Crushes History, or, Crushtory (If You Will) Part 1

Before actually entering (a more accurate description here would be pushed into the deep, dark pool of) the dating scene, I only had a few crushes. But the few that I had basically took over my life. It was like being in reciprocated love—the highs when we were together—with a sucker punch of Just-Kidding-you’re-a-crazy-bitch.

Let’s jump back through the time portal.

A few crushes here and there in Junior High and High School which were mostly me slapping a face onto my “ideal man.” Actually, it was me vomiting idyllic projections onto the guy without him knowing. Stalking Admiring from afar.

Give me this instead. I know exactly what to do…

But in college, boy did I wise up. Actual dating seemed weird to me my first two years of college. You didn’t even know them, how would that interaction even happen? “Hi, uh, I think you’re gorgeous so on the off chance that you have an awesome personality, let’s subject ourselves to an hour and a half of maybe-good conversation”? What if you don’t click at all? Then it’s going to be awkward the next time you see each other around campus. “That’s the girl I almost had a thing for. Thank god I found out she’s crazy…”

So, I friendzoned myself. All the time, with a side of Creepy.

That’s a step up, right? Going from admiring from a distance to actually talking to them? I think I deserve a gold medal. It’s not like I have to tell them I liked them. They’re going to fall for me first! … publicly… !

Mario and I met where any other couple meets: the badminton courts. If you’ve ever wanted to climb up the social ladder, I suggest you not look towards badminton. If you wanted a good recommendation for grad school, however…

He caught my attention because he was the first normal-looking white guy I’ve ever seen on the courts.  Usually it’s nerds of all colors in the yellow-brown family. But I dismissed him immediately because he was attractive. In my experience, attractive guys provide the least stimulating conversation.

During this time, it was my Lost Years at the university so I was jonesing for some close friends. Around the time I met Mario, I met Jonie, who was petite and fiery. We clicked on and off the court and were soon inseparable.The three of us traveled to tournaments together, stayed in hotel rooms together, and went out at night together. I wasn’t 21 at the time, so I was the Super Baby of the group.

My love for him grew. But I refused to hang out alone with him. Guys had to make the first move and at least I was getting SOME airtime with him, right? The fact that they hung out without me meant nothing.

A comic strip has never described my love life so well...

The one time we hung out it was at a dive bar indie concert. And it was clearly not a date, although I did treat it like one. I got a little too tipsy on pre-mixed margarita, stood awkwardly while I waited for him to pay cover (not part of the plan, but I made it so), and then bought him donuts afterward. I felt bad, so I paid him back during the ride home.

I was getting desperate because I knew Jonie, my only connection to Mario, was moving away at the end of that year. And Mario? He was graduating soon. But that didn’t matter as much because without Jonie, there was nothing.

So it continued. Nothing. Nothing. Something? Nothing.

Soon, it was summer and whatever small momentum we had was lost.

Anytime anyone asks me about what happened, I get snappy. And they’re confused because everything happened in my head. 

Mom: So, what happened to that Mario guy? Is he still on campus?
Me: I think he left. (Actually he didn’t, but explaining why we haven’t hung out is worse)
Mom: He left without saying goodbye?! I thought you guys were friends.
Me: HE’S JUST LIKE THAT, MA. Pull into McDonalds right now.

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The Fine Line Between Friendly and Creepy

We (hopefully) are all aware that there is a fine line between friendly and creepy when you’re first getting to know someone, be it as friends or as something more.

what we see when you're doing something wrong

A lot of it has to do with whether you dig the person or not. Has anyone seen the recent episodes of How I Met Your Mother? Well, in one of them, Ted hooks up with this chick who actually did stalkerish things to get him. The group decided that if you’re into whoever’s doing these stalker deeds (stalkereeds?), it doesn’t seem creepy at all, but sweet. However, if you’re not into them, then it comes off REALLY creepy.

Dr. Nerdlove agrees:

If a woman (or a man, for that matter) is attracted to someone, she is more likely to feel comfortable with them and more willing to accept certain behaviors… that is, her boundaries may be different for this person. This doesn’t mean that attraction is an all-encompasing passport to do whatever you want; just because somebody’s boundaries may be relaxed in certain areas doesn’t mean that they no longer exist. It’s very easy to shut down another person’s attraction to you in an instant, whether it’s by being an asshole, saying something rude or inconsiderate, or pushing at her boundaries.

