Tag Archives: single

It’s Not Me; It’s You

I’ve had this idea in my head for the last few years that if I could just find a nice guy and have a really great date, that everything after that would come naturally and just fall into place. That idea was incorrect.

In any relationship, there’s a time where you have to figure out if you want to move from casual dating into something more serious or if you should call it quits. When I was younger, this transition was pretty easy – mostly because I completely skipped the first step. In middle school and even high school, “Will you go out with me?” really meant “Will you be my girlfriend?” There were still some awkward dates (especially when your date’s mom has to drive you around), but it was ok, because those dates were safely in the framework of a relationship, and instead of worrying about your “status” you could just focus on getting to know each other. In college, I had a lot of weird dates, but as soon as I found someone I really liked, it generally went something like “I like you. You like me. Let’s stay together for the next 3-5 years. Okay. Cool.”

Dating in my 30s has been a completely different ball game. At first, my main problem was just trying to find an interesting guy to have dinner or a drink with. I met a good number of creeps, and I kept thinking, “I just need one good date! Just one!” Then I had a great date, and another great date, and then a not-so-good date, and then he disappeared. Unfortunately, this pattern has more or less been repeating itself for the last couple years over and over again.  I meet a great guy, we have a great time, they seem really into me, and then for reasons that are never entirely clear, they (usually suddenly) change their minds. Because I’m human, I’ve been taking this personally. Am I not pretty enough? Did I always have food in my teeth? Did he get back together with his ex because she’s better than me? Do I laugh too much? Am I too laid back? Did I talk too much? Did I not talk enough? You get the idea. Obviously, this is not a great mind set to be in. Nobody wants to be constantly second guessing themselves, and it’s certainly not attractive. I’d go back through our dates, and I wouldn’t be able to think of one thing I did that would make them suddenly change their minds. I kept saying to my friends, “They liked me 3 weeks ago! I’m the same person I was then! What did I do?”

It’s taken me a long time, but I finally realized the answer: Nothing. I didn’t do anything wrong.

I have some working theories as to why this is happening so much more in my 30s – one of them being that the stakes are much higher now. Once you make that transition from a few dates here and there to dating exclusively, shit gets real. A lot of people in their 30s are ready for marriage and/or kids or at least a long-term relationship, and that’s scary. What if it doesn’t work out? It’s a lot easier to back out after 3 weeks then after 3 months or 3 years. Sure, relationships are scary, but I’d rather spend the time to get to know someone I really like and THEN decide if we think it will work long term than not even give that person a chance out of fear.

But, that’s just me speculating. What I do know is that I don’t know what they’re thinking. I don’t know their past relationships or what’s currently going on in their life or any of the million other things happening that have absolutely nothing to do with me. It’s disheartening when something with promise fizzles. It’s especially frustrating when you think you’ve been misunderstood, judged unfairly, or not given the chance to open up. It sucks, but 9 times out of 10, the circumstances are beyond your control. I’ve spent a lot of time beating myself up over things I have no control over, and it’s oddly liberating to finally accept that sometimes there is just nothing I can do.

At the beginning of this year, I was feeling pretty low. I was texting with my mom and I mentioned that I was really sad, but I was sure I would eventually be fine. My mother, in all her loving wisdom wrote, “You are right. You’ll be fine. You won’t feel fine all the time, but you will be fine because you’re not in control of other people’s reactions, and you have no way of knowing exactly why they act as they do. It probably has nothing to do with you most of the time. That doesn’t take away the sadness and frustration, I know. But the plan is for good, not evil, to give you a future and a hope.”

It’s been hard over the last few months/weeks/days to remember this, because it IS sad and frustrating, but ultimately, her words have been the best advice in the world. I don’t know why people act the way they do. I can beat myself up over it, feel slighted, grow bitter, or I can keep trying to be the best version of myself and be confident that the plan is for good, not evil, and I have a future and a hope.

 

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Time Travel and Cherry Lemon Cheesecake Galette

As much as I enjoy a good night out, it’s not uncommon for me to spend a Friday night at home by myself – usually by choice. I enjoy a good solo Netflix and wine night, and I’m often so tired from my week that I wouldn’t make it out very late anyway.  On one of these nights last winter, I found myself at home alone again, and was taking full advantage. I had changed into my pajamas at 6 p.m., ordered a pizza, and cracked open a bottle of wine. My face was covered in some sort of rejuvenating mud mask to try to combat my most recent breakout, and although I was keeping myself busy by binge watching The Good Wife and painting my nails, I still found myself glancing at my phone every couple of minutes just to see if the guy I was sort-of-I-think-but-I-don’t-really-know-for-sure dating had miraculously texted me to tell me how perfect I was and why in the world was I spending Friday night alone instead of with him? Oddly enough, I never got that text.

