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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Undoing the Undo

Sometimes I wish I could take a week off from my computer. If I estimated how many hours I spend looking at a screen, from my job that’s primarily at a desk to this blog, which takes up some time to write, publish, and promote – I’d be embarrassed of the total.

But the truth is – a computer helped raise me. I can’t remember a time without one.

I come from a generation that’s always known what it was like to be connected to this digital creation and the World Wide Web. In elementary school, we took turns buying a bag of cotton balls so we could clean off our headphones for computer class, where we learned about home row keys and data entry. By the time I was in middle school, I had my own email account (latigar@aol.com, of course) and my parents let me chat in chat rooms before chat rooms needed a warrior like Chris Hansen to get the predators out.

In high school, I started really becoming a journalist with internships and mastering the Office Suite and how to effectively search on AskJeeves.com. I started to become interested in design and because I knew I wanted to work at a magazine, I started figuring out ways to contact editors – I even found interns in groups on MySpace. Time couldn’t change as quickly as the technology and college was full of Adobe and Facebook, Flash, and Google Analytics.

I’m well versed in the language of the web and when a computer challenges me, I fight back until I find an answer. Maybe because I’m so comfortable dancing across the keys or trying something new, but I’m brave to push my limits and explore the tech world, both socially and systematically. I’m not afraid of making mistakes because I know that there is always a saving grace, should I do something to throw the entire program or network off balance.

Undo.

It was a joke at the college newspaper I rose in the ranks of, that when in doubt, just hit undo. This miracle button could correct anything and it gave us the courage to test the waters of new, exciting pages, and scarily complicated CMS features. I felt a sense of freedom knowing I could do basically whatever I wanted to attempt and I’d be okay if something went awry. I wouldn’t be held responsible because I could just delete the action.

Ever since I discovered this free pass, I’ve found myself thinking “Edit, Undo” in my day-to-day when something goes wrong. Like when I’m walking the two blocks from my favorite coffee shop to my job and I spill a nice trail of Splenda-and-skim-infused Java down my blue blouse, five minutes into my work day. Or out of complete frustration and the onset of my monthly visitor, I snap at a friend who is only trying to make me feel better. Or when I say words I can’t take back, do things I can’t change, or leave people who will never return.

But the thing is – there isn’t an undo in life.

We make choices and we’re forced to stand by them. We make our bed and we lay in it. We meet people and we have the ability to decide (Heavens willing) how long they’re with us and how close they grow. We try things and they often don’t work out in the way we want. We take risks and we have trials, and there is no way to step back on that ledge once we’ve left it.

Though the backend of a computer and the Internet is vastly complicated – making those who understand it highly competitive and disgustingly wealthy – there is nothing more complex than the webs we weave. Life is a funny and beautiful thing, yes – but it is also better spent trusting in the decisions you make instead of wondering if there is a way to get out of them.

I haven’t decided if I enjoy black-and-white or shades of gray better, but I will say that it’s time to stop thinking by the ways of the technological world. Sure, it is the way marketing is going. It’s changing my industry daily. It’s going to continue to expand and there will be a boom that wakes us all up, I’m sure. But if we spent as much time in front of this computer, reading and writing these blogs, Tweeting to the world, and posting on Facebook – actually just living our lives – maybe we’d undo the undo.

We’d stop to think in terms of escape or safe merit. We’d understand that the decisions we claim are ours, even if they take us far from where we started with a hell of a long way to go. We’d click with other people and be more synced to ourselves instead of connecting our social media channels and tapping our mice. We’d see that while an easy-out is beneficial for our Apple or our Windows, it’d be better if we didn’t want to undo the life we lead.

Because while coffee stains are nearly impossible to remove, friends may hold grudges, and love may be lost – without those moments, without those incidents that can be significant or small– we wouldn’t learn. We wouldn’t come into our own. We wouldn’t learn to think before leaping, pause before speaking, or consider before leaving. We’d rely on an undo button to make our lives perfect instead of relishing in the imperfections that make life so worthwhile to begin with. Someone would make more money than Zuckerberg if they created something to give us the option to go back and correct the bad that didn’t seem to lead to good.

Maybe so – but as much as a computer-lover as I am, I’d never buy such a thing. I’d rather click publish in my own life than undo. Because, why would I want to undo…me?

Can I Hear Me Now?

