Love at My Age

Love at my age is a mixed bag of emotions. You reach in to grab a handful and never know if you will come out with fear or joy.

By the time you reach your 30s, most of us have had our share of relationships of every category – puppy love, first love, flings, true love, friends with benefits, one night stands, cohabitation, engagements or even marriages. No matter if these relationships brought you smile or tears they still affect you in some way and the accumulation of all of that gets brought with you into a new relationship and into the arms of the poor sap who has to deal with it all.

So it is with these emotions, for better or worse, that I have entered into my current relationship. I am insanely in love and much happier than I have been in a very long time. I couldn’t ask for more. I am even more fortunate that he and I have been close friends for 7 years. The fact that he knows me so well and vice versa has made it that much easier to deal with these past emotions because we have been present in each other’s lives during most of the big relationships. There is great comfort in knowing that he loves me in spite of all of that chaos from the past.

However despite how much I trust him and how mutual our love is, those “Cinderella scars” (see one of the first posts on this blog) still resurface and stab What Ifs into my mind…What if he’s like the others? What if he cheats on me? What if he leaves me? What if he lies? It is a constant struggle to remind myself that HE IS NOT THEM. He actually helped me get over them over the years. The key is to focus on all of the good things he does for me everyday that reminds me of his love for me.

On the other end of this emotional scale is the joy. I cannot express how glad I am that I didn’t get married sooner because at my age I have gained a greater amount of confidence. I know what I want and what I won’t accept. I’m more tolerant, more patient and more rational. I think before I act or speak (I don’t know about you but I certainly didn’t have that skill in my early 20s). Handling a serious relationship at this level of maturity is less stressful. I appreciate him and what he brings to the relationship more now because I am more secure with who I am and what I can bring to the relationship.

Perhaps it’s because he’s my best friend or perhaps it’s because we are both older and more mature, but I feel an intense amount of satisfaction and a deeper connection with him than any of the others in the past because I’m finally ready for this…

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The Greenness of the Grass

I live a life that many envy.

No one depends on me. I have no mortgage, and within the next few months no credit card debt. There is nothing and no one truly holding me back from my dreams nor my spontaneous traveling desires. I live in an exotic country. I date who I want, when I want. I am free to eat peanut butter from the jar for breakfast should the mood strike. I enjoy the freedom of making my own decisions such as which social events to attend and how to spend my money…without compromise. My apartment is quiet or loud, messy or clean – based entirely on MY whims.

I am in my 30s. I am single. I am free. I am enjoying life. I am finding my own happiness.

But…

there do come some days, just a mere few, when I feel like the many characters in American movies. The ones who are insanely busy, living in a fabulous apartment in the city, smiling about how great life is…until they stop being busy. Then the sense of loneliness overwhelms them and they wonder if those on the other side may have it right after all. Maybe the human desire for love and stability is stronger than the desire to be free after all. Just maybe.

The holidays of course bring this feeling about with a much greater force. Not to mention these characters are portrayed in seemingly 75% of all holiday movies. The end scene showing them running, not walking, to the other side of the fence wherein lies the pretty wife, 2 kids, white fence and 2 car garage.

Now mind you, I only have very few of these days. The rest of the time, this Gemini is thoroughly enjoying her freedom from cages of any kind. So I do not want to put out the idea that I am longing to settle down anytime soon. I have too much traveling yet to do to make up for my 20s lost in cubicle-land and it may prove difficult to find a potential husband willing and able to go along for the rides. Not to mention that the men I meet lately have a rather skewed view of what constitutes a committed relationship, so I have little faith in finding one worth risking my happiness for – but that is definitely a blog for a different day.

What I would like to point out though is that despite the lovely greenness of the grass on my side of the fence, there are days when the grass begins to lose its bold green and wilts just a touch, due to not having a rock to shade it from the elements.

And on those days feel free look away and appreciate the loveliness of the grass on your side and smile at whatever life you may have hand-picked for yourself.

Top 10 Cleaning Tips from One Bachelor(ette) Pad to Another

Lately, my apartment has begun to look like a bachelor pad.  Anyone else have this problem?  I am fully prepared to blame it on the fact that I’m not home all that often these days (and less so starting next week) and I haven’t quite found the right chi-fengshui-energy-whateveryouwannacallit for this apartment, which means I am less inclined to be productive in it and do things like, ya know, clean.  Funny thing is I am pretty much a germaphobe, just not so much when it comes to my own place – probably because they are my germs vs that of some man whose hands have touched the subway handle before mine (sorry men, but statistics show that men are less likely to wash their hands after going to the bathroom – which btw is even worse because they have direct hand to man-part contact – so I’m using your species as a germarific example).

