college friends, dating, friends, read it love it, Short Story Love, tales from the dating trenches

Elevators, Stairwells and Stalking: A short-lived love story by Helen

I received this in an email Friday afternoon from my dear friend Helen. I haven’t stopped laughing since, nor have I stopped thinking about her brilliant perspective on the topic. 

tumblr_n6752fo1521tvlpwyo1_500.png

(Alternative title: Why I’m Single)

Preface

Even though this story has a disappointing ending, I take pride in what it says about the kind of girl I am. The following is a tale of perseverance in the face of adversity.

Main

Ever since I started working at the Avenue*, I’ve noticed a guy who works on my floor. He looks quite ordinary actually, but has a kind face. Of course, I’ve had boyfriends, prospects and fuckboys crop up throughout the past four years, so I’d never taken my interest past a polite smile in the hallway. Having been single (as fuck) for nearly a year and a half now, however; I hatched a plan to satisfy my curiosity. I vowed to ask his name and then use this information to ascertain his relationship status.

One day, I chanced upon him in the elevator. After exchanging a few comments about the weather, I mustered up the courage to inquire further. His name was John*. We shook hands. Discovering his last name was easy because I knew where he worked and, like most professionals, he had a LinkedIn profile. He was an analyst, had a master’s degree and, based on his undergraduate graduation date, seemed to be 37 years old. What proved more difficult was the utter banality of his full name: John Smith. Neither Facebook nor Google yielded clues. I told myself to be patient.

Some time later, after lunch with colleagues, I stepped off the elevator and practically walked right into him. A colleague, Reba*, mentioned that he seemed to be interested in me. Emboldened by her encouragement, I decided to renew my efforts. Another colleague, Ericka*, contributed her online sleuthing skills to the task, but alas: no immediate answers to the question of his marital status. I decided to go about the task the old-fashioned way — looking for a wedding ring. I thought I’d seen a wedding ring in the past (remember that I’d had an eye on him for quite some time) but according to Bridget Jones’ Diary, one in three marriages now end in divorce. Plus, it was clear that he totally had a crush on me.

The restrooms on our floor had been under construction for almost a month, forcing us to use the restrooms one floor down. As a result, we’d all been wandering the hallways more than usual. On one such occasion, I swung open the stairwell door and there he was. Taken by surprise, I forgot all about the mission, but managed to blurt out: Hey! How’s it going? To which he responded: I’m good, how are you? To which I responded: I’m good! Immediately after this strained exchange, I remembered my mission and lamented the missed opportunity.

A week passed without running into him and, knowing the restrooms would only be under construction for so long, I decided I could not leave our next meeting to chance. I began drinking a healthy amount of water, which forced me to roam the hallways at least three times more than usual. Finally, I saw the back of his head disappear into the stairwell. I calculated the amount of time it would take him to walk back up and then I waited. As soon as he turned the corner, there I was. I scanned the hand — no ring! I made my small talk and went on my way. Thinking about it later, I realized that I’d looked at his mirror-image left hand, which is to say, I looked at his right hand. This is exactly the type of thing I would expect myself to do at this stage of such a critical mission.

Back to the Internet. I began googling his name with the few facts I knew about him. John Smith Commerce Bank*. John Smith Redbranch Los Angeles California. I learned his middle name. I learned where he lived. I learned his home phone number. I stumbled upon a wedding registry for John and Jane Smith from 2015. Now I began googling Jane Smith. That led me to Facebook. I looked at all the Jane or Jane Smith profiles associated with the correct village. And then I found what I did not want to find. She was indeed married to him. She had updated her profile picture only two months ago with an image of their wedding. The jig was up.

In the end, I discovered what I think always knew. He was unavailable. Shame on him for having a crush on me, though.

Afterword

As I said, this story has a somewhat disappointing ending. But although I could not make John Smith love me, I must say that I’ve come to love myself even more. So dedicated am I to achieving excellence in everything I do that, if lack of chill were a sport, I’d make it to the Olympics no question. Does John Smith deserve a woman on that level? Does any man?

*Some names and identifying details have been changed to protect the privacy of individuals.

