She looks better out of her clothes than in them. And she looks pretty good in her clothes.

She looks better out of her clothes than in them. And she looks pretty good in her clothes.

These are the words that I have chosen to define my twenties. Not because I spent them naked. Or because the decade was defined by how I look, but because I seemed to do alright when really I was over the top incredible.

That said, the phrase has been expressed more than once (if with variations in vocabulary) and other girls boyfriends have nodded sagely, their eyes glazing over with brief remembrance, before coming to their senses. They’ve never actually had the sense to date me for more than a couple of months, but that had nothing to do with me. Probably. Hopefully.

Anyway, there’s more to life than love, and there’s been plenty to love. Three careers in, I started a company in a foreign country with no money and while it’s mostly felt like a Prometheus and the rock sort of experience looking back I’ve done quite a lot that I’m really rather proud of. Happy clients, rent paid, and a few astonishingly supportive friends. My threshold for thriving possibly needs to be reassessed.

While still secretly baffled at what winning at life would actually look like, I’ve decided to give the woman I’ve been a break for not exceeding every expectation on the grounds of having chased every dream, and more than a few whims. Not to say that they were all met with rampant success, but, especially in that case, I did it anyway and I can forgive myself a host of other mistakes on that alone.

I’ve tokened myself the queen of trying, and the failure analytics are irrelevant when there is some success to focus on and an almost entirely empty slate of regrets.

As with every new year, I will look to take the good into the next decade with me, and leave the mistakes behind. My clothes will have to do their best to keep up.




It is human nature to try and find patterns. In what we do, what other people do, in your peas at the dinner table.

When I got my fifth ‘Thanks, but no thanks’ text from someone I had been seeing (which was also the third ‘I’m getting back together with my ex-girlfriend, see ya’ text) in the last couple years I couldn’t help but think it might be me. This, despite every assurance that it was not me. Unfortunately, none of these gentlemen advanced past the cliché. My taste is possibly the problem.

As a results oriented person dwelling on the problem was not going to be enough. The potential solutions appeared to be market myself as a professional reunite-er:

“Take me out and your Ex will take you back in two months or less – guaranteed!”

Or, I could try my best to interrupt the pattern. Doing the same thing and expecting a different result is the definition of insanity, so this seems the healthier, if less lucrative, option.

I’m not totally sure what that looks like yet, but I feel as though not being quite so nice about being set aside like last week’s box set is a good place to start.

And so, to keep to this new resolution I decided to forgo my usual ‘It’s alright, no hard feelings’ response. It might be true, and, clearly, none of them were my soul mate, but that doesn’t mean I have to make it easy.

When I finally texted back this last time I said the only thing that could be said,

“I’m not wearing any underwear”





A Cautionary Fail

A Cautionary Fail

There are so many things that girls do when they are getting ready to go out. And a few extra things when getting ready to go out on a first date. Even with hours of preparation, part of you is always ready for something to go, if not wrong, then not quite right. That’s why you bring three different lip products, a pen, and a bottle opener (just me?). But there are some things you do not worry about. Things you take for granted. Things like your ability to open doors.

It’s the sort of thing that I would normally chalk up to being the kind of incident that would and could only happen to me, except that is not the case. My first thought when I realised I could not open a door was that a friend of mine had been in the exact same situation months before and I hadn’t really understood what she meant. But I did now. So, of course I texted her to let her know that she was not alone. But I was. Trapped on the wrong side of a door I could not open.

How did I get from first dates to locked doors? And were the authorities involved? No, legal action was not taken against my date, but a friend did later suggest that I was technically a hostage. I feel it is important to share this story for the sake of preventing its repetition and simply making you feel less alone if this was once you and you thought you were the only one. Since the evening did include interaction with another person, who possibly does not want moments of their lives explicitly detailed on the internet, I hope you will forgive the necessarily vague descriptions.

