Sunday, December 30, 2007

Time Keeps Passing By

I found out recently that a friend of mine, who is 3 years my junior, got engaged. This will most likely mean she'll have been married twice before I even go out ring shopping.

I've always been the last one to do things. The late bloomer. Last to wear a bra, last to start her period, last to get her driver's license, last to get a boyfriend. Just yesterday I had lunch with a girl I used to babysit, who is not only married but expecting her first child.

It seems I'm quite far behind a lot of people around me.

But as the New Year approaches, and I look back on what transpired in '07, I can see that I'm far ahead in other respects. A lot of people I know have never been to Europe or even New York City. Most have not climbed Half Dome. Or navigated their way through 10 months of counseling. While they've all been busy getting married, buying houses and having babies, I've been leapfrogging ahead in other areas.

It's not a competition. The early bloomer is not better than the one who develops late. Just different. One may have a C-cup, the other may have a highly evolved sense of humor. And neither should want to trade places. Because there are always benefits to each side of the fence.

I may not be sporting a big rock or picking out nursery decor—but this means I can flit off on vacation whenever I want and sleep in without interruption from a little one's cries.

All the things we want will come in time. And in the meantime, we need to enjoy where we are...because there will most certainly be trade-offs when we catch up to the people around us.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Restoring the Faith

How very easy it is to question your faith in people when you have a bad experience. Throw a second sour-tasting situation on the stack, and you may find yourself choking on a mouthful of cynicism and regret. With each additional upset, you'll have to fight harder and harder to keep perspective.

When a friend betrays you or a relationship fails, I think a little light inside you snuffs out. You wonder if you'll get hurt again—whether everyone is "like this."

The worst thing that can happen is that you actually lower your standards to meet the perceived benchmark. Or maybe (equally as bad) you become so bitter (at the entire male species) that you don't even let anyone try to disprove your new bleak outlook.

But eventually—if you're oh-so-lucky—something will happen to restore your faith. Maybe you hear or read an uplifting story, or maybe an acquaintance does something unexpected and thoughtful for you, or maybe you meet someone new who bit-by-bit discredits all your faithless notions. Someone who, instead of making you feel like a child, a babysitter, or a crazy person, makes you feel like a valuable commodity, a worthwhile adult, a woman.

And when that happens, the little light inside will become reignited. And over time, your faith will grow until there is a full-fledged fire burning inside you again.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Merry Birthday

I'm not a religious person. I don't go to church, don't pray much, probably believe things that would make certain Christians gasp in horror. But yesterday I was listening to the Dave Matthews Band Christmas Song and it caused me to pause and remember why we should be celebrating this time of year.

It's incredibly easy to get sucked into the vortex of stress and shopping mayhem during the holidays. We get so consumed with buying people the right present and finishing our Christmas cards and decorating our houses that the time we actually spend acknowledging that little baby in the manger is limited to a night or two.

But I realized yesterday that thinking about Him is what makes this month so special. Sure, it's great to spend time with your family, watch kids light up when you give them gifts, and eat, drink and be merry. But the whole purpose of this holiday is to appreciate what He did and who He was. And when you stop and think about those things, it really puts all the other stuff into perspective.

Maybe this year instead of pumpkin pie and figgy pudding, we should all bake birthday cakes and celebrate the real reason for Christmas.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Surprise, Surprise

I can't help but say that word in my head a Gomer Pyle voice. Kinda dulls the shininess of it a bit...

Ah yes, it's Christmastime again—time for giving and receiving surprises of all sorts. There's nothing like the moment someone opens a gift from you and you get to watch their face shift from anticipation to elation to appreciation. It's one of my favorite things about the holidays. As a recipient I think the "looking forward to" part is the most exciting. I love shaking and sizing up boxes and bags, wondering what delightful items lurk inside for me.

But I realized recently that the random surprises are even more thrilling. Sure the birthday and Christmas and Valentine's Day treats are great, but you expect that something will be happening—that you'll be getting a gift or going somewhere special.

However, when someone catches you off guard and plans a surprise for a random Sunday in January, the anticipation is even sweeter—and the appreciation is too. Unexpected surprises are the surprisiest surprises of all...

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Is a Kiss Always Just a Kiss?

Kisses are kind of like snowflakes. No two are exactly alike. Some land softly on your lips, some come swirling at you in a storm of passion, some you expect, some catch you off guard.

Every kiss has a meaning. And although it seems like common sense to assume you only kiss people you like, sometimes I think the "like" has a different element to it. A little sumthin' sumthin' that I can't quite put my finger on...

It's like the usual tangling of lips and tongues suddenly turns into a waltz. And you find yourself dancing with a partner who matches your steps perfectly. And you both know it.

Maybe that's what it is: A sudden recognition that the great kissing might mean great other things. That maybe there's a brighter spark burning between you two than you initially suspected.

Whatever it is—an added emotion, a sudden groove you fall into—it's spectacular and mysterious and unforgettable. Like snow falling on 5th Avenue.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Can't We All Just Get Along...With Our Bodies

When was the last time you heard a man say, "I'm just really self-conscious about the crease in my forehead." Or, "I'll start dating again after I lose 10 pounds." Your answer should be: Never.

Men don't talk or think like that. They don't derive their senses of self from their body image. They don't let a few extra pounds or some crow's feet hold them back from going after what they want.

Yet, the older I get, the more I hear the women around me expounding on the things they hate about their bodies or the "work" they're planning to get done. Stop The Insanity, Ladies! You Do Not Have To Be Perfect!

Just because your nose isn't as sculpted as Posh Beckham's and your boobs aren't as voluptuous as Tyra Banks' doesn't mean you have to A. Feel bad about yourself B. Avoid interaction with the opposite sex until you get in better shape or C. Spend thousands to get them fixed. I guarantee there are a million other qualities about yourself you should be focused on!

