Engagement Chicken Incarnate

You all know about Ina Garten’s engagement chicken right? There was a story recently on the Today Show speculating that it might have actually been a factor in the engagement of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle (I mean, they were are home cooking, right?) I love the Barefoot Contessa, though I must confess I’ve never made her engagement chicken. Which obviously explains why I am still single. ( If you didn’t read that with a sarcastic flair, you are reading it wrong. Though, note to self: start using this anecdote whenever you get the “why are you still single?” question “Oh I’ve never made engagement chicken for anyone” …) though in my defense most of the people I have over for dinner are my friends and their husbands, so making Engagement Chicken for them feels a little weird and potentially home-wreckery… Also I already have a go-to fool-proof chicken recipe…I digress…

I’ve mentioned before that Palm Springs is my happy place. I don’t take many vacations, but for the past several years my college roommates and I have a made a point of taking a long weekend in the desert, full of shopping, sunshine, cocktails and fashion. I’m not using hyperbole when I say that this long weekend is the thing that keeps me going through the entire year. Of course we tend to take this girls getaway in the dead of winter when our PNW skin is almost translucent and our vitamin D is waning… it also happens to fall in the middle of “winter sickness season” and so the weeks leading up to this trip are spent disinfecting all the surfaces at work and pumping myself full of vitamins. It’s around this time I also start incorporating “the elixir” into my daily regimen. For those of you who know me, you know that I swear by the elixir when it comes to cold and flu season. Anytime there is any hint of an ailment, I go straight to the elixir and don’t stop until I’m feeling back to normal. What I love most about it is that it works with your body to boost immunity, you probably already have all the ingredients sitting around, and also the fact that it is MAGIC.

Elixir:

  • 1 inch fresh ginger, grated
  • juice from ½- 1 whole lemon or lime
  • honey
  • 1 clove garlic, grated
  • pinch of cayenne
  • hot water

Okay, I know it sounds a little gross. Hot garlic water? Yes, I know, but believe me when I tell you that it doesn’t taste as bad as you would imagine, and actually I find the drink to be rather soothing. It’s not like I crave it, but it’s also not one of those things that I have to plug my nose and chug just to get it over with. It tastes better than most health drinks, and is so much more palatable than anything with Spirulina. Obviously I’m not a doctor or healthcare professional so I’m not going to go into the details of what makes the elixir magic work… but as we are heading into the winter months I’d suggest keeping this recipe in the back of your mind.

The other thing I do while prepping for vacation is try to get my eczema under control. ( I know, this is a super glamorous post about immunity boosting garlic tea and weird skin stuff… sexy, am I right?) I’ve had some form of eczema most of my life, and it gets triggered by a change of climate and stress. –This made trips to Montana over holiday break (IE After Finals + family dynamics) SUPER fun- I have distinct memories of dermatologist pulling out a ruler and measuring my neck rash… I’m sharing all of this because after dealing with this skin condition for most of my life, trying out various over the counter creams, and expensive treatments I’ve actually found something that works: Essential Oils. Yes, I use essential oils, but good news for you, I have no desire to sell them to you, or even really discuss them at all other than the fact that I’ve discovered that thyme essential oil is super effective at keeping my eczema flair ups under control. The only down-side is that thyme essential oil has an incredibly pungent scent. I’m an avid gardener and I cook with fresh herbs all the time, so the scent of thyme doesn’t really bother me, but after spending years in the wine industry and as a yoga teacher I’m very sensitive to how scents impact people. I don’t really wear perfume, I don’t use scented body products because the last thing I want is for a customer or a client to be put off or have an allergic reaction or a negative experience due to my personal fragrance choices. Most of the time I remedy this by applying the thyme oil at night as part of my bedtime routine.

That being said, the weeks leading up to vacation, the kid gloves come off. I am in full blown immune boosting, eczema controlling, nothing is going to interfere with even 5 seconds of full blown joy I plan on having on this vacation mode. And thus, last year, two days before our trip, I had the epiphany (while I was in the middle of teaching a yoga class) that in that very moment my personal essence was that of a roasting chicken.

As soon as class wrapped up I sent a text to my friends about how they better look forward to being on vacation with me because my new personal fragrance was that of freshly roasted poultry. Without missing a beat one of my friends replied back that the men would probably love it, and that’s when I realized “Oh my god, I’m engagement chicken incarnate!”

I know, it’s really surprising that here we are almost ten months after this revelation and not one person has proposed to me. (You mean to tell me that hot garlic water isn’t an aphrodisiac?) I guess being the embodiment of this famous dish is not enough.

I’m the girl in the dinosaur leggings

 

““Opening your heart and being courageous and telling people that you care about them or like them or that you think they’re special only makes you a better, bigger, kinder, softer, more loving person, and only attracts more love into your life.” Amy Poehler.

 

This afternoon I was running errands in these obnoxious bright green dinosaur print leggings. I’m actually a little bit obsessed with them (fun yoga tights in general) and I had just finished taking a killer barre class and was at Trader Joe’s stocking up on snacks and cheap wine. I wasn’t necessarily trying to make a statement, but as an introvert, I do find crazy pants are a sure fire way to get people to interact with you (for better or for worse.) No fewer than six people stopped me in the aisles to comment on the leggings, and as I was waiting in line one of the checker’s yelled “Hey Dinosaur, I can help you over here!”

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I wore these leggings on a first date once. We met up in a Portland coffee shop at 8:30 on a Sunday morning, me before heading to a barre class, him before heading to an all day seminar on Social Justice. Both of us yoga teachers… he ordered a macchiato, and we talked a bit about yoga and to make the date even more Portlandia, I discovered that he didn’t have a car, and though he did have a “Real” job he wasn’t that into it and would rather teach yoga and focus on his Social Justice book club. I wasn’t sure what his reaction to the dino leggings would be, but he didn’t even bat an eye at them. I subconsciously wore them, thinking at all else they would be a conversation starter. Lord knows meeting someone for the first time at 8:30 on a Sunday, before you’ve even consumed coffee is a risky first date scenario, so it couldn’t hurt to have a built in conversation buffer. The pants were never mentioned… he drank his tiny tiny coffee and we went our separate ways.

When I was a Junior in college my roommate and I made up a song we would sing to each other as we were getting ready for bed/ hungover on the weekend mornings called “Wasteland of love.” Looking back on this, it might have been somewhat of a clue as to why we were both single at the time, but you cannot live in the past like that. I was coming off of this epic crush from the previous year, and making up a show tunes style ballad seemed like a pretty good life choice. I met the guy in a Religion class of all places, and the second he walked in the door it was one of those “I’ve got to get to know this guy” moments. He was ridiculously handsome (at least to me) and a complete nerd all wrapped into one, and by some miracle we ended up in the same small discussion group. The weeks went by, we talked about the Old Testament, and our friendship developed outside of class. We spent the weekends watching Raiders of the Lost Ark and eating pomegranate seeds, talking about Post Season Baseball, and chatting in dorm entryways until 2 in the morning. We nerded out about Star Wars, and went to a few parties, and talked politics, and finally towards the end of the school year I got the courage to send him a note through campus mail that told him how I felt about him. I mean, after two semesters of hanging out, of Instant Message conversations of constant weekend hang-outs he had to kind of already know, right? And he got the card… (which, I wish I still had it, because it was this perfectly witty thing, and I don’t entirely remember what it said on the front, but it was this whole monologue about ketchup and jiggling a toilet handle, and it was of course this really round about way of saying how much I liked him etc. etc.) So we decided we should talk in person to figure out what this all meant, and when we were finally sitting in my dorm room and I’m like trying to keep my shit together, he looks at me and says “Internet. Internet. Internet. Internet.” And then kind of flopped over in this epic way like cats sometimes do , (and he had this amazing long-ish hair that that kind of flopped over this glasses) and that was basically our entire conversation about my year long crush on him… Twelve years later, and I’m still not entirely sure what to make of it, but whenever I find myself in a state of dating confusion, I often flash back to that conversation. And honestly, when people ask me why I’m not dating anyone, this is often the answer that pops into my head. “Internet. Internet. Internet. Internet. “

I’ve tried the whole swiping thing, and though a lot of my friends swear by it, I just cannot seem to get on board. My Freshman year of college I got a letter from my grandmother and at the end it said “look out for all the jerks and weirdos out there!” and my friends and I laughed about it at the time, but flash forward to the current dating scene, and let me tell you, there are a lot of jerks and weirdos out there! Yes, there are also nice ones, and funny ones, and I get that I should probably keep trying, but let me just set the scene of the last guy I met online. Picture it. Sicily, 1937… kidding…  We were out at a wine-bar and he spent a good seven minutes telling me this anecdotes about how he recently watched the best of Chris Farley episodes of SNL, and how funny they were, and how emotional he got because he grew up on that kind of comedy. I interjected how I could totally relate because I had recently listened to Amy Poehler’s book on a road trip, and started to get a little teary when she was talking about her last season and how it really resonated with me during that time since it was an election year and her portrayal of Katie Couric really resonated with me. And he turned to me and said “um… I don’t know who that is” and I said “Amy Poehler?!?!?!” and he got SUPER defensive and said “Hey I don’t really know authors that well ok!”