 

Standard
design, heard it loved it, saw it loved it, three things

Three things.

img_9_1492613908_da312d0dff2a17efe7ca3702358e8ac3.jpg

Do you catch yourself at times actively avoiding the news knowing it will inevitably cause your head to spin into a thousand different directions? Me too! (Important note: In writing this, I know I am beyond privileged that I have the chance to even live in my little bubble when I choose. And for that I am thankful and ashamed and have really no good way to acknowledge this fact.)

What if there was nothing new to report? “Nothing new in the news”

“living in a world of constant sensory overload, sideline collective offers us a little respite with their project titled ‘nothing in the news’. 24 hours a day, people are bombarded with real-time information by every media outlet and platform competing for their attention through one pop-up notification at a time. so, what would it feel like to go just one day with absolutely no news, no massive data intake?

even though the world is living in particularly sensitive times — when truth really matters and newspapers play an integral role in democracy — societies are becoming frighteningly addicted to breaking news, gossips, top tens, conspiracies, internet videos and porn. therefore, for this cultural precipice, the team offers the one thing people need more than ever: nothing to read about. absolutely nothing. today, and today only, there is nothing in the news. enjoy it whilst you can.’”

From the concept to the design, I love everything about this.

lorde

You’ve most definitely heard Lorde’s newest banger, Green Light, right? So stoked she’s back with more gems. (She is incredible.) But have you heard her new ballad, Liability? (Listen here.) It’s my new anthem. Because holy shit could the message behind this song have been plucked right of my brain. I mean the lyrics include

They say, “You’re a little much for me / You’re a liability / You’re a little much for me” / … I’m a little much for everyone

As someone who has literally been told “you’re just… a lot” of course this song hit me right in the honey nut feelios.  Bustle has a great write up on it, too.

lola_tampons-1.jpg

Joanna at Cup of Jo asked about “First Period Stories” and the comments are a great read. I even included my own story which she posted about later in the week which made me lol. Hooray for the internet now having my first period story! Might as well share it here, too. 😉

PERIOD

Standard
inspiration, read it love it, words for the heart, writers

Madame Clairevoyant: the only “horoscope” I read

MC

As mentioned in last week’s Three Things (which will return to its regular scheduled time next week!), I dabble a wee bit in checking my horoscope out. But really, the one I have loved most, for years now, is Madame Clairevoyant. She used to write for The Rumplr, The Rumpus’s tumblr, then The Toast, and I’m so stoked she found a weekly spot on The Cut.

Maybe I love them the most because they’re not rooted in real astrology. But I definitely love them because they are beautifully written and always provide words of wisdom — whether they’re brought from the state of the planets or not — they’re words that help me stay rooted in the week ahead. And they’re words that are often eerily spot on.

Madame C. once wrote:

I am not a real astrologer or a real writer, and so it’s strange and great that people actually read these, that people are connecting with a thing that I work on. At first, when Molly asked me if I’d write horoscopes for the Rumpus, they were so silly—I really wish I were still as funny as this—but then before I even really realized it, they got serious

What I love the most about astrology, what I love most about really any field of knowledge, but especially the ones that lots of Serious People dismiss (astrology, magic, ghost stories, even religion), is the specific structures and vocabularies they give us for understanding our realities outside of common sense or linear time or the rules of science or whatever, the tools they give us for understanding the actual weirdness of our lives.

It is comforting and even fun, sometimes, to blame bad things on Mercury going retrograde; it’s comforting and fun to use astrology to understand the terrible parts of your own personality or your mom’s personality or your friends’ personalities. One of the homeless youths I work with likes to talk to me about how tarot is the only way of looking at the world that makes any sense to him. Everyone rolls their eyes at this, but it’s so real.

I still know hardly anything about actual astrology, though. A lot of people have really put in the time time to learn about the nuances, the complicated parts, the houses and trines and decanates and all of it. I am not there. I am better (I hope?) at paying attention to the people around me, the weird bendy logic of our lives, the emotional textures of the world. My roommate and my sister are both Leos, and they’re utterly different, but there are all these eerie coincidences and resonances in their lives. All the Tauruses I know are totally different except that they aren’t totally different, and I can’t put my finger on what exactly makes up that strange little core of sameness, but that’s where I try to locate these horoscopes.

