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Best Cousin Ever

Sunday, October 5th, 2014

I met my friend Nicole several years ago at the wedding of mutual friends. We bonded over gin & tonics, and stuck close together since we didn’t know many other people there. In the four busy years since we met, we’ve managed to get together a few times a year for drinks and gossip – and for being someone I see so infrequently, she’s still one of my favorite people.

A few weeks ago, we were texting back and forth, just catching up on life. Nicole mentioned that she’s dating someone, that she’s had a recent career change, and that since I’m single and fabulous (obviously), she wanted to set me up with her cousin. I trust her judgment of men, so I gave her the green light. She said she’d make the introduction.

Fast forward to this weekend. Nicole and I had made plans to meet for brunch, and as we texted about the time and place, she mentioned, “I know Chris wants to meet you too. Can we work him into the plan?” So on Saturday morning, I walked to Sassafras to meet Nicole and her cousin.

Nicole is the kind of person who sets everyone at ease, and Chris immediately struck me as the same. Conversation between the three of us was easy and pleasant, and I had the thought, “Everyone in their family must be so nice.” Nicole told me that Chris had moved into her house, which sounded kind of fun – because as a woman, what better roommate to have than your male cousin? He could reach the top shelf in the closet and lift the heavy things. They even bought new couches together – a true sign of a combined life, probably because Nicole is sweet and generous and wants him to feel at home, I thought. Chris told me that ever since moving in with Nicole, he’s become a runner; Nicole and all of her friends are marathoners, and if he wanted to join that group, it made a lot of sense to me that he would take up the same hobby.

Admittedly, I had never known cousins this close. It sounded like they do everything together, which felt a little odd. But just because I’m not as tight with MY cousins doesn’t mean that others couldn’t be – so I just accepted the fact that they’re best friends and ate my eggs.

Chris was good looking and interesting and quick to smile and so, so nice. But I wasn’t really feeling any kind of vibe between us, which was fine since we were all just having a casual brunch anyway. I was happy to have found a new friend, if nothing else.

About an hour into conversation, I realized I hadn’t heard about Nicole’s boyfriend yet. So I turned to her and asked, “Hey, aren’t you dating someone?”

She looked at me blankly. “Dating?”

Pause. Wrinkled forehead.

And then, with a quick shake of her head, like she was trying to rattle her thoughts into place, she gestured to Chris and said, “I’m dating Chris. This is CHRIS.”

And in that moment, all of the air sucked out of the room.

I looked down at my plate. When I lifted my eyes, Chris and Nicole were staring at me completely flummoxed. There was no getting out of this one, no way to gracefully play it off. Time to face the music.

“I’m sorry, I’m so confused,” I awkwardly blubbered, the red creeping up my cheeks. “I… I…”

“Oh my…” Nicole broke in, eyes wide, the realization suddenly all over her face. “Did you think this was my cousin?”

And we all died. Right there in our chairs, every one of us died a thousand deaths. I don’t know that I’ve ever laughed so hard – while simultaneously wanting to, you know, crawl underneath the table. While Nicole had been introducing me to her boyfriend, now she knew I had been SCOPING HIM OUT FOR MYSELF. No wonder I wasn’t feeling a vibe – the only vibe at that table was between Chris and Nicole. Who are not cousins. I wanted the chef to hit me over the head with a frying pan; please put me out of my misery.

Revisiting Nicole’s text, I realized that she had never said her cousin was coming to brunch – she said Chris was coming to brunch. And isn’t it just like a girl to make that mean whatever she wants it to mean? We then relived every twist and turn of the conversation up to that point, all of which added up to a weirdly intertwined cousin relationship, including a trip to Mexico – which I assumed was a family vacation? We laughed so hard we cried. And maybe I just cried.

Chris and Nicole say they’re going to get T-shirts that say “Best Cousin Ever.” As for me? I’ll go with “Moron.”
best_cousin_ever

Ending well

Thursday, November 3rd, 2011

When I wrote this, I thought I was writing just for me.  But today, I kind of want to share it.

:::::

For some time now, I have been in… a relationship?  Perhaps not the right word.

