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<editorsnote> Hi, I'm Jen Friel, and we here at TNTML examine the lives of nerds outside of the basements and into the social media, and dating world.  We have over 75 peeps that write about their life in real time. (Real nerds, real time, real deal.) Sit back, relax, and enjoy some of the stories!! </editorsnote>

 

 

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Tuesday
May272014

#YesAllWomen: A male's perspective 

#TalkNerdyToMeLover's @Saintpepsi

It's a little disheartening to think that any man can claim to know just what it's like to be a woman.

- To tell them to suck it up.

- To be more accepting of advances as they are really just compliments no matter how grotesque the pick up line might be.

- To assume that we have any measure by which to judge their experiences.

We are very different sexes.

In theory equality would be a fantastic ideal to achieve. In reality men will always be given a pass.

Rarely are we judged on our sexual actions, rarely do we fear walking home in the dark, rarely do we have to suffer cat calls and beratements based on our attire. Men as a whole sex have no idea what a girl goes through on a daily basis.  No matter what small inconvenience we may have suffered once. It is not something we have to live with everyday. We can’t wrap our heads around it, because it is not our reality. So we stay silent because we don’t know what to say. Some men will sympathize, but no man can empathize.  It would seem the only time men have something to say is when it comes to defending their honor. Because we are all honorable aren’t we. When women make broad sweeping statements about all men being some way. We react in hostility saying #NotallMen.

Even if you are blameless in your life for helping firmly establish misogyny. You are still reaping the benefits of that birthright you acquired between your legs. We as a sex have taken everything from women. Their right to choose their own medical plans, their right to walk without fear,the right to an opinion that goes against the commonly held beliefs, their last names, their trust and worst of all their faith in an equal society. Not only have men taken these things, they react in the most redundant way. Blaming either a period or assuming she’s just crazy. Because all women are crazy… Right!

If I had to walk in the shoes of a woman for a day I’d be insane too. A full attire for a man down to his underwear could cost less than 70 bucks 150 if you are dressing nice. For a girl double if not triple that. If I couldn’t leave the house without fear of being analyzed by every person I pass girl or guy based on how I looked I would be a little freaked out to leave my house. Just to meet standards given by an industry run by men. If I had to suffer strangers pushing through my personal bubble just to talk to me because they KNOW I must be so interesting only to win a number and high five some friends. A number I probably gave you so you would get the fuck away from me and I could go back to talking to my friends reminding myself to block or not answer any unknown numbers or people I saved in my phone as creepy guy 15. YES! 15 I have seen it in my friend’s phones. Not all Men are the problem, but you can be damn sure men are what keeps the inequality alive and well. I have had friends who were raped, sexually abused, and sexually taken advantage of even in relationships. Not a few. More than that. This entitlement that men feel they have to always get what they want is despicable. I have walked in those shoes before. I have wondered how could this woman not like me? I'm such a nice guy and other excuses for plain bad chemistry or even good chemistry. Where I am in total disbelief that she can’t see our friendship as more. Even if all she really wanted was a guy who saw her as a friend and not a sexual object. Seeing her with guys I assumed were douche bags. Why are they douche bags? She’s not with me and I want her. That’s why.  Why would I think these things? Why wouldn’t I wait and see if who I am matters more, than what I want.  It took me years to realize that I don't deserve any woman. They are not things to have or acquire like some sort of new toy. They are human beings pure and simple. They should be treated with the same respect given anyone.

I work part time as a bouncer and I can tell you the greatest difference between men and woman at the bar is how they enter. What are they looking for. While some girls desires may be sexual they are generally looking to be social, dance, experience life a bit with friends. Maybe even find a little romance. For men they come in as a predator right off the bat. Looking to satisfy an insatiable lust that needs something to devour. Even if they don’t come to the bars for that reason, the pressure to not leave alone compiles and by the end of the night you are making a drunken fool of yourself just to get a girls attention. Just remember to blame the alcohol.  Nightly I hear as I check ID’s, “So are there any hot girls here tonight.” With everyone’s standards of beauty so very different how am I to know what you are looking for. Even if they don’t ask me up front I will still see them walk in, look around, and then leave saying there aren’t any girls here. Not people they know, but strangers to prey. They come to get something and no matter how many times they strike out, they will fight on to find what they want. Men are the Mormons of the sexes. Knock on a enough doors and someone is bound to say yes.

