I learned something about myself at a bachelorette party last weekend.
As I sat through the “How well does the bride know the groom” game, I realized that I would have scored higher than the bride had the questions been about my roommate and BFF, Lauren.
Lauren and I are so close, we’ve considered adopting one of those cool celebrity hybrid names to save time. Lyndsen? Laurdsday? (Official celebri-name and pregnancy/adoption rumors pending).
We know each other’s weekly schedules. We call each other on our office lines and we often are the other’s “plus 1” at weddings and office functions.
We take turns buying milk and often plan weekday meals together. We have bizarre pet names for each other—Bobo, Sheesh and Billybob Thornton, to share a few.
Sound familiar? When you’re single, the people closest to you take on the role of what I like to call the “SSO” (surrogate significant other)—whether it’s your roommate, office mate, sibling or best friend.
And it’s not just a female thing. Take, for example, my two very heterosexual friends Nick and Russ , who have a beautiful bromance. Most weekends you can find Nick spending the night at Russ’ or vice versa. And more often than not some form of baking is involved. I’m not kidding.
I recently overheard them discussing the idea of Nick keeping some work clothes at Russ’ place, just in case he ever needed a change of clothes. I told them that the day Nick has a “drawer” at Russ’ they officially need to change their statuses on Facebook to “It’s complicated.”
So am I saying there’s something wrong with this? Absolutely not. But just in case you are wondering if you’re in a similar situation, ask yourself the following:
>>Have I recently rented the entire “Lost” series to watch with this person on the weeknights?
>>Have we tattooed each other’s middle names around our navels?
>>Do people refer to us as a BOGO (buy one, get one) behind our backs?
>>Do we have a pair of jeans that we trade every month that magically fits us both and inspires us to greatness?
If you answered yes to any of the above questions, congratulations, you have an SSO. But don’t panic.
These close, “in-the-meantime” relationships are perfectly healthy. Take me and Lauren for example; we are still roommates, we still get wedding invitations addressed to both of us, and may or may not be planning a Caribbean cruise for 2010.
As I see it, these relationships are good way to about yourself and what you need from a significant other. I already know that I need a man who loves to clean, tolerates my daily 5 p.m. napping habit and is willing to call me “Billy.”
I’m hosting my first thanksgiving this year.
While its not as sexy as i dreamed—decorating the table with my fiance as my new engagement ring sparkles in the chandelier—I’m very excited.
In less than a week my sister and I will be hosting seven members of our family at my apartment in Chicago.
Amidst our preparation over the last month there have been countless lists, several spats, a dozen phone calls and about 10 thousand recipes. And perhaps one or two panic attacks.
So in light of my experience planning my first thanksgiving (results pending, of course), I’ve come up with six ways to maintain your sanity when you’re the host; a handful of quick, at-a-glance survival tips to help your event run (even more) smoothly.
1. Have a plan
Make a game plan for the day including recipes, oven temps, allergies, etc. Make sure to schedule in 15 extra minutes for each cooking component. I happen to be an avid list maker, but my sister Emma always takes it up a notch with lists that include detailed time schedules.
I have often mocked her for these meticulous lists she makes (especially the time she plotted out our entire weekend with our mom including time slots for coffee and conversation)
A Thanksgiving spreadsheet may be going too far, but being organized is key
But for this occasion, her schedule making came in handy. We’ve planned what we are making and when, with time scheduled for cleanup and table prep. While this step may seem tedious up front, once you have everything down on paper you will feel ready to tackle anything.
2. Divide and Conquer
Whatever you do, do not do this alone. I know, I know. You’re probably thinking, “Isn’t this all about hosting your own thanksgiving?” But in order to escape this first feat unscathed you have to find a partner in crime, or several. Dole out tasks specific to the guest/family member’s age and abilities. Put your cousin and her husband on appetizer duty. Tell Uncle Larry to bring the wine. Have your teenage niece set the table. Working together is what the first thanksgiving was about anyway, isn’t it?
Thats right, Keep it simple, stupid. Don’t try and get too fancy on your first run. Stick to traditional items and limit yourself to one new fun dish. I found a killer recipe on Epicurious.com for chipotle sweet potatoes. Even Aunt Helen can’t complain about that.
4. Stay Calm
Pick some key “gloss overs” in case any uncomfortable topics arise.
In our family we like to avoid the three D’s: divorce, debt and the Dow.
