Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Relationship News Roundup

Deadlines and Social Media Not Just for Work.
Neenah Pickett, 43, sets up a Web site for help in her 52-week search to find The One. She's on week 15. She only blogs about once a week (who am I to judge!), because, well, she's been busy going on dates. Featured today on CNN, the highlight of the story is a quote from Janet Page, a self-improvement professor at Emory: "Women who don't smile are perceived as hostile. Women perceive men who don't smile as being unsafe. But of course, your best smilers in the world are sociopaths."

Friendships help you live longer. Really.
The New York Times reported on several studies that correlated survival rates of older people with serious illnesses with the number of friendships the patients had. One study in particular stood out: a six-year study of 736 middle-age Swedish men found that attachment to a single person (read: spouse) didn’t appear to affect the risk of heart attack and fatal coronary heart disease, but having friendships did. Only smoking was as important a risk factor as lack of social support. Does this mean I can keep smoking as long as my friendships are healthy?

The Craigslist Killer is Engaged!
The day after Phillip Markoff, the suspect in one robbery and one murder of victims found through Craigslist, was arrested, his fiance made the media rounds to defend him. "Philip is a beautiful person inside and out and could not hurt a fly!" she wrote in an email to ABC. If a court of law clears him, then great. I hope they get the real bad guy. But if he's really the killer, this fiance's either going to have a wedding behind bars and lose all her vendor deposits or be dealing with a broken engagement AND the fact that she was madly in love with a woman-hating, cold-hearted, two-faced killer. And we all thought our break-ups were brutal.

Teenage girls blame Rihanna
Rumor has it that RiRi is planning a North American "women empowerment" tour in the fall, this on the heels of a widely publicized domestic violence incident with Chris Brown. Guess she didn't get this memo. But you've got to give it to Rihanna, who is beautiful and a good sport, as seen in this video at 5:02:

Friday, April 17, 2009

Vermont, Gay Marriage, Gender Roles. Oh my!

I try to skirt heteronormativity here on Shut Up and Love, and for the most part, it's easy, because love is a matter of the heart, not the genitalia. The posts about marriage, though, tend to skew to my hetero readers, because in 46 states and many countries, my gay readers are not allowed to marry.

I'd welcome topics that are exclusive to homosexual relationships (how about some courtship etiquette rules, anybody?), because even when I write about gay marriage and homophobia, the post is really about tolerance, which applies to everyone, gay, straight, or bi.

I'm more than a week overdue for a shoutout to Vermont, but the crux of the issue will be a topic for a while. (Yesterday, New York Governor David Paterson introduced a bill to the state Assembly to allow gay marriage. Fingers crossed for love!)

First, why, in a free federalist country, will my fellow countrymen go to the trouble of contributing $30 million dollars to a campaign against gay marriage in another state (California) when their own communities probably itch for funds toward ongoing problems like poverty, job losses, and stretched school districts? (This is not about right or left politics, either: 65% of California Democrats who voted for Obama voted for Proposition 8, and against gay marriage, on the same ballot.)

And secondly, per Audre Lorde, racism, sexism, and homophobia all stem from the same human blindness, the notion that difference is threatening rather than enriching. Therefore, we cannot win against one prejudice unless we fight against them all at once. Yesterday, an NYTimes parenting blog addressed the issue of young boys killing themselves after bullies called them names like "fag." This comment on the post in particular stunned me, as I recognized truth in it:
I went to a conference on bisexuality about 15 years ago. A woman there said to me, “I wish you gay men would stop putting your energy into fighting homophobia and instead put your energy into eradicating misogyny. Because the problem society has with gay men isn’t that they’re with other men - it’s that they’re men who are “acting like women.” If it were ok to be a woman in this culture, homophobia would just disappear.” I think she’s right.— Jess Thompson-Adams, commenting on a NYTimes blog post.

Just yesterday, I spoke at my alma mater about women and minorities in public relations. I warned the college juniors and seniors to look more closely at the women in leadership positions at prospective employers. Are they women? Or are they men with breasts, women who were only allowed to advance because they imitated men? Seriously, gender roles need to be updated to reflect reality: that men want to be good parents, too, that historically 10% of folks are born gay and still manage to make meaningful contributions to society -gasp!- that modern women are having a collective meltdown juggling antiquated gender roles and current economic realities.

Or maybe they don't need to be updated. After all...

(Photos courtesy of Sarah B. who took them at a Proposition 8 rally in Los Angeles.)

Toughest, Most General Post Yet. Help?

"Women are ready to settle down when they meet the right guy; men meet the right girl when they're ready to settle down."

I want badly to blog about this adage, but who wants to ask a girlfriend heartbreaking or heartbroken from devotion unreciprocated to go on record about this?  Who wants to ask a guyfriend whether they mind a blog post about how he dumped a girl after several years and then got engaged to the next girlfriend in mere months (which might hurt both his ex and his beloved)?  NOT ME.  

The few times I've gathered the backbone to even utter this to a girlfriend were for the purpose of shortening already extreme and protracted suffering from a guy that would never commit, but would never have the balls to break up until he was ready to move on and find his wife.  It's agonizing to tell a teary friend that she's amazing, but that her awesomosity might not ever matter to her love.

