Wednesday, May 28, 2014

The Monumental Spring Cleanout

If it isn't one home project it's another these days.  It seems I'm always working on improving my place or else trying to rearrange it so it can accommodate our growing pile of possesions.

The truth is the place just can't hold anything more.  That is why I'm so eager to upgrade to an actual house - one where I have an attic and a basement to store unused articles away and where I can install as many bookcases and duck decoy display shelves as necessary.

The house is still a long way off.  We say maybe next year, but that's still a maybe.  I'm not even sure how big that maybe is.  It is entirely possible we will be in this condo for another 13 years.  While I like to think that there is a chance we will cut down on acquiring objects in the future, we still have to deal with the stuff that's already here.

Kevin is a huge pack rat.  I am a somewhat reformed pack rat.  Over the years I have come to treasure order over sentiment.  I don't want to be so attached to possessions take over my life.  If I can't use it, don't wear it, haven't read it, haven't watched it, or don't know what it is, I think it is a good candidate for the thrift store or the bulk trash pile.  Situations like this are a little harder for Kevin.  I have never seen him read a book twice, but when he buys a history book from one of his favorite authors, it stays in the house forever.  While I say I'm better at getting rid of things, I still have my teddy bears.  Then there is still is so much "just in case we need it again" stuff lying around.  We also have old books, art, and curiosities that would definitely be hard to get rid of because they are novelties.  Sometimes it's just hard to let go of things just because we have had them for so long.  Where can we start and where does it end?

I am finally taking matters into my own hands and I'm renting a storage locker.  This was something I was going to wait to do until I definitely knew if we wouldn't be buying a house next year.  I have decided I don't want to wait that long.  I want the spare bedroom to actually have space and breathing room.  If one of my out-of-town friends or Kevin's mother wants to stay with us for the weekend, no one will worry about books falling on her head.  I want to be able to see our coffee table and not have the giant pile of coffee table books on it.  I'd like Kevin's duck decoys to not be all jumbled together in a crowd on top of the TV console.  I'd like to have a closet where we can hang coats and not have to leave them on the backs of the barstools all of the time because they won't fit in either of our bedroom closets.

My first goal is to clean out the spare bedroom closet.  It's filled with memorabilia.  There are cabinets full of Kevin's albums.  We both had our old cassette tapes in there.  There are boxes for electronics we don't even own anymore plus old electronics we don't use.  I want the cabinets and the memorabilia moved into storage and the boxes thrown out.  The closet can be used to actually hang clothes and maybe store boxes of items we actually stand a chance of using.

My next goal is to clean the shelving in the spare bedroom.   A few years ago I had California Closets design a spacemaking office space for us.  We filled it up in record time.  There are piles of vintage books on the shelves such as a series on American History and the complete works of Shakespeare.  No one reads them, but they're cool.  I can understand a need to keep them around. (Kevin was a theater major after all.  Why shouldn't he want to have all of Shakespeare's works in his possession?)  Then we would have to decide which books to store and which to just donate.  I have a few of my own books I want to donate.  The shelves also contain a few empty boxes that can probably be trashed.

Next I want to work on the living room.  I am storing away all of my old VHS tapes.  I also think we have a pile of DVDs that aren't being watched, particularly workout DVDs that aren't being used.  I'm thinking if certain workout programs no longer interest us, it's time to send them to Goodwill and see if they can find a new home. Once we have the spare bedroom cleaned out, we can move some of the hefty coffee table books and some of the duck decoys in the living room into the shelving in the spare bedroom. 

Finally I can move my stuff that I'm storing in my mother's tiny attic space.  I think she would love to have that space back.  She has my wedding dress, my grandmother's china that I inherited, and my Christmas decorations.

This will not be an overnight process.  I have to start moving in next week.  So far I have a small pile of my own stuff that I will move in there just to stake my claim on the space.  It's going to take a while to work on Kevin to decide what stuff he can live without on a daily basis.

