Category Archives: sex & relationships

All of My Friends are Married

Actually, I take that back. Some, like me, are in long-term, unmarried relationships. Others are engaged. Some are single. Some are in long-distance relationships. One of my friends is in a phoneship. I asked her to clarify this a couple of weeks ago.

“A phoneship,” she started, “is basically where you talk on the phone.”

I was intrigued. Moira and I were two cocktails in at The Roosevelt Hotel, our talk switching from work to dating in LA. I’d told her how my now-boyfriend and I met in Las Vegas in 2011, before the dating appvalanche of 2012. In-person, apps, phones — it was the same mating dance, vibing to the same groove.

“So,” I began, hoping for more, “you’re going to have lunch with this guy, right?”

“Oh God, no,” she scoffed, settling way back into her old-fashioned.

“But why not?” I cajoled. “Lunch is totally safe.”

“Honestly, I don’t think either of us is ready for it,” she said, stone-cold with sincerity. “But you just gotta see how good-looking he is.”

She pulled out her phone excitedly, scrolled for a few seconds, then handed it to me. Chocolate skin, ivory smile — “good-looking” was putting it mildly. He looked like someone she could have fun with. And from what she’d further share, he seemed equal parts introspective and provocative, all without a full-on physical distraction. Perhaps there was something to this phoneship thing.

The other day, I told my boyfriend that if our friend Johannes and his girlfriend of a-year-and-a-half ended up getting married before we did, I’d break up with him. He laughed.

I guess I was joking. But when Trump was elected president last November, we had a serious conversation about the likelihood of getting married, and I can recall not liking the idea. After nearly seven years, I was just getting used to the idea of not being married to him.

“So are the two of you married?” We were at a rooftop house party, getting a pre-spring tan in the late afternoon warmth. The question, asked sweetly from a girl with peach-colored lips, removed me from my sun-and-seltzer-water buzz. My boyfriend sat in a wicker chair, similar to mine, not far from me. I felt a slight itch on my thighs.

“No,” I said. “We’re not married.” I decided to leave it at that. I didn’t really feel like mentioning that he’d been married before and was in stages of divorce while we were getting to know each other. Neither did it feel right to bring up the bitter taste of resentment when I realized that my father may not ever walk his baby girl down the aisle. Neither did I mention that I’ve literally dreamed about our wedding four or so times within the last year, and it felt kinda great. No, we’re not married, and God forbid I try to relate to a married couple, as I’d just be told, “it’s just different when you get married”.

I’ve one married friend who knows to not say that to me.

Anna Voight
Got Engaged to
Steven Broadbent
February 17, 2018 at Los Angeles, CA

The Facebook notifications aren’t all that surprising anymore. I do remember being more excited about seeing them, though. Ten seconds is about all I can muster now.

Sometimes I love weddings. I’ve caught the bouquet, twice. My boyfriend laughed each time.

I believe in love, but more importantly, I believed my mother when she told me to not get married, ever. My own mother, married to my father for forty years. “Get the dress, the ring, and have the party, but please do not feel that you need to get married,” she said. For all the times I’ve cried to her about life, I’ve decided to take that statement as her being on my team, and not declaring me a total disaster.

Guess I’m just going to go with it.

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“Love Can’t Touch Me Now” by Dragonette

Dragonette_2013

Short and sweet post about how anyone and everyone needs to listen to this song. EDM lover? Pop music fan? Have a brain and ears? You must listen to this now. 

I came across Dragonette when listening to suggested artists on Amazon Music a couple of months and have been hooked on this particular track ever since. Not only is the production great, but the lyrics are something I think most listeners can chew on and relate to:

I’ve got these big heavy stones and I’ve been piling them up In a circle round my heart, in a circle round my heart

I will be happy alone, I swear I say it out loud
With the circle ‘round my heart, with the circle ‘round my heart

I’m like a statue now, I’m not afraid
‘Cause I don’t feel a thing, and I can’t break ….

Just try to hurt me now, I’m not afraid
‘Cause I am made of things that you can’t break

Your love can’t touch me now

The idea of self-preservation in the form of figurative protection in place may or may not be healthy but it’s something worth pondering about. How much can be felt with a buffer and filter surrounding such an absorbent part of being? Who wants to live like that? How many people do, just so that they can live?

It’s fascinating just how much can be felt from such great heights in an effort not to fall. I  find myself wanting to both tear down and build up the wall with her.

