Sunday, August 29, 2010

Saving Money While Single: Food

I decided to take a break from dating posts for a bit and talk about another issue that plagues singles: money. I know married people have money problems too, but at least many married couples are living on two incomes. This summer, due to my part time status, I've had to revert back to the uber-budgeter I was when I lived on a volunteer stipend. Also, because I'm a Vegan, I need to get all the nutrients possible out of everything I eat. So I decided to share some of the ways I save on food and get my vitamins.

1) Eat out less.

2) Embrace the "throw everything in a pot" technique.
-This is especially helpful if you have a lot of things in small quantities to finish: 1/4 head of lettuce, 1/2 cup of rice, 1/2 a tomato, you get the idea. Throw it all together as a stew, casserole, salad, stir fry, or soup.

3) Don't toss marinade liquid.
-Add it to the cooking or use it as a dipping sauce (depending on what you're making).

4) Save water from steaming.
-After you steam veggies, save the water and add it to something else later. There are vitamins in there! Use it for boiling rice, add it to sauce, pour it on whatever you're cooking, etc.

5) Blanch and freeze veggies (instead of letting them rot in the fridge).
-Blanching means “placing in boiling hot water briefly.” You can google how long to blanch each kind of vegetable. Throw the veggies in ice cold water, then throw them in the freezer (in a freezer bag of course).

6) Invest in a crock pot.
-Goes along with the "throw everything in a pot" technique, and I found mine at a thrift store (new!). This is especially good for cooking beans. They are also useful for busy people in general. Throw everything in the pot in the morning and when you return from work, dinner!

7) Save water from soaking nuts.
-I soak nuts for making "cheese" and vegan pesto mainly, but then I use the water in something else (like baked goods or oatmeal).

8) Use the last slices of bread
-I used to hate those last two slices of bread that were the ends of the loaf. But now I know you can soak them, blend them and add them to soup to make a creamy sop (that's what they did in the Middle Ages, sans blender). Also, they can be used as breadcrumbs.

9) Whole Foods' bulk foods
-Whole Foods sells lots of stuff in bulk: beans, teas, flours, nuts, granola, spices, etc. You can just buy what you need, which is especially useful for spices.

10) Don't toss brown bananas!
-Put them in the freezer to eat later as a healthy frozen treat. You could also use them instead of eggs in baked goods (and not just banana bread).

Essentially, “waste not, want not” is what I try to follow with food.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Review: "Why Mr. Right Can't Find You" by JM Kearns

While searching for dating books online, this title kept popping up. I wanted to read this just because of the title. Overall, I love it!

The section that especially grabbed my attention is Kearns' section on compatibility. One of my issues is I'm not so sure what I want. Does it matter if he likes stand-up comedy and pop music like me? Do I really need to look for someone who is my intellectual match? Should I skip over online profiles if I don't find him physically attractive? Well, yes. Kearns specifies what things to pay attention to when figuring out compatibility. One question I love: Can you go on a road trip with this person? Good point. If we have very dissimilar taste in music, what will we listen to on an eight hour road trip?

After reading this book, I did some journaling about my ideal man, with new insights. Before I started dating, I was picky about the wrong things. Once I tried to date, I became un-picky about the wrong things. Now, I feel like I have a better picture of my Mr. Right.

I also have a better idea of how to help Mr. Right find me. Like many other dating sites and books, Kearns says women should be outgoing and we should give a man a signal that it's okay for him to come talk to us (like by smiling). He also challenged my plan to avoid bars, but made a valid argument. Lots of men go to bars, and they aren't all dogs. Seek out more grownup bars or even the bar in a nice restaurant.

What I love most of all, though, is the overarching philosophy of the book. There are lots of guys who will like you just as you are. Also, he challenges us to get rid of the whole "Destiny," thing, as in, "There is only ONE Mr. Right for me and I just need to sit and wait for my prince to come." Although I believe in monogamy and that God has a role to play in matching us up, at the same time, the "there is only ONE man for me" belief is problematic. Billions of people live on this planet, millions in my city. There are probably many men who would match with me. I believe in free will, not fate. God lets us choose which direction we wish to take with our life. I don't believe God plays games like this with us: "Let's see if you can find the ONE man I made for you. I won't tell you who he is or how to find him, but if you don't choose him, you're screwed! Muahaha!" Instead, I think that God already has plenty of good choices for me. Even if I decide not to pair with any, I don't believe God will doom me to an incomplete, meaningless life. What's the point of free will, after all?

