People always ask me: Do you think it’s still time to open a blog today? And I always respond yes, yes it’s time, however you do it. Because you never know what can happen when you give yourself a channel to express yourself.
This is why I love Marina Khorosh’s story today. Marina knows a thing or two about dating. Dating gone… not so right, if we’re being specific. Her blog, DBag Dating, chronicles her misadventures with men as she navigates through her 20s in New York City and beyond.
More than dating, though, Marina knows about sharing, and the risk and rewards of being your most honest, vulnerable self on the Internet. Her blog has connected her to thousands of people around the world – and beyond her fan base, Marina’s blog has helped her develop a pretty strong sense of self and perspective.
I’m sure you’ll relate…
Marina Khorosh | Writer
When I was 14 years old, my entire ninth grade class was gathered in an auditorium for a sex ed seminar. For three days, a very serious man with a moustache monotonously lectured us on the dangers of unprotected intercourse and underground abortions. (This was in Russia in the late 90s, what do you expect?) One afternoon, I was flipping through a fashion magazine in an effort to stay awake, when I came across a photo of a tiny man admiring a large-scale vagina depicted behind him (a chef d’oeuvre that had definitely made its way from France.) Elated, I tore out the page, grabbed a marker, and gave the man an indicative mustache and a cartoon bubble with some of the key contraception lessons we had learned that day. I then sent my creation off to circulate the room. Within a matter of minutes, the entire class was convulsing with manic laughter, causing the teacher to confiscate the cartoon, which was quickly traced back to my contraband Elle. I was given the choice of heading straight to the principal’s office or having my mother come to school to retrieve my masterpiece.
I remember this day like it was yesterday. Not because I was particularly proud of my cheap joke, but because it was the first time I had experienced the thrill of making a group of people laugh. I had always been a sporadic class clown – a cartoon of a school bully here, a haiku about the chemistry teacher there. Yet it was at home, far away from judging teenage eyes, that I truly thrived as an entertainer, torturing my parents with nightly stand-up routines on the high school drama du jour. The thrill I derived from these performances made me believe that I could one day be an actress, a naive dream that was quickly deflated when we moved to America and I enrolled in the Stella Adler acting studio, where Ibsen’s Torvald ended up with a mute, stuttering Nora.
Academy Award ambitions tossed aside, I threw myself into a field that promised another kind of Oscar – the fashion industry. While I loved the excitement of it, it was evident that I was nothing like the flawless, ethereal superhumans walking – no, floating – through the halls of the fashion magazines I interned at. Instead, I was more of a walking disaster, fifteen pounds above fashion standards and equipped with a natural knack for getting myself into ridiculous predicaments. This penchant only magnified when I delved into the fascinating world of New York dating and encountered a slew of curious characters, from the West Village devotee who refused to step one block outside of his neighborhood, to a black-nailed Bukowski wannabe who sang odes to my private parts at Mars Bar on Bowery. The temporary mortification I experienced in each situation was quickly compensated by the reaction I got while recounting the stories to my gaggle of girlfriends. “Write them down,” they would tell me, and I did, only to abandon the project when that transfixing thing called First Love came knocking at my door.
Three tumultuous years later, said love had released me from its iron grip and sent me crashing down, heartbroken and discombobulated. I decided to aid the healing process in the way that every rom-com had taught me – by packing up my bags and moving to Paris. (Oh, fine, there may have been a Master’s program involved. Details.) Excited at the prospect of snatching up a suave Parisien, I began dating again. On my first attempt, a DJ from Le Montana whisked me away to a rave outside of Paris, then promptly sent me back home on a 2AM bus with nothing but a giant plastic umbrella to fend off the local hoodlums. Two weeks later, a guy I met at a local bar offered me his mother’s frozen carrot salad (i.e. carottes râpées) as a midnight snack, then reprimanded me for my unenthused reaction. It quickly became obvious that my longstanding penchant for bizarre dates had followed me across the Atlantic. Nine months into my new life, I was sitting at Café Charlot, giving my (married) best friend the low-down on my latest beau, a moody hipster who enjoyed wearing my mom’s Helmut Lang blazers, when she suddenly interrupted me. “This dating thing is a joke. You can’t possibly be the only one going through this bullshit. Please write about it!”
Unsure if anybody would want to publish my rookie scribbles, I decided to test the waters by setting up a blog. I wish I could tell you that it was empowering from that very first moment Dbag Dating went live, as if the writing gods had descended from the sky and transformed me into the woman I had been meant to be all along. In reality, it felt more like one of those dreams in which you find yourself walking through your high school hallway butt naked while everyone you know points and stares. For days, I was plagued by doubt – was I really going to go against everything Russian literature had taught me about being a woman of mystery, and start airing my dirty laundry in front of my 1500+ Facebook friends? What if my dad decided to read it? What if my employer found out? And, reputation sabotage aside, was I ready for the consequences this could have on my impending love life?
Somehow, I survived. In fact, it turned out that nobody cared much about what I was doing on the Internet, which meant that I really had to step up my writing to capture their attention. Suddenly, the worst of my misadventures were no longer a cause for chagrin but, rather, an excellent source of content. The hot divorcee who ghosted after making me babysit his kid? No time to dwell on that, a great story awaits! I quickly learned that people respond most to honesty, and so I pushed myself to be more vulnerable. Before long, I began relishing in the process, seeing it as a cathartic outlet that allowed me to analyze both the motives of others and my own patterns and behaviors. (Whether I saved myself a fortune in therapy or have set myself up for a lifetime of shrink bills remains to be seen). By developing a coping mechanism for my mini-disasters, I also gained perspective, finally seeing my silly disappointments as the small stuff that life, on its good days, is made of. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, ain’t that the truth.
This is the part where I am supposed to say that I am now a different woman, a superbly confident one, perhaps. Alas, inherent self-assurance is simply not in my DNA. To this day I am my own worst promoter who starts awkwardly grinning every time somebody mentions that I write about dating, the same sheepish smile that spread across my face when I got caught with that sketch in sex ed class. And yet, I would be lying if I told you that writing hasn’t changed my life in every way. I have new friends in different time zones (every reader is a friend in my book, just like every Bumble match is a potential husband), continous new opportunities, and the self-respect that comes with going through with a crazy idea. I have a healthier perspective and a new way of taking life’s tribulations a lot less seriously. Most importantly, I have an outlet for channeling the very thing I loved so much since I was a little kid – connecting with people and bringing them a moment of lighthearted amusement. And the joy I derive from that is what makes everything else, like my ever present single status, fade in the background. As I have learned, men come and go, but your passion – yes, I will risk using that exhausted word here – stays with you for life. You owe it to yourself to nurture it.
As for the men – well, just like there will always be those who see Dbag Dating as a fun creative endeavor, there will always be those who would never consider dating a girl with a “douchebag blog.” And that’s okay. Like it or not, this is who I am. Not a Hollywood star or a fashion enigma, but a dork with a marker – or, in this case, a MacBook Air – ready to toss her own good name to the Internet wolves to yield a couple of giggles.
To my mom: I’m sorry you had to come to school to pick up that picture.