Fear & Self-Loathing Oshvegas

In lieu of blogging the last few months, I’ve been journaling. You know, writing in those blank book things? There’s not a keyboard or anything, so you have to use a pen (I recommend Uniball Signo with the micro tip) and like, draw the letters and words on the pages. Some have lines and some don’t. I prefer the ones with lines, because if I attempt to write straight on an unlined page, my sentences all start sloping upward. Supposedly that means I’m optimistic about my future.

That optimism bit sounds wonky right now, but that’s due to a few things: this terrible weather we’ve been having the last few days (as I described to a Miami-based client this morning: “It’s the exact opposite of whatever paradise you’re experiencing”), my hormones volleying my mood between EVERYTHING IS FUCKING AWESOME and GOOD GOD GET ME BACK IN MY BED SO I CAN EAT FAMILY-SIZED BAGS OF PEANUT BUTTER M&MS WITHOUT JUDGEMENT, and a slight ego bruise.

It’s been a weird couple months since I last posted. My best friend moved in with me. Before she worked evenings, it was basically the two of us crocheting and watching Netflix every night. Now, we see each other occasionally on the weekends. What else? I tried a few new shampoos, did a mud run dressed like a crazy person, went to an intimate acoustic living room show where everyone around me was exponentially cooler than me, carved pumpkins, saw a lot of live jazz, was part of a good friend’s wedding, swooned over the seductive power of “I Put a Spell on You,” joined a gym I haven’t been to in two weeks, dressed up like Coco Chanel for Halloween, shoulder-danced to Justin Timberlake with my little brother after buying holiday cat sweaters, made the unfortunate/wonderful mistake of visiting Half Price Books on a misty Saturday where my love for real books was reignited (my Kindle has been getting minimal use since I’ve bought about 2 dozen books), and have been trying really hard to find a way to make fleece-lined leggings appropriate for an office setting.

We hadn't gotten to the muddy part yet.

We hadn’t gotten to the muddy part yet.

Andrea carved the awesome turtle squash.

Andrea carved the awesome turtle squash.

See? Cat sweaters! We wore them for Thanksgiving. And yes, my little brother is almost a foot taller than me.

See? Cat sweaters! We wore them for Thanksgiving. And yes, my little brother is almost a foot taller than me.

Anyway, when I sat down to write this post, I thought I’d turn to my journal for some inspiration. Surely over the last two months I’ve pondered some interesting issues and came upon satisfying conclusions, right? Of course not, because even as a 25-year old woman, I write about boys with the same frequency as my 13-year old self. Sure, sometimes the musings on my romantic life lead to deliberations over other things (the search for validation, personal expectations, compelling vs. non-compelling conversations, self-respect, and the value of communication & honesty), but they were brief and most entries were just like, “So I met this guy and then I met this other guy and omg they know each other and omg what will happen next?”

It could explain why I’ve been so reluctant to post. It may sound like the sort of thing Socrates would find intellectually stimulating, but I promise that my romantic stumblings will satisfy only the nosy & mindless.

What’s most disappointing is that I feel like I have a much more interesting mind than my journal reflects. It’s just that I find my self deliberating over these sorts of things rather than my mixed feelings about the latest in government surveillance, racial tensions that are so apparent in music and television, and my fear about our culture becoming so reliant on virtual facades for relationships and my blog’s contribution. You have to admit that in comparison, sorting out my dating life is much easier, and therefore preferable.

I reread all of that and started to hate myself for most of it. I really just want to climb in bed and read one of those books I bought. I don’t have the energy or brain power to write a diatribe about why you should all get off the damn internet and show somebody you love them, but I do hate myself just enough to go to the gym.

Why I Disabled my OkCupid Profile Again

I disabled my OkCupid Profile again a few weeks ago. I’ve been on that site three times in the last year or so, and I was only really embarrassed about it the first time. I don’t know why people are embarrassed about it – a good chunk of our lives are spent online in one way or another, so why not widen the range of creeping? It’s like people watching at the mall, but you’re lonely and are probably still in your pajamas.