Boy asked out girl. Girl met boy at restaurant. Boy and girl ate food. Boy and girl had drinks. Then they had some more drinks. Girl came in for one more drink. She was then more surprised than she should have been that drink was not only thing on boy’s mind. She very sensibly made her way to the door… and could not, for the life of her, open it. The knob turned but the door did not open. The lock flipped, but the door did not open. Boy could not conceptualize that girl couldn’t open a door (nice of him really) and continued wooing efforts. Girl used wiles to get boy to open door for her and ran away home.

Don’t be that girl. There’s no living it down. I still have no idea how he opened the door.

Holy Moly Land

My staid existence was recently both stirred and shaken. This was not a particularly difficult thing to do, since as I mentioned before, very very staid. Coming off of months of teaching teenagers in return for a PDF (instead of money) I literally could not have imagined a better idea than fleeing the country. Israel took this challenge- to reinvigorate my very being- extremely seriously.

masada sunrise

From the first sleepy days in Tel Aviv thinking “gee, this looks a whole lot like Southern California” except for the whole I’m in Asia, and this is the Mediterranean part; to the last day in the Golan Heights, savoring every moment of the last sunrise over the hills and sheep before I had to leave, the trip was incomparably magical. I rode a camel, introduced s’mores to the country and climbed an ancient mountain in a 24 hour period. I made some friends and kissed some boys. And I may or may not have worn Ugg boots to a night club (I will never confirm).

My teacher tendencies only escaped my careful tethering when it came time to organize Shabbat. My lack of aptitude with Hebrew notwithstanding, I can power trip an event without trying. There was candy. And crafts.

I had the privilege to experience the supreme pleasure that is taking off 5 layers of clothes that I slept in and a sports bra, slathering my entire body in mud, and wading into the Dead Sea. And then the supreme honor to tour Yad Vashem mere weeks before International Holocaust Remembrance Day, and seven months after my visit to the DC museum, under the tutelage of a fellow history teacher. Given my recent writings and rumination on my own family’s experience in this vein that day was particularly evocative. The Israeli people are incredibly open and engaged and refreshingly forthright. This meant I was told to eat new and delicious foods that I probably wouldn’t have chanced on my own, and enjoyed immensely, while deciphering Hebrew conversation- mostly through a thorough analysis of expressive body language and inflection. Turns out pasta should always have sweet potatoes in it.

israel cities sign

I saw Israeli soldiers with M16s across their lap texting their friends and Hasidic rabbis on scooters. Walked on three thousand year old stone pathways and touched a wall that has brought peace and hope to millions. My new Israeli friends gave me a new perspective on life with the realities of military service, managing interesting and unfounded stereotypes, and the importance of hummus. The only thing I could have asked for is to have stayed a little longer.

Everything about this trip felt like a much needed deep breath. And if the transitional space that I find myself in results in a return trip, then so be it.

Nothing to do With Ships

Helen of Troy

It is way past time for me to explain the seemingly narcissistic title of my blog. I’m good for a free dessert and a tire change now and then, but I don’t go around claiming to inspire the launch of a thousand ships with my face. I leave that to Helen and her passionate philandering. It also has nothing to do with any kind of Orlando Bloom fan scenario.

It all started one balmy September night on the streets of Boston. I had just moved to the city and was walking with a group of strangers in an awkward meet and greet situation. There was a very nice, but not entirely fortunate looking Asian man in the group, and in the interest of not being a bitchy, lonely hag we were having a perfectly pleasant conversation. Now, I do need to mention that while there may not be wars fought in my honor (or for someone else’s honor, based on their misogynistic ownership of me as a sex object) I am extremely good at giving any and all people the wrong idea about my intentions and expectations by simply smiling at them. Not like a lingerie model, rip-this-lace-off-my-nipples smile, just my normal hey-life-makes-me-giggle smile. Apparently it comes with an addendum of please-treat-me-like-a-slut that I was mostly unaware of until college. Something about the one dimple, I’m sure.

So he starts flirting and I stop smiling, while trying to enact some anti-flirting maneuvers. And his final ploy is putting my name into his phone as Hillary of Troy, which I have to say is both creative and flattering (if odd, since I did not give him my phone number). Not so flattering that I am going to indulge the mixed messages of my smiling by throwing myself on the first mildly creepy Asian gentleman I meet. But nice enough to name my blog after, certainly. So it is that the compilation of my most clever observances and interesting happenings rests under a title I stole. I don’t feel bad about it when I consider it’s conception came from the honest place of wanting to have sex with me.

