Footsie

The first thing I noticed about him was his height. He was tall. Not freakishly so, but tall enough to make my knees a little weak. We talked a bit of shop over oysters and Manhattans. His job, of course, was more interesting than mine so we mostly talked about him. His career seemed dreamy – filled with music and big names. His brown eyes made me blush and the whiskey made me slutty. Naturally, I found myself back at his apartment.

He was a lot older than me – nearly twice my age. He lived in a tiny studio apartment on the east side of town. It was more or less a janitor’s closet with a kitchen. It was cheaply renovated and featured the same flashy fake marble flooring I had in my apartment. He didn’t have any furniture. The only place to sit was on a thin mattress that looked like it came off of a futon. A couple of pillows and some crumbled sheets were laying on top of it. “Oh, that must be the bed” I muddled under my breath. We met online – Tinder more specifically. I really shouldn’t have given him the benefit of the doubt after seeing his apartment. But he was handsome, and I’m recklessly shallow – so I stayed.

He took me up to the roof of his apartment and kissed me slowly – thoughtfully. When he pulled away and I looked up towards the sky, I could actually see a few stars. Inside, he poured me wine and told me stories about being a teenager in the nineties. It made him seem so cool in a way I’m embarrassed to admit. I Imagined him and his friends being like the cool kids in the teen dramas I would watch on tv as a child and it made me weirdly envious.

Just before I let myself get swept up by his cool charm,  I noticed something odd. He really liked feet. He touched my feet more than anything on my body and although I would try to politely wiggle them away – he would always find them. “Sorry, I have kind of a fetish.” He giggled mischievously. “Oh, I don’t mind.” I lied, giggling back. I thought it was weird, but it was still better than watching New Girl alone in my apartment, surrounded by cats. 

I went out with him again. We had a nice dinner and laughed and talked like old friends. He was incredibly hyperactive. He had such a surprising amount of energy that I wondered if he needed adult Ritalin. People who can’t still generally make me very anxious but I felt at ease with him for some reason. I trusted that because he was much older than me, that he was the level headed man I needed in my life. Then, he finished the evening on my feet.

“Well, at least it wasn’t on your face.” I have always loved my cousin’s strong sense of reason. “But my feet…isn’t that kind of weird?” Foot fetishes were a new topic for my circle of friends. We mostly all had the same confused reaction like, why feet? and honestly I still don’t know. He didn’t either – because I asked him. Even though I was slightly horrified by the mental image of him sucking on my toes, I went out with him again. New York City has significantly lowered my standards.

On our third date, we ate Indian and his eyes swelled up like grapefruits. Not from the Indian but from my cat, Pippin, who had decided to curl up on his face while I was in the other room. He didn’t even push him off – he just let it happen. He just sat still on my couch, with a cat wrapped around his face, well-knowing he was allergic to cats. It should have been a red flag. He still managed to be charming though, even through the sniffles and coughs. He left my feet alone, and I was incredibly relieved. We spent a lovely evening together, but the morning would prove to be much different.

In the middle of the night something truly disturbing happened. I woke up and skipped out of bed and into the bathroom. I looked down just before I disrobed and what I saw horrified me. There, in my toilet, lay a gigantic, disintegrating turd. I nearly vomited. My roommate still wasn’t home from being out the night before so it couldn’t have been anybody else. I flushed it down and shoved my head in a towel and screamed. I walked back into my room like nothing had happened. I climbed into bed and tried desperately not to wake him. He rolled over and put his arm around me, pulling me closer. I wanted to climb out of my skin.

Just before he left, he kissed me on the cheek and called me kiddo. I shuttered. We didn’t speak again after that. We didn’t need to. I was lonely from my last break up and looking for love in all of the wrong places. Fortunately enough it was not with a middle-aged man with a foot fetish.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Awakening

If you haven’t read The Awakening by Kate Chopin, you should. But you probably won’t so let me give you a quick synopsis. A Woman, living in turn of the century New Orleans finds herself stuck with two children she cannot stand and a husband who pretty much ignores her. She hates her life because it wasn’t one that she chose. One summer while her husband and children are away she takes up a lover. Her lover leaves her, as most men do, and she is unable to return to society – so she drowns herself.

I read the book for some class in high school. No one understood it. They thought the main character was a soulless she devil who should have shut up and been grateful that she wasn’t a seamstress. Even at 15, I got it. I never wanted to be that woman. I vowed never to lock myself into a life that someone else had chosen because it was the “appropriate” option. Now, at 25 I’m realizing that I have spent all of my adolescence and early adulthood doing exactly what I wanted to stand up against.