Somewhere around the third fifth glass of wine and second fourth piece of pizza, it occurred to me that if time travel were possible and the 16-year-old version of myself from 1999 was all of a sudden transported into this exact moment, she’d be… appalled. I mean, sure, there would be a couple of minutes of exclaiming about how cool the future is and staring in disbelief at my phone, but once she calmed down and fully processed the sad situation in front of her, I can only imagine how extremely disappointed she would be to see that when it comes to the important stuff, absolutely NOTHING had changed in the last 16 years. She’d see that the bad skin never went away (even though I was told repeatedly that it would as soon as I turned 18). She’d stare in dismay at my pajamas and the  pizza box and wine bottle (and then take a swig from it of course), and then, she would see me staring longingly at my phone and (because she’s me) she’d know that I was waiting to hear from a boy. And at that realization, I can’t help but think that she would burst into tears because she would know that after 16 years of relationships and dating, it’s still the same old bullshit.

Since that night I’ve been using this as a kind of test for everything I do. When I get dressed for a date, I think “Would 16-year-old Ellen be impressed or sad with my outfit and more importantly, with my date?” As I leave work every night I think, “What would 16-year-old Ellen think about my job? Would she think it was cool or wonder why the hell I haven’t moved on yet?”  Here is what I’ve decided she thinks:

On my wardrobe: Love it! The jean size has gone up a lot more than I would have thought (seriously, lay off the pizza), and I would strongly suggest investing in a few more flannels, but who cares – look at all these clothes! And shoes! We wear dresses now! We’re so grown up and adult and fab.

On my apartment: Holy shit, we finally got our own place. There’s a couch! And a bed! Do you have boys over?! This is so cool – there’s even a balcony. Wait, why is the ceiling falling down? How come nothing in here works? Is this seriously all we can afford? What kind of job do you even have?!

On my job: Weren’t we supposed to write a book by now? Or be in the Olympics? At the very least you could have tried out for American Gladiators.

On living in Cleveland: What’s Cleveland?

On my diminished metabolism and other signs of aging: Seriously? This is what happens when you get old? Gross.

On my still being single: First of all, online dating is freaking awesome. This is a million times better than an AOL chat room! And you can chat from your phone?! What is this trickery?! I can’t believe how many guys we’ve been on dates with! And made out with! We clean up kind of nice, huh? But seriously what happened? What happened to Justin? Weren’t we in love? Didn’t we meet anyone in college? How are you STILL dating after 16 years?!

On my Cherry Lemon Cheesecake Galette:  We bake now?! Can I get the recipe?

No matter what 16 year-old-me might think about my eating habits or dating life, one thing I am 100% confident about is that she would be extremely impressed with my baking skills, and especially with this ridiculously awesome pie-cheesecake-danish thing. So, per her request, here’s the recipe.

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Cherry Lemon Cheesecake Galette
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

Pastry
1 1/4 c. flour
1/4 tsp. fine sea salt
1 1/2 tsp. sugar
8 Tbsp. very cold butter (unsalted), cut into pieces
1/4 c.  plain Greek yogurt
3 to 4 Tbsp. ice water

Filling
1 c. fresh cherries, pitted and roughly chopped
1/2 c. sugar, divided
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. cornstarch
1 8 oz package cream cheese, softened
1 large egg plus 1 large egg white (save the yolk)
1 tsp. lemon zest
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
Pinch of salt

Finishing Touches
1 egg yolk beaten
1/2 tsp. water
1-2 tsp. regular, turbinado or coarse sugar for sprinkling
1-2 Tbsp sliced almonds

For the pastry: Whisk together flour, sugar and salt in a medium-large bowl. Drop in the butter pieces and then use a pastry blender, two forks or your hands (I always use my hands) to work it into the flour. Work the butter into the flour mixture until it resembles coarse meal. Spoon the yogurt over the mixture and continue to use your hands to combine. Add the cold water 1 Tbsp. at a time, only adding more if the mixture seems too dry. It will start to form large clumps which you can then form into a ball. Transfer the dough onto a piece of plastic wrap or parchment paper. Wrap it up and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

For the filling: Combine the cherries, 1 Tbsp of sugar, lemon juice and cornstarch in a small bowl. Stir together and set aside.

