Not a lot happened today, I'm just in the mood to write for some reason. (Insomnia's a bitch.) I ran some errands, spent some time at the bookstore, but did not buy any books for some odd reason. (Normally bookstore gift certificates from Christmas don't last nearly this long.) I know that the main reason I can't buy any books right now is that I'm in the middle of Anna Karenina by Tolstoy, which is as good as it is long. (And it is very long.) I'm about 350 pages into the 800-some-odd-paged book. While it's not something I would normally read, because I'm not a Russian nobility enthusiast, I am enjoying it. The writing is quite good and the translation I'm reading is very clear. Cheers all around. After the bookstore I sat at a coffee shop and read for awhile. Had a latte. (It was supposed to be an au lait, but the barista foamed the milk and I didn't really feel like complaining.) I talked to the aforementioned best friend from high school, who did, in fact, have quite a humorous story to tell. I'll spare the details, since it's not MY story. Basically, she ran into this guy at a bar and he was like, "Do I know you?" and she replied, very matter of factly, "Yeah, I had sex with you about four years ago." (This does not sound as funny as it really is ... imagine just deadpanning to a former hook-up who didn't totally recognize you that, yeah, you had slept with him.) Anyway, he tried to get her number and she managed to not have to part with it, and he came by her table later where all of her friends laughed at him because she immediately told them the story. It was amusing. On the matter of T and the late night phone call, she said I should call him and wake him up one night and see what he says. (I'm not going to do that.) She also said I should just keep the number in my phone and call him later and totally ignore the question of how I knew it was him calling. (I will probably not do this either ... I don't want to admit that I reverse-phone-numbered him. That's so cyber-stalkerish. Googling someone is acceptable, but using an internet directory to check their number off of the caller ID is pushing it. And yes, I Googled him. His name is a bit too common to really give me any good dirt, unfortunately.) Hopefully he'll call again and I'll actually answer this time. I put him in my phone under a pseudonym -- albeit a very OBVIOUS one to anyone who knows the full backstory. (Which has not yet been fully detailed on this site.) It's probably not obvious enough to tip off random people who look in my phone, however. (I have a tendency to do like pseudonyms in my phone. A friend once changed B's entry in my phonebook from his name to "Playin' Me." It stayed for months.) I hate that I'm now sitting by the phone waiting to see if he calls again. I hate being that pathetic, passive-aggressive woman, but I don't have the cahones to be the aggressor in this situation anymore. He joked that he likes passive women who stay in their place -- but I'm almost 100 percent sure that was said to annoy and tease me. Maybe it's because I've been burned in the past, but I don't know if my ego could handle him brushing me off if I called him. At least now I can rationalize not calling him because I can claim I didn't know it was him calling because he didn't leave a message, even though I know that's total bullshit. (Or maybe I'll just get drunk this weekend and throw caution to the wind and call him. It's not like I'm a Rules girl who can't call a boy.) (Most likely, I'll just obsess about this for the next few days.) Dear God, I am too good at being neurotic.
Witness the following e-mail exchange I had with my best friend from high school, who now lives in another city.
Best friend: "I have the most funniest story in almost forever. I look like a complete whore, but those days are behind me."
Me: "You look like a bigger whore than I did when I was standing on the side of the street waiting for my friend to pick me up from shacking on New Year's Eve? I'm impressed."
Best friend: "Actually, no."I am conflicted, as I feel both shockingly bad that I out-whored her but still surprisingly proud that I beat her at something.
I am so odd.
