Picking Up

A belated Happy New Year to everyone! I know it’s been a rough couple of weeks, and I’ve been clutching onto every last shred of good will I can muster. My parents recently brought home two new puppies, and I would highly recommend that as an antidote to the pitch black cloud that has settled in. (Forecast says blue skies will return…in 4 years.)

Despite the negative news, it has been heartening to see so many people energized and passionate, showing up and making noise. The intense disgust I felt for this country in November has fortunately been replaced with some relief–that people are good and kind, and can still find humor and light and community, even when it feels especially taxing to do so. I’ve been looking for ways to get involved, for ways to not become so weighed down with the enormity of what we’re facing, for ways to not be complacent and self-serving. And that’s hard! It’s hard to feel ok going about a “normal” life when there’s so much else to be done!

But at the same time, I do want to be conscious of my own mental health, because I felt like I let 2016 turn into a year of wallowing and complaining and feeling sorry for myself. That is not the person I want to be, and I’ve been making changes, some big, and some smaller,  that I’d like to keep sharing here. So I’m going to dig myself out of my self-imposed hiatus, dust of the keyboard, and attempt to get back into a regular schedule of posting on the blog. (Starting next week….maybe?)  So I hope this can be a space where you realize, hey, even in these trying times, Alyssa STILL cannot find someone that will send her a bouquet of flowers after the first date. (Which is a real thing that happened to someone my sister knows and now the bar has been SET!)

Chin’s up everyone! And thanks for tuning in and letting me have this space.

 

 

A Year in Review

171-01I’m signing off for the rest of the year to enjoy Christmas and flee to the beautiful, cell-service free land of the Catskills. Happy holidays everyone! And hooray for this year mercifully being over!

It’s been…a year. Even aside from the cloud of darkness the election caused and the constant onslaught of depressing news, 2016 was not my favorite year. Work sucked, my dog passed away, my friends moved away, and I was once again left with my face pointed to the heavens, wondering when things were going to magically align and become easy. You’d think by now I would know that A.) that’s not how the heavens work B.) you should wear sunscreen when staring directly at the heavens C.) things don’t work on the timeline that I decide will work for me.

As I have displayed and written about countless times, patience is not my thing. And 2016 demanded a lot of patience on many different levels that I just don’t possess! I was supposed to be patient with my career and the endless waiting that it would finally become something I’d actually enjoy; I was supposed to patiently slog through the wasteland of jerks who dumped me and treated me like crap on the off chance one of them would be nice enough to date for longer than a month; I’m supposed to wait patiently for the day/minute/second where I actually feel like I know WHAT I AM DOING AT ALL; and I’m supposed to funnel all of this patience so I don’t look back and say, “Oh, silly Alyssa. See all that time you spent being impatient for things that have eventually worked out?” That is a TALL ORDER!

….So the goal for 2017 is to have (a tad bit) more patience. Or at least to not let all of my impatience snowball into a giant clump of FEELINGS AND EMOTIONS AND ANGST all the time. But mixed in with all of that are some good things too. I made a lot of positive changes to my work situation (teaser – will be discussed in the new year….); I traveled, I made new friends, I did fun things, I took risks, I lunged out of my comfort zone, I flung myself out of situations where I was unhappy and made changes. So here’s to appreciating that! Personal growth! Maybe 2016 wasn’t a wash after all. (Though a better dating life wouldn’t have hurt….) At least I had a haircut I finally liked!

Coffee Shop Monologue

170-01In a very special edition of snooping on peoples private conversations they’re having very loudly in a public place, I hit the mother-load of millennial angst and #firstworldproblems when I was sitting in my local cafe sipping an over-priced latte on my day off. (…The struggle is real.) This poor girl was venting to her friend about roommate woes (been there/done that/live alone now) and I was so inspired by her soliloquy, I started transcribing her rant from a few tables away and am dedicating an entire post to it. Living with narcissistic whackos is hard…I feel ya gurl!

