Sunday, February 27, 2011

I Like Surprises, Honest - Part Two

After the surprise that when awry last week, I didn't actually believe I was going to get more surprises or flowers again any time soon. Mr. U and I started a new week fresh with no mistakes in it, putting the stresses and miscommunication from the days before behind us. Monday we went to see Just Go With It. It was, to say the least, idiotic. On the other hand, there were several moments where I laughed so hard I buried my face in Mr. U's shoulder, almost in tears, my whole body shaking. And it feels so good to laugh like that. To laugh that hard. It reminds you that you don't laugh that hard enough. And to do whatever it takes to find that laughter more often.

As it turned out it was lucky that we even saw the movie at all. I followed Mr. U into our designated theatre and we picked out our seats. (Or rather I should say he let me pick out our seats. I mean, he is perfect after all and spoils me ridiculously. At least I'm aware this is the case). It was 7:30 on a Monday night and we were the only ones seeing this particular showing. We hadn't seen each other since the Friday before. I had been babysitting all weekend for a couple that was out of town just the two of them on vacation. It hadn't been a terrible or eventful assignment, but I was certainly exhausted and ready for some adult conversation and catching up with my man. We talked and talked. There were advertisements on the screen. Not the previews, but advertisements for products and television shows. "Are you a previews person," I asked Mr. U. It's funny all the little things you don't know about a person. That is until you do. Despite the countless amazing and well-planned dates Mr. U had taken me on, we'd never just gone to see a movie. Holding hands in the dark. Whispering little commentary in one another's ears. It was a nice, relaxing change of pace. Back to normal was what I had wanted. And back to normal was what I got.

As it turns out he's a previews person. He likes to get there before the previews and watch them all. I on the other hand couldn't care about them in the slightest. I could walk in mere seconds before a film starts and be perfectly content. Or sit and talk through the previews with my companion instead. (Yeah, I'm one of those people. Sorry!). After awhile though, we realized the advertisements kept coming and no previews. "This is A LOT of advertisements," I commented. He nodded in agreement. And then there were more. And more. I knew this wasn't right. "I think we're in the wrong theatre," I said. "No," he said. "Yes," I insisted. We got up and went outside to check. And yes - we were in the wrong theatre. Ours was directly across from the other one in the hallway. "I'm an idiot," he said shaking his head annoyed with himself. "No you're not," I reassured him. "It's no big deal." We went into theatre number 2 and the movie had already started. I picked our second set of seats and we settled in. We looked at each other and just had to laugh. We'd been so wrapped up in being with one another and talking, we almost missed half the movie. That's just funny.

Afterwards, Mr. U walked me to my car. We sat inside for a long time. Talking some and kissing more. I wasn't going to see him again until Friday. Eventually we both knew it was time to go home. Things to do. Rest to get. Work in the morning. Oh if only the times when you are blissfully happy could just stay still and last a little longer. Before he got back out of the car, he remembered one last thing he had to tell me:

"You get a surprise Friday."

"I do?"

"You do."

"I like surprises."

"I don't know about that after last time..."

"I Like Surprises, Honest."

"Okay then."

"Do I get hints?"

"No you don't get hints."

"I want hints."

"Oh geez. Well I'll think about that."

"I want one every day for the rest of the week."

"Every day??!!!"


"All-riiiiiight. We'll see."

"Okay good."

I gave him one last kiss goodbye and then drove home. Smiling to myself and trying to focus on the road. It is so hard to be safe these days. I find myself daydreaming so often about one of our dates or something he said or when I'm going to see him next that I bump into things, drop items and have to remind myself to pay attention even more than I usually do. It's a problem. But a problem I'm willing to live with.

The next day I received an email from Mr. U.

Subject Line: HINT

It is comfortable.
And will require you to stay with me on Friday night. To wit, let me know if you will be coming straight from the office on Friday...

Comfortable? Comfortable, comfortable? Hmm....What was it? A pillow? sheets? A blanket? A bed? A couch? A t-shirt? Lingerie? Lingerie isn't really comfortable. A snuggie? Did he get us a couple's snuggie? (And yes there really is a couple's snuggie! Check out the link - you will not be disappointed). Or was it underwear? Pajamas? And why did it matter whether I came straight from the office or not? If it is something that requires staying at his place then won't I see whatever it is whenever I go to his place either right after work or after whatever else we do that evening? And even if I already packed underwear, pajamas, whatever to bring to his place it shouldn't matter whether there were duplicates? I just wouldn't use or wear whatever else I brought.

Hmph. This was going to drive me crazy. But - this - was also super fun. I do in fact like surprises. Honest. :-)

Thursday, February 24, 2011

I Like Surprises, Honest

In the aftermath of a trip to the emergency room with Mr. U, I was feeling vulnerable about our relationship. I couldn't pin point who, what, where, when, how or why but I was simply overwhelmed and worried about the whole thing. As it turned out, I wouldn't have to wait very long before finding out if my anxiety was justified.

Unfortunately for me (as it really, REALLY) just wasn't my week, I was scheduled for a root canal the morning after my freak allergic reaction that sent me to GW hospital. While ordinarily I might have cancelled, it's not like I didn't have a great excuse, I still would've had to pay the $75 per half hour of appointment time (in my case = a whopping $225) for canceling and the dentist doing no work (!) but also its just plain rude and also it had taken great pains to get me a referral and scheduled appointment with this particular specialist and also if not now, I'd simply have to do it later. So let's just get this over with I thought...

It was stressful. After a night in the emergency room and then not much sleep I found myself lying in a sterile room surrounded by people, poking and prodding and twisting and turning me and confining me in contraptions. It was to say the least - unpleasant. And stressful. And I was completely exhausted. They give you an Ipod so you can listen to music. You can pick an artist or album from a list beforehand. I chose - James Taylor. In theory, this wasn't a bad choice. I haven't heard much James Taylor in about 10 years. When I was in high school choir we used to do renditions of his songs like - "Shower the People You Love With Love..." as in "Make it Rain...with Sunshine..." This clearly was the song I was thinking of when I thought - oh gee- this will be relaxing and upbeat and make me feel better while I'm feeling crappolo. Unfortunately - I forgot that a lot of James Taylor's songs are a bit of a downer. Low tempo. His girl has left him. He's down and out. There is a burden to bear. It was a bit tough. So there I am, helpless...Listening to "Sweet Baby James" trying to stop myself from bursting into tears in the middle of a dentist chair, in the middle of a procedure.

There is a young cowboy he lives on the range
His horse and his cattle are his only companions

With ten miles behind me and ten thousand more to go
There's a song that they sing when they take to the highway

Maybe you can believe it if it helps you to sleep

Won't you let me go down in my dreams
And rock-a-bye sweet baby James

When I was finally freed from my chair, it was like I was in a fog. It had been a rough couple of days. And now I had to go to work - (work!!!) - because I couldn't take the day off and my boss had been calling me wondering how much longer this whole thing was gonna take (like I was out to mimosa brunch or something!) and when I was going to get back to the office. It would be a sweet sort of satisfaction when I arrived shortly thereafter and he saw my face all swollen and crooked like a deformed clown and I could barely talk. He was sympathetic then. I can't say such nice things about the rest of my coworkers who begged me to say something, anything (as if I had an adorable Irish or British or Australian accent or something) and then laughed and laughed and laughed at how ridiculous I looked and sounded. Fuckers. I mean, it was all in good fun, but still...

The day started out rough. And it would remain rough. I had a ton of things to do. Pressure from everyone to get them done. My mouth was swollen and in pain. I was completely exhausted. Things generally sucked. And then...I got a phone call.

"T?" "Yes..." "Could you please come down to reception please..." "I'll be right there." Reception? I thought. Reception? Why do I have to go to reception. I wasn't expected anybody.

When I got down there. There he was. Mr. U. -- with pink roses. In one of his shiny, debonair suits. Holding roses for christ's sake. With a grin on his face. might be swooning and smiling yourself. Thinking I'm one lucky lady and I should've be pleasantly surprised and happy to see him. But I wasn't. I would perhaps come to regret my feelings and the behavior that I would display next. But I can't take them back. I was generally horrified to see him. And just not in the mood. He'd caught me at the worst possible moment. I was tired, I was busy as all get out. I was still working through my own feelings and decompressing from the emergency situation the night before and I was feeling ugly and awkward and in pain from the dental surgery. I didn't want to see him. I didn't want to see anybody. But especially not him being all sweet and nice and giving me roses and doting on me and seeing how I was. Because the truth was, I was miserable. And had a thousand miserable things to do while I was miserable. And I just wanted to hole myself up in my office and get those thousands of things done and get the hell out of there so I could hole myself in another hole - called home. But I wasn't so lucky.

"What are you doing here?" I asked him. "I came to see how you were doing," he said still grinning. " have to go." I said. I pushed the elevator button and didn't even attempt to hide my annoyance. We went down stairs. "I'll walk you back to your office." I said. I couldn't even look at him. I have no idea what thoughts were going through his head. But he couldn't have been very reassured. "You don't have to," he said. "Really. If you're busy." I walked him back to his office and asked him about his day on the way. When we got there I gave him a very awkward, almost too long hug, still not really looking at him in the face and then headed back to my office.

