When You Listen

It’s easy to ignore especially since it’s nearly impossible to detect unless you let yourself escape away with it. You can tune it out and pretend that you don’t hear the gentle, nudging — maybe even nagging — rhythm it beats. It’s simple enough to just go on about your day and all of the errands and tasks that define those 24-hours, trying so hard to focus on the car horns and the street signs, the dance of the traffic lights and the unfamiliar faces that pass.

But then it gets a little louder.

It gains momentum and tries different tactics to steal away your attention, oftentimes without you even realizing its sheer force and determination. You can’t adequately describe what exactly it is. Even with your best attempts, the words don’t come out the right way and your friends just can’t wrap their brain around this alluding, and perhaps deluding concept that you seem so fascinated by. You explain and you examine, you question and dissect your options, hoping that by some pro-con list or magical realization that you’ll find a way out. You’ll discover the easiest path to take you the easiest way, and you’ll never have to step up to the plate and battle that thing that’s ringing in your ears.

That thing that for whatever reason feels a lot like an intuition.

That feels eerily like a voice telling you to do something that you can’t really explain. It’s the same irritating, pesky feeling that makes you do things that make you uncomfortable and explore emotions that you’d rather hide away where they’re safe from any harm.

But then, if you’re anything like me, you start singing that song of urgency and you follow along the notes until it takes you to the very spot in the middle of Times Square that not only makes your skin crawl but puts you so far out of your warm-and-fuzzy-mode that you’d basically do anything if you could just run far, far away, back uptown to your apartment. With your dog.

So there I was, standing in a room of strangers at a trendy-ish bar in midtown, refraining from plugging my ears from the raging DJ’s awful taste, not knowing one single person, and yet, knowing I was meant to go to this party. It was a fundraiser for a new charity in New York and from the moment I saw the invite on Facebook, something — that silly something — told me that I had to go.

When I started bringing up the Friday-night event to my friends, it seemed like every last person I knew on this island couldn’t attend: “I’m sorry, I’m out-of-town!” “Oh, I’m not feeling good. I might be able to do it, I’ll get back to you.” “I’m going to stay in tonight and be lazy, have fun!” “It’s in Times Square? Sorry, just can’t handle it.” “I have plans with my boyfriend that I can’t break, miss you!”

Ugh. So, I flew solo, just as that intuition instructed.

Now, why am I supposed to be here? I wondered while making small talk with another small town girl from the South over a $5 glass of champagne. She was talking about dating in the city and seeking my “expert” advice while pointing out men that looked like celebrities. That one looks like Ross from FRIENDS! And that dude by the bar looks like Channing Tatum, doesn’t he? Maybe a little? She was quirky and sweet enough, but I knew it wasn’t her that I was supposed to meet.

Or was I supposed to meet anyone? I considered. Maybe my mission this evening was to join yet another non-profit — since I can’t seem to refuse to help anyone — and give just a bit more of my free time to another cause who needs me. But that’s not it, I told myself as I signed up to join the marketing committee, mentally calculating how in the world I was going to make this work with my already jam-packed schedule. 

I decided to give the party another hour while I mingled and moved about, desperately trying to find the source of this lingering voice that made me come to the party to begin with. But the minutes came and they ended, and I was still uncertain of why exactly I was drawn to this establishment, and I started to doubt my ability to distinguish between intuition and restlessness. As I started to make my way to the front, I started to lose the voice I had heard all week, and I decided that maybe, my imagination was just getting the best of me. Or was it my ever-hopeful heart?

After closing my tab and unchecking my coat, I glanced at my phone to see a number that only started texting me the day before. The number, those 10 unsaved digits that meant really nothing to me, wanted to buy me a drink on the Upper West Side. Tonight. Like in an hour.

Then suddenly the voice was back. It just had the time frame all off. And the actual location. But it returned with more clarity. It wasn’t screaming or demanding and it didn’t need any words, I already knew its directions: goJust say yes. Without hesitation, I agreed. I listened.

And you know what happens when you listen? You get rewarded for following your heart and trusting in its timing and its patience. When you listen… you sometimes get lucky enough to meet someone who really, truly, for the first time in a very long time, could be… someone.