Anyway, yes, I recommend it. Yes you must read this if you're single. This will be my new dating manual.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

"So why don't I have a boyfriend?" Improve thyself first

After my blah date with Lou yesterday, I decided to google that question, just to see what "advice" comes up. Several search results featured teenagers asking that question, which further added to my feeling of being "behind" everyone else! There were some recurring themes in the answers. Some included the usual, "be more outgoing," "be more flirty," "be less shy," "get out and meet people." However, another tip that kept appearing was basically, "Focus on YOU and your life."

I like to think I am an introspective person, aware of my strengths and weaknesses, always trying to improve myself. Here's the thing, though. Learning about oneself and improving oneself is a lifelong process. You never finish figuring out who you are and what you're about. Many people don't even come close to figuring that out before their middle years, 40-years-old and older. I know plenty of people in relationships who haven't begun trying to figure out "who they are" or are currently struggling with that question. If I waited until I "knew myself" before I sought a relationship, well, I would never seek a relationship! I have been "working on me" my whole life, but no man seems to want to jump on board with my life. So that advice isn't helpful for me.

However, one other piece of advice that I do think is helpful is "go out and meet people," but perhaps not through the typical means. Watching Tyra's show on Friday (hey, sometimes I like trash TV), further confirmed my belief that going to bars is a bad way for an introverted or shy person to find love. They interviewed a 23-year-old woman who never had a boyfriend and sent her off to a bar with a professional "wingwoman." It was clear that the girl was nervous when the wingwoman went away. The girl was not at her best in a bar. SO WHY PUT HER IN A BAR? Put her in a situation where she is comfortable, where she can shine. She totally seemed like a sweet girl, like she'd make a good girlfriend (and she was pretty).

I think I'm on the right track in terms of joining classes and clubs that I like in order to meet more people (especially guys). That way, the focus is not on socializing but on the task. You don't feel like you're "on stage," but you'll probably be showing off some of your best qualities. I'm already an amazing person, but I can't be an amazing person in a bar or "singles event." Perhaps I can't be amazing on a completely blind date either, where I don't know how not to turn the conversation into a job interview. I need to put myself in situations where I can show off my awesomeness, and therefore attract a guy who just might be compatible with me.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

getting their act together

I got a phone call tonight for yet another elove referral. Rats. Now they are actually sending me dates. The guy is named Lou. He already got a letter about me in the mail but I haven`t received one for him, so the phone call was a surprise. He sounds a bit old. And he`s out in the burbs, but at least he will drive into the city for me. I still am on a high from Mark too, though l know he is probably not into me. Still, I just can`t trust elove. Hopefully the hour date won`t be totally dull. Let`s see how well they responded to my feedback.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Mini triumphs in flirting

My inner flirt got to spread her wings a bit this weekend. In all honesty, it looked nothing like the picture, but anyway.

Saturday, my friend asked me to be an extra in an independent short film that her friend was directing. I was assigned, last minute, to do something front and center, so I needed makeup. While the makeup girl was powdering and eye-shadowing me, Mr. Director walked by and asked how it was going. The makeup lady said "Just making her gorgeous," and he replied, "Well I don`t see any difference at all!" I replied, "You are just too kind!" That's me, flirt-mode. He was probably gay, FYI.

On Sunday, during the Sign of Peace at Mass, Rick (who has some sort of special needs) once again said, "Ooh, you still have big muscles." I don`t, btw, but that's become the thing he likes to say to me every weekend, after which he proceeds to pat the bit of fat on my upper arm. I told him, "Oh, you are just too sweet!" My inner flirt was now very attentive to any potential flirting opportunities.

