Archive for August, 2009

 

“Mad Men”: More Than Eye Candy

Tuesday, August 25th, 2009
The Drapers tackle tough conversations (Photo by Frank Ockenfels from AMC.com) 

 

The Drapers tackle tough conversations (Photo by Frank Ockenfels from AMC.com)

 

Never mind that I could watch a full hour of Mad Men on AMC just to see Betty Draper in as many clothes as they can pull from her closet. (And, yes guys, I know you prefer Joan, the busty red-headed secretary.)

This week, Don said something that went much deeper than the sets and scenes (and historic smoking) we love so much. He said something that can actually change our lives.

In context, Don Draper was trying to land the Madison Square Garden account by helping the company defend their plans in the early 60s to demolish the current Penn Station (and by the way, can you believe they did it?!). The MSG client was tired of the public outcry and wanted to quiet it down. Don, taking a page from the publicist handbook, told his client this:

“If you don’t like what’s being said, change the conversation.”

Yes, sometimes we have to face tough conversations head on. But you know when this can really work? In the conversations we have with ourselves. If you don’t like what you’re telling yourself, change it. You are responsible for the words spinning around in your brain, so if you catch yourself being too negative (“It’ll never happen”) or beating yourself up (“It’s your fault this is happening”) or spiraling into frustration (“I’m so tired of all this”) then put some spin on your own story and change what’s being said.

It’s like another quote I read about the news: If you don’t like the news, go out and make some of your own. Change the conversation and make your own news. You’re bound to go up from there.

Big love,

Amy Signature 4

10 Things Never to Say to a Single Person

Monday, August 24th, 2009

I was having drinks this weekend with Jen, a single friend of mine who is looking for a relationship. We got to talking about how some friends of hers keep tying their tongues while trying to help—offering backwards compliments and dated clichés about her search for companionship. In essence, “Married People Say the Darndest Things.” And I realized we could all use a briefing on what’s helpful and what’s hurtful to say to a friend like Jen who is being letdown by love.

I’m not, by the way, talking about that single friend who is thrilled to be solo and basking in the freedom of an independent life; I’m talking about the friend who is happy enough alone, but is looking to share his or her life with a partner. What do you say to keep them positive, propel them on? Because however much you love your friend and however well you mean, some words just aren’t helping. Here, the…10 Things Never to Say to a Single Person

by Amy Spencer

1. “Love only comes when you least expect it.” Sure, there’s some truth to the idea that when you finally do meet the right person, it smacks you upside the head so hard you don’t expect to fall quite that hard. But as for the love itself? Your friend should expect it. And expecting it isn’t going to curse him or her from finding it! So don’t tell him or her that wanting something is precisely the thing that’ll hold him or her back from getting it. Because as far as I’m concerned, the more a single person expects it, the faster it will come.

When someday can't come soon enough

When someday can't come soon enough

2. “You’ll meet him (or her) someday.” Someday, huh. Someday?! Someday is when you’ll win the lottery. Someday is when you’ll retire in a little house by the sea and garden for the rest of your life. A single person who is looking for love doesn’t want to wait until someday to meet the love of his or her life. They want to meet them tomorrow. And they very well might.

3. “But you’re so great at being single.” So…you’re telling me I’m not great at being in relationships? Gee, thanks. The fact is, they just haven’t found a relationship to be great in yet. And as soon as they find it, you’ll see what great can be.

4. “Don’t you think you’re being too…” You know, this is where you gently suggest they’re being too picky or too hard on people or too judgmental. But what does your friend think? Um, no, actually, I don’t think I’m being too anything. I know what I want and I’ll wait ‘til I get it. And he or she has the right to do just that while enjoying every second of their single life in the meantime, thank you very much.

5. “I know this woman who’s 74, and she just fell in love for the first time.” Aw, what a sweet, romantic story. Love never ages. Of course you’ve now set off a mind bomb like, Oh my God, you mean I might not find love until I’m old and wrinkly and the only one who’ll ever want me is the person at the end of the nursing home hall? Other peoples’ love stories are great; other peoples’ love stories from this era are even better.

6. “Relationships are no walk in the park, either, you know.” This is usually followed by a story of how your husband/wife/partner is being very stubborn about, say, which family’s house to visit on vacation. Poor you, your friend is thinking. You have someone to love you and spend vacations with and I don’t. If your single friend wants a relationship, let ‘em want it! Don’t try to undersell the goal.

7. “Sometimes I wish I was single.” Oh, right, “some” times. Which means eleven minutes one day a week. The other 10,069 minutes, you’re glad you’re not. There’s a way to rephrase this, which is, “There are things I miss about being single.” And then list them: The anticipation of a date. The first kiss. The talks until dawn. The total, utter freedom. Let your friend celebrate those things the way he or she should be!

8. “Why don’t I just set you up with that coworker of mine?” The key word here is “just.” This is likely the set-up your friend previously rejected because your coworker’s shiny two-toned suit pants were a turn-off the first three times they met. Digging up old possibilities implies that you think your single friend has lowered his or her standards by now…or that you think they should. And you don’t think they should…do you?

9. “Maybe you should be more… (flirtatious, kind, outgoing) or less… (sarcastic, abrasive, dull).” Sure, maybe there are things your friend could be doing better; being single for a long time sometimes puts you off your game. But trust me, they’ve made this list before, and they don’t need to hear more “flaws” from you. Don’t tell them what they “should” or “could” be, tell them how wonderful they are as is.

10. “You need to get out there.” Oh, right, your single friend hadn’t thought of that, but that’s where all the people who’ll love them are…out there! This is old news. If your friend wants to date, he or she’ll date. If they don’t feel like it, they shouldn’t have to. But keep in mind, if they want a relationship, their lack of a partner may not be for lack of trying. It won’t help to imply that folks like you think they’re not “doing” enough.

