Saturday, December 25, 2010

Holiday Magic

First of all, Merry Christmas! The holiday season is upon us and, despite some dramatic and traumatic moments with our family at the dinner table, tis good to slow down for a moment and reflect on another year that has passed us so quickly.

Second of all, y'all have a permission to slap me across my face and call me stupid. Why, you ask? It's really simple. I did something that I might advise others against doing. I knew very well that I might regret my moment of weakness later on, but I followed my heart, and did not listen to my head, regardless.

See, I just can't seem to cut myself off from Mr. J.

Is this how drug addicts feel, when their crack pipe is taken away? I know, I certainly was having mad withdrawals from not talking to the dude, from not being able to tell him about my day, even from all the fighting that we've been doing. I tried not responding to him, I tried telling him that I was done for good. I told him that our relationship was not working, that there were too many fights and arguments to keep this thing going. I really thought I was well on my way to starting a new chapter of my life.

But a few weeks ago, after one of our epic fights, after I deleted him as a friend on Facebook, got rid of his number, blocked his text messages... I started talking to him again.

I know, I know... I have no right to complain if anything goes wrong now, do I? I mean, it's like the presidential election - if we don't vote, we have no right to be pissed off about the president.

It was kind of like that. I said to myself, okay, I am just going to give Mr J another (yet another) shot, and then if things go sour, well, I just won't write about it on my blog. No one will ever hear my complaints.

But of course, I hoped for the best. Mr J said that he was going to come visit me a week before Christmas, and I thought, "I think this will be good. We will renew our romance and all the fighting will go away, at least for a while."

I said yes to him and I booked a lovely hotel downtown for four days, in anticipation of his arrival. That's another thing - everyone I prepare for his visit or every time I am flying/driving to visit him, I feel like a giddy little school girl and my stomach does all sorts of flips and turns. Butterflies all over the place. And... I was just not ready to give up that feeling. I couldn't bare to think that I could no longer allow myself to feel those things for Mr J. Cause I felt them, despite all the fighting and the breaking up. I felt them still.

His stay in Philly, as I predicted, was perfect. We went to restaurants, to my office Christmas party, to see the Christmas tree in Rittenhouse Square, to the Art Museum. We went shopping and he surprised me with the most beautiful necklace from Swarowski. It was a spur of the moment kind of thing and I was completely blown away with how he presented it to me.

I was trying on a jacket at Express and he came up from behind and said, "Do you think this necklace will go with your outfit?"

I didn't understand at first. I saw a necklace he held up again my neck and simply said, "Yeah, it's kind of cute." I was just not in the mood to buy a jacket AND a necklace in one day. It didn't even cross my mind that he bought it for me while I was trying on dresses in the fitting room.

But he said, "It's yours. I thought you'd look so pretty wearing it and I bought it. Do you like it?"

I gasped with excitement and joy, as if he was presenting me with an engagement ring.

"It's beautiful, J! You kiddin' me? I freaking LOVE it!"

Lots of hugs followed. In that moment, I had no shadow of regret for caving in and renewing my relationship with him. I can't tell you with certainty that I will never regret the decision or that I will never cry over him again. But I can say that this has been a magical holiday season thus far, and Mr J made it just so.

Happy holidays!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

You May Keep Your Picket Fence, Please

Would I settle for something boring and ordinary? I asked myself this question about my whole existence today, in the midst of doubts and worries about the future. Would I be okay with just settling or am I still searching for my purpose?

Back in August, I landed myself a contract job at a world renowned architecture firm that defies the boring and the ordinary. The principal of the firm was a power house of a human being in the 1960's and defined his own style, a style that proclaimed itself to be the antithesis to Le Corbusier's statement "Less is more." He and his wife changed the world of architecture in many ways, shook up the simplicity of Modernism and shocked many with their less-than-orthodox approach to architecture. Loud. Bold. Larger than life. He was and still is a man of a quiet demeanor, never too fond of his spotlight but, nevertheless, he was and still is an undisputed legend.

I am not comparing myself to the likes of his stature. Right now, I find myself elated just to be working in his presence and be able to say "Hi" to him every day as he infallibly, makes his rounds to greet all of his employees every morning. No, I am no legend, I ain't kidding myself.

But I also can't help but compare my lifetime aspirations to what this man, the legend, has been able to achieve. I only hope to take the route less conventional but the route that makes me exuberantly happy, the way his life path made him.

My Ex of some years ago settled for a boring life. And I am not saying it with any malicious undertones and, well, maybe with just a slight hint of elitism that we all inherit after we leave our former lovers to pursue the greener pastures. But he settled for a boring and ordinary life, a boring and ordinary house, a boring and ordinary profession and, if I may, a boring and ordinary fiance.... I swear I could fall asleep from my lack of interest just writing this paragraph.

It's all fine and good in my book. This boring and ordinary deal. After all, sometimes I strive for some good ol' boring balance in my life, but I fear I would get restless in my boring and ordinary house with some boring and ordinary dude. I don't particularly want to conform to someone's else's definition of the American Dream. Why, that would just be a cop out.

I may be still building my version of a brick house with a white picket fence, but, you better believe it, when it's completed it will be anything but boring and ordinary.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The End

You know it really is over, when your heart hurts the most.

I have felt this pain only a few times in my life... but I am afraid to admit, that this pain lasted me more than a few months. I have to remember how strong I was during those fragile months and keep on with all my gathered strength... I have to keep on and know and believe that one day, everything really does get better.

What I am driving at is...

Mr J and I, however on and off that relationship has been for the last two years, are done for good. I deleted him from my phone, facebook, blackberry messenger, Skype. Anything that I could have possibly done, I did.

You see, he was supposed to come and visit me in less than three weeks but, in true Mr J's fashion he started saying things like "I don't know if I should come.. it might be too painful not knowing when I am going to see you again..." Blah blah, fucking blah

For a few minutes, I tried to convince him that he should come. That no matter what our future holds for us, we should treasure the few and far moments of togetherness and just hope for the best.

But am I supposed to even try to convince him?

I couldn't help but keep crying as I went through all my technological outlets of contacting him. Do you know how fucking bad it hurts? This pain is far too familiar but, I'll be damned, I forgot just how raw it feels.

I am right here, in that moment that everyone who's ever been in a relationship dreads. I've got my mascara running down both cheeks. I am sitting here and wondering "What if." What if I could have said anything differently. What if I could have convinced him somehow. What if...

But, at some point, there are no more what ifs in the game of love. You either try or you don't. He, by saying that he doesn't want to come see me any more, stopped trying. And I, by removing his name from my life, ended it once and for all.

I am strong in my utmost fragility. I will persevere. Love, however important it might be, does not define me, nor does it complete me. I will survive.

But for now I just want to have my moment and cry a little bit in complete silence, before anyone sees me crumble. After all is said and done, I'd rather have loved and lost, than not loved at all.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

To Tan or Not to Tan

I now am back to living at a very close proximity to Jersey - the home of the Snooki poofs, padded bras, long nails in all shades of neon and, yes, bright orange tans. And while I know that I am not the most fair-skinned white girl out there, I definitely enjoy avoiding having my skin appear to be bluish or greenish in tone, especially on those days when I get less than a required amount of sleep. Or those days when I am painfully hungover, when my skin pretty much decides to turn gray.

For those three years that I lived in Cincinnati, I was a paying member of a tanning establishment but my trips to the cancer beds were few and far in between. Mostly, I would go and tan after a rough week of exams and final critiques, when I would feel the need to just treat myself to some pampering and/or when I would see the need when I looked in a mirror and saw a zombie-looking flesh glaring back at me.

Now back in Philadelphia, I am feeling... and, don't laugh... but I am feeling like I am under so much peer pressure to tan more. For example, this week... I went tanning twice, but I went two days in a row - which I had never done before! And on the radio, just the other day, I heard a Hollywood Tan ad where the voice proclaimed, however erroneous the claim might have been, that a "healthy glow" makes you look 150% more attractive. Now, that's a WHOLE lot of attractive!

I know it's not the healthiest thing that I could do to my body, but it really does appear to take away the slight black semi-circles from all those restless nights right from under my eyes. I am feeling the burn, but my skin has acquired that healthy glow that everyone seems to rave about so much. My face looks fresh, my body looks like it's been kissed by the loving rays of sun and, ultimately, I can't help but admit that I've gained an additional level of confidence.

The frequent urge to tan is also coming in handy as of late. Like, tonight I am going to this Singles Party - an event that I, inadvertently, assigned myself to when I won the VIP passes for myself and a friend by calling into a local radio station at just the right minute. And, I gots to say, I feel like my tan is giving me that edge, that... je ne sais quoi... and I feel like I'm gonna be a bit of an It girl at this singles soiree. An It girl in all ways but bad, I hope.

I must add that I am still a long way from looking orange. And, I know, I know... the bottom line is that tanning causes cancer... I'll limit myself to one tan a week. Deal?

Monday, November 8, 2010

The Importance of Having a Mint

So the story starts off pretty blandly: I was out bar hopping this Saturday night with a girl friend of mine. We started our night off with some sushi and white wine and then headed to a new bar that we have not been to yet for some dancing. Pretty mundane, right?

Oh, I wish.

Now I haven't been dancing in a while and, considering that it is one of my favorite activities, I was itching to just let loose on the dance floor. I mean, it's just one of those things that keeps you young and going.

Another good thing about dancing is that if you're a pretty decent dancer, you will inevitably get hit on by almost any guy around you. It must be something about the dance floor, the energy of it, that grabs even the more shy guys by the balls and pulls them towards the dancing girls.

So, of course, I am dancing and I spot a cute guy from across the way. Tall, dark and handsome, just the way I like them, I see him begin to approach me as he locks eyes with me. Sure, I'm in for some innocent dancing. Mr J shouldn't even worry - I love the kid and wouldn't think about crossing any lines; plus, dancing for me is just that - dancing. It doesn't hurt, however, if it is dancing with someone sexy.

So, Mr. Tall Dark and Handsome approaches me and I am pleasantly surprised. He's got some good moves! I am thinking, this is great. It's not even midnight yet and I have already found someone good to dance with without having my toes stepped on.

But then he decides to speak.

At first I didn't think anything of it. In fact, I thought I was imagining things. How could an attractive guy like him have such BAD BREATH?! Silently, I prayed that he wouldn't talk a lot and just let me enjoy the dance.

But then, Mr Chatty Cathy, decides to speak again. Nope, I definitely wasn't imagining anything. The dude needed a Listerine strip. BADLY.

I tried to be coy about it. "Looks like your glass is empty. You should get another drink," I said, hoping that the smell of alcohol would hide whatever stench was coming out of his mouth. (Gross, gross!)

"I will later," he said in response, clueless that I was now deliberately holding my breath, trying not to inhale too much, in his presence.

I mean, seriously?

Luckily for me, my friend kept getting harassed by some drunken fool throughout the night and she finally has had enough. She tugged on my shirt, signaling to me that she was ready to go. I wasn't about to start disagreeing.

"My friend wants to leave.. BYE!"

I bolted out of there as if my life depended on me escaping the bar in under sixty seconds. Fortunately, the rank breath-ed guy did not follow me to the exit. I flung the exit door open and made my escape into the cold air of the night. As I stepped outside, I, finally, took a nice long breath.

Lesson learned: no amount of hot can save a man if he doesn't have a nice breath. And that's the absolute truth.

Thursday, November 4, 2010


I'm in love.

I've always been in love with him.

I don't know how I am going to do when the time to stop loving him will become a necessity.

I just hope that moment never comes.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Keeping On

I carefully peeled the delicate wrapper off the side of the cheese cube and sank my knife into the soft gooey French import as I listened to my companion's stories. It was an unusually hot night, during early October - something you would expect from the likes of June or July - with the only possible hints of this impending fall season showing on the few yellowing tips of tree leaves all around us.

"And, you know, I don't mean to brag... but I think we , both, can be considered to be quite a catch among our peers. What do you think about this?" Am I right or am I right?" he finished speaking and fixed the collar of his shirt before sinking his knife into the large chunk of cheese on the table in front of us.

I thought about his statement carefully. Here he was, without a doubt, a great-looking man sitting at the same table as me, glad to be taking me out on our third date. Here I was - a single woman in her mid-twenties, still unsure about her date's sexuality, despite his stories of his conquests of all these females in his past. I mean, sure, we were two very compatible people - when it came to putting down our likes, looks and values on a resume-like format. But without paper and bullet points to distill our stats to their bare essentials, were we all that great together??

I reluctantly agreed, without putting up much of a fight. After all, the dude was complimenting me (as well as himself, I suppose). Sure, his point might have been a little off, but the cheese I kept chomping down was much too savory and the wine was much too strong to put up a valid argument. He was looking good and he was smelling good and, God knows, he was definitely helping his case by paying for the whole dinner shindig.

The evening breeze, despite it being hot and humid out, was cooling off the streets and people, ever so discretely, were beginning to feel the cooler temperatures of the night beginning to send goosebumps down their arms. I saw a couple of women with bare shoulders shiver in the evening wind and look at their cell phones for time and I, too, was ready to call it a night and head home.

"Would you like to come over to my place for a drink or two before you leave?" he suddenly proposed, as we were getting up to leave the bistro.

My head told me to wrap it up for the night and not cloud my brain with any more alcohol intake that evening. Of course, despite my better judgement, I decided to neglect the rational thoughts and indulge in my spontaneous side.

I am ready to see if the drink, or two, will ever develop into something more with this guy. So what if I am not feeling all sorts of head-over-heel emotions for him. Maybe a chance and a little more time is all I need for a shot at romance.

Damn, I sound like a Rock of Love, the Philadelphia edition, spokesperson.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

The Bachelorette

I was once in love, and I believe that the residue of that feeling still lingers with me and sometimes I dilute myself into thinking that I am still in love with Mr. J.

But Mr. J has been a jerk to me, you see. He's been overly jealous of anyone and everyone who is a male friend of mine, for little to no reason at all. And, in turn and in defiance, I made it a point to make more and more frequent plans with my male friends to go out and drink and party and be merry.

"I do what I want," I tell him when I am too tired to hide my fits of rage.

"Well, do what you want then!" he yells back at me.

And I do what I want, but never to hurt him deliberately. Only to keep myself from hurting.

But I am coming to a point of no return. Where I can no longer care about Mr. J because, hey, what am I REALLY getting out of my quasi-relationship with him? What do I get out of chatting with him online or via Blackberry messenger for months without seeing him and then going out with beautiful or not so beautiful men on random dates, not necessarily because I like them, but because I want to explore the city and check out the new restaurants in the new up-and-coming areas.

And sometimes the ultimate no-no dawns on me. I mean, like, my parents would have simultaneous heart attacks if they heard me talk like this but.... what if... I'm MEANT to be single? You know, not like those sad pathetic video games geeks (no offense!) who can't get girls/guys because they spend all of their free time confined to their Wii remotes in their rooms. I am talking more like George Clooney-types, for me it would be something of a female vesion of that I suppose. I mean, I'll give it to Clooney - he's charming, attractive, seems to be interesting in conversations, got a good head on his shoulders, etc, etc. And, oh yeah, he's been known to date LOTS OF BEAUTIFUL WOMEN. Not even movie star types either. He prefers them humble, sometimes slightly naive, and always stunning.

I am not saying that I am equating myself to be a female version of George Clooney. After all, I don't particularly like the guy all that much and, no matter what I say, any woman of Clooney's age attempting to do things Clooney does would not look suave, but desperate and slightly creepy.

But I think that... until I find that special guy, even if it's Mr. J in a few years when and if he grows up a bit, I will be happy to remain single. I can make it on my own. I am damn happy in never having to rely on a guy and I believe that I can make it on my own regardless of how much I need someone to be by my side.

And perhaps all I need, similarly to Clooney being so fond of his women without ever committing, is a pretty, intelligent guy by my side. Nothing serious. No long-term commitment. Just someone who is right for me at this moment, in this situation. Just a sexy companion who can make my life just a little more colorful for the time being.

Which reminds me. Tomorrow is my next date with Mr. Gaydar from the previous post. Maybe it's time to find out if he's gay or not and maybe it's time to have a little PG-13 fun ;)

Sunday, September 19, 2010

The Age of the Metrosexual

As busy as I am with, like, 2000 jobs and the pesky 9am-Saturday-morning GMAT class that I am taking, I have been also trying to win back, one restaurant/bar at a time, my self-proclaimed but once righteously owned social-butterfly-of-the-city-of-Philadelphia title.

A little known fact about me: social situations stress me out. Public engagements, meeting new people, making small talk with newspaper stand owners leave me drained and exhausted at the end of the day. I am never one of those Chatty Cathys at Walmart giving unsolicited advice to a bored sales clerk. But I have been called "shy" and "quiet" so many times in the past, it's become almost a constant daily goal for me to 1)make small talk with one stranger a day2) engage a coworker in a non-work related banter 3)go to and be social and smiling and pleasant at at least one cultural event that does not involve any alcohol (cause it's real easy for me to be social when I'm buzzed) a week.

I don't know why, but "being social" is a very conscious decision for me. I basically have to remember to put that on my to do list or else I risk becoming completely closed off from everyone who is not my BFF. I really would enjoy being a hermit, I suppose, but instead I strive for the opposite. What a contradiction I am.

Though it's kind of the opposite when it comes to dating. I believe that due to going on so many dates in my lifetime I've grown immune to the pre-date nervous jitters. I've become the expert dater, giving date preparation tips to my friends and warning them about first date red flags. I've also learned how to act around a guy to have him consider me to be The Perfect Date. Not to be braggy-braggy, but 4 out of 5 times when I want guys to call me back for a second date, they do.

This one guy though, a new piece in my love life, frequently leaves me puzzled with his unpredictability. Not only is he surprising with the way he acts but he also surprises me with the way I change my mind about him, constantly, from date to date. And thus far we had three get togethers, however unofficial they might have been thus far, that can be considered romantic dates.

You see, when I first met the dude, I thought, nay I was convinced, that he was gay. I remember our first date just a few weeks ago at this claustrophobic but very cozy Old City bar where I walked in just to find him in the crowd and think to myself, "Oh hell no!"

He just had this suave, proper look about him that I find many gay men to have. Not only was he extremely well put together, I found myself being put off by the number of unbuttoned buttons on his collared shirt. I could see a glimpse of his chest and THAT was not something I was prepared for right off the bat.

But that'd be all fine and dandy if it wasn't for other little signs here and there. As we ordered our first round of drinks and got deep into our conversation, he kept furrowing his eyebrows in a very peculiar manner which I found effeminate. And then he would contort his wrist a certain way as he was telling me a story. I just couldn't hold back for much longer, I had to ask, as my curiosity was killing me.

"So... you worked at a straight bar before," I lead into the question, "Have you ever considered working at a gay bar?"

Yeah, I don't beat around the bush when I've had a few drinks in my system.

"I actually applied for a job as a bartender at a gay night club, but they wanted me to wear these skimpy tightie whities. And I wasn't comfortable wearing those as my job uniform," he said, slightly confused about my question.

Well, little by little and with more probing on my part, it kind of came out that he wasn't gay (allegedly) and he, indeed, had girlfriends. I was still put off by the vibe I was getting from him and at the end of that night, though we had plenty of fun drinking and dancing, I was convinced that I didn't want to go out with him again.

But then yesterday, we went to a lounge that had a beautiful outdoor patio overlooking the Delaware river and as we were having drinks, I remember thinking to myself, "What is WRONG with me? This man might, quite possibly be, one of the most good-looking, intelligent people you've ever dated. Look at his face. What a goddamn hottie. Stop thinking he's gay, for crying out loud."

So maybe my gaydar is completely broken now, or maybe I've been right all along and this guy is just dating women because he's in an intense denial about his sexuality. Or maybe he's dating women for a show so that when his parents ask him if he's dating anyone he can say, "Oh yeah, just went out with a girl yesterday." Who knows what his deal might be. I do, however, know what MY deal is.

I've decided that I am gonna go on another date with him. If anything, he's got a hell of a pretty face to look at.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Shakespeare Quotes, 2010

Eloquence. A skill that a man often confuses with the ability of being a smooth talker. To brush a girl's capricious hair lock falling on her face in just the right way and flash a row of perfectly straight teeth in a smile that could stop a determined stereotypically-Iraqi suicide bomber who is midway to his point of Ground Zero - yes, that is, without a doubt, an excellent example of a guy who certainly knows how to work his adoring female crowd. But eloquence? No, that is something entirely different that escapes a mindset of an average straight male living in the year of 2010 all together on the best of nights.

Of course, my best of nights, now that I am back and completely settled in Philly, often involves a row of overtanned douchebags, reeking of self-entitlement and steroids and Axe body spray. (Better Axe than BO as I always say.) But then again, even on the worst of my nights, I often remember what I am looking for in a guy. And I am not willing to lower my standards for a night of regrets and awkward mornings.

Some eloquent players do stand out above all the others, in their effortless ways of putting their emotions in prose that can make Shakespeare look like The Situation from Jersey Shore. I jest, of course.

Peep this overly verbose text message from an admirer who, apparently, has been eyeing me all night and finally got the guts, nay, the balls, to ask me, nay, my friend who mistakenly thought that I'd actually want this guy, for my phone number just so he could send me this gem via a text message that deserves its righteous, immortal glory:

"Hi my name is Ryan im am interested in you. you looked very hot for some man that really want to go out with you. and if you give me your name and I well be your friend for every and date you for every. and i really need a girl to go and hang out with me as a friend and as a girlfriend to date me."

Oh what a true treasure this man is. For I am always flattered when I receive drunken, broken-English verses from the creepy men who have been watching me drink my wine all night long. I am forever enamoured and my heart is aflutter because this special man, clearly, has a very unique way with words.

If lesbianism was a choice, I would have, long ago, crossed over to the other side.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Comfortably Numb

Sometimes it dawns on you, as you're beating a dead horse over its head with a long but sturdy stick, that, maybe just maybe, that horse is not going resurrect and come back from the dead. And even if it it, what kind of horse would it be, anyway?

Call me overworked and insecure, cause many a times that's exactly how I would describe myself, but I feel like my feeble attempts as having a "relationship" with Mr. J are not working out, not to my liking at least.

See, what I am supposed to do as a "girlfriend" is to refuse any flirtations from the fine gentlemen I happen to meet from time to time when going out. What I am supposed to do is refuse offers of free alcohol, decline any offers of guys' numbers, remain chaste and pure as freshly fallen snow.

Sure, I suppose, these are all reasonable requests in any standard relationship. I realize that he's hoping to keep me away from temptations (trust me, there aren't that many so he shouldn't really worry that much) but I also realize that I should be expecting, nay, demanding more from him in return. Aside from his reciprocation of all this faithfulness, I would also expect a some sort of an effort to, oh I don't know, come see me before December?

Yes, December. As in, three and a half months from now is when our next official get together has been penciled into the mental calendar.

And as for trying to see me sooner?

"I'd love to but law school is so time consuming."

But time is ticking and it won't be slowing down any time soon. Am I really willing to wait another two years, until God knows what, and hold on for dear life to this dating pattern?

Mr. J has been getting far too comfortable with this arrangement. Maybe it's time to get him back up on his toes and make him work a little.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Surviving the Zoo

A warm August Friday night is always a perfect night to go out, which is exactly what I decided to this this precise Friday. Seeing that my friend and I both had no plans, we decided to explore the neighborhood of Old City in Philadelphia. Both of us haven't been to the bars and clubs in Old City in at least a couple of years so we were both looking forward to dressing up really cute and exploring one of the old stomping grounds after what felt like ages of being away.

I was so excited to wear my dress. Low plunge neck line without revealing too much, it was the perfect choice paired up with a pair of leopard print 1" heels. ( I am tall enough already so I never wear stilettos and resort to shorter heels or even cute flats) My friend's dress was adorable as well -light with a large flower print all over, it was maybe too peasanty for my taste but totally her style and definitely flattering in all the right places.

So we park the car in the parking garage and step out onto the street. Boy, have things changed since the last time I ventured out into Old City's party area.

Almost immediately we pass a group of rowdy men and the harassment begins.

"Nice dress!" one remarks to me, as he passes by.

"Thanks," I say. The men laugh in response and I give my friend a confused look as we continue walking.

A few steps later, another group of men come across our path.

"You look Brazilian!" One of the guys addresses my friend and she responds with a "Thank you" as I did just a few moments earlier.

"Who said it was a compliment?" the guys yells back at her from a few feet away and his buddies road with laughter. Again, my friend and I exchange confused looks and keep on walking.

I suddenly began to feel like I stepped out in a neighborhood where manners and politeness were unheard of. Douchebags, we were surrounded by douchebags as far as our eyes could see.

All throughout the night...

"Those bitches are fine!"

"Look at you with your pink lipstick."

"Yo, mama, come here!"

And the array of pathetic attempts at getting our attention through a borderline rude and questionable parade of comments continued throughout the night. I tried to ignore crap from these greasy, boorish, trollish excuses for men but no amount of alcohol seemed to be able to wash away the shady surroundings that I couldn't seem to escape.

Don't like my dress or my lipstick? Too drunk to come up with a real compliment? Vocabulary too limited or memory too faulty to remember simple but lovely phrases like "Hey girl, you look pretty"? Then perhaps it is best to get a crash course in basic etiquette before escaping the Bronx Zoo and hitting the streets on Philadelphia at night.

Perhaps in the near future some genuis will come up with a breathalizer-type of a device that monitors the amount of creepiness a person possesses and locks them inside of the house after 11pm if the creepiness levels are off the charts. But a more likely scenario is that us girls are going to have to put up with creepy douchebags on a regular basis for as long as we choose to go out without male companions nearby.

