Friday, October 31, 2014

Rooftop Fun

When I parked my car and began walking into my house, I checked my phone. I had a text from Scott and I instantly felt another wave of excitement.

"You're really easy to talk to. We have to do this again soon :)"

"Yes!" I wrote back with a huge smiling emoji. We didn't text after that, but it was nice to get some sort of confirmation that he planned on a second date.

The next day, I woke up early to work on a few assignments. My dad interrupted me after a few hours to ask if I wanted to grab lunch with him and my mom. I happily accepted and indulged in a penne a la vodka slice from this great pizzeria down the road. My parents talked about some minor issues with my grandparents, among other family drama. When your mom has five siblings and your dad has right, there's a lot to talk about. Everyone in my family gets along pretty well, so I'm lucky there.

Saturday night, the girls and I had arrangements to go into the city. Jessica's birthday was the following week and she wanted to go to this cute, rooftop bar. It was the perfect timing, since Saturday was beautiful and the weather was only going to go down hill from here. Why don't humans hibernate, huh?

The girls came to my house beforehand, where Jessica informed me the guys would be meeting us there. A bunch of them were already in the Bronx for an alumni thing and were only a subway ride away from the city. I hadn't seen Moose in a few weeks, but I figured there wouldn't be any more awkwardness than usual.

We arrived at Penn Station around 9 o'clock before quickly walking out onto the street and getting in a cab. I bonded with the cab driver and I recommend it. Most of them have really interesting stories.

Anna started talking about her night with Martin. "We went out for a drink and I ended up not feeling well, so I asked him to take me home."

Another fun fact about Anna is that she always gets stomach aches. It's always after she has some sort of dairy, so we've unofficially concluded that she's lactose intolerant. However, that doesn't stop her from eating blocks of mozzarella cheese and then going out for drinks. It wasn't the worst ending her date with Martin could've had though.

"So do you like him?" I asked as we made a left turn onto a side street.

"He's okay," she passively replied. "I'd like to have some fun, but apparently you prohibit that."

"Hey," I defensively began. "I'm not prohibiting anything. I just asked you not to use Scott's friend as your personal boy toy. I mean that literally." The girls laughed and I'm pretty sure I saw the driver crack a smile, too.

"Well, I'm glad things went well on your date!" Darlene exclaimed. I had informed them of the whole story on the train ride.

"Thanks! I have a good feeling about this one, guys." We pulled up to the bar a moment later.

The rooftop had a pretty decent crowd and the view was unreal. We ordered mixed drinks at the bar and started dancing like we were at our senior prom. We weren't even drunk yet, but things were just good. For all of us. For once.

I was trying to get the bartender's attention when I felt a presence next to me. I looked and saw it was Moose.

"Oh, hey," I shyly said. I was kind of caught off guard but at the same time, things were relatively normal between us.

"Hey, yourself," he replied. "What are you having?" I pointed to my empty beer bottle and he nodded before waving a hand at the bartender. He was so tall that the bartender couldn't not see him. He quickly ordered two beers. "So, having fun?"

"Yeah, it's such nice weather," I casually replied as I looked out at the night sky. "Having a good day?"

"Yeah, I'm pretty hammered though," he replied pressing his palms into his eyes. "I don't know how long I'm going to make it."

I hadn't been able to tell that Moose was really drunk, but once he said it, it was obvious. His eyes were kind of red and he looked pretty sleepy. "Wow, you can't day drink like you used to, huh?"

"Nope," he laughed. "I'm getting old, C." People very rarely called me "C" but it's actually my preferred nickname. I don't feel like I can ask people to call me that, though. It's kind of lame to create your own nickname, right?

The bartender handed us our beers and we walked over to the dance area where all our friends were standing. The rest of the night was pretty uneventful, but drama free. I was so glad everyone was having a good time.

We got on a train around 1:45 and luckily found a section of about ten seats. We all collapsed on the seats and chuckled all the way home while eating our dollar slices.

Once we were through the tunnel, I checked my phone and saw I had a text from Scott. It read, "What're you up to?"

I didn't think before honestly responding. "On the train home from the city. You?"

"Out with some friends. Miss you."

I smiled over my phone but quickly stopped myself so none of the guys started making fun of me.

In the morning, though, I questioned his text messages a little more. This was kind of unlike Scott. I wasn't sure if I should be flattered that he thought of me or insulted that he was drunk texting me. Was he texting me as a booty call? Or was it that his drunken words were his sober thoughts? Either way, I was glad we talked and I'm excited to see him again. I like where things are going!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

A Real Gentleman

When I walked into the restaurant, I didn't see Scott anywhere. I instantly remembered when Justin stood me up a few weeks ago and I got a sick feeling in my stomach. "You're not being stood up, Caroline," I said to myself. "Stop being paranoid." With that, I walked to the bar and ordered a Riesling. While the bartender poured me a glass, I checked my phone. No new text messages. I put my phone back in my wristlet and took a seat with a view of the door so I'd see Scott when he arrived.

Several minutes later, Scott walked through the door. "Hey," he said with a half smile as he pulled me into a hug. "You look nice."

"Thanks, so do you," I said as I pulled away from the hug. I was wearing jeans and a  blouse with a flower pattern. He was wearing a gray sweater and was also in jeans.

The restaurant was nice, with dim lighting and small tables that were clearly made for two people. We sat down at a table towards the back of the restaurant and as I passed all the other tables, I saw so many different entrees I wanted to order.