Most of the girls that I see go home with random Joes do so out of sheer unwillingness to fight to stay or leave alone. It has become easier to accept a reality of misogyny than to fight back against it for fear of the tide of remarks that follow. Deny a man at the bar, you’re a bitch or a lesbian. Sometimes said to your face in an anger undeserved of a casual refusal. Other times said with in earshot so they can hear and know the mistake they made by not accepting this gentleman. I used air quotes when I said gentlemen. The problem will always be put at the feet of the woman. I actually had one girl tell me she gives guys a blow job just so they leave her house. Why does this work, how can we claim to be men if we don’t act like human beings. It’s not like girls don’t have a choice. Girls could get laid any night if they wanted to. Fact! Men are so driven to acquire that it’s far too easy to get a yes. Girls say no because they have been shamed into believing that if they allow their sexuality to show they will be called sluts by both sexes. Even the terminology is screwed up. Men who fuck around are players. All these arguments have been made time and time again. If I tell you a girl is a slut you would look at her differently, even if you don’t know her. If I told you a guy is a player even as a warning. There’s a cultural norm to almost praise him for his conquests.  

Look through the comments of any girls photos on facebook and witness them broken down into pieces of flesh. Cuts of meat with dollar signs attached to distinguish value. How can you fight against such a horrible reality, but to give in and assume this is the norm. That peer pressure and undaunted repetition will ultimately yield results. Knowing if it doesn’t, you will branded as a prude. It sickens me to see the anonymous nature of the internet breed more misogyny. With demeaning language thrown about to contort a woman into believing she is less than human, because she doesn’t meet an impossible standard. To sit in judgement of a woman for having not put on makeup for a trip to the grocery store. When Men are required to do nothing in prep for any event.  No you can’t say shave considering a girl has to shave half their body weekly. Heaven forbid a woman leaves the house without her mask. That’s really what it becomes though. A mask that all womankind must wear. Not because it is a choice they have been given, no it is requirement of society. Wear your makeup, and 4 layers of clothing on a hot summer day. to ward off the eyes of the unknown. So you don’t make it on some internet trolling site that snaps photo’s of girls to compare. Without permission or consent.  I have played the gentleman role, protector role, and guardian to girls just trying to make it home safe.  I have been there to hold my friend hands in fear. Hugged those taken advantage of.Through all this I will never know… truly know what it is like to be a girl. To be an object, not a person. Sadly, they will never know true peace. For a life lived in fear of the nonintellectual response by a group of unenlightened people is the assumed normal our society has to offer. I do not hate men, I hate what we have established and perpetuate.

#nerdsunite

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Monday
May052014

#NerdsUnite: Just let it go, man 

Here's an email I got over the weekend ... 

 

 

 

First off, thanks for reading and thanks for reaching out. I'm going to assume you were watching the talk from Professor for the day at Cal State Fullerton? (Click here to view)

I can't tell you to just "be awesome," or advise you to just say "fuck it" and go off on your own and figure things out. The bottom line is that no man is an island, and you're going to need people around you.

I'm sorry to hear you've been depressed since you were 10, but I'm also going to say it's time to put on your big girl pants and decide to make a change in your life.

The only person that is going to get you out of this rut is you. Period end of sentence. 

The one line in this email that sticks out the most is, "I only feel a little better when people compliment my achievements." 

