Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Sober January

So, I've been doing sober January and it feels AMAZING. Like, I just feel better than everyone else, you know what I mean? I want to help people see the light like I have. The colors are so much brighter.  My productivity levels are unbelievable.  My happiness is out of this world. I'VE NEVER BEEN HAPPIER. I'm so happy right now I'm crying tears of sober joy.... is how I wish my sober January was going. I feel like dog shit. I've had a cold the entire time I've been sober because my body doesn't know what the fuck is going on and has decided the only reason I wouldn't drink would be because I'm sick, so it literally made itself sick out of confusion.  That's my theory anyway.  My anxiety is also through the roof because I'm no longer self medicating and I'm gaining weight at an alarming rate because I'm craving sugar and I don't know exactly how many cookies is equivalent to one glass of wine (ok, to 2.5 glasses of wine) and I've convinced myself that one glass is equal to approximately 6 cookies, give or take. Another symptom of sobriety seems to be run-on sentences and no paragraph breaks. In all seriousness I think it's great that this sober January thing has caught on. It's really fucking great! (The more times I say it to myself, the more I'll believe it. Right?) Cutting out alcohol is never a bad idea and I get why January is a nice time to do it.  It's the new year, you just gorged yourself over the holidays and you need a break.  But can we also talk about how January in Alaska = unrelenting darkness and sometimes a glass of wine is really fucking nice for that.  Maybe we could move this thing to March?  Just a thought. 

Monday, October 15, 2018

Ode à la Cheez-It

October 15th, 2018, 19 days since my last Cheez-It. The crunch, the taste of salt on my lips, the cheez, the delicious cheez... it haunts me. I'd estimate that 15 percent of my brain activity has been dedicated to talking myself out of eating Cheez-Its. Imagine all the world problems I could have solved if Cheez-Its were never invented.  I know people talk about having a favorite snack, but I would move mountains for a box of Cheez-Its. The only thing that will stop me from consuming an entire box is dumping them in the trash and aggressively squirting dish soap all over every last one of them. A single tear rolling down my face as I whisper "I'm sorry Cheez-Its, it's better for both of us this way."

For years I've managed to stay away from them, but sometimes a girl just wants to be bad. Bad for Cheez-Its. And boy was I bad this summer. Sweet, sweet Cheez-It bliss. I'm typically an original or white cheddar flavor gal, but I recently found a new flavor I highly recommend: pepper jack! My favorite snack in a spicy flavor? Yes please. I don't want to say it was life altering, but priorities shifted, planets realigned. Side note: I just googled "Cheez-It flavors" and, lord, there's a whole world out there just waiting for me to discover it. 

For those of you who aren't up on your Cheez-It history, Cheez-It crackers were introducted in 1921 in Dayton, Ohio, and were marketed using the tagline "A Baked Rarebit."  A baked rarebit indeed, my friends.  But, really, what the hell is it about these stupid cheese crackers that is so good? Is it the flavor? I wholeheartedly believe the Cheez-It creators (may they rest in peace) truly mastered the art of fake cheese making. I mean, move over Cheetos, you're not even in the same room. Doritos? Meh. Cheese Puffs? Second fiddle to the baked rarebit. The secret to the Cheez-It could lie in its crunch? They've got a nice snap to them. Or is it because they're baked? They don't have that greasy haven't showered in a couple days feel of a Better Cheddar. I really don't know what the secret is behind Cheez-It deliciousness, but whatever it is it's working. 

More importantly, though, who are these people living among us that are immune to the power of the Cheez-It?  My guess is that they're probably all sociopaths and they're definitely hanging out with people who say things like "I'm just not a dessert person."  The bottom line is, Cheez-Its are the fucking best and if you don't like them you're definitely a psycho killer. The secret to controlling oneself around these tasty morsels is a mystery I hope to never solve.  Never change, Cheez-Its. Never change.

Sunday, October 14, 2018

An American in Europe: Part I

Maybe some of you were good people at 19, maybe some of you were smart people at 19, and maybe some of you were good, smart people at 19 who avoided documenting your teenage years in writing. I thought I was a decent, thoughtful person too until I stupidly re-read my journals from that period of my life. I don't recommend doing this, in fact, if you come across journals from your late teens/early twenties, and you are tempted to re-read them, I recommend that you throw those journals directly into the trash, cover them up with more trash, wait until it's dark outside, put the trash in your trunk, drive somewhere far away, and burn them.  

I've been journaling since my mom gifted me my first cat-covered notebook at the age of 10. When I was younger I always wrote for an audience, imagining that my journals would become famous one day. I had grandiose dreams that they'd be unearthed and become required reading for young women across the country. Through my journals the young women of the future would better understand the hardships of the 20th and 21st centuries. In other words, I thought I was at an Anne Frank level of diary keeping -- never mind the fact that I was living a comfortable, middle-class, white person life, free of persecution. 

 I continued journaling through grade school and high school. After graduating high school, I decided to take a "gap year" with several of my close friends to backpack around Europe. We pitched the idea to our parents as an important cultural experience that would be beneficial to us in life. The thing is, parents are so much more perceptive than you give them credit for at 19, so I'm confident now that they either chose to believe us, or at the least, chose to hope we'd learn something. The trip was definitely an education, but not in the way any of us envisioned and after re-reading my journals I see now why my parents were not too worried about sending me off on this adventure... I was far too dorky to get into any real trouble. So in the Fall of 2005, I purchased a brand new journal and took off for Europe, prepared to document every detail of our cultural awakening. As I opened the first page of my journal, 13 years later, hopes were high. Andddddd, here's my first entry: 

October 7, 2005. Today was our big trip into Milan, it was pretty exciting. We went to the Duomo and it was just amazing. Anyway, Megan seems to be our little tour guide. She totes around a 500 page lonely planet. It's insane, but very informative and as long as I don't have to carry it, I don't give a shit where she takes us. 

