My Childhood Self Would Think I’m Awesome.

Deadlines. We all have them, whether created consciously or subconsciously. Mature and self-aware people usually form deadlines based on what they want to accomplish and do with their lives that will be fulfilling and beneficial to others. Growing up, I mostly created my deadlines from what I saw on television that looked pretty darn cool, or what my friends were doing at the time that I thought was an awesome idea. After watching the 1988 Summer Olympics, my 6 year old self thought I was going to have a gold medal for gymnastics by the age of 16. After my mom signed me up for classes, I realized on the first day that all I really wanted was to wear sparkly eyeshadow and have my face on a Wheaties box. I had no desire to stunt my growth and create an abnormally large curve in my back.

Though that was one that never came into fruition, I did take my childhood deadlines very seriously. I still remember the day I graduated from my stylin’ hot pink training wheels to my purple and pink “Sweet Sixteen” 10 speed. It was July 4th of 1989 and I was going to take her out for a long awaited spin. My first riding attempt started off how I imagine Lance Armstrong’s did – I was living strong before I even knew what it meant. With a little push from my dad, I was peddling away. I was doing it; I was riding a bike on my own. I felt invincible in my matching purple and pink outfit, my ponytail happily bopping with each stride.

After a solid couples of blocks I decided it was time to see what this pretty little thing could do. I took a cocky sharp turn in hopes that my neighborhood friends were watching so I could visually brag about how darn good I looked on two wheels instead of four. What I didn’t prepare myself for was my training-wheeled-muscle-memory coming into action. I was used to carelessly turning onto a tiny side wheel which prevented me from a fall. Something did brake my fall, but this time it wasn’t a tiny hot pink side wheel. It was a parked car. Before I could shout out for rescue, my tire hit the front bumper, both of my hands extended out in automatic instinct slapping against the green paint, my face quickly followed while my entire 7 year old body slid down the front of the car ever so slowly. Sweet Sixteen went right into the garage after that. Yet I still gave her a birthday wash every Fourth of July. She did after all help me complete my goal. Even though it came with a scratched up knee and bruised baby-sized ego.

The next summer of 1990 came, and I decided it was time to swim on my own. I loved my water wings, but it was getting really old trying to swim underwater when they were specifically designed to keep me from doing so. I was meant to play the role of graceful mermaid, and my aqua assistance was keeping me from the Mermaid Kingdom. When my stubborn and maturing mind decided that I was ready, I slowly let the air out of each wing while my floaty-device-loving life of 8 years flashed through my mind. I quickly came to my senses, shook off the sadness and started “swimming.”

My first instinct was that of a Golden Retriever’s – short, quick paddles followed by long, forceful kicks. On that perfect hot summer day I dog paddled like I never dog paddled before. The Mermaid Kingdom was mine – until I was terrorized as I tried dipping my head underwater without plugging my nose. Another goal was suddenly upon me, but I thought it better to wait until the next summer. “One summer at a time, nimble mermaid,” I said to myself as I dog paddled away. “One summer at a time.”

As a child with a competitive nature, I knew without a doubt that winning a contest was also going on my short life’s list. I wasn’t sure which contest it was going to be for, but what I did know is that the victory would taste sweet on my macaroni and cheese loving taste buds. When the pizza selling contest was announced during my 6th grade year, I knew, as Oprah tells us now, “preparation had met opportunity.”

I have vivid memories of selling that pizza door to door. My mom told me people like to buy things from children, so I put on my green velvet Converse and walked the mile radius around my house in extreme confidence. One house in particular is still embedded in my mind. I rang the doorbell, and the door opened to a man who must have been in his early 20’s. He was in a towel, fresh out of the shower – McSteamy style. He looked surprised to see a little girl standing there. Was he expecting someone else? I’m not sure, but he excused himself to put something on. He then bought more pizzas than I ever could have imagined. This sell put me over the top and I therefore won the contest. But in the end… did I really win? Was my win soaked with one man’s guilt of ending my precious innocence during my feeble attempt to win a 6th grade pizza selling contest? Maybe, but the prize was worth it.

