Wednesday, December 31, 2008

I suppose I still have a few hours to make that "Soul Mate in '08" thing happen, but I'm totally not holding my breath.

At the risk of starting a routine wherein I begin every post with a claim that time is slipping by suspiciously quickly, I still need to say, "Was Christmas already a week ago?" Whoopsie. Still want an update on that?

Actually, I thought perhaps we were all taking a little break between the holidays, but the 300+ unread posts I saw in my feed reader last night suggest that's not the case. I don't know how the rest of you found time to post during the past week. Me, I was far too busy with impromptu little experiments, such as "Let's see how many movies in a row I can watch on my parents' couch before I actually have to get up and check for muscle atrophy" and "Let's count how many consecutive days I can go without eating a vegetable." Oh, and of course, there were those couple of days in there where I actually had to go in to WORK, because apparently not everyone is in agreement that regardless of which days of the week the holidays fall upon, the last week of December is for lounging with a cookie in one hand and a wine glass in the other. Rest assured; I plan to write my Congressman about this immediately.

Today, however, I am off, and at 3:17 p.m., I am still sitting in my pajamas, drinking the last glass from a bottle of white I opened earlier this week. What? Is 3:17 in the afternoon too early for wine? Come on; it is NEW YEAR'S! Surely that warrants a pass. Besides that, the cork on this bottle was stamped with the letters "Rx" after the winery's web address. I'm sure that is some sort of registered trademark-related indicator, but I prefer to believe this wine is a prescription! Just yesterday I joined the Facebook group titled, "A glass of wine solves everything." It's a remedy worth trying, I say.

The fact is I've been feeling a bit low lately. I was attributing it to my uncharacteristically irrational disappointment over the vanishing act played by my supposed best date of '08. I realize it was just one date, and for me to feel so defeated and deflated after it is really not in keeping with my usual cynicism and guardedness where dating is concerned. Still, I have spent the past week and a half wallowing about, crying "I don't get it; I don't GET IT!" and "It's not fair. How is this fair??" Is it not my freaking turn already? Have I not paid my damn dues? I sound like a goddamned Lifetime movie. I realize this, of course. And I'm also ashamed to admit that a good portion of this disappointment likely stems from what that stupid psychic told me in 2007. When I met someone I actually liked right at the end of the year, I wanted to believe that she was right, and I actually would find my soul mate in '08. It's silly, I know; you don't have to tell me that or chide my naivety. It's not that I truly believed her, of course, but that I just really wanted to. Sending positive vibes out into the universe is all I thought I was doing. Who knew it would send me into such a bleak place.

It's not only the afore-nicknamed Bachelor #3, however. Rereading my New Year's-adjacent posts from the past two years, I've realized end-of-year melancholy is nothing new for me. We're supposed to think of new beginnings and starting overs, of the things we accomplished and gained in the year past. Instead, I dwell on things lost or never found. I think of things I didn't do, goals I didn't meet because I didn't set. This time of year puts me in a weird place. Surely that's not just me, right? Sadly, I have a feeling that a cheerful New Year's spirit isn't the norm for many of us.

All that said, I do have to acknowledge that 2008 was not all bad. I have good friends who I love dearly. In this scary economy, I still have a job and a home and a meager savings account balance. I even accomplished two and a half of my five resolutions for the year. I could do worse than 50%, don't you think?

The end of the year is a time for wrap-ups and summaries, of course, so to review, here is my list, my year-in-review, my Stefanie Says clip show for 2008.

January: Foolishly proclaimed it the Year of Stef, hoping luck in romance would follow. (Ha.) Discovered a new way to Internet-stalk old friends and love interests. Grew a Chia Elephant. Discovered the pack rat gene is dominant. (Also, learned my grandma didn't like lima beans.)

February: Won my city's first (and only) Drunken Spelling Bee. (The bee lives on, but with the decidedly less fun-sounding "Grown-up Spelling Bee" label.) Coined the term "Venn Diagram of Snobbery." Lost my grandma.

March: Celebrated National Grammar Day. Realized I shouldn't be trusted alone in my own house. Cleared 50 years of clutter from my basement. Celebrated my 34th birthday and my third blogiversary. Tested my domesticity by taking a quilting class.

April: Finally met Lara! And NPW! And Red! And got to hang out with Noelle again, too! (Spring vacation in Boston and Philly was a definite highlight of the year.) Played along in the first Choose Your Own Blogventure story game. Discovered I can find things to eat in the Produce section (and ate those things for eleven-plus days in a row). Learned to knit socks.

May: Brought our friend Darren back to the Internet. Injured myself while cleaning my shower. Gave my newly refinished basement a coming out party. Got yelled at by a fellow motorist.

June: Played with that nifty Flickr mosaic tool (and promptly forgot about it until now). Had my very first fifteen-cent meal of Ramen noodles. Ran into a past meMarmony match in a crowd of 8,000 people. Was reminded that I really should wear a helmet and knee pads in daily life.

July: Started reading those crazy teenage vampire books. Summed up my life in Someecard format. Considered the possible merits of attending my first National Night Out block party.

August: Fixed my car's air conditioner, all by myself (well, by myself with help from the Internet and a fellow blogger). Got massaged by a giant middle-aged black man. Ever-so-unoriginally was brought to tears by traffic. Wrote my first [part of a] science fiction story, for CYOB 2.0.

September: Watched St. Paul turn into a police state. Infiltrated the Republican National Convention (or something like that). Realized I have no idea how to effectively tell a guy "Thanks, but no thanks." Finally caved to peer pressure and joined Facebook. Learned how to make a coffee cup of cake in the microwave.

October: Enjoyed a lovely fall weekend in the woods. Brought our pal Nabbalicious back to the Internet. Played the field a little bit. Photographed giant gourds and scary antique store finds with good friends.

November: For the third year in a row, posted every day for a damn month. Realized that writing about dating isn't nearly as fun when I force myself to do it daily. And hmm... I swear something else happened that month... What was it?... Oh yeah! Obama! Sigh.

December: Had fun with poll tools (and profile pictures). Fed my coworkers liberal cheese. Unintentionally insulted a man who had just bought me dinner. Spent another Christmas evening at the emergency room. (This time, to have my dad's frostbitten fingers reexamined. He is fine, but I fear a trend is starting. We could use some family traditions, I suppose, but can't the movie and Chinese buffet be our new tradition instead?)

Also, I saw 75 movies, went to 20 concerts and shows, and read a measly 12 books.

All in all, I suppose it was a fine year, soul mate or no. Scouring my archives to summarize all of that has taken considerably longer than I intended, however, and now it's high time to ditch the teacup-printed flannel pants and gray hoodie and get myself ready for tonight's New Year's Eve festivities. I hope everyone has a safe and happy evening. To reuse a joke that certainly never gets old, see you next year!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Clearly this post was just one more excuse to use that "Hobos" label.

Is it really Sunday night already? How did that happen? More important, is it really only four days until Christmas? Tell me, is my house the only one subject to time warps, or do you guys have that problem as well?

First, let's review what I did do this weekend. I did manage to...

  • Clean and ready my house for a Christmas party last night.
  • Shovel six inches of snow.
  • Host a holiday party for several of my friends.
  • Get pictures from said party online within 24 hours of the event.
  • Write my Christmas cards.
  • Eat my weight in guacamole and layer bars.
What I didn't do, however, was everything else on my list, including wrap my family's Christmas gifts, pack for my trip home this week, and answer the several neglected emails waiting in my Inbox. Oh. Also, I did not hear from the aforementioned Bachelor #3, despite that aforementioned last-date-of-the-year being, from my perspective, one of my best dates of the year.

That's right, folks; you heard me. I had a GOOD DATE. Or, I thought I did, anyway. Apparently either the two of us were on entirely different dates or my instincts are way, way off. It is frustrating and more than a bit disheartening and frankly I have little more I want to say about it than that. I actually liked this one, people. Really. I don't even know what to do with myself over that.

So it seems I will be ending 2008 just as I began it, which I suppose is fine, really. The single life usually agrees with me anyway. I have my own space and make my own schedule, and I celebrated my singlehood today by sending not at all husband-friendly pretty pink and brown glittery Christmas cards. I am now covered in glitter, as is my kitchen table, but all that sparkling should only serve to get me in the holiday spirit, don't you think?

