Friday, December 7, 2012

My Deepest, Darkest Secret

When I graduated with my bachelor's degree, I was excited. I knew that I had achieved something great, and that with the knowledge I had gained that I would be able to make the world a better place. I also knew had a secret: I had failed. My failure did not occur in a classroom or determining future career prospects, but in my inability to snag a spouse. But, my secret didn't stop there. Three years later, I became the first woman in my family to earn a Master's degree. I had never felt so proud in my life, but that joy was far overshadowed by my shame. I may have had a diploma in my hand, but that hand still didn't have a ring on it.

In five months I will be turning 30 and my dirty little secret is beginning to feel like a noose around my neck.  I mean, I'm actively dating. I have zero-to-negative interest in having children. I have several comrades-in-arms who are in the singles war trench with me. My friends (who are mostly married) tell me, "You're young, enjoy it, this is one of the best times of you life!" But why doesn't it feel that way? Why do I feel a little embarrassed when I check both the "age 25-29" and "single, never married"boxes on a survey?

When I discuss this topic with my straight, single-lady friends, they often talk about meddling family member, biological clocks, career paths, Sex and the City, but I often find that I am along in this sentiment of failure. Upon comparison, my friends and I have had very similar experiences: dated in college, but nothing serious (mainly because there was no one to be serious about), a few good boyfriends, a few not-so-good boyfriends, and a whole lot of are-we-friends-or-are-we-more-than-friends-and-we-may-have-made-out-once-friends who are boys. So what gives? Why do I feel so alone in my loneliness? I'm the only Christian in this group of women. 

Growing up, my mom and dad told me the stories of  how they, my grandparents, and all of my aunts and uncles met at York College, ACU, Lipscomb, etc. (all small, private, Churches of Christ institutions) fell in love and lived happily ever. Though I know my parents' goal was to share with me my faith heritage and how we all became a family, what I inadvertently began to learn at a very young age was that the purpose of going to college was to find a husband and in order to be a member of the family, I was expected to do so.
This null-curriculum was reinforced in Sunday school as I learned how Ruth, one of the greatest heroines of the Bible, practically prostituted herself for the purpose of becoming Boaz's wife and how Sarah spent most of her life in mourning because she was barren and was only able to be joyful when she finally conceived a son in her 90s.  It continued as I transitioned into Youth Group in middle school and high school. I found myself participating in young ladies' Bible Studies complete with pink NIVs and countless lessons entitled, "How to be a Good Christian Woman: The Wife of Noble Character." So prevalent was Proverbs 31:10-31 in my youth group's curriculum that I began to think of it as a checklist. Once, as a Sophomore in college while knitting a red scarf I recalled, "When it snows, she has no fear for her household; for all of them are clothed in scarlet" (Proverbs 31:21), and thought to myself "I've got this verse down, I guess that means I'm one step closer to finding my husband."

And though my undergraduate years were spent as a Biblical Text major in which I spent my days writing papers on contextual criticism and social-histortial impacts on the modern-day church, I spent most of my evenings wondering what was wrong with me in that at the age of 19 I had not yet met my soul mate. No matter how much I prayed, no matter how much I read my Bible, no matter how many chapels I attended, my desire to become a wife was left unfulfilled.

Christmas and summer vacations were spent with extended family members asking me, "How are you supposed to find a Christian man if not a Christian College? Do you want me to introduce you our new youth pastor? He's single!" Filling out the FASFA involved the commentary, "You know, if you would just get married, I wouldn't have to pay for you anymore." Family friends would ask, "How do you expect to support yourself if you're not married? I mean, what will you do if you get a flat tire?" Though these genuinely concerned parties had good intentions, they simply reinforced that not only was I failing as a Christian woman, I was a becoming a burden.

Towards the end of my senior year, the amount of wedding invitations I received far outweighed the amount of graduation announcements.

