Valentines Day: A Lesson From My High Schoolers

Sometimes as a teacher, I’m fortunate enough to learn valuable life-changing lessons from my students. One of those lessons is what I should not put up with from men on Valentines Day.
   I had a lot of blessings this Valentines Day. I actually got a chance to substitute teach again at the local continuation high school. Being able to connect with kids in a positive way is a very rewarding experience. These kids do not care for teachers in general (especially substitutes) and if you happen to be a white teacher, let’s just say you have your work cut out for you. It is an exercise in character building to say the least. I always tell myself that the only reward in taking an easy sub job over a more challenging one is that it’s easy. While working with these students, I’ve learned (by overhearing side conversations) about sex ed (handjobs), what to do if you have a pregnancy scare, where the best meth parties are in the desert, the difference between a “ghetto weave” and a “nice weave” and about how smoking weed “isn’t really a drug” and “it improves your concentration in school.” The best lesson I learned by far is what guys should give you on Valentines Day.
  I’ve had several suitors over the years attempt to seduce me with their well thought out and even better executed Valentines Day “gifts.” Let’s start with my magical Valentine of 2008 when the guy I was dating asked me if I wanted to go to the local bar to get a drink:

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Why of course I’d love you to win me over with alcohol on the most romantic day of the year. I could tell this date was planned for over a month (I will add my “sarcastic smiley” 😉 for those of you that are unfamiliar with sarcasm).

Who can forget Valentines Day 2009 when I was given a single rose (Just the rose by itself):

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….From Big Bob’s Last Second Roadside Valentines Day Emporium:

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Perhaps the most “memorable” Valentines Day was 2013 when my last boyfriend gave me…wait for it….

NOTHING!!!!!

And the funny thing was all three of these guys thought they were going to get laid. They didn’t even deserve a peck on the cheek. Ain’t nobody got time.

As I was teaching at the continuation high school, my female students for all 6 periods got the whole lot-flowers (plural), candy, and a teddy bear:

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It made me realize I was putting up with way less than I deserved. These girls were just 15-17 years old and their Valentines gifts from their 15-17 year old boyfriends were way better than the Valentines Day gifts I received as an adult. It was a wake up call. I’m going to expect better for my future suitors. Time to raise the bar.

At least I didn’t have any desperate, creepy guys on tinder that I’ve only known for three days try to rush to meet me so they wouldn’t be single on Valentines Day. That was my other Valentines Day blessing.

This is the time of your life, but you just can’t tell

“When I used to go out, I knew everyone I saw. Now I go out alone if I go out at all.” -The Walkmen “The Rat”

This 2005 indie hit was the soundtrack to a magical window in my life, the glorious coming-of- age years between 2005 and 2009 when I was between 22 and 26. During these precious four years I was going out a minimum of once a week with my sister, friends, and boyfriends to all the Indie/hipster clubs, bars, house parties, art walks, and special invite-only events all over L.A.
I knew a lot of people I would run into. They were other scenesters who were regulars just like I was. Some were my friends from college. Others were my friends from Hollywood. It was during those years that I was coming of age with those closest to me. I was merely not part of the scene, but was among those “in the know” who was helping to carve it out. We were discovering life and savoring the newness of young adult independence. I knew the time would come when my “scene” would migrate and change. My social invitations would slow down as we started to drift away from each other with college graduation, careers, life changing moves, and other necessary adult goals. That time for me came in 2010. As we pursued other interests and obligations, I knew I would be going out alone if I would go out at all. Life would still be fun for me, just a more responsible kind of fun. Nothing would quite be the same as those formative years when we each had our finger on the pulse just being irresponsible, carefree, and living life with an innocent sense of self discovery and vigor that can never quite be recaptured.
I was recently discovering the app called Songza which selects playlists based on your mood and what you’re doing (it’s pretty cool and worth checking out). I perused the Indie playlists until I came across a mix called “On the Indie dancefloor The ’00s.” Every song I enjoyed on the dancefloor during 2005-2009 re-entered my life like a long lost friend. A flood of fond memories came rushing over me. I was young, happy, and alive once again. When MGMT’s “Kids” came on, I was suddenly transported back in time to 2009, dancing the night away at an L.A. house party to that song. I was one of those “party kids” who took other kids by the hand to enter our version of Never Never Land where we were stuck in a moment of fantasy. When Hot Chip’s “Over and Over” came on, I was taken back to an L.A. club feeling primal and sweaty with my sister and friends on the dancefloor laughing about boys. At the ripe age of 30, I don’t really feel like I qualify as being old enough to reminisce about when I used to feel alive, young, happy, and carefree. I feel as though the ‘noughts not ought to have come and gone so quickly. Do any of you have a time in your life accompanied by a musical soundtrack that reminds you of being young, happy, innocently worryfree and not burdened with the pressures of adulthood? Please share below 🙂

