Showing posts with label dating. Show all posts
Showing posts with label dating. Show all posts

a potential cure for jealousy

I've fangirled for The School of Life before, and I'm sure I'll do it again. I don't think the importance of emotional intelligence, humility, and self-awareness (all of which SOL triumphs), can be overstated. And this video about flirting is a surprising new favorite.

Historically speaking, I've been a terribly jealous partner. In 99/100 cases (how sad to think there could have been that many!), the jealousy had less to do with feeling genuinely threatened by an interloper than with facing my own insecurities; I am nothing if not well-versed in and thoroughly convinced of my inadequacies.

Watching a partner get chatted up by someone (that I perceive as) more accomplished, more successful, more this or more that - has always been an exquisite form of torture. He likes her more than me. He relates to her more than me. They have more in common. I'm not worthy, and she's helping to make that clear to him. 

Lovely, I know.

Anyway, this video takes the concept of flirting and makes something really sweet out of it.



I love the idea of a "redistribution" of confidence. I love the idea of my boyfriend - of anyone I care about - getting a harmless dose of it. Feeling just a bit more handsome, or walking just a bit taller after a throwaway conversation with a member of the opposite sex.

It's almost comical how quickly this philosophy of flirting dissolved at least one gnarly arm of my own green eyed monster.

sunny, sweet, and sexy

It feels like ages since I've had pics to post, of anything other than Chaucer's mug--which, don't get me wrong, remains my favorite view. But today I have some. Not gonna lie: it feels nice to be able to do that again.

I spent last weekend holed up in what could arguably called a cabin, in Malibu, with no cell reception, and really no one around that we could see. We being my companion and I. Person of interest. Person I am dating. Person I've known for I guess seven weeks now? Person. Person who found the rental, booked the weekend, treated me, and spoiled me over the course of two and a half days with meals, gifts, and thoughtful little gestures.

The place was adorable. Pure, southwestern-ish boho charm, totally one of a kind. Twin octagon rooms connected by a small stairway. Skylights. Spacious, octagon-shaped patio. Dreamy little aerie of a loft. And the shower? Was a freakin' stone grotto. Check it:













I had nothing to do with the above spread. I woke up to that, fully prepared, waiting for me on the kitchen counter. Chocolate milk on ice in a champagne bucket. Along with Prosecco. Yeah.

Not pictured: the stop we made at the Getty Villa, on the way up. Took a tour. Goofed around and laughed, and made impatient bedroom eyes at one another.

We had decided ahead of time that we just wanted to stay in and be chill for the whole weekend, not mess with fighting crowds or waiting for tables at restaurants and bars. So we stopped at the store on the way there, stocked up, and cooked for ourselves the whole weekend. He ended up out-cooking me, which was some bullshit as it was his birthday and shouldn't have done a damn thing other than relax. But so it went. And he's a brilliant cook.

We made the very most of our time there. Long, idling dinners under the patio's string lights, and surrounded by the dozens of votives he'd brought along. We lay on the sofa, playing music for one another, some of it from a playlist we'd collaborated on, some we'd think of on the spot, that we wanted the other to hear. Then we turned off the lights, rolled out yoga mats, layered them with beach towels, and lay under the stars. We both brought small surprises for one another. We explored within and without.

And it was all just so fucking lovely. As sunny, sweet, and sexy as I hope the snapshots convey.

getting better

Well, hey there old friends. I've missed you. So much has happened since last we talked. Some of it wonderful, some of it terrible. I'm just going to dive in, get you caught up as quickly as possible. The sooner we dispense with the past, the sooner we can spread a picnic blanket out in the sun and enjoy the present.

I moved out of downtown into a new loft in Koreatown, in the middle of a heatwave, with no AC. Now, you're probably thinking, How the hell did you manage to do something so stupid, Ellie? And I'll tell you: I do not know. Maybe because of everything else that had been going on, it slipped my mind. Maybe because when I'd visited the apartment previously, it hadn't been so hot as to make me notice there was a problem--or would be. Or maybe I am just an absolute imbecile. Either way: no AC.

I quit my job. I could write volumes about why and how, but in the end it doesn't matter. It wasn't a good fit for me, for many reasons, but strangely the straw that broke the camel's back was the hours. I hated the late hours. I hated coming home at ten o'clock at night, or later. I hated missing every sunset. I hated not being able to go to dinner, to happy hour with friends. And, frankly, I wasn't being paid enough. So I bailed.

I was the victim of a crime. It's nothing I'm going to talk about though, because I'm fine now and I just want to move on.

I came into some financial difficulty, thanks in part to my own bad decisions and thanks in part to some major mistakes made by my accountant, in the filing of my dad's estate taxes.

Those are the broad strokes. But there was a lot more to it all. A lot more ugliness and a lot more struggle. And I've thought and thought about how much I want to go into it, how much I want to share. And I've come to the conclusion that I just want to press ahead. There are two main takeaways, though, from my past two months: 1) that my friends are among some of the most loving, patient, devoted, and generally incredible people in the world, and 2) wow did I have some growing to do.

The one good reason I could name, to open up about everything that's happened recently, would be so I could explicitly describe all the ways in which my friends were there for me. Because we're talking boots-on-the-ground there for me. Picking me up, dusting me off, and putting me back on my feet several times a day there for me.

When I found myself walking dazedly out of the police station, my face stained with shocked tears and unsure where to even go, my phone blew up with a group text. Three of my best friends had already conferenced privately before teaming up to reach out to me, ready to walk me through every difficult thing I needed to do next. They were, collectively, furious about what had happened to me, and their anger and indignation was the one thing that made me feel not alone. They helped me locate the resources I needed. They checked in with me every step of the way. They cracked jokes when humor was the best medicine, and they reassured me in those moments when I lost faith.

When I froze up at having to look for a new job, they came through again. One of them started my resume for me. Another made a timeline for me to follow, with due dates for submitting applications and securing interviews, and for creating a new personal budget. One of them called me almost every day on his way home from work, to coach and cheerlead me back into action. And they all sent me money, or offered to.

When I couldn't find an AC unit anywhere in the great metropolis of Los Angeles, one of my friends MacGyver'd me a fucking rolling cooler AC using copper tubing, an aquarium pump, and a fan. He brought me loads of groceries and bottled water which, not having a car, is a perpetual challenge for me to keep stocked.

Another of my friends connected me to an attorney who ended up being the real unsung hero in this story. Lots of unsung heroes in this story, unfortunately.

---

And then there is how all of what I went through has affected me, emotionally. And how I've changed because of it. How I've grown. And that is much more difficult to write about. But here is some of it:

I almost broke, but I didn't. I mean, I did break. I broke down. So many times. So, so, many breakdowns. Oh god, you can't imagine how many tears. How much fury at the world, at myself, at others. How much hopelessness and despair, despite the love and support that was given to me. How many times I gave up, for days and days at a time. Hid from scary responsibility. Delayed the inevitable. Procrastinated difficult choices.

I broke a little, but I didn't break to the point of not being able to put myself together again. That I did not do. Slowly, eventually, the crying spells turned into quiet spells. Thinking spells. I decided I needed some new tools. New coping resources. New ideas about old bad habits. And those are the changes I'm in the middle of now.

I've started meditating. Honest-to-goodness meditating. Oh boy would that piss Terence off, but there it is. I've started journaling privately, focusing on gratitude and self-esteem. I'm learning the simple but astounding power of deep breathing. Of taking five minutes - the length of one carefully chosen song, to listen to through headphones in the bedroom, out of Chaucer's view - to cry when I need to....but no longer than that.

No longer than that.

I'm reading Unstuck, and I'm addicted to The School of Life YouTube channel. In both cases, I'm amazed at how long it's taken someone to say such important, helpful things so beautifully.

But most notably, I'm in the throes of an epiphany and its concomitant conclusions, and it is this: I've always self-deprecatingly referred to myself as a self-saboteur, but I never realized just how serious a condition it is. And I get it now. And I get why I am: I am used to success in many realms of my life. Friends, health, fitness, romance, creative endeavors. But career? Nope. That is an area in which I have always stumbled. And because of that, I actually shun success. I run from it it. And that has been the biggest hurdle for me to clear, in getting past this difficult time in my life.

Example: I had a day where I got three leads in a single day, as a result of having applied to four jobs the day before. And rather than excitedly pursue all of those leads, I froze. I didn't return calls. I found reasons not to want the jobs anymore. (Eventually I returned the calls, and even got two interviews out of them.) What the hell, right? But it's because I'm unused to professional success, so it feels weird and foreign and scary to me, like the bottom will drop out any second. Like disaster is lurking right around the corner, waiting for me to fuck up.

Anyway, that is a very abridged picture of what my past couple of months have looked like. I didn't feel like blogging. I didn't know what to say. It would have been an endless stream of complaining, of bad news. I couldn't have faked it. So I didn't even try. But I'm back now. I'm almost totally on my feet again. Things are moving along, and though I don't have a job yet, the reins are firmly in hand and I expect to very soon. Hooray.

Oh. There is one more thing.

I met someone.

