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Five Worst Fictional Boyfriends

mr-big-sex-and-the-cityI’m the type of girl that develops significant crushes on people that don’t exist. When I was in 3rd grade, I was obsessively in love with Raphael, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle. Now that I’m a full grown 29-year-old woman, my fictional crushes have evolved from six-foot amphibians who know Ju-Jitsu to zombie-killing, motorcycle riding hicks, AKA Daryl from The Walking Dead.

There are some fictional men, however, that I’d never date. Here’re five of them.

Mr. Big, Sex and the City

Despite the fact that millions of women around the world let out a collective sigh of relief when Carrie finally married him, I stand steadfast in my assertion that Mr. Big is one of the worst fictional boyfriends ever. If you’re into guys who cheat on their wives or spend approximately 5433956 hours a week at a job that entails wearing a suit, writing checks, and being mean to everyone, then he’s quite the catch.

Jim, The Office

“I’ll respect the fact that you’ve been engaged to a guy for like five years who has no intention of marrying you but I’d never cross that line. Instead, I’ll just sit here at my desk and make puppy eyes at you all day, flirt with you constantly, and take a vacation in another country on the day of your wedding, even though we’re supposed to be BFFs and I should be there on the happiest day of your life.” And after Pam does finally marry Jim and pop out a baby, he’ll buy his parents’ house without even asking for her opinion. Slick.

Tom Sloane, Daria

It’s really a shame that the best cartoon girl friendship of the mid 90’s was ruined by a boring, pseudo-intellectual with a bad mullet. Not only did Tom come between Daria and Jane, but he didn’t even understand our favorite little bifocal ball of wittiness. No Tom, we’d choose Trent over you any day of the week, thankyouverymuch.

Jordan Catalano, My So Called Life

Yes, Jordan. You may be a moody, misunderstood dreamboat that is musically gifted, but after hiding your relationship with Angela from the public, getting poor Brian Krakow to write an apology letter to her and then making her think you wrote a song about her when it was really about your stupid car – no. Just no.

 Patrick Bateman, American Psycho

Because what girl wouldn’t want to date a serial killer who cuts up prostitutes into little, tiny pieces?

Young Girls and Cyber Bullying

High school is not the entire world, but when you’re a 16-year-old girl, it’s all that matters. Last week, a 15-year-old girl named Amanda Todd allegedly took her own life after enduring years of cyber bullying. In a YouTube video posted on September 7th, Todd chronicles how she was manipulated into posting a topless picture of herself on the internet and how the photo haunted her, even after she transferred to multiple schools. Yesterday, hacker group Anonymous posted another video identifying the 32-year-old man who allegedly harassed Todd for three years.

Cyber bullying is an issue that has gained international attention after multiple teenage girls took their own lives after being hounded by their peers on social media sites. It’s a pandemic that I care deeply about, being a victim of bullying myself during my youth.

High school is hell. Between raging hormones, straddling the line between childhood and adulthood, and fitting in, it is one of the hardest times in a person’s life. Teenage girls are especially susceptible to peer pressure, low self esteem, bullying and depression.

I was diagnosed with Tourette Syndrome at the age of 11. One of the side effects of the medication they put me on was weight gain. During my early teens, I ballooned up to 180 pounds. I was huge.

During that time, I was taunted almost every day. Viciously, viciously taunted. It caused overwhelming anxiety, depression, self harm and multiple suicide attempts. I was hospitalized twice during my teen years for trying to take my own life.

Bullying can cause deep, permanent scars. It can not only cause a girl to feel like she is ugly, but that she is completely worthless. It can cause a girl to take her own life.

More people need to be aware that cyber bullying can be just as bad, or even worse, than traditional bullying. When the bullies follow you home and you have access to their cruelness in your own bedroom, there is no escape.

Parents can say, ‘Oh, my daughter can just delete her Facebook/Twitter/Tumblr/YouTube account and it’ll be fine.’ But they neglect to see that for this generation of kids, social media is their world. There is no way to unplug them completely.

