Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Thankful for Being Thankful

I wanted to write a Thanksgiving post different from the one I wrote last year, and as I wracked my brain to think of what I am most appreciative of this season, it occurred to me that it’s my ability to appreciate that feels most valuable.

It is so incredibly easy to focus on the deficiencies in our lives. To zero in on what we don’t have yet or what is going wrong. We can take things for granted on a daily basis, lamenting the fact that we don’t have as much money as we’d like or we’re not driving the kind of car we want or we haven’t reached a certain life milestone—all the while, ignoring the fortune we enjoy with good health, good friends, roofs over our heads, clothing on our bodies.

It is so easy to always be thinking about that next thing instead of savoring the moment and being thankful for what we have right now. It takes work to be grateful. Or maybe it just takes time and reconditioning.

At the end of 2004, I was miserable in my job, hopelessly single and feeling like I’d lost my direction in life. I started keeping a gratitude journal and it was amazing how much it helped me to force myself to stop and think about all the positives.

Four years later, I’ve honed the skill. I no longer keep a journal, but I do remind myself often just how good I have it. When I start feeling the darkness creep into my mind, I try to switch on the light. When one door closes I remind myself that another door will surely open—and what's behind it could be better than what I had before. When my thoughts wander to an area of lack, I make an effort to seek out other areas of abundance.

And so this Thanksgiving, I am most thankful for this ability. The ability to see the good.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Curious Highlights

Good morning, readers. How pretty is that picture above? I took it yesterday afternoon in Marina del Rey during the 2-hour bike ride Mr. Wonderful and I went on. Needless to say, my butt is a little seat-sore today. But the sunset made it worthwhile.

Another highlight of the day—coming home and eating Mr. W’s delicious pork tenderloin, grilled artichokes and pumpkin orzo which, as you can see below, he served in a baked pumpkin. As I was running down to the car to get my camera so I could snap a picture of said cute pumpkin, I was surprised by a visitor in his front yard. Sadly I couldn’t get a picture of the visitor, but it was a beautiful doe who was dining on some ivy. She wasn’t afraid of me at all…until I tried to capture her with the digital camera. Then, of course, she bounded into the street and darted up a neighbor’s walkway. Still amazing to me that you can find wildlife right in Hollywood.

For those of you who don’t want to barf from schmoopiness overload, skip this paragraph. But if you want a dose of über cuteness, you’ll enjoy the fact that on Saturday night when we were shopping for dinner at Whole Foods, Mr. W sneaked a chocolate advent calendar into our groceries for me. The bag boy picked it up and said, “Is this one giant piece of chocolate?” The check-out girl glanced over her shoulder, “No, it’s a calendar—you get a piece of chocolate every day.” “That’s not ours,” I said, thinking the customer before us had left it behind. “No I got that for you, pumpkin,” Mr. W said. Swoon.

Okay so now the bigger highlights that I would like some help decoding, Yeah, yeah, I know I’ve been tossing these at you for awhile but I have to wonder if there is actually any substance or meaning behind them. And, it’s cathartic for me to write about them.

I’m a big believer in positive energy and manifestation. I never read The Secret, but I’ve read plenty of other books that advocate the same premises, and when one of my friends suggested I make a “boy collage” before my 30th birthday, I was totally on board. Who doesn’t want to manifest their dream man with a collage?

Anywhoo, I’ve been telling Mr. W that my collage is an awful lot like him. Then, Friday night I decided to let him see for himself. I pulled it out and he chuckled as I pointed out all the things that were clear representations of him. Then he pointed to the big fat diamond Tiffany engagement ring picture I have on there and said, “And what’s that?" Uhhhh… “Nothing,” I suddenly felt very shy.

Reference number two came when we were talking about New Year’s resolutions and I was telling him how every year I make a long list of lofty goals and somehow, the same ones keep ending up on my lists over and over. And he said, “Like Get Married?” Ummm… “No this year it was just to tell someone I love them and mean it.” Of course, he then teased me and asked if I only dropped the L-bomb on him to check it off my list.

So, brilliant readers, tell me: Do these mean something new? Are they tests? Insignificant jokes? It seems that the frequency has increased a smidge and I cannot help but wonder if maybe there’s some happily ever after juju coming my way in the next 6 – 24 months.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

One-Two Punch

I am a fighter. It’s in my blood. My dad is a fighter, too. He once told his boss—to her face—that he didn’t like her. I think it made her respect him more.

Through all my years of fighting for what I believe in—whether it’s that my curfew should be extended to 1:00 or that global warming does exist or that George W. Bush should not be allowed within 100 yards of the White House—I’ve discovered that the people I put up my dukes most with are the people who listen.

