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Breaking Up Is Hard to Do

Aug 28, 2010

So apparently this is how I deal with a break-up:

Step 1: Call him to see how's he's doing. Start crying after he says "fine" then asks how I am doing. Hang up immediately.

Step 2: Go to dinner with a friend at an expensive restaurant, only to find she has also broken up with her boyfriend. Spend dinner fighting back tears and telling one another we are fabulous.

Step 3: Go to dinner with another friend at the restaurant he loved the best. Sit at the bar and make friends with the bartender. Tell bartender whole story. Bartender feels bad for me and offers free drinks. Bartender suggests I text him. I text him. He makes fun of me and immediately accuses me of being drunk -- WHICH I WASN'T (I know my limits, okay?!).

Step 4: Go to dinner with another single friend and discuss birthing options (since my sister and her cousin just had babies).  Decide either your stomach or the other part of you being ripped apart is not for us and since 30 is the recommended age to freeze your eggs we should just do that and have a surrogate.  Unfortunately I haven't been preparing financially for this, so I resign myself to the fact I will be childless.

Step 5: Go back to the restaurant with the Bartender and update Bartender on the situation. Bartender recommends deleting him from my phone immediately. I do not heed Bartender's recommendation. Later take a text from him as an invitation to call. He tells me, while it's good to talk to me, he has moved on and is not interested.  Hang up immediately.

Step 6: Go to baseball game with friends to get mind off of situation. Instead end up talking about situation entire night. Does not make me feel better.

Step 6: Organize girls' night, as it is exactly one week since break-up and I SHOULD BE OVER THIS ALREADY!!!

That's all I got. 

Seriously, I haven't handled a break-up this poorly since I was 19. I think some speed dating is order. Self-reflecting will only make this worse, so I'm gonna go ahead and skip that.

At least I have clean hair. That's positive, right?

Moving On

Aug 23, 2010

Although summer technically ends on September 21st, every urbanite knows Labor Day really marks it for us.  The heat may drag on well into October for all I know (weirder things have happened here -- blizzard? flash flooding? earthquake?), but in two more weeks I guarantee girls are going to begin pulling out their boots and blazers to kick off the fall season. 

I've hated winter since I moved here in 2007, but after last year's Winter Games I'm not completely repulsed by the idea of cold coming to the District once again.  What is saddest to me this end of summer is all the changes that are happening almost at once.

First there are the friends.  Megan got married last month, and this weekend Ashmi got engaged (good job, Raghav!!!).

Now that's what I call engaged!

Also, Ashmi decided to quit her job and go to grad school to pursue her dream, food.  She moves to Boston in a couple of weeks, and we're having our Last Supper at Co Co. Sala, since she was the one who introduced me to it when it first opened. 

And then there's Margaret, the roomie, who is moving to NYC soon.  I can't even get started on that now.  I'll have to write an "in memoriam" blog about our three years together later. 

The second big change is my job.  Oh, the joys of being a defense contractor.  Last week I suddenly had no job because the contract ended (really? twice in one year?), but my company rocks and placed me somewhere else, so I start the new gig today.  (What am I doing writing a blog post when I should be getting ready?) 

But the change that's hurting the most right now is the end of my Summer Love.  Yes, Kanunu aka Cute Boy and I ended it this weekend.  Or maybe I just ended it.  He didn't say much.  Why don't boys talk when we need them to?!  Argh!!!

He announced to me Friday night that he was moving home to Texas, which wouldn't be a huge problem since he doesn't plan to do it till next year, but he also leaves for Oktoberfest in Germany in a couple of weeks and is staying for two months.  I just felt like that was too big of a test for a new relationship.  I cried, he apologized, and then when it was getting a little bit too hard for either of us to handle anymore (I could barely keep my eyes open at that point) he kissed me on the forehead and left.  I heard the front door click shut, curled up in a ball on my bed, and tried to convince myself it was for the best. 

Love stinks.

I called the bff Kristen the next morning and told her what happened.

"Did you cry?" she asked.  Except I heard "Did he cry?"

"No, but his eyes were red."

She laughed.  "I meant you, but I like how you were looking for him to cry."

"Yes, but it would have been awful if he had cried."

"Oh I know," she said. "If guys could only realize that if they would just squeeze out a tear, we would be horrified and stop crying and yelling at them.  They hold all the power in the situation, really." 