What you're doing is seeking outside validation because you don't feel worthy enough just being yourself. This is REALLY hard to do, btw, because we are ALWAYS wanting to pacify people to a degree to have them like us, or want to be around us. In psychology they talk about the "masks" that we all wear, and how we change aspects of our personality depending upon who we are around. We all do it, but the problem is we are still alone with our thoughts which can be an extremely damaging internal monologue. Whatever that mask is hiding needs to be dealt with, and until you decide to forgive and let go of some of that anger, shame, whatever visceral/ basic emotion - you are only holding yourself back. Having a tight knit family, boyfriend, great job - whatever, is never going to matter. At the end of the day, you are only a projected label based on that dynamic. You take on the role of the girlfriend, the role of the daughter/ sister, A+ overachiever, but you can do, do, do, do, do, til your heart's content and it's all going to still feel hollow at the end of the day. 

I really wish Ryan Gosling made an appearance in my coloring book.Think of life like a coloring book. No matter what you are given x amount of pages in this book. The lines are there, the basic objects you are asked to color are presented but it is YOUR CHOICE what colors you choose, what tools to color, do you even want to color within the lines or are you someone who enjoys coloring outside of them? Life just is. Period end of sentence. These experiences you have, the experiences we all have - are just that ... experiences. If you let them define you you're going to be in a world of hurt. 

One thing that has been very helpful to me is getting out of my own head. I volunteer two times a week at two different local churches, almost every day I do something with my friends (even if it's just hanging out at one of their houses), I go to the beach every weekend, and I maintain a workout regimine that works for me. That's it. To most people, I'm sure doesn't sound very interesting, but honestly I've never been more fulfilled in my entire life. It doesn't have to make sense to anyone else, because I know for the first time in my life I'm doing all of this solely because I find value in it. I have very few friends, but the times that we talk and with such brutal honesty feels FANTASTIC!!! I wouldn't trade any of it for all the tea in China. 

I've said before it was always about feeling "unapologetically awesome" but it's so much more simple than that. That verbiage is still placing something shiny over something very, very basic. You just need to start doing things only for yourself Ally. Whatever it is you're doing, if it feels good - keep going. You need to turn inward (which I know can be scary) and just tell yourself it's okay, but it's time to move on. You don't reside with those feelings anymore and you're ready to take charge of your own life and your own coloring book. 

Please keep me posted, and rock on. 

#kthxbye

Tuesday
Apr292014

#RealDeal: What being a relationship blogger taught me about relationships

Relationship blogger resume rundown:

103 dates in 9 months.

Wing girl for Neil Strauss.

Destination dating ... a lot of destination dating.

Being a domme, and that whole owning slaves thing.

Posts that make me blush to this day. 

Countless pieces of advice to both men and women.

What did I take away from all of this? 

It starts with a "no" and ends with a "thing:" nothing

<tangent> I'm genuinely embarassed now by how black and white I was in certain situations all knowing if I had taken a few steps back I could have been more objective. For that, I am sorry. </tangent> 

Documenting so much of my life for the last four years taught me an enormous amount about people and their darkest desires. By being the girl that posted everything about herself online meant you could meet (who you think) is a complete stranger at the bar and they will immediately tell you their life story because they have read all about yours. It was commiserating to a degree, but there was also an element of "hey, this person gets me" - whether that was good or bad was only indicative of the individual. 

Last week, I spent 72 hours as myself one year ago.

Previously, I had a line for everything knowing exactly how I wanted the conversation to go, and had talking points that I could rattle off like my own name. After all, I had created a personal brand, so to not be able to speak intelligently on the direction for it was a liability.

Somewhere about 10 minutes into my first meeting, I just started laughing. I have to stop, I said. I can tell you what you want to hear from me, but honestly, looking back, the person that created this website needed: 

  1. A hug
  2. A warm fire
  3. The last man on Earth. 

The LAST thing I could be at that moment was my former self ... ahhh it was like nails on chalkboard as each of the sentences escaped from my mouth. 

I continued laughing saying I wish I had listened to the “trolls.” If I hadn’t been so arrogant I could have seen that a handful of them (or more) were actually telling me like it was and I could have come to this conclusion faster. 