But back to my party. It was a warm and festive evening in my cold but charming basement, and I think I can confidently say that a lovely time was had by most. Menu props go to The Pioneer Woman, who (unlike Bachelor #3) has yet to let me down thus far. I made her goat cheese with fresh dill and paprika rolls (which were fine but actually taste much better when the goat cheese you pay $10 for actually tastes like goat cheese and not like strangely tough Brie) and also her spicy molasses cookies, which happily were a much greater success than the unintentionally rock-hard molasses cookies I tried to make last year. Also, if you read Mighty Girl's post a few weeks ago and wondered, "Should I really put pears and pomegranate in my guacamole?" the answer is YES. Yes you should. I love avocado in nearly any form, but never has guacamole been so delicious.

Also, I received several excellent presents from my fabulous friends, including a knitting book with at least twelve patterns I want to make immediately, a lovely blue glass necklace, and a pair of knit wrist warmers that are much more awesome than the pair I was never going to get around to knitting myself. I am currently typing away in toasty-knuckled comfort just like a modern, techno-savvy urban hobo. Yay!

And with that, I'd best shut down and get some sleep, as the few hours I got after the last of my guests left in the partying-like-a-rock-star wee hours of the morning simply did not suffice. I'm looking forward to two short weeks in a row before the drudgery of January, with its gray bleak days and its cruelly long five-day work weeks, begins. If you are already on vacation until 2009, kindly suck it. I kid, I kid. That wasn't particularly warm-hearted and holiday-minded of me. Happy Christmas week, all.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Clearing the queue

This just in: It is cold. And snowing. I realize I live in Minnesota, but I've always sort of thought it was fair to get only one of those at a time. Also, the next time someone who claims to know how weather works says, on a sub-zero day, "It's too cold to snow," I will have to direct them, all Cliff Clavin-like, to this week, because this week, it has been sub-zero for three days in a row and I'm pretty sure it snowed at least a little bit on all three days. Take that, weather know-it-alls.

I promise I will stop talking about the weather now. How about I talk about something even more original? That's right: I had a date last night. Shocking, I know.

This particular date was with a man I'll call the Tiny Lawyer, for the probably obvious reason that he was both tiny and a lawyer. (I know, I know; I'm impossibly clever.) I suspected from his photos that he was the sort of 5'11" that actually means 5'9", but I chose not to worry about that, as he seemed smart and possibly endearing in a charmingly awkward way. Also, for the record, I am not implying that 5'9" automatically equates to "tiny." I am implying that 5'9" and small-framed enough to possibly be wearing a boy's sized suit equates to tiny. Is that fair? I am 5'9" myself, and my frame is decidedly not boy's sized, and while I would like to think I can be modern and open minded and not discriminate against date candidates based on body size, the fact is that if my jeans would be too big for you, there's a pretty good chance I'm just not going to feel comfortable dating you. Not that I want my boyfriend to wear my jeans. Or even try them on, for that matter. I'm really just digging myself farther and farther into this hole, aren't I? Did I mention I am tired? I am TIRED. So tired that I am suddenly trying to decide whether to rework this last paragraph to incorporate some reference implying that the the tiny, squeaky voiced lawyer may have come straight from a dress rehearsal of Oliver. Look at that. I did it anyway. Seriously, sooo tired. Really must get myself to bed here very soon.

Anyway, boy-sized or not, tinyness is not the reason our date was lackluster. He was perfectly nice; I was perfectly nice (mostly... more on that later); but it felt like we were both firing blanks. Nothing was really sticking for either of us. Conversation just never took off. It happens; it's nothing new, and I think we both went through the motions thinking we'd just complete the dinner transaction, say our goodbyes, and be off. Considering I had nothing particularly invested in the evening at that point, you might even think I could get through the whole date without saying anything particularly inappropriate or unintentionally offensive. Keyword: might think. But surely you know me better than that by now.

Apparently in some strict, truth-in-advertising-seeking space in my ever logical brain, I decided this height discrepency needed to be addressed. As we were both getting up to leave, I looked at him and I blurted out, "You are totally not 5'11", by the way."

The dude looked at me like I had just told him I had run over his cat or erased everything on his Tivo. "What? That's what my doctor says I am!" he cried defensively. At that point, of course, I should have apologized and let it go. I shouldn't have said something so unnecessary and foolish in the first place, so at this point, I should have said, "OK; you're right. You probably are 5'11". Sorry." Did I do that? Of course not. Instead, I directed his attention to the window above our table, a window that naturally becomes sort of a mirror in the darkness of night. I pointed to the window, where I could see both of us standing, our heads at such an equal height that I'm convinced you could have placed a carpenter's level from the crown of my head to the crown of his and the bubble would have floated squarely to the center spot between the two black lines. I looked at us in the window, and I pointed and said, "Look! I'm 5'9". There's no way you are two inches taller than me!"

I know, right? What was that I said just yesterday about me not needing a dating advice book? Wait. Scratch that. I still don't need a dating advice book. I just need to keep that mental goalie from falling asleep on the ice. This is nothing new.

So let's review. Tiny Lawyer asks me on a date. I accept; we meet for a casual dinner. He pays without any hesitation whatsoever, whipping his credit card out and handing it over before I can even reach for my wallet. I thank him by calling him short and a liar. To top things off, we walk into the sub-zero, snowy evening to find that he's received a $35 parking ticket while we were inside. This evening was obviously a win-win-win all around for Tiny Lawyer.

On the up side, at least *I* took some useful tidbits from the evening. For example, I learned how to remove a too-small ring from someone's finger using dental floss, and I learned the [Tiny Lawyer's name]'s Patent Pending Formula for DUI Charge Avoidance. Did I mention Tiny Lawyer is a criminal defense attorney? It's almost a shame this one isn't going anywhere, because I bet he has lots of interesting stories.

So. A week ago, I had three potential matches in "the funnel" (See? I did pick up something from that book. I've got some new terminology to use!) Last night was strike two. I have no interest in looking for any additional prospects during the next two rather busy holiday weeks, so Bachelor #3 is officially my last chance to declare that psychic Not a Crackpot and make good on this Year of Stef, "Finding my soul mate in '08" nonsense. Do I have high hopes? Not so much, particularly since Bachelor #3 has yet to send me the requisite message confirming and finalizing our plans, meaning I may actually strike out on the third try without ever even meeting the man. Naturally, of the three, this is the one I've felt most optimistic about, which makes it all the more maddening. Wish me luck.

And with that, it is officially entirely past my bed time. It is also entirely past the time when my programmable thermostat decides it's time to go into money-saving night mode, and as cold as it is this evening, I'll need to cut the fingertips off of a pair of gloves if I want to keep typing much longer. I hear my down comforter calling. I do hate to keep it waiting. I'm out.

Monday, December 15, 2008

You Lost Him at Hello

It really wasn't intentional, but obviously somewhere along the line, Stefanie Says must have become a dating blog. I suppose it's good to have a niche, a theme, but still, I can't help but wonder what I'll write about when I finally do start dating someone for any length of time again. (I am going to start dating someone again at some point, right? Maybe? Hmm.)

Anyway, given the number of dating-related phrases I see in my search engine hits, I suppose it should be no surprise that I was contacted a while ago to be part of the virtual book tour for Jess McCann's You Lost Him at Hello. Today is the day the tour stops here, so it's my turn to tell you what I thought of the book.

While I was compiling my thoughts, I decided to swing by the previous stops on the tour to see what other bloggers thought of this book. A lot of them started with a similar sentiment: "When I was asked to review this book, I was hesitant." It seems we're all a little leery of the self help genre, at least where dating is concerned. I'm glad I wasn't alone in my leeriness and skepticism.

I was probably predisposed to dislike this book, but I tried to go into it with an open mind. As with probably most self-help books, I knew not all of it was going to resonate or apply. But it never hurts to put yourself in a place where you're forced to think about what you're doing or not doing, to examine your own behavior and reflexes and try to look at your history in a different light.

The central premise behind You Lost Him at Hello is that the same tactics that work in sales will work in dating as well. From prospecting, to pitching and promoting your product, to ultimately closing the deal, what you do as a single woman trying to land a boyfriend or husband shouldn't be all that different from what you'd do to land a lucrative new account. It's an idea that actually makes some amount of sense. To sell something, you need to be confident and assured. You need to believe in your product (or at least successfully convince people that you do). You need to know when to apply pressure and when to back off. You need to frame your pitch in such a way that the customer doesn't feel "pitched to" at all.

In dating, of course, the product is you, and the most successful daters naturally are the ones who've mastered the art of presenting themselves in a way that keeps prospective boyfriends continually wanting more. The question is how to harness that sort of self-assuredness to use when you need it most.

