A Little Veruca-Like

After hearing some disappointing news recently, I set out to walk a few avenues and call whoever would listen to my fretting and rambling. The unluckiest of my friends who picked up my call happened to be R, who listened intently and calmly, letting me finish my obsessively inappropriate freak out.

As I neared the end of my story, over exaggerating, and emphasizing the disappointing facts more harshly than I highlighted the good, I concluded with: “It’s just I want it! I want it now! I don’t want it to be complicated! I just want time to go faster.” Pushing the tantrum to the extreme, I went as far as to stomp the pavement, and glare up at the sky in despair, regardless of the flocks of people on either side. Bringing my stance back to street view, I happened to be right in front of a candy store in Chelsea, and in that instance, I channeled a character that’s not a positive person to relate to.

Veruca Salt.

You know – the brat from Willy Wonka? Who says the same words to her father that I happened to slip to R, and is as intolerable as it gets. She’s the gal who wants the world, the whole world, and demands to be given it…now.

Am I Veruca-like?

I don’t come from money and I’ve never dated men for their money – being rich isn’t a qualification to grab my attention. I’m not a child, though I may act like one from time-to-time, as all well-adjusted adults allow themselves to do. I really don’t want a magical squirrel, though I’ve convinced myself I’ll name any animal I get “Henry,” no matter what it is, which perhaps is more irrational than wanting a rodent, anyway. On the surface, I don’t have the fundamentals of Ms. Salt, but in my actions and in the words I use – sometimes I’m impatient and demanding, and perhaps, I may even have a sense of entitlement. I mean, I am a Gen Y-er, right?

It isn’t so much that I think I should get things because I’m me, Lindsay Tigar. My name isn’t significant or noteworthy; it is just another byline in the hundreds of thousands of budding journalists and bloggers who write to be heard and to give, not to be famous. I don’t usually jump up and down, complaining and whining that my life isn’t going as planned or I’m not receiving all the things I believe should be coming my way. But I do think that if I work hard, if I’m positive, if I’m a basically a good person, everything I’ve dreamt of will surely be mine one day. As long as my visions aren’t magically and lofty, or my commands unappreciative and rude, like Veruca.

But sometimes, what I see for myself is probably unrealistic. I can be overly demanding of what I find myself deserving of, and if the mood strikes me wrong, I can be a bitch just like the next cranky New Yorker.

Once I hung up with R, I walked the 30 blocks back to my apartment, deciding fresh air would be better for me than a crowded cart. Annoyed with myself for overreacting, for getting my hopes up, for getting down on myself for things that are sincerely out of my hands, I thought about the Willy Wonka character I so enjoyed watching as a child.

Confessing to myself for the first time, I realized Veruca had been my favorite to watch. She was so over the top, so awful to her old man and Mr. Wonka and the other kids, that she eventually was declared a “bad egg” and sent down a garbage chute. I liked her though – even though she didn’t have refined qualities like respect and patience, virtue, and understanding – she just wanted what she wanted when she wanted it, end of story.

And that’s the truth of the matter – we’re all a little Veruca-like at times.

But if we learn from the sugary-sweet factory she played in, we know the one who finishes the race isn’t the one who skips ahead. It isn’t the one who rushes Father Time or gets everything they want. It’s not the person who overindulges or decides to cut corners and not fight fair.

The one who eventually finds that golden ticket – in whatever form it takes that means the most to us – remembers to be honest. Not only with the world, but with themselves too. Even if that means admitting Veruca is a part you play more often than you’d like to admit.

The Non-Negotiables

I make incredible demands on myself.

Some may call me a perfectionist, others may coin the term “over-achiever”, and I can’t even begin to count the amount of times someone has told me they envy my bravery. But to me, none of these titles really fit who I am because I’ve never thought twice about pushing myself to the extreme or shooting for my dreams – no matter how unattainable they may seem. To me, the most terrifying risk is not giving the things that matter the most, my everything. I’d rather fail a thousand times than to never try once. My expectations are undeniably high for what I hope to achieve and where I want to go in life.

