Girl Crush

Three years ago, while at a two-day conference for work, I sat next to a pretty girl from Portland, OR. It wasn’t until near the end of our second day there that we struck up a conversation and I found her to be incredibly sweet and interesting; within no time I was feeling that excitement build, the same thing that happens with a romantic crush — so thrilled, in this case, to have made a friend.

After the conference ended, but before our respective flights, we decided to get some snacks and drinks nearby. After several hours of good conversation, we took a cab to the airport together and — despite needing to be in separate terminals — we found a spot near her gate to grab dinner.

I put my number in her phone, she put her number in mine. As we parted ways with an enthusiastic hug, I felt so giddy having connected so quickly with someone — a rare occurrence for an introvert like me. (Making friends is really hard when you spend most of your time at home, it turns out.)

I got settled on the plane and pulled out my phone to send her a brief text, to wish her a safe flight and thank her for being such good company, only to find her number wasn’t there.

Did she forget to click “save” when she entered her phone number? Did she purposefully not put in her number and I just misread all these signs of blossoming friendship? I know I saved mine in her phone — perhaps she would message me?

Three years later, she never has and I still don’t know what happened. Is this was it feels like to be ghosted after a date?

Girl crushes with “real” people are, without question, a bit more emotionally fraught and challenging to navigate because there really is some potential to develop a friendship — and also have your platonic-heart broken.

It’s far safer to crush on celebrities, I say. Currently, for me, it’s all about (Goddess Incarnate) Jessica Chastain, who — aside from being a stunner and Meryl Streep-level actor — loves animals, practices what she preaches, and her Manhattan apartment is to die for. (The fact that she owns decor items once belonging to Lauren Bacall — my sister’s and my earliest girl crush — really solidified our love for her.)

My feelings can easily be summed up as admiration, topped by a twinge of envy — essential components of a good girl crush, wouldn’t you agree?

YouTuber Jenna Marbles kinda nails it when she sums up the “three tiers of girl crushes” straight women commonly have:

First level girl crush is, “I love you” like “I wanna be your best friend.” […]

Second tier girl crush is “I love you a lot” kinda like “I wanna be you.” […]

And the third level of girl crush is “Given the right circumstances, I would make a scissor sandwich with you.”

I’m a solid Tier 1 in my love for Jessica, possibly because I tend to fantasize more about having cool, rich, awesome friends than I do about being cool, rich, and awesome myself. It’s certainly not for lack of wanting to be those things, but rather that I value good, strong female friendships above almost anything else — and who would say no to a few extra perks?

Sure, being Oprah sounds super exciting, but goodness, wouldn’t you rather be Gale — all the benefits but only a fraction of the stress? I know I would!

The New York Times also had an article about the “girl crush” way back in 2005, though even then it was certainly “not a new phenomenon”:

[A] girl crush [is] a phrase that many women in their 20’s and 30’s use in conversation, post on blogs and read in magazines. It refers to that fervent infatuation that one heterosexual woman develops for another woman who may seem impossibly sophisticated, gifted, beautiful or accomplished. And while a girl crush is, by its informal definition, not sexual in nature, the feelings that it triggers — excitement, nervousness, a sense of novelty — are very much like those that accompany a new romance.

In the same NYT article, Helen Fisher, an anthropologist and author of Why We Love: The Nature and Chemistry of Romantic Love, says:

As I navigate an adulthood where making friends has proven so much more difficult than I could have anticipated it would be while I was still in school, girl crushes have become more prevalent in my day-to-day life — with people I meet or already know — than it ever was before. And since I am happily married and haven’t had a crush on a man in over 8 years, those feelings seem to have funneled exclusively towards women with whom I would just love to be friends.

The brain system for romantic love is associated with intense energy, focused energy, obsessive things — a host of characteristics that you can feel not just toward a mating sweetheart. […] There’s every reason to think that girls can fall in love with other girls without feeling sexual towards them, without the intention to marry them.

