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Did You Have A Good Trip?

Saturday Night I fell on my face in front of about 100 people who were ALL watching me.

No, that isn’t a metaphor.

Falling on my face ACTUALLY actually happened.  If I was going to slaughter the English language more than I already do, I’d emphasize this with “it LITERALLY ACTUALLY happened.”

Saturday morning I received news that a friend, who was far far far far FAR too young, passed away after an epic battle with brain cancer (PS – To anyone who wants to make a statement about how much cancer effing SUCK please check out never quit., an online store full of merchandise bearing the legacy that he leaves behind. All proceeds go to the Relay for Life of Greater Portland (and American Cancer Society))  Needless to say, being around people and trying to laugh and enjoy life was going to be pretty much going to be imperative.

“Fortunately” for me I was already heading out to the Portland Improv Festival since I had helped out with their PR.  I even had made arrangements for a date.  I was doing anything and everything to take my mind off things for the night.

Fast-forward to 6:45 PM, date cancels, drop mascara wand on shirt so I need to put on another, laying on the couch being miserable but still trying to push through cause darnit I made a commitment and I like to stick by those things.  I mean I’m not really big on relationship commitment, but being good on my word is a totally different thing.

I managed to pull myself vaguely together and wander down to the St. Lawrence Arts Center, arriving at about 7:50 for an 8 PM start.  By myself.  But ready for good laughs.  The first group was hilarious, the second grou amusing, and the third group (Running With Scissors) held a dear spot, cause my friend is in the troupe.  And when they scanned the audience after a 3rd request for a female volunteer, I figured “What the hell do I have to lose?”

I stood up, climbed over the 3 people seated immediately to my right (those rows at St. Lawrence are NOT designed for movement during the show.  And walked down the stairs to the stage.  What happened in the next 2-5 seconds I cannot recall exactly cause I have NO idea how I could be this un-coordinated.  I’m usually pretty clumsy, but this was at an excelling nature.

I went to step up onto the one foot high stage and somehow tripped and laid myself flat on the stage edge.

Don't Judge! You've Done It Too...
Photo Credit: Getty Images – MIXA

Now I’ll grant you.  This was a Comedy Festival.  And there was beer and wine served at the concession stands.  So people were free with the laughter.  And let me tell you…as I lay splayed for what couldn’t have been more than 3-5 more seconds many thoughts went flowing through my head.

  • Did I seriously just do that?
  • How the hell did I seriously just do that?
  • I bet my butt is sticking either straight up in the air or in some guys face.
  • Oh god, three Twitter folks I know are sitting RIGHT in the front row.
  • Seriously…where is my butt pointing?
  • I’m going to have to get up, there’s someone coming to help me.
  • Ow, my knee really hurts.
  • This is totally going to suck in stories of posterity.
  • Speaking of posteriors…WHERE IS MY BUTT?!?!

Before I knew it I was up and sitting in a chair telling the Improv performer, who was trying to “interview” me without continuing to laugh hysterically as she, I’m sure, replayed the scene over and over in her head America’s Funniest Home Video style.

Back to the safety of my seat (yes, I craftfully navigated the “exit” from the stage) I watched as the improv scene unfolded.  Where Rachel acted out what *I* would be like on a date, based on our little interview.  Needless to say, she fell multiple MULTIPLE times.

And I was faced with options.  Option to sit awkwardly and pout.  Option to seethe.  Option to hide my face in complete and utter embarrassment and shame.  Option to leave to said bar and stock up on Allagash microbrews.

Or the option to sit there, watch the scene unfold (PS Rach – it isn’t fair when you bring our outside improv experiences in with lots of beer bottles…that was just that one time!) and laugh full heartedly at everything that was happening on stage.

I chose that last option.  It helps that grace has never been one of my top five shining characteristics, so scenes like that, though infrequent, are not foreign to me.  Granted, this one was on a slightly larger scale!

