Thought Catalog


Being Confident Yet Still Caring What Other People Think: 10 Signs You’re More Empathetic Than You Realize

Posted: 09 Dec 2015 09:00 PM PST

phams_07
phams_07

1. You deeply care about what other people think, yet at the same time, are very confident. If you've been struggling to reconcile the two, consider that it's not insecurity as much as it is wanting and needing other people to think and feel positively so you don't pick up on it yourself.

2. You're the "counselor" of your friends. You always feel responsible for solving other people's problems, and almost can't bear to be in the company of someone who seems upset or struggling with at least trying to talk through things or offer them help.

3. You're often tired for no reason, or at least require a lot of alone time to think through things, process and relax.

4. You overthink as a means of working through emotions that aren't inherently yours. You find yourself constantly having to put in tons of mental energy to try to get to the root of a problem, often going through it again and again but to no avail, simply not realizing that it was never yours to dissect or heal in the first place.

5. You get upset "for no reason." You'll be just going through your day as usual when all of a sudden, a random, strange emotion will come over you and you'll feel all but paralyzed by it.

6. You're actually pretty emotionally distant on the surface – and are highly selective of who you give your time and energy to. Though you're sensitive – and possibly even outgoing!
– you are very cautious as to who you spend time with, and who you willingly give your attention to.

7. You respond strongly to your environment. You can almost "chamelionize" to whatever is going on around you – mimicking other people's idiosyncrasies, or adopting the behaviors and attitudes of whomever you spend a lot of time with.

8. You're interested in psychology, philosophy or anything else that explains how we behave and why. You realize that the way you think and feel is what creates and constitutes a "good life," and so any way you can learn do either of those better seems like a noble pursuit.

9. You overthink social interactions more than anything else. The only problems you've ever really had in your life have been social or inter-personal. If not that, then your anxiety is always rooted in something to do with your relationship to other people, even if only your perception of it.

10. You're also very intuitive, simply because you can pick up on people's micro-expressions. Naturally being aware of body language and small mannerisms gives you tons of insight into how they really think and feel, and sometimes, when we're geared to pick up on these things, we inadvertently start adopting the feeling that comes with them. TC mark

10 Reasons Why Robot Sex Is Going To Be Great For Society

Posted: 09 Dec 2015 08:00 PM PST

Ex Machina
Ex Machina

1. Sleeping with a robot will be an awesome alternative to masturbating. Even when you incorporate toys and/or your favorite pornography, jerking off is a pretty solitary activity. Intimacy with a robot will much more closely resemble intercourse with another human, which is a major step forward in the realm of solo sex. (Remember, your vibrator’s a tiny machine anyway. Who says no to a technological upgrade?)

2. Staying single will seem a whole lot more appealing. Though it has its rewards, singledom makes getting laid regularly a bit tricky since you can’t just roll over and poke your partner with your morning wood. Once you can conveniently get your sexual fix from a resident robot—sparing yourself the tedium of logging onto some hook-up app or booty calling an ex—the prospect of staying single will be a lot less harrowing.

3. So fewer people will mistakenly enter into relationships simply because they want someone to fuck on the regular. One of the main benefits of settling into a serious relationship is that you have someone around to meet your sexual needs pretty much always. But lasting love can't be built on the mutual desire to have more sex alone, so it will be a good thing when people can diddle a robot instead of partnering up in the name of increased sexual certainty.

4. Banging a robot will also be a great alternative to cheating on your significant other. For couples in monogamous relationships, the option to copulate with a robot should offset human sensual temptations. Think about it: Would you be more upset if you caught your significant other sleeping with another person, or an artificial stand-in for a man or woman? If the passion ever wanes, or you’re desperate to experiment in a way that doesn't appeal to your partner, scratching that carnal itch with a robot will be a valuable measure if it prevents you from chasing human-on-human pleasure.

5. Less cheating will mean that fewer human relationships fall apart. With robots as a viable alternative to philandering, a leading cause of relationship disintegration, fewer long-term couples will break up and fewer marriages will likely end in divorce.

6. There will also be fewer crimes of passion. I think we can all agree that love drives people absolutely crazy. Especially post betrayal, people have been known to do some truly disturbing shit. Once robots are in the mix, however, and people can quiet their desire to fuck around by fucking a human-esque machine, there will be fewer acts of disloyalty and thus fewer vengeful love-gone-wrong felonies.

7. People will be happier because sexual frustration will be far less prevalent, maybe even obsolete. When you're not having sex as often as you'd like, life can seem pretty dreary. Once those who are aching to get laid can turn to artificially intelligent sex machines to release their libidinous tension and make them feel wanted, there will be fewer sexually frustrated people walking around feeling sad about life, which is a definite plus.

8. You won't have to worry about catching STIs from robots. Humans are walking petri dishes of disease. Robots, not so much. Plus, every artificially intelligent machine capable of fornicating with a human will probably be equipped with self-cleaning functionality.

9. You won't be able to get a robot pregnant, either. The number of unwanted pregnancies is likely to plummet once people can get their rocks off with a robot that can't get pregnant even if the condom breaks or when you're too drunk to remember to wear protection in the first place.

10. Robots will be great sexual education tools. At present, our approach to sex-ed is at best insufficient, and, at worst, terribly misleading and counterproductive. Experimenting with a robot programmed to teach young adults about their bodies might just be an effective way to learn about sex without feeling awkward about taking the first steps or too intimidated to ask certain questions. TC mark

Why I Taught My Daughter What A Vibrator Was When She Was Ten Years Old

Posted: 09 Dec 2015 07:00 PM PST

iStock_000067011229_Full
Muratart

Unlike a lot of mothers in my suburban community I have no problem talking to my kids about sex. In fact, I'm very comfortable talking honestly, openly, and non-judgmentally about it.

