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The Male Mystique.

17 Oct

I don’t get them. Males. Guys. Men. Boys. I admit this openly and plainly.

Scenario #3,056: A guy laughs at your silly jokes. He actually listens to you. He marvels at all the things you have in common. He accompanies you to a movie or two. He visibly enjoys being in your company. He generally makes you feel like the Prime Ministress of Awesome. Your spidey sense pulls at you. You wonder if something is afoot. You get that weird, tingly feeling around him (which is not impending cardiac arrest, apparently). You realize that you look forward to being around him all the time. Quite naturally, then (and it is natural, because this is how women are: you notice something and you want to talk about it), you take a deep breath and decide to approach him about what you’ve noticed, a bit excited about it, hopeful, not ignorant of the signs.

And he shatters it all. 

Hey, I’m sorry if you thought this was something more. We’re just friends. I’m not ready for that. 

Scenario #5,000,001: A guy laughs at your silly jokes. He actually listens to you. He marvels at all the things you have in common. He accompanies you to a movie or two. He visibly enjoys being in your company. He generally makes you feel like the Prime Ministress of Awesome. Your spidey sense pulls at you. You wonder if something is afoot. You get that weird, tingly feeling around him (which is not impending cardiac arrest, apparently). You realize that you look forward to being around him all the time. Quite naturally, then (and it is natural, because this is how women are: you notice something and you want to talk about it), you take a deep breath and decide to approach him about what you’ve noticed, a bit excited about it, hopeful, not ignorant of the signs. However, you decide against approaching him, not wanting to somehow disturb the force, not wanting to ruin whatever this is. You rather hope that as it goes on, he will take the initiative and come to you to discuss what he’s noticed.

And he shatters it all.

Hey, I would love for you to meet my fiance. Are you free this evening?  

Friendly Advice #718: You shouldn’t have said anything. You should have waited for him to come to you.

Friendly Advice #3: You should have said something. You shouldn’t have waited for him to come to you.

Do you see? Isn’t it obvious why I live in utter confusion? How does one muddle through the whole Math class feel of the menfolk and relationships and the whole silliness of platonic and whether to accept that I don’t even have this level of communication or constancy with my closest friend, but I do with you, but we’re just pals, and that makes no sense, and oh, but you do have feelings for me, but how would I have known because you didn’t say anything and oh, ok, you were waiting for the right time, which was a year later, when I’ve grown cobwebs and bitten my entire nail bed from the anxiety of it all, and…and…

When I was in college, I waited until the last minute to fulfill my Math prerequisite. Not for a lack of trying, but none of the classes were working for me and the beauty of college was walking out of class whenever I wanted, which I certainly took advantage of when it came to Math. Nevertheless, if I wanted to graduate, I needed that credit. I went to my advisor, who highly recommended a professor with a long record of helping students like me. I went to his class, convinced that it wouldn’t work, not for someone who had struggled and fought with Math for so long. I had no expectations of passing or getting it. Oh, but it did work. And I did pass. And I did get it. Even better, it was one of the best classes I ever took. Why? I understood what he was teaching, solely because he made sure that his students knew how to get to the answer. Patiently. And that’s how I learn. Everything fell into the place, once I knew how to get there. I passed with an A, by the way, in case you wondered why pigs were flying in 2000.

My point in relating that Mathy blast from the past can be summed up by something a friend once told me: “[Girley], when you find that right person, it won’t be confusing. You won’t have to guess. Everything will fall into place.”

Contingency Plan #1 and Only: until we reach Everything Falling Into Place, I’m intent on taking everything at face value. Whatever it is, it is. (Or will be, will be.) I will ask no questions. I will do no guesswork. I won’t ask random strangers if that twinkle in his eye was meant for me. No phone call, no hanging out, no nothin’, will mean anything until whoever he is tells me exactly how he feels. (That’s right, folks, he has to tell me. May be old-fashioned, but that’s me, unapologetically.) If it’s right, it’s right, and things will fall into place. 

Until then, I can’t allow the Male/Relationship Mystique to make me crazy (well, crazier). I refuse to continue to pull out my hair over these affairs of the heart.

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there’s a footprint on my heart! there’s a FOOTPRINT on my heart!

2 Aug

Because that’s what crushes are, right? In the end, your heart is crushed, dusty from the outline of the shoe that stamped all over it, you’ve eaten your entire daily caloric intake in one meal, and you’re alternating between man-hating tunes from Alanis Morrissette and tear-inducing tunes from every other lady singer. (Here’s to you, Sarah McLachlan, Jewel, Tori Amos, and Joni Mitchell.)

