Wednesday, December 29, 2010

A Key to the Inner Circle

It’s 2:41 a.m. in the United States, but just before 10 p.m. in Australia and the house is silent besides the clicking of my keys. I just finished a documentary on the relationship between the heart and the brain – something only a nursing student might watch for pleasure. I couldn’t sleep, so I decided to look back at the dates I haven’t yet written about after the meet-the-parents weekend and there is an absolute explosion of meeting one another's closest friends – the inner circle.

It was as if getting our parent’s approval somehow told our brains that it was okay to let our hearts reveal the other half of who we were. Okay, I’ll stop with the cheese, but the documentary was fascinating! (In case you’re interested: Heartbreak Science )

For the remaining month of November, we went from driving to Portland to battle it out in beer pong qualifying rounds, to a relaxing dinner at Barrio (apparently our favorite restaurant), to delivering take-out to friends with a new little one. Our schedules are tight, so this meant a lot of meeting at each others' places to swap cars or simply waiting (mostly for me since I have a pretty full tardy card – dating back to 1991). It got to the point where waiting outside in the, albeit strange for Seattle, near-freezing temperatures was simply unkind. So, one day as I rushed home, ushered SG#1 into my front door, threw on a new outfit and prepared for another evening of meeting friends, I handed SG#1 the key to my front door.

He hesitated to take it and it was in that moment that I realized what I was doing. My hand was extended with the spare key to my house. I was giving SG#1, my boyfriend, access to all of my possessions – open opportunities to hunt down pictures of me and my frizzy afro in 3rd grade, free reign of my overstuffed refrigerator, entrée to my embarrassingly large collection of shampoos and conditioners (why do I keep trying new ones anyway?!). And I was totally ok with it.

He finally took the key after grumbling over how many keys he already had on his ring and how it would be strange to be in my house without me anyway (which is a way better response than showing excitement over rummaging through the above mentioned items).

When I thought about this exchange later it seemed so much bigger than it was in that moment. We spend our whole lives trying to protect ourselves, our hearts, our apartments, our bikes, our overly-priced and prized mobile phones, and it took just six months for me to give SG#1 the key to all of mine.

Yikes.

It became apparent that it wasn’t the key that really mattered; it was the act of handing over the key to me that felt so raw. Later that week he gave me the key to his house and upped the ante with his spare car key, and for some reason it felt like collateral to a bigger piece of the pie and it made me feel better. It’s not like I was going to hunt down his car and drive it to Canada, but just knowing that he trusted me with his shelter and wheels meant I had access to pictures of his 8th grade bowl cut and to his secret glove-compartment stash of Mariah Carey CDs that made the whole exchange worth opening up another chamber.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Meat-ing the parents

Four months in, we’re laying around on a lazy Sunday afternoon and SG#1 tells me about a wedding he’s been invited to in Kansas City – his home town.
“So, I’m thinking it would be fun to have a date at the wedding.”
“Oh yeah. Who are you going to take?” [Me being facetious]
“I was thinking of taking you, and, well, my parents live there, in Kansas City, so maybe, umm...”

Oh. My. Goodness.

He wants me to meet his parents.

In Kansas City!!

I was excited and nervous and all kinds of freaked out. Just four months in and a meet-the-parents weekend?! This guy really liked me, and I really liked him and suddenly I had ruby slippers on my feet and I was in Pleasantville with SG#1 and everything was just peachy – which could never happen because big, frizzy, curly hair doesn’t fit the whole Pleasantville look.

Three clicks of my heels later and there I was stepping off of the plane at Kansas City International. SG#1 and his dad picked me up and whisked me away to drinks while we waited for our table at Jack Stack Barbecue (One of Kansas City’s finest BBQ joints). This is the time any girlfriend waits for: embarrassing childhood stories about your significant other’s first girlfriend, pictures of them at their first prom, etc. Instead, SG#1’s dad (who we will refer to as Mr. Dad from now on) started in on a story:
“I remember when I moved to St. Louis and I was looking for a girlfriend…my friends wrote me a list of potential mates to call for a date, one of which was SG#1’s mom.”

The story goes that he actively pursued SG#1’s mom for a couple of months and, after a few unlikely excuses, she finally agreed to a date.
“…six months later we were married. She was 29 and I was 32.” (Smiley, inquisitive look in our direction) “So, how old are you Alani?”
“Well, I’m 29.”

If you haven’t clued in yet, I am 29 and SG#1 is 32 and we had been dating for exactly six months at the time the story was told. I don’t’ think Mr. Dad’s story had an agenda, but after he asked my age the table fell silent…and then erupted in nervous laughter.

Meet-the-dad icebreaker complete.

We paid our tab and walked the yellow brick road to Jack Stack Barbecue for dinner and to meet SG#1’s mom (Mrs. Mom from now on). Dinner was fairly benign. Just the usual childhood stories, questions about what I do – which received an, “Oh interesting, SG#1 has never really been interested in the medical field, at all!”

(I’m pretty sure I already figured that one out after he asked how my first day of internship went and stopped me at the first mucus-laden story). We ate ourselves silly at Jack Stack: a tower of onion rings, barbecue sauce rubbed chicken, pork spare ribs, pulled pork, baked cheesy corn, hickory baked beans a side of meat and a little more meat. I really wanted to try the carrot cake, but I’m not sure I could fit it in – it makes my mouth water just thinking about it. YUM. So far Kansas City was on my top 10 list of best food [read: MEAT] cities and I had successfully lived through meeting the parents. I was excited to hear my official review, but first we moved on to drinks with SG#1’s best friends…

Picture the most dive-y bar you’ve ever seen located just behind a row of over-stocked car dealerships and steaming with young patrons playing betting games and drinking a local IPA. I was starting to fade from a long day of exams, a bumpy plane ride and a release of nervous energy over meeting SG#1’s parents for the first time. I ruffle through my purse for my ID and spot the table of SG#1’s high school friends. They stick out in their button-up shirts with mixed drinks in hand, and as they see SG#1 they all start to smile and cheer.

