Sunday, January 14, 2007

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Heather & Jennifer

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Holding Off for Too Long?

I’m going to begin with a confession: I am having sex. This is a confession not only because I live in fear that somehow, some way, this will make its way to my parents, who are enjoying an idyllic retirement in Colorado, but also because I’m not having the kind of sex you read about in Cosmo where it seems all women are sexual Houdinis. You know what I’m talking about. These women display amazing physical prowess at all times (i.e., sex while in a handstand, while hanging from the ceiling, while riding bareback on a horse) as well as creativity (incorporating the use of foodstuffs, uniforms, and other paraphernalia), enthusiasm (good to go at all times, in all places), and achieve multiple, earth-shattering orgasms.

The thing is, I survived 28 years without sex. Actually, survived is not the correct term. I lived happily for 28 years as a (gasp!) virgin. Because, as my mother pounded into my brain early in life, “nice girls don’t do it, unless they are married.” (See Also: “Men won’t buy the cow if the milk is free,” and, “Balance an aspirin between your knees’ if you want to stay out of trouble.”) Instead, I traveled and built my career. I developed a fondness for hiking and fly fishing.

Yes, being a virgin throughout my 20s was a breeze. It was losing my virginity that proved difficult—not because I didn’t have a man or chose the wrong one, but because, let’s face it: It takes a while to get it right. And in a world pulsing with Cosmo headlines promising “full-body” orgasms and “62 Ways to Drive Him Crazy” (seriously, I just wanted to get through it without nervous-talking), a 20-something fumbling through her first attempts at sex can feel pretty alone. However, 11.4 percent of 20- to 24-year-old women and 4.1 percent of 25- to 29-year-olds had remained pure in one Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study. So while we’re hardly the majority, there are plenty of us around—and plenty more women who are still struggling with the basics. ... click here for more

Thursday, December 28, 2006

The Starter Girlfriend

He sat on my bed with his back to me. I couldn’t see his face, but I knew he was crying. “You’re the one who’s been in relationships before,” he said. “Can’t you tell me how to fix it?”

A part of me wanted to help, to reach over and hug my boy, and tell him everything was going to be okay. But the other part of me (the part taking over lately) was exasperated, fed-up, and wanted to march around town in stilettos and hot pants to find herself a Real Man. I can’t lie: I want cowboys and firefighters for lovers, brawny arms and rescues from burning buildings. I don't want to be someone’s mom or personal relationship coach anymore. I’m getting a little tired of being the Starter Girlfriend.

Some women break horses. Others break in shoes. I break in men. To clarify: I don’t break them. In fact, I make them: Many go on to fulfilling relationships after me. They come out so well in fact, I should start charging for the service. Take Steven. He discovered religion a year before we met, wore wool tartans, and was dazzled by the philosophical depth implied by my signature Tom Petty ensembles – short-sleeved collared shirt, skinny tie – as well as my love of the Pixies and Pulp. I shrugged and gave it a shot. Four months later, Steven and I broke up and he went on to date Karen, who sits in the pew next to him at church. They play chess together and have dinner with Episcopalians every Thursday night.

They are perfect for each other, and very happy, and I’m still waiting for my thank-you note. I was Steven’s first “real” girlfriend. Near the end of our time together, we sat on a grassy, sunny hill on the University of Berkeley campus, facing the crowds of similarly clueless college students. Steven took my hand and said, “Just tell me how to make you happy. I want to learn how to be a good boyfriend.”

So I told him: Listen to me, and talk to me. He learned – so well, in fact, that he and Karen have now been together for eight months.

So why do women like me end up Starter Girlfriends and never permanent ones? According to Dr. Bella DePaulo, author of "Singled Out ," we can credit our smartypants ambitions for this one again. We're getting married later, becoming self-sufficient earlier, and pursuing advanced degrees and travel before even thinking about having children. So a less-experienced — maybe even significantly younger — man can seem like a low-maintenance alternative to a time-consuming, adult relationship. But, of course, many women find out too late that he’s the exact opposite. ... click here for more

Confessions of a Bush Voter

With midterm elections just past us and the 2008 presidential campaign heating up, I can't help but remember the nightmares that were the 2004 elections. I know a lot of you are nodding in agreement right now, thinking, "Yeah, I can't believe those morons voted for him!" Don't agree with me too fast, though: I'm one of those "morons."

