What a question!
Oh buddy, am I in trouble.
It has now been six months since I last wrote [refresher: Luck of the Irish]– eep! Yes, I’m still alive, kicking ass, and taking names [i.e. job applications]. Sorry about that. I could blame work, friends, job hunting, or Martian invasions, but we all know the reason: a boy. [Man?] Isn’t that always the reason! But I had half-finished this article, and it stays true. So let’s jump back to the end of the summer, and roughly two months into our relationship.
Two months: my most common expiration date. I’ve only ever dated someone for longer once before, my only titled ‘boyfriend’. But just that week, my Mick was goofing with my hand, gave me a look, and told me my claddagh was facing the wrong way.
Side note: the claddagh, commonly called the Irish Love ring, is our symbol for true love. I prefer not to call it the Wedding ring, because my grandma told me all good Irish girls wear one; I have since age 16. It is fashioned of a pure heart clasped in the hands of friendship and crowned with loyalty. There are four ways to wear the ring, each with its own meaning. On your right hand, the heart facing out [so others can see the shape properly] tells others you are unattached; facing in means your heart is taken in a committed relationship. The left hand out says engaged, and in is married. Only supposed to be worn on the ring finger. [Duh.] The choice of metal and stone used mean anything from sterling strength, heart of gold, or diamond in the rough. Personally, I go for silver with a heart of green. The color of passion, strength, and Ireland. A perfect claddagh.
Which is now turned in. I’d said it only turns for monogamous relationships, and I’m clearly dating a dozen other guys. Right? [Circle: false.] I later turned it in, quietly beaming. Last night, he noticed again, “It looks like a much better fit this way.”
So that’s that. A subtle answer from a simple man.
When I say ‘simple’, it is meant as the most genuine admiration possible. It is difficult to finish this description of Mick from that earlier perspective, with six months more experience now. But I’ll tell you, I was absolutely starred. He is the kind of strong, good person you don’t meet often. He is a five-year Army veteran of both wars, medically discharged and half-homesick for his military life. We initially met only six months after he got out, he was still adjusting to civilian life when he started working at my Bar. He deserves a medal for being the first coworker I’ve dated; should I have said for ‘War Hero’? Well, the valiant effort succeeded. Mission Accomplished.
The effort was mine. True to form, I do believe I seduced him. He was new, an unusual novelty. Tall, broad, attractive in that solid Irish way. A real man. Maybe a bit withdrawn, a little quiet. I don’t hear it often anymore, but when he did speak up, it was with a slight lisp. Being me, I’d call him out in the kitchen for his silence. Finally, he joked that he was quiet to start, but won’t shut up once he gets going. Nearly a year later, I can vouch for that.
So I always had this running Hangman game with the sous chef during slow times at the Bar. It helped keep me from sticking my hand in boiling oil out of boredom. Trying to be inclusive, I pulled Mick into the game, only to find out he is seriously dyslexic. I haven’t figured out if the lisp is from the dyslexia, his severe war injuries, or a combination of all three. All I know is that from a cute, withdrawn veteran… it was rather endearing. So I’d invite him out with the Teambuilders to find trouble. Sometimes it worked; it was hard for him, living out in the boonies without a car. Then one night, I offered the couch instead of his trek home.
I have never been so caught up in a whirlwind. Though we kept it professional at work, all I wanted to do was grab him. After a month, everyone knew. After two, we were exclusive. He called me his best friend, the best thing to hear from your boyfriend. After three, we met the families. A bit early for the judgment, but still another first for me. The first night I met one of his best friends, he told me he had never seen Mick like this. The teasing over him loving me was received with mixed emotions, and made me blush to my Irish roots. After that, we essentially lived together. He bought me a new claddagh for Christmas.
Word-for-word what I wrote six months ago:
“So in the weirdest progression possible, I’m pretty sure I’m falling in love with him. Which is terrifying. I’ve never said that about anyone before. And definitely haven’t said it to anyone. He’s so uninhibited and honest, it makes me shy sometimes. But I’m working on the nerve to say it first. I think. Oh, lordy.”
