Bump and Contact

In all this dating self-inquiry that I have been doing for the better part of a year, I usually give myself the..benefit of the doubt, shall we say?

I am too inexperienced to be a flirt, too modest to possibly make the move, and certainly I am incapable of ever making a calculated move when it comes to romance and dating.  I’m just not that girl, and I never have been.

I am always affected by what happens around me.  I sort of have this tendency to look at my life from an outside perspective and see all these events that happen as being thrust on me rather than something that could be avoided or that I could possibly initiate.  Flirtation, the constant running in and out of my life.  These are things that happen to me.  Including the Bump and Contact.

Bump.  And contact.  Bump and contact.  B&C.  I didn’t know what to call it until I sat down and put my fingers on the keyboard.  It’s a phrase I’m using to describe something that I just moments ago realized has had an impact on almost every relationship—romantic relationship—that I can recall.  It’s a classic pattern that precedes The Boyfriend and comes thereafter as well.  I don’t know where I picked it up, really, I just know that most men I’ve been romantically linked to or interested in have followed a great pattern that has been terribly helpful in that I can expect what is to come.  After a period of non-communication, I happen (in all honesty it’s almost never intentional!)  to see them somewhere (BUMP!) and then there is casual contact…historically it’s been via email, though the modern era of communication has led itself to text messaging.  And thus begins the steady interaction again.

The first time I remember this happening was with someone I’ll simply refer to as The First One.  In junior high and (very early) high school, before there was The Boyfriend, there was…The First One.  He absolutely wasn’t my boyfriend, but he was someone I really cared for.  Someone who was first in a lot of ways.  Of course, there were periods we’d spend mad at one another..and we wouldn’t talk…and of course I’d angst away in my room before I really even knew was angst was.  But then, somehow, on a field trip or at the mall (I specifically remember once at the mall a bump-and-contact went off almost flawlessly) we’d see one another, and sometimes we’d speak, other times we would just make eye contact (you know..Eye Contact.) and then within 12 hours there would be an email. And we’d be on again. The pattern continued for a long time.  Once, after I went off to college, I got word that The First One was expecting a child with his then-girlfriend-now-wife.  That was weird, I guess, given the fact that he had spent endless evenings AIMing and emailing me about coming to college in the spring; I stopped contacting him or responding to his contact in September. In December, I was home Christmas shopping and distinctly remember loading packages into the car on a snowy afternoon.  A truck pulled up next to me, honked the horn, and there was The First One waiving.  Soon after, an email of “It was so funny running in to you today!” And there was the contact.  Over and over the pattern repeated.  In fact, I’m embarrassed to say that I was B&C’d by The First One on Thanksgiving last year. Facebook has really revolutionized the B&C…  but the contact of this B&C didn’t go on very long.

The Bump and Contact game has gone on ever since that initial pattern was established with The First One. The Friend and I, of course, had a little game of Bump and Contact that had begun to develop around the first of this year, but the bumps are less frequent, and the contact portion just doesn’t work without that initial bump. The Boyfriend and I have B&C’d this year (more on that later), though the very last bump did NOT result in a contact (or a blog post!).

The contact portion of a Bump and Contact is so lame, really.  It almost exclusively follows a similar pattern.  You have the bump, you make it back to ‘home base’, be it the office or your house..you give it a little while, maybe a few hours, a day tops.  And then you write the email or text.  And they all  say the same things.  “It was great running in to you” or my personal favorite “Sorry I didn’t get a chance to speak with you…” That’s for the Eye Contact encounters.  I used to get such satisfaction in getting the contact portion of the B&C, I almost felt smug about it.  Like simply seeing me was enough to make someone have to know exactly what I am doing.  I’m sorry, did I say “used to”?

Yesterday, while thinking about my post for the day, I took a walk to the university center to grab some lunch.  Being summer, it was slow, several things were closed, and choices were limited.  So I stood in a forever-and-ever line waiting on a Chick-Fil-A sandwich to come off the grill.  My senses are always up in the university center.  It’s a classic place to bump into The Boyfriend.  And even though it’s only happened a miraculous four times in  two years (the other 726 days of the year we successfully pull off the facade that we don’t live in the same zip code and word in the same quadrant on a campus map), I still try to keep my guard up during lunch hours especially.