So guys, as long as you use shitty pick-up lines, get used to an abundance of eye rolling from the female sex and going home with the only companion that can put up with your continuous bullshit without making a peep and still please you at the end of the night - your own damn hand.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Poetic Injustice

It snuck up on me all of the sudden. This thing called Life. It crept up gently and without a single acknowledgement from me, like these things often do. Before I knew it, the stars aligned for just one second and my part-time job and my move to Philadelphia led me to a position at a famous architecture firm, even if this position is only for 3 months. I landed it - a simple girl who sent in a cover letter and a resume three months ago - I got a call for an interview and got the job three days later.

Now I have a temporary full time job, a long-term part-time job on the weekends. I write for a weekly blog and I am going to be starting business school prep classes in 5 days. What does this all mean?

Me wishing I had a freaking guy by my side so I could share my brief nights off and a few glasses of wine (cause, damn it, I am not about to give up alcohol).

"Missing you already..."

I drove all the way through the bland nothingness of the Ohio Valley to the turns and curves ofthe Pennsylvania mountains to the city I longed for, the City of Brotherly Love. The city where I feel so at home even after nights of drinking and dealing with popped collar douchebags.

"I'm feeling kind of lonely, knowing that you won't be close to me any more..."

I felt deep satisfaction, ordering a Yuengling - what turns out to be a Pennsylvania-specific beer that people in other states consider to be a treasure. I felt the urge to tell the bouncers and bartenders who checked my ID that I wasn't REALLY from Ohio. That I was simply returning to my home I had the need to leave for a few years.

"When can we see each other again... with our busy schedules... when will it be..."

I drove to my high school, remembering all the road turns and stop signs along the way. I drove past the old Genuardi's - a grocery store I've never been to but drove past every day on my way to and from school. I drove past Jeanes hospital - the one I had to be taken to one night to remedy my severe asthma attack. I drove past my favorite bars and shops - ooh, that Nicole Millerstore... haven't been to it in a couple of years! SHOPPING!!

"Don't know if I can last with you in Philly, you going out with new guys to clubs and bars..."

I don't know either, Mr J. But all of my self-imposed glitz and glamour of the big metropolis pales at the thought of never seeing you again.

You're the only guy I've ever loved this much. (Yeah yeah, I'm being cheesy...) Everyone else fails to come even remotely close. Maybe some day you can see that being jealous of the "new guys" is a fruitless effort. All the new guys in the world can't compare to you.

I hope you can last with me in Philly. 'Cause despite the occasional meaningless dates I go on, to cure my boredom, that I don't tell you about, I can wait years for you. And you're the only guy I've ever been able to say this about.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Alter Ego

I had one too many Mango Tangos and the outdoor patio was beginning to look like a blur. And when life is a blur, I am an excellent dancer.

He came up to join me in a dance and I barely even noticed that he was a bit shorter than me.
"Hey. what's your name?" was his opener.

I laughed. The music was far too loud to tell him my real name without him having to resort to asking me, "How do you spell that?"

So I told him my alter ego's name. Oh yes, I have an alter ego and her name is Jess.

You see, when a gal has a unique name and when a boy approaches that gal with the intentions to hit on her, she can't possibly reveal her real name to him. No, no. That's just an invitation for further conversation, possibly involving that gal having to explain how she was born and grew up in a foreign country. Or simply how her parents wanted to be different and named their daughter after a city they had their first date in.

When I have no interest in a guy but do not want to appear rude, instead of telling him to piss off, I turn to my self-centered, femme fatale alter ego Jess. Jess's name is common and pretty and it does not instigate any farther follow up questions. Just the way I want to keep it.

My alter ego will laugh briskly at the guy she's not interested in, only giving him a few seconds to size him up and down. If she doesn't like what she sees, she will turn away, far too engrossed in a conversation or a dance with someone else.

Some of my friends will spend their time talking and nodding and smiling at a guy, just because he had the balls to come up to them and ask them how they are doing. Which, I admit, is an admirable and brave gesture. But trying to be polite at a bar might as well be an equivalent of slipping a guy your hotel room key. Politeness can be so often mistaken for interest, and honesty is often misinterpreted as rudeness.

My alter ego may never be polite but she is also never stuck dancing with 35-year olds smelling of whiskey and desperation.

Friday, July 16, 2010

The New Me

The new me is much like the old me, really, with a couple of minor post-grad adjustments, such as my recent move back to the city of cheesesteaks and guidos (Philly is now even more guided-up since the explosive nation-wide popularity of Jersey Shore).

The new me will do shit for free while living (temporarily?) with her parents working a part-time job in the fashion industry (plus-size fashion industry, of all places). The new me is open to taking the path less traveled after becoming a Master in Architecture. Forget being an "Architectural Intern", bring on a "Visual Merchandising Designer Assistant."

The new me recently became a blogger for ARTSHARKS which is a site that brings art and art objects to every day life and tries to get non-art enthusiasts excited about it. Predictably enough, though, the site is operated, updated and visited pretty much solely by art enthusiasts and art aficionados. But this could be fun.

The new me is also doing a free speaking engagement this fall at a Mississippian university, which seems to be kind of a big deal. My proposal for a presentation got approved last night by the peeps that are running the show and the rest, as they say, is history. Speaking in front of, what I hope to be, hundreds of people? Sure, no problem. Never mind that I have a fear of speaking in public. Come see me be a nervous wreck on stage, while operating a clicker to change Powerpoint slides. Though it is, after all, kind of a big deal so maybe being a nervous wreck for an hour is worth the exposure.

The new me is, more than ever, about living in the moment. The new me willingly volunteered to drive from Philadelphia to St Louis (with a stop in Cincinnati to tend to my apartment that I am still technically the tenant of until the end of July) to see Mr J. Today, he is flying back from Europe into the lovely city, most notably known for its giant steel arch and possibly late-nineties rapper Nelly, and I will be driving in just a few measly hours to see him and, let's be honest, to get some for the first time in three months.

The new me is also ready to not let the rose-colored glasses get in the way of seeing the world the way it is. Just two days ago, I went on a date with a guy whom I met last Saturday at a Philly bar. Ya know, gotta keep my options open, in case this 12-hour relationship with Mr J doesn't work out.

Was my date cute? He was pretty darn gorgeous. Was there a connection? Sparks flew left and right. Was I blown away enough to forget about Mr J? Absolutely not.

But is it really so wrong to keep my options open? The new me certainly doesn't think so.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Southern Salvation

The waiter, a quite remarkable Wayne Brady look-alike, smiled at me as he brought me my second glass of wine and nodded at my empty plate, as if to confirm that I was done picking at the bits of garlic fries stuck to the plate's bottom.
"Will you be having any dessert, ma'am?" he asked.

"Oh no," I involuntarily rubbed my belly in a gesture of complete and utter fullfillment, "No, I really don't believe I have any room left for dessert."

"Very well, the wine is the dessert then."

I took a sip of my Chardonnay - it cost me a pretty penny but was well worth it. Without being a wine connoisseur, I could tell from the first moment the alcohol touched my lips that it wasn't just another measly $12 dollar bottle of white wine I had grown so accustomed to. This was the kind of wine they invented the word "palette" for - all of my senses were alive and present for the tasting. Taking another sip (more of a gulp really), I looked outside at the passerbys on the street.

I heard a medley of Southern accents, I saw a variety of cowboy hats of all sizes and colors, I heard banjos being played by the street musicians - melodies mixing with the sounds of Ray Charles coming from the jukebox of the restaurant I chose for dinner. I felt the urge to capture every moment, feeling immense happiness for having experienced the joy of this Friday in Nashville and the sadness knowing that I would never be able to share this precise moment with anyone else. This experience is solely mine for the taking.

These are the moments, when I am away from everyone I know, exploring a new city - these are the moments that I wish I could share with a lover. These are the moments that find me the most vulnerable but also the most stripped away from all pretenses, with my guard taken down and with an almost child-like thirst for adventure. This is the side of me that doesn't come out to play too often but it is the part of me I would love to share with a significant other... when the time is right.

It is cities like Nashville, cities that are full of heart and soul and history, that I visit from time to time that make my heart skip and beat and make me believe that I can really trade the comforting anonymity of a big city for a welcoming embrace of a Southern music town. It is cities like Nashville that make me want to trade in my power suit and Marc Jacobs shades for a simple sundress and a pair of cowgirl boots.

It is cities like Nashville that convince me, again and again, that as long as I live I will never settle for something that doesn't make me happy. Even if not settling means searching for happiness for the rest of my life, I would rather die trying than give up and become complacent with the mediocrity of the every day.

