My Brief Adventure in Online Dating: A Campfire Horror Story

This morning on the train to work, I was absentmindedly finishing a crossword puzzle that a previous commuter had started and then abandoned on the seat, when I happened to glance at the horoscope section. I usually pay no attention to this section, it’s not my cup of tea. I prefer the puzzles. But this one was ironically pertinent to something that’s been on my mind a lot lately: online dating. Once upon a time I was briefly introduced to this bizarre and awkward phenomenon and honestly, I don’t know how people do it. God bless you if you have the patience for it, I gave up after two dates.

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Here’s today’s horoscope. File under “Duh.”

I have nothing against online dating, I know several people who’ve had some luck with it, and it was at their suggestion that I eventually decided to give it a shot. A college friend recently became engaged to a wonderful woman he met on a dating site, and my brother found his current partner the same way. And let’s face it, I wasn’t doing all that well going about it the old-fashioned way. I hadn’t had any interest whatsoever in anyone who had asked me out in person in months, except for one, and he had apparently decided I was an unbearable waste of time after one date.

So I decided to give it a shot. College Friend gave me some pointers. “People use old pictures of themselves and exaggerate.” he said. “And sometimes men have a tendency to get nasty and aggressive if you don’t respond to them.” Oh okay, so it’s like real life, I thought. “Oh, and don’t expect to find somebody right away. I literally went on like 40 dates before I met my lady.”

40 dates? I was stunned, this endeavor seemed like it would require more time and effort on my part than any hobby I had ever had. That was a college degree’s amount of time. I asked my brother if this had been his experience. He said no, but there were only a handful of gay guys in his area on the site he had signed up for, and he “just picked the best looking one and ended up lucking out.”

Still, I figured there was no harm in trying. I signed up. I filled out my little profile and uploaded some recent selfies. I had no idea what I was in for. This is in no way designed to discourage anyone from giving it a shot…it might work for you. But it certainly didn’t work for me, and I figure after the nervous tic I’ve developed as a result of the experience, at least maybe someone out there will get a good laugh out of it.

When you first sign up for these things, and you’re a female with all her teeth and no visible oozing boils, you get a lot of responses. Within minutes. The majority of them were standard and boring, probably a generic inquiry that had been copied, pasted and sent to every new woman who popped up on the site. But a couple were downright disturbing. One person sent me a message, asking I was a ‘sub’ or a ‘dom’…and I had to google that because I had no idea what he was talking about. Oh! Excuse my French, but DaFuq you asking me about that for, sir? Was there something about my choice of outfits or hairstyle that made you think I was into such business? I was not happy.

I eventually ended up going out on two dates. I’ll leave out certain identifying details and names because I don’t want to be mean, even though these men will ever see this blog, or know anyone else who will see it.

DATE #1

First date I accepted was a man who appeared pretty normal. He was about my age, attractive, and seemed intelligent. We chatted for a while online and then texted. He said he lived in my town and asked if I’d be interested in meeting up for a drink at one of the local restaurants nearby. I went, we had a few drinks and we were have having a pleasant time, discussing how weird online dating was for a first-timer. He kept saying, “I’m so glad you look like your picture. Oh wow, you look like your pictures. The last couple women I went out with looked nothing like their pictures, they were beasts.”

Of course I look like my pictures. They’re pictures of me, dummy. And you’re starting to sound a bit douchey.

He appeared to be getting a little drunk. Then he said something odd. He asked if I wanted to meet up with a few of his neighbors at a party that was three towns away. Now, I’m obviously not going to get in a car and drive to an undisclosed location with a stranger; I’m not trying to end up hogtied in someone’s trunk. I watch Lifetime, I know what’s up. But it wasn’t the fact that he asked that caught my attention, it was that his neighbors lived three towns away, and he supposedly lived here. “Don’t you live here?” I asked, confused.

You know that look someone gets when they let something slip and have to come up with a quick response to rectify the boo-boo they just made? Except they’ve been drinking and their brain isn’t working correctly?

