The Possibility of a Modern Romantic Comedy

A few posts ago, I mentioned that higher consumers of pop culture are more likely to be scared of life, or so a professor once told me. This concept, I’ve realized can apply to other facets of pop culture and life, like romantic comedies. I’m not a scary movie or thriller type of gal mainly because I don’t get a rush of adrenaline from being terrified. The same way hanging upside down on a roller coaster doesn’t exhilarate me, neither does the fear of someone in a mask popping up to kill people turn me on. But give me a good romantic comedy, blockbuster or indie, and I’m there – middle row center.

The thing is that being an avid watcher of these movies for over twenty years can easily warp your mind into believing that you and Harry will become best friends and fall in love years after meeting and initially hating each other. Or that after about 10 years of the wrong timing you realize that he is The ONE and you crash his sister’s wedding thinking he’s the one getting married (watch A Lot Like Love a very underrated movie).

I’m hardly the first to observe women’s fascination with these movies and believing that these scenarios can happen in real life. Mindy Kaling does this much more eloquently and with a lot more humor on The Mindy Project. Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t believe in fairy tales and I don’t want a prince charming; perfect is overrated and doesn’t exist anyway. And, contrary to the belief of some of my family members, I don’t think that Mr. Right is just going to knock on my door while I’m sitting on the couch.

But I do believe that I can bump into him one day while browsing the bookstore (the one that no longer exists within a 20 mile radius of my house). He’ll say something clever about one of the books that I’m holding. We’ll banter back and forth being quick witted and much more chit chatty than I’ve ever been. We’ll continue our conversation over coffee at a non-Starbucks establishment and our dialogue will just flow from the moment we meet. As we get to know each other, he’ll take me to cool hole-in-the-wall restaurants. We’ll have long phone conversations well into the night. Of course, there will be hiccups and disagreements along the way, but we’ll get past them and sail into the sunset.

OK, so I don’t really think that it will happen exactly that way, but a girl can dream, right? 🙂

Honestly, I know it’s not going to happen that way. So, hopefully I don’t get a bunch of comments that I need to get my head out of the clouds or no one will be good enough. I’m not really looking for someone to meet those unrealistic standards. Maybe I was at some point in my 20’s, but I’m not anymore.

What I am looking for is to find someone that I do have a connection with; someone I can talk to or sit in comfortable silence with for hours. I know there will arguments and disagreements. I know we’re not going to like all the same things nor do I want to be with someone who is a replica of me. The dream based on the movies are heightened expectations, but I do believe that there should be some expectations. Quite frankly, and this might be an unpopular opinion, people tell you to aim high and go after your dreams in every aspect of your life except for when you’re looking for a life partner. I don’t know why that is. Like with everything else in your life, you can visualize where you want to be. But the key is in also keeping yourself open to all possibilities along the way. The openness will bring things and people into your life that you never even dreamt of, but the original dream is what propels you forward to get to those possibilities. So, for me, it’s not about going after an unrealistic Nora Ephron screenplay, but about visualizing the life I want to have which includes a husband to share my life with. I know that he’s out there, so the dream of him is what propels me forward to meet him in a bookstore or airplane or blind date. I’m open to where the possibilities take me.

The People’s Couch

There’s this amazing show on Bravo which really looked like a recipe for disaster. I don’t know who was the actual genius that gave it the green light.

When I first saw the commercials for The People’s Couch, I thought it looked ridiculous. It seemed like a whole new low for TV; let’s do a reality show of people sitting on their couches watching TV! But one day with nothing else on after a probably equally ridiculous episode of The Real Housewives” of some city, I watched an episode and it was hilarious. I actually laugh out loud several times during an episode.

The premise is real people sitting at home watching TV with family or friends and commenting on the shows. It’s like the peanut gallery of each person’s house. There are clips shows of about 6-8 TV shows from the previous week and we are getting to hear how different people react. They range from reality to prime time dramas. They are at home having a glass of wine or some snacks, like everyone else yelling back at the TV when you think something bad is going on and criticizing some pseudo celebrities fashion choice. There is one family, an African American husband, wife and teenage son, that appear to always be eating something delicious. Last night they had both cake and popsicles.

