Hope

The soft silk of hope
Drapes my heart
Like fresh sheets on bare legs
wrapped in the scent of cautious optimism,
Like the subtle scent of your favorite detergent.
As the sunrises, reminders of new days and
New beginnings, fill your soul.
And just like how you forget and then remember how
the faintness of soft, clean fabric
feels like a breath of fresh air;
Gentle and coy,
Such is the first touch of fragile hope.

-LeAnna

Photo credit: David Mao

Thank Me Later: Things NOT To Do On and/or After A First Date

I would call myself a pretty well-seasoned first dater. I have been on a lot of first dates. Which may say something about myself or the people I’ve gone on dates with, but nevertheless, I think I am an amateur expert on them. And I’ve gathered a lot of stories about what not to do, and the ain’t shitness of people on first dates. And thus, I’ve compiled this list for you to help you be a better first dater and ultimately, a better human being. Because these are things you should not do in order to just not be a complete asshole. Ok, let’s begin.

Please DO NOT…

honey-you-have-been-on-so-many-dates-that-the-mayans-need-to-invent-a-new-calendar-f77d9

1) Show up late without letting the other person know, and anything over 15-20 minutes unless it is an extreme emergency, like your family is dying or something (in case of extreme emergency, please just cancel) is charting into rude territory. Especially if you picked the time. I once had a guy show up 1.5 hours late (I am way too kind, my ass should have left after 30) and looking like last night. Which brings me to point number 2…

2) Put a little effort into how you look for the date. Like, you don’t need to be movie star-ish, but you shouldn’t look like you just rolled out of bed and that you just dgaf about life. Like this is someone’s time! It’s respect to look decent. Again, I’m not saying anything about brand names, make up, dresses, slacks, etc… but looking like you took time to shower and dress (unless you agreed on meeting after the gym or at the gym or at a mud race), is kinda important.

giphy

3) Order for the other person. Just don’t do it. Just don’t. It was sweet maybe 60 years ago when women had no rights and we had to eat what you wanted us to eat. Now if either person does it for the other person, it just seems you are insulting their ability to read a menu or know what they want. If they ask for a suggestion or for you to order them something, that’s different. But if they don’t. Just don’t. Like never. Like do I seriously have to tell you this? Apparently, cause it has happened to me.

tenor

4) Not talk at all or very minimally. There is no rule saying you have to like the person you are with. But if they are a decent human and you decide to finish the date, be nice and polite. If you can’t stand the thought of spending another moment with the idiot across from the table, excuse yourself from the date politely.

tenor (1)

5) And if someone excuses themselves because it isn’t working for them, accept that. Let them go. Either they are delusional and completely wrong, and why would you want to date them? Or you’re an asshole. In which case, why would they want to date you? Get over it. We are adults.

5838d974184ac8ecb595e6357f7f94f8

6) Mention your money hardships on the date that you invited the person to and you picked the place. It’s uncomfortable for everyone. If you’d like to go dutch, mention it before the date, in a nice and polite way. Or suggest a free date, like a walk, a movie in the park, or a local festival. Research fun, inexpensive or free things to do in your town. It’s a Google search. You use it for cat videos and memes, use it for this. Put some effort into it.

source

7) Make any comments about a person’s appearance that is not positive. You do not have to be attracted to a person. And in the world of online dating, it `happens – people don’t look like their pictures sometimes. If it’s a true catfish – use your back up plan (a friend who knows where you are, your exit strategy) to get out immediately. But if it is the more common, you kinda look like your pictures, but you took them in shadows, and I was drunk swiping anyway, or my friend does not understand my taste in people and this blind date sucks big time, don’t tell the person they are fatter, uglier, thinner, *insert any physical adjective* than what you thought. You are a completely awful human being. We all are humans. We have insecurities. You are not expected or required to find this other person attractive and date them. You are expected to be a decent human. Finish the date. Make it short. But be fucking kind please. Dates are nerve wrecking for most of us, especially those aren’t super models like obviously those who are throwing stones.

online-dating2-1h3togt-300x204

8) Pretend like you’ve been dating the person forever and claim they are yours. This is weird. You also don’t know if they like you. Also, don’t tell bartenders wait staff, other people around that we have been dating forever. This is annoying on a first date and not cute. Why are you embarrassed to be on a first date? Also, I will call you out.

i-dont-know-her-gif

9) Feel obligated to take this date anywhere beyond where it is at the date. You are not obligated to sleep with this person (but you can if you want to, forget what society says), have another date, talk to them after the date, kiss them, like them, or anything else. It’s totally ok and quite normal to feel absolutely nothing, even if they are generally nice and you had a nice time.

fc7329816f80ce17b75867483a039ec4 (2)

10)Pressure someone else to take the date anywhere beyond where it is. If you think they are feeling you and you want to know if they would like to go for a slice of pizza, coffee, drink, cuddles, or sex. Ask how they feel about it in a non threatening way that allows the other person to say no. If they say no, don’t blow up or get sad. Communicate you understand. Also, read #8, they may not be feeling you. It’s ok. Your ego will be hurt. That’s ok. You will be ok. I promise. Go eat ice cream, drink wine, or be those weird people and work out to deal with it. And then go swiping again. Or go meet people however other people meet people, but I don’t know how to do that, so just do you.

