Time To Feed The Travel Bug!

Dear readers, you’re going to want to sit down for this. Before I say what I’m about to say, might I suggest that NOW would be a good time to take up laugh yoga… meditation… prayer… anything really that helps you go to your happy place.

Okay. I’m just going to rip the band-aid off: Here and Goes.

Starting tomorrow, I will be off on a 2-week long vacation. No laptop. No checking my Nerd Rom inbox. No Mailbag Mondays!!!

Try as you might, you will NOT make me feel guilty for this. This is my first big — as in passport stamping, currency exchanging — trip since boarding the S.S. Homeowner Ship 3 years ago. I’ve been busting my chops, playing nice, putting down roots, putting up shop — AND frankly, it’s time to feed the travel bug a big, huge slice of globe-trotting pie.

And while I couldn’t be more excited to take my dusty, Patagonia hiking pack out of storage (can you say wicking skivvies!) and set off to charter an entirely unexplored country — my friends and family are a little more apprehensive. Their concern is 2-fold:

First, did I mention I was going to Medellin, Colombia?

  • As in with an “O.”
  • As in Pabl-O Esc-O-bar.

But really that’s just geography and ONE very UNIRONIC walrus mustache.

It’s basically just a general knowledge of my travel history that has them on edge. The fact that I have zero sense of direction; that I’m the kind of person who doesn’t just get lost driving in my car, but also have been known to lose my car itself.

And then there’s the actual track record of my personal misadventures, which can, in the wrong light, read like Inspector Clouseau meets an after-school-special.

Here are my top 10, by age and location:

  • 9 yo, Chichen Itza: Family is chased through the Yucatan jungle in the dark of night by masked banditos with machetes. (I am fast asleep in the back throughout the whole ordeal)
  • 10 yo, Hawaii: While constructing the most badasstastic drip castle ever, I turn around only to see the mouth of a rogue wave milliseconds before it pummels me into the bottom of the ocean floor.
  • 12 yo, Jamaica: While climbing Dunns Rivers Falls, I fall into a slippery-rock-sided watering hole and am pulled out by my dad just in the nick of time.
  • 13 yo, somewhere in the Caribbean: Family gets stuck on a cruise ship during a Category 4 Hurricane. The sound of synchronized up-chucking haunts me to this day.
  • 14 yo, Bahamas:  Picture it: My family and I are sunbathing in a little cove. All of a sudden, a speed boat races by. Then, seconds later, a fleet of siren-blaring coast guards follow. Drug dealers toss their stash overboard. My brother goes snorkeling and pulls a soggy $100 bill off the back of a barracuda.
  • 24 yo, Europe: Friend and I take a train from Barcelona to Amsterdam with no money and an expired credit card. Must resort to street performance-art by day, and by night eating hostel biscuits and watching Los Simpsones — the Spanish Simpsons — in a random guy’s hash bar. “Come mis pantalones, Dude!”
  • 29 yo, San Miguel de Allende, Mexico: Horse-back riding disaster, followed by a 12-year old boy running up to me and sticking his tongue down my throat on a friend’s dare.
  • 30 yo, Peru: Altitude sickness nearly causes me to fall down Juanu Picchu, taking out an entire tour group along the way.
  • 9 through 34 yo: The “LOST” years: Went missing in Disney Land, Berlin, Barcelona, Vienna, Venice, Aruba, and most recently the California Red Woods.

Sure. On the surface it looks kinda amber-alerty. But here’s the thing. I’ve learned from my mistakes. I’ve watched my fair share of Les Stroud’s “Survivorman.” I know all about stranger danger, not struggling against riptides, and what NOT to do in a major South American drug trafficking hub to attract the wrong kind of attention. Such as:

  • Don’t accept any unusual looking, ceramic bunny statues from strangers
  • Don’t wander off for an afternoon walk in the hillsides
  • Don’t feed the crocodiles
  • Don’t get into any unmarked mules
  • Don’t ask people where the “powder room” is.
  • Don’t wear my “Cuckoo for COCA Puffs” t-shirt
  • Don’t fraternize with US Secret Servicemen

Frankly, I like to think of myself as a less husky-voiced, brunette version of the fictional heroine Joan Wilder in the 1980’s masterstroke “Romancing the Stone.”