Throughout You Lost Him at Hello, McCann offers numerous tips culled from her sales experience for finding prospects and keeping them interested. As with many self help books, a lot of it is common sense, but I recognize that for many of us, common sense goes straight out the window when we meet someone we're interested in, so seemingly obvious whacks on the head like, "Don't drink and dial" and "Don't give up the goods too soon" can be helpful and valuable reminders at times. She does offer some useful tips, such as casual icebreakers to use as opening lines so that a guy who's receptive to you can consider it an opener while one who isn't will simply take it as an innocent, innocuous question. And I did mark a few passages I found myself nodding in agreement with solidly. Passages like these:

"What makes a person like you has less to do with what you say and more to do with how you make them feel."
"The constitution of marriage is like a mixing bowl. People make the mistake of thinking that if they can just get the bowl, they will automatically get a cake. They don't realize that what you put into it is what you are going to get out of it. If you have the right ingredients, you will come out with a cake. But if you have the wrong ones, all you will get is a bucket of mess. The bowl itself doesn't matter."

Ultimately, though, I'm not convinced I'm the target audience for this book. In addition to the insightful passages I marked while reading, I also littered the margins of my copy with terribly thoughtful and intelligent comments like, "Duh" and "Who DOES this??" McCann talks a lot about women who get invested in a relationship too soon--who go on one date and decide they've found the love of their life, and immediately thereafter smother him or scare him away. Maybe there really are many women who do this, but I don't know any of them, and I certainly can't think of any recent time I've been one myself. My problem the past few years hasn't been finding a man who wants to keep dating me. Much more often it's finding one who *I* want to spend more time with. I suppose this only confirms what I've said numerous times in certain circles: when it comes to dating, I'm the guy. Perhaps I should read a self-help book on dating aimed at men. Maybe that would be the key for me. Wait. Do they even publish those? If so, where do I get on that tour?

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Never underestimate the appeal of a good bandwagon

Am I the last one Courtney tagged for the seven things meme to actually comply and post my seven things? Wait. Lemme check if Aaron's on that yet... Nope. Whew. I do hate to be last. (Hey, maybe that could be one of my seven things...)

Anyway, you're probably familiar with this game. I mention and link to the person who tagged me (Courtney, remember?), then I post a bunch of annoyingly demanding rules, type seven random things about myself, and tag seven people to do the same. I won't force any of you to do this, but if you haven't yet and want to, consider yourself tagged!

It is actually harder than it should be to come up with seven random things about myself that I haven't already told you. I have searched for and located the seven things I posted the last time I did this meme to ensure I'm not repeating any of those, but if you notice that any of the following are nestled away someplace else within my three and three-quarter years worth of posting, just give yourself a gold star for reading retention and cut me a break, OK?

All right. Here we go. Seven more random things about yours truly.

  1. Sometimes, at stores where the fitting room is manned (e.g., Target, New York & Co.), if I take a whole bunch of stuff into the fitting room and determine that I don't want any of it, I feel guilty for making the fitting room girl restock everything, so I give back all but only one or two items, pretending I'm going to buy those. Then I return them to the appropriate spot on the sales floor myself before I leave.

  2. I buy probably a disproportionate amount of my clothing at Target. I am not ashamed, however, particularly since the only people who know they are Target clothes are people who also buy their clothes at Target. I love being out at a bar or a theater and spotting some other girl in something I own and secretly saying to myself, "Target dress! I have that."

  3. I did not have a library fine for at least 16 years. In the past year, I have incurred three of them. I really want to believe that hording library books isn't the most reckless and irresponsible thing I've done all year, but I'll have to think on that to be sure.

  4. Somewhere in my much-outdated 100 Things list, I mention that my standby drinks are a hard cider or a Captain & Coke. I do not remember the last time I ordered either of those. For a period of at least a year, I tried to decide upon a new standby drink. I never did consciously and resolutely pick one, but in the mean time, I think red wine and gin & tonic became my two new standbys.

  5. My standby bring-along dish for parties is a pan of seven-layer bars. I didn't realize they were my signature until I heard a friend at a party once (who hadn't yet seen me come into the party) spy the seven-layer bars on the food table and say, "Oh! Stefanie must be here!" (Seven-layer bars, by the way, are delicious. They are also ridiculously easy to make. No matter the mild mocking; I don't think I'll be choosing a new standby bring-along any time soon.)

  6. For my entire life (save the five months during college when I lived in Scotland), I have lived in the upper Midwest. You may have heard that it's prone to snow in the upper Midwest. A lot, sometimes. Despite this fact, I have not owned a proper pair of snow boots perhaps since high school. (This will be remedied with my Christmas gifts this year, by the way. It's about damn time.)

  7. I saw a TV show once where a lawyer asked a woman in court what her earliest memory of her father was. "I'm on a bike and he's teaching me to ride," she answered immediately. I thought it was absurdly improbable that anyone would be able to identify their earliest memory so quickly and confidently, without a moment of, "Gee; that's a good question. Let me think on that..." first. Thereafter, I tried to determine what my absolute earliest memory is. For some reason, the one that sticks out is me, at three years old, walking around the play room at my nursery school, looking through a toy magnifier. I have no idea what my earliest memory involving my father is, however. Guess I'd better continue to think on that in case it ever comes up in court.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

As we all know, Obama won on the much-debated mozzarella platform.

Well then. I received more comments on that last post than I did on any post through all of NaBlo. This is not a news flash: people love to participate! God bless the geniuses who created polling tools for our blogs. Today I thought of at least three topics on which to poll you again. And then I realized that perhaps I should make some of my own decisions, instead of letting the Internet make them for me. Whatever. Who can I trust, if not the Internet? Clearly mob mentality is always the wisest, sagest choice.

That said, I was happy to see that the bulk of you agreed with me that it was, in fact, a shirt wiener that the boring man who will NOT be my next boyfriend was sporting. Most of you did not agree with my suspicion that it was intentional, but at least thus far zero percent of you have thought it was intentional and hilarious. Whew.

On to other topics, brought to you in bullet-point style, just the way the lazy and attention-deficit among us like them. Am I wrong?

  • I saw Australia last night, and because I still have not succumbed to the allure of Twitter, I instead thereafter changed my Facebook status to "Stefanie thinks that maybe Baz Luhrmann needs an editor." It's not so much that I didn't like it; it's just that it was absurd that there was so much of it. Within those three hours were at least three separate movies, but rather than pick one, Baz (can I call you "Baz"?) decided to cram together all three. I think the following quote from the reviews compiled at Rotten Tomatoes summed it up best:

    "You don't find many three-hour fairy tale love story war films about race relations featuring the ultra-competitive beef market in northern Australia. For good reason."

    I saw this one with my new friend (former boyfriend candidate) AW, who added that, "Nicole Kidman as the tough-but-dainty woman sophisticate in the cowboy frontier is a bit tired. Didn't she play that role in, like, five other movies?" I agreed with him, even though by "five other movies" I think he meant "Cold Mountain." I suppose when you find a type-casting that works for you, you go with it. Isn't that right, Jodie Foster? (Note: For that last link, special thanks go to my ridiculously astute memory for seemingly useless details, as well as the beauty of blog search boxes.)

  • Shockingly, I actually have two candidates in the Catch dot Mom queue at the moment that I'm feeling ever so slightly optimistic about. One of them answered my request that my match know the difference between "your" and "you're" by noting that he "not only knows the difference between 'your' and 'you're,' but 'YORE' as well." Be still my nerdy heart. The other one said, in response to my first email to him, that he could tell I was a writer before even looking at my profile, such was the fine craftwork of my message. Flattery will get you everywhere, sir. Or, it might, if you would actually write me back again. I fear that dating karma may in fact be biting me in the rear. I neglect to write back to a slightly "off"-looking guy I've entered preliminary communication with, and my payback is a similar slighting from someone I actually do want to meet. Sigh. Eventually interest will line up simultaneously, right? Let's cross our fingers on that, OK?

  • Meanwhile, I received another message from The Traffic Engineer today, asking if I'd like to see one of the Oscar-worthy movies out right now (Australia, perhaps? Thanks, but I already sat through that.) or check out a new restaurant some night. "I'd be up for it as a date or just friends," he says, but then added "My treat!" Oh, Nice Guy Who Does Nothing For Me... What am I to say to you? Incidentally, this was one of the topics I considered polling you folks on. I should probably just deal with it myself, though, right?

