Monday, February 25, 2008

Renaissance Faire-Game

This past weekend my guy took me to a Renaissance Fair in South Florida. For an entrance fee of $20 a pop, we were in. Into what, you may ask? A world filled with wenches, knights, and realistic-looking weaponry.

Being in Florida, it was exceptionally hot. I felt like I was wilting in the sun, and although there was brew aplenty, I stuck to Gatorade. My hair stuck to my head, and I was grateful for my choice of shorts and a tank top.

I had no idea what to expect from this thing. The college I went to had an organization called the Order of St. George which was sort of a medieval thing. Fellow students would dress up in period costumes and have a literal feast.

People at this shindig were dressed quite similarly. According to wikipedia, the European renaissance era is considered to be from the 14th to 17th centuries. Well, the costumes worn around the festival seemed somewhat interesting. There were quite a wench lady outfits on the women. And for the dudes? There were lots of Robin Hood and Sir. William Wallace types trolling around.

It was like a mix of being transported back in time, or on a movie set. Then there were the pirates. Now, I do realize that pirates existed during that time -- but it seemed a little out of place for a Renaissance festival. The type of costumes I'd expect to see with a pirate would be something out of Pirates of the Caribbean (obviously). It seemed a little Gasparilla-ish to me.

Then there were the people dressed as fairies. That gave the event sort of a Lord of the Rings feel.

I think a lot of people are confused as to how they can dress "Renaissance-y". So they take creative liberties with the costumes.

So on to the merriment and entertainment! There was a tiny elf of a girl hanging by ribbons, who I swear is the most flexible female alive. Then the wishing well wenches, who actually licked audience participants.

And the R-rated seemingly drunk guy in his underbritches singing songs like "Beer is better than women" and another one that was about a medieval orgy. What blew me away was how many parents didn't mind their children listening to some fairly graphic lyrics. At one point in his song, a family stopped by and started listening. The town singer then said, "And for the family who just got here and has no idea what's going on - you might want to move on. This is an R-rated show!"

And lastly some fun jugglers named Pyro and Gyro, who picked out my guy AJ as a potential participant. They asked him to beat his chest, pretend to be The Thinker, and quote lines of Shakespeare. I was actually shocked that AJ did not know any. Instead, the beefcake guy wearing a gold chain belted out the Shakespeare like he was reciting the Lord's Prayer. What a strange world we live in.

One thing I did forget to do. That's eat one of those turkey legs. But perhaps I'm better off, since they probably cost $20 also.

Guide to Picking Up Asian Women

Jen's best advice for men looking for their 'oriental flower'

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Please, not the Vay-Jay-Jay!

Jen expresses her opinion on the March 2008 issue of Cosmopolitan.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Should You Settle?

Here's my response to the Atlantic article titled, "Marry Him" as referenced in my post on love.

Jen Video Blogs!

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Where Is The Love?

Everywhere I look, I can't seem to escape it. If it's not someone in my life expressing their confusion about the topic, seeing articles debating countless 'schools of thought,' or wondering about it myself. I just cannot get away. Love.

Is it the core of our being that makes us human, a cruel hoax that we're made to believe exists thanks to chick flicks, or a happy little bonus in our otherwise mundane lives.

I really don't know.

A few years ago, back in October of 2005, (It was shocking to realize how old this blog is), my college gal pals founded a blog to talk about love, the lack thereof, and be able to share ideas and thoughts. Slowly and quite unbelievably, Fabulous Females has been viewed over 40,000 times and has featured dozens of contributors. The most surprising... many of them MEN. I'm still proud of our guy contributors for not being embarassed to post on a blog with the color pink as a theme.

One of the posts that has stood out to me over all this time was written by my college friend and sorority sister, Margy. Titled, "The One" - The Man. The Myth. The Legend.

While trying to locate Margy's post so that I could re-read it's contents, I came to a conclusion. We've been blogging away on Fabulous Females for about two and a half years. Although it's been very uplifting, supportive, and has created a wonderful community of young people - I truly wonder if any of us feel ANY closer to figuring out love. Love. That age old enigma, mystery of life, what supposedly makes the world go round.

I know a guy who isn't sure what it is. He says his parents have it and he wants it for himself. (I know his parents, and they do seem very happily in love) He's a bold, intelligent, interesting, friendly, passionate, strong man. Until recently, I had no idea he was so clueless about this. But then it hit me - he's far from alone.

When this guy asked me for my definition, I had a difficult time giving him one. I felt like that Supreme Court justice Potter Steward, who, when asked what pornography was, replied, "I may not be able to define it, but I know it when I see it." That may sound absurd, but it hits home for me. Two people may feel exactly the same way about each other and one person may be sure it's love, the other may not. If everyone's definition of love is different, does love really exist as a definable term? Why would it if no one can agree on what the heck it is?

