Escape The Friendzone: A Choose-Your-Own-Adventure Story

(This is a semi-color coded story.  If your first answer is A1, follow the red.  If your first answer is B1, follow the green.)

You’re really lonely one night and tired of single-dom.  As a millennial, you do what everyone’s doing:

You download Tinder. 

You’re swiping through a few hots and a lot of nots.  One person, however, catches your eye.  They make self-deprecating jokes in their bio and there are cute pictures of them with fluffy animals.  Instinctively, you swipe right.  A few moments of swiping continue to go by, and the little voice in your head says It’ll never happen, it’ll never happen, it’ll never happen. 

But then…

It does happen!  You make a match.  The pressure’s on for someone to say something. Do you…

A1.) Compliment their listed Spotify anthem

B1.) Let them say something first.  Your bio should make them come to you 

If you chose A1…  Congratulations, their Spotify anthem is “All Star” by Smashmouth and you’ve just asserted yourself as a total dweeb.  Not to fear; dweebs are a delicate and delightful breed.  You anticipate their response with joy, only to be disappointed when they say “Haha thx” and you have to ask another question to get the ball rolling.  Do you…

A.) Ask them to tell you more about what they like to do
B.) Unmatch them.  No need to waste time on someone who can’t carry a conversation.

If you chose B…. You didn’t even make it to the friendzone.  Game over. 

If you chose A…They eventually tell you about how they play guitar and do stand-up from time to time.  You have hope; if they do stand-up, surely they must be funny.  You ask them to tell you their favorite joke, and you force a laugh when they hit the punchline.  You’re an understanding person who likes to take time to get to know people, so you get this person’s Snapchat ID.  In your first Snap to them, do you…

A.) Send them a picture of what’s in front of you
B.) Send them a selfie

If you chose A… Chances are they’re going to ask what you’re doing, and you can prolong your conversation on your interests.  On the inside, your yearning to talk about something else.  Maybe they’re just bad at digital communication?  You suggest meeting up so that you can get a better feel of the situation.  Do you…

A.) Suggest a time and place

B.) Let them suggest a time and place

If you chose A… A coffee-shop date is set.  When you meet them, they’re surprisingly… boring.  That’s what you get for not going with your gut and pursuing someone you couldn’t hold a conversation with.  F.  Friendzoned, if you’re even worthy of that much commitment. 

If you chose B… They pick a sketchy afternoon activity: a nature walk.  You realize you’ve never met this person before and that it’s dangerous to just meet up with them on some vaguely established trail, so you send your friends all the information you have on them.  When you meet up, it turns out they’re not creepy, nor did they intend on being creepy.  They’re just awkward.  You’re awkward, too, so you hope you can be adorkable together.  It turns out, however, that you genuinely cannot have a conversation outside of your interests.  F+.  It isn’t a terrible date, but you have no intentions of getting past the friendzone at this point. Your story is over before it really ever began.

If you chose B… They think u cute.  You already knew that, given that they swiped right on you, but it’s nice to hear them say it again.  You remind them they’re also cute, because fair is fair.  You flirtatiously suggest having the Two Cutes meet up, and they agree to it.  Do you…

A.) Suggest a time and place

B.) Let them suggest a time and place

If you chose A… You tell them to meet you at a local bar.  If the date is bad, at least the burgers won’t be.  When you see them walk through the door, you pat yourself on the back for making such a good decision.

If you chose B… You low-key stress about what you’ll wear and what you’ll order to eat at the restaurant they chose.  All things considered, however, you relax.  You know you can carry a nice enough conversation with this person, so you’re confident you can make it through the night.

(scroll past B1 to finish your story.)

If you chose B1…  They notice some obscure Harry Potter regalia in the background of one of your pictures, and they ask you what house you’re in.  They assure that it’s vital for you to have been sorted on Pottermore, not somewhere like Buzzfeed or Quizzes.  Your heart is pounding; you think you’ve found your Tinderella.  The rest of your conversation turns into playful debate over dumb stuff, like “Who’s the best NFL team?” or “Does pineapple belong on pizza?”  After you two finally agree on something (that something being Beyoncé is a damn queen,) they give you their number for further conversation.  The ball is in your court.  Do you…

A.) Text them and promise to advertise their number to everyone you know
B.) Feel awkward about them having your number, so you keep messaging them through the Tinder app.

