Category Archives: Relationships

Toasters are like Marriage (From What I Hear)

My general life mentor (do people still have those besides me?) has given me a lot of advice and tokens of wisdom since we’ve met. She is a sassy, gorgeous, tiny woman from Mississippi who weighs 107 lbs soaking wet, has the cutest southern accent in existence, and is the most spiritually balanced person I have ever met in my entire life. Plus she’s hilarious. When I tell her how amazing she looks, she says things like, “Oh, honey, powder and paint make a girl what she ain’t!” And when I bring my laundry to her house since I’m too busy to do laundry at my own house, she says “I’m going to have [my 18 year old son] fold your delicates because he needs to learn sooner than later how to be a man!” If I am not just like her in 30 years, something has gone terribly wrong.

One of her metaphors I’ve been thinking a lot about lately is that marriage is much like a toaster. You heard me. A toaster.

brave little toaster

If you’re a milennial and this poster doesn’t give you lots of good feels, I need to have a chat with your parents.

Toasters are made of metal (at least the toaster in this metaphor). If a toaster is made with impure or unrefined metal, the end result is still a toaster. It won’t look as nice, and odds are it won’t work as well, but the metal still creates a product. Even so, no one wants a shabby product. We all want a great toaster, right? Come on, this is the future of our bread we’re talking about! Bread is the fourth best thing in life (following wine, cheese, and guacamole). And if you’re one of those people who “doesn’t like bread,” let me go ahead and call you out because we all know you’re lying and just don’t want to admit that you’re on a diet.

From what my mentor told me, toasters are a lot like relationships. I’ve challenged this claim in my mind and decided upon its truth because a good significant other will most definitely feed you, keep you warm, and pop up out of nowhere. Her point, however, was to say that just like toasters, the quality of a relationship– particularly a marriage– is dependent on the input. If you try to create a marriage using “metal” contaminated with hurtful behavior during the years of dating, bad habits in how you communicate, and baggage in tow from before you ever met, then that marriage will not be as shiny, pure, and high functioning as a union with uncontaminated matter.

You have a lot of baggage? You’ve made a lot of mistakes in your past that weren’t with your future spouse in mind? You treated someone poorly in a dating relationship and want to change? Have no fear! Before your reach the output stage and end up with a bad toaster marriage, you have the “throughput” stage. (For those of you thinking “Systems Theory,” yes, that has Input–>Throughput–>Output–>Outcome, but this is a little different. Just stick with the toaster thing and we’ll be good to go. SCIENCE.) Throughput is the process of building the toaster. You may not have the greatest metal to work with, but you can figure out how to make a super efficient toaster that makes up for the fact that the metal kind of stinks. So you work on it. You mold things a little differently here and there, you try a couple different ways of adjusting the handle, and you figure out the inconveniences you simply have to accept won’t ever be perfect, but for which you can develop patience. You can still completely enjoy the toaster, but it might be a tad more sensitive and take a little extra work and finesse to give you what you want.

The output is whatever you created during the throughput with the input. Ultimately, your toaster is made up of both the fundamental metal, and also how carefully you molded and made the most of said metal. I love this metaphor because even thought it’s pretty much common sense, it’s something that we often forget. We create all sort of impurities in our relationships through unloving behavior, selfishness, “taking breaks,” manipulation, creating a cycle of building up and tearing down trust, etc., etc. Because we are attached to that person, we might decide that we want to work through those things and build a marriage out of that dirty metal. We commit that metal to be the input into a final product, and those scars will always be somewhat visible, even if we manage to make the most of them by adjusting behavior in the throughput.

Due to human nature, most of us will end up having to create great toasters with less than ideal metal, and that’s okay. It’s not the greatest option– and hopefully those of us without a ring on it can strive to enter the purest input possible when we meet the right person– but if it happens, we can still end up with a wonderful little toaster if we give it the attention it deserves (throughput). The biggest issue is if those behavioral patterns don’t change. What if the metal is severely contaminated and the throughput is neglected? The toaster would be so frustrating and dysfunctional. No thanks.

alex mac

This just felt right to insert here.

From the perspective of someone not yet married, I’ve thought a lot about this metaphor ever since my mentor explained it to me a year and a half ago in a singsongy southern drawl. I can’t control what I’ve already done that will make the metal of my future marriage less than entirely pure, but I can control each moment forward and think about what my current decisions will mean for my future toaster. Reflecting on this metaphor has allowed my current relationship to be built on habits that will make our future shinier, not more difficult. All of our decisions since meeting have been with the other person in mind, so we haven’t really added any impurities to the metal (other than what we brought in from our pasts). It’s been an easy, steady road so far, and kept about as clean as it can be thanks to both of us openly and honestly discussing what this metaphor looks like in action. Plus we’re lucky enough to lean on the amazing help of mutual friends who steer our decisions in the right direction if either of us teeter towards doing something that would potentially harm the other without realizing. Good friends and great mentors are the best!

I bring up my relationship because I’m so happy I can’t shut up to say that no matter what stage of toaster production you’re in, there’s something to be done about being in a super happy, longterm relationship. If you’re completely single like I usually am, you can think about bringing the best possible metal to the table for whoever your future spouse might be, and make decisions accordingly. If you’re doing something the person you end up with probably won’t like hearing about, think about not doing it. Perhaps you’re in a relationship like I am that you hope to be in for a good long while. In that case, you can work with that person to create great habits and not get unhealthily attached, rather spend time shaping the throughput and evaluating if it is going to create a toaster you’ll want to use forever. If it’s right, it should come together rather easily. Then there are the married people, whether last weekend or married for 30, 40, 50 years…you can always melt your toaster and work on the throughput to create a better toaster if the habits you worked on need to be adjusted. Then you can come up with an even better output/final product!

This post may be a little rambly and hard to follow, but I hope that it ultimately makes you think about your current romantic state and strive for the best! Worst case scenario, it’ll motivate you to whip up some cinnamon sugar toast. In that case, I’ll still consider this a successfully inspirational blog post.

cinnamon sugar toast

The amount of this treat that I put into my body in 2003 is both impressive and alarming.

