Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Obligatory End of 2013 Post

You probably won't see this until THE FUTURE but it's still 2013 as I write, so I wanted to spare a few minutes from socializing to stop by. 

2013 was not the best year for me. If you review statistics, it's been pretty awful in a lot of ways. I'm not sorry to see it go. But I hate regret, because I think even mistakes and missed chances and shitty parts of your life add up to what you become. Even things that suck can turn into great opportunities and great parts of your character and even just great stories. So I don't like the idea that I would undo any of it if I could. I think I'll come out of the wreckage that is 2013 with some pretty great stories. 

I mean, if you think about it, I had a pretty great year...

 Started the year at the Arctic Circle.

 Took up some new hobbies. 

 Froze at a fjord. 

 Spent A LOT of time in airports. 

 Drank too much coffee, probably.

 Went to a LOT of weddings.

 Did I mention I went to a lot of weddings?

 Best bowling game of my life. Yeah, I broke 100. Jealous?


Saw Paris.

Paris was ok.

 Spent a lot of time volunteering.

Learned how to circus. Ok, I learned how to juggle, but there was a lot of circus stuff going on.

Also this happened, with no context given whatsoever. 

Despite some great moments, I'm ready to move on. This year is a clean slate. 2013 was a year of transition, so this one is a year for progress. I'm ready to take on 2014. Let's go. 

Monday, December 30, 2013

I'm Blaming the Men

Several weeks ago, I was out with some friends. What started out as a small group grew and grew, as more people called friends to join us. It was a top notch night out. 

Or rather, it almost was. Between shots, I discovered a new voicemail on my phone from L. "Amanda, I'm going to make it after all. I'm on my way and I'm bringing you a man." If there are lovelier words to hear from a friend, I certainly can't think of them right now. 

Later the same night, B approached me with the news that his handsome** friend was on the way with the express instructions to make out with me and not ask for my phone number. (**I'm editorializing here; my friend didn't use the word handsome.) 

Two handpicked men? What an embarrassment of riches! My night was looking up! Surely one of these men would put his face on mine! My post-breakup dry spell would be over! (Also, YES I do have the greatest friends.) 

I am not one to brag, but you guys...I was on point. My flirt game was strong that night. I spent good amounts of time with these men (separately, thank you), stopped drinking before I was in danger of being sloppy, and my hair was in full cooperation. 

L showed up early, friend in tow. The man in question had a great face and was positively charming. We danced and he saved me from a creeper. Things were looking up. Until he disappeared.

However, my designated makeout arrived shortly thereafter. We hung out for the rest of the evening. I was feeling pretty confident, despite the disappearance of the first guy. Did I mention that my game was on point? A panel of judges would have given me at least a 9.8, and the internet would have contested such a low score. Women in the late 90s would have been debating my Sex and the City likeness. (Sure, I would have rolled my eyes so hard they were in danger of sticking, but it would have happened.)

All was not well, though--because of course I can't come out of something like that unscathed. DM abruptly announced his departure, hugged me, and left. Without following through on his mission. I stood in shock before turning on B. "I THOUGHT YOU SAID--" "I know. I'm going to kill him." 

What went wrong? How could I strike out twice, and with my eyeliner so even that night? Surely these men missed the point of their attendance that night, as neither man made a further move of any kind. 

On top of all this, my struggle brings up another question entirely: Are we done with making out in bars before going our separate ways? Must it be all romance and intimacy and last names? Where are the reckless men of my early 20s? If it's all exchanging phone numbers and defining the relationship, I don't have time for that. SURELY I'm not the only person left who occasionally just wants a man to kiss her. I'm not prepared for that reality. 

Monday, December 23, 2013

Easy Holiday Recipe!

It's Monday! Except it's Christmas week and that means I have no idea what day it is except to call my mom and repeatedly ask which family members I'm having dinner with tonight. Then I remember which friends I'm meeting for brunch. The friend stuff is over course great, and the family stuff is actually wonderful but comes with a certain amount of drama because OF COURSE IT DOES, IT'S THE HOLIDAY SEASON. I would be bored with a quiet family, though. 

