Warning: All the spoilers!
“I have nothing to prove to you”.
Warning: All the spoilers!
“I have nothing to prove to you”.
I don’t talk about religion here much. It’s a complex topic that I am not fully confident in navigating. I was raised in a very conservative religious household, but as I venture further into adulthood I have adopted very different values than the ones I was raised with.
I don’t know entirely where I stand on what I believe and what that means for my life. I do still find it important to engage with my spirituality, to study religion, even practice to a certain extent. But I don’t know to what end, what point. How much am I doing because I would feel too guilty to just completely not do something? Or am I practicing things still because I really believe in it?
Today is Ash Wednesday. This marks the start of the season of Lent, the 40 days before Easter. It is a season of reflection and preparation before celebration. The idea is to replicate Jesus’s sacrifice and withdrawal into the desert for 40 days. And that all starts today.
I’ve always found the intention behind Ash Wednesday to be quite poetic. Honestly, I think Lent can be beautiful, whether you are Christian or not. This idea that you spend five weeks reflecting, looking outward, being intentional. I am a big fan of reflection. And I think that this can be a great opportunity to seek betterment that has meaning.
But the reality of how a lot of Christians end up participating Lent isn’t my favorite. The idea is that you are supposed to fast from something, to suffer and deprive, just like Jesus. To better understand his sacrifice. But in practice, Lent really just becomes the Christian fad diet season. I’m giving up sugar for Jesus! I am giving up carbs for Jesus! I am giving up soda for Jesus! There are even trendy Christian diets you can do during this time, like the “Daniel Fast” (Chris Pratt just did this one, btws).
And it just always bugged me. Like if you want to go on a diet, fine go on a diet. But saying you are doing it “for Jesus” always bugged me. You aren’t giving anything real up, you aren’t suffering, you aren’t looking beyond yourself by giving up coffee for five weeks.
Years ago, I had a youth group leader who shared my grievances with the attitude a lot of Christians took towards Lent and the Christian Fad Diet Season. And she had a suggestion to help reframe the sentiment in our minds. Lent didn’t need to be about giving something up necessarily, it could also be about adding something to your life. Ad something every day that brings you outside of yourself.
And I really took that to heart.
Again, I don’t know where I stand on this or that and what it all means. But I do know that I think the world would be a lot better if we all spent some time intentionally thinking beyond ourselves. If we could all find intentional time to think of others, to help others, to really see others. And I have a deep respect for people who intentionally practice this.
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I am new to the dating scene. I haven’t been here since 2009, and let’s be honest, I didn’t really date then either. I’ve been in a monogamous relationship from then until now, and the whole premise of dating has changed since I was looking last. Everything seems to have moved to dating apps. There’s always a new one, and my social media ads are flooded with promises to find me “The One” or at least someone to keep me entertained. It’s a strange world, and I’m not sure what to do with it other than dive right in, with my friends scanning the waters for sharks.
This whole online dating thing feels like a video game. If you hop on Bumble (which I have) or Tinder (which I haven’t) you have a seemingly endless number of guys at your literal fingertips who you judge based almost solely on their first picture. If that first picture doesn’t immediately turn you off, maybe you look through the others and see if they wrote anything interesting in their bio. “Something interesting” means they have the same generic list of enjoyed activities that I do. I like reading, music, dancing, and watching reruns of The Office at all times. These are pretty low bars for connecting with someone, so really it’s just a constant influx of “Hot or Not.” And even weirder is knowing that presumably all these men are out there playing the same game with my pictures.
It has happened a few times now that I “match.” Someone played the game and agreed that I have similar interests to them and I passed the “Hot or Not” test. Then we get to play the game of “how do you talk to a stranger on the internet.” I hate this game. With a passion. I struggle. Mightily. Not being able to read facial cues, see if they laughed or not, not being able to present my own social cues with expression, intonation, inflection, makes communicating very difficult for me until I actually know someone. I’m highly sarcastic but rarely feel like that translates well in text. I dislike using emojis with people I don’t know, as they can come off pretty childish, and I judge men who use those as their primary form of communication. But despite all these lacking levels of communication, maybe half of the men who swipe right ask for a date. Which brings the next level of weirdness to the situation as a woman.
I am a hyper vigilant, small-ish framed, 5’8” woman. I have no doubt in my mind that if someone wants to, they can easily overpower me. Which means that actually meeting these strangers from the internet whom I have judged via pictures comes with a certain amount of anxiety about my own personal safety. My friends and I came up with some ground rules as I started this, to make sure I was as safe as possible.
-I always meet in a very public place.
-I do not tell anyone where I live or work.
-I do not tell them my last name. I made this mistake once and instantly regretted it. He did not take the rejection well and edged towards stalking.
-I let my friends know if I am going on a date, and
-If it’s late at night or nearing dark hours I let them know his name and send a photo. Just in case someone needs it to investigate my disappearance.
Again, I’ve always been hyper-vigilant. I’m very aware of the dangers of being female at night, and always have been. Most of these are common sense to women. Many of these things are just how I have always lived, but with the added danger of meeting strangers and living alone, I’m even more cautious about them. I strongly suspect that none of these issues cross men’s minds, unless they are one of the conscientious men who look at those things for the woman they want to date. Again, not for their own safety.
Despite all this weirdness, I have managed to meet a few guys. So far the dating experience itself has been interesting.
My first date who got a repeat was Monday Guy. Monday Guy was thus dubbed because he would consistently ask for a date on Mondays (creative, I know). Monday Guy was wildly attractive, very in shape, intelligent, and held a conversation well for a first date. I thought he would be fun, until our second date. At this point, he waxed poetic about the joys of being able to hunt and kill things, hit other men, and just generally know that he could handle himself in an attack situation due to his Jiu Jitsu training. This is all fine and dandy, but became an issue on the walk back to his car. He went out of his way to swagger through a group of motorcyclists standing outside, and I cannot emphasize the word “swagger” enough here. He intentionally went out of his way to walk directly through the middle of their group. Even better was that it was the wrong street, and his car was not actually parked there.
Needless to say, that was our last date, but not because I didn’t try for another. No, at this point, I was still putting up with what I thought might be the expected level of asshole in a cute guy. We all have faults, and I assumed machismo was his. I asked to hang out again, he gave me a maybe, then ghosted. I was upset at first, as this was the first guy I had dated and thus the first guy to reject me. After a few days, I recognized how toxic his attitude was, noticed more of the things he had said that were deeply problematic, and felt much better about no longer being in contact. I learned not to put up with assholes.
Next was Tractor Guy. We had some great dates that always involved live music. He was fun, kind, and great to talk to. He was also overly attached and emotionally messy very quickly. After two dates, he started waxing poetic with actual poetry, which was incredibly uncomfortable for me. He wanted to lend me books and borrow books from me. He sent me a collection of recipes with the “healing spiritual properties” of various fruits and vegetables (as in “figs will open your heart and heal emotional wounds” type properties). He’s clearly a really sweet guy, but was ready to jump right into a full fledged relationship after a couple dates, which was not what I was looking for. After the recipe incident, I sent him the classic “I appreciate your time but I think we’re looking for different things” text (which I first drafted with my friends to be sure I wasn’t being insensitive). He wished me well and we moved on with our lives.
Move on to Aladdin, thus named because looking like Aladdin was all he had going for him. Younger than me but not by much, his profile made him look well traveled and well educated with a master’s degree. All true, but he neglected to say that he lives with his parents “except on the weekends.” I cannot tell you how confused I am by that statement. Where does he live on the weekends? I did not ask. He walked me to my car, tried to put his hand up my dress while kissing me. When I stopped him he cracked a joke about me being a prude. I told him to walk away and did not talk to him again. Disturbing as that experience was, it’s something most women can relate to. Somehow this stranger that I had met two hours before thought he was entitled to my body and had the right to cut me down for having boundaries.
The next date had the same problem, with 6’8” Professor. Again, touted himself as an intellect, well educated, nice guy. We met for a date in the middle of the day, kissed at some point, and he slid his hand onto my ass in broad daylight in the middle of a bookstore. I moved his hand. Later he did it a second time. I moved his hand and told him I wasn’t comfortable with that level of PDA. On our goodbye, he did it a third time and laughed. Clearly my boundaries were a joke, and something that he didn’t have to respect. I am grateful this date was in a highly populated, well lit area. I am grateful I didn’t give him a second chance. My “No” was clearly heard and just as clearly ignored by someone a full foot taller than myself. I did not feel safe.
