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?

Monday, November 17, 2008

Maybe I won't die alone (but if I do, it might be because of Judgy McMeanspirited rants like this)

Well then; would you look at that. Another day of NaBlo; another post going in just under the wire. And on a week night no less. I really ought to try sleeping a proper and sufficient number of hours one of these nights just to see if it's at all possible for me to wake up at 6:30 feeling anything close to well rested. One of these nights. Not tonight, clearly.

Tonight my favorite coworker and I went downtown to see Ingrid Michaelson at the Pantages. I believe it was my coworker's second trip to Minneapolis in eight years, but she was happy to visit the big shiny city with me anyway. I sort of wish that for just a minute or two, I could see myself the way my coworker sees me. For some reason, she genuinely thinks I am an extremely hip, stylish, modern girl about town, and it amuses me no end. I have no idea where she got this impression, although I suppose that in our office full of middle-aged suburban white men, it's safe to say I probably am among the five hippest people in the group. That's sort of like noticing that I'm one of the five skinniest people at Old Country Buffet, though. It's really not a representative sample.

Anyway, we had a lovely time at the show. There were two opening acts, both of whom I would highly recommend checking out should you happen to notice they're coming to your town. We missed all but the last two songs of David Ford's set because we were too busy chatting and finishing our dinner and our martinis down the block, but what I heard was quite lovely and I'm sure he was a crowd pleaser. Next up was Newton Faulkner, who was nearly part musician, part standup comic. I do wonder if his is a show you can see more than once or if he gives crowds the same seemingly spontaneous amusing banter every time, but as this was the first time I've seen him, I should just appreciate his delightfully charming set and not think about that.

When Ingrid came on, I actually worried for a bit that the headliner would be my least favorite part of the show. Her entire band looked liked they'd just stepped out of the JC Penney commercial that made her first radio hit famous last year--all trendy boots with skinny jeans, whimsical scarves draped casually around their shoulders. Her drummer was wearing a v-neck sweater over a button-up oxford. A V-NECK SWEATER, people. On a drummer. He looked so clean-cut it was almost unsettling.

I realize it is unfair to be annoyed by someone simply because she can pull off a jaunty tweed hat without looking ridiculous, but it doesn't matter, as I got over it fairly quickly. It turns out Ingrid Michaelson is actually more than a bit of a nut. She's not just a pretty girl with a pretty voice; she's also warped and hilarious and I recommend you see her live the next chance you get, too.

This story is not in keeping with my NaBlo theme, of course, as it doesn't involve a date (unless you consider my coworker my date for this evening, which I don't). I do feel like I was on the date with the couple directly in front of me, however, since their heads were fused together like the conjoined twins I saw in Philadelphia's Mutter Museum last year for nearly the duration of the show (separated only when they instead decided to make out 12 inches away from me or simply stare longingly into each other's eyes). Ahem. Dear hoodie guy and hoodie girl directly in front of me in the balcony: I'm happy you've found love with a similarly homeless-looking person. Really I am. But if you could keep your hands and faces out of each other's greasy hair for the duration of the show, I'd sleep a little easier tonight. It's not just me; I think there's a health code violation to consider here. Thank you.

All right then. I have about 30 seconds to hit "Publish Post" on this before I inadvertently disqualify myself from this post-every-day nonsense, and since it's 30 seconds to midnight, that means it's entirely past my bedtime as well. Tomorrow, more tales from my own sad dating past and not the gleeful dating present of that frumpy and disheveled couple at Pantages. Yippee.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

"Perfectly": adverb of dating doom

Just out of curiosity, did anyone else pick up and read Rachel Kadish's Tolstoy Lied after I recommended it last year? I've been thinking lately that perhaps I want to read that one again. (You know... after I read the book I'm supposed to be reviewing for the virtual book tour and the one I planned to read for the next Books and Bars event and oh yeah, after I finally get Christopher Moore's Lamb out of my sidebar as well. In my defense, I have read two other books during the time I've had that one in progress, but as they were ridiculous teen vampire books, I'm not sure that redeems me at all.)