“You must be Alani. How do you like Kansas City so far?” SG#1’s best friend greets me with a hug.

And before I could answer he motions to the table with a big smile on his face and announces, “We’re all a little fatter, but we’re happy!”

And that’s how the whole weekend went; fun friends, great drinks and more meat than I’ve ever consumed in 36 hours. We went to the most amazing Catholic-Hindu wedding I’ve ever seen (and the first), complete with Hindu tea ceremony, the groom’s grand entrance on a white horse led by traditional Dhol drummers and the entire wedding party dancing and cheering as they processed…you know, just your typical most-awesome-wedding-EVER! It was, however, the longest wedding ever as well and after hour six of drinking and partying, still waiting for the reception to begin, we stopped at the hotel bar for a bite to eat, just a little slider or two. And, much to my surprise it was a mini bun, mini burger patty (inch thick) with more shredded meat piled on top of it – only in Kansas City.

After the festivities drew to a close SG#1, his best friend and I headed to the bars for a drink or two. The best friend and I had a top secret heart to heart, which basically meant him asking me some “really important” questions:

1. So, are you going to marry SG#1?
2. If SG#1 asked you to marry him tomorrow, what would you say?
3. SG#1 seems really happy, how do you feel about him?

Such pointed questions! He did inform me I got an “A” grade (he doesn’t give A+’s), so I was pretty happy about that. And, in terms of the final parental review, as Mr. Dad and Mrs. Mom said their goodbye’s at the wedding (after I had a dance with Mr. Dad), Mrs. Mom said, “Alani, you’re invited to Thanksgiving and Christmas any time you want!”

I think that means they liked me.

Well, this year I’m spending Christmas in Australia, but I might have to take them up on the holiday offer sometime soon. All in all, the meet-the-parents, meet-the-friends, Kansas City weekend was just another chapter in the fairy tale that is dating SG#1 (which totally and completely freaks me out). When will the Wicked Witch of the West whirl onto the scene surrounded by a spiraling tornado of munchkins, lions and tin men? For now, I’ll just click my heels three times and imagine no place like home with SG#1 by my side.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Playing Dress-up

Halloween was just around the corner (I know, I am sooo far behind on posts!). We were invited to the party, my sister was right on her way to recovery from surgery so she could join us and everyone was buzzing with “top secret” costume ideas. There was just one problem: SG#1 and I didn’t have costumes. We had plenty of ideas such as bee and bee-keeper (SG#1 would have to be the bee), fish, mermaid and merman (that one was quickly vetoed)…but nothing seemed to stick.

We went out to breakfast the Saturday before Halloween – T-minus 7 days before costumes were needed – and asked the waiter if he had a costume idea for us. Well, let’s just say he had plenty, but apparently the wait staff at 13 Coins have their minds deep into the gutter. So deep, the costume idea will not be mentioned here.

A week later, T-minus 8 hours before the party, and still no costume. We dragged ourselves over to a temporary Halloween warehouse resurrected in Fremont. Everything on our idea list was represented and more! There was a bee – a sexy bee – with mini-dress and wand (I didn’t know bees had wands), and a fish – a sexy fish – with mini skirt and bikini top, and Alice in Wonderland – again a mini dress with cleavage-revealing bustier – and there was Dorothy and the tin man, the lion, princesses and princes…why did everything have to be the sexy, mini version?! And why were the male counterparts full-body suits with very little skin showing? And you got such a tiny little piece of fire-retardant fabric for $75.

We started to panic.

SG#1 kept circling back to a chicken hat and naughty nurse was starting to look like a good option – YIKES!

And then we cracked. If we were going to a toga party, we would definitely wear togas, so why were we so opposed to the Americanized Halloween idea of being your sexy self? So we decided to take Halloween to its sexed up limit. And where else do Americans fully embrace their inner slut than in Vegas?!

All day long we were asking each other, “Who came up with this holiday anyway?”

Women dressed up as sexy kittens and men in Top Gun flight suits. I looked up the origins of this strange holiday on Wikipedia, the most reputable source of historical information for sure, and there is a mish mash of theories about why spend an evening donning costumes and eating candy. Some believe it comes from the Roman Catholic All Saints Day, a celebration of those who have left us but have not yet reached heaven, but ninja costumes, bobbing for apples and spooky ghost tunes don’t really evoke the sentiment this holy holiday aims to accomplish. One historian, Nicholas Rogers, proposes that the origins of Halloween can be found in multiple celebrations such as, the Roman feast of Pomona, the goddess of fruits and seeds, or in Parentalia, the festival of the dead, and it may be that Halloween is simply a marker of “summer’s end” from the Celtic word and festival, Samhain.

Interesting.

So we’ve come from seemingly benign celebrations of saints, fruits and nuts and the end of summer to slut-fest 2010. Perhaps Freud was right, we are all a little repressed and Halloween is the one night we can let our inhibitions scatter to the wind and embody our inner desires.

Well, SG#1 and I let our inhibitions scatter so far I’m not sure we could find them again if we tried.

Together we were, “What happens in Vegas.”

We embodied the stereotypical Las Vegas couple. They meet in a bar on a Friday night and wake up Saturday morning with a crumpled marriage license, a sparkling wedding ring in the shape of a money sign and a matching set of fresh tattoos.

We arrived at the party and our costume reviews went a little something like this:

“So you’re dressed up as a married couple?!”

Oh.

Wait.

Well, yeah. We dressed up as a married couple. I guess there was nothing to hide. Deep down inside our repressed selves SG#1 and I just wanted to be a slutty Las Vegas married couple. Oops.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Trivia and Tics

I got a message from a guy I’d been emailing with, asking if I’d like to grab a bite to eat at Belltown Pizza. I had eaten there once before (on another date, if I remember correctly) and their slices were somewhat reminiscent of New York Pizza (which I was raised on). So, I agreed, happily.