“I don’t feel like I live there anymore. It looks totally different and it doesn’t feel like my home anymore. You know that couch? Well they moved it into the corner and Daniel was like, that sounds disgusting. They moved my chair into the corner and now I just feel incredibly uncomfortable. The one condition I said when I moved in was that I would get rid of all my furniture but I have to keep that chair, and they didn’t respect that. And next time my mom comes to New York I’m going to be like, ‘Come and help me figure this shit out because I hate it.’ I mean, I don’t really hate it, but I just need a mom right now. And the one thing I said, I was like, ‘The one thing that would make me feel really comfortable would be to move this bookshelf back against the wall’ and they didn’t even seem to care. So then I came out and I was like, ‘Is that what I think it is?’ And they didn’t move the bookshelf! And Tanner starts copping an attitude with me, like I shouldn’t be the one freaking out about it.”

At which point I fled the scene in horror, knowing there’s a guy named Tanner that apparently lives in my neighborhood now.

What’s My Age: 13, when I probably would have had a huge crush on a guy named Tanner. 

Partner in Crime

169-01When you scan through online dating profiles on a regular basis like I (unfortunately) do, you start to recognize patterns and phrases that come up again and again. And aside from the alarming number of guys who post photos of themselves posing with drugged up tigers, (someone, please explain where/why this happens??) a huge number of guys are looking for a “partner in crime.” Now, this is an overused phrase in general, and I guess it’s meant as a cute way to show you have an adventurous spirit.  Not some average law-abiding Joe, this says you’re totally down to do some public trespassing…and need a partner for lookout.

Living in New York City, there is really no shortage of petty crimes you could get yourself involved in, and apparently these potential matches have a need for life on the edge. Hey, I’m game! I’ve lived life pretty close to the legal vest, but I could probably jump over a subway turnstile or two if the mood struck! I would totally be into staying in a public park past 11 PM on a weekday too, if that was more your thing. And if you’re feeling really crazy, I would definitely feel comfortable blowing past a red light…on my bike…wearing my helmet of course.

Hmm, maybe a life of crime isn’t for me. I know dating is supposed to expand your mind and open your life to new experiences, but maybe I’m more of a law-abiding dater. Looks like this closes me off to 90% of the okcupid dating population….

What’s My Age: 5, when I stole a pack of gum, got caught, and had to apologize to the manager of my town Shoprite. #scaredstraight #anythingforgum

Speed Date

163-01Last night I went on a date that lasted approximately one hour and fifteen minutes, which edged out a previous record of a 90-minute date I had a month ago. At this rate, I’ll be knocking these puppies out in a cool 45 by the new year! Now listen, I get it, quality over quantity, blah blah blah, but it’s a little hard to get into the groove of getting to know someone when that someone is checking their phone every five minutes before announcing at 8:30 on the dot that they’ve made 9 PM plans! As a gentlemanly topper, he added, “No offense!” as he hurriedly downed the last sip of wine and rushed for the 1 train.

Obviously, he wasn’t into it, and that’s totally fine! Sometimes you just don’t click right away with a person, but one of the things I absolutely hate about modern dating culture is the fact that that’s an automatic end-all. There’s no sense of investment–of taking the time to figure out if you mesh with this random person sitting across from you. If it’s not fireworks right off the bat, it’s over and done with, plan B lined up (in this case…immediately). Now I’ve gone on first dates that have been awesome and second dates that have been less than awesome, but then I’ve also gone on mediocre first dates before begrudgingly meeting for round 2 and having a great time! You just never know where something might lead or when feelings will kick in!

Of course there’s no formula, and maybe I’m just being overly sensitive about Speed-dater Steve (not his real name…). I just wish that not every online dating interaction felt like a test, with options 2-500 breathing right down your neck! …Although I can’t really talk–after a luke-warm hug, I walked to the train and spent the five-minute subway wait-time flipping through online dating matches. ….No time to waste!!

