Dating 101 : Don’t Get Drunk

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Turns out I date men who love alcohol.

I blame it on the 20-something culture where being social means you’re drinking. Gloss over any state of discomfort with booze and you are golden.

Whatever the case, I’ve been with my fair share of men that had an unhealthy relationship with booze. Now, don’t get my wrong, I am known to imbibe. I have a weak spot for whiskey and beer, and it’s hard for me to turn down an invitation to grab drinks. That being said, I know my family history, I’ve heard the horror stories, and my type A personality has a firm grasp on where to draw the line. Approximately three times a year I put myself on a cleanse, which basically means I abstain from alcohol for a month, existing on a diet of vegetables, eggs, and little else. Fuck yeah I feel amazing. Fuck no it’s not sustainable. If there were ever a time to throw up one of those cliché cartoon magnets that says “life is too short to not eat chocolate and drink wine”, it would be now.

I recently met a man and we set our first date at a nearby pub. The banter was friendly, I was pleasantly surprised by his 6’4” stature, and he threw down some one-liners that actually made me laugh. I like to think of first dates as interviews, and this fella deserved a second one, ASAP. A prolonged hug and innocent smooch left us making tentative plans to hang out this weekend. Saturday rolled around, and after spending the day hiking, I found myself at least 40% excited to see this gentleman. While that might not seem impressive… it is. I hate small talk and dating. So, while the temptation of my hound dog and my new apple spice tea (LEAVE ME ALONE, I KNOW I AM 80 YEARS OLD) nearly led me to cancel, I channeled my inner “dater” and we set a time to meet. A few minutes later he sends over a text along the lines of, “I’ll most likely be intoxicated, FYI.”

Fellas. Here’s the thing. If you’re into a lady, think she’s kind of cute, might want to kiss her face, DO NOT GET DRUNK BEFORE YOUR SECOND DATE. There’s such a thing as class. And being a gentleman. And giving a fuck. Granted, I’m not a high maintenance gal. Anything traditionally romantic gives me the heebie jeebies. My high school boyfriend once filled my room with candles and poetry he wrote for me, and I nearly cried because I thought he was hiding in my closet to “surprise” me. It doesn’t take much to woo me, but I like men to at least give a little bit of a shit. I like them to at least pretend to make an effort to win me over. Needless to say, I sent a snarky text about being stone cold sober and choosing baking and my dog over him, and proceeded to have a lovely Saturday night in.

Moral of this story: if you are a normal, smart, handsome man who isn’t addicted to alcohol, please give me your number.

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A Positive Post for a Change… #TexasForever

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A lot of my time on this blog has been spent complaining about men. My inability in finding a fella I want to date, the fact that I’d rather spend time with my dog, how I don’t trust them, etc. The thing is, I know some very amazing men, and it’s about time I added a positive spin from my side of the world.

Last week my pal came up from Texas. He is the reason that I stayed in Austin when every fiber of my being wanted to give up on that town. Initially, finding my rhythm down there was tough. I was broken in more ways than one. A part of my heart was in love with him, but most of my heart was just so thankful to find a friend. I could lean on him. His friendship, and my ability to open up to him, is why I gave Austin a bit of myself. Without his friendship I wouldn’t have found my lifelong soul mates in that warm and delightful town.

Our friendship is a two way street. I know he trusts me. He tells me things and values my opinion. We write letters to each other and I find joy in psychoanalyzing him. He tells me about his lady troubles and I ask him why I can’t seem to find someone that takes my breath away. I have these brilliant men in my life who I carefully stack into the best friend category. People always raise their eyebrows and say, “well, you’re clearly in love with him.”

You’re right, I am 100% in love with him. But I don’t want to make him mine. Perhaps it’s out of fear of losing him. I have lost best friends by taking that plunge, and it hurts. A deep ache that I would like to avoid. Perhaps it’s because the friendship I have with him is so much more important to me. Or, it’s because I know that dating him would drive me up the fucking wall. He’s wonderfully imperfect, and as his friend I find all of it charming. If I were to date him? I’m fairly certain we’d kill each other. My anxious type A personality would drive him insane, and his ability to over analyze EVERYTHING would make me push him off of something tall.

Old co-workers have always hinted at how they thought we would have gotten together, little pushes towards how we should at least give it a try. But to me, this man is in the category of men that I trust unfailingly. Why oh why would I ever mess with that?

His place in my heart is to be the brilliant, trust worthy, two stepping, guitar playing hippie that I give copious amounts of shit to. I tell him my issues, and he tells me his. We drink beer and dance. We share life plans, big ideas, broken hearts, and the grand adventures we both want to explore.

And I trust him.

I trust him with my brain, my heart, my friendship… To me, that is enough.