Something special.  Something that burned fast and bright, like a bottle rocket – but after a short time, burned right out.  Something that, like so many beautiful things, was fleeting.

While the ending of it was sad, our parting conversation was honest, warmhearted, and generous – to an eavesdropper with no context, we may have seemed enamored.  We expressed care and respect for one another, demanding nothing in return, gracefully letting each other go.

I have never experienced such a healthy goodbye with a man.

We successfully cared for, and received care from, each other.  We successfully opened our hearts and dropped our defenses.  We successfully took a risk.  And in the end, for legitimate reasons, we successfully walked away, shoulders back and selves intact.

For me, this is a victory.  Just because it hurt did not mean that I was losing – the hurt actually meant that I WON.  It meant that I had allowed someone in – something that I find difficult to do.

I experienced a relationship ending well – and it’s one of the most radical things I have ever done.

:::::

There are few things in life as wonderful as a good man.

Take heart.  They do exist.

Jane Austen makes me LOL

Thursday, August 11th, 2011

“Adieu to disappointment and spleen. What are men to rocks and mountains.”
-Elizabeth Bennet, “Pride and Prejudice”

Hypothetically

Wednesday, June 30th, 2010

Let’s pretend that there’s a girl.  She’s a nice girl with a lot of friends, and at least moderately interesting.  She has hobbies.  She has a creative mind.  Some might even find her pretty.  She is independent, a la Kelly Clarkson and Destiny’s Child – a rent check in one hand and a glass of Pinot in the other.

She has been making her life spin on her own for a good long while now.  And while she might like to meet a good man someday, in theory, she would rather be alone than wish that she was.

However, hypothetically speaking, let’s just say that out of curiosity, she decided to try online dating.

And hypothetically, she was matched with this man.*

And while she is sure that he is a very nice person, in this make believe scenario, thus ended the completely theoretical experiment.

*Also, hypothetically, of course, if said girl happened to have an imaginary friend named the Handy Graham, this would, in theory, be his favorite story.

In response

Friday, March 13th, 2009

Hearken back to Monday’s post.  What was meant to be a shoulder shrug, a lark, a lighthearted jab at my pal Andy, actually sparked quite the response.  While I got a lot of “You go, girl!” comments from women, I have been much more impacted by what I have heard from the men – whether in comment, email, or response via their own blog post.  And while there is no way that I will be able to say everything that there is to say today (yeah, or ever), here is what has been rattling around in my brain this week.

If there is anything that I want to be, it is humble – humble, and teachable.  So THANK YOU to the brave dudes (especially Joey – the catalyst for many of these thoughts today) who had the guts – spine – balls – to challenge my thinking.

Which brings me to my first point: it was wrong of me to emasculate men – denying them of the very thing that makes them male (um… balls… sheesh, I can’t wait to see what keywords bring people to this post) – for not being able to communicate in the way that most women would like them to.  I am not a man-hater – I LOVE men! – and in no way desire to make eunuchs out of a bunch of surely well-meaning guys.  I’m sorry for sounding – snip, snip – harsh and judgmental.

Here’s the deal: in an ideal world, men would communicate clearly.  In an ideal world, women would communicate clearly.  In an ideal world, both sexes would have eyes to see and ears to hear the other person loud and clear.

That is obviously not the world that we live in – due to culture and socialization and upbringing and experiences.  So things get a little bit muddy, a little bit complicated, and sometimes, a little bit… hostile.  Men aren’t up front with their feelings.  Women send mixed signals – a “come hither” straight into a stiff arm.  One person doesn’t know who he is, the other doesn’t know what she wants – or vice versa.  Television only adds to the confusion, portraying men as bumbling idiots, and women as capable-yet-snarky ice queens (think “Everybody Loves Raymond,” or “Home Improvement”).

Who are we?  Who should we be?  Men and women alike are confuzzled.

I so wish that was a real word.

When it comes to love, we’ve all been hurt.  We’ve all been disappointed.  We’ve all got skeletons in the closet, and wounds that haven’t quite healed.  And for as much as we want them, it’s easy to make the opposite sex into the “enemy.”  I have my own stories – things that have happened that have made me a bit gun-shy when it comes to putting myself out there – and when I think of these disgraces, even years later, I still want to bury my head in the sand.