And the same level of elevated standards applies in my relationships, too.

In the past, as I would go on and on to my friends about a date gone awry, a relationship that fizzled quicker than it boiled, and how for whatever reason, it was impossible for me to find someone who wanted to stay on the same page as me – most of them, either out of frustration, wisdom, or from what they thought was the right thing to say, advised: “Well maybe you shouldn’t expect so much.”

Is going into a dating situation or even the start of an official relationship without any expectations the best solution? They say if we don’t really anticipate much, we’ll be happy and pleasantly surprised with anything we get…right?

Well, I don’t know about you – but I can’t seem to wrap my head around this idea. If we don’t have standards, if we don’t insist upon certain qualities or things that are absolutely non-negotiable, wouldn’t we only attract men who are completely wrong for us? Or even worse, end up with someone who isn’t right for us, but could be perfect for someone else? Or vice versa? Wouldn’t we miss out on someone who we don’t feel the need to change?

I believe there is this thin line between having unrealistic images and hopes for what a relationship or person will be, and demanding what you will and will not settle for. That regardless of how wonderful someone looks on paper or in person, if they don’t meet what we know we need to be fulfilled and happy, then entertaining a love affair is wasteful of our energy, heart, and time. Sure, men are people too, but so are we – and we have personal standards that we shouldn’t (and probably can’t) shake.

So yes, I have expectations, and no, I’m not willing to lower them just to be deemed someone’s girlfriend, have someone give me a Valentine’s Day card, or find my match that I’ve always been told I can’t live without. (Though, I’m pretty positive I can).

My ten non-negotiables are actually quite simple, in my opinion, anyways:

Ya gotta be employed

And legally, for the record. You could be a millionaire or make what I make, as long as you have a job and you’re not sleeping on your mother’s couch or in your childhood bedroom. If I’m going to be an adult, I want to date one, too.

Ya gotta be taller than me

I’ve only dated guys over six-foot, but I’m not opposed to seeing if a 5’10 man would fit my fancy. The only thing is I love high heels and always will; so if I can’t wear my highest ones and be at least a little shorter than you, I’m not interested. May be superficial, but absolutely true.

Ya gotta be self-sufficient

As in, it is not my responsibility to transform you. That’s up to you, bud. I don’t want to fix you, I don’t want to mend your every worry, your every self-defeating prophecy, or your every case of blue balls. I also don’t want to control every conversation or lead you through discussions – you should have opinions and charisma inside of you already, that are not because of me. Life is full of bumps and I’ll sit in the passenger seat, but you’re in the driver’s.

Ya gotta want to have sex (and it has to work)

Think all men are sex-crazed maniacs? They really aren’t, and I’ve dealt with the ones who never want to do the deed, who can’t seem to make it rise to the occasion, and who just don’t have a clue what they’re doing. At our age, we should know better. And if we don’t, we should make an effort to learn.

Ya gotta be honest

Being charming and funny are also recommended, but above all other things – you have to be genuine. A big part of my job is searching and revealing the truth, so I value it. Even if it hurts me, even if it isn’t pretty, even if it changes my mind about you – just tell me. I’d rather know than to be fooled or oblivious. And you should remember the one person you should never get on the bad side of…is a journalist.

Ya gotta have your own world

I’m not one of those ladies who wants to be the center of her man’s universe. Sure, I like to be doted on, admired, and reminded that I’m beautiful (who doesn’t?) – but I’m also very independent. Even when I’m married, I’m going to need some nights with the girls and nights just by myself. You gotta have buddies and interests and hobbies that have nothing to do with me, please.

Ya gotta have energy

I’m a fast walker, a fast talker, and always a gal on the go. While I enjoy a lazy  Sunday afternoon and will gladly sit through sports with you (as long as you’ll return the favor by going to a show), I mostly want to be doing something. And whoever I’m with, should challenge me mentally along the way. So if you’re going to date me, you’re going to have to keep up with me – this may mean you’ll need to have Red Bull within reach.