Ooof. Not great, but not particularly jarring either; mildly interested in looking at ancient stuff, zero interest in carrying anything heavy. I also like how I used the description, "it was just amazing" like I was a middle-aged woman describing a Broadway play. I think at that point, four days into the trip, I was still trying to pretend that I hadn't gone to Europe with the sole purpose of scoping out European men, drinking legally, and eating each country's most famous dessert (to get to know each culture better, of course). 

From left to right: Bianca, Monica, Megan, and one very large Lonely Planet.

 My next entry was slightly more aggressive. 

October 9th, 2005. Yesterday Megan said some bullshit thing about how having a camera makes her look at things in a more artistic way. If I have to listen to anyone talk about artistic pictures one more time I'm going to kill myself. Monica said she didn't like having a camera all the time because she felt like she wasn't absorbing everything. The pizza is to die for here. 

What I like about this entry is that, a mere six days into the trip, my lack of interest in anything remotely artsy is really starting to blossom. Another important thing to take note of: food was quickly becoming my top and most important priority. 

Three weeks into the trip and I was giving zero fucks: 

October 20th, 2005. We finally made it to Spain! We just got back from the Harlem Jazz Club with Linda. I may have enjoyed it if we had gotten a table and I was an actual fan of jazz. I always feel like I have to defend myself when I say I don't care much for jazz, like it's a crime. Fuck jazz. Just kidding... jazz is alright. I just want to have fun instead of having to pretend I enjoy going to all these "cultured" places. Don't get me wrong I enjoy history and all that jazz. Hardy har har. Oh, it's hard to write anything meaningful when you've had a sex on the beach. 

You can imagine my horror after reading this. I want to go back in time and strangle myself. I don't even know where to begin with this entry. Seeing my name proudly signed at the bottom of this entry is especially painful. I had those thoughts, I wrote them down, and then I signed them... with my own name. I remember ordering that sex on the beach and being so nervous. I think the bartender either couldn't hear me or couldn't understand me and he made me shout the order several times, each time I did so with less and less confidence. Come to think of it now, he may have been fucking with me. I remember thinking "Play it cool, play it cool, get the order right, play it cool." I was about as cool as that jazz pun I made. The sad thing is, from what I can remember now, this was one of the best things we went and saw while we were in Spain. My other memories of Spain consist of bad dance clubs, a woman almost getting her backpack stolen at an internet cafe, sangria, and dipping a criminal number of churros into a hot chocolatey sauce.  

Two days later and things were not looking much better: 

October 22nd, 2005. One bad thing led to another and I ended up peeing on a toilet seat cover. Anyway, long story short I had a pretty damn good time except for the whole peeing all over the place thing. That put a damper on things. 
I'm pretty confident that was an accidental pun at the end there. What I want to know is, what was the one bad thing that led to the next bad thing that resulted in peeing on a toilet seat cover? Also, why did I feel this was necessary to document? 

October 24th, 2005. Bianca is about to tell us something about the opera, I hate the opera. 
October 25th, 2005. I'm really sick of looking at paintings of Christ's crucifixion... and of his mother. People really need to branch out with their art. 
Nov 4th, 2005. It seems that busting out the puzzle yesterday wasn't such a great idea. I woke up to find Monica and Bianca silently working on it and have continued to all day. It is so quiet all I can hear is their breathing and the sound of them fitting puzzle pieces into their spots.
 Oh. My. God. Face in palm. 
Nov 5th, 2005. Waiting for a flight to Paris in Bergamo and I'm sitting next to a large group of American girls, they've probably figured out I'm American too by now. They have been giggling for a solid two hours. I hope my friends and I aren't this obnoxious. I think we probably are. Update 3:35 AM: I'm going to try to get a little sleep now, the American girls have finally shut up. 

One month into my trip to Europe and I'm already far more cultured (as evidenced by my earlier entries) and mature than my fellow Americans. 

Nov. 7th, 2005. Paris is amazing! I love it! I haven't eaten this much good food in a long time: tarts, sandwiches... with hard boiled eggs on top! Croissants! Oh my lord. I'm going to turn into a fat pile of shit. Good thing we've been walking so much, Linda thinks we did about 9 miles yesterday! Linda and I sat and people watched today for a solid 4 hours. People watching is way too much fun. We just sat and commented on everything; the boy band group who posed for every photo, the BMX bikers, the rollerblader getting chased by a fat man... hilarious. I don't know, maybe it's the weather, not too hot, not too cold, but Paris is just perfect. The leaves are all turning yellow but they're still on the trees! It really is, for lack of a better word, beautiful. 

Well, apparently I had a raging hard-on for Paris. Can you blame me? While Linda and I did walk a lot the first day, we discovered the extensive subway system the second day. We also discovered tarts and treated them as snacks, eating them with reckless abandon. I would go on to gain over 30 pounds in three months. Those were the days my friend, we thought they'd never end. I love that I thought all the leaves were supposed to fall off the trees within a 24-hour period. You can take the girl out of Juneau...  

Here we are in all our Parisian glory. Lynn & Linda. Blue jeans. Blue rain jackets. Blue tennies. Green backpacks. We both went on to major in history with an emphasis in mass tart consumption. 