So...its official. I. am. an idiot. My lovely boyfriend in an attempt to be as good to me as ever comes to my office to check up on me to make sure I'm okay and to bring me roses and I treat him like that? Fucking. idiot.

I went up back into my office and back onto the elevator and just felt numb. When I got to my floor I looked around for an empty conference room and left the flowers in there to hide them. I just didn't feel like my coworkers seeing them and then asking me about them. I didn't want to be fussed over. But despite my best efforts, I wouldn't have that convenience.

Several hours later, my supervisor came in and asked - "Does someone have roses in the conference room?" She looked around the floor. People were shaking their heads. Nope. Not me. "They're mine," I finally piped up. "Oh," she said. "Those are nice. Why did you have them in there? It's not your birthday is it?" "No, no" I said while silently forgiving her for not remember my birthday was like 3 weeks ago. "Well then why do you have them?" another coworker wanted to know. Oy vay! So I explained. "Oh, I don't know. Mr. U was here earlier. I just felt weird about it. He's always doing things for me. I didn't want to brag and gush about him ALL the time."

And then the shit storm rained down on me. Apparently I'm a completely ungrateful girlfriend. Who doesn't deserve him. I shouldn't have shuttled him out of the office. I should have displayed his flowers on my desk proudly. They'll take him and the flowers, if I didn't want them. Ugh. So instead of remaining hidden and holed up, head down, work done, I became the complete center of negative attention. Double ugh. And then I started to feel really, really guilty. And stupid.

I wrote Mr. U an email:

"Thank you very much for the flowers and for checking in. You are wonderful and I appreciate it. Sorry if I was a little weird/off but you really caught me at a bad time and off guard. If you ever need/want to meet with me again during work hours it should be outside the building or in the front lobby on the first floor and I'd appreciate a call first. Also, after you left last night, I got a lot worse and my face is still a little swollen and its hard for me to talk and last night was stressful and awful and I have so much on my plate today I really just need to focus and push through."

It wasn't a perfect email. But it's what I had in me at the time. Everyone says I was completely silly about not wanting him to surprise me at work. That no one cared but me. Probably true. They said I'd never get flowers or surprises again for all the grief I'd given him. Shit. Shit. Shit. So let me go through this again, I actually had a boyfriend who was thoughtful enough to surprise me and bring/send me flowers. And I'd basically told him not to? Geez I'm bad at this.

He responded shortly with a text message. "Got email. It is a-ok. Good luck with your tough day."

Which only made things worse. Which is why I didn't want to see him in the first place. I wasn't in a mindset to DEAL with anybody else. Or to TREAT THEM RIGHT. I was having a hard time as it was just slogging through and getting through this terrible day at the end of this terrible week. But as the minutes continued to tick off, I realized I needed things to be right with Mr. U and I. These weird turn of events just made me feel uneasy.

I picked up the phone and called him. "Hi," he answered right away. "Hi," I said. "What are you doing later?" I asked him. He had errands he planned to run and then he was supposed to go to a friend's bbq - someone he hadn't seen in awhile. "Oh." I responded disappointed. "I was hoping we could hang out, but if you're busy, we'll just wait till next week." "No, no, no," he insisted. "What did you have in mind?" "Dinner?" I asked. "Dinner," he agreed. "So listen," I said. "This is what I need. I need for you NOT to ask me how I'm feeling or anything about last night. I just wanna get things back to normal." "Okay, I can do that," he assured me. "See you later then," I said and hung up.

After work I met Mr. U at Mandu. A fantastic Korean restaurant on S and 18th near Dupont. I ordered hot soup which felt very nurturing in a way. I told him I was gonna eat funny and not to make fun of me. He looked at me like that was an insane question. In truth, he never makes fun of me. He never does or says anything that might hurt my feelings. He is always attentive, passionate, complimentary and kind. We made small talk about the weekend. Things still felt a little awkward, but they were slowly getting smoother throughout the meal. "I still feel weird," I said somewhere in the middle. At which point, he stopped me.

"LOOK!" he said firmly. "This week sucked. Shit happens. But nothing has changed. I like you. We are fine."

And that - was all I needed to hear. "Nothing Has Changed." And it really hadn't. I don't know what I was so worried about. "You don't think I'm crazy do you?" I asked him (knowing that I'd been acting a little strange all day). "No." he said. "But even if I did it wouldn't matter, because I already like you too much. I'd just have to deal." Wow. w-o-w. I know I wrote a whole post about how he actually has flaws but I might have to go re-read it myself to remember them. Because at that moment, and right now reliving it, I can't remember what a single bad quality might be. He is everything I need. He is the calm to my storm.

After all, a wise, fellow, female blogger commented on a recent post: "I know the feeling of derailment, but I want to hasten to say - don't let THAT derail you. feelings are just feelings after all. seriously." And she's so right. Feelings are just feelings. Going to the emergency room instead of the movies sucked. The dentist was no fun. Work was busy. He surprised me. And it wasn't the best surprise I've ever had because it wasn't an ideal time. But so what. Life isn't always peaches and candy and butterflies and puppies. Sometimes you feel shitty. Sometimes you wanna be alone. Sometimes your significant other makes you feel sad, angry, annoyed, confused or even weird. But hopefully also happy, joyful, beautiful, sexy, intrigued, goofy, giddy and content. Feelings. are. just. feelings. And the right person - will stick around through them all.

After all of these realizations, I shared the following with Mr. U:

"I like surprises, honest! I like surprises. And flowers. And you. But maybe just not at work. After I've been in the emergency room all night. Or after dental surgery". "Okay," he said. I can handle that. "No, really," I said. "I'm just worried I'm never gonna get surprises or flowers ever again. And I really like them. Surprises that is." "Oh you spoiled girl," he said. "Don't worry. You'll get more surprises. But not at work. After hospitals or dentist's offices. You'll see..."

And I would in fact see - and see just a few days later. Because after all we'd been through the last couple of days - Nothing - had in fact changed.

Friday, February 18, 2011

31 Minutes - Guest Post by Andy White

A Trip to the Emergency Room

This is what happens when things stop being polite and start getting real...
We live in the real world - not a fairytale. And in the real world, we mere mortals don't get to live happily "ever after." Only Snow White, Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella have that luxury. Down here on earth, if you're lucky enough, you might just be able to find some one to have and to hold, for better or for worse. And not ever after, but only till death do you part. And if you live in my fair land of not so far far away, you arent even promised the assurance of happiness either, only the pursuit of it. Oh and the divorce rate is around 50%. Pretty sure Rapunzel never considered that option.

I've been wondering if MrU could be that person. That I get to share a lifetime with. To love with my whole heart, as long as it keeps beating. Hoping and hoping and wanting so badly that I of all people might get to be that lucky.

But we must not kid ourselves. Remember - it is not so very hard imagining a life with someone - when things are for the better. Its far for more challenging to commit yourself to another living, breathing, human being - when things are for the worse.

Or to expect someone to do that for you in return.

Because when you really think about it, it's really and truly an astronomical, unthinkable request.

New relationships are fragile and unstable. The love required for such loyalty and support necessary in a crisis of the worse is likely not yet born. In our case, I dont know exactly what number "date" it was, for me and my unicorn, but I'll never forget where it took place: The George Washington Hospital Emergency Room. Here is what happened...

I got off work early. My heart skipped a beat when I saw him walking across the street to meet me where I stood waiting for him, in from of my office. It was warm out. So warm in fact, that it felt like the first day of spring. Just like our romance. Light and easy and full of possibility. Mr. U was telling me about some home renovation he was doing as we walked down the busy, crowded sidewalk on our way to the movies.

Suddenly, I felt a sharp pain in the top of my left arm. And then numbness in my whole arm and tingling in my left hand. At first I wasn't too concerned because I figured maybe I had been sitting weird or for too long or something. Also, I was trying to listen attentively to Mr. U tell me about his day, so I was half distracted from the weird sensations. I tried to shake my arm. Shake it off. "Ugh" I was thinking shaking my whole arm violently. "What is this? What is this?"

Then the numbness and tingling got worse. It moved to my chest and the left side of my neck. My chest felt tight. Right around my heart. And then it got much worse. It moved to my face. My face was numb. The whole left side of my face! "Don't panic. Don't panic." I told myself. "Breath. Just breath." I started breathing in and out. In -1-2-3-4, Out-1-2-3-4. I tried counting my breaths while I continued shaking my arm.

This wasn't going away. This wasn't right. I turned to Mr. U. "Um, so I don't want to alarm you or anything. But I'm feeling a little weird." "I'm glad you said something," he said. "Because you are acting a little weird. What's going on?" So I told him. He said we should sit down. So we did. We looked around for a bench or something but there was nothing. So we sat down on the sidewalk in the middle of K street downtown. He put his arm around me. "Just tell me a story," I asked of him. So he did. Something about West Virginia. I have no idea. Because truthfully, I was beginning to panic. Which wasn't helping. "I just need to calm down." I said. To myself. To him. To no one. "I just need to calm down." But I wasn't calming down. And I began to feel flush. On my arms. On my face. On my back. Bumps grew on my face. I could feel them on my back too. And the tightness in my chest and my throat was heavy with pressure. I felt them slowly caving in on me.