The first time, was what I’ll call the Omigod I Just Want a Boyfriend Phase. After having my heart broken only a few months earlier, I was determined to prove to myself that I could get a boyfriend. I had this idea that it would be pathetic if I didn’t have someone buying me a Christmas gift. So, I set up a profile. Being smart, I exchanged messages with a guy for a few weeks to determine he wasn’t a serial killer or jerk. After two weeks of essay-length messages, we agreed to meet for indian food on a Sunday evening. Because we had such great messages (I think we just both liked talking about ourselves), I expected we would fall in love immediately and realize we never wanted to be apart. Four minutes into the date I was annoyed because he was afraid to try the vegetable samosa and gave me a full disclaimer about how he didn’t like spicy food.

Upon returning home, I decided two things very quickly: 1. That dude was not going to be my boyfriend, and 2. So as not to fall in love with an idea I created, no more than a few days of exchanging messages before meeting.

I want to make love to you online dating profile

After a few more underwhelming dates (a barista who wanted me to be obsessed with anime just like him, a brand manager who made six figures and was supremely out of my league, a gorgeous and understandably depressed former decathalete), I disabled my profile and decided to read Infinite Jest.

The second was my I’m Just Dating Phase. After getting about 200 pages into Infinite Jest and giving up, I reactivated and edited my profile sometime in January. I was beginning to run, had lots of energy, and I wanted someone to validate my suspicions that I was now confident and sexy. I decided to approach dating in a way I had never done before: going on too many first dates in a short period, and exercising my wit, charm, and debate skills. I didn’t have expectations of romance or long-term relationships on these dates, I really was just enjoying fun conversations about fishing trips with this guy, volleying sarcastic jabs with that one, and dissecting pop culture with the last one.

The idea of monogamy never came up with any of these men, and I figured that until I fell for someone, or one of them brought it up, I would keep enjoying the company of each of the men. Eventually, it got tiring, so I narrowed it down to one. Once I realized that I was looking for more than rhetorical deconstructions of Louis CK jokes to sustain a multidimensional relationship, I ended things with him. Then I realized how much I had missed sitting in sweats on Saturday nights watching Hulu and Pinteresting.

Watch TV alone Someecard

This final time was my What the Hell, Let’s Try this Again, I Am Not Opposed to Being in a Serious Relationship Phase. I reactivated my profile on a lazy Sunday morning because I realized I wanted to share my life with someone. I wanted that crazy feeling of falling in love. I wanted to be impatient to see him. I wanted to get excited when I saw him calling. I wanted to feel adored and I wanted to adore someone. I really went into it hoping to find an equal – someone who is confident and open enough to excite me intellectually, physically, and emotionally. 

This is the first time I feel I can say I have a fulfilling life. I have a challenging but rewarding job, a place that truly feels like my home, friends who are there for me regardless of the circumstances, a (relatively) healthy lifestyle, a supportive family, and I’ve finally gained the independence that allows me to be content as myself, instead of just in relation to another person. I love where I am in life right now, and I hoped to meet someone to share that with.

I met a few guys, but it wasn’t as fun or carefree as the I’m Just Dating Phase, obviously because I had the expectation of a relationship. This kind of made me realize why online dating will probably never work for me. I think an essential part of me falling for someone is the uncertainty that comes from meeting in real life. I enjoy the initial wondering if my feelings are reciprocated. Spiteful Nice Boys might say that I just want a withholding asshole, but they’re just being spiteful nice boys.

I just don’t like how prescribed online dating seems to be. Presumably, you’re both on the site to meet someone you’ll fall for. There’s no mystery. I suppose if I were desperate and particularly ruthless, I could go through a bunch of first dates, end them all with, “This probably won’t work between the two of us because you bore me” until I meet someone I’m crazy about, but I don’t have the patience to do that. It’s not that the men I’ve met on the site aren’t perfectly wonderful people, because they are – it’s that none of them has been my perfectly wonderful man. I know – how terribly cliche.

I think I’ll just continue what I’m doing: waiting for some hunky boy to stumble into my writer’s nook on a Saturday night, then we’ll go to bed and he’ll play with my hair while I read Lolita for the eighth time.

