Not That Kind Of Girl: A Review (Or Musings? Or Something…)

I just read Lena Dunham’s new novel Not That Kind Of Girl.

It.  Was.  Amazing.

I first discovered Lena Dunham back when most of us did – the premiere of Girls on HBO.  The show was brilliant.  Hilarious, smart, and the perfect portrayal of life as a 20-something woman.  How useless we can be.  How confusing the whole thing is.  How insecure we are.  (Shit, I just realized that I’m no longer a 20-something woman so the tense in all that is wrong.  Oh well.  Also maybe I need to have it all figured out at this point?  Double shit.)  The New York Times has this to day about LD:

She is perhaps to the millennials what J. D. Salinger was to the post-World War II generation and Woody Allen was to the baby boomers: a singular voice who spoke as an outsider and, in so doing, became the ultimate insider.  (Read more here.)

That’s a pretty big statement and I’m not going to go so far as to say that I agree with it.  I will say that, for me, LD seems to voice my weirdest, most secret thoughts about life as a young (ish) woman.

Lena Dunham was the first normal, non-perfect female body that I ever saw on TV.  And she is naked on TV A Lot.  It was refreshing to see someone normal, in the nude, on HBO.  I was fascinated.

The sex on the show was raw and normal and not nearly so pretty as we are normally led to believe that sex should be.

The Girls were screwy, funny and lived in crappy little apartments, with crappy thrift store clothing.  They portrayed accurately an age that is so often glossed over.

Even as a married suburban woman I could relate to the show.  I looked forward to each episode.  As a single woman I enjoy it even more.  C and I texted each other constantly through the first season saying: “OMG – did you just see that?!” again and again.  We laughed ourselves sick on our weekly walk, rehashing the events of the previous night.

The episode where Hannah removes and exchanges shirts with the man in the club and spends the rest of the night running all over New York in a lime green mesh tank, boobs exposed to the world, doing coke off of bathroom toilets?  One of the best, most honest things that I have ever seen.  If my life had taken just a slightly different turn that could have been me.  (Minus the coke.  Boobs on display in a lime green tank?  Totally possible.  When I was younger and less wise.)

I was excited when LD had her book published in September but, what with one thing and another, I didn’t get around to reading it until this past week.

I devoured it.

I read it, highlighting passages madly on my e-Reader.  In the end I have 36 highlighted sections.  I’m sure that I could write a post on why each of those passages resonated with me.  I’ll just share a few…

On being young…

“I couldn’t escape the feeling that I had experiences to gain, things to learn.”

Isn’t this a hallmark of the 20s?  That you are trying to figure it out, try things, try yourself and your abilities?  I didn’t do this in the traditional way.  I didn’t sleep around, or travel, or have a crazy college experience.  But I did do this.  Especially this past year, I have gained so many experiences, learned how strong I really am, how strong my family really is.  Experience is how we become who we are meant to be.  I’ve learned that I don’t need to seek experiences out – If I am an active participant in my life they will occur and I will grow and learn and it will be wonderful even when it is completely horrific.

On relationships…

“When someone shows you how little you mean to them and you keep coming back for more, before you know it you start to mean less to yourself.”

It took me too long to learn this.  It took me too long to realize that I was worth more.  It took me too long to realize that you become less when you accept less.  

“The flirting consisted of him questioning my general intelligence and noting my lack of spatial awareness and then winking to let me know it was all in good fun.”

This casual form of belittlement that is so common and yet so damaging.  Do men realize that it cuts to the core?  The men I know who are good husbands, fathers and boyfriends, they do not do this.  Why then is it so common?  Where do you find these guys who aren’t like this?  

“Because he told me my body was beautiful, like a Renaissance painting, something I badly needed to hear.”

Even now, (especially now?), I feel shock (then melt) when a man loves my face, hair, or body.  It is so unexpected for me.  It is such a deep seeded insecurity.  I’m getting over it.  

