Dating misadventures

Mercedes vs Ferrari vs pizza

In our office building there is a cantine run by an Italian caterer who is skilled at making everything sound delicious, which indeed it is. Tests my willpower, he does. A few months ago, he hired a young dude (19-20 years old?), a good-looking charmer. This kid clearly enjoys his job, as evidenced by the enthusiasm with which he describes the menu of the day, and makes tailored suggestions to all the clientèle.

On Friday, Charmer pitched his home-made custom pizza as my top choice for lunch. It sounded decadent, as everything with bacon must. I sighed, recognizing defeat. “Yes, fine, I’ll take it. I’m gonna regret this!” Charmer paused as he put my pizza in the oven, completely stumped as to why I’d regret eating something so yummy? I explained: like every woman ever, I am trying to diet, to shed 10.

Diet?! But why? You look great! You could always look better? Well, yes, that’s true, in theory…. but I mean… if you drive every day a Mercedes, are you really gonna be saying “Dammit, if only I was driving a Ferrari”? No, right? A Mercedes is freaking nice car. Enjoy it. Be proud of it. Pretty much everyone would love to drive a Mercedes.

Someone get this boy -almost young enough to be my son – a job in sales, STAT. I’ve been averaging 1 gym workout per month, working too much, haven’t been on a date in months, wouldn’t remember how to flirt if I was presented with all of the opportunities on the planet, spend my weekends sleeping in to offset my sleep deprivation, find the motivation to wear mascara 2 days out of 7, and feel like an unattractive blob… is it obvious I am PMSing?

I ate the entire damn pizza, and had a goofy smile all day.

Behold the newest Vanilla-class Mercedes. #noselfieskills

Reblog: Falling Half in Love with Strangers

I stumbled upon the post below: it’s a masterpiece. It describes so very perfectly what happened to me in Dubai. I’d say my experience was a bit further along the line of “falling in love non-platonically” than Quinn’s here, but that doesn’t matter. I was invested. I experienced, for the first time in my life, an immediate and perfect connection with someone, and the days and hours that followed served only to prove my gut instinct right.

It’s been surprisingly hard letting go of that connection, especially in this era of social media. I struggled to understand what I was going through in the weeks following Dubai. Such a sharp blend of happiness and sadness. I realized, finally, that it was grief: grief for a chapter of happiness that had a pre-defined expiry date. Melodramatic? Maybe, maybe not: it is what I felt, and when I read Quinn’s experience below, I am comforted in knowing that others too have experienced similar moments. Now that I’ve worked through all that, I’m free to feel gratitude for those 4 days of perfect connection. Seeing him pop up on my Fbk newsfeed serves as a reminder of what I should continue striving for in my interactions on this side of the pond: a heart singing with joy.

I am on the lookout for a particular word.

I want a word for the feeling I get when I connect with a total stranger for a few minutes or hours, and then never see them again. It’s an ability to suddenly feel profound, intense affection for someone I don’t know. It’s not physical attraction, necessarily. It can happen with men or women. It is a non-discriminatory feeling that happens without warning, without rhyme or reason. I want a word that explains how I can feel instantly and powerfully attached to somebody and then, in a perverse way, almost hope never to see them again.

Is there a word for that?

There are a handful of people I’ve met over the years who I still think about from time to time, because even if I only spent a few hours with them, in those hours I was invested. I wanted to know everything about them. I fell a little bit platonically in love with them and their stranger-ness. I felt something that I don’t have a word for, and I hate that. I felt a nameless, wordless bond.

Read the full post here: Falling Half in Love with Strangers

 

When my own blog causes me to have a meltdown 

I’m proud of my blog. I think everybody should read it all the time. Like a mother who secretly believes her child is cuter than any other mini-human, I not-so-secretly believe my blog is the bee’s knees. I tell everyone about my blog. You can be sure I’ve sent 100% of my Fbk friends an invite to like my blog’s page… and I notice who has accepted or not. Apparently, some of my friends have better taste than others – but I won’t name names. It’s a free world, and all that.

I’ve been friends with Hermiono (he is an OCD nerd with a stand-up character) for 8 months. I’ve mentioned my blog to him on a weekly basis. I sent him the invite to my blog’s Fbk page in 2016; he sees anything I share on my personal Fbk wall, which includes some of my blog posts, obvi. He called me up this weekend, “Vanilla! You have a blog!” Yes I do, aren’t you perceptive! “I had no idea!” I’m questioning your listening skills, bro. “It’s GOOD! You are a GOOD writer!” Yes, I know. Glad you’ve finally caught on. “I think you are totally crazy for putting yourself and your entire life out there, but hey! I love it. It’s entertaining! You’re a mess.” Fact. Now, get back to reading – you’ve some catching up to do.


I’ve consulted lawyers, to gain an understanding of what I can/cannot share, to ensure I am not at risk of any lawsuit or termination for breach of confidentiality/other reasons. I take great pains to honor my characters privacy. Beaut vetted every post while we dated because I worried our social circle would quickly figure out his identity. He insisted I write my truth – he also periodically shared my posts on his Fbk wall, at which point I deemed the burden of preserving his anonymity had been waived. The guys featured in my failed date stories? I strip of any possible identification. Overall, I work hard to balance the need to tell my truth with the respect and consideration owed to anyone featured in my stories.