Re-prioritizing Dating

In my recent experiences online dating, I have learned that men in their 20s want to date women in their 20s. Makes sense. They are the same age, the same stage, and want the same things out of life. When I first signed up for online dating three years ago at 27, I noticed that men 25 and older wanted to date women 23 and younger. It was in their profiles: “Seeking women 18-23.” Don’t get me started on the social  implications of a man 25+ who wants his “woman” balancing that tightrope of “barely legal.” I guess older men want to date child acrobats.

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Guys: If you would rather date the “Dance” contestants rather than the “Dance Moms”, there is a special place on okcupid for you!

Ladies and gentlemen, I have some startling news: as men get older, that proverbial tightrope gets tighter. I am now 30. During my most recent online dating experiences, I have found that men ages 28-38 list in their profiles, “Seeking women ages 19-26.” Twenty six is pretty generous. Most men cut it off at 24. I had a 31 year old college professor write to me and say, “I decided to join okcupid because I am getting tired of my students being able to find me on plenty of fish.” I suggested, “Why don’t you increase your desired age range from 18-26 to 26-36? You won’t be bothered by college age girls anymore since you’ll be dating women your own age.” Apparently he didn’t appreciate that insight as much as I did. I never heard from him again. And that’s fine. I am going to be the real me during my online dating exploits: wit, wisdom, age, and all. I’m not going to be the girl guys would like to see.
Patti Stanger, the Millionaire Matchmaker thinks differently. In her recent article, “The Midlife Dating Game: having fun after 50” Stanger affirms, “Men don’t want to pick you if you’re over 50. The minute you say you’re over 50, you’re out. But if you say you’re 40, you’re in. There’s an ageism in our society.” Among her tips for snagging that “dream guy” online? “Shaving a couple of years off your online profile might improve your prospects.”
As someone who has seen first hand how ageist guys are towards girls who are even just 30, I am inclined to disagree. Starting a relationship off on a dishonest note is no way to start a relationship. If a guy can’t handle your real age, what do you want with him? Stanger recommends working overtime to get a guy to approve of YOU when you should be the one putting him to the test to see if he’s good enough for YOU. Stanger recommends, “Always look your best, even if you’re going to the gas station.” If you’re the type of woman who likes to straighten her hair and put on makeup every time she leaves the house, more power to you. I am not one of those women. You can’t even get me to put on lipgloss unless it’s a special occasion. And fyi, “work”, “Walmart”, and the “gas station” are not special occasions. I’m a firm believer in being who you are, looking the way you are, and acting the way you are. The right guy will come along. I for one am not going to live my life in a way to seek approval from other men. In high school, the kids used to call it “staying true to yourself.” Who would have thought high school would be the time in our lives when everything was simpler, more honest, more transparent? I’ve given up on online dating until further notice. If guys my age want someone younger and say in their profile that they must be “attractive,” then I agree. I’d like to find an attractive guy too. And I won’t find him online. When I go out, I’m going to be me. If I don’t want to wear makeup or my hair in anything other than a ponytail, I’m not going to. Fun fact: every guy I’ve dated, I’ve met in person while wearing glasses, no makeup, and my hair in a ponytail. It’s that winning smile, personality, and brains that draw men to us. It is not saying what they want to hear, looking the way they think we should look, and agreeing with everything they say. Sorry, but I don’t buy into the Malibu Stacy form of dating as suggested by Patti Stanger and countless others: *cue coquettish giggly doll voice* “Let’s put on makeup so the boys will like us.”
Because if I have to change who I am, lie about my age, and hang out in places I wouldn’t normally hang out in just to snag a man, I can honestly say I’d rather not date. I realize my journey in finding the right person is not going to be quick or easy. I’m okay with that. I am going to find happiness and meaning in other ways: family, friends, work, and hobbies. But meanwhile, I hope I can make all of you laugh and enlighten you along the way. My life may not turn out being married with children by the time I’m forty. I’ve accepted a wide range of alternate scenarios. Because the moment you become desperate to attract a man like so many dating “experts” suggest, you are done. Remember it is better to be alone than to feel alone.

