Six Point Five (6.5)

Recently, I received a message from a guy on an online dating site. It was just a number, 6.5, and nothing else. Not even a hello. I didn’t get what it meant, so I looked at his profile for a clue.

 
I love that he put the ten (10) in parentheses, as though writing a lease or legal document.

It was then that I understood. He was rating me.

****

I started online dating last December. I’d been single for almost four years, but had only been on a few dates. My friends were starting to worry about me. I guess the pleasure they once found in my awkwardness around men was turning to panic. They urged me to try dating online as a way to get out of my comfort zone. I protested, and explained, probably in whining tones, that I like my comfort zone, and that it smells like cookies, and that no one ever wants to see me naked there. They rolled their eyes at this, and helped sign me up for Tinder and OkCupid.

It was terrifying at first. It felt so inorganic. But the last time I was single and dating was over a decade ago. I was in my late twenties, and cuter. My badly broken heart wasn’t holding me back. There seemed to be more single men to choose from. It was less complicated back then, and much easier to meet people.

Online dating was also daunting to me because I have always been shy and awkward around total strangers. I’m incapable of small talk. Not to mention I have no idea how to flirt, and, in turn, have no idea when someone is flirting with me. So having dinner with someone I’ve never met, where there is an expectation of something romantic is not my best look.

At first, simply getting a message from a “match” was enough to make my palms sweat. The first time a guy asked for a date? I ignored him for three days. Trying to return a message would leave me twisting in my chair, and asking my girlfriends to help me come up with witty responses. This was a great source of entertainment (and relief) for them.

After a couple months I got the hang of it. I came up with my own witty responses. I even got brave enough to call men out when they were lame, or weird or inappropriate.

082e7-darin2b2Sometimes that was a boatload of fun (Darin, for example), other times it was horrible. I learned that the normal rules of etiquette do not apply in the virtual dating world – for instance, it is standard operating procedure for messages to be ignored. I didn’t get this at first, but now I do. It is the gentlest, and easiest way possible to show that you are not interested.

Once I mastered some good practices, I got more comfortable. By nature, I am curious and open-minded, and it turned out that these traits helped keep me motivated and willing to engage. But these traits worked to my disadvantage as well, leading me to message much longer with people I knew would never be a match. But I was too fascinated sometimes to stop, and excited about my new found confidence with this format.

I quickly realized just how naive I was. Kinks, and fetishes, and open marriages, oh my. Did you know there are men who get off on having their small penises made fun of? I didn’t either, but spent a couple weeks chatting with one. I got quite proficient in making small dick jokes, though we also talked about real things. He was sweet, self-aware, and sex-positive, but I was too scared to meet him in person.

And speaking of sex-positive, I wasn’t even aware this was a social movement until someone used the term in a message. I’d like to think it’s because I never needed to put a name to my personal evolution from a repressed Catholic girl to a sexually healthy forty year old woman. But as open minded as I think I am, I’m embarrassed to admit that I thought that people had fetishes because they were damaged in some way. I learned otherwise, after asking a lot of questions of the men who were willing to share their experiences. They were eager to explain to a listener who wasn’t judging, and I’m guessing that’s because they’ve been misunderstood and shamed all too often.

I’m less judgmental of the open-marriage thing also. I don’t have much to report on it, other than I don’t recommend dating a guy who is married if you are single. It’s tough on the ego, even if the sex is good and they are respectful and cautious. Do yourself a favor and save that experience for when you are both in open marriages. I will say that I understand the model now a little better, and judge away, but it’s more common and not as weird as you might think. I’m not saying it’s superior to traditional, monogamous marriages. But I don’t think it’s worse.

I did manage to date a few unmarried men without fetishes. But it didn’t pan out so well with them either. One of them gave me a three month long, real life demonstration of what approach-avoidance behavior looks like. Approach (text a lot), Avoid (don’t text for a week). Repeat. I let the cycle happen a few times, but had enough on the third go-round. Also, I was fairly certain he gave me an STD. When a good friend pointed out that his name rhymed with “STD Nightmare”, I laughed so hard that I wanted to kiss her on the lips. But I waited until all the tests came back negative before doing so.