The funny (pun only kinda sorta a little bit intended) is that when stuff happens that shakes you or hurts you or puts you down (physically…puts you down on your butt…) then the best thing to do it laugh along with everyone else and take the good-natured teasing in stride.

Pride and ego are things that easily bruise.  So don’t let the events of the day leave a mark.

Course the edge of the stage at the St. Lawrence Arts Center sure does!!

Merely A Flesh Wound

Got some stories of public shame?  How did you find a silver lining, or laugh them off?  Or do they still haunt you to this day?

Limerance & Licorice

Ever daydream about the person you like or are dating?

You know, those moments when your fantasy somehow goes spinning off beyond the rational reason you know you should employ and totally out of your control.  When you see a celebrity on TV and your mind somehow flashes to the two of you walking on the red carpet.  Or you have visions of your crush leaning across the table at a coffee shop for your first kiss.  Or you make-up an entire wedding in your head after your third date with a boy you are convinced will be “the one” even though that absolutely crazy.

Limerance is a term that was ocined in the 1970’s by a social scientist named Dorothy Tennov.  According to Wikipedia, “Limerence is an involuntary cognitive and emotional state of intense romantic desire for another person.”  It is more than just a simple one-time dream about someone you are attracted to.  It’s a complete can’t eat, can’t sleep, can’t think of anything else infatuation that sometimes overwhelms your entire sense of being.  And it’s a true medically defined (from the McGraw-Hill Concise Dictionary of Modern Medicine) affliction.  Just like love is something you have to detox from, it is something you can become addicted to as well.

Limerance reminds me a lot of licorice.  It’s got that sweet and interesting flavor that pulls you in, but there’s something else there.  An aftertaste that you aren’t quite sure about.

Sweet and interesting but with an after-taste
Photo Credit: Getty Images – Robert Kohlhuber

It’s more than just liking or even loving someone.  The most prominent difference is that with limerance you are oblivious to often glaring truths.  Things like the object of your affection might be married.  Or might be obviously not interested in you.  Or might like you but “not as much” as you like them.  It’s when you step over that line of affection and develop an attachment instead.

If it manifests to permanence it is generally because you have fallen in
love.  Ideal situation is that the object of your Limerent Affection
loves you back.  Regardless, loving affection happens when you would put their feelings and
wishes ahead of your own.

And like licorice, it tastes sweet and syrupy when you are devouring the twisted strands.  As you peruse online sites for engagement rings and create a wishlist so your future spouse will know exactly what to buy you.  As you drive down the turnpike past his exit and spend the next hour consumed in fantastical thought of the moment when you will finally stop being friends and start being more.  As you look over her Facebook page for some small inkling of what is happening in her life, closing your eyes and wishing as the clock turns 11:11 that fate will intervene and bring you two together again.

But that’s the rub with limerance.  It is most often short-lived and temporary.  You have the thoughts in your mind and the stirrings in your heart (and sometimes regions of your body a bit south of there) but nothing real to hold at the end of the day.  Limerance seems to break your heart more than a broken heart does, because you never have the good memories to look back on.  Instead you only have your dreams.

And reality hits you with a bitter aftertaste.

And you are walking through Monument Square staring at the street vendors when the object of your dreams walks past you.  And looks you in the face.  And doesn’t smile or nod or say anything.  Instead their head goes down, they stare at the brick sidewalk and sprint-walk past you.

Like a punch in the gut.  Like a spear to the heart.

Like the black lingerings of licorice, stuck to your lips and impossible to wipe away.

Only time and a bead-filled face scrub can wash it off.

Have you experienced Limerance in your dating dealings?  Did you taste the sweetness and make it through or end up with a bitter aftertaste and licorice teeth?

Playing House

There are times when a single person is forgotten and left by the curb.

