Untitled Poem, Since it is #nationalpoetryday

Everyday we have a choice

To approach things with grace, understanding…

the expectation of hope…

I often invite my students to either rest their palms up

A sign of receptivity… of openness

(To what? That is up to them.)

or with their palms facing down,

a sign of letting go.

I ask them to focus

to breathe…

and then we move onto what is next.

 

I’m beginning to wonder

if perhaps,

it is time for me to look at our relationship

and let my palms rest downward

letting go of expectations

and settling into where we are now

(which is where exactly?

I can’t quite find it on a map,

but it is starting to feel like a place I know called contempt)

 

And how did we get here

This awkward unknown that is hovering

–palpable in the air like pollen or humidity–

Generic answers where there used to be genuine interest

Self-absorption where there used to be curiosity

 

I look over at you

standing next to me, and I realize

I’d rather be here with anyone else.

Resting my palms down

and wondering

​​what is next?

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.

 

 

because it’s April, and springtime, and a Wednesday… and don’t we all just need a poem today?

I got a text message from a good friend yesterday asking me about my blog… Every excuse about why I’m not writing more sounds a little contrived, a bit shallow… because everyone is busy, everyone has meetings and book clubs, and piles of laundry, gardens to tend, plans to make, people to see. And the only real answer I can give is that sometimes, when you are out living life, it’s challenging to slow down enough to write about it. But, that doesn’t mean I’m not thinking about it… there is pretty much a constant dialog in my head, ideas, recipes, snippets of life, anecdotes about the dog, photos from countless restaurants. This, like everything else, is a work in progress.