Another guy showed me that men, as well as women, can be Class Five Clingers. He seemed sweet and passionate, and really into me, which felt great. But he wanted to fix things around the house after two dates. Then, when we were in bed one night he asked me to kiss him like it was our wedding night. I’ll give you a moment to let that sink in. I don’t know what it means, but it doesn’t matter, because he ended up being mean to me. I was stunned by his cruelty, but it barely penetrated. I’d only ever been with kind, level headed, good men. This particular experience was, at the very least, a reminder of my good fortune in this area of my life.

****

 

e0fe8-6-5

My response. I know. Not my proudest moment.

I don’t know why 6.5/Douchelord guy got to me so much, but I shut down the online dating accounts, and washed my hands of the whole thing. Being rated, even by an anonymous douchelord, put me over the edge. I’d known for a while that trying to date this way wasn’t for me.

I know this brand of cruelty happens in the real world too, – but online, it happens constantly. And I just don’t need to be tested that much. I’ll keep my thin skin, thank you.

There is good news though. I did have a lovely, proper, normal date recently. It restored some hope, even if it didn’t turn into anything.

And I did learn a lot about myself these past ten months. I gained some much needed confidence back. I learned that I have a sturdy backbone, and a healthy sense of self worth. Most importantly, I realized that I am ready to let someone into my heart again.

Which I now see was the point my girlfriends were trying to get me to. And I love them dearly for this.

More Food, Less Pain,

xo-L

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Face-planting in May

Bre,

I fell and broke a tooth a couple nights ago. A front tooth. Ok, not one of the two front and center ones, but one next to those. My right lateral incisor. Broke off the bottom half. I was walking while looking at my phone, like a dummy. It was dark, and I was exhausted and a little slow from a couple glasses of wine.

It happened so suddenly that I had no time to react or brace, and so my face was the first thing to hit the front of the parked car in my path. My hand hit the car next, too late to save me, but bloodied from the effort. I slowly stood up, stunned, but with enough sense left to assess the situation. I knew I was okay, but I also knew that something cracked when I made impact. Then I felt a piece of tooth on my tongue, and spit it out with force. I’d like to think I looked like a bad-ass boxer in the middle of a fight. But I doubt I did.

I feel sick as I write that. It was awful actually, but it could have been so much worse. The break didn’t expose any nerve, so there was no tooth pain. My hand and my neck are sore, but there’s no visible sign of injury. My lips are swollen, but it’s barely noticeable. They just look plump. Maybe even sexy. Except for the unsightly gap in my smile. But my dentist got me in quickly, and by noon I had a new tooth. It doesn’t look the same, and will take some getting used to, but I was so grateful for modern dentistry yesterday that I thanked the staff there about 6,000 times.

What kills me about the whole thing is that it’s May, and crazy shit like this seems to happen to me in this month. I’ve probably talked with you about it before – how my therapist said that there is some muscle memory/brain trickery that goes on when we approach the anniversary of a traumatic event. It’s not that we’re necessarily sad about it,  or reflecting much on the event, but our bodies and brains remember. Things get stirred up. We subconsciously brace for the worst. It’s called the “Anniversary Reaction”, and is fairly common I guess.

My dad died on May 31st fourteen years ago. He was 69, and it was supposed to be a routine surgery. And now every May or early June something in my life goes severely pear shaped. It was four years ago, in the first few days of June, that R & I parted ways after seven years together. In the last week of that May, we fought with a terrible intensity, and split in the first days of June. I don’t know why we didn’t break up in April instead, or July.

That was the year you and I met. Remember what a mess I was? Ah, memories.

And then last year, in late May, I learned he was getting married. I cried for 24 hours, much to the bewilderment everyone close to me, including myself. It’s as if the pain was reconstituted somehow when combined with all the other things May stirs up. A week later I got the worst food poisoning I’ve ever had – which put me out of work for a week, and in the ER one night.

