Thursday, June 27, 2013

How To Say Yes To The Dress

I spent the past four days shopping for a wedding dress on the east coast.  Four days, 10 appointments across two states, and I believe roughly 70 dresses. My "Overachievers Anonymous" group tells me that's a lot. Just kidding. I obviously don't have time for Overachievers Anonymous. 

People have tons of advice around proper shopping for the "most important dress you'll ever wear" (side note: people who say that obviously have no intention of winning an Academy Award). They say, "know what you want, but be prepared to end up with the opposite," (well then why don't I just shop for the opposite of what I want?) and, "pick the dress that feels like a bride," (but I've never been a bride...) and my favorite, "you're going to be looking at pictures of this dress for the rest of your life, so make sure you like how you look in it," (who, exactly, is purchasing dresses that they think they look bad in?).

I am now pleased slash exhausted to say that I have some wedding dress shopping of my own. Mine comes more in the form of a survival guide - tips for making it through without wanting to elope in a white, satin mini dress.

The Research: You'll want to start looking for your perfect wedding dress approximately two years before you actually get engaged. I recommend keeping an online file or Pinterest board called something like "Someday..." so you seem like slightly less of a freak. Bottom line, you need to buy a dress approximately nine months before your wedding, so if you have, say, a one year engagement that only leaves you three months for research, and that is two years and nine months too short a time. (Not even I can decide if I'm being sarcastic with the above...)

The Appointment Booking: Wedding salons somehow like brand new restaurants that always stay brand new. In other words, you need to make an appointment a month in advance if you expect to get in. I should preface that by saying that I did my shopping in New Jersey and New York City, the former of which is the most densely populated state in the nation (I think) and the latter of which is New York City.

That said, if you just show up at a place and beg for an appointment because another one of your appointments messed up the time, they'll totally let you in.

The Supplies: You're going to want to bring the following supplies with you to each appointment:
  • Two, nude strapless bras (You should be wearing one. The other is a back-up in case of something completely unknown. It just felt safer to have two.)
  • One pair of nude underwear (You should be wearing these as well. Thong is fine, but remember that a stranger will be seeing you in it). 
  • One pair of nude Spanx (You'll put these on over your nude underwear so that you look like the version of yourself after eating nothing but salads for the three months before your wedding day)
  • Almonds or your choice of on-the-go healthy protein (You don't fit five appointments in one day and expect a lunch break). 
  • Bottled water (It gets pretty hot in those dresses. Assign a bridesmaid or mother to be your water boy throughout the day. Note: the bridal salons don't think it's funny when you suggest that your water boy squirt the water right into your mouth, football style). 
  • Shoes the height you will wear (That's just smart shopping people. I do it when I'm looking for jeans, let alone the second most important dress of my life - third if you could the Emmy's, which no one really does). 
  • Hair tie (You'll want to see your hair both up and down in the dress. There's nothing particularly funny about this. I'm sorry). 
The Spectators: First, be prepared for many salons to limit the number of people you bring. I thought it was because they didn't have a lot of space. I now know that it's because they're looking out for your own good, and my spectators were incredibly well behaved.

Prep your team on the kind of responses you're looking for. Example: "Let me react first, and then let me know what you think," or, "Only say something if it's really ugly," or, "Here are paddles with the number 1-9 on them. Please hold up the corresponding number you feel as you see the dress."

The Crying: I want to tell you that just because you and your spectators don't cry the moment you walk out in the perfect dress doesn't mean you haven't found the one.

BUT I tried on 70 dresses and there were only tears once, so I don't know what to tell you...