The winning prize was a ride in a limo and a write up in the local paper. I felt like I was walking on air when my name was announced as the winner at the all school assembly – it was worth every bit of shattered innocence. I didn’t come down from my blissful state until I saw my winning picture in the paper. There I was, standing next to my school principal and fellow winners. Having had an early growth spurt, it looked like a family portrait. Maybe I should have stuck with the gymnastics lessons – then maybe my peers wouldn’t have looked like my children. To top it all off the limo was brown, had a broken down TV, and our ride was to the local Wendys. I ate my grilled chicken sandwich in a cloud of despair. I didn’t even order a Frosty. I know.

I still create subconscious goals and deadlines for myself, even though they pretty much never turn out as I imagine they would. Myself at 15 figured I would have a kid in kindergarten by now. The closest thing I currently have in common to anything in kindergarten is an extensive collection of sparkling gel pens, and the ability to think that if I start ballet lessons tomorrow I could be in next year’s production of the Nutcracker. It may literally be a kindergarten production, but you better believe I will beat out those kids for the lead role. But with my luck I would be cast as the Rat King.

At least he gets to wear a crown.

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I will participate in your outdoor hike… only if it’s downhill both ways.

My mind likes to play tricks on me. It likes to think that I can participate in, excel at, and enjoy any and every type of outdoor activity. Hiking. Camping. Rock climbing. Snowboarding. Badminton. Turns out my mind is one big fat liar.

 

While conversing with potential male prospects, descriptions of my personal interests and hobbies are screaming with versatility: “Well yes, I love to climb icy cliffs barefoot while carrying a weeks worth of peanut butter protein bars in my fanny pack to reach an unbreathable summit only to slalom ski down for the complete thrill (and maybe a new Facebook profile pic) shooting bears and throwing them on my back along the way to cook for dinner with my bare hands during next weeks camping trip. I am an outdoor connoisseur after all.”

 

After attempts to participate in any of the previously mentioned activities, it immediately becomes evident that my confidence is a complete and utter sham. My own mind is brutally against me, conning me to believe I have successful strength and stamina. Turns out the only thing successful about my attempts of impressing the Fun Outdoorsy Guy are blisters, sore muscles, and fifty different facial and verbal expressions representing my frustration.

 

I was painfully reminded of these frustrations on a recent hike. An hour and fifteen minute uphill hike. While I appreciate living in the Pacific Northwest and relish in its green and lush beauty, on this particular day there was minimal to no relishing. What I thought was going to be a piece of cake was clearly hindered by years of previously unmonitored actual piece of cake consumption.

 

It started out innocent enough. I had a spring in my step while I happily played compass, curiously discovering what direction I was hiking based on the adorably fuzzy moss growing on the tall and grandiose trees surrounding me. I would skip to a stop only to identify what kind of enchanting bird was singing out to us and playfully debate my guess: “I believe it’s a Chickadee but maybe you’re right, my fellow outdoor-loving friend, it very well could be a Blue Jay. I just love these moments of nature we’re sharing together.”

 

I admired the many rock climbers I passed by, daydreaming about what victory dance I will choose when I nimbly climb to the top of the cliff when I come back next week with all of my newly bought rock climbing gear. But most of all I was enjoying the attractive men in their Oakley sunglasses and sleeveless shirts as their calf muscles brilliantly bulged with each step in their meticulously laced brown hiking boots. What better place to meet men than on the trail of love?

 

Then it happened. Children started passing me. Old men with walking sticks were politely excusing themselves to go around my struggling slow pace. Each hill was growing taller and higher and steeper than the one before. My vision started to blur. The birds who were once cooing love songs in my ear were now mocking me. I was no longer smiling at the cute guy and pretending to like his dog hoping to get a future trail date. I was angry.

 

The mountain deceived me.

 

The only thing that kept me going was the reward of my carefully chosen Chocolate Brownie Clif Bar I was going to devour when I reached the top. An hour and ten minutes later the summit was finally in sight. I slowly got up from my crawling position and collapsed on the first rock I saw. I did it. I made it to the top. Little by little my vision came back into focus. The birds came back around and started singing my praises. My mind was right; I was a hiking champion. Any man should consider himself lucky if I were to accompany him on such a perfect uphill adventure.