And because I know he'll see this, and because I can already picture the nervous smile spreading across his face, I'm going to be very clear in saying: his privacy shall be of my utmost priority, no matter what, no matter how badly I want to share. Because...he's kind of amazing. He's kind and smart and considerate and incredibly affectionate. He's the best communicator with whom I have ever had the delight to engage, in every sense of the word. He's expressive and caring and sexy as all fuck, and I am so enjoying his company, which, to brag about one tiny thing, I shared this past weekend at a bungalow deep in the hills of Malibu.

So, yeah. It hasn't been all bad. And it's getting better all the time.

9.25.13

Had originally put one of these on IG, but I pulled it because I feel like kind of an asshole who's been all OH HAI LOOKIT MY PIC KTHX NOW IMMA DISPEAR AND NOT SEE URS HA HA BYEEEE lately. So I'm banning myself from posting until I've been a better team player for a while. Sorry you guys. I've been a bit, erm, distracted.

However! Last night was sort of milestone-y, and I want to remember it.



#gongshowkaraoke
#Imwiththepanda
#yeahthatone
#theonethatglows
#nopeIdidnotalterthephoto
#thatsallnatural
#naturalpanda
#deliciousdeliciouspanda
#someonepinchme
#seriouslyWTF
#isthisthereallife
#isthisjustpandasy
#jarjarjarjarjarjar

happening

Sunday night. I'm at The Vaccines show downtown. I've taken a cab and I'm by myself, sore-footed and nervous about the crowd, but determined to stand my ground. I've been waiting months for this, and have grown fairly obsessed with the band since seeing them at Bonnaroo. The second opener has finished, but the set up for the main act is taking what feels like forever - they won't go on until almost 11.

I've been making small talk with the young couple next to me, who want to know why I'm here alone. I explain that I do this a lot. That it doesn't bother me, and that I only go to concerts where the music is all that matters to me, anyway. The guy presses, presumably in an effort to set me up with the stag friend who stands nearby, clearly listening but pretending not to. "You don't have a date?"

"My would-be date had another show to go to tonight, or he would have come." I'm smiling because I know this is true, and because the fact of it makes me stupidly happy. But the expression I get in return is exaggeratedly skeptical.

"Better than The Vaccines?"  Serious fans, apparently. 

Like magic, my phone lights up with a short video text. I share it with my concert buddies. The three of us watch a six second clip of the red carpet outside the Nokia Theater just a few blocks from where we are. A flash of ball gowns, tuxes, and then a dark-haired man in sunglasses, helpfully narrating "Red carpet!" before hitting the stop button. The man is said would-be date, fulfilling my request for video from his event. As soon as The Vaccines take the stage, I'll fulfill his request for video from mine.

- Gah, can't hear it, but you look so cute. Still waiting, think they're about to go on. First opener was pretty decent, second was horrific.

- I miss you! You are in for the Fox afterparty btw. It's near 7th and Fig if you wanna come after. ...My dad just flirted with Paula Abdul like crazy. He made me take their photo.

- LOL that second text is like the best thing ever. ...Miss you too. My concert buddies are this really cute couple who adopted me since I'm alone.

- Awww want me to come by?

- No no, stay and party with celebs! I'll text you when I get out of here. They STILL haven't gone on.

A minute later:

- Celebrities, free food and drinks, and I'm still bored. Guess I must like you or somethin. =)

- Okay well that made my night.

- Just helped the kid from Modern Family get some pizza. #foxafterparty #emmys

- LOL was that supposed to be a tweet?

- Tried it on you first. ;)

After the show (which is the funnest I've been to in LA, despite my desperately aching appendage), he and I wage independent battles in an effort to communicate and coordinate plans: me, with my painfully throbbing foot, as I hobble away from the theater; him, with a dying iPhone battery. He ends up using his father's cell to send me info about the party, which is ending in twenty minutes. There's no way I can get to it in time with my limp, even as close as it is. And anyway, I'm in ripped jeans and a tank top. Hardly awards show appropriate.

- Hey, just got out. Already 12:11 and I'm slooooow without crutches, so I'm gonna try and catch a cab home.

- Ok I think it might go later cuz lotsa people still here. Or meet you at your place?

- No no! Dude, stay! Emmy after party, are you kidding?? Mingle!

- Haha, thanks but I'm done here. And I wanna see yooouuu.

- Okay well if you're sure, then yeah of course.

- Aaah ok best part of my night. And I talked with Joey from friends so there you go.

- Yessss!

I'm sitting on my kitchen island, mangling a kiwi, when he gets to my place. He knocks before slowly opening the door and peering around at me, a huge, drunken grin on his face. I haven't seen him in just under a day. In the interim, he's gotten a hair cut. Gone are the wispy curls at his neck that I've been playing with for two+ weeks, but the new look is even sexier. Clean and modern, still with enough length to keep him looking boyish. His hair combined with the gorgeous suit he's wearing are too much. I don't even bother with compliments. I just shake my head, shooing an excited Chaucer away from his immaculate clothing.

He joins me. Kisses me. Wraps his arms around me. "Hello, beautiful." He's hammered, I'm stone cold sober, but we're both over the moon. We're both high from the respective fun of our evenings apart, and now giddy to see one another again. We swap stories from our nights. Laughing and talking and kissing and more laughing. I'm mentally pinching myself nonstop.

This is really happening.

---

Leaning over me, I'm on my back, staring up at his perfect face. One of the moments that's coming fast and furious and fucking awesome. And he says it. It slips out, but not really. It's deliberate. He backs away from it immediately, though, knowing he has to - but without losing the smile on his face.

I'm smiling too, but I shake my head. I tuck a piece of hair behind his ear and look at him, amazed. Really? This is real? "You don't, yet. You don't know me well enough to know that. And I don't know you well enough yet, either." He nods. "But you're in love with what's happening," I continue, tasting the magic of the word, so long forgotten, on my tongue. "And so am I. We can say that."

And so we devise a plan. "You're right," he says. "We'll just put it on the shelf for now."

"Exactly," I say. "A jar on a shelf. And every time you think it or feel it, mentally throw it into the jar." The next part I illustrate with my hands. "And when we're ready, we'll take it down, open it up, and pour it all over us." I unscrew an invisible vessel and spill its contents onto my body. "Okay?"

The way he's looking at me squeezes my heart so hard it threatens to stop beating. "That's beautiful," he says, and kisses me.

And now instead, for the time being - as a placeholder - we're saying "jar." Jar or JAAAARRRR or Fuck yeah jar. We say it because we need to say something, when that uncontainable feeling of excitement and joy, that we can't call anything else yet - not yet - takes all the other words away.

Today in response to a silly thing I sent him, to make him laugh, he simply texted me back a picture of a jar. I just stared at it for a minute, imagining it filling up with tiny slips of paper, saying the thing we are not saying yet.

It's really happening.

---

He's in Hollywood, stumbles upon a Paul McCartney sound check for a Jimmy Kimmel taping later that day. Texts me to tell me about it, sends video. Such a rad LA life moment, I say.

And you, you are a part of my rad LA moment. =)

That is what he says back to me. That is a real thing, that is said to me, by a real man, who really likes me, for some crazy reason. Really.

Because this is really happening.

---

So why is this happening? I'll tell you. I'm happy to. God, I am so happy to.

It's happening because finally, and maybe for the first time in my life, I have found someone been found by someone who is one hundred percent open and ready to love and be loved. Someone who is in touch with himself, whose emotional IQ is off the fucking charts, and who shows me care and consideration in word and deed, whether he's by my side or on the other side of town.

He listens to me when I speak. He puts his phone off and away and focuses completely on being present, so we can talk and laugh and be intimate without distraction. Last night he walked across my apartment to take me in his arms and just look me in the eye for a moment, because I happened to have said something random about my father, and he caught the slightest vibration of melancholy in my voice. This is the kind of person he is.

If in texting we have a moment of confusion or miscommunication, he picks up the phone to call me. Maybe I'm crazy, maybe my sense of what is right and good has been completely skewed over the last several years, but I find this to be totally amazing and remarkable. As in, here I am remarking upon it. The guy I'm dating picks up the fucking phone to call me.

He is spilling over with empathy and kindness and joy. I've never met someone so infectious of spirit, and I can't get enough of that spirit. He is unafraid to be silly and goofy, and he'll laugh at himself quicker than at anyone else. The hardest I've seen him laugh was just last night, because I was teasing him about something he fixed us for dinner. And watching him double over with laughter in my kitchen, unable to even press the buttons on the microwave until he caught his breath - that may be the most beautiful thing I have ever seen.

And I have been to French Fucking Polynesia.

It is a really dumb thing to say, to just say Oh gosh, we laugh a lot. Because show us Ellie. Tell us what's so funny. But I can't. I can't possibly recreate every ridiculous conversation we've had that has absolutely reduced me to tears, because I am laughing so hard. In the grocery store last night, screwing around on my scooter and making a scene. So much fun. I feel like I'm in high school. We play off of one another's sense of humor in the most perfect way, and I can't wait to see what he's going to do or say next. We had an entire text conversation today that consisted of memes we made up based on inside jokes we've already piled up - and a .gif-off. One of his meme pics to me was the Confession Bear, and do you know what the confession was? It was "You are making me the happiest I've been in a long long time."

