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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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#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? 



#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.






Fun with #OkCupid: @Brandoncomedy goes undercover ... 

#TalkNerdyToMeLover's @BrandonComedy

I’ve been undercover lately. As a kid, I always wanted to be a spy, to know secrets and wear tuxedos all the time. But real life spying wasn’t in the cards for me, so instead I made a fake profile to find out what women really experience with online dating, all in the effort to present myself optimally.

 I’d love to tell you what I learned, and eventually I will, but first you need to know my methods (You don’t NEED to, but I’m telling you anyway):

I created two profiles on OKCupid, the website’s entire hook is it asks you questions, and based on those questions, you’re given a compatibility score with any number of daters. Now for our two fake ladies, I gave them different (but very basic) personalities, and sat back and observed how people interacted with them.!

Girl number one: 

And girl number two:


I purposefully made both profiles extremely similar, based them in the same city, and included the same reference to the documentary Catfish. Where the girls differed was in HOW I answered questions for each of them, and the pictures I used.

For girl number one I answered the questions far more sexually open, and her pictures tended to openly display her sexuality. For girl number two, I answered her questions more sexually conservatively. She had after all just gotten out of a bad relationship.

I used the pictures of Facebook friends (with consent). Girl number one takes pole dancing classes, and while in the context of her Facebook and in real life she isn’t a whore, for the purposes of THIS experiment I felt it best to give her those traits, and make her an ex dancer (sorry!!). For girl number two I used face shots and covered up pictures.

The difference in messages should’ve been entirely different, I figured that girl number one was going to get the sexually explicit messages, and girl number two would get the regular guys! But what happened was that BOTH girls received relatively the same percentages of message types, and in some cases from the same guys.

The only major differences I observed were that in the messages to girl number one, pictures and specific quotes would be referenced, other than that it was mostly guys looking for sex. I am mostly appalled by how FEW genuine messages either girl received. The breakdown of genuine messages to salacious messages is roughly 1:5 for girl one and a whopping 1:30 for girl two.

Once I discovered that there was virtually no difference between the types of messages both girls were getting, I decided to cancel one of the profiles, and focus on just girl number one (as she was receiving a TON of messages)

I also noticed that guys seemed to not mind sending the same message to both girls, nor did they seem to mind sending a message, getting no response, sending another, getting no response, and then finally either giving up, or calling “me” a bitch.

This was interesting to me, because I’d never thought to send a girl a message after being rejected once. My method was to always send a message, wait for a response, and if no response came, to not worry about it. The online dating pool is far too deep to assume a connection, when one isn’t present. But I digress!

So what were the results? I’ll tell you next week! But until then, enjoy some random observations.

Stray Observations:

Couples didn’t seem to mind messaging “me” despite a clear disclaimer dissuading such behavior.! Guys from multiple states away (and sometimes countries) would message me.

1. No one really paid attention to the percentages. Guys with an 80% “enemy” rating still approached as if the fundamental design of the site was off.

2. Women approach women far more aggressively on the site than I ever would’ve thought.

3. Guys generally made no effort to apply information found in my profile, to the actual messages sent.! Guys with no compatibility had no problem paying money to message girl number 2.

(This happens when the inbox is full, OKCupid let’s you pay a dollar to allow your message to get through anyway.)

4. Nine guys did this, and none of them even brought up the fact they had paid to message me, even when ! I didn’t message them back.!

**Initially, I had a friend help me manage one of the profiles due to sheer volume, and on occasion he would instigate messages, but once I reduced the profiles to one that stopped happening. Messages instigated BY the profile are so rare, I only include this disclaimer for factual accuracy. 


click here to follow Brandon on twitter & don't miss his blog over yonder!


#RealDeal: Living on both ends of the spectrum (Bipolar Hallway)

<editorsnote> Nerds, meet my buddy Brandon. We started talking on the Facebook not too long ago, and lemme tell you, this guy can throw in quite the few kneeslappers in his emails. Yep, see Brandon is a comedian who is here today to tell you the real deal on what it's like being "on the circuit." I only have one more thing left to say ... HIT IT BRANDON!!! </editorsnote>