 

untitled2

What ultimately led me to write this post in particular, was this week’s horoscope in particular. For me, it struck me right in the heart. So, without further adieu, one of my favorites to date.

Taurus: Your wildness isn’t too much: Even as it loves, a person’s heart can buck and bristle. It’s possible for loyalty to mean something other than a quashing of your own emotions, your own strangeness, your own rebellion. It’s possible for faith to be critical, and for love to challenge and protest. It’s a week to be true to your people, and a week to stand boldly on your own side, too.

 

Untitled

So, go on now, find yours here.

Standard
#AnnaReadsThis, brilliant reads, poetry, read it love it, recommended reading

National Poetry Month // 2017

tumblr_onn837uwfm1rnc3y3o1_1280.png

When I’ve found myself in moments of pure heartbreak — which is to say there have been many moments in my 27 years of existence — I have so often found solace in poetry. Last year, in the throes of a wee heartbreak, I loved this poem by Andrea Gibson.

Heck, I have even found myself brought to prose as a result of particular heartache — (see this poem) — I genuinely don’t even remember putting the words down. I just remember feeling utterly numb but in dire need to write. To put the feelings I wasn’t feeling down in words.

What I’m getting at, ironically, not so eloquently, is that poetry is powerful. It’s no secret that I’m a bonafide word-lover, so this too should come as no surprise. But even for those not so “into poetry”, I’d argue there’s a poem, poet, or poetry style for them. That’s the beautiful thing about poetry.

So, when I saw this list from The Strand Book Store of “11 Writers Bringing Poetry to Life,” you best believe my bank account took a hit.

1-hVV7y1w4EIO7HmWiQ1yFMA.gif

But I need even more! What are your favorite poets, poems, etc.? Let me know! I love it alllll. 

 

Standard
blogging, three things

Three Things.

tumblr_nzifi0ncFM1sndzdgo1_1280.jpg

I’m not a live and die by the signs kinda gal, but I DO believe the planets affect our moods and decision making. I mean, if the moon can affect the waves, why wouldn’t the position of Earth not affect us in the least bit, ya know? (Sound science right there. ; ) ) In any case, I was a bit concerned when I read that the planets are about to go wild, but don’t worry, this article breaks it down and clears up some misconceptions.

Be mindful and be impeccable with your word whenever you can. The stars will do their best to witness your good intentions and, if they don’t, the people you need in your life will. Finally, it’s always good to enter a Mercury retrograde period with this reminder: Sometimes a bad day is just bad day. It’s hard and then it isn’t.

IMG_1133

An English major analyzed booty call messages she’s received and I can’t stop laughing.

What kind of rhetorical devices did he use? Is there any hidden meaning? I asked myself, scrolling through the stream of messages on my phone. I see some polysyndeton, which contributes to the ambiguity, I answered myself, noting his use of capitalization and his placement of line breaks. Suddenly, I realized my tendency to overcomplicate things had unlocked what just might be the best-kept cryptographic secret of the millennium! I could use my close-reading skills to pick apart every tiny detail of this boy’s message, down to the very letter! And thus, the booty call explication was born.

breathless-jean-seberg-film

I’ll be honest and say that I am 100% guilty of daydreaming about life as a French girl. I love Jean-Luc Godard as much as the next girl, and I went through an Anna Karina phase where I rocked red tights regularly. But after living in Europe now for nearly five years, I see how much of this “French girl” trope Americans have created is so far fetched and kind of obnoxious, to boot. And I know it’s a huge theme in the blogger world which I admit to having contributed to. (Oy.) That’s why I was particularly amused when I came across this article, 97 Things You Can Do Like a French Girl, on The Cut.

Ever want to behave like the cartoonish stereotype of an unnecessarily romanticized nationality? Of course you do. Here are 97 things you can do like a French girl.

