Thought Catalog

Thought Catalog


12 Travel Tests Your Relationship Should Be Able To Pass If It’s Going To Last

Posted: 15 Sep 2015 12:43 PM PDT

filmsbychase
filmsbychase

1. Budget

Does one of you want to eat extravagant meals every night, while the other wants to be more frugal? Are you both okay with figuring out public transportation, and walking, or does one of you prefer to cab it?

2. Planning

In many successful relationships, though not all of them certainly, there's a clear "planner" and "one who doesn't give a shit and will let the other person plan, without being too lazy." It's an ideal scenario because one person can take charge, while the other supports. If you are two planners, or neither of you wants anything to do with keeping an agenda, then you might run into a few issues.

3. How busy you want to be

Are you on ~vacation~ or are you there to see the sights? Some people's ideal vacation is lying immobile on the beach, while others prefer jam-packed days, and need to see every attraction the city has to offer. Generally, if you're traveling together as a couple, you either need to agree from the get-go on what you want your vacation to look like, or be willing to compromise on how you fill your days.

4. Transportation

If one of you is a nervous flier, it helps if the other isn't having a panic attack right beside you at the first sign of turbulence. Alternately, if you're taking a road trip, deciding beforehand how much each person's going to drive is a good idea. It sounds silly, but assuming someone is willing to drive 16 hours because they love you might be overly optimistic.

5. Tidiness factor

Does the hotel room/hostel/grandparents' guest room need to be kept clean, or is it chill for you to throw your dirty laundry anywhere? All's fun and games until it's time to pack and one person is blaming the other for their lost charger. Honestly… just label your chargers, and it'll save everyone some heartache.

6. Where family fits into the travel plans

If you're going to see family, will that dominate the trip, or will you be branching off to do your own thing? There's no right answer, but when you're visiting a partner's family, it's good to know what you're walking into, and making sure you're both on the same page before you arrive will save you an argument.

7. Packing

Don't be the person in the relationship who assumes the other person will pack for them, unless that's been agreed on prior, and the packer gets taken out to dinner for their trouble.

8. Diet

When you're on vacation, is your diet on vacation too? Some people get surprisingly crabby if they toss healthy eating out the window (most unfortunately, eating carbs on carbs on carbs can do that to you). However, if you have regimented dietary restrictions, that can pose issues as well— how much are you willing to let those go? (Shout out to the people who have real gluten allergies, or are vegetarian etc., this doesn't apply to you, keep doing you.)

9. Taste in activities

Compromising on what you do, or how exactly you want to see a city, can get messy. Picking a destination is the simplest part. Once you're there, what do you want to see? That's the bigger question. If one of you is a museum buff, and the other wants to spend their days outside, you can start to resent the other's taste, or feel like they're holding you back.

10. Comfort Level

I don't think it's bad thing to admit that some people are less comfortable in certain situations, especially surrounding different cultures and meeting new people. For example, I'm not great at chatting with strangers at a hostel. I'm not unfriendly, but I am not the traveler who is outgoing and making new friends. However, if I were to travel with a partner who needed to shake as many hands as a candidate on a campaign trail, there might be a problem. But, at the same time, I wouldn't want to travel with someone who can be as hesitant as I am, because then we'd risk coming off as standoffish.

11. Navigating

To all the people who are dating someone who thinks they're good with directions, but in fact can't tell their right from their left, I'm sorry. And good luck.

12. Food

If you're in a foreign country, how adventurous do you want to get? As someone who 100% wants to get to know a culture through their cuisine, there's no greater buzzkill than a partner who wants to eat exclusively chicken nuggets and french fries. TC mark

I Realized If I Concentrate Hard Enough On An Analog Clock, I Can Slow Time Down

Posted: 14 Sep 2015 11:56 AM PDT

Flickr / Petras Gagilas
Flickr / Petras Gagilas

I first noticed it in class.

Anatomy and physiology was dragging on when I glanced at the analog clock. It took unusually long for the second hand to tick forward. I wondered why it had happened. It stuck with me until I had a chance to look it up and see if anyone else had experienced what I had. It's something called chronostasis, or “Stopped Clock Illusion.” This was a couple of weeks ago.

There’s something else called the Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon — notice something and you’ll be more inclined to notice it in the future. I want to chalk it up to this theory, but I was becoming fascinated with the mind and its ability to warp perception so easily. I kept glancing at the clocks in my everyday life and the illusion was happening more frequently. Some of you might have experienced this before and are probably wondering what the big deal is. I don’t blame you. It’s a cool little trick that happens every so often and it shouldn’t be that big of a deal. The thing is, it became much more intense for me and…much more unsettling.

After the first couple of times of trying to recreate it, I noticed something strange. It seemed as though with every repeated instance, the second hand of the clock took a fraction longer to move. I would be sitting in class and I would test it out. The monotonous voice of my professor drowned itself out as I stared at the surface of the clock, the second hand taking impossibly long to lapse over to the next moment in time. It got to the point where it felt like minutes had gone by, the second hand seemingly frozen in time. The fluidity of my surroundings slowing to the viscosity of molasses. Speech becoming indiscernible as decibels lowered, voices slowed. I thought I was going insane.

It upset me so much I avoided looking at analog clocks for a while. I know it seems silly, but I thought I would get stuck in time. It felt like half an hour had passed the last time the illusion, if I can even call it an illusion, happened. During that time, an intense feeling of dread slowly built itself up in the pit of my stomach. It wasn't worth it to keep toying with whatever was happening. I didn't know how tough avoiding analog clocks was until I was forced to. They're quite literally everywhere. On the dash of older cars, on buildings, in buildings. They're in so many places that it was bound to happen and it did.

I was walking through campus and I had to cut through the cafeteria to my next class. I forgot that the cafeteria housed a massive analog clock, facing the rotating doors that I had just passed through.

The student body grinded to a halt. I’d never experienced this while moving, but this time I did. I couldn't do anything but stare straight ahead. Every function of my body stopped, aside from my consciousness. Not feeling the familiar thump of my heartbeat only added to the growing sense of dread that was slowly filling the vessel that housed my thoughts. Nothing moved and it felt as though 15 minutes had passed. I was slowly getting tunnel vision when something caught my attention.

In my peripheral vision, I could make out a couple small shadows growing in size. They were sparsely spread throughout the mass of students in front of me. As they grew in size, so did the dread in the pit of my stomach. Long, slender appendages were being formed as they took the shape of what I can only describe as slender men. They noticed me noticing them and that's when a tinnitus-like sound erupted in my head. The high pitched whine became louder, eventually causing a splitting headache. The figures moved forward as if a strobe light was hitting them slowly. They moved forward sporadically as if I was blinking. If only I could close my eyes.

I fell forward onto the floor stunned. It took me a moment to gather myself as the other students looked on, wondering why I had fallen seemingly out of nowhere. Relief washed over me and I ran out of the cafeteria, staring at the ground.

This was a couple days ago and I'm scared to leave my room. TC mark

22 Weird And Disturbing Facts About Sex Dolls

Posted: 15 Sep 2015 09:24 AM PDT

(Wikimedia Commons)
(Wikimedia Commons)

1. Yes, men have sex with them. That’s why they’re called “sex dolls.”

Even the most basic, cheap-ass, hideous-looking, Band-Aid-colored blowup doll that you give as a gag gift at some douchebag’s bachelor party has a hole somewhere designed for some desperate male to stick his prong and blow his goo. It ain’t pretty, but it’s true. This isn’t rocket science; it’s socket science.

2. But for some men, it’s about much more than sex.

A small subset of men who own sex dolls are said to develop deep emotional attachments to them—a fact that many in society find even more distasteful than the fact that they fuck them.