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That Was Better In Theory…

Idealistic concepts don’t always play out as we hope. Everyone says that we should treat others how we want to be treated, kill people with kindness, and be honest with how we feel (in a respectful way), but do those thing really make situations better? For the most part, sure. If we all ran around kicking people in the shins and lying about our thoughts, life would be pretty painful and super confusing. However, as with most assertions, there are exceptions to these poster-perfect ideals.

For instance, I enjoy when people give me gigantic hugs— even strangers I barely know. This is because I’m a hugger. So, in theory, if I treated everyone how I want to be treated, I would hug anyone I’m introduced to outside of work. Maybe at work, too. Could be a fun social experiment. But the thing is, not everyone is a hugger. Many people prefer to keep their personal bubble unpopped until we can recall eachother’s names upon a second meeting or, at the very least, become Facebook friends. Along the same lines, I also like being coddled when I’m sick, when people continuously refill my wine glass without asking, and eating alone for at least one meal a day. Therefore, I seem condescending or overbearing when treating people like infants when they’re ill, look like an enabler/alcoholic when drinking with funsuckers people who only want one glass, and come across like a beyotch when I don’t invite my coworkers to lunch. I’m just trying to treat people how I want to be treated! So much for that grand idea.

Moving on to killing people with kindness. It’s definitely better than killing people with swords or poison, no question. It also beats tearing people apart with vicious verbal attacks or slowly drowning them in passive aggression. In general, I’m all about kindness. Big fan. That being said, some people mistake kindness for weakness (back me up Rihanna/Paul McCartney/Kanye). Many times, I’ve found that if I continue to be kind to someone who is actively mean or cuts me down, they only gain more fuel for their behavior. Sometimes you have to shoot them an “I will cut you” face, and they’ll all of a sudden treat you with a little more respect. I’m not saying it’s better to be feared than to be liked, but when people realize that you’re not going to sit back and take abuse, they might be a little more prone to changing their behavior. By all means—please continue to be kind to people. I highly suggest giving kindness a whirl before busting out the Victoria Grayson death stare.

victoria graysonYou don’t watch Revenge? Well, you should. Anyway, in a general sense, kindness always wins. It just doesn’t work 100% of the time in changing people’s attitudes.

Now to address my personal favorite slogan that is often better in theory: Be honest with how you feel.

Raise your hand if this has ever backfired on you.

raise your hand gif

People say that they would rather you tell them what you’re thinking in a respectful and gentle manner than let something build up, be misleading, or vent behind their backs. Maybe being honest is for the best in the long run, but I’ve learned that it’s not always the most beneficial tactic for staying on great terms with someone. Example: I don’t believe in slow fading people you have spent time getting to know in a romantic fashion, but who you don’t ultimately click with. Everyone advises “be upfront about how you feel, because slowly backing off of communication only confuses or frustrates the other person.” Therefore, I’m very frank with men that I’m not interested in. If we’ve gone out once or twice and I’m just not feeling it, I will say so— nicely, of course. In most cases, these guys get really offended or simply never respond (if via text) in a cold shoulder act of defiance. Ideally, they’d respond with “Thanks for your honesty. It was nice getting to know you!” But that has only happened two or three times in my experience. Generally, they’re not so pleased.

Outside of dating relationships, honesty can have the opposite effect of what you’re going for, as well. To protect friendships from annoyance-turned-animosity, we should tell our friends when they do something that bothers us, right? I’m not talking about telling them that the sound of their laugh makes you wish they had a mute button or asking them to stop dancing like a maniac at the club. (Is clubbing still a thing?) Expecting someone to change his or her personality on account of your friendship is probably a sign that you A.) shouldn’t be friends with them to begin with, and B.) are a future bridezilla who will require her bridesmaids to go on a diet. Get a hold of yourself. When it comes to things friends do that potentially hurt your feelings or make your life difficult, however, you should tell them honestly where you’re coming from instead of harboring resentment or gossiping behind their back, correct? This is another situation where the answer is “yes” only some of the time. I don’t think you should ever speak poorly of someone behind their back because that does absolutely no one any good. Neither does harboring resentment. Easier said than done, I know. Even so, sometimes bringing something to someone’s attention will end up creating tension between the two of you rather than ironing out problem. If someone doesn’t respond to your honesty with the reaction you hoped for, it doesn’t make them a bad person, but certainly creates an awkward divide that may or may not ever completely go away. So, as with the other idealistic concepts mentioned, I suggest treading carefully and only bearing your honest feelings if you’re prepared for a less-than-ideal reaction.

Before you get too depressed by my warnings about perfectly wonderful notions, let me pull it all together for a greater, constructive message. The reason you have to be careful when implementing these concepts is because every single person, relationship, and situation is unique. In life, we so easily expect others to be the same as we are, since the way we think and behave is first(?) or second nature. It’s no easy feat to understand someone else’s perspective or wishes. Even with positive intentions—like treating others how you wanted to be treated—you have to remember that what you want isn’t always what other people want. In killing people with kindness, you have to keep in mind that some people respond to kindness or harshness differently, perhaps because of a past experience or different upbringing. Responses to honesty may not be what you expect because people won’t always be able to fully understand where you’re coming from, because—news flash—they’re not extensions of you (and vice versa). And sometimes, it’s just plain hard to hear something negative, like a person you like is no longer interested or a friend is hurt or frustrated. I think it’s normal for some of those reactions to be a few notches short of enthusiastic.

All in all, the message here is quite positive: Acknowledging differences among us will not only help us to challenge our own views, but can alleviate some distress when well-intended implementations of poster-perfect ideals go haywire. We’ll never be able to get it completely right in terms of not ever offending, hurting, or annoying other people, nor will we ever find the smoothest way to manage how other people treat us, but if you stick with truly caring about people and remembering that we’re all different, most things should turn out just fine.

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Bachelorettes Are Everywhere (B.A.E.)