In a medium-sized bowl, use a hand or stand mixer to beat the cream cheese, egg, and egg white until light and fluffy. Beat in the 7 Tbsp remaining sugar, lemon zest, vanilla and a pinch of salt.

Putting it all together: Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Coat a 9-inch pie pan 9 (you can also use a cake pan or tart pan) with baking spray and set it on a baking sheet.

On a floured surface, roll the chilled dough into a large circle. Drape the dough into the prepared pan, and don’t worry about it hanging over the edges (that’s what we want.) Pour in the cream cheese mixture and then spoon in the cherry mixture and swirl it around. Gently lift the dough that’s hanging over the edge and pinch it into creases. Lay the creases down over the filling.

Lastly, combine the egg yolk and water in a small bowl and use a pastry brush to coat the crust. Sprinkle crust with the sugar, and sprinkle all of it with sliced almonds.

Bake for 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool in pan on a wire rack for 20 minutes.  Then move it to the fridge and let chill until fully cold.

Serves 8

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2015: My Noble Search for True Love

I’ve recently been reading Mindy Kaling’s book, Why Not Me?, and I’ve realized that Mindy and I have a lot in common. Well, except for the part where she’s a successful comedy writer living in LA with beautiful skin who gets to regularly make out with Chris Messina. But, when it comes to men, we’re looking for the same thing: “I just want a boyfriend who is sweet and trustworthy. That’s it. And no neck tattoos.”

It seems like a pretty simple and reasonable request, but my search for this sweet and trustworthy boyfriend has been a pretty tumultuous one. The best and worst thing about dating is the roller coaster of emotions that come with it. There’s the nervous excitement before the first date; the constant checking of your phone to see if he’s texted yet; the minor heart attack after hitting “send” on an ill-advised text; the jubilation after a date finally goes well; and then the constant state of nervousness during the first few dates wondering if this is really turning into something or if you are just being punk’d. And, of course there’s the crushing disappointment when he doesn’t call, or when he’s nothing like you expect, or it just falls apart for no real reason.

In looking back over my year, what I mostly remember is all the small ups and downs of my dating life, and how exhausted I am. Since I don’t have any particularly awesome major milestones to look back on, I’ve decided that instead, I will recap my year of dates. Get ready for a bumpy ride:

2015

January: The year started out great. Ohio Against the World. My Buckeyes won the National Championship, and I watched all of the playoff games with my boyfriend. I was finally in a real relationship and very optimistic about the future.

February: Things are good. My boyfriend and I have really cute Valentine’s day plans, and although they don’t quite go as expected, I’m still optimistic.

March: I get dumped. In a very cruel and hurtful way. I realize my “relationship” was a giant joke. I don’t really remember much else about this month.

April: Newly single and sad, I hang out with my friends as much as possible.  At the end of the month, I invite myself along to a guy’s night at a video game bar, and I meet a guy! He’s very drunk and I’m pretty sure he won’t remember meeting me, but it’s ok because I’m back in the game!

May: Guy’s Night Guy remembers me! We go on a date, and although I cry on the way there thinking about how much I hate dating, once I’m actually on the date, I realize that Guy’s Night Guy is sweet and funny and immediately puts me at ease. We continue to date for the rest of the month.

June: June starts off pretty great. I’m still casually seeing Guy’s Night Guy (GNG), I go on vacation to Mexico, and life is looking pretty good compared to a few months ago.

July: Minor set back. GNG tells me he’s not sure he wants a relationship and goes across the country for a month on vacation. After he leaves, I join Tinder. My life is changed forever. “Playing Tinder” takes up a lot of my time, and I even get most of my friends to play it for me. I talk to a few guys (including a psycho who only wants to meet me if I agree to come to his house), but one in particular seems very promising. He’s a vegetarian skateboarder who thinks I’m adorable. We have a pretty magical first date, and the next few dates are just as good. We plan a fun weekend together, and then…. he never shows up. I don’t hear from him again. I vow never to date a vegetarian.

August: GNG is back! Woo! Things are great! I also meet a very tall, large man I refer to as the “Viking.” The Viking is hilarious, and we have three amazing dates full of lots of beer, hot dogs, tots and trivia. Then… I don’t hear from him again.