Hear that, boys? This explains why we suddenly pull back someone even when we were feeling the vibe just a few moments ago. Don’t keep pushing at those boundaries. And don’t think that just because we agreed to hang out with you more than once that we’re committed for a real try. Especially when we’ve just met.

Now, I’m usually pretty open to people. I’m a friendly person. But if you’re pushing for more than friendship, my standards will go up for you. I have standards for friends, yes, but they’re even higher for people I would date. Most people, if they’re not douchebags, have an either/or clause.

Either you’re extremely attractive or your personality is the bomb. 

Now, these are the bare minimums for me. Like, friends-with-benefits bare minimums. Usually, I’d rather you less attractive but with an awesome personality. I’ve found that really attractive people usually haven’t needed an amazing personality because of their looks, so they haven’t been able to cultivate it yet.

I’m sorry for throwing all those generalizations out there. But in my experience, it’s true. I’m not saying it’s an end-all.

For me, I label someone as creepy and/or undateable if:

  • they don’t know how to converse
  • they seem really desperate
  • they don’t have a sense of humor

Conversation is a big one. Unless I just met you randomly at a party and we’re ready to get it on, people usually like other people they can talk with. For an extensive amount of time. In conversation, be interested but not so interested that everything you say is a GODDAMN QUESTION. That’s just strange. I want to hear your opinions too. I know dating conversation is different than normal conversation because it’s more about getting to know the other person rather than commenting on something together (the majority of the type of conversations I have with friends), so just try your best to have a balanced two-way information share session.

Don’t talk about yourself too much, because that just shows me you’re not that interested in me, you’re just interested in stroking your ego. Look into the person’s eyes.

Catch conversational nuances, like tone… 

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Buying and Cooking for One

EGGS

Eggs are a staple for college students. I once ate scrambled eggs for dinner and no, it wasn’t part of a weight-loss strategy although it was a pleasant side effect. In fact, as meals go for college students, that’s considered putting effort into a meal. I mean, I had to light the stovetop and everything!

After coming back from the foodtopia that was winter break and my mom’s cooking, I was used to the unlimited variety of food that magically spring up on the dinner table. I’m onto you, mom. At the end of last semester, my first semester of living off-campus, I felt wholly capable of putting something together quickly that people would loosely refer to as food. Call it an effect of my New Year Resolutions, but I wasn’t satisfied with the 5 meals I rotated throughout the semester.

Just a glimpse of my kitchen prowess:

  • Mac n’ Cheese (a comfort food staple in our household. During finals week, our house was making this every day of the week)
  • Salad
  • Grilled cheese (are we seeing a theme yet?)
  • Canned soup
  • Scrambled Eggs
  • Spaghetti

Maybe I lied about 5 meals. I had 6! And here I was thinking I was completely incapable.

As you can expect, I got pretty bored of my meals by the end of last semester. So what did I do? Not the healthy thing, that’s for sure. You can always bet that my likelihood of choosing a bad decision is indirectly related to how healthy the alternative is. Instead of looking up new recipes to try for myself, I basically ordered delivery three times a week, which they make so easy here by compiling all restaurants on one website for ordering online.

Not only was that cost-ineffective, I gained mad weight (see New Year Resolutions). So I decided to cook one new recipe every single week.

But how could I satisfy my taste for variety, my budget, and my weight loss goals? Not to mention, the fact that I’m still a full-time student.

The key to all these is versatility

Yes, if you start from scratch (that means no stealing from your parents’ ingredient supply), it can seem financially daunting for frequently used spices such as cinnamon, cumin, and garlic salt. Secondly, if you have too much variety—I call this overambitious—you’ll drain all your money buying all different kinds of ingredients for the 50 recipes you’re tackling that week.

Remember, as it is with weight loss, you must start small to be able to change and stay on top of things.

So, versatility. If one of your big new recipes you decide to try that week calls for chicken breast, make sure you have other uses for the chicken breast! For example, this week, I’m going to try this Orange Chicken recipe and halving everything because although sometimes I do feel like I have 4 mouths to feed (my appetite), I don’t. Usually, it’s cheaper to buy things in larger sizes, but when cooking for yourself, you may find yourself wasting the rest of your food if you don’t know how else to use it. So, with the leftover chicken breast, I would put them on top of salads or make some chicken stir-fry.

