Monday, December 26, 2011

Carnage and Blogaversary!!!

First of all, go see the movie Carnage. I didn't think it was perfect, but it's different (in a good way). And it shows that you don't need a big budget to make a cool movie. Take note, James Cameron.

And also, know what the day before yesterday was? The one-year anniversary of this blog!! Thank you all for reading. It's been fun so far.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

The Internet

I know this is obvious and kind of dumb but in light of all the stuff people always say about how spookily addicted our generation is to the Internet, and how there are rehab centres and the like for people who go through life not being able to control the freakish typing movement of their fingers and looking like they're staring into the cool glow of a computer screen even when they're not, I've been thinking a lot lately about the Internet's good side. I mean, not that I'm old, but when I was a kid I had to ask someone what a blowjob was if I wanted to know. Now you can just google it and they'll give you pictures and everything.

But that's not the most what's really amazing about the Internet. (And Wikipedia has taken the best of the whole world's knowledge, organized it, and put it all in one place, but that's not what's really amazing either.) What's really amazing is that it gives anyone who wants to the opportunity to change people's lives. Take Natalie Lue, for example. I know that her relationship blog definitely changed my life completely. Or this guy Adam Baker whom I just found out about, who posts about how he's getting out of debt and travelling the world at the same time, with a baby no less, and offers tips about how anyone else can do that too. These people aren't huge celebrities, but they are speaking to people who experience the same longings that they have experienced.

Likewise, it is easier than ever before to find these people. Whereas in bygone days, you had to tell your story and hope you could find one person who would think to themselves "ah yes, that's the way I feel it too," today you don't even have to be the one to say it. Now, you can find someone else to say it and then you can be the one to respond, "ah yes." And there's no risk that anyone will call you crazy.

That's, well, amazing. Isn't it?

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Three Good Friends

As I've been going about trying to get used to the real full-time working phase of my life and coming to terms with the fact that I will probably (hopefully) never be a student again, I've been thinking (and posting) a lot lately about what contributes to happiness. And I think I have possibly come up with a short list that might actually sort of be true. Here it is:

Three good friends
One is too few, 10 is too many because they can't all be good friends. But three is the magic number. You need three good friends.

A good partner
I sort of hate to put this on here because I know it's modern and so on to think that everyone can be equally happy, single or not. However, the truth, as far as I can tell, is that a lot of happy people have good partners. I'll hopefully redeem myself a bit by saying it's not exactly the case that a good partner makes you happy, but rather that a happy person is satisfied with a good partner. A happy person, in other words, is content to get to know people who are obviously available for a genuine relationship. He/she doesn't seek drama or have a constantly wandering eye.

A decent day-to-day
It takes maturity to get to a certain age and say "okay, I can't just nap intermittently all day long anymore. I have to make a living." And maybe making a living won't be quite as much fun as napping intermittently all day long. That said, you can't hate what you do all day, or else your life will just become a gigantic battle to get to the weekend, which will go by way too fast every time. Not happy.

A minimal number of assholes in one's line of vision
And by line of vision I mean, you know, people you give the time of day to.

So that's happiness. Tell me, what did I miss?

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Stupid Movies

I get really frustrated with the seemingly ever-increasing popularity of stupid movies, and with how people seem to insist that they're really funny.


Take, for example, something like Scary Movie. Or Hot Shots. Or really, practically every Will Farrell, Adam Sandler, and Ben Stiller movie. You will probably laugh when you watch these movies because they're kind of funny. But they won't really stand out in your mind a year or so after you've seen them because the humour is safe and obvious. There is nothing risky, original, or especially interesting there. This means they are not, and can never be, really funny.

So yeah. Get your heads on straight, people.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Fantasy World

Something I'm becoming increasingly aware of about myself is that I have sort of been living my entire life in a perpetual fantasy world. Some of my fantasies I've always known are ridiculous and are just a way to pass the time, like the one in which I heroically jump in front of a car to rescue a stranger and it just so happens that everyone I knew in elementary school but haven't seen since is there to see me. (I survive, of course.) But other fantasies I have gone through my entire life believing were true, and am just now finding out, to my frankly great consternation, are not.

Here are some of the somewhat startling awakenings that I have recently had:

1) Living in a different country, where they have a different culture and speak a different language and everything, is not significantly more exciting than living at home. It is mostly just significantly harder.

2) You can't just keep going back to school every time you get the idea in your head that something is interesting. At a certain point, sooner than you would believe possible, you have to earn a living.

3) Earning a living is harder than you think. (And I do mean a living, not a fortune.) Most people won't be able to do it painting pictures or telling jokes or whatever it is that's more fun than sitting at a desk. You are probably most people.

4) People with really hot bodies were mostly born that way. You won't look like them no matter what you do.

5) I don't know if I can sit here and actually say that money buys happiness since I suppose there are some rich people who will just never be happy, but... well, most people would probably be very significantly happier if they got to work less and buy more pointless things.

6) Happiness is simpler than you think.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Corn!!

If you're anything like me (and if you weren't you'd probably hate reading this blog since pretty much all I do is speculate that everyone must be exactly like me), you're probably like "what's the deal with corn?" because corn is one of those things that everyone sort of eats but is really kind of unremarkable.

Well, no more, I say! From now on, only adjective-worthy corn. You will need:

corn
olive oil
a shit ton of garlic
salt and pepper
aluminum foil

Take a piece of aluminum foil big enough to wrap an ear or two of corn in and place said ear or two of corn on the foil. The chop up or press the shit ton of garlic and put it all over the corn. Turn the corn around so it gets on the other side too. Add a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of salt and pepper, wrap the corn in the foil, and stick it in a hot over for about 20 mins. When I say a hot over I mean you know like 350 F or something. Believe it or not, it actually doesn't matter that much because if you take it out and it's not done yet, you can just put it right back in!

(As long as you start checking when it starts to smell done, that is.)

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Monday, October 24, 2011

This Blog Has a Facebook Page...

... which means it now really exists! Could you make my day and, well, like it? Pretty please? Just look to the right.
Thank you muchly.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Getting Fat

Something I've been grappling with lately is the reality that I actually will get fat if I sit on my butt the entire day and exercise no self-conrol in my food-related decision-making. This is a problem because the thing is, when you've got to just study or work or whatever all the time, you don't usually feel like a) going to the gym or whatever it is all these skinny people are doing when you could just go home and watch TV and b) being all like "oh I can't eat that even though I really want to! I'll deprive myself, that's what I'll do! And then tomorrow I'll wake up and work! And then I'll deprive myself again! Yippee!" 

Frustratingly, as with common sense, it seems to me that this is something everyone has all worked out a long time ago as I keep getting asked, by people whom I keep thinking seem normal, whether I want to go hiking. Or biking. Actually, someone even asked me recently if I want to go on a bike ride all the way to a different neighbourhood

I mean, for chrissakes, can we please start small? What do I look like, Arnold Schwarzenegger?

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Wedding Invitations

I told you here that I have a recurring fantasy about being interviewed on CBC Radio, and then I posted the whole imagined interview for you here. Since I had a major attack of egomania over how funny at least a few of you said you thought that was, I gave myself a little challenge to come up with something that was at least like three times more embarrassing than imagining myself being interviewed. So I very sincerely hope you will be tickled to hear that I often also fantasize about how, when the future time comes, my wedding decor will look. Yeah I know, nobody does that. And nobody watches those stupidass wedding-planning shows on TLC. Especially not me.

Anyway, since I'm a hipster-in-denial I was thinking something suitably hipster-in-denial-ish like comic books would be cool to have around and sort of use as a motif, like all stuck together to make tablecloths or something. And then the invitations would be in comic book style, and the thank you cards, and there could be fake flowers in vases on the table made out of like felt and buttons or something that I would order from etsy.com, because I'm hipster-in-denial like that. To date I've actually never either bought anything from etsy.com nor read a comic book, but that's because I'm saving myself if you'll excuse the pun.

I'd say I've spent a lot of time over the course of my life thinking about this. In fact, my entire undergraduate experience was pretty much  spent alternating between imagining my napkin colours and wondering why in the hell nobody wanted to date me.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Common Sense

Something that I've been noticing lately (actually I've been noticing it pretty much since the day I was born but, you know, also lately) is that it seems like everyone on the planet has these, like, skills that I don't have, and they all apparently have nothing better to do than to call attention to my lack of said skills. For example, I try not to run on the treadmill when anyone else is looking because they all tell me that the way I'm doing it will never help me lose weight. I also try not to put my clothes in the washing machine when anyone else is around to see me because then I'm going to get a whole thing about how you can't mix lights and darks, and you can't overfill the thing, and you're only using that much soap?!, and have you noticed how the way you're doing it makes your clothes come out all linty?

