The Best First Date Ever

After I got into what I thought to be the ugliest car, ever

I resumed nervous first date girlitude. I’d only once been alone in a car with a guy on the first date. I didn’t even know what to do or say. So I just sat there with my hands clutching my tiny purse, wishing I had taken a shot of vodka before jetting out the door.

The Grown Up (<—start the story here) was quite curious about my impression of his car, and I just laughed a little and told him I never thought I’d sit in a Mini Cooper. See? I could be tactful. We made polite conversation (small talk, really) during the twenty-five minutes it took to get to the restaurant.

TGU: Have you ever had Indian food?

Me: No. Well, sort of? Does chicken tikka masala from a fast food joint in London count?

Honestly, even with my near-idydic memory, I think I blocked out most of the car ride because I was so nervous. But I know conversation was relatively easy. We shared the floor, switching back and forth with questions and answers that were simple, but not entirely trite.

THE BEST DATE EVER

When we arrived at the restaurant, I stepped out of the car into the winter chill without a coat on, and The Grown Up commented on my insanity. I proudly professed my hatred of coats, and that I was a Chicago girl through and through. I strutted to the restaurant quickly in my heels, showing off my graceful stride and praying to all the things that I didn’t trip and fall. We stepped inside, hit with the aroma of curry and other spices.

I had previously browsed the menu for a good 45 minutes to get an idea of what I would order, and there was a spicy prawns in sauce dish with my name on it. I couldn’t let him see what a terrible decision maker I was on the first date!

We were seated at the farthest booth, directly next to the kitchen, which can sometimes be detrimental to conversation. Fortunately, this was not the case. The booths were secluded, closed off with ornately decorated, gold dividers. The seats were round benches that wrapped entirely around three sides of the table. Very romantic.

Basically, it was really fancy for a first date. Thoughtful. Classic. Elegant. Exciting. Everything that the boys I previously went out with were not. Things were looking up for the Mini-Cooper-driving Grown Up.

We slid into our respective sides of the booth, both sitting near the corners of the table, unsure whether to sit across from each other or next to each other. The hostess handed The Grown Up a wine menu and placed two dinner menus in front of us.

I was all set to take drink cues from The Grown Up, and he suggested wine. I was down. I told him I was a red girl, and he was a white guy (ba dum bum bump), so we opted for glasses of wine instead of a bottle. I chose a Pinot Noir and he opted for a Riesling. When the bartender arrived with our drinks, he stereotypically handed me the white wine and The Grown Up the red. We had a good laugh and switched glasses.

We ordered a giant platter of deep-fried…stuff…mystery vegetables and meats that were absolutely delicious. As we noshed on appetizers, we chatted about very-non-first-date topics. We talked about people and perception and personalities. The Grown Up got REALLY excited about these things, and spent more than a few minutes explaining one of his theories on how we perceive people.

The Grown Up’s theory: When we look at a person, we think “You’re like me, only different,” and so each person’s perception of another stems from their similarities to themselves…even if that’s not really the case. So someone like me, who is an introverted extrovert, sees people as equal parts social and shy and evaluates the differences from there.

His theories resonated with me. They were provocative, but real. I was fascinated and energized by his ideas and the stimulating conversation. This was so much more than a boring date in which we discuss favorites and musical tastes and our jobs. As his previous chat messages had suggested…he was INTERESTING.

Hearts

We each had another glass of wine, and the conversation, like the vino, flowed so easily. I hate to be so cliche, but it was as if I had known him forever. He actually apologized for his rant. (Wait? Rant? Apparently that’s what he called his long-winded discussion about people and psychology or sociology…one of the ologies. I thought it was wonderful.) I spoke of the horrors of student teaching, and we even talked about dating. There was plenty of laughter and with each giggle, we scooted closer to each other in the booth.

By the end of the dinner, we were practically touching. I didn’t want the date to end.

Apparently, neither did The Grown Up. He had previously determined a second location should the evening be going well, so we made our way to a nearby Irish pub for another round of drinks. It was here that he asked my most-despised question.

“Why are you single?”