September: GNG and I are still hanging out. Since I am an excellent communicator, I have an awkward, unclear conversation with him about the status of our relationship, which I grossly misunderstand.

October: A few significant things happen in October. First, I think that GNG and I are exclusively dating until my friend sees him on Tinder (which I no longer think is fun). This leads to another totally awkward conversation where I realize that while I thought we were a couple, he did not. We then (and I really don’t know how) come to the conclusion that we should keep dating but also “explore other options.” So, I explore other options. I call the cute boy I  met a couple weeks earlier, we have a great first date, he tells me he had a great time, and then… I never hear from him again. I then go on a date with a guy who offers to clean my apartment naked. He never hears from me again. I turn 33. I go on a date with a 26 year old who “vapes” and tells me lots of weird, racist stories. He never hears from me again.

November: November starts off with another first date. This first date lasts past midnight on a weekday, and we continue to date throughout the whole month, bonding over comic book shows and emo music. I was feeling optimistic once again. (Also during this time, GNG slowly stops talking to me completely.)

December: Emo guy stops talking to me. I do eventually get an explanation that is mostly him telling me how he’s WAY not over his ex. I pull my hair out. Right before Christmas, I go on a date with a guy who sounds pretty perfect on paper. However, in real life, he is a hyperactive crazy person who is in love with his cousin. As a last-ditch effort, I agree to meet a guy for an afternoon drink on New Year’s Eve. He is 5’2″ and never stops talking. I left around 8 to spend New Year’s Eve with my friends – where I probably should have been all along.

The End

 

 

 

 

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“Never” – The Internet Explains my Love Life

For the last 15 years and 11 months, I have been consistently confused when it comes to dating. Am I doing it wrong? Am I doing it right and everyone else is doing it wrong? How do I play hard to get if I actually want to be got? Why do guys only like crazy girls? Am I actually one of those crazy girls? Is there a hidden meaning when he texts me “Hey”? Does he really mean “You’re so pretty, let’s hang out”?

The good news is that I finally have a reliable source to go to for answers: internet quizzes.  Some geniuses out there have figured out who my boyfriend was in a past life just by asking me what my favorite color is and which flower I think is the prettiest. It has to be true. Algorithms and stuff. SCIENCE.

Last winter when I was having a particularly rough time in the dating scene, I may have typed “Why am I still single?” into Google and found this gem of a quiz. According to wewomen.com… NOBODY KNOWS why I’m still single. Apparently the reasons behind my status as an unmarried woman are a giant mystery to everyone!  I was hoping for a pep talk or some solid bit of advice, but instead I got “We’re a bit baffled as well! It certainly seems that you’ve got everything going for you.”   Right?! But, as we all know, the internet doesn’t lie. So, I went with it, and I took a few more quizzes. Obviously.

I learned:

My real soulmate is pizza (Which carb is your soulmate?)
The sexiest thing about me is my sense of adventure
The first thing guys notice about me is how smart and intimidating I am (and apparently my luscious booty)

I’ve also learned that my true calling is to be a chef (or a philosopher, or an artist – there seems to be some disagreement among experts),  I should live in Sao Paulo, I’m an excellent sleeper, I’m exactly like Snow White, and I see the color blue extremely well, but red not so much.

After results like those, how could I doubt the wisdom of the internet and its quizzes? The next logical question to ask the internet quiz algorithms (this post is all about logic) was the oh so important question of “When Will I Get Married?” The first time I took the quiz, I made the mistake of going too specific and taking the At What Age Will You Get Married? version. I dutifully answered the questions (something like -favorite color, green; favorite season, fall; favorite thing to do on a Friday night, Netflix)

48.

The freaking internet told me I would get married when I’m 48. That’s 4 times 10 plus 8.

Everyone is allowed to make a mistake at some point, even the interwebs. So, I gave the “geniuses” who somehow calculated those 48 long years a break and wrote it off as an anomaly. I decided that getting an exact age might be a little too much to ask, so I asked the more general question of just “When I am going to get Married?” Once again, I answered their questions as honestly as possible, and waited for the internet to tell me my destiny.

Ready?

Never.

When am I going to get married? Never.

Apparently I am too bad ass to get married. But don’t bad ass, adventurous, big bootied chefs who look like Snow White deserve to get married too?

I’m blaming it on the algorithms.

