J. Awkward Prufrock Goes Back to School

Well, the good news is I’m 1/10 of the way through my master’s program! Gotta take what I can get.

But for the other 9/10, you can probably expect less frequent blog posts. I’m aiming for once a month. Turns out grad school is a lot of work. Who knew?

It’s weird to go back to school after a five-year hiatus. When I was in undergrad, I had all this energy, fueled by my starry-eyed dreams and desire to make memories. I didn’t only pull all-nighters to get work done; I pulled all-nighters just because. What?! And then I could simply brush my teeth, go to class, and be fine. Did I do the reading for class that day? Hell no! Who does the reading for class?

You know what you have to do in grad school? The reading for class. The professors acknowledge doing all of the reading is impossible, yet expected. How does that make any sense? Guys, I’m so tired.

Having been 27-years-old for nearly a week now, I can say…it’s an awful lot like being 26: if I don’t get at least 7 hours of sleep and eat some vegetables, I turn into the garbage that Oscar the Grouch sat on. A few people in my program are straight out of undergrad, and I look at the emails they send out at 1am and think, I was like you once. Ah, youth. I wonder where you disappeared to. Probably somewhere in all that time I was wishing it was the weekend. I accidentally made my life go 5 times faster.

I don’t want to complain too much. Philly is wonderful. Living with Marc is wonderful. The campus is wonderful. All of my classes are wonderful…and interesting and provocative and thoughtful…I think. I do take comfort in the fact that everyone around me looks just as confused as I feel. We’re all just trying to make it to May, merely cloaking ourselves in the scent of intellectualism (by Calvin Klein).

But the academics, I can handle. It’s tough, but I can (well…we’ll see what I say when I get my first paper back). What I’ve been the most worried about is making friends. It’s been a long time since I made a new friend. I’m a bit out of practice. And it’s so much easier when you live on campus and know you’re going to be spending the next four years with these people. This is a nine-month program and I live 30 minutes away and I don’t like to do things: all of these factors may work against me.

In these trying times, I find myself so much more aware of the things I say. Guys, that’s extremely aware. That’s beyond hyper-aware. That is a degree of awareness theoretical physicists haven’t dreamt of. Lately, after I say anything to anybody, I immediately say to myself, Everyone hates you now. Just last night, I found a potential friend in the ladies’ room. She was exiting while I was entering. Her look said that she was really chill, but not so chill that it made her superior. She had that friendly smell; of potato chips and freshly-soaped hands.

She looked at me and said, “Oh my God, I had to go to the bathroom so bad, but the professor wouldn’t stop talking.” She was paving the road for a friendship, slowly, with a small smile and open eyes.

I responded, “Yes, I know exactly what you mean.” She looked taken aback, hurt; she giggled unsurely, and darted out of the bathroom. And it dawned on me that, while my line was supposed to establish the common ground on which kinship wallows, she may have interpreted it as my telling her that her reaching out to me was preventing me from my own peeing. Everyone hates you now. 

My other friendship attempt happened in the university bookstore, where arguably the best friendships can happen. Books are sacred like that. I was at a table full of organizer journals, thinking about possibly buying one but then realizing that would prevent me from being able to tell myself that I don’t get anything done because I’m disorganized, when a girl walked over to browse. She clearly had no fear of organization and I thought maybe she could be the kind of person who would push me to be better throughout my master’s journey.

So I turned to her and cleverly said, “In the market for an organizer?”

She laughed and nodded, which I took as an affirmation that I totally should keep this act of an organizer salesperson going.

“Well you got your big ones, you small ones, your sparkly ones, your motivational sayings, animals doing animal things. Which do you find most appealing?”

At this point, I could tell that I had made it awkward. She looked confused. But for some reason, I thought that stopping at that point would make it more awkward, so I kept rambling on about the sales handles of various organizers until she walked off with one. I feel kind of bad. I’m not sure if it was the one she wanted or if she just wanted to get away from the weird girl who hangs out at the organizer table trying to make lifelong friends, or at least Facebook “happy birthday” acquaintances. We’ll never know!

It’s so hard, but I think the fact that I’ve only had a handful of disastrous social instances is rather encouraging! And I’m on smile-and-hi level with lots of people. So who knows? Maybe there is hope for this life chapter yet. Onward and awkward.

Now, back to reading about jurisprudential challenges in private university governance. Whatever that is.

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When Awkward Met Awkward

A long, long time ago (July 12, 2015), at a writers conference far, far away (Long Island, where I live), one girl (me) would defy the odds and not totally screw up a first date.

