Boring and proud

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A few years ago, when I was young, I had many fears. One of them was to become old, and another was to become boring. Actually, I had a very specific idea of what boring meant: for me, serious couples were boring, because they were constant and seemingly not exciting. So, I judged. When someone I knew started a good relationship, my second instinct after being happy for them was to dread the inevitable: the moment they would become boring.

Why? Because I was fed rom-coms in an IV, and religiously watched Sex & the City as if it were reality. Now, when I imagine myself in my thirties (which does not take that much imagination…), I can’t imagine being as messy as Carrie, in my closet or in my relationships. But back then, in my late teens/early twenties, I firmly believed that having drama signified being alive. And as far as I knew, couples who ‘settled down’, steady couples, did not have drama.

I was wrong on so many levels…first of all, just because it’s not visible to me doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist, and I ended up discovering that serious couples do have drama from time to time, but they just don’t display it as gleefully as silly 19-year-olds who go on a third date once in a blue moon. Another thing I was wrong about, is that ‘drama is life’. Yeah, more like ‘drama is a pain in the ass’.

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This weekend, my boyfriend and I celebrated our 4 years together. It may not seem like much, in the grand scheme of things, but to me it is a lot. When I met him, I was not in a very stable place: I was anxiously waiting for a job offer, and my relationships had been shaky for, well…all my life. I don’t want to say that he ‘saved me’ from bad relationships, that’s not the narrative I want to take part in. But meeting him woke me up. I realized that drama was the enemy, not the fuel. I realized that there is nothing wrong with seeming a little boring to others, as long as you are happy in your own life and relationship.

Maybe I’m getting old, maybe it’s just that. Maybe my youthful fears came true: I am older and therefore boring. But you know, I’ll take it. I feel happier staying in and watching Netflix with my boyfriend than I used to feel staying up until 2am waiting for some guy to call. Stability is not boring, it is fulfilling. I’m not saying our life is perfectly stable, we have fights, and probably more than we would like to. But every fight is not a potential threat to our relationship, it is merely a little annoyance.

Here’s another way to put it. When I was younger, I really liked the movie He’s just not that into you. You know, where Bradley Cooper cheats on his wife Jennifer Connelly with his mistress Scarlett Johansson. Well, as a young bitch in her early twenties, I used to feel really bad for Scarlett Johansson’s character. I was all like ‘Bradley’s wife is so BORING, why wouldn’t he be attracted to this fun, gorgeous blonde with huge boobs?’. I found him excuses and found it really tragic that he and Scarlett did not find their way to each other in the end. I rewatched the movie recently (don’t judge me, it was on TV)(…)(Fine, it was on demand. But it was for free.), and I realized I was really insensitive before. Bradley Cooper is obviously a fuckboi, and Jennifer Connelly is a boss, especially when she leaves his ass in the end. I still feel bad for Scarlett, but when she purposefully decides to seduce a married man, I want to stage an intervention for her and tell her that she deserves better.

The point is, Jennifer Connelly was never boring. Maybe she got too hung up on the color of their wallpaper, and she definitely wrongly accused her contractor of smoking in her brand new house, but apart from that, she did nothing wrong. She was simply comfortable in her relationship, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

After years of relationship, I’m not saying the passion necessarily has to be gone, but I’m just saying that we can’t act like Scarlett Johansson every single day. If you were to look into my phone, and into my conversations with my boyfriend, you wouldn’t see a lot of steamy texts. You would probably see me ask him what he wants to have for dinner, and you would definitely see us exchange gifs of cute baby sloths.

Related imageJust like this little cutie, there’s nothing wrong with being comfortable.

Arm Candy


Last Friday, I had my own version of Leslie Knope’s banquet: my department’s yearly reception. I usually keep my private life and my personal life separate; with the exception of my advisor, my professors had never met my boyfriend. I talk about him, occasionally, but never much more. Last year, I had gone to that reception solo, because the BF had just started a new job and could not ask for a few hours off to drive to me and be my plus-one. The fact that he lives 3.5 hours away definitely contributes to the compartmentalization of my life.

