Saturday, July 18, 2015

My Lesbian Haircut and The Men Who Hate It

A while back I was out in a bar with a friend when a fairly intoxicated older Irish gentleman approached us and inquired if we were Lesbians. Actually, he informed us that his friends down the bar (who were younger) thought we were Lesbians and he was coming over to confirm. As it happens the friend I was with is in fact a Lesbian, but I am not. I do (or did at the time depending on when you're reading this), however, have a very short haircut. One side was shaved and the top was a bit spiked and a formerly electric blue dye job was starting to fade. This is just my aesthetic. Short hair is easier and I like to try new things and hair dye is like a fun craft project. 

If you've been following this blog you know that I like men and I like them a lot. I like them so much that I will tolerate behavior that I would punish a child for just so I can get a good long whiff of man neck and man hair and man...other things. Being a lesbian would be lovely, but unfortunately I crave to have the weight of someone who will never understand me crushing me in abrupt post coital sleep. 
 I won't drag this out. My point is that a lot of men would not an do not approach me because of my hair. My lesbian friend assures me that my general reading is not at all of then LGBTQ nature, and maybe that's not even the issue, but I have to admit that I'm surprised at how much it had changed the way people treat me. Often it's positive like "woooow so badass I wish I had the courage" or "oh yeah I love girls with short hair" but it has never just not been an issue. I thought I was making a chic choice but  I first cut it short while I was in a relationship and I only recently starting noticing how it effects the way men interact with me. It is always a thing. 

Sunday, July 12, 2015

The Twofer Rule: A Discerning Lady’s Answer to the One Night Stand

The Twofer Rule: A Discerning Lady’s Answer to the One Night Stand

I am in favor of casual sex. I am also in favor of good sex. You see my dilemma.

(Disclaimer: This is a PERSONAL essay about a straight woman’s experience with heterosexual intercourse. I have no idea whether this represents anyone else’s experience and I am by no means trying to draw any conclusions that apply to anyone other than myself.)

It is very difficult to have satisfying sex with someone new, especially when there is alcohol, social anxiety, and mental fatigue in play. It is exhausting to be around someone who you want to sleep with when you think you might actually be able to do so.  If you do not find this to be true you may leave now and go polish your trophies for stellar social adjustment. You are not needed here. If you are a straight man who has never taken the time to really talk to women about their sexual experiences then I need to warn you that you might not be able to fully grasp the vast disparity between what “bad sex” means for a woman vs. a man. I don’t want to bore my more enlightened readers by explaining it, so please find a few women and host a little panel before reading further. I suggest buying a few rounds of cocktails and starting with the question “what is the worst sex you have ever had”.

My solution to this problem is to always try to have sex with someone on at least two separate occasions. I call this method the Twofer Rule and it has served me well. Unless someone’s company is so unbearable that the thought of further contact inspires visceral discomfort, or the physical chemistry was so poor that the chances against it being better the second time seem insurmountable, I do my best to adhere to this rule as often as possible. Even if the sex is never particularly great I at least feel like I have been proactive in my own enjoyment of life’s greatest free recreation.

If the sex was good the first time, then awesome! More good sex. If it was kind of mediocre to not-so-great, then the second time serves as an opportunity to improve. If it does NOT improve then at least I know I tried, and I also get a better sense of that person, so my memories of them are more concrete which helps me tell the story of our lackluster sex in more thrilling detail later on. Everybody- especially my friends and audience- wins.

It may seem like I am over-complicating things. My male friends especially contest that as a woman it is easy for me to get laid, and therefore I’m better off having sex with as many different people as possible. “It’s a numbers game, really” one once quipped while furiously and indiscriminately swiping right on Tinder, “and as a girl you could be banging someone new every night. I’m guessing at least like 1 in 4 knows what they’re doing”.  My vagina cringed at the suggestion.

