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      Girls and Growing Up

      November 4, 2011
      From the column 'Girl News'

      It’s not like “girl” is pejorative, at all, but sometimes it feels like it is because of The World. I mean, we say “girl” and “girls” constantly and for everything but it’s not like we say “boy” outside of cutely sexualized contexts. (If a guy wrote this column it would be a) a bad idea and b) called The Man Report or something similarly painful.) I don’t care about the semantics of “girl,” anyway, because being allowed to say “fag” and “retard” is important to me as a person who knows words and can be a dick without being a dick, but there is, for suresies, a particular difference between what we mean by “girl,” even adult girls, and what we mean by “women.”

      This presents a problem, I guess, that swirls quietly and low to the ground in the “girl community.” (That’s a joke about racism.) A while ago my friend wrote a thing about how she is a “failure as a woman” because she doesn’t know how to bake, and someone on Twitter said that Girl News makes her feel like she’s not good at being a woman. What!?

      I thought we were clear on the idea that you’re not good or bad at being a woman or a man if you do or do not know how to do things or do or do not like things or do or do not… anything at all. I mean, statistically you’re probably a bad person, but there’s no checklist that makes a successful woman or a man or an inbetweenie. Right? But also, there is this change, a good one, that happens in between maxing out your twenties and being rude to people in the grocery store lineup. (“I am a woman! A wo-man!” Say it while gesturing with a skinny cigarette.) Before, I did a thing on what to do in your twenties; this is what to do after that. If you find lists (that diminish and undermine the human experience) to be a fun time, print this out and fold it up and put it in your wallet (which should be huge and made of soft leather).

      PURPOSE

      You can still be a stinging cunt all the time, if that’s your game. But as a woman it’s like “I want to be a stinging cunt,” not “I’m a stinging cunt because I’m confused about who I am and also I have seppuku-level PMS that I don’t understand and I don’t respect other people.” It’s like, there’s this perfect line that lives forever in my mind-grapes even though I forget where it’s from, where one angry businessperson says to another: “If you’re going to be a cutthroat person, be a cutthroat person.” I love that! Be what/who/however you want, as long as you do it like you mean it.

      RUNNING IN HIGH HEELS

      Mean it. Not walking in heels (amateur), and not running in one-inch fake-out shoes: You need to know how to run in heels, like a spy. I don’t care if you think heels are dumb; they make your legs and ass look perfect. There are some laws that are higher than rationality and Converse. Heels only work right if you can operate them while you chase down a taxi or the guy who pulled his ugly dink out at you on the street corner. Let it be known that it’s easier to run wearing thin, ice-pick heels than a platform dealie.

      ENJOY A BLOWJOB

      Guuuuuuess what? There is a period between age 25 and whenever your marriage starts to crumble where obligation blow jobs don’t exist! I welcome you to this holy land of adulthood where every single sexual activity starts to become about the actual pleasure of it, not about having to do it or because you think you should do it or something like that. When you’re in this Green Zone and also have done more than a hundred you’ll understand why a scrappy junta (your wet mouth and little hands) can end up ruling a nation (a whole, giant man and all of his faculties).

      Oh yeah also sometime after age 28 or so your orgasms are going to get way more… viscous. The experience, I mean, not your actual come-fluid. (Women don’t say or write “cum,” you feel me? Like, spelling.)

      FIGURE YOUR SHIT OUT WITH YOUR PARENTS

      If you’re not in therapy, here is what I have to say to you: “………..”. Which is nothing, because I don’t associate with psychopaths.

      Grown-ass women don’t have mom or dad drama, so here are your options: Be totally obsessed with them because the sins of your youth and their parenting don’t matter when Death is somewhat visible; have a respectful but distant relationship; never see or speak to them outside of death-events. Being all “nuuuuuuwaaaaah” about your folks (calling them “folks,” which I picked up from my brother, is the best, too) is not for women, or even girls generally: it’s for teenagers (OH, DISSSSSS!)

      I have a preetttttyyy complicated relationship with my mom, because she grew up in a small town, became a nurse, and is a doyenne of WASPy manners, and she mostly enjoys church, Aquafit and The Help, and I was/am a black-haired, blue-eyed hell-wolf-beast that emerged only to provide torture and distress for like 25 years. And yet! Now we are be-frys, because I’m a fucking adult. It’s very “Phew.”

      ACCESSORIES

      You have to throw out those busted, worn-down flats with a hole and you have to throw out that fucking Jansport with the Gwen Stefani print and you have to get some functional, grown-ass life things and you have to just stop pretending that you’re above newness, cleanliness, the tropes of public womanhood. You’re not.