I still have a lot of the same friends I grew up with, and I’ve learned over the years that there are a lot of fights just not worth having with them. We all have areas in which we refuse to budge. I know whose heels are dug in, and I just won’t fight as hard or as often with the people whose feet are buried.

But the ones who show flexibility…those are the ones I will battle with until the end. Because I’ve watched them see my side in the past. I’ve watched that light of understanding flicker in their eye. I know that if I explain and argue and point out facts or inconsistencies, these people will digest what I’ve presented and possibly change their minds.

So it is virtually impossible for me to quiet the fighter when it comes to this group. Many of them, I’m sure, wish they could be part of the other group. The folks I leave alone. To that, I say, it’s your own fault for being open-minded enough to listen to me in the past. I wish I could put down my sword and take off my armor, but I cannot do that when I know at some point, you may pick up your own sword and begin fighting by my side.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

No Guarantees?

Well, I made it through Blog Secret day! Now maybe I’ll finally stop singing “Secret Bloggers” to the tune of Atlantic Starr’s “Secret Lovers” in my head. I swear, it’s been in there for the last two weeks.

During the extensive reading I did on participating Blog Secret sites yesterday, I came across a quote that really resonated with me. It was written as a comment on a post about deciding between two lovers.

“People rarely change. Wait for the person you hope never changes.”

So simple and yet so profound.

I think it struck such a chord in me for a couple of reasons. One, being that I’m finally with someone who I don’t want to change. He is fantastic and amazing and treats me like no one has ever treated me before. If he stays the way he’s been for the last year indefinitely, I could be happy for eternity.

Well, maybe there is just one thing…and I don’t want a lecture about this—but it would be nice if he was 101% certain he wanted kids. I know, it’s big. But I feel confident that we’ll reach a resolution on it. And honestly, the thought of having children terrifies me right now anyway.

The second reason the quote had such an impact on me is that, in the last few years, I’ve watched a lot of people endure a lot of pain because they chose someone who they hoped would change. That, or the person they chose—or they themselves—changed.

So I guess that makes me wonder if the quote even has validity. Even if you wait for the person you hope never changes, do you run the risk of having the relationship fall apart because you evolve in some way and want to leave them behind? Or is it a matter of core values and priorities—which seem to be constants in all our lives?

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

BlogSecret: Love Squared

You may have noticed the BlogSecret that's been resting over in my right rail for a couple of weeks. The lovely Nilsa has organized a secret swap among 80 bloggers, and I am participating. You'll probably never know where my secret post ended up. But while you're wondering, please enjoy and comment on the guest secret post below...

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Is it possible to be in love with two people at once?

Yes. I speak from experience.

Being truly in love with two people at once is....

a grapefruit-sized pit in the stomach that I would not wish on my worst enemy.

endless nights spent shaking and sobbing over the thought of choosing the wrong one... or waiting too long to choose and ending up alone.

dreaming about "the other one" while laying in the arms of "the one."

breaking up with "the other one" who still holds a rather large place in your heart... and listening to this person cry and ask "why?"

feeling guilty for each kiss and embrace exchanged.

wondering why you were so blessed and yet cursed to find true love in two people simultaneously, while others may never find it once in an entire lifetime.

finding peace with your decision and building a life with "the one."

Sunday, November 16, 2008

My Big Fat Greek Weekend

Ah St. Louis in the fall. It's freaking freezing there. Mr. Wonderful warned me that this was why he moved to warmer climate. But I thought with my big coat and my cute new Calvin Klein boots, I'd be fine. Nope. Southern Californian blood is thin and I froze my butt off. But we had a great time. As you can see, we made it over to the arch. And all the leaves were finishing up their autumn color change, so all the driving was quite picturesque.

I ended up meeting the entire family and Mr. W's childhood best friend all on the first night, and they were wonderful. His nieces were precious; his sister and brother-in-law couldn't have been nicer; and his dad, aunt and uncle, and yaya made me feel like I was already part of the family. When we walked into the house, Yaya—who doesn't speak a whole lot of English—immediately started telling me how happy she was to meet me and kissing me on the cheek. I wanted to cry. She was absolutely adorable. It took everything in me not to fall into a hysterical mess today when we had to leave her. She made me miss my own Grandmas, and she was such a big part of Mr. W's life that I feel eternally grateful for her. I wanted to bring her home with us. Instead, I brought home a checkered apron and a crocheted shawl that she made and insisted I take with me.

