Thursday, April 10, 2014

Dear Daydream Believer...

Dear Bitter Amanda,

I don't know if you interpret dreams on a regular basis, but I had a strange one I'd like to get your opinion on.  In it, I ran into two guys I used to know; one from high school, one from a job.  I wasn't really close with either of them, and I don't even think they ever met each other in real life.  But in the dream, they are both fighting for my attention. It was like they were trying to determine "alpha male" with me as some sort of prize.  At one point in   the dream the tension between them was so thick I went to the bathroom not to pee, but to get away from them. (Random side note: I got lost on the way to the bathroom, which was on the other side of a field and more like a large outhouse with a bunch of women changing into bathing suits even though it was late, cold, and nowhere around to swim.)

But why are guys I haven't seen in years popping up in my dream? I wasn't close to them, wasn't attracted to them, and don't speak to them anymore. And could the fighting for my attention symbolize something else that's going on in real life (because guys fighting over me isn't exactly happening in the real world.)  And I'm a feminist, why wasn't I upset in the dream when I was being objectified and fought over like a trophy?  Is my subconscious trying to tell me something, or am I trying to read too much into this?


~Confused Dreamer

Dear Daydream Believer,
Ok, so I'm going to confess a few things here. One, I sometimes read my horoscope. Two, I've been to see a psychic...twice. And three, I probably still have the dream dictionary I got at the book fair in middle school. 

But I am not touching your dream. After all, all that weird shit happened in your head. This is about your perspective. When it comes to dreams, even the internet can't agree on things--I did a google search on the meaning of a dream about teeth falling out--a common theme, apparently. Some people say it's anxiety, other that it's about losing something important. Freud, of course, says it's about sexual repression--we get it, Freud. So you see what I'm saying? It's not exact. 

So this is on you, Dreamer. You can think about your dream and try to stumble onto some personal meaning. Or you can chill the fuck out, because yeah, you're probably reading way too much into this. 
Solitarily yours,
Bitter Amanda

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Dear Calamity Jane...

Dear Bitter Amanda,
My grandmother once told me, "You can fall in love with a rich man just as easily as with a poor man." What are your thoughts on this? Or, how about this hypothetical: Say that you, Bitter Amanda, know two kind/smart/reasonably attractive men. Actually, first, let's pretend you are in a Disney movie. (This will make the rest of this scenario more reasonable. If you can call it that.) Now lets say you know two fine dudes. Mr. A, and Mr. B. Let's assume you have a good rapport with both-- you can goof off with each of them, share personal stuff without feeling too awkward, etc. In short, they both embody all the traits of a really really good friend, which is, obviously, important in a mate. By some Disney-fied twist of fate, they both propose to you. (Because the goal of most Disney movies is to marry off the leading lady. We will skip commentary on that for the time being.)
Consider the following: Mr. A gives you butterflies in your stomach every time you see him, but the money situation is spotty. Maybe he's a musician or an activist or something awesomely hip and idealistic. Spending time with him always feels like fireworks and flying, but you've been watching a lot of Discovery Channel and know that 90% of the time, that 'whee!' feeling wears off in 5 years, at which point you may still be renting the basement from your parents. Still, he's got all those other qualities mentioned above, and right now it's super exciting. Mr. B, you totally have a great time with, but he's not as super hot as the other guy. He's got a pretty sweet job, and can take care of himself, and you're definitely attracted, but you aren't tripping over chairs or dropping tea on your shirt like you are with Mr A. Mr B is just sweet, comfortable and caring, and also he occasionally pays for your cocktails.
Who do you pick? Do you think there's a stigma of picking one over the other? If the genders were reversed, would your answer be different?
--Conundrum Sam

Dear Calamity Jane,
Let's start thinking of ourselves as badass ladies, hm? (Forget the part where calamity means disaster.) 

Sure, we could pretend this is a Disney movie where you're the leading lady and I'm the talking tree/fairy godmother/teapot who gives you advice. But if this happened to be a Disney movie, and not your life, one of these guys would inevitably reveal himself as a villain out to get your father's fortune and kingdom. (We would also have some catchy songs and fun animal sidekicks, but that's not important right now.) This isn't a Disney movie. Sorry. I don't sing. Your grandmother wasn't wrong, but she also gave you advice from a different era. 