As my friends and family wish they didn’t know, I’ve dated a lot since entering young adulthood. I like to say that my approach is to “cast a wide net.” Jury’s still out on if that tactic works. Anyway, that being the case, I’m pretty much a black belt in predicting behavior of someone I’m seeing. When I said earlier this week that my new boo, Spring, was going to ghost us all because I couldn’t help but overwhelm it with my love, boy was I right. Sorry to everyone who was affected by my lack of self-control in smothering Spring with my affection.

Proof that Spring wasn’t ready for a relationship: It’s snowing on the first official day of the season. This is the weather equivalent of being stood up at the altar. I feel unprepared, disappointed, and like wearing white lace looks really desperate. Somebody please go with me on a sympathy honeymoon to a tropical destination and buy me a piña colada, stat.

All of this talk about dating/ghosting/weather(?) got me thinking. I am pretty normal– besides the fact that I have a bizarre obsession with watching killer whale attacks on YouTube, actively window shop for cheese to avoid actually consuming the calories, and am somewhat attracted to Josh Groban. Those things aside, the only reason I’m single is because the right guy hasn’t come along. Or if he has, I was too busy brushing my ha…nope, nope. Definitely would’ve noticed. If that’s the case in my life, then I know it is the case in the lives of lots of single ladies out there.

So I’ve decided to implement a new series on Generation grannY: The “Bachelorettes are Everywhere” series. Or the B.A.E. of the Week.

Urban Dictionary Definition: Bae– A Danish word for poop. Also used by people on the internet who think it means baby, sweetie etc.

I fully expected to find only the second part of that definition, but the first part was way too good to omit. Wow. Laughing really hard. Aaaaannnd we continue…

The way this will work is that each week (maybe less if I’m lazy and/or no one wants to participate), I will profile a single lady who is a catch. This is not so that guys can come girlfriend shopping on Generation grannY…though if that does happen, and if any featured bachelorettes find their soulmate that way, I am automatically granted 2 bottles of wine of my choosing and the opportunity to make a speech at the wedding (probably after drinking aforementioned wine).

…As I was saying, the purpose is not to pimp out these women. They are not easy. They are not desperate. Odds are, they will not have even wanted to be featured as the B.A.E. of the Week, but I will have coerced them with promises of alcohol, chocolate, and 10% of any money I ever make with my writing. Whatever works. Truly, the real purpose of the “Bachelorettes are Everywhere” series is to help remind any single sisters reading my blog that you are not alone. You are normal, but in a good way. You are awesome, and I’ll prove it to you by showing you all of these other awesome girls who haven’t found the right guy yet. I hope the profiles make you laugh and give you lots of good feels.

I’m going to kick off the B.A.E. series with myself, since maybe I’m a narcissist..? No, it’s just because I haven’t had anyone fill out my questionnaire yet. Plus, if I’m going to subject my friends and friends of friends to exposing weird things about themselves, I think I’m required to do it first. Not that I don’t already do that on a regular basis on this blog.

B.A.E. of the Week: Shannon O.

tess me

I’m on the left, my best friend on the right (with the purple hair). She’s the one who I paid to say the nice things about me at the end of this post.

Name: Shannon O.

Nickname(s): Shanny, Shanny the Granny, Sholiver, Shollie, Shannanigans

Age: 26

What institute of higher learning did/do you attend? Christopher Newport University, 2010

How do you make money to pay rent? Managing an office full of mostly alpha males.

What is your ultimate career goal? To make money writing– preferably enough to buy nice things.

What is something you’ve done in life thus far that you’re proud of? I’m proud of becoming a Diversity Awareness Educator and using the platform of Miss New York 2012 to talk to thousands of kids about breaking stereotypes and showing kindness to everyone, despite differences.

What do you like to do outside of work? Sing, hang out with my friends, write this blog, horseback ride.

Who was your elementary school crush? Myles Shipp

Did he like you back? For about a week, but then he moved on to someone else, if I remember correctly.

Do you believe in love at first sight? Nope.

Do you feel ready to get married if you found the right one? Yes.

What is the most embarrassing thing you’ve done in the last week? The same USPS guy delivers mail to my office every day, so I sometimes feel like we are friends. On Monday, we were getting on the elevator at the same time and I thought he was giving me a high five, so I went in for the kill, but turned out he was just trying to hold the door for me. I didn’t recover well.

What is the second most embarrassing thing you’ve done in the last week? I wanted to pick up horseback riding again since I haven’t ridden regularly for about nine years, so I found a barn near me and signed up for lessons. The lady on the phone warned me that most of the girls in the class would be teenagers, plus one very talented 9-year-old. I told her that was fine. No shame. The real issue was that when registering, they force you to create a “Kid Profile” and “Parent Profile.” So I had to sign up “Shannon Oliver” as the parent and as the child. It was pretty embarrassing/humbling, and I had to really evaluate if I’m too old for this sort of thing.

What’s one weird thing you do sometimes? I tend to put my underwear on inside out by accident and don’t realize it until the end of the day.

Do you try and catch the bouquet at weddings or usually hide from it? Hide in a big way.

Are you Anna or Elsa? Anna. Hands down.

What’s your favorite unhealthy food? Velveeta Shells & Cheese with hot dogs cut up and mixed in.

What’s your least favorite kind of workout? I’ve finally concluded that I don’t like classes. Working out is “me time.”

Go-to drink? Red wine or gin and tonic.

Jimmy Fallon or Jimmy Kimmel? Fallon.

Ryan Gosling or Chris Hemsworth? I’m good with either, but Hemsworth if I have to choose.

Favorite physical feature on yourself: I like my ears.

One reason you love being single: I really enjoy being single because it allows me to invest more in my friendships. I have a lot of super close friends, and I wouldn’t trade that for anything!

B.A.E.s of the Week are required to give me their BFF’s phone number so that I can ask the following questions:

Describe Shannon in three words: Outgoing, intelligent, approachable.