  • As you may or may not know (depending on whether you read any of the posts I submitted in the last days of NaBloPoMo, while the rest of you were off neglecting the Internet), my parents were here last weekend, and my father brought with him an absurd amount of cheese for my sister and me. I know he means well; I know that bringing things we do not need and cannot possibly use is just his way of saying he loves us and he's thinking about us and wants to provide for us in some strange, small way. But really. Family-sized bags of cheese curds, string cheese, and mozzarella whips for each of us? What would happen to my already squashy midsection (much less my digestive system) if I ate all of that? Not wanting it to go to waste, however, I portioned off a small share for myself to keep at home and I brought the rest in to work. Most of my coworkers were appreciative. Who doesn't like free cheese as a mid-day snack? Who except the adversarial young conservative who, when hearing from whence the mystery cheese in the kitchen came, spouted some wisecrack about it being LIBERAL cheese, and hoping that eating it wouldn't turn him Democrat. I assured him that the free cheese was actually purchased and provided by a Bush-supporting, Clinton-and-Obama-hating Republican, but I'm not sure it set his fears at ease. CHEESE, people. CHEESE is now political! Oh, when will the madness end?

    * Link provided for those of you not raised in Wisconsin. Sadly, I couldn't find a similar explanation for mozzarella whips (which are really just skinny string cheese; surely you can imagine that).

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

A teensy bit more whining about NaBlo, but then, a POLL! (You like polls, right? Of course you do.)

Hey strangers. Remember me? It feels like ages since I last posted, when in fact it was all of two days ago. NaBloPoMo will mess with your head that way. NaBlo will mess with your head and STILL give you no prizes. Third time's a charm? Not for this lady. I demand a recount on this "Year of Stef" business. I'm pretty sure this was actually someone else's year instead. Can I have another go in '09? No? I have to wait my turn again? Bollocks.

So. Given how quickly I lost steam and grew tired of my theme, you would think I would be DONE writing about dating for quite some time. Alas, you would be wrong, because waiting in my Inbox this morning was a wink from this fine gentleman!

Focus for a minute on the small strip of gray below his belt buckle and tell me what you see.

So? What say you? Has this grown man's mother sewed his name upon his pants, but overzealously placed the tag outside of his waistband rather than in? Is he wearing the Z. Cavariccis that he bought in 11th grade and the label is just a bit askew? Or did this man actually post on his Internet dating profile a picture in which his shirt is sticking out the fly of his pants?

I think you know my vote. I think you also know I love any excuse for a poll. Let's play!

It really is a wonder I'm still single; is it not?

Sunday, November 30, 2008

NaBloPoMoPleaseNoMo, Day 30. Wouldn't it be funny if I simply forgot to post today?

Last day of NaBlo '08, to which I say, "Whoo!" and also "Whew." Actually, truth be told, I didn't find the post-every-day nonsense all that hard this year, but I did find it a bit uneventful. A comparatively smaller number of my blog friends participated this year than in prior years, so there was to some extent the opposite of that "we're all in this together" feeling--which I suppose would be, more simply, an "I'm in this all alone" feeling, except that saying that discounts the efforts of the good people who did play along all month (Courtney, Mickey, Aaron, etc., represent).

I can't say I'm particularly proud of my showing in NaBlo this year. I know that the point of the experiment is simply to write--to get oneself in the habit of writing more often, to flex those muscles, to self-edit less, to allow oneself the freedom to post something that is utter crap, with the knowledge that something else will takes its place in top position the following day. But while there were a few posts this month that I'm genuinely happy with, there were several more that I wish I hadn't knocked out by force racing against the clock--posts that either wouldn't have seen the light of day had it not been for the constraints of NaBlo or that I would have at least put off for a while until I found the time to reflect and rework. Am I going to tell you which posts I'm proud of and which ones I realize were utter crap? Obviously no. Just wanted to put a disclaimer out there anyway.

All that out of the way, I hope everyone had a lovely long weekend. Me, I spent essentially the whole four days with my family, and while I realize I should deem that lovely and meaningful and cherish every moment as a memory in the making, in reality, I can't help but feel a bit cheated. I mean, a four-day weekend? And not more than a few hours of it to do with as I please? It hardly seems fair. I demand another full weekend as reimbursement for the unintentionally squandered previous one. That's not too much to ask, is it?

Approximately four hours of this squandered long weekend was spent driving to and from my sister's condo, which, as usual, became our "home base" for the weekend. It's all good and fine; I'd rather have my parents on her turf than mine anyway, although the drive to and from her place on the other side of Minneapolis did get a bit tedious after a while. Not only that, but each time I made that trip, I had to drive past the cross street where a failed meMarmony match lives, which set me to thinking about him once again.

This particular match was the one I had a whopping eight dates with back in early aught-seven (and the one I eventually decided was for some reason less appealing to me than a night alone with a bottle of wine and an unopened printer/scanner was). I've thought about that one lots of times in the year and a half since. I wonder sometimes if I give up on things too quickly, if I expect some knock-over-the-head magic right from the start and therefore don't give men the time to grow on me. With that guy, however, I want to believe I really did give things a chance. He was perfect for me on paper, after all. He was the ideal mix of down-to-earth guy with small-town roots vs. modern, urban sophisticate. The right mix of responsible vs. fun-loving. Intelligent vs. charmingly clueless. He was an MPR member and a Guthrie season ticket holder. He was very tall and reasonably good looking. He liked live music and new restaurants. He had a good job and more money than he knew what to do with. And unfortunately, I could not have a comfortable and easy conversation with him.

On each of our dates, there would be brief moments of promise--moments when I would say something that would make him laugh or he'd say something that would make me think, "All right! There's something in there worth continuing to dig for!" But I firmly believe that after 30+ hours with someone, those moments should be less the exception and more the norm. I kept hoping I was knocking bricks out of this wall of shyness, when in fact, maybe those rare moments of promise were just cracks in an impenetrable wall of awkwardness that I'd happened upon by chance.

Eventually I called it off, and he claimed to agree it was the right move. We emailed once or twice about nothing in particular in the months following, but never made plans to get together again. I do wonder about him from time to time, however--wonder if I made the wrong choice. Last summer, at a concert with 8,000 attendees, I wedged past a line of strangers waiting for beer tickets and unexpectedly found myself face three inches away from his face. We were both friendly, of course, and both entirely caught off guard, so we both sputtered little more than nonsense and small-talk niceties.

After driving past his apartment so many times this weekend, I decided to do a Facebook search for him, and lo, he has a profile now. One that's set to Public, even, meaning I could freely spy to my heart's content. I thought maybe I'd look at his photos and feel some twinge of jealousy, but in fact, the exact opposite happened. I saw the caption a friend of a friend of his put on a candid, obviously surprised-by-the-camera shot, and I heard the exact inflection of the meek and vapid, "uh, heh, hi" in his voice. Also, I saw heavily mascaraed and lip-glossed girls in slightly trashy outfits with their arms around him, and I thought, "Those are not my people. In fact, they are probably 'Woo girls,' and I am glad I'm not obligated by relationship association to hang out with them." In one, the album owner went so far as to type a baby-talk version of his name, and it nearly made me hurl just reading it.

So. Facebook addiction (and the inevitable resultant spying)? Not all that harmful, really. Except for the part where I'm finding out that all my college friends have apparently gone conservative. (Facebook status I want to use but will not, for obvious reasons: "Stefanie is wondering when all of her college friends became Republicans.") Oh, and that the girl who was my best friend for a good portion of high school but disowned me in a loud, angry, and unwarranted bar rant at a mutual friend's bachelorette party several years ago sort of looks like hell now and inexplicably wants to link to me as friends despite our falling out. But both of those are stories for another day. Or stories for no day, more likely. Seventeen minutes and counting until the end of NaBloPoMo '08. It's been real, but I am out.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Flattery will get you everwhere (except, apparently, on a date with me)

Good news, friends. My parents have been in town for 62 full hours, and no one has gotten into a fight yet. We have foolishly broached the subjects of both politics and religion, and nobody raised their voice or stormed off in a huff. It's a Thanksgiving miracle! I'm beyond shocked to give this report. Of course, the weekend is not over yet. I still have one dinner, one brunch, and an hour of church to get through. Wish me luck.