Now ordinarily I would conclude that everyone else is obviously just out of their minds. However, I suppose I do have to admit it is quite true that my clothes are often lintier than other people's. It is also true that other peoples' homes don't seem to be littered with like random mail they get, as I admit mine is, because they all apparently have skills known as "filing skills" which allow them to create an elaborate system in which they store this mail - like one file for bank statements they don't need, one file for God-knows-what from the government they don't need, and so on. There is apparently a designated time (which everyone of course knows) at which point the file gets too big and is therefore partially transferred to another file - and all of this without making a mess in your home at all. In any case, I know all the people don't just throw out all that stuff (even though they don't need it), because the one time I tried to do that someone saw me and said "are you crazy??? You can't just throw out bank statements!!!! You need to file them!!!"

(As for that thing about the treadmill, it did happen once, but who am I kidding, I wouldn't get on a damn treadmill anymore even if God wasn't looking because it never helps you lose weight.)

So I was telling all of this to someone recently and the person in question said to me "Sheesh Jennie, the problem is that you have no common sense."

So what I want to know is this: where does everyone get all this common sense anyway, and why don't I have it? Like what day in school did I miss?

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Another Post Giving Dating Advice That I'm Unqualified To Give

After I got this exciting request for advice about five or so months ago, I must admit I was overtaken by fantasies of becoming the next Dear Abby. However, I received no further requests for advice and felt my fantasy wither away when it had barely just begun... until now, that is. Dun dun duuuuuuuuuuuuun.

Hi Jennie,
I'm a reader of your blog and am hoping you have some words of encouragement for me. I'm a single twentysomething guy, and I've been part of the online dating scene for a while now, but never had much attention from potential dates. The last time I had a chance with a girl online, I somehow got too close and drove her away. I currently have the attention of someone else, but I'm worried that I'll make the same mistake again. How can I maintain interest in her without getting overly close?


-The Canadian Loner (hey, if you ask me something I'll let you pick your pseudonym too! Dear Abby doesn't even let you do that. At least I don't think so.)

So here is what I have to say to Mr. Canadian Loner.

Dear CL,
When you say you have the attention of someone else, do you mean someone else whom you have never met? Look, I know it feels like you've met, but have you in fact met? And even if you've met, have you met more than once? More than twice? What I am asking, in short, is this: do you know this girl?

I have said before (here and here) that I am not the biggest fan of online dating, and one of the reasons is that talking to people online can easily breed a premature and ultimately false sense of intimacy. It is easy to tell someone a lot about yourself, and to hear a lot about her in return, and to think this means you must know each other, when in fact you don't because if you have not gotten to know each other in person, you don't know each other. This means that when (if) you finally do get to know each other, the connection that appeared to be there online may not be there in real life. This doesn't mean you did something to scare the other person away, but just that you pinned your hopes on something that never existed because it was only ever in cyberspace (i.e. your imagination).


That aside, I must say I am saddened and concerned about the sort of language you are using to describe your experiences: "the last time I had a chance," "I somehow got too close and drove her away," "I currently have the attention of someone else." Why CL, do you by any chance think you're not good enough for love? Have you fallen into the sordidly popular trap of thinking that if you could only behave in just the precisely right way, you could make anyone want you? This is not true, you know. Some people are simply not for you. Trust me, you would see it eventually. These people do you a favour when they don't waste too much of your time.

So by all means, meet this girl before you spend a lot more time talking to her online, and try to get to know her in person. But if she is resistant, just let it go without looking to pin it on something you did. She's not the last woman on earth, you know, and she is not for you if she doesn't make you feel genuinely comfortable.

(By the way, you should only be pursuing relationships with people who make you feel genuinely comfortable. And for goodness sakes, please make an effort to differentiate between feeling comfortable and having a case of the hot sweats.)

Best wishes and much xox,
Jennie

Friday, September 30, 2011

Midnight in Paris

I had the somewhat painful experience of watching this Woody Allen movie redubbed into German but happily, I think I got the gist of it and will tell you that it was, well, good. I mean it was fine.

Fine in that, you know, that kind of way. That "whoa I'm obviously at the movies and I suppose I'm enjoying myself but it'll sure be a drag when this is over" kind of way, if you know what I mean. However, if you want to see a lot (and I do mean a lot) of highly cute people on a screen in a very short span of time, I'd say this movie is worth your while.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Open Secrets

That's the name of a book of short stories by Alice Munro but it's also an underused expression. I was just thinking lately about how many open secrets there are. The damn things are everywhere!

When I say open secret what I mean is something you trick yourself into believing is true, even though you know it isn't actually true. For example:

1) Most of the time, when people tell you things, they are being honest.
2) Everyone actually has your situation and not theirs in mind when they give you advice.
3) Money can't buy happiness.
4) Your life may improve very suddenly all by itself. Any day now.
5) Living in a state of perpetual loneliness is okay. It's just your attitude that needs to change.
6) Love is something that defies logic and you have no control over whom you go for or whether or not they are nice to you.
7) Everyone recycles, especially people who have loads of different-coloured bins in their house.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

I Have a Confession to Make

I sometimes only pretend to recycle. Yeah I know, I'm the only one on earth.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

More About the Chemistry Thing

I got the following comment on this post and decided that responding to it was worth a post all its own:

"I think that chemistry attracts 99% of people to each other. Chemistry is lust. Romance movies are lust. Even the deeper ones are just emotional lust. Love happens after you give someone so much that they are an extension of you. It's not too common, and if people waited for that to happen before getting physically involved, there'd be about 3 kids born a year."

The reason I wanted to post my response to this is because I fear my meaning in the previous post may have been misunderstood. I am not exactly saying that people should wait to see whether superficial chemistry turns into non-superficial intimacy before they become involved with somebody, although I suppose you could try that as long as you're not flogging a dead horse. I am saying that superficial chemistry is superficial. Even if the connection feels really strong, if the person is resisting genuinely being with you, then the chemistry you are feeling is superficial. It does not mean anything, so it is better to prioritize it much less than people usually do.

I think what people should be asking themselves about a potential partner is something like this: does this person treat me with care and respect? Do I genuinely feel I can trust him/her and that he/she is not out to mess me around? And do I feel good when I am with him/her? Not crazy-can't-see-straight-actually-kind-of-bad-now-that-I-think-about-it, but good?

The thing is, someone can banter your wits out, give you those fuzzy special feelings, and generally make you feel like you must be God's gift to each others' boring lives, but still not be emotionally available. I think emotionally available is a term that is bandied around a lot but rarely defined, so what it means is this: they want to be in the same relationship as you, with you. They don't appear to be constantly trying to mess with your head or give you a case of the crazies. They don't disappear and reappear. They don't have a harem of besotted "friends" with whom they indiscriminately flirt both in and out of your presence. They don't refuse to acknowledge you in public after you've slept with them. They don't tell you you're needy when you say you want to see them again soon.

And to those who are thinking "but I need the fuzzy special feelings or I can't live!" I say this: someone who isn't pushy, who isn't a shameless flirt, and who maybe doesn't banter the superficial living daylights out of you might turn out to be, well, fuzzier than you may have thought if you would just give them half a chance to show you. There are a lot of good people in this world, so don't write them off so fast!

Back to the comment. I would never tell anyone to wait for anything in particular before getting physically involved, but you have to know what you are signing up for, and if what you would like to sign up for is an adult relationship, then you need to sign up for an adult relationship, not a total bunch of bullshit. Also, I would like to dispute the notion that love is not too common... although I concede that to those who habitually go after the emotionally unavailables of this world, it probably appears that way.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Playing Pool

You know what I really hate about playing pool? How even after you insist you suck at it, everyone tries to tell you it's easy and you can't possibly suck. And then when you really do suck, they feel like they have to teach you in this totally annoying patronizing way, like "no, it'll be way easier if you hold the cue like this, not like this." And then when you still suck, they get annoyed.

Frisbee is like that too, kind of.

Monday, August 29, 2011

More About Online Dating

I wrote about online dating a few months ago but wanted to revisit the topic. I'm still not into it but after thinking about it more and talking to a bunch of you who have tried it, want to revise some of the things I said before. Here:

1) I said this: "My assumption, which I believe to be correct, is that everyone on earth is theoretically looking for the right relationship for them, but that does not mean the right relationship for them is with me or you."

