That Diner/NY Breakfast Sammy Life

Howdy. I’ve decided to start a project to leave hanging (I say this half in truth and half in jest). I’d like to believe that I’m going to pursue this diner-tour plan that I have in my head, but let’s be honest–ain’t nobody got time fo’ that.

This idea started with a Worcester Reddit thread about takeout breakfast sandwiches (NY deli style) that got trapped in the back of my mind. They don’t really have NY-style delis around Worcester, but you can turn any of the regular ol’ diners into just that by placing a to-go order.  In my last year and half here, I’ve definitely been to a few of the diners (Boulevard, Miss Worcester, Lou Roc’s, Dinky’s, Gold Star, Cafe Manzi’s back when it had its own home, Parkway, Mac’s, and probably even a few others I haven’t thought of…like that creepy MAGA one in Leicester), but never with a specific purpose. Today, having continued to excel on my New Year Resolution-based diet, I felt the urge to seek out a NY-comparative breakfast sandwich and based on my success, had no trouble rewarding myself with the adventure.

I was actually looking to go to Gold Star but couldn’t remember the name of it. After a quick in-transit Google search (I know, I know; terrible plan, even at red lights), I thought the Edgemere Diner (by photo) looked a little like Gold Star from the inside. I was very wrong, but I think it was worth it.

The Edgemere Diner is actually just outside of Worcester in Shrewsbury, but I’m including it because it’s only about 0.2 miles outside of it. I actually almost wound up living just on that border, but somehow landed my current apartment instead and for comparative cost, am much happier to be where I am. Anyway, Edgemere turned out to be a dining car diner, so rather than turn around and head in the very opposite direction to go back to my original plan, I stayed.

When I walked in there were three male employees behind the counter, one patron at the counter, and two occupied tables–one a duo of females, the other a trio of males. I was greeted with a “what’s going on today?” and an offer for a beverage. I felt welcome, but I also felt a little creeped out, which I attributed more to being a single female in an establishment that appeared owned and operated by males. It seemed as though they were just being friendly, genuine, etc., and I interpreted that in a way that my history and experiences have framed things. So I digress. The diner itself, however, was awesome–clean for a train car diner, very pink, full of formica and chrome(?), and came with its own back story, which is reported on the menu (fun fact: it was born & raised in NJ and formerly known as the Englewood Diner). The menu looks like it was originally hand-written (neatly), copied, and laminated, which is another cool little feature whether it was actually created that way or not.

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I ordered my *BEC (with well done bacon) and a coffee. I wasn’t offered anything else (e.g., hash browns), even though a table that had walked in as I was finishing up my meal was offered the side dish. I have to say the sandwich was good. The roll was obviously different than a classic NY poppyseed kaiser roll, and it seemed as though it was a lightly toasted and buttered brioche bun, but it wasn’t so different that it took the diner out of the running for a comparative NY breakfast sammy. Everything else was perfect–crisp fried eggs, sliced American cheese, and an appropriate portion of well-done bacon. If I ignored the roll (and maybe doubled the egg & bacon because NY is the oversized portion capital), it was like being home. I was pleasantly surprised.

My total came to $7.50 and I paid cash, so I’m still unsure if they accept credit. My entire time in the establishment was probably 30 minutes, if that. I think the sandwich itself took less than 5 minutes from my order to being set down in front of me. Like many of the local diners, Edgemere is only open until 2 most days (12 on Sundays), so if you want a chance to form your own opinion about their ambiance, staff, food, etc., it’ll take a slight commitment to working around those hours. In terms of meeting the classic NY-style breakfast sandwich, for the moment (and as the first rating on an arbitrary system I just made up now), it’s earned a 3.75/5. This may ultimately be amended as I venture to other locales. Stay tuned! (But don’t hold your breath, since this could easily become a half-baked idea!)

*if you don’t know that BEC = bacon, egg, and cheese sandwich, then you probably don’t need to be reading this particular post  😉

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24 Hours

In the last 24 hours, I have…

– allocated my final school loan check to: pay off both of my cell phones, return money I borrowed from savings, stash the remainder of my half of my car loan (thanks, mom!), and buy a new/slightly improved couch;
– rearranged my living room;
– re-learned statistics and completed the second third of my dissertation (method/stats/results);
– put up Valentine’s Day decorations and changed out front window lights from white/blue to red;
– read the second third of 1984;
– caught up on work notes and re-organized my work binder for next week;
– listed four books for sale;
– caught up on items to toss/donate (I was about a week behind); AND
– did this all by turning my phone/apple watch/macbook to DND/airplane mode.