I actually think about Tolstoy Lied a lot. I think of it on my way home from every mundane and uneventful date I go on. Specifically, I think of this passage in particular...

Dating emptied me out. One evening, returning from a tepid dinner with a perfectly nice man ("perfectly": adverb of dating doom), I turned on my TV and stared bleary-eyed at a nature special about the tropical rainforest. There, amid platter-sized dasheen leaves and aerial roots... were the hunter vines: stout branches that sprouted from the forest floor, hitched onto the nearest tree, spiraled halfway up its trunk, then--a dozen feet up--groped out into open air to find another, likelier trunk, around which they grew for a dozen months or years until switching to another tree and then, finally, up in the canopy, leafing out into golden sunlight. I thought: I know people like that.

"Perfectly nice man." Oh, how I can relate to that. I'm not a hunter vine. Never have been and likely never will be. I want more than just any old branch to latch on to. And dating is, indeed, emptying me out.

I had brunch with the latest in the long string of perfectly nice men today. And it was... fine. Pluses for being friendly and well-dressed and using the word ethereal properly. Possible minuses for doing 85% of the talking and for not even pretending to reach for the check first. But it isn't about pluses and minuses, of course. It's the overall feeling, post-date. I know it might be too much to expect what Chandler's whiny, nasal-voiced girlfriend Janice called movie love, but shouldn't I once in a while leave a date smiling, feeling giddy with the idea of seeing this person again? Is that too much to hope for? I don't want to believe it is.

As I so often say, the jury is still out on today's date, I guess. If he contacts me again, I'll give it another go, but if today was a first date that was also an only date, I won't be upset either. What's bothering me is that I actually had a good feeling about this one. I may go on entirely too many dates and may be prematurely dismissive and jaded as a result, but every now and then, I still muster optimism. I've done the first-date-prep routine so many times that generally I give it barely any more thought than I do getting ready for work. Every so often, though, I feel an extra surge of anxiety; I have to steady my nervous hand as I bring the mascara wand to my eye, because the date I'm getting ready for is one I've somehow convinced myself might be different. I let myself believe it might be the day I meet The One. I entertain the lofty idea that magic will strike, that I'll finally know what all those people who've found love at near-first-sight are talking about. I want to think there is still hope for me, because I find myself still in that hopeful place now and then. Of course, when that hope falls flat, it leaves me lower and more pessimistic each time.

Am I being unrealistic? When it's right, I should feel something, right? When I've found it, I'll know? Isn't that how it works? Maybe not like a light bulb, but at least a few sparks maybe leading to a slow burn? I want to think it's as simple as that. As I recall, I think Rachel Kadish agreed.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

The Other Jason

Remember a few days ago, when I typed up the surprisingly long list of meMarmony matches and other dating adventures gone awry in the span of one short year and a half? On that list were two Jasons, which fully baffled me at the time, because "Two Jasons? Really?" I could totally remember only one (that being the Jewish guy who looked like a shorter and less attractive version of Lance Bass).

Well, it took me a full two days, but I finally remembered who the other Jason was.

Jason #2 (who I think was actually Jason #1) was another seemingly smart and well-traveled meMarmony match. He'd done a stint in the Peace Corps, and one of his photos featured him riding a tiny donkey in some strange, foreign basketball game. In much the same way I reasoned "Who else has a photo of themselves surrounded by a flock of penguins," I made the decision that a guy with a photo of himself on a tiny donkey deserved my consideration as well.

We emailed for a bit, and eventually made plans to meet for brunch one Sunday. And then, between the time we set the date and the day the date was to occur, I got another email from him, explaining that he'd thought he was ready to date after his recent breakup, but he realized he was being too hasty, that putting himself on meMarmony was a knee-jerk reaction to finding out that his ex was already dating someone else. Seeing as I'd joined meMarmony for the first time approximately a week after my ex-boyfriend started dating the harlot he would later marry, I couldn't fault him. I could totally relate.