I think it’s safe to say that on a very fundamental level, women want to feel “worth it” to a guy – worth the risk, worth whatever it takes.  But hello – this is 2009.  A man can’t exactly prove his devotion by riding into battle with her hanky in his pocket.  So some of us feel like the least he could do is say, “Hey, you seem great.  I’d love to take you out sometime?”

Then again, the feminist movement sort of threw a wrench in that plan.  We women-folk sure asserted our independence, didn’t we?  Dang it.  We’ve stabbed ourselves in the back.  But that’s another post entirely…

Bottom line: I am backing off from the stance I took on Monday, however playfully I meant it when I first wrote it.  I don’t expect for a guy to take the reins, run the show, ask me out, sweep me off my feet, order me the lamb chop at some swanky restaurant while I sit mute and adoring.  Can you imagine?  Me?  Being conquered?  I do hope for a partnership, with honest and frank communication, equal parts respect and affection – and prior to a relationship, I think that means that both parties are going to need to communicate our interest in whatever way makes sense.

Sigh.  This just zapped every ounce of brain power I possess.

We all just want to matter to someone.

I wish it was easy.  And I hope that one day, it will be.

Why girls aren’t asking YOU out

Monday, March 9th, 2009

The way I see it,

1) If a guy is interested in me, he should have the guts – spine – balls – to do something about it.

2) If he is interested in me and does NOT have the guts – spine – balls – to do something about it, then he’s not really someone I want to be with anyway.

3) If he is not interested in me, he is not asking me out.

In any case, I leave it up to him.  It’s as simple as that.

(Andy Merrick, you know I love you – you and your many, many words on the subject.  Are you ever going to finish your series, slacker?)

Man! I feel like a woman.

Wednesday, February 25th, 2009

When I lived in Seattle, I was very, very independent. I lived alone. I paid my bills. I assembled my own Target furniture. When I dropped off my car for a repair in Ballard, I walked the 3 ½ miles to work rather than call for a ride. It wasn’t that people weren’t willing to help – because I had amazing people in my life there – it was more of my own attitude, the attitude that had been modeled to me. The liberated, liberal upper left-hand corner of the nation requires a certain self-sufficiency.

Seattle taught me to take care of myself. Seattle expected me to take care of myself.

Let me tell you what I love about living in Nashville – chivalry is not dead. Men get the doors – front doors, car doors, office doors. If there is something heavy to be carried, a man won’t let a woman carry it – even if she is capable. When a girl needed a chair at 3 Crow Bar, Hunter jumped out of his seat to offer it up. When Julie, Mel, and I have needed various things hung on our walls, Josh and Paul have been at the ready. When the kitchen drawer broke and all of the pans crashed onto my foot (and I swore and maybe cried for a second), Seth told me that he would take care of it – and he fixed the drawer. IT WAS A MIRACLE!

Because I have never been taught to expect these kindnesses, every favor feels like a marvel. Even when I was walking on a sidewalk with a guy, and he switched places with me so I would be further from traffic, and I thought, “That’s ridiculous – if a car swerves, WE’RE BOTH DEAD – why the effort?” – still, there was a little part of my spirit that felt so appreciative.

In Seattle, the feminist culture taught me to never rely on a man, and how to stand on my own two feet – and I’m glad. I prefer to drive. I can order my own meal, thank you very much. I am well-practiced in balancing stacks of papers, groceries, books, and a tray of lattes, all the while teetering on high heels.

But Nashville is teaching me what it means to open up to those sweet souls who treat me with kindness, just because – just because I’m a woman, and just because they care. As a result, my hard, independent, feminist heart is softening, and growing, and more willing to receive.

But promise me – the moment I start singing “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend,” give me a swift punch in the throat.