If you chose A… Texting soon proves you have a lot in common.  They like DIY projects, prefer dogs over cats, and admit that their guilty pleasure is ice cream.  This person certainly has good taste, and you long to meet them.  Eventually, you both throw subtle hints back and forth until you agree on a place and time to meet.  Do you…

If you chose B… The conversation still stands, but it’s not as frequent as before.  The same jokes are made and the atmosphere is still lively, but it isn’t as genuine as it used to be.  In an effort to save a potentially good relationship, you extend an offer to meet up.  Do you…

A.) Tell them it’ll be casual

B.) Open up like the honest freak you are and subtly admit you’re nervous

If you chose A… Your date is set at a local festival and you’re excited to meet them.  You have no expectations, other than to have a nice evening.

If you chose B… It’s ok! People like honesty, and odds are they’re nervous, too.  Just don’t let that nervousness overcome your soon-to-be date at the bowling alley.

—-

In a nutshell, your next few weeks of talking to each other are excellent.  This person gets you, and you feel like you get them.  Eventually, mutually understanding each other becomes a threat: will you allow yourself to ease into a relationship, or will you become so comfortable that it’s not even fun anymore.  Even worse— will you become so comfortable that you’re afraid of it?

As time passes, one of you decides to take a step back— but when someone says “take a step back,” they most often mean abandon the project and run for the hills.  For whatever reason, that level of trust and comfort isn’t welcome at the moment in one or both of your lives.

No matter what you chose, you would’ve never made it.  The friendzone isn’t an attack on your character, but a defense of theirs (and vice versa if you’re the one implementing it.)  Being vulnerable in an intimate setting is just too much to handle sometimes.  Take a deep breath and know there’s nothing you could’ve done to change the outcome.

If you’re in the friendzone, I get it.  It Sucks, capital S.  Dwell on it, obsess over it, cry about it, but let it go eventually.  You don’t want to be with someone who doesn’t want to be with you, as generic as that sounds.  I know you’re thinking But I do, and you know nothing about my life, blargh blargh blargh, and if you hold out for something to change, power to you.  Just stay strong if things don’t change.

If you’re the friendzoner, for the love of God, be more considerate.  Don’t keep talking to them right away like everything is ok.  Don’t send them Snaps of every day life— even though you’re just trying to be friendly, I guarantee that’ll just give them hope to hang on to.  Sorry, but now is not the time for hope.  If you really want to be their friend, come back casually in a month or so.  Very, very casually.  CASUALLY.  Or, don’t come back at all.       

‘Til next time, y’all,

Lizzie

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Your Period Is Valid

Before I start, let me get this out of the way: there is nothing shameful about menstruation.  It is a human experience, not just another stigmatized female condition.  A period is a period, period. Openly discussing it shouldn’t be a problem unless you’re genuinely squeamish at the mention of blood.  If that’s the case, this post isn’t for you.

There were two first-ever days of my period.  The very first day, at 11 years old, I was exhausted and had no idea what was going on.  A quarter-sized amount of blood graced my underwear and dried to a light-brown before I noticed it.  I used the bathroom when I got home from school, and innocently (and hilariously) thought, “Did I poop my pants today?”  I changed underwear and that was that. 

The second day, I was lining up with my fifth grade class to go to PE.  As an eternally weak-bladdered individual, I decided to leave my place in line to tinkle before a highly anticipated elementary dodgeball tournament. In the bathroom, I saw it— another drop of “poop,” strangely in the exact same place as the day before.  I tried rubbing it out, but to my dismay, it was there to stay.  It wasn’t until I washed my hands that I had my “aha!” moment. 

When you’re 11 years old, things that make you adult-ish give you a sense of pride.  Beaming, I exited the bathroom and returned to my place in line behind a friend.  I leaned over into her ear and whispered, “Hey, I think I started my period.” 

She seemed as happy for me as I was, but after the general hoorahs she suggested that I tell the teachers.  I hesitated; I was unopposed to free bleeding— after all, I had no idea pads existed at the time, and was convinced tampons were for actual women.  At the last minute, I quietly confessed my speculation to a teacher walking by.

It was a good enough excuse to skip dodgeball that day.  She asked me a series of questions to make sure we were dealing with a period, and not some other anomaly.  After explaining that the same spot had stained my underwear two days in a row, the beginning of my time as a menstruating female was confirmed. I was then cautiously handed a panty liner.  “You’re sure you know how to use this?”  Blinded by childish pride, I nodded and skipped off to the bathroom. 

In fact, I did not know how to use a liner or pad.  For the next three years, I put pads on sideways and folded the ends under the mid point of my underwear.  It wasn’t until my mom accidentally walked in during installation that I learned the truth. 

My periods quickly started to consume me, and fiercely destroyed my life. 

Imagine being 12 years old and pleading to your mom, “Don’t make me go to school today,” because you feel physically unable to get out of bed. 