Ya gotta let yourself go

I don’t think I’m God’s gift to men – and I know you’re not God’s gift to women. But, we could be sent from the heavens to meet one another. So please, don’t take yourself too seriously. You don’t have to be the best dancer and you don’t have to sing on key – but if you can’t have fun in our living room or at a concert – I’m not going to crave having fun in other parts of the house.

Ya gotta be open-minded

Yes, I want you to have your own opinions, but I also hope you are tolerant of those things you don’t believe in, don’t like, and of those who are different from you. Brownie points if you’re addicted to community service and volunteering as much as I am.

Ya gotta like NYC, the kiddies, and the puppies

Sure – I’m not at the point where I’m ready for children, but I can’t be with someone who doesn’t want them…ever. Also, I can’t rationalize picking a mate who hates the city I adore. As for the puppies – who doesn’t love them? I mean really?

Maybe I’m being too stubborn and overly ruthless – though those qualities have served me well in my career – but when it comes to finding love, I choose to believe that I’m worthy of the best. And when or if I meet Mr. Right, he’ll know that he has someone who is more than precious – but irreplaceable, because I hold myself, him, and our love to great expectations.

And that will never be open to negotiation.

PS: I’m curious to what your non-negotiable list. Comment below or email me and I’ll tweet them!

A Toast to My Ladies

Much like when I moved to New York, when I went away to college – I didn’t really know anyone. Sure, I stayed in-state, so I knew of a handful of classmates who attended the same university, but no one who was in my core group of friends. I was probably more afraid of traveling two hours away from home than I was about moving 12 hours to the city.

As an overachiever, I landed myself on the Leadership & Service floor, where I was surrounded by others who went above-and-beyond in college (or those who just knew it was a nice dorm to stay in and somehow were accepted). The 40 or so of us called ourselves “L3” (for the residence hall name and floor number) and traveled in packs…everywhere. To the gym, to the parties, to the quad, and to the classes we all had together – and within those dozens, out of luck (and a bit of fate) – I met the two women who would define, shape, and share my college tenure.

A, was my first roommate. I’m an only child (technically I have a half-brother, but I don’t really know him), so going away for school was the first time I ever had to share my space. Fortunately, A was quite easy to live with, we shared the same sleeping/eating routines, and well – we became the very best of friends right from the get-go. My first memory of her is linking arms, skipping down the main strip in our college town, and giggling about how we were going to our first fraternity party. It wouldn’t be our last time frolicking about campus like we ruled the world–she’d go on to be an ambassador for our school, while I’d be high-up in the school newspaper and eventually, join a sorority, and attend more Greek parties than I’d like to admit.

Four rooms down from A and I, lived L – a girl who when I initially saw her, was instantly jealous. To this day, I still think she is one of the most beautiful women I’ve ever laid eyes on. Her skin is flawless, her body has always been in tip-top shape (even when she doesn’t try), and she knows how to dress. Truth be told, before meeting L – I didn’t even wear “real bras”, but rather, sports bras because I was rather uncomfortable with my bigger beauties. While they’ve shrunk since then (I lost the freshman 15 instead of gaining it), I’ve remained a loyal customer at Victoria’s Secret ever since, thanks to L. Together, we went through some of the most difficult periods anyone can experience: my father’s illness, the passing of her mother, countless boyfriends (and lovers), and maintaining a long-distance friendship when we’d both go other places.

These women, while vastly different, gave me most of what I needed in the three-and-a-half years I attended college. When they met me, I was overly indulged in my love-addiction-ness, and they both said: “Linds, why are you so worried about this? We’re so young; we have all the time in the world. Ya know, I don’t even know if I want to get married!” A and L are very independent, like me, and had such large dreams for themselves, such high ambitions for where’d they be and what they wanted to do that relationships were completely off of their mind. This was a far-fetched idea for someone like me, who lived, breathed, and obsessed about love.