3. Sex dolls are almost exclusively a guy thing.

The RealDoll company claims that male sex dolls account for a mere 10% of sales, and even those are often sold to gay males. According to human sexuality expert Cynthia Ann Moya:

In the content analysis I did of magazines and books, I don't think any of [the examples] involved women….This is not to say that it never happened. But the mythologies that people tell each other about these sex dolls all involved men.

4. Not all sex dolls are created equal.

Just like human beings, sex dolls are truly diverse. Some are nothing more than glorified beach balls made of cheap vinyl that will pop and deflate the minute they’re penetrated. Others are fashioned of silicone and feature metallic skeletons that enable the earnest doll-fucker to position their joints. Some even have internal heating systems that make them feel a little bit less dead to the touch. And the manufacturers of the high-end “RealDolls”—which currently can cost up to $10,000 per doll—are currently working on “robotic sex dolls that talk back, flirt and interact with the customer.”

5. Sex dolls will never nag you.

Granted, sex dolls are not as warm as real women. But according to some men, they aren’t nearly as cold, either.

Steve Shubin, inventor of the Fleshlight, submitted a patent in 1995 to create a “female functioning mannequin” whose “cavity” would be lubricated with “oily elastomer.” According to Dr. Marquard Smith’s book The Erotic Doll, Smith designed his mannequin on the pretense that

…women are cruel, venal, superficial, that they humiliate and break the hearts of men and that dolls on the contrary are reliable, compliant, companionable, and loving.

As sex-doll manufacturers Dolloza explain it:

Our dolls don't judge you and you can do whatever you want and whenever you want with no complaining, criticism, or any pillow talk!

6. There are Japanese brothels that feature sex dolls rather than living, breathing, human prostitutes.

Unlike these here United States, where lonely men enjoy meat-on-plastic relations with sex dolls in the comfort and privacy of their mothers’ basements, the Japanese boast full-on love-doll brothels where men pay top yen to carnally consort with sex dolls in virtual-reality whorehouses. Japan also briefly featured a TV show with a silicone sex doll as its main character. And one crafty Japanese inventor has produced a sex doll that also doubles as a drinking fountain:

7. A Michigan man who calls himself “Davecat” lives with three sex dolls: his “wife” and two “mistresses.”

A Michigan man who calls himself "Davecat"—husband to one sex doll and lover of two others. Flickr /// Joe Whited
A Michigan man who calls himself “Davecat”—husband to one sex doll and lover of two others. Flickr /// Joe Whited

A nattily attired black male from Michigan who goes by the handle “Davecat” is a proud owner of three sex dolls. Although the United States Supreme Court still does not recognize marriage between human beings and inanimate objects, Dave insists that he is married to the first sex doll he purchased, which he has named “Sidore Kuroneko.” Davecat also houses two other sex dolls that he has dubbed “Muriel” and “Elena,” but these are not his wives—they’re only “intimate friends.” According to Davecat:

Dolls don’t possess any of the unpleasant qualities that organic, flesh and blood humans have. A synthetic will never lie to you, cheat on you, criticize you, or be otherwise disagreeable.

8. One British couple owns over 240 sex dolls but claims they don’t have sex with any of them.

“Bob” and “Lizzie” are thought to own the world’s largest collection of full-size sex dolls—240 and counting. According to Bob, “I’ve never made love or had sex with the doll at all. That’s not what I do.” Instead, they eat dinner, have afternoon tea, and watch TV with them. Thanks for clarifying, “Bob,” but that’s even weirder than having sex with them.

9. Is your dog humping your leg? There’s a sex doll for that.

This creepy, faceless, duck-like contraption is designed to prevent your randy male pooch from humping your leg.

10. Would you like to hump a dog? There’s a sex doll for that, too.

On the low end of the sex-doll spectrum—both price-wise and taste-wise—the avid humper of inanimate objects can find blow-up dolls made to resemble animals rather than humans. If you’re so inclined, you can also snag yourself “overweight, transgender, elderly and alien dolls.”

11. Eastern Europeans love using sex dolls in swimming competitions…

During “National Men’s Day” in Lithuania, one swimming race involves men using sex dolls as rafts. And until 2013—when the event was canceled due to “health and safety” concerns—Russia’s “Bubble Baba Challenge” also featured men rocketing down the river afloat on inflatable sex dolls.

12. …even though Australian authorities insist that sex dolls are “not recognized flotation devices.”

In 2011 after an Aussie couple escaped drowning by using inflatable sex toys as life rafts during a flood, authorities sternly warned the public that sex dolls are “not recognized flotation devices.”

(Wikimedia Commons)
(Wikimedia Commons)

13. Heartbroken men have been known to design sex dolls that resemble their lost lovers.

After being dumped by his lover in 1916, Austro-Hungarian artist Oskar Kokoschka wrote that he’d “lost all desire to go through the ordeal of love again.” Instead, he provided a dressmaker with insanely detailed instructions for building a life-sized simulacrum of the woman who kicked him to the curb. He reportedly destroyed the doll in a fit of rage during a party.

According to the owner of a sex shop in Italy, in 2010 a 50-year-old man was “in tears” as he showed dozens of photographs of a presumably dead blonde woman whom he commissioned shop owners to recreate as a sex doll.

14. The grand incredible Nazi sex-doll hoax.

For years false rumors have spread than Adolf Hitler, alarmed at the prospect of his soldiers contracting syphilis from French prostitutes, green-lit a project to supply Nazi grunts with inflatable sex dolls they could carry in their backpacks. It was reputedly called the “Borghild Project,” but researchers concluded in the early 2000s that, due to a lack of evidence, the whole shebang had been a hoax.

15. America’s Barbie doll is said to be based on an “erotic” German doll named Bild Lilli.

"Bild Lilli" dolls—"erotic" German figurines that are said to be the inspiration for the Barbie doll. (Wikimedia Commons)
“Bild Lilli” dolls—”erotic” German figurines that are said to be the inspiration for the Barbie doll. (Wikimedia Commons)

“Bild Lilli” was a bawdy, foul-mouthed female German cartoon character in the early 1950s that one writer described as a “pornographic caricature.” Due to the cartoon’s popularity, a line of “Bild Lilli” dolls was manufactured in two sizes—7.5 inches and 11.5 inches. They were marketed to adult males, although their size ensured that they couldn’t be penetrated and could only potentially do the penetrating. Bild Lilli is fingered, pun intended, as the direct inspiration for America’s Barbie doll.

16. Better a Dutch wife than a Dutch oven.

A very early version of the modern sex doll was a glorified penile hand puppet made of hand-sewn leather by European sailors of the 17th century. The French referred to these disgusting little hot pockets as dames de voyage (travel ladies). Dutch sailors traded so much with the Japanese back then, the Japanese began referring to these little masturbatory aids as “Dutch wives.” Even in modern times, many Japanese people still refer to high-tech silicone love dolls as “Dutch wives.”

17. Sex dolls are not only good for sex and companionship—they can also get you into the carpool lane.

As if it wasn’t bad enough to shtup them and fall in love with them, many socially irresponsible scofflaws have been known to strap down sex dolls in the passenger’s seat of their vehicles in order to unfairly cheat society by zooming into the carpool lane under the pretense that the sex doll is a second passenger.

18. If you don’t want to fuck it anymore, you can wear it as a raincoat.

Dutch artist Sander Reijgers has spent an almost unhealthy amount of time transforming 50 blowup dolls that a “sponsor” gave him into rain gear with waterproof hoodies. According to Reijgers:

These dolls are so ugly and vulgar that turning them into something beautiful has become a challenge for me. The doll is a means to convey something else…it's near-incomprehensible that people could have sex with something as ugly and lifeless as a blow-up doll….I remove the sexual function of the dolls by turning them into a jacket or a bag.

