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One helluva week

Sunday, March 28th, 2010

Let it never be said that spring break is anything but crazy.While most stories of break adventures involve cabana boys, wet t-shirt contests, and more tequila than is advisable, my stuck-in-the-house-because-I-have-no-money break has been just as wild.

Minor things out of the way first. I have glasses now, and my first two fillings ever. I went nearly twenty-two years with perfect vision and perfect teeth, but in the words of Tyler Durden, “even the Mona Lisa’s falling apart”. Honestly, both things are good. I enjoy seeing and I enjoy not having holes in my teeth, so yay for these things.

I’m sure most of my friends and family have heard the big news by now, but in case there’s anyone out of the loop, I have a little story to share.

March 18 marked the first anniversary of my relationship with Jason. I desgined him a cute mug on Zazzle, and it was an all-around pleasant day. We saw Wolfman (I thought it was fantastic; J was less impressed. If you’re in the mood for some good old fashioned gore, give it a shot. And I mean real gore–full decaptiations, flying organs, mouthfuls of sinew. Also, Anthony Hopkins hasn’t given me the creeps like that since he ate that guy’s liver with fava beans. It’s awesome. End of film review), dorked aroud the ritzy area of the high desert (holy crap you guys, there’s a MARINA here. Like with boats and everything. It’s huge! Last aside, I promise.), and went for sushi. Lovely lovely sushi, an here I feel the need to promote Yoshi sushi because OH MY GOD. For one, they don’t cook their ungai in soy sauce, which is good for me; for two (?), I have never had better spicy tuna. It is brilliant, and made of magic and rainbows and unicorn smiles. You don’t even know.

So we get back to the house after sushi, and I’m dying for the anniversary present which Jason cruelly kept from me until that night. He grabs a gift bag and tells me to go up on the roof. We love it up there. Anyway. Once we’re up, he hands me the bag, and I’m tearing through the tissue paper, finding NOTHING, and getting a little upset with said NOTHING, until I hear Jason say “You’re so obsessed with that bag that you haven’t even noticed I’m on one knee.”

Oh yes.

THAT kind of one knee.

There was crying on both ends, and he asked me, and it was absolutely perfect. Oh, he’s a tricksy one. Distracting me with gift wrap so he could take a ring out of his pocket. You win this time, Gadget.

The wedding is a long ways off, mostly because we don’t have the money for one, but also because we’d like to keep the same anniversary. There will most likely be a handfasting at faire, so we can have all our friends with us, and still be able to have a ceremony with just family. Why have one wedding when you can have two, right?

Right now, we’re just enjoying the word ‘fiancee’ and gearing up for my graduation in June. There’s always some kind of excitement going on here. I only hope we can keep things exciting for the next eighty or so years.

In which I am surely a bigot

Sunday, March 14th, 2010

I just read an article on AOL Black Voices entitled “Why are so many Black Women single?”

Some of the reasons, provided by the author of said article:

Marriage is for white people
Marriage is hazardous to the health of black women
Standards of black women are too high
The perception of black women is negative
Lack of respect in the black community between men and women
Black women should learn to date outside their race
Black women should lower their expectations and focus less on superficial qualities like looks, money, and body.
Black women need to stop having babies out of wedlock

However, none of these address what the author deems to be the real issue at hand (spelling mistakes are from the original article):

“African-american women and men are not cookie cutter figures who fit into the same mold that worked for white america. As slaves we were forced to accept the religions and practices of our white masters, even though they were foreign to us. We have been taught to prey at the alter of money and financial success, and have lost site of our true familial identity.”

I’m choosing to ignore the blatant racism there and instead share some of my own. The comment that I was going to post to the article, before Jason talked me out of doing so:

