Variety is the Spice

Two Girls' Quest to Taste the World

The Results Are In

by Penelope Smallbone

I have spent the last two years of my life conducting very important research. The conclusion to this research came to me today, when I realized that I’m just not the kind of girl who can handle meaningless hook-ups. Some girls (and many men) seem to have no trouble fooling around with someone late at night, into the wee hours of the morning, and then forgetting that they ever existed. No strings, no attachment, no worrying or stress about calling afterwards. I, on the other hand, have all of these symptoms after a seemingly “meaningless” romp. I simply cannot share an intimate physical experience with someone and not have any emotional backlash about what it all means.

I saw miniSexyD this weekend. Despite the fact that we barely flirted the whole night, he managed to hug and kiss me hello and then hug and kiss me goodnight. I started the week yesterday feeling completely confused. Does he like me? Was he just nervous? Does he just want to be polite and let me down gently? What does it all mean??? Today I caved. I simply cannot wait for the answer to unfold, so I decided to send him a friendly, yet prodding, email:

Hey! It was great seeing you on Saturday again. Glad you could get away from the suburbs for the night.
Are you up for getting together sometime this week?

Six and a half hours later I got a response:

Hi Hi.
What an awful day. I’ve been away from my desk all freakin day. I seem to be really busy all week.
Tomorrow I have a BBQ, Thursday I have dinner with a friend who is going to Singapore to work, Friday seeing Foreigner (yes them) with dad, and Saturday the opera (and a golf tourney which I will probably miss because of dodge ball!)
See ya on Sat though.

Saturday is our final dodgeball game together. I guess I’ll just see him then and then forget anything ever happened. It’s probably for the best

Honestly, a part of me could believe that he is really just busy this week. But the inner cynic/logical/realistic person in me says that he’s probably just not that in to me. And why can’t he just say that if that’s the case? Why do we insist on being so superficial to one another? Why can’t we all just tell it how it is?


Reflection, Induced by John Mayer

by Penelope Smallbone

I had a moment today. I was working away on some meaningless project and listening to my John Mayer playlist. The song was “Split Screen Silence,” and all of a sudden I felt saturated with an overwhelming sense of nostalgia. I remembered in seventh grade when we sat around dreaming of the boys we wanted to date. We were so young and so naive and had no idea how to talk to boys or how to flirt, and we had no idea what we’d be doing with them once we reached maturity. But every young girl has this pristine idea of her future. I always thought I’d meet someone, fall in love the first time and then that’s it. Simple, predictable and complete. Needless to say, I am pleased that’s not how life has happened for me. I’ve so much more enjoyed the ups and downs of relationships, despite the fact that they can hurt so much sometimes.

I was completely lost in my head during my moment. It’s one of the few times recently where I completely left my physical surroundings in favor of a more euphoric cerebral experience. It was such an intense feeling… something that’s usually lacking from my days. There are so many things in my life that don’t require much thought, and as a result I miss a lot of that super-intense emotion that really makes life worth living. And so in relationships I have become a little numbed, too.

It has been approximately 1 year and 7 months since I felt true, deep emotion for another person. I was laying in bed with the Kickboxer on a Sunday afternoon. It was one of those hot, October afternoons where you just want to lay and enjoy the last bit of heat before the cold takes over everything. He was around me, hugging me, and I kept begging him to hug tighter. At that moment it felt like he couldn’t ever be close enough. It was such an intense feeling that I can’t even begin to describe: extreme joy, excitement, love and physical sense of belonging all happening at once.

Since then there have just been a lot of mediocre boys. No one as good as the Kickboxer. No one who makes me as happy. No one who touches me the same way. No one that I’ve had such a passionate desire to just be with. Just a lot of average guys that I’m not that in to, but I continue to hang out with hoping to find what I had with the Kickboxer, and because there’s nothing better coming along.

I can fake anything. And in the end, I feel numb.

What Would You Do?

by Penelope Smallbone

This weekend while my roommate was away I found out that she has been charging me 50% more rent than what she pays. Today I confronted her and she explained that her motive for charging more for the room was that she couldn’t afford to stay in the apartment otherwise, and that she wanted to keep her lifestyle so she made the decision to charge more for the room. Way more. Like a 575/925 split for the exact same size room. This is something she failed to tell me. Apparently the timing was never right and then she feared that I would be mad so she just decided not to tell me.

Since I confronted her in a very mature, professional way she offered to take on $75 more of the monthly rent, and also the pending $50 increase in July. Therefore, my rent will actually go down to $850/month. I know it’s expensive to live in NYC, and I probably won’t find anything cheaper in a good/better location. I really do not want to leave this apartment, but on principle I’m not sure if I want to continue living with and being friends with a person who would charge such an outrageous difference in price.

So I pose the question to all you wonderful readers: What would you do? Would you stay, knowing that what you’re paying is completely unfair and are basically financing the roommate’s extravagances? Or would you say “the Hell with you, bitch,” pack up, and move, even though you may not have anything better to look forward to, and in fact might end up in a worse place?

