Sunday Morning

“You are the leaves at my feet.
You are the hum of electric heat.”

Current Jam: “Hum,” Tigers Jaw

I’ve been craving attention. Emotional, yes, but physical too. I’m not even talking about sex, per se (though that would be nice). I’m talking about intimacy. Lying on the couch with an arm slung around me. Someone to come up behind me while I’m poring over whatever, to rub my shoulders and ask how my day went. Watching shitty TV together. I miss those little moments.

So I dunno here’s a poem about mornings and breakfast:

Wake me up gently,
quietly.
Whisper my name with your
fingertips
sliding
leisurely
down
powdered slopes.

Smile into my neck,
make me stretch.
Lengthen my limbs, pull until they
push into yours.

Skate through my hair.
Stare
at that freckle, the one
you love. The one that’s always
flirting with you,
coyly catching your eye,
winking.

Slowly sink,
drink me in.
Make a river out of me.
Make me
rush –
Gush –
Eruptme –

Good morning, my love.
How did you sleep what did you dream?
Tell me as we
come back to earth.

I’ll make us breakfast hot coffee pressed
black just how you like it,
black as that night that snuck past us,
left us unawares, tucked, until the sunny side eggs sizzle up.

What was that?
Oh of course I recall
what you like and how.
Tit for tat, mon deux,
you give to me I’ll give to you.

Clever chaos

Yeah… yeah… that’s it… that’s how I live my life…

I… have to share this story with you, gentle readers. Mainly because it exemplifies the occasional idiocy under which I operate. Ok, here we go:

My buddy Dan’s birthday was coming up. Well, in reality it had already passed, but he went out of town, so we were having a small, belated celebration. Since I only moved here a couple of months ago, I still don’t know my PA friends all that well. I haven’t gleaned the nuances of their personalities yet, at least not enough to feel adequately informed when purchasing them gifts. But this, at least, I knew: men love carrot cake. Practically all men love carrot cake. (I don’t know why, either, but I swear, start a poll amongst your Y-chromosome-bearing buds: it’s uncanny). I knew for a fact that Dan fell into that majority, because I asked him a few weeks back (the topic came up in conversation, and I made a note of his answer). Well, I worked at a European style cafe over the summer, owned by a girlfriend of mine (check it out here; and if you’re ever in Gainesville, Fla, GO TO IT IT’S GREAT!). She happens to have an amazing recipe for carrot cake, so naturally I stole it (for good, not evil! I swear!)

Since all of my jobs happen in the later hours of the day, my circadian rhythm is a few hours later than the typical 9-5-er desk jockey. So I concocted this cake in the wee hours of a Friday morn, trying and failing to refrain from eating a sizeable amount of the batter. As it baked away I danced around my apartment, attempting to work off a massive sugar high. I waited until the next evening to frost it, since Em, Dan, and I were planning to meet up around 8 for scary movies (and cake! Little did Dan know…. mwahaha). I intended to take out the butter and cream cheese to soften while I was at work. Unfortunately and predictably, I forgot, scatterbrained as I dashed out of my house, already 5 minutes late. By the time I returned home I had a few short hours to get everything finished. I had planned to bake a loaf of bread while I was icing away, so I preheated the oven before jumping in the shower, and placed the butter/cream cheese on the stove to shake the fridge chill off. Squeaky clean, I returned to the kitchen, slightly dismayed but not all that surprised: they were still a long ways off from becoming adequately warm. Then, I had what I thought was a Eureka! moment: I decided to place the packages of cheese, with the wrapped sticks of butter on top, on the racks in the pre-heating oven, only for about 30 seconds! I cracked the oven door, silently congratulating myself on a life-hack-well-done…. until I reached to take out the first stick of butter, which swiftly rolled out of its paper and onto the floor of the now 425 degree oven.

I imagine Benny Hill playing on my life soundtrack as I panicked. Despite the idiocy that got me into this predicament, I am mildly proud at my subsequent quick thinking: I grabbed a pair of tongs from my utensil drawer directly adjacent to the stove (look at me, efficiently organizing my kitchen!), and after 3 attempts, removed what was left of the butter blob, slammed the door and turned off the oven, all without igniting the puddle of fat pooled beneath the heating elements. I glanced guiltily at the loaf of raw dough patiently awaiting its tasty metamorphosis. There would be no freshly baked bread tonight. Not without inciting a neighborly riot from the smoke filling my apartment and the caterwauling of my well-meaning detector. As my heart rate slowed, I actually looked around to see if anyone witnessed my slapstick (guys…. guys I live alone). And then I said, aloud, “Ya know? I’m kind of glad no one saw that, because that was pretty embarrassing but… I’m gonna tell that story later, because it was actually pretty funny.”