19. It’s illegal to fondle blowup dolls in public, so don’t do it.

Fifty-one-year-old George Bartusek of Cape Coral, FL found this out the “hard” way, pun intended—in 2009, he was arrested in the parking lot of a Publix supermarket after he was spotted kissing and “very inappropriately” touching a pair of blowup dolls.

20. The more realistic these sex dolls get, the creepier they will be.

In 1970, Japanese robotics engineer Masahiro Mori coined the term “uncanny valley” to describe the observed phenomenon that the more lifelike robots appear, the more disturbing people find them to be. People can usually accept robots if they still look clearly like robots; but if they look almost completely human—but not quite—we are disgusted by them. Thus, the more that sex dolls begin to resemble living human women, the harder the “iDollators” may find it to become…hard.

21. Here are the proud cities and countries where people love sex dolls the most.

A 2008 study based on Internet searches for sex dolls revealed that the Philippines comes out on top, with Australia and the USA nipping at its heels. The Aussie cities of Sydney and Melbourne love sex dolls the most, followed by LA and Chicago.

22. What’s that you say—you’d like to see some of these sex dolls for yourself? I’m glad you asked!

If you’re of legal age and your flesh is willing, feast your weary, horny eyes upon Real Dolls, Boy Toy Dolls, Anatomical Doll, Dolloza, AIDoll, DSDoll, and 4WoodsUSA. But be warned—you will never be able to un-see what you’re about to see. TC mark


Read Jim Goad's ebook about America's least-appreciated state.

The Top Relationship Dealbreaker For Each Myers-Briggs Personality Type

Posted: 15 Sep 2015 06:33 AM PDT

1606pat
1606pat

ENFP: Having limits placed on their freedom.

ENFPs have big visions of what they want to experience in life – and they aren't interested in discarding those visions for anyone else. Though they're happy to accommodate and incorporate a partner into their lives, the ENFP has no interest in a relationship that is going to hold them back – they need an open-minded partner who is happy to explore and adventure their way through life together.

INFP: Being close-minded.

When Winona Ryder said, "I think too much. I think ahead. I think behind. I think sideways. I think it all. If it exists, I've fucking thought of it," She may as well have been describing the INFP personality. This type is obsessively open-minded and there's nothing more infuriating to them than a person who refuses to consider alternate points of view. INFPs need a deep, compelling partner who can keep up with their ever-shifting kaleidoscope of thoughts and emotions.

INFJ: Feeling unable to fully trust their partner.

INFJs are long-term oriented individuals who invest their emotions carefully. They aren't looking for a partner who might bail or run out on them at a moment's notice – they need someone they can trust to stick around for the long haul. When entering a new relationship, INFJs are consistently evaluating whether or not their partner is someone they can safely invest their love in long-term – and if they get the sense that they aren't, they won't waste any more time on the relationship.

ENFJ: Feeling unneeded.

ENFJs live to give to others. This generous type serves a well of wisdom and support for those around them and in a relationship they thrive on feeling needed. If the ENFJ's partner refuses to open up and share their struggles with the ENFJ, the ENFJ may feel as though they have no purpose within the partnership. And that perceived lack of purpose will be romantically unsatisfying to the ENFJ, who will likely elect to leave the relationship.

INTJ: Dishonesty.

INTJs seek the truth at all costs – and their relationships are no exception to this rule. INTJs loathe being duped, lied to or kept in the dark. They want to make all decisions about their relationships from an informed perspective – and if they feel as though they're lacking that perspective, they'll be quick to leave any partner who won't be upfront and honest with them.

ENTJ: Disloyalty.

ENTJs show their love through acts of diligence and loyalty – and they expect the same back from their partners. To an ENTJ, love is a verb, not a feeling. The moment they suspect that a partner may be willing to betray or act against them, they will not hesitate to shut them out. Relationships are a matter of risk management to the ENTJ and if you're not going to play devotedly for their team, you can find another.

INTP: A partner who cannot think critically.

INTPs are the ultimate critical thinkers – this type won't accept any thought, fact or opinion until they've examined it thoroughly, from every available angle. Though they may not expect their partners to be as intellectually thorough as they are, they need to be paired with someone who wants to learn, advance and grow alongside them. After all, if the INTP can't discuss the latest theory they're interested in, they're going to have very little left to discuss.

ENTP: Boredom.

ENTPs are curious, explorative and eager to push boundaries. They approach relationships the way they approach everything else – with curiosity and an unquenchable enthusiasm to learn more. There is nothing more exciting to an ENTP than a person they can't quite figure out – and there's nothing more boring to them than someone they can. This type enjoys complicated, multi-dimensional partners who challenge them intellectually. Someone who is consistent to the point of rigidity gives the ENTP nothing to explore and learn from – which means the ENTP will likely tire of them quickly.

ESFJ: Unwillingness to commit.

ESFJs take their love lives seriously. This organized type always has one eye on the future and they need a partner who can keep up. They plan for the long-term – so if you can't see yourself in their future, you can see yourself out of their lives. ESFJs don't have the patience for flakiness or uncertainty – if they're in a relationship they're all in and they expect the same from their partners.

ISFJ: Insensitivity.

ISFJs need a partner they can relax with and feel comfortable around – and being a sensitive type by nature, that means they need a partner who cares deeply about both their feelings and the feelings of others. Obnoxious or arrogant personalities don't fly with this kind and collected type – they put their best foot forward for others and they need a partner who can and will do the same.

ESFP: Having limits placed on their socializing.

ESFPs are the ultimate people-people. It's incredibly important for this type to be able to maintain a wide, active social circle outside of their relationship – and a partner who wants to place limits on that circle isn't going to last long with the ESFP. This free-spirited type needs to feel connected to a community. A jealous or controlling partner who can't handle them socializing outside of the relationship is a definite deal breaker for this type.

ISFP: Being unable to express their true selves.

ISFPs are wildly creative and difficult to get to know well. More than anything else, this type wants a partner who takes the time to get to know them on a deep level and accept them exactly as they are. If the ISFP feels uncomfortable or unable to express who they truly are within a relationship, they will see little use in continuing it.

ESTJ: Inconsistency.

ESTJs take a pragmatic approach to everything and relationships are no exception. This type wants a partner they can rely on to be loyal, devoted and committed. If they perceive excessive inconsistencies within a person's actions over a period of time, they are likely to feel distrustful towards them – and consider them unsuitable for long-term partnership.

ISTJ: Deviance from their personal system of values.

ISTJs are incredibly principled individuals who base all of their decisions on a core set of values. And they need a partner who lives his or her life in accordance with those same values, or else they'll have trouble finding common ground. This type needs to feel a mutual respect for whoever they're in a relationship with and if they perceive the other person to be morally corrupt in some way, the ISTJ will have a difficult time mustering that respect.

ESTP: Dormancy.

ESTPs are action-oriented folk and they need someone who can keep up. It's not that they need you to be a marathon runner or a trade skydiver to date them, but do they need someone who's open and adaptable to their fast-paced lifestyle. ESTPs can't handle a partner who only wants to sit at home and deliberate – this type wants to be where the action is and they need someone who is willing and eager to join them.

ISTP: Insecurity.