Throwback Thursday: It Gets Better (Seriously.)

Every Thursday, I dig out an old diary and share an entry sans editing (in hopes we’ll all see my grammar and apostrophe use improve) with a short commentary. If you like laughing with/at Young Ashley, feel free to use the handy search bar to the left and simply type “Throwback Thursday” and you’ll find the whole archive. Thanks for reading!

Wednesday August 8, 2001

“The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God.” Romans 6:10

How do you feel when you know you’re loved? 

           Really giggly

I so don’t know what to do. Ok, I was checking my e-mail when I came across one from Nikki. She replied to a bunch of questions I asked her, then she was like, “Well in case you haven’t guessed, Cory’s been calling like 10000x for me to ask u. So just give me an answer so I won’t be bugged anymore.”

I wrote back, saying I didn’t get what she meant, to buy myself more time. He wants to go out with me. What do I do? Should I say yes and see what happens? Or say no and not take the chance? I’m afraid I’m going to get freaked out like what I did with Tony and dump him a week later. I’m also afraid he’ll try to pull something on me. But I seriously don’t know what to do. But then there’s another thing: I barely know him! I’ve talked to him maybe a total of 5 times. I didn’t even know who he was till Nikki’s B-day Bash in February!

Oh Jesus. 

Luv ya, Ash

I need time to think. 

Good lord, I’d like to smack this girl. You know what you do in this situation? You say no and tell Nikki to give Cory your phone number and tell her that if he decides to grow a pair, he can ask you himself. Then you move on with your life, like a self-respecting young woman.

It’s not so hard.

For the record, I’d like to say that I’ve matured quite a bit since 2001. I don’t accept second-party boyfriends. I don’t keep boyfriends around unless I am absolutely crazy about them. I do this because wasting time in this fashion is frustrating and painful for both parties.

The handful of “boyfriends” I had in middle school came to me by way of Nikki. She was the pretty popular one, but in a pinch I would do. One of them was a boy named Tony, whom I remember only for looking like a pumpkin. Eventually Cory got my number and we would awkwardly stand next to each other at lunch and while waiting for the buses after school, so yeah. It was pretty serious.

I got the feeling that they felt they were settling for me, but I was just happy to have the attention of someone for a while. Being able to say that I had a BF was prize enough – I didn’t really care who it was. This is probably why I spent the first part of my dating life believing any guy’s interest was genuine. I figured they were just bidding time till a prettier girl came along. It didn’t matter if we were just hanging out in his dorm room while he organized his Radiohead discography or if he had planned an afternoon of hiking (complete with disposable cameras, granola bars, and a thermos of cocoa) with homemade chili in the slowcooker at home – I just refused to invest myself. I’d like to maintain it was because I wasn’t sure I felt a connection with him, but you could just as easily attribute my commitment reluctance to self-preservation. Eventually I met men who intrigued me for years at a time, but that’s for a different post. But if there was a message I could relay to Young Ashley, it would be this:

You feel really giggly when you’re loved? That’s the best you could do? I don’t think that’s the kind of love your bible’s devotion was asking you about. Even though you lack critical thinking skills, have some faith in yourself. If these turds don’t see how great you are, don’t waste your time, energy, or emotions on them. You’re meant for greater things than to be the second-choice girlfriend of a pumpkin.

Heart shaped glasses

If I had kept these glasses, I never would have had an issue getting a boyfriend.

Throwback Thursday: A Vending Machine Sticker & Daddy Issues

September 5, 1998

Dear Genna, 

Today It rained. When John and Devon went out for patrol they came back socking wet, I was laughing inside cause if he saw me he would have killed me. Like yesterday he spelled dog wrong – Dog! He chased me into the girls’ bathroom. During recsess Ashley A, Malee, Katy, and me played scrabble. for my frist turn I put down Leo. On my fifth I meant to have oars but I put down Leoa! I was so embarrassed. 