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“Let’s put on makeup so the boys will like us!”

Adventures in texting with my ex

Just an update: in my last blog titled “Friends with benefits benefits no one,” I mentioned that my ex and I were going to try being friends with no benefits. I wrote that I would give y’all an update on how it goes. Here’s the deets:

Starting August 1st, my ex texted me just to say hi for the first time after our breakup on March 30th. He asked if I was still mad at him. I said I wasn’t mad and that I would like to make a fresh start as friends. He agreed and said, “That sounds awesome.”

Our exchange went something like this:

Him:

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(This is the second Oprah picture I have used in a blog. Call me obsessed. Just don’t call me maybe)

Me:

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(Fun fact: I look nothing like this)

We continued texting just to say hi for the entire month. It seemed as if we were heading in a new, positive direction: friends with no benefits. We mutually agreed on it and it was written. On August 30th, a month after our new arrangement, I ask him how he was doing after his leg injury. He replies that he is feeling better. I tell him, “You need to rest up for all the adventures that may lie ahead.”
He answers, “I just need to find someone who’s willing to share those adventures with me.”
I said, “You’ll find someone you like.”
He rejoins, “That’s exactly what’s going to happen. You seem pretty upset about that.”
I tell him, “Not at all. I was just validating your feelings. I think we’re good as friends, but we’re not really a match when it comes to being in a relationship.”
Then he says, “Sweet. Glad we see eye to eye on that. I’m hanging out with my dad. I’ll text you later.”

End scene. It has been a week and I haven’t heard anything else from him.

This is what I get texting a 23 year old. This feels like a game, an emotional mindfuck if you will. At 30, I just don’t have time for this. I told him if there’s anything more he’d like to discuss, he can talk to me anytime. It’s unlikely he’ll jump on that offer. Dating younger men is like dealing with my students. I try to get them to be clear about what they are trying to tell me and they cannot quite put into words what they are trying to convey. I will forgive them, though. They are all between the ages of 3-10. This is a grown ass man (I think). Maybe I’m expecting too much. Some of my lady friends thought he was trying to propose the idea of us dating again and then got butthurt when I told him he would find someone he likes. Another school of thought was that he was trying to tell me he wanted to move on. Either way, it could have been more clear and done in a more direct, mature fashion. But the important lesson to be gained from this is I ain’t even mad, bro. Maybe you are. It is just a disappointment that a new beginning for us was ended abruptly by an immature text message exchange. The classic Blink 182 song “What’s my age again?” comes to mind. Chances are if you’re in your late twenties or early thirties, you’ll remember the famous chorus from jr. high or high school:  “Nobody likes you when you’re 23…”

(This is a live version without the nudity found in the original music video)

As you’re reading this and enjoying Blink 182’s blast from the past, feel free to share your thoughts on what you think my ex was trying to say or any similar stories you may have 🙂