ISTPs make for incredibly independent partners and they need to be paired with someone who understands this. They love and care for their partners, but they aren't interested in constantly reassuring them of such – if their loved ones can't take their actions as expressions of love, the ISTP won't have the patience to carry on the relationship. TC mark

It Wasn’t Until The State Of Kentucky Bought My Patient’s Farmland When I Found Out How His Parents Really Died

Posted: 14 Sep 2015 11:31 AM PDT

Flickr / Kimmo Räisänen
Flickr / Kimmo Räisänen

Frank Lamb was an intellectually disabled man from New Concord, Kentucky. At 52 years old, he’d never seen the inside of classroom. He couldn’t read or write, but had above-average communication skills. He had been placed in the care of the state when a welfare check at his parent’s farm revealed that the elder Lambs had been dead for some time. Frank’s parents had seemingly been mauled by an animal and left on the front porch.

Frank was a good-natured guy. In the three months I had been working at the Pleasant View Adult Care Center, Frank was what you’d consider a model resident. He acclimated quite well to the routine and even made friends with the other residents. He was a bit mischievous, but never violent or cruel. His pranks usually revolved telling a staff member he had to go to the restroom only to pass gas and say "False Alarm." He spend most of his time drawing with the crayons we provided him. He was actually pretty talented. If he looked at something and paid attention for long enough, he could usually produce a reasonable facsimile of the object or person.

Frank’s father owned a sizable portion of land. With his death, Frank inherited the better part of 10,000 acres of forest and farmland. The county opted to buy out the land and in turn, it voted to pay Frank the modest sum of $500 an acre. As his case-worker, I was tasked with helping understand the terms of the county’s offer. Kentucky had recently been approved for legalized hemp cultivation and the Lamb farm was a perfect location for the city to set up a growing operation.

beetlejuice

A representative from the County Board showed up around 10 AM on a Monday. The representative was a middle-aged woman who wore a black business suit. She carried an attaché case. Her salt-and-pepper hair was kept in a tight bun and she spoke with a slight Southern drawl. She introduced herself as Cathy Rhodes. Cathy and I met with Frank in the cafeteria and began to go over the city’s proposal. Frank was in an especially playful mood and opened the negotiations by turning to Cathy.

"Pull my finger,” he said.

To her credit, Cathy pulled Frank’s finger and he made a fart noise with his mouth before giggling. Clearing her throat, she opened the presentation.

"Frank, the Calloway County Board of Industrial Development would like to offer you five million dollars for your family’s land. This would be placed in a trust to ensure your care for the rest of your life."

Cathy sat quietly as I turned to Frank.

"Frank, this lady wants to buy your old house and the land that surrounds it. What do you think about that?” I asked.

Frank didn’t even look up from the table when he answered.

"No. Can’t sell. Not safe."

Puzzled, I asked him to clarify.

"Frank, why isn’t it safe at your old house?"

Frank looked down towards the floor.

"Not safe. Mister Fluffy is there. Can’t sell."

Cathy spoke up this time.

"Frank, who is Mister Fluffy?"

Frank looked Cathy directly in the eyes and said in a deadpan voice I’d never heard from him before.

"Mister Fluffy is the monster that killed Mom and Dad."

I couldn’t see the expression on Frank’s face, but all the blood drained from Cathy’s. She straightened her papers and slid them back into attache case.

"I’m going to come back later. Try to reason with him. I need to go for now."

beetlejuice

A few hours later, I entered Frank’s room to find him at his dress drawing a picture of a cat. As usual it was a decent picture. I leaned against the wall.

"Frank, right now, the State of Kentucky is paying for your care. If you sold that farm, I could petition to get you moved to a much better facility. Possibly even one with a pool."

Frank looked up from his drawing.

"I can’t sell, Mr. Ives. Mister Fluffy is there."

Feeling inspired, I looked down and Frank.

"Could you draw me a picture of Mister Fluffy?” I asked.

Frank nodded and grabbed a fresh sheet of paper. I stood in silence as he grabbed a black crayon and ran it lightly across the paper. He drew some lines and did some shading before switching to gray crayon and sometimes a brown one. After about 10 minutes of watching Frank draw this grotesque figure, he handed me the sheet of paper.

"This is Mister Fluffy. If you see him, run fast,” he said.

"Thank you very much Frank. Can I keep this?" I asked.

He nodded and went back to his cat drawing. I took the sheet of paper and went back to my office.

Mister Fluffy looked almost like an angel, but also greatly resembled a demon of some sort. The figure in the drawing had a pair of gray feathered wings coming off of his back. His facial features were more feline than human and his hands seemed more like talons. His thin black legs ended in hooves. Frank had made sure to draw red eyes and a smile that seemed disproportionate to the face it was drawn on.

beetlejuice

As Frank was in state’s custody, the interview was more of a formality than anything. As his case-worker, I was tasked with signing the appropriate documentation. A trust was set up and I made phone calls to long-term facilities that could give him a significantly increased quality of life. A few days later, I poked my head into Frank’s room to give him the news. He wasn’t happy.

Frank started rocking back and forth in his chair.

"Mister Fluffy killed Mom and Dad. He said he’d kill anyone who came there,” he cried.

I put a hand on Frank’s shoulder.

"Frank, Mister Fluffy didn’t kill the sheriff's deputy who found you. Maybe he went away,” I said.

Frank jerked away from me.

"That man came in the day. Mister Fluffy comes at night."

I tried another line of questioning, hoping to get him to calm down.

"If Mister Fluffy is so dangerous, then why are you still alive Frank?" I asked.

Frank looked up with tears in his eyes.

"Because I’m a good guy. Mister Fluffy said I was good and he couldn’t touch me. Not everyone is good like me."

Frank was shaking at this point and tears were streaming down his face. I patted him on the back.

"That’s right Frank, not many people are as good as you are. You wanna head to the cafeteria and get some ice cream?"

"I like ice cream,” Frank whimpered.

We walked to the cafeteria and after grabbing some ice cream cups from the line, we sat at a table. Frank ate his ice cream as I told him about the trust fund and a facility I found near Louisville that could offer him full-time care and had regular field trips and outdoor activities. He seemed excited about the move, but quickly reverted to a scared expression when he realized it meant that the county had bought the family farm. Ultimately, I made a promise that was a bit outside of what I could accomplish.

"Frank, am I a good person?" I asked with a grin.

Frank nodded his head. He took another bite from the ice cream.

“Mr. Ives you’re the best person,” he said.

"If I’m a good person, then that means Mister Fluffy can’t hurt me, right?” I asked.

Frank shivered a little bit.

"No. I don’t think so."

"Then there’s nothing to worry about. I’ll go talk to Mister Fluffy and convince him to leave everyone alone."

"You can do that?” Frank asked, smiling.

"Of course Frank, for you, I can do anything."

Frank reached into his pocket and pulled out a strange trinket and handed it to me.

"Mom made this. She said it would keep me safe. You take it."

I gave the talisman a cursory glance and slid it into my pocket. We finished our ice cream and I took Frank back to his room. A few days later, he was shipped to a new facility. I haven’t seen him since, but last I checked up on him, he was doing quite well.

beetlejuice

A month or so had passed when I found myself driving down 121 towards Paris Landing when I hit some debris in the road and blew out a tire. I pulled over to the side of the road and got out to change it, only to notice my spare tire was underinflated. It was late in the afternoon. I pulled out my phone and saw that I had no service. About a hundred feet in front of me was a mailbox next to a red gravel road. Adjacent to the mailbox was a sign that read, "Home of the Calloway County Hemp Cultivation Farm."

It was Frank’s old farmhouse.

