I wrote my previous post about Bumble on Friday, and then on Saturday morning I started wondering whether I hadn't been a little too dismissive of my date. It takes time to get to know someone, and surely it's better to let feelings develop slowly rather than be controlled by initial gut reactions.
October was a crazy month. Too much work, too little time.
So for a little escape, I started messing around on Bumble (an online dating app). Mostly just to see if I felt ready to meet someone new after splitting up with my husband this past spring. I'm pretty happy being single right now, but there are definitely times when I would love to go out for a drink or a movie. I've started making some new friends in the area to do exactly that, but occasionally hanging out with a guy sounds nice too.
Dating apps (or even apps for that matter) didn't exist when I first started dating my husband back in college. So my experience with Bumble is totally new, and I have to say it's a little horrifying and a little addictive. I really dislike this idea of swiping "left" (rejected) or "right" (interested) based on only a few pictures and maybe a sentence or two of information. And then there's the volume of people on the app. It can make finding someone nice feel like searching for a needle in a haystack. So I've had to come up with some "deal breakers" to make the process of a little easier.
Here's what will cause me to swipe left:
-If you're smoking a cigar
-Wearing boat shoes
-Posing without a shirt.
-Posing for a selfie in front of Machu Pichu.
I think the guys who do this think they're really unique and cool for having visited there, but they have no idea how insanely common it is on the app. Seriously, probably 1 in every 10 profiles I look at has a selfie from the exact same spot at Machu Pichu. No shade to the place, I'm sure it's amazing, but when that many people start doing the same thing - I start getting a douchey vibe.
Also, I don't think traveling inherently makes you an interesting or good person. Sure, I like to travel, but there are other things I like to do too. Yet for some people travel is a really high value for them. So clearly, we wouldn't be very compatible. That's kind of my real reasoning behind rejecting those Machu Pichu-style travel pictures I keep seeing.
I asked a guy friend who's on Bumble what it's like from the male perspective. He said way too many women post images of themselves using snap chat filters. Frankly, that sounds worse than too many Machu Pichu pics. What a strange world we live in.
But you'd be proud. I messaged a few guys and have gone on one date already. He seemed perfectly nice, polite, cute, smart, etc., but I have to say, I didn't "feel" anything. By any measure, the date was a success - we talked non-stop for 2.5 hours. But afterwards, I felt like if I never saw him again, I wouldn't care. I didn't dislike him, I just felt indifferent, even though on paper we had a lot in common.
Maybe that means I'm not quite ready yet.
Do you use Bumble? What are your deal breakers? I mean, it's a superficial app, so you're going to have superficial deal breakers, right?
Do you ever have those moments when out of the blue your brain remembers something that is so intensely embarrassing you have this cringing reaction that's almost physically (and certainly emotionally/mentally) painful?
That happens to me about 5 times a day. For no reason at all, something will happen in my life that triggers a memory where I somehow embarrassed myself, and it takes everything I have to push past it and not let myself crumple into a ball of shame. The Lexapro has helped a lot with these episodes, they're much less intense, but they do still occasionally happen.
Well I had an epiphany last night that these shame memories are uniformly characterized by one thing: instances where I wasn't perfect. Which is so stupid.
I know I'm a perfectionist, but I don't want to be one. And I'm actually pretty good about controlling it when it comes to my work. But for whatever reason, I can't seem to do the same when it comes to my perfectionism about social situations. These cringe-worthy memories almost always have to do with a time where I misplayed a social event or interaction and feel like I've embarrassed myself.
Cognitive behavior therapy helps in reminding myself that just because I feel a certain way doesn't make it fact. In all likelihood, I'm overthinking these events and didn't embarrass myself at all. But even though these episodes aren't quite as bad as they used to be, they're still there. And I had a thought - maybe I'm going about this all wrong? Maybe instead of trying to tame my brain purely with psychology and SSRIs, I should also make an effort to have a little fun with it.
Like instead of struggling (and failing) to never remember an embarrassing memory, when it happens, maybe I should have a little laugh about it? And then I thought, hey! I have the perfect venue to do that! What better place to tell silly stories than on my blog?
So here's one:
When I was 17, I applied for a job at my local library. I aced the interview, and then they took me out to the stacks with a cart full of books and left me alone to put them in dewey decimal order.
Somehow, I interpretted this instruction to mean I should put the books back into the shelves. So I went around the library, putting the books away, feeling like .a boss. And then about half-way through, I realized I had made a grave error as it occured to me that they had only wanted me to put the books "in order" (as had been clearly stated) within the cart. Like, just shuffle the books around until they were in dewey decimal. And I couldn't fix my mistake, because I had no memory of which books I had been putting away.
So I sheepishly confessed my error to the librarian as soon as she returned and I'll never forget the look on her face: just dumbfounded that I had been unable to follow such a simple instruction, and had now likely mis-shelved several books, making her life even harder.
Needless to say, I didn't get the job. Usually if I get an interview, I smash it out of the park, but this was one instance where I just totally fucked it up.
And for the longest time, it was this embarrassing memory for me. Like how had I managed to misunderstand her extremely clear instructions that badly? I think I was just a little too excited. And I was definitely bummed I didn't get the job, because it was kind of my dream at that age to work in a library.
Ironically, one of my best friends applied for that same job, unbeknownst to either of us, and got it. And then she hated it! Said it was the most frustrating thing to spend all this time putting books away in the kids section only to have them ripped out again a matter of minutes later by a mob of preschoolers.
And this hardly relates to my story, but my friend ended up quitting that job in a matter of weeks and started working at the pet store across the road. And she told them from the very beginning that she could work every day, except this one Friday a month later. The manager said that was fine. And my friend reminded her of this date, several times. Meanwhile, she made all this effort to learn about the different animals they were selling, which she said was really hard because there was a lot to know, but the manager required it so she could answer any questions from customers. Well then that Friday rolls around and my friend sees that she's been scheduled to work that day. So she tells the manager, reminding her again that this is the ONE day she can't work. And the manager fires her!
I didn't learn about this latter half of the story that has almost nothing to do with me until several years after it happened, but I think it makes my failed job interview even funnier in retrospect. Like if I hadn't messed up so badly, maybe my friend wouldn't have gotten the library job, to then quit it, and eventually get fired from a pet store for a pretty bullshit reason.
By the way, my friend went on to have a very successful career in the Air Force and is now married with two beautiful kids, so it all worked out and we laugh about this. So it's really not an embarrassing thing at all. If it hadn't happened, we wouldn't be able to make fun of ourselves about it.
So this is what I'm going to try to do more often. Instead of cringing about similar memories, I'm going to make effort to laugh.
If you have an embarrassing/funny stories, please feel free to share in the comments!
Part 2 of the Ice Girl is the continuing story of Lora, an American who has just left her Czech hockey star boyfriend and gone to stay with friends in Russia. Promising herself she's done dating hockey players, she finds that's easier to say than to do, especially now that she's living with two KHL players. Here's the book blurb:
Lora's new life in Russia is going about as well as can be expected. She's picking up the language and enjoying her job as an ice girl with the local KHL team. But living with two hockey players (and one in particular) is getting to be difficult. One minute she and Lev are fighting like cats and dogs, and then the next it feels like they're ready to jump into bed. But what Lora really wants to know is what Lev is doing playing in the KHL in the first place. Has he been drafted by the NHL? And if so, why isn't he playing there? Find out in Part 2 of The Ice Girl, a serialized novel, published chapter by chapter. New releases every two weeks.
If you like ice hockey and will they or won't they romances, then check out Part 2 of the Ice Girl: When in Russia. It's just $0.99 on Amazon, but if you sign up for my mailing list (top of the page) I'll let you know when I'm running free downloads. If you read it and happen to enjoy, I would so appreciate a review because it really helps my author ranking. Thanks!
(If you missed Part 1, you can find it here.)
So Trump and his lackeys seem incapable of sending adequate and timely disaster relief to Puerto Rico (or possibly, they just don't care), which means we've got to step up and do our part.
I just donated to UNICEF, who are distributing water purification kits and sanitary supplies to residents of Puerto Rico affected by Hurricane Maria. Given that the island may be without power for several months, clean water is going to be an issue for a long time. Disease outbreaks from unsafe drinking water conditions are often where the most deaths occur after disasters, which is why aid workers prioritize sanitation when establishing shelters and relief. You can help too by donating to UNICEF. 90% of your money goes directly to helping children in need and these funds are being channeled specifically to Puerto Rico.
Thanks for donating whatever you can.
Good morning! How're you doing? Lots has been going on with me lately, the most exciting of which was I saw Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie give a talk (pictured above). No surprise, she was amazing.
I've also been reading lots of books, flipping back and forth between what I feel like reading (The Door into Summer, by Heinlein, which was meh) and what we're discussing in my book club. Right now that's White is for Witching by Helen Oyeyemi, and once I got passed the confusing prologue I've been completely sucked into the story, which is about pica, twins, and family ghosts in a bed and breakfast in Dover. It's very gothic in the best sense of the word. Be on the lookout for a review soon.