You raise some very practical questions, and a certain amount of that is expected and healthy. You want to go into a marriage with you eyes wide open on the financial stuff. That being said, I have a question for you: 
Why do you have to marry one of these guys? 
Why can't you just date one and decide if you can tolerate his bullshit on a daily basis? At some point you'll have to choose between them--and it sounds like you're at that point--but choosing one doesn't mean you have to marry him. Life isn't all about money--yes it's important and yes life is easier if you can pay your bills--but it's not everything. Go with the guy who annoys you less. Find a man who puts the toilet seat down and doesn't lie to you. (GOOD LUCK WITH THAT.) See how things go.

Is there a stigma attached? I don't know. In my experience, your life choices will usually be the source of gossip somewhere--no matter what decision you make. Gossipy bitches will always find something to hate. You can't worry about that. You do you. 

For the record, my answer wouldn't change if any of the genders in this scenario were different. Unless it was my gender, which brings up all kinds of what if questions about the course of my life leading me to write advice on the internet.
Solitarily yours,
Bitter Amanda

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Dear Nancy Archer...

Dear Bitter Amanda,
I recently had an interesting conversation with a male friend of mine on the subject of height in dating. He's slightly below average height, but has no qualms about asking out taller ladies. He mentioned that he thinks it's annoying when guys have strict physical requirements for women, and that he doesn't like it when they are all about, to quote, "tits and ass". He thinks that female-imposed height requirements are the male equivalent. My first question is, with you being a tallish lady, what do you think of this analogy?
Also, being a tallish lady, do you find yourself basically invisible to men within +/- 2 inches of your height? I mentioned to my friend I'm usually I'm approached by men quite a bit shorter than I am, and very occasionally by men well over 6 ft. Anyone close to my height is basically oblivious to my charms. I wondered to my friend why this was, but he didn't know, because, in his experience, people seemed surprised when he asked out women taller than he is. Any thoughts on my scenario? Or his, in fact?
And now for the kicker: Given these two perspectives, who do you think is more hung up on height in a relationship (in general society), men or women? And why do you think that is? This is of great sociological importance! You now have the opportunity to weigh in on this pressing issue.
-The Big Friendly Giantess

Dear Nancy Archer,

Ugh, it is crazy how much we all care about height in dating. Here's the thing: we're ALL hung up on it. And we can't do much about it! Let's make some sweeping generalizations, shall we?

You're right--I am a tallish lady. Men my height are generally considered average height, but for a woman I'm on the tall side. I also happen to like wearing tall shoes from time to time. If you were to ask if I like tall men, then my answer is yes. (I can't even lie to you--I started humming Baby Got Back and changing the words in my head to be about tall men and now I'm not sure I respect myself anymore.) Do I exclusively like tall men? Not even close.

It's not a terrible analogy from your friend. However, I think it's only half done. Sure, there are guys who are all about tits and ass--but there are also women who are all about a sixpack and well-toned biceps. And yes, short is a dealbreaker for some women. Body type and height are separate things we look for in a partner. That being said, I think your average height friend is too forgiving of his average height brethren. I was going to make some animal kingdom comparisons using a rainforest example, but I realized I was mixing up animal habitats and I don't feel like googling for accuracy. For the record, my forest floor/treeline/above the canopy deal was going to dazzle you. But life is full of heartache, so you'll have to deal with some personal observations instead. 

Nancy, of all the people I've met, the people with the biggest hangups regarding height are medium height guys. Hands down they are the most sensitive to a tall woman. From my observations, tall guys hardly notice if you're wearing heels, and short guys definitely notice but don't care because you're already taller than them. But medium height guys care. I've had medium height guys get pissy with me and ask if I have to wear heels. (My answer is always yes because I am not about to spend the rest of my life--and that includes this evening--wearing flats just for some guy.) This medium height angst is probably why people are surprised by your friend's actions--they aren't used to a guy of his stature being so comfortable around tall women because they are so often throwing a hissy fit about it

As for your second question, I haven't noticed a similar pattern. I am equally visible to tall, medium, and short liars men. I suspect it is because I'm loud and insert myself into conversations. (I have other methods that I rely on for invisibility.) I actually can't imagine why men your height aren't noticing you..I mean, you're at eye level! Perhaps they are used to looking down. Although...this would lead them to a direct confrontation with your chest...and you'd think THAT would get a reaction... Unless they're all looking up? Which seems odd that you'd be encountering all the average height guys looking for a tall woman. It just doesn't seem likely. Maybe you could try some kind of eye-catching stop I hate myself for that even more than the song I made up earlier. 