As we approached the table, Scott quickly stepped in front of me and pulled out my chair. I smiled and thanked him. As much as I tell myself that that crap doesn't matter to me, since I'm really into gender equality, it's still nice to see a man revert back to some classic chivalry. We sat down and he flicked his cloth napkin with such grace before placing it on his lap. He came off like an etiquette professional.

"So how has your week been?" He asked before he folded his arms in front of him and looked me straight in the eyes. I felt pretty comfortable around him at this point but we still didn't know each other that well. The date felt more intense and suddenly I realized why. This was the first time we were together without a football game on. There were no distractions. Just me, him, and conversation.

"Good," I said as I nervously played with my hands. I stopped myself after a few seconds. "How about yours?"

"Eh," Scott began as he opened the menu. "Things are picking up at the firm. I'm going to have to start putting in a lot more hours as the holidays approach us, but it's been good." Scott works at an accounting firm, so he travels into the city every day. I did not envy that commute.

"I don't know how you stare at those numbers all day," I joked.

Scott luckily laughed. "Yeah, well there's a lot more to it than that." Scott explained to me exactly what he does at the firm and while I understood most of it, a decent amount of it definitely went over my head. "But really, I love the people I work with. That's the best part."

We ordered a few minutes later. Scott asked if I wanted to split calamari as an appetizer and I happily agreed. He ordered a burger while I decided on a really delicious looking apple walnut salad.

"So, psychology," Scott began. "That must be a really interesting field of study. Are you analyzing me right now?"

"Everyone always asks me that," I replied with a smile. It's true; everyone always thinks that since I'm in psychology, I'm just constantly in therapeutic mode. "I actually don't even want to do clinical work."

"What do you want to do then?" Scott asked. I explained to him some of my research and overall career goals. "I want to get my PhD soon, but I don't know when."

"Wow, you're way smarter than me."

I insisted I wasn't as the waiter brought over our appetizer. "I didn't pass a CPA exam," I teased.

"Okay, okay, let's agree to disagree," he laughed.

We talked a little bit more about our work and career goals before moving on to the fun topic of friends. He was telling me about Martin's obsession with the Colts when our dinner was brought out.

"I heard him and Anna have a date tonight?" I innocently asked.

Scott nodded at me as he finished swallowing his first bite. "Yeah, he mentioned something about that. I'm surprised they hit it off so well."

"Yeah, me too," I agreed before completely processing what he said. "What do you mean by surprised?"

"I don't know," Scott uncomfortably began. "Martin's a pretty shy guy. Anna seems too outgoing for him, I guess."

I took a quiet, deep breathe as I tried not to curse Anna in my head. I knew Scott didn't mean anything by it, but I hated being reminded of Anna's inappropriate flirtation with the guy I was interested in.

We talked a little bit more about our friends and family. Before I knew it, dinner was over. I couldn't have asked for a better date night. I really saw a different side of Scott when a football game wasn't on.

Scott opened the door for me and as I walked past him he asked, "So, the night's still young. Do you want to go back to my house for a little?"

I felt my stomach flip. I was extremely tempted, but I didn't feel it was a good idea to jump into things too quick. Scott seemed like a really nice guy and I didn't want him to get the wrong impression of me. I told him I was tired.

"Okay, I understand," he genuinely replied. "I had a really great time tonight," he said as we approached my car. Once I was in front of the driver's door, he turned to face me. "I can't wait to see you again."

"Me neither," I said as my face broke out with a huge smile. I couldn't even help myself.

With that, he leaned in and gave me a soft kiss before saying good night.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Typical Week

This past week flew by. Between class, work, and the Assistantship, I felt like all I did was run from place to place. This is starting to sound redundant, right? Yeah, I think so, too. Is it Thanksgiving break yet? Or better yet, let's get to Winter break!

I did have an exciting meeting with Professor O'Conner and two of his PhD students. The PhD students had it way worse than any of the Master's students, so none of them worked full time and most of them didn't even work part time. I really have to figure out if that's the life I want next year.

One of them was the girl who bailed on the conference. She had a beautiful, olive complex that made it evident she got the good genes in her Greek family. Her face was also completely done up, though, and her hair was pinned up in a perfectly professional, but also sexy, manner. She took a subway and train here from New York City, where she lived on the Upper East Side with her finance boyfriend. If she was scared of getting Ebola before, I don't even want to know how she's been dealing with taking a subway almost every day now that there was that confirmed case of Ebola in New York.

The other PhD student was a tall, extremely handsome man. Last year, when the PhD students were being selected and visiting the school, I had heard one of my professors say to my advisor that one of the new students was a "model," and I thought he was exaggerating. Considering the incoming classes only have twenty students each year, I knew he was referring to this student. I tried not to let my jaw drop as I was introduced to him. To make it even better, his name is Jett which, in the words of Shoshanna "like, um, hello, good name." Jett was clearly a few years older than me and his amazing good looks made me not even imagine our fantasy life together. That's right. Even in my imagination, I know I could not get with Jett.

My extremely slim chances that maybe one day Jett would suffer some brain damage that would lead him into my arms became even worse when I noticed the wedding ring on his finger. I figured he was probably married to Kira Kazantsev and they definitely were going to have the hottest babies in the next three to five years. I want to manage the modeling careers of those babies. I'll make millions.

They talked to me about possible research opportunities. Montana, the female, was more interested in Professor O'Conner's line of research on individuals dealing with trauma, while Jett was researching a lot about social media. We conversed a little bit since I'm interested in romantic relationship research and the two have a lot in common. I gave him my email and he told me he was going to email me a few things that he's been researching. It gave me a little flutter in my stomach that I'd be hearing from him, even though it had zero romantic implications.