The Stylists: At every boutique you'll work with a different stylist who helps get you into and out of your dresses (read: sees you nudey). These people are an amazing cast of characters and worth the shopping experience alone. Here are literally all of mine:
  • Connie - What Sally Field would be like if she were a struggling mother of three working part-time at a chain Bridal Store, and had a thick New Jersey accent.
  • Nancy - If you are from the Tri-State area and have a sweet but candid aunt who wears low cut shirts and lots of jewelry, it's her. If you don't understand what I'm talking about, I can't explain her. Nancy was the only stylist who also cried, but it was at the same time as my Mom, so it made sense. 
  • Nadine - Fairly morose Jamaican woman who did not give two bleeps about the entire process. I loved her because she was almost mean about it, in a funny way. Like, "You think you like that dress but you don't." That said, she told me I'd be back to buy my favorite from that store, and she was wrong. 
  • Galina - A perfect-looking Russian model who tried SO hard to pretend my jokes weren't funny, but I finally cracked her. I will say that it was hard to focus on myself in those dresses because I kept thinking about how much better Galina would look in them.
  • Jessica - A sassy Persian girl from Queens who literally told me to go buy a cheap dress at David's Bridal and modify it myself. She would have been my favorite but she worked at this place where you had to take off your shoes at the door, and I couldn't get past that part of the experience.
  • Yolanda - A sweet African American woman who told me my stomach was flat as a board and that I don't have hips. I fell in love with a dress at her shop because it was a $500 discontinued sample of a $5,000 dress...that made her speak so kindly about my abs and hips...
(it's almost over)
  • Gina - A seamstress from New York who tried to sell me a discounted Vera Wang dress that was completely torn apart that I almost bought it because it was a discounted Vera Wang dress.
  • Laura - Oh Laura... She was/is a beautiful and impeccably dresses stylist who works at Castle Couture (yes, that is the real name of the place) in Marlboro, New Jersey. She's the one who saved me on that morning that I didn't have an appointment and begged to be seen. She also lead me to the first dress I thought was the one. I even put a deposit down on it. It really was so beautiful. Sadly when I looked at the pictures of myself in it, it wasn't the best fit (so that's what they mean) so I cancelled that plan and went back to the crying dress. 
  •  Liz - The young, recently engaged owner of a sample and consignment dress shop in a little cottage on her parents farm property aka the luckiest girl in the world.  
  • Brittany - The sweet niece of a shop owner who was very patient with me despite the fact that I had obviously already picked my dress. 
The "Knowing" - Guys, I don't know.  I was so confused after appointment number seven that I actually fell in love with a dress that made me look like the world's sexiest Scarlette O'Hara. It was rough. I kept finding dresses that would be perfect for different versions of myself (style schizophrenia is a real issue) and different versions of my wedding (like, this would be perfect if I was getting married at a chic, New York City hotel), but in the end, it was the dress that looked the best on me, and made me feel the most giddy to get married. I felt like I could wear it all day. I also felt like it represented the bride I want to be - sophisticated but fun, traditional but sexy. If you are a man still reading this, I'm sorry.

I'm happy to say that it was all pretty easy in the end - after it was really hard and somewhat frustrating. I am also happy to say that I have no desire to try on wedding dresses again. So, that either means I really found the best dress or that I exhausted myself to the point of shut down.

Either way, I have a WEDDING DRESS. How freaking cool is that?!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

How To Be 30, According to Kareem Abdul Jabbar, Who I Briefly Knew While In Utero

Two things make today's post incredibly relevant:

1. Tonight is Game 7 of the NBA finals. A. I know this, which is big in and of itself. B. I know that the San Antonio Spurs and their "Flying Frenchman" Tony Parker are playing the Miami Heat and their maybe-greatest-player-of-all-time LeBron James (huge of me!). I also know that some guy named Duncan was supposed to have a big game but hasn't yet, some guy named Bosch (sp?) is potentially an alien, and the team from Miami has a player named Dwayne Wayne (what am I, some kind of ESPN person?!). Also the coach from Texas is hysterical and the coach from Miami looks like he's 15 (that's just simple observation, but still). That's the gist of everything, right?

Back to  Kareem Abdul Jabbar who is also a famous basketball player - relevancy connection #1.

2. Kareem Abdul Jabbar palmed my mother's her belly when I was in her womb. That is a cold, hard fact.

My mom was teaching at a fancy, L.A. private school. KAJ's child attended that school. KAJ came across my mom at that school when she was very pregnant with me and held onto her belly as if it were a basketball. I'm told it was very easy for him because he had, "hands bigger than [my mom's] face."

