Friday, May 29, 2009

How to Be an Assertive Woman

I am so disappointed in women and their lack of assertiveness. I am constantly hearing the same conversation: You tell a man he's an ass hole and he tells you you're an ass hole too. Then you go grab a beer together. You tell a woman she's an ass hole and she doesn't talk to you for three weeks. And she tells all of her friends what a bitch you are. And what nerve you have!

So I was at the dog park after work, having this very conversation with a dog owner. Do I know her? No. But, she wanted to vent about work. And how she was in a very important meeting this week and she spoke her mind and since then, she has felt humiliated. And I told her that no woman is going to make a difference if she doesn't speak her mind. That is the truth. And then I thought about that awesome bumper sticker. You know the one that says, "Well-behaved women rarely make history". Ain't that the truth? This woman happens to be an attorney and she has so much pride in the fact that she is a semi-public figure and she loathes her job but refuses to give up. There are a lot of politics involved in what she does. But if she smiles and nods her head, changes will never be made.

Do you think Hillary Clinton, Nancy Pelosi, Condi, Sandra Day O'Connor or the latest trailblazer, Sotomayor made a difference without being assertive? Do you think that they went behind their friends' backs to complain about petty garbage that was bothering them? You cannot succeed in many aspects of life working that way. I can assure you that if Sotomayor is not happy about a situation, she lets you know. And how dare you call her a bitch. What is this all about? Is Bush an ass hole for declaring war on Iraq? No. But I bet Hillary is a bitch for her foreign policy. Give me a break, people!

So how do you become more assertive? The best advice I can give you is that you must be comfortable with it. And there is a difference between being dramatic and being assertive. And men can me dramatic, too. Here is an example of being assertive:

"You are going to have to stop calling me all weekend. I have a life, and I prefer to not be called throughout my weekend."

Here is an example of not being assertive:

"No! Feel free to call me on a Saturday! It's no problem!" (Then you hang up and start complaining to whoever listens about how your weekend is ruined).

And finally, an example of a dramatic person:

"You have to stop calling me every weekend. This is ridiculous. I have a life!" (Dramatic people tend to use large adjectives. Specifically people from Long Island).

If you feel like you aren't "saying it like it is," then you probably are not assertive.

When my boyfriend's family pointed out that we both come from divorced families and suggested the research on couples with that type of background, I was assertive. I looked them straight in the eye and blurted out, "Yeah, there is research on that.... He doesn't..... think!" Oh my God - I just said it. I had never even met some of them before. But I wasn't going to sugar coat it. And it felt right. And we all had a good laugh. Even the two year old nephew. He started cracking up because we were all laughing. It wasn't a nice thing to say at all, though. But I thought they should know that their son/brother is a little bit of a disaster. Do I care if they hate me for saying it? Ummm... not really.

Because you have to remember that well behaved women rarely make a difference...

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Why I Never Want to Leave Madison

Even when I went to Mexico over the winter, I was looking forward to returning to our snowy city. I am not exaggerating when I say that every morning, I am thankful to be here. And the biggest reason is because of my fondness for being outdoors. I do realize that it is fantastic to be outdoors on a beach in Mexico, but my idea of being outside involves a good pair of tennis shoes and a lot of athletes surrounding you.

Because my morning runs involve a lot of introspection, I have been debating for quite some time a trip back to Cleveland. When I first moved to Madison, I didn't want to go back to Cleveland because my folks (who both live there) continued to come here. So, there was no point. Of course there are some friends and family members I would like to see. But the family mostly comes here. And then I think that my friends are spread out all over the country, really. I have to make an effort to see them at some point. But to spend the money to fly to Cleveland doesn't make sense to me right now. And I think about it every morning when I am running because I think the running in Cleveland just doesn't compare to what I have here.

In Madison, there are new paths discovered all of the time. I am constantly given the right of way and other runners give you the "runners greeting" - the head nod or a wave. There is a world of respect and appreciation that I didn't have before. Am I passionate about my running? Yes. When taking into consideration any trip, I contemplate what my running will be like. And dreading a run is no good.