Years have passed since those days and during that time I have been able to accomplish many a great thing, but at night, I as get ready for bed, in which I sleep alone, I often see that frightened 19-year old woman staring me in the mirror. She's not frightened because she's not found a spouse, she's frightened because she has failed to be come a good Christian woman, she has failed to become a wife.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

10 Reasons Why I Love My New Haircut

10. Cosmo says that every woman should cut her hair super short before she turns. . . ahem. . . 30!
9. I just walked around town for three hours in the rain and new once did I have to worry about my hair getting wet.
8. It looks even better when it's wind-blown.
7. According to one friend, "I totally have the bone structure for it." So few women can pull it off, I mean, it would be selfish of me not to, right?
6. Cutting my hair means I lost weight. I mean, every little bit counts, right?
5. Winter no longer equals static cling and hat hair.
4. I finally look my age. . . no random parent that is asking me for directions, I'm not a student here.
3. I can sleep in 20 minutes longer because I no longer have to build in style-time in my morning routine.
2. I feel both sassy and classy. I'm sure Audrey and Jackie would approve.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

This is my confession

After much thought and introspection, and being that there has been a four-month lull in the 'ole love life, I have had a lot of time to do so, and have come to the following conclusion: nerds make much better lovers. Blame it on the fact that I just moved to Cambridge, Nerd Central USA. Blame it on the fact that I've always found verbal sparring as a much stronger aphrodisiac than a six-pack (I'm an arms and chest girl myself). Blame it on the fact that I think playing a game of Trivial Pursuit is far more fun than going out and getting my drink on, although the combination of the two: bonus! Hello, my name is Michelle, and I'm a nerdoholic.

So, How did I come to such a conclusion might you ask? And what kind of nerd are we talking about? What is my stance on pocket protectors and briefcases? All valid inquiries.

I've always been boy crazy and got an early start back in kindergarten (Beau Thompson, if you're reading this, a tip of the hat to you). This mental illness has been both a blessing and a curse. I like to thing that I have rather good taste when it comes the male sex and have been associated with some great guys, but sometimes the craziness kicks in and the closest (can't say what I really want to say because I'm sure my Mom is going to read this, so insert your own noun for a not so quality fella) will have to do. It's a phase really, or at least that's what I'm choosing to call New Year's Eve. That being said, I have had encounters with a wide variety of gents, and here are my thoughts on all of them (names have been protected to change the guilty).

The Average Joe: Eh. That's exactly what you get, average. Not bad, but not great either. The problem with Joe is that he doesn't know he's average. I know, I know, every person is special in their own way, his just happens to be like just about every other guy who thinks a great, creative date is dinner and a movie. I'm not knocking Joe, I'm just not endorsing him either.

The Athlete: Ugh. Sure, eye candy is always a plus, but at the end of the day, if you can't carry on a conversation without incorporating a sports analogy, game over. I've date a few jocks, and even had brief encounter with a professional athlete, and let me tell ya, just cause their good on the field doesn't mean their good everywhere else. Dear Jock, Just cause you're ripped does not mean that you're automatically an awesome kisser, cuddler, listener, etc, but before I break up with you, would you please first do a few push ups with your shirt off?

The Nice Guy: Aww. It's true, nice guys do finish last. Why? Because they're too busy being nice to notice that other guys are beating them to the goal line. Don't get me wrong, I love a man who treats others well and believes that chivalry is not dead, but as a woman, sometimes you want a guy who will fight for you, will stand up for himself, will be a bad a**. Speaking of which. . .

The Bad Boy: Yum. In the illustrious words of Michele Pfeiffer, sometimes a girl needs a c-o-o-l-r-i-d-e-r. Yes, a motorcycle riding/vintage American heavy metal driving, tattooed, leather-clad, dark, mysterious, need I go on? However, at the end of the day, the Bad Boy is really just another form of the Average Joe who is dealing with some repressed issues from childhood. Awesome for the rebound, not so great for a life partner.

Assorted Others: The Musician/Artist, The Frat Boy, The Hipster, The Workaholic/A-Type. All subdivisions of the aforementioned types of men.

And finally, The Nerd: Yay! Now, to clarify, I'm not talking about the nerd circa Saved by the Bell, or the guy who spends so much time playing Settlers that he truly believes he can build his own civilization, but the boy who feels just as manly finishing the Sunday NYT crossword as he would had he rebuilt an engine. Sure he probably has an unhealthy obsession with Star Wars, but at least he's busy refining his light saber skills instead of schtupping another woman. And even though he probably isn't spending his time pouring over great works of literature, at least you know he can read that Wired magazine and actually understand it enough to make sure he can provide you with all the tech support you'll ever need. Let's not skip over the fact that he reads. Reader equals thinker which equals can actually hold his own in a debate for the sum of HOT!