It's true.  I remember moving to California years ago, and I'd been sobbing for hours, and then my boyfriend at the time lost it and my tears dried up immediately.  HORRIFYING.  (Not because it's gross that a guy would cry, but we just don't know how to help them.  Yes, in this situation, they hold all the power.)

I spent Saturday eating, staring, sleeping, crying...not necessarily in that order.  Did not at any point wash my hair, and I really needed to.  At least I brushed my teeth, that was a step in the right direction.

Sunday was better.  I went to my church meeting, had lunch at my cousin's house, came home and did laundry (I've been sleeping on a bed with no sheets for three nights in a row), and then went to dinner at Rasika to meet a friend, K.  (Get the crispy spinach -- amaaaaaaaaaazing!  And surprisingly good break-up food.)  I wore a little black dress with red heels, but every time some guy looked at me I scowled.  How dare they?  Don't they know I have feelings for somebody else and I'm DYING inside???  Oh, oh...and the text I got form Kenny the Foursquare stalker wasn't any help either.  And I quote: "You seem cool and go to hip places. Creepy but what's social networking for?"  Is Foursquare giving out my phone number now?  I gotta learn privacy settings.

I really didn't want to go to dinner.  I wanted to cry.  And the only way to keep myself from crying was to make mean faces and silently judge all happy people in relationships.  To make matters worse, K was excited to hear all the details about my budding relationship, as she herself was in a wonderful relationship with a wonderful man and I was sure they were getting engaged at any moment.

Fighting the tears, I walked into the the restaurant, shoulders back, head held high, determined to have a lovely time. 

K smiled big.  "I want to hear everything!"

"We broke up," I crumbled, slumping in my seat.

"Oh.  We broke up too," she said, her voice and face dropping. 

"OH MY GOSH WHAT ARE WE DOING IN PUBLIC?!" I said way too loudly.  We both laughed, and we both got watery eyes.  Then we ordered bourbon. (Possibly not the best idea.)

So we both told our stories -- hers WAY more dramatic than mine (they broke up the day before they were supposed to go to a wedding!  And they still went together!  I told her that's the scene in a romantic comedy right before you meet the man you're going to marry.  It could happen.).  It was good to get it out and commiserate, especially since there's nothing like heartache to make you feel so alone in the world.

There's also nothing like heartache to remind you that you're still human and not some zombie, heartless working girl who thinks being alone is fabulous.  So this time, there will be no cupcake eating, no bag buying and getting over it.  My first summer living in DC was worth every penny, even if it's ending on a bittersweet note.

City Roads, Take Me Home

Aug 11, 2010

Ask anyone who's looked for a place to live in Northwest DC and they'll tell you how frustrating it is.

Or you could just ask me, because I've done it TWICE IN ONE YEAR.

*deep breath...and exhale*

Last October when Margaret and I decided to move from Old Town to DC it seemed like such a lovely idea.  I remember the moment well -- we had just eaten mezze at Zaytinya then walked over to the Navy Memorial and were dipping our feet in the fountain when we both realized we should be living in DC.  The three months that followed that moment comprised what we now refer to as "The Time We Almost Got A Divorce."

We finally agreed on an apartment in a very hip neighborhood that was totally out of our price range but had an amazing rooftop.  And almost immediately we began having horrid problems.  The sewer backed up into our kitchen and overflowed into our living room.  My ceiling leaked all over my bed.  The hot water heater constantly broke.  Snowmageddon hit and we found out we had drafty windows and no insulation in the concrete floors.

But oh, the rooftop and the very hip neighborhood.

The third time the sewer backed up (which was after the sixth time my ceiling leaked, causing the ceiling to crack) (and our utility bills have been ridankulous due to the drafty windows and no insulation) we decided it was time to move.  It was almost perfect timing because Margaret's moving to NYC soon, and we were going to try to sublet her room to finish out our lease.  But because I hadn't found another roommate I decided to go solo and find a one bedroom.  Why I thought this would be a breeze I can only attribute to the two and a half-month heat wave.

First I checked one bedroom prices in our building.  They started at $2,300.  So, no.  I checked on Craigslist and found an English basement a couple of blocks away.  Although English basements (which are basements in rowhouses with low ceilings and little sunlight) make me claustrophobic, I was desperate and decided to at least look at it.  The night of the open house I was greeted by a creepy guy in all black (the tenant) and a white man holding a black baby who he introduced to me as "Tallulah" (landlord).  Cute, but obviously did not come from his loins, or his husband's. 

