Wednesday, June 29, 2011

You Can't Live On Love Alone

And now for something completely different...

Now it's my turn to ask you lovely readers for some help in regards to how to make a relationship work even better!

Ok, here we go— yet again another chance for me to prove to you how painfully yet wonderfully new everything about a serious, cohabitating relationship is to me: Mealtimes. How in the name of god do you coordinate two very different people’s shared meals together in the home?

Do you cook; does he cook; do you eat separately; who plans the meals, etc? While we grocery shop together, and our Top 5 Favorite Restaurants are the same, I‘m just not used to someone coming home and asking, “What should we do for dinner?” My general response to this question thus far through the years to family members, roommates, friends, and guys has been something along the lines of, ‘uhhhhh…’ Adding to the tricky little question, he’s a vegetarian, and very health- and consumer-conscious, while I have been known to consider eating a McDouble, fries, and small soda off the Dollar Menu at McDonald’s a STEAL, and have a bad habit of grazing through whatever is quick and easy in the cabinets of the kitchen instead of making a proper meal, so that when he gets home at 7 and is starved, I’m not hungry until 9.

While we always end up figuring SOMETHING out, it just takes a little longer than I’d (impatiently as always,) like it to. So far, Dominoes has saved our stomachs more than a few times, and I recently had the bright idea of going through our amassed cookbooks together to dog-ear recipes that we’d both like to try to create a bank of dinner ideas, but after that, I’m all tapped out!

So this is the part where I ask you all, especially my wiser and less relationship-challenged readers, to please leave me any tips, hints, or tricks that you’ve found while cohabitating and coexisting with a member of the opposite sex. Grazie mille!


Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Go With The Flow

What's more hip right now than vampires? Tampons, obviously. Let's talk about vaginas, shall we?

I'll admit it-- I'm a bit of a brand whore, and I'm as loyal as the Labrador Retriever you grew up with when I find a product I like. I've worn the same American Eagle jeans since I was in middle school, because they're the cuts that fit me best. I've washed my hair with Garnier Fructis since I was a senior in high school. I only ride in Dansko paddock boots, and Ariat tall boots. I buy Barilla pasta (if it's good enough for the supermarkets in Italy, it's good enough for me). I pitched an ungodly fit when my local pharmacy changed my straight-from-the-brand Ortho Tri-Cyclin Lo to the generic birth control alternative, and had it promptly changed back. (Part of that may have been because the generic pills looked like they had been pressed by some enterprising young meth-head in his back-country trailer park, and also the fact that I am NOT willing to risk my fertility on the cheap shit, because babies are HELLA expensive.) And I have always, ALWAYS used Playtex Gentle Glide tampons (fresh scent,) for as long as...well, for as long as I've been cursing being born female and fertile.

However, this is not to say that I can't occasionally be lured away from a specific product by the seductive siren song of another. While I may be very, very loyal and monogamous in my relationships with people, my relationships with products have a tendency to sometimes end up polygamous. Take, for instance, the last time I found myself journeying down the "feminine care" aisle of my local Rite-Aid on a last-minute "Dear god, like the three bears, my bathroom cupboards are bare and Goldilocks (Little Red Riding Hood would possibly be more apt?) has come to town!" mission. There they were, right in front of me-- the pink box with the familiar script, the reassuringly large "S", the vague floral scent wafting out of the box already. But, three boxes to my right, something caught my eye. It was black. It was colorful. It was modern. It was aggressive! It was a box that said, "Hey, cool lady, let's kick this period's ass like it's past 4 AM at Bungalow 8 and you're on Andy Warhol's arm!" Someone had obviously done enough market research to pick up on the fact that a black background with bright color accents just pops off the shelf (can't express to you how many books I have mysteriously ended up owning based on the fact that my brain sees bright pink on a black cover and instantly equates it with the next Great American Novel and NYT best-seller...which never, in fact, ends up happening), because after some hemming and hawing over the comfort of the familiar versus this bright new interloper, the box of regular-weight U by Kotex Click tampons had popped right into my basket. Women will endlessly be attracted to the shiny and new.