My other big news, in case you missed it last week, is that I published the opening story (chapter?) to my serialized novel, The Ice Girl, on Amazon, which is exciting. I'm editing part 2 now and will post it next Sunday, in case anyone's in the mood for a story about moving to Russia and working as an ice girl in the KHL (Russia's version of the NHL hockey league). I like to think of it as When Harry Met Sally crossed with a slightly more serious version of Slapshot. It's got a will-they or won't-they romance going on, and if that's your thing, you might check it out. Available to download for just $0.99.
Ok, but on to what I really wanted to talk about, which is the amazing Adichie.
I love going to author talks because they tend to be some of the most eloquent, interesting people on the planet. I guess that makes sense when you make your living on words, and Adichie was no exception. She talked about everything, from her first novel Purple Hibiscus (my review here), to racism in America as assumptions on how you believe a person is or will behave based on the color of their skin (so true), and how the fight for gender equality isn't over. She also spoke about her struggle as a writer, which was the recurring anxiety that the day's writing wouldn't go well. I think a lot of us feel that way when we sit down to write.
The talk seemed to end way too soon because we were totally engrossed. I bought a copy of Dear Ijeawele, or A Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions and got it signed. It's a short read and a great roadmap for how to raise feminists (both boys and girls) and make sure you're applying those same lessons in your own life. I would definitely recommend it for new mothers, which is why the book was written after one of Adichie's friends asked her for advice on how she should raise her daughter to be a feminist. If you're interested in the subject, I've also linked to Adichie's seminal TED talk "We Should All Be Feminists" in a previous post. It's worth watching.
Have you read any of Adichie's work? I still need to read Americanah, and will admit that I'm a little intimidated by its length on top of my other reading commitments (and after a long day of editing, sometimes the last thing I want to do is read more, which is a shame). Still, sometimes you just have to put on your big girl pants and do it, because you know it's going to be good.
Have a great week and see you next Sunday!
So I finally decided to write a story I've been kicking around in my head for a while and published the first part on Amazon yesterday. It's called The Ice Girl, and it's your not-so typical hockey romance novel. I like to think of it as When Harry Met Sally goes to Russia. It's not literature, but I think it's kind of fun. I'm going to be publishing the book in serial format, chapter by chapter every 2 weeks, and then compile them at the end into a full book. Here's the blurb for part 1:
Fresh from a breakup with her Czech hockey star boyfriend, Lora travels to Russia to stay with a friend and get her life back on track. “I can’t keep doing this. I’m only 19. I don’t have to be a puck bunny forever.” But without speaking Russian, there are few options for Lora and so she takes a job as an ice girl with the local KHL team. Promising herself she’ll be good and not fall for another player, she’s excited to get back on the ice where she really belongs. But a chance encounter threatens to turn her life upside down all over again. Will Lora ever learn? And can an American make it in Russia? Find out in Part 1 of The Ice Girl.
If it sounds like something you might enjoy, check it out. It's only $0.99. Plus I'll be running giveaway days so you can download it for free, which you can find out about by signing up for my newsletter in the form at the top of the page. Don't worry, I won't spam. Just want to give my Wordly-Bird readers a chance to save some money.
And if you read and happen to like it, a review would be much appreciated! It really helps support my author page on Amazon.
Ok, self-promotion time over. Thanks for listening!
I just want to shout out loud, I am officially debt free!!!
The only loan I've ever taken out was for a Subaru Outback, which I bought with my soon-to-be-ex husband 3 years ago. I don't know what we were thinking. Even though we could afford the payments and the interest rate was ridiculously low, it was clearly more car than we should have paid for ($28,000 plus interest). I guess we got caught up in the adventure-mobile fantasy and had dreams of driving cross-country and visiting all the national parks, sleeping in the back.
While it was a nice idea, it never happened. Jobs got busy, and then we decided to get divorced. So then we were stuck with a car that was difficult to split until the loan had been paid off (or refinanced). I own an old, somewhat grubby but still perfectly functional Toyota Corolla, while my husband drove the Subaru. He wanted to keep the car, which was fine by me, but I wanted to get my name off the loan asap.
Well after months of heel dragging, per our agreement (which we worked out privately, without lawyers), he finally paid off the remaining $5000 on the loan and will be sending me payments over the next several months to buy my half of the car. Once that's done, I'll sign the title over. But while getting a little extra cash is nice, I'm mostly just pleased to be off that stupid loan and officially debt free! This is going to make buying a house just a little easier now and that's one of my major goals for the next year (a very modest house near the local university where I can be sure to find a roommate).