Standard
#AnnaReadsThis, books, essays, feminism, read it love it, the future is female

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s ‘Feminist Manifesto’

pjimage+(4)9.jpg

Last weekend I found myself wandering around the bookstore, as so often is the case. I was absolutely excited when I saw they had Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s latest book of essays, Dear Ijeawele, or A Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions

In it, Adichie writes to a friend who asks her how to raise a baby girl as a feminist. This book is Adichie’s response. It’s gentle yet sharp; succinct yet poignant; and reads as though it’s a letter from your best friend.

The main proposition of “Dear Ijeawele” is that feminism is a project that necessarily binds mothers and daughters, and that raising a daughter feminist has as much to do with what you tell yourself as what you tell her. Ms. Adichie’s first of 15 suggestions places a mother’s freedom and growth at the center of a daughter’s feminist education.

“Be a full person,” Ms. Adichie writes. “Motherhood is a glorious gift, but do not define yourself solely by motherhood.” (The New York Times)

15.2

As an aunt, a once particularly conservative girl from the American Midwest, I found this book incredibly powerful. It made me face a few aspects of my own missteps and helped me reevaluate a few of my former philosophies and internalized patriarchal beliefs. And, more than anything, it helped me understand how to change my behavior in hopes of not instilling the same misbeliefs on my nieces & nephews.

Below are some of the lessons which most affected me.

Chimamanda-Ngozi-Adichie-720x340.jpg

On feminism: 

“Your feminist premise should be: I matter. I matter equally. Not “if only.” Not “as long as.” I matter equally. Full stop.”

“Beware the danger of what I call Feminism Lite. It is the idea of conditional fenable equality. Please reject this entirely. It is a hollow, appeasing, and bankrupt idea. Being a feminist is like being pregnant. You either are or you are not. You either believe in the full equality of men and women or you do not.”

15.1

On marriage:

“Never speak of marriage as an achievement. Find ways to make clear to her that I marriage is not an achievement, nor is it what she should aspire to. A marriage can be happy or unhappy, but it is not an achievement. We condition girls to aspire to marriage and we do not condition boys to aspire to marriage, and so there is already a terrible imbalance at the start. The girls will grow up to be women preoccupied with marriage. The boys will grow up to be men who are not preoccupied with marriage. The women marry those men. The relationship is automatically uneven because the institution matters more to one than the other.”

chimamanda-ngozi-adichie-dear-ijeawele-feminist-manifesto-book-review-758x506.jpg

On being “liked”: 

“We teach girls to be likeable, to be nice, to be false. And we do not teach boys the same. This is dangerous. Many sexual predators have capitalized on this. Many girls remain silent when abused because they want to be nice. Many girls spend too much time trying to be “nice” to people who do them harm. Many girls think of the “feelings” of those who are hurting them. This is the catastrophic consequence of likeability. We have a world full of women who are unable to exhale fully because they have for so long been conditioned to fold themselves into shapes to make themselves likeable. So”

15.3

On “doing it all”:

Our culture celebrates the idea of women who are able to ‘do it all’ but does not question the premise of that praise. I have no interest in the debate about women doing it all because it is a debate that assumes that caregiving and domestic work are singularly female domains, and idea that I strongly reject. Domestic work and caregiving should be gender-neutral, and we should be asking not whether a woman can ‘do it all’ but how best to support parents in their dual duties at work and at home.”

On standards and differences:

“Teach her never to universalize her own standards or experiences. Teach her that her standards are for her alone, and not for other people. This is the only necessary form of humility: the realization that difference is normal.”

Teach her about difference. Make difference ordinary. Make difference normal. Teach her not to attach value to difference. And the reason for this is not to be fair or to be nice but merely to be human and practical. Because difference is the reality of our world. And by teaching her about difference, you are equipping her to survive in a diverse world.”

On love:

“Teach her that to love is not only to give but also to take. This is important because we give girls subtle cues about their lives – we teach girls that a large component of their ability to love is their ability to self-sacrifice. We do not teach this to boys. Teach her that to love she must give of herself emotionally but she must also expect to be given.”

chimamanda-ngozi-adichie

I really look forward to devouring Adichie’s other books in the coming months. I highly recommend this article from TIME,  if you’re new to Adichie, as well as this TED talk. And, I am especially pleased to now know what to gift everyone in my life for all upcoming occasions. 😉

Standard
#wordsofwomenHH, 20 questions, blog features, march 2017, words from wise women, words of women

Words of Women 20 Questions: Abby Y.

screen-shot-2017-02-01-at-5-08-01-pm

Inspired by this article from Words of Women, I decided to ask friends to take part in the questionnaire. It’s been so fun reading their answers and I’m excited to share them every Wednesday. If you want to participate, send me an email at aeallen (at) gmail (dot) com.