I was raised by a stylish diva Mom of the "Mad Men" era, twice divorced, slightly embittered but unequivocal when she told me flatly "Sex is the one thing a man can give you that will make you happy." Female orgasm was an act of pride and rebellion, it was her brand of feminism. "The whole world is geared to satisfy men and you need to make sure they satisfy you."

This is what informed how I educated my daughter about sex, although my tutelage was far from embittered–because sex, love, and relationships have always been a highly satisfying part of my life. I write about my sex positive philosophy in my recently published memoir “Wide Open,” about my journey of balancing romantic love and family life. "Sex as danger" was never part of my message. Like getting good grades or eating healthy foods, my style was instructive and even humorous.

When my daughter was ten years old, she got into my sex toy draw and borrowed a small lavender vibrator. I didn't notice it was missing until ten days later when my daughter sheepishly confessed to me that she had taken it and that she "really liked it." I told her to consider it hers. I was happy she'd taken the initiative.

We chatted about the vibrator's lithe shape and silky texture and I explained female physiology to her. I told her that masturbation was a private activity saved for non-public spaces like her bedroom. "A vibrator will be your own personal sex educator about what you need to do to achieve climax. When you get a lover, this is the information you'll pass on to him or her."

Educating my children on sex, love and relationships is a crucial part of what I consider good parenting. It's right up there with keeping them out of danger, teaching them to respect the environment, and making them responsible for their own actions (along with doing their own laundry and 30 minutes of reading a day).

But there seems to be a pervasive fear that talking about sex will encourage teenagers to have sex. I think just the opposite is true. The Netherlands, Germany, and France have the lowest rates of teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases among teens. These three countries have exemplary sex education and government programs that allow easy access to contraception. Knowledge and education facilitates wise decisions.

The United States has one of the highest teen pregnancy rates in the Western world. According to Advocates for Youth, since 1997 the US government has subsidized over $1.5 billion dollars in abstinence-only programs that exclude crucial information that could prevent teen pregnancy and STDS. Until recently, these "sex as danger" programs promoting abstinence were the only sex education classes eligible for federal funding. But researchers at the University of Washington found that comprehensive sex education was associated with a 50 percent lower risk of teen pregnancy compared to an abstinence-only program.

Given the puritanical roots of the United States, these statistics aren't surprising. But I live in one of the blue states, where the "sex is dangerous" dogma is on par with the ideology that humans lived among dinosaurs. I expected a sex-positive attitude from others parents. Not so. In kindergarten my daughter asked me the inevitable "where do babies come from?" I responded with a simple description suited for a five-year-old. My little girl became the source of sex education for her kindergarten pals. When her best friend told her mother about "the sperm and the egg," this little girl's mother called me up and stated flatly, "I don't want my child thinking about sex."

Developmentally kids start asking basic questions about sex as early as three years old. Making the subject verboten puts kids and teenagers at risk. What is forbidden and mysterious often becomes cause for rebelling. I have several friends whose parenting style I respected in the elementary school years but as their children became teenagers their parenting started leaning toward surveillance, policing, and control.

My daughter's friends are polite and affable. They are also curious and hungry for frank information on life. They need guidance with empathy–not lectures or policing. Often I am a quiet observer and neutral ear for their challenges.

One of my close friends is in complete denial that her daughter is having sex. This young girl became sexually active at 13, an age I think is way too young. When I asked this mother why she didn't talk to her daughter more about love and sex–she said "She'll have to learn the lessons on her own."

At 14 my daughter got her first boyfriend. We discussed birth control. My daughter was very candid that she was not ready to have sex–which I was glad for. As their relationship developed she felt pressured. Her boyfriend is a great kid–and yet I think we can all agree that testosterone is one wily ride. To quote Xander from Buffy the Vampire slayer "I am a 16-year-old boy–linoleum turns me on."

After further discussion, the issue seemed to be not that her boyfriend was truly pressuring her, he wanted to respect her boundaries, but given both their levels of sexual inexperience they didn't know how to pleasure each other. His idea was penetration–understandable, given that biology has the dominant power to make compelling suggestions. After all isn't testosterone's function to fill the earth with babies? I felt empathy for both my daughter and her boyfriend. I explained to her that the learning curve at this age in terms of your body, your boyfriend/girlfriend’s body, what you are feeling, and what you need is huge! Then I coached her about several ways she and her boyfriend could pleasure each other without penetration or risk of pregnancy.

I am happy to report that at 15 my daughter is sexually satisfied but still not having intercourse. By the way, her friend from kindergarten whose mom lambasted me for teaching my kid the Birds and the Bees started having sex at the tender age of 13. I can't say I was surprised.

My daughter is doing great academically, socially, and also exploring the fine art of living well. Which undoubtedly must have pleasure on the menu because from an evolutionary perspective we are hardwired to want sex when we reach puberty. It's time parents stopped portraying sex as dangerous, emotionally and physically, and start telling the truth about the pleasures, emotionally and physically, within a context that includes safety and maturity. TC mark

Gracie X is the author of Wide Open. You can buy it on Amazon here.

My Grandfather Worked At An Insane Asylum And I Found His Personal Logs Dating Back To 1902 (Part Five)

Posted: 09 Dec 2015 06:00 PM PST

Boston Public Library
Boston Public Library

Read Part One Here.

Read Part Two Here.

Read Part Three Here.

Read Part Four Here.

Okay. Okay. I’ve sobered up after a week-long binge. It’s the only way to ignore the tapping at the window during the night, you see? But then I realized there’s more, there’s so much more to be told here, and maybe if I read farther I’ll find an answer. I’ll find a solution. Maybe Gramps made Clara go away.