If for some reason these subjects arise we have armed ourselves with some key gloss over transitions like, “Drew, tell us about your new job!” or “So Mike, what is Portland like this time of year?”. The last thing a Thanksgiving dinner needs is uncomfortable conversation or—heaven forbid—a full blown fight. Keep in mind a few harmless topic areas that will provide safe transition back to neutral ground. You’ll be glad you did.
5. Set the Mood
I come from the belief that candles make everything better. Dim the lights, put on some Michael Buble or Mat Kearney and watch the atmosphere take on a much more peaceful vibe (or if you’re one of those freaky families that listens to Christmas music before Thanksgiving, play some Bing Crosby). You’ll be surprised how relaxed you’ll feel when the ambiance is right.
6. Personalize it
Find one way to make this dinner your own. Come up with a ‘What are you thankful for?’ game by using the alphabet and going around the table and having each guest name something they’re thankful for (start with A and so on and so forth).
Avoid the three Ds and avoid a fight
Another option is to make fun and unique place cards for the table. I go to Real Simple for creative and festive table setting ideas. At the very least, buy yourself a fun apron. These are the personalized moments where you get to take advantage of your privileges as hostess.
7. Remember your priorities
Don’t be a perfectionist. No one is going to notice your mistakes (except, maybe your mother-in-law). There’s a first time for everything — hiccups and road bumps are to be expected. Relax and laugh about it.
Whatever you do, don’t let the real meaning behind this holiday escape you: there is a lot we all have to be thankful for.
In closing, I thought you all might appreciate some sarcastic advice I received from my friends while researching this topic. I asked, “What advice do you have for someone hosting their first Thanksgiving?”
• Limit your time with family so you can still be thankful for them when they leave
• Tell your guests that dinner is served 40 minutes before the actual time so that all of your notoriously late friends will be early
• Don’t host Thanksgiving
• Have a turkey pinata to release pent up energy
• Wine. And then more wine
Have you ever had one of those weeks where everything kind of goes wrong?
A “someone took the last Little Debbie from the vending machine” kind of week?
Well, I have. And this was one of them.
I’d love to say that despite this week’s setbacks I behaved calmly, appropriately and with wisdom.
But that’d be a lie.
In fact, in the middle of the week, I was so upset that I turned to my sister and said, “Can I say something I don’t mean?”
“…sure,” she responded, hesitantly.
“I hate you,” I said.
This sent us both into a ridiculous fit of laughter because she knew I didn’t mean it and that for one moment I just really wanted someone to blame for the way life was going. (Yes, I realize I am the portrait of maturity.)
But two days ago, I decided that instead of looking for someone to blame, or marinating on the crappy hand that life sometimes deals me, I wanted to find and focus on ways I have been blessed this week.
This was much easier said than done.
Admittedly, in the midst of a time in your life when things are just not going the way you planned, it’s difficult if not impossible to have the eyes to see ways in which you have been blessed.
At first, when I panned back over the last few days looking for blessings, all I saw a were a lot of big, ugly setbacks. But slowly, and surely, I saw sprinklings of care, concern and support. I realized that throughout all of my struggles, I am surrounded by many, many people who love me.
Once I realized that love was the biggest blessing of my week, I took the famous passage that describes what love is and, point by point, recalled how various people in my life have shown me love this week.
This is what I uncovered:
Love is patient with me. Even when I knock the bed off of one of its risers and you spend 30 minutes with me disassembling it in order to fix the problem without ever rolling your eyes or losing your temper.
Love is kind and buys me lunch when I’m having a really awful day and then feeds me homemade cookie dough while listening to my problems.
Love does not envy me when I find a really great fall coat on sale when you were looking for one.
Love does not brag and is not arrogant even though you’re in a stable career and make way way (seriously WAY) more money than I ever will.
Love is not rude even when I have to ask for the zillionth time where you’re traveling this week because I wasn’t being a good listener.
Love does not insist on its own way even when you know for a fact that your way is better/faster/smarter.
Love keeps no record of wrongs, despite the fact that I said I’d call and I didn’t.
Love rejoices with the truth and consistently encourages me to be honest with myself and others.
Love bears all things (even when I forgot to do the dishes).
Love believes all things (and dreams my dreams when I haven’t the energy to do so myself).
Love hopes all things (reminding me that tomorrow is another day).
Love endures all things (even when I text message while you’re telling me a story).
Love never fails (thank you dear, dear friends and family).
When I got through the list, I was overwhelmed by all of the love that I overlook every day and how powerful it is when someone is simply there for you. It is through these subtle, unseen and undeserved moments that we realize how lifesaving it truly is to be loved.
I got an email from my friend Katie last week with the subject line: “Speed Dating!!!”