Some girls are just so cool, you know?

For now, I’ll focus on the talented, intelligent, beautiful celebrities I’m feeling smitten for these days, who will never have an opportunity to ghost me after a conference in Vegas.

(Jessica Chastain photos by Ioulex for Flaunt Magazine and James White for Piaget)

Heartbroken — and Full of Anger

On Wednesday, at least 17 people — children and adults — were gunned down at a high school in Parkland, Florida. The perpetrator was one man who, it should come as no surprise to mention, was carrying a AR-15-style assault rifle and massive quantities of ammunition.

How can this still be happening?

I don’t know what else to say at this point. I’m heartbroken, but mostly — I’m really fucking mad.

There’s no debate to be had here. On one side there are people who prioritize human life — the lives of innocent children — and who are clamoring for smarter, common-sense gun laws, and on the other side there are those who do not and are not: Those who value the rights of a redneck with a gun fetish over the lives of American children, teachers, people going about their days in peace; those who believe it is more important to preserve the right for a person with a history of violent mental illness to buy an assault rifle without a hassle than it is for parents in the United States of fucking America to drop their kids off at school without having to pray that they will make it home without bullet holes.

I am full of sadness. I am full of piping hot rage. And rage, like dairy, courses through and exits my body as fire.

In the wake of this unconscionable crime — one which a mere ban on useless assault weapons could have prevented (and no, he would not have “found a way” no matter what — check your facts) — there are, of course, important things to remember and consider as we mourn:

Giving thanks to the heroes of Douglas High who saved lives. Taking a moment to consider the words of kids who lived through this terror, some of who’s parents had to experience the abject terror of a text that read “If I don’t make it I love you and I appreciated everything you did for me.”

How can this be happening — again?

I’m furious at every heartless talking head who deflects the immediate need for gun control legislation, particularly when the majority of Americans want it. I want to strangle every person with the power to do something now who says the words “thoughts and prayers” and then does nothing — or has the audacity to blame the victims.

Tom McAllister of The Rumpus speaks my language as he describes with the kind of frankness that comes when there is bile and fire in your throat what to do with his body if he dies in a mass shooting:

Every day, pile more bodies in the halls [of the Capitol] so they can’t go anywhere without stepping over the victims. Force them to look down at a dead body and lift their leg over it as if stepping over a puddle. Don’t join them in their prayers (the god they pray to doesn’t exist). When they step over my dead body, I want them to look down into my vacant eyes and reckon with the way it ended. I want them to be transported into my mind and feel what I felt after being shot. In those final moments—as I bled out onto the tile floor of the mall, or onto the grass outside a summer concert, or in the dirt of the center city beer garden, or in the middle of my fucking classroom—I would be thinking of all the ways my own country has abandoned its people (for profit, for spite, for no reason at all).

This rage, this helplessness, this heartache is exhausting and infuriating. With every life pointlessly lost, it’s impossible not to lose hope that something might finally — at some point — change. I fear Dan Hodges was right years ago, after another mindless string of killings, when he said: “In retrospect Sandy Hook marked the end of the US gun control debate. Once America decided killing children was bearable, it was over.”

How can we be here?

My father and I hadn’t discussed the event until last night, but when we did, my rage was echoed. I’m not on Facebook anymore, so I hadn’t been privy to the discourse among my friends and family, which no doubt was a veritable mountain of sadness and anger in the face of more tragedy and impossibly stupid clichés like “Guns don’t kill people; people kill people” and other such garbage.

My dad did share with me something he wrote with similar blood and tears in his eyes, and I’d like to share it here, with you:

Will our children and grandchildren — will anyone’s children and grandchildren — continue to become statistics in a war upon our society by those using guns to settle a score, or release their hatred, or tap the black vein of racism in their hearts? Unfortunately I think they will. Because we continue to elect people at all levels of government who put their careers, campaign coffers, and comfort ahead of doing their jobs: protecting the people and nation they have sworn to serve.