So this is odd. I finished blogging last night and settled in bed with my puppy, who did not want to sleep at all. AT ALL. The only thing remotely interesting on TV was "Iron Chef America," so I set the sleep timer on my TV to five minutes after it ended (1 a.m.) and figured I'd barely make it through half of the show before I was out. I was correct -- I must've fallen asleep around 12:30 a.m., well before my FoodNetwork crush Chef Bobby Flay served his food to the judges. So, I've been sleeping for less than an hour when my cell phone rings and vibrates. Like crazy. This wakes up my puppy, who then wants to lick my face and play. It pisses me off royally. I silence the damn thing and then open it to see who's calling. The number isn't in my phone and I don't recognize it, so instead of yelling at the caller, I assume it's a wrong number and go back to sleep. This morning I wake up still slightly annoyed that someone called me at 1:12 a.m. on Monday morning. I checked my messages and there were none. So, I reverted to my journalism days and plugged the number into one of those reverse phone number search engine thingys. Who was it? None other than T himself, calling from his house. At first I was excited -- he called me! Then I was bummed -- after 1 a.m. and without leaving a message! Asshole. So, this confirms that he's just looking for a booty call, which is fine. I'm just annoyed that he didn't leave a message ... now I can't call him back without having to pretend that I don't know who it is, since he knows I don't have his home number and he didn't leave a message. I consulted a friend for guidance and she suggested that I call the number today and act like I was calling to find out who woke me up last night, then act surprised that it was him. This way, she argued, I could talk to him AND keep the number to call it later. Yeah, I so totally hate him.
So it's been a few days, and in a way things have been both exciting and boring. For starters, I interviewed for and was offered a job I really wanted. I was offered the job on Wednesday (via cell phone while I was at my other, crappy, job), and given my months-long search for a stable professional job in my area of expertise that offered health insurance, I didn't hesitate to accept right on the spot. I was, and still am, thrilled. The money is okay. Much more than I'm making now, but not so much that I'll be drinking only $9 martinis, wearing only Enzo Angelini shoes and getting mani-pedis every week. But, enough to support just me, pay down the student loans and start saving to buy a new car in a year or so. This I can handle. On a more vain note, it's great to know that when I go out and meet people and have to introduce myself, I no longer have to say, "Oh, I'm working retail, but I'm looking for a real job right now." (This was always problematic because I always worried that I would offend someone by insinuating that retail or service-type jobs aren't real. They're real, they're just not what I envisioned my official career to be, which is why I suppose they aren't real to me. I'm a snob.) I put a lot of stock in what people do with their lives. To me, this is how you can tell a lot about a person's character and goals. I'm a judgmental person at times -- probably no more so than most people, but enough that I notice and try to curb it. So, I've always been a bit worried that people were judging me by my terrible job and lengthy job search. I'm always surrounded by people who are in professional jobs they love or who are finishing graduate or law school. I know I'm just as (or, sometimes, more) interesting and intelligent as these people, and I felt my job didn't reflect that. (There's a lesson in there about judging a book by its cover or a shopgirl by her wares. Consider it learned and let's move on.) Anyway, I'm looking forward to being able to say, "I work in PR," the next time I'm engaged in conversation with a new person. Maybe that's superficial of me. Who cares. I'm proud that the bumpy road of employment and experience I've navigated has finally paid off. Anyway. Moving on. Wednesday we went to a little martini bar to celebrate my new job. (We would have gone anyway, but me getting a job was a great excuse to drink more.) The drinks were cheap -- two for $7 -- even if they were on the smallish side. The watermelon ones were great. They're definitely my new favorite. Unofficially, I think Wednesday night at the martini bar is going to be our new during-the-week drinking event. (Not as cheap as the old one, where we suffered through Monday Night Football for $1 beers, but still cheap, especially given my new employment.) My good friend the law student was there with the guy she's seeing, as was a girlfriend of ours, B, B's roomie and the girl he's seeing and several people who work with B. Of course, B's roomie (before B got there) floated the rumor that B is sleeping with a very attractive blonde woman with whom he works. I pretended to be interested in the gossip because I was happy for him. Really, it just pissed me off. I mean, of course I want him to be happy. I've been playing the whole "I used to love him" role very well for the past few months. This rumor was the first challenge to that, and I suppose I failed. When B got there I joked about the rumor with him. He denied it, saying that she'd crashed at his place because she was too drunk to drive. I didn't believe him at first, but he pointed out that had he slept with her, he'd "still be smiling ear to ear." (This did very little for my self-esteem.) Anyway, I think he's telling the truth. He doesn't have any reason to lie about sleeping with a hot chick to spare my feelings, especially given the fact that I've been quite open in my flirtations with new boys. Still, it bugged me. I don't want him to be miserable. I'd just rather that I were happy first. What is NOT making me happy, however, is the lack of phone calls from a certain boy I hung out with on New Year's. I am seriously annoyed -- he ACTED like he liked me. Seriously, there was interesting conversation, cute casual touching and lots of laughing, not to mention the whole making-out-with-me-before-we-left-together thing. The same thing happened with him after a Halloween party. At that point I chalked the whole thing up to drunkenness, but after having such a great time at New Year's, I lost sight of the "If he is not calling you, he is not into you" rule. But he still hasn't called. Part of me thinks we'll just hang out at parties thrown my our mutual friend. This would be fine if he threw parties every weekend. And now let the obsessing begin.