 

It was now time for this champion’s reward. I lethargically reached into my bag ready to enjoy the last bit of anything good that was left in the world. Then as I pulled out my excited and shaking hand, it was completely covered in melted Chocolate Brownie Clif Bar. Figures.

 

Now I know better when asked to participate in any sort of outdoor activity. I answer with a newfound confidence: “Yes, I will participate in your hike. If it’s downhill both ways. And you’re willing to carry a cooler for my Clif bar.”

 

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Yes I look at Craig’s List Missed Connections section. Often.

I’m a city girl in my heart and soul. I’ve dreamed of bustling among bright lights and tall buildings since I was yea high. Instead my reality is that I’m currently bustling among flickering lights and Home Depot shopping centers. As a result of deciding it would be a great idea to buy at the height of the real estate market, I now consider myself stuck in a metropolis who’s idea of progressive is deep fried Snickers bars at the local fair and adding a Super Walmart down the road.

To find a conglomerate of more sophisticated, intelligent, and culture-savvy men, I must travel 35 miles from where I call home. “Putting myself out there” literally means pumping overpriced gasoline in my vehicle for the 45 minute trek to a breath of fresh smog-filled air. On one rare sunny Seattle day I decided to make that trek and chose Starbucks as my stomping ground to carefully eye out the selections of these available men.

I had everything I needed. A full charge on my Blackberry, my Compaq Presario laptop I got on sale at Sears, and extra lip gloss just in case a magnetic attraction was in the cards. Even though I spent the majority of my time changing to a better seat as people got up, I still came head-to-head with the fierce fact that magnetic attractions only forcefully exist on Reality Television Shows. All I got out of my hours at Starbucks was a $15 parking garage ticket, my first real encounter of tourettes, and standing hairs on the back of my neck caused from the constant stare of the girl next to me.

Starbucks scenario was nothing short of a bust. Not wanting to lose any precious time, I went straight to Scenario 2: Seek out a wing man and attack other points of public interest. Genius came upon me and I knew there was no better interest than a small local pizza place smack-dab in the troubled artists’ heart of the city. I chose well. This place was so small you couldn’t help but be knee-to-knee with your pizza consuming neighbor, creating a very cozy familial atmosphere. Perfect opportunity to make them feel even more uncomfortable with forced awkward and menial conversations.

Just when I was starting to observe the drab demographic wondering if I would’ve had better luck by striking up a shouting conversation with Tourettes Guy, a disheveled man sat directly in front of me. I was immediately so impressed with his excellent pizza slice selection that I just had to comment on it. When he opened his mouth and an Australian accent came out, his shaggy unwashed hair and crooked teeth suddenly became very attractive. Not only did he have a foreign accent, but I discovered he had been to more countries than I had, and he was reading a local film festival paper. My interest went from curious to captivated. Until the worst possible thing happened. My wing man got bored and wanted to bail, taking both me and my dreams out the door.

The only thing I got out of Scenario 2 was delicious pesto pizza and a more than normal amount of furrowed brows in my direction because I was “that girl” who spoke out of line. Who could’ve known that pizza protocol calls for avoiding eye contact with anything but your own slice and eating quickly to make room for the next pizza patron? Well I say to them, there is no room for social pizza pie etiquette when it comes to blue-eyed-accent-guys. Sorry.

Since scenarios 1 and 2 were disappointing and uneventful, I did what any normal city girl would do. I forced my fuel gage to “E” by making the long drive home to my small town townhouse filled with roommates and cats. After my quick routine of making sure nothing is in the closet or under the bed, I excitedly realized my laptop had a little bit of a charge left.

Scenario 3: Feverishly checking Craig’s List Missed Connections to see if Tourettes Guy or Pizza Accent Man were calling out to me over the web. After scanning for ads written in ALL CAPS or in Australian – I came to the conclusion that all three scenarios failed me.

Three lessons learned in three scenarios:

  1. Find free parking and wear shoes in accordance to walking a few extra blocks. No one can pull off a limp as a swagger, I don’t care how much you try.
  2. Don’t order Pesto Pizza. Turns out the furrowed brows were from the clusters of green sandwiched between my first and second bicuspids, not the knee-rubbing-knee-while-winking combination.
  3. Your Craig’s List ad in Missed Connections reaching out to Tourettes Guy and Pizza Accent Man cannot be deleted the next day when you realize it was a bad idea.