Though it was rough, I did say it first. And it scared him. A little [lot] tipsy [drunk], it sort of slipped out. He said to not say that word; everything goes to shit after it happens. I was in shock; it was jumping off a cliff and not knowing if I’d be caught when the fall ended. I had never said ‘I love you’ to anyone before. I told him so. It was important for me to say it, even if he couldn’t. I only speak what I mean, so I couldn’t fault him for not saying something he didn’t feel.
The first time he did, a week later, drunk and still scared, I almost cried.
So here I am, ten months later, and I love him. In the immortal words of one of my favorite artists, in my absolute favorite song…. he’s got a hold on me.
One blush means I’m amused (or have done something stupid). Two blushes = definitely interested. Three blushes, and the deal is sealed.
I have a crush.
Once upon a time… fate, genetics, and a healthy sense of humor got together one night and created my complexion.
We’re talking seriously pale here, folks. To the point of multiple childhood nicknames and countless burns. (I once got a sunburn sitting on a cafe patio by the time I finished lunch. [Okay, it’s happened more than once.]) So the general exertion of walking from A to B, thinking hard, or even the general frustration of where I left my phone– they visibly show. I wear my heart on my skin tone.
Sometimes, I’m like reading a book. I can play a mean game of RISK, and a decent hand of poker… but certain emotions are easy to tell. Denying a crush would be like me calling a ream of paper white; the pot and kettle have nothing on me. So, color me intrigued– literally.
An honest to God, old school, makes-me-blush crush.
We run in the same group of friends, so I can’t tell you who it is. But I can tell you what he’s like.
He’s tall [no surprise], strong [makes me shiver], and goofy as hell [is there any other type I like?]. He’s the kind of guy every girl sits up a little straighter for when he enters a room, but doesn’t notice. He simply knows who he is, and puts it out there in a confident, natural way. Such a straightforward personality is refreshing in a city of professional ladder climbers and social manipulators. The world zeros in when he’s around, to the point where I’m more aware of his proximity to me than whatever I’m actively doing. The rest of life is just on auto-pilot. I’m not just saying he’s attractive; he’s actually beautiful. A lean build, great smile when I tease him, and perfect eye contact. The kind you can’t look away from; as if you would even want to. [Like in oncoming traffic? Doubtful.] I can be quite the cool cucumber, but he’s tripped me up more than once into being damn flustered. And I don’t get flustered.
He’s not the only one I’m sweet on, though.
I pick up crushes like baseball cards. Like this one, most don’t amount to anything more than simple appreciation. I like picking up on something that fascinates me about a person and admiring it. That’s the beauty of crushes. And any little thing can kick start it. A common one lately seems to be a cute guy sitting at My Bar ordering a great beer and shot of Jameson. That one gets me every time– there is something admirably simple about ordering the working-man’s boilermaker that pulls me. Especially when followed by great, easy conversation with an attractive smartass. (I’ve said it before: you DC kids really need to step it up and put yourselves on the line more. Hint: a free drink means the bartender is interested.) This week definitely introduced a new rockstar crush of the boilermaker variety. He only got me to blush twice; we’ll see if he returns as promised to earn the third.
But more than the tripwire that spins me into infatuation are the qualities that keep me there. A quick mind and clever tongue. Culture and curiosity. A sweet nature and spontaneity. Impulsive ideas and the confidence to see them through. Assertive smartasses really steal my heart; no wonder I moved to DC. Right now, I want someone who actually thinks, recognizes their impact on others, and puts it to good use. I’m a heart-on-the-sleeve kind of girl.
I put serious effort into making other people smile with random stunts or little gestures on a daily basis; I like to think there are kindred spirits out there. I even see small moments like someone offering their metro seat, or running after an elderly man to return his dropped glove [happened in front of My Bar Saturday afternoon]. Today, I watched a businessman– fresh off the train with a suitcase and the distinctly-DC running-late look– stop to give a homeless guy two $20’s and tell him things will look up eventually. Heart = warmed. But apparently my personal karma is playing it a bit sadistically these days. Life’s been throwing a number of sharp hardballs my way, and I’ve have a rough time of it. Nothing terrible, just consistently difficult. So I thoroughly enjoy fun times when they come, and safe-keep the sweet moments in my pocket for later.