Despite my cavalier and enthusiastic attitude towards sex I don’t actually have it very frequently. This is because I am what some people would deem “socially awkward and vaguely unapproachable” and others might call “breaking my balls for no goddamn reason” and what I like to refer to as “incapable of getting out of my own way even to serve my own agenda”. In other words I cannot, will not, do not flirt no matter how interested I am in someone or how badly I’d like to pony up. All of the sex I have ever had after anything less than a year of social warming time has occurred only by the graces of fate, the desperation and/or arrogance of my partners, or sheer resilience on my part.

I have found that no matter how little I smile and nod and how noticeably I avoid giving praise to his hand-carved wooden glasses and how frequently I am clearly NOT paying attention to his story about that time in Amsterdam with his buddies (all men in Brooklyn have this story) things are bound to progress if I just stick around until 4 AM. This tactic usually works the first time but does not tend to keep men crawling after me. This doesn’t bother me because I know that there are at least a few men who find my lack of charm charming, and who enjoy my explanations of how to clean the dried skin from a horse’s penis. For some reason this bit of knowledge never lands as well I expect (Not impressed, City Boy? Yeah OK tell me more about your fixed-gear bike). I bring this up only to highlight that I do not take my sexual experiences for granted, and I cherish the ones that go even remotely well.

Most of the better sex I have had has been with people who I already know are not going to work out in the long run, or even in the short run. I am grateful for this because good sex is like a rich bed of manure in which even the tiniest seeds of emotional attachment will flourish and bloom before ultimately being ripped out by the root and tossed in the garbage; I prefer it when there is no seed at all- not even a FRAGMENT of a seed. There is nothing more exciting to me these days than good sex with a man with whom I have nothing in common. Better yet, a BORING man with whom I have nothing in common and who doesn’t understand my jokes. My buttocks are clenching in delight just thinking of it.

“Hey it might be cool if we banged right now. No? Ok whatever man. Just let me know if you find yourself with a free evening and a hard dick”.  Most men I have slept with have had some form of this interaction with me within a month of the first engagement. It isn’t elegant but it tends to work sooner or later. If I get any response at all to this at all (unless it’s “NO”) I am confident that I can get to the second schtupping sometime soon even if it means staying on my toes, as my suitors rarely give me much more than a few hours notice if they do in fact decide to take me up on the offer.

I once received a text from a previous conquest while out to drinks with someone else and somehow found my way to his apartment in Greenpoint at 3 in the morning despite the fact that my phone died before I could confirm the details. I showed up sweaty and wide-eyed and ready for action. His exact words upon opening the door were “Oh my god. What are you doing?”. Granted he ended up being drunk as a lord and incapable of performing until after a nap and a sandwich,  but I was still glad that I was able to stick a bow on the whole experience and call it a win. A bow was, incidentally, the shape of the bite mark he left on my bicep. When I left his apartment, I turned in the doorframe and said to the half asleep and naked body in the bed in front of me “Thanks for having me!”. We have not spoken since.

The arguable downside to my approach is the potential loss of pride and the degradation of my self-esteem. If I don’t get what I am looking for it is easy to slip into the assumption that I don’t deserve it at all, and that my own poor life choices have relinquished me to an existence of bad sex and loneliness. It is important to remember though (and I tell myself this frequently) that sex is just a nice thing that you get to do with another person, and if you’re going to do it you might as well be on control of your own enjoyment. I have found there is nothing to gain from letting the other person tell you when it’s appropriate to want them. So long as I am honest and safe, and ultimately not unkind to those I choose to share this experience, I really don't see how it could be a bad thing.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

And Guest

                           And Guest
                            Chapter 1

I stood in the nearly empty reception hall grinning like an idiot and trying to catch my breath. My ankles wobbled on my poorly chosen footwear and my purse hung impotently on my shoulder- still too light for lack of my fugitive phone and purposefully abandoned wallet. I pictured it on the hotel side table where I had left it in the assumption that I wouldn’t need it in light of the open bar.  I felt a pang of sadness like I used to as a child when I couldn’t take every stuffed animal to bed with me and worried that the others would feel rejected. Poor lonely wallet. Or maybe this time that pang was the more appropriate and adult panic that one normally feels when they've made a huge mistake. Either way there was no time to indulge my sentimental fetishes; my phone was nowhere to be found and I was still grinning at what I hoped was a kind stranger- the only person who might be able to help me- and completely failing to communicate my needs. I commanded myself to either say something or leave. My lips and legs defied me but my throat lept into action producing a series of croaks and hums. “Oh good,” I thought, “...Like a robot. Maybe he’ll think you’ve evolved beyond speech and be very impressed.”