This is not nearly as good a reward for him, especially considering he doesn’t know about this blog, but it’s all he’s going to get. Which is more than I can say for the contributors of complimentary tiramisu in my life. And to be fair, the last time I saw him was when he attempted to accost me in a glass elevator, so maybe he managed a boob graze or something that makes up for my blatant plagiarism of his seduction techniques.

I feel much better now that I can stop imagining all of you angrily assuming that my lack of recent posts is due to getting lost in my own eyes while staring at my reflection. And smiling.


Boobs Are Never Lonely

I think it’s high time I talk about breasts in a public forum – it was only a matter of time really. It’s one of those topics of conversation that always comes up and kind of gets old, but before you know it boobs are new and exciting again. And that is because they are awesome. It’s pretty general knowledge that guys think so but I’m fairly certain that an honest survey of women would elicit the same answer. Personally, I LOVE my boobs. They’re perky and squishy and all around lovely. And there is something special about knowing that one is very slightly bigger than the other (I’m not telling you which).

Once, in middle school, all the guys in class were crowded around a picture of some model in a bikini and they wouldn’t let any of the girls in class see. So I promptly looked down my own top and told all the boys that I could look at boobs anytime I wanted to. So there. I was responsible for a lot of shocked stares that day, but what those guys, and more importantly all of the girls, learned was that they possessed orbs of power. Some more than others of course, we were like twelve.  By the simple expedient of having boobs girls find out they can command attention, influence thought,and inspire action. The “Why” of it isn’t so important. It could be because they are so protected and forbidden in Western cultures. Or some Freudian maternal complex. Or just because they’re fun, which they totally are. What I find more fascinating is the unimaginable usefulness of symmetrical fat receptacles conveniently available on one’s chest. I would like this bartender to make my drink first, I think I shall lean over. For whatever reason I’m always a little pleasantly amazed when these transparent sorts of tactics work, but I can’t argue with the outcome. I have never in my life paid for a flat tire repair, and I don’t intend to for as long as I can manage it.

It would be a lie to say that boobs are under appreciated because fashion and pop culture have ensured that they are not, but on a more individual basis I’m not sure the same is true. 355,671 breast augmentations were performed in the U.S. in 2008. That is a lot of unhappy boobs. I think a little objectification, under the right circumstances, would have gone a long way. Women should love their boobs as much as all the guys around them.

Please feel free to disagree with me. Or challenge me. I’m going to put my frilly bra back on.

You Kiss Badly

There has been a thorough appreciation of amazing kissers on this blog (since it’s inception almost a year ago, Happy Birthday HillaryofTroy!!) but a willful ignorance of those who, by all accounts, are physically incapable of kissing someone in a manner that is enjoyable. This is about the bad kissers of the world, with a little indignant ranting about their introduction into my life.

I had no idea how lucky I was. Up until about a year ago every guy I’d kissed seemed to know what he was about and this came to be my expectation from anyone with the audacity to invade my personal space- and my mouth. Which I still consider to be reasonable. Sadly, there have been a few guys lately who have fallen far short, and it made me think that these sad specimens of masculinity may be in the majority, running rampant and ruining otherwise lovely evenings. It turns out everyone has encountered bad kissers and yet I had no idea what I was in for with guys who licked my cheek, bit my lip (like really hard- there was a bruise), and made a good try at suffocating me with their tongue. Why would anyone find that fun?