My excitement about seeing Scott today also helped me get through this hectic week. We hadn't really been texting, which made me even more excited to sit down for a nice meal with him. Do you ever feel like you text a guy too much when you first start seeing each other and it kind of takes away the magic from getting to know them in person?

He did text me yesterday to let me know that he made reservations at a restaurant in Huntington, which is closer to him than me so when he mentioned picking me up, I insisted on meeting him there instead. There was no reason for him to drive all the way here just so I could feel like Daisy from the Great Gatsby.

Earlier in the week, I told my friends in a group text message about my date. Yesterday, Jessica sent a text asking if I was excited.

"So nervous," I wrote back with emoji showing all his (or her?) teeth.

Anna chimed in next, but not about my date. "I'm hanging out with Martin tomorrow also!" Then she followed up with, "I'm seeing Chris on Saturday, though. Is that bad?"

I rolled my eyes. Of course she hadn't really sworn off Chris. Not to mention, she had told me she wasn't really interested in seeing Martin again but was happy to be my wing woman when necessary. Why was she agreeing to go on a date with him? If things got serious between Scott and I, I didn't want to have to explain why my friend was leading on his friend.

I don't want to sound like a brat here either, but Anna also had this tendency of ignoring the topic of conversation (in this instance, my date) and making the conversation about her. Also, when she asks "is that bad?" she wants us to think she's being so sexually adventurous. I am one hundred percent in favor of girls doing whatever they want without judgment, but the way she threw it in our faces all the time made us all conclude that she did it for attention, especially considering when she got really drunk, she would cry about how she wanted a relationship. Again, I hate to sound judgmental, because I honestly love the girl, but sometimes I wish she was simply more self aware.

Anyway, I have my outfit hanging from my door and I've already watched two make up tutorials in an attempt to step up my game (especially after being inspired by Montana's awesome look). I don't know why, but I'm super nervous about this date. Maybe it's because Scott and I haven't had any one on one time yet. Maybe it's because I haven't been on many real first dates. Either way, I'm putting on my confident pants and doing this.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Double Date

"You swear his friend is cute?" Anna asked at a nearby coffee house Saturday morning. She was working on lesson plans while I worked on statistics homework.

"Yes!" I enthusiastically lied. How was I supposed to know if Scott's friend would be cute? After all, I hadn't even seen Scott since the night we met.

"How do you know?" She asked. She clearly wasn't falling for my bluff.

"All the guys he was hanging out with were cute so it's a likely conclusion."

She rolled her eyes at me. "You're lucky I swore off Chris and need a rebound bang."

I widened my eyes at her. "No, you can't," I whined. "I'd like something serious to happen with Scott and if you sleep with his friend, that'll throw off the whole good girl vibe I intend to give off." After just getting out of a relationship with Justin, I knew I was entitled to a fling (not to mention, very susceptible to falling into one), but I really didn't want to follow that pattern.

"Fine," she said as she rolled her eyes at me. "I'll hook up with him a few days later and make him swear not to tell Scott."

"Ha," I sarcastically laughed. "A guy's not going to tell his friends he hooked up with a girl? Yeah, right."

"The friend better be cute," Anna replied with a smile. "That's all I'm saying."

The next day, I picked her up around 4 and we headed to a restaurant for a football game.

I wore a red plaid shirt, dark jeans, and plain flip flops. Anna must have missed my text where I told her this place was very casual, because she was wearing this sexy, black top she usually wears when we go out. I was starting to question my choice in asking her to join me on this double date.

When we got to the restaurant, Scott and his friend were sitting at the bar, eyes locked on the screen. I lightly touched Scott's back to get his attention. "Hey," he said before practically jumping off his bar stool. "It's great to see you again."

"You, too," I coyly said as he pulled me in for a hug. I suddenly felt shy as Scott pulled away and looked into my eyes with a foreign intensity.

"This is Anna," I said after a few seconds in a daze.

"Nice to meet you, Anna," Scott said as he shook her hand. "And this is Martin." Martin was taller than Scott and a little heavier, but he was also pretty attractive. He was wearing a Colts jersey which created a fine juxtaposition next to Anna's scandalous top.

"Hi," Anna happily said to Martin, but I couldn't tell if her enthusiasm was sincere. "So, are we doing tequila shots before this game?"

Anna always wanted to take tequila shots, even when the situation did not call for it. I tried to think of how to respond, but I was happy when Scott interjected first.

"Uh, well we have a table waiting for us. Maybe we should just sit."

Anna shrugged and when Scott followed the hostess to the table, Anna was right on his tail. I awkwardly trailed behind next to Martin.

We sat down at a small, square table. I sat with Anna across from me, Scott on my left, and Martin on my right. We all chatted as a group for a little while before the game started. As I addressed questions to Scott, I began to get frustrated with Anna. "Oh, my sister's an accountant," she quickly interjected when he told me he worked at a big firm in the city. "How do you deal with those long hours?"

I get that we were all talking as a group, but Anna had this super annoying tendency to try and monopolize everything when we were talking to guys. The last time I can recall her doing it, and that she actually had the chance to do it, was with Evan. (Remember him?)

Once the game started, it almost didn't matter. These boys were so engulfed in the Colts game and how their fantasy teams were doing. Anna and I basically didn't even exist. We still had a great time and they tried their best to explain what was happening to us, which was cute.