Now, prepare for your mind to be blown.

This palming occurred just before I was born, almost exactly 30 years ago. Just yesterday Kareem Abdul Jabbar just revealed the 20 Things He Wish He'd Know When He Was 30, ergo KAJ is speaking directly to me with this advice. It's clear as day.

And so, I'd like to re-gift you the advice that one of the greatest basketball players of our time (wait, is that what you said R?) has give me on the almost eave of my 30th birthday. He also conveniently published it in Esquire magazine and posted in on the Huffington Post...

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Whose Wedding Is It Anyway?

(I had not idea this was an actual show on Style Network, but I'm grateful for the logo)

If you are currently or have ever planned a wedding in which you are the one getting married, then you've definitely passionately exclaimed the line: it's my wedding!

Maybe it was followed by, "I know you want a mariachi band, but..." or, "I understand you'd prefer that I didn't wear a black dress, but..." or, "I respect your need to read a Dr. Seuss poem, but..."

(Note: none of the above have actually happened to me...yet)

You were not wrong. You are slash were the one getting married. Without that key detail, the event would not exist. No one but you and your betrothed accomplishes anything at the event remotely paramount to what you do (that being join together for a lifetime). It is, by definition, your wedding.

But it's also kind of not.

You're probably not paying for absolutely every detail, but even if you are, it still isn't yours and yours alone.

This is something you realize very shortly after getting engaged, but it isn't something you appreciate until several months after that (in my case, two, but I'm an overachiever). 

At first it's all about your vision, your dreams, what the event will say about you and the man/woman you are marrying. You want to host your friends and family at a celebration that says "us" and no one else. If you're anything like R and me those visions and dreams mostly surround food and music. I'll fess up to a very specific vision of what the center pieces should and should not look like, and we both also really want to achieve a mini destination feel, but it's mostly about the F+B as my wedding planner friend Annie's adorable "Speak Wedding" flashcards say (yes, that's a plug. Now go buy a set!).

But as the planning days go on you start to think about how the event will unfold. How will my mom and dad feel as they move through the day? How will our friends have the absolute most fun? Whose comfort should we consider when it comes to things like that all-important food and music? What can we do to create special moments for the people who aren't in the wedding party?

Anyone will tell you that you can't make everyone happy, and they're right. But anyone who tells you that your happiness is the only thing that matters on that day is wrong, in my humble, two-months engaged opinion.

I'll go so far as to say that most of the people who will be in attendance the day you get married had something to do with getting you to that point. Perhaps they raised you to be the woman the man you're marrying chose to be his wife? Perhaps they told you not to $*&! it up after first meeting that man, three years ago? Perhaps they're going to slave away on those perfect center pieces, mostly because they're your sisters and they have no choice, but also because they want you to have exactly what you want.

I've been thinking about those elements as more of the details of R's and my special day come together. Luckily we already share the values, music taste and love-of-food as both of our families, but I think it's about more than just having a table with our parents' and grandparents' wedding pictures on display. I think it's about throwing an event that represents who we are but also who has been behind us every step of the way - since long before the planning began.

I know that a few it's my wedding cries will creep out of my mouth between now and the big day, but deep down I don't want it to be only my wedding - I want it to be our wedding, and I want that our to include more than just R and me.

But, just to be very clear, I'll be managing all center piece decisions, R is completely and totally in charge of music, and neither of us can be swayed from the decision to have bread pudding instead of a wedding cake (don't worry Moms, we'll cut a small cake for ceremonial purposes, but it will be carrot).

Monday, June 17, 2013

Bonus Post: Current Plans For My Future Rich Old Lady Self

I intend to be a rich old lady some day. This isn't a necessity - a, "life isn't worth living unless you're living large," thing, but I don't think it makes logical sense to aspire to be a poor, old lady, so I'm channeling my positive thinking toward a future filled with success.

So in an effort to "secret" my way into said success, I figure it also makes logical sense to have some plans for my future, rich old lady life. Here are those plans, to date. Suggestions are welcome from those of you who are or currently know a fabulous, rich old lady (ROL from here on out).

