The Time A Teacher Let Me Down.

I was very fortunate to have stellar teachers on the whole throughout my schooldays. Sure, there were a few I could do without, cough cough sophomore year English teacher cough cough, but mostly I loved my teachers. However, it was one of the teachers that I loved the most that hurt me the worst.

She was my theater teacher and I thought she was the very definition of bees-knees. She had tattoos and awesome chunky highlights and went to concerts like all the time. She was very good to me and I frequently stayed after school just to hang out with her because she was the kind of teacher you hung out with. Before we started class we would play warm-up games, it was mostly improv but every once in a while we would play Never Have I Ever. I don’t know if you’re familiar with this game or not, but if you are I imagine you’re thinking how inappropriate that game was for 15 year olds to be playing although it was tamed down a bit. When someone had done the thing that was called out, they had to go into the middle of the circle and then it was their turn to call out what they had never done. In one such round of Never Have I Ever one of my friends boyfriends was in the middle when he looked right at me and said “Never have I ever had an eating disorder.”

In that moment it felt like a bomb had gone off inside my chest. Obviously my “friend” had shared with her boyfriend the struggles I had with food. Never once, in all those struggles and recovery had I thought someone would use my eating disorder as a weapon against me. Every single person in the class was staring at me. No one made a noise for what seemed liked 10 minutes. At some point, I was able to shake off the shock and look at my teacher- surely she would intervene on my behalf. But she didn’t. She just looked at me. I mustered every bit of courage I had, stood up, walked to the middle of the circle and stood as tall as I could. I then looked at the now somewhat sheepish boy who had just sought to destroy me and said “Fuck you.” Then, I sat down again.

At that point the teacher formerly known as my favorite asked the class to work silently in their journals. I kept thinking she was going to say something to me or give me detention for cursing but she didn’t even walk over to where I was sitting. The bell rang and I was leaving the class when she called me over and said “I’m sorry I let that happen to you. I didn’t handle that correctly at all. And I know how you feel because I used to have an eating disorder too.”  More than anything else she had done that day, this let me down. How could someone who understood what I had gone through let something so publicly humiliating happen to me? Didn’t she know what that type of event could set off in me? Didn’t she know that at that very moment I was longing for a toilet to purge in? Maybe. Maybe she did. Maybe she was scared. Maybe she just wasn’t mature enough to know what to do. She was young. She was new to teaching. A part of me knew I should let it go but a bigger part of me wanted to slap her in the face and walk out of the room. However, all I did was say “No. You don’t know how I feel, you weren’t in the center of that circle.” and then I walked away.

I took many more of that teachers classes and would still occasionally hang out after school in her class but I was never as close to her as I had been before. She was no longer someone I looked up to. That day in her classroom playing Never Have I Ever was the day that I realized even cool tattooed concert going grown-ups could be assholes, but it was also the day that I learned I had a lot more chutzpah than I thought and that actually helped a lot.

I (Unfortunately) Dreamed a Dream

Last night, I had a dream.

No, it wasn’t about Cyberland. I still, sadly, haven’t joined the cast of RENT. And while I know it is the most boring thing ever to hear about other people’s dreams, we’ve got to talk about this one. I promise it involves no pudding-filled volcanoes or half-human-half-hedgehog creatures. I dreamed about a guy.

Cue the scandalized gasps. No worries, it wasn’t a dream filled with le sexytimes. It was a rather pedestrian reenactment of the train scene from North & South (the BBC version, not the Patrick Swayze Civil War sweat-fest), the two main characters rather conveniently portrayed by myself and this guy. No big deal, right? The subconscious is a wild and wonderful place. I am not one of those people who believes in the meaning of dreams. If I dream about fairies, it’s because I recently spent too much time with a six year old, not that I’m in search of advice. However, this dream shook me up. Why? Well, it’s the dozenth time my subconscious has summoned this guy in a matter of weeks. He won’t leave me alone! It’s like I have some sort of dream stalker.

Worse, this isn’t some random acquaintance. This is a guy I may-or-may-not have had a giant thing for, resulting in rabid bouts of brownie baking. You know how, sometimes, you meet a person who seems totally perfect for you and whom you could actually see yourself seriously dating, but nothing ever moves forward and so you kind of start to hate them instead? Yeah, that’s how I feel about this guy. I want to shake him in a very violent manner and insist that he see the error of his lackadaisical relationship ways, but then tell him it’s too late, because I’m running off to England to marry a duke. Since titled aristocrats vying for my love are rather thin on the ground, I’ve instead put on my boots made for walking and gotten over it. Except, apparently, in the whacked-out depths of my mind.

