Saturday, December 7, 2013

The cure for a bad day

Sometimes, when you have a bad day -- a day when you had several Christmas/Hanukkah parties to attend, but had to cancel all of them because you're sick and no one wants to hang out with a sick person, and you feel like a leper and even your boyfriend tells you he thinks you'd sleep better on your own (because he doesn't want to say what he's really thinking, which is that he doesn't want to come down with your horrible illness, what with his grant application due next week), and you can't take your temperature because after combing through your entire bedroom you realize that thieves stole your thermometer because it was in the box along with all your jewelry that they took, and then when you think there's no way things could POSSIBLY get worse you check your mail and what do you find? A jury summons -- on days like that, a little bit of retail therapy is in order.

And sometimes, on days like this, one pair of black, fleece-lined clog boots just isn't enough. Because if happiness isn't a new, second pair of black fleece-lined clog boots, then I don't know what it is.

Thank goodness for friends like Slinky, who know where to find a pair of clog boots in my size!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Sick day

I've been feeling under the weather all week. It's been all I can do all week to drag myself home, throw some food into the microwave, and shovel it down my throat without tasting it before heading to bed around 7 pm. Yesterday, my roommate suggested I take a sick day. Other people didn't even bother suggesting it; they assumed there was no way I'd be going in to work.

I assumed the opposite, because teachers never take sick days. When I mentioned to a couple of my co-workers today that I am feeling under the weather, here are some of the responses I got:

"I took my temperature this morning and I had a fever. I felt too bad leaving B alone with our crazy class, so here I am." (B has mentioned once or twice that this class is driving her to drink, so I understood her hesitation.)

"I haven't been able to keep down anything but toast since Monday."

"I had to have a CAT scan yesterday."

"I had explosive diarrhea all day yesterday. No warning whatsoever. But I have too much work to do, so I came in anyway."

Uhhh. Well, I don't have explosive diarrhea, or a fever. But I feel crappy and I'm staying home, dammit. I'm pretty sure the kids will survive without me.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

The Googler

Like most men in greater Boston, my new boyfriend, Trusty, lives in Manland, a.k.a. Cambridge/Somerville. He is blissfully ignorant of what goes on on the southern bank of the river, even though he comes here every day to go to work. When I told him that I recently became a member of the Coolidge Corner Theater, one of the Boston area's most well-known artsy movie theaters, he sasked, "Where's that?", then followed with, "Ohhhh yes, I went there once." Once? He's lived in Boston for more than a decade!

This is one of the great mysteries of Boston: Why is it that people on the north side of the river seem to live full, happy lives without ever crossing into Boston, yet Bostonians venture north all the time? Why don't we just stick to our side like they do, since we have nearly everything we need here? Why do I go to the Kendall Square Cinema all the time even though Coolidge is closer AND I'm now a member??

Despite his geographical limitations, Trusty is a very good boyfriend. He is also an avid Googler. He loves to go down little Googling rabbit holes and learn all kinds of interesting information. On one of our first dates, he told me, "I have a confession to make. I Googled your last name." Most people Google their dates to see if they can find any dirt on them, but no, Trusty wanted to ask about my illustrious abolitionist ancestor who worked for Abe Lincoln. Unfortunately, I had to break it to him that I am only very distantly related. Not long thereafter, he informed me that he had spent a chunk of an afternoon Googling one of my state's great heroes, Joshua Chamberlain of the Battle of Gettysburg fame. I am a huge JC fan, so I was quite impressed.

Ever since I bought my condo, he's been Googling my new neighborhood and peppering me with facts about the surrounding area:

"You know, you're not far from the Silver Line. It's probably only a ten minute walk away. You could hop on that and be in the South End in no time." [The Silver Line, for those unfamiliar with Boston, is a bus that is painted silver to make people feel that it is fancier than a bus. It is fairly ridiculous, though maybe I will need to reevaluate if it turns out to be as useful to me as Trusty thinks it is.]

"The new Boston Public Schools headquarters is going to be in Dudley Square. It's quite a building. You should check it out. I think property values in your area could go up once the Dudley revitalization project is complete."

"Aahh yes, I'm familiar with the historic house that is next door to you. Its renovation was extensively covered in the Globe two years ago. It's a fascinating building." [Note that I was living in the neighborhood when the renovations were announced, and was utterly ignorant of these goings-on. Trusty, on the other hand, had never even heard of my neighborhood until I announced that I was moving here.]

It's quite impressive how much the Internet can teach us. Nonetheless, I'm glad that Trusty will be learning about Boston firsthand, too, if he continues to hang out with me.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

The art of being unethical

My friend Slinky got me into an ethics conference this week to see one of my favorite writers for the New Yorker give a speech. When I got there, she mentioned that there was free breakfast, too. BONUS. I'm not one to pass on a free meal.

I sat down at a table and made friends with some Canadian women over our scones and coffee. They asked how I am connected to the conference. Since I wasn't completely clear on exactly what the purpose of the conference was, I felt I had to be honest.

"I'm a teacher," I explained. "I'm sort of crashing the conference. My friend got me in."

"So if you're a teacher, how come you're not at work today?"

"I should be at work," I answered, "but I'm going in a bit late. I told my boss I had a doctor's appointment."

"You lied to your boss so that you could go to an ethics conference, huh?"

I hadn't quite thought of it that way, but when she said it, it did sound kind of funny. A few minutes later, the same woman told me a story about how she had gotten from the airport to the conference. She decided to take public transit, but got confused. A nice man ended up swiping her through using his monthly transit card.

"Oh, how interesting!" I said. "You jumped the turnstile to get to the ethics conference."

I guess we all have our ethical pitfalls.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Huff and puff all you want

I told a couple of my students yesterday that I wouldn't be at school today. I had to miss school to close on my condo.

"Why won't you be here, Ms. Heathen?" my favorite little seven-year-old queried.

"I won't be here because I'm moving to a new house," I explained.

"What color is it?" she asked.

"It's brick," I replied, surprised that this was her first question (I wasn't surprised by her second question: "Will you live there with your sister and her baby?" She's a little bit obsessed with my sister and her baby these days.)

"Oh, that's good," she responded with no hesitation, "Brick houses are strong. They won't fall down. It's much better than having a straw house."

"That's true," I said. "If the big bad wolf came, he wouldn't be able to blow down my new house. I hadn't thought of that."

Monday, October 28, 2013

Coming of age

During the past couple of months, I seem to have made an unexpected and rapid transition to adulthood. Adulthood, it turns out, is not as hard as it seems -- mostly it just involves spending a lot of money that you don't have. I've discovered that I have quite a knack for it.

So, this week, I will be giving a check worth several tens of thousands of dollars that aren't mine to a lawyer in exchange for an apartment. And my new least favorite person in the world, Banker Bob, will be giving me a mortgage to pay worth several hundred thousand more dollars to pay for the rest of it.