After a moment of peering at me suspiciously he must have said something and I must have agreed because the next thing I knew I was following him towards a lone car idling on the far side of the parking lot. I saw the silhouettes of several other people shifting against the streetlamp glow which filtered through the backseat windows. Good. More strangers. I prepared to explain myself as I apologetically wriggled my body between two meaty torsos in the middle back seat, but quickly realized how very little information I had to offer.  The name of the hotel where my wallet lay languishing had dislodged itself from my brain to make room for the names of all 6 of the bridesmaids and their dates, all of whom insisted on drinking with me after learning whose Plus One I was. It was somewhere between my second Pina Colada and my third Lemon Drop shot that both my date and my phone had disappeared. Without my phone I had no way of knowing if he was trying to reach me but some small voice, be it conscience or aural hallucination, told me it no longer mattered. Had he not abandoned me 600 miles from home in a sea of unfamiliar faces, and had I not consumed an entirely undignified amount of coconut rum, I might have been more concerned.


Saturday, May 30, 2015

Provacative Females and The Women Who Hate Them

  Provocative Females and the Women Who Hate Them
On a relatively warm but drizzly day in March, when I was 27 and living in Brooklyn, I boarded a Bronx bound 1 train at 34th street in Manhattan. Normally the subway is a wash of deliberate anonymity but today I felt the slow burn of lingering eyes. This is a feeling I usually only get right before I realize that someone I was trying to avoid has spotted me or when a man is about to say something distasteful. But at that moment I only saw the usual cast of exhausted commuters and several tight-mouthed women eying me suspiciously. I was standing with one hand on a vertical pole and they were sitting in a row about 3 feet to my left.  I surveyed myself to see if maybe an unexpected body part was exposed or I was accidentally standing on a baby. I was not, so I remained perplexed.

On This particular day it should be said that I was not exactly hitting all of the markers of the Down-to-Earth ingenue. I was wearing very ripped black stockings, black combat boots, and a skirt which was not so very short, but prone to fluttering upward at the slightest hint of a draft, which meant that I occasionally had to spastically clutch my own butt in order to avoid a spectacle. My hair was an electric, almost white blonde. It was short and parts of it were sticking out erratically. The actual cause for this was lack of product or a proper comb, but it looked calculated and subversive.  My eye makeup was dark and smudged mostly from rubbing my eyes all day at work. This look was not a signature of mine, but I take personal style on a day-by-day basis and that morning it had felt appropriate to my mood. I had dressed like this at work, and no one seemed to notice, so while I knew that it could be considered provocative, it did not occur to me that it might be considered an affront to basic decency.

It was around 5 PM on a Friday during rush hour and I was on my way to see a friend who was living on West 85th street near Riverside Park. For anyone unfamiliar with this area, it is the setting for the Movie “You’ve Got Mail” starring Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks. Despite a general disdain for Romantic Comedies and the unrealistic expectations they encourage I have always loved that movie. I like the idea of Meg Ryan’s character roaming the epicenter of culture and fashion with her fuzzy head, high-waisted khakis and unflattering t-shirts; unfazed by the hoards of angular, hostile, fashionable New Yorkers. When I moved to New York in 2012 at the age of 24, it was this woman I had in mind when I saw myself in The City. You can keep your Carrie Bradshaws and your Anna Wintours, I thought, I’m a Kathleen Kelly.