Look at Audrey Hepburn. As she got older, she had wrinkles galore. And I don't think she was ever very busty. But the woman accentuated her positives to the nth degree and will forever live on as a cinema and humanitarian goddess! My mother, on the other hand, cannot look at herself as an amazing grandmother with sparkley blue eyes and a pretty nice rack for an old chick—no she has to zero in on the parentheses around her mouth and get them injected with some freaky phoney substance so her face looks plumper when she puts on her makeup.

I just don't get it. Why do we allow ourselves to fall victim to self-defeating thoughts when the men around us never do? And frankly, I don't think the good men care about the stuff we're all hung up on!

If women could just unite and make the decision to embrace our differences and concentrate on the wonderful things we have to offer—instead of the minor flaws we all have—I think the world would be a more beautiful, diverse and confident place.

Oh and magazine beauty—it's a sham. Check this out:

Monday, December 17, 2007

Life Really Is Too Short

Today at lunch I rode a mechanical bull. No, I wasn't auditioning for Urban Cowboy II, I was at a work function. Yes, a work function.

Perhaps not the best place to display my idiot savant riding skills. However, if I die tomorrow, at least I'll have the memory of laughing hysterically on that bull. See, in the grand scheme of things, it really doesn't matter that I made a fool of myself in front of my coworkers. Because I'll get to take that story with me—and never wonder "what if."

We're all presented with opportunities and situations that could provide great entertainment—or in some cases, change our lives completely. And I think that a lot of the time, we just ignore them.

When I was in high school, I had the chance to take a week-long ski trip in Utah, complete with lessons and free accommodations. I turned it down. And now, I can't ski. Sure, I could learn—but if I had gone on that trip, maybe I would've discovered a new hobby and had all sorts of new experiences during the last 15 years.

I turned down concert invites a couple of times in college because I had to work. Now I may never see those bands play.

Even last year, I went on a trip to Big Sur and when faced with the option to jump into an awesome gorge pond, or lay on the rocks, I stayed on dry land. When will I make it back to Big Sur? Who knows...

I wouldn't say that I regret any of the decisions I've made. But if given the chance to go back and take more chances, I think I would. Because you never know which day will be your last.

Friday, December 14, 2007


In a world full of different personalities and perspectives, it's extremely easy to find reasons not to respect one another. We can look down on each other for political viewpoints, work ethics, health choices—even fashion decisions.

Our values may differ, causing us to believe one person is too wild, while another is too much of a stick in the mud. We label one person an airhead, and call the next a know-it-all. Turn our nose up at someone's too-short skirt and then chuckle at another person who dresses like an old lady.

With all the judgments that slide along our synapses each day, it's a wonder there aren't more wars being waged. Like I said, it's easy to flaw find.

But I believe that everyone has a reason to be respected. We each have something to offer that is good and necessary. And whatever it is, it may make up the bigger part of us.

So next time your coworker plays ditzy just to get attention, try to recognize her for her upbeat attitude or continuous punctuality. If we look for reasons to respect each other, maybe we'll find ourselves becoming a little more decent and respectable too.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Annette Bening: The Ultimate Seductress or the Ultimate Sucker?

Annette Bening could very well be the world's greatest Man Tamer. She got Warren Beatty—one of the World's Most Untame Men—to settle down. Sure, he was already a ripe 55 years old when they married, but up to that point I'm sure he (and everyone else in Hollywood) never thought he'd end up with a ring around his finger.

I would like to think that Annette was so incredibly independent and intelligent and alluring that Warren absolutely couldn't resist her. But there's a distinct possibility that maybe she just got duped.

Can a man really change his stripes? If he was known from here to Timbuktu as a Casanova, can he really one day turn around and become a Cleaver?

My initial response to this question is: No. But that may be based on my own unwaivering existence. I haven't changed much throughout my life, so I just assume that most other people don't change either. But perhaps—as in the case of Warren—people do reroute themselves. And if this is a possibility, then I suppose it is our job to get to know them in the current moment, not through investigative work about their pasts.

History can repeat itself, and a lot of people are never able to adjust the patters they develop in their youths. This means Annette could be an unsuspecting sucker. But if we give people the benefit of the doubt, we may just end up enjoying the moments with them even more—and perhaps even encouraging them to continue their good behavior far into the future...

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Just a Little Longer

When Jim Croce sang his song about saving time in a bottle, he sure had it right. There are certain moments in life I just wish I could capture like fireflies in a mason jar.

Last Friday I was in New York City. I ate lunch at the very cute and elaborately decorated "Serendipity," and when we came outside, it had begun to snow. Perfect little eraser head-sized snowflakes danced down around us as we made our way to 5th Avenue. The streets were lined with bundled-up shoppers and Christmas decorations. I felt like I was in a movie. It was beautiful and festive—exactly the way you would want a city to feel during the holidays.

On the plane ride home, my six-months-pregnant cousin grabbed my hand and put it on her belly to feel her baby kick. Just like the surprise snow shower, that moment had an element of magic to it.

They say that the best way to remember something is to recall it often. But with so many incredible little events in our lives, it's hard to keep bringing them to the forefront of our minds over and over again. I guess the best we can do is savor them when they're happening. Try to make that two-second kiss on the cheek when you're cuddling on the couch last just a little longer. Pay attention to the feeling of an expectant mother's twitching stomach or your favorite guy's fingers tracing over the nape of your neck. Eat a decadent frozen hot chocolate slowly, acknowledging each sweet ice crystal that hits your tongue.

The beauty of all of these little moments is that they add up to a lifetime that, hopefully if stored in a container of some sort, would burn brighter than a hundred swarms of fireflies.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Men: Spawn of the Devil?

I was chatting with a girlfriend recently, discussing the merits and foibles of men, when she proposed a most interesting theory: Men are the spawn of Satan.