Farmboy was a beautiful air force guy who seemed incredibly nervous on our first date, which was flattering. He didn’t try to kiss me, which made me feel like my boundaries were being respected. He got a second date, and I realized that what I had mistaken for nervousness was actually just his personality, which was disturbingly reminiscent of my ex. He continuously guided the conversation to point out how good he was at certain things. We went to a bar with very niche decor, somewhat horror story-esque (think Poe more than slasher), and sat in what can only be described as thrones. He talked about how much he loved the bar, how great he thought everything in there was, from the black ceilings, walls, floors, drapery, and candles to the taxidermied animals. I politely nodded along but had very different opinions, which when he asked about, he then proceeded to negate and tell me why I was wrong with that opinion. He attempted to manipulate my emotions and actions multiple times throughout our date. I ended it after recognizing why this pattern felt so familiar, and told him we would not be seeing each other again. At this point, I was feeling pretty confident in my ability to read people as well as my ability to turn someone down without being mean.
My most recent experience was the strangest and most worrisome. I’ll call him Angry Guy. We got drinks and talked for about three hours, during which time I enjoyed the conversation but noticed some red flags and did not feel any real attraction to him. However, he seemed like a nice guy, so I gave him my number and told him he could see me again. That night turned into a lot of texting from him, and I started to second guess my decision. He seemed to be getting very attached and somewhat territorial after one date. He asked for two more dates within the week, and when I said I was busy he cracked jokes about my popularity on Bumble and how I should try not to let anyone else impress me before our next date. He assumed I was going on other dates, but was already setting a precedent that I shouldn’t. Things he had told me on our date came back that I had somehow overlooked at the time. For instance, thinking it’s appropriate to tell me on a first date about how his ex called the cops on him because he was burning pictures of them in a barbecue while drunk is definitely a reason to get out of there fast. But I laughed it off and chalked it up to crazy exes even though HE WAS BURNING THINGS WHILE DRUNK AND SHE CALLED THE COPS.
I never said I was smart.
After I reevaluated spending more time with this guy, I sent another “Hey, I appreciate your time, but I’m actually not feeling it” text and expected a similar response to my previous rejections. What I got instead was hours of progressively angrier and more accusatory texts that continued sporadically from 8 pm to 6 am. His first text was reasonable and asked for clarification about what had changed my mind so suddenly, which I replied to. The following texts declared me cold, heartless, confused, told me what a missed opportunity this was and I would end up regretting my choice, that we should still be friends, etc. When I didn’t respond to any of his texts, he sent a similar message on instagram because surely the issue was that I just wasn’t seeing his texts. He told me I had misinterpreted his interest, that he wasn’t actually as interested as he seemed and we should go on another date. This is strange logic. He told me he was out drinking with a buddy and that’s why he sent so many texts. When I woke up to another text the next morning stating that I was cold and cruel, I blocked him on every platform I have. Lesson learned about not paying attention to very obvious red flags.
Gentlemen, these are not acceptable behaviors. Why anyone thinks that guilting someone into a second date (or third, or twentieth) is a good idea, I will never understand. The appropriate response to “I’m just not feeling it” is to say ok and move on. It’s not up for discussion. It’s not a debate. I do not know you, I owe you nothing, and I have no interest in keeping you in my life. Drop it.
Online dating is strange, but I’m learning. I’m strangely growing more confident through it all. I’ve discovered that I am decent at reading people, and I have learned to trust my instincts. If something feels off to me, it usually actually is. I’m learning to pay attention to how people treat me and have it mean something. I’m learning how to give and accept rejection gracefully, and experiencing firsthand people who haven’t yet. I’m learning to spend time with myself, and feel strong in my independence. Yes, dating is fun, but it’s not the be-all end-all that it’s often made out to be. I’m glad I can say I tried dating apps, but I’m happy to give them a break. I’m logging off for now.
“In a world where you can be anything, be kind” – Jennifer Dukes Lee
When I was a junior in college I broke my arm. More specifically, I broke my radial head, the part of your forearm that connects to your elbow. I had never broken a bone before. And honestly the inconvenience of not being able to use my arm for the better part of two months was far more difficult than the pain. I couldn’t bend or twist my arm at all for the first several weeks, I couldn’t grip anything with my hand. You realize how much you need your arm when you can’t use it. I couldn’t do most house chores, I couldn’t tie my own hair back, I couldn’t open my own pill bottles, I couldn’t put on a bra.
I became very dependent on everyone around me and it was challenging. I needed my roommates to cook my meals, do my chores, tie my hair back so I could wash my face. I needed my coworkers to do most of my job for me. Growing bone is also exhausting, so I was tired all the time. Honestly, it was a pretty embarrassing, helpless time.
