3219_oFriends, there is a plague upon us. It oozes up to you at a bar, telling you that you’re really pretty for a chubby girl and asking if you’ve read Hemingway’s lost grocery list. It encourages the objectification of women, turns love into a game, and wears too much cologne. The pick-up artist movement is still a thing and it’s boring.

Today on Jezebel, yet another misogynistic asscake and his poorly punctuated ramblings—this time on why his precious manseed only goes to deserving women— were highlighted. That’s right, I said highlighted. Jezebel’s intent was to castigate the blogger, of course, but we all know that’s not how the internet works. I’m not linking to his original blog, because every damned URL turns into followers and comments. Attention, of any sort, is the route to book deals and advertising. Y’all, we can’t keep giving our page hits to sad, delusional man children!

It’s important to know the face of your enemy, but pick-up artists aren’t the enemy of feminists. After all, they aren’t actually changing the dating landscape. When was the last time someone tried to “neg” you and it worked, kittens? I had six single years in my twenties, through the height of this supposed movement, and was never successfully picked up by one of these clowns. In order for pick-up artistry to be a threat, it would have to be working. These men think they’ve cracked the code to seducing women, but all they’ve done is find women who probably would’ve slept with them anyway. As one University of Kansas study found, the women in these relationships are just as sexist as the men. Like finds like, disastrous as the results may be.

We have loads of actual foes to deal with, from the continuing wage gap to society’s constant body snarking of women. Pick-up artists are, in the jungle of gender politics, gnats: annoying, harmless, and awfully noisy for their size. Yet, we continue to be scandalized and angered by them. We link to their blogs, angrily talk about their latest books, and give them entirely too much of our damned time. Are they misogynistic jerks? Totally. Are they having a tangible effect on the ways normal, well-adjusted young men and women view dating? Not so much.

A nice, well-informed man probably won’t pick up “The Game,” much less read it and follow its advice. The audience for such things already thinks women are prizes to be won, not equal partners to share in sexy times and adventures. Pick-up artists aren’t looking for love, they’re looking for bed-notches, and as a result they’ve missed the whole damned point of life. We’re here to foster relationships and leave a positive impact on the world, not shag ourselves straight into a syphilitic hallucination. Sex doesn’t last forever, so the small number of men who buy into this bullshit are destined to find themselves disillusioned and alone at the end of it all. Their comeuppance is of their own making, not from admonishments that will fall on deaf ears.

If you want to get rid of pick-up artistry, ignore them. Their game will fail and you’ll have much more time to devote to real issues. We have sexual violence to combat, systemic sexism to eradicate (the actual cause of this supposed trend), and puppies to save. Who has time for another douchebag in a velvet suit? Stomp on his tail, roll your eyes, and sashay off into the sunset with an enlightened manfriend.

– Grace

I Miss The City, Roach Friend

movingA funny thing happens, when you fall in love. You start spending as much time as possible together—cooking lovely meals, educating your beloved on Mean Girls because he’s somehow never seen it, and gazing happily into each other’s corneas. It’s delightful. It is also the first step on the path to that great relationship milestone: living together.

Professor McGregor and I, much to the scandal of his grandmothers, have reached this sinful destination. We are living together. Since his job is tied to being at a certain university, I made the move. Armed with boxes of books and novelty fabrics, I trekked the 90 miles up Interstate 35 and into Professor McGregor’s delightful 1950s bungalow. This also meant leaving the wonderful, eclectic city I grew up in for a blue collar crossroads town of about 80,000 people. Cue the cultural shellshock. I quite like our little town, but it has been a change.

Readers, I miss Persian food.

That may actually be an understatement. Readers, I would sell my soul and half of my pre-censorship Nancy Drew collection for some sour cherry rice and properly made flat bread. When the dear professor and I go out to eat, we have three options: Mexican food (because this is Texas, not the hinterlands), Italian food, or American food. That’s it! If it’s from an Eastern continent, forget about it. Only heathens would want to eat curry! Saffron is the spice of the very, very delicious devil!  I’m now one of those people who, when traveling, insists on eating things I can’t get at home. Upon visiting Kate last weekend, I even turned down my beloved Dallas street taco place, because surely there was something more exotic. Namely: German food, French sandwiches, and my weight in pastries.