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Happy & Healthy Love

In an effort to save money, I enjoyed a night in with M, splitting beers and dishes from Brother Jimmy’s. Though I have a TV, it’s in the living room where an air conditioner is not, so Hulu won over any real-time attraction. We watched an assortment of stuff -Grey’s, a special on the Columbine shootings, music videos from the 90′s (remember S Club 7 and Britney, pre-crazy?), and at last, one of M’s favorites, The Newlyweds.

I used to watch Jess & Nick pretty regularly, captivated by their fairytale-like wedding and just the idea of how a couple fairs after joining their lives together. At the time, I wanted to look just like Mrs. Simpson-Lachey and well, Nick was tall and fit, a handsome dude who apparently, was marriage-material too. I was too young, I think to realize how incredibly toxic and dysfunctional their relationship really was.

From episode one, it was evident that not only did they not know how to communicate, but that they led their day-to-day lives differently. He was super-duper-OCD clean, she had lived a life of luxury since 14, never having to fend for herself. He believed his wife should do his laundry and keep the house tidy without a maid, even if they could defiantly afford one, and she didn’t even know how to toss out after 10-day old flowers. She had jealously issues that were rather normal, but she didn’t know how to handle them and often smothered him when space would have cleared up the tension. She whined for attention, he refused to give it to her. He didn’t listen, continuously put her down, and instead of stating how he felt, he walked away and shut down.

Watching this now, after having relationships that were quite similar, my wedded-bliss image of one of my favorite teeny-bopper couples was shattered. I was flabbergasted - how did I not see how poorly their relationship functioned? Why had I been so sad when news broke that they parted ways? Why did it come as such a surprise for me?

They were unlike any other couple that just couldn’t make it work. Simpson was 22 when she married, Lachey was 29, and while I’m not one to base the success or failure of any relationship on an age difference (Mr. P and I are eight years apart), Jess didn’t know herself well enough to agree to marriage. And Nick? He treated her like a child and put her down without taking any of her history into consideration. Sure she was 22, but she signed a record deal at 14 – placing her in the lap of luxury and stardom for all of her adult life.

I’m passing judgment of course – I don’t know them personally and no one except for them can testify to what went wrong after three years of marriage, but watching it now further proved to me how easy it is to fall in love with the idea of love. Of course, there are many splendid things about loving someone and having them return the intoxicating favor. Having the constant support, the sweet reminders of affection and having someone send you good-night text message is wonderful. It makes you feel good, it makes you want to make them happy, and it gives you hope for a couple-oriented future.

But relationships are more than that. They require a lot of work, more patience than anyone has, and the ability to forgive and forget quickly, and even when you’re angry or upset, kiss someone good-night with sincerity. They require understanding and consistent, constant communication, and also having enough faith in your partner to give them space when they need it. They demand compromise and two people who are healthy on their own, happy by themselves, but healthier and happier together. They aren’t always fun and you don’t always adore that person, they don’t always give you what you need and they forget what you want. People are selfish and insecure, immature and annoying – but that’s what makes us human, that’s what makes us children who are learning the best way to lead our lives. And when you decide to go about it with someone else, you have to remember that they’re human too.

So falling in love with love – with this idea that love cures all things, can stand any test of time, any argument, any difference or disagreement – well folks, it’s bullshit. Sometimes it simply doesn’t work. Sometimes there can be no way to resolve what sets you apart and even when it’s tough to swallow, deciding to separate can be the thing that makes you healthier and your partner happier.

Some love – most love – isn’t meant to stand the test of time. You’re supposed to learn how to love, learn how to be in a relationship, learn how to be someone’s companion. And it’s not until you stop falling in love with love, admiring couples from afar without knowing the story behind their cohesion, do you learn that the best of love, the truest of all partnerships, has nothing to do with being madly, passionately in love or with the best story or incredible sex.

Instead, it’s about the love where more importantly than anything else, you love the person for who they are, not how they make you feel. Not because they are handsome and tall, not because they are charming or good arm candy. But because they are themselves and if you weren’t in love with them, you’d still pick them as your friend. After all, in time, you realize the day-to-day is far more important than romance, more important than those butterflies, more important than that fancy wedding. Those things fade, along with looks and chiseled bodies and chins, but having someone you can sit on the couch with and talk about nothing and still be happy – that’s a healthy love.