Him: Errr. I live here sometimes, off and on. I’ve been…umm.. staying with my friend.
Me: Why? I thought you had a house in town.
Him: Well, I’m divorced and my wife is in the house right now.
Me: You’re divorced and you still live with your ex-wife?
Him: Well, we’re technically not divorced, we’re separated but you know how that goes.

I wondered if his wife knew they were separated.

Now, maybe this guy was separated, maybe he was just going through an unfortunate breakup where mutual property had to be divvied up. I don’t know. Anything’s possible. But if it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it’s probably a duck. As far as I was concerned, he may as well have been wearing a nametag that said, “Hello, I’m a damn duck.”

DATE #2


This man was a little bit younger than I was, but only a couple years. I figured at the very least that meant he wasn’t married. And he was really funny. I like funny. He asked if I wanted to meet up for a drink after work. I said okay.

He seemed to be getting a lot of calls while we were sitting at the bar. I mean, A LOT. He had said he worked in a certain sales profession that I had also worked in, one which requires you to constantly be on the phone if you want to make any money. I assumed that was why, but these calls were coming with an irate Baby-Mama frequency, and he wasn’t answering any of them. “You can answer that,” I said, and I excused myself to go to the bathroom. And kind of took my time lurking around the corner. As soon as I was out of sight, he picked up the 587th call he had received in a two hour period.

“Jesus, Mom. I’m on a date! God! I’ll be home later.”

Well, I guess living with your mom is better than living with your wife, and while there are a few legitimate reasons one might end up temporarily residing with a parent at our age…perhaps they’re ill, or you’re ill, or you move out of one apartment and can’t move into the next one for a month…I know that shit sometimes happens in life, but he had said that he lived alone. I smelled a fibber. This was not starting off well. 

He Facebook messaged me about a week later and asked if I wanted to meet him and his friends at some 2$ pitcher night at a dive bar. I thought that was odd because he had my phone number. I said thank you for asking, but I have plans already. He then proceeded to FB message me several times in succession asking if I wanted him to come out and meet me instead, but I would have to call him an Uber because he had gotten really drunk and smashed his phone several nights before. I again said no thank you, I already had plans. About a week later he texted me and said he had finally gotten his phone fixed. How are you in sales, yet you manage to be sans phone for over a week? Quack quack. Quack.

At this point I was done with online dating. Maybe I don’t mind being alone enough to put in the effort, but I just didn’t feel like I had it in me to repeat this 40 times. First dates are awkward enough, they sometimes feel like job interviews. Job interviews you have to do on a Friday night, over and over again. And you don’t even know if you want the job to begin with. Maybe there is no job to be had. Maybe someone else already has the job you’re interviewing for.

College Friend said I gave up too quickly. “You can’t get all bitter and throw in the towel that easily!” he scolded. But the way I look at it, it’s the exact opposite. I’m throwing in the towel so I don’t become bitter.

Happy dating.

Posted in dating, online dating, relationships, single life, Uncategorized | 7 Comments

Spring Cleaning: a short poem

I’m done spring cleaning, more or less
I’m left with one concern:
Your memory haunts my favorite dress,
And rayon’s hard to burn.

Posted in catharsis, new beginnings, poetry, single life | Leave a comment

The Shelf Life of Phones…and Friendships.

I’ve had the same cellphone for over a year. It has remained unscratched, unscathed, so I’ve had no need to replace it. This tiny device held a year’s worth of phone numbers, over 3,000 random photos, a novel’s worth of text messages I had never bothered to delete. Like a tiny electronic time capsule.

Last week I went to retrieve it, along with my keys, from their usual place on my bureau. Neither were there. Confused, I looked around, and noticed my keys on the floor by the wastebasket. I bent down to retrieve them and noticed my phone IN the wastebasket. The empty, antique, wrought iron wastebasket. The hard wastebasket. The screen completely shattered as though it had been in a 10-car pileup.

I love photography and am overly Instagrammy, so my phone is set to jump to camera mode when it’s jostled. You know, so I can instantly snap a picture of a bird flying by or my dog making a funny face when he pees on something. Upon its being pushed off the wall into the dark oblivion, a photo was snapped. This was the last photo in my gallery.