My subconscious is determined to torture me. It has been too long since I had a lovely make-out session (months, if you must know), but it doesn’t feel like it, because my imagination is terrifyingly vivid. I blame my writer’s brain. I spent the formative years of my youth playing out entire dialogues and situations in my mind, in excruciating detail, when I should have been studying for AP Calculus. I’m entirely too good at inventing romantic scenes. This guy has, alternately: saved me from a sinking ship, been thought lost for dead in a tornado only to be discovered, joyfully, alive under rubble, and declared his undying love for me in any manner of embarrassing and humbling ways.

How am I supposed to ignore my previous interest in someone, when my dreams are filled with said person doing improbably attractive things? I will rarely need to be saved from a sinking ship, as I am a very strong swimmer, but nonetheless Dream Grace thought it was super foxy of him to offer. Personally, I wish Dream Grace would focus on someone else. I hear Ryan Gosling is open for fantasy cameos right now. Why can’t I get my REM sleep with a side of Hey Girl, instead of ridiculous encounters with Thor the Annoying? He doesn’t deserve my dream time, being entirely too concerned with smoking pot rather than seducing blonde med students.

Who needs that? Not me. Get the message, subconscious! There are plenty of perfectly awesome guys to dream about, so there’s no need to focus on that one in particular. You’re just making it harder on everyone. It’s rather difficult to roll your eye’s at someone’s antics, when last night he helped you escape the Hindenburg. Trust me, that’s never going to happen. Not only is this not 1937 on a German airship, but if it were, he’d blithely let me go up in hydrogen-fueled flames, pausing only long enough to use the fire to light his bowl. Next time, go with Gosling. I’m sure he would know what to do, if say, we hit an iceberg on an Edwardian cruise ship.

- Grace

P.S. We’re now on twitter! Follow us, if you dare! (Please, please dare?)

Banish the Lettuce: First Dates That Aren’t So Lame

As y’all well know, I’m not too fond of dating. It’s not the guys I take issue with, but the actual process. The idea of a first date dinner sends a platoon of carnivorous butterflies to my stomach. What will we talk about? What if I get salad in my teeth? Nobody wants to date a mute green-toothed girl! I’m going to spend the rest of my life with cats, aren’t I? Well, eff. I better stock up on Benadryl.

It quickly devolves from there. Talking with my mom this weekend, however, I had an epiphany. Maybe dating wouldn’t be so painful, if we weren’t following society’s prescribed script. Who decided dinner and a movie were the perfect date? Dinner is a minefield of small talk and check dancing, while movies – movies! – are dark events where you’re not allowed to talk. Don’t even get me started on “just having drinks.” Bars are the noisiest places outside of yodeling competitions. If I wanted to shout about my family history, I’d do it in the privacy of a therapist’s office, thank you.