But this year, I feel much more comfortable at work, and for some reason, I felt like it was time to come to the reception with my significant other. So, I made a bold move and RSVPed for 2. He took the day off and came to me the night before. The head of the department was hosting, so I was feeling extra pressure. Not that I don’t trust him in public; you will recall that he comes from a very fortunate socio-economic background and is very comfortable with any kind of official party. No, what was stressing me out is that the academic world is very incestuous, and it is very rare when a significant other is not in the same ‘industry’. So sure, my boyfriend has just started an MBA program, so he is technically a grad student as well. But business and literature are two worlds apart, and his job couldn’t be any further away from our department’s interests. I guess on some level, I was afraid he might not find anything to talk about with anyone.

What difference would it have made? It’s not like I need validation for my relationship; we have been together over 3 years and I am more than sure about him and about us. I suppose I just wanted my professors to like him, simple as that.

My boyfriend is very likeable. I don’t know why I was worried.

The other thing about him, and it’s a thing I often forget, because he is a lot more than this to me, is that he is EXTREMELY handsome.

When he walked into the room with me, I was later told by a friend that my supervisor let out a very inspired ‘Daaaaaamn’. Also, one of my coworkers made a point of telling me how handsome my man was -that was uncomfortable, albeit flattering.

Or was it? I should probably have been offended. When this coworker said ‘Wow MPug, you didn’t tell me he was so handsome…Well done!’, I could have thought ‘Oh great, she thinks I’m not hot enough to land a sexy man like that’. And I mean, on some level that’s what went through my head. But if we’re being honest here, he DOES look strikingly good, and I don’t exactly look like Sofia Vergara -except for the boobs. So, I quietly accepted the fact that he was my arm candy for the night.

Like I said though, he is a LOT more than a pretty face. All night long, he talked to my professors, my professors’ significant others, my coworkers, and wowed everyone. He was effortlessly charming, and I felt terrible for slightly doubting his abilities.

The best part is, he said a lot of extremely positive things about me to my professors and friends. He apparently said that I was a wonderful woman and that he owes me his present success, because he couldn’t have done it without me. He said repeatedly that he was proud of me.

The best part, really, is that I didn’t even tell him to say that.





I like to think of myself as a strong woman. I mean, it’s not just that I *like* to think that, but when we look at the facts, I have proven to be pretty strong in my life. I’m rather independent and, even if I’ve been extremely fortunate in my existence, I believe that I have always done a good job at overcoming adversity.

But I never said I did all that with a lot of dignity. The truth is, much like Cameron in his adorable snowman sweater, I feel too much, and I am constantly crying. It can be tears of joy, sadness, cuteness, heartbreak, anger, frustration, I could go on for hours.

The reason why I decided to write about this today is that my boyfriend just left for a week of vacation with his family, and I couldn’t join them because I have to get back to work this week. This morning, I dropped him off at his parents’ so they could all depart together, and after I drove away, I cried for the whole ride home. Why? It’s pretty silly when you think about it. My boyfriend and I have spent the whole summer together, and I knew it would come to an end at some point. Mama’s gotta bring home the bacon. I mean, sure, I would have loved to join them on vacation, or even stay here with my man for my last few days of freedom for the year. But it’s not a huge deal, and any outsider would have thought I was a lunatic if they saw me this morning, sobbing uncontrollably in my car, just because I will be apart from my boyfriend for a little week. Plus, he and I are apart every work week during the semester, so it shouldn’t be a foreign feeling for me. But if I’m being completely honest here, I still cry every time I leave his apartment to go to work. I know it makes me come off as needy and silly, but I just can’t help it. When I’m upset, that’s my coping mechanism: I cry. By now, my boyfriend is used to it and knows how to deal with me when I’m being a huge baby. I’m also pretty accustomed to letting the tears drop and hoping they stop soon. But there are so many things that induce my crying that I can’t exactly avoid it.

