For the most part everything has happened easily. Yes, I’m 6’2”. Yes, I ended up in private school with a bunch of people I didn’t really know and barely had any close friends in high school. But that being said, the last harrowing chapter of my life ended in 2000. Sure, there have been some minor set-backs (see below if you’re curious). But for the most part my adult life had been smooth sailing. I’d worked my butt off in school and all other areas of my life. In return for my hard work I was rewarded with: an athletic scholarship to USC, two back-to-back well-paying prestigious law firm jobs, the opportunity to live in cities all over the country, fun and diverse friendships, two back-to-back stable, healthy and loving multi-year relationships with two very different men. It was a good story. It was a stable story. It was a safe story. My current reality, in early 2014 and staring my 32nd birthday in the face, is nowhere near good, stable or safe.
I had taken relationships for granted. Based on those experiences, I assumed that falling in love and finding myself in another stable healthy relationship would be quick and easy. Love had seemed to fall into my lap when I was younger and I assumed that trend would continue. I couldn’t have been more wrong. (See below: ex-boyfriend #3). In my six months in DC, I’ve been on more dates than I’d previously been on in my entire life. Not to mention the countless email and text message exchanges with men met through Tinder, OKCupid, and Match.com that never resulted in an actual date.
Thanks to a short relationship last year, I went from being the optimistic starry-eyed girl who believed in romance, love and happy endings to the sad girl at the bar continually lamenting her last horrible relationship. I’ve known women like this. The ones that just can’t get over it. The ones who just won’t stop talking about that damn relationship. They complain and cry to their mother, their brother, their co-workers, their friends, their twitter followers and even some strangers (Hey! Wait! Where are you going?). They post vague sub-tweets and inspirational quotes on Instagram and Tumblr about “moving on” and “turning the page”. (#Protip – if you’re posting inspirational quotes about “moving on” and “turning the page”, you have not moved on and you have certainly not turned the page). Despite my failed relationship, I forged ahead and moved to DC with no friends but a wily determination to prove to everyone that I could make it in this city! Needless to say, I’m not making it. I’m doing the opposite of making it. The only thing I’m making is a strong drink and a DiGiorno pizza.
Meanwhile, everyone has moved onward and upward. Ex-boyfriend #1’s son turns 3 next month. Ex-boyfriend #2 is currently in his second semester of his first year of law school and dating someone new. And, since ex-boyfriend # 3 and I are not in contact, I can only imagine that he’s engaged because that’s how stories like this one end. And me? The last guy I dated was a borderline stalker and I have no job. As I was complaining about the current state of my life for the 100,000th time to anyone with a wine glass and a pulse, I realized who I am becoming. I am becoming Marnie. You. Guys. I am totally becoming Marnie Michaels – the character from HBO’s Girls and often maligned as the most hated character on television currently.
I’ve become Marnie telling the same story about being dumped when she and Charlie were supposed to grill pizzas. They were supposed to grill pizzas! In my case, I had reservations to La Diplomate and Proof. I was all ready to pack for the perfect weekend and then I got dumped over the phone. I still haven’t been to effing Proof. Did you hear me? I. STILL. HAVEN’T. BEEN. TO. PROOF! (I need more wine)
Marnie Michaels, is the oldest friend of Girls main character Hannah Horvath, and has been described as “severe in her judgments, lack[ing in] self-awareness, and … ha[ving] a responsible streak that borders on annoying.” As Jezebel explained last year:
“Marnie’s character arc so far has been one of ongoing humbling. Her expectations have met reality, and her façade is cracking. This is a character who, over the course of the series, is being systematically disabused of all her illusions. And we the audience hate her for it — for being so “uptight,” for being silly enough to admit to having illusions in the first place — even as we lap it up as entertainment. But there is something noble in Marnie’s refusal to let herself fall apart visibly even as the life she was brought up to want — the stable long-term relationship, the job in a competitive creative field, the big-city apartment — is crumbling around her.”
In an essay titled “Pretty Girl Privilege” in the Los Angeles Review of Books, Anne Helen Petersen explained the inherent lesson of Marnie:
“The implicit message of [Marnie]? If you work hard — if you have great hair — you will get the things to which you are entitled. The job, the boy, the body, all yours, simply through the force of your American will. You don’t have to have charisma, per se, or even superlative, well, anything — you just have to be you and let things happen. Have a 15 year plan like Shoshana, only be less neurotic because no one has ever told you that you won’t get what you want in this life. You’re a pretty, skinny, moderately intelligent girl, and every piece of media you’ve consumed has told you that your life would go one way.
Only WAIT A SECOND, that’s all bullshit, because America is neither a meritocracy nor a prettitocracy: it’s all about connections, and no one in New York cares if you went to Oberlin and your mom has a solid upper middle class job as a real estate agent in New Jersey.”
Reading these articles, my mouth dropped. This is my life currently. I look at my transcripts and my resume and think “Come on! What more do you want!?” But I’ve been bitch-slapped with the realization that no one here in this city cares where I went to school, what I’ve done before or what I look like. My trump cards have all been ripped from my hands and I’m left with no hand to play. I’m left to start from scratch and pound the pavement like everyone else.
The same dilemma goes for dating here. I’m not unique, impressive or outstanding. (I’m speaking from a strictly metric standpoint. I’m in no way implying that I think I’m unattractive. Dammit. Now I sound pretentious). I’m tall (but most guys aren’t looking for that). I’m intelligent, hardworking and, at one time, had a prestigious job. My educational background is similar to most single women in this city. I work out regularly. I read the Economist. I watch House of Cards. I know a little bit about wine. I spent time thinking up a theme for the décor of my apartment. I put together a bar cart for my apartment complete with liquor decanters and monogrammed hi-ball glasses. I shop at Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s. In other words, nothing separates me from thousands of women in this city. The name of the game is connections – in work and in love. And, I’m in the infancy of building a network. This city is teaching me that I must be patient and work harder than I ever have in my life.
This is a very frustrating time period for me and my inner Marnie has been on a tear. Just ask any of my close friends. More accurately, ask any of my close friends after you give them a glass of wine. (Or go back and read some of this blog – at times its insightful and at other times its annoying and lacking self awareness). So, I’ll admit it. (At times) I’ve been naive, immature, tone-deaf and insufferable. It’s fine. I’ll own it.
I know it’s been a tiring 2014 (2013 was no picnic either. Sorry!) to be my friend but rest assured:
I even made you a playlist: