Thursday, September 28, 2006

Office Flirt

Roommate Rachel and her friend believe it is vital to have an office flirt, to make the tedious moments at work more bearable. I enjoy my job most of the time, so I haven't felt a pressing need for such a thing--or rather, person--but I see where they're coming from. I just don't work in a company where there are a lot of straight, single men.

However. There's this one guy. I'll call him Coworker Campbell. I see him around a lot, but never had any interraction beyond getting directions to somebody's office from him last week. Cute. Seemingly-straight.

Yesterday, I emailed him to ask a work-related question. What started out as a professional exchange quickly turned into playful banter. Polly affirmed what I detected in the emails: flirting. Under-the-radar flirting, flirting-with-a-lowercase-"f", but flirting all the same.

It was great fun and made for a breezy afternoon at work. I always feel too guilty to flirt with other men when I'm seeing someone, but I like to think of myself as pretty decent at it, so it was lovely to return to fine flirting form.

As luck would have it, both Coworker Campbell and I ended up at a going away drinks thing for a fellow coworker. We were the only two smokers in the bunch, so we took cigarette breaks together and had a few mini-conversations outside. In person, he's considerably more subdued and even a little shy. We didn't have a deep and meaningful connection, but it made for a pleasant night out.

There has been a little more email banter today. I think that's as far as I want to take it. In the past, I have thrown myself myself back in the dating pool after a breakup and suffered the consequences. This time around, I'm going to take baby steps. I'm in a good headspace at the moment and I'd like to keep it that way. Exchanging witty emails with a cute coworker is enough for me.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006


The first few weeks after a break-up can be pretty precarious. Whether hostile or amicable, heartbreaking or liberating, there is still a gap that occurs. A loss. There are memories to sift through and new time to fill. There is the requisite evening(s) spent getting piss drunk (which will probably happen on Friday). There is the requisite rebound hookup (which I am not looking for). There are the Actions of Questionable Wisdom, some of which involve getting piss drunk or hooking up on the rebound (or--hey, why not?--both!). There is uncertainty.

I have been bracing myself for some kind of flood of emotions, some tidal wave of grief, but it's not forthcoming. I feel good. Last night, I attended a concert with a friend and, at one point during the show, I thought: I'm happy. I was swept up in the music and fully in the moment. There were affectionate couples all around me, but I wasn't the least bit sad or wistful. Hopeful, more like.

Is something wrong with me? Am I in denial? Am I suppressing emotions? I honestly don't know. I must be a sick person because last Thursday an episode of Project Runway made teary (hey, my relationship had just ended, let a girl indulge) but breaking up with my boyfriend hours earlier didn't.

The only shaky moment I had was on Sunday night. I had spent the weekend with my family and dreaded going back to my apartment, which I knew would be empty. In the end I was okay, thanks to a DVD rental, my couch, and some cigarettes.

Oh yeah, I started smoking again. That is one of the things that helped get me through the weekend. Not healthy, I know, and hopefully temporary. I've also had trouble getting to sleep the last couple of nights, so I'm exhausted today, but I don't necessarily think that's a reflection on my emotional state. Oh, and there's one Action of Questionable Wisdom that involved sending an email to Film Felix (foolish, and I really don't want to go into it, but there you have it).

I'm trying not to avoid dealing with things, but I also don't want to dwell on bad feelings or wallow in self-pity. Even if I could go back I wouldn't, not to those passionless last few weeks, not to someone I now know isn't The One. Instead of moping, I'm throwing myself into my work, working on improving my diet and getting more exercise, and stuffing my calendar full of social activity. I'm not doing cartwheels over being single again and the accompanying possible long stretch of celibacy (oh, how I loathe the idea of random hookups and awkward first dates), but I'm dealing with it and trying to focus on what's there, not what's lacking.

