Stop telling people how to be romantic

I read this and was inspired.

Strike that. I read 7 of the 21 things on this list and was torn between inspiration and annoyance.

Honestly? 21 Uncommon Romantic Gestures That Would Make Any Girl Melt? Any girl?

First off, I am most obviously annoyed by the gross generalization that this listicle contained sure-fire, infallible ways to woo women that clearly could not be resisted.

Then I started reading and … wow. The 7 bullet points that I got through before discarding it as junk were so absurdly specific they were clearly written from a girl to her boyfriend who just doesn’t quite get it. Or to every boyfriend she’s ever had, except that one who did all of those things. Either way, words like “because you know that she loves when you put in the effort to choose, but is really picky when it comes to what she wants,” kind of give away the ulterior motive here. Because every woman ever in the history of women is super picky, obvs.

So then I got to thinking…

What are the gestures I find romantic? Because I might have what could be considered a strange sense of romanticism. Maybe. At least, based on every “do this because your woman will be wooed” article I’ve ever read, I have a strange sense of romanticism. Because none of those things would woo me.

I thought about all of the strange little quirky things guys have done for me that I thought were romantic and I could list all of them and make my own “this is what that guy did so you should achieve the standard he set” list but why? Instead, I will offer the following general ideas on “how to be romantic,” from the perspective of a left-of-center romantic.

1. Pay attention to them. This isn’t about chiming in on their story at the right places with a well-placed nod or “mmhmm” to let them know you are genuinely interested (although, that’s nice, too). This is about picking up clues they don’t know they are giving you. Things you might think are completely inane might totally make their day. This is bigger (smaller) than just remembering their Starbucks order. This is a buying-the-right-socks kind of attuned.. I think you’ll be fairly pleased with the results of doing something small that shows just how close you were paying attention. And that doesn’t mean taking out the trash because she asked you to do it 42 times already.


Actually… I think that about covers it. I really think the core of romanticism is figuring out what your partner thinks is romantic. For some women, it’s wine and roses. For me, it’s a cheeseburger and concert tickets. For some women, it’s having a man who will sit quietly and still while she subjects him to yet another Reese Witherspoon movie (sorry, was that judgey?). For me, it’s a guy who respects that I love horror movies but find slasher films completely pointless. For your partner, it’s probably something completely different but would you rather find out by blowing $20 on roses and a fake smile or would you rather pay attention and figure out from that if she’s into roses or punk rock?

I Hope You Suffer… sometimes

Here’s the thing they never tell you about meeting your soul mate. Sometimes being soul mates is not enough. Sometimes even though you are one soul living in two bodies, split in half somewhere in some colossal cosmic screw up, you figure out that one of you is the Dark Half and you are better apart.

That sucks.

A lot.

And they don’t tell you just how much it will always suck. How much that other half of your soul will always haunt the back of your mind, always be present. It’s not necessarily a longing – sometimes it is – so much as just the knowledge that there is another part of you somewhere in the world and you are no longer connected and often that knowledge comes attached to the very powerful memory of when it all came to an end.

If you’re lucky it was a quiet, peaceful, amiable ending where you just agreed that it wasn’t meant to be and went your separate ways. If you are like me, however, that ending came in the form of the Hindenburg, a 100-ton flaming destruction, affecting everyone in its wake. I spent months in a state of numb shock. Despair would have been a relief. Instead I felt nothing.

But we’ve gone over all of that before.

Today, we are talking about today.

Today, I have moved on to a new life. I am kind of stuck in limbo between a life I’m not in love with and a life I want to live but things keep getting in the way. But none of that is your concern. The point of all of this is that most days, 99% of the time, you are merely a shadow. The ghost of a past that was on a path to be something amazing but never came to be. Most days, you are tail lights going the opposite direction.

But some days, I still harbor an intense anger for the selfishness you put me through. I might always. I don’t know. It’s been a long time and the fire is still as hot as it was then so I really don’t see it ever going out.

Don’t get me wrong. It’s not consuming or anything like that. Typically it lasts the length of a song that reminds me of you and then it’s gone again until the next time. But when it does flare, I wish there was a way to tell you how much you still affect me. Years later.