How to tell if you’re in a dead end friendship

Friendship can be a fun addition to your life if you’re in the right kind of friendship. The “right kind” of friendship involves a give and take. You both have a lot in common, you both listen to each other speak, and you have the same interests. Seems easy to be able to tell, right?
Sometimes we are tricked into thinking we found a new friend when in actuality, we found ourselves a new career opportunity called Unpaid Therapist. How can you tell if your friend has designated you to be her unpaid therapist? If she calls you up to meet for drinks because she “has a bunch of stuff to tell you”, that is actually code for “I’m going to go on and on about my guy problems while you give me advice that I have no intention of taking.” You are tricked into meeting her for drinks because after she tells you “the bunch of stuff she needs to tell you” then you think you will have your chance to tell her what’s going on with you. The problem is, it hardly ever works that way. Your friend will spend the whole night telling you what a jerk the guy she’s seeing is because he (Fill in the blank: Didn’t call when he said he would, canceled their date, or makes her drive to his house for “dates”). Then you think to yourself, “Is my fellow 30 year old friend really asking my advice on something that any 15 year old would be able to answer?” You then give her advice as she immediately interrupts with, “Yeah. So do you think that’s normal for him to do that? He didn’t do that when we were first dating.” As if that isn’t bad enough that she totally steamrolled over all your advice by basically ignoring you and going on about her guy, you might find it helpful to jump in with, “I had a similar experience when the guy I was seeing canceled our date. I…” She will then cut you off- “Anyway, I just don’t get it.” It is at that point when you realize she doesn’t want to talk to you and have a give and take conversation. She needs someone willing to listen to the sound of her own voice. You might feel useful by being able to help your friend. If she takes your advice, great. But what will most likely happen will be she will call you in a week or two to meet up for drinks because she “has a bunch of stuff to tell you” (sound familiar?) and you will meet with her because you want to hear how it all turned out following your advice. Instead, she will tell you about how she decided to give her guy another chance. They had a date for Saturday night and he, (gasp!) canceled it!! What should she do??? It is at this point when you might be thinking, “Didn’t I tell you to stop seeing him, you dumb bitch?”
If you so much as put it in a kinder way such as, “Well I told you he’d probably do it again, so you should move on” she will reply with,
“But I really like him!” She will then tell you everything she likes about this very obvious horse’s ass. But the only horse’s ass is you because you are allowing this fake friend to completely waste your time. Don’t fool yourself into thinking she needs you. She just needs a sounding board. And one simply does not have time for that. If you have ever felt like this, it is time to move on:

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I have had a lot of “friends” like this recently. I’ve met up with them to listen to their guy problems and have given them great advice because I’ve been there. Then they turn around and do what they want. I’m sure they would eventually listen to my guy problems, but I wouldn’t want to take advice from friends who at age 30 have the naivete of 15 year olds (and I thought I was inexperienced!). If you find yourself in this draining situation, run don’t walk to the friend store and do a trade-in for your clunker.

And if you feel you are competing for her attention over one of these, make like one of these and trade up:

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Because Honey Child, you deserve better.

Wanting to know whether to talk to that cool guy or girl in class? Go for it!