All this came to a sort of climax on Sunday afternoon after the book club meeting. As you may know, I have a little crush on Mark, the club moderator. Still don't know if he's gay (I have reasons to suspect he is, on which I won't elaborate now), or interested, or childfree, but I got a little thing for him anyway until I know otherwise.
Let me quickly explain that to get to the meeting via public transit, I have two options: 1) Take the train to the nearest station and walk about fifteen minutes, or 2) Take the train to a station that's further and take the bus, which brings me right to the door of the meeting site. Option 1 is often the quicker route, but if it's bad weather (or I don't feel like walking), I take the bus. After the meeting, I wait for the bus because when Mark leaves, he usually walks past the bus stop to get to his car. Silly me, I know, but whatev. He usually walks right past me without so much as a nod. However, my goofy self still waits for the bus in hopes that maybe he'll at least wave as he passes one day.
Sunday, he was talking (ahem, debating) with a new book club member outside after the meeting. They couldn't come to a resolution in their discussion during the meeting. I started thinking, "Well I guess he's into her, not me," because that's what I do, jump to conclusions, find reasons to stop crushing on guys. I waited (and waited and waited...) for the bus. I stopped glancing over to see if he was walking my way and just read my book.
Lo and behold, Mark stops and says, "The bus is late, huh?" And we preceeded to converse, much to my delight! Nothing sexy in the conversation, just talked about walking, the city, traveling.
It was very cliche, how I was feeling: not fully listening, unable to speak as coherently as usual, lotsa smiling, giddy. I didn't care what he was saying. I just wanted him to talk to me. He actually stayed with me until my bus arrived. I expected just a quick goodbye, which would have made my day! I'd like to think he just wanted to spend time with me because he's totally into me, but I know, I know. It may mean nothing.
Anyway, when the buses arrived (yes two arrived at the same time, typical), he made a comment about their tardiness and I replied, "Well I guess it's a good thing the bus wasn't on time. Otherwise, I wouldn't have got to talk to you!"

Hey, for me, that's flirting. That's as good as I get.

Anyway, my mania and glee and fantasizing has died down, though I still like to run through the conversation in idle moments. Also, now I remember what "attraction" or "chemistry" is supposed to feel like. The conversation should just flow, the "flirting" should be automatic. I remembered that happy nervousness, the desire to be sexy just for him, which I haven't felt since Nate, back in December. No date has tickled my fancy this year. None, yet I wondered after each date if I should give the guys another chance (I usually didn't). Maybe the spark would be delayed? I don't know if Mark was feeling the tension too. With my luck, probably not, but I friended him on facebook anyway a couple days ago, and he accepted. I guess I should be happy that he sees me as a friend at least.

And now I can facebook-stalk him and keep in touch between meetings. ;-)

Thursday, August 12, 2010


I try to avoid doing 2 blog posts in a day, but I'm frustrated, and am so close to abandoning this whole dating resolution!

I decided to try the online dating thing again, per the urging of a friend of mine. She recently found a man on okcupid and told me that there are so many nice guys out there! I have to give it another shot!

So the last week or so, I've been on okcupid, mingle2, you and me pure (the virgin website),, and I've come up with a whole lot of nothing. It's the same problem I had before. I can't find good guys who don't want kids. The guys who don't want kids either a) are Atheist/Agnostic or b) really want sex (some moreso than others). Some are even sexual deviants! What's annoying about okcupid is you can't put "doesn't want kids" as a search preference. So I have to read the entire profile and weed through a bunch of answered questions to figure out if they want kids. I guess I could just ask them, but then I'd be messaging dozens of guys daily and they'd all be incompatible anyway. Only 5 virgins are in my state on the virgin site, and the one who really appealed to me wants kids. Mingle2 is a wasteland. They all look shady. I know, don't judge a book by its cover, but that's what you have to do with online dating. Some of the guys on mingle2 even have very suggestive headlines ("looking for someone to go downstairs")

I can't win!

I read quite a few childfree blogs, and a lot of childfree are married. They found someone, why can't I? Is it because I won't put out? Is that what it is? Sometimes I think so. Perhaps it really is too late. Perhaps this whole effort is fruitless.

I didn't try to date and got no boyfriend. Now I have gone on dates with about 6 guys, still no boyfriend. I started making more of an effort at this a year ago. Am I being impatient? I know, if God has a man for me, God will send him (or lead me to him) when the time is right. Despite this ranting, I really do like my current life. I'm just seeing if there's a worthy young man I can share my life with.

Maybe not. Maybe I really am meant to be single. I can live with that, really. I just wish I knew for sure if I am wasting my time "trying."

August date: check!

So elove did send me a referral after all. Rats. I hoped Shea was bs'ing me 100% so I could go forward with my plan: send a complaint to the BBB and block further transactions. I don't think I'm justified in doing that right now since they aren't really in breach of contract. However, I won't call them anymore. If another 3 or 4 months go by without a referral, I'll just continue with my plan to complain and block transactions.