I do think it helps that my parents are hotel people. Having the freedom to retreat to our separate quarters at the end of the day to refresh is an important element in keeping the peace. Also, they did their own thing today while I did mine and my sister did hers, so we all got a few hours to ourselves. My parents spent theirs learning about gangsters in St. Paul; my sister went to a children's theater production with her new boyfriend and his kids; and I slept in, read for a bit, took a nap, watched a couple episodes of Joan of Arcadia on DVD, and napped again. Did I mention I've picked up my first cold of the year and feel like I've been hit by a truck? Not that I've ever actually been hit by a truck, mind you, but I'm sure you're familiar with the sentiment. So. Time with the family? (Time with anyone, actually?) Not feeling like my first priority at the moment. Bonding with my couch, a box of Kleenix, and a bottle of Tylenol feels far more important right now. Unfortunately, I do need to rally, get myself in the shower, and remain upright for the duration of the evening, through another dinner and perhaps another movie with all of them. How about I end every paragraph in this post with the sentence "Wish me luck"? Does that work for you? Great. Wish me luck, OK?

Since I've been talking about boomerang guys on the Internet, for today's date story I thought I'd tell you about a guy my friends know as The Traffic Engineer. The problem is, The Traffic Engineer doesn't really make for a very good story. There was nothing inherently wrong with him and nothing particularly absurd about either of our two dates. He was a perfectly nice man who I'm sure would make a perfectly nice husband for some perfectly nice woman out there. I mean, he did confess to dancing around in his living room when he's alone and to seeing the Artist Formerly Known as Prince no fewer than 50 times, but neither of those are deal-breakers, by any means. They were just two cooler-than-lukewarm dates, filled with safe, small-talky conversation, and I simply couldn't muster the energy to see it through to a third tepid date.

The Traffic Engineer must like tepid, though, because he has contacted me at least four times periodically in the two years since those uneventful dates. He emailed me to warn me about a construction project that was about to affect my commute to work. He emailed me to ask how my drive was going in the midst of that project. He emailed me after the 35W bridge went down, to ask me how the detours were working for me. And he emailed me again after the new bridge was built, to find out how happy I was to have it back. I'd presume that he was just using me as a hand-picked test sample, rather than polling a random populace, except that I doubt official and work-related traffic surveys end with "If you want to get together sometime, just let me know!"

Within the first week after I signed up for Catch dot Mom, I noticed The Traffic Engineer in my "Who's Viewed Me" list. He showed up in my "Who's Favorited Me" list as well, and a week or two later, he emailed me. He was as gracious and flattering as ever. After I sent a cordial response to his first "just saying hello" message, he ended his next reply with "Good to hear from you, and hopefully you are being overwhelmed right now with tons of e-mails from intelligent and handsome guys." I am not, of course, but I thought it best not to bother sending him another reply telling him so.

As I mentioned recently, Catch dot Mom is now doing some strange and confusing "Daily Five" thing, where they will send you five profiles you might not have seen yet, accompanied by a set of "Yes," "No," and "Maybe" buttons to give you one more way to passively say you do or do not like the look of someone, without actually stepping up and initiating any communication yourself. The Traffic Engineer must have seen me in his list of five recently, because I got an email telling me that he'd clicked that "Yes" button, indicating I'd caught his eye and he's interested in me. Really, Traffic Engineer? Really? You had to click the "Yes" button on that?

I give the man points for persistence, of course, but his dedication feels so misplaced that I can't help but find it a little sad. I want to believe he's followed up with the same fervor with other long-gone meMarmony matches as well. Any other explanation is too strange to wrap my head around. If I honestly were that captivating, surely I could have harnessed that by now to use at will. Wish me luck with that. Someday.

Friday, November 28, 2008

The Scientist

Unsurprisingly, I spotted yet another guy I've already dated on Catch dot Mom. This time, it was The Scientist. Remember him? I actually liked that one! No! Really! I mean, sure, he was so buttoned up and pragmatic that I don't know whether he ever would have kissed me (fear of germs or something, probably), but I genuinely enjoyed talking to him, and my second (of three) dates with him was the first follow-up date I found myself looking forward to and nervous about in a long, long while.

The Scientist was actually the original reason I posted a profile on the site I used for a brief period last winter. I had been browsing but not making myself visible, but when his profile was sent to me in an email update, I decided I had to post something so I could contact him. In the past few weeks, I've shared a some profiles that did not win me over. Are you at all curious what one that does win me over looks like? In this case, it was something like this:

Why You Should Get to Know Me
Since there is the risk of this turning into a list, I decided to go with a list: I am a nerd. I open doors for women. I've lived in foreign countries. I dance. I don't own a TV. I've lived on farms and in major cities. I like obscure words and phrases that were last fashionable in the 1920s. I'm trying to learn cross-country skiing, but the weather has not cooperated. Of course, now that there's snow, my ACL isn't cooperating. I'm incapable of flirting. I'm immune to commercials. Sometimes I have a beard. I'm a realist and a romantic. I'm quiet but not shy. I've seen the entire Ring cycle live. (That's Wagner, not Tolkien.) I've never been arrested. I know why the sky is blue.

More About What I Am Looking For
Another list: Independent, practical, elegant, frugal, conversational, lithe, patient, confident, wears sensible shoes, plebeian, an equal, honest, direct, humorous, eclectic, tall, and well-read.

All right; I'm not much of a dancer, and I not only own a TV but am unashamed by my relatively high pop culture proficiency, but regardless, I thought that profile was written by a nerd after my own heart. I'm both a realist and a romantic! I'm independent and practical (almost to a fault)! I'm conversational and reasonably confident! Humorous? Many people think so... Honest and direct? Check, double-check. Also, the day I read that profile, I was wearing extremely sensible Danskos, and the album I'd listened to on my way to work was the same one he mentioned for the "In my CD player right now..." question. I had to contact this guy, right?

The Scientist took longer than most men to say "enough with the idle emails; we should meet for a drink." Even before we met in person, he warned that he wasn't sure he was in a dating place. Recovering from an injury; swamped at work; blah blah blah. "But your profile does stand out, so I don't think I can afford to ignore it," he said. We finally met for drinks one night.

I had little idea what The Scientist looked like before I met him. The pictures he'd posted were blurred and tiny; I was taking a leap of faith hoping I'd be attracted to him at all. Also, he was so serious in his emails. Would he have any sense of humor in person?

It's become somewhat fashionable now to call oneself a nerd. It seems we earn hipster cred by claiming to have been an awkward outcast in our youth. The Scientist was a nerd in the true and original sense of the word, however (I wouldn't have been surprised if he'd had mismatched socks and a pocket protector). His hair could have used some product; his wardrobe and glasses definitely needed an update. But he had a kind face and warm eyes, and he embraced his nerdery with confidence. Unlike Sheep Testicles Guy, who overcompensated for his presumably unpopular years with unjustified overconfidence and ill-timed humor, The Scientist had managed to hone some social graces. I immediately liked talking to him.

I've often thought that my ideal man is someone a bit different from me. I don't necessarily subscribe to the philosophy that opposites attract, but I do see the value of balance, of being with someone who's a little edgier than I, who nudges me out of my comfort zone from time to time and shakes up the snow globe I'm quietly resting in, forcing me to look at things a little differently somehow. That said, there's something so at ease and familiar about connecting with someone as pragmatic and structured as I often am, who doesn't question why I'm entertained or fascinated by strange minutia because he's just as analytical about small things as I. Maybe it would have been boring and fruitless in the long run, but for a moment, it felt like coming home.

I read once that what draws us to someone most isn't as much about the traits that person has as about how you feel about yourself when you're with that person, and I've always agreed with that. I can be an awkward dork, but I amuse myself easily. I need to be with someone who's amused by me as well. Five minutes into my first date with The Scientist, I suspected he was. I don't even remember what I said the first time I put my foot in my mouth on that date, but I know I looked at my watch and said, "Huh. It took me only five minutes to say something potentially inappropriate." The Scientist didn't miss a beat. He cracked a sideways smirk and asked, "New record for you, is that?" Also, there was the Venn Diagram of Snobbery. Would that line have been well-received on just any date? Likely not. I honestly had a good feeling about this one for a bit.

So what happened? On the record, it went back to what he'd told me from his first emails. Busy with work. Stressed about the grant that would determine if his department could pay his salary the next year and hence, if he'd even be able to stay in Minneapolis. All valid excuses, perhaps, but I suspect it also came down to that now-famous adage: simply put, as Carrie Bradshaw's boyfriend told Miranda, he was just not that into me. There's a very good chance that, given a bit more time, I wouldn't have been that into him, either, but at the point where he slowly faded away, I was still up for giving it a try.