Nov 8th, 2005. Today we went and visited Napoleon's tomb. It was kind of tacky. Huge tomb for such a little man. 

 I stand by this statement. 

Nov. 13th, 2005. Still in Cork, we decided to stay an extra day. We haven't met anyone yet, except the weirdos that hang out in the "cinema room" at our hostel all day. We're in there a lot too though, so they probably think the same about us. A couple of cute boys stayed in our room last night, but they didn't get in until around 2:30 in the morning and they looked about 30 years old. So I guess they were men, not boys. They probably think I'm 15. Anyway, Linda has turned into quite the shit lately. She is really rude to any of the guys that talk to us because she says that Barcelona ruined her and she thinks all men are creepy now. I'll admit that most of the ones talking to us were creepy, but I'm worried that she's going to scare off ALL of them. 

I thought my trip to Europe was going to be like the movies. It was not. Linda was about 3 months less naive than me at this point. 

Megan and Monica at the movies.  We went to any English movie playing in Europe, so we saw a lot of bad movies that year. I think it was a way to combat the homesickness. 

Nov. 18th, 2005: I had way too much to drink last night and made out with an Irishman. He liked Bob Dylan and was wearing a Bruce Springsteen shirt, so that was cool. I suppose I wanted to jump on the bandwagon and make out with a random European man. It wasn't as fun as I thought it would be and I'm never going to settle for some guy I think is "okay." I'm just going to burn last night out of my mind. It's over with and hopefully that man won't be anywhere I am in the next couple of days. Oh he better not be at Harry Potter, if he ruins HP for me... I'll be pissed. 

Alright, first off, I have no clue why I was calling this guy a "man" -- looking back on it, he was probably younger than me. I remember being really freaked out when he wanted to hold my hand -- like whoaaaa dude, I'm not looking to get married I'm just trying to jump on the "make out bandwagon" because apparently that's a thing. Second, Kudos to me for requiring my make out partners to demonstrate a love of Dylan and The Boss. Finally, it is news to me that I liked Harry Potter that much. 

Monica in Galway, Ireland, making our parents very proud.

Nov. 30th, 2005: I overheard Bianca talking to her sisters on the phone and she thinks the only reason we are going to Amsterdam is to do drugs! Hmmm 1) I wouldn't say pot is really a drug in the sense that cocaine and crack are, it's more of a natural way to relax 2) I don't know if she's heard of Van Gogh but I heard that he has a couple of paintings up there 3) Why the hell else do people go to Amsterdam? 

Woweee. 1) I knew nothing about weed. The first time I tried it I was 16 and my brother told me I looked "challenged" after attempting to inhale (in front of all of his friends) and I spent the remainder of high school and my early twenties trying to avoid having to smoke it in front of anyone. 2) Bianca was correct 3) Pretty solid Van Gogh burn right there. 

Dec. 12th, 2005. We made some friends at our hostel and decided to go check out the red light district with them. We didn't really know what to do, so we decided on a 2 Euro peep show, which was pretty insane. Brenda was the woman's name I believe, quite a good actress. Later in the night we decided to go back and we got kicked out! Yes, I, Lynn Elizabeth Metcalfe, got kicked out of a 2 Euro peep show. Wow, I never thought I'd be able to say that, but now, since I've been to Amsterdam, I can. 

I was very proud of this. I might still be a little proud of this. I told this story to anyone who would listen for upwards of five years. They only allowed one person in a room and we tried to save money by shoving two people into one. This is probably too little too late, but I'd like to send my apologies to Amsterdam, it must be so annoying to be a local there.

Dec. 13th, 2005. Things I hate about Italy. 1. Everyone is always taking breaks 2. The train system is very unorganized 3. No one seems to know how to form a line.4. No one will accept big bills 5. Everyone is wearing ridiculous neon backpacks 6. Go on strike way too much 7. I can't say anything bad about the food -- it almost makes up for 1-6. 

Strangely, I loved Germany. 

Jan 7th, 2006. Poland is a lot of empty fields covered in snow.  
 Jan 14th, 2006. Poland has been the cheapest country we've visited so far. A nice meal is about eight dollars at the most. That's including a drink and possibly a dessert! If only their main dishes were something other than dumplings and some form of red meat this would be a food lover's paradise. 

 No Lynn, you did not correctly predict the next big foodie mecca of the world. 

Monica and much of what I remember from Poland. 

Jan 17th, 2006. I am now con artist. Can change dates on eurail pass. Am genius. 

I used an erasable pen and got several free trips -- until I got caught and had to pay a fine that most likely totaled the price that all my stolen train rides would have cost. I told everyone the fine was half as much as it was. Also, full disclosure, I had spelled genius incorrectly the first time and scratched it out. Sigh. 

Jan 22nd, 2006. Made it to Budapest and went to see the opera tonight. I had no idea what was going on. There was, however, and this may make the whole thing worth it dot, dot, dot: a nude scene! At one point during the play a man suddenly threw off his night gown and ran around the stage! Monica and I were quite scandalized but couldn't tear our eyes away from his gorgeous behind. All the Hungarians in the audience weren't the slightest bit fazed. I guess they're more liberal when it comes to male nudity over here. Not so liberal when it comes to fucking train tickets, they're on you about those train tickets. 

Well God's nightgown, a real man's behind! Maybe I was ready to get back on the ole make out bandwagon by this point?!  Also, Hungary must have been where they finally busted me for my genius erasable pen scam. The nudie opera was the last entry in my first journal, quite the entry to go out on! For some reason, I continued to document my thoughts in a second, longer journal. I haven't opened it yet, but I'm reasonably certain that I didn't become a better, smarter, more thoughtful person over the remaining three months of my trip. I am 100 percent certain that there will be an uptick in entries about my favorite meals. 