What’s My Age: 21, when I went speed dating for the first (and only) time and drank four gin and tonics in 30 minutes. 

Forbidden Fruit

164-01Last weekend I went to visit my sister in her new apartment! She officially made the move to a Stars Hollow-esque town (current pop culture reference, amirite??) main street and all! Her apartment is amazing, spacious, well-decorated and much more affordable than mine, but superseding all these perks is the fact that she has the MOST AMAZING GROCERY STORE I HAVE EVER ENTERED. This grocery store has literally made me question all of my life decisions and has me seriously picturing my life with an SUV, 2.5 children, and bags filled with fresh produce!

Let me back up a bit….I have wanted to live in New York City since I was a little kid, and making that dream possible has been one of my bigger life accomplishments. But….living in the city is hard! It’s loud and overwhelming, and lately I’ve just been feeling like I want to simplify my life, away from the relentless nature of the city. Of course, my overthinking NEVER ENDS, but when I walked into the Shoprite with my sister and saw the wide variety of farmer’s market produce, that produce became a metaphor for MY FUTURE. She did all of her shopping in one fowl swoop, got in her car and went home. Easy. Simple. When shop, I stop at 4 different places before lugging 10 plastic bags (metaphorical emotional baggage…) on a crowded and over-heated train. Not easy. Not simple. Needless to say, I was really digging my heels in when it came to heading back to the city…to my empty refrigerator. (Metaphor for…the emptiness of urban life?)

I might be stretching things a bit, and I’m not packing my bags….yet. But it does have me thinking about my future and where I see myself long-term. Who knew that a Shoprite super store and its organic produce section could be so enlightening??

What’s My Age: 37, prime suburban-mom age, swinging by the store to pick up parsnips and kale for a delicious and nutritious family meal in her farm house kitchen. 

 

Dead End Talks

153-01I recently ended a relationship with someone I had been seeing, and have been in that post breakup phase of manically messaging lots of guys I have varying levels of interest in. There’s nothing like the deep panic of being alone forever to launch a million dead-end conversations with guys who stir a rousing “meh” out of me. It’s not that I have no interest in actually dating them–it’s just that it’s hard to get excited about someone new when all I can think about is the someone old.

But who really likes being sad? It’s so easy to get that little high of seeing someone you could potentially like, suddenly flush with possibilities! “Maybe this will be the guy where I decide I “just want to have fun.” Or, more likely, “This guy looks like he won’t just up and ignore me after three months….it’s in the eyes!” So I halfheartedly match, scroll, and jot out a hello and a “cool photos” message and see what happens. Wee, dating is so much fun. Rah, rah, love.

But in this digital frenzy, I sometimes forget there are human emotions involved–both mine and my match! Why am I sending messages to people just for the sole purpose of feeling like I’m doing something? It’s not fair to anyone to go in with that attitude from the very start–there’s enough obstacles in the way already! So maybe it’s time to step away from the apps and just ride it out. Plus, if I’m jonesin’ for a scrollin’, there’s always the Twitter/Instagram/Facebook footprints of former flames to secretly monitor. Emotions are real. Dating sucks.

What’s My Age: 26, when I hung a poster that said “Let Yourself Rest” over my desk and have never taken that advice once. 

 

Today.

This morning, I woke up, reached for my phone, and then immediately called my sister. The first thing she said to me was, I haven’t felt this scared and hopeless since after 9/11. We were 13 and 11 at the time, and as for most people, that event signaled a tectonic shift in the way we saw the world.

The immediate outcome from that event was, in my understanding, that people came together. For a short time, there was kindness, and American flags everywhere, and flowers piled on the side of the road and church services and holding hands and promises that this would change things. We’d unite.

