18 hours in the life of a single girl

Friday night: the art of turning down a date

I had a rough week emotionally, yeah? This and this and this.

Friday morning, I was exhausted as soon as I opened my eyes. In exchange for fulfilling my adulting obligations of going to work, I promised myself that I’d spend a quiet evening at home doing laundry, sipping on some locally brewed cider and reading a book. I couldn’t wait. After a useless day at the office (#braindead), I got stuck in endless traffic – cementing my resolve to be a Friday-night hermit. By 7pm, groceries were done, PJs and fluffy pink slippers adorned me and I was all set to win ALL of the dance-offs against myself to Ed Sheeran’s Shape of you.

The phone rang as I was starting the washing machine. I declined the call.

The phone rang again – same dude – as I was cracking open my first bottle of cider. I declined the call, texting Dude1, “You’re pocket dialing me.” He replied, “No, you idiot, I don’t pocket dial twice in a row. PICK UP.” So of course, instead of picking up, I finished prepping my load of laundry. Then I hydrated myself with cider. THEN I called back Dude1 (#priorities); he was inviting me last minute to join him for foodstuffs and drinks.

In case y’all were wondering, it is impossible to diplomatically tell a guy “I’m turning you down because I prefer doing my laundry.




Saturday morning: how to unsexify sexting

Saturday mornings = savage workouts with Coach Dr. Booté. One simply does not mess around with Coach and his workouts. If he requests the pleasure of our presence at a certain hour, we show up. On time. Ready to go. That is just how it works with Coach. #bossyman

So, it stands to reason that despite finding myself in the midst of a rather successful sexting session with Hickster, when the clock chimed 11am, I told Hickster I had to go workout. He requested I send him a naughty pic in exchange for my impending silence. I apologetically refused: no time, no way I would risk Coach’s wrath! I suggested Hickster use his imagination or the internet instead, bc I’m helpful like that.

Giggling, I told Coach and the boys what had just happened. The reactions included:

  • “Who sexts at 11am?”
  • “Who doesn’t sext at 11am?”
  • “So you just gave a guy blue balls by text?”
  • “Of COURSE you shouldn’t be late to MY workouts. Clearly, this bro doesn’t realize that MY workouts are the reason you have a sextable booté in the first place. He needs to learn.”

One of the guys suggested that I send a “dirty” video of me all hot and sweaty working out like an Amazon, lifting heavy shit. “Hey baby, this is what you meant, right? I’m so dirty. And I can whoop your ass. Bye!”

Hickster didn’t find it hilarious. Hihi.


Because sharing is caring, behold Vanilla’s dirty videos:

And another, by which time I’d forgotten the stated objective of the videos, bc I was consumed by the pain of my burning muscles.

Memory box

Growing up, my mother encouraged me to keep a memory box of all cards and letters I received from friends and family, because she told me I would cherish the memories one day. Because she was my Ma, and I took her word as Law, I religiously kept all such items as a child.

I became slacker in adolescence, and to my eternal regret, I stopped when I moved out at 19. There are some cards she gave me in my twenties that I would give anything to find again, but I lost them during all my moves, and my carelessness.

Tuesday, after my bad day, when I was desperately searching for something to comfort and anchor me, I opened up the Memory Box for the first time since she died. I found so many treasures there, including her letter to me, aged thirteen-minus-two and this one:

Jan 19, 1995

Good Morning Miss Bingi,

Shake yourself awake little girl!!!

It’s a new day and how hard you work now will make all the difference in your tests today. Wake me as soon as you need quizzing. Say “Ma, I need you! It’s important, my old mom.”

Yours truly,

Sosipatra Hoggstub

P.S. Nightmares Mimi is having tonight:

  • Oh no! MacDonald’s Mimiburger
  • Oh no! MacDonald’s Mimihotdog
  • What’s next? Mimi Pizza?

(For a full introduction to Mimi, my childhood bestfriend and teddybear, read When you are having a bad day… and Where I rediscover that Mimi is fidèle.)

I have countless such handwritten notes that she’d leave on the kitchen table for me to find when I’d wake up. Some are whimsical (Sosipatra Hoggstub?! Straight outta Harry Potter, before Harry Potter even existed), some are irritated, some are forgiving, all are written with so much love. Due to her terrible health and pain conditions, she often had trouble falling asleep, sometimes only dozing off at 5am, after my father had woken to go to work. Yet, she always wanted me to wake her in case I needed extra help prepping for school.