When I arrived, he was already sitting at the bar, waiting for me. As soon as introductions were done, he informed me that it was trivia night! As someone who loves learning random facts, I’m often on the winning trivia team. This was an exciting change in the normal dinner routine!

We decided to split a pizza and join forces in the intellectual challenge. He seemed to know everyone in the bar, so free drinks were flowing throughout the evening. The first question was posed:
What color does acid turn Litmus paper?
Too easy! Bring on something a bit more challenging!

We stated “red” and, obviously, won the round. I looked at my date, his hands started flailing, and he opened his mouth:
"Hell yea, own it, ooowwwwnnnn it, own it! Hell yea, own it! Own it! Yea, yea, yea!"
Well, that was a bit more excitement than I was expecting for the first question! Oh well, I guess optimism and happiness are good traits.

Soon after, question two was announced:
What is a freshwater lobster called?
As a foodie, the question was also not a problem: Crayfish

Our answer was pronounced correct and my date began exploding with enthusaiasm once again:
“See that!?! Own it, ooowwwnnnn it, own it! That’s right, own it! Own it!”
Uh…ok…

And it continued…and continued…and continued throughout the evening.

We did, indeed, win the trivia competition. By the end, however, I didn’t have much enthusiasm left in me! His tourette-like outburts were draining! Certainly not something I could deal with on a long-term basis!

No, nope, nada, no way, nah, nope, no, no!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Keeping your eyes on the prize

One question I am consistently asked on this dating quest: have you and Looking for a Spark [LFAS] ever dated the same guy? The answer is no…but we’ve certainly talked about it! There is one guy, in particular, who makes me think of this potential situation: the optometrist.
Let’s take it back—
Almost year ago, he invited me to an amazing dinner at a scrumptious restaurant (Ray’s Boathouse). He was good company (despite having told me that something was "off" about my eyes), and we were thinking of going somewhere else afterwards. But messages crossed and it didn’t work out.

Date number two: we met at an Asian place (Indochine) somewhere midway between our respective residences. The food was alright, and, being in a period of transition with his job, he talked much more about his daily stressors than I felt comfortable hearing on the second date! I had had a rough week as well, but I just listened and listened. He never once asked me how things were going (though, truth be told, I don’t know how much I would have divulged on the 2nd date, anyway).

A couple weeks later, it was my birthday, and he insisted on cooking me dinner. Driving all the way out to where he lived, however, quickly convinced me that something long-term would not work out…especially while I was in school! Had we connected more, I might have been willing to take on that sacrifice of distance. At the end of the night, however, I realized that it would be our final date.
And fast-forward—
At the end of each academic quarter, my amazing nursing cohort unites for a celebration of accomplishments and (fleeting) freedom. The last one was at a classmate’s family’s gorgeous lake house. The party was phenomenal, complete with paddleboarding, chocolate fountains, and amazing company. Of course, before long, pictures erupted on facebook, highlighting the good times enjoyed by all.

As there were uncountable pictures of cute girls in bikinis, I have no doubt that they got a lot of facebook traffic. It so happens, however, that the optometrist is still one of my facebook friends. And, so, after not having heard from him in about half a year, I received a facebook message:
Hi,
So, I know things didn’t work out with us, but how about that girl, [LFAS], who I saw pictures of on facebook. Is she single? She’s really cute and it’d be great if you could work something out!
Thanks!
Uh…first of all, no, she wasn’t single. And second of all, is that even allowed?! Can you really ask someone you dated, to hook you up with their friend?? Granted, we never kissed or anything…but still!

While it’s the principle of the matter that bothers me, the truth is that I wouldn’t really mind playing matchmaker for a friend, if I found a guy I thought would be better for her than for me. So, if any single lady-readers decide they have their eyes open for potential dates, I might have an optometrist right up your alley!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Blast from the Past

A couple months ago, I was alerted to an new email on my POF account. When I opened it, I was shocked to see that it was from a guy I had been on several dates with a year prior. He was one of my first blog posts, as it turns out (the "good" of that dating triad). Despite several great dates last year, he had traveled for the holidays and we lost touch after his return to Seattle.

And one year later, I looked at the simple message on my computer screen: "You look good with longer hair." The memories came flooding back.

I've learned from this dating project that, when you loose touch with someone, it's usually for a good reason (no matter how appealing that person may seem after a time lapse). So, I was pretty skeptical. We chatted online for a bit and decided that it wouldn't hurt to meet up again.

He offered to cook me dinner, but wouldn't tell me what he was making (and, to be honest, I wasn't expecting much)! I got to his house and he hadn't started cooking yet--so I offered to help. But, he wouldn't let me touch a thing.

I will admit, it made me a little uncomfortable to sit around with nothing to do! (He sensed the uneasiness and I think he enjoyed getting me outside of my comfort zone.) But, it was probably good for me to not do ANYTHING for half an hour--between working, studying, and volunteering, I'm so used to running around like a chicken with my head cut off!

When he finally called me to the table, I was quite impressed! Laid out artfully on each plate were perfectly seared sesame encrusted Ahi tuna steaks, brown rice, and apple-endive salads! The night continued with good conversation and lovely company. Because we had already gone over all the "boring" details a year ago, we were able to have real conversations. It was so comfortable!

I had clinicals the following day, so I said my "goodbye's" and "thank you's." And, I left in high spirits. But a couple days later, I remembered what it was about him. He was not really dependable. When together, we had a ton of fun! But, then I wouldn't hear from him for a few days or weeks (or almost a year).

Since our reunion, we've met up a handful of times. And I really do enjoy hanging out with him (though we have very little in common). But, am I willing to disregard the unpredictability that is his nature? Hmmm...something to ponder...

In the meantime, it's fun :)

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Game Over

You know how people always say that you train your boyfriend for the next girl? Well, I’m not sure I fully believe that’s true, but lately I’ve been wondering if I’m doing just that.

No offense to SG#1 because he has many talents, but he is not a chef. In exchange for lessons about pop culture and music, I’ve been teaching SG#1 how to cook. And, since one must have an egg before they can cook a chicken, we started with lessons on grocery shopping for meals.


