Thursday Things

1. I’m running a half marathon on Sunday, and I am…concerned about it, to say the least. I’ve been keeping an eye on the forecast since it popped up on my AccuWeather app, and AccuWeather has, without fail, said that it’s going to either be 80 or awfully close to 80 all along. From my exhaustive pre-marathon forecast stalking, I know that forecasts 15 days out are almost always wrong, so I paid this no mind. Until the forecast started being 10 days out, then seven days out, then three days out, and still has not changed, except to get worse.

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Eff.

I am hoping with all the positivity I can muster that AccuWeather will be wrong. They were wrong last weekend, after all, so who’s to say they won’t be wrong this weekend…right? I once read a confessions-esque post on Thought Catalog that interviewed people in various careers, and the meteorologist quoted said anything more than 48 hours out is just a guess, and I am pinning all of my hopes on that claim. PLEASE. NO. THUNDERSTORMS. I’ll take rain. I will definitely take cloud cover. But no thunderstorms, kthx. In fact, I even promise to limit my whining about the heat to no more than two complaints if we can just not have thunderstorms in the city of Chicago from about 6:30 a.m. until 10:00 a.m. Or even 9:30 a.m. I’m asking for a three hour lightening-free window, and that’s it.

I’m also making an incredibly questionably life choice and have agreed to go to my best friend’s gala on Saturday night, because nothing says “half marathon prep” quite like a late night and heels, right? *facepalm* But a bunch of my other friends are going, and it’s important to him and the nonprofit for which he works, and this half marathon is…not really important to me, so here we are.

That being said, if my race recap on Tuesday/Wednesday/whenever I have time to write it for the half marathon includes me being all, “I’m SO disappointed in myself for running a 2:30. It’s embarrassing and terrible and awful and I’ll never qualify for Boston :'( “, this is me giving you permission to grab me by the virtual shoulders and say, “You idiot! You did this to yourself!!”

(But seriously. I had better not run a 2:30.)

2. Look at what I’ve done!


Pretties!

I planted on Sunday and am happy to report that, four days later, everything remains alive. (I also met a dog who apparently had been let out in the backyard of my building by his owners to wander, and who trotted up to pay me a visit — and walk into my apartment. Hahaha. He was very friendly, though, so I didn’t mind. I have now added him to my list of Dogs That Live in My Building I Intend to Befriend. There’s another dog who lives above me that I try to say hello to when he and his owner happen to be going out/returning from walks when I’m leaving my apartment. So far I’ve gotten a couple of kissies, which is good progress in my opinion. LOVE ME PLZ.) I trekked to Home Depot last Thursday to purchase my flowers, and realized that I had vastly underestimated the logistical difficulty of urban gardening when you don’t have a car – like the fact that I can only buy as much as I can carry, and that flats of flowers are not, in fact, easy to carry.

I sent a picture of my flower troughs to my mom, who responded, “I didn’t realize you bought geraniums!” Yeah, funny story: I didn’t realize I bought geraniums either, until my mom pointed it out. I wanted pink and purple flowers, so I bought the pink flowers that were next to the purple petunias at Home Depot, figuring they were pink petunias. Oops. Clearly things are off to a really fantastic start :P This is why I’m starting my venture into keeping living things alive with plants, not animals!

3. I had a Lettuce Entertain You gift card burning a hole in my pocket, so on Saturday night one of my friends from college and I had dinner at Summer House Santa Monica.


‘Twas oh-so ~trendy~. As I said to my friend, “I definitely should’ve worn my chambray tonight instead of this cardigan.” Hahaha. (But really.) It was trendy in a Lincoln Park way more than trendy in a River North way: more preppy than urban chic, if you will. My entree was so-so, not necessarily from a quality standpoint but more from a Bethany’s-personal-taste standpoint, but my trifecta fudge cake that I had for dessert (a slice of seven-layered chocolate cake with chocolate frosting, generously drizzled with hot fudge, topped with fresh whipped cream, served with a square of peanut butter fudge on the side *insert heart-eyed emoji here*) was THE BEST.

Have you ever had a race rained/stormed out?

If anyone has any advice on how to run a half marathon in 80 degrees when you’ve been training in 50 degrees (other than “lower your expectations,” because trust me, I’ve got pretty low expectations for this race), I’m all ears.