Okay, yes I know it sounds harsh.

But it got me thinking about the dynamic between males and females. Generally, men are out to screw as many women as possible. Women typically want one man to adore and eat dinner with and get knocked up by. It's a matter of seed spreading vs. domestic devotion. Now you tell me who seems more angelic within those two stereotypes...

I don't want to make it seem like men really are demons. I know the human race would probably not have sustained itself if cavemen believed in monogamy. We were each built a certain way to carry out a certain responsibility. Men were meant to impregnate as many women as possible. But now, with the world's population growing out of control, isn't it time for the evolutionary pendulum to swing back in the other direction?

Or should we cut guys some slack and recognize that maybe it's not their fault? They were just designed a certain way and should be allowed to forever carry out their "duties."

I don't know. But I do know that in the battle between good and evil, I'm sure going to be more likely to root for a high school sweetheart-marrying man like my dad than a womanizer like George Clooney. Fortunately for George, a cute face and tight butt do a lot to detract from the wickedness...

Mending Fences

Break-ups suck. No bones about it. No matter what the circumstances—who breaks up with whom, whether it's amicable or nasty—it stinks to go through the parting process. And usually, it's easier to identify all of your partner's flaws than think about the good things they may have added to your life.

If they've wronged you in some way, it's especially easy to shine the spotlight on all their bad points and hate them for each and every trait. But is this really hurting them? Perhaps, if you two are still in contact and you berate them every time you speak. But more likely, carrying around that black ball of hatred is actually hurting you.

It's like poison in your system, and it will hold you back from the joy you deserve.

The best thing you can do is feel the pain to its fullest, process it and then let it go. This gets easier as each day passes. Memories grow fuzzy. Wounds begin to heal. The flowers in your life start to bloom again, and suddenly you can remember why you chose to spend weeks or months or years with that person.

We gain something from every relationship and every experience we have. Even if it's the lesson of, "I'll never do that again," it's still a lesson. It will work to our emotional benefit if we can acknowledge this.

I recently received a very complimentary and heartfelt email from an ex, and despite all the difficult things I went through with him, I was able to respond in kind and feel true gratitude for having met him.

It felt wonderful.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Man Mad Libs

Dating a [thirsty] [rhinoceros] is like [playing] [tennis].

Don't you just love mad libs? They were one of my favorites as a kid. In fact, I believe there was a time I was playing them in junior high and I laughed so hard I peed my pants. Too bad it's not as funny when you fill in the blanks about a guy.

It's so incredibly easy to plug up men's holes with your own artificial personality traits. Do they like Broadway musicals? Of course they do! Are they patient with you when you want to shoe shop for 45 minutes? Sure thing! Do they floss regularly? Every night! It's like they're a shiny, new counter top and you're smiling away with your caulk gun, laying perfectly smooth filler in between all the tiles. But at some point, the mildew of reality is going to come seeping through. So it's better to avoid filling in the blanks altogether.

This can be a difficult tendency to overcome. We always want the person we're dating to be spinetinglingly close to perfection. We always hope that their stats align with our wish list. But the bottom line is, it's better to let them reveal their own characteristics, in their own time, than assume they are [honest], [nice] to [pilgrims] and [enjoy] [hopscotch].

And the worst thing you can do is voice your concerns. Because inevitably, they'll try to tell you that they're a certain way when they're not. I learned this one firsthand last year. Actions speak louder that words every time. Remember that, no matter how tempting it is to pick up that [Play-doh] and cram it in the spaces between their [chopsticks].

More Sights from the Morning Commute

Every day on the way to work, I drive past a home for the elderly. Often, there are women strolling up the sidewalk behind their walkers. Sometimes, they're sitting under a tree, chatting and giggling in a circle like a group of teenage girls.

There's also a man who walks to the end of the block and stands on the corner to watch the traffic. He wears the same hat every day—a tweed-looking flat cap. And he always has his hands clasped behind his back. I'm fascinated by him. I am sure he's full of stories, and there have been days where I almost roll down my window and shout, "Get in!" He's a complete stranger, but I feel a great affection towards him and get excited each day that I see him.

This morning my heart melted when I saw him on the corner. Instead of stoically standing alone, keeping watch over the morning commuters, he was smiling and talking with one of the walker women. Even after she passed him to make her way back to the elderly home, he continued to smile.

Now I want to invite him for a ride even more than before.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Indulging Your Inner Child, Princess and Glutton

I had a long day today. I'm tired. So you know what I'm doing (besides typing on my keyboard) right now? I'm laying on the couch under a fleece blanket, eating milk duds, watching a Netflix movie and skimming my new Self magazine. Why? Because I can. And it feels soooo gooood.

It's so easy—especially this time of year—to wear yourself down to a nubby little lump of stress and exhaustion. You have to make it a priority to relax and do things that make you happy. Even if those things are completely silly.

You may not even realize what things you can be doing to feel better. You may need to stop and take a moment to reconnect with your childhood, narcissistic or super sweettoothy self.

So take stock: What makes you feel good? What would help wash away a crazy day or a tough break up or the stress of a last-minute Christmas shopping trip?

Here are a few things that work for me:

• Eating French toast and bacon for dinner.
• Picking up sushi take-out. Then eating it at my coffee table.
• Reading magazines from the back cover to the front.
• Laying on the floor in front of my heater, whilst talking to the cats.
• Wearing fuzzy socks and pj bottoms.
• Watching Sex and the City. If anyone can put things into perspective, it's Carrie Bradshaw.
• Making lists and balancing my checkbook.
• Eating ice cream for breakfast.
• Reading a good chic lit book in the bathtub.
• Browsing kitten and puppy videos on youtube. Yes, it sounds ridiculous—but believe me, you can't help but feel a little better after the 4th or 5th one...
• Taking a walk through the neighborhood to enjoy the Christmas lights.
• Going through the closet and putting together new outfits. Playing dress-up never gets old...
• Looking at old vacation pictures.

