nerdy girl dates: valentine’s day

In case you’ve been living under a rock and not watching any TV or reading anything online or going to any store, Valentine’s Day is in a few days, people. While I’m generally not a Valentine’s Day fan, I am a romance fan (last year’s faves) and a marketer’s dream, in that I love anything pink, red, heart-shaped, sparkly, and generally over-the-top cute. You make a mini heart-shaped ramekin? I want four. You put hearts all over…well, anything? GIMME. I love celebrating love, but I’m totally not into the roses-chocolate-overpriced-dinner-and-lava-cake thing. I am especially not into enduring any more “Every kiss begins with Kay” commercials. We don’t usually do gifts besides maybe a bag of “thinking of you” candy, but my goal each year is to make our celebration just a little unique. Recently, and I’ll be honest here, it’s been the same old dinner-and-watch-a-movie-on-the-couch kind of night. Nice, and sadly very reflective of me and the husband as a couple, but we pretty much do that every weekend. Not so special.

We are, of course, always last minute about these kinds of things, meaning we can never get a reservation at a restaurant or get tickets to a concert or movie. No biggie, we don’t really want to deal with the crowds anyway, but it means we’re in the aforementioned Valentine’s Day rut. This year V-Day is on a Saturday, meaning there’s a WHOLE DAY to do romantic, mushy, love-y stuff! Here are a few of the fun and nerdy date ideas I’ve been planting in the husband’s mind all week:

-Go to a bookstore and pick out a book or two to exchange. It can be one you’ve loved in the past or one you think they’d love (that of course is also on your reading list…two birds, one book). I know there are also cute bookstore scavenger hunt ideas all over the internets if you’re feeling especially ambitious and cutesy. Finish up with a yummy coffee and start reading!

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-Along the same lines, go to a record store (or a CD store? Was that ever a thing?) together and pick out a few inexpensive oldie-but-goodie selections or some random albums just because you like the art. Spend the night giving them a spin with a bottle of wine.

-A staple: find a fancy new recipe and try to cook it together. Bonus points if you wear aprons and silly hats to make each other laugh. Extra bonus points if it involves the crème brulee torch and cute heart-shaped ramekins.

-And if that gives you a heart attack: order carryout from a nice restaurant and plate it like you made it yourself. Be sure to wear your fancy clothes! (We may or may not do this every year. I hate cooking.)

beer-tasting

-Host a blind beer, wine, or bourbon tasting. Take notes and compete to see who can guess what they’re tasting. This one is especially fun if you’d rather hang in a group, and you get to eat lots of snacks in between tastings!

-Three words: Board game tournament. You can decide the stakes. Wink wink!

-Enjoy a nice meal out…just not dinner. We’ve got the whole day! Use it! Bypass the typical dinner date and go out for breakfast or lunch. I personally LOVE lunch dates. Somehow it feels so like such a treat to enjoy a glass of wine and a slow, relaxing meal with good conversation in the middle of the day. Or stay up late and go out for a nightcap and dessert. What could be more romantic?

-Go on a first date. It’s probably impossible to get dinner reservations at this point, but the bar in a swanky restaurant might just be the best place to have some fun together. Plan to meet separately at a bar and pretend you’re strangers. Have fun deciding who gets to creatively ask, “want to go back to my place?”! (Anyone see when they did this on Modern Family? I love Clive Bixby.)

What are your plans for Valentine’s Day? Whatever they are, I hope you feel loved!

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sunday brunch

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If we were having brunch today, I’d tell you quite simply, “hi.” Probably following a huge sigh as I sat down. Y’all, this has been a month. Already. In case we aren’t close in real life, here’s a snapshot of the last 15 days or so: One Monday, E rolled over in bed and proceeded to tell me, “My lung just collapsed.” Ok. Nothing new here, it had happened many times before and always healed within a week or so. By Friday he was read to go to the hospital. We didn’t leave for 10 days. A surgery and a few sponge baths and many sleepless nights later. He’s thankfully very much on the mend and is getting better every day, but he’ll still be out of work for another week or two and taking it easy for much longer. I see lots of lazy summer days and friday nights spent with the record player and Redbox movies in our future. All in all, just beyond relieved he’s going to be fine and this will never happen again, thanks to the surgery.