Daily Gratitude: Today, I’m thankful that I’m inside instead of out in this blistering heat. 

 

No Almost About It

Similar to the dating scene in New York, when you find something that’s incredibly tasty, surprisingly no-hassle, and relatively inexpensive in the city – you keep coming back for more. Such is the story of Corner Bistro.

Tucked away in the West Village at West 4th and Jane, Corner Bistro is the definition of a hole-in-the-wall joint. It’s dark, even mid-day, only accepts cash, and you’re lucky if your waiter does more than grumble at you. It is always, always packed – as it should be. Out of any burger I’ve had in my life, it is the absolute best. It even beats my dad’s – and to pin the olive on top of the bun, their signature burger is a mere $7.

When I discovered this well-known, not-so-hot spot, I instantly became hooked. A week or so ago, when I found myself with a craving for their menu, I gathered three friends and caught the train downtown. A few Blue Moons, three orders of burgers and fries, and an hour worth of catching up later, my friend J decided the next destination would have to be a gay bar less than ten mini-village blocks away.

Happily filled with booze and burgers, the crew trotted toward a hidden address, bumping into Sarah Jessica Parker along the way. While we were appropriately star-struck, it didn’t last long – this is New York after all. If you didn’t pass a celebrity here or there, then you obviously are not going out enough and spending far too much time in your far too small apartment. On the way, we stopped by a pet store to admire the $1,000 frenchies, the $1,200 Cock-a-Poos or Bossi-Poos or Cava-Poos, and then finally made it to the one place to admire the trendiest of all – the Village Drag Queen. With eyelashes curled to the 9′s, liner that goes on for miles, and a push-up that pushes whatever-that-is higher than my ladies are resting – this Mr/Ms was a force to be reckoned with.

Not to mention, s/he was the Bingo keeper. Yes, gay bar bingo. Apparently, sweets, it is the newest thing.

It is also a serious game, even if the commentator walks around flirting with anyone who doesn’t have a vagina, which luckily for him/her is the majority of those in attendance. When I casually asked a neon-wearing gaggle of gay men where to get Bingo stampers, they promptly informed me they brought their own and that I could find golf pencils on my table. Oh, well excuse me  - I thought i looked pretty slammin’ in my blue sweater dress and heels, but apparently not. At least in terms of gay bingo, anyways.

My group pitched in together and bought three cards to split amongst the four of us. We decided if we happened to win the $1,300 jackpot, we’d split it evenly. A few days before, I had given in to the pleas of one of my closest friends to watch The Secret, which is great for giggles, if you feel inclined. While I think the message is true- tell the universe what you want, believe you’ll get it, and you will – the documentary was not well-done. With beer and three mimosas swirling in my tummy thus making my lips a little looser, I encouraged my friends to believe we would win the money. I figured if I’m going to lead my life by a secret I already knew, why not let my friends in on it, too? In my early evening haze, it seemed like a strategic approach to gay bingo.

Twenty minutes later, we were one little box away from winning. By this time, I had told them my reasoning and all of us were suddenly on board, convinced that by having faith, we suddenly had a super weapon against the rest of the players. We had intentionally placed the universe on our side. As if we were waiting to meet our unborn child or on that phone call, offering us our dream job, we lingered on the bingo board, each gripping our inadequate pencils and drinks eagerly.

And then Mr/Ms Village Drag Queen called B9. A man with a high-pitched voice and a blue stamper screamed “Bingo!” We needed B8. We almost won. We almost had the universe at our fingertips.

But what good is almost? The Southern saying, after all, says almost only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades. There are rare  things in life where not hitting the goal, but getting close to it, is just as powerful as reaching it.

In thinking about our loss, I considered all of the things I’ve experienced that were best defined by almost. Mr. Idea was almost the right guy for me, minus a few vastly important characteristics and interests. I almost had that national freelancing gig at a consumer publication, but my tone wasn’t right for the mag. I almost fell asleep at midnight, at one, at two, but couldn’t stop stressing out from my overflowing to-do list. I almost ran five miles, but I gave out at 4.8 out of nothing but utter boredom. I almost achieved that toe curling orgasm, but couldn’t get right there, right where I needed to be.