In addition to experiencing the culture and cold weather along the Old Miss, I got to see firsthand how the Greek community lives. It was fascinating and extremely entertaining. We went to a special dinner party at the church Mr. W attended as a kid, and everyone seemed to know everyone. There was Greek food, lots of talking in half English/half Greek, and quite a bit of Greek dancing—which looks a lot like people marching arm-in-arm in a spiraling circle.

I didn't talk about politics or anything else on the taboo list, and I even did a shot of ouzo with Mr. W's uncle and brother-in-law. I may have an esophageal ulcer now, but it was all worth it.

I think it's safe to say I passed the test. And I hope I can go back to visit his sweet family and charming city (although I think I might need to try some different restaurants... ) The next stop may be Tampa to visit Mr. W's mom and stepdad. I'll be looking for advice. Perhaps some new pastel attire will be in order...

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Starting Off Year Two

For those of you wondering, Mr. W and I had a really nice anniversary night. We enjoyed a lovely bottle of Shiraz, and dined on prosciutto-wrapped dates, caprese salad, more prosciutto with some cheese and bread, and yet another plate of 3 different cheese varieties with bread. It was so delicious I went into goldfish mode and ate until my stomach almost exploded and I died. Mr. W and cheese are my two favorite things in life.

Afterwards, we went back to his place, changed into our footie pajamas, climbed into our separate bunkbeds, read books to each other and fell asleep with chocolate chip cookies in our mouths. That’s exactly the way it happened, Mom.

Tomorrow we leave for St. Louis.

Yep, it’s the big meeting-of-the-family weekend. I’m taking gifts for all the female relatives and have been trying my best to muster up some adorable pheromones to emit in their presence so they all love me. Keep your fingers crossed.

Mr. W has given me a long list of things I can’t talk about to the fam, including politics, online dating, farts, religion, sex, global warming, mammogram helmets, blogging and poop. I’m also not supposed to call it “Missoura.”

Apparently his grandma, who is Greek, doesn’t speak English all that well, which leads me to think it could be a little bit funny to say things like, “Yaya, did you know that the first time Mr. W told me he loved me it was because I said I’d put his balls in my mouth?”

He didn’t find this as funny as I did.

Worst-case scenario, I’ll go there and accidentally start talking about hugging trees and raising taxes, and how I met Mr. W online and I don’t go to church. Then I’ll accidentally clog the toilet. Best-case, I’ll be able to uphold the façade of manners and charm and they’ll send us home with some sort of male dowry and a family-wide blessing.

I’ll let you know how it goes.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

365 Days

About 13 months and 10 days ago, I met a boy online. He was cute and witty and smart. He lived in a part of town I love. He worked in a creative industry. He made me laugh. He enjoyed running. He liked U2.

But he was leaving town on vacation and didn’t want to meet me in person until he came back.

So I waited. For five and a half weeks.

We emailed each other daily, and the anticipation of seeing him face-to-face was like nothing I’d ever experienced. Those last several days were complete torture. But there was a part of me that was terrified of our first encounter—what if we didn’t get along? What if he had some big weird mole on his ear with hair growing out of it? What if he wore floodpants and t-shirts with tigers on them?

I had to work hard to keep myself in check as I got ready for the big night.

We agreed to meet for fondue at The Melting Pot. As usual, I was running a smidge late, so I called to tell him I was almost to the parking garage. As the phone rang on my end, I watched a guy on the sidewalk answer his.

“I think I can see you,” I said. “Turn around and look at the Prius behind you.”

Suddenly everything went into slow motion. He turned to look over his shoulder, his black coat framing his face, and all I could see was a dimple cupping the side of his smile. My stomach did a triple axle. He was hot.

I couldn’t park the car fast enough.

We got inside and when our waiter jokingly said, “First date?” Mr. Wonderful replied with, “No, we’ve been married five years.”

I couldn’t help but wonder if someday that would be true…

After dinner, we didn’t kiss goodnight. But he teased me the next day on IM, telling me he knew I wanted to. He could just tell.

Later that week, he came to my house to make dinner and dessert. Chicken Marsala and chocolate soufflé. If the incredible meal was a ploy to get that kiss, it worked. Halfway through showing me his vacation pictures, he pulled me into his tractor beam and convinced me to make out with him for the next several hours.

I knew after that, I was toast.

I worked hard over the next seven months, biting my tongue every time he did something cute. Every time he looked at me with those sleepy eyes. Or grabbed my hand and kissed it while he was driving. I bit my tongue, because all I wanted to do was yell, “I LOVE YOU!!”, and I knew that might frighten the pants off him. (Not that I mind him being sans pants…)

In May, I crumbled. And he followed.

