Aline Tries Dating

Before we get into this, let’s all get on the same page: I don’t know how to date. If you refer back to this post in which I tell a bit about how Christian purity culture sucked away all of the possible experience and the knowledge that would’ve come with that experience, you will see how I know nothing. 

And maybe you’re those nice, hippie people who would give me herbal tea and say, “Oh, Aline. No one knows how to date. We’re all just figuring it out. It’s different with each person.” You’re wrong. You know more about dating now than you did when you were 13 because when you were 13 you thought you could get pregnant from sitting in a jacuzzi. So, you’re wrong. 

Imagine I’m that 13 year old but with access to BuzzFeed. 

Anyway, I’ve tried online dating before for like a month. I, of course, developed too strong feelings for someone and it was doomed from the beginning and Adele’s new album came out while we were calling things off and now every time I listen to it I cry a little harder than everyone else. Because everybody cries at Adele songs but I CRY at Adele songs. A little extra mucus. 

It’s been a year since Adele’s album came out, you guys. And it’s 2017. And we don’t have a black president anymore. And we don’t have a woman president. And everything is not ok. And all of this makes me think that maybe it’s time to spread these 13 year old stunted wings and try this thing again. 

If the world ends in a month or if I’m deported because the Kremlin sees no value in Brazilian immigrants, let it not be said that Aline Mello didn’t try to date. Remember me by how hard I tried, friends. Not by how well I succeeded. 

Anyway, I’m on Bumble. Because I tried Tinder in 2015 back before I knew everything was going to suck and now that I know everything is going to suck, I figured I’d try a more feminist app. 

There are some rules. Ahem. 

1) Can’t have too many selfies (adjusted from my previous hard rule “No selfies allowed at all” because I realize people have become sad loners and don’t have anyone to take their pictures and I don’t want to write off sad loners. Maybe sad loners are what I need right now). Too many selfies tell me that you probably have eight selfies on your phone for every one you chose for your bio. And I can’t be with a guy who has more selfies than me saved on their phone. I just can’t. 

2) Can’t have too many shirtless pictures (and don’t get me started on shirtless selfies). Like….we get it. You’re hot. You work out. ONE PICTURE tells us that. Five pictures tells us you’re obsessed. 

3) AAALLLL of your interests can’t be physical activities. So, you like kayaking and running and hiking and basketball and soccer and you’re part of an ultimate league and a city kickball team? Really?? Do you have time for a job? Meals? A personality? Dude. I know you have Netflix. I know you watched Daredevil and Jessica Jones and Luke Cage—binged as soon as they came out. Let’s not lie here. 

4) Blank bios don’t work for me. So I see your pictures but know NOTHING ELSE about you. How am I going to know you’re not a serial killer if you don’t put that you like the Tina Fey-Amy Poehler dynamic in your bio?!?! I’ll have nothing to go on so I’ll assume the worst. 

5) Anything sleazy/creepy/too strong/cliché on there. Stuff like, “just a king looking for a queen.” There is a queen in London and she is taken by a wonderful man who loves her and I know you know because you’ve been watching The Crown. “Living my life one day at a time.” So are we all, dude. “Impress me.” Uhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh…………no. 

6) I’m not allowed to swipe left on guys just because they look like they voted for him. But, you guys, it’s been hard. 

That’s pretty much it. 

I started it last weekend and I’ve already experienced a few glitches. One: Bumble limits the word count on your bio. And I refuse to shorten my words like a teenager. So I can’t fully express all that I am on my bio info 😩

Here it is: 


I had to sacrifice some of my spelling-integrity, but I think I did the best I could with what I had. 

Two, and probably MAIN glitch: GUYS DON’T RESPOND. After we match, I know it is on me and me alone to message the guy first within the first 24 hours. I take this responsibility seriously, so I go ahead and shoot a “hey! How is your day going?” Which, to me, sounds like a nice, typical conversation starter. But no. Apparently, dear readers, it’s not enough. What do these guys want?? A pick-up line? Something witty or funny or interesting?! 

GASP! IS THIS THEIR REVENGE?!?! 

Somebody go tell these guys that I was never at those bars or clubs or beaches or parks or school dances (wherever guys try to pick up girls), so I wasn’t one of the girls who turned them down after a first line. No revenge needed here, please. 

Well, I decided to stir things up and just go crazy. I bet guys do this too. They’re just like “BILL!! GUESS WHAT?!” (They’re yelling because they’re in a bar and there’s loud music playing) “I’M GONNA GO OVER THERE AND TELL THAT GIRL SHE’S HOT! WISH ME LUCK, MAN!!” And boom. He tries his luck. And whether or not it works out, he lives to see another day. 