"I'm so sorry," I turned to look at him full of worry. In the midst of this physical misery, all I could think was "dear god, he'll think I'm nuts. dear god, he'll dump me now for sure." "It's okay," he smiled at me (looking very concerned). "I just like being with you." "Even when I'm having a stroke or something?" I said back to him (only half kidding). "Even then," he confirmed and softly laughed. (Unicorn. Unicorn. Unicorn. He is a unicorn. If you didn't believe it before, believe it now people.)

"Do you have a doctor you can call?" he asked. I did. I called him. The on-call receptionist said he'd call me back. Shit. shit. shit. So I did the next best thing - I called the Walgreen's pharmacy. No joke. And spoke to a pharmacist there. No joke. "Um...could you maybe talk to me about some symptoms I'm having." "Sure," the lady said to me. (Really? they do that? who knew? I don't even shop there or get meds there. Craziness.) "What symptoms are you having?" she asked. I told her. "What medications are you currently taking?" I told her. "What did you eat today?" I told her. "Maam," she said to me, and then paused. "You aren't in front of me, so I don't know exactly what your situation is, but my best medical advice at this moment, is to get to your nearest hospital." "Seriously?" I asked her. "Right away."

I looked at Mr. U and said "where's the nearest hospital?" Without hesitation he stood up, hailed a cab and we got in. "GW hospital" he said to the cab driver. Luckily we were only a few blocks away. "I just wanna get there, I just wanna get there." I kept saying slightly rocking myself back in forth in my seat. It wasn't so much that I felt so terrible but more so that I knew that something was terribly not right. Mr. U put his arm on my shoulder and squeezed it twice. He kissed me on the side of my face. "You'll be fine. You'll be fine." He tried to comfort me. "I want my mother," was all I could say. (Because I'm a complete fuckin wuss if you must really know). So I called her. And she was on her way.

And then we arrived. GW Emergency Room. And I have to say - they are getting. it. done. over there. I was checked-in, triaged, registered and testing began. And then more testing. And more doctors. Who spent time with me. Who asked me a billion questions. And then more questions. Who noticed things like my single teeny tiny tattoo and even asked when I got that because it could be related. Who asked about my family history (unknown I'm adopted - ugh), my coworkers, my friends. And were nice to me. And reassured me. And made me laugh. And though it was very likely that I had just had a severe allergic reaction which they treated they checked my heart (EKG), my chest (X-ray) and my lungs (blood labs). They even screen everyone for HIV (because DC has the largest percentage in the U.S. I think. Sad. All negative for me though. Good). And then I started to feel better...poked and prodded. Needled and medicated. And don't forget HIV free. I guess that was something...

Meanwhile, Mr. U met my mother in the lobby. How mortifying. How awkward. What a way for them to meet. In the emergency room of a god damn hospital. Because of me. In between tests I came out to the lobby and introduced them. It was weird. "You should go home," I said. He stood up and grabbed his things. "You're in good hands. With family," he agreed. He said goodbye to my mother and then he left. It just felt... weird.

5 hours after my allergic reaction began, I sat partially collapsed in a chair against the emergency room wall facing the opposite wall lined with beds and privacy curtains. I could hear one woman shouting crazily: "They can take my boobs. Just let me keep my feet." A little girl sat next to me, waiting for her mother, I think. She didn't speak English. I looked down at the hospital bracelet on my left wrist and the pricks in my arm from all the blood tests. Then the doctors came back one last time to explain everything and give me instructions before they discharged me to go home.

As I walked through the hallways out to my parents waiting in the lobby, all I could think of was the movies. At 6pm - all I had wanted, was to go to the movies with my boyfriend. Was that too much to ask? But now, at 11pm - all I wanted was to go home, go to sleep, wake up okay in the morning, and still have a boyfriend at all. I don't know why I thought I wouldn't. Maybe it was stress. Maybe it was fatigue. But it had just felt like too much too soon. It was too real. To much drama. To much worry. To much neediness on my part for him to take care of me. All too soon - in our new and fragile relationship.

When I got home I looked at my phone for the first time in hours. There were texts from Mr. U. "Thinking of you. Do you get to go home? Feeling better? I can come visit tomorrow." And so I responded. "Starting to feel better. Sorry that I put you through that. But I guess it was the right thing to do." He wrote immediately back: "Totally right thing to do. I am happy to have been able to be there. Get some rest."

I don't know why this didn't make me feel better about us. Something was wrong. Something was off. We felt derailed. I felt depleted. I climbed into bed uncertain about our future. He'd said all the right things and done all the right things. But things didn't feel right. I couldn't worry about it though. I had to go to sleep. I had to get some rest. It had been a nightmare of a day. And I would just have to see what would happen with us - once upon - another time.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

A Date with a Unicorn Part 20: Valentine's Day

Mr. U had told me in advance that he would be working on Valentine's Day. No surprise there. So I had asked him to make time, any time, to come over on Sunday evening, Vday Eve, to my place, and I would do the rest. And boy did I ever. I did it all.

I made Julia Child's famous Beef Bourguinon, a simple salad and ridiculously sinful chocolate souffles. Yeah that's right, Toddy can cook. I set a beautiful table with the best china and glassware, in the living room, by a blazing fire. I had music playing in the background and lit a million candles. There would be champagne for toasting and red wine thereafter. When Mr. U arrived, it looked as magically perfect and romantic as the actual picture of my handiwork above.

What he didn't know was that when I'd first set that fire (yeah, I'm no caveman), I hadn't opened the flu. I mean I thought I had opened the flu. But I guess the flu was originally open and what I did, was to in fact, close the flu. Holy Bejeesus. Did I mention I was a walking disaster? Oh yeah, I think I have, here. After leaving the living room to check on my food stewing in the kitchen, I returned only to find a room full of smoke. HOLY GOD!!! Why is it so smoky in here?
I called my brother on the phone in Los Angeles. "D!!!" I screamed at him, secretly thanking God that he had picked up his cell. "I don't want to alarm you, but how do you know when the flu is open?" "Um....why?" he asked me. "Because there is smoke everywhere. Is the fire just smoky or is the flu closed?" "Jesus, T. The flu is obviously not open." "Well, what do I dooooooo?" I screeched. "Whatdya do?" he responded incredulously. "You open it." "But its so smoky, thats haaaaaaaaaard," I said back. "Um yeah," he said, that's why you do it first, numbnuts." (I don't know why my brother calls me insults from like the 3rd grade. But yeah he still does. Doodoohead and shitforbrains are sometimes utilized by him too).
So I took a kitchen towel in my hand and headed over to the fireplace. Covered my eyes, burning and stinging from the smoke, grasped the flu chain with another kitchen towel and opened the flu. The smoke started rising up the chimney almost immediately. But shit - this room was still smokey. Shit. Shit. Shit.

By biggest concern with Mr. U finding out how ridiculously incompetent I am, is that reasonable men don't want to marry the kind of woman that will accidentally burn the house down, with his children in it, while he is out of town on business. Nor do they want the kind of wife and mother that will slip and fall and drop her babies on their heads on a regular basis. These are not attractive qualities in a caregiver.

Fortunately, however, the living room has french doors that lead out to a back porch and the fresh air beyond. I opened the french doors, letting the cool air flood in and drafting the smoky catastrophe out. Then I went around the room spraying air freshener like a crazy person, and hoped he wouldn't notice. Crisis averted.

When Mr. U arrived, everything seemed calm and pretty. He came through the front door and wrapped his arms around me. He brought champagne and he gave me this cute little Valentine candy-heart themed barrette. (okay so I wear barrettes, I'm like 5. Get over it). Then, when he saw the table, he was speechless. Later in the evening, all he would say was, "I can't believe you did all this." "I was happy to do it," I told him back. And I was. He would tell me the next day on the actual Valentine's Day in an email "Thanks again for such a wonderful night. I owe you one fantastic date" and then later in the evening when he was still at work and I had been long asleep: "The night drags on but I'm happy thinking of you." These small but heart-felt sentiments would make all the cleaning and cooking and flower arranging and candle lighting - completely worth it.

As it was, we sat in front of our nice china and clinked our champagne glasses. "I'm glad your my Valentine, " I told him. And he told me the same. And then the food was eaten and the wine was drank. And then we sat by the fire for what seemed like an eternity. The same fire that had nearly killed me just hours earlier was now a pleasant and polite companion. Sometimes Mr. U and I talked and sometimes we just sat in silence. We looked at the flames as they danced around jovially with mischievous intent.

"I could sit in front of a fire like this for my whole life," he told me. And in return, in my heart and in my thoughts, though I never said it out loud, I responded: "I could sit in front of a fire like this with you just as long."