To be fair I can’t be upset that no one has told these people what a menace to romantically inclined social interaction they are because I didn’t say anything either. I was selfishly concerned with the welfare of my face. And yet, I still don’t understand how one makes it to their twenties thinking that this sort of behavior is acceptable. There can’t be anyone who puts up with this kind of thing more than once (I’m a big fan of the “never ever answer your calls” method), which I’d think might lead to a little self-reflection, but apparently not. So, for those persons, when in doubt, keep it simple. You’ve just met this girl. For whatever reason she has tolerated your company for some period of time without excessive trips to the bathroom and people across the room she needs to speak to. Then again, that could be assuming a lot, perhaps you’ve thrown the nearest female up against a handy flat surface, in which case, I have to say from experience, that you really ought to make it worth her while. Either way, your fancy tricks are unappreciated as you are executing them very very badly to the chagrin of all involved. Thanks for your interest, please move on. I hate to fall back on cliches without a good excuse, or to call any well meaning gentleman a frog, but if the slime fits…

My future paramours are probably not going to read this warning, but I can only hope that the tide of my romantic luck will change for the better. And wish the talented kissers of the world will find you, too.

Happy kissing xxxx

Super Freaky

Sometimes strange things happen in your life. Weird people make odd comments at inopportune times and there’s no explanation for it so you do your best to go about the rest of your day without over-thinking it. If it has not already become heartbreakingly obvious, these are the kind of things that happen to other people every so often, and me constantly. This is not to profess that I am entirely normal, because I’m not. But you don’t see me going up to people in random public venues commenting on their attitude and general appearance. Unless they ask or something.

People think I’m exaggerating, or even completely fabricating, when I tell them about the things that happen to me over the course of a day. But I’m not. I went to the grocery store with my mom on Easter Sunday – so far pretty normal. We were getting eggs and food coloring and pie. I was wearing pink for the occasion, had no makeup on, and my hair was still wet from my shower. The white-haired, suited, Irish man with a cataract standing behind me in line holds a lock of my hair and says: “Don’t ever cut your hair. It’s beautiful and there’s nothing more feminine.” Nice sentiment. But I don’t know you and you’re touching my hair in the grocery store. I pull it away from him and assure him that I have no plans to cut it.

Before I can turn away he’s started telling me how he always thought he would marry a redhead when he was growing up in Ireland, and his daughter is a redhead but his wife is little and blonde like me and he probably wouldn’t have married her if she weren’t blonde so I should stay blonde. No idea what I’m supposed to do with this information.

My mom was standing next to me, and while she has heard many of the stories about my run ins with insanity she’s not usually present for them and was somewhat skeptical about their occurrence until she got to witness this little interaction for herself.  Total shock. Even the cashier wasn’t sure it was really happening. My only logical conclusion is that I’m instigating this kind of behavior. Some kind of sign that I can’t see is duct taped to my ass advertising “Tell me the strange things swimming in your head. I want to hear them. Bonus points for passive aggressively hitting on me.”

I’ve been to a lot of places in a lot of cities in the world and without doing anything special I will attract the crazies. Not violently crazy – I’m not getting accosted in the streets on a regular basis, but the everyday weirdos. They can function in the world, but like to purge whenever I’m nearby. I’ve been asked to try on clothes so that guys can pick something that looks good on their girlfriend. Held babies so harried mothers could tie their shoes (both the babies’ and their own). And I get compliments, advice, and offers from men on a regular basis – about everything, from what I should wear and which profession I should pursue, to what brand of painkillers to buy and how to wash my car.

I have come to the determination that I am not paranoid in finding this to be abnormal… even more than the usual abnormal. And I’m not complaining about this role I have been appointed in the universe. But I feel better knowing that other people are aware that this is going on in the world. And I do sincerely hope that Irish man is happy in his choice of blonde, because I’m into the accent and don’t plan to cut my hair, but I do have an age limit.

Exes and Almosts

Most of us have an ex, or two, or twelve. Whatever the case may be chances are not everyone from your past falls into this category. You went out a couple times, but were never really exclusive. You hooked up, but to even call it a friendship would be overstating things. You hung out everyday for a little while, but the exchange of bodily fluids was at an absolute minimum. These are the people (in my particular case, guys) who I put into the “Almost” category.