Instead I’ll just share this song and let you know that there are moments – just moments, brief but intense moments – where there is more truth in these words than I could ever hope to share in my own.

The one who got away…kind of

Once upon a time, there was a young girl who could remember everything, far from home, feeling her way through a brave new world, creating a brave new self. One day, this girl met a boy but things wouldn’t get interesting in that story until some time later, when the boy confessed to another boy, who was the girl’s very best friend in the world in that minute, that he thought she was … easy on the eyes.

Four years passed and the boy and the girl developed what the girl fondly remembers to be a strange friendship.

Why was it strange, you might ask and you would be right in asking. As we mentioned earlier in this story, the boy found the girl quite attractive indeed and she did have similar thoughts about him. And while neither were willing to share these thoughts in public, they didn’t go to a lot of trouble to hide them away either. Hugs and glances were longer than they should have been, silent moments more awkward, compliments more complimentary.

Everyone in the village knew what was between the boy and the girl, still no one dared speak of the sacrifice made when two people want the last burrito and ultimately neither one gets it. Why then did not the girl and the boy cease their tomfoolery and make their romance real?

To this day there is no answer to the question. Some say it was poor timing, some say it was fear of losing a friendship that had grown into something so comfortable. The truth may never be known. For as I tell you this story, the boy and the girl have a decade gone without seeing one another’s faces. And as time grows, memories fade. Except for the girl who could remember everything about the boy who got away.

But even with that, she knows the romance is long gone. She only longs for the friend she never wanted to lose.

Years ago, more years than I care to admit and more years than many would believe anyway, I met someone who I don’t think I will ever forget.

To be fair, that statement actually describes a lot of people but right now we are focused on one. Or at least, I am and have been for a couple of days now.

Anyway, he (yeah, he, this is one of those stories) and I connected well in the early stages of our friendship. We had one of those friendships that feels like it has lasted longer than it has; when you feel like you’ve known them forever but it’s really only been months. We talked, we laughed, we joked, we flirted, we had moments when we said nothing at all and that was okay too.

Or maybe I’m remembering it the way it never was. Early on I have a few cloudy memories of the “getting to know you” process which culminated on a horrible day in a horrible month when something horrible had happened and while I was never sure and never asked, I think he may have cried on my shoulder for a minute. On my literal shoulder.

After that, my memories are clearer. Because after that I started paying closer attention to the little things that would come to mean a lot to me later on. And when I pay attention, I remember everything. I remember talking about music and about nothing at all and I remember how his bedroom was laid out and the poster on the wall that made me smile all the way to my toes and I remember the time he offered to pay me for dancing at a party because that was how we flirted and we flirted a lot and I suck at flirting. Now – or even then, really – I try to flirt and really just come off as a drunk baby giraffe with a speech impediment, sputtering out sentence fragments and lighting things on fire (bonus points if you can find me a video of David Spade saying that last part).

Since our parting of ways, I have told a couple of people this story – or a version of – and they all ask the same question at the end: So…what happened? Why didn’t you guys hook up?

Nope. There is no answer to that question. I obviously don’t know his reasons because we never talked about that and I don’t know my reasons because my reasons are all a bunch of flimsy excuses that mostly mask the real answer – I was scared he’d say no then where would we be?

For some reason I have yet to uncover, music triggers memories but not always. So sometimes you can listen to a song and nothing happens but then the next time you hear it, you remember all the things and life sucks because all the things are gone and you just really want them back. So a couple of days ago, I heard a song that reminds me of this guy for a couple of reasons and I haven’t really stopped thinking about him since. But surprisingly not in a why didn’t we date, why can’t we just get together one time and make out like teenagers kind of way. I am missing my friend.

I’ll get over it and move on but for right now there is a very obvious absence in my life that amounts to more than just one missing person but it is largely about that one missing person.