All of this has been made possible by my financial planner. I ask her a question like, "Do you think I could maybe someday buy an apartment?" fully expecting her to reply, "Are you crazy?? You're a teacher. Maybe when you're 50 you can think about it." But instead she looks at my budget and runs some calculations, and shows me a few tables showing what my finances look like now compared with if I had several different types of mortgages, and becomes increasingly excited as she talks about all the deducting that will happen after I have an apartment. Then she tries to think of a pottery metaphor to explain what she's gone over, since I don't understand her sports metaphors, but her pottery metaphor doesn't really make sense and involves a lot of time spent correcting her false assumptions about pottery ["No, we don't paint our pottery. It gets dipped in glaze."]. Then she says, "Do you understand everything I've explained to you?" and I nod my head yes, even though I've actually been spacing out for the past fifteen minutes and thinking about what might happen in the last season of Mad Men.  But what I *do* understand is that not only would I be a fool not to buy a house, I'd also be a huge disappointment to my financial planner. And six months or so later, I find myself writing checks for sums so astronomical I never thought I'd see the day. She's really quite something.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Raspberry season

My roommate is a bit squeamish. I try to protect her from anything that I think will bother her; for instance, when we catch a mouse in one of our traps, I tell her to close her eyes while I dispose of the mouse and then hop around the kitchen, wringing my hands. I make sure to take the garbage out immediately so she won't accidentally catch a glimpse of a bloody little tail peeking out. I once found a moth in our ten-pound bag of flour, and disposed of the moth, sifted through the bag to check for other moths, and put the bag in the freezer without breathing a word of it to my roommate, knowing she'd want to toss the whole bag if she knew the truth.

Last week, though, I slipped up when she asked me if I wash the raspberries we get in our farm share.

"Want to hear something gross about the raspberries?" I asked, thinking that if I prefaced my story with that question I was giving her an out. But of course no one ever replies no to a question like that.

"Tell me," she replied.

"If you look at them really closely, you can see there are tiny little white worms on them."

"GROSS," she replied. "So, you're saying that yes, you do wash them?"

"No," I replied honestly, "I eat them with the worms."

"Next time you ask if I want to hear something gross, I'm going to say no," she answered.

Somehow ever since then, I've been the only one eating the raspberries in our fridge. They're delicious. And they've got extra protein.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

A bird in the hand

I have a very promising bird in my hand. Well, in my case, I actually have two birds in my hand, one literal (my pet lovebird, who spends much of his free time ignoring my polite requests that he stop humping my hand) and the other one metaphorical; but let's stick to the metaphorical bird for the time being. This bird is handsome, smart, funny and interesting. He wants the same things I want, and has called me at least twice a week since we started dating two and a half months ago. He likes live music, and has a membership to the Institute of Contemporary Art. He's an excellent planner -- he buys tickets ahead of time, and gets places early so he can save us a spot in line and I can arrive whenever, and packs a waterproof bag when we go kayaking (not that he's perfect -- I'm not sure if my sister will ever be able to move on from the fact that he forgot to pack water when we went hiking). He's made me dinner, and brought me to the theater, and we always have a great time together. And it's not just that he's great on paper: I actually really like him and feel connected to him.

But there are also a lot of very interesting birds in the bush. And while I completely see the wisdom of valuing the bird in my hand more than the ones in the bush, I can't help but feel very compelled by the ones in the bush as well. One of these bush-birds brought me a bouquet of flowers he grew in his garden recently. Another is bringing his brand new 8-week-old puppy to visit me at my craft fair on Sunday -- and who can resist a puppy! Another made an adorable collection of tiny stones and seaglass that fit snugly into a shell for me. These birds are filled with uncertainty; I have no idea what they want in life, or if there's any real possibility our lives could work together. But I'm really enjoying them and I'd hate to give them up.

If only there were a way for me to have my own little flock with *lots* of birds in it.

Friday, September 27, 2013

The secret to impressing men

Several weeks back, I found myself on the beach with a young-ish man. It was sunset, and getting quite chilly. We had imbibed several glasses of wine, which had made their way to my bladder, and I was in dire need of the utilities.

Unfortunately, when we made our way to the bath house and my date tried the door, it was locked. He found another door nearby for the disabled bathroom, and was able to get in. While he was inside, I went over to my side to try my luck, but was met with a locked door as well. I was desperate, and there was no one around, so I went for it: I dropped trou right there, just outside the bathroom door, peeing as quickly as I could in fear that my date would come looking for me.

It wasn't until a couple of minutes later that it occurred to me that I'd have to explain to my date why I no longer needed to use the bathroom. As soon as he was out, he gallantly offered to hold the door for me so I could use the same bathroom he had, once I reported that there was no open bathroom on the ladies' side.

"No, thanks," I mumbled.

"Well, you HAVE to go somewhere," he replied, surprised.

I froze up. I couldn't come up with a plausible explanation, and saw no alternative but to come clean. I told him what I had done, feeling my cheeks get red as I explained.

Last weekend, I ended up at another beach in another state with another bottle of wine, and the same man. Again, after a couple of glasses my bladder began to get uncomfortable. He directed me to a Port-a-Potty near the beach entrance; I was unable to find it. I decided that, since I had already publicly peed once on a date with him, there was really no harm in repeating the experience. I walked far down the beach and found a semi-protected spot where only a couple of fishermen could potentially see me.

At the end of the night, my date turned to me. "You're quite an impressive woman," he said. "I was so struck that first night at the beach that you weren't embarrassed to pee outside. And you were done way before I was, too."

Had I known that impressing men was so easy, I would've been dropping trou and peeing in public on dates a LONG time ago.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Damn Red Sox

I have been to one professional baseball game in my life. It was a Yankees game, circa 2003. The Yankees were playing a generic-sounding team called something like the Cowboys or the Rockets, probably from somewhere in the Midwest or maybe Texas. I'm not sure who won, partly because it was really hard to pay attention, and partly because we left before the end. About five innings in I asked my friend how many innings there are in a baseball game, and was shocked by her answer. (Nine, in case anyone is not aware. Excessive, I know.)

These days, though, I practically have the Red Sox schedule memorized. I consult it constantly, not because I've adapted to my new city, but because home games make my commute a living hell. On game days I scoot out of work like I have a swarm of bees chasing me. Or plan my social life so that I'm out with friends far away in Somerville or somewhere like that and don't have to come home till after the traffic has cleared up.

Yesterday I reported to my sister excitedly that this is the last week of home games.

"Right, but then there will be the post-season," she responded matter-of-factly.

"Post-season??!" I answered, horrified. "What is that? I thought the season was over!"

"The Red Sox are doing really well this year, not like last year," she explained patiently. "They're gonna be in the play-offs."

And people think this is GOOD news?! Don't get me wrong, I'm a Red Sox fan in theory, just like the next guy. But the season has already been going on for, like, 8 months already; isn't that enough baseball for one city?

Clearly, four years in I am still not quite a Bostonian.

Friday, September 13, 2013

The "wear-everything-you-own" challenge

I gave myself a challenge this summer: I had to wear every summer top I own. I imagine that this would not be difficult for most people, but I have -- ahem -- a lot of clothes. Two giant captain drawers full, not to mention the ones in the closet. I've collected these clothes over the span of several decades; the oldest one dates to when I was nine. (I realize that makes me sound like a hoarder, and I'm willing to accept that label if it's what I have to do to keep the shirt I got at theater camp in the 4th grade.) Anything I didn't wear by the end of the summer had to go in the donation bin.

In order to complete the challenge, I had to wear a different shirt every day, and a few times I even changed midway through the day. I gave myself a break and did not include my summery long-sleeved shirts in the challenge, since they go in a separate drawer and there is some gray area there that could confuse matters. While packing for vacations, the sole criteria I used to decide what to bring was whether or not I had already worn an item, which made for some interesting ensembles, like when the only clean clothes I had left were an army green tank top and my army green cargo shorts. And, as it turned out, I was so focused on packing my summer shirts that I did not pack a single long-sleeved item for a week-long vacation in Vermont where it was 60 degrees for much of the week.

This morning, I pulled out a hand-me-down from my friend Miami Nice that hasn't seen the light of day in several years, and as I put it on I thought to myself that I *must* be nearing the end of the wear-everything-you-own challenge. Unfortunately, when I did a quick count I unearthed ten shirts that have not been worn, including a black halter top, my Obama t-shirt, a shirt with the number 17 on it that a friend from Japan gave me in the late 90s, and a purple tank top with silver sequins.