That translates into when a sweet friend-crush interrupts me to say I have beautiful eyes, or a cute bar patron says I’m trouble and will have to visit again next week….. well, those are the butterflies I keep to make me smile again later. I take these little moments to heart– so don’t break them.
Everyone needs a little more love in their lives. I’m not just talking about candy hearts and teddy bears (though I won’t reject the classics). I mean acknowledging the homeless person you breeze past every day outside Farragut North, or the Metro Express lady in Columbia Heights (who is a real sweet woman). How about helping the mother off the bus with her toddlers and stroller, or giving the elderly a hand. And yes, maybe even bringing a flower to that cute someone who comes to mind, or asking them for a drink. Happiness and romance don’t have to be grand gestures at the Empire State Building or airport terminals. They also don’t have to have some weighted end-game of commitment or marriage. They can be little things. Like just saying, “Hi, I think you’re cool– want to go for a walk?”
So here is my challenge to the City of Politics and Pride: how about you try making a random gesture to brighten someone ELSE’S day, with no goal in mind beyond making someone smile. If you want to share it with the world, tell me about it and I’d love to have a follow-up article of stories. If you want to make it selfless and keep it to yourself, more power to you. But just try it– it’ll make this week more bearable for everyone involved. I promise, warm fuzzies are contagious.
And since I will be working Thursday night: Happy Valentine’s Day, world. This gem is thanks to an NYU Improv friend:
It’s all fine and dandy for advice columnists to write about “putting yourself out there” romantically, or “staying positive” on the job hunt. That’d be just peachy, if I had picked up your article to save on a psychiatric bill– but I’m not here for my mental health, I’m here to figure how to get results. I don’t need your feel-good platitudes, I need a damn job.
What I realize more and more each day is that, for most people in this world, you only get what you want if you barrel into an obstacle with the bull-headed determination to refuse anything other than success. [Trust fund babies can politely bite me.] You might smash half the china shop, but at least it’s progress– right? You sure as hell won’t get anywhere sitting on your ass, unless you’re looking for obesity and a cardiac trip to the ER. So walk up to the cute person at the party, introduce yourself, and show some damn initiative.
Clearly, I’m in a feisty mood this week. [Or maybe it’s just frustration? I’ll go with both; they tend to go hand-in-hand with me.] My restaurant is closed for the next few months for renovations, and I’m left not only looking for a real job, but without the measly paycheck I’ve subsisted on the past year to support my fanatic career hunt. This is a terrifying time, folks. I have a three-digit bank balance and bills due in two weeks. My conclusion: I need to up my game, pronto. Evidently, the 100+ applications I send out a week aren’t cutting it, and the two staffing agencies I’m a candidate for haven’t helped. At most, they get my hopes up for a day or two a week, only to promptly smash them with a “the client chose someone with more relevant experience”. Which, to me, only says: “Hey, Jules, another employer thinks you’re irrelevant!” Well, fuck you kindly, too. I didn’t want to process your advertising information anyway.
Drastic times call for drastic measures. A friend told me that one of his buddies got a job last year by walking her resume straight in to HR. The ad only specified no calls. So I’m compiling a list today of places to drop in for mild harassment next week! Hey, it’ll be lovely: “You asked for no calls, but said nothing about walk-ins, so I thought I would hand it in personally and say hello.” That’s charming, right? Right??
Which bring me to this week’s problème d’amour: if I need to up my game professionally, a large majority of this city needs to step up personally. Washington needs to take its professional motivation and translate it into social life. Grow a pair, initiate, and follow through. Why doesn’t anyone walk up to the guy/ girl they’re into and say, “Hi, I think your cute/ interesting/ cooler than dinosaurs, want to go out/ dance/ jump in a fountain with me sometime?” Because honestly, those sort of straightforward shenanigans are just about all that I want. Chalk it up to being a budding adrenaline junkie. Nothing makes me smile like those butterfly whirlwinds that speed out of your stomach and overwhelm the whole body. What can I say? That’s what I want. To feel like crazed little butterflies are electrocuting my nervous system.