Why you think Shannon shouldn’t be single: [Shannon is] a smart, motivated, and loving individual. She’s easy to get along with and it doesn’t hurt that she’s a beaut with a bangin’ body. [I paid her to say these things.]

———-

Next week you’ll get a real B.A.E. of the Week, not me! Hurrah!

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Wanting What You Can’t Have

What is it with humans and our weird obsession with things we can’t have? Tell me that I am not allowed to eat raw moose testicles dipped in fat free bleu cheese dressing, and I’m pretty much guaranteed to be on the next flight to Yellowstone National Park with a bottle of Wish-Bone in tow. Honestly, the second something is off limits or out of reach, it becomes 150% more appealing. Maybe someone should tell me I can’t eat lettuce. That’d be good.

The principle of wanting what you can’t have applies to just about everything. I’ve experienced it in two really big ways during the last few weeks: 1) wine, 2) relationships.

To address #1, I decided not to drink any alcohol during the entire month of March since I failed miserably at No Drink January. I didn’t even try to stop drinking in January like I normally do, to be honest. Sometimes you’re just not ready to say goodbye. But by the end of February, I started sweating gin and bleeding wine, so I decided it was probably time to give my body a break. I was really excited to start my month-long cleanse, but we’re eight days in, and I’ve started eating grapes in bulk to ease the pain. There’s nothing I want more than that sweet, sweet taste of Cabernet on my lips. Wow, I sound like I have a real problem. Try not to worry. I’m good, I promise.

In all seriousness, as much as I love wine or a casual mixed drink, I don’t usually spend all day at work thinking about what kind of alcohol to put in my system come 5:00. Now that it’s off limits now, however, I find myself daydreaming about a good drink like a pregnant woman craving pickle-stuffed oreos. Side note: Pregnancy is crazy. I know like, 40 people who are currently pregnant– I’m almost afraid I’m going to catch it. What is in the water? Am I just getting old? What’s happening??

Let’s get this train back on track, re: wanting what we can’t have. In the same way I find myself fantasizing about a 12 6 oz. glass of red, I can’t seem to keep my mind off of guys who are not available– not as in ones with a ball and chain, but ones who make no effort to be with me. It’s not completely conscious or rational, so part of the reason I want them must be because I have psychological issues I can’t have them. Even if I do get them, time spent together is of higher value because they’re like bottles of Flowers Pinot Noir– a special treat I only taste once in a while since they’re far too expensive just out of reach. The men who make themselves willingly available, however, I unfortunately view as Welch’s Grape Juice. Very sweet and a good thing to keep on the back shelf, but definitely not what gets me going. [How did the day when I compare relationships to wine not come sooner? Trust me, I’m just as surprised as you are.]

Let’s explore why we’re made this way. Maybe if we figure it out, we’ll stop wasting precious brain power daydreaming about the guacamole in Mexico, our 10th grade History teacher, and what it’d feel like to walk with a thigh gap. Instead, we could focus our energy on fully appreciating the things we do have, like Chick-fil-A, opposable thumbs, and Ryan Gosling gifs.

ryan gosling gif

What’s that? You want more?

ryan gosling gif 8ryan gosling gif 6ryan gosling gif 7ryan gosling gif 2ryan gosling gif 9ryan gosling gif 10ryan gosling gif 5ryan gosling gif 3

You’re welcome.

I think the reason we want what we can’t have is because this principle sums up the entire definition of “want.” To want something implies that you don’t already have it. Things we can’t have are just spotlighted versions of things we don’t have. I don’t find myself wanting a really awesome family, because I already have it. I don’t find myself wanting blue eyes. Or the ability to sing. When I step back and think about those things, I’m really happy to have them, but gratefulness is different than desire. I find myself wanting romance, hips that don’t lie, and one million dollars. This is because I don’t already have any of those things in my life (to be clear).

I don’t think it’s bad to want things. After all, a lot of what we want is attainable if we put our minds to it. How would we ever further our careers if we didn’t want it bad enough to work hard? How would we learn discipline and dedication if we didn’t want to become good at something? How would we end up in satisfying relationships if we just settled for whoever gave us easy attention? Wanting more leads to good things.

Though that may be the case, there are two tricks to wanting more without being a miserable crybaby. 1) Differentiate between things you want that are attainable and things you want that are completely out of your control. You can’t change your height or force someone to like you, so those are probably bad things to focus on. 2) Remember that once you get something, you won’t keep wanting it, so be mentally prepared to replace desire with gratefulness- and find excitement in that replacement. If you know you’ll want to leave a relationship once the chase is gone…you’re probably not ready to grow up for a significant other. Or if you know that once you earn one million dollars, you’ll just want a million more…then wanting money is pointless, because it will never lead to contentment.

Here’s to hoping we all wake up tomorrow to find our soulmate on our doorstep, along with a ticket for a lifetime supply of Silver Oak Cab and a pre-trained teacup toy poodle puppy! If not, hopefully we can apply the two rules of not being a crybaby, while wanting enough for our lives to attack each day with enriching intention.

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You Are the Company You Keep

Voluntary conformity disturbs me because our brains are unique for a reason, but I’ve come to realize that no matter how hard people try to assert their individuality, we can’t help but morph into Power Rangers the people with whom we surround ourselves. That’s why I’ve been trying to get in touch with Emma Stone, Candice Swanepoel, and Oprah. #callme

One of my best friends growing up was my beautiful partner-in-crime named Kira. Kira is three years older than me, so I loved riding her coattails of coolness in order to be accepted by the older athletic and well-dressed crowd, which worked about 40% of the time. No shame in my game. By the end of her senior year of high school (my freshman year), we were so inseparable that one or two people actually said we looked alike. Here is a picture of Kira and me circa early-mid 2000s:

kira

I don’t know about you, but I can barely tell us apart.