So if I'm debt free, what happened to my student loans? Well, I never had any. My parents were always very up front with me about the fact that they didn't make enough money to send me to college. I knew I would be paying for most of it myself, which meant either staying in state (a great option) or earning a scholarship. Well, at the time I didn't want to stay in state if I could avoid it (ironically I went there for my Ph.D.), so I worked my ass off in high school. I didn't have much fun then. No parties, no boyfriends. All I did was study to make the grades, and then study some more to get good SAT scores. My major memory of high school is of sitting at my desk in the dark, studying under my reading lamp. And I did that night after night for hours. When it came time to actually apply for colleges, I applied to my dream school (NYU), but the rest of my applications were to colleges that were slightly lower-tier (at least reputationally) but well known to be generous with scholarships and merit-aid (because my parents fit firmly into that section of the middle class that made too much money to qualify for need-based aid, but didn't make enough to actually afford a $40,000 a year tuition, especially with my brother only two years behind me in school.) I also applied to every scholarship I could find and I was lucky enough to get one at Tulane University that was virtually a full ride. So even though I got into my dream school, I turned it down for the money.
So I that's how I got past the undergraduate level without any loans. Then I went to graduate school in Chemistry where they actually pay you because you're really more of an employee than you are student. It's basically a low-paid apprenticeship that's not much more than minimum wage. But I did get a fellowship from the Department of Energy that paid slightly better for my last three years, which really helped me focus on my research rather than having to teach undergrads at the same time.
So that's how I did it, and let me tell you, there are pros and cons to this method. Pros: it put me in the great position of being debt free after receiving a very substantial and excellent education. Cons: I had to sacrifice what I really wanted to do in my heart of hearts (get an MFA) and settle for less acclaimed schools. BUT, I am extremely happy that I'm not 180K in debt for a degree in the arts, which no matter how much I would have enjoyed - let's face it, is not very employable.
Sure, sometimes I've felt a little held back because not only did I not go to a high-level undergrad or graduate school, I didn't even try. I'm pretty sure I could have gotten in somewhere if I had been willing to swallow those student loans. But I just didn't see how I would be able to pay back some $150,000. That's like buying 4 luxury cars over a period of 4 years! Insane! It just didn't seem possible, so I didn't do it. And so it goes. I don't have the ivy league education or the arts degree I really wanted, but I'm not doing too bad, and I don't have any loans, which leaves me in a better position to do more creative work now.
I'm not sure where that fear of debt left me when I co-signed for that car with my husband, but I guess I thought we were on stable ground and building toward a life together. And sometimes that means you need to replace a broken down car and you don't necessarily have the cash for the new one. So I don't regret it exactly, but I probably would have done things differently, like buy a cheaper car, if I had to do them over again. Live and learn. Avoid debt or minimize it wherever possible.
Man, I'm beat. I was going to write a review of Beartown today, but there's just no way. My mother is a beekeeper and we spent a good chunk of today extracting 4 GALLONS of honey. It's not a fun job. First you have to collect all the frames from the hives. Then you slice open the wax cells with a heated knife. And then you spin the oozing frames in a hand-cranked centrifuge. The honey collects at the bottom and gets drained and filtered into a bucket. Cranking the extractor is so physically grueling. I ate two bags of popcorn afterwards to regain even some of my energy, and I can tell I'm going to be sore tomorrow.
This was actually my first time helping with the honey extraction process. For years, my mom has asked if I want to help her with the hives, and I've always said no. Messing around with angry bees just doesn't appeal to me. And they are so difficult to take care of (and somehow completely incapable of taking care of themselves). The few times I have gotten into a bee suit to lend her a hand has been an exercise in self-control. Because when a bee is angrily slamming into your veil, over and over again, determined to get you, it can be very hard not to scream and swat it away while you're holding a frame containing thousands of her sisters.
Anyway, I think beekeeping sounds more romantic than it really is, though my mother says she loves it. I hope I don't look back later in my life wishing I had learned to keep bees from her when I had the chance. Somehow, I doubt that will happen, but you never know. To this day, I still kick myself for brushing off my grandmother when she tried to teach me how to sew clothes. So we'll see.
But if anyone's thinking about getting into beekeeping, my advice is to help a beekeeper friend for at least two years before you get any of your own. They are so much more work than you'd ever think.
Writing Streak: 0 days
My Books on Amazon:
Waking Lions by Avelet Gundar-Goshen
Never Let Me Go
by Kazuo Ishiguro