He said he still wanted to get together, though. We can always use more friends, he reasoned. So we met for brunch, and it was... fine. If it had been a "real" date, I doubt we'd have had a second one. Since we decided in advance we were going to aim for being friends, though, I couldn't just cut him loose immediately. I mean, telling a guy "I don't really feel any chemistry" is one thing. But to tell him "I just don't even like you enough to hang out as friends?" Come on. Harsh.

There was nothing obviously wrong with him (aside, maybe, from how he decided I should do something different with my career and offered to be my life coach to make that happen). I just can't say we were particularly clicking, though. It happens, obviously.

I thought perhaps one of my friends might like him, though. Maybe in a group we'd do better conversationally. So I invited him to my friend Carrie's place to a small party/game night she'd planned. I remember it was 102 degrees in her top-floor, century-old, non-airconditioned apartment that night, but he was as good a sport as the rest of us. He and my friend Amy kept looking at each other, though, saying, "You look so familiar." All night, they traded questions to try to figure out where they'd met. "Where did you go to college?" one would ask. "Do you know [so-and-so]?" the other would counter back.

A few hours into the evening, Amy smirked a little and said to Jason, "I figured out how I know you." He looked at her waiting for the answer. "We went on a date once," she continued. Mystery solved, I guess.

She'd met him on Match about two years prior. He used the same tiny donkey picture for his profile then too. Also, they'd had what seemed like a reasonably OK date, and yet he never contacted her again afterwards.

I've realized the past few years that this city is shrinking. It was only a matter of time before my friends and I found and dated the same man, right? It's a shame we hadn't compared notes more thoroughly, though. Could've saved me a bit of trouble and dead-weight-ditching in this case.

Friday, November 14, 2008

The one I used to think was The One

First off, let's call this my official post for November 14, shall we? I did start it on November 14, so let's just ignore the fact that we are now into the wee hours of November 15 (for reasons quickly pounded out in post I actually DID publish before midnight tonight), OK? Can we do that? Oh, I know NaBlo has RULES (or rather, one very simple, relatively easy-to-abide-by rule), but whatever. I'd still have an hour and a half if I were on the west coast. What up, Heather... Steve... Melissa? How's it going out there in Pacific Standard Time?

Anyway, moving on. If by chance you and I are Facebook friends, then perhaps you noticed I changed my status earlier this evening to "Stefanie is feeling some schadenfreude, but is feeling more than a bit guilty about it." I have been trying to decide for several hours now whether this is fair game for blogging or not, but the problem is, it's a fine line, really. This month will likely be full of stories that I maybe shouldn't tell (or at least, shouldn't tell with real names applied). That didn't stop me when talking about Sheep Testicles Guy; why should it stop me now?

Cutting to the chase here, because it is very late and I have had two margaritas and two and a half butternut squash enchiladas (sidenote: YUM), and I am tired and full and frankly still just a wee bit drunk, so really I should definitely be in bed. First, though, the story behind the status.

I found out tonight that my ex-boyfriend... the ex-boyfriend... the one who at the time I thought was supposed to be the ONE... the ex-boyfriend who got married a year ago (and had the nerve to invite me to the wedding)... is separated. SEPARATED. As in, on the likely path to divorce. After only a year. Apparently his new wife cheated on him a mere four months into their marriage and has recently moved out completely. And while now, hours later, I can look on this with a heart and genuinely feel bad for him, I would be lying if I said my very first reaction wasn't a gasp and a jaw drop and a more-upbeat-than-I'm-proud-of "I KNEW it!!!"

I'm only human (obviously), and I think it's only unfortunately natural that when someone abandons your heart and leaves you broken and alone, there's a part of you that wants to see him hurt, too. It's not right; it's not kind; it is what it is. But if I drag myself beyond that petty (and really, pointless, by this time) bitterness, I can't help but remind myself that this particular ex-boyfriend is a genuinely good person. That he's kind and smart and was very good to me for a good long time, and that he didn't break my heart or stop loving me on purpose. I need to remember that, because it's been easy, since we broke up, to forget it.