I’ve been on two “blind dates ” in my life.  Granted, this last one, the guy didn’t know it was supposed to be a set up, and I ended up spending the evening with my best friend and MY PARENTS at a dive bar in Salem, listening to a bunch of Doctors cover rock songs, and my BFF used the “countdown to St. Patrick’s Day” clock as a timer to when we could leave. The other guy got my name and phone number while he was under the influence of Anesthesia… (hashtag welcome to my life)

Then there was the guy I met speed dating. He was nice enough, well spoken, had two master’s degrees, super involved in his community, and seemed kind of like a catch. Then I get a 3 minute long voice mail at 2PM on a Friday, and he’s curious why I’m not answering my phone, and talking about how he’s going golfing but he just had some dental work done, and it had been about 10 years since he had a cavity, and how his mouth is numb and how weird it is, and he literally said “you know like when your foot goes to sleep, only its your mouth!!!” and I’m sitting there wondering why he thought I wouldn’t be at work at 2PM on a Friday, and who leaves 3 minute long voice mails rambling about dental work… and then the next day he told me he didn’t want to see me again because I was TOO rooted in my community and he thought we had different communication styles. Fact: we do.

And I get it, I think there are still some good eggs out there (which is in no way a veiled reference to my biological clock, because I do not want to have children…) and lord knows I keep putting myself out there, but it just doesn’t seem to be happening. Thankfully, people don’t seems to ask as much as they used to as to why I’m not dating anyone… When you are in your 20’s it seems as though people feel entitled to ask, and once you reach your 30s that line of questioning seems to mostly fizzle out, though occasionally it pops up, and once my brain stops screaming “Internet. Internet. Internet. Internet” my second impulse is to give out the phone numbers of all the men I’ve asked out who have said no, and say “ask these gentlemen, because I don’t know!” (disclaimer, if any of them are reading this… I’m not actually that crazy or that jaded, your numbers are safe) I live in a small town, I work in a women’s clothing boutique, so let’s be honest, most of the men I meet on a daily basis are shopping for their wives. I’m putting myself out there, I’m trying to stay open, but I honestly don’t have an answer to the question “Why aren’t you dating anyone?”

I did have a bit of a flirtation with one of the fill in UPS delivery men. It was always kind of exciting because I never knew when he would be on our route, and then randomly he would show up, all smiles and flirty banter, and it got to the point where my heart would kind of flutter anytime I heard a handtruck outside. My friend, who works at another boutique, started to text me when he was out on delivery so I could compose myself or put on lipstick before he arrived. Once I awkwardly dropped the signature thing and was thinking “pull it together Brisbin.” So finally, after a Summer of this, I get the text alert that he is out and about on delivery, and I calmly get a to-go cup, write my name and number on it, and make him a latte (of course it had a little foam heart on top, because that is the only latte art I can actually do, and also just because.) and I waited. I waited and waited and waited, and then I finally saw him walk by the shop, and realized that we didn’t have any deliveries that day, so he didn’t come in! Of course, I had a store full of customers so I couldn’t chase down hot UPS guy and give him the coffee/ my phone number, but had he actually come in that day, I still believe this would have been the COOLEST THING I’VE EVER DONE! But alas, I just had to sit there and somewhat pathetically drink the coffee with my own name and number on it.   (follow up… the next time he came in, I did give him my contact card, and he was totally sweet, and told me he just started seeing someone, and I said “can’t blame a girl for trying.” And then he was our UPS guy for the next 10 days in a row and I somehow managed to not be a spaz that entire time. And now he comes in sporadically and I’m mostly a spaz, but hey, at least he has my number.)

Fast Forward to now. (sitting at my kitchen table, drinking wine, still rocking the dino leggings, listening to jazz) This month for Bookclub we are reading Quiet by Susan Cain… and I’m not going to lie, I’m having a little bit of a hard time getting into it. And though we haven’t discussed the book yet, I’m kind of thinking that most of us in the group are going to say “It was interesting… but I already identify as an introvert, It was basically like reading a book about myself… and I already know that I’m like this. “ At least this has been my response to the book. There is part of me that feels like it should be required reading for extroverts, or maybe for anyone that I date (doesn’t dating me sound fun?!? I have hand outs and recommended reading about how to best get to know me and deal with my quirks… LOL) But honestly, I don’t need a book to tell me that I’m a careful thinker, that I think before I act, that I take longer to digest information and that if left to my own devices I “tend to sit around wondering about things, imaging things, recalling events from my past, and making plans for the future.” ( Quiet, pg 168)

Granted, I haven’t finished reading the book yet, but thus far the part that has resonated the most with me is a section that is talking about small talk “ In most settings, people use small talk as a way of relaxing into a new relationship, and only once they’re comfortable, do they connect more seriously. Sensitive people seem to do the reverse. They “enjoy” small talk only after they’ve gone deep”… When sensitive people are in environments that nurture their authenticity, they laugh and chitchat just as much as anyone else. “ (Quiet, pg 152.)   This I get, this is my jam, this is the section that I’m going to highlight and put on my nametag at speed dating. This is the flyer that I’m going to hand out to all my potential suitors, this is my new mantra, This is the key to the decoder ring of my life.

I recently got blindsided by having feelings for someone… and though I’m totally in life recovery mode right now, because things didn’t work out the way I hoped they would, I have to say, that the things you don’t see coming are often times the most exciting. Anyway, I’m still kind of in the middle of it, and figuring out the day to day, but basically the blindsiding thing happened, and I decided to act on it, even though I knew it was complicated, because in this day and age, dating is complicated (per an e-mail I recently received from a dating site, the Dating Apocalypse is here… just so you know… ) life is complicated, so why not just go for it and see what happens, and pick up the pieces of your ego and self esteem later? (kidding) But really, I’m a firm believer in embracing vulnerability, and most of the time it’s scary and kind of sucky, but also awesome, and so, once again, I found myself dropping a note in the mail saying, “I’m interested” (side note… I didn’t really realize until just now that this is apparently my MO. I’m boycotting technology based dating, but damn it, Jane Austen would be proud of my snail mail declarations of love… at least I’m consistent?) and maybe putting a letter in the post wasn’t quite as cool as writing my number on a cup of coffee, but it still felt like this amazing force of forward motion.

And here is one other observation I have about being an introvert… you have to be your own advocate.I feel a little conflicted with this one, because generally speaking, as a woman, as a human, as a person, looking for love, you shouldn’t have to convince the other person that they should have feelings for you, am I right? If they don’t get why you are the cat’s pajamas (where are these antiquated sayings even coming from? I’m just rolling with is) then they are NOT your person. You shouldn’t have to explain why your quirks are charming, why your awkwardness is endearing, if they don’t get you, then onward and upward…. ONLY! I’m an introvert. And I’m slow to warm up, and it takes me a long time to process things, and establish this comfort zone, so mostly I listen and observe and think, and process, and then I end up totally surprising everyone when I just put it all out there. And then everyone is like “Her?” (Oh my God, am I Anne Veal?) because it goes against everyone’s preconceived ideas of me. I think I would have thrived at the Milford School where Children should neither be seen nor heard. ( if you aren’t getting the Arrested Development references, I can’t really help you.) And so, yes, I shouldn’t have to advocate for myself as to why I’m awesome… but sometimes it feels like maybe I actually need to. And it goes kind of goes back to that big talk vs. small talk thing… It seems so much more natural to just tell someone you have feelings for them and approach things from a larger angle before getting into the smaller and more trivial things. At least it does for me… then again, I’m kind of realizing I’m in the minority here, and basically it feels like maybe my approach to dating is kind of like living in The Upside Down. Everything is vaguely familiar, but it’s different, and you can’t get through to the people on the other side, and its maybe slightly scary. But why bother with the small stuff when the big stuff is so much more interesting?

Anyway… its been a challenging few weeks to be a single gal in McMinnville. Then, add in the fact that I had a huge fight with my father over politics, and I’m basically feeling a little lost as a single.   I mean, I should have known better than to ask him point blank if he was voting for Trump, and when his answer was “probably” I literally burst into tears. My mom immediately asked me if there was anything else going on in my life… and well yes, I’m feeling a little vulnerable, and not necessarily trusting my gut right now, but also his answer really devastated me. As a little girl you are supposed to look up to your father as this ideal, this larger than life representation of how all the men in your life should treat you. And I realize that I’m exceptionally lucky, because my dad is, without a doubt, a keeper. But finding out that he was most likely supporting a candidate that boasts about sexual assault, who degrades women, and who I view as an all around terrible human kind of destroyed me. What is that supposed to say to me as a single woman, that my father is willing to support that sort of behavior from the man who could run the country? What is that supposed to say to me, that my father is willing to support someone who could speak that way to his daughter, to his granddaughter? And how can I look at him the same way? (and then, as I was having this meltdown, my mom backed her car into my car… I can’t even make this up.)