Book Blog

In a hunt through the many images on the interwebs, as assisted by Google, to find one of those 30 day workout things that I felt like I could actual do in my less than athletic capacity, I found this:
I decided, rather than spend thirty days one-and-two-wording everyone to death, I’d just answer all of the questions in one shot. Some of them are going to require a bit of expounding but for the most part it’s all just the titles of books. So without further ado…
Best book you read last year Sadly, I have not done much reading lately. I started a couple different books but didn’t finish any of them, I don’t think.
A book that you’ve read more than 3 times I don’t think any, as an adult. But I read all of Alvin Schwartz’s Scary Tales… books several times as a kid.
Your favorite series The Dresden Files, currently
Favorite book of your favorite seriesBlood Rites. It’s a turning point in the series and completely changes the dynamic between two major characters.
A book that makes you happy hmmmm Where the Sidewalk Ends?
A book that makes you sad The Giving Tree
A book that makes you laugh I have a whole collection of Garfield comics
Most overrated book The Fault in Our Stars. Sorry, folks, I got through…like, six excruciating chapters and couldn’t do anymore.
A book you thought you wouldn’t like but ended up loving And Then There Were None (formerly Ten Little Indians) by Agatha Christie
A book that reminds you of home I guess that depends on your definition of home… but one that jumps to mind is Friday Night Lights, even though, to be honest, I haven’t actually read it. But the whole idea of a small town where football is life resonates both in where I grew up and where I went to college.
A book you love but hate at the same time Actually, it might be accurate to say this was The House of Leaves. It’s kind of difficult to accept but I can’t really accept that I could hate something so passionately without also loving how much of an impact it had on me. So, I’ll say this is The House of Leaves and the one before this is either the Virgin Suicides or the Haunting of Hill House.
Your favorite writer hmmmm Stephen King although he has a few books that intimidate the hell out of me and Jim Butcher, for the moment.
Book turned movie and completely desecrated I can’t outright think of any. I mean, there have definitely been page to screen adaptations that strayed from the book but the overall story was still pretty much the same. But I have read a couple where the film version was pretty great so I picked up the book and regretted doing so. At the forefront of my memory are the Virgin Suicides and the Haunting of Hill House (referring to the 1999 Liam Neeson The Haunting; the original movie from 1963 with the same title followed the book more closely and was, therefore, just as drab).
Favorite male character So many to choose from…. Obviously Harry Dresden because without him we wouldn’t have the Dresden Files. Thomas Raith, also from the Dresden Files. Sirius Black from Harry Potter…
Favorite female character Well, Ginny Weasley, of course. Charlie McGee from Stephen King’s Firestarter
Favorite quote from your favorite book And definitely too many to choose from here so instead of trying to pick a favorite I’ll pick a moment from, yep, you guessed it, The Dresden Files where a character, Chief Joseph “Injun Joe” Listens-to-Winds, pretty gracefully sums up the entire series by saying to Harry, “You don’t get in trouble by the halves, do ya, son?”
A book that disappointed you The Fault in Our Stars.
Favorite book turned into a movie Really? Let’s just go with Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
Favorite romance book The only “romance book” I ever read was The Wind Blows Backward by Mary Downing Hahn. So, we’ll say that.
The first novel you remember reading That’s the problem. I have no idea. I remember what it was about – a kid (can’t remember if it was a girl or boy) was kidnapped and found a typewriter in the basement where they were being held and used it to get notes out into the world…? I think. All I know is it wasn’t the Face on the Milk Carton because I read this book between 1987 and 1989ish and the Face on the Milk Carton was published in 1990…. Otherwise, probably one of the Boxcar Children books.
A book that makes you cry I didn’t read them. My third grade teacher would read to us to kind of calm us down and reign everything in after our lunch recess and two of the books she read to us were Where the Red Fern Grows and Bridge to Terabithia. Traumatizing.
A book you wanted to read for a long time but still haven’t Define a “long time.” I have a never ending list of books I want to read and some of them have been on said list for several years. Maybe the Sandman/Endless Night series. The biggest obstacle to me reading them is my inability to focus on comic books.
A book you wish more people would’ve read The Perks of Being a Wallflower. I think a lot of people – kids and adults alike – just saw the movie and never bothered with the book.
A character who you can relate to the most Hmmmidunno… Maybe Skeeter Phelan from The Help, a writer who doesn’t want to be pushed into marriage just because it’s the polite thing to do and who wants to use her writing to make a difference in the world… I guess.
A book that changed your opinion about something I can’t think of any right off the top of my head but I think reading biographies is a good way to …maybe not “change” your opinion but broaden the way you see things.
The most surprising plot twist or ending I can’t think of any….
Favorite title of a book Touching from a Distance: Ian Curtis and Joy Division by Deborah Curtis
A book everyone hated but you liked I honestly don’t really know what “everyone” thinks of books. I have a couple of friends who I consult about books but I don’t really read reviews or anything like that.
Your favorite book of all time I always gravitate toward Firestarter here but I honestly don’t know that I have one favorite book.