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Thursday Things

1. Is it January again? Because I feel like it’s Janurary again. January (and February) is my busiest time at work where I am OMGOVERWHELMED, and even though the calendar says I shouldn’t be this busy, holy smokes. I’m dyin. This is basically my excuse for why blogging may be on the light side from now until…like mid-June. 

Though the real reason work is so busy is because I’m going on vacation!! Woohoo! I’m headed out to Baltimore (to hang with Sarah!) and DC in a couple of weeks, and I. Am. Stoked. My cousin who lives in DC gets a sweet hotel deal as part of his job, so I’ll be living in the lap of luxury for…two days. Haha. But whatever! I’m still super excited, because I’m pretty sure my hotel situation is going to be the best hotel situation of my entire life (king size bed all for meeeeeee! And a great location, and apparently a rooftop bar?? There are plenty of those in Chicago, but I’ve never actually been to one.). With my job, there isn’t really anyone to cover for me while I’m gone, so I have to get ahead on a zillion things before I leave. I have a feeling it’s going to be more than worth it, though :)

2. My parents’s house has apparently turned into a bird sanctuary. Just this week, they’ve had a rose breasted grosbeak, indigo buntings (unpictured, but beautiful) an oriele, and a white crowned sparrow in the yard. Behold:

   

    

 I am unspeakably jealous. I get excited–like, irrationally excited–when I see cardinals in Chicago. Heck, I get irrationally excited when I see squirrels in Chicago, and they aren’t even pretty. Don’t get me wrong, I love living in the city, but man do I miss the wildlife we had a home. 

3. If all goes according to plan, I hope to go flower shopping this weekend so I can get a start on my attempt to cultivate a little garden on my porch. I went to Home Depot last weekend to get some necessary materials (like, you know, a place to plant flowers) and found myself turned into a puddle of indecision as I stared at the shockingly high number of fertilizer options, so I can only imagine how actual flower shopping will go (pretties! Colors! Nature!). If anyone has any suggestions on hardy flowers that will be generous with my inexperience and utter lack of knowledge when it comes to gardening in any capacity, I’m all ears. 

Flower suggestions?

Do pretty birds exist in Chicago? And if so, where can I find them?

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Adventures in Online Dating: OkCupid

Because if you know someone single and they mention OKC, chances are they aren’t talking about Oklahoma City…!

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Ah, OKC. The young twentysomething’s Match. The pre-Tinder Tinder. The good ol’ cesspool.

I signed up for OkCupid on a Saturday night in January of 2014 100% out of spite. I had been gchatting with a guy I liked at the time, and he signed off, telling me that he was heading out with “some people.” Since I was not invited, like I normally would be, and since he chose to not elaborate upon who these “some people” were, I assumed (correctly) that this meant he was going out with his girlfriend at the time, who I, being the scorned woman, had less than no use for. Naturally, I did what any reasonable person would do in that situation: I joined OKC to find me a boyfriend to make the guy I liked jealous. Definitely a good mental place to be in for this sort of situation.

OkCupid, in my opinion, is the Salvation Army of online dating. (In the most delicious coincidence of my entire life, about two weeks after I came up with this clever metaphor, I met someone on OkCupid whose parents work for the Salvation Army as pastors, thus meaning this guy was raised in the Salvation Army. Every now and again I accidentally predict my future like this, and I kind of love it.) While the VAST majority of available options are outdated, not your style or damaged in some way, and while literally every available option has been rejected in some capacity by someone else, if you are both persistent and patient, you’ll find what you’re looking for. In my experience, you HAVE to go in with this mindset, or else you will lose your will to live…or at least, you know, lose your will to continue using OkCupid. Let’s say you’re looking for a perfectly tailored Theory blazer, but don’t want to drop $425 at Bloomingdale’s to buy said blazer. Are you going to find that blazer at Salvation Army if you waltz in on any given Saturday afternoon? Probably not. However, if you go to Salvation Army every single day, if you figure out when Salvation Army restocks its inventory and make your daily appearance accordingly, if you scope out several Salvation Armies to find which one would be most likely to stock what your coveted Theory blazer, chances are you’ll eventually find, if not a Theory blazer, a perfectly acceptable substitute. You have to know, though, that it could very easily be a long, long process, and you’re going to have to sort through A LOT of crap to find what you’re looking for. If you’re not willing to put up with that, then you should probably just go to Bloomingdale’s in the first place.