“Perhaps more black women would be able to find mates if they stopped clinging to poor speaking and writing skills that, for whatever reason, have been deemed “cultural”. I be this, he seen that, complete lack of grammar and punctuation…for the love of Pete, speak like an adult! Unless a man is looking for sex and sex only, he isn’t going to want to waste time on someone who sounds completely uneducated. Furthermore, stop blaming everything on the white man. Everyone has oppressed everyone. Africans fueled triangular trade and white Americans denied employment to the Irish. Have some self respect and take responsibility for your own actions; it’s much more attractive than someone who pins all of their problems on “the man”. And if we’re going there, shouldn’t “the man” be black now? The leader of the free world is African American…does that mean all of the poor whites can blame their problems on black society? That seems to be the tradition. Finally, any man of any race is less likely to engage in a serious relationship with a woman who already has children. Enough people have brought up the issue of welfare. Putting that aside, black women are more likely to have multiple children out of wedlock than white women are. This can be solved easily: USE A CONDOM. You can get them for free. Most cities have a Planned Parenthood office–GO THERE. All comes back to taking responsibility for your actions. If you want the fairy tale, don’t be an idiot. Get an education, figure out what you want in a partner (NOT a baby-daddy), and then procreate. I promise, it works out well that way.”

Any thoughts to add?

Sex symbol I am not.

Thursday, February 18th, 2010

There’s this thing I’ve always wanted to do, but I’ve always been too afraid to try. I’ve been working out with Carmen Electra’s fit-to-strip dvds, I absolutely love them, but I’ve shied away from the striptease workouts to focus on the muscle toning and hip hop. I’ve done this for the same reason that I would never look at myself in the mirror when I took pole dancing lessons: I don’t know how to feel sexy. I don’t. Truly. That slow cat craw makes me feel like an idiot. I blush when I toss my hair, and when I swing my leg up over a chair, I only notice cellulite and the way stockings make my thighs pucker. It’s like a little girl putting on her mother’s makeup and, when she goes to show off how pretty she is, is told that she’s done it all wrong. I’m not smoky or sultry or whatever the heck you have to be to be a sex symbol. I figure that if I try to be those things, it’ll be a pretty transparent act…laughable, in all probability. Not really my area.

Anyway. This thing I wanted to try…I always thought it would be super fun to do a lap dance/tease for a boyfriend. Fun if I were someone else, of course. But the Carmen Electra dvds have a pretty simple one, so, this morning, I ignored that I’m not the aforementioned adjectives, and learned the thing. Had my little costume, practiced a few times without the dvd before I sat J down.

It started out well. Very well, actually. But then I got nervous, because the tie wouldn’t come off right. I lost my count, got it back, and it was going well again. Near the end of the routine, I sat on J’s lap and leaned over him, creating a sleek perpendicular line, flicked my fedora off, and sat back up with all the grace that my ballet training has granted me.

That was what was supposed to happen, anyway.

In reality, I leaned back, used his shoulder for support instead of the chair, and lost my balance completely. I flailed, trying to correct myself, did a half somersault off my boyfriend, and landed in a very un-sexy heap. I wanted to laugh, and J started to giggle, but I just couldn’t, because it’s exactly what I thought would happen if I ever tried to be something other than plain old me. Big steaming pile of fail. But then, right before I lost it completely, my fantastic boyfriend yelled “No! No, don’t be upset, I’m so turned on!” So….yeah. I picked myself up, said “Choreography is overrated anyway” and finished what I started. Not the way I planned, but I went through with it.

Afterwards, Jason mentioned (without any prompting from yours truly) that it was a bit of a relief that I screwed it up. That strippers never do anything for him because they look too planned, and I looked like a real person. Klutzy dorky me. And, as it turns out, boys laugh when they’re bashful, which is apparently something that happens when girls they like take their clothes off. They get nervous and have little girl giggles too! Who knew? Next you’ll tell me something really outrageous, like boys have emotions or something.

No, I’m not Megan Fox or Jessica Alba or whatever. I am a dork. I run into the same shelves and doorjams every day. I don’t have flickable hair or a poochless stomach. But that’s okay. It works for me. As it turns out, it works for Jason too…I’ll just have to try for a better dismount, next time.

A toast

Wednesday, December 30th, 2009

When I was six years old, I found a chubby little blonde girl playing alone at recess. I asked if she wanted to play with me on the jungle gym. We have been friends since that moment, together for choir concerts and dance shows, through summer camp, though our first loves, through the death of another dear friend. We don’t see each other much anymore, but I still love her as a sister, and I will always remember us as the best pair of friends that our little corner of the world has ever, or will ever see.

Tomorrow, that chubby blonde girl (who has grown to be a sleek and lovely redhead) is getting married. Because of several outside circumstances, I will not be there. It breaks my heart knowing that I won’t see Chelsea kiss her husband for the first time, but as an honorary bridesmaid, I would be neglecting my duties if I didn’t offer some sort of toast.