  • Good news. Yup. Good news make me cry. When my advisor told me I passed my exam and could move on to the PhD program, I cried. When I found out that my boyfriend was accepted into an MBA program a couple weeks ago, I cried again. (Yeah, all my examples involve graduate programs, it’s pretty lame, but that’s all I could think about right now.)
  • Puppies. Or any cute animal, really, but puppies hold a special place in my heart. Show me a video of swarming puppies and you will make my face drip (I know, sexy expression). Come to think of it, it was probably a mistake to move in next to a dog park.
  • Cute father/son moments. Last night, we watched an episode of Modern Family and there was an amazing moment between Jay and his son Mitchell. Next thing I knew, BOOM. Waterworks.
  • Weddings. Well, I haven’t been to many real-life weddings, because my friends are, like me, grad students who need to be called ‘Doctor’ before they can make any huge life commitment. But weddings in TV shows, OH BOY. I believe I told you about my tears when Michael delivered his vows to Jane in Spanish.
  • Thinking about the day I saw my dad cry. I mean, no explanation needed here.
  • Thinking about my little dog. Oh man, I’m getting misty already. I might tell you about this adorable angel some other day, but long story short, I got a little dog when I was 5 years old, and she lived until I was 21. She was my companion, my partner in crime, and I am still not over her passing away (even if she had an amazing, long life). OMG I really didn’t want this post to take this sad turn, but I should have seen it coming. (By the way, I’m crying as I’m typing this. This shows you how serious the situation is.)
  • Thinking about the good ol’ times. For instance, thinking about my first day in Delaware. Or my last day in Delaware. Or the day I met my boyfriend. (I need to stop writing.)
  • Unfair situations/injustice. Again, no explanation needed. Frustration over someone else’s (or my own) tragedy always leads to tears.
  • Little kids hugging their stuffed animals. Okay, okay, I know I’m not supposed to be a kid person, but this particular cute situation gets me every time. I once teared up at Trader Joes because I saw a tiny little boy hugging his stuffed hedgehog like there was no tomorrow.
  • When my boyfriend writes me letters. Yeah, this is taking a really cheesy turn.
  • When someone is saying hurtful things to my face. Alright, this is probably the most childish thing EVER, and it’s a big problem. Here’s an example: during my defense for my 1st Masters, in France, things got rough. French university is extremely demanding, and it is not easy to get good grades. And even when you do, professors LOVE to break your spirit; it’s their favorite sport. So, after dedicating months and months of my life to my thesis, I had to go to my defense. My committee was composed of my advisor, and one of my professors, who was usually always on my side. Well, what do you know, they both decided to be super hurtful that day. They both ganged up on me and kept saying that I had conducted ‘sloppy research’ (which was *probably* true, but still hurtful, and I wasn’t given a heads-up on the whole thing, since everyone had told me I was good to go). It took everything I had not to burst in tears in the middle of their little spiel. There was a huge knot in my throat and it was very difficult to speak, because I feared that I would just cry. The funny thing is that they still gave me a good grade and I passed, but the whole ordeal made me so emotional that I let it all out as soon as I exited the room. I cursed myself for being so sensitive, and hoped that I would grow wiser and more mature soon (surprise surprise, I didn’t). That’s why -among other reasons- I am frightened every time I have to talk to my advisor: what if he says something awful about my work, and I feel like crying? Grad students are subjected to so much scrutiny that you gotta have thick skin. And I mean, I can handle it, and criticism makes me work harder. But the very moment of the criticism is tough, because my tear ducts have a mind of their own.
JessDirtyDancingRight there with you, Jess.




Stupid bitch


I don’t think anyone has ever called me stupid beside myself. I’ve always been very good at school and after I pursued an academic career, people just assumed I was smart and that’s that. However, I often make stupid decisions. It used to be just in my personal life, because I was always more than serious professionally speaking, always weighing the pros and the cons and making sure my decisions were sound.

Until two years ago, when I started my current program. The decision of joining the program was actually a good one, and I’m grateful I made it. But the stupid part was my attitude towards it for the first year.

I’ve told you before that it was difficult for me to leave Delaware, which was my first home in the US, and the place where I met most of my friends as well as my boyfriend. When I had to move 3.5 hours away from it all, I didn’t realize how hard it would be, because in the grand scheme of things, 3.5 hours is close to nothing. But the first time my boyfriend drove me to my school so I could visit apartments and get things straightened out, I was in shock. Ever since being accepted into the new program, I had been burying my head in the sand and pretending that everything was going to be ok. But for a while, it wasn’t.

About halfway there, I started bawling my eyes out. I had finally realized how far I was going to be from my boyfriend of a little over a year, and it dawned on me that it was probably going to be difficult to see each other very often. At the time, I didn’t have a car yet and had to rely on public transportation for over a semester.