The first time I saw my boyfriend, I thought he was hitting on the girl next to me. I found myself mildly jealous, and reacted normally by going back to my room and googling him.

The second time I saw my boyfriend, I was helping myself to approximately four tacos and was heading over to the dessert table. I picked up a cookie and turned around to see his face, giving me a small smile. I reacted normally by holding my cookie up, aggressively proclaiming, “You gotta have a cookie!” And ran away as fast as I could.

The third time I saw my boyfriend, I was reading outside and saw him talking to someone inside a nearby building. I reacted normally and decided I would take the (very) long way back to my room, in the hopes that maybe I would get a bit of his attention, despite the lack of cookie in my hands. I went inside the building and (as casually as I could manage) walked by him. It was pretty anti-climactic. I exited convinced that he hadn’t seen me and headed toward my room, thinking the evening ahead of me would be filled with sales reports and a few episodes of Bob’s Burgers.

Imagine my surprise when, about ¾ of the way through my journey, I heard a panting noise and turned around to see him, out of breath, clutching his knees, and in the most gentle, sincere way, he said, “I followed you.”

So the first thing I learned about him was that he has the lightest footsteps in the entire universe and the first thing he learned about me is that I’m a really fast walker. I still constantly look around when we are walking together to make sure he’s still there.

We talked for an hour after that, just standing outside on the sidewalk. It was the most effortless conversation I’ve ever had. I wasn’t nervous. I wasn’t trying to be aloof or flirtatious or appealing. I wasn’t anything. I was just having a blast. We had inside jokes within minutes. We went to the beach and talked until nearly 2am. We made out in his car as Gypsy punk music played in the background. It was magical.

And even though a lot of crap has happened over the past couple of years (theses and job searches and career changes and health scares), I can say it has been magical ever since.

They say opposites attract. Maybe that’s true for some. I kind of think it’s a cliché used to get people to go see Rom Coms. All I can really say is that, after a string of romances one might refer to as a comedy of errors, it’s been wholly serene to be with someone who understands me. I don’t have to worry about the weird things I do or say; I don’t have to be self-conscious (of course, I will be, but that’s beside the point). We can say things to each other like, “Do you ever worry that gravity is just going to stop working?” And the other will confirm that is a perfectly reasonable thing to worry about.

I’m not perfect. Neither is he. We get stressed out and have bad days. But we have a contract that we will always be nice to each other, no matter what. After the experiences I’ve had, his strict adherence to this agreement still shocks me, and I often find myself saying, “You’re so nice to me.” And he always responds, “Of course.”

Even though I just poo-pooed the “opposites attract” cliché, I will say this to you, awkward-teers, if you’re struggling with this portion of the vast, deep, rich life you’re leading: love is out there, you deserve it (every bit of it), and it will probably happen when you least expect it. I also poo-pooed these clichés for a long time, but came around to realizing you can’t deny the facts. If an awkward, self-loathing curmudgeon like me can reel in a keeper with lines like, “You gotta have a cookie,” anything is possible.

And to you, Marc, happy anniversary. You’re the best ram gagger this side of Nevada and there is no one in this universe I’d rather be weird or worried about gravity with.

As Alain de Botton says in The Course of Love, “We don’t need to be constantly reasonable in order to have good relationships; all we need to have mastered is the occasional capacity to acknowledge with good grace that we may, in one or two areas, be somewhat insane.”

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J. Awkward Prufrock’s Next Adventure

Well, after a few weeks of apartment hunting, work retreats, and health nonsense, I’m back, baby!

Whether or not I will be able to post more frequently in the future remains to be seen. I do have other writing projects sitting on my desktop. I would ultimately have time to do both if I didn’t keep looking at Reddit theories on who killed Sister Cathy. But if I’m being honest with myself…

There are A LOT of changes happening in my life right now. Big ones. My boyfriend and I are moving to Philadelphia in a few weeks. I’ll be starting my MSEd program in Higher Education Administration at the University of Pennsylvania shortly thereafter. With the exception of my brief stint in New York City, I’ve been living a comfortable suburban existence mooching off of my parents since I graduated college in 2012. This is all fairly new to me. And scary. Change is weird.

Bear with me as I write all of this out. Making all of these decisions has been hard work and I need to put a timeline and logical flow to my thought process.

I always knew I wanted to pursue a master’s degree, and I’ve virtually spent the past five years trying to decide what the heck to get a master’s in. I even had a deposit down for an MFA program four years ago. Then I got into a bad car accident and decided the world was too much for me and I was just going to drink wine on my parents’ deck forever.

