Why I miss being a teenager.

I can’t stop reading young adult novels and watching coming of age films and TV shows. I’m currently sweating off a binge-watching session of Buffy the Vampire Slayer whilst couch ridden with the flu and just caught the new coming of age movie The Spectacular Now. I also read all of John Green’s books over the summer and just started The Brothers K for the third time. I can’t seem to pry myself from stories of major transitions and heartache and redefining oneself – it just won’t stop!

It's also Fall so that means I'll probably start reading Harry Potter again so I can live vicariously through Hermione.

It’s also Fall so that means I’ll probably start reading Harry Potter again so I can live vicariously through Hermione.

Maybe it’s the nostalgia of remembering a time when I was younger and  more awkward (yes, that’s possible) and brimming with the type of teen angst that comes with growing up during the 90s, but I am experiencing bouts of melancholy that accompany the turning of leaves and crisp mornings. Fall always makes me remember returning to school every year with thoughts of new beginnings and “maybe this year I will be cooler and prettier and more popular.”

My teenage self invokes an “Oh, honey…” from my twenty-eight year old self.

My teenage self invokes an “Oh, honey…” from my twenty-eight year old self.

When I visited my parents this summer I read some of the poems and short stories I wrote as a kid; writing was a passion, therefore I wrote about everything. Memories of feeling embarrassed about my lack of boob-age, inadequate around popular boys, and incomparable around their equally popular and pretty girlfriends crashed over me like a rogue wave. I wouldn’t have called myself “unpopular” or “one of those outcasts” in high school, but I definitely wasn’t the Regina George of the place. Beneath these nostalgic feelings I actually found myself, wait for it, longing for my long lost teenage ability to feel my emotions without hiding or ignoring them.

There, I said it. I wish I had the emotional capability of a teenager again. My passion is storytelling, whether it’s about an awkward experience I had walking down the street last week, or about how pop culture affects our society. At one point in my life I purposely stuffed this passion into the attic of my mind and ignored it for more “grownup things.” It’s silly, I know. I left home, went to college, got married, started a career, paid my taxes, bought a new car, I deemed these kinds of things “important” because I thought I had to. It took a dramatic life changing event like a divorce to resurrect my real passions and put me in touch with feelings I haven’t looked in the eye for a long time, since I was in my teens.

John Green says it perfectly in this interview:

“…teenagers don’t create ironic distances between themselves and their experiences the way that adults do. They’re deliciously unafraid of feeling. As adults, we don’t tend to look directly at those questions. It’s like looking at the sun for us. Teenagers are really alive inside the emotional experience of being human.”

Boom. There it is. Nothing is more adult than the compartmentalization and repression of the feelings that come about as a result of our experiences. Yes, it comes paired with a dose of hormone surges and awkward body transformations but I want to capture a part of that impulsiveness and wanderlust in my search for real living. Nobody feels more alive and invincible than a sixteen year old and though that does tend to lead to bad decisions it can also lead to awesomeness. What can we do to make sure we don’t lose this as we venture into adulthood while focusing it toward doing awesome things?

Think about the people in this world that act on their urge to make positive changes. We have incredible young women like sixteen year old education activist/gave a giant finger to the Taliban by surviving their assassination attempt Malala Yousafzai who brought me to tears during her interview on The Daily Show last week.

Did you need to grab a tissue during that? How about Andy Didorosi who, only 25 at the time, started his own bus company when public transportation failed his community.

What if they had ignored their passion for education or love of their community in lieu of taking action toward creating change?

There are many studies in progress on the attitude and work ethic of the Millennial Generation (Generation Y), which is anyone born between 1980 and the early 2000s. We are called the “Me Generation” because of our self-entitlement and narcissistic tendencies, but at the same time we are more civic-minded than any other generation, and at a younger age. More and more teenagers are starting charities in their hometowns, twenty-somethings out of college are demanding a better work life balance while investing in their communities; who is to say we are less mature than the generations of our parents and grandparents were when they were our age? We just have a different way of utilizing our maturity and boy are we good at it.

This goes to say that we need to harness this optimism instead of calling it naiveté and capture this need to fervidly pursue a certain interest instead of calling it “a phase.” We shouldn’t ignore our feelings and disconnect from our passions. We can’t silence this teenage part of ourself and be completely happy at the same time; it’s a good part! Let it live! Let it do awesome things!

Over and out.

DFTBA

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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.