Anyway… round back to the story at hand… it didn’t work out. (Lol, you know that scene in Dirty Dancing Havana Nights? No? Just me? “I liked this guy once… it didn’t work out. He didn’t even know I existed.” Go watch that movie immediately, if not sooner). My dad might vote for Donald Trump, and I’m just trying to wrap my head around it all.

But here is what I know for sure. I’m an introvert. And I’m witty. I’m well read, and I’m a little awkward at times. I drink Whiskey. I like to listen to jazz when I make dinner. I sing Sinatra songs to my dog a lot. I’m quirky, I probably know more about Star Wars than you do, I teach yoga, I love to hike, I don’t like IPA, but I understand if you do. When I’m stressed out I like to watch The Golden Girls, my books are color coordinated, and I hate folding laundry. I’m not a morning person, but I’m really trying to be, I don’t like mustard, but I do like pickled mustard seeds. I like to cook, I love The Red Sox, but I tolerate most sports pretty well. My idea of the perfect first date is going to the batting cages. I like action movies, and I tell it like it is. I’m a good listener and I’ll probably remember random little details about the first time we met. I’m sentimental, I hate drama, and I value authenticity. I love gardening, and pickling, and my favorite place on the planet is Tintern Abbey (Fenway Park is a close second) I like real conversations, and binge watching things on Netflix. I’m snarky and cynical and also a hopeless romantic. I hate sappy novels, I love to cook, and being creative. I quote Arrested Development at least 3 times a day, and a good Meme makes me surprisingly happy. I’m quiet, and reflective, and dorky and driven. I like to dance in kitchen, and I can’t do a cartwheel, but I do make a damn good Manhattan. And I’m in the girl in the dinosaur leggings.

 

 

“No, that is NOT a baby bump” AKA sometimes people are the worst.

Over the last few months I feel like I’ve seen quite a few stories online about body shaming, and a myriad of positive responses about how women are supposed to love their bodies, be comfortable in their own skin, and just live their best lives without having to worry about the weirdo trolls who make asinine comments about weight, looks etc. And I totally agree! And I kept thinking how blessed I was to be in such a supportive community, full of strong and vibrant women who are positive and uplifting, and quirky and wonderful… and how glad I was to be in my 30s, and to not have to deal with the middle school/ high school drama, and how great I was feeling in my body, and how I was at such a great place in my life… And then a random woman asked me if I was pregnant…

Let me set the scene: It was a Monday, and I had just finished teaching a barre class, I was pretty sweaty and  I was wearing the brightest neon purple yoga pants in all the land. I wasn’t looking glamorous by any means, but considering that I had just finished teaching, and was going to be taking another class in a few hours, I wasn’t concerned with my overall appearance. No make-up/ yoga pants is a pretty common look for me on days that I’m teaching and running errands. I did have to stop by my work for a second to bring lunch for my roommate/ co-worker, so I ran in and dropped off her salad, told her I added some tomatoes from the garden, flipped through the mail, and was getting ready to leave when the woman at the counter out of nowhere said “Oh is that a baby bump you are sporting?” UM. WHAT?   I know that I’ve never been super great at controlling my facial expressions and I’m sure the look of confusion, shock and “I want to punch you in the face” probably came across, as I somewhat stammered “um… no… No it isn’t.” And I was kind of expecting a look of embarrassment to come over her as she apologized, but she just looked at me and simply said “Oh. Well you were kind of gesturing towards your stomach, and it looks like you definitely could be pregnant, so I just assumed by your body language that you were.” No apology, no embarrassment, no remorse.

This was the part that really killed me, because sure, it’s bad enough for someone to ask you if you are Pregnant on a Monday morning right after you finish working out, but for her to then try to justify why she even said something, and pretty much stand by her ridiculous faux pas was something I wasn’t really ready for. And everything about her facial expression and her tone made it very clear that she felt entitled to make a comment like that, and it almost inferred that rather than her being embarrassed for making a mistake, I should be embarrassed about my body because how was she to know? Clearly it wasn’t her fault for opening her mouth, it was my fault for looking the way that I did.

Now, I was brought up in the generation of “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.” Which is fascinating to me, because the older I get, the more I find that the mother’s who were preaching this sort of behavior to us, are the ones who feel entitled to tell us exactly what they think with this unfiltered bluntness, and seem to have no concept of what is rude and what is socially acceptable. It’s like they think they are doing you this huge favor. HOW IS THIS A THING?

I left the shop feeling baffled, and chubby, and oh so irritated. Let me just say, that I don’t have issues with my body. As a woman, I’m quite aware of what areas I could work on, I know that I have a genetic disposition for German hips, I know how quickly my metabolism is working (or not working) and what I put into my body. I know all of these things, and I exercise regularly, and I drink a lot of water, and I eat pretty healthy… but I also eat cheese. I eat cheese, and I drink beer, and I choose all of my choices. I take 3-4 barre classes a week, I teach yoga, I walk, I run occasionally, and I am 100% comfortable in my own skin. Yes, I could work out more, I could eat less, I could cut out alcohol, I could do a LOT of things, but I am not currently, nor have I ever been bogged down by issues of my weight and low self-esteem. I’m very self aware of my own body, I dress appropriately, I love my sense of style, I don’t get hung up on things like sizes, and I embrace the fact that I have a few curves.  Overall, I think I have a pretty healthy outlook… and then something like this happens, and though it is mostly just irritating, and rude, it still put a microscopic crack in my positive body image.

Me, being sassy, living my best life.

Me, being sassy, living my best life.

And here I where I go on a little side tangent… I am 30, and I’ve recently started getting back into the dating scene. Every man I’ve dated in my adult life has at some point in conversation made a comment like “I don’t understand why you are still single!” Which I understand, is supposed to be this flattering, read between the lines, because I think you are awesome kind of compliment, but I also find it frustrating because what am I supposed to say to that? “Well… if I knew, I probably wouldn’t be single…” which just seems to confuse them even more, and really the simple answer is. Well, no one asks me out, and all the guys I ask out say no… so what is a girl supposed to do? And then it’s like “Well are they fishing for something? Are try wondering if I’m secretly crazy?” I mean, is being single SUCH a weird thing? Do I actually need to say “ I just haven’t met the right person yet, and lucky for you, because now we are on this date, and we get to try and figure out if you are the right person.” Overall, it’s not a question that keeps me up at night, I don’t lie awake and ask the universe “WHY AM I SINGLE? I JUST DON’T GET IT!” Because I’ve always been under the impression that it would happen when it happened and I have bigger things to worry about that finding a soul mate. ANYWAY… So I’m sitting in the shop and this woman has just looked at me and asked about my non-existent baby bump, and is kind of giving me this knowing look of like “isn’t this the best time of your life?” And her smugness is just pissing me off even more, because actually no, it is not my dream in life to be a mother, and yes it is the best time of my life, and it has nothing to do with the apparent burrito belly I’m currently sporting… and I’m not self conscious about my body, and I don’t care what other people think, and then with this one fleeting comment, suddenly the only thought running through my head is “Oh my god. This is why I’m single… all the men out there think I’m pregnant. This is why no one wants to date me.”

And I hate that my brain went there, even if it was for just a second. Microscopic chip, and in comes the self doubt.

Of course, I called all the friends who I knew would be offended, I vented, they consoled and told me things like “A) you don’t, and B) its your body, and it is highly inappropriate for her to make comments about it. Even if you were 9 months pregnant, if she doesn’t know you, it is NOT ok to assume and make comments, and she is insane, and people are dumb. Its never ok to say something like that.” I was consoled by their kindness, by the fact that we all agreed that people are crazy, and just tried to brush it off.

And I did. I opted not to take it personally, I opted not to dwell (I opted to do a few more core exercises) and rather than letting the situation bring me down, I decided to laugh about it. I wasn’t about to let what some stranger said about my stomach get inside my head. Flash forward a week and a half, I was back teaching barre, and I decided to tell the anecdote to my class. One of my favorite teaching tactics is to tell personal stories when we are right in the midst of doing something hard. It takes everyone’s mind off of what we are doing, it lightens the mood, and it’s a great way to bring a little authenticity to the class. I’m sharing about my life, I’m making myself vulnerable, we are on this journey together kind of stuff. I wasn’t looking for them to say “oh no, you don’t look pregnant” I was more hoping to distract them and then encourage them to keep their cores activated by saying “now everyone engage your core. Your faux baby bump, if you will.”   Everyone laughed, we made it through the hard part of class, the mood was light, and things were going great.