No one can understand love who has not experienced infatuation. And no one can understand infatuation, no matter how many times he has experienced it.
~Mignon McLaughlin, The Neurotic’s Notebook, 1960
 
I thought my first crush was in the fourth grade. He was the spitting image of Michael Jackson, so naturally, I was quickly moony-eyed over the boy. However, my mother believes that my first crush was this guy:
 
 
 
Little Ricky Schroder. (He will always be little Ricky to me, always.) Apparently, as we watched The Champ, my mother says that I walked up to the television and placed my hand right on little Ricky’s televised cheek, stroking it. As far as little Ricky being my first crush, the jury’s out on that one. I may have been trying to comfort little Ricky and his tear-streaked face, being that The Champ arguably has the saddest ending of all time. (Watch it if you dare.) I don’t know if it was a crush then (I was about two years old at the time)…but it became one years later, when this show came out. Sigh…
 

Infatuation Love – a wildly misunderstood although highly desirable malfunction of the heart which weakens the brain, causes eyes to sparkle, cheeks to glow, blood pressure to rise and the lips to pucker.
~Anonymous

From the Michael Jackson look-alike to the thousands that came after, my journey down Infatuation Highway was filled with the usual impossibly long gazes, imagined gazebo weddings, smiles in my direction that propelled me straight to the moon, love letters stuffed in hall lockers (yes, I did that), and so much more. In the end, when reality and heartbreak would invariably finally set in, I would caution myself to never do it again. To let it all go. To stop it. To straighten up and fly right. To open my eyes. To stop essentially breaking my own heart, being that I always knew what the finale would be. To, to, to…until the next crush.

It’s so easy to be infatuated with someone but hard to find that someone who will catch you.
~Anonymous
 
For a long time, however, I did keep to my promise. I was crush-free for a while. It was freeing. It was also utterly boring. So is that it, then? Are crushes a way to keep the old brain occupied? Rather than silence and boredom, do I long for the distraction of a crush? 
 

I know I am but summer to your heart, and not the full four seasons of the year.Edna St. Vincent Millay

Or is it less about boredom and more about that feeling? There may be a footprint on the old aorta in the end, but my goodness, that feeling in the beginning. The giddiness, the butterflies in the belly, the simple sight of that person, the sweetness and craziness of it all—it just feels awesome. After all, it really has nothing to do with the individual, does it? It’s not love. Love is real. Infatuation is celluloid/matinee idols/8 year-old co-stars of The Champ/boys who may be jerks but are super cute/who grow up to be men who may be jerks but are super cute/so on and so emptily forth. But nothing beats that feeling, does it?

Cinderella didn’t love the Prince. She loved that shoe. – Kitten Heel Marvel

So what is it? What motivates me to break my own promises and allow the stars to fall right back into my eyes, when the outcome is pretty much unavoidable? Is it the distraction? The feeling? Footprint on the heart, remember? Infinitely crushed, bloated, angry because of Alanis, crying because of Joni? What is it?

The essence of love begins when infatuation ends. – Anonymous

Hope.

The Difference.

13 May

Where has she been? The Marvel has been so quiet.

Rather than answer, I’ll proceed with today’s post, with the excuse that my life has been a whirlwind of stress and work for the past month and a half or so, and the promise that I’ll do better with writing and updating. For the few eyes that drift over to this side of the world wide web, hello again. Onwards.

The Difference

Back in the day, I used to differentiate between the pals in my life as either friend or aquaintance.

A friend was the die-hard, the always there, the we-have-nicknames-for-each-other, the friend forever, the we talk on the phone several times a week.

An aquaintance was oh, hi, person I haven’t seen in months, how are you?, the we get togther once in a while, the comfortable yet somewhat distant person (and that’s ok with both of us), the casual relationship.

These days, however, I’ve been thinking about that distinction. I’ve had the pleasure of beginning wonderful friendships in the past few months, and it’s gotten my brain going about the difference between types of friends and friendships. I’ve decided that the term “aquaintance” will be retired. It’s the kind of word that makes me queasy. Why? I don’t know. Reminds me of sterile waiting rooms and stomach aches. It’s not a happy word. Because even those casual, distance-y friendships are still friendships.

And so…

The difference will now have to do with italics.

A friend – encouraging, amazing, honest, direct, a bonafide listener, quiet, loud, simply amazing.