Plus, this song is pretty awesome when driving  or working out. That’s a given.

“Love Can’t Touch Me Now” is off of Dragonette‘s  “Royal Blues” LP released in 2016, and — again — if you don’t know who they are, I recommend that you do yourself a solid and find out. 

Check out the track below — would love to know what you think:

Photo via Wikimedia Commons

 

Why Words Are Not Enough 

My boyfriend and I don’t really say “I love you” to each other. 

During the first couple of years in learning about each other, I thought that there was an order of things to model after. But instead of going down the “first comes love, then comes marriage” speedway, we took the scenic “first comes sharing snacks, then comes some awkward dance moves” route. 

Respecting the fact that relationships require time and work, I would like to think that this detour has contributed to a mutual familiarity and understanding beyond words that has kept us together for nearly seven years. Still, I remember having done so much research on the subject, because “I love you” meant so much to me. In sharing with others in longer relationships — including my parents, married for 39 years — I was able to realize that relationship advice isn’t relationship gospel, that one size daren’t fit all, and that words mean everything as much as they don’t. 

Recently, I learned about the neural phenomenon of semantic satiation. A concept of study since the early 20th century, it was defined in 1962 by psychologist Leon James as the temporary inability to process the meaning of a word after hearing or reading it multiple times in succession. 

It really got me thinking. There are plenty of words that I myself overuse or hear overused in conversation — “love”,”hate”, “ridiculous”, “crazy”. There are surely better words to use that aren’t completely expunged of meaning and turned into mere intensifiers.

But if all words have a tendency to lose their meaning, exactly whose fault is it? Our brains for letting it happen, the words merely for existing, or one’s intention? Is it even that big of a deal?

Are you confused yet? Welcome to my world.

I just need to shut up sometimes. We all do. We need to read more, write more, learn, and listen. Turn off our brains for a second and not force or rush through a moment. You know, the simple stuff that’s not at all simple. Then maybe we can finally know what it means to understand and love each other.

All I know is that when I hugged my boyfriend  this morning after learning we’ll soon be proud parents of the SNES Classic, he held onto me just a little bit longer — and that was all the “I love you” I needed. 

Social Media Makes the World Small. It’s Not That Deep

world

My good friend belongs to the same dance troupe as the now-wife of my first lover, and has been for a year or so now. I know this thanks to some photos my friend has shared on Instagram. (C’est la vie.)

This past weekend, I went to a bar downtown and friended a guy who runs in the same musical circle as the childhood neighbor I’d play four-handed piano with on Tuesday nights after Bible study. (Just a happy coincidence.)

Just this afternoon at my day job, I came across the portfolio of someone whose name I immediately recognized from work I follow on social and creative media platforms. (Well, all right, then.)

I realize that these interactions pack a little less punch than, say, going to the deli or car wash and bumping into someone who just happens to be a friend of a friend of someone you used to know. However, these instances were just intimate enough that I’d be lying if I claimed that I wasn’t the least bit affected. But due to the modern web of social media, it only makes sense that these worlds would collide directly, and at times violently, into mine.

A few years ago, I might have viewed the above occurrences as chance, or maybe even a sign of the past being manifested as a present branching-off of a celestial event. I wouldn’t be the only one, either — perhaps you would feel similarly. With the wealth of exciting activity occurring in the universe this month that will continue to be observed from our vantage point on Earth, it’s only understandable.

But let’s really think about it: Anyone can be found on the internet. As of March 2017, statistics suggest that at least half of the world’s population has access to the internet. Interactions such as the ones above are really not that random. It’s just that individually-drawn, personal associations are powerful enough in convincing people otherwise.

As for me, right now, I subscribe to the fact that the world is small as a result of the internet’s far reach — nothing more, or less.

It’s kind of fun, fascinating, maybe even thrilling. But it’s also really not that deep.

Yes, You’ve Settled 

settled

“Even if you’re on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there.” — Will Rogers

In 2001, I had a Samsung flip phone, a 5G iPod nano, and a Dell Inspiron laptop running a Windows XP operating system. That was all I could ask for, and as a struggling college student, it made more sense to hold onto what I had until it either snapped in half or melted enough AC adaptors to render it useless.

Soon after graduation, however, smart devices were experiencing a massive boom, so I decided to move onto something new. I totally could have got another flip phone, as they were and are still being manufactured. But for me, it was time for me to join the new and ultra-improved tech stream the whole world had found itself thrust into. And so I did, essentially trading three devices for one.

