Introverted In The City

Saturday was just one of those days. Laying in bed with a will to do nothing, I turned over quite a few times before rousing from the covers. Although I didn’t want to go out, Saturday is really my only day to do so since Sundays are church days. Though I don’t like being out on weekends, the other option would be to work on weekends. Since doing so is asking to be in the 8th circle of hell, the much better alternative is to take weekends off.

I don’t know why I keep telling myself that I’m going to the art museum on my days off, because I never manage to get my behind there. Today was no different. Instead, I took a side trip to the Farmacy, my favourite brunch spot located in University City.

The gray sky and rain christened the already dreary day. It rained lightly at first, and I took care to walk around puddles to keep water from seeping into my non-rain boots. After getting off the el at 46th Street, I approached my destination after waiting through a procession of police cars, and steering myself past the tempting smell of a halal place (that’s next on my hit list; that salty-savory aroma was AMAZING). I stepped over the Rx on the step and into the threshold to one of my favourite places to hide.

Apparently, The Farmacy was just what the doctor ordered for that day.

It was warmer and considerably drier inside than out. The muted yellow, the plants that hang from baskets in various spots, and the 3 square mini skillets hanging on the wall makes the restaurant feel homey. Also, the intimate size of the space made it feel cozy. It wasn’t quite as busy as the last time I was there, which was months ago.

Songs that I heard when I was growing up blasted from the kitchen, and I sang to most of them. I ordered the huevos rancheros on this particular day. I’ve had huevos rancheros before and like it, but I’ve not tried it here. Every place makes common dishes like that differently; therefore I was anxious to try it at my favorite spot.

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“Now that’s impressive”, the waitress exclaimed when she saw how clean the skillet was. I laughed from embarrassment. I had done all but lick the skillet, and that’s only because I kept myself from doing so. “That’s all right; I did that the first time I had it, too”. A runnier yolk would’ve been nice, but I clearly had no problem with eating this interpretation of huevos rancheros. The duck fat potatoes in the bottom sealed the deal for me. They also helped me clean the skillet at the end.

After enjoying some bacon, I left brunch to wander around University City. I ducked in and out of a couple of shops, then ventured to Center City area to go to Reading Terminal Market. I started a bit because of the volume of people in the place. It’s nowhere near as crowded in the middle of the week unless you go during lunch. Even then, it doesn’t compare to the amount of bodies pushing through the seemingly narrow aisles. Maybe they only seemed narrow because my head was starting to spin and the loud crowd started getting mysteriously quieter.

It was then that I realized I was panicking. I never remember experiencing this feeling before although I manifest shyness and introverted tendencies. I had to quickly duck out of the fray. I found the shop where the spice corner had been, and ducked in.

What had just happened? Did I have a panic attack? Why? Part of me wondered if pushing through the bustle reminded me of the time I went “crowd surfing” in Times Square in NYC. I don’t mean the fun crowd surfing that happens when you’re above the crowd, being guided by a sea of hands.

What I call “crowd surfing” is when a large, protesting crowd crushes you in so that you can’t move, your feet leave the ground, and you are “carried” in whatever direction that crowd moves. It’s frightening because if your feet don’t get back onto the ground in a way where you’re holding yourself up, you can easily be trampled… and we know where that can lead to in a worst case scenario.

It was at this time that I decided to leave the market once I summoned the courage to leave the little shop. I thought about what had happened on the way home. Despite that incident, I love being in the city. I still love Center City Philly and I still love New York City.

Introverts and shy girls can totally make it in the city; just be true to yourself!

If you know your limit is eating & shopping for the day, stick to that! When it gets to be too much, retreat to the quiet spot in the city that you love. Also know when it’s time to get home and recharge… and don’t think something’s wrong with you for needing that. Cities are perfect for introverts because it’s okay if you’re a little offbeat. In a city, everyone’s offbeat… and somehow… it all harmonizes and makes something that we can’t stay away from, no matter how introverted we can be. I can be.

The “Getting Out There” Struggle

After emailing one of my best good friends back and forth, I had told her that I hadn’t been dating too much lately.

