Oh really, Anthony? Does my milkshake bring you to the sidewalk?

First off, have people seen this parody of Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines” music video? Not only are these women excellent singers, but they cleverly switched the genders and I love it. Oh, and probably NSFW.

I don’t actually have a huge problem with Robin Thicke’s original video, I just love me a good parody.

One more note: I appreciate the comments from people on Facebook whenever I post something, but if you could add comments under the blog itself in WordPress I’d appreciate it! It makes any conversations or interactions less disjointed. Thanks peeps!

Why is it, that when some men put themselves out there they expect something specific from you, and when you don’t deliver they lash out? They feel like you owe them something as a result of their behavior and it is a very unwelcome thing for a woman, not to mention jarring and anger-inducing. Reading articles about unwanted cat-calling and street harassment like this, or this make me angry and a bit emotionally volatile, which isn’t good for anyone.

I was walking to my car earlier this week when I decided to walk a bit further and around the block so I could enjoy the glorious weather. When there is a warm wind and setting sun I cannot be indoors, I must walk. And walk I did, enjoying the solitude and cooling breeze in the somewhat deserted southwestern part of downtown Portland.

And then Anthony thought to introduce himself. He pulled up next to me on his bike and followed me down the sidewalk. He wanted to know how old I was and if I was from Portland.  I asked him how old he thought I was and he said “18? God, I hope you’re at least 18.” As someone who always seeks to be aware of their surroundings, I glanced around the vicinity and yes, there was no one around; the block was empty of moving cars or pedestrians except for me and a complete stranger. Just great.

Anthony looked like he was in his thirties and dressed in baggy jeans that practically rendered his legs useless for riding a bike, an oversized FUBU t-shirt, and some bitchin’ neon kicks. You could say he was friendly, but held a gleam in his eyes that gave hint of his buying time until he can ask something of you. Anthony told me he was 37, I managed to avoid telling him my age because it was none of his business.

“Can we be friends? Let’s go do something.”

“Wow, you are very straightforward.”

“Wanna hang out?”

“No thanks. I’m just enjoying some needed time alone right now. See ya.”

I turned the corner to circle back to my car but my new “pal” Anthony was determined to sustain contact. He continued walking his bike, holding a supersized soft drink from McDonald’s, which he dropped twice while juggling with his bike and telling me he was from Atlanta and that he only tries to “make friends with girls because he always get in fights with guys.” Quite the winner.

“C’mon, let’s go find something fun to do.”

“No, sorry, not interested.”

“Why not? Where you going?”

“Walking to my car so I can go home.”

“To your boyfriend?”

“Yeah.” Lie

“Oh, yeah he probably wouldn’t be too happy with you, huh?”

“Yeah.” Lie 

“Come on,  don’t you wanna hang out with me?”

“No, I need to drive home and get some stuff done. Bye.” True

“You don’t really have to go home, you just don’t wanna come hang with me.” Duh

He left me alone to walk to my car, but continued the conversation on his own and at a louder volume.

“Yeah, you just don’t wanna come with me. You have nothin’ better to do.”

“Think you too good for me, huh? Ain’t that right, stuck up little bitch?”

“You a hussy you know that? Letting me walk with you a whole block and then blowin’ me off?”

And that’s when I was far enough away so I couldn’t understand what he was saying.

The whole “tête-à-tête” left a bad taste in my mouth for four reasons:

  1. Why did this 37 year old man purposely approach a girl he assumed was “around 18” and try to accost her into “hanging out?” I know I look young for my age, could pass for a high schooler if I acted the part, but I am alarmed to think this has worked in the past. This guy was not giving off good vibes and his purpose was most likely shoddy. Everything about his persona was sending off red flags and I am one to usually trust my intuition. Leave the poor teenage girls alone, Anthony!
  2. I felt the need to lie (I don’t have a boyfriend) in order to get him off my back. I am conditioned to avoid simply saying “No” because the alternative will either hurt their feelings or turn into a debate as to how I should spend my time. I use the “boyfriend excuse” to avoid an argument with a complete stranger about who should make decisions that concern my being and it didn’t even work! The more I think about the logic behind that, the more absurd it sounds. I should be able to just say “No” and not have to explain myself. It’s laughably ridiculous to have to justify myself to a stranger!
  3. He completely ignored the verbal or physical hints I was giving off, the ones that were telling him: “Please leave me alone, I’m not interested.” It’s almost as if he saw me as this challenge to complete or puzzle to solve as I said the words “No,” “Boyfriend,” and walked faster without giving him any sort of smile, eye contact, or inviting pose. I was congenial, kind, human, but not flirting in the least. Before anyone uses the whole “well you were probably dressed provocatively” clause, I was wearing baggy, holey  jeans, this t-shirt, and Old Navy flip-flops, but that is 100% irrelevant.
  4. Tony felt the need to yell his disapproval and verbally abuse me due to my decision to walk away.  He just couldn’t let it go after I said the ego-crushing word “No” and his words were utterly hateful, abusive, and uncalled-for. According to this man, I caused him a huge inconvenience because he wasted five minutes of his life walking with me around the block and the gift of his presence warranted me giving him my adoring attention and, let’s face it, he was hoping for my body. His actions. His decisions. I say NOT MY PROBLEM.

