Thursday, July 20, 2017

Jeepers Creepers, or How to Compliment a Woman in 5 Easy Steps

In my not-so-meteoric rise to Instagram "fame," I've started getting more and more direct messages from complete strangers (emphasis on the strange), which are, quite possibly, the bane of my Instagram existence.  If it weren't for my desire to be a public part of the vintage/pin community on Instagram, I'd probably shut my account down to a very, very private setting (like my Facebook is).

Because, come on.  Just because I post a lot of selfies does not mean that I'm looking for attention.

Shocking, I know.
It also does not mean I'm interested in sexting.  Or hooking up.

And yet.  A guy literally sent me a picture of two people having sex.

Another guy trolled through months and months of my photos, then sent me several messages in a row until I responded thusly:

Note: these are NOT men that I know in any way, shape, or form.

I also continue to get... vaguely inappropriate attention from the lower end of the male population.  Men who, I'm sure, think that they're being incredibly complimentary and yet have absolutely no idea how to compliment a woman (at least not in a way that doesn't make her skin crawl).  Men who don't know when to stop talking.  Men who don't know how to make eye contact.

Does this behavior sound familiar?  If so, I'm here for you.

It is, surprisingly, not that hard to compliment a woman.  Women manage to do it all the time.  We gush over hair and necklaces and dresses (particularly dresses with pockets).  We praise eyelashes and eyeliner.  We high five over hilarious jokes and accomplishments.  We rave about each other's talents.

All those things?  Hugely complimentary.

And I get it.  It's way easier for women to compliment other women.  There's some weird non-existent boundary that possibly comes from having tons of sleepovers and sharing clothes and makeup and secrets.  So we can tell another woman that she's sexy af without it being weird.

Sarah's Scribbles only speaks the truth, obviously.
And I get that it's not fair for you men.  But that's just the way it is.

That doesn't mean you should never compliment a woman.  But, by the unfair nature of the game, there are many, many things you should not do (and a few things you should).

(Please note: this is not a guide to how to get a girl to go out with you.  I just Googled "how to compliment a girl" for the hell of it and the results were... really, really horrifying.  So, I'm going to state this again: if you are reading this to find out how to get into a woman's pants?  You've come to the wrong place.  Or the right one, actually.  This is a guide on how not to be a creeper, after all, and you sound like you might just fit the qualifications.)

How To Compliment A Woman (in 5 Easy Steps)

1.  Don't. Tell. Her. To. Smile.  End of story.  Don't do it.  No exceptions.  No excuses.  (Okay, there's a few exceptions, like if you're doing her makeup or taking professional photos.  But that's it.  Really.)  Women do not need to smile for you.  Resting Bitch Face is real.

2.  If you don't have something nice to say, don't say nothing at all.  Let's face it, men.  Usually, you don't need to say anything.  You don't need to catcall, or whistle, or anything.  Because that woman walking by?  She's busy.  She's leading her own life.  She's grocery shopping, or spending time with her family, or listening to a Star Wars audiobook.  She's not looking for your phone number, or for casual sex in the parking lot of a Walmart.  She's not waiting for the love of her life to wolf whistle her from a passing car.  I hate to break this to you, but it's the truth.

3.  Learn to take a hint.  If she doesn't seem interested, she's probably not interested.  And that's okay.  Let her read her book in the bar.  Don't pester a random stranger on Instagram for a response.  Is she walking away quickly?  Don't follow.  Did she refuse your offer of a drink?  Stop offering.  Did she not dance with you at a wedding because she's actually working at said wedding?  Try asking someone else to dance.  I'm sure there's someone else out there somewhere who is actually interested.

4.  Be genuine.  Basically, don't try so hard, guys.  Don't think you need to go for the gold in the Compliment Olympics.  You don't.  Sure, that perfectly crafted, clever-yet-not-cheesy pickup line can get a girl's attention, maybe garner a laugh, maybe even lead to a long and happy marriage, but the best compliments I've ever received from friends and strangers alike are the ones that are genuine and in-the-moment.  Sincerity wins the day, folks.  Sincerity also generally will keep you from lame lines like, "have you ever fallen in love with someone just by looking at their pictures?"  Sincerity might also (hopefully) keep you from telling a woman how how great her tits look in the dress she's wearing.  (Pro tip: just compliment the dress.  We'll know what you mean.)  Do you like the way she snorts when she laughs really hard?  Tell her.  Do you admire her excellent taste in whiskey?  Tell her.  Do you think it's awesome that she's reading a book by your favorite author?  Tell her.  Because you know what? Compliments are not restricted to sex appeal.  And you can compliment someone without an ulterior motive.  Because compliments (genuine, uncreepy, appropriate compliments) are awesome.