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Mystery solved. My cat’s an asshole. Anyway…

I ordered a new phone online, it was delivered. The pamphlet enclosed prompted me to backup my photos and contacts via the company’s cloud. I have a computer science background, and I know things can go wrong during this process. I don’t trust tech support unless I’m the one doing it. I transferred my photos to my computer. Then I sat down to manually write down the phone numbers of my contacts in case there was some “issue.”

Friends, family, work. Doo doo doo, writing numbers over and over, whistling while I worked. Then I came across a number. Ten digits that hit me in the stomach like a sledgehammer.

I’m not special, this isn’t a special story. We all have one of these stories.

It’s a boring story, so I’ll make it brief. I knew a boy. I knew of him for years, because we had grown up in the same town and had mutual friends. I got to actually know him through a shared love of art which turned into lengthy Facebook conversations, then text.  After a few weeks he invited me up to see him. I was hesitant. I’m kind of a lone wolf and to be honest, I almost didn’t go, I actually contemplated saying I was sick halfway up the NJ turnpike. I’m the anti-romantic and I really wasn’t trying to date anyone at that current time. Plus, I had on weird sweatsocks underneath my dress and I had missed a spot while shaving my legs. I really wasn’t expecting anything and was wondering how soon I could get home if I left at midnight. I didn’t even think it was a date. But for some reason I went, and within the hour I was giggling and blushing like a schoolgirl. I won’t say it was love at first sight, but to say I was smitten is an understatement. Which doesn’t ever happen to me. Ever.

We stayed up until dawn. I didn’t go home til the morning, I drove home singing with a big, stupid smile on my face. I was so embarrassingly giddy.

And he liked me too…for that night.

No more soup for you, girl. Thanks for playing.

I guess you could say I’m lucky that’s never happened to me before, but it doesn’t matter if it’s happened to you once or 50 times, it still stings like a bitch. Nobody likes rejection to begin with, but add that to the fact that I have a tendency to be a little sensitive and this was someone I really admired, on both an artistic and an intellectual level. Was I not smart enough? Not pretty enough?. Not funny enough? It took me a while to stop overanalyzing what exactly was so wrong with me. All because this one random person did not fancy me. One little person in a city full of people. In a world full of people.

Why do we spend so much time trying to repair broken friendships instead of using that time and energy to make new ones? For me, I think it had less to do with how interesting and smart I had thought this person was and more to do with the fact I did not want to admit to myself that I had been so brutally rejected. I plummeted to a fiery death, no two ways about it. I don’t know why I kept his number in my phone, I guess I was hoping at some point we could be friends again. I texted him a few times regarding an art exhibit that reminded me of him and a trip I had taken to a destination I thought he’d enjoy. He always replied. With lame three word responses. And that made me feel even worse..

So here I was, writing down my contacts, coming across his number. And something shifted inside me. It wasn’t anything dramatic, as though I felt a major organ bursting into flames. I just felt a sort of calm, as though a constant buzzing that had somehow become white noise over the past couple months had just stopped…like a motor that finally gave up. I didn’t care anymore. I felt nothing. And it was nice.

Not everyone in this world is going to like me. And one requirement of any kind of friendship is that the other person has to participate.

I didn’t write down his number. I transferred my service to my new phone.

And my contacts were lost in the process. Maybe it was the universe trying to tell me something. Unfixable phone, unfixable friendship.

Good riddance.


Posted in being alone, dating, depression, rejection, relationships, single life, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Sojournin’. Solo.

“Goin’ places that I’ve never been,
Seein’ things that I may never see again…
I can’t wait to get on the road again.”
-Willie Nelson

I travelled solo for the first time in my life this year. And it was glorious.

I love to travel, yet I seldom do. I’d been on a few trips with family or boyfriends before, and several with friends, but mostly when I was a bit younger and the vacation was to somewhere Spring-breaky and centered around being drunk half the time and lying out slathered in tanning lotion the other half. At that age, that was a-okay with me, but I’m a bit older now. Not old, but a little older. I’ve taken a few trips once I became a “grown-up” but while my friends are amazing people and awesome company, they don’t have the same interests I do. If there was a museum I wanted to see or a scenic walk I wanted to take, I generally broke off and did it myself. I knew this was the case ahead of time so I wasn’t surprised or disappointed, and everyone was okay with it…they went to the pool while I went to the monkey sanctuary or the local historic ruin, and we met up at the bar later. On each and every trip, though, I was making a list in the back of my brain, of all the things I would do when I came back to this place with a suitable travelling partner, with a kindred spirit if I ever found one, if one existed.