In regards to dating I did collect a lot of data (which as everyone knows turns me on more than Magic Mike) - but I still came home most nights and cried placing my headphones in my ears and blogging everything online that I could never:

1) admit to myself

2) say out loud. 

Re-read that last paragraph. I started it off by saying "in regards to dating" and then my brain went to speaking about the data collected. THAT is the disconnect. 

Being a relationship blogger means sourcing your intimate experiences for profit. Whether that is hits on your blog, dollars from advertisers, or leverage for something you see in your eyes as "bigger" - intimacy is for sale, and your going rate is dependent upon how much you are willing to reveal.

No matter how honest your intentions are in the beginning, if it does become popular (to whatever degree) the person morphs like a Power Ranger into a persona ... and then you're fucked (sometimes literally). You are then sucked into a vacuum of bullshit surrounded by people that tell you how awesome you are every day. Guys want to date you so they will be written about, and women want to be you because you were honest with how shitty guys can be and they view you as this poster child for girl power. 

 

Disclaimer: I say all of this without an OUNCE of disrespect, but an honest evaluation of what I first hand experienced. I could not speak for all relationship bloggers, and more than anything would welcome feedback if anyone dis/agrees. 

My friend joked the other day saying he would date women from OKC or Tinder and know within one “witty” joke if they were on par with him. If they didn’t get it within the first 10 minutes, he would still commit to the additional 50 just to learn something new or garner a story (for his own personal collection)

The Jen, I used to know, he said, lived her whole life for those 50 minutes. 

I laughed knowing he was right, and I also laughed not caring about what it meant.

What are you doing now, he asked? 

I briefly told him about certain projects, but the proudest moment was in telling him that I honestly don't know. I don’t know why I am living where I am, or why I am doing what I do. I don’t know much of anything anymore, but things keep seeming to work out and the fact that I'm dealing with politicians who have read this site and high fived me for just going for it made me laugh. I thought for sure once they read about me they'd run. 

He laughed saying, that’s when you’re really being honest. None of us know, but it takes all those trials, errors, and successes to at least have a better idea of what you think will work. 

He added, the one thing I can commend you for is the art of happenstance. I’ve never seen anyone turn a “I just happened to be here moment …” into so many things. 

That’s the part that is never orchestrated, I added. It really was just all from my heart and just saying whatever I felt. Life starts when I just shut off my analytical brain. It's like in chess, a good chess player thinks five moves ahead -a great chess player thinks one step ahead. 

I like this Jen, he added. 

I smiled but didn't need to tell him that I really like this Jen too. 

It wasn't until last year when I was in a loving and committed relationship that I could understand the value of intimacy and it was in that moment that I realized it was no longer for sale. Our experiences were priceless, and ours only. It's easy to sit there taking loads of "couples selfies" and post them online for the world to see how "happy" you are. Because I was so protective of him I couldn't do it. 

I laughed to my friends in the beginning saying he was a professional liability, but what he did was bless me with this peace that I never knew I had been seeking. We didn't need to go out a lot, we would just watch movies and drink wine until we both fell asleep. For as long as I live, I will never be more grateful to a single person. 

It took the person that I couldn't write about to teach me that I was only blogging so much about my life because I needed to be validated by it. I was like a barking Chihuahua - you could always hear me, but I was all over the place and there's IMHO very little strength or beauty in it ... it's all just noise. 

By being a relationship blogger you do very much in your heart believe you are being vulnerable but the fact remains that you are sitting behind a computer in a room in your house (or coffee shop) all alone. It is a monologue, self indulgent, and any sort of rebuttals are deflected by loyal readers who will defend at all costs because they identify with you so strongly.

You can feel in your heart how lonely you are but what takes a while to understand is the fact that it's the digital walls you've placed around yourself that block out all of the love and light that life has to offer. 

Going back to the initial meeting, the producer then asked, where do you see yourself in 5 years? 

