Better Off Wed

The Proposal

When Curtis and I were approximately 8 weeks into dating, he made the comment “I already know how I would propose to you.” which was weird, for a number of reasons, most of them being that I did not feel that I gave any indication of what I would want out of a proposal. But I did remember jamming out to Paper Rings earlier that week when we were both in the car and figured… yeah, that’s probably it.

So anyway, fast forward a little less than a year, and I can tell that he is practicing paper ring making. And he waited so long that by this point, we have already basically planned our elopement (and my bridal shower). So there wasn’t really a lot of time left. Therefore, I knew that it was coming, exactly when it was going to happen, and how. Which is exactly the opposite of what I’ve always dreamed. 

So it comes to the night I know it’s going to happen, and he’s put a sticky note on the door that says “come on in,” and then the door is locked… so I unlock the door and walk in and all the lights are off. He took the flowers that he had gotten me a few weeks earlier and made a little path down the hallway with them along with one (1) single candle from the fireplace mantle. Like just sitting, lit, in the middle of the hallway. One candle. And of course, the song “Paper Rings” is playing from the computer speakers in the bedroom.

So I follow the flower path to his bedroom, and he is just in the doorway of his bedroom, on one knee, in a suit. And he starts talking to me. But the music is blasting, and it’s dark, and I am not really getting any of what he’s saying. So I tell him to like, turn on the light and turn down the music, so he gets up and does that, and then comes back to one knee.

He says “I am so excited to spend eternity with you!” and then stands up and hands me a little “ring box” that he made by taping together two canvases that he and his kid painted. And I just am like “ok? You got a question or something?” and he’s like “oh!” and goes to get back on one knee and I’m just like “…Curtis… this is really bad” and he goes “…is that a no?” 

Now let’s rewind for a MOMENT. First of all, I had been telling him for MONTHS that if his proposal was bad, I was going to say no. Also, because he is such a D&D nerd, I thought it would be really cool if, when he asked me to marry him, I gave him a 20 sided die (called a D20) and told him to roll for persuasion. But I didn’t want to have him accidentally roll low, because I was already planning on saying yes, so I found a D20 where all the sides were 20. And when I knew he was going to propose, I made sure to have it on me. 

So like… should I have said no? Absolutely. He proposed to me in his BEDROOM, and not only that, but in the DOORWAY, so that while he’s down on one knee, I have the beautiful backdrop of his unmade bed with a pile of laundry on it. Like people go to the ends of the earth to get the proposal vibes right and he couldn’t even go for a WALK? I was so upset. But I already had the die! 

So when he asked, “is that a no?”, I took out the die and handed it to him, saying “roll for persuasion.” And instead of saying “oh my GOODNESS THAT’S SO COOL,” he just rolled it and said “20!” and I was like “bro this is the coolest thing I’ve ever found and you’re not going to even comment on how cool it is?” and he was like “yeah it’s cool but I’m trying to focus on you” and I was like “dude but what about the fact that I got this for YOU” it was a mess. 

Anyway the ring he made was INCREDIBLE. So like idea: 10 but execution: 2

The Me Showing Him What a Proposal Should Be

I was all bent out of shape about how he proposed and how it should have been better so I decided that in addition to being bitter about how he proposed, I was going to show him how to do it the RIGHT way. But instead of calling it a proposal, I called it me “accepting the proposal.”

So I told him that I would be gone that night and would get home after he got there. I parked my car down the street so he wouldn’t see it and would really think that I wasn’t there. I made his favorite crockpot dinner so it was the first thing he smelled when he walked in, I decorated the place big time (like with confetti balloons that said YES and hanging lights and pictures of us from the ceiling) and then made a scavenger hunt throughout all the meaningful things or places that were within like 50 feet, each with a reason I wanted to marry him. On the TV, I even brought up the start screen for the show “13 Reasons Why” (this was on our 13 month mark) and then taped notecards that said “I WANT TO MARRY YOU” (so it read “13 reasons why I want to marry you) and I realize the tone is a complete and total mismatch but that’s kinda what I thought made it funny.

The clues took him to the first place we cooked together (kitchen), place we first kissed (couch), first place we took a roadtrip to (it was on the map I had on the wall), and a bunch of other places. Clue #12 was in my room (which was CLEAN with NO LAUNDRY on the bed) where I was, dressed in my elopement dress that he hadn’t seen yet, and with my guitar. When he came in, I was planning to sing him a song I wrote for him, but I didn’t finish it, so I just started singing random stuff like “I was gonna write you a song and sing it but I didn’t finish it” and it kinda morphed into Buddy the Elf’s “I love you, I love you, I loooooove you” song.

Then the 13th clue took him to the game cabinet, where I had made him a card game about our relationship. It mirrored the game “Dungeon Mayhem” which was one of the games he had that I actually liked playing with him.

The Elopement

There is a whole post on this here but long story short we went to Burger King to Have it Our Way and wore crowns and he put an onion ring on my finger and we had our first dance in the WalMart parking lot and then we had hostess cakes and it was perfect.

The Wedding Planning

Invitations

We had three invitations that we gave out to different people – one that was specific to the people who knew me really well, one for like 8 people that knew Curtis really well, and one for people who we wanted there but weren’t necessarily super close to either of us.

Mine said “After many prayers, the mother of Tyffani is pleased to announce that her daughter has finally found Curtis (someone who can “handle her strong personality.”) Please join us to express congratulations and condolences”

The general one said: “Tyffani and Curtis have decided that they love each other so much, it’s time to get the government involved.”

And Curtis’s? Well that’s one secret I’ll never tell. I mean, I can send it to you personally, but I won’t publish it for the world.

On the back, we put QR codes for the registry and the RSVP. We had two for registry: one that linked to our amazon registry, and one that linked to this video:

It saddens me that not enough people probably watched that. All the creative genius just for it to go unappreciated. 

Catering

We had a taco truck. Nuff said. 

Location

We rented out a beautiful bed and breakfast about 10 minutes away from civilization. His family from out of town stayed there and we had the ceremony out back.

The Dress

I bought my dress off Wish for like $37. Then I waited until the week before my wedding to decide that I kinda didn’t like it and wanted to do something to it… but I’m not very old at sewing. So my grandmother and stepmom came to the rescue and redid the ENTIRE top of the dress. See before and afters.

The Wedding

Flowers

I will never understand how people can spend THOUSANDS of dollars on plants that will DIE. I figured that we would already have enough nature, what with it being an outdoor wedding, so we really only needed bouquets. And so a few friends and I went out the morning of my wedding day and picked some weeds from the side of the road to make bouquets out of.

People call them weeds, but I think they are beautiful. They grow on the side of the road and they seem to pop up everywhere. They are resilient. They are omnipresent. And I love that I can’t help but drive past them every year around this time and remember my special day.

Guest Book

I tried to have a “digital guest book” with a tripod and camera and props and white boards so I didn’t have to look back in 40 years and be like “who’s that?” when reading people’s names in a guest book, but only like 6 people actually did it. I blame the poor placement, which is ultimately my fault. 

Gift Table

We decorated the trunk of Curtis’s car and put a sign that said “GIFTS – because they’re going to end up here anyway” and was that tacky? I don’t really care, because it means I didn’t have transfer gifts from a table to a car at the end of the night. 

Hashtagged Item

I ordered a bunch of face masks and wrote our wedding hashtag – DEGRAWWYEAH – on them, because what’s a more covid appropriate wedding accessory?

Ceremony

Instead of a ring bearer, my niece was our ring BEAR. I got a ring box that looked like a D20 and sent it down the aisle with her to give to Curtis, who had no idea that I had gotten it. My stepkid also dressed up like a dog and was “Best Man’s Best Friend.” My bridesmaids walked down the aisle to Wannabe by the Spice Girls, and I walked down the aisle to the clean version of “All Eyes on Me” by Bo Burnham. Our brother in law was our flower dude and he absolutely killed it. Nobody “married” us, I really just treated it like my stand up comedy special. We exchanged some vows, exchanged our rings, and then went in for the open-mouthed kiss (of course).

Traditions

Some people smash a vase or walk around the altar, but I decided that our “joining of the hearts” symbolic gesture would be for Curtis to drink out of my red cup. 

You see, when I was a child (youngest of 4), we went through a lot of dishes, and so my dad suggested that we each choose one cup and use that cup only. I think he meant like “per day,” but I committed. I chose the only red cup we had, and for the REST of my life, that was MY cup. Nobody else dared drink from MY red cup unless they wanted to incur MY wrath. So, to symbolize that what is mine is now Curtis’s, I let him drink from my red cup. 

I haven’t seen that cup since the ceremony. I’m actually a little distraught about that.

Some people cut the cake and then feed each other. Instead, I had my friend make us each a smallish smash cake and we had a cake eating contest – like hands behind your back, faces only — the whole deal. The cakes were actually way too big to be smash cakes and yet, in my commitment, I finished mine – which means I was the winner – not only of the competition, but also of some nausea.

Some people do a first dance. And actually, I had been wanting my WHOLE life to do a dance off in place of a first dance, but in the hustle of wedding planning, I didn’t find time to choreograph dances or patch together songs to go back and forth to. But I DID write him a song, asked someone to help me “produce it”, and played that to dance our “first dance” to. Harass me for that and I might send you the mp3.

I made 5 playlists – the wedding welcome music, the aisle procession, the dinner hour, the dancing, and the Taylor Swift hour. 

I have a lot of things I would do differently if I could do it over. I joke that now I know how to do it better for my next wedding. But there’s gonna have to be a funeral before that happens because Curtis’s only way outta this relationship is in a body bag.

Have It yOur Way

Many years ago, I was having a conversation with someone, idr who, and we were talking about how to choose a wedding date. I was thinking of my favorite month and my favorite number, and without thinking, I blurted out that I wanted to get married on September 11. And then I heard it out loud, and the people I was talking to looked at me weird, and I was like “oh… “ and then I was like “yknow what? Yeah, I do want to get married on September 11” and then I waited until I found somebody who would be ok with that.

And then I met Curtis. And he was totally on board. Tbh, probably a little too on board (too many puns that I will not let him make in public). But we met in late January, and I wasn’t about to have a six-month meet-to-marriage situation (no matter how many other Mormons and psychopaths have beat that. If you read that and are offended, yes, I mean you). 

I remember it was October 11, I was at his house, and I think he was job hunting and I was taking a nap or something. I woke up and he was sitting next to me, looking at me all sappy-like, and he said “is there a day sooner than 11 months from now that I can marry you?” 

I was absolutely on board with that, but it was a pretty scary time. Both of us were unemployed and we simply couldn’t just be “livin on love” because he was (is) a father, which comes with its own obligations and responsibilities. And while I was sure about him, there were so many other parts of his life that I wasn’t sure that I wanted to adopt into mine.

While there were other factors to consider, that conversation got us thinking that maybe we could elope on one of our anniversaries (like when we met, our first date, or when we became exclusive). I wanted him to have a job beforehand, though, just so there was one less element of uncertainty. He was applying and interviewing like crazy and nothing was coming of it. So we just kept waiting. 

The anniversary of the day we matched came and went. No job. The anniversary of our first date came and went. No job. And then – two weeks later – he finally got a job offer! With enough time to plan for a spontaneous elopement on our one year anniversary of becoming exclusive 😊 

From there, a bunch of little things had to come together, like getting a marriage license, finding a special place to do it, seeing if we could afford a small getaway, getting time off work, and arranging other details. Everything came together seamlessly – there were zoom appointments for marriage licenses available with plenty of time to get the certificate in the mail, my mom has a timeshare that includes places in Avon (a mountain town two hours away), which had availability for that week and she booked it for us as a little wedding gift. Also, note: the place she booked had four bedrooms, and since I worked from home and Curtis wasn’t coming up until late Wednesday night, a couple of friends and I got to go up and spend the week there. Also, since it fell on a Thursday, and Thursday is Curtis’s night with his daughter, his ex was kind enough to let him switch his night so he could come to the mountains and elope with me 😊 My sister also arranged a small bridal shower party for the few friends that I told, and my best friend even came out from Idaho to have a little bachelorette weekend with me.