It’s amazing what we can accomplish when we reduce our dependence on connectivity. I still let Google read me the news this morning and kept on top of my emails (well, I deleted the junk; I haven’t yet addressed any of the ones still sitting in my inbox), it was just Insta & SnapChat & messages & Twitter that I needed to create some space from. Deleting FB from my phone and computer bookmarks has been fantastic and I’ve been easily able to avoid the few urges I’ve had in the last week to check it. I’m just so much less stressed without it. I’ll have to go back eventually (could use some stuff from the marketplace and I’ll want to seek out local events again), but maybe I’ll revamp it. Or create an entirely new account just for things like marketplace and events. Hmmm…not a bad idea.

As an aside, and in follow-up to my last post (NYRs), I’m still going strong. Some things have changed, like being less detailed with my notes, failing at both 30-day challenges, and slacking in the water department, but overall I’m pretty certain that I’m continuing to lose weight. My “big girl” belt that I bought because I thought I needed a bigger one but then wound up poking a hole in it because it was too big now spins around and is pretty pointless. My muffin top is starting to look more cupcake than muffin, and when I went to the doctor last week, I was one pound lighter than I was a year ago, which is 7 pounds less than I was six months ago. My clothes are beginning to fit again, and not feel snug and uncomfortable. It’s not much, since it’s only been 5 weeks and I’m not increasing exercise (just trying to hit the daily 330 active calorie goal that my apple watch set for me), but it’s definitely been something, and that seems to be enough to motivate me to keep going. Sticking to < 1500 calories (with an ideal of 1200) isn’t actually as hard as I thought it would be. And it turns out I can eat a much healthier diet as long as I let myself continue to indulge on the less healthy stuff once in a while.

So if you don’t count politics, so far 2017 isn’t such a bad year.

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New Year’s Resolution(s)

…or does the apostrophe go after the ‘s;’ I’m never sure.

In any event, yes, I’m one of the millions of people who have vowed to become healthier/more fit/lose weight/blah blah blah, but this year so far I’ve been successful for 8 days, which is probably 5 days more than whenever my last successful streak occurred.

This time around I’m trying something different–I’m using moderation and mindfulness. Here are some of the ways I’m attempting to be successful this time around:

  1. I don’t have a “goal weight” or anything like that. I haven’t and I don’t weigh myself. I personally don’t care about the number (until I go to the doctor for something, of course; then I’m obsessed with it for like a week). I care about how I feel, how I see myself, and how my clothes fit. In the last six years, I’ve gone up approximately 2 sizes (depending on make of clothes, I can be anywhere from a 7 to a 10). I mentally place blame on a variety of factors, but I’m not in the interest of declaring those here. So now I’m trying to change that. And I can say that after a solid week, I already feel a difference. Maybe it’s due to these strategies and maybe it’s all in my head, but either way, noticing seems to be helping keep me on track.
  2. I drink more water. I’ve always tried to drink more water, but once again I’m being extra mindful about it. When  I get a headache, first I’m trying to drink a full glass of water before assuming I need ibuprofen or Excedrin. I pay attention to my urine, which I learned should be a light yellow color, and how often I’m going to the bathroom. I recently read somewhere “if you’re not urinating once per hour, you’re not drinking enough water.” I try not to let it get to hourly because that’s like torture, but I do try to manage every other hour. I’m not thrilled about it, because I hate water (yes, even water with fruit in it), but it’s slightly easier in the winter when having heat on all the time completely dries out the air, making me more thirsty overall.
  3. I count calories and I document them. When I notice something is a ridiculous amount of calories, I can’t justify writing it in the book. I then do one of two things: I have a much smaller portion of it or I refrain from having it altogether. My book is structured to allot one page per day and at the top I write the date, what time I woke up, and what time I actually got out of bed. I then document the time and what I eat throughout the day as well as the approximate calories and keep a running total. I measure portion sizes rather than grabbing a bag of potato chips and eating 60% of it in one sitting. So now I’m eating single portion-sizes instead of six of them at once. In the book, I also write what time I went to bed and what time I believe I fell asleep as well as any naps I took.
  4. I don’t deny myself things. If I want a cookie, I calorie-budget in a cookie (or two). If I want Fritos, I eat a serving of Fritos. I pretend like I might “run” it off later, but I hate that system (because I never do it and then I wind up having way too many calories!), so I typically just trade other calories out or keep the intake low (e.g., only one serving).
  5. This system, however, includes alcohol. It wasn’t until I started counting alcohol calories that I realized how many calories I was drinking. Five ounces of white wine is 125 calories. Most beers are around 200. Vodka is one of the lowest-calorie alcohols, but I’m really not that interested in having a glass of vodka at the end of my long day (and I typically don’t do mixers other than water). So not only has this helped lower both my alcohol and calorie intake, but it’s reduced the alcohol-induced munchies and it’s been helping me to prepare for my 2nd annual “no-alcohol February.” I certainly won’t be replacing wine and beer with non-alcoholic substitutes though this year–just think of all the wasted, empty calories!
  6. I am doing two 30-day challenges: plank and cardio, and the easiest level for each (beginner level 1). After numerous failed attempts at working out over the years, I realized that incremental steps is probably the most likely way to get me to do more extended workouts. I’ve nailed the first week of both (up to a 35-second forearm plank & 3.5 minutes of various cardio exercises, from a 10-second plank & 3o seconds of cardio), but I know it will get hard and I will want more than anything not to do it. I hope I stick it out. I do them when I feel like I have energy or, failing that, while watching something on TV that I like enough to provide the biggest distraction. Have I mentioned I hate workouts? Oh, and I also don’t calculate negative calories or document exercises. That may just be because it’s so little right now, but ideally I’m not looking to trade exercise for food. Running for 20 minutes doesn’t mean I can have a slice of cake. I’m not deducting the calories burned from the running total, but I may if/when it becomes a more substantial number.
  7. If I make it through January with those, I’ve decided to try out the local YMCA in February (I figure all the January failures–hopefully not including myself–will be gone by then). I have a 3-day pass and I’ve checked out monthly memberships (doable and worth it if I’m going to go regularly). I also printed out the group fitness schedule and posted it on my fridge as a motivator and reminder.
  8. I threw out everything that was going to be tempting, even if I would allow myself to have small portions in moderation (e.g., pancakes, cheese, pasta, rice)–things in the fridge, by the way, not uncooked in the cabinet. I imagine that if I get to a place where I’m satisfied with my progress, I will re-introduce those foods in my diet. Plus, I can always donate them if I don’t.
  9. I buy things that are healthy and I also like. This is unlike the past because I used to buy things that I thought I could learn to like (e.g., strawberries, apples, other healthy things). Now I just stick with things I know I’ll eat and I find creative ways to use them (e.g., my recent cauliflower-tots). So I wind up eating cauliflower (bread crumbs not forbidden, just in moderation, see?) and I’m excited by a cool, tasty thing that I’m also proud of myself for making.
  10. I have a “cheat day”…sort of. Rather than being like “fuck it!” and eating and drinking anything and everything I want on once-weekly “cheat days,” I continue to count calories and I work to keep it as close to 2,000 as possible. This way it’s closer to a standard non-diet amount of calories and reduces the likelihood that I’ll be undoing my progress by adding weight.
  11. I’ve bitten the bullet and started to “unfollow” food accounts. Mac Mart, Spotburger, the myriad of other food trucks from back in Philly…I love you all dearly, but you make me hungry for things that I just can’t eat right now. Plus, like 80% of them are inaccessible from where I live these days anyway, so I’ve just been torturing myself for no reason.

So that’s all I can think of for now that I’ve been doing (it’s plenty though, I feel). I told myself I couldn’t document my progress until it had been a month, but there’s always the possibility I don’t make it a month, and I want to be able to look back on what strategies I was trying to assess where I may have gone wrong. Plus, if it doesn’t all go to shit, I will be able to say that these tactics were successful! So either way it’s useful.