I took some graduate courses after that, did some more rounds of applications for different programs (thanks to the theatre professor who wrote me a recommendation every single time!). It was a very slow process. Finally, about a year ago, I decided I just had to pick something. All the time I’d had on my parents’ deck (coupled with a lot of therapy) allowed me to conclude that your career is just one part of you. What you do for money and who you are as a whole and complex human being simply do not equate. The American Dream is kind of warped in that way, since it preaches that they are, in fact, the same thing. What a stressful way of thinking.

The funny thing is, when I was 17 and all throughout my undergraduate education, I felt like I had to defend why I was majoring in theatre. Ever since I graduated and have dabbled in a few different career paths, I feel like I have to defend why I didn’t (and won’t) pursue theatre. People constantly ask me why I’m not acting (though I’ve never seen anyone ask a history major, “Why aren’t you historying?”). What can I say? I fell out of love with it. If someone offered me a job acting 9-5, Monday-Friday, with a decent salary and full benefits, would I do it? Maybe. I don’t know. Probably not. If someone offered me a job writing 9-5, Monday-Friday, yes, absolutely, without question. But I can write any time, in the comfort of my own home, without a crowd of people watching my every move. And in the meantime, I will just continue pledging my loyalty to the arts and dedicating my life to sealing its place as a necessary piece of community, culture, and therapy. I don’t want to act. I want to wake people up.

An MSEd is just a step toward keeping my promise to the arts. And after that, who knows? Maybe a PhD or an MFA. I really really like school.

I’ll admit, moving to a city I barely know is rather daunting. When I first went to college, in a small town called Center Valley, PA, was the first time I understood the true definition of, “New Yorker.” Philly is, of course, a major city and I’m not expecting nearly as much of a culture shock. And if New York didn’t want people to leave home, it would lower its taxes. But it’s new and it’s different and I’ve never been that savvy at urban living. I’m bad at finding “scenes.” Unless that scene is panning in on me, my antagonist, sitting in a dark room, because time has gone by since I started sitting in silence, and I don’t feel like getting up and putting on the lights.

Moving in with my boyfriend, in contrast, is one of the easiest decisions I’ve ever made. On top of his many endearing qualities, he rubs my feet without my having to ask, so he’s pretty much a necessity.

Frankly, I’m most terrified of learning how to cook. And keeping neighborhood ne’er-do-wells at bay. Don’t mess with me! I will cry!

And what can I say? Even though all of these changes have and will continue to stress me out, even though I spend hours on end questioning everything I’ve ever known about myself and living my life, even though I have no idea what the fuck I’m doing…I’m really freaking excited.

Ending My Stigma Against Myself

I recently did my Myers-Briggs personality breakdown.

For anyone who may not be familiar, the Myers-Briggs system sorts people’s personality types into sixteen different categories, based on four sets of criteria: introverted vs. extraverted, intuitive vs. sensing, thinking vs. feeling, and judging vs. perceiving.

MB

I am an INTJ. No surprises there. If you’d like to take the test, you can do so here: https://www.16personalities.com/free-personality-test (and about 999 other places on the internet).

I’ve never really been a fan of these sorts of things, but I go back and forth on why, depending on the day. Either I think it is impractical to box humans, with all of their complexities, into a simple 16 categories, or I think you’re either a dumbass or not a dumbass and there is no reason to over-complicate it.

It turns out this is a very INTJ thing to say.

Another INTJ thing: this was the most concise chart I could find, but it is taking all of my strength to ignore that it says “extrovert” instead of “extravert.” Extrovert has evolved into an acceptable spelling over the years, but it doesn’t make any linguistic sense.

A me thing: I hate myself for making that statement.

I did the test because we often use it in my office when students are struggling to find a major or a career path. I thought it would be useful for me to better understand the system so I could help the students. As I stated already, I wasn’t exactly shocked by my results, but when I started to do more research, it got a little crazy.

Reading about the INTJ experience was like reading a description of myself: the things I like, the things I’m good (and bad) at, the way I approach conflict, relationships. It was all laid out there on my computer screen.

INTJ is one of the rarest Myers-Briggs personality types, and an INTJ woman is the rarest gender/personality type combination of them all, making up roughly 0.5% of the population. Because of this, an INTJ woman notably has a harder time connecting with other women (and people in general). At first, reading all of this gave me comfort. I had some definition, a name to put to all of my questions about why some seemingly easy things, like being in public, were difficult for me, why I never felt like I was getting anywhere with people. I was just on a different plane. Not a better or worse plane, just different.