I can remember a time in middle school where all I did was talk about the boy I had a crush on. I’d scribble his face all over my notebooks, pair my name with his last , and in permanent ink (because that’s how I wanted our “love” to be) write Lindsay & Mr. So-and-So forever and ever, and ever. I’d spend hours obsessing over the tiny, insignificant details, and wrap myself in the long, white, curly chord of our home phone, discussing what I thought were signs of fate with my BFFs, until and after bedtime.

Did I say middle school? Maybe I meant high school. Or college. Perhaps post-graduation? Isn’t it funny how from the time we become intrigued by love, the way we approach it doesn’t seem to change too awful much, even though we’ve become “grown-ups”?

Women are often criticized for freaking out or for being overly-emotional or taking things too seriously or reading into signals that technically weren’t fired off. Maybe so – but I think we do this to protect ourselves, prepare ourselves for the worse, and probably because we just care that much. I don’t think men necessarily care any less, yet for whatever reason (I’d like to blame how boys are raised to be more independent than women, but I digress) -they don’t let their ‘what-if’ monsters out to play very often.

It wasn’t until embarking on this journey and deciding once-and-for-all that thoughts of what men think, what men want, what men need, what men desire, will no longer lead my life, that my compulsions lessened. To overcome the urge to get fixated on something a man did, I instead, switched to focusing on myself and what I deserve. And this change, so far, has worked well for me.

So well, that I’m not sure what my friends think. Ever since I revealed Mr. Possibility went fishing in the sea of she-fishes, appropriately had a mini meltdown, followed by finally letting myself get upset – I’ve stopped talking about what happened. And really, I’ve ceased discussing him, too. Not only my friends, but some of my followers and readers have emailed me to ask: “What are you going to do about Mr. Possibility? Is he out of the picture?”

If I’m going to continue to be honest, I must admit, that no, Mr. Possibility is still somewhat a possibility. I can’t say for what type of relationship or if for any relationship whatsoever, but he hasn’t disappeared out of my life and I haven’t sent him to the Great Land of Assholes. (Though, a few ex-boyfriends are not-so happily camping there).  We are, in fact, talking on a daily basis and sometimes I give him complete hell, but I’m not writing him off just yet.

A few nights ago before I went to bed (which means morning for him), we decided to video chat instead of Gchatting or texting for an unreasonable amount of hours. We tried with Skype, which only showed my camera the first time, and then only his audio the second try. Hoping the third time’s a charm, we attempted again – but a message popped up on my end saying “Connection isn’t strong enough to video. Please turn off video to secure audio.”

My first thought, at 11:30 at night, while still typing to Mr. Possibility, was “Wait, if the connection is tempoarirly unstable, we’re supposed to close our eyes and listen? We should cease looking ahead, and take a step back to really to hear what the other end is saying?”

Well, Skype, I never thought you’d be that insightful. And neither did Mr. Possibility – when we managed to get Gmail’s video to work, he saw me scribbling in my precious black notebook that holds all of my ideas for this blog, and asked: “Did our videoing tries really inspire something? Can’t wait to read this one!”

With his return to the states still weeks away, I knew that placing all of my attention and using all of my minutes trying to battle what I feel, what I now expect, what I desire, what I think I should stand for, and what I deserve, would be wasteful. It would cause me to bombard my friends with questions they don’t want to answer repeatably (as they always have to with me), wreck my evenings, hold me back at my job, and even worse – keep me from continuing on the path I so badly wanted to travel. I know I can’t turn a blind eye forever and I should take the words he says with a grain of salt – but until there is an actual person standing in front of me, I don’t have to address everything right away.

And so, when I realized what we were developing became fuzzy on both receivers, I knew it was time for me to rid of the dial tone. I mentally clicked “end”, and let my overwhelming thoughts go. I didn’t need an operator to tell me this number can’t be reached, and to try my call again, because really, I’m not ready to call it again. Our connection, or rather our trust that we were building was interrupted, and so I typed in a new number: my own. And thus, instead of hitting re-dial or hearing a busy signal on the other end, I took my life, my emotions, my obsessions, into my own hands and I started listening. Instead of worrying if I could hear (or see) Mr. Possibility, I asked: Can I hear me now?

I stopped thinking about what it would be like to visit him, picturing the first few moments when we finally saw each other again, and hoping he’d do something so incredible he’d make into the blog for something good, instead of something unsettling. In replace of these notions and hopes I had – I put more energy into developing my sense of self, my career, my friendships, and my overall quality of life.

