Posted by Tamara Shayne Kagel
1. To develop an eating disorder and stick with it.
2. To include some 7’s and under in my circle of friends.
3. To stop correcting other people’s grammar out loud.
4. To take a risk and every once in a while and answer a phone call from a private number.
5. To find a way to make money without getting a job.
6. To take trapeze classes at the Santa Monica pier.
7. To take another Mindful Awareness class at UCLA’s MARC center.
8. To stop making flirtatious eye contact during meditation in my Mindful Awareness class.
9. To begin lying about my age.
10. To give more money to public radio than the rapacious cable company.
11. To stop stealing my sister’s clothes from my parents house even though these designer pieces are just sitting there going to waste while she lives in Argentina.
12. To tweet at least once a day.
13. To never watch another episode of the Real Housewives of Atlanta.
14. To stop doing yoga in the prayer room at my Christian Law School.
15. To stop referring to AA as a cultish Red Bull propaganda machine.
16. To stop expecting men to stand up when I enter a room.
17. To stop holding the LA Riots against the LAPD.
18. To stop posting inappropriate pictures on Facebook.
19. To develop credit card debt that is commensurate with the national average.
20. To stop lying to people when I tell them how long it’s going to take me to get there.
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December 29, 2010 | 9:45 am
Posted by Tamara Shayne Kagel
I’ve had one of those amazing weeks with men where I feel like I’ve fallen in love ten times. Not in the romantic sense - more like I forgot how great the men in my life are and they’ve all contributed in a matter of days to restoring my faith in the opposite gender.
I was a bit low about a week ago, possibly fueled by a sleepless (post-finals) celebratory alcoholic binge which had startlingly reminded why alcohol is a depressant. I was behind on multiple writing deadlines, had ran into the first boy I’ve been excited about in months getting ice cream on Abbot Kinney with a girl with uneven cleavage, and my plans to head to New York for NYE had fallen through so the desultory ordeal of making last minute plans was surrounding me. And just when life was as bleak as it gets for a young over-privileged girl in Santa Monica, I found myself saved from cynicism by the men of LA. I usually subscribe to the theory my dad instilled in me over and over again when I was a fourteen year old girl, boys and girls cannot be friends. At the time, it made me very indignant and I listed off all the boys I was friends with to prove him wrong. But at some point years later, when I realized I had dated every single one of my male “friends” I saw his point. And yet still, it’s been my male friends who came through when I needed them.
I slept over at a male friend’s house last week. And literally, that’s all I did - sleep. He didn’t make a pass at me, he didn’t take advantage of me being too inebriated to drive home, he hasn’t been weird about it since. I had so much fun with him, he lifted me right out of my stupor and reminded me of how rewarding a life full of friendships is. Then he even says to me in the morning how much more our friendship means to him than temptation. I was really touched.
Then, I went to a stand-up show for some friends and met a gay man who wants me to perform stand-up at his next show. A gay man thinks I’m funny. This means he wasn’t saying I was funny because he wanted to sleep with me, he must have really thought it was true. And this, despite the fact that most men don’t think women can be funny. A pure compliment - not one whose motives I doubted because his eyes were downward when he said it.
Plus, this peripheral celebrity I know has been texting back and forth with me. Needless to say, I was completely turned off when he immediately asked for a pic. So I sent him back a picture of the view of the mountains from Mammoth. To my surprise, he thinks it’s hilarious and continues his pursuit. (I know to many of you this will be shockingly abhorrent, but honestly I’ve been in this situation a few times and no one has ever written back a text to my Mammoth picture - apparently there are enough Starf*@#ers in this town who reply with naked pics so that minor celebs don’t bother to ask me twice.)
So then a few nights ago, I had this conversation with another guy friend, and it just blew my mind. Here was an attractive accomplished man in his twenties who was convincingly describing how he knew he could be faithful to a wife forever. He wasn’t hemming and hawing about how hard it is to be monogamous for a man, or how unreasonable it is to only have sex with one person if we’re living till one hundred. He was talking like a zealous Romantic and making me sound like a cynic?!