I always thought a vacation was something you did with somebody else. There were places I wanted to go, but the process of planning a trip around the work schedules and budgets of two or more people can put a serious damper on one’s motivation to get the ball rolling. That’s if you even have someone interested in going with you, which I sometimes did not.

The last non-solo vacation I took was the one that caused me to question why I felt the need to travel with another person instead of just going by myself. I went to California for the first time last year, with someone I was dating. We’d been dating casually for a couple weeks. It wasn’t as though I had met him at the Wal-Mart the previous Friday or anything, I knew the guy well enough to feel comfortable going out of town with him. The thing is, we had never spent an extended period of time alone together. What I knew about his interests weren’t based on observation, just on what he had told me. And wow, he seemed to like everything that I liked. I’m sure you can see where this is going….I liked animals, he liked animals! I liked hiking, surfing, the ocean. Well, so did he! I liked art and photography…well golly, he did too! So when he asked me to go on vacation I thought okay, this is a little soon but it sounds like we’d have fun engaging in our mutual interests. Besides, it was domestic travel, I could always come back early if things didn’t work out. We weren’t going to some foreign country where he could push me off a cliff and take advantage of their non-extradition laws, or steal my passport and sell me to a brothel. I said yes, I was excited. I bought some pretty sundresses and a new bikini and packed my little suitcase. I was dumb.

To to make a long story short, it became evident after our arrival that he didn’t actually enjoy any of my preferred activities at all. He had merely been parroting back everything I had expressed interest in. To woo me I guess, I don’t know.  He had an entire itinerary planned that included one thing I would enjoy for every 9 things he wanted to do.  I honestly thought we were going to go hiking, visit a museum or two, and spend time walking around on the beach enjoying the beautiful weather and change of scenery. My idea of a beautiful night would have been a picnic on the beach with a bottle of cheap wine and the moon, the reflection of the stars off the ocean. The sound of nothing. My perfect night basically costs 20$ and the company of somebody I like. He wanted to go shopping on Rodeo Drive, eat in expensive restaurants and sit by the hotel pool drinking 20$ beers.

Now, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that if that’s how you enjoy spending your vacation, but that’s not me. I didn’t want to do any of that. I did do it, with a smile on my face, trying to make the best of things and waiting for the time slots he had scheduled for my activities. Eventually we did go hiking and to the beach, but with his constant looking at his watch, talking on the phone, and complaining about how hot it was the whole time. He was behaving like a gloomy, fart-scented cloud. Here I was, in this beautiful place, not enjoying myself. I didn’t have the balls to say anything, so I just endured it and counted the days until it was time to go home.

It made me sad. I would have had so much more fun had I been there alone. And then I realized I didn’t need a travelling companion. Why did I wait for someone to ask me to visit a destination that interested me instead of just going by myself? I’m a grownup, I have airplane miles. I have an okay job and a couple bucks in the bank and a credit card. I can’t go to Wales or Monaco and live in a castle but I can get a cheap coach flight to Cali if I watch my money for a few months. So this year, I took my first solo vacation. I went to California for the first time…again. Alone.

I went hiking alone.

 

I woke up and watched the sun rise alone. Ate breakfast alone. Except for my koi buddies at the hotel.

 

I went to the beach every day. Alone.

 

 

I went to the Getty Museum and their amazing gardens. Alone.

 

 

I got fancypantsed up and went to a beach bar. Alone. And then took weird pictures of myself in the hotel elevator.
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I went to Catalina, Hollywood, Santa Monica. Took photos, walked aimlessly about, ate a Korean taco off of a food truck, stared at the birds. Alone.

 


And I had the best vacation of my life.