I didn't want him to marry some obnoxious, skanky, and dim-witted girl two-thirds his age. (I have met her and I've seen her mySpace page; I'll admit I'm biased, but still, I didn't just pull those adjectives out of nowhere.) I didn't understand how someone who once loved me could also love her. Even worse, that he could love her more. It didn't make sense, and hence, I didn't want it to work out. But I also didn't want to see him facing a second divorce to a second wife who cheated on him. I wouldn't wish that on anyone. (Wait. Would I? I'd have to think about that.)

When I considered writing about this earlier tonight, the post in my head was far more mean-spirited. I'm actually pretty glad I put off this evening's post as long as I did, because human and natural or not, I wouldn't have felt good about that. While part of me wants to picture my ex-boyfriend sad and alone tonight, the way I was for so many, many Friday nights after our breakup, I'm also aware that really doesn't solve anything.

In the spirit of taking the high road, then (after admittedly taking the catty, cold-hearted low path at first), today's NaBlo date story will be about my first date with my apparently soon-to-be-divorced ex.

Scratch that. The story will be about one of our first dates. He and I were friends first, and hence, the time line's always been fuzzy. Was the first time we made social plans alone together our first date, even though it was under the guise of "just friends"? Or the night, a year and a half later, when he invited me over to watch a movie (something he'd done tens of times before) and I realized he'd made a complicated three-course meal rather than just baked a pizza? At the end of that night, I said to him, "I know we do this all the time, but this one really felt like a date." And he replied, "Yeah, it did." And I said, "So... are we dating now?" And he said, "I think so. Is that OK?" I'm not sure how I would have figured out that he was finally my boyfriend if I hadn't outright asked, but regardless, I suppose that night could have been our first date, too. The one I'm thinking of now, though, was several months after that strange and long-overdue proclamation.

We had been out to dinner on a random week night, just talking about nothing in particular, and somehow the topic of first dates came up. In the course of that conversation, I said, "I never actually had a first date with you..." and he cocked his head, in thinking mode, and said, "I guess you're right. We really didn't..."

Two days later, he sent me an email. "I've been thinking about our conversation the other night, and I would like to take you on a date." He made reservations at a fancy-schmancy place in downtown St. Paul that sadly is now out of business. He showed up at my apartment in a button-up shirt fully buttoned and tucked in. He brought flowers, and he told me I looked nice. And when I told him, at the end of the night, "I'm sorry; I don't put out on the first date," my boyfriend of five months (pseudo-almost-boyfriend of the year and a half prior) just smiled and kissed me and said, "I understand. Good night." (Full disclosure: I had a doctor's appointment the next morning and he had a tee time at some ungodly early hour, so he likely wouldn't have spent the night anyway. Still, it was cute.)

So that is the boyfriend I should remember, not the one who broke my heart seemingly without ever looking back. Or, you know, not, because remembering that guy just makes me miss him, and missing the guy who broke one's heart is really rarely EVER a good plan. So it's back to the schadenfreude. In alternating spurts, anyway. Surely that's only fair.

Temporary post...

OK, I am totally playing by the rules here with this NaBlo thing, but you see, I put off my post until very late in the evening, and just as I hit "New Post," an old friend caught me on Facebook chat, and that chat turned into a well overdue phone call. Look at that! Facebook really CAN reunite you with long nearly lost people who you actually DO still want to talk to! Allison, you are my Facebook success story. You are also the reason my real November 14 post will be late. More later, folks; I promise!

To the NaBlo powers-that-be, I DID get this mere paragraph in before midnight! That totally counts, right? (Please?) Prizes, people. PRIZES! I won't let Facebook keep me from that.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

It's sort of like Dear Abby, choose-your-own-adventure style.

A weirdly unexpected side effect of deciding to write about dates all month is that this has somehow now been deemed a dating blog. I don't know why it didn't occur to me that this might happen, but I never claimed to be a quick study, after all. In any case, I am seeing more dating-related search engine activity in my Sitemeter stats lately; I am part of a virtual book tour for a dating advice book next month (guess I better get started on reading that; hadn't I?); I received an email inviting me to set up my own "private label millionaire dating site" for fun and profit; and today I received a message from a stranger asking me for relationship advice.