Apparently his department did get to keep him, because The Scientist is back online. I actually clicked on him in my search results accidentally, not recognizing him from the new but equally bad and blurry picture he's using now. His new profile is decidedly less charming; I doubt he would have sparked my interest at all given the words he's using to promote himself these days. Or maybe that's just what I'm telling myself, because my slightly bruised ego wanted him to see me online and say "Hey, you're still single? I have time for you now!" Nope. I'm sure that's not it. Round Two rarely ever works any differently from Round One (I say based on the one and only time I've attempted a re-do). So let's just say I dodged a bullet with a Boring Guy. Let's go with that, OK?

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Admittedly rushed, "phoning it in" NaBlo post, but shouldn't you all be talking to your family rather than playing on the Internet anyway?

Whoops. As usual, I have frittered away what seemed like plenty of time on several valid tasks such as cleaning my house prior to my parents seeing it, working out prior to Thanksgiving day binging, and sitting around prior to... well, nothing really. I just can't seem to stay on task ever without at least a little bit of mindless sitting around in between.

Anyway, so now I am officially late and have officially left my sister to entertain my parents for a full hour without my help. I'd best be off. More later, perhaps, if this whole family togetherness thing gets me home before midnight. (Fingers crossed.) Meanwhile...

Happy Thanksgiving, all!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Let them (and by them, I mean ME) eat pie

I don't think it's too far an exaggeration to say that my family's last Thanksgiving was a national tragedy. Seriously, people. Is Thanksgiving not the one holiday that, above all others, truly is about the food? Yes, yes, there is that whole "giving thanks" and family togetherness thing and all that. But really, honestly, it is about mashed potatoes and yams and pumpkin pie, right? I mean, without two kinds of potatoes and pie, is there really any reward or payback for enduring the "family togetherness" part of the deal? I think you see my point.

I come from a long line of non-cooks, however. (You thought it was just me? No, we've covered this before; it goes back at least two generations prior.) I have no memories of a large, extended family all gathered around the table for a home-cooked meal. For holidays, we have always been restaurant people. It's not so bad, really. There's always plenty of mashed potatoes in the buffet pan, and we typically have a whole table of desserts from which to select. Plus--bonus!--no dishes! No leftovers either, mind you, but I'll take the lack of cleanup over lack of extra calories, thank you very much.

In the last few years before my grandma's death, however, she became strangely antisocial. We could still come to see her on Thanksgiving, but she didn't want to go out to eat. So last year, we did the same thing we've done the past few Christmases (the one holiday when even restaurants are closed). Brace yourselves if you weren't around last November and therefore haven't heard this story yet. We had day-old takeout from KFC.

I'll just let that sink in for a minute. Day-old takeout from KFC. On Thanksgiving.

Seriously, you're thinking about shipping me a proper Thanksgiving dinner right about now, aren't you? But wait. It gets even worse. The one saving grace among the reheated chicken and rubbery day-old biscuits was to be the dessert. I may not have had stuffing and sweet potatoes, but I was still going to have pumpkin pie, at least! Pie! But no! My mother brought apple, instead. An apple pie from her church's fundraiser. An acceptable substitute, perhaps, except that it was from the previous year's fundraiser. It was chewy and freezer-burned and all-around terrible.

So last Thanksgiving, while all of you were enjoying turkey with homemade potatoes and all the other various fixings, I had day-old KFC and freezer-burned year-old pie.

I do realize, of course, that this still puts me within a fortunate class. Some people don't have any Thanksgiving dinner. Blah blah blah. Some people don't have the Internet either. I'm not focusing on economic hardships right now.

This year, things will be different. Still no one's cooking, but we will be having a meal deli-made by the experts at our local upscale grocery chain. And there will be pie, dammit, because I will be baking and bringing it.

Of course, making that pie is one of the approximately 17 things I need to do between now and when my parents arrive in town sometime within the next six hours. Keeping myself from dropping out of NaBlo in the final days was on that list as well. Now that that's taken care of, however, it's on to the really important tasks: having drinks with my urban family to fortify myself for the next four days with my real one. Wish me luck! Oh, and happy Thanksgiving, to everyone in these here United States. And a very pleasant Thursday to those of you everywhere else.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Just priming myself for the Thanksgiving gorging, it would seem

Hello, friends. Do you know what makes for some really good blogging? Starting every post for a solid week with an apology for not posting about what you think you're supposed to be posting about. (Note to self: If you're determined to stick to a theme for NaBlo, pick a theme you are certain you'll want to write about for thirty days consecutively.)

I do have a few more date stories that I'm working on getting out before the month is through, and if I finish one of them tonight, it might actually be a two-post day. (You're welcome or I'm sorry, depending on your feelings on that.) Meanwhile, however, I have another public service message for you. Unfortunately, I cannot decide if this message should be a recommendation or a warning. Many of you know Jess. Do you know about her occasionally updated recipe blog? If so, then perhaps you have tried her Thai Coconut Chicken. Yes? No? (Note to Liz and Noelle: I know you would eat neither chicken nor the shrimp I'm about to tell you I use in this recipe instead. In lieu of reading the next two paragraphs, perhaps you want to go play the next round in the Facebook Scramble game to which I challenged you instead?)

As I think I've mentioned once or fourteen times, I very rarely take the time to make anything that might be deemed an official home-cooked meal, and when I do, it is such a novelty that it's even more rare I make the same recipe twice. This Thai coconut chicken, however? I have made that no fewer than five times since Jess posted the recipe in July, and it is no less delicious every time. I usually substitute pre-cooked frozen shrimp for the chicken and cilantro for the basil, but I have done it Jess's way too and it was still a success.

Why is this a warning as well as a recommendation? Because if you are anything like me, this four-serving recipe at 8 WW points per serving will actually become more like two servings. And then, after your double-sized serving, you will finally scoop up the leftovers out of the pan and into an IKEA food storage container and safely stash it away in the fridge, out of sight. But lo! An hour later, you will remember that damn, that Thai coconut shrimp sure was good, and maybe I should have just another forkful or so? And you will take the IKEA food storage container out of your fridge and discover that--oh no!--it is damn near as delicious cold as it was hot straight out of the pan. And then you will feel like calling Jillian Michaels to apologize because you're well aware that this is NOT the sensible eating plan she encourages as part of the 30-Day Shred that you're attempting because the Internet told you to.

If, like me, you also happen to have your own personal housecall-making ice cream man, keeping you entirely more stocked than necessary with Ben & Jerry's pumpkin cheesecake ice cream, well, then, you might as well just give up any hope of wearing a bikini in public ever again. And this after you just discovered you'll be awarded a free trip to Mexico with all your coworkers come winter. What's better than vacationing with coworkers? Vacationing in swimsuits with coworkers! Hoorah! I think it goes without saying that this is wholly a mixed blessing.

Yes, I am going to Mexico with my coworkers for four days this February. That is something that perhaps I could write about, but I think perhaps doing so might be cause for pulling out that "Things I shouldn't blog about" category once again.

Speaking of things I shouldn't blog about, do you remember last year, when I blogged my fake answers to the 15-year high school reunion questionnaire I did not submit? I sort of feel like doing that with the questions I'm supposed to submit prior to my annual performance review tomorrow. That would definitely fall under the category of "Things they could fire me for if my employer ever found out about this blog," however, so instead I think I'll just let all of YOU guess what my goals for the next five years might be and how my employer might make themselves a more enjoyable place to work. Have at it!

Monday, November 24, 2008

As I've said before, the only reason I'm not a pro at this yet is that I'm maintaining my amateur status so I can date in the Olympics

Well then. Five days in a row I have abandoned my promise of a date story a day for NaBlo, and I still haven't thought of any particularly interesting or amusing stories I've not yet shared. Mind you, I'm confident I could troll through my archives to recycle something, but that feels like cheating, doesn't it? (Yes, I am conveniently ignoring the fact that I actually have done that with more than one story this month.) So much for picking a theme that was sure to carry me all the way through NaBloPoMo.

How about another quick installment of Guys I Won't Be Dating? Today's entry comes to us from the northern suburbs, and in addition to knowing his way around the English language, he comes with the added bonus of not even being quite single yet. (His status says, "Currently Separated." Um, thanks but no thanks.) What else does he have to say for himself? Let's see, shall we?

About me and who I'm looking for:
well they should be understanding and willing to put up with me. i am not perfect i am looking for someone who is able to laugh at life and who knows there way around a nice dinner. if you like walks and listening to the geese we might be able to find things that we have in common

Tell me, what woman wouldn't want to listen to the geese while cooking for this man? But wait! There's more! Let's take a look at his answers to the rest of the stock-standard profile questions...