And now…to have a few ounces of chicken breast (50 cal/oz.) with some of my cauliflower tots (20 cal/tot) and a cup of tea with a teaspoon of sugar (15 cal/tsp.)! Tasty and healthy!

 

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“Go do a FUN thing!”

This was verbatim on my to-do list this weekend, because I spent part of my 3-day weekend working, part resting (to finish getting over a cold), and I needed to make sure I did something fun too. I had intended to go to First Night in Worcester, but after reviewing the schedule I decided that I’d rather just go grab a cheeseburger and a beer and get ready for 2017. I also found 100-strand lights in different colors (red, blue, green, and white) at Walmart for $.57 each so I got all excited for upcoming holidays since looking at my decorated windows through the french doors in my living room is my new happy place.

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Anyway, this isn’t about that. This is about my fun thing, which, by the way, I almost backed out of due to sheer laziness. With a New Year’s Resolution to do one recreational activity per week, I would have been starting out pretty poorly if I didn’t stick to my own plan for the weekend. At first I looked up some hiking trails, but figured they were probably kind of steep and snow-covered, and the closest is 30 minutes away. I definitely wasn’t in the mood to drive a half an hour to find out it was too snowy to proceed, so I just started Googling “things to do Worcester.” One of the things that popped up was “Old Stone Church” and seeing it somehow triggered the memory that my supervisor last year had sent an email about abandoned asylums in Massachusetts. Apparently, that email was about a book that features photos of the inside of old asylums in Mass. I was not interested in a book; I was interested in seeing what was in those photos firsthand. Back on Google, I looked for the closest former asylums that still exist. Fortunately, and as with most things, there’s a Wiki page for that. It didn’t take me long to figure out Medfield was the way to go. It’s open to the public during daylight hours AND was the filming location for the movie Shutter Island.

The sign outside the gate was a fairly ominous one, and matched the grayness of the day quite well.

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I must say, weather wise, it was perfect. Cold and gray, with leaves and ice crunching beneath my feet. At times, all that could be heard was the sound of my crunching. More often, however, were the sounds of people–after all, this is open to the public and the public was off [of work and school] today. Oddly enough, this historic site has become more like a dog park than anything else, which certainly changes the ambiance of it. But in those moments where other people were just far enough away to be out of earshot, it was perfect.

I was unsure of the rules outside of DON’T GO IN THE BUILDINGS, which was pretty clear from the eight million signs on the grounds. Security patrolled, but not often, and the one police SUV I saw at the site had only stopped to speak with the Security officer and then disappeared. I kept my distance at first and felt an eerie chill of excitement as I walked up to my first red boarded-up building.

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You see what I mean about the grayness of it all just fitting so perfectly?

Once I passed that building, it wasn’t long before I ran into more. And more. And so many more.

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As you can see, I started to get a little more bold with how closely I approached the buildings. After all, the signs read DON’T GO INSIDE not DON’T GO ANYWHERE NEAR THEM. So I got a bit closer to inspect the wreckage.

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As I approached the clocktower-apparently a staple of any good historic mental hospital-I was taken aback when I noticed that someone had decided it needed a little holiday cheer.

Amused, I made my way to the front, not expecting that there would also be decorations there.

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I noticed a red snowflake ornament on the ground, the hook having snapped clean in half. I picked it up, re-bent what was left of the hook, and added it to the collection on the tree, feeling satisfied that I had done my part.

As I continued, I snapped photos of anything that struck me as interesting. img_4832img_4831img_4838

At one point I noticed a piece of red plywood and air vent on the ground and my eyes immediately shot up to determine if it had come from the building next to which it sat. Indeed, it had.

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This building was situated across from one whose porch I could access, and as I contemplated what kind of photo I would take, I silently cursed the giant boulders that appeared somewhat out of place. There were more of them around the grounds and they all seemed oddly placed. A moment later it dawned on me–they were blocking underground access of some kind. And there was no way they would ever budge. They had definitely covered all of their bases when they went no-access.

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It wasn’t until I had neared the end of my adventure when I saw what appeared to be an old sign informing visitors (and residents?) of directions to the buildings they may have been seeking.

