My tonsils wouldn’t let me keep my date with Nas, and I’m still sad about it.

It’s been awhile since I’ve had a chance to update the blog. Two weeks ago, I caught the plague. You may laugh, but it’s true. If it wasn’t the plague, it was something damn close.

Two Tuesdays ago, I had a meeting scheduled with one of my direct reports. He’d just returned from Buenos Aires and we needed to touch base about what was to be accomplished in the week ahead. He closed the door and immediately began to cough. I asked him if he was sick and he told me that he’d had a sore throat for the last nine days, which had evolved into a cough. If looks could kill, he would’ve been dead and buried after the side eye I threw his way.

I was ice grilling his germy ass.  Kinda like this ^^^^.

I was ice grilling his germy ass. Kinda like this ^^^^.

See, one thing I don’t mess around with is germs. I am a certified germaphobe (which I just discovered isn’t actually a legit word, but there is an entry in the Urban Dictionary, so humor me). I keep a can of Lysol on my desk (and a mini can in my purse), wash my hands constantly, and make use of hand sanitizer throughout the day. I’m a pretty gentle and non-confrontational person, but have been known to curse people all the way out for potentially exposing me to their germs. Hence, the dirty look I gave my colleague. Our meeting wasn’t important and if he was sick, he should’ve stayed at home and not come to work to infect everyone else!

Anyway, Tuesday, I was fine, but Wednesday morning, I woke up with a tickle in my throat that, by Wednesday night, was a full-on throbbing. Every swallow was painful. Wednesday night, I headed down to DC on Amtrak for an all-day conference on Thursday and grand plans of spending the weekend with my folks, my friends, and the love of my life, Nas. Yes, Nasir bin Olu Dara Jones, the rapper. Back in December, I caught wind of an epic opportunity to see Nas perform with the National Symphony Orchestra at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in honor of the 20th anniversary of his legendary album, Illmatic. I’ve loved Nas from way back. First, he’s adorable, so there’s that. But then, he’s got this New York swagger (which is all his own because I’ve met dudes from Queens and they don’t have swagger like that), and even though he’s so clearly… “urban”… his intellect is off the charts! (As is evidenced by the new Harvard fellowship created in his name.) Anyway, obviously, I was ecstatic about the concert and had jumped through all kinds of hoops to make sure that this particular weekend stayed clear of other events so I could be in DC to see this one-of-a-kind show.

I told my mom that I wasn’t feeling well and by the time I made it to my parents’ house in MD, she had a pot of chicken soup on the stove waiting for me. I ate that and went straight to bed in preparation of the conference on Thursday. I felt immediately better after eating the soup my mom no doubt made with much love, but when I woke up Thursday morning, my throat was ON FIRE. I went to the conference anyway (isn’t that ironic that now *I* would be the one infecting everyone else), but had to leave early because I felt so awful. Instead of going back to my parents’, I drove myself straight to urgent care.

If you haven’t been to urgent care, let me just tell you know: it is the most amazing concept ever invented.   You can walk into one of these places without an appointment, see an emergency room doctor almost immediately, and also get your meds right in the same building. When I saw the doctor, she took one look inside my mouth and put me on an antibiotic. She told me to take the pills and if I wasn’t better in two days, I should report back to her for further treatment options.

Two days later, not only was I not feeling better, I was 100 times worse! I might as well have been popping M&Ms instead of the amoxicillin the doctor prescribed. I returned to urgent care teary-eyed. Not because I was sick, but because I was sitting on the examination table with tonsils so swollen, I could barely breathe, and later that evening I had a date with Nas. The doctor took another look at my tonsils and gave me a look to suggest she was stumped. She prescribed a stronger antibiotic and also prescribed steroids to help with the swelling, which she had a nurse bring into the room so I could start them immediately. Before I left, I asked to borrow a writing pad and a pen, and I wrote (because I could not talk): “I have concert tickets tonight. Can I go?” And in response, she actually laughed. Laughed! Not the response I had been expecting. I swallowed (painfully), and began to cry (painfully). Not because of the pain I was in, or because I was scared, but because I was totally frustrated that my body could betray me on such an important day.

I had to text my cousin who was my date for the night and who, like me, had been waiting for this concert for months, to let her know that I wouldn’t be able to go with her and she began a last minute scramble to find someone to take my place. I sat at home on a couch in my parents’ living room while my cousin got to enjoy my date with Nas. Like the sweetheart that she is, she recorded video of the show and sent it to me, so it was almost like I was there (not really).

I also never got to do any of the other things I had planned that weekend like going to see my grandma or my 18-month old niece. I spent the entire weekend going from my bed, to the couch, to urgent care, and by the time I was packing my bags to head back to NY on Sunday, I was still sick. My mom didn’t feel comfortable letting me go back by myself, so she returned to the City with me. This was a huge sacrifice because my mother, who attended college in NYC back in the 60s (aka NYC’s “dark period”), absolutely abhors the City. I know this because she has asked me no less than 200 times “why anyone would want to live in that God-forsaken place”. But, she still packed her bag and bought a last-minute one-way ticket on my train back to NY. She stuck around for several days doing what mom’s do, cooking, cleaning, and babying me until she was satisfied that I could take care of myself on my own.