There are nine days left of summer. Think I can do it?? I'd really hate to have to donate my Obama t-shirt.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

A present

My principal stopped by while I was working with a few kids.

"I have a present for you," she announced. "Come see me to pick it up."

"Will I like it?" I asked, just to be sure that it wasn't a new special needs student, waiting for me in my principal's office.

"You will like it a LOT," she replied.

"She got you a present!" said one of the first graders. "What could it be?"

"What do YOU think it could be?" I asked.

"A car," said one.

"A bow for your hair," said the second.

"A dress," said the third.

Good guesses, but they were all wrong: it was an iPad.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

The hobo

My friend M and I went on a long walk toward the general direction of Cambridge, where I had a dinner date. The plan was that we'd walk until we ran out of time or steam, and then I'd hop on public transit to go the rest of the way.

That plan would have worked well, except when the time came and I prepared to catch a bus, I realized that my Metro card was low on funds and I had just a few coins on me. M scrounged around in her bag and came up with a dollar. We tried to remember if bus fare is $1.50 or $1.75, and managed to pool together a few more dimes in case it was the latter.

The bus arrived. I got on, attempted to scan my card, and got an error message that I did not have the $2 necessary. Oops.

"I have $1.75. Can I give you that?" I bargained with the driver.

"Just get on the bus," he replied good-naturedly, ignoring the dollar bill in my hand.

Dinner was lovely. My date insisted we get appetizers and a bottle of wine. Several glasses of rosé later, the check arrived along with the message that the credit card machine was out of order. The check totaled well over $100.

I decided I had to be honest. "I wish I could help pay," I told my date, "but I only have a dollar, and it's not even mine."

Austerity or no austerity, I definitely owe him a nice dinner.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

If you see something, say something

A date and I went to see Kiss Me, Kate on the Esplanade last night (a musical that really should have been forgotten a couple of years after it was written well over sixty years ago, but here in Boston it is still being staged for reasons that are unclear). The bandshell gets crowded, so my date and I came up with what we thought was a brilliant plan: Pick a spot for our blanket. Leave it there and go kayaking. Buy a bottle of juice and pour our wine into it so we wouldn't get busted for carrying in alcohol, then return to our blanket.

Unfortunately, we forgot about all the enhanced security in town since the Marathon bombing incident. By the time we got back and were informed that our juice was too suspicious to be allowed in, the blanket and bag were long gone, confiscated by the cops. When the security guards understood what had happened they waved my date through, forgetting temporarily about the juice he was holding, to go find the cops in question.

After tracking down the police and bag, he was asked for ID and subjected to a few questions.

"Who are you here with?"

"Ummmm... do you want her name?"

"No, no. Is she cute?"

"Yeah, she's cute," he replied (or at least that's what he *told* me he said).

"We could bring you out in handcuffs if you think she'd be impressed."

He passed on their kind offer. Lesson learned: If you leave suspicious possessions in a public setting in Boston, you will become friends with the cops and be allowed to enter secure locations with alcohol. I would totally do it again.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

The Tom Waits rule

My friend La Chimiste has just one rule of dating: the Tom Waits rule. The rule is that if a potential boyfriend likes Tom Waits, green flag. If not, beware! Not good dating material.

I like the Tom Waits rule for its simplicity: it's very easy to follow. Liking Tom Waits shows that you have some nuance; his voice isn't exactly a crowd pleaser. A person who likes Tom Waits is capable of appreciating the unusual. A lot of people like Tom Waits, but a lot of people also dislike him, so it excludes a good-sized percentage of people but still leaves a big enough pool that the pickings aren't too slim. Also, it's funny because it's so random -- which, let's face it, is how dating often feels.

Of course, one can't be too inflexible about the Tom Waits rule, and in fact La Chimiste's boyfriend detests Tom Waits.

Some of my friends feel that the Tom Waits rule would be a stronger filter if another person were added to the rule: you have to like Tom Waits AND someone else to get a green flag. Here are a few candidates:

Atul Gawande
Pros: Smart people like AG. He's not white, so it gives the rule some diversity.
Cons: If it becomes the Tom Waits and Atul Gawande rule, that's a very male-dominated rule.

Dolly Parton
Pros: She's awesome and adds a woman to the mix. Like Tom Waits, she's not exactly mainstream (in New England, anyway).
Cons: There's no intelligence factor included in liking DP.

Hillary Clinton
Pros: A man who likes HC isn't afraid of smart, powerful women.
Cons: Using Hillary feels out of keeping with the random spirit of the Tom Waits rule.

Other ideas?

Thursday, August 8, 2013

The fishmongers of Maine

My mom and I went to buy fish a couple of days ago while on vacation on the Maine coast. Mom was very nervous about this endeavor, because usually my dad is in charge of fish purchases. All afternoon she talked about how hard it would be to buy fish without him. I countered by telling her, "We can do this, Mom. We are two capable women, and we can figure out how to buy a tasty fish."

We went to one store. The fish did not look promising. We took one look and backed out of the store.

We weren't sure where to go next. "You could check your Google," suggested Mom (that's what she calls the iPhone).

"Or you could check YOUR Google," I said.

"I'm not sure how to," she responded. It turns out that we were out of cell phone range, so neither of our Googles worked.

We tried another store -- your run of the mill grocery store, like the downeast Maine version of a Stop 'n Shop. This was definitely NOT the Whole Foods. However, the fish didn't look terrible like at the last place.

"We need to ask some questions about it," Mom said. "That's what Dad does."

We found a woman who worked there. "Has this fish been previously frozen?" asked Mom.

She felt the fish. "It feels like it's maybe just a little frozen," she responded with a heavy Russian accent.

"Is it farmed or wild caught?" Mom asked.

The woman gave her a confused look.

"I have to text Dad to ask what we should do," Mom said. She got out her Google and tried. The text wouldn't go through.

We decided to try one more place. The fish there was very fresh, they told us, and also wildly expensive. It was so expensive we didn't even bother to ask all of our questions. This fish was made of pure gold, obviously. There was no way it didn't match our criteria. We bought it.

Dad took one look at it and pronounced, "This salmon is from a farm. Wild caught salmon is much darker."

Mom groaned.

The fish was delicious, but by that point it didn't matter. We had failed. I suspect it will be many years before Mom undertakes another fish-buying mission.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Reinstituting austerity

It's been a rough summer financially. I could provide you with the details, but that would be boring. I'll just say that the culmination came on Saturday when I woke up early to drive my old car to the house where the buyer lives, and the car broke down on the way. It could have been much worse -- had I not pulled over when I did, I might have ruined the engine; had this happened before I found a buyer, I undoubtedly would have declined to do the repairs and would have just donated the damn hunk of metal -- but it was a blow nonetheless.

Six hours and $600 later, I gave the car to the buyer, complete with a brand new radiator (somehow it seems I put a hole in the old one). In exchange, he gave me a check that covers all the repairs I did in 2013. Nonetheless, after this latest financial setback I am officially going back to my 50-50-50 Herman Cain-inspired austerity budget. For those of you who don't recall the details of the budget that I went off of exactly a year ago, I am allowed to spend $150 total per week: 50 on food, 50 on fun, and 50 on utilities (is there a word for utilities that starts with F? That would make my budget much catchier.)

No more fancy cocktails or nice dinners out for me for a while. And whatever happens do NOT let me buy clothes! If anyone wants to go out for cheap beers or, better yet, come share a six-pack on my porch, let me know.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Trading up

In high school, I owned a Volkswagon. It was a little dark red Fox, and I loved it. It was quirky and had lots of problems and had a manual transmission and was very fun to drive. Eventually it died on some black ice on a cold January night, and I traded it in for a boring silver Toyota, and the Toyota always seemed utterly devoid of personality by comparison.

