Friday, January 31, 2014

Reaching me from beyond

I got another letter from the woman my uncle married while in the Peace Corps. (Technically this makes her my aunt and I address every reply back as such.)

I like to read and re-read her words and then rest the paper on my chest while remembering my dear uncle, my only tie to him now through her prose.

It's been over a decade since he's been gone and I can still see his smile.

(Sent from my phone)

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Out, girl who reads...

Thought Catalog 
But I am weak and I will fail you, because you have dreamed, properly, of someone who is better than I am.

(Sent from my phone)

Cubicle Drift is totally going to be the name of my cover band.

I feel like I should write something although I'm not in the mood. I last left off on a kindof melancholy note but the past few days have been awesome, it's a shame to give my future self the impression I was in a days-long funk so here's what's new:

Recent stuff:

1. Work is great. I'm moving cubicles to one that's not in a main thoroughfare, yay!
Current. Not terrible, but not ideal. The drain gets in the way.
Future. This bathroom sink gets MUCH less traffic, see.
2. Amazon Prime is awesome because I kept forgetting to pick up shoelaces for the Cyclist. I mean, who remembers to go to the kind of store that actually SELLS shoelaces unless you're buying shoes, which I almost never am? Exactly. Online is so much easier. Three clicks and the laces are on the way.
3. I discovered I don't have to wait that two hours for the space heater to kick in. Electric throw, yo! I am SO goddamned cozy now you  have NO idea.

4. My mom is learning how to text. She's so cute.

Actual text, I kid you not.

5. I feel extremely un-boy-crazy the past few days and it's kindof awesome.

6. Speaking of boys, I told you I signed up for a dating class, right? The next homework assignment is to come up with a list of qualities we want in a partner. (I HAD one and accidentally deleted it after the Alex incident. Oops.) So far though, the class is fun. Really, the best thing it's offering is a sense of hope, not to give up. Turns out that's really common. The instructor urged people to remember a time when they had to work hard at something that wasn't coming easy. "My career was tough to get off the ground," one girl piped in. "Now, it's great!" 

I always liked the job thing as an analogy. You don't stop looking for work just because you can't find it. You keep trying. Sure it's discouraging but the need to buy shoelaces drives you forward. Maybe love just feels easier to give up. But don't! At least not without emailing me or commenting so I can give you a pep talk about how awesome you are.

(Just watch the first 3 minutes.)

7. I signed up for an 8-week program to quit sugar. I'm terrified. Hold me? It starts Monday. I've never followed a diet in my life (aside from just trying to eat healthy with bad stuff generally in moderation). But I've been lamenting my cravings forEVER and these last 10 lbs that I can't seem to shed, so obviously what I'm doing is not enough.

Plus, fuck February. Everyone hates February. If I'm going to pick an entire month to spend in a bad mood, it may as well be this one.
I dove into a serving of ice cream last night as if it was my last meal and then I found out that actually, the diet does NOT actually start tomorrow. That's just when they email the menu so there's time to buy the arsenal of flavorless wood chips for snacking. Boo. Now I have to psych back up to start.

8. It snowed this morning, a dusting. Me:

9. I'm reading a book on the brain so I can better understand my nucleus accumbens.

10. And now I have a text to tend to. Night!

Thursday, January 23, 2014

The joy of connecting, and disconnecting

Want to have an interesting conversation with yourself?

If you find yourself doing something regularly, ask what do I get out of this?

Be brutally honest with your answer. After all, no one will hear it but you.

The answer can sometimes be enlightening. It can also act as a catalyst for change, for once you admit to yourself your motive, will you want to change it? This is why they say "the first step is acknowledging it" because without awareness, how can you exact action?

I spent this past weekend (including an unexpected snow day) in a haze of bliss, wrapping my arms around the same guy I've adored now for about a year and a half, despite escaping conventional labels. Whatever this is, it's not something that will deepen and lead to dress-buying and families meeting and commitment-sealing -- we know this and have discussed this openly -- and yet every time I have thought maybe I should rip myself away, I could not. Being together didn't bring me stress, being apart did. So something is oddly working, even if I can't explain it.

So what is it that am I getting out of this bond?

Obviously, he's fun, hot as hell and smells better than any other man on the planet, but aside from that, I like who I am when we're together. I want to cook and serve my man dishes that make him smile and sleep with my arms wrapped around him and not be on Facebook because my real life is larger than my online life.

I like the weekends because it gives me permission to disconnect and have fun.

Maybe this means I am too connected. That I am craving more creative pursuits and downtime because it's more meaningful.

