Curiouser & Curiouser

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Ghost of Valentine’s Day Past February 13, 2010

Filed under: dating,guys,love,Special Occasions,thoughts — curiouserx2 @ 11:20 pm
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Cartoon by xkcd (http://www.xkcd.com)

Going through my old clip files from my days at the college paper, I came across one of my weekly columns (mine ran every Monday and was entitled “Carpe Diem, Baby” – some things never change…). This one in particular took aim at Valentine’s Day and I thought it only appropriate to share my view on this annual ritual, circa 2003 (do keep in mind that I was quite single at this point, and possibly a little harsh on my fellow females. Still – my heart was in the right place):

Monday, Febraury 3, 2003

Girls, you ought to be ashamed.

Exploiting your loved one on Valentine’s Day is not something to be proud of. And yet, as this day to end all dreadful days approaches, I see both greed and shallowness heading up its approach.

The other day I was in the kitchen doing what some might call cooking (I like “scorching” or “charring” as alternatives) when suddenly I was bombarded by Valentines Day ads on the radio. The three-minute onslaught included everything from candies to restaurants to fine jewelry.

Then later, hanging out in the dining pavilion, three girls seated at an adjacent table initiated the pre-Valentine’s Day rites for which females have become notorious. These include giddy speculations regarding the kinds of gifts and adornments that might be showered upon them this year, as well as much reminiscing about past offerings from their respective admirers: sparkly baubles, flowers, nights on the town… what more could a girl ask for?

Umm…. how about… love?

Last time I checked, Valentine’s Day was about love and expressing that love to someone special. Do we really lack so much imagination that we can’t express love without purchasing something?

Men agonize about the tradition of gift giving, unsure of how much to spend, what to spend it on and whether or not they will meet the expectations of their significant females.

Not to mention they’re held prisoner by a nasty double standard. Along with Sweetest Day (two words: card. companies.), whose date every woman seems to have etched into her brain the minute she ceases to be single, Valentine’s Day is a tango danced by the retail industry and the male population.

In a recent poll performed by the National Retail Federation, surveyors concluded that guys typically shell out four times more than their loved one. The average male will spend $158 while his other half will dig deep into her pockets for a whopping $36.

This scarcely comes as a shock. It’s more than socially acceptable for a man to foot the bill for diamonds and dinner while women wrap themselves in a bow and squeal, “Here I am!”

Yep, her we are ladies. In the 21st century, finally reaping some of the benefits of the feminist movement, and yet we’re still playing the game of “Let’s be equal when it’s fun and convenient and leave the rest to the men.”

But don’t despair for our misguided gender just yet.

There is still hope.

Valentine’s Day needs a makeunder, a chance to get back to its roots. I’m not saying we should all bust out shrines to St. Valentine plot clandestine marriages in honor of said Roman priest.

But I do propose a challenge to all couple out there to nix the gifts this year. At least the store-bought variety.

Boycott the chocolatiers and jewelry counters. Shun the retail industry, stand on their display cases and scream at the top of your lungs, “You will leach off my love no longer!”

Grab that sweetheart of yours and vow to spend some quality time together. You’ll find a little imagination can create an unforgettable day.

And if creativity is not your forte, eHow, a website promoting healthy relationships, has a few suggestions.

Guys, leaving little notes around the house or in her car is a great way to build anticipation for a special night together. Or, paint a message of love on her lawn (just be sure to use water soluble, non-toxic paint, lest your eternal love be eternally seared into her front yard).

For the ladies, try a candle-lit bedroom with a picnic for two laid out on the bed. Steer clear of both soup and fondue for this one.

Whether you get fancy or get down to basics, it’s the expression of love and wanting to be together that’s important.

So, curl up together by the fire, get lost in a three-hour conversation, or (and eHow gets takes the prize for cheese on this one) watch the sunset and promise each other your love will burn longer than the sun (you may now gag).

But seriously, this year let’s take the retail out of romance.

