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On Ask Polly: My Terrific Herd Of Friends Is Being Ruined By This Awful Freak

@bluewindgirl I'd have to guess that you should recognize that the resentment isn't about her behavior exactly. It's more about what you got sucked into and the time you spent. You are mad at her that you didn't get out of it faster, and mad at yourself that you got pulled in. At least for me, I have a few friends I love but who make me completely exasperated, and its more about how mad I am at who they turn me into. I want to be less ruffled by their behavior, and "be cool" and instead they make me seem like ranting uptight bitch because of their damn careless ways and no one else seems as bothered and that bothers me too!

So for me, I gotta lean into to knowing that person annoys me, brace myself, find ways to limit it. If I try to act like this time I'm not going to get pissed off in a greater proportion to everyone else I definitely will. It makes it easier for me to not hate that person when I realize I'm mad at myself. So if I pre visualize the thing that person does that annoys me before I see them, I'm able to be more zen. "Oh there she goes, I totally expected it!"

Posted on February 27, 2014 at 2:46 pm 1

On Ask Polly: My Parents Don't Want Me To Marry This Short Man And I'm Freaking Out!

The weird thing about being married is that you will be with that person till you die if your marriage works out. You are 29, on average you'll live to be 81. He's probably going to make it to 76, which means he's at the exact midpoint of his life- he's going to live at least another 38 years if all goes well. 7 months is about 1.5% of his remaining life, about 1.1% of your remaining 52 years. Which is to say, it's not a lot of time.

What this means to me is why would you rush the courtship end of things to get the marriage part? You could hold out two years before getting married and it would only represent 5% of the life you would live together. Even with a 2 year courtship 95% of your relationship (provided it worked) would be married time!

I mean, life doesn't work that way really, but it's just... I get that people get swoony and want to lock it all down plus kids and not being ancient when you have them, but if you are going to spend 38 years with this dude, there's no reason not to do your homework when you start out. The wedding is a dramatic point followed by 4 decades of just regular life with only one person. Better make sure you can stand that person inside and out and you don't have any doubts.

Posted on January 8, 2014 at 12:12 pm 1

On Ask Polly: Should I Give In And Be The Other Woman?

@Niko Bellic I'm not interested in protecting the creep's feelings. I just think that if someone was like, "this girl is a real creep and is trying to get me to cheat on my girlfriend" and the advice columnist was like, "you know what makes all women insecure? Telling her your girlfriend has perfect nipples and long legs and the best vagina ever"- I would think that's not a good strategy.

Maybe it's distracting to my point that I came up with an alternate way of putting someone else down that doesn't rely on physical features, because certainly, all of those rely on the idea that the person isn't confident in some aspect of their sexual prowess. I just think the penis size thing is an out of bounds choice because I it's relying on and enforcing an expectation that someone would feel shame or insecurity for their physical features. And that is a toxic thing.

I don't think I've "lost the point of defending the victim in my efforts to protect the feelings of the aggressive asshole". I think the analogy I'd go with is that if someone was like, "you know what stops men from catcalling you on the street? Calling them a racial slur or a homophobic name!", I'd still say, "it's not cool to shame someone else in your tactic to defend yourself" and it doesn't have anything to do with protecting the person being the harasser. Everything else Polly said is great advice. I just think that part was not polite and mean. Not polite to the world as a whole, not in keeping with the rest of how this column really sticks up for doing the right thing. Defending yourself from one person doesn't mean you should strike out and hit some other person.

Posted on July 31, 2013 at 7:03 pm 2

On Ask Polly: Should I Give In And Be The Other Woman?

Polly, you had me right up to the penis thing. Penis size is a main body insecurity dudes have, and it seems unkind and vindictive when women do this thing about penis size-even if the guy is a terrible guy. What woman hasn't felt the burn of having some body part be dismissed as not the right size, and the fear they're not as worth loving because of it?

It seems so unnecessary to pass the body insecurity misery along. I think you could say many other things that are just as intimidating but aren't contributing to some concept that men with small penises suck. His stamina, his skill, his libido- those are all good ones. "I've never met a man who likes to have sex as much as he does! I can barely walk. wink wink. The thing about him is his tongue...is magic. Magic. The man can weave 12 cherry stems into a tiny basket!" etc.

Plus, what if this creep has a huge penis? What if he thinks to himself, "AHA, I have a chance! Mine is huge!?"

Posted on July 31, 2013 at 5:24 pm 4

On Ask Polly: My Boyfriend Dumped Me For Following My Dreams

LW1: I went through something pretty similar with an ex. And it basically forced me to think about how I'd built myself the type of life that felt unfulfilled without a relationship to guide it. Which becomes a problem when the relationship gets pulled away.

The way I let go, was by deliberately not letting go. I made a list of breakup recovery cliches and checked them off one by one (take a class, go out clubbing, get a haircut. listen to our song and cry, toss his stuff, etc- anything in a rom-com montage). I made a list of all the qualities I'd wished he'd had or things I knew would bug him and specifically went on dates with men with those qualities- taller men, men with better jobs, etc. I came up with adventures for myself to do that I thought would help me win if I ever ran into him again (took trips, got great pictures that I figured mutual friends might share with him, that kind of thing). And then over time a larger and larger percentage of that kind of stuff turned into just me living my life for me, and not always thinking of how I was totally grinding his face into the dust.

I find that a negative way of thinking helps me more. Like, for instance what if I am never going to meet anyone ever again and also my job always sucks? What then? You can't just hate your life for the next 60 years if that happens. There's other stuff besides work and relationships, and if you are truly going to suck at the other two, which you probably won't for long, but just in case, will you be able to find other awesome stuff? You have to fill up the time somehow, might as well like it.