#TalkNerdyToMeLover's @BrandonComedy

I’ve been depressed lately. But instead of sitting in my room and sulking, I’ve made a conscious effort to mingle with people, and be social. It’s not working per-se, but it has got me talking about my condition. A friend asked me to describe depression, saying that it seemed like just being sad all the time, and while that might describe general depression, it isn’t true to my experiences.
Depression for me is not the feeling of total sadness, but rather the opposite. I never feel sad for the sake of sadness, my whole thing is about hope. Depression to me is being in a dark circular hallway, and seeing light 20 feet away, but no matter how close you get, you can never experience the light. Sometimes you walk the hallway leisurely, sometimes you run, but no matter the pace, you simply can’t catch the light. You become so fixated on the light, you ignore the fact that the hallway is lined with doors, and those doors represent opportunity. You become so singularly focused on catching light, you neglect opportunities, friends, everything, it ALL becomes about catching the light.
I have been focusing so hard on getting back to Chicago, that I’ve neglected how truly spectacular my friends in Kansas City are. I’ve become fixated on a theoretical good, that I’ve missed out on so many good things, and great experiences with awesome people.
Chicago wasn’t all it was cracked up to be, for a number of reasons, but still I’ve been making it my number one priority. I might be stuck in the hallway forever, but from now on I’m going to open more doors, and let their light shine in.



click here to follow Brandon on twitter & don't miss his blog over yonder!


#RealDeal: 10 lessons learned while being 28 

I turned 29 last month. It may not be a "milestone" year by tradition, but for me personally, this year changed everything. So much so, I have written this post three times already and been dissatisfied with each one. I don't know how to put into words everything that I am feeling, but I will certainly try. 

Maestro ... 

Oh hey 29! Nice to see you. 10 Lessons Learned While Being 28: 

1) To love someone is truly selfless.

I wrote about that a few weeks back, but I can't stress enough how true it is. Even in re-reading it, I can't stop crying. Falling in love this year has been one of the most difficult things I have ever done.

<tangent> In a beautiful way, of course, as love in its natural state is beyond any beauty we can articulate. </tangent>

I guess I just never realized how closed off emotionally I have been my whole life. The Shaman tried telling me a few times ... (very very very much appreciate all your help Brendan), but it took falling in love for me to actually see it. You can't see how selfish you are as a person until you have to become selfless. I can hear some of our earlier conversations and I'm genuinely embarrassed. I know I can't go back, and I know there's nothing I can do about it, but I even apologized to my dad the other day. I thought back to how selfish I was as a teenager, young adult, ::whispers:: and even when I was a-not-so-young-adult. He of course just laughed, and said it's what you do as a parent when you love your child. 

Selfless. It's completely selfless, and it's now time for me to not be strictly on the receiving end. 

2) To love someone means you are the caretaker for their heart. 

(I also mentioned this in a previous post.) 

I've spent a lot of time thinking about guys that I've dated and relationships I have been in. Looking back critically I think about things I could have done differently, or steps that I might not have seen. While I can't go back, I can stop history from repeating itself. 

To love someone means to encourage their desires, whatever or however weird/ wild they may be - while at the same time walking on your own path. If the two of you continue to march down that same path, great! If not, great! It's not your job to dictate which way things will go or change your own desires to appease. We are only the caretaker for our partner's heart for however long we are on the same path. It is of course impossibly difficult to not want to change aspects of yourself to give in to whatever path your partner is going down, but you have to be honest with yourself and honest with your relationship. If you cloud things with the reality of "it'll all just work out" you aren't leading an authentic life. Relationships are work, man. They take two to tango, but if you realize your partner is hurting you have to accept the fact that you can no longer be the caretaker for their heart. Love, again, is selfless. Sure, at first, you'll want to scream and get mad - but you have to understand that that is just your ego talking. Loving someone doesn't ever change and doesn't ever go away. Just because you're no longer the caretaker doesn't mean that the care given is suddenly null and void. It simply means it's time to go your own way. 

3) Leading an authentic life is really, really hard. 

I've spent so much of my adulthood wanting to "find myself." In doing so, I've certainly had a lot of fun ... but even in the process I was still hiding behind a persona. I was no less closer to understanding who that inner being was before I had even gotten started. Of course, you don't really realize this, but being on an island for the last few months has been quite helpful. There is no hype here. No bs. You can't hide from anyone, and that certainly includes yourself.

I had two friends from LA stay with me the other week. One of them turned to me at one point and said, I've gotten to know you more in these last few hours than I have in the last 2 years. Normally, I would have been hurt or gone on a huff and puff of how "I lead this transparent life, yada yada." Instead I just smiled because I knew that while it was unfortunate he was right, I was actually glad that I knew I was speaking from my heart and layer by layer a more authentic individual is unfolding. I'm sure this process is going to take a really long time, so I'm just going to leave the rest of this thought at just that. 

4) Confidence and character are built through experiences. 

I was in Jamaica a few months back, and while I was on a tour of one of the plantation homes they talked about how the kids growing up here would have to carry these buckets in each of their hands. The buckets alone weighed 15 lbs, and when they were strong enough to carry not only the buckets but fill them with water they were ready to work in the field. At any other time in my life, I would have thought that it was child abuse, and move on. Looking back critically at my own life, I have been extremely sheltered. Even in not having a home, and all of the adventures within this website, I still had the protection of my own computer. I crafted all of these walls around myself as a barrier, never actually experiencing things in their natural state. In that moment, I envied those children that had that experience. I'm sure they didn't enjoy it, but the fruits of their labor I'm sure blossomed into a kind of strength I can only hope to have one day. 