(Re: The post title -- I couldn't think of anything else to put.) Had a pretty good day. I ran some errands and such. Not a lot to report about the day. I almost didn't go out. I had planned to do something with a good friend, but she ended bailing because she didn't feel good. After making a few phone calls, I blasted off a text message to a girl I'm friends with but rarely hang out with anymore. This was a last-ditch effort, as the social circle that once linked us has spread out and broken apart considerably. So, I see this girl every few months for drinks. Her plans for the evening hadn't worked out either, so we decided to get a drink at one of the city's nicer bars. (To say "nicer" may be an overstatement. The crowd that goes there is what makes it nicer, in my eyes anyway. It's a slightly older, mid 20s to early 30s crowd that drinks pretentious martinis and other pseudo-fancy drinks. The music is better and you can generally sit, rather than hovering aimlessly in everyone else's way.) I have a love-hate relationship with the bar. I love the atmosphere and the array of martinis, but I hate that I always spend too much money when I go there. I decided on Saturday that I wasn't having even one overpriced martini -- even though the cosmos speak to me. Instead, I opted for the less expensive wine. We huddled in a comfy circular booth and gossiped. This girl is the source for gossip about people I know. (Yes, I know gossiping about other people is very high schoolish. And yet I don't care.) I got a list of updated couplings, which was amazingly similar to the last list of couplings, a sure sign that I am old. I updated her about my boys, or semi lack thereof and she updated me on her current boys and her psycho ex. (Her ex is a loser that few people liked because he is generally just an asshole who didn't treat her well at all.) Having both spent time in situations where we acted like psycho girls in love (her with the ex and me with B), we agreed that sometimes you just have to get your heart smashed in pieces before you realize what a fool you're being. No amount of tantrum-pitching by your friends will do, which is terrible and unfortunate. (Although, I do admit that I wish someone would have taken me by the shoulders and shaken me after I let a certain boy make me cry in a bar in front of pretty much everyone I knew. A story for another day.) This all plays into the whole theory behind He's Just Not That Into You, a book that I am pissed that I like. Obviously, thinking "he's just not that into me," could have saved me time during the whole B situation. However, I'm annoyed that I can pretty much predict that nothing will happen with T if the book is right, which it probably is. Basically, that situation is one of convenience -- we'll hook up when we're around each other, but he's never going to go out of his way to see me. And to think, the conversation was so nice.
