Some Lessons From 2010

Confession: for me, this has not been an especially glorious holiday season. On Christmas Eve, somewhere on the Upper East Side, somebody stole my wallet. On New Years Eve, somewhere between Boston’s South Station and Port Authority, I contracted the stomach flu.

(For the record, and any assistance in theorizing, last year was also traumatic: on Christmas I spilled a mug of hot tea in my lap and spent the rest of my three-week vacation sulking around my brother’s brownstone swathed in various layers of gauze and dosages of Codine.)

So, lately, the “holiday spirit” or whatever has basically eluded me.

But one benefit of being couch-ridden is that it gives you time to write–or at least, think about writing when you’re too nauseous too do so. And this morning I got an email from WordPress with all sorts of fancy statistics about my “year in blogging”–which, as they kindly reminded me, was my first.

And, as you know, I love a list. I may be a little bit queasy going into the coming year, but it seems logical–and, well, kinda fun, to take some stock of the one that’s just ended.

So, here we go: some things I (maybe, hopefully) learned in 2010 that (mostly) didn’t make it on to the blog:

1. It is not possible to blog about a relationship that you are in.

You may recall that back in April I fancied myself quite heroic for respecting the request of a guy who specifically requested asked me not to blog about him. Since then, I’ve realized that he did me a favor. (Well, that would be the only favor he did me–but that’s another story.) The fact is that I can’t well get to know someone without telling them I write a blog. And so long as they know about it chances are they’re going to read it. And navigating relationships may not be my strongest suit, but one thing I know is that I don’t want a romantic interest to learn more from what I write about him than what I tell him. That’s weird.

2. I am really bad at sexting.

To be clear: Brett Favre never sent me nude pictures of himself. But a man I dated did attempt, while out of town, to engage in rather illicit sexual exchanges via text. I appreciated the gesture, but when I tried to reciprocate found myself at a complete loss. I’ve showed the texts to a few close friends and each time their giggles have been less in response to the guy’s risque monologues than my own totally pathetic attempts to respond. The best comment, though, came from my friend M in DC (who I shall not be blogging about at length any time soon–see lesson #1). When I asked him if he’d ever sexted he gasped: “Hell no,” he said. “I don’t want my future children getting arrested for sexting!” Amen.

3. If I could act uninterested when I actually am interested, my life would be gravy.

Sometimes I wonder if God (or, you know, whoever) really wants us to reproduce. Because goddamn is it true that the less we think someone wants us, the more we want them. I’ve always basically known this. But never has it been more clear to me than with the last man I dated. I could literally feel my lack of enthusiasm bolster his. In those moments, I would sit there, ignoring his affection, and think about how much better my love life would be if I could only act similarly with men I really am enthusiastic about. These fantasies never got very far: as I admitted the other day, I suck at faking anything. If I like someone, they’re gonna know it. Have I mentioned that I’m single?

4. Don’t ever read someone’s emails/chats/diaries without their invitation.

If someone wants you to know something, they’ll tell you. If you think they’re hiding something, confront them. But don’t go looking in places you weren’t meant to. There’s nothing worse than being saddled with information you aren’t supposed to be. Trust me.

5. If a woman loses a barrette/earring/necklace when she sleeps over, that doesn’t mean she wants to marry you.

Sometimes a necklace is just a necklace, and she just wants it back. This isn’t really something I learned this year, but at the moment for some reason seems important to share.

6. Men don’t make plans.

True story. So, most women I know–we like a guy, we go out with him, immediately we wonder: when will I see him again? Men, I have learned, do not operate this way. That guy I wasn’t so enthusiastic about that definitely was into me? Not once at the end of our dates did he ask about the next. Instead, he’d text a few days later and try to seduce me with fudge, posole and peanut butter bon bons. (A good strategy, by the way, but ultimately unsuccessful.) Had I been really into it this would have driven me crazy. Next time I am really into someone, I will try and remember this. I’m telling you now, it will be hard.

7. Talk to your mother.

I just watched this movie “Tiny Furniture” about a recent Oberlin grad who moves back in with her mother and straggles about the house, aimless both practically and existentially. I have a lot to say about it. But for now, just this: there’s this moment at the end of the film (I don’t think this spoils anything) when she admits to her mother that she’s just had sex with a guy she doesn’t know very well. On the street. On the street in a pipe. “Did you use protection?” her mother asks, first. Then: “Weren’t you cold?” Many women have a similarly strong (though usually, more guarded) impulse to share with our mothers. And it’s often mitigated by our fear of their (sometimes, bizarrely) overprotective, mama bear response. But you don’t have to tell your mother your dumbest sexual forays to seek her occasional wisdom on relationships. Usually, in my experience, it’s invaluable. Those of us who still have our mothers around are extremely lucky. I wasn’t going to make any resolutions for the new year, here or elsewhere, but I guess that’s one thing that, in 2011, I will try and remember.



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2 responses to “Some Lessons From 2010

  1. suzanne

    Great, and solid advice for ringing in a new year! Much appreciated!
    Also-Generally speaking-Don’t ever F*ck with the IRS. That’s good rule too!

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