Ricki/Sophia 3

Dear Ricki/Sophia,

I’m the oldest of my ten cousins, and I’m the only one who didn’t marry in my twenties like a good girl. Usually, being single doesn’t bother me, even at a wedding, but I think that is about to change. My youngest cousin, Tabitha, is getting married in May, at which time I will be the only single cousin left. I won’t disclose our ages, but suffice it to say I held Tabitha when she was a baby. Even if I happen to be feeling good on the big day, I’m anticipating a lot of pitying looks and rude questions. What are your best tips for looking great, feeling fabulous and not giving a fuck?

Sincerely,
Spinsterliscious in Seattle 

Look great, feel fabulous, and do not give a fuck. Am I missing something?

Yeah, Sophia’s pretty much right here. Look, haters gonna hate, and rude people gonna rude. When you get pitying looks, ignore them. When you get rude questions, make big eyes at the person, say, “Wow,” like you cannot believe that this person could ask that rude a question, and then, if you don’t care about that person much, walk away, or if you do, change the subject. “Boy, the bride looked beautiful, huh?” “So, Kim Kardashian, right?” “Your shoes are fabulous; where did you get them?” Just as if they did not ask the incredibly rude question.

Yes, this is perfect. And do not for one moment allow yourself to feel as if you are being rude by changing the subject. You are being all things gracious and kind by ignoring their rudeness and carrying on a polite, appropriate, interesting conversation.

Yes. And if they persist, you can say, “Why are you asking?” And then stare at them and let the silence just sit there. Fight the nice-girl urge to smooth. They’re being rude and inappropriate; it’s they’re job to smooth.

Darling, you have nine nincompoop cousins who have chained themselves into the bonds of matrimony. You alone have escaped these shackles. What on God’s green earth would give them cause to pity you?

Sophia!

What?

We’re married!

Well, that was your decision.

Wow, Sophia. So, Spinsterliscious, do you have an ally at the wedding? Are you invited with a plus one? Bring your coolest friend, male or female. Do you have someone in your family who gets you and would never pity you for being fabulous? Hang with them during the wedding and have a good time. And stop calling yourself a spinster. Or not a sufficiently “good girl.”

Who wants to be a good girl? My alter ego is good and what good has it done her?

Wow, Sophia. Just wow.

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Ricki/Sophia 2

And we’re back!

Dear Ricki/Sophia,

I just moved back to Chicago after seven years in sunny Florida. It was hard saying goodbye to a job I loved, great friends, and lots of fun clubs and community groups I was a part of. But opportunity knocked and I was ready for a new adventure, so I decided to give it a chance. Well, it’s been almost a year now and I couldn’t be more miserable. My new job turned out to be a total bust: I work long hours and I can never seem to get ahead. I have no friends left in town except my parents, who I’ve been living with while I save up enough money for my own place. I thought Chicago might be a great place to find the man of my dreams, but between my long commute and my lack of energy, all I want to do at the end of the day is curl up with a jar of peanut butter and the remote. Even my parents go out more than I do (which they don’t hesitate to point out)! And all that laying around and eating have made me pimply and fat. Who’d want me now? What can I do to get out of this rut?

Yours,

Regressing in Rolling Meadows

I do not know how it is that women do not understand this basic fact of men, but please, hear me: Being pimply and fat will not stop a man from wanting to have sex with you. Most of them will not notice that you are fatter and pimplier than you would like to be. BUT! Believing that men don’t want to have sex with you will stop a man from wanting to have sex with you, nearly every time. (Except for those horrible men who make a business of preying on insecure women, telling themselves that they are very clever indeed, when really, deep down, they do not believe that a woman who liked herself would ever like them. Which is true. And they are absolute shit in the sack; please do not bother with them.)

self-five

(It’s a self-five because Sophia lives in my imagination so we share a set of hands.) (Also, I’ve never inserted a .gif into a post before. I have a feeling this might be addictive.)

You have a bunch of small problems and they are snowballing into one big one in your head and that’s making you miserable and depressed. That doesn’t make you a horrible person; it makes you a totally normal person. But it’s what’s happening and it’s hard to recognize when it’s happening to you so I’m here to tell you that that’s what’s happening.