I shall not go into the specifics of my particular pad, but I thought I’d share some time/energy saving tips that Martha Stewart and Mr. Clean would NOT be proud of.  For us single 20 and 30-somethings who are just too busy being the social and technological beasts that we are, we simply can’t do things their way anymore.

1.  Pick one spot for each category of clutter to go.  Instead of strewning (oh yeah, you are loving that made up word aren’t you?) your clothes all about like they were doing the Hokey Pokey, throw them on one chair or on top of one dresser, for easiest clean up.  Ever watched the scene from Love Actually when Sarah unexpectedly has Karl over and tries to hide all her clothes in the 5 seconds that is walking up the stairs?  Yeah, don’t be that girl (or guy).

2.  Multi-task.  As if we don’t do this enough already right?  But this time, apply it to your cleaning methods.  For example,  I rarely cook at home (why would I when you can eat out so cheap in Korea?), but the one thing I do cook is pasta.  With about a 15-20 minutes time frame between boiling water and cooking the pasta, that is a good time to wash the dishes.  Not only can you keep a better eye on the noodles (ever overcook something because you were glued to FB?), it also cleans out the sink for the colander when you drain the water.   Make it a competition to see if you can finish them before the noodles are finished.

3.  Speaking of dishes in the sink.  Rule #1 to avoid mold and strange smells?  Rinse the dishes when you are finished with them and empty out the water.  If you put water in them to soak then forget about them for a couple days…hmm …stagnant water smell, not so sexy.

4.  Avoiding foul odors.  Since I am not home often, it takes awhile for me to fill up even the smallest of trash bags, especially in Korea, aka Recycleland.  So what is a girl to do with all the empty take out containers she brings home?  Store them in the fridge or freezer until you are ready to take out the trash.  It will keep the apt smelling much nicer.

5.  While on the subject of fridges…stop going crazy with fruits and veggies on your ‘I’m gonna be healthy from now on’ day.  You and I both know that you will bring it all home intent on making smoothies and fruit plates for dessert, then you will go back to your junk food binging (because cutting up fruits and veggies takes way too much time away from your social media surfing) and be left with rotting fruits and veggies in the fridge, reluctant to throw them away and admit your defeat.  Now, I’m not saying don’t eat healthy, lord knows we all need to.  I’m just saying don’t go all Costco on it in one day.  Only buy that which can be cut up during the duration of the SYTYCD episode that you plan to watch that night.

6.  Open your windows!  Even when it’s cold, even for just an hour while you hover under blankets.  It is worth it.  Fresh air brings new life back to you and your apt.

7.  Invest in the most convenient cleaning supplies.  You should be buying stock in Swiffer (wet and dry), a dustbuster and antibacterial wipes.  Who has time to bust out a big vacuum, a bucket, rubber gloves and a harsh cleaner every week?  Not I!  I don’t recommend it as your only cleaning path, but for quick jobs and to keep life a little more livable in between cleaning cram sessions, have these brilliantly convenient ditties on hand.

8.  Have less stuff.  Seems obvious that less stuff means less you have to clean, but how many of you have really made the commitment to throw old things away?  Why are you keeping CDs when they are all uploaded and backed up on your computer?  Have an e-reader?  Then, start weaning off of your book collection.  Books collect dust (so do the shelves you need to put them on) and sometimes you can even attract book mites (sometimes referred to as book lice).  With the ever-growing world population, move to urban areas and all-in-one electronics, having less clutter is the new green.

9.  Have less stuff 2.0.  To include less dishes.  Less dishes means you will run out of dishes faster and be forced to wash what’s in the sink before they get nasty.  That’s right people, start getting rid of those cereal bowls.

10.  Have company.  Best way to get motivated to clean?  Invite people over.  It’s one thing for me to live in the dust and strewn clothing and sink full of dishes, but I’ll be damned if I let someone else see that unattractive side of me.  If you are like me and don’t like to host people often, have it a simple ‘stop by and pick something up’ visit.  If combined with #9 they can come pick up the extra dishes you no longer need.  Two birds, one stone.  That is what this generation is all about (just with less bird killings).

Any tips you wish to share?

Fear of Fallen Pedestals

Man on Pedestal

Image by Ashtonian54 via Flickr (btw, this is NOT the guy in the post, just an image Zemanta gave me)

So, there’s this guy…

(Ladies, raise your hand if you have started a story like that before?   If you haven’t, look to your left and to your right.  Guaranteed one of the ladies on either side of you has.)