A friend – happy to see you when you see each other, easy like Sunday morning, ok with not chatting that regularly but quite adept at chatting when it does happen, wonderful, simply amazing.

Both are similar, aren’t they? Because even though there are varying levels of closeness, a friend is a friend is a friend.

And I’m so grateful for mine. All of them.

you’ll put on your carpet slippers and stride out.

29 Mar

Instead of Terrific Music Tuesday, I wanted to post a poem by Anne Sexton, an amazing poet that I discovered (by way of an awesome poetry professor) in college. Couldn’t get enough of her.  She popped into my mind the other day and I’ve re-discovered her work all over again. This particular piece by her is nothing short of inspiring, especially in light of some significant steps that I’m thinking about taking in my life (and there are much deeper themes at work here, especially the transformative powers of pain, despair, and sorrow):

Courage
It is in the small things we see it.
The child’s first step,
as awesome as an earthquake.
The first time you rode a bike,
wallowing up the sidewalk.
The first spanking when your heart
went on a journey all alone.
When they called you crybaby
or poor or fatty or crazy
and made you into an alien,
you drank their acid
and concealed it.

Later,
if you faced the death of bombs and bullets
you did not do it with a banner,
you did it with only a hat to
cover your heart.
You did not fondle the weakness inside you
though it was there.
Your courage was a small coal
that you kept swallowing.
If your buddy saved you
and died himself in so doing,
then his courage was not courage,
it was love; love as simple as shaving soap.

Later,
if you have endured a great despair,
then you did it alone,
getting a transfusion from the fire,
picking the scabs off your heart,
then wringing it out like a sock.
Next, my kinsman, you powdered your sorrow,
you gave it a back rub
and then you covered it with a blanket
and after it had slept a while
it woke to the wings of the roses
and was transformed.

Later,
when you face old age and its natural conclusion
your courage will still be shown in the little ways,
each spring will be a sword you’ll sharpen,
those you love will live in a fever of love,
and you’ll bargain with the calendar
and at the last moment
when death opens the back door
you’ll put on your carpet slippers
and stride out.

Dhobi Ghat (Mumbai Diaries).

21 Mar

So, a few marvelous ladies and I attended a screening of Dhobi Ghat (Mumbai Diaries), an Indian film that was being shown at the Kennedy Center as part of their monthlong “Maximum India” festival. First off, the following equation (shocker: I’m using Math, of all things, to communicate!): Indian culture + the Kennedy Center + an awesome, intelligent company of women = yummy goodness. I had a wonderful time.

So, wow, wow, wow. Wow. Dhobi Ghat was a powerful, moving film, about four intersecting lives and the different turns each life takes amidst the backdrop of the city of Mumbai. It certainly struck me, for a number of reasons. A few:

Not Your Usual Bollywood. Being a major fan of Bollywood films, this movie was a significant departure from the burst of color and music that comes with that particular genre. In fact, I was struck by the absence of color in the film. Even the costumes of the main characters were muted, gray, dark. Quite honestly, it was reality rendered on screen. And it was refreshing. Interestingly enough, for me, I’ve always been a proponent of film escapism—it’s rare that I enjoy a movie that presents life in its depressing, dreary moments (why seek it out in entertainment when we have those moments in real life? is an argument I’ve used before)—but in this instance, the absence of the music video touch to Mumbai and its people was a welcomed change.

Yasmin Noor. Out of the four main characters in the film, I was, by far, moved by the character of Yasmin Noor. We meet Yasmin through a series of videotaped letters that she makes for her younger brother following her marriage to a man who, during the two times we actually see him, doesn’t utter more than two words to his new wife. From then on, as the film goes on and the character of Arun (who moved into Yasmin’s former apartment and found the tapes) watches these video diaries, we see Yasmin quietly falling apart as a result of her loneliness, acutely missing her family back home, and the sad unraveling of her marriage. It was such an understated and amazing performance by Kriti Malhotra, the actress who plays Yasmin Noor. (At the Q&A after the film, we learned that Malhotra isn’t even an actress by trade and that she had prirmarily worked in the costume department. A natural talent, by all means.) She communicated her emotions so subtly—through a smile here, an expression of longing there, the sad timbre of her voice. So incredibly moving.

Let’s Talk about It. Any film that inspires questions and dialogue—among friends, in our case, or with the number of people that posed questions at the Q&A—is one worthy of consideration. The movie was not without its flaws and imperfections, but it got us talking, and I’m all for that.

compliment, threat, same thing…?

