Girl Talk

I haven’t had a nice, peaceful weekend at home since I moved in, and from the looks of it, I’m not going to get one for another month. Maybe not even. This weekend I go to Mexico, I come back next weekend just in time for Paul’s spring break, which will carry into the following weekend, and the weekend after that I’ll probably go visit him.

This past weekend, I went back home for a haircut. It’s nice and short now, perfect for Mexico. While I wasn’t hanging out at my parents’ house with Duke, I was hanging out at Marion’s. Her parents were gone, so she hosted a wild party complete with Girl Talk and Truth or Dare Jenga.

Girl Talk is the silliest game ever, and we’re pretty sure some of the dares–like calling the operator and asking for the number to the White House–are illegal. The point distribution is also illogical, and we’re pretty sure the zit-sticker adhesive actually can cause zits, especially since at this point it’s probably around 15 years old.

Jenga was wonderful, though. Somehow, I’d never played before, except for maybe one time as a child. Apparently, I caught on quickly, and Marion, Emily, Brett, and I were involved in a very long, intense game that left the tower teetering on a total of six single-block layers. We lasted several rounds longer than I expected and got very nervous during them.

Naturally, alcohol was consumed and secrets were shared and good times were had. Sunday we went to the flea market, where Marion spent $25 on records, which probably got her about 25 records.

Men Only Want One Thing

I was confused when I saw on my Facebook feed on Valentine’s Day a picture of flowers and the caption, “I feel so loved!”

Flowers are great to receive. They are really pretty. I touched on this in my post-Valentine’s post, but again, anyone can go out and by a bouquet. I don’t really consider flowers to be the penultimate sign of love.

And then I thought, “If you have low expectations, maybe it is.”

Combine that with the anger over Chris Brown performing at the Grammy’s (seriously? We’re really going to say, “You horribly beat your girlfriend, but we’re okay with that now”?) and you get me thinking that maybe as women, we’ve been taught that most men are shit and the sooner we accept that the better.

We’re told, “Men only want sex.” We’re called bitches and hoes in plenty of songs and not just rap. We’re objectified and disrespected. Entire sitcoms have been built around the idea that men don’t care about what their wives or girlfriends have to say and engage in all sorts of shenanigans. People–sometimes jokingly, sometimes not–talk about what misery marriage is. My mom’s friends tell me, “No man is perfect. There’s always something wrong.” That’s true of everyone, but still.

People I’m close to hang on to relationships for unknown reasons, some of them putting up with being mistreated. Maybe they think it’s worth it (it’s not). Maybe they think they won’t do better. Even I’m guilty of that thought. Deep down, I know it’s ridiculous and partly rooted in being in love, but I still do have moments of, “I’m never going to find another guy like Paul.” I don’t mean in that kind of lovesick sense but more like, “I”m never going to find a guy that makes me cheesecake for no reason and apologizes when he should but more frequently when he shouldn’t.”

Nice guys do exist. Paul is proof. Even when he screws up, he makes up for it and feels bad. He even gets this kind of heartbreaking look of pain and guilt on his face if something he’s done comes up in conversation, even months later. I tease him about it, but at the same time, it shows he cares, and I like knowing that.

Nice guys finish last because girls are too busy wasting their time on terrible guys because they’ve been taught that nice guys don’t exist.

As much as I complain about girls bragging on Valentine’s Day (which I am also guilty of), every girl should have a guy they can brag about, just not exclusively on Valentine’s Day.

I’ve been having this complex lately where I think my friends don’t like Paul. As the Craig couples go, I feel like we’re at the bottom and everyone else is elevated, aside from Sarah and Nicole. While this can be explained by the distance and his shyness, no one so much as said, “Oh, wow, he makes you cheesecake. That’s really nice.” I know this sounds conceited, but part of me wonders if it’s because he’s the only one doing things like that. To my knowledge, he is.

Post-Valentine Lessons

Terra and I came up with a Facebook Valentine’s Day drinking game. We didn’t actually play and I’ll post the rules one day, but we did spend a lot of time reading and judging Valentine’s Facebook posts. Here’s what insight they led me to.

