Thursday, August 29, 2013

Matchmaking Target

Last week I told you that I'm currently experiencing the wing man/woman phase of being friends and family are all over trying to set me up. It's fine, I guess. There's that internal debate around is this too soon, but everyone does that, I suppose. I broke the seal a few weeks ago...remind me to tell you that story sometime. So I suppose now I'm dating? Like, that's a thing I do now? Who knows. It's all weird. 

A few years ago I found myself the target of a few matchmaking attempts. One led to a few fun dates and another asked if we could reschedule. I'm still waiting for him to get back to me with a good time. (Is 2 1/2 years too long to wait for a boy to call back? You guys think he's calling? He's probably been really busy, right?) It was after these and so many false starts that I set some guidelines. 

As you might have suspected, I'm pretty vocal about being single. It's my thing, I can't help it. But really, half the reason I tell everyone I'm single is to potentially facilitate matchmaking. When one of my cousins meets Ryan Gosling and he mentions that he hates eating dinner alone when he's in Michigan, that cousin is going to remember that I'm single. (No, that's not a scenario I've ever considered. Of course not. That's sad and weird. It's an example.) And I have noticed that my tactic works. 68% of the time it works every time. 

But guess what? A lot of single people? Are weirdos. They're single for a reason. (Present company included.) So that's where the guidelines come into play. Before you roll your eyes, thinking I'm about to be some high maintenance 97-item checklist princess, just read. 

Guidelines for Setting Bitter Amanda Up On a Date:
1. Everybody* gets one. 

That's it. Really. Everyone who has asked about setting me up has been informed that they get one chance. This ends up covering way more rules than mine. When people learn they only get one shot, they think carefully about their victims. No more potential dates with any man who happens to be straight, single, and kind of perhaps in my age range. My friends are taking it really seriously. Some of them won't even put things into motion yet, concerned that I'm not ready yet. (AM I EVER?) I'm far less concerned about spending an evening listening to someone talk about fantasy football and the ex he's still in love with. It's actually quite a relief. My friends are not playing around. We'll see what happens...

Oh--wait. There's one more thing that isn't on my list. Ryan Gosling. Ryan Gosling does not count as anyone's only chance--he's the free square on this bingo card. 

Just so we're all clear. 

*Stubborn siblings get more than one.** Apparently

**This exception was set in place after certain siblings, who shall remain anonymous, refused the guidelines.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Weekly Mr. Darcy Update

I spied on Mr. Darcy this weekend. I don't mean that I spotted him and then went along with my day. I mean that I heard him mowing the lawn, peeked through the curtains, and watched him cut the grass for a while, ducking my face back inside when he was heading in my direction. 

It was totally worth it, he is a good looking man. 

Spent some time with my neighbors (the ones I know, not the ones I stare at) trying to figure out plans to lure him outside. They had some good, solid ideas (hey, I might need to borrow a chainsaw sometime, right?). I'm not going to lie to you, though--my idea was the best. 

Except instead of money, I'm going to use freshly baked cookies. I'll sit on my porch holding the string and wait for him to wander outside and BAM--trapped. My plan is flawless.

Does anyone have a refrigerator box I can borrow? 

Thursday, August 22, 2013

The Six Conversations You Have After a Breakup

I'm single. I've been single for a while now, but now I'm finally single in a way that I can comfortably say out loud seriously. I was able to rant about being alone, joking around with my friends. I could say it to myself, quietly. But to honestly tell people? That took a while. 

As soon as I told my friends about my relationship, we went through the phases of Breakup Conversations.*** 

(Optional) Phase One: "WHAT??
This phase is the initial gut reaction you get from friends either when the breakup is a surprise or when you didn't talk about having problems. It's the ice breaker for all the phases that follow. 

Phase Two: "Oh, honey...
This is how friends generally react after the initial surprise of your status change. It's sympathetic, it's out of love, and it's polite. This phase is about making sure your newly single friend is alright. It's not about the ex or the breakup. This is frequently where "How are you holding up?" is heard. Your friends are trying to figure out how you're taking this change. Until they can feel you out, they don't know what you need. Do you want to eat your feelings with some chocolate or junk food? Do you need a stiff drink? Do you need to punch somebody? Or cry? Or any combination of those? The cool thing is that at this point your wish is basically their command. Seriously, they'll find you someone to punch. And they'll make sure you know how to throw a punch first, too. They've got this covered. (There aren't many perks to this, so enjoy what little you can.)

Phase Three: "What happened?"
Once your emotional well-being is sorted, your friends want to know what the hell went down. You can include more or less details depending on what your friends already knew and what you want to share. Give them something, though. They'll need something to analyze and dissect after you leave. 