What a mama.

Today is my father’s 67th birthday. My old man is off gallivanting in Moscow and St-Petersburg with some friends. He is enjoying his retirement, which given how hard he worked his whole life… is a very good thing.

A tribute to my old man

Happy birthday, Pops!

Where I discover I have the same friend I had before

Small update: Beaut and I have been cautiously exploring what it means to be real friends.

Don’t roll your eyes at me – even my cousins have tentatively signed off on this. Real, reciprocal, platonic friendship. So far in 2017, our interactions have been limited, because he remains as fucked up as ever, and I have a ways to get back to that space of trust that I need for all my close friendships. Still, I can’t shake this hippy feeling from Day 1 that he is a guy who belongs in my life in some capacity. The mistake, if ever there was one, was trying to force it romantically, when I believe we were always destined to be firm friends. That initial dating bullshit caused a lot of distracting shit, and it will take us (me) a bit of time to wipe the slate clean from all those dissonances.

One of the limited interactions we’ve had is over Beaut’s daughter’s interest in ballet. There was never a girl more clearly destined for ballet. She walks around on her tiptoes all the time, is a little princess in appearance and character, prefers if EVERYTHING is pink and shiny always, and is athletically gifted. Oh, and her smile is the sweetest thing on the planet – I’m pretty sure it can cure cancer. Feb 5 was the Open House at my prestigious ballet school. I suggested Beaut bring his little girl, to see if this kinda thing appealed to her. While I attended my adult class, she had her hair done at the bar à chignons, stage makeup applied, tried on a miniature tutu, posed with some of les grandes (advanced students) and determined that the red tutu, of all the tutus on display, was the best. During the last 10 minutes of class, she insisted on being allowed into my classroom to watch, and promised she’d sit tight, quietly. Which she did, except for the part after every exercise where she would “whisper” using what I can only hope is her outdoor voice Allooooooooooo Vanilla! and wave her teensy hands at me.

That girl. My heart. Sigh. She makes putting up with her Papa-the-Grinch totally worthwhile.

Sunday, I took Beaut and his daughter to see her first real ballet – a live re-broadcast of the Bolshoi’s Swan Lake. (I’d threatened him with murder if he let anyone else initiate his daughter to ballet. It would be a privilege and my joy to give her the gift of a love of ballet, a love that has shaped my entire life, and I hope will do the same for her.) She did a great job – she is pre-K, it’s a 3 hour ballet, and the story is pretty messed up (bird-women, dude getting a black bird-woman confused with a white bird-woman, magic spells, death).

As his daughter would take my hand, I felt painful, pure darts of love for this child – not mine, never will be, and I’ll only see her occasionally as she grows up, assuming Beaut and I navigate this complicated friendship. Without a doubt, I love her. Watching her snuggle with her father, watching him concentrate on this art-form that does not naturally appeal to him, because he wants to understand this world that his daughter might become a part of, made me ache. Their love reminds me so much of that which I shared with my mama.

In the car ride afterwards, I mentioned the 2 guys, same feedback comment to Beaut. I wanted to know what his experience had been, getting to know me. He was affronted, Well, it stands to reason that your experiences with them wouldn’t be the same as what we shared, it was different you and me! You can be as reserved as you damn well like when getting to know someone. Who do they think they are?! Irony: we spent the rest of the car ride in silence: once upon a time, I could ask him anything, he would tell me anything, and I could reveal anything I wanted to him. Now… I have no conversation, just like for those other 2 dudes, bc that protective bubble of trust that I need to be myself has been broken. Temporarily maybe, maybe not.

Last night, at kizomba, I was a mess: better than two days ago, when I resorted to reading my mother’s old letters, but still really off-balance. Emotionally raw. Beaut at first assumed I was pissed (like always!) at him. It took me a while to convince him that nope, I swear, not this time. His defensiveness subsided and was replaced by worry. I managed to fool everyone else in class but not Beaut. He nagged me into letting him give me a ride home. I didn’t want it, I couldn’t bear trying to keep my shit together any longer, especially since I knew he wouldn’t buy it. I just wanted to cry alone.

