Happiness is Change, But I'm Not Happy About This

I'm never happy.

That is, I'm always pushing for more. I want more. I want everything in my life to be better in all ways, at all times. I lay out the potential paths my life can take and examine them, constantly. Friends can confirm: I've thought about moving across the country, taking up any number of hobbies (aerial silks, calligraphy, rowing, mountain climbing), and (always) traveling, all in the pursuit of happiness.

I crave change, and my personality demands that I am always growing, stretching, aspiring to be greater.

So people that come into my life and strip into that layer? Those who manage to get close enough to me that I reveal that side of myself? They don't always have it very easy.

So if change is the constant, whose and what can't I accept? One of my first loves': my city. 


A lot of folks are now saying they "Believe in Atlanta."

But for me, if that means the winds of change result in a Starbucks and Ann Taylor Loft on every street corner, a continually skyrocketing rental market, and an influx of the button-up-shirted brotherhood, I kindly decline. Not interested. That's not a future I can believe in.

One thing I've struggled to find and both yearned to cultivate here are the little pockets of subculture in town. What happens when we move into a phase of wild over-gentrification? Will that automatically take us into a (not-so-wild) period of sameness? And I don't mean in the 2050 new breed of human way.

When the slaughterhouse-cum-apartment-cum-party loft-cum-S&M club on the Westside went through a major facelift, I was furious. The backdrop for wild rooftop fetes, pop-up shows for friends' bands, and wild nights of indoor pyrotechnics was transformed into a place to purchase $1200 chairs. To play bocce ball and drink only while wearing a popped collar.

But given time, I got over it. 

But this is on a bigger scale. 

There's change a'comin. And especially if the more weird, the more cherished cultural oddities, my favorite local and singular businesses are quietly snuffed out, then I'm out.

I'm never happy with the status quo, being stagnant, no. But the swift change from the city I love and have gotten to know intimately to something new and unrecognizable? I just want to keep it weird, here.

Posted on May 28, 2014 and filed under Culture.

Eating My Feelings: A List Particular to This Week

Photo from  eat.drink.repeat.

Eight Weeks of Planning Comes to A Conclusion at A Main Event

Determine you are too busy juggling multiple phone calls and headsets and clipboards to sit and eat like a respectable adult. Resort to handheld foods only: chocolate chip cookies; single raspberries quietly plucked from the top of the fruit arrangement; tortilla chips stealthily dipped into the crab dip. Marinate with bottomless red wine. Finish with Excedrin and Pepto Bismol nightcap.

Nursing the Wrath of Grapes: Post-Event, Pre-Office Duty

Squint through the migraine fog using only the glow from your iPhone to navigate to kitchen. Eat Cheez-its from the box by the handful. Wake up in the morning, hand still in the box.

Your Best Friend is Leaving Your Company for His Dream Job

Insist on multiple goodbyes, prolonging the departure for as long as possible. At the first goodbye luncheon, order a giant burger, stare into the sun as you do the best you can with your so-happy-for-you face. Eat the entire thing, or don't. It doesn't matter anyway.

At the final goodbye lunch, your very last coworking outing, order another giant burger. Actually eat the entire thing, listlessly wonder why your particular sandwich arrived without pickles. Feel suddenly bereft. No pickles. No more best colleague. What's the point?

Following A Completely Unprovoked Crying Jag (You Never Cry, Like A Man)

Salty caramel gelato, with a healthy infusion of chocolate caramel truffles, soaked in your favorite bourbon. Three scoops. One shot.

Forget Your Best Friend of 16 Years's Birthday and Feel Like a Total Shit

Order the healthiest salad on the menu. Scratch that. Order the most cheese laden item on the menu. To hell with it, have the salad too. Bring fork to face, repeat until her sadface subsides, your guilt riding along with it.

Quietly resolve to make reservations for a much fancier birthday dinner next week. Whereupon you order much the same thing, quantifying the scale of your apology with how much dairy you dare consume.

Go home alone, without dessert, you don't deserve it.

Posted on May 22, 2014 and filed under Food.

100 Days of Maybes

"One of my favorite things about you is your fear of commitment."

Honestly? Being single really suited me. At the height of my singledom, I was full of energy, awake at all hours, excited to be alive; my liver and I had become very close, developing the type of interdependence alcoholics only dream of; and my confidence was in full bloom--as a woman on the prowl, any man was on the table.

Suited. Past tense.

As a proven serial monogamist, I had to know this carefree phase of my life couldn't last.