I want a family. I just adopted a dog so I've got one member down. 

After the meeting I thought about it and realized I couldn't ever go back to online dating, and couldn't ever go back to that person that I was. It felt good in the moment because your ego is validated by so many individuals contacting you, but your ego isn't fertile ground. Certainly weeds can flourish, but to grow anything substantial, it all starts with the solid ground you plant. 

I have three of the best friends I've ever had in my whole life down here, and one of them said the most profound thing to me the other week. She's a 10+ year married redneck (her terminology not mine) and with her thickest southern accent she said, Jen, what is it with all these guys you've told me about? 

She mimicked them, "I just felt a disconnect between us." "There is no tangible reason for why we can't be together any more. You'll just have to see for yourself one day." 

Men are simple, Jen. Here is all they need (screenshot from email as I just texted asking again to make sure I didn't forget any of her points)

That's it, she said. Start with that understanding in a relationship and you'll be fine. 

There is no algorithm or mathematical equation that results in your happiness in either self, or relationships. While all of us know that intellectually, there is something comforting in hoping to find out what investment can generate a return, however it's all a defense mechanism. 

Vulnerability and comfort do not live harmoniously, and to truly get anything out of a relationship, you have to let those walls down. Even if your heart PHYSICALLY hurts so bad, and you swear you can't do it again ... trust me, you will. I see today out of a fresher set of eyes courtesy of my loving family, FANTASTIC group of friends, and none of that intimacy could ever be for sale. Blogging about my relationships diluted too much of my own life experience, and I'm worth more than that. 

#nerdsunite

There are (literally) plenty of fish in the sea. Click to comment on Facebook


 


Wednesday
Mar052014

#OpenLetter: Barbie = less dream house, more little shop of horrors 

I read an article on Huffington Post this morning that inspired this post. Click here to read. 

A few months back I was shopping for my friend's kids Christmas gifts, and while in the massive toy store it struck me ... do her parents allow her to play with Barbie? I've bought plenty of gifts for kids in years past, but this was the first year that it hit me how much Barbie impacted my own life, and the responsibility I had to respect my friend's wishes on what they chose to expose their children to. 

I'm (clearly) by no means a feminist, but I have to admit that this year a lot of things have hit me as far as a woman's depiction in popular culture. Growing up in Connecticut I had every Disney movie on VHS, and if I was lucky enough, a new barbie on a quasi-regular basis. That whole pretty pretty princess thing was my jam. Contrary to my tomboy tendencies, I so badly wanted to look like Barbie one day, or any of the Disney princesses. They were all so beautiful, and like every other little girl, I would even undress them and compare myself to them. 

Barbie was so thin, with these super long legs, and how can I diplomatically put this ... she's a ... 

One day, I would think, one day I'll look like this.

Images of women in movies and magazines only confirmed the societal version of the ideal woman ... 

 

\

It's like fitting a square peg in a circle hole. I just don't look like that, I thought staring at my own body in the mirror. 

My parents and various "real" life role models reminded me that "beauty was only skin deep," and encouraged me to get a good education and not rely on the superficial things in life.

All of that was great to hear, but by the time high school hit, I was still super short, slightly awkward looking, and often referred to as "cute/smart one." I didn't just want guys to see me as the cute/smart one, I wanted to be lusted after (whatever lust is defined as in the eyes of a naive 14 year old girl). My best friend at the time wore a lot of makeup and was considered "the hot one," so I casually started borrowing more and more of her clothes (in addition to some wardrobe additions that my parents weren't aware of), and slowly but surely I was shedding all shades of cute and introducing the sun to newly formed parts of my body. 

I learned how to apply make up, took more of an interest in fashion, but by the time I was done with high school I was still 5'3, and light years away from looking like the girls on TV, or Barbie. Again, I knew deep down intellectually that none of it mattered, but if I had the choice at that age to be hot, or be smart - it was a no brainer (no pun intended)

When I was 17 I moved to NYC and studied at Lee Strasberg. The first day of my writing class, I recognized a familiar face ... 