Many of us probably think, "Sure, I know what love is." But do we? I'm now convinced that the majority of the modern population wouldn't know love if it bit them in the ass while on fire. Scary isn't it? Someone can think they're in love one minute, then question it the next. It happens all the time. There are no guarantees.

What does that mean for marriage? It's no wonder divorce rates are so high, extramarital affairs are so prevalent, and singles feel terrified to date. If we don't know what love is, if everyone's definition contrasts, and no one knows how to love - we're never going to have it. When I looked up the term "soulmate" I got this article on as one of the results.

Quite randomly, my friend Melinda sent me an interesting article on "Settling" which linked to this article. It was written by a single woman who had a child on her own via a sperm donor. While I'm not sure if I agree on her points for settling for someone you're not in love with, I did find some of her arguments to be interesting. Including her answer to this question:

How, then, do you know a relationship is right?

Our culture has this view that you should just know if someone’s right for you. And that when you just know you’ll have no ambivalence or reservations, and you’ll never wonder if you’re truly in love, even if you fight all the time and you break up 17 times the way Rachel and Ross did in Friends or Carrie and Big did in Sex and the City. And so often you’ll hear in fiction or film or TV, or even at people’s weddings, these accounts of “We knew from the very first date, or after two weeks, that we would end up together.”

I have trouble with that because I’ve felt that certainty with boyfriends when I first met them. I’ve felt that incredible He’s the one or I just know. But then six months or a year or two years later we discovered we weren’t right for each other. It reminds me of the old Chris Rock joke that goes something like: “In the first three months of a relationship, you’re not you, you’re the ambassador of you.” How can you “just know” as soon as you meet someone? You have to peel the onion of who that person is and figure out if you work together.

Meantime, another friend of mine, Sarah, had this to say about the subject:

I hate our cultural definition of love. It's becoming intolerable to me that people always count the depth of love by the depth of their feelings. It sets couples up for huge disappointments when real life sets in -- in every romantic comedy, there's some kind of period where the couple has a fight/miscommunication/misunderstanding and split for awhile, but then they make up in the end, and for the last ten minutes of the movie everything is swoony and happily-ever-after, and that's where it ends. And people seem to expect the same kind of thing in their actual relationships -- that when something happens to "lessen" the feelings of love, the "make up" period will bring all the romance and perfect giddiness back.

It doesn't work that way. People have fights. People have individual needs that continually war with a unified relationship. Love isn't about feelings. It's about choice, commitment, sacrifice and action. When the feelings are there, it's nice and wonderful, but they won't always be there, especially in the long term, when couples undergo multiple ordeals together that strains their relationship. The reason so many relationships, even marriages, fall apart at that stage is they base the reality of their love on how they feel. Rather like in the parable of the sower, those seeds that "receive the word with joy," but have no root, and wither as soon as some kind of tribulation occurs.

Love, real love, isn't how you feel. It's what you DO. Love is about getting past flimsy feelings, which come and go depending on circumstances, hormonal changes (even in guys), tiredness, stress levels, and expectation. Love is about choice. If you love someone, and say you do, it means you're CHOOSING to love them, as in love them actively, sacrificing yourself when called to, and committing yourself to the other person regardless of how you might feel.

Men these days in particular don't seem to understand this at all. They get themselves "confused" because they have no clue what it means to love.

Read 1 Corinthians 13. Nowhere in those amazing verses which truly and biblically define love does it mention, "Love is always aware of itself based on feelings." What it does say, over and over, is that a person's actions demonstrate that person's love.

"Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails."

I agree that chemistry is important in an intimate relationship, and that a relationship ought to start with those feelings of excitement and affection and sexual tension and joy and emotional intimacy and physical if there was never any of that to begin with, forget it. But as a relationship progresses, the good hard facts need to be taken into account, and those facts include the ebb and flow of romantic feelings. A guy who doesn't understand that during the dating period will have difficulty understanding that in marriage. If he has no concept of the real depth of true love, and what love entails, he's still immature.

And besides, the concept of "the one" is stupid.

We deserve someone who will choose to love you in action, as well as regard us with affection, romance, and tenderness. The latter without the former is trying to live on a diet of ice cream -- fun at first, but unfulfilling and nutritionally deprived.

I am continually disappointed with the lack of love that exists in the world. People can have a tendency to be selfish, heartless, and void of any real emotions in their lives. I see it all the time. The ones who care about the way their perceived, but don't realize they're missing out on the real deal. A life worth living, one that's full of cherished relationships and memories.

My favorite new TV show is the Millionaire Matchmaker on Tuesday nights on Bravo.

Patti Stanger has hit the nail on the head. I absolutely love this woman. She's a Jewish matchmaker for millionaires to meet their true loves. She's a gal I've come to admire for making her life's work helping people lead happier lives. Fat Jewish Guy got to interview her at a Sephora store, and I have to say... I'm jealous.