I write every post with the awareness that co-workers, family & friends of various faiths/backgrounds/values will read it. My mythical future husband and in-laws might read it: the mental health struggles, the ugly insecurities, the hilarious lack of judgment. This informs who I am – exploring vulnerability and sharing these stories has changed my life. I’m told periodically that this blog makes people smile and has helped others on their own journeys of mental health and personal growth. So my future in-laws can suck it. Judgmental bastards.

My new European friends in Dubai reacted with condemnation. “A personal blog? What are you, a gossip?! Do you want a reputation as the Kizomba Bitch? Are you trying to be a Kim Kardashian? I didn’t peg you as somebody who was vulgar. You do know you don’t HAVE to overshare.” I was shocked. I wonder how many people perceive me & my blog as vulgarthe one adjective that fills me with horror. But I was equal parts irritated – none of them had read my blog: theirs was a knee-jerk reaction. See above comment about some friends having better taste than others. Hmph.


It’s hard being honest and funny when one is worried about others’ perception.

I think it’s time I stop worrying.


Once upon a time I wrote a blog post about a boy. It was sweet, a good mix of cerebral and emotional. I sent it to him, as a courtesy, letting him know that I was refraining from posting it on Fbk until he had read it.

Hours went by. Crickets.

More hours went by. Turns out he had family over. I don’t know what he was thinking, having family over when I was waiting on him to read my post, but wtv. Nobody is perfect.

MORE hours went by. I caved, and asked him whether silence implied consent. He hadn’t read it yet – family obligations and whatnot.

Hours turned into days. I drafted a step-by-step Manual For Guys That Are Featured In Heartfelt Blog Posts Written By Girls That Are Allergic To Vulnerability. Highlights include:

Drop everything you are doing and read the post immediately. Showing yourself as online, but NOT reading the messages is unacceptable and will cause part of the girl’s soul to die. Within a delay of 57 seconds, write back complimentary noises. Do NOT assume the girl is a stage 5 clinger. If you are an overachiever, read 20-30 of her posts, decide she is good people, and be cool.

Days turned into weeks. My brain decided it would be a great idea if I messaged him. Was I suave? No. Did I make the situation better? Definitely not. I accept my fate as the female version of this guy. Karma’s a bitch.


I think it’s time I stop worrying. There will be times where my intentions vs others perception of me/my blog will diverge widely; on a small scale, this is a risk that any artist/creative person must face. Humor gets lost in translation all the time. Do I stand by each of my posts? Yes. Is this blog true? Yes.

Well then. Less worrying, more trainwrecks.

#mynewlifemotto

#KizombaBitchindahouse

A valuable lesson

Back in Feb, I was having coffee with Dynamo, and I brought him up to speed concerning my trainwreck dating life.

I’d recently experienced a few moments with Beaut that had led me to believe that perhaps, maybe, with caution, we could sustain a friendship. Dynamo listened to me in silence, and then gravely spoke:

So this is what you are gonna do. You are going to unfriend him from social media, block him, and never talk to him again. He lied to you. He has lied to others. He has repeatedly shown that he will hurt you as a side-effect to him getting something he wants. He can have all the good quantities you describe, all that is true. You have forgiven him, bc you should not hold hatred in your heart. But he is not a good friend. And so he deserves nothing from you. No time, no energy, no space in your life. That isn’t being a drama queen, that is choosing to control the levels of drama and happiness in your life. To chose happiness you MUST not choose drama.

I mourned the end of a chapter in my life that, while tumultuous, had triggered so much personal growth and discovery for me. I was a better person because of Beaut – how sad that I couldn’t benefit from all the advantages he’d generated with him as a part of my life. But Dynamo is wise, and has built a life for himself that I respect and admire. If he tells me something, it’s worth considering.

I followed Dynamo’s orders and blocked Beaut. My stress levels improved almost immediately, and have continued to steadily improve ever since. I’m free.

Dynamo wasn’t done. He had lots to say about my recent string of dates, including Hickster, Eurodude, Older Guy.

I think it is time you question what you want in your life. If you want happiness, why are you accepting guys that won’t bring you happiness in your life? Happiness is a choice, and is contingent on the alignment of the values you hold dear and your own behaviour. The Vanilla I met in 2009 would not have accepted these guys in her life, bc they do not align with her values.

Have your values changed? Because your quest for happiness has not, so make sure your behaviour is reflective of that. I don’t think it is.

Ouch. From my best friend. Hearing that suuuuuuuuuucked. He was right. I’d been settling for dead-end, fun, convenient dating scenarios, with no long-term potential, and usually a whole lot of drama, that inevitably distracted me from my goals of well-being and joy.

A few weeks later, cue my almost burnout and a need for an immediate vacation, and off I went to Paris/Dubai.