But hell, it seems like no one does it anymore– walk right up to someone pretty and say hello. So, to chase down the possibility of this idea, I went to the Offline Society’s inaugural event for DC singles last week, and was blown away. It was a remarkable collection of incredibly attractive, active, and interesting individuals. The ladies of the Society put together a superior event of classy cocktails, hors d’oeuvres, and first-rate characters. I saw some sparks fly, and later recognized several connections made at the party continuing their night together at Wonderland Bar. Success? I think so. Common for DC? I think not. What made the event– and concept as a whole– so wonderful is the sad rarity of such behavior. Men and women were walking right up to each other to introduce themselves and take a leap. The Offline ladies did a fantastic job of getting everyone pumped up for putting themselves out there, and there was constant evidence of their skill in each stranger’s approach. But how is this sad?
Because it just doesn’t happen like that often. Sure, guys approach hot girls at the bar, maybe to offer a drink, though more often than not it’s just a solicitation to rub bodies on the dance floor. And of course, at house parties, new people meet and talk. But while clubs are meant for the carnal alcohol, parties are more platonic social. We go to parties with either someone [or two] in mind for the end-goal, or for a night out with a crew of friends. Even if you meet someone new and interesting, you’re out with a group and it’s a bit difficult– or sometimes embarrassing– to throw out some game with friends looking on. So we pull back and act more reserved under the limelight. [Yes, even me. For the most part, I’ve no problem with it, but we all have shy days!]
Once you get past that first hello, first date, or even first kiss, people around here still seem to have a problem with courage. I know the whole world isn’t keen on actual communication, especially when it involves emotion– but grow up. I’m very clear with what I want out of life, relationships, and even simple hook-ups. So figure out what you want [even if it’s that you don’t know], and be up-front about it. At the very least, it’ll earn you less social confusion. I was talking with a friend recently, and he agrees. If he likes someone, he asks her out and he doesn’t waffle over the details. It’s a question of “this-day-this-time-this-place, you in?” Cole’s definitely on to something there, because it shows both initiative and follow through. It’s honest, assertive, and endearing; what could be better?
Right now, I want something real. I want to have an affair of uninhibited passion, where it’s no one’s damn business what’s going on but our own. I want to stop wanting to do something, and having to tell myself ‘no’ because it’ll come off as too intense. We’re all comfortable with publicly showing our driven ambition here in DC, so why not allow that same freedom in our dating world? I’m tired of restraining myself for fear of scaring a guy into thinking I want to settle down and be exclusive. That’s not on my mind right now. I just want the freedom to feel what I’m feeling, and that involves a heaping dose of passion. I want the freedom to be me.
When someone kisses me and tells me they’re interested, after I tell them when I want, this is what I DON’T expect to happen: not hearing from them again until the next time we’re out with mutual friends. It happens to the best of us—and we all know the best includes me! Apparently I need to make myself even clearer: I don’t play those games, so don’t fuck with me. Each time something like this happens, Sally and I discuss the many ways that people suck over a bottle of wine [it’s wonderfully cliché, you should try it]. What constantly happens is her exasperated, “What is wrong with men?”, and my immediate, “These aren’t men—they’re boys.” When this weak or wishy-washy behavior happens, you’re clearly dealing with a Peter Pan of some sort who needs to grow a pair. So move on, Wendy, and find a man who knows what he wants, or at least wants to figure it out.
So if I tell this to someone I’ve sparked with, and he says he wants it, that communicates a green light to me. Because when other people talk, I actually listen. If you tell me something, I’m going to take you at your word. Being genuine might come naturally, but honesty takes some serious backbone. Saying what you mean isn’t always easy, or comfortable, or expedient. This isn’t naïveté, it’s a solid expectation. An expectation that you aren’t a liar with your fingers crossed behind your back, or a wimp that will later bitch out on the follow-through. I don’t use my words just because they feel right in that moment, or because it’ll get me what I want for the night– I speak because it’s true.