I walked up the gravel road hoping to find a city worker or a phone. I felt a general feeling of uneasiness, but continued up the road. About a half-a-mile up the red gravel road, I found myself standing in front of a old weathered farmhouse. There were no vehicles in the driveway. I walked up to the front door and found it unlocked. I turned the knob and upon entering, I flicked the light switch and was relieved to find that the house had power.

The living room was converted to an office and the furniture was cleared from the rest of the rooms. I made my way to the kitchen and found a phone on the wall. I picked it up, but there was no dial tone. I poked around the house for a minute before deciding to walk back to my car and hope I could flag someone down and get a hold of AAA.

I slowly opened the front door, only to reveal a ghastly figure. It stood nearly eight feet tall and had a set of gray feathered wings. Its face was hairy and almost looked like a lion. Its scrawny black arms formed into talons that held onto the door frame and its legs rested on thick black hooves. A sulfurous smoke came from its nostrils. It took a step back and roared at me.

I stood frozen in fear as a cacophony of voices screamed from its mouth.

"Why do you trespass in my domain, human?"

I fumbled through my pocket looking for my keys. I’d put the trinket Frank had given me on my keychain and I was desperately hoping the thing worked for something. Stalling for time, I said whatever came to my mind.

"I had a flat tire,” I said. “I came here looking for a phone."

The creature laughed, expelling yellow smoke from its mouth and nose. It leaned down to sniff me.

"You smell good enough to eat. It’s been awhile since I’ve had something so delicious."

I found my keychain and pulled it out to examine the trinket. When the creature saw it, it recoiled in horror.

"How did you get that?" it screamed.

Feeling more confident I held the trinket out in front of me.

"Frank told me this would keep me safe,” I shouted.

The creature let out a wail.

"The retard? How?"

"That’s intellectually disabled person to you, bub,” I corrected the monster.

With the trinket in my hand I took a step forward.

"I’m leaving now. You should too,” I said. “If I find out you are messing with anyone else around here, I’ll come back and make sure you eat this thing."

The monster turned and ran towards the open field. I didn’t wait. I ran back to my car and drove with a flat tire until I had cell reception and called a tow truck. Twenty minutes later, I was riding back to town and staring at the sky the whole way home.

I called Frank the next day to tell him I’d inadvertently kept my promise. You could hear the smile in his voice as he said, "I knew you would Mr. Ives."

To this day, I wear that trinket around my neck. TC mark

10 Reasons New York City Is Painfully Overrated

Posted: 15 Sep 2015 05:11 AM PDT

New York City is just incredibly overrated, and yet people insist on acting like unpaid PR people for it. And these are the 10 biggest reasons why that's bullshit.

1. People get overjoyed about the most objectively garbage living spaces. I've seen people brag about their $3,000/month, rat-infested East Village one bedroom, where the kitchen has the approximate dimensions of an airplane bathroom, and faces an air shaft. People have Stockholm syndrome about the real estate here, and have learned to reduce their expectations from 'comfortable living situation' to 'dumpster with outlets.'

2. People who have no business living here choose to suffer for the cause. Nothing makes me cringe more than people who are living their NeW yOrK DrEaM at the expense of basic ability to maintain their life and feed themselves, and are working four jobs (including one creative one) to fund their windowless basement room in Bushwick. There are theatres in Chicago and LA, and basically everywhere else. Go live in a place that will enable you to survive with more dignity than a raccoon.

3. Nearly everything people brag about getting here, you can get in most major cities. Sometimes when you're talking to a New Yorker, it feels like they think no restaurants, bars, or museums exist outside of a ten-mile radius from the Empire State Building. Like I don't know if you realize, but you can go to a restaurant in Minneapolis, or a bar in Rome. And you'll probably pay way less for a beer.

4. People act like junkies when it comes to new and exciting food. I am so tired of seeing fusions-of-fusions-of-avant-garde-reimagining of food. It's like we're all addicted to New and Interesting Ways Of Eating, and kept raising our tolerance until every bar in Williamsburg served cured-shark gravlax over pine crisps with a kimchi reduction.

5. People treat dating the way they treat ordering food. I'm not saying that this is unique to New York – I know that people do app dating everywhere – but good lord is it pronounced here, where people have as many options for their next date as they do their next order of Kung Pao chicken. I can't count the number of conversations I've had with bored, vaguely despondent New Yorkers as they recall the dozen-or-so dating options they're keeping simmering on the stove, none with any actual interest. And I met my boyfriend of nearly five years online, so I'm not averse to digital romance. But come on, at least put in more effort into the potential love of your life than you do the drunken Amazon cart you fill up after coming home from the bar.

6. $10 – $15 is considered an acceptable price range for cocktails. Unless it is made from top shelf liquor and champagne, and comes with a plate of warm chocolate chip cookies, no drink should be at that price point. And yet, that's what people here are comfortable paying for a cocktail that is mostly fancy mixers, and takes approximately 10 minutes to put together. (I admit that the giant, fancy, square ice cubes do have a certain allure, but not a 14-dollar allure.)

7. 80 percent of the year is spent complaining about the weather. And don't get me wrong – I don't think these complaints are unnecessary, or unreasonable. I totally agree that New York City seems to get the absolute worst of the extreme seasons, punctuated by an admittedly gorgeous four-week period in spring and fall. It's either summer, and the whole city feels like a concrete-lined sweat lodge, full of molten garbage and a humidity level of "beef stew." Or it's winter, and each row of skyscrapers forms its own little wind tunnel, where your eyelashes have the pleasure of freezing off within five minutes of leaving work. But damn Rockefeller Center looks pretty come Christmastime!

8. Everyone is super hyped up about all the amazing shit they can't afford here. Yes, 90 percent of normal people in New York City can't afford to go shopping in the West Village, or try any of the twenty-something Michelin-starred restaurants, or stay in any of the magnificent, storied hotels. No one can enjoy a Carrie Bradshaw lifestyle, or even a Miranda Hobbes one. Pretty much everything the media teaches you is ~fabulous~ about NYC is out of everyone's price range. But people are totally content to get a contact high off of all the great stuff around them without ever being able to participate. Just walking past that amazing brunch spot with the four-hour wait is enough to motivate the New Yorker for their eight-hour shift at an Aldo.

9. The stuff they can afford – and brag about – New Yorkers never actually do. People will tell you all the time how much the ~art and culture~ here is so incredible and irreplaceable (which, okay, but you can go to most cities for that, as seen in point three), in the same breath that they tell you they have not been to the Met in five years, and have never seen an opera or ballet. They just like to know that all of this art and culture is available, waiting for the moment they will eventually choose to engage with it. They don't have to actually enjoy it to feel smug about it.

10. Meanness becomes a default setting for everyone who lives here. Now, I should specify that I've only lived in two other major cities, so I am not an expert on how much city life hardens you to the world, and to your fellow human. But I can say with confidence that pretty much everyone I know who has lived in NYC and elsewhere agrees with me that this place is significant in how much of an asshole you become living here. You just live your life in a constant, simmering state of being pissed off at people, because they are getting in your way on the subway, in a coffee shop, or on the escalator at a department store because they've chosen to eat their entire Wetzel's Pretzel between the sixth and seventh floor. Everyone knows that they're in a masochistic relationship with NYC, but I would argue that they're in an openly abusive relationship with the other ten million people who call this place home.