Once, I had a hardcore craving for the pre-cooked Rotisserie Chicken that Meijer sells, so I went ahead and bought it because I knew there were so many other uses for the chicken! The legs and thighs I ate normally because that dark meat is just that good. But the breast I used for the Buffalo Chicken tacos!

shopping
Don’t let your cart look like this!

This goes with bread and fresh produce items as well. Sure, those pita pocket things look great, but can you use them for more than one thing? Use something more versatile, like tortillas or wraps. Those, you can make with tacos, quesadillas, sandwich wraps, breakfast burritos… you get my gist. And the salad packs of mixed greens? Sure, if you like eating salad 24/7. Most people don’t. And the people who do are weight-conscious and either have no time or have no clue how else to eat healthily. Romaine, on the other hand, can be chopped thinly for tacos, or broken in halves for sandwich lettuce!

Having multiple uses for one item also scales down that number at the bottom of your receipt. You are welcome ;)

Versatility. 

Another thing is, don’t waste your time! That doesn’t mean to only look for meals that take 10 minutes or less, but to make the most meal out of your time cooking it. If you’re going to cook, it may as well last for a few meals. So, instead of cooking in single portions, go ahead and make the recipe that serves 2-3. Tupperware those for later in the week. This will spice up the variety and, if you’re in one of those EAT EVERYTHING IN SIGHT moods, this will help restrain you from diving for the delivery guy’s number. And not because he’s hot.

When you’re just starting out, make sure you have some staples to throw together when you realize that you don’t have as much time as you thought. My staples include a salad, sandwich, soup, or leftovers. See? Easy items for when you just can’t bother.

As for the ingredients that you just don’t have lying around in your pantry, don’t worry about breaking bank (which sounds like a name-parody of Breaking Bad for a cooking/finance show). Buy them one at a time. A few here, a few there, all while staying within your budget. This totally corresponds to your slow start into the cooking world. Tackle easier recipes first, ones that call for less ingredients than the fancier ones. In no time, you’ll find that you have all the spices you need!

“Cooking for one” can be such a downer term, but it’s actually really fun. I found that I could have restaurant-esque food at my fingertips and have more satisfaction in the cooking process! It’s easier to watch what you eat as well if you eat out less and you have more control of your portions and the amount of fat you put into your diet.

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Your Worst Enemy When Living Alone

Recently, my aunt, who lives 10 minutes away us, left for an indeterminate amount of time to visit my grandparents a few states away.

Of course, being a 20 year old, I pounced at the opportunity and moved in. I should start practicing for my future, anyways—I don’t want to be thrown into that wild world without some practice.

Anyways, that night, I realized something elemental: I was alone in a huge house. At night. I never noticed how large her house was until it grew that night; each room suddenly erupted with countless hiding spots for murderers and inbred swine.

After having been here a few nights, I’ve learned that your imagination isn’t the worst thing working against you when living alone. Your worst enemy when living alone is your memory.

That moment when you notice a light on or a basement door open and you can’t remember if you were the one who did it. THAT is a truly terrifying moment. It will stay on your mind until you either remember that you did it or created a fake memory to convince you otherwise.

Which is what I did today.

I passed by the walk-in closet in the master bedroom today and realized that the light was on.

Freezing, I turned and looked in the closet, as if the answer lay between the coat and the blazer.

Shaking my head, I just flipped the light switch off, which was thankfully outside the closet, and walked away perturbed.

Mom must’ve come back to check up on me, and when she didn’t find me, she looked in the closet and forgot to turn off the lights. 

The switch must’ve been in the halfway position and suddenly chose a side.

Those weren’t even some of the worst ones.

I must’ve accidentally hit it with my elbow or something when walking by earlier. Yeah, that’s sounds about right.

My cat must’ve jumped down from that 10-foot shelf and bumped it on the way down.

30 minutes later, I still couldn’t shake the confusion off, which was made worse by the pounding at the door. It was the neighboring children, which may or may not have been scarier than anything I imagined.

Only until I remembered that my brother had been here earlier looking for some clothes in that exact closet, did I breathe a sigh of relief.

Until I saw the open garage door that I remembered closing.

I probably shouldn’t have searched “living alone scary” in Google images after sunset…