As we were cleaning up the mats and putting the props away most of my students were making comments about “I can’t believe someone said that to you! People can be so rude!” and I was appreciative, and thrilled to be in a group of women who seemed to understand that there are things that you just don’t say out loud to people. And then one of my students pulled me aside and said “Well… don’t be offended by this, but I HAVE noticed that you’ve gained quite a bit of weight, and it’s all kind of right around your waist and hips, and quite frankly, I think that woman kind of had a point. You do look like you could be pregnant.”

One of my students actually said this to me… I couldn’t move, I couldn’t blink, I couldn’t breath. Finally, I forced an awkward smile and continued cleaning up the studio, and hoped that I didn’t start crying before everyone left. I mean, I understand that I strive to have all of my classes be a safe environment for sharing… But really? I have never once in my life taken a class and afterwards  felt like “ You know what? That was a great class, and I’m feeling awesome, but my teacher is looking a little chubby, I should probably just let her know. Just in case she is under the impression that she is super fit…” WHO SAYS STUFF LIKE THAT? I mean, apparently I know who says stuff like that… this student of mine apparently says stuff like that… but I was so taken aback. I wasn’t telling that story so the whole class would tell me how good I looked, I wasn’t looking for them to compliment me, I was trying to open up and be vulnerable and show that I was human, and rather than a “thanks for class.” I got a “well you DID gain weight.” Again, it was this accusatory tone of “well if you didn’t look this way, people wouldn’t make comments.” I took several deep breaths. And then I took several more deep breaths. AND THEN SHE CAME BACK OVER TO ME AND RE-ITERATED HER POINT. You guys, I can’t make this stuff up. She actually came back over and said “I really hope you weren’t offended.   I know that you are really very strong… but you’ve definitely put on some weight, and I can see why that woman said that to you. You look like you could be pregnant! She had a point!” And then she walked out the door. (because when you pre-empt an offensive comment with I hope you weren’t offended, that totally lets you off the hook, right? )

And how am I even supposed to react to that? IS THIS REAL LIFE? (Yes, yes it is.) I sat on the floor of the studio and took a few moments somewhat wondering “Did that really just happen?” and I just couldn’t figure it out. (I still can’t…) I mean… really, in what universe is it ok to just casually tell someone you’ve noticed they’ve gotten chubby and maybe look pregnant? Is this a thing? Is the whole world assuming that I’m just not aware of my own body, and that suddenly it needs to be pointed out to me how I look? You know, just in case I didn’t know?  WHO ARE THESE WOMEN?

I am still baffled by the situation… I mean, how else am I supposed to react? Was it hurtful? Sure. Was I offended? Absolutely. But also… I suppose that in some weird way I am grateful… I’m grateful that I can see this type of behavior, and know that as I age, I don’t want to be the type of woman who doesn’t have a filter. I don’t’ want to be the type of woman who feels entitled to speak her mind at the expense of other’s feelings. I don’t want to be the woman who is brazen enough to tell her yoga teacher that she’s put on a few pounds, I don’t want to be rude.

I’m not saying that I’m perfect, I’m not saying that I haven’t inadvertently said hurtful things to people in the past… and I’m sure I’ll say plenty of stupid things, and continue to screw up, and be flawed… but at the very least, I’m going to try and stick with the motto from my childhood about only saying nice things… (unless you make comments about my weight… and then I’ll just write about it on my blog.)

Adventures in Speed Dating

So, I went speed dating a couple of weeks ago. To be perfectly honest, I didn’t have any huge expectations from it; I was going more as a social experiment. I didn’t think I was going to find “The ONE” (though the testimonials all over the website tried to tell me otherwise) I wasn’t even really going to find a date, I was going for the overall experience. I’m somewhere on the introverted spectrum, and though I jokingly like to blame it on my years of home-schooling and conservative up-bringing, the truth is that I’m just wired that way. I do ok for myself in social situations, I’ve lived through years of networking events, and I’ve been able to put on my extroverted mask and make small talk with the best of them… But I’m always looking for ways to push myself out of my social comfort zone. Speed dating seemed like a somewhat entertaining way to put myself out there.   I had a number of quirky and off the wall questions formulating in the back of my brain, and felt confident that in five minutes time I could leave a fun and authentic first impression.

The "Program"

The “Program”

Though I understand that dating is mostly a solo undertaking, I would highly recommend using the buddy system when it comes to speed dating. You need a buffer to have a drink with before everything gets started, and someone to debrief with after the night is over. You also need someone to exchange meaningful glances with across the room when things have gone terribly awry… though come to think of it, my best friend and I never made eye contact, because I’m pretty sure we would have lost it. Also, we did not coordinate our outfits, but we both wore red Pea coats, so in retrospect it was pretty hilarious us walking into speed dating together in our matching uniforms.

You know that David after the Dentist video that went viral, and he is sitting in his car and the anesthesia hasn’t worn off yet and he asks “Is this real life?” That is exactly how I felt walking into the bar where speed dating was taking place. Firstly, it was at a 90’s bar… (yes, they exists) and we were handed our programs for the evening that look exactly like weekly church bulletins. We were ushered behind this ominous black curtain over to the Speed Dating section of bar, and are left to our own devices to mingle and get our bearings before the “event” started in ten minutes. Thankfully, it was happy hour, because after taking one look around the room it was pretty obvious that drinking was a necessary part of this activity.

Though I was trying to keep an open mind about what types of fella’s might be at a speed dating event for 23-37 year olds on a Saturday evening at a 90’s bar, I will say that upon surveying the men, it was EXACTLY what I expected.  I know I know, keep an open mind, don’t judge a book by its cover, don’t be a bitch… but really “IS THIS REAL LIFE?” was the thing that kept popping back into my head. It was a room full of IT types, Engineers etc. Thankfully I didn’t see any pocket protectors, but maybe I wasn’t looking close enough.  Oh well, I had my list of fun questions, I had my confidence, and I had a pretty decent $3 cocktail.

So the thing gets started and they make us do a little gather round in the corner of the bar, and our cruise director for the evening gives us some guidelines. Mostly, don’t come into these things expecting to find your soul mate, have fun, and men, don’t linger after the bell rings because you will just ruin it for everyone. Simple enough. We were each assigned a number, women stay seated at their designated spot while the men get up and rotate every 5 minutes. You have 30 seconds between each bell to jot down a few notes in your program, and circle yes or no, and you are onto the next person. Our event was FULL, but the people running the event apparently have this thing down to a science, and they realized that if we had to meet everyone our heads would literally explode or we would leave with a glazed over zombie look in our eyes, so they capped us at 18 dates. (Yeah, like our heads weren’t exploding after 18…) The bell rings, we head to our assigned seats, and the mayhem begins.

Well sort of. The mayhem begins for everyone else, and as the chit chat starts to flair up around me as everyone is delving into their awkward first encounter, I’m left at a table by myself. Um hello? I thought this event was full? Where is my person? Oh my god, my first date isn’t even going to show up… chit chat chit chat… WTF? Finally I see a guy lurking in the corner on his cell phone, and realize that my first “date” is going to spend the first 2 minutes of our 5 minute date chatting to someone else on the phone. Not that first impressions really matter when you only have 5 minutes, right? (Is this real life?) So finally he comes over, introduces himself as Zack, and gives me the weakest most flaccid handshake of all time. So now we are at minute 3 and we haven’t even said real words to each other yet, and I’m slightly annoyed and also weirded out. You can’t get off your phone and my dog gives a better hand shake than you… is this setting the tone for the rest of the evening? (keep an open mind, don’t judge a book by it’s cover, don’t be a bitch… but…) We exchanged the typical “What do you do? What did you study?” questions, we talked a little bit about traveling, but when he started to ramble on about how he just got back from Dubai, and how he pretty much hated it because when he went shopping he thought they would have some familiar chain stores, but they didn’t, and everything was pretty weird and pretty boring.

At this point in the evening, I realized that I was going to have to dig deep and try to find a semblance of a poker face, because this was only date one, I had only had half of a cocktail, and there were 17 more of these to go. Game on.

This is where things really started to get interesting, because at this point, now all the men were coming directly from table 6, (my best friend) to me, so I caught them in the awkward note taking moment. And though mostly I was scribbling my own notes like “worst handshake of all time, thinks Dubai is boring” I would occasionally get a 2 second preview of what each man thought of my friend… and while we certainly don’t really have the same taste in men I had several moments of like “well if you don’t like her, you are certainly not going to get along with me!”

Date number 2 was named Abdullah. He was 22 years old, from Saudi Arabia, was interested in banking, and thought that Portland was the greatest city ever. He also had a very weak handshake, and I quickly realized that I was going to have to start taking better notes, because “flaccid handshake” was clearly not going to be a stand out adjective for the men in this room. Le Sigh.