Enough of this “putting yourself out there” effort. Next time I’m going to double my chances of meeting colorful men on the way up to the city and save gas doing it. I’m taking the bus.

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Danger! There’s a Romantic Comedy Behind You!

I have every aspiration to be the kind of girl who has it all together. So together in fact, I imagine as I walk down the street every vehicle slowing, rolling down their windows in perfect unison, and turning to the same station so I can enjoy the soundtrack to my day. I imagine animals flocking to my angelic presence (besides dogs of course). Spontaneously catching children falling from trees. Giving old fragile men an arm to hold as they walk across the street. People around me suddenly starting to sing and dance, and I join in naturally knowing every move and note.

This happens in fancifully directed movies, not in everyday life. Movies like Disney Fairy Tales, which can be traced back as the direct source as to why every young girl wants to be a Princess. Princess status comes complete with Prince Charming rescuing her from a purple fire-breathing dragon as she lays in a witch-induced coma, and then living “Happily Ever After” as they drive off in their sparkling coach enjoying true love’s kiss. This translates to real life expectations of meeting the man of your dreams by age 20 who makes at least 40 grand a year and drives a truck that makes him feel so manly he therefore drives through as much mud as possible.

As we get a little older we realize that the majority of us are not real-life princesses, nor do we want to be. As single girls in this time and age we can conquer any field of our choosing, whether it be career, entertainment, or even men. We don’t want to be stuck in some Palace only being able to see the excitement and beauty of the outside world captured on YouTube and the E! Channel. Jasmine’s got nothin’ on us. Except for a pet tiger. Now that’s what I call awesome.

Danger still lurks over the pretty heads of independent singles this day and age, but instead of it coming from an Evil Stepmother demanding chores, it comes in the form of modern Romantic Comedies. In these Rom Coms, any girl with a sweet demeanor and long wavy hair can be swept off her Manolo Blahniks just by walking in the right coffee shop at the right time to order her Non Fat Green Tea Organic Grass Frappuccino. These protagonists do yoga daily, get up early, have a best girlfriend who is always there to listen, laugh at her jokes, and be her wing man in any social setting. She lives in the city, drives a sports car that matches her purse, has an extensive fashionable wardrobe and apartment with a view. These strong women work hard (never walking down the hallway without being approached by numerous assistants handing her coffee, her appointments for the day, and her briefcase), get promoted, and most likely write for a magazine. This perfection messes with our imperfect heads.

I have had every intention and attempt of following in the Rom Com’s leading lady’s footsteps. I’ve tried yoga, changing all my bread to multi-grain, set my alarm 15 minutes early, and subscribed to Cosmopolitan to get the best advice on fashion and men. My reality is that I can only go halfway downward dog, am obsessed with Rainbow Chip Cupcakes, hit snooze on my alarm three times before I slowly manage to get up, and circulate the same four outfits I bought at Target.

In a nutshell, I’m no leading lady that has it all together. Disney’s Prince Charming would question the fact that I tend to hog the remote from children when I play Super Mario Brothers 3, become entranced for hours on end when I play Guitar Hero (*cough*expert*cough*), keep an oversized Lip Smackers in my purse at all times because I’m addicted, and have a strange and alluring attraction to eating dry Top Ramen.

Stop making that face.

While I may be no Sandra, Julia, Kate or Katherine, there also doesn’t seem to be an overflowing selection of handsome and romantic leading men. I happen to come across the douchebag, bad boy, redneck, boring mcborington, nerdy, and geeky types. While I believe that I could and do enjoy some aspects of all of these types of men (are video games nerdy or geeky?), the problem with me is that none of them have kept my attention long enough to… see I already forget what I was saying. All I know is that I end up wanting to poke my eye out with something hot when I spend too much time around these guys. I guess at this point, picky isn’t plausible.