Something changed. An almost imperceptible shift. Something shifted slightly off-kilter. Teetered off-balance.

My non-relationship phased. The phase you just stumble upon on your first vacation together. When you’re trapped together in a car, when you’re stuck with the other person for an ungodly period of time.

He was grumpy. Battery dead, unable to recharge for days on end.

And there it was. That glimpse of ugly when you see behind someone’s mask for the first time. When you finally slip and forget to be the best version of yourself. When you suddenly act out as your worst self.

And in that moment, you might realize that special somebody might actually be

a loose cannon

or a raging alcoholic

or unusually violent

or unapologetically selfish.

(Things we all are in small measures, and at best, only in short moments.)

I must have gasped when I saw it, such a stark reveal. And since, I felt like we finally arrived. We are now at a pivot point. Yet another crossroads. 

But unlike everything else in my life, I don’t feel like I have a say in this destiny -- I'm in an adventure story with a mind of its own. I’m watching, patiently waiting to see what happens next.

Just closing my eyes and hoping for the best.

Posted on May 13, 2014 and filed under Dating.

Reason #5

Here's the lesson: Don't talk so much. 

 

Via text, to a cute guy I'd met, hung out with once over the course of an evening. The next day, I couldn't tell if he was just being cordial, so I tried to hint I wanted to see him again.

Me:  Yeah, sometimes I am too friendly and just talk at people. I can't tell if they're interested or just being nice. So. That.

Him:  No worries, can't help being yourself.


So (literally) Undateable.

Posted on May 12, 2014 and filed under Dating.

The Myth of the Cool Girl

"Dip a toe, don't fall in," he warned me.

Stupidly, I dove in head first.


I noticed the change slowly, over time. 

The first time we made loose plans, I had a contingency plan up my sleeve. 

I don't care if he doesn't call. I have something else to do.

When he actually did, I was pleased and surprised. Little pings of excitement traveled up my spine.


I really thought, this time, it's casual. I'm not playing it cool. I am cool. I am the Cool Girl.

Yes, the Cool Girl. That rare creature that can drink a man under the table, that doesn't care if you don't call her back, the one that doesn't ever nag about having the "talk." She just wants to have fun. She's fun. She's the Cool Girl. She does exist, because I am her and she is me.


At first, I remained a safe distance away. Arm's length. Just close enough I could squint and size up this person making a slow steady entrance into my life.

Eventually I caved and moved a little closer, bridging the distance to a side-hug.

Then he surprised me with an intense desire for physical proximity. Same side of booth, one arm around my waist, mouth close to my ear, entire conversations held nose-to-nose kind of close. I tried to remain coy, be the cool girl.

I was also surprised to wake up to forehead kisses, delivered eyes-closed, paired with a huge grin. Unwavering eye contact, under which I blushed and would have to break with a shy, "What?"

To which he would always respond, "Oh nothing. Just you."

To which I would respond with a deeper blush, "Oh."


"I think we're quickly approaching 'The Talk.' I don't know what to do. The thought of having someone, anyone be my boyfriend is absolutely petrifying. I don't think I can do this."

"You'll be fine. It will be totally fine."

"I'm concerned. I'm not ready not ready not ready...but I like where it's going. I don't know what to do."


Side-hug quickly elevates into Bursting With Feelings. I can't hold the words back. But I bite my tongue when the State of the Union inevitably occurs.

"You go first," tears streaming down my face, dreading what is about to happen.

"I'm really falling for you," he says, almost inaudibly, voice cracking.

I burst into a full-on cry as I launch into my self-sabotage speech, "I really like you, but I don't know if we can reconcile all of these issues, I don't know if I can feel good about it."

I proceed to laundry list said issues, attacking every item from a con side of a pro/con list, still crying.

He interrupts me, pulls me in closer than a side hug. Wipes away the tears, reassures me, "We don't have to decide this right now."

Relieved, grateful, I hiccup and pull him in for a kiss.


The 13th time we make loose plans, I don't bother thinking about a back up plan.

He called earlier, "I just want to see you. I'm going to see you!" echoing through my mind.

I let him know I am out the door, on my way. He doesn't pick up, but I assume, so must he, so I'll see him there.

He isn't there. He doesn't show up all night. I spend the evening drinking too much bourbon and catching up with someone I had sworn to erase from my life. I swallow my disappointment. That's what the Cool Girl would do.


"Are we having a fight? Are you mad?"

"I mean, you essentially stood me up. It's common courtesy to let somebody know if you're not going to show up if you make plans. I'm not mad. I know to pick my battles."