I feel an immense amount of pressure to be in a romantic relationship that’s going somewhere and to have a career that’s on the fast track to take me places. But I don’t know where I’m supposed to go or, where that somewhere is. I never took the time to learn myself or what I really wanted from life. So here I am, working in customer service, online dating, and continuously floundering through life.

I’m terrified to pursue writing, or music, or anything that makes me really happy simply because I do not know how. I have spent my entire life following directions and therefore never learned how to take the lead. I’m lost.

I made it to New York – I did that. I live under a train and beside a Popeye’s in a less than desirable part of Brooklyn, but I made it. I view the wealth and glamour of the city from my fire escape but I am not a part of it. I’m still the same shy little girl who never got asked to play kickball. I’m just watching from a far, fantasizing that I’m part of the game. I know, it’s disgusting that I’m sitting here wallowing in my own self pity – woe is me and so it goes. But I’m trying to understand what’s behind it. Why didn’t I just ask to play with the other kids? Why don’t I just try? Why is my fear of failure and rejection so crippling that I have spent years attempting to settle into a life that wasn’t meant for me? We could blame it on me, being a millennial, an upper middle white class girl born and bred in suburbia – I never had to try so I simply don’t know how. That however, is just a piece of it. The simple fact is, I never knew being my own person was an option – so I just chose to ignore the urge. I pushed it down and stomped on it until it was nothing but a squashed little dream.

“You’re not traditional, Liz..” I can still hear him say it. He stood behind me, zipping up my bridesmaid dress, gently wiping the sweat away from my neck. “You can find someone else, you can get married, you can have all of this…but I just don’t think it’s for you.” Hot little tears welled up in my eyes and I stared at the ground and then back at him. “I get to have this…I get to be like everyone else.” It came spilling out of my mouth so fast, that I didn’t comprehend my own words. On the outside, I had been a perfect daughter, friend, and suburbanite. I deserved to have what all of the rest of them had – a shiny rock on my ring finger and a man who would take care of me and impress my family. Someone so smart, tall, and perfect he could distract everyone from all of my flaws. A man to make me a lady – a partner to ease my family’s fears.

I am coming to terms with the fact that I may never have that – because it is never what I really wanted. I will never be successful at working 9-5 pushing papers, processing orders, or planning holiday parties because it is boring and I actually hate it. This is my awakening. I am opening my eyes and greeting a new way of living – one that I alone have chosen. I am accepting that the life I want for myself is untraditional and that my path is unpaved. I am taking in and coming to terms with my own expectations of myself – I am getting comfortable with the uncomfortable and using my fear to move me forward rather than shying away from it. I will be a writer with a voice that offers support and ignites change – I will love late in life and know that when I do it will be on my terms. I want something different and that is okay – I am okay. I am coming late to the party but I have never been one to be on time.

 

Great Expectations

I stood at the train station in Bristol, PA and reminisced about the night before. Remembering back to the bourbon, the cigar smoke, and the half blow job in the bathroom of the speakeasy. I came back to reality only to notice a suicide prevention sign glaring at me from across the tracks. I wondered solemnly how many people had to throw themselves in front of trains before someone decided the sign was necessary.

When the train finally came to take me back to New York, I was glad to see it. I watched the landscape roll by outside my window. Autumn is never as beautiful once the last leaves fall. Everything on the eastern side of the states becomes a shade of brown or grey. The sky and the dead grass seem to merge into one ongoing horizon. Homes which once stood tall and gallant were now crumbling in and bags of dirty diapers and recyclables lined the unkept yards. Suicide suddenly made sense against the un-charmed backdrop. I’m sure a town like Bristol sees their fair share of suicides.

I was only there for an evening, for a boy – of course. He was tall and large and his beard reminded me of a cartoon character’s. He was quiet, yet also not, in a way I can’t really understand. He moves slowly and eats like a horse. I gave him a hand job in the back of an uber and we had sex on a basement couch. It was messy and childish but I liked it, despite my best efforts not to.

Dating has gotten ever stranger since moving to the city. There are no rules, or expectations, and very little romance. The fantasy that prince charming will show up to sweep me off my feet met its sweet demise years ago. Hope sometimes lingers, but only when I’m in the mood to dream. There is something really great about breaking ones own expectation of what love is supposed to be. It’s opening me up to loving myself more and needing others less. Which actually isn’t as sad as I would have thought it to be. Where I come from, marriage and babies is the end-all-be-all. It’s what you do to prove to yourself you are an adult and worthy of praise and success. Here, love and children are optional and they mean so much less than I ever expected.