After figuring out all the details, Curtis and I were sitting on the couch with Google Maps opened up, looking at all the places in Avon that we could go to elope. In the state of Colorado, you can self officiate at your own wedding, so we could go ANYWHERE. I was looking for some scenic spots that would make for pretty pictures. We were thinking it could be fun to do it on a gondola ride over “Bachelor Gulch” or something. On the map, we saw “Burger King,” so I jokingly said “should we do it at Burger King, because you are my King and I want to have it my way?” And he laughed and said “I could put an onion ring on your finger.” And at that moment, I had never been more certain of anything. We had to get married at Burger King. Nevermind that neither of us really cared all that much for Burger King, it was now a must.

Wednesday came, my friends left, and it was just me by myself in the hotel room all day left to be anxious about getting married. I’ll elaborate more on the details of this anxiety in a later post, perhaps in several years, but the intricacies of being a second wife & stepmom, combined with all the normal reasons for anxiety before a marriage, were definitely compounding. Curtis was aware of all of my reservations, anxieties, and concerns, and was the perfect comforter. He got up to the hotel, held me, assured me that we didn’t have to get married if I wasn’t ready/sure, and made sure I knew that he loved and supported me no matter what.

To be clear: I was and am completely sure of him. There are many things that I wasn’t sure of, things that I’m still not sure of, and things unique to this relationship that will cause me anxiety for many more years, if not decades. But I have never been surer of him. I believed in soul mates before, but the longer I am with him, the more certain I am that he is, without a doubt, my person. 

However, the hotel only had shampoo and I wanted conditioner, so I asked him to bring me some when he came up and he brought TWO IN ONE. TWO IN ONE?! NO. So that made me a little less sure. 

Thursday came, and it was perfect. We woke up, got dressed, did a “first look” where I totally set up the camera/tripod situation wrong and missed his initial reaction, went to Burger King, signed the papers, went to the post office to mail the marriage certificate back to the clerk’s office to get recorded, went to Wal-Mart to buy a wedding cake (hostess cakes, obv), had our first dance to Fall Out Boy’s “Alone Together” in the parking lot, went to the lake to take pictures with the self timing setting on my camera and a tripod, had dinner at a hibachi place, went hot tubbing, and paid attention to literally nothing else but each other.

Looking back, it was pretty much just a day of running errands, but it didn’t matter what we were doing. We were together, and nothing else mattered. No rushing to meet a schedule, no coordinating with other people who needed to be somewhere at a certain time, no keeping track of anything but each other. 

We kept it as our little secret until we had a wedding 6 months later. I wanted to have a huge party, but I also wanted to have an intimate experience. This way, we got to do both – exactly six months apart – and I got my September 11th wedding (and it happened to fall on a Saturday in 2021 and that’s so not a coincidence).

In retrospect, I couldn’t be happier that we phased into our life together. I think I needed that 6 month period of time to come to terms with my life changing. I needed the privacy to adjust to leaving behind a relatively simple life and entering a much more complicated one. I needed time in my bubble with my husband before I was ready to celebrate with the world. And I don’t regret it for a second.

It’s a Love Story, Baby

Everyone loves a good love story, so why not mine?

Given that today is one year since we matched, I thought I’d start a series (literally one blog post) that I update on every date that is the anniversary of a relationship milestone. Since I haven’t blogged about my relationship very much, or talked to many people about it, I figured this is a good way to let y’all be nosy without outing yourself as nosy (I, personally, would read anyone’s love story if they blogged about it because I am a sucker). Anyway. Here goes part 1.

A Match Made On Mutual (17 Jan 2020)

For all those who don’t know, Curtis and I met on Mutual: a dating app used primarily by Mormons.

I had downloaded/created a Mutual profile nearly two months earlier because I wanted to start doing ward date nights to normalize dating and start actually going on dates. I didn’t want these dates to GO anywhere, I just wanted to have a date for when I organized group date nights. So my only criterion for anyone I swiped up on was that I would go on a date with them. That was it. If it was someone who seemed like they’d be OK to spend an evening with, I swiped up.

He, on the other hand, was on Mutual because he “didn’t want to be single” which is “the same reason 99% of people are on dating apps,” apparently. He was looking for “someone who seemed like I could have an interesting conversation with” and I “seemed fun.” (these are direct quotes from when I asked him a minute ago)

Really though I know he just swiped up on me because of this picture ⬇️

So what was his opening line that we could have an “interesting conversation” about?

“Any podcast recommendations?”

I gave him a few. As of today, one year later, has he listened to any of the podcasts I recommended?

No.

I’m really exposing myself here, and I do feel bad saying this, but to be completely honest — when I saw on his profile that he was divorced and had a kid, my first thought was to avoid him entirely. But then I reminded myself that I was just there for dates, and since the possibility of things going anywhere was extremely slim (lol), I should just swipe up on the opportunity to spend an evening with a guy who otherwise seemed extremely cool. I mean, he quoted John Mulaney in his bio so that was a major green flag.

This was the only redeeming photo of him it’s like a really good thing idc about looks. And even then he still CUUUUUTE af.

When we matched, it had been so long since I swiped on him that I had forgotten my reasons. Since then, I had also widened my search radius to the whole US because it gets boring after a while of just using your state. So when we matched, I was in Utah for a friend’s wedding and he was in Ohio celebrating his friend’s wedding. So naturally, I thought he lived in Ohio and he thought I lived in Utah. After talking for a bit, we discovered that we lived within a half hour of each other in Colorado. Which, if I’m being totally honest, rocked my world because I was really diggin him.

The next day, I was in the airport waiting to fly home while we were messaging back and forth about our friends’ weddings when I texted my best friend about how cool this guy I just matched with was and how I felt like I could develop real feels for him. She was just like “cool hope you go on a date when you’re both back in Colorado.” Yknow, supportive bff stuff.

Not pictured: a later text saying “this is not only going to kill me, it’s going to hurt the entire time I’m dying.”

Another thing I remember is that when I was in the airport, I tweeted:

Reasons I’m in love with the man I just matched with on Mutual: liberal, feminist, lgbtq+ ally, quotes john mulaney, lives in CO

Reasons I hesitate to be in love with the man I just matched with on Mutual: just used the phrase “yuck someone else’s yum” unironically.

I later deleted the tweet after I followed him on Twitter because I didn’t want him to see it and be super weirded out by the fact I said I was in love with a man I’d only just matched with.

The rest, as we know it, will be documented in this blog post. So long as it stays appropriate for child/Mormon audiences. 😎

The Ask Out (1 Feb 2020)

As we got to chatting it up on the Mutual, I began to feel like this kid thought he was too cool for me (he wasn’t) (still isn’t) so I started to lose interest and hope in the whole matter. Then, one day, amidst our sporadic messaging, he made a comment about the pizza photo and asked if the pizza place where I got it was in Denver. And I was like omg he’s gonna ask me out. So I said yeah, the pizza place is in Denver. And then he didn’t ask me out.

I mean, he kinda did. In a weird, vague way. The conversation went a little something like this:

  • Him: Oh, I’ve been meaning to ask you about that picture with the pizza. Is that some place in Denver?
  • Me: yeah it’s this great place called Fat Sully’s.
  • Him: Cool, I’ll have to check it out sometime.
  • Me: Yeah, I actually got it recommended to me by a guy I met on Bumble so I guess the circle continues with me recommending it to you.
  • Him: Cool. It would be nice to go with someone who knows the place.
  • Me: I can see if bumbleboy is available, I might still have his number?
  • Him: haha I actually meant you. If you’d like to go sometime.
  • Me: haha yeah that would be fun

I actually have no idea what I said last, but I was reasonably annoyed that he didn’t seem to be amused at my joke about setting him up with guy I met on Bumble. Which was HILARIOUS.

So anyway, there it was. A very tentative, hypothetical ask out. And since he already seemed to think that he was “too cool,” I wasn’t going to give him the satisfaction of me being the one to try and make it happen.

So then like a week later, it’s a Saturday, and he messages me in the morning like “oh hey, I’ll be in Denver later today dropping off my daughter if you want to meet up and get pizza. Here’s my number [ ], text me.” To which I was like “oh, really? you’ll be in Denver? Which is what, 20 minutes from your house? You couldn’t make a special trip during another time to Denver? You’re travelling a whole 20 minutes to the city right next to yours and it would just be convenient to have a date while you’re at it? Also, who do you think I am not having plans on a Saturday night?

Of course, what I actually said was “Hey! I actually have plans tonight to go joint teach with the sister missionaries. Can we plan for a time during the week instead?” but I sounded much more bubbly because people are cringey when talking to people they’re tryna date.

So we planned for a time during the week. And I was happy, because I don’t like making decisions and the where was already decided. I only had one day open and luckily that worked for his schedule, and then just whenever we got off work would be a logical time.

And then, for some terribly frustrating reason, he had to go mess it all up by asking to switch locations. 😡

The First Date (3 Feb 2020)

Monday morning came and it was snowing. Sleeting, rather. And I was frustrated because, after talking for two days, we still hadn’t come up with a place to go for dinner. And I was in no mood to make a decision, especially after he had recommended that “we could just go to Sonic and get giant drinks” the day before. Which I wasn’t about to argue with, because 1) I didn’t know his financial situation and 2) it was at least a plan that I didn’t have to make!

He also just kept using this excuse that he didn’t know Colorado very well because he’d only been there a little less than a year and I had HAD IT. I was so anxious from talking about where to go that I was ready to give up on it completely. But I couldn’t, because cancelling plans made me even more anxious than going through with them. So finally, he was like “what if we go some place in [city]” and I was like “yeah lets look for something in south [city]! That would be so great!” and he was like “sounds good! how about [place that is in central [city], not south]” and I was like “that sounds great!” even though it really didn’t.

So I’m on my lunch break, crabby, complaining to my coworkers about how I have to go on this date tonight in the terrible weather with a guy who can’t make decisions, and they were clearly having a very pleasant time listening to me. So eventually I’m just like “ugh, whatever, I’ll just go get free dinner and then never have to deal with him again” and my coworker was like “is THAT what women DO?!” and I was like “well yeah of course women do that, but I’m kidding. I’m fully prepared to pay for my own food if he doesn’t.”

Anyway. Work is done, I get in my car to go to the restaurant, and on the way I very nearly crash. I have to swerve up onto the curb and slide into the snow covered bushes to avoid skidding and crashing into the car in front of me. But I make it there unscathed and have to wait for him for like 15 minutes. And when he finally arrives, he takes his hood off, brushes the snow off of him, sighs annoyingly, and then literally leans back, DOES THE QUEEN WAVE AT ME, and says “hullo.” Just like that. And I’m like “who is this dork” and then I’m like “well he’s definitely not too cool for me” and our date commences.

From the time we sat down, conversation flowed really naturally. We talked about my mattress shopping (I had just moved into a new apartment and had been sleeping on my roommates bean bag for the past week), we talked about family, about his gender studies major, about feminism, about mental health, about a white privilege workshop I had recently done with SURJ and his thoughts on the matter. We talked so effortlessly that I remember looking over at him and thinking “is he weird or am I overthinking this? No, he’s definitely weird. But why do I feel so comfortable with him?