Am I crazy to do this?  Google storage lockers on the internet and you will find a hundred articles on why it's a waste of money to rent one.  If you don't have room in your house, you simply throw away or donate anything you aren't using.  Have a garage sale and make money off of it.  It's not worth the money you pay to just have the convenience of never having to look at the stuff you don't use. They're probably right, but I don't know what else to do.  I'm tired of the mess and there are things in this place that no one is willing to part with.

We'll see what happens once the first few boxes go into the locker.  I'm hoping the slightly reduced mess will be an inspiration to keep going. I dream of an orderly home.  Years ago when I first started making renovations on this place, my intention was that if I couldn't have a house, I would make my apartment the best it could be.  If the time came to sell, then the renovations would make it more valuable.  Should we decide to sell next year, having a neater and more orderly place will make this place easier to sell.  Homes full of junk don't have much curb appeal.

The cleanout project is going to go well beyond spring, but I do hope that it will be finished by summer and well worth it in the end.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

The Blight On Beauty

I'm not a fan of reality television, but I do enjoy seeing an occasional reality competition show that highlights the creative process such as Top Chef or Project Runway.   It's fascinating to me to see what talented people will create when given a certain set of parameters.

Recently I caught a Project Runway episode where the designers were brought to a  building covered in graffiti to gather inspiration for their design challenge.  The building in question was in New York City and was the city's only site for legal graffiti.  This building was covered in paint from top to bottom.  No where was any actual wall seen.  The building was just a huge jumble of designs.  Whatever harmony or symmetry in the building was lost to the paint.

I understand that graffiti is considered an art form by many and that many talented people had painted this building, but with so much crap covering that building, it was impossible to appreciate any one work of art.  When you looked at the building all you saw was a mishmash.

Graffiti is such a blight on our landscape.  No matter where you go, someone feels the need to paint a building.  Is it art?  Some of it can be quite artistic.  Some of it looks like crap.  In any case, the artist believes he or she is telling some kind of important story.  Who really cares about that story?  I see "Joe was here," on the side of a building and it really doesn't matter much to me that Joe was there.  I could see "Joe loves Jane" on the side of the building and it tells me a bit more, but I still don't care much about Joe or Jane.  It might matter to Joe's friends and family that he was there, but his friends and family don't need to read his graffiti to know his story.  Why do people feel the need to graphically tell their stories to a world that largely doesn't care?

It seems strange to me.  We live in a world where we have so many ways to express ourselves.  There are hundreds of clothing options out there that we can dress ourselves almost exactly to suit our personal style.  The same goes for jewelry.  We have so many different social media options to share everything we feel and do.  We can preserve our most precious memories with all kinds of archival websites for photo and stories.  It's even trendy to do it the old fashioned way with photo albums and scrapbooks.  Do we need to splash our thoughts and feelings and opinions all over the landscape with spray paint?

Why must everything have paintings on it?  Why not just let a beautiful building exist in its own beauty?  What will be next?  Will be begin paining murals on the side of the Taj Mahal?  Will "Joe was here," take over the statue of David or the Venus De Milo (because why stop at buildings)?

What if the building is derelict? Wouldn't some nice street art improve a rundown empty building? I can see the point of wanting to cover a derelict building, but wouldn't it be better to rehab the building from the inside out? Besides, once you start allowing someone to cover a building in street art, even the most beautiful work gets lost in the shuffle.  As I said above, that building in Brooklyn probably had some lovely work on it, but who could tell when there were just so much stuff mushed together?

Think of an art gallery or museum.  Galleries display a wide array of art, but the collections are carefully curated.  Art is not displayed in a mishmash.  Artwork is displayed for optimal use of space and piece are selected to harmonize with each other in theme and color.  You can stick too many pieces of art in one room and it will stop being so pleasing to the eye.  Even at home artwork needs balance.  Kevin and I are pretty big art aficionados and we love visiting galleries and are often tempted to buy more art.  When we find ourselves in a gallery longing for a painting, I have been known to remind him that there are some spots on our walls where we could hang it. Kevin will remind me that to hang more pictures on the wall would be to close up the white space in our apartment.  White space creates openness and light. He is right.  As a communications major, I took some classes in graphic design.  White space is critical in design and the best designs make the most use of it.