Just let me pause for a second and finish this glass of wine. Then, I am back on the road again until I can walk no more.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The Gamble

I packed it all up in, literally, one day. Even my brand new Wii that only saw the light for a couple of days was right back in its black box, ready to be stuffed (or carefully placed, to avoid damage) in the back of my Jeep. My art supplies, once scattered about my apartment, stored in various room crevices, behind bookshelves, behind storage boxes, were now neatly sorted by size and packaged in clear plastic bags. My clothes - I wasn't so neat in preparing them for the move - were stuffed in cardboard boxes, winter sweaters often used as cushioning between fragile wine glasses and picture frames.

I was ready to move back to Philadelphia, after a three year absence and much longing for the city I realized I loved so much only after I moved away from it. I was ready to leave Cincinnati behind and see what the City of Brotherly Love still had to offer me. I was prepared to turn a new page in my book and begin a new chapter.

The internship opportunity came rather quickly, unlike many of the firms that offered me interviews for their positions and then would drag the selection process out for weeks and weeks (often just to tell me that they changed their mind and would not be hiring anyone in this volatile economy). Within days, the interviewer whom I had the pleasure with speaking for the internship position called me back and offered me this three-month contract position.

Was I overqualified for it? Absolutely. Were there hundreds of other unemployed designers applying for the same job? Without a doubt. Was I tired of the job search and disheartened by the fact that 85% of my talented former classmates, now with their Master degrees, were still unemployed and searching, searching, searching? Of course, I was. As I was relieved to fall into this internship opportunity. A risk worth taking - this may or may not open up various doors for me within the company - I agreed to accept the position. I agreed to move back to Philadelphia, at least for the next three months.

The present state of the financial matters of the country left me rather bitter and cynical. I saw couples put their relationships on hold because one person got a job in the big city and the other person had to move back with the parents across the country just to save up some money. I saw people consider and take jobs that they ordinarily would never take, in order to get by and get through the tough economic times. I saw people question their profession, which they were previously passionate about, because they wondered if they could survive on their passion alone. I saw people quit - rarely - but when they did, it was always a tragic affair. I, myself, came so close to quitting and breaking down a couple of times, always seeming to gather my pieces and picking them back up again just to march on and do another tired online application process for another job.

I felt it was the right time for me to indulge my wallet with guaranteed-for-three-months paychecks. I felt it was the right time to trade in Cincinnati for something, anything else.

To be frank, I was ready to leave the city that felt so little to me. A city that could not stand my occasional need for absolute anonimity - the kind of anonimity that makes some so lonely in the crowded places like New York - where I could escape from the knowing gazes and be just another faceless blur in the crowds of strangers. I knew that Cincinnati could not provide this kind of unique comfort to me, as no matter where I went, I always expected, and often did hear "Hey, so good to run into you here..."

For what it's worth, the hardest decision in the job seeking process was not even choosing Philadelphia over Cincinnati. It was a conscious effort to listen to my head, instead of my heart. I have yet to see if my gamble will pay off or not in the end.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Can We Talk about This?

What I both love and hate about Cincinnati is how small of a city it can be sometimes. Hate the fact because I can't help but run into the same unsavory characters time in time again no matter what restaurant, bar, or store I go to. Love the fact because running into people leaves little to no opportunity for them to lie to me without me finding out.

Which leads me to my story. My lovely friend The Entrepreneur, who tried to invite himself to my graduation and suggested he meets my parents, has been on a back burner for quite some time now. I couldn't put my finger on it but, besides not being particularly attracted to him, I sensed that something was going on. Without knowing what exactly that something was, I, nevertheless gradually distanced myself from him, avoiding the talk about my intentions of us being just friends, but coming up with excuses for us not to go out on any more dates.

"Oh, I'm out of town." (which I was)

"Oh, I'm hanging out with some of my girl friends tonight." (where by "girlfriends" I meant a bottle of Pinot Grigio and the latest episode of The Hills)

"Oh, I'm feeling a bit tired." (get the hint already, you stupid man)

The perfect opportunity to gracefully peace out came to me a couple of days ago. It started off by me deciding to go lay by my apartment community outdoor pool and ended with the following Facebook exchange, after he innocently sent me a message inquiring whether I was back home from Philadelphia or not.

All I have to say is... a womanizer? Bitch please.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Abandoning the Ship

"Less than 30 days..."

His text message countdown is as vague as they come but I know right away what he is referring to - I, too, am silently and impatiently counting down until the day he comes back from Spain and I can see him again.

"Will you come visit me the day I come back?" he follows up his original message.

"What day is it?"


Friday is ideal for a weekend-long visit. It's a perfect day to make a six hour drive from Cincinnati to St. Louis and have him greet me with open arms, hug me, kiss me. Friday is a perfect day for a heartfelt reunion after months of texting, wishing and longing.

But that Friday is also a month away and a lot can change meanwhile. Despite wanting to follow my heart's desires, I can't help but hope to find a job and follow my career path wherever it might take me. The chances of me staying in Cincinnati for much longer are very slim.

He knows this - I keep telling him about my interviews in Philly, Cleveland, Raleigh - but he chooses to implore me instead about the exact time I will be coming to see him a month from now. Remaining deliberately or unintentionally forgetful of the fact that I am in the midst of an intense job search/quest to figure out my next step in life, he chooses to assume that I will be around for him. Perhaps it's easier to assume the best until it is proven otherwise. But still.

"So are you coming on the 16th?" I receive another text message from him. I am in the middle of a dance floor somewhere in Philadelphia on my weekend trip to revisit my college friends, but I pause amidst dancing and grinding bodies and reread the text message over and over until I notice my friends glancing over at me with growing concern.

"Yes I'll be there," I type back in haste and press "Send".

Am I lying to him? Am I lying to myself?

Only time will be able to tell...

Monday, June 7, 2010

Rules of Infatuation

The men of Cincinnati (and I am generalizing here a bit) have very odd dating tendencies. To put it kindly.

When I moved to Cincinnati a few years go, I thought Philly, my hometown, was bad. Boy, was I not prepared for the lovely Midwestern surprise that welcomed me to the Queen city with its open, cow-tipping and bocce-playing arms.

Going from one unsuccessful date to another, I finally came to a conclusion that it would better for my sanity to never date anyone from Cincinnati again. It's not that guys here are absolutely insane - no, they make perfectly lovely friends, but when it comes to crossing that friendship line into the dating realm, the quirky tendencies slowly involve into creepy behavior and the weirdness just comes pouring out like that oil leak down in the Gulf Coast.

However, this self-imposed dating ban does not apply to people who were not originally born in Cincinnati. As long as the dudes were born, or grew up elsewhere, I found that I could get along with them more easily. We could more readily find subjects to talk about that did not involve the latest Over The Rhine (Harlem Lite, if you will) "hot spots" or going "four-wheeling" on Sunday afternoons.

So through my turmoil with Mr J, I continued to keep my options open, while being cautiously optimistic about the Cincinnati dating scene. And there were a few rays of hope in the sea of blandness. For example, when I met the Entrepreneur, who is originally from LA and is a bar owner and promoter, I found him to be refreshingly worldly and verbose without being pompous.

But is he living up to my expectations today, after four or five dates that I've been on with him thus far?

On the surface, there is nothing wrong with the man. I will stand by my initial assessment of him being charming and well-versed and quite cute, but I will also admit that something is just... not quite right.

Like the other night, he invited me to his bar opening in an unnamed Cincinnati suburb and made it sound like it was going to be a classy, top-of-the-world affair. I understood that a classy affair in Cincinnati wouldn't be quite up to the standards of most of the major US cities, but I was looking forward to a night out on a town, a couple of drinks and an engaging conversation with the Entrepreneur more than I was looking for anything over-the-top out of the bar itself.

"You're looking lovely, my love," he flashed his smile upon my arrival at the front door. I forced out a reciprocating gesture of acknowledgment and tried to ignore how many "loves" he used in a single sentence. After all, it was his night, his opening - I was a guest at his party and I intended to be nothing but gracious.

However, my graciousness quickly left the building as soon as I was seated at a rustic table in the dark corner of a poorly-lit outdoor patio. My good intentions were quickly replaced by the feelings of disappointment and resentment as the Entrepreneur excused himself from the table shortly after seating me to shake some hands of the new arrivals and check on the supplies of Absolut and Ciroc and the front bar.

I ordered a drink from a bored cocktail waitress and slammed a 5 dollar bill on a table. God forbid I get a one free drink after driving for almost thirty minutes to support Entrepreneur in his venture. I sat there, shivering from the frighteningly chilly wind gusts for a good number of minutes and by myself. The sparse crowds were not providing too much entertainment in terms of people-watching and I was quickly relegated to pulling out my phone and attempting to look busy fake-texting no one.