My Chelsea: We have taken so many of life’s journeys together, hand in hand, and attached at the hip. I’m sorry that I can’t be there when you embark on this new adventure, but I am confident that you find all the happiness in the world. And when things get hard, because that’s the way of marriage, I don’t know of a stronger will or a better heart that will face the challenges head on and always shine victoriously. I love you with all my heart, and I am so proud of you. And, though you’re the only one who will understand this, I hope that your married life is everything that a Unicorn Princess deserves.

Love the one you’re with

Tuesday, December 15th, 2009

Okay, first, I’m sorry about the banner that makes your eyes bleed. Really. It’s being worked on, I swear. I just want a pretty and quirky header that doesn’t involve my picture. It will happen…soonish. Hopefully this week.

Alright, now that that’s out of the way, something that has been confusing the holy hell out of me, along with something that has shed some light. These two things are only slightly related.

At work the other night, a woman and her two teenage daughters came through my line. All were wearing Twilight shirts (I promise this is not another Twilight rant, as much as I love going on those). Two were pretty standard, but one of the girls was wearing a shirt that read “I love boys who SPARKLE”.

I get that this is a strictly Twilight reference, but I think it speaks to something much bigger. Look, emo vampires. Sparkly, sappy, emotionally confused vampires are now desired by teenage girls and, sadly, grown women. A few years ago, we had the whole metro-sexual movement, which started with guys taking care of their appearance and ended with them looking homosexual. There are books upon books upon even more “self-help” books that have nothing to do with helping yourself and everything to do with making your male significant other more sensitive and understanding. And all of this begs the question:

Ladies, when did we stop wanting our men to be men?

Don’t get me wrong, I love that J cares about my wants and needs and feelings. But that isn’t a masculine or feminine thing; that’s something called “not being a douche”. But if I wanted to be in a relationship with someone who got regular manicures and pedicures, someone who likes the sappy romances as much as I do, or someone who shared their feelings in the same way that I do, I’d be a lesbian. And it’s not that I’m out here trying to assign gender roles, because at the end of the day, that’s a personal choice, and no amount of stereotyping or societal pressure should get in the way of what makes a person feel comfortable in his or her own skin.

What it comes down to, really, is that so many women are trying to make their men better, which a) should not be attempted, because you really loved him, you would love him for who he is, not who you want him to be, and b) cannot possibly be accomplished by trying to make him more like your girl friends. Women have people who listen and empathize and take our side regardless of the situation–they’re called our mothers, sisters, female roommates, whatever. If you have a vagina, you probably know someone else with a vagina who you can relate to. That is not your boyfriend/husband.

Now, I wanted some male perspective on this topic, so I baited J with this topic (which I know gets him going on insightful yet hilarious tirades), and this is what ensued…though it has been edited for length:

“We [men] are designed to kill and survive and provide. That’s it. And while we have a little mini-man or woman baking inside the oven of our mate, it is our duty to ensure that it survives…so, the whole notion in today’s society that we’re supposed to be pussified, that we’re supposed to be equal in every way, that we’re supposed to bend over backwards to get in touch with our ‘feminine side’, that we need to understand women by adopting their emotional outputs and habits and behaviors and get rid of our own is utter nonsense. It’s ridiculous. If women were supposed to be attracted to that kind of personality, they’d be attracted to other women, and our species would never procreate. We are made to be attracted to the opposite sex because of our differences. Most women I know actually get off on knowing that they have some poor, useless, sap of an animal who would kill themselves just to know that they’ve provided for their woman. This is why women are attracted to men…who will always provide, and will sometimes have to put his emotions aside so he can take care of business. This whole metro-movement, this Twilight crap, the whole feminist movement where women have to take charge, this is why relationships have such a high failure rate. The man who takes care of his woman’s needs, but doesn’t show many emotions, is far more in touch with her than the man who just listens to her talk.”