…I won’t go into the whole story at the moment about said guy because that will be a great story for another day if/when we actually get involved in a relationship (we are not currently together, nor have we been in the past.  – ‘I did not have sexual relations…’  Hahaha, anyone else think of Clinton there?)  I kid you not, this is the kind of story that would make a great and unique romance movie.  Producers and Screenwriters please contact me for more details.  😛

What I do wish to talk about is how I think this guy may be The One.  Oh lord.  Even saying it now it sounds so cliché.  It’s possible he is, but with so many factors involved it’s also possible that he isn’t.  Nevertheless, the thought crosses my mind more often than not because I’m a woman and we love to torture ourselves by obsessing over the ‘what ifs’ of the world.

If he is The One, then that would be great because I’ve waited long enough in general and more specifically for him.  From my perspective it would be good timing for both of us.  BUT – and there is a but – if he is The One, that thought scares the bejesus (such a kooky word) out of me because that means I have lifted him up on a pedestal.

The same kind of pedestal that I lifted the others onto.

The others.  You know, the ones who came before him who showed up on my doorstep with all the right signs of serendiptatiousness.  The ones who, for however brief a time, I thought had what it took to be The One.  I was so sure about each one of them.  But they all came tumbling down.  One.  By.  One.  So what if I hoist him up there and he falls down too?  I don’t know how many more of these falling pedestals I can get out from under.

And if he isn’t The One?  That scares me too and two-fold.  One because it may ruin our long running friendship and I can’t imagine my life without him.  And two because that means I’d have to start all the way at the bottom of the ladder again to find someone worthy enough to build a pedestal for.

Basically there’s a whole lotta fear going on up in here (pointing and swirling hand around brain).  I want it to be him.  I do.  He accepts my weaknesses and strengthens them, always makes me smile and we are practically opposites in most things so life with him would never be boring (which is a benefit for my Gemini mind as it needs constant mental stimulation).  And my parents actually like him, which would make life easier.  There are many other reasons, but again I’ll save the nitty gritty for another day.

So whether he is or he isn’t, I will have to face my fears.  It has been a very long time since I let myself be this vulnerable.  Let’s hope I remember how…

The Cycle of Sadness

Sad face :(

Image by fmgbain via Flickr

This post is written for the ladies because I do not know many men who will admit to having these kinds of days.  Or if any of them actually ever do?  Health nuts I don’t think you want to read this – I’m just saying.  But ladies, let’s see if you feel me on this one…

It all starts when something sets you off.  A trigger if you will.  Maybe the guy of the week didn’t call.  Or maybe he did call and said something you didn’t expect.  Maybe your plans for the day with your girlfriends got canceled.  Or you watched a movie or show that struck some emotional chord inside and you broke down.  Maybe you are just feeling lonely for some unknown reason, despite the number of friends and social activities you have.  Emotions such as this are not always logical nor clearly laid out.  They just exist and you have to deal with them.

So you actively begin to plan your wallowing day.  Of course there are better, healthier ways to balance your mood, but you can’t be bothered to think that hard.  I mean this is a ritual for us.  We have this down to a science do we not ladies?  You go to the convenience store, load up on a few junk food favs like Oreos, Doritos, gummy bears, Ben & Jerrys and maybe a chocolate milk.  Yes gentlemen, we do fully intend to eat all of these things (or at least a part of each of them) throughout the day.  Do not judge us for it unless you’d like us to inject more estrogen into your behinds and see how you handle emotional roller coasters.

These things cannot be eaten while dressed for cuteness, so a change is in order.  You break out the sweats.  What’s your preferred comfort outfit?  For me it’s my uber-comfy baggy sweatpants and my 311 long sleeve t-shirt from like 1996 – or a cami if it’s summer.  Or an off the shoulder sweatshirt a la Flashdance.  Oh, and a messy ponytail finishes the outfit for comfort-ful bliss.

Now you are ready to move to your bed or favorite wallowing chair with junk food within arm’s distance (because getting up is not an option) and you reach for the movies.  Perhaps a super cheesy, Disney-esque comedy is in order (Princess Diaries, What a Girl Wants); perhaps a sappy romance with a sad ending (Sweet November, Walk to Remember); or a classic sweet romance like Serendipity, but if it’s really bad you reach for Titanic or the whopper…The Notebook – which should be supplied with its own box of tissues with every DVD sale.