The Entrepreneur came back with one Diet Coke in his hand and plopped his ass next to me on a bench.

"How are you doing, love?", he asked, oblivious to my discontent.
"Oh fine, great, you know. Just glad it's Friday..." I pulled out my standard "Oh thank God it's Friday, this week's been hell" line that I usually use minutes before I politely duck out of a lame party early.

"Oh I understand completely. So when's your graduation?" he twirled the tiny straw in his glass, mixing the soda with the melting ice cubes.

"Next week," I answered absent-mindedly. I was completely done being charming for the night.

"That's great. You should be so proud of yourself. So do you think I can come to you graduation and meet the folks?"

Oh hell to the no. I was glad I wasn't sipping on any liquids at that moment 'cause, surely, they would have probably come out of my nostrils in the sheer impulse of shock and amusement.

"I... we only have a limited number of seating arrangements at the arena. I had to make reservations for my parents well in advance..."

Maybe he knew I was lying to him - I really could barely keep a straight face. Bringing a man to one of the most important events of my life is something that I would do only if I was involved in a serious relationship with him, certainly not after just four casual dates.

I left within an hour of arriving at the Entrepreneur's bar with a sour but familiar taste of disappointment in my mouth. The good thing was that he, too, felt that the chemistry between us fizzled out all in the sixty-minute time span.

Or so I thought.

At approximately 2am early in the morning, just around the time of the bar closing, I received a text message from the Entrepreneur, laying out his feelings on a table:
"I'm sorry if I seemed nervous. I suppose it's due to the level of infatuation I have for you."

I couldn't believe it. After such a lackluster night, I, somehow, managed to sweep the man off his feet, all while having no intentions of being flirtatious or charming or sweet. Perhaps, I've been approaching this dating game from a wrong angle but, as it stands right now, the next man I may or may not go on a date with will not be our Entrepreneur.

After all, Mr J is still very much on my mind, even if he is thousands of miles away.

Damn it.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Insignificant Others

You are insignificant to me. An insignificant other, I think, as I walk down this concrete sidewalk in the late hours of a Saturday afternoon that's well past its prime. I embellished you and made you into this wonderful creature of a man in my own head, yet you think nothing of pulling quite a little number on me.

I pass a college-age couple holding hands on their way to Potbelly and I smirk at the idea of holding hands with anyone. Ever. I am frigid and will not be letting my fingers loose any time soon, not even for a single moment because a single moment is enough for me to clench that Blackberry and type a dramatic one-liner to you.

I can end it with you right now. But I am still waiting.

You want me to get on that roller-coaster of an emotional ride where the high peaks are counteracted by the deep and infuriating lows. You want to make me feel how intense of an effect you have on me by making me go from balling my eyes out on my bed in a fetal position to throwing something at you and punch a hole in my apartment wall, one right after another. But I won't/I'll try not to.

I enter Potbelly to order a sandwich and stand behind the lovey-dovey couple, half-heartedly contemplating getting a tuna sandwich with swiss cheese and a bottle of Orangina. You pop up in my head again and distract me enough to not be able to formulate a cohesive order once I approach the sandwich girl behind the counter.

"One second, I haven't decided yet," I mutter and step back, letting the people behind me place their orders instead.

The chalk-board with daily soup and milkshake specials is to the left of me and I pretend to be perusing the selection, deep in thought. Meanwhile, I unfold the palm of my hand and look down at my Blackberry, as my anxiety builds up inside and threatens to spill over.

This must be the fiftieth time today that I've checked my phone hoping for something, anything from you.

No messages. No messages for three days, while you're galloping around somewhere in the exotic Mediterranean lands with your study-abroad friends. Do you believe that?

I curse my Blackberry and technology of the last twenty years in general for making me feel so alienated while being so connected to the world. I can't miss a single newsletter in my Gmail inbox from Architectural Record, yet your daily updates have been abruptly cut down from three or four to none.

"Are you ready to order?" the sandwich girl urges me to make a decision and prevent me from blocking the inflow of customers coming in for a dinner after some baseball game.

"Yeah... tuna sandwich on white bread with provologne... please..."

My meal is the least of my problems right now.

Monday, May 24, 2010

And After Tonight

To Grandma. I miss you every day.

You look up at the stars winking down at you from the sky and see them smirking back in silence at the tiny human speckles down below on the ground - speckles that are going about their daily lives, so immersed in the daily troubles that they cannot notice anyone but themselves. The stars look down from a distance that cannot even be grasped by your understanding. Your perception is that we are enclosed within this little box of a world, because we can't and don't want to understand our insignificance in the grand scheme of things that had happened and are yet to happen long after we are gone.

Yet there is a sense of comfort that can be found at gazing up at the stars in those late-night moments of loneliness. Knowing that there might be someone, somewhere on this tiny little planet looking at the very same star at the very same time creates an illusive but calming connection to another human being thousands of miles away. And at that moment, even though thousands of miles away might as well be light years of a distance, we can tell ourselves that we are somehow connected to each other and feel relevant and needed.

Dare I admit that in my moments of sappiness I, too, look up at the stars and become a hopeful, naive and wide-eyed sixteen year old, even just for a limited number of minutes? Because I do and because lately I've become more and more appreciative of my moments of innocence, which I crave and long for. That delectable feeling of opening your heart to the world, where you are not yet aware of all the hurt and pain and disappointment other people can inflict upon you if you are not too careful - those are the moments to live for. To never become too cynical or reluctant to experience and explore new things. To never settle for anything but the butterflies, as Carrie Bradshaw from Sex and the City would say.

Today was that day when I lived for the butterflies and I let my heart feel things, even where the sky was still much too bright for me to see the stars.

Today was the day that ended a chapter in my life with me successfully defending my Master's thesis for the very last time in front of an audience of 10 skeptical and very tired architectural critics.

Today was the day I had my heart broken by my career choice and the gloom of today's economy when I got rejected by a firm that I worked for three years ago, in the hey day of the architectural and construction boom. I have a 4.0 grade point average and I am unemployed. Let my brilliance sink in the ocean of unemployment, why don't you America.

Today was the day that I submitted my 170-page thesis document for the university's approval, but not before adding one more page - an acknowledgments blurb where I simply stated,

"To Grandma, I miss you every day."

- and surprising even myself by uncontrollably balling my eyes out as I struggled to type out the words.

Today was the day I looked up at the night sky from my balcony, soaking in the little triumphs and disappointments of the recent moments that are defining of my personal history but are, most likely, simple irrelevant inner struggles to anyone else but myself, and became grateful for all that I have, despite all that I don't have.

Grateful for being able to say that I have experienced the feeling of being in love and for being able to love unconditionally like a lusty seventeen-year-old at the age of twenty five, for being able to say that I've given my best to the profession that may never pay off for me, for being able to live and let go of the worries in my drunken moments. For being able to be myself.

At the end of the day... well, maybe not every day, but at least once in a while, I think we should all be able to be grateful to be in our own skin. Even when the grass seems a bit greener on the other side and the stars aren't shining down on us as brightly as they can be.

Monday, May 17, 2010

The Drug of Choice

Drugs can be addictive, kids - it's a fact. Some people feed off of their own high, just living for the next moment they can get their fix, with everything else just becoming a filler until the next time they get their dose of happiness in a syringe, packet or a blunt. And what is all the anticipation for? A quick couple of hours spent feeling lifted and a very possible withdrawal later on, just to come back and repeat the cycle all over again. Oh what a feeling it is to be relying on a substance to get through and to be happy, but some people will do anything to be happy, even if they are paying a fatal price for it.

Doesn't love operate on the same level, when a guy/girl might be wrong for you but you keep coming back because there are glimpses of bliss, here and there, because there is hope for something you conjured up in your own head to get you through the stressful minutes of the every day?

I tried to quit my drug because I wanted to move on, convinced that there might be something better out there, convinced that my withdrawals and hangovers weren't worth the couple of hours every couple of months where I felt completely and totally happy. I tried working on moving on, maybe half-heartedly and maybe still hoping for my drug to keep my heart fried all the time without any side-effects, but I did try, nevertheless.

However, when my drug... Mr J contacted me and said that he wanted to come visit me for a day before he left for Europe to take a couple of classes in some abroad-law-school program, I could no longer deny my interest in him. I shifted things around, I stayed up later every night to squeeze more work in and be more productive, all so I could free up some time to see Mr J.