Because the four Boyfriend bumps have been enough to send me into tailspin for weeks at a time.  Mostly because after the bump comes the contact.  Emails upon emails, questions upon questions, sewn up wounds torn fresh again.  A constant reminder that I am a Bad, Bad Girlfriend.  Bump and contact, bump and contact.

But the B&C that went down yesterday afternoon had nothing to do with The Boyfriend.  Or The Friend. And it certainly wasn’t The First One.  Not a Bachelor, either. Nay, it was a third-party that I have been reticent to include in this blog for a number of reasons..well, actually two reasons.  1) He reads this blog (or used to) and 2) blogging about him would give him way, way more validation and credit in my current state of affairs than I was comfortable with (until now).  I don’t really have a nickname for him..and I’m having trouble making one up…So, do you hear that?  You’re not getting a nickname.  Yet.

So the classic, unanticipated B&C went down right there in line waiting for a chicken sandwich.  We spoke, but I was really more interested in whether or not someone was going to swipe my long-awaited and much-anticipated sandwich than getting to the heart of the matter with…him.  But we did speak.  Which makes the whole B&C thing sort of unclear.

He joined the line, I got my sandwich, and I was on my way.  But once I got to my desk, I fired off an email.  “It was nice seeing you”. I knew I shouldn’t have done it the minute I sent the email.  First and foremost, we aren’t talking for a very specific reason.  We both know it’s best that we don’t talk.  Because we’re not friends.  Well, let me rephrase.  He probably wants to be friends.  But I am not at that point.  And I am a pretty frustrating person to be around when I’m not getting my way…so I can be totally inappropriate and tempting.  So he knows to stay away from me.  And I know to stay away for my own good too.  So the outcome of this B&C could only lead to contact (bad) or no contact (still bad because it opens those freshly healed scars. For both of us).  But the email was gone. Simple as that.  And the reply?  Did not follow form.

There wasn’t a “you too, we should catch up”.  There was no “How are you?” The response was absolutely nothing that gave me any reason to reply.  No question, no suggestion.  Flat.  Done.

Maybe earlier, when I called it “giving myself the benefit of the doubt”—maybe that phrase was an inaccuracy, maybe I’m just in denial. Selling myself short for certain.  Because as I sat at my desk yesterday, ruminating over the bump-and-contact that just went down as I picked at my lunch, the cold hard truth came rushing to the center of my brain.  And, barring a lobotomy, I can’t ignore things that sit right there at the front of my brain.

I am a calculated master of the bump-and-contact.  I’ve initiated my fair share of these things.  I’m not entirely incapable of trying to lure these men back in.  I’m not entirely the victim of these men who come and go.

I come and go too.  I bump.  I contact.  I swear people off and then send these emails, these tiny little phrases of “how are you?” and “Funny to see you around these parts” and “don’t be a stranger!”.  I know what I’m doing, more so than I’ll ever admit.

And for what it’s worth?  Nicknameless?  How are you?  It was nice to see you yesterday.  And I mean that both honestly and dishonestly.


Can I Get A What-What

I walked through a big box store this weekend, Memorial Day weekend, just minding my own business.  I had to pick up some things, oddly enough not related to picnics or swimming pools.  Most people in the store were in bathing suits (gross) and had their carts piled high with igloo coolers, beer, and bratwurst.

As I rounded a corner, a couple in their forties passed in front of me.  Excitedly, the wife-figure made a ‘raise-the-roof’ motion with her hands and asked her husband in a high-pitched voice:


The husband-figure was trailing behind, slumped over the cart.  “What, what,” he half sighed.

Any laughter or amusement I had in my eyes completely disappeared as he rounded the corner and caught my gaze.

I turned to my  companion for the day and said to her “That, friends, is why I just cannot see myself getting married.”

It’s not like doing silly things in love is a foreign concept for me.  I’e been there.  I cringe to think of the suffering I caused to classmates in ghigh school as The Boyfriend passed notes to me, called me “honey-dew-melon-pie” for God-knows-what reason and I sat there smiling at my “Snoopy dog”.  (Again, God knows why those names suck…can I get a what-what?)  And what about the time we figured out that our noses fit perfectly together?

I think I threw up in my mouth a little bit.