 

It was Carmen Kass. At the time she was a Victoria's Secret model, and the main "it" girl for Express (which was my favorite store). Like a loyal puppy dog, I sat down next to her and during break, introduced myself. Over the semester we did become friends, and I remember one day having coffee with her while sitting on the stoop outside of school. She was wearing shorts, and as I reached for my cup, my wrist was right next to her thigh. Holy crap, I thought, her thigh is barely bigger than my arm. Trippy

 

As we became friendlier she would tell me about parties she went to, and adventures she had with men that I had plastered on my walls. She's a really down to Earth girl, so even though she was totally nonchalant about the whole thing, my 17 year old brain could barely believe that this lifestyle really does exist and these beautiful people really do "have it all."

Much like the projections of Barbie, and the Disney princesses she was living a happily ever after one cover at a time, and I wanted that. 

Somewhere in my late teens, early 20s, I finally had my growth spurt and after working out shed any lingering "cuteness." By the time I started actively dating in my 20s, I vividly remember guys telling me on dates that they didn't understand a lot of times what I was saying. (Growing up with a mother as a technical writer, I developed an extensive vocabulary at an early age.) Guy after guy would comment on certain words that I would use and almost immediately I developed a complex about it. I was visually more of the "ideal," but intellectually it was still too much. Mind you, this was also at the time of the celebutard where Jessica Simpson was making millions being a dumb blond, and Paris Hilton asked if Wal-mart sold walls. 

 

I did what every other girl at that age would do in that situation, and I too played dumb. I eventually did end up with what I was after, a boyfriend, but I wasn't myself. I was playing this part of who I thought I should be, based on what I thought guys wanted, versus being who I was at my core. 

Much like my childhood playmate, who has had over 150 jobs, owns her own dream house, car, and ran for president - I was plastic. 

I am by no means writing this pointing a finger at pop culture or at Barbie, but rather for the first time taking responsibility for myself, and any potential future generations I could impact. I wanted to change myself in order for guys to like me because clearly I was struggling with a very low self esteem; it doesn't take a rocket scientist (a job also held by Barbie) to figure that one out. 

It's not as if pop culture is going to change over night, but my desire to be exposed to it certainly is. Who wants to live in a static world of plastic when there are so many vibrant dimensions to explore? Barbie even had a layout promoting her #Unapologetic campaign in Sports Illustrated. DOES ANYONE ELSE SEE THE IRONY IN THAT?!?! 

Yes, I may live in a Barbie world, but I am not a Barbie girl. I want to be strong, not just thin, and I want my worth to be based on merit not just a quick outfit change and painted toe nails. 

Fuck, how did we end up like this? 

#nerdsunite

Thursday
Feb132014

#RealDeal: Single? Taken? Confused? Who cares! Here's a different approach to Valentines day

All week, I have heard complaint after complaint from my friends regarding Valentines Day. Some are happy with their relationship but are angry that their spouse/ sig-o doesn't do anything (or very little) for Vday. Others, are single and view this day as an annual reminder of their inadequacies. I won't say where I am on the spectrum, but this year I do have a different appreciation for love and for this holiday. Here are my thoughts ... 

You can't explain or quantify love.

It doesn't happen when you are, or are not looking for it- you're just knocked on your ass, and it's humbling.

To sit and hold anger for a quote unquote commercial holiday only speaks to your own insecurity.

Friday is a day of love. Everyday should be that way IMHO - but that's not the reality of our calendar reminders or the reality of the reminders we place upon ourselves and the places we think we "should" be.

I've ranted about not having a valentine for my entire life, but this year I proudly say I actually love myself and that's all that matters.

I respect my environment - I keep it clean.

I respect my body and work out almost every day.

I respect my heart because I know it's in a loving place, and finally I respect my mind because I know it doesn't need to keep racing.

Love is in the air.

Please don't miss out on it.

<3, 

Jen 

#kthxbye