There has to be a better way. Naturally, I have a few suggestions…

  1. The Zoo – Seriously, y’all, if someone took me to a zoo on our first date, my ovaries would probably explode with lust. Is there anything so fun as walking about looking at animals? No, there isn’t. Plus! Animals are weird. They do ridiculous, awesome things, like sneeze. I dare you to have an awkward conversation at a zoo. There are just too many creatures to see and read about. If you’re sick of talking about your years as a mime, drop an animal knowledge bomb. (Did you know that polar bear livers contain toxic levels of Vitamin A? Arctic explorers learned that the hard way.) Also, zoos have portable food, like corn dogs and lemon ices, which pose less of a threat to your clothes than traditional date food. Who knows? You might start an eternal bond, based on your mutual love of fruit bats. (Yes, that is a fantasy of mine. Shut up.)
  2. Baseball Games – This could be any sporting match, but baseball is my ideal. Even if you’re not a sports person, this has the potential to be a good date. There are plenty of drunk people around to make fun of, if conversation lags, and it’s a fun, casual atmosphere. If you like your first dates on the scandalous side, there are also endless opportunities for double entendres – balls, bats, bases, hot dogs. Get your witty innuendos ready! Also, unlike a concert or a bar, the atmosphere is raucous but not too loud. You can have good conversation and impress your date with your mad heckling skills.
  3. Road Trips - It is a well-acknowledged fact that random road trips are the most fun thing ever. When I was an undergrad, my friends and I would routinely pile into the car for a journey to the fabled House of Pies or some small town pumpkin festival. I know a road trip sounds daunting for a first date, but trust me. You can play fun car games, instead of your average get-to-know you conversation, and end up at a really cool destination. Why not play an extended round of Throw John Mayer Off A Cliff (commonly known as: Screw-Marry-or-Kill) on your way to the World’s 2nd Largest Hockey Stick? Personally, I long to be whisked off for the two hour ride down to San Antonio Zoo (Again…bats!), with a stop for BBQ in Lockhart along the way. Maybe you’ve always wanted to see that semi-famous henge a county or two over? Get in the car!
  4. Ghost Tours – Whether you believe in the other side or not, ghost stories are still decidedly spooky. You don’t need a campfire to hear them either, since most cities now have ghost tour companies. A couple of tickets and you two lovebirds are taking a walking tour of your town, through the lens of its more murderous and spooky historical spots. Even if you’re not scared, it will be a good laugh and provide lots of fodder for post-ghost dinner conversation. Personally, I’m a giant chicken and would seriously accelerate the hand-holding timeline. So, that’s always fun.
  5. Museums – An afternoon spent at a museum always sounds delightful. Whether it’s filled with art, dinosaurs, or medical oddities, I’m in. (Really, let’s be honest, the weirder the better. Vienna’s Crime Museum, anyone?) Once again, the very destination provides you with endless conversational choices. Perhaps your date has a heretofore unknown passion for Egyptology? (Swoon.) This is also a great litmus test for hidden pretentious streaks. If your date launches into a pedantic lecture at every painting he sees, what do you think he’ll be like at the grocery store? Egads.
  6. Bonus Pick: The Masters – Alright, this one is pretty Grace-specific. If you know anyone who has a secret crush on this anonymous blogger, listen up. My ultimate fantasy date? The Masters. I am a huge golf fan. If a guy invited me along to be his date for the tournament, he’d have to be a convicted murderer for me not to say yes. It’s also a perfect first date! Sure, the tickets are impossible to get, but once you’re there it is both fun AND cheap. The food sold at Augusta remains in a strange limbo of 1970s pricing, there are tons of people to watch, and there’s the ever-present threat of being hit with a errant tee shot. Danger! Lovely scenery! Cheap food! Though, there is always the chance that Graeme McDowell and I will fall madly in love at first sight and I will run away to Northern Ireland with him. So, you know, fair warning.

These choices could still end in disaster, of course. I once went on a first date to a Renaissance Festival, which should have been really fun. Except…my date dressed, head-to-toe, like the Dread Pirate Roberts without warning me and refused to ride an elephant. After one too many swipes with his replica sword, it was clear I never wanted to see his – ahem – other sword. Still, I’d rather take my chances with the zoo than another night spent shouting how many siblings I have over the din of bad bar karaoke. Drunken bachelorette party attendees singing “Oops! I Did It Again” do not a romantic backdrop make.

- Grace

Sunglasses and Lipstick

sunglasses and lipstick

If you’re like me and you stayed up too late on a work night reading The Hunger Games for a second time just so it would be fresh in your memory for the midnight showing you’re going to on Thursday and then right when you finally go to sleep a giant thunderstorm hits and it sounds like Revolutionary War cannons are aimed right at your apartment and for a second you think it means the British are coming and then you remember it’s 2012 and people don’t really use cannons anymore but it doesn’t matter because it’s now 2am and you can’t sleep through this racket, what you really need the next morning is a good excuse to not go to work and sleep all day but because you’re responsible you go to work and in order to make yourself presentable you need two things:

1. Sunglasses. Wear them. They hide all manner of facial woes. Obviously you can’t wear them inside (unless you want rumors of your vampirism to start) so swap them out for a great pair of eyeglasses when you’re indoors. Sunglasses are best but I’ve found great success in using my eyeglasses to hide black as night under-eye circles.

2. A stellar lipstick. It’s like magic. A great shade of lipstick wakes up your entire face and makes you look way fresher than you feel. As my Grandmother always puts it “Lipstick makes you look alive even when you feel like death.”  True story, she has been wearing the same lipstick shade for like 40 years, so she obviously knows what she’s talking about.

Here’s another true story, despite looking like a zombie at work today I got two compliments on my lipstick and one on my glasses. It’s all about giving them a little razzle dazzle to distract them from the fizzle fazzle that is my face after no sleep. It’s like the bend and snap, it works every time. ;)

Coincidently, the sunglasses and lipstick trick also works if you’re hungover.

Cloudy With a Chance of Spinsterhood

Friends, are your fingers nimble? Do you feel capable of coordinated, rhythmic snapping? Let’s hope so, because a rumble looms. You must be prepared.

All the best rumbles involve jazz hands!