Phase Four: "Well, that guy is a dick.
This might not follow immediately. The timing of Phase Four depends on how you're taking things, how honest your friends are, and how they felt about your relationship. His taste in music? Shit. His friends? Annoying. That time he made that comment about your career but we all thought he was using mental air quotes around the word career? Dick move. Now, if they really thought he was great, it won't have the same venom behind the words but trust me--you'll hear the words. If your friends feel that this breakup might reverse, then they might ease up on this phase. Nobody likes being the friend who goes off about a guy only to have him show up at the bar with you next week. 
This phase is about making you feel ok that you're single again. You didn't need that guy--he sucks. 

Phase Five: "You're so much better off.
This will follow directly after Phase Four. They pretty much go hand in hand. That guy is shitty, you're awesome, so there's no way you could have lasted. This is building you back up. When friends do this, they're getting their girl back in fighting condition. And that's because it's all leading to...

Phase Six: "You need to get back out there!
This phase also might be delayed. Your friends want to make sure you're back to 100% before they push it. Because this? This is your ticket to Set Up City, whether you want it or not. Sure, there might be nights out, new bars, parties...but that's all part of their plan to set you up. 

Personally, I'm in Phase Six. The set ups are starting. We'll see what happens...

***Admittedly, this is more what women go through. I have surprisingly little experience in dealing with men post-breakup. Which is weird, now that I think about it...what do you guys do?

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

On Avoiding a Punch to the Face.

If you've ever been a summer camp counselor, you know that your life at camp is full of very weird events. It becomes a strange, alternate universe version of your regular life. 

I spent this summer finding out who kids liked, removing splinters from feet, and helping kids ask each other to the dance. I put equal effort into orchestrating opportunities for makeouts as I put into breaking up makeouts. I danced the Wobble. I dressed up like a fool and did a little catwalk modeling. Camp life is really weird, ok? But it doesn't feel weird until you look back later. 

One of the best things is when the kids approach you and want help with pranks. This summer the boys approached me and one other adult and wanted our assistance. (And permission.) It became very elaborate. The prank had a code word. The boys became suspicious of the girls and I had to swear my prank allegiance to them--we developed another code that I was to use in the case of finding out the girls were planning a prank on them. Then I learned that the boys were really getting paranoid. They made a habit of placing a small table in front of their door when they went to bed--not enough to block the door and become a hazard, but enough to make noise as you pushed it away from the door, alerting the boys to an intruder. (It was actually quite brilliant.) Making the rounds one night when I was on duty, I opened their door to check on them--and before I knew it, I had eyes trained on me from multiple bunk beds. 

One boy appeared by my side in the dark. "AMANDA. We thought you were the girls. Seriously, are they pranking us? If a girl shows up by my bed to prank me...I don't care who it is, I'm punching them in the face."***

The other boys echoed his sentiments. "Punch them!" I heard murmured. They said it while laughing at each other, but there was an underlying tone of "yes we really will punch them" in their words. 

I did not want a teenage boy punching me in the face.

"Guys, can you put me on the no punch list?" I asked. "Since I'm on your side and everything? Also I'm an adult?" 

"Yeah, definitely," they all agreed. I was given a THIRD code word, to be used upon my entrance. (Seriously.) One night I cracked the door open to check on them and hesitated on the code word. A serious face appeared out of the darkness into the sliver of light from the hall and startled me.
"AMANDA, I was about to punch you. Sorry."
"Go back to bed." 
"Ok. Goodnight."

As far as actual pranks go, it was...well, it was a failure. Nothing went as planned and no backup plans were created and the girls woke up and they boys panicked but as they shuffled off to bed at 3am, they high fived me and thanked me for such a fun prank. 

As it turns out, no matter how old I get I will never understand teenage boys. 

***Boys, that's no way to get laid, for future reference.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Spying on Netherfield

Since Netherfield is in the suburbs, Mr. Darcy's living room windows are right next to my driveway. I was taking out the trash on Thursday night and noticed that he has nice curtains hanging in that room, and that the lights were on. A chance to peek inside! As I was very nearly pressing my face against the glass I noticed him lounging on his couch...facing the window. 

Thanks to my him watching TV and my quick reflexes (...ok, mostly the television) I dodged away before he could see me.** STILL didn't get a good view of him. Better luck next time, I suppose. 

Some observations: 1. Mr. Darcy has pretty good taste in furniture. What I saw, anyway. 2. He also has a coat rack! Hello, adulthood. Who are you trying to impress? (It's working.) 3. Mr. Darcy lays on the couch a little bit "paint me like one of your French girls," except clothed. 

Twin and I are determined to get a better view. Soon. Whatever it takes. 
Get ready, Netherfield: Bennet sisters are about to be creeping in your windows. 

