Joke Life

I'm Izzy. Writer. Optimist. College student. Traveler. This is my blog.
Check out my website www.jokelife.co
Leslie Van Grove Photography

Leslie Van Grove Photography

The Cheating Game

For brief moments I’ll forget her name. Granted, it always comes back. But the fact that I can forget, for even a second, is encouraging. I’ll never forget her face, no that’s grained into my mind. And comes back to visit me sometimes in bad dreams. The truth is it wasn’t all her fault, of course it wasnt, but she holds some of the blame, that’s for damn sure.

I wrote her a letter before it happened. Or as it was happening…I guess that part I’ll never know. The letter asked her to back off of him. I explained how much we had been through; I told her that our relationship deserved this fighting chance, but with her in the picture it was making it impossible. I told her that I was actually a pretty cool person, and that I was sure she was as well. She must’ve been a cool girl, because he was a cool guy. I told her that it wasn’t fair of me to come back after so long and steal him away again. I said we hadn’t planned on getting back together, which was the truth. Love makes you stupid sometimes. I acknowledged that it wasn’t really fair of her to get pushed to the side, but I was asking her to respect the love we shared. 

I never sent the letter. I should’ve. Maybe it would of made things different, but maybe it would have made me hate her even more. Knowing that she read it, and did it anyways. I even knew where she lived. I had dropped him off there before, it was where all of his friends hung out and I was trying to be trusting. Trying to be a cool girlfriend, even though it tore me up inside. I was so tempted to just drop it on her front porch, but I couldn’t bring myself to. I thought about egg-ing her house a few times after it happened. I probably should’ve done that as well; I’m sure it would’ve made me feel better for about ten minutes.    

Cheating has always been the lowest form of betrayal in my eyes. I guess it’s because guys have always done it to me. You see cheating doesn’t make the person you cheated on feel very good. No shit right? It makes you think that it was your fault somehow. That you weren’t hot enough, sexy enough, smart enough, etc. It makes you think that there was something you could have changed about yourself; some fundamental problem that could be fixed, when in reality it usually has nothing to do with you at all.

It’s a two way street-cheating is, and it seems like most people struggle on where to place the blame. I’ve seen it go down multiple ways. Either it’s all the girls fault: she was a slut or a tease, she tempted him too much, she knew he had a girlfriend and she urged him on anyways. Or that she enjoyed winning him over, she enjoyed knowing that she was the straw that broke the camels back. On the flip side„ and in most cases this is the best way to go about it, the blame goes to the guy who cheated on you. The guy who, by asking you to be his girlfriend, by saying I love you, and by kissing you morning after morning, promised he would be faithful to you, then wasn’t. 

The truth of it is cheating goes both ways. Unless you weren’t aware that the person you were about to sleep with was in a relationship, of course. In that case I’m really fucking sorry you let a d-bag like that under your sheets. But if you know someone is in a relationship, and you do it anyways, than you have to take responsibility for the fact that you probably just hurt another person pretty badly. You may not know that other person, you may not want to think about the other side of it, you may only be focused on your wants and your desires, but that’s the way it works. And if you are in a relationship, and you aren’t happy, and cheating looks like the easiest way out. Or if you see a girl at a bar, and she is looking at you like she would bang you until the sun comes up, and you just can’t resist the temptation. Then words are usually a better first option, rather than unzipping your pants and letting the rest go to shit.

You see words save you from all the messy stuff. They save you from looking like a total fucking asshole in the eyes of a person you once really loved, or liked, or even cared about. They save that person from all questions of “what did I do wrong?” and “I’m just not good enough.” They allow you to maintain your dignity, your reputation, and your conscience. Cheating is not an easy out. Saying the words “I just don’t want to do this anymore” is. Or if you still want to be in a relationship than the words “Hall Pass?” might help you out. You might get slapped in the face, but it’s worth a shot, apparently open relationships are the wave of the future.  

And on the flip side, if you know that someone is in a relationship, and you still are planning on hooking up with them, than think about the roles if they were reversed. Think about the person who is really going to suffer from your actions. Think about the pain you will cause, and then think about whether or not it would actually be worth it. 

I think respect for one another as human beings is something we all need to work on a lot more in this world. I think placing yourself in someone else’s shoes is something we need to be doing on a daily basis. Respect is something that needs to be practiced a thousand times more and by thousands more people, but respect for relationships is a good start. 