OKC is completely free with the option to pay to upgrade to A-List service for a little bit of bonus material (more search filters, the ability to see who has indicated that they like you, the ability to browse anonymously, etc.). I’ve never gone A-List, so I can only speak from the free standpoint. To register, you fill out a profile with as much or as little information as you choose, come up with a username (this, in my opinion, was the hardest part of the whole situation), upload some photos, and answer more multiple choice questions than you ever dreamed you’d see this side of the ACT. OkCupid doesn’t require you to do any of these things aside from choosing a username, but the more information you add, the more OKC has to go off of in determining your match percentage with someone, and–perhaps more importantly–the more someone viewing your profile can see and use to decide whether or not you are worthy of his/her virtual flirtations.

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I think there are two major stereotypes about OkCupid (and, to an extent, free online dating in general). Stereotype #1: 95% of the people on OkCupid are looking for a hookup. The other 5% are either lying or delusional. Stereotype #2: If you are a girl, you will be bombarded by asinine-at-best messages from every dudebro caveman with Internet access, and will need to spend untold hours sorting though this useless correspondence. Dozens of men will visit your profile on a daily basis, and most of them will solicit you for sex. If you are a guy, you will have to fight tooth and nail to overcome the preconceived notion that you, possessing a Y chromosome, are inherently a dudebro man looking to get laid and/or a serial killer. The chances of you receiving an unsolicited message from a girl are about as high as the chances of you finding a glittery rainbow unicorn prancing up and down State Street.

In my experience, neither one of these things has proved entirely true. In regards to Stereotype #1, I can’t speak from experience or actual researched knowledge (though I do think this would make a fascinating study), but I hypothesize that Tinder has overtaken OKC as the way to find a hookup in this, our smartphone age. In my OKC experience, it has been exceedingly rare to find someone or be contacted by someone looking only for a hookup. Granted, that could be based on how I have my profile set up–I don’t know what all OKC takes into consideration when presenting me with eligible boys–but I haven’t found that to be much of a problem.

In regards to Stereotype #2, I will say that I delete probably 75% of the messages I’ve receive without ever responding, because those messages usually look like “hey” “how are you” or “what’s up.” I have a few rules of thumb when it comes to responding to messages: they have to look like dudebro put at least an iota of effort into it, they have to come from someone within my acceptable age range (49 year olds need not apply), they have to come from someone who lives within the city of Chicago (or a very easily accessible suburb, if he seems outstanding), and they have appear to not be a form message sent out to tens/dozens/hundreds of girls hoping for a response. To say that I’ve been inundated with messages, however, would be wildly inaccurate. I’d say I get, at MOST, messages from three new guys in a week. Usually it’s more like zero to one new guys per week – and that’s just messages in general, not messages I will justify with a response. This has led to plenty of existential crises–am I not pretty enough? Not interesting enough? Not chill enough? Why am I not being sexually harassed like everyone said I would be?!–but, realistically, I think I’m doing okay :P As for the other side of the coin–that girls never message guys–I imagine that by and large that’s true, but I’ve certainly sent a first message to my fair share of guys. On rare occasions, they respond. On even rarer occasions, this leads to something (true life: I first-messaged my now-ex-boyfriend, who I met on OKC. I was, once again, frustrated by that same guy who drove me to sign up for OKC in the first place, and in browsing through guys on OKC, I saw one I thought was super cute, read through his profile, and straight up asked him out right then. Though it obviously didn’t work out long term, it definitely was an effective strategy! To be fair, though, I’ve tried this strategy again since we broke up, and it has not worked out at all with anyone else.). OKC indicates how often someone responds to messages when you see their profile, and in my poking around, I’ve found that most girls respond selectively or very selectively according to OKC, whereas most guys respond frequently. You would think this means if a girl messages a guy, she’s guaranteed a response, but I’m here to tell you that is NOT always the case. While that stings the first time or two, the more it happens, the more you stop caring. The way I see it, if a guy can’t respond to a thought-out message I sent him, he’s not worth my time. So I move on and continue looking for that perfect blazer–I mean, boy ;)