Now, new tech is one of those things that — while increasing exponentially — is at most everyone’s fingertips in the form of a smartphone. With constant release of new products, updates, and features, it can a challenge to keep up — but either you do, or you don’t. The choice, relatively, is yours.

This can apply to anything you can think of, from a film or music genre to a sex position. It’s great to know what you like — but being so sure runs the all-too real risk of being frozen in time. And not in a classic, timeless sense, either. More like a primitive relic.

I’ve been feeling this lately and have been making an effort to implement simple strategies to be more in tune with the outside world instead of humming along, ignorantly blissful within mine:

1. Listening to new music. This has probably has been the easiest and most accessible way to keep stay in the now, because — while I may question some of the latest trends in popular music — it gives me some insight into what is “hot” or “fresh”, therefore leaving me feeling somewhat hot and fresh. It’s also given me more insight into how my parents and other adults felt about Top 40 music when I was a teen during the late nineties. (Sorry, Mom and Pop.)

Today I stumbled upon Julia Michaels while reading an article from BBC that piqued my interest. A songwriter-turned-pop-artist, she reminded me a bit of Tove Lo, who I can’t get enough of. So I figured, why not give her a chance? Michaels’ debut mini-album “Nervous System” was released just this past Friday, and if you like pop music with a little twist, you’ll probably like this. (Saucy types, stick around for “Pink”.)

2. Reading articles from start to finish. Like, actually reading them and not merely reacting to a headline.

Cool story: I came across a Vanity Fair article on tonight’s Game of Thrones episode (look out for spoilers) and I had geared up to tell them off via Twitter based on my strong reaction to the headline via Google search. (I actually did, but deleted the tweet once I actually read the article. Oops.)

Say what??

Just saying, we’re all guilty of falling into sticky af clickbait and we should know better by now but, you know, we don’t.

3. Hanging out with people. Whether online or in-person (ideally the latter), social engagement is where the magic happens. Having turned 32 this year, I feel very “old” sometimes, and yeah, while not a teenager, my mind feels like me, which is as only old as I feel. And now the cliche phrase makes sense, whereas it used to be just words.

Sharing ideas, interests, coming to a common ground, etc. keeps the blood flowing to the appendages, as it were. Keeps the neurons alight and all that jazz. Going where people are may take a little effort, but more often than not, it’s worth it.

Don’t get me wrong: having that comfort feeling that makes you feel how you felt the first time doing anything is one of the best things out there. Like that cozy sleeping-in feeling on a rainy day, being comfortable is absolutely needed. Just remember that being too comfortable can run the risk of mental and emotional atrophy from staying in the same place for too long. 

Besides, new experiences are always out there, waiting for that first time feeling to be uncovered. Rarely will they be where you’ve been a million times before.

So get moving.

Life Lessons Learned from My Eyebrows

I have many running comments involving my eyebrows: “I won’t leave the apartment without putting on my eyebrows.” “[Such and such movie] was so sad that I cried my eyebrows off.” Et cetera, et cetera.

It’s true, though; my eyebrows have take a little bit of precedence largely because my face is the first thing that people tend to focus on.

In the beginning, everything I learned about my eyebrows was a direct result of Megan Fox. Transformers was the perfect summer movie of 2007. I will never forget it, giant soft drink in hand, cushy theater seats in an icy air-conditioned theater. There was nowhere else I’d rather have been than watching the first of four highly unnecessary Michael Bay films while still in the demographic to do so. 

And yet, while most everyone else was fawning over Megan’s body and hair, I was absolutely transfixed by her eyebrows. Their existence  literally changed life. I had to have them.

At the time, however, I’d been the guinea pig of one too many hair removal experiments gone awry, so that wasn’t about to happen any time soon. Now, ten years and some follicle recovery later, my eyebrows have taken a much more convincing center stage role on my face.

That said, there was a time where I didn’t really worry about that sort of thing – my looks, that is. While there was a conscious effort to look presentable as the occasion called for it, there was no obsession over it. I won’t say that I’m obsessed with my brows now, but I do care enough to actually try to not leave the house without them being defined, styled, what have you. (That somewhat-joke at the outset? Obviously based on truth.)

That said — I was in my sister’s wedding 15 years ago without eyebrows. I worked my first job (and other jobs thereafter) without them. I had a very active social life, rich friendships, and started dating my current long-term partner without them. I went to nightclubs without them, did spoken word and won awards of recognition without them, got a college degree without them. I may very well have started my career without them.