Posted in photography, single life, travel, Uncategorized, vacation | 2 Comments

The Confused Vegetarian Makes Bloody Beet Steak.

I despise going to the supermarket, especially on a holiday weekend. I’ve read that the average person spends about five years of their lifetime waiting in lines, and while I can’t vouch for the accuracy of that statistic, it certainly seemed well within the realm of possibility after schlepping around a crowded grocery store on Easter weekend. I feel like I’ve already spent five years waiting in line. I think I spent that much time waiting in line today.

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Hi, I’m the Grim Reaper. If you die waiting in line, I’m right behind ya.

The grocery store is never a pleasant experience for me, and it’s partially due to the fact that I’m not very organized. I can’t remember the last time I made a list before I went shopping. I’ll venture out for something I need, wander around through the herds of slowpokes strolling up and down the aisles and playing on their smartphones, slowly becoming more and more agitated. I usually end up randomly throw a few interesting-looking things in my basket, some vegetarian item or whatever the powers-that-be on PBS are calling a superfood this week. Even if I have no clue what they are or how to cook them. Then I leave without the item I originally came for.

Sometimes this haphazard style of shopping turns into a happy accident, sometimes it doesn’t. As a sidenote, the first time I bought a plantain I thought it was just a really giant, supercool banana. They were in a bin next to the bananas, they looked like bananas. I was excited because I love bananas. I went home, cut one up and put it on my cereal. What a shitty banana, I thought. This one must not be ripe. I ate half of another one and then gave up. I had quite an unfortunate stomach problem for the rest of the day. I found out later you’re supposed to cook them. Oopsy.

On the other hand, I’ve learned to cook some rather interesting things because I’m always lacking the staples necessary to make normal meals. Due to my spaciness, my cupboards and fridge are filled with oddities and yet missing exotic things like salt and bread. If I can’t make anything that tastes all that fantastic, I try to amuse myself by at least making it look fun.  Ironically, for someone who doesn’t eat meat, I more often than not end up with something that looks like it belongs in a horror movie: a pomegranate massacre, a bleeding tofu snack, or a vegan Easter cake I made, featuring the Monty Python rabbit who bludgeoned travelling passerby and lived in a cave strewn with skulls.

Maybe I should see a psychiatrist. Okay, back to my story.

Today, all I needed was toothpaste. Wegman’s was packed with every mother and screaming child in the tri-state area, plus a couple of their cousins and their cousin’s cousins. There were no little carts left and somebody ran over my foot with their big cart and then glared at me as I hopped around in agony like a monkey. I wasn’t even halfway through the produce department and I was over it. So what did I end up with? A bag of, um… beets.

I was relieved to be out of the chaos, but when I got home I was hungry. I’ve actually never eaten a beet before, I grabbed them because I was reminded of an episode of ‘Hannibal’ where Dr. Chilton is disemboweled and can only eat vegetables, so Dr. Lechter makes him some kind of beet salad. I don’t know how many people get their culinary inspiration from a television show about a serial killer who eats people for dinner, but now we know there is at least one. Howdy.

So, thanks to Google and a couple hours of free time, today I learned how to make a “bloody beet steak.”

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It’s fairly easy, you simply wash your beets, cut the tops off and rub them with olive oil. I put mine in a baking dish at 375 degrees for two hours until they were tender, then peeled the skin off and cut them into about 1 inch slices. I sprinkled each side with a bit of salt and pepper and threw them in a skillet until they looked slightly browned on each side, let them chill in the fridge and threw them over some greens. The dressing is a plain old red wine vinaigrette: half a cup of olive oil and a quarter cup of red wine vinegar with a smidge of crushed garlic, a pinch of salt and pepper and some of the remaining beet juice to make it extra red.

I have discovered that I love beets. They’re delicious, and amazingly healthy, no matter how horrifically bloody they appear. I found tons of recipes online for everything from beet cake to beet smoothies to beet salsa.

I also found a few articles detailing the horrors of those who ended up freaking out the day after eating their first big ol’ batch of beets. Apparently they give you pink tinkle, so eat a beet, but watch out for that. You’re welcome.