 


 

I’m currently…

  • Reading: Devil in the White City by Erik Larson
    I just started this, so jury is still out, but history plus crime makes for a pretty unbeatable combination
  • Listening to: Nathaniel Rateliff and The Night Sweats
    I’ve listened to SOB about 25 times just today, but I could listen to his voice singing pretty much anything
  • Eating: Homemade spicy black bean chili (and two pieces of cake)
  • Wondering: How many times my dog has rolled her eyes at me today and  if dogs can roll their eyes

 

 

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Cynicism, Sarcasm, Desperation and Blueberry Cookies

Full disclosure: I am writing this from my bed while drinking a beer.

I realize I have not been the most consistent blogger.  I’m not sure if it’s laziness or writer’s block or a combination of both. Or, maybe it was that I had no recipes to share as I’ve been baking the same chocolate chip cookies over and over again.

Well, I’m back. The laziness problem has been solved by doing this from my bed, the writers block cured with some alcohol, and now that summer is finally here I’ve been inspired to make something other than chocolate chip cookies.

Speaking of summer… it’s finally here! After 8 months of Cleveland winter, it’s finally warm (ish) out! This means it’s time for flip flops, margaritas, evenings on my balcony, long walks to the beach, and the hope that comes with the beginning of summer that my life will turn into a romantic comedy and I will find love. Hope springs eternal (well, let’s be honest – hope curls up and dies in the winter, but right now I remain optimistic.)

So, this past weekend, I joined two other vaguely optimistic single girl friends, sundressed up, and we hit the town.

We hit our first roadblock pretty quickly when we realized we had no idea where to go. We knew where all the 21 year-old sequined tube top wearing girls would be, but there’s no way we could begin to compete with that at 31.  So we set off to find where the chubby, funny, slightly desperate older guys hang out.

Although we had a lot of fun, ladies nights aren’t exactly what they once were back in our 20s. Youthful exuberance has been replaced with a lethal mixture of cynicism, sarcasm, and desperation.

The night started out hopeful with this gem from one of my friends:

“Sorry I’m late, I had to clean up the empty wine bottles and underwear lying around my apartment just in case I fall in love tonight and he ends up at my place.”

Then, it turned a little bitter with this quote from the same friend, “I swear, if another one of my friends in their 20s gets engaged, I’m blowing up a Jared’s.”

There was a middle period where things looked hopeful. We had a fun guy and his friends join us for dinner, there was witty banter, flirting, and the exchanging of numbers. At the second bar, I beat a guy in darts and got his number (win, win!). But by the end of the night, we somehow found ourselves at our neighborhood bar, with our married friends, playing pinball. It actually was a nice ending to a fun night, and I called it quits at about midnight.

Then, around 3am, I got a text from my friend that said: “I took him home, but told him we weren’t hooking up. He fell asleep on my couch, and is now puking in my bathroom. Do I know how to pick them or what?!”

Well. At least she didn’t have any empty wine bottles or underwear lying around.

Also perfect for summer?

These Blueberry Lemon cookies with Almonds and White Chocolate

(Loosely adapted from The Spiced Life)

Blueberry Lemon cookies with Almonds and White Chocolate

Ingredients:

1 1/4 cups All-Purpose flour
1 1/4 cups cake flour
1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. baking soda
1/2 t. baking powder
zest of 1 lemon
1/2 c. granulated sugar
1/2 c. brown sugar
1 c. unsalted butter
1 egg
1 t. vanilla
the juice of 1/2 a lemon
1/2 c. fresh blueberries
1/2 c. dried blueberries
1/4 c. white chocolate
1/4 c. chopped almonds

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a medium bowl, whisk together both flours, baking soda and powder, and salt. Set aside.

Place your butter in a large mixing bowl and add half of the zest. Mix on medium speed for about 3 minutes until light and creamy. Take the remaining zest and rub it into the granulated sugar. Add the sugar/zest mixture to your butter mixture and mix for another minute. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the brown sugar. Beat another minute and scrape down the sides again. Add the egg, vanilla and lemon juice and beat another minute.

Add the flour mixture all at once, and stir at the lowest speed possible until just barely combined. Stir in both kinds of blueberries, the white chocolate and almonds until combined.

Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper and scoop the dough in tablespoon sized balls.  Bake for 10-14 minutes. The cookies should barely be browned on the outside (golden really) and still soft in the center. Remove from the oven and let cool on the baking sheet 3-5 minutes. Remove to a wire rack and let cool completely.