I decided to ignore the "private label millionaire dating site" message, but I did respond to the relationship question one--as best I could, anyway. I'm no Cary Tennis--never thought I'd have any reason to be, actually. I wondered for only a second or two why a total stranger would write to me (me!) for relationship advice, but quickly realized I know why someone would. Because sometimes, when you're battling your own brain, running through the same cluster of feelings over and over, you just need someone else's take--a neutral third party who can try to look at it with some fresh perspective, in a way that your friends (who are too close to it, and have likely heard the story a hundred times) cannot. In my life (since I've had a blog, anyway), that's often where the Internet comes in. You guys are smart, level-headed people who have often been the voice of support and reason and differing perspectives at many points when I've needed it. You guys love to help, and you're good at it. How's about helping someone else out today, too?

Below is the message I received from a reader I didn't even know was out there. I thought that if what she needs is some neutral perspectives, why not put it out to more of the Internet than just me? (Note: Yes, I got the message sender's permission before posting this.) Do you guys have any words of wisdom for her?

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You don't know me from Adam, but I am a regular reader of your blog. I am having a relationship issue and thought I would ask your honest opinion about it, since I'm so frustrated about the whole thing.

Five months ago a six-year relationship ended. We lived together for the last three years of that relationship. He worked a commission only job and worked all the time, even when he was home. So, there was not a lot of time for us to do things together. And he was miserable at the job, so the miserableness (is that a word?) carried over into our daily life.

We decided to end things this past June because we just did not know what else to do.

Well, between moving and working like a fiend and even working for my dad part time I did not fully allow myself the time to process or grieve the ending of the relationship.

Fast-forward to about a month ago. My ex calls (we had been in touch a handful of times, just to check up and see how the other was doing) and says the girl he has been dating for five weeks is an alcoholic and a few times violent and it's now over. So, being the good person and friend that I am, we talk for three hours about it. And a few days after that he invites me to go with him and his family to see a movie, which I do, and upon seeing him and going out and all of that I decide I want to give our relationship another chance, as we are both good, decent people, and I've come to the realization that when you find love, you have to try to hold on to it as tight as you can.

So, after that night a few days later I find out that he is considering getting back together with the alcoholic, because he is "drawn" to her and wants to give that another shot.

Well, I decide to lay it all out on the line and I write two long e-mails to him detailing that I want to get back together, et cetera.

Well, in effect, he chooses her and three days later they are broken up again and have been ever since. And, of course, he contacts me and wants to talk about it.

Now, in all of this, when we split, he could not keep up the apartment we had, so he moved back in with his Dad and is trying to get his life together. He has started a new job, which he loves, and is trying to get his life on track.

After the second breakup with the alcoholic we see each other a few more times and it's great, and he's somewhat affectionate, but he says he needs time to figure out if he wants to give us a second shot.

Okay. Fine. Giving him his space. But then I realize that what am I waiting for? Some lightbulb to go off in his head that says, oh, I'm so great, and he'll come back to me?

So, we talk today on the phone and I'm like I don't know what I'm doing, waiting around, and he says he is going to do some serious soul-searching because he can't continue to leave me in la-la land, and he doesn't know what's holding him back from saying, yes, let's give it a shot. He says he loves me, I'm a great girl.

And I told him to not decide that yes, he wants to get back together because he is afraid of losing me as a friend. That's the risk he'll be taking, as I've made it crystal clear that it's one or the other. I can't be friends with him if he's dating someone else.

And I'm thinking WTF am I doing? I don't want someone who doesn't want me. I'M NOT THAT GIRL!!!!

I'm 34 and tired. And to think that THIS is included in God's plan for me. He has a very funny sense of humor.

Any insight? I feel like a mental patient sometimes.

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Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Oh goodie. More words that will bring the Googlers here. Can't wait.