So yeah, maybe I never will forget her face. A face I’ve only seen once, in a picture the size of a dime, on the top of an Instagram account. But one day maybe I really will forget her name. Perhaps one day, when my mind draws a blank (as it sometimes does when I feel like saying her name and cursing a little) the words just won’t come. And maybe one day I’ll look back on all this and only remember it as a learning experience. Perhaps sooner or later I will write it off as a lesson learned and I won’t think anymore about the person behind the scenes.               

"The most painful thing is losing yourself in the process of loving someone too much, and forgetting that you are special too."

-Ernest Hemingway

That fall was the most beautiful of my life. Even forty years later I can say that. And I was never so unhappy, I can say that, too. People think first love is sweet, and never sweeter than when that first bond snaps. You’ve heard a thousand pop and country songs that prove the point; some fool got his heart broke. Yet that first broken heart is always the most painful, the slowest to mend and leaves the most visible scar. What’s so sweet about that?

—Stephen King

This One Is For My Dad

I guess you could say my family wasn’t typical when I was growing up. We didn’t have the American, idealistic, stay at home mom, wearing an apron and tending her children, while the dad worked away from home. Instead, we had a stay at home dad.

I don’t know why things worked out this way, but my mom was the one with the high power job and my dad stayed at home with us, making lunches and driving us to soccer practices in his sweet mini-van. If you knew my dad, this would make sense to you. He is the type of guy who is content with the little things in life: enjoying a mountain bike ride in the middle of the day, being able to eat lunch at his own kitchen table, picking up his guitar and cracking open a beer by the time the sun sets. Although my dad also worked, in the loft-turned office in our house, being able to work from home allowed him to do all of those things he loves. It also meant that when I was growing up, I got to spend more time with my dad than many kids do.

Spending all that time with my dad taught me more then I probably realize. He has shown me how to accept life as it comes. His mellow attitude about the world has shown me that although you can’t control everything, you can learn to roll with the punches. His love of music, and his love of guitar, is why our home was constantly with beautiful melodies, and is why I have the love of music that I do. His excitement about the world around him has shown me to always take a few seconds and breath in the beautiful world that we live in. His thirst for adventure has inspired me to always strive to do and see more, even as my bones grow older.      

My dad is basically just the chilliest guy in the world. He is going on 60 but he is more fit than I am, no doubt. He rides his bike for miles and miles each day, visiting the tops of mountains and the bottom of plains. Having grown up in the seventies, my dad had long hair and a ponytail for most of his life. He rocked paisley bell-bottoms and he smoked pot just like the rest of us. But the best thing about my dad is that he is not plagued by the insignificant worries, which most of us seem to be afflicted by. My dad knows how to be grateful for the life he has, and that is one of the most amazing things on this earth.
 
I am so grateful that my dad is who he is. I am grateful for the lessons he has taught me and I am grateful for the adventures he has taken me on. I am grateful that he used to carry me in a backpack up mountains, I am grateful that he has led my family and I around the world. I am so glad that my dad showed me what good beer is supposed to taste like and I am so thankful that he urged me to pick up the guitar and keep playing even when I thought I wasn’t that good. I am thankful for all the warm meals my dad has made for us and I am so thankful for the childhood he provided me with.

I love you so much dad and I hope you have the best fathers day ever.

Powerful.

One Deadly Sin

Everyone has some sin in their life. Admittedly there are different levels of sin, but everyone experiences it in one-way or another. Some people find sin where others would find a typical Saturday night. Some people think it is sinful to kill a bug, others draw the line at killing humans. Some people allow the judgment of their sins to be looked upon by God, while others let their best friends decide if what they are doing is pushing the limits. But regardless of the varying degrees of sinfulness in someone’s life, everyone has something with which they look upon with remorse.

We’ve all heard of the seven deadly sins, we’ve seen the costumes, we’ve read the stories, and maybe some of us even know the history behind them. Well, if you don’t, let me give you a little overview. Way back in the fucking day Pope Gregory the First wrote out a list of seven sinful behaviors that humans are prone to. These seven sins were:

Luxiria(lust)

Gula(gluttony)

Avaritia(greed)

Acedia(sloth)

Ira(wrath)

Invidia(envy)

Superbia(pride)
Years later, Dante Aligehri placed the seven deadly sins within the bonds of literature, chronicling them in Dante’s Inferno. In this epic poem, our main character Dante travels through the depths of hell, witnessing the horrors that each different type of sinner is forced to experience. The lustful are punished by constantly being blown back and forth by a forceful wind, representing an inability to be stable with someone in life. The gluttonous lay in filth while icy rain pours down upon them, the greedy are forced the carry heavy weights upon their chests, the wrathful lay buried beneath sheets and sheets of heavy ice.

