Surprising myself

11 December 2007

Tonight I did two things that totally surprised me at first.

Backing up…

Boston Boy and I hadn’t chatted in several days since he was on a business trip. Rab Boy with a crush on me was told in no uncertain terms by mutual friends that I am not interested. In the meantime, my friends arranged a Shabbat lunch for me to meet a guy who is getting a math PhD. I’d met him ever so briefly at shul a week ago, then we were at the same table this past Friday night at a dinner at shul. Lunch was fun, Math Boy is a great guy, though he is on the quiet and shy side. He may or may not have noticed that I am, y’know, a girl. But we are hoping he will sort of ease into the idea of being interested in me. I made the chocolate mousse pie in this post, and I got the eggs right this time so it worked out much better.

Saturday night, I went to the lovely Samantha‘s pre-party, then to a fabulous holiday soiree. We were all dressed up to the nines, which is always fun. The party itself was fun but not quite my scene — the music wasn’t music I could really dance to, and the only people I knew were S. and her friends from the pre-party, and I’m not so good at meeting new people in such a huge venue. So I left on the early side, came home, and then went to my friend’s Chanukah party two buildings down from mine. It was very chill and relaxed, and nobody minded that I was overdressed (they were all in jeans, and I was still in my party dress).

Sunday was low-key, I slept in and stayed inside almost the whole day, then went to a surprise retirement party for my boss’s boss’s boss, in Pasadena. I carpooled with a coworker of mine who is my age. He worked at the company for 6 years (straight out of college), left for business school for two years, then came back over the summer, just a couple months after I started in my current department. He knew more people than I did at the retirement party, since he has more tenure than I (and had been in/near our current department all along, whereas I used to be in a very separate dep’t), so he introduced me to a lot of people. We arrived together, sat together, walked around together, and left together. And apparently, people commented that we made a really cute couple. Of course, he’s not Jewish. And he’s got a significant other. And, oh yeah, he’s gay. So…people are a little clueless. We were both very amused to hear the “gossip” this morning…

Anyway, all this leads me to tonight. Boston Boy and I had a video-chat. He’d found plane tickets for $300 that would have him arriving in LA around noon on Thursday 20 Dec., leaving at 1 p.m. on Tuesday 25 Dec., and he wanted to know if he should get them. We ended up having a long talk about religion. He grew up modern Orthodox, had some miserable experiences with day school and organized religion, was a “devout” atheist for a while, and has now settled into agnosticism. He keeps kosher, goes to shul once in a while…but he doesn’t know if G-d is real, he certainly doesn’t think G-d has any place in his life, and he still has a lot of resentment toward institutional Judaism. If he hadn’t been born Jewish, he thinks he’d be Buddhist or Hindu.

And I have issues with that. If he were actually here in LA, it would be worth it to meet him and see how things might go. If he were in Boston but were closer to me religiously, it would be worth it. (And on top of living in Boston, he has two cats, which is a deal-breaker for me anyway because I’m awfully fond of breathing.) But in the end, I said that I thought the proposed visit would be a bit too much too soon — five full days this early on seemed like more than I could handle. He thinks I’m the bee’s knees, and he would like us to stay in contact and maybe have a slightly shorter visit (like a 3-day weekend) in the future. I am OK with that for now.

And after that, I did what I think I should have done last week. I called Rab Boy and told him why I’m not interested in dating him right now (the timing in his life, as I described a couple posts ago), but making it very clear that I think he’s a great guy and I would really like us to be friends and keep getting to know each other. He was totally cool with that, and we ended up talking for a long time, which was nice. I could see him being an important person in my life — whether it’s just as a friend, or maybe someday as something more.

No word from Math Boy yet, but I am hoping…

Tomorrow night, for the 8th night of Chanukah, I am going to have some friends (including Rab Boy) over to light candles and eat pizza. I figured pizza is greasy, even if it’s not a traditional “fried-in-oil” Chanukah food. And one of my friends is going to make latkes because she said she is tired of frozen latkes and latkes from mixes.