“And one day you’ll get out of bed to pee, and someone will say, ‘I hate it when you leave’, and you will want to rush back.  You’ll think, Stuff like this only happens to characters played by Jennifer Garner, right? but it’s happening to you and it keeps happening even when you cry or misbehave or show him how terrible you are at planning festive group outings.  He seems to be there without reservation.  He pays attention.  He listens.  He seems to want to stay”

My cousin posted this passage on her instagram the other day and when I came to it I highlighted it also.  What a beautiful sentiment.  What a beautiful thing to find.  What a rare thing to find.  I don’t want to fall apart (ever)  but it is inevitable.  To find someone you can fall apart with every now and then and know that it’s okay to do so?  Trust me.  This isn’t the norm.  

On life as a woman…

“I have been envious of male characteristics, if not the men themselves.  I’m jealous of the ease with which they seem to inhabit their professional pursuits: the lack of apologizing, of bending over backward to make sure the people around them are comfortable with what they’re trying to do.  The fact that they are so often free of the people-pleasing instincts that I have considered to be a curse of my female existence”

This is me to a T.  It makes professional life difficult.  Men inhabit their bodies, careers, lives with a casual confidence.  They own the world and even if they don’t they act as if they do.  Women apologize and people-please their way up the ladder.  It’s exhausting.  It’s silly.  It holds us back.  Why are we programmed this way?  How do we change it?

“Over time my belief in many things has wavered: marriage, the afterlife, Woody Allen.  But never motherhood.  It’s for me.  I just know it”

The one thing I know for sure is that I want to have children.  That that is what I am built for.  It’s not all that I will be… but it’s an important part.  I can’t picture a future that doesn’t involve children.  

“And there I am, drunk on a spring night, yanking my tampon out and hurling it into a bush outside the church”

I want to be this honest in my writing.  I don’t think that I ever will be.  Also this passage made me laugh and I could picture the scenario so perfectly in my mind and I could sympathize with her so strongly.  Let’s be honest ladies… who hasn’t been there in some way or another?

I don’t know who I would recommend this book to.  It would drive my Mother crazy.  Dad, I think you’d get a kick out of it.  Anyone who is my age and needs to know that you aren’t alone in having no idea how to do life as a “grown-up”?  If you need to know that screwing up isn’t abnormal?  Try it.

Honestly, I know how to do life as a grown up.  I know how to pay bills and a mortgage, maintain a home, cook Christmas dinner.  I could have kids and I’d be able to keep them alive and care for them emotionally and stuff.  I don’t have everything that I want yet but I know I’ll get it.  I’m past the point of wanting for the material and am focused on partnership and family and contentment and happiness.

Lena Dunham’s book, her experiences, her life… they felt so similar to my own.  And yet we have had a completely opposite experience in our 20s.  I felt like it was a strong portrayal of the mind of a (white, middle class) millennial woman.

I recommend it to anyone who wants to see inside that mind.

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I Lost A Human Being Recently…

I lost a human being recently.

Actually, if I’m honest, I’ve lost many human beings recently.  Men, who seemed so promising, simply stopped calling (again and again this has happened: I try not to take it personally).  “Friends” who I lost custody of in the divorce (it might make me a terrible person but I miss very few of them and if you know why you understand).  A husband (again, not missed, again that makes me sound like a terrible person).

But the most alarming loss of all has been that of my hairdresser.

I have lost my hairdresser.

Stella called me a few months ago to let me know that she was leaving the spa where I’ve been seeing her for over a decade.  She told me the name of the new salon, the location, the phone number.  I wrote it all down, vowing to follow the woman who has been cutting my hair for over a decade.

And then I lost the piece of paper.

I.  Lost.  The.  Piece.  Of.  Paper.

It’s probably only women who can understand the horror of this situation.  If you are a man I’ve probably already lost you.  Let me try to explain the situation…

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Stella has been cutting my hair for 10 years.  She knows me.  I’ve seen her through 2 pregnancies (hers), a wedding (mine), a divorce (also mine), extreme renovations (both).  Realistically I have had 30-40 visits with this woman over the past 10 years.  That’s more then I see some of my closest friends.

The day of my wedding Stella called at 6:30 am to tell me that her husband had been in an accident the night before and that she had been in the ER overnight.  She had to get back there.  She had a toddler and a new baby at home.  She had opened the spa at 6:30 in the morning so that she could do my hair.  I jumped out of bed and rushed in where she had breakfast waiting.  My marriage might not have worked out… but my hair?  My  hair look freaking amazing that day.  It took my sister 2 hours and an entire bottle of conditioner to take it apart the next night.