That is a real thing that was said to me, yesterday.

I am trying to remember to breathe.

And speaking of confessions. I confessed to him, the day after I'd stalked the hell out of his acting portfolio, how impressed by him I was. How excited for him I am, to see someone doing what they love, and do it well and happily. And he confessed back to me that he'd read my writing, and that he thinks I am brilliant. That was the word he used, to describe the work I've done, that he took the initiative to seek out on his own. He confessed he'd shared my writing with others, too, though I didn't ask who, because I am shy and I don't want to be any more self-conscious than I already am. Hello, strangers who I hope will be friends. I'm Ellie, and I'm crazy about the guy who pointed you at this weird little world of mine.

He is grateful and appreciative of the time we spend together - he even said those words. "I'm grateful for this," he said.

He said this to me, as he held me and looked in my eyes. And I believe it. Because he returns all of the affection and attention I give him. He mirrors it and makes me feel - down to the cells in my body - that he doesn't take it for granted, that every bit of it is being soaked up, happily. His heart is on his sleeve in the most breathtaking and beautiful way. God it is so beautiful. And the best part is that in being like that, he gives me permission to wear mine there, too. To just put myself out there as someone who is happiest when she has someone to love and be loved by.

Someone who, after all the grief and trauma of her past few years, is finally, truly ready for it.

So that is why all of this is happening, and happening so quickly. I got luckier than maybe I have ever been, and happened to be in the right place at the right time, to connect with someone who has love to give, and is ready to receive love back. Never mind how ridiculously, comically handsome he is, because that? That isn't even what matters. That is just a bonus so huge all I can do is laugh about it, because good grief, how lucky can one girl get? What matters is what I know so far of what's on the inside of this man. And what I am seeing is blowing my mind more every minute.

I've shared a lot of extremely personal stuff here, right now, and while it gives me pause to do so, I've made the decision to go ahead and post it, because it is a gorgeous thing that has been happening to me and I want to celebrate it and remember it, always, no matter what happens tomorrow or the next day. Because life. And because you never know.

And I'm sharing it because you guys have been with me on this sometimes crazy, sometimes stupid, sometimes thrilling, sometimes embarrassing, sometimes heartbreaking journey I've been on for years now. Years. And you've watched me ride the roller coaster of romance and go up-up-up and then come tumbling down, hard, and stay down for months and months at a time.

And because so many of you have been so loving and kind and warm to me, have reached out with your support and friendship, I feel okay - even good - about sharing these intensely personal moments with you, because my god, you've been there for me, and I'm grateful. I'm okay with sharing these things at first, because it is this whirlwind that is happening and if my instincts count for anything, it's only just barely starting and there will be so, so much more for he and I to have just for ourselves, to keep special and private. And I will pull the curtain shut now, I know I will, because that is what's right. That's how it should be.

But right now, tonight, I was too damn happy to keep it all to myself, at least these first little bits. Because I wanted you to know. I wanted you guys to know. This is where I share my life, and this is my life.

It's really happening.

c'est si bon

I almost blew off our first date. He doesn't know this, but it's true. I almost didn't go, because I was sure he was too young. I had him at ten years my junior, easily. Maybe I didn't look at him closely enough when we met. Maybe I was so self-conscious about being on my goofy knee scooter, feeling too awkward and shy to really take a good look at him, when he handed me his card. I don't know though, because even now when I stare (yes, stare) at him, I still marvel that he'll be thirty-six in a matter of days. He is the most boyish looking guy I've ever had the pleasure to mutually, sheepishly grin at, for minutes at a time.

It's probably the dimple.

There's just the one, hiding to the right of his smile, which itself doesn't hide for more than a few moments before reappearing to light up his face. And my face. And whatever room he's in. (Yep, it's going to be that sort of post. Sorry, you guys.)

Anyway, it almost didn't happen. I almost canceled at the last minute, because after the last unsuccessful foray into younger dudes, I had sworn to myself I wasn't going to go there again, so help me god. And I was 100% convinced he was in that camp - the younger-dude-who-initially-mistakes-Ellie-as-a-younger-chick camp (the number of displaced refugees at this camp truly constitutes a humanitarian disaster).

And the first three minutes of the date were terrible. I was a hot, cranky mess (nothing like being on crutches in a heat wave!). I felt embarrassed and uncomfortable, clumsily hobbling out of the heavy lobby door to where he waited outside for me, smiling sympathetically and looking so intimidatingly polished and hip and cute and fucking tall. As he walked slowly beside me, ticking off boxes on the standard list of first date questions, I sweated and inwardly groused, flustered and annoyed at myself for not having bowed out and stayed at home, off my dumb and useless foot.

But then, as we were mere feet from the bar entrance, he mentioned having been on the French version of a TV show that instantly gave him away as older than I'd previously thought. I stopped dead in my tracks. "Wait, how old are you?" I asked, looking at him in surprise. And when he told me, and I realized Holy shit, he's actually age-appropriate and someone I could take seriously, my level of fluster rose to a catastrophic degree. It was all I could do to limp to a barstool, catch my breath, and take the two minutes he spent inside fetching us drinks to recalibrate my expectations for the evening.

I was a bundle of nerves by the time he returned with cocktails. He was too good-looking, I was too unnerved by my limited physicality and by the shock of being so wrong about his age, and having gone into the date with such a fuck it attitude. Also, it was so goddamn hot. I practically shot my Negroni in an effort to relax a little bit.

We talked and talked and drank and talked, and I unwound enough to open up. I confessed to him how hard on me, emotionally, my accident had been, and that I was scared my foot wouldn't heal correctly. He gave me the broad strokes on his upbringing, his education, his interests. Tipsy, I took a shot at speaking a bit of French with him, but quickly gave up when I misunderstood his pronunciation of Serge Gainsbourg. I eased into the date, unsure of how into me he was.

And then he kissed me.

He did it when I stood up to go to the bathroom. He stood up, too, to hold me steady while I gathered my crutches. And he just went for it. And it was awesome. And he smiled at me with his enormous eyes and something inside of me went warm, and I felt strangely...safe.

And that was sixteen days ago.

And in the sixteen days since, we have been spending time together, in the limited ways and places that we can, since I am still not back to walking.

And it has been great.

He is expressive and open-hearted and emotionally available in a way that I'd cynically and only half-jokingly come to the conclusion wasn't on the menu. He's incredibly sweet and empathetic. He's into self-examination and personal growth, which impresses and inspires me. He's sensual and playful, and I about die when he whispers to me in French. I. Just. About. Die. He's vulnerable and communicative and extremely demonstrative and affectionate. He's been unafraid to let me know that he's into me, and in fact that openness has left me sort of breathless at times, and had the weird effect of blocking me, creatively. Because I don't want to jinx it, and I don't want to taint it, and when I talk about it - and him - I want to do so in a way that does justice to what I'm experiencing, which is this really nice feeling of anticipation and excitement, but also a dash of nervousness, because who wants to get hurt?

No one. No one wants to get hurt.

We have mostly passed our time having meals and drinks downtown, and hanging out in my apartment, listening to music and talking for hours at a stretch. We've had a couple of marathon, spill-over-into-the-next-afternoon type dates. We laugh a lot at silly things, because we seem to have the same cornball sense of humor that occasionally dips into cleverness, but is mostly just us cracking up at some dumb thing we know is dumb but can't help finding funny anyway. A few nights ago he blessed a kiwi before I put it back into the fridge, and we couldn't stay upright, because we found this so hysterical.

We were completely sober.

I went to dinner with he and his (visiting) father a couple nights ago, and making him giggle with comments under my breath was the most fun I've had with a guy in ages. When he played some of his recorded music for me, I was rolling around in the bed, biting the pillow lest I shriek with delight - not just because he is so creative and the songs are so fun, but because I can't help but be secretly ecstatic that I'm dating a singer/songwriter who, if I saw on stage, I'd probably crush on instantly.

Maybe you've noticed I'm into music?

Just a few days ago, I watched him act. That was something I'd sort of subconsciously pushed aside, for various, complicated reasons. But I finally went through and watched some of the short projects he's done, and it made me so, so excited for him, because he is truly talented and so damn watchable, in my opinion. I am excited for him because I think he should be performing, because he is undeniably magnetic and fun to watch.

I told him a few days ago that this post was going to be difficult for me, whenever it finally came. The one where I "announced" or "revealed" or whatever dumb, self-absorbed sounding word I have to put on it because I am a blogger, to say that I'm seeing someone new.

And I explained that since I blog, even though my readership is tiny, connecting to me through social media will necessarily open him up to being in a spotlight of sorts. I explained that my readers are the coolest fucking people ever, but that I cannot control everything and everyone, and there might be some awkwardness or even unwanted attention if he interacts with me in the same spaces that I do with my internet friends. I let him make the decision as to how he wanted to handle it. I expressed particular concern over Instagram, because sometimes I talk about my blog there. But I have a feeling that if things continue as they have been, we're going to press ahead and have fun together on social media, because it's something we both enjoy.