Take the time to indulge yourself with little things here and there, and the bigger stuff just might feel a bit easier to handle.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Sistas Before Mistas

We're all guilty of it: You meet a new guy, start dating, and suddenly you begin investing all your physical, mental and emotional assets into his stock. You can't help it—he's charming and funny and sexy. Definitely a hot commodity! But where does this leave your equally charming, funny, sexy and dependable-for-a-great-return-on-investment girlfriends?

Unfortunately, the answer is often: In the gutter. Or at least that's the way it may feel to them.

It seems that no matter how hard you may think you're trying to maintain the balance with your friends, your new man infatuation is going to creep into every interaction and potentially taint your girl time. Even if you're logging hours with the ladies, they'll know when he's on your mind and they're not. And we all know how quickly the "he did the cutest thing" stories can get old.

On the flip-side of all this, though, don't we owe it to each other—as devoted girlfriends—to try to be understanding when our gals have new guys? It may be rough on us—especially if we are unattached ourselves. But shouldn't we hearken back to our own days of couplehood and try to remember what it was like to be ecstatically consumed by someone new?

I think the duty falls on all of us to straddle both sides of the fence. Let's not drop one another by the wayside when we're in the throes of crushdom. But let's also try to be empathetic to each other during those first days of boy-inspired elation. Because really, there's enough love to go around for everyone, right?

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Fingers and Palms

In college, I used to religiously watch the show My So Called Life. The relationship between Angela Chase (Claire Danes) and Jordan Catalano (Jared Leto) was completely mesmerizing. It began with secret makeout sessions in the high school's boiler room and eventually led to far more significant activities: like hand-holding.

One of my favorite Angela lines was, "What is holding hands?! What are hands?!"

I'm not entirely sure why I found this rumination so amusing. I guess because it acknowledged the emotional weight of such a seemingly small action. Why do people hold hands? And why does it feel like something so special when it happens?

Perhaps because it's a sort of declaration of solidarity. Holding hands isn't about physical pleasure the way a kiss is. It's a statement: We're in this together. It's a melding of palms and fingers that—when you look at it—almost makes it hard to see whose appendages belong to whom.

I can still remember what each of my boyfriends' fingers felt like laced between my own. I can even remember the moment a couple of them first grabbed my hand in public—the delight that one gesture elicited; the way it made me feel like it was us against the world. There's almost something magical about it.

Friday, November 30, 2007

The Weekend Getaway: Does It Really Mean Anything?

I remember the first time a guy I was dating invited me to go away for the weekend. I was thrilled to say the least (even though it was to go camping in the desert while we rode dirtbikes with his friends). That one invitation meant he liked me enough to want to spend a whole 48 hours with me. Uninterrupted.

Since then, I've always thought of the weekend getaway as a significant relationship step. In addition to the nonstop face time with one another, you cross little intimacy hurdles—like potentially deep conversations in the car or on the plane, having to shower and get ready in each other's presence...and let's face it...having to admit you go #2. Sorry, had to throw that one in. It's a big one.

The first weekend away can really make or break the future of your affair. If it goes well, you two may realize you want to spend even more time together in the real world. If it goes poorly, you may find you need to call it quits sooner than later.

Regardless of the outcome, the initial proposal of a getaway seems like a big indicator that things are moving forward. At least this is what I thought until I remembered the scene in Bridget Jones' Diary.

You see, Daniel Cleaver (Hugh Grant in the movie) invites Bridge to the country for the weekend. She is ecstatic. Obviously he's serious about her if he wants to take her away somewhere. But then, midway through the trip, he tells her he has to return home to do work he forgot about. She stays behind and then drops by his apartment on her way back into town only to discover him in bed with another woman! Clearly, in this case, the weekend getaway meant nothing and was absolutely not an indicator of his interest in Bridget—or his fidelity.

I know this is a fictional account, but it makes me men think the weekend getaway means something? Or is it just an excuse to have massive amounts of youknowwhat? Hopefully it's a combination of both...

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Times Are A'Changin'

Remember the days of dating when an eager suitor would actually show up on a girl's doorstep if he wanted to get to know her better? He'd come a'calling in person just to ask her if she'd like to go to the hop with him.

Then the telephone became more popular, and face time began its steady decline. Why would a young buck walk or drive all the way to his gal's house when he could just pick up the phone and call her?

Now the interpersonal interaction has become even further diluted with IM, email and text messaging. Quantity of communications may be up, but the quality just isn't what it used to be. And it seems to me there HAVE to be things getting lost in the translation. Like commitment.

It's easy to maintain electronic comm relationships with 5, 6, 10 people—but is that really fair to them? And to us? Are we depriving ourselves of forging deeper, more meaningful relationships with each other?

I for one think it takes a lot of talking to get to know someone. And face-to-face conversation always reveals more about them than anything over a computer or phone line. But I'm only one voice and I don't think I'll be able to shift the trends in the great game of dating. Or maybe I'm not as committed as I could be...otherwise, I'd be telling you this in person...

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

The Great Toothbrush Paradox

When you're single, it's pretty much a given that you have to keep spare toothbrushes on hand. You never know when a night with Mr. Wonderful will turn into an overnight. And if he's going to make out with you until the wee hours, he's probably going to want clean dentifrices.

The result of this is that you're left with an extra toothbrush in your bathroom, and every time you see that nylon-haired wonderwand, you're going to think of HIM. You'll smile, get all smooshy inside and maybe line up his bristles right next to your own.

But heaven forbid things don't work out between the two of you, and you're left with a plastic pariah that you want to flush down the toilet—or that serves as a painful reminder of euphoric nights past. Even if you relocate the toothbrush to your trashcan, you'll have to look at your single brush standing sadly alone in its holder.