I expect better from the people I spend my time with. It isn’t a standard I will ever lower; it’s a deal-breaker. It might come off as the cause of many-a-sticky-situation, but really it’s very straightforward. Say what you mean, mean what you say– or get the hell out of my way. It’s that simple. Whether it’s balls or ovaries, we all need to man- and woman-up and grow a pair.
I have the audacity to go for what I want. Do you?
And because the lyrics crack me up so perfectly, I have to include your Ke$ha dose for the month. It’s true– when you grow a pair, you can call me back.
In the past month, I have had friends tell me they’re breaking up, changing jobs, moving houses, or switching cities in general– there is clearly something in the air.
To me, spring cleaning is intensely cathartic. Out with the old, in with the new! It’s all about brushing off the cobwebs, sweeping away the dust, and reestablishing a sense of order and rightness to your life. [Clearly Snow White is more than a simple doppelgänger for me; have I mentioned my apple crisp is legendary?] With this sort of meditation, you’re cleansing yourself both physically and mentally. Gotta love multi-tasking!
So we all switch out our clothes for the colorful and carefree, call friends more often to picnic or happy hour together, and suddenly the entire world seem more appealing and fun. In order to help everyone else de-clutter their lives as squeaky-clean as I have the past week, I’ve made a nifty list of what I’m getting myself into. The first are more expected suggestions; the latter ones, a few extra amusing ideas from yours truly.
–The Kitchen: In my world, a home starts in the kitchen. It’s where you cook and bake and people come together, and ours was falling woefully behind any generally-accepted condition of ‘home-y’ this past winter. So I’ve attacked the entire fridge for a [mildly disturbing] clean, scrubbed our stove, scoured the cabinets, and washed the windows. All that’s needed now is a thorough [read: violent] mopping and fresh coat of paint on the walls. [Just got the okay from our landlords– who likes red kitchens?]
–Yardwork: no one wants to party with untrimmed hedges– so get to work! I’ll admit, I’ve only cleaned up the front porch and walkway, but this weekend will be dedicated to tackling the backyard. A jungle seems to grow at a frightening speed at our little bungalow here, but I’m determined to take advantage of having backyard space and hosting people here more often. This means clean patio furniture, pruned veggie plants, and sparkly garden lights, people, so get to Target! [And if you ever want me to grace your potlucks with my presence, please include Citronella candles; DC mosquitos are frighteningly prehistoric!]
– Phone contacts: I went through a deleted all the old college classmates I’ll never hit up, ex-flings I’ll definitely never hit up again, and all those mystery numbers that find their way into your phone after a late-night partying; not sure where they come from (okay, I lied; it’s all the club’s fault, they always appear after going out in Dupont).
– Personal projects: You know there’s a mountain of things you want to do, but sweep under the rug in the back of your mind. For me, it’s finishing paintings like the world map I’ve been working on for over a year, and the pile of presents I’ve been making for a certain sister of mine. I’ve wanted to paint my room since I moved in [also a year ago], and have half a dozen articles of clothing that need mending in my sewing bag. I want to de-clutter my closet/life, and donate a bundle of things to the local charity store, Martha’s Table, since I can’t afford monetary support right now.
My Spring-Forward Resolutions
I want to get a pet goldfish, because taking care of something else always helps remind me to take care of myself. (Though I’m not sure what it inevitably dying will remind me of…) I never seem to really get into the idea of New Year’s Resolutions, and gave up Lent along with going to church back in the day– but every spring, I always seem to dedicate [or re-dedicate] myself to little self-improvements. This year, I’m going to stop biting my nails. Regardless of the increasing severity of my finances, I’m going to get involved in local volunteering and charities more. I’m going to drink less (which will help with my finances as well as health!) and exercise more. I’ve gotta get back to practicing/ expanding my Arabic and French skills. And I really need to keep up with keeping my room clean.
And what it always comes back to, here at Dating the District: ROMANCE.
Reorganized and reenergized, you are in a much better position to get back out there. No, I’m still not personally looking for a monogamous relationship, but I’m definitely open for some adventure. More to come on the concept, but I’ve realized what I want is a passionate affair. Something fun, exciting, and maybe a little bit daring– but not committed and certainly socially no one else’s business. So my next move is to keep an eye out for an exceptionally awesome guy that might fit the bill. I know he’s out there somewhere, in such a hot-blooded city. We’ll find each other.