I know, I know, you’re already yawning at this blog post. “Poor me, I have a boyfriend that actually wants to learn how to grocery shop and cook.” BUT, as I help SG#1 sharpen his knife skills and ensure he knows how to pick the perfect avocado, am I preparing him to impress a younger, hotter version of me?


We started out at Trader Joe’s, me with my shopping list and reusable shopping bags and him with a look of mixed terror and excitement at the site of endless shelves filled with comestibles. We shared one cart and I quickly pulled my usuals off the shelves and threw them into my side of the cart like a contestant on Supermarket Sweep. SG#1 worked through the store more cautiously, and together we planned meals, committed to (attempting to) cook together at least once a week and filled the cart to the brim.


And then it happened.


My imagination went there.


You know, that place between reality and dreamland where you marry people in your head and picture your life together with 2.5 children and a white picket fence. I had successfully made it through five months of dating SG#1 without fully allowing my brain to take over my single-girl willpower, but there between organic bananas and boxes of quinoa I lost my game, all of it. I’m hoping SG#1 didn’t notice when I finally came-to and blushed, realizing I was making googly-eyed glances at him at the check stand. We loaded our bags into the car and I dropped off him and his groceries at his place. I must admit, there was a part of me wishing we were going home together to unload our groceries into our brushed metal refrigerator and make beautiful meals together – but the other 90 percent of me was completely freaking out, my game was over.


Then, a couple days later, I was counting up my dates and announced I had been on 78 dates. SG#1 got excited I was getting closer to 100, when he realized I meant I had been on 78 dates, not us together. “I don’t like being lumped together with all the other ones,” he exclaimed.


And that’s when I knew my game wasn’t quite over, but SG#1’s game was slowly taking a turn onto maple-lined, picket-fenced, Juniper Lane – and I secretly liked it.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

This plane’s circling the runway

Is it just me or does it seem like when you finally get to that point in a relationship when you’re thinking, “yeah, this might actually work out,” little tests start cropping up all over the place.

I realize normal people aren’t broadcasting their dating life over the Internet, but when you are, and when you’re counting your dates to 100, you (as in I) start to hear from men across America that perhaps you came in for a landing a little too soon.

It was a Saturday night a couple weeks ago. It had been about a week since I got to spend quality time with SG#1, and Coqueta and I were spending a quiet night cooking, eating and chatting. She started to tell me a story about a guy she heard from on an online dating site (read the whole story here: It’s a small world Part I: Internet stalkers?). Apparently he knew who she was and claimed to be an avid follower of the blog. He said he found the blog through a friend’s Facebook page, got hooked on the stories and then noticed one of the bloggers (Coqueta) had the same alias on the dating Web site he was surfing. We racked our brains to figure out who it was and it occurred to me that I had met a guy in a bar (sadly, I’m so old that it was 7 years ago now) that fit his description pretty well.

We ended up chatting over the dating Web site’s chat widget and he was shocked to find out I was the other 100 Dates blogger. And then he typed, “I’m a little disappointed you didn’t look me up in your rolodex for one of your hundred dates before settling down.”

Settling down. Had I really settled? Although completely convinced that being SG#1’s girlfriend had nothing to do with settling, and everything to do with miraculously finding someone with whom I was actually looking forward to date #3 (not to mention date #78!)…it still caught me a little off guard.

A week later, I started wondering if SG#1 remembered what I looked like after almost two weeks with nothing more than a quick “hello,” and up cropped test-a-roo number two. I received this text from a friend in Portland:
I’m hanging out with a guy I work with who knows u from your blog
WHAT?!
…he wanted to go on a date with you. He’s our director of analytics.

I had no idea who this guy was. I had never met him, I didn’t know what he looked like and he didn’t even live in the same city as me, but for some reason – maybe the time away from SG#1 or the looming meet-the-parents-weekend up ahead – the text gave me a little twinge: had the landing gear dropped prematurely?

The next night SG#1 had planned a surprise catch-up date. As I was getting ready, I was notably nervous and pulled my typical try-on-every-outfit-in-my-closet move. Finally pulling on an acceptable shirt, I heard SG#1 knocking at the door. I anxiously unlocked the double-lock and pulled open the door and with the first site of SG#1, two weeks’ worth of doubt and senseless fretting melted through the cracks of the front deck.

The evening was absolutely what we needed: a delicious dinner at WANN, a comedy show (Mike Birbiglia at the Moore) that we almost missed from talking too long at dinner, and drinks at Amber. So, sorry to all the men out there just dying to go on a date with me (HA!! Just kidding), but it seems this plane is circling the runway, the landing gear hasn’t dropped, but the flight attendants are preparing the cabin for landing and the city lights below are sparkling with potential.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

It’s a small world, Part II: Friends of friends of friends

I met a guy online the other day (yea, yea…no surprise there). After exchanging emails back and forth for a couple weeks, he asked if I’d like to grab coffee. He seemed like an all-around great guy (attractive, just finished law school, plays musical instruments, writes, is well-traveled)….so of course, I agreed to the date.

We met at a bakery near my house (which, of course, was slightly awkward, as usual). And, we started chatting. Here's the first five minutes of the conversation, for your voyeuristic pleasure:

Him: What have you been up to today?
Me: Oh, ya know, cooking for a dinner party tonight.
Him: Yea? What are you making?
Me: Some stuff I’m sure you’ve never heard of—xima and matapa. It will be well appreciated by the Peace Corps volunteers who are coming over for dinner.
Him: No way! My roommate was a Peace Corps Volunteer…in Mozambique.
Me: Uhhhhhhhh…I was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Mozambique!
I had to wonder—was he lying?! After having been “discovered” the week before, I began pondering how much this guy knew about me. Was he just making things up?! There aren't that many Peace Corps volunteers in the world. Let alone, currently living in Seattle. And Mozambique?! I'd assume that 90% of Americans couldn't even tell you where the country is located!
Me: What’s her name?
Him: Sarah*…do you know her?
Me: No, I’ve never met her, actually. But, as it turns out, she’s coming to my house for dinner with another volunteer who I do know!

