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.