The Things a Man Can’t Give Me

After spending an unjustified amount of time on Tumblr one Sunday afternoon, I happened to stumble upon an adorable photo. Of course, I have a certain affinity to this creature (or really any miniature animal), so I quickly updated my Facebook proclaiming I’d like to be the owner of a baby tiger.

Expecting to receive a few comments from my friends who kindly entertain my ridiculousness, I hopped in the shower, determined to get my day started instead of wasting it away in front of a 15″ laptop screen. Twenty minutes and one Beyonce sing-along under the water later, I did what every Gen Y does: tapped my phone back to life because being without it for such a “long” time made me feel disconnected.

On the screen was a new text from the man I was seeing at the time and though we were not serious, I really dug him. He was one of those who always had something interesting to say and never failed to surprise me. This message would prove the latter: Check your email.

Unsure of why he would send something to my email instead of just calling or telling me, I opened up Gmail to find no message from him. Confused, I sent a question mark in response (so explanatory, I know), and he responded with: You wanted a baby tiger, didn’t you? Becoming more perplexed with these cryptic messages and the fact he was stalking my Facebook mid-day, I glanced back at my accountant and noticed an email not from him, but from the WWF. He couldn’t give me an actual baby tiger, but he could adopt one from Africa in my name. And so, he did – just like that. The certificate was sitting proudly a click away and the snuggly and stuffed version came a few weeks later.

So apparently men can give you the nearly extinct animal you mindlessly requested in a status update. And they can leave notes in jean pockets, taped behind a closed door you rarely open, and on your mirror so you never forget how beautiful you are. They can buy you that necklace or that ring you intently gleamed at in the back of Vogue. They can purposefully leave the apartment for the unimportant fact that they’re out of orange juice and you always drink a tall glass each morning.

And when they’re not supplying your tummy or your jewelry box – men can give us many splendored things. When you can feel a man really loves you, it’s powerful. After all, we’ve met the ones who never care at all. Hell – we’ve slept with them. Possibly dated them for six months, just in case something changes. It’s after that disaster we learn to notice when a guy comes along who is all hands-and-feet on deck. We start to think they give us feelings we always say we’ve never felt before, until we do, again. They indulge us in reassurance and constant confidence boosts. They don’t make us wait and they don’t make things harder or faster than what we prefer – unless we ask for it, of course. They support us as equally as we encourage them, and when like grows into love and love into content – they weather the changes because they’d rather stick around than find something simplified elsewhere.

It’s true – men can give us so many things.

But I’m starting to realize there are more things men can’t give me. Partly because they aren’t capable of it, but mostly because I wouldn’t want them to. There are certain parts of my life that I don’t invite a man into and there are pleasures I derive when I’m alone that don’t always match the fulfillment a man returns. There are outings and doings that keep me positive and feeling alive that I’d much rather do without the presence of anyone. There is a cache and a sense of independence that comes from paying everything on my own, shopping at my own accord and saving up for that pair of shoes that even if someone offered, I’d never let them purchase on my behalf. There is a power in knowing nearly every single item in my apartment came from money I made by having a resume I worked hard (and mostly for no pay) to build. There is a satisfaction I get from marching the streets, making eye contact with a stranger or two, and continuing to walk when they get the hint I’ll slow my pace for them – but I don’t.

And without a man, without the consistent reminder that someone in this world at the very least finds you tolerable – you learn how to keep yourself going. You learn the difference between being a constructive critic and being way harder on yourself than anyone else would be. You notice changes in your mood and you become aware of what makes you happy, what tickles your tastebuds, and what disgusts you. You have ways to shed joy and hope into your life that no other person – even the most attractive and engaging ones – could ever replace. You depend on yourself without considering there is a safety net or a body to break your fall. You decide the best answer to your questions aren’t “call mom” or “call Mr. of Right Now” but really are not even an answer at all, they are also a question: Well, what do you want to do?

Those things, no matter how insignificantly silly (like my need of wine in the bathtub while listening to Rhapsody in Blue and reading for the 100th time, Jane Eyre) or superbly worthy (like my need to not have anyone advise me on where my money is going unless I’m paying them – with my money – to instruct me) – are still possible to find when you’re dating a man. Even when you’re madly in love with him.

But you have to fight for them. Because while the dudes can be rather charming and sweet, and give us endearing reminders that we’re loveable, they become one hell of a distraction. Perhaps a beautiful one, but a distraction all the same. I mean, baby tigers may not be a match the baby diamond earrings we scrambled just enough money to buy for ourselves, but which one will mean more to us if the relationship ends? And which is a girl’s best friend (RIP, Liz)?