Yesterday, it was called to my attention that our blog title might be the tiniest bit dreary. What particular word drags us down to the blues and grays? Spinster. According to western society, there is nothing so depressing as an unmarried woman. The word conjures images of a sad, gray-haired maiden aunt obsessively knitting sweaters for her twelve cats. (Captain Whiskerby gets so cold! He needs a Fair Isle!) Why would we name our blog for such a pitiful creature? Twenty-something women should be out in the dating world, trying to land men before their ovaries shrivel up. Blogging about phallic cakes is best left to those who’ve found victims husbands.

Y’all, I’m so sorry! I didn’t realize that we were inflicting emotional damage onto our readers by declaring ourselves spinsters. You see, we think it’s a positive term. Shocking, I know. How could we not realize the frightful connotations of such a moniker? Well, probably because they make zero fucking sense. When you hear the term bachelor, spinster’s male counterpart, do you cringe in horror? No, you don’t. Otherwise, ABC wouldn’t have its rose-festooned cash cow. When Americans hear bachelor, they think George Clooney. When they hear spinster, they think Jennifer Aniston. One is lauded for his firm stance against marriage, while the other is bombarded with tabloid stories about her supposed longings for a husband.

This is ridiculous. This is why we named our blog for spinsters. It’s not because we’re unmarried, it’s because we want to take back the word. Spinster wasn’t always a four-letter word. Its original definition, dating to the mid-1300s, meant a woman who spun thread for a living. Spinning thread was one of the earliest professions a respectable, unmarried woman was allowed. Spinning, religious devotion, widowhood, or prostitution – for centuries those were some of the only paths to female independence. Later, of course, we could gain employment in shops or service, but spinning came to be so associated with unmarried women that the word took on that meaning. Now, according to Merriam-Webster we have three modern definitions:

  1. A woman whose occupation is to spin.
  2. An unmarried woman and especially one past the common age for marrying.
  3. A woman who seems unlikely to marry.

Nowhere does it say: A woman who pines away for a husband, slowly becoming bitter and sad as she ages, lonely and unloved, until she finally gives in and purchases the first of many feline companions. The negative connotations placed on unmarried women? That’s all society’s doing. Unmarried is, in and of itself, not a bad thing.

If we take the original definition to its logical conclusion, we actually find something positive. We discover women who were independent, able to support themselves without the aid of either husband or father. Destiny’s Child would be so proud! Anyone, man or woman, who blazes their own path through the world is to be applauded. (Well, unless that path includes actual blazes. Pyromaniacs need not apply to our membership ranks.) The word spinster shouldn’t be reviled or pitied.

If you’ve read our blog these past few months, you’ve realized we’re anything but desperate for marriage. I’m desperate for a six-figure book deal, desperate for a truly great piece of chocolate cake, but not for marriage. It’s not that we’re anti-men. If anything, we love men! Most of the guys in our lives are totally awesome. But…our lives aren’t defined by whether we’ve caught one or not. Marriage doesn’t make one automatically happier or more fulfilled, just like singlehood doesn’t automatically make one reach for a pint of mint chocolate chip. Optimistically, I think the world is accepting this. After all, hasn’t bachelorette begun to replace the more archaic term of spinster? Sure, we mostly apply it to almost-married women, but it still exists. Just having a word that means single woman, without negative connotations, can be seen as a victory.

Still, we chose A Confederacy of Spinsters. “A Coterie of Bachelorettes” doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue. Plus – quite frankly – we like spinster. We like its history of independence. We like the tongue-in-cheek nature of three happy young women taking its societal baggage on. We embrace spinster, with its cats and all, because there’s nothing wrong with the word. Calling ourselves spinsters does not hurt our self-esteem or our chances with men. In fact, one of your dear spinsters (*cough* Mae *cough*) will soon be joining the ranks of the happily married. She’ll keep the label, however. After all this angsting over taking it back, we’ve grown rather fond of it. If anyone takes issue with that, we’ll meet you outside. Prepare your snaps!

- Grace

The Brutality Of A Fitting Room.

Madewell

There is nothing more brutal than a fitting room. I would gladly face monsters, ghosts, wild animals, and psychopathic serial killers as long as none of them made me try on clothes (especially pants) in a fitting room.  The last time I was in a fitting room it was like a self-esteem bloodbath. My confidence and sassiness got blown to hell by florescent lights, rude retail associates, and pants that I swear to Athena were sized incorrectly.