All right. So we're 12 days into NaBlo here, which is only a few days shy of halfway (Whoo; I can totally do this. Surely I can.), and it suddenly occurred to me that perhaps I should be making some sort of list to recall which dates I still want to write about. I don't know why it took me until Day 12 to think about this. Obviously I do love me a list. As evidence, I will tell you about the list I just found in my desk drawer tonight. Long, long ago, near the end of my first stint on meMarmony, I decided to make a list of all the men I had dated from that site thus far. I think I envisioned some sort of meMarmony recap but then abandoned the idea either because I knew it would be an unreadably long post or it was simply too depressing to recount all of them (or possibly I just got distracted by something shiny).

So anyway, I have this list. And since I had started the list, apparently I decided to continue it, meMarmony match or not. There are no months or days assigned to any of the names on the list, but I am pretty sure it comprises all of the men I went on dates with in 2006 and the first part of 2007. There are 22 names on the list, which seems like a lot, and yet I'm not entirely sure the list is accurate, because I don't see Index Card Guy's name on there, and wasn't he during that time frame? (Let's see... Yes, he was.) Then again, it suddenly occurred to me that I don't even remember Index Card Guy's name. Was it Tom? Tom doesn't sound familiar... and yet, there's a Tom on the list. Who the heck was Tom? Also, what was the "Nonfiction Means Not-True?" guy's name? Could he be Tom? People, why don't I remember this stuff??

Ahem. Anyway. The list. Numbers in parentheses are the number of dates I had with each. (See? I'm not just a one-date girl!) Comments in italics are confessions and various memories as I perused this list for the first time in forever tonight.

Stephan (3)
Judd (1) (stone-faced gun-toting liberal who asked me to move to Canada with him)
Jeff R. (1) (possibly The Virgin, though I'd never tell you for sure)
Jeff H. (3) (dude I used as an excuse to ditch The Virgin; ditched me for another girl one date later)
Grant (1) (boring, and the worst kind of arrogant--the kind with no reason to BE arrogant at all)
Tim (1 non-date/maybe-date)
Adam (4)
Ken (2)
Kevin (2)
Jason (1)
Niles (2) (Oh my. Niles. See? I KNEW there was a reason for making this list! I MUST write about him this month yet.)
Mike R. (2)
Mike M. (1) (Two-Mike week! I remember that...)
Tom (1) (Tom?? Seriously, who was Tom? I'm telling you: Bells? Not ringing. AT. ALL.)
Jason (1) (Wait a minute. There were TWO Jasons? I remember only the Jewish one. Who was this?)
Joe (1) (Behind his name, I have written "The Mute," which is the only way I remembered who this one was.)
Ted (1) (Oh, like you guys didn't know that was his real name.)
Joe L. (8)
Jeremiah (2)
Quinn (1)
Jeff H. (again) (1) (Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.)
David (1)

You're exhausted and small-talked out just thinking about that list, aren't you? Me too. Also, still can't remember Index Card Guy's name. That one's going to bug me for days.

Wait! TIM! I think it was Tim. No idea why he didn't make the list.

So. Plenty of material there, I suppose. Today, however, I pick Ken.

As I may have mentioned or you may have surmised, I'm back online again, signed up for a one-month stint at the site that's probably best known in Internet dating but which I'd yet to try myself thus far. This time around I'm approaching it a little differently... or, trying to, anyway. Though it may sound backwards or closed-minded, I'm being pickier than I ever have before. Namely? No more "benefit of the doubt." If there is nothing whatsoever of interest in a profile, I'm ignoring or clicking "Not Interested" on any messages or winks. If I look at a guy's picture and honestly cannot imagine kissing him, he gets no attention from me. Shallow? Perhaps. But physical attraction means something, whether you want to admit so or not. Can a guy I'm not attracted to initially grow on me, if his personality, wit, and intellect are above par? Absolutely. But unfortunately, that is not the way online dating works. You introduce yourselves online; you go on a date. There is no casual, "getting to know you" phase before that "Date" label is applied. I have done this enough to know that if I'm not attracted to a man initially, I won't be attracted to him two dates in, so I've decided, for this trial month anyway, not to try.

Let the judgy, chastising comments begin, if you must. This is just how I'm rolling this time.

That wasn't always the way I approached this, however. I promise you: I have TRIED to be Open-Mind Girl. Case in point: Ken.

