Culture

'Don't Go to the Movies with Strangers'

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A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of reviewing Lisa de Pasquale’s memoir of life and love in Washington, D.C., Finding Mr. Righteous.  Her honest, sometimes funny and sometimes heartbreaking tell-all about dating life in the conservative world struck a few chords with me, so I asked her some follow-up questions. Keep reading to find out how she’s dealt with people trying to figure out who’s in the book, the current status of her dating life, and the latest steps in her spiritual journey.

Let’s get started with the obligatory dating update! Any interesting new leads in the growing field of romance?

There are a few prospects!  To be honest, I fully expected no man to ever ask me out again after putting so much of my dating history and insecurities out in the open.  I date with a different mindset now.  My focus is on my relationship with God.  When it comes to a romantic relationship, I aspire to have one that will strengthen, not weaken, my relationship with God.  When that happens, I have faith that the insecurities that plagued my past relationships won’t define me.

When I did online dating, I used to call it “dating practice,” because if you give everyone a chance (well, everyone who doesn’t appear to be a serial killer), you wind up going on a lot of first dates and learning a lot from that experience. My friends and I would encourage each other by saying, “There’s no such thing as a bad date; just a great bad date story.” What’s your favorite bad date story?

Dating practice is a really good way to put it!  I’ve heard Patti Stanger of “Millionaire Matchmaker” say something similar.  Like sports, even during practice you’re capable of hitting a homerun or scoring a touchdown, so it’s always worth trying.

When I was in college two bad dates stick out because they both involved movies. One was with a guy who asked me out when I was working at Starbucks. He was about 20 years older than me, but I agreed anyway because he seemed like a nice guy.  The movie was The Wedding Singer and he insisted on sitting in the front row.  He had the loudest laugh and after a while other people in the theater shouted for him to be quiet.  The other was someone I met on an online dating site.  I really wanted to bail because I was starting to get a migraine, but I didn’t have his number.  Since it was just a movie, I thought I could pull through.  Of course, it ended up being the longest movie of my life – Titanic.

The moral of the story?  Don’t go to the movies with strangers.

In Finding Mr. Righteous, you write very honestly about your struggles with self-image and self-worth. Did writing the book help you exorcise some of those demons?

It definitely helped me work through issues in past relationships, particularly my own faults and mistakes.  It also provided an end to some of those harmful relationships.  Putting those feelings out there in print and for everyone to see helped me be accountable for my own behavior.

Lots of women (myself included) can identify with your feelings of being unattractive, and eventually discovering our own beauty. What do you hope other women can learn from your journey? What would you tell Little Lisa, in her darkest moments, that you know now?

When I think about my own feelings about my looks, I’m reminded of comedian Jim Norton’s recent article on the passing of Robin Williams.  He wrote, “There is simply no way Robin could have understood the way the rest of us saw him.”

In the internet age it’s easy to get bogged down in all the negative comments (both internal and external) when you put yourself in the spotlight.  I can be feeling great and then instantly have my mood changed by one negative comment after an appearance on “Red Eye” or in response to an article I’ve written.  It is irrational and silly to give these trolls so much power, a lesson I learned from my friend and mentor Ann Coulter.  Someone recently gave me another lesson for when I start listening to and repeating the negative thoughts about myself.  He said, “How do you think God feels every time you do that?  To Him, you are a beautiful creation.”

Rather than spend time thinking about what strangers think of us, it’s comforting to know that God sees us as His beautiful creations.

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Another recurring theme of Finding Mr. Righteous is the role of your job in defining your entire life and self-worth. Many DCists feel exactly the same way, though few are as self-aware about it as you are. Has your spiritual journey altered your attitude at all? How? 

My self-awareness was certainly fueled by the fact that I’m not married and don’t have children. When I lost my job I didn’t have any other identity to fall back on.  My spiritual journey gave me a new perspective on my stints with unemployment.  One got me on a path that I didn’t think I’d be able to get to on my own.  Even though I didn’t think I was ready, God knew I was.  He’ll get us to where we need to be.  My last stint of unemployment gave me the time to write the book.  Then the book came out on February 25 and I started a new job on February 26.  Only God could come up with a plan that great!

The other part of the equation is where you work.  The political consulting firm I work for now encourages my outside writing, as well as other activities like travel and a healthy lifestyle. Thanks to my coworkers I’ve recently become interested in barre class.  When work is a big part of your life, it makes a difference to have a boss and coworkers who improve your life.

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The DC rumor mill has been abuzz about your book, as people try to puzzle out the politicos behind the pseudonyms. How’s life post-launch? How has your social world changed as people read the book and quiz you on the juicy details?

I’ll admit some friendships and relationships have changed since the book was published.  Often we want to fit people into a particular role, whether it’s as a potential boyfriend or a best friend.  Some people we want to be romantic interests are just friends.  Some people we think will be life-long friends are only in our lives for a short time.  I’ve learned it’s important to let those relationships blossom or end on their own.

Regarding identities, I was careful to mix truth with false identifying details.  My intent was not to “out” anyone in the book.  Some friends have made guesses, but I don’t want the book to become about the guys and not about the lessons and spiritual journey.  By the end of the book, I’m the one who is the most exposed.

I definitely sympathize with your desire to get out of politics, and to expand your scope into arts, culture, relationship advice, and more. Tell me about your latest projects! What are you working on now?

In addition to my day job, I’m continuing to write for various online sites like Townhall, Breitbart, BlogHer and, soon, PJ Media.  I’m also exploring some ideas for a second book, as well as bringing Finding Mr. Righteous to the big screen.  In between all that, I’m tweeting from @LisaDeP.

How has your spiritual journey, in particular, been affected by your attempts to withdraw from politics, and vice-versa?

Al Pacino in The Godfather Part III best sums up my feelings – “Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in!”

I was bitter for several years about the way things ended when I was let go from my position as director of the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC). I wrote about how that experience affected my relationships and friendships in my book. This year though I was able to let go of some of those negative feelings thanks to my spiritual maturity and attend CPAC.  I was there for a book signing and my book sold out at the CPAC bookstore. I also did more than a dozen TV and radio interviews.  It was a nice way to return to CPAC.

As far as getting out of politics, as much as I try, I keep ending up in that world.  I’ve been fortunate to have over 15 years of work experience and relationships in the conservative movement in D.C.  I get the feeling that this is where God wants me to be right now.

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Are you going to write another book? If so, would you ever write another memoir?

Much like a woman is “with child” before it’s born, I am “with book.”  I have one in mind, but it hasn’t come to term yet.  I would definitely consider another memoir if I have a story that I think is as unique as Finding Mr. Righteous.  I’d also love to do a sequel.  Maybe Mr. and Mrs. Righteous Buy the Perfect Beach House?  Okay, maybe I’m thinking too far ahead.

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If you could give a copy of this book to one person from your past, and ensure that they read it and took it seriously, who would you give it to? Who would you most want to read it? 

I suppose this is the easy answer, but I would give it to myself before moving to D.C.  I’m not one of those people who have no regrets.  Too much time was spent on bad relationships and behavior that didn’t bring me closer to happiness or to God.  I’d rather arm a younger Lisa with the power to make good decisions than pretend I have no regrets.

As far as others I would like to read it, I’d love for my favorite chicklit writers to read and recommend it to their fans, as well as anyone reading this who can identify with my story.

If you haven’t already, pick up a copy of Lisa de Pasquale’s Finding Mr. Righteousand join the conversation!

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Image illustration via shutterstock /  BlueSkyImage