“What? Why aren’t you dating??” she replied in response.

So I had to think about it. Why wasn’t I dating? I was working a lot, but not so much that I couldn’t go on a date here and there. Truth be told, no one was asking. So what’s a girl to do? After talking with her on the phone about my (lack of a) love life, we decided that I should do something about that. “So what’s your plan of action?” she asked.

My mind raced. What do I say?? I was hoping it was one of those things that I could put on my “to do” list, but it ends up on the back burner. Being the guy shy, introverted soul that I am, me and dating don’t get along very well. Most guys tend to meet me at the time when the extravert in me shines through. Then, later on, I retreat back into myself wondering why a guy that hot could possibly want to talk to me. At this point, the guy probably thinks I’m uninterested when I’ve simply become shy once again… and he moves on and my feelings are hurt.

Not wanting to ignore the question completely, thus came this answer: “uhh… online dating?”

Why did I say that? I’ve been on dating sites before and have even paid for some. Sadly to say, there has been little to no success in finding someone that I like. I got a couple of creepers, a guy that insisted on talking to me on the phone, but spoke even less than I do, and one date to a bad chinese food place. In that last guy’s defense, he did talk a lot, but I was nowhere near interested in him. I think he was rambling nervously. I was nervous too, but I tend to be quiet when I’m nervous… so it was like the poor guy was talking to himself.

Yet… this is what I chose. Online dating is what I said, and online dating is what I shall do, I thought. Said friend was even awesome enough to send me a TED talk about a woman’s forays in the online dating world, and an article that had online profile tips. I employed some of these and, with her help, set up a profile that I could be proud of.

The first couple of days, I had over 20 visitors a day! Nice! I also got a few messages.

What could be the downside to this?

Well, despite the fact that my profile was getting a lot of views, nobody that I actually liked was answering me. Even after sending out a few messages, there was no response. One guy even told me flat out that he wasn’t interested, even though our percentage match was pretty high according to the site. Although I appreciate him not wasting my time, it still hurt to be turned down that quickly.

There was one guy that I actually did connect with and we exchanged numbers. We texted back and forth a lot and did one voice call. However, nothing ever came of it. He constantly asked for photos and always talked of wanting to kiss me. He mentioned it a lot, actually. What girl wants to hear that in every other text? So I stopped talking to him.

After still not getting any play from anyone that caught my interest, I decided to leave the site alone for about a week. Let’s not even mention the someone that I know in real life that keeps sending me messages on Facebook. The only time he engages in any real conversation is about having sex with me or getting me pregnant. I’m sure you can only imagine exactly how I feel about that. I’ll leave the real version of said sentiments to myself.

At this moment, I’ve accepted the fact that my eggs may end up hard boiled and cracked before I’ll get to have kids. People want to pretend that this is not in the realm of possibility, but it is. When I actually try, it just turns out badly… like a biscuit that’s overworked or has too much flour. Instead of looking like a wonderful and fluffy biscuit, it looks more like a glorified cookie (I’ve been there, trust me).

Dating is finicky and annoying; moreover, online dating simply feels unnatural and awkward. The only other option is to do it organically… what most refer to as the “old fashioned way”. It involves… actually talking to people! (eep)

At this point, the truth is inevitable… I can’t hide!

It feels a lot better to take a more indirect approach; to just try new things and get out more in general. Simply being “out and about” increases the odds of meeting people. As much as I’d like to meet a wonderful man, how about I just meet some friends? Meeting some new and interesting friends would be nice (not that I don’t love the ones that I have, mind you). Getting out more and being around different people would increase my confidence and, possibly, my being comfortable around people. And heck, I’d have more fun with my life than I’m having now.

It’s time to stop using my job and lack of funds as an excuse to not get out. Sometimes exhaustion sets in but, if I’m honest, I can find energy to go out. I’ve done it in the past, that’s for sure.

So the struggle continues…

all ye that know Him… pray for me.