I'm actually baffled. Perhaps one of my readers has some wisdom. 

Solitarily yours,
Bitter Amanda

Dear Medium Height Guys,

I still love you. 

Well...I love you just as much as I love short and tall guys. 

You all annoy me equally. You're just as likely to get my phone number as a short or tall guy. (None of you will get it.) 

xo ba

Monday, January 06, 2014

Dear Jenny...

Dear Bitter Amanda,

I am a bit worried that my boyfriend is moving...a bit too fast. I love him and I truly believe that he could (in the immortal words from Disney's Hercules) Go The Distance! We've met each other families and his parents really like me and my parents adore him. Even more importantly, my friends seem to like him and his friends like me. I really understand that he wants to start planning our future together. However, I don't think i am ready for this big of a move. I mean, a joint cell phone plan is a big deal.

I have had my cell number since the end of high school. I don't think I could just give it up, not even for a handsome face and really good sex. Also I think he wants to get us on a plan that would get him the newest iPhone and I, personally, am Android user. It's like we are two star-crossed operating systems. How do I tell my man that I am not ready for this kind of commitment?


Dear Jenny,

Don't change your number. It's in the song. 

Ok, it's more complicated than that. I get it. First of all, you have my sympathies for being an Android user dating an iMan. I've been in your shoes and I can only hope that your boyfriend doesn't constantly try to convince you to switch. Operating systems shouldn't make or break a relationship, but iUsers sometimes think it can. To hear about your choices time and time again would be awful. (Am I projecting? I think I'm projecting. Let's move on.) 

I do NOT understand the push to combine bills and checking accounts and other adult stuff. I can understand making space in the closet. I understand their sweatshirts slowly being adopted into your own wardrobe. I understand you drink Pepsi and I drink Coke but I bought you Pepsi for when you're at my place. But money? Money makes me nervous. I caution everyone to think long and hard before combining any financial part of your lives. I'm not saying your partner is going to wipe out your joint account* or that you'll get stuck paying the bills every month waiting for them to get their half to you.** It's not because of a fatalistic belief that all couples break up, either.*** It just makes everything so much more complicated. Finances are stressful and you're putting that stress on a relationship. Relationships are hard enough to navigate without arguing how much data you think you'll need. Don't do it. There's time for all that later. 

People don't write to me because they're in a perfect relationship. (Thank God.) You're here because you're not ready for this. And that's okay. There isn't a set relationship timeline you have to follow. The way I see it, you can handle this conversation one of two ways. The first way is to distract him with sex every time he mentions cell phones. On the plus side, you'd be having great sex. However, there is a small chance that his brain will start connecting talking about phones to sex, so you'll have to deal with the weird side effects of that. It might be awkward if he gets excited anytime a Verizon commercial comes on television. 
If you're a bit nervous about starting a Pavlovian response to AT&T stores, then you should probably (SIGH) have an honest conversation with your boyfriend. Gross, I know. But relationships are like dogs. You chose this. You have to pick up after them and feed them and take care of them, even when you don't want to. Serious Relationship Conversations are the dog shit in this scenario, obviously. If you ignore it, it will pile up until it's filling your yard and your friends feel awkward saying something about it. 

Just be honest. (UGH I KNOW I'M SORRY but that's just how adult relationships work, I'm told.) If he's as great as you say, you'll be ok.
Solitarily yours,
Bitter Amanda

*Except that does happen.
**That too. 
***I'm sure you guys will be fine.

Monday, December 09, 2013

Dear Santa...

Dear Bitter Amanda,
Flipping through the gift guide section in the December issue of my fave magazine, I found this: "sexy sweatpants"...what the...WHAT?!

Dear Santa,

You got my letters!! Sexy sweatpants--it's all I ever wanted! 

This is the most beautiful thing I've ever seen. Sweatpants you're supposed to wear out of the house...I think I'm going to cry. 

This is a serious holiday miracle. 
Solitarily (and COMFORTABLY!) yours,
Bitter Amanda

Monday, October 28, 2013

Dear Good at Other Things...

Dear Bitter Amanda,

I have some concerns. Soon I will be going to a friend from Grad School's wedding. I have been excited about it for a while until I realized that I will have to see OTHER people from grad school there. Currently I am the least successful person who graduated from the program. 

I need advice on how to deal with this wedding. What do you suggest?