So, there you have it. Although, I am not sure how much of this is accurate because it doesn’t seem to matter how many books you’ve read, when you try to do something like this, you can only remember five. And not even the most recent five. Just…a random five.

The Attitude of Entitlement in the Service Industry

So I’m about to say something that is probably going to piss off a lot of people. At the same time, there will probably be a lot of other people nodding in agreement but won’t say anything because they don’t want to piss off a lot of people.

I have worked in the service industry. I have worked tipped jobs and I have worked jobs where my hourly wage actually made real world cents (also, sense, if you want to avoid the punny). My tipped jobs have left me with – apparently – a completely different view of the situation from everyone else who has ever worked a tipped job ever.

Let’s start here… I just read this other blog where the author expounded on the “art” of tipping and what you may or may not know about the subject. I knew pretty much everything in that article including the part where, despite President Clinton’s efforts to make life better for everyone, Herman Cain succeeded in convincing Congress to lock the federal tipped minimum wage at $2.13 “forever,” forcing the general public to pay the wages of the majority of service industry workers.

This is where my rant begins. First of all, in more than half of the states in the US, this is no longer the case. Seven states have no tipped minimum wage, meaning all workers, regardless of their industry, make at least minimum wage. Granted, that’s still not a living wage but it’s not the dismal figures that most service industry workers lament. In at least half of the remaining states, employers are required – by law – to make up the difference. That means if your state’s minimum wage is $10 per hour and you don’t make at least $7.87 per hour (or whatever it has to be to bridge the gap) in tips, your hourly wage has to be increased to make up the difference. Again, I understand that this isn’t a big improvement to the situation but it still isn’t slave labor.

Second, as the first paragraph of the above blogger’s post sarcastically decries, tipping IS IN FACT, about generosity and gratitude for good service. I remain firm in my belief that not every server automatically deserves 15% just because they only technically make $2.13 per hour and sometimes take home paychecks that have a big fat goose egg in the amount box, after income taxes. You start out with a clean slate, 15% because you haven’t done anything spectacular but you didn’t screw anything up yet. 15% is for C average service, the equivalent of 3 out of 5 stars. There are a few things you can do to raise that amount and a few things you can do to tank it.

Do keep my drink filled. There is a restaurant here with a line marked on their glasses that says refill. They’re 20 ounce glasses (without ice) so that line is probably somewhere around the 8 ounce level, when there’s approximately 1/3 of the drink remaining. I consider this to be the “you’re pushing it” zone. I, personally, see no reason (unless you are like a few people I know who guzzle five glasses of whatever before the appetizer is served….then you as a customer are setting ridiculously high standards and should tip according to your ability to be a pain in the server‘s arse) for the drink to dip much lower than the halfway point. The only exception might be coffee – for some people that coffee to sugar to cream ratio is a very sophisticated chemical formula and adding more coffee to it before they’re ready has disastrous results.

Don’t hover. If you are in a slow section or it’s a slow time in the day, hang out somewhere you can see me but I have to want to see you. Wait until I close and lay down my menu before coming back to ask if I’m ready to order for the fourteenth time in fifteen minutes. Wait until I’ve taken more than two sips off my drink before returning to refill it. Allow me to enjoy my meal and my company in peace. I didn’t come to this restaurant to hang out with the staff (unless I did). Being TOO helpful is a good way to lower your tip.

Do make sure I have everything I need. I understand that sometimes someone else might have to deliver my order. I’d much rather that than have it sit under the heat lamp for ten minutes and get rubbery or soggy until you can get to it. But if that happens, get back to me as soon as humanly possible to make sure I have everything I might need. It’s not your co-worker’s responsibility to bring me ketchup or refill my drink.

