Friday, August 10, 2007

Give me more Sex!

In my quest to be uninformed, I've spent my mornings cruising the entertainment headlines. I'm usually bored by 9:05 by the next ridiculous thing done by a rich, blonde skank in California. This morning, I was greeted by the delightful surprise that "Mr. Big" has signed on to the Sex and the City movie!! I knew they couldn't just leave Big and Carrie in Paris and not finish the freakin' story. That, and I'm in love with Chris Noth. Filming begins in New York in September. Fortunately, my fabulous friend Rebecca has just moved to Manhattan, and the Chinatown bus to the Big Apple is only $20. I see some SATC stalking in my future...

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

The Problem of Pain... except it's really not a real problem

I really don't have a creative thought in my head today, however my roommate forwarded the below email to me and I found it so true to life that I had to post it. I couldn't agree with it more, and I actually laughed out loud while reading it because very, very recent conversations I've had with friends about boys came to mind.

I have no idea who wrote this, but whoever he is must be fabulous... and have a house cleaner than mine.

Why do women fall for jackasses?

Repeat this to yourself one thousand times:
Screwed-up people are not more interesting than people with their heads together.
Baggage is not fascinating, romantic, or exciting. It is very, very tiring. Men who are polite and emotionally mature are hot. Learn it, love it, live by it.

I have no idea whom to blame for the romantic mythology surrounding brooding, emotionally limited, narcissistic yahoos. I'm tempted to chalk it up to movies, where most men who start out as selfish jerks are eventually revealed to be wounded birds of some sort. Or it might be the uglier side of the therapy culture, which tempts you with the idea that these jerks might be amenable to solution, like crossword puzzles.

For whatever reason, there are a surprising number of women who are attracted to guys who can't commit, who can't relate, who can't get along with anyone, who can't tell the truth… these guys get a lot of action.

It's not that women really want jerks, exactly. I think it's a matter of mistaking emotional clutter for emotional complexity. Here's an analogy: Imagine a messy apartment. You walk in, you survey your surroundings, and there's an incredible quantity of stuff lying around. Books in tall stacks, Chinese food containers in the corners, DVDs in and out of boxes scattered around the TV… the place is in chaos. And while you wouldn't really want to live there, there might be some part of you that would look around and grudgingly admit, "There's a lot going on here." Now, imagine the same apartment, once somebody has managed to get it cleaned up. The books are on the shelves, the trash is thrown away, the DVDs are alphabetized. This is a much nicer place to live. But it's a little… you know, boring. And that's in spite of the fact that the same books are being read, the same food is being eaten, and the same DVDs are being watched. You're just in the presence of a person who knows how to clean up after himself.

I think that for a lot of women, guys in turmoil seem strangely fascinating, as if they are, by definition, more interesting than everyone else. There's more of that clutter, so there's more going on, and there's more to sink your teeth into, and there's maybe even more emotional depth to such a person.

Let me tell you something about the guys I know who are emotionally mature. The ranks of the healthy and rational include plenty of guys who have been in rehab, or been divorced, or seen their parents' marriages end horribly, or had their own dreams thwarted in some ugly way—all the things that creeps are fond of waving around as explanations for why they lie or cheat on you or generally continue to be creeps.

The difference is that the healthy and rational people have at least undertaken the process of digesting all of that stuff and placing it in some sort of perspective so that it doesn't have to become your problem. They know from suffering, just as much as the ones who sit around brooding into their beers and writing free verse and dragging everyone else into their little theater of agony. The sane ones are still working on their crap, too—who isn't? The difference is that they're not fetishizing their own misery or asking you to embrace it. And that's a benefit to you, because the only thing you can guarantee yourself about that kind of hair-pulling drama is that if you cuddle up next to it, it'll get on you.

You're going to get plenty of emotional complications from anyone. Even people who have their lives very well pulled together are going to give you lots of opportunities to practice patience and understanding. There's no point in starting out with someone who isn't even trying.