That’s alright, though, really. The professor is a pretty wonderful cook and has promised to make foreign foods for me. At least, my new town has good grocery stores and other places to pick up things on a whim. Except, of course, anything that looks like an upscale beauty store. You know all that fancy makeup we’ve waxed poetic about on Spinsters? I have to order it online. Along with my shampoo and detangler and cardigans and pants and thread, because even the JoAnn Fabrics here is small and terrifying. I’m pretty sure it’s staffed by quilted gargoyles, not humans. When I asked for Swedish tracing paper last week, one of them growled at me. The days of fashion emergencies—”This outfit will only work with a ribbon-trimmed puce skirt!”—are gone. If Target or Loft doesn’t have it, I’m out of luck.

You know what we do have, instead? Giant effing roaches, like the one that just now crawled in our house from the back porch, when I opened the sliding door. Sure, the city has roaches, but they aren’t allowed to get chihuahua sized! I swear to God this one is five inches long and wearing fingers. As I am sitting here, boarded into my office, it’s out there in the living room waiting for me. It’s because I bought that bug throw pillow, isn’t it? The roach is punishing me for cultural misappropriation.

If Professor McGregor doesn’t get home soon, I’m either going to die of thirst or brave the walk to the kitchen, be surprised by the mutant roach, scream, and have it fly into my mouth. Upon whence, I will die of a terror-induced heart attack. This is life away from the big city.

This is love.

– Grace

Maybe He Has Malaria & Other Wisdom

little-red-flying-fox-hanging-out-serena-bowlesEveryone has a favorite party question. Who would you invite, living or dead, to a dinner party? David Sedaris, Cary Grant, and a recently bathed Queen Elizabeth I. What is your spirit animal? A Little Red Flying Fox bat, of course. What book would you smite from existence with a giant, fiery death ray? That’s my preferred party question, because there is only one answer. If you’re in possession of a literary fire ray, standard protocol calls for the destruction of He’s Just Not That Into You. Every misinformed, patronizing copy of it shall burn and we will dance joyfully in the ashes.

Fuck that book. Fuck all the articles claiming it might actually have value—I’m looking at you, Buzzfeed’s 65 Books You Need to Read In Your 20’s—instead of throwing it into the bonfire where it belongs. Now, I’m not a fan of censoring and I’m certainly not a fan of book burning. I just want this idiotic advice to die already. There is no romantic manual in existence, including the one that gendered the planets, doing more damage. Friends of mine, successful, lovely women with lots of sense, call it their bible.

2c85e416cee5e4f7ee3aed0df03e0ec1Here’s what I call it: bullshit. He’s Just Not That Into You has made a business out of tormenting innocent twenty-somethings. It gives us rules to date by, blithely handing out snippets of romantic fortune-telling to total strangers. If a guy doesn’t call you on Wednesday for a weekend date? He’s just not that into you. If a guy only texts you, instead of calling? He’s just not that into you. If you went home with a guy from the bar, he’s—wait for it!—just not that into you.

People aren’t that simple. I will go to my grave defending the complexity of mankind, friends. This book dishes out advice based on tired dating stereotypes: women are needy and guys must be tamed. This is dumb.

Wait, no!

This is so, so dumb that I have trouble finding words for it that don’t immediately make cerebral fluid leak out my ear. Lives are complicated. Every person we date has a history—little victories and heartbreaks that make them act they way they do. Maybe a guy is only texting you, because he thinks phones steal your life force, when talked into. Maybe he was slammed all week and, suddenly,  looked up to discover it’s Friday and he wants to see you desperately.

Sure, he may have cancelled your date because he’s an ass. Or, perhaps, he had a bout of intestinal malaria that had him clutching the Charmin for dear life. Rarely do we tell potential love interests of our bowel troubles. Instead we say “things came up” and ask them out at a later date. Thank goodness for that! You don’t want the knowledge of dear Marvin’s intestinal parasites cropping up mid-canoodle, do you? That’s how sexual phobias occur.

You don’t need this book. Romantic tribulations shouldn’t wreck your self-confidence, but there are no rules to love. If there were, no relationships would fail. We would all beatifically stroll through the world, happy and secure, until falling in love with precisely the right person at precisely the right time. That would never do for us! Humans are emotionally messy creatures, not robots. We must try the best we can. When it doesn’t work, throw a few bubbly drinks back, and keep living.