You can’t deny the strikingly similar parallels between us:

  • We’re both hopeless daydreamers who weep over our typewriters (mine: laptop)
  • We both wear flannel, plaid pajamas
  • We both live alone in our big-city apartments.
  • We both have male cats: Hers, “Romeo.” Mine, “Poppycock.”
  • We both have wild, big 80’s hairdo’s and wear wide, floppy hats
  • She’s a romance novelist; I’m an unlicensed romance blogologist
  • She receives a treasure map in the mail and goes to Colombia to rescue her sister from a corrupt antiquities dealer.
  • I got an E-ticket and will go to Colombia to hang out with my dear friend who attends art school in the heart of the city.

ME & JOAN

I can’t help it.  I like to live on the edge. But really, the view is oh soooo much better from there. And who knows, maybe I’ll come back to a sailboat parked in my driveway!

Hasta lueggo my Eggos. I WILL see you in November!!

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The “Are You Really Over Him?” TEST

Before I get started, I just want to take a nanosecond to thank those readers who sent me “Happy Birthday” greetings over the weekend. While I’d love to say you’re all created equal in my eyes, who are we kidding? THREE people in particular left all of you choking in the dust with these holy superior grand gestures:

1. An anonymous admirer in Bangladesh who composed this haiku for me:

I am a Sherpa

I want to carry your bags

Up a mountain high

** Who knew you could even get Wi-Fi in a yurt.

2 & 3: My faithful readers Jill and Steve who literally made several of my Wish-Tree wishes come true with these wicked to the awesome, heart-melting cards:

And now — Step away from the ledge, put down the rubber-dart gun, and slowly walk your eyes to the center of the page:

After a brief delay, Mailbag Monday is here.

Dear Nerdy Romantic,

About 3 months ago, my boyfriend of over a year broke up with me for a perky, 24-year old au pair/Pilates instructor at his gym. Now that the shock has worn off and the Xanax prescription has run out, I can’t help but think: The longer I — a single woman in her late 30’s — stay out of the game, the harder it’s going to be to even make it on the field. So, my question to you is: How long do you think I should wait to start dating again?

Sincerely,
Benched

Dearest Benched:

Hot damn if there isn’t this Lifetime television-bred notion that the only available men out there for single women over the age of 30 have secret cyber lives, stolen identities, or are haunted by their dead ex-girlfriends.

Sure, our ego-maniacal culture views an attractive woman in her 40’s as some scientific anomaly that should be studied like an albino peacock  — WHILE men over 40 just grow more dignified, dapper, and datable cuz they’ve finally figured out the G-spot is nowhere near where Richard Gere’s rumored gerbil caught some shuteye.

Yes — statistically speaking, the older we get the pool of viable prospects dries up faster than a Wall Street bank’s paper trail. But those are all numbers. And you, dear “Benched” are more than a number. When the time is right, and you’re really READY to re-enter the dating pool, there are tons of things you can do to give yourself a leg up on the competition. Off the cuff:

  • Move to a Montana cattle ranch.
  • Hang outside the chain-link release yard of the nearest (white-collar) prison
  • When you do go out to the bars, find a cute guy and talk about whether your belly-button is an innie or outie.

In other words: Don’t Rush Yourself. Just because it’s over between you and your ex, doesn’t mean you’re OVER it. And I for one think it’s best to follow the TSA luggage regulations when entering a new relationship: i.e.

You can only take one, carry-on item on the plane, so make it a doozy.

The question then becomes: WHEN will you REALLY be ready to move on?

Theory 1: It takes half the time you were in the relationship to start seriously dating again. Reality: I’ve known women who are like lizards after a bad break-up. Their tail gets lopped off, only to grow back fresh and new in nothing flat.

Me personally — I tend to be more like Massive Head Wound Harry: showing up to fancy cocktail parties long after the break-up, horrifying guests as the pet dog gnaws at my dangling, left skull-flap.

head wound harry

Theory 2: Intensive Shock Therapoo-tang: In order to get over your ex, you must do the horizontal bop with a total stranger.