Perhaps I am a beneficiary of this phenomenon.  I wrote in an older post that my Beloved and I "are different on all the little things, but agree on all the big things."  Would I need the diamond index in the sidebar, if we'd met before he was at a point in his life to consider the big things?  He called just now, and I asked him.  Of course, he says he doesn't know that he would have started thinking about the long term with a different person.  Basically, I couldn't even wretch a solid supporting/detracting anecdote from my own boyfriend. 

I need help writing this post!  Please comment about yours or "your friend's" experiences.  We need details (not the flat archetypes I've been citing) to explore whether this truism is actually true at all.  

Tuesday, April 7, 2009


My bridesmaid dress arrived recently for a wedding Saturday after next. I tried it on this weekend to find that it doesn't fit like it did when I ordered it in January. That is to say, it doesn't fit at all.

With huffing and puffing, there's still a solid 2-inch valley between the zippers. Needless to say, I'm eating like a monk and working out like Alex Owens. With vigilance, I hope, the bride will never have to know (she doesn't read the blog, no worries). If this ends well, I might regale the groom later with stories of how close his wedding party was to looking like a boxer with one missing tooth.

I feel hungry, fat, and sore. And I am so grateful that this is the biggest problem I have right now. Thank you, thank you, thankyou.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Cultural Differences: Stuff That Rocks

"Cultural Differences: The Part That Sucks" was a buzzkill, I know. But I told you this would be a series, and here it continues with stuff that rocks about intercultural relationships, collected from friends in cross-cultural families. If y'all send me more (email in the bio linked at right), there will be a sequel.


My Beloved taught me a game his family used to play on roadtrips called Rivers, Cities, Countries. Mom or Dad picks a letter of the alphabet, and everyone in the car tries to think of a river, city, and country that start with that letter, and whoever comes up with a complete list first wins. He balked when I said Nippon (Japanese for Japan) for "N" even though he picked Deutschland for "D." Keep in mind, he'd been explaining all the rules and announcing each round in English. When he was about to lose the "N" round, all of a sudden, the game was supposed to be played in German. "Are you effin' kidding me!" I exclaimed, because I am very competitive. "How can there be on official language for Rivers, Cities, Countries!"

Because intercultural couples aren't even supposed to exist, by most traditions, there are no rules that automatically apply, but all traditions are fair game. (Here in the U.S., we had "anti-miscegenation" laws (for example, the Cable Act of 1922 which would strip a woman of her American citizenship if she married an Asian man, yup, two years after women's suffrage) until the Supreme Court struck them down in 1967 in Loving vs. Virginia.)

Take this family, for example:

Dad is Czech. Mom is Japanese. They are celebrating American Thanksgiving in Minnesota with Indian, Pilgrim, and Bunny hats. Why is my college friend Emiko wearing a bunny hat? Because all traditions, even Easter ones on American Thanksgiving, are game.

Amy, hometown girl from when I lived in Texas, had a beautiful wedding in Dallas, Texas, which I got to go to, and THEN she had another one in Japan with her mother-in-law's family. "So I guess a perk is getting to wear your wedding dress twice for two different wedding receptions." (Note: Mike is wearing the kimono that his great grandfather wore at his wedding with their family crest.)

"I'm Panamanian mixed races, black, Asian, white, and my husband is Mexican." -Madelynn, high school friend, talking about how her baby Jolette is so friggin' cute:

Oh, and here's a close-up of the Thanksgiving bunny and pilgrim:

"Our wedding was TOTAL fusion. It was a Pakistani, Mexican, American, Dutch wedding -- one ceremony, not two traditional, segmented ones like some Asian friends of mine have. We had two magazines cover the wedding in Dallas (one was Dallas Brides published by the fabulous Modern Luxury), because it was so unique.

Our wedding was and Coleman and I are the New America and each and every person there had a new experience and wonderful insights into different cultures. Coleman and I did it our way and created a weekend of flavor, sights, sounds and a love that were truly global and so representative of the communities, people, experiences, religions and cultures we were about to bring together as one." -
Nabeeha, girl-crush and colleague at my last job. (We're in PR; that's why she knows who publishes what magazine).

"You would think Beau would be all about football, being from the South, and I would be heavily into cricket or something. But it turns out that Beau went to a non-football school and wasn't really into it...while i am a proud member of the Bulldawg nation who bleeds red & black. He had to learn about REAL football (aka SEC) from a little Indian girl, and I converted him into a UGA fan. :)"

"Also, I think it's interesting that it's actually THREE cultures involved here: Beau's Southernness, Priya's Indianness, and Priya's Americanness, because I like to think I have two sides -one that's UGA football, the other that's chicken tikka masala. :) " - Priya, friend from college, whose epic wedding I'm in this September!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Addendum: When to Say I Love You

In the post "When to Say I Love You," I wrote "I'm formulating a theory that once you start farting shamelessly around each other, it's time to discuss a lifelong commitment. Thoughts?" It was among the most commented-upon questions I've posed on this blog, so that the conversation even spilled offline where GL at his coffee table made a persuasive argument with words (and wind) that flatulence and fondness have absolutely nothing to do with each other.

Today, Daily Candy, the cheeky daily style blog, featured the "Better Marriage Blanket." While the application of chemical warfare technology to domestic bedding doesn't prove any conclusion outright, I think it establishes the connection which is the premise of my fledgling idea. Otherwise, they would have called it a "Better Solitude Blanket" or a "Better Meaningless Sex Blanket" or a "Passing the time with someone you know isn't right, but hey, she's there Blanket."

GL, I always knew you cared.


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