So…what do you say to your single friend? The truth. That they’re “a freaking catch.” That “it will happen.” That the guys or girls out there are obviously ding dongs for not realizing who they could be dating. And that in the meantime, your friend should probably live it up. As I told Jen, being single can be a total blast if you can remind yourself to enjoy it while it’s here. As soon as you’re snatched up (and it may be soon…) you’ll definitely wish you loved it while you lived it.

Those are my thoughts, anyway. If you think I’ve missed any backwardly insulting advice (or you think I’m way off on any I’ve put down), let me know what you think!

Big love,

Amy Signature 4

P.S. If you’re single and know of anyone who needs to be reminded of what not to say to you anytime soon, pass it on…

A Dating Lesson from “Top Chef”

Friday, August 21st, 2009

As I was watching yet another episode of Top Chef (fear not, I don’t do spoilers for all you fellow DiVo users!) I got to thinking about why I loved the show so much. And I realized I was appreciating more than just watching them whip up spicy watermelon salads and sunchoke purées.

key_art_top_chef

What’s special about the show—and what other shows like Chopped! on the Food Network have caught onto—is watching wickedly talented people thrown into pressure-filled situations and asked to do somewhat ridiculous things they’ve never ever tried before. But you know what this all sounds like to me? The impossibly crazy world of dating. Think about it…

The top chefs . . . walk into a GE brand kitchen and gasp at Padma’s impossible challenge as she tells them to, say, make a gourmet meal out of junk food from the vending machine (though you can always win by braising some meat in soda.)
We . . .walk out to the big world and gasp at the impossible challenge of finding the love of one’s life from a crowd of strangers.

The top chefs . . . are ruled by the pressure of a red digital clock counting down the minutes they have left.
We . . . add our own pressures to dating, time limits we’ve all put upon ourselves because we don’t want to be single any more, counting down the years we have left.

The top chefs . . . frantically look for items in the pantry, crossing cleverly in front of the Glad family of products.
We . . . frantically look for dates online, trying to seem glad about twelve coffee meetings in four days.

And then everyone sits down to a nail biting meal as we wait to find out…is this it? Is this somebody’s happy ending?

Now here’s the important part: The person who wins often says they won because they decided to just be themselves and cook what they cook best. 

So that’s my message for the weekend. It will sometimes feel impossible.  It will sometimes feel frantic. And you will sometimes need to pack up food in plastic wrap from the Glad family of products. But if you relax and remember to be yourself and do what you do best, you’ll be smiling at the end, too.

Big love and beautiful weekend,

Amy Signature 4




I’m going on a date this weekend. (My hundredth.) I always get my hopes up, and usually find them smashed like a Halloween pumpkin. So what do I do? Start expecting the worst so I’ll be pleasantly surprised? Or look forward to them and be disappointed? —Erin

Wednesday, August 19th, 2009

Great, great, great question, Erin. When I used to get ready for dates, I’d flip-flop back and forth between high hopes and low expectations every run of the flat-iron. With that experience and what I’ve learned, here’s what I think: Have high hopes for your future love life—that you will find the love of your life—and remember that this date is part of the path that will get you there.

Maybe he seems like he could be the guy! Or maybe he’s so totally not even similar to a choppy faxed version of the guy that you want to go home and eat a whole pizza by yourself. But either way, this guy—this date—is one step closer to the one you’re meant to be with. The world is putting you in front of him for a reason: Maybe to learn something from him. Maybe to learn something about yourself. Maybe to see how hilariously terrible dating can be sometimes, so that when you do meet your big love, you won’t miss your single days quite as much.

So that’s what I think. Don’t expect the worst. Look forward to what you can learn from your hundredth date. And toast with a glass of something that you still have two important things after date ninety-nine: perseverance and humor. The right guy will find that so very charming.

3 Big Reasons Your Life Rocks (Yes, YOUR life)

Wednesday, August 19th, 2009

1. You’re the only one of you there is. How crazy is that?! Of the 6.7 billion people on earth, from America to China to the islands in the South Pacific, you are the only one of you. Yes, there are lookie-likies (I, apparently, look like someone everyone went to college with), and there are twins, and there are people with similar thoughts and mannerisms. But you are the only you. In fact, one of my favorite things to hear is when someone says of another, “Oh my God, that is so you.”You know what that says to me? That they’re being uniquely, loudly and proudly authentic. Do the same thing: Say what you think, wear what you want, laugh your own way and dance like you mean it. Then glow when you’re told you’re being so you.

Surf the unknown!

Surf the unknown…

2. You may not know what will happen tomorrow, but that’s the fun of it! It would take too much of the gripping dramatic tension out of your life—the one that makes you work harder, love stronger, and kick table legs when things get hard—if you knew the ending. Knowing the end ruins books, it ruins movies, and it would ruin the fun of your life. Embrace the unknown! Swim where you can’t see the bottom and surf if you don’t know if you can. Sometimes it might not go, uh, swimmingly. But sometimes what happens tomorrow will blow your mind.

3. People like you. They really do. Sometimes the people you wish would like you don’t. And sometimes the people you wish wouldn’t like you follow you around and give you creepy eyes like Jack Torrance in The Shining. But in the center of that spectrum are the people who smile when they see you and appreciate what you bring to their lives. So the next time you get caught up pining toward the cafeteria table of people who don’t want you to sit with them, turn a-freaking-round and look at all the people waving you over with warm smiles. They like you ’cause you’re awesome. And if you don’t have a romantic partner who realizes that yet, have faith. You will.

Big love,

Amy Signature 4