They say you're not a New Yorker until you've lived here for 10 years, but I would argue that you're not a New Yorker until you've learned to quietly resent every single person you cross on your daily commute. TC mark

7 Reasons Why I’m Excited To Call Madison, Wisconsin My New Home

Posted: 14 Sep 2015 08:05 AM PDT

Flickr / Richard Hurd
Flickr / Richard Hurd

1. My crappy, yet adorable apartment.

My apartment is old. It has cracks in the walls and more layers of paint then I would like to be aware of. Some of the windows do not open and the oven was most likely manufactured before my grandpa was even born. But it has character. It has an adorable hidden back patio where I can get some fresh air and read a book. A vine is growing over my bedroom window, which gives me privacy from the bustling street. The wood floors illuminate a beautiful contrast to the white walls, and when the sunlight hits it I feel like I am living in a castle. Within a week, this place has turned into my safe haven, my home and like a person, the imperfections is what makes it beautiful.

Photo provided by the author. My ancient oven.
Photo provided by the author.
My ancient oven.

2. State Street.

One block away from my castle is State Street, a Madison favorite. Starting at the capital, it is a lane full of boutiques, restaurants, ice cream shops, and bars. This street is for walkers and bikers with only a few intersections for cars to pass through. This too, is full of character and flavor. As one strolls through State Street, they will most likely see college students doing tricks on skateboard, musical performers collecting tips in a hat, and a twelve person bike trolley with good old fashioned fun.

3. The bike friendly community.

There is something refreshing about the number of bikes in Madison. I am a Trek Bicycle daughter, as my dad has worked there for many years of his life. The unique part of this city is that it is difficult not to bike. Between the wide and safe bike lanes to the B-cycle program, which allows people to rent and return bikes at multiple different stations around the community, there is really no reason not to switch the car out and join the two-wheeled gang. In return, Madisonians get strong legs, gas money turned into beer money, and a healthier environment.

4. Union Terrace.

This is a place I have heard a lot about, and finally got the chance to experience the other night. Looking over Lake Mendota at the edge of University of Wisconsin, it is a place for studying, musical performances, hanging with friends, and sitting in the famous colorful Union chairs. It is a place that unites the Madison and University community, and showcases the overall culture of this city.

5. The shoes.

The majority of people in Madison wear Birkenstocks or Chacos, and even for this fashion enthused girl, there is something really laidback and refreshing about putting comfort before style.

Provided by the author. Tuesday stroll.
Provided by the author.
Tuesday stroll.

6. Farmer's Market.

Saturday mornings in Madison mean the Farmer's Market and I cannot wait to lazily roll out of bed, throw on my comfortable shoes and buy fresh produce from local venders. Supporting local farmers is something the Midwest is really passionate about and Madison is no exception. Plus, the prices are very affordable for a cheap college student like me.

7. ‘Wisconsin’ Nice.

Before moving here, I lived in Minnesota for about 10 years of my life and loved every second of it. As many know, "Minnesota nice" is a popular phrase in the state because, like it says, they are known for being friendly and nice. Coming to Wisconsin, I felt the same genuine, small town, Midwest charm. People hold open doors for each other, they ask others about their day, smile to strangers on the street, and strike up conversation while waiting in line for the grocery check out. I am glad that this sense of community and friendliness doesn't stop at the Mississippi River and I am intrigued to find out if all Midwest states share this same compassionate.

I am excited to dive deeper into this city and become more involved in the community. To call this place home means I can constantly enjoy its good vibes. This makes my soul happy; happy enough to dance all the way down State Street, in my Chacos of course. TC mark

This Is The One Formula To Find Your Passion In Life

Posted: 14 Sep 2015 12:16 PM PDT

Flickr / Capture Queen
Flickr / Capture Queen

I was passionate when I was throwing hard pointed rocks at other little kids.

“I hit him!”

My friends and I would climb around construction sites, pretending they were forts. And throw rocks at each other until we were caught by parents. By adults.

Fun!

Einstein found his passion because he wondered what a man traveling the speed of light on a spaceship if he looked out the window and saw a man standing still.

He daydreamed and doodled and found his passion.

Da Vinci found his passion drawing machines with wings that flapped like birds – the first illustrations of what 500 years later became planes. Just doodles. Thousands of them.

Charles Darwin found his passion playing with rocks halfway around the world.

He played with them, he kicked them around, he drew pictures of the tree of life around those rocks, for EIGHT YEARS, before returning to the land of adults where he accomplished his life’s work while all of the adults jeered in his path.

Mozart found his passion when he finally escaped the adulthood of a steady job in Salzburg, for the virility of Vienna where commanding operas and orchestras and singers and actors, he created Don Giovanni, the opera that changed every piece of music that ever came after that.

Marie Curie found her passion, like so many of us, by again playing with rocks. Why did some rocks seem to be like the sun, their own source of light when all else around them was pitch black dark?

Like a child, she held them in her hand, she looked hard at them, she threw them. She studied them.

Mick Jagger had no musical talent at all, but would collect blues records from America and he and his childhood friend Keith Richards would lie around listening to them.

When his parents sent him off to study at the London School of Economics, he was still listening to those records and scribbling down lyrics rather than paying attention to supply versus demand.

Mary Shelley wondered what it would be like if a machine had intelligence. She daydreamed.

She called her machine Frankenstein and made up stories about how people would treat such a hybrid human/machine.

Ada Lovelace wondered what it would be like to tell a machine what to do. Could such a machine ever exist?

Steve Jobs loved calligraphy and using a key from a captain crunch box to scam the phone system.

The common thread: everyone was playing like a child, but with the experience of an adult.

Here are 10 ways I still try to be a child every day.

This is how I know I will find my passion. And every day it might be different:

1. PLAY

Every day I have to do something for no other reason at all than that it’s fun.

What can you do that’s fun? Play a game with someone else. Learn a magic trick. Sing.

When people want me to meet at their office I suggest the local ping pong establishment instead. It’s through Play that we get to know each other.

Or I suggest we bring a backgammon board. Or a deck of cards.

“I will beat you!” That’s the words of a child. And also the words yesterday between me and the CEO of a company I’m an advisor to.

2. FREE

Nobody paid Einstein to daydream about two people staring at each other, with one going through space as fast as he could.

In fact, he was a clerk in a patent office and could’ve stayed that way forever.

Nobody paid Ada Lovelace to imagine a world of computers 120 years before one existed. She was supposed to just be a stay-at-home Countess and enjoy her luxuries.

Nobody paid the Wright Brothers to build a plane. They were racing bicycles.

Every day I know I have to pay the bills to live. But I also have to do something totally free in order not to die.

The world of money is a tiny subset of the world of imagination.

But we get into the world of money, and often lock ourselves in and throw away the key.

3. WHY?

Why did the micro-cultures on one island look ever so slightly different than the micro-cultures that lived on the next? Darwin wondered.

Why did uranium give off light? Marie Curie wondered. She wondered about it until it killed her.

Why did Opera make Mozart tingle despite the acclaim he was receiving from the blander concertos popular at the time.

Why do children ask why and then why again?

“We just got divorced and then I moved to NYC,” says one man to the other. “Why?” is what I always wonder. Why did you get divorced. Why did you pick NYC?

It’s none of my business. But a kid doesn’t care. A kid asks Why?

The Whys add up. The Whys add up on the search for passion. Every day I try to find 10 things I can say “Why?” to.

3,650 “Whys” a year and you will find many things to be passionate about.

4. FRIENDSHIPS

A friend of mine is working on a TV show. I’m going to meet him later today to see how it’s going.

To be honest, I want to write an episode for his TV show. Just for the fun of it. I have ideas for stories. It was my list of ten ideas each day this week.

But most of all, I want to hear all the things he’s learning by doing his TV show. And then I want to ask him about my own creative challenges.

I’m feeling stuck on something.

Friendships challenge each other. First we throw rocks at each other. Then we play with each other’s problems.

Look at all of the arts and sciences: Steve Jobs started as friends with Steve Wozniak long before they made a dime.

Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg.

Jackson Pollack and Jasper Johns and Roy Lichtenstein and later Andy Warhol. The friendships that pushed each other to the next level.

That pushed each other to compete and to play and to battle and to create.

To create!

5. INTERESTS

Pierre and Marie Curie simply wanted to find out why a rock would glow. And then they fell in love and became adults.

Benjamin Franklin flew a kite to discover electricity.

Galileo was interested in finding out what would happen if a boulder and a feather flew off a tall building at the same time and then discovered the most useful scientific theories of all time.

Archimedes just wanted to take a bath. And he daydreamed.

6. HOPES AND DREAMS

When I was a little kid I had a notebook. It will filled with “David likes Lorie because I saw him look at her.” and “Joanne likes Bobby because she laughed at his joke.”

I wrote every day. I wrote a play about a moon that was a live. I wrote a story about Presidents. I wanted to write. I had dreams.

But dreams and mortgages have a hard time staying in the same head.

It’s okay to be worried about the mortgage. But don’t forget to have a little bit of hope.

What happens if you act on that daydream, even if just a second. Draw it. Write the first page. Outline the business. Just play.

7. DRAWINGS AND DRUMS

I asked for a drumset as a kid. But I never used it. But I did draw. I doodled all the time. I drew every day.

Adults say, “I can’t draw.”

Of course you can! Here’s a crayon. Go!

I bought a box of crayons (16 colors) the other day.

I just doodled. I colored things in. Some of the colors went outside the lines.

Just practice staying kid-like. Draw a face. I drew my wife. It looked nothing like her. So I turned her into a monster. It still looked nothing like her.

So I ripped up the drawing and started again. Like a kid.

8. MOVEMENT

When I was a kid, I’d get home and jump on the bike (no helmet) and drove everywhere I could.

I’d cross the highway! Hopefully my parents never saw me.

I ran up and down the street. We played football on the cement, throwing each other down.

Movement gets every neuron creating. Because now you see more things outside of your routine.

Routine staples your life to a world of tedium.

Movement breaks the staples.

9. CONFUSION

When I first moved to New York and I had my very first vacation, I had no money to go anywhere. I was stuck in the city. So I would walk around.

I wandered into areas I had never been before. I was confused where I was.

I was confused why other people were out at 10 in the morning. Why weren’t they at their jobs?

I wandered from confusion to confusion. Eventually, I started a project, “3 AM” trying to figure out why people were out at 3-in-the-morning on a Wednesday night. I was confused and wanted to know.

When I do a podcast and someone gives the stock answer they give in every other answer, I get confused. “But didn’t you cry when that company failed?” I asked Ev Williams the other day.

How did you get over cocaine? I asked Coolio.

I want to know. What did you do?

10. SOCIAL INCOMPETENCE

I try to learn how to small talk. But I’m not good at it. This is not a bad or good thing. I want to get better.

But sometimes at a party with everyone laughing and having gun I feel alone and isolated.

I try to figure my way out of that feeling of isolation. How can I have fun also?

beetlejuice

I practice being a kid. A kid laughs 300 times. An adult, on average… five.

Sometimes I can go a week without laughing. Responsibilities, fear, loneliness, anxiety, regret, can weigh me down.

Last week I had too much to do. No laughing.

As an adult you HAVE to practice being a kid, letting that child peek out again. He or she wants to come out and play and see the world again. What’s changed? The child wants to know!

I’ve had the pills in the mouth. I’ve been divorced and lost two houses and lost a family. I’ve lost my money and been scared and lost a business and had people hate me and try to ruin me. I’ve had people I’ve loved betray me and reject me.

I’ve had successes that came from hard work and from 100 hour work weeks I thought I would never survive but I learned persistence and I learned how to make it work. And I learned how to succeed and I learned how to survive failure. Some of the time.

I have many passions now. And I know how I got them. Here is the secret:

PLAY LIKE A CHILD + ADULT EXPERIENCE = FIND YOUR PASSION

But every day, give the child inside of you some exercise using the 10 ideas above.

Then throw in some experience.

Love your life. And your life will love you back. TC mark

5 Reasons (Modern) Courtship Can Develop Into A Successful Relationship

Posted: 14 Sep 2015 11:02 AM PDT

Twenty20 / dj.akisanya
Twenty20 / dj.akisanya

1. Catch me if you can.

The thrill of the chase in both dating and courtship allows for an excellent demonstration of effort, accepting or declining one’s advances, and keeps things interesting and new with uncertainty.

Dating: is about as much or as little “prey” that is hunted in volume and over a shorter period of time. Whoever gets caught has the option of “playing dead” (as in don’t talk to me or never call me again). Or on the contrary, one can be flapping with delight, waiting to soar. Nowadays, there's a blurred line of gender roles—regarding who hunts and who is being captured.

Courtship: is about the person who possesses masculine energy that may approach the “hunt” similarly as in dating, but with more determination for wanting to conquer the "prize". The “hunter” from the start makes the attraction and interest known. This can even mean through grand gestures; both with decisiveness and charm. The more resistance given by the “prey”, the more effort is put forth; as long as there is some reciprocation given at the start.

2. Setting the pace.

Love, the age-old conquest, makes hearts beat and minds turn since the dawn of time. It could happen within a matter of moments or realized over a long period.

Dating: there is more emphasis on maximizing time, making faster choices while experiencing a higher volume of partners, keeping options open, going on "gut feelings" and chemistry, and starting off more casual. The "see where this goes" approach sets the general tone before deciding whether to break it off or move forward when either one or both people reach a point of uncertainty—usually sooner than later.

Courtship: there is a shared belief to take it slow(er) and really evaluate one another both through logic and love, respect for one’s feelings in relation to the other, compatibility, attraction, interaction with each other’s family and friends, and core values/beliefs in which both parties generally share. This is not to say that opposites don’t attract, but discovering a common ground permits for a solid foundation to begin upon…pass by pass.

3. Old fashioned vs. modern love.

Traditions, customs, values, culture, familial ties, and religious impacts have shaped societal and personal norms of forming romantic bonds for centuries, which has brought us to today.

Dating: breaks away from traditional elements of gender roles (who pursues, who pays/provides, striving for equality), modes of communication (texts, emails, calls, chats, etc.) and varied first-date activities (rock climbing to rock concerts). There is a greater focus on individual needs and discovering if in fact the other person may or may not gel into one's pre-existing lifestyle. Although romance of course exists, there is more emphasis on the thrill of instant gratification and pleasure seeking—in all forms.

Courtship: conserves old world elements of gender roles (the masculine energy pursues, provides for, and protects the female energy), in person dates, phone calls, and the occasional handwritten letter are more dominant than virtual connection (which of course are still used), and first-date activities tend to be more traditional in order to generate conversation (going out to dinner, long walks, and sightseeing). There is more emphasis on chivalry and romantic gestures—to demonstrate affection.

4. Intimacy…from built up to climax.

Whenever both people are ready to engage on a more personal level, the hope should be that there is a sense of respect for each other—all the other details could then fall into place.

Dating: whether it's time to get hot and heavy on the first, third, or tenth date, it tends to happen sooner than later depending on the level of attraction, going on instinct and desire, and the urgency to discover sexual compatibility rather than perhaps the emotional or intellectual components first. The downside to this is that it may either complicate knowing one another "blinded" by a chemical cocktail of passion or interest can be lost quickly after.

Courtship: Although it may take a lot of restraint and at times frustration, both people choose to become sexually intimate once a level of trust and fidelity is in place—whether it be as an exclusive couple or even waiting until marriage. Sexual compatibility is of course important, but it's seen as one of the many key elements of forming the relationship.