If we were having brunch today, I’d tell you that I somehow grew an inch! At 26, I finally went to a primary care doc. Seriously, I haven’t been to a doctor (besides the girly doc and my blood doc) since I went to a pediatrician. That’s crazy! But apparently now I’m 5’5″ and not 5’4″, so I’d consider it a successful appointment. Except for that tetanus shot…got it on Thursday and my arm still hurts. Yes, I’m a wuss.

If we were having brunch today, I’d tell you I’m thinking of starting a new house project. I know, I probably say this every month…but I’m feeling like we’re a little stalled out on the house right now and I need a kickstart. Usually paint serves that purpose just fine! Since E is out of commission, I’m thinking that painting the deck will be postponed until the fall (because, uh, that would be a miserable do-it-myself project), which means until then, I can do what I want inside! I just can’t decide what I want to tackle first: the guest bedroom or the lower level. Let’s be honest, it’ll probably be the guest bedroom. I’m lazy and it’s smaller and doesn’t require projects like new flooring and built-ins. Ha.

If we were having brunch today, I’d tell you that I really want to go shopping. It’s not that I have nothing to wear, I just have nothing that I want to wear. I have this image of how I want to dress in my head (and on Pinterest…) and I am realizing that my real-life closet doesn’t match this imaginary one. I guess I get too scared to take risks? Or I am just more causal than I would like to think? Or really it’s just that I don’t have the money to spend (and really won’t after these hospital bills start rolling in)? I don’t know. I’d rather buy workout clothes anyway. If only I could wear workout clothes to the library everyday! Stupid dress code…

If we were having brunch today, I’d tell you I am super pumped that The Newsroom is back tonight! We don’t have HBO anymore so I’ll have to wait to buy it on iTunes or something, but I really love that show. I mean, it’s Aaron Sorkin so of course I love it. Even though it’s no West Wing, I still think it is super entertaining. Much more so than Mad Men was this year. Yuck. I’m pretty sure the themes of this season were, “Pete Campbell is a prick,” and, “Don Draper is a horrible human being,” and, “Poor Sally.” They’ve got some work to do for next season if they want to remain on top. Now I’m just rambling…

Happy Sunday! Enjoy this beautiful sunny day!!!

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nerdy girl reads: this is how you lose her

Little known fact about me: I don’t speak Spanish. Just kidding. I know enchiladas and queso and siesta (which is coincidentally, what I like to do after eating enchiladas). But yeah, beyond food items, I got nothing. So when I realized a few pages into Junot Diaz’s This is How You Lose Her that it was practically half in Spanish, I probably should have stopped reading.

Turns out, you don’t need to understand half of this book to understand the themes of love and loss and heartbreak. It’s that good.

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I’m pretty sure I picked this one up after seeing the cover at work and maybe reading about it from Oprah or something. I had never heard of Diaz before this, but apparently his other books (Drown and The Brief Life of Oscar Wao) are super good. He did win a Pulitzer after all. Honestly, I know next to nothing about the Dominican Republic and the Dominican culture Diaz writes about. Sometimes the sheer amount of things I don’t know about in this world makes me sad (just like the feeling that there are so many books out there I will never get to read). But I do know good writing, and this book is superb. It is real and poignant and I wouldn’t change anything about it – even the Spanish is perfect.

The more I think about this book, the more I am struck by its honesty. Yunior, the main character, looks back on one of his failed relationships in each chapter (or short story…it’s sort of a collection of related shorties) and pretty painfully self-examines what went wrong. A lot of reviewers found the book hard to read, but I didn’t get that. There is enough humor to keep it from drowning in sentimentality and I will agree with a review I read, Yunior might be the dopest narrator ever. He’s just cool. Until he cheats on pretty much everyone. And you know, except for the end when he kinda throws himself a pity party for one for an entire chapter. Seriously, how many ways can a guy try to self-destruct? But this guy really had it coming. He dooms all his relationships! You kinda just want to reach into the book and strangle him…until you read about his absent and philandering father and how his cancer-stricken brother treated women. To me, these secondary story relationships were more powerful than the failed romantic ones. It truly is a love/hate/pity relationship the reader has with Yunior.

This is How You Lose Her is a short read (since it’s essentially a collection of short stories) and truly enjoyable. I definitely recommend this one, even if you haven’t read Diaz’s other work and even if you don’t speak Spanish. Sometimes the words themselves don’t actually matter – love and regret affect us all.

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