50 First Dates?

I walked in from the biting cold of that Thursday night, and walked down the stairs to the lounge. Thankfully, the stairway was well lit; I was wearing heels and didn’t want to fall on my head because I missed a stair by walking down into a black hole. I went down to where I was supposed to check in only to discover that no one was ready to start the check-in process yet.

“Here I was thinking I was going to be late”, I thought to myself. Really, I had walked in right at the time registration was going to begin.

As I waited around for the event to start, I looked around the small check-in area. The walls are what caught my attention. There was a wallpaper on them with a quote that read “Illusion is the first of all pleasures.” This quote was written all over one of the walls in silver and deep purple.

There were a good 20 of us waiting around to register and check our coats. There was a great display of nervous behavior; shuffling of feet and looking either around without making real eye contact, or the intent studying of one’s shoes.

Finally, after a good 10 minutes of waiting that felt more like 20, we were allowed to check in. I got into the line, checked in, and checked my coat. I casually walked through the doorway that led into the lounge, which was adorned by a purple curtain and valance with gold fringe.

The lounge had gold and purple couches, and there was one alcove to the right with two couches on it with accent pillows. The lighting was low, and there was a raised area to the left with a large couch and a runway that was lit with tea candle lights. It was well-lit for a night that is conducive to romance and dating. This was, after all, a speed dating event.

I exchanged my little card given me at registration for libations. The bar maids were wearing corsets and drawers, and all I could think was that it was too cold for that. Never mind the fact that I had come in a mini dress.

I tipped her, talked to some of the girls at the bar, and recommended my drink to them. Several women had ordered the same drink. We were all instantly giggly and very friendly with one another. A guy had come up to talk to us, which was kind of cool. I like when a guy will just walk up and talk to you… mostly because I’m hopelessly shy and awkward under any circumstances given.

I ended up being seated at a love seat, and shared it with another young woman that I happened to meet at the bar. Two chairs were placed in front of us, and we waited a little bit more. I saw the guys being lined up, and I finally started to feel some nervousness. Up to the event and even when I got there, I wasn’t at all nervous. Once the guys were being guided to their first date, I started thinking “Oh crap…”

The rundown: 50 men, 3 minutes/man, 1 cocktail and a pen & paper to write down all the names of the men I was meeting. The only difference between me and the movie is that I wasn’t dating the same man 50 times.

Let the fun begin.

I’d be lying if I told you I remembered every single guy that I met, but I remembered the 1st one, the 2nd to last one, and a few of them in between.

The very 1st guy was a military man. He talked too much, but I think it was his nerves talking. I dared not interrupt his anxious ranting, but when I did have a question, I spoke. Soon enough, 3 minutes was up. We shook hands, and I was on to the next man. One man complimented my hair, and declared it the most unique style he has seen all night.

I told two guys to their face that I thought they were cute, had to pee somewhere around guy 10, but put on a brave face until we were given a break. One man asked for my phone number but didn’t give me his name (which was shady in retrospect), and one guy came off as a creeper. A couple of them made me laugh even without the buzz from the alcohol.

There was also the guy that was studying to be a sex therapist. Admittedly, that choice in vocation piqued my interest even though I wouldn’t consider him to be much in the looks department.

There were the guys that told me they were tired, nervous, had never done this before, had done this a few times before… and the ones that had unique names that were able to tell me the meaning of their names. The second to last guy was from either Portugal or Lithuania, and had such a name. He was attractive, and had a dreamy voice and accent. We shook hands when he went to move on, and we didn’t want to let go of each other’s hand.

It was this guy that I ended up making a match with. I’m sorry to say that, out of the 50 men I met that night, it was the only match that I made. However, I don’t think that the evening was a waste. It was something fun that I can say I did, it was my first time in a lounge, and I was completely comfortable, which was a miracle. I even found myself joking with most of them, asking if they had bought their resume along. They even played along with me.

Would I do it again? Absolutely! Even though it wasn’t directly on Valentine’s Day, I’m totally counting it as what I did. Although I only made one match, the experience was positive overall. I think the drink helped. I think it also helped that the creepers won’t get my information if I don’t check them off as guys I liked.