I’m a Real Life Trainwreck (In a Charming Way, I Promise)

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I promised I would respond to Trainwreck as a follow up to L’s real and raw post about how this movie hit close to home. Let’s start with my girl Amy. I love that she is an intelligent, hilarious, kick ass feminist who speaks her mind. If you have yet to read her speech about sex and self love, stop reading this and go do that. It’s much more eloquent than any of the dribble I’m throwing down at the moment.

So yeah, I loved the movie. It was delightfully raunchy and you knew from the opening credits exactly how it was going to end, just like any good romantic comedy. Of course she was going to get scared and lose him, only to do some grand gesture to win him back. Also, her dance moves were impressive. I spent a long time trying to find this song so I could dance around my room to it, pretending I also know how to shimmy and shake.

I don’t think any woman can go into a rom com these days and leave with high hopes… Or maybe it’s just my very pessimistic heart? Dating is the fucking pits, and the online sphere only makes it worse. Y’all, L and I have been writing this blog for MONTHS, and I’m in an even worse place than when we started. Maybe I’m more like Amy than I thought? Let’s outline THIS trainwreck so I can pretend that I have something to write about that is relevant to dating.

  • My on- demand boyfriend. That’s still a thing. I haven’t seen him for a month(ish) and I’m okay with it. I adore the shit out of him and he’s my go-to for random adventures, but I’m still in the same place. I’m not going to fall deeply in love with him and make him my lobster. If that were the case, it would have happened already.
  • All those boys that hold pieces of my heart? They still have little bits of me. Strings that they pull to remind me that they are still very much camped out in there. They remind me that for awhile I wore vulnerability a little bit better, and let some other hearts waltz with mine. All of that romantic nonsense that allows you to let your guard down and rely on someone for a large chunk of your happiness.
  • I think I now have a profile on any and all dating websites, and haven’t gone on a single date for approximately 9 months. I have made plenty of dates and I have cancelled on every single one of them. Yes, I am that girl. There is just so much about online dating that makes me tired. I will pull any excuse, knowing that I would rather find my next partner by accident. All those memorable ones from my past? They started out as eye flutters turned to friendships turned to long letters turned to love. I wooed them slowly. Dropped sass and sarcasm, thick as honey, until there was nothing left to say but yes. And they did. And when we fell into it we already knew the way each other laughed. They already knew how I like to make big plans (learn the banjo, bike across the country, quit everything and travel for a year) and that I get scared when actually faced with change. I like to ease into love. It takes time to break down these walls, and when you do… Boy oh boy, do I know how to love.

  • My distrust… It’s only grown. I was recently in a very interesting situation where a fella and I were flirting and I once again dabbled in that terrible and treacherous world of being the “other” woman. It was harmless, or I assumed it to be, until a very dear friend pointed something out to me. Choosing her words as carefully as she could, she reminded me that making these plans with a boy who was very much taken would only make my distrust grow. How easy it is to woo men away from those things they claim to love! Don’t worry, I stopped flirting with such a terrible idea. Perhaps that’s the first step in learning how to trust again? Or perhaps karma is reminding me that I have acted the part of the other woman, and perhaps my defeated and callused heart just won’t warm up again. But that is far too depressing to think about, and I think I still have some hope left.

Man oh man, that list definitely makes me sound like a trainwreck. However, this post isn’t asking the internet world for a pity party. Like I’ve mentioned in almost every single one of my posts, my life is full of very beautiful things. My time is well spent with family, friends, and making future plans… All of these things that create a colorful and beautiful life. For now, that’s enough.

My “Love” Language (ha.)

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I KNOW. I KNOW. I AM TERRIBLE AT THIS.

Here’s your update… I don’t have one? I had such high hopes that this blog would push me to try harder, be more adventurous, be less cynical, etc. etc. As y’all know, L hit the jackpot and locked down a very handsome man that adores her. Kudos L, kudos. Me? Well, my heart is just not in it. I think this is due to a number of things.

Firstly, I have my on demand boyfriend. Say what you will, it’s the perfect situation in so many ways. We play house together when we are both feeling domestic, and I have someone to call on when I want to escape the city. We like each other’s faces enough to sustain this unique relationship for the past year, but the expectations are nonexistent. If he happened to fall head over heels in love, I would toast his heart, kiss him on the cheek, and wish him well. I know he feels the same. Until then, we will find comfort in each another, playing banjo in the backyard over Steve Martin songs, whiskey, and fresh coconut.

Secondly, I still don’t trust men. I realize that this is something I have to address and work on. I know that I’m the only person in control of this. I am aware, don’t worry. I also know that this isn’t something that will happen overnight (or over two years). It will take patience and resolve. For now I work on finding friends who are good men. They remind me that they DO exist. I don’t date these men because I’d rather be their lifetime friends. I have lost too many beautiful hearts to lose the few good souls I have found.

