obligatory v-day meta-entry

mission local – a valentine for you

actually done by that gay couple in SF that i’m more or less in love with who TECHNICALLY does know me, but i’m fairly sure i’m invisible to them.  this is, definitionally, perfect.  deserves a huuuuge heartslap. 

overall, though, i am in the totally-not-original v-day-is-stupid camp.  i despise forced acts of gratitude and the general tradition of it all.  (see xkcd in last post.) some fun stuff does get written though; my favorites from v-day 2012 +/- a day:

1) TC – 104 Ways To Break The Ice

See, I’ve always held the opinion that it doesn’t matter what you say, as long as you say something. The whole 99% of life is showing up thing which is I know is corny but which I also know is true. I mean, nobody in a bar, or the world in general, thinks you’re actually interested in the shoes or the weather or the New York Giants or the new season of Sherlock or how loud the place is or whatever — it’s just the necessary cover for the please talk to me I’m lonely that we’re all desperately communicating but don’t want to acknowledge. That’s just the ‘game’ people talk about, and there’s nothing wrong with it. For years I told partners I had a totally sweet saltwater aquarium in my apartment and did they want to come up and check it out? And not one person ever complained about my lack of an aquarium. All parties were just happy to have found a way around having to say, “Hey, I think you’re pretty and I want to kiss you.”

the above paragraph is mindblowing.  i think it’s funny and fresh and heartwarming and insightful and really fucking inspirational. and i loveee the sherlock shoutout, the secret aquarium test.  i’m also a huuuge sucker for “let me tell you how it REALLY is” pieces. 

the piece itself i feel like is REALLY META (<3).  like… it provides 104 ways to break the ice, but also tells you that there is no secret way to break the ice.  like what the article uses to lure you in is also the most irrelevant piece of the article.  a big wink. 

I checked one hundred different relationships for their first words. The rules were simple: the first line must be honest — what was actually said in that moment — and it must have led to love. Romantic love; the sort of love we’re all about. The kind we imagine on Valentine’s Day, wish for when we’re alone, fight tooth and claw to protect when we find it. That sort of love. And the lines below are the result. They’re the truth. They were all — each and every one of them — good enough to find someone love, and, I think you’ll find, something worth considering the next time you’re certain you don’t have anything to say.

2) Jezebel – The Crappy Lessons of Romantic Comedies

fairly long piece, but it strikes an impressive balance between a POV/opinion and content/data and personal narrative.  the conclusions:

That’s not why I dislike romantic comedies. Romantic comedies are made almost exclusively for and about women –- in fact, they’re the only genre that is. I dislike them because regardless of any fluffiness or mindlessness, they are powerful pieces of popular culture. Rom coms furnish us with ideas and expectations about some of the most important things in life: love, work, friendship, sex, gender roles. And some of those ideas are worryingly sexist and regressive.

To say that the romantic comedies of the last decade have been noticeably sexist and regressive is an understatement. Movies like The Ugly Truth and The Proposal upped the ante on the well-worn trope of the highly strung and socially incapable single career woman. It is nothing new to suggest that a humbling at the hands of a modern-day Petruchio is the only cure for this particular disease. But in recent years, the shrews have become higher strung, the Petruchios more chauvinistic, and the humbling more humiliating than ever before. Remember how in The Ugly Truth, Gerard Butler’s character reduces Katherine Heigl’s character, a competent, professional and authoritative adult woman, to curling up in the fetal position in the closet of her office? And how she then she falls in love with him? Tamed, indeed.

