Tuesday, May 31, 2011
After three weeks and one hundred five emails, I am so entranced by the man on the other side of the computer that I cannot help but be a little more forward than befits a "lady." I know that we should allow men to make the first move - it's the hunter in them that loves the chase. Yet I went way out of my comfort zone and sent Kit one more message...my phone number. He sent his back within a matter of minutes and I stared at the screen, frozen with fear. I had been so bold in sending him mine, hoping he'd call that I never imagined he'd reply with his own. Now it was a political debate. Does he expect me to call him first? Am I waiting for his call? Should I text instead?
There are a few times in a girl's life that she should throw public opinion out the window. I bucked expectations by sending him the first message online. I shed my inhibitions when offering my phone number. Protocol be damned - I was getting on the phone with him immediately.
At least, the confident part of me was...
There was still this weak little girl inside me, questioning every move I made. I wanted to be proud. I wanted to be strong. I wanted to feel as forward as I was acting. Someone much wiser than me once said: Fake it til you make it. I don't think I understood that saying at the time, but basically it boils down to acting, dressing, looking, and sounding like how you want to feel. If you act meek and timid, you will feel meek and timid. But if you act, walk, talk, dress, and sound strong, confident and beautiful, then eventually you will feel like the smart, sexy, successful woman you want to be. The woman you want other people to see. The woman who attracts a great man because he can't help himself from falling for her. I want to be *that* woman.
Not wanting to ignore either of my instincts, I blended my fear with my resolve and came up with a compromise - a text message that very simply read "Baby Steps." It wasn't a phone call but it wasn't nothing (I am past the age where I can continue allowing myself to do nothing) and I felt good. I put the phone down with a smile on my face when it lit up with a prompt reply that read "Baby steps :-)"
Yes, we were still hiding behind the safety of modern technology and technically, they were still words on a screen but suddenly, I felt closer to Kit than I knew what to do with. He wasn't just some guy on the other end of a computer. Now he was a guy at a Yankee game, sending me pictures of the view from his seat, the players on the field, updating me on the score and telling his friend he was talking to "a girl" (cue soap opera music here!) He was just as excited to bounce sentiments back and forth with me as I was with him and I loved feeling like a part of his day. Not some figment of his imagination he could return to at night and find waiting in gmail. A real person who he could communicate with a the touch of a button, any time of day.
The texts became more and more frequent. He'd always open with "Good morning, Sunshine" and end each evening with "Good night. Sweet dreams." I filled him in on both the exciting and mundane part of my days. My story got accepted to a national magazine!!! (Exciting.) I'm having pasta with salad for dinner. (Mundane.) I bought a fab new dress for my birthday bash! (Exciting - ok maybe only for girls?) Planted the herbs in the garden today. (Mundane.)
It quickly became apparent that texting with Kit had in fact, become part of my days. Often times, it was the best part. His messages never failed to make me smile, his surprising observations in the world always made me laugh. He comforted and consoled me when I needed it, responding in the manner of a true friend. My phone was rarely (if ever) out of my hand but I didn't feel like one of those women waiting for the phone to ring. I didn't have to be. He'd send me a quick "Just wanted you to know that I'm thinking about you" and my entire face would light up with adoration. Because let's face it: there aren't too many more wonderful feelings in the world than knowing an amazing man is thinking about you and smiling.
Even when you're taking baby steps.
Tuesday, May 24, 2011
Loser. Loser. Loser. Do that 92 times and you'll begin to understand why I needed a break from finishing 100 Cups of Coffee. I know that 92 down with only 8 to go seems like it should be easy. It sounds like I should be sprinting for the finish line, just trying to get to the end of this project. Sadly, it's precisely the moment I ran out of steam and needed to regroup. I had stopped seeing the humorous side of dating, the lightheartedness which attracted so many of you to my blog in the first place. I was becoming one of those bitter, jaded New York women I pity and couldn't stand the thought of some younger, cuter girl pitying me. How could I avoid this heinous fate?
Last October, a friend bet me $10 that I'd be in a "serious" relationship by the end of this year on the condition that I stop trying to be in a relationship. Also, that I stop dating anyone and everyone just for the sake of having a date. 100 Cups of Coffee began as my attempt to broaden my horizons, say yes to people I would've normally excluded, stop being so picky and be a little more open-minded. To reference yesterday's blog - it was me deciding to burn The List.