The power of spending so much time with someone that your appearance and mannerisms become identical while you finish each other’s sandwiches sentences is almost alarming. (If you didn’t get the Frozen reference, stop reading this and go fix yourself.) In the last 48 hours, my coworker Meghan and I have been mistaken for twins 2,834 times. Probably because between work and play, I see her more than anyone else in my daily life. Here we are with our favorite dog named Petunia (Petunia’s face always looks like that):

meghan office

Definitely a closer match than Kira, but still. She has the youthful glow of a 22-year-old that I lost two relationships and 100 bottles of wine ago.

I use these two friendships as examples because beyond looks, Kira and Meghan are both inherently very different from me. Kira is super laid back with a natural leadership gene that she kind of wishes she didn’t possess, but people follow anyway. I want to be as chill and influential as she is, but if we’re being honest, I’m slightly socially defective and the kind of person who has to have other people present my ideas for them to be taken seriously. Then there’s Meghan, who is a free spirit/businesswoman hybrid who knows the secretly-trendy places to eat, clothes to wear, and music to listen to, but she’ll hate me for saying that because it sounds too pretentious, which she’s not. And I’m over here wearing a sweater from Target, eating Chipotle, and listening to the Pitch Perfect soundtrack, only vaguely aware of my dull choices. I think I have underdeveloped senses.

I promise I’m getting to my point. Be patient.

Despite original differences, we grow into the people around us because Homo sapiens are naturally social and impressionable creatures. It’s just the way we’re made. We have to be cognizant enough of this fact to not get swept up in groupthink or lose the ability to distinguish our preferences from those of others, but also to make the best of our chameleon ways. Put some thought into who you’d be proud to be mistaken for, because those are the folks you should probably invite to Happy Hour.

I’m pleased to say that the crew I hang out with, though scattered and not necessarily interwoven, is comprised of individuals who have steady jobs, don’t do drugs, and can hold conversations about the complexities of life. Of course we are all noticeably different to an extent (there’s usually only one Kira/Meghan in your life at a time), but ultimately, we’re cut from similar fabric. I love meeting people from different backgrounds who are drawn to varying lifestyles and interests because they challenge my world and keep me from becoming mentally stagnant, but by this point in my life, I know what kind of person I want to be and the lifestyle I like to maintain. Therefore, I put greater effort into relationships that nurture those choices.

Some may think that being actively conscious of who you spend time with is judgmental or close-minded, but I believe that only becomes the case when you treat others poorly or don’t take the time to discover possible commonalities with everyone you meet. The fabric of your soul has nothing to do with fabric on your back. When I say that I am careful to surround myself with the “right” kind of people, I just mean that I don’t want to get pulled into gossipy, shallow, argumentative, haughty, or legally rebellious crowds. I connect with people due to complimentary thought processes, not appearances, so they can wear whatever the heck they want. Besides assless chaps.

As you grow through life- and growing never stops- keep in mind that no matter how strongly you’ve defined your morals, ethics, and demeanor, others can and will influence those ideals. We will never lose the tendency to slowly, unknowingly mold into reflections of our networks, so step back and evaluate the company you keep. If you don’t like what you see, it’s probably time to wipe off the mirror, too, and make a few adjustments.

 

taylor and karlie

I leave you with BFFs Taylor Swift and Karlie Kloss as scientific evidence.

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Valentine’s Day: A Vulnerable Look at Great Love

In a culture of esteemed independence, admitting that you want to love and be loved is somewhat embarrassing. Careers, personal growth, and friendships are revered, but not romantic love. No, no. If you openly desire such a thing, you must not be self-sufficient or confident.

Phony baloney. (If that phraseology throws you off, please keep in mind that you’re reading a blog called Generation grannY…key word: Granny. Also, I’m aware that’s not how you spell bologna.)

Humankind is meant to be communal, and even more so, intimate. Sure, developing assurance within yourself, so not to rely on others for approval, is healthy. But self-assurance and heartfelt satisfaction are not necessarily one and the same. When Skyping with my older brother (and sister-in-law) the other night, he said, “Shannon, don’t ever stop hoping to love someone and to be loved. You know what you want, and I think that’s great.” What a phenomenon, to be commended as a single woman for wanting to give and receive love! So often, singles- men and women alike- are made to feel inadequate for coveting deep intimacy, as though we’re weak for not being able to provide that for ourselves. But love, both romantic and otherwise, is not something we can do alone. Nor is it something to be ashamed of. Love is interactive and instinctive.

So, in the hope of exemplifying vulnerability in a world that applauds self-preservation, I’m going to express what I desire when it comes to love. After all, it is Valentine’s Day. I could write something cheeky or sarcastic about this “Hallmark holiday,” but I truly believe our culture has encouraged independence to a point where walls are too high. In breaking down a few of those walls through barefaced honesty, I hope that anyone reading will be comforted in knowing that it’s okay and natural to crave companionship or wine instead.

Holding-Hands

Here we go.

I want love. I want the kind of love Hunter Hayes would write a song about. Where every look is a spark and every touch is a lingering imprint. I want to communicate through silly grunts and animal noises when I’m drunk, or maybe even when I’m not. I want to dance really poorly because that’s the only way I know how, but him think it’s irresistibly sexy. I want to laugh until I cry without having to apologize for the fact that I cry-laugh far too easily. I want to be more interested in holding hands under the table than picking up my fork to eat. I want my best friend to sing karaoke with him and fall almost as much in love as I am, except without wanting to jump his bones. I want eye contact to outweigh a kiss, and a kiss to outweigh third base. I want him to grab my face when my hair is in a ponytail after the gym and tell me I’m the hottest girl he’s ever seen. I want us both to be a little sad when we have our girls nights or guys nights, even if it’s something we’ve been looking forward to for weeks. I want to pretend to bite his face when I’m hungry and make him laugh when I can’t figure out what’s wrong with my car. I want to fall asleep under the stars and have a secret “I love you” hand squeeze when we’re too tired to say it out loud.