Why are we losing our sense of white space?  I look at our overpainted cities and think about how we are losing that sense of elegance, simplicity, and openness of space that is clean and unadorned.  Is making a statement worth a city full of paint?  If everyone is making a statement with spray paint, won't yours just end up being lost in a sea of graffiti?

Monday, May 12, 2014

I Did It! I Pulled The Trigger and Got My "Fix"

Note:  I am not endorsed or renumerated by Stitch Fix in any way.  This post is only for me to express my opinion and share my experience.  However, if you are interested in trying Stitch Fix yourself, I do request that you use this link, which will give me a 25% referral discount.  Stitch Fix did not provide me with this link in exchange for posting about them on this blog.  All customers receive a referral link when signing on and if you decide to use the service, they will provide you with one as well.

A few posts ago I rambled on quite a bit about whether or not I wanted to try Stitch Fix and what the pros and cons would be.

For those of you not wanting to go back and read a long-winded post (and I don't blame you if you don't), Stitch Fix is an online shopping service where you submit your size, style preferences, and color preferences to a website, and they pick out five surprise items of clothing for you.  You pay a $20 styling fee that is applied to anything you decide to buy.  If you decide you don't like any of the clothes, you send them back in a prepaid envelope and lose the $20.  If you decide to buy all five of the items, you get a 25% discount.

I finally came to the conclusion I had nothing to lose by trying it once and seeing if I liked what they picked out for me.  I do enjoy clothes shopping, but I have less time to do it these days and often have rotten luck finding exactly what I want or need when I do have the time to shop.   I had planned to do it in the fall when I would need my next wardrobe changeover.  I wasn't too concerned about the upcoming spring and summer season.  I had a whole Pin Board of clothes I wanted to buy from other web sites.  There was no need for shopping help just yet.

At the end of March I was feeling down in the dumps from this endless winter and decided that buying some new spring clothes would cheer me up.  Why not buy a few of my favorites to help me prepare for the warm weather I hope would be ahead?  I had some tops and skirts I really wanted from Mod Cloth and a dress from Shabby Apple all waiting for me to order them.  I took out my credit card and prepared to do some damage.

To my surprise, most of my favorite items were sold out. The problem with some of my favorite clothing websites like Mod Cloth is that they don't restock items once they sell out unless there is high demand.  It's not likely I'll ever be able to buy those items from them again.  On top of that, one of the items I was able to buy - the dress from Shabby Apple - ended up being ill-fitting and frumpy. 

Rather than devote more time scanning stores and catalogs and websites looking for new wardrobe ideas, I decided I should just try Stitch Fix now and see what they could do for me.

Ordering from Stitch Fix is very exciting and a little bit scary.  It is a huge leap of faith to order clothes blindly (although I suppose it's less risky than The Something Store).  I did a lot of research before placing the order.  There are countless blogs chronicling various women's Stitch Fix boxes.  I must have perused them all (I admit there is something addictive about them).  I turned a critical eye to the items they received.  Did I like any of it?  How did they feel about the pieces I liked?  Did they fit well?  Were they good quality?  At times it was hard to judge because the plan is customized and other women have different budgets, coloring, body types, and style preferences from mine.  If I disliked everything in another woman's box, but she liked it all, would that mean that my stylist would figure me out?  I also seem to have little in common with the typical Stitch Fix customers.  Most of them are Mommy bloggers who stay home with their kids and are trying to glamorize their frumpy Mommy wardrobes and not women who work full time.   I also couldn't help noticing that Stitch Fix bloggers are overwhelmingly white and many of them are evangelical Christians.  Can they design for a child-free, full-time-employed, skeptic? 

Personal style is a funny thing.  How do you define it?  Even if you say you like a certain type of clothing, there is no guarantee that you will love everything you ever see in that category.  You may like a style on other people, but find out those clothes don't really work for you.  For example, you may love animal prints on another person or on a mannequin, but that particular zebra skirt looks terrible on you.  The clothes you love on someone else might not fit your lifestyle either.