The genius is in everyone’s genuine reactions to the shows they are watching and how they interact with each other. Besides the aforementioned family, there’s three older woman who last night spent like at least 1 minute trying to figure out how to take a selfie. There is a husband and wife with their 2 teenage sons who watch the show from their bed. Last night also produced a hilarious moment when the dad kept trying to figure out how to ask his phone how old Kris Jenner was as they watched the Kardashians. Other “watchers” include girlfriends, a father with his daughters, and three gay men.

Most of the shows that they are watching are ones I’ve never watched myself and there is definitely some pretty crazy TV out there. I’ve never watched Honey Boo Boo or Devious Maids so watching the clips are fascinating glimpses into them. It’s at times even funnier when they are watching something I already watched and they have a similar reaction to mine at first viewing.

This isn’t a show that I would binge watch or watch if it were on every night, but there’s something to the weekly guilty pleasure of laughing along with others who seem to watch and enjoy as much TV as I do. I urge you all to just give it a chance because it’s perfect mindless TV without feeling icky like I do when I watch the Kardashians.

T minus 13 days

Two weeks from yesterday I’ll be back at work. I haven’t made any life changing decisions, but my 2 months are up. I have some half decisions made up in my mind that I’m not necessarily ready to share mainly because they are not fully fleshed out yet. I am still vacillating between some ideas…

The thing is, who says that my decision has to be life changing? As long as it is moving in a new direction than that is the first step. Right? I took the time off in order to take a breather and see if that was enough to make me happy again in my job. I didn’t want to dread driving to work in the morning.

I am ready to get back to some sort of routine and stimulation, but I am not sure that I want to be working at the stress level I was at before which left me with little energy to do much else outside of work. I have enjoyed more time for yoga, for friends and family and for writing. I want to find a way to balance those things. At the end of the day success should’t be whether you’re the CEO or not. It should be whether you’re happy with the work and the life outside of work. That’s where I want to get to; it’s the path that I hope I’ve started on and will continue on come July 7th when I’m back at the office.

Tongue and Hair

I have this unexplainable need to “shock” people by telling them that I once pierced my tongue and shaved my head (although not at the same time). Both these things happened over 15 years ago, but for some reason I still think it gives them a little more insight into who I am. Although, honestly, I’m not sure what type of insight it gives them.

It’s a weird thing that I feel the need to share these things. It might stem from appearances being such a big deal…making such a big impression. People always assume things, including me, about what a person is really like. Lots of people when they first start getting to know me say that they love how laid back I am when in reality I am always overanalyzing and planning everything in my head. I fool them by seeming laid back on the outside 🙂

But for some reason I like finding the right moment to throw out at people that in college I pierced my tongue and shaved my head. They are always shocked and intrigued by why I would do such a thing. Which my answer is “I just wanted to” and that’s the truth. I didn’t think much about either action, just deciding to go for it. They might seem like rebellious things to do, but at Smith it wasn’t out of the norm or strange and I wasn’t thinking about my parents at all when I did them.

I frankly didn’t think about what anyone would think about the act or what they would assume about me. I didn’t care that three weeks after shaving my head I’d be in Colombia celebrating my grandfather’s 80th birthday taking family pictures that would immortalize the look forever.

So I really don’t know why if I didn’t care so much about what others thought back then, why know I throw it out to almost get people to think differently about me. It’s as if I want to prove their impression of me, whatever it may be, wrong. Like I am capable of doing something dramatic, but mostly because they view it as dramatic. I didn’t view it that way at the time. Perhaps it’s a reminder to myself that I have it in me to chart my own path without caring what those within my community think.