5.  Finally, guys, be a gentleman.  Basically, this is an excellent rule for any encounter with a stranger.  If you wouldn't want your mom knowing what you said/did/sent to someone you don't even know, then maybe, just maybe, reconsider it.  Dick pics?  Do I need to say it?  As a rule of thumb, we probably don't want those springing up (pun so totally intended) on our phones if we're not actively in a relationship with you.  I'm glad you're so proud of it, but a picture of your genitals is not exactly the way to my heart (or any other part of my body you might be interested in).  Dick pics do not equal a compliment.  I'm sorry.  You don't always have to be a gentleman, but it's a very good place to start.

In conclusion, I leave you with adult Wednesday Addams' video about catcallers, because, really, she says it all.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Build Me Up Buttercup

Hey, you.

Yes, you.

I need to tell you something, and I need you to listen.  More than that, I need you to believe me.

We might be close.  We might not be.  But it doesn't change what I have to say, which is this: You are worthwhile.  You are amazing.  You are awesome.  You deserve the world and everything in it.  You deserve happiness and love and support and true friendships and true partnerships.  Not for anything you've said or done, but because you're you.  You're a person.  You have your own incredible, unique thoughts and emotions and feelings and desires and talents.  You're unlike anyone else on this earth, and you can't even begin to appreciate how remarkable that is.

What you don't deserve is someone, anyone, who makes you feel less than that.

This is a subject close to my heart, as I wasted years of my life with a man (and I use that term loosely) who made me feel less than.  Less than what, you ask?  Less that good enough.  Less than respected.  Less than attractive.  Less than loved.  Less than amazing.  Just... less.  There were terms and limits on when I deserved to be treated well (usually reserved to when he wanted something from me), and usually I didn't measure up.  My needs and desires were less than his, and always would be.

But, every now and then he would throw me a bone to keep me trailing along behind him.  He would take me out for a nice dinner.  He would buy me something.  He would allow me to perform at a pole show.  It wasn't much, but it was enough at the time.  It shouldn't have been, but it was.

Why? Because I didn't think there was better out there.  Because I had barely dated anyone else.  Because I didn't think it was that bad.  Because I felt guilty for wanting to leave.

I didn't know what I deserved.  I didn't have the self-esteem to know what I deserved.  I didn't have people telling me what I deserved, because they didn't know I what needed to hear until it was almost too late.

If this is the case for you, then I have one thing to say to you: fuck that shit.  You deserve so much more.  You deserve more than you think you do.

You deserve rainbows and unicorns and pizza and the fluffiest puppy/kitten of your preference.  You deserve someone who thinks they're lucky as hell to have you in their life, and tells you so.  It doesn't matter if that person is a friend, a family member, or a romantic partner.  And it doesn't matter if sometimes you fight over stupid shit, or get on each other's nerves, or disagree about politics or religion or what the hell to have for dinner.  What matters is that they are there for you, and want to be there for you.  What matters is how they treat you, because actions 100% always speak louder than words.

We live in an era of burgeoning girl power.  We have Wonder Woman.  We have Ruth Bader Ginsberg.  We have strong, capable women literally all around us.  We are strong, capable women.  And yet, we find ourselves in situations where we continually compromise our awesomeness for someone who sees no problem with that compromise being made.  We stay with men (or women) who are small, selfish people, who pull us down so that they feel better about themselves, who keep us safe and controlled behind the walls of what we can or can't do.  And we have not grown up with the self-esteem required to know when enough is enough.  Or we've somehow lost that self-esteem along the way.

I was lucky.  I found my self-esteem through the world of pole dancing and through the friends that I made through the pole and burlesque world.  I found a relationship with a man who didn't treat me like a second-class citizen, like a servant, like less than.  But even if I hadn't have found that man, I would still be better off alone than with someone like my ex.

