Thursday, February 25, 2010

On Writing

This past weekend I went out of town, and when I got back on Sunday, I dug out my paper journal.  Once upon a time, I journalled regularly.  My favorite journal was this gorgeous leather one from Crane's with pages that felt like...fresh mozzarella.  Soft and slippery and almost squishy.  Now my current journal is this drab, brown, cloth-covered, hardback book that I bought at Ikea for like $2.  I've had it since January 2008 and there's not more than a handful of entries in it (3 in all of 2009).  When I stopped journalling regularly, it was because I was writing simply out of habit.  It was like brushing my teeth - if I didn't do it before I went to bed, I felt guilty!  My entries had become robotic, nothing more than a daily account of what I had done that day.  So I made the conscious decision to stop journalling daily and just write when I really felt like writing, which usually meant when I was feeling particularly emotional.  

On Sunday, I pulled out my journal for exactly the opposite reason - I was feeling rather unemotional.  By all accounts I had a very eventful weekend, one that may eventually inspire a flurry of posts here.  But when I sat down at my computer, nothing came to me.  I kept starting and stopping.  Everything I typed, I went back and deleted.  It was like thought after unrelated thought kept floating through my head.  It was almost like I felt indifferent to what had transpired over the weekend.  But I thought, surely, surely, there was no way I could feel nothing about it.  Surely it had to be because there were just too many feelings and too many thoughts that I couldn't pin even one down. 

So I journalled.  I put pen to paper.  There was no going back and deleting or cutting and pasting or moving things around or coming up with better ways to phrase things.  It was just one big purple-ink jumble of my unfiltered thoughts.  I hoped that writing everything out in a frazzled stream of consciousness would help me to sort of what I was feeling.  But it didn't.  I'm still puzzled by my lack of any strong reaction to this events of this past weekend.   But maybe that's just it.  Maybe I don't need a "takeaway" from this weekend.  Maybe there's nothing to figure out.  Maybe it's okay to shrug and just move on.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

An Ode to the Rain

I'm appalled sometimes at how frequently the weather creeps into my everyday conversation.  I talk about it with everyone, from my coffee guy to the security guards to my colleagues. Sometimes I think the "science" of weather forecasting is completely made up, and it's all just a ruse to give people something to talk about around the water cooler when there's a dearth of office gossip.  I suppose it's probably better that when someone asks "How was your trip this weekend?" I answer with, "Oh the weather was gorgeous," rather than, "Well I got plastered every night and had to do the walk of shame."

Today, it rained in New York.  All day.  A pure, constant, light rain.  Now, I sigh and complain as much as the next person every time it rains, but secretly, I love the rain.  I love cozying up and staying inside when it rains.  I love putting on rain boots and going for a stroll when it rains.  I love having an excuse not to run errands when it's raining.  I love making up excuses to run errands when it's raining.   I love how the City seems quieter when it rains.  I love the way the cars sound as they whiz through the pools collecting in potholes.  I love it when it rains during the day and the light becomes muted and the air weepy.  I love it when it rains at night and the streetlights reflect in puddles and the asphalt glistens.

But mostly, I love the way the rain makes me appreciate the sun.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

A Side Effect of Being Independent

Despite its horribly GQ title which almost prevented me from reading it at all, this post got me thinking about how being independent has affected my relationships.

So, okay.  I'm confident and independent and some might say that I have an unjustifiably high self-esteem.  Blah blah blah.  Boys were intimidated by me in high school.  Having that ball buster type of reputation never bothered me much though, because I always figured that one day I'd meet my match, in both senses of that phrase.  But still, lots of guys in their 20s are intimidated by smart, confident, independent women who have their act together (or at least appear to).  So when I graduated from law school and moved to New York, I thought, well shit.  If I wasn't already intimidating enough, now let's layer on top of that a J.D., a lot of disposable income and a job at a place with a scary-ish reputation.  I totally bitched about how unfair it was that when we graduated from law school, my male counterparts suddenly became five times more desirable to the opposite sex whereas I became five times less desirable.