I was wrong about this, actually. I do think that mostly everyone thinks they are looking for the right relationship for them, but actually, some people are really only interested in chasing people who don't want them and would never want a nice person who would treat them properly. This is called having low self-esteem. There are loads of these types in the real world, of course, but from what some of you tell me, loooaaaads online, possibly because the idea of not having to immediately engage with real live people is appealing to the issue-laden in this world. And it takes a little longer to spot them, too, since they're hiding behind the normalcy of a smiley picture and the fact that they're interested in soccer or whatever, just like you.


2) I said this: "Shared interests, like liking the same movies or sports, don't matter at all. Chemistry and shared values matter." It's still definitely true that shared interests don't matter, but I am realizing that it is not chemistry but intimacy and shared values that matter, and that practically everyone in the whole wide world thinks chemistry is way more important than it is. Now I'm not saying you should go and have a relationship with someone if you can't stand the idea of touching them (i.e. "have no chemistry"), but the thing is, it doesn't mean shit if someone makes your hormones go completely mental if they don't want to be in the same relationship as you. FYI, if they never get in touch with you unless you have a fight about it first, tend to disappear and then reappear, or call you needy when you say you want to have a real relationship and not a booty call, they don't want to be in the same relationship as you (i.e. have shared values). If, on the other hand, they are a consistent presence in your life, are available when you need them, and express interest in having a real relationship, then you have a potential foundation to create intimacy. Maybe you won't end up having real intimacy with that person because it takes some time to see if it is there and it is not always going to be, but this is the sort of person you should be going for, not someone who makes you feel crazy passion but then when push comes to shove, disappears because they are emotionally unavailable.


If you need convincing, consider this: if you are looking for a relationship and not a booty call, you are looking to find someone with whom you will presumably spend many years if all goes well. Not that I know shit, but if there's one thing I can guess it's that nobody's hormones rage over the same person for many years. Well, not if they are actually in a relationship with that person. And how does it even feel when you have great "chemistry" with someone anyway? Does it feel good or does it feel stressful, like you have butterflies in your stomach the whole freaking day because you don't actually know if this person is really going to go the distance or just wants to mess with your head a bit and then disappear? Be honest.


And no, someone's dating profile can't tell you anything about the intimacy that may eventually exist between the two of you either. Yeah I know, what an effing drag.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

The Tofu Dilemma

Along with true love, the perfect bikini bod, and a one-size-fits-all cure for boredom, I feel like I have spent my entire life looking for an answer to the tofu dilemma - i.e., what can one do to make tofu taste, well, less like absolute shit? And my friends, I believe I have found the answer, and fortunately it does not involve a long list of other ingredients that you will all never be able to find. It does, however, involve an encyclopedia.

So here is a complete list of what you will need:

tofu
an encyclopedia
oil
soy sauce
really hot sauce
garlic
a zucchini
instant noodles
cashews (if you want)

Now I know this is silly and a little annoying but it's how it's done, okay? Like two days or something before you want to eat the damn tofu, put an encyclopedia on top of it. No, it does not have to be an encyclopedia, but that is the size and weight we're going for. If you have two encyclopedias, so much the better. Then two days later, take the encyclopedia off the tofu, cut up the tofu and the zucchini, stir-fry them in a bit of oil with soy sauce, hot sauce, and the garlic (which you'll have pressed or chopped up), and the instant noodles, which you will have first prepared. If you want to add cashews, throw them in right at the end, once everything else has been cooked, or they'll get mushy.

As between pressing down the otherwise totally unpalatable texture of the tofu and disguising the taste with hot sauce, man, I hardly even knew what in the hell I was eating. But it totally set my balls on fire if you know what I mean! In a good way.


Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The Interview

In response to my last post, in which I divulged my secret fantasy about being interviewed on CBC Radio, a couple of you suggested I post the whole imagined interview. So I know this seems a little conceited but just remember that you asked for it, okay? Now, it took me a long time to post this because coming up with something post-able, i.e. that would be at the very least not significantly more embarrassing than my music collection, was a bit of a challenge. This might be a little more embarrassing than that after all, but anyway, here it is. It takes place at an undefined future time.

Ms. Morgan, thank you so much for joining us today. It is such a pleasure to have you with us.
Please, the pleasure is all mine.

So tell us, Ms. Morgan, what qualities do you detest most in a person?
Ignorance and arrogance, which I frequently find together.


And what is your most prized possession?
I don't know whether I should say my husband or my sense of humour. But I guess if I lost the former and didn't have the latter, I'd really be screwed. So, my sense of humour.


Would you mind telling us what your dating life was like before you met your husband?
Oh, it was a nightmare. I was a simpering little blob of emotion at the constant mercy of my perpetually broken heart. But of course, everyone always says that after the fact, don't they?

But still, how utterly poetic of you. Is there anything in particular that you learned from that time?
Yes. When I hear the sorts of things people say when they are describing their ideal partner, I am blown away by what I hear. The person must be good-looking, and tall, and deliciously charming, and intelligent, and funny. But these things are all terribly superficial. I know intelligent and funny don't sound superficial, but the thing is, if this person is available to really love you and you have a deeply intimate friendship, that is what matters. Saying you want intelligent and funny is sort of like a less superficial-sounding way of saying you want your partner to be popular.

That is very true. To touch on a different topic, how have you found it, running your outrageously successful company?
There is nothing like calling my time my own. Your time may be your own when you are working for someone, but your employer rents it. That is one of those essential truths, like the fact that a good mother makes a bad mother-in-law, and there is just no lying to yourself about it. Renting your time to someone is no way to live.

Ms. Morgan, as ever, you are so right. And now for something very important, because you always look so lovely. Who is your fashion icon?
The Queen Mother. Isn't that a thoughtful answer?

Monday, August 8, 2011

A Good Mother Makes A Bad Mother-In-Law

Doesn't that sound super wise, like it's a saying in a foreign language? But actually it's just something I say in this recurring fantasy I have in which I'm being interviewed on CBC radio.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Nader and Simin - A Separation

I'm pretty psyched about this review because if you are in North America (or anywhere outside Germany, I believe), I am doing what reviewers are actually supposed to do and giving you a bit of a heads-up on a movie that isn't out yet. If you are in Germany, I'm not doing that, so just go see it now because it is awesome.

Awesome is even an understatement. This is a movie from Iran which I imagine had to be created within the bounds of that country's censorship laws, and it is nonetheless one of the most thoughtful, illuminative, and tense works of art that I have ever seen. As soon as it comes to your area, get out and see it.

The story begins simply enough. We have a middle-class couple, separating for a reason one suspects might be different than the one given. We have their studious child, and we have the husband's father, who is suffering from Alzheimer's and needs a daytime caregiver. The caregiver, a little too hastily hired at the film's outset, takes the form of an uneducated chador-clad pregnant woman who comes from the poor part of town and is deeply religious. The strictness of her observance provides an almost comedic note in an otherwise deadly serious story: at one point she makes a call to what seems to be an Islamic hotline, asking whether she is permitted to change the soiled clothes of her senile, incontinent charge.

Though it becomes clear to the viewer rather quickly that looking after her wandering charge is too physically taxing for the pregnant woman, the separated husband, who is stubborn, proud, and perhaps emotionally distant, does not notice - or does he? When the woman disappears while she was supposed to be looking after the elderly man and his son comes home early, a nasty argument ensues in which he accuses her of stealing and then shoves her out the door so aggressively that she falls down the stairs - or does she? She loses her baby, that much is clear, but the rest is a little sketchy, a little ambiguous, and a perfect window into the complexity of the wide gap between the rich and the poor, not just in Iran but perhaps anywhere.

Wisely, the filmmaker does not pass judgement on any of the people involved, but rather lets you see the flaws in all of them equally. Someone will have to judge them though, because the rest of the film deals with the ensuing case as the poor woman's husband takes the wealthier man to court for manslaughter. But how can such a non-judgemental movie possibly end? You'll have to see for yourself, but I will tell you this: to that problem, the filmmaker came up with a truly beautiful solution.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

More Observations About Learning a Foreign Language

I talked here about several travails related to foreign language learning, and right now I have just one more but it's kind of a major one, so get ready. Why oh why, in every language class on the face of the Planet Earth, do they make you talk about your hobbies? I mean, hobbies? Do adults actually have hobbies? When asked about my hobbies, which has only ever happened in language classes (although I believe it is also common in online dating, hence why I'm not the biggest fan of that; see here), I usually say cooking because I feel like I can't say sleeping, eating, or sitting around doing nothing, which are the things I actually enjoy doing most in my spare time. (That's what a hobby is, right?). Is surfing the Internet like my life depends on it a hobby? Although to be honest I'm not really sure I enjoy that, it's more like I'm addicted to it and actually kind of wish I could stop.