I thought I was getting a pass this year. But May has been crazy from the start. There’s the move to the new place, which is positive, but exhausting. There’s been some tough, sad family stuff, also with positive outcomes, but trying nonetheless. I’m attempting to date via the app Tinder, which is probably the worst idea I’ve ever had. The one decent, sweet, real person I’ve met happens to be in a healthy open marriage. A lot of guys are just inappropriate, and want to send pictures of their dicks.

And now the tooth, which, in itself isn’t that big a deal. But it feels like a reminder of how little in life is within our control, and how fast that can happen.

I barely slept the night it happened. I kept thinking of all the things I did “wrong” that lead up to that moment: not enough sleep, no dinner, 2 glasses of wine, looking at my phone while walking. And those thoughts snowballed into a full blown attack about me not having my shit together. I mean, if I had my fucking shit together I would have eaten dinner, and put my phone in my purse while walking. I’d have all my teeth, meet a good guy,  be more financially stable. Prettier. Smarter. Ten pounds lighter.

You know, totally logical stuff.

Some nurturing last night helped. I took a walk to the water, did some weeding, ate a healthy dinner, and enjoyed a quiet night in with a welcome interruption by girlfriends bearing ice cream. The solid night of sleep I got made all those awful thoughts I was having go away.

And today I see things more clearly. Falling on my face? It doesn’t really matter how that came to be. It happened. Accidents happen. Life happens. As do breakups, and Dads dying before they ought to. We try so hard to control, prevent, or deny the inevitable.

So much of the struggle with pain is in our resistance to it. Then there’s more pain in the “second arrow”  (a Buddhist teaching) of blame we shoot at ourselves. It doesn’t help to control. And it doesn’t help to blame. The wound needs attention, nothing else. So if a face-plant in May was what I needed for a reminder of this, then so be it.

I’ll take time now to tend to the wound losing my father left. I’ll reflect today and tomorrow. No resisting. And I’ll remind myself that all the fucked up pear shaped things that happened in the Mays since have brought me friends like you.

See you soon. xo

Most Wonderful Time?

My bluebird of happiness ornament

As hard as I try, I can never entirely avoid a good cry or two during the holiday season. I call it the “Christmas Cry”, and I had a couple good ones this year. December stirs up a lot of emotion for me, and I know I’m not crazy for, or alone in this in the slightest. I don’t like the pressure to be anything other than what I am, or to feel anything other than what I feel. And I’m terrible at pretending otherwise.

Christmas is this huge deal to a lot of people, and it’s built up for weeks-and-weeks-and-oh-the-shopping-and-the-gifts-and-the-parties-and-the-cookies-and-the-blah-and-the-blah. It’s a little too much for this low-key introvert. Every time I hear that carol that starts with “It’s the most wonderful time of the year…”  all I can think is “Geeze, the pressure…”.

I’m no Grinch though. I adore the real tree I have – the one I get every year from The Maher Garden Center. Each ornament has meaning, and I love unpacking them and hanging them. I love the lights around Newport, strung all over trees and boats and storefronts. I love the food, and the wine, and the time shared with friends and family. I love making cocoa and watching “Elf” and, please don’t judge, “Love Actually” (though that triggered an early Christmas Cry this year.) I even like some of the music.

In the past few days, I decided to put aside a few hours alone for myself on this Christmas day.

When people asked me what I was doing today, I didn’t expect the looks of pity I received when I mentioned the plan for some solitude. I guess that sounded sad to some people. But the truth is I really just needed a long walk, and a nap, and to rest after a busy couple of weeks.

I suppose I shouldn’t have been surprised by the looks, since this holiday is engineered for moms and dads with kids. But me? I’m childless (by choice), and single (by fate) at  forty. And while I’m comfortable with my life, I’ll admit that it’s tough not to feel a little sting about it, now and then, and especially at Christmas.

But I’m not the slightest bit lonely or sad today, save for missing my dad a little. I spent Christmas eve and part of this morning with the family I was born in to – 5 brothers and 2 sisters, my mom, some nephews (lost count, 5?), one awesome niece, and a few in-laws. They are all strong, unique, smart and, well, totally annoying people. But they crack me up endlessly, and I am so grateful for them.