Recent attempts at mixin it up:


So Raheel had a hilarious bio. A RARE OCCASION because guys are trying really hard to be cool, so they don’t bother with trying to be funny on dating apps. I sent him the first message as soon as we matched. 23 hours later and no response. So I was like ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ and went for it. It didn’t work, folks. It didn’t work. 

Next, I just winged it with Mike: 


He still has 24 hours. Will he reply???? Will he read it and scoff?!?! Or will he forget he downloaded the app in the first place and never realize I’d sent a message and in February when he decides to clean up his apps so he can have more room for food photos on his phone, he’ll see my message and realize that I am, in fact, the one who got away?!?!????!??

Stay tuned for more Aline Tries Dating. 

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November 8, 2016

4:03pm
I’m at Publix. I buy chicken breast, basil, tomatoes, and some drinks. My sister is out of town for work so my friend Frances is coming over and we’re going to watch CNN together. I don’t want to watch it alone. There’s a small voice inside me whispering that it might not work out the way I want it to. But I shush it. It’s just part of dealing with depression, I tell myself. There’s always a small voice telling you things might go awfully wrong.

Instead, I choose optimism and comfort food: rice with chicken. Frances is bringing dessert.

4:50pm
I call my mom. I know how to cook but I call her just in case. Cook the chicken first, seasoned with garlic, salt, and turmeric. Then add rice. I know this, of course. Do you have cilantro? My mother will add cilantro to flan if nobody holds her back. To her disappointment, I don’t have any cilantro. I do have basil, I tell her. Good. Add that to the top when you’re done. It’s good to have something green on top. Makes it pretty.


5:13pm
I press the garlic pieces down on the counter with the side of my knife, some juice escaping it as it’s crushed. I pull on the flaky skin, cut off its top, and plop the pieces into the pestle and mortar we use solely for garlic crushing. Brazilian food requires garlic. I scoop the white mush with a spoon and throw it onto the cut up pieces of chicken. I sprinkle turmeric and black pepper generously, rubbing my finger on the cold skin and putting it in my mouth to make sure the taste is right.

I decide to leave it like that to marinate while I walk the dog my sister and I share. It’s his birthday tomorrow. He’s turning 14. He’s fluffy and grumpy and perfect.

6:48pm
It always takes me longer to cook than I think it will. I still haven’t showered, so I’m wearing business-uncomfortable-casual clothes. But I won’t change until I shower. My fingernails are yellow from the turmeric. I hold them up to my nose—yep. Hands smell like garlic. I sniff my phone, and yes, my phone case also smells like garlic. Atlanta traffic is making Frances late, which is good. I’d almost anticipated it. Atlanta traffic is dependable like that.

I hurry to start the basil and tomato salad.

8pm
Charles can’t stand staying on the hardwood floor when everyone else is on the couch. Probably just can’t stand the injustice of it. I pick him up and put him by Frances. He balls up and starts making snoring sounds. Sometimes I wonder if he has asthma. I often think of his death and I can’t imagine recovering from it.


My bowl sits beside me, the juices of the tomato making the remaining few yellow rice grains look pink. My blood pressure must be high right now. I go between my phone and Wolf Blitzer—whose name alone is alarming. Twitter is a mixture of sarcasm and Florida memes and optimism and predictions. I go to the group message I have with my sister and two friends (Frances being one of them). We’ve been talking politics for almost two years now and today is a big day for us.

His winning Georgia doesn’t surprise us. But we strap in because this seems like it’s going to be rough.

9:36pm
I get up abruptly. It’s hard to breathe and Frances looks at me, a question in her eyes.

“I have to take a shower and put on comfy clothes. When I come back we can have dessert!” I try to sound cheerful.

As soon as I get in my room I let it go. Heaving sobs. Disbelief. Disgust. This race is much closer than I thought. This man has done so much damage to this country just from running. We’re gonna have a lot of work to do after she wins. I can’t believe this many people were so OK with everything he has said in the past year and a half that they actually voted for him.

I cry loudly in the shower, hoping the music I play on my phone will drown it out so that Frances won’t be worried. I am used to being the stoic cryer, so the desperation in my wailing scares me. I wonder how deep this despair goes.

11:10pm
I message my boss. I won’t be going in to work in the morning. He says he understands and that he’s thinking of me.

1:33am
Frances is still here. At this point, I am crying in front of her. But, to be fair, I usually cry in front of all my friends. I’ve put my phone aside and all I can do is stare at the map and make arithmetic word problems in my head. If she had won this and not that state. If he had lost this county. I’m doing more math than John King, I’m sure.