Next up was Sergio (the first of two Sergio’s on the program) Who came over to my table introduced himself as “Serg” and greeted me with yet another limp fish handshake. For reals, shaking hands shouldn’t be this uncomfortable… At this point I was actually starting to wonder if this was some sort of the speed dating secret hand shake and I just didn’t get the memo, but then I actually focus in on “Serg” and I realize that he is wearing a leather trench coat, has a very long pony tail. Ok… So I start to listen as he tells me that he is 23, LOVES living with his roommates, recently became a massage therapist, and enjoys making chainmaille jewelry on the side. He then asks me if I live alone or with roommates, or with my family, and I’m thinking that it is a terribly creepy question to ask at speed dating, so I casually mention my roommate “Toby” and then he starts in again about just how much he loves living with his roomates. Then, he asks me when my birthday is because he is “VERY into Astrology” In that moment all I could think was how thankful I was that I decided not to wear my Gemini necklace, and then I really had to focus on channeling that poker face… because IS THIS REAL LIFE?

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Real Life Notes: Keep in mind that I had 30 seconds to write these, and my hand writing is not normally this bad… 

The next few dates were not very memorable. All the men seemed kinda boring, pretty awkward, and no one really stood out. As the evening went on I begin to realize that these are not the type of men who are going to do well with quirky off the wall questions. I know this, because every last of the gentlemen that I met asked me some variation of the same three questions, 1) have you ever been speed dating before? 2) what do you do, 3) how long have you lived in the area…. As if any of these 3 things could tell you anything about my personality, as if any of these 3 things would leave a lasting impression. Though I’m sure some of the men probably jotted down “yoga teacher” in their notes, I was totally baffled by the fact that every guy on every date took the time to ask if I had ever been speed dating before. I mean I guess it is an icebreaker question, sort of… but honestly, you’ve got 5 minutes, and that is the one thing that you absolutely have to know about me? Clearly this was not going to be 2.5 hours of quick wit.

By this time, my drink is gone, I’ve received 8 flaccid handshakes in a row, and I amVERY ready for intermission. Date number 9 comes over, and emphatically circles NO for table #6. Well ok then, my bestie clearly left an impression… He sits down, and immediately he starts talking about how he started out as an English Professor but then he realized that he couldn’t make any money whatsoever being an English professor, so he went into the private sector to be a technical writer. Blah blah blah blah blah. He droned on and on and on about how he could never make any money teaching English and how much he hated it, and not once did he ask me what I did for a living or what I studied in school. (ahem, poetry major)  At this point, I know the poker face came off, I know my eyes glazed over, I know there was a little vein in my neck that started popping out a little bit. I’m sorry… but does anyone major in English because they are planning to graduate and make millions of dollars? Last time I checked, you majored in English because you were passionate about I, because you knew that writing was going to be a valuable skill no matter what career you ended up with, because you had an absolute love of literature. I mean sure, I guess if you went on to Law School after undergrad, or if you wrote some earth shattering book or had dreams of actually writing you might at some point think that you are going to be rich and famous… but if you are getting your PHD in English with the intent of becoming a professor, one can only hope that you aren’t doing so because you are planning on making a shit ton of money. And if you are… well… lets maybe do a reality check dude. I really wanted to smack him on the forehead, and ask why he majored in English in the first place if he was obsessed with making a quick buck,  and I considered telling him to stop being a condescending jack ass, but since we hadn’t talked about my degree in Poetry, I figured it might be a little overkill. Do not engage, its not worth it, this too shall pass. Our cruise director came around and reminded everyone that intermission was moments away, thank you Baby Jesus, because I had had more than my fill of Marshall the Technical Writer.

The bell rings, and I let out a huge sigh of relief, and start to plan my escape to the bar and to the restroom. Ten seconds go by and as I’m fishing for my wallet, Marshall rears his incredibly boring head, and says “well I guess I don’t have to leave!” and joyfully sits back down at my table. On the bright side, I must have been hiding my distain better than I thought, but on the not so bright side Marshall was back with no intention of leaving. I then quickly weighed my options, I couldn’t excused myself to the restroom, but also it was only half time, and if I was going to sit through 9 more dates, another cocktail wasn’t exactly optional. So I excused myself to the bar, but he decided to tag along… Somehow my 5 minute date with Marshall had extended into 12, and I was already emphatically circling NO in my mind, he attempted to order me a drink without even asking what I wanted, then told me there was no way I was going to get served at the bar ( “Oh trust me Marshall, I’m not leaving without a drink.”) and then he tried to slyly slip me his business card as he was fishing around for his wallet. He then blatantly asked me how old I was, and nearly spit out his drink when I told him I was 29. “Oh! That’s great, you look like you are 23!”   Ok, I imagine there will be a time in my not so distant future that I will be wishing people told me that I looked younger than am, or great for my age… But that time is not now. I don’t want to be mistaken for a 23 year old! I have nothing against 23 year olds… I used to be one… and I know some great ones… But also, 23 was a long time ago, a lifetime ago in terms of knowing what I wanted and who I am, in terms of priorities and careers… I have come a very long way since 23… and at this point in my life, I’d rather not be mistaken for a 23 year old… And the way in which he said it was not in the “oh you look great for your age” kind of way, but in the “oh you look like you just graduated from college and are really green an immature” kind of way. I mean sure, he was happy that I was older than I “looked” but the condescension in his tone… Ok Marshall, pretty sure it’s time for you to take your PHD and hop along.

Sitting back at table 7, I was a little disheartened to think that we were only half way through… and I never got to pee… and why do you want to know if I’ve been speed dating before? I don’t really remember the conversation with date #10… I do remember that he was wearing the largest, fuzziest sweater I’ve ever seen. And my only notes on him are “No. Sweater, Sweater, Sweater.”

Next up was the man from Nigeria. He had a very thick accent, and upon sitting down he repeatedly asked me how I got my “Tiths” so white. I was a little taken aback, because the first two times he said it, I could have sworn he was asking me something about my Tits, but once I figured out he was asking me about my teeth I still didn’t really know what to say. This did not seem like to moment to try to explain oil pulling, and why were we even talking about oral hygiene in the first place? He then told me that I had one and a half dimples, and then asked if I wanted to know which one was the full one and which one was the half… I don’t remember which is which.

In retrospect, maybe we were talking about something random like teeth because on his date with my friend, she tried to set him up for an informational interview with Abdullah, because apparently this gentleman was in banking, and she felt bad for Abdullah because he had no real experience and she thought the two of them should connect.   Yes, this IS real life.

Next up was a totally nice guy from Montana, and we mostly hit it off, but he tried to impress me by telling me he was a chef… and already I am skeptical… Ok, so you are a chef, and yet somehow you have time to go speed dating on a Saturday night? And granted, I might be just a little tiny bit jaded from my past experiences dating people in the culinary world, but he was very elusive about where he and though he didn’t disclose it on our date, he told my friend that he had a 4 year old. And kids don’t bother me, granted, I don’t want to birth one, but dating a guy with kids doesn’t freak me out… but I’ve already dated a chef with kids… And I’m looking for a different life experience. So, next.

There was the guy who said “Right on” after everything I said, the guy who came to speed dating all the time for “fun”, The psychologist with the dog, there was the man who was my only note was “gay?” And a man from India, who was even more overwhelmed than I was. I felt so bad for him as he came over to my table and sat down with this defeated look in his eye. He wouldn’t really make eye contact, and tried for a few minutes to form a question… but he just kept making statements about how overwhelming the whole experience was. One man made a comment that my ring looked like a shield… I was thinking “hopefully it protects me from this experience.”   Finally towards the end of the evening, I started to pull out my off the wall questions, just to change things up, just to make things interesting. And just as expected, none of them men really knew what to do with them… you wouldn’t think that “Yankees or Red Sox?” would be a panic inducing question, but you could see the fear “oh shit, she is asking me about sports… how do I answer this?” Clearly asking them what their walk-on song was, wasn’t really going to be an option, and none of them had ever even heard of Wes Anderson… One man mumbled the entire time, and I honestly have no idea what he said at all. I couldn’t tell if it was a tactic to get me to lean in, or if he was just not articulating.

I accidentally missed my last date… sort of. We were like 2.5 hours in, (and trying to do the math it shouldn’t have lasted that long! And yet, it was almost 10PM!) and I made an executive decision that going to the restroom was going to be more productive than one more five minute date. Mumbling man got up from the table, and I totally bolted. Do not look back, do not pass go, do not collect $200, go directly to the restroom and try not to think about the last 2.5 hours.   When I came back, there was no one at my table, and I relished a moment of quiet before a man came wandering over and said “oh sorry, I decided to go use the bathroom.” Whatever, he saw that I wasn’t at my table and then made that decision. We chatted for a moment, but apparently the bell rang before both of us got back, because looking around us the staff was starting to pick up chairs and people were still sort of chatting but it was mostly breaking up. “Ok, nice to meet you!”