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I did manage to salvage what was left, and that turned out pretty fuckin’ BOSS, if I do say so myself. *wipes dirt off her shoulder…. then steps ankle deep in a puddle of muddy water.*

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Current Jam: “Quiet Little Voices,” We Were Promised Jetpacks

Coming up for air

….Hi guys.

It’s, ah, it’s been a while. You look good! I know, I know, I never call, I never write. Life’s been busy as shit lately, 95% of it for the right reasons. I’ve been swept up in work and various career-related pursuits. I went to my first museum-related conference, I presented my own research at a conference for the first time, and I’m quickly becoming proficient in setting up and running tents at booze festivals, as well as orchestrating cider sales, drink in hand. It’s very stressful. Constantly thrust into a situation where I don’t innately know how to do something, constantly having to wing it until I get the hang of *insert random task here*… but it’s good. Despite the occasional frustrations, and the wavering confidence in the face of novice-hood, it’s good. All of these instances are like little building blocks, and I’m slowly constructing a valuable skill set. And even though I often feel like an idiot, I’m trying to remind myself that soon, I won’t.

So… obvi the job front has stabilized… I now have 3, count ’em, 3 gigs. The museum is the bulk of my time and energy. Oh how I wish the cold card cashola would rain down as much as the career experience, but thems the breaks. Luckily, living in a small town means (apparently) that word-of-mouth is actually a thing. My director got me in touch with the campus box office, and our education and public outreach guy directed me toward a local cider bar. Much like a Millet-ian gleaner, I’m trying to cobble together enough work to make ends meet, and slowly whittle away at the mountain of debt I’ve incurred since graduate school. The cider bar is a particularly fun extra: I’m back in the food and beverage industry (which I missed!), I get to tend bar, learn about making cider (which I like exponentially more, now), and simultaneously work and enjoy area food and drink festivals. At the last one, I made friends with some like minded punks at three beards brewing, and orchestrated a sale/collaboration with Rusty Rail! BOOM!  L’s is crushin’ it!!

Overall, I’d rather be busy than not, but of course having my hand in so many fires… pots… how does that expression go? No time to Google – soldier on! – can be at least confusing, at worst exhausting.  I’ve always been on the scatterbrained side of the mental organization spectrum. That predilection only intensifies as more balls come into my court (Jeez, I’m all over the place with those spinning phrases today – ha, see what I did there?). Ergo, keeping focus on the task at hand is difficult when half of my attention is trickling onto the next 5 things on my to-do list. Unfortunately, the pitfalls of a short attention span seem to be affecting my writing most of all. Not only do I feel as though I have no time to write, but any time I do carve out, well, case in point: I’m trying to write this post while in the back of my mind I’m considering what to make for dinner, when to go to the gym, the million little projects for the museum, finances, and whether I can swing subleasing my apartment to move in with a buddy to further gain a foothold over the aforementioned monies.

I guess that’s everyone’s life. We’re all constantly being pulled in a million different directions. It bothers me so much, though, because of a seemingly innocuous assumption that strangers make when they meet me and find out what I do:

Person A: *sips cocktail* “So what do you do?”

Me: “Oh I work at an art museum as a curatorial fellow at the moment, I want to be a curator.”

Person A: “Oh, so you’re an artist?”

Me: *ashamed* <– (but why??) “Oh, no, haha. I can’t draw or paint well or anything.”

Person A: ……

Me: *takes big ol’ slurp of cocktail* “I mean, I like to write, that’s my main creative pursuit.”

