December 13, 2012

Ok, Cupid, You Lured Me In

The plan was dinner at home then happy hour at a bar that could promise loads of handsome and single Prince Charmings who would, of course, be hypnotized and transfixed by our intellect and ravishing beauty. Yes, that was how our Thursday night was designed to play out.

My friend poured a glass of wine as I finished off a crude and hasty version of homemade marinara sauce. A few bites in and her phone chimed in with a message, seconds later a bright pink notification light shined from my phone as well.

She had a new message from OkCupid, while I had a new five-star rating from the same site. Just a couple of days before, we both joined the free online dating site. Several of our friends were on it, we’re both single, and it’s free to use – “Why not?” we thought.

Since our profiles were fresh and new, the site’s search algorithms ensured that we showed up more often in search results and appeared more frequently for the array of eligible bachelors on the site. All of which adds up to loads of messages, five-star ratings, and uncomfortably high amounts of profile views.

“Oooh! He’s cute! Should I message him?” asked my friend as she showed me photos of a guy just shy of 30. He was good looking and his photos showed him out with friends, smiling from the top of some mountain, and hugging his dog.

She decided to keep shopping around.

“How come he hasn’t replied to my message? We would sort of be perfect for each other, I mean we’re an 84% match,” I said out of frustration as I showed my friend photos of a dashing tall, dark and handsome type who OkCupid rated as one who “replies selectively.”

I guess I didn’t make the cut on that one, time for another glass of wine.

Soon enough, we migrated from the app on our phones to our laptops so we could have a full-screen view of all of the potential dates or mates we might meet. All too quickly, two glasses of wine turned into three and before long the entire bottle was empty.

“WHAT?! How is he a match?!” my friend exclaimed as she quickly turned around her computer to reveal a super overweight guy with way too much hair on his face and a joint with smoke shrouding any sort of recognizable features on his face. Sexy.

“Umm, I don’t even know what to do with this,” I said as I turned my computer to show my friend.

“TieMeUp4u, sweet screen name. Totally appropriate, all he has are bondage pics in his underwear! What the hell?!”

It was after 9:00, happy hour was definitely out of the question at this point in the evening. We both mustered up the courage to message some of our top picks. My friend carefully selected only the cream of the crop, whereas I, suffering from a bout of intense professional networking, messaged anyone and everyone who seemed like they had a good story attached to them.

Around midnight we finished our OkCupid marathon and went to sleep in a wine-induced haze. The next day, the hangover headache wasn’t the only consequence from the night before, I had an inbox full of several messages from guys I vaguely recalled messaging, all of whom had date proposals. My friend, on the other hand, had a single reply from someone who turned out to be a fantastic first date for her.

Ooops. Never ever mix wine with fake online dates. It’s like creeping on Facebook, except not nearly as anonymous as one might hope. Lesson learned, indeed.  

December 5, 2012

Daily meltdown

Five minutes in and sweat is dripping out of every imaginable inch of my body – my forearms, the sides of my stomach, my calves – places I didn’t even realized produced sweat!

“Look back, fall back! More back!” prompts the teacher. There’s a loud clap, “Change!” My head leads the way, slowly bringing my backwardly bent body upright. I try not to put pressure on my lower back, my legs are shaking as I ever so slowly come back up and see my face in the mirror.

...which by this point is beet red and also drenched in sweat. “Oh man, I’m only 10 minutes into the 90 minute class… it seems like I’ve been in here an eternity.”

But I somehow always manage to survive. Today marked day 17 of a 30-day challenge of daily hot yoga.

Each day I go to the class knowing exactly what to expect. The room is always 105 degrees and 40% humidity. The poses are the same each day, done in the same order, for the same amount of time. But inside, my body feels dramatically different from the day before.

Most people think of Bikram yoga as a special little corner of hell. More often than not, the first class drives people into a dizzy, nauseated state leaving them wishing they had never walked into the hot room in the first place.

The class is stressful, it’s hard to stare at your own terrifically sweaty body for 90 minutes. Harder still is avoiding the inevitable comparison of those around you – old men, super fit young ladies, not-so-fit people trying to make a positive change in their life – you name the type, and odds are they’ll be right beside you, in front of or behind you, sweating more than is humanly possible.

It’s a mental battle to stay awake, focused, and moving during the class. The experience is wildly uncomfortable and it’s almost as if your mind retaliates for putting your body into a furnace for an hour and half. Crazy thoughts creep in and emotions tucked deep in your heart are released in your throat, and up out of your mouth in a quick fit of hysteria.

Then you’re on the floor again, for a moment, allowing your mind to cool off and your heart to chill out a bit. The feeling soon passes and whether you know it or not, you’re suddenly lighter.

The lightness doesn’t kick in until about a half hour after class. At which point you’re suddenly the highest high you can imagine, provided you downed at least a liter of water. Stress is gone, relaxation sets in, and the high lingers with every subsequent sip of water.

Tomorrow, I’ll wake up and do it all over again. And my body will thank me for it. My laundry budget, on the other hand, will not be so grateful.

I'm 24 and broke up with my job

A year ago I was giddy with excitement at my new job at a fabulous advertising agency. I was going to be creating brilliant campaigns! Developing strategies! And beating impossible deadlines!

All of which, I did.

In doing so, my friendships tanked, my face got zitty and at one point, 10 days before a huge event, my body broke out in stress-related hives.

Don’t get me wrong, I adored my co-workers and my company did some fantastic work, but my heart and body were screaming at my mind to get with the program and get back to what I do best. So that’s what I’m trying to do now, reconnect with things I’m passionate about and genuinely good at.

The trouble is that all of the things I’m good at are soft skills. If I may compare my talents to food, my signature cuisine would look a lot like a fine French bakery: sweet, savory, delicious and certainly not always necessary to have.

Connecting, storytelling, organizing puzzling projects, analyzing others -- these are the things I’m really good at, but that doesn’t mean I have companies knocking down my door for my services.

Like almost every other 20-something in the US, I’m saddled with loads of student debt and a pathetic excuse for a savings account. The current economic climate for my generation is a distinct and classic mix of glasses half-full and half-empty.

The half-full crew are the brilliant entrepreneurs of the startup movement. Encouraged by new technology and driven by the spirit to change the world, these folks have the brilliant ideas and skills to make our world more engaged and connected than ever.

On the same token, there is this little monster known as the “recession.” The news tells us the job market is toxic and impenetrable, businesses are dreading the impending Fiscal Cliff and consequently nervous to bring on new hires, and the global economic health is feeble and in need of a bowl of chicken soup.

As a result of both perspectives, I feel simultaneously excited for new prospects and silly for walking away from something stable and reliable. It’s as if I called off an engagement to a man I was planning on marrying.

Up until this fall, I had never in my life had to put in a two-week notice.  What’s worse is that I didn’t even have a backup job, a “rebound,” if you will. When it’s not right, it’s not right, so I cut my losses and walked away.

Now 20 days in to this strange purgatory of exploration and investigation, I feel more in tune with myself than I have in months. However, being in-tune with oneself doesn’t necessarily pay the bills.

Every single (un)employed person out there has something unique to contribute to the world. I know I have a little something special, too. It’s just a matter of finding a soul mate, err perfect profession, which is mutually compatible.

 improve. think.