I don't know how, if at all, this will affect my blogging and gramming, though maybe at first it'll make me a bit self-conscious and protective? I guess I'll see.

And now you know what's been happening, here behind the scenes at Elliequent, with me and someone fun and sweet and definitely special.

And it's good.

C'est si bon.

black mark

"Would you live in New York, if you could?"

He was leaning back in his chair, his body angled sharply away from me and his legs crossed. The noises of the busy cafe had already set my nerves on end - the tinny crashing of porcelain saucers against marble tabletops; the heavy din of caffeinated conversation bouncing off unadorned walls. I was exhausted. It was exhausting trying to figure this person out. What he wanted from me. What he was willing to give back in return. 

"Would I live in New York?" I echoed, surprised. Of the few personal questions he'd asked me, this one was especially unexpected. It was apropos of nothing, as best I could tell, and it felt accusatory. I felt my mind limbering up to do the mental gymnastics required to win one of his smiles. 

"Yeah," he said. Then, after a pause: "You just seem like the kind of person who'd live in New York."

And that's when I knew. It wasn't a question. It wasn't even a trap. It was simply another nail in a coffin he'd been constructing for weeks. He already knew the answer, and he already didn't like it. Which is precisely why he'd asked it. It was one more shovel full of dirt to throw on what he saw as a dead end. I was just making it that much easier for him, by being exactly who he knew I was.

His disapproval settled on my skin like ash while I struggled to answer honestly. The truth was I would, of course I would. But I wouldn't want to stay there. Not forever. That would be too much. But as I cobbled together my reply, I saw in his eyes that he'd already checked out of the conversation. 

It was the last black mark I'd be given a chance to earn. Later I'd think back and tally the others, clues to my inadequacy delivered via small, cutting remarks and condescending cracks that went unregistered by my crush-consumed brain.

Well, I thought, as I watched him float away from me, at least now I can quit with the gymnastics

One injury per summer is plenty. 

half-hearted

The first thing I want to say is that I am drunk. That is the first thing.

The list of categories in my sidebar tells me that this is the not the first time I have done something like this. I do not know what to make of that. Whether that adds legitimacy (?) to this post, or whether it just makes it more pathetic, I am not sure.

In any case, that is the first thing I want to disclaim: I am drunk.

The second thing I want to say is that I love my friends. I mean, fuck do I love them. I can say that it is not exaggeration or hyperbole when I declare that I am alive because of them, because I am. They do not like when I tell them this (I do not blame them), but it is true. I am alive because of my friends. When I am at the absolute end of my rope, the thought of good times and laughs with my friends is the only thing that keeps me tethered. It is the only thing that keeps me from letting go.

All my life I dreamt of having friends like I have now. I don't know what I did wrong, in high school and college and the years afterward. I don't know if I was just a complete asshole, or if the people I was choosing as friends were complete assholes. But I have never ever had friends like I do now. People who save my life without knowing it, with their humor and grace and kindness.

Tonight I went out with mah girl Kerrbear. She is a lovely, wonderful, huge and beautifully hearted person. She has a job she hates, but she works very hard at it. She commutes every day, driving for hours each way. She deserves better, and I have every faith in her that she'll get it, soon, because she is spectacularly dedicated and has a thing which I lack, which is an eye on her long game.

Kerry's long game is amazing. It involves living in Italy. I hope I am allowed to visit.

Anyway.

Tonight, Kerrbear and I went out. We had drinks at one bar, and then another. Lots of drinks. (Also, lots of fried food.)

And I told her. I said, "Kerry, I think I'm going to end it with the dude I have been seeing."

And she made the appropriate face, which was something between sadness and surprise, with understanding thrown in. Because she knows I have liked this dude, and am disappointed that it is not working out.

But I explained to her the thing that I will now explain to you, which is that it could not be clearer how not into me this dude is.

Alas. It sucks, but it is true.

What do you mean, Ellie? you say. How could he not be into you? You are so cool and funny and smart, albeit slightly ridiculous and rather self involved and oh yeah, you're thirty-eight years old and sort of mostly jobless and divorced, and that doesn't exactly recommend you to members of the opposite sex BUT OTHER THAN THAT how could he not be into you?

To which I say, I don't know. It is a thing I have puzzled over for the better part of six weeks, as I have rode the roller coaster which is His Interest Level, which waxes and wanes depending on how close it is to the weekend (i.e., how close it is to the day in which he will be sleeping with me).

I do not know, I tell you verily, but it makes me sad. It makes me sad that at first he seemed very interested in me. Texts and wine and making me dinner and stolen kisses and you know. That sort of thing, which made parts of me (which I will not name lest I embarrass myself further) swell up and feel full of promise.

It makes me sad that despite my doing everything I could in my power to communicate my interest in him, it was not enough to win his interest back.

What do you do? he asked me, understandably, and I tried to explain. I write, I said weakly. I told him I'm writing a novel (which I am! I really am!) and do you know how many times he asked to read something I've written? Any old thing at all?

Zero. He asked zero times.

One day not so very long ago he told me the name of his favorite book, and said I should read it. So do you know what I did? You know, yes. I bought it and downloaded it the very next night and read it. And do you know what he said when I told him I'd done so?

Nothing, basically.

He didn't ask me what I'd thought of it, or express any surprise or appreciation that I'd spent three hours of my life trying to better understand him.

There are, apparently, dudes who will sleep with you, spend an afternoon with you, and then not talk to you for three, four, five days at a time. You can reach out to them and send silly texts to say hello, or just to lob the ball over to their side of the net to say Hey! It's me! Just letting you know you're on my mind, and I'm interested in getting to know you further! - but they will not do the same.

And if you let them, these dudes will continue to do that for weeks on end, under the guise of being OMGbusy.

But it does not take very long to send a thirty second text. In fact, I timed how long it takes to send a thirty second text. It takes thirty seconds.

Also? The only times he ever picked up the phone to call me were to ask for my help with his fundraiser. So that sort of sucked, as well.

Christ I am drunk. Probably screenshot this if you hate me, because it will not stay up long. Or maybe it will. Fuck, I do not know.

This is the saddest thing I have ever written, but also maybe one of the funniest, because I am totally okay with it. I am okay with the fact that some dude is not as into me as I would like, and here I am on the internet being sad about it, like a teenager. It is okay because it is a thing that happens to all of us in our lives. Boy meets girl. One of them likes the other more. Sadness ensues. It doesn't mean I'm not worthy or awesome, or that I won't find someone who CANNOT BELIEVE I haven't been taken already.

Still, I think it's kind of dickish to never even ask to read anything I've written.

I mean, it's what I do.

Anyway.

Now everyone is up to speed. Ellie was seeing a dude who was only half-heartedly interested in her. She realized on Thursday how much that sucks, and decided that she's done with being the object of half-hearted interest.

But she still has fucking awesome friends, and that is something.

Goodnight.

heavier stuff

I published this post a few days ago, and then pulled it, because I realized

Last night, the guy that I've been seeing mentioned the name of a 19th century political tract that he considers one of his favorite pieces of writing. "You should read it," he said. He didn't say why I should, though. I don't know if he wanted me to read it because he thinks I'd find it interesting, or because the ideas in it form the basis of his personal political beliefs - things we talked briefly about over drinks this past Friday night. I don't know if he wanted me to read it because he wants me to better understand the philosophical issues that came up in our talk, or if he wants me to better understand him.

Whatever his reasons were, tonight I did read the piece, for reasons of my own, some of which are listed above, and some of which are not. I'm not someone who typically reads 100+ year old political pamphlets. It would be phony of me to claim intellectual curiosity as a motivating factor. However, if it's a subject about which he's passionate - which it is - then it's something I do want to understand better, because I want to be able to speak with relative confidence about a subject that's important to him. Because I enjoy talking to him. And because I want to know the things that make him tick.

At some point, I assume we'll talk about the piece. I assume, since he encouraged me to read it, that he'll want to know what I think of the ideas in it. And I've been thinking about what I'm going to say to him. I think it'll be something like this:

Right now, I don't care what you think about taxes or gun control or welfare. There are interesting conversations to be had about those things, absolutely. And I recognize that getting to know your beliefs on them will help me better understand you. And maybe the way you feel about those things has something to say about you, fundamentally, as a human being - which will help me know if you're a human being I want to keep spending time with.

But for one thing, I already know we're not so vastly different in our beliefs as for it to be an issue for me. I can only speak for myself, but I don't require that the people I date have political beliefs that match up 100% with my own. I'm usually good with somewhere around 75-80%, provided the other important stuff is in place: trust, communication, mutual respect and care.

And for another, those conversations, while interesting, are also mine fields. And right now I'm enjoying just keeping things lighthearted, because I think laughter and fun are a great foundation to lay down, when you're first getting to know someone. I think those are good things to pave the first few miles of road with. The further we get down that road, the more we know one another, the better chance we have of navigating difficult subjects with success.

So yeah, right now, I don't care about your political beliefs. I care that the other day, you stopped at Walgreen's before coming over, to see if you could find more slushy pops for us. I care that you always take a minute to play with Chaucer when he greets you. I care that when I hobbled back from the bathroom at the bar, you stood up to clear the crowd and help me to my seat. I care that you chose to stay with me Saturday morning and work from my bed, rather than leaving and going into the office. I care that you stay in touch with me even when you're busy, and that you've not once complained about coming downtown to see me for a month straight, since I broke my foot.