It took me five whole months to get back in the game. One Sunday, I sat down at my trusty computer and figured I wouldn't message just *anyone* on the dating sites. I would look for men who really and truly interested me. Smart, funny, and dare I say good-looking men whom I could at least tolerate a date with, and hopefully actually enjoy it! I chose twelve profiles out of the hundreds I read that day and sent a few emails with all the positive thoughts I could muster. One wrote back.
SophieRose to Kit
The top 5 reasons I'm writing to you are:
1) I'll be honest - I saw your picture in the little bar at the top of the page and thought you were cute. Sometimes OkC actually makes decent recommendations! (Who knew?)
2) I am a writer = I am in desperate need of a good hand massage on any given day. I've taken to getting manicures for the pure pleasure of the mini massage they give you.
3) You mention reading and I'm a huge bookworm. I'm pretty dorky, but I also think I'm a pretty dork!
4) You like "fancy cheese" and I spent no less than 30 minutes wandering the International Cheese department of my grocery store today. It seriously took all my will power to only walk away with Brie, mascarpone, and Havarti dill. (Though I am DEFINITELY going back for the horseradish cheddar!!!)
5) Any guy who lists Love Actually *first* amongst his favorite movies has got to be worth writing to :-)
Kit to SophieRose
The fact that you actually put a top five reasons list for messaging me is, in fact, multiple reasons for messaging you back.
First that you broke it down bit by bit is fantastic for a follow up.
Second, that you were dorky enough to do it at all is brilliant! :-)
Third, I am laughing to and smiling to myself reading over your thoughts, and anyone who can make you laugh and smile is always worth messaging back.
1) I think I'm cuter than in the photos, but that's just me. As for okc, they do get things right occasionally. Btw, you're also cute. I like the picture on the bicycle.
2) You're a writer? That's brilliant! What kind of writing do you do? I love to write. I've been putting off personal writing during grad school, as there's already a lot of writing going on. I do love to give hand massages though. I like working with my hands, and though I've not had any formal training, I'm not too terrible at it.
3) You are a pretty dork. I'm kind of geeky/dorky myself. I love to read. I read all kinds of things, normally, when i can get away from textbooks. What kind of books do you like to read?
4) It's true. I'm a cheese nut. I like interesting cheeses, random flavors, and going to cheese and wine bars to sample things. I do the same thing at the local market, but I love going to Murrays in Grand Central.
5) I think the first slot on my favorites list is open to debate, but Love Actually is part of that debate. I adore that movie. I take it you are a big fan as well?
I look forward to hearing from you.
Call it sparks, call it chemistry, call it fate, call it the universe, call it whatever you want. I was instantly hooked on this guy. Messages shot back and forth between us, sometimes several a day, each one smarter and funnier than the last. He's got a witty sharpness about him, the likes of which I have never encountered before. He's kind and sweet and sincere and considerate and it doesn't hurt at all that he's absolutely gorgeous. He's even Lutheran!!! He possesses every single quality I wanted in a man and then some. Every. Single. Thing.
So now here I am. One hundred and five emails between us about fancy cheese and wine tasting and books read and concerts seen and favorite restaurants and family ties and childhood memories and dreams of travel. One hundred and five messages about loves lost and hearts broken and faith tested and plans for the future. One hundred and five reasons I cannot stop myself from wanting, once again, to take that leap of faith - throw caution to the wind and meet someone amazing. Is it both terrifying and exhilarating at the same time? Yes, it is. Do I want to throw up? Yup, a little bit. Would I rather be somewhere, anywhere else? No. This is right where I want to be. On the verge of a life. With Kit.
I smell $10 in my future...
Monday, May 23, 2011
When you're a full time writer (as I am) and you have several broken toes (as I do) and are looking for inspiration without leaving the house (as I've been), you turn to the most reliable source there is - the television. Throw a rainy day in there and you have all the necessary evil factors for a Millionaire Matchmaker Marathon. Oh, Bravo channel, how many hours I have lost at the hands of Patti Stanger and her tight dress / hair straight / boobs out cocktail parties. I loathe myself for succumbing to the vortex of mini dates and master dates, but I poured myself a glass of white wine, declared the whole process "research" and plugged myself into the boob tube (pardon the pun.)