17 Mar

So…

This morning, as I made my way toward the metro escalators, I noticed a woman adjacent to me, also heading for the escalators. Even more notable was the fact that she was looking directly at me, a sort of knowing smile/smirk on her face. At first, I wondered if we knew each other. We didn’t. Nonetheless, as we arrived at the top of the escalators around the same time, she said, “you look pretty today.” I smiled, thanked her, and continued to descend down the stairs.

I was completely rattled.

The following thoughts took over:

  • who was that woman?
  • do i know her? have we had a conversation before on the train?
  • she wants to harvest my kidneys.
  • i’m wearing a huge coat, a scarf, sneakers. i look pretty?
  • i look pretty TODAY? as opposed to the other days when she had seen me?
  • what was with that weird smile?
  • please, please don’t sit next to me on the train.
  • where did she go? she was right behind me and now she’s gone!
  • did I imagine that whole exchange?
  • maybe she thought she knew me…
  • who WAS that woman?

The end. (I refuse to psychoanalyze myself in this instance. I’m accepting my reaction. The woman freaked me out.) 

Signed,

Eternally Paranoid Girley

A Wednesday Miscellaneous Pie. Mmm, pie…

16 Mar

So much on my mind today…

Glee. I try to stay away from anything too Hollywood-y or entertainment-y on this forum (save for a few things, as in Mr. Darcy winning an Oscar and so on), but I’m ascending this particular soapbox for a moment. Forgive me. The following is all opinion. There was a time in the not too distant past when this show kind of made me crazy. After the first episode, my sis and I called each other on the phone and squealed for half an hour. We were those kids in high school. We loved theater, we loved music, we burst into Barbra Streisand while walking home from school. Those initial moments of Glee took us back to the days. It was awesome. I have since purchased about a million dollars worth of Glee music, and it’s all good. However. I don’t even watch it anymore. Why? A sweet, beautiful show about embracing who you are—especially at that tender age when doing that is absolutely necessary—has turned into this weird exercise that proves that believing in your own hype can become a TV show’s downfall. It stopped being fun. It stopped being sweet. It became kind of mean and snarky. I just didn’t enjoy it anymore. So that’s that, Glee. Save for a few visits here and there to catch sights of my current TV crush (I heart you, Matthew Morrison), it’s goodbye.

Old friends. Back in Ghana (where yours truly grew up for the first 8 years of her little life), we had a neighbor named Evelyn. Evelyn was the coolest gal in the entire world to us. She wore cool clothes, she wore cool, colorful bangles, she was tall and gorgeous. We loved her. Even more: Evelyn used to have Madonna dance contests. She would play Madonna songs and have us dance around our complex and whoever won would get chocolates. Cool, or what? It may be why 1) hearing old school Madonna puts the largest, silliest smile on my face, and 2) despite my best intentions, a piece of chocolate will always win me over. Love you, Evelyn, wherever you are…

I Must be a Bear. I hibernate every winter. Specifically, shaving my legs goes into hibernation. I let nature have its way. The problem with that is when spring rears its lovely head and the cold air begins to get warmer, hibernation is over. I buy a whole bunch of extra blades for my Intution razor (love it) and get to work on those crazy legs (I’ve already discussed my issues with hair; I’m Teen Wolf’s older sister, apparently). This time, “work” took so long that the water in the shower turned completely cold. I was in there for close to an hour? Two hours? I think I went through a worm hole. Even the walls were perspiring in the bathroom. You would think, at some point, that I would learn my lesson and shave throughout the year, so as to avoid this insane routine whenever spring comes? A normal person would do that, yes. But I’ve never been normal. My legs are so smooth…and when winter comes again, they won’t be. Can’t force a bear to stop hibernating, can you?

What is it about candy? There was major eye candy on the metro this morning. It was completely insane. I mean, that level of eye candy must be illegal in the tri-state area or something. Someone should have arrested those guys for infiltrating the senses in such a manner. Yiikes…

Can’t Believe it. I love my boss. He is absolutely terrific. It’s a bit incredulous, this feeling. Having been subjected to some of the craziest employers in the past—one of whom seriously had us humming the Flying Monkeys music from “The Wizard of Oz” whenever she was on the warpath—it’s both surprising and refreshing to work with someone so fair and accommodating. Very balanced, my boss. I’m utterly grateful, really. (The job itself, on the other hand, has its moments, which I’ve discussed before. Sigh.)

On that note, I will put the fork down and leave this Miscellaneous Pie for now. Onwards…

BJ & FE SCOTT

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