He pushed and prodded me into speaking up. A complicated jumbled swamp of tears and emotions poured out, most of it involving my current non-bloggable trainwreck with Hickster. It was mortifying admitting to my terrible taste in men and lapses in judgment. Beaut definitely had a few tactless moments (“FFS Vanilla, Hickster?! What were you thinking? Couldn’t you see what kind of guy he is? DIDN’T YOU LEARN ANYTHING FROM ME????”) But he listened. He helped me unravel my tangled mess of thoughts and insecurities and hurt. By the end of the discussion, I had clarity.

In a moment when I was not ok, Beaut had been there, despite my best efforts to shut him out. I had been vulnerable to Beaut. I had trusted him to be a safe space.



Letter from my Mama – Tuesday August 8, 1995

Good morning, my darling Miss Bingi, Thirteen-minus-two!

Eleven is a fine age to be, I think. Did I ever tell you, my dear little Poozik, how very proud I am of you? Sometimes in the big flood of talk about problems, difficulties, things that need improving, I forget to tell you that you are a beautiful, wonderful, miraculous Choozik. And that everything will work out wonderfully well! Sometimes I lose perspective and forget to have enough trust in God – in life – in me and in you. But I’m learning – and I love you with all my heart – which makes me learn a little faster than I might have.

So my dear delight, let’s take pleasure in each other’s company for soon the summer will be over and it’ll be a busy winter and then, guess what, the year of thirteen-minus-two will be over and the time of twelve will come to you. So let’s make some happy memories of our time together during the summer of eleven.

With all my love always,

Your mama

P.s. I’m ready for a couple of games of “dourak” and gin rummy today.

Fun facts: I broke my legs and began 5 years in and out of hospitals as a cripple in Fall 1995, and my mother got diagnosed with Stage 4 Breast Cancer in Fall 1996.

I had an absolute garbage day today, culminating in me bursting into tears at my desk at 7:30pm, sobbing so hard with mascara tears down my cheeks that the cleaning team respectfully turned off their vacuum cleaners to give me space and silence. I needed comfort bad. This letter is the closest thing I could get to a hug from my mother.

Some days, I miss her awful.

This is true love

I love cheese.

I’ve fallen in love with every water (and waitress) that has come by to offer to sprinkle cheese on my Italian meal. And by sprinkle, my meal is cheese with a side of Italian food ingredients.

Cheese is the glue that holds my life together 🧀 (follow @daddyissues_)

A post shared by My Therapist Says… (@mytherapistsays) on

Today. Valentine’s day. I hate Valentine’s Day. Valentine’s Day is the reason I started blogging. I decided to ignore the whole concept. Didn’t bring chocolate to the office, dressed in black (and purple), just a normal day in the life of Vanilla.


My junior knocked on my cubi-office, and handed me a aluminum foil rectangle.

From one single girl, to another… Happy Valentine’s Day.


She got me a grilled cheese sandwich. If that is not true love, I don’t know what is.

I did say I have the best team ever? As if I needed further proof.


2 guys, same feedback: part II

This will surprise no one: I was really upset when I wrote 2 guys, same feedback. I felt so defeated. All of my progress these past 2.5 years, invalidated by the opinions of 2 guys. Both dudes are rational and worthy of my respect; furthermore, they have NOTHING in common, based on any possible metric including nationality, education, upbringing, religion, age, profession, height or weight. If two guys that would not be prone to share opinions had same conclusion about me, it must be true.

And it is true, kinda.

Yes, I shut down convos pretty fast if they get too close to topics that are likely to generate emotions in me.

Yes, until Beaut, if I met a guy that appealed to me, emotionally, I would ghost him and put up every possible barrier known to mankind. Yes, for most of my soon-to-be-7 years as a single girl, I rejected any and all scenarios that could expose me to an opportunity of meeting someone who could hurt me. Stands to reason – my depressions hijacked my life. The last one, if unchecked, might have killed me, and I don’t say that lightly. Why would I seek out situations that could expose me to a relapse?

Yes, I am still extremely gun-shy about meeting a guy that could hurt me. But thanks to Beaut, I know I can survive such a situation – I won’t enjoy it, it will hurt, and depending on the guy, it might put me through the wringer. But as I recently realized, if I can handle Queen B Vanilla (aka I can handle anger), I can also handle hurt. Getting hurt is no longer synonymous with falling back into depression. I’m stronger than that. I have the tools.