In some ways it's very hard to pin down my style.  I do try to find pieces that are unique and beautiful.  I often receive compliments on some of my more distinctive clothing articles.  I just never want to be over the top.  (I go by the adage that it's far easier to look interesting than it is to actually be interesting.)  If I were to try to define my style, I would say it's about 40% classic and simple (straight skirts, tailored pants, cardigans, blazers) 40% sweet and girly-girly (floral patterns, lace, eyelets, pastels), and about 20% "anything goes" (leopard print boots, skirts patterned with pink cats playing the violin*).  I prefer strong colors, but only those in the blue and red families (turquoise, royal, navy, ruby, pink, fuschia, burgundy, purple) and not in the yellow families (yellow, orange, gold, yellowy greens).  For neutrals I like black, white, and gray but never brown.  Beige and khaki I mostly wear only for casual wear.  Would the profile I filled out convey all of that?  If it did, would I still like the clothes they sent?

I tried to convey all of this in my profile.  I made notes about how I only like certain shades of green and that I like vertical stripes but not horizontal ones.  I told them not to send me maxi skirts or dresses because I'm too short for that sort of thing.  I indicated that I wanted work clothes for summer.  For this box, I asked for no jewelry.  I'm not against having them send me a piece or two in the future, but right now my focus is on clothes.  (Besides, I already have my preferred source for statement jewelry.)

It is kind of amusing that I think so much about style when so many aspects of my life require no style at all.  Sure I have to work in a business attire office.  Yes I do have special occasions with my friends, family, and husband.  Regardless I still spend much of my spare time in places where style counts for nothing and where I have no problem being a slob.  When I'm not at work I might be home cooking and cleaning in sweatpants and a t-shirt.  I might also be at the gym or at dance class wearing workout pants with tanks and tees.  Most of my weekend is spent at the barn in riding gear that gets dirty and sweaty (and this time of year is covered in shed hair).

I had concerns other than style.  I was concerned about fit.  I have such a difficult figure to dress and Stitch Fix doesn't carry any petite lines.  If you're short, they simply rely on designers who tend to cut their clothes shorter (and those might not be the pieces I like the most on others' blogs).  I was also concerned about price.  I set my budget high because I really am looking for quality items.  I find that cheap clothing tends to look cheap.  Stuff from stores like Old Navy and H&M tend to be ill-fitting and poorly made so as to assure all my lumps, bumps, and saggy bits are on full display. I need to invest a bit more in looking good.  Paying more money may increase my odds of quality, but doesn't guarantee it.  Also, would all of the pieces be affordable enough if I wanted to buy the whole package?

I had to wait a very long time to find out just what I would be receiving.  Due to high demand Stitch Fix is pretty backlogged with orders, so even though I made the order in late March, I was unable to schedule the arrival of my box until the middle of May.  On the bright side, it meant the weather might  finally be somewhat appropriate for spring clothes.   I spent weeks looking obsessively at the review blogs, trying to guess which  items might come my way.  In fact, by the time I was two weeks away, I was becoming bored with the whole process and I was beginning to care less about my box's arrival.

Then the day came that the box arrived.  I told myself that no matter what I saw when I first opened the box that I would try it all on and keep an open mind.  I was hoping for five fabulous items to totally make over my wardrobe.  I had to keep reminding myself that I might not like everything they sent (and that it was possible I would not like anything).

The box arrived.  I may have squealed a bit when I saw it.  The box was smaller than I expected it to be.  They pack the stuff in tightly.  Very environmentally friendly.

Here it is: The Unboxing.  I am doing a Stitch Fix review blog post, just like so many other customers out there.

When they ship your order, they have a list of what the clothes are on your account page.  I peeked and looked ahead of time.  I knew I would be receiving three blouses, a jacket, and a dress, but I didn't know what any of it would look like.  That was going to be the big surprise.