During half time, I noticed Anna was chatting more with Martin and clearly enjoying a nice buzz. I was happy to see her enjoying the double date, but I was not happy to see her, again, trying to get the attention of Scott. Anna definitely deals with some insecurity issues, stemming from her crazy mother and beautiful sisters, but there was only so much I could let slide. Now that I'm single again, I can not deal with her inadvertently trying to steal the attention of guys. I knew she wasn't trying to cause harm, but I made a mental note that maybe I'd have to have a talk with her.

Even though I felt slightly deflated from Anna's antics, I did my best to show Scott I was interested. While he watched the game and tried to explain things to me (even though I made sure to use my little knowledge to impress him), I flirtatiously touched his arm or laughed extra hard at his jokes. I didn't know if it'd be enough to make it clear that I was actually the one on a date with him, not Anna.

Once the game was over, we said our goodbyes to the boys and I was unpleasantly surprised when Anna gave Scott an extra firm hug. How do you tell a friend that she's being totally inappropriate without offending her? It's not like I can say, "Hey, Anna. Your insecurities are showing!"

Lucky for me, Scott still seemed interested. When I got home, I had a text from him that read, "I had a great time tonight. Dinner Friday?"

Of course, I wrote back, "yes :)"

Friday, October 17, 2014

The Encounter

I leaned on my knees and tried to catch my breathe. While I was on the main road, I had been jogging pretty fast in anticipation of a walking break but now that Justin had pulled his car up next to me, I regretted my decision. Do you ever try to catch your breathe really quick but you just can't? I was trying so hard to suppress my huffing and puffing but that somehow made it worse. Too embarrassing.

Then, my mind moved to him. Shouldn't he be embarrassed? How did he manage to catch me jogging blocks away from my house?

"Hey," I said, with confusion in my voice mixed with my continued lack of composure as he rolled down his window.

He was still just smiling at me. I felt like he was politely, but also condescendingly, waiting for me to catch my breathe. "How are you?" he finally asked.

I stood up straight and stretched a little as I slowly crept near his car. I'll admit, I tried to subtly flaunt my upper body a little bit, by stretching my arms back and looking away from him. You have to let them see what they're missing without letting them know you're doing it on purpose.

"I'm good," I replied before just coming out and asking what was on my mind. "What are you doing here?"

He furrowed his eye brows before his face turned a slight shade of burgundy. "Um, I was just driving and I don't know, I recognized you. It's not like I'm usually checking out girls on the side of the road, but you know, I obviously recognized you from a glance."

I interjected because this was clearly becoming uncomfortable, for both of us. "No, no, sorry," I began. "I just meant, what're you doing in this area of the island." Justin lived a good twenty minutes away and even when we were dating, he very rarely drove through my town unless he was coming to see me.

Justin shot me a smirk. "I'm not stalking you, I promise. You know that this is the quickest route from my job to Alan's house. I had to stay late and had no need to stop home."

I felt stupid that I thought for even a second that Justin was driving past my neighborhood on purpose. "Of course, of course," I said nodding. "Alan's house."

"It's crazy that you happen to be jogging on that road at the exact moment that I was driving by," he said.

I shrugged. If he was trying to get me to talk about how this was some sort of cosmic connection of fate, I was so not falling for it. This wasn't destiny and I totally believe in destiny. "I guess," I replied.

"I mean, I was really hoping I'd hear from you soon," Justin uncomfortably admitted.

"Justin," I began as I tried to decide between being angry or sad, "I've said my peace. We should both move on."

"I thought we could remain friends. Or at least, friendly."

Now I was angry. "Friends don't ditch friends for dinner. If you wanted to remain friends, I'd ask for the same respect that you give Alan or Sean if you wanted to be friends." I understand trying to stay friends with an ex, but when a guy totally fucks you over and then says he wants to be friends, it infuriates me. Guys do not treat their friends the way they treat girls they have hooked up with.

Justin let out a heavy sigh and I could see the grip on his steering wheel tighten. "Caroline, I seriously fell asleep. I had a really long day at work and told myself I would just take a quick nap. My alarm didn't go off. I can't make you believe me, but that's the truth so I don't know what else to tell you."

I suppressed my desire to roll my eyes. "Okay, it doesn't matter," I said. "Listen, it's fine. We had a pretty amicable break up and I have no ill feelings towards you. I just don't see the purpose in dragging this out any more than we already have."

Justin looked at me like I just told him I killed his cat. "But I miss you," he replied.

I folded my arms in front of my chest. What kind of crap was he trying to pull? "Justin, I know you don't want to get back together. Even if you did want to get back together, you'd regret it right away. Don't you remember the night you broke up with me?"

"I know, I know," he replied. I could tell he was getting flustered. "I'm not saying I want to get back together. I just, I don't know, I'm not ready to let this all go."

I couldn't even stop myself from laughing at that moment. "Justin, we dated. It's not like we can go back to some gray area. We can't hang out but not be together." At that moment though, I felt a flutter in my stomach as an imagine of Justin's bedroom flashed through my memory. I shook that memory away and refused to let Justin catch my expression. I wished I could just hang out with Justin and hook up without all those messy feelings.

"Yeah," Justin began. "I'm sorry, you're so right. I just didn't realize what an adjustment this would be."

"Me neither," I said. We made eye contact and it became evident to both of us that this was the real ending. We had a great run (pardon the pun) but this was it for us.

"Well, you look good," he said. "I guess I'll see you around."

"You too, it was nice running into you," I genuinely replied.