After two trials of "Why could I not have been born a Brandon?" use, here's the list of pros and cons that I've compiled for this new product in regards to how they stand up/fill out/carry their (water) weight against my beloved Gentle Glides. As always, every woman (and her flow) is different, so just because I found it a certain way doesn't mean that you necessarily will, too. Just keep that in mind. Now that we've got that across, here are my VERY opinionated views:

From an aesthetic point of view, the box and packaging of U have it allllllll over Playtex. The tampon cartridges themselves are much smaller, which is convenient because trying to fit a super-weight Playtex tamp in the pocket of a pair of girl's jeans is pretty much like trying to shove an atomic missile into hiding inside of a lycra catsuit. You know something is in there. The U's small cartridge, ever so tiny enough to fit a handful in my summer clutch, also expands to click into place (hence the name, Kotex Click) rather neatly. I got the first box of U's when they offered blue, green, orange and yellow colors instead of the rather sickly purple they replaced the blues with, but hey. Still, they have much more personality than Gentle Glides. And I always thought a woman's tampons told you a lot about her personality.

The thinner plastic cartridge (I never understood why ANYONE, including my mother, would have ever used the cardboard cartridges; I mean, I get that they're more environmentally friendly, blah blah blah go hug a tree, but the sensation of trying to use one is like trying to insert the corner of the box of Annie's Organic Mac & Cheese you just ate for lunch into your down-undah. NO THANK YOU!) also equates to an interesting other plus for Kotex-- you know that phenomenon that happens as you get towards the end of your Time of Bleed when your vagina just kind of shuts down like a government building under attack and stops accepting any foreign bodies into it and is all, "PENIS OR BUST!" and for the life of you, you cannot plead, cajole, coerce, or force another tampon comfortably in there to save your life, or your new pair of underwear? Well, with the very slim plastic cartridge body, the U just kind of...slides by your vaj's defenses unnoticed, like Bond. No struggle, no teeth-gritting, and no more crying and pleading while in a public bathroom stall that distracts other people around you. Solid.

However, the U does fall short of my beloved Gentle Glides in a few places: Namely, the fact that the regular-weight U's are about half the size and absorbency of the regular-weight Gentle Glides. They don't expand as well to fit and leak-proof your lady-bits quite as well as Gentle Glide's cotton protection does, either, probably due to the fact that Gentle Glide's cotton tamps are roughly the same softness and fluffiness that newborn baby kittens are, while U's tamps are made of something that feels suspiciously like yesterday's newspaper that's been lining your kid sister's hamster cage overnight. It's kind of stiff, kind of hard, and has this weird...well, this weird almost shell to the cotton, which acts as kind of like a primary defense system that your bodily fluid have to breach before the damn tamp will begin to absorb. Not, generally, the best thing that one looks for in a tampon.

All in all, this one's kind of a wash. While I continue to buy my Gentle Glides for their vastly superior protection, I've also started making sure that I always have a small box of the regular-weight U's kicking around for either those really light days when my vagina decides that it's on maximum security lockdown, or for those special occasion events like summer weddings, outings on boats, or barbecues when I need either my small clutch instead of a large purse, or don't want to look like I'm smuggling Cuban cigars back into the country in my denim short's pocket. So, U by Kotex Click-- worth the fancy-shamancy hip packaging, but not worth it to entrust any new pairs of underwear to provided that like Victoria, you should want to keep your little monthly visitor a secret.


Monday, June 6, 2011

Things About Being The Best Girlfriend You Can Be That Nobody Ever Told You:

...Until now.

1.) Sometimes, guys get headaches, too. A night spent together without sleeping together is not a night wasted-- it's life. Just like you have "off" nights, men are allowed to have "off" nights and days, too. Don't take it personally. Enjoy your night of restful sleep. And if you're really torn up about it...there's always the next morning.