But, also, something else. The part of my brain that started developing at age 7 when I knew I was an undocumented immigrant, that has grown up on deferred hope, on what ifs and be carefuls and don’t trust thems kicks into gear. It is as faithful to me as Atlanta traffic. It knows what to do.

Grieve, it says. You have to. You know what happens to you when you postpone grief. Start today. Right now. The sooner you start, the sooner it can end and you can do the next thing. And as I remember favorite Nayyirah Waheed poems and all that I’ve had to grieve in 2016 alone, it continues:

We need to be ready to move to Brazil. They have your information because of DACA. They know where you live. You’re the easiest group to deport. You’re officially a “criminal alien” now. He called you that and they supported him, and they agreed.

I catch Frances glancing at me from her phone.

“You should go sleep, Frances,” I say, moving to stand up. “I’ll be ok,” I feel like I have to add. The sobs doesn’t make me convincing.

She’s hesitant, but I manage to slowly usher her out the door.

I grab Charley and head to bed.

2:09am
I cry in bed knowing tomorrow I’ll wake up with a headache, but I don’t take medications because I want to feel it. I want to physically feel what it means to face this much national rejection. I want to feel all I have to feel.

I take a picture of my face before I fall asleep.

I take another the next morning.

I look like something beat me up.

I don’t know why I take the pictures. I think it has something to do with witnessing pain. Not turning away from the uncomfortable. I think it has something to do with acknowledgement. Something to do with how children get hurt and wait to cry when their mother is around.

.

“grieve. so that you can be free to feel something else.” -Nayyirah Waheed, nejma

When you vote for Trump…

Do you know what it’s like to be called “an illegal”? It’s knowing that there is a missing noun after illegal because you actually know the language well, but also knowing that the government official will not correct himself. He will place a period after illegal. He will move on. Because it’s what I am: an illegal. Unworthy of nouns or pronouns.

Do you know how it felt to get my driver’s license at 22? It felt like freedom. Like I could drive for hundreds of miles now, just set myself free and go from Georgia to Washington State to Maine. I could apply for a job outside the MARTA public transportation line. I could show my license, not my passport, when I bought a wine at the grocery store. I could show an ID and get on a plane and travel within the confines of this country. I’ve traveled every year since then. 


Do you know what it’s like to watch the Republican Primaries debates? It’s hearing that you’re the blame for the economy. For welfare. For crime. But also hearing that you have no say, no space set aside for you. Decisions will be made regarding you. And the biggest decision of all is that you will be kicked out. It’s hearing all of that and knowing you don’t have a vote. And you can’t choose who will make these decisions for you. 

Do you know what it’s like to be afraid the police officer has some kind of vendetta against all Latinos and will put you in jail for having a broken tail-light and you can’t fight back?

Do you know what it’s like to not see your family for 19 years? A family that’s loving and warm and kind…. to lose all of your grandparents and not remember what they really looked like but still crying over what you’ll never have? And then knowing more people will die before you get to hold them?

A big guy like Trump, who likes to look tough and strong, he’d make the easiest first anti-immigrant decision he can think of when he gets into office: Undo President Obama’s executive action. The one that lets me work and drive in this country. The one that requires I renew every 2 years for $500. I wouldn’t be able to renew. 

But that’s the best possible outcome. 

The worst? He’d tap into all our information sent to the USCIS when we applied and renewed and he’d find us to send us back. 

All this other stuff? The laws, the Supreme Court appointment stuff: that requires Congress. And we know a united Congress can stop a president from doing many things. But executive actions? That just takes the president’s signature. 

Donald Trump, in one of his many ramblings, asked, “What do you have to lose?”

Maybe you don’t have much to lose, voter. But me? I have too much to lose. And yet I can’t vote. 

It Takes a Village to be a Brazilian Woman

I have a nail lady. One specific lady who knows my name and knows that I like my nails cut really short. So short that it almost hurts. Oh, and I have a standing appointment with my nail lady. Every other week. Thursday at 4pm. I’m a little behind on this whole commitment to nail ladies, so I don’t have a prime time like Friday afternoons or Saturday mornings. Those are all taken. My sister goes every other Saturday at 1pm. My mother takes the alternate Saturdays.

I currently don’t have a waxing lady because she moved. But my mom, sister and I have had a lady who waxes us from eyebrow to armpit to ankle since I was….ten? Eleven?

While others have a car guy and an air conditioning guy and a repair guy—we have nail women. Waxing women. Hair women. My cousins in Brazil did the permanent makeup thing where you tattoo(?) eyeliner on. Some women do the same for their lips, some staining that lasts months.