So, when I think about going to Cleveland, I am filled with these memories of procrastination. Because there wasn't anything enjoyable about my running there. I tried various things. I attempted to run to places to do an errand. I tried the parks, by the water, different neighborhoods (not the West side, though - I wish now, that I had). However, what is the point in driving somewhere to go for a run???? Doesn't that sort of contradict the purpose?

In my new city, I run with a purpose. I have run to pick up my car, while it was being repaired, I have run to people's houses, to social gatherings, to post signs, to the market, etc. That is one of Madison's compact benefits. And along the way, people are friendly. And you are bound to pass many more runners. Regardless of the weather.

I have run in other places: (I realize some of these are states and some are cities) New York, Chicago, Boston, Cape Cod, Columbus, New Hampshire, Cincinnati, Virginia, South Carolina, Florida, Maine, and Toronto. And none of them are as satisfying to me.

Have I left Madison? Of course I have. In fact, I was able to escape this weekend for a little while. But, then, upon my return, I started to read "The Isthmus" and thought to myself, "There is so much to do here this summer. How am I going to pick and choose?"

I suppose I should start planning a trip to Cleveland. Although, it's mainly because I need to have the Japanese straightening done to my hair again. And they don't do it in Madison. This is my home now.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Dating is Complicated and Irony was Last Week's Theme

I am about to get real personal.

I have come to the conclusion that I think too much. And last week, I realized that my biggest complication is dating. It is too much work. I don't consider myself a dramatic person, but this is tumultuous. At times, I just can't stand the emotional intensity of a relationship and the amount of work that is put into it. Every time I take a break from dating, I tell myself, 'I am never going to get married. I am just going to go out, have a good time, not get emotionally attached..." but it never works out that way. I am a self proclaimed "relationship hopper," I can't play the field and have fun. And I tried! I swear, I did. I really, really did.

I am in the strangest relationship. We don't get along a lot of the time. By the weekend, I usually yell something along the lines of "You're a horrible person." OR "You're an ASS HOLE!!!" OR "This is over!" And he usually follows up with, "Pick you up at 3 for the 3:45 movie?"

And I told him a while ago that I am not good at being friends with a guy. I like guys too much. Which is weird because I thought I was a lesbian for a second a long time ago. So, I don't think he trusts me. And I really don't trust him either. Do I worry at night if he's going home with another girl? No. But, I see the way he looks at girls. And he accuses me of flirting. But you know my rule is this: You can look but you can touch. Right?

So, last week, I was walking with my dog to his neighborhood. I walked by a bar off of the square. At one table, there were two men seated having drinks. I smiled and said, "hi" as I walked by. I could feel them staring at me.

Flash forward to the next day. An old friend from college who I had lost touch with and hadn't spoken with in about four years (we recently reconnected) sends me an e-mail stating, "remember when you sent me the phony missed connection on craigslist?" Of course I remember doing that to her. She thought some guy was after her and it was me. So, I decided to go on "missed connections" on craigslist. Low and behold, this guy, who I walked past the night before has sent me a missed connection. Nobody has ever sent me a missed connection before! How exciting! I was excited!!!! It was so ironic.

I told my boyfriend. I think he was mad, although he didn't say he was. And I was mad because Mr. Missed Connections complimented me in a way that my boyfriend never does. And he should be. Because he's my boyfriend.

Now, there is more to this story. The same day I was "miss connected," I was asked out in a casual sense. And I sent them to my blog. To understand why I wouldn't go out with them. And also because I am in a committed relationship. (So, I hope you don't feel I am exploiting you here. ) I am obviously exploiting my relationship on here. Oh well.

And I was mad at my boyfriend again. Because the "casual asker outer" complimented me with about 72 adjectives that I have heard from other men. Which I don't hear from my boyfriend.

And when we were eating dinner on Friday night, I thought I should tell him everything. Like, if he was in my situation, I would want to know. But then I just got upset and told him that the saddest part of all of this is that he doesn't say these things to me that these two strangers have said to me. Then I was outside the restaurant and I ran into Ryan Paugh. And there I am, standing out there, crying. And he says he reads my blog. After all, he does post it on Brazen Careerist quite often. And I am thinking, "Here I am, outside the restaurant where my boyfriend is, crying on the sidewalk, and Ryan probably thinks I am a wreck. Because my blog refers to relationships and how much damn work they are..." Ryan was so sweet. And he's such a warm, friendly person. So I know that whoever Ryan ends up with won't be blogging about how much work he is.