No, the idea of being that couple really annoys me.  But I sort of think nobody really sets out to be “that couple” that makes everyone physically ill (or laugh until your sides hurt)…nah, one minute you’re a singleton declaring your immunity to goofy sayings and promising that you’ll always respect Jay-Z and his amazing lyrics (Can I get a…is probably not the example I’d cite there).  The next minute you’re calling someone smoopy, giving Eskimo kisses, and saying “I love you” into an office phone while your coworkers put line 3 on hold.  Again.

There’s a line, of course, that stands between normal and “our noses fit together isn’t that cute?!”.  I guess you have to figure out what your personal tolerance is, what the public will tolerate, and if you really want to have a mid-twenty year old singleton judge you for being an utter embarrassment to couples everywhere.

But today I sat in a chair trying to recall the last time I held hands with someone other than a man named Se Jung (no really, shout out to Se Jung who does my nails and tells me I’m beautiful every single time), who is, incidentally, well versed in the subtle difference between pink champagne and bubblebath pink nail polishes.  And I can’t recall the last time I held hands.  I can’t recall having a pet name.  I can’t recall a lot of the basics of relationships.

It’s been longer since those parts of a relationship came out than it has been since the sexual part of one did.  I spend a lot of my time blowing off the “sillier” parts of relationships; the nicknames, the inside jokes.  But I think maybe it’s because I feel more vulnerable having these things in my life than I do having sex.

And maybe I keep pushing away matches on dating sites because I’m afraid I might mess those things up again and be left with just the sex parts, or maybe even nothing at all.

Maybe I’m not of afraid of someone asking me for a “What-What” after all.  Maybe I’m more afraid of them not asking for a what-what.

Does that make any sense at all?

You’ve Got the Chemistry, I’ve Got the Remedy

Full Disclosure:  I have a free Chemistry.com full membership.  So, you know, this is technically a paid review but..I would’ve said these things anyway.

I’ve begun my adventure into Chemistry.com rather unceremoniously in the past couple of weeks.  I think I’ve been there long enough to say that it’s basically like every other dating site, if you’ve ever used OKCupid or Match.com or EHarmony.com.  It has decent elements of all three, melded together to form its own list of matches.

First, can I just say that I find it amazing that Chemistry.com was a domain available to be purchased and turned into a dating site in 2007?  I mean, why didn’t the American Chemistry Society already own that shit?  Anyway…

Admittedly all I knew about Chemistry.com came from the mildly successful but insanely funny (and true) ad campaign they launched back in 2007.  The spots featured several people had been “rejected” by eHarmony.  The best one, I thought, was a man who picked up a copy of Penthouse, flipped through a couple of pages and looked into the camera..shrugged his shoulders and said “Nope.  Still gay!” and a giant red REJECTED! stamp was plastered across his face. Try as I might on YouTube, I can’t find any of the rejected ads that ran in 2007.

At the time, I was in a relationship (or two) and had no use for Chemistry.com, but the ads made enough on an impression that I still remember it today, almost four years later.  Though I’ve not personally met someone claiming to have met the love of their life on Chemistry, when I got the offer to try it for free I couldn’t resist.  So, I signed in, took the personality test, and here I am..

The personality test reminds me a lot of the eHarmony. The test, I should warn you, may take you anywhere from twenty-five to forty-five minutes.  It asks a variety of fairly interesting questions, two of which are my personal favorites–an interactive test of optical illusion…lengthening sticks to the same size in a cross formation, etc.  I’m not sure what this tests for, but I like it.  Probably just because I got them both correct in under 15 seconds.  Anyway, after answering various questions that are suspiciously close to a Meyers-Briggs, you get your personality type.

There are four personality types in the Chemistry world:  Directors, Builders, Explorers, and Negotiators.  After taking the personality test, you’ll be given your percentage for propensity of each personality type.

I’m a Negotiator, or so says Chemistry.com.  At first I wanted to be all “That is totally not the case; I am an arguer at the very core” but then I sort of realized that Chemistry probably only analyzes your good characteristics for relationships, not your bad ones.  And once I read the “Negotiator” description I sort of gave in.  It was pretty accurate.

