Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Excited....about Two (or Three) Match Guys!

Just when we thought I was hard-hearted and completely indifferent to online dating (and destined to live alone in my bathrobe with 12 cats) I received two e-mails that actually made me happy, and for the first time I talked to a Match guy on the phone. I also canceled my Match membership. Match tried to entice me with another three months for the price of one, but I don't want to spend so much time on the computer, especially now that spring is here. Plus I'm emailing with more than five guys, which is plenty.

I spent most of last weekend in Atlanta and met up with the Match guy I briefly mentioned a few weeks ago. "MJ" is from Chicago, lives just north of Atlanta, has a super cool job (sports marketing), is 6'5, and seems committed to his faith. AND he arrived at Starbucks with a half dozen cupcakes from a bakery I'd mentioned to him over three weeks ago. That really set the right tone :) It was really thoughtful and just nice to see a guy making an effort like that. We talked for 2 and 1/2 hours; he asked about grabbing dinner, but I wanted to get back to Calhoun to see my nieces before their bedtime. He e-mailed me yesterday to say how much he enjoyed talking face to face and that he looked forward to doing it again. And I didn't even have to ask you guys if I should write him back either.

In other Match news, I e-mailed a guy about two weeks ago. I rarely initiate contact with boys, but this guy's profile was fabulous; he shared his Myers-Briggs type, mentioned C.S. Lewis, and made reference to working with the youth at his church. And it was all so cleverly written. He wrote me back last week (b/c he had not been a member when I wrote him), and I've been as smitten as one can be from an exchange of e-mails. I had forgotten how much I can love written correspondence (and spend hours on it), and the more this guy shares the more (1) I like him and (2) realize how he is totally not my usual type. For example, he seems very artsy and played with the symphony and sang at a jazz jam on Sunday. He's 5'9 and from New England. He's sensitive. Fingers crossed that if we ever meet, I am attracted to him. He lives in Nashville, and I'm going there in a few weeks....so we'll see.

There's another Match guy I'd like to meet, but this post is long enough.

p.s. I'm grateful that the winter funk seems to be all gone and that my heart is more thankful and joyous.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Match Date #1

This wasn't actually my very first Match date since I did a free trial (or three) over the last few years. I even developed a dating scale for ease of reference in January of 2007.

While I'm not sure where to rank this date on my handy scale, it was certainly not painful. We met at a Greek restaurant I had never tried. "Brent" was dressed well and looked like his photographs. Conversation was fairly easy--not terribly engaging or interesting--but not boring or awkward. He shared about his family, his church, and two of his past relationships. Our waiter was rushing us, so after we finished eating we walked to Starbucks next door and chatted for another hour or so.

I left the date not caring if I ever hear from Brent again. But since I didn't have a bad time (and since I'm a dork I really enjoyed our free will v. Calvinism discussion), and he's a perfectly nice guy...but then throw in the distance factor (he lives 1 and 1/2 hours away)...I wonder if I should give it another date. He wrote me that same night, thanking me for meeting him (as he knows my time is valuable:) and saying that he hopes he has the privilege of my company again sometime. There's some part of me that feels guilty about the idea of him driving 3 hours (round-trip) for another date, especially since I wouldn't want to plan some super long date but would just want to do dinner again. And honestly my interest level isn't to where I'd drive to see him. But maybe since I'm the girl I shouldn't worry about all of that. Thoughts?

p.s. I'm grateful that I finally had a reason to use the cupcake courier my mom gave me for Christmas. And check out the rainbow cupcakes (to match the birthday girl's multi-colored windsuit)....I split the batter into bowls, added food coloring, and then added a spoonful of each colored batter to each cupcake liner. I'm out of red food coloring, so I want to do it again when I can have pink/red/purple too.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Dress to Impress

Last night we celebrated my friend's 27th birthday with a skating party at the local roller rink. We didn't realize it was "Hip Hop and Jam Night" and that we'd be listening to rap all night long; of course the 200 black children (and some of their mamas) didn't realize some old white folks would be dressing up and acting a fool. I was the first one of our group to enter the rink, and most of the seated crowd snickered and laughed as I walked in. A minute later I heard an audible gasp from the crowd and turned around to see everyone taking photographs of my guy friend dressed in tight red knit overalls and jacket a la the 70s. He nonchalantly strolled in, thought "what would Derek Zoolander do?," and proceeded to pop his collar. I'll bet his photographs was taken well over 100 times by the children there.