There’s a chance, right? That Gramps could make her go away?

I’ll warn you up front, a lot of 1904 is scattered and piecemeal. I feel like maybe Gramps went on a leave of absence, or whatever they called it back then. But then, it makes sense. Once you read what I’ve read.


January 13, 1904

The authorities have been of no use. No use! If I am forced to see them shrug again, excusing Ruth’s disappearance with the rest of the children, I swear…

Ruth was not a vagrant! She was not an unwanted creature crawling the streets! She was loved!

I have returned to my duties following the holiday but my work is slipshod. If Dr. Bowen were here he would have pulled me into his office to be sternly disciplined yet Dr. Bowen is not here because he took the coward’s way out.

I am strong. I will not go to the window again. Let her tap all she wants with those long, slender fingers.

I will not go to the window again.

January 26, 1904

The hospital has been appointed a new director. Dr. Derry seems to be a kinder man than Dr. Bowen. At the very least, a rounder one. There are rumors he seeks to remove all restraints from the beds, all bars from the windows.

He is a kind man. I do not know if he is a wise man.

February 3, 1904

No sign of Ruth.

Mary is gray, silent.

I found some clothes shoved beneath our bed yesterday when looking for my work boots. A jumble of shirts, pants, undergarments. They stank of smoke.

February 5, 1904

Our child is dead.

I do not know this from the police. I do not know this from Mary. I know this in my heart. Ruth is dead and has been since the new year. Clara whispered it to me from the window last night.

I did not go to it but she opened it anyway.

She whispered to me, trying to get me to come to her, telling me the wicked things she’d do to me if I did. But her mistake was leading with that knowledge: Ruth was dead. She spoke it almost as if it was a present for me, a gift, something to ease my mind. Instead, it froze me in bed and I never once looked towards the window.

Clara said this is a good thing, a fine thing, because Mary and I could simply make her another.

The babe I held in my arms for less than a month is dead and gone and I do not know how to tell my wife without seeming like the one who has done the deed himself.

February 6, 1904

I did not have to wait long. Clara, it seems, works quickly. Especially when she has men all over town doing her bidding, bringing her children, bringing her teeth.

The police arrived at Highville and asked me to come with them, only briefly. They lead me — without much surprise — to the edge of the woods where Clara and her band of merry mad had hung themselves. Where Anne-Marie had been found in pieces.

They showed me the massive pile of ash and bone. It had, clearly, stopped smoldering some time ago. It was cool. But you could still make out the shapes in the piles of black dust: the curve of a skull, the length of a femur. All so small. So very, very small.

Ruth is not in there, I told them. All the others, the missing unwanted things, they may be in there but Ruth is not and all the while I knew I was speaking lies.

They presented me with the blanket she’d been wrapped in the night she disappeared.

She may not be, a gray-faced officer told me, but this was found at the base of the remains. It was the only item of clothing recovered. Almost as if it had been placed there.

We’re sorry, he told me.

So am I. I’m very, very sorry.

Because that pile of ash? It smelled so awfully familiar…

March 24, 1904

I have not felt well as of late.

Dr. Derry has allowed me some time to recover.

Mary has spent her days weeping. I am worried she will have nothing left in her, that she will cry out all she has and simply crumple into ash from the strain.

Ash. It’s all I seem to think of these days. Its scent fills my nostrils. My mouth seems to be full of it. When I wake, sometimes I brush madly at my skin, terrified that I’ve been coated as I sleep in a blanket of burnt human remains.

Clara has not been to my window. That is, at least, a comfort.

March 28, 1904

Though the chalky-dark taste of ash still remains in my mouth I have returned to work. It has been a pleasant surprise to see the effect Dr. Derry has had on Highville! When once his methods seemed soft, weak, they have proven to actually improve the conditions of the patients.

In my time away, I hardly recognize the hospital. The dining hall, without mandatory straightjackets and force-feeding to certain inmates, has become a much calmer place. When not confined to their beds in their cells, some of the patients I remember to be the most violent actually entertain themselves by looking out the windows, talking softly to their cellmates. For the moment, shock therapy is being put on hold.

Perhaps this change was what the institution needed.

Or, perhaps, Clara is satisfied. For now.

April 5, 1904

All has been well. While I still carry a heavy heart, ash no longer seems to cover my existence in an unending fall. I suspect it will be some time before I am ready to fully let go of the idea of my daughter but, when I think of it, she was so brief for this world. Dandelion wisps through my fingers, blown away on a wish. Something so delicate, so impossible, that it’s almost as if she never existed at all.

Clara, however, refuses to let go. She rocks what’s left of Ruth’s swaddling clothes at least once a day, humming, smelling them.

How funny. Did I write Clara there? The ink is too wet to correct with smudging. I meant Mary, of course.

I have not thought of Clara in some time.

April 8, 1904

Mary has been acting strangely. She touches me often. She acts… unladylike. I am not sure I care for this shift in behavior but I remind myself, she has been through the unimaginable. She has had her heart ripped from her in a way I cannot understand.

Yet, the way she paws at me… I am becoming uneasy.

April 12, 1904

This is not the woman I married.

This past evening, Mary woke me in the middle of the night, touching me between the legs, growling hungrily into my ear. Before I knew it she tried to mount me and I tossed her off — easily, as she is a small woman and I a man of fair-enough size — and saw her hit her head against the wall of our bedroom.

She began to cry and asked why I wouldn’t give her a child.

It was only then I noticed the window was open.

April 13, 1904

I have affixed a lock to the windowsill of our bedroom window, easily enough. I also attached a small string of bells to said lock, in case anyone inside the room should try to open it themselves.

This is all I can think of to do. I do not know how to defeat a witch and clearly, thus far, have been unsuccessful.

But I can keep her away from my wife.