Fresh Air Fund-Racers Team

Occasionally I write about something other than my mythical boyfriend, dating mishaps, or my general clumsiness or chronic crankiness. Occasionally I even write about running --the only pastime in my life that actually keeps me sane and out of the loony bin. If you haven't read it, I wrote an old post on Romance AND Running. Check it! You might just like it.

Anywho- As it so happens, I am currently in half-marathon training again and in the cold weather it's kind of torture. Every morning I literally whimper out loud in my bed when the alarm goes off. Sometimes I hit the snooze, sometimes I begrudgingly get up. Yesterday, I got up. I felt creaky and stiff and whiny. But I got up. I got dressed. I got out the door. I felt kind of bad beforehand. And I felt kind of awful during and after. Why did I do it? You do the bad runs for the good runs. The good runs for the great runs. And all the runs for yourself. And hey, sometimes, you even run for the children. Almost as motivating as losing your margarita or beer gut right? I recently received an email in regards to a running event and involved children's charity team and organization. I was asked (no strings attached of course, just out of the goodness of my heart) hoping that I might be able to post something about it on Marathon's Mistress to share with my readers. If running and children and charity sounds like on!

The Fresh Air Fund still has some spots available for runners on their Fresh Air Fund-Racers team for the NYC Half-Marathon this coming March 20th About the Fresh Air Fund: an independent, not-for-profit agency, has provided free summer vacations to more than 1.7 million New York City children from low-income communities since 1877. Nearly 10,000 New York City children enjoy free Fresh Air Fund programs annually. In 2010, close to 5,000 children visited volunteer host families in suburbs and small town communities across 13 states from Virginia to Maine and Canada. 3,000 children also attended five Fresh Air camps on a 2,300-acre site in Fishkill, New York. The Fund’s year-round camping program serves an additional 2,000 young people each year.

They are also in need of host families for this Summer. Host families are volunteers who open their hearts and homes to a child from the city to give them a fresh air experience they never forget.

For more information you can contact:
Sara Wilson of The Fresh Air Fund


Wednesday, February 16, 2011

A Date with a Unicorn Pt 19: Nobody's Perfect

About a week and a half before Valentine's Day, I got a phone call from Mr. U, just as I was headed to bed...

"So, what are your thoughts on Valentine's Day?" he asked me. "Oh, um, I don't know," I replied. "I hadn't really thought of it." Which is true, I hadn't. And this question really caught me off guard. "Because...." he started to talk, then paused. And I knew. This wouldn't be good. "Because, I was thinking....that.... (just spit it out already right!) ....well I want to do something special. Really special. Its just that...Valentine's Day is Monday and I was in this meeting today and my boss implied its gonna be a pretty big day at work. So I was just thinking, we'll do something, we'll definitely do something. But maybe not on the day. Maybe later in the week. Is that okay?"

Is that okay? Was that okay? Hmm. Now based on all of the many, many Valentine's Day posts out there this week, both in favor and against, whether single, or coupled, I am well aware that people have very strong feelings about this day. And I say, to each his or her own. On my part, if you had read my Vday post, which can be found here, you would know that I happen to like Valentine's Day. I like all holidays. I like wearing appropriate color and attire, eating holiday themed baked cookies and breaking up the general doldrums of life with fun and flare and family and friends and on and merry on. But, and there is a but, I could take or leave Valentine's Day - if I had to. However... Mr. U did not know this about me at the time he asked this question. We are a new couple and this was our first Valentine's together. For all he knew it was my favorite day of the year and I was the most romantic, into it person ever and he was crushing my hopes and dreams. For all he knew. So was it a big deal he wanted out of it? Maybe. Not because Valentine's Day is a day to make all men and significant others and singles suffer and because people should have to buy lots of crap and eat lots of crap and be as perfect and over the top as possible just to prove their affections. But, because it was a holiday, any holiday, and for all he knew it meant something to me and he was bailing - because. of. work.

And there's the rub. It's been pretty interesting writing about Mr. U up 'til now as this perfect mythical creature of an eligible man and now boyfriend. I've had my own self at times re-swooning as I chronicled his patience and kindness and planning and sexiness and romantics and biceps and beard and chivalry. So much so - that some of you have started to wonder if he even exists. Or if this relationship has any depth at all. Where are his flaws? His imperfections? Some of you have asked - Don't you argue? Don't you disagree? One reader was "very skeptical of emotions like this," while another wise lady cautiously advised: "normalcy. It's fun to get excited, but almost impossible to meet expectations when you set them so high." Others were on board for the magical ride and described our dates as like out of a fairytale or a movie. Ultimately though, Nobody's that Perfect.

And I'm here to tell you - nobody's that perfect. Not even, Mr. U. It's safe to say then, that the jig is up...

The truth is, he's got a few flaws. His biggest one - he's a workaholic. Day and night. Night and day. Early mornings. Late evenings. And on the weekends. And he loves it. And takes pride in it. He craves that intellectual stimulation and the challenges and just working hard and making things happen. And I can't say I don't like this. As a self-proclaimed workaholic myself I know all about the demands of a corporate law firm and being a young professional in this city - working your way up - being noticed - being a big shot. I know all about wanting to be the best, to make money and that constant ticking inside to go, go, go.

But I can't help but wonder - Is his job really this important and demanding? Is this really what is required of him or is he putting in more time and effort than is truly necessary? Where is the balance? What things might he be disregarding and denying and neglecting every time he chooses work instead? What kind of life would we have together if we ended up together? Because fundamentally, people don't change. Maybe a little. But not really. And you shouldn't go into a relationship thinking that you'll be the difference. Because you probably won't be. So could I live a full and happy life with Mr. U who is also Mr. Workaholic??? Could I also be actively supportive of this lifestyle and make the necessary sacrifices and provide the necessary conveniences to Mr. U so that he can sustain this lifestyle and so that he, too, can have a full and happy life?

I've heard it before. Don't get too far ahead of yourself. Don't over think it. Just relax, breath, have fun. But I disagree with any of those thoughts on this one. We've been dating for months. My feelings are strong. His feelings are strong. I'm 28 years old. If I don't see a future with this man, it's time to cut and run. Really. Before any more time is wasted. I don't want to date, marry and eventually divorce someone because we were fundamentally not a good match, for something I foresaw at the beginning and didn't address. So I'll ask myself again, can I live with a man who is a workaholic?

I imagine the worst. I imagine him missing the birth of our children. Being out of town on anniversaries. Missing soccer games and music recitals. Christmas Eves and long weekends at the beach. Being home too late for dinner. Not helping with homework. Not taking long vacations. Not asking me about my day. And worse - not being with him enough. Seeing him enough. Talking to him enough. Making love to him enough. Will it be enough?

As it is, Mr. U makes plans with me 1-3 times a week. We spend the night together on most of those days, 1-3 times a week. We schedule our dates well in advance and there is usually an exact time and decided upon activity. We do not stray from the schedule. If I weren't Type A myself, I'd tear my hair out - but as it turns out, I'm just as neurotic and this works well for me too. In between our dates, I rarely hear from him. It's radio silence. No phone calls. No texts. No emails. Nothing. When this began to bug me, I came up with the concept of "acknowledging my existence." I told him we didn't need to talk every day or have long conversations but he needed to acknowledge my existence. So he began to acknowledge my existence. One email at a time. 3 words at a time. Like a robot drone. Or provide me with updated information: "Will be hungry." "I'll cab it." "Good luck with another day of lawyering." "Just checking in to see how you're doing!" Or apologizing: "ugh yeah sorry to be short- stuff keeps piling on."

This continued until I told him that when I didn't hear from him for days and then all I got was a four word email saying: "Another dolla dolla day" (yes that really happened) that I had to remind myself, sometimes forcefully and occasionally out loud that yes, this was my boyfriend writing to me, and yes he did in fact actually like me. He said he woudl try to do better but ultimately I know I need to accept that this is just who he is when we aren't physically in front of each other. In person, he can talk all night. About almost anything. Fascinating, interesting, intelligent, romantic things. That I could listen to - for the rest of my life. But when he's in the work zone, doing his thing, not with me - he is working AND NOT with me. And he's not gonna call a lot or text a lot or email a lot. And when he does - it'll be 3 word emails - that are slightly dissatisfying. Again I ask the question - is this enough?

And the answer is YES. Yes, yes, yes, yes and more yes. He may be at work a lot. A lot, a lot. But he makes time for me. More than he probably makes time for anyone else. And he makes sure he's going to see me by thinking of me in advance, plotting time out for me in his schedule, planning fabulous and exciting or simple and relaxing dates each time. And the quality of our time together is extraordinary. We always have a tremendous time together. Laughing, happy, satisfied, sexified, joyous, dancing, singing, friendly, interesting, fascinating, romantic, intelligent, relaxing, delicious, cultural, tremendous times. True - sometimes he's tired and sometimes he's late. But he cares about me. He makes times for me. He always shows up. And he never disappoints. How can I fault him for that?