Almost: It is almost worse than failing in the first place because you know how near you were, and yet, so terribly far away. And yet, it is a word I use constantly.

“Yes, I almost went to that show, but…” “Oh, I almost went out with him, but…” “Well, I almost got that byline, but…” “I almost signed up for that race, but…” “I almost came home early, but…” “I almost initiated The Talk, but…”

Almost, but what? Is almost an excuse or something that we actually experience? If something doesn’t work out, if we don’t sincerely care to do something, if something is not quite what we want, if something is not within reach – then it doesn’t work out, we don’t do it, we don’t have what we want, and we don’t reach it.

It isn’t a matter of almost, it is a matter of fact.

But it doesn’t mean almost doesn’t count – in fact, I’d like to think it always does. Thinking about almost is a way to realize our worth and what we’re capable of. If we just about got there, if we just about found the right person, if we were the forerunner for a great Bingo board win, if we knew we probably could have gone longer and harder – then we know what we’re made of. We know and we believe what’s inside of us – because if we can just about get there, one day, we can definitely get there. No almost about it.

(That is, as long as we have a fancy stampy thing)

For the Luck of a Cupcake

Once upon New York last night, I went to an Irish pub in midtown.

Somehow, some of the best places to go in the city are unknown establishments who entertain great prices and even better company. The only way to find such hidden locations is to stumble upon them, unexpectedly and without scouting the best, the trendiest, or the hippest places listed on New York magazine’s picks of the week. For my friend Cat and I, who simply wanted a glass to celebrate the fact it was almost Friday, a tucked away bar on 54th and 7th, seemed to do the trick.

After attending an event where champagne, celebrities, and mini-burgers were plenty, we braved the winter and ice with cupcakes-to-go in tow. Never ones to shy away from foreign affairs, when we noticed shamrocks and happy hour specials, we gleefully agreed to grab a glass (or two) at this unknown pot-of-possible-gold that would free us from the unbearable cold.

Luckily, we found seats to give our high-heeled legs a rest and to even more of a surprise, an authentic Irish man with pretty blue eyes and a crooked smile, greeted us merrily. Me being the undeinable flirt and confident lady I am, requested a Merlot and Cat decided upon her signature drink, a ginger ale and vodka. Partly because it was his duty and mostly because he found my panty-hosed limbs sexy, this could-be leprechaun watched me as I sipped my vino while he paced the bar, waiting on an opportunity to integrate me.

That chance came when he so cleverly asked, “If you give me what’s in that box, the drinks are free.” Not one to submit to plays-on-words or pickup lines, I let him know the cupcakes in my “box” were mine, and I’d be damned if he had one of my precious baked goods. After all, I did decorate them myself.

He looked disappointed, but still took the round on himself.

Still not cured from some of my love addict qualities, I decided a sly 20-question game wouldn’t be too ridiculous. Perhaps, I’d be super smooth about the whole see-if-you-meet-my-non-negotiables test and he wouldn’t even notice my journalist attributes. Even amidst my random questions while he was serving the other patrons, he always made a point to stop by and see how we were doing. And of course, to give the rhyme to my latest riddle. Once we were half-way finished with our first drinks of the evening, the Irish man decided to start asking questions for himself.

In a cupcake and Merlot haze, I somehow managed to tell him I was not only an editor and a writer, but a blogger about the three words every man seems to be intrigued by: love, dating, and sex. Or possibly, just the latter.

Suddenly, this man was full of perplexities himself – what do you write about? Do you call guys out for being bad in bed? Do you talk about your own experiences or just the general experience of being a single person? Have you ever had sex with a man who wasn’t American? Would you?

Maybe it was his rather cute dimples, the insanely sexy accent or the fact he has a tongue piercing (oh where the mind will go…) – but I replied with class to each question, never lying, never exaggerating, but only answering with as much dignity as I could. Once he seemed satisfied with my words and I gave him the URL to the site, I asked him what brought him to New York, my favorite destination on the planet.

With a michevous grin, he simply said, “Well, my wife.