As I looked around I willed myself to not feel like the walls were closing in on me.  The space was large for a one bedroom, had windows on both ends and skylights in the bedroom, two large walk-in closets (two! TWO!), a separate laundry room with a washer and dryer, a parking space, and a hot tub in the yard that I would be free to use.  Even though the current tenant had dragons and gargoyles everywhere, I decided to take it and deal with the lurking evil later. 

But I wasn't the only one interested.  Turns out, by the end of the night, six other people didn't care about how creepy the dragons and gargoyles were either.  I had to compete. 

So I offered babysitting (two men will need some female help, right?) and dogsitting, plus home cooked Southern meals.  Two days later I emailed again and reiterated FREE BABYSITTING FROM FORMER NANNY.

Yet I did not get the place.

It was then that I realized finding a one bedroom would be even more difficult than finding a two bedroom, and I was going to have to work hard for it, honey.

The next couple of weeks proved to be frustrating -- some people wanted you to rent their place fully furnished, so I'd have to sell all my stuff.  Some places were the right size but didn't offer parking.  I even looked in the very scary, youth overridden Columbia Heights, y'all.  Yes, I did.  Oh and I even went further north to Petworth, where I witnessed a woman walking her raggedy, senile dog off the leash in the middle of the road with no regard for Noli, myself, or, HELLO, cars!  Not all NW DC is nice, and I was beginning to fear I would have to settle for a bad neighborhood, or worse, Arlington (dudes in brown flip flops *shudder*). 

Then suddenly, a light in the darkness of my real estate nightmare -- two one bedrooms in Dupont, each within a block of the dog park I take Noli to, and each under $1,800! 

The first one was a shoe box, a SHOE BOX.  But I began thinking, I'm a city girl, I can adjust. It's adequate.  I need to scale down anyway. 

How easily I forget that to move to DC Margaret and I got rid of fifteen trash bags worth of clothes.  And that was just clothes.  I also threw out a desk and gave another away, plus thrifted numerous other items.  But it's trendy to live simply.  Maybe I could get by with 100 things...(hahahahahahaha)

The next apartment was amaaaaaaazing.  Foyer.  Separate kitchen.  Large living space.  Large bedroom with walk-in closet.  Old Victorian charm!  CLAW FOOTED BATHTUB!!!  And a price tag of $1,700 to buy all the furniture inside, because the current tenant was not moving with it.  I decided to look at it because I figured I could just sell everything.  But this stuff was junk.  The cheapest of the cheap Ikea circa 1995. 

To make matters worse, the guy was super annoying.  I need to find a different adjective...annoying doesn't even begin to describe him.  Let's see -- he didn't bother tidying up at all, and he wanted someone to pay $1,700 for his ugly, flimsy furniture.  I can take a little clutter, but condoms on the bedroom floor?  Really?  And you know how he tried to sell me on buying all his stuff?  He spent five solid minutes talking about his incredible cheese grater.  "I'll throw this in!  You get THIS!"  $1,700 for a cheese grater?  I'll pass.  I guess he didn't feel like he had to try too hard because he mentioned about five times that we were up against 12 other people for the apartment.

But okay, the place was amazing -- as I mentioned -- so I was considering it, even though he was offended that I worked for a government agency and suggested if I didn't have the cash to give him for his junk right at that moment then maybe I wouldn't be able to afford the monthly rent.  But this was the kicker:

"Mary El," he said, thoughtfully leaning toward me (too close to my face, actually). "That's an interesting name.  What does the 'El' mean?"

I opened my mouth to tell him, but he kept on.

"In the Bible it would mean 'of God'" (bingo) "but in this other obscure archaic tribal language it would mean 'of the devil.' Which are you?"

And with that it was time for me to go. 

I returned home to find Cute Boy waiting for me, as we had dinner reservations in an hour.  (BTW, Cute Boy doesn't like his nickname and would rather be called "Neo," like, from "The Matrix."  I said I'd compromise and call him "Kanunu," which is how my mother pronounces "Keanu," as in Keanu Reeves.  Thoughts?)  Not long afterwards I got a phone call from the guy in the amazing apartment.  The people who came to see the apartment after me wanted it, and they were willing to write a check.  He suggested I book it over there and outbid them.

Cute Boy, seeing the anxious excitement in my eyes, took my hand and said, "Let's go."  When we walked in he said, "Hmm, it smells really good in here."