There were some qualities of a typical INTJ that I consider good qualities: they are competent workers, they have high professional standards for themselves and others, they embrace the weird and the creative, they are known as the entrepreneurs, strategists, architects. Some famous INTJs include Mark Zuckerberg, Nikolai Tesla, and other innovative thinkers.

But then, I started to get angry.

Because as I scrolled through my Google results, I started to see headlines like, “How to be a Likable INTJ Woman,” and, “Maintaining Your Femininity as an INTJ Woman,” or, “What It’s Like Being an INTJ Woman (And How to Fix it).” It was like the greater population’s consensus was that I needed to be repaired, reprogrammed. And there was nothing about being a likable INTJ man or person. Just woman.

This all started to make me think about all the times I’ve been called a bitch, arrogant, odd, crazy. How many times people have offered up ways I could improve myself, tricks and tips for behaving like a normal woman. I absorbed that information deeply within myself, as an INTJ would, and took it seriously. I set out to make myself a different me because I truly believed the me I had developed over the course of my life was poorly built. I’m really, really tired of thinking that way. It is hard to be fighting with yourself all the time.

Now that I’m older, I realize…I am odd. That’s okay. Call me odd. But if we are going to throw around nasty terms at one another, I think they should be reserved for those filled with malice, ill-intent, hatred, sadism. I’ve never approached any social situation with anything other than discomfort and obsessive concern about whether or not I’ll be wanted. I don’t think I deserve to be called a bitch because I don’t fit into your idea of what I should be. We may have different interests, but we are both human, and that means something.

And you know what? As Tina Fey once said, “bitches” get stuff done. And so do INTJ women.

 

Separate Checks Please: An Online Dating Revue

I am so pleased to present this guest post! Please enjoy this delightful excerpt from the forthcoming memoir, Separate Checks Please by the incomparable Davina Faust.


Remember when online dating was something to be embarrassed about?  Like, if anyone found out you had a profile, they’d give you that reassuring nod that screams, “I’m sorry you’re not capable of a real life connection.”  Now, it seems that every time I whine about singledom, a friend offers the same generic, “Have you tried *this dating app*?  This girl I know met her fiancé on it!!!”

Why, yes.  Yes, I have tried that app.  I’ve also tried the 14 others that you’re thinking of, too.

Here’s a little backstory before we get juicy.  I was raised in a small town where I grew up with all of my eligible bachelors.  Being the chubby girl in class, those guys either bullied me or friend zoned me early on.  I then went to an equally small college to study theatre. This means that 96% of the men in my everyday life were indeed homosexuals.  So, in 2013, I moved to Manhattan with dreams of changing my life.  Aside from my work endeavors, I was pretty stoked to be a young, single, new-fit-bodied woman with millions of men to pursue.  ONE of them had to be my other half, right?!  I’d meet him in a coffee shop, we’d talk for hours, we’d move in together within a year.

Or maybe I’d crawl out of my cave and just try online dating already.

After almost four years of being a Gotham girl, I have yet to step off of the bachelorette merry-go-round.  But, the good news is, I have spent some energy on virtually every dating app that you’ve considered.  So, if you find yourself spending another lonely (and probably tipsy) evening debating your Seamless-for-Dating options, I’m here for you, sister.

Here are the top dating apps and my personal experiences with them.

Bumble

*duration used: on and off for one year*

Bumble: a place for men of higher caliber who have zero true desire to pursue you.  Seriously, everyone on this app works as a lawyer, banker, or doctor.  Regardless of their 401K, they will all treat you equally: they won’t respond.  At least on Tinder, we’re all pretty aware that most men are only looking for sex.  On Bumble, they’re all claiming to be seeking someone special… but really only have the available time for a hookup.  On the other hand, this app taught me the importance of being a standout icebreaker, which is really just a stroke to my writing ego.  Everyone claims to despise “Hey, what’s up?” messages.  In my own profile, I boldly promised, “Swipe right and you’ll get a haiku!”  I’ve had many swipe rights and I (a woman of my word) have offered many custom-written Japanese poems.  The only one I remember vividly was one about a hot athletic nerd guitarist because I knew it had to be THE BEST ONE I HAVE EVER WRITTEN.  But, even in flexing my creative peacock feathers, the match expired after 24 hours.  In fact, only two men in all of the NYC Metro area have appreciated their personalized haikus.  The rest were either confused, robots, or dead.  If you can’t appreciate my 5-7-5, then you don’t deserve my forever vows.