If it is a reminder to myself, then now is the time to keep repeating because as it gets closer to getting back to work, I’ve gotten closer to accepting the inevitable and comfortable place to be. I don’t want that. I do want to keep rebelling against the constrictions I’ve set upon myself. I want to feel OK about trying something new and not being so worried about how it will pan out. I shaved my head and while I thought it looked great the first few months, then it grew out weird and I had to accept it until it was back to being manageable. It’s perhaps a metaphor for choosing a new career or role at work.

So to shock all of you or not, here’s a glimpse:

1997 - right after I had it done
1997 – right after I had it done
1999 - photo shoot to send pics home to my parents before flying in - don't know what I was reacting too :)
1999 – photo shoot to send pics home to my parents before flying in – don’t know what I was reacting too 🙂

Blind Dating in the Digital Age

Blind dates no longer exist. Nowadays I go on a “blind” date already having seen pictures, his likes, his friends, and the fact that he posts pictures of barely dressed models on his wall. By the time we meet for that first date, I have already made up my mind on whether it will go well or not.

I started getting set up on blind dates about 10 years ago before Facebook and before it was that normal to have digital pictures of yourself. So when I embarked on that first blind meeting all I had to go on was what my friend had told me about him. He was smart and nice (what I am almost always told when being set up), he was 32 and was born and raised in Venezuela. He called me on the phone and we spoke for about 5-10 minutes before setting up a date and time, but that was it. As the day approached I created my own image of him based on the scarce information I had, the sound of his voice, and the basically what I wanted him to be like. I remember the nausious feeling I had as I stepped out of my building to meet him not knowing if he’d fill those expectations or what was in store for me.

I saw him and obviously he looked nothing like the image I had concocted in my head, but who could live up to those expectations? The date went OK…in my opionion we had no connection. He was nice enough, but from our interview like first date and at my ripe age of 23, I did not feel that there was enough commonality or a spark to keep at it.

Through the years I’ve been on a lot of dates but as the digital world has evolved, it is nothing like that first one. It typically starts off the same. A friend or a friend of a friend or a parent’s friend finds some other single 30 or 40 something and says that he is really smart and nice so they thought of me. That part never changes. The difference now is that the first thing I do is go to Facebook. If they don’t have too many privacy settings set up, I can see pictures they’ve been tagged in, their likes, recent posts to their walls…I am basically tapping into their personality before the date.

My mind starts racing with assumptions.

He’s always at some party surrounded by lots of people…I don’t think it’s going to work with someone who is out and about all the time. I am a homebody. I want someone to drag me out from time to time, but I don’t think that he is for me. OR

Why doesn’t it seem like he has any friends? Why are all the pictures of him by himself or with what appears to be his mom? The irony is not lost on me.

Wow he seems to travel a lot that is awesome. He went to a good school for both undergrad and grad. He likes Community and Mad Men…cool. Oh wait, what is he wearing? Why did he think that shirt was a good idea?

I know, I know…this is making me seem like a horrible judgemental person, but I am just being honest. We all, or at least most of us, do this. I am fully expecting that they are doing the same thing with my profile. We don’t let ourselves be surpsrised by anything anymore. The thing is that the profiles have never stopped me from actually going on the date (well only once because everything on his wall was objectifying women). I still always go, although they now have to pass over a hurdle that they don’t even know exists.

I go on the date trying to have an open mind and sometimes the date goes just how I was expecting from my social media search or worse and sometimes they go so much better than I expected. Its still a crap shoot just like it was 10 years ago. Instead of contending with what my imagination came up, which frankly were probably too high expectations for anyone to meet, they are now contending with the image that Facebook and a Google search might have helped me create.

Is it still an even playing field? I’m not sure. I do know that at least I know what they look like when I get to wherever we’re meeting instead of scanning the room for someone in a blue button-down and jeans.

I think what’s worse is what happens after that first date. To me the second date has always been more nervewracking than the first. You have nothing to lose on the first date. You don’t know him. If it doesn’t work out, there are no true hurt feelings (maybe just a slight feeling of rejection) and you go back to the way you were prior. If you’ve lined up a second one, at least one of you is interested enough to have wanted to keep getting to know each other. It’s kind of like the first date if you hadn’t been set up.