And yes, there were three exclamation points.
My immediate reaction was to snarl my lip and loudly grunt “Ugh” (I’m such a lady, huh?). As I scrolled through the email and read the details, I tried to envision myself “dressed in business casual attire” going on “20-30, 3-minute dates.”
Now, you might not know this about me, but I may be one of the worst ‘small talkers’ I know. And I’m not exaggerating. Once I find common ground with someone, or if I’m with more than one other person, I’m fine. But one-on-one, I sound something like this: “So….where are you from? Ohio? That’s cool…um, my Dad went to OSU…hehe, Gooooo Buckeyes. Me? Well I went to school in Kansas, but I’m from Minnesota. I know, pretty crazy, huh? What do I do for a living? Funny you ask…”
See? No one wants three minutes of that. Furthermore, first impressions are brutal. We all paint a glossy sheen over our flaws and come up with ways to attractively showcase our impressive attributes. And that’s okay, if as you go forward in getting to know someone, you drop the façade and show more and more of the real you; ugliness included.
But that’s never been easy for me. I have a habit of putting on a happy face to hide my hurting heart, making light of dark things in my past and keeping the unpleasant details of my life away from the light. The problem with this is it’s not only exhausting, unauthentic and dishonest, but it also keeps me from allowing myself to be truly known and loved by others.
I decided to draft a mockup of a three minute speed dating conversation where I reveal things about myself that normally take me months to disclose. This is what it would look like if I took the risk of revealing aspects of my personality that aren’t perfect and areas of my life that need work so that maybe, just maybe, I could take a stab at being myself.
“Hi. I’m Lyndsay. So here’s the thing. These snacks are really good so I’m going to eat them while we talk and not be afraid that you think I’m a chubster. What else? Okay, I didn’t wash my hair today. Let’s just start with that. Also, last night I fell asleep watching Law and Order. Other than 7-layer Mexican dip, I can’t really cook. Ooh, and I will probably never run a full marathon. I just think a half was enough for me. Sometimes I purposefully miss the El so that I don’t have to ride it with an old acquaintance that I see on the platform. I am just now being responsible with my money. I have three overdue library books. I drink entirely too much diet soda and not nearly enough water. Here’s a good one…I often put the treadmill TV on CNN so I look smarter to the cute guys at Xsport. My parents are divorced and that has completely shattered the lens with which I view marriage and relationships. I have great taste in music, but there are moments where I just crave top 40 radio hits. I really, really need you to laugh at my jokes. A lot of times I’m about seven minutes late. Thanks for listening, nice to meet you, and oh, you have something in your teeth.”
After reading Tania’s expose’ on the role of honesty in our job hunting, something dawned on me.
I haven’t been honest enough with potential employers about myself.
Part of my unemploymentality has involved digging deep and trying to discover my strengths; what I’m really good at. And I think this list will help potential employers focus on the really important aspects of my skills set and work ethic.
Also, resume’s are so 2008.
So here you have it. Don’t you worry, I’ve made room in my inbox for the massive response I expect from this post. Once this hits the web I’ll have people knocking my door down to hire me.
To Whom It May Concern,
A little bit about me:
-Although I am legally an adult, Madonna and the Jolie/Pitts are currently engaged in a legal battle over who gets to adopt me
-I work best under pressure, with little preparation and against all odds
-At least thrice a week I sit for life sized oil paintings for others to hang over their mantle.
-I was born like Benjamin Buttons but used sheer willpower to reverse my aging back to normal
-Condoliza Rice and I are pen pals
-If you write my full name down and hold it under a black light, the word “WINNER” appears
-I have an outie belly button
-Children and animals and old people and people in traffic love me
-I volunteer 7 days a week
-I only need 30 minutes of sleep a night
-I’m really pretty
-I play the pan flute
-People often stop me on the street and just ask me to hug them
-I don’t have the swine flu. I AM the swine flu. I’m also the cure.
-Success comes naturally to me
-I eat guys like you for breakfast
-Ryan Gosling asked me out on a date and I said no
-I coined the phrase “emoticon”
-Bill Gates stole my diary
-My name, in Gaelic, means “blood, sweat and tears”
-Your mother has me on speedial for when she needs advice
For more information about my potential, please rent the movies “Good Will Hunting” or “Dangerous Minds” and listen to the song, “Miss Independent”
Potentially, Hopefully, Truly Madly Deeply, Yours,
Lyndsay A. Rush
Just another WordPress weblog
WHAT THEY SAY
References / Praises