 

 

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Single in my 30s: The Art of Being Picky

Being an unmarried woman in my 30s, I spend a lot of time (way more than I should) trying to figure out why I’m still single. I even took a “Why Are You Still Single” internet quiz (entirely unhelpful as the answer I got was “We don’t know either! You seem great!”) Thanks for nothing, Internet.  In my 20s, being single was something to be proud of. I had plenty of time; I could play the field, enjoy being young — it seemed much more like a choice back then. As the years went by, it became more alarming. All of a sudden, I felt like I was running out of time, and I started wondering what I was doing wrong.  I know I’m not the only one who’s found themselves in this position, and everyone seems to have an opinion on why single people are still single.

A few things I’ve heard over the years:

You need to put yourself out there more.
You’re too intimidating.
You should stop running away from men when they approach you.
You should move to [insert city here]
You need to get involved in more things. 

But I think the most common critique single people get is the classic, “You’re too picky.”

I’m sure there are some people out there who are legitimately too picky;  I know there are ridiculous people who refuse to even talk to someone if they don’t look a certain way or drive a certain car, and those people deserve to be called out.  But I think most of us just have a reasonable set of standards for the people we date. The problem is that as we get older, the dating pool decreases significantly in size, and we start to wonder if our “standards” are hindering us from finding the right person. Maybe if we just relaxed a little, we’d find someone great that we’ve been overlooking.

I’ve wondered this a lot – am I being unreasonable? Am I really too picky?

I don’t think I am. I’ve been set up on so many dates that ended up being a complete waste of time for both of us because we had absolutely nothing in common except that we happened to be the only two single people our well-meaning married friends could think of.  Just because we’re in the same age range and haven’t found a spouse yet doesn’t mean we’re meant for each other, and it really isn’t even enough of a reason to go on a date. It’s so easy to fall into this trap of “I should give everyone a chance just in case.” Sure, widen your net a little — maybe you don’t really need a strict 6 foot height requirement, but I think it’s important to know what it is you won’t compromise on and stick to that.

When I was in middle school, I broke up with my very first boyfriend.   I remember writing in my letter (this is back when people wrote letters – I’m that old) that we needed to break up because “we couldn’t base a relationship on soccer.” Of course, at 13, I had no idea what a “relationship” was — my experience didn’t extend beyond holding hands at summer camp and few a angsty letters.  I probably put a little too much thought into the whole thing, but the point is that I knew if we could only find one thing to talk about (soccer), that was going to get old pretty quickly.  I wanted more, and I still do.

It can be a hard balance – trying to figure out if you’re being overly choosy or just sticking to your standards. My brother asked me the other day why I wasn’t seeing a particular guy anymore and I answered, “Because he insisted on putting steak sauce on everything.” While I want to think this is a valid reason for a break up, I realize that on its own it is a ridiculous reason. Of course I didn’t really end it over steak sauce, but that was just one of a lot of indicators that there wasn’t anything solid there, and it wasn’t going to go anywhere.

I realize that no matter who I end up with, there will be things they do that drive me crazy.  But I’m going to keep holding out for the best, and if I do find it — someone who I love, who I respect and admire, it’ll be worth it.  And for the record, if they insist on putting steak sauce on everything – you bet your ass we’re going to have a serious discussion about it, but I will be willing to overlook it for the right person.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Snowy Nights and Red Wine

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I’m finally starting to get in the holiday spirit.  I think it’s all the snow.

Normally, I’m not the biggest fan of snow or of the winter in general. Winter means cold. It means gloomy days with no sun. It means lonely, cold nights. It mean yet another Christmas with no significant other. Also, as far as snow goes, I’m a city girl – snow is not pretty in the city. It is dirty. It gets in the way. It turns into this weird, grey sludge that you can’t even call snow.

However, tonight I gave snow a pass. It’s early enough in the winter that there are no big piles of grey sludge. I have new tires on my car, so the 3 mile drive home wasn’t scary. As I was driving down a street lined with trees and large, old houses covered in twinkle lights with the snow falling all around me, I realized that I wasn’t depressed. I wasn’t gloomy or angry that it was cold and snowing, I was happy.

Of course, my happiness was probably more about having the next two days off work than the pretty snow, but still.

I even bundled up when I got home and took the dog for a log walk through the falling snow. Stella always loves the snow – even when it is dirty. Watching her running around in the snow like a little kid just made me even happier.