Nobody's Perfect. Everyone has faults. So which faults can you live with? For me - there are a few faults, quirks, annoyances, less than ideal traits. He tucks in his shirts (sometimes), he is a total dork and not hip with pop culture/entertainment/media/technology/slang at all, he cares a little bit too much about clothes and materialistic things for my taste, he is short with thinning hair, he is friends with all his ex-girlfriends and dozens more girls whom he has strong one-on-one relationships with (which I struggle not to be jealous of), he hates cheese (who doesn't like cheese), he cares a little too much about being in shape (so that I worry when I'm post-pregnancy fat he might be repulsed by me), yet eats a thousand pounds times his weight in food (he is a human garbage disposal and acts like it), he can't carry a tune in a bucket and his dancing is even worse, he is always cold and actually shivers convulsively, he gets carsick and cant read in a vehicle or bus and yes - he is a textbook - WORKAHOLIC. And he acts like one. He ignores me a little and he brings his work home with him. The fatigue. And the stress. It is always on his mind.

If these are my biggest problems - that he works too much, works out too much and hates cheese? Then I know, I know -- I'm one seriously lucky girl. This man is tremendous. Just like our time together. He is an extraordinary individual. Worth learning how to cook without cheese, going to the gym (a little more) and putting up with 3 word robot emails as our only contact in between personal appearances.

Because the flaws, quirks and annoyances are counteracted by the following many, wonderful traits: He is: (1) brilliantly smart (2) fit (3) has a great job and is (4) very financially stable (5) owns his own apartment (6) he's resourceful and handy and fixes his own shit around the house (7) dresses really well (8) decorates his place tastefully (9) is a SUPER NICE guy and has a million friends (9) he's fun (10) generous (11) well-traveled (12) articulate (13) outgoing (14) educated (15) has a nice family that he values (16) He'll make a good husband (17) he'll make a good father and says he wants a family (17) He's great in bed (18) He's patient (19) kind (20) He never raises his voice or says anything mean about anyone. (21) He lets people be themselves and values them for their differences. (22) He is himself (with no excuses). (23) He's not super-religious but more spiritual. (24) Before he turns on any light he says "lights" because he knows I don't like being shocked by bright lights (25) He tells me nice things about me like "You look lovely" and "I like the way your mind works (26) He plans great dates (27) he actually listens to me (28) he sent me flowers on my birthday (29) he is proud to be seen with me and introduces me to all his millions of friends. (30) he opens doors (31) he pays (32) he talks to me about important stuff (33) he's responsible (34) he's clean and neat (35) he knows how to cook a little (36) he sings all out and karaoke even though he knows he sucks at it which is really endearing (37) he has great green eyes (38) and an amazing scruffy beard and on top of all that -he generally treats me like a princess and is a good and decent human being overall.

Who cares about 3 worded workaholic emails when someone has all the rest of it going for them. In truth, he's the total package. If I don't hold on to him, some other girl would snap him up and try to lock that down ASAP. True, he may work long hours his whole life, but he'll be proud and happy with himself in his career, provide for his family and contribute to the community. What more can you ask for?

So if you ask me if this is a real guy I'm describing here or a fictional character from a fairy tale, I'd have to say both. He is real. He is not perfect. But he might just be - my happy ending. I can only hope.

In the meantime, I've made a little progress on the 3 word drone emails. I coached him: "You have to write them like you actually like me." "But I do like you he says. I like you a lot!" Nevertheless, I needed more. And I told him so. So now, here's what I get:
"want to get out of here to be back with you!"
"Looking forward to tonight!"
"been moving 110 mph. very glad I get to stop and see you tonight."
"The night drags on but I'm happy thinking of you."
"you should know that while I am always happy to make an acknowledgment of your existence, I'm thinking about you everyday."
*Swoon*. Has he changed? Maybe a little. But not really. But when a man thinks of you like that, isn't it enough?

So was it okay that Mr. U was too busy working to spend Valentine's Day with me? "Yes," I told him. "It's okay." "Can you swing Sunday night?" I asked him hopefully. "I don't know," he answered. "Well think about it," I said. "If its feasible, great. If it's not, don't worry. But try. You don't have to do anything but show up to my place and I'll do the rest." "Okay," he said.

I mean, he does so much already. Sometimes its my turn to be his unicorn. And so I was. I understood. I was flexible. I did all the planning and all the thoughtfulness and all the romantics and all the work. All he had to do was show up. And he did. And like always, we had a tremendous time.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

I Like Valentine's Day - So Sue Me

So I didn't want to post an update to the Unicorn sagas on Valentine's Day. Apparently, from all the blog posts I read, single people REALLY REALLY hate Valentine's Day. And as it turns out, coupled and married people do too. Being reminded you are alone or the pressure to give something great and do something nice, the cost, threat of cavities from all the candy, not to mention all the pink and the red -- OH THE HORROR!!!!!!

I have to say this all really surprised me. I've always had a Valentine. Whether it be my parents, my classmates (when you're little and every makes their own construction paper, white doily heart mailboxes), my girl friends, my single friends or yes, many times my boyfriends. But regardless of the company I've kept, I've always liked VDay. So what if its a corporate holiday and corporations trying to sell shit? So what else is new? What's wrong with taking the time out to be nice to one another? And eat candy or chocolates? And wear pink? I don't see the problem here. Then again I'm always a sucker for any occasion to eat gluttonous food accompanied by drinking an inappropriate amount of champagne.

I think I'm allowed to say that I don't understand what the big deal is here? I know, I know - I had a Valentine's Day boyfriend this year - a great one - but still - I didn't have a boyfriend for Valentine's Day 2007, 2008 or 2009. 3 years of apparently sad and lonely single VDays at the ages of 24, 25 and 26. Prime mid-twenties dating years. Seriously. So I can say for certain - that I don't understand why VDay makes singles soooooo unsure of themselves and feel oh so bad they're single. I mean I guess you either feel inadequate and depressed about it all the time. Or you don't. But why is Vday any different?

My parents were married on Valentine's Day 35 years ago. In Washington, D.C. Their home and mine. VDay to me was always a celebration of the strong marriage my loving and supportive parents had for with one another and for the love they had for their children within the family that they built out of that marriage. My father still calls my mother "the love of his life." My mother is hopeful that I will find my own "true love." And they both refer to their marriage as "strong as a rock." Thus, Valentine's Day REALLY meant something to them, to me and to us (our family). Ergo, my mom always gave my brother and I treats. One year, my mom gave me a beaded necklace with lettered beads that spelled out my name. Another year we went and got manicures and pedicures. There were always Hallmark cards and bowls of those hard candy hearts. This year, my grandmother sent me a package from California with a red heart shaped card and one of those red heart-shaped box of chocolates. You know the one - the one where all the chocolates suck and you're always disappointed by the strange fillings in each one and thus end up having one bite of each and throwing the rest out. But hey, it's the thought that counts.

I had a Valentine this year. But we wouldn't spend Valentine's Day together. Not exactly. And it didn't matter. (You'll have to read A Date with A Unicorn: Part 19 to get the scoop. B/c that's how I roll...) Ultimately though, I like taking the extra day and the extra time to put in some extra effort to think about those special people in my life and to do something nice for them. But its not a day to make any one feel bad. And its not a day to spend money you don't have or put pressure on someone for not doing enough. To me its a day that reminds me that "true love" exists in the form of my parent's marriage. Which makes me happy for them. And hopeful for myself.

Friday, February 11, 2011

A Date with A Unicorn Part 18: Hiding my Imperfections

When I first started dating Mr. Unicorn, I told him that I was all about clumsiness and candor. First, that for some reason, my entire life, I had been just about the most clumsy, most hazardously-inclined person, I had ever met. I trip over things and bump into walls and table corners. Spill food and drinks. Break glasses and plates. Stumble and Fall. If there is a knob that can fall off a light switch, I've dismantled it. I've knocked crystals off of chandeliers. I've broken more than a few cell phones and even more phone chargers. I get tears in clothes and stains on pants. I've opened a window only to have the glass completely shatter. It's a problem.

I'm sure there is some genetic, scientific, neurological reason for this. Maybe I'm pigeon-toed or have poor spacial awareness or it has something to do with my eye sight perception or my posture and stance. Maybe the left side of my body is 1/4 an inch shorter than the right. But whatever it is, I have functioned in the world without discovering the ultimate source and without any major catastrophes, as of yet. (*Knock on wood*). Mostly, it just makes me feel mortifyingly embarrassed and nervous around nice things and frustrated (when it happens yet again or I ruin a blouse or have to fess up to another person that I've damaged something that belongs to them).

I told Mr. U about all of this. "If we continue dating," I explained, "at some point or another, you will without a doubt have something spilled on one of your shirts. Permanently. And I will feel bad." His only response, without flinching or batting an eye, was this: "I look forward to it."

That simple phrase: "I look forward to it," in reference to one of my most secret flaws (I try to hide this lack of grace at all costs around most people) was one of the many things Mr. U said and did in the beginning that made me think he just might be for real and we might just really work out.