I believe the character Alex Goran said it right in Up in the Air: “Yea, a nice smile just might do it.” But then again, she was dating George Clooney in the film. We all know that he has more “nice” than just his smile. So what does she know.

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Canines: This Single Girl’s Worst Enemy

While being single is fabulous, we don’t want to turn that into a question. Not all singles are happy in their current situation. I’m going to throw a major golden nugget at their head that will undoubtedly turn that pout into a teeth sparkling smile. This smile will be so big that never before seen dimples will appear on both cheeks, despite the throbbing mountainous bruise forming on their frontal lobe caused by the coolest element on the periodic table I just chucked.

There are a few factors that go into making a happy single life. I, for one, have the number one rule down pat. DON’T OWN A DOG.

Dogs. Ah yes, natures favorite canines. This single girl’s worst enemy. I can and will in fact blame this on my mother and say since I did not have a dog growing up, I never got used to the creatures. Now I cringe at the thought of being licked in the face with that horrendous dog breath caused by eating their own poop.

The benefits of not having man’s best friend by my side are countless. I am excited by the fact that I can leave for work early in the morning, go to the gym straight after, and join up at a happy hour on the way home. There are no out of the way stops to feed, walk, entertain, or sickeningly cuddle with an animal. I am able to jet set on a whim without making arrangements for a dog sitter and spending my glorious travel time worrying about my “child.” Countless money that would be spent at the veterinarian on pills, shots, and checkups is better well spent on my own personal use of caffeine pills, vodka shots, and checking out men. This is my own pocket of joy. Others argue that this means I have no soul. Well if that’s the case then single and soul-less is definitely fabulous.

Now some will proclaim that having a dog would benefit my single life. I disagree on numerous levels, some of which I just mentioned. The rest will be saved for a combative rainy day argument with dog lovers after my necessary consumption of caffeine pills and vodka shots because I was forced to watch them thrillingly put together their favorite “Dogs Playing Poker” puzzle.

There is one benefit I will humbly agree on that owning a dog would have on my already fulfilled single life: Dog Parks. Where dogs and men alike roam leash-less and free. Where gorgeous, quality, shirtless single men hold their baby niece in one arm, and throw a frisbee with the other showing off muscles I don’t even know the names of. Where these eligible men flock to me like the strategically placed wild geese I’m passing as they see me running with my matching Golden Retriever.

Right. Then they call their mothers just to say hi after their romp in these so-called alluring dog parks. Well if my chances of meeting Mr. Right become extremely high upon stepping foot on that littered grass, then what I’m willing to do is borrow your dog. For an hour. But you must come along because I’m not touching that dog waste bag with my freshly manicured hands. I don’t want to give Mr. Dog-Loving Right the wrong idea. I don’t touch hot dog poop. I don’t cook. I don’t even do dishes. Come to think of it, I don’t like your dog.

So let’s just save ourselves a little bit of time and a lot of a bad break up, and you can take your own dog to the park while I stay home and contemplate why I’m still single as I’m putting together my favorite “Cathy Cartoon” puzzle.

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I’ve Been Invited to the Mensa Society

Don’t get me wrong – being single has some major perks. Despite this fact, most people’s ultimate dating goal is marriage, followed by having kids and forming a cookie cutter family. Society’s standards, married friends, and impatient mothers are all factors to the suffocating pressure forming on all sides of a blissfully single life. I’ve seen the pitying “Oh you’re single?” looks, heard the sorrowful “You’ll find someone someday” tones, and thrown away RSVP cards because I was frustrated with the “Single” box I had to check.

What I have gathered in my unattached years is that some see singles as handicapped. To me, getting to claim yourself as your only dependent is like coming to the realization you have an above par IQ, and you’ve been invited to the Mensa society. This society is not for the weak of heart, dumb of brain, or lazy of souls. This “singles society” beams one thing that most attached and stable beings dream of: freedom.

Ah, freedom. To me, it’s one of the most eloquent words in the English language – next to Nintendo, bubble gum ice cream, and must see reality TV. This freedom is what allowed me to run the original Olympic field, ride a camel by the Egyptian pyramids, walk the streets where Jesus walked, swim with Frida the dolphin in Cabo San Lucas, hang with lumberjacks in Alaska, plastic sword fight with a paid Roman soldier in front of the ancient Colosseum, take an illegal picture of Michelangelo’s famous work, ride Donk the donkey up the side of a Greek mountain, and force a Beef Summer Sausage to drink Sangria in Barcelona.