Again — been there, tried that. I ended up on some random dude’s futon in a basement apartment, eating fried Fruit Loops as he played me a CD of his Emo-punk band “Batteries for Frogger.” Only lyric I remember:

“I gave you my heart and you gave me human papilloma.”

In truth, there is no one-size-fits-all comeback cure. But that didn’t stop me from creating my very own “Are You Really Over Him?” TEST.

(Answers are graded on a point scale. Circle the number that best reflects your true experience:)

1. You have spent the last 5 weekends watching:

  • a. The entire Criterion collection of British Period Dramas: 3
  • b. The entire 4-hour, PBS documentary “Alone in the Wilderness”: 2
  • c. Sold your TV for a Black Diamond harness and belay AND have taken up rock-climbing: 1

——-

2. You + booty calls with ex:

  • a. You’re currently knocking boots with him as you read this blog: 3
  • b. You started wearing an old-fashioned, iron chastity belt: 2
  • c. You moved 3000 miles away to a remote, mountain village where people communicate solely through carrier pigeons:  1

——-

3. You hear “YOUR” song on the radio:

  • a. You start dry heaving and swerve into a ditch: 3
  • b.You roll down the windows and scream so loud, the Kraken goes scurrying back into his cave: 2
  • c. You calmly turn it off and switch on your Tony Robbins audio-podcast: 1

——–

4. His favorite t-shirt:

  • a. You wear it to bed at night and refuse to wash it for fear of losing his scent: 3
  • b. You use it to clean out the toilet: 2
  • c. The Retrievers long since picked it up from your house and returned it to its rightful owner. 1

——–

5. “YOUR” Favorite restaurant:

  • a. Go there alone on the weekends wearing sweatpants and a hoodie; sit at a table and refuse to let the waiter remove the second place setting: 3
  • b.The place shut down after an “anonymous” tip of kitchen rats was sent to the Health Inspector: 2
  • c. It served vegan-only food. Now, you only eat that which you’ve killed with a sawed-off shotgun: 1
——–
7. The weight you put on after the break-up:
  • a. Gilbert Grape’s mom: 3
  • b. A little more of you to love: 2
  • c. After joining a local running group, you look 10-times hotter than before you met whatever his name was: 1

——–

8. Your phone:

  • a. His contact name is still “Love Of My Life”: 3
  • b.His contact name is changed to “El Diablo”: 2
  • c. You erased his number all together: 1

——–

9. You find yourself listening to:

  • a. Bonnie Raitt: 3
  • a. Echo and the Bunnymen: 2
  • c. Beyonce: 1

———

10. After downing 4 Kamikaze shots, you:

  • a. Refill the glasses with your own, unstoppable stream of salty tears. AND then, you proceed to knock those back as well:  3
  • b. Go outside and start bashing in the windows of parked cars: 2
  • c. The only shots you’ve had in the last 2 months are wheat-grass shooters at the local Smoothie King: 1

————————————————————————————————

Time to tally up your points:

Total:

10 – 12:  Turn up the “I will Survive,” put on your fancy dress, and snag yourself the man of your dreams.

13 – 20:  Don’t cancel your Redbox membership just yet.

21-30:  head wound harry
You got some serious healing left to do.

Birthday Wishes from My Inner Child

What is that you say? You say it’s my birthday!

Remember when you were a kid. People ask how old you are and you round up to the biggest possible decimal. “I’m 10 and 3/4’ers and 5 days, 15 minutes, 33 seconds.” As if the longer your response is, the closer you are to it being the next year.

I’m now officially at the age where many women don’t just round down; they outright alter the temporal passage of time:

“Well, according to the Maya long count calendar I’m actually only 24 solar years old.”  — OR — “A Shaman once told me I am an extremely new soul in terms of incarnations.”

And then there’s the super-fun turning point where complete strangers in the Publix checkout line morph into my Jewish grandmother and shamelessly pry into my most personal details.

“Oh, you’re such a pretty girl,” they begin innocently enough. And then, BAM! — They bitch slap me with, “Are you married? No? Oh, well, if everything is working down there, you should probably start freezing your eggs.”

Seriously, little-old ladies with shopping carts of canned prunes and Prevail adult diapers, standing there discussing my skincare regiment and the fact that the odds of me being able to have children is dwindling faster than the white-fish spread at the Zabar’s deli counter on Sunday.