We know the numbers: 17 in Parkland, Florida; 58 in Las Vegas; 26 at Sandy Hook… In two years of random carnage in America, more men, women and children have been killed than in all the years of the Vietnam War combined (58,220). Just sit back and think of that. Where is The Wall for these victims of gun violence? Where is the slashing black marble slab with the names of the honored and mourned, those innocents now dead? Unfortunately, ‘The Wall’ is carried in too many hearts and memories all across our country. It is an unwelcome visitor that divides what was from what could have been. 17 people (so far) whose parents and grandparents and aunts and uncles and cousins and brothers and sisters and friends will never see them sit again at their table to eat, never see them grab that diploma and throw their cap in the air, never see them marry or have children or live out their dreams. What kind of country is this? What kind of country are we going to be? Is everyone in the nation going to have to suffer a tragedy in his or her family before something is done? Anything is done?

I don’t know about you but I’m tired of hearing excuses and having our President or Congressional Representatives brush aside even having a civil conversation about what we might do together to save even ONE CHILD! I understand we have elected the spineless and the fearful to office, but is that what we have become as well?

Have you lost someone you love to a normal, peaceful, non-violent death? How did you feel? What was that grief like? Now multiply it 17, 58, 26 times and imagine what the survivors of these mass shootings must feel like. Don’t talk about “thoughts and prayers” when the result is inaction and complacency. The excuses, at this point, make me sick.

Tell those close to you that you love them. Hug your babies and your friends and your parents and your siblings and your pillow, but also:

Call your senators, your representatives, your “not all gun owners” uncle and tell them you are full of sadness and rage too. Tell them it is no longer acceptable that more lives are lost as a result of greed, or because their hobby, somehow, is prioritized over a legitimate threat to actual lives.

And with that, I’ll leave you with this tweet by the wonderful Bess Kalb — which sums up my perspective on assault weapons:

Stay safe, friends. I love you.

Psst… If you’re able, consider donating to as another tangible way to fight against the gun lobby and culture of gun violence in this country.

(Top photo via The Independent)

The Anxiety-Ridden Uncertainty of (Our) Love

On January 14th, Jonathan and I celebrated our 8th anniversary of being together, but we didn’t actually have our first official date until Valentines Day — exactly eight years ago today.

The story of us finally getting together is a weird one, mostly because it took us so damn long. In a way, I see it as a cautionary tale for nervous people, the moral of the story being: Just tell the person you like how you feel. The result could potentially be the best thing that’s ever happened to you…

Jon and me Drama Promo 2008
skinny, drunk dummies mere hours after their first kiss(es), May 2008

It was 2009 and I was living in Seattle (alone and broke); he had returned from an MA program in England and was living with his dad in Santa Barbara. In college, we’d spent a good two years flirting (with many late nights talking about anything and everything) and all that sexual tension culminated in our first kiss (finally!) just 3 weeks before graduating. Our initial thought was this is it — but truth be told, it was a rocky time for us both, and things didn’t end smoothly due to lots and lots of feelings/factors.

Then, I moved home.

It’s funny looking back on that time in our lives, because we really were so silly and foolish and — as my roommates would admit, without much prodding — annoying.

For all intents and purposes, things felt very much over between us, basically before they ever got started. Nevertheless, in 2009, during my first full year in Seattle, Jonathan drove up and visited me three separate times. Each time there was tension and secret thoughts of making something happen again, but each time neither of us did or said a thing.

just two friends, still with lots of feelings, in a Seattle graveyard, November 2009

By this point I had decided I didn’t want to have a relationship with him because we really were such good friends and I simply did not have time for someone not willing to make his feelings known. (Pot, meet Kettle.)