I’m hoping this gives some people food for thought. I’m not gonna lie, sometimes catcalling can be fun on the receiving end, but only if you’re not gross, don’t call me “Baby” or “Sexy Mama,” I’m with a group of friends (i.e. not by myself), and it doesn’t get closer than from across the street or a passing car. If you are following me to my car while telling me how I am obligated to spend my time with your punk ass, I’ll tell you to fuck the hell off.

And thou shalt feel mine rage.

And thou shalt feel mine rage.

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There is a wrong time to offer someone a fillet of fish.

Wil Wheaton posted a link on his blog awhile back that takes you to a site that will “Check which famous writer you write like with this statistical analysis tool, which analyzes your word choice and writing style and compares them with those of the famous writers.” I did this with three different samples of blog posts and found this:

David Foster WallaceChuck PalahniukHarry Harrison

Pretty excited about the first two, wasn’t sure who the last guy was, but when I looked him up I wasn’t complaining. Give it a try yourself!

It’s taken about an hour, and a long shower, but I am just getting over being mortified. Absolutely MORTIFIED.

I worked late, took my bi-monthly trip to Trader Joe’s, and was looking forward to getting home to clean up the pigsty that is my apartment. I go through these random moody times a few times a year, during which I struggle to maintain a hygienic appearance and a livable abode. To other pairs of eyes it may just look a bit cluttered and disorganized, but in my current state of mind it looks like a clan of meth heads squatted here all month along with a group of chimpanzees and those kids from Lord of the Flies.

My cats spend most of their time under the bed in disgust and embarrassment.

Exhibit A: Meth head house. My cats spend most of their time under the bed in disgust and embarrassment.

So the first thing I do when I get home to my shelter of neglect and shame is take off my pants and pick some things up while I heat up some delicious frozen enchiladas I impulse-bought at Joe’s (grocery shopping while hungry people). I do not like wearing clothes if I don’t have to. There’s no point when you’re home alone and it’s hot. I’m spending the night in which means it’s time for some Breaking Bad, so I’m all set with a TV dinner, a margarita on the rocks, and entertainment with my two cats that bravely ventured out into the clutter for some love (yeah, didn’t spend that much time “picking up”).

You think that the “No pants” issue would be the biggest problem to deal with when someone suddenly knocks on my front door and says “Knock Knock! It’s your neighbor!”

Oh no. Oh no no no no no.

See, at this point, I wasn’t still eating and watching Breaking Bad which would have been totally socially acceptable. Yeah, I wasn’t wearing pants and the curtain that “covers” my french door is a bit see-through to do the job, but at least it would have looked like I was doing something appropriate and non-creepish.

You see, as my neighbor knocked on my door and most likely saw me sitting watching something on my laptop with no pants on, I was watching the guilty-pleasure otherwise known as True Blood and putting lotion on my thighs.


If you’ve lived under a rock for the past six years you wouldn’t know that True Blood is full of explicit sex scenes that sometimes come at the most inopportune, awkward moments, especially if you have the sound way up in order to hear the sexy-voiced Eric Northman croon to Sookie and make-believe he’s actually speaking softly to you, just you…

Bite me baby a bajillion more times.

Bite me baby a bajillion more times (thanks Brit).

You see where this is going? If you don’t, just leave. Leave now and spare yourself.

“Uhhhhhhhh” <hurriedly slaps the laptop closed> “Be right there!”

I pull my t-shirt over my bum and scamper to my bedroom to pull on the jeans I wore today. I walk calmly to the door and am presented with some steelhead fillet, just removed from the smoker. Forgetting I was a vegetarian (I don’t care about this part in the least) my kind-hearted landlord came all the way downstairs to share some with me! It is presented, still warm, on a paper plate while I thank him for the fish, kindly remind him that I don’t eat meat, but that I’ll make an exception just this once!