The Male Gaze is a nuisance, but one I know how to navigate because I was raised to understand that my self worth has nothing to do with men. Judgement from other women, on the other hand, is something which has always had the power to unravel me. When a strange man makes a lewd comment or gesture, his intentions are clear; yes yes, we get it. You are a MAN and you need to assert some sense of power over me because you are entitled and so on and so forth. I can roll my eyes and move on with my life. But when three strange women who had no stake in my safety or future glowered at me as if I had personally come over and ripped THEIR stockings, I felt the need to defend myself.  But I’m Kathleen Kelly! I silently insisted I have a healthy body image. You don’t understand! But the frowns persisted, and the eyes followed me out the sliding doors. Earlier that day a man had shouted “Let’s see it all!” when I couldn’t catch my skirt in time so I threw some juicy handpicked profanities in his direction, but for this I had no recourse. It was hardly worth causing a ruckus on a crowded train. So I slunk out the door and up to the street, where I held my skirt to my sides and walked with my head down.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Lady Friends- A Dialogue

Lady Friends

“I feel like you’ve been using me for my friendship.”
“ I don’t think you ARE sorry”
“No I didn’t mean “sorry” as in I feel bad...I meant SORRY? as in...I don’t understand what you mean. I enjoy your company and I assumed that you enjoy mine. I was under the impression that this was how friendship works.”
“No but like...I talk about my life and you listen but then you don’t really talk about your life. It feels unbalanced.”
“So I don’t have enough problems?”
“You don’t have to have PROBLEMS to talk about your life.”
“You mostly talk about your problems.”
“Well I have a lot of problems. And I really appreciate how much you’ve helped me through things. But I don’t want our relationship to be based on my problems, you know? What happens when I don’t have any.”
“ That has yet to happen in the three years that I’ve known you but I see your point. I still don’t understand how I’m using you.”
“ Well am I just something to keep you entertained in between boyfriends? It’s almost like you’re saving your good material for someone else.”
“ That might be true but you’re the one who gets to hear about my bowel movements.”
“ And you mine. Don’t change the subject.”
“You’re right, I think. I think I prioritize romantic relationships over friendships even when I’m not getting any.”
“Female relationships are very important.”
“Did they tell you that at Lesbian orientation?”
“No that was in the required summer reading.”
“When does fisting come up?”
“Oh that’s senior thesis material.”
“What goes on at the PhD level?”
“Mostly adopting Chinese babies.”

Monday, March 16, 2015

The Dreary Extra Mile: Ambition, Dedication, and Other Twisted Values

I want to do a job that needs to be done and then I want to go home. I want to do it well and finish it completely and leave it where I found it. That is all. What I do at home is where life is and there’s no shame in being content with unremarkable things. I could move back to the country and get a job in a greenhouse or something; live in cabin and eat what I grow. But I am terrible with plants and I don’t do well in the sun. I’d rather be in New York, right in the middle of the circus, doing something that does at least a little bit of something good and keeping my eye on the chaos.

We live in a world of invented needs. I feel comfortable saying “we” because anyone reading this blog is, I presume, in my general socio-economic spectrum. From that invented need come businesses to fill it, and within that business are more invented needs, the need for everyone to pull their weight and do a little more than is comfortable in order to yield success and maintain the jobs and salaries that brought everyone there to begin with.

I don’t want to clamber for accolades or raises, or spend my free time worrying about whether or not my achievements are impressive or even appreciated. I don’t want to care about something just because I’m in charge of it, or be in charge of something just because it seems like I should be. I only want to be in charge of something because I care about it. But caring is a funny thing when it’s paying your bills.

To be a good person, in Brooklyn at least,  you need to shop local and buy American made brands and look like you crawled out of a garbage can in 1956. To afford peace of mind as a consumer you’ll either need to sell your soul or simply stop wanting things altogether (so simple!). If you have to shop at Target you should feel so bad about it that you want to work harder to make more, so you can spend more on the warm and fuzzy products that save babies who weren’t born with your blessings.