Still with me?  Show of hands, how many of you have had this type of day before?

So movie after movie goes by and you are eating the junk food, but honestly it doesn’t taste as good as you wanted it to.  You swear Oreos and Hersheys have changed their recipes since you were a kid.  You continue to eat it anyway.  But it’s not filling the void.  Of course it’s not.  Why would mounds of sugar and high fructose corn syrup make our emotions more balanced?  But as I mentioned before, these are not logical nor easily controlled emotions.

The last movie ends, your escape-from-the-world plan officially thwarted as you are now unceremoniously tossed back into reality.  You look around at the trash and at your lonely apartment and realize that despite your valiant efforts to make yourself feel better, you feel worse.  Damn.  You went from feeling a little sad, to feeling more lonely (due to the romances and surge of emotions they cause) and now you have no energy from the sugar low and you feel fat.  You probably aren’t fat, but who wouldn’t feel a few lbs heavier after that shopping list?

Now you feel guilty.  For letting yourself wallow.  For the junk food.  For not being proactive in making new plans with friends today or brushing off what guy-of-the-week said.  And you really don’t feel like talking to anyone now.  You want to sleep.  But you are hungry because every knows junk food isn’t meant to keep you full for long periods of time.  But you are tired and have no energy to cook.  So you order a pizza (with extra garlic dipping sauce) because…well…if you already had an unhealthy day, why stop now?

Yup, that’s the cycle of sadness.  No matter how old I get nor how educated I am on why I shouldn’t eat junk food and why emotional eating solves nothing, I still do it.  Even with the knowledge that I won’t feel any better about anything at the end of the day, I still do it.  Self-inflicted torture.  And I know I’m not alone in this because women have been doing it for years and years and years.

So we go to bed knowing deep down that tomorrow will be a better day…

Childfree and Fickle as Can Be

Love Love Love

Image by Gregory Jordan via Flickr

Many of my nearest and dearest are aware of the fact that I do not see motherhood being a part of my future.  Perhaps maybe adopting an older child way down the line or becoming a study abroad host mother someday, but not necessarily having my own from start to finish.  There are several reasons why I do not have a desire to have children, which I’m sure at some point I will list for you, but we’ll save that for another day.

I hear about more and more couples these days deciding to be childfree, so what  makes me different from them?

I’m still single.

Some may think that being single would make it easier for me since the decision is mine and mine alone and there is no compromising or pressure or uncertainty from any other party.  However,  uncertainty wiggles its way into another area instead – dating.  Given that not having children is not yet the majority opinion in society, finding a man who also does not want to have children may limit my dating pool significantly.  But knowing which men in the dating pool to eliminate may be a bit complicated.  And, truth be told, a bit scary.

It becomes complicated because you don’t want to get attached to a man who shares different ideas about the future; however, it might be a little blunt to start the first date, pre-dinner convo with “by the way, I don’t want kids.”  Online dating does un-complicate the process slightly by giving you a checkbox to click if childfree is your preference, but it still doesn’t help you decipher the dating fate of the hot guy you randomly meet in the produce section.  Nor does it help with the slew of men who simply don’t know yet if they will want children in the future.  That could lead to a messy break up 3 years later when you are co-habitating and he gets the fatherhood itch.

It becomes scary in that some men seem to be afraid of a woman who says she doesn’t want children as if she is plagued with a disease or too different from the norm to be marriage material.  What if stating this decision of mine too soon drives off an amazing man?  Then a couple years later, in my true fickle fashion, I decide maybe I do want kids and I have lost that opportunity with Mr. Perfect.  I don’t call this blog FickleFolly for nothing.  I am very fickle and it is the personality trait that I struggle with the most (look forward to a blog post on that someday too).  Right now I do not see myself having children, even when I imagine myself married and a bit more settled someday…yeah, it does not appeal to me at all; however, I can’t say never because I know that feelings and times change and who knows how I’ll feel in 5 or 10 years…or even how I’ll feel next time I’m in love.  I know many of you will think ‘well, if you lose that guy, then he just wasn’t meant to be,’ but I want you to think about someone in your life who is a great match for you.  Someone who complements you, who makes you feel loved and special, who has seen you at your worst and still loves you in spite of it.  Now imagine if you had missed your opportunity to be with that person for whatever reason.  It’s a little hard to chalk it up to ‘it just wasn’t meant to be’ right?

