A Simple Wish

May your coming year be filled with magic and dreams and good madness. I hope you read some fine books and kiss someone who thinks you’re wonderful, and don’t forget to make some art — write or draw or build or sing or live as only you can. And I hope, somewhere in the next year, you surprise yourself. –Neil Gaiman

At the beginning of 2017 I was given a box that held 260 colorful envelopes filled with notes/quotes/questions/advice from my friends and family. These lunchbox notes were to accompany me each day of work and were to be opened at lunch (thus, the name).  There were instructions directing me to open one first, and it ended up containing the quote above.  These, in turn, became the things I wanted to achieve – a list of what I wanted to accomplish throughout the year – a road map – a bucket list.

So, I wrote a little more. Maybe not sketches, as I’d planned. It turns out that in this political climate my attempts at satire have too sharp an edge to them. I started turning off NPR more (sorry guys, I still love you) and sang more, replacing the news with singing – each time I got into the car.  I even made it out to karaoke, something I hadn’t done in years, and belted out a little Lady Gaga, ABBA, and Kansas. I now have a baby stereo system in the house where I repeat the show daily. (To the delight of my neighbors, Elle King’s America’s Sweetheart is my current go-to.) I made some art, and sent cards off to friends and family. To surprise myself, I entered the Warrior Dash, and I can say I was in fact surprised in the end. This one set me back a bit, causing all of the things to stop, and me to momentarily forget the list.

As I grew stronger, I was able to dive back in – writing, singing, reading, laughing, and creating.  The only one left to tackle was “kiss someone who thinks [I’m] wonderful.” So, a month ago I decided “screw it” and I re-entered the online dating world to give it a more serious try.  I went on three dates over five days. André, of the infamous meltdown, was the first. See below for a recap.

The second was Todd. I have to admit that over the past three weeks I became a 16 year-old girl when it came to all things Todd – a distracted girly mess. One of my male friends joked, “hell, I’m starting to have a crush on Todd” thanks to all of my incessant Todd talk, usually followed by, “do you want to see his picture?” It was terrible, and kind of fun, and it reminded me of staying on the phone for hours in high school, of passing notes, of having my girlfriends spend the night, of listening to music in the darkness of my room, and of daydreaming. He was a reminder that I was still alive, and still able to be reduced to a blushy, giddy little girl mess.

I met Todd a day or two after the André-no-I-don’t-want-to-drive-to-Costco-for-the-great-gas-don’t-put-your-face-near-my-face incident. I went to his place, knowing my adopted big brothers would not be pleased for safety reasons, and watched him put together a doll house for his granddaughter. He was just as beautiful in person, and also very simple in ways I won’t be able to quite convey here.

A few highlights from that evening: He told me, “I’d totally mack with you, but I’ve had a lot of coffee, and I don’t like to kiss with coffee breath.” Wow, umm… I don’t think anyone has ever said they’d “mack” with me. I’m not sure I’ve “macked” with anyone. Maybe I’m not a macker? If we “macked” would this count towards my “…kiss someone who thinks you’re wonderful?” Gaiman didn’t say anything about “macking with someone.” Then Todd professed his love of the phrase “that’s what she said” and probably used it 15-20 different times. Apparently, she says a lot. Todd expressed with certainty that a whole comedy routine based on that line would quite possibly be the best stand-up comedy routine ever.  I’m not so sure. I threw in a few “that’s what she said” lines to make him happy, and he giggled gleefully (alliteration also makes him happy) while continuing to work on this dollhouse (a bit of a structural mess, but it also made him happy). I then turned the conversation to why he loved the town we’re in, because frankly it’s a sea of HOA’s to me, and I hoped he might have some insight that would make me see it differently. His response: “I’m near three strip clubs.” Oh… “Yeah, I love strip clubs and I would totally pay for you to get a lap dance.” At this I had to say, “That actually wouldn’t do anything for me, but thank you.” He smiled and offered up, “well, it would do something for me.” Ohhhh kay… (For any of you thinking a strip club birthday gift card might make the perfect gift, you should give that to someone else.) I got a tour of his apartment and the multiple 8″x10″ prom pictures proudly displayed on the walls. I have to confess, my prom pictures are still in the “vintage” envelope they came in. (Sorry David! I did put one in a photo album and used it for a #TBT thing on FB.)

We ended with a side hug, and I sighed… so pretty. There goes my 16 year old girl, and a 49 year old woman drove home – music blaring, while singing at the top of her lungs.

Two days later, I had coffee with the runner post my half marathon (where I did surprise myself). He was absolutely brilliant. Smart, engaging, a fantastic storyteller (and we all know how I love good stories), and I was none of those things in return. And while I recognize I’m not his type physically, he’s the kind of person who absolutely should be one of my friends. I was lamenting this to my aunt yesterday, and she kindly offered to call him up and explain how great I was.  “You know if you want me to, I’d do it,” which made me laugh. All I could picture was a call that might sound like, “Hi, this is Beth’s aunt. She’s really great; you’d really like her. I’m so proud of her. Anyway, she thinks you’re really neat. She has a lot of really neat friends, so if she thinks you’re neat, then there’s probably something special about you. You should really be her friend. I’m going to have a get together at Easter, and she knows she’s always welcome. You could come, too.” While I loved this idea, and it made my heart smile, I can only imagine how that would sound to a stranger. “Please reconsider being my niece’s friend. We love her.” I love my aunt, and I love that she was serious. Also, a side note to my friends: she really does think you guys are neat. Also, damnit, he was really cool.

So Neil, I failed a little when it came to living up to your New Year’s wishes.