While most of the episodes are positively laughable (Hello Kitty girl dates hot plumber) and some are downright atrocious (famous book publisher lusts after fat gay comic), there are a few sweet moments where you think that maybe, just maybe, the matchmaking team finally got one right (hippie surf dude dates Patti's friend from Florida. Beach dates = always romantic.)
The episode that really got me thinking though featured a Long Island girl with a catering business and a list of qualities she wanted in a man. The List is what drew my attention more than anything else. I began racking my brain, trying to think of a single woman I know who *doesn't* have a list of the qualities she wants in a man. Maybe it's just a few mental notes stored in the back of her brain, maybe it's written down in colorful markers on journal paper dating back to her teenage years but absolutely everyone I know has some version of The List. What are we looking for in a partner? What qualities are important to us? What do we NEED, and what characteristics would just be nice to have? What parts of a relationship are the bread and butter, and what parts are just icing on the cake?
As I am rolling all these thoughts around in my pretty little blonde head, Patti takes the bachelorette's list and burns it. She lit the list on fire and threw it in the garbage. What the fuck was that?!?! This woman is forty years old, never been married, has a successful career, lots of confidence, knows what she wants and the Matchmaker chucked it all away?!?! Just as I'm about to get angry on the girl's behalf, I stopped myself and thought about it from the other side: This woman is forty years old. She's never been married. She's so tied to her list that she can't find love because every time she meets a man, she compares him to The List and if he doesn't meet even one little criteria, the poor schmo is tossed aside, nary to be given a second chance.
On the one hand, I think that lists are super important. Lesson learned from Extreme Couponing is to always hit the grocery store prepared. (Hey, I told you I've been watching a lot of tv lately!) These couponing women have lists, tallies, coupons clipped and compared to store sales, carts at the ready. They are *prepared* in every sense of the word. They don't wander around the supermarket trying to remember if they needed mayo or cream cheese. Hell no. They form a plan of attack, go in, buy what they need, and get out. Frankly, I have been that woman perusing the aisles without a list of what I need and it's always when I'm unloading the car that I realize I forgot the cat food or the sour cream or the toilet paper. Are relationships like this?
What if we entered relationships without a List of qualities we were looking for? If we didn't write down that we want a man who is a decent provider, has an excellent sense of humor, wants a family? Would we end up in a boring, childless relationship with a broke guy? If we didn't admit to ourselves that we want someone older, taller, stronger, would we find ourselves partnered by a 5'1 dude barely out of college, having to lift all the heavy boxes by our lonesome? If we never considered how important manners or romance or adventure are to us, would we find ourselves channel surfing with a futureless couch potato who yells at waitresses and doesn't notice when the sex disappears?
These scenarios scare me enough that I whole-heartedly defend the sanctity of my list. I didn't have one when I was first dating, or even by the time I got married. Perhaps this contributed to my relationships with men who weren't "right" for me. Perhaps it didn't. But it's taken me all this time of being single to figure out what it is that I both need and want, as well as a few bonus point items just for fun. Since I know you're all curious at this point, I'll share a few of the highlights with you:
NEEDS: Someone honest, trustworthy, respectful, appreciative, loving, supportive, faithful, wants a family, good sense of humor.
WANTS: Someone romantic, passionate, communicative, motivated, stable, adventurous, thoughtful, affectionate, Christian.
BONUS POINTS: Someone tall, gracious, creative, strong, has shared interests, loves road trips.
When this list has come in handy:
I referred to the list when my ex-husband told me he didn't want children. Being a mother is in my NEEDS column. Non-negotiable.
I referred to the list when my ex-boyfriend was having an affair. Faithful is in my NEEDS column. Non-negotiable.
I referred to the list when Michael (y'all remember Michael, don't you?) was lying to me about doing drugs. Honest is in my NEEDS column. Non-negotiable.
When lists may screw you over:
If your list details that you want someone 6'1 with medium build and brown hair who went to an Ivy League school, makes six figures, speaks multiple languages, enjoys dogs, reads Bradbury, has dreams of honeymooning in Hawaii, and plays at least two musical instruments.