Coffee Meets Bagel

*duration used: less than 3 months*  

The “Candy Crush” of dating apps.  Seriously, why do I have to collect coffee beans in order to talk to someone?  I only went on one date from this app, in which he asked me, “So, how is this going?” about 30 minutes in.  If you have to ask how it’s going, it’s probably not going well.  I also can’t even think about this app without craving a f*cking bagel.  So for the sake of my carb intake & the time it takes to find someone worth spending “beans” on, I’ll pass.

eHarmony

*duration used: 3-6 months*

You know the old guy who is in every commercial, the creator of this site?  Well, what you don’t know is that he’s also the website developer.  He sat down at his Windows 95 desktop, created the platform once, and said, “This is great and shall never be altered!” as grandpas stubbornly do.  But seriously.  The website does not appear to have been updated since the “You’ve Got Mail!” era.  It’s hideous to my millennial palette and also very crappy in function.  Every time I’d log in to having “New messages!” it was just the same message that I’d had for a week that wouldn’t mark itself as “read.”  Every time a match came up & I was disinterested, that profile would somehow still pop up on my “suggested matches” for DAYS.  When I canceled my account, the representative pleaded, “Most people find their true love in 6 months!!” I bluntly responded, “Well, sir, that’s because it takes 6 months to actually receive new matches.”  Also a fair warning to my fellow urbanites:  if you live in Manhattan, your “true love” will live approximately 3 hours away in That Little Town off of Amtrak, NJ.  Not that there’s anything wrong with TLTooA, but I certainly don’t have time to haul ass there every week.

I will say I did appreciate how comprehensive the introductory questions were.  It made me feel like, “Whoa.  eHarmony really DOES try to understand who you are so you can find the perfect fit for you!”  But, not much later, the investment seemed like a total waste.  I could probably find an equally accurate personality quiz on Buzzfeed FO FREE.  Take my advice:  do not trust your money to a random old billionaire matchmaker.  Just have your Nana set you up with her friend Belinda’s grandson.  Maybe Bingo will be awkward for them if you guys don’t work out, but at least you’ll save $60 a month.

Gym People Meet

*duration used: less than 3 months*

As a member of the #fitfam, this app was the first one I have been excited over in a LONG time.  You mean, I can find someone who doesn’t think exercising on the first date is bizarre?!?  Sign me up!!!  I eagerly composed my profile, using photos of me clearly being active as I described my 50-lb weight loss and my current regimen.  I searched for matches within 20 miles. “There are no matches.”  Odd… I’ll try again later.  I kept attempting about once a day for a week.  My first match finally surfaced… and he was from Pittsburgh.  COME ON, BRO. Whether it be poor advertising efforts or lack of bachelors truly wanting to meet me at the gym, this app tanks.  Only about 4 men use this app, and most of them were scattered around the US.  Sigh.  Guess I’ll keep eating my cheat meals alone…..

Hinge

*duration used: less than 3 months*

This app also had a lot of promise as it was kind of like network marketing for online dating.  It skims your Facebook friends’ mutual friends to see if anyone wants to be more than friends.  Great idea!  My parents met at a wedding, after all, so who’s to say my college RA doesn’t have a hot distant cousin living in my city?  Well, much like Bumble, I have yet to encounter anyone who responds.

You’re better off selling makeup and leggings to sixth degree friends than you are to get a date.

Match

*duration used: 3 months*

Another attempt at a paid service as a means to “uplevel.”  I figured, maybe all of the guys I’m meeting suck because I’m not recognizing my own worth?  If a man is willing to drop a few dollars on a quality woman, then maybe I should advertise myself as a quality woman.

In the Match vs eHarmony wrestlemania, Match wins all of the rounds.  Great filters, easy-to-read profiles, and pretty accurate in only presenting you with people that you’d be interested in.  I will say, though, that a lot of guys are lazy in completing their profiles and Match is just really good at being their hypeman.  So if you’re a nonsmoker who doesn’t want to date a smoker, that may be the only thing you have in common with this NEW FANTASTIC SOON-TO-BE-YOUR HUSBAND MATCH!!

Also, this site is BOMBARDED with men who have done a 30 day free trial to no longer log in again.  At one point, I had between 6 and 10 unread sent messages collecting dust in my outbox.  Not because the dudes were uninterested, but because I’ll never know.  They hadn’t logged in for over 3 weeks.  There were maybe one or two nice guys, but I was discouraged by my otherwise shitty response rate.  Maybe my free apps are dumpster diving, but at least I’d actually meet people on them.