Everything is packaged quite nicely.  They include a personal note from your stylist explaining why she chose these particular items.  It was clear from the note she had paid attention to my Pin board.

The other distinctive feature of Stitch Fix is they give you these style cards that suggest different outfits you can make with each piece.  There is a suggestion for how to dress it up and how to dress it down.

So here are the clothes.  If Kevin and I had been home together for a longer period of time this night, I would have had him photograph me in them, but we were both home late, so I just took photos on the hanger.  I didn't have good enough light for selfies in front of my big mirror.

Piece #1
Lily Cheyanne Cross-Front Top

 This was the first piece I tried on.  I had high hopes for it because I loved the neckline. Unfortunately it didn't flatter me at all.  It made me look a bit dumpy.  I didn't love the color either.  I prefer my blues to be deeper and less green-y.  I also thought the price was a bit high for a glorified t-shirt.

Piece #2
Daniel Rainn Helga Abstract Pocket-Front Tank

I loved this top.  The print was so much fun.  I could really see wearing this with a black skirt and a cardigan for a more dressed up look, or with a light skirt and brightly colored shoes for a more fun look.  It would also be great with jeans.

The size was all wrong though.  It was enormous.  It was not just big and billowy, but had huge gaping armholes that let the whole world know what color bra I was wearing.  It also seemed a bit pricey for what it was, but had it fit, I would have paid it because this top would have been so practical and fun.

Piece #3
Collective Concepts Esten Button-Up Sleeveless Blouse

Is this not the most gorgeous color ever?  I was in love the minute I saw it.  Sadly, just like with the black and white top, it was way too big with the same gaping armhole problem.  I think I almost shed a tear having to send it back.

Piece #4
41 Hawthorn Farah Fit & Flare Striped Dress

Another piece in a gorgeous color.  I wanted this to work so badly, even though it has horizontal stripes and I usually don't look good in horizontal stripes because I'm thick and busty.  This dress was the opposite of the two shirts.  It was way too small in the top (and still had a small armhole gap to boot).  I think I did cry over this one.  The price was pretty reasonable too.

Piece #5
41Hawthorn Harper 3/4 Sleeve Jacket

See the jacket on the left?  I saw this on some other Stitch Fix review blogs and put it on my Pin board.  The stylist took notice.  The problem is I forgot when I pinned it that I had the jacket on the right in winter storage.  The jackets were just too similar to make the Stitch Fix one worth keeping.  Even though I liked it and it fit, I sent it back.

When I first ordered my Fix I told myself that if I kept three of the articles of clothing they sent, I would do this again.  I ended up keeping nothing, but I liked almost everything.  The problem was not the style. The stylist did a great job.  The problem was the fit.  I'm giving them one more chance to get it right.  I ordered another box that will be delivered at the end of June.  If they do well with that one, I'll do my fall wardrobe with them.  We will see what happens.

I am learning about other similar styling services such as Tog + Porter, Stylemint, StyleYou, and The Golden Tote. If the blogosphere is any indicator, Stich Fix tops them all in popularity.  I am not sure which others I would want to try.  Tog + Porter seems the most similar to Stitch Fix.  It requires a lengthier styling process that includes uploading photos of yourself and Skype sessions with your stylist.  I have looked at online reviews and it seems that women are far less happy with the clothes they receive.  I haven't liked much of what I have seen on Tog + Porter blogs, which means the complex process of styling doesn't seem worth the effort.

Right now I am still looking at my styling cards and wishing I could have kept that pink top and that blue dress.  

*Yes I really own these items

Monday, May 5, 2014

Why Is It Always Thought of As A Feminist Choice?

No matter how much I try to ignore "Princeton Mom", Susan Patton, she just won't go away.  She inflicts herself on the news media and consumers of media continue to give her an audience while pundits and reporters still give her interviews.

For those of you living under a rock and don't know what I'm talking about, Princeton Mom, is a divorced mother of two who now preaches that women should never hesitate to marry and that they should prioritize marriage while still in college.  In other words, women should seek the MRS degree.  This will guarantee that they marry a safe, hard-working, intelligent man and a stable relationship.