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It had certainly weathered over time. The building in the background on the left was the only one on the grounds labeled with something other than a spray-painted condemnation designation, and it was called “A” Building. Ignoring the quotes I chuckled to myself, thinking, “indeed.” A building.

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As I made my way back to the car, completely forgetting that there was a hospital cemetery nearby, which I will have to return to visit, I couldn’t help but snap a few photos of this structure.

I couldn’t quite determine its purpose, but I’m sure it also would have paled in comparison to the myriad other buildings I had investigated.

I was there for a little over an hour and was saddened not to find any little corners to sneak into any of the buildings. The few doors I attempted to pull on had either been welded shut or didn’t have handles/doorknobs and refused to budge. When I encountered a group of college-age boys, I was tempted to ask if they’d had any luck getting into any of the buildings, but I’d left any kind of self-defense in the Jeep and I wasn’t willing to risk it.

There was only one identifiable “spiritual” moment, and it came towards the end of my adventure. I had doubled-back behind the building that I first photographed upon entering the site and as I approached it, I was hit with that scent of “old.” I’m sure you know it–it’s particularly strong in an attic, or an old book. I wondered if I couldn’t just be smelling what the inside of the building likely smelled of, but it followed me for a few minutes. It lingered as I inspected a few housing structures that were between the first hospital building and the gate. Of course it’s possible that the scent exists inside the buildings and wafted outside, getting “stuck” in my nose for a short while. I don’t particularly believe in spirits or ghosts, but I don’t not believe in them either. What I chose (and choose) to do is let it be as meaningful as it needs to be for me.

I also recognize that I titled this post “Go do a FUN thing,” and then proceeded to describe visiting abandoned asylum grounds. So welcome to my fun. And as Imagine Dragons sang through my radio as I approached the site, “I’m never changing who I am.”

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Work.

Today I worked a 14 hour day. I’m not necessarily complaining; it was my own doing. Those last few hours were due to my avoiding a responsibility and needing to address it before tomorrow. But here’s some other stuff.

I avoided a co-worker for the majority of the day because I had a gift for him and I wanted to leave it for him as a surprise instead of physically hand it to him. When I had finally resigned to presenting it in person, he was gone for the day. In the one moment I realized needing a friend was more important than surprising said friend, he was gone.

On Friday a girl I work with asked me about “taking work home,” by which she meant the suicidal kind. I didn’t carry that with me all weekend, but I relayed that thought to her psychiatrist today and I haven’t been able to stop thinking about her since.

I’m “on call,” which means if there’s a crisis, they page me. There aren’t often crises. I updated (re: completely redid) the on-call book. It was out of date, it was falling apart, it was pathetic, and it made it seem like it wasn’t something to take seriously. I’m just sad I’m the only one who noticed…or cared. I probably shouldn’t drink when I’m on call. I made an exception tonight.

I got an article in my mailbox on the ethical importance of self-care from one of my favorites at work. I almost cried. Instead I went to her and got lost in one of those hours where it’s a little bit her and a little bit me because maybe we’re both too awkward to talk about planning things outside of work. I learn a lot about me the way she talks about me. I think she learns a lot about her the way I talk about her. It’s pretty functional but a little dysfunctional. She made an IG and I had to block her because I’m not stable enough to share that shit with people I have a higher level of respect for than my own kin.

I felt more respected as an intern than as a staff clinician in the program that I’m employed. I hope when I get a degree and a license I can change positions…or else I’m just out. My manager is the only person I know of in my agency that’s all about politics and numbers and doesn’t give a fuck about people. No, thanks. (This statement is ironic because preschool teachers keep saying “no, thanks” to kids and I think it’s the stupidest fucking thing I’ve ever heard a preschool teacher say. Stop being condescending to kids and act like a normal grown-up.)

End rant. For now.

 

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Adventures in Dating, Date #2

So. I remain unshattered.

Not that I expect to be, but that’s the fucking bar. So good luck, men of the world (read: New England?). I’ve had some great ones, so to “shatter me” would take some serious shit.