5. Commitment, security, and trust.

As humans, we all like to love and be loved, give and receive, and have the desire and need to feel safe within ourselves and in the presence of others. Relationships are the best teachers to reveal self-awareness and selflessness (within healthy reason).

Dating: some people may get married after a one-night stand whereas others may never speak again. Some couples have marathon relationships in which they form a life commitment once they have both happily reached the decision or have decided to settle out of comfort. Other times, one party wants further commitment whereas the other is complacent and never has any intention of making it official. Emotions, thoughts, and feelings are surely considered, but at times they could be handled carelessly.

Courtship: if entering into a committed relationship, it's with true intention of getting to know each other on a deeper and profound level with each encounter — determining if in fact the potential for creating a lifelong partnership/marriage could certainly be possible. Although of course there are no guarantees, there is a general sense of clearer intention and open communication in order to make a decision. If in fact the relationship does advance, the groundwork has been laid from the start. TC mark

Engaged And Underaged: 15 Spouses On What It’s Like To Be Married Before 21

Posted: 14 Sep 2015 11:02 AM PDT

via twenty20/joonweh
via twenty20/joonweh

1. “I got married when I was 19 and he was 20. Our parents were really against it at the time and my Dad hated him because he felt like his ‘baby girl’ was being taken away from him. The first few years were really up and down with the first year being like a wonderful dream even though we were pretty poor. We did have a lot of money trouble for a while but we made it without asking our parents for anything which I’m proud of. Now, five years later, I’m in college and only have 20 credits to go before I’m done. After I get a job he’s going to start taking classes to be a nurse. Through all of this he and I have learned how to work together as a team in a way I didn’t think was possible. My Dad even likes him now which makes me really grateful. It also feels like we’ve proved the haters wrong.”

—Madeline, 24

beetlejuice

2. “Married at 18 in what I thought was a very romantic walk up to the court house. Divorced at 22 on the happiest day of my life. Don’t get married until you’re at least 25, I’d say. Everybody’s just a kid before then.”

—Rick, 26

beetlejuice

3. “Married at 18, divorced at 19. As soon as we moved in together we started having arguments because we were dirt poor. Since he was only a year older than me he didn’t really have any more experience than I did. Ended up hitting me once during a fight and seemed to discover that he preferred to just hit me and intimidate me every time things got intense. It was totally dysfunctional. I was like this typical nagging wife you’d see in a movie because, I think, I viewed him as a father figure rather than an equal. I remarried at 25 and my life has been much better. I’m not sure what happened to my ex-husband. I lost track as soon as I could.”

—Ann, 27

beetlejuice

4. “I was married at 20. It’s a great way end up wasting the next few years of your life if you’re into that kind of thing.”

—Chris, 25 TC mark

beetlejuice

5. “Married at 19 and after a year he was running around. One thing I wish I’d known was just how susceptible to peer pressure he was. He worked with a bunch of guys who went to strip clubs after work like twice a week and so he started going because he thought they were cool guys. Then he moved on to lap dances and before I knew it he was buying blow jobs out of the back of the place. He’d stay out all night some nights and he spent tons of money while I was home trying to get rest and go to work. I stayed with him for two years but mostly, I think, because I couldn’t bear the thought of people telling me ‘I told you so’ about marrying young. All my friends had warned me against it.”

—Michelle, 25

beetlejuice

6. “My wife and I got married early. She was 18 and I was 20. We’ve been married 28 years and have two kids both out of college. I don’t think it would have been any easier or harder if we had waited until we were older. When you marry someone you love at a younger age I think you definitely grow to become adults together. You just have to make sure you’re good to each other and do your part.”

—Dennis, 48

beetlejuice

7. “Got my girlfriend pregnant at 17 and we got married the next year after my son was born because for some reason everyone thought that was the responsible thing to do. We were married a year and I was working full time and in school part time. She stayed home with the baby. During that year she cheated on me twice. After the second time, I moved out and we divorced six months later. Don’t try and ‘do the right thing’ if you don’t also love the other person and they don’t love you. I don’t even blame her for cheating. We were both incredibly unhappy and our whole marriage was based on ‘duty’. That’s no way to live.”

—Jack, 26

beetlejuice

8. “We got married straight out of high school so we were both 18. It was in a rural area so while I wouldn’t say it was common to get married this early it wasn’t extremely out of the ordinary either. We were also both religious and in retrospect we were pushed by our church culture to get married instead of having sex outside of marriage. Luckily, we’ve remained in love for the last 19 years.

On a funny note, my girlfriends always ask me if I feel like I missed out having sex with different people. I just laugh, I guarantee I’ve had more and better sex than any of them have with those ‘different people’.”

—Janet, 37

beetlejuice

9. “I married my ex at 18, he was 25. We were married for seven years and it was sort of good at times, I guess. I didn’t really know any different and I came from a family that wasn’t big on expressions of love. Eventually, he and I just grew apart. I was lucky in that he and I both knew this wasn’t really anyone’s fault. We still stay in contact even though he’s remarried now and I’m seeing someone seriously.”

—Kendra, 28

beetlejuice

10. “I got married at 17 in lieu of just running away from home. He was 20 and we moved to Charleston, SC from southern Florida. If I had the opportunity again I’d have done it again although the first three years were very difficult since we were both kind of hopeless romantics. It took us time to figure out that marriage wasn’t always perfect. Ten years later, things are good and we have a three year old baby girl we’re both crazy about. I have my teaching certification and he’s about to get a degree in criminal justice. It’s work but we’re doing well.”

—Lisa, 27

beetlejuice

11. “He and I were high school sweethearts who decided to go to the same college. We stayed together through all four years and got married after we graduated. I know a lot of people can’t relate to it or think there’s something wrong with us but I’ve never wanted anyone else and he hasn’t either. We’ve been married ten years and we’ve been together for sixteen.”

—Kristen, 31

beetlejuice

12. “I got married last year to a 38-year-old man. I’m 21 now. It’s worked out for us so far. We love each other very much and aside from the occasional gross ‘robbing the cradle’ comments everyone can see how happy we are. I’m not sure when 20 became the age of a child though. It weirds me out that me marrying at 20 weirds people out so much.”

—Jane, 21

beetlejuice

13. “We got married at 19 and while we’ve done okay I’m sort of afraid that’s all we’ll ever be together is ‘adequate’. We’ve been together for five years and I keep waiting for us to get over that hump and fall in love again or whatever but I’m not convinced it’s going to happen. I have definitely thought about divorce and not even because I’m mad at her. I’m just afraid we might be holding each other back from happiness at this point. She swears that she’s happy with how we are but her eyes tell a different story, I feel. I haven’t seen real joy out of her since our first year of marriage.”

—Jason, 24

beetlejuice

14. “Married at 18 and after a year my husband wanted a divorce, said we married too young, etc. I told him I loved him and asked if he loved me and he said ‘yes’ and I asked him why he was letting other people convince him he was the screwed up one when they were the ones always bitching about how unhappy they were. I then asked him to give us a year. Five years later we’re happier than ever. It always amazes me how other people can see happy people and try to make them doubt themselves.”

—Catherine, 24

beetlejuice

15. “She and I married straight out of college. We both had jobs lined up straight out of college. We rented a small place together and paid off our school loans over the next couple years then saved hard for a year. I don’t know, it seemed very natural for us and we were ready and knew we wanted to be together. This didn’t work for other people but it’s definitely worked for us. I love her more today than I did the day we were married and I don’t know that you could ask or even hope for more than that.”

—Robert, 25 TC mark