Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Worst Date Ever part II

Hiiii everybody! Gee, it's been so long since I've been on here that I don't recognize a THING. It took me almost 2 minutes to figure out how to start a new post. It feels almost like coming back to your hometown after being gone a few months. Things look different but it's so good to see some old friends and pick up right where you left off.

So back to my story. I didn't think anyone cared how it ended after allllll this time I haven't written, so THANK YOU ANNIE for asking me to finish it. :)

I'll try to make a long story short. I have hot peanut butter pasta to eat. :)

So the dude picks me up at my hotel in a taxi. I don't mean he hired a taxi to come pick me up. I mean he was DRIVING a taxi.

(At this point in the story, everybody always asks me if I sat in the front or the back. I sat in the FRONT, smartasses.)

His tires squeal on the gravel as the car shoots off down the road. He asks, "Do you want to go to beach or Mt. Olympus?" I say, "Whatever you want to do. You know what's best around here, I'm just along for the ride." He persists. "No, I ask YOU. Do you want the beach or Mt. Olympus?"  I say, "Um, ok, how about Mt. Olympus?"

He screams, "I KILL YOU"  which comes out more as "I KEEL YOU" then makes a u-turn in the middle of the road and we tear off in the opposite direction.

On Mt. Olympus, it becomes clear in the course of the conversation that he does not know what my name is. I try not to start hyperventilating, and go into survival mode. I realize at this point that NO part of this weekend will be good, not even getting to be on a legendary mountain, albeit in bad company. My goal is to get out of it alive.  On the way down the mountain, he tries to massage my neck as we are walking. I wiggle away.

Once we're back in the car, he starts PICKING UP PASSENGERS and TAKING THEM PLACES. I'm still sitting in the front seat, trying to play it cool, like I do this all the time. No, he didn't split the fares with me.

At some point, I feign a headache and ask to go back to my hotel. He drops me off, then comes back for me at 9 to take me to the beach. I made the foolish mistake of wearing a swim suit. That gave him ideas. I snapped. I thoroughly disabused him of any notion that I was interested in any sort of intimacy. For the first time since I'd met him, he looked crestfallen. He didn't say anything on the drive back to the hotel. I hardly slept that night. Around 5 am I got a text message from him saying I needed to find my own way back to the bus station the next day.

My next thought was, "oh fuuuuuuuudge. what if when I call the cab it's his fuuuudging relative who comes to get me?" The thought after that was, "I have no fudging idea how to call a cab. I don't know the number and I don't speak FUDGING Greek." And I HAD to catch that bus so I could get back to Athens and get back to work.

Insert phone call to Embassy. Insert Embassy dude saying he can't help me. Insert me bursting into tears, and Embassy dude saying ok don't cry, he can help. Insert Embassy person in Athens making phone call to taxi company in Mt. Olympus. Insert cab driver who shows up (mercifully in a DIFFERENT cab than the one I was in yesterday) who must have heard the abbreviated story I told the Embassy dude, looks at me with sympathy in his eyes, and pats me on the back.

The story didn't end there. Two things: First, there is no "bus stop" so to speak. There is a plastic chair behind a shed that two police officers in mirrored shades were standing in just past a toll booth. Second, the driver got me there about 30 minutes early. So I'm chilling in a plastic chair under a scraggly olive tree with my suitcase next to me and some serious life re-evaluation to do on the side of the road. One of the police officers was trying to look me up and down and I glared and him and thought "I've been looking for someone to kick in the nuts, just TRY me buddy." He didn't look at me again.

At some point during my wait, I heard what sounded like a bell ringing. I thought, WTF. I turn around, and there is an honest-to-goodness SHEPHERD, with a CROOK, leading goats down a path behind me. Just typical, I thought. This day can't get any weirder.

Finally, my bus burst through the toll booth. The police officers flagged it down, I got on, and a few hours later I was back in Athens.

So much for keeping that story short. But there you have it, folks.

My worst. date. ever.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Worst Date Ever Stories

It's the day after Valentine's day, so that can only mean one thing:

Time to share Worst Date Ever Stories!

I will tell you mine, and I want to hear yours too! Leave them in the comments section, or email me at starspangledstockings (at) yahoo (dot) com and I will post them as a guest blog.

To get the creative juices flowing, take a look at this from The Globe and Mail. Some of those stories are hilarious! Recreational eye patch!? Who does that?

OK, here goes.

I've had some real doozies of bad dates, but hands down, the worst date I ever had was with a Greek policeman on Mount Olympus.
During grad school, I spent a summer in Athens. I am pretty adventurous and open to new experiences, so when I met a policeman who asked me out for coffee, I said sure and gave him my cell phone number. He called a few days later and said something about how he still wanted to go out for coffee but he was leaving town for the weekend to go visit his family in Mt. Olympus and said he knew it was short notice but would I like to go with him?