My aunt gets her nails and her hair done every Saturday morning. Her nail person goes to her house and, after clipping and polishing and painting, she stays for lunch. Then my aunt goes to the hair salon after lunch. Her whole day is gone.

You guys. It’s a lot.

And I can go into how ridiculous it is. I call it The Tax On Women. Not just the money we pay for all these services and products, but the time. The time it takes to put on makeup before work. The time it takes to make sure your hair looks presentable. To hide the blemishes men are fine being seen with. And just the time it takes to put a bra on, you guys. It’s usually fine, but when you’re half asleep and you get the clasp wrong the first time, it’ll take at least 2 more tries to get it right. That’s what happens with me, anyway. Get it wrong once? Doomed.

But I won’t. I won’t go into that. Instead, I’ll talk about the comradeship that happens when you have a woman who sees you every other week and sits across from you holding your hand in hers. She will get married and invite you. Or she will get married and it’s too late to invite you because you just started going to see her, but she would have invited you if it hadn’t been too late.

Regardless, you will see pictures. She will tell you how she met her now-husband. How her father is now in Brazil because he was deported and how he didn’t get to walk her down the aisle. She will show you pictures of her sister. And pictures of the new litter of puppies her dog just gave birth to. She will say she’s only selling the puppies to people she trusts—and she will offer to sell one to you at a better price because she knows your current dog is 14 years old. So, obviously, you know what you’re doing dog-wise.

She will help you pick out your nail color, suggesting you stray away from the usual dark colors you prefer. How about pink this time? Red? She will ask you if your thyroid deficiency is better and say she thinks you need to find a specialist. She might poke your thumb too hard and you say you’re going to tell on her to your mom and she laughs because she knows your mom and you’re both grown women. She will listen to you rant about how the Brazilian novela that’s supposed to be set in India is the most ridiculous and racist thing you’ve ever seen. She tells you her sister has an Indian friend whom she asked if the caste system was still a thing and the friend had said no. So she knows the novela is a lie.

She will ask you if sometimes you doubt God exists. You will tentatively say yes. Yes, you do doubt. But you’ll say it carefully, because even though you’re all about knocking over weak things, you don’t want to push too hard with her. You try to explain C.S. Lewis to her in Portuguese. You apologize because your Portuguese is elementary. She says you speak it well.

She says it’s her dream to go to college and be an engineer. You say you can help her understand the process and that she can ask you any question she has.

You say you’re going to have a Harry Potter party and she says she loves Harry Potter. You make a mental note to invite her and her new husband.

And you know, The Woman Tax, the extra time and money spent, it’s all kind of worth it. My nail lady has a steady payment from me. She hustles. And I contribute. But not only that, there’s a special connection you build with the women who are invested in your look. I’m not sure how to explain it. It’s worth it.

On Things I Must Believe

There are certain things I have to believe. 

I have to believe that God is good. Though it doesn’t always seem like He is. It doesn’t seem like His plans are always good. But I have to believe He is consistent in His goodness. 

I have to believe that God thinks black people matter more than I do. That He cares more than I do. That He is present with unarmed men as they die. That He is with armed men as they die. That He stands watch as the families grieve. That He witnesses their pain and that He grieves too. I have to believe that He empathizes more than I do. 

Shouldn’t that be easy? But it’s not. Not always. Because sometimes He feels so far removed. The God who defeated death. Surely, He is bulletproof. Surely, He allows things to happen. But why? Why injustice? Why repeated injustice and oppression against specific peoples? Why deaths that are justified and explained away?

And sometimes I look at the Church. His Church. And I see the disregard. The shrugs that come with “We gotta wait for the facts” but don’t they see that a man is dead and can’t give his facts? Don’t they hear the pain of their brothers and sisters of color? Yet the church plugs her ears and closes her eyes. It is more comfortable to ignore it. Maybe it’ll go away. And where is God? Standing, ears plugged and eyes closed? Or pulling at His Church’s hands?

I have to believe that God is wide awake. And present. And feeling. And strong. I have to believe that He has a plan. A plan that is stronger than capitalism and systemic injustices and built up bureaucracy and the majority’s comfort. I have to believe that He is at work. Moving people. Bringing people together. Starting movements. Planting ideas. 

Because if I don’t believe? If I don’t, I lose it. I am hopeless. I carry everything on my own and stare at our current state, hands down, mouth slightly open, and I’m frozen. There’s so much to do and I don’t know where to begin. 


I cannot believe that we will, once again, end up on the wrong side of history. I can’t believe that we will ignore the Lord’s direction for empathy and love and compassion. I can’t believe that people’s pain will be met with shrugs and apathy and pleas for “let’s just be logical.”