I didn’t start on the right foot in my new department. I did the bare minimum when it came to attending orientation, and I did all I could to be back in Philadelphia with my boyfriend as early as possible. He came to visit me quite often, but it was almost like I had an aversion to my new town, and insisted on doing most of the visiting. I just needed to get out of there, and get back to my comfort zone.

The truth is, I was dead scared that we wouldn’t make it. We had ‘only’ been together for a little over a year, and I didn’t know if we were strong enough to handle the distance. I was reluctant to call this a ‘long-distance relationship’ and I still am, because 1) long-distance relationships are famous for not working out, and 2) we saw each other absolutely every weekend, whatever happened.

I focused so much on my relationship that I completely neglected my work. I had the teaching part under control, because this was completely within my comfort zone, but the classes I took were on the back burner. I barely participated, had a very blasé attitude, and avoided responsibilities. I also didn’t make a real effort to make friends. I mean, I was friendly to people, and no one thought I was particularly cold or distant, but I remained very closed up. It was like I refused to put down more roots. This was a very stupid attitude to have, especially in a PhD program. For the first time ever, I had very mediocre grades and my professors started expressing concerns about me. At the end of the schoolyear, in May, we all receive a ‘letter’ (more like an email) that lets us know how we have been doing all year long. Needless to say, mine wasn’t good. I didn’t expect it to be good, but I didn’t expect it to make me cry either.

What really blindsided me -even though it shouldn’t have- is that the letter mainly focused on my attitude. Yes, my grades were not stellar, but it didn’t seem to be their biggest concern. What alarmed them is that I seemed disengaged. They urged me to get more involved in the department and in my classes, ‘or else’ (not a direct quote, but it was the idea). Once again, I buried those thoughts in the sand all last summer, but in the back of my mind, I knew I would have to operate a change. This was confirmed when I met up with my advisor about a year ago. He made sure I knew that he supported me, but he was also very concerned about my future in the department.

This was a huge wake up call. For the first time in my life, my work wasn’t up to par and I was the ugly duckling of the bunch. I’m not saying I have always been *the best*, but I’ve always been a *good* student/employee/what-have-you.

From then on, I went the extra mile. I attended every department function, volunteered to substitute, volunteered to take on more responsibilities in the department, volunteered to pretty much everything I could think of. I stopped making excuses to miss stuff. I realized that it was taking a toll on me anyways. It is much easier to RSVP yes, than to come up with a made-up ‘thing’ that ‘just came up’, and wait anxiously for the ‘no problem’ email.

I participated constantly, even if it was to say something dumb. I made an effort. Halfway through the fall semester, my advisor stopped me on the street to tell me he had heard wonderful things about me from my professors. My relationship with him became more cordial, less tense. I started speaking up about my shitty year. By the end of the semester, everyone was so impressed by my complete turnaround that they offered me a really fun class to teach in the spring.

When I passed my exams in February, I cried. I was finally allowed to move on, and start the actual PhD program after earning 3 different Masters in 6 years. Maybe that’s what scared me, after all. Maybe that was part of my fear to get out of my comfort zone. I finally did my very first conference, after being invited to speak on one of my professors’ panel. I broke the ‘curse’ of the woman who was stuck in the same fear-ridden pattern.

I ran into one of my professors, who had me during my first, horrible year. She congratulated me on my exam, and on my improvement. I told her almost everything, how relieved I was to be doing better, how difficult it was for me to adapt, for some reason. She completely got it. She basically told me ‘you know, shit happens. The important thing is to know when to clean it up.’ And I completely agree. You can make mistakes, you can make stupid decisions, that’s all part of life. But what you really have to do is realize it before it’s too late. Don’t be stubborn, don’t let it drag for a whole year like I did. Look in the mirror and kick your own ass.

The best part is, my relationship didn’t suffer. As it turns out, it took more energy to have a bad attitude than it did to have a good one. I just did my best in every part of my life. I became proud of my accomplishments, proud to have overcome that shitty year, and also proud of my relationship.

So, kids, don’t be stupid. Don’t think you have to sacrifice one thing to have the other. You can have it all.

I still feel anxious a lot of the time. I am often crippled by anxiety. But something magical happened after opening up to my coworkers and classmates: I realized that EVERYONE is anxious. And when we start freaking out, we support each other. I also opened up to my boyfriend. Last year, I refused to talk to him about my problems at work, because I didn’t want him to feel guilty -I knew he would think that I wasn’t doing well because I was visiting him so much. Talking about those things reinforced us and made us closer.