Now, I could relay a million horrifying little anecdotes of what my single lady lawyer friends and I have experienced while dating in New York (maybe later).  I certainly dated guys with chips on their shoulders who made me feel like I had to apologize for my money and my success.  But I've also dated plenty of guys with whom none of this was an issue (or at least if it was, they didn't show it).  Being a self-sufficient, independent attorney hasn't had nearly the chilling effect on my dating life that I initially thought it would.

But even though being independent hasn't significantly affected my ability to get a date, it has had a chilling effect on what happens after those first few dates.  It has affected my ability to let someone in past the superficial level.  For me, being independent isn't just about not having to rely on someone else for money, it's also about not having to rely on someone else for happiness.  All my life, I've striven to never be that needy, clingy chick, to never be the girl who was only happy if she had a boyfriend, to never let my happiness become intertwined with anyone else's.

And the result of all these years of emotional independence?  Fear.  Fear of the idea that in a relationship, my happiness will no longer be just in my hands but in his too.  Fear of the idea that one day, my decisions won't just be about what's best for me but what's best for us.  Fear of the idea that one day, I will have to depend on him, not for money, but for support, love, happiness.

And as much as I do want to depend on someone else for all of these things, there is also the fear that I will never be able to rely on someone in quite the same way that I've been able to rely on myself.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Someday, You'll Look Back on this and Laugh.

That has got to be one of the most over-used "cheer-up" lines in the world. I do think it's usually very true, but whether or not it's actually a comforting thought is another story altogether. Someday, if looking back at this time in my life makes me laugh, will it be because I will have such bigger problems in my life that I will think it is funny that I made such a big deal about being young and single??

Friday, February 12, 2010


Ten years ago, a guy friend that I've known since the third grade declared that I would end up "settling." I didn't really know how to react to that. Maybe it was partly because his tone was dripping with schadenfreude, but I took offense at his prediction. What did that say about me, what did that say about how he viewed me, and what did that say about how he thought I viewed myself? If he thought I was going to "settle," to me he was implying one of five things:

(1) There is no guy out there that is good enough for me.
(2) There is no guy out there that my friend thinks is good enough for me.
(3) There is no guy out there that I will think is good enough for me.
(4) There is no guy out there that my friend thinks I will think is good enough for me.
(5) I am going to get so tired of looking for the guy out there that is good enough for me that I am going to give up altogether.

These are all pretty grim options, except for maybe #2 if I was secretly in love with my friend (which I wasn't). We weren't even that good of friends, and yet his words still haunt me to this day. Every time I decide not to go on a second date after having gone on a mediocre first date, I can hear him saying in his creepily triumphant tone, "YOU are going to end up settling."

I thought about it again when a friend sent me an article with an interview of Lori Gottlieb about her new book entitled Marry Him: The Case for Settling for Mr. Good Enough, which I can only imagine is just a longer, sadder version of this 2008 article. In that article, Gottlieb wrote, "I don’t mean to say that settling is ideal. I’m simply saying that it might have gotten an undeservedly bad rap." When I first read this article in 2008, I thought, ha! See, Old High School Friend? You may not be wrong about me settling but you sure were wrong to think settling would make me miserable! Gottlieb's article expressed a stance that I had already been gravitating towards in my early 20s. These were questions I was grappling with myself. Why are we women always looking for perfection? Why are we always thinking that something better will come along? I grew up believing that I deserved nothing but the best in all areas of my life, including love. I was definitely ready to blame society, sappy rom coms, my overly optimistic girlfriends, my parents and anyone else for instilling and reinforcing my sense of entitlement.

By 2008, when that article came out, I had started to realize that sometimes, having low expectations can be a wonderfully good thing. If you're expecting something to be terrible, then you'll be pleasantly surprised when you enjoy it. I appropriately adjusted my expectations, not necessarily meaning that I lowered them, but I tempered them. I had no delusions about meeting some perfect guy and falling instantly in love. There was nothing that I deemed an instant dealbreaker anymore (okay fine, maybe "occupation: terrorist" is still a dealbreaker). In sum, I no longer thought of ending up with a guy who was less than perfect as "settling." I became healthily realistic, and having that attitude meant that I ended up dating a wide array of guys in 2009.

But when that article resurfaced this year, I couldn't help but resent the concept of "settling" altogether. Take Ms. Gottlieb, for example. She looks back and regrets breaking up with boyfriends who she might otherwise have ended up marrying. Am I supposed to feel sorry for her? I think she should be damn happy that she even had a boyfriend who was willing to marry her and who she could have seen herself marrying. Better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all, right?