And because it is Poetry Month, and because it is yoga day, and just because… here is this.
~~~~~~~~

This morning as I was heading to the shower I started to think about what sort of conversation I wanted to have today in my yoga class. I like to think of my classes as conversations more than anything else… because no matter what I plan in advance, I always come in and ask my students how they are feeling, what they want to work on, and we start the conversation there, and what develops each week is a little different. As I spent the first few moments in the shower trying to wake up and embrace the day, I was thinking a lot about feeling grounded, and as I let the ideas of balance and rootedness marinate in my pre-coffee brain I couldn’t help but think about Vrksasana. (tree pose)  In that moment I started mentally reciting a few lines from a poem I wrote several years ago when I was applying to graduate school, and then re-wrote a few years later when I re-applied to graduate school… And there is was, my class, my conversation.

Of course, I was almost late to class, because when I went to find the poem I realized it was saved on my external hard drive, and as I pulled up to the studio there was a gathering of students waiting outside the door.  And these amazing students of mine, were chatting in the sunshine, waiting patiently as I frantically waved at them as I circled the block trying to find a parking spot, and as I ran up to the door I told them this was all part of my class plan, spending a little time in nature, embracing the springtime, finding our breath. They all laughed as we filed into the studio, and I made a full confession… “I’m running late because of a poem… but it’s for you, because it’s April, and springtime, and a Wednesday… and don’t we all just need a poem today?” and really, I think all of them did.

And so we settled into class, talking about being grounded, about finding balance in our lives, in our bodies. We talked of trees and how their toes dig deep into the earth, how they stay grounded through so much change, season after season. We laid on our backs and felt the support of the mat beneath our spines and we visited our first tree pose of the day. I watched as they firmly flexed their feet, pressing them into nothingness, watched as their shoulders slid into alignment, encouraged them to engage every muscle, activate their core strength, and from this very supported place, to create a muscle memory. To feel the length in the spine, the support, and to grow from there.

We moved towards standing, played with balance, played with strength… then we warmed up our feet, talked about our roots and tried it all again… this time with a little more confidence, a little more stability, feet feeling alive, bodies feeling warm… I asked them to turn to face the wall, so they could shut out distractions, and we settled back into tree. “Listen to your bodies here” I said, “remember how this felt  when we were on the mat, engage that muscle memory.”.  And then I had them turn around, because in life there are always going to be distractions dancing in your peripheral vision. Because that is how life works, and the challenge is being able to stay rooted enough through it all. And you know what? We wobbled a little bit more this way… but we were just being authentic… because even the tallest and strongest trees sway in the breeze. And what more can we ask from ourselves than to be authentic?

From here, we gathered in the center of the room, for the pose we had been building towards… standing in a circle, touching hands, relying on our neighbors for strength and for support we traveled through our final version of tree pose. Allowing our arms to reach up over head, hands pressed into our neighbors, branches growing toward the sky, our own little oak grove.  And I loved standing in that circle, watching the students laugh, watching them come out of their comfort zones, leaving behind fear, and blossoming into a cohesive group. Supporting each other, growing together… And they all got it… THIS is what our conversation is about today. This right here…

And as they settled into Savasana, as they began to embrace a different kind of groundedness, as they surrendered all of their thoughts and hang ups, as they gave themselves a few precious moments to let it all go, and to absorb all the benefits of our class, as they let our conversation resonate, I finally read for them my poem. The poem that started our conversation.
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I knew that I liked the earth–dark brown and rich with life–

but I didn’t know that I loved it

until I bit into a carrot, freshly harvested,

the taste of soil still lingering

This is the flavor of life.

 

I knew that I liked falling asleep next to you

feeling your chest rise and fall with the rhythm of your breath

listening to your heart as I drifted off…

But I didn’t know I loved waking up in your arms

until our first night apart… the bitter sweetness of solitude.

 

I used to be impartial to the wind,

until I heard it whispering through the aspen trees

and suddenly I was home.

 

I always knew I loved trees and their quiet strength,

but I didn’t understand it until I started practicing Vrksasana,

and the strength of the tree, the rootedness,

became my own.

 

I just remembered the rain

walking with you, hand in hand down the busy street

the darkened asphalt peaking out beneath the bright

fallen leaves. Flashes of crimson and saffron, the wildest orange

the wet slick grey… we were happiest then,

in the autumn, falling in love on our way to the grocery store.

 

I knew I loved the sun, being solstice born,

we are kindred, forever…

but I forgot I loved the moon,

I didn’t appreciate its constant pull on my heartstrings

until the first night in the new house, I saw the moon rise over the garden,

her beams reaching around my curtains

and flooding into my bedroom in translucent waves…

how can anyone not be inspired by a moonrise over the garden?

My nocturnal muse.

 

I knew I liked the color red