And since Boston Boy is not coming to visit, I plan to go forward with my Christmas Eve cocktail party. I would love to put up mistletoe, but that would be just a little weird considering everyone will be Jewish!


The multiplicity of one-ness

28 November 2007

Last post, I wrote:

“Must not get too attached to Boston Boy. (Too late!)”

Well, apparently I’m not alone. We IM’ed for a while this evening, during which time he wrote:

In all honesty, I do think this could be the beginning of something more substantial then just entertaining flirtation.

From there, there was a bit (a very little bit) of discussion of that concept…during which he worried I might think he was nuts, to which I responded, “Not nuts, and I’m glad you said it first.” There was also a bit of discussion wherein we found that we both believe that there is more than one “The One” out there for any given individual. And we both acknowledged that “The Multiplicity of Ones” was clearly the title of a math paper just begging to be written.

Still not really holding my breath. Well, maybe a little.

But anyway, it put me in a super-good mood. And now I am exhausted, so off to bed I go.


This, that, and the other thing

28 November 2007

Thanksgiving weekend was wonderful, of course, because I got to spend lots of quality time with my parents. I got a haircut while I was there — my first-ever experience with layers — and continued my streak of having good things happen when I go to my parents’ synagogue. Back when I lived in New York, I went to shul with my folks and first met a friend of theirs who said, “You’re single, and you went to the big H, and you live in New York? I have a nephew who has all three of those things in common with you. If you’re interested, give me your card, and I’ll have him call you.” Minutes later, I met other friends of my parents who said, “We were planning to go to New York for our anniversary, and we bought to tickets to Madame Butterfly at the Met. But then we decided to go to Israel instead. And our opera tickets are non-refundable. Would you like them?” So I had not just a date, but a place to go with said date. (The opera was wonderful. The guy was pretty good — three or four good dates — right up until he disappeared off the face of the earth.)

So this time, I met an allergist friend of my parents, who said that my being allergic to nickel and unable to wear even 18K or sterling silver earrings didn’t mean that all was lost…He recommended I try titanium earrings, which are apparently super-duper-hyper-hypo-allergenic. I haven’t worn earrnings since my brother’s wedding 4 years ago. Generally, I wear earrnings once every several years, and then only for a few hours…and then my ears are red and painful for the next 3 or 4 days. But I’ve been wearing these 24/7 since Sunday morning, and my ears look fine. I desperately want to take them out (they hurt a bit, and I miss sleeping on my side), but I’ve essentially re-pierced my ears, and “they” (my parents and the chick at the Piercing Pagoda) agree that I need to leave in the earrings for several WEEKS. I suppose I must suffer for my beauty… ;)

Tonight I caught up with Boston Boy for the first time since the phone convo I wrote about before. We talked on the phone for an hour or so…then realized, we both have computers with web-cams, so we video-chatted on Skype for another hour and a half. SO much fun. He has a fatal flaw, though (well, besides, y’know, living in Boston) — he has two cats. And I am super-duper allergic to cats. And, really, anything with fur. That’s in addition to nickel (which translates to, I’m allergic to cheap jewelry, which honestly isn’t so bad). And one antibiotic. And certain vegetables. And laundry detergents with fragrances in them. Yeah, it’s fun to be me.

Anyway. Must not get too attached to Boston Boy. (Too late!)

Closer to home, there’s a rab student with a BIG crush on me. Sweet guy, but not really ready for a relationship, I’m thinking. He converted to Judaism (not sure when, at least a few years ago though). He recently – like a couple months ago – ended a 4-year relationship. Then he kinda went crazy with the drinking and the partying and such. Then he took a Nazarite vow (no meat, no alcohol, no haircuts — think Samson, as in “and Delilah”) for a month to cleanse his system. That month ended just recently. So I’m thinking, he needs to get to know himself again, and figure out who and what and where he is in life. But he invited me to a party on Sat. night, which beats spending $36 for a Federation Chanukah party with a bunch of people I won’t know (this party will be a bunch of people I do know, plus some I don’t know).

