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Miss Peach

Like putting a good belt on a cheap dress

Pick Up the Change

Monday, July 31, 2006

I've been single for my entire life. Prom stressed me out, as there wasn't ever anyone in the picture. I've not had a relationship that lasted more than a few months. The first (and only) love of my life was a torturous on-and-off, ill-timed affair riddled with issues and a complete lack of communication that stretched for two long years and took as much time to get over. At this point, my friends and family don't even really inquire about my relationship status, which I appreciate more than they know. I think they've come to the conclusion that, by god, if there was someone to tell them about, I would be SHOUTING IT OUT LOUD.

I used to think that if I were to find someone, I would be the annoying girl who refers to her boyfriend constantly and is forever telling the latest cute anecdote about what he did that was just so adorable. But having spent what feels like my entire life listening to everyone else drone on about their cute relationship (it's okay to a point, folks, and then it's just plain annoying), I will probably talk so little about my beloved that everyone will think there's something very, very wrong.

All of this is a way of saying that my best friend, who has finally found someone to love and to love her back, has been incredibly good about NOT engaging in any of that. She and I were two of a kind until she met her boyfriend several months ago, and she's been an absolute dream about sharing just enough but not too much as she's fallen in love. It's thrilling to watch someone you love falling in love, especially when it's your best friend of over a decade, whom you know so well she's practically an extension of yourself, and who is that one person you want to fall in love almost more than you want to yourself.

They've been together for a while now, and I've met him several times, but it's hard to really get to know someone over drinks or dinner. So this past weekend, the three of us went to the beach for a weekend away. It was fun. It's always a treat to be out of the city in the summer, and time on the water and eating crabs pretty much tops my list of summer activities.

When I told other friends my plan for the weekend, there was much eyebrow raising and, "oh, that will be interesting"s. But honestly, I wasn't worried about it at all. This is my best friend who is so conscientious about how I feel at all times that I didn't have any qualms about being a third wheel. Sure, I knew it would feel that way at one point or another, but let's face it: I've been a third wheel forever now, and I've got it down. When the intimate gestures happen, avert your eyes. Busy yourself with whatever magazine or dish is at hand. As the evening wears on, head home at an appropriate time, feigning exhaustion. Then stay up late catching up with friends on the west coast or watching stocks of "The Daily Show" on DVR.

Maybe that sounds sad or lonely, but I've never been the type to dwell on my singledom. Do I have moments that I really really really wish I had someone? Absolutely. But I don't, and sitting around feeling sorry for myself isn't going to change that. I've never sought companionship as a way to complete myself. I'm fulfilled with my life and I'm happy and secure with who I am. I have an amazing network of friends and family, and someone is always there when I need to talk. I am truly blessed and loved, and I love many people in return. For me, that's always been the key to happiness, and I can honestly say I'm happy 98% of the time.

So when I felt deeply sad and third wheely all weekend, it took me by complete and utter surprise.

This had nothing to do with their behavior. There weren't any uncomfortable moments. I didn't ever feel left out of a private twosome. I think it had to do with several things, the first being that though I think he's wonderful and nice and kind and caring, and I know he absolutely adores her, which is the most important thing to me, we didn't exactly click. It's not that we don't get along, and even if we didn't, I can get along with the nastiest of people if need be, and would do just that for her. It was just that though we had perfectly nice interactions, there wasn't any spark. Perhaps this is because we were both unconsciously intent on making this the Best Bonding Weekend Ever After Which We Would Be Best Friends that we spent the whole time politely circling each other. But there isn't much that interests me about him yet, and while I would sooner fork my eye out than ever admit this to her, I found him to be kind of boring and small-minded. Not narrow-minded, not that at all. Just less diversified than I would want for her. Because it goes without saying that I think she is fabulous and deserves everything.

I think the larger truth here is that this marks a passing. I'm 27 now, and I know that's young, and I know I have my WHOLE life in front of me, but the fact is this: the pool is shrinking. My friends couple off at a rate that defies my mind at times. One of my closest college friends got married over a year ago, and truth be told, I miss her. A lot. Because no matter what you say about it, marriage changes friendships, especially when your husband is a cheap control freak who doesn't like your best friend from college and is frankly a jerk about letting you visit her and makes her visits to see you rather disappointing and uncomfortable.

