This was a Cyber Monday surprise for me this morning! Enjoy.
Hello, dear readership of LNE! “Someone” here.
I thought I’d take the reins for a short time to give our illustrious narrator a break from meticulously documenting her life and regale you with a story of my own.
I have read most of the unfortunate/traumatic dating stories that Laura has recounted on this blog. They weren’t always easy for me to read, especially while fighting a growing urge to punch someone I’ve never even met for transgressions visited upon someone I didn’t even know at the time.
But reading them forced me to think on my own past, and how there’s a funny symmetry between her dating history and mine. You see, before Laura met me, I also withstood a whole slew of DOA dates, middling meetups, and caustic characters. While they don’t necessarily surpass hers in awfulness, they are still worth mentioning. I hope that it will give you some insight into the background of this blog’s supporting cast, and further convey how lucky I am to have found her amidst a host of less-than-reputable studies.
Date 1: “The Bait-and-Switch” OR “The Pretty Woman”
Don’t let the secondary title get you too excited; she wasn’t a prostitute. However, it was one of my first-ever blind dates in the DC metro area, and it was an eye-opening experience that taught me never to take anything at face value.
To set the stage: It was summer or fall 2010, and I was finishing up my grad school thesis. It had been some time since I had gone on a date in earnest that wasn’t with someone I knew. A year had passed since the end of my last serious relationship, and I felt ready to reach beyond bar-acquaintances and my personal network – so I joined the dating site OKCupid.
(Shameless plug: It’sgreatandIhighlyrecommenditthat’showImetLaurasoitworksprettywellImustsay)
After a few back-and-forths with a promising young woman I had met on the site, we agreed to meet for drinks on a Saturday afternoon in Silver Spring. We hit it off fairly well over copious amounts of beer, and as the hours passed I really thought how lucky I was that I found someone on my first online dating foray with whom I seemed to connect, albeit over mostly boilerplate niceties and shallow exchanges.
After finishing up at the bar we went to her apartment, and what I found there suggested to me that an integral piece of her profile had been omitted. A photo of her in a wedding dress, arm-in-arm with another man, greeted me right as I walked in. I assumed, albeit apprehensively and with a bit of hope-led rationalizing, that she was a particularly young divorcee. The entrance of the same dude from the bedroom dispelled that notion. She seemed surprised that he was home. He looked at me wordlessly, nodded acknowledgment, and went back into the bedroom.
I’m an open-minded person, but I felt a little uncomfortable. She said not to worry as she poured me a glass of wine. I asked, awkward, whether they were married. She said they were separated but still living together. Although relieved that the second guy wasn’t part of her original plan, I was still put off by the atmosphere it generated. She told me that she understood if I wanted to leave.
I really considered staying and following this to its conclusion. Maybe another version of me would have. But at that point in time, I wanted no part in a drama that didn’t concern me. So I left, but not before politely and very platonically staying with her on the couch to watch a half-hour of “Pretty Woman.” I don’t know why I stayed for that short time, but it was probably a combination of tipsiness and feeling sorry for her. And the wine was really good.
I never saw her again, but it instilled two valuable lessons: Don’t shy away from talking in detail about relevant dating history on a first date. And secondly, on most online dating sites, someone saying that they are “available” does not necessarily mean they aren’t married, let alone living with a former partner.
Have I ever been this blessed? I’m not sure. When I sat down at our holiday table—surrounded by the family I love, the fire in the fireplace, my favorite meal in front of me—I felt such a gratefulness from the bottom of my soul that I stole the reins from Dad to give the annual Thanksgiving toast.
I don’t know what I said, but I’m sure it was something like “so blessed blah blah graduation! blah blah best family ever blah blah and for the first time in years and years I’m in love…” Everyone cheered and rolled their eyes. It was fantastic.
We had the usual meal and 10 bottles of wine, and then played this fantastic game brought to us by Buzzfeed that had us laughing so hard we started crying.
And now here we have December, slipping in quietly underneath the radar. My final two weeks of school begin, and I interview for my future job. (?!?!?!?!??!?!) Think of me Thursday as I attempt to answer clinical interview questions and impress HR and nursing directors!
I’m halfway done Christmas shopping, but am feeling past due on my holiday favorite Christmas movies, baked goods, and music. Did anyone listen to the Kelly Clarkson Christmas album? I’m a fan!
Here’s her song Wrapped in Red. Enjoy!
This recipe is a winner. I found it after searching through a few different versions yesterday, with the idea that I should really use up all that chicken in my fridge. It is very flavorful, very comforting, and will be made quite a few times this winter.