I was discombobulated, exasperated and out of breath, rushing into my apartment Friday evening - fresh from an airport and a job interview in Philly , I beat Mr J to my apartment by only a couple of flimsy minutes. While at my place, I ran around frantically, stuffing excess articles of clothing and books on my living room floor into the nooks and crannies of my closets so that my apartment would look pristine in time for his visit. I couldn't forget freshening up either - I curled my eyelashes, applied some mascara, powdered my cheeks with blush, sprinkled a bit of my favorite Vera Wang perfume on my wrists. I was about to revert back to my old way and give into my drug of choice, and I couldn't wait to do it.

He arrived a few minutes behind me and called to let me know he was at the door in the lobby downstairs. I came to get him, opened the front door. A slightly reserved but a heart-felt hug and a few flights of stairs later, and we were cozying up on my living room couch.

This time was different. We were both quiet for quite a bit but there was a feeling on unspoken tenderness between us. He put his arm around me and kissed the top of my head. I wrapped my legs over his, my head resting on his shoulder, not a word spoken between us but so much being said at the same time.

After a while, he finally broke the silence, "Did you miss me?"

"Of course I did. Did you miss ME?"

"I did. I missed you a lot."

I felt unconditional love again. The love I've been trying to suppress and move on from and flat out reject all together. All because I couldn't stand the feeling of longing I had for him when he was not with me. But is the feeling of longing worse than feeling nothing at all? Is it really worse than trying to coast through my dates with the Entrepreneur, feeling tingles of excitement here and there, but for the most part experiencing all-encompassing numbness and indifference?

And like a crackhead right out of rehab and back on the street again with no supervision and no willingness to remain sober, I gave into my drug once again.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Playing the Field

I haven't been to this stupid bar in over two years, and for a good reason. I always call this place an "Applebee's with a dance floor" because that is exactly what the interior of it looks like. Massive dark wood booths, an assortment of memorabilia plastered all over the walls, an occasional moose head here and there, neon Budweiser logo lights. Oh course, Applebee's does not have a mechanical bull in the middle of the dance floor, nor does it have girls selling beer out of ginormous ice buckets, wearing extremely form-fitting uniforms. But that, of course, just adds to the atmosphere of tackiness.

And when I returned there yesterday with a date, it looked like nothing at all had changed in two years. The bull was still there, along with the tacky memorabilia and, I'm fairly certain, that the dance floor and the outdoor patio was still populated by the same people who were coming there two years ago.

It was drizzling slightly, but the breeze outside felt wonderful so after my date did a round of hand shakes with the familiar bartenders, we decided to go to the patio to have a couple of drinks.

I felt like I had this dating game down to a science and, as we all know, science is a precision-oriented, calculated, cold-blooded profession. I couldn't feel the spark of any kind but I couldn't pinpoint out as to why I was apathetic. Nor was I terribly disappointed about the lack of desire to tear the guy's clothes off then and there.

He... let's call him the Entrepreneur, he was certainly easy on the eyes, intelligent and ambitious, and with a lot of jingle in his pocket. Great style, good personality, well-versed and well-traveled. I was enjoying his company even before the alcohol started to hit me, which is always a good sign.

"...And, you know, I just felt like I couldn't really live in New York for a very long time. I mean, I love the energy and I love how busy it always is but I also like my peace and quiet.." He was telling me about his recent trip to the Big Apple.

I looked around the bar, while at the same time being careful as to nod and smile to show my engagement in our conversation. Meanwhile, these two guys at the bar caught my eye, not because they were particularly attractive or obnoxiously drunk, but because they kept looking over to my table. They, inevitably, noticed me noticing them and, to my slight dismay, one of the guys got off his bar stool and approached our table.

"Hey, can I buy you a shot?" He was direct but friendly.

"What kind of shot?"

"Any kind you want. Tequila?"

"Well I really don't like tequila."

"Yeah, sure. I"ll get you a SoCo and lime. So.. can I buy it for you?"

I was about to say no but before I could say anything the Entrepreneur suggested that we both walk over to the bar and take the guy up on his offer to buy me a shot. He looked undisturbed by the fact that a man just imposed himself onto our table and disrupted the conversation. I felt uneasy but before I could even hesitate I was already on my way to the bar.

"So who is he?" Bar Guy asked, nodding at my date. I looked in the direction of the nod - my date was already busy conversing with a couple of Bar Guy's friends.

"Oh, he's a friend. A good friend," I said with hint of uncertainty. I was pretty sure that the Entrepreneur couldn't hear me, but I also wasn't completely sure. I glanced at the bartender - she was in the process of pouring my shot in a shot glass.

"Oh, a friend?" he didn't seem to believe me, "Well, you looked really bored at the table and I thought you might need to be rescued."

Gosh, I didn't think I looked that disinterested in the Entrepreneur - I was certainly not having a bad time, but maybe my facial expressions were speaking louder than words.

"I don't think I can drink it all at once." my shot finally arrived but as the liquid touched my lips, it tasted toxic and felt overpowering on my tongue. I also was losing whatever little interest I had in the Bar Guy. The whole situation... sandwiched between Bar Guy and Entrepreneur, just enduring the awkwardness for a shot of Southern Comfort. Yeah.... I felt shady.

"Let's go to a different bar," I felt a tap on my shoulder and realized that the Entrepreneur had enough of the conversation with strangers. I looked down at my shot glass - it was still two-thirds full.

"Yeah, okay..." I looked at Bar Guy. God knows what he must have been thinking at that point. He certainly didn't buy my "He's just a friend" excuse. "It was good to meet you. I gotta go."

My date and I squeezed our way through the crowd, making our way to the exit. It felt wrong to be getting a free drink from a random guy and then bolting out of there like the place was on fire. But it was also odd that the Entrepreneur seemed okay with it all. I liked me some free drinks but I also would have liked it if, upon Bar Guy approaching our table, my date would have said something along the lines of "Hey man, it's all good but I don't think the lady is interested." Maybe it can be defined as just some old-fashioned machismo, but I probably would have appreciated it nonetheless.

At any rate, I just did not feel good about the free shot. At least I left two-thirds of it at the bar for Bar Guy to enjoy it. As for the bar itself... I won't be terribly upset if I don't come back there for another two years or so. Maybe getting free shots from random men just ain't for me after all.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Cupid's Chokehold

I kind of noticed that he has been acting a tad bit differently towards me lately. Not that I could really pinpoint the cause right away and deduce that he might like me as more than friends - I am a bit dense when it comes to picking up that vibe from men - but I could sense that he has been a bit extra nice, extra polite and extra accommodating to me during the last couple of weeks.

It could have probably always stayed that way... him silently hoping for more and me never getting a clue and continuing going about my daily business, saying "Hi" to him in our architecture classes and studios and innocently inquiring him about the progress of his latest project. But the darn invention called Facebook Chat let it all out in the open one studious night.

I remember it as if it just happened. I was working on my laptop last Thursday night, preparing for yet another thesis presentation when a Facebook chat message popped up. Despite that Facebook chat has been the staple of this social networking web site for quite a while, I still get starltled every time someone chats me up on there. I don't ever linger on Facebook for very long - just casually sign on, browse my friends' status updates and sign off right after that. On those days that I do forget to sign off, I am usually forced into spontaneous conversations with people I haven't talked to in a number of years and uncomfortable flirtations from friends of friends whom I have never really met more than once or twice. Sometimes it's nice to catch up with a fried or two but I am constantly afraid that someone creepy or irrelevant is going to chat me up any second.

So the friend begins a school-related chat with me, yadda yadda yadda... then suddenly says:

"So enough about school. Tell me what does a woman like you usually do to relax on an evening like this?"

Bless his heart, I should have realized right then and there where this conversation was going. I played dumb though and said, "Oh you know, nothing special. Drinking some wine and watching Cartoon Network."

With every man having a passionate affair with Cartoon Network, it was not surprising that my friend complimented me on my choice of television:

"That's great! Totally makes up for all the shitty shows that most girls like to watch."

Excuse me. I have completely come to terms with the fact that I love watching "The Hills" in spite of how aware I am how vapid and close-minded those girls are and how out of touch with reality their little world is.

Nevertheless, I bit my tongue and probably said something witty and charming which, I suppose, urged him on to take the next step and ask me:

"So this might be a complete shot in the dark but do you wanna grab a drink with me sometime?"

"A drink.. as in a friend-type situation?" I did not know how to say it without making it sound awkward.

"Yeah... I suppose... we can do that too if that's what you would prefer."

How do you say no to a friend without jeopardizing your friendship? Is there a magic formula for politely declining an invitation to a date without looking like a terrible person (read: a bitch)?

"Well, I just got out of this year-long on and off thing with this guy from St. Louis..." I responded. Was it ever an on and off thing with Mr J? I don't know, but for the intents and purposes of this conversation, it sure was at that moment, "I'd totally be up for getting drinks with you as friends though."