Bottom line is: it’s not perfect, I am still very anxious about starting the semester. After a great summer of just teaching a little bit and hanging out with my guy, I feel a little stressed out over starting my routine again. But I know it is possible. It’s not gonna be easy, because academia never lets you get any rest, there’s always a new challenge. But you know, after kicking my own stupid ass, I feel like I can take on the world.


Old friends

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Let me brag for a second: I’m really good at keeping in touch with my friends, or should I say, with the friends who matter the most to me. I know it’s easy to forget to reply to an email, or to conveniently not return a phone call, but I usually do a pretty good job remembering to answer the people that I love.

When I first left France, I was very anxious to keep in touch. I wrote letters to all my friends, purchased postcards as soon as I could figure out where to buy them, and I spent a lot of time on Skype. My computer had a massive problem about 2 weeks after I got to Delaware, and I had to leave it with the IT department for over 3 weeks, which made things complicated -we are talking about the BlackBerry era, when not everyone had an iPhone and phones were hard to use the Internet on. But I religiously went to the library every morning to answer my emails and talk to my parents and friends.

The thing about living abroad is that friendships back home are subjected to something almost darwinian; it’s the survival of the fittest. After a couple of years, I ended up noticing that some friendships kind of fizzled out, but that’s ok. No hard feelings whatsoever, because it’s just how the cookie crumbles. Being an adult is also being able to let go of some things that were just not meant to be.

I’m still very much in touch with my very best friends, though, and really often. I still love sending handwritten letters, and not only to my grandmother. My iPhone has also made things tremendously easier. Unfortunately, the friends who are most important to me live pretty far away: France, sometimes all over Europe, and for a specific friend I have in mind right now, Michigan. Well, maybe you’ll tell me that Michigan isn’t that far, but when you have a busy life and a ton of papers to write, it’s hard to make the time to travel, and it’s even harder to coordinate everyone’s schedules.

But we did it! My best friend from grad school came to visit us last week, and, just like the best friendships, we picked up exactly where we left off.

cougar town.gifWhich is right about here.

Well, not *exactly* where we left off. We hadn’t seen each other in two whole years, even though we always talk very consistently. So, obviously, we have grown up quite a lot. And by up, I mean old. We’ve grown old. For one, our ‘reunited’ picture that we posted on Facebook less than an hour after his car pulled in, had to feature a filter. It also took me a good minute to figure out how to tag him in it, which may or may not be due to the alcohol involved -I’d rather think that than assume it’s because of my advanced age.

Then, the main difference appeared to us in the form of a massive hangover that lasted the whole duration of his stay. Back in the day, we could spend the whole night drinking at Delaware’s most happening club -insert hysterical laughter here- and we could wake up with no more than a slightly dry mouth. Nowadays, it takes a forklift to take us out of bed. Annoyingly enough, my boyfriend, who is a measly 9 months younger than me, was fresh as a flower and didn’t have so much as a headache, which made things much worse.

So, my friend and I reminisced a lot, drove over to our old stomping grounds, drank a whole bottle of limoncello as a tribute to our pre-comps drink of choice, and we had a lot of fun. But today, my body insisted on reminding me of its own finitude. In the middle of the afternoon, I had to take a nap.

Carrie Bradshaw is the worst


Like a lot of young women, I used to think Carrie Bradshaw was the cat’s pajamas. I annoyingly claimed that I was ‘a Carrie’, while I should have aspired to be a Miranda -Miranda is an unsung hero. The truth is, I was really into shoes when I was 18-19-20 years old, and I thought that Carrie and I were twinsies. What I failed to comprehend is that EVERYONE is into shoes. Shoes are literally the best purchase ever: they make you feel good without ever making you feel chubby, and they are super easy to buy online because shoe sizes are somewhat consistent across the board. Sorry this post is getting boring, I guess I’m  getting old, I’m talking about shoe sizes, please help me. So, to recap, I loved shoes and thought it made me similar to Carrie.