I knew from my first look at Ken's picture that I wasn't going to be attracted to him. But he was smart! Well-traveled! Interesting! He had a picture of himself surrounded by a flock of penguins at the South Pole! Who else has a photo of themselves surrounded by penguins? Hell, who else has been to the South Pole?

And so I decided to give Ken a chance. I thought that if his personality was as interesting as his resume, surely I could overcome the strange-shaped face and protruding teeth. Naturally, neither of those things panned out. He actually grew less attractive to me the more I listened to him talk. By all means, I am a friend to the nerds, but Ken was the worst kind of nerd: the kind who thinks he's overcome the awkwardness of his youth, but in fact, has only augmented his nerd status with unjustified overconfidence and misformed social skills. There is "nerd" in a good way and nerd in the "drive people away" way. Ken was unfortunately the latter.

I'm not sure exactly why I went on a second date with him. Stranger still, I don't even remember where our first date took place. What I do remember was sitting at St. Paul's Happy Gnome and deciding halfway through my burger that I would not be seeing this man again. I don't even remember how we got on the topic, but for some reason, he mentioned eggs, and I casually said that I've never liked them. It was a random piece of information that he could or could not have commented or asked further questions on. Instead of any normal, casual follow-up words, however, he looked at me, eyebrows raised, and smirked, "You don't like eggs? Well, I guess I'll have to come up with something else to make to impress you when you wake up at my house."

I'm no huge prude, but it's important to mention that up to that point, we'd had NO physical contact whatsoever. No kiss, no hug, no handshake. Not even a casual touch of the forearm to emphasize a point. There was no context to warrant that presumption. I had already decided I was not attracted to this man, but the visceral reaction I felt when he spoke those words... the way my body involuntarily shuddered and I nearly choked on a bite of burger... that reflex only solidified it.

I'd actually been feeling under the weather all day, and I'd mentioned it to Ken when we first arrived. From that point on, I decided my cough should quickly and inexplicably grow worse. My head should hurt more and my nasal passages should become even more clogged. In short, I hurried things along in the name of illness and left within the half-hour.

I was just trying to come up with a neat and tidy ending for this post when I remembered that I did allude to this date once before. A quick search for the word "visceral" in my archives found it, and I remembered! My word, Ken was "Sheep Testicles Guy"! I have no idea how I momentarily forgot that, but I think that about wraps this one up, don't you agree?

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


Wow. So you guys really didn't like that last match. I have to say I'm a bit surprised. Usually you're all about wanting me to give a guy the benefit of the doubt for your own amusement. I do wonder if Mr. "I'm not the right guy for you" might have fared better against the Internets if I'd shared his entire message and not just the bulk of the last paragraph. The first two paragraphs were mostly friendly, clever, and complimentary (all the more reason that last paragraph left me stumped). Also, in his defense, he followed the "I don't remember the last book I read" line by saying he does remember, but that it was a kids' book--that he reads to his five-year-old daughter all the time.

So. Does that change your mind about him at all? No? Still a tool? Yeah, probably.

Hey, know who else was a tool? My ex-maybe-boyfriend Kris. Let's talk about him today, shall we? (Note: I'm doing a "30 Dates in 30 Days" thing for NaBlo. I should probably just put that by the NaBlo logo in my sidebar so I can quit explaining that to possible drop-ins already.)

Kris was an idiot. I'll just get that out of the way from the start. I met him at the Halloween party my roommate and I hosted the first year or two that I lived in the Twin Cities. He came with one of my roommate's grad school friends and that friend's husband, who I later learned had brought Kris solely to try to set him up with me. Because I am clueless, the setup didn't "take" that night. In fact, for some reason, it did not even occur to me that the stranger in the mullet wig and Iron Maiden concert T might be single, much less that anyone had brought him there for me. (Years later, my long-time friend Dale is still fond of telling the story of how at that party, Kris apparently nonchalantly grazed my ass while sliding past me to the recycling bin and how I was too oblivious or drunk to notice.)