There’s the dinners out with all the couples that they eventually forget to invite you to.  There’s the Sunday brunches around the kitchen table while you are scraping the remnants of last nights mascara out from under your eyes under the harsh flourescents of your bathroom mirror lights.  Then it’s the camping trip away for the weekend in their two-by-two pup tents while you shiver in a sleeping bag without someone’s warm body to suck heat out of snuggle with.

You know you are done when everyone in your group is sharing jokes and canoodling at concerts and being like the animals on the Ark and pairing up and setting off and leaving you on the dock.

Alone.

But possibly one of the worst abandonments of a single person is when a couple becomes a triple.  Yep, the moment that a third little person enters their lives, a single friends friendship is tested, and rarely does it make it through.

When two become three...what does that mean for me?
Photo Credit: Getty Images – Purestock

Now the important thing to realize is now that your friends have this huge adjustment to their lives and are completely pre-occupied in the world of the new baby, they have infinitely more important stuff on their minds.  You’ve gotta realize that they have far surpassed single shenanigans and even cute coupley crap.

But the most important thing is that you’ve got to remember that even though you might feel like you are six steps behind the learning curve on this whole “growing up thing” you are still worthy of their friendship and attention and inclusion.

I’ve gone down both paths with friends who had kids.  The path where all we do is hang out at their house watching bad TV dramas.  The path where you listen ad infinitum to their stories of poop diapers while you silently go to your happy place that somehow involves everything BUT bodily function.  The path where you relish in the time with your old friend, but not only is it not the same but it’s like you’ve become a dead branch on the tree that used to be their friendships.

Don’t get me wrong.  Being 30 and single I’ve gone through this transition more times than I can count on all my fingers and toes a few times over.  And I completely understand COMPLETELY UNDERSTAND that life has changed and you’ve gotta change with it.  But I’m still not sure how it came to be that the single population has to “give” 100% and the parenting world just wait for them to come.  They aren’t building a Field of Dreams, they’re just having kids, right?

Last I checked, somewhere deep inside, there still is that person that USED to be your friend.

But fortunately I’m also blessed to have friends who have lives that turned COMPLETELY UPSIDE DOWN when they had kids, and still managed to find time to fit me in somewhere amongst the rubble.  Like the couple that piled their baby into their Jeep stroller (PS – Best thing EVER to carry around all your junk!) and spent the day wandering around a town fair eating fried dough and french friends and watching firehose competitions.  It probably helps that their kid is so frickin’ cute I *might* just steal him away to Canada one of these days.

And then there’s my friend who is five years younger than me and still light years ahead.  She told me the night of her 24th birthday “I feel like this is going to be a big year for me.”  Sure enough, over the course of the next 12 months she met a boy, fell in love, moved in, got married, got pregnant, had a baby, moved to Washington D.C. and got a VISA to follow her military husband overseas with their new family.  When she came up for a week to visit earlier this month she adamently wanted to do something that would involve her son but still give us time to catch up, since we only see each other once (maybe twice) a year.

Insert Greenlight Studio, the coolest place for parents to meet up with other parents (or even their single kid-tolerant friends!)  An indoor playplace with approximately 1 bajillion things for kids to do (it’s true, I counted) and more importantly a full coffee/smoothie/gelato/organic yummies bar with tables and couches and adult space to chat and catch up while your kids play house or color or dress-up or drive a Pirate ship.

I figure karma will probably catch up to me, and eventually when I have kids I’ll be eighty times worse than my worst of parent friend offenders.  Also, please be prepared for the fact that my kids will probably kick strangers in stores.  I don’t think I have a corner market on parenting, I’m fully aware of the terrors and challenges and complete unknowns in store.

But I also implore you coupling and tripling up folks to just remember us little single people.  Once upon a time you liked hanging out with us.  And we thought you were pretty swell, too.

Let’s not forget that?  Ok?  And I promise, I’ll try to restrain myself from stealing your kid away to Canada.

Do you have friends who’ve made the leap and now are bringing up baby?  How do you cope?  Any good activities or compromises you’ve found?