Thirdly, I don’t know if I want a relationship. My life is my family, my friends, my dog, my work. I know that when I find a man I want to make a life with, I will make time for him. I have done it in the past, so I know I’m capable. The problem is, since my last boyfriend, I haven’t found a fella I want to call home. Sure, I have found/dated/slept with a number of wonderful people, but none of them have been my wake-up-slow partner in crime. I have felt that before, and I won’t settle down until I feel it again. Call it picky, call it ridiculous, call it whatever you want. Until I feel the rumblings of love in the pit of my stomach, I will write casual on their name tag and continue the search for my lobster.

For now, I make due with silly situations. I have my on demand boyfriend, I have my inappropriate texts with off limits fellas, I have my weird attachment to a boy that I can’t pin down. I have my heart scattered among a number of different scenarios, none of which are traditional or “healthy” or run of the mill. Maybe that’s just it. Maybe I exist to flit and be single and remind men that women can be casual too. Maybe my existence on this earth is to have brief bursts of no- strings-attached romance. Perhaps I am meant to fling myself into the world and collect men and one off relationships like stamps. As L and I continue to wander through our versions of love, our stories are going to shift. She will focus on what it means to fall for a good and honest man and I will move further from traditional.

Who knows, maybe that IS my language of love.

My High School Reunion

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I went to my high school reunion last night. It was awkward and bizarre and amazing. Just as you would imagine something like that would be. Combine a lot of alcohol and thousands of conversations starting with, “so, what have YOU been up to?” and you’re bound to have a good time.

L and I got quite a few folks commenting on this blog which was flattering and somewhat surprising. Needless to say, I got a few questions regarding my lack of posting lately, so here I am. I wish I could give you some awesome update like L with stars in my eyes and butterflies in my stomach. I cannot. I am in the same place as always. Working way too much, hating online dating with a fiery passion, and only eyeing those that are completely off limits. So yeah, I’m in a super good place… per usual.

Instead of talking about my inability to be a normal, functioning adult who dates or whatever, let’s talk about HIGH SCHOOL REUNIONS!!! At the end of the night I ended up taking my high school boyfriend home. But before you get all “WHAT THE SHIT?!” on me, let me explain. He came back to my friend’s house with five of my besties and we just stayed up late, drunkenly shoving food in our faces as we talked about how odd the evening had been.

It’s strange to walk into a room full of people you haven’t seen in 10 years and try and figure where they belong in your heart and brain. There were the boys that took us to dances, the girls that were scary and mean, the people I couldn’t place for the life of me, my favorite teacher and many more. And then there was the boy who camped out in my heart, leaving an etched out space for himself, as first loves always do.

There’s nothing as ridiculous and magical as your first relationship. You fumble through hand holding and the first kiss. Figuring out how to act at school with each other is a tightrope walk, as you’re also navigating how to be a real human. My first relationship was with a punk rock kid who had lip piercings and was in a band. My mom disapproved immediately and my dad just remembers him as the “super tall kid who was ridiculously skinny.” To me, he was a dream. He played guitar! And had dyed hair! His snake bite piercings made him JUST enough of a bad ass that I tried to learn what flirting meant, and started practicing.

Our first kiss was outside in the rain at the house that was everything our parents feared and everything we loved. Two of my best friends happened to be dating two of his best friends, so it only made sense to join in on the fun. We spent a year or two holing up in the top floor of this parentless house, playing video games and being ridiculously in love.

I’ve touched on how blissful naïve love is. You go into it without any preconceived ideas or fears, except maybe what you saw in 10 Things I Hate About You. You figure each other out through hours on the phone, talking about nothing as you had just seen each other ALL DAY at school. There wasn’t all that stupid adult shit that got in your way, and as long as you made it through the school week, you could get into trouble on the weekend. It was new and exciting and so god damn cliché. I remember listening to hours of Jimmy Eat World, New Found Glory, Blink 182 and Saves the Day, relating those words to my emotions, making up drama for the sake of our first fight. I journaled endlessly about our relationship, struggling over whether or not he’d pay attention to me after his shows. I’d make him mixed CDs that were filled with pop punk love ballads, because that music really seemed to understand the struggle and beauty that was first love.

Heaven knows I was a complete idiot in all of it. I didn’t know how to be a good partner and was always nervous that who I was (and what I looked like) wasn’t enough for him. Granted, my fashion choices were terrible and I had a haircut that was cringe worthy. Still, I waded through the mess of hormones and emotions and loved this boy as much as a 15-year-old heart can love. It was beautiful and messy and silly. It was puppy love and it was perfect.

While the relationships I have had since my high school boyfriend were much more “real”, there is nothing as vulnerable or pure as the first time you kiss a boy on a park bench and he holds your hand.