One of the many troubles of being single is longing for those things we know a man can give us. Those things we’ve found before and have now become afraid are forever lost. But when love takes a chance on you again, you may just find yourself missing those things purposefully just for you, and you only. You may have to keep yourself grounded as you are effortlessly swept away.

Because instead of turning our attention away from me and steering it toward a he the has the potential to become a we- we’ve gotta learn how to have the me, have the he, and have the we, without losing all three.

The Plane Will Take Flight

There’s an old story about a person who wakes up to a blaring alarm clock, stubs his/her toe on the bedpost, runs into the chair haphazardly displaced in the middle of the living room, and steps into the shower, only to find the hot water is not-so-hot. And though this person has only been awake a matter of minutes, the rest of their day will follow in the same format: profanity hidden under deep, exhausted and frustrated sighs of angst.

And nothing about this 24-hour period will be rectifiable. Everything is unquestionably shot to hell and while it may be the only March 23, 2011 that will ever be, to me –damned it be.

 

I didn’t stub or bump into anything and the shower held up to its steamy standards – but I woke up yesterday in a panic, due to an odd dream. I won’t go into details because I’m still not sure what I think and the fact that my mind can conjure such ironic concepts and scenarios without my consciousness is rather freaky. Anyways – a moment before my cell phone attempted to wake me, I shot up in bed, eyes wide-open, and hoped I didn’t wake the possibility who was possibly still sleeping next to me.

Thirty minutes later at the unforgiving eighth hour, I rushed to catch the train and found myself appalled at the weather New York was entertaining. I mean, less than a week ago I had effortlessly eaten dinner outside in a wrap dress without a sweater and without pantyhose. But now, as I ascended from above ground to the underground metro maze, I watched the sleet, hail, and snow mix disappear out the window and thought the only word to describe the day’s conditions was disgusting.

Though work was at its normal, dependable pace, and the magazine’s press due date on Friday is quickly approaching, I didn’t find myself stressed. Something about working on a deadline actually gets me working harder than I normally do (probably why journalism is a great career for me), and when everyone else is buzzing with productivity, it makes it easier to stay focused.

However, as the hours passed, I noticed my downward mood. No matter how many positive things happened or how my soul felt a certain sense of happiness – I couldn’t shake an overwhelming feeling of sadness. You know – one of those emotions you can’t deny and derives from a place that makes everything else tender? Right in the pit of my gut and the center of my heart was a pang of awful ache that matched the weather stirring outside.

As I looked up the proper way to spell canceled (if you’re curious, it can have one “L” or two, it is a preference thing), I wondered what was wrong with me. I’m not expecting a visitor I never excitedly invite (unless I’m worried it won’t come, that is), tensions aren’t tight between me and anyone else, and while I haven’t slept as much as I’d like, I wasn’t exhausted.

So why the gloom and doom?

Concerned with my concerns, I first focused my thoughts and then listened to them. I went through my never-ending to-do list that is needed for work, the blog I needed to write that I had been putting off, the apartment that needed cleaning, the weekend plans that needed confirming, the bills that needed paying, and the groceries that needed buying. And the Mr. Possibility that needed me to stop by to see him off before he flies, yet again, overseas, for an unknown amount of time.

Oh, well then. Maybe that makes sense. Of course, the departure of a someone who is becoming something may cause a little distress, I thought. But what if I don’t want it to? What if it scares me to care?

I never intended for things to progress with Mr. Possibility and I – but they have. In one of those slow, easy, and far from simple ways that we all think we want, but when it happens, the picture doesn’t come out as great as the shot we had in our head. Or at least a little less sepia and black and white, and more daylight or without flash. The desire and unintentional intentions aside – I’ve found myself here. And it’s here that I find myself sappy on a Wednesday afternoon, waiting for the day to end so I can see a special someone off to the airport, while I sincerely hope for a flight delay.

Unwilling to admit that Mr. Possibility’s absence  would mean something to me, I powered through the rest of work, even crossing off some tasks I don’t enjoy doing to distract from my wave of longing. Sure enough, the clock struck six and off I was to Brooklyn, battling hail storms and tourists along the way.

When I burst into the door, I almost stumbled into his luggage, and he greeted me with a big smile before pulling me into his embrace. This move is signature of most men – making us disappear into their sometimes hairy and sometimes still stuck in preadolescence chest – and yet, when Mr. Possibility took me in, I felt something different.