Society tells us that the time to go to college is immediately after high school, between the ages of 18 and 22. These are the years that we form most of our friendships, relationships, and social connections that will carry us through the rest of our twenties and beyond. The problem is most of us enter college with a lot of emotional baggage still left over from high school. We are still nervous if our peers will think we’re cool enough, good looking enough, and interesting enough to be worthy to talk to. These insecurities can prevent us from talking to people who might wind up becoming our friends, boyfriends, girlfriends, or enrich our lives in some meaningful way. It takes years to shake all these insecurities left over from high school. I wish the social skills I now have in my thirties could be teleported to my 20 year old self.
  …..Flashback to 2003. I was sitting in my psychology class in college on the first day. My professor wanted each of us to say something interesting about ourselves as a way to get to know each other. The reserved, handsome, brooding guy next to me stated his name and said, “I play guitar. My favorite song is “How Soon Is Now” by The Smiths”. The outgoing, cute, blonde guy next to me introduced, “I am a comedian. The Berenstain Bears is the last book I read.” I said, “My name is Sydney. I am a writer.”
I had so much in common with those two guys and they actually had a lot in common with me. Playing the guitar, being a comedian, and writing are all intertwined. Not to mention The Smiths and The Berenstain Bears are my two passions that have made me who I am: quirky, morose, reserved, innocent, and a natural curiosity to learn more about those around me. If only I would have been brave enough to talk to those guys. We could have taken on the world. We could have teamed up and created a project whether it be a band, screenplay, or some YouTube wackiness that only we and our other close friends would see.  Instead, I let a whole semester go by without saying a word to my seat neighbors. They also never said a word to me. Missed opportunities happen a lot in one’s early twenties due to a lack of self confidence. In our thirties we become more self confident. We are able to just randomly introduce ourselves to a stranger. We don’t care if our conversational skills are up to par. We don’t care what the other person thinks about what we are wearing or how cool we are.  None of that matters. But unfortunately, by the time we reach our thirties and get ahold of this amazing courage, we no longer are in school where we have this amazing opportunity to freely meet all these cool people our age. Many of us have jobs which don’t allow for a lot of social interaction. Our coworkers are often much younger than us or much older. Our coworkers often are in different phases of life than we are: married, have children, or are single. We find we don’t have much in common with them outside of work. In college, however, most students are exactly your age and share a similar background. This is the one time in life where most everyone you meet will be single just like you, understand your generation, like your music, and be willing to go out with you to all the places you like. Enjoy that time because no other time in your life will be like that. So many opportunities that are yours for the taking. So speak up and don’t be afraid to talk to that cool person next to you who seems “out of your league.” Make something happen.
  If you need some inspiration, I once heard of a girl who was in a taxi in New York. The cab driver picked up a guy who got in the cab next to her. She thought he looked really cool. She just had this “feeling” about him. His stop came before hers. Instead of staying in the cab and waiting for her stop, she decided to get out with him and “pretend” to be going to the same place as he was. She introduced herself to him, “My name is Karen.” He replied, “My name is Brian.” She later told Rolling Stone Magazine, “I just had this feeling that I was supposed to know him.”
Ladies and gentlemen, that girl was Karen O., the future singer of the band The Yeah Yeah Yeahs. That guy was Brian Chase, the future drummer. They met on that fateful night in New York and formed The Yeah Yeah Yeahs. Because Karen chose to be brave and not tongue tied, this magnificent duo met and put their mark on music history.
  So don’t be afraid to talk to that cool guy or girl in class.  He might just introduce you to your future husband. This was the case for a quiet art student named Julia who through a classmate in her math class at community college was introduced to her future husband, Julian Casablancas who was a singer in the up and coming band The Strokes. You never know how your life might change. But you have to learn to speak up first. Unfortunately, we take these opportunities for granted when we’re 20 and in school. We think there will be more or we psych ourselves out of it due to nerves. Life is short. If I knew at 20 what I know now, I would have pushed myself a little harder to talk to those guys in my class. Even if it turned out we didn’t change the world, I could have at least made some interesting friends to talk to. That’s the whole reason we go to college, but it’s so easy for us to lose sight of that when we’re young.