I'm going to get my hair done at least once a week. 

I have really difficult hair, and I've never taken the time to learn to do it right. So when I'm a ROL I'm going to find a killer salon with super delicious smelling hair products and a fab gay man who will do my hair at least once a week. I'm not sure what kind of hair I'll have once I'm a ROL, but I'd like it to be like Jackie Kennedy's, so hopefully my future gay hairdresser will make it look like that.

I'm going to go to Europe at least once a year. 

It seems like wealthy people spend a full season per year in Paris these days, so I'm going to join them for at least a small spell, annually. I think I'll change it up year after year so I can have really nice ROL scarves from all over Europe, but we'll see.

I'm going to have a small dog that I take everywhere

I feel like ROL's have small dogs that follow them everywhere so they always have someone/thing to talk at. Naturally R will be around to respond to my every magical old lady sentence, but when I go to places like the hair salon, I'll take my very small dog named something like Bernard or Angelo so I can continue to spew amazing lines about how to properly live life. That seems like the gist of what old people are saying most of the time. 

I'm going to wear kaftans

Nan Kempner wore kaftans most days of her late life, and she looked fabulous, always. There's just something about a floor-length, Persian house dress that says both, "I have no where to go," and, "I've been everywhere." All of my kaftans will be bright, crazy colors and silk because I imagine silk is nice against wrinkly, old lady skin.

I am going to dine somewhere fancy on the same day at the same time every single week. 

I briefly worked for the iconic movie producer David Brown, and he ate lunch at the 21 Club on Tuesday at 12:30pm (if I recall correctly?) every single week because, why not! I will do the same thing, but probably not at the 21 Club because it's a little stuffy there for me. If Momofuku is still in business when I'm a ROL (which, if I'm a really rich ROL, I'll make sure it is), then I think I'll dine there.

I am going to have an apartment in New York City

It doesn't matter where in the world I live permanently (if not, New York City), but I'm going to have an apartment in Manhattan once I'm rich and old. Of course, if I can only afford either yearly trips to Europe or this pied-à-terre, I don't know which I'll choose, but for now let's assume that I can have both. And if I can have both, let's assume that the apartment either overlooks Central Park or is near that perfect part of the West Village close to the Cherry Lane Theater. 

I am going to have a room painted fuscia 

Diana Vreeland had a red room, so I'm going to have a fucsia room. I think bright colors stimulate the mind, and you can't have a room that crazy until people don't care what you do anymore because they're just happy you're still alive.    

I am going to only drink one kind of alcoholic drink, but I'm going to drink it at Happy Hour every day

By the time I'm an ROL I'll have someone else handling my driving, and hopefully everything else in my life, so I'll have plenty of time to enjoy an extra dirty martini, up, with Kettle One vodka every single evening. I might switch it up if my old lady palette prefers a Manhattan or maybe a very fancy french liquor, but for now let's say dirties and 5PM.  


Thursday, June 13, 2013

Guest Blogger: Older, Wiser, But Still So Youthful: On the Eve of Thirty-One

Yes, that's guest blogger Geanna and yours truly having a tea party circa 1984. 

Today I am honored to welcome a guest post by my older cousin slash life guinea pig, Geanna. You may recall her name from several blog posts past. Today she opens up about what she learned during her 30th year of life on the eve of her 31st birthday. HAPPY BIRTHDAY GEEGEE!

This coming Sunday (…which is also Father’s Day, which has become a point of contention with my immediate family, which has lead to us celebrating both occasions on another day completely, which is not the point of this post…), I’m going to turn 31. Thirty. One.

When this blog’s creator and I were playing dress-up and plotting out the lives of our future selves, we never imagined being “this old.” It’s not that we thought we’d be dead before 30, it’s just that it seemed too far away to even worry about or comprehend. But now, here we are, living lives (I think) better than what we could have predicted while dancing around to Annie, wearing tutus and imagining what the years would bring.