He shot me a sweet smile before putting his car into drive. I waved goodbye as he drove away.

I walked home after that. I figured, running into Justin was enough of a cardiovascular workout.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Professor Caroline

I tied my sneakers tight on Friday night as I prepared for a run. Never in a million years would I think I was going to be looking forward to a run on a Friday night, but I was. I felt like I had one of my best weeks in a while.

I had talked to the guy I met on Sunday, Scott, two days before and we discussed watching a game. He unfortunately wasn't around this past Sunday, because he actually went to the game at MetLife stadium, but I was glad I'd have a weekend to watch a game with my brother and try to pick up some football terminology.

I downloaded this new app that's designed to get you to comfortably run a 5K in as little as 5 weeks. I splurged a few bucks and bought it.

Another reason my week had been so exciting was that I met with Dr. O'Conner Thursday and he asked something kind of huge from me.

"Hi, Caroline. Thanks for stopping by. Please, have a seat."

I nervously sat on his leather couch. What could he have to talk about that was so important he made an appointment for the same day he emailed me? He always gave me days notice and insisted that he was in "no rush," but this time was different.

"How are you?" I asked while trying to refrain from bitting on my bottom lip, a terrible habit I'm trying to break as I establish new and improved  Caroline 2.0.

"I know you have a day job," he began, without answering my question. "But is there anyway you'd be available the first Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday of November?"

I didn't know where he was going with this, but I quickly shook the surprised look off of my face. "Uh, yeah. I have vacation days saved up." While I didn't love the idea of using my vacation days, which I could trade in for an extra pay check, on whatever strange project Dr. O'Conner had for me, he had been so flexible with me and he seemed like he needed me for something important.

"Okay, that would be fantastic," he said with so much enthusiasm you'd think I just agreed to surrogate his child. "I have a conference in Texas. I wasn't supposed to be going, but this student bailed out. She says she doesn't feel comfortable getting on the plane." He let out a heavy sigh. "She says she's scared of getting Ebola. I don't know." He waved his hands as an end to his tangent. "Anyway, that's not important. This is where you come in. I need someone to cover my freshmen classes."

My eyes suddenly widened. Someone to cover his classes? "Since you've helped me with all the work, the department said I could have you go through the lectures with them. All graduate students can technically teach courses for their supervising professors, but it's somewhat frowned upon when done on a regular basis."

"Um," I began, hoping the words would magically form, but then he cut me off.

"You want to go into academia, right?"

His question kind of caught me off guard. Yes, I wanted to go into research. And yes, I was excited about the idea of being at a university where I could also teach. But all of this was a ways down the road. I didn't feel ready for all of this, but what other choice did I have?

We briefly went over the preparations for the November classes and he gave me print outs of his power points. Easy enough, right?

I was pretty nervous the rest of the day, but I have plenty of time to prepare and I was flattered that he chose me out of all his graduate assistants, including some who are in the phd program. I guess I'm doing something right.

Later that night, I got a Snapchat from Steve. Remember him? The young fraternity kid? A few days after we met, he added me on Snapchat and I am so glad he did. He sent out the funniest Snapchats that were definitely characteristic of his hipster sense of humor. That night, it was a guy walking around in UGG boots with the words, "White Girl Weather." I chuckled. 

I decided to send him a Snapchat back. I took a selfie with a goofy face and my hair in a messy bun. "What if I were your professor?" I wrote and positioned the words over the pimple forming on my chin.

He sent back a selfie with a thumbs up and the words "I'd ace that class." It felt weird that I'd be lecturing these kids, with no real teaching experience, when I was only a few years older than them. I didn't even elaborate on what I was talking about with Steve, but maybe I'll pick his brain for some advice when the time comes.

So in addition to this opportunity, I've been eating healthy, exercising, on top of my school work, and getting ample quality time with friends and family. Everything seems to be working out. I stretched by my front door before deciding to start running. Maybe I'd mix it up between jogging and running because I damn sure can't run for more than about five minutes straight. Judge me, okay? If there's a zombie apocalypse, I'm going down. But hey, I'm trying to improve.

I continued through random streets around my house, trying to avoid main roads but having to go on a few. As I ran off of one, I could hear a loud honk over the music from my iPod. I ignored it but then I felt like there was a car driving slow behind me. "This is why people can't run outside," I thought to myself.

I couldn't help but look to my left as the car slowed down next to me. My jaw dropped.

There was Justin, smiling at me from behind the wheel.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Let's go... Patriots!(?)

Darlene, Jessica, and I walked through the heavy, wooden doors around 5:30. The football game was already well underway, but Moose mentioned that we could all hang out and have dinner until the 8:30 game. The guys were already sitting in a corner booth all the way in the back. Almost all the guys were there and I was surprised so many of them dared to venture out on a Sunday. Most of them commuted to the city for work and had to be at the train station around 7. No, thank you.

Anyway, Jessica and I decided to split a bucket of beer while Darlene ordered a diet coke. (Such the responsible designated driver). We also all ordered wings partially to be involved in the spirit of things and partially to celebrate swim suit season being over.

Moose was not even close to me, but i could feel the discomfort. He wouldn't make eye contact with me across the table and whenever he said something to the group, he would only engage with other people. Why can't he just relax about stuff? I can't even imagine the awkwardness that would ensue if we actually fully hooked up.

I didn't let it bother me and figured he'd move past it on his own. I spent most of the night catching up with Jessica and Darlene while shoving wings into my mouth and downing Bud Lights. I made a conscious decision that I would be going to work the next day hungover.