So the other day I got asked about my hobbies and for the first time I decided to say "blogging," because I think that is probably the most truly legitimate hobby I have. But then everybody looked at me all like "you have to say something more wholesome than that, like jogging or something," even though the fact that someone says he likes jogging doesn't tell me anything about him except that he is a liar, because nobody likes jogging. Not that blogging is probably any better at telling you anything, although I suppose you may eventually reach the conclusion that I have no-one to talk to you'd better not be the one sucker to bother with me.

Anyway, what I kind of realized from all of this, which is what I'm sure you've been wondering, is that there is a serious overemphasis in society in general of things that are utterly superficial. Things people like to do, movies they like, food they like, and all this kind of thing are the most inconsequential pieces of information you could possibly hear about anyone. So I'm thinking that if you want to ask questions that require only a few words of vocabulary, how about "what do you value?" or "what sort of person could you love?" Or how about "what makes you happy, what makes you sad?"

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Hey, You're Jewish? Is That Why You're Eating What You're Eating?

The thing about being named Jennie Morgan is that the subject of my Jewish background does not generally come up very often. However, sometimes it does, like because someone asks what my middle name is or something. Since being in Germany, I have experienced something that I really never experienced at home, which is that when people find out my little "secret" (not that I hide it) I find that I am suddenly a bit of a curiosity and am bombarded with a slew of what I believe are rather hilarious questions, although I am starting to question my sanity on this one a bit so you can tell me what you think. So far it's gone pretty much like so:

Well, no, that's not why I'm not eating a pork sausage, because I'm not religious. I just don't want to eat a pork sausage.

But if you're not religious, then why are you wearing a bracelet with Hebrew letters on it?
Well, because it says my name on it. And it says my name in Hebrew because I'm Jewish.

But why, if you're not religious?
Um, well, because I have cultural traditionalism.

So do you actually know Hebrew?
I guess so, some, because I went to a Jewish school.

But why, if you're not religious?
Because of the cultural traditionalism.

So are you really not religious at all?
Well, I'm sitting here in a bar on a Friday night, so that means I'm not.

It does???? Why?????
Well, Jewish people who are religious don't go to bars on Friday nights.

But why????
I suppose for the same reason that the supermarket on my street is closed on Sunday.

So do you go to the like Jewish church?
Occasionally. But not too often, no.

Why not?
Because I'm not religious, remember?

So is Judaism like a major religion in Canada?
A major religion? I wouldn't say that, no.

So does your dad wear one of those things? Those like hat things?
Are you serious? Jesus Christ.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Do you ever feel like...

... it's hard to enjoy the moment because you feel as though the phase of your life that you are currently in is already over, and you're living in a premature state of nostalgia? I remember this time about two years ago when I was walking between two very tall buildings, and I could see a glorious stretch of blue sky, and I was so gloriously, deliriously happy - not because anything special had happened, but only because at that moment I forgave myself all my flaws, all my silly mistakes; and I thought, ah, if I could only be just this way with myself all the time, the way one might think about a normally distant lover who plans a spontaneous night of romance.

But in the very same moment I felt sad, because I feared that I, just like one would fear the lover, would never be quite so kind again.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Several Observations About Learning a Foreign Language

1) Presumably, if you are an adult you are able to express sophisticated ideas in your own language. But when you are trying to learn a foreign language it's like your most basic thoughts are taken away from you and you're sitting around in a classroom with a bunch of other similarly handicapped individuals being like "Ah yes, I too am an admirer of the spaghetti."

2) At the break you're like "cripes, if I stay here I am going to have to try to turn sentences like that into an actual conversation with my classmates who are suddenly looking like the most awkward people on earth" so you spend the whole 20 mins in the bathroom.

3) Why will the teacher not just come out and laugh at us? Even I know we sound positively silly.

4) It really must be true that they hate foreigners in Germany. Or else they would get rid of these deeply exasperating "cases" which I can't help but notice don't always contribute a whole lot to the meaning of anything but do make it really hard to ever get anything right. And they would report more international news items that everyone can understand, like "Lindsay Lohan ist nicht mehr unter Hausarrest."

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Interviews with Celebrities

You know those celebrities that are pictured on the covers of magazines? Do you ever open up the magazine and read the interview with the celebrity inside? Right, I knew you wouldn't admit it. But let's say you were to admit it for a second, just to yourself. Don't you think it's dumb how the interviewer waxes all crazily poetic about how much the movie star in question wears the nicest clothes? And hates the paparazzi because it just ruins lives? But she'll live with it because she loves her job? 

I mean of course she wears nice clothes, for fuck's sake. And of course she'll live with it. And of course she loves her job. She's an effing movie star.

(Also, isn't it uncanny how she always manages to say something hilarious to try to convince you she's normal, like "I'm friends with Natalie but we never talk about work"?)

Monday, July 11, 2011

Riding a Bike

Riding a bike is one of those things that makes me feel like a complete effing moron because pretty much everyone can do it easily except for me. I mean, I can do it but the bike has to be too small because I get all like freaked out if my feet can't full-out touch the ground when I stop. And I mean not just my tippy toes. If at least something close to my whole foot can't touch the ground, I'm too scared to start. The obvious result of this is that I can only ride a bike if I am willing to get knee cramps, which I am, because I have this fantasy of how cool I would obviously be if I knew how to do loads of things I don't really know how to do. Besides riding a bike, some of the other things are playing the piano, not overspilling my bikini, having a good sense of direction, dancing with a hot booty shake, and speaking German.

So the other day I was in the bike store attempting to fulfill two of these fantasies by buying a too-small bike while speaking German, and the guy in the store wouldn't let me buy a children's bike, which is the only kind of bike that is too small for me because I am five feet tall, because he was very kindly concerned about the knee cramps. I tried to explain that I needed to get the kinderbike or else I can't ride any kind of bike, and he was like "Kneeschmerz kneeschmerz" or something and I was like "Kinderbike kinderbike," and it was all a little sad. Anyway, I didn't buy the bike, leaving one of my fantasies unfulfilled. But the guy definitely couldn't speak English, so I'm going to go ahead and tell you that this non-transaction took place in German.

So what are some of the things you all think everyone else can do besides you? Just, you know, so I don't feel bad about myself.

Monday, July 4, 2011

English-Speaking Fantasies

Since coming to Germany, I have found myself having these incredibly elaborate fantasies in which I'm back home and someone asks me a question in the street, and I just run my mouth giving them the most fantastic answer, instead of blinking and saying "Ja" and then slinking away in shame as they smile and ask the next person.

Then I have this other fantasy about being in a group of mostly English-speakers and only one or two Germans so that we have to all speak English to each other, and positively talking everyone's ears off while they all think I'm just such a card. The Germans in the group are silently bewildered. Naturlich.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

More About Germany

I haven't given you an anecdote in awhile (I think not since here), so I just wanted to tell you that in Germany you can only get the superintendent to unlock the door of your apartment if you lock yourself out during business hours. And you also have to show him your passport, so you better not lock yourself out when you are coming back from anywhere other than, um, a different country. During business hours.

I guess that wasn't really an anecdote, since I didn't tell you how I discovered any of this.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Crying Babies

Whenever you see a crying baby, don't you just want to say to him "man, what are you so upset about, don't you know it ain't never gonna get any better than this?"

Or maybe, if the baby is a little older and his friend has hit him or something, "well, it's a lesson best learned young that the world was designed for the success of assholes"?

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Self-Esteem Boosts

Since writing about emotionally unavailable assclowns here and here last month and saying they have low self-esteem, I have heard from a few of you who have suggested to me that if you find yourself consistently attracted to assclowns, you likely have low self-esteem yourself. This is of course extremely true (and it is a common theme of Baggage Reclaim, which I mentioned in one of the posts linked above).

Low self-esteem is a big topic as it is something that often takes time to overcome and there is nothing you can do that will instantly and permanently correct it. However, I wanted to come up with a list of things you can do that I believe will get you on the right path. So here it is, in no particular order, my list of 10 good habits for high self-esteem. If any of you have any other suggestions in this vein, please leave them in a comment below.

1) Look after yourself.

I mean physically and I mean financially. I'll admit to having a taste for junk food (and if you've been with me for a while you probably know this anyway), but I've found that when I don't go crazy eating it at all hours of the day and night I really do feel way better. And I am certainly not going to tell you to go to the gym if you hate it because you will not be able to keep doing something that you hate, but try to find something you can do that you don't hate. Personally, I don't mind swimming or bike riding (albeit on a too-small bike), so I am trying to do those things. I am also thinking I would actually find jumping on a trampoline kind of fun, so if you know of one I can use that is conveniently located, let me know. Anyway, you see what I'm saying.

