Not-So-Instant Gratification

At 1 p.m. today, unshowered, covered in dust from our old floors, my clothes spread out about my bed as I haphazardly packed for my trip with Mr. Possibility, I no longer could ignore my hunger pains and decided it was time to eat. I scrounged our kitchen, attempting to put something together that would resemble a meal, but I couldn’t find anything that fit my fancy.

I was still pretty full from an evening with my good friend M, where we drowned ourselves in a family-size $10 bottle of Merlot, a hunk of Brie cheese, cheap (and gross) crackers, oranges, and icing. The icing, though, only came until later, when frosting the cake we made, realizing we had far too much décor and not enough cake. But eating icing with your fingers sounds reallllly good when you’re had far too much wine.

Glad I didn’t have a hangover, I considered ordering in sushi when I saw a carton of eggs. And suddenly, I decided it was time for me to learn how to poach an egg. Since I moved to NYC, I discovered brunch which means I discovered Eggs Benedict and Eggs Florentine, which means I now officially love poached eggs instead of scrambled.

As anyone my age or generation does, I Googled “how to poach an egg” and found an easy step-by-step guide. I looked around to make sure it was the best way and to verify the methods with other sources and then when at it. Within ten minutes, I had two poached eggs, a piece of toast, glass of orange juice and Hulu cued up to watch the ANTM Season 16 I missed.

Excuse me for being overly cliché (isn’t the first time, won’t be the last), but to play off Staples: that was easy. And often, doing what I want to do, learning what I need to learn, and getting to where I want to go is really that simple. Mainly because of Google.

Intrigued by Google’s effect on my life, I went back through my search history and found the following:

“The Vow” movie, was it first a book?

How many calories in Brie cheese?

Cheap vacation packages to Greece

John Edwards indictment

NYC restaurant week 2011

Airline checked baggage dimensions

“My Hearts Will Go On” lyrics

Elephant necklaces on Etsy

Asheville Nature Center

How long do you let a cake cool before frosting?

Women and vitamins

Submissions for New York magazine

Now, these terms are only from the last 24ish hours and don’t include what I’ve searched for at work. Basically, anything I’m interested in, anything I’m curious about, anything that I need to know, or advice I want to read – I use Google. I have a few trusted resources/website that I will always come back to but the majority of my Google traffic is just random. Whatever pops in my head, I type it, find what I need to know, and move on.

It’s instant gratification. And I’m used to it. So why would I think in a relationship, in dating, I’d want anything other than that? Or maybe the better question is, why would I think instant gratification is realistic when you’re in love?

I don’t think it could be any further from the truth, actually. Sure, when you first meet someone or you go on a few dates, the tension is high and the chemistry is brewing. But unlike a computer that does as you say, gives you what you want when you want it, people aren’t like that. You can’t push a button or say a phrase and get the response you want. And maybe, you can change the terms you use or ways to approach the question and see if you’ll craft a new response, but most of the time, you’ll just end up irritating the person who already answered you once.

Too often we search for what we want to hear with guys. We throw out lines, we try to bait them into saying the words we think we need to hear, and we hope they’ll be everything we them to be. But men aren’t Google. They don’t give us a collection of personalities and we pick the one that’s best for us. Instead, they are one person and though they may change, if you can’t accept them and what they think for who and what they are, then you’ll find yourself going in circles, searching and searching for something you’ll never find.

And instant gratification isn’t what it’s cracked up to be in love. Sometimes, actually, the dial-up speed gives you the chance to really get to know someone. And months down the road, you may discover you are satisfied, you are in fact happy, even if it wasn’t gratification at sight.

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Could I Be Happy?

Last night, as I was picking up groceries that make up my diet – orange juice, humus, grapes, bananas, Greek yogurt, and dark chocolate – I was forced to wait in a ridiculously long line. The grocery store by my current apartment is new and attracts customers from dozens of blocks away, and therefore, is always crowded. I usually don’t mind – it gives me the opportunity to eavesdrop and people watch.

Curving around the escalator, I noticed a good-looking man in front of me. He looked early to mid-30’s, was well-dressed and groomed, and had a simple basket full of good food and good beer. Not really inclined to say much of anything to anyone, when he looked back and shared a grin with me, I returned one, and then took my eyes in a different direction. A few moments later, as I casually looked his way again – a family had appeared. His arm was around a lanky young boy in soccer clothes, and a pretty curly-haired blonde in boots was laughing with a little girl whose face mirrored her’s.