While the year continued to hold a few more hardship, it was also one that was filled with magic, and dreams, and good madness. I read some fine books. I made some art – I wrote, I drew a little, I sang loudly and often, I laughed, and I surprised myself (half marathon!!).  I was surrounded with the best people. Old friends, new friends, and family… and though there were tears, there was more joy.

I plan to do more of that next year.  And maybe… just maybe… I’ll “mack” with someone who thinks I’m wonderful.

Dedication: This was for Tori who suggested I had another blog piece in me before the end of the year. Hears to you, kid!

A Date

I went on a date.  Ok sure, it wasn’t necessarily the person I wanted to go out with, but hey I figured what the hell.  That guy isn’t free, I had some free time, and should the other date actually happen, maybe I won’t act like a new born fawn in some perverse Benny Hill sketch. Maybe, if it happened, I could pass as cool?  Ok fine, this from the girl who once kept dropping cow bells repeatedly every time she walked past a work crush when I was in my early 20’s. (No seriously, I dropped them at least three times – COW BELLS – it’s not like that goes unnoticed. He’d smile, my eyes would get big, and those ridiculous things would fall out of my hands – MULTIPLE TIMES. No amount of, “play it cool, Beth” could make up for the loud clanging on the concrete floor as I blushed profusely, trying to grab them up, then I’d go back for more and repeat that whole scene, because apparently I don’t learn. I may have mentioned I live in a long running I Love Lucy episode. It’s horrifying.) Maybe I should just go ahead give up on this idea that I could ever come off as cool.

We met for coffee, and let me just say here: Starbucks’ Gingerbread Latte is an appalling abomination. No amount of toothpaste or breath mints can rid you of the taste or aftertaste or after-after taste.  This is a public service announcement. You’re welcome. Me being me – I went to the wrong place, because whoopsy, who pays attention? Especially, when given landmarks like “near Walgreens and Wal-Mart”. That’s all my town is. I think I can find three nearby Starbucks that meet that criteria. It took me about 10 minutes to get to the right spot, and my goof was greeted by chastising and a whole lot of words that really amounted to 1) huge control freak, and 2) EJECT!  If he had been the least bit empathetic, we would have seen this goof from my side, which was that while he was momentarily inconvenienced by having to loiter a bit, I had to actually double-back AND update several people who would reign hell fire on him in the event I texted them with “911”. They too had to mentally re-map their routes, dude – not like it was just you who were inconvenienced; it created a small logistical issue. So, self-centered.

We drank coffee, and chatted, which was fine. My only real observations here were: 1) How can so many words fall out of one face? SO MANY MANY WORDS. For the love of all things Holy, please stop making them. No seriously, I need your face to stop moving. 2) Why are you so concerned about where I live? (I made a mental note to ask the security guys how to install cameras) If I changed the subject away from my neighborhood, he’d get back to “no, where do you live. You haven’t answered me. I’ve asked you now a few times.” Will Robinson didn’t even need a robot to be warned – anyone with half a brain cell would have been concerned, and 3) Personal space, observe it.

There’s a running joke about me and hugs, and the fact is that a lot of people can actually hug me. A lot of people can’t. I just keep everyone on their toes by never updating the people who formerly couldn’t that their hug status has been upgraded. And there’s some people I’ve met for the first time that they better hug me, which also surprises older friends who still are in the “no hug” zone. I’m complicated. 🙂 So, back to the date: This guy tried to kiss me, and I presented him with my forehead, because NOPE. Do not get your face near my face, thank you. He made a joke that he kissed my forehead for good luck while I was internally blaspheming up such a storm that I was in danger of multiple lightning strikes. Simultaneously, I tried to work out how to get a whole ton of lye, and pondered whether it might be caustic enough to clean my forehead properly. In hindsight, I’m actually surprised he stopped speaking long enough to attempt such an action, but there you go.

He then invited me to get gas with him at Costco. I have no words. Not that the gas isn’t fine there; it’s just approximately 12-15 miles from where we were. No, I’m not getting in your car. No, I don’t think gas is so amazeballs at Costco that I’d ever be willing to pass 15 other gas stations along the way for your special gas run. And with that I waved good bye, and actually closely watched the cars behind me as I headed home. One followed me into the neighborhood, so I drove a more circuitous route until they were no longer in my site. He’s THAT guy – the kind that gives you that vibe.

We broke up the next day. Well… at least that’s what the texts tell me. I was busy at work, then later ran out with friends to dinner only to find this really long one-sided text conversation which amounted to “Do you like me? Yes? or No? Well, clearly you don’t. You realize I’m quite a great catch. Why don’t you like me? Could you send me a note so I can improve? You’re missing out.” This conversation apparently went on over some period of time. (I should mention, I’m bad with phones and really bad about answering or responding.) So, by the time I got home our relationship had run some course and it was over. YAY!!!!! When I read the entire thing late last night, I nearly burst out laughing. So much drama. You know, someone needs to create a “Do you like me?” app. There could be a push notification, you could decide then and there, and if it’s “no” then the app should go in and delete/block that person. Maybe an obnoxious slamming sound with the word “NO!” could appear on their screen in return.  Whereas, a “yes” could generate date options or some such. This is a work in progress.

All of this to say that I did go on a date. It was meh and drama filled (granted, one-sided drama – which, by the way ladies, he’s free AND he claims to be quite the catch should you all want to have your shot.)

And while this wasn’t particularly great, it added a few new stories to my repertoire. And let’s face it, I’m not dating anyone I don’t think Jay would approve of (and he would definitely not have approved), nor will I date anyone that I feel needs the protective pack of men in my life to explain to him why it would be in his interest to never think of me again. (Thanks guys!)

But hey, date. There will be another this Sunday with a runner who seems much more my speed (well, not running speed – a ton faster there, I strongly suspect).

The things I do for you guys. You’re welcome.