What fitting room could possibly cause such a gaping wound? The fitting room at Madewell. It was my first time in the store and I had gone there on the recommendation of several girls I know personally and thousands of bloggers. All of these trusted sources had sung the praises of Madewell jeans and I foolishly followed them right into the gator’s mouth as they say. I entered the store and was greeted by a size -1 who looked like a runway model and spoke like a valley girl. She was nice. She pointed me in the direction of the jeans I sought and left me to browse on my own. She was exactly what I like in a retail associate. She was polite but not overbearing. So far, I was a Madewell fan. I grabbed several different pairs and styles of jeans in my size, which is 8, and headed to the fitting room. I felt naively confident as I shut the curtain behind me and began to try on the jeans. The first pair felt more like a size 4 instead of an 8- I couldn’t get them buttoned. The fitting room had fired the first shots and I was wounded. Before I could try on the second pair of jeans, I had already decided that my skin was gross, my hair color was ugly, and that I needed to begin dieting immediately. Somehow, I managed to carry on and try on the second pair of jeans. These were even worse than the first pair. I couldn’t get them over my hips. At this point, I felt like complete and utter shit. Especially because I am always, always a size 8, except when I shop at Anthropologie where I am a size 6. So, it was entirely disheartening for me to not be able to fit in my “sure-thing” size.  After four more pairs of jeans with the same heart-stabbing results, I decided I couldn’t take any more and cried the proverbial “uncle”.  As I left the fitting room, the polite and pretty retail associate who had greeted me at the door asked if any of the jeans worked and I told her they hadn’t. Then she said this, “Yeah, we don’t really make jeans for women your size. The jeans you tried on are as large as we go.”  Bitch said what?! I couldn’t believe it. First of all, I hadn’t said they were too small, I just said they didn’t work, why did she have to assume they were too small. And second of all, how dare she try and body snark me!? I’m not even trying to shop at a store that tells me my healthy body weight is “too large” for their clothing.

Since the Madewell incident I’ve been on a fitting room boycott. And yes, I know not every store and retail associate will treat me that way but I’m also not going to put myself in the position of being treated that way again. So, instead, I buy several pairs of pants, take them home, try them on under my excellent lighting, and then return the ones that didn’t work out for me. Sure, it’s an extra trip but it’s made shopping for pants infinitely better. It’s going to be quite a while before I put myself back on the fitting room battlefield, for now, consider me a conscientious clothing objector.

Barbie, Now With More Murderous Impulses!

Y’all, I’m having a serious case of age envy. Why, oh why, can’t I be eight years old again? Despite that such a phenomenon would require me to relive both middle school and those interminable pre-sixteen years, when I thought I would never get to drive ever and it was so unfair, it would be worth it. Why? Because Mattel, that peddler of pink plastic girl crack, has announced a Hunger Games Barbie.

Katniss Everdeen, of the badass archery skills and revolution-starting tendencies, is becoming a Barbie!

At first, I was horrified. Most of the time, I think Barbie epitomizes everything that is wrong with girl-targeted toys. Yes, I loved mine as a child, but the focus on shoes and cars and an ever-rotating closet is perhaps not the best message for little girls. Shoes are awesome, I will agree, but that shouldn’t be a core tenant of womanhood. So, the thought of Barbie – queen of pink Porches and pastel horses – as Katniss Everdeen made my stomach turn. How would she run through the arena with those anatomically impossible Barbie feet? Would she come with an archery set and a glittery hairbrush? Abomination! If Katniss were a real person, I thought, she’d set fire to the Mattel factory for the mere suggestion!

However, I’ve changed my mind. This may actually be good for both Barbie and The Hunger Games. If anything, Barbie could use more of an edge. Now, instead of making their dolls go to the mall, little girls across America can act out the adventures of one of the most progressive female characters in modern literature. She’s not necessarily the Suffragette Barbie I’ve wished for, but she’s certainly a world apart from “I Can Be A Baby Caregiver” Barbie and “Spin-to-Clean Laundry Room” Barbie. Katniss Barbie can not only date Ken, but take him in a fight!

Meanwhile, The Hunger Games, a series of books with themes parallel to modern societal issues, will bring its message to a whole new audience. Admittedly, that message is a bit over the heads of most Barbie buyers. These are not books I would recommend to elementary-aged children. Most of the adventures Katniss endures are not only harrowing, but terrifyingly violent. However, if children play with Katniss Barbie now, they are more likely to read the books when they’re older. I can’t argue with anything that encourages that. Not only is reading of any sort a victory, but this tale is one many of us need to hear. Beyond the love triangle (Team Peeta!), the story is one of survival and a much-needed rebellion in the face of oppression. That’s not something you get with Barbie’s “Strollin’ Pups Playset.

In the end, this is a curious match-up, but I can’t find it in me to complain. Anything that brings a little more adventure to the “girl aisle” is a good thing. Now, if only other toy manufacturers would get the message. I’m looking at you LEGO, with that pink & purple land of domestic horrors you just rolled out. Perhaps Katniss should point her bow and arrow your direction?

- Grace