Despite two of my friends getting married this year and two more getting engaged, I refuse to be one of those women who panic about when it's going to happen for them. I spent part of this year in a happy relationship, which is already pretty nice. If it's in the cards for me to be alone for the next few months--or even years--I'll try to handle the solitude with grace. Grace and lots of alcohol. Just kidding about the alcohol part. Sort of.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

post mortem

First of all, thank you to everyone who emailed, called, or sent text messeges of support. I appreciate every kind word and thought.

I guess this is where I offer an explanation...

It didn't come out of nowhere. There were signs of waning along the way, some little, some significant. He initiated the break-up, but I agreed with everything and then some. I had been experiencing doubt for several weeks; I just didn't vocalize them to him. Let's backtrack.

I guess it began the night that Willow and I went to Bar K a couple of Fridays ago. It was just the two of us, until we started chatting with a couple of guys, one of which I set Willow up with. I got a little dressed up that night and felt sexier and more attractive than I had in a while. Which isn't to say that I didn't feel attractive around Ex David, but things had become a little too comfortable, a little too routine. Our interactions had grown somewhat predictable, which I fully acknowledge was my fault as much as his. However, that night with Willow and the guys felt like being single again. There was that exciting anything-can-happen atmosphere in the air. In fact, I could have hooked up with one of the guys from Bar K--there was definite interest--but I didn't.

I was proud of passing what I felt like was some kind of fidelity test. I thought it would strengthen my relationship with Ex David, but over the course of the next week, something strange started to happen. I started thinking about the men in my past-- not wondering what it would be like to be with them, but just recalling the passion I had with them, wondering if it would ever return to my current relationship. I also started thinking about Film Felix--I mean, I do pass the block he lives on nearly every day. I know Felix is more of a figment, a representation of the fantasy, the "what if," but I also know it wasn't a good sign that I was wondering about him again.

Film Felix wasn't my main focus, though. I thought of the stumbling blocks Ex David and I had. His acting aspirations were a real concern. While he had taken some time off, he was keen to return to the stage and I dreaded that day. He was briefly cast in a play a couple of months ago and I had a preview of the dent it made in his schedule. The way I saw it, in a worst-case scenario he would be a struggling and frustrated artist; in a best-case scenario, his time would be consumed with rehearsing and performing.

This ties into the next concern I had which was, sadly, money. Next year, I will finally have my college debt completely paid off and will be in a better position financially. Even though it will take me many years to accumulate, I have started setting aside money to buy a home. Ex David has a considerable amount of debt, which could take him a decade or more to pay off. In the long term, this could have become an issue. Short of a major windfall, it meant that if we had ever gotten married, his debt would have become my debt. Ex David never traveled much because he couldn't afford it, whereas that is something I love to do and spend money on, even if it means abusing my credit cards. Since he is against going into further debt with credit, we would not have been able to take a vacation together, at least not for a long time, whereas I'm already thinking about what exotic location I'll visit next year.

Speaking of location, Ex David and I live in different parts of city and are fiercely loyal to our respective boroughs. He finds my borough too suburban whereas I find his too chaotic and crowded. This would have been a problem further down the line if we had decided to move in together.

Two other issues were pets and kids. I look at all the dog owners in my neighborhood with extreme envy, and it killed me that Ex David was not only allergic, but refused to even entertain the idea of getting a hypoallergenic dog someday. He also seemed pretty uncertain about having kids, which is something I am becoming more sure of the older I get. I'm not looking to have a giant brood, but the idea of having a home five to ten years from now, one with a dog and a rugrat or two, is pretty appealing. Considering that Ex David is eight years older than me, if we were a good match, it would be part of his extended life plan by now, too.

There was also an overall decline in sparkage. I felt a bit like Ex David was taking me for granted, so I started making more plans with friends, and also found I enjoyed the time I spent on my own. At the same time, when we did see each other, we were bickering more and more, about ridiculous things (never in the history of the world has there been such a hostile discussion on the proper way to clean a wok). It was becoming increasingly apparent that we were on different wavelengths.