At the time, I was dumbfounded that anyone could ever truly not have the desire to get married (I’ve since changed my mind), but what’s more ironic is that A and L had more boyfriends and longer relationships than I did in college. They didn’t freak out too badly about them, but if you count up my time flying solo and their time – mine is much higher.

And now, L is in the army and engaged (I’ll be the MOH!), and A is on a four-month all-around-the-world vacation with the man I’m convinced she’ll marry. As for me, I’m single. Scratch that – happily single.

Isn’t it funny how the tables turn?

When senior year rolled around and I couldn’t stop talking about moving to New York, breaking up with Mr. Idea, and starting my writing career – they were in love with their boyfriends and wondering when they’d finally get that ring. When A came to visit me for fashion week in September, we even spent a few hours on Diamond Way, where I took notes about what size, style, and cut she’d like. And when L was given one phone call during boot camp, we spent the majority of the time discussing whether or not the “feeling” that her boyfriend would propose over Christmas meant anything. Well, since he’s her fiancée now, her gut was psychic. (Isn’t it always?)

Don’t get me wrong, I’m very happy for both of them and I actually like the guys they’ve picked as life partners – which if you know either of my friendships with these ladies, is quite the miracle. Us girls are pickier about the men our friends date, then we are about the ones we partner up with, right?

But with A and L being currently unreachable by text or phone call, I’ve realized how true it is that like life and love, friendships are in stages and cycles, too. Instead of being the one who is overly concerned with the man in her life, I’ve now become the bouncing board for my friends who are. Instead of crying and getting all sorts of upset about the Guy-of-Friday, I’m trying to help my friends get into the dating scene. And maybe even stranger, I’m growing closer and closer to other gals (the single ones), and further away from A and L.

Like any relationship that is meant to be – I’m sure when we actually get to spend some time together again, it will be like no time passed at all and our banter will flow the same, but there will be a major difference. And that’s me.

Sometimes I worry about the fact that this journey is literally changing me. The way I approach things, the way I respond, the way I think, and perhaps even the way I feel towards certain areas of my life, primarily love, continues to transform. I can’t help but wonder, what if those who have known me forever, start to wonder who the hell they’re talking to and don’t even recognize the Lindsay they once knew?

I’d like to think that even with my growth and maturity, I’m still the hopeful woman who believes there is a Mr. Right out there for me – it’s just now, he isn’t my primary concern. While I may not be able to relate to having the feeling of ‘just knowing’ or really crave it, I’m thrilled for those who have. And when L (and soon, A, I’m sure) transcends down to ‘I do’ with a man – I trust she knows ‘I am’ here for her, just as much as he is, if not more.

So, here’s to my ladies: to L and to A and my new friends (on and offline), regardless if you’re single or taken, married, widowed, or engaged, old or young, bitter or hopeful, addicted or uninterested in love – let’s stand by each other, hand and hand or click by click, through thick and thin, the princes and the frogs – and know that regardless of where this crazy journey takes us or where we end up, that we have one constant that never changes: the power of friendship. Let’s accept each other for where we are in our lives, where we’re going, and what we’re doing – even if we’ve never experienced or chosen it for ourselves. After all, we are each other’s soulmates more so than any man could be, anyways.

And with this toast, I hope L and A see that instead of sailing around the dance floor in a big white dress in front of a fleet of bachelorettes, I’d rather dance on tables during fleet week with some lonely sailors.

I hope they’ll understand. And something tells me…they will.

Thankful for A New Kind of Love

When I started this blog months ago, I really had no expectations.

I had reached this point where I realized how much the yearning and the desire for love and for a man to validate me was tearing away little pieces of my heart each day. The pressure I was putting on myself to find “The One” and to finally stop searching and stop dating and stop fretting was immeasurable. I was exhausted, I was down on myself, and any ounce of positivity and hope I had ever had…was long gone from any recent memory.