He grins and walks away, “Sorry to interrupt!”

I cringe while I feed the fish to my cats. I’m sure it was delicious fish, but the rich smell made my stomach turn while I agonized over the idea of my landlord thinking he caught me masterbating to porn. How will I ever look this guy, or his family, in the eyes again? Seriously? Of all the times to be sitting in my underwear, putting lotion on a sunburn in a place that is usually considered sex-ish, and watching an explicit sex scene making very loud explicit sex noises? Hey Universe, THANKS. I immediately took a shower and decided it was time for bed, safe and unseen in my bedroom where I can hang my head in shame.

You’re welcome.

So I lied, and Chester is Dead

Remember my little fluid-filled friend Chester? Well, my readers, he is no longer with us. He’s journeyed to the home of heroes and legends. He is sowing the wholesome soil of the Elysian fields. Chester has moved into upper management. He is now jumping with glee on the sweet bouncy castle in the sky.

He’s dead.

May the little bastard rest in peace.

May the little bastard rest in peace.

Also, I may have just drank three homemade margaritas and might be a little drunk as I write this.

I haven’t posted anything in a while. I was on this whole “let’s blog about dating and crap” thing and then that got old and I was spending so much time, well, dating and hiking and rock climbing and kayaking and drinking with friends that I didn’t make time for writing. Welp, I’m back, for now.

The doctor says I developed tendinitis in my left hand so no rock climbing/kayaking/paddle boarding for a while. I think this is Chester’s way of saying “So long and thanks for all the fish” but I don’t know. I wouldn’t put it past him to leave something behind for me by which to remember him. What a dick.

So, what’s the occasion for the three margaritas? Last week marked the one year anniversary of the beginning of the end of my marriage. Also, I’m trying to sell my wedding ring and when I went to the jewelry store today to get it all cleaned up and re-etched I had an internal emotional breakdown.

*Missing, trails of snot and spittle on my chin. As you can see, this is not something you want to occur in the light of day.

Looked something like this, only in my brain as I walked aimlessly to my car in the parking lot.

Sometimes people call a close friend, family member, or go to therapy when they experience a difficult moment. I cry alone in my car and then recklessly drive home in order to get drunk alone while watching The Last Unicorn.

Pretty pretty horsy.

Pretty pretty unicorns.

Yes, I specifically planned to go home, drink three margaritas, and watch this movie. Nothing was spontaneous about this plan.

This is how I roll. I compartmentalize and internalize things (wow, words that end in -ize are hefty) and then when they shoot out of my memory and barge into my present state of mind I look to alcohol, sugar, and fantasy genre (in that order) to cope while I work to deal with them. This is why I write, people.

What was the trigger this time? I haven’t had one of these incidents in a whole month, since a difficult phone call, but going to that jewelry store, where I picked that ring out weeks before my wedding day five years ago, was excruciatingly difficult. It wasn’t the fact that I was surrounded by couples picking out sets together for obvious reasons. It wasn’t because the store employee said “Wow, what a beautiful design! Your husband picked out a good one!” (I picked it out and paid for it by myself those years ago) and I struggled to hold my tongue before I burst inappropriately “I’m divorced and I’m selling it so shut up!” It was the fact that I left that place by myself; I walked, just me, across the parking lot to my car and then sat, by myself in my car, with no one else.

The tears came slowly; like can’t-get-the-ketchup-out-of-the-glass-Heinz-bottle slow. I am not one to burst into tears easily and I always bust out the butter knife at restaurants that provide that torturous device in order to get it over with as soon as possible.

I always always ALWAYS buy the "Easy Squeeze" bottle. I pay MONEY not to deal with that crap.

I always always ALWAYS buy the “Easy Squeeze” bottle. I pay MONEY not to deal with that crap.

At first it hurts, like you’ve just jumped off a cliff into the river and tilted your head a little too far to the right so that the surface of the cement-like water met your ear like a belly-flop. It’s painful as the pressure causes a POP and you feel like the Russian Olympic synchronized swimming team is rehearsing in your head . The pressure builds and all you want is to tap your other ear and knock out whatever is causing that super annoying wet sensation. Get it out! Get it out! Then, with the effort I usually put toward sucking a Frappuccino through those ridiculously tiny straws, I cried.

Oh, sweets tears of unfathomable sadness.