While I may have encountered a hiccup with Mr. Possibility, it isn’t the first one I’ve had with a man and more than likely, won’t be the last. But today, in this moment, I can’t think of any stronger signal with higher bars and a fiercely charged battery than the one I have with myself. And while that link may at times shake and stagger, it’ll never be so weak that I have to disconnect.

Ya Gotta Stop Pushin’

In one of my favorite movies of all time, Mean Girls, Cady (Lindsay Lohan) infamously calls her teacher, Ms. Norbury (Tina Fey) a “pusher.” We all know she was referring to how she encouraged her in math class, but of course, it was construed into some sort of drug addiction –just like any other twist in any other teen movie.

All humor aside, I believe I’m a pusher. Not in math (ha –one class in college and I was done!) and definitely not with drugs, but with a little thing called l-o-v-e.

Every man I’ve ever dated, been in a relationship with, or been friends with has told me how much I need to relax. I can hear each of their voices, both in and out of the bedroom, saying “You worry too much, Linds. Just relax.”

I’m not quite sure I know how to do that.

I push at everything I do. My career, my writing, my looks, my fitness, my place in the world –my life is about pushing forward. And I’m the same way with relationships –hence this program and blog.

So how do I push in love? Let’s just give a few examples:

Scenario: Meet a Cute Boy, Exchange Cards

Love Pusher Actions: Thoroughly find any information I can about him using FacebookGoogleLinkedInTwitterblogs, etc. Search for additional pictures. Try to determine his birthday for my mom to look up (I know she’ll ask). Figure out when is exactly three days after we met so if he doesn’t contact, I can contact him. Attempt to remember something flirty/funny we talked about when we met to bring up cleverly if I have to contact him first.Nervously look at my phone until I get frustrated and make myself not look at my phone for an allotted amount of time. Same goes with Gmail.

Scenario: Met a Cute Boy, Exchange Cards, He Contacts Me

Love Pusher Actions: Start by casually responding and spacing out the amount between text messages or replies so I “appear busy”. Have casual conversation for about a day, then I get nervous and I want to set up an actual time to meet, so I drop hints. For example, “We should get a drink” or “Do you like coffee?” or “Man, I’m hungry!” or “Bored tonight, what are you up to?” and include winky faces when appropriate until he bites. If he doesn’t, I just get to the point and ask him myself.

Scenario: Met a Cute Boy, Exchange Cards, He Contacts Me, We Go Out

Love Pusher Actions: Date starts off well with witty chit-chat and I pick a drink or meal I could afford to pay for myself if he doesn’t happen to offer to pay. Conversation continues and if there’s a lapse in the banter, I feel the need to keep it going. This is when I pull out “21 Questions” or start integrating them. Yep, I bring out the journalist on a first date. I’ve ever played the “Truth or Dare” card, no lies. My mental check-list of qualities I look for in a mind needs to be completed, right?

Scenario: Getting Ready to Go Somewhere (Event, Bar, Party, Running)

Love Pusher Actions: I secretly plan out every possibility there could be for me to run into someone. That guy looked at me from across the subway car,should I get up and move seats? I’m going to this super-candle-lit bar that’s located on 33 West Broadway, that’s my favorite number, so is that a sign? I dreamt about a guy named Brian, and his name is Brian, now that’s a sign, right? I’m attending this business event tonight, is there a possibility I could meet The One? Isn’t that what the psychic said? Could this be the night? The day? The afternoon?

Ehhh.

These are probably not the most becoming qualities, but they are incredibly and sadly true. Maybe I’m a pusher because I like to be in control or because I’d rather know what’s going on and prepare myself for whatever can happen. I guess I’m not a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants lady like I always hoped I’d grow up to be.

Step 3 is about surrendering all of these actions and thoughts to a higher power for it to remove for me. And I’m guessing (if I’m inferring correctly, here)–part of surrendering is allowing whatever is supposed to happen, happen. And it’s letting go. And it’s not being a control freak. And it’s definitely not being a love pusher.

They (as in all of those ridiculously annoying people in love/married/with baby) say the best things and “The Best Thing” happens when you’re not looking for it. When you’re eyes are open but not focused, your heart is ready, but not anticipant.

So surrendering gives all of my power away and makes me have to be chased instead of chasing or planning someone else in my life. Surrenderingmeans I have no clue of what’s going to happen –but as a pusher, I don’t know either.

Instead of pushing and fighting and organizing and strategizing…I’m just supposed to go with it.

Yep. Better get to it. What’s my plan for not planning?