How surreal! I meet some random guy for coffee, and then his roommate comes to my house for dinner that night?! Absolutely mind-boggling!

And the date, you might ask? It was enjoyable. We got drinks to go and walked through the Arboretum, chatting about everything and anything. Date 2 is in the stars.

The dinner was yummy too :)

*Names have been changed for anonymity

Saturday, October 23, 2010

It’s a small world Part I: Internet stalkers?

It was just a typical school night and I decided to check my OKcupid account before drifting into the dream world. I noticed that I had received an instant message at some point and opened it up. And then, I felt my jaw drop!

hey there
this may be a random question, but do you blog about your dates?
UH OH!

I needed to know more! But didn't want to blow my spot so early in the game, either. So I responded:
Random question, indeed. I have a friend who blogs about her dates.
Why do you ask?
(Not exactly a lie...but not completely the whole truth, either)

He eventually emailed me back:
I don't need to be a mathemagician to guess the number of people in Seattle who use the alias coqueta and are nursing students (I actually used to be a mathemagician... then I accidentally took the square root of a kid at a party. Horrible horrible tragedy, remainders all over the place. They took away my license after that :-) ).

I forget how I initially found it, but I've been following the 100 dates blog pretty much since the beginning. It's quite entertaining and when I saw your profile I wanted to see if you were one of the local mini-celebrities behind the blog."
Hmm....a funny guy, huh? (And maybe a bit nerdy...who makes algebra jokes?! But, nerdy is good, don't get me wrong) Anyhow, he didn't sound too threatening, so I fessed up.

Then, I asked him how we found the blog:
I suspect I was googling for Seattle date ideas although, I do know one or two of your followers.
I had no idea that we had any dedicated readers (well, besides our closest friends, families and classmates, who feel obligated to humor us in our dating adventures)! Soon after, however, I realized that I could see a map of where our readers were accessing the blog from...and as it turns out, we're an international sensation! Apparently, we have readers in Yemen, UAE, Norway, India, Malaysia, Brazil...AMAZING!!

(FYI--if you're reading this and we don't know it, feel free to become a follower or at least leave a comment!)

Anyway, returning from that tangent, Looking for a Spark (LFAS) and I did eventually talk more in-depth with our quasi-internet stalker. And, as it turned out, he and LFAS actually have some history of a friendship from years past! But, he didn't even know she was the other writer.

I guess Seattle is smaller than I thought!

And, I suppose I need to change my alias on this blog and/or the dating website. Ooops!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Being Judged

When you enter into a new relationship your normal way of doing things is suddenly up for discussion.
“Why are you eating your pizza like that?”
“You’re wearing that to the party?!”
“How many times do you work out during the week?”
“Did you really think that one through?”
Sometimes this is the part of you and him that can either make or break the relationship. And it is also where you and your partner challenge each other to becoming better people – even when all that means is a more civilized pizza eater. Although this is all pretty subjective and seemingly petty, it is the meat of daily conversation and the topic of everyday arguments and, if you and your partner can get through it, you open the doors for the real judging to begin: meeting the friends and family.

Not that I'm keeping a running tally or anything, BUT...so far out of SG#1's circle I've met a gaggle of friends, two brothers, one sister, one aunt, one uncle and two cousins (did I miss someone?). And with each meeting there is definitely an element of being judged. The perfect neutral location must be chosen, an equally neutral, but personality-revealing (not anatomy revealing) outfit must be worn, and topics of discussion must be selected carefully as to not to offend your newly acquainted member of his inner circle.

The first family member meeting was probably the most nerve-wracking. It was steamy hot outside for Seattle and I changed my clothes about as many times as SG#1 changed the restaurant location. When I finally walked down the stairs of Barrio in Bellevue (I dare you to count the number of times SG#1 and I have eaten at Barrio), I spotted SG#1 and his younger brother – we all matched! Ice officially broken! The conversation and the tequila flowed freely, and it was fun to see SG#1 and his brother tell stories using the same words and gestures, like only brothers can do. And, as the evening drew to a close the only thing left to do was to wait for my review.

Apparently, the review was a good one because I graduated to meeting SG#1’s sister and even, oh so boldly, spending an afternoon with her alone (no SG#1 to referee the girl talk and shameless family story telling). I was also invited to have dinner at SG#1’s aunt and uncle’s house where opening conversation topics ranged from drag queens to premarital bed-sharing – so much for neutral family discussions!! And most recently, SG#1 and I spent an evening at Paddy Coyne’s with his older brother celebrating big career wins with Irish Car Bombs. Now, if you can share Irish Car bombs together then there is only one direction this family meeting train can travel – to Kansas City to meet the parents. (I also have one more brother to meet!) Yes, yes I’m off to the big KC to rub elbows with the very people that raised SG#1. The ultimate judgment day is quickly arriving and, I must say, I have never experienced such a months-of-advanced-anticipation-meet-the-parents weekend as this one will be, so wish me luck loyal blog readers!

And one last shout-out to SG#1 and his friends watching the Notre Dame game in Indiana who, unbeknownst to me, have already met me through pictures and stories from SG#1 – I can’t even imagine what that means in the midst of tailgating – and have already submitted their review of me in the form of my latest nickname: “Hot Miss Size Zero.”

Note to self: never reveal your size to your boyfriend and pre-approve all iPhone pictures.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

I'm back!

After almost a month away attempting to save the world in Bolivia (and two months away from the blog) I was a little nervous that SG#1 would forget who I was and start liking the single life again. And to tell you the truth, there was a part of me that started to slip back into my single-girl pants and have a mini-mental-freak-out about being in a serious relationship again. But, as I stepped off the plane at SeaTac International, I got a whoosh of fresh Seattle air in my face and whoosh of butterflies in my stomach signaling the gamut of my mixed emotions... and sheer excitement over seeing SG#1 again!

