The Last Name Game

140-01I’ve cut my teeth as an investigative journalist a time or two, and nowhere do those hard-earned skills come in handier than with online dating. Every profile is filled with clues–every first date stuffed with opportunities to learn more about this mysterious stranger sitting across from you! But the key to it all, the latch that opens the box to the world of internet stalking, is finding out a last name.

That’s one of the weirder things about online dating–the fact that you meet this person based on their photo and first name, and can often go weeks without learning this pretty basic information. And figuring it out takes a bit of sleuthing or clever questioning–one friend of mine said they discovered the golden ticket when they were talking about their heritage and she asked what country his last name came from. I myself have tried to master the side-eye on a credit card receipt when my chivalrous mystery man offers to pay for drinks. I also have a habit of dating writers, who in a fit of romantic pique, send me their blogs, poetry portfolios, or twitter feeds. …Mystery solved!

I, like every other human-being on the planet, cannot fight the urge to then type that name into Google or Facebook and see what I can find. I’m not looking for a criminal record or a LinkedIn profile–just a hi-res still or two from a philanthropic gala they were honored at, or some unlocked vacation photos from their volunteer trip to save the whales! Obviously just your basic fact-finding….

What’s My Age: 24, when I dressed as Sherlock Holmes for Halloween and dominated the office costume contest. 


Budget Bust

142-01I’m a pretty thrifty person and try to stick to a budget each month that divides my paycheck into threes: a third for rent, a third for bills and leisure expenses, and a third to save. Obviously, as a NYC resident, this is not so cut and dry, and my dreams of saving enough money to retire by the time I’m thirty have been sidetracked by things like my electric bill and a shameful habit of buying accessories from Forever21. So many thumb rings…so few thumbs!

Like all of my efforts at living a perfect life, I start out strong at the beginning of the month, start sliding in the middle, and then completely combust and give up by the end. When the first of the month rolls around, I lock down my credit cards, make all my meals, brag about my thriftiness and feel self-righteous towards other people throwing their money down the drain. I consider investing. I consider starting a 401k. I consider attempting to learn what a 401k is. I’m the picture of a well-accessorized responsible adult!

But then, two weeks in, my groceries run out, and my gateway drug of buying lunch starts the slow unraveling. Lunch leads to dinner. Maybe I’ll pull myself together and buy more groceries and get myself temporarily back on track, but it’s all a ruse! It’s too late for me to make it through a full month of fiscal responsibility! Throw in my endless work hours of scrolling Groupon and Living Social, and by the last week of the month, I’ve thrown my hands (and wallet) in the air and accepted that my retirement condo fund is being funneled into cold brew, hummus plates, and haircuts I will probably regret! The first can’t come soon enough!

What’s My Age: 22, when I received my first paycheck and immediately spent it on an impulsive trip to Barcelona. 

Message Received

139-01I’ve been trudging through the online dating wasteland for over a year now, and have received my fair share of messages from potential mates. Of course we’ve all heard horror stories of creeps sending disgusting and inappropriate messages to people, and fortunately, I have not been the receiver of any of those! Must be my professed love of Ella Fitzgerald that keeps a modicum of decorum to my inbox…

Still, a lot of the messages I receive are head-scratchers, mostly because the assumed attitude towards online dating messaging tends to be casual and aloof, with an undertone of “Meh.” So anytime I receive an especially passionate proclamation, my eyebrows raise…and I screen shot it for this blog.

So here begins a new series I’d like to call, “Is This For Real? Actual Messages from OkCupid.”

  • “I’m real. No games. 6’2″, lean, and have been told I’m good looking. If you read my profile let me know what you think. It’s not for everyone but it’s definitely different. I do not think that chemistry can be felt through text messages. If you like my words, I can send you a link to face pics. Thanks!”
  • Can I talk to you for a while? Your profile is interesting and I am sure you would be even more interesting than your profile.”
  • “Hey! How are u? Are u married?”
  • “Okay, so this is going to sound like a throwaway line…but are you really as ticklish as you look?”

The answer is…

What’s My Age: 5, the peak of my ticklishness. 

Music House

138-01I’ve lived in my apartment for four and a half years, a feat mostly attributed to my obsession with my beautiful fake fireplace and my revulsion towards moving/broker’s fees/organizing my coat closet in order to pack it. During this time, I’ve met my immediate neighbors a few times, although our interactions haven’t exactly been “neighborly.” The man next door has a raging drug habit, so our relationship is me, sticking my head out of my door at 3 in the morning to yell “SHUT UP!” and him, responding with a slew of obscenities directed my way. Guess I won’t be receiving a loaf of banana bread anytime soon…

I haven’t had much hope for any neighborly love in my building, but the other day, I heard an amazing sound from a few floors up that had me changing my tune…while they played theirs! Yes, a professional musician seems to have moved into one of the apartments on the higher floors, and if that wasn’t great enough, they play saxophone! The other morning, I woke up to the strains of blues scales, was serenaded out the door then greeted with more jazzy jams when I got home that night!