I've gotten myself into a bind with this view, as a kindof social media example among peers. I use these tools freely even if somewhat opinionated about "best" use. I like when community-building tools are actually used to connect people through ideas and experiences and not simply transmitting narcissistic broadcasts.

Illustration from The Oatmeal

I hated Facebook at first, thinking anyone that spent any time there was a complete loser.

This hilarious example is also from The Oatmeal

Now I'm on there every day. (Granted, I don't do the above!)

Probably the turning point (for when I started to see Facebook's value) was when I began to make new friends.

Normally you'd have to hang out with a person several times before getting to know the deeper parts of them, and even then the first few times are always a little awkward, but social media started to take away that outer veneer of shyness for me. I could meet someone at a party and see them 3 months later but suddenly they weren't so much of a stranger because we had done the digital equivalent of riding the bus together every day. Conversations were easier to start and maintain and so these tools grew on me.

My current enthusiasm should not be mistaken as an indicator of someone who's an early adopter though. I still hate some types of technology. I despise chat, (mostly) reluctantly text, and absolutely abhor talking on the phone. These are all good tools if used well, it's just all in the use. And sometimes I really like not using them. I feel too accessible sometimes, by too many people. I really like these weekends where I give myself permission to not be available and instead relax and unwind.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Good Will

He showed me his new desk, pointing happily to the beautiful view out the window. "This is so much better than working in the basement. I hated spending 8 hours without once seeing natural light," he said.

"I hear things are good for you too? The new boss gave you some big responsibilities? I think it's awesome. I know people can be catty around here sometimes but I think it's great."

Wait, what? Who was being catty? I'm surrounded by really nice people. Did he hear someone say something?
Or hear.
I have spent my entire life avoiding office politics. In my view, everyone is a giant unique snowflake. I am a counselor at heart, really, thrilled for every individual's self-actualization and that counts even at work.
Good things happening to people at their jobs is just part of that; seeing people given opportunities to shine makes me happy. I once passed up a high-profile assignment because I refused to steal it from the original person it was given to (the meeting ended in hugs) and quietly declined a move to a kick-ass location so the coworker next-in-line (who was much more in need of a better desk) could have it. I treat my colleagues like friends.
Our awesome group rapport
It never occurred to me that not everyone would likewise be happy for me.

I get it that not everyone is BFFs on the job but even less positive connections usually fall into one of two categories: not terribly liking the person but respecting their work anyway, or not terribly liking the way someone works but still wanting good things for them as a person.

I didn't ask what he heard or who said it, I don't want to know. Unsavory behavior usually stems from fear, maybe from wondering what effect will emerge on the dynamic long-term or whether or not one's efforts will be recognized and appreciated. These usually shake out with time anyway, when it's clear that the changes are positive. (Hopefully they are positive -- if not, they can't sustain themselves, right?)

So I will continue to be inclusive and root for all and hopefully good will shall be returned.

Friday, January 17, 2014

How to endear yourself to other people

This morning, when the office was quiet and peaceful, I logged into my email feeling very zen about the day ahead. Until I saw the angry email.

(Paraphrased) "You suck! Why didn't you reply yet??!? It's been FOUR DAYS. Don't tell me you're too busy because I'm busier. So there!"

Ah, the pissing contest. "You are not like me! Does not compute!!"

Dude, I haven't emailed my DAD in four days. RELAX.

I can't stand when people are all, "Well, when *I* fell out of a helicopter, I didn't break anything so I don't know why YOU'RE in a bodycast. Showoff." "The flu only hit ME for 4 hours. Weirdo." "I found someone new 17 minutes after my breakup, what's wrong with you??"

At its core, this displays not only a surprising lack of empathy and maturity but also foresight. Yes, foresight, because this is usually how it goes down.

Actual case study that happened to a friend:
Girl: Don't break up with me, noooooo!!

Guy: I'm so sorry, it's just not working.

Girl: I will RUIN YOUR LIFE and TELL YOUR CLIENTS you are awful and spread a terrible smear campaign if you leave me!!

Guy: Uh... what??

Girl: I'M NOT LEAVING YOUR HOUSE until you say we will do WHATEVER it takes to make it work.
Then she stalked him. Like, a lot.

This was as endearing as you might imagine, and they are now together happily ever after. Of course!

Okay, look. If there was EVER any part of this guy's brain that might rethink the decision and wonder if he made a mistake, did she really think being crazy would help her case? Just like with the above guy. If there was ever any part of me that would have considered dating, and you never know -- I liked him enough to stay friendly at least -- he totally killed it.

If you're full of entitled rage for my time and attention and we're only FRIENDS, fuck if you think that's an effective pickup strategy.