My favorite tidbit of conversation from that night had to be when I was telling him about how I had overhydrated myself a month before and how it made me so sick. It was brought up because I drink a TON of water and he noticed after the waiter refilled my glass for like the seventh time. He mentioned that he needed to be more hydrated and then said “together, we are one perfectly hydrated person” and I was like “no, two perfectly hydrated people” and he was like “right! yeah, together we are one literally drowning person.”

Anyway. I won’t get into specifics of how he was weird, but he also had shoulder length hair at the time that just increased the weirdness factor for some reason. yknow?

So we shared some apple pie (which won him some points for ordering dessert), and he paid (nice), then he said the whole “I think it would be fun to do this again sometime.” And because of REFLEX, I just said “yeah, I’d be down” EVEN THOUGH I WAS NOT DOWN. But then he was talking about so-and-so friend he met on Mutual, and other friend he met on Mutual, so I relaxed a little thinking “ok, he sounds like he’s ok if Mutual meets are just friendships. Also, I just wont ask him out again so we probably wont go, and if he asks me, then I can just pay for myself so I don’t feel bad or like I’m using him.”

As we were walking out to our cars, we began to part ways and say goodbye when I realized he… hadn’t even hugged me. Or tried. And I was like “that’s weird.” So I was like “uhm. Shall we embrace?” with those exact words. And we did. And then I drove home.

Though I thought he was so weird at first, it was oddly comforting. Because from that point, and ever since, I have not felt even an ounce like I needed to impress him. His family and friends, sure, but never him. I have never felt like I wasn’t good enough for him in any way, which is generally a natural consequence of liking someone (for me, anyway). And that’s been something unique about this whole relationship.

After the date he texted and said: Home safe! Thanks again for meeting me tonight, in spite of the bad weather

Me (16 minutes later, which is not important except it is because it just goes to show how he relocated to a place closer to him 😡 and further from me) : Just got home myself 🙂 the weather wasn’t as bad as I expected so that was pleasant. Thanks so much for dinner!

Him: Welcome home! My pleasure, I had a good time. I’m not great with small talk so it was nice to get to touch on so many big ideas/topics with someone so passionate & clever 🙂

Me: Hey, back at ya 🙂

And then I asked him to text me the sources he talked about when we were discussing racism and white privilege. And then he did. And then I watched them at work the next day and continued to text him about them.

I guess you could say that from then on, we built a relationship off of caring about social issues. And I think that’s really cool.

(While we were reminiscing about our first date one year later, I said that the water drinking conversation was probably my favorite part. When I asked what his was, he said “when you said I could see you again.”)

**first date note: I had a friend tell me that this post didn’t make sense because I said I was really comfortable with him but then I said I was in mental agony when I agreed to go out again. The thing is, I did feel very comfortable with him, but I did NOT feel any ( a n y ) hint of romantic attraction. So agreeing to another date, to me, felt like leading him on when I was very much not seeing any sort of interest, present or future. At all.

***another note: I had a friend who I was texting about my pre-date anxiety and she straight up told me to cancel because if it was this hard now, it would only get harder. Lol. It’s funny because he is the most easy going person I have ever known and I can’t imagine how much different life would be if I cancelled on him.

the In Between texts (4 Feb – 8 feb 2020)

Like I said, the day after our first date, I texted him about the YouTube videos he recommended (Jane Elliot – everything but especially on Oprah) and we started talking a LOT. We texted pretty much all day every day. And I was like “oh man, if only I liked him he would be the perfect guy.” But I couldn’t stop thinking about how weird he was.

Day 1 of texting was like

Him: What type of things would be included in your “ideal day”?

Me: I have no idea, it’s highly dependent on too many factors. How would you describe yours?

Him: Good point… Ideal day of relaxing solo would probably involve food/game and not having to wear real pants for as long as possible. Ideal day with a partner would probably involve going out to a comedy show/concert/convention/etc and spending the day doing fun stuff together – followed by cuddles

OK PAUSE so we’ve had one date and now he’s texting me about not wanting to wear pants and also, cuddling. And like, no problem, pants are awful, live your truth, but… this guy lived his truth a little too loudly, yknow? Like maybe lowkey tell me you want to cuddle after the third date, not the first. Idk. Just my thoughts.

The next day we talked about politics (it was announced that Rush Limbaugh had cancer… I won’t go into the specifics of that conversation, though I’m sure if you know Curtis at all you’ll know his opinions on that. Also that was the day that Mitt Romney made a statement about doing the right thing even if it went against most of what his party thought). We also talked bout his D&D game and I felt immensely better when I asked if he was a LARPer (theater degree, rpg lover) and he said “Nah, I think that’s beyond my nerdy comfort level.”

The next day we talked about socks. And how we relax. I said I nap and he said he plays games. With himself (weird). Then we talked about haircuts, which naturally turned into a conversation about Stranger Things (If you don’t know why one topic lead to the other, we haven’t been FB friends long enough), and then he said he didn’t like rewatching things and I said that’s all I do. So fast forward a year and you can see how that could be an issue when it comes to watching things.

Friday rolled around and it was really snowy again, so much so that his work place didn’t make him come in. So I was bitter at him for that, and as recompense, he offered to bring me brownies. I didn’t even respond to that offer though, because saying yes meant I’d be leading him on and saying no would mean I would have to feel awkward rejecting him.

Friday was an interesting day, too, because my friends and I had planned a group date for that night and I refused to ask Curtis. I had been rejected by 5 different guys and still avoided asking him because he seemed too interested in me and I was super nervous to lead him on by saying “hey come meet all my friends!”. We ended up cancelling the group date, but a few of us still got together at a friend’s house and watched some movies til super late. And the whole time, I kept texting him. Because heck if he wasn’t a lot of fun to talk to.

He mentioned something about existential dread, so I sent him a relevant meme and said that “memes are my love language.” He then took the opportunity to ask about my love languages, and I said that serenades were my #1 (then I said jk, quality time is my jam). He then thought the moment was right to bring up that cuddling is his number one love language. And he specified “nonsexual cuddling,” which — ????????? I guess I didn’t know there was a difference? Also did I mention that we’d only been on one (1) date??? So I took that opportunity to bring up that 1) I scored lowest for physical touch on the love languages test and 2) I’m asexual. He was super cool about it and asked non cringe questions (BIG deal) and was capable of having a mature conversation about it 😊

Looking back through it, my favorite bit from that conversation was

Him: Like I may not wanna bang Jason Momoa, but he is an impressive looking human being

Me: Hahahahhahahahahaha yeah see I don’t even think I’ve given him more than a half second glance

Him: I guess that tracks lol

Me: I think too many muscles is scary haha. Not to body shame anyone, bodies are incredible and we should recognize them as such, but as far as sensually attractive, muscles aint it for me tbh

Him: Good news for me I suppose

After chatting about that and a few other random things over the weekend, Sunday came around. And instead of asking me out like he CLEARLY wanted to, he basically asked me to do it.  

Giving him a second chance (9 feb 2020)

So it’s Sunday, and that morning we kind of talk about what time our wards start and how church is and whatever. Then I’m at a church linger longer type function and he asks if I have any plans for the night. And I said I didn’t think so and asked if he did. And he was like “just taking Robin back to Littleton in an hour or so but nothing else.” (You know, like the first time when he was like “oh, I’ll be in the Denver area” as if he doesn’t live in the Denver area.)

So I didn’t respond because, eh, it’s Sunday and I don’t want to plan something on short notice and I don’t wanna go to him but I’m not sure if I want him at my place and I’m still kinda trying to not lead him on. You know the inner monologue. At this point, you’re probably like “dude, be nice and respond instead of ignoring him, you rude person.” And you make a great point. But I was younger and dumber back then.

So an hour later he texts again and he’s like

“Any particular day this week you’d be interested in getting together?”

Me: Just say when. Not tomorrow though because it’s supposed to snow again.

Him: I imagine tonight is way too short notice lol.

Me: did you already take Robin back?

Him: I just did, so I’m still near Denver if that’s what you’re asking

Missed Call from him

Voicemail from him

(I was nervous to listen to the message because I was afraid his voice would sound weird but he surprisingly sounded normal so I was like *shrug* ok, and called him back.)

Our first phone call was him telling me he was basically out of north Denver and me telling him he could come all the way back to south Denver to hang at my place and we could play some games and just talk if he wanted. And he wanted. So I texted him my address and he drove 20 minutes back down south to me. So maybe he was a little into me, idk.  

He showed up and, because he had gotten a haircut that week, he looked like an entirely different person. My roommate had a ton of games and the only two person game I was very familiar with was speed, so I suggested we play speed. As I was dealing, I explained that when I was in therapy as a child, my therapist and I would always play speed. And he said something along the lines of “oh, so this is the game that makes you *talk*” and I thought that was pretty funny.

But we actually did talk a lot that night. What I loved about date number 2 was that we basically laid out all of the “deal breakers” that we each had and then talked about them. There was no trying to hide anything, there was no topic off limits, there was no defensiveness about the other’s curiosity. It was just “hey, this is who I am.” And I really loved that.

He answered my invasive questions about his divorce and, even though he didn’t ask, I definitely opened up about my mental issues. Something I remember respecting him for was the fact that when he talked about his past, he never spoke negatively of the people who may have hurt him. He spoke with compassion and neutrality regarding life events that lead him to where he was, and I was actually pretty impressed by that.

We played Pictionary and Love Letter, but mostly just hung out on my living room floor, talking about whatever. None of it felt uncomfortable or unnatural. When he was leaving, I thought “wow, was he really even that weird on our first date, or did I make it all up in my head?”

Third time’s not the charm lol (12 Feb 2020)

When I showed up for our date that Wednesday, I was like “nope. Didn’t make it up in my head. He is definitely as weird as I thought he was the first time.” But we’ll get there in a second.

After Sunday, I decided that I actually was interested. Going out with him wasn’t “leading him on” anymore, because he just… was a cool guy who I connected with and was interested in dating. So I decided that I was going to flirt over text to indicate that. Reader: he didn’t flirt back. He just said things like “golly shucks” with a cheesy emoji and left it at that.

Now, you might be wondering “how did you flirt, Tyf?”

And let me stop you right there. Do I regularly embarrass him by posting verbatim text messages from our early days? Yes. Am I going to embarrass myself like that? Hah. No. This is my blog and I make the rules. (also, the boy doesn’t get embarrassed. Also I let him read everything I post before I post it to get feedback and make sure he’s cool with it. Also, if he wants to do the work to get on here and write about his memories and dig up old texts and try to embarrass me, I guess I would let him.)

Anyway, the next couple days were fun. We texted about this funny WWDTM podcast episode, he revealed that he still listens to the radio, I finally added him as a contact in my phone (I had a two date rule before adding contact names to numbers of boys from dating apps). He told me he was bad at naps, I said I hope that never happens to me, we talked about music, and work, and a charity that he impulse donated $50 to. (I actually cried when he told me that because I was overwhelmed with WOW WHAT A GOOD DUDE). We talked about his dissertation and I asked if I could read it. He said yes. It’s been over a year now and he still hasn’t sent it to me to read. (I just brought this up to him and he was like “You haven’t read it? oh yeah! I was going to add something to it before I sent it to you!” and then walked away so I bet he is amending it as I type. Nope, I just got the notification that he sent it to me. Nice.)

Then he asked if I’d seen JoJo Rabbit. I said I had not, and he said “If the opportunity arises, I would be 117% down to go see it again.” If the opportunity arises? Like at this point, boy, create the opportunity.

He invited me to go that weekend, but I said “hey, what if instead we went tomorrow?” And I offered a whole plan. And after we had arranged all the details about dinner beforehand (he invited me over to his place for French toast) he said

“I am just now, at 1:06pm on the 11th, realizing that Friday is Valentine’s Day… I promise I wasn’t trying to coordinate some kind of holiday-connected movie night”

Me: Hahahahaha I’m dead. I didn’t suspect you of any foul play of the sort lol. I also wouldn’t mind if you were, I just kinda… didn’t wanna wait that long to see you again??