That's the important part.  You are awesome all on your own.  All by yourself.  You don't need someone else to make you awesome.  You don't need to be thinner to be awesome.  You don't need to be richer to be awesome.  You're awesome just by showing up in your own awesome, imperfect skin.  Bam.  Awesome.

Now, read that last paragraph again.  It's important.

We forget that.  I know I do.  It's easy to, even without someone else constantly dragging us down.  There's that little voice inside that whispers our mistakes, our doubts, our fears.  That voice tells us that it's all true: we are less than.  We aren't talented.  We aren't successful.  We aren't worth it.  We aren't awesome.

That voice is wrong.  Dead wrong.  But it can be loud.  And it is persistent as hell if we don't constantly work to keep it gagged, to drown it out with our own amazingness, with our own self-confidence, and with a chorus of friends who are there to shut that bastard down when we lose the ability to do so ourselves.

I promise this: if you come to me, for whatever reason, I will always tell you how awesome you are.  I will tell that voice inside you to shut the hell up, and I will tell you exactly what you deserve.  Because I've been there.  I've been lost and convinced I was less than. I don't want anyone else to get stuck in that same space.

I'm pretty awesome (even on the days I don't feel like it).

And so are you.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

The Care and Feeding of an Introvert

I had a fairly epic meltdown yesterday.

Not only was it epic, but it was entirely unexpected.  I mean, the usual triggers were all there: too much socializing, too little sleep, too many commitments.  I'd been on the go on Friday non-stop from 6am til after 11pm.  It was a long weekend with Kaylee, who likes waking up around 6 am. We stayed out late Monday at a movie.  I battled Walmart on the day before a holiday and baked 4 desserts in the span from Monday evening til Tuesday morning.

But I didn't feel stressed out.  I didn't feel like crying.  I just felt, well, exhausted.  And the exhaustion covered almost every other sign that I was on the verge of losing my Vulcan-like cool.

So, when Mark asked me what I wanted for dinner (how dare he, am I right?), I may have exploded.

Okay.  I did.  I exploded.  I lost my cool.  I completely melted down and sobbed for about five minutes.  It was embarrassing and frustrating and I hated every damn second of it.

And now all I can do is think about the many and various ways that scenario could have easily been avoided.

You see, in my exhaustion and determination to Do All the Things and Bake All the Things, I forgot something very important.

I'm an introvert.

Quite simply, I can't do all the things.  Not all the time.  (I can still try to bake all the things, though.  Try and stop me.)

I know I talk about being an introvert a lot.  I admit it.  But it's important to me and how I function.

Being an introvert isn't just an reason to stay home or leave early.  It's not a convenient or handy excuse.   In fact, most of the time it makes me feel guilty.  I don't always want to stay home.  I don't always want to relax.  Sometimes I do want to do all the things and go to all the places and see all my friends.

But I can't.

Being an introvert is who I am.  And, if I ignore who I am for too long, if I keep pretending to be someone else (someone who can be blithely be a social butterfly), and if I don't remember the proper care and feeding of an introvert, there are consequences.

What is the proper care and feeing of an introvert?

Well.  I'm glad you asked, since I clearly need my own reminder.

Before we begin, please remember this: being an introvert does not make me anti-social.  I love my friends and my family and enjoy spending time with them.  To an extent.  And then I need a break.

What To Do With Your Introvert: A Manual

1. Give her space.  Introverts, more than extroverts, have a precious personal bubble that only certain people are allowed inside. (Note: Most pets are welcome inside the bubble at all times.)  Space is not just physical.  Space is needed in conversations, in emotions, and in new experiences.  All these things take careful consideration for an introvert, and answers to serious (or not-so-serious) questions often need to be worded just right in an introvert's head before being spoken aloud.  New situations need easing into.  Don't rush an introvert if at all possible.

2. Give her alone time.  If you see your introvert curled up with a book, or eating by herself, don't worry.  She's not bored.  She's not upset.  She's recharging.  This is very important for an introvert, especially after a long period of socializing.  (Most introverts bring a book along with them to help maintain proper battery strength throughout the day.)  She'd probably like some coffee, if you do feel the need to contribute.