Which then begs the question, is the whole idea of "settling" just a way to make women feel better that they had the option of marriage at all? It's much easier to say, "Well, I could've married him, but I decided I could do better" than to say "I've never met someone who I could spend the rest of my life with." Sure, it's easy for Ms. Gottlieb to turn to us 20- and 30-somethings and say, "Listen up ladies, settle for that one." But what if even "that one" doesn't turn up?

I've long concluded that it's not "settling" if I end up with someone who is less than perfect. If I find someone who I can spend the rest of my life with, well, then that would be just lovely. I'm not worried so much about "settling" anymore. I am worried that I might never find someone with whom I could settle down at all.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Straight Guys & Online Dating

Every single one of my single girlfriends has been, or is, on some sort of dating website. Every single one of my single gay friends has been, or is, on some sort of dating website. Every single one of my single straight guy friends refuses to join, or denies being on, any sort of dating website.

I came really close to convincing one of my straight guy friends to get on He had once said that he wouldn't try online dating until he was in his 30s. (He was 25 at the time.) Ten months in New York and he was whistling a different tune. So what made him (almost) change his mind? It may have been because he hadn't been on a date in over 8 months. But I think what really sent him over the edge was the night he got hit on by a guy at a bar where we were playing beer pong. After that night, he agreed that if I drafted a profile for him, he'd consider joining match. But then, that very weekend, he went to a wedding and met a bridesmaid, and there went my carefully constructed profile for FoodieBanker25.

Actually, two of my guy friends have done online dating. But neither of them know that I know. One met his current girlfriend online. He told me that they met at a Halloween party. I didn't learn until almost 9 months later (from her) that by "Halloween party," he really meant JDate.

My other guy friend who's online flat-out denied that he was online. One of my girlfriends stumbled across his profile as she was browsing OkCupid and called me immediately. I thought it would be hysterically funny if she messaged him but she, perhaps wisely, refused. The next time I saw him, I casually mentioned how I was thinking about joining eHarmony and then asked him, point-blank, if he had tried online dating. I think he shuttered and said something like, "Oh god no."

So why are single straight guys in their 20s so embarrassed by the idea of online dating? Is it because guys think they should have enough game to pick girls up at bars and at Halloween parties? Is it that guys see online dating as a last resort when all else fails? Or is it just that guys don't want to admit that they too are looking for someone to love?

*Disclaimer - this is all maybe a little hypocritical since I haven't actually tried online dating either.  But someday...

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

A First First Date

Tonight I went on a first date. My first First Date since 'D'. Obviously it didn't go that well considering it's 11pm and I'm home and blogging about it. Honestly though, it wasn't actually a bad date. It was really quite pleasant. But even so, the minute I got into that cab, I could feel the tears welling up in my eyes.

I know that sounds all sorts of terrible, especially because really, the date wasn't actually bad. He was on the short side but cuter than I remembered. He had some funny stories and he shared my love of Arrested Development. While I was there, I had a good time. But the minute I was alone again, it hit me. I was out on first dates...again.

In so many ways, this was the perfect first First Date to go on. I had absolutely no expectations. It was practically a blind date. I didn't know anything about him apart from his name and the fact that he had a 617 number and so probably had some connection to Boston. I met him three days after things ended with 'D', when I was at Spitzer's (again). I ran into him on my way out of, and on his way to, the bathroom. (Yeah, totally romantic.) He was basically like, "Hey, I was actually going to come over and talk to you and your friend in a minute." So we had a quick chat, I gave him my number, he called and I agreed to have a drink with him.

Despite the many, many random guys I've given my number out to at bars, I've actually only gone out with 2 (now 3) of them. And, not because of any fatal flaw of their own, none of them have made it past the first date. And this latest one is probably not going to be an exception to that rule.

It's just that as LOW as my expectations were for this date (and they were lowest they could be since I had none), I was still disappointed. I was disappointed all over again by 'D' and the fact that here I am, out on first dates again when all I really want is to be with someone who knows me, inside and out, who understands me, who loves me, and who, despite the fact that he could, would never, ever break my heart.