Him: Consider me very flattered 😊

There, are you happy? That was me flirting. And that was him … making me question which century he was from.

The next day, he changed our date plans again. But it was OK because he already had a backup. I couldn’t come to his place for dinner because his roommate was sick, so we decided to go to Costco to get pizza instead. #winning

He also asked which types of cookies I liked and then after I wrote a big ol text about how I don’t discriminate when it comes to cookies (why am I like this), he goes “follow up: is sugar or chocolate chip? Because that’s what I can get lol” and he snagged some from the break room for me and brought them for us.

Before the date, I told my roommate “if he doesn’t hold my hand tonight, he is dead to me.” Something to keep in mind.

I arrived at Costco to find him waiting by the exit doors. He looked like a child in his knit cap. We got pizza and sat down and, well, he was weird. I don’t know if it just got worse in public or what, but he mentioned that chewing on ice is a sign of sexual tension (which he told me while he was chewing on

ice) (admittedly, he was telling an anecdote of when somebody told him that and he thought it was weird, but I’m just saying it was a weird thing to bring up) (I’ve since learned that he isn’t creepy, he just says his thoughts out loud) and then he started explaining how speech impediments are poorly named and then I think he told me a dirty joke. And I told him he should only tell me jokes that he would feel comfortable telling his daughter. And he said “that would be hard, considering her idea of a joke right now is ‘knock knock’ ‘who’s there?’ ‘toot.’” And then we talked about biggest relationship mistakes which is when I learned more about his spicy past. And then we went to the movie. And we drove separately, which like, makes sense logistically, but like… I feel like it could have been cuter if we drove together.

We got to the theater, we sat down, we settled in and our arms just rested against each other. Just our arms touching felt (for me) like this electricity. I held out my hand for the majority of the movie, pretty obviously wanting him to hold it, and he didn’t. And my hand was cold. At one point, I almost whispered in his ear “am I going to have to hold my own hand?” but I didn’t. I just built up annoyance at him the whole time instead of actually watching the movie.

After the movie was over. I wanted to sit in the theater and talk some more because I knew that once we left, we’d get into our own cars and drive away. Instead, he immediately stood up and was like “let’s go!”. And we walked out to the parking lot, he didn’t give me a end-of-date hug, and I left feeling like “…wat.”

And I went home to tell my roommate he was dead to me.

After I got home and we texted to say we got home safe after driving in the snow, I decided to be bold. Because after the year I’d had trying to interpret confusing signals from a different dude, I was in NO mood to repeat that. So I was like “hey, question. Are you interested? Or are we just hanging out? I recognize this was only our third time together and everything so I’m not looking for a “dtr” at this point, but I’m just wondering where you’re leaning because I don’t have the emotional bandwidth to try and figure it out myself” (paraphrasing there toward the end) and he said:

“I thoroughly appreciate the up-frontitude” dear heavens, what the heck? Who says that? “I’m interested but also not wanting to rush anything… Also, fwiw, as soon as I got in my car and started pulling away I was like ‘didn’t even hug her, you idiot.’ To be more specific: I think we get along very well and I’m incredibly comfortable talking to you about Big Things. You’re incredibly clever, I like that we make each other laugh, and I think we have a lot in common in terms of how we try to see the world around us (plus you have very lovely eyes which isn’t like… The most important thing about a person but still nice.)

I then went on to ask him about what “rushing things” would look like, and this fool decided to tell me that I was responsible for “tak[ing] the lead on how/when/if things progress. Not that I’m uninterested, just wanting to keep your comfort level in mind.”

And then I realized… I really had shut down all of his physical touch talk. So then I was like “look, I’m comfortable with you, you can hold my hand” and he was like “if it got to that point, I’d ask before doing anything” and I was like this is exhausting why are you like this. (consent is cool, kids, but wow dating is stress.) I did mention that I thought being asked before a kiss would be weird, and he said “anyone who makes it weird isn’t doing it right” and I was like ???? You are “weird” PERSONIFIED, there’s no way you, of all people, wouldn’t make it weird.

Anyway, we wrapped up that conversation and called it a night. The next morning, he texted to check in and I was having a rough morning at work. He said it was his night with his daughter so he could swing by afterwards if I wanted to talk, but I knew I’d be up too late if he came over, so I suggested we do a different night. Then he asked if he could hang out with me and my friends that weekend, and I was like … “ehhhhhh… I don’t want to blend my worlds yet.” I wasn’t ashamed of him, per se, I just didn’t know how I felt about him, and I wanted to figure that out before I started integrating him into my world.

So instead, I invited him over to my place on Friday, Valentine’s Day, said we should make dinner and told him to bring the movie that he was watching when he knew he was going to get a divorce. I wanted to see the movie anyway, it was a romcom, and he had brought up that he owned it on date #2 and would watch it with me sometime. The fact that it happened to be the film he associates with his divorce is unfortunate, but I am devoid of compassion and didn’t really realize that maybe V-day wasn’t the right day for that particular movie.

The first kiss (14 feb 2020)

He came over to my house and immediately asked to hug me to make up for the fact that he didn’t hug me after our last date. Then we made baked mac and cheese together and ate it while chatting about church stuff.

When it finally came time to start the movie, I sat next to him on my couch, slipped my arm under his and grabbed his hand. Very smoothly. We cuddled the whole movie and didn’t stop even after it was over. We sat on my couch taking turns asking each other questions until nearly 3am. I got up to use the bathroom and when I got back, he said “I know I asked the last question, but I thought of another one.” I told him he could go again, so he goes “can I kiss you?”

Reader: I was uncomfortable. Not because I didn’t want him to kiss me, but because there just wasn’t a good option. If I said yes, then we would just… kiss. Like that would be so weird to be like “ok, yes, now let’s kiss.” I don’t know how to convey what I’m trying to express, but it’s just so like, “ok I guess we’re kissing now” and I just like the mystery, ok? So while I’m glad he made sure I was ok with it, I was also not interested in immediately shifting gears to kissing mode. You know what I’m saying?

But I couldn’t say no, because ouch. So I was like “yes but not right now.” So then we just kept talking and cuddling like before. I asked him when his birthday was and he said July 6th.

Me: “That’s the day my brother died”

Him: “I’m sorry”

Me: “Well, it’s your fault.”

Him: “Oh so that’s why you said no…”

Me: “I didn’t say no, I said not right NOW”

Then we laughed. And a little while later, I was telling him what I liked about him when I leaned over and went for the kiss. It was a little messy in execution for a first kiss, but it was 3am. And a first kiss quickly turned to a second, and, well, we spent the next chunk of time kissing, talking, laughing, and getting all butterfly-y. I wont tell you what time it was when he finally went home, but that was the first Valentine’s Day where it truly WAS a HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY TO ME.

I still felt like he was a little weird, and having something work out so smoothly, so quickly was very unusual to me. But it was nice.

16 Feb 2020 (Date Number 5) 

I texted him the next day, just chattin about stuff, when I remembered that I forgot to send him home with leftover mac and cheese! (you can tell at this point that I was a simp, because I should have just kept it all because it was delicious) But I felt like it was a good excuse to see him again. And I was right. 

So we arranged for me to come to his place after all my obligatory Sunday gatherings and it was funny because I guess I wasn’t ~clear~ that, when I said I wanted to drop by, that I meant I also wanted to stay a while. So he’s like 

“hey wanna watch a thing or something?” 

Me: “I mean I definitely wanna stick around for a bit” 

Him: “ok just didn’t want to assume” 
Me: How many times do I have to tell you that I enjoy spending time with you until you believe me?

Him: Probably just a couple more lol 

Me: Alright, I’ll keep that in mind. But just for the record… I really enjoy spending time with you 😊

Him: Thanks 😊 self-deprecation is a longtime habit. Maybe that’ll come up in today’s episode of Unpacking Baggage Together

Me: Can’t wait 😊

I suppose I didn’t need to give you that entire conversation but I thought it was really cute that he referred to our dates as like a TV show where we just take out little pieces of trauma from our little suitcases and do a little fashion show with them. Oh! And I forgot to mention, it was cute because on our second date, he was talking about having a lot of baggage and I brought up RENT and how at this point in dating it’s really just “looking for baggage that goes with mine” and I didn’t even finish quoting it without him jumping in and saying it with me.

Anyway, it was getting time for me to head over, so I just texted him to give him a heads up that I was on my way. 

Me: Ok leaving now so GPS says 21 minutes, shorter if I speed, longer if your complex is confusing

Him: It’s pretty straightforward. It’s right off the street and you can park anywhere. I’m building G. 

Me (26 minutes later): It seems I do not know my alphabet. 

All at once, my ABCs came back to me and I found his apartment. It was then that I realized… Curtis did not live in an apartment. He lived in his room. All of his stuff? In his room. He just didn’t leave his room. So we went in his room and I suggested we play a board game. Because every surface in his room was overflowing with board games. 

We decided on Bears Versus Babies and it was weird. At this point, the weird should have been expected, but.. yknow. Whatever. We may have played another game or two, but I can’t remember. Then I broke out my phone and mentioned that I had brainstormed (Googled) a lot more questions for intellectually stimulating conversation, so we snuggled up and talked, kissed some more. I wish I could remember more from what we talked about – I know I used to have a note with all the questions I brainstormed. But I deleted the questions as we went, and I think I also deleted the note. 

19 FEB 2020 – The Accidental I Love You 

At this point, I kind of had his schedule down. He played D&D on Tuesdays and Fridays, had his daughter on Thursdays, and so that left Wednesdays and every other Saturday as date nights. Mondays, too, I guess, but who does Monday date nights?? (us. Sometimes.) 

So Tuesday rolls around and he asks if I have plans Wednesday night (which, no, I don’t, because I know Wednesdays are his free nights and I want to see him.) So by this time, I have downloaded the Eventbrite app to know about all the things happening so that I have stellar ideas for dates (highly recommend, by the way.) and on Wednesday night, there are a few free comedy nights at local bars. One of those bars was – wait for it – RIGHT NEXT TO FAT SULLY’S (the pizza place we were supposed to go on our first date). So we planned for it. 

The next night, we met at Fat Sully’s (in the snow, because, at this point, why would we break the streak and plan a date for a night that it’s not snowing?)  and we get some pizza. It was fun, he makes jokes with the waiter, and we eventually head over to the comedy night.

While waiting for the comedy night to start, Curtis looked at me and said “hey” and I said “hey” back, and then he kissed me. Our first public kiss. It was kinda cute, I may have been a little bit blushy, the world may never know. But anyway, the comedy night was absolutely hilarious and I was super impressed at the quality given that it was a free show. 

Afterward, we sat in his car and talked a bit. I was kinda nervous because I felt like I should bring up setting/recalibrating boundaries, but I didn’t want him to get defensive or lose interest (there were no signs that he would get that way, but I just, yknow.) The night was going really well and so I brought it up and we talked and it went swimmingly. He was incredibly respectful and I was really impressed with how sincerely he wanted to  make sure that I was comfortable. 

A while later, we were kissing, laughing, talking, (you know, the whole thing) when he asked if something was ok with me (I forget what?) and I responded “yeah I think so,” and he immediately stopped and replied “ok, well until you know so.” I kinda made a comment like “omg you’re so good” or something and he just said “well, it’s your body, you get to decide what happens to it.” 