and then I saw the wild bergamot

reaching its crimson petaled fingers towards the blue sky

and I fell in love

with the color

and the moment…

sitting under the olive tree sucking the nectar from the flowery digits.

 

And stillness… how could I not love it?

though I never gave it much thought

the utter content in the quiet

being left alone with nothing but breath

the inhales and the exhales.

 

I knew that I loved lists

tangible or mental

a glimpse of organization

in my ever-chaotic existence.

Perhaps –if I sit here with my thoughts–

this list of loves will become the world.

 

 

 

Bergamot

How did we get from “Reflection, post-holiday let down, introverted recovery and magic” to here?

If you are anything like me, the week between Christmas and New Years is always a mixture of reflection, post-holiday let down, introverted recovery, and yes a little magic.  I know, its a lot of things to be feeling and wrapping one’s head around in a short amount of time, but I think a little dose of bi-polar emotions come with the territory.

I’ve never been in a relationship over Christmas, so I don’t really get the woe is me singleton holiday stuff…It’s the whole ignorance is bliss and I don’t know what I’m missing situation.  But I do often wonder how a significant other might fit into the rigamarole of the holidays. Since my brother spends every other Christmas with his wife’s family, I am in the business of forging my own traditions with my parents that involve fancy French dinners, Christmas morning hot tub parties with mimosas, jigsaw puzzles, classic children’s books and hot buttered rum (and sometimes tequila shots. Sometimes) And in the midst of all the eating and the drinking, and the puzzling, I sometimes start to wonder “how will another person fit into all of this?” And the answer to that rhetorical question is “flawlessly” because who wouldn’t want to partake in a Christmas morning mimosa hot tub party? (if you just answered “well, I wouldn’t” we probably aren’t soul mates… sorry.)   And then after I have this conversation with myself I start to wonder if my chronic singleness has maybe left me with an unrealistic ideal of who is actually still out there? (Per my friend’s mother, if we don’t get online immediately ALL the men are going to be gone.)  I mean, I’m not exactly a hopeless romantic… but I think sometimes people easily confuse women with high standards, who are confident and know what they are looking for in a partner, with women who are delusional and way too picky with expectations that can never be met… It’s a fine line people, and although I’m pretty sure I’m on the high standards side of things, I do have a few moments when I start to think  “well am I just being too picky?”

And then I realized that regardless of what my perfect daydream ideals are for my future partner in crime/ life/ shenanigans  in reality, it all boils down to Chemistry.  (For the record those daydream ideals involve a guy who is willing to fly across the country to spend my 30th birthday with me eating hot dogs at Fenway park, who is going to help me build a compost bin, and who is equally if not more excited by the fact that I’m planning on planting an entire raised bed of Padron peppers in the back yard. He is also the type of guy who will occasionally take a yoga class with me on Sunday mornings, and though he will not be invited to book club meetings, unless we are hosting and he is making appetizers, he will definitely appreciate the fact that sometimes I have to stop and read him a sentence I just underlined and just swoon over the language…But I digress.) I’m enough of a realist to understand that I might not find exactly all of these qualities in one human man, and its not like I’m going to throw down any ultimatums of “Its Fenway Park or its over” Because, if I’m ever that girl, well then TERROR… and I am totally open to the potential of falling head over heels for someone who doesn’t really care for baseball or gardening or making appetizers for my book club… because like I said, its all about the Chemistry. Chemistry with a capitol C. And though it might be a little unrealistic for me to be holding out for a bulldog tolerating, Red sox loving, yoga doing gardener, I’m not going to settle for anything less than fireworks.

I know… you are probably thinking, how did we get from “Reflection, post-holiday let down, introverted recovery and magic to here?”  (welcome to the inner workings of my mind… grab a map, you might need it) Well, in short, because magic. Because regardless of how many bad dates I go on, how many holidays I spend forging traditions for one, this time of year always reminds me that magic is possible. That epic love stories do exist, that the best lives belong to the quirky and interesting independent souls who are out there doing their own thing. And though I am ending 2014 just as alone as I started it, I’m still everly optimistic that there is an awkward pimento out there to be my counterpart. And in the meantime, I’ve got a bulldog little spoon, a back yard full of garden potential, some amazing friends, and a life that is going to be abundantly full of adventure (and awkwardness).

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.

Taking a moment to re-charge

This week thanks to the joys of social media,  I stumbled across a “Hipster Business Name Generator” Let me tell you, if you are looking for a procrastination project, it’s pretty great. I only bring this up, because there are moments, like right now, that I wish there was a random “First part of a blog post generator” that would spit out some creative and amazing start to each post that you could then effortlessly use to segway into the rest of the post.  Though I’m not always the most linear writer, and I typically don’t have a problem just letting my ideas explode into a word document before going back and piecing them together in a somewhat cohesive way, I find that the first paragraph is always the hardest thing to get down. I blame it on years of English classes telling me to form a thesis statement and go from there. Every time I try to write a first paragraph I can hear my brother’s voice in my head telling me that my thesis needs to be more clear, I need to explain what I’m going to be writing about, it has to be a complete sentence… Well, thank God I majored in poetry, which tends to have far less rules about things of that nature… and thankfully this here blog isn’t being graded as a critical essay or paper (right?) so I suppose at some point I just need to let all that English anxiety go… but all that being said, I STILL have a really rough time starting a blog post without it getting all cliche/cheeseball. (yes I know I have a degree in creative writing… )