I finally buried the dream weeks ago. He stood in my doorway clutching his things, and I mine. I wished him a happy Thanksgiving and began to make my way up the stairs and into my apartment. “I thought you would want to talk about this.” He said, trying hard to hide his frustration. Everything had been said and we had gotten to the point where we were just speaking in circles. Fighting for nothing more than the sake of it. “I’m fine.” and I didn’t look back, not even to watch him walk away. For the first time I was the one to leave – and it felt good.

I took a bus to meet The Beard in Philadelphia. We ate oysters and drank too much whiskey. We talked about traveling and threesomes and our crazy families. When he danced his feet moved fast and his gigantic tree trunk like arms stayed still in place. I laughed loudly until small tears ran down my cheeks. It wasn’t romantic but it was fun. It was exactly what I needed.

I was never satisfied constantly comparing my life to some romantic comedy. Always forcing the people in my life to love me the way that I wanted to be loved. It was a shoddy plan that crashed and burned every time. I have learned to put down my arms and let go of control. It was easy once I finally gave myself permission to give up and walk away from my great expectations.

 

Bae

Every time the fighting starts, I wonder how we got here. It starts so easily, too easily. The casual slip of sarcasm, the backhanded ill-intended compliment, the slightest bit of ‘tude is enough to spark the flame. I’m tired—we’re both tired, but neither one of us wants to change or compromise so we’re left with disappointment. 

Sometimes, I watch him sleep. I stare at his long lashes and soft lips as he snores peacefully. I run my fingers across his skin and notice how the tones vary from copper and brass to a deep chocolate. In these quiet moments, I know I love him. But loving someone and being with someone are two very different things. What I cannot see is his mind and how it turns. I wonder what he thinks of when I sleep and if he questions the same things I do.

 His mind is filled with sharp edges and dead ends. Synapses firing wildly as he designs and creates, slowing to a pause when I come into view. He thinks in pictures, and I in words. We are opposites and were probably doomed from the jump. Our latest fiasco began with something as simple as a toothbrush. 

The introduction of my toothbrush was met with weary. Although I could tell he was trying brush it off—pretend it did not bother him that I, had chosen to leave a piece of myself behind in his home. I knew that it made him nervous. This is it, he probably thought, this how she traps me

He stood in the bathroom doorway and watched me open its package. I tore it apart slowly and watched him cringe as I placed it carefully next to his as if to say, this is happening and there isn’t a damn thing you can do about it. He hates that. He hates not having any control.

That’s one major difference between us. I’ve never had control so I don’t understand what it is like to fear losing it. Instead I flounder through life gracelessly, running into it aimlessly or letting it hit me. Not having control over ones life is not as scary as you might think, as long as you know how to get back up after you’ve fallen down. 

The toothbrush sat still in its place as we lay in bed. He turned to me, and casually asked, “Do you want to have kids.” I often talk about my hypothetical children so I was annoyed by the question. Then came the next one, “Do you want to get married?” I am an Ohio girl raised by a team of Catholics so I assumed the answer was also obvious. Then he began, “Well, we’d have to break up eventually then, because I don’t know what I want.” I rolled my eyes and thought; it’s just a toothbrush. Then, came the question I was secretly waiting for. “Do you even want to live together?” My heart jumped into my throat and my face flushed pink. “I mean yeah, eventually. It would just make sense.” I played it cool—like, I hadn’t been thinking about it constantly since my friend has brought it up during our “Baecation” to Connecticut. “Well Liz, he’s busy, he’s a professional, yada yada yada…but have you thought about living together? I think it would make sense. You’d get to see him more and move your relationship forward.” 

Moving us forward had been something I had wanted for a long time. See, he sees things differently than I do. His forward is an automatic jail sentence disguised as a marriage. Mine, is seeing him more than twice a week and getting introduced to people he knows as a girlfriend and not a friend. He didn’t say anything else about living together. I know he was pondering it, letting the fear sink in, letting the insecurities surface. 

Today, he was quick with his words and advised me that he was “busy” always busy. I snapped. I couldn’t help myself. It was a text fight of epic proportions. We furiously typed back and forth and I asked my coworkers to answer the phones while I expressed my feelings through emojis. But that is what it is. I will always put work on hold for him, but he never will.