While thinking about these seven deadly sins, it is hard to not to identify with more than one. We are all greedy sometimes; most of us know what it is like to over-indulge in a delicious dessert or 4 pieces of pizza. This generation of college kids is generally pretty lustful and being lazy may as well be a universal flaw.

But what if we looked at ourselves under a closer lens? What if we examined how deeply we fall into each ‘sinful’ category and figured out which one affects us the most? This isn’t an easy thing to do of course. No one likes to look at their flaws, let alone their deepest flaw.

I stumbled upon mine in the last couple of years. Although my deep obsession with Cosmo’s pizza and good beer might suggest that Gula is my downfall, it is a little less comic then that. Instead the sin, which affects me the most, is Invidia-or envy.

Maybe I was born that way, or maybe it is youngest child syndrome, but jealousy has always been something that I’ve struggled with. Whether it was envy of a toy that my older sister had when I was growing up, or jealousy about a new pair of shoes one of my friends got during back-to-school shopping. As I grew older I began to realize that this jealous-nature was affecting my relationships too. I saw my green monster come out when I was crushing on guys and there were other girls, who I considered competition, in the mix. Instead of brushing it off and being confident in myself, I would talk shit about the other girl; delusional in my thinking that talking smack would make me seem like the better choice. When I saw my first love begin a friendship with a new girl, I immediately went on the defense, making snide comments about her, to let him know that she was on my radar. The only thing I succeeded in doing, in that case, was to push him right into her arms.

That’s when I learned that being jealous accomplishes only one thing-making you seem small. Jealousy or envy is part of life, but it also has the power to do more damage then you would expect. And that is like all of the seven sins. Each one has the power to control a major part of your life, unless you make the decision to take control of it, before it takes control of you.

Perhaps each one of us has one of these sins affecting our lives more then we’d care to admit. Maybe you have a deep hunger for money; so much so that you get in fights with the people you love about it, making your one deadly sin greed. Maybe you are a few pounds too heavy and the numbers on the scale just keep ticking up, then perhaps you struggle with gluttony, or maybe even sloth, something you would have to decide for yourself. Maybe you’ve been sleeping around for as long as you can remember, but no matter what you do, you can’t seem to find happiness, then maybe you need to take a look at how lust is affecting your life.

There are seven deadly sins but maybe it takes just one to change your life. Admitting to your flaws is probably one of the least fun things to do in the world, making the decision to do something about your flaws might be even harder. My challenge for you is to find out where you are on the seven sins scale. Find the one, the one you struggle more then all the others and recognize it as a problem area. Once you do that, then you can begin to find solutions.

So yes, maybe I am a jealous person, but at least I know it. I can never un-do the mistakes that my one deadly sin has forced me to make, but I sure as hell can learn from them. I can learn that jealousy is just one small part of what makes me human, and all the other great things, that life has blessed me with, are stronger than one, deadly, sin.

Read More At: www.jokelife.co

We Are the Music Festival Generation

I was 16 when I popped my music festival cherry. The event was called Rothbury, never heard of it? Oh yeah, that’s because it goes by Electric Forest now. The trip was a last minute decision. My sister had just graduated from high school and she was dying to go. She knew a group of people headed that way, but none of her close girlfriends wanted to make the journey. Of course, when she got desperate enough, she looked towards her baby sister.

I wasn’t really sure what I was getting myself into. I didn’t know anyone on the line-up, except for a few; The Dead, Damien Marley, Bob Dylan and Willie Nelson. Those names alone were enough to spark my interest. I was most worried about what the partying scene would be like. My parents were too. I had never done any drugs before, besides smoking a little bit of pot, and I was terrified about the peer pressure. My knowledge about drug use was coming from middle school health class, and I still had nightmares about skin-picking meth heads and roid-induced rages. I’m sure my sister had a tougher time then I knew getting my parents on board, but after many assertions of the safe actions we would take, we hit the road.