I’d ask you if anyone comes to mind, but it would ruin the whole point if you knew about it. It’s going to be our little secret.
Good luck with your spring cleaning and summer secrets, readers. I sure as hell know I’m going to enjoy mine, just as much as I enjoy the delicious intensity of Andrew Bird’s song, How Indiscreet.
I am the proud and vocal veteran of four Vagina Monologue casts. In college and since, I have learned my most valuable lessons as a VDAY girl about sexuality, love, relationships, and self-esteem. And yet, men still surprise me. It’s a mystery that I’ll never fully understand; I’m okay with that.
The next clue to tip me off that Stealth Hippie isn’t your average 20-something guy: his intuition in bed. Not only is he surprisingly dominant, but after the first time sleeping together, he boldly asked about my side of things.
I don’t think I’ve had a guy openly ask, “Do you orgasm?” with the knowledge that there are women out there that actually don’t. Guys know that women don’t always, but when I laughed a little and said of course I do, he countered with, “Well, I know some women don’t. Since you didn’t just now, I wanted to know.”
If that didn’t blow me away, the next bit would.
“So, what gets you over the edge, then?”
Not only did he notice I hadn’t orgasmed the first time we had sex, but he was both comfortable and knowledgeable enough to broach the topic? Curiousier and curiousier!
The most disturbing part was that I didn’t know how to respond. As a Vagina Monologue girl, I know a lot about sex, exploration, and the female body. It goes with the territory. I know all about sex toys, though I’ve never had the money to actually invest in one for myself [I know… it’s next on my list, once I get a real job and can comfortably afford rent]. I’ve read articles, advice columns, and journals regarding sexology. My women’s studies and sociology classes explored sexuality openly. As a card-carrying geek, I intellectually know all of this.
But that doesn’t exactly prepare you for real life. I might have a solid number of past partners, but they were all too transient to learn much about myself. One relationship of six months is about all I have in the way of genuine introspection into what works for me. In that way, I’m still pretty new at this and need to figure things out.
So I responded that yes, women are all wired differently. Some orgasm easily, some not at all, and others take a little work. I tend to fall in the last category—it’s happened before, but not every time. He asked, when I do orgasm, if it’s really intense. Nodding, I laughed a little, commenting on his intuition. He chalks it up to being a younger child in a family of females. He says younger kids pay attention and pick up things, while older children are assertive and get things done. Without saying anything, I laughed again and confirmed that yes, I am an older sibling and definitely the bossy one of my brood.
Then he asked again what it takes, and went on to ask about masturbation, toys, and positions. The guy was blowing me away, with the calm way he was discussing what I’ve always seen as a female issue. Talking about this kind of topic can make you feel pretty vulnerable. To be honest, though, this is the kind of exposure I appreciate—it’s a sensitive subject, and he wanted to know. He wanted to know ME.
I ended up saying that variety has always served me well, and definitely intensity. Feeling like I’m entirely consumed by the connection, stimulated by everything in him. It’s all about the experience for me, not the biology. If I’m fascinated, that means my entire mind and body’s attention will be focused enough to click. What works for me is someone who can match my passion, offering as much as he’s taking. Assertive personalities tend to fit the best. Not only rough, though I do lean in that direction more often. But just that. Intense.
Yes, all men should concern themselves with the satisfaction of their sex partners. My male friends all claim to be dedicated to it, including the ones I’ve slept with. [And yes, I’ve actually never really been disappointed with my choice of partner. Several of them would discuss or even ask questions, since they knew I’m open about it.] For the most part, though, they would talk a lot of talk, and I knew from conversations with their partners that their walk needed a bit of work. It’s mostly pride and not enough proof. But this was somehow different.
It was genuine. Intense. I still have a lot to learn about myself and my body, but that didn’t seem to put him off. I’m cautious to say that he might be along for the ride. Much like his controlled vibe, this focus made me shiver. And I’m fascinated.