I saw this as a great opportunity to see one of the most famous sites in Greece, and I also thought, what could possibly go wrong? I'll get to meet a cute Greek family and see a different way of life, and he's a policeman so that means I'll be safe. My brother is a policeman and I see it as a noble and honest profession. I also thought, there's no way he could possibly think of trying to get physical with me because I barely know him and this is a first date and we'll be with his family and he can't possibly think I'm that kind of woman.

Little did I know I would be wrong on all three assumptions.

He drove up to Mt. Olympus while I was still at work, so I caught a bus that left Athens after I got off for the day. I got to the little town close to Mt. Olympus REALLY late at night, and there was no actual bus stop. Just a bench on the side of a highway. The bus driver barely stopped long enough for me to step off the bus, then started yelling at me because I was taking too much time getting my suitcase off, then sped away. I was left standing in the middle of a dark deserted highway all alone, except for this big hairy old man with a long beard, a pot belly, a bottle in his hand and a crazy look in his eye. He started walking toward me and something inside of me snapped. I grabbed the handle of my suitcase and took off sprinting across a 4-lane highway in the dark. I had no idea what I'd find on the other side but knew I had to get away from that creepy man.

On the other side of the highway was a hill and I could see some lights on about halfway up. I stumbled toward the lights, then burst in the door of what looked like a seedy pub. I am sure I had a wild look on my face, not to mention I was still holding a suitcase, and it was about 2 in the morning. Two old men slowly swiveled around on their bar stools to look at me. "There's a crazy man down there! I had to get away! I'm waiting for my friend and he's not here yet!" I babbled, half hysterical. They blinked, then turned back to their drinks.

I furiously punched in the number of the policeman on my cell phone. "Where are you?" I screamed when he answered. "I'm here all by myself and some crazy man was coming at me." "Ah, don't worry, I be there soon," he said in clipped English and hung up.

He picked me up and then took me to this strange hotel that was completely isolated. I thought I'd be staying with his family but I was wrong. Fortunately he didn't try to make a move but instead just left me there. I asked him what time I needed to be ready to go sightseeing in the morning and he said, "Don't worry. I call you" and then he left.

I slept restlessly. The next day I woke up, waited for him to call, and finally wandered downstairs to try to find something to eat. It was at least noon, and he still hadn't called. I got some food, sat by the pool, and a couple of hours later he still hadn't called. I finally called him. He said, "OK I pick you up now." I said, "OK, but what are we going to do today? Are we going to the beach or to Mt. Olympus? I need to know what I should wear." He said, and I quote, "Don't wear nothing." I gave a nervous laugh. "Ha. Um, no really. What are we doing. I need to know if I should wear a swimsuit or hiking clothes." He said, "DON'T WEAR NOTHING. I be there soon." Then hung up.

I thought this was a bad sign. I had no idea the surprises that were in store for me later that day....

To find out how this ends....come back next time. :)

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Up and At 'Em

I hate it when I wake up 4 hours before my alarm is supposed to go off and I can't go back to sleep.

Actually, I don't think that's ever happened before until this morning. Usually if I wake up in the middle of the night I can fall back asleep.

It's not so easy now because my sleep schedule is all messed up because of shift work. I adjusted to working nights pretty well. I ate healthy foods that gave me energy, I didn't just drink coffee for caffeine, I also drank lots of green and black tea, and I used an eye mask to help me get to sleep during the day. What I didn't count on was how hard it would be to switch back to days.

I have recently discovered pinterest and I've found a lot of healthy recipes for smoothies that I want to try, and healthy meals that I can make ahead of time and take with me to work. I'm hoping that a veggie-packed sandwich and a peanut butter and apple snack will get me through this day.

If you have to work unpredictable hours (moms, I'm looking at you), what are some of your tips for getting yourself to sleep when you have to, and powering through the day when a nap isn't an option?

Trying to shine,

Friday, February 10, 2012

Bridget Jones

Bridget Jones' Diary is one of my all-time favorite movies. She's just so funny and so real. Even though I'm not single anymore, I can totally relate to her search for fulfillment and her quest for love (been there, done that). And her occasionally disastrous public speaking skills. "Oy! OY!!!" Classic.

There's a part in the movie when she's getting ready for a big date and she has 'an emergency summit with urban family' to prepare. It got me to thinking about my urban family, you know, the friends who will rally for you at a moment's notice when something major happens, like a breakup, a birthday, or a date that requires an emergency shopping trip. I've relied on these friends SO MUCH for emotional support. They've seen me at my best and at my worst.

But so has my real family, even though I don't get to see them as often.