      BOYS

      This is the most boring and the most true, so I’ve kind of hidden it in the middle here. Maybe the ultimate test of whether or not you’ve slid into lady home plate is when you stop caring about the infinitesimal actions and reactions of a guy you like--really: Stop. Caring. If you’re going “What does this meeeean?” about a communiqué or lack of communiqué from a dude then you’re still puffing around the bases. (I hate this metaphor so much.) The things that matter in your dealings with guys are what happens when you are physically together, not the uneven, unreal fraughtery of emails, texts, @s, posts, etc. If you don’t know this already… know it. OK, over.

      ASKING

      A woman is not afraid to make a phone call and ask for something she needs. It’s not fair to want boys to be Men if you can’t get your fucking driver’s license renewed or make a reservation or whatever.

      FUN

      When you get old and confident it’s so great because you do whatever the shit you want, like rich old white men. Seriously? Let rich old white men be your Spirit Animals when it comes to pursuing only and all of what amuses you. Like, usually I defer completely to my big sister, but I’m 30 now, and last week while I was being driven to lunch in her military SUV, I downloaded and played “Just a Friend” on my iPhone even though she was like “Shut uuuuup” because I wanted to sing it to my little nephew in the backseat. Nothing is better than doing those tiny things that you want to do. Nothing. Fuck with the clearly stupid coffee guy for a little too long, make fun of your boss (he’ll love it), sexy-dance with feral eyes at your gay hair stylist. Nothing is embarrassing when you are a grown-up. Nothing!

      DON’T DATE GUYS BECAUSE THEY DRESS COOL

      Fantastic tattoos and the correct denim and a t-shirt fit that makes your pussy cry doesn’t mean he can or will do anything at all in the direction of supporting you. Sowwy!

      DOING THINGS LITERALLY EVERY SECOND

      I don’t know exactly when it happens, but there’s a switch between girldom and womanhood where your life takes on the qualities of a take-out coffee (overfull; too hot; expensive: BETTER METAPHOR, RIGHT? I JUST MADE IT UP!) and you will be busy or should be busy all of the time. What is, by necessity, not done--which will include friends not seen or even really thought about; work not pursued; entire swaths of music and art and literature that you wholeheartedly care about not experienced--will remain undone.

      The up-slash-downside of this is that there’s no time to be all George-Michael-in-Arrested-Development-as-sad-Charlie Brown about anything. It feels really good to play with marshmallows in bed for six hours but eventually your nerves will be Jiffy-Popping to go do something productive.

      GO OUT

      Related to the above: There will be an era, once you’re grown-up, of wanting to reject the social world. Like, it’s definitely true that drunk people are annoying--on Halloween I started crying like a cartoon baby when I was in the middle of a thick crowd of people--and it’s definitely true that most of the time, the same conversations/jokes/outcomes happen on a three-hour loop, and it’s definitely, definitely true that you should be able to stay home by yourself and find it as entertaining and enriching as going out…. But.

      Here’s why that’s dumb: The only good reasons to stay in are to watch TV and get a good sleep, both of which are agenda items I vote “yay” on. Howevs, there are diminishing returns with both, which means that you can’t watch TV and sleep endlessly and get comfier and relaxeder, and happier, at all. After two hours of watching TV and nine hours of sleep, you’re just a puffy, cranky zombie.

      Sometimes I stay in so I can give myself a facial (ha, ha) and touch my hair a lot, but then it’ll be one o’clock in the morning and I’m like “Whoever I’m doing this for is out at a bar with other girls right now.” OOPSIES! Also, staying in as a personal culture is just a protective glass wall that anyone can see right through and knows is about late-onset fear and self-loathing and whatever. So maybe going into this era of in-ness and then coming out of it with better outfits and more to say has something to do with womanhood. ???

      BASIC SURVIVAL SKILLS

      “I don’t know how to cook!” is not cute. Every single grungy-butt punk kid grows up into a vegan master chef now. Fucking figure it out. I’m so deeply illogical and mentally abstract that I can barely play checkers but I can definitely make at least three different, medium-impressive meals that will keep me from crying on the kitchen floor and feeding myself individual chickpeas for dinner.

      SWAGGER

      I don’t mean swagger like swag like what rugrats have been saying this year (for slang it’s not even good! Too literal!) but I mean like swagger like swagger like how you feel when you kind of know who you are and say “No” a lot and have so much to do that doing anything other than what you want to do is absurd and hilarious.

      Follow Kate on Twitter @KateCarraway

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