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But what made me happiest is the red wine, pizza, and the second season of Scandal waiting for me when I got back in from the cold. As I was brushing off my bright yellow snow boots, I even thought for a second that perhaps – if I had to stay single for the rest of my life – it might not be so bad.

Don’t worry, it was just for a second. Soon enough things will be back to normal and I’ll be crying during Dick’s Sporting Good’s commercials, eating fried chicken, not changing out of my pajamas and wondering why in the world no one wants me.

But tonight, I am enjoying the snow falling outside my window (especially since I don’t have to drive in it to work tomorrow), drinking a glass of wine, only eating two pieces of pizza, and trying to figure out how the villain from Ghost somehow turned into a handsome president.

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Dating: I think I’m doing it wrong

You know how sometimes, in the movies, the protagonist is divorced or widowed and decides to start dating again and they realize they don’t know what they’re doing? They say something cute like, “The last person I dated was my wife, and I was 18. I don’t know what I’m doing any more! The game has changed! How am I supposed to do this?”

I feel like that. I have no idea what I’m doing.  But unlike our movie protagonists, I have no excuse. I never left the game. I’ve been here all along. Yet I still feel like it’s somehow left me behind. It’s changed, and I can’t keep up.

A few weeks ago, I was hanging out with a group of friends (most of them married), and naturally, I started talking to the only other single person there (a guy). In the morning, I got a text from one of my friends that said, “So, how did it go?!?!” Confused, I wrote back, “Good. I went to sleep.” When I talked to my friend later, she questioned me more. She couldn’t believe nothing had happened with us and asked if we had at least exchanged numbers. While I had enjoyed talking to him, the fact that he might be interested in something more than just pleasant conversation hadn’t really occurred to me. I told my friend that I had just said goodnight and that was it. She shook her head and said, “Ellen, he could have been trying to kiss you – literally leaning down, trying to kiss you — and you wouldn’t know.”

She’s basically right.  I’m oblivious.

In college, I was at a small party where I didn’t know very many people. There was a group playing cards, and an older guy — who I knew, but not very well — asked me if I wanted to join in the game. I was thankful for the friendly gesture, but told him I didn’t know how to play.  He kindly offered to have me sit with him, and said he’d help me learn how. It was a card game, so it wasn’t too complicated, and I caught on pretty quickly.  Although I knew what I was doing after a few minutes, the guy stuck around – continuing to give me tips, offer advice, and make conversation.  Unfortunately for this guy, I happen to be super competitive.  I didn’t agree with some of his “tips,” and I wasn’t about to let him ruin my chances of winning. So, I politely told him that I understood the game and that I could take it from here. Then I promptly ignored him until he left the table and went into the other room.  I had no idea that he was actually interested in me, and was just trying to get to know me better until days later when a friend told me.

I won the game. The guy went in the other room and struck up a conversation with a girl who didn’t ignore him, and who he later ended up marrying.

oops.

Although I often have no idea what’s going on, this can sometimes work to my advantage. For instance, if I don’t know someone is interested, then chances are I wont make (as big a) fool out of myself. I promise that I’m not normally ridiculously socially awkward, but stick me on a date, and it’s like I forget how to make sentences.  A couple of weeks ago, a guy asked me the totally normal question of “What do you like to do for fun?”  There are many normal ways I could have answered this question, but instead I panicked. So, instead of something like “reading” or “baking” or “watching movies” I said, “I guess I like to drink.”

Seriously. I said that. Hi, I’m Ellen. I’m a lush.

The problem is that even when I think I get it right, I still end up missing something. A few weeks ago, I met a guy who I thought I was interesting, funny, and good-looking. We talked most of the night, I don’t think I said anything too awkward, and when the night ended I was feeling very good about the whole thing. He pulled out his phone, presumably to get my phone number, and then he asked me… wait for it… to be Facebook friends. I’m not joking. Is that even a thing? Am I that out of touch? When did that become ok? No, I don’t want to be your Facebook friend. I want to be your real life friend. I don’t want to read about what music and movies you like, I want you to tell me what movies and music you like, preferably over dinner.

Needless to say, I never hung out with him again.

I’ve had (maybe more than) my fair share of bad dates, awkward conversations, missed opportunities and crossed signals, but I’ve also had some good, really fun dates, and met some pretty awesome people. So, even if I don’t know what I’m doing, I guess I’ll continue to at least pretend I have a clue and hope for the best.

Wow. Lots of feelings. Don’t worry, I’m baking them into Espresso Chocolate Chip Cookies, so keep a look out for the next post.