My vote wasn't based on ignorance; I knew more about the race than most people offering their opinions. My husband is a staunch Republican, which is why I started really paying attention to the elections for the first time. While I didn't do much in the way of hard-core campaigning, I watched as my husband went door to door and did whatever he could to aid in the re-election of the president. I sat through numerous speeches debunking the claims of the opposition. I read all the equally long spiels from the other side, debunking the claims of my guy.

It was my first experience being immersed in Republican politics. I grew up in a house full of Democrats and I, myself, am registered as an independent. I've voted in every major election since I turned 18, but it was always a quick thing for me: I'd spend a few hours reading up on the candidates and then making a snap decision. But in 2004, I knew months in advance what my final decision would be.

I learned the hard way that I preferred solitude to the abandonment of watching the people I cared about walk away from me. My friends are mostly liberals, and my family now leans more toward not caring than anything, so my strong allegiance to the president alienated me from a lot of people. A few friendships ended because my so-called friends didn't care to actually listen if I voiced my disagreement. There was no room for friendly debate with them; thus I stopped speaking up. I didn't hide my opinions, mind you: I have the W'04 sticker on my car to this day. I just chose to not vocalize them in mixed company. There are exceptions to that rule as I have a handful of friends whom I can openly debate without causing a major fallout; I have learned a lot from these friends and I thrive on interaction with them. ... click here for more

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Too Smart, or Too Picky?

We've learned (below) that we modern girls aren't too smart to come, but I think we might be too picky. My friends and I tend to dine and whine, Sex and the City-style, about the generally abysmal state of our love/sex lives. The one exception, of course, is anyone who happens to be in the throes of a new, promising relationship—that time when the sex is fresh and the love is blind. So basically, anyone who isn't right this second falling for someone wonderful is roundly dissatisfied with her romantic predicament.

Study after study has shown that women today are too busy, too achievement-obsessed, too damn tired to get around to having a good sex life. But I postulate that perhaps we need to turn that to our advantage and approach dating the way we approach our careers: We need to become goal-oriented—and, even more important, we need to have realistic expectations. We also need to prioritize: If getting laid is your major goal, I have good news for you—that's an easy one to fix. If what you really want is some conversation, well, get out and mingle, even when you'd rather be home with a bottle of wine and Grey's Anatomy.

The fact is that what most of us really want, though, isn't just sex, or just stimulating conversation, or just that moment when you realize you both live for Battlestar Gallactica AND Panic! at the Disco AND Kerouac. We want all of that, all at once. And the thing is, even if we, quite improbably, find it, a lot of the time things still don't work out. One of you isn't ready yet, or is moving to Prague for a year, or is too ready, or wants to take a break, or wants to get married, or likes The Ghost Whisperer, which is the one thing the other just can't handle.

Are high standards a bad thing? Of course not. But while we're all writhing with dissatisfaction, it's worth noting that audiences used to embrace The Love Boat by the millions; today fans are indignant when Lost or The Sopranos—two well-crafted, layered works of telegenic literature—has an off night. Sometimes you have to enjoy a few episodes of The Love Boat while you're waiting for your Lost to come.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Sanity Vs. Vanity

Who decided that women should suffer for beauty? We're confident and competent, but for some reason, our sensibility flies out the window the moment we tackle our own appearances.

Let's be honest. Pore extractions consist of a well-paid spa worker repeatedly pinching your face hard enough to leave bruises. Fancy lip-plumping glosses feel like bee stings for hours afterward. And almost any service on a spa menu has an at-home-treatment counterpart these days (smear some exfoliant on a suspiciously vibrator-like contraption, and voila!—the poor woman’s microdermabrasion!). But that doesn’t mean you should be doing this torturous stuff to yourself. Here, a collection of treatments far too stupid-painful for the smart, realistic girl to waste time and recuperative energy on. ... click here for more

Too Smart to Come?

It’s tough being a well-educated woman with a career.

Last year we learned that women with high IQs don’t get married – and that men would prefer to marry their secretary rather than their peer.

This year, we learned that if you make more than $30,000 per year, work 35 hours a week or more outside the home or have a university-level (or higher) education you are more likely to cheat and get divorced, less likely to have children, unable to keep house and somehow able to make your husband physically ill.

But this year also dealt smart women an even more gutting blow: A Canadian study found that smart women are also less likely to have orgasms during sex.

The study, published in the Canadian Journal of Human Sexuality, found that better-educated women are more likely to have low sex drives and less likely go climax if they can muster the energy to get started. Some 48 percent of university-educated women report problems compared with 31 percent of high-school grads.