Ahem. Let me rephrase. When you get married, you are building a life as a partnership. The open, girlfriendness of things fades, because you have chosen to spend your life with someone, and they are the central rock upon which you rely. They are the one with whom you share your secrets, the one who you protect and defend. They are your priority. And that is precisely as it SHOULD be. One of the most appealing things about committed, loving relationships to me is that idea that you always have someone in your corner. But it's tough to remain as close to your friends as you were before. It's natural. I know that. It's just hard when you aren't the married or coupled one in the equation.

I've spent most of my life surrounded by several amazing, single women--friends of my mother's who never married, an aunt who married young, divorced, and never remarried, others who didn't couple up until their late 40s or early 50s. I often joke that I have ten mothers as a result, and I am lucky for it. These women spent their holidays with us, babysat for me, taught me about life and love and books and culture. My unmarried aunt, my very own personal Auntie Mame, took me to Paris for a week for my 16th birthday, and taught me to love traveling and to always do something to make yourself happy. I have seen how good it can be to be single forever. But if I'm being honest, I have to admit that I've always found that to be sad. One of my deepest, dirtiest secrets? I live in fear that I will follow in the footsteps of these wonderful, funny, smart, witty, interesting women who have to a large extent shaped who I am today. I'm terrified I'll turn out just like them.

I've known from day one--literally, for as much of my life as I can recall--that I want children. I want a family and carpool and I actually look forward to the day to day monotony of parenting. I know I'll find moments so mindless and frustrating that I'll want to run for the hills and never come back--I've babysat, nannied, and cared for my little cousins long enough to have lived a bit of that already. So part of this aversion to being single for life is that deep-seated fear that I won't have kids. That I won't find someone to build a family with. I've thought about it, and I just don't think I'm cut out to do it alone. Never say never, but when I look myself straight in the eye, I know I don't have it in me.

But the other part is that I want someone who loves me and who I love. I want to have standing dates to weddings and events. I want to make decisions as a unit. I want to set goals--living in a certain location, taking a certain trip, buying a house or a car or a pony--with someone ELSE. I'm tired of going through security at the airport alone, struggling with my bags, worried that I'll somehow lose my laptop or forget my ID. I want a wingman. I'd like, for once, to leave my bags with someone while I run to the bathroom and get coffee, rather than forfeiting my seat and trying to cram all of my shit into the way too small stalls in every airport and train station across America. I'm sick of getting bumped from flights and staying alone in airport motel rooms, turning up the tv to divert my attention from the creepy crappiness of the room. I'd like to laugh at the absurdity of it with someone else. I don't want to be bellying up to the bar every single fucking time the slow songs play at a wedding, and I'm dead tired of my friends doing the sweet, loving deed of having their boyfriends or husbands dance with me after the first two or three. Don't stop, sweet jesus, because I will be so drunk at the end of the night it'll be seriously problematic, but no matter how well-intentioned it is, it will never stop feeling like they're taking pity on me.

And speaking of pity, that party ends now. But I don't know why I seem to find it so hard to meet someone. I really can't explain it. Apparently I don't "give off the vibe that I'm available" and I have my "man-sheild" up, but fuck if I know what that means. All I know is that I simply haven't met someone--not "that special" someone, just anyone I really want to date seriously. I've tried Match, and, wow, if something was ever NOT for me, that's it. But more about that another time. I've tried being set up, but that really hasn't taken either. And, please, don't tell me I'm not "putting myself out there". Seeing how I'm not quite sure what it is about me that isn't out there already, I find that task to be both baffling and overwhelming.