I can’t say it better. I have a smart man, what can I say. And I agree with him on every one of those points. A lot of women may be up in arms about this, saying that their man doesn’t understand them, that he doesn’t know how to communicate, and that it’s absolutely essential for them to try and change the way their male s/o acts and reacts. Maybe your man doesn’t ‘get’ you. But maybe you don’t get him, either, which is a sneakily-crafted segway into a book I read not too long ago called For Women Only. It discusses several topics, including men and their obsessive and compelling need to be providers (which I did not understand prior to this book), the way they think about romance (see previous aside), what it actually means when someone says that “men are visual” (again, previous aside, and one more thing: now that I have this newfound knowledge, I’d like to make an apology to any of my male friends who have thought about me naked against their will. I swear, that was never my intention. Thank you.), etc. Some of it was common sense, some of it was reassuring, and most of it was mind boggling. I didn’t realize that J’s needing to provide for his family, most men’s need to provide, is an obsession, not a macho beating-of-the-chest spectacle of manhood. I didn’t understand that most men actively try to not be aware of the other attractive woman in the room, and that when they are, the feelings their experiencing are not sexual or lustful and have little to no bearing on their feelings for you. I didn’t know that a husband wants his wife to exercise because her wanting to look good makes him feel loved and desired, not because he wants to be with someone who looks like a twenty-year-old supermodel. And I bet most women don’t know that their husband wants to be romantic, but is often so afraid that they’ll fail to make us happy that they won’t even try. They aren’t the cads and the pigs that the media and society paints them to be. There are some awful, cruel men in the world, many of whom I’ve had the displeasure of meeting. But that isn’t because they are male; it’s because they’re human. The best advice I have to offer is to give your man the benefit of the doubt and pick up this book. It is Christian-based, but the principles apply to men and women of every faith. It helped me understand how Jason thinks about me and how he loves me, which, incredibly enough, made me love him even more. What I’m trying to say is, before you go on a crusade to force your boyfriend to speak your language, see what he’s actually saying in his language. There is common, lovely ground to be had.

I’m a homophobe! YAY!

Monday, November 2nd, 2009

Something really needs to be said about this whole gay trend.

If you’re gay, you’re a person. Lesbian? Still a person. Bisexual, Transgendered, Transvestite, or Straight. All people. Samey-samey.

So, tell me, why do we need to find undertones in classic literature that points to a character’s or author’s homosexuality? And, look, I’m not talking about Oscar Wilde, okay? That right there is pretty obvious. I’m talking Rip van Winkle. Or Batman (Batman is totally a classic, don’t judge). Screw homosexuality, what about sexuality? Last quarter, a young character in a book we were reading fell out of a tree and got mud on her underwear. My professor informed us that her muddy bottom symbolized her sexuality. I’m sorry, I thought that a ten-year-old getting dirty meant that….she was acting like a ten-year-old and making more laundry for her mother…because that’s what they do.

Today, I maintained that Robin (the first, aka Dick Grayson, aka Nightwing), Batman’s sidekick was not meant to be homosexual. That the relationships between Batman and all five Robins was one of parental….sometimes affection. Often annoyance. The tight clothing? All superheroes wear that. Because baggy shirts and pants might get caught on something. Like the villain. Not very productive when fighting crime. Also, not a sign of wanting to have sex with someone who has the same type of junk.

A gay superhero might be….oh, right. Silhouette. The lesbian from Watchmen. She was gay. How do I know this? Because the author said so. In the book. And she shared a bed with another woman in the film version. Her costume had nothing to do with it. Notice how speculation is totally unnecessary here, therefore quelling the debate before it begins.

Back to the main point–because I was so determined to prove my point of there being no homosexual relationship between Batman and Robin, it was insinuated by another member of the debate that I am a sadly closed-minded homophobe and bigot.

That ridiculous character judgment aside…have we really reached a point where there are only extremes? Is there a ‘with us or against us’ mindset in terms of sexuality? I don’t agree, therefore I hate or fear gay people? I think Women’s Studies is a stupid department to have in a university; do I hate women? I don’t think there should be a label like “hate crime”, because if you’re going out of your way to hurt someone, you probably hate them, regardless of what race, sex, gender, orientation, etc. So, that means I hate everyone, right?

At least I hate everyone equally.

The shit, it is being lost.

Saturday, August 29th, 2009

There are dogs outside our window that howl every night, usually around ten. They got an early start tonight, and I want to howl right along with them.

As a customer, I consider myself pretty easy to deal with. I never raise my voice when dealing with someone on the phone. I do everything I can to be straight-forward, but also pleasant. I have seen people handle customer services reps by yelling at them for hours and getting frustrated to the point of blood vessels popping, and I have decided that this is not a method I wish to use. It gets things done, admittedly, but I don’t like yelling, and if the person on the other end of the phone can help me, I’d rather have them do so because I made their day a little better, not a whole lot worse.