As  Negotiator personality type, I tend to hate conflict.  And as much as I like conflict that is fun and pointless,  I do tend to get uncomfortable when the conflict adds tension to a room or appears to be spiraling out of control.  And when a conflict involves me directly, it can keep me away many nights until it is resolved.  My brain won’t shut off, it constantly replays conversations, runs over the outcomes and potential outcomes, until I feel ‘settled’.  My nature is to take the chaotic and return it to normal, I suppose, and that’s apparently just what  Negotiator needs.  The personality profile on Chemistry describes Negotiators like myself as ‘win-win advocates’.  The other day, I was comforting a friend at dinner; she was sad to be leaving town and moving a few states away with her fiance and daughter.  As much as I hated to see her go, I started naming all the awesome stuff she’d be able to do, how her ‘real family’ was moving with her, and how I’d come visit.  Two of the others with us started laughing and finally said “You are such a fixer, Blonde!” I just want people to be “okay”.

Anyway, other character traits include admiring spontaneity despite my propensity for planning…highly compassionate…socially savvy.  Other things that are basically true and flattering.  Maybe the best one, in my opinion, that covers me is the “big thinker” label.  I am always thinking.  And not about particularly important subjects (though I do enjoy that as well), but sometimes just about the day ahead or behind me, the past, the present, the future.  My mother and The Boyfriend have both commented before that you can almost see the gears turning in my pupils…there is always something churning up there.  And now Chemistry.com has figured that out too.  I would hope that’s a big key for whatever mate I have..someone who can put up with that or possibly thinks like that too..

The interesting part about Chemistry and their personality profile is that they don’t limit your ‘matches’ to just your personality type, or one specific personality type that corresponds with yours.  Nay! They actually believe that (gasp!) you could be matched with any personality, really, if given the proper directions to finding the common ground that you could potentially share.  So users are identified with a colored circle that corresponds with their primary personality type and once you’re viewing a potential mate’s profile, there is a box that appears that says “How You Two Click”

The “How You Two Click” box compares your personality types in brief generalities that sort of give you a ‘Cliff’s Notes version of the common ground personality traits you both have.  For instance, a recent match for me, a Negotiator and Him, an Explorer yielded this “How You Click” note:  With the spontaneity and creativity of the Explorer and the flexibility and imagination of the Negotiator, you’re both in store for some great adventures and hearty laughs together. I find this valuable beyond the basic “great adventure and hearty laughter” cheesy line they’ve thrown at me.  This match is on the side of less planning, and more doing.  That is definitely something I’ve talked about being attacted to.  But it also points out to me that I possess the skill of flexibility so despite the fact that I’m more of a ‘planner’ there is still room for me to “give” in that position.  I think it’s really brilliant of Chemistry to provide this cheat sheet.  And if you need to know even more about how a personality type would match up, you can get that information, too.

Here’s an example of the long-form “How You Two Click”, taken right from my page (feel free to click for a larger image):

I think maybe the best feature Chemistry offers using this “personality profile” gimmick comes when it’s time to communicate with your matches.  Where most people falter with online dating, the open communication (email or message) options, Chemistry steps in with helpful suggestions.  Taking things that are important to each personality type, Chemistry suggestions questions and topics for your email communication to give you a jumping off point.  Ideally, if you send an email following this sort of guideline they set out, the receiver should be interested and intrigued because of the appeal to their specific personality.  Here’s an example: 

So far, I find Chemistry fairly interesting in their use of personality types and the way they really try to show you how to use these things to your advantage in each potential relationship.  Rather than deciding what is “best” for each member, it seems to me (so far) that they sort of show you members who you match with in terms of must haves/can’t stands and interests, but let you decide what the common ground will be– with some helpful hints.  I’ll be back to discuss my actual match findings on Chemistry soon, as well as the “chemistry starters” that they use to interact with potential mates.  Just wanted to give you a heads-up on the Chemistry personality profiles.

Navigation of the Sexes

As I’ve said before, random road trips are pretty much my most favorite activity ever.  It’s something that I miss about The Friend and even The Boyfriend.  And though I have been on some good trips in the past year or so, none of them have been random “get in the car and go” trips.  This summer I’m looking for a partner in crime to cruise up to Cleveland to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and hoping for a trip to our nation’s capitol to check out the museums and visit some friends.