Stella understands my ambivalence towards my hair.  She understands that the idea of putting products into it grosses me out.  She understands that I will leave the house without drying it, styling it, (often without even brushing it).  She knows not to suggest highlights or lowlights or whatever the hell women do to their hair.  She knows that I love my hair but I refuse to do anything to it.  It is its own entity and can do what it will.

I spent the past couple of afternoons calling all of the salons in the Walnut Grove area asking if they had a stylist named Stella.  No one did.

I’ve been avoiding this decision, but this afternoon, staring at myself in the mirror of the staff bathroom, I realized that I had left it too long.  The end of my hair are scraggly, split, and sticking out at odd angles.  I cannot wait to find Stella.  I have to let her go.

I need a haircut.

So with great trepidation I went on Yelp and found a recommended hair salon a block from my home.  I booked an appointment for after work on Friday.

For the first time in 10 years someone new is going to cut my hair.

This is extra risky because I have a date on Friday night.  (So, J, if you are reading this… I apologize in advance if I show up looking like a 60-year-old teacher with the traditional blonde bob.  Or a teenager who cut her own hair because she was mad at her Mom.  Or… possibilities are horrific and endless.  I’ll try not to cry over a bad hair cut at dinner.)  😉

I have been dreaming lately of braids.  Buns piled high on my head.  Curls.  Handfuls of hair that I can play with and mold and enjoy.  It’s girly but I can’t wait to have my hair long again.  So the new stylist will be threatened, on pain of death, about cutting off too much.  (In reality my version of threatening people is to shyly ask that they please don’t cut off too much, watch as too much gets cut off, and then go home and cry about it.)

I can’t believe that I lost another human being.  I really need to stop being so damned careless.

Pray for my hair y’all.

The Two Pieces Of ME.

Sometimes I feel like I take up too much space.  Not in a body image, “I’m too fat”, way.  I just mean that I feel like my existence is too obtrusive.  As if my role is to be small and cute and sweet and funny and nothing more.

More often I am expansive.  Loud and outgoing, I am in my element when there is a project that I can take charge of, a crowd to speak in front of, someone who needs my help.

It can be difficult to reconcile these sides of my personality.  That shy girl with the take charge woman.  They are equally important, equally precious, equally me.

I came across this poem a year ago and it has stuck with me ever since.

Perhaps you hate spoken word, and it’s okay if you do.  But this poem resonates with me.  I want to cheer with the audience, I want to be this woman who identified clearly with her words something that is deep seeded inside of me.

Let’s be crystal clear here.  My mother is not the shrinking woman.  Her house is not growing larger around her.  The women in my life are vibrant, and strong, and unapologetic for their existence.

And yet this poem resonates.

I have been taught accommodation…

I have been taught to filter…

I have been taught to grow in…

I learned to absorb…

Deciding… how much space she deserves to occupy.

For me let’s replace the phrase “I have been taught” with “I was born”.

This need to become smaller, to minimize my very self is something that I was born with.  It is not something that I was taught.  It is something that is, and always has been, within me.

I remember how frustrated my parents used to get with the way that I said “I’m sorry” at the start of every sentence.  They begged me to stop, unable to understand why I felt this innate need to apologize for my very existence.

My first kiss?  I apologized to the boy the moment that he pulled his face away from mine.  He asked why I was sorry.

I didn’t know.

I  still don’t.

I am the blonde-haired, blue-eyed, pink-lipped girl.  I am pretty, and pleasing, and here to charm.  (I apologize if my weight offends you, I’ll try to make that right so I’m a more pleasant ornament.)

I am the loud-mouthed, bossy, lets-get-it-done woman.  I will pull you onto the dance floor, tell you what I think, take charge of the situation.  (Go ahead, call me a bitch, I’ll consider it a compliment.)

I wouldn’t want to be one, or the other, piece of me entirely.

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I don’t want to be a princess.  (Though I wouldn’t mind the occasional excuse to wear a crinoline.)  But sometimes I need to be delicate, and fragile, and that’s okay too.