What we need here is more young women to come forward and put an end to cyber bullying and the pain that it is causing these teenage girls. Young women who have been there and know that there is life after high school and that it in fact gets better.

Nobody deserves this. No girl should even think about taking her own life because of the pain her peers put her through. From one who has been there, yes, I know it seems like the pain will never end. But it does. There is a light at the end of the tunnel. And yes, you are gorgeous and worthwhile and loveable. You are worthy of a beautiful and wonderful life.

And You Will Come Out of It

At first, you won’t notice it. You will be young and freckled from too much sun, fawn-thin from too much time spent riding bikes.

You won’t notice it because children are not suppose to know sadness. It will feel more like a stirring, a fetal thing waking from a nap. It will keep you up at night worrying about death and saying awkward things on the playground that the other girls perceive as weird.

It will really sink its talons in you during your teen years. It will cause you to open yourself up, not once, but multiple times, as if bleeding enough could purify you. A hairline crack in your foundation, much like a glacier splitting softly from warmth, will start happening. And it won’t stop growing until five years later, even after the hospital visits, even after your father looks at you with a mixture of sadness and pity you can’t explain, even after it’s yawning wide open on both sides of you until you can’t tell the difference between your own darkness from the pitch black of night.

You will be 18 and a walking nerve ending. Winter will make you feel anxious. You will have a problem making female friends. You will go to Vermont. You will be 23, still awkward, still raw. You will go to New Orleans. You will be 25. You will have a good job, a dog and a Honda. You will go to Europe for the first time by yourself.

You will hide it under euphemisms. You will hide it under bulky sweaters and Miller Lite. You will hide it under poetry.

In later years, you will learn to control it, put it in a cage, shove it in the back of your closet, decorate it with pretty window curtains and flowers. You will go to the gym. You will drink plenty of water. You’ll forget about it.

But sometimes, it will come back. It will be a Sunday afternoon or an evening in autumn and you will be left on your knees. You will accidentally trip over something one morning – a book? a table? – and fall, and you will sit there in the dark crying for hours, not knowing why.

And you will come out of it. Maybe in six weeks. Maybe in six years. But you will not emerge like a race horse starting from the gate. You will not bolt into the sunshine, powerfully, charging. You will come out of it more like a victim of an oil spill, your feathers tethered by the weight of it all, flightless.

If Your Obituary Was in the Conditional

I read this article in The Hairpin and loved it so much that I wanted to write my own.

C. would have gone on that year-long backpacking trip across Europe the summer after college. She would have stuffed her eyes with wonder. She would have gone to see the Plitvice Lakes in Croatia, the ash-coated bodies of Pompeii, gotten on her knees at the foot of Vatican City. While walking down Oxford Street in London, she would duck into a pub to escape a rain storm. There, she would meet a man who would become the father of her children. She would take up painting and grow tomatoes in her backyard, fat with the promise of summer.

B. wouldn’t have listened to his father and would have majored in art instead of engineering. He would have developed a love of teaching and would have filled his classroom with the works of Monet, Cezanne, Matisse, Picasso. He would have spent his Sunday mornings in the company of a discreet yet literary dog hiking sun-drenched fields. His students would have adored him.

P. wouldn’t have had the baby. She would celebrate everyday she was free, unbound, irresponsible. She would have pursued a degree in law and worked her ass off for eight years to pass the bar. She would have loved her career passionately and host potlucks for all of her friends. Her house would be bursting with experiences, photographs of her on the beach in Praia do Sancho, a sculpture a lover once gave her, books on Buddhism. She would never have once regretted her decision.

M. would spend more time listening, less time rushing. He wouldn’t have worked 80 hour weeks at the office and missed his daughter’s soccer games. He would have eaten more peaches (he always loved the taste of peaches) and would have garnished the Christmas tree with his wife every year. He would have taken more pictures, bought that puppy and memorized the profile of his kids’ faces as they slept.