But because I broke my arm right at the elbow, I didn’t have a cast. They wanted me to start moving my arm as much as possible as soon as possible so that it didn’t heal in one position. I had a sling that I was supposed to wear to alert people around me that I was injured and I needed space. But the sling was removable. So I often didn’t wear it.
Because I didn’t want people to know I was broken and helpless.
All in all, it worked out. No one ended up bumping into me, I didn’t trip and fall and hurt myself more, my chores got done, my job got done, I got fed, my school work was completed. For eight weeks I went about campus and almost no one knew that I was injured and exhausted. My arm healed, and life went on.
My point, if it isn’t obvious yet, is that we have no idea what someone is going through. Not everyone you encounter will have a literal broken arm, but everyone around you is going through something. And we don’t want the world around us to know. Your coworkers may be struggling financially, your friends marriage may be falling apart, your family members may be struggling with depression.
We are all hurt, we are all exhausted, we are all embarrassed at how broken we feel.
So this week, I challenge you to be kinder. Ask your barista how their day is going and really listen, give the people on the sidewalk a little extra room, reach out to your friends who you haven’t heard from in a while and let them know you still care. If someone is short with you, give them some grace. If someone is quieter, say hello. Set aside your pride, your self-centeredness, and be kind instead. Find one moment every day this week to be intentionally kind.
Maybe we won’t change the world with kindness, but maybe we will.
Do you ever stumble upon a phrase that helps you articulate something you just couldn’t quite define and suddenly it all clicks?
That happened to me recently when I discovered the term “punching down”. I was reading a movie review for Isn’t It Romantic that compared the film to another recent rom-com starting an unconventionally attractive woman I Feel Pretty. Very similar plot lines, but this reviewer felt very differently about the films. She said Isn’t It Romantic was smart, hilarious, and most importantly it doesn’t punch down.
And as soon as I read that, it clicked. That’s what I don’t like about certain comedians, certain movies, certain television shows, certain politicians. They punch down.
So what is punching down? Punching down is when someone of a higher rank, a position of power, a person of superiority makes a joke at the expense of the less powerful or an oppressed group. You might also refer to this as cheap shots, or making someone the butt of the joke.
Or as I like to call it: mean humor.
Punching down is used to make someone or ones feel small. It’s used to downplay, to belittle, to shame, or to dismiss all disguised as humor. Basically punching down is someones way of justifying being a total asshole by claiming it’s just a joke. And quite often, it doesn’t work out so well for the joker.
Remember when Jesse Watters on The O’Reilly Factor went to New York’s Chinatown to interview Chinese-American’s and proceeded to ask horrifically racist questions (do you know karate, should I bow, can I get a foot massage, and mocked their broken english)? It was meant to be humorous, it was meant to show the apparently inherent hilarity of the Chinese culture, when really it was just blatant racism against a group of minorities.
Punching down is all over the place these days. Most women’s issues are punched down (who would want to sexually harass you), our current president does it all the time, Conservatives and Republicans think it’s a fun way to go after the Democrats. Using humor as a way to discredit real issues like sexual harassment or racism just shows that you are a sexist or a racist, not that you are funny and certainly not that these issues are real.
Things that are really funny punch up. Instead of wasting their time going after people who are typically the minority or the oppressed, they go after people with tangible power that’s being abused. A basic element of humor is that your best stuff will come from going after people that are bigger than you.
There has been a lot of critique of comedy over the last few years, claiming that we are all too sensitive and everyone gets offended too easily. What can we even joke about now? To which I say that is absolute bullshit. Making fun of the weak has never been funny.
Michelle Wolf’s White House Correspondence Dinner routine was funny because she went after a powerful establishment with meticulously researched critiques and take downs. Amy Schumer making a rape joke about Hispanics isn’t funny because there is no data to back her up, so she is just further perpetuating a false stereotype of an oppressed group.
Using comedy as a tool to abuse the already abused isn’t just deeply unfunny, it also reveals a lack of understanding of how power is structured. And that is the root of what is really being called out right now. Women and minorities face daily battles and uphill challenges, and those need to be taken seriously. And the biggest factor to be addressed is the abuse of the power structure.
Making jokes about it is not the solution.
Using humor to put people down, make people feel small, silence people, and downplay real issues isn’t funny. When you punch down, you aren’t making a joke, you are part of the problem.
Ya ya Valentines Day is around the corner blah blah blah. But more important than that, February 13th (that’s today!) is the most sacred day of all: Galentine’s Day.