According to studies, many intelligent women prefer men with emotional complexities, even if it means that he can be verbally abusive, inaccessible, and generally loonier than Courtney Love on a bender. Now, I can't speak for all men, but while I may have tolerated similar behavior, I can't say I've ever preferred it. Any time I found myself dating a woman who was an emotional roller-coaster, the only reasons I stuck with her were because a) I was lonely and her presence in my life helped to fill a void or b) I was getting the best sex of my life. Lame, but true.

Put another way: Could you ever picture a man saying out loud, "There's something that's just so mysterious about her. Sometimes I look in her eyes and I feel like she totally understands me, and other times, I have no idea what she's thinking. She runs really hot and cold but I can't get enough of her. I think I'm going to stick around until I can crack her shell. One day she'll learn to be more emotionally available and loving." Tolerance for female ambivalence is not a stereotypically male attribute.

This isn't at all to castigate women, as much as it is to acknowledge that women see more nuance in every scenario, so it's no surprise that they give undeserving men the benefit of the doubt. But what for? Hasn't every woman since the beginning of time had a thing for jerks and realized at some point that jerks were always going to be jerks?

I was the nice guy in high school who enjoyed being friends with cute girls who wouldn't go out with me in a million years. I figured, "If that's as close as I can get, I'll take it. Maybe one day they'll realize what I'm worth." I would listen to boy problems galore — essentially, nice girls being treated badly by jerks — and not once did any of these girls ever say: "Hmm, Steffan's a great guy with a really kick-ass afro. I'll bet he'd be a wonderful boyfriend."

But it's not simply the rejection of the nice guy that's keeping so many women single. It's the acceptance of the screwed-up guy. Because screwed-up guys draw screwed-up women into a whole Misery Loves Company episode of Love Connection—where both parties are brought together not by the audience but by their insecurities and inadequacies.

All that "You can't love anyone until you love yourself" stuff? So true. And if you're choosing to date guys with major issues, you're just as guilty as he is. Yes, everybody's got issues, but not necessarily deal-breaker-type issues. Which is why women often say they're seeking men who can fit their baggage in a carry-on. Unfortunately, there are lot of men who try to sneak a 75-pound trunk onto the plane and protest that it has wheels so it's technically a carry-on. Women with issues are the ones who choose these guys.

Women who have their act together simply don't have the patience. Admittedly, there are a few people who probably enjoy the histrionics and the moods and the make-up sex that come with dating drama kings and queens. But I'd bet that most are just willing to tolerate the drama, because, thus far, that drama comes attached to the "best" person they could find. Essentially, they're saying, "Yeah, he's inconsistent, selfish, and distant, but he's all mine." Just realize that every second you're spending with the wrong guy is a second that you're not out looking for the right one — the guy who gives, the guy who listens, the guy who learns.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Things That Make My Skin Crawl

Pedophiles. They're at the top of my list of things that make the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end, and not in a good way. I've been a firm believer that there is a special place in hell for people who take advantage of children and old people. Pedophiles fall easily into that category. My absolute disgust with them has spread to what should usually be a sacred and respected institution - the Catholic Church. The horrific stories that have come to light in many of the clergy abuse cases have really rocked me to my core. I can't comprehend how an adult who stands as a role model to their congregations as a man of the cloth can find the gall within themselves to do such poinlasting damage to innocent children. I'm not happy about the fact that much of what I have read and heard has affected me to the point that I have a difficult time even going in to Catholic Churches now. But I digress.

Based on my feelings towards child molesters, you can imagine my absolute horror when I heard about Jack McClellan. He's a "self proclaimed" pedophile living in California. He's a sick piece of shit who has his own website that serves as a "How-To" guide for adults interested in molesting underaged girls. His links range from statutory laws regarding sexual relations with minors to lists of current LG (Little Girl) sightings and events.

I can't effectively articulte my utter revulsion with this disgusting predator. I'm all for free speech, but the fact that something like this can be allowed to exist in a public forum where children are already such visible targets is simply unacceptable.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Killing Me Softly (or Why I Think Michael Moore Is On To Something)

I'm well aware of the fact that the American health care system is broken. I've known this for quite some time, yet somehow that is of little consolation to me when I'm the target of a deficiency in my medical care.

