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!”

img_2949

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.

 

 

Advertisements

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.

IMG_4929

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.

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