When I'm honest with myself, I know that I think things will all work out. I joke that I'll be the dog lady--I hate cats, so I'll never fall into that stereotype--but I don't think I will. Maybe that's me holding on to hope, or remaining optimistic despite reality staring me right in the face, kind of like how even though I know there's no way in hell I can make it to work in under 20 minutes, I try every single day. But right now, it's a little rough out there. I'm keeping my chin up and smiling all the time, making so many plans that I don't have time to dwell on it, expanding what little culinary skills I have and listening to upbeat music.

If there's one thing I know about myself it's that I'm pretty resilient, so all will be fine. But is it so wrong to admit that I want spectacular?

Five Reasons I Like Work. Really.

Friday, July 28, 2006

It’s time again for Friday Five! Where did the week go? Well, I spent almost all my waking hours at the office, actually. My busy time is early this year. Since I like what I do mostly, it’s not too bad, but the lack of social interaction aside from in the office is starting to grate on me.

So, in an effort to be positive, I thought I’d highlight five good things about work (that don’t give away what it is I do or where I do it). Because really, it's a fun place to be, and I should remember that!

Five things that make me happy at work:

1) In the summer, when the a/c cuts off at 6:30 after chilling me a little too much all day, and I finally feel comfortable. The goose bumps go down, my eyes don’t feel quite so dry, and the papers on my desk stop their annoying flutter. And I can totally eavesdrop of the hallway conversations that I just can’t quite make out when it’s on.
2) Getting my inbox down to the twenties. This doesn’t happen every day, but with a little extra effort, I think I can get there. My ultimate goal is to keep it at a level which allows me to have the preview screen up but not have to scroll up or down to see all the pending emails. I LOVE when that happens. A little too much to be normal, I think.
3) Going out nearly every day for coffee with a colleague who cracks me up and will totally gossip about work stuff to a fun degree (though she always remains appropriate since she is technically my boss. I call it the daily dish.)
4) The near-daily check-in with my assistant in which we wind up laughing so hard we sometimes wind up with sore tummies and wet eyes. Also, the fact that we often trade emails with foul language, as in “I have the f****** pdf here” and “Why is this a**hole emailing us about this again?” Is this normal? Am I red flagged by IT? Who cares? We have fun.
5) When my boss walks out into the hall and announces that “the bar is open”. Not daily, of course. Not even weekly. But when it happens, it’s great. And I guess this technically counts as six, but whatever, it’s kind of related: opening up the mini fridge in the conference room on our corridor and, with the exception of like two times, seeing beer in there.

Better Living Through Your Friends' Chemistry With Famous People

Thursday, July 27, 2006

A conversation I had yesterday with a very, very dear friend, who I have been neglecting of late, and who is one of those fabulous New York ladies who always has kickass shoes on:

Me: Hey! OK, we have approximately five minutes, which I would like to spend hearing an update on your life, because I haven't talked to you in, oh, a month. Go.
Her: Well, not too much. There was a storm and my parent's deck was ruined.
Me: That sucks.
Her: Yeah. My fish is almost three!
Me: I so thought you'd kill him in, like, a week. I still consider it fish abuse that he lives next to the stove though. I definitely think he's terrified his day has come every time you get out a pan.
Her: He's a goldfish. He has no memory. Or cognitive ability, for that matter.
Me: I know. I know. But still. So, what have you been up to?
Her: Hm. Well, I'm not sure, but I think I might be dating [a musician we all know of].
Me: What?
Her: Yeah.
Me: Wait. [ambient, loungy musician's name]?
Her: Yup.
Me: Oh my God. Wait. What the hell?
Her: Yeah.
Me: I'm speechless.
Her: Yeah.
(Long pause as I let this sink in.)
Me: So here is what I demand of the situation. I demand that either you two fall madly in love, or become best friends. And then, I demand that you throw a fabulous New Year's Eve party at his fantastic apartment--because it has to be fantastic, I'm sure of at least that--and then you have to invite me.
Her: I like that you immediately turn this into something that benefits you.
Me: I'm sitting home nights. You're out galavanting with celebrities. And you told me about your parents deck and your fish's impending birthday BEFORE YOU TOLD ME YOU WERE MAYBE DATING A CELEBRITY.
Her: OK, I see your point.

People. Carrie Bradshaw exists. And I am friends with her.