3. Give her a book.  Suggest a movie.  Start a Netflix marathon.  Basically, give her an escape and a mental break.  A lot goes on inside an introvert's head.  All the time.  Constantly.  The average introvert is almost always playing and replaying past situations, present dilemmas, and future scenarios.  She is remembering song lyrics and movie quotes.  She's making up stories.  She's agonizing over a mistake she made ten years ago.  She's analyzing the next day's schedule.  She's worried someone's mad at her.  Books are a refuge, a focusing point.  They shut out the excess noise.  So do movies and TV shows.  If you're lucky, your introvert will snuggle on the couch with you, or at least share her popcorn.  (Bonus points if you suggest she goes to a bookstore, takes a bath, or both.)

4. Make her food.  Bring her a snack.  Order a pizza.  Pour her a glass of wine, or beer, or drink of choice.  Or just let her loose in the kitchen, since cooking is one of the best therapeutic activities there is. (Maybe offer to help clean up, if the coast seems clear).  Really, just do this for anyone.  Everyone likes food.  Food is awesome.

5. Don't issue last-minute invites.  While this is not a hard and fast rule (see #6), as even introverts can behave spontaneously, it is a very handy guideline.  You are more likely to lure your introvert from the safety of her den if you plan ahead and give her time to mentally prepare for leaving said den.  Introverts, in general, like to know what to expect from day to day.  Last-minute invites tend to trigger the warning bells.  Note: planning ahead doesn't guarantee the presence of your introvert.  Sometimes, it's best to stay home in spite of the best-laid plans.  It happens.

6. Don't stop inviting her to things (even if it is last-minute).  Introverts want to know that they're welcome to join in an activity, even if they decide not to.  Introverts know that they live in an extroverted world and often feel guilty for not attending parties/group events, or for leaving said events early.  Continued invites keep introverts from feeling unwanted and encourage your introvert to step outside her bubble (just a bit), but don't be discouraged if she stays home instead.  Remember: your introvert still loves you, even if she didn't go to a concert with you, of if she only stayed for an hour at your party.

7. Text her.  Introverts have an innate dislike for phone calls (and are often known for not answering).  Most introverts prefer texting for day-to-day casual conversation, as it allows for fully-formulated thoughts at convenient intervals.  Through reading what an introvert has to say (be it text, e-mails, Facebook comments, or blogs), you may come to realize that introverts are actually as funny, sarcastic, and ridiculous as any extrovert.  They simply need the correct medium and comfort level to communicate effectively.

8. Accept her.  Note: more important than any other step.  Introverts need to be accepted.  They have grown up in an extroverted world and have often tried to "pass" for extroverts in order to succeed at school, in business, or in relationships.  There is no greater relief for an introvert than to be loved (like Bridget Jones) just as she is.  Putting up a false front is far more exhausting than any crowded party or loud concert, and most introverts are willing to risk a little emotional exhaustion for those people who truly accept who she is.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Where Do We Go From Here

I'm struggling a lot lately with what I want this blog to be.  When I began it, almost two (two?!) years ago, its purpose was mainly to make sure I was writing weekly and to help me work through a whole world of issues and anger and frustration following my terrible first marriage and subsequent divorce.  It was a place for me to be open and honest about what had happened, to talk about the many and various changes in my life, and to talk about the things that still infuriated me.  I wanted to help others by sharing my story, but I also wanted to help myself.

I don't have those problems anymore.

I mean, I do still get angry.  But it's not like before.  I've moved on as much as I think I'm able to.  I'll probably always be a little bit pissed off over what happened, but I think that's the way it should be.

But I got married again (almost three months ago).  We bought a house.  I'm a stepmother.  I'm (still) ridiculously in love with this man that I've known for fourteen years. I have great friends who (I hope) still love me even though I'm not around very much these days.  I have a wonderful job and am, generally, having a fantastic time.  I'm busy and tired and very much in need of introverting most of the time, but I can't think of very much I'd change.

So that leaves me at a bit of a loss as to what to blog about weekly, now that wedding stress has ended.  General happiness and/or being an introvert isn't that exciting, really.  I don't have a current life goal to keep tabs on (though I probably should).  I have Instagram and Facebook for my daily selfies (and general photo-and-meme sharing).  I don't travel (much).