This is the point where I want to really impress him. I want him to like me more than he did the first time. I want to live up to his expectations.

After the first date if we friend each other on Facebook, I start stressing out about what he’s going to think now that he has full access. Is he going to be turned off by my taste in movies? Is he going to wonder why I take so many pictures of the Thanksgiving dinners I cook each year? Is he going to assume that I have little social life if most of my pictures are of scenery and not people? Will he laugh at my most recent post venting my frustration on traffic patterns? All of this starts going through my head. It’s the insecurity creeping in. Here I’ve been making all these thoughts and likes public and now I wish I had just kept them to myself.

When we are on the second date, I am wondering how long it will be before he asks about that trip to Europe or North Carolina. Is there etiquette involved? Do you pretend not to know any of those things yet? Is common etiquette to find these things out through time and casual conversations? It feels initimate to have already peered into his life and seen what his parents and siblings look like…to see his home. Aren’t these things I should know until much later in the dating process?

It is the way the world works now unless you’re dating one of those rare individuals that don’t have a Facebook profile. They do exist.

Follow the Leader or Lead the Follower

Last week I was at the beach and there were these three girls, probably 6 or 7 years old. Two of them were each holding a big stick and the other girl walked between them as if being held captive. As they walked by where I was sitting, the girl in the middle said “I don’t like this game.” With that she broke through and started walking ahead. Immediately, the other two girls dropped their sticks and said, “I don’t like this game.” They ran behind the other girl.

I sighed and thought Oh, girls… It was not some big moment, but having been a little girl I could sense the play of power by the girl that seemed to be the leader. She was most likely the one that came up with whatever game they were playing, only to suddenly change her mind and make it seem lame to the others. It’s not a cruel thought out maneuver at that age. I don’t even think that as a 6 year old girl you know what you’re doing, but it’s done.

I can relate to being both the leader and the follower as I think I switched between those roles through childhood depending on the friend. As the follower, you want to belong so badly. You don’t want to be caught liking something that might seem uncool or babyish. As the leader, you are almost accepting this power you feel the others have given to you or that you think you’ve earned and are taking charge. This is obviously pre the teenage mean girl years.

As you get into those tween or teen years, you tend to settle into one role or another more permanently. It’s no longer as easy to switch between being a leader and follower; at least that was my experience.

Without me saying anything about what I had just seen with the three girls, my sister in law pointed to the one that had been in the middle and said, “That girl is definitely the leader.” Then she looked at my one year old niece and said, “I hope she’s not a follower. I hope she has good self esteem.”

Her hope is not necessarily that she boss her friends around and tell them what and how to feel. Her hope is that her self esteem is high enough that she doesn’t feel the need to take anyone else’s lead; that she not be afraid to be who she is regardless of what others think is cool. I think that’s what most parents want for their kids and it’s difficult to raise your kids to not fall into that peer pressure.

Currently, at one years old, my niece has that don’t f**k with me attitude. But at one what does that determine? It’s hard to know what all the factors are that come into play. There’s a lot done at home to build up children’s self esteem but I can imagine that friends make a big impact too. I have no training in this and do not have kids of my own yet, but can only imagine how hard it is to raise strong (but not mean) kids.

I also sense that those leaders that are actually bullies have low self esteem themselves. So what I hope for my niece is that she feels strong enough to carve her own path and not feel like her and her friends have to be exact replicas of themselves. They can have their own interests and still be friends. I’d rather her not be a follower or a leader if that makes sense.

Visitor at Dawn

Before the sun rose this morning, I was sitting in my room truly afraid for the first time about living alone in my house. Sure, I’ve had moments when I hear a certain noise and tense up for a minute wondering what it might be, but it passes pretty quickly and I realize it was a branch against the window or the AC. For the most part, I’ve been pretty calm living alone in a house, not apartment or condo. I have an alarm and that’s been good enough security for me.