I think this is an opportunity we have. And this is the time we have. And if we have to begin somewhere, let us begin with the people who are supposed to follow a God who heals the broken-hearted. Who cries with those who cry. A God of compassion and love, who reached across the aisle—all the aisles, the greatest aisle of all!—for love. 

On Voting

Did you guys hear Donald Trump’s speech on immigration? He gave it right after his random trip to Mexico. It was very scary. He talked about dangerous immigrant aliens roaming neighborhoods, committing crimes that are so heinous they’re unimaginable. It was over an hour of just really scary, really inflammatory words. You could hear his audience’s reactions. I think Donald is fueled by their reactions. So his speeches get more and more alarming the more his crowds respond with cheers and yelling and chanting.

“Day one, my first hour in office, those people are gone.”

This week, I am starting to realize people don’t vote. More specifically, I’m realizing people my age don’t vote. People who can easily talk about how toxic Donald’s campaign has been for this country, who would never want him as president—they actually didn’t vote in the primaries (Donald won in Ga) and aren’t registered to vote in November.

I really can’t understand that. It’s very hard for me mainly because I can’t vote. Also because I will directly be impacted by whoever becomes president just like I was directly impacted by President Obama who signed DACA into existence.

But I also think there needs to be some sort of responsibility that American citizens should feel. Especially if you’re a woman. Especially if you are Black. But even if you’re White, there are people who fought at some point for you to be able to vote. There are people who thought this was really important. That having the ability to cast one vote actually reflected your wholeness as a human being and citizen. To be counted meant you are there, you are heard.

And here we are now. And there are people who are terrified of a potential Donald presidency, with all this talk of stop and frisk, and deportations, and banning muslims and refugees. But some can’t vote. Or people know that one vote won’t change anything. But what if all my friends voted? What if people who care about these issues actually came together and changed a state’s affiliation? It’s happened before. And this time around, it can happen again. (Ga is actually being considered a purple state right now as Hillary is running closer to Donald than Obama did to Romney in 2012.)

So, you guys, if you know me. If you care. Please. Please vote. It’s not only a right. It’s a responsibility.

P.S. People who think that non-citizens are going to try to vote need to sit down and do some deep-common-sense-thinking. Why would an undocumented person or someone who’s here with a temporary visa go into a govt run event and expose themselves in any way? Why draw attention to ourselves? Why risk our whole livelihood?? For one vote? Do you think we are that stupid or that patriotic? I’m very confused by this logic.

 

We are all Skittles 

Donald’s campaign put out a new ad. Let’s take a look:


There are lots of problems here. But let’s focus on how this depicts an extreme narrative of “us vs them.”

Here, the refugees aren’t brown nameless people. They’re not children washing up on coasts. They’re not mothers and daughters and fathers and brothers. They’re not even dangerous terrorists (though, that’s the implication given the recent events in Chelsea). No. They’re candy.

While they’re candy, we’re the decision makers. We’re the human holding the bowl of Skittles. We’re the hand choosing whether or not to take a handful. We’re the consumers.

And the “Syrian refugee problem” is ours. Ours to control or handle or benefit from. Ours to suffer. Because this is all so hard for us in this continent, right?

But are we not Skittles too?

 

160127122603-restricted-01-migrant-crisis-super-169.jpg

 

By making Syrian refugees into an “other” so extreme, we stop thinking of them as people like us. And that’s a defense mechanism. We don’t want to think that we could possibly be in the same dire circumstances.

The sympathetic of us say, “Wow. I don’t know how they do it. I couldn’t live like that.” But that assumes they can. It assumes they have some sort of super endurance. They must have something that we don’t have. And by thinking they’re super-equipped to face extreme circumstances, we think they’ll be ok. They may even be ok if they stay there. They’ve known war, right? It’s the Middle East, after all. They know what they’re doing. They’ll be fine.

This defense mechanism keeps us safe in our thinking that we could never go through such horrible war…after all, we weren’t made for it. We don’t have what it takes like they do.

It reminds me a poem by Warsan Shire. “Do they not know that stability is like a lover with a sweet mouth upon your body one second and then next you are a tremor lying on the floor,” she asks.

She continues: “All I can say is, I was once like you, the apathy, the pity, the ungrateful placement and now my home is the mouth of a shark, now my home is the barrel of a gun.”

If they’re Skittles, we’re Skittles. And stability is frail. And we can’t act like being born in privilege or living in safety makes us any different than those born in war.

“I’ll see you on the other side.” Shire ends it.