What was happening was like a *kiss* I say something *kiss* he says something, and so on and so forth. So he had just said the “you get to decide what happens to it” thing and we kissed and then I just went “this is why I love you.” And before I could process what I just SAID, we went in to kiss again. And he LAUGHED during it. And I pulled back like “oh no, that was premature, I take it back.” And luckily he understood. 

As I type this, I just want to say, YES I realize the bar is on the floor. YES I realize it’s a basic standard to want someone to respect your boundaries. But it is sadly not the norm and so I was impressed nonetheless! And I will not apologize for that. 

We wrapped up our chat and I got in my car to go home. 

He texts me maybe ten minutes later that he’s home safe. 

Me (17 minutes later, not that it matters): “You made it home real fast and that’s pretty unfair.” 

Him: I didn’t realize it was so close to where I live. 

Related: Remember how that was supposed to be the place we went to on our first date??? And he wanted to move it “closer”?? Anyway. 

22 Feb 2020 – Friends Who Kiss (meeting Robin) 

So back on Valentine’s Day, we were talking about boundaries in our lives, remember? And I told him I didn’t want to invite him to hang out with me and my friends because I wasn’t ready to blend my worlds. And he told me that he understood and that for him, his daughter was a similar boundary. So imagine my surprise when one week after that conversation, he invited me to have dinner with him and his 3 year old. 

I wish I could share details of that night and meeting her for the first time, because looking back it’s kinda funny, but it feels wrong to publish publicly.

 What I can say is that we made French toast together, ate on the floor of his bedroom (men, what can you do), and then watched Scooby Doo. I will also say that seeing him be a dad was a really sweet experience. To see how he handled problems and conversation with her was actually really wholesome and while it may have been easy to put on a show for that night, he has been that way every time I’ve seen him with her since.

After bedtime, Curtis and I sat on his couch and just talked. I told him about growing up with divorced parents and the things about it that were hard, and how seeing Robin just kind of reminded me about those things. It was kinda neat opening up about that, because it’s not really something that comes up very often. 

Then I asked the question. You know the one. He had just invited me to meet his kid so I had to know if he was planning on me sticking around. And he wasn’t very good at that conversation. I asked if he was talking to other girls, and he was. I asked what he thought we were and he said “we’re just friends who kiss.” My immediate reaction to that was thinking “if you ever refer to us that way again, we will not be friends and we will not kiss.” He was really wishwashy, and I was really confused, because a boundary he established was also one he decided to break and THEN he referred to me as his friend. 

Generally, though, I was okay with it, because I wasn’t quite sure that I was ready to commit to a relationship either. 

26 Feb 2020 -Quell Anxiety 

After a few days of texting, we decided to hang out. But instead of making a plan, it was like “hey let’s do a thing tomorrow!” So when the day came to “do a thing,” we had plans to make. And you know how I get when there’s no plans. *stress intensifies*

So I throw out a few ideas. There’s a concert from our emo days going on downtown, there’s Denver restaurant week (basically just a week where a bunch of restaurants offer special menus at set prices for three course meals), and there’s just a lowkey hang option. And then after I narrowed it down to three options, he had the AUDACITY to say “I’m far too indecisive with so many fantastic options.” 

Bruh. 

So he chose restaurant week and we did some research about where we could go and still be able to have a reservation for that night. 

He then suggested a place in a city 30 minutes north of my work (50 minutes north of my home). And I *did* say that location didn’t really matter to me, but that’s because I thought it was DENVER restaurant week. In DENVER. So I had to veto the option. 

Then he suggested one that was pretty pricey that didn’t sound good to me. And since I have major frugality problems and said we’d go Dutch, I have a major fear of spending money on food that doesn’t taste good. 

So I felt bad because I made him make a decision and then I kept saying no to all his suggestions. And then I got really anxious and panicky and wanted to just cancel and disappear forever because making plans is hard. So I explained all that and said I felt terrible and tried to work with him to find a place, but instead he decided to be a champ. 

“how about this: let’s chill with pizza tonight and then we can plan for the fancier dinner this weekend.” 

Me: ARE YOU SURE?!

Him: 4012%

And then he asked how long it would take me to get to his house and left work early so he could get pizza and meet me there by the time I arrived <3. 

We briefly talked about me getting anxious about making plans (and he was incredibly understanding) and then we ate pizza and watched Firefly, one of his favorite shows. Then, we went through all the options for restaurant week and picked one together and made a reservation for Friday night. 

27 Feb 2020 – The Day I Realized That He Is Useless Mechanically 

Not much happened today, but we were texting. And I admitted to him that my name is legally spelt the standard way but because of teenage angst I changed it and liked it so much I kept it. Then he quoted Harry Potter Puppet Pals. 

And then he said he had a flat tire and he was waiting for a tow truck to come take him to an auto shop. And I was like ??? Dude you don’t need a tow, don’t you have a spare? And he said “I do have a spare but I’d still need to get it replaced & I’d rather save it for if I need it more desperately than in the parking lot for work.” 

At this point, I wasn’t sure if he had ever used a spare? Because you can… use it more than once? So I asked if he had ever changed a tire and he said yes but it had been a while and he tried to change the subject for the 10th time, but I wouldn’t let it go. And I was worried that one day I might take home a man who didn’t know how to put on a spare tire and introduce him to my dad. 

Since then, he’s had a problem with a flat tire again. I think I need to teach him how to change a tire. 

28 Feb 2020 – Carmine’s on Penn 

Our reservation was at 5 and he worked longer hours all week so that he could dip early again and meet me. The restaurant we chose was an Italian one and I felt fancy. I also got all dolled up and he did not even tell me I was pretty. Ugh men.

When we got the to go box, I set it aside and told him not to let me forget about it. He took a crayon and wrote “don’t you forget about me” on the top.

After dinner, we went to a place called Board Game Republic (that the pandemic has since put out of business, rip) with my roommate and her date. I don’t remember what we played, but we had a swell time hanging out together. 

Curtis and I then met back at my place. On the way, my friend called and was talking to me and I was still on the phone with her when we got back to my place, and instead of just waiting til I was off the phone, Curtis joined in the chat and was just generally hilarious and conversational and engaging. This was probably the first time that I had introduced him to my friends in a social setting and he was so good at making a good impression and interacting with them and it made me a lot more comfortable integrating him into my world. I had told all these people that I thought he was a super weirdie and apparently they didn’t see it. And that made me feel heaps better. 

I let him do his laundry (because his complex’s facilities weren’t great and he hadn’t found a laundromat) and while he was doing that, we sat on my roommate’s giant bean bag and watched Miss Americana. Yes, I made him watch the Taylor Swift documentary. And he liked it. 

29 Feb 2020 – First Time Beautiful 

Curtis had not been stingy with compliments, but we had been dating nearly four weeks and he hadn’t yet told me that he thought I was pretty. He had said that my hair looked good on me, he had complimented my mind and my heart, but he hadn’t complimented the way I looked. And while I think the other things are much, much more valuable and important, I still wanted to know that the guy I was into like the way I looked. I didn’t say anything about that to him, but it was just something on my mind. 

So the morning of leap day, 2020, right after I woke up, was when he decided to tell me that I was beautiful. And I just think that’s cute. It wasn’t when I put on makeup for a night out, it wasn’t when I was wearing my cute outfit or jewelry, it was simply when I rolled out of bed.

I only saw him briefly that day but I texted him later to recap what a wonderful time I had on Friday night and about all the things he did that I was thankful for. The text was over two screenshots worth of words. I then texted him a picture of the top of the take out box and asked “how cheesy would it be if I scrapbooked this?” (I still have it, by the way.)

He texted back an hour later and said “Robin is so cute and I’m so proud of her.” 

I would like someone to go back in time and slap me for continuing to like a man who didn’t even say “HEY I HAD A GREAT TIME TOO” back, even if it was halfhearted. 

But also he has learned and grown and I’m happy I was delusional back then. 

1 March 2020 – left depressed bc he didn’t want to commit to me 

On Sunday night, I typically had dinner with my family, but for some reason we didn’t do it today. So I texted him that and asked if he had a better offer and he invited me over, so I went. After I took a fat Sunday nap. 

I honestly don’t remember a lot from what happened on this date and I’m gathering all I can remember through texts with my two closest friends at the time. 

But basically I felt like we were doing all the relationship-y things. We were going on double dates and staying out late together and planning all these future things we needed to do together, talking to my friends, meeting his child, texting every day, having deep and personal conversations. Yet his profile was still active on Mutual. And I guess you could say that so was mine because how would I know that his was if mine wasn’t, but he was actively updating his with new pictures and edited bios. 

When I went over, I guess I asked what the hold up was and why he was acting exclusive with me but without the title. Because I was nervous that I was getting attached and he was just having a good time. He was confusing yet insistent that he wasn’t ready to be in a relationship and I didn’t know what to do about that. 

What I told my friend was “He’s saying he feels like we need to know each other better in like different situations and also he’s like unsure if he’s properly processed all his past relationship stuff. So I’m just confused because I’m like “look, I’m at the point right now that I can either walk away a little bummed but ultimately fine, or I can start being invested, so like I don’t wanna choose to be invested if you’re not on that same page.” And he said he’s like interested in continuing the trajectory we’re on and he likes me and blab la bla but he’s just not ready to “jump in with both feet” which I guess means “be exclusive.” I don’t get it but I’m trying to understand like maybe he’s just apprehensive. He made some comment about not feeling good enough for me but idk what that’s about.”

Anyway. We had a whole conversation where I was trying to say that literally nothing would change if we put a label on it and it would probably make me feel like we were at least both heading in the same direction. But he just kept saying things like “I’m not ready to be vulnerable” even though he… already was? 

So after that fruitless conversation, I felt sad and a little rejected. Then I went home, ate an entire sleeve of Oreos, and went to bed. 

4 March 2020 Little Women & Taco Bell

I guess I came out of my crankiness a little over the next few days and on Wednesday, we were ready to hang out again. I was going to Utah that weekend and he was gonna have a “packed” week (probably doing nerd stuff) so Wednesday was the only day we could swing it. 

He asked if I had anything in mind (and of course I did, because not having something planned makes me anxious) So I remembered how he hadn’t seen Little Women yet. And I was a big fan of Little Women. So I asked him if he wanted to go see it (it was in the discount theater) and we could sneak in snacks and Taco Bell.

He came to my house to pick me up like it was a real date! Mostly because the theater was a mile away and it worked out for the first time. I told him I knew how to get there and he still put it in the GPS. And I got really annoyed at that, actually, and was salty with him for the entire 5 minute drive.

 We did not end up sneaking in Taco Bell, but I did get us some snacks. And then I cried the whole movie. Because that’s what I do. And he held me while I cried. It was sweet.

Afterwards, we went to Taco Bell and then came back to my place to eat it. And he talked about his mission for like 20 minutes and didn’t ask me a single question for those whole 20 minutes. And I was especially annoyed at that. 

Then he left and I remember talking to my friend about how I was annoyed at the GPS thing and the him talking forever thing and she told me I was finding any excuse to be annoyed with him. And she was right. But I was still annoyed with him. 

March 8 – Thin Mints 

We hadn’t seen each other since Wednesday (a whole four days) so naturally I had to invite him over after he dropped off kiddo. We talked and ate ice cream and he brought thin mints and we cuddled and I had him tell me all about his D&D character and group. He also said that he’d been “waiting for the other shoe to drop” in our little fling but he didn’t think it was going to. We stayed up way too late in regular curtyf fashion.

And I ended that night being “super into him again” according to my text to my friend. 

I sent him home with some chocolate kisses and breakfast for the next morning, and he texted me after he got home he texted me to say “You are, hands down (pause for Dashboard Confessional reference), one of the most thoughtful people I’ve ever met.”