While it was fantastic to have her there, when she left that Thursday, I felt a sense of relief because I am turning into an introvert that values my alone time in my apartment, but I also felt a deep sense of loneliness. Had my mom not made the decision to come back to NY with me, who would’ve cared for me? I have friends here that are fabulous for happy hours and brunches and parties and shopping. But when I am faced with the plague and need some juice, or more garlic for the soup that *I’m* making for *myself* (because I can’t rely on anyone else to do it), could I count on them?

Maybe it’s because being sick made me feel extremely vulnerable, or maybe it’s because I’m turning 35 in two months and my impending birthdays always cause me to be introspective. But either way, I’m starting to realize that I need to work on building a support system. This was a situation where my illness was only temporary, but suppose – God forbid – it had been more serious? It’s been five years since I’ve been in the City, yet the only people on whom I can count live hundreds of miles away in another city. The glitz and glamour of the City are what brought me here, but I hadn’t recognized that I’d be leaving other comforts and assurances behind. What does that mean to me? Does it have to mean anything at all? Is a support system necessary? These are all questions I’m asking myself two weeks after I beat whatever it was I had.

I guess it goes without saying that being out of commission for over a week put me behind in a lot of areas in my life, including blogging, and that’s the reasoning behind my long hiatus. And even though two weeks have passed, the prick who passed me his germs is still getting stabbed with my sharp glares.

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Is it Possible to Escape The Friend Zone?

Whenever I’m chatting with one of my best friends and tell her about some new guy I’m dealing with, she chuckles and says, “Girl, I swear you’ve got a lot of men in your atmosphere.” That’s a good way to describe my current situation. There are several guys in the mix, but they’re just floating about with no particular purpose or destination. Sure, it’s entertaining but also quite frustrating.

I recently read an article that was a summary of a book called “Why Men Marry Some Women and Not Others” that depressed me. It was a summary of a book that was written about “the kind of women men marry”. In it, the author makes some interesting arguments. One of the most depressing takeaways of the article is that women who are overweight are less likely to get wifed. So are women who are over 35. And women are both over 35 and over weight are just destined to be spinsters. Well, I’m about to be 35 (this fact shocks even me, and I’ve known this birthday was coming for 35 years), and I could stand to lose a few pounds (okay, more like 50+), so this conclusion doesn’t bode well for me. But believe it or not, that sad tidbit of info isn’t the point of this post, and I digress, so…

The article also said that women who make an effort to seek out the company of single men are more likely to marry. If that’s truly the case, then the odd are in my favor because I spend almost ALL my free time with single men. Most of those interactions are platonic and I know so many women, most of them married, who are baffled by the fact that I have so many male friends. I’ve got a solid group of males that would do just about anything for me… except date me.

It’s confusing for me because our interactions look like dates and feel like dates, but… They’re not dates. I go to nice dinners, all-expenses paid, movies, shows, and let’s not forget the Netflix and pizza nights. But these are not my boyfriends. And we’re not sleeping together. They’re JUST friends. I know it sounds like I’m working overtime to prove that point, but it’s true, and I’m just not sure why that’s so hard to believe, lol.

Anyway, my point is that I’m never wanting for male companionship. Theoretically, according to the article, this should make me more likely to get married, but as the years go by, in spite of the many hours spent in the company of boyFRIENDS, I am perpetually single. I’ve been puzzled by this, but my mom thinks the answer is simple. Many of my boyFRIENDS are guys I wouldn’t be opposed to dating. But I’ve placed myself squarely in the center of that hellish place called The  Friend Zone. Usually, men are the ones that spend the most time in The Zone, but there I sit. So while I’m never without a man I can call for dinner or a movie, I’m without a man. MY man.

Most people that hear these stories always say that no man would spend time or money on a woman he isn’t attracted to.  I don’t doubt that these men are attracted to me.  And I certainly don’t think any of these men would turn down sex if I offered it.  But I want more than sex, and that’s what they’re not willing to give.

My boyFRIENDS are never short on compliments either.  They’re always telling me about what a “great catch” I am.  And how I’m so cool and fun and they wish they could find a woman like me.  And I’m all like… but you don’t need to find a woman like me, you’ve already found ME!   Helloooo!  It’s a little crazy to watch these boyFRIENDS of mine pair off with other women while I remain the eternal bachelorette.  This whole pattern is for the birds, and frankly I’m sick of it.

The (dreaded) Friend Zone

The (dreaded) Friend Zone

 

Look, I have a very rich life outside of the dating game. Finding a (good) man and then maintaining that relationship isn’t my sole purpose for living, but I have to be real — amidst all the other fun I’m having in life, finding a partner is a legitimate priority. As such, I’ve invested a great deal of money (dating site subscriptions, date outfits, hair appointments, etc.) and time (searching profiles, making small talk, dating) into this process. And, in spite of that investment, AND in spite of all the time I spend in the company of single men, I have had little to no luck. Clearly I’m doing something wrong and I would love it if someone… anyone… could point me in the direction of a solution.