Made popular by the wonderful show Parks and Rec, Galentine’s Day is all about ladies celebrating ladies. And what could be better than that?
In a world where women are constantly being put down, made to feel small and weak, told to be quiet and pretty and polite and to smile more, this day becomes more important with each passing year.
So ladies, let’s celebrate each other. Here are 5 ideas for how best to celebrate each other this Galentine’s Day!
Go On A Date With Your Best Girlfriends
Who said dates are just for romance? Dinner, drinks, a movie, all the classic date ideas are wonderful to enjoy with anyone you love. Share a special night with you best gal pals and celebrate your friendship!
Have A Spa Day
Is it cliche? Yes. Is it also wonderful? Absolutely. Taking care of yourself is important, and the occasional pampering goes a long way. And what makes self care even better? Enjoying the pampering with your best ladies. A mani/pedi, a massage, a facial, all can be a great way to celebrate and love each other.
Watch Movies With Strong Female Leads
Host a movie night for your best lady friends and enjoy a story together that features strong female characters. Legally Blonde, The Hunger Games, Wonder Woman, The Sound of Music, just to name a few. Laugh, cry, sing, and cheer together.
Another cliche that lives up to the hype. Mimosas, breakfast food, and friendship is the perfect way to celebrate one another. Catch up on all the happenings in each other’s lives, toast one another’s accomplishments, and shower yourselves with celebration.
Reach Out To Out Of Town Friends
Life moves fast and we all mean to stay in touch more than we do. Use Galentine’s Day as the perfect opportunity to reach out to friends too far to see and celebrate your friendship from afar.
Bonus: Drink Wine
Whatever activity you end up doing, just make sure there is wine.
Friendship is a beautiful thing, and any excuse to celebrate and love one another I love. Bring me as many cliches and hallmark traps as you can find, I am all for it.
Happy Galentine’s Day, to all the ladies near and far!
I love Pixar. It’s a well known fact about me amongst my friends. Pixar has always been innovated and unique in their story telling, and their new venture is no exception. SparkShorts is their new platform of short films, which the company’s website explains is a new program designed to feature “new storytellers, explore new storytelling techniques, and experiment with new production workflows,” adding that the shorts will be “unlike anything ever done” at Pixar. This is a platform for new artists to create freely. And it’s fabulous.
SparkShorts first short Purl is all about women in the workplace, and it’s one to pay attention to. It’s clear from this first short that they are looking to discuss a more serious subject matter than usual. I love Pixar shorts, and even find some of the more recent ones quite profound (La Luna and Piper were particularly moving). But SparkShorts is going deeper, digging into the issues facing society today.
In the short, a ball of yarn named Purl tries to get – and keep – a job at a new workplace, but has trouble fitting in because she is literally and metaphorically “soft,” represented by a ball of knitting yarn placed next to human men.
Check out the short here!
The short opens with Purl, the most qualified resume of candidates, landing an entry level job at a prestigious company. Purl has enthusiasm and hope as she decorates her desk in “soft” things, like knitted patterns, and attempts to join in on some water cooler chit chat. Then Purl tries to navigate a meeting by joining in on the conversation and being a team player, but her colleagues insist on an “aggressive” approach to “win”.
So despite being smart and capable, Purl feels out of place and ostracized because she is different from her male dominated work place. So her solution? Conform to the work environment and masculine expectations, literally re-sewing her “clothes” into a suit. There are plenty of metaphors here, but the most obvious one: to thrive at a company, Purl has to lose any semblance of her femininity.
But everything changes when Lacey, another female, joins the team. At this point, the pair seem to recognize that their femininity and unique qualities are actually an asset to the workplace, and they shouldn’t have to conform to succeed.
Kristen Lester, the director, said that the inspiration came from Lester’s experience being in the field of animation. “My first job, I was like the only woman in the room, and so in order to do the thing that I loved, I sort of became one of the guys. And then i cam to Pixar, and I started to work on teams with women for the first time, and that actually made me realize how much of the female aspect of myself I had sort of buried and left behind.”
Purl is very relatable for many women in the work force. In a world where masculine qualities are preferred for leadership, but only when they come from men, women are left behind constantly in the work place. As women continue to point out the atrocities in how we are treated, shorts like Purl help communicate our circumstances.
What I love most about this short is the ending. That by women supporting each other, by women embracing their strengths, by giving women more opportunities in the work place, the experience improves for everyone.
Pixar is set to release two more SparkShorts this month, and I am looking forward to seeing what they do next.