It turns out that I am repeating that pattern as an adult. This week, I am giving up my little green hatchback Volkswagon, trading it in for a practical silver Toyota that will be (touch wood) reliable and get good gas mileage. It is quite possible that it will seem devoid of personality compared to my VW; it is also possible that, as a grownup who has to pay the bills and get to work on time and appreciates things like a working air conditioner, I will not care so much.

My Volkswagon and I have been through a lot together, and I thought I would feel sad saying goodbye to it. But like my old Fox it was a quirky car, and similar to some men I've dated, the quirks initially seemed cute but eventually grew to be tiresome (like the way it would randomly start beeping at me to close the doors when they were already closed, or the fact that one rear window had trouble opening).

As I mentioned in a previous post, one major downside to this decision is that I'll be spending much less time with my sweetheart of a mechanic. I've decided that the solution to this problem is for me to start making social calls, just to say hi. My plan is to make the first one tomorrow on my way home from dropping off the old car at the buyer's house and picking up my new car. It's been almost a week since the last time he saw me, so I think he'll be pretty excited.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

The 72 hour recovery

Over the past few weeks, as I've gotten to know Theradate better, I started to have more and more moments when the thought crossed my mind that he did not seem like my future husband. Sometimes he felt more like an attractive gay best friend, like the day he posted shirtless photos of himself on Facebook. One day at his house, a friend of his said something critical about him, and rather than feeling indignant and defensive I thought, hmmm, it's a valid a point, and a bit worrisome. Some of his weird eating habits (frequent snacks of popcorn coated with olive oil, cinnamon and sugar substitute; plain yogurt with peanut butter) were starting to seem less cutely quirky and more just plain old bizarre, and he often used words that I thought anyone over 22 really has no business using, such as "ping" (meaning "text" for those who, like me, are unfamiliar with the word). So when Theradate asked me last week how I felt things were going, I was honest and told him that I felt pretty unsure, which led to a discussion in which we decided to call it quits.

Had I known three weeks earlier that that would happen, I would have predicted that I'd be devastated. And I was sad -- for 72 hours, or maybe a little less. By Monday evening, I mostly felt relieved. Theradate has many lovely qualities, but my excitement level had taken a nosedive, and the moments of feeling happy with him were rapidly becoming eclipsed by the moments of feeling doubtful and a little bit turned off.

So, while I harbor no ill will toward Theradate and had a great time with him in many ways, I'm officially taking him off the list of men I've been very excited about. In the meantime, I'd like to pay tribute to a few of the men in my life who give me hope that there are great men out there, and one day I might meet one of them:

My mechanic, who helped me through the difficult decision to buy a new car this week: "It's a big decision. No rush. Talk to your sister, take your time. You want to keep your car, I'm happy! I see you often, I work on your car, you pay me. But, you get another car, like maybe a Toyota or a Honda, you gonna be coming here a lot less often." When I brought my new car to have him check it over, he had a very fatherly moment in which he pulled me out of earshot of the seller to make sure I had checked the blue book value, then told me he'd miss seeing me so often once I'd purchased it.

My pottery teacher, who went through his recently deceased 98-year-old aunt's wardrobe recently and gave me a few vintage '60s and '70s pieces, carefully selecting those that would look good on a blonde (he has an unusually good eye for a straight man). They fit me like a glove.

My pottery crush, who my French cousin met this week and who she has aptly taken to referring to as my LLBean Boyfriend -- so, he may be getting a new blog name soon! When I told him about a disastrous craft fair a couple of weeks ago, he gave me mini clothes pins to use to hang my wares: "They'll flock to your table in droves," he promised. "Droves" might be slightly too strong a word, but I did make more than 12 times the amount of money the following week. And any man who likes miniature clothes pins is adorable in my book.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Pottery Crush

Lots has been written about how certain aspects of social life as an adult are harder than they are when you're a kid or a teenager -- making friends, for instance. I consider myself extremely lucky that this has not been my challenge in life. However, one thing I do miss about being young is that up to my early 20s, I never had any problem finding people to crush on.

I got my first crush at age 4 (or maybe that's just the first one I can remember). It was on my sister's 7-year-old friend/boyfriend, and our mutual babysitter reported to my mom that I kept wrestling with him and sitting on him (it's always been hard for me to not come on too strong when I like someone). This was followed by a long string of crushes, most lasting several years. From ages 5 to 11 I was obsessed with my classmate, T, who had handsome dark eyes and a bad-boy reputation; these days he's my friend on Facebook and writes inappropriate comments on many of my photos and appears to work in the porn industry. During my senior year in high school I came home every night and talked incessantly at the dinner table about my high school English teacher, and signed up to do a month-long study of William Faulkner just so I could spend more time with him. I still have the photo my dad took at graduation of the two of us together. At age 18 I traveled to Italy and filled an entire journal not with my reflections about my first experience abroad or the difficulties of learning a new language or the great art I was exposed to or all the new foods I was discovering, but rather fawnings about my painting teacher, l'Artista.

In the summer of 2003 I moved to Brooklyn and worked at a kitchenware shop for a couple of months and fell for a handsome Puerto Rican who lived with his beautiful girlfriend and their kids in the boonies of Brooklyn. In 2005 I had a short-lived (except in my memory, in which he lived on) crush on a handsome Costa Rican man who worked at an ecotourism resort I stayed at and was one of many, many sons of the owner. I thought he was the most beautiful person I had ever seen and had trouble breathing normally around him, and I didn't want to believe it when my sister said that he was married (based on the fact that he wore a gold band on his ring finger -- circumstantial evidence, I told her).

Since then, there has been a long dry spell. I've met a few men on the way who I've tried to nurture crush feelings for, but really, you shouldn't have to force it. Crushes aren't a *necessary* part of life, of course, but they certainly add spice to it. The best ones are when you're friends with the crushee, there's a nice amount of flirting going on, you obviously find each other attractive, but you know nothing is ever going to happen.

Which is exactly the kind of crush I have these days: Pottery Crush. PC and I have been in the same class for the past year and a half, so we see each other once a week like clockwork. He's handsome and outgoing and very nice. He plays golf and works in real estate and is, in many ways, very conventional. We usually sit across from each other to make conversation easy (I don't like to sit next to him because I also have a pottery inferiority complex and it makes me feel bad to see our pots next to each other -- he's incredibly talented). He occasionally buys me a soda and always compliments me on my outfits at the end of the night, when I change out of my mud-spattered clothes. He loves music and recommends good concerts to me, and as far as I can tell there is not a single band in the world whose music he isn't familiar with. Sometimes he gives me rides in his SUV (one of several reasons we could never actually date). When a Boston sports team has a big win or loss, I think of him, probably watching the game from his front-row season ticket seat or perhaps from one of those huge, crazy sports bars I hate near Fenway (another reason we could never date).

Nonetheless, I am so very grateful for his existence. People are complicated and relationships are hard, and it's nice to once or twice a week interact with someone who you don't have a complex relationship with. Someone who you can pretend is perfect because you don't know him well enough to see his flaws, who you can put on a little bit of a pedestal and flirt with innocently, knowing nothing will ever come of it.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Life advice from my mechanic

"Listen. Here's what you got to do. You only got, what, July, August left that it will be hard with no air conditioner. Those months, you just got to bring a change of clothes with you when you go somewhere. Then, you get sweaty, you change your clothes when you get there. You really want, I try to fix your air conditioner, but I don't really think it's worth it."