So, first things first, take care of you. I would start small. I would make a little schedule for myself. On Mondays, allow yourself to curl up with the peanut better and the remote. On Tuesdays you are required to go immediately to the gym after work, even if you feel draggy and tired. Join a yoga class or a class with some fun, exciting element like belly dancing or rock climbing, and just go no matter what else is happening. Take a totally different route to the gym than you do to go home, even if they are close to each other, so you can’t “accidentally” or unconsciously drive home. I’m not saying this because being fat is awful and you must get skinny immediately; I’m saying this because working out makes you feel better. Endorphins, energy, the sense that you did something good for yourself, simply not being home when your irritating parents are all, “We and have awesome concert tickets tonight and then after we’re going out for drinks, what’s your lazy ass doing?”, these are all good things. On Wednesdays, maybe a little more peanut butter and remote time, but before you sit down, go through your local paper or meetup.com and write down three new things you could maybe get interested in trying. Thursday, either back to the gym or to some other outside the house thing. Friday, do more research on those three things, then back to peanut butter. What the hell, put a few dark chocolate chips on there; it’s Friday!

And then Saturday find yourself a delicious man – not your dream man, honestly, darling, just someone attractive – and go back to his place. Or, if he also has a less-than-ideal living situation, go find someplace terribly naughty to park. 

Sophia thinks casual sex is the solution to everything.

I have nothing against formal sex. Wear ermine and pearls if you like; they make me feel divine!

We don’t have any ermine.

That’s what you think. 

Next, the big things. (1) Are you in therapy? Because it sounds like this whole situation – the big expectations you had going in, the letdown of those expectations, the feelings of helplessness surrounding the situation you’re in – has got you pretty down and a little immobilized and maybe seeing a therapist would help.

(2) How soon can you realistically move out of your parents’ house and to someplace that is closer to work? Get an idea in your head of how much money you’d like to have saved and then do everything in your power to get to that number as quickly as possible. Long commutes can suck the everliving life out of you and so can asshole parents. and rest assured, your parents are being assholes. “We’re going out; how come you’re not, loser?!” is not what parents say. It’s what Regina George says.

tumblr_mnksldboXR1reeivdo1_500

Yeah, this .gif thing is going to be fun.

Also, is this the house you grew up in? Even without asshole parents, living where you did when you were a kid can increase your feelings of stagnation and helplessness. GTFO.

(3) The job. You didn’t go into much detail so I don’t know exactly what’s going on with the job. You’ve only been there a year and you called it a “new adventure” so maybe give yourself a little break on the learning curve if it’s relatively new stuff for you? Maybe one of those off-the-couch nights could be seeking some form of professional development? What’s your boss like? Can you talk to him/her about practical, concrete ways to improve your performance? Does your boss think you’re underperforming (“can’t get ahead”) or is it just you? Sometimes – and God knows, I do this, like, way too much – we can let ourselves think, “I did not perform this particular task well, therefore I suck, therefore I should just bury my head in shame and hope no one notices while I chew myself out on the inside for sucking so much,” and that’s not productive or helpful. But you can instead think, “I did not perform this task well, therefore there must be better ways to approach this task. I wonder how I can find them?” and then you can go find them and learn new things and master them and it’s awesome!

I teach Sunday School and sometimes have to teach kids from 4th – 8th grade to read Hebrew. And because the place that I teach is what it is, kids tend to come into the classroom with widely varying levels of already knowing this stuff. So the kids who barely remember that Hebrew goes right to left and not left to right watch the kids in their grade who already know pretty much all the letters and vowels and go, “I must be so stupid and dumb and I hate Hebrew and I hope we can just get this over with,” and sometimes it takes a great deal of work for me to convince them that it’s okay not to already know stuff. No one is born with the Aleph Bet in their head. The kids who already know this stuff just learned it before, that’s all.

My point is, with the job, is there stuff you can treat like it’s just a skill set you haven’t learned yet, and then go about finding ways to learn it, either with the help of your boss/colleagues or on your own?

Or is it simply not the job for you at all? I think you should give it a full calendar year, but if it’s not, it’s not, and that’s okay. Maybe spend one or two of your nights a week doing some serious thinking about what it is you like about the job, what it is you liked about your old job, and what you want from your next job. Then start looking for the next job.