The problem? According to someone who shall remain unnamed, I share qualities with Miranda. I'm really not quite sure how I feel about that.

Five for Friday

Friday, July 21, 2006

I’m joining in on the fun and participating in Friday Five. There are many reasons: Stefanie has been cracking me up with her lists. I often have trouble coming up with a post. I’m too lazy for more than five (my first thought when I learned of Thursday Thirteen? “Now, why not three?”) So here you have it, the first of what should be a weekly feature.

Five foods I just don’t get sick of, no matter how often I have them (and don’t berate me for leaving Chipotle off the list, you and you.):

1) Everything bagel toasted with cream cheese and tomato (and in season, avocado): I suspect this has a LOT to do with the bagel. I love bagels. Remember back in the day when you didn’t give eating an entire one a second thought? Remember when carbs weren’t bad for you? Back then, I was an egg bagel with strawberry cream cheese enthusiast, which I blame on youth and inexperience. The combination I write about here—the one I indulge in too infrequently these days because I've learned bagels aren’t to be eaten but sparingly—is amazing. If you’re in NYC and in need of a cheap lunch, go to the Bagel & Bean on Broadway between 54th and 55th. All that and a bottle of water? Under $5. Don’t say I never gave you any good tips.

2) Grilled cheese: really, ANY grilled cheese will do. Velveeta and wonder bread? Yum. Artisinal bread with organic Vermont cheddar and some Monterey Jack (or other tasty white cheese) mixed in for good measure? Yes, please! Seriously gourmet Grilled Cheese Gillie that my favorite restaurant in northern Michigan used to serve and took off the menu? Well, I would if I could, jerks! And adding ingredients is key, too. Onions, tomatoes, and avocados (do we see a theme here?) all make fine bedfellows with melted cheese. I’m not a fan of adding ham or other meats, but I won’t judge you if you are. Scout’s honor. I can’t really point my finger at you when I’m dipping my sandwich in ketchup, now, can I?

3) Guacamole and Lime Tostitos: I believe this to be the sacred combination. It is the holy, um, duo of snack foods in my mind. I make a mean guac, if I do say so myself. The key is using fresh ingredients and not overseasoning it. Seed your tomatoes, people (and on this, my boss and I differ—he’s informed me that tomatoes should never be mixed IN the guac and merely placed on top, but I say he’s too straightlaced and should live it up a little more). I loves me cilantro, so that gets a good rough chop and into the bowl it goes. Some chopped onion, fresh minced garlic (no less than one clove, and two if you're smart), and of course the avocados. Don’t MUSH them, just roughly dice. And then fresh ground pepper and some salt and voila--perfection.

4) Anything covered in Masterpiece Barbecue Sauce: for real. Well, now, I’m sure there are some exceptions. Halibut, for instance. I love halibut, but covered in Masterpiece? Not so sure. But chicken, steak, pork, name it, I’ll do it. It’s just so sweet, but yet so spicy and tangy!

5) Tri-tip steak with Maker’s Mark sauce, sautéed mushrooms, and artichoke: I guess this is more a meal than a food, huh? Whatever, It's my list. This is a Papa Miss Peach specialty, and we have it every time I’m home. The mushrooms are sautéed in butter and cooking sherry, the artichoke is steamed, and the Maker’s Mark sauce is semi-barbecue-y but it’s got a bourbon kick too. What’s a tri-tip, you ask? Some cut my father likes because—and I really do quote here—“It takes a least a scotch to cook the sucker.” Aw, that’s my pa!

Talkin' Dirty

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

I feel the need to preface this post by clearly stating the following:
--I really am a polite girl with good manners, who was well-raised. I like pearls and monograms, for god's sake.
--I really didn’t know what any of this was until at most a month ago. Really!
--Even though I’ve been referred to as the “tequila queen” and a “lush”, and I’m drunk twice in this story, I really don’t have a drinking problem. Really!
--If you are under 18, I think it might violate a law to read this.

You’ve never been more excited to read a post from me, have you? Dirty bastards!