Imagine having a male principal in middle school, and having to ask him for ibuprofen while barely standing up straight, clutching your stomach in agony.  Imagine your disappointment when he forbids the teachers from giving you more than two pills.  At 13, you’re used to taking 12 pills a day during the first few days of your period. 

Imagine the countless lies I had to tell in order to be excused from the classroom, or to hide away from my friends in the bathroom.  “I think I have a stomach flu.”  “I’m running a low fever.”  “I have food poisoning.” 

I would’ve rather experienced all of those things, but I was stuck with debilitating cramps.  To the outside world, my cramps weren’t enough.  The fact that I couldn’t walk, that I couldn’t focus on anything, didn’t matter unless I could translate my pain into a “normal” experience.

Several years later, this is still the case.  Within the last year, I was rushed to the hospital because of my cramps.  That same day, I held a straightening iron to my belly— yes, that very hot styling device that straightens women’s hair— in an actual attempt to burn myself so that my contractions would maybe calm down. 

What did I tell the professionals I missed meetings with? 

“I’m sorry, I’ve fallen very ill today.” 

Such words don’t give that amount of pain justice.  Worse, sometimes people like to ask what’s wrong.  I’d like to be honest and say “my uterus!”  But a fear of not being understood overcomes me; more predominantly, a fear of someone not trying to understand overcomes me.  So I make up something simple to cover the truth. 

I had to go through four different types of birth control to find my saving grace.  The first three were all pills, and each of my experiences with the pill eventually led to throwing up my breakfast, every day. 

It was inexpressibly terrible to only have one week out of the month to see how my medicine was working.  I would give it a trial period of a few months, then admit defeat and face my frustrations again. 

I began perusing birth control when I was 16.  I didn’t find the right one until I was 21.  Had I given up the fight, I probably wouldn’t be able to write this to you, on this day.  I’d be curled up in bed holding fire to fire.   

Battling off my cramps has been one of the biggest victories of my life, but a new challenge arose when I started birth control: battling off opinions. 

Think of it, a 16 year old girl who just wants control over her body, with these questions and claims thrown in her face:

-“If you start taking birth control now, you’re going to be infertile when you’re an adult.”

-“Birth control can make you even more moody on your period; are you sure you want that?”

-“Birth control should only be used when you’re sexually active.”

“Birth control shouldn’t be used as a contraceptive.  That’s an act against God.”

-“Don’t tell anyone you’re on birth control.  They might think you’re a slut.” 

The list goes on and on, but these were the most pointed indictments.  I started wondering (and still wonder to this day): Why THE HELL is my pain STILL not seen as enough?  Also, why are so many people concerned with how I take care of my body? Shouldn’t they be happy that I’m taking steps to be more comfortable with myself?

It wasn’t until after my recent trip to the ER that I started regularly using tampons.  For a long while, I wasn’t a fan because I thought they were uncomfortable, but the assumption was “She’s never going to have anything stuck up inside her.”  I’ve actually had someone say that to my face— she was joking, but I was considerably offended.  Let me bluntly lay this down for you, in case you didn’t already know: how I take care of the downstairs does not signify how I throw a basement party.  More simply, for those of you who need cruder terms: tampons ≠ sex.

I eventually gained trust in tampons, then abandoned them for the Lena cup.  Typically, people like to brag about how they’re saving the environment and their bank account with menstrual cups, but I just want to brag about how much it has changed my life.  I don’t feel it whatsoever, and I can leave it in for 12 hours— can I get an amen? 

It isn’t that graceful at first— I can honestly tell you it has popped up in my face and has bounced into the toilet— but you get there.  To the young women reading this right now, I urge you to give it a chance.  You will have moments of horror where you think it has been lost in the great abyss, or feel that your soul is being pulled out through your cervix by a micro-plunger, but once you get the hang of it (and you will get a hang of it!) I promise it’s worth it.  Need I remind you again?  12 hours!  Furthermore, I’m happy to say I woke up to soft white sheets this morning. They evaded the likes of a murder scene. 

Jokes aside, I know menstruation can be terrible.  I also know that it can be empowering.  However you feel about it, know this: It’s increasingly important for women to claim their bodies.  Our pain is enough and we need to be able to talk about it. Get loud about it!  You’re experience is valid.  You are more than enough.    

‘Til next time, y’all.

Lizzie

Hannah Montana: Friend or Faux?

Before you ask, yes.  I meant to spell it that way.

The year is 2007.  I am a sprouting 12 year old girl, awkward in shape and sound.  Anything I can ever talk about are the Jonas Brothers or Hannah Montana.  When I learn that I can send them fan mail via my Dad’s new computer, I seize the day.  This is my time, I tell myself as I gingerly put my small hands on a keyboard specifically designed for big hands. 