  • Valentine’s Day isn’t stupid–it’s really stupid.
  • It’s stupid mostly because of girls.
  • Valentine’s Day is almost all about the girls. So many posted pictures of jewelry and flowers and so few mentioned what they did for the men they love. A bit one-sided for a day dedicated to such things.
  • I’ve known this for a while, but ladies need to stop posting pictures of flowers. No, using Hipstamatic or Instagram does not make it better. Unless you have a unique arrangement or some exotic flower, no one cares. Everyone knows what a dozen roses look like. All you’re doing is bragging, just like I’m about to. Oh, you got roses on Valentine’s Day? My boyfriend made me a cheesecake and pizza and bought me Dr. Pepper and Bagel Bites for no reason. He’s done this before. And thus, Valentine’s Day actually turns into girls competing with each other to show off presents and prove that they have a better man than everyone else.
  • Sure, gifts are a nice gesture. They do have a way of making you feel love. But  roses, when you think about it, are kind of cliched. Unoriginal. Generic. Why do you feel so loved by something every man since the dawn of time has done? Any schmuck can buy a bouquet of roses. Show me something more impressive, like, I don’t know, the point above. Or the fact that Scott made Terra two cakes shaped like her pets when he proposed.
  • If I’m ever proposed to on Valentine’s Day (Paul knows better) I have to reject on principle.
  • That said, promise rings are 100% acceptable, but this isn’t all about why I actually don’t think promise rings are stupid.
  • Calling Valentine’s Day “Singles Awareness Day” is equally stupid. Those couples that you hate and are so jealous of because they’re so in love are likely still going to be in love on February 15 and for some time after that. We’re surrounded by couples all the time. What about weddings? Facebook displays of affection? Christmas and New Year’s? You’re likely to see a couple in just about any place you go at any time of year. So what if they get the most attention on Valentine’s Day? That doesn’t change anything.
  • Single people, stop hating on couples on Valentine’s Day. It’s not their fault that you’re single. In fact, it may not even be your fault you’re single. And when you do find someone, supposing you even want to find someone, you’ll want to flaunt it and be as cute as all those couples you hate, even if you don’t want to admit it. If you want to be mad at someone, be mad at commercialism, materialism, and the candy, jewelry, and greeting-card industries. They’re the ones really pushing this every year.
  • I’m in the minority of women. Men agree with me, but a lot of women are really into this business. And because I’m such a cynic, people probably hate me. So I’ve got that and being in a relationship and an almost homemade cheesecake working against me. BRING IT, LADIES.

Be Mine

Yeah, I’m one of those killjoys that hates Valentine’s Day.

You’ve heard all the reasons before.

I do love the story of St. Valentine. It’s not only romantic but also quite badass. I mean, the dude performed secret weddings when he wasn’t supposed to and kept on doing it until they killed him. That takes a lot.

The problem is Valentine’s Day has turned into a commercialized, materialistic joke. The same argument is made of Christmas, but at least everyone knows why Christmas is celebrated. Few people know anything about the story of St. Valentine. Plus Christmas still commemorates something. Valentine’s Day doesn’t, at least not anymore. It’s a day dedicated to doing something that you should do every day, kind of like Mother’s Day and Father’s Day.

My mom once said to me, probably when I was in high school, “You’ll like Valentine’s Day when you have a boyfriend.”

This is my second Valentine’s Day in a relationship, and with the same man. And I’d say that this time, it’s probably quite a bit more serious than it was a year ago. And I still think it’s a stupid day.

I went to State College over the weekend to be with Paul, just because in a long-distance relationship, I do what I gotta do. Prior to that, we hadn’t seen each other since just after New Year’s. That’s more than a month without so much as being in the same room. Some do have it worse, I know, but it still sucks and I will not let someone who sees their significant other less frequently invalidate my feelings of longing for and missing him. That’s not fair to me, dicks.

We had a lovely weekend of lounging and dinners and drinks and cuddling and laughing and talking and being silly and everything else we miss about being together. Skype may be an excellent communication resource for many reasons, but it can’t give you all of that.