I’m now going to sit down and enjoy my bloody beets. And then brush my teeth with peroxide and baking soda because I just remembered I forgot to buy my damn toothpaste.

Happy Easter.

Posted in beets, cooking, foodporn, healthy eating, vegetarian | Leave a comment

Apparently, I smell like a teenage boy.

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Rub a dub dub, there’s nothing on Netflix.

I love baths, but not Bath and Body Works. It’s just not my thing. I don’t like to smell like food, it’s weird. But…sigh…since I’m a female and I live in America, I receive tons of this stuff every holiday: cookie-scented lotion, watermelon hand sanitizer, Santa Cinnamon butt wash. I don’t like to be wasteful, and I do sincerely appreciate the thought behind each and every gift I receive from anyone, so I use it. From December 24 until mid-March my skin, hair and hands smell like everything from Papaya to Coconut to baked goods. I think I’ve used every lotion and wash that company has ever put on the market. It’s not a bad group of products, but I prefer darker, muskier scents. I like Black Opium and Secret Obsession, and I’m the only person I know my age who wears Chanel No. 5. I like older, stronger smells.  I do not want to smell like a fresh little strawberry in a puppy’s mouth on a pink beach, I prefer to smell like a French prostitute who has been chain smoking Marlboro Reds all day.

So we’ve established I’m not a Bath and Body Works girl. At least, I wasn’t until two weeks ago when I was digging around in the bottom of one of my Christmas gift baskets. I came across this stuff, Lemon Zest Sugar scrub. It looked suspicious, but shorts season is approaching so I figured I could use it on my scary ashy knees. I usually make my own, if you’re interested you just mix coconut oil and white sugar with lemon juice and scrub away. It’s cheap, natural, and it works. A few times I felt fancy and put pureed ginger and orange zest in it but I don’t recommend that, it clogs up your tub drain with what looks like secret vomit in the pipes of a sorority house. Just a word of advice.

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Okay, back to the point. Lo and behold, this was the most glorious thing I have ever smelled. It didn’t smell like lemons, it had some odd cologne-ish fragrance. The scent lasted all day, and it reminded me of something familiar and pleasant I couldn’t quite place. I wanted to spend all day smelling my elbows. I smelled so good I wanted to ask myself out to dinner and put a roofie in my own drink. Two friends and several people at work confirmed this as well…they sniffed me and said, “What are you wearing? That smells familiar.” I said, Bath and Body Works Energy scrub. They said, “No, that’s not it. What is that? I like it, I know that smell.” And they sniffed again.

After about ten days of using this stuff, today I solved the mystery. Or rather, my best friend did. He had consumed a few beers and was staring at me in an odd, petulant way.  Almost bitchy. “What’s your fucking problem, sister?” I hissed. His response: “Umm. Are you wearing that horrible 90s teenage boy aftershave? Drakkar?”

Holy crap. A lightbulb went off above my head and then shattered. That’s the smell. That is exactly what this stuff smells like. Like standing downwind of any cluster of males under 18 in high school. My first boyfriend pretty much took baths in Drakkar, and he was a lovely person, probably still is. Maybe that’s why I found the smell subconsciously comforting. It reminded me of being 16.

I’ve been walking around smelling like a teenage boy. For over a week. And you know what, I don’t think I care. In fact, I’ll buy another tub of this next time I’m at the mall, walking around. Smelling like a teenage boy.

Posted in bathing, beauty, cosmetics, wellness | Leave a comment

“I go out walking, after midnight…”

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Most of us unfortunately have contact with at least one shitty person on a daily basis. Someone whose stinky, sweatsock-scented juju wafts off of them into your space like itching powder or the fragrance of an old piece of gorgonzola left out in the sun. No matter how positive you try to be, no many how many deep breaths you take or “ommms” you mouth when no one is looking, the stinky juju affects you. There’s really nothing you can do about it; it’s like anthrax, you can’t wave it away. Smile and breathe deeply out alternate nostrils all you want but if you’re forced to share an office with someone who does nothing but scowl and sigh all day (or worse yet, share a home with someone who does the same) you may have to focus on damage control after the fact, not prevention. Stinky juju kicks the ass of happiness every time. It’s just a fact, I don’t make the rules.