How ATX Reminded Me That I Have a “Type”

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I keep telling myself that I want my future partner to own great shoes. He’d wear soft leather boots that match his casual demin shirt and dark jeans. In this vision my fella would have a savings account, be close to his mom, and probably own a black lab named Huck. He’d be put together, own his own place in the city, and smell like fresh towels. Basically, I want my partner to be a walking PNW cliché blended with Ryan Gosling blended with the non-douchey tech fellas I have come to know and love.

Here’s the truth. My type (my REAL type) will probably wear chacos. He will sport the same pair of pants that he’s had since 9th grade which is a) impressive because who is the same size as when they were 15?! B) terrible. No one wore good pants in high school. He MIGHT have a savings account, or he may have squandered his money to go on a 3-month backpacking trip through SE Asia. He actually knows how to build things, cook things, and could care less about owning a god damn thing linked to the technological world. He also owns a dog, a cat, 5 chickens and whatever other animal happens to find their way into his life.

My realization came when I was introduced to a very handsome fella on my trip to Austin. To other people this man (as my sister so kindly put it) was, “kind of fuzzy? Like a baby bird.” To me he was a handsome, dashing, charming individual who I would have gladly taken home if it wasn’t for the pain from my new tattoo, propensity to drink too much whiskey, and a bowl of queso with my name on it. Needless to say I batted my eyelashes, danced the two-step and ended the night with a wink and a drawn out hug.

The friend that introduced us had told me weeks before that he found my next fling. What can I say? The people I hold close to my heart know me better than I know myself. This new handsome stranger had been a vagabond world traveler, and now works on a farm. When I asked him for his story he threw down a quote from The Jerk, and knew Josh Ritter’s song about his hometown. He showed me pictures of baby chicken selfies, and has a tattoo of a hound dog on his inner arm (don’t worry y’all, he got it from one of the farmers in a barn.) He probably doesn’t shower regularly, and who knows if he owns a car or lives in an actual house. Nothing about this man was stable or reasonable or “grown up”, and I found myself twitterpated.

Looking back at my history of fellas I actually adore, they all fall into a similar category. They’re kind, selfless, confident, carefree men dedicated to environmentalism, music and living a simple life. Basically, they are a buncha granola loving hippies.

Those that know me well know that when I grow up I want to be a farmer. Someday, I want to unplug and run away. I want to own a cabin on a big plot of land and be known for growing the best swiss chard and rhubarb. I day dream about my escape to a life that involves early mornings with my sweet pea who will feed the chickens while I make French press coffee and scrambled eggs. I want a homemade life, and here I am slaving away on a computer for 14 hours a day. It’s no surprise that I become disenchanted with a lot of the city based/career oriented fellas. Deep down all I want to do is get my hands dirty and fall asleep in a lofted bed that smells like cedar and lemon. Pot calling the kettle black, I realize. I have become a city based technology fiend and yet SO much of my heart aches for simplicity.

Back to the point. I have loved (and still love) three men who fall into this category. These men were flings or friends, but they are the three folks that have nestled their way deep into the foundation of what makes me ME, and they’re staying there.

#1 is still my dream man. He’s the kind of fella that you think MIGHT be fictional because he oozes charm and marches to his own drum like no one I have ever met. We dated briefly and then the unfair beast that is timing stepped in and fucked everything up. I made him mixed tapes and he made homemade bread. He was experimental and insanely handsome in a bizarre and beautiful way. He bikes, climbs, kayaks, woodworks, cooks, love dogs, etc. etc. See? Not real.

I met #2 on the other side of the world. We sang Bob Dylan and Grateful Dead songs over the campfire and every single girl on the trip was in love with him. He had no idea, which was 10x more charming than the confident mother fuckers who strut like peacocks. He wore the same sweatshirt every day and is the reason I swoon over Carhartts (that ass though!) Being around him sucked all the stress out of any situation, and he made everything feel calm. I haven’t seen this beautiful man in 5+ years, after a drunk make out session on a rainy night in Portland, but he’ll always tug a few heartstrings. He’s the kind of fella you keep tabs on, just in case.

Lastly there’s my dear and darling #3. This man knows how I feel about him, but who doesn’t love a little ego boost every now and again? And if this blog is good for anything, it’s admitting too many personal details. You’re welcome folks, you’re welcome.

#3 is near and dear to my heart, and the only one of the three that is still in my life. We sass each other like nobody’s business and I give zero fucks about being charming around him. I would tell him most anything and know he’d give me valuable advice. One time we got drunk at a concert and admitted to having feelings for each other. We danced around them then, and I dance around them to this day. Whatever it means, we still drink beer, write letters, and two-step together, and I love knowing he’ll be in my life for the long haul. #3, like the other two, is the kind of person you want to be around. He’s passionate and dedicated to things that matter, and he moves through his life with intelligence and grace. That being said, he shuffles around in ill-fitting clothes, doesn’t know how to google ANYTHING, and is the epitome of a goober.