11) This is related to #9. After the date, the person may not like you like that. They may think, well, he/she/they would be a great friend or not like you at all or want to marry you. It’s ok to attempt to gain clarity around that. RESPECT their decision. Again, get ice cream/wine/exercise/vent to a friend if you need to. But don’t lash out against them, especially if they were kind enough to let you know. If they avoid you, you can try one more time maybe, but then move on. It becomes stalking. Some people don’t want to tell you in person. And I used to feel strongly that they should. But now I don’t anymore, and I’ll tell you why. After attempting to be a mature, kind human, and tell people how I feel, I have gotten a lot of aggressive responses when I say no. It’s scary and a headache and you feel like shit for just being human and not being attracted to them. I still try to practice this, but I get how that can be really damaging for folks and even, scary. Hence why I say, respect what folks say or do. Similarly, if they are ignoring you or giving you short answers, boo boo, they just ain’t that into you.

These are some of the top offenders from my and other people I know experiences. Bottom line: be a good human please. Are there any I’ve missed? Drop them below in the comments.

Sunday Dinner w/Lee

I love to cook and bake. It is usually super relaxing for me and it is healthier and cheaper than most food in NYC. Most Sundays, I turn up the slow jams, pour a glass of wine or bubbly, and take my time to make something delicious. This week was Mussels and Hot Sausage in a tomato garlic sauce with veggies and shirataki noodles (mostly no carb noodles – great for diabetics). This meal was quick, easy, and flavorful! I’m gonna share it.

I love Aldi, the grocery store. It’s super inexpensive, Trader Joe’s sister store, and carries tons of gems. Like frozen mussels in tomato and garlic sauce for 2.99 and hot italian chicken sausage -3.71 for 6, waiting to be transformed into a dish. Find it. Buy it. Make this dish.

Other Ingredients:
Frozen mussels in tomato and garlic sauce
Hot Italian Sausage – in the casing or already ground
1 Green Pepper
About 10 Cherry tomatoes give or take
2 cloves of garlic
Italian seasoning
Fresh basil
Butter (optional)
Dry white wine (optional)
Rice, cauliflower rice, noodles, OR shiratiki noodles (pick one)

Next, remove the sausage from the casing, and put their insides right into the pan. A pan that can also go in the oven. Just make a little slit all the way down and peel off. Easy peasy. I did three of ’em, put the other 3 in a Ziploc bag, and froze the rest for later (single girl moves). Now, turn on that heat, brown that sausage. Aye, look at you doing the things. Go ahead and pre-heat that oven to 400 degrees while you at it.

Ok now, chop up some veggies. I used a whole bell pepper cut into strips and then cut the strips in half. Also cut some cherry tomatoes in half, add them. Mince up some garlic. If you’re not a cooker, this just means, peel garlic (2 cloves), cut em up really fine and chop it again. Just throw it in the pan (in my Dream voice). Put the garlic on top of the veggies, helps it not burn. But then stir it. It’s weird. It works. Add salt, pepper, and italian seasoning. A dash of each, except maybe a lot of italian seasoning.

Ok, everything is getting a little saute, add a little splash of white dry wine if you dare, maybe a bit of butter, like a little pad. And dump the frozen mussels and the sauce into the pan. It will be frozen and stuck together. That’s ok. Then transfer the dish to the oven. Let it cook about 15 minutes, until mussels open up. Take out of the oven. Roll up some fresh basil into a cigar, chop thinly. Boom, you just did a fancy cutting technique that I don’t know how to spell. Sprinkle on top.

I recommend serving this with rice to soak up the juices. I did not do this. I used those gluten free, carb free, vegan shiratki noodles (that are actually quite good despite those descriptors). You could also use cauliflower rice. That would be good.

Now eat. I recommend a glass of that white wine you opened for this dish. Thank me for making you happy.

Hope and Tinder

I recently read that the brain shows similar reward responses to matches on Tinder, Soul Swype, Bumble, pick your poison, as it does to crack (which, interestingly, is the same as being in love). That we are basically addicted to matches, especially since they are on unknown and varied schedule system (basically it’s gambling, but for love or lust). I disagree my brain works this way. In fact, I’ve come to realize my brain is terrified of matches.