(I dare not tell them I don’t think I even want rugrats — for fear of smiting out what little life they have left right there on the spot.)

Yes. Many of the most unforgettable, UN-regrettable, mind-and-heart blowing milestones of my life occurred in my 20’s. But I wouldn’t go backwards, not for all the butter beer in Hogsmeade. To not know what I know now. To taking Jell-o shots off the hood of my roommate’s ATV, only to wake up the next day spooning a Stay-Puft-Pillow-Buddy inside a dog-training crate.

Or the night I spent in jail for — well, let’s just say the crime has been expunged from my record. Sitting there in a 5-by-5-foot cell block with only me, a free-standing, stainless steel toilet seat with a braided weave jammed into the drain, AND red lipstick graffiti on the walls that read, “I fucked your unborn fetus.”

Most of the time, I don’t “feel” my age. I definitely don’t ACT it. But every now and again, I have this Benjamin Button moment where I appear young on the outside, while my thoughts are those of a crotchety blue hair. Example: A few weeks ago, I went to a book festival in town where there was a free, WISHING TREE station.

Orbiting around the trunks of 2 giant Magnolias were all these little kids, reaching on their tiptoes to tie their WISH SLIPS to the branches. I walked over. Grabbed a sheet, and thought:

“I wish the person who stole my social security number this year and filed false taxes with it would come to meet el Chupacabra in a dark alley.”

and — “I wish I could lock down a lower interest rate on my mortgage.”

But then I looked up. And there, scribbled in red and blue crayon on the hanging slips before me, read:

“I WISH BLEEP DE BLOOP DU BLOP”

AND — “I WISH THAT CATS WITH WINGS WERE REAL”

And it hit me: I don’t want to go backwards. I want to go inwards, and see the world through the eyes of my inner child. So — on this, my 35th (in actual years) birthday, I hereby pick up a red and blue crayon and make all of my wishes from there:

I wish…

  • I lived on the moon, so I could eat ice cream all day long and it would never melt or drip onto my hands.
  • My brother would grow nose hair as long as Repunzel’s
  • I could drive my car to Starlight Music and play keyboard in Jem & the Holograms
  • The screeching squirrel outside my apartment would turn into Falcor
  • A giant velociraptor would swoop down and eat the inventor of brussel sprouts.
  • When someone said “Time flies” they actually meant giant flies made out of alarm clocks that eat hours, instead of horse poop.
  • There was no such thing as ill-fitting dress shoes
  • Everything tasted like tater-tots.
  • I had 20 fingers so I could wrap twice as many cherry fruit-rollups around them.
  • Eating too much candy NEVER made your belly hurt
  • The hard-wood floors in my apartment were made out of trampolines
  • My bicycle glowed in the dark and had a rocket-propeller button under the seat
  • For the infinite causes of grass stains!!!!!!
  • That cats with wings were real (So. Does. He.)

And the Sign Says, “Crazy Cat Ladies Need Not Apply”

Hello my fine-feathered frangipanes and welcome to Mailbag Monday. Today’s episode hits rather close to home — soo much so I had to take a few steps back and ask myself: Can I honestly check my ego at the door and keep true to the code of journalistic objectivity?

Final answer: Not a shot in hell! So, on your mark, get set, and Go-Go-Gadget extreme personal bias —

Dear Nerdy Romantic,

What the F is up with single women and cats? I’ve heard of conscription. But is there an unwritten catscription that says any unmarried woman over the age of 26 must adopt a feline and name it something corny like Dumbledorable or Miss Kitty Fantastico?

Seriously — did I miss the memo? Can cats cure cancer or regenerate the ozone layer, because from where I’m sitting, their entire lives consist of eating, sleeping, shitting, and walking all over their delusional lovestruck owners.

Yours,

Sourpuss

My Dear Sweet Sourpuss —

You do realize of course that asking ME (see Poppycock’s Corner) to defend your dig on single-women-and-cats is like asking a homeless person to break a $20. But I can tell you are genuinely befuddled. And so I feel it my duty to at least try and show you another side of the story.