Note: Hands Down by Dashboard Confessional would end up becoming our song 😊 

11 March – Deleting Mutual  

It was Wednesday, which is one of his only free nights, and instead of planning a date with me, he decided to feed the missionaries. So instead of feeling sad and rejected, I planned to hang out with my roommate. And after I made plans, he decided to invite me over for dinner. And I’m proud to report that I did not bail on my plans with my roommate to accommodate a MAN’s poor timing. 

But we were texting and I decided I missed him and his cute face (see below for a pic he sent me of his face and his shirt that he’s so proud of) so I planned on going over to his house after I got home from going out to dinner with my roommate (even though it was getting pretty late. The amount of sleep I gave up for this boy is astounding. Modern me could never).

So I got to his place, and again I decided to bring up the nature of our relationship. Up to this point, I had expressed that I didn’t want to say things like “well I don’t want to kiss you unless we’re exclusive” because I didn’t want to feel like I was manipulating him into a relationship, but I was genuinely starting to feel really untethered and uncomfy. And looking back, I understand that he wasn’t trying to be dodgy or noncommittal, he was just not expecting to find something so soon, and was still dealing with residual relationship issues that I could have been more patient with. But also, we were acting like a couple already. So maybe we both had merit in the ways we were feeling, and I guess I can see it from both sides. 

But that night, I told him about how I had noticed that he kept on updating his Mutual (dating app) profile/photos and said that it seemed like he was still actively trying to date because otherwise he probably wouldn’t be so active. I then asked him how he would feel if I went on dates with other people and if it would matter to him. 

While I was sitting on his bedroom floor telling him about how I didn’t feel like either of us were going to walk away any time soon, I asked him how much more time he would need before he knew if he was ready to be exclusive. He got out his phone, went to the Mutual app, and uninstalled it. Just like that. He said he just needed that conversation and to know that I wasn’t planning on walking away, and that none of his baggage was baggage that couldn’t be unpacked together. 

It was ultimately the perfect reason for losing sleep.

No Good Deed…

A few weeks ago, we were waiting outside a Little Caesars for our pizza to be ready when Curtis and I were approached by a homeless man.

(And of course, the bundles we had just made were at my place instead of in our cars 🤦‍♀️ )

He asked if we had any money, but we didn’t have any cash on us. I gave him the 41 cents in my wallet and we told him to wait with us for our pizza so we could give him some.

He was cold and asked if we had a blanket, and Curtis gave him one out of his car. When our order was finally ready, we gave him a piece of pizza, bought him some crazy bread, and then I went back to buy him some water to make sure he was hydrated.

The water was TWO DOLLARS AND NINETEEN CENTS. That’s more than a two liter of name brand soda from the grocery store! And this was just one little bottle! I was so annoyed! But I put my penny pincher mind on pause because this wasn’t about me. I took the water out to him, but since we had given him so much stuff (pizza slice, blanket, bread, water bottle) he couldn’t carry it all and was using the trash can lid to balance everything when… the water bottle fell in the trash can!!!!

For reference, the trashcan looked like:

photo courtesy of the Google images

The man told me to forget about it, but that bottle was $2.19! I wasn’t letting that go to the trash! So I piled everything in Curtis’s arms to hold while I tipped over the trash can to go trash crawling for the water bottle. Of course, as I did that, I looked down and my loose glasses, aided by the fabric from my mask, slid off my face and onto the ground. As I stepped back to look for them, trash can still in hand, I stepped on my glasses. And they broke in three pieces. Then Curtis showed me that I could’ve just… taken the lid off the trashcan instead of immediately becoming a rabid racoon.

nice eh?

I told the story to my roommate when I got back to my apartment and she laughed and said “no good deed goes unpunished.” I figured that was a pretty fitting moral of the story.

I’m learning that if you really want to help people, it’s going to be inconvenient. You’re going to have to be a little selfless sometimes and part with things that you don’t want to lose, like the spare blanket you keep in your car, or a piece of the hot and READY pizza that took 20 minutes for the staff to make, or TWO WHOLE DOLLARS and nineteen cents. It’s sometimes going to come at the cost of your pride, as you learn that the ways you help maybe aren’t best for the needs of those you’re helping. It’s going to come at the cost of knowing that you will never be able to do enough to help everyone who needs it. But, in my experience, it will also come with the feeling that it’s a worthwhile fight.

I think Elphaba had some merit when she said that no good deed goes unpunished, but I don’t think I share the same bitterness about the sentiment. The superglued glasses that I now wear daily help me see “good deeds” in a different way. It’s no longer about warm fuzzies that happen after I give someone something — it’s about the way my heart breaks for people who can’t catch a break. And how it’s not “nice” of me to give what I can, it’s literally my responsibility as a neighbor, a friend, and a Christian. And responsibilities are not always easy. Or fun. Or convenient. Or rewarded.

Maybe not all good deeds go unpunished… but I’m willing to take the risk.

The Heckin Vision

I was sitting in church a few months ago and there was this man speaking on some topic (honestly, I have no idea what his topic was) and he mentioned how if we want to help people, we have to be prepared to help people. Not some “stay in tune with the spirit and listen to it guide you” type of vague advice that we hear all the time (I get it, it’s true, it’s just not very concrete) but actual, tangible guidance.

He mentioned how he always keeps water bottles and granola bars in his car and some ones in his wallet in case he comes across someone who needs money/food/water. It was the simplest concept but it was revelatory for me.

How often do we come to a stoplight downtown or at an exit where there is someone on the corner, often homeless, asking for something? And instead of offering help, we avoid making eye contact while anxiously waiting for the light to turn green so we can drive away? It’s usually not because we don’t want to help, but because we aren’t even able to help. In today’s world, nobody really carries cash and all we have in our cars is trash and maybe a half empty pack of tictacs, and so we just feel a momentary twang of guilt and then drive off, thinking, “I would have helped if I could.”

My office is downtown, I go to church downtown, and my therapist’s office is downtown, so this scenario happens to me often. And somehow it didn’t naturally occur to me to prepare for those encounters by always having something on hand so I’m able to help. I know there are so many stigmas surrounding homelessness and panhandling, much of which we will get into later, but I feel like we can all agree that people deserve to eat and hydrate, whether or not they can afford it.

I’m both shocked and ashamed I’ve never thought of it this way, but we will have so many more opportunities to help people if we:

  1. actually want to help people and
  2. have information and guidance on how to do so (like concrete, tangible, everyday ways)

I believe that most of us want to help, we just don’t know how. We don’t always have the money to donate to worthy causes, and if we do have some excess money, we don’t know which charities are the most deserving of them. We don’t always have the time to volunteer and, if we do, we don’t know which places need help. Our hearts are in the right places, but we ourselves are not until we get educated. So it is my goal to rectify this as much as I can.

I want to create a space where people can come together and discuss everyday ways to actually make the world a better place. There’s too much posting on social media and not enough taking action and I truly believe the reason is because the people posting don’t know what the next step is. Raising awareness is so incredibly important and I don’t mean to undermine the good it does, but then we also have to act. With this platform, I plan to

  1. create a collaborative space where we can have conversations to share how we already/plan to help underprivileged people in our communities (this space will mainly be @theheckfest account on Instagram)
  2. research local, national, and global charities to examine how they operate/distribute their funds in order to give donors perspective and feel more comfortable knowing how their money will be used
  3. spread awareness and discuss causes that might not deal with people directly but that we can still address
  4. learn, grow, build each other up with positivity and humor, and empower people to feel like their efforts can make a difference

Also I’m never going to stop talking about mental illness so just… expect that.

This past year I’ve learned a lot of eye -pening information regarding donating to charities and other nonprofit organizations. I feel like I am less inclined to want to give now because I don’t want the money that I’m trying to give to people in need going to CEOs or tax breaks for big companies instead. I recognize that people who give their lives to running charities deserve to get paid, too, but it feels unsettling and I haven’t done the research yet to find out what I’m comfortable with. I also feel like, even though I believe in paying tithing and offerings to my church, the good it does doesn’t always reach the places I want it to, and therefore, it’s not enough for me to pay my tithing and have that count as my financial contribution to the world (more on that later). I want to include more people in the researching and sharing of information on how we can do better and do more.

I have a crazy vision that eventually every urban area can have a heckfest hustle where people keep items in their car, prepared to hand them out to those in need. Where people who live in suburban areas and have less homeless interactions but want to help can donate to their nearest (or preferred) urban hustle and 100% of any donation will go directly to whatever they choose (dollar bills, blankets, gloves, food, water, et cetera). Where everyone who helps does so without any desire for compensation because the effort is so minimal and the execution, so simple. I know that maybe it’s too lofty of a vision and that maybe it’ll never happen. But it’s something that wont let me sleep until I do something about it and it’s something that definitely won’t ever happen if I don’t start it.

I really believe that any good you try to do comes from a good place. I believe that any good we put into the world is positive. I’m not advocating for anyone to stop donating to charities or to stop paying tithing. These are all good things! I’m just trying to start one more good thing.

from one white person to another

When it comes to weeks like this past one, life is pretty easy for us.

It’s easy to stay quiet when we aren’t the ones hurting.

It’s easy to justify our ignorance to make ourselves feel comfortable in complacency.

It’s easy to ignore the pain that we don’t experience.

It’s easy to put our own comfort above the needs of a people in pain.

And for too long, that’s what I’ve done. But I can’t, in good conscience, stay silent anymore. I believe that #BlackLivesMatter and I’m uncomfortable sitting on the sidelines pretending that there’s not a legitimate fight being fought by a community in need.

When I started this blog, I decided that I would stay away from talking about religion, or politics, or any polarizing topic. I wanted to be a reliable “safe place” where people could escape from the noise of heavy topics. But I know now that that line of thinking is privilege.

See, if I don’t want to hear about the struggles of minorities, then I can change the channel. I can stop scrolling. I can unfollow whatever content I don’t want to see from whatever people I don’t want to interact with. I can live in my bubble peacefully and be completely ignorant and happy in a country that was, systematically, built for me and people like me. Not everyone can.

#BlackLivesMatter isn’t just a cause for the black community. It’s their desperate plea to be treated with basic human dignity by both their peers and people in power. And when we respond with “All Lives Matter,” we disregard their individual pain and struggles. When we say “we’re all a part of one race: the human race,” we invalidate their experiences. When we claim that we “don’t see color,” we are devaluing a part of their identity. In a perfect world, the color of our skin wouldn’t make a difference in how we are treated. But we don’t live in a perfect world, we don’t all benefit the same regardless of color, and we need to start listening to those who are not in a position of privilege.

It’s uncomfortable to recognize that we benefit from a system that hurts others. It’s uncomfortable to realize that the country we live in isn’t as great for others as it is for us. It’s uncomfortable to acknowledge that white privilege is real. But we can never truly fix the problem until we realize that we are a part of it when we don’t push for change.

It’s quite simple for me. Supporting hurting communities is a basic covenant I made as a disciple of Christ: to mourn with those that mourn and comfort those that stand in need of comfort. It isn’t hard to see who’s in need of comfort right now, and you don’t need to be able to quote the New Testament to know that Christ sat with and stood for the marginalized.

If you want to say “we’re all children of God and that should be our only identity,” then act like it. Would you stand up and speak out for your sibling if they were being abused? Then pay attention and speak out for your siblings who are suffering now.

All Sheep Matter CARTOON | Etsy

The thing is, whites/straights/males/other people of privilege love saying that things like this are political. You know why? Because they/we have the luxury of not being personally affected by these issues.

You’re white? You’re not on the receiving end of systemic racism. It’s not personal, therefore it’s political.

You’re cis/straight? You’re not on the receiving end of homophobia or hate crimes. Not being able to marry who you want or express your gender in your preferred manner is not a personal struggle, therefore it’s political.