BUT, I am scared. Obvi.

So I reserve the right to proceed with caution. I will not give myself up to just anyone. I need to trust them first. Physically, maybe. But vulnerability, and that sharing of myself that both of those dudes so expect from me? No. Not yet. I do not trust them. I might like them. I might anticipate that sooner or later, I will trust them, but right now, if I am shutting them down, it is because I do not trust them, and that is my prerogative.

Fuck that whole “vulnerability or nothing” ultimatum. I am vulnerable enough – this blog is proof of that. I have deep, transparent, rich relationships with my friends and coworkers, including my staff. My life abounds with love. I am capable of it.

And if they so want to get to know the “real” me, they can start by reading most of this blog. Yes, I prefer this medium, because I get to chose what I share, and when, but that too is my right. Everything I share here is truth. My truth.

I will not be imposed upon, because my schedule for assessing trustworthiness isn’t compatible with a man’s. Either he sticks around and waits it out, or he doesn’t. I’m worth it. And I am trying.


2 guys, same feedback

Lately, I’ve been feeling pretty happy with life. It’s been going well. Most of my insecurities seemed under control. Work: good. Boys: my dating life is a trainwreck, but overall the ratio of interested guys vs available time is totally acceptable to me. Dancing: going well.

And then this week happened.

Exhibit A: Teacher posted this video of us dancing.

I freaked out. This (beautiful) man has smaller legs than me. I see him on the video – he looks like a normal fit guy: slim, maybe, but by no means twiggy. I look at myself in the mirror at home, and in my cute work outfits, and I think to myself “dayum girl, you fine!” I look at this video, and I am thicker than teacher. “The camera adds 10lbs”, you say. HE IS IN THE SAME CAMERA AS ME. He looks like that in real life. That means I look like that in real life. And presto! All my body insecurities are back.

Exhibit B: Work eval

I had my first work eval this week. It was a great eval. My hard work = appreciated. Yippee! Seeing as constructive criticism is a good thing, my bosses gave me feedback: I’m good. But I am not a natural leader. All this time I cofounded my newfound assertiveness with being a leader. Major fail in understanding. And given that I pride myself (pride, not vanity) on my understanding… realizing I was wide off the mark stings. A lot.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve somehow believed my own hype, and lost humility.



Exhibit C: Men and their need for vulnerability

Last night I went for drinks with Older Gentleman (first mentioned here). Somehow we got on to the topic of my dating life, and my habit of physically beautiful guys who are not long-term candidates, with a segway to my refusal to be vulnerable. He told me, bluntly, that if he is interested in a gal, he expects her to meet him halfway. I told him, bluntly, Buddy, I’ve been going for drinks/food with you semi regularly, because you interest and attract me and I enjoy you. I can’t handle more than that, I am scared. His feedback: take a risk or pay the price of a safe life.

I went home and tried not to cry. Cerebral me knows he wasn’t criticizing me, he was merely letting me know the consequence of my tendency of keeping ppl at arm’s length. Emotional me is devastated: I am not good enough. Again. It is never enough.

It wasn’t enough for my ex who realized he didn’t want to marry me when he went ring shopping.

It wasn’t enough for Beaut: I explored vulnerability, I showed all of myself to him, comforted by the parallels in our lives (anxiety, trust issues, anger issues, family issues). Here was someone who could understand me. He chose to understand someone else instead.

And now, apparently, despite all my hard work at tolerating vulnerability, being myself, Older Gentleman has signaled that the reason why I am stuck with all these bozos is that any man of substance will find me inadequate because I do not demonstrate a sufficient capacity for vulnerability. I am not enough for a guy to stick around and try get to know me, apparently.

I am not enough.

This morning, having slept on it, my hurt had shifted to anger. Fuck off. I am who I am. I am doing the best I can. And then…

I was talking on the phone with Gentleman-Friend Hickster, who pointed that I have no conversation: I am a pussy. Yeah. He has a way with words, that one, clearly. Pressed for clarification, Hickster elaborated: he has noticed that every single time he broaches a personal topic, I immediately stop talking. I am a pussy because rather than handle potential discomfort/honesty/resulting intimacy, I shut down the convo.

2 guys, 24 hours, same feedback.

Well, fuck.