Oh, sweet tears of unfathomable sadness.

I lied, I didn’t go straight home after that. That was the last thing I wanted to do. I drove out of my way to a coffee shop, ordered an iced tea, sat outside on their patio in the 90 degree, 99% humidity weather and read a whole volume of The Sandman.

Then I went home and got drunk while watching The Last Unicorn and then I thought it was a stupendous idea to write about crying and ketchup and frappuccinos. In all seriousness, I have been loving the new life I created for myself, packing my days with sunshine, friends, and doing awesome adrenaline-inducing activities. Crying reminds me that I’m human and need to stop, slow down, and think about difficult things when needed. The point is (and there needs to be a point or this is just drunken rambling):  life is good and it just keeps getting better and better, so SUCK IT, KETCHUP.

<Proverbial mic drop>

<Going to go sleep this off>

Pumped, stumped and dumped: A week on OkCupid (Part 2)

If you haven’t already, read my last post, Part 1 of my weeklong saga on OkCupid. Through a combination of laziness and the need to recover from my experience it’s taken me a lot longer than usual to reflect on everything that’s happened during my week of meeting new men.

In my last post I started a list of hints and suggestions for going on first dates, relevant if you’re on a blind date or meeting someone online. This list is a result of me learning from my mistakes due to my naive tendency to give people second, third, fourth, and sometimes fifth chances because I don’t want to be rude. Yeah, it’s dumb. Here’s a recap:

Rule #1: Meet at a common place.

Rule #2: Don’t let yourself have high expectations.

Rule #3: Don’t be afraid to leave.

Rule #4: Don’t give your phone number to men if you’re not interested.

I broke the last three…again. Give me a break though, this was only my third OkCupid meet up (the second one is another story) so I was still learning!

Enter Man #2. At first glance he seemed like a reserved artistic-type that spends a lot of time cruising on his road bike and sketching in coffee houses. He mentioned that he was a barista so my first impression wasn’t too far off. He was more foppish in person than in the photos I viewed online so it threw me off guard at first. The photos I’m speaking of showed a bearded guy with gauged ears and sleeve tattoos rock climbing shirtless (muscles!) at Smith Rock, skydiving, and partying at BrewFest. The man sitting across the table from me at a hipster hub pub in Southeast was giving off a completely different set of impressions.

Within five minutes of the date I noticed that I was out (yet again) with someone who really likes to talk about themselves. The man didn’t ask me ONE question. I was put in the awkward position of volunteering information about my job, hobbies, and family and I really don’t like being there. It makes me feel like I’m forcing the conversation and it gets exhausting after a while. Yet, I wanted to give the guy a chance and he kept buying me beers, so there’s that as well.

So-named Barista Guy wanted to play pool so I said yes and he ordered me another beer. Two-beer-Sarah was making an appearance, which means I was up for any sort of non-sexual activity and laughed at all of his jokes.

Rule #5: Don’t feel pressured to keep up with your date’s alcohol intake.

Let me first say that I did not get drunk on this date. Absolutely not. However, my date did. He was starting to get hands-y but it wasn’t anything I couldn’t handle and I still wanted to enjoy my game of pool, dammit! However, it was at this point in the date when I started getting some weird vibes from Mr. Barista and noticed that he was stepping away to the bathroom every 5-10 minutes. I remember thinking that there was no way in hell he was having to pee that much. Also, his jitteriness and the way he jerked his hands up to wipe his nose eventually clued me into what was probably going on.

Yep, I was on a date with a crackhead. Well, cokehead to be more accurate.

Winning.

Rule #6: If your date is actively partaking in illegal drugs during their time with you, GET THE HELL OUT.

Hey, I’m all for the “to each his own” philosophy, but if someone can’t get through a single freakin’ date, and a first one at that, without snorting or smoking something hallucinogenic or excessively stimulant, don’t waste your time with them. It’s not worth it – no matter how hot or charming they are. They are on a date with you and their priority is getting high, not getting to know you, so that should clue you in to what a second or third date would be like with them.

I did not leave right away. I’m not proud. You see, I have this persistent need to finish everything I start and this pool game was taking forever. We were playing another couple and I was thrashing them both so of course I had to stay. If I had to fight off the now-obviously horny cokehead barista man because his drugs disillusioned him into thinking our date was headed toward me staying at his place that night, that was what I was going to do if it meant we finished the damn game.

A visual of my awesomeness. You’re welcome. (That’s not me.)