For fun:

Favorite hot spots:

Favorite things:
tv, food

Last read:
the last question

OK. So he does not have fun, does not leave the house, has a problem with specificity, and does not read. I know how you guys feel about the non-readers, so I trust that part is the only reason you do not want me to contact him, right? I thought so.

I do get a medal for this at some point, right? I sure hope so.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

There's a reason I'm not a film reviewer, it seems

So. You are probably wondering what I thought of Twilight, right? What do you mean, "Not really"? OK, the five of you who also saw Twilight this weekend are maybe wondering what I thought of it. And I'm curious what the five of you thought as well.

Me? Eh. I don't know. It sort of felt disjointed and rushed. I realize it's not easy to cram 500+ pages into a two-hour movie while remaining true enough to the tiny details of the plot to keep the preteen uber-fans happy, but I couldn't help thinking that the whole thing had been pieced together from a handful of key events in the book, minus the context or buildup around any of those events. I'm not sure it would have stood up on its own, had I (and seemingly everyone else in the sold-out theater with me) not already read the book.

It sort of reminded me of the Angry Alien "Bun-o-Vision" production of It's a Wonderful Life in 30 seconds, re-enacted by bunnies. [Are you not familiar with that web phenomenon? Go ahead. Take half a minute to watch it. I'll wait. And incidentally, woah. The bunnies have been busy since the last time I visited their site. Their library has grown! They've now got Office Space! Sixteen Candles! March of the Penguins! (My two-cents: If you haven't yet seen that last one, save yourself the time and just watch the 30-second recap instead.)]

I was trying to decide what the 30-second Bun-o-Vision recap of Twilight would actually look like, when I realized there's a note on the site saying that title is next up for them to create. Whoo! I'm sort of more excited to see that than I was to see the full-length film on the big screen. I have short-term memory problems when it comes to this sort of thing, however. Someone remind me to go back in a few months and look for it, OK?

I'm guessing the 30-second recap of Twilight won't be all that different from the two-hour version, though. I think it'll go something like this:

Bella: My mom got remarried, so I'm moving from Phoenix to Forks, to live with my dad. I'm pretty sure it's going to suck.

Bella: A big, beat-up old truck? Cool! Oh, hi Jacob. Yeah, I think I remember you.

Every boy at Forks high school: Hey, Arizona. You're pretty. Lemme show you to your next class. Oh, and will you go to prom with me?

Every girl at Forks high school: All the boys like you, so I guess we'd better be friends with you. Oh. Those are the Cullens. They're impossibly beautiful, but way weird. Don't talk to them.

Bella: Why does Edward Cullen hate me? What did I do to him? Do I smell?

Edward: I'm sorry I was rude to you. I love you. Watch me keep a van from crushing you, but don't ask me how I did it. Did I mention I love you?

Jacob: The Cullens don't come here. They're the cold ones. We're descended from wolves.

Bella: What?

Jacob: Yeah. I know. It's just a silly story. You're pretty. Let's talk about something else.

Edward: I can read minds. Not yours, though. It's fairly maddening.

Bella: I've figured it out.

Edward: Say it. Say the word!

Bella: Vampire!

Edward: Are you scared?

Bella: No.

Edward: You should be.

Bella: I fall down a lot. See that? Whoopsie.

Edward: It really is a lot of work looking after you. Did I mention I watch you sleep at night? Also, look! I'm all sparkly.

Bella: You're beautiful! It's like diamonds!

The Cullens: There's a storm coming. Let's play baseball! Uh oh. We've got visitors.

James: You brought a snack.

The Cullens: The girl is with us.

James: But she's a human! I must have her!

Edward: Never!

James: We'll see about that.

Edward: I WILL make you safe again, Bella! If it takes hiding you away in a hotel room with my pretend sister and her husband/pretend-brother, only to have you run away from them because a vampire tricked you into thinking he had your mother, so that I then have to rush in and rip him to shreds while you bleed on the floor of your old ballet studio, I WILL make you safe again!

Bella: And then we'll go to the prom?

Edward: Yes. Alice will loan you a dress.

Bella: Neato. I love you.

Edward: I love you more.

Victoria: This film better make enough money to warrant a sequel, because I've got some revenge to seek.

And... scene. Tell me: what did I inadvertently leave out?

Saturday, November 22, 2008

I know this is a strange excuse for a post, but gimme a break; it's Saturday

Male readers, you'll have to excuse me for a minute. I have a question for the women in the house. Ladies, tell me something. Do you actually wash your makeup brushes regularly, or are you of the school of thought that the brushes you use on your face are contaminated only by your own face and hence, any residue gunked up on those bristles can live in perfect harmony with your skin?

I was in that third camp myself up until about a year and a half ago, when I joined the mineral foundation cult and bought the Bare Escentuals starter pack. And it occurred to me only a couple of weeks ago, when I stopped to wonder why my forehead was suddenly breaking out for no good reason, that perhaps there actually was a good reason. Perhaps the brushes I swipe onto my face every single day have, in the year and a half I've been using them, become a science experiment of sorts.

It was probably a paranoid thought as usual, but it grossed me out anyway. So the last time I was at Ulta, I picked up some brush cleaner, and this afternoon I finally got around to using it. Because I am a great big dorky rule-follower, I read the instructions. Actually, scratch that. Maybe I don't read instructions because I am ridiculous or over-cautious; maybe I read them because, as a technical writer, it's a professional courtesy. Yeah. Let's go with that. Of course, as a technical writer, I'm in the best position to critique and be irrationally annoyed by instructions that make little to no sense. To wit...

DIRECTIONS: Apply a dime-sized amount of shampoo directly onto dampened brush and massage with fingers under running water...

NOTE: Always make sure brushes are completely dry prior to application.

It's not just me, right? You guys see a problem here as well? Maybe I should look up "dampened" in the dictionary. Perhaps our pals at M Dubs have changed the meaning of "dampened" to something that would correlate with "completely dry."

Obviously I like to tackle the big issues here at Stefanie Says. Next up: "Lather, rinse, repeat. It's not an endless loop!"

NaBlo 2008: Eight days and counting. We'll get through this together; I swear.

Friday, November 21, 2008

I swear I was kidding when I said I've already dated every guy in the Twin Cities. Sioux Falls, I don't need you just yet!

OK. Guy who sent me the grateful and enthusiastic "You favorited me!" message? VANISHED. "This profile is no longer available," it says, where his face used to be. Excuse me? Now I am not only driving men away before they meet me, but driving them away from an entire date-meeting venue as well? Fabulous!

Truthfully, it's a bit of a relief. Anyone who spends the entire first paragraph of his dating profile talking about how he wasn't initially sure he was ready for a dating profile probably still isn't ready for a dating profile and hence, probably isn't someone I need to meet. Had we actually met, I think I would have had to give him some likely unsolicited advice and recommend that he omit that paragraph immediately. Maybe that's why I inexplicably favorited him. Maybe I thought I was going to start some fun game where I email men on Catch dot Mom just to tell them what's wrong with their profile. That's a sure way to win friends and date people; is it not?

Also, recently I've noticed my profile has been viewed by an inordinate number of men in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. That seems entirely too localized to be simply a fluke, which means it was probably an error on Catch dot Mom's part and they mistakenly included my profile in a mailing to men in that region. The other option, of course, is that one of YOU lives in Sioux Falls and decided to find a way to pimp me out to all your single male acquaintances. Come on; fess up. Who was it? And couldn't someone in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area do that instead?

All right. I know I've strayed from my NaBlo theme more times than not this week, but I will get back to some actual date stories again soon, I think. Meanwhile, I have a date with a teenaged vampire (an opening-night ticket to Twilight, that is), so I'd best be off. Happy weekend, all.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Is it December yet?

Do you know what? I think I'm actually running out of dating stories. Wait. Scratch that. It would take me FAR more than a month to run out of dating stories. I have only run out of funny or alarming dating stories. Or so it seems at the moment. I'm sure I'll think of more eventually. Meanwhile, a few Catch dot Mom updates...

  1. My tactic of adding someone to my "Favorites" list in the hopes that he will see I have my eye on him, read my profile, decide I am fantastic, and email ME first so that I don't have to initiate contact myself has finally worked! This morning I received a message with the subject line, "You favorited me!" Unfortunately, when I looked at his profile, I remembered reading it before, but I did NOT remember why I clicked that "Favorite" button. He is NOT my favorite. Was I drunk? (It's possible, I suppose...)