My friend was chatting with the woman sitting next to her at the bar, and we all looked at each other and just shook our heads.   “Well… That was a thing we just did.” IS THIS REAL LIFE?

I did end up having 1 match from the evening. And we went on one date… which is another blog post all together. My friend and I actually had the same “maybe” and we both debated for a few days if we should match him, or just cut our losses. We secretly thought it would be hilarious if we just went out on a triple date or if we had back to back dates at the same place… neither of which happened… Overall, I’m glad that I went, but I don’t think I’ll be going on any more speed dating adventures in the near future. I went I saw, I wrote… and afterwards all I could think about was this hand-written card that my grandmother sent me when I was a Freshman in college “Look out for all the jerks and weirdos out there.” Indeed, grandma. Indeed.

A little bit of vulnerable

Last week I had one of those lonely-hearted moments. You know the ones that totally sneak up on you in a kind of blind-sighting way and leave you feeling exposed and sad and a little bit ridiculous all at the same time?They don’t happen to me very often, and so when they do I tend to get a little overwhelmed… My entire adult life, I’ve been a fiercely independent, introverted soul, so when I occasionally have those vulnerable moments of lonely-heartedness it always takes me by surprise.

Let me just give you a little back-story.

I have never been one of those women whose soul mission in life is to settle down, get married and live happily ever after. The sticky sweet fairy tale ending has never really appealed to me (unless of course it’s the  Rodgers and Hammerstein version of Cinderella featuring Brandy… because that speaks to everyone.) Sure, I went through a phase somewhere in middle-teen-hood where I planned out my dream wedding (to Han Solo, duh.) But I’ve never really held onto any romantic notions of dating, marriage, relationships… Sure, I would like to be in one… I would maybe even like to be married someday, but I’ve never really understood the women who are clearly on that mission to find “the one.”   A few years ago I was taking a trip with some girlfriends, and I picked up a novel in the airport to read on the plane. One chapter in and my mind was totally blown, this book was on the best seller list, and one of the main characters was a high powered lawyer who quit her job so she could date full time. One of the other women was so terrified of being alone, that she agreed to marry a man she didn’t love and then was too chicken to cancel the wedding, so she decided they should get married in Iceland so no one she really cared about would see her marry this man she didn’t love. HOW IS THIS A REAL BOOK THAT REAL PEOPLE READ???? Ok, I did read the whole thing, because I was hoping that maybe eventually it would have some sort of ah-ha moment where the women realize that they are ridiculous, and then one of the married women sleeps with a male prostitute in South America, and I gave up all hope.  (I’m pretty sure I’ve blogged about my outrage of this book before… ) But the whole book just left me feeling really dis-enchanted… And here is the truly terrifying thing… there are probably actually women out there who are like this!  Needless to say, my life is pretty much the antithesis of this. Call me crazy, but I’ve always lived with the belief that if you live your life authentically and passionately, everything else is just going to kind of fall into place. And so 99.9% of the time it doesn’t bother me that most of my college friends are married, that I am approaching 30 and chronically single… because I’m living a life that I love, and I fill it with things that I love.   When people read my tattoo that says “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” and ask “well?” I usually say things like (and almost always get blank stares or awkward laughter)  “write, have a bulldog, garden, teach yoga…thrive…”

Last week I was feeling overstimulated… I had family in town visiting, was working a few extra shifts, and was eating out a lot, trying to catch up with friends, prepping my house for a new roommate… the anxiety was building, and all I wanted all week was a night in with a home-cooked meal. I wanted to dance around my kitchen, sit on the patio and eat by candle-light, and absolutely revel in my aloneness. I didn’t want any distractions or interruptions, I didn’t want conversations or company, I just wanted my solitude…. that is until about 10 minutes into cooking dinner, and that is when it just came welling over me. And in that moment, all I wanted was for another person to be there… not just any person but THE person… I wanted us to awkwardly be in each other’s way as we made dinner… to talk about our day, I wanted to sit on the porch listening to bluegrass music and talk about what to plant in the garden next year, wanted to exchange meaningful glances while having a glass of wine as he did the dishes… I wanted countless little insignificant moments. I wanted to have someone to share my life with and build a future with.  BAM. How’s that for blind-sighted?  Introverted re-charge turned hyper-sensitive heart ache in 2.5 seconds.  And I hate it when these moments sneak up on me, and it goes back to the whole “well you have your life together, and you shouldn’t feel this way! You can have it all” mentality. I keep thinking that I shouldn’t feel this way, that I shouldn’t be lonely, that I shouldn’t be filled with longing for a person to build my life with…It seems to go against the whole “I’ve got my life together and I’m fabulous” anthem that so many powerful and confident women have… but you know what? Even though I hate having these moments of heart-ache and fear and vulnerability… I also welcome them to some extent, because it means that I’m not afraid to be open.

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Dinner for one (well you know, dinner for one with some left-overs)

Sometimes I worry that I’ve spent so much time cultivating this life that I love, that I forgot to leave room for my future. Because when you are a young, single, independent woman, everyone tells you that you can do anything, that you should cherish these moments, that you are strong and beautiful, and charismatic and that the world is your oyster, and that you don’t need a man or anyone else to be complete. They tell you this over and over and over, and you being to cling to it like a mantra, like a beacon of all that is good, until one day you realize that  you were so busy thinking about what kind of independent life you wanted, how all you needed to be happy in life is a Bulldog and to write,  that somewhere along the line you forgot to think about things like “I want to be somebody’s wife someday.” And maybe it just goes without saying that this is what “normal” people think about… that there is this underlying unspoken expectation that you grow up, get educated, fall in love, and start your life with someone. Maybe at some point I just figured this was a given, and that I didn’t actually need to plan for it… and yet I am such a huge believer in Intention, it kind of baffles my mind that I haven’t spent the last several years putting this intention out into the Universe. Because realizing that you want to build a life with someone meaningful is not the same as quitting your job to date full time. Realizing what you want your future to look like is not being a ridiculous romanced crazed single…  And maybe I’m just a late bloomer (well ok, there are no maybe’s about it…) because I’ve known those people who instinctively have known their whole lives that they want to be mothers, or wives, or whatever… and that has never been me… I mean I’m not opposed to the idea of either (though I don’t think I will personally grow a human, I reserve the right to change my mind) but I haven’t spent the last 29 years knowing that that is what I was destined for. I HAVE known for that long that I wanted a bulldog named Toby, that I wanted to have a love-affair with writing, and that I wanted to get dirt under my fingernails.  And quite honestly, I am still years away from being ready to be married (at least in the conventional sense), but every now and then I have that twinge of wanting to share the everyday with someone.

And of course everyone (the proverbial everyone) says that it will happen when you least expect it, when you aren’t looking for it, and yet the “proverbial they” still think I need to try online dating… and maybe I am dead wrong, but I just don’t think I’m going to find MY person on the interwebs… There is still the tiny part of my soul that wants the meet cute scenario, and a real life story rather than “Well we were a 86% match.” Sure, I’m all about being with someone who shares my passions and interests… but I’m also holding out for that moment in a coffee shop/ famer’s market/ winebar where he sees me reading Steinbeck/ buying peppers/ being flippantly sarcastic and thinks “I’ve got to get to know her”   Because isn’t that a nice and wonderful idea?  That someone out there saw you and thought “hmmm my interest is piqued. I think she is worth the effort of getting to know”   And… really, I don’t know why I cling to this particular dream, since  literally every single guy who has piqued my personal interest in the last 15 years and who I’ve actually had enough courage and gumption to ask out has either said nothing at all (hello, this is a check yes or no situation, no response??? that is a thing? Oh it’s a thing…) , or said yes, but then canceled, or changed his mind, or never followed through… And most of the time I can cling to my self assured independent and confident self… but there are the occasional raw  moments when I’m taken aback by the loneliness and can’t help but think “but at what point  did I become un-datable?” I mean, I don’t really think that I’m un-datable… I can make pickles, and I like baseball, and I’m a yoga teacher… some guy, somewhere is going to be into that!  And I also have to quickly remind myself that  dating is actually THE worst, so there is that… but it’s a little hard to just fall into a relationship without the dating part. Which is really really unfortunate. Because I’m great at the relationship part. I love the comfortable everyday moments, the trips to the grocery store, the reminiscing, the meaningful conversations, time spend walking the dog and holding hands, and curled up next to each other reading, and staying up too late talking…the ins and outs of  living everyday life. That is what I’m good at. But what I’m not  so great at is everything preceding that. I’m absolutely terrible at the small talk and the weird obligatory getting to know you questions of first date land…  “what kind of music do you like?” and “how many siblings do you have?” and then I get awkward and nervous, and the once cool, confident and interesting person retreats behind this muttering, bumbling version of myself…
It get's awkward real fast

