Friday, February 22, 2013

Friday's Letters

Have you ever done a raspberry and had someone snap a picture during it? TRY IT. 
You'll end up with photos like the two above (I promise he is doing it in both pictures) and laugh for a long time.

Dear Readers, Sorry I have been absent lately. Life got a little busy! But have no fear, I am back. Dear Grad School, Tomorrow marks the end of class #1!! Only 9 more to go. Dear Boyfriend, You went from Valentine to Boyfriend...I like it. You make me smile. Thank you for being awesome. Dear Wisconsin Winter, I try really hard to appreciate every season - they are, after all, what I love most about the midwest, but this year has kind of made me want to jump ship and move out West. Dear Body, Can we please clear these communication lines? WHAT ARE YOU DOING?! Dear Friends & Family, I love, love, love you all. A member of my church (and PEO sister) suffered a stroke last weekend and is slowly making recovery steps this week. Her husband's posts have reminded us just how short life is, and how important it is to express your love. So, again I say...I love, love, love you! Dear Self, "Lead me, LORD, in your righteousness because of my enemies— make your way straight before me." Psalm 5:8 {Ps - these scriptures come from the bottom of my weekly instruction notes for cool is that?}


Friday, February 8, 2013

Friday's Letters

Top: 1989 vintage port wine that was accompanied by an amazing Carmella's cupcake.
Bottom: my valentine surprises

Dear MacBook, Seriously ready to throw you against the wall. This has got to stop. Dear Valentine, You're alright. Dear Group Project Member Who Decided Not to Do Any Work on Our Project, Get out of an online grad school program if you don't have the time to commit to it. I did your work this week and think that's ridiculous. Even more ridiculous? You STILL haven't responded to any of the posts on the discussion board. Sweet. Dear Life, Knock on Wood. That's all. Dear Self,  "For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for evil; to give you a future and a hope." -Jeremiah 29:11


Tuesday, February 5, 2013

A recap and cuteness

I finished the Night Train. I went on the date. I didn't send the text.

The Night Train was delicious. I guess this girl can like stouts. I almost wanted to hate it. But I'm not going to think fuck a beer. I finished it, I liked it, it's out of my fridge.

The date was definitely a success. We stayed up way too late talking and I was exhausted at Copper Rock yesterday. We have another date tonight. I'm feeling pretty good but have my natural skepticism. That skepticism is stronger than usual, but think that is for the best. If there's one thing I learned from Stevens Point it is to take things slow. If it's meant to happen, it will; it doesn't need to happen over night.

I didn't send the text. (Pat myself on the back) I think I just needed to write it out. I'm happy that when I looked at it again the next day I had a different feeling. Again, I'm not going to be the girl to force myself into his mind just because I can't get him off of mine. If it's meant to be, it will be.

So, there's that. And now? Cuteness overload. I present to you...the siblings.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Bootstraps and Panties

Well, I drank the Night Train. Rather,I am currently drinking the Night Train. That means it is time to put thischapter to rest and let the next one unfold.

You see, back in November I startedtalking to this guy online. It was right around Thanksgiving. I had done onlinedating last winter and then put my focus on myself for thesummer and fall. Oh, and the ABC boys. And work. And work. And work. Butsomething about the holidays always has a way of reminding me just how single Iam. So in a moment of weakness, I reactivated my account. Not two days later, Iwent back on and cancelled it. But the thing is, I had already paid for amonth, so they were going to give it to me anyhow. Whatever. I didn’t have timeto date, plus none of my initial matches struck my fancy. It was just the dayafter I had decided to ignore my impulse purchase that I got an email from agreat looking guy out in Stevens Point.

I was busy with holiday stuff, plus mycomputer was acting up and my iPad isn’t really compatible with the datingsite. So we exchanged a few emails here and there, but after two weeks Idecided to just give him my number. He was going to be in the area for abachelor party and wanted beer recommendations. Well, that was easy. By the endof that first weekend we had found common ground: work was stressing us out.The next week was full of all night conversations (seriously, I don’t think Iwent to bed before 2a that whole week). We were on the same page witheverything. Originally we had planned on him coming to Appleton on the 22nd.My boys would be gone and we could have a full day to hang out. But by Thursdayof that conversation heavy week, we knew our first meeting had to happensooner.

I told him to name a Sunday and giveme his address and I’d be there. At first he said he’d get back to me in themorning (it was about 2:30a). We said goodnight. Ten minutes later I got thetext with his address that said “this Sunday”. Holy cow. 