I say this first because, damnit, there have so many times lately where I’ve wanted to reach through the phone and strangle people because they apparently incapable of doing something simple, like, oh I don’t know, THEIR JOBS.

J’s AF recruiter is currently on the top of my list. Bring me this paperwork, and you can take the test. Okay, awesome, we bring the paperwork. Oh, now we need something else. Done. Now more. We do that too, every time we come in we need something else to prove that my boyfriend should be able to join, even though the last twenty-four things were supposed to be THE LAST THING we needed to hand over before he takes his ASVAB.

Here’s an idea: as a military recruiter, maybe you should make a list of EVERYTHING A PERSON COULD EVER POSSIBLY NEED TO JOIN THE MILITARY. Then you can hand people that list and be like, hey, take a look, get all these things, come back, and we’ll be good. That seems like it would be more convenient for everyone involved, unlike this dance we’ve been doing FOR MONTHS.

It might be a photo finish for The Biggest Pain In My Ass contest, though. Because, my dear Internet, there is this company, you see, a horrid and awful company that has come into our lives and prances around in our misery and frustration like a gleeful troll. Not a pretty troll with a gemstone in it’s bellybutton, oh no, but the kind of troll that drools and eats boogers and smells a bit like the dead goats that it keeps under it’s rotting bridge.

This company was supposed to be helpful, and we believed it. There was this thing we needed to do so that my boy could walk and move like a normal human being, and the company said YES! OF COURSE! DO THESE MIRACULOUS THINGS AND WE WILL TAKE CARE OF IT!

Oooh, but this company is tricksy, and after we did aforementioned miraculous things, the company cackled Bwahaha, you fools! You did not fill out and send us the magical form, so you must give us a million dollars dipped in a calf’s blood and the soul of your first born child to pay for the procedures!

It was at this point we asked, durrr, what magical form? Oh, the magical form that was supposed to be sent. The one that was never sent. Not from the company, not from J’s workplace that recommended the miraculous treatments in the first place. No one had seen this form, ever, not even a little. Nor could it be found on you, sweet Internet. This magical form is very elusive.

So J, being the proactive guy that he is, called this company. Of course we will mail you the form!, they promised. You will get it by the end of the week!

End of week. No form.

Another call. Still polite, but a bit more firm. They’ll call back.

No call back.

Again. Yes! Oh, we are so sorry! The form, the form of hope and wonder, it will be in your mail box by Friday at the latest!

That was a little over two weeks ago.

Monday, I will be calling. And I will demand, calmly, to speak to someone in a position of power. I will explain this all over again, and explain that the form will either a) be mailed first class and in our box by THE VERY NEXT DAY, or b)emailed or faxed while I am on the line. If nothing comes of that, there will be a complaint, a loud and biting one, because here’s the thing: I don’t like being rude. I don’t like causing problems. But there are only so many times when you are allowed to brush someone off and give them the shaft. You work in customer service. I am a customer. SERVE ME.

And now I have to slowly pull myself together. J will be home from work soon-ish, and only one of us is allowed to go batshit insane at a time.

Dinner tonight: still unsure. Could be tuna salad, could be chili, but it’ll be something smaller. We’re trying to keep big meals before eight.

This post has been brought to you by the letters H and yperbole.

The idiot has returned

Sunday, August 23rd, 2009

There have been quite a few days lately where I just feel like I’m doing everything wrong. Every now and again, I find myself wondering if I’ll get better at being a girlfriend. I say things without thinking, and it has really begun to show me what a selfish person I can be. That was never a word I thought I’d use to describe myself. Being an only child, though, I got used to having a lot of things done my way, on my schedule. I’d like to say that I always do the best that I can, but frankly, sometimes that isn’t true, and I get mean and snappy. I don’t know how to fix this; the only thing I can think to do is take stock of the stupid things I did yesterday and make a point to not do those stupid things today. If I do new stupid things….well, that’s what tomorrow is for, I suppose.

J has been wonderful about everything. As big of a pain in the ass as I can be, he is an equally big sweethart. We both have our moments, but we do the best we can to be patient and understanding with each other, and we never say anything that we’d regret later. Can’t really ask for more than that.