April 21, 1904

Dr. Derry was nearly strangled by a patient during a routine cell check. The man reached through the now bar-less windows and seized the round little doctor by the throat. Luckily, I was nearby and intervened.

Dr. Derry does not want to admit this as a defeat. Nor did Dr. Bowen, with the zoo, but we never got any new animals, did we?

That electric-air crackle is back. The sense of lightning in the atmosphere.

And… I have begun to dream of her.

To say much more would be dangerous.

May 1, 1904

The witch has tricked me again.

I should have known by now. She gathered what she needed before. The children, the teeth, the ash. She can get what she needs and she does.

Though it pains me to write this, I know I must record my experiences for any of this to make sense. I must be straightforward. Honest. Truthful.

Last night, as I dreamt, Clara came to the window. She came through it, opening it without even the slightest tinkle of bells, and floated to me in bed.

She descended upon me. Her mouth tasted like heaven. Her long dark hair, which I could finally touch, was like the softest silk I’d ever imagined.

She moved her body like water.

It was the growling in my ear that woke me.

Mary, it was Mary atop me, on me in a way she had never been before. My sweet, demure, kind Mary, bucking away like some sort of demon.

I am but a man. I had no chance.

When it was all over, she smiled at me. Satisfied. Told me this was not the first time — and would not be the last.

I am not safe even in sleep.

God help me.


I’m not any clearer on what this means than you are. But you’re hooked too, right? You’re following every word, just like I am, and what’s worse is that you’re not hearing the tapping on your windows yet. You’re not waking up in the middle of the night, convinced someone has been touching you… there only to find out you’re alone.

But the first night you wake up and that window is full-on open?

Oh yeah, you’ll change your mind, that much is for sure. Because we’re far from done here. I still have fifty more fucking years here. Do you have any idea what can happen in that period of time?

So if you’ll excuse me, I’m going back to the old man’s scotch for a little while. TC mark

Part 6 Coming Soon.

A Man’s Opinion Doesn’t Define You: 6 Bullshit Things Men Say That You Should Never Take Seriously

Posted: 09 Dec 2015 05:43 PM PST

Netflix / Mad Men
Netflix / Mad Men

I've put up with more than my share of douchebags in my life. Especially douchebags who assume I'm too emotional/shallow/stupid to hold up my end of an argument for no other reason than because I'm a woman.

I didn't used to call them out on it because I wanted to be a cool girl. But I don't care about that anymore. Most women get stuck deprogramming a bunch of conditioning that's been foisted on us long before we were old enough to understand it. By the time we see what's happened, we already believe that we're less smart, less funny, and less capable in general than men. That kind of thinking takes a lot of conscious effort to correct.

I think most guys don't know when they're talking down to us. But some do. And I think it's about time we collectively assert that we're a.) aware of it and b.) not going to put up with it any longer. Here are some obnoxious comments you've probably endured, in ascending order of bullshit:

I.

Oddly specific comments about your body.

We tell each other that men don't notice small details. But they do. A lot of guys will tell you all about your pockmarks and the cellulite on the back of your thighs. Usually only when they're mad at you. But some guys just feel like they're entitled to someone who looks better than they do. Why do men get to be fat sloppy bastards while they can't tolerate seven pounds on us? In my experience, the dumpiest-looking guys are the most critical. A perfect-looking guy can just be with a perfect-looking girl. He doesn't have to keep you on your toes like that.

II.

"You care too much about what your friends think." 

This applies to lots of people. But some men tell each other that all women are lemmings and can't avoid groupthink. Which is crap. Especially in relationships. From what I've seen, women have a monopoly on risking it all for relationships.

We don't care if people like our man. We don't care if he's rich or hot or even that smart. We just want him to make us feel like it's us against the world. (Which isn't always practical, mind you. But when that risk is taken, we're usually the ones taking it.) Men are worried about what their moms will think or their friends will think or if we're going to say things that annoy them thirty years down the road. But women: we're mad romantics.

I know a guy who turned down a girl he's known forever because she's fat. He likes her, but he says his friends would think he's a loser. Well. I think he's a coward. Which is a million times worse.

III.

"You have daddy issues."

Of course. And you have mommy issues. I can't even tell you how many studs I know who have mommy issues. They're dismissive of their mothers, calling them selfish and illogical while praising the aloof asshole that's usually the dad. And these guys are bitter too. More so than most daddy-issues chicks.

On that note, “men's rights activists” are far more hostile than feminists. Aside from a few outliers like Andrea Dworkin I'm just not seeing that rage come out of us. I'm sure some guys are going to complain that political correctness is our covert way of asserting control. I'm not for PC culture any more than you are, and believe me many of us girls feel the same way. But I do think there are wider reasons for its existence that are coming from an honest place.

For the most part, feminists seem to go out of their way to consider men's feelings. I said something on Facebook about how I don't like men who avoid conflict. The men just kind of chuckled. But the women immediately came to men's defense. They said society's belief that men have to be strong makes it harder for them to talk about trauma. Which is very sad and very true.

If you think your guy has mommy issues, point it out. And not in an accusatory way. His mom may very well have been crappy. But I've seen a lot of bad marriages and I know the woman tends to get the blame from everybody. Even though there's a very good chance she doesn't deserve it.

And I'm sure you've heard this, but you watch how he treats his mother. Because that's how he's going to treat you.

IV.

"You're a slut."

Out of all the godawful things in the world you could be, a slut is pretty low on the list don't you think?

People have different reasons for it too. Maybe they've been in a relationship for a long time and they want to enjoy their freedom after it ends. Maybe they have a shitty family or a mental illness and they feel like that's the only thing they have to offer. Or maybe they just have the DRD4 gene. Motives matter.