So call me lazy or selfish or uninspired. America wants me to want to work- to want to be professionally impressive- so I can succeed and live my dream and be someone worth editorializing. My unrest is someone else’s profit masquerading as my own. Wanting more is the oldest American tradition. Hard work is King- America was built on it! Actually, America was built on exploitation- of slaves and immigrants and women (lucky to be working! even luckier to be getting paid at all!) and now of anyone who wants to “get ahead” and do a lot of extra work at a high emotional cost for little in return but respect- or simply for not LOSING respect. It's hard to reconcile and I have hardly found any answers, but I have found that I'm happiest when I don't let anyone take advantage of my free time just because I have it and I think more people should think for a minute about what direction that "extra mile" is headed before congratulating themselves so heartily for going it.

Friday, January 2, 2015

The Story of Rob and Emma

RH: Hey my names Rob, as you can probably deduce by my username. You seem like a hilariously heartbreakingly harrowing heroin...sorry for the bizarre wordplay but I never know how to start these things. I know on paper I look like a mess but I promise you my profile is not really a good representation of me.
Sent on 12/28/2013

Rob sent me a message on a Saturday when I was alone in my office, as I always was on Saturdays back then. I had been on OKCupid for a little over a month, and had already been on a string of entertaining but ultimately inconsequential dates. It was right between Christmas and New Years, which both fell on a Wednesday that year, and I was caught up in the glistening nostalgia which tends to color New York that time of year. Our messages were not deeply personal or revealing of our true natures, but something about this message and his face made my skepticism feel less like a logical necessity and more like an unjustified barrier.

ES: I fully appreciate the alliteration and it's a much more interesting way to begin a conversation than "hello how are you?". Profiles are a good place to start, but I prefer doing most of my familiarizing through conversation anyway :)
Sent from the OkCupid app  12/28/2013

We talked on and off all day, switching to text fairly quickly, about nothing in particular. I talked about how I had never had a successful New Years Eve in New York, and we agreed to meet on that night because we had otherwise resolved to stay in and avoid it that night. "We might as well plan on having a terrible time together" I said.

ES: Oh, and my name is Emma. I actually found your profile quite charming, for what it's worth.
Sent from the OkCupid app  12/28/2013

I had to work on the 31st so we decided to meet on the later side with no particular plan.  At around 9 o clock, I mixed bourbon and grapefruit juice in a water bottle, bought a bottle of cheap prosecco, and hopped on a Manhattan bound 7 train. I had told him I would be doing this, but that didn't make it any less presumptuous that I arrived on his stoop in a far too sparkly dress and insisted on being let up so I could put my libations in his fridge before heading out to one of his favorite local bars on the Upper West Side.

RH:Hello Emma! Thank you very much. The way you begin your profile was charming and interesting as well. "Dress like an unsupervised 6 year old" =very funny. I dress like a jerk in the 90's, like any character in American Pie. I would completely understand if you did not reply back after having received that information.
Sent on 12/28/2013

By some miracle we found a seat at a table and were able to procure Beers. Rob is 6'3, which has always been very helpful when it comes to getting drinks in a crowded bar. I am mostly useless in this regard, and should not be trusted to carry things anyway.

ES: On the contrary, I have a fondness for mid 90s dude-wear. It's what all the Hollywood hunks were wearing during my formative years, afterall. I recently rewatched the entire Felicity series on Netflix so I have no shortage of affection for the 90s and all of the button up shirts they have to offer. Now it's my turn to forgive you for not responding on account of the Felicity thing.
Sent from the OkCupid app  12/28/2013

We talked about other Okcupid dates and admitted uncomfortable things that could have brought the evening to a grinding halt but didn't; I that I was somewhat recently removed from a very long term relationship and he that he really hadn't been in a long term relationship other than a relationship which spanned the last year of highschool and the first year of college. We were both 26 at the time.

RH: Haha I actually had to look up Felicity, my 90's pop culture references begin with the first gulf war and end with the break up of the Spice Girls. We all have those guilty pleasure shows, I would be lying if I said I didn't watch an episode or two of The Jersey Shore. Again no need to respond, I feel like I just offended every person with the admittance of having watched more than 1 minute of that show.
Sent on 12/28/2013

The truth is that I didn't talk enough- I never do on first dates. But I listened. I enjoyed listening to him very much and he was very good at being listened to. He was flatteringly nervous and eager to be known.  I know now that he is this way with most people, which is something I love about him regardless, but at the time it felt like it was for me, and I was doing a good job.