I felt my heart sink.

At this point, I’m extremely frustrated that I’m upset, so I make a careful move to wiggle away and as I do so, lightning flashes and thunder makes an unforgiving entrance. Further annoyed the weather continues to mock my emotions on this particular day, I ask how I can help and head to the sink to rinse dishes (something I think I got from my mom, who cleans when she’s feeling uncomfortable or restless). After a few hours of talking about the trip, tying up loose ends, cleaning, and chatting away, Mr. Possibility insisted I at the very least, ride with him to the subway so I wouldn’t have to walk in the snow that was now highlighted across the sidewalks. Though I don’t appreciate being instructed, I picked high-heeled ankle boots as footwear, and didn’t want to ruin them. Or you know, slip and break my neck.

After finally saying our temporary good-bye, with my heart simmering, I stepped directly into a puddle that went well past the boots I was so concerned about damaging. In the slippery slush, I tiptoed to catch my ticket home, and like the person who stubbed their toe in the morning, I cursed in a way my grandmother would blush over.

It wasn’t until my nearly-hour commute back to the Upper West that I finally came to terms with the sadness I was battling all day. And those terms were far less complicated than what I was making them: I’m scared. Why was I worried about his new short or extended international stint? Like anyone would be, I was afraid of history repeating itself – and well, I like the dude, so of course, I’ll miss him. But more than that, after all this work to build a foundation of trust, I had stomped all over it, all day long. I had chosen to forgive him, my friends had decided to forgive me for giving him a second chance, and that was that. You can’t go back on forgiveness or you should have never granted it to begin with. And if his traveling leads to traveling in areas I’d rather not know about – then I’ll gladly accept the rightfully deserving title of fool.

Letting go of yesterday, learning to live (and love) yourself in today, and not being intimidated by a future single or with someone else means learning to take everything day-by-day. A bad day won’t repeat itself if you’re able to change your mindset before calling it a night. A great day may not be as bright the following day, just like love may not always be as close as it was a few hours earlier. But we can’t pray for those flight delays or for time to stop moving in its unexplainable way that somehow always translates into sense at the end of it.

Because the planes will arrive and they will take flight, along with the wintry weather that’ll yield to spring, and distance that will grow and test the possibility of something with great possibility.

 

 

Meet My Boyfriend

The thing I get asked the most by friends, readers, and fellow bloggers is: How do you write every single day?!

The answer has consistently been rather simple – it is easy. Partly because I consider myself someone who was lucky enough to always know what they were meant to do, and also due to the mere fact that I write about my life. And what else could be more natural to do than recording, dissecting, and describing every-day adventures? Or better yet – what could be more entertaining when those experiences primarily relate to relationships – something that everyone, no matter their demographics, can understand and relate to.

And while I write about personal experiences, most of the ideas that turn into blogs come from outside sources. From eavesdropping on two friends at the gym, by graffiti stained on my building, by a penny I kick across the pavement, by an exchange I witnessed that was only meant for that couple, by something I feel that I can’t explain, by a sighting or a viewing, by an argument or a profession. I try to listen while I linger, ask more questions than I make statements, and try to put myself in the shoes of strangers. Or the ones I know best – after all, fodder is frequent from my friends.

Unsurprisingly, as our pals often know us better than we know ourselves, this is where my claim of fluidity and simplicity in blogging becomes objected. As in the case of my friend J.

On Sunday, over burgers at one of my New York favorites, Corner Bistro, a group of us were catching up, drinking Blue Moons, and taking in more calories than the rest of the week allowed. I met my friend J in a way that can only be described as fate by the Internet –through a Meetup group that I was hesitant to join. However, it turned out producing five of my closest pals in the city, some of which are starting to get to know me pretty well. As J is telling me about her latest dating adventure and how the scene is different than the laid-back and sunny market in California where she’s from, I must have looked at her too hard because she said:

“You’re writing your blog right now in your head, aren’t you?” Stunned she could detect the writing wheels turning, I smiled a 4 p.m.-and-tipsy grin, and asked, “Um, how did you know that?” She took a sip of her wine (not a fan of beer), she laughed and replied, “Well, you know when you really like someone and they bring you happiness, you think about them all the time? Even when other people are talking to you?” I nodded. “That’s kind of what your blog is now. The blog is your boyfriend.”

Interesting.

