Happy new week!

2015 is a week old already. Makes you feel all nostalgic for the innocence of days-gone-by, doesn’t it? Ah, 2014. How young we looked… How little we knew…

I had a pretty great year (maybe I’ll do one of those Year-in-Review Top 10 Lists I used to write every January. Maybe I won’t.), but it also featured some sharp-and-pointy personal challenges, so overall I’m very glad to see it go.

Happy New Year 2015

It doesn’t hurt that I rang in 2015 on a mini-trip with my boyfriend. (I feel a little silly acknowledging this fact on the blog. So I’ll say it like I’m in middle school: booooooooyfriend. …Oh well. I’m happy; I’m dating someone who makes me feel adored, not confused. This is a change of pace that I CAN ACCEPT.)

We saw Into the Woods on January 1, and it was such a happy choice for First Movie of the Year; I don’t think I stopped smiling the whole time.

I saw the Broadway revival on my high school senior trip, so Into the Woods holds a special place in my heart. (Sondheim! Vanessa Williams! Childhood stories with adult themes!)

I remember ordering the two-disc soundtrack online (2002: A time when buying things online felt exotic and unusual.), and listening to it over and over. Besides beautiful music and clever lyrical wordplay, the show has themes of striking out on your own and following your dreams, exorcising family demons and dealing with unhappy endings—all of this felt close to my heart that summer before I left for college.

It’s a funny feeling to revisit something that meant so much to me (in the capital-m “Meaning” sort of way) at one point in my life, and find that I can just enjoy it 12-or-so years later.

Not so bad, to realize you are no longer nineteen.

This one song still gets to me. Seeing the show in post-9/11 NYC in 2002, it felt particularly powerful. But even now, the world can feel so full of Big Bad things. Giants, witches, granny-clothed wolves: Not always what they seem.

Witches can be right. Giants can be good.
You decide what’s right. You decide what’s good.
Just remember:
Someone is on your side. Someone else is not.
While we’re seeing our side, maybe we forgot:
They are not alone.
No one is alone.

Princes, beanstalks, magic beans: None of these come with a happy-ending guarantee. Sometimes your fairy tale turns into a hot, hot mess and it feels like there’s nothing you can do.

Ah, but, musicals remind us, you can always sing. 

 

 

For the Rest of Us

Hung out with an old friend for the first time in a while. One of those people whom I only see a handful of times a year (shameful, as we live in the same city for crying out loud), but still, no matter how long it’s been, when we finally get together we inevitably end up giggling like middle school girls at a sleepover.

Tonight, he introduced me to the magical land of Tinder—the “swipe left” / “swipe right” dating app phenomenon that has led to millions of hookups and, who knows, maybe a couple of actual meaningful relationships?

(For the record: I didn’t join.)

I’ve never been ballsy enough to try online dating. No matter how desperate I may have felt between boyfriends, I just couldn’t make myself follow through with signing up. Besides, it seems to me that online dating works for people who either want to get married tomorrow or get laid, like yesterday.  And I’m hovering somewhere in between.

Got me wondering: Why isn’t there a dating site for the rest of us?

Instead of doing what dating sites normally do, allowing you to put your best face forward, The Dating Site For The Rest Of Us would cut through the bullshit and get down to brass tacks.

(I’m 31 over here. Momma doesn’t have time to waste.)

No more well-lit selfies or slimming side-view photographs. On TDSFTROS, your profile picture is an honest “I woke up like this” mug shot. Bed hair, makeup smudges and all. Because, if everything goes according to plan, that’s the version of you they’ll be seeing anyway.

We forego all the niceties like, “My favorite film is Casablanca” or “I consider myself outdoorsy,” and instead tell the cold, hard truth. Like “My favorite movie is actually Stick It” or “I’m outdoorsy…by which I mean I don’t wear deodorant or own a car.”

(Wouldn’t that be helpful? You hang out in the dating world for the better part of a decade, and it’s time to get real.)

Your personality profile includes all the shit you keep carefully concealed in the early stages of courtship. Such as:

I’m afraid of commitment.

I’m reaaaaaally into cats.

Whoops! I’m gay!

I enjoy The Big Bang Theory.

But it also contains all the good stuff that you keep hidden at first. All those idiosyncrasies that truly endear you to someone when the timing is right.

Your shameful binge-watching habits.

Your shared secret prejudices.

Your favorite 2:00 a.m. snacks.

The jig is up. We all have our faults. Wouldn’t it be nice to finally own up to them, and find a special someone who can actually handle them, rather than pretending to be normal for months, only to have it all unravel once the truth comes out?