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One Year August 20, 2009

sushiBefore I get rolling on today’s topic, I’d like to report that I am no longer unemployed. It seems certain statements made in my last post, while laden with sarcasm, turned out to be strangely prophetic. I’d only been in Wilmington for one day when my cell phone rang with an unidentified Wilmington number. It had to be one of the 32 places I’d put in applications, and I knew that whatever job I was about to be offered, I would have to accept. Luckily for me, the voice on the other end of the line was the manager at a sushi place right down the street from our new apartment. With what probably seemed like excessive enthusiasm, I took the job, hung up and thanked my lucky stars someone had actually hired me.

I then got calls from 5 other restuarants, also offering me work.

So apparently there was never anything to worry about, but I’m happy to say that after a couple day’s training, I think sushi and I were meant to be.

Moving along, though… I was flipping through Facebook this afternoon when I came across a little artifact that had been sitting on my profile for precisely one year. It was a Graffiti note that I’d drawn –  painstakingly, nervously. So nervously in fact that, as I recall, this final draft was actually a third or fourth attempt.

I’m not an artist.

I draw stick figures and smiley faces. I have no perception of proportion, no hand-eye coordination. But I’d decided to draw this particular invitation, thinking it fitting because it was the recipient’s fault that I had the program at all.

I was a Myspace girl. He was a Facebook boy.

We’d met at a photography studio I was managing. He was a lowly intern, and although I found him intriguing, I put up a wall of professionalism and ignored him mercilessly. But at the end of his internship, I was about to leave my position at the studio as well. All of the employees met one night for one last bash, and he and I were the last two standing along with my boss and his girlfriend – who got into a fistfight. There was a cut eye (hers) and broken nose (his) involved, and the intern and I were dragged into the argument. After an hour or so of high drama, both the boss and his girlfriend left the scene separately, and the intern and I turned to each other in bewilderment.

We sat at a patio table, unclear of what exactly had just happened. “I’m glad you were here,” I said, just as the proverbial ugly lights cast their glare out onto the patio, and the barback began stacking the chairs around us. “Can I give you a ride home?” I asked, and he did not decline.

On the way to my car, we passed a playground. “Swing?” he asked.

“What?” I turned to catch his meaning, but he was already up and over the fence.

“Coming?” he offered a hand over the low fence to help me over, and I, without a thought, followed. The intern lead me to the swingset, where twin swings swayed in the warm night breeze. And there we sat, occasionally rocking back and forth, and talked about everything and nothing at all. For how long, I don’t know, because it’s times like these when time means nothing.

I did eventually arrive home at 5:30 in the morning. My alarm would blare in an hour to wake me up to go work at the outdoor market in downtown Columbus. That evening, I would sit, a little delirious from lack of sleep, and devise a way- a meaningful, clever way- to ask the intern on a date. Not because I was a particularly bold girl, or dated often, or liked making the first move, but because I was relentlessly aware that I could not let this particular guy pass me by. Hence the nervous rendering of the Facebook graffiti.

The point is, there were at least a half a million times while I formed lines and shaded with my mouse with that little art program (never quite to my satisfaction) that I found myself second guessing and playing the “what if” game, questioning whether what I was up to was completely silly and would be viewed by its recipient as, well, lame. For one of the first times in my life, however, it occurred to me that what I was doing was being myself. I found my little plan both amusing and thoughtful. So, if some guy found it otherwise, well, he wouldn’t exactly be prepared for the girl behind it. Having decided then that I had nothing to lose,  I clicked the “send” button, and off my graffiti went.

As you’ve probably surmised, the answer was a resounding “Yes.” Jeff and I met at a favorite cafe to share a bottle of wine. And the rest, as they say, is history.

I did, however, make him ask for the second date.

~a

render

 

All Good Things… May 18, 2009

BinkysMovingVan_edited1Question: If a moving van leaves Columbus, Ohio at 8am on May 31st, and the moving couple departs from the same location at 9:45am (running late due to animals, long goodbyes and several “final” sweeps of the house), how long will it take said couple to question whether or not they’re making the right decision?

Answer: Approx. -17 days.

That’s right, it really hit us last Friday – the questioning of our sanity, that is. J and I were sitting on the front porch at a friend’s house, celebrating someone’s birthday with a cookout and good conversation on a beautiful spring evening. A warm breeze tousled our hair; we ate strawberries and cream and sipped gin and tonic and laughed. A lot.