This is an amazing development on many levels. And now the obvious question is….how do I meet this person and play saxophone duets with them? I practice once or twice a week–surely their curiosity about me is piqued a bit? Don’t they dream of ripping through a Rubank Advanced Method duet book the way I dream of it? Maybe instead of sticking my head out to scream at my neighbor, I’ll play a little tune and hope this new one is inspired to harmonize!

What’s My Age: 14, when I started taking private saxophone lessons and would play duets with my teacher until the “late bus” would take me home. 



Endless Fatigue

136-01I have a lot on my mind these days, and compounded with the sudden humidity that has engulfed my apartment, my nights are especially restless! Just last night, I think I finally nodded off around 4 am, after running through every thought I’ve ever had about every person/place/thing I’ve ever interacted with. Forget sheep–trawling the brain waves for that long-forgotten 9th grade embarrassment is a surefire way to bore yourself to sleep eventually!

Unfortunately, this insomnia is a vicious cycle that’s hard to break, because then I’m completely exhausted all day! And the last things I feel like doing are all the things recommended to help me wake up! How am I supposed to motivate myself to get up early and exercise when I’m falling asleep mere hours before that alarm? And cutting back on coffee? Honestly. HONESTLY. 

Well I have to do something because I can’t live like this! But what I really want to know is how it’s possible for a person to have this many thoughts in the first place! At a certain point, you’d think my brain would just be like, “Uh, Alyssa. Give it a DAMN REST. ENOUGH WITH THE THOUGHTS. GO TO SLEEP. GIT!” But so far, no such luck. I need some other remedies….but frankly I’m too whooped to do any research right now!

What’s My Age: A newborn baby, awake at night, asleep during the day. 


TGIF? Almost…

133One of the many, many joys of this career I have dedicated my life to is that it’s a 24/7, 365 day-a-year operation. Since I’ve been employed, I’ve been on the clock at every hour of the day; toasted the New Year, at midnight, at my desk; ate turkey and stuffing in a conference room; celebrated Valentine’s Day with a Hershey kiss handed to me by my boss (not a real holiday, but still…); and have spent countless weekends and nights toiling away while my friends and family made plans, actually kept them, and enjoyed life. …Oh, that doesn’t sound joyful to you? Yea, me neither.

At my current job, I work normal daytime hours but my work week goes from Tuesday-Saturday. Compared to other schedules I’ve had, this is basically the best-case scenario. At my last job, I was sometimes clocking out at 4 am, and for a miserable three months, my work schedule was midnight to 8. So any alternative to that fresh hell is a breeze! But I honestly mind it less than I thought I would! Obviously it’s not ideal to have to work on a Saturday, especially now that the weather’s getting nicer and all I really want to do is pack a picnic and read in the park. …But I’d want to do that Monday-Friday, so what real difference does it make anyway?

Working on a Saturday is a much-more laid back affair than working during the week, so I’ve almost convinced myself I only work four days a week. And as usual, misery loves company, so the workplace is filled with other people who would rather be elsewhere but have grinned and bared it. We’re all in this together! …Which again…is a five-day-a-week mindset. Not really missing much, huh?

What’s My Age: 23, when I switched jobs to get off of an overnight weekend schedule, and was first introduced to how “normal” people lived. 

Boo! A Ghost!

128-01One of the worst parts about dating is this horrible trend of “ghosting” someone, which, for those unaware of this term, (if that’s true, please invite me to your dream world…) basically means that someone falls off the face of the earth into an abyss filled with other inconsiderate people all clutching their phones, furiously scrolling through dating apps looking for someone better. This has become the acceptable way to end relationships because it requires zero thought and comes with zero consequences. Back to the vortex you go!

This has happened to me a handful of times, both with guys I’ve met once or twice, and in one case, someone I had been seeing for almost six months. The worst part about being ghosted is the feeling that you’ve totally misjudged this person and their mutual interest in you. Here I am, thinking things are going great (or relatively well? Just ok? …So many thoughts!) and there they are, not thinking about you at all! Plus, the lack of any sort of closure at all is a hard pill to swallow. WHY DON’T YOU LIKE ME???

Now I obviously understand the impulse–I’ve been on the other side and have been the less interested party, and it’s an awkward feeling to know you’re hurting someone’s feelings. But my impulse to not ghost is more rooted in the fact that even though I’m rejecting them, I still want them to think I’m a nice person! The fear of judgement runs deep!

And at the end of the day, what’s a little common courtesy in the grand scheme of things? Here’s an insider tip–if you ever happen to have the opportunity to ghost me, please think twice. I promise that in the microscopically slim chance I ever see you on the street, I won’t chase you down, grab you by the shirt and demand answers (although the impulse will certainly be there…). I’ll just pretend to be texting someone and then write mean things about you in my journal. …It’s a process.

What’s My Age: 17, when I took chemistry and learned how to turn solids into vapor.