The pool game was done and my ass had been grabbed about eight times, promptly answered of course with a slap at the hand that was doing the grabbing and simple, comprehensive verbalization: “Please stop.” It was time to go home.

Mr. Barista asked if he could walk me to my car.

Rule #7: If you don’t want to see him again, decline his invitation to walk you to your car.

I said yes because for some reason I felt rude doing the opposite. I immediately regretted my decision. My theory is that, while on the surface guys think they are doing a nice thing, the whole “walking you to your car that’s right outside” move is also a way of setting themselves up for opportunity, which is okay within reason. This can be on a wide spectrum from “asking for a second date” on the far left, “trying to kiss you” right smack dab in the middle, and then the far right “aggressively coaxing you to come home with them and have raging animal-like sexual relations.” When I turned to politely thank Cokehead Barista Guy he portrayed the far-right strategy and came at me like a spider monkey, pressed me against my car, and went in for a wet, sloppy, spastic tongue kiss. My trustworthy “starfish-hand-to-face” motion completely missed his face and pitifully batted at the air next to his right ear.

Ew.

That’s all I can think as I type this and remember.

Ew.

This was a kiss like nothing I have ever experienced, and I’ve kissed high school adolescent boys (when I was also in high school, of course).  I think the coke running through his system caused his brain to think it would be super hot to bite my bottom lip so hard that HE DREW BLOOD.

Thanks.

Sha-la-la-la-la-la My, oh, my

He also grabbed my ass so harshly in the process that I felt like I was caught eschew in a woodshop student’s vice ready to be sawed at, so in lieu of losing a butt cheek I promptly pushed him away, said thank you for the drinks, and drove home in a confused, disoriented daze.

The next day I had to work and I was in such a funk you’d think I was suffering from PTSD. My lip looked like I had been smacked in the mouth and my left butt check smarted some. I felt like I was wandering through a cloud of guilt because I let that guy do those things to me and didn’t say anything to him about it. Yes, I did not have sex with him, and he didn’t really violate me in the textbook sense, but I did feel a bit, well, trampled upon. My whole day was just strange, like a dream I hadn’t awoken from, and I kept kicking myself for having stayed on that date so long.

Rule #8: Don’t EVER EVER EVER let a date pressure you into anything you don’t want to do.

I followed this rule. I kept having to remind myself of this fact since I did receive a lot of unwanted touching on my date, but I didn’t let him talk me into going home with him (it wasn’t hard, ladies) and I didn’t let him go further than that unfortunate kiss. However, that next morning I did feel a little stupid about not cutting that date short, even if it meant quitting in the middle of a pool game, and even went so far as to blame myself for everything. I blamed myself for his actions and that is so, so stupid.

He was responsible for his own actions because he chose to treat me the way he did for his own agenda, regardless of my reactions and words.

I had to remind myself that I was dealing with a guy that was high as a kite and didn’t know how to respect a woman, especially one he just met. I don’t feel guilty or ashamed anymore, but the fact that I had those thoughts really got me thinking about the slut-shaming and victim blaming that can be the fallout of a woman being sexually assaulted.  It’s so fucked up. One of my favorite blogs is Feminspire and they wrote this article shortly after the media starting reporting (finally) the disgusting events that happened in Steubenville last year. It discusses the content of a new music video released by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs that portrays how vicious and deadly slut-shaming affects our culture.

I feel like I was slut-shaming myself in my head after this date. I was actually listing through what I was wearing (I looked “first date classy”), how I was (appropriately and justified in) bending over to play pool, how I was talking to him, what signals I may have unintentionally given him –  it’s stupid that I was doing that to myself. My guess is I am not the first woman to have my face ravaged by this guy so I know it’s not anything I did, he just wanted to do it.

To end on a lighter note, I have one more story to tell and, you guessed it, I got dumped (sorta). Stay tuned for next time!

Pumped, stumped and dumped: A week on OkCupid (Part 1)

Yes, I took the plunge. After almost two months of being single I decided to try out this whole online dating thing. Don’t get me wrong, at this point I had met a few people at bars, the climbing gym, and on the bus (oh boy, is that a story) so the issue wasn’t really an inability to meet men. I never really felt I was able to fully put myself out there because of my job, my investment in friendships, and a pretty active lifestyle. Seriously, putting yourself out there is a bit exhausting and you have to deal with a lot of creepers, so at the end of two months I was emotionally drained from all the late nights at bars, interrupted reading time at coffee houses, and being propositioned by a ganga grower I sat next to for 30 minutes on the bus. It’s not like I am turning to online dating because I feel this desperate need for male attention or a relationship, I was more driven by curiosity since my only dating experience before now has been within a high school or college campus environment.