Friends with benefits benefits no one

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Friends with benefits is my companion piece to my last blog entry: Keeping an ex as a friend in facebook? Ain’t nobody got time for that! This is another dating mistake I made in my twenties that I’ll be sure to never make again. On the surface, friends with benefits seems like an ideal sequel or solution to a breakup: you still get to hang out with this great guy you still have feelings for and do all the same stuff that you did while you were dating but now he doesn’t owe you anything! Yay! Jackpot! When I was 26, I really missed my boyfriend who dumped me. We both suggested being friends but when I realized “being friends” meant never seeing, facebooking, or talking to each other ever again, I came up with what seemed like the perfect idea. I suggested we hang out as just friends over a drink. I said I didn’t want to be “friends with benefits” because I “wasn’t that kind of girl.” What a difference a couple of drinks makes! He agreed with my deal to just be platonic friends with no benefits. He invited me to a party that night. We had a couple of beers and we decide to go somewhere “quiet” where we could talk. That “quiet” place turned out to be the backseat of his car. We talk about what’s been going on in our lives since the big breakup two months prior. Suddenly he kisses me and all my judgment takes a trip to The Bahamas as we’re making out ferociously in the backseat. Without any discussion, we have unofficially crossed that dangerous threshold from “just friends” to “friends with benefits” I designated my tall can of Pabst as an unneccessary scapegoat when I really just had my own stupidity to blame. Contrary to popular belief, girls also do some of their thinking “down there” just like the fellas.
  After our “hookup,” my new FWB (Friend With Benefits) admitted that he thought it was fun to be able to makeout with me again. We carried on this arrangement for about four months. In a way, it was cool to just text each other anytime we wanted day or night and have our meetups, but as time went on, it started to become more insulting than gratifying. One time my ex texted me and told me he wanted to hang out. So I invited him to come bowling with my friends first before we would go off on our own to (wink, wink). He turned me down flat by telling me he didn’t feel like going bowling but wanted me to text him afterwards. The stunning realization hit me like a brick shithouse: My ex no longer wanted to hang out with my friends and I like he did when we were dating. He wanted us to just meet on the down low without each other’s friends knowing. On another occasion, he said he was going to the movies with his friends but “would call me after.” I no longer felt like I was a part of this guy’s life like I did when we were dating. He was keeping me in a separate box where our meetups were secret and hidden from everyone. Suddenly an arrangement that started out being kind of fun became very seamy. I felt like some kind of Lady of the Night. I tried one more time to blend my ex with my friends by inviting him to see my friend’s band with me. For the first time ever, my ex made me pay for my own drink as he ordered and paid for his. I realized he really didn’t owe me anything anymore since he wasn’t my boyfriend, but yet we were still making out and what have you as if we were dating. But all the other benefits like including me in outings with his friends, being emotionally available, and hell, just paying for my beer were over like Justin Bieber’s career. The worst was yet to come.
  My ex agreed to meet up with me at a music festival. This time, his friends were along for the ride. One girl was single and by herself. The other two were a couple. The girl flirted with him like no one was watching (most of all me, his ex. He just introduced me as “a friend”). I looked at his stylish new makeover which consisted of expensive skinny jeans, high top converse, and a form fitting flannel shirt. I wondered why he had to become better dressed and drop a few pounds AFTER our breakup. It was like he was on the prowl. I painfully realized that he was moving on at the very same time he insisted on meeting with me. The feeling was bittersweet. I wanted him more than ever after his sexy upgrade but it was too late. We all went to his house to watch Saturday Night Live after the music festival. His flirty friend tried to sit next to him on the couch. I had to force my way in there. The couple seated next to us started cuddling and holding hands. I knew that would never be us again. There was this distance between us that was palpable. After everyone went home, we went to bed. No longer did my ex try to hold me or cuddle me like he did when we were dating. In the morning as I was about to leave, he looked at me as if to say, “This is the last time. We can’t do this anymore.” No words had to be said. I knew what he was thinking. I wanted to tell him how I felt, but never got the courage. He was sending a message that was loud and clear. All the pain that I felt right after our breakup resurfaced. It turned out being friends with benefits just prolonged that pain. We never really had that fresh start that I was looking for. Nothing would ever be the same again. Take my advice and don’t do it. If you really care about someone and still want them in your life after a breakup, suggest being platonic friends. Stay in touch, talk, but whatever you do, DON’T be intimate. If he still wants you in his life, he’ll agree to being platonic friends. I am going to try being friends with no benefits with my latest ex. I don’t plan to fuck it up by being intimate with him. No matter how strong the sexual tension gets, we’re not acting on it. I’ll keep you posted on how it goes. I’m not guaranteeing it will work out, but I can guarantee it will work out a helluva a lot better than being intimate with him and confusing each other. This is the wisdom that comes with being in my thirties: I’ve learned that a genuine friendship ala Jerry and Elaine on Seinfeld is better than a little ass. And that is the best benefit a girl could ever have from a guy who used to be her boyfriend.