You can try all sorts of strategies on OKC to get attention. Updating your profile makes it more likely that OKC will show you off to people, and this can legitimately mean adding or removing a comma from a sentence. Personally, I like to go on OKC during what I refer to as the “witching hour”: Sunday night. I’ve found this is when the most people are online, so if you want traffic, this is a good time to be active. If I want to actively look for people on OKC, I use QuickMatch, which is basically OkCupid’s answer to Tinder. It shows you random profiles and you can choose to either like them or pass on them. Passing on them doesn’t mean you’ll never see them again, but liking them moves them to your list of liked people. From here, you can browse people’s full profiles. If I’m actively OKCing (as opposed to passively OKCing, which is being on OKC and waiting for someone to come to you), I’ll set aside a certain amount of time to QuickMatch – until I get home, until I finish this meal, for the next five minutes, whatever. I’ll like the guys who seem interesting, then go to my liked list and more thoroughly look through their profiles, keeping a particular eye on when he was last active on OKC, because I’m not going to waste my time with someone who hasn’t been on in two weeks (the fact that OKC tells you when someone is online is also useful if you’re in the market for a solid dose of schadenfreude, because it will tell you when your ex-boyfriend is online if his profile happens to show up when you’re browsing matches, and then you can think, “Ha-HA, loser! Guess whose fault it is that we’re both online right now??”). OKC lets you know who’s visited your profile, so in theory, these guys should all know that I’ve visited their profile, which I think is the equivalent of continually looking in someone’s direction at a bar/on the train/wherever, hoping that they’ll make eye contact with you and come over to introduce themselves. Sometimes, I can’t think of anything to say to him after doing this, which I choose to believe is fate telling me this isn’t worth my time (unless of course he chooses to message me later). Sometimes I come up with something witty and creative to say, in which case I message him.

OKC has a lot of active members (187,000 people are online as I write this), which is both a blessing and a curse. On the one hand, you have a lot of people to choose from, so chances are you’ll find someone worth finding (though, like I said, it’ll take some persistence and patience, most likely). On the other hand, there are 187,000+ people on OKC, and if there’s anything I’ve learned from online dating, it’s that the world is much, much smaller than you may like it to be. If you’re a twentysomething doing the online dating thing, there’s a really good chance you’re going to run into your fellow single twentysomethings on OKC, whether you knew they were single or not…like, for instance, a person recently hired by an organization that you work closely with, who you talked to on the phone for work related things a couple weeks ago, who suggested that the two of you get a business lunch some time, who you accidentally ran across on Facebook two days later because he had liked something on a page you were viewing for legitimate research purposes, who, when you clicked on his name, had a very familiar profile picture, and OH SNAP, yep, you DEFINITELY know this guy from messaging him on OKC. And, of course, the golden rule of dating, “Thou shall not attempt to date other runners,” certainly applies on OKC just as it applies everywhere else, because inevitably, you will run into this person later on down the line, like, say, when you’re volunteering at Participant Packet Pickup at the Shamrock Shuffle, and that’s awkward and uncomfortable for all involved.

One issue I’ve encountered with the guys I’ve met on OKC (I like to refer to them as my suitors :P ) is that it can be REALLY easy to get caught up in messaging and never go beyond that, or take for.ev.er. to go beyond that. In my OKC life, I’ve gone out with five guys I’ve met via the site, only two of which (the now-ex-boyfriend and Salvation Army) I ever saw and/or spoke to again post-first date. The other three guys became penpals–we’d exchange messages almost daily–before finally–and I kid you not, every single one of them said exactly this–saying, after a FULL MONTH, “I don’t want to be too forward, but would you like to meet up in person?” UM, DUH. I didn’t join OkCupid to find a digital penpal, and I’m guessing you didn’t either! Based on that, I have to say that if you and your suitor exchange messages for a month–honestly, for more than two weeks–and neither one of you feels compelled to ask the other person out, RUN IN THE OPPOSITE DIRECTION. You’re wasting your time and his time. Of course, all the usual rules about meeting up with Internet strangers certainly apply with OKC: meet in a public place, tell people where you’re going, having an emergency exit strategy in place to use if needed, don’t pass off too much personal information the first time you meet them, etc. But do meet up with them if at all possible.

If you’re willing to put time and effort into online dating, I think OKC is completely worth it. You’ll likely meet people you never would have met otherwise, and though you will need to put up with some junk, you’ll probably find some gems if you keep at it. It’s the only thing that’s ever gotten me a boyfriend, so it must be worth something ;)

Though be forewarned: if you reactivate your profile after deactivating your profile due to dating your now-ex-boyfriend, OKC will have no sympathy for your fragile emotional state:

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What an ass :P

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