        To be continued.

Saturday, March 3, 2018

Finding my Good Angle

I'm not sure what the hell came over me in the last two and a half years, but my selfie posts went up exponentially.  Well, that's not true, I do know what happened to me. I went through a terrible break-up and when I say terrible I mean day after your invites went out, fianc√© calls your wedding off in a gravel pit adjacent to the downtown Wells Fargo, horribly public, small town break-up terrible.  A few weeks back I went through my pictures on Instagram and thought aloud to myself, "What. The. Fuck? What's up with all the bathing suit photos Lynn? Do you really need eight pictures of yourself in your new mirror -- you can't lie and say it's about the new mirror anymore. Everyone knows what you're doing... and also, why do the captions have nothing to do with what the picture is actually about? Oh God, you're that person." 

I went through and deleted the most egregious ones but, I'm only human, I couldn't delete the ones where I felt I was really rocking it... tastefully.  A few selfies are ok, right?  Part of me does want to cut myself and everyone else posting insane numbers of selfies some slack. I was obviously feeling insecure and just needed some friends and other random people on the internet to tell me I was pretty and that I didn't deserve to be dumped in the parking lot adjacent to the Wells Fargo.  "You deserve to be dumped at the place and time of your choosing Lynn, you are worth the best dumping in the world." But my Irish Catholic side isn't letting me off so easy.  My Irish Catholic side is like, "Lynn, you fucking moron, delete all those photos and beat yourself up about it for seven-ish days."

I want to clarify before I go any further that I'm all about posting a picture of yourself if it makes you feel good, but you know, keep it in check. Learn from my selfie mistakes.   Posting a picture of your face every other day is boring, but a selfie every now and then can be a fun way to remind people you've still got it -- just do yourself, and everyone else, a favor and caption it something like "feeling myself" or "taking a selfie because I want to."  Don't caption a selfie "love my family" if they are out of focus in the background or "loving this new cookbook" when it's a perfectly positioned photo of your amazing cleavage.  Everyone can see right through that, and I think most people would appreciate it if you just captioned it "my cleavage is looking amazing and I felt like sharing -- also I got this cookbook three years ago and I've opened it once." 

I've noticed that when most people post a selfie, their good friends (and the people who like every single photo in their feed) immediately comment: "So beautiful." "You look amazing." "Gorgeous."  It’s like some secret girl code.  I don't want to complain, because maybe some of my friends weren’t aware of the expectations I had for them regarding my selfies, but they could have really picked it up a notch.  I mean, it's kind of part of being a good supportive female friend in this day and age. When your female friend posts a selfie, you get your ass on there and post a supportive comment. #WomenSupportingWomen.  Correct me if I’m wrong, but the women’s movement is mostly built on leaving supportive comments on other women’s selfies, right? I wonder if my friends started to feel like it was an obligation?  "Oh Jesus, it's been two years now and she's still posting multiple bathing suit pics. She can't really expect me to comment on each one?  And why does she keep captioning them with random Ghandi quotes? I should tell her to stop. I'm going to tell her. I mean, when is this going to end?"

In all seriousness, I've really lucked out with the women in my life. They are the most supportive people I could ask for.  And even though their supportive selfie comment stats are lower than average, they more than make up for it in behind the scenes selfie advice:


Sabrina gave brutal, but trusted selfie advice.  She went on to text, "It's like uhh... are your lips ok?! Were you mid-sucking on a hard candy?"  Meanwhile my brain was bouncing dumb thought after dumb thought around like "I wasn't sucking on a hard candy, but should I be? Maybe that's not really my best face angle? Do I even have a best face angle? How do I make the lip pucker look more natural? I want it to look more like, 'What? This is just how my lips are.' Maybe I should show teeth? No teeth? Teeth? Lipstick? Is that lipstick on my teeth?  I'm hungry."  Obviously I was overthinking things a little, but I’d like to meet the woman who takes a selfie and posts it in under five minutes.   

So, yeah, I decided to walk back my selfie presence because I obviously can't hack it.  I wish that I had some profound thing to say about finding that my true "good angle" had nothing to do with physical beauty, but I don't. I’m still trying to figure out what my true good angle is. I honestly just looked back at my pictures over the past couple years and was embarrassed that I had posted so many boring pictures of myself and was also upset that receiving comments on my looks had seemingly become so important to me.  While I don’t think there’s anything wrong with taking pride in your appearance, I think the amount of time I spent thinking about my appearance was at worst narcissistic and at best annoying.  Snapchat doesn’t count though. I can still take selfies on Snapchat.

While I am retiring from the selfie game, I pledge to diligently post supportive selfie comments on other people's posts because #Imwithher or something.  And for all you people out there still playing the game, my last bit of advice: run all your selfies past Sabrina first.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Tinder for Townies

So you're thinking about starting a Tinder account, but you live in a small town: proceed with caution.