Aside from those hiccups, things are going well. I’m still out of work, which is the main cause of my stress, but my CBEST scores will be available on Tuesday and I’m hoping that I’ll be able to find work as a substitute. I have a couple backup plans, but nothing that I like nearly as much. Though, if we’re talking about what I like, I’d much prefer to stay at home like I have been, taking care of the house and the cooking. I’ve been cooking dinner just about every night, and I absolutely adore it. I’ve recently discovered that I have my father’s knack for improvisation in the kitchen. This is usually out of necessity–how is it that I go shopping once a week, but there are still never enough ingredients for a single dish? Oh well. Tonight, vodka-poached salmon and sweet potato fries.

I know it’s been a while, but I hope someone is still out there, reading all my nonsense.

Movin on up

Tuesday, July 7th, 2009

I’d like to note that I have lived in the same place my whole life. Not the same town. Not even the same house. But the same room. The room next to my parents, next to the computer room that was once my sister’s bedroom, long before I was born. The room that held my crib and my changing tabe now houses my grown-up bed and hundered or so books. And because I was raised as a only child, the only person who slept in or kept her stuff in that room was moi.

I say this because I want you, people of the Internet, to fully grasp how big a deal my moving out is going to be.

I’m essentially living with Jason. I go home on weekends to work, but given current circumstances, I’m not sure if that will be cost effective much longer. I’m waiting to hear about a job out here in the Boonies…we shall see.

The idea of sharing a living space with someone, as wonderful as it’s been so far, is completely baffling. He asked me to move in, but I still feel this weird sense of guilt putting half of my closest next to his, and keeping my jewelry box next to our toothbrushes. Having an ‘our’ room, ‘our’ bathroom, ‘our’ space….I know it’s ‘ours’, but I keep feeling like I’m in the way.

We’re happy, everythings brilliant….I guess there’s just a period of adjustment. Anyone else have similiar experiences?

He’s going to be the death of me, I swear

Sunday, June 7th, 2009

Over the last few weeks, I’ve come to the conclusion that having a boyfriend is not entirely unlike raising a teenager. I realize how ridiculous that statement may sound, and I’m sure that someday, when I happen to be the mother of a surly thirteen-year-old, I will look back at this post and want to slap the past me for being so naive. For the time being, though, just try to follow me on this one.

I’ve mentioned this to a few people, but for those who are unaware, my boyfriend is going to be joining the United States Air Force. Currently, he’s playing phone-tag with the recruiter, but there’s at least a 90% chance of this actually happen within the next two or three months.

Jason is too tall to be a fighter pilot. Airmen are rarely sent to the Middle East, unless they are part of a security force, and even then, tours only last about six months. He would actually have to try to get hurt for anything to happen to him. As my dear ex-Navy friend Tim said: “It’s not like he’s joining the goddamn Marines.”

Logically, I know everything will be fine. Except, there’s this thing where I’m a worrier. I was born into a family of worriers. Worrying is our art, our craft, and we take it very seriously. So while there is every possibility that Jason will be at a desk somewhere in Arizona, way the hell out of harms way, my mind is absolutely certain that he is going to be shipped to Afghanistan and shot. Or blown up. Probably both.

As if that weren’t enough, now the boy wants to sell his car and buy a motorcycle. Now, financially, this is a good idea. Hell, I’ve always wanted a motorcycle. And I’m allowed to have one. He, however, is not, because every time I think about it, I suddenly turn into my mother and begin spouting off accident statistics. Because, obviously, anyone who ever owned a motorcycle EVER has died in a horrific accident of twisted metal and hellfire, just bloody and gory enough to be featured in one of those god-awful Red Pavement videos that we had to watch in Drivers Ed.

Moments like those, it’s a toss up between whether or not I want to kiss the boy or strangle him with my own two hands, because I really don’t know if my love for him outweighs the frustration he causes me. How dare he try and make a life for himself when I’m busy trying to KEEP HIM ALIVE.

But then there are moments when he does the simplest things, like insisting that I lock the door when he leaves and I’m by myself, because he needs to know that I’m safe…or how whatever house we’re in (usually his) is referred to as ‘home’, just because we’re both there. In those moments, I have never felt more like a woman or more loved by a man. Those are the moments that make every *headdesk* and *facepalm* and “Really?! Really???” completely worth it.