When it comes down to it, I want to end up with someone who is genuine and knows who they are. They have tinges of silliness and a desire to be outside whenever possible. Their confidence and self worth translates into not caring about personal appearance, and their life is judgment free. As someone who cares too much about what people think of me, I need someone to balance me out. Someone to remind me that life is so much bigger and more glorious than the day-to-day grind. So no, my dream man isn’t going to be the impeccably styled, handsome, wealthy city dweller who has their shit together (by society’s standards). My man will probably smell like earth and sweat. He’ll be down to drop responsibilities and go get lost in the woods for days on end. He will be the calm center in my anxious, over analytical brain. Together, we will find pleasure in simplicity and each other.

So what does this mean? Darling hippie boys… I’m ready for you.

My On Demand Boyfriend

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I spent the past few days getting drunk off of wine and a handsome bearded man. I needed some time away from my city, and it just so happens that my friend-with-benefits was available for adventuring, so a late night trip to the Oregon coast became our weekend mission.

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I have written about this man (we will call him K) a couple of times, as I find our situation bizarrely perfect. We have always kept our hangouts simple—a night out at the bar, a concert, a movie, making dinner at the house, etc. This was our first multi-night trip, and god knows traveling with people always brings out interesting angles.

Let’s just say this weekend was magic. My close friends are convinced that K and I will fall out of casual and into something serious, because that’s how it’s supposed to work. They think that we are just being silly, and we actually want to date each other, fall in love, blah blah blah… False. Here’s the thing, I adore this man. We enjoy each other’s company and I REALLY like to look at his face. He is smart and funny and completely comfortable in his own skin. All of these things are true and wonderful and make him a great human being to spend time with. You know what else? I can go two months without seeing him and I don’t miss him.

He’s my on demand boyfriend and it’s perfect.

I have decided that we are setting an example of what a modern day relationship can look like. We live in a world of swipe “romance” (Tinder, you ruin everything) and severe grass-is-always-greener complexes. K and I are living proof that you can live your life how you want it, and then ring up your on demand companion when the mood strikes you. K and I spent the weekend acting like we were together. We held hands and talked about important things. We drank wine out of mugs and played card games. We listened to mix tapes and took late night beach walks. The romance is there, it’s just something we can turn on and off. We have a mutual understanding of what is between the two of us, and we are on the exact same page (THIS NEVER HAPPENS, BTW.)

Is he my forever lobster? No, probably not. But who knows if that even exists for me. As some one who believes in fighting against cultural norms and expectations, who says my happiness will come from some grand romance that sweeps me off my feet? You should all know by now I’m skeptical and guarded about true love, whatever that means. Perhaps the on demand option that is prevalent in every other aspect of our lives can translate into romance. Who says I have to have a partner in all things? I like the idea of having a fella whom I adore and admire “on call”.

Just how you used to play house when you were little, I’m playing relationship. For small stretches of time I pretend to be someone’s girlfriend, and then after a few days of that, I settle back into my routine. As someone who values alone time more than most, it’s the ideal situation. Even better? K is on the same page. We both believe in this unique partnership, and it means for two days everything was perfect. There wasn’t any question about what the weekend “meant”, it was just two people who like each other doing awesome things together. We don’t have to deal with the maintenance that makes a partnership so difficult. I can continue to be selfish with my time, knowing that if and when I need another escape, a date for a party, or an adult sleepover, K will be there.

A boyfriend on demand? I’m living the goddamn dream.

Pushing Boys Off Of Pedestals.

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I like a challenge. Give me a man that is kind, generous, honest and open with his feelings (and actually likes me) and I will run for the hills faster than you could ever imagine. Give me a guy who is apathetic, distant and probably just using me for physical intimacy and I’m ON BOARD.

I know, I need to go to therapy.

Needless to say, this is really my biggest hurdle in the “forever alone” category I have found myself in. Perhaps it’s due to the fact that I don’t trust any of them, or maybe it’s because I’m weirdly competitive, and like to overcome difficult tasks (boys included.) Pursue unabashedly until I get what I want… that has always been my motto.

A lot of the times what I want are boys I can’t seem to get, so I hold weird, unhealthy flames for them. I put them on pedestals they don’t deserve to be on. I’m not saying that I’m the ultimate catch, because god knows I have a plethora of heavy, awkward baggage. What I am saying is that I’m starting to realize that I DO deserve to be adored.

Every one deserves to be pursued by people that actually desire them. I realize I’m contradicting myself by my “run to the hills” statement, but there’s a difference between smothering adoration and mutual affection. I just can’t seem to find that happy middle ground. Is it impossible to find someone that likes you at the same level you like them? I digress.

I had this come-to-god moment when I recently found myself in a situation that seemed like something out of a “don’t do this” college rom com. A late night booty call, with little to no effort on his part, a roll in the hay (sorry mom), and then the “I’m super tired” line. I couldn’t help thinking of John Hamm in Bridesmaids as I left, because honestly… what is that?