And now I must get back to cleaning (well, straightening up and putting stuff away) in preparation for my super-duper cleaning dude who comes tomorrow.


Suddenly single

17 November 2007

blah blah blah, “I like you very much and we have great chemistry…” blah blah blah, religion….blah blah blah, lifestyle…blah blah blah, “I don’t think we should see each other anymore.”

In an e-mail.

JDate, here I come. Again.


I am one of those melodramatic fools…

8 November 2007

neurotic to the bone, no doubt about it.

Argh.

I really, really wish I could just relax.

I saw A. four times last week. Pretty clear that he is interested in me, yes? But I last saw him Saturday night. We’ve e-mailed only a little; he has a bad headache and a ton of work and plans every night this week. I asked if, for a change, he’d like to come over and let me cook dinner for him this Saturday night, but he can’t because he’s having dinner at his Mom’s house with her and his aunts. Although I am venting to my friends (and my parents, and my brother-in-law), I am smart enough not to call him and say, “Pay attention to meeeeee!” I e-mailed him the other day, when he’d told me about his plans with family plus his work project that had sort of exploded, “Yikes, I hope things calm down soon. Will I at least get to see you again before T’giving? :)” He wrote back – a day later – a more chatty e-mail (still stressed) that included, “Hope all is well, and it will be before Turkey Day, I am sure!” So that was a little reassuring.

Tonight I am cooking and baking for Shabbat lunch. Once the peppers were stuffed and baked, the pumpkin bread was in the oven, and the chicken was marinating, I saw that he was still online at work, so I IMed him. It was a short conversation, nothing special, and I’d typed that I didn’t want to bother him at work and was really just saying hi. He wrote back that he actually had to go because he’s having dinner at a trendy new restaurant, and after a quick “talk to you later,” he signed off.

I know that he’s busy, and he has a life, and presumably he is still interested in me or he would either stop e-mailing or take the “in a relationship with Midnite99” out of his Facebook profile (yay Facebook) or actually, y’know, break up with me. I get that, intellectually. It’s just that thanks to my idiot ex, I am just so insecure that every new guy in my life is going to abandon me. Sigh.

My brother-in-law is in town for work, and we had dinner (kosher Subway) last night. His advice was not to worry. He told me, “You have to have the attitude that you’re the best girl in the world, the most beautiful, the smartest, and he’s lucky to have you.” My brother-in-law is pretty cool. He also said that although my ex was a horse’s patootie (as my father would say), I can’t blame other guys for that. My brother-in-law, in addition to being pretty cool, is also pretty smart.

And I KNOW all this stuff. Really, I do. Which is the most frustrating part, actually, because if I know it in my head, why am I having so much trouble knowing it in my heart?

Why, yes, it has been a long week, how’d you know?

* * *

For Shabbat lunch, I’m letting guests provide: green vegetable or salad, salatim (hummus, guacamole, etc), wine, fruit, and dessert. (It’s the first time I’ve “outsourced” dessert in AGES.) I am making:

* Chicken marinated in the same (store-bought) wasabi teryaki sauce that was so awesome on tofu last month.

* Stuffed peppers

Ingredients:
Cooking spray
8 bell peppers (red, orange, yellow — all taste better than green to me — just make sure they can stand up)
1 box Near East Mediterranean Curry couscous mix
1 onion, chopped
2 medium zucchini, chopped
oregano
salt
tomato-mushroom sauce [made last week (with some cherry tomatoes, tomato paste, mushrooms, garlic, and various spices) to go with spaghetti squash]
1/3 pound dried chickpeas, soaked overnight and drained [canned would work fine]

Preheat oven to 350.

Spray a baking dish big enough to hold 8 peppers. Cut tops off peppers, scoop out membranes and seeds. Put in baking dish and roast for 15 minutes, then remove from oven and cool until filling is ready — which in my case was the same time they were ready to come out of the oven.

Meanwhile:

Prepare couscous according to package directions.