So what do I do?

I read.

I collect vintage and novelty clothing/accessories (and take selfies).

I knit or crochet or cross-stitch.

I bake and cook (when I can).

I step-parent.

I'm a wannabe 60s housewife.

I'm super nerdy, introverted, and not shy about any of it.

And I know there are blogs about (literally) all of these things.  But it seems impossible to narrow this random little blog into one defined category.  It also seems impractical to blog about everything I enjoy or do.

So I'm at a bit of an impasse.  I don't want to stop blogging, even though each week finds me less and less inspired as to what to write about.  Two years might be the longest amount of time I've managed to actively maintain a blog, after all.  I don't want to break my streak now!  But something needs to change.  I just don't know what.

What would you like to see more of from me?  Less of?  What are you interested in reading about?  What topics and formats do you find most appealing?  I'm clearly at a loss here, so I'm very open to ideas and feedback as to how to keep this blog going and at least fairly interesting.

P.S. Please don't say less selfies.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Powerful Places

I feel like I've been on the go constantly.  So much so that I was literally in the middle of blogging about being busy last week when I had to leave to go somewhere, and never even finished the blog!

We just got back on Sunday from our "honeymoon," which was really just a whirlwind weekend away to Wisconsin Dells and House on the Rock.  A "mini-moon," if you will.  (Which also either sounds like something entirely inappropriate, or a slightly momentous lunar event.)

I've wanted to take Mark there ever since I went with Jessica, Sandi, and Kim several years ago.  I thought it was the most magical place I'd ever been to, and still generally speak of it in a wistful, awed tone of voice.

Plus, we're watching American Gods (omg it's so good) right now, so it only seemed fitting to go (even if they didn't actually get to House on the Rock this season).  We also wanted to go somewhere we haven't been together, and somewhere we didn't know anyone.  Wisconsin fit the bill pretty well.

The thing about us is that was really suck at vacations.

We do.  We actually kindof dread going.  We're overbooked introverts, after all.  We pounce on things like "free time" and "staying home."  So the idea of taking that precious free time, getting in a car, and paying to stay somewhere that's not home?  It's not the most appealing, to be honest.

But, we pry ourselves away from our couch and our comfort zone anyway.  Because, well, adventure is out there, right?

In American Gods, Thursday explains to Shadow that tourist traps are "places of power."  They draw people in, without reason or explanation.  And that's exactly what House on the Rock is.  It's unexplainable, indefinable. My mom has asked me for years what House on the Rock is, and I still don't have a good answer for her. 

It's somewhere between a waking dream and a nightmare.  It's a hallucination.  It's a curated obsession.  It makes absolutely no sense whatsoever. 

And, best of all, it doesn't try to.  There's nothing else in the world like it.  And that's why people go.  That's why we went.  It's why I've been twice, and why I would go again.

It was, in spite of our general trepidation about vacations, a very good trip.  We stayed in a kitschy motel in the Wisconsin Dells complete with a hot tub (and a shower that was probably from the 70s).  We ate at touristy places and did touristy things like take pictures and buy cheese and souvenirs and take an "old-timey" photo.

We spent the whole weekend alone together (which was a huge step up from my first honeymoon that we basically spent with friends) and did exactly as we pleased.

And we returned exhausted and with plans to go back in the future, Kaylee in tow.

Maybe vacations aren't so bad, particularly if you're with the right person.

Just don't expect us to go on another one anytime soon.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

The Angry Vintage Girl (Again)

I've gotten spoiled.  I really have.

Because I know that terrible male behavior exists.

I've experienced it, after all.

But I haven't experienced it much lately.

I blame my amazing group of friends (which includes countless awesome and feminist men).

I blame my introverted nature (which has led me into more and more fully being a homebody).

I blame my husband (who I actually love enough to want to spend my time with, therefore not being out on my own as much).

I blame my job and being a stepmom and our new life as homeowners (which means that we always have something to do and I don't go out as much).

Because it's all combined to make me a little oblivious to the world outside the pleasant and safe bubble I so often live in.

And I admit it, I can be a little oblivious all on my own.  Mark usually has to tell me that I've just been checked out, because I'm so often lost in my own little world.

So you know the situation has to be pretty drastic when I notice male attention directed towards me.