So here’s a real-life example of my situation.  I told a female friend about one male friend who requests the pleasure of my company quite often. Recently, he bought groceries and came to my apartment to make dinner. He cooked a feast, we ate the food on my couch, and watched a few episodes some of our (my) favorite shows on Bravo.  After I recap this night for my friend, she had some questions:

“Soooo, nothing exciting happened?” my friend asked me, stunned.

“Nope, it was a low-key evening,” I said.

“How does it feel when he’s there?” she asked, puzzled.

“Um, it feels very… platonic,” I said.

“I bet it wouldn’t feel platonic it you took off all your clothes and sat on his lap.”

Um… right. I’m SURE that literally throwing my ass at him would change things, but I’m seeking a subtler way to turn the tides. You know… one that doesn’t involve me being naked, lol.

So just how does one meet men of quality and substance if other single men aren’t the key? And how do we break the stronghold of The Friend Zone? Once we’re in there, how to we get escape? Or can we? I’m on the hunt for some answers…

From My Kitchen: Kale with Bacon and White Beans (via WeightWatchers.com)

We quaintrelles spend the majority of our time enjoying life’s pleasures. For me, most often, that comes in the form of food, and, while I love to eat out… like, LOVE it… sometimes, those pleasures even come from my own kitchen.

On a regular evening, I won’t get fancy with my dinners. After work and the gym (or, more often, work and then happy hour), I am too tired to come up with creative dishes. But on Sundays, I usually go all-in. This past Sunday, I made a meatloaf that was to die-for and was seeking a side dish to accompany my main course.

For those of us who are Christians, we are in the midst of Lenten season and, in observance, I always make some sort of sacrifice. This year, I decided to give up the carbs I eat most often, specifically rice (white AND brown), bread, pasta, potatoes, and sweet potatoes. As a self-proclaimed foodie, this was a HUGE sacrifice for me. I’m two weeks into this plan and I still feel like something is missing when I sit down to a plate of food that doesn’t feature a starchy side. Meat and vegetables make a balanced meal, but they do not keep me full. So now that my tummy rumbles regularly, I’ve been searching for ways to fill my belly without resorting to my old starchy standbys. In that effort, I’ve discovered that beans, while high in protein, are also pretty starchy and, so, they keep my belly full. I’m now on the hunt for ways to incorporate beans into my diet in creative ways.

On this quest for bean-laden meal plans, I discovered this gem of a recipe on WeightWatchers.com. That’s right, this recipe for Kale with Bacon and White Beans is not only delicious, but also low-cal and low-fat (but definitely NOT low on tastiness)! I made it more scrumptious by adding four slices of regular bacon instead of the three slices of reduced fat bacon the original recipe calls for (reduced fat bacon doesn’t even sound right… I’m not messing around with that. As we already know, bacon makes EVERYTHING better.) Other than that modification, I stayed true to the recipe and it turned out amazing!

No, I’m not on WeightWatchers, but who couldn’t stand to eat a little healthier?  I also find the Points designation to be helpful so I know just how “bad” (or “good”) something is before I partake in it, so I like using WW recipes when they seem like they might be palatable.  Well, this one here is a winner and is great for girls like me who are watching their figures.  And not only is this an awesome side dish, it could also be an entrée on days I plan to eat lightly. I will definitely be making this again. If you decide to try it, I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

Kale with Bacon and Cannellini Beans

I've got my kale, bacon, and beans ready to go!

I’ve got my kale, bacon, and beans ready to go!

Ingredients
4 slice(s) uncooked bacon
3 cloves garlic, minced
½ tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 cup uncooked onions, diced
1 pound uncooked kale, roughly chopped (Make sure you wash your kale very, VERY well… things live in there!  You’ve been warned!)
1 cup chicken or beef broth
15 oz can cannellini (white beans), rinsed and drained
1 tsp kosher salt
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp sugar (try Sugar in the Raw)

All done!

All done!

Instructions

Set a large, heavy pot or skillet over medium heat; add bacon and cook to desired crispness. Remove bacon from pot and set aside; leave bacon drippings in pot.

Add garlic and red pepper flakes to bacon drippings; cook, stirring, until garlic becomes fragrant, about 30 seconds to 1 minute. Add onion; cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 10 minutes. Add kale; cook, stirring occasionally, until it starts to wilt, about 5 to 7 minutes. Add broth; cover and simmer over low heat until kale is just tender, about 8 to 10 minutes. Add beans; simmer, uncovered, until liquid is almost evaporated, about 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in salt, vinegar and sugar; sprinkle with crumbled bacon and serve immediately.

Yields about 1 1/4 cups per serving.  Bon apetit!