A relationship, much like a blog, depends constant attention. You have to put in effort to make it work and be understanding when glitches out of your control cause trouble (like WordPress’ meltdown last night). The longer you’re with someone, the more people know about the person you’ve become exclusive with, and the more energy you put toward something – the harder it is to let it go. You become committed and involved, engrossed in what-could-be, and needing to know that person feels the same way. And if you’re anything like me before I started the blog, you become quite obsessed with the man of loving opportunity.

So, is my friend right? Maybe I have made this blog into my boyfriend. Or into an entity outside of myself, even though it’s primarily about me. I’m connected to it, I give it daily attention, I take time out of my schedule to make sure it is functioning, growing, and giving me what I need. But what is it that I need from a blog? If you asked me a few months ago, it would have been similar to my response to what I want from a relationship: something that helps me grow, gives me guidance, and lets me say whatever I want to say, without passing judgment.

However, like every relationship that experiences change with tide, waters have been rough with me and my boyfriend, the blog.

For a while, as much as I was writing about my exciting life, the majority of it was spent at work and at home. The weekends were sometimes full of outings and doings, but I had the energy and the dedication to put into the pages of this blog because it was my main concern and central source of entertainment. But like I’m learning to let love fall lower on my list of priorities, as my life started to become…well, a life – the less time I’ve had to focus on blogging.

My calendar has started to fill up, event invites continue to roll in, my friends rightfully demand my attention and my evenings, I’m running more, I’m planning trips, I’m further investing into the potential return of Mr. Possibility’s possibilities, and above all else, I’m still focusing on me. The 12 Steps continue to help me guide through the emotions that used to throw me. The essence of the blog is still alive in my life, but the availability I used to have to give it love is gone.

So do I stop writing? Do I break up with my boyfriend because he doesn’t fit into the life I’m making for myself? Do I put an end to the love I once found because I’d rather turn my attention to seemingly bigger and better things?

Nope.

Because when a relationship experiences trouble or things outside of the union start to expand and rise, that’s when you test how the connection. The commitment, the loyalty. That’s when you realize that love will never be everything that defines you or all of the things you’re made of. That’s when you remember the relationship that makes it – the one that’s worth all the hassles and frazzles – is the one you can maintain, even when the rest of your life becomes fuller and happier. I can’t make a man – or a blog – my everything. But if I can remember that love is just a part of life and this blog is about my life – the inspiration to pen another post will come just as easy as it once did.

As long as I just live, that is.

An Ugly Inequality

This may come as no surprise to anyone, but I’ve been thinking about men a lot lately.

But contrary to that statement, I haven’t been wondering about them in the romantic sense, but rather as people. A while back, I wrote a piece called “Men Are People Too?” which discussed a revelation I had about seeing guys not just as potential mates, but also as friends. May sound a tad crazy and I’ll admit it may make me come across immature for my age, but the majority of my friends have always been females and men to me, for a while, were only meant to fulfill a romantic role. But thanks to Mr. Hubby, J, H, and Mr. Unavailable, I’ve learned how to curve my attitude.

However, what I failed to mention or perhaps, realize, was the advantage and liberty women have over men.

More so than it has ever been before, females are encouraged to be independent. We’re the daughters of the women who grew up in the 70s and the 80s, who dominated corporate while remembering it’s okay to also dominate in bed – missionary be damned. Our mothers were the first to not only demand to be part of the workforce but to rise as high as they could, and then fight the glass ceiling that stopped them. We’re the women who were raised to be free thinkers, to accept that feminism isn’t about burning our bras or creating a No Boys Allowed club, but understanding the power of being a feminist is based simply on choice. We can decide to wear pumps and pleated skirts or pants and kicks and still be a woman. We can raise our voices, raise our eyebrows, or raise our hands – and all three will constitute as a way to stand for what we believe and what we know we deserve. We were brought up with the notion that we could be anything and also not have to be anything at all – a ring, a baby, or a house do not have to be our happy ending. But if we decide to, it can be a beginning or a part of our lives.

In a lot of ways, we’ve shaken off the titles that held us back for so long. Sure, we have a long way to come stateside and globally, and I’m in no means the most qualified expert to speak on the topic, but I do care about it. I am proud and thankful that my family always gave me every indication that I could do anything, that my sex (note: not gender, they are different) does not define me and it doesn’t hold me back. Just because I’m a lady, doesn’t mean I’m less capable of anything as my male counterpart. My dad let me be a tomboy that went on grand adventures, but he also assured me it was okay to want to feel protected. My mother bought me a training bra, but she also trained me how to body slam a guy if he happened to rub me the wrong way or get closer than I wanted him to.