Why, oh why, do people ask this? It’s like a fucking interrogation. Luckily I had prepared myself for this inquiry because I was sick to death of it. Dating is a lot like interviewing. So I was ready with answers to commonly asked questions. I pulled from my beloved Bridget Jones.

“Well, aside from the fact that underneath my clothes, my body is covered in scales…”

“Wait, really?”

“Ugh. No.”

“I just really hate that question. But mostly it’s because I’m super fucking picky. I’m not going to jump in a relationship just to be in a relationship. That’s stupid. I just haven’t found the right guy yet. Why are YOU single?”

“Uhhh…same.”

Whoops. I think I made shit awkward. Whatever. He’ll get over it. Or not.

From there, the conversation slowly returned to the gentle flow that we had for most of the night. The Grown Up was a genuine good guy. I was crushing HARD. I think he was too. It just seemed so…easy. The night was winding down, and he had to work the next morning, so we paid the bill and left the bar around 11. I still didn’t want the night to end…but did he?

You’ll have to wait until next week to find out!

What’s the best first date that you’ve ever been on? Or the worst first date? I’m easy and obviously love a good story.

The story continues below…

Tonight and the rest of my life

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

BlogHer Conference: Not Just for Mommy Bloggers

I recently discovered that BlogHer in the media is labeled as the biggest mom-blogger conference in the country.

This is news to me. As a second-year attendee, with no children to speak of, it really bothers me.

BlogHer is an all-encompassing conference for people who blog. Men. Women. Parents. Writers. Humorists. Storytellers. Young. Old. Gay. Straight. We are unified by our desire to write and to share our stories.

Sure the HER part of BlogHer makes it a conference comprised of mostly women, but men are welcome and WELCOMED.

So here’s my wrap-up. The good, the bad and the ugly. But I gained so much more immediately following this conference than what I thought I got out of BlogHer13.

I didn’t go for the speakers or the sessions…though Jenny Lawson was fabulous, some of the things Kerry Washington  had to say resonated with me, and I learned some valuable information about publication.

I didn’t go for the swag…though I was happy to add to my board game collection thanks to Chuck E Cheese, Skype blew it out of the park with branded stuff my co-workers may be a bit jealous of, and I’m pretty excited (Read: OMG had a freakout in the hallway with another ginger blogger) about trying out the new Keurig when it comes out.

I went for the people.

The writers, the women, the friends that I’ve made in the blogosphere and the people I met on our Californiadventure. I was lucky to have met a fantastic group of women from around the world before I even made it to BlogHer, so I went into the conference with a beautiful group of new friends. I got to hang out with Joules again and Jenny (my bestie’s adorable and wonderful SIL) and so many others that I met last year (I loved that so many of us kept bumping into each other)!

I met the AMAZING Lillian Connelly finally. She was my first fan that wasn’t obligated by friendship or blood to like me. And she was my first blog friend to really welcome me into this digital community. I also met a large group of women that I spend a lot time reading and interacting with on the Book of Face. We had dinner/snacks/drinks before the closing party and they were all ABSOLUTELY wonderful. And hysterical.

Selfie with Lily

Selfie with Lily

The brands, connections and companies that help me keep this blog running. Networking with businesses that fit with my brand of crazy and meeting writers and social media mavens who offer advice, experience and contacts was an unexpected highlight of my first conference and definitely something I found yet again. You never know who you’re going to sit next to at breakfast or run into at a party.

It was awesome to hang out with my hosting company, DreamHost. Because they. Are. Awesome.

It was awesome to hang out with my hosting company, DreamHost. Because they. Are. Awesome. (Shameless plug: if you use my affiliate code, QuirkyHost, you can save $10 on a one- or two-year contract.)

On tribes, cliques and cool kids

I am lucky enough to have several groups of blog friends. I am a part of groups and tribes. But I don’t think that any one group was the be all end all of this conference. I think they were all unbelievable and better in real life than ever I imagined. I bounced around as I tend to do, flitting from event to group hangout to solo time to a little one-on-one with my honey. And still I missed whole groups of people that I wanted to spend time with.