Anyway, in the spirit of my ex-boyfriend, I doubt I'll have much time for you guys this week. Next week we can get back to talking about me striking out at bars and how the words "spinster" and "old maid" were spoken at a family dinner last night. For now, I copped out and here's an easy holiday recipe! You may be alone, but you made treats, dammit. (YES I know the sound is weird--I was on my laptop.) This will not be a regular occurrence, so sorry about my face. 

...Ok so I had to upload it to youtube. THIS IS ALL GOING VERY WELL I bet you're glad you clicked over here today. If you're still with me you can check out my adventures making peppermint bark for Christmas. 

If you want to make peppermint bark, this is a close approximation of how I do it: 

Bitter Amanda's Peppermint Bark

Crush candy canes with a hammer. If you're using regular size, try about 9. However, these are a pain in the ass to unwrap, so I use about 3 dozen mini candy canes. Crush them until you start to feel better about your future as a cat lady.

Melt 20 oz dark chocolate. The amount, like the number of candy canes, is negotiable. Just melt some dark chocolate. Use the microwave or a double boiler so you don't screw it up like your past relationships. Google double boiler if that part is foreign to you. Add some peppermint extract to really impress your friends. 

Line a large cookie sheet with wax paper or parchment paper. 

Put the chocolate on the pan and refrigerate until it's hard. This takes about 20 minutes, or just long enough that you forgot you were making something. The wait goes faster if you facebook stalk your ex and try to decide which girl in that picture he's sleeping with now. 

Melt the same amount of white chocolate that you used for the dark chocolate layer. 

Mix in candy cane pieces and pour onto dark chocolate layer (Make sure the first layer is chilled well and work quickly or it’ll melt and it will not look as pretty. It will still, however, be delicious. Looks aren't everything.)


When solid, remove and break into pieces until it resembles your heart. This is best kept in the fridge until you're going to share it and/or eat your feelings. 

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Your Friendly Neighborhood Cable Company

Yesterday I received a letter from my cable provider. It's a general hey thanks for sticking with us, there's a slight change in our channel lineup letter. Nothing noteworthy. What is noteworthy, I noticed as I got to the bottom, is the CEO. It's a woman--she's CEO and Chairwoman of the Board. Considering how many companies and organizations are run exclusively by men, I'm sad to say that I was happy to see that. 

And then I looked closer. She's not just the CEO and Chairwoman of the Board. Between her name and those titles, there is another line--different titles. "Hugger, Mother, Keeper of the Culture." 

I shit you not. 

My irritation flared up, which will surprise exactly zero of you. You really should hear the first draft of most of my rants--this was no exception. You're a damn CEO! I don't care if you like hugs--I care that you're taking care of my cable and internet! My internet doesn't need a hug! Don't bring your maternal instincts into this! DO YOUR JOB. 

I'm not proud of it, but part of me was mad that this woman in charge was putting out this silly image. I'm so tired of being asked if I need a tampon when I'm having a bad day. I had an imaginary conversation with this CEO, asking her how she could be taken seriously when the first word after her name on letters is "hugger." 

Once I calmed down and paced my living room a little, I headed over to Google. This is not exclusive to the CEO, it would seem. WOW! Cable (Please do not get me started on their name. Please.) wants you to know that their employees aren't just employees--they're people, too. Each of them gets a "brand signature"--titles for their non-work life. This was done to humanize their employees, since people really hate cable companies. The idea is that if I'm on the phone, irate and wanting answers, I'll chill out and be nicer to the guy on the other end if I know he's a Jazz Enthusiast and Fly Fisher, rather than just The Guy Who Probably Screwed Up My Cable Bill. 

Alright. So it's everyone. That made me feel a little better. It wasn't the CEO alone. Then I asked myself how I would have felt if the letter had come from a man, with his brand signature listed with his job title. Would "Family Guy, Sports Fan, Person of Faith" have caused the same reaction? (That's the President's title, in case you're curious.) Yes. Yes, it would have. I realized it's not about being taken seriously as a woman in business--it's about being taken seriously in business. You're in charge of a cable company. I don't care what you do in your free time--that's totally up to you. What I do care about is the service you're providing me. Your passion for keeping the culture (whatever the fuck that means) weighs exactly zero on my decision to stick with you or switch companies. 