Spray a large non-stick skillet with spray. Add onion, zucchini, oregano, and salt, and stir over medium heat about 5 minutes until most of their liquid has been released and evaporated, and veggies are soft. Remove from heat; stir in tomato sauce and chickpeas until well-mixed. Stir in couscous until well-mixed.

Carefully spoon mixture into peppers. Bake 15 minutes. (I had enough stuffing left over that I could have filled another couple of peppers, but the yellow ones were small and the orange ones were big but misshapen, leading to deceptively small cavities.)

If it weren’t a meat meal, I would have stirred some feta into the stuffing, or topped the peppers with grated parmesean.

* Spicy sweet potato “fries” — Slice a few sweet potatoes into wedges or fry-like shapes. Put in ziploc bag with a couple Tbsps olive oil, a few shakes each of salt, freshly ground pepper, cayenne pepper, and curry powder. Shake until all fries are coated evenly. Line a baking sheet with foil, spray with a bit more spray just to be safe. Dump fries onto sheet in a single layer if possible. Maybe season a bit more if you think you should. Bake at 400 for 10 minutes, then turn all fries over, and bake another 10 minutes. Serve with ketchup.

* Pumpkin bread to supplement the challah my Mom brought me Labor Day weekend

1 cup wheat flour
1/2 cup white flour
1 cup sugar/Splenda mix
1 tsp baking soda
1 cup pumpkin purée
1/2 cup applesauce
2 eggs, beaten (1/2 cup Eggbeaters)
1/4 cup water
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon allspice
(or, replace the previous 3 with 1 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray a loaf pan (9x5x3, maybe?) and set aside.

Mix flours, sugar/Splenda, and baking soda in large bowl.

Mix the pumpkin, applesauce, eggs, water, and spices together with a wooden spoon.

Make a well in the dry ingredients, and pour the wet ingredients into the well. Mix with wooden spoon, but don’t over-mix.

Pour into prepared pan. Bake 50-60 minutes until a toothpick poked in the very center of the loaf comes out clean (took 52 minutes here). Turn out of the pan and let cool on a rack. Wrap in foil until serving.


Nothing to fear but fear itself

17 October 2007

Used to be, when I was afraid of something, even if I knew intellectually that my fear was irrational, I would let the fear consume me, make me frantic and anxious and panicked. Used to be, once I got it in my head that I wasn’t sure about a particular guy, I’d find some reason to run away, rather than be the one left behind and wondering.

But apparently, I have reached the point where simply recognizing my fear is enough to let me overcome it. So when I acknowledged that I was afraid things with Event Guy would end up just like things ended up with my ex, I realized that was a pretty silly thing to be afraid of — for one thing, Event Guy is emphatically not my ex (and thank heavens for that)…and for another, I’m not the same person I was then. So ever since I got over the fear, I have been pretty darn excited about Event Guy.

So. Date #6 was Saturday night. He made me dinner — and for you foodies out there, it was amazing: grilled rack of lamb with a balsamic-fig reduction, red and green tomato salad (and the tomatoes were from his garden!), mashed potatoes with a drizzle of truffle oil. Then we watched a very cheesy movie called Antitrust, then just sat cuddled up on the couch and talked for hours. It was a really, really good date.

And date #7 was last night. He came here around 6.30, which we decided was too early for dinner, so we sat on the couch and cracked each other up with bizarre tales of how the event planners are going to take over the world. An hour slipped away, making it a reasonable time for dinner in this ever-so-fashionably-late city, so we went to a cute new Italian place not far from my apartment. They don’t have a liquor license yet, so we brought a bottle of Opolo’s Mountain Zin, which I’d gotten in wine country during that rather memorable weekend in February. Dinner was excellent, and the chocolate souffle we shared for dessert was exquisite. All through dinner, we were holding hands across the table. At one point, he beckoned me to lean toward him, and he kissed me, just like in a movie. When the waitress (who’s also the owner and the wife of the chef) brought our check, she said, “There’s no rush. Stay here and be lovey-dovey as long as you want.”