My neighborhood is pretty quiet and calm. You never want to be too naive, but I really think that the cops biggest problem is probably some teenagers on their skate boards making too much noise or sneaking to have a drink or smoke in one of the remaining empty lots.

A little before 5 this morning, my doorbell rang. At first I thought I had dreamt it, but then it rang again. I hesitated. Then I thought it could be my brother or sister in law, who live around the block, and something might have happened. Maybe they left the house in a hurry and forgot their phone. I glanced at my cell phone on the night stand to see if perhaps I had slept through a text…nothing. The door bell rang again.

As I walked out of my room, a more rapid knocking began on the front door. I cursed myself for still not having changed the front door, since my current one has no peep hole. There’s a big window next to the front door, but the thought of peering through it and having some crazy or violent person staring back at me freaked me out too much.

“Who is it?” I asked with my heart in my throat.

“It’s me,” said a female voice. It sounded like an older woman.

“Who’s me?”

“Gina” she replied in a way that made me think this could be a mistake and not some murderer.

“You have the wrong house.” I took a deep breath in hoping that she wouldn’t argue back.


“You have the wrong house,” I yelled this time. “I don’t know you!”

“Oh” was all she said.

I continued to stand by the door quietly trying to calm myself down and listening to see if I heard her leaving or not. After a little while I went back to my room, but of course my heart kept pounding rapidly and my mind kept racing. I kept going through all these scenarios and wondering whether she really left or whether she’d be back.

All the Orange is the New Black I watched this week was filling my head with some ludicrous ideas. Just because she sounded like an older woman, didn’t mean that she couldn’t do me harm. Or what if it was some poor woman with dementia who somehow got out of her house and came by thinking that her friend lived here. Maybe her friend had lived here years ago. Should I call the police? The thoughts shot like rapid fire in my head.

In college I took a class at UMASS called “Media and Culture” or something like that. It was one of the best classes I’ve ever taken and a lot of stuff I learned that semester has stuck with me. One of the things the professor told us is that the people who tend to most afraid of life are those who consume the most pop culture. When you watch thrillers, mysteries and even investigative news reports like 20/20, you can think about certain scenarios that you never would have imagined otherwise.

I am a pretty avid movie and TV watcher, but horror and mysteries, even action, aren’t genres that I pay that much attention to, so it’s never been much of an issue for me. But maybe my recent Netflix watching was getting into my head.

I ended up falling back asleep after the sun rose. It somehow felt safer at that point. As I left for yoga I was still a little creeped out, checking through the window to see if anyone was sitting outside my front door. I walked quickly to my car scanning the perimeter to see if I saw anyone random milling around. I know it was an isolated incident and that I’m safe, but it did plant a little seed of fear in my head about being alone. If anything it pushed me to finally get a peephole in my door or have the alarm company install one of those cameras by the front door.

Held Hostage by Netflix

I know I’ve been a little flaky with the consistent writing, but I have to blame it on Netflix. Anyone not living in a pop culture free world knows that Orange is the New Black premiered last Friday releasing all of season 2 episodes. I actually held off until Sunday to get started, but now (Thursday) I only have 2 of the 13 left to go.

I’ve been working on a couple of new posts, but don’t get too far into them because then I get that itch to watch the show. I’m actually surprised that I’ve been pacing myself with a 3 episode per day cap.

It’s fun while you work your way through the episodes, but then what?! That’s the thing with binge watching shows. It’s over way too quickly and then you have to wait close to a year to watch anymore. I even felt that this last short season of Mad Men went by too quickly and that was one episode a week for 7 weeks.

Most people, some of my friends included, now won’t watch shows during their regular run. They wait until the DVD’s are out or full seasons are on Netflix so as to not have to wait from week to week to watch the next episode. I actually like that anticipation. I feel that with good TV like Mad Men or Parenthood it actually gives me the week to process what happened and wonder what might be in store for the following week.