My date with "Juan" was last Friday. I'm trying to document as best I can any contact with elove and what happened/was said on the date, so if they send me a referral that was not what I requested, I have grounds to complain. The date was so-so. He was Mexican (mestizo, to be more precise), so he was definitely one of the more attractive of the guys I've dated! Tan skin, dark short hair that was a bit spiky, a little over six feet tall and five years older than me. Thin, but fit. I saw him walking toward the cafe out the corner of my eye and I didn't think it was him. I thought he was too cute to be my date. It's not that I don't think I deserve an attractive date. I just thought they'd match me with someone somewhat nerdy, like me. Attractive guys never want a second date with me. It's the nerdy ones who are more interested. Anyway, he also was gentlemanly: held the door and paid for my meal.

However, like the last date, he was kinda dull. He's a mechanic (way to be stereotypical Mexican) and that's pretty much all he does. Fix cars and hang out with friends. Yawn. I told elove I want a guy with varied interests, who does more than go to work. The conversation started to slip into car repair and I (sort of abruptly) changed the subject. I tried to keep questions open-ended and do more listening this time. I asked him about Mexico, but we started to slip into a conversation about immigration. It wasn't heated, but I know NOT to talk politics on a first date, so I changed that too. I set the limit of one hour for the date and that was the right time to leave. There wasn't more to talk about, really. Or rather, I couldn't think of any more interesting topics to discuss (that would be appropo for a first date).

There were two main objections I had to him. Juan owns a house (good), but it's in a suburb of my city. His mom lives with him too. Boo. He likes living in the burbs and that won't work for me in the longterm. I'm a city girl. Living with mom is also a turn-off for me. The main drawback, though, is that he wants kids someday. I know I told elove that I don't want kids! So my feedback will focus mainly on those objections. I hate to admit it, but they did send me two guys who were among the cuter of the men I've dated, but the personalities are wrong. I can't be that boring! I can't!

It's BS with elove, this feedback. They screw you over. My interviewer told me to be specific, but if you are specific, you don't get referrals, because you're too specific. What in the world? You can't win. I'm so not paying for a matchmaker again once I'm done with elove!

Monday, August 2, 2010

"Introvert Power" review

This book isn't specifically about dating, but I imagine a lot of singles have to deal with the "extrovert bias," as the author calls it.

This book is going to become one of the books that changes my life.

When "friends" of mine explain to me why they think I'm single, they often are speaking from an "extrovert bias," meaning extroversion=good/healthy while introversion=flawed/unhealthy. For example, "you need to put yourself out there more," "you need to meet more people," "you need to be more outgoing," "you need to talk more," "you need someone who'll pull you into the conversation." These criticisms go to the core of my being, and refer to qualities which I now realize I can't change.

I'm in dance class, a book club, a young adult group, a leadership group and I have been attending Theology on Tap sessions. I don't have a problem putting myself "out there." I have 200 facebook friends so it's not like I don't know people. I do talk in certain contexts. I don't need someone who'll pull me into a conversation I don't want to get into. How cruel is that? If I felt the need to speak, I would speak. What's wrong with observing, wanting to be left to your own thoughts and reflections?

After reading this, I now have answers to these criticisms. I don't know how many times I wrote "YES" on the margins while reading. I related to so much of what Helgoe was saying. And although I tend to have high self-esteem and love myself, I realized that many of the parts of myself that I thought I needed to "fix," don't need fixing. It's not that I think I'm perfect and flawless. However, I was internally beating myself up about some things, things which I couldn't change. I still bought into the extroverted bias, though I thought I was more independent and free-thinking than that.

Amongst other things, this book confirmed my desire to NOT use "singles events" for dating. I was right. Those sort of dating "network" events where you drink and mingle are NOT good for me, though some well-meaning friends might say that's just what I need. Why put myself in a position that makes me uncomfortable, that shuts me down, where I can't shine? Do I really want a super-outgoing, extroverted guy who knows how to function at those events anyway? Opposites do not always attract.

The funny thing is that many people don't believe it when I say I'm an introverted. According to Helgoe, I'm actually a "socially accessible introvert." I've learned to play the extrovert role, to fake it. Really, though, mingling, idle chat and meeting new people drain me. Big crowds overwhelm me. External busyness wears me out. Although my job requires me to work with people, I'm actually not energized by working with people. More often than not, sitting at home watching movies is more desirable to me than going to a big party.

So EVERY introvert needs to read this, even if you think you're "okay" with yourself. I'm sure you'll get something out of it. Although now I continue to wonder how I'm going to meet a guy who's compatible with my personality. Where do introverts go to socialize?...