We exchanged lots of kisses and “I love you”s. He made me cheesecake and stocked up on Dr. Pepper and Bagel Bites, my favorites. This was totally unnecessary, which he knows, but trying to tell that man not to do such outlandish things is like telling me to stop existing. He did it not because of Valentine’s Day, but because I was visiting and he loves me and he loves spoiling me. This is the third or fourth cheesecake he’s ever made me, and only one was actually for a special occasion — my birthday.

I don’t expect cheesecakes all the time, but I do believe that similar acts and expressions of love should be done year round, not just on Valentine’s Day or any other holiday, for that matter. I’m not saying regularly — that would kind of cheapen it, and who wants to make cheesecake every weekend? Just every so often.

Little things are simultaneously everything and nothing. They can mean a lot, and they can mean a lot year round. Why wait for Valentine’s Day? Do and say cute things whenever you want. Let’s remember that righteous dude St. Valentine but without the hype.

I Moved!

After lusting after moving out of my parents’ house since I was about 15, I have finally gotten out.

I’m up on Mt. Washington, despite doubts and concerns.

So far, so good. I feel quite adult. I’m also super excited about having tons of my own food that isn’t likely to be eaten by anyone else, although once I open up the cheesecakes from Paul to the public, it may not last.

I have a nice, big bedroom to myself with my own heat and cable and have the house almost entirely to myself during the day, although that will change if I request a shift change. Said shift change won’t allow me to sleep all day, but it will allow me more of a social life, normal schedule, and time with Paul when he comes home and then graduates at the end of summer.

This is kind of a nice middle step for me. Not relying on my parents and being almost completely self-sufficient yet not being completely alone or even with a significant other. My godmother is displeased that I’m living with three college students, but I think it’s an excellent start. I can get a feel for grown-up life that’s a step further than college dorm life was without being thrown into the world of bills and killing my own spiders all at once.

Now, if I could just finish unpacking…

Love & Weakness

I remember what being single was like. I remember wondering who I’d fall in love with, who would fall in love with me, and what love felt like. I wasn’t just curious, though–I experienced extreme longing.

I sympathize with girls all over my Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr feeling the same things. Not necessarily when they’re teenage girls, but that’s another post for another day.

I’ve found a lot of cliches about love to be true, like the idea of completion/wholeness with a significant other, the better half, etc. I could live without a significant other. The point is to find someone you don’t want to live without.

Lots of strong, independent women go on and on about how society teaches us we need another person to be happy. They do have a point. I can and did achieve happiness without Paul, but love is so much more than being made happy by another person. In fact, that person can and will be a source of great unhappiness at times. Happiness is a big part, but let’s not forget putting someone ahead of yourself, caring for them more than anyone and anything, and wanting them to be just as happy as you are.

Lots of strong, independent women go on and on about how to want love is to be weak.

Really, though, love itself is one of the greatest displays of strength we have.

Loving someone means you’re giving them the power to hurt you more than anyone else in this world. Love means vulnerability and trust. Love means being willing to make sacrifices for the well-being and happiness of someone else. Love means working hard, overcoming challenges, and fighting obstacles if you want to keep that love.

Love isn’t weak at all. Love is incredibly strong.

Birth Control and the Men Who Hate It Pt. 2

Obama wants to make birth control free. Party on, I say!

The Catholic church and conservative Republicans disagree.

Look, I get it. Birth control is bad because pregnancy should only be prevented via abstinence or natural planning methods. A baby should be God’s will. Because women on birth control are irresponsible hussies who just don’t want to keep their legs closed.

Everyone is entitled to their opinions, and the church has been known to exert control over its members since its creation. I get why they don’t want to comply with insurance having to provide birth control for free, but that doesn’t make it right.

Side note: If I worked for a Catholic organization and had to abide by all their crazy rules, I’d never make it. They’d have me out of there within hours. I’d probably accidentally call birth control “baby stoppers” in front of the Pope.

The women are going to use the pills whether the church likes it or not. Yeah, some women will be more inclined to if they can get them for free, but in the grand scheme of things, is that so bad?

This is also why my insurance company not covering my birth control doesn’t make sense to me. I have it easy compared to others–$35 for a pack of pills. I have a nice, sympathetic gynecologist who gave me three free sample packs when he asked if my insurance was covering it. Some women don’t have that. The insurance companies and religious institutions are faced with two options–be okay with contraception or deal with what happens with a pregnancy.