- 2 quarts chicken broth
- 1/2 package of cremini mushrooms, chopped
- 1 cup celery, finely chopped
- 1 cup shredded carrots (I would use the food processor, this takes forever on a grater)
- 1 teaspoon chicken bouillon granules (GF!)
- 3 teaspoons fresh parsley
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
- 1/4 cup butter
- 1/4 cup gluten free flour
- 1 box (10 and 3/4 ounces) Pacific Cream of Mushroom or Cream of Celery soup
- 1/2 cup dry white wine (I used Chardonnay)
- 2-3 cups shredded cooked chicken
- 3 cups cooked wild and long grain rice (I purchased a box with a spice pack and cooked according to package directions but using only half of the package of spices)
- Freshly ground pepper
In a large saucepan, combine the first 9 ingredients. Bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat and simmer about 30 minutes.
In a Dutch oven or giant pot, melt butter and whisk in flour until smooth. GRADUALLY (I mean gradually, about 1/4 cup at a time at first) add in the broth mixture, whisking constantly. Continue adding the broth until it’s all mixed in. Bring to a boil, stir for 2 minutes or until a bit thickened. Whisk in the soup and wine. Add pepper, rice, and chicken, cook for about 5 more minutes.
Eat in PJs on couch next to boyfriend while watching Homeland.
This morning I took one of my last exams in nursing school (less than a month to go, people!). On tap for this weekend is some “speakeasy” drinks with Somone, (online) Christmas shopping, paper writing, (barf) and catching up on my Hulu favorites (how good is The Good Wife this season!?).
Does anyone else have a feeling it’s going to be a cold, cold winter? I am in touch with my farmer past-lives who are all giving me strong inklings that we’re in for some snow. I have nothing to do in the months of January and February (work doesn’t start until FEBRUARY 24th, who wants to hang out with me?!!?!?!?!?!) so this doesn’t bother me one bit. I have about 430 books to read on my Kindle starting December 15th, and I don’t think I’ll mind chilly temperatures since I won’t actually have to go out in them that much.
In other unrelated yet similarly boring news, I made a crap load of chicken last night. The Giant only sold the split chicken breasts I needed in packs of four, so it seems I’ll be eating chicken salad and soups forever.
The recipe I used was really good: You make a spice rub with lemon juice and rind, olive oil, salt and pepper, and poultry seasoning and rub it underneath the chicken skins. They came out perfectly cooked and deliciously seasoned. With mashed potatoes, asparagus, and poached pears for dessert, I felt très française.
I’m going to need some recommendations for good books and good TV shows to binge watch on my break. I’m thinking about trying on 24, Scandal, and Breaking Bad. Anyone have any suggestions to keep me occupied and busy during my time off? Read any good books lately? Need me to babysit your children, dogs, houses, or cook for you? LET ME KNOW!
Cheers to a happy weekend, y’all.
Steel cut oats are best prepared the day before you want to eat them (when you likely have more time to stir, and stir, and stir), and should be left a little creamier than you might ordinarily. Then they’ll reheat like a dream in the microwave in less than 2 minutes.
What really kicks these up a notch is cooking them in half water half almond milk. Sweet and creamy deliciousness on a spoon. When topped with strawberries, cinnamon sugar, and pecans, this turns into a breakfast I look forward to waking up to!
- Two cups water
- Two cups almond milk (sweetened, plain)
- 1 cup steel cut oats
- Sliced strawberries, chopped pecans, and brown sugar for topping (or cinnamon sugar)
Heat water and almond milk on stove in saucepan until boiling, add oats. Turn down heat to low and stir every 5-10 minutes or so until oats are desired consistency. It took me about 50 minutes, but your stove might cook them in about 35.
Six months and three days ago, a boy e-mailed me on OkCupid and wrote:
“Hi, I’m [Someone]. You seem genuinely like my kind of person. I think we should go on a date that involves grabbing a meal somewhere with a presumably error-ridden menu and break out the mental red pens! Sometimes, it’s just what you have to do.”
Six months ago, at 5:59 p.m. I walked across the street and saw Someone standing in front of Guajillo, my favorite Mexican restaurant (that he randomly selected for the site of this epic meeting). I just knew I was going to like him. We laughed a lot, drank a lot of margaritas, and I was genuinely sad when the evening came to a close. I remember random foggy details about the evening: that I liked his hands, that he was wearing a soft, black sweater. That he could sing (in a few musicals in his day), and that I was pretty sure he was a spy. That he had a goofy laugh, and that the conversation was effortless. That he ordered coffee, and walked me home. That he kissed me goodnight on the street, texted me 15 minutes later, and kinda changed everything else in my life forever.