The best part, though, is that every group I sat down in, every person I talked to, every cool kid table I moseyed my way into was cool. I learned from veterans and educated newbies. Some saw me as a relative newbie while others looked to me for advice and acceptance. But as Aussa Lorens mentioned, there’s always that .8% of people who aren’t quite as awesome. My .8% happened to be a single person who reminded me of my grandmother-though not in a bad way at all-(her personality, the way she spoke, her love of sparkly things), assumed I was a plus-size fashion blogger before even making eye-contact with me or shaking my hand, and didn’t want to exchange business cards with anyone who wasn’t a fashion blogger. But she may have been nervous. Or annoyed at the session we were in. Or having a bad day. So I don’t fault her.

Every group seemed like the “cool kids”  and almost every time they welcomed me with open arms. It was lovely.

On the expo hall, sessions, food, and parties

While the expo hall was smaller this year than last, I felt as though I didn’t have enough time to navigate to all the places I wanted to. Sure, there wasn’t as much swag free-flowing, but I feel like I made better connections with brands that I really want to work with.

The sessions were MUCH longer than last year, and thus less to my liking. I would rather have more options, and less lengthy panels with a lot of information that isn’t relevant to me. The publishing session offered a lot of information, but I think it could have been broken down into separate sessions about the different ways to publish. I made it to the style session, but it didn’t really seem to be what I thought it was, so I bounced.

The conference food was okay. I didn’t starve this time. I’m REALLY glad I’m not gluten-free this year (though I have found I feel a little better when I avoid bread and potatoes) because everything was all the bread.

Yoga and wine. At the same time.

Yoga and wine. At the same time.

The parties that I did attend were great. Eppa and One2One threw a killer yoga and sangria party. Keurig fed me the most delicious breakfast complete with Kcup coffee from the new Keurig 2.0. I also attended a beautiful and powerful panel discussing late-stage breast cancer. I tried to get into the suite parties, but they were SO crowded that I just. couldn’t. do it. Plus Brian was with me (and actually up for partying) so I couldn’t not find a less-crowded spot to hang. We met up with the lovely Joules from Pocketful of Joules and a few other ladies for karaoke and Twisted Shotz. All. The. Shotz.

Don’t worry. I’ll share the karaoke video at some point.

I was a little disappointed in the lack of a swag drop/exchange on Saturday night/Sunday when I was packing up my swag and found a few items that weren’t super relevant to me. I had no place to drop them off to be donated or snagged by someone who WOULD use them. Bummer.

On candy in a pill bottle

One of the brands at BlogHer was giving out swag with Red Hots inside of a prescription bottle with a label designed to make adults laugh. I was unlucky enough to miss this before they shut down the “drug ring.” Because this brand was a company that produces baby products, the media blew up with the mom-blogger conference sponsor that did a bad thing.

While I don’t have children (thus likely discounting my opinion, apparently), I don’t think the company made a huge mistake. First, no one complained last year when a pharmacy gave out all the drugs. Actual drugs. Because those were for grown ups. I’m pretty sure the Red Hots were for grown ups too. The swag here isn’t all for toddlers to play with.

Second, when I was about 8 or 9, I used to play with candies (usually Pez) as “pills” in used prescription bottles, while smoking my gum and powdered sugar cigarettes and swiping Mom’s expired credit cards to purchase used lotto tickets while playing bartender. Granted, I was old enough to know the difference between play and real. Maybe you think poorly of me. Or my parents. But I turned out to be a successful, smart, independent woman who never ODed on pills, picked up a smoking habit or gambled my way into Gamblers’ Anonymous.

In the same token, I don’t think poorly of the parents who disliked the swag. That’s their prerogative.

But in the end, I was a little sad I didn’t get a bottle of laughter medicine.

Thankfully, I surrounded myself with BlogHers who made me laugh.

Did you go to BlogHer? Have you been to BlogHer? Would you go to BlogHer next year? Have you been to a conference similar to this? What experiences did/would you hope to have at a conference of this magnitude?

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!