Here are some of my favorite things to do with my urban family:
1. Sit around with cocktails or coffee and talk. About anything and everything. Men, work, the meaning of life, where we grew up, the famous people they've met (those stories never get old to me...I get dazzled very easily), gossip, etc.
2. Go out to fabulous restaurants for brunch. I love brunch. I think it's a city thing.
3. Go to the theater. One of my urban friends introduced me to the Kennedy Center and now I must go at least once a month. It's the mother ship.
4. Go to interesting attractions in the area that are off the beaten path for most tourists, like the ice skating rink in the sculpture garden or the cocktail party in the museum of African art after hours.
5. Have theme parties. I've had an Out of Africa party, and helped host a Will and Kate party. We had an animal print theme at the former and I wore white gloves and pearls at the latter. Good times.

Favorite things to do with real family:
1. Sit in the living room, drink coffee, watch TV, talk about books.
2. I love, love, LOVE seeing my cousins at Christmas. I love the frenzy in the kitchen, holding the new baby, catching up on the latest, and feeling like we can pick up right where we left off.
3. Doing anything with my grandmothers. Cooking. Eating. Doing various random projects around the house, including watering the African violets, changing a light bulb, making the crescent rolls, stirring the orange drink, and on one notable occasion, helping haul cinder blocks in a wheelbarrow. My 80 year old grandma was better at that than I was. There's just something so comforting about being in the kitchen while grandma cooks. I have especially fond memories of jam making. It has something to do with what I wrote about yesterday...doing things the way they're supposed to be done.
4. Going out to eat -- the foods from back home that I LOVE. My fam always indulges me and takes me to whatever restaurant or fast food joint I want to go to. Sonic happy hour? Chicken fried steak? Mexican again? The choice is mine.
5. Listening to my brother's cop stories. No one has as good a story as a cop does.

What about you? Do you have an urban family?

Thursday, February 9, 2012


I am so dang proud of myself.

I just made, from scratch, a chocolate cake (with the good cocoa!) with salted caramel frosting. I found the recipe on pinterest.

To some people, whipping up a beautiful and tasty dessert from scratch is no big deal. To me, this is huge.

You see, I like to cook and I like to bake. But I usually like to take shortcuts. Why make a lasagna when you can buy a perfectly good one from a box in the frozen section? Why go to the trouble to make brownies from scratch when the box mix costs $3 and only requires 3 ingredients? Why do something really, really well when you can do it quickly and it still comes out more or less ok?

The trouble is, for the past year I feel like I've been living my life just skidding by on the surface. Making sure I was the poised professional who never steps a foot wrong at work. The girlfriend who can cook him a three course meal, even if all three courses did come out of the frozen section. The person who felt so unsettled in this city and this life that I traveled almost every other weekend just to get away from it all.

The problem is, none of that was fulfilling. Not rocking the boat with certain people is good in some cases, if that person is, say, your boss. But holding back my true feelings when a "friend" continues, day after day, to drain my energy by being consistently negative REALLY wears me down and I don't want to just keep on smiling and listening [which is what I thought a good friend is supposed to do] when what I really should say is STOP BEING SO NEGATIVE YOU'RE DRIVING ME CRAZY! Is that really so bad?

I love to travel. It's my absolute favorite pastime, it's my passion, it's my love. But doing it every other weekend to escape the reality that I don't like living in this city is not only expensive, it doesn't get to the root cause of the problem. The truth is, I have to do some really intense soul searching to figure out not what job I want or what city I want to live in, but who I am. That seems a little trite but not being in tune with that was the root of my dissatisfaction, and is something that I'm still working on.

I felt like I had to be everything to everyone. The stellar employee who dresses, talks, and acts like everyone else to fit in and get ahead, even though I got so sick of people telling me how much I'll enjoy working there for 30 years when it's been hard enough doing it for a year and a half. The friend who patiently listens wayyyyyy longer than necessary to toxic negativity, because I thought that's what good friends do. Smile, nod, repeat. The woman who tries to find a balance between being a well-educated city girl with my fast-lane friends, and a down to earth, non judgmental, trying to make sure no one thinks I'm looking down on them just because I moved away kind of person with the people back home. (Not you, S. I know I don't have to be anything but myself around you.)


Getting back to the cake. It may have taken an hour to make. It may have cost a lot more money for ingredients than a Betty Crocker mix. But the process of making it was therapeutic. It felt like I was doing something the way it was supposed to be done. I was so proud of myself when it actually came together. And ... better yet, it's the absolute BEST cake I have ever tasted.

Licking the frosting,

P.S. Thank you to the readers who've stuck with me even after all this time. I <3 you.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012


I just gave my blog a really short haircut.

I didn't believe all that old baggage accurately reflected me and the things I wanted to talk about. I left it up for so long because I thought that maybe seeing what I went through in a failed relationship might help other people going through the same thing, but honestly, enough is enough and it's finally time to just get rid of all that and move on.

So that's what I'm doing....stay tuned!