Our relationship has been the easiest thing I’ve ever been a part of, during the hardest time of my recent life. We’ve come so, so far since May: the seasoned and cynical online daters who still kept the faith that good, normal people used the Internet to meet people are now romantic, disgustingly-in-love people. (Please don’t gag!) It hasn’t been all rainbows and butterflies, and we’ve (I’ve) had to work on a lot. But it’s been so, so worth it.
The two dates I went on mere days before I met Someone were with a guy who told me he owned 8 handguns and wanted to take me shooting (if you know me but at all, you can imagine how this went over). I was thisclose to deactivating my profile and saying, “you know what? This whole online dating thing is a waste of time.” But there Someone was, with his simple charm and cunning intelligence. Someone, for the win!
[It's not every boyfriend who sticks a fake parking ticket on your car when you're at the gym, citing you for being "too awesome for words."]
We’re off to celebrate the best six months in recent memory, for us both. Thanks for reading, thanks for rooting for me (and us!), and thanks for not being too upset that at least for now, there are no more ledgendarily awful dating stories! Perhaps I can get Someone to ghostwrite some of HIS awful dating stories here for you….
My man loves mushrooms, and although I wasn’t a fan (?!?!?!!?) for the first 25 years of my life (a cardinal sin, considering the proximity of my childhood home to the Mushroom Capital of the World), I have come over to the dark side of fungi-loving and I will never, ever go back. The subtle savory flavors of a dish infused with mushroomy goodness is always a crowd pleaser, and this dish is no exception.
Mushroom Fettuccini, modified from Cooking Light
- 1 (9-ounce) package refrigerated fresh fettuccine (for my fellow GFers out there: I used Jovial rice spaghetti)
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 3/4 cup chopped onion
- 16 ounces presliced cremini mushrooms (2 packages, can’t ever have enough mushies)
- 1/2 teaspon minced garlic
- 3/4 teaspoon salt, divided
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper (I seasoned more heavily than this because I love black pepper)
- 1/4 cup white wine
- 2 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
- 1/2 cup half-and-half
- 1 ounce Parmesan cheese, grated (about 1/4 cup)
- 1/4 cup 5-cheese Italian blend shredded cheese
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
Cook pasta according to package directions, saving about 1/2 cup of the pasta liquid in a small bowl to the side before draining.
Meanwhile, heat skillet with butter and olive oil over high heat; add onion, garlic, mushrooms, and 1/4 teaspoon of the salt when the butter has melted and the pain is hot. Cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms are all browned and delicious looking and most of the liquid is gone. Add the wine and thyme and cook for 2 minutes. Add the remaining salt, half and half, cheeses, and hot pasta into the pan. Stir until cheese is melted. If necessary, add the reserved pasta water to loosen up the sauce. Top with fresh pepper and parsley, serve hot immediately.
Today was one of those days where everything is just warm and fuzzy and happy and good. Someone and I shopped, ran errands, laughed, lunched, made dinner, caught up on the DVR, relaxed, and had just one of those, well, perfect days.
And in honor of Lou Reed:
Hope you had a perfect day, too.
This salad is crisp, refreshing, tart, sweet, and creamy good. I even think it might go nicely along with a Thanksgiving dinner, what with the dried cranberries and all. And is there anything that tastes nicer than goat cheese? I don’t think so, either. This salad is a big cheat salad, too — you could honey your own almonds, make your own dressing…or you could buy them.
- mixed field greens
- honeyed almonds
- dried cranberries
- dried cherries
- honeycrisp apples, sliced thin and about 1/2 inch big
- goat cheese crumbles
- raspberry vinaigrette
Mix your favorite proportion of the above ingredients and enjoy!
In seven weeks exactly, I will walk across a stage and be handed my second Bachelor’s degree. It’s hard to believe that it’s been more than 14 months since I started school, but the journey’s been even longer than that — from inklings in my heart years ago that I was working in the wrong field to decisions to move in with my parents to application after application to school and community college pre-req after pre-req to complete.
I’ve been spending the hours of my senior practicum course doing an “independent study” of sorts on my own in the Emergency Department. It’s honestly some of the most fun I’ve ever had doing something called “work.” This isn’t to say that my feet don’t ache and I don’t complain about getting only 12 minutes to eat lunch in a 12-hour shift…it’s just to say that it’s finally coming full circle. I feel right. I feel good. I feel complete!
My parents will sit next to my boyfriend and watch me walk across the stage and wear a little Florence Nightingale nursing cap. And then it will all be over. Or, rather, then it will all begin.
Only 50 more papers, projects, logs, and about 200 more clinical hours separate me from December 14th. Thanks for bearing with me during these insanely crazy months! I’ll be back to posting about pop culture and books and far more interesting things in no time.