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Monthly Archives: November 2011

Mannequin Practice - Actress Devon Carson poses like a mannequin behind the scenes of the short film The Wardrobe

Production still from my film, The Wardrobe.

Captain my Captain,

I’m twenty years old, I’m in my third year of college and for the first time I have a fat – no – a phat crush on someone. I’m not new to dating or youknowwhat (well, not extremely new anyways..) but I’ve never felt so hopelessly into someone before. I guess you could say this is my first real crush.

The problem isn’t that he *doesn’t know I exist* because he does, we talk in class and around school. I just don’t think he’s into me. I’ve seen the girls he’s dated and I don’t think I’m his type. Also we only chill at school, we’ve run into each other at parties once or twice but were really just classmates.
My brain is telling me “let him be! Find another boy! You can’t force these things!” but another part of me is ready to bend over backwards to become this boy’s type. All of the sudden I have urges to get new clothes and a haircut. 

Also, I have a class with him and his recently ex girlfriend. Anytime I want to chill (…or flirt…) she comes swooping in…

Its silly. I want to either shut this whole thing down so I can concentrate on more important things (what I usually do, but this one has me hooked) or convince him that I’m actually a cool kid and move on to the next level. This secret longing bullshit is getting old. I met him a year ago! How do I move on? Or, is it wrong to change somethings about myself in order to get a dude??

- Hopeless Nerd

Dear Nerd,

I love everything about this question, because:

1) Helping geeks ask people out is one of the reasons I got into this advice-blogging business.

2) Your question allows me to directly attack the dominant cultural meta-narrative around women, desire, appearance, and agency, which is one of the reasons I get up in the morning.

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sad basset hound

This image perfectly combines ears and sadness.

Dear Captain Awkward,

I want to be a good friend and a good listener, I really do. I have a lovely, kind friend who I have known for a long time. She has some mental health issues. She is going through a very rough time and I totally want to be there for her. The career has been a nonstarter for many years; she has not worked consistently since she graduated college. Her family is not that helpful. Now her relationship is falling apart, too, and she is financially dependent on her partner. 

I have listened for hours on end. So have several other mutual friends. Listening is becoming very hard: 

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Beer in the Arbor, by Anders Andemark on Flickr

"Beer in the Arbor" by Anders Andemark on Flickr

Dear Captain Awkward,

I’ve really no idea how to sensibly start this story. I’m in my early twenties and I’ve never had a boyfriend before. In fact no one has ever been interested in me. And then I met this guy. We met on a drunken night out and while nothing but holding hands and hugging happened, he was obviously attracted to me. I didn’t really know what to think about this and it really only hit me when he asked me out a couple of days later.

Despite initially agreeing to go out, I backed out for various reasons a couple of times (some legitimate reasons, some lame excuses) because I was nervous and scared. We saw each other informally a couple of times as we’re in the same group of friends and we initially had a very high level of other communication, text, email, Facebook, all of it. I wasn’t sure what to do, how to handle the situation or how to reply to his advances. It took me a while but I am starting to really like him. 

 Recently we went for our first proper date (as opposed to just casually hanging out). We went for drinks and as we were ordering, he asked what I wanted, I told him, he got it for me. It didn’t seem like a big deal. However, later, through the grapevine and completely unrelated to our date, I found out he was opposed to treating women differently, for example offering women a seat etc. Our conversation level has recently dropped and I feel like he’s not giving me much back when I initiate a conversation (electronically). However, I have before gotten the impression that he had given up on this when we couldn’t see each other for a while for reasons beyond our control. This time however, I’m worried I may have offended by not insisting I get my own drinks etc. I really like him and would like to see him again but I also am really shy about this whole thing and inexperienced, which is why I took things so slow to begin with. 

I couldn’t bring myself to directly say these things but I need to convey to him two things. That I am interested and that I am not one of these girls who expect their date to pay for everything. I went by the logic that if he offered, he must’ve meant it, it wasn’t anything big, like a whole meal or a theatre ticket, it was a first date and I was really nervous so it seemed easiest to just go with it!

Do you think I offended him and what do you think I should do?

Dear Captain,

This is a question about tailoring ill-fitting pants.

So there’s this lady in my life. She’s a fantastic lady. I met her last summer and we connected pretty much instantly. I was coming off some serious heartbreak, she was coming off some other drama. So we took things slowly, but we started to develop feelings for each other.

After a couple months, I moved back to school and she moved back to work a few states over. I was hesitant to get into a long-distance relationship: I’d done it before and hated the logistics and the lack of face time, and I didn’t want to take things with her any faster than they’d been going. But we decided to stay in touch and see how things developed on their own.

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Thanks for being the best group of readers a girl could ask for. And thanks to the letter writers – we really don’t do this without brave people who share their stories. Here’s the poem of the day:

Postcard from the Party

You have to be invited, and there’s nothing
you can do to be asked. Headlines and bloodlines
don’t help. It’s a long way from home but I’m
here, the view much better than I’m used to.
How did this happen? Dumb but good luck,
right place and time, the planets aligned.
No contract, no deadline, no risk. And what
did I do to deserve this? Slept with all
the wrong people, gambled too much on friends
of friends with light bulbs over their heads.
Wrote every day no matter what.

Wyn Cooper
Postcards from the Interior
BOA Editions, Ltd.