About the list of 20 questions by Sophie Calle:

Sophie Calle is a French writer, photographer, installation artist, and conceptual artist. Calle’s work is distinguished by its use of arbitrary sets of constraints, and evokes the French literary movement of the 1960s known as Oulipo. Her work frequently depicts human vulnerability, and examines identity and intimacy. She is recognized for her detective-like ability to follow strangers and investigate their private lives. Her photographic work often includes panels of text of her own writing. (Words of Women)

This week’s questionnaire comes from Abby Y., the rad lady I mentioned in this week’s Three Things. She’s an artist, writer, teacher, and magic personified. I think it speaks a lot to our relationship that we’ve actually never lived in the same city, but have a super close bond. Boy, am I thankful to live in a time when distance is just a thing on a map — or however that phrase goes. 😉 Anyway… Hey, ho! Let’s go!

When did you last die?

I died two weeks ago in the Netherlands when I was almost run over by a bicyclist zooming by and again when I walked around the Stededlijk Museum observing the fascinating inner mind and works of photographer Ed Van der Elsken (Camera in Love) WHILE listening to Kendrick Lamar’s ‘To Pimp a Butterfly’ album.

What gets you out of bed in the morning?

The idea that anything is possible and that it will be a great day and good things are going to happen. Also, creating.

What became of your childhood dreams?

They’ve always sat in some part of my brain. I get the sense that everything I have been working on for different segments of my life is going to come together in something that will feel like to me, an incredible symphony. Meaning I think my dreams will happen but it’s been a long road that required the right alchemy.

What sets you apart from everyone else?

I think people are far less big of a deal than they think they are. There are probably 750 different me-type people that are roaming the earth and we all like dogs, rollerblading, You’ve Got Mail, Beyonce and purple nail polish.

What is missing from your life?

Someone I wanna get old with. Well, a male that is.

Do you think that everyone can be an artist?

YES.

Where do you come from? Do you find your lot an enviable one?

We are Swedish and Dutch and Spanish and Irish and probably a few more things. We are dogged by depressional episodes and bouts of intensity and threads of creativity and whole lotta need for exercise and play. I think we are lucky to have and be who we are.

What have you given up?

Thinking that I know how this all will go.

What do you do with your money?

I don’t know, the government owns me.

What household task gives you the most trouble?

Any. I don’t mind a little bit of a mess.

What are your favorite pleasures? 

Sex, reading, laughing, wine, traveling.

What would you like to receive for your birthday? 

I want everyone I love to come spend the night in tents at our cottage in Wisconsin and stay up all night around a campfire and drink, talk and look at the stars.

Cite three living artists whom you love.

Marina Abramovic, Noor Unnahar, Casey Niestat

What do you stick up for?

Immigrants, women, children, animals, anyone with pure intention and heart of gold.

What are you capable of refusing?

Dessert things. I’m salt all the way.

What is the most fragile part of your body?

Oh boy, that heart. Feel it pinging all day long. Like a damn text message. I am very sensitive.

What has love made you capable of doing?

It has made me fly across the country and take big, uncomfortable chances. I have gone against convention time and again, to pursue things that seem true and magical. Have made many bad decisions, ignored wise advice and made myself sick with sadness or jealousy. Life has taught me that love (for the most part) should be kind and soft. Thank god!

My mouth.What do other people reproach you for? 

My mouth.

What does art do for you?

It’s church for me. It is seriously my tonic for a bad day. Grab a chocolate chip cookie, put some headphones on, turn music up and sit in front of the giant Buddha at the Nelson for 20 minutes. Reprieve.

Write your epitaph.

That’s enough.

In what form would you like to return?

Blue Ivy Carter, hands down.

Love you, Abby!!

Standard