Here's the wonderful thing about nerds: they can't believe they're actually dating someone so they do their best not to screw it up. I know that sounds terrible, but it's true. Men who get a lot of action don't think they have to work for it, thus minimizing their ability to fulfill all of a woman's needs. Most nerds don't have a long rap sheet of exes and that all inexperience lends itself to being extra caring, extra romantic and extra listening which leads to excellent tending to.

So the next time you see a skinny guy wearing glasses and reading a graphic novel, just think, he may be your own personal Han Solo.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Guilty Pleasure

After waiting over a year for season III and IV of The Tudors (please assume that is written with a staunch British accent) to be available through streaming on Netflix, I am proud to say that I have tore through the latter part of good ole’ H to the power of VIII’s life in no time. And by that I mean 5 days, potentially less. I found Showtime’s presentation of the King’s sordid affairs a bit anachronous, but that may be cause I skipped over most of the political, war torn country, establishing a new denomination, blah blah blah parts and went straight to the good stuff. I’m sure I missed some significant stuff that would explain why we burned through three wives in the series’ last instillation, but whateves, there’s always Wikipedia to fill in the gaps.

We, Americans that is, remember King Henry VIII not for being responsible for establishing the Church of England, which in turn almost caused several wars, both civil and international, years of feuding, bloodshed and ultimately the overall decline of religion in the UK, and his fathering of Queen Elizabeth is merely a footnote in most of the Tudor’s family lore. Oh, and Bloody Mary is in there somewhere. Speaking of, I could go for one right about now. And I digress.

Henry’s the British version of Elizabeth Taylor, that is with more velour track suits and less eyeliner. Now I’m not knocking on Henry or his ability to be a good king; but I think Henry should have sought out professional help was for his taste in women. Henry, homeslice, have you seen those portraits? None of them are lookers. Did you just line up all the single Annes and Catherines and cast lots? And for that matter, why buy the cow if you’re getting the milk for free. . . and if you’re getting the milk that easily, someone probably else is getting some samplings too. I mean, some women may find 300+ lbs and malodorous abscesses sexy, but I’m guessing they are few and far between.

So, poor Catherine of Aragon, Queen of England for nearly 20 years was divorced so that her hubby could openly hook-up with Anne Boleyn and her sister from time to time. Gross, wait I mean, it was a Great Matter. Anne got the axe, literally, for adultery and witchcraft-apparently she weighed more than a duck. Next up was Jane Seymour who was quickly wedded, bedded and knocked-up before Anne’s body was laid to rest in an unmarked grave. Janie gave birth to Henri’s only legit male heir and then soon after gave up the ghost. Back on the Anne bandwagon, Henry el Ocho sends out for his protestant mail-order bride. He instantly declares his distaste with her and annuls the marriage. Over several games of poker and mulled wine later they become friends, probably with benefits. He then chamber’s-up with Catherine Howard, a cousin of wifey number two and a lady in waiting of Cleaves. She gets cut off, along with her two young male suitors (who also get a variety of things cut off) less than two years into their marriage.

Despite all his efforts, Hank's still just a dirty old man without an heir.  Henry dies with Catherine Parr by his side. 

Well kids, what is the moral of the story of Hal, Catherine, Anne, Jane, Anne, Catherine and Catherine? Keep it in your pants. It always ends poorly.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Hot Mess

So, this week I added another layer to my already awkward sunburn by spending three days on sunny Catalina Island. For those of you have never ventured out to these celestial shores, be prepared to be awed . . . and ripped off. It's 80 clams to rent a golf cart for three hours, cash only, as is almost everything else on the isle. However, it is so beautiful and feels like you're crashing the set of LOST rather than walking around LA County. With 4,000 people residing in Avalon, land is scarce, so everything, including the cars, are miniature. For the first time in my life I felt like I belonged.

Any who, instead of staying in a local hotel, our group opted for the road less traveled (literally) and spent three days camping out. Now, I grew up camping and can build a fire with the best of them, but in my years as a grown up, I have somehow garnered a reputation for being, dare I say it, middle maintenance. Just because I like to wear dresses, drink Starbucks, and brush my teeth on a regular basis does not make me one of those girls, right?

My maintenance level recently became a topic of conversation at lunch with some of my colleagues, and I decided that this would be the perfect opportunity to prove them all wrong. All I packed for our three-day romp in the wilderness was a pair of shorts, tee shirts, socks, undies (or course) and a toothbrush and toothpaste. No make-up. No cell phone charger. No frills: au natural. Side note: the ironic thing is that those who made the most fun of me were the ones who brought the most stuff.