J. would have taken more risks. He wouldn’t have moved in with that one woman who lived in the blue house. He would have visited the doctor recommended to him by his parents and would have taken the medication prescribed. Life wouldn’t have been so dark, he would have seen the light hiding in the far corner across the room. He wouldn’t have given up on hope and wouldn’t have bought that gun.

What would yours say?

The Curious Case of Kotakoti

Many mothers are thankful that their teen daughters haven’t ended up as the next star of MTV’s “Sixteen and Pregnant.” But what if your daughter’s hobby was just downright creepy, regardless if she smoked meth or got knocked up in the backseat of a Chevy?

Personally, I don’t know which one is worse – a 16-year-old mother, or a 16-year-old who enjoys dressing up as a human doll. A weird new trend has taken Japanese teenagers by storm, and is quickly working its way to the States. More and more teenage girls are dolling themselves up like actual porcelain dolls, wearing frilly babydoll dresses, contact lenses to give them Bambi-doe eyes, ribbons, and braids.

Take London based teen Venus Palermo for instance. At 15,  she seems to have grown into her doll obsession rather than out of it. Posing under the screen name VenusAngelic, Venus posts YouTube tutorials for others girls who want to look like her. But this isn’t what makes her super creepy. It’s the fact that she makes herself up to be a living doll.

According to Venus, all it takes to become a modern ball-jointed doll (or BJD, as she calls it) is enlarged pupil contacts, like the ones Lady Gaga used in her video , white eye-shadow and plastic-sheen-effect powder.

Not only does she teach viewers to do their hair and makeup like dolls, but she also coaches them on how to resemble unicorns and wide-eyed, submissive puppies. And she does all this while giving you play-by-play instructions with her eerie, Harajuku little kid voice.

Another example of girls gone wild for dolls is the case of Dakota Rose, aka Kotakoti on YouTube. This petite, fawn-like girl, claiming to be 16, also gives beauty tutorials to fans. Dakota is seen as the embodiment of perfection, gaining widespread popularity in Japan and other parts of the world. But, according to internet rumors and circulating pictures, her perfection isn’t even real.

Report after report after report is revealing that Dakota has Photoshopped all of her videos and pictures before posting them online. She has not only made her eyes appear huge, but her chin, lips and face appear smaller and her breasts triple in cup size.

She’s also not 16, but really 19 years old.

Some of you may be thinking, Well, who the f!@k cares? Fashion magazines do it all of the time. Plus, she’s 19. She can make her boobs the size of small continents, with or without Photoshop.

That’s not the point. The point is that she’s posing as a 16-year-old Lolita, sexualizing herself as a young girl and teaching others to do the same.

And that’s just sick and really, really wrong.

Dakota happens to be the younger sister of scenequeen Kiki Ostrenga, who was a YouTube sensation at just 14 and featured in a Rolling Stone editorial last year. Due to her unexpected rise in internet stardom, Kiki suffered bullying, stalking, and was even raped by her 20-year-old boyfriend.

Now, after your first daughter was raped at such a young age due in large part to her YouTube fame, why on earth would a girl’s parents let her younger sister do the exact same thing?!?

And that’s where I start to criticize our society’s obsession with fame.

Venus’s mother, Margaret Palermo, doesn’t seem to be weirded out or even concerned that her daughter is dressed like a huge doll. Margaret is quoted on the UK iTV show Daybreak as saying:

‘I  would be horrified if she came home pregnant, I am not horrified if she is innocent and good girl who likes cute clothes and frills and ribbons.’

‘I am absolutely fine with that, her face is already doll-like and if she likes the style I am fine with it, I would be more worried if she came home drunk or smoked.’

Really, woman?!? REALLY????????

I feel that Venus and Dakota’s parents are hoping to win the same fame and fortune that Justin Bieber did thanks to his YouTube success. And if that means putting their teenagers in harm’s way and setting a bad example for other impressionable teens, then so be it.

London, I Love You but You’re Bringing Me Down

Do you know how you can become enamored with a city in the same way you can with a person? That’s how I feel about London. Ever since I first came here for the first time two years ago, I was crushing hard.