Thursday night was fun -- I went to a favorite bar of mine for a night of low-priced beer for law students. (One of my dear friends and regular drinking partners is in law school. This works out well -- I'm currently screening applicants for the position of "my friend from med school" and "my friend the publishing maven." Always thinking about the future.) My friend is kind of "seeing" a fellow law student who happens to be quite well connected in our mid-sized Southern city. (Side note -- "seeing" is one of the many euphemisms us chicks use because we must label things, even when it's probably too early to do so. "Seeing" means you've been on at least one formal date and informally spent time with a guy. "Dating" means you've been on several dates, but aren't yet using a possessive term, such as -- gasp! -- "boyfriend." This causes much unneeded confusion and stress.) Back to the boy -- he's attractive and charming and very smart, the kind of guy who can go from discussing various aspects of pending current events to telling you a stupid, yet funny, joke with ease. Great for discourse. And cute. And has good taste in music. And drives a nice car. Of course my friend thinks she's not good enough for him. "Out of my league," she told me when he left to use the restroom. (Mind you, the boy clearly digs her, is flirting like a madman and casually finding reasons to touch her. The latter is, in my mind, one of the most telltale signs that someone's interested. Maybe that's just me.) I'm more than a little bit jealous of this great guy, but she's a good friend and well deserving of a good man. (Also, it's too early to be terribly jealous. He's got plenty of time to screw it up.) So we had fun. Buckets of beer for six bucks. We smoked too many cigarettes, almost always the sign of a good night. Unfortunately, none of our other good friends came, which made me the extra girl. I don't mind being the extra girl on really fun nights, but it tends to make me feel like I must perform. When you're the extra girl hanging out with one or more couples, you're constantly aware that at any moment the others may decide that they could just ditch you and have special happy adult alone time. Luckily, I'm quite accustomed to being the odd girl out in these situations. It's a role I probably fill too well. I pull out funny stories and jokes, and act goofy and funny. Secretly, I sort of hope that this not-quite-over-the-top jester role will net me something useful, like an introduction to a nice male friend of one of the couples involved. Not so on most occasions, although I do have quite a reputation of being the fun-loving gal pal who gets along with her friends' lust objects, which I guess isn't bad. Also, I get a lot of free drinks this way. And free drinks ain't ever bad.
I just came across this column by David Brooks in the Jan. 15 New York Times. (Rather, I came across this takedown of the column and decided to go read the real thing in all of its wonderfulness.) Mr. Brooks leans on a Gallup poll that says 70 percent of women older than 40 who don't have children regret that decision. As I can't find the poll online, I wonder if they asked how many women aged 18 to 24 who do have kids if they regret having them so early? It isn't surprising that childless women older than 40 would say they regret this decision or circumstance. It is pretty much impossible to say that you don't want kids without sending people into a state of shock and panic. First they are shocked -- "How can you not want to experience the wonderful gift of life?" Then, they get huffy and question your femininity -- "Most women want to experience motherhood." Finally, they condescend you in an effort to reassure themselves -- "You will change your mind when you meet the right man and get married and see how wonderful family life is." Of course women who don't have kids are going to express regret about it. Our society places such a premium on child-bearing and rearing, continually telling women that they should want children and that their lives aren't complete without them. After 40 or more years of being bombarded with the message of "PROCREATE OR YOU ARE LETTING DOWN GOD, GEORGE BUSH AND YOUR FAMILY," I imagine more than a few women told Gallup they regretted not having kids just because that's the socially acceptable thing to say. According to Mr. Brooks, who does not possess a uterus, it would make more sense for women to leave high school, possibly go to college and find a man, get knocked up a few times and stay home until the kids are raised. THEN, after laboring for years to raise the little anklebiters while hubby's out earning the money and playing with the adults, the mom can go back to school or into the workforce, when she's in her late 30s or early 40s. (The sad thing, in Brooks' twisted mind, he's a visionary.) Also, he wants to give stay-at-home moms a tax credit. (Side note: I'm not against acknowledging the hard work put in by stay-at-home parents. I just think this all should be a choice, rather than something women and men are pressured in to doing.) Nevermind that many families need both incomes to make ends meet. Nevermind that many of the very families where the mother stays at home with the kids do it only because they can afford to, which in many cases makes Mr. Brooks' tax credit more help for upper-middle-class-to-already-rich families, who theoretically have more means to pay for future educational opportunities. I'm wondering exactly what kind of a job a 37-year-old woman with no work experience would be offered, even after graduate school? Say a woman starts popping out kids at 22. Many of her male counterparts, say, go to Law School (which works well for him, considering his wife is at home with the kids and the cooking and the laundry. Sweet deal.) at age 22 and finish by age 25. In this scenario, our mother would finish Law School at 40 and attempt to enter the workforce, where she'll compete with her contemporaries who have 15 years of experience in the legal field to her years of diaper changing and nose wiping. You tell me who a law firm's going to hire. (Because, oh yeah, the majority of the firms partners are men, who didn't quite get the memo about the David Brooks motherhood-to-work program.) Attitudes like these are what make being single a real pain in the ass, no matter how charming you are. You're constantly fending off dumbasses who think you should be barefoot and pregnant for (at least) the second time by the age of 25. It's tough enough to find someone to settle down with, provided that's what you want to do, without the Bobos of the world shaming us for not being baby machines. Shorter: I've got my own biological clock tick-tick-ticking the background and I certainly don't need David Brooks running my life.