My costume was especially nice as the pieces of material blew gently in the breeze as I skated around the rink. A few children said "Go fairy, go fairy, go" and asked me why we were dressed up. I explained that it was my friend's birthday and asked them "don't you dress up for your friends' birthdays?"

Several children asked my friend Drew (see the photo to the left) why he was wearing goggles. His answer: "Guy, safety doesn't take a vacation." Oliver also spread the message of safety as he wore a helmet with his suede vest, plaid pants, and 80s Polo shirt. One child asked him how he got so big (he's 6'5 and of course even taller with skates). Oliver explained that it was because he ate vegetables. The child dubiously responded "Are you sure that's all?" After Oliver said yes, the kid asked him if he wanted to skate together. Adorable.

So I finally talked myself into going on a Match date. Tonight. I wrote a guy who lives in Knoxville (right under two hours away) back after procrastinating for several days and told him a few nights that I was free. He wrote back and suggested tonight. I am trying to have a good attitude about it. I'm still not sure what my mental block is about all of this. Maybe it's because I love being alone so much--and having lots of unplanned time--that I'm overly negative about planning something that might not be fun. Of course, I need to focus on the fact that it might be fun. Duh.

p.s. I'm grateful that I've correctly chosen 30 out of 40 games and am in second place with my "Unicorn" bracket. Although this basketball stuff has been stressful, it's definitely fun (now that I'm in second place).....

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Would I Recommend Match?

Bone posed this question earlier this week in a comment, so here goes it.

My friend wrote the following about his experience on Match: "I would compare it to searching for a slice of hot pizza in a pasture. There's always a chance you'll find one but you're more likely to run into a thousand cow pies first!" Based on my three weeks (and a ton of hours) on Match, I'd have to agree.

Match reports that my profile has been viewed 2,278 times, which is sort of creepy. I've have read and deleted over 100 e-mails without responding (but for at least half of those I read their profile). Received a lot of "winks." I'd guesstimate that I have responded to less than 25 men, including one very attractive guy in Atlanta who wrote me three times because he was dumbfounded that I didn't respond to his emails ("I am surprised you did not write me back. Not to be cocky at all, but I get so many nice compliments about my profile. I would of thought you would of found it very appealing."). I could tell my lack of reply was making his head hurt, so I finally wrote back and explained why I wasn't interested.

I think that if I were not looking for a Christian whose faith is similar to mine, my Match experience would be very different and more positive. I'm ruling out all other faiths or lack thereof from the get-go--plus I generally will not respond to a man who indicates in his "My Date" section that he does not care what faith a prospective date is. I realize that may seem narrow, but if a man is willing to marry someone who doesn't share his faith then we believe different things about marriage and scripture. A lot of my e-mails back and forth with guys has been fleshing out their faith because in the South most people consider themselves a Christian, and it can mean anything from "I was raised by Baptist parents but have never personally practiced any religion" to "I'm a good person" (not what I'm looking for, btw) to "holy roller."

Of course, faith and religion are better discussed in person, and e-mail only makes the exchange of belief more cumbersome. But most of the guys I'm corresponding with live in ATL, Nashville, or Knoxville, so it's not like we can just grab a cup of coffee and chat. So in short, if you're fairly open and not looking for someone as specific as I am (you know, a Christian faith like mine, 28-37, athletic/fit, playful, preferably really tall, educated, decent writer, funny, intelligent, and so forth) then I'd recommend Match. And really, what can it hurt? One month costs $22, and there's a few guys I'd consider meeting. One has asked to take me out, but I'm sort of dragging my feet. I think I just need to make myself do it. It's hard to get excited about someone on a computer screen, I guess.

In other news, I made cupcakes tonight for a friend's birthday. I used a Betty Crocker fudge chocolate box mix because I worked late, and I must say....from scratch is really better than this box mix. The peanut butter frosting was yummy (Cream 1 cup of creamy Jif with a stick of butter; slowly add 2 1/2 cups of powdered sugar; at the end add about 3 tablespoons of milk or cream).

p.s. I am SO thankful for the sunshine today...and that I have a job where I can put on my running clothes at 3:45 and go for a 4 mile run. My boss didn't even blink when I came in covered in sweat; he just started telling me about some research he needs.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Really really wanna zigazig ha.

This was a fun exercise to get my mind working this rainy Monday morning. Hope your day is off to a more productive start!