Look, if you're running around having sex with everyone you know and then demanding to know why you're not in a relationship the next day, you are not to be trusted. Neither is a guy who does the same thing. If you're spreading your legs to feed your empty soul then you've got issues. Those are maturity problems though.

I think "slut" as a concept is outdated. And you have to consider who you're dating. If a guy is proud of his low number, then he obviously has a specific set of values. He's more compatible with someone who sees sex the same way. But if some dirty dick uses the lock/key metaphor as his reason for not going out with you then you're better off without him.

In my experience though, most men aren't hypocrites about this. This slut has had plenty of relationships with other sluts.

V.

"You're just saying that because you're a woman."

It's insanely reductive to chalk up every thought, every feeling, every experience you've ever had to your crotch. Individuality should trump group membership by default. But unfortunately, proving ourselves an "exception to the rule" is what women (and racial minorities, and sexual minorities, and anyone else who isn't a straight white guy) have to go through every day of our lives. I want straight white guys to imagine for a minute about how it might feel to walk around every day knowing exactly what people in power are thinking about you and why you, yes you in particular, must be kept away from it.

I was talking to a guy about relationship problems I'd had (after he brought them up) and he told me that everything I was complaining about was just a "condition of being a woman." And this guy liked me. I'm sure he didn't mean to offend me unless that was his idea of a neg. But I'm not going to sit around teaching someone how not to be condescending.

VI.

Not taking your point of view seriously. 

When a woman talks about “Big Ideas,” a lot of men do one of two things:

1. Nitpick you more than he'd nitpick any man, because he thinks you don't know your place.

Some men think women are a bunch of dilettantes who stick our nose into men's spaces even though we don't actually want to be there. They think we're control freaks. And I'm just not seeing it. Whenever I see a woman on, say, a philosophy forum, she either knows her shit or she's trying to learn it. It's also pretty clear from research that women are LESS comfortable than men are about talking about things we don't think we're good at.

Or

2.) Act like it's the most brilliant thing anyone's ever said, because he's set the bar.

Which is just as bad, although it's usually less intentional. You don't want people's standards to be lower for you while your brain is developing. Guys will gape in awe at a cute 20-year-old who knows anything about anything. But when she's forty, she's going to have to compete with men for real if she wants to get respect for her opinions.

Your man should challenge you. It's sexist not to. He shouldn't expect less from you, but he shouldn't go out of his way to expect more either.

If you feel the need to change some smug asshole's opinions about women, then you have to think the way he thinks. He assumes all women are irrational. He wants all women to be irrational. You have to fight him wit for wit, logic vs. logic. Not only will that prove him wrong, but you'll get the enormous satisfaction of pissing him off.

It doesn't have to be a big thing either. One time this guy was bragging on Facebook about how he lets women win petty arguments because he read a book that says you're supposed to back down from a stronger opponent. I couldn't counter him directly, because that point isn't inherently sexist. But I knew what he thought about women because he'd made plenty of sexist comments before. So I just typed "Sun-Tzu?"

I bet he was shocked that I read that book. TC mark

An Open Letter To The One Who Got Away

Posted: 09 Dec 2015 05:00 PM PST

Kristin Addis
Kristin Addis

I want you to know that it's all good between us.

I often wonder how you are, and though I have no idea, I believe you must be well. It's what I hope for, because it's what you deserve.

As for me, sometimes I'm so deliriously happy that I could cry. If I saw you again I would hug you, just to thank you for walking away.

Today I went for a hike, something you never liked to do, and found a little pool of cool, emerald water in the river along the trail. I jumped in and washed the final remnants of you away. Cleansed, I spread my arms like a bird and as the sun hit my face I thought to myself, "this is good."

I finally felt comfortable in my own skin and with my own company. I didn't wish for anyone else to impact my moment. I looked back on the past few months and realized that I was thankful for every dark and bright second of it all, because it had contributed to where I am now.

I thought about all of the things that conspired to bring me to this and naturally, one of the biggest was you.

There was a time when my vision of a perfect future involved you as my co-star. We had a connection I'd never felt before and when I was with you, I was the best version of myself. We laughed and loved so much, and that beautiful and rare connection could have been a fixture of every day of the rest of our lives – at least that's what I thought. What we had seemed so solid until all of a sudden, it wasn't. 

You got cold feet. Maybe I asked for too much. We severed ties and since then, haven't spoken a word.

It's strange how someone who was once my best friend became a total stranger.

When things fell apart, I wondered what a future without you would look like. I feared that the best thing that had ever happened to me vanished from my life when we said our final goodbyes. I worried you were the one, and I'd never have anything that good ever again.

There were dark times in the weeks that followed. Little reminders of you would pop up in the least likely of places and I'd feel that dull, aching pain in my chest again. I'd long for the good times and grieve over the loss of you.

Yet, in a roundabout kind of way, it's the best thing that ever happened to me. Though I couldn't see it back then, I eventually realized that the best person that could impact my life wasn't someone else, it was me.

Before, I had to take your desires into account, so I made sacrifices and now, I put myself first instead.

You loved watching movies, so I'd spend hours on the couch with you even though I'd rather be doing just about anything else, just to make you happy. You wanted me to like your friends, so we'd spend most weekends with them, which was fun, but didn't really bring me any closer to any goals of mine. You had a lot of opinions, and though at the time I thought they were mostly good, I realize now that nobody could know what I needed in my life more than I could.

When you made your final exit, your voice and opinions were replaced with mine. After the time I spent with you was finally freed up, I poured myself into work, nurtured the friendships that had suffered while we were together, and looked inward at all of the things I wanted to change but had been discouraged from doing when I was with you. Liberated, I took those risks, and they paid off. I developed so much confidence, I pushed out my fears, and I did it all because I was finally free.