Luckily, he still remembered what I looked like (crazy airplane hair and all), he pulled the car up to the sidewalk where I was standing and we started loading my way-too-heavy-bags (yes, bags plural) into the car. And it got me thinking. What is it that maintains the connection between two people even when you are a part from each other?

Bolivia's spotty Internet service and almost nonexistent cell phone towers made opportunities for communication few and far between. And with the work I was doing in Bolivia, the poverty I saw, the people I cared for, it felt like I was changing as a person every minute of the day. And SG#1 also had life-changing adventures with old friends while I was away. Yet, here in the airport loading zone, it felt like we hadn't skipped a beat.

It's funny to start to spending a lot of time with one person, it makes me wonder how those couples, married for 65 years, can maintain a solid relationship and still change and mold the person they are as they live their life separately, yet together. Someday maybe those couples will publish a book with their keys to success, the holy grail of marriage. Not that I've married SG#1 in my head or anything, but a long trip away gets a girl thinking, you know?

Interestingly enough, SG#1 admitted to a similar freak-out to mine - a seemingly natural response, I think, when one finally wakes up from the proverbial honeymoon period and realizes there's another person laying next to you.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Mixin' it up a bit

Since I'm quickly approaching the end of the "100 dates" with no exciting prospect in sight, I decided to be a bit more open-minded about potential matches. And so, when I was contacted by someone who was not really my type AT ALL, I figured, "Why not? What do I have to lose?!"

From his pictures, he looked like he could possibly be attractive (they were taken from a distance--1st warning sign, perhaps). We chatted online for a bit and he suggested meeting for a drink. I offered a counter suggestion of ice cream at Molly Moon's (YUM!!), and he agreed enthusiastically! Just as we were signing off, he threw in one last random comment: "I hope we can talk about our travels. It'd be great if we could get together and travel the world!" (Hmm...haven't even met you yet, dude! Warning sign #2, perhaps?!)

I got to the shop and he was waiting outside (long frizzy hair, pot belly, short stature...the pictures were certainly more flattering). But, I didn't have any other plans for the night...and I was keeping an open mind, right?!

As we stood in the VERY long line, he mentioned that he wasn't going to get ice cream, after all. His mom was in town from India and had cooked a huge meal. Maybe I'd like to come over for dinner sometime soon? (Uhhh...offer to meet the parents so early in the game?! Warning sign #3!)

We approached the counter and I went with his recommendation (balsamic strawberry) in the junior size. He got out his wallet, despite my offers to pay; it was only $2.50. "No," he insisted, as he ostentatiously waved around a $100 bill. Mr. Franklin was certainly not necessary for the menial tab! (Warning sign #4?)
Open mind, open mind, open mind...
We brought our (aka "my") ice cream outside to walk around Cal Anderson Park, and I have to admit, between the dodge ball and BMX jockey tournaments, the people watching was fun! He wanted to keep walking, though. So we talked. And, he was somewhat interesting (well, when he wasn't telling me about test driving a Ferrari or about the BMW he owns...I'm not very materialistic). But, then he went to length, again, about how we should get married and travel together. Has he not gotten the memo that this is NOT appropriate first date discourse?!

At one point on the walk, he mentioned that I intimidate him and he feels like he has to be on his best behavior around me. Then, mid-conversation, he busted out in song:
"Hug me, hug me...get closer and hug me..."
Hmm, I had never heard of that one! If he was hoping his made up lyrics were going to have some sort of subliminal impact, he was quite wrong! All I wanted to do was wrap my arms tighter around myself and take a few steps away. Yikes!

At this point, almost an hour had passed. I decided to inform my Romeo that I was sleepy and had a lot of homework still to do. Straight to the car please!

I bid him good night and he did the same, turning on his heels. BUT WAIT! He decided he wasn't finished and walked back towards me!
"You know, you make me feel so self-conscious...like I can't be myself around you! So, I'm going to be myself."
And he came in for the kill! I diverted his target and he kissed my forehead goodnight. Whew...that was a close one!

I jumped in my car and sped off. I think I'll be sticking with "my type" from now on!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Buses and Volcanoes and Bats...Oh My!

As a wanderlust, I'm always looking for excuses to see the world. And so, I happened upon a one-month opportunity to spend my summer break in Nicaragua, setting up a clinic! As many of my peers are also world travelers, they viewed my Nicaragua project as a way to get out of the US as well. And so, a prior fling decided to fly down to meet me in this HOT and WET tropical locale.

He was brave, flying down alone and taking a taxi to meet me in a hectic market/bus terminal,
without having a solid Spanish background or a way to contact me. But we managed to find one another amongst the pushy bus operators, women carrying colorful eats on their heads, and occasional chickens and stray dogs skirting around our feet. We boarded a local, vibrant, converted school bus to embark on our journey. A couple years prior, we had traveled together in Africa, so it was almost refreshing (in the beginning) to re-experience the sights, sounds, and smells of this experience. (That being said, the cramped seats, BO-filled air, and bumpy ride got old fast!)

As the week progressed, we visited several of the country's numerous volcanoes. To get our fill of inactivity, we spent a day floating in Laguna de Apoyo--a tranquil, dormant, volcanic crater that has since filled up with amazingly clear, mineral-rich water--while howler monkeys roared in the distance. Quite relaxing! On the other hand, it was very humbling to see how powerful mother nature can be, while inhaling the billowing, sulfur-filled smoke erupting from Volcán Masaya.

When we were around the Masaya volcano, we also decided to
check out the bat caves. At one spot, we could sit in darkness while we feeling the breeze of hundreds of bats flying past our faces. Definitely a reason to grab on to someone's hand!


But, alas, the "vacation" came to an end. He returned to work and I returned to school. But the memories shared will last a lifetime.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Looks can be deceiving!

I was browsing for an apartment and/or housemate on craigslist one day and saw a "perfect" ad: he was looking at a similar price range, didn't smoke, was low key, enjoyed cooking, and was a yoga teacher! So, I contacted him, divulging a bit about myself and what I was looking for.