Small town Tindering should really be its own special subcategory of Tindering, it is rife with unique small town peril. Especially if you live in Juneau, Alaska, where there are literally no roads out. Prepare yourself mentally, you will likely come across the profiles of your high school math teacher, people you had no idea were in an open relationship (wait are they in an open relationship?) and/or your second cousin. The reality of the dating limitations that come with living in a town that you can only escape on boat or plane will come closing in on you and quickly start to feel something like this:

Star Wars Episode Trash Compactor
make funny GIFs like this at MakeaGif

You might find yourself drowning out the sound of your friends discussing what photos you should use for your new Tinder account, gazing off in a thousand mile stare, wondering: how the fuck did I get here?  What great tragedy has lead me to this? The thing is, it doesn't matter how you got here, you're here now and you might as well embrace it and start swiping left on your cousins (although if you get desperate I believe 1st cousins are legal in Alaska) and swiping right on that person you've known most of your life, but never dated -- and there's probably a good reason for it -- but you know, you're almost 30 and your life just imploded, so maybe there's something you missed about that guy's personality during the 20 years you spent in school together, and really, just stop thinking so much.

Once you've decided to take the plunge and create a Tinder account, the first thing you need to do is choose your profile pictures.  It is important that you get this right, it is not as easy as it sounds.  If you're a woman, don't worry about describing yourself in the "about me" section, men aren't going to read it.  In fact most men won't even scroll through all your pictures. If you aren't obviously dying of syphilis, they'll swipe right.  If you're a man, the description can make you or break you, I suggest that you avoid sentences like "Come wander with me. . ." or, "If you don't like me, too bad." 

When choosing my own profile pictures, my friends explained to me that I'd get "more hits" using this picture:
Instead of this picture:

. . . because studies show that men swipe right more when you hit that perfect balance of outdoorsy, but not too hardcore.  And by "studies" I mean an episode of Freakonomics that I heard secondhand.

Personally, I thought the second picture was better.  I mean, look at that form, that jacket gracefully billowing in the wind. On a biological level alone, shouldn't men be attracted to this? Those spandex shorts don't lie... they are showcasing some real-woman birthing hips, who doesn't like sturdy barbie? This picture further illustrates how much of your shit I could carry if we were in some sort of dire situation, while still remaining feminine with a nice blue scarf and pink handlebars. What's not to like?  According to my friends and Freakonomics, a lot.  Although, I suppose I have to agree that the first picture is saying, "hey look, I'm laid-back cool girl, I like to bike, but I'm not about to get too sweaty or concern myself with practical footwear." 

When making a Tinder account, my advice is: listen to your friends.  The first photo, along with the image below, are my most successful conversation starters.

I'd like to think that the green dress pic sends a "hey, I'm funny, but more importantly, I'm sexy-funny" vibe, but maybe it's more of a "hey, I'm a fun, classy alcoholic from the past" vibe? Either way, it's working.

I've noticed that almost all men on Tinder (that I'm swiping right on -- so this says more about me than them) use the same five images:

1) A photo of them doing something in the snow (skiing, snowboarding, snowmobiling, or just standing, looking comfortable in snowy conditions).
2)  A picture with their dog (which they will want you to meet, because: yay, dogs are so fucking amazing and everyone who owns a dog has the greatest fucking dog ever).
3) A picture with a group of women (to show that other attractive women find them harmless enough to allow them to be photographed together).
4) A picture with their mom (to show you that they have a healthy relationship with their family, which is important, but who knows if that's really their mom, it could just be some old lady they found on the streets).
5) A photo of them fishing (to show that they can provide for you and maybe teach you something too -- although I've never come across a hunting photo which, if the goal really is to show women that you can provide for them, would be more effective than one fish.  Maybe that's not the goal, though? Maybe these men aren't putting any thought into this whatsoever? Get out of your head, Lynn).

Pictures I'm not swiping right on:
1) Men in front of large vehicles.
2) Shirtless-man mirror selfies.
3) Men chugging large quantities of alcohol, being cheered on by other men.
4) Men attending any sort of desert rave.
5) Men wearing tank tops.

Setting your mileage radius is the final part of the process.  In Southeast Alaska, in the summer, you can set your radius to a reasonable 100 miles. In the winter, you're going to want to crank that thing up to 1,000+ miles. And no, they don't actually allow you to set your radius that high, but they fucking should.

Having conversations and attempting to date on Tinder are where things really start to get interesting.  You'd think that most conversations would begin with something as simple as "hi, how are you?" or "where are you from?"  Nope.  A quick "Tinder dating tips" search on Google provides insight into what kind of advice is out there for men on Tinder, and why you may not be receiving any standard conversation starters:

1) "The best lines trigger emotional responses... Avoid being generic." (You are one of many men jockeying for position, you have one chance to get this right.)
2) "At some point, she'll ask what you do for a living.  Have an answer prepared ahead of time: 'Beginning a new business endeavor soon' sounds better than 'I'm unemployed and unsure what to do next.'" (Lie, lie to them.)
3) "Do not send too many messages, or messages that are too long." (Try to trigger those emotional responses in 10 words or less.)
4) "Reference details in her photos, but avoid complimenting her looks." (Pretend Tinder is not a dating app based solely on physical appearance.)
5) "Present yourself as genuinely interested in her personality." (Again, lie to them.)
6) "Build a rapport so that you can eventually take the conversation off of Tinder" and "Move the conversation off of Tinder as quickly as possible." (Separate her from the herd.)
And my personal favorite, 7) "You will open with a lot of girls, so it's important to make it time efficient.  Focus on a few lines that not only work but are also easily adjustable.  It will take some time to find your best opening lines, choose about five different ones and try each on at least ten girls.  Afterward compare the results and keep testing the best lines even more."

Holy Jesus fuck, you want men to start tracking their Tinder opening line success rate on some sort of chart?  I'm imagining all the men of Tinder doing this:


Then urgently analyzing the facts and figures, saying fuck it, and going with: "Hi, you're hott? Want to bone?"