Perhaps, it isn’t in response to the match or app itself, but rather to what it represents, or actually fails to represent for me. Every match, every convo, every date so far, has been a failed attempt of my ability to build meaningful romantic connection.

Before you tell me something clichè or bad advice, like “wait until you least expect it,” “stop expecting anything and something will happen someday,” “God is working on your husband,” “and have you tried *insert everything I’ve tried, only short of wearing a sign around my neck every day and changing who I am completely to be with someone,* please first, try to listen with your heart and hear the hurt in my words. Imagine the pain that I (and many others) may feel from constant rejection or failed attempts at love. The days where we wish we could just give in and choose the good enough person, because that’s better, or the times we refuse the great person because deep down, we aren’t sure we it’s real. But mostly, remember what it feels like to always be picked last at recess, to not be liked, to try to do something and do it right, and yet, each time prove to be another learning lesson or outright failure. None of these things will kill you, they teach you character and resilience, but no one would deny that they hurt like hell to be repeated for several attempts. And then, perhaps, you can understand why this isn’t an appropriate time for a clichè or advice.

A match means another time to not get it right. To move too fast, too slow, to be not the right pretty, too fiery in wit and attitude, but too boring for nightlife, to not be enough, to be too hopeful, but obviously miss every yellow flag, to be jaded and completely unhopeful, for first dates with no sparks on either or both sides, to let down guys not for you, but with good hearts, to be potentially mentally abused, to be too hopeful (repeated twice), to let down everyone rooting for a relationship for you, to have to explain why it didn’t happen.

Most people say I put too much pressure on it. The reality is, I honestly don’t. I no longer swipe looking for love or something, I learned you can’t build homes out of people. Recently, I’ve been swiping with a dull numbness, occasionally feeling a spark, but not expecting anything, and that kills me at least as much as, if not more, than expecting nothing and going with the flow (which is a phrase I hate… not a dead fish, although I try). It kills me, and I suspect at least one other sensitive person like myself, reading this blog, because it removes the hope that has always sustained humanity from the equation, removes the hope of connection, which, that desire for connection, is a precursor for, building connection, removes the hope that things can always be magical and unexpected things can happen… and instead replaces it with a somber feeling that love and connection are not real or you must settle, and that you are wrong and silly for ever believing these things, or in the magic of life.

I have never, ever felt that I needed a man to complete me or make my life better. In spite of my many flaws, I consider myself a complete and whole person (perhaps a little bruised, but aren’t we all). But I do yearn for romantic love. (Spoiler alert: these two things are not mutually exclusive). And although matches, talking to someone I find attractive, and dates terrify me, I must not give into temptation to go with the flow… I must hold onto hope.

Pre First Date Thoughts

I just touched up my make up and am heading down 12 floors in an elevator, gonna stop to pass some time, maybe have a shot or something, to take the jitters off… Cause I’m currently less than an hour out from a first date.

Ok. Hold on. People who text and walk in NYC are the absolute worst, can’t walk…

Ok. I’m back in my favorite place to grab an after work caipirinha. Yum. I can feel the alcohol. He made this one well.

So yeah, pre date is kind of the worst. Angsty, nervous, butterflies, and scared as hell that this will be Tinder/Bumble/SoulSwipe/Match/insert other crappy ways to try to meet someone you connect with and can watch movies Sat night til you pass out and brunch with in the morning date #2019749 that goes nowhere (see Malcolm’s earlier post) for details. And so the pre date thoughts begin…

I look down at my toes and wonder why I didn’t paint them… well this was kinda a surprise, and he should know I’m a hot mess anyway.

Wondering if he is as good as he seems or is it bull like all 9374029 times?

Will this be fun? Will he take an interesting turn at the end of the night and be a baby, asshole, demanding, abusive, or weird?

Is this shade of lipstick nice?

What is cachaca anyway? I love this cocktail.

Is he the one?

Stop thinking about if he is the one. Everyone says so. Go with the flow. Be a dead fish in that way. Not ok to think nice guy is the one.

Does he look like his pics?

Hell, do I look like my pics?

Will we kiss? Ladies don’t kiss in the first date. Good thing I’m not a lady.

Is he the one?

STOP STOP STOP. Not allowed to think of people as potential mates. All the latest advice from every single and partnered person, magazine, article, self help book and auntie says so. This is why you fail!!

He wrote a book? Who TF writes a book?

This girl brought her date and her friends and had her dad meet her at this bar? Weird. But cool. My dad would do that.