"Oh thaaaaaaaaaanks," Annoying Cheap Guy drawled.  "So, are you going to write me a check for $2,000 or what?"

"Could we have a moment to discuss?" I asked. 

He looked put out.  "Fine, but only a moment."

I led Cute Boy to the bathroom and pointed at the tub.  "Claw footed tub!" I squealed, trying to make him understand.

"$2,000?" he said back to me.

"Knock knock!" Annoying Cheap Guy peeked his head in.  "What's going on?  Are we having a conference?  Should I come in?"

"Um, no, we're just trying to decide..."

"Well you don't have much time.  Figure it out!"

Thirty seconds later he popped his head in again.

"Do you even have your checkbook?"

"Of course I have my checkbook!" I said defensively.  Then I remembered I left my checkbook on my nightstand.  "Oh, shoot, I think I forgot it actually."

"Mmmm hmmm.  You weren't even planning on writing the check were you?  You're toast.  Sorry!"

So we walked out, passing the happy new apartment renters on the way out.  "Congratulations," I said.

Outside of the beautiful, Victorian door, Cute Boy wrapped his arms around my waist, pulled me close to him, and whispered in my ear, "I'm really glad you didn't get that place.  It smelled like armpits and feet, and that jerk had phallic art everywhere."   (I hadn't noticed the art, I was too enamored with the bathtub and crown molding.)

That night I got an email from a resident in my building who had read my blog that day. 

her: I saw your latest blog post.  Adorable.  My roommate is moving to Texas so I feel your pain.


me: Want a new roommate?

her: I was seriously thinking I was going to have to move to the ghetto! When can you move?

me: Anytime, our apartment has had so many problems they're letting us break our lease!  I was going to move to a teeny apartment in Dupont with no washer/dryer.

her: Oh please girl.  We do NOT do our laundry in a dirty, communal basement.  Call me.

And with that, my moving problems were solved!  I'm moving out of my problematic unit to the top floor with a view and a bigger closet!

P.S. Four days later Annoying Cheap Guy called me.  "The deal fell through with the other people, and I know you were reeeeeeeally interested!"

"Nah, I think I'm good."

"Really?  But you liked it so much!  I don't understand."

"Well, you told me I was toast, so I made other arrangements."

I have a feeling 12 other people did too.

Goin' to the chapel and we're gonna get marrried

Aug 5, 2010

I recently had the pleasure of being a bridesmaid (6th time) (Well, technically 5th because once I was a groomsmaid. And no, I did not wear a tuxedo.) in Megan's wedding to Ben, who we met at a Superbowl party a year and a half ago.  We went expressly to meet cute boys, we both met cute boys, and she actually married her cute boy while my cute boy asked for my number and never called. 

I wanted to tell y'all about the wedding and how much Megan's parents made me drink (I totally did the "Forever" wedding dance, complete with sunglasses, in the restaurant at the rehearsal dinner after that second margarita), but something kind of interesting happened. 

And Barbara, my work mom, could tell the minute I walked in the office the following Monday.

"Soooo," she started. "How was the wedding?"

"Weeell," I smiled.  "It was beautiful and everything went off without a hitch..."

"Did you meet someone!" she demanded.

I blushed.  "Yes.  And he is such a gentleman, Barbara.  And a good dancer, and..."

"Is he a good kisser?  That is the important question."

And right there, in the middle of my office, I blushed again and whispered, "Yes!"  She did not seem afraid of anyone else hearing about my weekend's make that singular because we all know they are rare.  Okay they're non-existent.   

Oh, I should mention here that the title of this post is not indicative of my future with said good kisser.  Let's not get ahead of ourselves...although I have been considering freezing my eggs lately, but that would be in a few years, I just need to start saving up.  (Whether I will ever follow through with this is questionable because A) I love shoes too much and a giant Forever 21 just opened up near me and I've been there three times in the past week; and B) Margaret is moving to NYC so I have to find my own place and apartments in NW DC are friggin' expensive!!!)

Side note to expound on Point A): Forever 21 now has a line for *ahem* real women, like me, cut "conservatively," which means I can actually fit into skirts and I don't have to buy large tops but rather small and medium, yay! Thanks, Forever 21, for not constantly reminding me that I'll never be forever 21 because of my ever-expanding parts that like to expand the second I eat a donut. Note to side note: Little known fact -- cupcakes have zero calories so you can eat as many as you want and never expand a millimeter. It's true!