And then I have the family I chose – friends, who know my every quirk and flaw, every strength and weakness – who’ve held me in their arms and hearts through very tough times, and who keep me laughing every day. I’ll be spending time with some of them tonight, and some of them tomorrow night, which means that the only Christmas Cry-ing I’ll be doing is laughing until I cry.

I am obviously counting my blessings here. And that is a holiday tradition I am totally fine with.

Peace and love to you all.

And of course, more food, less pain,
xoxo -L

 

 

Local Woman Survives Dangerous Self-Pity Spiral

This is my first blog post in 4 months. A few people, especially Favorite Niece, have been asking for a post. Favorite Niece even offered up some fodder from her own life. For instance, she fainted this summer while eating a sandwich. She was completely sober, hydrated and well rested. The doctors never figured out why. The sandwich had bacon on it. There’s a post in there for sure, and I should have just handed the blog over to her for a while.

Depressed cat.

I didn’t write because I lost my sense of humor this summer around the two things I blog about most: food and love. Food poisoning and getting dumped, within the span of one month, will do that to a person.

I lost half of June to the food poisoning. It landed me in the ER, and caused me to miss a week of work. It left me weak, and actually quite anemic. It took me a month to feel strong and normal again, which was just in time for getting dumped mid-July. Luckily, my iron levels were approaching “normal” range by then, which the FDA recommends for single women my age who are at risk of experiencing a surprise break up.

In truth, I was neither surprised by or opposed to the end of the relationship. But I was disappointed that it came in the form of a monologue, instead of a discussion. There was no Q&A session offered. The “unilateral” approach he took (his word, not mine) left me stunned, and deeply hurt.

In short, my funny bone broke. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t find one interesting or humorous thing to say about being a recently dumped, slightly lonely, never-married, plumpy 40 year old who doesn’t even have a college degree.

And that’s a level of self pity I prefer to spare you from. In fact, it is reserved strictly for my closest girlfriends, who allow it, though only briefly. We have an understanding about this, and have a routine in place for such occasions: Go ahead. Rant.Cry.Get it out. But don’t forget your punchline. It’s a nod to this scene, in When Harry Met Sally:

Mine is the college degree bit. Another girlfriend prefers to end her speeches with “And I’m a renter!” Ridiculous? Yes. But it’s a clever trick that breaks the spell. Without fail, the mandatory punchline sends us into giggle fits. It reminds us to laugh at ourselves. And laughter, of course, brings relief.

Despite the shaky start, I made a point to enjoy the rest of the summer. I took every Friday off in August to hit the beach, and the resulting tan was the best one I’ve had in years. And because it is unconscionable to let a summer in Newport go by without a Del’s on the beach, or a Tallulah’s taco at the The Shack, or a sunset drink on roof of the Vanderbilt, or a drunken kiss on the street with a stunning Brazilian man, I made sure to do all of these things, most more than once. (Okay, maybe that last one isn’t requisite, but come on?)

I’ve always loved the months of September and October the most here in RI. But I probably welcomed the new season with more enthusiasm than usual this year. I wasn’t sad to see that summer go. One day in September, life just felt easier again. It’s been mostly drama free since, and I know not than to take this for granted. We had an amazing Indian Summer, and I made sure to enjoy every warm, peaceful, sunny day I was given.

And now we’ve had our first snow, and next month brings us into winter, and I say bring it on! Sure, winters here can be rough. And, yes, I’m still a never-married, plumpy 40 year old without a college degree. But I’m no longer sad, or lonely. And my doctor says my iron levels are pretty good. I even feel a little inspired to write again. But if I can’t think of anything soon we should totally take Favorite Niece out for a BLT, cross our fingers, and hope she faints.*

More Food. Less Pain.
xo-L

*My treat if she does!

.