The past few years of dating have been interesting -- I spent most of them either genuinely not wanting to be attached or lying and saying I didn't want to be attached. There were also a few moments (or days or weeks or months) when I actually did admit to myself and others that I did want to be in a relationship, but those times were few and far between. Oh yes, I was in love. I fell hard into that kind of consuming love that takes over your body and makes you act like a fourth-grader on smack. At first I thought it was lust (and at first it probably was), but what started as lust and curiosity became true affection. I couldn't control it, but it ruled my life. I spent months attempting to ignore it and never actually called it love until much later, but I am certain that is what it was. How great to be young and in love, right? The lightness in your heart, the bounce in your step, the churning in your stomach; it's simply too much. The problem with my love was typical and tragic. I was (and probably am in some small way) in love with someone who didn't (and doesn't) love me. At all. I used to kid myself and say that he loved me in his own way, but I've moved past denial and onto truth. Call him B. He was a close friend of a girlfriend of mine. One night she and my then-roommate ditched us at a bar for a few hours. B and I got along swimmingly. We talked for hours. He actually listened to me when I talked. I flirted and he flirted back. We shared a few pitchers of beer. Meeting B was crazy. I physically felt as if someone had knocked the wind out of me. At the time, I was one of those college girls who frequent the same seedy bar three times a week, partying and hooking up with different boys all of the time. So, when I told a friend about B, she immediately assumed I wanted a hook up, and was a bit taken aback when I said I wanted to get to know him better. A few weeks went by and we saw each other in group situations. I almost always orchestrated him getting an invite out with my group of friends. I did this so that I was prepared to see him. I wanted to look, smell and feel my best whenever he was around. No amount of preparation helped. As soon as he walked into a room where I was, I would start to sweat and my stomach would flip and churn and I would stumble on my heels and words. I was smitten. Long story short, we made out a few times. I decided that I was going to go after him, and then I was told that he had a (largely fictionalized) girlfriend. (I call her "largely fictionalized" because he overstated their relationship many times. Sometimes, I think he genuinely thought the were dating. Other times, I think he just didn't want to deal with me.) Didn't want to deal with me? That's right. We became good friends -- we could stay up for hours talking. We flirted all of the time. All. Of. The. Time. People constantly thought we were dating. I'm not the hottest girl in the world, but I'm not leper either. To this day, I don't know why B didn't just give me a chance. I'm not sure he does either. B has these pretty stupid rules about who he won't date. He won't date anyone from his work, which is a common and reasonable rule. He also won't date one of his friends, which is also common. Here's where the rules get stupid -- all he does is work and go out with the same people, either coworkers or good friends. He isn't out trolling for new women. My friend who introduced us used to always joke that someone would have to throw herself on the hood of his truck to get him to notice her. I follow that joke up with, "Doesn't work. I tried that at least three times." Rimshot! Thus, my love became tragic and drama-filled. We'd go out, get drunk and flirt. Then I'd get all attached and mushy and he'd realize what was going on and blow me off. Then I'd get mad, and then upset. Sometimes I'd argue with him. Sometimes I'd ignore him. Almost all of the time I cried -- a few times in front of him, though most of the time I made it home, or at least waited until he was gone before I turned on the waterworks. It's embarrassing to think about how crazy I was back then. It's amazing B and I are still friends. I actually don't know why we hang out together -- we have very little in common. Since I've known him, I've felt a connection with B that I can't explain. I won't even try to explain it. It is what it is. I know he had felt it too. I used to think that he'd come to his senses and get his shit together and decide that he was a fool and that he did actually love me. Not. Gonna. Happen. (An old therapist of mine, after listening to me spew about B, said that she wished