More recently, romantic comedies have given us a great deal of graphic male nudity. Male nudity is a growing trend in the genre: in the last two years, we’ve seen the barely-clad bodies of Justin Long (Going the Distance), Jake Gyllenhaal (Love and Other Drugs), Ashton Kutcher (No Strings Attached) and Justin Timberlake (Friends With Benefits). In What’s Your Number, Chris Evans’ naked butt got more screen time than most of the supporting cast put together. This taste of a future in which we objectify men as we have for so long objectified women is not the kind of gender equality we were hoping for. Furthermore, from the neck down, these men all look remarkably similar –- white, very lean and extremely muscular –- and it would not be unreasonable to wonder what repeated exposure to these kinds of images is doing to women’s ideas about the ideal male body, and to their expectations of the real men in their lives. [ahem, guilty]

Last year’s double feature of movies about casual sex -– No Strings Attached and Friends With Benefits -– is perhaps the best example of how romantic comedies tap into larger cultural conversations about gender politics. In the last five years, a vast amount of ink both, real and digital, has been spilled in arguing about whether sexual activity outside of a committed monogamous romantic relationship is bad for young women (no one seems to care that much about the effect on young men). In both these movies, casual sex doesn’t work: people develop feelings, people get hurt, and in both instances, people conclude that the best sex happens within a committed, monogamous romantic relationship. Sex and love, they decide, are inseparable, and bad things happen when you try to have sex without love. It is no coincidence that these movies came out when they did, and it is certainly no coincidence that they ended the way they did.

You might think you’re above the influence of these movies, that you’re too savvy and cynical for your expectations and ideas to be shaped by them. I certainly thought I was, and maybe you are – but you’re probably not. Romantic comedies shape the beliefs and expectations of even the most cynical and media-savvy among us, especially when they catch us at our most vulnerable.

This wouldn’t be a problem, of course, if romantic comedies depicted women and men, and sex and love, in a positive and realistic way. But they don’t. Romantic comedies teach us that a woman’s life is empty and meaningless without a man, and that any woman who believes she is happy being single is simply lying to herself. They teach us that love is only for straight white people –- skinny, beautiful straight white people, at that. They teach us that men are sex-crazed, commitment-phobic animals who have to be manipulated into romantic relationships, and that when a man really loves a woman, he’ll demonstrate his feelings with grand gestures that barely skirt the line between love and stalking.

3) Gawker – Here’s Why Your Relationship is Doomed, and Other Confessions of a Therapist

takeaways: (take them or leave them, but i thought that they were helpful)

  • some people are just incapable of forgiving; it’s not that they aren’t trying hard enough
  • splitting up can be the right decision and is not a sign of weakness/not trying “hard enough”
  • be selfless
  • the idea of long term, monogamous relationships is archaic, unsustainable

Can you tell right away which couples will break up?

No. I usually tell couples that by our third session together, we should have a good idea of whether they’re unequivocally committed to either mending or terminating the relationship. It is very difficult to do couples therapy if one or both participants have one foot in and the other out. We also have to determine if one or both participants can fully overcome the partner’s subjective wrongdoings. They can’t use those things to throw in one another’s face or to serve as the foundation for residual anger down the road. This can be difficult because while most people feel they are capable of letting go, it is extremely hard to not hold a grudge. I try to remind my clients that it does not make them a bad person if they cannot forgive transgressions; it is just who they are. It’s better to be honest about it.

What is considered relationship “success” in couple’s therapy?

A couple’s ability to stay together is as much of a crapshoot as anything. Circumstances and environments are constantly changing but people, more or less, remain who they are. In couples therapy, you’ll often find short-term success paired with long-term regression. For example, one couple I saw regularly was in flux over an affair the man had with a co-worker while they were away on business. The wife thought she could bury his affair and learn to trust him again. They were beginning to piece it back together until he began working long hours and traveling again. The circumstances were similar to when he had his affair, and she began to lose trust in him. She started treating him as if he were having another affair, even though there wasn’t really any evidence to substantiate her notion. She became accusatory and unpleasant, and he started to feel as if she would treat him the same regardless of his behavior. It became evident that she could not bury the past, and the relationship soon fell apart.

It should be noted, though, that success is not defined as staying together: A definitive plan to split with an examination of all involved factors can cleanse a couple of the stress causing their discord.

Then what are the priorities in a good relationship?

I put a good sex life behind things like philosophical alignment in financial security, child discipline, trust, not allowing your insecurities to impose on your partner, job satisfaction, substance abuse, and most importantly, selflessness.