The children had been in the bakery, picking out the one sweet treat they are allowed to have with their mom, and when they returned – so did the light in the man’s face. As the kids were somehow entertaining themselves with a display of sugar cookies (seeing who could reach the top), the man leaned over and kissed the side of his wife’s face, and as she probably has since they met, she warmly laughed, and looked into his eyes. They were about the same height but she looked tiny next to him and their body language was so easy and so loving, I noticed the others behind me watching them too.

As any child would do, the brother and sister duo returned, begging for cookies on top of their goody from the bakery. The man automatically dismissed their pleas but mom chimed in by teasing, “But Dad, they are peanut butter. Your favorite.” Blushing at what seemed like an inside joke, he agreed they were his top pick, and allowed the kids to have them – under the condition that they couldn’t have eat any tonight. At 8 p.m., I thought that was a smart decision on his part, having baby-sitted and mistakenly given sugar way too late. Excited, the siblings returned to pick out the best dozen, and mom teased again asking, “But I want one tonight, can I have one tonight?” Dad wrapped his arms around her waist, squeezed her hand, and in a sweet-and-sexy tone promised, “Oh yes, you can have one tonight.

I had zoned in so deeply to their conversation and watching the family interact, that I hadn’t noticed my arm had fallen asleep holding a heavy basket, or that I was next in line. Minutes later after selecting debit and thanking a cashier that didn’t say anything to me, I walked the two blocks back to my packed-up apartment and for the first time, in a long time, I felt sad.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m really happy with my life. My weeks are spent writing articles and blogs, attending events and happy hours, trying new foods and neighborhoods, and spending time with friends I love and a Mr. Possibility I adore. Soon, I’ll be able to run in Central Park and this summer is filled with trips I’m counting down to, and within a few weeks, I’ll move into a new place on this island. My life is constantly in transition, I have more freedom than I know what to do with, and much of the beauty of my 20s is that they are unplanned, unknown, and uninhibited.

I’ve spent 203 posts – or 203 days – reaching this point of content. Of being ale to feel secure in my single shoes, of not feeling like a man is the end-all-be-all to my existence, of not feeling incomplete without admiration from the opposite sex. I’ve developed a security in myself and should Mr. Possibility and his many possibilities walk away tomorrow, I would be upset, but I would be fine. His presence isn’t the most important component of my life, it’s just a bright one. I’m no longer defined by a man and I don’t feel this incredibly intoxicating urge to be in a relationship or to be reminded of how wonderful I am by a guy. I think I’m pretty great without someone telling me, as I should – I’ve worked hard and loved long to get to where I am.

So why did I feel sad after witnessing a healthy, engaging, and adjusted family? Why did it leave a poor taste in my mouth and make me feel like my life was hollow – filled with boozing and blasé brunching? Even though I know I’m nowhere close to wanting or being prepared for marriage and children, why did I instantly want both of those responsibility-ridden things in that moment?

Well, because I want them. One day, that is. And while I can push at the American dream and work as hard as I can to raise myself up from my heelstraps, move to the city I always knew I belonged in, and go on countless amazing and awful dates – I cannot control success in love. Or in creating a family.

And maybe that’s what is the hardest about being single – the lack of control. Even if you do all of the right things, find a peace inside yourself, and love the life you lead – if you want children and you want to get married one day, you want it. It isn’t something you can or you should change, it is just part of who you are – encoded in a DNA that few understand. And if we observe the world around us, the women who have found it and the women who have not, we realize which category we’d like to end up in. Sure, happiness isn’t defined by if you get Cartier or if you are able to produce offspring, and there are splendors a career can give that nothing else can match -but for me, and the life I hope to have, I don’t want to kiss or be kissed goodnight by my byline forever.

The question is – if I’m not among the lucky who finds someone they can tolerate and agree to share a bed and bathroom sink with until death parts us, or if I can’t carry a baby or afford to adopt or if my eggs becoming infertile by the time I become ready for that chapter – then what?

Can I still be happy? As satisfied and blessed I feel to be where I am today – miles and miles away from needing to even worry or think about such things – I can’t answer that question. I’d like to think I could find happiness anywhere with anything – but I also know that I wouldn’t want to do it without anyone. I’d rather have a someone and few little somethings.