Well, not anymore. Coming from a city where its most devout baseball fans make themselves puke all over toddlers doesn’t really give me the credentials to harp on one of the UK’s finest metropolitan jungles. But after getting my debit card stolen, having a French guy vomit all over my bed and luggage, and suffering through five consecutive days of rain, I want to break up with London. And not just the “it’s not you, it’s me” break up. I’m more into the screaming and clothes being thrown from the second-story window kind.

People often run into troubling times while traveling, and they allow themselves to roll with the punches. And I’m truly trying my best here. But after spending three hours at the laundromat washing puke off of everything I brought here, I kinda just want to go home.

But that’d be a cop out. And I know I’d hate myself if I just gave up and hopped a plane back to Philly. So I’m giving London another chance. As I speak, a very nice British gentleman is cooking me lunch in the hostel kitchen. I’m going to Copenhagen in two days. My lovely parents are wiring me money this afternoon. My bank is overnighting me another card. Things will be okay.

On Friday afternoon, I spent five hours in a museum. The following day, I spent four hours in a library and then another hour sitting in a cafe just people watching. And then I took a nap. And then I wrote for another two hours.

I am 28-years-old and get to do whatever I want, when I want, for an entire month in Europe. A MONTH! It’s mind-blowing that I get to have this luxury as an adult with a full-time job and bills.

I keep forgetting to remind myself how blessed I am.

Things I have Learned About Travel Thus Far

I have only been in England one day. I’ll be traveling throughout the UK and Europe for the next month and I’ve already learned some valuable lessons.

– Never ever, under any circumstances, even if you are in the right, argue with a British customs agent. They will keep you there for three hours, go through your luggage, and threaten to deport you.

– French people will sleep naked. Even while they are bunking with 10 other people in a tiny room. Do not look in their direction, no matter how much you cannot believe they’ve never heard of the concept of shaving. You will be regarded as creepy.

– Showers in hostels are for efficiency, not leisure. You have to press a button every 10 seconds to get the damned water to run. Do not take a 15 minute shower. The neo-nazi vegan from Ireland will say this is why the world is ending…because of overindulgent Americans.

– Nothing good can come out of flirting with the hot Australian bartender you met.

– It is possible to make money from a cafe in Piccadilly Square. You are doing it right now.

Let’s Have a Moment of Silence for Your Dignity

According to Wikipedia, the term “beating a dead horse” is an idiom that means “a particular request or line of conversation is already foreclosed or otherwise resolved, and any attempt to continue it is futile; or that to continue in any endeavour (physical, mental, etc.) is a waste of time as the outcome is already decided.”

I tend to like to take this approach to dating. I feel the need to hit the corpse of the relationship over the head with a stick for months after the initial breakup happened just to really ensure that it’s dead. I do not recommend this method to anybody.

For women of a certain age (aka those that are about to turn 30), breakups are particularly harsh. I mean, I know our generation is evolving at a snail’s pace as far as marriage goes in  contrast to the baby boomers, and I’m not suggesting that every girl in her late 20’s wants to be jogging down the highway with a stroller in velour sweats, but there comes a time in your life when you start to question how you’ll possibly find a well adjusted dude when they all seem to have a need to dump you via text or Twitter.

I feel that one can overcome a breakup while still retaining their dignity. So, I’ve compiled this handy breakup guide that is 100% guaranteed to butcher your pride. Read it, let it sink in, and then never, EVER follow this advice.

1.) Weep openly in public: People don’t understand public displays of emotion anymore. To these people I say, crying openly in public places is perfectly healthy! In fact, more people need to break down in restaurants, pet stores and Walgreens more often. Since when did having feelings become illegal? Since when did listening to Soul Asylum’s Run Away Train at full blast on your iPod  and soulfully singing along to the lyrics while simultaneously wiping tears from your eyes at the gym become a sin? If you’ve been dumped, you have every right to start crying hysterically and hiccupping at a Frido Kahlo exhibit.