And right now, I hope you care less about my political beliefs than the fact that I took the time to read something that's meaningful to you.


What do you say we save the heavier stuff for if and when we've got something solid enough under our feet to support it?

Something like that, is what I think I'll say.

amendment

So, uh, I just re-read the last couple of posts I wrote about the guy I started seeing, and I just want to say this: I barely know this person. I've seen this person, like, a handful of times. I realize upon re-reading them that my posts give the impression that I know him better than I do, probably (especially?) because of the bit about "protective walls." And it's not sitting well with me.

Sometimes I let my writing get carried away with itself. I turn my experiences into stories because for one thing, I want to be a professional storyteller. I need all the practice I can get. And for another, I just enjoy doing so. It's my creative release. Some people paint. Some people cook. Some people make films.

I write florid, slightly gushy blog posts about the men I date. 

I like this person. I've enjoyed getting to know this person. I'm more interested in continuing to get to know this person than I have been with anyone for a while. But yeah, I barely know this person. 

Anyway, that will conclude this edition of Amendments To Blog Posts Written Under the Spell of Post-Date Bliss.

C'est tout.

sheers

I had company on Friday night; he stayed until Saturday afternoon. He brought all the necessary ingredients for stir fry with linguine, a bottle of cabernet, popsicles, and a new toothbrush. After he left, I found the toothbrush resting on my bathroom counter, neatly tucked back into its opened package. I haven't moved it yet. It's been a very long time since someone stationed a sleepover toothbrush at my place.

After dinner (which he cooked), we lay in bed and watched Netflix for a while before going to sleep. He held me all night, lifting the covers for me to climb under when I'd hop back from the bathroom. In the morning we watched more Netflix. I didn't tell him that I'd continued watching Orange is The New Black without him - that I had in fact finished the season. I played dumb and feigned surprise and bit my tongue when he made predictions about the storyline. We ate slushy push up pops that he brought back to bed for us, comparing flavors. We fell back asleep listening to Angus Stone, then woke up and ate more popsicles.

His eyes are bluer than seems reasonable, and looking straight in them for more than a few seconds at a time feels like some kind of theft. Like I'm stealing something I haven't been given the right to even borrow. He reminds me very much of me: in his temperament, in his sense of humor, in the mixture of cynicism about relationships that I sense in our conversations and the optimism about them demonstrated by his actual behavior. When I think about the effort he's putting into spending time with me, considering how far away he lives and works, and how much he has going on in his life at the moment (he's in the middle of planning a huge charity event as well as trying to find a new place to live), and how limited I am without a car - or even two working feet - I find myself a little bit shocked and lot grateful.

It's been a long time since I felt something other than casual ambivalence from a guy.

It's a really nice change.

That being the case, I can feel protective walls going up. This isn't some dude I picked up or was picked up by, and from whom I expect - and want - very little. This isn't someone who's treating me like an option. This is someone I've been spending time with here and there, and getting to know incrementally, and who's making me feel like he's enjoying it as much as I am. I hope it continues, and in the interest of keeping it special and letting it unfold as naturally as possible, I'm going to give it - and him - some privacy. Maybe not blackout curtains, because this is my life, too, and blogging is a part of it - but sheers, anyway. Something to pull open or shut as feels right and respectful.

One of the reasons I blog is I love commemorating the events and people that make an impression on me - the things I don't want to forget. But it's a fine line to walk sometimes, because the places where my experiences intersect with those of others - those are shared spaces that don't belong to me alone. This is me edging up to that line, to remind myself that it's there and real and should be minded.

Some light, some shadow - nothing too clearly defined or exposed, in this particular room in the metaphorical fishbowl that constitutes my life: sheers.

spoon

He texts me at ten o'clock on Friday night, as I'm fixing something to eat. I think you gave me AIDS. Or a cold. Nope, wait, nope, yup. Yup, it's totally a cold. And I probably got it myself. Disregard. 

I feel myself smile, maybe bigger than I have all week. Maybe bigger than I should. I haven't spoken to him since Sunday, and wasn't sure I would again. I saw him only long enough to have a couple of drinks with he and a friend of his, the night following our first date a week ago - and something had seemed off then. I couldn't tell if it was distraction or disinterest or something else, but despite his having invited me to join him at the bar, he didn't seem overly excited to see me again. And our texts on Sunday had been few and short.

So I'd more or less written him off, assuming the fun I'd had on our date was because I'd had too much to drink. And that I was alone in having had that much fun.

All of this considered, I'm feeling cautious. I'd been surprised by the weird vibe on Saturday, and don't want to walk myself into...something. I text him back a picture of me on crutches. Don't talk to me about your "problems". That's my new Late Summer 2013 look.

What did you do? Oh, is that your apt. complex? I wouldn't remember what those are like because I'M HOMELESS. Sawyer problems > Ellie problems.

I explain how I sustained my injury and he explains how he caught a cold: overworking, lack of sleep, and the stress of couch surfing until he finds a new place to live. When I ask specifics about a fundraising event he's directing, he begs off. Too long to text about right now. I'm falling asleep. Must. Rest. Before. Drinking. Tomorrow. 

I spend most of Saturday dozing on and off, my foot throbbing. When I finally wake up around six pm, I've got a handful of missed texts from him, starting around noon. He's in Venice with friends. My drinking has cured my cold for a couple hours. I'm gonna crash hard tonight. ...in your bed. Beware. I can't tell if he's serious.

- I'll put on my sexiest Ace bandage. 

- Rawr. Tell me more.

- I"ll beat you with my crutches?

More tipsy, slightly incoherent banter, as his phone is dying. I have no idea if really intends to come downtown tonight, and can't get a straight answer. He's sick and been drinking but he wants to see me, but he probably shouldn't, but he'd like to, if I don't mind hanging out with a sick person, or he can go back to Hollywood for the night, he's losing battery power...

I bristle a little bit at the idea that this is some kind of drunken booty call, and debate between telling him to get back to me when he's sober and ignoring him completely, knowing that when his phone dies in a moment he won't be able to get permission/confirmation from me.

I choose the latter.

He finds an outlet and charges his phone enough to continue the conversation.

He wants to take a bus from Venice to downtown and come spoon with me, if I'll have him. "Spoon" momentarily disarms me like kryptonite, but I let him know in no uncertain terms that I am a bit of a mess with a jacked-up foot and there will be no messing around.

- I'm not asking for that!

- I didn't say you were! ...Just disclaiming. 

He gets to my place an hour later, and I'm mildly surprised that's he actually come. I know an hour bus ride sucks under any conditions, but is hellish when sick. I feel a little bit of my wariness melt away, seeing him walk into my apartment.

He laughs at my jerry-rigged rolling desk chair scooter and greets Chaucer, who is thrilled to have someone ambulatory to play with. He doesn't look sick, but he's clearly miserable, sniffling and coughing and pressing his palms against the sinus pressure points on his face. I announce that he needs Emergen-C, and hop one-legged into the kitchen to fix it for him. All of my glasses and mugs are in the running dishwasher, so I stir the powder into a small bowl, which he looks at with skepticism.

"Just pretend it's a cafe au lait," I instruct, handing it to him. "Like the Frawnch."

He's genuinely exhausted, and we don't stay awake for long. Rather, he doesn't. I spend most of the next five hours laying quietly awake beside him, knowing I should get up and work, but loathe to move away from the warmth of his body. When we face one another, I steal moonlit glances at his shoulders and chest, and at the tawny scruff along his jawline. When he feels me turn away, he wraps his arm around my waist and pulls me tight against him, careful not to bump my bad foot. He finds my fingers underneath my pillow and laces his own through them.

I may as well be strapped in with cables, for how able I feel to move.

I try to direct my thoughts to the inchoate storyline of my novel, but it doesn't stand a chance against the skin, the breath, and the hips of the man pressed to my back. Eventually I disentangle myself, hungry and restless. I fix cereal, tipping the box an inch at a time, not wanting to disturb the guest sleeping just feet from where I stand. I eat in the dark, sitting atop my kitchen island, Chaucer staring silently up at me. I hop back over to my desk, adjust the brightness on my laptop screen, and answer a few emails. He wakes periodically, sniffling, moaning exaggeratedly, and joking with me.

Daylight finds me tucked back in beside him, finally starting to get tired myself. He slumbers on. I reach down with one hand to pet Chaucer, who snoozes deeply on the rug beside the bed.

Late morning. We're both awake now, though diametrically opposed in sleepiness, with me entering the state he's passing out of. We spend an hour or two talking, lazing about, walking/crutching Chaucer, climbing back into bed, and rinse, lather, repeat. We decide to watch an episode of Orange is The New Black. One episode turns into three. We watch with my laptop propped on a tiny three-legged table we balance on the foot of the bed, pillows piled behind us, and his arm around my shoulders. He plays with my finger tips; I let my hand rest on his thigh. We doze in between the second and third episode, my head on his chest. When I wake to find myself still in that position an hour later, I'm amazed; very rarely can I fall asleep cuddled up like that.