But what about the guys? Do we teach men that it’s okay to have feminine characteristics? That having emotions are just as vital to a human as the ability to cope and carry on?  The great Gloria Steinem said it best: “We’ve begun to raise daughters more like sons… but few have the courage to raise our sons more like our daughters.”

Yesterday, Mr. Possibility and I headed to his hometown to run some errands, visit his mother, and stop by the barber shop he’s been going to since he was eight years old. The place was rather adorable, quintessentially Queens-Italian, and the prices were ridiculously low, unaffected it seems by a downward economy. As I waited for him to finish, sipping coffee, and reading New York magazine, I found myself distracted by the little boy in the stool to the right. He was maybe six and best described as all-smiles. Everything the barber did – from buzzing and cutting to brushing and joking around – made this kid giggle. When his cut and style was finished, he swiveled in the chair and excitedly asked his mom: Don’t I look pretty?!

Seeming embarrassed by this remark, his father quickly chimed in: “No, son you look handsome. Girls look pretty.” The young boy, who was delighted a second before, turned his head down, and that smile that captivated me from across the bench fell as quickly as his spirits. Wanting to tell him that any adjective would do and that female and male connotations are only important when learning a language, I looked over at Mr. Possibility, who had missed the whole exchange and was chatting it up with C, his pot-belly barber. As I looked at him in the mirror, I wondered what child he had been twenty years previous, in this same shop, in this same little town. Was it okay for him to play Barbies with this sister (or alone) as much as it was acceptable for him to kick, catch, or hit a ball? Could he watch Oprah and ESPN in the same hour and still consider himself a man?

Why do men give themselves less liberties than the ladies? Why does the USA allow itself to be so drenched with homophobia and fear of the demise of the “good ole’ boy”? If you ask me, a great man is one who is brave enough to accept and embrace all that he feels, even if some of that is stereotypically considered girly.

Like in relationships, like in love, like in life – when we stop placing so much emphasis on titles and trying to define what everything means – that’s when we find our true freedom. So, why not give the dudes some room to grow? Some space to explore other ways of thinking and go after those things that they’ve always been forbid to do. Or forbidden themselves to try. Those rules that mothers and fathers are still placing heavily on their sons, while encouraging their daughters to chase any dream they have.

Because those restrictions, those unwavering, old-school, ways of determining what makes a man keep guys from truly becoming the best men they can be, or rather, the best person they can grow into. Don’t call it handsome, don’t call it beautiful, don’t call it lovely, don’t call it cute, and don’t call it pretty. Call it what it is – an ugly inequality.

This is Me & This is What I Need

While I’ve always known New York is the city that never sleeps, I was somehow under the illusion that its inhabitants do. However, if the last two weeks are any indication of how my street-slicker life is turning out to be, then it looks like I may be learning to function on a few hours rest for the time I pen New York, NY on my return labels.

From the time the clock struck 7 am, letting me know it was time to greet the energy populating outside, until the moment I burst into my apartment, sat down my bag, and collapsed into bed – I was on the go. To and from work. Staying later to close the magazine and arriving early to ensure I crossed all my T’s and dotted all my I’s. Going to this happy hour and that gallery opening. Visiting people in Brooklyn and beyond. Entertaining out-of-town friends I hadn’t seen in ages. Freelancing. This breath-of-fresh-air of a blog that keeps me going, when nothing else does. Figuring out where my heart is, but keeping my mind in tow. New dates with new men. Even newer friends. Movies and networking, dining and wining, and of course, even more writing.

I’ve been waiting for my New York life to start feeling like an actual, functioning, and prospering existence that’s full of friends, outings, experiences, and thriving conversations – and I feel like I’m finally getting there. It’s taken some difficult days that sometimes may get the best of me, but through it all – I’ve never doubted that eventually, skyscrapers would seem more like home than mountaintops. New York has this effortlessway of renewing my spirit and reminding me that the opportunities for me are endless and attainable, if I just remember to keep one thing in check no matter how busy I get or who becomes a main character in my life. And that wildly complicated and perfectly simple thing…is me.

And while I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my schedule being shaken and stirred – the thing that’s made the recipe a bit off is forgetting to take care of my own simple, day-to-day needs.