Monday, February 8, 2010


I once went to a silent dance party.

When you walked in, someone gave you a pair of headphones to wear - the funny, ear-muff looking kind.  Each pair came with a little remote control allowing you to choose to listen to one of three stations.  So, you could go up to someone, start dancing with them and tell pretty much right away if they were on the same wavelength as you (pun intended).  It was pretty amazing.  You had so much control!  If you got sick of a song, you could change the station.  You could decide how loud you wanted the music to be so you didn't have to go home with your ears were ringing (unless you wanted to).  But soon enough the novelty wore off.  The headphones were uncomfortable. It was even harder than usual to talk to people.  And you weren't actually in control of what music you listened to since your choices were limited to three stations.  After about five minutes, it was just weird.

This is kind of how I've come to feel about silence from an ex. At first it's great. There are no reminders of them in your inbox or your call log. You don't have to talk to them or see them if you don't want to. Out of sight, out of mind.  But soon enough, you realize that you're not actually in control.  The silence becomes uncomfortable. And then it just becomes weird.

Take 'C' for instance. 'C' is an old flame who I haven't heard from since December 2008.  It is February 2010!  It is driving me a little crazy.  I just want to email him and say, "Are you alive?" Yes? Good. Okay, bye.  'C' and I never talked on a regularly basis to begin with; we'd email randomly maybe every two to three months.  Actually, I used to hate it when he contacted me.  I swear he had this sixth sense.  I wouldn't hear from him and then boom.  Completely out of the blue, he'd email or call me at a moment when I was feeling down or when something significant was going on in my life.  So naturally, when all this happened, I almost expected him to pop back into my life.  But no.  All is quiet on the western front.

What's funny is that I think I should probably be more bothered by the radio silence coming from 'D'.  'D' is my most recent disappointment and I haven't heard from him at all since things ended.  Sure, I may have said something along the lines of "don't bother" when he said he'd call me.  And sure, I guess it's not that crazy that I haven't heard from him, since it's not as thought I ever contact boys after I end things with them, but still!  I can't help but think things should have played out differently with 'D'.

Okay, I know, I could break the silence.  It's mostly pride (and gmail's mail goggles) that's stopping me from emailing 'C' and 'D' myself.  Maybe one day I'll give in, but for now, I'm okay with dancing around in the silence, and maybe I'm just not quite ready for those funny-looking ear-muff headphones to come off.

Friday, February 5, 2010

How It All Began

I think it's safe to say that I have been dating in New York for a full year now.  Why, you ask, has it taken me a whole year to start writing about it?  I believe it was Thoreau who said, "How vain is it to sit down to write when you have not stood up to live?"

Hear hear.  Leaving aside the fact that I think it's still a bit vain to write about yourself regardless of how much you've lived, I think I was just too green to be able to write about dating in New York a year ago. Occasionally, I can't help but feel as though I am in exactly the same place I was a year ago - same job, same apartment, still single.  But the fact is, I'm not in the same place I was a year ago. Cheesy as it may sound, I've grown, learned and well, I stood up and lived this past year.

So just how green was I in early 2009?  Well, it all started with a boy named 'B'.

In early 2009, I made the affirmative decision to "get out there" and meet people, even if it meant getting dressed up and putting heels on when it was 15 degrees and there was a foot of brown slush that New Yorkers call "snow" on the ground. So there I was, on a cold, icy January evening, feeling just a little bit silly in 3-inch heels, going to yet another birthday party of someone else that I didn't actually know.  When I walked into the bar, it was clear that everyone there was under 22.  It was one of those moments when I looked around the room and thought, when did I get so old?

And that’s when I spotted 'B'. Cute, preppy, your typical boy-next-door.  Plus, he looked to be in the 26-35 range.  I was just about to nudge my friend to point him out to her when he looked up.  He looked at me.  Our eyes met.  And for a second, it was just like that magical moment in the movies when everything else goes quiet.

But five seconds later the crowd filled in again.  The music was insanely loud and there was definitely a couple or two making out in the corner. My friends and I were trying really hard to stay out of the way of the under-age undergrads who looked like they might spew up their Malibu bay breezes at any second. Finally, I ended up next to 'B'.  We chatted.  He seemed interested.  He asked for my number.  I gave it to him.  He never called.