At some point, he leaves to procure lunch, walking four blocks to the grocery store to get himself soup and me a sandwich. I text him my order. HELLO THIS IS MY SANDWICH ORDER PLEASE AND THANK YOU: turkey, cheese, tomato, onion, peppers, olives, oil and vinegar, and a Shetland pony.

- Pony meat is DELICIOUS.

- PONY FOR RIDING ONLY.

- Too late - shit's on the grill.

He returns with soup, a sandwich, heat-and-serve vegetable lasagna, beer, and a box of E.L. Fudge cookies. We eat and return to bed, where we watch a comedy special. We take turns playing favorite songs on Spotify. When I play this for him, he taps the beat on my back while I lay against him. I try but fail to recall the last time I spent an entire Sunday laying around like this, with someone else. I know it's been years.

My friend R. stops by around six with a load of groceries from Trader Joe's for me, a list of things his wife insisted upon my naming, when she found out about my foot. This is not an optional situation, she'd said. We deliver. Sawyer waits upstairs for me while I hobble down to the lobby to let my friend in. "Remember that guy I told you and K. about, that I'd met? I showed K. a picture of him, when we went to trivia?"

R. nods. "Yeah?"

"He's in my apartment," I say. "So when you walk in and see a dude, that's who that dude is." I'm strangely pleased about getting to introduce him to R., who has only heard tell of the guys I've dated over the past several months - none of whom ever made it to the meet-the-friends stage.

Sawyer doesn't leave until dark, and I fall asleep almost immediately after he goes. I don't move an inch until midnight, when an incoming text wakes me up. Spooning would be nice.

I smile and answer immediately, feeling sleepy and warm and glad for the disturbance.

Indeed, I start...

serves two

Ingredients
  • 1 female, 38 years of age
  • 1 male, 30 years of age
  • 1 English Mastiff, 6 years of age
  • several servings of sushi
  • several ounces of alcohol
  • 1 premium Spotify subscription
  • 1 teaspoon optimism (if not in season, substitute with additional alcohol) 
  • 1 surprise kiss
Directions

1. Arrange sober, unfed humans on opposing barstools in neighborhood tavern. Slowly mix in six to eight ounces of alcoholic beverages, pausing occasionally for casual conversation, sustained eye contact, and laughter. 

2. When thoroughly toasted, remove from tavern and allow to cool momentarily on city streets before placing in nearby Japanese restaurant. Pour in roughly 3/4 of remaining alcohol. 

3. In separate room, allow Mastiff to slumber undisturbed for two to three hours. 

4. Divide sushi into three portions: what male will eat, what female will eat, and what female will leave behind on the plate for male to eat even though she really wants to eat it herself. Stuff humans accordingly. 

5. Carefully combine male and Mastiff in pre-cleaned apartment, using a dog treat to unstick Mastiff from female if necessary. 

6. Add surprise kiss.

7. Quickly, while kiss is still warm, sprinkle female with optimism.

8. Transfer humans to overly crowded scenester bar. Add remaining alcohol.

9. Return pair to apartment and add Spotify at maximum volume. Keep music on high until a loud pounding on adjoining neighbor's wall is heard; then adjust volume to low. Allow male to rest while whipping female and Mastiff into music-induced frenzy. 

10. Marinate overnight in separate zip codes.

Reviews

★★★★☆
Delicious! I thoroughly enjoyed this recipe, but I would probably use less alcohol next time. - Ellie, 7/20/13

★★★☆☆
The leftovers were a little lacking in flavor, so I just added a few tablespoons of perspective. Changed the taste completely though. - Ellie, 7/21/13 

★★☆☆☆
Hmmm, I don't know. Seemed pretty good at the time, but I'm not sure I'd make this one again. - Ellie, 7/22/13

★★☆☆☆
Needs moar treets. - Chaucer, 7/21/13

encore

I'm surprised when he texts on Monday. I haven't been expecting to hear from him again. But text he does, to see whether I am free any night that week. I tell him I am, as it so happens, and that any day after Wednesday will work. With a bare bones exchange in which he repeatedly fails to punctuate his questions with question marks, we agree to Friday. We don't talk again until Thursday night, when we confirm plans in another minimalist conversation, also short on question marks.

Then on Friday afternoon, as I'm walking Chaucer, this: Should I bring a turtle. 

I laugh out loud, and stop on the sidewalk to reply. If you wouldn't mind. ...By the way, if you need some question marks, I've got extra. Here: ???????????

Will it get along w ur dog. ....I don't use punctuation.

Maverick, I say, and then: Chaucer vouchsafes the safety of all visiting amphibians.

Even mine??????????

----

He arrives downtown a little after seven, and follows someone into my building. We stay in my apartment only long enough to briefly greet with a quick, one-armed hug, and for me to gather my things. He looks at my Hipstamatic wall while I steal glances at him from behind, noticing how tightly his plaid shirt fits across his back and shoulders, which are broad and well-muscled.

"Racy," he says, nodding toward a black and white semi-nude of my body. It's one of five such shots, in a wall of nearly two hundred.

I join him to see which one he means, then point out another. "How about that one?"

"How do you even do that by yourself? How do you get the right angle?"

I laugh. "Too much practice. Ready?" I grab my keys and bag, and we start to head out. "Actually, let me just get a sweater," I murmur, stepping back towards my closet.

"You don't need it," he says. "It's amazing out."

I pull a dark grey cardigan from my sweater drawer. "Never know. Restaurants get cold."

For dinner, we decide on a newish French place a block away, with an outdoor patio situated on the busy intersection. The night air is warmer and more lush on my bare arms than any in recent memory. When the hostess seats us, Aaron asks whether we can move to another table, closer to the street.

"Of course," she says, smiling brightly and picking the menus back up. "Anywhere you'd like."

We order cocktails and chat. I watch him spread butter thickly over a slice of sourdough. "You go, Crossfit," I tease. He smiles, but doesn't respond. He leans back in his chair and looks at me across the table. "So, did I make the blog?" he asks.

I sip my water and nod. "Oh yes."

"Do I get to read it?" I glance at him quickly, trying to determine how serious he is. He wears the same intent expression that made such an impression on me the week before.

I speak slowly, thinking back on what I've written. "Well...yes. Of course. I mean, it would hardly be fair of me to not let you, if you want."

He nods. "Good." I take this in, and start filing away the words that will float up to me over the course of the night, slowly fleshing out the unknown qualities of this still-strange man. Direct. Masculine. Confident. Brusque. 

Cocktails arrive, and we toast, slowly slipping into a comfortable conversational rapport.  We talk and joke, occasionally revealing slightly more personal information as the liquor enters our bloodstreams. We agree some and disagree some. My impression, on balance, holds to what it had been at the end of our first meeting. Conservative. Opinionated. 

When our entrees come, he cuts a small portion of his and places it wordlessly on my plate. I haven't asked, nor had I planned to, but the gesture touches me. Gentlemanly. Considerate. As dinner winds down, he leans back in his chair again. "So, what next?"

I make a few suggestions, all centering around additional drinking. When I float the option of karaoke in Little Tokyo, expecting him to wrinkle his nose and say no, his enthusiastic response takes me by surprise.

"Really?" I frown. "Just the two of us? You want to?" I've never done karaoke with less than four people, to dilute the schadenfreude, and I'm not sure how comfortable I feel at the prospect of making an utter fool out of myself in front of someone I barely know - particularly someone whom I want to remain attracted to me.

"Absolutely," he enthuses, and nods in a way that makes it clear the matter is settled. "Ok, done. Karaoke." The gears in my brain jiggle a little bit, adding, adjusting. Self-assured. Fun loving.

We stop off for another round at one of my favorite bars, a tiny, candlelit speakeasy about the size of my apartment. The tables all full, the doorman seats us in a pair of chairs beside a covered piano, separated by a tiny metal wire table. I drop my purse behind my seat and take my sweater off, slowly pulling my arms from the sleeves, and keeping my eyes on Aaron as I do so. I sit down and angle my chair toward him. When the hem of my dress inches slightly above my knee as I cross my legs, I don't pull it back down.  "It's just like 'Between Two Ferns', with Zach Galifianakis," I say, and he laughs. We have to lean in slightly, to hear one another above the hum of the crowd.

We pass an hour in conversation which, thanks to the bar's notoriously strong cocktails, ranges to topics neither of us, we'll later confess, had planned on broaching anytime soon. But broach we do, and the subsequent exchange makes things lively and interesting, and forces the papers in my mental file to shuffle yet again. Grounded. Disciplined. Serious. At one point, he lets his fingertips graze my knee, and I find myself wondering how long it will be before we're back at my apartment. I finish my drink quickly.

On the walk to Little Tokyo, I press him with questions that are springing up on the tail of his recent revelations. After each, he says, "What else? What else do you want to know?"

I laugh. "You can't say that," I scorn, tipsy. "You can't ask someone what else they want to know about you, it's..." But I don't want to say the word that comes to mind, which doesn't feel quite right or fair, though it's close: arrogant. It's close, but it's not quite right.