That is a steep list. Not to say that you won't meet this man. You might. It could happen. Just that you might have to scale back on at least one of your "requirements." What if you meet this amazing man but he's only 5'10? Or can't grasp languages despite his fantastic education? Or can't play an instrument to save his life but has a lovely singing voice? There are actually women out there who will still dump a perfectly great guy because he fails to meet her standards and to those women - like the forty year old career bachelorette on MM - I would say Burn The List.
Moral of the Story: The Millionaire Matchmaker is a demanding, controlling, crazy person but she might just know what she's talking about when it comes to dating. There are certain things that we, as single women, can expect, and certain cases where we might actually need to lower the bar. This is not to say you should date anyone who doesn't meet any or all of your criteria. This is to say that maybe, just maybe, we could give guys a chance. Overlook a few of their imperfections. Not expect them all to be sexy cowboys who look phenomenal in tight jeans and are excellent dancers. (Though that would be nice). Not expect them all to be Nobel prize winning peace advocates or Pulitzer prize winning authors or Templeton prize winning academics. (Though all of these things would be nice too.) Yet I can't help but wonder how I would fare against a man's list and frankly, I never want to find out.
On second thought, the only item on a man's list is big boobs. Score!!!
Thursday, May 19, 2011
I woke up today and realized I am 30 years old.
Don't get me wrong, my birthday was almost a month ago and I celebrated throughout most of April. I partied with friends, family, and all over facebook. Many of you were kind enough to send me your good wishes and best birthday advice and I truly appreciate all the words of encouragement. Facing 30 was so daunting, so looming in the future for so many years, so talked about amongst friends that I wanted to hide under the covers and just let it pass me by. Seeing as that was not a viable option, I decided to put on my big girl panties and deal with it.
I am no longer 29 years old. I am no longer 20-anything. I am no longer "turning 30 soon." I am 30 and I have to tell you, I kinda like it!
Something shifted in me once I turned 30. It feels like all through my 20's, I'd been waiting for my life to start and now, it finally has. I thought I had set up a life for myself, all before I was even legally able to drink! Being 20 years old seems both like yesterday and a lifetime ago. I remember the moment I got on a plane by myself to cross an ocean and live in a new country where I knew no one and nothing. I remember the shock when I arrived in London and discovered (to my horror) that it was not the land of Peter Pan and Mary Poppins I'd always imagined it to be. I remember being fearless in the face of all this change, so far away from everything I'd known in my life back home. None of it scared me. At twenty years old, I possessed a fearless naivety that the world was not such a scary place. Rather, it was my proverbial oyster, and I could only set eyes on the pearls.
You know the old saying: If I knew then what I know now? I wonder if I would've done it all differently? If I knew that the man I met, fell in love with, married and planned to have children with would someday change his mind, move out, and divorce me - would I still have fallen for him? If I knew that the boyfriend I was so crazy about after my marriage ended would cheat on me and break my heart into a billion pieces - would I still have stayed with him? If I knew that after ten years of living around the world, three careers and two kittens later, I'd end up living with my parents at home - would I have chosen a different path?
The truth is that we'll never know what the alternatives to any of our choices would've been or where they would have led us. So I will stand here proudly today and tell you that NO, I wouldn't change a thing. I wouldn't live my life any differently than I chose to live it. I made lots of mistakes but they're part of who I am and how I got here. Those lessons learned, big or small, made me the woman I am today and it's taken me 30 years to say that I'm pretty proud of that woman. Yes, I'm a work in progress (aren't we all???) but that pride, that confidence is earned now, not just taken for granted.
At 20, I didn't know any better. Yes, I thought I had every answer (don't ALL 20 year olds think they know everything?) but the truth is that I was fearless because I had nothing to lose. My heart had never been truly broken, my life had never been turned upside down, I didn't really know what tragedy was. A decade has gone by and so much has changed. It's much, much harder to be fearless once you've faced the monsters in your closet, confronted your own demons, reached your breaking point. Yet that is precisely what I'm doing. For right now, I once again have nothing to lose. The world is my playground and I can make any choice I want. I can go any direction I choose. This is simultaneously exhilarating and terrifying but I choose excitement over anxiety right now. This is me putting on my big girl panties and dealing with 30.