It’s not the first time that researchers have correlated the inability to orgasm with advanced education: Even when I’d seek out some kinky light reading in my graduate school library, I’d find dire news on the topic. Sex in America: A Definitive Study (1994) revealed that while women like me were more open to inventive sexual positions, masturbation, and experimentation, orgasms weren’t always on the horizon. Not only was I unmarriageable, but I was also fairly unlikely to enjoy the hard-won lovin’ I could find.

Are smart women too uptight to enjoy sex? Do we overthink the primal act until achieving orgasm is impossible? Or are we just more honest about our sex lives? ... click here for more

He's a Husband, Not a Child or a Houseplant

By the time I met John, my co-worker Paula's husband, I was aware of every single one of his faults. I knew the last five stupid things he'd done (forgotten to do the dishes as he'd promised, failed to mail a birthday card to her sister, purchased the wrong kind of soup at the grocery store, left the car unlocked with his cell phone in it, and didn’t pick up his wet towel on the bathroom floor). From the way she'd described the guy to me, I was shocked he wasn't openly drooling.

We were at a mutual friend's wedding, sitting around at a banquet table, and I was next to the (as Paula often called him) "total moron." He was talking to me about football, one arm wrapped around the back of his wife's chair, and though he didn't flash a Nobel Prize in physics at me, he knew quarterback stats, he was polite, and he couldn't say enough good things about his wife.

And about halfway through our conversation she turned around and snapped her fingers at him.

"Go get me a drink," she said, then turned back to the talk she was having with a girl on the other side of her.

Jesus Christ in a prom dress!

Ladies: A man, once and for all, is not a pet.

He may act like one from time to time, lolling around in the bed, cute as a button all curled up on the couch, looking at you sheepishly after he's knocked something over. But if you ask him to fetch and he has any self-respect at all, he'll tell you to fetch it your own damn self.

There's a whole cottage industry built around the caricature of the married or shacked-up male as lovable oaf, helpless in the face of the dishwasher, needing our feminine intervention to make straight the domestic way. America's most odious sitcom, “According to Jim,” features each week a way the dim-bulb husband gets himself into trouble with some household appliance or commonplace chore and has to be extricated from his predicament by his calm, cool, collected wife. ... click here for more

Monday, December 11, 2006

Anatomy of a Guilty Pleasure

When I was a sophomore in college, I was given what any student of Greek mythology should have thought twice about opening: a mysterious box, handed over with a cryptic smile and minimal explanation.

A few minutes earlier I’d been complaining loudly about my miserably boring coursework and wondering if I’d ever remember what it was like to enjoy reading a book – whereupon a charitable friend dragged me up to her room and presented me with a large cardboard box. (And, if I remember correctly, asked me very nicely to shut the hell up.)

I’m not sure what I was expecting, but it certainly wasn’t what I found: an impressive collection of romance novels whose covers were so worn from age and use that the sight was almost tender, as if it were a collection a well-loved, mildly pornographic teddy bears. I was intrigued – and, let’s face it, a little desperate –so I sat down to read my first romance novel. I can’t remember the exact plot, but I’m fairly certain that it involved cross-dressing and pirates.

In other words, it was awesome.

Ever since, I’ve been a devoted fan of the written romance. But until recently, I was also a deeply closeted fan. Whenever I bought romance novels, I’d avoid my local bookstore and go instead to one that was two bus transfers away. I was always sure to pick up some sort of dry, intellectual tome as well, just in case I needed hard evidence when I told the cashier that the romance novels were for a friend. (As a result I have at least 50 books that I will never, ever read on subjects I will never, ever care about, including Lyndon B. Johnson, the Interregnum, and cod.)

Whether you want to call the current age modern, postmodern, or – God help us all – post-postmodern, there’s no escaping the fact that we are increasingly identified not by what we do, but by what we consume. You need only to have been confronted with the gaping, existential horror of a blank Internet dating profile to know that this is true. When we choose to broadcast what we like, it’s not just a matter of taste – it’s a matter of identity.

Our preferences, however, aren’t nearly so biddable as we might like them to be, and so from time to time we have to account for something that isn’t quite in keeping with who we are – or, more accurately, who we want to be. The Guilty Pleasure ... Click here to read complete article.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

What Do You Want from Your Favorite Blog and Website?

In case it's not clear, you're on your favorite blog, and this is your favorite website. But we really, really, seriously want to know ... (this is your cue to hit that little "comment" button down there) What do you wanna read about/discuss here? What do other blogs and sites do that you really love? Which SirensMag stories do you like most? What makes you wanna click on over to the site? What makes you wanna click back here and hit that little "comment" button?

Go ahead, you can do it ...