I don’t remember exactly how it went, but I do remember the opening line going a little something like this:

“Dear Miley or Hannah or ???, 

I’ve written a song for you.”

With a beautiful, blissful, childlike ignorance, I added:

“You don’t have to pay me, I just want to hear my song sung by someone else.”

I proceeded to write about frustrations, rocking on, and making life what you want it to be.  Sound familiar?  Maybe you’re thinking of this:

Boom. Taking it back to the present tense, in the past, in 2007.

A few months later, Hannah is singing my song…. I think.  I’m unable to confirm anything because I don’t have a copy of the email OR the song— apparently 12 year old me thinks lyrics can be written on the fly and memorized forever— so I just sit and listen.  One thing I know for certain: this has the same gist as my song did.  Another thing that is certain: the musical arrangement gets preteen Lizzie boppin’.  Confused over how to feel, I ultimately relish the moment because life’s what you make it.

Flash forward ten years later: Writing lyrics puts me in agony.  Starting a blog fills me with anticipation.  But here I am/ writing to you/ the sky’s more blue/ in Malibu than it is in Indianapolis.  Seriously, this place has a Great Grey Dome Designed by The Gods covering it 99% of the time, giving us either rain, tornadoes, or a shit ton of snow.  Currently, there’s a light fog outside of my apartment, and the thoughts in my head start to mimic its soft movements— swirling, swirling, swirling— until they resurface this random memory from my childhood.  I am driven to compose another message.  This time, it will be to the world.  This time, everyone will know how I singlehandedly undermined The Disney Channel as a 12 year old girl: by sending bomb-ass fan mail to Hannah Montana.

A good portion of my teenage years were riddled with the question, Did I or didn’t I?  Alas, as epic as it would be to claim rights over one of the most hoppin’ children’s jams of 2007, I simply can’t do it.  The guy who is credited for writing it also wrote songs for Big Time Rush, Hilary Duff, and Kelly Clarkson.  I guess that’s ample evidence that he’s kind of a big deal and definitely more songwriter-worthy than 12 year old me. 

What a ride.  ’Til next time, y’all.

Lizzie

Arroz con Pollo

Contrary to popular belief, Arroz con Pollo is not simply chicken, rice, and queso. 

Wait, you already knew there was more to it than that?  Do me a favor and pretend you didn’t, that way you can share an aha moment with me at the end of this post. 

Anyways, Arroz con Pollo is actually full of all the good stuff that gets your system going, yet also slows you down.  This slow down has me wholeheartedly motivated to do nothing but lay in bed the rest of the night. 

I write this to you as I contemplate going to the gym.  This would mean a 3 day streak of working out, which is how long it takes to make a streak with someone on Snapchat.  I have a hard enough time committing to sending someone a picture every day, let alone making myself sweat on purpose.  But hey, as long as I can watch HGTV while pedaling away, I guess I’m good to go.

whatrutalkingabout

All of this blabber has actually been a terrible lead up to what I really want to talk about: writing.  You see, someone asked me if I actually wanted to be a writer today— if I’d actually thought about it.  This took me off guard, considering I just spent the last four years working towards an English Writing degree. With zero tolerance for that question and a soft press on the End Call button, my phone screen went blank— but my mind was racing. 

“Have you actually sat down and thought about being a writer?”  (x1,000)

I screamed into the patterned throw-pillow next to me before grabbing my laptop and opening Word.  My first response: how could I incorporate this into a story?  WWVD (What Would Vonnegut Do?)

At first I started thinking up plot points for a bildungsroman— a high-school girl wanting to go to college and major in Creative Writing, and everyone (as is the fate of arts and humanities majors) doubts her.  She would blossom in college, and she’d be an amazing writer at the end of it all.  Who doesn’t love a happy ending?

I had everything figured out— the characters, the setting, and the sub-context all danced in my head— but I couldn’t write it.  I can’t.  Even now, my fingers hover above a dimly lit keyboard, afraid of what I’ll type next.

Needless to say, the encounter was enough to lock me down in Crying Mode.  Panic overcame me, just as it did on graduation day last week— the fear of no one taking me seriously as a writer and of having nowhere to go broke me down. 

But here I am now, presenting myself to you as a writer.  I’ll formally apologize to the Arroz con Pollo for thinking it was so simple; there is so much more to it that makes it a glorious dish, beloved by everyone I know.  Now, it’s my turn to prove there’s more to me than meets the eye.   

Come along as I eat more food, allude to more Vonnegut, and curse about dumb things more than I should.  It’ll be a funky ride, and I want to ride it with you.

That sounds kind of erotic, but I’m going with it.  ’Til next time, y’all.

Lizzie