Let me be honest. If I’d followed the advice in this horrid tome, Professor McGregor and I wouldn’t be together. Hell, we never would have had a second date. Instead of being the darling man who surprises me with taxidermied mice, he would be that jerk who took two weeks to ask me out again. Horror of horrors. I’ll take a few weeks of emotional turmoil over that fate. The beginning of our relationship was filled with anxiety, yes, but it turned into something wonderful. That’s what matters.

h-armstrong-roberts-1920s-1930s-romantic-couple-evening-dress-embracing-about-to-kissYou don’t need a book to find love. You need courage, champagne on hand, and one piece of advice: Don’t date jerkfaces! If a romantic interest is mean to you, don’t date him or her. All of the advice in Barnes & Noble can be boiled down to that one, sparkling kernel. It doesn’t do to stress about timelines and made up dating etiquette. We’re all fucking clueless. Just treat people well and be wary, if they don’t reciprocate. If he brings your favorite ice cream, but didn’t call for two weeks? Ask him what’s up and eat the Mint Chocolate Chip. He might be just that into you and malaria.

Or he’s a jerkface.

Who knows? I certainly don’t and neither does any damned book.

– Grace

The Apathetic Bridal Guide

l_b25aab40-f095-11e1-aee4-f3a7ac600006There exists in this world a rare and wonderful creature. The Apathetic Bride. Unlike her cousin, The Relentlessly Excited Bride, she does not walk in beauty like the night, but in indifference like the esoteric holiday. She is the Happy Arbor Day! of engaged women. Her wedding planning resembles a Hawaiian Columbus Day parade: short-lived, rife with confusion, and ending with a relieved trip to the beach. Centerpieces bore her and her idea of a catering meeting is a trip to Whataburger. The Apathetic Bride would rather participate in a rousing game of Collect The Camel Spit than attend The Bridal Extravaganza.

I am an apathetic bride, friends.

Don’t tell the bridal industry gods, as they get a bit smite-happy with those pointy cake toppers, but wedding planning is mind-numbing. There are so many things to consider, none of which I care about. Outside of my dress (which I’m making) and the cake (delicious), I could give two shits about any of it. Two giant whale shits. Worse, there is no advice for my kind. We don’t make the industry any money, so we don’t have our own handbook or magazine. We’d have to care about weddings, in order to produce our own pamphlet. The Apathetic Bride would much rather watch paint dry, thanks. And so, it is left to me. For while I don’t enjoy talking about weddings, I do so love making fun of them!

My dear ennui-struck compatriots, I give you my Magnum Opus:

The Apathetic Bridal Guide: Part One, Because A Whole Opus Takes A Really Long Time and I Have Sundresses to Sew.

ON COLORS

Apathetic Bride, do you have a favorite color that you want to splash everything with on your special yeti day? No? Don’t worry about. People will say that, for your wedding to make sense thematically, you must reduce the essence of you and yours to a color pairing. What will your guests do, if they don’t know that your relationship is best portrayed by sea green and puce? They’ll deal with it. Your wedding does not need a theme. Your wedding does not need a color. Pick some stuff you like, plan a party like you normally do, and don’t stress about it. I’m going to have lots of shades of rose & floral prints, because I like them and they’re easy.

When people badger you about “your colors,” feel free to take my response:

Innocent Bystander: Grace, you must be so excited about your WEDDINGMARRIAGEAWESOMEDAYOFAWESOME!
Grace: Totes.
Innocent Bystander: So, what are your colors?
Grace: Torment and anguish!
Innocent Bystander: Oh, like a fancy gothic wedding?
Grace: No, like how I feel when people tell me I should pick out specific colors for this party. Why do I need a perfect color pairing? We’re not painting a baby, we’re throwing a party. A PARTY! WOOHOO!

*run off yelling woohoo*

ON FLOWERS

1930sbrideFlowers are a big deal for weddings. They’re also hella expensive and will die a disgusting, wilting mildew death within a few days. You are not going to be Miss Havisham, surrounded forever by the corpses of your wedding day, so they really don’t need to be that fancy. Have you ever seen hideous flowers? Of course, not. They’re Mother Nature’s version of nipple tassles: bright, shiny, and attractive to horny insects. Whichever ones you pick—roses, daisies, even the much-reviled carnations—will be pleasing to the eye. As such, you don’t actually need to pay a florist half your budget. Order some wholesale flowers from a reputable source, then blithely gather bottles and vases during your engagement period. On the day, throw some flowers in some containers and group them on tables as you want.

Voila! Instant “rustic chic” centerpieces. You’re welcome.

ON DRESSES

You don’t have to wear a white, strapless dress.

That’s all the advice I have. Wear whatever you want, whether that’s a gigantic Vera Wang ball gown, or an orange bias-cut column gown from your favorite vintage shop. There is no law saying it must be white, expensive, and kept for future generations. Hell, if you get married on a nude beach, it need not even exist. These are my words of freedom to you. Wear something you like, then get married.