I am…glad the sun came out for two hours late yesterday.
I think…more than I should about things I shouldn’t and probably less than I should about other things.
I know…that I have a ridiculously easy and blessed life.
I want…more despite that knowledge.
I have…a lot of recipes I want to try.
I wish…I had a trust fund and could just volunteer, bake, read, write, send people packages, and do whatever else strikes my fancy.
I hate…how broken and sinful we are.
I miss…having a best friend who lives in the same place I do.
I fear…that God’s plan might be really different from mine and that I might not like it.
I feel…relatively content.
I hear…traffic.
I smell…my gum.
I regret...very little if anything.
I love…my nieces.
I care…almost inexplicably for some people.
I always…have more ideas.
I am not…perfect.
I believe…in miracles.
I dance…poorly and infrequently.
I sing…a lot despite a severe lack of talent.

I write…some of my prayers in my journal.
I win...word games a lot.
I lose…patience with adults more than I wish I did.
I never…want to be depressed again..
I listen…half-heartedly sometimes.
I can usually be found…multi-tasking.
I’m scared of…roaches.
I read…too much on the internet.
I forget…a lot, which is why I take notes.
I just…want what I want when I want it.
I am happy about…the fact that spring weather has to almost be here.

Feel free to do this meme I found on Sparkel's blog.

p.s. I'm grateful for my friend's birthday party at the skating rink this Saturday. So excited!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

"I'm on a mission, you better just listen"

TC's comment as to whether Oliver and I are stuck at friends reminded me that I hadn't really updated the blog-world about that situation. And really there's not that much to say, although I guess my close friends have perhaps heard otherwise from me at times. So the bottom line is that there's been no discussion between Oliver and me about dating. We don't hang out as much as we did pre-dating (which was a lot) but see each other/e-mail/talk regularly.

I realized a few weeks ago that I was harboring some bitterness toward Oliver (and God) about the entire situation, wondering why Oliver ever asked me out; why I felt a peace about dating him when it wasn't going to work out; what changed in the week between "I want to pursue you" and lets not date; what am I suppose to learn from this and how is God using it for my good, etc. And I also have had a strong intuition that Oliver wasn't being completely honest with me, which I think bothered me even more because we were friends--not just two random people who dated for 5 weeks. And I found out last weekend (from a mutual friend who flat-out asked him what happened on his trip home) that my intuition was correct and that there was more to the story than he shared with me. While I wish he had been completely honest with me, I'm sort of relieved that my intuition was spot-on and that I know the truth and now feel more free to let it go (and not wonder what piece of the puzzle I might be missing). And I feel a bit lame that I'm still talking about a guy I dated for like a month.

Asides: I hate it when men write on their Match profiles that they are looking for a "princess" or "someone to spoil." Should I reply to a man who has a cat....and has several profile photos that include said cat? Otherwise he seems great (well except for that one other photograph...which include him and a corvette).

And here's the link for yummy chocolate cupcakes (I only did parts 1 and 2 and added crushed up Hershey's bars instead of semi-sweet chips) and Oreo cream cheese frosting.

p.s. I'm grateful that rainy weather feels like permission to lounge around more than usual. See I'm trying to find an upside to the no-sunshine forecast.....And yeah, it's FRIDAY!!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Yo, VIP, Let's kick it

So just as I was crawling out of my funk, I managed to get sick. BUT not before I spent almost five sunshine-filled hours in the park on Saturday, grilling hot dogs/brats and playing kickball. And I tried two new yummy recipes....chocolate cupcakes with Oreo cream cheese frosting.

My nasty cough is fortunately fading, and I haven't had a non-stop coughing fit since Monday night. You know it's bad when you're sore from coughing. Unfortunately the excessive coughing does not seem to have resulted in more defined abs....I'm sure the box of Samoas didn't help, but I was too sick to go buy proper meals....

Random updates:

I'm going on my first mission trip this summer. Our group, which includes a handful from my church, will visit a small village in Nicaragua for a week; last year the group built a roof for the church, helped plan/participate in worship services, loved on and played with children, and provided/cooked meals. We're meeting this Sunday to begin planning what we'll be doing this summer; it mainly depends on what the village's most pressing needs are (as well as the skills of the members of our team). I booked my flight for a week earlier than the rest of the group and have found a Spanish school that can provide me with a tutor who can teach me the vocabulary, etc. for whatever I'll be doing (i.e. construction, medical, etc.) and teach me about the history and culture of Nicaragua. My Spanish is very rusty, but I think four hours/day for a week will help bring me up to speed so I can avoid using a translator.