First of all, we don’t “name” our cats. The day we bring them home, we toss them a ball of yarn for which they use to spell out their human handles in string.

As for, “What the F is up with single women and cats?” — I don’t know. What the F is up with hippies and hula hoops; with nouveau douchers and spirit guides; with Nick Nolte and Hawaiian shirts; with hard-core runners and toe shoes; with Eddie Murphy and soul patches; with hipsters and triglycerides; with mandudes and Axe body spray; with dude-itarians and X-box; with ALL dudes in general everywhere and LOAD SOCKS????

The fact is — most of us who haven’t yet achieved a Bruddha-like state of non-attachment — tend to look outward to fill that which is missing within.

And of all attachments out there, the furry felid has always been a world-class resistance-buster. Since the beginning of ever, cats have been exalted for their mystic powers; they were revered by the Egyptian pharaohs, and story has it — the Prophet Muhammad adored his cat Muezza show much, he cut off his own sleeve rather than wake him from sleeping on his arm.

Practically speaking, cats keep our feet and ears warm. They eat roaches and spiders. And in some cases, they even kill demonic, sword-wielding pixie trolls that try and hold our noses when we sleep:

cat's eye

CAT’S EYE

Sure, Sourpuss. I will be the first to admit:  Kitty love can very easily take a sharp turn from laser stick to broomstick. One of my all-time favorite comedians Demetri Martin designed this hilarious line-chart below that illustrates how — at some point — a girl’s cuteness is futile against the time she talks about her cat.
demetri martin

But make no mistake. All ladies who are “crazy” about their cat(s) are NOT Crazy Cat Ladies — categories A and B respectively. There is a very clear fe-LINE between the TWO. And never shall the twain meet.

  • Category A
  • Category B

Simplest measure:

A: Has 1-3 cats, tops

B: Lost count 2 years ago

*************

A: Wears cute Etsy-bought shirts with the occasional, cat-screen-printed graphic.

B: Wears a terry-cloth bathrobe and gardening Crocs

**************

A: Hair is done-up in a neat bob or sweet do
B: Hair is matted and knotted from constant paw kneading

***************

A: Cat sleeps on the bed with her at night
B: Cats sleep on the bed while she sleeps on a waterproof mattress pad on the kitchen floor

***************
A: While out with friends, she devotes 10 minutes to cat-related convo, tops
B: She hasn’t joined her group of friends since the intervention circle 10 months ago.

***************
A: Grocery cart: Fresh veggies, fruits, grains, meats AND a week’s worth of organic cat food
B: Grocery cart: A giant crate of bulk cat food and bottled water… ONLY!

**************
A: Occasional dander-induced sneeze

B: Regularly coughs up a hairball

***************

A: While kissing, she might try and love-bite your upper lip
B: She doesn’t kiss. She shows affection by nudging your nose with her nose

***************

A: She maintains personal hygiene with regular baths and showers
B: She avoids all high-water-pressure scenarios as they scare the kitties

****************

A: While driving to the vet, she places cat in travel-carrier on the seat next to her
B: Her license was suspended after a string of 911 calls reporting a blue sedan swerving down the highway with several cats walking across the dashboard.

*****************

A: Sees a stray cat family with a new litter of kittens on the street — Calls a kill-free animal shelter to pick them up
B: Lures kittens away from their mom with cans of tuna fish to add to her brood

*****************

A: Cradles her friend’s newborn baby boy and rocks him to sleep
B: Tries to hold her friends newborn by the nape of his neck

*****************

A: Takes a spot of cream with her morning coffee
B: Drinks 5 glasses of warm milk a day

*****************

A: At the beach — She tinkles in the ocean
B: At beach — She pees on the shore and kicks a fresh pile of sand over the spot to cover it

*****************

A: She sees one rat in her house and immediately calls pest control
B: She intentionally goes to the pet stores and buys out the snake-feed rats to keep her cats happy

******************

A: She goes to IKEA and buys cute cat toys along with her BORGSJO bookshelves
B: She goes to IKEA and asks customer service if she can just buy the empty cardboard BOXES that the furniture comes in

******************

A: Car bumper sticker reads: “I HEART (CAT PIC)”
B: Car bumper sticker reads: “My child’s poop gave your child a brain parasite.”