I was so shocked.  He was the first guy in New York I had given my number to who didn’t call.  No, correction, he was the first guy I had given my number to in the entire world who didn’t call.  What. the. hell?

I spent a lot of that week obsessing.  I tried not to, but I couldn't help it.  By the following weekend, I just wanted answers.  I got drunk.  And then I started raving to anyone who would listen about how awful guys are in New York.   I mean, why would you ask for a number and then not call?  Why even bother asking a girl for her number in the first place?  I wound up talking some poor kid's ear off, demanding from him an explanation and an apology on behalf of the entire male species.

Since no one could give me any real answer to my dilemma, I started giving out my number with reckless abandon.  I mean, if not calling wasn’t anything personal then surely I could at least win at the numbers game.  Someone would have to call...eventually.  It became my own little New York dating experiment.  How many times would I have to give out my number before someone actually called? I gave my number to a 23-year-old at the Upper East Side frat party that is Dorian’s who "worked in real estate" and lived in Westchester (at home?).  I gave my number to a 40-something at Employees Only who bragged about splitting his time between Los Angeles and New York, as though that was supposed to impress me.  I even gave my number to my friend’s closeted gay friend just to see if he would call.  No, no and no.

The One Who Actually Called was number four, well five, if you include 'B'.  I met him at a bar called Plan B (only unintentionally ironic).  But This Guy didn't just call.  He called and when I screened, he left a voice mail and followed it up with a text asking if I wanted to go to a play in Brooklyn.  It was really quite perfect.  And that's when I saw the flaw in the whole plan.  I had no interest in seeing this guy again.  I certainly wasn't about to go all the way to Brooklyn to go on a date with some guy I wasn't even attracted to.  I considered not calling or texting back.  But then the guilt set in.  How could I complain about guys who never call and then turn around and be the girl who never calls back?!  So I waited a reasonable amount of time and texted a polite but clear response.  He didn't call again.  And I had my answer.

How many times does a single New Yorker need to give out her phone number before a guy calls?

Four or five, depending on how you're keeping score.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Valentine's Day

What kind of girl would I be if I didn't write about Valentine's Day?

This year, I got an email from a friend almost a full MONTH out in anticipation of what us girls were going to do for Valentine's Day.  A full month out!  It got me to thinking about what I'd done the past few years.  And honestly, I could barely remember.  I had to go back to my outlook calendar to figure out what I'd done in 2009.  (I was out-of-town and spent Valentine's Day as my parents' third wheel.  If I had been anywhere in the 15 and 23 age range at the time, I probably would've been mortified, but last year, I enjoyed it.  I mean, what better way to spend a day dedicated to love than with the two people who love you most in the world?)  I have no idea what I did in 2008.  (A 15 minute search through my inbox revealed that I was again out-of-town and spent Valentine's Day on a plane to visit my brother who had just had ACL surgery and was being taken care of by mom. Hmmm. Pattern?) 

Well, this year I can't hide from Valentine's Day with my family (only because they moved to a place that is prohibitively far away from me).  The thing is, I don't become extremely depressed at not having a date on Valentine's Day (because after 26 years, well no, 25 years, of not having a date on Valentine's Day, one really does get used to it).  But I still feel the need to do something on Valentine's Day.  I guess maybe if I were left alone to my own devices, at home, alone, on Valentine's Day, maybe I would get a little bummed.  

But getting gussied up, sipping cosmos, toasting girlpower and plotting the demise of immature boys with 10 other single girls sounds pretty effing miserable.  Don't get me wrong, I love my girlfriends and I love going out with just the girls.  It's just that the thought of celebrating our collective singleness when I know that as much as everyone tries to deny it, every single one of us would have chosen having a boyfriend over being single that day (and probably 5 out of 7 days of any other week)...well.  It just sounds a wee bit pathetic.

So, my plan for Valentine's Day?  Go to a random dive with my friends, both guys and girls, drink beer, play shuffleboard, and celebrate nothing but a shuffleboard victory or two.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

The Law of Threes

My freshman year roommate was a Macedonian from Kuwait who went to a British school and hated Greek men.