Since I didn't catch on (and therefore barely even spoke to Kris) at the Halloween party, my roommate's friends decided to try again. They invited the two of us (as well as Kris) out for drinks at a terrible bar in St. Paul. It was the sort of bar that makes me thankful to be 34, because being 34 means I no longer have to go to bars where drunken frat boys think it is acceptable to grind their pelvis against your hips or rear without even making eye contact first. (Do drunken frat boys still do that? I actually sort of want to know that they do, because if 20-something girls today get to have texting and the Internet AND they don't have to worry about that sort of nonsense anymore, then life really isn't fair for those of us who came a half-generation before.)

Anyway, so we were at a terrible bar, listening to terrible music, watching terrible debauchery transpire mere feet away on the dance floor. Kris made some sort of comment about how he should probably ask me to dance, and I assured him that that was neither necessary nor appealing, and somehow, from there, eventually we started talking. And talking. And talking. I wonder often whether it was easier for me to connect with prospective boyfriends in my 20s because I was inexperienced and possibly a bit desperate and therefore would give nearly anyone who showed any interest in me a chance, or if I was simply less time-worn and jaded then, open to more possibilities. To-may-toe, toe-mah-toe, I suppose.

The following week, Kris called me. Because he was a wuss, he called in the middle of the day (knowing full well that I had a day job and that the number he had was my home number), but he called me nonetheless. And because we were 24, we had our first date at Applebee's. Yes, Applebee's. Clearly I wasn't always the giant snob cultured urban sophisticate I am today. (Sidenote: NPW unapologetically loves the comforting homogeneity of Panera's soup in a bread bowl. I unapologetically love Applebee's chicken fajita rollup even though it too gives me the same stomach cramps every time.)

Kris and I dated for about two months, during which time we saw every movie released in the theaters, because we both lived in the suburbs and lacked creativity and therefore didn't know what on earth else we were supposed to do on dates. Naturally there was something else we were probably supposed to do on dates, but remember, I was clueless. And a late bloomer. (Can I humiliate myself by mentioning that in a few MORE of these NaBlo stories?) And neither one of us lived alone. I had a roommate. He lived with his sister and her family. Hence, we rarely spent any time in each other's homes, and when we did, it was decidedly G-rated (PG-13, perhaps, if my roommate had already gone to bed).

Then one weekend, Kris invited me over to his house. His sister and her family were on vacation in Florida; he had the whole house to himself. Strangely, he invited not just me, but his best friend as well. I remember that we ordered pizza and watched a lousy Adam Sandler movie (oh, admit it: only half of what that man does is funny, at best) and that Kris played a Chris Isaak song for me on his guitar. For some reason, we also watched about ten minutes of a low-quality prom movie*, the first one I'd ever actually seen myself. And eventually, Kris's best friend vanished to some other far-off corner of the house, and Kris and I were alone in his red-walled bedroom for the first time.

I'm not going to tell you what happened next, except to remind you (again) that I was clueless and inexperienced and therefore I'm sure the things that did happen didn't go as smoothly as they should have or were supposed to. I will also tell you that one very specific thing did not happen, which I am fully grateful for, because had I done that one very specific thing and then never heard from Kris again, I probably would be even more jaded, skeptical, and cynical than I am today.

It was a slightly awkward night, but not irreconcilably so in my mind, so I was beyond annoyed and baffled when I never heard from Kris again. I mean, vanishing after two dates? Socially acceptable. But after two months? Two months and some nakedness? NOT OK. My roommate was as naive as I was; she had the good fortune of having a clean-cut, fine, upstanding boyfriend whom she had been mostly chastely dating since high school. Hence, she was as enraged and confused as I was. "Did you break up?" she asked. "I don't think so," I replied.

As it turns out, it's true that hindsight is like Lasik, so I can see now several reasons why, after that night, Kris might have thought, "That's it; we're done here. Move along."

He's still an idiot, however. There's no changing my mind about that.


* Not really a prom movie, of course, but a word I don't particularly want to type on the Internet myself. Special thanks to Metalia for adding that codeword to the blogging lexicon (blogicon?).