As for the financial bit of this, if you can stick to a budget and be completely honest with yourself about how much you have to spend and how much you should save, you will realize that you can look after yourself and that your goals are achievable. On the other hand, if you live from paycheck to paycheck, completely beyond your means, or have no idea whether you may overdraw your bank account any minute now, you will feel that you cannot look after yourself and need somebody to rescue you from the nonstop pain in the ass that is your life. This feeling is basically the epitome of low self-esteem.

2) Cook for yourself. 


Once again, you can look after yourself and this is a part of that. If you are going to eat junk food, at least make it in your own kitchen.

3) Get rid of any assclowns you may have lurking around.


I know it may sound a bit circular to get rid of assclowns so that you will have high enough self-esteem to get rid of assclowns, but you can't wait until you are a hundred percent sure you have great self-esteem to start doing what's best for you. Cut these attention-seekers out of your life and you will be amazed by how much better you will feel. Oh, it'll hurt for a little while, but fear not: you will emerge stronger, happier, and more confident. You will also be less likely to fall prey to the same games the next time an assclown should happen to show up.

Oh, and just in case you are wondering whether or not you have an assclown on your hands, if you've got a crush on or are in a not-going-anywhere-friends-with-benefits-type relationship with someone who tells you he (or she, of course) is in love with someone else, can't commit to anything even if it is as small as going for coffee this afternoon, or clearly doesn't want a relationship with you but then shows up the second he thinks you may have moved on from him, you have entered Assclown Territory. So assert some boundaries and lose this dumb ass. You're not being "mean," you're looking after yourself. And that's what having high self-esteem is all about.

4) And while we're on the topic of assclowns...


Distance yourself from anyone else in your life who is really not on the same team as you if you know what I mean. Do you have friends who are flaky (never return your calls, constantly cancel at the last minute with the flimsiest of excuses), cruel (talk about you behind your back, seem happy when you don't succeed at something), or otherwise only out for themselves (only get in touch when they need a favour)? You can live without these people. Don't feel badly about ignoring them.

5) Deal appropriately with your crushes.


It is human to have crushes but there is having a crush and then there is having a long-term relationship that is literally taking place entirely in your head. If you have feelings for someone whom you know, you should obviously flirt with this person or whatever in the hopes that they catch on, but if you think you've done that extensively and they haven't caught on, it's time to bite the proverbial bullet and tell them you like them. I assure you that even if they do not reciprocate your feelings, a decent person will not make you feel ashamed. And you wouldn't want someone who was not a decent person anyway. Would you? Of course not, because you have high self-esteem.

The reason you need to come clean is because you need to get this relationship started if it is going to happen, and if it is not going to happen, you need to move on and not keep living in fantasyland. I understand that you will feel awkward about being "friends" with this person afterwards, but as I told Frustrated here, you actually should not attempt to be friends with someone who knows your feelings but does not reciprocate them because you are just going to continue the fantasy about someday winning them over or something like that. A person who tries to force this sort of friendship on you is an ego stroke-seeker and an assclown, plain and simple.

One more thing about this. If you've known the person for a reasonable amount of time, there is no reason to wait for a better moment to tell them than now. I can assure you that there will never be a moment when you will feel 100 percent sure of the outcome of the discussion, so really you're just procrastinating. And you better not be thinking anything insane like "maybe I'll ignore 10 more of their texts so they're going crazy for me and then tell them I like them." You're not going to manipulate someone into liking you, and the harder you try, the lower will your self-esteem become as you realize you're wasting all your time trying to think of what nonsensical mind game to play next.

6) If you are a vicious gossip, stop.

You don't have anything nice to say about anyone else because you are unhappy with yourself. So start looking for the good in other people and you will start to see it in yourself too.

7) Stop overcompensating.


I know the advice you usually hear about having high self-esteem is to focus on the things you like about yourself, but if the refrain in your head goes something like "I'm so great because I am a Rhodes scholar with a hot body who can pick up any girl and outdo everyone else at the office meeting all at the same time," you are probably actually unhappy with yourself and are overcompensating by focusing on things that are superficial. In fact, I would not be surprised if the people with the lowest self-esteem were the ones who seemed to have the most going for them.

So think about what your closest friends, the ones who understand who you really are, like about you. Are you deeply kind/always sincere/sharply witty/a great judge of character? This is the level at which you must be at ease with who you are. While it is nice if you think you have great hair, great hair really does not high self-esteem make.

8) Stay in on a Saturday night.


And don't feel bad about it, like it makes you a loser or something. Revel in your own company because you are fun. Don't laugh. It's true.

9) Stop engaging in behaviours that you tell yourself are "hedonistic" but are actually self-destructive.


Do you seek out casual sex with strangers/acquaintances/friends, or do you drink so much you have absolutely no idea what may have happened last night on anything remotely approaching a regular basis? If you have trouble connecting with people when you are sober and there is no sex involved, you need to ask yourself why this is, not just toss in some alcohol and sex and then hope for the best.

10) Be kind to yourself.


Of course you have made mistakes, but who has not? There are even people who have made bigger ones than you. Believe it, baby.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

A Book I'm Reading

I wanted to tell you about a book I'm reading. That's not really true, I wanted to tell you about a tiny little bit from the foreword, which was written by Dave Eggers. The tiny little bit goes like this:

"There are some people who feel that fiction should be easy to read... On the other hand, there are those who feel that fiction can be challenging... [But some readers] might actually read both kinds of fiction themselves, sometimes in the same week. There might even be - though it's impossible to prove - readers who find it possible to enjoy Thomas Pynchon one day and Elmore Leonard the next. Or even: readers who can have fun with Jonathan Franzen in the morning while wrestling with William Gaddis at night."

I obviously don't know Dave Eggers personally, so why oh why do I get such a feeling that he might be a bit of a pretentious douche?

Sunday, June 19, 2011

The Buena Vista Social Club

I know this is ridiculously old news, but if you haven't seen The Buena Vista Social Club, you should. It goes on a little long and it never really gets 'round to telling you what the Buena Vista Social Club actually is (a club in Cuba where musicians used to play together? I didn't Wikipedia it yet), but you get to see some interesting people profiled who aren't shy about telling you their story, which I like. And of course, there's the Cuban music that is the real focus of the thing. Ry Cooder, who produced the movie and the album that inspired it, said he felt when he played with this group of Cuban musicians that he'd been preparing for it his whole life, and I see why. The music is fantastically great.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

A Little More Happy Than Sad

In her book Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life, Amy Krouse Rosenthal writes about her search for a word that means being happy and sad at the same time but a little more happy than sad, like the way you feel when you listen to a Van Morrison song. She rejects "melancholy" and "bittersweet" because both of those are more sad than happy, but she eventually comes up with "wabi-sabi," which is a Japanese expression she saw defined in a magazine that apparently captures more happy than sad.

Maybe it does, but I'm thinking that you have to really understand and appreciate the nuances of a language before you can know beyond a shadow of a doubt whether a particular word is a little more happy than sad or a little more sad than happy. In other words, if Amy Krouse Rosenthal doesn't speak Japanese I don't see how she would know that "wabi-sabi" is really a little more happy than sad because it's not enough just to read a definition. So I decided I would try to think of a word in English that captures this.

And I am pleased to report that I have. How do you feel when you walk by a house you once admired with your first love? You don't feel nostalgic, which is too much happy with almost no sad, like how you might feel when you think about how much fun you had at your friend's wedding. No, you feel wistful.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Country Strong

Don't see this one. It is total crap. Should have been called "They Tried To Make Me Go To Rehab: The Musical."

Friday, June 3, 2011

Graduation Day

Do you ever feel like you get all excited for graduation day and you think you're going to get to see everyone you spent however many years with all in one place and it's going to be so great to hang out with all of them, and then before you know it, it's over and you only talked to anyone for two minutes max? And now you're panicking because you don't know when you'll see them all again, and your world feels like it's only as wide and as deep as the number of people in your class and now it's going to have to completely change? And that you might just run into one of your classmates in 10 years and you'll say hi and be happy to see them, but you'll never spend a lot of time together again and graduation day is the day you realize that's how it will be? Do you ever feel like that?