EDIT: The above was written on Friday evening. On Saturday, there were huge new developments. (If you follow me on twitter or facebook, you perhaps caught wind of this. If you're not following me...well why aren't you?) Twin and I were moving things in the garage and our neighbors, Krush and Chi-Chi came over to help. I glanced over and saw that Mr. Darcy was grilling in his backyard. I quietly caw-cawed so everyone saw what I was seeing. (Yes, that is literally what I did. Don't ask.) Now, Krush and Chi-Chi have met Mr. Darcy before. As I tried not to stare at Mr. Darcy's back, Krush called over and said hello. After he greeted us, she asked if he'd met me before. Mr. Darcy jogged over to the fence to shake my hand. We had a little chat before he went to tend to his grill. Krush is the greatest. 

(Fun fact: they met Mr. Darcy while I was out of the country. Apparently afterwards they noted that he was attractive and that I'd appreciate that. Chi-Chi said, "Oh, this will be fun." TOO TRUE.)

You guys. It's the worst. Mr. Darcy IS handsome. He was friendly and charming. HOW CAN I LIVE NEXT DOOR TO A CHARMING AND HANDSOME MAN? Do you know how often I wear yoga pants? 
But he didn't do the aloof, brooding Darcy thing. Maybe he's really Mr. Bingley? After all, he is rumored to have some sort of alleged girlfriend. (No details on that situation yet. All sources report that she's lovely, though. Dammit.) I'm still largely uninformed about who is living there and perhaps his mysterious roommate is actually Mr. Darcy.

On top of all this, a new concern arises: I need to start using his real name when I'm off-blog speaking about this. What if I accidentally call him Mr. Darcy to his attractive face? 

Oh man. This WILL be fun... 

**I think. 

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Book Review...sort of.

A few days ago I posted a link on my twitter page for this website that...someone shared. (Sorry friends. Whoever it was, you have great taste.) It's called Forty Days of Dating--and you should absolutely go read it, once you're done here. 

Basically, two friends with terrible track records in the dating department decide to date each other for forty days, to see if they can sort their shit out. He's got commitment issues and dates around a lot. She falls in love and throws herself into relationships easily. And I can't stop reading. They actual experiment started in March, but the blog started in June. Each blog post chronicles one day in the experiment. The final blog post is late next week. 

Seriously, I love this blog. I want to tell you more--surprisingly, I have a lot of opinions on it--but I'm going to wait until it's over. 

So, lovely readers, challenge: go read. It won't take you long. Go check out Forty Days of Dating and keep an eye on this site for my thoughts. (Probably the week of August 26th? Let's leave some room for flexibility there.) Then we'll treat the comments section as a sort of book club discussion--everybody can grab a drink or some snacks (...because that's how book clubs work, right? I mean...that's what mine is all about.) and it'll be fun. I think. 

Or it will suck. Either way, I'm excited. Now go read! 

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Travel Tips: Paris

I was recently in Paris and yes, I do love sentences like that. I was there for summer camp and traveled with a handful of teenagers as the Adult in Charge. Fortunately we found ourselves there early with a few days to explore. Since I am a Mean Adult in Charge, I refused to let my kids sleep their jetlagged days away and instead walked them to exhaustion. (I regret nothing and would, in fact, do it again.) One day we started at the Arc de Triomphe and walked to Notre Dame. (Basically we walked for hours.) 

Unfortunately, this plan led us to an unexpected stop along the way. We stumbled upon the Pont des Arts. Whether by accident or design, I had completely omitted this from my mental list of things we ought to see. For those of you sitting there thinking how pretentious this post makes me sound, the Pont des Arts is a pedestrian bridge over the Seine. But it's not just a bridge. It's the lock bridge

Couples from all around the world come to this bridge. They write on or engrave a padlock with their names or other nonsense, lock the thing onto the bridge, and throw the key into the Seine. It's romantic or whatever. It's suppose to symbolize the unmoving nature of their love. Unless you have boltcutters. The Pont des Arts isn't the only place in Paris this can be seen--there's another bridge that has become a destination for locks as well, and I spotted one while climbing the Eiffel Tower. There are bridges like this popping up all over the world. 

You can imagine my joy at finding ourselves at the Pont des Arts, surrounded by couples making out, engagement photo shoots, and people looking for the perfect place to lock up their love. Realizing where we were, I sighed deeply. My kids asked me what the deal was, and I explained the history of the bridge. Being teenagers, several of them were enthralled by the idea. I said (out loud, apparently) that I wondered how many of those couples had broken up. Cue the horrified faces.Ah, they're so young, with so much to learn...

We wandered around for a bit, them looking for their own names. I found this awesome lock: 

I feel you, man. 