Her mission is to return men and women to more proper courtship and has strict rules for her dating club. This show is fascinating and oddly, I feel I've learned some very valuable things from it. And for once, a reality TV show that doesn't glorify horrendous female/male behavior is on the airwaves.

I'm not a person who's had a ton of experience with love, but I'm in love now. It didn't happen from a checklist of qualifications, or from a magical fairytale land. It exists for me, and I'm not exactly sure how.

One conclusion I've come to is that real love doesn't have restrictions, limits, or needs. It is more of an 'unconditional' state of being. It is given freely without expecting anything in return. You're able to love regardless of the outcome, consequences, or hurt that you experience through the process.

Anyhow, my challenge to you out there is to have that quest for yourself. Try to figure out the meaning of the most important emotion/relationship that's out there. If you don't know what it is, how are you going to experience love? As Patti Stanger says, "Once you have it, you'll never want anything else."

And I have a mission. To do my best to figure out this thing called love and help others experience love in their lives. That's a promise.


This evening while watching the Princess Diaries (don't ask), I was suddenly struck by a realization about Hector Elizondo. I realize that he's had plenty of roles in films and on screen, but how come I can't get him out of that "domestic help" mindset... after he played a hotel concierge in Pretty Woman and as Anne Hathaway's driver/friend in the Princess Diaries.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

What Dreams May Come

Last night I hit the pillow at 10 o'clock at night. About three hours earlier than usual. Nothing has ever felt better. I was literally in dream land until 7:30 this morning.

Two nights ago, my sleep was not that restful and I woke up every few hours. The night before that, I slept for about 12 hours off and on. I know, I know. That's quite inconsistent.

One thing that's been happening is a steady stream of vivid, clear, dreams. As a child, I dreamed very often. For awhile, I kept a journal of my dreams. Doing this actually helps tremendously in recalling details. It also causes one to remember more dreams. On average, I read that you can have several dreams per sleep session. Sometimes I'd have five to seven dreams per night. But writing every day in that journal just got more difficult as I grew older and eventually it stopped altogether.

I'm also convinced that a few of the dreams I've had (they were more like flashes of a situation) actually ended up happening. Sort of like de ja vu. For instance, I'd have a dream where I'd be standing by the water fountain at school with certain people around and months later, I'd find myself in the exact same scenario.

Over the past year I've had the recurring dream in which I can fly. Yes, that's very Nathan Petrelli/West from Heroes. It's an incredible feeling I have in these dreams. So freeing, light, and strong. All it takes is a little running start and I can shoot up over buildings into the clouds, and be anywhere in the world in just a few minutes. Thinking about how much I could save on travel costs is also nice to think about! This is hands down the best dream I've ever had. So much that I want it to be real.

Last night I had two dreams that I can remember. In the first, I get a puppy. It's one of the tiniest dogs in existence... something like a miniature dachshund maybe? For some reason I'm a college or high school student and leave the dog in the women's restroom while I'm in class.

But then I ended up at an airport in Buffalo, NY where I'm from. I had a 9:26 am flight to Switzerland??? Since I'd forgotten to bring a digital camera, I was looking desperately in the airport stores for one but the selection was terrible. Across the street from the airport I could see a Target, but I couldn't justify going because one of the airport stores was a very pared down Target.

It was at this point that I woke up.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Lifestyle Check

In the past week I've worked out twice, eaten reasonably healthy, have cleaned the condo I share with a roommate, and even cooked dinner once.
To me that's strange, because I'm more prone to sluggish behavior than most. If there were no consequences in life, I'll admit that my diet would consist of McD's, Pizza Hut, Hooters, and Chinese food.

In high school, I did pretty much eat that all. Never worked out. Weighed about 85 lbs. Took golf lessons one summer at my grandfather's country club. Got my butt kicked by elementary school students. Took tennis lessons, and it was obvious that I caused the instructor great pain. Gym teachers hated me.

In college, I still at all that. Never worked out. Weighed about 90 lbs. At potato chips during our required freshman gym class "fitness & wellness" otherwise dubbed "fit hell." It was great!

Currently: eat much less. Work out occasionally. Weigh about 110 lbs. That's not much, but a 20 lb. weight gain post-college is a bit of a flag. Personally, I don't care to gain any more weight. I like being this size, but feel being larger would be problematic.

Down in the midsection, I do have a bit of a stomach. I'm beginning to feel slightly self conscious when I wear a two-piece swimsuit.
It would be nice to be physically fit. To be able to do jogging and other light sports. To play a little tennis, go skiing, and such without feeling dead the next day.
Tonight after work, I arrived home, put a load of laundry in, changed, went to the fitness center at the complex, actually exercised for half an hour, walked home, heated up a Lean Cuisine salmon and pasta dinner and watched Designing Women. It seemed so unlike myself (except for the Designing Women part - I've been doing that for about ten years now)

This year, for 2008, I hope to be a slightly better version of myself. A more put together, organized, less freaked out version. It's doable. I know it.