Scraping the Bottom

Do you see the dust & grossness?
Last night, at 10:30pm, I ate candy that I found on the bottom of my purse. Haribo Raspberry candies. They were not individually wrapped. They were covered in purse dust. And they were DELICIOUS.

My excuse? I was dumped 10 days ago.

My friends don’t want me to say “dumped”. They keep pointing out that I wasn’t in love with him. They remind me that I’d been talking since May about possibly ending it, and that he only got to it sooner than I did. But I’m going with the “dumped” story for now. Because it allows me to say things like this:

 “Fuck it, I’m gonna eat this unwrapped, dusty candy at the bottom of my purse.”

Truth be told, what I actually wanted to say last night was this:

“Fuck it, I’m going to the bar ALONE to drink a Scotch. Then I’m going to smoke a cigarette. Then I’m going to text men that are bad for me.”

But I didn’t say or do any of the latter. Instead I dined out with a couple of girlfriends, and went home where I drank a very small, very diluted Old Fashioned. Then I ate the purse-candy, drank a glass of water, counted my blessings, and went to bed.

So if you think about it, eating candy from the bottom of my purse is actually PROGRESS.

Redemption, indeed!

I mean, check out these low points, and I think you’ll agree:

Day 1: Cleaned my apartment. Ever sob while Swiffering? I did.
Days 2, 3 & 4: Very few calories consumed. Very little sleep. Walked 15 miles in 3 days.
Day 5: Croissant. Giant prosciutto sandwich. Chocolate cake. Cheese and bread for dinner. A whole bottle of Rose.
Day 6: Completed a marathon of Prosecco drinking in just under 6 hours.
Day 7: Omelette. Pizza. Beer. Gyro. Loukoumades. Sleep.

On that 7th night, I slept for 10 hours.

After that, things got better.

Yes, there has been pathos, and gyros, and pain. And purse-candy. But there has also been the relief and the excitement that comes with a fresh start. I’ve had more time for walks and meals with my girlfriends, who are thoughtful, and fair, and loving with their support. I’ve had more time alone too, which, as an introvert, isn’t an unwelcome thing.

And now it’s summer, and I’m single and if you’ve read my blog before you know how awful I am at dating. Which is good news for you, since I’m sure I’ll write about it, and you’ll get to laugh at the horrors. Sigh. At least the eating is always good.

More Food, Less Pain,
xo-L

Birthday Cake!

I made my own cake for my 40th Birthday this month. For some reason, this exasperated a lot of folks. Clearly those people have never eaten a cake I’ve baked. Because if the did, they’d know it will be better than any cake ever made before. Like. Ever.

Maybe they felt sad for me. Maybe they were worried I’d be sitting at home alone, singing “Happy Birthday to Me.” As if. The fact is, I have plenty of friends who would make me a cake, if I asked them to. (Though the truth is I only have one friend that I trust with the task, and she was already organizing a cooking class/party for me.) I also have friends who would gladly buy me one, without hesitation.  But I am of the opinion that a homemade cake, made with a little skill, and a lot of love, ALWAYS tastes better than one from even the best bakery.

A homemade birthday cake should not be too composed. It should be slightly crooked, and there should be a few stubborn crumbs in the final layer of frosting. Despite these flaws, it should be oohed and aahed over, while the baker coyly rejects the compliments. Any leftover pieces should be wrapped and sent home with the guests, but one piece should remain, and should be eaten for breakfast the next morning. If you bring the cake elsewhere, the plate it was served on should be left behind at that person’s house for months.

I made Lora Brody’s “Best Birthday Cake”, from her beautiful cookbook Chocolate American Style. I picked it because it’s a fail-proof, delicious recipe, and also because my favorite cake/frosting combo is chocolate/vanilla. This frosting recipe has cream cheese and white chocolate and butter. Do I even need to explain what that means?

It means it’s rich and delicious, dummy. 

Here’s a link to the recipe, if you’re so inclined. It looks like a lot of ingredients and instruction, but don’t be afraid. It’s actually a good cake for a novice baker, as there is no creaming stage for the butter and sugar, and no tricky folding in of the dry and wet ingredients. If you do your mise en place ahead of time, it’s as simple as putting together a boxed cake mix. Even the frosting is tough to screw up.