You see, if it had worked out the way the storybook fantasy played out in my head, I wouldn't have met nearly as many new people as I have since you and I cut ties, each of whom has contributed in a small or huge way to my life. I would have had to take you into account when it came to deciding everything over the past year from things as simple as where to eat to bigger questions such as where to live, who to spend my time with, and how to grow as one rather than two.

I went out there and experienced new things on my own whereas if we were still an item, I would have been at home, nestled up with you instead.

When I look back at it all, the moments what seemed the darkest — when my heart was beating so hard I thought it just might break out of my chest, when it hurt just to breathe, and when the flickering flame of pain ran through my every time I heard your name – it all makes sense now. I'm better off these days, even though I couldn't see it back then. It all happened so that I could be here now, and now is exactly where I'm meant to be.

So, thank you so much after all for getting away. You brought me back to the most important person in my life: me. TC mark

Remember This When When The Odds Are Against You

Posted: 09 Dec 2015 04:30 PM PST

Rhiain Bower
Rhiain Bower

This is the third college that has rejected your application. The second time you have failed this class. The fifth time your boss has put down your hard work. The tenth time someone has rejected your art. This is the hundredth time someone in a position of power has said you aren’t good enough.

They say that numbers count. That the whole world is made of digits and figures – time, money, hours worked, the calendar year. Your entire story is made up of digits. But they also say that those numbers only matter if you let them.

I know. You have heard this so often before that it feels trite, clich├ęd, repetitive. So instead, lets talk about them in a different way. In a way where the numbers, although they mattered to the people that had to face rejection and failure, left a lasting impact on our world.

Five. The number of times Henry Ford was left broke by his early businesses before he founded the highly successful Ford Motor Company.

Three hundred. The amount of times Walt Disney was rejected by bankers because the idea of Mickey Mouse according to them was absurd.

One thousand. The measure of failed attempts made by Thomas Edison before he was finally able to successfully invent the light-bulb.

Fifteen. The rank of Louis Pasteur, inventor of vaccines that have saved millions, out of the twenty students in his undergraduate chemistry class.

Twelve. The quantity of Emily Dickinson’s poems that were published during her lifetime out of the one thousand eight hundred she sent to publishers.

Twenty seven. The amount of publishers that rejected Theodor Seuss Gisel’s, better known as Dr. Seuss’s, first book To Think I Saw It on Mulberry Street.

One thousand three hundred and thirty. The record held by Babe Ruth for strike outs.

Six hundred. The number of rejection slips sent to Jack London, the writer of White Fang and The Call of the Wild, for his first story.

Twelve. That was how many times Harry Potter was rejected before finally being accepted by Bloomsbury on account of an editor’s eight year old daughter wanting to know how the story ended.

Two hundred. The amount of rejections received by Western writer Louis L’Amour before Bantam took a chance on him.

Sixty two. The age of Winston Churchill was when he finally made office as Prime Minister after years of political defeat.

Seven. The number of failed businesses run by R.H. Macy before the creation of the highly successful Macy’s.

Eight hundred. The estimated number of paintings created by Vincent Van Gogh in his lifetime. Paintings that no one wanted until years after he died.

Three. How many times Steven Spielberg was rejected by the University of Southern California’s School of Theatre, Film and Television.

Countless and undocumented. The many rejections and failures of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Charles Monet, Socrates, Orville and Wilbur Wright, Abraham Lincoln – people who, had they given up, the history of the world would be very different from how we know it, right now, at this very moment.

So you have been rejected. Maybe more times than you can count. Maybe you have failed, and everyone around you is judging you as a failure. Good. Let them. The people who underestimate you are doing you a huge favor in dismissing your talent, your intellect, your abilities. They are giving you the chance and the opportunity to prove them wrong.

And there is nothing more satisfying than success that has been achieved after so much failure.

If Walt Disney was fired for his lack of imagination, and JK Rowling was told to get a day job because there was no way she could make money through children’s book, and Charles Darwin was dismissed as a dreamer with no future by his father; then those that reject you, that put you down can be so wrong, so very wrong about you, too.

They say that numbers count. The only time that numbers count is how many times you get up again after you have fallen and failed.

So get back up, dust yourself off, and prove them all wrong, like the universe intends for you to. TC mark

You Have To Fall Back In Love With Yourself To Move On From A Breakup

Posted: 09 Dec 2015 04:00 PM PST

Nirrimi Firebrace
Nirrimi Firebrace

Here you are again, with your head cradled in your hands and your heart pounding like a wrecking ball against the walls of your chest. Maybe you left, or maybe they did, it doesn't matter—the fact is you're in treacherous territory, minus a best friend, and wondering which way is the right way forward. The first and most important thing to remember about letting go is it is one of the only things in the world that doesn't get easier with experience or practice, because it's different every time. Every connection you develop with another human being is unique to itself and requires its own strategy to sever, but there are a few general guidelines you can follow.

Avoid quick fixes at all costs. The solution to a broken heart isn't finding something else to seal the wound, but falling back in love with your solitary self; it is relearning how to enjoy the company of your thoughts, and trust in your instincts and ability to navigate a life on your own. Though a rebound may well be gratifying in the moment, it will keep you dependent on others for happiness, and before long you'll find yourself leaping from one thing to another until love is no longer love at all, but a stepping stone, a way safely through to the other side without ever being required to face a thing alone. You deserve so much more than that.

And here's why: If others find you unique and desirable and enjoyable to be around, why shouldn't you feel that way about yourself? Why shouldn't you take time to appreciate your own company and get back in touch with your own desires and hopes. After some soul-searching you may find that you have gone off track, that somewhere along the way you have lost sight of what really matters and now you have an opportunity to find your way back. Take advantage of that.