My other problem with Match is that, even though I’ve said sayonara, I still get emails from them even after unsubscribing.  And if you open the emails, Match claims to NOW have men who are 100% compatible to you.  How do you know that if I’m not even logged in, Match…….?

Plenty of Fish

*duration used: about 3-6 months*

This was my first attempt at online dating.  I saw an ad for it on MySpace.  LOL.

Notice how POF has now kind of died?  I mean, it’s still out there and existing, but compared to the competition, POF went into retirement along with the rapper Ja Rule.  I’m sure as I’m typing this, my algorithms are stalking me and I’ll see a POF ad every 5 minutes.  Anyway…. this site was pretty bottom-of-the-barrel for me.  I went on a date with a guy who didn’t really speak at all.  Not exaggerating.  But, I must give credit to this endangered dating site.  One of my best friends has met her soulmate on this site, and he’s a great guy.  Some people hit jackpots, while others (ME) bid $1 thinking it’s the smart move.

Tinder

*duration used: collectively, one year*

I’ll keep it simple, with (surprise) a haiku:

Reputation’s true.
Men want booty calls only.
No husbands on here.

Zoosk

*duration used: less than 3 days*

This was another one that was heavily advertised in the early internet days.  I tried it and immediately thought, “Wait, why am I trying this?”  I don’t really remember anything about it.  My takeaways were that I never exchanged messages with anyone, and that the font/colors of the platform reminded me of the 90s board game “Mall Madness.”

And, finally. The mother of them all (for me, at least)….

OkCupid

*duration used: on-and-off for 3 years*

I think this site, by far, is the most frustrating to me.  I’ve met several people who have found their forevers on this site.  I’ve even held substantial relationships with two or three guys myself (shocking, right?).  As the other apps are 87% terrible, OkCupid just knows how to offer that, “What if this time works?” appeal.

I will also compliment OKC for improving over time.  The filters have become more accurate so you can search for men of a certain age, distance, height, and “what you’re looking for” preference.  There are probably 8 million personality questions you can answer to find someone with a pretty accurate match.  There’s also a beautiful feature known as the “filtered inbox.”  Basically, anyone who you determine to be a waste of time gets thrown into the chum bucket.  Personally, I filtered out men 40+, from anywhere more than 2 hours away, who had a “match percentage” of less than 50%.

Because all of these weirdos were all in one place, sometimes I only left my dating profile active BECAUSE of the filtered inbox.  It’s beyond entertaining.
[Here’s a shameless plug for my Instagram account @separatechecksplease, where I screenshot my most ridiculous online dating message requests.]

I’ve mentioned the 2-3 guys that had enough longevity to be significant in my life, but not enough to turn FB official.  What I haven’t mentioned are the CRAZIES.  Guys who don’t wear deodorant, guys with sweaty ponytails, and guys who sell themselves as “lazy.”  I’ve been pursued by a guy who strongly believes that humans were created by aliens, another guy who sleeps on an earthing mat (Google it), and even a guy who yelled at me on the phone 10 minutes before our date was going to be happening.  And let’s not forget the reason why I’ve taken an indefinite leave of absence from dating altogether: the stalker.  Even though I’ve told him to “move the f*ck on” multiple times, there’s still a guy in Jersey City who likes to find me on different social media platforms and probably kisses my OKC user photo every night.  Luckily, I’m social media stealthy, so I have obtained enough information should a lawyer be my next step.  Given the amount of years I’ve wasted in searching online for “the one,” I guess it was time to have my personal well-being threatened.

And there you have it.  I’m just here in NYC, trying to make my love life as fabulous as Carrie Bradshaw’s like every other twentysomething woman I know.  But, for me, it’s without the uncomfortable heels, bitchy friends, and expensive wardrobe.  And since I actually have to hustle to survive here, I don’t have time to meet fabulous people just by knowing other fabulous people.

As I conclude this, once again getting bored with my life, I’m contemplating activating this OkCupid nonsense for the 384th time.

What if this time works?