2.) Nannying was a really useful summer job to have as far as a skill-set for relationships go. There is absolutely no harm in asking before leaving for a trip if your partner has remembered to pack the essentials: toothbrush, deodorant, underwear, something to sleep in, cell phone charger. If he has, great. If he has somehow overlooked an item or two in his packing, he'll think you're a godsend for remembering what he didn't. It's easy, too-- just think about the things that are REALLY needed for a day or two away; while we may not be able to function without our trusty blowdryer, that's the way he feels about his deodorant. And when in doubt, just as when I was SuperNanny I always had tissues in my back pockets and a big red Mary Poppins purse full of tricks, there are a few things to always carry in your purse to make your union even smoother: tissues, band aids, breath mints or gum, cough drops, a condom or two, and water. Toys to keep him occupied while you're shopping optional.

3.) It's ok to get mad. You have emotions, too. But realize that when you start to withhold affection because of something that you haven't shared with him, you're doing more to damage your relationship than to move past the anger. If you start withholding, he'll start, because he has no clue what's going on unless you tell him. 9 times out of 10, whatever ticked you off was one of your little personality quirks or pet-peeves, and he didn't mean to do it, or doesn't think it's a big deal. You have one of two options: Address it with him, or move past it and let it go on your own. Your sour mood has the ability to affect not only you and your partner, but everyone else around you, too. I realized the other night that my tetchy mood after I felt like my significant other had been ignoring me in a social setting wasn't only dragging down my night out; my bad mood and surly attitude was dragging down him and our friend from having a good time, too. It wasn't fair to any of us, so in a quiet minute alone, I addressed it, we hugged it out, and the rest of our night was fabulous. A quick chat and a hug can repair far more than going an entire night or few days in a funk can.

4.) Let it go. Your past relationships are over, and shouldn't affect your current one any more than your elementary school friends affected your college life. Sometimes, when my ex hadn't shaved in awhile, he reminded me so much of my first boyfriend that I would get completely turned off. Other times in relationships, all the emotional bullshit and trust issues that the ex had put me through resurfaced, and undermined my current relationships, for no reason other than the fact that I was scared what happened to me in the past would happen again, just with another guy. If it's over and done with, let it be over and done with. And if it's still present, the best thing you can do for EVERYONE involved is to set boundaries. Twice now I've had my exes calling and/or texting me after the relationship ended, trying to get with me or see me. For the sake of my current relationships, I set very firm ground rules with them:
A.) Acknowledge the fact that you are in a new, committed, monogamous relationship.
B.) Let them know that while you appreciate their interest in seeing you and/or newfound desire to communicate, it's not the ideal time at the moment because you have other, more pressing issues that need your attention. Like sleep, your job, or going back to date night.
C.) But tell them when it is acceptable. 4 AM is not acceptable; I'm not always alone at night, and I enjoy my beauty sleep. Be firm in telling them to keep their dialing to daylight hours.
D.) If they're not being nice, DO assure them you will not put up with their bullshit any longer, because you're not in a relationship anymore, and you don't have to.
E.) If they are insistent about wanting to see you and talk, do it somewhere neutral, and in public, like a coffee shop or a city park. Having witnesses never hurt-- someone would be bound to see them drag your body away.
F.) Be nice, but be firm. It never cost anyone anything to be civil; remember, at one time, this person meant the world to you. If you can't at least be friendly and/or treat them like a friend, something's wrong. If they need to leave you alone, tell them that. Though it's flattering to hear that the ex wants you back, your priority now should be your new relationship, not your old ones.