Once upon a time, I was an idealist. I have watched a lot of Meg Ryan movies. And in spite of personal evidence to the contrary, I still love the idea of love.

Meg Ryan You've Got Mail

“What will NY152 say today? I wonder.”

But maybe, just maybe, it’s time to get real. The truth hurts, but the truth also helps. (Cheez-its. My 2:00 a.m. snack is Cheez-its.)

Believe in the best-case scenario

Went to see a movie by myself last night, and I mean by myself. Straight up the only person in the theater. Not too surprising for a little-known indie rom-com on a Sunday night in Springfield. This means I could laugh out loud and (cry? who cried?! not me!) and scribble notes on my phone without disturbing a soul. I did catch myself making audible “oh that’s cute”-type sounds, more than once. And I sure did scribble notes. I love that feeling of “oh boy! I feel a blog post coming on!” though I feel it less and less these days…

Longtime readers of the blog know how much I loves me a good romantic comedy (and just how hard they are to come by in a post-Nora-Ephron world. Hell, even bad romantic comedies are hard to come by anymore). This little movie was a total delight. A romantic comedy that is both romantic and funny. Think When Harry Met Sally meets Garden State. Can-men-and-women-just-be-friends? meets twee twenty-somethings and a very of-the-moment soundtrack. Guys. Just sign me up.

It was refreshing to watch a movie in which not a single thing blows up—besides interpersonal drama, of course. Don’t get me wrong: I did very much love Guardians of the Galaxy. But come on, Hollywood. There is a whole world of material outside of comic books and trilogies. This was easily the best rom-com I’ve seen in a long time. Now, I don’t know whether it was actually a good movie or just happened to be what I needed right now. But I don’t think it really matters either way.

Isn’t that at least 50% of a good movie experience? The way in which it meets you in your life, wherever you are right now? It felt funny to watch this movie, now 10 years after I first watched Garden State, noticing how 20-something romance feels a little faint and distant to me. Like looking through a Facebook album from 2007, familiar but a definite glimpse into the past.

Garden State: I can still remember how I felt, sitting in Campbell 16, watching the scene when Natalie Portman and Zach Braff “shout into the abyss” (…GIANT eye roll) and then kiss in the rain (come on!) while Simon & Garfunkel play and Peter Sarsgaard (Hey, remember Peter Sarsgaard?!) looks on. I no doubt described it at the time as “heart explosion,” the pain and pure joy of the very-first moments of being in love.

10 years ago, I was 21 and starting my junior in college. Three years into an on-again, off-again relationship with my high school boyfriend, My First Real Boyfriend, the first boy I ever loved. (Yeesh. Guys. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Feelings that intense at that age…so dangerous.) At the same time, I was in the midst of the very-early stages of another romance, a friend who was an RA with me in my co-ed dorm. We shared an enthusiasm for dorky residence hall shenanigans, The Office (British version—Jim & Pam didn’t exist yet), and the Garden State soundtrack. It wouldn’t be long until he became My Second Real Boyfriend.

Those two relationship timelines collided in ways of which I am not proud, 10 years later. But that’s life and that’s love and that’s being YOUNG. Every romantic comedy has its equal share of tragedy, right?

What If

When Harry (Potter) Met This Girl

So back to What If. Take in this little exchange, won’t you:

Wallace: In fairy tales, love inspires you to noble and courageous. But in real life, love is just an all-purpose excuse for selfish behavior.
Chantry: I don’t know if you are actually cynical or just a super-crazy romantic cheese ball.

And that, my friends, is exactly what I am. Always on the verge of an eye-roll and waiting for the shoe to drop, but with a crunchy romantic center ever-present beneath my cynical candy shell.

After the mistakes I’ve made, and the mistakes that have been made to me, it takes all my willpower not to run as fast as I can in the opposite direction from any potential happiness. Because I’ve seen the flip side of that coin. And I think it gets harder every time when things don’t go well. Because I’ve also gotten better every time; I’ve better figured out how to love and be loved. And how not to.

After a full decade of good beginnings and eventual breakups, you start to wonder whether it’s worth it to even think about trying again.

But in spite of myself, a movie like this can still make me want to, as a character says to our young hero at one point in his just-friendship with the girl he looooves, believe in the best-case scenario.

That’s why we keep watching movies like this, after all. In spite of so much evidence to the contrary (lookin’ at you, Katherine Heigl), every once in a while, one turns out to be just exactly what you need.