And so, on a whim, I signed up for a WordPress blog and my friend M and I came up with the 12-steps. I never intended to write every day and I never thought anyone other then my best friends would read what I wrote. I never anticipated any sort of reaction at all and if anything, the blogs would be something I could hold onto for years to remember my 20’s and all of their madness. And of course, I had no idea if doing a self-proscribed and created 12-step process to gain back confidence and let go of chasing after “Happily Ever After’ would work. In many ways, I doubted I’d see any change at all.

But here I am, on Step 4, and seeing the progress I’m making each and every single day. I feel more relaxed and more confident than I’ve been in a very long time. I’ve transformed my thinking-processes (sometimes they get the best of me, but still) and the attitude I have towards love, relationships, and men. I’ve started taking away what I’ve learned instead of what I resent, and by not ruling out any man who is unavailable in any sense – I’ve gained a true, wonderful, friend (who just happens to be a dude, too).

I compliment myself and encourage myself to not only go above and beyond what I’m capable of doing but to rest and to cherish the quiet and the times of immobility. The hope that I thought would always be extinguished has started to weather a new flame, and something, down deep in the most profound parts of my soul – I feel like I’m doing exactly what I was meant to do.

And yet, there are days when I don’t want to write a blog. When the only thing I want to do is hide from the world, call in sick, turn off my cell phone, curse every man who ever chopped away my pride and my purity, and scream at the universe for making me so miserable and alone. There are questions that live unanswered in my heart and people I think of every day, but never call. There are memories that burn painfully inside and nights where even the city in its everlasting wonder can’t take away the pang of loneliness.

But it is in those moments, those down-low-and-dirty seconds where I start to lose momentum or the passion to continue on this journey and on this blog – that I think of you. And yes, that means you – whoever it is reading this blog right now.

When I made the decision to put it all out there – on my personal Facebook, on a Facebook fan page, on Tumblr, on Twitter, and on the winding web of WordPress (not to mention 20-Something Bloggers and BlogHer) – I did it because I knew I wasn’t the only single girl feeling the way I did (and still do at times). I knew I wasn’t the only one who felt things in the pit of her stomach that she couldn’t swallow, dare say them out loud. I knew I wasn’t the only one who longed for a Prince Charming or just a man who sticks around through everything, no matter what. I knew I wasn’t the only one who dreamed a little dream as a little girl, and in some little apartment in a great big city is making a little life for herself on a little budget.

Because that’s the thing about being a 20-something or being a single woman (or man for the matter) – sure, we’re all unattached, but in some cosmic, magical way – we’re all attached. We’re all connected in those same feelings and in those ridiculous fleeting thoughts and ideas that we get consumed by. We may be in different places all over the world, at a variety of ages, and with different men who represent Mr. Fling or Mr. Unavailable or Mr. Fire or Mr. Rebound – but together we stand single and dealing with it. And hopefully in time, celebrating our independence and freedom, while still having hope that when the time and the rhyme is ideal- we’ll meet that right person.

So on Thanksgiving Day and always – thank you. For proving to me there are so many other people in the world who share my struggles and my thoughts. For supporting me by commenting and promoting my blog to other people. For Tweeting about the blog and Tumbling away the posts. For emailing me such wonderful thank you letters and for sending loving Facebook messages. For laughing with me and sharing in my sadness. For giving words of kindness and of criticism to help me see things in a different way.

Thank you for making me thankful to be a single woman at this stage in my life so I can have the ability to help others and for the first time, realize how special and temporary this portion is. And instead of being depressed to be without a boyfriend at Thanksgiving dinner, I can think of nothing more promising and exciting then finishing the 12-steps and gaining that strength I so badly desire and need. Now, I’m thankful for a new kind of love – blog love.

And again (and again and again!) thank you for your continuous support and for encouraging me, no matter what, under any circumstance, to ever miss a day of blogging. Because now, instead of this journey just being about me and what I’m going through – it is about all of you and the path you’re going down, too.

And for as long as you wish, you’re more than welcome to walk by this single girl. We’ll even stop and get margaritas somewhere along the way.