I want to have all of the excitement, paired with practical compatibility. When the spark and lingering imprints become less electrifying, I want to go hiking or get swept away in a brilliant musical score. I want to pray together and scratch his arm and listen to him tell me about his crazy boss at work. I want to keep his scotch glass full and go into the other room when I sense he needs to be alone. And then I want him to come find me a few hours later. I want to drink wine on the porch and talk about how we can better fulfill our lives’ purposes. I want to make him a delicious dinner that he doesn’t expect and book him a random professional massage just because I know it’d feel good. I want him to ask me every now and then about my mom, to learn more about who she was and how I dealt/deal with her death. I want him to hold my hand in the car and know my Starbucks order. I want to play cards with our friends and be regulars at at least one bar. I want to be partners in life, and in cornhole. I want us to be the best of friends, so that our deep affection and appreciation matches- if not exceeds- the level of attraction.

Ultimately, I want it all. To be madly in love, and to love for the sake of honoring commitment. To feel shaken to the core, but also to just get along and help one another manage life. That about sums it up.

Spelling out and admitting all of these desires is humbling, and certainly nerve-wracking, but like I said earlier- I hope with my small amount of vulnerability comes a great amount of relief for those of you who might feel alone in your hope for “great love” (the kind in How to Lose a Date with Tad Hamilton). And for those of you who have already found it, I hope you’re reminded of what you have! Happy Valentine’s Day, everybody!

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Girl’s Girl or Guy’s Girl?

You are standing in front of two doors.

Behind Door #1 is a room full of men.

guys

Behind Door #2 is a room full of women.

girlsYou don’t know any of these people. They are roughly your age, but from all different backgrounds. You have to spend one hour with them over drinks. Which door do you choose?

Hands down, dingdingding we have a winner- it’s a landslide, folks- I’m choosing Door #2.

I don’t understand men and I never will. Are they annoyed or just cocky? Are they calculating sports stats in their heads or actually listening to me? Do they want to have stimulating conversation or just look at my boobs? Both? Is my humor lost on them because they don’t understand that 98% of what I’m saying is sarcastic and/or exaggerated for effect? [Oliver Rule #1: If it’s not worth exaggerating, it’s not worth telling.]

Put me in a room full of girls and I am good to go. I don’t care how stuck-up, strange, or basic typical these señoritas may be, I know I can win them over by finding some sort of common ground and running with it. Watch and learn:

  • You went to private school and shampoo twice and only wear heels in the office? Ohmygosh tell me about it, but at least we have wine and Target am I right??
  • You are an oversharer with boyfriend issues? Girl, men are from Mars. Spill.
  • You are intellectual and deep? How can the magnitude of each person’s personal universe exist so congruently with each person’s insignificance in the greater universe?

Easy peasy.

Some of my girlfriends, albeit wonderful, are the exact opposite. They tell me that they feel far more comfortable surrounded by “simple” men than “complex” women. To each her own.

So, besides gravitating towards Door #1 or Door #2, what are the tell-tale differentiators between a girl’s girl and a guy’s girl? Glad you asked, because I created this completely arbitrary scientific side-by-side comparison cheat sheet:

*Note: This cheat sheet may prove difficult for the color blind. Sorry for the unintentional discrimination.

GIRL’S GIRL

  1. I can’t decide which girlfriends will be bridesmaids in my future wedding because it feels like I can only choose 2 or 16. Nothing in between.
  2. Fur vests are cute and trendy.
  3. I will never be in a relationship because I care too much.
  4. My dad is an anomaly of the male species.
  5. Flirting is fun, but can get tiring.
  6. I like to chat with my friends at parties.
  7. I love hugging.
  8. Guys make me nervous because I don’t really know what they’re thinking.
  9. I would rather overanalyze than misinterpret.
  10. Involving people in my decisions will help me to avoid mistakes.
  11. Taylor Swift songs are catchy and relatable.
  12. Everything I read on Generation grannY speaks to me.

GUY’S GIRL

  1. I have spent 0% of my time thinking about my future wedding.
  2. Fur vests seem like something only glamorous ice princesses or hard core hunters should wear.
  3. I will never be in a relationship because I don’t care enough.
  4. My dad is just a dude. A great dude, but a dude.
  5. Flirting and talking are the exact same thing.
  6. I can’t commit to any one conversation at a party for longer than five minutes.
  7. Happy to hug when hugged.
  8. Girls make me nervous because I know exactly what they’re thinking.
  9. I would rather misinterpret than overanalyze.
  10. If I make the wrong decision, I’ll try something else next time.
  11. Taylor Swift songs are catchy.
  12. Most of Generation grannY makes no sense but I find it amusing anyway.

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You’re My Bad Habit

I’m not sure if any of you noticed, but this was the summer of crop tops in Shannyland. For those of you who pushed “Unfollow Shannon” are not friends with me on Facebook or don’t follow my Instagram, let me recap:

CROPS

I’m not embarrassed. I like what I like. Also, are you judging me for repeating tops? Don’t.

You know how people say that we are creatures of habit? I’d like to think that in choosing each weekend summer outfit, I’m just a walking representative of this concept- a concept which takes a huge, yet relatively unacknowledged, role in all of our lives. Consider me a catalyst for thought, one crop top at a time.

Why do we always put our right shoe on first? Why do we park in the same unassigned parking spot every morning? Why do we dry ourselves off after every shower in the exact same way? It’s like a memorized towel dance at this point. I flip it and ruffle it and twist it in strict choreography without even thinking. It’s honestly kind of impressive. Similar to this:

[Watch it! Make the time. It’s worth it.]

The only reason I can come up with for why we are creatures of habit is because if we had to put significant thought into every little detail of our lives, we’d be exhausted. I’m exhausted just deciding what filter to use on Instagram, which bottle of wine to buy, and if I want my soy chai iced or hot. [For those of you who are new to sarcasm, ease up. I’m not that much of a basic betch…though it’s true that September and October are tricky months when it comes to my Starbucks order.] Saving your brain power for necessary decision-making is acceptable, but some habits are worth the effort of breaking- and I don’t just mean picking your nose (ew, you’re gross).