I looked at J.

J looked at me.

And the look said something like:

“Dude. Wtf?”

It was the pained expression of how-can-we-leave-all-this-behind? I mean, what were we thinking when we decided to chuck the city we’ve both come to love and defend?? (Actually, I think we were thinking how much we loathe only getting to have real lives 6 months out of the year due to Ohio’s atrocious winters. And we’d just been to Miami in March, which will make anyone want to go beach bum). So, okay – we had our reasons. But that doesn’t make it any easier, now that the Dark Ages of winter have subsided, to let go of some of the more positive relationships we’ve established here.

It’s the few negative ones I’ve established, however, that are helping to ease that blow.

Like the guy at UDF who insists on being weird about my ice cream order every bloody time I go in there? Him I can do without. (If he’s not giving me 12 scoops of ice cream, he’s doubling my Deep Freeze into a melty tower of ice cream doom). And the parking lot attendant I walk past every day who finally put his head out the car window and screamed, “Hey pretty girl, what’s your name?” perhaps not thinking that if I took this poorly (which I did), we’d have to have a nice, awkward moment EVERY MORNING that I have to walk by his car.

And then there’s the literal relationships: the ex I won’t have to run into because we’ll no longer live down the street from each other. I cannot WAIT to live in a place where I don’t have to hear all about his g.d. band and to not have to tell people that, no, I do not in fact enjoy his music and, no, I would not like to go see him play at the local bar, and, yes, he DOES sound like a blatant rip off of Bob Dylan and/or Bruce Springsteen (depending on the song), and, yes, I have noticed that every song sounds like the last and, oh yes, he does really seem to like himself. (These conversations are admittedly somewhat enjoyable as they round the corner and become full-on Haterade toasts)

Finally, there are a few that I can’t even mention due to the expanding readership of this blog. You just never know, and I’m not in the clear yet. Lame People I Can Do Without – you probably know who you are, anyway.

Despite all of these, for the first time since I’ve started serial relocating, the mass of “Things I will Miss” is formidable. So much so that when J gave me that look, and I returned it, I really did have to think hard about what we’re on the verge of doing.

And yet….

I came out on the other end of all that contemplation still ready to pack my bags. Because this time, we’re doing it together. And this time, we’re going to do things the way we want to: create friendships that can be our own and not remnants of previous relationships; control our house (i.e. without the t.v.-as-background noise philosophy and as though Mr. Clean was our bald-headed third roomie – which could make a really awesome sitcom, come to think if it); fill our bedroom with playpen balls because we’re grown-ups now and it’s our turn to decide what that means!!! (Thank you, xkcd).

I’ve done one helluva job as a loner for the majority of my life, and I can’t speak for J (actually, I can; he’s lived with girlfriends before and is admittedly terrified of ruining everything…), but I’m hell bent on learning to live with someone else. I want a partner this time around. I’ve done Independence! and I’m tired of doing it all alone. Now that I know I’m capable of surviving without anyone, I want to do more than just survive.

And I can’t think of anyone else I’d rather take that ride with.

~a

In the event you have no idea to what I was referring...

In the event you have no idea to what I was referring...

 

So That’s What the Universe Looks Like, Huh? February 11, 2009

Filed under: happiness,humor,life,love,thoughts — curiouserx2 @ 6:35 pm
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bite1Taking advantage of the bizarre turn our weather has taken (if only for a day), I bolted from the office for a bit to walk with J to Cafe Corner for lunch. After, we strolled home, and when we arrived at my car (the return to work hanging just as ominously over us as the storm clouds now starting to  block out the sun), I procrastinated in the form of lingering to give him a kiss (or two or three) goodbye and give him a quick pep talk for an afternoon interview he had coming up.

As we finally, reluctantly began to part ways, a gentlemen on a bike came rolling out of the park across the street. With skin the color of espresso and a bright, wide smile and donning an OSU letter jacket, he yelled jovially to us, “Ya’ll gonna be doin’ that same thing 20 years from now!” Yep – but that’s not all. “Ya’ll gonna have some little ones, some twins!” Twins, eh? “Just make sure they BUCKEYES!” he called finally as he rode off down the street.