The karaoke bar fills up fast, and the night starts to spin faster around us, a blur of music and lights and laughter and drinks. We make friends quickly, and Aaron is fearless with the microphone. Impressed, I kick off my shoes and give myself over to the unexpectedly fun moment. We do solos and duets, we sing with strangers and with one another. We dance and horse around with our karaoke companions, and have an undeniably great time. When I take to the stage alone, he uses my phone to snap a few photos.

A couple of hours later, we begin to lose steam, and sit to catch our breath and watch the others. After a minute, I move from sitting directly in front of him to perching in his lap. He holds my hips lightly, and I notice not for the first time how massive and strong his thighs are.

Fast forward.

Fast forward to being back at my place. I read him the blog post I've written about him, pausing nervously at the parts I fear may offend. But he receives it with enthusiasm, humor, and good grace. He nods and laughs, asking me to repeat the parts he misses, correcting me on small details I've gotten wrong. He agrees that I'm not far off in my assessment of our first meeting. He compliments my writing, and admits to being pleasantly surprised by it. He asks how many readers I have and I smile, suspecting that he's enjoying this tiny taste of notoriety. "Not many," I say honestly. "But the few I do have love to read my dating adventures. They'll be excited to see you make another appearance." He asks whether he can have an alias, but I shake my head at his first suggestion of "Todd."

"You can't be Todd," I say. "I know a Todd. How about Aaron? That's an easy change. Same first letter as your real name." He agrees.

Fast forward.

Fast forward to the last shared moment. He wraps his arm around my waist, moving me with ease to precisely where he wants me. He teases, his voice low in my ear, "Can't wait to read this post." I grin to myself in the dark, thinking of the parts I've already written in my mind, and wondering whether he'll enjoy reading his encore as much as hearing his debut.

half an enchilada

So, just for the record, I am well aware that there are about four different post series that I've completely dropped the ball on. Seriously lame, I know.

For one thing, I never finished this story, about the guy I had started dating. I think I felt a little uncomfortable talking about it because, among other things, I didn't know where it was going.

Well, it's over now, and in the interest of not being the sort of blogger who perpetually leaves people hanging, I will give an epilogue so that it may rest in peace.

I met a guy and we hit it off great. He told me right off the bat that he has kind of an issue (though I don't know if that's the word he used), that he really enjoys lighthearted, casual relationships, but when things start to get heavy or serious, he pulls away. I appreciated the honesty, and it didn't feel like it was a warning pointed AT me, so I more or less shrugged that off. Plus, it seemed very obvious that we had tons in common, so I think some part of me narcissistically felt like I'd be the exception to this rule. Also, the more I thought about it, the more I convinced myself that I should be in something super casual right now, so that I can focus on other areas of my life that need work. And I gave him a small speech or two about how I really like my space and independence, too, so it's perfect you're like that, and so on. At one point we were talking about relationships, and when I said that I hadn't ever particularly enjoyed the title "wife", he said he doesn't even like being called or considered a boyfriend.

So there was that sort of dialogue going on.

We saw one another about half a dozen times or so, having a blast each time. But other than making plans to get together about once a week, we had next to no contact. And it was weird, because one minute I'd actually like that I felt very free to do my own thing, but still had someone to maybe be with in a way. And then the next, I'd be sitting around chewing my fingernails, wondering why he wasn't showing more interest, why he didn't want to talk more, and why he generally didn't seem to want to get to know me more.

Eventually, the second feeling started to outweigh the first. And when it started to be really uncomfortable for me, like hurt-feelings type uncomfortable, I pretty much threw up a stop sign. I was all, Look, this is clearly just a sex thing for you, and that's cool if that's your thing, you do you, but I'm on a fast track to Painsville here, and I need to get off this train.

And he was all, No, it's NOT just a sex thing, I like everything about you, I love hanging out with you, you're amazing, a really rare breed, we mesh unbelievably well, best sex ever, but I don't know where I'm at, what I want, etc. So I was all, Ok, I understand that, and I felt better, because who wouldn't after hearing that they're amazing and rare and the best sex partner ever, and so on?

So we saw one another again. And it was awesome, again.

But then again, we had basically no contact afterward, and again, I was scared to initiate it, lest I crowd him or something. And when it came time to make plans to get together again, he was just extremely blase and flaky about making time to see me. So then I really threw up my hands and was all, Ok, fuck this, no hard feelings, but I'd rather wait and spend my time with someone who is truly interested and will show it.  And we argued briefly, but ultimately agreed, to our disappointment, that we're on different pages. It came down to him saying "I can't give you what you want; I told you I was weird in relationships" and me saying "Ok, well, I believe 'being weird in relationships' is a choice you make, and can choose not to make". I didn't really have hard feelings, I was just bummed out. But we said goodbye amicably.

And that was that. And that was a couple of weeks ago. And so I thought it was over, and made an effort to reorient myself to being open to the Next Possible Thing.

Then he texted me out of the blue on Friday night while I was out, and also called me, too, which got me all excited and thinking, Oh, cool, he's thought it through and realizes I'm worth putting a little effort into, yay! And I spent the next two days being optimistic, but starting to wonder if that was maybe just drunk texting/drunk dialing. And when I hadn't heard from him by today, I reached out to ask, Um, so what was that Friday night? Do you want to see me again, or...?

And he was all, Of course I do!

But not to get serious.

And I was walking Chaucer when that text came, which hit me like a bowling ball in the belly, because basically it felt like I was being told, Hey, don't expect intimacy or progression or commitment from me, the guy you really like, ever.

But, dumbass that I am, I made Chaucer stop and wait while I sat down on a planter and answered back, Oh, totally! Nothing serious! I agree. Let's just have fun! or something along those lines, because I think somewhere in the back of my head, I thought I could somehow, some day, convince this person that I'm worth a whole, healthy relationship, and that I'm also cool enough and chill enough to just have sex with someone and not get attached.

HA!

After that I texted my friend Mason with a screenshot of the exchange and was all, I think there's something seriously wrong with me, and he was all, If you and I were in a band, we'd be called The Doormats, and it went from there, with him reminding me that I'm awesome and beautiful and I don't need to settle for half an enchilada.

So after getting built back up by my friend, I texted the guy and said basically, I know myself, and I know I'll just get hurt. I don't want to be in a relationship that's already been predetermined to be forever casual. So thanks but no thanks, and also maybe please delete my number so that you don't drunk text me and get my hopes up again.

And, again, we ended it amicably, but this time presumably for good, because I've been deleted as a contact and am no longer on Horny Dial.

And I know I did the right thing, the self-respecting thing, but I still feel sad and disappointed and a little bit angry at myself, because he really was clear and upfront about his limitations and limited interest, and I refused to see it, because I didn't want to.

Also, I think I need to do some thinking, because the fact that in some ways, I was enjoying having a lot of space/freedom, maybe suggests that I have some emotional unavailability of my own going on? I don't know.

:(

t-shirt designer needed

Five Reasons That, As A Blogger, I'd Totes Want to Date Me

1. This blog is one big operating manual. Right off the bat, you've got the handbook. I'm upfront about my specifications. You can see my hardware (and my software, waka-waka) for yourself, as well as where you may need to troubleshoot down the line. And I don't try to hide my provenance.

2. You have the key to my diary. If we have a breakdown in communication and you're wondering where my head is at, bring up my blog. Chances are there's some weird little story about rocks or feathers or whatever that, if you use your Sooper Special Ellie Decoder Ring*, will let you know what's on my mind, and maybe even give you an opening to ask what's up. I recommend starting with, Darling, I read your brilliant, funny post today, and I'm sensing some subtext about how I've been a jerk lately, an assessment with which I wholly agree. Why I don't I bring you a chocolate croissant and we can talk about it?

3. You get to be a muse. Maybe I'm crazy, but I would be flattered if someone cared enough to write about me, even in vague terms. Hell, even in negative terms. It's like the Bright Eyes line:

If you stay too long inside my memory / I will trap you in a song tied to a melody / And I'll keep you there so you can't bother me. 

(Sorry, just give me a moment to ponder what it would be like to be Conor Oberst's muse............mmmmm...................almost done............................little bit more...........................ok.)

If you're kind to me, my pen will be kind to you. If not, well... Being the penis man in my life, you get to be the thing that inspires me to do the thing that makes me happiest: write. And I dunno, but I think that's pretty cool.

4. It would be impossible for me to cheat. At any given time, I'm usually bleating away on one or another social networks about where I am and what I'm doing. Instagram is just one big visual bread crumb trail of my adventures. I couldn't hide if I wanted to.

5. After it's over, you can watch the trainwreck continue from the safety of whatever form of ICU you're recovering in. I may also start throwing in a free "I Survived Ellie and All I Got Was This Lousy T-Shirt" shirt. Although hoodies would be better for helping to hide those swollen-from-crying eyes...

postscript: For the love of god, please file this under silly lolz. Among other things not to take seriously: the last impression I want to give is that I think doods should be chasing me around asking what's wrong, because I'm one hundred percent about being direct and honest. Just playing here, because despite all my efforts towards all that great stuff I said in the last sentence, there's probably a grain of truth in #2, anyway. Also, I do not objectify/trivialize whatever guy I'm dating as the "penis in my life". That's just a phrase I stole recently from a girlfriend, and am still sort of loving. 