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Damn-if-I-don't-feel-healthier-already Loaf

Sometimes, you just need to detox. To do so, you will need:

2 cups bulgur
1 15-oz. can chick peas
2 carrots
2 stalks celery
a handful mushrooms
1 onion
2 or 3 cloves garlic
ketchup
soy sauce

Prepare bulgur by putting it in a pot with twice as much water, bringing to a boil, then simmering for 10 minutes or until the water is absorbed. In the meantime, chop up all the vegetables (including the garlic), then drain the chick peas and mash them up. Mix everything together along with a squirt of ketchup and a splash of soy sauce, then put it in a greased cake or bread pan. If you'll be really bent out of shape if this falls apart when you cut into it, you can crush up two tablespoons of flax seeds and mix with eight tablespoons of water, then add that too. (And then you can put on your Birkenstocks and go play guitar on a mountain.) But otherwise not necessary.

Bake at 375 degrees Fahrenheit or 180 Celsius for 45 mins or until brown on top. I swear I am not bullshitting you when I say this is delicious. I ate the whole damn thing myself and it was huge.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

All-Seasons Cold Remedy

I am not terribly good at a great many things; however, one thing at which I am consistently excellent is getting a cold in the spring, so I am a fan of this tasty cold remedy. Admittedly, this will probably not cure the common cold if that's what you've got, but it will at least make you feel like you're taking steps in the direction of curing it, which if you believe in the placebo effect may be all it takes.

You know what will cure the common cold? Actually blowing your nose instead of sniffling back all that nasty shit. And spitting into a tissue if you happen to get a drop of it in your throat. But that's a bit like telling you to eat healthy and exercise, isn't it?

Anyway you will need:

a few fresh mint leaves
a lemon
honey
water and a kettle

Boil the water in the kettle. While you're waiting for that to happen, put the mint leaves in a mug and squeeze the lemon into it. I squeezed both halves but if you're not a huge fan of the sour you can just do one. Then add a bit of honey to the mug. And I do mean a bit, super-sweet things are totally sickening. Once the water has boiled, fill the mug and let steep for a few minutes.

If it's spring and you don't have a cold but you're still dying to try this fantastic all-seasons cold remedy, then put this in the fridge and drink it iced. But make more of it.

Gute Besserung, as they say in these parts. I think.


P.S. I didn't have the right change for the Waschmaschine the other day so I went to the corner store to buy a drink. But they didn't have the right change either, which I only found out once they already thought I had committed to buying the drink, so I bought the stupid drink. Know how many other things this happened with before I got the change? A plant, a light bulb, and a book by Alice Munro translated into German. I can read that, right? Right?

Thursday, May 26, 2011

The English Language

I think the English language is really great because it doesn't differentiate between things unnecessarily. It doesn't assign a grammatical gender to objects that have no biological gender. It doesn't create awkward situations by forcing you to decide whether your relationship with someone is formal or informal before you even say "nice to meet you." I mean sheesh, life is awkward enough without shit like that.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

The Rocky Horror Picture Show

I know it's a bit rich to review a movie that certain theatres around the world have shown every night for like 30 years, but since rich is what I intend to be when I grow up that's what I'm gonna do. Now, I think that the first half hour or so of this movie - basically until they finish singing "Time Warp" which is right after the super square couple Brad and Janet get to the castle - is pure comic genius. After "Time Warp" it goes downhill pretty fast by getting weirder and weirder without getting correspondingly funnier, so you're sort of just sitting there like "how am I supposed to react to this?"

That being said, I will readily admit that I have this fantasy version of myself in which I go to the farmer's market a lot, ride a bike everywhere in nice shoes, and am never home in the evenings because I'm playing Janet in a Broadway revival (or something) of The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

Friday, May 20, 2011

More About "Frustrated"

I was super excited yesterday to get some very interesting comments on some advice I gave to a reader, two of which said that they don't think the concept of an "emotionally unavailable assclown" or a person who is generally emotionally unavailable exists, and that a person's emotional availability will vary depending on how into a given person they are. I was going to just answer them in the comments section, but then decided I had a lot to say about it so it was worth its own post.

I obviously cannot sit here and tell you with 100 percent certainty that any given person who is acting like an assclown in one situation is going to act like an assclown consistently in his every interaction (I'm gonna just keep saying "he" for now but don't forget that Assclown Corp. is an equal opportunity employer). Also, it obviously does not actually matter whether someone would be like this to everyone or just to you because you should stay away from him either way.

However, I will tell you this: the vast majority of people you meet in life will not want to date you (no offense), and will also NOT be emotionally unavailable. The difference between this vast majority of people and an assclown is that the majority will not text you a thousand times a day, make sure you know all about the secret longings of their heart, be unable to keep their hands to themselves when they are talking to you, tell you they think it would be really fun to have sex with you, or otherwise seek to fill your world with false hope by engaging in boundary-crossing behaviour. Therefore, you are unlikely to get hung up on any of them.

A person who does the above-mentioned things who does not want a real relationship with you is doing so because he has low self-esteem and wants you to give him an ego stroke. The reason I say that he is emotionally unavailable to everyone is because people who have low self-esteem tend to only want people who don't want them. That is why, if you hang out with an assclown long enough, you will pretty much certainly hear that he is hung up over an ex (often an almost comedically long-ago ex) or some other person who doesn't want him. Now if this ex or whomever were to suddenly change her mind and want him badly, he would probably quickly realize he had overestimated his interest in her and move on to someone else who doesn't want him. This is because he is looking to justify what he already believes about himself, which is that he isn't good enough. So yes, he has the capacity to like someone a lot and want a relationship with her, provided only that she doesn't want him.

The thing is, you might as well believe me because otherwise, you may fall into the all-too-easy trap of thinking that you are not "good enough" for an assclown, when in fact he is the one who is not good enough for himself.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Super-Long Post Giving Dating Advice That I'm Unqualified to Give

To my extremely great astonishment, I received a rather interesting email the other day from one of you, and I have obtained permission from the sender to answer it on here. I've edited it only for length and to get rid of identifying details. Here it is:

Hey Jennie,


I read your blog and this may sound a bit funny but I just wanted to know what you thought about this situation I'm in, if you don't mind. I just thought you might have some interesting insight. There's this boy (right, so what else is new). I first met him a few months ago when we worked together and we became friends. I think he initiated the friendship, but since then the only consistent thing he's done is been flaky. That includes in texting, showing up, etc.


The thing is, although he is inconsistent, he actually does text me a lot, and I find that I get upset if I don't hear from him. He tends to overshare emotionally in a way that confuses me, and I go from thinking he likes me one day to being convinced that he is not interested the next. Then he admitted last night that he has been told off in the past for misleading female friends into thinking he's interested when he's not. So now I'm annoyed at myself for being conned, but I can't quite bring myself to leave it at that.


So... what to do? I mean, what do you think? He has said that he is still a little hurt over his last relationship. Does that change anything?


- Frustrated in Friend Zone (btw this name was her suggestion)

P.S. He just texted me twice in 20 minutes asking me about my day because I didn't text back.


So after I picked myself off the floor and reveled in like an entire evening of egomania, I wrote a response, which goes like this:

Dear Frus,

If you want to take my advice, please just know that I am pretty much the opposite of a dating expert. However, I will nonetheless of course be happy to tell you what I think about this situation, which I have been in many times myself. From your description of this guy's behaviour, I suspect that he is what the brilliant Natalie Lue of the blog Baggage Reclaim calls an "emotionally unavailable assclown." While Baggage Reclaim is directed at an audience of heterosexual women, anyone can actually be an EUA (that's emotionally unavailable assclown, remember). But I'll just say "he" when I'm talking about an EUA since the questioner is a heterosexual woman.

OK, now that we've got that PC bullshit covered, let me tell you exactly what an EUA is. He is a person who cannot commit either to being with you or to being without you so he tries to keep a foot in your life and a hold on your attention without ever giving you reason to believe he is interested in having a real relationship. You may rest assured that if he is being an EUA to you, he is not available to anyone. So please do not go using this as a reason to feel bad about yourself.

Now, you may be thinking "but he's just flirting with me, what's so big a deal about that?" I am in fact well aware of the societal messaging that says that flirting with someone in whom you have no sincere romantic interest is harmless, even if your flirting is extremely consistent, aggressive, or shameless. However, I will tell you that behaving in this way is the domain of an EUA. A person who is emotionally available will not do it.

In spite of this, however, I am personally not a believer in keeping your feelings inside when someone you like has been flirting with you, and I am also a believer in holding assclowns responsible for their behaviour, so I would advise you to make your feelings known. After all, you don't know for sure whether this guy is an assclown. It's just a hypothesis and you have to test it out.