Cooking Fails

Well, let’s start the year with some cooking fails, shall we?

I know when I usually talk about the things that I cook, I’m usually talking about something delicious that I’ve made in the past, or I’m referring to a particularly delicious  meal. However, let’s just go on with some things that I’ve flubbed up, since that seems to be the theme of my week in cooking. It’s sad, but true. Even the best cooks mess it up sometimes.

Let’s start with the yogurt made with plant-based milk.

I have a yogurt maker that I haven’t used for a while, and I’ve been long toying with the idea of making a yogurt with coconut milk. The idea came to me at Trader Joe’s one day quite some time ago when I saw the cans of coconut milk on display. Well, when I paid a visit to Mom’s Organic Market in Bryn Mawr, I saw that they had yogurt starter culture, which I was unable to find at the natural/organic market closer to my house. I was very excited to see this! After having a morning that was particularly bad, I felt that a food experiment was in order. I grabbed some starter culture, and the requisite amount of milk.

I didn’t attempt to make the yogurt until Tuesday or Wednesday, however. I heated up the milk, waited until it cooled to the right temperature, then put in the starter culture. After I had felt that it adequately dissolved, it was distributed into the glass jars and placed in the yogurt maker overnight.

When I woke up in the morning and checked the yogurt maker, what I discovered was a far cry from the yogurt I expected. What greeted me looked more like the inside of a snow globe. “Maybe it needs more time”, I thought to myself. I set 6 more hours on the yogurt maker, and went to work. I came home, and it still didn’t turn out. I ended up wasting 5 c. of coconut milk and a package of starter culture. I think I know what happened and how to fix it next time, but it was still most disappointing.

Let’s also make mention of the unenjoyable grilled cheese from last night, and the hot chocolate that made me choke this morning. The only bit of encouragement I got was that my whipped cream game has improved.  I made whipped cream for the hot chocolate, and it was much sweeter and more firm compared to the last time I made it. Powdered sugar is much better for whipped cream than the granulated. Just a suggestion.

Although I had a couple of fails, I’m in no way fazed by this. I think my first mistake was trying to do at least 2 of these things while I was tired and incapable of thinking clearly. I think just not having worked with these things was also part of the problem. Whatever the reason, here’s hoping that this will not mean that I’ve lost my touch in any way, and will define my forays in the kitchen for the remainder of the year.

Happy New Year to me.

Faith in Humanity

There are many reasons not to have faith in people these days. Turn on the news (or watch your Facebook feed for long enough), or go to your regular job! We are bombarded with reasons to lose faith in people… to lose faith in the ability and willingness of people to be kind and to do something selfless for a change.

Then you have those days where one act changes how you feel about people altogether. This morning was one such day.

I was taking my daily run to my bus stop (the one I take when I leave the house much later than I should), and got there only a few minutes before the bus was due to pass through. I stood there with sweat down my back, trying to catch my breath. Meanwhile, an older woman was pulling out of the gas station where my bus stop is. I moved out of the way, only to see her roll down her window, and motion for me to come over.

Thinking that maybe she needed directions, I cautiously walked over with that in mind.

What actually ended up happening surprised me.

Rather than ask for directions (as I assumed she was going to), not only did she tell me where she was going, she asked if I would like a ride!

What surprised me even more was that I said yes and got into the car of a total stranger! For some reason, this didn’t seem strange at all until I thought about it. It felt like she was someone that I knew or had always known. The rational part of me thought this was completely crazy… but it felt right to the heart.

What transpired was a healthy conversation about traveling abroad! Though she was much older, she seemed like the kind of older woman that had spunk. I appreciate things like that.

Finally, I arrived at my destination, and I told her my name. She said that her name was Pat. I was actually sad to go; something about me wanted to know more about this woman! She was definitely interesting, but above all, she was kind. It must’ve really touched her heart to see me out in the cold. Being touched like that is something I can relate to.

So this is for Mrs. Pat, and for people that think kindness and connection is a thing of the past. I’m here to argue, especially after today, that it most definitely is not.