It was a straight 24-hour drive to get to Michigan. As I would learn in the years to come, if you want to get to a music festival, you have to work for it. I was asleep when we finally rolled up to the campsites, but I will never forget the image I saw as I opened my eyes. It was as if we had entered into a different universe. Cars surrounded us in each direction I looked, funneling into the field where we would be spending the next four days. We were immersed in a stampede of bright lights and honking horns. People were sitting atop their slowly moving cars, riding them like chariots. There were yells and shouts of joy, the soft hiss of beer cans being cracked, and waves of different music flowing together from all directions.

I was sold on music festival life before the shows had even begun. It was nothing but an ocean of tents, carefree fun and damn good tunes. State flags and Grateful Dead tapestries were being hung up everywhere I looked and the smell of marijuana was drifting through the air. Humans draped in colorful cloth, beaded skirts and feather boas walked the aisles of the campground holding trays of homemade bracelets and pipes for sale.

That wasn’t the only thing they were selling. “Doses, Special K, Boomers, Pills, Molly” were a few of the names of illicit drugs being uttered under people’s breath as they walked by. There were people running through the campsites carry giant tanks of I don’t even know what. They would run, and then drop behind a car to hide from a horse-cop who may be passing by.

“What is that?” I asked someone from our campsite.

“Oh, it’s Nitrous. You know, like laughing gas.”

Needless to say, it was a whole different world.

Some people reading this story would maybe stop at this point. “Ah those no-good, drug-doing, dirty hippies! Events like this are what is ruining our great nation and tainting the minds of the youth!”

Eh, maybe, but hear me out, because the campground was only one side of it. Music and the coming together of different artists and different people is really why congregations like this occur.

It is hard to describe the feeling of a music festival once you get inside. It is as if the energies of each and every person around you have joined together to create a collective force. It is a pulsing, gyrating, intense feeling of happiness. It is the sensation of music surging through your veins; of bass thumping along side the rhythm of your heart; of stories being told through music; of lives being lived through dance. It is knowing that you have nowhere else to be, nothing else to do, no commitments besides the ones you have made to yourself. Your only job when you are at a music festival is to just be.

There is honestly nothing like it. I wish I could describe it better, I really wish I could, but it is just something that you have to experience to understand. Rothbury was my first taste of the love. It was my first realization about the power of music. It was the first time I just danced-danced with no one watching me, danced from within my soul. It was the first time I just was.

There are so few moments when you have the time to just be yourself. So few times when stress isn’t a factor and the ticking of a clock isn’t in the back of your mind. There are so few instances when people remember that the present moment is the most important thing to focus on; music festivals are those rare exceptions.

One music festival was all it took for me to become hooked. Hooked on the music, hooked on the experience, hooked on sharing the love. I would say it was downhill from there, but I think uphill is a better way to describe it. Since Rothbury I have danced my way from Lollapalooza to Coachella, from Wakarusa to Mile High. I have stomped in the mud, dodged tornados, fainted from the desert heat and basked in the sun. I have met strangers who have opened my eyes to a new way of living life and I have learned how to let go of many things that I cannot control.

I had an epiphany of sorts as I was standing at Decadence Music Fest, bringing in 2014. Above & Beyond was playing their set and began flashing, “We are the EDM generation”, on the screens. I looked around at all the people soaking in the music and shaking their asses to the beats and it made me think about what our generation will actually be remembered as.

For a time I thought we’d be remembered as the generation of dub. When I heard Lettuce play at Red Rocks I thought we might be considered the generation of funk. But looking back on my music experiences, I have realized something—we are the generation of it all. Derek Vincent Smith or Pretty Lights said it best when he asked the crowd, “Y’all down with that old-school, new-school, analog, electronic, futuristic, vintage, freshness, keepin’ it classy, f*ckin hip-hop, dubstep, soul, disco sh*tttttt?” We are no longer a generation that can be defined by one genre, one sound, one movement-we embody elements of them all. We are the generation that accepts a blending of all types of music, as long as it feeds our soul. We are a group of a hundred thousand, different kinds of weird people, just looking for a place to be ourselves and enjoy ourselves.

So maybe that is the message that music festivals send to us. Perhaps they are our reminder to take some time out of our busy lives and just let the music invade your brain. Maybe their purpose is to show us that it is okay to be around a thousand strangers and feel totally at peace. Music festivals bring it all together. They make us realize that whoever we are in somebody’s reality, is not necessarily who we are in our own reality. They allow us to take some time out of our hectic lives and live a little bit. They are an experience, an adventure, and a vacation all in one.