The way we interact with other people is greatly out of habit. Our relational dynamics change from person to person, which is why we turn to some friends when we want a night of laughter, others when we need a good sounding board, and still others when we want to delve into deep conversation. Knowing what to expect from certain personalities and chemistries is only normal, but becomes dangerous when relationships that were once positive dive into a negative spiral.

Most of the time, unhealthy relationships are saved for family and significant others because they are the people to whom we are most attached. And attachment gets really sticky (think- something sticks to something else…aka attachment). We often become overly sensitive to the behaviors of our family and loved ones, resulting in an extreme lack of patience. Perhaps every time your mother calls, you feel like she’s nagging you to do something, so before you even answer the phone, you get in a snappy mood. Even if she’s just calling to remind you that you’re having dinner on Sunday, you bark back with “Ugh, Mom. I know! I’m not irresponsible like you clearly think I am.” Whoa, there, buddy. She just wanted to remind you because she knows you’re busy, plus she’s looking forward to it. Your habit, however, is to react defensively no matter what comes out of her mouth. Something similar might be the case with a significant other. You get so accustomed to constantly bickering that you don’t remember what that person is like outside of the negative bubble where your relationship currently resides. It’s hard to even recall what it was like when you were flirtatious or fun because the habit of having no patience is so ingrained.

So how do we escape these bad habits with people that we love? Because of how the human brain works, we can only replace old habits with new habits. Heard that before? It doesn’t just apply to eating patterns. (Sorry, but I’m never going to replace french fries with a salad. I’m just not.) In relationships that give us grief, we can’t absentmindedly expect things will just magically change without an intentional plan. A new route. New habits. Mentally prepare yourself for the next time your mother calls. Decide that no matter her tone or topic, you are going to make her feel completely loved. Next time your boyfriend acts uninterested in your day, go make a batch of cookies and silently give him one with a smile on your face. Then call up your girlfriend and talk about something going on in her life instead of telling him how insensitive he is. Do these things every single time you want to react negatively until it becomes a habit. I’m not saying to brush issues under the rug, but perhaps 21 days of forming a new habit on your end will surprise the other person and, in turn, their habits will start to change, as well.

Maybe I know nothing (like Jon Snow…GOT fans, I know you love me right now), but I’ll let you know how well this concept works in 21 days. Or maybe I’ll forget and write another Never/Always series 21 days from now, but I still think changing our own habitual negative reactions to other people can only lead to good things.

You may thank my wardrobe full of crop tops for this insight, along with @ashli_p (Insta) for being the reason I went on a crop top shopping spree in June. Visit her blog. It’ll make you giggle a lot and dress better. http://ashliwithaneye.com/2014/06/17/summer-2014-style-crop-top/

By the way, I wrote a post on a similar topic back when my blog was Shannon’s NYC…those die hard readers may remember. (Hi, Dad and Claire Buffie- I think that’s just you guys) Here it is: Expectations

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Nobody Falls In Love with Pretty

I can’t keep up with what’s beautiful anymore. Between the campaigns for “real beauty” and the countless beauty product advertisements, I’m getting more mixed signals than L.C. did from Stephen on Laguna Beach (throwing it back in honor of their upcoming ten year reunion). Am I supposed to be more curvy? More toned? Or should I be a little softer since women are made to carry babies? Should I grow my hair long or be that edgy girl with a pixie? Are freckles cute or am I expected to cover them with foundation? And somebody explain to me if a juicy butt is a good thing or a bad thing, because Baby Got Back and All About that Bass have me feeling really confident until I walk into a boutique and they seem to have forgotten 25% of the material needed to complete a pair of shorts. And then there are jeans. Somebody besides Apple Bottom please for the love of all things good and holy learn to design a pair of jeans that a relatively thin white girl like myself can wear if she still has a booty. I face the struggle of back gap* constantly.

*back gap: when your jeans fit over your butt, but since your waist is small, the pants leave a large gap at your lower back where the jeans don’t curve back in with your bod

I got a little carried away in that opening paragraph, but I’m not here to write about how we’re all beautiful in our own, natural, unique way. You’ve already read that article about 6,000 times- and it’s true. But there’s another side to things. I think the reason that I am getting so many mixed signals about beauty is because people don’t want to face something plain and simple: some people are more aesthetically pleasing to the eye than others. Just ask little babies who they want to look at for a longer period of time and they’ll tell you the same thing (calm down, I’m not actually suggesting that babies speak). They haven’t been influenced by culture or stereotypes, but according to researchers, babies fixate on pretty faces over- how do I put this lightly- “less pretty” faces. baby stareI don’t know exactly how far apart your eyes need to be or the chin to forehead ratio necessary to be considered beautiful, but we all know pretty when we see it. Sure, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but if you don’t think Halle Berry is an attractive human, then I’ll never be able to trust a word you say.

If you’re upset that I just said that some people are prettier than others, please take ten deep breaths. It’s okay. I urge you to continue reading.

If someone falls under the pretty category, that’s neither here nor there. I mean really- who cares? Yes, this is coming from someone who took part in beauty pageants. I have a lot of really pretty friends thanks to the Miss America Organization, but I am not friends with them because they’ve perfected how to apply lip liner without looking like Bozo the Clown or because they’re featured in WEN hair commercials. Those things are neat and do, in fact, make me fixate on them like a baby when we’re sitting across from each other at a bar, but it’s not why we’re friends. Both in and outside the Miss America Organization, my best and favorite friends are those who make me laugh really hard, listen to me cry, open up about their lives, engage in deep and philosophical conversation, and who stick around when things get ugly. We’re talkin’ a bottle of wine each, pizza sauce on your face, and greasy hair ugly.

popcorn gif

I think we can all agree that our closest friendships have exactly 0% to do with bone structure. Therefore, why in the world do we worry about that when trying to attract a mate? Of course it’s important to shower and look like you give two flips about life, but nobody falls in love with pretty.