You’re male? You’re not on the receiving end of sexism and misogyny. The struggles of womanhood are not personal for you, therefore, they’re political.

Being able to see an issue as a “political issue” is a privilege. And nobody likes to acknowledge that, especially because privilege is such a buzzword now and privileged people have stopped taking it seriously. But believe it or not, whites have an advantage in America.

I’m not saying your life is easy, but your life definitely isn’t hard because of the color of your skin. You shouldn’t feel guilty for the color of your skin — nobody should! But you should use it for good. If “all lives” really matter to you, then it shouldn’t be that hard, right?

So please start listening and trying to understand. Stop using the same 4 MLK quotes and actually study what he and other black activists had to say.

Listen to black voices. Amplify black voices.

Donate. Protest. Sign petitions. Speak up.

Have some empathy. Show some compassion.

Fight for an America that is great for everyone.

I don’t suspect that I’ll post super frequently about “political” things, but I’m not going to stay silent anymore just because it’s safe and convenient for me. I believe that #BlackLivesMatter. I support the LGBTQ+ community. I’m a raging feminist and I’m kind of a flaming liberal, so if that’s something I lose friends/followers over, ok. I don’t know how to convince you that you should care about people.

**Note: I used to have *very* different political beliefs. I invalidated and ignored a lot of the viewpoints that I now hold. Over this past year especially, I have moved further and further from what I used to believe (to be honest, it had a lot to do with the fact that I started paying attention and doing my research, go figure). If you know me from a time that I questioned your movements and invalidated your causes, I’m sorry. But I’m showing up to do better and fight alongside you now.**

FriENDzone

Hey Kids! Vulnerability is Cool!
One of the new things I did in 2019 was confess my feelings to a guy I liked without knowing for a fact that he felt the same way. Another first? Getting friendzoned. (holla)
And while y’all might be like “agh bummer! so sorry! the friend zone is the worst!” let me be CLEAR–
it’s not.
you know what is the worst? never knowing what it means when he does something that is clearly leading you on one minute and then another thing right afterward clearly indicating that he’s not interested.
the worst? feeling so close and so good when you have a really good time together and then the next week wondering if you’ve fabricated the whole relationship in your head.
the worst? not knowing why you’re consistently rejected when you invite but then he continues to invite.
No, guys, the friendzone is NOT the worst. The friendzone is magical and I love living in the friend zone. Let me tell you why.
1. It clarifies intentions. 
I will preach it until the day I die but overthinking is just under communicating and under communicating is the worst.
Here’s the deal. Before I was “in the friend zone,” I was like a fish and he was a fisherman. I don’t like metaphors that let men be men while women are objects but I feel like a fish is alive enough to not be an object, idk. Anyway. I was on his hook. It was like he had caught me but hadn’t decided if he wanted me, and since I so desperately wanted him to keep me, I couldn’t just jump off the hook and be free. I needed him either kill me (or keep me, I suppose), or throw me back. And when he threw me back (by friendzoning me), I felt free. I felt like a weight had been lifted and I was finally able to breathe again.
This guy was awesome, ok? He was pretty much everything I want in a man minus some key components. But trying to figure out what was going on was hell, and it took a massive toll on me. And finally just getting it all off my chest, even if it was just to be rejected, was redemptive soul work. I highly recommend just getting the friendzoning over with and being able to breathe again.
2. Friends are amazing!!!!
I mean, I’m not the first person to question this, but why do we say “just friends”? like why is a friend somehow less than a romantic partner? Friends are amazing! I love my friends! Platonic friendships are incredible!!! build them!! cherish them!! learn to have them without romantic expectation!! it will make you a better and happier person. I so testify.
3. Loving someone is loving them. Period.
I truly believe that when you love someone, you love any part of them that they’re willing to share with you. Love is not about reciprocation. Obviously, if you’re in a more serious relationship and there is no reciprocity, you may need to set some boundaries and love them from a distance, but that’s not really what I’m referring to here. If you really love someone because of the value they contribute to your life, you will be content to keep them platonically. Of course it hurts to be rejected romantically, but if your only reason for being their friend was the hope of a romantic relationship, then your relationship isn’t really built on a strong foundation anyway.
so SHOOT for the SHOT and at least if you miss, you wont be spending your whole life in the wrong court playing on a losing team.
and if you’ve been friendzoned and are all butthurt about it, stop being such a BABY and either appreciate them for how they bless your life or get the HECK out of their life.
And if you’re the one friend-zoning (didn’t think I was going to leave you out, did you?), uhhh please do it right? This only applies if the friendship is actually important to you. If you actually don’t give a heck about the person, then disregard this, but–
1. Just say how you feel
This person just made themselves extremely vulnerable by telling you how they feel. It takes a lot of courage to be open and honest like that, and obviously, if your feelings aren’t the same, you’re not going to be making yourself nearly as vulnerable! So I don’t care if you feel bad or if it’s awkward to reject someone, if they mean ANYTHING to you, just do it!
2. No copouts! 
Again, say how you freaking feel. None of this “I’m not interested in a relationship” of “I’m not ready to progress romantically with anybody” business. Because that is not a feeling. I can have feelings for someone and not want a relationship with them. When I tell you how I feel and ask how you feel, I want feelings. Because I can’t argue feelings. I can’t force feelings. But I can accept feelings and validate them, even when they don’t match mine.
3. Don’t Leave the Door Open if it’s Not Open
If love is not and will never be an open door for this person, don’t sing Hans’s part of the duet with the intention of leaving them for dead later, mmk? Don’t use terms like “right now” or “the timing is wrong” or “not ready.” This encourages them to hold out hope for the future. If you don’t want to deal with them coming after you in the future, set the relationship straight now. Because they’re thinking, “oh, if right now it’s a problem, I can try again later” or “when will the timing be right?” or “getting ready takes time, and I got time.” I’m not saying you’re lying by saying you’re not ready, but if it’s not just the timing and you’re actually not interested, be honest and cut the person loose. You are not a monster for doing so! You are actually MUCH more of a monster if you string them along and lead them on.
4. Don’t Invalidate Their Feelings
If they say you’ve been leading them on, and you have been, just admit it and apologize. If they say you’ve been leading them on, and you don’t feel like you have been… think about it from their perspective… and then respond empathetically. All you have to say is “I didn’t mean to and I’m sorry.” Ignoring it or brushing it off is just not accepting responsibility for the confusion/hurt you caused. Maybe that sounds a little extreme, but… having your feelings played with totally sucks.
5. Don’t Be Cringey 
It’s nice to tell someone you appreciate them as a friend, so do that (if it’s true). But don’t overdo it. Don’t use a bunch of fluff about how “you’re a really great person” and “you’re gonna be so great for somebody else” and all that bogus fluff. Unless you have the sort of relationship where it’s a genuine thing to say, just do without it. Because it feels incredibly fake in the moment, like you’re just grabbing at nice cliches to say so that you don’t come off as a monster.
Again, all this only really matters if you legitimately care about the person/friendship. If not, you should be as vague, avoidant, and cringey as possible. The results speak for themselves: you are a coward.
Anyway. Not to out anyone that I’ve been friendzoned by, but… I know some people who would benefit from a friendzoning workshop. Like a lot.
And if you know they like you and they just haven’t said anything, don’t be a jerk. Just address it. It’s as easy as saying “hey, I kinda suspect that you may be interested in me as more than a friend. If that’s true, then I just want to say that I’m flattered but our friendship is completely platonic for me. If I’m way off base in interpreting your words/actions, then cool! I just want to be on the same page.” Bing bam boom, nobody’s being mean and everyone understands their place.
Friendzoning is not hard to do, but it’s amazing how strong friendships can be ruined by a poorly done friendzone. Don’t let it be you. Ask your doctor if friendzoning is right for you.
–If you’re married and reading this (to support me, of course) and you’re like “wow, so glad that phase of my life is over,” get out. —

My 2020 Vision

The moon says the new year starts now, so Happy (Lunar) New Year!

It also gave me the satisfaction of not feeling bad about procrastinating my 2019 review/2020 goals, so holla at ya moon.
The title of this blog post is misleading, this is more like a “year in review” post for 2019, but “My 2020 Vision” was too good to pass up, we only get this year ONE TIME (or 366 times, if you wanna be that person). But if you came here wondering about my 2020 vision, it is this: get new glasses. The ones I have on my face are too old, they keep falling off, and I accidentally stepped on my other pair and broke them. RIP hipster frames. Yes, I did get contacts last year, but Denver is Too Dry this winter and they give me headaches.
Ok so only keep reading if you want an inside on my diary.
Last year, my only real “resolution” was “every week, do something I’ve never done or go somewhere I’ve never been.” I thought it would make good blogging material, but it turned into just going to a new food place or seeing a new movie for a lot of those weeks and it wasn’t really blog-worthy. I guess I could have flexed my movie/food critic muscles, but… I didn’t. So.
but in case you are wondering what kind of new cool stuff I did, here are some things!
-songwriting retreat in Nashville
-gambling in Vegas
-admit my mental illness to the world!
-audition for America’s Got Talent
-join an Instagram live stream
-throw an ax (!!!!)
-eat ethiopian food
-reply to a rejection letter from a job about how they totally missed out (lol)
-go to a comedy club (it was… NOt good)
-sleep in a hammock
-use the men’s bathroom (gross, 1/10, only giving a 1 rating bc it beats an outhouse)
-text my number neighbor (she is my age, lds, and lives in SLC. wild af)
-Go to Yellowstone/Grand Teton NP!
-Go hiking by myself
-Eat bear meat (would not recommend. Not bad, just not good)
-learn how to change my own oil
-attend a murder mystery party
-check out some cool places in Denver
-meditate
-make homemade tortillas
-became way too comfortable talking about my asexuality
-make tortillas from scratch (they did not turn out well)
-try voodoo donuts (for the first, second, third, and fourth time)
-saw my first foreign/highbrow film
-made friends on bumble bff
-went on a dating app date (!!!!!) and then promptly never talked to the guy again
-sent feet pics (that was earlier in the year but lower on the list bc… trauma)
-went to a Moth storytelling night
-got friendzoned (I mean, I was 25, it was time)
-actually got into a lot of cool podcasts!
-was a bridesmaid in a wonderful friend’s wedding ❤
If you’re a grammar nazi, you will notice that the above list is not uniform at all. Some items begin with past tense verbs, some items begin with present tense verbs, and some items are just nouns. I understand this and am not going to make the effort to streamline it. Deal with it.
ALSO– if you are wondering what kinds of goals to set for yourself, I would highly, HIGHLY recommend making the goal to do something new every week. It’s simple enough to do, but it also encourages you to get outside the box and actually do the things you’ve always wanted to but never got around to. Also, you just realize how many new things you’re doing naturally, and it’s pretty cool.
Also,,, I realize that’s 30 things I could have written an actual cool post about so if you’d like me to revisit any of those in a future post, let me know and I’ll get on it. I should’ve noticed sooner but I was too busy just kinda… livin life, yknow?
Anyway. 2019 was a different beast. At the end of some years, I’m like “wow, so glad THat year is over, so excited for a new start!” but at the end of 2019? I thought… I am so grateful for everything that happened last year. What a year. How exciting to keep building on the trajectory I’ve started.
My first instinct is to say that 2019 was a year of transformation. But I don’t think I really changed, I think I just emerged. I started living openly about all the pieces of my identity that I had previously been ashamed of, asserting my validity even to people who disagreed. I built some seriously awesome friendships and surrounded myself with a strong social support group. I started taking control of my future… personally, professionally, and otherwise.
**And let me just say, taking control does not mean that you are not scared/discouraged. I can cry today and feel like I’m never going to make anything of myself, and then get up tomorrow and keep trying. I’m allowed to feel my way through it! And so are you!**
Maybe it was that I lived in the same place the whole year (which hasn’t happened since 2012) so I was really able to put down some roots and bloom. Maybe it’s because timing is divine. Maybe it’s because I just met the people I needed to meet and was finally ready for them. And maybe… maybe it’s maybelline.
I can already tell that the year of the rat is gonna be pretty rocky. But I ~~think I can handle it.