* To obtain your SSEDR, you'll need to provide a non-refundable deposit of one (1) heart and one (1) soul.

today's thoughts on dating

1. It's brutal. It really is.

2. All I can do is have faith that I'm making the right decisions. It seems like I'm having trouble getting anything off the ground lately, despite putting myself out there, meeting people, giving things a shot. But I'm not sure if it's a good sign or a bad one - that inability to get something meaningful going.

Here's what I want to believe: in the past, I entered into relationships very quickly, because I wasn't self-aware enough to know I wasn't making a good choice in a partner. I went from boyfriend to boyfriend to boyfriend to husband to boyfriend, etc., for, literally, decades, with almost no time in between. Now it seems like a handful of dates is enough for me to know, No, this isn't right. I have to believe that being more selective about my partners doesn't mean that I'm being unrealistic or unreasonable. I have to believe it means I'm more in tune with my needs, my values, my standards, and my expectations for myself - and therefore, quicker to see the holes in the boat. I have to believe that all this time that I'm spending being single, working on myself, is only going to pay off bigger dividends. Because the more in touch I am with myself, the more self-love I have and the better my ability to make myself happy, the more I'll have to give the right person.

But fuuuuuuck. The self-doubt can be a killer, when you tell someone, No, sorry, you're not for me. Because connecting with people feels really, really good. You want it to work.

3. I'm so grateful to have close friends that I can turn to for advice, perspective, support - and vice versa. Right now a friend is going through what will probably be a breakup, and it's a real heartbreaker for him. I feel for him tremendously, as I always do, because he's an amazing person who deserves someone equally amazing. The things I said to him are the things I have trouble internalizing myself sometimes:

Him: Fuck. ...Heartbroken.

Me: I know. There is nothing worse than being into someone who's not into you. Nothing worse on earth, ugh. But think about how good it will feel when you're with someone again who can't get enough of you. That's maybe a few months away, tops. You meet girls all the time. 

Some people are trapped in relationships where neither party has feelings anymore. They're married, maybe with kids, maybe loathe to break up their families but unable to feel happy in them anymore. That's a life sentence of unfulfillment. It's a relative luxury that we can keep trying people on to see if they fit. Because that's all dating is. Seeing if they fit. She didn't fit. It's always painful, but there's nothing more common or universal than that pain. 

Try to practice not hanging all your happiness on things that can change, like relationships. Cultivate taking joy in the whole process: meeting, infatuation, falling - even what you learn when it ends. And congratulate yourself on respecting yourself enough to move on when it's obviously over.

Work on feeling complete and whole without a girl. Love yourself enough so that a relationship is a bonus not a necessity. Focus on creating, learning, growing - whatever brings you joy that's not reliant on another.

---

It's so much easier to dish that kind of advice than to take it, though, innit?

splish splash

Your blogmistress apologizes for her absence. Your blogmistress has been busy and distracted and focused on other things, but is quite well and good. Your blogmistress has been pretty happy and peaceful these past few weeks, and generally enjoying the holiday season and all that comes with it.

Your blogmistress has now had three dates with the Same Person. Your blogmistress is going to see that Same Person again. So your blogmistress will just go ahead and try to catch up on where that stands, because it's kind of fun and nice. Here, world, watch little fishy Ellie swim in her fishbowl. Splish splash.

---

Date two. Plans to go to a Lakers game fall through, but I've got a Plan B, if he's up for it. Just the night before, I've received an invitation for a birthday celebration - a last minute party for Kenne, thrown by his roommate Kristin and his boyfriend Alfie. I had regretfully declined, giving them hell for not putting out invites sooner. But when we're unable to get tickets for the game, I float the suggestion to him tentatively.

You can absolutely say no, and I would completely understand. It's only our second date, and I don't want to throw you into an uncomfortable situation with a bunch of people you don't know...

He tells me not to be silly, that he'd love to go. I inwardly rejoice. It's Kenne's 45th, and I'd be really disappointed to miss it. Plus, I kind of want to show my date off. I know he'll have my friends gawking and giggling.

Dinner first. Cozy restaurant, delicious food, great conversation, lots of laughs, a little too much wine. We get to the party later than I'd wanted, but once there, we melt right in.

There are about twelve of us clustered around a large table on a patio at a bar in Silverlake. We're drunk and loud and having a fantastic time. My date, myself, and Kristin are the only straights; everyone else is taking turns "confessing" to early sexual experiences with girls. I glance to my left to see how he's taking everything in. He's stopped drinking in order to sober up for the drive home, but he seems completely comfortable, with genuine laughter for Victor's threesome-in-the-nineties anecdote. I'm suddenly conscious of how close we're sitting on the bench. We've had next to no physical contact so far, though I've been keenly aware of his body since I met him. The slight pressure of his thigh against mine is distracting, and I slowly shift my weight away from him. I've had a lot to drink and I don't really trust myself to not be overly flirtatious.

We're taking turns toasting Kenne when my phone lights up with a text from the birthday boy himself. Me and Victor are dying over your date. Those eyes, that smile...damn! I swallow my grin and Kenne winks at me from across the table, while kicking me underneath it.

Later, he drives me home. I invite him upstairs to meet and help me walk Chaucer; he accepts. Chaucer, predictably enough, loves him, and presents each of his toys, one after another, to the guest sitting on my couch. He relaxes into the sofa, his arm over the back of it, and angles his body towards me. He watches me change out of heels into more comfortable shoes. "You're so tiny," he says, and his voice is softer and lower than it's been all night. I'm tipsy and playful. I hold up my owl suit to show him. "Oh god. You are so putting that on right now," he says. I don't need to be told twice. I allow him to snap a pic before changing back out of it, aware that I'm essentially undressing before him. I've got a full layer of clothes on underneath the furry costume, but the moment still feels faintly erotic.

Downstairs, we take Chaucer around the block. As we're rounding the corner, I catch my breath: A. is exiting our building with his own dog. He's heading in the other direction, though, and doesn't see us. It's just a few days before he moves out.

I walk him back to his car. A quick peck, a hug, and a little while later, a text to say he's home safe. I fall asleep and dream, inexplicably, of snow falling soundlessly in the woods.

passing the microphone

On Wednesday night, I had a first date. I know! Another one. The excitement! Can you handle it? Boy howdy, am I just swimmin' in menfolk here (for the record, that's 2 menfolk since July). I can't go into too much detail though, because get this: this is a date a reader set me up on. Which, first of all, I don't particularly like using the word "reader" because it positions me as The Blogger, and puts a feeling of distance between totally average me and someone who weirdly finds me interesting enough to follow. Novelists have readers. Columnists have readers. I have - well, I don't know what I have. Listeners. Observers, maybe.

This listener/observer reached out to me and basically said, Hey, I have a single guy friend who I think you'd like and vice versa. He smells good and dresses well and doesn't believe in God. Are you down? And I was all, Uhhh, I'm totally flattered you thought of me, but probably not, because I'm sort of still stinging from the last round of dates where I felt like I got kind of, I don't know, passively rejected, and maybe I should do some work on myself before getting back out there? And she was all, Gurl, come on. Also: I just read him your reply and he thinks you're being silly. Oh yeah, and I showed him your pictures. And I was like, YOU READ HIM THAT?? Well now I have to go out with him or I look like a big weenie.

So I did go out with him (after exchanging a few emails wherein I established that he's bright and funny, and has superlative taste in music).

And it was great, as far as first dates go. Because first dates, no matter how enjoyable they are, still have that underpinning of nervousness and hyper-awareness, which is distracting. Or maybe it's just me? I find myself sitting there, engaged in one of those touch-on-all-the-major-points conversations, in which I'm consciously endeavoring to remember key details and be a reflective listener, but the whole time I'm conducting an unavoidable inner monologue that includes a rather lurid evaluation of my dinner partner. Could I kiss this person? I could kiss this person. He surfs? I wonder what he looks like in a wetsuit. Actually, I wonder what he looks like out of a wetsuit. 

My name is Ellie, and I sometimes objectify men in the privacy of my own head.

(That last little bit makes it sound as if I'm the most awful, checked-out conversationalist ever, but I'm really not - I don't think. I just have a terrible time remembering details like names and places and dates, and I feel like such a schmo when two dates down the road I have to say, Wait, where were you born? or What are your siblings names again?)

We had sushi and sake in Little Tokyo, and he unnerved me - in a good way - by consistently passing the microphone back to me throughout the meal. He had me talking about myself nonstop, which is pretty much the opposite of how dates typically go for me. I'm usually the one asking questions, probing, drawing out. But this guy was a master at what I thought was my game. And while the hot seat normally isn't my comfort zone, since there are so many bombshell skeletons in my closet, he didn't seem put off by anything I said. In fact, he opened his own closet door a crack, and let me peer in. Which: awesome. Not the skeletons, I mean, but the vulnerability and honesty. That I dig.

So yes, it was a good first date.

And there's a second one on the calendar.

Huzzah.