As I thought about what our music scene would look like to the future generations, and tried to juggle all the genres and artists in my head, I realized that this generation cannot be squashed into one certain category. We are not one type of music, we are not one type of people, we are them all—we are the music festival generation.

So sorry mom and dad- you guys may have had Woodstock, but we have all the rest.

By Izzy Martens

Read more at: www.jokelife.co

Maddy

Sometimes people come into your life for reasons you can’t quite understand. Sometimes you meet someone and things just kind of click, becoming friends with Maddy was kind of like that.

If you had told me, when I was a Sophomore in high school, that Maddy Mckeown would someday be my roommate and my best friend, I probably wouldn’t have believed you. You see girls are funny in high school, the older groups of girls don’t like the younger groups of girls, that’s just how it is. I don’t know exactly why this is the case, it probably has to do mostly with competition. No girl wants to be beat out in coolness by a younger girl, or even worse, have a guy you like be into a girl younger than you. So automatically there is tension between the grades.

Just like with every rule however, there are exceptions, and in the eyes of one of my best friends, Marnie, Maddy was that exception. Marnie and Maddy became friends first, they bonded over a shared love of smoking a little bit of green in between classes. I was in a tight-knit group of friends, and it had always seemed like there wasn’t room to add another girl to our clique. One of my friends wasn’t a big fan of Maddy, for no apparent reason besides the high school silliness I have already pointed out. Regardless, Marnie kept hanging with Maddy and one day as Marnie and I set out to go smoke a bowl, she asked if Maddy could join us.

That is where Maddy and I’s love story began. Three girls, packed into my tiny ass pickup truck, smoking pot out of an apple. It has been four years since that fateful day and I guess you could say things have only gotten better. From dancing at shows, to faking our ages all over town, Maddy and I have had more fun together then you can believe.

Maddy is my soul sister. I get how she works, and I think she gets me too. We have laughed together, cried together, we have even posed as twins. We share a love for silliness and bad movies. We both get the importance of a super comfortable bed and we appreciate the beauty of fine looking men.

Living together has been a wild ride for the two of us. The added pressure of paying bills and cleaning a home hasn’t always been easy, but our home together is the greatest home in the world. Being best friends is a strong bond for sure, but being roommates with someone creates a bond that will last a lifetime.

I could not imagine my life today without Maddy. If anything is a lesson in false first impressions, our relationship is. From being ‘high school enemies’ to the best of friends, Maddy and I have literally been through it all and I can’t wait to see where life takes us down the road.

Happy birthday to you Madeline. The beauty of your soul and the value of your friendship mean the world to me. I can’t wait to spend a classy ass night celebrating your 20th birthday out at the bars with you! (LOL)

Cheers to finishing your teenage years in style! I love you.

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22

It’s rare in life to have a friend with whom you can share everything with. Someone you trust completely, someone who you know will be there for you in the darkest hours and someone who makes the good times just a little bit better. Lissy is that friend.  

My earliest memories of Lissy go hand in hand with my earliest memories in general. I was only four years old when Lissy moved into the house next door. Like most young girls we bonded immediately over dresses and dolls. Although much of our time together in childhood was filled with hair pulling, the majority was spent in laughter and lemonade stands.

When we were little Lissy and I would talk about being ‘best friends forever’. We would discuss our weddings and dream about where we would live. Always agreeing that we wouldn’t be able to move too far away from each other. In many cases like this friendships fade. I have countless childhood friends who I no longer speak to, although Facebook allows me to know what they are up to. But Lissy and I have remained best friends, living in the same town and going to the same college, just as we had always planned.

I can honestly say that I know no other person like Larissa. She has the rare, rare ability to take life a little bit less seriously than most. She is full of laughter, and although I hate to admit it, she is much funnier than I am. Lissy has always been ‘one of the boys’. She is the only girl I know who actually can list off the NFL player’s stats and I will always give her credit for making me an actual Broncos fan. Lissy is beautiful and smart, and even when times get tough, she knows how to see the silver lining.

I truly do not know what I would do without Lissy in my life. She has been my rock through so many hard times and she has been my partner in crime in so many ridiculous, awesome adventures. There were points in my life when I doubted this everlasting friendship that we share, times when we had begun to grow apart and I figured our bond would start to disappear, but it never has.