That said, I was still fairly sure he had lingering feelings for me — confirmed by the phone call I got from him as the ball dropped on New Year’s Eve 2010. I was at a concert in Seattle, he was in Las Vegas, both of us were drunk, and he was stumbling through an attempt to find out… basically how I was doing. Even without overtly saying what he wanted, this was easily the most emotionally revealing he had been with me, and I remember turning to my friend and going “Uh oh. What do I do?”

Stacy NYE 210 The Crocodile Seattle
yours truly, resident bonehead, NYE 2010

Then, exactly two weeks later on January 14, 2010, I received a letter from him over Facebook. I say “letter” and not “message” because this was a letter, you know, the kind you can tell was written (and edited, then re-edited) in a Word document first. I saw it in the morning while at work and oouu boy, did it take me by surprise.

I won’t post the whole thing here, because some things are best left private ifyaknowuddamean, but here is the pared down version with all of the super nervous/shy/ultra personal parts (so, like, 87% of it) removed:

I like you. I don’t know why that’s such an awkward thing to say, but it is. I like you, and I’ve liked you for a very long time…

I’ve been thinking about you a lot in the past few months. I called you on new years eve because, honestly, the only person I wanted to be with on new years was you…

I care for you a hell of a lot, and think you are an amazing person who is interesting and funny and creative and beautiful and kind and intelligent — and honestly, no one in my life makes me smile quite like you do.

I want to give being with you a chance, even if it’s not easy. I feel if I don’t at least try I’m going to regret it for the rest of my life.

Fun fact: the same day I received Jonathan’s letter (what is now our official anniversary) I actually had a date with someone else. I could have cancelled it, but in all honesty I didn’t know how I felt or what I really wanted… that is, not until mid-way through my Pad Thai, face-to-face with a very sweet man who, it turns out, I just wasn’t that into because I couldn’t stop thinking about Jonathan and how desperately I wanted this date to end so I could tell him Yes.

That night, immediately after my date, I wrote Jonathan an even longer letter to tell him just that.

It was almost a month before he was able to come and visit me in Seattle. By that point, a thousand texts and dozens of phone calls had taken place. He arrived and we picked up like our relationship had already been established for years.

On Valentine’s Day 2010, Jonathan took me on our first date — Italian food and wine at the delicious and romantic (and, I’m devastated to learn, no longer in business) Brad’s Swingside Cafe in Seattle’s Fremont district.

I knew that night I was in love with him.

Three months later, he moved in with me.

Stacy and Jonathan May 2010 Elsie's Santa Barbara
newly-minted lovebirds in Santa Barbara, May 2010

Jonathan —

Thank you for being the brave one and writing to me all those years ago. In some ways I lament the time we wasted being so dumb, but I know it helped us be as sure as we were about taking that leap beyond friendship.

I’m blessed to be spending our 9th Valentine’s Day together which have more than made up for the 23 previous ones we spent alone. In addition to being the love of my life, you’re my best friend; eight years, lots of furry babies, and one Fayby later, you are still the person I want to spend my time with and talk to above anyone else.

I love you, always, more and more every day. Let’s keep eating pasta, making babies, and living out our dreams together. What do you say?

x Stacy

A Moment of Calm: The Scottish Highlands

“Staring into a Scottish landscape, I have often asked myself why — in spite of all appearances — bracken, rocks, man and sea are at some level one.”

Neal Ascherson – Stone Voices: The Search for Scotland
Scotland Jean-Paul Mission Flickr 2015-05-08
Scotland Desirèe Fumagalli Flickr 2011-08-15
Stronachlachar Scotland Vin 64 Flickr 2015-05-25
Untamed Scotland Trotternish Range Daniel Bosma Flickr 2009-08-18
Scotland Scottish Highlands Mason Wendell 2016-07-11
Scotland Scottish Highlands Cedric Converset Flickr 2007-11-17

(Photo credits, top to bottom: David Damaskinos; Jean-Paul MissionDesirèe Fumagalli; Vins 64; Daniel Bosma; Mason Wendell; Cedric Converset)