I believe wholeheartedly that every plight and predicament in life has a purpose, one that if harnessed sensibly can be used to help you grow and better yourself as a human being. Breakups are no different. Rather than wallow in self-pity and sadness, choose instead to rise above it, to take the challenge, reassess your wishes and wants, and rediscover yourself. Believe me, you might just like what you find. TC mark

Nicholas Sparks Romance Novels, But For People Who Are In Love With Food

Posted: 09 Dec 2015 03:00 PM PST

Hey, y'all, recently I've been failing at my diet, which isn't anything particularly difficult to follow, other than simply: don't eat garbage multiple times a day. I realized that I don't just eat to stay alive, but I truly, thoroughly love me some food, especially the fried, greasy, sugary, salty kinds. Then, I had a thought: What if the love foodies have for their grub were treated like human love? What if we created art to entertain the masses that tells the story of a person, and the edible magnificence they use to satisfy their appetite?

Since I don't have the budget to make a romantic comedy feature film starring a cheeseburger and Will Smith, I had to settle for these faux Nicholas Sparks love story concepts, that would definitely tug at your heartstrings and make your tummy growl. Each idea is loosely based on one of good old Nicky Sparks' actual works, but I could easily write 200+ page full versions of 'em because they're obviously incredibly inspiring, moving, heartwarming, mouthwatering tales.

Inspired by A Walk to Remember

Pajamas Over People
Pajamas Over People

A hungry young woman, Lynn Ed, stumbles upon a small Chinese restaurant on the other side of town. From the first bite she falls in love with their Kung Pao chicken, developing a powerful taste-bud-to-food connection. When she arrives home, Lynn realizes she never made note of the restaurant's name or location, and now she must search to find this glorious establishment that makes her feel levels of gratification that no Panda Express ever could.

Inspired by Nights in Rodanthe

Pajamas Over People
Pajamas Over People

When Bailon brings home some chicken nuggets, her condiment game is in shambles. She checks the pantry and various cabinets hoping for some BBQ sauce or ketchup, to no avail. The only thing she stumbles upon is some ranch in her refrigerator, a dressing often criticized when used as a dipping sauce. As her stomach rumbles with hunger, Bailon and ranch find comfort and a chicken nugget changing combination in each other.

Inspired by The Last Song

Pajamas Over People
Pajamas Over People

Estranged from her father, 17-year-old Liley is annoyed when her mother sends her and her little brother to spend the summer with him. While her father uses a shared love of food to reconnect with her, Liley falls in love with the big ass four cheese slices that are only $1.99 at a nearby local pizza establishment. When it nears time to return to her mother, reality sets in and Liley's like, "Whoa, this next piece of pizza could be my last." Uncertain if she should leave, Liley is at a crossroads and the decision she makes will be tough, no matter how you slice it.

Inspired by The Lucky One

Pajamas Over People
Pajamas Over People

Paul returns home from the grocery store with the one thing he went there for: milk. He wants to eat his cereal, so he grabs a bowl and a spoon, preparing to satisfy his craving. He opens the box of Lucky Charms and realizes that over the past couple days, he's been picking out the marshmallows, and now there's nothing but boring oat cereal pieces left. Though Paul doesn't feel like going back to the store, his craving for a taste of The Lucky Charms is blooming by the second, giving him hope that maybe, just maybe, he can muster up the energy to drive 1 ½ miles to the nearby Albertsons, and make his dream of getting romantic with a bowl of cereal a reality.

Inspired by Message in a Bottle

Pajamas Over People
Pajamas Over People

After eating a bunch of Chinese food, popular social media personality Maria Ozzy finds a vague message in her fortune cookie. When she posts a picture of it on her widely beloved Instagram, she's DM'd by one of her 20,843 followers, Griffin, who works at Panda Express. As Ozzy finds herself hopelessly falling in love with Griffin, she becomes wracked with guilt over the fact that she's ashamed to date someone who only has 92 followers on Instagram, and must decide what to do next.

Inspired by The Best Of Me

Pajamas Over People
Pajamas Over People

Seyfriend and Richard were once high school sweethearts. They have a bittersweet reunion when they return to their hometown for the funeral of a mutual, beloved friend. Seeing each other again after 20 years apart reignites the love they'd never forgotten, but Seyfriend soon learns that Richard is a vegetarian, but she loves burgers, bacon, steaks and chicken. They realize that they originally broke up over something petty in the past, and wonder if this much more threatening "I don't eat meat" fiasco, will drive them apart today.

Inspired by The Longest Ride

Pajamas Over People
Pajamas Over People

Bryan wants Chipotle but it's 5:30pm and the line is really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really long. As he wonders if he should wait or just go to a nearby Jack in the Box drive-thru, he finds inspiration in a bedraggled teenager who exits Chipotle, claiming to have waited 45+ minutes for his burrito bowl, a desire and love for double meat, fajita peppers, and guacamole that withstood the test of time.

Inspired by The Choice

Pajamas Over People
Pajamas Over People

Barker craves pancakes and French toast equally; unable to decide which one he wants more. However, when he sees that IHOP's menu offers the 'Split Decision Breakfast', a hearty combo that comes with two eggs, two crispy bacon strips, two pork sausage links, two French toast triangles and two buttermilk pancakes, he realizes that THIS IS A MOTHERLUVIN GAME CHANGER.

Inspired by Safe Haven

Pajamas Over People
Pajamas Over People

Couric takes the bus to a quiet city in California, determined to find new favorite places to dine after having a mysterious, traumatizing experience with food poisoning in LA. She avoids popular food chains like Applebee's or Benihana, and is soon won over by the relaxing vibes and cheap happy hours of local restaurants, especially Trebek's Sushi. With the help of a 'buy 2 rolls get 1 free' coupon she received in the mail, Couric learns to love and trust again at Trebek's Sushi. But when a mysterious former patron on Yelp claims to have seen a worm in the sushi, Couric's dark past and fear of unsafe food threatens to reclaim her. (Spoiler alert: The Yelp reviewer complaining about the worm was a ghost, or something?)