He wrote back, providing a link to his yoga website, so that I could learn a bit more about him. He also mentioned, however, that he was looking at a place with someone else that same day, but that he would keep me updated, no matter what.

As promised, I got an email that evening. Unfortunately, he said that he was going to go with the other opportunity. BUT--would I be interested in grabbing coffee, regardless?

I went back to that email with his website address and, sure enough, there were photos. And he was HOT! Clean-cut, fit, piercing blue eyes...heck yea I was interested! So, we set up a date for later in the week, to grab some coffee at the Starbucks on Alki. I had a good feeling about it!

Being the excellent student I am, I was studying at a picnic table facing the water when I saw a guy approaching me. He was disheveled and unkempt, with long, stringy, graying locks. His shirt was unbuttoned at the top and he was sporting a threadbare jacket. As he came closer, I recognized the bright blue eyes I had seen on his website, but otherwise, he looked like a different person!

We did get coffee and talked for a bit. We had traveling in common and were able to share stories of past adventures. But, as the minutes ticked by, I was getting more and more antsy to leave! I eventually bid him farewell went back to my car. Only an hour had passed, but it felt like eternity! I didn't feel the need to look in the rear-view mirror as I drove off.

NOTE: I have since moved into a lovely place with two fantastic roommates!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

He tamed the blog girl

So we’re sitting at drinks with friends at Eastlake Bar and Grill, SG#1 and I, and his friends are teasing me about the usual: “Is that your phone or a calculator?!”

And someone introduces SG#1 to a new friend as he sits down at the table, “This is SG#1, he’s the guy that tamed the blogger.”

A totally unexpected giant whoosh of surprise hit my stomach. Tamed the blogger? What is that supposed to mean?

The seemingly benign comment threw me into a whirling tumbleweed of thoughts about my dating life. You see, it’s a funny thing when you sign up for online dating sites. Every day you receive in your inbox 10-20 smiling new men ready to take you out to a nice dinner, hand you a flower (if you’re Coqueta) and impress you with stories of travel adventures and their latest big win at work. Pretty soon that thing that married people tell single people to make them feel better when someone breaks up with them over voicemail – “There are plenty of fish in the sea” – starts to come true and you find yourself becoming the emotionally unavailable commitment-phobe you dated three guys ago.

So as any experienced yogi might do, I recognized that one last twinge of my single life and let it float on by. It’s been fun picking dates from the schools of available (and emotionally unavailable) Seattle men-fish, and it was a much needed head-first dive into the dating sea. But, I’m also really enjoying having my person to discover new restaurants, travel to new cities, eat pizza in bed and meet family members (heads up for the post about meeting some of the family!). Just for the record, though, SG#1 may be my boyfriend, but nobody can tame this blogger.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Only missing one thing!

Although many people consider me a dating expert at this point, I admittedly have a lot to learn! When a friend suggested that I make a formal list of the characteristics I desire in a potential mate, I quickly obliged. This activity requires a lot of self-reflection and concentration, but by afternoon, I felt like I had a pretty solid compilation of "must have" and "would be nice" characteristics.

And so, I set that grueling task aside to attend happy hour at The Atlantic Crossing with a group of world travelers. I was one of the first there, and started chatting with a friend. A half hour later, someone walked in and caught my eye. Wow--I'd never seen him before!

We struck up a conversation and it turned out that he had visited and was in love with the country I had lived for 2 1/2 years prior to graduate school. We even knew people in common over there. Small world! As more people filed in, however, we socialized with other acquaintances and I thought that he may not be interested after all. When I announced that I was leaving however, he was adamant that I stay. I declined. So he insisted on exchanging numbers. Sweet!

A few hours later, while hosting a small painting/dinner party with my girlfriends, I got a call:
"Hey, it's me. I know it's a little late, but we're just now leaving and I was wondering if you'd be down for grabbing a drink."
As luck would have it, my morning class was cancelled for the following day. Sure, why not?! And so, we met at Luc from some lovely drinks and fantastic conversation! Eventually, the waitress came over:
"Excuse me, we wanted to let you guys keep chatting, but we closed at midnight."
We figured it was just after, but upon looking at the time, realized it was 1am! Oops! Very gentlemanly, he walked me home but, halfway there, he spun me around and planted a luscious kiss on me. I liked the directness of it! We got to my house and continued talking (and kissing) into the early morning (nothing scandalous happened, get your minds out of the gutter)! And as the sky began changing colors, we bid farewell.

Later, when I reexamined the list I had made for my ideal mate, he seemed to fit every characteristic, including those from the "would be nice" category! He was confident, optimistic, goal-oriented, had traveled extensively, was well-educated, didn't smoke, had a sense of humor, was a good kisser, is excited about learning, easy-going, tall, bilingual, and of course, attractive (amongst many other fantastic qualities)! Perfect kind of guy for me!

Well, except that he starts school in California in September, and is planning on being there for the next four years. I've unsuccessfully done the long distance thing before, and I hardly even know him. We've agreed to keep in touch, but I'm a realist so my heart isn't set on this guy.

I've since updated my list, however, to include geographic proximity! Hopefully the universe listens, once again!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

The essence of wetness...is Vancouver, BC

The weekend of August 7th was the wettest weekend in the history of Vancouver getaways. It poured and drizzled and misted my hair into a beautiful frizzy mass on the top of my head. Despite the less than perfect weather, the rest of the weekend was fantastically blissful and, dare I say, honeymoon-like.

With water soaking up to our knees we dodged puddles to find our seats at Cirque du Soleil's, Kooza. If you've never seen a Cirque du Soleil show you must go - a way better solution than a movie on a rainy day in any city. And, if you can pay to sit next to an older woman that squeals with delight at the slightest of death-defying tricks, then you've just paid for your tickets three times over. I swear the show organizers planted this woman in the audience. During the second half, two men wearing nothing but spandex mounted two spinning wheels of death and, completely disregarding the rules of gravity, proceeded to run and jump and flip in mid-air, hanging from the ceiling...and the howling, shrieks of glee pouring out of the woman next to me made me laugh so hard I was near tears by the end of the show. I was sure she would either have a heart attack or an orgasm right there in the folding seat under the big top.

