Category Archives: advice

a proper way to flirt.

well well well.  I had written eariler about odd ways of being approached in daily life, but I had an experience a couple of weeks ago that left me feeling positive and complimented, and not violated.

T-storm and I have a BJ’s membership (laugh if you will), which is awesome if you want to buy sparkling water, Fage yogurt doubles and quinoa in bulk at a decent price.  Costco is a better company, yes, but at least we don’t have a Sam’s Club membership.  and I don’t even know where the nearest Costco is.

I was buying bottlewater in bulk for an event, and I headed to the register to get rung up.  maybe the cashier did actually check me out at the same time, but I didn’t feel like I was being objectified.  we had a conversation during the transaction, and he was particularly friendly.  of course, at big discount stores, they check your receipts as you exit, and I noticed on my receipt that I’d only been charged for three giant packs of water, when I’d gotten six.  I didn’t want to get my butt kicked by the exit police at BJ’s.  (that would be a pretty crummy fall from grace story if there ever was one – loss of career due to shoplifting bottled water at a membership discount store.  glory be.)

so I went back to remedy the situation.  and the cashier felt a little embarassed at his mistake.  but he also said to me, “Here I was, thinking you were coming back to get my number.”

I responded, with a grin, “No, I’m married.”  I nodded politely, we completed the transaction, and smiled away.   he said nothing more on the subject, but wished me a good way after he charged me for the other water.

I wasn’t objectified, and he had simply made a flirtatious, yet polite comment.  I certainly got the message that he’d like me to give him my number, but it wasn’t anything creepy or asshole type.  certainly not someone chasing me down in a parking lot at Panera shouting “EXCUSE ME!”

so for any Men’s Rights goons who think that feminism excludes the opportunity for men to be complimentary and flirtatious, please take this as an example of flirting without being a sexist prick.

it is possible!


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Marriage Advice, a la Patti Smith

T-storm and I have both been on a reading (books) kick lately.  Travel propels us to read, as we did a whole lot during our honeymoon and the associated flights.  He’s much more of a reader than I am, and granted we both read online article and wikipedia pages to the point of saturation, but I think we both have that childhood reader in us.  Before I had a smart phone to distract me while walking through a parking lot, I had Babysitters’ Club books by the bundle.

I bought T a Nook for Christmas this year, and it did not get much use at all.  I suggested he use it for his grad classes, but to no avail.  (Sidenote: obviously husband has little energy for fun stuff, even fun books, when he’s working full time and taking grad classes at night.  Obviously.)  But then his mother insisted he read The Hunger Games, which he did almost entirely on the drive down to Key West (and then immediately compared it to the work of Shirley Jackson and Stephen King, the latter whom he idolizes).

Now he says, “I have to check out the next two books on my Nook!”  And then he found an NPR list of top science fiction books, most of which he’s already read, but he still went forth.

He insists that I have to read “The Call of Cthulu”, to get at least a rudimentary knowledge of the most oft-referenced Lovecraft monster, and I will.  I’ve read some Lovecraft, at his urging.  And at some point I’ll dally with The Hunger Games, I guess.

But my fancies turn me to a book I actually bought and hadn’t even begun on yet.  And I’ve been devouring.

I plan on later finishing A Visit from the Goon Squad, which was gifted to me by a friend and I have only gotten about one chapter into.  It seems, however, that Goon Squad is a good post-companion to Kids, seeing that Smith’s work is an honest but highly romantic depiction of New York in the late 60s and early 70s, and Egan’s Pulitzer Prize winner is about the decades-later aftermath of such.  Anyway.

Pertaining to an earlier post about marriage being about a team, there was another bit that Smith wrote about her relationship with Robert Mapplethorpe.  Granted, they were indeed only kids when they met and were involved, and would move on to much bigger things in their own relationships and careers, but I love this description still.  One of Smith & Mapplethorpe’s first meetings/connections was over a simple Persian necklace they had both eyed at a store in which Smith worked:

The necklace was passed back and forth throughout the years.  Ownership was based on who needed it the most.  Our mutual sense of code manifested in many little games.  The most unshakeable was called One Day–Two Day.  The premise was simply that one of us always had to be vigilant, the designated protector.  If Robert took a drug, I needed to be present and conscious.  If I was down, he needed to stay up.  If one was sick, the other healthy.  It was important that we were never self-indulgent on the same day.

In the beginning I faltered, and he was always there with an embrace or words of encouragement, coercing me to get out of myself and into my work.  Yet he also knew that I would not fail if he needed me to be the strong one.