And maybe it did. When I was 18, I was stupid enough to think that buying a new purse would help me get over heartbreak, so I guess I was pretty similar to Carrie after all. But really, I was 18, so I was allowed to be stupid. I wasn’t pretending to be anyone’s role model, while Carrie Bradshaw did a really shitty job at inspiring the masses. Let’s talk about the title of the episode in which the silver shoes above appear: A Woman’s right to shoes. OK, SATC, you’re telling me that you’re making a pun about one of the most important rights that women had to EARN with their blood, sweat and tears? Are we comparing shoes -I mean, I love shoes, but come on- to the right to choose what to do with one’s own body? I know I can’t really blame the Carrie character for this one pun, but again, COME ON.

So I’m gonna try to regain control of my anger emotions and tell you why Carrie is the most annoying ever.

  • First of all, she says stuff like that:
where does the love goCarrie, you’re in your thirties, get your head out of your ass.

She manages to say things so cheesy that her friends don’t even dare tell her that she’s a weirdo. She’s just too far gone.

  • She’s also so needy that I have started rooting for Big. What pains me the most when I re-watch episodes of SATC is that my former favorite character is annoyingly immature and naive. I used to tear up when Big refuses to tell her she’s the one in the first season, but now I’m tempted to cry angry tears. Why does she have to be so needy? Why can’t she just respect him and give him the time to fall in love with her? Did she really need to spy on him at church with his mom? Let’s not forget that she also threw rocks at Aidan’s window -how rude is that!- when she was begging him to take her back.
carrie annoyingRun, Big, run!
  • That brings me to the big no-no of the show: she thinks her relationship with Big is soooo f***ing special that it’s totally worth cheating on good ol’ Aidan for. Aidan is the sweetest man alive, he is literally redoing her floors for her and all she does is complain and run to the hotel to bang Big. And then, when she sees Aidan again, months later, when he lost the little tummy and the greasy hair, she *miraculously* wants him back and chases after him like a teenager…just to refuse to marry him in the end. Was it worth it, Carrie? Was it worth it??
  • She dislikes dogs and is mean to Pete. She also screams bloody murder when she sees a cute little squirrel.
squirrelcarrieMy old little neighbor might agree with her on that one.
  • She actually screams bloody murder all the time. She once squealed like a maniac because she got caught in the rain. Who does that?
  • (This is a big one) She is a BAD friend. She never listens to Miranda when she needs her help, while Miranda is a SAINT and always listens to her bullshit -well, sometimes she yells at her because she’s too annoying about Big, but friends ought to do that sometimes. Carrie also thinks that because she is terrible at managing her own money, she is somehow entitled to Charlotte’s old engagement ring to pay her bills. AND she gets mad at Charlotte for not offering her the ring on her own. WHAT? I could go on forever about how and why she is a bad friend, but here’s another one: Samantha was in a relationship with a woman for a hot minute, and needed to talk about it because well, it was a pretty big, life-changing thing that had happened to her. Did Carrie patiently listen? Nope. She somehow made it all about herself and how she had an amazing orgasm (??) (you’re in your thirties, a great orgasm should NOT be huge news). And later on, when Samantha calls her to tell her she was hurt by her attitude, does she listen? Nope, she lets Ray go down on her DURING THE PHONE CALL. Ugh. Oh, and she sent her boyfriend to pick up an injured Miranda when she threw out her neck, and Aidan had to carry her out of her bathroom NAKED. When Miranda was pissed and humiliated that her friend didn’t come to her rescue herself, Carrie doesn’t understand why, and as if she couldn’t be any more annoying, she brings bagels but forgets the cream cheese.
  • She makes puns about every freaking thing, and says annoying things like this:
single and fabulous.jpgNo.
  • She never calls her boyfriends by their real names. So sure, ‘Big’ sounds really flattering -and we all know it doesn’t *only* refer to the fact that he’s a big shot- but do you really think Jack wanted to be reminded every day that his last name is Berger? (For the longest time, I thought it was spelled Burger, thanks a lot, Carrie.) Does Aleksandr Petrovsky really want to be called ‘The Russian’? I know I wouldn’t like it if my boyfriend referred to me as ‘The French’. I would hate it, actually. The only guy that Carrie called by his real name is Aidan, but on the other hand, she cheated on him, so she owed him that much. (Yes I am really hung up on the fact that she cheated on him.