Sure, they may help me feel a little better about my appearance in general, but what will happen if there’s no more brow pencil and powder, or if my skin won’t take to microblading, or something else similar? What will happen when I am forced to work with what I have without any frills?Something to that effect is going to happen at some point, and I sure as hell wasn’t born to have bushy brows.

Like most people, I tend to fixate on things that really have no bearing on actual ability and worth. Appearance is nice and all, but it’s not everything. The energy and brainpower you bring to the table? I’d wager to say that’s everything. To quote Tori Amos (so sue me; I went on a YouTube binge the other day after she’d announced her Native Invader world tour), “You’re just an empty cage if you kill the bird.” The outside doesn’t matter if there’s nothing inside to keep it running.

Sometimes I have to remind myself what I’m here for, and while I may not always know, I can assume it’s for a far better reason than appealing to my vanity. Shout out to Wet n’ Wild’s $0.99 brow pencil and e.l.f. translucent powder just the same.

What do you think? Let’s continue this conversation in the comments, and as always, feel free to touch base on Twitter.

3 Things That Happened When I Stopped Drinking Alcohol

I feel that everyone has said this to some extent, but I used to be a pretty big drinker. I’m not sure if it was way to reduce social anxiety, a coping mechanism, or something to do to pass the time (or all three) — but whatever it was, it was getting to be too much in my life. And so, I stopped.

Of course it wasn’t as easy as that, but I was getting tired of feeling like crap. After a real heart-to-heart and realizing that I was poisoning my body, it was time to make a decision. If my body was so hell bent on rejecting the stuff, maybe it was time for me to consciously do so in return.

So I went for a little over 30 days without drinking. Here’s what happened:

1. I lost weight. I’ve been struggling to lose “the last 10” for years and have been on every restrictive diet and exercise plan out there – really. But nothing, I repeat, nothing broke the plateau more effortlessly than not drinking. I am now comfortably 5 to 8 pounds less than what I was, just by making that one change.

2. I lost some friends. Happy hour and bottomless mimosa brunches are not part of my social routine anymore. While I see some friends a lot less, I’m not upset by it, nor am I surprised. But I did have that moment where I thought, “Wow. Yeah, that actually happened.” See, you hear about it happening – and then it actually happens to you. I consider my friends to be my friends, and still love spending time together and sharing experiences when we can. But things are different, and it’s okay.

3. I saved money. So, rent is due today, and I’ve had the kind of week where I’ve been putting off looking at my checking account (you know the kind)… and I was actually positively surprised when I checked it this morning. Now, I’m not filthy rich by any means, but since drinking considerably less these days, my bank account has had considerably more in it, with relatively little effort.

Here’s a bonus point that goes without saying, yet ties into all of the above: I feel better overall. Right before I made the switch, I found that I was spending more Sundays in bed recovering from Saturday nights out. Monday mornings post-Sunday Funday were getting to be really taxing physically (water retention, brain function, dizziness), and emotionally (self-worth, “Why do I keep doing this to myself?”). Whenever it came time to tackle the work week, I was always unprepared. I felt like an imposter, constantly fighting the tides.

Sometimes it bothers me when people say, “Oh, I could never quit alcohol, I enjoy it too much.” I felt that way, too, except now I say, “I’ll have a club soda and juice”, or even sometimes, “….yeah, sure, I’ll have a beer.”

See, alcohol is not like air or water – we actually can live without it. When going out or hanging with friends, alcohol is no longer the default, or prerequisite. I can make the choice even when surrounded by it. I could absolutely live without alcohol – I did! – and I have a much better relationship with it as a result.

You know about a-ha moments, right? I had one recently when I was grocery shopping. The wine and spirits section is at the front of the grocery store I go to, very hard to miss. I used to buy a new bottle of vodka for the freezer when I ran out, sort of like when I ran out of toilet paper or soap. But more and more, with each visit, I found myself rarely heading to the section. It happened on its own, perhaps subconsciously. Perhaps it was time.

Sometimes I think that I’ll do it again – 30 days without drinking. But more so I think I’ll continue what I’m doing: that is, living a life that revolves around friends and family, not drink specials. I’m just looking to do and be, and all that jazz. I will have a Guinness at an Irish pub, or a glass of wine at a fancy dinner, because I know it won’t take me over anymore. It will, like my life, be about the richness of the people and the occasion, and not a routine that once took hold.