5.) Everyone has a different bank account balance. Sometimes, what one partner can spend is different than what the other is capable of, and, as money is very fluid, sometimes that changes from person to person from month to month, or even from week to week. If you can't be generous in your spending, be generous in other things, instead, like in your time or your effort in the relationship. I spend a lot of time at my significant other's, so, to thank him for the nights we spend there and not at my place, I clean his house. It's easy, it doesn't take much time, but it speaks volumes that I value his space and his things as much as I do mine, and he appreciates it. If you've got a little cash, treating your boyfriend to drinks or late-night delivery is always a great "I appreciate you and like taking care of you" gesture. If you are absolutely tapped, a fun time out can be hard. However, it costs nothing to go to a local high school sports game and cuddle in the bleachers, or take a blanket and drive out into the country and go star-gazing. When in doubt, keep track of the things he mentions wanting or needing-- they can be little, like a new pair of sunglasses for summer, or big, like a new bike or the special collector's edition of his favorite TV show. When you DO have cash, referring back to your secret list of his desires will give you a shopping point to start from (great for birthdays, Christmas, and Valentine's Day presents he'll actually care about).

6.) Health issues aren't embarrassing; they're your body. If you can share your body in an intimate way, you should be able to talk openly and freely about why your period isn't going to allow you to have sex for the next 5 days, why the Chinese you just ate is sending you running for the bathroom every 15 minutes, and what a UTI is and why you have one. Women pee, shit, barf, sneeze, fart and cough just like everyone else. A fart during sex isn't the end of the world; please learn to either ignore it and move on like adults, or how to laugh it off together. A good girlfriend can talk about body issues and things relating: her birth control habits, because it's important that he understands them, too; why a clean bathroom at his place with a trash can in it is needed; any body hang-ups she has and how they affect their sex life; and any outstanding health issues that he should be aware of-- if someone needs to accompany you to your doctor visits and your parents aren't in the area, guess who should pony up? While explaining your cycle to your guy may not exactly be like asking your best friend for a tampon, both are people who should understand you, your insides and out.

7.) All girls are taught that when a guy asks you what you want-- for date night, for your birthday, for lunch-- you should say "nothing" so that he thinks you're a laid-back catch of a woman and values you more for that and ends up pulling out all the stops to make you happy. However, we've failed to take in the communication differences between men and women into account. When we tell a guy that we want "nothing" or that we "don't want to do anything special," he's going to take you at face- and word-value, and you'll be getting a whole lot of nothing instead of that whole lot of SOMETHING that you really wanted. And then guess who's going to be the one sulking? Not him. He did EXACTLY what you told him to do. So, take it into account-- while if you ask for nothing you're bound to get nothing, if you ask for EVERYTHING, you're also bound to get nothing. A nice dinner out is perfectly acceptable to ask for for your anniversary. An all-expenses-paid trip to the Taj Mahal is not. If you want the turkey club, or a dinner out, or that bracelet for your birthday, ASK. Don't make him try to read your mind. He'll appreciate your up-front-ness, and both of you will end up winning.

8.) Sometimes, when you ask him what he's thinking while he's staring at you with a goofy grin on his face, and he says "nothing," what he really means is, "I'm honestly not engaging in any brain activity right now, so stop asking me for the answers to life," NOT "I'm thinking about how you're the most gorgeous woman I've ever seen and if I were to ever meet her, I'd tell Megan Fox to get a face-lift to look more like YOU, not the other way around," like you want to hear. So stop asking him what he's thinking...just let him veg peacefully.

9.) If asked about your ex's endowment, DO NOT give solid measurements in inches and diagrams. Be vague, but truthful. Say "You fit me better," or "It wasn't all that great." Penis envy is real, and just like how you REALLY don't want to know if his ex gave better head than you do, he really doesn't need to be thinking about how he measures up to The Hammer.

10.) One of the best things you can do for your relationship is realize that the time you spend annoying each other (and it WILL happen!) is always less than the time you spend loving to be around each other. (If it's the reverse, I think you need to get out-- NOW.) If he's being chipper in the early morning before you've had your coffee and all you really want to do is tell him to shut up, sit down, and leave you alone, remember that this too shall pass, and in the next 10 minutes, he'll go back to being your average, normal, lovable boyfriend. A little memory of the good times together, and a LOT of tolerance goes a looong way in relationships. If he doesn't think he drives you mental at least twice every day because you keep it to yourself and work through it, he'll think you're Mother Teresa's hot young kid sister.