I started talking to Billy. He was thinking about applying to PhD programs, something that I also told myself I would start doing, and we compared ideas about which schools seemed like good options. I started drinking faster because the discussion was stressing me out.

We ordered a few more appetizers for the table and another bucket of beers as the pre game bologna started. I heard Moose say he was rooting for the Bengals so I secretly decided I would root for the Patriots.

Once the game started, I was happy I decided to root for the Patriots because a table filled up with guys and yes, one of them was wearing a Patriots jersey.

I pulled out my phone and began texting under the table to Jessica and Darlene. "Hotties, 9 o'clock." I saw them both look at their phones and then subtly look over at the table I was referring to. Darlene's eyes lit up and Jessica nodded.

We were close enough to the table to hear loud exclamations from the group but not close enough to easily start conversations with them. I pressed my lips together and tried to concoct a plan to talk to them. I am so bad at this kind of stuff.

As the game went on, the Patriots began killing it with two touchdowns in the first quarter. Jessica, Darlene, and I enthusiastically clapped when we saw the guys next to us cheering. I pushed some hair behind my ear and looked over at them. To my surprise (and delight!) I saw one of them looking at me, too. He wasn't wearing a jersey, but rather a green graphic tee.

His slight smirk showed off his dimples (or at least his right dimple, I assumed the other side of his face matched). I smiled back before shyly looking down. I needed a way to approach him.

I continued to watch the game and engage with everyone at our table. I didn't eat too much more because I was starting to feel like a beached whale.

I got up to go to the bathroom and shot a flirtatious look to my new love interest. He caught my look and winked. It made my heart flutter in a way that I hadn't felt in a long time.

I was washing my hands when Darlene came strolling into the bathroom.

"Excuse me, madam," she began in a proper colonial age voice. "Are you having a scandalous rendezvous?"

I shot her a confused look. "What?" I asked.

She dropped her character and playfully slapped me on the shoulder. "Why is that cute boy waiting for you outside the bathroom?"

My heart may have stopped for a moment. "Really?" I asked, which really wasn't answering her question.

"Yes," she replied confused. "You didn't know?"

I didn't even answer her question as I checked my hair and makeup even closer in the mirror. Thank goodness I chose to do that moisturizing mask the night before.

"Wish me luck," I said to Darlene as I walked out of the bathroom.

As soon as I walked out of the door, the guy looked up and made direct eye contact with me.

"Hey," he said to me, sounding a bit unsure. "Enjoying the game?"

"I am," I said, trying to stand up a bit straighter.

"Yeah, I can tell you're really into it. Not like most girls."

I mentally did cartwheels to celebrate my successful trickery.

"Well, I take that as a compliment," I coyly replied.

"Oh, definitely," he quickly responded. "Uh, anyway. I think next time, we should be sitting at the same table."

I smiled and he smiled back. "That'd be nice."

I could tell he felt much more comfortable now that I confirmed my interest. He grabbed a napkin from his pocket and handed it to me. "I'm going to head in the bathroom, but you should text me this week. We'll set something up."

It felt so 90s of him to hand me his number instead of just putting it in his phone, but I liked that he was completely putting the ball in my court. "I'll text you now so you have my number," I replied, hoping I wasn't leaping too much. He smiled though, so I think he appreciated it.

I was so happy when I walked back to the table. I was relived that Moose didn't see any of those interactions. But how long can I really keep waiting for him?

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

The Power of Silence

"OMG I took a nap and didn't wake up." "Fuck, I'm so sorry. What're you doing Sunday?"

Those were the two text messages that I woke up to from Justin. They were sent around four in the morning, so it was plausible that he did fall asleep. But it was also plausible that he went out with his friends and decided to send me a sad excuse on his way home. Either way, I felt like I had said my peace the night before. Maybe this was a sign. (I know, so cheesy, right?) We broke up and for good reasons. A dinner wasn't ever going to change that. I should've never agreed to go to dinner with him in the first place.

I told this to Anna as we waited in line for coffee. We were in the food court of the mall in our town. Anna had started substituting at a few schools in the area and she said she needed more professional clothing. I was hoping to snag a few fall finds myself so we agreed earlier in the week to head to the mall early on Saturday.

"I can't believe you were ditching us for your ex boyfriend," Anna said to me.

"Stop," I replied. "I was not. I had plans with him before I knew you guys wanted to see a movie."

"Yeah, yeah," Anna responded. It was then her turn in line and she ordered a chai latte. I ordered a small coffee with caramel syrup and we shifted over to the end of the counter to wait for your drinks.

"Anyway," Anna began. "I'm really surprised at how you're handling this." I was confused and asked her what she meant. "You know, you're not letting the 'what ifs' get to you. You always did that with Mike. No offense."

None taken. I knew she was right. When I broke up with my first boyfriend, I questioned every decision I made. Should I have tried harder? Should I have given him more space? Whenever he texted me, I overthought a response and I always responded.

"You're right," I replied. "I recently read something on Pinterest about the power of silence and I guess it stuck." I didn't know if I'd ignore Justin forever, but I at least needed some time before I responded.

"Ha, I wish I could just shut up sometimes," Anna laughed. The barista called out our drinks and we grabbed them before heading for the escalator. We had a few stores on our list of definite stops. As we made our way to Express, Anna told me about some of her recent troubles with Chris. While she was definitely still playing the field, I could tell Anna really liked Chris, but she would benefit from utilizing the power of silence herself. "He won't text me for days and then, all of a sudden, he wants to take me out to dinner."