Around this time last year, I was begging Jessie to let me write a guest-post about what I felt like on the brink of turning 30. I had all these grand ideas about embarking on this new decade, what it meant to me, and how these feelings would reflect themselves in (what I thought would be) a new outlook on my fresh, 30-something life. But when it came down to it, I couldn’t write it. I had no idea what being 30 meant yet, or what my thoughts and feelings about turning 30 even really were. I read a lot of lists like this one from HuffPo and rolled my eyes, feeling like they had zero to do with me or my friends who were also heading towards the big 3-0. I mean, who owns a cordless drill at this point, amiright?!

But now, with almost a year of perspective and reflection and all that other crap, I can safely say that Thirty. Fucking. Rocks. And now that list kind of makes sense. And what better way to prove I’ve done all this growing and learning than to share a list OF MY OWN about all the things a 20-nothing has to look forward to?! There isn’t one. Let’s make with the list:

1. You don’t have to put up with any bullshit from anyone, ever.
I know this isn’t really a groundbreaking discovery, but I am more confident than ever that there is no room for any kind of social drama in my life. Haters gonna hate, and you should let them, because they are jerks.

2. Your work-life feels better, for some reason.
For me, the reason was leaving an old job (where I was underappreciated and bored) for a new one where I have more responsibility and daily challenges that keep me awake. It was really hard to make that change, but when I finally did, it was worth it.

3. You don’t have to go out EVERY night.
This one was tough. I never liked to miss even one social gathering for fear that I would be left out of an amazing night that my friends would talk about for years to come, saying things like, “You should have been there!” I now love staying in and making dinner just as much as I love staying out ‘til 3 AM and drinking vodka. Call me lame? I call me MATURE.

4. On a similar note, getting carded rules.
Oh, you think I look under 21? Is it because of my youthful Korean features? It is, and I’ll take it.

5. But on another similar note, being hungover has become an all-day affair.
Drink lots of water. Take an omega-3 vitamin. Buy yourself some black-out curtains. And don’t make any plans; you’re not going to be able to move for quite some time.

6. The sex is better. Like, way better.
No more putting up with awkward, inexperienced partners who fumble around and leave you feeling confused and unfulfilled! You know what you want and you know how to get there. And thankfully now, they do too.

7. But at the same time, you know how to be alone. And like it.
Sitting with yourself at home, at the gym, at a restaurant, at a movie… is some of the most important quality time you’re ever gonna get. Enjoy it.

8. You cry more.
It might just be me, but I’ve experienced an exponential increase in crying this year… actually, in just emoting in general. As someone who never really expressed any kind of emotion previous to this, I can’t really think of another explanation other than getting older. Random (and not so random) shit just chokes me UP sometimes, and I have no other choice but to let it flow.

9. When someone loves you the way you need to be loved, all your hang-ups just go out the window.
I didn’t realize how cynical I was until I started dating my current boyfriend. When talking about him in those early months, ALL of my closest friends said the same: “I never thought this would happen to you!” “Look at you, you’re actually SMILING!” “This must be the Apocalypse!” And so on and so forth. I guess I didn’t know it was happening until it had already happened, but I managed to let myself fall in love and allow my usual self-conscious-worried-about-what-other-people-think-how-will-I-maintain-my-independence-let’s-not-hold-hands-in-public-self be totally and completely forgotten. He makes me happy every day, and I’m not even the slightest bit embarrassed to say that in an online public forum… okay, so yes, the Apocalypse is upon us.

10. You know how to be a better friend, girlfriend, sister, citizen, human, etc.
This has much less to do with learning about myself and way more to do with wanting to be better for everyone else. The relationships I currently have were each tested and made stronger this year, and I understand the value of those relationships and what each adds to my life. I fought with friends who are still my friends. I made sacrifices that didn’t seem like such a big deal once I thought about them. I strengthened my connection with family. I gave a lot of hugs.

They say that life begins at 30 (which is ridiculous, since you have to live all those years up to that point), but maybe it’s just that your understanding of what you want your adult life to be becomes more realized when you finally hit that mark. I truly feel like I know where I’m going, and for once I know there’s nowhere else I’d rather be.