I have someone like that.  Someone who I have strong feelings for even though we are not together at the moment (long story).  I don’t know if we ever will be together on a long-term basis, but the romantic in me likes to imagine the possibility.  And to be honest, I am scared to bring up the subject of kids with him because I don’t want to hear him profess a strong desire to have a house full of them when I would prefer quiet nights, just the two of us, seeing the world and enjoying the freedom.  And if that is the case, I don’t want him to end up with someone else and then I later decide I do indeed want children after all.  So I stand in the land of the unknown, wanting to ask, but afraid of the answer.  Can you see all of these thoughts circling round in my head?  It’s quite dizzying I assure you.

Needless to say, uncertainty has certainly weaved its way into my single life in full force.  Dating is tedious enough without adding a life changing decision to the mix.  I’m predicting that many of you will tell me to just go with the flow and let things happen as they will, and you are probably right, but that, my friends, is easier said than done.

Cinderella Scars

I have often used the term “Cinderella scars” to describe my path into womanly cynicism.  It has been 12 years since my first heartbreak and 12 years since these emotional scars etched their way across my heart.  Although I am now grateful for the breakup {don’t tell my ex that 😉 }, it has changed the way that I have dated since then.  I find this term to be a rather apt description of what I (and I presume many other women) have gone through.

The young woman of the Disney era has been raised to believe in romantic fairy tales.  She is taught that if she is strong and kind her prince will show up at her doorstep and she shall live happily and unobstacularly (yes I like to invent new words) through life with said prince.  But I think that these movies – along with every movie ever derived from a novel – has been cut short.  They have left out the part where Cinderella, Snow White, Belle or Jasmine gets their heart broken or has to date an insane amount of losers before they meet this special guy.  The long years of waiting and losing faith.  The insecurities and self-doubts.  Then when he does arrive, experiencing the difficulties of maintaining the relationship and later the marriage.  No, no, they don’t ever show her that part.  She has to figure that out for herself.  The loss of this innocent notion of one man, one love, one marriage, zero heartbreak is what I call “Cinderella scars.”  That first slash across the untouched heart that will mar all future relationships.  In the words of Cat Stevens, “the first cut is the deepest.”

This leads to complete and utter shock upon the first heart break.  ie – ‘but I thought I was supposed to marry the first guy I fell in love with,’ she might say.  This is the moment that she begins to forget how to openly trust a man.  As for the next man she tries to date – I feel sorry for the lad because she has yet to figure out that she no longer trusts and is still reeling from the fact that she now has to start all over again in the dating process.  With each man she dates thereafter, she ever so slowly starts to roll her eyes at his words of endearment; she stops believing the nice things he says about her; she thinks that no matter what he says it may not be true because the last guy talked of love and future as well and that turned out to be lies.  Of course it is unfair to blame Mr. New Guy for Mr. Old Guy’s shortcomings, but it is human nature to want to defend yourself from a second attack…and that is just what she does.

Several years later this young woman is all grown up.  There is still a glimmer of hope somewhere deep down that she’ll some day, some how get the man she desires and deserves.  It has been ingrained in her since birth, so she involuntarily clings to the idea while still becoming more and more cynical with every new failing date.  Then, along comes the famous “He’s Just Not That Into You” book by Greg Behrendt and Liz Tuccillo.  Known for it’s truthful look at the way men reject women and how we women are too blind to see it, the book pushes our dear heroine closer to the edge of dating insanity.  It has confirmed everything she herself had learned in the past 10 years of singlehood.  This is usually the stage where becoming a nun or a lesbian begins to cross her mind…she simply does not want to deal with men anymore.

All the while, the men who could be interested in her, ignoring the plethora of dating self-help books that the ladies are getting advice from, have very little success trying to reel her in because the other UNinterested men have numbed the woman to any of the typical lines used to show a desire for wooing.  We have finally come to the place where miscommunication begins  and potential relationships end before they could even begin.

So gentleman, if you are interested in a woman (and you are SURE that she is interested in you as well) come out and say it as honestly as you can.  It’s not the time to be subtle.  She may love how you shower her with affection, call her pet names, tell her how much you miss her and can’t wait to see her, but she may still have trouble believing it.  Tell her what you think, what you feel and what you expect of her.  Actions speak louder than words, so if she means that much to you, show her in some way.  She has been through a lot and is probably just as scared as you are about letting down her guard again.  She needs you to help her.  😉

Although I have yet to marry my ‘principe azul’ I imagine that when I do, he will be the one who is capable of breaking down the wall of defense and mistrust and finally healing the scars so that I can remember how to enjoy the affection and the compliments and the endearments, instead of doubting them.