It get’s awkward real fast

Take Today, for example. I asked a guy out for drinks a few weeks ago, with no expectations, just getting to know each other… New Friendship? More than that? Who knows! I just had this inkling of “I think you are interesting and want to explore that.” So I asked him out for drinks.   He actually said yes, and asked what my schedule was like, and I told him… and then nothing. Which was fine, because he is busy, and I am busy… So I waited a few days, and followed up, and when I bumped into him last week he apologized for not getting back to me and said he would give me a call soon. Perfect, I’m not worried about it! So flash forward to today, when I ran into him I had every opportunity to be confident, to be direct to say “hey! I know you are really busy, BUT let’s make this happen. Are you free  to grab a drink tonight?”  and I had this whole cool and casual attitude happening, and what did I do? I saw him talking with another girl, so I  barely made eye contact, and ordered the usual, and ran away as fast as humanly possible… there was no mention of our future plans, of getting together, or really even that we knew each other… my mind ran wild with the assumptions about who she was, and what it meant, and I totally choked. Insert social awkwardness and anxiety…What is wrong with me? What happened to the confidence and the “you have nothing to lose” attitude?  (oh yeah… awkwardolive… comes with the territory.)  Because Dating makes me NERVOUS, it accentuates my awkwardness in a very specific and not always endearing way (because I will forever cling to the idea that a little bit of awkwardness is somewhat charming). And then I just get mad at myself… because even in this situation, I’m making assumptions. Maybe I’m jumping to conclusions, Maybe he is interested and just busy… or maybe he isn’t but just want to be friends so obviously he isn’t in a hurry to call me back… maybe he isn’t actually available…Or maybe he is just weirded out because now I’m being weird. OR maybe nothing, and I’m overthinking everything.  (or maybe he will read this post and think I’m nuts… what can you do?) It’s unclear if there is any reciprocal interest other than friendship, and that could very well be OK with me, because I’m always wanting to expand my horizons, to meet new people, to make new friends.  But it seems like I am incapable of even getting to the point of figuring that out without totally tripping all over myself.

And every single person I know says “well you just need more practice.” and then I look at them somewhat blankly, and somewhat with a “really? is that what I need?” look, because here is the thing, YOU CANNOT PRACTICE DATING IF NO ONE WILL AGREE TO GO OUT WITH YOU. I’m just saying, that seems like, pretty obvious right?  This is my plight… but I’m working on it.

And in-spite of my track record, my ever awkward encounters, and my complete lack of successful dating stories… I’m still optimistic enough to think that any minute now, my “meet cute” is going to happen.  And maybe it’s naive, and I’m sure as a result I’m going to have many more moments where the loneliness sneaks up on me, where the heartache creeps in, moment’s where I’m going to long to share the everyday encounters with a non-existent partner… but I’ll also have those wildly authentic moments where I”m not worried about impressing anyone, or rejection or really anything besides living a life that I love… and hopefully one day I’ll be able to share it with someone else. In the meantime I’m going to have many more dinner’s for one and glasses of wine shared with a bulldog, and I’m going to be open.

Let’s just take a moment to talk about body image…

 

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Lets just take a moment to talk about body image… Because it’s something that resonates with everyone… Even if it’s not something that you personally struggle with, you probably know someone who does… These days there are movements and initiatives, foundations and the works all about building self-esteem in young girls and empowering the next generation. There is constant controversy about how the media is portraying  beauty ideals and promoting a warped view to young girls… And whether we went through a chubby stage in middle school (check), gained the freshman 15 (check), or have watched our bodies change with age (check) its a topic that dances in and out of conversation, and has lingering effects.  Full disclosure, I gained about 12 pounds last year, and I could write several excuses about how I was working in a restaurant, how a broken toe f’ed up my running routine, how I have no self control when it comes to things like Chantilly cream and full fat dairy, but the truth of the matter is, I made the choices that I made, and I’m in the body that I’m in, and I’m totally ok with that. Was I more comfortable in my body 12 pounds ago? Probably. Am I spending countless moments throughout my day fretting about my size and how my clothes fit and how I look? No.  Because 12 pounds isn’t worth the negativity. I simply think “this is where I am today, and I’m going to make choices accordingly.” When I look in the mirror every morning I see myself, just the way I am, and sure, I have those fleeting thoughts of  “I should go for a run” or “I need to move my person a little bit more” because everyone has those thoughts from time to time, but I think the important thing is to recognize them without dwelling on them.

I’m not going to sit here and tell you that having a positive body image is something that I’ve struggled with for years and years, because really, I haven’t. I’ve always been comfortable with who I am, and how I look… and yes I have fat days, and bad hair days just like everyone else. I have days where I wish I had less cellulite and better abs. I have moments of being unhappy with my body, but they are just that, moments.  They aren’t something that hinder my self-esteem, they don’t affect how I live my life, how I see myself… and I realize that I am incredibly lucky in this regard. ( I have other hang ups, its ok).

I DID go through a pudgy phase when I was younger… (didn’t everyone?) I don’t remember ever feeling like a fat kid, though I do remember my mother encouraging me to go outside more and maybe jump on the trampoline… And I vividly remember a few years later when  my pediatrician came up to my mom and said “wow, Tayler was so beautiful in the recital! I remember her being kind of chunky!”  I of course also gained some weight when I went to college, and have this somewhat horrific memory of coming home for Christmas and one of my “friends” actually pinched my cheeks and loudly announced “Look at these! I’m so glad you are getting fat like the rest of us!” Can I just say that sometimes girls are the worst? I mean the worst.   And the older I’m getting the more I’m realizing that there seem to be two types of insecure women… the type that put others down because they are insecure, or the type that put themselves down. And really, both make me so sad.  Now that I’m in my late 20’s I can look back on adolescence and of course recognize the mean girl mentality, the bullies who were constantly spewing negativity about other people  because they were struggling to feel good about themselves… But when you are in the thick of it, when the negativity is coming your way, and you are 14 its almost impossible to be objective and say “well really, she is just insecure, so she is trying to make me feel bad.”

But, what I have discovered recently, is that women of a certain age are almost as bad as middle-schoolers, only they take all that negativity and insecurity and turn it right back on themselves. I can’t even tell you how many women I come across who are a size 4 and have hangups about their arms, or think they look too fat in something and then turn to me and say “you don’t have these problems, you are tiny.” and I’m thinking “Well thank you, but I’m actually 3 sizes larger than you, and my arms are like 6 of yours put together…”  And then you have the mothers who are looking in the mirror who are verbally berating themselves, saying how fat they look, how they hate their legs or whatever, as their daughters sit there observing their behavior. And it’s interesting because it seems like these days there are so many movement about building self esteem in young girls, programs that are trying to teach you that uniqueness is beautiful, that individuality should be celebrated, that curves are ok, and I think that these programs are great, but there is a part of me that wonders if maybe we also need these types of programs for our Mother’s generation. Maybe we need to be helping the women who have been dealing with years and years of negative body image see themselves in a different light.

So now I have to tell a story that is going to horrify my mother… (its ok, she has been warned… Also, she is my mom, and we love each other, so there is that. )  Last week she was in shopping at the boutique and one of my bosses was there, as was my best friend.  My mom was asking an opinion about a shirt she was trying on, and we started to tell her how we had just been talking about body image, and how we really thought that women should be celebrating their curves and dressing the bodies that they have, and not the bodies that they wish they had, or the bodies that they think they have… working in a clothing boutique this is something that we see everyday… and my mom was like “Really?” and we told her “Well, we want you to be wearing something that you feel good in, and that also looks good on you, so if it’s something that just doesn’t work, we will tell you.”  And then we were talking about curves and body shapes and dressing them, and I said in passing “yes, I have curves, and I’m not self-conscious about them, I kind of have a belly and its fine! ” and then I stuck out my stomach for full emphasis… and without missing a beat my mother was like “Yeah I KNOW you do, I see it all over the place.” … OK MOM!