How Sweet It Is

After my company put on an event giving entrepreneurs opportunities to grow global, J and I headed to a wine store two blocks over to find some international Merlot-inspired strategies of our own.

As we listened to the sommelier, in his terribly cliché French accent, black-rimmed glasses, and v-neck cardigan explain to us the history of vineyards in lands we’ve never heard of, J and I shared a knowing smile that though we may never be well-versed in the language of vino, we can at the very least, pretend. Once we decided on a 2006 edition of something “surprisingly infused with cherry and lime in an exquisite fashion“, we stood waiting at gift wrap. Easily distracted by decorations, a smile curved its way across J’s chiseled chin and he said, “Give your sweetie a treatie!” and nodded toward a leftover Valentine’s Day sign.

Still dressed in my pencil skirt and white-billowing blouse, I tousled my hair seductively and sarcastically and asked, “What treat will you be buying me then, J?” Unable to hide the half-British, half-New York accent he pulls off so well, he quickly responded, “You’re not my sweetie, darling.”

Without missing a beat, I rose to my tiptoes (even in my four-inch Carlos), and beamed: “I’m not anyone’s sweetie!” Confused, J raised an eyebrow at me, shook his head probably thinking “silly American” and looked back to his iPhone. As he fervently put the touch-screen to the test, I glanced back at the sign and stole away a smile, just for me. And I remembered.

In college, when I felt stranded by the mountains that encircled the campus and the snow would fall taller than the top of my highest boots -I would lay on my couch, afghan carelessly laying across me and just stare out the window. I would imagine the two arms I wanted – I needed – so badly to keep me warm. To make me feel like I wasn’t alone. To wrap their body so tightly around me that I would never doubt that love, no matter how difficult or seemingly unattainable, was possible for someone like me. Someone who had yet to feel successful in any relationship or love she’d found thus far.

That longing, that thirst – carried its way to New York when I first moved – especially since my mother’s prophecy that I’d meet the man I’d marry the second I took my first step at JFK. While my career aspirations had gone as planned, the romantic component of my city fairytale didn’t resemble Cinderella in any way. Well, except maybe for the shoes.

For the longest time, regardless of where I was, who I was or was not with, or what was changing or remaining stagnant in my life – I hungered for a man. For a magical person who would take away that sting, that fear, that something that brought me so much trouble, so much physically emotional emptiness. For someone to be more than something – but everything to me. If they could take away any insecurity about my future – romantically inclined and all else – then I need not worry about it. If I had them, didn’t I have everything I would ever need?

But now, instead of looking for a sweetie to give me treatie – I’d rather have a sweetie who is my treatie. Not the my full source of healthiness or my daily dose that keeps me going or the main ingredient of my internal caloric intake – but just a special something I treat myself to. The icing on the cake, but not the concoction it took to make the dough rise. One of the sweeter parts of my afternoon, but not the thing that’ll make or break my day, my diet, or my spirit.

Isn’t that how a relationship should be, anyways? Isn’t that why we all see love as this incredibly desirable and often indescribable feeling (or choice, depending on what you believe) that brings this added glow, sweetness to our lives? Wouldn’t that passion, that certain comfort, that something incredibly beautiful, be best as something we look forward to? Instead of something that we’ve gotta have to survive?

Doesn’t a treat taste the best when we save it for something special? Or should I say someone special? And while that added spice or sugary-goodness that may or may not be good for us will be an added pleasure in our life – we have to also know the sweetest love of all is the one we’ve already found by mixing the right ingredients together to make us the irresistible women we are.

All of this time, all of those countless cold nights I spent wrapped up in an idea of what a leading man would be. All of those tears wasted on those who never deserved my attention in the first place. All of the worries about a love I was terrified I’d never find. All of those strolls through the city that never lets me down and all of the pages of any and every diary I’ve ever owned, going on-and-on about this singular thing, singular stranger, who would take away that appetite for what I thought was the miracle nourishment to make my every ache and pain a distant memory. All of this time wishing I was someone’s honey, someone’s escape as much as they were mine. All of this time I have been forgetting the simplest thing of all that never fails to hit the right spot at the right time. Even in the middle of an overpriced wine store in Chelsea:

How sweet it is to be loved…by me.

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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.