….Are you pickin up what I’m puttin down? I know that part of that assumption stems from people who don’t have an intricate understanding of what curators do, but it’s still not all that far from the truth. Most curators I’ve met started as visual artists in some form or another, and their careers evolved as such. It makes me feel like a bit of an impostor that I’ve never been very artistically inclined (that gift fell to my sister). That I enjoy writing is not a stretch, either. I like to tell stories, whether I’m crafting a post, surrounded by friends at the bar, or creating an exhibit. I like to verbally explore the nuances of our humanity and how they inform the intricate nature of our relationships to each other. But…. when I don’t feel like I have time to devote my chosen craft, or I can’t maintain my attention to it when I do make the time… well, then can I honestly say that when someone asks? Plus, I take intense pride in whatever it is I choose to do; whatever it is, I want to be good at it. I’m not that a great of a writer at this point, but the only way I’ll improve is to keep plugging… and yet it’s become clear that I’m not determined to keep it a priority… so what does that mean??

I was particularly distressed by that brain train the past few weeks (incidentally, during that giant gap you’ll notice between this post and my previous one). Luckily, my friend group in this town has quite the creative bent, be it visual art, film, acting, music, etc etc. I finally admitted my fraudulent feelings to the University’s resident print-making TA. Thank goodness, she knew exactly what I was talking about! “Think of it like writer’s block,” she said. “Sometimes you have to step away and funnel those creative juices into something else for a little bit. That’s totally normal, don’t worry.” As I pondered her much appreciated words of wisdom, their relevance rang truer and truer. Maybe the writing has taken a backseat, but I’m still creating! I’m learning guitar (finally!), I’m cooking so much more than I have in years (the fruits of my labor to follow soon, perhaps, gentle readers). I’m even crafting a teensy bit, in an effort to live on the cheap as creatively as possible. And, um, DUH – my job, my chosen profession, is about as creative as you can get. I guess that’s a transition I haven’t acclimated to yet, but when I finally realized that, I got kind of excited. My storytelling will most certainly continue, I’ve merely adopted a new medium! Eeek – perhaps, in a way, I am an artist (of sorts)!

Another ego bruise of the interpersonal variety came nipping at the heels of the dip in my professional confidence. The short version is, I snagged attentions from someone who was utterly and hilariously out of my league for a hot minute, there. It had no long term potential, and so pragmatically I knew the situation would run its course. Well, it did. The severance was perfectly amiable, but it was still a form of rejection, if a mild sauce, baby kinda one.

I will always have shaky self-esteem, I think. I’m a real sensitive gal who constantly needs reminding of her worth to the world. So I was a little bummed (Plus, the lower half of my mug looks like it’s eating itself right now; thanks perioral dermatitis, argh. C’mon, Face! You’re not helping!). However, I handled it as I initially intended to handle it. Calmly. While 2012-2014 L’s would have flown off the handle or self-destructively wallowed, 2015 L’s retreated a bit, licked her wound, slapped a band aid on that bitch, and got over it. My emotional sea refused to form a tempest… and that… that was an immense relief.

For the past few years I felt out of control of myself, completely at the mercy of the external world, that harsh mistress, that sadist. But these days? I feel…. I feel normal again. It almost chokes me up when I think about it, because I was so afraid that I would never, ever feel that way again. I thought that’s just how I would be, and I hated myself because of that expectation. I now know from personal experience that self-hatred viciously affects how we handle, well, everything. The negativity becomes cyclical: we hate ourselves, which in turns influences a string of crappy choices, and then we hate ourselves even more when we reflect on those choices. I wish I knew how to break that cycle. I’m not sure what changed for me… I guess I just had to dig through some crazy, and eventually break through to the other side. I don’t miss it, but I don’t think I’d go back and change it, even if I could. All those little things that happen to us build who we are. We’re all just walking parfaits, chock full of sweet and savory, and perhaps some salty, layers.

Anyways, to top off this all-over-the-place post, I finally had a day off yesterday!! I rolled over at noon, jumped out of bed in my birthday suit and shouted, “Today, I am beholden to NO ONE!!” I took a luxuriously long time to leave my apartment. I painted my toes (who cares if they’ll be hidden beneath boots for the foreseeable future!), listened to the latest episode of my new favorite podcast Lore (it’s perfect for a pre-Halloween atmosphere, go listen to it! go now, I’ll wait!), I scoured Target’s clearance rack for lacy underthings (these days I can only justify a purchase of a *new* clothing item if it falls in the underwear category). I found my favorite seasonal brew at Weis, and spent the afternoon in the company of new friends on a sunlit porch.