Captain Picard in shorts reading a book.

Captain Picard is on vacation and can't help you, so for now, you get us.

Today, the awesome regular commenter known as “k”has been promoted to Ensign Perception in the Army of Awkward. She will help this letter writer explore the universe of people he would like to sleep with.

Dear Captain Awkward,

I have a problem when it comes to being attracted to people. I suppose colloquially this problem would be called “low standards,” but I don’t like to think about it that way, because I don’t feel like it entails any disrespect on my part toward the people I’m attracted to. The many, many people.

The best way I can describe my feelings about intimacy is this: I basically have no friend zone. If I have a lot in common with a person and I’m reasonably certain that they won’t turn my skin into a lampshade, I find myself wanting to be intimate with them. I try to be discerning about who I actually try to initiate anything with – if I feel like they have no interest in me whatsoever, I don’t bother. But still, this results in a lot of rejection for me. The rejection itself isn’t so much the issue. I respect their right to not be attracted to me and all that. But more than being hurtful – although it is, as I imagine rejection is for anyone, always at least a little hurtful – these rejections just confuse me. Not because I think I’m awesome, but because my barriers to desiring intimacy with another person seem to be just way, way lower than they are for everybody around me. I’m just not certain what’s stopping them unless they find me physically repulsive (and in most cases, I’m pretty sure people don’t).

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Dear Captain Awkward,

My friend is driving me crazy. We’re going to call him Dan.

Dan is in his mid-twenties, has graduated from university, and has been working a steady job in his field for two or three years now. He still lives with his parents completely free of charge. He’s generally a good person, if sheltered. I’ve had to explain to him why he can’t make “she-male” jokes, why certain internet memes are racist, etc, and while he doesn’t make any effort to think critically about the media he’s consuming, at least when you point out he’s doing something offensive, he stops and doesn’t do it again.

Unfortunately, he is driving myself and my friends group CRAZY.

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Emo Batman saying "I wish I were as dead as my parents."

How much is childhood trauma, and how much is the pure enjoyment of cosplay and punching people?

Oh Captain my Captain,

I am the manager of a retail establishment and recently had an eye-opening experience with one of my employees.  He is normally a smart, funny, articulate, motivated, an amazing artist and very thoughtful guy.  Twice now I have had bizarre experiences with him where, over the course of his shift,  he acts extremely rude, uncaring, and generally like an asshole.  On both occasions I’ve told him he’s acting inappropriately and it needs to stop.  This is twice in the last year and a half that I’ve worked with him.

This last time, I figured there must be something going on in his personal life to make him act this way.  After I got off work I went home and checked his Facebook to see if something was up.  (I probably should have just asked him but the night ended with us not speaking to each other).  What I found was his Myspace page and a blog post from two years ago about how he intensely loathed himself, couldn’t look at himself in the mirror and didn’t understand why anybody would want to really get to know him because he found himself so bland, uninteresting and disgusting. He said he acts like an ass sometimes and doesn’t mean to but he can’t stop himself.

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Patty Hewes from Damages

This woman does not apologize for asking you to do your job.

Dear Captain Awkward:

I recently got a promotion (yay!) and now people I have to supervise people I’ve previously worked alongside (less yay). There’s one employee in particular who’s had a problem with taking instructions from me. He and I were hired around the same time, and he has more experience in the field. I quickly picked up on everything I needed to catch up to his experience-level, and there’s no question in my mind that I worked hard and deserve to be where I am. I just don’t know how to get him to listen to me. His work is consistently turned in late or is sloppy; when I ask him to get something done by a deadline, I often find him watching Youtube videos or Netflix movies at his desk instead of working. I’ve previously asked someone higher up the corporate chain (i.e. someone I know he respects more than me) to say something to him. This worked temporarily, but he’s slipped back into his old ways. I really don’t want to bring in a third party again, because I feel like it serves to  undercut my authority and also it looks bad to *my* boss when I can’t get my employees to listen to me.

We won’t be doing performance reviews for another seven months, so I need advice about what I can do in the meantime to get him to wake up at work. To make matters more awkward, I’ve known this person through a mutual friend long before we started working together. I’ve also slept with him (before we started working together!), but it was just sex and we were both very clear that we didn’t have feelings for each other. I know he sees this as “just a job,” but I’m looking to make a decent living and develop a niche for myself in this company – at least until I find out what I’d really like to do with my life. How do I navigate this awkward college drama while trying to become a classy adult?

-Serious Business

Congratulations on your promotion!  And for writing in with such a supremely awkward situation in such a succinct and vivid manner!

This is a “boundaries are your friend” situation.

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glossy red pencil

The glossy red pencil of deletion.

Guys, I love your detailed, nerdy hearts, I do! And I am one verbose lady!

But I’ve got some letters in my inbox that are over 1500 words long. Those will never get answered, because I will never read all the way through them and I don’t have time to edit your thoughts and your needs down to what’s really important to you. Even when you get at interesting stuff, I find myself skipping your question for the short and snappy one that catches my interest and that I can knock out pretty quickly.

300-400 words is a good maximum length for  question.  Feel free to go shorter! 140 characters is also a good length, and I’m on Twitter as @CAwkward. Maybe type the draft where you vomit it all out, and then reshape it into the thing you send?

Much appreciated.

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