Part embarrassed for being caught in the act, part baffled by the frankness of these comments, J and I laughed along with the guy, who was, strangely, not scary in any way. Instead – and maybe this is just the romantic in me speaking – he sounded like the voice of the universe telling us that everything was going to be okay. Which is exactly what we both needed to hear, as times have been as rough on us as they have been on much of America.

Crazy weather, crazy day. The world feels like it’s been shaken up a little, like a snow globe.

In a good way.

~a

 

It’s the Little Things… February 10, 2009

Filed under: life,love,thoughts,work — curiouserx2 @ 9:15 pm
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twistpopsAs the weather in Columbus finally eeked into the 60’s today, I decided it was necessary to get outside for a while in the afternoon. If the only way to make that happen on a day so busy I missed my lunch break was to run some office errands around downtown, then so be it. So I was on my way back from the post office, headed to the bank, when a little ways ahead of me I spotted two tiny children walking toward me with their mother.

Both children carried long, spiraled lollipops which must have just been purchased for them as a special treat during their downtown visit. The bright yellows and shiny pinks swirled into the candy were a stark contrast to the overcast day and the kids’ own drab coats. They family was dressed warmly enough, but it was apparent they were of no great means.

As I came closer, the little boy (he could’ve been no more than three or four) dropped his lollipop onto the sidewalk. The look on his tiny face was first of horror, then misery as he began to cry. “Oh, baby,” his mom said, squatting next to him, putting one hand on his shoulder and scooping up the candy quickly. I had every expectation that she would next toss it in the nearby trashcan and tell the child something to the effect of, “You should’ve been more careful. No more.” Instead, without a thought, she put the candy in her mouth and effectively cleaned off any dirt that might’ve gotten on it in the few seconds it had been on the ground.

It was a bit surprising, but then again, with this single, selfless act, she had just shown her child protection and love. Yes, she took a little dirt (literally), but it won’t kill her.

This brief event on an otherwise uneventful Tuesday afternoon has been seared into my mind, for some reason. I can’t figure why it means so much to me, but I may keep it up there forever, and may even be able to drag it out again someday when I have my own children. I can only hope.

~a

 

I Wasn’t Looking for Love… January 30, 2009

vday1This time last year, I was trying my damnedest not to be a Valentine’s Day Grinch, when along came the Girls!Girls!Girls! Valentine’s Day Edition to spare me the trouble. It was difficult for anyone (single, coupled, lonely, jaded) to not feel loved that evening as the whole night turned out to be a giant, singing, dancing (yes dancing) valentine from me and the girls to everyone in the audience.

We were unsure a year ago how many people would want to spend their Valentine’s Day at The Thirsty Ear (notably lively and energetic, but maybe not the first place to come to mind when seeking romance). But out of the cold and into the warm, candle-lit club they came in droves. So, this year it’s on again. For anyone who’s never attended a Girls! show, the quartet is made up of three ladies from other musical groups and myself. Our own projects run the gamut from rock to bluegrass, but we come together a few times a year to revive old standards (and a few not-so-old) in three- and four-part harmony.

So Columbians… or Columbusites… or those of you living in Columbus: If your plans for the 14th are looking a little, well, vague, allow me to clarify. No matter what you do earlier in the day or evening, arrive alone or with your date at The Thirsty Ear at 9pm and we’ll take care of the rest. We’ve never played a show that didn’t get a little out of hand (in the best sense of the phrase) at some point or another, so a good time is guaranteed.

See you there!

~a

 

Adendum to “Plight….” October 29, 2008

Filed under: bands,humor,love,music,thoughts — curiouserx2 @ 1:31 pm
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Yes, regarding the below lamentation about the difficulties of bringing the rock whilst being smitten: I believe the following t-shirt found at TopatoCo.com gives a tactful, but firm “Suck on this!” to those who might imply that the two cannot coexist. Problem solved:)

Cheers,

~a

Bring in the noise, bring in the love...

Bring in the noise, bring in the love...