I knew it was coming when I went over there, because what kind of man isn’t willing to come to you? But I have had him placed on this pedestal for a few months now, so I wanted to see if this time around we could make it more than the drunken shenanigans it had been in the past. It was the same. Now, don’t get me wrong. I adore this human. In fact, he’ll probably read this and make some snarky comment to me about it, but I told him I was going to write about him, so he can deal with it. If you’re a friend and you fling with me, expect to be in the blog—that’s just how it is. This light bulb won’t (or shouldn’t) have any effect on our friendship; it will just shift the way our relationship works. He’s now fully in the friend zone, which means it’ll probably be a much healthier and better relationship in the long run. Let’s be real, I’m a damn good friend. Anything beyond that gets a little bit hazy.

Taking someone off that pedestal isn’t as easy as saying, “PEDESTAL, BE GONE!” And I know that I will have fleeting moments of “awwww” over this handsome, brilliant man, but I do know that I deserve better. I deserve the random text messages of beards and babies (thank you, D… You get me.) I deserve the blush worthy moments. I deserve to be wooed. Sure, I have no idea what I REALLY want, but I do know that doubting my appeal and likability based on one fling’s weird approach to casual is dangerous.

Because yes, I like to keeps things no strings attached these days (if you couldn’t tell…) but I also like to keep my dignity. Goodness knows my love bar is so low it’s scraping the dirt, so I really don’t need any reason to start digging it a ditch. I don’t have time to be swept off my feet, but I also don’t have time to waste precious flirting power on men who can’t at least TRY to woo me.

Toss a girl a bone (or a flower, or something) for christ’s sake.

My Theories on Love (Warning: Real Emotion Ahead)

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I have some theories about love.

As someone who finds comfort in lists, organization, and over analyzing, I want to force calm on the chaos, put love in a box and keep it there. I want it to make sense, and be easily definable. I want to pinpoint that moment when my heart went from “yes, please.” to being so heavily fortressed it’s hard for me to find sometimes.


“I’m mostly scared. I’m scared of actually pouring myself out, because there is no going back after that. I don’t know why or how it happened, but I have so many walls and barriers and battlements. Because I’m scared what would happen if they weren’t there. Maybe it will be overwhelming, or scary, or trite, or sad, or pathetic. Too much or too little.”


My theories are simple. For those of us who have been shattered by love, we’re doubtful. We love, but not like we used to. We always hold back because it’s easier that way. We will enter relationships with trepidation, never giving our whole hearts again because we remember how it felt to have the rug pulled out from under us. Maybe that’s just adulthood. We collect our broken bits and hold onto them, tighter and tighter after every disappointment. It’s not that we can’t love again, it’s just that we do it differently, more responsibly… whatever that means.


“I was in love. I’ve been in love multiple times and I’m in love right now – it’s different with each episode. I want to say that I can give myself to someone 100% without fear or doubt, but I’d be lying. With each episode I feel like I’m less able to do that, but then again I guess that is growing up. Or growing, rather. Or shrinking? I can collect experiences, refine thought processes, and increase my skill, but the pieces of myself that I’m willing to give up become less. Maybe I’m more static? I’m growing and shrinking, I’m Alice in a confusing adult wonderland.”


And then there are those people who have never been in love. They may have dated and felt a connection with another human, but they’re not sure if love has entered their world. If you have been in love, you’d know. It is all consuming. There is no room for doubt because being with them is like breathing. Love is not one grandiose adventure after another; it’s being your most human self and doing it together.


“We have this silly secret kiss and we hold hands and dance in the kitchen and he hates the sound of me eating grapefruit, but usually puts up with it. We know each other deeply and we’ve seen each other at our absolute worst, and we still (happily) choose each other. To me, that’s love.”


It is finding charm in their inability to clean the cast iron correctly. Knowing the way they sleep, and not caring when you snore in front of them. It’s never looking for a date or adventure buddy because they are your partner in everything. To be in love is to have some one you trust with your heart, your family, your friends, your entire existence. Love is the ultimate vulnerability, and it’s downright beautiful (and fucking terrifying.)


“You’ll move mountains. There will be no other option. It feels like when you find the best pair of boots for free on the side of the road. It feels like an IPA that blows your mind. It feels like winning bingo. It feels like your moms hug when you were 8. It feels like praise. It feels like church did when you liked church. It feels like new socks out of the dryer. It feels like the best and most beautiful morning.”


My theory on those who haven’t been in love is that they live in that blissful world where the idea of love is untarnished. They have hopes and expectations and daydream about what love will look like for them. It will be different than any one else’s love. It will simultaneously picture perfect and horribly messy. It will be open and honest, and each person will pour everything into the other, because that’s what it’s supposed to be. Waiting for love and not knowing what it will look like is mesmerizing. I am envious of these people. I wish my first love happened when I was a fully formed human, solid and confident in my presence in the world.