They had the potential to be an Ex, had the stars aligned and things turned out differently- but they didn’t. And now when you’re telling your friends about that time with the guy from the place you can accurately refer to him (or her) as an Almost. Despite the obvious advantages in retelling stories since there is no longer that awkward pause where you try to explain the exact dynamics of your non-relationship, the simplicity of the word naturally leads to a simplicity of the emotions involved. Much like calling a rejection a work of fate. It puts the whole experience in perspective. If he wasn’t really your boyfriend then you don’t really need to plague yourself with doubt about your oh-so-charming attributes when he doesn’t call. There is no breakup with an Almost, only a drifting out of your life. If he was so boring you’ve tried to block those hours out of your memory then you never have to admit to anyone that he was your boyfriend again. If your girlfriend went to parties without you and made out with random strangers, you would be understandably upset, but when your Almost does it you can happily hope that at the end of the night they will come home to you sloshed and half-naked. You know, or not.

This restructuring of titles and pigeonholes opens up some new options for the future, too. Go ahead and go out with the guy that no one you’re related to or friends with should ever meet- he can be an Almost and you can get a good night out of it. Since an Almost is a total absence of classification you can do what makes you happy and non-awkwardly introduce each other to people without confusion.

This is not to say that an Almost can’t become a proper, exclusive, significant other since, as the name suggests, that person was almost something and could possibly still have the potential to be. But commitment is entirely at your discretion.

Since I am currently fairly occupied with being very busy and important I may spare an evening sometime soon to go find myself a new Almost- so much less work than a boyfriend…

Honorable Mention: Man in the cafeteria, I very much enjoyed my ball point landscape portrait. “Hola,” to you, too.

Yes, No, Maybe So


Secretly, or in my case not so secretly, we all wish that relationships were as simple as they were in 5th grade. Someone passed you a note with very convenient check boxes while someone four seats to the right and up two awaited the answer to that timeless question: Do you like me?

For as much as we accuse ourselves of immaturity in thinking that a checklist should be the best way to determine attraction, there was directness in this method that is blatantly lacking in all of our interactions since. There is bravery in passing a note like that because no matter which box is checked the entire class is going to know about it as it makes its way back, and the entire school is going to know by recess. Reputation is really the only thing that hangs in the balance at that point, since even if the answer is yes the best you can hope for is someone to share your Little Debbie cupcake with- and who honestly wants to share their cupcake?? But the principle stands. Whether it’s the girls out to lunch, or the boys over beers, everyone is saying to their friends “I have no idea what’s going on. What the hell does he/she want?” And all of this confusion would be much simpler if we all started with a basic statement of interest.

 There is even confusion in the discussing of anonymous notes. I walked up to the host of a restaurant just as someone from the kitchen passed him a note. He seated me and asked how I was, to which I replied, “I’m good, no one is passing me secret notes, but it’s still been a pretty good day.” It could have very satisfactorily ended there, but no. He said, “If it was from a nice blonde instead of Juan it would make my day, too.” And with that conjecture over whether he meant me, or blondes in general or only meant to express the general ennui of being a host began. Granted, I’m more oblivious to subtleties of intention than most people (I’m usually the last to know if someone is hitting on me), but how is anyone supposed to know when flirting is innocent as opposed to a means to an end. I have been through enough sorta, kinda, I-guess-you-can-sort-of-look-at-it-that-way relationships to realize that you probably wouldn’t get a yes or no answer even if you asked for one, but it’s nice to think about.

The root of the problem is that no one really knows exactly what they want, and even when they think they do, they’re usually wrong and end up doing something completely contrary. Which is what makes the art of predicting other peoples nonsense, as well as your own, a fruitless exercise. Even knowing that a checklist would only be a stop-gap solution, I would most likely do it anyway; a few hours peace of mind is better than none. I, personally, have been on the precipice of employing a more comprehensive checklist with more questions and possible answers, but it began to take on shades of standardized testing- kind of sucks the romance out of things, not to mention the sincerity.

More often than not I’m fairly certain all of us would answer “Maybe so” if asked whether we like someone (or if we like like them) because liking someone and figuring out how much of your time you’re willing to spend around them is an ongoing decision. Figuring out your own crap is hard enough, much less trying to mush it together with someone else’s. You don’t go sharing your cupcake with just anyone.