For insurance companies, this translates to money. You can either just let me have my $25 copay, fully cover the pills, or possibly pay for a whole damn baby. Prenatal care, delivery, and everything else, like having that kid on my insurance for 18+ years. Are you really sending the message that you’d rather pay for all of that than a little pack of pills? That’s not even logical, especially from a business perspective.

As for the church, I always liked my mom’s thinking–it’s a greater sin to bring a child into this world that you cannot provide for than it is to prevent a child from being conceived. Besides, if God really wants that baby there, he’ll put it there. Not to mention that an unplanned pregnancy brings up the biggest problem of all–abortion. So, as an institution, your options are be okay with a little pack of pills or potentially have abortions, abandoned children, unwanted children, and children that can’t be adequately be cared for. Would it be so bad to relent on the birth control issue? Does it really make a huge difference if I take a little pill once a day or monitor my temperature and mucus production?

Oh, wait. Not all women use birth control for pregnancy prevention. Hmm. You mean the religious groups are getting all worked up and ignoring numerous health benefits of birth control?

Being on birth control made my cramps and other related physical pains significantly decrease. By now, they’re almost gone. This has made me happier and more productive. Imagine if I had to call off work once a month due to feeling like my uterus was trying to beat me up.

I bleed astoundingly less, which means no iron deficiency.

And then there’s the fact that it can also prevent cancer and lots of other things I can’t remember without getting my handy massive page of information that comes with every pack.

So basically, all for the sake of hypothetical babies, the church is dicking women over. Again.

On Contraception and People Who Hate It

As a product of Catholic school, I can say very few pretty awesome priests exist. Father Bob, who calls himself “the punk priest,” is an exception with his spiked hair, band t-shirts, and goatee. As priests go, he’s quite young. He’s also very smart and knows how to connect with teenagers, which makes his role in my former high school perfect.

Sometimes he engages in political discussions. Catholics have a penchant for being super conservative and irrational, but Father Bob understands the complexities of the issues and the people involved in them, and he’s sympathetic.

Insanity erupted on his Facebook yesterday on the topic of abortion, and I was struck most by a man who said premarital sex is irresponsible and those who engage in it are careless and just kill the babies that result from it.

The political climate right now is one that’s hostile towards women, and I don’t mean necessarily the abortion issue. I understand and agree with on a personal level nearly all of the arguments against abortion, but things are getting to the point that it feels like this has become more about attacking and judging women that it has protecting unborn babies. I’ve been aware of that for quite some time.

As a woman, the careless things being said by men and the judgments being passed on women for even just having sex or using birth control are disrespectful, offensive, and hurtful.

Unprotected sex for those not wishing to get pregnant is irresponsible, but engaging in premarital sex at all does not make me irresponsible. I’m fully aware of what I’m doing and what could happen, and I take preventative measures. Ironically, the irresponsibility frequently comes from conservatives with the idea that presenting contraception encourages sex. I’ve known what birth control and condoms did since I was in my early teens, if not earlier. In fact, when I was probably 14 or 15, my mom flat out said, “If you ever even consider having sex, just tell me and I’ll get you on birth control.”

I didn’t request the gynie visit and birth control. I didn’t run out and start having sex. I lost my virginity at 21, which is quite late in this day and age.

I was what my mom calls a “surprise.” I do think my parents made irresponsible decisions. I don’t think my mother making sure I was aware of preventative measures was one of them. She was given the abstinence-only talks. They failed, just like they’ve failed with countless others before and after her.

I resent all of the generalizations made about sex and contraception. I resent being told that by having sex, regardless of my birth control and condoms, I’m being irresponsible. I resent that MEN who do not know me and can cut and run in the face of pregnancy are telling me what I should and should not be doing, especially when men are saying that some forms of birth control are terrible and should be banned.

I’ve only been on birth control for a few months. I didn’t get on it solely because I wanted to just bang to my heart’s content and be totally irresponsible. As freaked out as I was by the thought of going to a gynecologist, I reached a breaking point where I couldn’t take my periods anymore.

I’m kind of a small girl. I’m 5’4″. I probably weigh somewhere around 120 pounds. But my periods were these monstrosities that gave me leg cramps, lower back pain, cramps in my abdomen that could keep me bedridden with Midol and heating pads with the occasional hot bath, typical PMS, and really heavy bleeding. I was changing tampons about every three hours. I hadn’t always used tampons, so I didn’t realize just how bad it was.

This was pretty much interfering with my life. In June, I went with my cousins and a friend to see Robyn in Ohio — a three to four hour drive. My period struck. I had to pack tons of tampons. I was actually doing calculations to see how long one tampon would last me if I put it in right before we left, but that also meant I’d need to change it as soon as I found a bathroom plus another change probably around the end of the concert and another when we got back.

I said, “Fuck this” after the concert, went to the gynecologist, got blood tests done thanks to a blood clot my mom had, and was waiting to get on it by the time I started my job in August. Luckily I only had to suffer through one rough period while working eight hours a day.

Now I have minimal pain anywhere and bleeding so light that it’s practically nothing.

When I was packing to move to Pittsburgh, I came across my arsenal of pads and tampons. My mom and brother both said there was no way I needed that many, and my mom said it was like I’m a hoarder. I said just several months ago, I absolutely would’ve needed them. In fact, that’s why I have so many–I had to completely stock up. I might gift a lot of it to someone who actually needs it.

Birth control is irresponsible, you say? Then you can deal with me when I’m off of it. You can buy heating pads, fill my hot water bottle, buy both extended relief and nighttime Midol, by tampons in every size about once a month or so, and buy pads for when the tampons inevitably run out mid-period.

Vegetarians Can't Win

I’ve been a vegetarian since I was 14, I think. I don’t even remember at this point. If my calculations are accurate, that means right about this time of year makes it eight years since I stopped eating meat and fish, with some exceptions when there was nothing else available. Or when I accidentally ate chicken the other night because Nolan and Brett’s panini got switched with mine and none of us noticed.

I didn’t make a big deal of it. What’s the point? Besides, I might have to give up the veg in Mexico or at least go back to seafood because I don’t foresee many vegetarian options being available to me there, but we’ll see. When I announced this, they took “I might have to give it up” for “I want to give it up because I’ll be missing out if I don’t eat meat in Mexico.” I never got a chance to clarify, partly because it turned into a game of Peer Pressure the Vegetarian Into Eating Meat.

“Even Regina thinks you should give it up,” Brett said.

Guess what? As much as I love my aunt, I don’t give a shit what she thinks I should or should not eat.

No matter how many times I hear this or similar sentiments, I never get used to it. I can never take it in stride without getting pissed off. I didn’t have an opportunity to defend myself and tell them to shut up, but I know I’ll snap next time. And the catch is I’ll be the one looking like a bitch for standing up for myself.

When they order meat, which is basically all the time, I don’t sit there and say, “Why do you eat that? You should really stop” and launch into a tirade about the slaughter of animals and the health benefits of vegetarianism. Why? Because it’s not my business. What someone eats is their business. Some people don’t care about the animals. That’s fine. That’s their prerogative. If they want the information, they know where to get it. I’ll sit and remain respectful of their decisions. My decisions deserve the same respect. There is a slight chance that they don’t see hassling me as disrespectful, but whatever. That doesn’t mean I should and will put up with it.

Surely the vegans are more sympathetic. Not usually.

I’ve encountered many vegans that act like by not eating meat or by opposing using animals for anything ever they’re saving the world.

About a week before Christmas, Terra, Paul, and I went with her mom and a friend to see a Christmas light display. The friend was a vegan. We all talked about being judged for our dietary choices and how amazing it is that people care so much about what you eat when it’s not their business.

The next day, she posted a blog that included the phrase, “I’m vegan. I don’t want to hear that you’re a vegetarian,” as if vegetarians aren’t doing enough or aren’t good enough. The post also includes criticisms of the place’s use of live animals, despite the fact that the animals appeared well cared for. Any use of “animals for entertainment” was condemned.

You’d think someone who can relate to being criticized for their dietary choices would be more sympathetic. Congratulations, pompous vegans, for turning me off of the lifestyle.