Toxic Positivity: It’s OK to be Goo

I get that toxic is a ~trendy~ word right now that nobody takes seriously, but hear me out.

Toxic positivity is real. And contradictory for positive mental/emotional growth and development.

I think we’ve created this culture of positivity that can help some people while simultaneously harming others. And that’s what I want to address today: the positivity paradox.

People who genuinely want to live good, happy lives claim that the secret is in positive thinking. I don’t necessarily disagree with that. In fact, I think that’s a great thing! I have a quote on my work desk that says “change your thoughts and change your world,” and I believe it. But I also believe in being real. And in real life, not everything is positive all the time. And you can’t just act like it is.

The unfortunate reality is this: people think that if they admit they’re weak, either to their friends or on their social media, it’s the equivalent of begging for attention or validation. I believe that sometimes that is the case. But it’s all in the delivery. I’ve observed methods that don’t come across as negative, but as honest. And I’m a passionate believer in being honest about your circumstances. Not only is it relatable and real, it’s healthy. For current you, future you, and for everyone else who might be comparing themselves to you (which is their problem that you are not responsible for, but nonetheless, we’ve all (probably) been there).
From personal experience: my time in China was one of the lowest points of my entire life. It was the first time that I considered suicide as an actual option–not just as a taboo “I wish I could do that.” Inside, I was in a  very dark place. But in my pictures, I was smiling. In my captions, I was making jokes; in my replies, I was superficial. Now, I really was doing some super cool stuff. I’m grateful for my time and my experiences there and I wouldn’t trade them for anything. But I would get people commenting things like “you look so happy!” and “I’m so jealous,” and I realized that I was lying. And if other people were comparing their normal, school- and work-filled lives with my traveling adventures, they were caught up in that lie that I was spinning.
Now, I didn’t owe it to anyone to tell them my true thoughts and feelings, but I do owe it to myself to see my life for what it is. So I decided to discard the idea that social media is only for big, exciting life updates. Nobody is going to compare their real life to my “highlight reel” anymore. I’m going to be candid.
I was averse to this idea at first because growing up, I was always told that I was too Negative. And we were taught that Negative people are Not Fun to be around because they’re Draining and they Kill Joy. So basically, instead of being told “hey, you might have a mental illness, you should really get some help and learn how to take care of yourself,” I was told, “hey, you need to fix your bad attitude or nobody is going to want to be your friend.” You can imagine how fun that was for me to hear and internalize.
SoOoOo I learned to either shut up or fake it. And I’m actually terrible at both of those things. So my real friends (bless them) still saw me at my real (because I don’t have any other setting) and the thing was, even though they loved me, all I could think about was how burdensome I was in every relationship that I had because I was Negative.
If my story sounds anything like yours, let me just whip out my megaphone and announce that:
🗣that is not a healthy way to live 🗣
You’re allowed to feel. We say that “there is opposition in all things,” but then once something bad happens, we think we can just will away the bad feelings and that, if we don’t, there’s something wrong with us. There’s nothing wrong with feeling pain. Pain is a vital part of being alive.
Now I do want to clarify that I think positive thinking is a great thing. Optimism is fantastic and I’m not here to trash talk it. But I do emphatically believe that the push to “positive thinking” can be damaging. I’ve lived it.
When you think that ignoring bad feelings will make them go away? That’s toxic positivity. If you say that someone is “just being negative” and that “thinking happy thoughts will make everything better,” that’s toxic positivity. When we ignore the bad and focus solely on the good? That’s toxic positivity. You cannot learn from the bad if you ignore it. You cannot make peace with your past if you refuse to acknowledge that it hurt you.
We need to be honest with each other and with ourselves if we are to be able to heal, move forward, and deal healthily, as individuals and as a society, with our reality. Otherwise, we’ll just see the past as better than it was and the present as never good enough. It’s already too easy to see the past with rose-tinted glasses, don’t make it harder for your future self by writing in journals or posting on social media about only the positive things you’re going through.
Note: gratitude is important and we should understand that no matter where we are in life, we have something to be grateful for. But addressing our pain does not equate to ingratitude.
Take, for example, a broken arm. We don’t say “well, I’m lucky to even have an arm, so I can’t complain about the pain.” That is ludicrous. It is because we are thankful for our arm that listen to the pain and seek treatment. We don’t just will the pain away with gratitude and positivity. So why can’t we do that with our minds and hearts? I would argue that those are of much greater value to us.
We can’t heal if we don’t think that anything is wrong with us. We can’t heal if we don’t know where the pain is coming from. You can’t fix a problem if you don’t know what it is. So address those problems. Find their source. And then solve them.
One of the best things I’ve seen on twitter was this tweet from user @JenAshleyWright. It says:
“People talk about caterpillars becoming butterflies as though they just go into a cocoon, slap on wings, and are good to go.
Caterpillars have to dissolve into a disgusting pile of goo to become butterflies.
So if you’re a mess wrapped up in blankets right now, keep going.”
A caterpillar in a chrysalis literally digests itself and releases enzymes to dissolve all its tissues. It is soup in there. But that is an essential step in the metamorphosis. And according to scientificamerican.com, “disturbing a caterpillar inside its cocoon or chrysalis risks botching the transformation.”
So don’t disturb your own transformation by trying to slap on your wings and fly already. Growth takes time. Sometimes a build-up must be preceded by a colossal breakdown. That doesn’t mean you’re weak. It means you’re transforming.
Be kind to yourself when you’re a mess in a pile of blankets. You’ll start flying soon enough. For now, be goo.

Down With Diet Culture

My diet does not start today.

Or tomorrow.

Or Monday.

Or EVER again.

Because not only is there a wealth of evidence proving that diets don’t work (and actually lead to weight gain in the long term) but the diet industry especially profits off of convincing you to feel bad about yourself so that you get “better”. And somehow, they’ve managed to convince everyone that better = thinner.

Which is funny because thinner =/= healthier.

dietculturewtf.png

It’s funny because thinner =/= more willpower.

It’s funny because thinner =/= kinder.

thinner =/= smarter

thinner =/= more athletic

thinner =/= saner

thinner =/= happier

And yet, losing weight is the number one resolution that people share.

I don’t judge people for falling victim to the diet culture. I understand why they do. For my entire life, I did too. And when I say my entire life, I mean from the time I was probably 7 or 8 years old, I hated myself because I was fat. I was convinced that everything in my life would be better if I was thinner.

I remember that I would read “Chicken Soup for the Soul” books about people developing anorexia to lose tons of weight and while the message was “don’t do this! it’s dangerous!” all I took from it was “starve yourself! you’ll lose weight!” And so I did.

When not eating didn’t work out for me (because holla, food is GOOD), I tried the bulimia approach. But I’m not very good at throwing up either. So for years, I either starved and binged or got myself on a regular schedule of “self-disciplined eating” which was essentially me just starving myself.

See, when I look back on my life I can clearly divide it into the times I was dieting and the times I was not. The times I was dieting were times that I was genuinely proud of myself for being malnourished. I survived on a diet of fruit and granola bars (sometimes >200 calories a day) and ran 3-5 miles a day. I would drop about 40 pounds in 3 months and you know the response I got? Praise.

People thought I was making “healthier” decisions just because the way my body looked was conforming more toward what society said was acceptable.

My worth was the number on the scale and the reflection in the mirror. My feelings about myself revolved around whether or not I was proud or ashamed of what I ate and if I had worked out that day. So no matter if I was in a dieting phase or not, I was always punishing myself. Punishing my body by starving it, or punishing my mind by believing I was worthless.

But then in 2019, I found Tiffany Roe on Instagram (@heytiffanyroe) and, honestly I am not exaggerating when I say that my life changed. Not only is she a therapist, but she’s also in recovery from an eating disorder and a major advocate of intuitive eating. She taught me some invaluable truths.

  1. Mental health is greatly impacted by one’s relationship with their bodies and with food. Think about it–you can’t survive without food. You have to eat several times a day to remain properly nourished, and yet a complicated relationship with your body affects what foods you put in it, and your thoughts about those foods affect how you feel about ingesting them. Say you really like the taste of chips but your mind has classified chips as bad. Now, when you eat chips, you feel ashamed, because you have established that complicated relationship. Then you get caught in a shame spiral every time you don’t have the “self-control” to avoid foods that your body likes and your mind doesn’t. It’s a damaging cycle.
  2. Foods only have the moral value that we assign them. She used the example of french fries. A lot of people will say “oh, well fries are obviously bad because they’re unhealthy,” but she says that to her, fries are good because they were something she couldn’t eat when she had an eating disorder. No food is inherently good or bad and labeling them as such just fosters a poor relationship with food.
  3. You do not have to have an eating disorder to engage in disordered eating. Just because you don’t have a diagnosable eating disorder doesn’t mean your eating habits aren’t disordered. Many, if not all, diets are examples of disordered eating.
  4. Unconditional permission to eat is crucial to healing your relationship with food. Restricting leads to binging. Binging leads to shame. Shame leads to restricting. The cycle continues. In order to break the cycle, you must lift the restriction and heal your relationship with food.

Now, when I get on my diet culture soapbox and talk to people about my experiences, they sometimes accuse me of using an anecdotal fallacy. That my experiences, while unfortunate, do not “prove” that there is a problem with diet culture. But my experiences are not isolated to me and a few other people with personal testimonials about how diet culture is deceptive and dangerous. And if you’re unsatisfied with the links I’ve provided and want to fight, let’s fight. Because I’m sick and tired of people justifying thin supremacy in the name of “health.” People do not exist to aesthetically please you and you cannot tell just by looking at someone if they are healthy.

And it’s just sad, yknow? How we have these bodies that are capable of climbing mountains and making music and building cities and creating human life and here we are concerned about how they look. Not about how they serve us. Not about how we can use them to serve others. But about how. they. look.

This is the first time in over a decade that I am not putting weight loss on my list of new year’s resolutions, because every time I’ve lost weight, I have not gotten healthier because of it (lol one time I had to get my gallbladder removed because losing weight so fast gave me gall stones so try telling me that’s healthy). So I commit to getting healthier in 2020. I commit to getting therapy. I commit to getting outdoors more as part of (half of) the 52 hikes challenge. I commit to training for and running a marathon (!!!!!) and I commit to taking CARE of myself. But I’m not committing to losing weight, and I’m not praising anyone else for their weight loss, and I’m not encouraging anyone’s weight loss. Ever again.

Because what are you really saying when you praise someone for their weight loss? Congratulations on taking up less space? Thank you for being easier to objectify? Your body was a problem to be solved and now you’ve solved it so good job? Whatever illness you had that got you here was worth it because now you look better?

Come on. How about we look a little deeper and comment on things that matter going forward?

The best compliments I’ve received have had to do with my abilities or my personality. I love it when someone can tell me that they think I’m funny, or that I’m talented, that I have a way of making people feel comfortable around me, that I’m intelligent, that the way I write has the ability to make them feel understood.

In fact, my least favorite compliments are those that comment on the way I look. It’s lazy and says nothing about the value I contribute to your life or the world.

beauty

What’s really rich, though, is the people who can agree with everything I’ve written here and then say “well, if you’re not thin, people (men) won’t find you attractive and that’s just the way it is.”

Well, that’s ok. Because being shallow isn’t attractive either.