I have two more weeks of a one month membership on Match. Nothing exciting to report. I'm probably too narrow, but why would a grown man write "how r u?" in an e-mail? Regardless of how great his profile seems, I just can't get over that lame initial impression. I'm trying to talk myself into being willing to meet a guy who is a vegetarian. Fortunately there is one guy I'm corresponding with who I might actually want to meet (without mental self-coercion), and AM he's from Chi-town.

p.s. I'm grateful for the extra hour of daylight after work. I have more energy already.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Sugar is Sweet

I've gotten back into the swing of baking. I've discovered some ridiculous blogs with delicious recipes that I MUST try. My nieces and I made yummy strawberry cupcakes with strawberry frosting for Valentine's, using my former secretary's recipe; I think it's just about as good as it's going to get for a strawberry/strawberry combo. Therein lies the issue: even a fantastic strawberry cupcake cannot compete with chocolate, white chocolate, or peanut butter. To mix it up and try more new stuff, I dipped some of the cupcakes (and some marshmallows and strawberries) in chocolate and white chocolate. My nieces thought that was fun, and it was pretty good to eat too. I also tore up some cupcakes, mixed them with frosting to make a ball, chilled, and then dipped in chocolate to make cake truffles. I didn't measure anything, and they were too moist; but it's a fun idea to try some other time.

I've also recently tried another new frosting recipe--a basic chocolate ganache but with powdered sugar and butter. Unfortunately the sugar wasn't enough to outweigh the bitterness of the Ghiradelli bittersweet (dark) chocolate, so I wasn't a huge fan (although I still managed to eat a few). I paired it with a butter cupcake, which was yummy and straight out of a Betty Crocker box. My friends who are regular dark chocolate eaters really liked them.

Now I'm looking for my next adventure. Oh side note: don't eat frosting, cake mix, and a few cupcakes and then go to the gym to do a high intensity interval workout (read: sprinting as fast as you can). I felt so lucky to get out of the gym without getting sick. It must be my advancing years and/or sprinting because I've always been able to go running after eating most anything. Speaking of working out, if you're into fitness, check out my new favorite blog: Fitness Black Book. I could really do without the scantily clad and tacky model images; otherwise the site has been helpful in giving me some new ideas insofar as my workouts.

My snow day was well used. I spent a few hours at Starbucks, reading Scripture and doing part of a Bible study and praying (I know that sounds weird to do at Starbucks, but sometimes I write my prayers out and somehow often focus better in a coffeehouse than at home). Later I passed on the gym and spent some more time reading the Bible--and not just reading chapter after chapter but instead really spending a lot of time in chapter 5 of Galatians. I'm going to read it every day this week and meditate on it instead of just reading it and moving on.

In short, my winter funk is reminding me of how much I need the Lord and how I need to press in even when I don't want to....

p.s. I'm thankful for my coworker who brought back a dozen cupcakes from my favorite cupcake bakery in Nashville today! Very sweet of her and a lovely surprise. I only ate 2 and a 1/2, and this time it didn't ruin my workout afterward :)

Snow Day

Last night I decided that today would be a "snow day" for me, meaning an unexpected day off from work (since there is absolutely no snow in Chattanooga). Yesterday was a hard day. I didn't want to go to church but made myself, largely because I was supposed to go out to lunch with some friends (and their brother and sister-in-law who were visiting) afterward and a little because I knew I needed to go.

My heart is so fickle. I spent Friday night, Saturday morning, and Sunday night at "Inquirers Fellowship" at my church, which is a series of classes you have to attend before joining our church. As I sat in the class Saturday morning, I was so glad to be in the Word and learning more about God. But I had a conversation Saturday afternoon that reminded me that I was pretty irritated with God and how fallen the world is. It's silly, but hearing how another "strong Christian guy" mistreated one of my friends in a dating relationship just made me mad at God and how hard relationships are. And then I realized that I had developed some expectations of God because I've been "so good" in the dating arena. Yuck.

Saturday night was suppose to be a fun night with my neighbor and Oliver, but it ended up being not fun and a lot of serious conversation (about my neighbor's struggles). I think it made my "funk" even deeper--in part because we only talked about my neighbor, and I felt very unloved--as if neither of them care about what is going on with me (as neither asked me anything about me) and that feeling reminded me of how selfish and self-centered I am. And then I realized that I really need a best friend in Chattanooga. I'm blessed with some great friends here but not a go-to best friend, and I miss that and need it.

But more than that I need my heart to be softened to the Lord and to spend some time with Him. So today I'm resting, spending time in prayer and the Word, and enjoying the "snow."

p.s. I'm grateful for the latte I will soon be enjoying and job flexibility.