To top this all off, on Christmas morning, I ran into a man I used to work for not that long ago, whom I probably loved a little. He was at Starbucks with his wife and kids. When we worked together we had spent an inordinate amount of time together and very quickly I fell hard for him. We quickly became too flirtatious and probably too familiar and perhaps if his wife was the jealous type she might have said he cheated emotionally. But nevertheless right at the time I was ready to cross the threshold of no return, consequences be damned, I got transferred. I don’t know if he wanted it that way, or it was divine intervention and he just took it as a sign or what, but regardless nothing physical ever happened between us. He cut off all communication and I was resentful and a tad heartbroken. But seeing him there, on Christmas morning, with his wife’s arms around him, picking out pastries with his kids, I felt weirdly blissful. I was looking at the rewards of a good man and I was just so happy with the world.
Who says LA makes you jaded?
December 27, 2010 | 3:40 pm
Posted by Tamara Shayne Kagel
My family doesn’t celebrate Christmas. My mother is very clear about this. We don’t have a holiday party, we have a Hanukkah party where gentiles are invited. We don’t get a tree, a bush, or a plant of any kind or put up any lights. We put up Hanukkah decorations so everyone knows our house is a festive Hanukkah supporting house but not because of anything Christians do. We don’t get eight presents because Christian kids get Christmas presents. We get eight presents because we deserve it after we put up with our parents the rest of the year.
Yet despite our steadfast anti-celebration of Christmas, we do always get together as a family because there is literally nothing else to do and no one else to do it with. And as it turns, it happens to be my favorite holiday. Here’s why:
It’s the one day of the year my family always spends together where there are zero expectations.
Your family seems as neurotic as mine does the rest of the year.
We go to the movies. Where we don’t have to pray.
Nobody’s nagging me to just try the liver or just taste the kishka.
I don’t have to help out in the kitchen. We eat out. I have never seen my mom so calm.
There’s no traffic. I can get to my parents house in under twenty minutes. I didn’t realize there were so many Christians in LA.
We don’t entertain at our house. We are always shocked to run into all our Jewish friends at the Arclight. We can only visit with our family friends for about five minutes before the movie starts.
We ask each other where everyone’s going for Chinese. We don’t talk about how many Jews died or were enslaved or were brutalized or starved.
We don’t have to dress up. Jeans are totally acceptable and I don’t have to wear skirts long enough for Temple.
I don’t feel profane for getting wasted. I don’t have to pretend to enjoy kosher wine. People believe me when I tell them shots of chilled Grey Goose are Christmassy.
It’s a forced vacation from work. Even my dad has no emails on his Blackberry.
My mom lists off all the Jewish friends we have that get Christmas trees which aren’t religious and are just a fun tradition. My sister and I are suddenly more successful than all of them because we don’t.
We didn’t spend last week at the mall. We feel God has truly blessed us.
December 21, 2010 | 9:30 am
Posted by Tamara Shayne Kagel
Since my last blog post, I’ve received all sorts of responses about how and when and whom to dump. A male friend of mine challenged my opinion, saying that after one or two or dates, it wouldn’t be appropriate to have a formal “it’s over talk” and I had to concede this is true.
Personally, even if it’s just one or two dates, I will always recommend a lame excuse like things are complicated with my ex right now or I just need to focus on work and I can’t get together for the foreseeable future so that there’s clear closure, but I concede this isn’t mandatory.
But I’ve also had a number of girlfriends confirm to me that time and time again, they’ve found themselves in the position of dating much further than two dates and being dumped by absentee ballot. So I thought perhaps, instead of just complaining, I could offer up some suggestions about when and how to call it quits. This is by no means an exhaustive or strict list but I offer it as a start.
This is when you’re off the hook A.K.A. not returning even a text message is allowable
If you’ve been on two or less dates with no physical contact or
If you have had No sex or
If she has done something totally insane or
If you’ve never been out on formal dates or
If she walked out of the date.
If you’re set up by a common friend/boss/person you both will see or
If you’ve led her on or
If you’ve had sex or
If you’ve left something at her apartment or
If you’ve had three or four dates regardless of physical contact.
If she’s met any of your family or
If you’ve borrowed money from her or
If you’ve driven her car
If you’ve made out (really anything more than a goodnight kiss) or
If you’ve been dating for three months or longer or
If you were friends first.
This is when you have to do it face-to-face
If either party has ever called the other girlfriend/boyfriend in front of the other or
If you’ve had the DTR (define the relationship) talk and decided to be exclusive or
If you’ve had the DTR and decided to keep dating and not be exclusive (yes just the talk merits more)
If either party has ever side I love you.