Boy, was I glad I had a big ol' glass of Shiraz right by my side at that moment because it came in handy as I took a gulp to shake off the uncomfortable feeling of turning someone down. Bravery, in the age of technology, is not quite the same as it was back in the day when people were forced to ask each other out in person. Yet still, I silently admired my friend for being able to say that he was interested in me. I just wished I could have returned the sentiment.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

When One Woman is Simply Not Enough

"Look, I know you have a girlfriend,"
I was on a verge of losing my cool, as I typed that in a Facebook chat window. I mean, who did he take me for? I could not trust a single word he was saying, even as he was attempting to pay me compliments and telling me that I reminded him of Natalie Portman. And really, in my book, that's a lovely comparison to make.

But not to be taken for a fool as he was trying to butter me up, I knew what he was trying to do. His Facebook page spoke for itself - the numerous photos with a bombshell blonde, the recent flirty wall posts from the said blondie with little hearts at the ends of each sentence, the relationship status, for Christ's sake, all indicated that the boy was in a relationship.

"We broke it off," he said, "Let me call you. I can explain this bs."

"No need to," I replied, "I know you have a girlfriend and I'm not going to mess with that."

Been there, done that. Who would want to be a back-up girl again? Certainly not me.

"It really ended. If you would just talk to me I can explain everything. Let's just say it ended with a shattered Blackberry."

Oh really? I pictured the blonde going through the guy's Blackberry, while he was taking a shower or drinking with his buddies in another room, trying to affirm her suspicions that her boyfriend was cheating on her. I pictured her coming across a flirty text message and storming out of the room, livid that she trusted him this entire time, while he was playing her behind her back. The guy probably tried to stop her from slamming the door in her face, grabbed her... "Stop! Let me explain. It's not what you think!"

She would hear none of it, slapping him across his face with her perfectly manicured hand. "Do you think I'm fucking stupid? I found your text messages to her!" She probably ran back to the room where his Blackberry was, grabbed it off a nightstand, scrolled the little black ball down until she found the message and shoved the Blackberry in his face, pointing, screaming.

"Then what is THIS? You're just friends with her, huh? I don't call my friends "baby"!! Don't fucking tell me that it's not what I think it is.. It's exactly what I think it is!"

He probably stood dumbfounded, not expecting this turn of events. And as she saw the blatant admittal of his wrongdoings written on his face, she hurled the Blackberry across the room, slamming it into a wall and shattering it into pieces. She, then, ran out of the house, holding back her tears and slamming the door shut behind her.

And here he was, putting moves on me, probably mere hours after the fight with his girlfriend, telling me how hot and intelligent ("A rare combination" as he put it) I was.

Maybe if I was eighteen and dumb as a rock.. maybe I would feel flattered. Maybe I would even agree to go on a date with him. But at twenty five, I do not have the time to deal with little boys. So I let him go back to his sandbox.

I simply signed off.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

On Ineligible Bachelors

I believe that internet dating can make one lose most, if not all, of the faith in humanity. Either most of the people utilizing these sites are so unskilled at writing normal messages to the guys/ladies they are interested in that they come off as completely creepy/dumb/horny-as-hell, or they are just simply expressing their true selves. In which case, I am scared for America.

Understandably, internet dating sites seek to match two singles with one another; and, understandably, for some people dating and sex come together hand in hand, but if you haven't been laid in several years and your standards have been lowered to the point of wanting to find a pair of legs in a skirt, don't declare that within the first three lines of your introductory message. A tid bit of advice: perhaps you can scramble a bit of money together, fly to Vegas and hire a girl for a night to fulfill your needs. A dating site is not really the place to clean your pipes.

You complain when women don't respond to your messages. Perhaps, they are just following a simple and sensible rule - "When you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all." Sorry, bud, but if your profile picture is showing you showing off your flabby stomach in a dirty bathroom mirror and your "Looking For" section lists that you are basically willing to take any sort of human affection you can get (from new friends to random hook-ups), you're not really selling it to the ladies out there. Sure, honesty is great - do not mislead women into thinking that you are Brad Pitt's long lost brother and have six figures in your bank account. But, Jesus, how many replies do you expect to get when you live in a trailer by the river with your crazy mother and children from two failed marriages? Just think about it... if you were a decent-looking guy with a Master's degree and high hopes for the future, would YOU want to settle for a chick with more baggage than the airport storage facility?

If a woman does decide to respond to your message but says that you are not her type, please do not try to convince her otherwise. No matter how many times you say, "Yeah, that's cool. Doesn't mean that we can't still be friends.", a sensible woman will not buy into that crap and stop responding completely. Especially if that woman is clearly on the dating site in search of a romance. If you really ARE looking for long-distance buddies or a gal pal to grab a vanilla mocha latte with, you are barking up a wrong web site.

Maybe you are cute, smart, have your crap together and initiate communication with a woman with a witty, thought-out message. Maybe, upon reviewing your profile, that woman finds you to be even more intriguing and worth getting to know. Make your intentions clear - if you say that you are serious about dating someone and getting to know them better, do not sporadically disappear off the radar for weeks on end, just to reappear again later. If you really joined the site as a means of boasting your ego and you really have no intentions of dating anyone you meet online, delete your account and go meet someone at a local bar. Who has the time to get their hopes up in thinking, "Oh this guy actually seems promising." just to have you play the peek-a-boo game for your own amusement. Now I see you, now I don't.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Practice Makes (Not That) Perfect

People are such complicated creatures. Not just men and not just women... people in general confuse the hell out of each other on a daily basis. And when it comes to dating, well, nowadays everyone comes with their very own manual of the do's and don't's of dating, lists of things required in a potential mate and a slew of horror stories of first dates gone wrong.

Unfortunately for some, I also come with a dating manual and various sets of lists of requirements and as I grow older and wiser, the manual is becoming more extensive and the lists grow longer. Of course, I tell myself that I am allowed to be picky with the dudes I choose to date because I qualify myself to be "quite a catch." I mean, seriously, I think I am intelligent, ambitious, funny, pretty and have a pretty good outlook on life. What MORE do these men want?!

However, on several occasions, especially the ones where I was not particularly interested in my date, I found myself to be a lot less charming and witty (and sober) than I would have wanted to be. On those occasions, I imagine, if my dates had dating blogs of their own, they would have probably classified me to fall into one of the following categories.

The Alcoholic:

A good rule of thumb to follow of a date is to limit your drinking to a couple of glasses of wine or beer, depending on a setting. However, when I am not having that good of a time, I help myself to a generous amount of alcohol to make the date more fun (at least, in my head). I would imagine some of my dates in the past were less than thrilled as they watched me down one drink after another, in an effort to make the minutes pass a little bit quicker.

The Debbie Downer:

Usually, if I am smitten by a guy, I would care less if I am sitting right next to a restroom at a restaurant or if it is too hot outside to play miniature golf or if the stock market went down again that day. However, if a guy is less than lovely, I WILL find something to complain about - the cafe lighting, the world economy, the job market - no topic is safe as I will surely rain on my date's parade. After all, if I am not having a good time, then why should he?

The Workaholic:

I will talk about work and work only. If I am not interested in getting to know a guy and he's all out of questions to ask me, I will start talking about work-related topics - how much I have left to do on my Master's thesis before I graduate, how writing a perfect resume can be an absolute bitch, how many hours I worked last week in order to meet a deadline. Check, please!

The Bore:

Sometimes I just don't feel like being bothered with conversation at all. It's not that I don't try but sometimes I run of topics to discuss and it's better to accept awkward silence for the phenomenon that it is and enjoy a Dynamite Roll while listening in to the conversation at the neighbors' table.

The Tease

Once in a while, I THINK I like a guy and I do make an effort to get to know him, to laugh at all the right moments, and to flip my hair just the right way. I may even kiss a guy at the end of a date and say that I hope to see him again very soon. He may leave the date thinking that he's got me wrapped around his finger.

And then the next morning comes and I wake up and change my mind. "Ugh, he seemed WAY too eager," I might think then. Or even, "Ugh, I can't put my finger on it but there was something very shady about that guy." And sometimes I may be right about the shadiness, but the fact is, sometimes I can change my mind in a matter of 24 hours for no justifiable reason at all.

Before I scare anyone off, if I haven't already, I will add that 90% of the time I am a charming, sweet, down-to-earth, cool chick and, most of the times, I know right away if I like a guy or not so I don't lead him on forever and ever. However, we all have our off days, whether it is our date's fault or not, and it is okay. I, for one, remain unapologetic to all those who might have had a bad time with me. For all that I know, they might have deserved it.