I must say, I’m an excellent passenger on a long road trip.  I enjoy controlling radio and CD choices (especially my SIRIUS radio..LOVE it), being in charge of navigation (I don’t have a Garmin, I like a good old fashion map!), and my personal favorite task…keeping control of the snacks and drinks.  When The Boyfriend and I went to Florida almost every summer, his grandmother would pack a large ice chest of sandwiches like homemade pimento cheese and chicken salad, oatmeal raisin cookies, and juice boxes (we once had a German chocolate cake but I don’t recommend them while driving).  Anyway, my job was the unpack the food, feed bites to The Boyfriend, and using napkins to dab away the crumbs.

So on the heels of this summer desire to take to the roads (and fond memories of being a great copilot!) comes this Match.com infographic:

Interestingly enough it looks like both sexes say that a majority of arguments begin outside the car and are just carried over into the trip; stereotypes would lead us to believe that navigation issues and comments on driving abilities would come in first, and by a long-shot.  But it looks like that’s just not the case.  It’s been my experience, though, that men require way more pit stops than women.

Recession? WHO CARES!

Last week I noticed I had a crush on Alec Baldwin, and I felt really weird about it.  I don’t know why, it just seemed inappropriate.  Who, besides Kim Basinger really, has a thing for Alec Baldwin?  And it’s only Alec Baldwin on 30 Rock too.  And I don’t even watch 30 Rock. I’d like to say that the Alec Baldwin fascination/dream is where the odd attraction ends, but it’s not.

Shortly after the Royal Wedding I came to a realization that I was probably subconsciously aware of for a long, long time…

I have a weird thing for guys–especially younger guys– who are starting to have a receding hair line.

The awareness came from many conversations I had regarding the wedding of Wills and Kate.  Most women all came to the same conclusion.  “William would be lovely, if it weren’t for that receding hair line!”

And every time the sentence was uttered I just sort of thought “What the hell?”

When I look at photos of Prince William, my eyes are indeed draw to the tale-tell signs of the coiffure that is marching toward the crown (pun intended) of his head and I sort of (actually, I definitely) find him attractive because of this trait, not in spite of it.  I think that the look of young-but-starting-to-taper hints at a maturity and wisdom that is yet-to-be.  I guess.  I don’t know, I just know that I like it!

The Friend has the receding hair line that gives him a Prince William look.  I never notice a lack of hair on The Friend until one afternoon, lounging in bed, he self consciously made a remark about losing his hair before he was 28.  Puzzled, I asked him what he meant.  He pushed back the fine locks in the front and showed me his slow but steady recession.

It was at that moment that I realized exactly why I was so fascinated with The Friend’s face, hair, forehead.  He had a look that was older.  And while he was only two years older than me, it made the age differential seem real and almost…exciting! The Friend was most definitely a man..because only a man could exhibit signs of male pattern baldness…and at 25? He still had young features to pair up with this masculine “hair style”. From that moment on, after I had examined it closely and carefully and declared it “hot”, there was probably no hope for me.  Receding hairline, especially on a young person, has instantly become a feature that I enjoy on guys.

After The Friend, I had a brief infatuation with a man who bemoaned his lack of follicle facility.  I explained, time and again, how sexy I found it.  I’m not sure he ever believed it.  But it was most assuredly true.

There is just something about a man with a receding hairline (and NOT a man that’s completely bald, but who knows..maybe that’s next!)…guys, seriously, stop stressing over it.

And while I can’t show you my photos from Match.com or Chemistry.com and prove that my taste in men is secretly driven by the lure of subsiding sideburns..I can show you some damn fine members of young (and not so young) Hollywood sporting the look:

Anyway, I just thought I’d share this recent discovery.  Feel free to point out other attractive Hollywood types with follicle woes in the comments, if you’d like.  I’m off to scour Chemistry and Match more closely with a new criteria! 😉

Q&A Tuesday: Family Edition

I decided to explore a question today that someone really asked me.  But I do prefer to receive them from anonymous people on formspring.me/theblondexoxo so if you’ve got a question…I’ve probably got an answer!

I’ve spent a lot of time in the past couple of months consoling a family member (Cousin) who’s going through some tough times.

Without going into too much dramatic detail, there has been coming together, falling apart, and death mixed in to give this poor person I love a really shaky beginning to 2011.  I am sure that she is counting down the days until the year is half over…that way she can have a fresh start.