Friday and Saturday were full ofbutterflies and nerves and excited texts. We decided to do a beer swap. Each ofus would pick out our 6 favorite micro-brews and switch with each other.

Our date was as perfect as a firstdate can be. I broke every rule in the single girls handbook – I drove to acity where no one knew me, on a day with a horrible forecast for snow and windand travel, and met a guy from the internet at his house. But it was perfect.Conversation was comfortable and easy and natural. He held my hand and openeddoors and never took his eyes off of me. I started feeling an excitement thathad been hibernating for nearly two years.

The next few weeks were a whirlwind.Our nightly conversations were still lasting three or four hours, but theystarted to get more personal, more deep, more future-focused. Things weremoving so fast. But I was so happy to follow his lead. It felt as natural as Icould ever ask for. I spent four days at his house after the holidays. I hadjust lost my job, and he offered a retreat from it all. We spent those daysgetting to know each other even better, looking at rehab ideas on pinterest,sipping coffee at 6:30a and eating hummus at 6:30p. I met his best friend fromwork. And then all of his colleagues. I bonded with his pets. I was so happy,so comfortable. I felt at home.

We connected in a way I forgot was possible. I fell hard for this boy. And it felt so mutual. I felt pursued, which made me feel attractive, and happy, and Lord was I giddy. He saw me through a pretty rough time, but he did it because he was empathetic. Not just sympathetic. He knew my feelings and felt them right there with me. And every time that happened, we grew closer. He made me feel real, and I brought lightness and smiles to him. We were flying high for those few weeks.

And then the world caught up with us.I let down my guard and lost my footing. Nothing awful, he just saw anotherside of me. I was his date for a friend’s wedding, and we were confronted withreality. Something happened to our relationship that weekend and we weren’table to recover from it.

I was devastated. I immediately made an appointment with my therapistbecause I had been here before and I wanted to know if I could change theoutcome. I couldn’t. But this time it wasn’t because I pushed too far, triedtoo hard, said too much. This was on him. But let me tell you, that didn’t makeit any easier.  

For two weeks, I poured over everylast detail. I cried. I turned to my best friends to try and help me sort thisout. I wrote. I prayed. I spent hours on pinterest and blogs finding quotes tosoothe my aching heart. I cried some more. And then I stopped. Because I didn’thave time to hurt like that. I had school and work and 5 high school boys tocare for. So I picked myself up by my bootstraps and I put on my big girlpanties (I bet you were wondering about the title) and I grew. I grew strongeras a woman in those weeks of hurt. Stronger as a single, 20-something,independent woman.

When we first started talking, beforewe even had our first date, he invited me to a concert with him. The concertwas last night. Obviously I didn’t go. He didn’t actually ask if I still wantedto, I guess that was a given. And today, I have a text ready to send to him.And I’m drinking the last of the six beers he gave me on our first date. TheNight Train. How appropriate since my text opens by saying I dreamt about himthe other night (totally true, and weird because I NEVER remember my dreams). And it was a Night Train of a dream.

I don’t know if I’ll send the text.I’ll finish the beer. I’ll go on my little afternoon date that I have. I’llcome home and reread the text, decide if I still feel it. Either way, myboostraps are up. My big girl panties are on. This chapter is closing because Iknow I’m better than this hurting girl. I am stronger and happier than thatgirl. And there are people out there who see that, and people out there whodeserve to see it. I’m not going to let them down. And I’m not going to letmyself down.


Friday, February 1, 2013

On being single

I don't think anyone really likes to write about being single. I also don't know if anyone cares to read about someone being single. People like love stories, romance, and "perfect" relationships. Well, I don't have those things right now. I have real, 20-something, complicated and confusing single-hood. And I do actually want to write about it. Just this once. That might be a lie, but let's go with it. If you don't want to read about my feelings on being single, that's fine. You can closer your browser window and go back to reading about that cute boy and girl who are expecting their first beautiful baby. You won't hurt my feelings. I just need to write, and this is my favorite place to do such thing.