(4) Friends. Friends are everywhere. I think there’s something of a problem in letting us all come of age in college, where finding friends is the easiest thing ever and people get super tight super fast and it feels like family because you’re all at the exact same stage of your life, living on top of each other, with more free time than you even had before or will again, and so many ways to fill it that allow you to meet even more friends. And then we all graduate and move and shit, and find out that making friends as a grown-up is way harder. And it is. And it’s not going to feel like college. But it’s not impossible. Is there no one in your new work place you like and would want to get to know? Ask them for coffee! Ask them if they know any way to conquer the tasks that are difficult for you. Ask them if they know of any fun thing to do this weekend and then ask if they want to do that thing with you. When you’re not at work, get out of the house! You said you were part of lots of clubs and community groups in Florida; find some of those to join! I know you say your long hours are leaving you wiped but, (a) sometimes having fun stuff to look forward to doing is more energizing than knowing you’re going back to your house to be assholed at by your parents, and (b) caffeine exists in numerous delicious forms. Go join shit. Then find the cool people at the places you just joined and say, “Hey, I’m wiped from my long day. Want to get some coffee?” Or, “Holy shit I just had an awful week at work. Know any good wine bars?” What about people you grew up around? Are any of them still in the area/cool? Would you want to hang out with any of them? Give them a Facebook nudge and see what happens.

(5) Dudes. Look, I am not saying that the man of your dreams is not going to happen. But he is sure as hell not going to pop up on your couch holding an extra spoon. So, yeah, you have to leave the house. But also, you’re not going to find him if you start by thinking, “Are you the man of my dreams?” Because then it will always look like, “No.” Because you will be comparing him to this nebulous, glowing image in your head of what a dream man is and no man is nebulous and glowing.

I really like to cook, and my husband really likes it when I cook. But sometimes he’ll be like, “Hey, this restaurant makes a really great thing! Can you make the really great thing just like this restaurant makes?” And I hate when he does that because I’m never going to match the restaurant thing, and, worse, I’m never going to match his memory of the restaurant thing, which is better than even the restaurant thing itself. No man can match the dream in your head.

And you have to get to know the man before you know whether or not he is dreamy. I know, I know, gut-level attraction is important, but, as much as I hate to agree with Patti Stanger on anything, most women don’t know if their guts are attracted until the dude has his tongue in her mouth.

So don’t start with, “Are you the man of my dreams?” Start with, “Are you a man I might enjoy a cup of coffee with?” If yes, “Are you a man I might enjoy dinner with?” And then keep going.

But I wouldn’t even start here because I think you’ve got to get yourself in a healthy headspace before taking dating seriously. I mean, when choosing gym classes and community groups and whatnot, maybe keep half a mind toward dudes you might meet there. Like, maybe make only one thing a thing only girls would do. Don’t do a belly-dancing class AND a knitting circle AND a Jane Austen book club and then not have any time left for dudes. (I mean, I’m sure there are dudes who take yoga and/or knit and/or like Jane Austen. But in terms of numbers? Not so much.) But start by making yourself feel better about your life. Get yourself on a path toward what you want your life to look like. Then, if no dude has presented himself to you, start actively looking for dudes.

In the meantime, some delightful casual sex couldn’t possibly hurt.

I’m not saying “Turn down nookie.” I’m just saying, “Don’t make pursuit of nookie a significant goal right now.” Actually, I’m not saying that either. I’m saying, “Don’t make pursuit of the man of your dreams a significant goal right now.” Nookie is fine.

“Nookie” is always fine.

Ricki/Sophia Reboot

So here’s what’s going on. A long time ago I had an alter ego named Sophia. She’s sort of my id. And she even has an origin story! I had an English teacher my junior year who called me Rachel all year, except one day she called me Sophia. Then she looked at me and said, “You’re not Sophia; you’re Rachel!” So the following year I had a different English teacher who heard me telling this story, and speculated that Sophia was my evil twin. Specifically, my evil Italian twin, whereas Rachel was my nice Jewish girl. (My mother is 100% Italian and my father is 100% Jewish and so I do, actually, have Italian and Jewish halves.) (Also, the English teacher making this comment is himself Italian. I grew up in Jersey, people.)

Anyway, Sophia was going to offer advice with me and I did a couple of columns like that and then I think I erased Sophia from my blog. I was going to set her up with her own but I . . . kind of never got around to it.

And yet my – and her – advice is needed! So here goes!

Dear Ricki/Sophia,

Help! I have a big decision to make. About a decade ago, I got my dream job and moved to a small town in the Midwest. I love what I do, and I have a lot of friends here, but there’s just one problem. There are NO eligible men here! I’m not exactly afraid to be on my own for a little while, and I love the independence of the single life, but to be honest, I haven’t been with a man since I moved here (and the few that have applied for the job could not handle the workload, if you know what I mean). Now I’ve been offered a less-prestigious job, for less money, but in a big city with lots of man potential. Is it silly to sacrifice my career just for sex?