There’s a lot more that I could say about Carrie being the worst. But mostly, what annoys me is that she had me fooled for a long time. I thought she was the coolest bitch in town, and I am embarrassed that I once related to this character. I mean, sure, I was young and ridiculously naive, thinking that dysfunctional relationships were viable because look at Carrie and Big! I guess the moral of the story is: Carrie and I don’t have a lot in common. We both like shoes -although I am not in debt because of shoes- and we are both pretty annoying.

Sad truth


(WARNING: this post may contain nuts stereotypical views about French men.)

You may have picked up on the media conveying a romanticized idea of France: the Eiffel Tower (although I never understood the romantic appeal here), accordion players on the street, wine sipping at every hour, and of course, the French Lovers. In every movie or TV show, the French woman has the reputation of a ho, while the French man has the reputation of a ho-but a slightly more romantic one.

Years ago, after viewing a French movie with my students, I asked them what cultural aspects they noticed in the film. One guy raised his hand and said, very matter-of-factly: ‘All male characters have mistresses. Because all French men have mistresses.’ Oh boy. This guy started a small riot in my class; young women turned towards me with shattered innocence and started asking me frantically ‘Is it true?? Do French men all cheat??’. Of course I said no. Of course I said it was a stereotype, but I also admitted that the topic of adultery is definitely handled in a light-hearted way in French movies. (And French politics -one of our former presidents had a whole second family going on, and another one was a known philanderer, without having any ‘-gate’ attached to his mistresses’ names.)

Some French movies are, in fact, built around the whole concept of adultery.

infidelesBehold this piece of garbage, which keeps popping up in my Netflix suggestions in a very annoying way.

So yeah, one might say that French men are not portrayed to be *romantic* in a Ryan-Gosling-in-The-Notebook kind of way. And I have to admit, in my humble opinion, the portrayal is somewhat faithful. No Frenchman will buy you a house and turn himself into a hermit until you resurface and break your engagement with James Marsden. A Frenchman will claim he loves you, write you poems (I assume -no one has ever written me any poems), but bang everyone else in your back. Because you see, he’s a *guy*, and that’s just what guys *do*.

patriarchalYes, patriarchal bullshit indeed.

How many times did I hear horror stories from my friends back home, about Frenchies ripping their hearts/confidence apart? Too many to count. I usually put a stop to any kind of French stereotype (I will go as far as showing you my armpits to prove that French women do shave), but I have to say, the French Douche one really sticks. Maybe because it has a lot of truth to it? In order to show my good faith, I will share a personal story. I know, I know, ONE story is not enough to turn an urban myth into the truth, but we only have so much time on our hands.

So, years and years and years ago -I cannot emphasize the temporal distance enough here-, I dated a horribly douchey French guy. Not only was he douchey, but he was also a huge loser, who phagocyted my confidence. We dated on and off, he slept with other women while we were dating, but was still stringing me along, telling me that ‘that’s just what guys do, but I like you a lot, you’re special, blahblahblah’ *barf*. After we broke up for good, he was still lurking around, hoping for a second chance -he was dating someone new, mind you. Until I moved to the US and severed all ties.

One day, I received a sickening email from him. It had been a year since I had left France and had not given him any news for much longer. He was asking me if we could meet up the next time I was in France, because he was missing me and would like to rekindle -something vomit-inducing like that. I decided to ignore, because frankly, I couldn’t care less. Fast-forward to a few days later, when the biggest coincidence happened. One of my friends, who lived in the same city as Douchey McDouchers, emailed me a picture of a wedding announcement she saw at City Hall, with the caption ‘Isn’t that McDouchers’ name??’. Well, it was. And I checked the date. 2 days before he sent me this desperate, sickening email, Douchey GOT MARRIED. And then he decided that he would like to see me again. Barf, right??