In my sudden influx of events and adventures, I noticed my mood gradually get worse. By the time Saturday evening rolled around and I had yet to really get a great night’s sleep, tidy up my apartment, or sit around in my sweatpants – I became flat-out bitchy. And along with my intolerableness, I started analyzing myself and worse, putting pressure and asking questions about what I was doing with my life. I started breaking out, which made me resort back to old ways of piling on way too much makeup. Thus, I started to feel less secure, not to mention with my busy schedule, the gym has been out of the question, so I was not feeling like my fit self, either. And when my apartment was merely used to shower and sleep for two weeks, the heap of dirty clothes kept growing, without an end in sight – leaving me with all of those garments we keep, but never want to wear. Admittedly, I may have worn the same pair of socks two days in a row and did all I could to keep that thought out of my mind throughout round-two.

Apart from doubting my appearance and feeling overall just plain exhausted, I also became paraded with worries about everything from my career, my finances to my dating life, and this space: Am I doing enough? Am I working to the best of my ability? Is my job happy with me? Am I going on enough dates? Should I even be going on dates at all? What if I fall in love with someone in the next few months – will that go against the recovery? Will I still be able to love myself in the middle of a full-fledged relationship? Am I there yet?  Do I even know where I’m going? Am I still on the right path with myself? Am I doing the right things? Making the right decisions? Am I saving enough money? Am I spending too much on going out and not enough preparing for my new apartment in May?

What the hell am I doing??

Like the infamous pile of spaghetti, all covered in cheese, once my meatball of confidence rolled off my sturdy table – all was lost. As much as I’m a girl who goes, I’m also a woman who needs alone time to collect my thoughts and find my personal center of clarity. I’ve discovered, in my most recent rampage, that when I forget about the basic necessities that keep me sane – sleeping, running, eating a huge bowl of cereal while watching trashy television in my fuzzy bathrobe – any bit of negativity in me bubbles its way up to the surface.

Until I took away my isolated liberty, I never realized how much I really cherished those hours of seclusion. The time when I’m only in the company of myself.

And so yesterday, instead of accepting an invite to dinner or heading out to mingle at a networking gala downtown, I left work on time and went to find the me I had lost in the last fourteen days. Running four miles was difficult, but it has never hurt so good or made my lungs feel clearer. I enjoyed a decaf espresso with my laundry and cleaning duties, and I caught up on the daily reads I had been neglecting. I soaked my feet and wore a face masque. I called my mom and then retired my phone for the evening. I replied to personal emails I had let pile up. I went invisible on Gchat and closed Facebook and ceased tweeting on Twitter.

I looked at myself in the mirror, saw all of the imperfections I had been focusing on for days – newly formed zits, hair that despareately needs to be trimmed, skin that’s paler than the leftover snow on the streets, and elbows severely thirsty for hydration. And instead of spewing out words of degradation and attempting to fix all that I thought was ugly or wrong, I stopped and made a decision.

A choice to believe that at whatever point my journey is at or approaching, or how many things I want to change or I’m unsure about – this is my life. This is my body. This is how I look. This is my apartment. This is my job. This is my savings accountant. This is my date for the evening. This is my blog. This is my city. This is my home. This is my exhaustion taking over. This is my spirit that will get me through. This is now. This is what it is. This, whatever this is at whatever moment this takes me to, is mine.

This is me and I have to decide what I need.

And while they may say it’s never too late to be the person you wanted to be, it’s also never too early to accept and listen to yourself. Or to realize that sometimes, the best thing you ever do…is absolutely nothing.

Mr. Creepo and the Boyfriend Card

My first and favorite romance, New York City, has been quite the tease lately.

Monday, the day that reminds us our lovely weekend is over, the sky opened up and revealed an easy, sunny and lustful day where my red sweater dress was entirely too much. And then, as we transcended from one extreme to the other, Tuesday through Wednesday were unbearably cold. We finished the week with temperatures that enticed Spring’s arrival.

So on Friday, in an effort to encourage my lover in his warm embrace, I dressed for the occasion in a tight, light blue dress, thin leggings, and my old forgotten friend, The Open-Toe Stiletto. Perhaps my outfit was a tad inappropriate for mid-February, but I’ve never been one to adhere to regulations, where they be imposed by the Fashion Week goddesses or not. However, my attempt to tempt the heavens to keep the weather airy and breezy…backfired.

My favorite morning café, where the coffee is self-serve and in actual pots instead of economy-sized drippers, is merely a block away from the magazine – but those 40 or so steps can seem like a lifetime, when you spent a night almost completely absent of sleep. Not in the mood to discuss anything with anyone, I avoided eye contact on my narrow-focused path to fuel up for the day – but one man, with his bald head and short-stature, sought to match my pace.