"You got some work that needs done. But it's not a rush. You just spent lot of money! Wait two, three, four months. When you got some extra cash, you come see me. We take care of it."

"What you want with a car? The bike brings you everywhere! Never needs new belts, new battery, nothing. Never runs into traffic. Just get rid of your car and use the bike!"

I heart my mechanic.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Goin' steady

A few weeks ago, I laid out the three phases of dating for Theradate. I felt like he needed some ground rules to help him understand my expectations for how he should behave, as well as how I was interpreting his behavior. Specifically, I told him that I thought he wanted some of the emotional benefits of Phase 2 without taking on the responsibilities that go along with those benefits. Or, as Slinky has succinctly put it more than once, "I'm just amazed by how clueless he is sometimes." Indeed.

Phase 1: The "casual dating" phase. You are probably both going out with other people, and you're not sleeping together (at least, that's MY rule -- obviously, different people have very different rules about this). You're figuring out whether you like each other, and probably seeing each other once or twice a week. This phase usually lasts a month or two.

Phase 2: Once you've decided that you like each other and are ready to move to the next level, you progress to phase 2, the "trying the relationship on for size and seeing how well it fits" phase. You have a conversation about being exclusive. You meet each others' friends. Your dates start to occasionally last more than 24 hours and involve weekends away together. A lot of relationships meet their demise a month or two into Phase 2 when it become apparent that it's just not a match.  If all goes well, after four or five months you slide naturally into Phase 3, no conversation necessary.

Phase 3: Phase 3 is exactly like Phase 2 but more permanent. Eventually, it leads to marriage, babies, a mortgage, and of course eternal happiness.

My sister has always said that she loves Phase 1. She thinks it's fun to kiss without it leading to anything more, and go on fun dates, and get to know the person. I, personally, find Phase 1 to be torturous. There's just so much uncertainty involved. You have no idea if the person you're seeing is dating other people they like; you really don't have any clue whatsoever where you stand with them. During Phase 1 with Theradate there were stretches when we had to schedule a new Diff Con every single week. It was exhausting. (In fairness, before it sounds like I was horribly miserable during this entire time I should add that while I did feel a lot of anxiety during Phase 1, I also had many, many moments of feeling happy and excited.)

Granted, there's still plenty of uncertainty involved in Phase 2. And granted, Theradate and I have only been in Phase 2 for about 24 hours, so it's a little bit hard to know yet what it'll be like, or how many Diff Cons it will involve. But I have high hopes :)

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Missed connections

Slinky reminded me last night of a small incident that I had almost forgotten about that occurred a couple of weeks ago at Theradate's chocolate party. Actually, it was before the chocolate party; he had asked me to come down early and spend some time with him before the guests arrived.

We were nibbling on snacks in the kitchen, double checking to make sure that everything was ready. After a while I suggested we move to the couch and relax for the last half hour or so before the guests arrived; Theradate agreed.

I headed off toward the couch and Theradate went in the opposite direction, to go to the bathroom or do some last-minute preparation, I assumed. I sat down in the sun, looking out at the amazing view of his city, feeling relaxed and happy, and waited for him to come join me. And waited. And waited. I started to feel less relaxed and happy. After ten minutes, I thought, this is really weird. Why did he even invite me here if it was to sit on the couch by myself? What is WITH this guy?

"Heathen?!" came Theradate's voice from the other room, then his head popped in. "You're in HERE? I was on the other couch! I thought you were going to the bathroom." He had been sitting on the couch in the living room for the past ten minutes, patiently waiting for me to come join him. Thoughtfully, we had both headed to each others' favorite couch -- he went to the cozy one in the living room that I like better; I went to his preferred couch, the one with the huge windows and incredible view.

*Sigh*. Maybe relationships are just like that sometimes. You both have good intentions and are thinking of the other person. And yet somehow, you just end up in different rooms, on different couches, by yourselves -- until you figure things out and remedy the matter. Which we promptly did.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Signing on the dotted line

Last week was contract time at my school. June is late to be signing contracts, and people were beginning to get nervous.

"What's that you're holding? A CONTRACT?" snapped one co-worker as I walked down the hallway a couple of weeks ago holding a report I was getting ready to photocopy.

When my principal called me into her office, I gave myself a little pep talk. "Heathen, when she tells you you're not getting a contract, take it like a woman. No crying. You can handle this." There was no reason to think I wouldn't get a contract; my performance review had been very positive. But I have PTSD from horrible work experiences, so anytime I hear the words, "Come in here, I'd like to have a word with you," my stomach drops.

Most people were not happy with their contracts. Their hours had not been increased, or they did not get as much of a pay raise as they were hoping. There's been a lot of griping the past few days. Me, I was thrilled.

"You can take it with you and think about it for a few days if you want," my principal told me. "No rush."

"I'm ready to sign," I replied without hesitation, grabbing the pen from her hand. "Just show me the dotted line."

And now, I'm ready for my FIRST carefree, fun summer off. It starts in 64 hours. If anyone's looking for me after that, I'll probably be at the beach.

Sunday, June 9, 2013


My friends are the best. They are the most supportive, fun, wise group of people one could possibly ask for.

Everyone has been asking me lots about Theradate, and everyone has advice. I realized this weekend, though, why the advice sometimes feels contradictory and less than helpful: Everyone perceives relationships through the lens of their own experiences. And I do that, too: when I have a bad experience, I vow never to repeat it -- like, when I swore to myself I would never date another European after La Moustache and I broke up.

But the thing is, there are lots of great Europeans out there. The fact that he is European wasn't the problem. And, while it can be helpful to think of people as types, the reality is that people AREN'T types. All men are complicated in their own unique ways -- and so am I.

Here's a sampling of the comments I've gotten:

"I worry that he is unclear in his communication. He reminds me of my ex, who is a few years older, like Theradate. It was so confusing to date him."

"I find it really concerning that he is moving so slow physically. I mean, is he attracted to you?? That's just like my ex who turned out to have major intimacy issues."

"I think he might be a drama queen. The type to get carried away by his emotions and love the initial excitement of a relationship, but not have the ability to stick it out through a REAL relationship. Like that guy in New York I had a fling with a few years ago."

"When I'm dating someone who I am worried may hurt me, I take it REALLY slow. That's what I would do if I were you. Remember that guy who broke my heart last year? I tried to do that with him because I liked him so much."

I talked to Theradate yesterday about my fears. My biggest fear is that he says and does lots of sweet things but they don't have much substance behind them. I also told him that I realize that there's no way he will respond to that by saying, "You're right, I'm a huge flirt and it's only superficial," so therefore the only way for me to figure out whether my fears are justified or not is for us to spend time together and figure out whether we are compatible. He told me that he really likes me, but that he recognizes that sometimes people get hurt even when both people are trying their best to be careful and considerate of each other. Rightly or wrongly, I trust him -- to at least try his hardest not to let that happen. I'll try my hardest, too, and that's really all we can do.

So, I'm going down south today to see him. He's making me dinner -- the first time he's cooked since 2005. I'm excited.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Emotional insurance

Theradate does not have renter's insurance, which shocks me. I don't have renter's insurance, either, but it's different because a) I'm going to get it soon (July 15 is the deadline my financial planner gave me), b) I don't have anywhere near as much nice stuff as Theradate, and c) the few valuable possessions I do have were mostly cleaned out by the thieves that broke into my place in February. Also, about a thousand people in the New England area know where Theradate keeps his spare keys. I don't even HAVE spare keys.

I gave Theradate many, many reasons why he absolutely has to get renter's insurance. He sighed.

"If only I could get emotional renter's insurance," he said. "That's the only part I care about."