And now? Here I sit, finally putting in some quality time with you, gentle readers. No, I suppose things aren’t that bad, at all. ❤

Current Jam: “Bad Blood” Ryan Adams cover of T-Swift. I have been listening to this entire album since it came out… had I gotten off my ass and posted something sooner, this wouldn’t seem so behind-the-pulse. Oh well.

Struggles

I really like drinking, guys.

I also like being healthy.

I also like smoking cigarettes.

I also like being able to run a few miles without feeling like my lungs will explode.

….

These interests do not exactly conflate well. Since I moved, I’ve been pretty good… well… I *was* doing… good…. (sorry about that grammatical error but my desire for symmetry prevailed). And then I made friends.

Not that I’m ungrateful.

The group I’ve found has been welcoming and wonderful, and they make me feel as at-home as I could, while still being 5 states removed. They are hilarious, and creative, and delightful, and completely in-step with the kind of people I cherish most. The downside, is that ugly proclivity of mine has raised its head once again, like an unwelcome blemish on my self-control’s carefully curated facade. I spent the bulk of last week socializing, imbibing, and regretting the next morning as I struggled to re-hydrate, a task ultimately futile when you pour that next cocktail less than 24 hours after the last one. It’s a frustrating, constant battle for me, to keep that balance. I’d like to think that everyone has that problem, but somehow I reallllllyyyy don’t think that’s the case. And after 6 straight nights of drinking (my general goal is max 3), you’d think I’d be more than ready for a break. But it’s an enticing routine that is so hard to break once it’s established. At least for me. The first… 1-2 days intended as sober days are… they are more difficult to accomplish than I like to admit. And I know why, but I hate why. It’s because the change in my mood is positive, with alcohol. It always is. I equate it with a good time, however that manifests. Coming off of it, that inevitable drop in mood, is hard to deal with. Even when I recognize the pattern, it’s so hard to break…

Maybe I could chock it up to another “routine” of mine: For every 3 weeks that I’m on “good” behavior, I’ll have 2 weeks where I’m “bad.” These labels are completely self-ascribed and probably a little harsh, but I can’t seem to keep a lid on my discipline. It’s like an unruly teenager hellbent on getting laid in a 10-year old Honda Civic. Ugh. GOD. Case in point: last night. I couldn’t sleep, my insomnia most likely an aftereffect of a week’s worth of fermentation sliding through my system. I could have worked on my first ever conference presentation, I could have cleaned my shower, I could have finished this fucking blog post. What did I do instead? Said “FUCK IT,” took a bunch of shots of vodka and furiously danced around my apartment to Less Than Jake, growing more homesick with each passing Gainesvillian lyric, until I collapsed, finally spent. I awoke this morning, not with a hangover, but a head-bang-over… because once again my tolerance is creepin’ on up there, as my distending liver swells my omnipresent lil’ gut.

My friends back home used to joke that my catch phrase should be “don’t worry about it,” accompanied by a mischievous grin. I guess it’s still relevant though, since my friends here have finally discovered that I… I am the worst/best/worst again influence you will ever have. I’m almost thirty goddamn years old, and yet I still make the worst decisions sometimes. Jebus… at what point do you accept certain aspects of your personality, instead of vainly tilting at windmills, Don Quixote style?

Current Jam: “Overrated – Everything is” LTJ (classic rock is soooo outdated; though, in truth, I’ll *never* consider sex to be “overrated”)

And this…. because we’re allll just tryin’ to turn hard work into chicken nuggets, amiright?

BEST. WEEK. EVER. And Horoscope stuff – DEAL WITH IT.

Last week…. damn y’all, last week was fucking AWESOME. I had all the bases covered: feeling good, looking good. Kicking ass at work, social butterflying for days, making some money. Got lots of positive attention. The only downside is I’ve barely carved out any time to write… which sucks, because when I don’t do that I end up ADD as hell. My ability to focus is thrust into hyper-difficult-drive, and I can’t keep a thought in my head, let alone follow a conversation. So tonight, god dammit, I said to myself, “SELF. GO. GO WRITE NOW.” And here we are guyz…. ok so,

I know, I know, I’m new age-y and dumb. I *KNOW*, now let’s move on. I treat horoscopes kinda like Tarot: no, they don’t tell the future. Yes, they are incredibly, ridiculously vague. But they give me shit to think about. They provide entrees into brain trains, brain trains which force necessary introspection, and in my personal opinion introspection is a good thing. It fosters self-awareness, and occasionally, change. So. Two things:

1: My horoscope for today read like this: “Do you see yourself the same way others do? At today’s deceptive Sun-Neptune opposition, you may want to borrow someone else’s high opinion of you. Your so-called flaws can seem distorted and magnified—yet they are virtually invisible to others. So why the heck are you fixating on them, Pisces? Be stern with yourself and stop this time-wasting habit. It’s just a way of procrastinating so you don’t have to own your greatness. You’ve been busted. Now cut it out! The world needs your compassionate heart to shine.” (Aaaand obligatory plug: See yours here).

Yeah: despite coming off a stellar week, I felt a little low today, a little off. I was distracted, frustrated that I was so distracted, and I felt anxious… and since I’ve successfully kept that anxiety at bay since I’ve been in PA (like a victorious lion tamer, giddily keeping that lion (Baby?) in the corner (oh wait no, I’m not supposed to do that)), I felt even more anxious. I was scared it was coming back… but eventually it passed. Running helps. I guess that’s something I’ll just have to continue to deal with. Like any stubborn disease it may never ever truly go away… Ugh, anyways…

2: For all you with way better things to do than read up on astrology stuff, Venus has been in retrograde lately (specifically, from July 25 through September 8). Ok so, what the eff does that mean, L’s? Well, you can read extensively about it here, but the gist is this: Venus retrogrades, supposedly, are periods of intense reflection, specifically regarding the worth of your relationships, past, present, even new ones. As my buddy Fran would argue, this can cause exes to come back in droves, for better or worse. Everyone’s wrapped up in their own shit, re-analyzing how they’ve acted, how they’re acting, and sometimes that manifests in people from your past making a re-appearance, even ones you never thought you’d hear from again.

And so, tonight I got an apology… one that I needed. One that I had been waiting for, for a very, very long time. Tears ran down my cheeks before I was finished reading it… because… well, because that particular person hurt me so badly… and I had resigned myself to never, ever getting closure. I had finally, finally, released that aching need. And now, here it was, completely unexpected and without any pretense, no preamble. I won’t relay the entirety of the convo, out of respect for privacy, but the one line that stuck with me was, “I hope you find a really cool person, because you were really that cool.”

*Takes bow.*

Thanks, man. I hope so, too.

Current Quote: “Everything will be ok, whether you like it or not.”  -My new PA uncle, Chip

Current Jam: “Whatcha got?” Red City Radio

Oh, and this: (Because my friends have the best senses of humor)

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Guest Post: Tinder Lyfe 3 – The Nuances of Messaging

Time for Tinder Round 3, everyone! My clever, hilarious wyfe V is back, this time with some nuggets of wisdom related to two of the most pressing issues facing our society today: harnessing our self-worth as we swim through that sea of fish; and, what to say when we’ve encountered a flounder worth falling for… or at least, a flounder worth texting:

I love learning about other people’s perspectives on online dating and its myriad platforms. OkTrends, Vice’s online dating horror stories, and especially this lady’s Ted Talk. I love them all. It seems like nothing brings out an author’s voice like discussion of the successes and foibles of their romantic (and anti-romantic) gestures into this electronically-enabled wormhole.

Representing yourself in a flattering-yet-accurate way is not something that comes naturally to most people, especially when all you have to work with are snapshots and a paragraph or less. Words and images can seem suddenly inadequate when tasked with recreating a right-swipeable version of a human being.

It’s really not surprising, then, that we Tinder-ers see so many profiles that seem like parodies of each other, and in turn, the profiled. I’m talking here about profile pictures that involve posing with fish or sedated tigers or vacation shots that show the (Potential Tinderella) P.T. from a distance, with their hands raised in awe of a sunset on a Tibetan mountain. Or captions that tell the reader that the P.T. is AMAZING, so you BETTER be just as amazing if you want to slime up your dick in her pussy. See also: likes; hanging out with friends, family, dog/cat, dislikes; “fake people,” “short people,” “fat people,” “poor people.”

Traditional wisdom asserts that an individual is not the best candidate to judge how others conceptualize them. This may be why it’s generally considered bad taste to write your own eulogy. Our personal bias is an automatic disqualification. When dating, however, we must project a relatively flattering version of ourselves while slowly revealing our vulnerabilities. There is no Tinder profile that will perfectly represent the other complicated human on the other side of the wormhole.