Lissy and I are opposites when it comes to many things in life, but those differences are what help us balance each other out. I could not imagine my life with out her and I am so thankful that our paths merged on Iris Ave sixteen short years ago.

Happy 22nd birthday Lis. You are my very best friend and I love you so much.   

Faking It

I started faking 21 about two years before my actual birthday. Well, actually I was faking 22, and then 23, I even made it to 24, before my alternate identity was taken away from me.

I remember the first time I used my fake ID. I had gotten all dressed up, high heels and everything, convinced that an extra layer of makeup would indeed make me look older. My heart was pounding in my chest as I stood in line at the bar, where I was meeting my older sister. She had told me that it would be fine, “this is one of the most laid-back bars in town, it won’t be a problem.” But that didn’t stop the butterflies in my stomach from feeling like bats. I ran over all my fake information in my head; birthday-check, middle name-check, address-uhhh… Before I knew it I was next in line. I took a deep breath and handed the bouncer my ID. He flipped the ID once over in his hand, barely glancing at the date, let alone the picture. “Have a good one,” he said to me, as he handed the ID back, and ushered me into the bar. Um okay, that was it? That was really all it took? Of course, it was all down hill from there.

I was cautious…in the beginning. I only used the ID at places where I knew I could get away with it; sketchy liquor stores, low-key bars and most restaurants. But with every drink I received, my confidence about my new over-21 persona was heightened. Soon enough I was going into the “hardest” bars in town. Flaunting my fake ID wherever I went; enraptured in the cool maturity I now possessed.

I figured out something, eventually, about it; it was all about confidence. If you felt like you were 21, really felt it, then most people would feel it too. If you were nervous about it, had an off night, felt like you weren’t quite looking like the person in your picture, then people would begin to doubt you. That’s like most things in life though. If you are confident about yourself, if you put yourself out there, if you believe in what you are doing, then others will too. A lesson in confidence is one that everyone should have, it’s not always the easiest thing to learn, but it definitely has some of the greatest payoffs. Having confidence, embracing yourself fully, being real about who you are, and who you are not, is the only way to become truly happy. That’s the problem with a fake ID though-it’s not you.

Of course there is a line between confidence and cockiness. Everyone will reach that line eventually, and I reached mine about a month and a half before my 21st birthday. Naturally when my best friend turned 21, I went out with her…but I also got wasted before. So I stumbled up to one of those bars where they take the law more seriously, alternate identity in hand, and I gave him my ID. But this time they didn’t simply give it a once over. My drunkenness alerted the bouncer to look more closely at the ID and the person standing before him. Of course upon further inspection, my fake persona didn’t hold up, and thus my fake life came crashing to the ground.

It seems to me that people are always ‘faking it’. Whether it is faking our hair color, faking our taste in music, or faking our orgasms. We live in a time when you can change anything and everything about yourself, not only that but we are told that we SHOULD change most things about ourselves. We are told that the road to happiness is paved with material possessions and awesome haircuts. Where it is more common to see a face covered in makeup, than the beauty of a face as it naturally is. We live in a world where faking it is the norm, and being yourself is simply a challenge.

I can’t argue that faking certain elements of your life is always a bad thing. There are of course instances when faking it becomes necessary: faking a smile for your boss, faking a ‘homemade’ meal when you just don’t have time to pull it off, faking a compliment, simply because it will make someone else feel good, and that’s not bad. But when we start to fake it more than we are being ourselves, that’s where we run into trouble. If you are not being you, learning to love being yourself, than what’s the point?

People in their mid-20’s always say to the people turning 21, “enjoy it, it’s the last exciting birthday you are going to have.” And perhaps that is true; perhaps birthdays go progressively down hill from here. Perhaps there is little to look forward to besides finally being able to rent a car, and after that birthdays are just a reminder of dwindling time and drooping skin. But I refuse to think about it that way. Instead I would like to think that this birthday is another step towards becoming more real. The start of a life where I don’t have to pretend to be someone I’m not, a new era, where being just me is totally and completely okay.

So on my birthday I will cheers to another year well spent and completing another step on the journey towards becoming more me. Some things will take longer to change; my hair color is still kinda blonde and I’m certain I will fake a few more orgasms down the road, but for the first time, I am 21 as fuck.