Mapplethorpe went on to seriously fuck with the government due to some homoerotic images (which maybe in retrospect, many don’t seem so jarring?) and in many ways, lay the precedent for artists like Keith Haring.  You know – the guy who made the designs for all those AIDS awareness shirts in the early 90s?  So cute and cartoonish?  And then surprisingly homoerotic when you delve a little deeper?  People can hate away, but I think the spirit of Mapplethorpe was smiling pretty big the day that Obama made his announcement saying that it’s cool if gays marry.

Anyway.  Point being that Smith and Mapplethorpe never married, but Smith went on to have a wonderful rock and roll marriage to Fred Sonic Smith (who came a long way from the MC5 commune, as described in Please Kill Me, another book I haven’t finished) before his untimely death, two kids, and be the high priestess of being an American artistic badass.

But Smith & Mapplethorpe’s relationship was obviously training ground.  Another bit of advice for relationships that I wouldn’t call failed, but let’s just say, relationships that didn’t end in marriage: it’s good to train before you hit the major leagues.  Learn how to share early on, and then even if the love of your young life ends up being the poster child for gay culture, you know what it means to be in a relationship with someone, to care for someone else, and you can still care for that first love all the days of your life.

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productivity, contribution, and self worth

I guess it came with growing up relatively poor, or having good role models, that I don’t tie my self worth to having a fancy car or fancy clothes (although I do have a lot of clothes – many of them still secondhand) or how much money I make.

But how do people define their self-worth?  How much you mean to your friends?  How much you mean to your husband (wife/significant other/etc.)?  What a good mother you are?  How clean your house is?  How healthy you are?  How much you contribute to charity?  How much you know?  How educated you are?  How much your job, or your beyond job activity contributes to society as a whole?

The job thing and the education thing contributes a great deal to how I tend to feel about myself.  As an overachiever child, this plays out in bizarre ways in adulthood.

T-storm talked a lot awhile ago about Erikson’s theories of lifespan development.  I never considered a career as a psychologist, but of all the things he’s come home with from his counseling grad classes, this to me is the most interesting.  Hooray lifespan development!

(This is also kind of funny, as we re-watched Scott Pilgrim vs. the World last night, full of slow motion silhouettes indicating the vs. battles.  Now I’m going to think of things like shame & stagnation dissolving into a giant flurry of coins.)

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raising strong girls

I do some in-house private tutoring as well, and one of my students’ parents, who is a doctor, asked me what I thought was the most important factor of raising girls who are strong and make good decisions.

This sounds like something you have to think about for a long time.  But it turns out not.  It was an answer that, for me, was as easy as answering, “What type of food do you like to eat?  What is your favorite color?”

Having strong female friendships.

In addition to being bolstered by awesome 90s Nickelodeon shows and reading books and stuff, it has been, all my life, my strong female friendships that I’ve come to depend on the most.  I had 11 bridesmaids in my wedding, and I don’t regret that.  All of these women, and many more, have affected my life, supported my decision making, and helped me to become the woman I am today.  My friendships with my girlfriends, throughout my entire life, have helped me to have a strong marriage thus far.

Everyone needs to have good role models who they can look up to.  In many ways, they need to have good role models who they can relate to, and say, “Hey, that person looks like me, or has this in common with me, or comes from the same place I do, and that could be me doing those awesome things one day.”

And in girls, no amount of Women’s History Month or whatever can replace having strong, loyal female friends.  I read recently about two women who are going for a full month of no beautification, here at the Naked Face Project.  The older woman involved in the twosome states in her biography that she had a lack of female friends growing up.  She has obviously achieved some success in what she does, but that got me scratching my head.

In the last week or so, I spent a good deal of time with old sorority sisters, and I realized how much I truly missed my girl time.  Nowadays, my friends are all couples, or mostly friends I know via my husband.  Spending time with my girls, two who I’d been roommates with, was invaluable.  It even got me motivated to update this blog right now.  It seems bizarre, but I’d almost forgotten that I have a large group of friends who can relate to so many of the things I feel and do as of right now.

I read an article a few months ago about raising confident girls.  I am addicted to reading comments on many of the articles I read online (although sometimes it’s a useless & infuriating habit), but some obviously frustrated father said, “How do you keep them happy though?”

I felt inclined to respond that it’s not about keeping girls happy.  It’s about making them strong, determined, independent, and resilient to the point where they can make their own decisions and deal with what life hands them.  Happiness is sometimes a by-product, and sometimes not.  The important thing is to make them strong.