Posted on June 26, 2013 at 8:58 pm 3

On Ask Polly: How Do You Handle The Death of a Facebook Friend?

@Lcanon This makes me think of the expression, "There's no zealot like a convert." Aka, as a liberal breaking away from your conservative family, you are more strongly convinced you are right and want to spread the word, stick up for what you believe in. However imagine that your conversion wasn't to liberalism. Imagine if you came home as some kind of religion more strict than your family has. Say...a Mennonite. And all you wanted to do was be like, "WHY DO YOU KEEP USING CREDIT CARDS! You KNOW I'm not a user of credit cards! OR computers! That zipper is too fancy!"

And your family, to their credit was like, "look we still love you, go on and don't use electricity if you don't want to." and then later you walked into a room and your mom is saying, "Oh my god do I ever love ice cubes and takeout!" and you are like, "MOM HOW COULD YOU!"

The example above is obviously different because to a liberal person, conservative values contain a lot of value judgement and hateful sentiments, but I think the test is what happens when you come home with your values. If they have said stuff that makes you cringe about a racial group- used a stereotype or a bad word, but when you come home with someone from that group, they do their damn best to make that person welcome, even if it's not always smooth sailing, that's a sign that they see abstract things really differently from concrete people. And concrete things will be what ultimately converts them- that that guy, he's gay?! But he seems cool! Maybe I need to rethink.

So I'd suggest also maybe if you can manage it, making it a joke at your own expense. If someone starts in on liberal feminist sluts and their birth control, you gotta be like, "Now hey now Uncle Ted, I need to get more beer. I'm going to go take my 12 abortion pills, and come on back to the table, can I get you anything?" Depends on your family, and their sense of humor, but at least among the medium racist/homophobe/sexist people in my family, they tend to respect a different opinion so long as you make it funny. They do not like having their noses shoved in anything, but if it's like, "we aren't on the same side at all, ha ha ha, more pickles?" it works.

Posted on June 20, 2013 at 5:24 pm 1

On Critics Who Explain Things

There is some brilliant relationship parallel to be made here between what's going on in the comedy debate over the various merits of rape jokes, and the right therin of a comic to make said jokes and the rights and role of a critic. In both cases you have an industry that looks critically at subjects and comments on them. In both cases you have an industry that is traditionally dominated by straight male white people, reaching a tipping point where your consumer base is no longer strictly the province of the same demographics. And some really interesting and frustrating and hopeful things are comming out of that change.

For each you have a playing field that is not at all level but has tilted into an angle where for the first time, accusations that the field is slanted are audible at all. The critics are in a place where they themselves are vunerable to criticisms, where they could lose income as a direct result of a misplaced statement. They're nervous and it shows in these jittery dances, that end up being all the more telling in what they reveal. Tosh gets so nervous by being told a certain brand of humor isn't funny at all, he freaks out and says the intellectual equivalent of, "yeah well, I hope you DIE!". Giraldi gets so preready to deal with the accusation that he's unable to see the worth of a woman's work that he gives the game away and says "women's fiction" equals a "leaden obsession with pregnancy, dating and divorce", but that's not why he doesn't like it! No, it's just pop lit!

And it's funny because he was totally doing fine before that when he's talking about how she uses language. When he says, "Ohlin’s language betrays an appalling lack of register — language that limps onto the page proudly indifferent to pitch or vigor...In just 13 pages you will be asked to endure eyes “fluttering,” then “shining,” then “fluttering” again. Mitch’s girlfriend is “brilliantly smart” — imagine for a second the special brand of languor required to connect those two terms ..." - That's fine! I'd never know that there was any special awareness from this critic as to his issues with "leaden" lady topics if he'd stuck to really viciously pursuing the mediocre writing, and we probably wouldn't even be talking about it today. He put the "phallic shadow" into this article his own damn self.

Posted on August 22, 2012 at 5:41 pm 2

On Lobstah And Crafts! A Summertime Guide To Portland (The Real One, In Maine)

@tomme Time for my Mainer joke! My Mainer grandparents always told this one. No one else I know in the world finds it funny, except people from Maine over the age of 50.

A woman marries a man from Maine and moves back with him to his hometown. Everyone treats her as an outsider. They have kids. The kids grow up, they marry local kids, have more kids. It's 30 years later and she's still being treated like a newcomer. In frustration she vents to her mother in law. She says, "I've lived here for 30 years. Your son is from here, our kids are from here! Why do people still treat me like an outsider!"

Her mother in law looks at her calmly and says, "That cat over theah had heah kittens in the oven. But we don't call them biscuits."

AHA HA HAHA. So funny when my gram told it. That was the meanest burn she knew.

Posted on May 22, 2012 at 4:06 pm 2

On How To Write The Great American Novel

@barnhouse I'm a huge fan of Raptor Red. Main character is a Utahraptor. It's a gripping epic. There's heartbreak, young love, difficulties of parenting and danger galore!

Posted on April 3, 2012 at 6:59 pm 0

On Romance Novels, The Last Great Bastion Of Underground Writing

Brava! Maria, there's a romance author Jennifer Cruisie who got into romance novels because she was planning to read 100 men's adventure stories and 100 romance novels and then dissect the two. But she got absorbed in the romance novels. From her webpage: "The romance novels turned out to be so feminist and so absorbing, that she never got to the men’s adventure fiction and decided to try writing fiction instead..." I very much enjoy her essays on the importance of romance novels. And I also enjoy several of her books, although some of them have a rushed quality, they are quick fun sexy reads.

Virgina Woolf as always got it right: "This is an important book, the critic assumes, because it deals with war. This is an insignificant book because it deals with the feelings of women in a drawing-room. "

Posted on February 14, 2012 at 5:24 pm 1