I’m one of those people that really tries to be happy. I wake up every day and decide to be happy, and then I think of something I’m thankful for. I admit there’ve been days when the only thing I could come up with was, “I’m really glad I’m not missing a leg” or “I’m grateful I don’t have that virus that eats holes your skin.” A couple weeks ago I started the day with, “I’m really glad only one of my cats died and not both.” But I did it. I try.

However, I do have to venture out into the world because no one pays me to play on Instagram and draw pictures, and I inevitably come across someone who pollutes my happy space with their stinky juju. Perhaps you work alongside shitty people, or even worse, you are forced to reside with shitty people. I had several years where I dealt with both, and that’s when I discovered the relief of walking at night. It’s remedial meditation, designed for people with nowhere to meditate.

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I first began walking at night many moons ago, when I was in what could best be described as a subpar situation. I had recently moved back to Philadelphia and agreed to take over half the rent on a townhouse, occupied by someone I “sort of knew.” Translated, that means she knew someone who knew someone I knew…but I was a bartender, I knew a lot of people. You bartend in a major city, you know everyone who has mixed a drink or carried a tray. It doesn’t necessarily mean they’re your friends or people you’d want to be friends with. I take partial responsibility, I’m a smart girl and I knew better, but I was somewhat desperate for time and I figured it couldn’t be that bad. I worked 12 hours a day minimum and had college classes on top of that, and was never home. I just needed a place to sleep. I had one day off. I figured it couldn’t be that bad.

I was wrong.

I won’t go into too much detail, because the specifics are something I’m saving for a low-budget horror movie I plan on writing once I can remember the details without involuntarily twitching from a ‘Nam-style flashback and diving under the couch. I’m kidding, but the details aren’t important right now. All I’ll say for background purposes is, this young woman was unpleasant company in every sense of the word, The few hours I was home, I didn’t want to be. I wanted to be anywhere but in that house.

So I started walking. I’d get home late at night and walk up to the 24 hour supermarket to pick out something for dinner, or I’d walk along the the main street in town and just watch the people spilling out of the bars. Sometimes I’d just stroll around the neighborhood, looking at the rows of old houses and watching raccoons dig around in their corresponding garbage bins. It started out as an escape, but I realized after a while it cleared my head. I never stopped.

I’m lucky enough to spend most of my time in an area where walking in the dark doesn’t pose a safety hazard, our “crime blotter” is pretty much limited to shoplifters caught at the local mall. I could probably walk around here naked with money taped to my forehead and no one would bother me, except the police because they’re bored and have few other crimes to attend to. When I’m in the city I limit my walking to populated areas during the reasonably lit hours, which I don’t find as relaxing, but in the suburbs I can walk around all night if I want to. Sometimes I have done just this. I do take my dog with me, who is substantial in size and has a tendency to lunge and snarl at strangers, despite my best attempts to train this out of him. In the off chance a zombie in a Brooks Brothers outfit tries to sneak up on me, I’m covered. I also have my phone in case of an emergency, but I have the ringer off and I only use it to take random pictures of shadows and churches…for no particular reason except that it makes me feel artsy-fartsy.

 

Nothing clears your head like the dark night air. It blankets all the ugliness you see during the daytime, like the dustings of snow everyone loves because they cover the garbage, dog poop and unkempt lawns. The constant, chaotic noise of the waking hours can no longer be heard, it’s replaced by crickets, the occasional sound of a Canada Goose overhead and the rhythmic sound of my dog’s jingling ID tags. I can see the lights from televisions flickering in the windows of the neighborhood houses from the sidewalk, sometimes I see a family sitting down to dinner through a kitchen window. Someone’s mom washing the dishes, a kid playing with his dog through a sliding glass door. I wonder what these families are like, what they do for fun, what they worry about. When I look up at the stars and the moon I feel very tiny.

At the risk of sounding corny, I guess it reminds me that I’m just one little person, whatever I’m stressed about probably isn’t that important in the grand scheme of things.

Try it. You’ll see.

Goodnight.

 

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