It was nice to be free of the burdens of this man's world, until around three o'clock on Wednesday afternoon, about the same time that our tour bus pulled into the airport. . . which was full of LA County firemen. Around thirty, to be exact. And, bonus, there's apparently some sort of law that requires firemen to not only be brave souls, but very attractive ones at that.

Normally I would be thrilled to be surrounded by so many strapping young men who can wield an axe and rescue me from a tree (just in case), but my lack of showering and my outdoorsesque garb squelched my usual go-get-'em attitude. I was a mess, a hot mess. "Hot being the operative word," one of my lady RAs told me. Still, my timidity would not be overcome, and though I did a good amount of eye-flirting from underneath the brim of my baseball cap, I failed to let my womanly wilds take flight.

I guess it's one of life's cruel jokes, but at least I proved my point.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Red Hot

As I sit on my couch examining my very awkward sunburn after sitting outside for four hours watching my students graduate, I find that I am not saddened by the end of an era nor excited about the things to come, but rather disappointed, nay upset by what just unfolded before my eyes. I understand that attending a graduation by the beach brings with it some sentiment of being laid-back, but that does not lend itself to being appropriate to mill around during the ceremony or being so loud that the names being read cannot be heard by the parents who paid $200,000 dollars and put in four years just to be there. What ever happened to good manners?

That being said, the real reason why my melanin is so red is that I have spent a good portion of the day watching women, both young and old, trot around in heels that they have no business wearing. First of all, everyone knows that graduation is outside on Alumni. Since this is in regards to academia, let me break it down in a simple linear equation: graduation=outside, outside=grass, grass+heels=disaster, therefore graduation does not equal heels.

Now, I realize that this is coming from a woman who wore heels walking around a track for a philanthropy fund-raiser, but at least I knew I could hack it with the terrain in question. This morning I chose for a dressy flip-flop, appropriate for both the occasion and setting. Ladies, this is a graduation, not a time to bust out the six-inch, zipper in the back, peep-toed goin' to da club heels. And please, if you do choose to look like a lady who looks like she knows how to have a good time, at least please learn how to walk in them. Really, when you walk around with your shoulders slumped forward and your knees locked like a caveman, excuse me, cave lady, it's counteractive to the whole point of the stiletto. Did Audrey and Tim Gunn teach us nothing?

For those of you who chose to got the wedge route, I commend your efforts, but when the wedge itself is thinner than your foot, it defeats the purpose. Plus, wedges are just ridiculous anyway, but that's a whole other Oprah.

All I know is that Fashion 101 should be part of every Gen Ed curriculum.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Elite Status

I can't believe that it's taken me this long to get around to writing about this, but regardless (please note: irregardless is not a word and conceptually would be redundant anyway), I am proud to announce that I am a GOLD Member at Starbucks. That's right, I have gone to Starbucks so man times that they saw fit to reward me with a card named after a member of the periodic table. Ladies and gentlemen, I have arrived.

Okay, so I know that this is going to sound incredibly pretentious, but it's a pretty awesome feeling to stroll into the coffee shop and be greeted by name by the barista and then asked by the person behind the register, "The usual this morning? One pump or two?" Before I can even answer, the barista comments, "Don't worry about it, I've already got it." As I shuffle into the line full of agitated addicts waiting for their fix, I hear, "Hot coffee on the bar for Michelle." The employee behind the register looks at me, winks and with a smirk tells me to have a great day. I step out of the queue, garnering incredulous stares from those around me, grab my grande, non-fat one pump toffee nut misto from the bar, thank the barista and go about my day. It never gets old. However, this morning as I caught my reflection in the shining gold star on the front of my personally issued card, I thought to myself, "have I peaked too soon?"

Is this the apex of my life, to reach elite status at a international coffee house chain? What's next? What could possibly top this? Will I ever be able to reach such another high and lofty goal? Am I destined to become like one of those child stars whose 15 minutes of fame comes and goes before they have reached puberty and then spend the rest of their lives trying to regain their long-gone greatness?

I found myself in this existential tailspin for approximately three minutes, or at least until the traffic light turned green. While walking through my front door, I felt compelled to put my thoughts onto paper, and by that I mean playing on Facebook for a little bit and then typing on my keyboard. I have yet to come to a conclusion, but after searching for flights for a trip to Texas. . . Admiral's Club, here I come!