Listening to the click of my heels, anticipating the pick-me-up I was getting ready to pick up, I barely noticed this at least 45-year-old whisper loud enough over my shoulder, “Excuse me?” Automatically turning on city-slicker mode, I quickened my pace, confused by this businessman walking way too close for a stranger. Especially one who was obviously way older than me.

I’ve just gotta say, you’ve got it together. From your heels to your hair, everything is spot on. Right on. I’ve never seen someone so beautiful, so together at 9 a.m. Great job,” this man complimented. Still exhausted, but gracious enough to give him a smile and a simple “thank you,” I continued toward my destination. But Mr. Creepo wasn’t finished yet.

He pulled his way closer to me as I nearly stumbled into the brick building to my right and a flash of fear wondered, “Nothing can happen in broad daylight in Chelsea, right? I mean, it’s a Friday morning, not 3 a.m.”  As if he thought I was somehow intrigued by him, he bargained with a wink, “If I promise you to do everything right, and I mean everything, will you just give me your number?

Caught off guard and slightly afraid, I straightened my posture, jerked my head around with a glare only possible from extreme-tiredness and blurted the first defensive semantic that came to mind: “I’m sorry, I can’t. I have a boyfriend.”

When the door slammed behind me and I made a distinct effort not to watch the man continue past the cafe, I caught my breath, flattened my hair from the wind, and there, in the entrance, scrunched up my forehead, utterly confused. Not necessarily by Mr. Creepo, but by myself.

Why is it that when I’m uninterested in someone or feeling insecure or unsafe, I automatically throw out the boyfriend card? The you-best-leave-me-alone or my big, bad man will come and show you what he’s made of and what I mean to him? How is it that being taken, having someone to watch over us – where it be the truth or a little white lie – makes us feel like whoever it is that’s bothering us, will back down?

Is commitment protection? Or is it just easier to say you love someone else instead of get-the-hell-away-from-me?

After nearly spilling my coffee all over my clingy dress (alright, well perhaps a few drops dribbled down) – I burst into the office, ready to share my story with my editor and J. By this time, I had a shot of energy from the Columbian blend and was being far too outrageous than what pre-10 a.m. allows.

“I am appalled by Manhattan men! Seriously, who is this creepo who thinks it is okay to just march up to me, interrupt my morning, and tell me he’ll do ‘everything right?’ He doesn’t even know me or what would be right by my standards. And he complimented everything from my heels to my hair – gross! He may not be old enough to be my father, but he could be some twice-removed uncle. Easily,” I discussed in disgust with J, who plainly nodded along, while adding in his own tidbits of experience with the street gawkers.

Tossing my hair and sighing heavily into my fat-free crème cheese and half-bagel, my co-worker H, the witty sales associate who’s timing is always on-point, matter-of-factly said, “Linds – let’s be real. If he was wildly attractive, young, and said all of those things, you would have smiled and probably given him your card.”

Sassy in my own respect, I replied, “Not if he was going all Biz Markie on me telling me he’s got what I need.” She laughed, agreed, but threw in one final chip: “Even so, you wouldn’t have told him you were in a relationship and if he would have asked to buy you that coffee you’re drinking – you would have allowed him.

Ah, the gal’s got a point.

I tend to find myself a pretty confident and incorrigibly honest with most everyone and everything in my life. I have my moments of blatant insecurity, but for the most part, I’m pretty straight-forward and as a Virgo, a tad critical – in the most loving of ways. But when it comes to being hit on and purposefully sought after by someone I’m not interested in – I almost always play the card of taken, instead of being direct and letting a guy off the hook by showing him he had no chance at hooking me.

Bluntly put – I hate rejecting guys.

I’m not a fan of hurting anyone’s feelings, even the hearts of those who’ve mangled mine, and also – I don’t want to be argued with or attempted to be persuaded, when I can tell in five seconds my interest is lost. Or it never really arrived in the first place. Especially when it comes to men, who for whatever reason, think it’s appropriate to go after women 20 years their junior. This girl, Mr. Creepo, is not a gold digger and will build a mountain on her own instead of hiking up a trail of deceit.

Though I realize my double-standard, as H so cleverly pointed out, I also know what is crossing the line for me or popping my personal space bubble. And regardless if Mr. Creepo had been a foot taller with a full head of hair and subtracted a dozen candles off his last birthday cake – anyone who tells me they’ll do everything right isn’t Mr. Right in my book. I’d like to think I’ll end up with a guy who is far from perfect – and perhaps even far from perfect for me – but rather, a human being who doesn’t declare his sexual righteousness within the first ten seconds of seeing me.