 Now once I stop crying, let’s go grab a drink at this bar I know where we can DEFINITELY get carded…

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

How The Naked Spa Changed My Clothed Life

If you've lived in L.A. for any longer than 6 month and are a woman, you've heard of the "naked spas."

Thanks to our city's very large and active Korea Town there is a very large and active Korean population, and as I now know, Koreans respect the spa like no one else - well, like no one else but the women of L.A.

Less than six month into my own L.A. life I started hearing people swear by the naked spa. The scrub is like nothing you've ever experienced! The hot huts are absolutely amazing! The green tea pools will change your life! And these reviews were coming from a wide range of women, not just my Korean friends (hi Annie!).

Now here's where this gets personal. I am one of four girls and a generally not modest person, but I don't spent a lot of time naked in large groups. There was this one time in college involving a game of strip flip cup and...nevermind (right Carly!?). Let's just say that walking around in my birthday suit isn't something with which I have a ton of experience. And because of that lack of experience, the whole thing made me super nervous. About what, exactly, I couldn't tell you. It's not like I thought people were going to reach out and touch my lady parts, or that those parts would be wildly different from all the other parts in the place. I think I just didn't know what it would be like, and so my instinct was fear.

Luckily my fear of missing out tends to outweigh my fear of all else (see also: going on the Tower of Terror, getting my nose pierced, and that night with the 99Berries Vodka). I wasn't going to miss out on the much-hailed benefits of the deeply rooted Korean spa tradition just because you have to flash your ta-tas to get it. I am a liberated woman. I can commune with other liberated women in a very small space wearing absolutely nothing. What's so weird about that?

I cannot explain this phenomenon, but when I think about going to that naked spa while outside of the naked spa, I still get super nervous. It's like the idea of it is so much worse than the actual experience. I know that now because I am fully and completely addicted to the naked spa. I love being naked in there! It's so freeing and calming and somehow it makes me feel like one with all the females of the earth (they don't sell cool-aid but whatever's in the green tea has the same effect). And while this makes absolutely no sense, I actually feel clothed when I'm naked at the naked spa. Or, hm, maybe I just don't feel anything at all? I don't know, but I don't feel naked. I feel like we all have these skin suits and they all look completely different, and that's both fascinating and beautiful but not at all embarrassing.

Case in point: in order to get the INCREDIBLE scrubs that they do to remove dozens of layers of skin off your dirty body (don't knock it 'til you've had it), you have to lay on a rubber massage table, buck naked, as a terrifying Korean woman wearing disconcertingly sexy black underwear scrubs every crevice of your body. Right now as I was typing that, I got chills. I have a scrub booked for next week, and right now I want to cancel it. That's how weird it feels to think about getting that scrub while outside of the chamber that is the naked spa. Inside the naked spa it's like, whatever! I don't even think about it. I get up on that table wearing nothing but a smile on my face and lay there thrilled to pieces for all 35 minutes of the blissful experience. I'm like an alternative version of myself on that table, a version that realizes bodies are bodies and parts are parts and all the Korean woman cares about is delivering you a skin-removing experience that will make your body feel like a wet-down slip-in-slide.

So I think what I'm saying is, go be naked among other people at a Korean spa for a few hours! Or, I guess, if you can't do that, go do whatever else it is you're afraid to do for reasons that you can't explain. If it involves nudity you probably want to be sure it's in a safe, legal place with other people over 18 present, but I'm not the expert on group nudity...yet! (just kidding Mom).

*For you L.A. folk, my current favorite is Crystal Spa inside the new K-Town Mall. They also have a great grocery store and cosmetics store in the same complex. Check it out!

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Dating Rules From My Future Self, or the total lack thereof

I spent most of Thursday afternoon reading through the first two years of these blog posts, partly because I've been feeling nostalgic (already) but mostly because I'm prepping a little surprise (it's a book!).

I learned several things about my former self through all that reading - I had absolutely no idea what I wanted to do with my life; I spent an inordinate amount of time at bars; I had exactly the same amount of shoes - but paramount among the themes was this idea of "the rules."