“I want the love that is a cataclysm. Seeing a girl and feeling the world move. Having all experiences and history boil down to two people. Fall into each other, drink up everything, have her lay on top of me to feel the weight of her body, tear pages out of books and feed them to each other, sit on the floor of an empty apartment, run away from the din of things that aren’t us, accidentally kill a border guard, hide away in some arid part of Bolivia, build a small home and have strong, honest, kind children.”


Lastly, there are those that have been destroyed by love and have been the destroyer. They know what it takes to break another person’s heart, and have picked up the pieces after being told their love wasn’t enough. It’s these people that have found a balance. They walk the tightrope knowing how easy it is to fall either way. They are the people who have fallen into a familiarity with love. They know the importance of independence and greet vulnerability like an old friend. They allow themselves to be a partner without losing sight of themselves. They are the people you want to grow up to be, the kind of people you want to fall in love with.


“Our love evolved from an intense, head-over-heels, my-heart-is-going-to-explode kind of love, to a deep, meaningful understanding and appreciation of one another. He saw the real me – the generous, vivacious, full-of-life me, along with the volatile, insecure, and resentful me – all in one… Being in love feels a lot like being vulnerable, exposed, and naked. You can’t hide yourself when you’re in love and the person you’re in love with sees the most raw and authentic version of you at that particular time in your life. Love changes as we change, and that’s why it’s beautiful.”


I know that trying to define love is pointless and naïve and ridiculous. I needed to categorize, if only to find some hope. To test my theory I reached out to the people in my life. Single, married, gay, straight, old, young… All of them. I wanted to know their stories. To see if there was validity in any of it. Their quotes are peppered throughout this post (you were curious about why those random quotes were thrown in, weren’t you?) Their responses did the following things.

  1.  Made me cry. Lots of tears. Their words! Their love! Their openness!
  2. Reminded me that I have the most eloquent friends who live with breathtaking passion.
  3. Their love has taken on so many forms, done so much damage, and created so many beautiful partnerships.
  4. Their answers disproved my black & white theories. Everyone has their story and their voice, and none of it falls in line with my compartmentalization of love.

Regardless of their validity, I created these theories so I don’t lose my mind.

Four years ago I was champagne-glass broken, baseball-meets-window broken, drive-until-morning broken. One second this man was my best friend and then he was gone. Two weeks later he was with some one else. Once this happened, my heart hardened. I put on my stoic face, fought off the sympathetic looks, and when it got too heavy, moved to Texas.

My heart went from curious and accepting, to closed-off and cynical. Now, my expectations are so low when it comes to love that I write everything off as a casual fling, because there’s no point in letting it be anything else. I keep all these handsome men at arms length because it’s easier, and there’s no risk if they don’t know my heart. Trust is the main tenant of love, and that’s not a thing that exists for me… Not now.

This isn’t based off of one terrible, horrible, no good heartbreak. I’ve witnessed love outside of my own and a lot of it has been full of disrespect, dishonesty, and distance. I’ve stared unfaithfulness in the face, both hating and joining hands with it when I felt weak. I’ve been the other woman, experimenting with the ease of wooing men into abandoning their current loves for the possibility of me. Terrible? Absolutely. But we all move through this world trying to figure our shit out, and sometimes you make questionable choices to get there.

This post is definitely going off of the usual style, but it’s important. These words matter. Love matters. To hear this chorus of passionate people knowing that they’re with the right person is inspiring. Many of them were shattered and they picked their pieces up, welcomed vulnerability back into their lives, and found their forever. Those of us who are wary and distant to love just might not have fallen into a rhythm with the right person. Perhaps we just have to be patient and let the mountains move when they’re supposed to.


“A love note in Twelfth Night is signed from “the fortunate unhappy”; Jane Austen describes love as “half agony, half hope”; Gabriel Garcia Mendez tells us that “the symptoms of love are the same as the symptoms of cholera”. No rational person would want to be unhappy, or in agony, or sick with love. But love is an irrational enterprise and makes us do what we know is bad for us, in the hopes that it will be better in the end.”


My takeaway from this is that my theories are bullshit. There’s no rhyme, reason or pattern to falling in love. I will just have to deal with my own heavy baggage and learn how to be vulnerable again. It’ll be the ultimate practice in patience.

How brilliantly frustrating.

What Parks and Recreation Taught Me About Love

C post

I had my heart broken this week.

After seven beautiful, amazing and truly magical seasons, Parks and Recreation aired its final show. Yes, I shed a tear when Ron blissfully rows away to Willie Nelson. And yes, I clapped and fist pumped when Donna ended up in MY city. The show ended with as much humor and grace a girl could ask for, but I will have withdrawals for years to come.