Dreams In Color and Dreams In Red

Sometimes not even mainlining Tootsie Rolls into the Universe’s arm will not get you what you want.

What, you didn’t know that?  I learned about it from my brilliant writing colleague in Pennsylvania, Susan Pogorzelski.  Yeah, the Universe is TOTALLY a weak link that will take bribes in the form of Tootsie Rolls to do your bidding.

Well, you’ll somehow think you are going to get what you want.  The Universe is a crafty bastard that way.  And generally, it knows better.  Much as I hate to admit it.

I’ve never been one of those “everything happens for reason” or “it all works out the way it’s supposed to in the end.”  Those are all silly things we tell ourselves when things go horribly awry and we try to wrap our feeble simple minds around it.  It saves us from the pain that will follow when we finally have to admit what we have lost or given up.

And it’s another piece of advice that people offer because they have no idea what else to say.

I am, however, a believer in signs.  More appropriately those things we think are signs, but are actually just our minds’ way of telling us exactly what we already know to be true.  Like horoscopes, the signs are vague and apply to many because each sign has something to tell us.

One sign, for me, has let me know whether or not I’m making a good decision ending what could be a great relationship.

It's about hearing the signs even when you don't want to
Photo Credit: Getty Images – John Howard

It started in college for me, after a boy told me we couldn’t hang out anymore by playing 98 Degrees song “The Hardest Thing.”  To this day I hate that song.  I mean, really?!  I got dumped via 1990’s boy band?!  But I sure got even with him by drinking copious amounts of some syrupy berry-flavored brandy and wandering around the quad unaccompanied at 2 AM.

Songs just started holding onto memories for me.

I’ve loved Pearl Jam from the moment I first heard them.  Truly, how can anyone not love Eddie Vedder’s raspy yet somehow silken voice belting out lyrics over guitar riffs that would make Hendrix gush?!  So while I was sitting in my dorm room telling Lee over First Class chat that I no longer thought we should be dating, it didn’t really really have any effect to hear Better Man lilting from my WinAmp player.

Years later it has never failed me.  Mostly in my car, listening to the radio, contemplating whether I want to call/text/email/visit.  Off of varied radio stations.  Which is amazing since the song came out in 1994.

After a date to Gritty’s last summer.  This April driving to a meeting in Connecticut.  After my Bluegrass boy and on my way home from the Audobon trails dating the first boy I dated after moving back to Portland.

And last night, driving home from Hannaford’s.  And before that coming home from a business mixer at The Porthole.  And before that returning over the Veteran’s Bridge of I295 after a night of playing games and laughing and happiness in Old Orchard Beach.

No matter how many Tootsie Rolls I’ve thrown at the Universe, it’s been throwing it’s own bribes at me.  Drilling me with the answer to what I’ve secretly known all along.

That sometimes, we lie and tell ourselves that we need to be with them.  That we can’t find a Better Man.  Which is sometimes true.

But more often than not, we probably already knew that.

What signs tend to show up in your dating life?  Do you listen or mainline your own Tootsie Rolls out to the Universe?

Survey Says…

Have Him At Hello – Confessions from 1,000 guys about what makes them fall in love…or never call back.

Yeah, how could I NOT go see a dating expert who wrote a research-based “relationship / dating advice” book with that title?  When Shannon emailed and asked if I would like to join her, I gleefully replied that I had already bought a ticket.

After pre-event drinks (hey, we girls gotta build up our courage!) at an old haunt, we headed over with my adorable bubbly blonde friend (who is available, if anyone is interested…) to see what the hype was about.  Rachel Greenwald absolutely did not disappoint, from our first meeting in her vibrant green sheath and sassy glasses through her presentation of tips and tricks and 7 Steps learned from her time at Harvard Business School to our brief discussion afterwards.