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I’m not married, but I made these: Chocolate Chunk Peanut Cookies

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I’ll be honest, I’ve been meaning to write this post for a couple of days, but I’ve been fighting off a cold, and perhaps more importantly, a bout of the winter blues. It’s cold here in Cleveland. Cold and snowy. Cold, snowy, and sad.

When I haven’t been working, I’ve spent most of my time in my pajamas on the couch, reading a good book, relaxing in a bubble bath, and eating large quantities of macaroni and cheese (not all at the same time).

On Monday, I dragged myself off the couch and over to my desk and managed about 30 minutes of productivity doing my taxes. I was actually feeling pretty good about this task — I usually wait until the last possible moment — and I had all my documents set out in front of me ready to be imputed into my handy tax software.

But then something unexpected happened. My tax program decided it wanted to get to know me. As I entered in all the normal personal information, it threw me for a loop by asking a series of questions about the past year. It tried to be cute about it.  It started with something like, “I’m sure you’ve had an eventful year, and we’d love to hear all about what transpired over the last 12 months.”

Really? Do you really?

Guess what the first question was? Ready?  Did you get married? I only had the option of checking “yes” or “no” but if it really wanted to get to know me, it would have let me respond with short answers. It would have gone something like this:

In 2012, did you get married?
In 2012 I did not get married. In fact, I also did not get married in 2011. Or the year before that. Or any year for that matter. Also, in case you were wondering, I did not get engaged. I did not celebrate Valentine’s Day, I did not receive any jewelery or flowers.  Although I didn’t get married, I did watch a lot of other people tie the knot – if that counts for anything. I was even in one. I’ve spent a lot of money on bachelorette parties, wedding presents, bridesmaid’s dresses, and silver shoes.  I’ve worried about going to these weddings alone, and I’ve worried about the arduous task of finding a date.  Speaking of dates, I went on a lot of them.  Most of them ridiculously, and sometimes hilariously bad. I’ve let some guys down, and I’ve been let down. I’ve met some great guys, and cut ties with some not so great ones.  And by the end of 2012, I remained… unmarried.

In 2012, did you buy a house?
Nope. I did not buy a house. I did not buy a car. I did not buy anything more significant than a nice pair of boots.  I lived for the duration of 2012 by myself in a third floor apartment. I carried approximately 12 40 oz bags of dog food up 3 flights of stairs by myself along with countless groceries. I fought an exploding sink on my birthday. I woke up one day to part of my ceiling in the bath tub. A homeless lady on my street tried to get into my car while I was in it.  A crazy guy on my street asked me if I was Pocahontas. The pilot light of my stove went out and I called every single man I knew trying to get it fixed before I died of the gas leak, and I changed a lot of light bulbs while standing on my tippy toes on a chair almost falling off every time.  So. At the end of 2012, I remained living alone in a very old apartment in a semi-sketchy neighborhood. I did not buy a house.

In 2012, did you give birth to any children?
I did not have any kids in 2012.  But, as it turns out, a number of my ex-boyfriends did. Awesome.

Maybe it is a good idea that they limited my answers to yes and no.

Luckily, I don’t need to be married, own a house, or have a baby to make these delicious cookies:

Chocolate Chunk Peanut Cookies

I love Peanuts, so I put a lot of them in these cookies. However, if you prefer some other kind of nut, I’m sure it would make a fine substitution.

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Ingredients:
1 c. All-Purpose Flour
1/2 c. Bread Flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 stick (1/2 c.) unsalted butter (room temperature)
1/4 c. chunky peanut butter
1/2 c. granulated sugar
1/4 c. brown sugar
1 large egg
1 t. vanilla
1/2 – 3/4 c. dark chocolate chunks (or chips)
1/2 c. ish salted peanuts

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Combine in a medium bowl the flours, baking soda, and salt. Whisk together and set aside.

2. In a large bowl, beat butter and sugars until light and creamy (I did this for about 3 minutes while I changed in to pajamas). Beat in egg and vanilla for another minute or so. Use a wooden spoon to mix in chocolate and nuts.

3. Drop dough by spoonfuls about 2 inches apart on parchment paper lined cookie sheet. Bake 10-12 minutes (11 worked well for me). Cool for a 3 minutes or so on the baking sheet and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

I was going to add sea salt to the top of these cookies, but I decided that the salt already on the peanuts was enough, but if you feel like a little extra – go for it!

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