"Does he ask you out the day of?" I asked.

"Yeah, like he never wants to make plans in advance." We had reached Express and I remained silent as I looked at their portofino shirts. "What?" she prodded.

"Well," I began, as I carefully thought about how to tell her what I was thinking without coming off as rude or judgmental. "I think he obviously likes you, but if he doesn't make plans with in advance, it might be because he'd rather go out with his friends but if they happen to not being doing anything that night, he'll hang with you."

Anna sighed. "I know you're right." She put her drink down on the floor as she looked through some pants for her size.

"You can change his viewpoint, though," I said. "Don't worry about the past. Focus on the future."

Anna laughed. "Am I shopping with a fortune cookie right now?"

"I know," I replied. "What can I say? I told you, I've been reading a lot of motivational quotes on Pinterest since breaking up with Justin!" It was true. My break up technique was to try and flood my mind with positivity, so I tended to look towards the internet. At any given time, thousands of girls must be going through break ups, right?

Anna found her pants and held them up. "Gray or black?" she asked. I found the gray pair unique and told her to get them. We looked around a little bit more. "Honestly," she began, getting back on topic. "I'm proud of the way you're handling this. You have a whole new attitude and I admire it."

I was glad to hear Anna's compliment. Maybe I could continue this positivity?

I didn't respond to Justin and I didn't hear from him that week. I kept super busy with school, between my classes and my assistantship, but I felt satisfied with my life. I felt like I haven't been this focused in years. I was ahead on school work and Dr. O'Conner told me he was impressed with my work so far. I already planned on asking him to be a reference for me at the end of the year when I started looking for jobs.

The weekend came and I enjoyed some quiet time around my house. Saturday rained all day, so I decided to unpack all my Fall and Winter clothes. It seemed a little premature, but it's been getting cold here in New York!

Sunday, I received a text from Moose. I was surprised when it popped up on my phone, since I haven't heard from him since the night at The Shop, but once I opened the text, I saw it was a group text to almost our whole group of friends. He asked who would be around to get wings and watch football. While I don't keep up with football too much, I do enjoy the energy of watching games at restaurants. A few people agreed to go and Darlene picked me up around 5.

A fun night ensued.

Friday, October 3, 2014


I walked into the bar and saw four of my guy friends sitting at the bar. I smiled at the irony of the night. I met Justin in this very bar.

"Hey, guys!"

Billy, Tom, and Mark all gave drunken, enthusiastic hellos as Moose stood up and pulled me into an awkwardly cute bear hug.

"I'm glad you texted me," he said as he sat back down on the bar stool. They all had dark beers sitting in front of them and even though Moose's was more than half full, he ordered two more beers. "On me," he said as the bartender went to grab them. I smiled and thanked me. "So," he continued. "Where's your posse tonight?"

I looked away from him as I responded, "at the movies." I was so embarrassed that I got stood up and I knew that's where this conversation was going.

"Oh, and no Justin tonight?" I quickly turned my head and shot him a brief confused expression. Then I realized that I hadn't seen or even spoken to Moose since Justin broke up with me. Between school and work, I didn't even realize that we hadn't hung out with the guys.

"Nope," I said, shaking my head. I picked up my beer and took a long sip. "We actually broke up."

I caught a happy expression flash across his face, but he was polite enough to substitute a disappointed expression within a split second. "I'm so sorry to hear that, Caroline."

I gave him a half smile. "Eh, it's okay. I'm getting over it."

We both silently took sips of our beers before turning to converse with the other guys.

After I finished my beer, Moose insisted on getting another round, but I knew I had to drive so I declined. "Just leave your car here," he casually said.

"No, I can't do that," I laughed.

He let out a disappointed huff but smiled at me anyway. I knew he was really drunk, but he wasn't getting rude or emotional yet so he was right at the sweet spot of his drunkenness. "Let's go play pool," he insisted. I agreed and asked the other guys if they wanted to play, but they were invested in some sort of football discussion.

We walked over to the pool table. While the whole bar was pretty open, there was a pool table and a few booths away from the actual bar area. With the set up, I couldn't even see Billy, Tom, or Mark. I wondered if Moose had realized that.

"I'm really good," I teased as I chalked the top of my cue stick. 

"Oh, yeah?" Moose asked, leaning against the pool table and widening his eyes at me. "We'll see how good you are."

I raised an eyebrow at him. Were we still talking about pool?

I insisted that he break, without telling him that it was because I was never able to break, and he didn't get any in. Then I went and got a solid ball in. "I told you," I said with a wink. Moose gazed across at me with an either drunk or endearing look. I wasn't quite sure.

We each took a few more shots before I was faced with a nearly impossible shot. I playfully groaned. "This isn't fair," I said to Moose.

"Please," Moose slurred. "That's cake."

"You're crazy," I exclaimed.

Moose didn't say anything. He began walking around the table and stood behind me. I could suddenly feel his breathe on my neck as he leaned down to see the table from my perspective. "You just have to try it from a different angle," he whispered. Was I imagining things or had Moose become a smooth operator?

Moose put his hands on my hips and I almost jumped from surprise. He positioned me so I was pressed against the pool table facing the white ball.

"Okay," he began as he pulled the stick out my hand, put it back in them a different way, and then placed his hands on top of mine. "We'll get you that shot."

He leaned down and through the laws of physics, I leaned down with him. We were so close and I could feel my heart racing. It was creepily intimate, but he was sincerely focused on making this shot. His pelvis was pressed against me and I decided to push back on it a little bit. Yup, he was a little excited.