  2. The reruns trend continues. A lanky hipster furniture designer just clicked some button or other to indicate some mild level of interest in me (that was vague, I realize, but I don't understand this dumb new "Daily 5" thing Catch dot Mom is doing, and if I don't understand it, then surely those of you who've never ventured into this nonsense won't either). Anyway, so he indicated some type of interest (whatever saying "I'm interested" from the Daily 5 list actually means). That's all well and good; I'm flattered and all that. But I distinctly remember attempting to communicate with this same lanky hipster furniture designer on meMarmony a while back, and he did NOT reply. What gives, lanky hipster? I'm perplexed.

  3. I just expanded the age range for my search parameters by two years and guess who else popped up in my results? This guy. You know... the one who clearly must live at my neighborhood Target store, given the ease and frequency with which I run into him there? I could send him a wink, just to be funny. Who knows? Maybe we'd actually hit it off better this time around. Then again, why confine ourselves to the mysteries of online communication? Surely we'll see each other at Target again any day now. (Note to self: wash your hair.)

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

So. Um, you come here often?

After nearly three years of periodic rounds on various dating sites, I've realized this city is small. Perusing profiles feels a bit like a strange virtual reunion of sorts. "Oh! You again. I remember you..." Sometimes it's a guy I was matched with but never met from meMarmony. "Well hello, there, MNDude71. I know you! Your real name is Eric, and you're a lawyer!" Other times it's just a guy whose profile I've seen every single time I've done a search in the past four years. "Hey. It's the outdoorsy, red-headed Minnetonka guy again. He's STILL here? What's wrong with him? Oh. Right. Same thing that's wrong with me, apparently." Once, a couple of weeks ago, it was a guy I immediately recognized as another contender in the drunken spelling bee last winter. I've actually seen that guy at various venues and events no fewer than four times total in the months since. Talked to him a couple of times, too, although he seemed utterly uninterested in talking to me. Should I let that stop me from contacting him on Catch dot Mom? Nonsense! Surely it's a sign we were meant to meet!

This just in: there are no signs. Not in my life, anyway. The universe rarely cares what I do. Spelling bee guy did write back to me, but did so about as shortly and evasively as when we spoke face-to-face several months ago. Lesson learned, then. Moving on.

Frankly, I think I lost interest in the search process almost as soon as my "paid subscriber, with email privileges" status was enstated. So lately I've been looking only at the guys Catch dot Mom sends me via email every few days. Basically I quit meMarmony and I'm still letting a computer pick who I look at rather than doing the hunting myself. Is it really any surprise I'm too lazy to try Craig's List?

At least meMarmony never sent me the same profile more than once. SERIOUSLY, "Sunnyguy" in the southeast metro, I am NEVER GOING TO CONTACT YOU. Ahem. Sorry about that. I'm sure Sunnyguy doesn't even know Catch dot Mom has repeatedly tried to force himself on me, and I'm sure Catch dot Mom doesn't know that I already rejected Sunnyguy on their sister site just two months ago. Still, when I opened my "Check out your new matches!" message today, I actually groaned and said out loud, "They're all reruns this time!"

It's almost as if I'm making a hobby of this, isn't it? I couldn't just take up basketweaving instead?

The downside of this, of course, is the paranoia that sets in when I imagine all the men surely recognizing me in their searching as well. Surely they would not be mocking me the same way I do them? Nonsense. Things like that never work in reverse, right? RIGHT?

It turns out I have been seen by a few men who recognize me, though. Two of my former meMarmony dates have already emailed me, saying, basically, "Fancy running into you here." I like to hope the fact that they were both fully cordial with their seemingly genuine well-wishing means I'm not as bad at the "I'm just not feeling it" speech as I think I am. I mean, this dude obviously isn't going to send me any happy thoughts via "talkmatch" mail (er, "talkcatch"? I thought perhaps that one would be taking the aliasing too far...), but I still hardly think that is my fault.

Today's NaBlo date story was going to be about one of those two past meMarmony dates, but you know what? I have already rattled on long enough for one night (particularly a night 19 days into this post-every-day thing), and I very much think I should at least try to get off the computer and into bed before 11:00 at least one night this month. So consider that the pre-story to tomorrow night's post. Boomerang guys at eleven. Or something like that.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


Randy was one of the few men on last week's list of meMarmony failures and other misadventures whom I did not meet online. People used to warn me to be careful with online dating; you never know who you can trust. Randy reminded me that it doesn't matter where you meet someone; weirdos and so-called "normal" people are everywhere, and it's really a crapshoot when or where you'll find either one.

Also, Randy's name wasn't really Randy. In the list, I used his real name, and if you read my italicized commentary there, you can probably figure out which name this post is about. But when I was digging through old emails tonight trying to remember exactly all the things that terrified me about Randy, I remembered there were several things that initially charmed me as well. I also remembered that he sent a very genuine and remorseful-sounding apology after our second and final date. It wasn't enough to make me overcome my reservations and actually tell him where I lived, but I appreciated the gesture anyway. So for this post, Scary Guy's name is Randy. That is my possibly inadequate way of absolving myself from the guilt of outing by real name someone who was maybe actually a decent guy at heart.

I met Randy at a free outdoor concert (one of my favorite things about Minneapolis in the summertime). He told me later that he'd seen me from afar and carefully calculated which friend of his to bring over to distract the friend I was with so that he could talk to me, and which backhanded compliments or borderline insults to use to get us just riled up to make things lively without actually outright offending us. It wasn't a typical approach, and it was even less typical to confess he'd used it. I was intrigued by his honesty. I was also intrigued by his vocabulary. The guy may have been an idiot in the long run emotionally or socially, but I can't deny that he was whip-smart.

He called me the next day and insisted we go out for drinks that night. It was about 97 degrees that weekend, and I'd had big plans to lie in front of a fan in my living room for hours, staring at the TV while I tried to move as little as possible, but eventually I agreed to take a shower and actually leave my house instead. We had already had a fairly lively phone conversation, and I thought maybe for once it would be a date where I actually had fun. Also, he had begun quizzing me on likes, dislikes, and various life experiences in order to properly file them into a Venn diagram to determine our compatibility, and I was convinced the result would be either hilarious or frightening. I had to see how he executed it to be sure.

I wish I could remember more of what was in that Venn diagram. I know Taco Bell as a guilty pleasure was in the intersecting portion; the fact that I liked to read was in the outer circle. That I had only sisters was a strike against me (which made little sense, seeing as he had only brothers himself), but the fact that we were both middle children was a plus. In all, the Venn diagram ended up not being any sort of deciding factor. No, despite the few lovely reasons I saw to continue getting to know him (numbers 1, 2, and 4 of the first list in this post, for instance), there were also plenty of reasons NOT to proceed any further. Namely, these.

Bear in mind I went on only two dates with Randy. And yet, in the course of those two dates and the time spanning between them, this man...

  • Told me never to cut my hair.

  • Or to stop wearing glasses.

  • Said he probably wouldn't be attracted to me anymore if I did either of the above, and even if he were, he wouldn't be happy about it.

  • Asked me to change my e-mail display name from "Stefanie" to "Stef" (the two are very different names with different connations, he claimed, and he much preferred I be a "Stef" than a "Stefanie").

  • Sent me 13 consecutive replies to a single email (all during the one-hour span I was at lunch), each with just a single question or comment inside.

  • Told me that most men would probably like only about 70% of who I am. Said that he liked 90%, but rather than accept that as a pretty good number, suggested we work on the 10% he didn't like instead.

  • Got slurred-speech, sloppy drunk on our first and second (a.k.a. last) date.

  • Took a cab to our first date seemingly intending to get sloppy drunk, and then asked me to drive him to the club where his friends were before I went home.

  • Called me after midnight on a week night to tell me he had just been on a date with a girl who wants to be a technical writer and wondered if I'd have any advice for her.

  • Showed me pictures of the last two women he'd gone on dates with (pictures taken during those dates). Didn't understand why I wouldn't let him take my picture ten minutes later.

  • Talked repeatedly about his ex, but got near-violently angry when I mentioned mine merely in passing (in the context of a not-relationship-related story).

  • Told me he was not ready for a relationship at the moment, and made sure I knew he was actively dating. Told me I could date too, but he didn't want to hear about it at all.

  • After walking me to my car and already saying good night, asked, as his final, parting words, whether I like p*rn.

I'm sure there was more, but I remember that last one being the final straw in my head, the mental door slamming shut with a quick, "OK, aaaaannnd, we're done here."

Too hasty? Tough call, right?