Nope. No. No No No. HALE no!

While I was hammering out this post, he just sent an apology. Now I'm not sure how to respond, as I'd effectively written this friendship off. Having made the wonderful acquaintance of abuse in times past, I am not eager to add to this repertoire of experience. A standard M.O. of an abuser is to rain inappropriate shit down and then apologize. It will never be an apology of the self-shattering kind that makes you face an action you did with the kindof horror required to effectively turn yourself inside out in an excruciating act of metamorphosis; instead it will be a bandaid.

But the trouble with my past is that I cannot always tell if this is that, or was it just a mistake? I'm not a dick, afterall. I recognize we're all human and deserve compassion for mistakes.

Still, something is making me uncomfortable in my gut and this friendship is now over even if I'd wanted to forgive the gaffe. He'd be better off finding someone without a history. Gift of Fear, thank you. And sorry, guy, I know all you really wanted was to feel heard. I'm sorry it couldn't be me.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Ding ding! Revelation.

So, I turned off my dating profile (again), shut down all new options and then, purely for scientific purposes (only as a journalistic sacrifice for this blog, of course), signed up for a 3-month class on how to fucking date.

Class one revealed this particularly shocking revelation: if someone's not right for you, you're not right for them either.


Yup. There shouldn't be any guilt or shitty feelings because it goes either way. If you *both* don't mutually feel it, then it's not IT. Yeah, I know. You're astounded. I'll keep you posted on any further enlightening surprises.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Interstitial spaces

I started to write about my date last night when I got home and then deleted it. I didn't know what to say.

It was a wonderful date, in a fancy restaurant, the bill must have cost a fortune. I ordered the cheapest glass of wine I could find to try and keep costs down. I shouldn't have ordered anything but for some reason people seem to feel weird when they get wine and you don't. He wondered if we should get a bottle and I said "I have a confession - I don't really drink wine. Or anything, it's just not big on my list. I have no idea what "Riesling" or "Pinot Noir" even means. So I'll get a glass to enjoy tonight but no bottle is necessary and it's not something I need to have at every meal."

He said he wanted to shut down his dating profile and concentrate on only me, and it seemed okay at the time somehow, to imagine getting to know him slowly but just exploring the one thing -- all I have wanted this whole time is just one person to be crazy about and I could imagine really liking him -- but then after the date on the way home I started to cry. I cried thinking that I am not ready for this. I mourned some kind of loss last night in the car, the idea that I wouldn't be able to see my sweet cyclist or live in this weird place that I've grown to love.

So I don't know, I can't figure myself out sometimes.

(Sent from my phone)

Friday, January 10, 2014

And then he aggressively massaged my fat.

We agreed to meet at a local pizzeria, the cutie with the sideways profile pic.

I grabbed a seat at the bar while waiting for the table and he arrived not five minutes later and slid onto the stool next to me, grinning broadly.

It was off to a wonderful start: lively, vivacious conversation and tasty food. He fired questions at me like an interviewer and his energy and interest were charming.

We covered so much ground with such intensity that I hadn't realized how long I'd been sitting bolt upright. Eventually I noticed my rigid profile and leaned back to catch my breath and in doing so, absentmindedly rested my wrists on the table.

He noticed me relaxing and his eyes crinkled warmly. He reached out for my hand in what was supposed to be a romantic gesture only... it wasn't so much a reaching as it was a snatching.

He grabbed it the way an eagle would yank a rabbit skyward, talons engulfing the entire creature in an iron death grip.
Surprise! Let's hold hands?
He crushed my fingers instantly upon contact.
My fingers
I yelped involuntarily and his face crumpled in horror. "I'm so sorry!" he apologized quickly. I quickly retreated my hand under the table to worry at the throbbing indentation from my ring in secret lest he feel even worse knowing it smarted for the next half hour.

With my hand no longer available for further pulverizing displays of affection, he reached out, mid-story, to pat me on the shoulder. Only somehow it wasn't a pat, it was a deep tissue massage. Of the FAT on my arm. This is distracting for a number of reasons. I mean, Did he HAVE to pick the fat? Couldn't he aggressively massage something that didn't make me feel so pudgy? Couldn't he hurt something with less nerve endings? Fat is surprisingly sensitive. You have to be gentle with fat.

Myofascial trigger point release massage...  you're doing it wrong.
Then he decided it was time to kiss. I was not aware of this sudden revelation, not anymore than I was aware of the hand-snatching or tricep-gripping, and it too caught me by surprise.