Inspired by The Notebook

Pajamas Over People
Pajamas Over People

A poor and passionate young man, Joakim Jim, craves a burrito from a pricey, authentic establishment, El Burrito Cuaderno, but his bank account doesn't approve. When Joakim goes to Taco Bell for affordable "Mexican food," it seems to mark the end of his desire for a high quality burrito. But when Joakim returns home and finds a $20 bill, it becomes clear that his quest for El Burrito Cuaderno is anything but over.

Inspired by Dear John

Pajamas Over People
Pajamas Over People

When a tasty medium-hot Dijon mustard is put on Elton David's sub at Guthrie's Sandwiches, it's the beginning of a strong new love connection. Over the next seven tumultuous years, separated after Elton moves to a city 100 miles away, the two stay in touch via Elton following Guthrie's Sandwiches on Twitter, tweeting at them semi-regularly, and driving to eat there on rare occasions. However, when a Subway is built nearby and poses a threat to put them out of business, John & Guthrie's Sandwiches' long distance correspondence experiences struggles that neither side could foresee. TC mark

This post originally appeared at Pajamas Over People

10 Women On The Most Sexist Thing Another Woman Ever Said To Them (And How They Responded)

Posted: 09 Dec 2015 02:00 PM PST

Flickr /// S Packwood
Flickr /// S Packwood

1. HI—I’M A RAGING WHORE

"I was at a party and hanging around in a circle when this girl I'd never met said that any woman who had sex with more than three partners before marriage is a whore. I reached out my hand and said, 'Hi—I'm a raging whore. Pleased to meet you!' You should have seen her face!"

—Jessica, 25

beetlejuice

2. ISN’T IT TIME YOU DIED?

"I went to a friend's wedding all alone and her mom asked me, 'Isn't it time you got married?' I rolled my eyes and said, 'Uh, isn't it time you died?' Needless to say, me and her daughter are no longer friends."

—Bree, 30

beetlejuice

3. DADDY’S GIRL GETS HER REVENGE

"This girl in my yoga class once told me that all feminists have a daddy complex. I got my dad to call her and tell her that he didn't like what she said about my daughter! Burn!"

—Karen, 27

beetlejuice

4. I TOLD HER THAT SHE SHOULD HAVE BEEN ABORTED

"In college I took a volleyball class with one of these MRA-sympathizing 'Women Against Feminism' types. She said that men have no abortion rights and no rights not to pay child support. I told her that she should have been aborted. She didn't take that very well."

—Enid, 23

beetlejuice

5. SHE SHOULD BE FORCED TO GIVE BACK HER VAGINA CARD

"OMG, where do I even start? OK, she said we don't live in a rape culture because there are already laws against rape, and that proves that the culture is against rape. How do you even argue with that ish? She also said it's Impossible for a wife to be raped. She said some women are asking for it by the way they dress. And she also said the difference between 'rape' and 'seduction' all depends on whether she's attracted to the guy. Barf! This woman was such a rape enabler, she should be forced to give back her vagina card. So I looked her right in the eye and told her that I lost my virginity when my uncle raped the shit out me at age 14. She sort of looked away and said, 'I'm sorry, I didn't know that.'"

—Jenna, 22

beetlejuice

6. HER IDEA OF A PERFECT FEMINIST WAS…SARAH PALIN

"I had to work in an office with this anti-choice, anti-birth control, anti-gay, pro-Republican, pro-gun, pro-hatred asshat. In other words, she was against all the good stuff and in favor of all the bad stuff. She told me that her idea of the perfect feminist was Sarah Palin because she was a 'self-made woman.' And that a woman isn't a true woman unless she has a family and a career. So I told her that I'm a single career woman—does that mean I'm not a true woman? She said, 'No, you're nice, I like you, I'm just talking about all the others.' It was like her way of saying I'm one of the 'good' ones."

—Ashlee, 25

beetlejuice

7. GLASS CEILING OR GLASS WINDOW?

"A female friend of my boyfriend's once said—with a straight face, mind you— that when it comes to equal pay and women in the workplace, there's no such thing as a glass ceiling. I felt tempted to shove her out a glass window. Instead, I just asked her what she did for a living. She said she was unemployed. 'Figures,' I said."

—Daniela, 23

beetlejuice

8. A JEWISH FEMINAZI?

"I worked in this horrible suffocating office where the woman in the cubicle next to mine listened to right-wing radio all day and once called me a feminazi. I told her it was impossible for me to be a Nazi because I'm Jewish. She then went on this long boring rant about how she supports Israel."

—Amy, 28

beetlejuice

9. YOU SHOULD HAVE SEEN HER FACE WHEN I TOLD HER I’M GAY

"I was once stuck on a four-hour Greyhound bus ride seated next to a woman who started chatting me up like we'd been BFFs all our lives. In the midst of, I don't know, some dumb conversation about something dumb, she said that women become lesbians because they're ugly and no men aren't would want them them. She sort of gave me a knowing nudge like we were both far too attractive to be lesbians. If you want to see an ugly face, you should have seen hers when I told her I'm gay."

—Britney, 23

beetlejuice

10. I THINK I HATE YOU NOW

"I was working as a server at a sports bar when one of the other waitresses told me she hates women who don't take their husband's last name when they get married. I said, 'So you hate me, then?' She said, 'No, no, I actually like you.' I said, 'That's nice, but I think I hate you now.'"

—Jacki, 24 TC mark