But despite his being forewarned of my defect in this area and his promise to be patient, I still wasn't quite ready to let him see this unfortunate side of myself. So I would attempt, as you will see, to conceal it. For the most part, however, I hadn't had to hide anything as my accident-prone ailings had not surfaced during our time together...Until...this morning. When all hell --broke loose.

First, I knocked down the shower basket (whatever you call that thing that holds all your soaps and shampoos that sticks against the wall with whatever you call those suction pucker things). "Sorry," I said. "It's okay." He said. (I knew this one was okay). (And I had to admit this one, because he was on deck for the bathroom next.) As he hung the device back in its proper place along the tiles, I went to turn the dimmer switch up to provide more light. And then the knob fell off. "Sorrrrryyyyy!" I said "No problem," he said. (He saw this one happen, as he was standing right next to me). And then...

While Mr. U was in the shower, I started to get dressed. And the T-Tornado just kept rolling through...

I spilled a glass of water. All over the bed-side dresser. And down into and on top of all the contents in the open dresser drawer. Major, major - fail. I went into the kitchen and got as many paper towels as I could and came back to sop up the damage. Of course, I couldn't hide this one either. So when Mr. U came out of the shower, I just looked at him with an expression that a puppy might use when it knows its peed inside the house and been bad. "Sorrrrreeeeeeeey," I said. "What now?" he looked at me incredulously. "I spilled some water," I explained, my eyes avoiding contact with his. He walked over to assess the damage. And then I watched him pull out his WALLET and one by one pull ones and fives and tens and twenty and then fifty dollar bills out of his wallet and lay them out individually on top of paper towels on the bed to dry. And then shake out his nice, leather wallet completely soaked. "Sorry." I said again. "I'm so sorry." "It's okay, it's okay," he assured me. Though I couldn't help but wonder if he was actually starting to get annoyed or not. Maybe he felt like he was starting to deal with a small child here with sticky hands and a penchant for running them along the walls leaving fingerprints behind.

And then the unthinkable happened. I went to pick up my duffel bag from the floor to finish packing my things, when I realized, IN HORROR, that a bottle of blue liquid medicine had SPILLED on his perfect Persian rug. HOLY. MOTHER. OF. GOD. (Sorry for those who don't like the Lord's name taken in vain but must be said, even again...) HOLY. MOTHER. OF. GOD!!!!!!!!!!!

This I was not admitting to. I could not. I would not. Panic set in. And then resolve. Resolve to clean up this mother effin mess before he saw it. What to do? How to get him out of this room? !!!!!!!!!!!!!

Lovely man that he is, he will always makes me coffee. And/or breakfast. If I ask. Which I did. After I heard him puttering around the kitchen, safely down the hall and out of sight, I rushed into the bathroom. Soaked a wash cloth in water and set to work in the corner of the bedroom scrubbing and rubbing the rug with abandon. And as if finding Mr. U wasn't enough luck for one person to deserve in a single calendar year, the blue came out. Mostly anyways. But it came out. Enough that he probably wouldn't notice. For awhile. And in the mean time I could try to get at it, with more powerful cleaning substances, at a later date and time. I hoped.

Mr. U, totally unaware of my faux pas and swift remedy, brought me my treats and then we both finished getting ready for work. Then we put on our coats and hats and stepped outside into the Dupont morning. I couldn't get out of that blue-stained rug room fast enough! And then oh how beautiful it was this morning. To be outside and freed from my failings. Blue skied and crisply cold, not bone-chilling cold as it has been. We strolled to work together taking in all of downtown waking up to start the day. And a Fri - day, no less. Everyone and everything seemed to cheerfully be anticipating the weekend. Every car, every pedestrian, ever bar front. All was right and clean and fresh in my world again.

We arrived at my office first. "Have a great day," he chirped at me and leaned over to kiss me. I gave him a big hug and squeezed him. "Ooooooh, thank you for being so good to me," I praised him. "You deserve it," he said back. And I pulled away from him...I saw it. Oh. No. Just - NO. There it was. A lipstick stain. A giant lipstick stain. On his expensive, starched, dress shirt. FML. Just Fuck. My. Life.

A vision of our future lives flashed before my eyes. Living in a shitty house with shitty furnishings. Our friends come over for a dinner party and I've just spilled red wine on the beige couch. "This is why we can't have nice things," he turns and explains to them. "This is why we can't have nice things." Ugh.

I didn't have the heart to tell him. Maybe he'd discover it. Maybe he wouldn't. Probably he would. But I couldn't tell him just then - As he looked back at me with his own puppy dog eyes that seemed to say he'd known he'd been good and deserved a treat (and not another disappointment). And he looked at me the way he often does - like maybe somewhere in his head he's thinking he's the lucky one. But he would be wrong. I am the lucky one. It's me.

I don't need lots of nice things. I only need one nice thing - and that - is him.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Guest Post: Muted Lights, Small City

*Disclaimer: I don't love the way that Andy talks about women all the time. But he assures me this is how things work in: "The Real World." Besides, some male perspective on my undeniably neurotic, female blog is always welcome and I encourage any male writer, philosopher, romantic or despicable pick-up artist to send me whatever material that inspiration might strike. @andywhitedc is a DC resident, author and social media manager. His first guest post depicting yet another bad date and entitled "The Layers" can be found here. Comments are always appreciated and thanks to Andy for guest posting. Also, "plonk" means wine (in case you don't speak Brit). Enjoy.*

By Andy White

Bar Dupont. You've been here before, and you will again, but tonight the ever hopefuls are crammed in shoulder-to-shoulder. The conversation is loud, the lights low, and your pupils widen as they grasp for focus. You scan the room and don't see her, or what her photos have told you to expect. Your pretty good bar karma doesn't let you down and you slip into a table in the corner just as a guy is leaving and wait.

And wait. A text rolls in letting you know she's going to be late and you roll with it. What else could you do? You get a glass of the cheap plonk marked up to $11 and note its tepid consistency at warmed over room temperature as you roll it around with your tongue.

When she finally does surface you're happy. She looks like her photos and she seems to be in shape. You don't know her, and she doesn't know you, but she's not thick around the gills so you're happy. She takes about 15 minutes to look through the menu before asking the waiter for a recommendation. You drive the conversation as she does so and almost immediately it feels like an effort. She smiles - occasionally - and laughs - occasionally - but it's like operating a fork lift truck: lots of heavy lifting and manual labor to-boot. But still, she's there and you're there and her lips sometimes curl upwards at the right times. It's enough.

The music is muted and muddied and you can't make it out but it apparently it's too loud for her. She becomes silent and sullen and remarks that she is not usually like this but the plasma television above her head is on and it's annoying her peripheral. You look up at the TV and back down to her again. The set pulsates its tri-color mix with abandon, yet your eyes fail to feel assailed. You feign sympathy as she tries to send her drink back, the waiter's recommendation having failed to make its mark.

This time the silence lingers. The double-wammy of the medium to soft strains of background jazz and the television on mute sends her into a stunned silence. You let the thread drop and see how long it drags in the mud. After 30 seconds the uncomfortable silence transcends all expectation and you realize there's nothing more to be said. You flinch first and signal for the bill. She gives a half nod, as though conserving all energy and body movement for the 4 block walk home. The bill and its arrival isn't exactly expedient which works in your favor as her mouth opens and words tumble out. You fail to grab them and their import becomes null and void, but yet you wonder what if you had.

Bar Dupont. You've been outside before and you will again, but for now you wait and you smile, for there is nothing else you can do.

The following day you get a text from her thanking you for the date but explaining that she is not ready to date. You smile to yourself, for there is nothing else you can do.

Monday, February 7, 2011

A Date With A Unicorn Pt17: Fate or Coincidence

Friday night I met Mr. U at Darlington House in Dupont to meet some of his oldest friends. At this point, I'm beginning to feel like I'm being paraded in front of every friend Mr. U has ever had. At first, I felt as though I were being tested, but now I can only conclude that he's excited about me and proud of me and simply wants those persons closest to him to know that new part of him that is me and to share in his good fortune. It's a good feeling.

In some ways it feels as though we're the veteran couple even though of the four couples that were there, we had been together the shortest time. One couple bailed early to be alone at home right away, missing out on all the group fun. The others drank themselves silly and clung to their partners. MrU and I stood with his arms around me, calm and unassuming, nodding and smiling, as the others groped and giggled. What quiet happiness was ours. Like a secret.

On Saturday, we lazed around in bed as long as possible. Mr. U who had made us brunch reservations, coaxed me up repeatedly. "You know what would help?" I asked hopefully. "What?" he wondered. "If you would make me some coffee?" I replied greedily....After he left the room, I got up to get ready. He came back in shortly with the coffee. "You dear, dear man," I said as I kissed him on the cheek.

Soon enough, we were plodding through the puddled Dupont streets, making our way to the Tabard Inn. What a lovely gem it is! We ordered hot mulled ciders and took them into the lounge. We sat by the fire and perused the paper. It was deliciously lazy. After an hour or so we had breakfast. Warm muffins and biscuits, country fried steak, brie and shrimp omelet and white wine. We stuffed ourselves with tastiness.