A lot of our conversation centers around relationships.  While I am no expert (I am, after all, The Blonde), I feel that my age at least gives me some wisdom and insight that might be useful to someone seven years my junior.  So, for better or worse, I’ve tossed out tiny nuggets of relationship-wisdom-goodness to her.

Most of my wisdom is average stuff, something you could probably pick up in a self help book.  Just general “everyone feels like that sometimes”, “you’re worth more than that” information.  Some of it sticks, some of it doesn’t.

I totally get that it doesn’t stick.  Lord knows how many times someone tried to tell me what was good for me, what wasn’t good for me, what I should or shouldn’t do with a relationship.  And Lord knows how many times I ignored all prior advice and forewarning and went out on my own.

The latest question came to me in the form of a statement really.  I was consoling her, telling her the “oh men are such assholes sometimes” line when Cousin looked at me, through teary eyes and said “But it’s me.  I’m the problem!”

“What do you mean?”

“I mean that because of (my ex) , I don’t trust (my current) and so when he does something I don’t like, I do crazy things like get mad or call him too much or do something silly. Then (current) gets MAD. It’s ME.  I AM THE PROBLEM.

I sat back for a minute, to think.  I mean, she has a point.  How many times did I have to hear that same worry tossed around in my own head?

But the harder I thought about the times that I felt like I was the problem, the more I started to see that…sometimes that idea was just planted there by an interloper.

I recall the first time it happened, actually.  The whole concept of seeing someone that wasn’t The Boyfriend was fairly new to me.  I mean, I hadn’t been taken out out since I was in high school, so the very thought that someone wanted to wine me and dine me came as quite the exciting piece of information.  (Here’s where you need not judge my stupidity or my heartlessness and just listen to the story!) So, with the promise that we’d be going to dinner, I arranged my whole Friday schedule so that I’d be home from class, free of The Boyfriend, and ready in time for dinner.  Dinner time came, and went.  And then late night drink time came…and went.  The only possible explanation for this was sudden death or near-fatal accident, right?  Right.  So I sweetly called the Friend and checked on him.

“I totally forgot I was taking you out!”

Oh.  Right.  Well.  I sort of sat with that explanation for about twenty minutes; I laughed it off.  Forgot about me, how funny.  Until that started to piss me off.  So I texted him back “You didn’t forget, did you?”

“Okay, you got me.  I didn’t.  My dog threw up in my rental car and I had to clean it up!”

“I don’t believe that one either.”

“You don’t trust ME either, do you?”

And so began the biggest mindfuck ever propagated against me (at the time).

Every time a phone call was missed, he didn’t show up, or he was seeing someone else..every time I basically had any sort of question about the state of our ‘relationship’…

The table was turned.  I was the one not giving him a fair shake.  I was the one holding past grievances of another person against the new guy.  I WAS THE ONE WHO DIDN’T TRUST HIM BECAUSE I WAS LYING TOO.

It was the first time of many that I would be cornered in this way.  And it was the first time of many that I would give in and let it ride because..well, he had a point.  I was a liar.  I was insecure.  And it wasn’t his fault.

Or was it?

Flash back to the conversation I had with my Cousin. She’s right about 3 things.

  1. She’s angry and speaks her mind or gets upset.
  2. He gets angry in return.
  3. Past relationships cannot predict your future ones

But that’s pretty much where she stops being right.

It’s true that every relationship can and should have its own history, independent and irrelevant of anything that happened in a past relationship.  You cannot hold a former lover’s transgressions over the head of the current one.

But it’s not true that just because you didn’t trust your ex and it ultimately caused things to end, that you should automatically trust your current lover no matter what.  This could be said for anything, really.  Just because your ex hated you leaving clothes on the floor doesn’t mean you have to tolerate your current getting pissed, either (but..dude…seriously…pick up your clothes).  Just because your ex was wrong doesn’t mean your current is automatically right.

So my advice?  If it makes you uncomfortable, Cousin, then trust your gut.  You can be upset.  And you can be angry.  You can not believe something he says.  So long as it’s because of his actions and words and not the actions or words of a ghost. One incident is totally separate from the other.  But if it looks like a duck, and quacks like a duck..

Then don’t let someone convince you otherwise.

Even if your previous boyfriend was a total duck.