2.) Animal Hoarding: When you witness a grown woman who looks like a caricature of Glenn Danzig buying three bags of kitty litter at the grocery store, you can’t help but to visualize her returning to her one-bedroom apartment filled with various feline paraphernalia and popping open a bottle of Arbor Mist while eight cats crawl all over her. You’re feeling very vulnerable right now and the best way to feel better is to get a pet. Animals love you intensely and with unrelenting bliss! And you deserve to be reminded that you are worthy of this kind of devotion, no matter how many times you checked your ex’s email.

3.) Pull a Say Anything: So you gave your ex your heart and he gave you a pen. The next logical step is to dress up in a khaki trenchcoat and stand outside of his apartment while blaring Peter Gabriel from a boombox. If you don’t have a boombox or a khaki trenchcoat, your friend’s car radio and your gym clothes are the next best thing. Ignore the angry shouts from the neighbors. They’re just upset they don’t have the balls to semi-stalk their ex at 3am on a Tuesday. So what if you end up in the back of a cop car blubbering about how this stunt worked for John Cusack?

4.) Get Drunk Daily: Alcohol is a social lubricant. It also helps you sleep better. And you’re going to need all the help you can get while you’re facing all those long, dark and lonely hours in your big empty bed with your newly adopted family of eight cats. When drinking alone isn’t enough, you should totally get blitzed in public too! Send your ex 32 text messages about how much you miss him in one night. Have an eight minute conversation with a support beam that you thought was a person. You’ll be the center of attention after you somehow end up on the roof of a five-story building using nothing but a cherry-picker! All your friends will adore you after you urinate under a booth in Burger King! And who cares if you get a drinking problem? You’re still young enough to fix that.

5.) Impulse Buying: You just got dumped and feel like shit. You need a temporary distraction from all of your pain. You need to feel a twinge of joy again. What better way to fill that boyfriend-shaped hole in your heart than by stuffing it full of designer handbags, tickets to Europe, and gerbils?

6.) Sign Up for a Dating Site and Only Go on Dates with Men Who Look Exactly Like Your Ex: So what if your ex reminded you of a giant pile of rocks you toted around on your back and got scoliosis from? You kept that pile of rocks close, especially at night and in bed during the winter. You miss having somebody to eat Mexican with on Thurdays. Even though you hated his dancing hotdog tattoo and obsession for Bruce Campbell, you magically find yourself trolling OKCupid for men with ridiculous tattoos and an interest in zombie movies. It’s more than fine that you date clones of your ex for the next eight months and then wonder why none of these fetal relationships bloom into the real deal. It’s natural to go on a first date to Applebee’s and want to put a shoe through your face after you realize you’re more interested in reading the description about the Buffalo Blue Burger than your date’s 45-minute tangent about how your predecessor broke his heart by running over their puppy with her Jetta.

“Dont be Guilty. You aren’t Catholic. I Raised You Better than that.”

My mother is full to the brim of adorable little idioms. A couple of months ago after I threw a tantrum about owing so much money in taxes because of my freelance career (keep in mind, my dad spent endless hours doing my taxes so I wouldn’t have to pay an  H&R Block dude), she hugged me and said, “I’ve been pregnant with you for 28 years. It’s time I give birth.”

One of my favorite things my mom ever said to me was when I was in the thick of post breakup guilt. I didn’t know if I had done the right thing, and I was caught in an endless cycle of drinking too much, texting him, and then immediately regretting it. This routine, embarrassing in and of itself, drug on for two months.

I remember I was on the phone with my mom and crying about this guy for like the billionth time when all of a sudden, she said, “Don’t feel guilty. You aren’t Catholic. I raised you better than that.”

And all of a sudden, I had one of those retarded ah-hah moments that Oprah and housewives the world over are always talking about.

Guilt is a tricky little thing. It’s slippery and stubborn and sits on your shoulder whispering bullshit into your ear. It makes you put others constantly before yourself and feel like a horrible person when you take the time to do something solely for you.