I have often stated that the Universe is a bit of a dick, with a fucked-up sense of humour. Well, not this time: the timing of this life lesson was just perfect. If I step back and look at the theme of this trip, it is that of Love and Friendship: both new (FroMan, Energizer and Sunshiney), old (BlondEyes) and dear (BossMan and IronSweetie). There was no drama. There was no insecurity. There was overwhelming happiness and connection and joy. Why? Because of the ppl in my life, willing and capable of sharing themselves beautifully with me, and I with them.

This trip spoiled me. I don’t wanna settle for any less happiness with my friends and dating life than what I experienced in Dubai. Frankly, I don’t think I can settle again: anything less will be too little, when compared to the joy I felt during those 8 days.

Dynamo, as always, was right.


Recap of this trip – Dubai:

A tale of 4 days

I wrote this immediately after my trip, when the joy coursing in my veins was strong. It has taken several days to fade, as fade it must. I’m learning that the down-side to travelling is that we cannot (must not!) hold onto the people and transient moments that bring us joy. To prevent total memory loss, I’ve put those initial feelings into words. Like a photograph, I want to reread this and remember a slice of my life when my happiness was palpable and contagious.


FroMan.

He caught my eye at the first party of the festival, with his unusual mix of self-assurance, dancing technique and understated style – he dances to create a shared experience between him and his partner, rather than to perform. In the dance world, talent, technique & self-assurance are always accompanied by a healthy measure of ego & pride. It’s a world of big personalities. Not so with FroMan. My instinct told me I’d find peace & pleasure in his company, and not my usual anxiety amongst strangers. Just like that, mere hours after the start of the festival, I’d pegged FroMan as a safe friend. A safe, lowkey sexy-AF friend.

Any down-time between workshops and parties, I’d reach out to him. The answer was always that I should join him & whoever he was with. Hanging out with him in a group was an interesting experience. With most ppl, like Energizer and Sunshiney for example, spending time with them leads to surprises that change my understanding of their character. With FroMan, it was the opposite. Just like peeling away the layers of an onion does not change one’s assessment of the onion, every discovery or new info served to deepen and confirm my opinion of him: a safe, self-assured, reserved humble man with the most beautiful manners – always looking to enhance and promote the success of any gathering for all participants, consistent with his dancing style. Those beautiful manners gave my paranoid brain ammunition: maybe he was just being his kind, polite self, and letting me tag along bc I didn’t know anyone at the festival? Afterall, he’d not overtly flirted with me, or made any sort of move. His eyes just crinkled into a smile every time he saw me, and when something unexpected happened, I could be sure of him catching my eye to share a silent, complicit look.

At the afterparty of day 4 of the festival, Energizer was outrageously flirting with me. He’d been flirting with me from the moment I’d had my dancefloor meltdown on day 2, all festival long basically. By Day 4, he’d tacitly accepted his spot in my friendzone, which made me relax, and engage in the harmless, fun, over-the-top flirting with him. Energizer noticed FroMan studiously not staring at us, and broke off mid crude/hilarious compliment to go shake FroMan’s hand and tell him, “Bro, don’t worry. I like you. You are my friend. Good luck.” To my puzzled look, he explained, “FroMan wants you, and I am his friend, so I can’t have you, and I don’t want him to think I’ll try have you. Besides… I’m pretty sure you want him as much as he wants you.” (Who knew there was such a thing as an honorable playboy?!) That moment of confirmation that no, I wasn’t crazy, there was something between us, FroMan’s impeccable manners be damned, made me so happy it hurt.

The next day, a bunch of us from the festival went to the Burj Khalifa. It was a glorious day amongst friends. That tower is incredible – hypnotic in its grace and stature. We watched the famous fountain shows as the sun set. Those shows are so beautiful they strip your mind of any thoughts – rushes of pure emotion and amazement. During our second viewing, I stood next to FroMan, rapt in my bubble of glorious joy. He slung his arm around me as he watched in silence. I was so happy it hurt.

That night, at the last dance party, it came time for our goodbyes. Small talk, best wishes, smiles, intentions of staying in touch, and keeping tabs of any dance festivals we’d attend on each other’s continents. He slung his arm around me and held me close in silence. I left. It hurt.

Maybe I’m all wrong, and it was a one-sided crush: a good, deep friendship. Who cares? Wtv it was, it felt like 2 pieces of a puzzle fitting snugly together. We shared a unique, beautiful thing. It makes me sad that this story was only meant to last 4 days – but what a lovely, self-contained story! He lives on the other side of the world. Maybe he is a male version of BlondEyes – someone I run into every few years, with whom I share a few hours/days of wonderful connection before we go our separate ways. The delight I feel at having met him outweighs the regret of not having him around anymore.

I never knew. I never knew it could be so easy and simple, so wondrous, to like someone and be liked in return. What a gift he has given me.


Recap of this trip so far:

 

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.

Ooops?

#IreallyenjoyedmyGrandmaFridaynighttho

#Itotallykilledthosedanceoffs

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.

#ittakesavillagetounsexifysexting


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.

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.

Progress.

#friendshipFTW