There’s a lot more to be said about this, and there’s a lot more to uncover about the subject, but for the moment, I’ll leave it with this.  Girls need strong female friendships to become strong girls.


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ng + afp = less than three

So when I was a teenager I got into Tori Amos.  We’ll talk about why or why not that is later this week.  As a result of being into Tori Amos, in college-ish I became familiar with Neil Gaiman.  After college I started actually reading his stuff (not just the liner notes for Strange Little Girls).  One year for Christmas my (not-yet-then) husband purchased me the short story collection Fragile Things, with the aforementioned SLG inserts as a part of them.  (As for his liner notes, many of them are better than some but not all of the songs on that album; sorry you guys, but Tori’s cover of “Heart of Gold” is among the worst of all time.  “Reigning Blood”, however, is a thing to behold.)

“October in the Chair” is one of my favorite bedtime stories.

Anyway.  Almost two years ago I found Neil on twitter.  And thus found Amanda Palmer, and was like “WTF why haven’t I been listening to her for years!?”  (I know why – I was too preoccupied with twee & Sonic Youth throughout college.)

I’ve been rabidly following their relationship like it’s a tabloid, proving again that people writing their own shit on twitter is so much better than 90% of mainstream news publications.  And just yesterday, Palmer posted their epic, epic wedding blog, marking their one year anniversary.


Two things that she writes apply to well, everyone and everything.

nowadays, at some level, everybody loves a bride.
and everybody loves a bride, i think, because a bride symbolizes hope.

in a world filled with NO NO NO NO NO and fear and terror and doubt, a bride fills up the space in the minds eye as a giant white tulle YES, and you don’t need to know the romantic backstory. somehow, through some miraculous chain of events, this woman has decided to throw herself into a life commitment. and it means something different now than it did 100, even 50, years ago. because nowadays she has a choice.

SIGH.  I walked down the street in my white tulle poof on my wedding day and felt exactly exactly exactly that way.

Also, this is the kind of house I want to have one day:

the third inspiration was to call upon neil’s other writer friends, michael chabon and ayelet waldman, whose home we’d already been welcomed into the year before.
michael and ayelet have a kind of a dream-home, filled with four astoundingly awesome children, random instruments, rugs, books and all manner of homey-goodness. we asked if they would have us and armistead and lance and company over to dinner and by the way get married right before we eat and by the way would rosie possibly mind being our flower girl. they said yes, and rosie, age six, began aggressively plotting her outfit. things were officially underway.

(Yeah, we plan on one day having children, and I totally want to have a cadre of little girls who aggressively plan outfits.)

Anyway, the whole piece is beautifully wrought.  Insightful and just wonderful.  This is why people still get married.

Also, a video of AFP playing with the Boston Pops, as she mentions earlier in the post.

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happy new year

I hope that you guys & gals take good care of your friends in this new year. One of the last things we experienced “last year” (as in “last week”) was a very close friend losing both his father & step-father in the span of about 3 weeks. His step-father died on Christmas Eve. And to see all of his friends encircle him and take care of him was beyond incredible.

Anyway. Point being. Take care of each other. The world is horrible and cruel and ridiculous. So take care of each other.

Also this is essentially where we spent the ringing in of midnight.  Watching Bear Bartenders in a video where they lip-synched Lady GaGa’s “Edge of Glory” and looked almost exactly like this video.

And lots of people had Lincoln beards.  So maybe Electric Six is more responsible for the bear trend of the last few years than say, the dude from Iron & Wine?

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Not 24 hours ago I was trying to be all old and wise and married lady, and say “if you sleep you’ll be pretty.”

I suppose I will never be pretty. If pretty = bedtimes, then I’m a troll who belongs under a bridge.

I was all feeling sorry for myself earlier, having a stupid “there’s nothing to look forward to” pathetic pity party. I thought I was like so above that when my wedding came to fruition and I wasn’t feeling sad, but rather excited and fulfilled and what not.

Some of the magic has worn off a little bit, that doubling with a different Christmas than I’d prepared myself for, I was getting all cranky about it. I’m also probably ovulating. Alas.

But then I realized – I know what I can do to cure my sleepiness: BUDGET!

But it didn’t cure my sleepiness. That’s because is almost as fun to play with as lots of other websites (including this one). In the history of my websites I like to play with, this has to be at least up there with how much damn time I spent on angelfire, pretending I could write html code when I was a teenager.

Anyway. Do you have an unfortunate dislike for numbers and setting seemingly arbitrary rules for yourself? Yes, Mint can help even you. If it can help me, it can help you.

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