December 13, 2010 | 9:30 am
Posted by Tamara Shayne Kagel
Here’s the scenario. You meet someone you think you could like. You’ve hung out three or four times, maybe a few dates and then meeting up with his friends for drinks. You start to think you do like him. You start opening up, talking about your family or dreams or whatever it is you think makes you special. He does the same. In fact, when you meet his friends, they already know about you. You think to yourself, ok this could be something. Then….
NOTHING. He doesn’t call back. That’s how he ends it. He doesn’t think he owes you a phone call or an explanation or even a text to say “no thanks, I’m not interested anymore.” He just doesn’t respond. In the last year, so many of my friends have had little flings end like this. What does it take for a guy to dump you properly? Now, I know girls do this too, but it seems to me that by and large, this is mainly perpetrated by men. I’ve talked many times with other girls about how to have these awkward conversations so I know some of them are doing it. I also know men want to say that it’s just easier for women to communicate and that this is how men deal with stuff. But that’s just total malarkey. I’m guessing some men are either to selfish to care or more likely just cowards.
First of all, if you’re a guy that doesn’t dump girls properly because you just don’t care enough to write a simple text message saying “I’m too busy with work to get together now. It was really nice getting to know you though,” then you’re just an inconsiderate rude bastard and I can only blame your mother for not telling you to grow up already.
Second of all, if you’re just a coward, no one’s going to want to date you anyway. Having enough guts to force yourself to deal with an uncomfortable situation for five minutes is just part of life. You don’t have to like it. But you do have to be able to deal with it.
But what concerns me more, is that maybe men don’t feel they owe it to these girls to say anything to them. Like there’s some magic cut-off mark at the six month period perhaps and only if you make it there do you owe a girl an official “it’s over” talk. But shouldn’t the standard relate to how much you both share with each other? I know one girl who found herself wishing for the it’s over talk after spending multiple evenings with a guy’s entire family. I know one girl who spent the whole weekend with a guy, sleeping over, spending the day together, walking around the neighborhood arm in arm for three months. I know another girl who listened to some boy sob about how lonely he had been till he met her. And then BAM. Like that. Just nothing. She calls once and leaves a voicemail checking in. She sends a follow up text. And there’s just no answer. Ever. The girl can’t call more or she looks like a psycho stalker. So that’s it. She waits out the days and usually after about two weeks says well I guess it’s over then.
Don’t these guys owe her more than that? It’s just so insulting to think that after getting to know someone like that, a man doesn’t owe a woman the courtesy of a simple let down conversation. You don’t even have to see her to do it. Is it really so hard to pick up the phone? How intimate do you have to get to earn the right to be broken up with? When I was in college, I very casually dated this guy (who I adored cause he lived in a co-op). We never got that intimate, emotionally or physically, but I think of him so fondly because of how he ended things with me. He took me out to dinner and we had a really nice time. I knew something was up when he insisted on paying the check because we had always been splitting things up till then. Then he walked me back to my dorm and honestly I can’t even remember what he said. Maybe he said he met someone else or that it was just over, but either way he told the truth and that was that. I still feel warmth towards him because of it and he’s been happily married for years now. He certainly didn’t owe me all that, but he was just the kind of stand-up guy that wanted to let a girl down gently.
Why are we evolving away from that? Why is it becoming more and more acceptable to break-up via the silent treatment? By today’s standards, it seems that if a guy sent me a text saying “not into you anymore. Have a nice life,” I’d be running through the streets yelling with glee “I just got dumped!” I mean really, what does a girl have to do these days to be told to take a hike?
December 10, 2010 | 9:30 am
Posted by Tamara Shayne Kagel
One of the best things about being single, is that you can show up to things alone. I know some girls complain about not having an auto-date for every function, but they just need to get over their insecurities and realize what they’re missing out on.
This week has already been a whirlwind of holiday parties for me but for each one, I have the option of showing up sans un beau. And for the right type of party, there is no better way to enjoy then to show up alone. It forces you to meet people in a different way and at a function like a holiday party, people want to mingle. Plus, somehow everyone just intuits that you are more approachable. It gives you the option to flirt in a Bill Clinton sort of way with everyone, men, women, young, old. Even if you both have no romantic interests in each other whatsoever, there’s still something a little sinister about having a flirty conversation with an older man when you have a boyfriend. But no one looks twice, when you’re unattached.
Granted at times, being alone can bring some unwanted attention, but conversation is a skill that must be practiced and if you haven’t figured out by now how to worm your way out of a conversation with a fifty year old man about his body-hair waxing, there’s nothing I can tell you. In one evening this week, I met girls who gave me some insider secrets about my favorite designer, made friends with some awesome guys who I’m hoping to start a business venture with, and met a guy who takes the same yoga class I do. None of this would have happened if I had shown up with a date and it’s at least less likely if I had brought a girlfriend or two. Your conversation just goes a little further and a little longer when you don’t have anyone to return to. And yes, there are certain types of parties, where you’ll need to secure a date. For instance, if you work for a lot of women and you’re attending a work function, a date is a really good idea to protect against introducing your boss to some guy you just met at the bar.
But still, there’s something about being able to show up to a social function alone that will just open your world up to so many new experiences. A friend of mine whose identity I’m sworn to never reveal, started a social experiment last year to delve into this subject. She writes a fantastic blog called Girl At a Bar where she goes to a number of different bars every month, alone with no plans to meet up with anyone and she’s not allowed to be on her cellphone. She’s had some incredible experiences and all because she’s confident enough to simply be by herself. Her blog has actually inspired me to at times stop looking down at my iPhone and instead interact with the people next to me. I’m always shocked by people’s reactions when they hear about my friend’s experiment. The girls especially, react like she’s b.a.s.e. jumping and Girl At a Bar herself, writes about how when she goes out, people always pump her for reasons about why she’s there alone. But when you read her stories, you’ll see that having the courage to be alone has opened up her life to these incredible experiences. I can’t wait to see what the rest of December has in store for both of us!
Check out Girl At a Bar at www.girlatabar.com
December 6, 2010 | 9:30 am
Posted by Tamara Shayne Kagel
I’m in the middle of studying for law school finals right now which means I’m close to suicidal. Actually, I should be but I’m really just procrastinating – the joys of being a 3L I guess. Every year, about this time, as I’m hating law school finals like the fat girls in sixth grade hated me, I start to think about dropping out. I don’t hate law school, but the finals are just so momentously brutal, that as I sit here staring at my Fed Tax Outline, my mind starts to wonder, would being a Sugar Baby really be so bad? Being a lawyer seems equally dreadful but if I pick Sugar Baby, I don’t have to take this final Tuesday.
So right about this time of year, careful to hide the screen on my mac from my fellow coffee-shop hipsters, I usually start searching sites like sugardaddyforme.com and sugardaddie.com and wonder which would truly be worse: marrying someone for money? Or taking my finals and being a lawyer? Well, let’s compare:
Being a professionally kept woman would mean sex with an old man = Lawyer 1, Sugar Baby 0
But being a lawyer still means Winter Final Exams + Spring Final Exams + the Bar this summer = Lawyer 1, Sugar Baby 1
Becoming a Sugar Baby means Sugar Daddy is probably divorced and has a daughter who has 45 friends in common with me on Facebook = Lawyer 2, Sugar Baby 1
Another semester with annoying law school kids who started studying weeks ago, post Facebook statuses about how behind they are, and think the funniest thing in the world is any joke about 1Ls = Lawyer 2, Sugar Baby 2
Probably being asked to sign a prenup instead of knowing how to get around a prenup = Lawyer 3, Sugar Baby 2
Old man smell = Lawyer 4, Sugar Baby 2
Listening to the kids on law review talk about how tough being a god, I mean on law review = Lawyer 4, Sugar Baby 3
Probably being the only parent who can carry your child without throwing out your back = Lawyer 5, Sugar Baby 3
Being the only student who will go to my review session today and genuinely need to ask questions because I don’t understand something big that’s going to be on the test instead of listening to some kid ranked first in our class ask a question about the most irrelevant part of the tax code pre-1928 so he can show the professor how smart he thinks he is = Lawyer 5, Sugar Baby 4
Explaining to my kids how mommy and daddy met online at sugardaddie.com = Lawyer 6, Sugar Baby 4
Finding a law job, being a lawyer, working with other lawyers = Lawyer 6, Sugar Baby 5
Buying a senior discount ticket at the movie theatre on date night = Lawyer 7, Sugar Baby 5
Wearing suits everyday vs. wearing short designer dresses that are inappropriately extravagant for errands = Lawyer 7, Sugar Baby 6
Spending 80 hours a week doing discovery vs. leisurely writing my novel = Lawyer 7, Sugar Baby 7
Alright it’s 2am right now and I’m exhausted so it’s time to make a decision. Do I stay up to understand why section 1014(b)(6) of the tax code says that there’s a double step down basis for a surviving spouse if the property value of a house owned in joint tenancy has gone down…...or whoring myself out for the rest of my life. Damnit! I really thought I was convincing myself this time…
December 3, 2010 | 9:00 am
Posted by Tamara Shayne Kagel
I was reminded recently of one of the worst dates I ever went on and thought I’d share. A little while back, this guy, let’s call him Matt, asked me out. He was a lawyer with a degree from a fancy school whom I had met a few times before on the local Venice scene cause we had a bunch of friends in common. I really wasn’t expecting much but I was in one of those phases where you convince yourself you need to be open to more things, so even though he seemed pretty boring I said yes anyway.