Gmail’s Language Lesson

Addicts have addictive personalities –we are more likely to develop an additional obsession to the one we have. While I could make a wager on having a high-heel fixation –I believe my true second addiction is Gmail.

If I roughly estimated how many times I check my Gmail on a daily basis –it’d probably be close to 75 or more. It’s always up at work, although I set my Gchat status to “Busy” (with the cute little color-coded buttons!). I often will chat with someone via Gchat, read other people’s “Buzz” updates, and every time I see I have a new email –I seriously get excited. I always anticipate getting an important, urgent, or fascinating email that delivers incredible news. I’m not exactly sure what email I think I’ll be getting –but my eagerness never dwindles.

I actually check Gmail before I even check Facebook and I have five accounts –my personal, one for ChickSpeak, one for the ChickSpeak assistant, one for my day job, and one for this blog. I don’t check each of them every single day –but at least once a week. I love all of the features and I think you’d be crazy (or born before 1980) to use any other platform other then Gmail (A little promotional maybe, but if Google sponsors me, I’d be game).

So you can imagine my despair when I woke up Tuesday morning to discover my personal Gmail account had been spammed. Someone or something (not exactly who “they” represents who hacks into accounts) sent a spam link to over 500 people from my name. This doesn’t only include my address book –but basically anyone I’ve ever sent any email to: possible employers, those I worked with at Cosmopolitan or Seventeen and my current job, family, friends, Craigslist postings, and the list goes on and on.

After waking up at the very last alarm at 7:30 with only an hour to spare before having to catch the train –I quickly needed to send out an email to all of those addresses before they woke up to click on the link. As I composed the email warning people not to open the last email from me because it was spam and could potentially cause damage to their computer –I started to wonder about what “spam” exactly is.

Yes, it’s some sort of meat (maybe) concoction that crazy people find tasty, but as defined by Wikipedia (my generation’s Encyclopedia), it’s the “use of electronic systems to send unsolicited bulk messages indiscriminately.”

Think about it: spam infiltrates our computers or our email accounts –both of which are near-and-dear to our hearts, holding all sorts of personal information and proposes the risk of damaging everything we determine has value.

But what about our minds?

I’d say that’s a pretty important part of our bodies. Even though it’s valuable, holds all of our personal information –we send spam through it each and every day. And we allow it to travel throughout our systems –causing possible destruction to our hearts, minds, and overall well-being.

I realized how much my thoughts control my mood, my attitude, my walk, my talk, my concentration, my organization, my eating habits, my stamina, my motivation…my everything.

And every single day –I send out consistent spam through my thoughts. I started paying attention to some of the language I use as a thought-spammer: “It’s just not going to happen for you. Others are meant for love, you’re not.” “You’re not as pretty as she is. Or as skinny. Your skin isn’t as clear either.” “You’re working for a business magazine –is that what you moved to New York for?” “A guy like that wouldn’t like you.” “You need to run more.” “You’re going to be single forever. You’re meant to walk home from my gym alone every single night.”

Wow.

My Gmail gets spammed once in the four years I’ve had the account and I sincerely freak out. I spam myself daily –and I never took note of my negativity. No wonder I obsess or I feel awful or down on myself. No wonder I think poorly of how I look, how I handle things, or how I act. No wonder I feel the need to be validated by a man’s love to make me feel important, worthy, or beautiful.

So what if (this is a good “what if”, no worries) I decided to start notifying myself of the spam going on in my head? What if, when a bad thought goes through my head –instead of listening to it, opening it, and allowing it to filter through my mind –I mentally “emailed” myself to warn me of buying into the spam?  What if I sent out a message similar to the one I sent to all of my contacts that said “Warning: having this thought over and over again will cause you to be sad, angry, depressed, and lonely. It will infect your entire system and outlook –so under no circumstances, do not listen to it. By the way, we haven’t caught up recently, Linds, what’s good and new with you?”

What if I fought my “thought spam” as diligently as I fought my email spam?

Self-defeating, negative, and obsessive single-hating spam has no place in my mind, in my Gmail, or in my life. No archiving, no labeling, no Gchatting with it, or replying to its antics. No storing it for later use when I have a bad day that yields to peanut butter and tears. No filling up the account to its maximum capacity with repetitive notions that serve absolutely no purpose and clog up other outgoing thoughts.

The only way to handle thought spam is by just deleting. And then emptying the trash to make room for better things to anticipate and get ridiculously excited for.