I am not even sure where to begin with my issues on this.

First, the assumption here is that feminists (oh, those evil feminists) have focused so single-mindedly on their careers that they have ignored looking for the right husbands and therefore end up in miserable marriages with unsuitable men long after their uteruses have dried up and become useless.

I really do take issue here with the assumption that because of feminism, women are automatically choosing a career over marriage and family and therefore are trapping themselves into these bad marriages and childless lives.  What's missing from this argument is that plenty of women feel that they can pursue a career and a marriage at the same time.  There is no rule out there that says that if you don't marry by the time you graduate college that you now have to focus all of your energy on a career and never go out looking for a husband if marriage is important to you.

"But what about having children?  If you aren't having children right away, you're going to miss out on that chance."  That point is duly noted.  Some women may decide that children are more important than a career and quit working.  Some women might decide to "mommy track" their careers.  Some women might just hire a nanny and keep working at the same level of ambition.  Some might decide to forgo children altogether.  That's what feminism is all about.  It's about choosing the path that you feel is right for you. A woman certainly doesn't have to marry straight out of college and forget about concentrating on her career in order to have a happy family life.

Anyway, there is no guarantee of a happy family life once that young, post-college marriage takes place.   The Ivy League woman marries her college sweetheart and they settle down right away and have children.  They are happy because she has the children she wants and the financial stability provided by her well-educated husband.  If you live this way divorce will never happen, right?  Your husband will never cheat on you.  Your husband will never become an alcoholic.  Your husband will never hit you.  You won't ever just grow apart as you mature beyond college and realize that you no longer have anything in common.  Since this will never happen, a woman doesn't need a good career foundation as a backup plan, right? 

Even if Patten is correct and marrying your college sweetheart could assure financial prosperity, lots of healthy babies, and a stable marriage, a marriage does not always happen just because you want it to.  A woman can't just decide she wants to marry and the husband will be waiting for her.

Let's look at my own college experience for a moment, shall we?

I went to a college where the ratio of women to men was about...oh let's say...63:1.  Okay.  I admit that's an exaggeration, but there was a large dearth of available men.  Most of the guys I dated in college were not students at the same school, which meant a lot of long-distance dating (difficult when I didn't have my own car on campus) and relationships that were not all that serious. Most of my boyfriends were placeholders or just recreational - even though I would never have admitted it at the time.  I'm not saying there were no tender feelings present, but they had little long-term potential.  I finally found an on-campus boyfriend at the end of my junior year and we dated until graduation.  At this point I was seeing many of my classmates pairing off.  It seemed every week another woman would walk into a class with a diamond ring on her finger.

I always wanted to marry someday.  I liked the idea of marriage.  I thought it was cool to have a partner to go through life with.  I always tried to be practical about it though.  I knew that maturity and financial stability were huge factors in making a marriage successful.  I knew that planning to marry at that stage in my life was not a wise idea.  I had no job and no prospects.  I would be bringing nothing to a future marriage other than a massive student loan debt.  My boyfriend agreed with me.  Furthermore, even though he was known to utter a wistful, "I sometimes wish we were older..." he made it pretty clear that I wasn't a woman he could really picture a future with.  It wasn't just that he wasn't ready to settle down. If he were ready to settle down, I wouldn't likely be his choice.

I spent the next few years dating.  I had very few serious relationships (I admit it was because it took a long time to get over College Sweetheart).  I was also struggling to make my way in the world.  I wasn't ambitiously breaking into a high-powered career.  My focus was on just finding a stable job, paying off my student loans, and moving out of my mother's house.  Would I have been willing to marry in those days if the right person came along?  I suppose I wouldn't have refused the offer.  Part of me really wanted anything that would be a hallmark of adulthood, but I still knew deep down that marrying might not be the best idea for me.  Having said that, I probably would have married the right guy if he came along.  It was a moot point as I still wasn't receiving any offers.