Cost Benefit Analysis of Break Up

Another unplanned sabbatical that I must apologize for.

I’d like to say that I’ve been busy dating, or relating, or doing something otherwise related to dating and relating but..as usual..I haven’t been.  Communication with Bachelor Number 5 sort of faded out.  I was sick one day and he texted, and I had every intention of texting back, but fell asleep.  And in my sleepy stupor I forgot altogether that he texted, until last night when I thought “huh.  I haven’t heard from him!” and checked my inbox.  It was me who wasn’t communicating.  Oops.  I suppose that’s easily fixed, but I’m not especially motivated to fix it at the moment.

No, the real truth here is that I haven’t been doing anything.  For a long time.

I mean, sure, I’m in love with my new Nook and I’ve been working as hard as I possibly can for two weeks preparing for the graduation ceremony.  I’ve gone to going-away parties for some of my employees, been out to celebrate the end of the semester with colleagues.  I went to a barbecue and graduation for a friend.  I went to a theme park this weekend.  I’ve done plenty of stuff.  My social calendar has been pleasantly full, and when it wasn’t, I’ve read enough books to nearly double the total I read last year. Nothing of substance, I suppose, but reading nonetheless.  I read Something Borrowed, The Hunger Games, and Bossypants last week.  Yes, all three of them.  Oh! And I steam mopped by kitchen and bathroom! It’s all so very exciting.

But all this ‘stuff’ I’ve been doing hasn’t really been anything important.  For the past month or so I’ve gotten the distinct feeling that I am spinning my wheels.  It’s fairly typical for me to feel nostalgic and sad during this time of year.  I actively work and plan a graduation that only a few years ago I participated in.  So, I stand on the floor of the basketball arena and shake hands and congratulate 1200 students who are so full of hope and optimism…just like I was.  They’re so ready to face the world and move on to something new.  Just like I was.  And every year someone I’m fairly close with graduates a professional program and leaves to go make their way in the world.  But I haven’t really done much since graduation.

True, I have a job and I recognize that I am truly fortunate.  I am no dummy; this economy is rough and to have never experienced a gap in employment since graduation of undergrad is a rarity.  And I work in a place that lets me pretty much do what I want in terms of time off and working a compressed work week.  I am lucky.  But I guess I want more.  And I wasn’t sure why until the other day.

I hate to be overly dramatic, but when I walked away from The Boyfriend, I made a promise to myself that it would be ‘worth it’.  And I guess what I meant, when I took the solemn vow sitting in my empty house with all my belongings in boxes, was that whatever pain I was going through, whatever pain I had put him through, too, would all be for a good reason. That he would look back and be glad that I left.  Glad that he got on with his life and impressed at what I had made of myself.  I knew in my heart that he would be fine.  It was my destiny that I had reservations about.

You see, for me, as much as I hated to hear him talk about it, I guess life really came down to a cost-benefit analysis that I used to find so crazy when he’d try to tell me all about them.  For me, the sacrifice I was making…risking being unhappy and forever walking away from something valuable…well, something really, really awesome had to come out of my life in order to make it worth it to me.

I wasn’t really sure what the accomplishment might be, especially at first.  I lost 100 pounds and thought “Well, that was worth it, right?”  And it is worth it, but still, my heart needs more.  More accomplishments, more affirmation that I am on the right path.  Traveling alone, starting this blog, dating some.  All huge moments in my life.  The day I had my Insta-lanche.  Accomplishments?  Absolutely.  The end of the journey?  Hmm, not especially.

Lately, I’ve begun to realize that it isn’t just one thing or one accomplishment that will make it all worthwhile to me.  It may not be a specific event that happens and suddenly I wake up and say “YEP! I DID THE RIGHT THING!”  If it was, I’d have reached this plane of spiritual enlightenment already. The past month or so, I’ve been wondering if it’s more of a state of being that will help me find satisfaction and fulfillment with my decisions.

I want to find something, whether it’s a job or activity or an education choice that makes me feel in my heart, like I’ve used all my potential.  It’s less about proving to someone that I am smart or accomplished, and more about making myself proud.  It’s less about having something to show to him or them and more about being really, really content with where I am.  With what I’m doing.  With who I share my time.  It’s about getting to a place in life, any way possible, where the first thing I think of when I wake up…and the last thing I ruminate over when I go to sleep…and all the millions of thoughts in between…isn’t “Was it worth it?”