Last week, Darren and I had dinner and drinks, which isn’t anything unusual. We went to the Emerald Inn which is always delightful. We drank some beer. Well, actually, we drank a lot of beer. So many that the waitress actually brought us a free round, which makes it a very successful evening in my book. And suffice it say that when we left, we were both a little inebriated.

We began to head towards the subway when the conversation turned towards strange sex practices, because Darren was telling me about his coworker who is working on an urban dictionary. (I can only imagine the crazy-ass Google hits I’m going to get after this post.)

Darren and I rarely talk about anything like this, so it was funny in and of itself that we had strayed near the topic. But we had, and he immediately mentioned the Dirty Sanchez—a move that Meg had actually once explained to me (I suspect it had to do with the aforementioned urban dictionary, though I again am not sure why we were talking about that, especially since we had met not more than 10 minutes earlier, but it was my birthday and I was again drunk). So, yeah. The Dirty Sanchez. Ewwwwwwww.

Well, this inevitably led to discussion of other disgusting moves. Like, say, the Donkey Punch. Which, what the hell? If you’re that calculated about it—and if you don’t have a problem punching your partner in the head—methinks you have some problems. And that’s just for starters. The other thing I learned about was the Chili Dog. That one put me over the edge. Who thought that up? Secondly, what is wrong with you?

All of these are just disgusting. Is anyone even really partaking in them? (Please don’t answer that.) They’re sick and they’re unsexy. They are absolutely, pointlessly dumb. And every single one degrades women in a really despicable way. But my main objection, to the chili dog in particular?

The cleanup. Seriously. Consider it.

*I really can’t tell my mother about this blog now, can I?

Stop, Thief!

Saturday, July 15, 2006

I've had a running joke with my extended family for about 21 years now, one that tends to take place at a restaurant in Michigan that we've been going to once a year for as long as I can remember. The Dam Site Inn opened in 1953 and is about a half hour away from where we go. My great-grandparents, Pop and Caroline, were their first and only customers on opening night back then, and the story goes that Pop gave the owner a talk about how he had to hang in there, people would come and they'd turn a profit. There used to be a picture of Pop and Caroline on the wall, but apparently there was a fire decades ago and the photo burned. (All of this has been handed down to us by my father and uncle, so I can't vouch for it. I think it's the truth, but they aren't the most reliable storytellers.)

There are many reasons why I love the Dam Site, and few have to do with the food. (By the way, they have a lot on the menu, but should you find yourself there, the chicken dinner is really the only thing to get.) Firstly, it's in the middle of nowhere. It's fun to pile all 22 of us into various cars and head out there for dinner. When I was little, we had CB radios in the cars for some unknown reason, and I vividly recall my cousin Keith wishing me a happy birthday over it that at the time (I had just turned 6) made me think that the DJ on the radio was giving me my own little shout-out.

Secondly, the place hasn't changed since it opened. It's hard to tell on the photos in the site, but the bar, for instance, is exactly the same as it was in 1953. It's so outdated now it's hip. They have all these funny old-school glasses that anywhere else I would call crappy, but there I call cool. It's very mod-in-the-50s, and it's a style I notice restauranteurs and bar owners spending a fortune on emulating here in NYC. They should really just go to the Dam Site, take some photos, and go to it.

Another--and this may be my favorite--funky thing about the place is the sign by the entrance to the lounge/hostess area, which is a message board (one of those ones with ridges that you fit the white plastic letters into) resting on an easel. It's in an ornate gold frame with glass and reads "WELCOME ALL YOU LOVELY PEOPLE". If I ever get married, I'm totally either borrowing or replicating that sign at the reception. No one will get the joke, but I don't care. I love it.

And then--the mints. The mints! They're those unwrapped old-school chalky white ones, and there's nothing better than grabbing and handful for the ride home. They're actually kind of disgusting, but it's tradition, so you have to have them. I'm now the recipient of half-chewed ones from my little cousins who bite into them and then spit them out, which is a time-honored tradition I once took part in.