So you don't have to be dramatic, just ask him if he wants to go for a coffee, and make sure it's just the two of you. You should do what you have to do to communicate what you mean by this, because I can tell you right now this guy has never taken a hint in his life. Just call it a date if you think he won't get it any other way. If you think that's too weird or something, then just say whatever you have to say so that he knows what you are feeling.

If he agrees to this, gets (for sure gets) your intentions, and is actually NOT an assclown, then he will help you take the next step, i.e. you won't have to keep nervously sticking your neck out. However, if he agrees to the coffee, seems to get it, but then makes it like you're just friends when you're out together and keeps texting you afterwards (likely), or if he gets all freaked out and says he didn't mean anything like that (possible), then you have your answer: this guy is a bona fide certifiable emotionally unavailable assclown.

If this is the case, then you are not to be in touch with him. The next time he shamelessly texts you or tries to get in touch with you, you must firmly tell him that you will not continue to be in flirtatious contact with him, and he will not be in a position to question you because he said no to your offer of a real relationship. With him not in touch with you, you will be in a position to move on. And if he continues to hassle you after you've done all this and told him to leave you alone, you will presumably see him for what he would be in that case, which is an immature idiot who doesn't respect people's boundaries. And you would just ignore him, and he would know why. But all of that is the most extreme case.

I know it sounds scary to just ask someone out or tell him that you're into him, but you should respect your own feelings so that you will have closure in this situation one way or the other. This is about putting YOU and your feelings and boundaries first. Allowing this guy to occupy so much space in your head when you are not in a relationship with him will erode your self-esteem very quickly. You must do what you have to do to avoid this outcome.

Oh, and btw, "being hurt over a last relationship" is one of the hallmarks of an EUA. Know this: it is very likely ONLY in his version of events that he was completely emotionally available in that relationship. If you get rid of him, Lord only knows the laughable things he may tell people about his inability to get over you. (That doesn't mean he has suddenly become available to you, obviously. You still need to stay away.)

Good luck with this situation and much xox,
Jennie

P.S. One more little thing: please don't go thinking "but I want to be in touch with him even if he doesn't want to date me!" I mean, do you really, for any reason other than continuing to feel validated in fantasizing about him? Be honest.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Aww

1) I try my best to live by the philosophy that the world would be a better place if we could all just be a little more open about our insecurities. However, I am usually not very successful at doing this because I've been noticing that most of the time, if I were to say something like "I kind of despise people who are better looking than me" or "I'm afraid I will be middle aged and single when Kate Middleton has already married a prince, like how unfair is that," the response I generally get is "Aww."

Aww? I mean jeez. Why don't you just say "Haha it sucks that you think that about yourself because I don't think that about myself!" Aww.


2) Do you ever feel like you hear the words "my ex" nonstop because everyone you know, including people who are like 19 years old, has had way more relationships than you? And that you never say anything like "Wow you've had so many relationships" because if you did they would probably say "Aww"?

Just out of idle curiosity, I mean.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Learning the German Language, Take Zwei

I've discovered that I get really outrageously excited when I manage to fool someone into thinking I can actually speak German, even if it's only rather briefly. For instance, the other day an elderly woman asked me (in German of course) "am I at the bus stop?" and I was able to delay my great feeling of euphoria at understanding what she said for long enough to enthusiastically say "Ja!" It was almost as good as getting a like on my facebook status which needs to happen frequently otherwise I can't sleep. Let's just hope she really was at the bus stop.

Anyway, this is actually a recipe post, FOOLED YOU! Because I think I told you before (right! over here) that I was reading a book called The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake which I have now finished and it's not that good but it did make me want to eat a lemon cake. Now one thing about Germany is that aside from being totally shit at speaking the language, I also hate all the food. I mean I don't hate the groceries that you buy at the supermarket, but I do hate sandwiches with butter on them, beer, disgusting greasy sausages that smell like a pig's very recent death, and schnitzel that is like as thick as my entire body, which means that 1) I am not very fun and 2) I am making a lot of things myself. So I made a lemon cake.

If you are a person from North America who has attempted to bake a cake in Europe or vise versa, you will be aware of the majority view that says you need a metric conversion chart and a Ph.D. in quantum physics to convert between grams and cups. And if you are a person from anywhere at all that has attempted to bake a cake in your own kitchen, you will be aware of the majority view that says you cannot approximate the quantities of ingredients in baking the way you can in cooking.

Well to both of these majority views: no, say I! I attempted to follow this recipe by a British celebrity cook person called Delia Smith so if you want to do it right you can try that one (although I didn't bother with the icing or the layers or any of that nonsense which I believe is for people who have someone to impress and are not just making a cake to eat by their lonesome selves). Here is what I did and it worked like a charm. You will need:

1 regular sized teacup full of flour
a spoonful of baking powder
a shit ton of butter (like a stick or two, depending on how big they are)
bit less sugar than flour (that would be 1 regular sized teacup full minus like a bit)
3 eggs
1 lemon

Preheat your oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit or 170 degrees Celsius. Then melt the butter in a saucepan or in the microwave and let it cool. While you're waiting, zest the lemon into a big bowl (for detailed instructions see here), then cut it in half and squeeze both halves into the bowl too. Add all the other ingredients, including the butter once it's cool, and mix together with a spoon. Pour into a pretty small greased cake pan and pop it in the oven for like 20 minutes.

Now when I say this worked like a charm I mean it came out looking like this:


But it tasted nice, ok? What are you expecting from me anyway, airtight professionalism? Good, I didn't think so.

Learning the German Language, Take Eins

So far I've been organizing my posts on here into recipes, reviews, and philosophical musings, but I've decided I want to branch out from these into pointless stories too, so I've created a new category as of today. I hope you will enjoy reading these stories as much as I enjoy experiencing them. Which is a lot.

I haven't mentioned this on here before so some of you may not know, but being a hipster-in-denial, I can't just stay where I am so I am in Germany right now instead of Canada. In true hipster fashion, I signed up for a language course that is predominantly populated by new immigrants who don't speak English. My thinking at first was that this would be good for my hipster cred as well as for learning German since I would have to speak to my classmates somehow, but it turns out that learning German is impossible. If you don't believe me, I would suggest you try learning how to say even something simple like "excuse me can you please take your feet off the subway seat" which seems to be pretty much the only thing Germans say anyway.

What it turns out my language course is actually good for is indulging in what I have recently realized is my lifelong pastime of imagining what people whom I don't know very well and with whom I appear to have little in common have going on in their lives. For instance, do they mostly cook for themselves or do they mostly order takeout? If the former, do they complain about it and think it is a chore, or do they enjoy it in a sort of domesticated homebodyish way? Who would they call in case of an emergency? Are they profoundly emotionally connected to the people who are closest to them, or are they distant and withdrawn? Have they had mostly positive romantic experiences or mostly negative? Do they have high self-esteem? Good sex lives?

Then, and this is the most fun part, I can do sort of the reverse of this fantasy, which is imagining that they are asking themselves the same sorts of questions about me, and that they are coming up with answers that are very far from the truth which is that I am totally boring, a little bit anxious, frequently lonely, frequently tempted to shop.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Waste Land

Waste Land is a documentary about a guy who makes art out of garbage. I know this is a little dumb but I kind of wish the movie sucked so that I could say it's garbage too. However, the movie is pretty decent. Which I guess should delight me because that the movie isn't garbage is ironic, and we all know what the favourite thing of the hipster is.

The guy who makes art out of garbage is actually only the entryway into the real story, which is about the people whose job it is to sift through the garbage looking for recyclables in a gigantic landfill in Brazil. If there's anything hipsters and hipsters-in-denial like more than irony it's anything to do with downtrodden folks in foreign countries, so naturally I thought this was great.

Actually there was one woman named Isis Rodrigues, one of the ones who sifted through the garbage, who I really thought the whole movie should have been about because she was such a tragic figure. The guy doing the art tries to interview her to see what she's all about right near the beginning of the movie and she breaks down in tears and says that she's in love with a married truck driver. And then it turns out her life story is actually much more tragic than that, but I don't want to give the whole thing away. Anyway, I was super into this storyline because I'm a sucker for that kind of person, you know, who seems okay on the surface but probe even a little bit and all this sad stuff pours out.

I think this is out of theatres now so rent or Netflix it.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Hipster Salad with Cherry Balsamic Dressing

About 12 hours ago, in an attempt to branch out of my usual subject matter, I wrote a post about voting. I think my point was that we can't vote the developing world into having voting rights, just by casting uninformed votes. But I reread it just now and was promptly reminded of why I should never write about anything Important, because I really don't know what the fuck I am talking about. That and the fact that I got not a single comment in 12 full hours even though you guys usually give me at least one caused me to question my entire validity as a human being, which in turn caused me to delete that post. If ever I try to talk about anything so serious again, please just tell me to sod right off. We are back to the usual bs on this blog.