I'm a-strummin the guitar so the girls will be a-comin.

College: where you find boyfriends just by following the sound of a guitar.

I set up a profile last week at OkCupid; it is pretty quick depending on how much information you want to share. You slap up a few photos, list your favorites movies, music, hobbies, and even get down to the nitty gritty details like your height, body type, and how much money you make. I felt like I was placing an ad for myself on Craigslist (no, not like THAT you sicko) while trying to make myself sound like the coolest person ever. A few of the questions were hard to take seriously, so I didn’t. (“The most private thing I’m willing to admit,” really? You think I’ll type that up right now on the FOREVER INTERNET?)

Two minutes after I posted my profile I had six messages from willing suitors. Don’t call me a braggart, it’s just how the internet works. I’m willing to bet there are hundreds of people just in the Portland area logged into OkCupid trolling the market on an hourly basis, maybe even more frequent than that. You can message back and forth with a person on an instant message feature and I downloaded the app on my iPhone so I was already in the middle of ten different conversations on my bus ride home from work. Luckily there’s a handy “Block” feature where you can ignore the creepers that like to say “Hi” by offering you oral sex and their hairy bodies. <shudder>

My profile brings all the boys to the yard...

My profile brings all the boys to the yard…

You can even view who has visited your profile (much like LinkedIn) and see with whom OkCupid matched you using their highly sophisticated algorithm. This is dependent on you answering dozens of questions about your personality, personal philosophy, political/religious beliefs, and sexual needs (these get awkward and very personal, like “Fifty Shades of Grey personal”). You are encouraged by the peeps of OkCupid to fill out as many questions as possible with the insistence that the more you answer, the more accurate the matches.

I set up a date with Man #1 for the next night. Yes, it’s that quick. I was so excited about this date because it would be the first somewhat “blind date/meet-up” I’ve ever done and I was determined to WIN (because everything is a game to me). You could say that I was…pumped…?

Rule #1: Meet at a common place. Don’t let a strange man pick you up where you live. That’s stupid.

We met at a restaurant for what I thought would just be “drinks.” I remember liking the way he looked in his pictures, he was a huge fan of the same kind of music and Arrested Development, and we had a lot of fun chatting over IM. When I walked up to him in the bar I immediately felt like an asshole because the first thing I noticed was that he was probably three or four inches shorter than he said on his OkCupid profile. I was wearing minimal heel-age and at 5′ 5″ I towered over him. I have a type, and they are at least the same height as me. He also liked to talk about himself. A lot. Too much. My mind was making this noise.

Rule #2: Don’t let yourself have high expectations. He’ll just let you down..

After a chat over a neat Buffalo Trace and three Blue Moons (yes, the latter were all his and served in conspicuous foot-long glasses with a giant orange slice) he said that he was going to check on our table. My heart dropped. I thought this was only “drinks” so I was actually on my way out as soon as my whiskey finished making its heated way into my belly. I was exhausted from listening to this guy obsessively discuss his job, his truck, and quoting lines from each and every Arrested Development episode ever made and I definitely didn’t want to sit through another two hours while we try to order food in a very busy restaurant. I sighed and downed my whiskey before a host guided us to a table.

Buffalo Trace: Is it in you? (It better be if you want to get through this date.)

Buffalo Trace: Is it in you? (It better be if you want to get through this date.)

Rule #3: Don’t be afraid to leave. It’s okay, really.

At this point I should have clarified with my suitor that I could only stay for one drink and then excuse myself for some other dinner plans. But I didn’t. I don’t know why. Yes, I do: I avoid confrontation as a rule, am a pushover for free food, and since he was buying everything I ordered another whiskey (he had another two Blue Moons) and stuffed my face with bread while he went on and on about his family origins from Western Europe. The dinner lasted two hours. Oh god, it was a loooooong two hours and I think I only said about a dozen sentences the whole time and that was difficult enough. I had to stay to fake my intention of splitting the check, but when it came he let the waiter talk him into signing up for the restaurant chain’s rewards program. If you are a man and reading this, do not ever decide that the right time to fill out an application for a credit card is while you are on a date. It’s tacky and it’s weird.

Rule #4: Don’t give your phone number to men if you’re not interested. It’s mean.