Yours,
Celibate in Cedar Rapids

Darling, I do know exactly what you mean. Of course it is not silly. Sex is never silly. Well, sex is often silly, and delightfully so, but it is never silly to do anything in order to have sex.

Yeah, maybe that’s true for figments of my imagination, Sophia. But let’s back up a step. You say “eligible men” in sentence two, but then in your question you ask about “just for sex.” And those are two very different questions.

Ah! I am lucky I am not alone here; I did not catch that. Yes, I must agree, I find it absurd to believe that there are no men capable of delighting your body in Cedar Rapids. I confess, I do not know what a Cedar Rapids is, but, darling, the world is positively full of men with working penises and a significant percentage of them have some vague idea of what to do with a woman’s body. But if you are looking for something more than simply a person to fulfill your sexual desires, then the question is more complicated.

And you’re not great with complication, Sophia.

I beg your pardon?

Outside the bedroom.

There are many things one can do outside the bedroom.

You know what I mean!

Look, if by “eligible,” you mean, “a man I might want to get married to,” and marriage is important to you, then no, it’s not silly. I’d take some serious time to consider if you’ve truly looked at all of your marriageable options where you are, but if you really think you need to move to find a husband, and you want a husband, then, yeah, do it.

If your career is important to you, too, though, also consider the new job and the old job. You say the old job was your “dream job” ten years ago. Is it still? You say the new one is less prestigious and makes less money. Are those crucial characteristics to you in a job? Does this new job offer something, besides a well of new men, that is attractive to you? If so, then I’d say this is an unqualified yes. Change jobs, change living situations, go on with your bad self. If not, is there a possibility of holding out in Cedar Rapids for a little while longer? Maybe looking into dudes you would not marry but might have fun with in the interim and still look for new jobs in new locations that would offer fulfillment?

Darling, do keep in mind, men are simply crawling all over this planet. There are literally billions of them. In big cities and small, in little tiny towns and on vast swaths of farmland. I do not know how to go about choosing a man for marrying, but for pleasure? Just find one that makes your skin tingle and go for it!

But use a condom.

Ugh.

Yeah, well, figments of imagination don’t get STIs or pregnant. Real women do.

Yes, well, fine, then. Use a condom. And have fun!

Mythical Shoes

(Note to my regular readers: Due to circumstances beyond my control, my Oscars fashion post won’t be up until Thursday at the earliest.)

I’ve been searching for a particular pair of shoes for about a decade now. I don’t know why I can’t find them.

They need to be the kinds of shoes you could wear to work, under trousers, or with jeans if the occasion was casual enough for jeans but too formal for sneakers.

They need to not be brown or black but another color that can function as a neutral and be worn with either brown or black. I seem to remember a season in which you could find shoes in aubergine, dark teal, burnt orange, and maroon. I don’t know what’s happened to that.

(And as a note, if there are any younger girls reading this: My advice to you is to pick out a neutral right now. Decide if you are an earth-tones, brown-and-khaki kind of girl, or a city-slick, black-and-white-and-charcoal kind of girl. Do it now; stick with it for life. It’ll make shoe and purse shopping so much easier.)

They need to be flat. I’m not accustomed to heels and I need to be able to wear them any time, in any weather, for any distance, and while carrying any combination of Zoe, Zoe-related paraphernalia, Hebrew School-related paraphernalia, suitcases, backpacks, shopping bags.

They need to be mature. I’m thirty years old; I don’t want to look like I still think I’m a kid.

But not, you know, frumpy. I’m thirty years old; I can still walk across a room unassisted. And I’ve still got a youthful and zesty and fun spirit. The shoes should reflect that.

But they need to reflect that without having heels. Or wedges. Or platforms. Flat.

I don’t want boots. I have two pairs of boots; awesome rain boots with owls on them from my mother-in-law and Frye riding boots courtesy of my mom, my sister, and my sister’s coupon savvy. I love them both but that’s not what I want. I want to be able to slip the shoe on and off, hands-free, and also not worry about the width of my pant and whether or not said width will be appropriate with the shoe.

Not ballet flats, either. I love ballet flats; I have ballet flats; I am always in the mood for more ballet flats. But I live in Chicago and I need something that I can wear with a sock that doesn’t make me feel goofy. I don’t need it to necessarily be able to handle the worst of winter weather, but a puddle or a well-salted sidewalk should not be impractical in these shoes.

I know the solution is loafers but I honest-to-God cannot find loafers that don’t look frumpy to me. Especially for the longboats I have dangling from the ends of my legs.

So why do you think I can’t find these shoes?