the movie "When Harry Met Sally" was never made. "It's not going to happen, S," she said. "He's not going to suddenly realize after all of these years that he loves you." She is entirely right about B. However, I still love "When Harry Met Sally.") That brings us to now. I could vent about B for pages, but I've covered the highs and lows. I am at a place in my life where I can accept that he doesn't love me and that we're not going to be together. This is HUGE. It's taken at least two years to get here. I still relapse sometimes, but I do it quietly and in private. I don't think you ever stop loving some people. I think your love for them changes and fades a bit, but at your core, there are some people you will just always love. That's how I feel about B. As much as my love for him was one-sided, it was love and it was great at times. We did and still do have fun together. The fact that I was in love with him has been put away, but it lingers just under the surface. We're both aware of it. I joke about it sometimes, because self-deprecation is at times an excellent tension-cutter. (Other times it is just awkward.) He maintains an even-temperedness about me at all times. Me, I fake it really well. (He scorned me, you know. I'm not crazy. I harbor both love and hate of him in my heart.) But I get the impression that B's never faking it, which drives me insane. So, you can imagine my surprise when B got a little huffy about T, a guy I've hooked up with and would like to date, if he'd ever call my ass. Before I left a New Year's party with T, B and I talked about him. B noted that, "I have more hair than he does" and "I hope I age better than he has." B isn't normally catty in that way, so I interpreted his comments as jealousy (regardless of his actual motivation) and made a huge spectacle of hanging (and making) out with T at the bar, before the two of us left together. This was not very mature of me, but it sure was fun.
If anyone's reading this -- and I doubt anyone is -- he or she will probably want to know some of those particulars they talk about to aspiring reporters. The who, what, whys and whatnots. I could just start right in the middle of all of it, but context is a brilliant thing. I am a woman, 25 years of age, who lives in a medium-sized, terribly boring town in the South. Call me S. I don't feel the need to elaborate other than those scant details. I'm not going to be saying or feeling anything throngs of women (and men) haven't said or felt before. So, I figured, "Why bother elaborating with a full biography? I'll be anonymous and proud of it!" I am unattached, hence the title of the blog. I also think I'm a little bit charming, also per the blog title. I wasn't trying to pat myself on the back by calling myself "charming." A blog's gotta have a title, and so "Charming, but single" it is. (The title is also a nod to the way people describe single people -- "She's single, but she's really bright!" or "She's so charming and put together, no one can figure out why she's not dating someone." When people note that you are unattached, they often quickly follow that statement with a quick mention of a positive character trait, as if they must balance the horrible negativity of saying the S-word. It often comes out sounding like a backhanded compliment, which is often the (unconscious?) aim of the speaker.) No, I do not believe that you must be dating someone to be happy. If that were so, I'd probably NEVER smile. This, however, brings me to the why. Everyone around me is obsessed with pairing up. To be blunt, there's a lot of pressure out there to jump on the marriage train and get your ticket punched, for better or for worse. ( I'm supposed to, at this point in the narrative, assert that I am in no way husband hunting. And I'm not.) I am, however, a bit fixated on relationships and dating and the stigmas attached to both the single and the committed. Thus, I'm writing this journal. I love to write. I constantly have thoughts rumbling around in my brain, begging to be digested. This journal will provide me a place to do that. (To complete the metaphor, I guess the blog is the stomach and insightful posts are nutritious food for thought, while self-indulgent, whiny, bitchy or otherwise flawed posts are simply the leftover crap.) I'll try not to crib too much from Sex and the City -- but I make no promises. The only chick lit I've ever read is Bridget Jones. I can't promise I won't be shrill and self-deprecating, as Bridget is. In fact, I can pretty much assure you that I will, at times, be a bit psycho. Consider the blog lifelike in that respect.