With NO warning, prelude, hint or sign, he grabbed my face with both hands and yanked it toward him.
Now, you know how in movies whenever someone kisses someone else unexpectedly, afterwards the surprised party is all "what was that?"

Well I hate those scenes because no one kisses anyone by surprise. You see that shit coming.

Saw it coming!

So his face was coming in like a baseball and my skull was the bat. I quickly turned to avert the human projectile, ungracefully blurting an explanation: "I don't kiss on the first date!" 

However, as demonstrated by the laws of physics, he had already garnered so much forward momentum that he was unable to stop. Newton's first law of motion states that a body in motion stays in motion unless acted upon by an outside force.
Law of inertia, bitches.
He tried to save face like he had really just meant to smash skulls all along, and his face rocketed into mine as he replied, "that's fine" to my newly-unveiled rule of chastity.

At the same time, extraneous energy was somehow dislodged to the table, knocking our dishes to the edge. They clanked loudly and threatened to upend their contents, drawing the attention of the entire restaurant to the sight of our romantic collision.

I wanted to like him, really I did. He smelled clean (as I observed when his epidermis unwittingly smeared across my nostrils) and seemed philosophical, but the timing was all off. He whirled around topics and touching the way asteroids race around the universe and I could not keep up, especially not without a heavy atmospheric layer of protection.

In which I buy a maternity dress and wear it for a date.

"Hey love, how are we dressing for tomorrow?" he texted me. The restaurant requires reservations but I hadn't anticipated tomorrow's outfit yet. I'll wear whatever I would have worn to a local pub. Something cute, nothing formal. But maybe I'll dress it up with fancy earrings.

"I have a black sweater dress I can wear," I text back.

"WOW," he replies.

"Easy there," I want to say. "It's a MATERNITY dress."

I don't say this though because I wouldn't be kidding.

I discovered that cute little black number at Target, instantly noticing that it wasn't too short.  

Yay! A sweater dress that doesn't require pants! (Believe it or not, that is rare.)

Most sweater dresses
I tried it on and it fit perfectly. I didn't notice until I got home that it was a maternity gown.

Pffft, whatever. It's comfortable.

Love. He's calling me "love" after only one date. But you know what? Fuckit. It feels nice to hear.

I like him and I want to be receptive. I want to keep my heart open. Try.


Love is complicated.

I still love someone else, I admit. I do it from inside my head. I hope to fall in love with someone who can love me back though.

Will it be him? Who knows. Time will tell. Or maybe it's the kiss that will tell. The kiss, a famous foreteller of chemistry, can make it or break it... we shall see.
Dear god, please don't let it be this!

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Welp, I'm halfway there.

UberFacts (@UberFacts)
The average person will go on at least 100 dates before they get married.

(Sent from my phone)


I think 3am is the hour you fall in love. When your thinking brain is turned off and the only thing that fills your consciousness is remembering the feel of your bodies folded together; cupping the nape of his neck with your fingers while he slowly strokes the arm you've draped around him as you both slip in and out of sleep.

This is the hour you write love letters in your head, paragraphs of mad devotion that don't even need to make sense, they can just be the brain in love in the middle of the night. When you wake, you won't remember everything you thought and even if you did, you wouldn't tell him. But you will decide this is bliss, and there can never be too much bliss.

(Sent from my phone)

Monday, January 6, 2014

Flu season is starting!

Me at work when I hear someone coughing:

The office candy jar is dead to me now:

Any communal cup is basically a petri dish, actually (restaurant mints, etc.):

How I view all public restrooms:

The toddler with the runny nose at the supermarket ogling the candy at the checkout counter:

Strangers who want to shake my hand:

The metro during flu season:

What I want to do when I'm trapped on a flight with someone hacking their head off behind me:

Why I will not touch slimy lettuce or leftovers after more than 2 days:

Why I wipe my cell phone down with alcohol almost every night:

Why I don't want the meat packed in the same bag as my gum and why I don't like bags that touch the floor on my counters:

Fine, I'm a germophobe. I like to think I'm just conscious, since I aced that microbio class so awesomely.

My actual notes. (Click photo to enlarge.)
However, did you know that antibacterial soap does more harm than good? It's the act of handwashing that gets the germs off your hands - you're supposed to count to 20 or else you're not spending enough time washing your hands. The soap makes the surface of your hands slippery and the rubbing motion makes the germs slide off.

Alcohol sanitizer is wonderful for killing the germs but doesn't actually remove the dirt so if you really want to be clean, wash first and then use the sanitizer.

Do not use antibacterial soap (unless you are immunocompromised) because it contributes to antibiotic resistance and we need to save our antibiotics for the people who really need them.