Well, I confronted him. I was so annoyed by his attitude, I even thought of contacting his now-wife. But I refrained from it; it wasn’t any of my business after all. When I told him I knew he was married, I expected it to be a huge ‘Gotcha!’ moment. I was essentially hoping to slut-shame him. But he emailed me back in a very underwhelming way; the email equivalent of a shrug. Like ‘whatcha gonna do? Boys will be boys.’ *re-barf*

I know what you will tell me. It’s not just French men. Okay, but in my personal experience (dating, but most importantly, being a friend listening to other people’s dating stories, male and female),  French men have this no-shame kind of thing where they cheat on their significant other and don’t bother feeling bad about it. But if a woman cheats, OMG, she’s a slut. *DOUBLE STANDARD ALERT*

I know what you will tell me. It’s not all French men. I sure hope so -my dad is French, and he is still married to my mom. Of course there are exceptions. But I’ve seen too much evidence, and now I am forced to spread the word. When my American friends finally go abroad and get ready to spend a year in France, I warn them about several things. Slow administration is one, and shameless cheaters is another.



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(I’m going to try to figure out how to talk about my relationship without being too cheesy. Please bear with me.)

I have been with my boyfriend for a little over 3 years now. When we met, we were all about romance and cute dates, we saw each other every week and did something special every time. It was all about the courtship and getting to know each other. Then, as they tend to do, things got in the way, spending time together required some effort, because of both our schedules, but we wanted to make it work, and always managed to see each other quite often. Constant romance gave way to more down-to-earth moments, and soon enough, we were part of each other’s daily life.

You always hear about guys who have trouble with commitment, especially in movies and TV shows. Think about ‘poor’ Carrie Bradshaw (I am being sarcastic, Carrie Bradshaw is whiny and annoying, but more on that another day) who had to beg Big for some space in his apartment and was never given an extra key so she could come and go as she pleased. Well, I never had this problem. When I started spending more and more time at his apartment, I carried an extra bag with me so I could have the essentials: toothbrush, deodorant, all glamorous things. I was petrified to leave anything behind, because I was no fool, I had watched Sex & the City. But once my boyfriend noticed my extra bag, he simply told me ‘Why don’t you leave some of your stuff here?’, and that was it. No drama, just the practicality of life. Of course, I’m pretty sure he bitterly regrets these words today, because I left approximately a million things at his place, but that’s completely his fault.

Being part of each other’s daily life, without any Carrie/Big drama, brought up a different kind of drama: the bickering. When you spend a lot of time with somebody, ESPECIALLY somebody you love, you notice things. Things that you hadn’t noticed before, and that end up annoying the crap out of you.

janDaily life turns all of us into Jan Levinson.

You end up bickering, the bickering turns into fighting, all of this because one of you forgot to buy more milk. You say things you KNOW you’re going to regret instantly, things that you KNOW are hurtful, but your overall rage over the empty carton of milk (or the open toothpaste, or the wine stain that should have been cleaned up) gets the better of you, and you say it anyway. You learn that you should, in fact, go to bed angry, because late-night conversations after a fight tend to be resentful and full of words you will regret in the morning. You learn how to apologize sincerely. You might ask yourself, once in a while, if it’s the beginning of the end. You two didn’t use to be like this; you used to be all lovey-dovey, not able to take your eyes off of your significant other. What happened?

But it’s not the beginning of the end at all. It’s simply the beginning.

The romance period was necessary, but it was also artificial, because both of you were on your best behavior. You tried not to say anything stupid, or make any inappropriate jokes until you tested the waters. But now, what you have is real intimacy. Sure, you bicker, you fight. Who doesn’t? Because you’re no longer under the impression that your significant other is perfect. You now know that they are a human being, with flaws. Of course you love them for who they are. Of course you wouldn’t change them in a million years. But it doesn’t mean that you don’t get annoyed by their flaws.

He annoys me sometimes. And I know I annoy him. But it doesn’t mean we don’t love each other. He knows I have his back, and I know he has mine. He’s not just ‘the guy I’m dating’ anymore; he’s my best friend. He used to be the dreamy guy I would tell my friends about. Now, he’s the one I say everything to. He’s the one who knows all the stories, all the funny things that happened to me during the day. He knows all of my coworkers’ names and I know his. The complicity we share is greater than the romance phase we used to be in.

Still, once in a while, I am reminded of the butterflies that roamed in my stomach every time he entered a room. Sure, now I’m used to him entering rooms, and I might take his presence for granted once in a while -and he might take mine for granted as well. But this morning, as he was leaving for work, I looked through the window to see his car drive away, and it reminded me of all the times he came to visit me in Delaware, and how I always dreaded the moment when he would have to leave. And I felt a tug in my stomach. The butterflies never leave, they just come out when you least expect them.