The Crucial Thing We Are Getting Wrong About Single Life

Falling in love fucks you up. It seriously does. At one point in my life I was completely and totally happy with being single, in fact, I preferred it. I saw all of my other friends get into relationships, I saw them fall into the “relationship trap”, I saw how they changed and I wanted absolutely nothing to do with it. The single life, which I was living, was where it was at, and no boy was going to pull me away from it. In my mind, being able to go out all the time with my girlfriends, prowling the room for the hottest guy out there, having the freedom to make out with said guy right smack dab in the middle of the dance floor, that my friends, that was the life for me.

People in relationships always seemed so sad. At parties they would pretend to have fun, meanwhile checking the clock on their phone at 15-minute intervals, wondering when the appropriate time to dip out, while still seeming cool, would be. They would no longer have any interesting boy gossip to share during girl talk, unless it consisted of “my boyfriend and I had this fight today because he went out last night and came home really drunk and just started being super inconsiderate, blah, blah, blah”. Far less interesting than “I ripped his shirt off as he pushed me back against the wall, my heels digging into his calves, knocking picture frames onto the ground…” See what I mean. People in relationships, would always seem like they were missing their significant other when they weren’t around them, even if they were amongst their best friends, and that was something I just didn’t understand.

I liked my freedom, I liked being wanted by multiple different guys, playing the field, teasing some, at the same time getting teased by others. I liked the chase; in fact the chase was what it was really all about for me. I liked spotting a guy from across the room, someone totally new and making them fall in love with me, maybe just for the night, but for me, a night was enough. I know what you’re thinking: slut. But it wasn’t always about sex, in fact, sex didn’t even need to factor into the evening at all. Because guess what, guys like the chase too, if you know what I mean.

I remember the first time I truly felt lonely. The first time I felt like maybe I did want someone who cared about me, for more than just my appearance. I was looking at my legs, I had just taken a shower and they were so soft. As I was looking at them I suddenly felt this painful sadness build up within me. No one has ever really looked at my legs before, I thought to myself. They’ve seen them, sure, they’ve touched them, maybe, but no one has ever really looked at them. No one has noticed the freckles placed upon them, no one has asked about the small scars on my knees and consequently heard the story of my drunken fall the summer before, no one has traced the lines there, no one has loved my legs, and no one has loved me.

I was shocked by my sadness and there was no going back from it. I felt as if maybe it was time to turn over a new leaf. I had learned to love myself, now I wanted someone who would love me; someone to love me passionately, simply, completely, and in return someone who I could love in just the same way.

People say that you can’t find love if you are searching for it, and in some ways I believe that is true. It wasn’t as if I was on the hunt after my little realization, but my
eyes were more open than they once had been…no that’s a lie, I was looking for it. So perhaps it is true, the more I searched for love, the more unattainable it seemed to become. But in one fateful moment, when the road to love had beaten me down and I was ready to throw in the towel, I found it. And it was fucking unbelievable.

This is not, however, a love story.

The problem with falling in love is that when it’s over, it’s already too late. You have had a bite of the forbidden fruit and going back is not an option. Once you’ve experienced what it is like to lay in bed with someone who you are completely comfortable with, someone who knows every curve of your body, someone who wants to know the things that make you tick and has a desire to learn the reason your smile gets a little bit sad sometimes, it’s hard to forget. Once you know what it is like to have someone who will be there to squeeze you tight and kiss you like they mean it, when work has knocked you flat on your ass. Once you know what it’s like to be completely and totally caught up in another human being, so much so that the thought of being without them for even a second makes your heart hurt. Once you know what it’s like to be in love, strangers in the night become a lot less appealing.

Certain aspects of being single will never not be fun, don’t get me wrong. That feeling of having a new crush, those butterflies you get in your stomach, the adrenalin rush that occurs when you kiss someone for the first time. But one day, once you know what it is like to have loved and lost, and you look across the pillow at a guy you just met, who doesn’t know your middle name let alone the importance of clitoral stimulation for a woman before sex (uh hello!), the single life becomes a lot less charming.

There is so much importance placed upon the ‘single life’ when you are in college. No one wants to miss out on all these supposed hot hook-ups that everyone assumes everyone else is having. Isn’t that the number one reason people usually break off relationships in college, because they don’t want to be “tied-down”? But when it comes down to it, hooking up with someone for the first time isn’t always that hot, my “knocking picture frames onto the ground” example is a rare case in a sea of awkward encounters. A recent article in Huffington Post reports that only 48% of Americans are sexually satisfied, in Spain that number is 90%, apparently we need to step up our game. The thing I think people get wrong about sex in America is that it takes time with another human being to get it right. Maybe for guys it’s a little easier, but for women at least, it takes a little bit of finesse, a little bit of time, and a little bit of understanding.