In honor of one of the best shows on television, I give to you:

What Parks and Recreation Taught Me About Love.

Ann & Leslie:

Lesson: hoes before bros, uteruses before duderuses, ovaries before brovaries.

It’s no surprise to anyone that my gal pals are more important than the hang-and-bang/casual encounters I’m currently experiencing. And let’s be real, they will probably trump the fella that weasels his way into my heart. Ann and Leslie are each other’s people. She’s the person on speed dial, and the one that Leslie turns to for every panic attack and crisis that gets thrown her way. I LOVED when Ann pops out of the office in the finale, Leslie shoves Ben out of the way. ANN’S HERE! Exactly. Her person is here. Face it dudes, we ladies just get each other… It’s just our thing.

Leslie and Ben

Lesson: Marry your best friend

When people ask what my dream relationship looks like, I kindly point to Leslie Knope and Ben Wyatt. Here is why. They are smart, driven, nerdy people that adore each other. He compliments her insane drive for perfection, and she supports his creation of terrible calzones and board games.

Moving from hate, to co-workers, to crushes, to true love, it is the kind of on-screen romance that makes you grab your best friend and say, “I want THAT feeling again.” It’s everything you want in a relationship; honesty, humor, passion, support and most of all, “I like you and I love you.” If I take one thing into my love/marriage/union/whatever I find, it will be that simple, perfect line.

Ron and the Tammys

Lesson: NEVER DATE THE CRAZIES

No matter how good the sex is, or how much they take care of you, getting back with an ex never works out (unless you’re Anne and Chris Traeger—which I will explore in a minute.) We’ve all been in Ron’s shoes. You date some handsome, slightly insane human because it’s fun and why not? And then, when the red flags start popping up, instead of running for the hills, you hang out because HOT DAMN are they good in bed. Then you fall back into the nightmarish world of dating some one completely incompatible for you, and you end up with cornrows and a half stache. Ron, the epitome of strength and stoicism, turns to jelly in the hands of these powerful nut jobs, and we can probably all relate (sadly.) He’s best left alone in the woods, or with his wife that kind of just disappeared this season, but I think that was okay. Ron is best when he’s married to his steak, whiskey and country music.

Andy and April

Lesson: Opposites attract

Who doesn’t fall for the lovable goof ball with half a brain? Andy’s character is one of the best on the show. Starting off as the COMPLETE moron with two broken legs, he turns into this simple, endearing character you want to bear hug and carry in your pocket. He woos the most “hateful” person on the show, who is actually perceptive and kindhearted. These two outcasts (in such different ways) end up with the weirdest, most “awwww” worthy love, and it’s perfect. Andy’s undying love of April’s eccentricities, and April’s unwavering support of Andy’s shenanigans, results in a swoon-worthy relationship. When they ditch all responsibilities and drive to the Grand Canyon? That, right there, is what love should be.

Ann and Chris

Lesson: Work with what you’ve got

These two ending up together makes me shrug. On their own, they were both a little ridiculous and obnoxious. Together, it was even weirder. And when they broke up, Ann turned promiscuous and Chris got MORE intense, and that’s when I realized they really were better off together. Neither character ever really had a strong sense of self. Ann couldn’t define who she was as an individual and Chris has his depression period when he realized he was aging. So them deciding to make babies together and find comfort in the other’s insecurities made sense. Sure, it doesn’t make you feel all warm and fuzzy like the other relationships, but I get it. It also reminds me that I need to make a pact with some handsome fella in my life. So when we reach a certain age, and can still tolerate each other, we will grow old together, because sometimes you just have to settle. And you might as well do it with a decent person with a nice looking face.

Donna & Tom

Lesson: TREAT YO’ SELF

Alright, alright, I know that these two aren’t in a romantic relationship, and they both end up happily married. And while I like that they find their people, the real lesson learned from these two is that the most important person to love is yourself. Selfish? Not really. They remind me that a) it’s ALWAYS okay to pamper yourself and b) that you have to know who you are (down to those pink cashmere slippies) and love ALL of that before you can even consider letting someone else in. Donna (aka: my spirit diva) is the QUEEN of doing what she wants, when she wants, and she doesn’t let anyone stand in her way. She’s unabashedly herself, and owns it. That’s my kind of badass lady.

And Tom, while outrageous, knows that his lifestyle is meant to be full of soft, good smelling things, and he will do anything and everything to live the life he wants.

I will forever and always have TREAT YO’ SELF as a mantra, which is why these two make the list.

There are a lot of take aways from this beautiful show. Basically, I am waiting for the Ben to my Leslie and the Andy to my April. It reminds me to hug my girls and thank them for being a constant in my life, and ALWAYS avoid re-dating the crazies. Most importantly, this show reminds me to put my heart first, and surround myself with goofy people who know what life is about: Friends. Waffles. Work.

Pawnee, Indiana… I miss you already.