I wrote a whole post about how to initiate communication with a potential date via Facebook. 500 words. I'd link to it here, but I'm too ashamed of the fact that it exists. There was a post on the proper way to speak to an attractive person at a bar. There was a whole expose about whether or not one should hook up on the second date. I did a full week on what constitutes cheating.

I was obsessed with this idea of modern dating etiquette, or, more specifically, how to survive dating unscathed. I was all about removing any grey area so that time wasn't wasted and feelings weren't hurt. I really, truly thought that there should be an agreed-upon way we should all be going about this insane "process" - from how to text your true intentions to when to sleep with someone to ensure they won't start dating you just for the sex.

If there are hard and fast rules - my former self seemed to think - then we can know with certainty whether someone is really interested or just using us. And if we know that, then we can avoid wasting time on a relationship that's ultimately going to hurt us more than it will help us.

"It's like gambling," I told R this morning as we walked to Ed's Diner on Robertson (the best eggs in Los Angeles). "In blackjack there's that whole 'what the house would say' rule that usually prevents you from busting. That's how I used to look at dating and relationships. What move is offer the least risk and most potential reward."

R liked that, but mostly because he taught me everything I know about gambling even though, as he reminded me this morning, I tried to hit on a 21 in Vegas...more than once.

"I get that," he said, "I think we were all doing that in our early 20s. But why do you think we were grasping at rules so much?"

I'm still not sure I know the answer to that question. Part of me thinks it's because everything else in our lives was so unstable after graduating from college - career, home, friends. We needed rules to understand our new place in the world, and since dating was top of mind at the time, that's where we focused. But another part of me thinks we were too bored and immature to think about anything else. When your job is to answer phones and transfer calls at an internet company, you have plenty of time to write 500 words on how a man should approach a woman at a bar. After actual responsibilities enter your life, there's life time to deal with and worry about the bullshit of dating. You don't have time to dwell on it; you barely even have time to do it. 

But when I re-read all those rules that I wrote almost six years ago, I see a person who was, above all, afraid, and fear breeds and need for order. The idea that there are no rules (a jerky pick-up line can be the start of a march toward marriage) or that you're better off trusting that you're the exception to the rule (he's just not that into you...right now) is often too much to bear at 22...or 27.  It's not until you've experienced those rules working or not working or blowing up in your face that you realize the "rule" you should be trusting is your gut.

As it turns out, all those rules can get in the way of what's really right for you. It might not look "right" by the standards you set five years and 800 posts ago, but that's life. Messy, unpredictable, and totally unruly.

So I guess what I'm saying is that if you haven't read the 200 posts I wrote from 2007 through 2009, maybe don't. Then again there's some genius ideas about how to completely overhaul our entire dating system in there. They'd never work, but they're pretty clever if I might say so myself.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

How To Set Someone Up: Literally and Specifically

This past weekend the yenta-angel who introduced me to R was in L.A. for a visit.

Every time I'm around her, I feel guilty for not paying her great gift forward by setting up more lovely single people in my own life. Part of the reason I rarely play matchmaker is because it very rarely ends up as well as my own set-up did (that being as good as humanly possible aka with marriage). But the other reason is because it's tricky, logistically speaking. How exactly should one bring two people together? What if they don't know each other? What if they do? What if you want her to know it's a set up, but not him? What if it's the reverse. I can over-think reserved seat selection in a stadium seating movie theater ("orchestra"? center back?? behind a handi-capped seat???), so you can only imagine the mine field that is helping two people find lasting love.

If you're anything like me (and please god say that you are...) then you might appreciate these helpful tips culled from the five friends who were on gchat when I decided on this topic! Here goes:

The Co-Email Intro

It goes something like this: Jim, meet Pam, Pam, meet Jim - As you guys know, you're both friends of mine from different walks of life. I thought you'd have fun getting a drink together some time. Enjoy!

You're in and you're out. Let them deal with the rest of it. All you're responsible for is saying, "I know you both. Maybe you should know each other." It's completely and totally out in the open. Of course, you probably want to clear Jim with Pam and Pam with Jim before sending the e-mail. Then they'll want to Facebook each other before providing you with the go-ahead. They'll each probably have 10 thousand questions about each other after the stalking, at which point you'll decide it's not worth doing this in the first place. So, you know what, maybe don't even ask them for permission. Go guerilla set-up. If it works out, great. If it doesn't, at least you didn't have to deal with 10 thousand questions in the process.