Remember when I told you that you don't like lettuce very much? Well, as you may know from experience, one way of solving or at least circumventing practically any problem is to throw money at it. This means that if you buy that scandalously expensive stuff that comes in a bag, says "organic" on it and looks like weeds, you may delude yourself into thinking you like lettuce much more rapidly than if you buy a head of lettuce that you have to tear into bits, will never finish, and will make your salad look like it comes from a sad 80s buffet and may just start to weep if it doesn't get to mate with the Russian dressing. I may just start to weep if I picture my supremely sorry self sitting alone in a room watching Wills and Kate get smilingly married one more time but I already told you about that.

As a hipster-in-denial, I consider it my duty to eat "salad" in place of "dinner" at least sometimes. I find this is a successful endeavor (by which I mean that I am usually not hungry in 30 minutes) provided that I eat a gigantic piece of cake immediately after the salad. And cherry balsamic dressing is rather tasty, so you might as well give this a try at least once.

You will need:

cherry jam (the good stuff. If it tastes like children's Tylenol it is not the good stuff.)
balsamic vinegar
olive oil
salt and pepper
garlic (as much as you like)
a bag of expensive greens
half a zucchini
half a yellow or orange pepper
an onion
a few cherry tomatoes (say like four)
grapes (do not leave these out, they are the best part)
protein of your choice (leftover meat or fish, beans if you're into those, whatev. Fresh mozzarella might be classy.)
cake (for dessert)

Put a bit of olive oil in a pan and press the garlic into it. Or chop up the garlic if you don't have a garlic press. I tell you that a lot.

Add the onion to the pan and cook a minute or two, then add the yellow pepper and zucchini. But chop all those three things up first. You knew that right? Cook until they're cooked which will take like five mins or so.

While those things are cooking, get out a nice big bowl and put a spoonful or two of cherry jam in the bottom. Then add a nice big splash of balsamic vinegar, a medium-sized splash of olive oil, and salt and pepper to the jam and whisk with a fork until combined. Put a big handful of greens in the bowl along with the halved cherry tomatoes and a handful or two of halved grapes. It can sit this way until you're ready to toss and eat your salad. Cool, huh?

If you're using any protein besides cheese, add it to the pan for the last minute or two of cooking. If your protein isn't pre-cooked, cook it first some other way and then do this. If it's cheese, add the cheese to the bowl with the greens, then add the cooked veggies when they're ready and toss the salad, spooning up the dressing from the bottom.

Don't forget the cake.

This bowl is bigger than it looks.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Half of Blue Valentine and The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake

1) At first I thought I'd better not review Blue Valentine on here because I fell asleep halfway through the thing. But then I remembered that I have a B.A. in English literature which means that I can form an elaborate thesis on the symbolism in a book I have never even opened, so I don't see why I shouldn't tell you that a movie I have seen a whole half of is boring, and that I don't ever want to look at Michelle Williams' gigantically bee stung lips again. Also, there is a supporting character in this movie named Bobby, which irked because is it just me or are there way more movie characters and the like named Bobby than there are people named Bobby in real life?

One more thing: something I read in the real reviews of Blue Valentine is that you only see the beginning and end of the main characters' failed relationship and not the middle, so you get no insight as to why it didn't succeed. From what I saw, I would say that's true. I know this is a bit like reading the Cliffs notes but I think we all know that sometimes reading the Cliffs notes is good enough.

2) I'm reading this actual book right now called The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender and I'm not sure what I think of it so far, but I did come across a sentence that I wanted to share with you. Remember how I was saying that ordinary things like signs and bits of pavement look heavy-hearted and morose when you're sad? Well, Aimee Bender says this:

"It can feel so lonely, to see strangers out in the day, shopping, on a day that is not a good one."

Yes, not just things but strangers too. Yes.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Lemon Butter Pasta

I haven't posted any recipes on here in a while because I've been too damn lazy to cook anything, but this is really absurdly easy and if I can do it I'm sure you can too. You will need the following, which I'm sure you already have if you've bought groceries in the last two weeks or actually pretty much ever:

Pasta (whatever kind you like, however much you think you can eat)
Olive oil
Butter
A lemon
Garlic (however much you like)
Salt and pepper

Put a pot of water on to boil and cook pasta according to package directions. Or just cook it according to the way you know how, I'm sure you're not a moron. While it's cooking, you're going to zest the lemon. I know this sounds like kind of a big deal but it's really not. Either get out a cheese grater, stick it over a bowl, and rub the lemon against the side with the smallest holes in it like this


or just peel the lemon with a veg peeler or knife and then cut it up into tiny little pieces. Sorry to be a nuisance but they really should be tiny or you'll get a mouthful of peel which is gross.

Now put a bit of olive oil in the pan and then add a sizable chunk of butter. Use more butter than oil but you do need the oil unless you seriously think you can cook this thing on crazily low heat, watch it like someone's paying you, and still not get pissed off when it burns and you have to do it again. Once the butter is melted, press the garlic into it (if you have a garlic press, if not just chop it up small and toss it in there) and cook until it smells nice, then add the lemon zest, a bit of salt and pepper, and cooked pasta (should be done by now), then stir. Cut the lemon that you zested in half and squeeze the juice from both halves into the pan and stir again. 

That's it. You're done. I'll admit that that pasta dish with just olive oil and garlic might be a little easier than this but while some may call that cuisine I personally would call it bullshit.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Children

Remember how I had that thing going for a while where I told you about things you thought you liked but you actually don't? Well just to remind you, I had lettuce, clubbing, and mingling to start with, and now I'm going to give you another one: children.

You may be one of the comparatively few people who actually admits they don't like children, in which case, I say good for you. Otherwise, you probably go 'round saying you think children are super cute, and you might even fool a few people if you're ever around a child because you're only going to be around it for two minutes. But you can't fool me. Try spending a whole day with one of these little spaz attacks and you will see how many utterly stupid questions you can tolerate before you just throw your hands up and say "You know what? I don't know why he doesn't like green eggs and ham, for chrissakes! And I know I have eaten two bags of chips today and your mom says that anyone who does that has bad eating habits but your mom can jolly well screw off. And no, I do not want to pretend to be the bad guy in some stupid game with your toys because that would only be fun for you."

But the kind of kid that makes you say those things isn't as bad as the kind of kid who obviously gets way too much positive feedback and who everyone calls "precocious." This is the kid who when the teacher in school says "how do you spell neighbour?" says "in England or America?" If you are more closely associated with a child like this than some other grownup who is also present, you will feel embarrassed every time the kid opens his mouth because he is a total pain in the ass to be around.

I think that even moms who swear up and down that they adore their kids may not really. Otherwise when you say you went to the movies last night why would they burst out with "Oh my God, I haven't been to the movies in 400 years because I have a kid."

But I'll admit that I still want kids myself because frankly, I'm a little concerned that nobody will give a shit about me when I'm old. I hope that's a good enough reason.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Royal Wedding Coverage

I wanted to come up with something clever and funny to say about the royal wedding but I couldn't think of anything that was that clever or funny, so I will tell you this instead:

I was awake in the early hours today and so could have watched the wedding on TV. I did turn it on briefly with every intention of feeling delighted for these two nice-looking celebrities from whose lives those twin demons, Loneliness and Heartache (not to mention their pesky cousin, Hard Work), will apparently be forevermore absent. But the twins were lurking in the room with me and quickly found their way into my all-too-bitter heart. So I didn't watch the wedding. I turned it off.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Studying For A Really Hard Exam

Studying for a really hard exam is the type of "who cares" bad day thing that it's socially appropriate to tell someone you don't really know about, but it is still painful enough to cause me to go to sleep feeling tense and have really vivid bad dreams. However, literally as soon as the exam is over, whether it went well or not, I forget about how painful it was to study for it. That makes it totally different than practically any other bad experience, you know? A new and better job doesn't take away the pain of having felt stupid and demoralized in your old one. A new and better relationship doesn't take away the pain of having been dumped in your old one. Those painful things become more distant, but you don't forget them like you forget studying for an exam.

So imagine if other bad things were like studying for an exam. Imagine if there was a guarantee that you only had to feel bad about your breakup for like three days or something, and then you'd have a new and better relationship right away. I bet you'd forget about the bad experience too, faster than fast.

Kind of makes me realize something, which is this: it's not the experience itself that was so bad. It's the endless business of thinking about it afterwards.