Let's start with the funny. Because, really, it is Friday and I'm sure we could all use a laugh.
  • Online dating. It's funny, people. First, there are the usernames that people come up with. I'm the boring and straight forward Crystal0531. Badinfluencexo? Dogsanddiesels? Skeeter1236? Sorry, fellas. I'm not going to wink back. And I likely won't email you. Yes, I am that judgmental. Ok, and then there are the photos...oh, the photos. I understand that "selfies" are sometimes unavoidable if you don't have anyone to take a photo (but really, there are timers even on phone cameras...). That doesn't excuse the awful bathroom mirror, peace sign, phone in hand photo. Also, keep your shirt on. If you tell me you're "athletic and toned" I will believe you. You don't need to show off your overly flexed abs and biceps. Give me something to wonder about, will you?
  • First dates. I bet even you coupled-up folks remember some of the funny first dates you have been on. Let me tell you, I am getting much better at seeing the funny in these horribly awkward encounters. Don't get me wrong, I've had some great first dates too. But lately...a whole lot of awkward and funny.
We'll go from funny to debbie downer now. Here are some reasons being single just downright sucks.
  • Lack of companionship. In the last year I have learned how to be ok with being alone, with having time to myself. I really do feel quite comfortable with alone time now. I couldn't have said that this time last year. Here's my biggest example with this one: before I started my grad program, before I even applied actually, I was talking to a guy about that particular goal in my life. I was telling him about how I'm looking forward to a point in my life where I can finally slow down just a little bit, and he rebutted with asking if that would be before or after I got my Masters and PhD. I decided to be really honest with him, because sometimes I still make that mistake. I told him that despite being a fairly independent person, I actually had this vision of getting my graduate degrees once I am in a relationship. Something about being in a relationship felt like it would make this process easier; I would have someone there to encourage me when things got tough, give me high fives and kisses when they went well, and another brain to pick or just discuss ideas with. I'm feeling the lack of this hard today. It was a stressful week with school, and I know it's my own doing. But I can't help feeling like having a companion would make this easier...
  • Ambiguous future. Another tough one for me is not knowing what lies ahead. Again, I've been working on this and trying to "let go and let God" but that doesn't always stop by brain from wandering. Where will I be in a year when I finish this grad program? Where will I be looking for jobs? I know I'm young (because God knows somebody was going to say it) but I have such a strong desire to settle down and stop living this wild, carefree, jam packed life. And to me that transition won't happen until I have someone to reign me in.
Ok, now on to the great parts of being single. Again, because it is Friday and who wants to dwell on sad things right before the weekend? Let's end this on a good note.
  • I am creating a whole version of myself. I love George Bernard Shaw's quote, "Life isn't about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself." I think that is a beautiful image, and I feel like I am right in the midst of the busiest creation season. Even in these first two weeks of class, I have had to challenge myself to claim my leadership style, learn my strengths, and articulate my values. This is huge self-creation material, people. Being single and going on first dates (or having conversations that don't even lead to that point) is also self-creation. I'm learning every day, with every conversation, every small interaction, every big move, who I am. And I'm relishing in this process. 
  • My future is mine. And God's. But you know what I meant. I know this seems contradictory to my last negative bit on being single, but hear me out. While I really would love to know that by the time I finish my grad program I will be in a committed relationship and ready to take the next step in my career with an amazing person beside me, I can't/won't count on that. Instead, I get to go through this grad program, and this period in my life, with every door open for me. Do I want to move to Portland? I could. Do I want to stay in Appleton? There's no reason why I can't. Do I want to buy a one way ticket to Europe for next summer and continue my self-creation there? That's my choice to make. The best part about this piece is how uncomfortable it makes me. I know that I'm learning a big life lesson here, and as scary as it is to face in the moment, I know I'm going to look back on it and smile because it made me stronger.
And that's the point I really want to end on. I am learning to be a strong, independent, self-satisfying person. I won't ever deny that I want to be in a relationship, or that I want to meet the guy that I'll spend the rest of my life with. I also don't want to give the wrong impression: I am still consumed by a motherly nurturing instinct. I am still a bleeding heart. I still want to give and give and give of myself. But here's what is changing...I'm learning to be ok, more than ok actually, with having this inward focus. I think that it is making a more balanced person.

So there you have it. The funny, the bad, and the good in my world of single-hood. Thanks for reading. Even if you hated it, I'm glad you read it. Because now you know me a little bit more, and those connections are good. 

Some inspiration for this season of my life...

Friday's Letters

Dear Blogger, I'm upset that I had a whole post saved on my iPad...and it just disappeared. Dear Laptop, I am going to throw you across the room if you don't stop being SO.SLOOOW. And seriously, a new laptop isn't in my budget so please just fix yourself! Dear Life, I am stressed. Did everything have to happen all at once? Really? Dear Self, "So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous hand." -Isaiah 41:10