Zombies, Witches, and Blackface

Oh, white people. We’re in charge, we’re on top, and we relish in creating offensive situations and then deny our racist behavior. There is no greater example of this then on Halloween, where people young and old can be found donning Geisha makeup, “terrorist” turbans, and the ever popular and always horrifying; blackface. I love Halloween. I love hearing the crisp fall leaves crunch under children’s feet as they run door to door collecting candy, I love the spooky movies playing on cable TV and in theaters, I love dressing up in funny costumes and getting absolutely plastered—but I don’t love racism and sexism. Making a joke at the expense of others takes all of the fun out of the season. If you wear blackface or dress up as a “Mexican” (yeah, most Mexicans don’t just walk around in sombreros drinking tequila, but cool bro) then you’re essentially the guy who brings rufies to the party. You are the fun ruiner, the party pooper, the ignorant twat that no one wants to sit with.

If you can’t tell, I’m pretty pissed. Moments ago I stumbled upon an article which included Instagram photos of adults and children dressed as Ray and Janay Rice for Halloween. As if blackface wasn’t already tremendously offensive, let’s just go ahead and poke fun at the very serious issue of domestic violence while we’re at it—in fact, let’s just add our children into the mix, because they’ll in no way absorb this experience and grow up to think it’s okay or even laughable to hit a woman.

What kills me about offensive Halloween costumes is that they’re meant to be funny. Most people don’t put on a headdress to be mean, they instead fail to see the pain it causes. This is because white people fall outside of the minority experience. We have never been made to feel less than, or even obsolete because of the color of our skin. White women can understand this a little more because living inside of a woman’s body means that we will experience different treatment based on our bodies, how we dress, etc. What I’m trying to say is that minorities wear their experience. They cannot hide from it. Therefore they cannot escape the oppression. As a privileged race, we get to live in a bubble wear the color of our skin does not determine our worth. White people don’t always agree with this phenomenon but it’s because we’ve never felt it. Let me give you an example; two African American teenagers bullied me on the Cota bus once. I will call them teenagers to make myself feel better but I honestly think they were just gigantic middle schoolers. Anyway, one of them threw a pencil at my head and called me a pasty cracker. Hearing that didn’t hurt. I felt confused because I had just gone tanning and therefore couldn’t have been pasty, I also didn’t know what a cracker meant, but it didn’t stick with me. What stuck with me was the look on his face when he realized that I was trying not to laugh. That boy probably thought of the one thing that hurts him the most and tried to use it on me and it fell flat. Race can’t hurt me because everything in my world has been socially constructed to favor whiteness.

If those boys had called me a “slut” or a “bitch” I would’ve had a different reaction. My stomach would have turned; I would have felt unsafe, and probably ashamed. I know how powerful sexism can be, I learned it the hard way. So when I see women dressing up as Janay Rice or even worse, men dressed as Ray Rice, carrying lifeless African American dolls behind them, I get angry. I get angry out of powerful mixture of disgust and fear. Disgust, because if these people could see the crushing effects of domestic violence on women, if they could sit next to a survivor and hear her chilling testimony of living with a monster, they would never dream of making light of it. Fear, because the more we get comfortable with domestic violence and rape—the harder it will be to fight it.

There is no room for cultural appropriation and sexism in Halloween festivities. Nobody wants to see privileged bodies dance around in cultural staples that others have been oppressed for. It’s not a good look for anyone. So please, this year when you’re choosing your costume—choose carefully. Pass over the sexy Nava Hoe’s, the Osama Bin Laden’s, and for the love of God lose the blackface. Remember that there are literally millions of other options that won’t offend women and minorities. So if you’re sitting at the computer still thinking, “well what else is there?” just stay in this weekend.

Love & Loss: How to Survive a Breakup

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Lean in ladies, we’re talking breakups. Yes—the inevitable endings that we cry over, break our phones over, and swear off the entire male gender over. I’ve been through it. I’ve been dumped in just about every way a person can be dumped. Whether it was through a text, email, or even simply being blocked on Facebook (yes, that really happened), I’ve finally learned that there was one consistency in each of these situations—I survived it and I moved on.

My latest relationship has taught me a lot about well, being in a relationship with myself. It took a slew of unsuccessful, regrettable dating experiences to finally realize that at the end of the day, the only one who really matters is me. As women, I think we tend to place too much emphasis on our romantic relationships. This happens for a variety of reasons but the most glaring of all is that we have been conditioned to seek out and obtain a prince charming and if we don’t, we’re made to feel as though we have somehow failed. I see this phenomenon all the time in both the media and in my social circles.

Last Friday afternoon I was struggling through a gruesome mixture of flu and hangover. I flopped lazily on the couch and flipped through channels looking for something mindlessly entertaining to watch. I stopped at Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason. Let me first begin by saying that Bridget Jones is a sad, hot-mess and a horrible portrayal of a single woman. Her character’s only objective throughout the entire movie is to obtain and keep a boyfriend. I’m sorry, excuse me? She is a thirty-something journalist with a promising career but the only way she finds any value in herself is through the eyes of Colin Firth. Um, sure that’s an awesome way to teach little girls how to become powerful, independent women—not.