Davina Faust is New York City based and, professionally speaking, “does what she wants.” While maintaining a job as a receptionist, she is currently building multiple streams of income as a creative entrepreneur. She pursues work in the voiceover industry, operating under the name Davina Speaks, and is currently finalizing the audiobook for the novel “Pure Fyre” by KristaLyn Vetovich. After maintaining a 50 lb weightloss for years, Davina recognized her potential to pay it forward as a health coach. She is passionate in empowering women who struggle with emotional eating and other stress-related disorders; guiding them to use healthy habits as a tool to live in their happiest skin. She is an AFAA-certified PiYo Live instructor, currently pursuing a certification with Precision Nutrition, and an active celebrant of dancing like a dork on “Feel Good Friday.” And, finally, she is diving into the memoir-writing world as the author of the upcoming “Separate Checks Please,” because her love life is too chaotic NOT to share.

Davina is incredibly active on social media for all of her pursuits.
Davina Speaks – IG: @davinaspeaks, www.davinaspeaks.com, FB.com/davinaspeaks
Flab to Fierce – IG: @flabtofierce, www.flabtofierce.com, FB.com/flabtofierce
Separate Checks Please – IG: @separatechecksplease, www.separatechecksplease.com in progress!

Everything I Needed to Know About Life, I Learned from Nick at Nite

If there has been one thing I could count on in my life, it’s my ability to sit and watch TV for hours. I binge-watched before it was cool. I am the binge-watch hipster. I remember my small group of friends in high school used to brag about how little TV they watched, and I would just sit there quietly. The absolute worst punishment I could get as a kid was having TV taken away. I would write my parents long, pleading notes as to why whatever wrong I committed did not deserve such retribution. I was a good kid! TV was my friend! All summer vacation meant to me was more time to watch TV.

I had some kid-friendly favorites, like Hey Arnold! And the TGIF lineup, but by far I was most drawn to the hits of the 70s and earlier. I worshipped Nick at Nite. I lived for the Block Party Summer where they would marathon my favorites all the way through the night. I’m pretty sure my 20-year battle with insomnia was sparked by staying up until 4am watching Happy Days.

I’ve never understood the stigma that TV turns your brain to mush. To me, it’s just as credible a form of storytelling as anything else (though I have my pretentious opinions about reality TV, as any true hypocrite would). I’ve turned to TV to learn some of my most important life lessons. Sometimes, it worked. I’ve got some pretty snappy comebacks up my sleeves.

And sometimes, it didn’t.

As Plato says in The Republic, art has a place in society provided one has the antidote: we need the capacity to understand that art is a reflection of reality, but sometimes those realities are hidden underneath layers. I was not old enough to use a peeler and so I took sitcoms at face value. And so I thought that life was pretty much a series of shenanigans until someone got married or had a baby. Whether or not the shenanigans continued after that remained to be seen.

Because I was never good at making friends, being terrified of people and all, I would often use what I saw on TV as a crutch, using lines that I’d heard to make conversation and physical habits I’d learned from said shenanigans.

For example, there is an episode of I Love Lucy where Lucy goes to charm school. The charm school instructor tells Lucy that charming women swing their hips while they walk. Comedy ensued when Lucy, in response, very exaggeratedly swung her hips to their limits, causing her to lose her balance. Now I inferred that Lucy was doing it wrong, based on the laugh track, but what I picked up on was the “charming women swing their hips” point. As 8-year-old me understood it, charming people, in the very least, often got to hang out with princesses. Knowing a princess would no doubt shower me with friends and admiration, so I decided from that point forward, I was going to swing my hips when I walked.

The next day I swung my hips with every step I took. It didn’t seem to change anything, much to my disappointment. But when my class was all lined up to go to gym, the cutest boy was standing near me, and so I started swinging my hips even larger, as Lucy had done (because the reality within the comedy was Lucy’s lack of understanding how much to swing her hips but how was I supposed to know?!). The boy just looked at me and said, “Why are you walking funny?” And so my charming dreams where shattered.

Then I thought, maybe I was simply not a Lucy. Lucy was a bit older, after all. Maybe I was a Jan Brady. Jan and I had a lot in common. We were both the middle child and…actually, the similarities end there. But that was enough to make me test the Jan walk. Jan Brady had the opposite walk of Lucy. Jan kept most of her joints perfectly straight and swung her hair instead. I showed off this new groove to the boy. He responded, “Seriously, is there something wrong?”

The problem is really that I’ve never recovered from these two walks. I’ve had many people try to teach me to walk like a human but ultimately it just ends up looking like a duck, balancing big, swinging hips on top of locked knees. Just call me Lucy Brady.

This went on and on. I loved The Nanny and thought talking like Fran Drescher would make me seem streetwise and New York-witty. Nothing is cooler than the Fonz. How about buying a pleather jacket from the Gap and dropping my “ers”? Unfortunately, I’ve never been able to make a juke box go with my first, but I have gotten double prizes from a vending machine with my hips. Must be all the swinging.