Warm Regards,
I don't want to make small talk with my successful cohort members

Dear Good at Other Things,
This is a very real concern. I was at a wedding once with a friend who works for the FBI. To hear that success story and then see all eyes turn expectantly to you...yeah, I feel your pain. "...I write a blog. I've got a lot of twitter followers." It's not going to come out well. 

So how do you deal with this wedding? The plan I'm suggesting requires a little prep work. First of all, you need to examine your life. Make a list of the things that you're proud of--the stuff you're really nailing in life. Are you dating someone really hot? Have any celebrities tweeted at you lately? Did your new haircut get complimented like, five times at Target last week? Have you been involved in any awesome projects lately? Did your post on tumblr get tons of notes? Did you find a gas station with a great price and text all your friends? I don't care how mundane any of it sounds--this is the foundation of my plan. There are two reasons--the first is that it's important to bolster your confidence a little in these situations. (WEDDINGS, that is.) It's also about to be the first step in a a little research project. 

So, are you remembering how awesome you are? Good. You're better than those other grad students. 

Now you need to do a little research. It's social media time. All those cohort members who are "more successful" than you? Google them. Facebook, twitter, instagram, tumblr. All of it. Focus on those areas where you are awesome. You're dating someone really hot? Time to find out if your classmates are. You're a twitter rockstar? Well how many followers do THEY have? You see where I'm going with this? 

You're good at OTHER THINGS. 

When you get to this wedding, get yourself a cocktail and mentally review all the stuff that makes you super awesome. (BECAUSE YOU ARE.) When it comes time to talk to the rest of your cohort, let them talk about those jobs. How one dimensional. Your work is not your life! Nod and smile and tell them that's awesome. Before they can ask you, ease the conversation away from work. Direct it towards that list we made. "Did I see that you're in a new relationship?" After those lames tell you about their generic boring girlfriends, they'll ask you. Oh, me? YEAH, I'm dating someone. Check out this hotness. Direct conversation towards your work in the community, or with children, or whatever awesome extracurriculars you've developed. Just constantly redirect the conversation. Stay in the conversation as long as you feel is necessary, and then make your escape. 

Then steal all their candy favors from the tables, go home, and tweet to your multitude of followers about your evening. 
Good luck! 
Solitarily yours,
Bitter Amanda

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Dear General Cuss-ter...

Dear Bitter Amanda,

I'm looking for some new curse words. Calling someone an a$&hole just doesn't do it for me any more and I don't like using the misogynistic words (you know the ones I mean). Do you have any recommendations?

@$*^#€ you,
Potty Mouth

Dear General Cuss-ter,
Real confession: I opened your email and glanced over it before reading. I saw the phrase "asshole just doesn't do it for me" and thought, "THIS IS NOT THE KIND OF ADVICE I GIVE." 

I'm really happy you want to talk about swearing. 

I'm all for learning new things, so props to you for expanding your horizons. This is about creativity. There's a relatively small pool of words to work from, if you think about it. 
There are several things I've found quite useful. First off is the compound word swearing. Combine words, even words that aren't cursing, to come up with quirky and new ways to express your feelings. The other day a friend called someone a "dick sneeze." I wouldn't have considered it, but when he said it, it gave us a pretty solid impression of the person in question. You can take a curse word you'd normally use, then tack on a body part, bodily function, natural disaster--really the possibilities are limitless. For more delicate surroundings, you can also consider combining one of those with an animal. I'd probably be insulted if someone called me a dragon fart or giraffe testicle--you know what I'm saying?
Watch sports with someone who is REALLY INTO SPORTS. Wait for an official to pass judgment on a play or someone on the opposing team to step out of line--you'll hear some shiny new combinations. 
You can also broaden your scope and learn a new language! My summer campers know how to swear in at least 5 languages by the end of the first couple days of camp. "What the fuck" is a little more satisfying in Finnish, for example. It's also easier to get away with muttering these under your breath at work. (See also: Joss Whedon's Firefly) You can also look to other cultures. This one guy I knew in Ireland practically turned cursing into a sport. When he got was a thing of beauty, in a way. 
And finally, if you're looking for something slightly more creative and sort of off the beaten trail, look to the masters! Guys like Shakespeare figured out a million ways to insult people without coming right out and calling them a fuck face. It's a little wordier, so there isn't the instant satisfaction that comes from dropping the word asshole, but it's an option. 
Was this helpful? 
Solitarily yours,
Bitter Amanda