I didn't give up on things because, despite my reservations, I know David is a good man. And if it comes to choosing love or money, I will go with the former every time. I also didn't want to give up at the first sign of difficulty; I didn't want to be one of those people that chases that first euphoric buzz and then leaves when things get a little more settled and a little less exciting. However, I did see the end coming. Last week, when my parents said they'd like to have David over for dinner this weekend, I told them I preferred to visit alone. I held off on sending the RSVP card for Fuchsia's wedding next month, because in the back of my mind I wasn't sure if it would be two of us attending. So when we sat down to talk on Thursday and he said he wanted to break up, I wholeheartedly agreed. We just didn't have enough common interests or enough of a spark to sustain the relationship, and it ran its natural course.

Ultimately, Ex David decided that he needed someone who shared his involvement in theater and preferably someone closer to his age. Ultimately, I decided I need someone who is a bit more urbane, is pretty sure he wants to have a family someday (and pets!), and preferably someone more stable in his career. I also want passion that can be sustained longer than a few months. I know that in most cases it does fade over time, but I also know there's more out there for me. A lot more.

Our talk was calm and civilized, friendly and not the least bit heated. Even our hug goodbye was flat, it itself an indication of just how over things were. We are going to try to maintain a friendship after a suitable amount of downtime.

I didn't cry about it and still haven't.

Maybe I am numb, maybe it still hasn't hit me. I mean, I might have a big ol' breakdown tomorrow, but right now I'm not scared of the potential uncertainty and loneliness of being single again. Instead, I'm optimistic and looking forward to what is on the horizon. After all, the show must go on.

Thursday, September 21, 2006


BF David and I broke up.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

nice day to start again

Attending to a wedding when you have a raging case of PMS can be pretty rough. There's the bloating, which makes you feel less than sexy in that sexy black dress and convinced you look hideous no matter how much your boyfriend reassures you to the contrary. There are the cravings, which leaves no waiter with a hors d'oeuvres tray in a five foot radius safe. There's also the hair-trigger emotions and moodiness of nuclear proportions. Amazingly, I only cried briefly at Clarissa's wedding, once when she walked down the aisle and once when I saw her privately after the ceremony and she gave me a bouquet she had specially made for me (in leiu of tossing hers).

The weather and location (a small castle-like mansion surrounded by lush greenery) were lovely and the couple couldn't be more perfectly suited to each other. However, there was something sad about the day.

For the record, I am not one of those women who goes to weddings and is all, "when is it going to be my turn to get married?" So I wasn't looking over at BF David with a diamond-ring-hungry gleam in my eye. The melancholy stemmed more from the feeling that I truly drifted apart from most of my college friends (with one or two exceptions, other than the bride, of course). These were people I used to frequently run into on the street or in shops when I was in college, people I went clubbing with and always had something to talk about at parties and other gatherings. Yet last weekend, I struggled to come up with any bits of conversation. I used to drink (and, on very rare ocassions, do drugs) with some of these people, stay up all hours talking to them, and here I was, barely being able to scrape together a few sentences. How do you cover such a big time gap and discuss the last five or more years in a few minutes? I couldn't do it, it felt too phoney and awkward. Most of the conversational chemistry I had with this people had dissipated, though I still made an effort. I think it comes down to the fact that we are all at such different places in our lives and I have less in common with the others than I used to, because I'm not married nor do I have a kid or own a home or go rock climbing or joined Weight Watchers or any of the other popular trends among the group. Also, since I never kept in touch with most of them, I haven't seen the evolution of these things, so talking to Aunty Mom, who is a single parent who I have kept in touch with, was different than talking to a couple I haven't seen in years who now have a small child.

However, It wasn't just my flawed social abilities. I think the general atmosphere of the wedding was happy though subdued. People seemed to prefer gathering in small clusters and talking amongst themselves. Which was better than having some crazy uncle try to drag you out on the dance floor to do the electric slide or cringing through another rendition of "Lady in Red."