ON CATERING

Wedding chicken sucks. It’s also expensive, boring, and needless. There are plenty of interesting ways to get around the traditional catering menu. Professor McGregor and I have decided to have an early-afternoon wedding and will be serving—All the pancake lovers rejoice!—brunch. You can have a beloved food truck roll up to your shindig or rent a BBQ smoker. You can serve hamburgers. Or, have a truly “retro wedding” and just eat cake & punch. Hell, you can get married in November and have Luby’s cater the entire thing as a Thanksgiving Dinner. Turkey and cranberry sauce for everyone!

Do not chain yourself to $35/plate catering menus. They aren’t your only option, whatever the wedding magazines tell you. Before you book a venue, make sure they don’t tie you to such shenanigans.

Here’s my final tip for wedding planning, dear ennui-struck ones: Don’t stress about lame things! All of those “traditions” you think are awkward and boring? Don’t do them. Invite some people, eat some food, then get married as fuck. It’s not odd to be uninterested in your wedding; it’s normal.

We will get through this lace-bedecked hellscape together.

– Grace

Where Have All the Love Letters Gone?

writing-letter

My workplace is limiting my email storage so I’ve been forced to look at emails I wrote back in the day.  It’s fun to see how unprofessional I was when I was a wee little Kate, making my foray into the business world.  Like the time I used 17 exclamation points in one message.  That was really cool.  I’m sure the Vice President who got my three-paragraph thank you email about lunch thought that was really cute.  But I digress. It was during this clean-up that I came across a rather large group of emails from my last official boyfriend in ::coughcough2007coughcough::. It would have been weird to go through them, re-read them, re-live my mindset from back then, so I quickly glanced at a couple then did a mass delete and it felt good.  But! I was reminded of something missing in my life and the lives of others.

Where have all the cowboys love letters gone? [It adds a little something if you sing it to the tune of that Paula Cole song.  Is it stuck in your head now?  You’re welcome.]

We live in an age where the love letter has been replaced with the email or the text message.  While some could use this as a platform to lament the use of the email or the text message, I will not.  You see, I actually like them quite a bit.  As opposed to a letter, they’re something you can get unexpectedly, any time of the day.*  That text message I got after a grueling meeting, the one from a date telling me he looks forward to seeing me tonight?  Yah, I’ll never object to it.

However, it’s the sheer volume of text messages and emails, and the obvious ease of sending them, which makes the love letter special, coveted, and missed.  It says something when your significant other takes the time to pull out the nice paper, a pen, and spend the time to come up with the perfect way to describe your golden locks or the way he goes all mushy when you tilt your head just so.  Or maybe he’s just letting you know how much he enjoyed the road trip to that one vineyard, and how he got to spend so much time with you.  I tear up just thinking about it!  Really.

Further, love letters provide the perfect opportunity for you to use your lover’s full name in a way that’s really sexy.  In romance novels, the heroine always notices when the hero uses her first name for the first time.  I don’t know about you, but seeing My Dearest Katharine** on the page would definitely make my lady parts quiver a little bit more than seeing plan ol’ Kate.  And that’s just the first few words!

Love letters are an acceptable place to describe that weird quirk about your lover that you never knew how to say in person.  Or maybe shouldn’t say.  Like the fact that in the mornings you like watching his nostrils flare while he’s still sleeping.  You think it’s cute.  But maybe that conversation is one that doesn’t go as smoothly in person.  The love letter, instead, lets you express these things and you get to avoid seeing the weird look on his face. But know that the weird look will probably turn into a blush and he’ll take a certain pride knowing his nostrils give you so much pleasure.

Love letters have an enduring and tangible aspect that just isn’t with an email or a text.  No digging through filed emails or trying to remember that sweet text message from five years ago.  The letters are there, in your hands, always available, and looking more loved and cherished over time.  Someday, your kids might even think they’d be great scrapbook material!

The road goes both ways on this one.  Men enjoy getting letters just as much as women.  Dare I say they even enjoy the well-thought letter even more than many women do?

How many of you get handwritten love letters on a regular basis?  Do tell!

-Kate

*But to that guy, who texted me at 11:30 P.M., telling me he only wanted me to sit next to him in bed and talk and “nothing more.”  Yah, you didn’t fool me.  Less than subtle and highly offensive.
**But while we’re on this topic, a note of caution; the love letter is not the place to test out that new “pumpkin cheeks” name you thought of when you saw your loved one bending over in the supermarket aisle to reach for that can of green beans.