After reading all of the shit advice that's out there for men using Tinder, I'm beginning to understand why my own experiences have been so strange.   The two weirdest experiences so far being: 1) a self portrait of one man's fellatio fantasy, while out to sea on his very woman-less fishing vessel -- it included a beautiful rendition of his man-bun; and 2) a hand written, and hand delivered, letter from a man asking if there had been "some sort of glitch" after I deleted my tinder account.  Very awkward -- avoid this type of interaction at all costs. I'd also like to point out that these two things are setting the weirdness bar pretty high, so the other interactions I've had, while better, are still pretty odd, i.e. getting offered a "free" professional massage in exchange for tacos.

I have to admit that number 1 was actually hilarious, the only mistake I made there was deleting that beautiful piece of art from my phone, I truly regret that.  The events that lead to number 2, however, were due to several critical mistakes made on my part. I know that you're thinking telling the person where I work was the first and worst mistake I made, but I would argue that leading this man to believe that: a) I liked dogs; b) I was into mountain biking; and c) I wanted to watch Finding Nemo as a date -- was where things really started to go wrong. In hindsight it all seems so clear, but it's that thing where it's winter and you're trying to date in, not only a small town, but a small town in Alaska, where there are no roads in and out... and the lines start to blur and you tell yourself, "a massage in exchange for tacos is actually just a really good deal," or "you could be a dog person, just work on not flinching so obviously when the dog inevitably jams its face into your crotch and pretend to listen when he tells you its name" or more concerningly, "Finding Nemo was a pretty good movie, I could do a Finding Nemo date."

So if you live in a small town and you feel like signing up for Tinder, all I ask is that you go into this with your eyes open, knowing that successfully avoiding someone is a luxury we small town folks will never know.  Just when you think you've gotten out of something scot-free, the door will swing open, and your stomach will turn as you watch your Tinder match slowly walk towards you, handing you a note, asking you to Tinder him again. Be careful out there and Tinder with caution.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Rules to Surviving a Broken Engagement in a Small Town

Rule # 1, and the most important rule of all: Do not live in a small town.

Just don't do it.  It's really great to be anonymous in these situations.  Going to the grocery store without running into your 5th grade teacher and your gynecologist is a luxury I may never know.  So if you can avoid living in a small town, just take my advice and do so.  It's hard to determine when a life crisis will occur, but if you have any sort of inkling that one is approaching, buy a plane ticket and leave.  Until you hear that someone else is going through a life crisis, it is not safe to come back. If that is not an option for you, continue reading.

Rule # 2: Create your own story.

First off, if you live in a small town, you can't actually allow yourself to get upset by rumors, because, face it, you've probably participated in spreading rumors and/or have gotten some sort of sick pleasure out of them.  It's a sad part of life, but humans gossip, especially in a small town.  I'd suggest that instead of letting rumors upset you, or worse, trying to correct false rumors, start creating your own.  Trying to correct false rumors will get you nowhere, because everyone wants to believe that your life is more exciting then it is, which, if you think about it, is actually kind of flattering.  The reality of your break-up is too boringly "run of the mill" sad for anyone to want to talk about, so they're going to make up their own version.  What you need to do is subtly control the story in a way that makes you look amazing, just remember to always start things off by saying, "Don't tell anyone, but..." 

1. I was too adventurous and open-minded.
2. He didn't want cats...
3. I was, and I know this is going to sound weird, too financially stable and responsible.
4. We actually got along too well? I know, strange.
5. We couldn't agree on the next series we wanted to get into.

Eventually people will become bored and move on.

Rule # 3: Prepare yourself for "pity face."

The absolute worst part about a broken engagement is receiving the "pity face."  It is its own special kind of hell.  You will most likely receive the best and most prolonged pity faces from the women who never really liked you in the first place.  "Oh my god Lynn, I'm sooooo sorry.  Lynnn, oh, god, how are you doingggg?  That is just the worst, most horrible thing that could ever happen to anyone. Lynnnn you poooooor thinggggg."  They will often find ways to bring your predicament back into the conversation, after it has already been addressed.  I like to tackle this head on by saying things like, "Well thank you, but I'm not dying."  Making people really uncomfortable can also be fun, try dead panning things like, "Oh, no. It's great actually.  I've been really wanting to get some alone time and move back into my childhood bedroom anyway."  To those people I say, flip them an inner bird and forget about it.  Life goes on.  

Rule # 4: Game of Thrones

Now is a nice time to become invested in a series that everyone has told you to watch, but you haven't felt like putting the time in for.  Well, you've got a lot of free time now and zoning out can be really helpful.* The show doesn't have to be Game of Thrones, but I'd suggest picking something that is as far removed from real life as possible.  For me that's dragons, people getting their hands chopped off, and zombie armies riding creepy dead horses.  It is great. 

*You can also zone out by exercising, which is both healthier and more productive than watching Game of Thrones, but for the first couple weeks after a break-up you get to be very selfish and self-indulgent.  You can always go on a jog later.

Rule # 5: Don't beat yourself up.

Yeah, you just watched three seasons of Game of Thrones in two days, so what?  You are allowed to go into the dark hole that is your childhood bedroom and have your reflecting time.  Don't let anyone take that away from you.  Eventually though, like pretty quickly actually, you should probably put on your game face and confront reality -- or at least pretend to while slipping in a respectable three episodes of Game of Thrones a night.  You don't want people thinking that you've lost it, because then they'll do the most annoying thing that people who love you are required to do, constantly ask you "how you're feeling" and if "everything is okay" while awkwardly giving you a light one handed back rub/pat.  Avoid that at all costs.