I’m constantly feeling guilty. I feel guilty about not hanging out with this person and not calling this person back and saying no to this person and not working 12 hours a day, seven days a week. I feel like a criminal when I don’t go to the gym religiously or forget to floss or don’t drink eight glasses of water daily or don’t stuff my face with lean, organic chicken and locally grown lettuce.

The worst kind of guilt is the guilt you feel when you betray yourself or let yourself down. See, I had this timeline in my head of what I wanted to accomplish before I turn thirty. I’d live abroad, get my MFA, travel, write a book, work as an editor at some prestigious publishing house in some expensive city, meet a really great guy, get married, pop out a few kids, buy them ponies, and retire to a house in the ‘burbs.

The realty is, I’m single, still rent, own a bulldog, work at a real estate magazine, and travel only when I have the money, which is like, never.

I was shattered when I chose a job I moderately liked over going to England for two months. I felt beyond guilty. I felt defeated.

But slowly, very slowly, I’m beginning to see that my life is so, so rich right here in Philly. I have a great job, I still freelance on the side for a bunch of wonderful clients, I have beautiful friends, a supportive, adoring family, a kick-ass roller derby team I need to get back to, and I still get to go to Europe for a month in the summer.

We need to start being more gentle with ourselves. We need to accept that the life we have planned usually won’t unfold exactly the way we want it to. But that’s okay.

I made a promise to myself a month ago. I will be living in Europe by the age of 30 by any means necessary. And I fully intend to keep that promise to myself.

Life is too short to feel guilty. Even if you’re Catholic.

Go East, Young Woman (Or Just Go Somewhere)

Tonight I just bought another suitcase off of Amazon. I am an avid collector of suitcases. They sit, ceiling high, in a pile in my basement waiting to be used. They’re as impatient as I am to be filled with amazing things that they have seen and collected, things that they marvel at.

I have a picture of Venice as my wallpaper on my work computer. I catch myself staring at it, morning cup of Monday 9:45 am coffee poised half way between my desk and my mouth as I float off into a montage scene of me living in that picture: me reading Dickens in a little Italian cafe, sunlight pooling over the pages; me riding a gondola down a rusted canal; me marveling over the beauty of slight decay in this sinking town.

We all have a list of places we want to go. We keep these in our breast-pockets and look them over whenever we feel ourselves growing disenchanted with present circumstances.

Oh, our boss is yelling at us. I wanna go to Pans today.

The cable bill is late. Gabarone.

That guy never called me back. Nxamaseri.  Ubud. Makgadikgadi.

Say these words out loud and see what happens to you. Picture it: a dilapidated castle in Wales, a bull elephant pulling himself from the Chobe River.

I can count the number of countries I’ve been to on two hands. I want to have a passport fat with stamps. I want to collect experiences like some people collect lovers or silver spoons. I want I want I want.

Traveling is surreal for me. Nothing makes sense and everything is new. I am swept up in single serving friends, conversations with people I meet in hostels or airport bars that I’ll probably never see again.

I want to swell with memory. I want to go so far away that I start realizing how precious everything was that I left behind. I want to travel between lonely airports and snowy highways and couches of people nice enough to open their homes to me.

There is that thought that if you strip down your life, cut the flesh of friendship, of families, support systems, a regular paycheck, a bed, and peel it all away you’ll reveal a stronger version of yourself. You’ll have better posture and a deeper appreciation for humanity and a solid ability to say “no.” You’ll be whole.

Go, go, go is the refrain that keeps haunting the normalcy of my life. I find it at 3:30 pm on a Sunday as I’m writing. It sings to me while I am cleaning my kitchen, driving to work, foodshopping.

It’s an ellipses. It’s a never ending need to pack a suitcase, grab a reliable camera, and put all my shit into storage. It’s a fierce longing to stuff my eyes with wonder.

I want this more than I want to climb the career ladder, more than I want a steady boyfriend or children or a Gucci handbag. More than I want to stay.

But how do you fulfill an addiction that draws you out of your life? How do you arrive into yourself without leaving yourself behind? How do you bloom where you’re planted if you don’t allow yourself to have roots? Show me how.