Don’t disappear. See above.

Do be prompt. I don’t time you but I will notice if I sit at an empty table for 10-15 minutes after you took the last plate away before you bring the check. Even worse is if after that 10 minutes you come back – without the check – to ask if I want dessert. I’m (probably) not in a hurry but you don’t know that and if you vanish, I will leave without the check (not without paying, I’ll leave something close to what I owe, within $2-3, but you might have to make up the difference).

Don’t rush me. I’ve had servers bring the food then, literally in the time it took to walk back to the POS to print it, bring the check back. I’ve had servers bring the appetizer and meal on the same tray. I don’t care what your intentions were when this happened, you best work your ass off for the rest of the meal if you have any hope of getting a tip.

Do be understanding. Sometimes people forget to ask for no onions on their salad. Sometimes people expect a bowl of lettuce and don’t know what to do with a real salad. Sometimes the menu doesn’t list every last ingredient and the meal comes out with something someone didn’t expect. If I send something back, it’s with good reason. If I ask for extra of something and send you back for more extra, it’s with good reason. Chances are it’s not your fault that my order isn’t what I expected but you’re the middle man so you get to listen to my complaint. I will be as cordial about complaining as you are about listening to me so if you give me attitude because I don’t want my “medium” steak cold and bleeding, I’m going to give you attitude in the form of a smaller tip.

I understand that working in the service industry sucks. I understand some people just don’t tip, regardless of the quality of service and that sucks. I understand that in some situations some people don’t know what to do (buffet restaurants, for example) so they don’t do anything and that sucks. I understand that Herman Cain and the restaurant owners whatever association he was in charge of at the time are assholes who don’t want to pay their employees and that sucks. I understand that, as a service worker, it is not my customer’s responsibility to pay my bills and that tips are a reward not a right and that’s life. I get so frustrated with the attitude of entitlement that service workers have, all because some bureaucrat decided they weren’t worth more and would never have a chance of being worth more (thank the gods state level bureaucrats didn’t agree, right?). Don’t get pissy with me (or post my receipt on the internet with all manner of disparaging comments) if you act like a jerk and I tip you accordingly. If you genuinely believe you busted your butt and I stiffed you or undertipped, suck it up, accept that some people suck and do the same quality job for the next person. Unfortunately, it doesn’t balance straight across but there will come a day when someone will give you a 50-100% tip and it will make up for at least a few of the creeps who didn’t give you anything.

Aspire, Seek, Attain

To fill my days with satisfying activity.
To find dominant beauty in art, literature, nature, and friendships.
To know the peace and serenity in a divine faith.
To love life and joyously live each day to its ultimate good.
This is my creed in Alpha Sigma Alpha.
-Wilma Wilson Sharp, President Emireta

It has been a long time since I really shared anything about my sorority. I can, without a doubt, say I have joined hands with my sisters and repeated those words at least 125 times. Some days, they meant the world to me, other days, admittedly, it was just another chore I had to complete to get through to the next chore. It wasn’t always easy. It wasn’t always fun. We fought. We bickered. We branched off into cliques and tried to pit our sisters against one another. We laughed. We cried. We held one another’s hands and we mourned together when one of us lost a loved one.

I still remember that day as clear as a bell.

And what does all of that make us, if not just like any other family around? Except that unlike most families, we chose each other. We chose to be a family. We chose to make a commitment to one another and to the values we all believed in and stacked against anything that tried to tear us down. I hear that it’s not like that anymore. That my beloved Zeta Pi chapter has fallen into disrepair and the current actives don’t have the leadership I had when I was in their position. It hurts my heart that I can’t do anything to help them. I don’t know any of them but they are still my family and I want all of them to succeed. As Alpha Sigs and as strong women. I want them to look at their letter badges and their ever-increasing collection of ladybugs and at a chain link on their keys and know in their hearts that those things represent hundreds of women who support them and love them, even though they’ve never met.

I miss my sisters each and every day. Each and every day I address challenges and triumphs in my life that I want more than anything to share with my sisters who are so far away. I’m getting ready to graduate from cosmetology school in a few weeks and I’m torn between a desire to take my shiny new career and strike out for big city lights and a desire to return to the place my heart feels most at home, which is where my sisters are close.