Rule # 6: Embrace your childhood bedroom.

If you are still living in the small town you grew up in, chances are your parents live about three blocks from you.  

Yes, it can feel defeating to move back in with your parents in your late twenties, but stop being a big old whiner about it. Not everyone is lucky enough to have amazing parents that love you unconditionally, and want you around, and make good food, and listen to you tell your boring story about how you cried so hard you gave yourself a stuffed up nose watching a bad Reece Witherspoon movie, but that you can't cry about anything normal and you don't know what that means -- all while crying and stuffing your face with delicious homemade banana bread.  

Yes, they might yell really loudly from the bottom of the stairs, when they could just speak to you at a normal level:


"No, thanks mom, I'm taking a nap."

10 minutes later:


30 seconds later:


"I'm okay, I'm trying to nap, thanks mom."

15 minutes later:


"God dammit, okay, fine, yes, I'm up."

And yes, after waking you up from your nap to force-feed you, they'll probably ask if "you're feeling alright" because "you've been sleeping a lot" and they are worried that you "might be depressed." You may feel like replying, "I'm depressed Mom, but not because my relationship fell apart,"  but don't. Your parents love you and want you to be happy, they are just trying to help you the best way they know how: pestering you, over-feeding you, and asking you where you are going anytime you get up to move around.  Be thankful, because, as my friend Linda rightfully reminded me (when I was complaining way too much about people being concerned about me) having too many people care is better than no one caring... a good thing to keep in mind. 

Rule # 7: Have amazing friends.

This may be a perk of living and growing up in a small town.  Your friends have known you your ENTIRE life, they remember when you went through that weird Che Guevara t-shirt, no hair-washing phase and they're still around.  They remember when you ate a cow eyeball soaked in formaldehyde in the 7th grade to impress a boy and they brag about it with you.  They remember all your past relationships and remind you that you'll be just fine.  Most importantly though, they know when to tell you to STFU and get back on the horse, when you've been wallowing one day too many in a pile of Cheetos and the many, many, bottles of red wine pre-purchased for the wedding.  And in my opinion, that is the most important thing you can ask for in a friend.  They also come in really handy when trying to implement Rule # 2. 

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Adventure Shaming

My family seems to have some sort of self-torture adventure gene that I did not fully inherit.  A simple outdoor activity is never enough, some element of "adventure" has to be involved for it to be worthwhile.  This primarily involves hiking on non-existent trails that have been pitched to you as "animal trails," "secret trails," and/or "really cool old mining trails."  What this often entails is: bush-whacking, heights, huge scary piles of bear shit, and what my Dad likes to call, "dancing with the trees."  It sounds fun, but I can assure you, if you are anything like me, it's its own special kind of hell.

When I go hiking, and in life generally, I like to have a plan.  I want a time-frame.  I need an ETA and exact mileage.  So when I'm told that I'll be hiking Perseverance Trail and I get to the end, I don't want to be asked if I'd like to "do a 'short' hike up the side of a mountain to see where that waterfall comes from."  If that had been included in the original plan and I had mentally prepared for it, then it'd be a different story.  But that is the never the case with my family.  Little side hikes are always being tacked on.  What's the ETA? How much extra mileage or we talking?  How many snacks do we have and more importantly, what kind of snacks are they?  The answer is always, "Come on, it'll be fun!"  I'm never provided any real data!  I need a set and finite end to the pain!

The worst part about all of this is that if you protest, if you full on refuse to continue, or even if you say from the beginning, "alright, I agree to this with the stipulation that there will be absolutely no side-hiking tomfoolery,"  it will get you nowhere.  You will literally be stuck between a rock and hard place -- or a rock and a shit-your-pants-scary cliff edge. This is when the "adventure shaming" begins.  "Come on, don't you want to do something different?"  "Get out of your comfort zone, it's good for you,"  or "you know, your sister did this last week and she really enjoyed it."  Well guess what, I'm not my god damn sister.  Did you ever see me taking my hands off the bike handles as a child?  No!  I was the one with the sweaty palms asking everyone to please stand a safe distance from the edge of that look-out point.  

In the rare occasions that you are successful and manage to thwart a side-hike, there is always an underlining current of disappointment permeating the rest of the hike.  Your lack of adventure has pooped on the hiking party and you have let everyone down.   No real danger was involved and thus the hike wasn't a "real" hike.  Yeah, we hiked to the top of Mt. Roberts, but who hasn't done that?  Staying on the main trail, no matter how hard the hike is, is the equivalent of a city dog walk in my family.  

So you'd think I would have known better when my Dad asked if I wanted to hike Mt. Juneau last weekend.  I figured, sure... there's a start and a finish.  I know what I'm getting myself into.  The "really cool old mining trail" is out of commission, and considering what happened the last time he brought me up it -- a mental break down in which I held onto a tree and refused to let go -- I figured he wouldn't bother suggesting anything like that again.  You should be sensing my impending doom at this point. 

Mt. Juneau is not the hardest hike I've ever done, but it is difficult.  It starts in thick brush, with somewhat steep switchbacks that bring you up in elevation quickly.  Midway up the mountain, the trail opens up and flattens out, cutting straight across the side through three waterfalls, that are, if you're talking to my Dad, characterized as "small streams."  I would characterize them as a level 4 hazard (not life-threatening, but not something I look forward to) depending on the level of rainfall that week.  Once you traverse the waterfalls, the climb becomes steep again, with somewhat longer switchbacks, and nothing to grab on to.  The problem with this hike is that if you go too early, and the snow hasn't completely melted, you end up hiking over snow-patches that, if you were to slip and fall, shoot you straight off the side of the mountain.  On a hike up Mt. Juneau in the eighth grade, I famously made my father put me in a harness, and tie a rope to me while hiking over one of these snow-patches -- my sister practically skipped over it.    