Afterwards, we made our way back to Mr. U's apartment under a shared umbrella as the sky drizzled down around us. We curled up under a blanket snuggling close on a love seat. We read our books off and on between napping and chatting until we fell asleep for an hour or so soundly. We kissed each other sweetly and nonchalantly upon awakening and then it was time for me to go home. I packed my things and Mr. U walked me to the door. We made plans to see each other Thursday and he kissed me goodbye. I went home sleepy and content.

You'd think everything was perfect. But then...later that night, Mr U texted me. And I ignored it. In the morning he emailed and I failed to respond yet again. This was not an unfamiliar feeling. I knew it all too well. The fear of commitment and vulnerability was ever rising in my throat and threatening my new found happiness. I had felt this before and it felt like purposeful emotional numbness. And it meant that I didn't want to talk to him. Because I didn't know what to say. Instead I sat quietly and wrote this - to myself.

When he still hadn't heard from me, he called me later that night. That's the thing about Mr. U- While he doesn't know even close to the depth of my insecurities or fears, somehow he always seems to sense when I need a little extra push in the right direction.

"I just called to say hi," he said cheerfully. "We hadn't talked at all in a day and a half and that seemed...unusual...for us. How are you doing?" After a long talk about how we spent the rest of our weekends and what was coming up for the week ahead, he told me to get some rest and said goodbye.

I already felt better. But was not entirely assuaged. In the morning I got up and went to work and tried to focus but I felt restless all day. I took laps around my office floor and drank an obscene amount of coffee but nothing seemed to help. In the late afternoon, I grabbed my coat and told my coworker, "I. just. need. to. GET. OUT!" She nodded her head in agreement. I put my ear buds in and rode the elevator down into the lobby and then broke free out into the street. I started to walk. I walked and I walked and I walked. I turned the corner and then...

(I don't believe in God most of the time. Or fate. Or at least I don't think I do. But sometimes, things make me wonder.)

I turned the corner and then...I almost smacked dab right into Mr. U! -walking in the opposite direction. We had to pull our arms back away from each other to avoid a collision. "Well, hellooo," he said leaning down to kiss me. "Hi," I said. And there we stood. In the middle of the sidewalk, in the middle of downtown. Standing for what felt to me, like an eternity. With goofy grins, just staring at one another. What was this feeling? Happiness? Joy? A knowing? A recognition of the other.

A passerby maneuvering around us shook us out of our reality. "Where are you going?" he asked. "Oh just taking a walk," I said. "I'm heading back to the office," he said. "I just had a meeting with a client at their firm." "Would you like me to walk you back there?" I asked. "Sure," he said.

And just like that we were walking briskly down the street - together. Mr. U grabbed my hand and squeezed it tight. He asked me something and I was slow to respond. "Sorry," I stammered. "I was just, kinda, in my head just now. It's taking me a moment to snap out of it." "Don't over think it," he said purposefully. "But I always over think it," I exasperated. "I know you do, but don't," he countered.

We got to Mr. U's office. He gave me a few kisses goodbye. "Thanks for the walk," he said. "It was great to see you," I said. And with that, he turned into his building and never looked back.

I walked back to my office and sat down at my desk. Then when I opened my email, I read the following from Mr. U: "Seeing you, made my day." Short and simple and perfect. Just like him.

The whole encounter was just how we are. I see him and there's no one I'd rather see. He lifts my spirits. I'm sure I do the same in return. We could've talked about anything at all or nothing of consequence and the results would be the same. It almost made me feel guilty about writing a post about how unsure of all this I was. And unsure of him. And how hard it was to just try to accept being with him and being happy. Because nothing could be more ridiculous or insane. I see that now.

I read two posts yesterday. One by Maura Me to Love entitled "Lessons of the Weekend" and one by Quarter for Her Thoughts called "Climbing Walls." In Maura's post she discusses a frustrated but honest and resolute determination that the new guy she's been seeing, is simply not for her. At first she can't put her finger on it - he just doesn't have that extra something, that X-factor. There just isn't that thing. "Something is merely missing." In response, her friends and family fear she is "self-sabatoging this potentially great relationship." But then she pinpoints the problem further. "“We don’t have terrible amounts of fun," she acknowledges. "“He doesn’t make me laugh, " she adds. And after sadly concluding that her new man, is not the man, she wisely acknowledges: "When the heart speaks. We should listen." In Climbing Walls, IntriqueMe (Quarter for Her Thoughts' handle), writes a post very similar to my own previously panicked one. She describes a fear of something and someone new and an even greater fear that she might "pass up something great." She also fears falling for the wrong man again and says: "If I were to make another wrong relationship choice, I could lose everything I’ve worked so hard for… and so I have walls up." I understand these walls all too well.

These posts, Mr. U's email and some sound advice from one of my commenter's Tricia: "Take it from me, girl. You've got a good one on your hands. Don't let him go. Instead, let yourself go," made everything all too clear.

Unlike Maura, there is nothing missing. There is no X-factor that Mr. U lacks. We do have terrible amounts of fun together. I think the only way our time together can be described is "tremendous." We always have a tremendous time together. And in contrast to IntriqueMe's fear of another wrong relationship choice, I know, 100,000% that Mr. U is not a wrong choice. I love everything about him. The way he looks, the way he acts, the way he makes me feel, the way we are together. When I see him, in an instant, he calms every fear, every hesitation, every worry. With a hand, with a word, with a look. He makes me want to shout out loud the depth of my affection. Because he is right. We are right. I am this lucky. This is really happening. It's time to just let it happen, and let myself go.

I'm going to let myself go and believe in Unicorns. And I'm going to listen to and trust, in my heart.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Don't Be Your Own Worst Enemy

I am doing everything I can not to run screaming in the other direction. I am doing everything I can not to sabotage this relationship. But its hard to stop myself, from myself.

I'm cranky. I'm moody. I try to pick fights. I twists his words around. I make him reassure me more than necessary. I ignore his emails and his texts for longer than I should before I reply. And I'm pretty sure I do this on purpose.

What the fuck is wrong with me? Why am I doing this? I went for a run today. A long run. In an attempt to work out some inner demons.

The simple answer might be that I'm scared of falling in love again. Or that I am already in love again. There's no doubt I'm scared of getting hurt again. And there's that troublesome business of feeling like some of my necessary parts, essential to being with someone, are broken. What if those pieces needed to accept love and give love are beyond repair? If fixable, then how, and where do I start the process of rebuilding?

I need to save myself from myself. Because happiness doesn't come around that often. And I'm pretty sure it doesn't stick around for the ungrateful.

It's like my heart contains a love letter I've marked "Return to Sender." And I'm desperately trying not to walk to the mailbox and drop it inside. So when I see those big blue containers on the sidewalk I walk to the other side of the street. I take a slightly different route to work to avoid the ones I know are there. I really am making an effort. What's scary, is that I need to in the first place.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Trust Me, He Likes You.

Last night Mr. U made fun of me for something. He was only teasing. Which I see now. But at the time, I took it very personally. I am notorious for being overly sensitive. "You must know I'm kidding right?" he insisted. "Well, I can't tell yet. We're still getting to know each other," I whined.

"Dear lord, T!" he said. "Don't you have any concept of how much I like you? If I tease you or play with you or make fun of you its obviously in jest. There are a whole pile of things I like about you. What do you want me to do go through the pile with you?"To which I replied: "Yes." So he did... He went through a very, very long list, one-by-one. Several piles of things he likes about me. Definitely flattering. Definitely reassuring. But did I need reassuring? Or was I just being insecure? Or was I just fishing for compliments?

The only problem that remained after I listened to him spout out all the wonderful things about me he liked was that apparently, it was my turn. "So...what do you like about me?" he asked.


How do you answer that when there are so many answers. I like who he is. I like the way he acts and things he's done. I like the many ways he makes me feel. On the one hand, there are things I can list. EX: (1) bad at karaoke but enjoys it and looks cute doing it (2) generous (3) tells me I'm pretty (4) physically fit (5) interested in learning about and experiencing new things (6) makes me feel safe (7) feels like being with an old friend (8) good relationship with his family (9) sexy (10) smart (11) a good listener (12) calls me on my bull shit (13) we could talk about anything (14) both avid readers (15) both well-traveled and want to travel more (16) the beard (17) political (18) can cook some (19) does crosswords in bed with me b/c I love them even though I think he could care less (20) I like that he's from DC like me and a DC snob like me (21) I like that he's always cold (22) good dresser (23) cares about his religious heritage but not that religious etc. etc. etc.

On the other hand, some of this stuff is just ineffable. Can't be explained. Can't be described. I just know we are a good fit. It feels right. It has been effortless to be together even when its not. E.g. we don't "fight," we discuss things. E.g. We are both workaholics in the same way and understand that about each other and give each other lots of space. (Not everyone could handle that.) There are so many things. But at the end of the day...

I just like him. He likes me. We keep choosing to spend time together and having fun together. So we keep choosing to spend time together. This is not rocket science people.