I thought twitching my nose like Samantha Stevens would be a neat party trick. I probably looked like I was about to sneeze through most of the 90s. I quoted Archie Bunker when I was upset with someone. That never went over well with my parents.

I sat up at night, watching TV, and wished life was a sitcom, where I had my own laugh track and the villains got a pie to the face at the end of the episode. Or even a drama, where my woes were a tear-jerking focal point for everyone around me.

While I never succeeded in becoming a character, this did inspire my love for creating characters and for generally choosing to see the funny side of life. And so I am ever thankful to TV, especially Nick at Nite, without whom I may have been spared a lot of embarrassment in my attempts to be somebody else, but I wouldn’t have the passions or sense of humor I have today.

Now, if you’ll pardon me, it’s Spring Break and there’s a Little House marathon on so…

Should I Have Another Garlic Knot?

Should I have another garlic knot?
The meeting has only just begun.
I tried to look demure with my one pizza slice
and kept my five garlic knots hidden in a napkin.
But now that they’re gone, I find myself wanting
one more garlic knot, and there are plenty left.
Will I look like a jerk if I get another garlic knot
or will I be a hero for all the others who don’t know
if it’s okay to get up in the middle of the meeting
for another garlic knot, which the host provided?

I scan the room for clues but only find half-asleep faces
and a girl who sat next to the garlic knots and
is casually eating one right off the plate.
Clever bitch. That should’ve been my garlic knot!
How did I not think of that? Will it be weird if I move seats?
I could say there’s a draft; that’s very ladylike,
or I could slowly move down one seat at a time
and convince everyone the prime garlic knot real estate
had been my seat all along. Will they see through me?

Goddammit, this shouldn’t be this hard.
Nobody cares if I have another garlic knot.
The host, so graciously, brought them for us after all.
Wouldn’t it be ruder to not finish the garlic knots?
Or is there some unwritten rule we can’t finish the garlic knots
because the host wants them with their dinner tonight?
So if I get up to get a garlic knot, I will interrupt them
and also rob them of a tasty side dish, and I’ll lose my job
and never be able to find another one because
I’ll be the impatient garlic knot hog.

I think someone may have just asked me a question.
I can’t be sure. I only have the sudden silence in the room
as the foundation for this assumption.
A part of me really hopes the question was,
“Would you like another garlic knot?” After they notice
I was staring at the greasy, buttery treats.
Then I could answer with a resounding, “God, yes!”
and we could move on with our lives. But the rest of me
knows that even if that were the question, I’d say,
“No, I’m okay,” because clearly the root of all my issues
is that I’m worried about being judged for my garlic knot habits.
I’m still unsure of what just happened but the silence continues
so I nod my head as I often do at work when someone asks me
a question but I wasn’t paying attention. 99% of the time,
like this time, it’s good enough, so the host nods back
and continues. I sit back and imagine the taste of garlic on my tongue.

The worst thing is that I’m not even hungry.
I had a slice of pizza and five other garlic knots,
but I know that, like a true American,
I cannot and will not be okay until I have
just…one…more…

The bustle around me must mean the meeting’s adjourned.
People are gathering their bags and leaving, only a small group
remains clustered around the meeting host.  I look over
to the area where lunch had been so carefully assembled
and see that there are still eleven beautiful, glistening garlic knots.
Now is my chance. I’m going for it.

I almost feel as though I’m floating toward the garlic knots
in one majestic alley-oop. I’m soon to be free of my burden.
I roll out my arm to the plate like a flourishing red carpet
and grab a garlic knot. With fervor, I stuff it into my mouth.

I close my eyes as I chew, tasting each delicious morsel,
each delicious crumb. I’m afraid to swallow because I know
life will never be this good again. Nirvana is an extra garlic knot.
When it’s over, I open my eyes slowly to ease myself back.

Why is everyone staring at me? Why is everyone staring at me?
Did I moan with delight? Chew too loudly?
Do I have grease on my face? Did someone have dibs?
Or is a relieved stare? Because they knew my plight.
Is there such thing as a relieved stare?

I begin to back away, attempting to cloak my panic
and self-consciousness. I have to get out of here. Fast.
But before I go, I take one longing look back at the table,
remembering my journey, my ephemeral glory,
when I notice there are still three slices of pizza left.
My stomach makes a yawp of yearning. I stop for a moment.

Should I have another slice of pizza?