TOTALLY. The check for $250 I got last week from my roommate's insurance company is a pittance compared to the emotional damage wreaked by the thieves. It feels like such a violation to have someone come into your home and comb through your possessions.

I wish I could get emotional insurance, too. And not just for my apartment -- I can think of tons of things I need emotional insurance for.

Not the least of which, at this particular moment in time, is Theradate. He confused me yesterday. Since I don't have emotional insurance, I did the next best thing and put him in texting purgatory. He's not allowed to text me for 48 hours so I can clear my head.

But really, someone should figure out a way to sell emotional insurance. I would be your first client.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Curbing my enthusiasm

I am working hard to follow my wise mother's advice not to act too eager with Theradate. When he begged, cajoled and pleaded with me to accompany him to a friend's barbecue and party last Friday night, I steadfastly said no. He asked if I'd consider playing hooky at work and going with him to Northampton; I refused. When he suggested we sign up to take a cheese class in July, or maybe just go to France and eat cheese in July, I said we should concentrate on making plans for the next week, not two months into the future. He asked if I wanted to take a drive up to the nudist lake in Vermont I went to as a child, and I told him I was not going to any nudist places with him for a LONG time. And last weekend, as we were kissing in his car, one minute I was thinking, "Damn, Theradate is the cutest thing EVER. I could kiss him all night. And think how adorable our babies would be! They'd have unkempt Tom Waits hair, beautiful dark eyes, and incredible hats." The next minute, my inner monologue said, "Heathen, BACK THE FUCK OFF. Remember what your mother said." And I did. I think I deserve some kind of medal for that.

Inside my head, unfortunately, it's not so easy to contain my excitement. Theradate makes my heart beat fast and my tummy feel a little bit fluttery and kinda nauseous. It's like being on drugs, and it's awesome and stressful at the same time. As scary as it is to like someone and not know what will happen, I do know that Theradate is a solid guy and a first-class communicator. So, I am officially giving myself permission to get a *little* bit excited.

Still, sometimes I think about how much easier it is to date guys I feel ambivalent about. Hmm, I wonder if 95% is still single?

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Chocolate Extravaganza

It's T-minus 5 days until Theradate's chocolate party, which I have been looking forward to for weeks because a) it's a chocolate party, DUH b) I'm smitten with Theradate and c) two of my best girlfriends, Slinky and La Chimiste, have agreed to make the trek down to check it out with me. 

The invitation: 

It's been way too long since we gathered together to pop some corks, tell some tales and make some trouble. Plus, three times in the last week alone I've run into folks at Whole Foods who've asked when the hell we're going to have another shin-dig at my place. 

So--mark your calendars for the evening of May 31st, and we'll gather together over here for some good old-fashioned frolicking as we usher in the summer.

Our agenda for the evening is full: we'll hang around, watch the sun go down, and while away the evening as we sip, gab, gossip, strum, sing, tempt, talk, hint, laugh, play, dance, tickle, incite, incant, expound, inspire, dissuade, deter, concur, demur, infer, imply, amuse, guffaw, refrain, condone, support, provoke, suggest, submit, present, applaud, uphold, prevail, proffer, further, foster, mingle, make, meddle, and more. 

Bring a friend. Bring three. Doors are open to all. (Scoundrels, scofflaws, strumpets, and scalawags strongly preferred, and will find much company.)

As usual, grab a few of your favorite musical instruments, racy poems, embarrassing stories, small animals, party games, improbably ideas, out-of-circulation drachmas, or whatever else tickles your fancy.

The Council of Culinary Consiglieri have decided on a food-theme for the gathering: CHOCOLATE-FEST, 2013. 

For those of you who haven't been to one of these gatherings before: no one needs to bring ANYTHING apart from their own good selves. However, anyone who feels like trying out new recipes on an unsuspecting but appreciative crew of slightly tipsy heathens--feel free to bring whatever you like related to the current food theme, e.g. "chocolate". Willing mouths await.  

WHO: You and whomever else you feel like bringing

WHAT: Party

WHERE: My house

WHEN: Friday, May 31st. Sunset is at 7:21 PM, if you want to be here for that. Otherwise, come on by when it gets dark. We'll play into the night, until everyone's done playing. 

WHY: I dislike that question

HOW: We'll figure it out



P.S. Even though my past attempts to solicit RSVPs have failed continually and miserably, hope does indeed spring eternal, so I'll give it another go: "A quick RSVP would be molto apprezzato. Grazie!" That way I'll know how many bags of chips to get. 

Best. Invitation. Ever. 

Monday, May 20, 2013

Reality check

Theradate is personable and charming and likable, and it's hard to remember sometimes not to get too excited about him. He's been sending a steady stream of sweet texts and long emails, not to mention a tantalizing invitation to a chocolate party. Plus, I like him. But he's far from a sure bet, so I need to work to contain my enthusiasm.

I texted Slinky to that effect, asking her to please slap me as a reminder.

Little did I know that I had no need to ask Slinky for such a favor, as the person sitting right next to me could provide exactly what I needed. I was on a Greyhound bus (or "hell on wheels" as I fondly call it) with my mom coming back from New York -- a far cry from the comfortable Acela ride we were expecting that was canceled after a train wreck on Friday. As the bus inched along, it became increasingly clear that I was not going to make it back to Boston in time for Theradate to pick me up at South Station and take me to dinner as we had planned.

He suggested we meet later in the week instead. I told him I couldn't; I had plans with Slinky. But then Slinky graciously offered to rearrange our plans.

"Slinky doesn't mind postponing drinks, so I'll let Theradate know I can get dinner after all," I informed Mom.

"Well, who knows if he's still free," Mom replied.

"But that was only 20 minutes ago that he suggested Tuesday," I reminded Mom.

"My point exactly. Who knows how many women he's texted in the last 20 minutes to ask out to dinner," replied Mom in her most pragmatic tone.

I couldn't really argue with her. The woman had a point.

Later, Slinky checked in to make sure that dinner plans had been confirmed. "I guess all the other women Theradate asked to replace me turned him down," I reported, "so he's stuck with me."

Monday, May 6, 2013

Thanks, but no thanks

Theradate has not been making it easy for me to stick to my resolution to ignore him. He's been "liking" lots of photos of me on Facebook (prompting me to wonder if he really likes me or only "likes" me). He also invited me to the premiere of a movie he's starring in. The only communication I'm not getting from him is an invitation to spend time with him without his 500 closest friends. Until said invitation arrives, I will continue to studiously ignore his advances. (And by "ignore," I mean thank him for the invite to the premiere but lie and say I have plans that night, but I look forward to seeing it when it's available on the Internet.)

I gotta admit, though: I am DYING of curiosity. Should I take my roommate up on her offer to go with a video camera and make me a bootleg of it??

Saturday, May 4, 2013

The Slow Decider

I'm a slow decider. It takes me a few months to decide if I really love a new item of clothing, or new jewelry. It's not just a process of looking and deciding whether or not I objectively like it; I need to wear it for a while and see how it feels on me and whether or not it feels like a match for me. 

And boyfriends are no different. My feelings about exes tend to gradually morph and change shape over time. Sometimes they mellow and improve, like old wine or fine cheese; other times they behave more like rotten vegetables. Nearly four years after La Moustache broke my heart, I am finally ready to think about him as a nuanced person with faults as well as good qualities, and I even wrote him a couple of friendly emails this winter.  It took me a few years after our breakup, but I now consider l'Artista to be a good friend and one of the best exes one could possibly ask for. Dreamy, on the other hand, is like one of those vegetables that dry up and shrivel in your vegetable drawer. He's not really ever on my mind, not because it's painful to think about him but just simply because I don't feel any connection to him.