So this much I know: I always feel that my life will go on with or without a man. I will be ok. I have learned to protect myself. But I am exhausted from this. So, maybe I need to stop thinking so much and just live my life.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Conserving Energy (and Money)

A few postings ago, I wrote about minimizing the little I have. I have not stopped thinking about it since. I am anxiously awaiting my next electric bill. I just checked when they usually arrive (online, of course - remember - save paper). It appears I will be getting my next one sometime around the 20th of the month.

Wherever I read about my appliances that were "sucking energy" and costing me money, it has greatly effected me. We are hearing a lot about this lately. And it coincides with the recession. Of course it does. My question is: Is this going to be a temporary thing or a permanent one? It would be great if people continue to be energy conscious. Whenever we start to economically turn around (I am thinking down the road here), some people may not think about their electric bills as much.

I hope it has a lasting effect. I know it has impacted my life forever. Since my "energy change," I can't get over how I had my cell phone charger plugged into the wall permanently. Just so it could draw unused power. I have 4 rooms plus a bathroom and a laundry area. In those, I have a grand total of 8 things plugged in. (This includes my washer/dryer & refrigerator). I have considered unplugging my dust buster charger, but I use it every morning and it dies quickly when it is uncharged. The other debatable item is a phone that is connected to my doorbell. Because anyone who is visiting can call me. But then I can't buzz them in. So, it's ok for now.

I advise you walk through your home and investigate what you have plugged in that needs to come out. Here are some popular items that are often plugged in when they don't need to be:

Hair dryers
Flat irons
Cell phone chargers
Power strips (with 1 or 2 outlets being used)
Toaster ovens
Coffee makers
Lamps that aren't used

I also unplug my refrigerator and television every time I leave my house. (only joking, people!)

It will be interesting to see if this trend continues when the recession ends.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Madison's Style Can Take on a Prepper

I think I have gone from 50% prep to 50% hipster in ten months time. I have succumb to the "look" I am always talking about. No more heels. No more red lipstick. And no more diamonds for me.

When I asked where all the girls who "dress up" are in Madison, I was told a couple of locations. But, "dressing up" has a new meaning to me. My favorite outfit is now a cotton shirt/dress from American Apparel with a pair of black leggings and black flats and I wear it every chance I get. It is comfy and sexy at the same time. I can dress it up with a scarf, too - another hipster look.

I recall back at the end of the summer in '08, reading an article about how scarves are now an accessory not necessarily for keeping someone warm. And at the outdoor farmer's market, a lot of the girls are wearing them. They look fantastic. Before, I would have thought if they weren't wearing tight Seven jeans and a flashy top, that they weren't dressed up. It's amazing how Madison can wear on you. A girl who wears leggings and a long cotton shirt on a bicycle with her hair pulled back and a cotton headband now appears sexy to me.

On the same note, when I first moved here, I complained that there were no attractive men in Madison. Ten months later, and I swear every man is attractive. And in amazing shape.

Now, the coasties are another story. These are the girls who probably think how I thought ten months ago. They wear the outfits I referred to back in October - sometimes we refer to them as the "Sidneys," among other names - you know, the girls who all look exactly the same. Dress the same. Same hair (like mine). Same cell phones. Same problems (some type of eating disorder). They don't live in Madison, mind you - they are students. In fact, they are leaving in about a week, so no more viewings at 11 AM at the bagel store - sorry boys! And I am sure the coasties think that those girls who wear the scarves and the flats are crazy. They should be showing off every inch of skin and wearing heels to make them longer and thinner looking.

I have no idea how I went from that view to my new one. It's an evolution of being bit by the Madison bug. I think if you like it here enough, it will get you. Plus, the malls here depress me. Actually, I have only been to one and I like to be outside, even when it's cold out. So I won't be buying a new wardrobe. I will have to recycle the few "hipster" clothes I have.