The Group Hang

This is what this sounds like it is. You decide that you know two people who might hit it off. You invite those two people to a group function in which you will be present (birthday party, BBQ, private room Korea Town karaoke). You tell no one (except for everyone else present) that it's happening. And then you Andy Cohen your way through the night (Watch What Happens! Come on people!). I like this idea because if you play it right you're not at all culpable for what happens. No one even needs to know that the two people are there on purpose. If it goes horribly, you move on un-blamed. If it goes beautifully, you tell them it was all a set-up!

The "Be a Man" 

I have been on the receiving end of this move once, and I'll admit it was flattering. Basically you tell a male friend that they should take your female or other male friend (we are equal opportunity matchmakers) out for a drink. You provide the friend's e-mail address and a few brief detail to help guide the date. Then you implore your friend to make it happen. That friend (hopefully) sends an e-mail that goes something like this:

Hey Diane, Jessie suggested we get together for a drink. Apparently you also love cheesy L.A. Mexican restaurants. Maybe margaritas as El Coyote or Casablancas? Let me know what works. Love, Sam.

I'm not saying you need to write the e-mail for your friend, but do remember that he is a representative of your own tastes, so some light guidance could serve you well.

The Insta Set-Up

Guys I just came up with this one, and I'm really excited about it. Okay. You take a photo of yourself and the girl you're hoping to set up doing something insanely fabulous. You post it to Instagram with the guy you're trying to set her up w/ tagged. Now, here's the genius part. You and the girl should be doing something that the guy loves. Example: @Schmidt Look! @CeCe + I just made it to the top of your favorite Malibu hike!

So now the guy knows what his potential date looks like, where he can reach her directly and that she likes the same things he likes. All he has to do is go: @CeCe @Jess Can I come next time? And you're in.

Yes, I realize this is the most lame set-up construct of all time, but I bet a thousand dollars it's the only one out of this list that you're going to consider using. Alas, these are the times in which we live...

Now get to it. You never know whose entire life you could be responsible for making!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Posts #800: The Last Hundred Mark Before The End

I've written 800 posts on this here blog. Well, technically I've written 799 and am currently writing the 800th.

I'm sure there are other things I've done 800 times in my life (bought a coffee? pretended to understand baseball? tried to make orange-red lipstick work?), but this feels like it might be the most significant. Maybe it's because I have a visual account of it all? Or maybe it's because very soon - two months from Friday, to be exact - I'm not going to be a 20-Nothing anymore. This blog won't get to 900 posts (unless I get super aggressive between now and August 7th, which isn't going to happen because I have to spend 50% of my day looking at wedding blogs).

I've written about the fact that this little blogger page changed my life ad nauseam. It has completely and entirely (sorry, one last time), but that wasn't the point going in, and it's the last thing I want to focus on going out. The point was always to talk about surviving our 20s - or, rather, for me to talk about us surviving our 20s and for that to somehow/maybe/hopefully help you.

And so at post #800 I can't stop wondering what I missed - not in a "woe is me I'll never get to everything" but in a "how should I be spending the last eight weeks of twice-weekly writing?" Are there topics I didn't cover that are too endemic to 20-something life to miss? Are there stories to tell that would be helpful to people still in the thick of it? What would be more interesting than ramblings about being engaged?

So here's what I've decided to do. Between now and my 30th birthday I'm going to write one extra post per week on a topic I feel like I must cover before I cross over to the dark side. If you'd like to help pick those topics, AWESOME. E-mail your ideas as Otherwise I'll just continue on in the vein pursuit of writing what I think matters most.

And with this one extra post a week we'll get to exactly 830 posts by the time I turn 30. Feels just right.

Now please excuse me while I read through all 800 to figure out what's missing.

And, as always, thank you for reading, no matter how many of the 800 you've read.