As I wrote in my last post, some P.T.s may reveal their vulnerabilities too quickly for my or your particular taste. (See: How To Tinder, Part Deux: Self-Description)  From my perspective, a P.T.’s use of a cliché on their profile is both the exposure of a vulnerability—maybe they’ve internalized the cliché—and a way to hide one’s vulnerability. A commitment to individualism can be lonely.

Maybe you really love fishing, and you’re proud of that catch. Maybe that stock inspirational quote really DOES sum up your current worldview. Perhaps you are medically unable to even consider being seen with anyone whose height is not measured at 6’2” or more. If you’re on Tinder, you’re going to see a lot of people who you think are boring, or who you don’t think are tall enough, well-traveled enough, or artfully tousled enough to warrant a right-swipe.

Don’t worry about it.

Take comfort in knowing that there is something about everyone that someone else in this world will find absolutely distasteful, revolting, morally reprehensible, or—worst of all—hopelessly, shamelessly uncool.

These people who resent you without knowing you, and those who you resent without knowing are not your P.T.s.

After eliminating the absolute NOs, there are a still a lot of people in the world, and while I encourage razor’s-edge-of-cool, established-neural-pathway-searing originality at every turn, no one is that well-read, creative, and flawlessly styled at every moment of their lives. Neither a perfect personality nor symmetrical facial features are necessary passcodes to romantic success. I personally subscribe to the (clichéd) philosophy that you can’t help who you love.  Seen from the other direction, there is likely someone in the world who can’t help but love you.

Have I convinced you of the value of being yourself—your flawed, fascinating, sometimes-hokey self? Great.

I want you to be equally convinced that there are people in the world who aren’t right for you, and be totally ok with this.

This is the hard part, though: its up to you (and your P.T.s) to decide who is right for you, and who isn’t right for you. It’s also up to you to initiate conversation with your matches who you WISH would start the conversation with you.

The reason for this extensive preamble is two-fold:

  1. I am solidly on the side of a charitable attitude toward other Tinder users’ self-representations. I recognize the difficulties, both technical/aesthetic and emotional in crafting a digital self that is truthful without over-sharing, confident but accurate, and flattering yet comfortable. The point is to swipe right on people who intrigue you, and to swipe left on people who don’t do it for you. And always remember you can change your mind and un-match anyone anytime.
  2. After we’ve painstakingly built these profiles, it is necessary to engage in the crapshoot that is actually messaging other humans.

I think that other writers have thoroughly covered that some people are creeps, and that they will act in unpleasant ways when P.T.s try to interact with them. Other writers have also thoroughly covered what NOT to say to P.T.s. See Example 1.  Example 2. I will reiterate that harassment of any kind is never alright, nor should it be tolerated.

If you are a straight lady: message dudes first. They love that.

If you are a straight dude: message chicks first. They love that.

If you are any variety of queer, or potentia-queer, message P.T.s first. They love that.

If you are a dog or a cat, I think it’s cool that you can read. I’m impressed by your ability and honored that you chose to squander your groundbreaking talent and valuable time reading my writing.

As a reward for the hassle of initiating conversation, know that your P.T. is grateful that they no longer have to overcome their shyness, insecurity, and inability to think of “something to say” in order to begin interacting with you.

But what do you say? What is “something to say”?

I don’t know. I rarely remember the first thing I’ve said to someone. It doesn’t matter that much. What matters is saying SOMETHING. “Hi,” “hello,” “nice tits,” and “;)” are nothing.

Since you’re saying something, you might as well go ahead and reference something that you think the other person would like to talk about that also interests you.

That’s all I’ve got. I’m sorry. I don’t know you. And I don’t know your P.T.

I don’t have an algorithm that can vanquish false starts or eliminate small talk. Maybe you could start by mentioning something topical you’ve read lately. Like a blog post about Tinder and why I think we shouldn’t prejudge imperfect people with imperfect profiles.

PS, Did you know that every time you open up your Tinder app, the first few people you will swipe through have already swiped right on your profile?

If you want to take a better selfie, take a 10-second video of yourself “selfie-ing” and then screenshot the instant where you look the best. I still don’t recommend too heavy of a reliance on selfies.