Wanting to marry and actually marrying are two different states of being.  Sometimes not wanting to marry is a better decision. That decision may have nothing at all with being too focused on a career to find a decent man.  Sometimes you truly aren't ready for marriage for other reasons and it's better to know that before you even start dating someone seriously.

What is also missing from the argument is the men's point of view. Maybe men don't want to marry either.  Maybe that's why women aren't marrying young.  Women are constantly being told by both the men they date and society at large that young men want to avoid commitment and want to play around as long as possible.  We are told that men don't want to be pressured, so we back off and don't say anything for fear of scaring a date off.  How many men want to marry young so that they can start paying for children right away?

More importantly, how must that make a man feel to know that his girlfriend is so desperate to marry that it really isn't about him?  He's just a future sperm donor.  Does she love him because she loves him for who he is, or does she love him because he is seemingly the perfect spouse? If I were a man, I would be very wary of the woman who is in school for the MRS degree. 

I have often pondered whether or not it is a wise idea to put two people together who are both desperate to marry.  If  two people only want to marry, and they can't find anyone else, should they marry each other?  That kind of situation might create a marriage, but can it sustain a marriage?  Can people stay married to each other on the strength of just being happy to be married?

I have seen a few of situations where friends of mine were feeling that sense of desperation.  They saw their friends marrying off all around them.  They worried about being too old to have children.  They married someone equally willing to marry for the sake of being married, telling themselves over and over again that they truly were in love.  They're all divorced now.

Here is another personal example.  The closest I ever came to marriage before I ever met my husband was with someone I dated who was  desperate to marry. His obsession with finding "the one" seemed to blind him to what he really wanted and needed in a wife.  He was very insecure and needed to know he could find a woman who would pledge to love him the rest of his life right away.  I suppose there was part of me that was a little desperate too.  As I said above, for a few post-collegiate years I felt like my real life was going nowhere and I wanted some sign of being a grown up.  I took his offers somewhat seriously.  The problem was that he wanted to be married more than he wanted to marry me.  He was convinced he was in love with me, but he was really just in love with the idea of being in love with me.  He was able to prey on my own insecurities by telling me everything I wanted to hear.  He wanted me to know he was the perfect man for me.  I believed him because it was hard to not believe such a nice guy (and I don't mean to be too disparaging - he was indeed a nice guy) would lie to me.  I don't think he realized he was lying to me, or at least didn't realize the impact of his lies.  He believed once we were together, everything would fall into place because we were in love.  What a disaster that would have been if we had married.  It took less than a year for us to realize how incompatible we truly were and it reinforced the idea that marriage for the sake of marriage is never a good idea.

There are so many reasons why a woman shouldn't marry young, and so many reasons why a woman who wants to be married isn't.  None of those have anything to do with prioritizing a career over marriage because feminism made you do it.

"B-b-b-but BABIES," scream the opposing voices. "Feminists don't realize there is only a finite amount of time that women can have babies."

I would like to know if there are any women living in the US, who don't live in some cabin off the grid in a remote part of the forest, who aren't being told on a daily basis somewhere in the media that their biological clocks are ticking.  If you don't have a baby by (insert age here) you will struggle to conceive and once you do conceive, your baby will be riddled with genetic defects because of your crappy aged eggs.  Even if you manage to conceive and the baby is healthy, you will suffer all kinds of pregnancy complications and your old body will never bounce back.  You will also be too old and tired to properly parent your children. Women receive these messages all of the time.  I have heard many of my peers declare they will go to any extremes to make sure they have children before age 30.

Also, women like Patton like to ignore the statistics that marrying before age 25 increases the chances of divorce.  Waiting for marriage might be just a smart idea from that perspective as well.

I believe in a woman's right to make her own choices in life.  Everyone, male and female, has to make the choices in life we feel are best for us.  We can't live our lives according to what others feel we should do because their choices led them to an unhappy place.  It's not that we shouldn't take others' experience into account when making life decisions, but everyone's situation is different.

We all have the power to make our own choices, but we can only choose those options that we are actually presented with.