This sub-par film from the early 2000’s is just one of thousands of examples of how main stream media manipulates us into believing that happiness can only be found in the arms of a man. Listen, I love, love. Relationships can be beautiful and uplifting but they will never complete you—you have to do that for yourself.

Every time I get dumped I cry. My life is over, I’m unloved, it’s my fault—woe is me. This is my initial reaction, but it shouldn’t be. Breaking up is bound to be painful but that doesn’t mean we need to stoop to self-loathing. Blaming oneself also comes with being broken up with for someone else or being cheated on. Listen; there is never a good reason to cheat. I have heard every excuse in the book but what it comes down to is if you don’t want to be monogamous then you can’t be in a monogamous relationship. Being left for another is a definite blow to the ego, but it’s worth remembering that, that is a reflection on their indecisiveness and not on you as a person.

When undergoing a break up you have to be tough. By no means am I advising you to ignore your emotions. If you have to cry, then cry—but avoid falling into negative patterns. When something is over, let it be over. Take all of the love you had for that person and focus it on yourself. Become your own greatest love and nurture your dreams and goals the way you would have nurtured your budding romance. The harsh reality of life is that human beings aren’t always reliable—we are an ever changing fickle minded species. However, you can control your own life and can therefore create your own stability.

Friends are also very important. They’re the ones we cry with, they wipe away our tears while filling us with tequila and pizza. They are our support system and invaluable after a breakup. Our support system can often determine whether we grow positively or shrink back into toxic cycles. In other words, although your best friend took away your phone so you couldn’t drunk dial anyone, encouraging you to hate-fuck the skeezy guy at the end of the bar is probably a bad idea. Even though she tells you it will take your mind off of your ex, it will probably just leave you reeling and craving more attention from him than before.

Remember, it isn’t over just because your relationship is. Sometimes being alone is the best thing for us. When we’re alone and away from the dizziness of love and romance we are able to clearly see the most important things in our lives—ourselves.

Spilled Milk

spilled-milk
I quit my job. I spent the last two years working my ass off for something that literally didn’t pay off. It wasn’t a smooth departure either. I’m not saying I flipped my desk or punched my boss—just imagined it. It was messy but so is everything I do. Now, I’m back in food service. Catering for a large local company. Serving shrimp skewers and steak to the Columbus elite. I hate rich people. Standing against the high top tables, spilling scotch as they wave their hands around—congratulating themselves for being better than everyone else. It’s not ideal but it pays the bills, while I’m waiting to hear back about a job in the city.

Catering isn’t ideal and neither is he. He’s waiting for me there—in the city. By waiting for me, I really mean ignoring me. We never talk anymore, and even when we do it usually ends in an argument. I’m all alone in another non-relationship. Needless to say, things aren’t all rainbows and sunshine in my world. Sometimes I feel like I’m living in a hamster cage. Endlessly climbing through the tunnels and up the latters, only to fall back down into a pile of my own shit and wood shavings. Lately, I’ve just been sticking to the wheel, running to nowhere, too proud to give up, but too tired to try harder.

I’m itching to leave but I’m also terrified. I don’t think him and I will make it so I’m trying my best not to add him into the equation. It’s really just about the money. At the end of the day, it’s always a numbers game. Unfortunately my skill set doesn’t guarantee me a livable wage. I know you don’t get into non-profit work for the money, but how awkward would be to stand in line for food stamps with the clients you serve?

I catered a business school reunion last night, it was terrible. Some man old enough to be my grandfather with the libido a frat boy told me I was pretty and placed his clammy wrinkled hand on my low back. I cringed, he smiled, and I refilled the water.

I walked into the venue with my hair knotted on top of my head—wiggling uncomfortably inside my oversized shirt. I almost threw up when I saw him. Tattooed from head to toe, slouching by the computer. The last time I saw him I was getting money from my ex for an abortion. There was fighting and screaming and his face had gotten in the way of a shoe I was throwing. When I saw him last night—we didn’t exchange hellos. He took one look at me, pulled out his phone and began to text furiously. Great—now my ex knows that I serve mini quiches to wealthy bigots for a living.

Life isn’t great—but I’m getting by the best way I can. I no longer have to deal with coworkers who are a dangerous combination of bold and stupid, I have time to write, and even though I spilled tomato jam all over a woman wearing a dress that probably cost more than the down payment on my car—I still have my dignity, for now at least.