We return to neutral. No longer nose-to-nose, but not quite back at arm's length. I wriggle a little further apart, not mad, but hurt, still stinging. A little more guarded, more scared than ever.

He is still all-in. Tunnels through my reservations to pull me in close again. I relent. 

I simultaneously feel myself relaxing into him and feel my fight-or-flight instincts kick in. I'm ruffled, but hooked. Cool Girl be damned.


The 21st time we make loose plans, I am a domestic whirlwind. The house is spotless, snacks are stocked, my mood is high, and I'm prepared for a full evening of Eskimo kisses, blanket snuggles, and unreserved repeated proclamations of "I really like you."

I wait 7 hours. He doesn't show up.

"Where are you?"

"I'm too tired. I'm not coming."

I am slack jawed on the phone, reduced to The Girl Who Laid in Wait for a Man.

"Remember the time when I wasn't mad? I am mad. I want to talk about this. We will probably have a fight."

I say it calmly, evenly, trying not to hiss or spit.

Said fight doesn't happen over the phone, as body language, facial expression, and gestures we both agree are key in communication. I assume we will reconvene in person.


The next evening, I receive a curt text message. Though it's short in length, I can read between the lines.

I always cry at endings.

Posted on April 7, 2014 and filed under Dating.

The Darndest Things

I read this Gawker article several weeks ago, and accidentally stayed up ridiculously late reading up on the art of picking up. As in women.

It was pretty fascinating, the same way anything describable as a "trainwreck" is fascinating.

So when I thought about things that have been said to me in person, I think I have been lucky in that I have never crossed paths with any of these bozos.

Here's a sampling, and possibly, now that it's spring, we'll have more.


I Just Wanna Dance With Somebody

When happening upon me on the dance floor, which I tend to own. Apparently I only exude pure joy when dancing.

"You're the happiest person alive. I have to dance with you."

Are You... Okay?

At that awkward moment at the end of a date, where I was trying to use my body language to ask, "Are you going to kiss me?" Instead, I must be twitchy and weirdly winky while maintaining heavy eye contact (ahem, Undateable).

"You have a lot of... facial expressions. You're very expressive." 

(Kiss received, so not a total loss.)

Modern Day Poet Society

At the bar, I ask, "So, what do you do?"

"For work? What a boring question. In life? I am a philosopher and a poet."

I eye his suspenders and bow tie and quietly agree.

Wait, So Is This a Date?

Several dates into a past relationship, when talking about the first time we ever spent time together. We went to see a movie.

"I knew it probably wasn't a date that night, but I couldn't stop thinking, Must. Touch. Knee. I'm glad it worked out."

On Having a Specific Haircut

During the course of an evening while talking to a handsome stranger, I admit, "I was really only supposed to talk to you because my friend thought you were cute. But then she got too shy when I introduced you."

"Oh really? I noticed you right away. Your bangs."

(I blushed. That man deserves a prize, as that's hard to do.)

Dude, Dude

I was feeling playful and approached a tall, freckled, sweater-vested, bow-tied guy one night on the dance floor.

"Dance with me!"

"Dude, I can't!"

"...What? Why not?"

"Dude, you're too cute. Cute girls don't talk to me."

(How can this be simultaneously so endearing but so self-deprecating? I danced at him until he broke into a shy smile.)

Smells Like Jiners Spirit

Somebody Special, not so long ago.

"At work, somebody walked by wearing your perfume. I had to stop and sniff sniff look around to make sure it wasn't you. The only person there was just some other girl. Sigh."

Kiss Me, You Fool

In that really intense moment, after we had talked for hours, eyes locked, electricity in the air. 

(Are you going to kiss me? Are we even flirting right now?)

He pauses in conversation.

"Oh, you. Come here."

I bridge the three feet between us, smile.

He pauses.

"Wait. Are you going to write about this on your blog?"


Men are adorable. I love them all.

Posted on March 25, 2014 and filed under Dating.

If I'm Being Totally Honest

If you tell the truth you don’t have to remember anything.
— Mark Twain

If I had to admit what are my weaknesses, interview style:

Poor sense of direction. Geography is not my strong suit. I have a terrible sense of intuition when taking spontaneous journeys or even when running errands. Before embarking on a round of errand-running, I make a list of all the things I need to do, places I need to go, items I need to purchase, and map out a route with the aid of my computer and common sense (groceries last, because perishables!).