Sure, some of her advice is stuff I won’t be implementing.  Such as, during Step #1 (The Singles Cleanse) she has been known to shatter women’s coffee pots because we should be going out for coffee and to meet people, not sitting at home watching TV and sipping coffee while petting the first of our 26 spinster cats.  Besides my bleeding heart dirty hippie tendencies which cling to reusing cups (I know, I can bring them to the shop) there’s my financial brain that says “Seriously?! $2.10 for a cup of coffee?!  Daily?!”  That and the fact that, while I do respect and adore your ideas Rachel, I might seriously cut a b*&ch if she were to deprive me of quick access to coffee.  🙂

Don’t worry my dear readers, over the next few months I will be dilligently trying out the advice Rachel bestowed on us at One Longfellow Square last Thursday night. And writing how it turns out.  So that we can all learn together as one big confused singles family.

I decided to start where Rachel started in writing her book.  And that’s with research.  Rachel conducted her research via exit interviews with men who stopped seeing her clients.  Since I could only think of one guy in my recent dating past who stopped dating me (well, I think we stopped dating…he stopped talking and emailing and texting and seeing me and that seemed to send a pretty strong message) I decided to conduct my own dating research.

Using Rachel’s suggested script and questions, I asked 100 friends and acquaintances to fill out an anonymous online survey about my dating behaviors, personality and “dateableness.”

As soon as that survey was out I was living in a sort of quiet terror waiting to see what they would say.  With questions like “What qualities could Elisa most improve upon” and “What do you think is the main reason guys do not pursue relationships with her” and knowing the loving bluntness of my friends, I was anticipating the worst.  Sure there were a few questions about my good qualities, and what people like about me.  Those answers seem to give a heart hope for the harsh realities to come:

Accentuate the positive

This, along with average score of 8.21 on a scale of 1 to 10 of “dateableness” set me up for the down and dirty.  The stuff I could “improve on”

Eliminate the negative

and speculation on the main reason for my chronic singleness (other than, you know, my commitment-phobic terror of relationships for the past 10 years)

  • Too Smart
  • Too Intimidating
  • Not open/relaxed enough around guys she likes
  • Too Independent/Doesn’t “Need” Someone
  • Lack of available guys
  • One of the guys/always the friend
  • Comes on too strong
  • Too single
  • Thinks she’s not worthy

 

Now I know.  You are looking at all this thinking “What the hell is this girl doing, justifying her personality and behavior and worthiness based on the opinions of her friends.”  In fact many of the pieces of advice I received in the question “If you were her straight-talking best friend having a heart-to-heart, what one piece of advice would you give her for future dates” had shades of being myself and not changing based on what others think.

While I’ll admit, I had grand visions and ideas of somehow getting a cheat sheet to Elisa from this survey, I learned something much different.  The first being I’m not going to change the foundation “qualities” that make me “me.”   On the flip side, I really never had any intention of doing that.  Haven’t for 30 years, probably shouldn’t start now.  The second being that though I don’t want to change myself, there are probably some behaviors/mannerisms/quirks that I should look at cause I’m giving off some vibes that I don’t really like.  Seeing people write that I’m sometimes “kinda frumpy” or can seem “bitchy and a bit snobbish” gave me pause to wonder what I’m doing that gives off that impression.

Most importantly, in evaluating my survey, I’m learning about myself (the good and the bad) and that I probably need to be more aware.  Definitely not so that I can “change me” so that “some boy” will “just like me” but instead putting enough effort into it that I bring myself to finally meet someone at least halfway.

Maybe that’s why Rachel smashes the coffee pot.  Not because she never wants you snuggled up in your jammies sipping a delicious homemade latte while pouring over the Maine Sunday Telegram –  but because dating is a process that, for most, is much more mind over matter.

And sometimes you’ve just got to think about putting yourself out there instead of hiding where it’s safe.

What would your friends/acquaintances say if you surveyed them about your dating behaviors?  Or (even scarier but more truthful) what would your exes say?