ES:When I had cable I used to watch jersey shore all the time. I'm not "on board" with that kind if thing and I definitely don't want that lifestyle for myself, but I am not above it. And I still think the concept of "the shirt before the shirt" leading into "t shirt time" is some of the funniest shit on earth.
Sent from the OkCupid app  12/28/2013

We had known each other for less than two hours when the ball dropped, and we were across a table from each other with strangers packed in on either side of us so we just smiled dumbly and pretended it wasn't happening. We were not drunk enough for a kiss to feel anything other than stressful in that moment. He went outside to call his family members for what felt like a very long time. To this day I give him a hard time about this, but in reality I found it very endearing.

ES:I decided that I'm not ok with having sent a message in which I ONLY talked about jersey shore so I'm amending this message to say that jersey shore only makes up a teeny percentage of my tv habits. The rest is mostly cartoons and sitcoms. Not that I watch tv all day long. I go outside ALL the time.
Sent from the OkCupid app  12/28/2013

I don't remember how long we stayed there. It couldn't have been too long because we only had two beers, which he bought by the way, like a gentleman. In fact, my usual move on an online date is to show up early and already have a drink by the time he arrives to eliminate the "who's paying" element so this threw me off my game a bit, but I really wanted to have that Prosecco chilling when we returned so I had no choice. We went back to his place with every intention of going to his friends party in Brooklyn, because what's ballsier than going on a first date on New Years Eve? Introducing that date to all of your friends or BEING introduced to all of your dates friends.

RH: Hahahahaha you might be hilarious. Speaking of being outside it is uncomfortably nice out for this time of year, I'm almost considering going for a run. By the way, my number is xxxxxxxxx if in fact you would like to text me instead.
Sent on 12/28/2013

...we didn't make it to the party. We drank Prosecco and my strange Bourbon concoction. I would later find out that he hates Grapefruit juice.What a trooper. We drank and talked (me still not enough) and walked the dog. It was freezing outside and suddenly it was 3 AM and we were in Riverside Park. I told a second hand story about a woman who went on a date with a man with a micro penis. That is all I remember.

So I've heard. On Saturdays I sit in an office by myself for 10 hours and I have no idea what's going in outside. 1 more hour! I'll text you shortly so you have my number :)
Sent from the OkCupid app  12/28/2013

I talk a lot when I sense that maybe someone wants to kiss me, or that I want to kiss someone, or that we really should be kissing by now regardless of what anyone feels. And ooooooh I say the very worst things.  In this case I had been sitting on a stool while he sat on his bed. I sat on that stool for way too long. There was no way for him to come join me on the stool, so it was really up to me to make the move to the bed and I just DIDN'T for SEVERAL HOURS.

Finally, I said something ridiculous like "I'm going to come sit over there because my butt is sore from sitting on this stool". VERY LOGICAL. HE'LL NEVER KNOW WHAT YOU'RE UP TO. I never fail to miss an opportunity to be cool or sexy or to seem in control of a situation so once I noticed that we were sitting closer and he was making a face like "I'm going to move my face closer to your face soon" I gracefully sputtered "you don't really have any moves, do you?". YUP. That's what I went with. Four stars, Sklar.

In another New Years Miracle, he kissed me anyway =DAD STOP READING NOW= which quickly progressed to horizontal kissing and the very awkward navigation of thick winter pantyhose. To put it in Jersey Shore terms, "we smushed". We smushed 2 times and then fell asleep, woke up, smushed again, and then went to a diner. It was all giddy and wonderful (and highly satisfying for the record). It was by far the best New Years Eve I had ever had, from what easily could have been a disaster.

If you know me, or know this blog, you know that this is not the story of how I met my future husband or boyfriend, but the story of how I met my best friend. I made a lot of unusual choices that night and I'm glad to say that it paid off in unexpected ways. I know there's a lot left unsaid here, and that's a story for another day, but that first date ended up being far more indicative of the wonderful giddyness that would color our friendship than of anything else.