We came back here after dinner, and I mentioned that I wouldn’t see him for a week and a half since I’m going back East for vacation, and I asked if he might be interested in picking me up from the airport next Sunday night. He said he’d be happy to, then said, jokingly, “Well, as long as you’re still single when you get back.” I said, “Hmm, let me think about the guys I’m going to see on this trip. There’s my brother, some random friends in New York, then my friend J. in Potomac who’s been happily married to one of my best friends for the last year and a half. So, yeah, I think I’ll still be single when I get back.” He laughed at that, then I asked, “So…am I still single?” He gave me a very cute smile and said, “No.”

“Event Guy” takes too long to type. I think he’ll be “EG” henceforth. Or “A.”

He makes me happy. He makes me feel good about myself. And, perhaps best of all, he knows that forks and bread plates go on the left, and knives and glasses go on the right.


Days of wine and roses

9 October 2007

Date #5 was last night. Event Guy was scheduled to come over at 7, and for the first time he was early (about 10 minutes, which was fine by me since I’m chronically early). I’d teased him that for all our restaurant dates, I’d picked the restaurant, so he’d promised that this time, he would have a restaurant pre-selected. So when he arrived, he told me that we had 7.30 dinner reservations. For date #2, he’d brought me (in addition to the RCA cable) a single long-stemmed pink rose. This time, he brought 4 long-stemmed red roses…very classy.

Off we went to dinner — at Lucques, a very nice place I’d heard of but never been before. The service was top-notch, which I love. We had a sumptuous meal (for you foodies out there: we shared a bottle of Chatueneuf du Pape; shared an heirloom tomato salad with persian cucumbers, torn croutons and french feta salsa verde [feta on the side, since he’s allergic to dairy]; he had the grilled duck breast with squash blossoms, pistachios, and roasted figs; and I had grilled snapper with brandade [essentially a salt cod mousse], grilled peppers and currant-pinenut agrodolce; we were too full for dessert). The food was excellent. I couldn’t finish mine, so in addition to thanking him for dinner, I also thanked him for lunch the next day. Too bad I couldn’t take home the quarter-glass of wine I had left…

We were the last to leave the restaurant, a little before 10.30. We came back here and chatted for a few minutes. But when I have something on my mind, I’m antsy until I’ve said it, and the moment seemed right for it. So I said to him, “There’s something I want you to know. I think you’re great, I’m really enjoying talking to you and getting to know you and all of that — but I need to tell you that you’re scaring me.” He didn’t flinch, didn’t even blink or swallow, just nodded and gestured for me to continue. I explained that the last time I met someone and things moved fast and affection grew quickly, it ended atrociously and was the most awful thing I’d ever been through. I told him, “I know that you’re not my ex. I totally get that. And I think it’s awesome that you’re not playing games, that you’re not shy about making it clear that you like me. It’s just that I’m gun-shy, and the idea of trusting a guy — any guy — is still a bit terrifying. It’s nothing about you, it’s entirely my issue, I just wanted you to know.”

He said he could understand, and he appreciated my honesty, and he’d been wondering how I felt and was glad to have the answer. He said he didn’t mind taking things slowly, and reiterated that he really appreciated that I was upfront with him. So that went well.

We’ve established a pattern of sending a thank-you-and-goodnight e-mail immediately after each date, so that the person who’s driving home has an e-mail awaiting upon his or her return. So after he left, I wrote him: “Thank you again……for dinner, for lunch tomorrow, for the beautiful roses, and for understanding. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate all of them.” And he responded with, in part:

It is really my pleasure! Thank you for being honest, communicative, and very cute. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate all of them…especially the later. [sic] ;) Seriously though, I hope I was clear in my position on things. I like you and I am really enjoying getting to know you and all that goes with it. Time is an easy part as far as I am concerned…

Then he asked when we could get together again, and suggested Saturday since he knew I was busy Thursday and had shul on Friday. So for the two of you out there who tend to worry about such things, I did not scare him off, just so you know.