And by the way, it’s still technically my Birthday Month, so if you want to buy me a gift it is not too late! Here’s a link to my Amazon Wish List*:

Louise’s Amazing Birthday Wish List **

More Food, Less Pain,
xo-L

*Not a real wish list. Though if you buy me the 60lb wheel of provolone, I’ll share. Promise. 
**Special thanks to The Ninja for the creative assistance. Only a mind as warped as yours gets why this was fun. And thanks for the b-day tart. 

Row

Bladderwrack & Stone, Cliff Walk, Dec 2012

One day, back in December, Favorite Niece told me how excited she was for a visit from a guy. She was counting down the days, and, like anyone falling in love, could not contain her enthusiasm. She was grinning a lot back then*, and was obviously happy.

Her happiness did not resonate with me that day. I was feeling blue, and I remember counseling her to temper her anticipation, and to be careful with her expectations. I’m sure I thought I was being helpful, and probably believed that the 10 extra years of “wisdom” I have on her meant my advice was sound. I offered no positive encouragement, just a grim warning. And, like most unsolicited advice and criticism, it came from a place of unhappiness.

I regretted it instantly, and have ruminated over my reaction since. I started questioning why it was so difficult for me to just be happy for her. Had I completely lost faith in the idea of romantic love? Would I ever feel that it’s worth the risk again? Do I really even need that particular kind of relationship, when my life feels rich enough already with the love of my family and friends?

I still don’t have the answers, but I do have moments of clarity here and there. A poem I came across recently, “West Wind # 2”, by Mary Oliver, helped some, the way a good poem should.

This poem reminded me that, despite my bruised and hesitant heart, I still believe the risk is worth taking. I desperately don’t want anyone, especially my niece, to be as hurt and as disappointed as I was when my relationship ended. And yet, I honestly have no regrets. Of course I wish I could take away the pain it caused, but then I’d have to take away all the years of joy and love and growth. Why on earth would I want to do that?

And the fact is, her heart might break. Mine might again too. But most hearts do, at some point, and usually more than once in a lifetime. Despite this, I still agree with what Ms. Oliver wrote – that life without love is “not worth a bent penny or a scuffed shoe.” It’s worth the risk, and I’m glad she’s rowing towards it.

West Wind # 2
You are young. So you know everything. You leap
into the boat and begin rowing. But listen to me.
Without fanfare, without embarrassment, without
any doubt, I talk directly to your soul. Listen to me.
Lift the oars from the water, let your arms rest, and
your heart, and heart’s little intelligence, and listen to 
me. There is life without love. It is not worth a bent 
penny, or a scuffed shoe. It is not worth the body of a 
dead dog nine days unburied. When you hear, a mile 
away and still out of sight, the churn of the water 
as it begins to swirl and roil, fretting around the 
sharp rocks – when you hear that unmistakable 
pounding – when you feel the mist on your mouth 
and sense ahead the embattlement, the long falls 
plunging and steaming – then row, row for your life 
toward it.

-Mary Oliver

More Food Love, Less Pain,
xo-L

*And still is, I’m happy to report.

How Foodies Get Sick

Like I said: sexy.

On New Year’s Eve, near the stroke of midnight, a girlfriend treated us to little toasts topped with creme fraiche and caviar. They were delicious. We are not regular caviar and champagne eaters – but some New Year’s cliches are good ones, and it did not go unappreciated by any of us.

Upon tasting it I knew it was very good, very special caviar. It was clean tasting, not at all fishy, a little sweet, a little salty. Beautiful, shiny, black – yup, it was sexy. I couldn’t tell exactly what kind it was just from tasting it, so I made my way to the kitchen to take a look at the empty jar. It was D’artagnan’s Ossetra caviar, farmed in France. I felt a surge of love for my friend who treated us to this. She is always generous, and I know it gives her joy to share good food with us.

When I looked in the tiny jar, I noticed there were a few little eggs left in it.