But instead, we have ripped each other apart, torn each other down, pushed each other away, become more closed-minded and closed off. Instead of holding each other’s hands, we are swiping them away, terrified that those hands might take something from us. So what I see today is not just hate and fear, but a level of selfishness and self-servedness that will only cement itself further as we find ourselves not just divided but completely walled off and terrified of each other.

All over social media, I see people looking for the bright light. I see people saying, “Now is the time, now we can fight, now we can come together.” And I wish that is how I felt. I wish I could say that I truly believe that people are good and well-intentioned. But right now, I’m having a hard time feeling that way. Right now, I feel like it’s too late for that.

I would like to be proven wrong. I would like to not feel so bleak. I would like to not have to talk to my sister and compare a presidential election to 9/11. I would like to not have to worry about my rights, my body, my job prospects, my ability to be an independent woman in 2016. I would like to not feel this sense of dread and foreboding. And maybe that will come someday. Maybe there will be hope and joining of hands and new promises made. But not today.

 

Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop

154-01It’s been a crazy month—a lot of changes in the air! So to ease everyone back in, I’m breaking out an old favorite—snooping in on millennials’ conversations! (I’ll get to that other stuff eventually…) This batch brings us multiple couple fights, bad-boyfriend justifications, and one struggling mean girl!

  • “If you choose to be like that, that’s totally fine, but I’m going to have feelings about it.”
  • “You’re the one sitting here smirking at me! You’re offended. You take it as “an offense” (definite air-quotes happening here) that I said that before I even knew about it! You’re being so obnoxious.” 
  • “You know, he’s really unapologetic about the things he does, so if he did do it, he would just tell me. Like he wouldn’t say he didn’t do it, but he wouldn’t pass it off on someone else, you know?”
  • “I really need you to help me be nice to her.”

Sometimes being nice is hard. I feel ya girlfriend.

What’s My Age: Most of them, asking some version of that last request. 

Boo! …(Another) Ghost

157-01Back by popular demand, (or the unfortunate popularity of this particular method that guys seem to feel is an acceptable way to break up with someone….) we have another installment of “Ghost Stories: I’m Afraid of Ghosts and Dating is Horrible: Part 2 of Infinity.” I figured I would just go straight to the most egregious scenario I’ve found myself in, where a guy I had been seeing “casually” (aka, WHAT THE EFF IS THIS RELATIONSHIP…I mean, we’re cool, we’re cool…) for 6 MONTHS suddenly stopped communicating with me, after we met for a lively game of tennis and a post-match fro-yo. (Which I paid for, as evidenced by the credit card charge a month later that sent me back into an angsty emotional mood spiral, which required more fro-yo.) Let’s meet….Casper #2!

Whew, what a match! Casper #2 thought, hanging up his tennis racket and wiping the sweat from his brow. Who needs to remember the score when Alyssa and I are so easily matched–as tennis partners, and as dating partners. What a six months it’s been! Nothing is confusing about this scenario at all, and the fact that we’re both so casual and cool and refuse to identify any feelings we may be having about anything is just a really great, healthy way to carry on relationships. Thumbs up for us and our adult choices.

Man, that frozen yogurt was really good, and how awesome for Alyssa to pay because it’s 2016 and this is an equal dating situation. Although I do sort of regret making a big deal about that by asking her five times if she was totally sure she wanted to pay, and making it sound like a really big deal and the tenant from which I’m judging the future of this relationship. It’s froyo, let’s be chill about it! (Puns, yea!) Blame it on my post-workout endorphins!

But actually, one other small detail I may have neglected to mention is that eating frozen yogurt after I play tennis, and only in this very specific scenario, makes me completely melt into a puddle and disappear forever. It’s like Wizard of Oz, but with ice cream. So I guess this is the end of this relationship, and since the melting process is already starting, there’s just no time to text her and explain. She’ll understand. She’s been really casual about the whole thing. Whoops, there go my legs!

The End.

What’s My Age: 3, when I first realized I was not a “casual person” and have been living that charade for the rest of my days.