Thoughts thought in the last 10 minutes

Friday, December 5th, 2008

“I’m tired.”
“Really tired.”
“I need coffee.”
“I didn’t get coffee this morning.”
“I also didn’t shower.”
“That’s beside the point.”
“I should go downstairs to the coffee shop.”
“Okay, I’ll go.”
“This elevator takes forever.”
“Oh no, someone else is getting on the elevator.”
“Awkward.”
“Pretend to count change in your wallet.”
“Watch the lights – floor 5… 4… 3… 2…”
“Finally – lobby!”
“Walk quickly.”
“Wait – there’s a piano in the lobby?”
“Why?”
“For the holiday spirit?”
“Is she playing ‘Piano Man’?”
“That’s weird.”
“If I could be supplied with caffeine intravenously, I would.”

”I’d strap on a CamelBak of espresso.”
”They should market those! I SHOULD MARKET THOSE!”
“I need a big cup of coffee.”
“Oh my goodness, is that Patrick Swayze?”
“No, but it looks like him.”
[sing along with “Every Breath You Take,” playing on the coffee shop speakers]
“Hey, that guy is singing, too!”
“So is the girl behind the counter!”
“This is fun.”
[I keep calling baby, baby, pleeeeeeeease…]
“Good song.”
“Wow, that guy really looks like Patrick Swayze.”
“Remember when you saw the Police in Seattle last year?”
“Sting is attractive.”
“Oddly.”
“But not as attractive as Kevin Costner.”
“I can’t believe I’m attracted to Kevin Costner.”
“Or Dennis Quaid.”
“But yes I can.”
“They’re ATTRACTIVE.”
“Is Patrick Swayze attractive?”
“Not really.”
“OH. MY. GOODNESS.”
“What’s this I hear?”
“Is this ‘The Time of My Life’?”
“Yes!”
“Where’s Patrick Swayze man?”
“Does he care that his song is playing?”
“Dude, it’s your song!”
“There he goes – out the door.”
“Nobody puts Baby in the corner.”
“Exact change for coffee – win.”
“Hurry back to elevator.”
“Yessss – elevator to myself… except… wait…”
“Mullet man is getting on.”
“Don’t stare.”
“Look at the ground.”
“But… that MULLET.”
“Annie, don’t stare.”
“Ewwwww.”
“Look at your coffee.”
“Back to your desk.”

“So many brochures to stuff.”
“But first.”
“Any emails?”
“Yes!”
“What does it say?”
“HAHA!!!!”
“It says, ‘Sometimes I wish I was like one of those rainforest frogs who could switch genders and have sex with itself and get pregnant independently. I mean I don’t ACTUALLY wish that. But sometimes I do.’”

“OH MAN.”
“I love that friend.”

Nope. Not telling you who the friend was. But let’s just say that when it comes to drama with the menfolk, sometimes I feel the exact same way.

More "girl" than "grrrl"

Friday, August 1st, 2008

Gentlemen, for weathering yesterday’s post, you are nothing short of saints. You steered clear of the comment board (good call), and surely felt a bit disturbed by the festival of estrogen emblazoned across Maundering Pondering. Well, guess what? This blog’s for you.

I would like to talk about Batman.

For nearly 26 years, I have been able to assertively declare, “I have never seen a Batman movie.” I had attempted to watch “Batman Begins” a couple of years ago, when it was first released on DVD. My friend Bramer and I sat down to watch it on my 13” TV screen, attempting enthusiasm. But 20 minutes into the ninja fighting, we looked at each other and said, “Maybe we should just talk about our feelings instead?” My Batman effort was curtailed.

Until yesterday. Yesterday, I started at the beginning with, yes, once again, “Batman Begins.” I don’t know why. No one was pressuring me to watch it. No one had told me, “This movie will change your life.” No one had convinced me that if I didn’t see “Batman Begins,” I would surely shrivel into a dense, moronic imbecile, incapable of functioning or conversing with the effortlessly hip. Okay, so maybe a few guys told me that – but that was simply a sign of their insecurity of winding up dense, moronic imbeciles, incapable of functioning or conversing with the effortlessly hip.

Me? I just added it to my Netflix queue, and it showed up.