The next day, totally ignoring the soggy clouds settling street-side in Vancouver, we ventured off to Grouse Mountain. Expecting the untethered wilderness of say Mt. Si or Rattlesnake Ridge, we instead entered into the Disneyland of the outdoors. After a quick gondola ride into dense fog, we emerged to find, I am not joking you, a lumberjack show, bears in cages, birds on leashes and (for the untethered wilderness part) completely unmarked hiking "trails."

I know, I know, I'm boring you with a play-by-play review of the activities available for a weekend getaway in Vancouver. But the point is, not even an unmarked hiking trail in ankle-deep sledge, soaking showers threatening to halt outdoor adventure plans or a surprise baby-octopus tentacle popping out of a deep fried tube of I-don't-know-what managed to jostle SG#1 into a tizzy. Who is this guy?!

I must say, after a long conversation about our "Top-10 -Must-Haves-In-A-Totally-Hypothetical-Partner-List," a good travel partner is pretty high on mine. Although travel can be an intense snapshot of deflated expectations, downpours on the beach and stolen wallets. Travel is also just you and your partner against the world. And, if you can turn rainy days and slippery, boulder-scaling trails into fun adventures, then hopefully bad days at work and your future children covered in vomit (yep, I went there) will just be another rock on the trail making up a beautifully manicured pathway to happily-ever-after...Ha! SAPPY! But seriously, I think a weekend getaway is a good gauge for what it would be like to be on SG#1's "Amazing Race" of life and I must say, I like what I see...so far.

I am all kinds of cheese today, but one more thing...if you're ever in Vancouver for dinner GUU is the way to go. GUU is the edible, restaurant version of an orgasmically squealing woman sitting next to you while watching body twisting circus tricks at Cirque du Soleil.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Crossing into uncharted territories

WARNING: if you are not in the medical field and/or get easily grossed out, this may be a post you want to skip!

When you start working in healthcare, it becomes quickly apparent that not everyone wants to hear about the intricate details of your day. From the latest gaping wound you debrided with maggot therapy to the technicalities of ensuring a good latch during breastfeeding, some things are better left unsaid in public. But, alas, I met a guy who was also in the medical field!

There was comfort in meeting up after having finished a long day in clinicals and, when asked how my day went, really being able to divulge things that I found interesting (NEVER detailed or identifying info, as that would be a HIPAA violation).

So, one day, after having dated for a couple weeks, he asked me what I had done in school that morning.
"Today, we had some really creepy, plastic rectal models to practice prostate exams on."
He was shocked!
"They don't have you doing rectal exams on real people?!"
No, that comes later, I explained. He followed with a "generous" offer:
"Listen, give me a couple days to clean out my bowels and I'll let you practice on me."
Hmm...for some reason that just seemed to extinguish the romance. Don't get me wrong, I'm all for edification...but we had only known each other for a few weeks! Needless to say, the relationship did not progress much further.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Keeping it Juicy

I received an email recently from SG#1 informing me that the blog posts are getting a little less than juicy. And it got me thinking. Yes, we have only been dating for a few months now, but is the honeymoon over? Is it the end of juicy? How does one keep it juicy?

I must admit that part of the lack of va-va-va voom is because I know SG#1 is reading my every word, so it’s hard to express my inner dialogue without wondering if he will think I’m a crazy person for what goes on in my head. But, alas, that is what a blog is. So, loyal blog readers, fret not. I promise I will from now on keep it real, keep it juicy and keep writing!

So in real news, we’re leaving today to spend the weekend in Vancouver. It’s our first trip together, so it should be interesting. I think people’s quirks come out easier under the stress of traveling (mine do for sure), so maybe the honeymoon really is over and we’ll start to get to know each other’s real side this weekend. Truth be told, we haven’t had a lot of time to spend with each other seeing our real sides. Between travel schedules and exams it’s hard to find time for more than a quick bite or a movie.

I’m definitely looking forward to some quality time and I also think I’m ready for the honeymoon to be over. I like the inside of relationships. It’s like the inside of an orange peel, where all the juicy goodness is. And after a year of just zesting the peel with countless dates, it’s fun to finally get to the juicy segments…so the juice is not over, it’s just beginning.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

The Big 4-0

It's official. I've hit 40! Forty dates that is. I realize Coqueta is waaaay ahead of me by now, but I'm still pretty excited about catching up to the half-way mark.

I don't think SG#1 knew that we were on my 40th date, but it was a good one nonetheless. We started out at the Big Picture to see Inception. The Big Picture is a great place to take a date: it has an intimately cozy atmosphere and they take orders for drinks and food to be delivered to your seat while you watch the movie. Although our second round of drinks never actually made it to our hot little hands, the movie was absolutely spellbinding. I couldn't peel my eyes from the screen! If you haven't seen Inception, it is definitely an excellent date movie, especially for a late-night dinner conversation starter - which is what we did next.

It's not surprising (but always appreciated) that SG#1 had reservations for dinner perfectly timed for one after-movie-drink and a jaunt across the street to Black Bottle. I don't know if he was purposely attempting to reinvent my Black Bottle history, (if you remember, my first date with the guy I married in my head was at Black Bottle and I mentioned it was one of my favorite restaurants in Seattle...tricky SG#1!) but it was definitely a 40th-date-night-to-remember: delicious food (although the brie and leek flatbread wasn't as good as I remembered), a super weird waitress and a good mix of funny and serious conversation.

SG#1 and I have been on roughly 20 dates so far and it has been a nice little adventure! Our dinner and a movie date was a good break from our typical drinking with dinos and trapeze flying dates and, of course, SG#1 managed to spice it up with a swanky movie theater and tasty dinner. I think it was time for us to lose ourselves in conversation with "just us" since we spend most of our time working/studying, hanging out with friends and world-traveling.