All the She-Fishes in the Sea

I’ve never been “one of the guys.” When I younger, I longed to be called me a “tomboy” – but now in hindsight, I haven’t fit that nickname once in my entire life.

And because I’m not coined as a guy’s girl, I’ve gladly and proudly accepted being a girly girl. Being a feminine lady has a lot of perks, in my opinion, and the best of all – is having a ton of lovely girlfriends. My friends have helped me cope when nothing else could get worse, when my heart was crumbled, and when I felt far from beautiful. They’ve also been there to celebrate my victories with champagne, hugs, squeals, and night’s out on the town. There is nothing more sacred, precious, or beautiful then the bond between two women who were meant to be the very best of friends. Like I’ve said before, my group of closest ladies are my soulmates, through-and-through, 24-7, forever-and-always, and no matter how ugly or old we become one day.

Before I moved, I knew I’d have to find a job and a place to live. I was prepared to live off of Ramen noodles and PB&J sandwiches for months or take a waitressing gig if that’s what it took to stay in this magical city. But what I never anticipated was how insanely difficult it is to make friends.

Making this transition in my life meant I would have to leave behind everything I’d ever known and everyone who had meant everything to me. I knew by chasing this dream, I would go alone, far away from the rolling North Carolina hills – and pounding that city pavement would be my own personal quest, without a companion. In many ways, the decision to move to Manhattan was a selfish one, and something that I did just for me, and in no way would I ever go back and make the jump with a friend or boyfriend. Part of the victory beauty, and accomplishment to me, is that I did it as a single woman.

And while I’ve learned how to enjoy dates with myself and evenings in solitary confinement – sometimes, I just get lonely. And this loneliness doesn’t stem from needing or desiring a man – but from needing and longing for my friends. I miss laughing and being ridiculous. I miss getting all dressed up for no reason other then its Tuesday and we feel like it. I miss parading around to powerhouse woman songs and someone (or me) asking twenty times “Do I look fat? Now, really, tell me if I do. You’d tell me, right?

Don’t get me wrong, being the go-getter I am, I have wasted no time in attempting to find women with similar interests. I’ve gone to happy hours in my industry, joined volunteer groups, signed up for the gym, and tried to get some of the many gay men in my life to introduce me to their “wives.” And yes, I’ve made a few amazing and dependable friends this way – but I still find myself sitting alone with a movie and a dustpan some Friday nights, wondering where in the world my social life has gone.

I realize building everlasting friendships is always a work in progress and that no one on this planet could ever replace my core group of friends growing up. But that doesn’t mean I don’t want someone here to vent my life to, share our mutual achievements and difficulties with, or go get fruity drinks and flirt with boys we’re not interested in at bars…simply because they’ll pick up the tab (sorry, it’s the sad truth, guys).

So what’s a gal gotta do to find her group of friends in a brand-spanking-new zip code? If we all want the Sex & the City lifestyle – no matter how far from the actual reality of New York as it is – you can’t have a Mr. Big without a Charlotte, Miranda, and Samantha to talk about him to.

In some way, I think my love addiction intensifies when I’m bored at my apartment and feeling un-friendable makes me reach out to men that I’m not even remotely interested in. Or it makes me consider texting those Mr’s from my past simply for the attention I know they’ll give me. And meeting new men almost seems virtually impossible, unless I want to sit alone at the bar alone, which makes me look like I have a different type of addiction. Right?

Finding friends feels like a chore and a part of my recovery that I never thought would be such a critical component. To overcome something that’s so insanely burned into your DNA – you need support and guidance. And while my friends from home are constantly emailing, texting, messaging, and calling me with their endless wisdom, honesty, and kindness – sometimes all I really need is a hug. Or a night out without any male interruptions.

Is it possible to be heartbroken because you simply can’t find a best girlfriend in the very best city in the world? If it has never been hard for me to meet friends, why is it so difficult now, in a city with millions of people?

What part of the friendship puzzle, secret handshake, or girl code…am I missing? If there are so many friendshe-fishes in the sea, why can’t I find a few who fit me?