It can be the drunk guy at a wedding who told me I "didn't have to break his heart" when I turned him down for a dance (because, well, I was working the damn wedding, not to mention that I wouldn't want to dance with him anyway).

It can be the slightly too aggressive "compliment" from a stranger.

Or it can be walking through Walmart last Saturday night.

You guys.  It was bad.  I could actually feel the looks.  My skin crawled with them.  I could literally see the male gaze blatantly following me as I walked by.  And I did my best to ignore the guys who kept trying to catch my eye and talk to me when all I wanted to do was to be left alone to do my god damn shopping and get the hell back home.

It was more than annoying.  It was infuriating, so much so that I practically exploded when I got home and Mark asked me what was wrong.  (Kaylee told me I should have gone to Aldi, and the kid probably isn't wrong.)

I love dressing the way I do.  I love wearing vintage clothes.  I love wearing heels.  I love having bright red hair and looking different than most people.

But God, if I don't sometimes wish that I wanted to blend in.

No.  That's not true.

I don't want to blend in.

What I want, what I wish, is that all men could be like my friends, or like my husband.  I wish that all men could pay a compliment without a complementary leer.  I wish I didn't feel like I needed a male escort just to walk through a store without being harassed.  I wish that I didn't feel the need to carry around a TigerLady defense tool just in case I get followed to my car one day, or worse.  I wish that I didn't feel like the way I dress invites the wrong kind of attention.

Because the way I dress is nobody's business but my own.  If I want to wear heels through Walmart, that shouldn't mean that I should expect and accept the intruding stares.  If I want to wear a dress most days, then so what?

I don't know what the solution is, besides playing the long game of hoping that future generations of men will be better, will want to be better.

Because guys.  This is pathetic.

I know it's possible.  I've seen whole communities filled with men who can both enjoy and respect women.  I know that better is possible.

But I also know that worse is out there.

I'm holding out hope for better.  It's the only thing I know how to do.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

No Way Out

It's our two-month anniversary today, or, as Mark says, "Day 61 of the hostage situation."

People have asked me how married life is, and, really?


It's great.

I mean, come on.  I've got a mostly-willing hostage!  What could be wrong with that?

But, in all honesty, I love being married to my best friend.  I love it even on the days where everything feels off, or we have fights, or I cry, or everything goes wrong.  Married life is still, overall, really really great.  But our relationship and our life together was already great before we were married, so that helps.

Little known, shocking fact: marriage doesn't fix a relationship.  I should know.  It didn't fix my first relationship.

And, another shocking fact?  Marriage is work.  Really fucking hard work.  It's not all breakfasts in bed and making out in the kitchen and dinner on the table when you get home from work.

And it's even not the same as dating, even if you were already mostly living together.

Marriage requires daily maintenance.  It requires talking (which I'm not always very good at), and trust, and more vulnerability than you knew was possible.  It means someone is almost always there, for the bad days when you hate the world and everything in it, along with the good days.  You have to consider them, and you want to consider them (even when they tell you not to).

Marriage means you're going to get your feelings hurt, and you're going to find out that you unknowingly hurt theirs.

It means there is someone to willingly do the dishes for you, and someone you willingly rotate laundry for.

For me, it means waking up to coffee.  It means a partner-in-crime.  It means playing just one more game of Minion Trouble (or Chutes and Ladders, or Sorry) with Kaylee so that he can have a few minutes of down time.  It means he gives Kaylee a bath so that I can have a few minutes of down time.  It means someone who knows me better than anyone else possibly could.

It means planning a last-minute birthday party for Kaylee, joint-cleaning the whole house, and cooking dinner for 9 people.

It means eating Fazoli's and Imos on a fairly regular basis, even though I hate both.

It means we go see the new Pirates of the Caribbean movie, because I have an endless love for Johnny Depp.


Two months into our marriage. (Plus fourteen years total of knowing each other.)  At this point of my first marriage, I'm pretty sure I already knew it was not going to be a good one.  He'd already "stopped trying" (key words for failure if there ever were any).  We were both depressed.  I couldn't see a way out, even though I desperately wanted to find one.

I don't want a way out this time.  I want a way to make it last forever.

And I'm doing my best to make sure that it does.