Ok date. Probably, should take the train now. Damn trains. Better not be late.

This outfit makes me look curvy AF in a good way.

I hope he’s not a serial killer, despite the fact I’ve never met a serial killer on online dating.

He has nice shoulders and arms in his pics. The better to lift you with.Yassssss.

LeAnna, don’t be so lusty. Sheesh.

Malcolm would say be lusty.

Ashley would too.

I hope he calls me after.

Ahhh screw it… is he THE ONE?!?!

Time to go now and face the date!!!

Oh wait. His train is late. Better have another drink and think more thoughts!!

The Difficulties of Self Love: A Letter to My Current Self From my Future Self

Dear Current Self,

This is Future LeAnna. I see you girl. You’re struggling right now. I know that your body is changing faster than and in more ways you can imagine. Maybe it’s the medications you are on, maybe it’s the new city, maybe it’s your hormones, or growing older? I don’t know. It doesn’t seem like your old tricks are working anymore – you workout regularly, you walk more than ever, you eat well most of the time, and nothing works. And when you do lose weight, your body shape is really different from super past LeAnna. You need to purge many clothes that don’t make you feel good and don’t fit, and you need to buy new clothes, and dammit, as much as you love to shop, this a been a slow, somber, and laborious process. And you’re really struggling with if this is ok, is it enough? Every picture and many mirrors point to “no,” at least you believe.

You’ve really come far on this whole self-love and body acceptance thing, but you’ve had a long time to come, and so no, this isn’t perfect or quick or near. Mixed messages are driving you fucking insane. You know the ones – love yourself, but then people lose weight and are happier and have “post pics” where they’re smiling and shit. And even though you’ve got your health and diabetes now under good control (like non diabetic numbers), you still have this fear that you’re somehow sloppy and unhealthy and others think that of you based on your size, and there’s a good type of “plus,” the one that everyone else is but you – you know curvy in the right places, proportionate and a fat ass, and I’m not sure why you take these so personally, but you do (don’t worry, you’ll figure this out and be more compassionate in the future. Remember you always figure it out).

I know that these past two weeks, every time you look in the mirror, you’ve struggled to see the beauty in your eyes, your crooked smile,  your balding hair (another post, another day, don’t come from me or I’ll come for you), your bushy brows (I meeeeean, why the hell did you wait so long to get them done though?), and your squishy belly (by the way this is genetic). You’ve questioned if is this why he decided he no longer wanted you in your life? You were sweet, you supported him during hard times, you were bomb in bed, and you were authentic. But maybe, just maybe, he couldn’t get past your curves, the cushion, the arms that are muscular (the doctor even commented on how muscular they were when she put that nexplanon in your arm), but still kinda squishy. Maybe my eyes weren’t the right shade of green or hazel or the dimples in my thigh too deep? Maybe my double digit dress size would have been more appeasing in a single digit? Who knows why they disappear? But it leaves you in anxiety, but just as Past Lee learned, you will continue to learn, that these doubts are symptoms of your trauma and other shit, and you’ll continue to grow compassion for that part of you, instead of blaming it for others failing to love and see you. I know right now, you’re rolling your eyes, and saying that Future Lee is full of BS. But you’ll come to accept that more too.

Current Lee, I want you to know that you’re beautiful. And that reading this right now fills your heart with quickening beats of anxiety and doubt, and oddly, guilt for reading this statement (you never think you deserve this).. But you are. People are not lying about how your smile, eyes, and freckles make you beautiful. And when they see your beauty, they really do mean you’re beautiful on the outside, and not because they know you or love your personality, but in light all of that, you are. People are not lying about your energy; it’s your gift – use it. Your size is fine. Your body is fine. Your shape is fine. It’s actually better than fine. Girl, you are fine. You are healthy. You do enough. You are flexible and can run. It’s enough. No one judges you running down the street and if they do, fuck them; you’re powerful girl.

You have never loved your body fully; even when you exercised for hours a day, skipping lunch, and was half your size, on the verge of an eating or exercise disorder, and even your father commented on your small size and lack of eating. This is a symptom of something bigger, and future Lee wants you to know, that you will overcome this. It gets better. You deserve love and light and wonderful things, and you will get these things – as soon as you stop standing in your own way. You’re making progress though, you are just having a bad couple of weeks, letting self-loathing have a go at your life. But Current Lee, I love you fiercely – past, current and future – even when you can’t feel it. You are the love of my life. You are my soulmate. I’m waiting on you, Current Lee. You just have to get your shit together and accept my unconditional love. I know you want it. And you deserve it.

You. Are. More. Than. Enough. Today.

With love until the end of time and then even more,

Future Lee