So are most marriages doomed to fail?

It is an archaic institution designed to expire concurrent with a woman’s childbearing years, just like in the olden days. The idea of two people changing together and—more importantly— accepting each others changes over a 50-year span is delusional unless that person is undeniably your best friend in the whole world. Ever.

4) Atlantic – Cocktail Crossfire: Is Valentine’s Day for Suckers?

After you graduate from high school and stop doing funny things like writing inappropriate messages on cakes on a whim, even baking cakes at all, the world begins to envelop you with insipid inanities, things that don’t actually matter masquerading as things that do. You have obligations. People — people you are dating, or married to, or have found yourself in the situation of owing — get mad at you when you fail to fulfill those obligations, even if you didn’t know of the obligations, exactly, or chose to pretend they didn’t exist. People nag, punish, and make things miserable….You’re not a sucker if you love someone and want to tell them so. You’re a sucker if you only do it on Valentine’s Day.


Which brings me to your second point about people who spend all their time complaining about the holiday. I’d agree with you, Jen, that sometimes they are suckers, but you know what? The hating of Valentine’s Day, or at least the rebelling against it, has become its own kind of activity and that’s kind of fun too! It’s a collective anti-holiday that’s somehow become its own holiday. And one doesn’t even need to spend the day focusing on all the negativity of being miserable and alone and doomed to wither and die in some forgotten apartment, only to be found months later under a pile of unused Time Out New Yorks some day. Single folk can enjoy the holiday by going out with friends, or having friends over, or even just doing some weird thing by yourself that only you like doing. (No, not that. Well, yes, that, but not all night, sheesh.) Maybe you’d really like ordering cheese fries and getting Monte Carlo On Demand but none of your friends would. Well, who cares! As Donna Meagle would say, “Treat yo’ self.” That is a perfectly legitimate and fun way to enjoy Valentine’s Day, while other people are enjoying it in their own ways.

anti-holiday, nice.  but yes, everyone should just enjoy things the way they would like to enjoy things without judgment. 

Look, the world is a lonely and isolating place. It’s rare that a town, or city, or nation, even, gets to bond together on one day to all do vaguely the same thing. So why try to strip us of that fun by branding us suckers? Love is wonderful! Whether that’s love of a partner, of a friend, or of your damn self. Valentine’s Day is a nice, albeit silly, day set aside for showy, performative demonstrations of that love. Show the world! Or show just your significant other! Or show yourself! It’s Valentine’s Day, so why the hell not?

AND RICHARD LAWSON BRINGS IT HOME.  i miss his pieces for gawker.

how i spent valentine’s day.  intentionally ignorant/irreverent but unfortunately potentially unintentionally cruelly (4 adverbs!), met up with dave for v-day. 

2012-02-14 20.05.25

dave made this comment about how he loooooved being at the superbowl party because there were wings (i don’t know if he used the L word, but that sentiment is close) and how he looooooved google because google gave him free wings, so we decided to have a wing-a-thon.  at the place that makes wings best, safeway (!?!?!?).  (and potato salad for good measure, because…. chicken wings by themselves are an incomplete meal, Ob V.) hijinks include sitting next to obviously homeless/crazy people, finding camaraderie with a couple doing the same thing we were doing, and drinking water out of a bowl because the deli woman refused to give me a water cup.

2012-02-14 21.14.20

i then recapped the entire first season of homeland all because dave (i’m sure he regrets it at this point) made a comment about connecting the dots regarding a name (!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! if you’ve seen homeland; any self-respecting fan would recap the entire season if someone mentioned connecting names).  and then we roamed the aisles of safeway, where we contemplated buying a 50-cookie tray, challenged each other to per unit mental math (i was the better mathlete, for the record), discovered comically large containers of my favorite food in the world, and made a killing on dishwasher detergent.  unapologetically ridiculous.  to quote dave: “what happens if we’re the crazy people at safeway….”

swore to come back to safeway every v-day from this day forward.


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