I also found this heart-warming sight: 
Yes, that is garbage shoved in among the locks. Isn't it beautiful?

I was finally able to pry my kids away from the madness and constant displays of public affection. I had to promise them ice cream. 

So hey, if you find yourself in Paris, avoid the Pont des Arts. There are plenty of bridges--just use a different one. 

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Wedding #3

Yesterday had a high level of suck potential. 

I spent the afternoon and evening at the wedding of one of my cousins--one I grew up with--and the awesome woman who married him. I actually do love them both and think they're a great couple. However, there was all the possibility of Terrible Wedding Things. Obnoxious, long toasts, bouquet toss, having a great many family members in one place asking about your job and relationship status. (Unemployed and single, thank you for asking.)  So I went into the day skeptical and hoping for the best, as with all weddings. 

Yesterday was kind of a backslide for me. Before I left for France, I was just starting to get myself back. I hate that my relationship ending brought out this terrible part of me, but it did. I'd been dealing with it and going to France did a lot for me. It was a wonderful and necessary experience. (Lots to blog about...stay tuned.) Not that it was the escape from home that I needed, but being at summer camp and talking to people who knew me when I was wholly myself and people who didn't know me at all but didn't see all the terrible parts that came out recently and leaving bullshit behind so I could run around outside and play pranks and hang out with cool kids...that was the part I needed. 

It's nice to be back. But yesterday brought out the ugly things again. I just kept imagining these horrible scenarios with my family at the wedding...talking about my failed relationship that, hearing their opinions of my failed relationship...I'll stop there. By the time I got dressed I was steeling myself to be angry. When my dress didn't fit the way it used to, I totally melted down. 

I am not proud of those moments. 

Then I spent the day with my family. They mean well and they're RIDICULOUS in a really awesome way and sometimes I forget that. We ate good food and everyone had a Tom Collins in honor of my grandfather (I learned that was his drink of choice) and danced and there was no bouquet toss and instead of talking about my breakup we ended up talking about setting me up with single men. (Oh yeah...I'm dating now, apparently?) I left there feeling like the person I prefer to be. 

Today found me with an emotional/maybe some gin/dancing/not enough water hangover...which is vastly different from and much better than a straight up drinking hangover. Mostly it means wiped out and fighting off self-loathing, to be honest. I allowed myself to skip working out and instead cleaned. I'm combatting the urge to go back to bed by washing my sheets. Sometimes it's the best you can do. 

I'm trying to do better. 

Stick around for some Paris updates. Here's a preview:

Thursday, August 08, 2013

Netherfield Update: News from my Absence

I left town for a month shortly after Mr. Darcy moved in. This was terrible timing, but Twin has your back and took notes in my absence. 

Apparently it took a full week for any signs of curtains to appear. Starting then and continuing even now, an upstairs window has bluish haze which appears to be a tarp. We are all hoping this is a result of some sort of home improvement project, rather than a frat boy attitude towards window treatments. 
Weekends see many cars come and go from Netherfield, Twin reports. We'll have to wait until moving chaos calms down before we know if this indicates a busy social life or just helpful friends moving boxes. On the plus side, he's quiet and there have been zero emergency vehicles.

Twin has only had one sighting of him. He was out back speaking to my dad and borrowing tools. Mr. Darcy is rather elusive. 

I saw him yesterday! Well...the top of his head. I heard a great deal of noise and my investigation revealed that he was working on his back lawn. He's not as tall as I was led to believe, as I could only make out the top of his head over the hedges. Curly hair was sticking out from a baseball hat, and he did not reveal his face to me as I peered through some curtains. I can make no judgments on his appearance yet. 

Sadly, it would seem tragedy has struck our budding story. In what I can only describe as a complete failure, the Dad News Network missed a huge detail in this man's life! It took my mother a three minute conversation with his mother to learn that our Mr. Darcy has a girlfriend! And she's apparently moving in, not that I've seen any sign of her. 

I know what you're thinking, and YES, this is the same mother who inquired after young single women when speaking with my father! These are some seriously conflicting accounts. My mother's best guess is that his mother does not care for the girlfriend. I'm looking into this theory, as well as the claim that Mr. Darcy has a younger, spiky haired brother. Rest assured--the Bennets will get to the bottom of this issue. 

It's been raining all week, so I've no excuse for being in the backyard for more than a moment or two...hopefully the weather will cooperate and I can spend some quality time peering over a book into the next yard. 

BREAKING: As I was preparing to post this, I heard more news of Netherfield. It would seem Mr. Darcy is getting a roommate--and not the younger brother or girlfriend. (Does this mean Mr. Darcy is really Mr. Bingley? I've confused my own storyline.) There is still hope, dear readers.