Moreover, I had no idea this was some company quirk until I did my research. I didn't think the author was human, I thought she was too eccentric to head up a cable company. It requires too much explanation--this is hardly common knowledge. (Particularly for a regional company. If Google did this, or Disney, or Apple...we'd probably have read about it on The Huffington Post by now.) It feels like an inside joke that I wasn't privy to. 

So, readers, I ask you--am I the only one not charmed by this "brand signature" nonsense? Does it change your image of cable companies if you know the CFO is a dog lover? 

Monday, December 16, 2013

Public Service Announcement: First Impressions

If I'm at a bar and you want to meet me, "Hi, I don't think we've met," is a perfectly fine line. I mean, it's definitely a line because we definitely have not met--but you need something to open with, right? So sure, that's a fine start. 

You know what isn't a fine start? When you're standing outside in the snow smoking a cigarette and talking to the bouncer and try to snag my arm as I dash outside on the phone to take a call, and then deliver your line. Do I look like I'm comfortable right now? It's snowing and I left my jacket inside. I'm trying to make this quick. I'm on the phone--I'm not saying I'm about to make a call. I'm saying the phone is at my ear and words are coming out of my mouth. Don't try to grab me, because that doesn't start a conversation--that starts my fight or flight instincts. And then really, really don't stand there and wait for me finish my call. That's not cute. That's creepy and intimidating. We're basically alone and I don't know you and have I mentioned that I'm actively having a conversation? You can't wait until I go back inside? Really?  

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Stranger Danger

I hate when strangers adopt a false sense of familiarity with me. I can't stand when telemarketers answer your hello with a friendly "Hey Amanda!" so I don't hang up right away, struggling to match that voice with someone I actually know.I don't want a waitress to scoot into the booth while I order just to be the cool staff who chats with my group. I don't want people to knock on my door with the secret friend or whatever knock when they're showing up to proselytize. 

I'm not offended by strangers introducing themselves to me. 

In fact, I introduce myself to strangers pretty regularly. It's one thing to turn around at the bar and ask the guys at the table behind you if they chose the music on the jukebox. It's fine to find someone on social media and comment on their blog, tweets, whatever. It starts a getting to know you process. 

Sometimes that process goes quickly. You can bond with other women in the ladies room in no time if you're both drunk and putting on lip gloss. You can make fast friends when someone else jumps onto the dance floor at the same time you do. You feel pretty close to people after spending a few hours next to them on an airplane. But you have to go through SOME kind of process. You find common ground, even if that's just "we shared an armrest for 4 hours and also helped each other with that crossword puzzle in the in-flight magazine."

But you can't jump into familiarity. When you approach me and address me casually and use some ridiculous pet name, like we go way back, we have a problem. I received a message on facebook, from someone I do not know, with no mutual friends. His message starts with, "Hello my dear." I'm not your dear. I'm not your anything. (And if you're wondering if a 50-something man tried to hit on me, you're correct.) Delete.

This week I received both a friend request and a message from another random--we have literally nothing in common to suggest how he found me. "You're really pretty. Don't be shy. Can we be friends?" NOPE. Also I don't plan on being shy, I plan on ignoring you. I don't know you. 

You have to let me learn enough that I want to be your friend! Will we have stuff to talk about? What kind of stuff would we do together? Will you send me entertaining snapchats? Can I repeatedly send you links to things I found on youtube? These are things I think about when considering a new friendship. 

It's one thing to introduce yourself to a strange. It's another to act like the introduction is your favorite inside joke and demand their time and attention. Strangers don't owe you anything, so don't be a creep. Not to mention, Random Facebook Guy, I don't know that I want to be friends with Regina "you're really pretty" George. That just makes me think you're going to talk behind my back after I thank you. 

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Time for puppies.

I'm only a few hours into this day and I'm already over it. Life is winning this round, guys. In case you're feeling that way also, here are some puppies. (These are all from the outstanding http://handsomedogs.tumblr.com/, which is exactly what it sounds like.) 

Thursday, December 05, 2013

Still keeping an eye on Netherfield...

I haven't spotted Mr. Darcy in so long that I was beginning to think he fled back to Pemberley for the winter. His car isn't even around that much! (I'm not even going to apologize for sounding creepy because what, are you new here?) (If you are new here you can check out the Netherfield tag and learn just how much I stalk Mr. Darcy.) (Stop interrupting me.) ANYWAY, I know the house isn't empty because there are lights on and other such signs of life. Just no people. 