Today marks our one-year anniversary. It’s not just a measure of the days we’ve spent together, but a benchmark for one of the happiest years of my life.

This wonderful guy has made me smile more; indulge in the pleasures of wine and food and adventure more; try things I might not have tried without him (like riding a motorcycle and eating inari). He has been a patient teacher and laid-back travel companion. An amazing boyfriend but also a true friend.

After 365 days of having him in my life, I cannot come to any conclusion other than this: I am the luckiest girl in the world.

Happy 1-year, sweetpea.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

The Beauty of Diversity

This morning, Mr. Wonderful and I went hiking in the Hollywood Hills. I’m sure I’ve mentioned it before, but I absolutely adore Hollywood. Its combination of grit and glamour. The duality of exclusiveness and total acceptance.

We passed all sorts of people as we made our way up to the Hollywood sign. Young folks, old folks, dog lovers, yuppies, hippies, photography students. It was a busy morning up the canyon. I had never seen the Hollywood sign so close before. I was extremely sad I didn’t have a camera on me to document what the giant letters looked like from the back.

After we made our way down the hill, I dropped off a clothing donation bag to the Gay and Lesbian Center where the faithful volunteers of the Food on Foot organization meet every Sunday. There again, I was greeted by a mixture of interesting characters.

At the Hollywood farmer’s market, we wove through crowds of people as colorful as the fruit and veggie stands flanking their path. Children danced to the street musicians. Young girls carried bouquets of wildflowers in their canvas bags and wheeled baskets. Smells of incense mingled with the perfume of organic oranges and freshly-baked bread.

So much to see. So much to sense.

It made me so appreciative that we’re not all the same.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Now, Back to Our Regular Programming

I'm not sure if this actually happened or if maybe it was all a dream. But I think last night, I was listening to some U2 on the way to Mr. Wonderful's house and this conversation occurred when I arrived.

Me: "I think I want to walk down the aisle to the beginning of City of Blinding Lights when I get married." (Notice I did not say "we," as to assume or put pressure on him.)

Him: "I'll let you have the DJ play whatever you want."

Me: "What?"

Him: "I'll let you have the DJ play whatever you want."

Me: [Has mild heart attack and pinches his butt as he walks up the stairs.]

Say What? What? What? Seriously? Seriously...

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Maybe Just One More

"Sins of lust" are punished in this country.

Yet greed, pride and gluttony are encouraged.

Why are those sins not discriminated against or made illegal?

This is why I do not understand religion.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

My One and Only Political Post

How fortunate all of us are today that we have the right to get out and vote. We have the right to make a huge choice—when there are so many things in life we cannot choose.

We cannot choose our gender. We cannot choose the family into which we are born. We cannot choose our race. We cannot choose our body type.

And we cannot choose our sexual orientation.

I believe that each of us is born with our sexual preference already determined. It is biological. And just as we should not be discriminated against for our gender or race, we should not be discriminated against for being hetero or homosexual.

“Let them have civil unions,” some say. Even our Presidential candidates champion this. “Marriage was meant to be between a man and a woman.”

But that kind of thinking just reminds me of some past “meants.” Like “women were meant to stay home with their kids,” and “only white men were meant to vote.”

Taking away gay couples’ right to marriage and replacing it with the right to civil unions feels a lot like “separate but equal” to me. It is no better than telling African Americans that the drinking fountain next door to the one for the white folks is just as good. That the schools for the black kids are just as good. Separate but equal.

It breaks my heart that our generation has to wade through another civil rights movement. It breaks my heart that people are afraid.

But it will warm my heart today when I vote No on Prop 8.

(AND - I'm super pissed that Google AdSense is serving Yes on 8 ads to my blog. Bastards...)

Monday, November 3, 2008

The Four-Minute Halloween Costume

Without further ado, I present to you: The Boobie Helmet...

Mr. Wonderful wore it for approximately four minutes, six seconds at the party Friday night. He claimed it obscured his vision too much. I think he was just being shy...which was fine by me. He did get some big fake boobs in his face, though...

And of course, a little chestie love from his pumpkin... She's so classy like that... I love his one finger pointing up like, whoa slow down! gimme a minute here!

I'm sorry I could not show a head-on picture of him. I have been asked to protect his identity so that he is not mobbed for autographs when he's walking down the street. Let's just say he's so cute that three or four people came up to him throughout the night and said, "Dr. McDreamy?!" One girl even insisted on having her picture taken with him. I threw her into the neighbor's ivy.

Oh, and if you were wondering, my physical went great. He says I'm in perfect health. Just kidding, Mom...