The date ended only with a hug (thank god, I didn’t want to have to starfish his face with an open palm) but he asked for my phone number. I am a people pleaser by nature and usually say “Yes” to things without thinking, so I gave it to him. This was not so smart, nor kind. I knew I didn’t want to date this guy. I knew I didn’t want to have to suffer through another moment of him listening to his own voice go on and on and on about the size of the rims on his truck. And yet, when he asked anxiously for my number after saying that I “was such a great listener” (you made it easy, buddy) I still gave it to him. This made me feel like a horrible person when I then ignored his texts for five days. If you are a man and a woman doesn’t text you back after receiving 20 text messages over the course of five days, she’s not interested, leave her alone.

So that was my first experience, but it’s not the juiciest or the creepiest or the scariest, so tune in for next time so you can learn from my horrible, stupid mistakes (I may or may not have gone out with a crackhead, still debating).

Why I get inked.

I have three tattoos and I love them all. No regrets, no embarrassment, no bad experiences. I just got my third one a week ago and I’m already gunning for more!

Part of why I love getting tattoos so much is the process beforehand. The masochist part of me also enjoys the pain but I don’t want to make you uncomfortable…

Who am I kidding? I don’t care. But I will talk about that later.

I have been fascinated with tattoos since I read this as a kid:

And this tattooing had been the work of a departed prophet and seer of his island, who, by those hieroglyphic marks, had written out on his body a complete theory of the heavens and the earth, and a mystical treatise on the art of attaining truth; so that Queequeg in his own proper person was a riddle to unfold; a wondrous work in one volume; but whose mysteries not even himself could read, though his own live heart beat against them; and these mysteries were therefore destined in the end to moulder away with the living parchment whereon they were inscribed, and so be unsolved to the last.  ~Herman Melville, Moby-Dick

My tattoos aren’t like makeup, an augmentation to temporarily change the way I look and then wash off at the end of the day. My tattoos are a part of me, an extension, amplification, of my being. My process for getting tattoos is this: pick something that is both meaningful and beautiful, and then find a way to portray it to the world in a way that represents who I am. 

Dove Tattoo

Exhibit A: First tattoo (right ankle).

*Note: All photos are right after I got the tattoos (before they healed).

This was my first experience paying a stranger to permanently etch something into my skin so I went with a script, which I highly recommend for other needle virgins. I found the dove from a design I saw on the web and the script says “Shalom” in Hebrew. The tattooing only took twenty minutes and was the cheapest kind of tattoo to get. It only hurt a little bit (I tell people it felt like scratching a sunburn), and it was something I could easily hide and wouldn’t be very noticeable (obviously not something I care about anymore). I chose the word “Shalom” because I admire the word’s meaning and the intricate beauty of the Hebrew script. Make sure you have a reliable source (in my case a professor at my university) check your translation. You don’t want to end up with a tattoo in Chinese you think says “Peace” that actually means “Prostitute.” I was currently studying Conflict Resolution and on my way to Rwanda and Uganda to study peacekeeping and the Rwandan Genocide for a semester. I cherish the ability to “wish peace” on others through actual words and actions. I am a people pleaser, what can I say?

My next tattoo was five years later, mostly because I knew I wanted something more complex and needed to save up.

Peacock tattoo

I wanna see your peacock cock cock… (left shoulder).

I chose a peacock because they are bewitchingly gorgeous. It’s in the “art nouveau” style which is my favorite; all whimsical and flowy with jewel-like colors. I wasn’t initially looking for any type of symbolism. However, in early 2012 I was discovering the meaning of beauty and dismantling my distortion of its definition within myself. It took me five months to decide on this tattoo. I was about to turn 27 and feeling pretty great about my life. I don’t remember ever feeling as confident or secure with myself and I wanted to celebrate it by putting a stunning animal on my shoulder where it will be seen when I feel my hottest – in a strapless dress or tank top. After I got the tattoo I read that the peacock is a symbol of renewal and resurrection and it only made sense.

2012 turned out to be a shitty year for me and in October I started planning my next tattoo. I call 2012 my “year of reckoning and discovery of what resilience feels like when it counts.” So, a willow tree it is!

Willow Tree

Whimsical foliage is the best kind of foliage (right forearm).