Being in a relationship, or falling in love, allows for this kind of understanding of another, one night stands, not so much. Falling in love allows for a deeper understanding of the human body and is what takes an “eh” experience and turns it into an “oh my fucking god” experience. So maybe the guys who have no interest in being “tied-down” or the girls who run from every nice guy they meet, have simply never been in love. They don’t understand how good it can be, how satisfying it can feel. Or maybe it isn’t about love at all. Maybe it is a changing of the times. Maybe it is a growing acceptance that the single life means one night stands and a general indifference to who ever is in your bed. Or maybe I just need better taste in men.

But what if we looked at single life through a new lens. What if we decided to incorporate a little more love into our random hookups, don’t freak out, I don’t mean you need to fall in love with them, but what if we acted like we cared about each other a little bit more. What if we spent a little bit more time to get to know each other, to become comfortable with each other? What if we took the time to ask about each other’s bodies; what if we held each other a little bit closer, for the simple reason that everyone needs closeness sometimes; what if we were more interested in each other? What if we were more honest with each other about what kind of relationships we were looking for right off the bat? What if it wasn’t pre-determined that the girl you are hooking up with wouldn’t be hearing anymore from you after a 24 hour window, maybe you would find a person whom you actually really enjoy, and maybe not; but like all things, only time would be able to tell. What if we looked at every person we were sexually attracted to and expanded our minds to new possibilities? If we practiced love a little bit more within our single lives, than maybe, just maybe, even one-night stands would be something worth bragging about.

By Izzy Martens

Read this and many more: www.jokelife.co

Marnie.

It’s hard to describe your relationship with someone when you have known them forever. When you have grown up together, watched each other’s personalities form, witnessed their transition from youth to adulthood. My relationship with one of my best friends, Marnie, is just this way.

The thing is I can’t even really remember the first time I met Marnie, in my mind we have always just been friends. Some of my earliest memories involve playing in my room with Marnie, pretending we were working as baristas at Vic’s coffee shop, where Marnie eventually got a job later in life; or making up dances and plays, showcasing our loud personalities. The cool thing about growing up with someone is that you go from pretending what your life is going to be like, to experiencing what life is actually like. The countless sleepovers and play dates, the countless conversations about life, love, boys, sex, relationships, parents, friends, hardships and joy, that I have experienced with Marnie is what makes her a person whom I truly cherish.

There were times in our lives, as is with most friends, when Marnie and I have butted heads. Marnie and I are very similar in many ways, when we were growing up we both liked to be in the spotlight. We loved to dance and act, perform in any way we could. We were both loud, we thought we were hilarious (oh wait that’s because we are hilarious), and we liked to look good; raccoon eyeliner all the way baby. From the start we had some issues with going for the same men, our elementary school boyfriend list has some overlap. But we quickly realized that a best friend is better than a boy ever could be.  

Marnie is one of the bravest and strongest people I know, which she has proved time and again to me throughout our lives. She is the only person I know who, when she didn’t know what to do after high school, decided to pack up all her things, get in the car, and move to a brand new city across the country from where she was raised, just to see what would happen. When I went with Marnie to move her out to Oregon, in all honesty I thought she would be back within the month. She had only one friend out there, no job lined up, and no real game plan. I was scared and I wasn’t even the one doing it. But almost three years have gone by and my wonderful friend Marnie has proved everyone wrong. She has a great new life, she goes to school at U of O, and she has new friends and new experiences each day.

Marnie is still that loud, crazy, beautiful person who I know from my childhood. She has an intoxicating personality, which draws people in from all directions. She is sweet and polite, but she also doesn’t stand up for people’s shit. She is a fiercely loyal friend and even though she’s kind of small, she stands heads above the rest.

Although we live in different states now and sometimes have too long of breaks in between catching up, we will never loose the connection that we have with each other and that is something unbelievably special. It is hard to describe my relationship with Marnie, and to describe Marnie in general, because she truly is indescribable.

Happy 21st birthday to you my friend and cheers to 21 + 21 + 21 + 21(?) more.