Now, for the food. Firstly, they serve a relish tray that is a toss-back to times long gone. It's got leeks and radishes in a vase-like holder on top, and then there are all these little compartments surrounding it on the bottom which contain: corn relish, pickled watermelon rinds, canned peaches, pickle rounds, beets, and a few other things I cannot remember. And they serve you a basket of crackers--an assortment of saltines, ritz crackers, and other out-of-the-box varieties. And then the chicken dinner. It's good--it's fried chicken, and peas, and mashed potatoes, which are fine. But the noodles and the biscuits are to DIE for. It's gotten to the point where I have one small chicken breast and then just eat the noodles and biscuits. And since it's all you can eat, we always get a ton more biscuits right towards the end, and then take them back for breakfast. Warmed up with butter and jam... yum. My perfect breakfast.

But, wait, I started off by talking about the joke right? Sorry about that. So when I was about 6, my uncle started sticking salt or pepper packets in my jacket, which of course scandalized me because it was stealing. Over the years, it escalated to butter packets and silverware. I finally got back at my cousin's boyfriend by slipping a spoon into his jacket, and he didn't find it until the next time he put that jacket on, for a wedding 9 months later. Nice payoff! But as hard as I'd try to be on guard, my uncle, dad or cousins always got me. Two years ago, they loaded my purse with the chalky mints, and when I say loaded, I mean they put hundreds in there. That bag still has white dust coating the inside.

So this year, my guard was up, and I put my purse directly under my feet at the table. At the end of the night we all went outside to mill around before piling in the cars. We got out there, and I opened my purse to get my phone, where I found a foot-long pepper mill from the table. I was speechless, grabbed and held it up, and looked at my family with my mouth open, and they all burst out laughing. Apparently Ayden, my 4-year-old cousin, had been sent under the table to put it in my purse.

I need to get back at them next year, so all or any suggestions welcome. And no, I didn't return the pepper mill. What was I going to say, "This somehow wound up in my purse!"? Plus, I kind of wanted to keep it. That was a feat!

I'm So Far Behind, I'll Never Catch Up

Saturday, July 08, 2006

I still haven't even posted my recap from Impromptu Blogger Meet-Up 2006... Things have been busy. In the past two weeks I have:
--Been thrown a surprise party by my fabulous friends, early enough that I had positively no idea anything was up.
--Been given a pig kazoo at said party, which will officially go down as the best gift ever.
--Been promoted and given many new responsibilities at work, which is both thrilling and terrifying and means I'll be even busier, but good stuff nonetheless.
--Built a sandcastle with my adorable 4-year-old cousin, who, when we put the flag in the top, wrapped his chubby little hands around my neck, buried his head in my shoulder, and sighed, "You're beautiful."
--Been informed by my uncle numerous times that I am "full of as much shit as your father", which in my family is one hell of a compliment.
--Hit a golf ball at my father, by accident of course, which missed his head by maybe three inches, eliciting the response, "Hey, whatever happened to fore?"
--Gone sailing.
--Gone motorboating.
--Eaten too much ice cream. (Well, when I tally it up, it sounds like too much. But I think I speak the truth when I say you can never truly have too much ice cream.)
--Celebrated my actual birthday with my extended family of 15 adults and 5 children under 8, complete with a rousing round of Pin the Tail on the Donkey. When you've all had a few cocktails, trust me, this is as much fun for the adults as it is for the kids.
--Danced on stage with a tambourine to a local (and legendary) band, along with my friend's sister, while all 40 people we came with cheered. Um, fun. And, yes, there was some beer involved.

I'm on vacation with my family up in northern Michigan, and have been for a week now. The weather is beautiful, my family is hilarious and healthy and fun, and I've been reconnecting with old friends as I do every year at this time. I'm so happy and lucky to have a place and people like this in my life, and I can already feel the lump forming when I think about leaving on Monday. That starts two phases. One: reentry, where I hate my life and walk around the city wondering why the hell I'm not a teacher so that I can spend all summer here. Two: countdown to July 4, 2007.

I'll be back next week, rested, tannish, and dreaming of Up North. See you then!