Recently, I met a good-looking male who reminded me of this lesson. I won’t say how recently because if this spreads on Facebook, I don’t have time for an unpleasant phone call…so let’s say that “recently” means within the last year. He was your standard looker. Tall, good hair, straight teeth, a nose I can’t remember, and looked like he could run at least a mile without needing medical attention. Solid. The first night we met, I did not need to know if he could carry a conversation because the bar music was so loud that I was happy just bopping along, flashing him the occasional smile, and entertaining myself by developing intricate plans in my head as to how I could get the bartender to give me my next drink for free. The next time we hung out, I was thrilled to find out that he had a cool job, owned a house, and liked dogs, but by the end of the night felt like Fat Amy talking to Bumper Allen in Pitch Perfect. You know, that scene when Bumper says to her, “Soooo, I’m getting the feeling that we should kiss. Are you also getting that feeling?” to which Fat Amy replies, “Sometimes I get the feeling that I can do crystal meth, but then I think, mmm better not.” I’ve watched Pitch Perfect twice this week. I need you to get on my level. Anyways, despite finding him about as interesting as Kristen Stewart, I figured this guy was worth another chance. I refused to believe someone so well-educated, handsome, and seemingly social could be as lame as I’d perceived. I must’ve caught him on an off night. During round two, somewhere between him openly checking out other girls right in front of me, dissing gay people (ahem, that means exactly a quarter of my entire friend group), and then trying to attack my face with his tongue as I swerved left (I think he pretty much licked my right temple), I decided that I should never, ever question my instincts again.

You see, he was pretty, but that made me about as interested as a dog is in a grape. It rolls off the counter and the dog instinctually goes over to it, but after one sniff, says “mmm, better not.” As I look at the wedding and engagement photos flooding my social media accounts, I’ve noticed that there is no correlation between good looks and marriage. I see “less pretty” people marry other “less pretty” people, “less pretty” people marry “pretty” people, and “pretty” people marry “pretty” people. I’m sure all of these couples are attracted to each other on some physical level- at least I would hope so, but I guarantee that most of them became more attracted to one another as they grew emotionally, spiritually, and mentally closer. Physical attraction is crucial (I can’t stand when people say it’s not), however it doesn’t simply mean that you think someone is the second coming of Chris Pine or Heidi Klum upon first glance. I wouldn’t be mad at ALL if I end up with a Chris Pine clone, but the point is that in a culture that talks so much about beauty, we need to remember that it holds no importance when it comes to finding love. Love runs a lot deeper than a perfectly executed cat eye, toned and tanned legs, or a flawless fitted tee/jean combo. It’s an inexplicable connection, dedication over time, and a shared desire to eat a ton of sushi always lift up the other person. So instead of spending so much energy improving and talking about looks, perhaps we should channel that energy into bettering ourselves so that when Mr./Miss Right does come around, we’re the kind of person they’ve been hoping for, too. One of my favorite pieces of advice is Be the person who the person you’re looking for is looking for. Working on yourself is different than changing yourself, and I highly recommend it! Because, let me repeat, nobody falls in love with pretty.

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10 Reasons Why Nashville is the Ultimate Bachelorette Destination

If you’re a generally friendly person, you’ll likely attend your fair share of bachelorette parties over the years. I suggest opening a separate bank account right now so that you don’t miss out in the future, because friends get engaged in bulk. Trust me. Some brides might want you to travel to another country to celebrate their upcoming nuptials (yeah okay- have fun while I pay rent), while some may hold the shindig right in your backyard, but I think we can all agree that it isn’t about where you are, rather who you’re with.

Being somewhere really fun doesn’t hurt though…

Maybe it was the live music on every corner, the endless billboards of my girl crush Carrie Underwood, or simply the sweet smell of summertime (holy alliteration), but Nashville, TN just catipulted to #1 on my list of favorite bachelorette party locations. Supported with personal photo evidence from this past weekend, here are a few reasons why you may want to convince your engaged friends to hold their final fling in this crazy town full of neon dreams and a whole lot of honky tonk badonkadonk:

1. You’ll probably end up hanging out with a guy who looks like this and also casually speaks four languages.

nashville11

Do yourself a favor and Google Ron Worrell. Do yourself another favor and join the 21st century by watching The Bachelorette.

2. And he’ll probably have a friend who looks exactly like Ryan Gosling.

nashville12

Fear not, their outfits were costumes- not serious wardrobe choices.

3. And the Ryan Gosling look alike might fall in love with one of the girls in your party, then show up at the airport with flowers to find her the next morning.

nashville13

You guys. This is real. It happened.

nashville17

4. You’ll also probably run into these gems.

nashville2

5. Odds are you’ll see a child prodigy, because parents in Nashville let their talented 10-year-olds sing way past their bedtimes for bars packed with enthusiastic drunks. #dreambig

This is the cutie we got to see tear down the house- Marisa McKaye. You should probably YouTube her.

This is the cutie we got to see tear down the house- Marisa McKaye. You should probably YouTube her.

6. You’ll likely become close friends and confidants with your Lyft driver for the weekend, who will send you emojis throughout the evenings to make sure you’re safe and sound.

nashvill1

If anyone ends up with Lou, give him a kiss square on the forehead for me.

7. You can get beer, candy, and a palm reading all on one block.

nashville16

8. You can probably find a group of guys desperate enough to talk to your group that you can play mind games, like convincing them that your entire group shares the same first name.

nashville20

No joke, we spent 20 minutes convincing these suckers that we were all named Shannon. Two of us were named Shannon, so our IDs sealed the deal- and they believed us the rest of the night. So good.

9. If you want to do something wholesome during the day to prove that bachelorette parties aren’t 100% debaucherous, you can visit the Country Music Hall of Fame, the Ryman Auditorium, or even the Nashville Zoo.   

nashville5

Doesn’t get much more family friendly than this, folks.

10. Virtually every person in Nashville is also at a Bachelor/Bachelorette party, so there are many friends to be made.

nashville18

At dinner alone, we ran into six bachelorette parties. This is where you can find them in our picture: 1. Taking our picture, 2. In the background, 3-5. Inside the restaurant somewhere, 6. Waiting to come down the stairs

Yeah, I’m ready to go back.

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