5) Speaking of strength - you need to work out. Period end of sentence. 

28 was definitely the year I got serious about fitness. In my early 20s I was thin, but I did the LA diet of drinking diet coke and eating a piece of cheese when you feel like you're about to pass out. 


While I was exercising at the time, I also greatly deprived my body of the nutrients it needed. I was always tired, and was in a deep depression. Now, I am the same weight I was then, but am leaner and stronger ... 


It's no longer about the number on the scale, but the strength that is emerging from deep within myself. It sounds really cheesy, but to me, working out is like showering. If I'm not healthy and presenting the best I can be to the people I come across to on a daily basis, I am denying myself a fulfilled life, and cheating my friends out of a fulfilling relationship. Now, instead of allowing myself to go back into a depression, anytime I'm feeling anxious I'll go for a run or take a spin class. It's about getting out of my head and back into my body. I've honestly never felt better. 

6) Your outer environment represents your inner environment.

I've known this for the last few years. I would always notice a correlation between the cleanliness of my room or apartment with my happiness. If I was happy things were clean, but if I was depressed I wouldn't be able to see the floor - let alone whatever was falling over in the closet. This past year, I wake up, make my bed every single day, and clean the house daily while leaving time on the weekend for a full clean. I've developed discipline and an appreciation for both of my environments. I take pride in my home even if no one else is there to see that I clean, I know it is, and that feels good. 

7) Stop relying so much on other people's advice, find your own.

A friend of mine called me out a few months back for always sticking my head in various advice books, or stories of other people's adventures and their lessons learned from their experiences. Let me ask you something, he said one day, what did you actually learn from all these "wild" adventures that you've had? I don't know, I shrugged. It's like people who read Bukowski, or Kerouac, he continued. They so badly want to align with this individual that they try to follow this same path, and do the same things. All I got from the "wild" experiences were just that - good stories, I said. I'm grateful, I certainly don't regret a second of it, but I know for a fact I've learned more in these last few months of just watching and truly experiencing something for myself and not just for a story. You can go out and have a wild adventure, he continued, but all you will ever end up with is just that. You can't go expecting to learn something, you just need to be happy with the experience and leave it at that. Down the road, you might be able to look at it critically, but it really is just that - an adventure. He was so right, and I actually had to cut off contact with specific friends just for that fact. I KNOW I will always turn to them for advice (or talk to them because I know they turn to me for advice), but it's time for me to develop my own confidence and own decision making ability. I can't rely on anyone else for this part of the journey. 

8) When you get everything you want, you realize it isn't exactly what you wanted. 

This past year has professionally been the best. I had all of these goals, and then I actually signed contracts attaining them. I remember looking in the mirror afterwards though, and not feeling any different. I had pushed and pushed and pushed, but who and/or what was I doing it all for? The only thing in life that ended up changing was my desire to want to talk about any of the projects I was working on. I only needed to tell the world if I was actually marketing said project - but otherwise, I could just be quiet and content with everything that had been accomplished. It was in those moments of stillness, that I was then faced with the reality that none of this had fulfilled me. I got what I wanted, and found out it wasn't anything that I needed. 


9) When a 4 year old tells you she loves you, she really means it.

Recently I was playing with two of my friends Lilly and Adam. Lilly is 4 and Adam just turned 7. We were playing hide and seek and Adam was counting. Lilly and I ran into her parent's bedroom and she hid under the comforter while I hid behind the bathroom door. A few seconds after placing the blanket above her head she stuck her whole body out and said, "I really love you Jen." I smiled, telling her that I loved her too, but that Adam was going to find us so she better keep hiding!!!! I didn't let on to her in that moment, but I can definitely say it was top 3 for age 28. Lilly is radically honest. We were playing once, and I turned her table into a spaceship and she laughed saying, "it wasn't time for pretend." I'm fascinated by these kids, and honored that I get to call them friends. Here I am teaching them how to play "red light green light" and "Mother, may I?" and they are teaching me about love and life in more ways than I can count. I didn't expect that. 

10) Speaking of kids, you really do have a ticking biological clock. 

I remember growing up watching this scene from Look Who's Talking ... 

I had no idea obviously what a biological clock - but now? Holy hell that thing ticks and ticks and ticks. It's scary being a woman and having this timeline biologically that doesn't take into consideration your dating history, any marriages, job security. A lot of my friends have kids now, and while they say you may never be ready, if you're like me and want them, you also can't wait too long. 

That scares me, but maybe this is something I will learn to overcome this year. Only time will tell. 

Tick tock tick tock. 

Thanks for reading.