I guess I set off his nerves with that, but he started mumbling the instructions for my shot. I still understood what he meant and once he took a step back, I successfully completed what I thought was an impossible shot. We were both surprised. I quickly spun around to face him as we both cheered. We were luckily the only people on this side of the bar, but I'm sure our voices echoed over to the other guys.

I quickly jumped into his arms before we both kind of froze at how close we were. I leaned back to face him as he looked right in my eyes and licked his lips.

As I went to say, "thanks," he spoke at the same time.

"Come home with me."

I blushed and looked away. "Moose, I..."

I felt him suddenly let go of me as the other guys walked over. "Hey, guys," they enthusiastically said. I could tell they were all drunk, as well. "We're heading out."

"Okay, yeah," Moose said as he went to put away the cue stick. Wait, was that it?

All the guys had walked so I insisted that I would drive them home. Moose's house was the closest, so he told me I could drop him off first. Really? I thought he wanted to hang out more?

I dropped off the other guys and arrived home before looking at my phone. Still no text from Justin. And surprisingly, no text from Moose.

So, does that count as two rejections in one night?

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Dinner for Two?

I didn't have class on Thursday because of the Jewish holiday (yay!), so I took the opportunity to try yoga with Michelle again. I hadn't been making much time to work out since school started and I really didn't want to let all my stressors get the best of me (or my weight). Endorphins, right?

I just finished putting on my crop leggings and a white v-neck when Michelle texted me that she was at my house. We were walking into the class ten minutes later. As we were stretching, I told Michelle how I was supposed to get dinner with Justin that weekend.

"No, Caroline," she sternly said as she touched her toes. "Why?"

I shrugged while doing the butterfly stretch. I really couldn't think of a good reason to get dinner with him. "I don't know. I miss him." When the words left my lips, I realized how stupid I sounded. Was two weeks apart really going to magically fix any of our problems?

"I'll find you someone else," Michelle insisted. Before we could continue our conversation, the tiny instructor walked in and started the class.

After an hour of embarrassment, with the instructor trying to fix all my wrong positioning, I actually felt some of the benefits of yoga. I was more aware of my breathing and my head didn't feel as cluttered. Who am I becoming?

Once we were done, Michelle drove me to a frozen yogurt place partially against my will. I filled a small cup half way and only topped it with fruit.

"Want to come with me to Nick's hockey game tonight?" She asked me before taking her first spoonful of yogurt. Michelle had been dating Nick for over a year now and they were the cutest couple ever. He played intramural hockey. Some of my guy friends played at the same place.

"Um, what time?" I asked. I had so much school work to do but maybe I could fit it in.

"Eight and I'm telling you Caroline, there are so many cute guys on his team. Sometimes even cuter ones on the other team, not that I'd ever tell him that."

I wrestled with the idea for a little but ultimately I was way too tired to sit through one of those games. I told her I'd take a rain check and went home.

The next day I woke up with a text from Justin. "Mario's tonight? 7:30?"

If I thought Justin was bluffing about dinner or was going to simply forget, I was wrong. I put my phone down and got ready for work.

By the time I sat down in my office chair, I still hadn't made up my mind. On one hand, I knew there was no good from seeing him. I was doing a pretty decent job at moving on and how would this help? On the other hand, I wouldn't hate seeing him. Also, I told him I would. I hated backing out of things.

I whipped out my phone and wrote back, "Okay :)"

I knew it was a mistake, but as Lily Aldrin once said, "there are certain things in life where you know it’s a mistake but you don’t really know it’s a mistake because the only way to really know it’s a mistake is to make the mistake." I sighed. Why was I justifying my actions with the words of a How I Met Your Mother character?

I kept busy the rest of the day and soon I was home getting ready to meet Justin. I took a shower around 5 and started blow drying my hair when I began receiving text messages from Darlene, Anna, and Jessica. Within a few minutes, they had arranged to go see a movie. I lied and told them I wasn't feeling up to it. I planned on telling them about my dinner the next day, but didn't want to hear the criticisms when I had already made up my mind to go.

A few minutes after 7, I texted Justin that I was about to leave. I was wearing dark jeans and a black long sleeve top. My goal was to look cute without looking like I was trying too hard.

I arrived at Mario's a few minutes early and Justin still hadn't wrote back. I sat in my car and cleared some of my emails while I waited for a text or until I saw his car pull up. By the time 7:45 hit, there was still no sign of Justin.

I waited until 8 o'clock before I gave up. Was this really happening? Justin stood me up?

I decided to send him one, simple text. The last thing I needed was for him to show his friends my text messages and exclaim that I was crazy. I hated when guys acted like complete douche bags and then tried to accuse girls of being 'totally psycho.'

"Okay, I'm going home. I don't know what happened but it doesn't matter. Everything's fine with us so let's just end this for real."

I started to drive home when I realized that I didn't want to go home. I would just get emotional at home and I wasn't interested in crying. My friends were seeing the movie a little after 8, so it was too late for me to meet them but they wouldn't be around for a drink until at least 10.

I pulled over on a side street and pulled out my phone. Every time I looked at my phone and there was no text from Justin, I felt myself get more frustrated. My emotions led me to write out my next text and it wasn't to Justin.

"Hey, Moose! Any of you guys around tonight?"

He answered me back within a few minutes. "Yeah, we're at The Shop. Come get a drink."

As soon as I read it, I placed my phone back in my bag and drove across town to the bar.