Flabbergasted and attempting not to show it, my friend and I swallowed our sip, turned to one another, and strategically raised an eyebrow. I smiled and said, “How lovely. Now, what does she do?” He told us she was in fashion but didn’t get specific, and thus, I became suspicious. He couldn’t sincerely be married – he was far to charming, far to susceptible to blushing when he looked my way, and too, well, available to be…. unavailable. After all, I do know what a Mr. Unavailable looks like – maybe a little too well. Not to mention – he wasn’t wearing a ring and his fellow co-workers were smirking while toasting.

Determined to get to the root of the lie I was convinced he was telling, I questioned: “Well, I’m in magazines and pretty familiar with the fashion industry. Who does she work for? What does she do?” As his Irish cheeks started to match my red coat, he stuttered, “She, uh, designs clothes. Ya know? She cuts them out.” Instantly catching on to his trick, Cat and I grinned towards each other and waited for the moment where this man, in his many mysterious ways, admitted he wasn’t in fact married, but as single as a New York late 20-something male gets.

Impressed with my ability to call him out on a game I’m sure he’s played many times, he filled up my wine glass (much to the dismay of my perfectly-planned-out self’s ways) and asked if I loved my city and if I was satisfied with my life. Becoming more and more tipsy and less and less inhibited, I started not only giving him The Look, but accepting the red, red, wine he was pouring, and the more personal questions he was proposing.

I wasn’t assured he was exactly my type – or at least the sort of man I usually agreed to date. From what I could tell from his location behind the bar, he wasn’t very tall, but taller than me. He obviously didn’t have an typical career, but was living by the hours of drinking and partying as a bartender (this was later soldified, when I asked him what else he did and he responded with, “This.”). And of course, I’ve never actually been serious with an European or anyone from another country, though I’ve always been romanced by the idea of courting one.

With this Irishman, nothing was certain and without knowing much about him – anything seemed plausible. Due to his charms, his careful way of never letting my drink be less than half-empty, his clever wit, and piercing blue eyes – I decided he’d be Mr. Maybe. He could be my type, or not. His accent could make my panties drop, or not. Our shared admiration for baked goods could be a flirting component, or not.

Nevertheless – I realized that for once in my life, I was okay with the uncertain. With the potential, with the things I couldn’t predict, with the pressure I refused to place on myself, dating itself,  a stranger, or with the relationship I’m finally not desperately wanting. I’m okay without having a “yes” or a “no” – and dwelling in the maybe seems like an opportunity I’ve often passed up. The gray may be hazy, but sometimes the things you can’t see or define are the very things you end up needing the most.

And so, when Mr. Maybe asked how a man could make it into the inevitable life and blog of Ms. Tigar (or Mr, depending on which post you read), I gave him a hint of the sincere smile that’s somewhere rooted inside of me and said, “Take her out for a cupcake, since she doesn’t give away ones she gets for free?” Obviously interested in the prospect of icing and baked flour, Mr. Maybe let me know his day off was on Wednesdays. I returned by offering I got off work at 6 p.m., and gave him my card. Just in case, you know.

Once I paid my tab that didn’t even come close to reflecting what I consumed, locked eyes again with Mr. Maybe, and cheek-kissed my friend good-bye, I walked to the subway with a little extra step. I’m not sure if it means I’m at a new step or I’ve unfolded a new chapter in my journey but something about a simple evening with careless flirting rejuvenated my spirit. Perhaps it was the sight of a new possibility or just the pleasure of being a lady who knows what she wants (and how to get it). Could be the joy that comes from prancing through the city, even in negative degrees, and loving it just the same. Or even the warmness a great glass of wine gives you – especially when it didn’t come out of your tiny paycheck.

Or it could be the easy and simple feeling of knowing that your life is no longer dependent on finding all of the answers. Of defining the exact right path, the next move that’s planned and mapped out. But rather, it’s finally not about existing and waiting for the next love, the next chance or the next opportunity, but more about living and taking all the comes (or doesn’t) with acceptance and stride.

Or perhaps, being thankful for the luck a cupcake can sometimes bring you…or the Irish bartender that you hope actually does put your number or email to good use. And who takes you out for something frosted and delicious? Maybe, just maybe.

P.S. Confessions of a Love Addict is celebrating Valentine’s Day a little differently this year. We’ll make it more about the single ladies and less about flowers that’ll die in a day. Submit your Valentine here.