Monkeyboy, though a brief affair, is someone who I avoid thinking about because it's painful. In just a few short weeks he managed to win my trust, then break my heart in a way that seemed like it should be impossible in such a short time frame. His last communication with me was a note in which he refused to see me to talk about the breakup, and I don't foresee ever contacting him or hearing from him again. Leif Ericson is another one who I don't think about much, though in his case it's more because he just wasn't so memorable. By now I think more often of the delicious concoctions his friend cooked up than I do about Leif himself, whose personality always seemed a bit amorphous, probably because he was an alcoholic. And, although I only went on just four short dates with him, I continue to have a big soft spot for Theradate, to whom I managed to recount my entire life story on our first date and STILL have plenty to talk to him about on our subsequent dates. I ran into him at the movies a couple of months ago, and giggled when he told me that he managed to cry four times during 56 Up (I'm still not sure how that is humanly possible). He checked in with me after the bombings a couple of weeks ago, making sure that not only was I ok but asking about my sister and brother-in-law, too. He can be a bit over-the-top, but he's sweet.  

These days I'm dating 95%, and am beginning to wonder how I'll think about him in a year's time or two. He's kind and thoughtful and would do anything to make me happy, but after three months of dating I still don't feel that I really know him. He's smart, interesting and a great match for me in many ways, but I'm just not as excited after three months as I probably should be. 

Meanwhile, Theradate contacted me a week and a half ago to ask me to get together. He had told me when we broke up that he wanted to stay in touch, so I was happy but unsurprised to hear from him. I didn't really have time to see him, but I said yes anyway. It turns out he didn't really have time to see me, either, and he ended up canceling, saying he'd rather get together when we both have the time to hang out, maybe spend a weekend afternoon together. I didn't feel disappointed when he canceled. 

Still, it got me to thinking about Theradate, and a few days later I found myself doing some Internet research about him. I found out that he seems to be recently single, which made me wonder if his contacting me was in fact just the friendly gesture I had initially interpreted it as. I decided to check in about when we'd be hanging out. This led to an increasingly frustrating series of texts that went along the following lines: 

TD: Heeeeey!! Love to see you. I'll be in Boston twice this week: on Tuesday for a business dinner and then again on Friday. 

Me: Cool! Maybe we can get a drink before your business dinner or after?

TD: Not sure. There's a slim chance my dinner could be over by 9 so maybe we could see each other then. If not, I miiiiiight be able to squeeze you in on Friday before my plans. I'll check in with my colleague about Friday. 

Me: Let's aim for one or the other. Which one seems more likely?

Then, feeling that this was becoming ridiculous:  Theradate, much as I'd love to see you, all these "maybes" are making it difficult to plan my week. Let's postpone until you have a time when you're sure you're able to hang out. 

TD: Totally understand, Heathen. We'll do that. Sorry for all the craziness -- my schedule should be more open in a couple of weeks. 

Me: Okay, it would be fun to hang out the weekend after next if you're around!

Then,, in a last-ditch attempt: Any chance you are free for a beer tomorrow?

TD: Would LOVE to see you but I'm heading to Boston in rush hour traffic and I have to be there right after I'm done with work!!! 

At that point, I growled at my phone and gave up. Maybe it'll happen someday; maybe it won't. In the meantime, I'm finding myself thinking about Theradate and feeling annoyed at myself for doing so and annoyed at him for reappearing and making me think about him all over again after MONTHS of not thinking about him, but seeming incapable of making plans that don't include a "maybe."

Saturday, April 6, 2013


The label "Ferguson" was invented several years ago when my brother-in-law, the Sensitive Bostonian, was moving in with my sister. Everyone who was involved in the move was required to take at least three plants that were cuttings given to him by his father. I mentioned that once a vendor at the Grand Army Plaza farmer's market had told me that these rainforest-type viney plants are called Fergusons, and the label stuck: anything that is given away because the owner no longer wants or needs it is a Ferguson. Basically it's a new word for hand-me-downs, but with more of a ring to it.

My life is filled with Fergusons these days, ever since I came home from pottery class one night to find three cop cars facing the wrong way in the middle of the street in front of my house and my roommate's window wide open. The cops had me wait in the hallway outside my apartment while they checked the house for prints or anything that would contain DNA, but luckily I could hear my lovebird squawking loudly so I knew he was ok.

After I inspected the damage and mentally tallied everything I had lost, it turned out that I had two necklaces left to my name -- one that I was wearing, plus a pearl necklace from my grandmother (that I've never worn) that the thieves opened, looked at, and rejected; zero rings, since the two diamond rings from my other grandma were in a box awaiting cleaning that the thieves lifted; two pairs of earrings, one of which I had taken off at the gym and left in my bag; and one bracelet. I had often thought how terrible it would be if I were to lose one of my favorite pairs of earrings or one of my rings, but it never once crossed my mind that I could ever lose everything at once.

Friends have been so kind, pooling together their Ferguson jewelry for me and giving me a gift certificate so I can pick out some non-Ferguson jewelry as well. I hope to score a Ferguson camera off someone so I can take real pictures for my Etsy site, rather than the crappy cell phone pictures I have been using of late. After a while the Fergusons will no longer feel like Fergusons, but right now they don't quite feel like mine. I know jewelry is only stuff, but all the pieces I had that were made by friends, or came from faraway places, or given to me by people I love felt like more than that to me; many of them I had worn so much they felt like extensions of my body, and without them I feel naked. It's hard not to think, when I put on my orange sweater in the morning, "I can wear those orange earring my aunt in France gave me; they will match perfectly!" or, fifty times a days, "Did I take off my ring when I was washing the dishes and forget to put it back on?" I hope my subconscious brain catches up to reality soon.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Putting my geography degree to good use

I have a long reverse commute to work. The downside of this is that I spend a long time in the car every day and feel guilty all the time about all the horrible, toxic gases I'm releasing into the atmosphere; the upside is I don't mind being in the car and I rarely have to deal with traffic. Oh, and also I love my job, which makes it all worthwhile.

Because of my guilt as well as my concern that too much time in the car is bad for my mental health, I try hard to limit my non-commuter driving. I spend lots of time on the weekends on the subway, or trekking around Jamaica Plain on foot. Above all, I certainly do not want a relationship that involves any extra driving. Therefore, for the past few months one of the qualities I've looked for in the men I date has been "lives northeast of Boston" (along my route to work). I was derailed briefly in the fall when I dated Theradate, who lives a whopping 45 minutes in the opposite direction in a completely different state (what was I thinking??), but since then I've stuck pretty closely to the north-of-Boston types.

This week, after months of trying, I finally had a major commuter-dater win. Like I said, I rarely deal with traffic -- but every so often I do, namely when there is a Red Sox game or when it is raining. (Boston drivers, among their many other quirks, are apparently incapable of driving in the rain. I'm not talking about a driving rainstorm here; more like a light drizzle.) One day this week, there was a light, intermittent rain falling, and true to form the highway was backed up about 8 miles north of the city. My co-workers reported the next day that it took them close to two hours to get home, and they don't even live as far as I do.

95% and I had plans to see a movie at my house, but when I saw the traffic situation I quickly called him to suggest a change. Thankfully, he agreed, and I pulled off the highway after a mere ten minutes in traffic, stopped at my favorite Mexican place to get takeout, and was at 95%'s house 20 minutes later.

Hooray for pragmatic dating!

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Heathenisha finds her man

I don't know whether to feel elated about this, or depressed, or both. But I think my fake OkCupid profile who has taken on a life of her own, Heathenisha, has found her perfect man -- before me! How is this possible when she's been online a solid two years less than me and hasn't gone on a single date??