So why, why, why do I need a list of reasons? Why when he asked me out in the first place or when he had already asked me out on our second date did I stress and worry: "Does he like me? Does he like me?" Why after he asked me to be his girlfriend did I stress and worry: "Is he gonna change his mind? Does he like me?" Why, why, why when I don't hear from him all day because he's been in meetings do I think: "Does he like me, does he like me?" Only to receive an email hours after I'm convinced I'm a goner that states: "Been going 110mph, but can't wait to stop and see you later."

Washingtina gave me some really good advice during one of my freak outs. "He likes you," she assured me. "Guys don't do things they don't want to do. If he's spending time with you," he likes you.

HOLY SHIT!!!!! REALLY????????? ZOMG!!! I NEVER KNEW!!!! all of my ladies, who like myself, happen to visit crazy town from time to time, here's a tip:

He asks you on a date - he likes you.
He asks you on a second date - he likes you.
He kisses you - he likes you.
He holds your hand - he likes you.
He pays - he likes you.
He asks you on a third date - he likes you.
He asks you on a fourth date - he likes you.
He asks you on a fifth date - he likes you a lot.
He asks you out in advance for said dates - he likes you.
He plans nice dates - he likes you.
He emails you - he likes you.
He calls you - he likes you.
He texts you - he likes you.
He sleeps with you - he likes you (well at least something about you, probably).
He continues to sleep with you - he likes you (at least something about you, definitely).
He makes you breakfast or cooks for you anytime - he likes you.
He sends/gives you flowers - he likes you.
He buys you a gift - he likes you.
He wants to meet your friends - he likes you.
He remembers how you like your coffee - he likes you.
He gives you compliments - he likes you.
He lets you have the last of the egg salad (or other food/drink in the house) - he likes you.
He introduces you to his friends - he likes you a lot.
He gives you a drawer - he likes you a lot.
He listens to you blab about girly shit- he likes you a lot.
He takes care of you when you are sick - he likes you.
He goes shopping with you - he likes you a lot.
He thinks you look good in the morning when you've just woken up - he likes you a lot.
He forgives you when you're cranky in the am before you've had your coffee - he likes you a lot.
He asks you to be his girlfriend - he likes you a lot. (like piles of stuff a lot a lot).
He introduces you to his parents - he may love you.
He wants to meet your parents - he probably loves you.
He asks you to move in with him - he loves you.
He asks you to marry him - he believes he will love you forever and loves you unconditionally.

Am I missing anything? Whatever it is...


Thursday, February 3, 2011


I feel as though the seemingly countless number of posts amongst the female dating blogosphere has given the one-horned mythical creature that is the eligible man, aka "a unicorn," the kind of notoriety akin to the headlines in tabloids claiming bat children or a man that birthed a baby. THE YEAR OF THE UNICORNS. UNICORNS FOR EVERY SINGLE LADY. ITS RAINING UNICORN MEN FROM THE SKY. Insert mass hysteria here and women running into the streets clicking their heels and ripping their bodices, chomping at the bit to bridle one for their very own. *Calm yourself ladies.*

Before anybody else gets crazy, we must ask ourselves rationally and calmly: What is a unicorn exactly? Do they or don't they exist? (After all, that is the million dollar question.) And where did all this unicorn business come from anyhow?

The Origin of the Unicorn
My personal awareness of the unicorn began from a sighting on a popular post by Hilarity in Shoes on October 25th 2010 entitled: Six Different Types of 35-Year old Men in which she described (1) the workaholic narcissistic party guy, (2) the unavailable married cheat, (3) the emotionally depressed and defeated half-man of a man wet rag with baggage, (4) the class clown no-manners jerk (5) the man-boy with the ever popular peter pan complex and yes ladies....(6) The unicorn.

Hilarity defined a Unicorn as the following:
"The Unicorn is totally normal and well-adjusted. He has a good job, and makes a decent living, but is not a workaholic. He likes his family, but doesn’t live with them. He is funny, and well-informed, and cooks a mean pasta bolognese. He has friends from all periods of his life with whom he is still in touch. He is not an alcoholic, drug abuser, or porn addict. He reads. He is easy on the eyes, or even hot. He is taller than you. The Unicorn longs wistfully to meet his special someone, to lay his head in your lap to watch HBO on Sunday night after a weekend full of chores and friends and family, and to wake up with you on Monday mornings in perpetuity.The most important thing to know about The Unicorn is that, as his name implies, he does not exist."

I read this post hopeful and naive that maybe some such fairy tale did in fact exist. But then October came and went. As did November and then December. Without one, single unicorn sighting to report. And so I forgot about this magical, mythical creature having ultimately decided, in agreement, that he did not in fact exist. After all, it had been a bad couple of months of dating.

Though I never wrote about it on this blog, (the blog came later), 2010 started as awfully as it would continue in the men's department. Having just moved back to Washington D.C. I quickly met a barrage of suitors who I made out with in bars and lightly fooled around with back at their lairs. But there was no spark. There was no respect. There was no romance. When I finally did find someone potentially special (he was oober tall and athletic, he owned proper dress shoes, had an interesting job, spoke Spanish fluently and genuinely seemed to be sweet and polite) I made him wait a considerable amount of time before I gave up all the goods, only to find that he had a terrible and unpredictable case of ED. As if a man part that doesn't do it's part weren't bad enough, this man didn't take any responsibility for his man part's missing part and while I'm sure this scenario is humiliating for any guy and hard to talk about and miserable, he instead used his situation as an opportunity to belittle me and my ability to please him, making me possibly irreparably bat shit crazy in my head and self-conscious in the bed, scared to sleep with anyone else, certain I was a failure as a woman and riddled with a chronic case of performance anxiety.

Having wasted much of January through April with that asshole, I turned to browner pastures. Guy friends who didn't actually want to be my friend but just wanted to fuck me when I was drunk and vulnerable. A guy totally beneath me in class and substance that rejected me but I kept chasing because at this point I was desperate to find anything male that moved to comfort me. And then the 24 year old triathlete, while totally ripped and ready to go, had such inexperience and timidity to match my newly acquired low-self-confidence that we did not a match in sexual heaven make. Here, I would take a short testosterone hiatus just long enough to regroup and regain my bearings.

While I began in early August with determination, patience and faith, actually believing I would be successful in my search for true love or as I called the alternative Prince "Not-a-Fuck-Face"
if "Prince Charming" was a similarly made-up character, not three days after I set out on my quest, than E-harmony REJECTED me from their online dating services, dubbing me, moi, this girl, essential undateable. It was a bit traumatic to say the least. How could I find Prince Not a Fuck Face if I was undateable? Was this a completely lost cause? Meaning, was I a completely lost cause? In late August, things just got worse when not one, not two, but six men treated me in a most offensive fashion by trying to trick me into sex, lashing out at me for not sleeping with them, drunk dialing me for sex, and oh yeah, just standing me up completely (because apparently even the attempt to coerce me for sex wasn't enticing enough to get out of bed for brunch).

In September, I didn't write about dating as there were no men and no dates for which to write home about. A veritable dry spell.

In October things picked up again. Before they crashed and burned. First, I found a genuinely nice, interesting, cute guy for which to lay my affections, but after spending an entire day flirting and falling all over me and getting rides from me all over town, he finally fessed up that he had a girlfriend. Who he lived with. For the past two years....Fucking Fuck Face! Fuck. Then there was the Bearded Wackadoo who stalks me when I'm out at bars and gets extremely drunk and refuses to believe that we aren't actually meant for each other and wants to have conversations at 1 in the morning as to why I won't date him since we are clearly soul mates. While I was deflecting some of his advances, another guy asked me for my number. A guy who seemed normal until he insisted that we had to have our first date watching football at his house because he refused "paying overprice for food and beer at a bar" and insisted we [could] go to my place or his.” When I told him that I didn't really feel comfortable with that, since I didn't know him well he egged me on: “Come on,” he said. “It’s not like I’m a serial killer. You’ll be fine. Come to my place.” Creepy creeperton.

After all this, who could blame me when I threw my hands in the air, the dream of the unicorn having died inside me forever and I swore that I was "Over Men Again," and not likely to be under them again any time soon.

But did I learn my lesson? oh no. Toddy never learns her lesson. Must be the brain damage from all the bourbon that does her in.

In December, I briefly considered meeting up with my longtime friend-with-benefits, Jersey Boy, for some satisfying but wholly unsatisfying relations with a man who will never be mine nor should he be, and spent the tiniest of tiny seconds of second-guessing a decision NOT to have a fling with a completely immature 22 year old international intern, leaving the country in four months when I wrote about Giving the Geeky Brit a Chance.

But alas, 2010 was to be a complete and utter romantic, dating, sexual disaster. Of epic proportions. There were no unicorns. They did not exist. There was no Prince Charming. Not even a Not a Fuck Face to keep my hope alive. I was defeated. I was downtrodden. I was done.

And yet, as unbelievable as it may sound, something or someone or someones would revive the search for the Holy Unicorn Grail yet again. The social media darlings, perpetual ladies in waiting, would arrive on the scene with new found courage, advice and renewed devotion to the cause.

To be continued...