It's a lose-lose situation. But I think I've come up with a solution.

By strategically placing HIS toothbrush somewhere else in your medicine cabinet, you'll be less likely to become conditioned to seeing it next to your own. So if things don't work out, you won't feel sad each time you reach for your solo brush. And hopefully, someday you'll be able to move it from the third shelf down into the designated cup with yours, and it'll stay there for a very long time...

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Bye Bye Black Bird

Lately I've begun to wonder if commitment and bliss are inversely proportional. The beginning of a new relationship is so incredibly body-and-soul scintillating, it's a wonder that anyone would want to "take things to the next level" and risk altering this state of twitterpation.

Look at Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell. They've been together for what—20+ years? And they seem completely in love (Note: this perception is filtered through the media and may not be an actual representation of their adoration). But the kicker is—they're not married. They never signed the papers, shouted of the rooftops and made the ultimate declaration of in-sickness-and-in-health and we-share-our-moolah.

Is this why they're still happy? By avoiding "I do," have they managed to keep the bliss alive? And if they ever sealed the deal, would the bliss go bye bye?

Perhaps the cause of so many inversely proportional relationships is unfulfilled expectations. When you start seeing someone new, they're like babies. Everything they do is novel and wonderful and makes you want to clap and giggle. However, their fabulosity may just come back to bite them in the butt because as time passes, you either expect them to keep up the good work, or maybe you expect them to do even more for the relationship. And maybe they do...but you're so used to it that it doesn't elicit the same high it used to. Or maybe they don't...and this is a huge disappointment that sends amour swirling down the toilet.

Or maybe the bliss gives way to bigger, better and truer feelings. Maybe bliss is just an umbrella, but real love and commitment is an entire roof. It may be leaky sometimes, and you may want to put new shingles on it now and then, but it's warmer and sturdier and provides a heck of a lot more shelter from the rain. Maybe it's worth the twitterpation sacrifice...

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Knowing Your People

Isn't it funny how you can be sitting around with your parents or grandparents, and suddenly a story comes up that you've never heard? They whip out some scandalous tale about a drunken night and you guffaw in horror and delight. And you're reminded that they're actually people—not just your parents?

I find this endlessly cool.

So often we forget that they had their own lives and thoughts and aspirations before we came along. They made mistakes and had their hearts broken. They probably went through a lot of the same stuff we have.

It's so easy to file their existence away under "M" for mom and "D" for dad, without acknowledging that they've also been children, friends, lovers, professionals and maybe even daredevils. And maybe we don't realize this because we forget to ask about the stories. But they're our people—and we should be asking! Their steps and missteps are what brought us here today. We should make a concerted effort to learn more about those events!

My grandmothers were born on the same day, I believe two years apart. They grew up not far from one another but had such different experiences and endured so many things as young women and young wives. I never knew to ask for the details. But now I cannot wait to talk to them about everything when my time here is done.

I also hope that if given a chance to read my deepest darkest diary secrets, my own kids will not be able to put the books down.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Look for the Lighthouses

I just got home from seeing Dan in Real Life, and there's a great monologue in it about lighthouses—and how they guide you, not just when things are rough and you could crash and splinter into a million pieces, but also when things are calm and you just need a little help seeing what's in front of you.

Tonight, sitting around with my family for Thanksgiving, I was surrounded by lighthouses.

There are those that shine the brightest and widest light, directing to the safest and most stable harbor. They raised this little boat and helped her from hitting the rocks countless times over her 31 years.

There are the floodlights of sibling and sibling-in-law lighthouses, sending out glowing examples of what it means to be good parents. Their benchmarks are something to aspire to.

The younger lighthouses are playful beacons, shooting rays of laughter out into the dipping and swelling tides. They're a great reminder that sometimes you have to just go with the flow and find the humor to make it through.

The very tiniest and newest lighthouse in my life burns with wonder and fragile strength.

And the other lighthouses out there seem to just be illuminating the possibilities of magic that may be waiting in the waters ahead.

What a bright, bright night it turned out to be...

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Things Forgotten at Thanksgiving

Every year, people gather around the turkey and talk about how thankful they are for their families and friends and health. They may be thankful for their jobs, their cars and the summer vacations they took. Or maybe just for the giant meal in front of them.

But I'd like to take a moment to be thankful for the forgotten gems of the world. In no particular order, this year (and every year) I am thankful for:

Neosporin: Remember how the father in My Big Fat Greek Wedding put Windex on everything? That's me with Neosporin. It's a cure-all for cuts, scrapes, hangnails, pimples, chapped lips, even razor burn. I {heart} it.

Dr. Pepper: Coke and Pepsi can kiss my butt. Why drink cola when you can imbibe carbonated prune juice?

Salami and bacon: Now I don't consume these two delicious meats together, but I thought I'd put them on the same line because they are equally wonderful. I eat salami at least once a week and have been enjoying bacon on about a bi-monthly basis. Salty fat and protein...mmmmm....

Bobby pins: I have bangs. Sometimes they get wonky. A few minutes under the strain of a bobby pin, and my bangs seem to behave again. They're like little ninjas that beat your hair into submission.

What Not to Wear: Watching fashion-challenged people get ridiculed and remade on TV is some of the best entertainment ever. Especially after a long hard week at the office.

Pajama bottoms: Okay, so they're not the most flattering attire for your lower body, but they're so darn comfy! And again, after a long hard day/week, they're exactly what I want to wear.

Krazy glue: I have used this mutha of bonding agents to fix earrings, shoes, Christmas ornaments, papercuts and anything else that seems like it might hold with a little k.g. dab. (Note: krazy glue should not be used on broken hearts.)

Lotion: I hate having dry hands.