You know what happened next, don’t you?

I licked that jar. I licked it clean. I licked it for America. Stuck my tongue into it and got those last little eggs into my belly, where they belonged.

Then, because I have no shame*, I went out and told everyone. They giggled a little, not at all surprised of course. But my friend who brought the caviar laughed harder than the rest, and admitted to also taking her tongue to the jar. (I LOVE HER.)

She then informed me of a third “licker”: her man-friend, who had just recovered from a week in bed with THE FLU.

I had enough Champagne in me by then to not give it much thought. Midnight arrived just a moment or two later. My cute date motioned me over to his cute lap, where I sat and kissed him. And since the bubbles and caviar were from France, I suppose we decided to stay with the theme, and kissed in that style too.

By Thursday my throat was scratchy. By Friday, a full blow fever took over. My caviar-sharing/fellow licker of a girlfriend contracted the plague also, and our illnesses matched almost exactly, symptom to symptom, hour by hour. We updated each other periodically during the 48 hours our fevers burned. As for cute-lap guy? Turns out he’s more than just a, um, cute lap. He’s also got brains, and got a flu shot. So he’s fine. Whatever dude.

In a way, I’m proud I contracted the flu this way. It seems like a good omen for 2013. Or a bad one. Is there a lesson here? Get a flu shot next year? Don’t lick things unless you can know for certain they haven’t been licked before? I don’t know. Those lessons just seem too obvious, and so boring. So I’ll probably just overlook them and continue to search for a deeper meaning in it all.

In closing, I ask you this, my dear Bleaders:

Have you EVER known anyone to get the flu from licking a caviar jar? Nope. Didn’t think so. Things like this, and this, and this just happen to me. Which is why I get to be the ruler of this funny food blog with 54,000** readers, and you don’t.

More Food, Less Pain,
xo-L

*Not true. I have some. Just not enough to measure.
**Give or take 53,080 or so.

Love and Joy

A favorite ornament, handmade in Germany.

It’s a beautiful, chilly, quiet morning on Historic Hill. Out the window to my right is blue sky, with the tall white steeple of Trinity Church in the distance. In the foreground, colorful little clapboard colonial houses of varying heights. And then there’s Touro Synagogue, right below my third story window. I’m about to meditate, and this will be my view.

My hope is that 10 minutes of sitting will calm my rattled nerves. I’d hoped a good night of sleep would settle them, but that didn’t happen. I tossed and turned last night – thought about nothing and everything. Anxiety about nothing. Anxiety about everything. I’m sure you understand. I’m sure I’m not the only one who struggles a bit with the demands of this holiday.

Despite feeling this way, I’m looking forward to today. I like the bustle of Christmas eve. After a few quick errands this morning, I’ll be helping out at Newport Wine Cellar and Le Petit Gourmet. Friends and customers that I adore will come by, and it will be a joy to see them.  It will be busy, of course, but fun. And after that I’ll see my family for dinner. I haven’t seen my little nephews in far too long, and can’t wait to get silly with them.

Rattled nerves won’t keep me from enjoying Christmas, or from meditating on what it has come to mean to me. My ideas about it evolve a little more each year. I’ve unplugged from the things I don’t like about it, and have learned to focus on the things about it that I love.

I’m also ever aware of how painful this time can be for people who are grieving. All those expectations of “love and joy” sting like a slap to the face when a source of love and joy is taken from you. Of course I’m thinking of those families in Connecticut. Who isn’t?

I know this all sounds a bit melancholy. But the holidays are complicated for so many of us. I’m trying to acknowledge that. Trying not to turn away from that fact. Trying to embrace it, and bear witness to it.

The sun is a little higher in the sky now, and the bustle is starting. More cars are driving up and down Touro Street, and I see people walking into town to shop. I should probably be doing the same, but wanted to wish you all a happy holiday first. I wish you love and joy. And I hope that with each hug from a old friend or family member, any stress or sadness you may be carrying around fades into the background for a little while.

More Food, Less Pain,
xo -L