One day, I came home from class to find her intentionally breaking a glass over our trash can. I don’t think I even bothered to ask what she was doing. It was far enough into the year that she could spot the what-the-hell-are-you-doing look on my face that I never could manage to hide even though I tried.

“My grandmother always says that things break in threes. So whenever I break something, I intentionally break two other things.”

It was an especially odd thing to hear from her, of all people, because it wasn’t as though she was like Keri Russell’s Wiccan roommate on the first season of Felicity. My roommate was probably the most reasonable, rational person I’d met that year. Hardly someone I would've pegged for being superstitious.

I didn't think of her grandmother's words again until 7 years later.  With every new apartment I lived in, I accumulated more and more kitchenware from Ikea, Crate and Barrel, Anthropologie - the usual for a 20-something. Somehow, even with my clumsy tendencies, I had never broken a glass, a plate, a bowl. Nothing. I don't think I had broken so much as an tomato sauce jar on its way out to be recycled.

And then I broke three things in one week.  I pulled a mug out of the dishwasher and the handle literally fell off of the mug when I shook it to get rid of the excess water. I mean, it flew right off! I was left holding half a mug handle in my hand, and there were red shards of a corporate-logo-ed ceramic mug ALL over my floor and under my refrigerator. Then, a day later, I pulled a water glass out of the cabinet and set it down directly on top of another water glass that was already on the counter. The bottom glass shattered.  Shattered!  Damn clear glasses.  I went from searching for red shards to searching for clear shards.  Much worse.

I pretty seriously considered following in my roommate's footsteps.  I had plenty of empty glasses around that I didn't need and could intentionally break. But then again, I was curious. I kind of wanted to tempt fate. What would break next? Or rather, what would shatter into a million little pieces all over my kitchen floor? The answer? My favorite vase.  Darn.  Should've broken that empty tomato sauce jar.

A few months later, the law of threes struck again.

This time, it was much worse.  My week had already been shitty. There's really no other word for it. It was the first time in a year that I felt true hatred towards my job. I was definitely on my way towards becoming one of those people who lives from weekend to weekend and this one in particular held such promise.  A first date on Thursday, poker with the boys on Friday and a sort-of third date on Saturday.

You can obviously see where this is going.  Thursday afternoon - I get a text from my date, "Sorry, work is super busy, rain check?"

Okay, fine.  I didn't really even care that I got canceled on via text. The date was with some random guy I'd met at a bar and who was fun but nothing spectacular.  Plus he lived in Jersey.  Next.

Friday afternoon - our poker email chain starts blowing up.

"Friday night in the office for me."
"10% chance I'll get out in time."
"Not looking good."

Fail!  Game was canceled.  It sucks not having a 9-5 job (do those even exist anymore?).

So I wake up Saturday morning completely dreading what the day had in store for me.  It's not like I could even break a glass to break the curse of the law of threes!  What could I do?  Make plans for brunch and deliberately ask that person to cancel on me? No. So I just waited. Maybe, just maybe everything would be fine and my week would end on a high note. Not so much. By noon, my sort-of third date had canceled too.

The worst part about the law of threes is that independently, none of these instances would have affected me much at all. Any other week, I probably would've been a little relieved by Thursday's cancellation. Sure random first dates can be fun, but there's also the super awkwardness of being on a first date with someone totally random. Any other week, I wouldn't have felt anything but indifferent that my poker game was off. Sure I enjoy taking the boys' money, but it would've also been nice to have spent Friday night out with the girls. And any other week, I would've had mixed feelings about being canceled on by my sort-of third date. Sure I would've been peeved for essentially being stood up, but I was already a little hesitant about him for a number of reasons, one of which was that he had backed me into a corner by asking me out for a Saturday date when we'd only been on one and two half-dates (which maybe I'll go into more detail one day, but it's why this date-that-never-was would have only been a sort-of third date in my book).

So instead of being three easy-to-shrug-off cancellations, when they happened back-to-back-to-back, each cancellation became a bigger and bigger disappointment.  Three events that independently would have caused little buzz in my world morphed into The Shitty Weekend that Ended A Shitty Week.  "Things break in threes," Macedonian grandmothers say.  In this case, these three things taken together broke me, just a tiny little bit.  It just goes to show how much sequence and context matter.  For me, the law of threes is just another lesson in relativity.