Date #2 (and 2.5) occurred over the last week, and I’m not even interested in writing about them because this whole dating thing is just dumb. What I *should* do is find someone fuckable and fuck him. Whenever I want to. Instead, I live in this weird-ass limbo place where I pretend like that’s what I’m doing, but I’m really looking for someone to hang out with who will also let me live my life the way I want to. I am legitimately the only person in the fucking universe who is looking for that. And it’s true, I don’t believe that, but I also don’t believe I’m going to find one of the other few that are also in my boat attractive. Or I think maybe I adopted this newfound mentality too goddamn late for the perfect possible “relationship.”

Fine, then, here’s the short story:

Date #2 was with a person I have pseudo-known for a year. It wasn’t until we went on a “date” that I turned into a not-date by going dutch at bill time that I realized I wasn’t down for the Drama (with a capital D). Once again, I’m not in the interest of spilling other dude’s deals into some silly blog, so I can’t say much more than that. What I can say is that I’m a therapist, and I probably have a radar for red flags, especially when they pertain to things I’ve dealt with in my professional career. I had also just watched “Better Things,” in particular the episode where Sam sees the couple that she pegged for being on their first date and intervened because she knew the guy’s life story but didn’t know a damn thing about the girl. Yeah. That’s this. I’m a great listener. But I get super bitter when the person I’m listening to isn’t ALSO a great listener.

Anyway, I heard a lot of shit that I remember half of because that’s the level of investment I have here. What I enjoyed most was going to The Pint after dinner and running into a co-worker and talking very meta about someone I’m apparently only FB friends with (but not necessarily friends with IRL because I said nothing when I realized he was one of the bartenders), and then getting asked to help someone with a stalled car and actually helping. My “date” was worried about it being a scam to get jumped and in that moment I realized what category of Worcesterite he belonged in. And I dare someone to defy my 2 categories. You’re high or you’re low and there’s no fucking middle. Well, guess what–I live in the middle of goddamn everything, so this just maybe isn’t the place for me. …but I wish it was. I really, really wish it was.

As for date #2.5 I stupidly told Kaðall Seahorse (of COURSE I made him a Viking Name!) where I would be and I’m pretty sure he showed up and waited around for me. He followed me around like a puppy dog and tried to convince me to forego work in favor of hanging out. Sorry, dude, strike 2. Work will ALWAYS win.

How do you tell someone you don’t want their Drama and maybe it’s best if they work that shit out and get back to you later?

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The Dating Game: an update

Well, thirteen followers, I know myself better than I think I know myself. I was so “sure” Órækja and I would see each other again, but I think we all know that when I “guess I’ll be seeing him again” was how I described it, I definitely wasn’t going to be seeing him again. I could choose to believe that he lost interest in me, but the truth is that neither of us really tried very hard to keep in touch. I think he gave it a solid 6 worth of effort and I probably gave it a 3. I honestly think there has to be some level of physical attraction for this kind of thing to work. Plus, he wasn’t too thrilled with my “only looking to date” goal and I wasn’t too thrilled with his “looking for a better half” goal.

That said, I did a thing I don’t typically do. I had a flash of a moment (no reference to this week’s The Flash episode intended) in which I thought about a guy who tried to date me back in like March. I turned him down because I really really really wasn’t into dating, which is pretty obvious based on the fact that I only just started two weeks ago. I can’t Viking-name him yet because I need to spend some time with him to get to know him so I can answer the questions on the Viking name-generator thing, but I assure you, I will. So anyway, I texted the dude. I said hey, I said how’s it going, I said we should catch up. He assumed I might be packing up to head back to wherever-I’m-from, which I was actually kind of impressed by his recalling. So now we have a date. I mean, we didn’t call it that. I try to avoid that word if I can (think of every time I write it here as an exercise in exposure therapy for me). But we definitely have a day and an activity planned. In town, which I kind of love because fuck the entire idea of driving to Boston to date someone.

So here’s my plea, Universe. Let this dude not suck. I’m already overlooking something that has essentially been a deal breaker for me from the inception of the thought about thinking about even considering dating (yes, that was intentionally extra-extra-meta), but look at me taking some Ciara-sized risks. Let him be relatively emotionally stable. Let him have slightly more than half a brain. Let him NOT be voting for Drumpf. Let him have at least 2-3 solid communication skills. Let him not be allergic to cats. And please, PLEASE, let him be independent. I’m hoping this former deal-breaker of a thing has helped him get to that point, but you never know.

More to come, I imagine.

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