Caller ID: In the worst of cases, you can screen and send the telemarketer / ex-boyfriend / demanding boss straight to voicemail. In the best of cases, you can answer with a breathy, seductive hello or an enthusiastic and clever "to what do I owe this pleasure" when your new crush calls.

Parmesan cheese: The perfect companion to salami, this delectable fromage should be consumed in hunks—never sprinkled lightly over pasta. If it's in a shaker, it's not real cheese.

Pens and paper: Lots of good ideas come to life with these tools.

I could go on and on, but I'll stop here. At least until tomorrow when I need to be thankful for even more big and little things in my life.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

What Makes a Good Kiss

We've all been there: Trapped in a lip lock that reminded us of our last dentist appointment and the oyster shooter we did on our 28th birthday. Too jaw-straining, too slimy, perhaps a little too much like someone's tongue was playing Dance Dance Revolution in our mouths.

There is nothing worse than a bad kiss. Okay, fine there are lots of things worse than a bad kiss, but they're still not much fun...

I have tiny little chicken lips. And a small mouth diameter. But even I (handicapped and all) have mastered the art of smooching to a relatively decent degree. The thing is, I don't think it's that hard to be a good kisser. And it really makes me wonder how in the world bad kissers can even exist. Is it just a general lack of awareness of what's going on between two tonsil sets? Or do they think the bad kiss is good?

I know some cases are just a matter of the zipper effect—where the pull accidentally jumps the track and the next thing you know, there are weird empty spaces and teeth clacking together. The old "you go right, I'll go left" turns into a head-on collision or a "you drove right past me, turn around!" Sadly, these things do happen. Especially in the beginning of relationships.

But again, I insist that it should not be that hard! If you simply slow down, pay attention to what the other person is doing, and make a conscious effort not to swallow, head butt, or choke them, all should be good.

Oooh and how good good can be. A great kiss is like jumping into a pool of chocolate pudding. Delish! It's like an out of body experience where suddenly your mouth has become a separate entity whose job is to fly a fighter plane through marshmallows. A good kiss is decadent and time-stopping and temperature-raising. A good kiss can change everything.

So get out there and pucker up. Practice makes perfect!

Monday, November 19, 2007

How Did We Get Here?

I may be alone on this one, but do you ever have a moment where you suddenly feel like you're back in your kid body, sitting in a board meeting, driving your car, having dinner at a posh restaurant—pretending to be a grown up?

Today I was in the conference room with some coworkers, talking about an upcoming project when suddenly I was 8 again and wondering how the hell I got there. How did I end up in the adult world? Did I fall through a worm hole?

I have to wonder if all of you—or if all of the world—feels this way. Like a bunch of little children just performing the roles of adults like actors on a stage. When we're unsure of our lines, we make stuff up. When we have wardrobe or set malfunctions, we improvise. We convince our audience—each other. But inside, we're still the same people we were in third grade.

This past Saturday, I attended birthday parties for a four-year-old and a thirty-year-old. Tutus and princess dresses vs. vodka and tonic. Twenty-six years may have separated the two situations but actually, I think the attendees weren't too far apart from one another. And you know what? I wouldn't want it any other way. Because those little kids inside all of us are what keep us full of wonder.

Thank Goodness for Katie-Girls

It's not easy being a pain in the ass. It takes courage and stamina.

Life would be far simpler if we were all just nice, agreeable girls who never spoke our minds and never uttered cross words. Men could make all the decisions and set the social standards and we could all just sit by, nodding our heads and reapplying our lipgloss. Everyone would be happy and doors wouldn't get slammed as often.

But how incredibly boring we would all be.

I watched The Way We Were last night and it reminded me of how important it is to speak up and rattle cages now and then. If you haven't seen the movie, rent it. Robert Redford (ggggrrrrrrrrr) and Barbra Streisand (like buttah) are so amazing as a volatile young couple trying to find their ways—together and separately—in their careers and the world. She won't take his crap. Or anyone's for that matter. And he can't deal with her strength of character. They have so much passion, but they just can't make it work. He just doesn't have the energy for her.

She could become a simple girl. She could tone down her opinions and quiet her diatribes. But that would mean losing herself just to keep him. And who wants to do that?

No one should. We are all far more interesting because of our sharp edges and unique outlooks. We should never be voiceless or soft just because we're afraid we'll lose our men. We should be Katie-Girls! Girls who fight for what they believe in, and aren't afraid to say what they mean.

We may be thought of as pains in the ass, but at least we'll remain true to ourselves. And when it comes down to it, we're all we've got.

Oh, and we always have Meeeemmmooooriiiies.....

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Doing Time for Breaking the Laws of Attraction

According to the laws of attraction and energy exchange, what you put out comes back to you. Like attracts like. And I suppose, dislike attracts dislike.

I wholeheartedly believe this rings true in everyday life. All those new age books about manifesting your destiny and using positive energy to make your dreams come true—they're really onto something. If you have a clear image in your head and heart, and you maintain a positive attitude about your desire coming to you, I believe it will arrive.

I've attracted jobs, apartments, even parking spaces with this kind of positive thinking.

But I also know a lot of people who seem very committed to bringing certain things into their lives, but just can't seem to get it right. Whether it's a man, a house or a baby, it seems no matter how upbeat and hopeful they are, their attraction just isn't cutting it.

Are they harboring some subconscious energy block—or is it just a matter of timing? Perhaps instant gratification isn't in the universe's plan.

If the latter is the case, I say: Stay patient, stay focused and do what you can to welcome the man/house/baby/job/whatever it is into your life. It HAS to arrive eventually. Especially if you know in your heart that it will.

A few years back, my parents bought a finch feeder. Never in my 20-something years had I ever seen a wild finch in our yard. My mother said, "If you put out the feeder, the birds will just show up." And sure enough, after a few weeks, their little seed hut was covered in chattering finches.