He happened to pick a new restaurant where I actually knew the chef but I hadn’t been in yet to see the place so I was rather excited. Very quickly during dinner it became clear, we were both just completely wrong for each other. We disagreed about everything immediately. I’ve been a vegetarian for ten years and somehow he thought that since I was out with him and he was planning on paying I should order meat. I had to say “no really I don’t eat steak and I’m not just going to have a little now” like five times. He was rude to the server which as a former waitress myself, really irritated me. When the chef realized I was there, he came out and comp’d a few things for us. Matt was even rude to and dismissive of the chef.
I think he thought that because he was a lawyer and I was in law school and because we were both Jewish, we would just be perfect for each other. First of all, nothing irritates me more than when a guy thinks that because we’re both the same religion, he suddenly feels like there’s an instant love connection. It happens a lot. I don’t know if it’s just because I have a lot of girlfriends who mostly are not Jewish but without fail, some wannabe Hollywood agent will come up to me as the only brunette in a sea of blondes and he’ll ask me outright if I’m Jewish. I actually find this question inappropriate and rude in the first place, but then when I say yes, he’s suddenly drooling over the prospect of bringing a hot Jewish girl home to his mother. He’ll sidle up to me and smile like we share some intimate secret. It’s almost insulting; he assumes that because he knows what I probably studied in Hebrew school, he knows me on some deep sacred level. But I digress.
So Matt was some high powered lawyer telling me all about how much money he makes and the car he was going to get next year. So I explain to him, that while I do go to law school, I consider it more of a hobby, don’t like most lawyers, and spend most of my time on my artistic pursuits such as writing. He responds with “oh artsy stuff is cool. I like it, sort of.” He tells me more about the regular tables and bottle service he secures at the hottest clubs in town. I tell him I don’t care. He loves Sarah Palin. I have a t-shirt that says “Can I Be VP?” And so on as we both just watch the date get worse and worse. I find myself getting insulted and almost snapping at him. He snaps back, I remind myself to check domestic violence court cases for his name later. Honestly, by now, I’m sure we both just wanna get out of there as fast as possible. Finally, the check comes. He has the nerve to leave an embarrassingly low tip – at a restaurant where we had just been comp’d free food and I know the chef! He sees me looking at it and says something like “they deserved less.”
So afterward, I’m sure that the date must have been awful for him too and that he’ll be so relieved to never see me again. But no, the next day, he calls and asks me out again. What is this guy thinking?! This guy should hate me. He does hate me. How has he not realized this? I don’t get this false sense of connection people fool themselves into thinking is there because someone fits into some box you imagined your significant other would fit into. Literally, I just wanted to remind this guy – you hate liberal artsy vegetarians! You essentially told me you did. I’m one of those! Hate me! Please! Why are you asking me out again? Is that what dating has come to? People just give up and start squeezing the next thing that comes along into a box? It was really depressing.
I was thinking about it because I found myself recently thinking about my own boxes. I think Matt just had this idea in his head of who he was supposed to be with. He had just turned thirty-two and suddenly decided it was time to look for someone he could be serious with and he had always imagined himself marrying some pretty Jewish lawyer from Los Angeles. I must have been the first one he had met and he was determined to see if he could make that work. I just couldn’t believe how much else he was ignoring. I knew this guy hated me. You should have seen his look when I ordered my soy tacos. And yet still, here he was, asking me out again.
So I’m reminding myself today, to kick down my own boxes. Maybe not the box that wants him taller than me. But, I would much rather date someone who didn’t go to a good college but can stand being around me when I order dinner, then a jerk who did.