Back to the wedding.  I hadn't seen Megan in months since she left DC to pursue a new job in the swamps of the South where a swamp creature moans outside her window every night before she goes to bed, so the excitement of seeing her and her getting married and eating a lot of free food and cake was too much to bear, so I started crying almost immediately after seeing her.  When we had to stand in perfect formation for what seemed like hours, directed by the slightly crazy, slightly senile wedding coordinator, I lost the urge to cry and developed the urge to drink margaritas.  Fortunately we were going to a BBQ joint afterwards, where Megan and I promptly ordered the Margaria, or was it the Sangarita?  Anyway, it was a margarita + sangria in a giant glass with a straw.


Halfway through that thing I started talking -- loudly -- to everyone at the table.  The other bridesmaids later told me they thought I was shy and quiet during the rehearsal. And then I went completely overboard and images of me being shy and quiet were a faint memory. 

During dinner someone set up a karaoke machine.  I kept eyeing it, and Megan's mom encouraged me to get another sangarita and then sing something.  And now she knows not to ever ask me to sing in public when pink drinks are involved.

I walked over to the karaoke area, but a table of about 25 middle-aged women had control of the book, and they already had put in a bunch of orders.  Before anyone could begin singing I yelled, "TIME OUT!"  Then I stood at the end of the table and explained to the ladies that Megan and Ben were getting married and we needed to get our "Best Friends Wedding" on up in this plizzace.  So on the count of three, with hands waving in the air like we had lobster claws on, we all sang (in harmony! or maybe I just made it sound terrible!), "Goin' to the chapel and we're...gonna get maaaaaaaaaried!"  And you know the rest. 

Then I danced around the tables with my sunglasses on.

Next stop was a local bar, and I figured I'd embarrassed myself, and the entire wedding party, enough for one night, so I opted for water from an anorexic waitress with cutoffs and a belly ring.  While all the guys gawked at her, my eyes wandered to the door, and in walked the cute boy who never called.

Our eyes met.  I started laughing hysterically.  He looked mortified. 

He rushed to my side and began apologizing.  "It's okay!" I assured him.  "I totally forgot about you even asking for my number.  No big deal."
But he insisted on making it up to me.  Dinner back in DC?  No, thanks.  Co Co. Sala back in DC?  Oh I might actually consider that.  Give me your number?  Hmm.

Suddenly a line from "He's Just Not That Into You" (the book, not the movie) popped into my head --  if a guy really likes you he will find a way to get in touch with you.  So I declined.

(But I did give him one of my new blog business cards.  Why?  WHY?!)

He called later that night.

Of course I ignored him, it's not ladylike to answer a call that late.

The next day we primped and ate delicious Mexican food and sipped champagne.  The wedding was perfect and I think even the wedding coordinator was happy with how everything turned out.  Back in the dressing room I helped Megan's parents clean up and get Megan's things together. 

"What are we going to do with all this champagne?" her dad asked, motioning toward all the half full glasses littering the room.  "We're not leaving them here, it's not right." 

Her mom gave me a mischievous look.  "Mary El, you can take care of it, right?" 

Seriously?!  So I did my bridesmaid duty and downed all the champagne. 

At the reception I settled into my seat at the bridesmaids table.  Apparently I was the only single person in the entire room, but I was too tipsy to care. 

"There's a seat at my table, I'd love it if you'd join me," a voice behind me said.  I looked up and it was Cute Boy.  I was taken aback -- hadn't I rejected and ignored him?  But his efforts paid off, and I went to his table with him.  Of course I was wildly nervous at that point and could barely get out a coherent sentence.  When the food came I was thrilled to tone down my buzz.  Except the waiters brought out more bottles of champagne and I started drinking it again.  In hindsight I'm glad I did because what followed would have been too much to do without a little liquid encouragement...he wanted to dance.

Normally I love love LOVE dancing at weddings, but with a cute boy who I'm suddenly developing feelings for?  HORROR!

But Cute Boy had some moves, and it was the kind of dancing that makes a girl feel like she looks good on the dance floor, even though she's stepping on his toes.  That coupled with my swirly bridesmaid dress made me feel quite romantic.

Which is why I let him kiss me.

And that's all I'm going to say on that subject.

"I'd like to continue this when we get back to DC," he said to me when it was time for me to say good-bye. 

And that's how this single girl became suddenly not so single...