After the wedding, there was a party at hotel suite, though BF David and I did not attend that one. We had an early start back to New York the next day and I was all tapped out as far as socializing went. Instead, we went back to the hotel (which was rather swanky, as was our room, which was a suite!), had dinner in the hotel's restaurant, and went to our room where we laughed our asses off watching a comedy special on HBO. Despite the awkwardness and my out of control hormones, it was a relaxing and pleasant weekend.

As I write this, Clarissa is on her honeymoon. I wish her and her husband a long and happy life together.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Lovers in Lull

On Friday, I went drinking with Willow. We frequent a small place called Bar K and meet other regulars from time to time. Since there is drinking involved, sometime we forget that we even met said regulars (enough cocktails and I'd probably forget meeting the Queen of England). There was one guy we started talking to, Spanish Sam, who said he had met us on a previous outing. I didn't remember him, but I did remember his friend, who had an unmistakable laugh (Willow and I shared many a cringing look when we heard the laugh).

Willow and I did some shots with Laughing Lenny, Spanish Sam and their coworkers and chatted a bit. After a couple of Jager Bombs (a shot of Jagermeister dropped into a glass of Red Bull...the horror, the horror), I decided it would be a good idea to play matchmaker and set up Willow with Spanish Sam. I got her permission first, then scrawled her name and number on a napkin and dashed outside where he was having a cigarette. I gave him a brief rundown of Willow's awesomeness and handed him the napkin. He came back inside with me and said to her,

"Dolly seems to think we should go out."

"Yes, you should. Willow, when are you free?" I asked.

"I'm not doing anything on Monday."

"Spanish Sam, are you free on Monday?" I continued.

"Yeah." He looked amused.

"Good," I nodded. "You'll take Willow out to dinner on Monday."

"I will?"

"You will."

"He will?" Willow asked.

"He will."

I moved aside so that the two of them could talk a bit more. I did get concerned a little later because we were all drinking quite a bit and at one point Willow was convinced that Spanish Sam had a British accent.

I shook my head. "No accent, and definitely not British. He's Spanish."

"Really?" Willow looked over at him, confused. "He really sounds like he has an accent. Maybe Australian?"

"No, I swear, he doesn't have an accent." I laughed.

I still need to get the full scoop, but Monday's dinner seemed to go very well. I'm glad, because Willow is one of my favorite people and it is ludicrous that she doesn't have a line of men around the block eager to date her.

Watching her and Sam flirt on Friday, I felt a little twinge of something. Not envy exactly, maybe something more akin to nostalgia. Those beginning moments of courtship, the initial flirtation, the first kisses, are so exciting. Sometimes, it's almost like you get to bypass real life a bit to indulge in a heady fantasy. Of course, that's temporary, and eventually you get more comfortable with your partner. You burp and fart and snore in each others' presence. You don't always get dressed up and don't always bring your A game and "hang out" more often than have actual dates. At the same time, you have somebody who you can depend on, someone to love, who will take care of you when you're sick or hungover (hello, Jager Bombs!), who understands you and your quirks and who you can be completely yourself around, somebody who you can talk to about practically anything.

There are advantages and disadvantages of getting comfortable with somebody. On one hand, I like being so at ease with BF David that I can wear jeans and no make-up around him. On the other hand, I do feel like we could use a jump start and bring the passion up a notch. Luckily, we will have such an opportunity very soon. We're leaving town at the end of the week to attend Clarissa's wedding. It's going to be the first time we have travelled together and stayed in a hotel together. Like many people, there's something about hotel rooms I find incredibly sexy. Add to that the fact that we will be all dressed up and I think we have a recipe for a pretty exciting and fun weekend. Plus, unlike in my single days, once Monday rolls around, I won't have to worry whether or not he's going to call.