Don't lose sight of what you want in life. It may take some time, but be ready for it to come to you. In fact, it's probably already on its way...

Friday, November 16, 2007

Write Your Own Story

A couple of days ago, I wrote the last page in the journal I've been using all year. I was sort of giddy to close that book and begin a new one. And lately, I've been kind of giddy in general about how I'm creating the story of my life.

I think it's so cool that we all get to choose. We get to decide how that next chapter is going to play out—what avenues we'll explore, what risks we'll take, what good-spirited trouble we'll get ourselves into.

And one of the best parts of this is catching yourself in a moment and recognizing it's going to be a piece of your story that you'll forever look back on and smile at. Maybe it's the moment you come through the other side of a difficult situation, feeling stronger and wiser. Maybe it's wrapped in the rush of trying something new. Maybe it's in the excitement and wonder of a first kiss. Or maybe it's not even about you—it could be the joy you feel when watching someone else.

Whatever it is, it is unique. And you can take it with you wherever you go. It will be yours to reflect on at the end of this sometimes bumpy, but always incredible experience. It's all part of your own life's book.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Decisions, Decisions

How many little decisions do we make every day? A million? A million and fifty? We decide to get out of bed, decide what to wear, what to eat for breakfast, whether or not to ogle Matt Lauer on the Today Show.

Our little choices are a piece of cake. But the big ones are more like deadly blowfish sushi. One nibble in the wrong direction, and your eyes could be rolling back into your head.

In the past few months, I've watched several friends curse, cry and cower under the stress of having to make a big decision. Some of these weren't even full-fledged binding agreements yet—just possibilities of future changes. But they were overwhelming and angst-inducing nonetheless. And I found myself telling each one, again and again, that if they just waited, the right answer would come to them.

I'm a huge fan of pro and con lists, but when it comes down to it, I think the universe and your gut will always lead you in the right direction. It's just a matter of watching and listening.

This gets complicated when the decision is a collaborative effort. In that case, I think it is the responsibility of both parties to be open to signs, one another's intuition, and perhaps even a scorecard of pluses and minuses.

But keep in mind, there is never a case where one person should "blame" the other for a decision. "You made me do it" is a completely unfair and unacceptable statement. We are each accountable for our own choices, and although it may be tempting, we should never, ever try to put the onus on someone else when we decide to do or not do something. Do not ever let anyone make you feel guilty for a choice THEY made. You may have influenced them, but it was THEIR decision. And they must be responsible for the consequences of that decision.

You are entitled to express yourself without having your thoughts or feelings later held against you. Remember that.

Now excuse me while I decide what to eat for lunch...

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Speed Check

Slow, slow, quick quick, slow. Yes, as I'm pondering relationship development speeds, I am also singing Q-Feel's "Dancing in Heaven" in my head. Seems fitting. A topic like this deserves a theme song.

So the question today is: Upon starting a new relationship, when do you put your foot on the gas and when do you pump the emergency brake?

For generations, our mothers, sisters, friends and the authors of The Rules have been telling us to hold out - go slow - play hard to get. If you really like a man, you have to make him chase you. This could mean a lot of stopping and starting, or even just backing out of your parking space with the e-brake still locked.

If you really like the new person you're dating, this can also mean a bit of torture for your lips (and loins). On the flip-side, however, it can protect you from getting too emotionally invested and potentially getting hurt if Mr. Wonderful turns out to be Mr. Wonderfullofcrap. But where oh where is that line and that clarity?

Is it really possible to size someone up in the first few dates? And if they meet all your requirements, should you still hold off on moving things ahead?

In my last relationship, I pretty much shot myself out of a cannon on the second date. He said, "Let's not see other people." And I thought, "Well, that seems scary, but I think I like him and he seems to be crazy about me, so ok!" Big mistake. I could've saved myself a year of heartache and tough lessons had I gotten to know him better before agreeing to be exclusive.

But if faced with that same situation—different man—would it be wrong to repeat the pedal-to-the-metal take-off? Do I have to slow down every time, or is there a possibility that when it's right, it's ok to go fast? And, alas—how do you know if it's right?

I do not know the answer. For now, I guess I'll just have to keep grooving to my orbital beebop...

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Homage to Momage

I've been thinking about motherhood lately. This could be because of the recent arrival of my newest niece. Or maybe a little bit of (gasp!) biological clock-ticking. But what I've realized is that the job seems too huge for one person to handle. I can barely take care of myself and my two cats—the thought of another little person demanding my time, resources and affection is a bit terrifying at the moment.

This brings me to my point: I want to commend all of the other little person caregivers I know. Because, really, I don't know how you do it. You know who you are, so I won't bother listing your names. But I'd like to lump you in into a few categories and pat you on the back for having what I think is the hardest—and most important—job in the world.

To the Working Moms: All you expert jugglers who can keep your sanity even though you're being called on all day by your employers and then have to go home to husbands who don't cook—you rule. I'm so exhausted at the end of every day, I cannot imagine having to bathe, feed, entertain, cuddle, etc. a baby or toddler after work. And the stories I hear about your improvisations are astonishing. (Kari—I'm talking about you here and the quick-thinking tights-turned-underpants).

To the Stay-at-Home Moms: I actually think your job is even harder than the working moms because you don't get a break. You don't get a lunch hour where you can go run errands sans-child. You don't get to go to the bathroom alone. Or spend 20 minutes leisurely checking your email. You are an all-day, all-night laborer who probably manages to also attend playgroups, gymboree and art classes amidst the normal chaos of the waking hours. Incredible.

To the Moms-to-Be: When I am pregnant, I think I will want to lay on the couch and eat burritos 24/7. The fact that you all can go on with your lives, despite morning sickness, fat ankles and constant exhaustion is unbelievable. And if you're pregnant with your second or third child, you deserve a Congressional medal of honor.