“The purpose of Alpha Sigma Alpha is to foster close friendships between members and to develop women of poise and purpose.”

But more than that, more than how much I cherish what they are to me today, I think a lot about what I gained from the sorority. Some of the truest friends ever, sure, but personally I learned diplomacy. I learned how to discipline a close friend without damaging that friendship. I learned teamwork. I learned deadlines. I learned how to be completely and 100% myself around people I’d never met because I knew they were part of a special, elite group who understood what kind of person I was.

I learned charity. I think that is the biggest lesson I learned through my experience. I learned to always look for ways to help others. Even now, with weeks to go before I can think about putting anything into motion, I am thinking of ways I can donate my newfound career skills to help people. I love the idea of Look Better, Feel Better, but I want to reach a broader community than just cancer patients and survivors. I want to help victims of domestic violence look better to feel better, car accident survivors and burn victims, sex trade survivors…anyone who could benefit from a fresh new page in their book. I don’t know if that drive to give back would be as strong if not for my time in Alpha Sigma Alpha.

I don’t know if I’ve sufficiently conveyed everything I set out to say. I don’t know if I ever could. I just want to say, to all my sisters, near and far, those whose hands I’ve held and those whom I have never met, ALAM and Mizpah.

Age vs. Maturity vs. Personality

In my time as a cosmetology student (and undoubtedly in the years to come) the single most frustrating thing I encounter is an idea that age should dictate our aesthetic decisions. This is hard for me because I don’t believe in age. I mean, obviously age is a real thing that advances every 365 days, but I don’t believe it should have any bearing on who you want to be in your life. Age is only important if one is a wine or a cheese and I have yet to meet an entire animate person made of cheese (cheesy people but not people made of cheese). This whole “you’re too old for that,” “why can’t you grow up and act your age” mentality is ridiculous to me. I just don’t understand it.

So when people compliment me on my hair then tell me, “I’d love to do something like that, but I’m too old,” I don’t know how to respond. I usually just shrug, give them a little chuckle, and say no, you’re not too old. I don’t want to dive headlong into a philosophical debate regarding age vs. maturity vs. personality with the cashier at the grocery store. Ain’t nobody got time fo’ that. But the truth is I feel like it’s all an attitude thing.

A new crop of students just started at the ol’ beauty school last week and one of these students has her long blonde hair colored to look like a tub of Baskin Robbins cotton candy ice cream…


all pastel blue and pink and purple swirls. And it could look amazing. Except it’s faded and splotchy which bugs the crap out of me anyway but also she wears delicate, pretty make up and while we can’t do a lot to express our personalities through our solid black wardrobe, her clothes so far have been very conservative and almost frumpy. This makes her hair look that much more out of place. This is where attitude and personality trumps age. She doesn’t exude the attitude or personality to pull off the cotton candy swirled hair regardless of being 18-19-20ish whatever years old.

It really does come down to confidence, presentation, attitude and personality. Some of these 40-year-old plus women who are “too old” for purple streaks in their hair, probably are. Not too old, technically, but because they have talked themselves into that mindset, they probably don’t have the chutzpah needed to make it work. It would look out of place, not because they are middle aged but because they are too timid, too reserved to rock it they way it should be rocked.

I am getting ready to make over my aunt, my mom’s older sister, and I’m not looking at pixie cuts or fire engine red highlights. I’m looking at ideas that she’ll rock. Ideas that will suit her personality and her lifestyle, because that’s what is more important than if it suits her age. We’re probably going to end up with a fairly sedate and subtle change but it will fit her. She will look good and hopefully feel good rather than awkward, self conscious and made up when we’re finished. I’m not leaning toward conservative because of her age, I’m leaning toward conservative because that’s what’s (hopefully) going to make her walk out of the salon looking and feeling awesome.

So, I guess that’s that. I just don’t get this whole philosophy that you can be too old for bold hair colors or that you are too old for neon green skinny jeans. It’s all about your personality, your attitude, your presence to decide what you can and should wear. Age ain’t nothing but a number.

Either live or die


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