Because it has been unseasonably warm this summer, I figured the snow-patches would be at a minimum and I thought it wouldn't be much of a problem.  When we reached the waterfalls -- which usually have some snow covering them -- and there was little to no snow, I thought I was home free.  That did not end up being the case.  About an hour beyond the waterfalls we started hitting the first snow-patches.  If you have any fear of heights, you will know that going across a snow-patch while going slightly uphill, is entirely different from going across a snow-patch while going slightly downhill.  So while I was nervous going up, I wasn't in full-on freak-out mode. In other words, I had not developed Tourettes and lost control  of my limbs at that point.

As you can imagine, going back down the snow-patches did not go well for me.  I got over the first two smaller ones without having to talk to myself, but midway through the third one I started cussing profusely -- never a good sign.  My Dad is an extremely experienced hiker, and he has always been really patient and helpful with me, but if you aren't afraid of heights, you can't fully understand what is happening to a persons body in these moments.  It involves such an intense spike in adrenaline and anxiety that everything in you is telling you to stop, sit-down, hold onto whatever you can grab on to, and never let go -- all while shouting and/or muttering obscenities.  Reason often does not prevail. 

Once we reached the next snow-patch, my Dad suggested I use his ice axe and offered to hike below me so that if I started to slide he could stop me -- my rational mind told me that my Dad was attempting to provide me with a false sense of comfort.  If I slipped, I'd be taking him with me, but I appreciated the gesture and I took the ice axe.  In another attempt to comfort me, my Dad gave me a brief how-to guide on using the ice axe.  He explained, prior to going over the next snow-patch, how I should hold the ice axe and said, "if you start to slide, you can flip your body over onto your stomach and slam the axe into the snow to stop yourself."  Words to avoid when trying to get a person scared of heights over a steep snow-shoot: sliding, flipping, body, slam, axe.  In the 15 minutes that I used the ice axe, I held it so tightly I gave myself a blister.  

Because I'm numbers-obsessed, I had counted the number of snow-patches we'd gone over on the way up and knew exactly how many more I had to get over.  After lots of leg shaking, muttering "don't look down" then looking down, stopping, holding tightly onto things that would easily rip out of the ground, and muttering to myself some more, we made it back to the snow-patchless part of the trail.  While we'd been at the top my Dad had attempted to casually suggest taking the Old Mt. Juneau Trail down -- which, (WHAT THE FUCK?) I thought was no longer hike-able at all.  I stupidly felt comfortable that I had fully squashed this suggestion before our descent, but after the snow-patches, he brought it up again! I said I'd had enough excitement for the day -- and I had. It might sound silly, but dealing with the anxiety and fear of heights is almost as physically draining as the hike itself! My plan was to distract him when we reached the fork that lead to the old trail and hope that he'd just forget about it.  Great plan, I know.

Upon reaching the old trail my attempts to distract failed and my Dad started to veer off towards the right.  You'll recall that this was the trail in which I held on to a tree, refused to let go, and cried and snotted all over myself.  Right now you might be asking yourself, "where does the Old Mt. Juneau Trail start?"  That's a good question. When you arrive at the first look-out point up Perseverance Trail -- the area that is fenced off with two benches -- turn around.  That rock slide is where the trail officially begins.  It follows the edge of the mountain, which means you are hiking alongside a cliff on your left the entire time.  The meltdown occurred at a spot in the trail where there happened to be another cliff to my right.  Sheer panic.  So when my Dad insisted we go down the old trail, I stated in my most stern voice, feeling like a 12-year-old, "I'm not going."  This was met with, surprise, surprise, "Oh come on, it'll be fun," and "It's actually easier on your body than the new trail."  Sensing that I was not winning this battle, I resorted to yelling, "I'M NOT FUCKING DOING IT"  -- to my Dad, who is not someone you want to swear at.  He was unfazed and instead promised that we wouldn't go near the portion of the trail that I loathed the most and that we'd stay further inwards, where we, and I quote, would "dance with the trees."  He went so far as to tell me that it'd actually be "pretty relaxing."

Five minutes later we are on the old trail, "dancing with the trees" and my Dad informs me, after getting on all fours to get through a particularly branchy section of the "trail," that I should be aware of how slick all the dead pine needles can be.  So "dancing with the trees" was not the relaxing fairy tale he made it out to be, but rather a way to avoid sliding down the mountain on a blanket of pine needles.  Needless to say, I somewhat enjoyed this portion of the hike.  I will begrudgingly admit that "dancing with the trees" was actually kind of fun... dammit. 

We got to the very end of the old trail, which again, really isn't a trail at all, it's part tree dancing, part bush-whacking, and I don't think I'd ever been so happy to see Perseverance Trail in my life.  I even allowed myself to think about how cool I'd look if someone happened to be walking down the trail and I just popped out of the bushes, looking all hardcore and mountain-woman like... they would never know about the crying and the snotting and the insistence of harnesses and ropes.  To my delight there happened to be two hikers coming down the trail at the perfect distance.  I decided to take a different path down then my Dad and that's when the pine needles got me.  I slid, hard and awkwardly down the last four feet of the trail, got poked by a small branch in my ass, let out a weird noise, and hit the trail exactly when the two hikers arrived.  They looked concerned and asked me if I was okay, an appropriate end to the hike.