The moment was a little shocking, my boss was totally taken aback, and my mom did follow up with something about how I think she doesn’t have a filter… (case in point… I’m at a fairly new job, and she just made a comment about my belly fat in front of my boss and my best friend while I’m working… yeah, there is NO filter) And the thing is, I wasn’t upset, I wasn’t mad, I wasn’t embarrassed… I was sad. Not because of the offhanded comment,  but because I was sitting there witnessing my mother subconsciously succumb to the mean girl mentality. I could feel her trying on this top and not feeling 100% great in her body and there was a group of us, and without meaning to and without being aware of it she took all that insecurity and directed it at me. She put me down around my peers. We talked about it later and I totally called her out on it, and we had a good conversation, she felt terrible, she wasn’t trying to be mean, and legitimately we are fine… I’m not telling this story to embarrass my mom, or to make her out to be a bad mother, she isn’t. She is human, and she has her hang ups just like everyone else. And though it would be nice if those hang-ups didn’t manifest at my place of work, I did also realize that, as a mother, she was feeling insecure and in an back-handed way she was trying to be helpful. Like when she corrects my posture… because she wants me to learn from her mistakes… She sees things in herself that she doesn’t like, and so she points them out in me, not to be hurtful or a pain in the ass, but because she wants what is best for me. She wants  me to happy and healthy… and sometimes it comes out completely wrong. Sometimes it drives me absolutely crazy, but I do know that it comes from a place of love… And at the end of the day, I’m very familiar with intentions being lost in translation…

If anything, the whole situation made me appreciate my mom, and my upbringing. I can only imagine how her life was 60 years ago.. growing up I was told I could be whatever I wanted to be (ok, ok I was told once that I probably shouldn’t be an artist… in retrospect, that was probably very good advice.) I was allowed to do activities that I liked, I was allowed to develop my own interests, I was uplifted and supported and loved… not to say that my mother wasn’t, but our upbringings were VERY different. Being in Generation Y my entire childhood  was pretty much a self-esteem building exercise, I was allowed to make my own choices, make my own mistakes, and become my own person without any preconceived notions. And as a result, I don’t seem to have any of my mother’s hang-ups  (as I said, I have plenty of my own!)

I guess in a way, this blog post is a Thank You to my Mom.  She has her moments, for sure, but overall, I think I turned out the way that I did because of her, and not despite of her… Thank you for raising me to be comfortable in my own skin. Thank you for not passing along any of your hang ups, and for wanting what is best for me always, and Thank you for putting up with me and letting me tell stories about you on my blog.

And to all you ladies out there who ARE struggling with body image, I hope you can take a moment to just settle into your own skin, even if it’s just a moment.  Celebrate your curves (or lack of them) appreciate where you are right now, and give yourself permission to not dwell on your flaws.

Lucky Charms Ice Cream, Hints of Nostalgia, and Moments of Vulnerability

Somewhere around this time last year I met a dear childhood friend for some ice cream in Portland. Specifically, the Pots of Gold and Rainbows flavor at Salt & Straw. For you Lucky Charms fans out there, March is a dream come true in Portland, because this flavor is like biting into nostalgia.

As a child, sugary cereal was not really a staple in our house. We were more of a Rice Crispy, Crunchy Oat Bran, Crispix kind of family…. On a very rare occasion Cinnamon Toast Crunch was thrown into the mix, but it wasn’t very often that anything resembling Lucky Charms made its way into the pantry. I vividly remember spending one day after breakfast in my play room under the stairs writing in my diary about how when I grew up I was going to let my kids eat sugary cereal… which now makes me laugh. A lot…  A) Who writes that kind of stuff in a diary?  B) lord knows if I even have kids I will not feed them sugary cereal because I cherish my own sanity too much… and because I will  probably hoard it all for myself …

Minus the dramatic journal entry, I don’t remember sugary cereal or lack thereof being a big deal, but maybe it was, because once when I was in middle school my grandmother got me a box of Lucky Charms for Christmas, and it was kind of amazing! I mean who doesn’t want their own special box of cereal? The next year I was so excited as I ripped open the cereal shaped box, only to discover instead of the treasured Lucky Charms, a box of Fruit Loops (gross), as my grandmother only remembered that I like the cereal in the red box. For the next several years, I always managed to get a box of Fruit Loops for Christmas….  It was an amazing gesture on her part, and of course no one had the heart to tell her that I actually hated Fruit Loops/ that she got the wrong sugar packed breakfast item.

Last year, as my friend and I  sat in Salt and Straw savoring the tiny marshmallow speckled ice cream, we reminisced about our childhood ( Once I went with her family down to Utah to go hiking and camping, and whatnot, and our back seat car snack was a box of  Lucky Charms. It. Was. Epic. In that on a trip without your own parents, pre-teen, indulging on sugared cereal kind of way).  We talked about the new job I had just started,  unemployment battles,  how sometimes being a grown up can really suck, being in debt, adventures we were planning, and of course about how amazing the ice cream was.

Flash forward almost a year. Last Saturday I’m sitting at work, on my break and talking to a co-worker about his new relationship. He had that excited smile, a slight wistfulness in his eyes as he was telling me about the last few days and dates with this girl. He then stopped and asked me what was new in my life, and with that same excited smile and wistful look I said “I’m going to get Lucky Charms Ice cream this week at Salt & Straw.”  His eye roll let me know how pathetic my news sounded compared to his, but whatever… I say relish the small things!

Monday rolled around and I was already planning out my ice cream route. I packed a cooler with ice,  went to do a barre workout, and then drove the rest of the way into Portland with the sole goal of  indulging in ice cream.  I was pretty much dressed like a yoga fisherwoman… bright red rain boots, brown yoga pants, my trusty Jacobsen Salt hoodie, black down vest… I hadn’t showered, no makeup, post workout hot-mess… and of course it was one of those weird in-between rain moments where the sun is shining and its all humid and warm, and you know the only reason the sun is out at all is because you are traipsing around town in your rain boots.

Arbequina olive oil ice cream, Lucky Charms Ice Cream, and a waffle cone

Arbequina olive oil ice cream, Lucky Charms Ice Cream, and a waffle cone

I purchased my ice cream, and sat down for a moments to savor the marshmallowy goodness (lets face it, I also got Arbequina Olive Oil Ice Cream… I can’t go to Salt & Straw and not get it… even now years later, I still have such a huge sense of ownership over it, remembering sitting down with them before they even had a shop, talking about the possibilities of making an olive oil flavor. Way back before it was a staple there, before Oprah named it as one of her favorite flavors, it was just me and my boss and the main ice cream guy sitting in a room with a bottle of olive oil, talking about potential.)  As I was enjoying the ice cream (which was naturally, extra delicious after a workout) I was catching up on social media, scanning my e-mails, and doing a little light reading. I took the opportunity to read a blog post by one of my super talented friends about being nostalgic for her life working at a nearby restaurant.  I finished my ice cream, loaded up my cooler with a few pints to take home, got into the driver seat of my car, and unexpectedly burst into tears.

It took me a moment to even wrap my head around the situation… where was this upwelling of emotion coming from? Why was I suddenly feeling this overwhelming sense of vulnerability?  And I realized that sitting in that particular ice cream shop thinking about my old job, my experiences over the past year, and reading that particular blog post had me feeling slightly nostalgic.  And the more I cried behind my sunglasses, the more I realized that I had actually been subconsciously prepping myself for a run-in with my ex boyfriend. This revelation hit me pretty hard. What? Where did that come from? And the longer I let that marinate, the more I realized that I wasn’t quite sure if I was crying from all the suppressed and sub-conscious emotion or if I was crying because I hadn’t actually run into him.  Ugh. Which of course just lead to me being really really angry with myself , and the countless of thoughts of  “but I’m over this!”  Overall, sitting in my car next to a cooler of  Lucky Charms ice cream with tears streaming down my face, and emotions welling up from a million different directions was not how I was picturing spending my Monday. And it felt a little pathetic.

And then I decided to give myself a break. Life is so full of unexpected moments, and some of them are amazing, and some of them leave you feeling like you got hit by a bus… but I am trying to embrace those moments of vulnerability, rather than putting up a wall and trying to dam up my feelings.  Because it wasn’t just one thing. It was remembering where I was a year ago, it was thinking about nasty unemployment hearings, and starting a new job, and being lonely, and filling emotional holes with ice cream. It was realizing that just last week my old boss invited me to sit down and have a glass of wine and wanted to catch up about my life. It was finally dealing with a volatile yoga client who made me feel un-safe, and standing up for myself at work, and hormones, and stress, and reading that blog and remembering that I actually met my friend and my ex at the same event, and being so thankful that I gained a friend from that situation,  and yes it was partially about him, and being two blocks away from his place, knowing that it was his day off, and that running into him on the street as I was dressed like a sweaty yoga fisherwoman was a real possibility. But it was also a accumulation of all the other things, And so I just let myself feel it. Being vulnerable is hard, and taking a moment to acknowledge your feelings and observe where they stem from isn’t always easy, but I think that so much personal growth, and other amazing things can stem from these moments.  Closing yourself off from vulnerability can mean closing yourself off from potential…And being nostalgic can be a good thing. It can be nice to remember things from your past, even if they aren’t things you are choosing for your future.

So I drove home, still feeling slightly ridiculous, but also feeling relieved. Relieved that I am the type of person who isn’t completely shut of from my emotions. Relieved that I can still be shaken by random moments of vulnerability, and that I can laugh at them afterwards, and really really relieved that Salt & Straw make pints of ice cream to go.

Pints to go

Pints to go

Pots of Gold and Rainbows

Pots of Gold and Rainbows