Anyway, it’s Autumn here in the PNW, and its been a lovely autumn at that.  The last couple of days have been clear and sunny, and frigidly cold, but the colors have been beautiful, the sunshine is a nice change of pace, and the crispy cold days remind me a lot of home. Autumn has always been one of my favorite seasons. Change isn’t just an idea in the autumn, it’s a tangible thing, moment to moment. The colors, the weather, the light. You start to notice people wearing heavy socks, bulky sweaters, classes are becoming more full at the yoga studio, the air feels different, and of course the heaters are turned on. And right around the time that the season starts to noticeably shift is when I usually start to make changes in my own life. Some of them are small… bathing the dog every week, getting back into oil pulling, going to bed at 10PM. Some changes are a little bigger, like making a conscious effort to make myself more vulnerable, open myself up more. And some changes and shifts are even bigger (and more secretive, and slightly more draining) And as a person who is trying to live this year in forward motion, change is a pretty exciting thing. (more details as I have them)

But change is also kind of exhausting, and sometimes stressful, and though I haven’t necessarily felt stressed over the past few weeks, my body is starting to tell me otherwise. Eczema flair ups, dark circles, and overall lingering tiredness are all letting me know that as exciting as change is, that I also am in need of a little bit of physical and mental re-charge.

I try not to play the introvert card too often, but sometimes I do need to remind myself that “oh yeah, this is actually a real thing, this is actually how I function, and taking a night off isn’t always a cop-out” Especially when I look at my calendar and realize that this past week I went to a new book club, attended two dinner parties, went to a magazine event, attended my closest friends birthday dinner, met up with a friend to start planning a summer project, met with a potential roommate, as well as worked 40 + hours, and taught 3 full classes… I’m fully ready to play the introvert card.   Don’t get me wrong, each of these experiences were wonderful, each left me feeling invigorated and inspired, they made me feel full and part of a community, and I wouldn’t change any of them… but when I realize exactly how much I’ve been putting myself out there this past week, as well as dealing with other bigger life stuff, the dark circles and the eczema patches are no longer such a mystery (lovely visual, I know…) And I’m realizing that as much as I need to push myself to get out there, to engage, to make myself vulnerable, I also really need to respect myself enough to know when I need to take a moment to re-charge.

Especially this week… When things get stressful or uncomfortable I tend to just power through, to keep moving, to not let myself slow down… because it’s when you start to slow down that the emotions catch up with you, that your brain can really process…and up until now I haven’t really been willing to process. A college boy was murdered on Sunday evening, right across the street from where I used to live. In the convenience store where I spent countless evenings getting slushies, the place I bought my first alcohol on my 21st birthday, the place I drive by several times a week. And though I didn’t know him, this tragic event has had a huge impact on our community this week. This random act of violence has left the entire community feeling shaken, and at a loss. Did this really happen in our town? The overflow of compassion and support from the local community is exactly the reason that I chose to live in a small town, and its in moments like this that we are reminded to surround ourselves with the people that we love, and to try and live each day with a little more kindness.

Even before this death happened in our community I was started to feel a little jaded… maybe not jaded, but suddenly like I was very old, but hadn’t really experienced much of life yet. Suddenly things like divorce, adultery and now murder are popping up around me, and they aren’t just plot lines from some tv show. Even though these things aren’t happening to me directly, its been challenging to see them creeping into the lives of my friends and people that I know. I think there is still the naïve part of me that wants to cling to my rose colored glasses, to keep them on a bit longer, but it’s becoming more challenging.

So last night I decided to take a breath, give myself an introverted re-charge night, to listen to what I needed, and to take some time alone to process. I gave myself a moment to wrap my head around how I was feeling. I cooked a meal, put on some sweat pants, snuggled with the dog, watched a movie, went to bed early, and got up early to take a yoga class. Being able to take an evening to be kind to myself, to set aside all my projects, priorities, and obligations, to turn off my phone, and to just be present was exactly what I needed. And I’m going to spend the rest of the day trying to focus on being kind to myself, because I know that the more kindness I cultivate internally, the more it is going to radiate externally.

And on that note, I think it is time for a cup of coffee, some meditation, and to head out into the world.

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.