I'm really fortunate. I work for a very large company that has gone to great lengths to provide its employees with the best health insurance possible. I will never have health insurance this good ever again. Unless I sell my soul to a corporate law firm after I graduate from law school, but that's another demon for another day. My health insurance is incredibly important to me because, unlike most 25 year olds, I actually really need it. I'm on several medications to manage my asthma problem I've had since childhood, and without CIGNA, I couldn't afford the drugs I'm supposed to take on a daily basis to make sure I can do dumb things like run 5 miles at a time and not drop dead. CIGNA is such a phenomenal insurance company that I am able to do extraordinary things like walk into my local pharmacy and pick up my 5 prescriptions at the beginning of the month and walk out without having paid much, if any, money out of pocket.

Until I can't.

I've been the unfortunate victim of my tempermental allergies and asthma this summer. My recent episodes have led me to believe it's unwise for me to be involved in any outdoor situations that don't primarily involve concrete and other non-organic ground coverings. In an effort not to turn blue and pass out while in the presence of other people, I've used more of my asthma medicine than I usually do and found myself in short supply last night while wheezing away at an outdoor Pete Yorn/Guster concert. A late night call to my Happy, Helpful Pharmacist didn't really get me anywhere. My insurance company's computer system was down last night, and despite the fact that I was the only person waiting for a prescription at midnight on a Tuesday, he wasn't able to guarantee that I'd have it before 1am. That was difficult for me to process when a)tired b)snot faced and c)wheezing like an injured accordion. Fortunately, HHP felt sort of sorry for me and handed me a box with my inhaler in it. He said that, while I couldn't take it home with me, he'd let me use some there and pick up and pay for the prescription later. I didn't have it in me to wait until 1am for my medicine. After a few hits and a Benedryl, I decided my bed would be a better remedy.

Until this morning.

Clearly NOT healed, I woke up sounding more bagpipe-ish than accordion-ish. I was in a hurry and opted to head in to work and grab a spare inhaler from the Happy, Helpful Pharmacist across the street from my office. After all, a nerd like me can't have too many inhalers. I called in my prescription, tossed back a Benedryl and Red Bull in an effort not to completely pass out face first on my desk, and popped over to pick up my inhaler. I thought I had it all figured out. When HHP2 pulled my prescription, she said my insurance declined the claim on the basis that it was a duplicate. I told her it wasn't a duplicate and explained that I was filling a separate prescription from the one I filled last night. She said the insurance considered it a duplicate because they were filled so closely together and wouldn't spring for another refill for at least two weeks. Two weeks?? Not acceptable. HHP2 offered me the option to pay for the prescription out of pocket. I was pulling my debit card out of my wallet when she announced, "That'll be one thirty five." I got a little confused. Thinking that perhaps the lack of oxygen to my brain was affecting my hearing, I asked her to repeat herself. HHP2 then said, "One thirty five. As in, one hundred and thirty five dollars."

I almost dropped dead right there, a reaction that would have completely negated any need for any inhaler at all.

One hundred and thirty five dollars? Are you effing kidding me? Needless to say, I left the pharmacy without my inhaler and vowed to wheeze all 3 verses of "Danny Boy" before I paid that much money for an inhaler. Despite all the hassle and my minor discomfort, I'll be okay. I'm still disturbed, though. Tonight after work I'll pick up my original prescription from the Happy, Helpful Pharmacist down the street from my house and huff all my problems away. Unfortunately, it's not that simple for people without insurance. Asthma is a frighteningly common disease among children, especially in urban areas. An unsettlingly large number of these children come from families who really have to stretch to make ends meet every month. $135 for a rescue inhaler is out of reach for a lot of these people, not to mention the $250+ cost for steroid inhalers intended to prevent attacks in the first place. It's easy to understand why many children then find themselves treated with simple remedies to this potentially deadly condition in an emergency room instead of at a pediatrician's office, and why your grandmother is being cuffed and cavity searched at the Canadian border for drug smuggling.

Universal health care might not be the perfect solution to our health care crisis, but when pharmaceutical companies and insurance companies make it so cost prohibitive for people to receive the sort of treatments they need to live productive and useful lives, something has to give somewhere. I'd bitch about it, but I'm keeping busy just trying to breathe.