To My Own Mom: Even though your children are all capable adults, you still find ways to take care of us. You could have so easily sent us on our way and retired your hardworking Mom suit, but you choose to keep doing things for us. You get the Lifetime Achievement Award.

So that's it. Cheers to you, all you wonderful, dedicated women! I hope you will all help me when my time comes. I know I'll have a lot to learn from each of you!

Monday, November 12, 2007

To Make Out or Not to Make Out: That is the Question

I like to consider myself an expert multi-tasker. I can listen to music, write emails and IM at the same time. I can talk on the phone while making dinner or doing the dishes. I can walk and chew gum. However, I'm not so skilled when it comes to man juggling.

I just don't know what the proper protocol is—and I don't want anyone's feelings to get hurt while I'm trying to figure it out. Including my own! I have been the Dropped Ball in a man's juggling ring and it ain't fun. I certainly don't want to drop some sweet, innocent, unsuspecting charmer on his bouncy little boy head.

So I'm faced with a conundrum: Do I make out with each of my prospects or do I wait until I know which one I really connect with? And heaven forbid—what if the making out doesn't answer my question and I fall into a months' long make out juggling act? (Oy, I think I need to go lie down...)

I'm sure guys would laugh if they read this. OF COURSE it's okay to make out! You have to test drive the car...yadda...yadda...yadda... But I don't know—it just sort of seems unfair.

Then again, maybe it's better to have made out and lost than to never have made out at all...

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Put an End to the Manscaping Madness

When I was in my teens and early twenties, the idea of a hairy man-chest coming into contact with any part of my body was a possibility I found quite horrifying. I wanted a smooth, pretty boy who had no similarities to Burt Reynolds, Magnum P.I. or my grandpa. But with each passing year, it seems the hairy-manly-man pendulum swings further and further in the other direction.

At 31, I now find a hairy chest and a bit of scruff very sexy. Unfortunately, with the rise of metrosexuality, I'm afraid my newfound affinity for ruggedness may become harder and harder to come by.

Now don't get me wrong here, I'm not saying that guys should all grow unibrows and let their nose hair go wild. I'm just worried that male beauty is becoming too prevalent. And I don't think I like it...

Would a waxed and coiffed beauty king really be able to protect me in a dark alley? Or would he be too afraid to mess up his MANicure? This is something to think about... And if a guy shaves his legs or chest, does that mean I need to be more diligent about shaving my legs and armpits? It seems like there's potential for some pressure there.

I would like to see a metro backlash take place (at least among the single men in Los Angeles). No more highlighted hair or clear nailpolish. I'd like to see men bring on the burliness and let women know they're rough around the edges in the best possible way. It'll make me feel better about those sketchy, dimly lit side streets and may make my legs feel better about 3 days' worth of stubble.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Sometimes I'm Amazed...

I love that every now and then, when I'm driving to work, I see something I would never expect to see.

When my company used to be in Old Town Pasadena, I would get off at the same freeway exit and every morning, the same homeless man would be standing on the corner. He was thin, shabby and unshaven and always had a bicycle laying nearby in the dirt. It wasn't too long before a woman began appearing at his side. I liked to think they were in love and that she made this next thing happen: One morning there was a huge bouquet of multi-colored balloons tied to his bicycle. I'd never seen anything like it and it made my heart swell. Seeing something so carefree and hopeful as a bunch of helium balloons juxtaposed next to someone so downtrodden was strangely sad and beautiful.

On another humdrum drive to my office's new location, I saw something peek its head over the wall of a corner-lot house. Upon second glance, I realized it was a llama! I've never seen it there again but what a funny treat to catch it bobbing up and looking at me that morning.

This morning, I was coming down La Tuna Canyon Road, getting ready to turn onto Wheatland when the traffic slowed. I looked to my right and there was a woman walking her dog...and two small ponies. On leashes! Never have I seen someone take their dog and ponies for a walk.

The sights and sounds of Southern California are something I adore. And I wish everyone else would pay attention to them a bit more. Keep your eyes open. Be curious. Take a different route—or just look more closely at the one you always take. You just might see something unexpected and wonderful.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

How Much Attention Can One Girl Need?

I was talking with a dear friend last night and we were trying to figure out why exactly we miss our exes at certain times and not others. It's not like we suddenly see them on the front page of the newspaper winning Nobel Peace Prizes, or cruising down the red carpet with some gorgeous stick figure at their side. But somehow, they seem to pop into our psyches and no matter how hard we try to evict them, they won't leave.

Here's my theory on why this happens: We just need some attention.

I think certain girls (myself included) delight in the thrill of flirting or even just being laughed at by a man. It makes you feel a little more charming, a little funnier, a little more like you're standing on the edge of some sort of opportunity or possibility. You feel hopeful.

But when we're not getting attention, we retreat in our less charming, less funny, slightly hopeless, chocolate-eating place and it's THERE where we start to miss our exes. Why? Because at some point, they thought we were charming, funny, sweet as chocolate and it made us feel great.

What we need to remind ourselves here is that there's a reason they're our exes. Behind the occasional compliments, they may have been cheaters, beaters, bipolars or just big fat bores. We do not want to be with them. We do not need attention from them. And there are hundreds of better men out there.

So here's my fix for the ex-mind-invasion: Go find the attention elsewhere. I know, I know—strong willed, secure, sexy women can just look inside themselves and feel better. Well good for them. For the rest of us, I see nothing wrong with a little LOOKAT/TALKTO/LOVE me fishing.

I say, when you're feeling ex-sad, go flirt with a coworker! Make your favorite gay friend cuddle with you! Strike up a conversation with the check-out guy at Trader Joe's (isn't that what they're there for?)! I guarantee that after enough banter with guys from the present, the ones from your past will melt back into the mental muck where they belong.

Another great way to get attention: Start a blog. Hope you enjoyed my first post!