I watched it. I watched the whole thing. And I’ll be honest: I was relatively unmoved. Unmoved in the same way I was unmoved when I saw “King Kong,” featuring Naomi Watts accompanied by her vacuous, vacant stare. Unmoved in the same way I was unmoved when I saw “The Matrix,” featuring Keanu Reeves accompanied by his vacuous, vacant stare. At least “Batman Begins” starred Christian Bale, but am I giving myself away as a complete geek if I say that I found him exponentially more appealing as Jack Kelly in “Newsies”?

I am such a girl.

During college, most of my friends were guys. In some ways, it’s much easier to hang out with guy friends – maybe because my emotional expectations are lower. Don’t get me wrong – I have some solid, quality men-folk in my life, and they are the reason that my heart hasn’t given up hope on their sex entirely – but as a general rule, my friendships with guys are pretty surface-level. I am choosier about my girlfriends, and thus, historically, I have had fewer lady pals. But in the past two years or so, I have been overwhelmed by amazing women. I’ve been gaggled – back in Seattle, and here in Nashville. I love my girlfriends, and I love being a girl, and I honestly don’t think that I will ever see a James Bond movie.

Consider my cover blown.

Because I’m feeling ballsy

Tuesday, June 3rd, 2008

Lately, I have been made acutely aware of a certain discord in romantic relationships between people of my generation. Now, I am not currently dating anyone. However, these observations have come from my own experiences as well as those around me – I’m not pointing the finger at any one person, or any one gender, for that matter. I’m just going to share my thoughts, simple as they may be.

If you’re feeling particularly sensitive today, maybe you should take some deep breaths before reading this. Are you ready? Consider yourself warned.

I have noticed that most humans are looking for fulfillment. In my experience, women generally look for that fulfillment in the context of relationship, while men generally look for that fulfillment in the context of autonomy.

I said generally. Stop bristling.

So when men and women interact, and coexist, and begin to let their guard down with each other, generally a conflict rises out of the tension between what they are each looking toward for fulfillment: the woman tends to look to the man, while the man tends to look away. The woman asks, “Do you love me? Do you think I’m beautiful? Am I worth it to you?” And the man says, “I can’t be responsible for you. I’m not ready to commit. I need to be free.”

The man sees the woman as needy. The woman sees the man as an asshole.

I propose that we need to stop looking toward the wrong things for fulfillment in the context of romantic relationships. Women need to stop expecting the man to fulfill her. Men need to stop looking toward independence to fulfill him.

Again. GENERALLY.

Women, we need to stop asking the hubba-hubba man to dictate our worth. If the God of the universe created us, and knows us inside and out, and calls us worthy and beautiful and captivating, then honestly, what else do we need? A man is just a man. He’s never going to be enough to fulfill us – it’s unfair to expect that of him. And a man’s opinion of us – favorable or otherwise – happens to have absolutely no bearing on our worth. So maybe we should just start trusting that our worth is already determined, and nothing can ever change that. Let’s rest in the fact that we are LOVED, and move forward into our relationships with confidence. We’ve been watching too much of “The Notebook.”

And men, maybe it’s time that you stop looking toward experiences and autonomy and wild adventures to fulfill that hole inside. Being in a healthy relationship with a good woman will not be an emasculating thing – in fact, some of the most honorable men I know have told me that their marriages have been the biggest and best adventure that one could possibly embark on. That restless ache inside of you is not going to be fulfilled by freedom or the mountains or the ability to sow your oats or a lack of responsibility. That hole is only filled when we ask God, “Who do you say I am?” I have watched too many men turn their back on good, substantial women, for fear of being “tied down.”

What do I know? Am I hypocritical? I’m just a 25-year old single girl who, trust me, does NOT believe these things easily. I want a man to come and sweep me off my feet and tell me that I am beautiful and that he will never, ever leave me. I really want that – and I have asked for it and expected it. But as a result, I have been severely disappointed and deeply hurt by numerous guys. It has felt unfair. It has left me tempted to launch into bitter diatribes at weddings, and bridal showers, and every time I get another Save-the-Date card in the mail. I am definitely a person in process.

But I invite you to be a person in process alongside me. Because the way that it’s going isn’t working.