Obviously, I don’t value that enough to not pace myself with OITNB. Once it’s at your fingertips, it really is too hard to release. So I’ll get back to watching now and promise that by the weekend I’ll be back to more regular thought provoking posts.


“Why does there have to be pressure?” my yoga teacher told me yesterday. “Why don’t you just relax and not feel guilty. Enjoy the time.”

It’s like she knew me all too well just by observing me in class. She can probably tell that there are days when I can’t separate myself from my thoughts and I let that take over my practice. As much as yoga has helped me, I do still have a tough time just relaxing. Even when I go get a massage, it takes me like the first half to relax. The worst is when they tell you to relax. I then stress myself out trying to have my arm go limp or seem relaxed. In yoga I can feel myself getting in my own way, almost sabotaging my ability to do the pose, but I can’t stop it.

So my yoga teacher probably senses this about me. Before class I was telling her about my trip and my sabbatical. I mentioned to her that now that I’m back from my trip, I feel that the pressure is on to figure things out. Which is when she said what she said. I know she’s right to a certain extent. It’s how I tried to deal with the first half of my leave after I got over my initial guilt of not working. But I somehow feel like I need to have an answer prior to July 7th as to what I want to do. Do I want to go back to work? And if not, then what will I be doing? If I’m being practical, I can’t quit my job without something else in the works. Right?

I think the key is to meet somewhere in the middle on this pressure and stress in. The more I relax and enjoy my remaining time off, the more likely I’ll be to get in touch with what I’d like to be doing. Right?

Solo Travel Completed – Now What?

The last 2 weeks were very introspective, adventurous and eye opening for me. To be honest, I didn’t know how hard it would be. It seemed crazy to take 2 months off from work and not go on at least one long vacation. Over the years I’ve googled “solo travel” on more than one occasion seeing what possibilities were out there, but it never went further than some research. This time, however, it felt like I had to make a move and so I went ahead and booked the trip.

At first it didn’t really phase me that I was doing it alone, but as the trip grew closer I started getting nervous. I was hesitant about taking the trip on my own and didn’t know what to expect.

While on the trip, I was no longer nervous, but I did feel lonelier than I thought I would feel at times. The trip was a bit bitter sweet. I was visiting all these amazing places, but I wasn’t sharing it with anyone but myself. The thing is that you don’t have to be alone to feel lonely. I’ve found that you can feel lonelier surrounded by other people than you can on your own.

In Durnstein, Austria
In Durnstein, Austria

There were lots of people that I met on the trip that were very welcoming. I met some fun, smart and warm people that I never would have met otherwise. Almost everyone I sat with at meals was a pleasure to talk to and would always then reach out to me when I’d see them in the lounge or on the walking tours. Some couples, I felt, even took me under their wing. I was most comfortable with the non-couple travelers like girl friends traveling together or mother and daughter duos. It seemed less intrusive to sit with them at dinner than with 1-2 couples.

Like I mentioned several posts back on introversion, this was a big step for me. I had to strike up conversations with people that I didn’t know well or at all. I don’t want to make it sound like it was torture and I don’t want anyone to pity me, because at the end of the day I had a great experience. It’s not as hard as I thought to talk to virtual strangers and to get to know new people. I got to visit some amazing towns and cities. I learned a great deal about the history of these places by having local guides instead of just simply going through a guide book. I tried really good regional foods. And I met people that I otherwise would not have had the opportunity to meet.

Would I prefer to go with a travel companion next time? Of course, but I don’t regret for a second going on the trip. I learned a lot about myself and what I am capable of if I just push myself.

Now that I’m back with 1 month left of my sabbatical, I’m starting to feel the pressure to really get down to what I want to do once this time is over. I had some thoughts while on the trip, but have to really start fleshing out what those next steps might be. It’s a good place to be in in my life and I have to continue to push myself out of my comfort zone and try new paths and adventures.