I’m trying to stop apologizing for my existence, for taking up some space on this planet.  I’m trying to stop accommodating that which is unacceptable.  I’m growing out, not in, and it might take up some room.  I’ll try to keep my inherited army-drill-sergeant voice down.  It’s rarely going to work.

The girl irritates the hell out of me.  She irritates the hell out of my family and friends.  But she’s as much a piece of me as anything else and I’m trying to be kind and patient with her.

We all have these pieces of ourselves – some that we like more than others.  We need to accept them, to reconcile with them, to recognize those pieces that are necessities and those that we can let go.

The take-charge woman gets worn out sometimes.  She wants a break.  She wants to cede control to those that she can trust and become that girl for a little bit.  It allows her to recharge, to gain perspective, to remember that she doesn’t have to do it all alone.  (Even though, really, she does.)

Don’t take advantage of the girl.  Because the woman will resurface.  And she will kick your ass.

Is It Time For An Invisible Boyfriend?!

My cousin sent me something kind of amazing this afternoon.  Seriously.

Click here to read something that will make you go… WTF?!

If you don’t have the time or desire to read it I’ll summarize.  The articles talks about a new app that will create a virtual boyfriend (or girlfriend) for you.  For a fee of $24.99 you will receive photos of the two of you together, 100 text messages, 10 voice mails and 1 handwritten note.  You can even have a real-time text conversation with your “boyfriend” in front of your colleagues.  Keep in mind… this is an app.  As in, not real.  As in, the “boyfriend” is some computer program spewing love at you.

For $24.99.

I… I… can’t even.

Honestly, where to begin?  I guess that this is as good a starting point as any…

It’s all the security of a partner, without the time-consuming dates or complication.

What?!

Isn’t the security of a partner in their arms, their kiss, their phone calls and their support?  Since when is it in texts or voice mails or 1 handwritten note?!

If you find dating time-consuming or having someone in your life too complicated (it’s never going to be simple) you should probably just be okay with being alone.

I.  Don’t.  Understand.

I’m also so curious that I’ve spent the past hour trying to justify spending $24.99 just to try it.  I want an invisible boyfriend too if that’s what all the cool kids are doing!  🙂

(Can I just note here that if someone had told me about their invisible boyfriend prior to this I would have assumed that they were talking about a VERY different kind of arrangement?)

I have come up with a few valid reasons to have one of these.

  • If you aren’t close with your family and you are tired of being asked if you’ve met someone yet.  (And you are okay with lying to them.)  
  • If you are sick of random men hitting on you.  (“Teehee, my boyfriend just keeps texting me, isn’t he cute?!”)
  • If you are really lonely and just want to feel some love.  (This makes me very very sad.)

Being a single woman isn’t always fun.  I have had men tap my ring finger and ask “so what’s going on here?”.  I have had inappropriate boob/bum grazes.  I have been asked by the parents and grandparents of my students “why a girl like (me) isn’t married?”.  (Serious, unforgivable personality deficiencies and body odor is my preferred answer.)  I can see why, at these moments, it might be nice to say that my boyfriend just sent me a text.

My invisi-boyfriend.

I’ll leave you with the wisdom of Lena Dunham:

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All for the low low price of $24.99?

A Non-Unicorn Crazy-Girl Kind Of Day.

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I’m a big old grouch today.  Ask my Mom.  I just whined through an entire conversation with her.

I’m trying to be positive, bubbly, happy-go-lucky as much as possible because I like myself better that way.  No purpose is served by being negative.  But today I’m tired, school was a disaster, I’m stressed and I just want to be a grouch.

  • I slept funny last night and have a giant kink in my back.
  • I have no food in the house and I already took off my bra so I’m NOT going grocery shopping.
  • I started packing for my weekend away and realized that I’m out of pantyhose.
  • I need a roommate or a second job to be fiscally comfortable.
  • I hate that I work full time and make decent money and still need a roommate or second job.
  • I don’t want a roommate.
  • I just ran out of laundry detergent.
  • I miss my sister.
  • I haven’t been able to get warm for two days and my hands are solid ice blocks.

The list could go on.

I’m not usually stressed about these things.  I love my job and the occasional crazy day is just an accepted part of it.  I have can have toast and scrambled eggs for dinner.  I can pick up pantyhose on the way home tomorrow.  I am financially fine even if I am not going to be going on any nice holidays anytime soon.  I’ll get the laundry detergent when I get the pantyhose.  I can have a bath and warm up my hands (if only for a few minutes).