Next time, instead of using an imaginary boyfriend as a defense, I’ll try to take the higher road of honesty and say, “Sorry, buddy. You aren’t strong, dark, handsome, and available in a 20 oz cup for $1.75. And really, that’s the only thing that’s right by me, right now.”

 

 

Baby Don’t Want No Baby

A few years ago, while walking through Soho, I stumbled across a boutique baby store. I don’t recall the name, but the décor included whimsical trees, googly-eyed giraffes and elephants, and against my friend’s pleas, I demanded we go inside. Like the true kid-at-heart I am, I browsed through the clothes, considered buying a super-soft stuffed animal for myself, and sighed thinking, “I really do want a baby one day.”

Before leaving, I spotted a pair of ridiculously adorable pink socks with a tiny, sophisticated bow at the top. At $16 a pop, I actually bought one and vowed that one day, when I became a mother, I’d put them over my baby’s little toes. Let’s hope I do have a daughter when that time comes or my son will just have to be alright with pretty-in-pink feet.

These socks are tucked away in a space underneath my bed, along with clippings of dream vacation homes overseas, maps of places I’d like to visit, and ticket stubs from old dates, travels, and pieces of fabric I’d love to make a trendy dress out of (If I knew how to sew, that is). Those socks are the only thing, out of the dozens of wishes and dreams inside of that wooden antique box that represents children.

As much as I do hope that I have some baby Tigar cubs of my own, the idea of actually raising a child royally, totally, and whole-heartedly freaks me the hell out. I’m one of those women who texts her friends: “Okay, so he didn’t technically finish inside of me. We used something, I’m on something. But my monthly visitor is about three hours late, should I get a test? I mean it can’t hurt, right? RIGHT?!” I’ve also probably opted for plan B even when plan A probably worked efficiently. I even may have Googled if there was such a thing as Plan C. (There’s not, if you’re wondering)

But why should I not be careful? Pregnancy and babies are terrifying.

I mean, my lady part has to stretch to a size that’s not natural (no matter how part of nature it is), I have to give up the things that give me tremendous joy (coffee, wine, looking sexy in lingerie, running, to name a few), and after nine months of increasingly getting rounder, I have a miniature creature who will suck on my gals. And that’s only the beginning – once I’m a mother, there is no going back or 30-day refund policy. As far as I know, anyways.

Last week on my way to my bi-monthly mentoring program for children who want to be authors, I caught an elevator with a few parents. Though it isn’t the usual etiquette, one of the fathers asked when I pushed the button for the sixth floor, “Are you going to pick up your child in the program?”

With a fear-stricken death stare I looked directly at him and defended myself: “Oh God no! I’m volunteering. I don’t have children. I’m too young for that!” Obviously not realizing the chord he struck with me, he mumbled an apology and turned to face the doors. As I pulled myself together walking to meet my mentee, it occurred to me I was actually wrong.

I’m not too young to be a mom. Technically speaking.

I’m the only one of my cousins who doesn’t have at least one child – and they are all under the age of 35. I have friends who are damned-and-determined to have their legacy completed and their tubes tied before they blow out the candles on their 30th birthday cake. And ladies much younger than me, say 16, are apparently buzzworthy in the eyes of pop culture for doing nothing other than growing a bump.

As cute as they are and as much as I’m sure I’ll love my own one day, I’m lacking the baby-obsessed gene. Or maybe, it hasn’t fully developed quite yet.

Being a parent, much like being a girlfriend or a wife, means you have to stop making decisions based solely on yourself. While we can provide examples illustrating how men are really just grown-up babies who still want to be pampered, mothered, and coddled – a child is even more responsibility. Not to mention a commitment you can’t divorce, annul or walk away from.

When this man, unknowingly mistaken me as a mom, it caught me off guard (and sweat a little) because the possibility of being a parent had never occurred to me. Sure, I’ve had some scares and from the book my mother gave me, I know I’m capable of producing offspring. But, for someone to see me and for it not to be out-of-the-question for me to have a elementary school-aged child, blew my mind. What would my life look like if that were the case?

A baby requires more than your love, your attention, your dedication to maintaining and creating a relationship – it needs to be provided for and protected. How can I expect to be mature enough, secure enough, and uncomplicated enough to keep something else alive, when most of the time, I’m not sure I take care of myself in the best ways?

I may be far from being a child and far from 40, but this baby don’t want no baby.

P.S. Confessions of a Love Addict is making Valentine’s Day more about the single ladies and less about flowers that’ll die in a day. Submit your Valentine here.