Until yesterday! Twin and I were leaving the house as Mr. Darcy pulled into his driveway. And then, as we walked down our driveway, Mr. Darcy slowly reversed his car down his own driveway. When we got in the car, I turned to Twin and said, "Well that was it. He was probably checking us out and is now determining that we are barely tolerable. It's all going to plan. ...Also, rude. We are far better than barely tolerable." 

I'll spare you details about Twin's reply, although if you're imagining that she rolled her eyes...you might be right. 

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Wedding Season is upon us.

I'm concerned that I didn't make myself clear in Monday's blog post. I realize that I told you engagement season is upon us, but that didn't mean ALL OF YOU HAD TO GO AND GET ENGAGED. 

After my five wedding summer/autumn, I was pretty excited to take a break. Get away from the place cards, the painful slow dances during which I sit and openly mock happy couples, and hoping there will be attractive men in attendance. (Ok, the mocking is actually pretty fun. But that's not the point!) That's not in the cards, it would seem. It would seem that everyone is against me. It would seem that I'll need to find another All Purpose Dress to wear all summer. It would seem that all of you hate me. I've received three save the date cards for next summer and based on the email I just answered with my mailing address, another is on the way. FOUR WEDDINGS and it's only December 4th. (Weddings in three states and two countries, in case you were keeping track. Which is more than this year's five weddings in three states.) 

However, I have to give a huge shout out to all five of this year's weddings. Every single one of you skipped the bouquet toss, saving me a feigned urgent phone call or possibly a post-breakup fit in the bathroom after being pushed to the dance floor because I'm single. Also, A+ music selections this year. Brides, you're the best. High fives to each of you. 

I can only hope this next crop of weddings can live up to such praise. It's going to be a long holiday season. 

Monday, December 02, 2013

Relationship Exit Ramps

Take a minute and examine your relationship status. 

Now get used to it. (If you're in the US, that is. If you're not, we'll have this conversation again in a couple weeks.) With Thanksgiving over and Hanukkah in full swing, we are in Winter Holiday Season. Winter holidays are a minefield for relationships. There's family, presents, and so many social engagements. Movies teach us that snow falling is the perfect opportunity for romance. (Have I mentioned that the Hallmark Channel is showing Christmas movies 24/7?) 

After Christmas, it's New Year's and Valentine's Day. We're in Winter Holiday Season until St. Patrick's Day finally shows up. Right now? Your relationship is in a holding pattern.** If you're dating someone and it's even fairly serious, consider yourself in that until late February. If you've been harboring thoughts of ending it, you missed your chance--there are no exit ramps on Relationship Highway between Thanksgiving and Valentine's Day. What, are you going to leave him single for Christmas, with his whole family asking where you are? Presents with your name on them left under the tree? Or will he have to lie about you; tell his family you got called in to work and yeah, it IS really shitty? Are you going to wait until after Christmas but leave her scrambling for midnight plans on December 31st? And you're definitely not going to be the guy who breaks up with her before Valentine's Day, "the most romantic holiday". (Try really hard not to be that guy.) There is no good way to end something at this time of year. (Unless you're a douche, and then it's always breakup season, because you're a terrible human being.) The only way your relationship can change is to get MORE serious. More committed. It's proposal season, guys. So unless moving in together was part of your holiday plan, you're just trying to maintain the status quo until the snow has melted. 

If you're single, this isn't a great season for you either. I mean, how many people want to go on a blind date just in time to find you a Christmas present? And risk getting invited to your office holiday party? It's a high-pressure time for dating. I was supposed to go on a blind date the week before Christmas and he asked if we could reschedule. That was 2010. And see, ANOTHER holiday season has arrived and now he'll have to wait--AGAIN. He'll call this spring, maybe. No pressure. You guys think he'll call, right? He's supposed to be really cute. He'll probably call as soon as the date holidays settle down. I'm not worried.

Where were we? Oh yeah. Relationship Highway. No exit ramps. Late February. Except all the engagements that I may or may not be unfortunately anticipating. 

**Casual relationships, where both parties are aware that it's casual, have a less strict set of rules.