I was able to do all this because I have been stubbornly unattached. While being correctly dubbed as rootless and temporary, I have delved into ten top reasons as to why this is my own approved lifestyle:

  1. Doing whatever I want, whenever I want, with whoever I want, however… wherever… never gets old.
  2. Pushing microwave buttons to cook my meals works perfectly fine for this family of one.
  3. I get my DVR all to myself. I don’t even know what channel ESPN is on. I relish in this lack of knowledge.
  4. I get to spend my extra money any way I want. This is usually spent on shoes, happy hour, and lip gloss. I giggle just thinking about it.
  5. I don’t have to pretend to like any hobby that includes fish, bouncy balls, or painting action figures.
  6. The only arguments I have are the ones with myself about which color top looks best with my freshly bought lip gloss and shoes… on my way to happy hour.
  7. I don’t have to sit through any Terminator, Fast and the Furious, Bruce Willis, or Sylvester Stallone movies.
  8. I get to sleep through the whole night, every night… AND I get to sleep in on the weekends until all my sleep runs out.
  9. I get to have Girls Night Out every night of the week while flirting with any man that comes within a two foot radius of me.
  10. I don’t have to share my laundry with tighty whities that say “Kiss me I’m Irish.”

I regretfully stop at 10 just for the sake of space, but I believe I could have typed out a “Top 100” list in just about two more minutes. Single ladies, let’s just be honest, this grass is GREEN!

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I Have Lovingly Diagnosed Myself with ADD

Oh the adventures of dating. Exciting, whimsical, exhausting. I’m the kinda girl that’s tried a little bit of a lot of things. A “Jill of all trades” if you will. Not because I’m more adventurous than my female counterparts per say, but because I get bored so quickly I have lovingly diagnosed myself with attention deficit disorder (Cameron-style). The ADDCS (attention deficit disorder Cameron-style) kicks in during, but not limited to: astronomy discussions of why one star is brighter than another, Star Trek Trivia Night, arguments versus left wing/right wing/wrong wing/organic grain fed wing, and being forced to add, subtract, multiply or divide without a calculator. My eyes well at the thought.

Take for example, me learning to surf. Instead of riding the ultimate wave I get distracted by boogie boarding, body surfing, the miracle of my feet sinking in the sand more and more with each foamy caress, and sharks. This sort of quick distraction makes my personal odds of landing a perfect man seem to me like landing on the moon. Not because it’s impossible, but because I happen to try to get to space in a rocket I made out of sticks, aluminum foil, and rubber bands all dipped in pink glue because I think it’s a good idea.

My quest to find this strapping gentleman is not taken lightly. I’ve felt passion before. My pupils dilate, my heart races, my sense of smell is on point, I pet stranger’s dogs, and then I high five the dog owner. Twice. My difficult pursuit is not complete until I am in this desired state of mind and soul. Until then I’m forced to army crawl my way through the masses of bad dates and curious searching of ridiculous online profiles.

I know what you’re thinking. How, you ask, can this vibrant young woman of 28 years achieve this seemingly unattainable feat? Well I shall answer and say, it’s not going to be easy. But I am willing to take the high road/long road/uphill road both ways to get there.

The fact of the matter is… I’m almost thirty. There, I said it. I have written a “To Do Before I’m Thirty” list and I don’t think I’ve un-crumpled that napkin in some time. While I am a fan of being an empowered, successful and fulfilled single woman, the reality is that my ovaries have no idea what that means. I can feel them dying, along with my desire for sleepless nights and ear-ringing cries. I need to get on this pastel colored bandwagon before it runs me over because I waited too long.

I think the universe is trying to have some fun with me and decided to add a troubled economy into the mix. Men don’t have enough money for their own place, let alone a date. All I want is a happy hour appetizer finely paired with two glasses of half priced wine while I’m trying to figure out if I can tolerate the man sitting in front of me enough for a second date. Is that too much to ask?

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