So, I’m back…but I’m on a mission that is a little larger than finding a date.  I’m looking for enlightenment and fulfillment.  But don’t worry…I’m looking for a date, too.

I joined Chemistry.com and you can read about that soon.

I refuse to acknowledge that this sabbatical has anything to do with the awkward bar run-in last month.

Great What Ifs In American History

Richard Warren, among 10 passengers in the lan...

When I was a sophomore in high school, I took my first AP class–it was American History, and the very idea of it was thrilling.  Sitting in a class listening to a real lecture, not just watching some movie with a “reading guide” that was, in all actuality, busy work of ‘filling in the blank’.

My AP U.S. History teacher was eccentric.  He had several “catchphrases” that were peppered through his lectures.  After making a point, for instance, he’d say without fail, “Well, there you go.”  But the best, the one that actually drove me nuts at some points, were the ramblings that took us off in another direction.  Lectures frequently started with “We all know that the Mayflower landed at Plymouth in 1620, but how many of you know that its original destination was the mouth of the Hudson River?” And a woven tale would take place, telling us of all the ‘chance’ happening that lead the would-be colonists from one ship, the Speedwell, the sister ship that took on water in the first 300 miles of journey, to the jam-packed Mayflower.  And the disease that consumed the Mayflower.  And the ‘surprise’ landing at Plymouth Rock instead of the Hudson.  Everything that happened, my professor seemed to think, was the stroke of luck and happenstance.  And after the tale of all the luck and fortune that lead to what we now know as our historic beginnings, the professor would delve back into the subject of “But what if the journey hadn’t ended at Plymouth?”  and a wild tale of could be, would be, should be would take place.  “Thanksgiving might not exist.” “What about the use of corn? The planting that was taught there?” all of these things that are down right unimaginable were described, whipping the entire room into a downright frenzy.

History went on and without fail, more “What ifs?” popped up.  “What if General Johnston was allowed more control of the Confederate army?” “What if Nixon didn’t resign?”

My mind would be blown at how different life, or at the very least, American History could be.  And then, as quickly as he whipped you into this “OH MY GOD” hair-pulling frenzy, he’d simply say “But that is just another “What If?” of American history.”

Eventually, I started to hate getting worked up about things that weren’t really a part of reality. Somehow, at 16, I had great faith that things just happen the way they should.  And I had the same thought every single time a “great what if in American history” crept up.

SO WHAT?!” It didn’t happen that way.  Things happened and life turned out the way it did.  We spent thirty minutes talking about history and sixty minutes discussing what might have been.  And the stories were cool to think about, I suppose, but…they didn’t happen.

Somehow I’ve lost this outlook.  “What If?” consumes me a lot, especially lately. I’ve been bad lately, regretting a lot of my decisions and choices..not because I particularly miss someone in particular, but because I’m tired of having to relive how stupid I was.   I am constantly wondering about my life and letting my imagination get on the path of “could have.”

It’s all true.  I could have been nicer.  I could have gone home that night.  Could have not asked for that second box of cereal. I could have been stronger and turned down The Friend the first time (uh, or any time. Sorry.).  I could have handled the break up better.  I could have taken the internship in college.  Could have not been drunk the other night at the bar.  Could have parted ways in high school.  Could have gone to a different college.  Could have loved more.  Should have loved more.

There are so many great “What Ifs in Blonde History”.  In fact, if I looked back and could remember every single day of my relationship, I could probably come up with something that happened that, if I had behaved differently, things would be different today.  I could spend every hour of every day wondering how different things might be.

But, as my grandmother would say, it doesn’t amount to a hill of beans.  Just like the “great what ifs” that I complained about in high school, “SO WHAT?”  My 16-year-old self would roll her eyes and say that “things happen for a reason”.  That who you are is who you’re supposed to be, where you are is just the same. I am alive, I’m healthy, I’m having fun (when I let myself!).  I talk about it a lot here, but I’ve done some pretty sweet things that I know would be possible if I wasn’t here I am today.  And the rest of it?  Who knows if things would be running as smoothly if I hadn’t made the choice I have made.

The Mayflower landed on Plymouth Rock.  I walked away from a relationship.  The world is turning and everything is as it should be.