When Dad, Corey, Ryan and I went to Piggly Wiggle I think dad was mad Because he looked at Ryan like, “You stop or I’ll spank you!” Well when we were waiting for Dad in the checkout, Me and Corey went to look at the stickers. This teenager came (he was cute) to get a sticker his money was jammed and he said, “If I don’t get a sticker I’m gonna bust this thing!” So he got another It was a stupid one so he gave it to me!

Guess what? I’m getting a lovin’ Leo book! I think he is hot. I have tons of posters of him. Then in an article in Teen machine It was: DiCapro vs. Damon. I wonder who’d win? Maybe..um Dicapro. Duh! 

This is the sticker –>Sticker

I know it looks like a fat lady but hey a cute guy gave it to me. Me!

Without reading this entry, I remember this event – getting the sticker from the strange teenage boy. I don’t remember my dad being upset at Ryan or what he was upset about, but I do remember those stern looks he would give us when we were misbehaving while grocery shopping. This was back when my mom worked as a cashier at Piggly Wiggly in the evenings. Sometimes my dad would take us to the store to visit her.

I’ve always been a pragmatic person. Though I’ve always been a daydreamer, I’ml aware of reality’s constraints. While walking through the grocery store, I used to imagine that some boy would find himself so enchanted by me that he would be compelled to tell me I was the most beautiful girl he had ever seen. I knew this would never happen – I knew that I was too young for anyone to look at me like that, and even if a boy did notice me, the presence of my father would thwart any move he might think to make. So when this older cooler boy engaged me – I was excited but wary. Eventually my dad would walking through the automatic doors, pushing a cart full of groceries and it would be revealed that I was just a child, dependent upon her dad for transportation.

But while my dad was still at the checkout, I was able to indulge my daydream. I’d tell myself that certain things were signs. If he doesn’t get this next sticker, it means he likes me. If he looks at me, it means my shirt is cool. If he gives the sticker to me, it means he’s going to look for me again. While I knew it didn’t really mean anything when he gave me this sticker (it was a stupid one after all), I made it seem like it was.  I went home and wrote in my diary, because I thought that just maybe this was the start of something significant.

In the books I read – historical fiction, mostly – boys were always timidly approaching girls and making them feel special by little trinkets. Reality was a constant disappointment for me. I know that my diary makes me sound like I had no concept of reality, but it’s really the opposite. I just always wanted my life to sound better and more impressive than what it really was. My life was boring. I was ordinary. I wanted to be extraordinary. I wanted to stand out for something other than being the girl who wore handmade dresses and played pretend at recess after most of her peers stopped.

This entry is indicative of my early interactions with men – feeling like it was acceptable to receive their leftovers throw-aways. I was so desperate for any bit of attention from a boy that I was willing to accept anything they gave me. After writing mostly about Scott and my father in a personal narrative class, my professor asked if I thought there was a reason I dated a whole slew of  assholes despite such a heroic father. I was quick to point out that I didn’t date a slew of assholes, just one for a significant amount of time.

I never truly answered her question, so the question still remains: Assuming a girl’s father is her strongest male figure – the one who illustrates how she should be treated – why did I accept so little from my early boyfriends? From all my boyfriends, for that matter. Even after my most significant relationship ended a little less than a year ago, I still felt like I was just a little bit used – like I had served my purpose for a chunk of time and the time had come for him to move on.

My father has always been there for me – if I’m stranded on the side of the road, if I’m crying about money or about a guy he hugs me, if I need a meal he feeds me, if I’m shivering he’ll give me his coat. It’s not that boyfriends didn’t or wouldn’t do these things for me. Maybe it’s just that I’ve never really given them the chance. Maybe I’ve never allowed room for them to actually impress me since my father is such a significant part of my life. Maybe I’ll always be disappointed by men who are not my father. Damnit, dad. Why are you such a good dad?

Good luck trying to date me, future beaus.

I had no intention of making this post so inquisitive. I thought I’d point out 10-year old Ashley’s excellent grasp of punctuation in dialogue but her apparent disregard for commas elsewhere. I was clearly horrified by my peers’ shortcomings while being oblivious to my own (but come on – I still have trouble spelling recess sometimes) Also, I was obsessed with Leonardo Dicaprio, but I couldn’t be bothered to learn how to actually spell his name.