All of these “problems” are totally silly and totally first world.  I’m fully aware.  But telling myself this just makes me grumpier.

My skin is crawling, I’m feeling a little nuts, and I just want to have a good cry.  Crazy-girl-syndrome much?  (I swear that I’m not often like this!!!).

I have a wonderful home.  I have food.  I have family and friends.  I know that I have it better than many, many, many people on the planet.

Regardless.  I’m a grouch at the moment and I’m not sure how to fix it.  I’m sure I’ll wake up on the right side of the bed tomorrow morning.

In the meantime: what do you do to cure a bad mood???

My Self Esteem’s Not Low Enough…

I thought I’d share another Garfunkel and Oates video with you all.

I love these women.  They are smart and funny and their observations on life as a single woman tend to be spot on (to someone with my sick sense of humour anyways).

This song is brilliant.

I think that if it was 10 years ago and I was my 20-year-old self out there and dating… I’d be struggling.  I worry about that girl with the low self-esteem and wonder if she would have made smart decisions.  At 30 my self-esteem’s not low enough.

Posting this video isn’t based on any recent experiences, haha, though I did find many guys on Tinder who were looking for just this arrangement.  I wished them luck and sent them on their way.

I was really naive coming out of a 12 year relationship and into the dating world.  I apologize to all my friends who were dating and tried to talk to me about it – I totally didn’t understand!

I didn’t know that calls like the one above were the norm.  I didn’t believe that men would send me pictures of their… you know… as soon as they got my number.  (I’ve had more than one good dinner ruined by dick-pic induced nausea).  I didn’t understand that the guy who telephone stalked me for a few months would still be texting me at random times almost 6 months later.  (My skin crawls just thinking about him!!!).  It never occurred to me that I would be propositioned for sex several times a week and then called a “stuck-up bitch” by these same men when I don’t reply.

Regardless I truly believe the following:

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I’m sure that the dick-pic guys will find girls who aren’t turned off their dinner.  That creepy stalker-boy will find a girl who loves being called several times each night.  That the sexual propositions will find enthusiastic takers.

Or they’ll all end up alone and that’s okay too.

Only one question left…

I wonder what weirdness I bring to the table???

It Feels Like Home…

I had a great morning.  I got up at a reasonable time (for a Saturday) and headed out to my favourite diner for breakfast.  I had had a hot shower so I walked down in just a t-shirt and jeans, sweater and book tucked under my arm.  It started to rain so I was soaked and my skin was nicely chilled by the time I arrived.  I don’t know why but I love the feeling of chilly skin.

(It’s no wonder it’s taking my lungs so long to recover from my recent flu.  My daily walk is currently leaving me gasping… got to love childhood asthma that never went away, blargh!).  

To put it simply: it was a good morning.  I didn’t have to order at the diner because they already knew what I wanted.  I had a long chat with the elderly couple sitting next to me about the weather, how busy the diner was, and why a “girl like me” is eating breakfast alone.  (LOL!).  I bought flowers and had a long chat with the shop owner about how his mother had just lost her drivers licence at the age of 89 and how that was probably a good thing.  I found some cute little inspirational signs for my classroom at the dollar store.  I browsed a few thrift shops.  By the time I headed home my arms were filled with bags, a huge book, and a bouquet of flowers.  I got to my apartment, opened the door, and the cat made a break for it down the hallway.  So I put everything down and went after her which led me into a nice long conversation with my elderly neighbour.

This is kind of a boring post.  The only reason that I write it is that it’s the kind of morning that makes me feel like I made the right decision in coming back to White Rock.  I still have very few friends out this way so it can get a bit lonely.  And I don’t like that my parents are 40 minutes away because I enjoy hanging out with them.  Regardless: this place feels like home.

I like waking up to the sound of seagulls.  I love that I can hear the train as it passes along the beach.  It blows my mind that I get to see ocean views Every Single Day.

It was the simple kind of morning that I want to commit to memory.  Calm, peaceful, stress-free, quiet.  The kind of morning that soothes my introverted self.

I hope that you all found some peace this Saturday morning as well.