Impatience. I tend to mobilize very quickly. If I've set out to go somewhere, do something, I'm ready to go. I don't like waiting on others to drag their feet. Also related to this: when empowered to do so, I am a steadfast decisionmaker. It's not that I  make snap judgments. Sometimes people become impatient with me in turn because it seems I am being indecisive. Quite the opposite. If I am quiet and thoughtful for a spell, I'm actually laying out all of the permutations, consequences, outcomes and selecting the very best one. Let's call it efficient.

Honesty. This is my Achilles' heel. I still haven't figured out if it was my upbringing (is it cultural?) or something ingrained in my personality that makes me so forthcoming. Blunt, rather. I've derailed conversations with a single keen, cutting observation. Some people don't bat an eye. Some are visibly ruffled. Some sputter, and inform me, "Look, people aren't used to being told things they've never realized about themselves."

I've been known to spout, at strangers, "You're really good looking." For normal people, this would result in embarrassment. For me, it's just a passing thought. "Did you know that your face is aesthetically pleasing?"

And so, considering, this next story doesn't seem totally unusual, not at first.


Some weeks ago, I walked into a coffee shop, disheveled and unkempt, undone from the night before, out on the town. Hangover be damned, I was out to finally make the acquaintance of someone new.

Related to said damned hangover, I was on a round of errands to pick up the pieces from my wild night. I literally lost my shit that night--the first stop was the bar, as both my jacket and wallet were missing from the night before. Then perhaps a coffee, perhaps to run into a new friend, but only if I was able to pay for it with the contents of a found wallet.

As some of you following my story clearly know, OkCupid wasn't working out. Not at all. But after totally closing that chapter of my dating life, I had handpicked one single somebody to continue talking to. Because I sensed that we were the same brand of weird, and that's a special and rare occurrence. I wanted to materialize this person from the Internet and into my life, to fold into my weekend plans, to share pitchers of beer on a patio and people watch with, to do strictly platonic dude things with.

Single Somebody and I had connected my very first few days on the service. I remember telling my Main Squeeze, "Oh! I like somebody. Let us scrutinize his online dating profile together." We messaged sporadically for weeks, both of us floating in and out of conversation. Plans to meet never quite solidify. I closed my account not even a month later. We continued the same pattern via text message. Plans still never quite solidify. Three months eventually pass.

He mentions where he will be for some hours Saturday following The Night I Literally Lost My Shit. My wallet goes from missing to found. Perhaps a coffee turns into definitely a coffee, plans laid, solidified. Because, three months is a long time to wait for somebody who typically makes a plan and is out the door to execute said plan in five minutes (i.e. me).

I have no qualms about meeting new people. In fact, I always look forward to bringing more good people into my life. But as I pulled up to the rendezvous point, my palms were sweating. I may have even had butterflies. No explanation, since there was no expectation for this meeting.

When I walked in, and said hello, and finally made eye contact with him, I knew all notions of just friends, just drinking buddies were a joke. Much like my appearance that day. My hands started shaking. I pretended they weren't, and launched into a we've-known-each-other-forever tone of voice, avoiding small talk. And then immediately slip up.

"You're much better looking in real life."

His mouth formed the shape of an "o."

He decided to hang out with me anyway.

Posted on March 19, 2014 and filed under Dating.

The (Dying) Art of Conversation

DiningDead.jpg

I was having lunch by myself last week, sitting next to two men (who I inadvertently eavesdropped on) having the most boring conversation ever. I would easily say it was also the least successful conversation ever. Each person was just waiting for their turn to talk at the other, neither caring or hearing what the other was saying. 

It made me feel so sad for them.

Because my lunches are so much more amazing than theirs. Because I believe strongly that if I am doing anything, even the most basic of activities, it sure as hell is going to be interesting. Sparkling, vibrant, fantastic. Always. Boring is not an option. Grumpy and mundane? Neither survive in my world.

So I could't help but reflect on the art of conversation, and where we are now with the advent of messaging substitutes for face-to-face interactions. Are we really reduced to a text message culture? Are SnapChats and Facebook updates as good as the real thing?

I wouldn't say so, but I wouldn't be surprised if my peers disagreed.

Because there's something really satisfying for me in peeling past all the layers of a person and really getting into the meat of their personality. Stripping through the ego, asking the right questions to get behind the gate, figuring out just how to make someone new smile, or blush, or laugh. (When you get the full body belly laugh, that's how you know you're in.)

I'm flabbergasted at the idea of spending leisure time with someone who is a dreadful conversationalist. Go read a book. Play some music. Watch that hit drama. Then come back to me with something to talk about.

Posted on March 13, 2014 and filed under Dating, Film.