Heathenisha is the profile I created back when I was dating Dreamy. At first, she was just a blank profile for me to use to check out friends' dates. But gradually I started giving out the password, and when friends asked if they could fill out her profile, I assented. By now, at least 15 people use Heathenisha, and "to Heathenisha" has become a verb amongst my friends (meaning "to look up profiles from a fake account"). Meanwhile, she has taken on an eccentric, communally-created personality: She is well over 7 feet tall and loves two things above all others, namely her cat, Rudolf, and the color red.

Yesterday Slinky and I were gchatting and she was simultaneously Heathenisha-ing when she brought the following profile to my attention:

Username: MarryMePronto

Self-summary: I'm just a romantic man looking for love. I already have the ring. I just need the finger. Like Cinderella and the glass slipper, your ring finger could be just the ticket to a fairytale wedding. No long courtship. I just want to be a Mister with a Mrs.

What I'm doing with my life: Looking for the one. I've been trying for years but, as you know, dating is hard. So finally I just decided to wish it to be so. So I bought the ring and I know it's going to happen. I just have to believe.

I'm really good at: Knowing what girls like. Seriously. I've got the china patterns all picked out. I like long conversations. I WANT to hear about your day. Every day. In our house. Where married people live.

Favorite books: Anything by Dr. Phil. I also like "The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work". And the "Twilight" series. It's so romantic.

Favorite movies: Legally Blonde, Pretty Woman, Cinderella (Disney version), Sixteen Candles, and Ever After

The 6 things I could never do without: My ring, my future wife, my sense of romance, my cat, Britney, aromatherapy candles, bubble Baths

I spend a lot of time thinking about: My wedding day. I know women usually do this and it sounds cliché but I can't wait to say "I do". It's going to be the best day of my life.

And the photos? All pictures of a dude holding out a diamond ring. AMAZING. 

I think Britney and Rudolf are going to have a very happy future together. 

Friday, February 8, 2013

Dating like a grown-up

I'm feeling good about my dating life lately. Not that anything terribly exciting is happening; it's still rare for me to get to a third date, and I seem to have dates with an endless parade of men named either Matt or Dave. (Last week I had four dates, out of which 75% were named either Matt or Dave.  Can't anyone get a bit more creative with the names?) They're smart, interesting men, and I have fun with them, but it's hard to feel like I have skin in the game with any of them.

In the past, the men I've been seriously interested in I've liked instantly. It took me all of five hours to fall hopelessly in love with l'Artista (and there were no words exchanged during that time, since I spoke no Italian and he no English), and I became smitten with La Moustache the second time I met him. I was even quite taken with Dreamy on our first few dates, strange as that now seems. But these days it's hard to imagine that happening. I have a career, and a craft business on the side, and a million other things going on. I'm not sure I have it in me to meet someone and have them become the immediate focus of my attention (though if I have gleaned one rule about dating from my experiences, it's to never make predictions because you NEVER know what will happen).

There are a lot of positive aspects of not having skin in the game. For starters, I am finding it much easier to put myself out there. So, last night I was able to tell my date flirtatiously, just before I raced out the door to meet Slinky, "We should have a proper date next time!" My date eagerly agreed, but the next morning I thought back to the part of our date when he showed me about 30 photos of his cat and wondered if I had made a mistake. Last weekend, after a few glasses of wine, I walked up to a Bavarian-looking mountain man in a green vest and said, "I liked your moves on the dance floor." I started to walk away, but he was excited to find himself talking to a cute blond girl and stopped my progress. He didn't end up asking for my number, and I was fine with that; I knew he wanted to and probably kicked himself that he hadn't. And the other day I told Pottery Crush, who I've been sitting across from every Wednesday night for the past 1.5 years and somehow just noticed recently that a) he exists and b) he's a cute, single guy, that we should check out a concert together sometime. We also talked about getting together for some glaze firings... HOT!! (Sorry, I couldn't resist.)

So even though I'm not feeling particularly excited about anyone, there are plenty of eligible bachelors out there. I'm not planning to get invested in any of them for a while. But I am looking forward to a sledding date later this weekend with 95%, a man who seemed so good on paper that I fully expected to feel an immediate connection with him when I met him. I didn't, but I'm going to keep going out with him and see if a connection starts to develop, because I think he's a good egg with a lot of potential. And maybe it's time to stop expecting to find someone who'll make me feel like a teenager, seeing as how it's been a decade and a half since I was one.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

The glass is half empty

My sister and I were looking through dating profiles recently. She kept piping in with mostly positive comments: "He sounds really thoughtful!" or "He's artistic, that's good for you." Then, invariably, we'd get to the bottom of the profile and she'd express the same frustration I've felt many times when checking what age the bachelor in question is interested in dating: "Ugh. Another one who only wants younger women." So many men end their age ranges at their own age, or a year or two below. Why??! Are they  following what they perceive to be social norms without thinking about it, do they not want to date someone who's their equal, are they worried about the fertility of older women? In any case, it's offensive.

Finally, we found one whose age range was wider -- he wanted to date women up to age 45, a good 10 years older than he is! I pointed this out hopefully to my sister. She sighed and shook her head regretfully.

"I'm afraid that means he doesn't want children."

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Goodbye, Man-sprout

I was looking forward to my long-awaited date with Man-sprout, the man I went out with last April who then canceled our second date last-minute and recently charmed me into agreeing to go out with him again. It had been a looong week, one of the longest I can remember, filled with lots of tears over Big Guy's passing, some soul-searching over whether to take off work and go to his memorial, confusingly kind messages from La Moustache, a small car accident that led to missing an important work meeting... I *really* needed a cocktail.

Instead, I got one line:


I'm not going to be able to make it tomorrow. Something has come up. 


Wow. It's hard to know how to respond to this level of rudeness. I decided to just laugh about it and get a cocktail with Slinky instead -- exactly what I did the last time he canceled on me (and SO much more fun than going out with Man-sprout would have been).

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Big Guy

When I saw a message from my ex-boyfriend La Moustache in my inbox this afternoon, I knew that something terrible had happened. I thought first of his dad, or his mom. Maybe his uncle, who still sends me occasional sweet messages.

But instead it was our friend and former landlord in Brooklyn, Big Guy. I should have known: of COURSE a 34-year-old black man who lives in Bed-Stuy is at more risk than 60-something, white French people.

Big Guy was one of the kindest, most generous men I've known. He was always available and happy to help; even before I moved in he offered to drive over to my old house to pick me up so I could sign the lease. He brought me to work when the subway wasn't running, and loaned us his car when ours crumpled to its death one day on Atlantic Avenue. He'd try a taste of any food I offered him, but his favorite was my mom's apple cake recipe. I started baking one for him every fall because he loved it so much. He'd come in for a piece or two, then ask for one to take downstairs to his place so he "could really get into it." I pictured him diving face first into the apple cake, crumbs flying in every direction à la Cookie Monster.

He didn't deserve to be shot in the chest by a drunk man accosting a woman who Big Guy was attempting to protect. He certainly didn't deserve to have his arrest record published in the Daily News in an article about his murder -- how is it in any way relevant to what happened that he drove without a license a few times?? Needless to say, his three children don't deserve to grow up without a father.

I don't know anything about the man who shot him, except that it was his birthday and he was drunk. But I imagine that it's possible that when he woke up this morning, hung over and in jail, he regretted his terrible, impulsive action, whether it was for Big Guy's sake or just his own. I hope Obama is able to do something to make it harder to get guns so that a drunk guy doesn't have the option of pulling out a gun and shooting someone in the chest. It's just so... senseless.