There is a lot about willow trees I love. They are gorgeous, their roots run crazy deep so they are a symbol of strength and resilience (ask any home owner who’s had to have one removed from their property), and they also symbolize feminine intuition and grasp of sorrow. I have been re-discovering and studying womanhood and feminism so an owl (my favorite animal and symbol of feminine wisdom) was perfect to stick in there on a branch. There are also kodama faces hidden throughout the tree as tribute to my love of Hayao Miyazaki films. In my favorite, Princess Mononoke, they are a symbol of health and happiness in a forest or a particular tree.

The choice to permanently mark my skin is a big one and I don’t take it lightly. I spend a lot of time planning and designing these guys. Shauna at Grizzly Tattoo did my peacock and tree (the guy that did the dove no longer tattoos) and is crazy talented but I definitely did my homework before finding her. You should only go to licensed/certified tattoo parlors, not only because it still allows you to continue to donate blood to the Red Cross, but it’s just sensible and safe. Letting a drunk friend lurchingly etch your girlfriend’s name on your bicep probably isn’t a good idea; this isn’t either:

Make sure you choose something that will be meaningful to you 20-30 years down the road. You might want to rethink tattooing your boyfriend’s face on your chest, or anyone’s face for that matter. Also, look at the portfolio of the artist to make sure your styles match. Part of the reason why I went back to Shauna is not just because she’s super cool and hilarious while putting you at ease throughout the process, but because she gets me. She actually understands my style and vision. I took pages of images and drawings in to Shauna and spent about a month just consulting with her before even making an appointment. Give yourself time to get ready and make any last minute changes before you seal the deal.

Also, maybe run spellcheck on your script.

Also, maybe run spellcheck on your script.

Tattoos do hurt, but for me it’s a “hurts so good” kind of pain that makes me feel alive. Okay, less cliché: it makes me feel infinite, yet mortal. I have the ability to feel pain because I’m a human being and because I can feel this pain I am able to distinguish between good and bad; I am capable of recognizing what I do or don’t want to experience. My shoulder tattoo hurt a bit where she had to go over the end of my collar bone, and then my willow tree was testing my limits toward the end, but the throbbing, raw feeling of that needle etching into your skin, and then watching it heal afterward into an exquisite manifestation of your essence makes the experience complete. When I am an old lady with baggy veiny skin and these images don’t look as awesome as they do now, yes, I may consider them a mistake and feel the need to cover them up, but I will also look back at my youth as a Bright Young Thing and remember the pain and how beautifully fresh they looked with fond nostalgia. I’m a big fan of nostalgia. Isn’t part of life learning how not to regret your past mistakes but learn from their reminder?

I am already planning my next tattoo. I will not give any spoilers, but I will say that it will be awesome, beautiful, and with a sense of humor.

A street car oozing with desire.

She’s hurrying through the rain to the street car that is on the brink of pulling away from the oh-so-close stop. There, made it. Whew. The bangs that are slowly-but-surely growing out are plastered to a dewy forehead and the tome-like library books got some rain but they should be fine. Ear buds are pressed into place so that Jeff Mangum sings ever so louder before drops of rain are brushed lightly from a messenger bag. She settles in the hard seat and straightens her back to observe her surroundings.

Immediate eye contact is made with a pair of clear blue eyes and perfectly mussed hair. Male eyes and male hair. Yep, he’s good looking. Male eyes are suddenly looking back and there’s a flash and a jolt as female eyes quickly dart away.

Lean forward.

Look disinterested.

Glance out the window.

Think about what could be arranged or nonchalantly messed. Look out the window again. Is he staring? Does he notice her? Look toward the window across the aisle. She will look at everything but him no matter how much she wants to.

Fingertips tingle, ears buzz, toes go numb in soggy boots; she ever-so-carefully sneaks a glance at the coif with legs through the corner of her right eye. He is staring. Both smile with half their mouth, a mirror-image of the sideways grin, a “no big deal” facade belying a turmoil of fluttering in the stomach region. Both look away.

She feels his gaze return to her right cheek as they pass the park.

Change the music on your phone.

Gaze with feigned interest at a book.

Run fingers through damp hair.

His stop is here and there’s motion toward the sliding door. She looks once more and chances a full-mouthed smile that he mirrors yet again. He steps off and his back is to her. She follows it with the glare of the sun and her own reflection in her eyes. The street car pulls away as he turns his head to look again. He is walking away, smiling at her, hair bouncing, shrinking toward amorphous anonymity.

She holds his gaze, making the eye contact last as long as possible, the streetcar still permeated with the remains of desire, longing, and what-ifs. She stares at this smiling stranger and looks on as he walks full on into an oak tree.

Yep. True story.