On another note, I stumbled upon $123 on the ground yesterday. Something must be right in the universe…


by Penelope Smallbone

Wow. Night and Day…! You might want to sit down for this post (as if you are usually standing up when reading blogs) because it’s kind of loaded.

As mentioned in my previous post, there are actually 3 very sexy males on my team(s) that I am totally in to. We had our game yesterday and I continued to casually flirt with Mr. Mexico City. I don’t want to seem pushy, so I let him make all the advances this time. He was very chatty and I feel like we talked a lot more than usual (this is SO high school). Anyway, he couldn’t stay for happy hour, but the rest of the team went out for margaritas. Guys 2 and 3 were there. Let’s call them Mr. Soccer and miniSexyD (more on this later). Everyone was making their evening plans and a lot of the guys were planning to go out together that night. Everybody was invited and we all agreed to meet up later that night.

Cut to 12am… I have been flirting with Mr. Soccer since last fall when we met. He is the former roommate of my former coworker so I have hung out with him more than I have with any of the other soccer guys. Mr. Soccer is just a really good guy all around. Really nice, upstanding individual, but I think he’s a little shy. I tend to flirt with him as the fall back plan, like if no one else is around. It’s not very nice of me to do so, but it happens.

Also at the bar was miniSexyD, looking extremely sexy. We all hung out and drank for awhile (Happy tres de mayo) and then walked over to a karaoke bar. We got a room in the basement for our group of about 10. It was a blast! I ended up sitting next to miniSexyD because we both have incredible karaoke skills and sang a few duets. Pretty soon, every song turned into a duet with the two of us sharing a microphone… And pretty soon, Mr. Soccer pointed out that it was 5am. Holy crap! Time flew.

Now here’s the part that’s a little fuzzy. We were all getting ready to leave and miniSexyD made some comment about spending money. And I suggested that we could save money on cab fare by sharing a cab (which is absurd because he lives about 40 blocks the complete other direction)… and I suggested that we could share that cab to my house. He agreed that it would be a great idea to do so. And so we did.

We did a lot of sleeping, since it was already 5:30am when we got home, and not a whole lot else. Some kissing, obviously, but that was it. It was very pleasant. This morning we got up, walked the dog, then went for a lovely brunch on the patio at my favorite restaurant. This was the first time that we’ve actually talked alone and it turns out we have a whole lot in common. He is very intriguing to me, but being the logical/cynical person I am, I have absolutely zero expectations of this ever happening again.

Now to the creepy part. I’ve decided to call him miniSexyD after SexyD, a gentleman I was “seeing” last summer. SexyD was the first man that’s ever hurt me, and probably the only relationship (if you can even call it that) I can’t seem to get over. In a nutshell he was a ridiculously sexy, tall, voluntarily bald (hence my obsession), confident man who works in design and leads a very rich lifestyle (meaning he makes money and spends it on high quality goods that I approve of both for their status and style). I was so blinded by everything that I acted like a fumbling idiot around him and my own confidence and sense of self-worth was pushed out the window. I was insecure, nervous and stupid around him. Not good things.

miniSexyD is also voluntarily bald, lives a very rich lifestyle, is very sexy, and has many of the same quirks as SexyD. Like, to a tee… For example, he feels uncomfortable around all white objects. Kind of scary (and weird, I know, that I am attracted to people with strange OCD habits). The only difference here is that I felt like I didn’t act like an idiot this time. I was witty, cute, smart, sharp… all good things! And yet I know that he will never call me. I don’t know if it’s a genuine gut feeling I’m having or if I’m just getting this situation mixed up with the sexyD saga. I am curious to see how it all unfolds (if at all), but it also prompts the age-old debate about how to get a guy to call. I haven’t quite mastered the concept of being so ridiculously charming and hard-to-get that he MUST call me and see me again. Unfortunately I have no idea how to do it, either. Any advice is appreciated.

Notes On The Benefit of Having Married Friends

by Penelope Smallbone

I had a very disappointing night. I’m not exactly sure what’s wrong with me, but I seem to be crushing on 3 of the 6 eligible men on my soccer/dodgeball teams. We all went out last night and I spent a large part of my night chatting up Mr. Mexico City, the sweet, Latino, sexy, [voluntarily] bald banker who showed up in a really well-tailored suit* last night, and who I’ve actually been in love with since he shook my hand Hello last August. Sighh… After about 30 minutes of conversation, I got the message that he does not reciprocate my feelings. I’m not used to having men not be interested in me, and it’s like I just can’t win with him. It’s kind of disorienting. Granted, I’m not exactly myself around him. I get nervous and timid and don’t always know the right words to say. And on top of my awkwardness, he’s pretty clearly uninterested. Not in an impolite way, though. He seems to either be oblivious to my advances or just not interested in dating at all right now. Either way, I’m having a tough time cracking the guy code on this one.

I was telling all of this to my soon-to-be-married friend this morning. I expressed my frustration at not being able to win him over, and also my frustration with dating in general right now. I don’t really want to be in a relationship, but I don’t necessarily want to be alone either. Overall I don’t know what I want (which is a whole other set of problems), and I would at least like to have a crush to keep things interesting. Her response was, “I know. Just be patient and don’t push it. Things will happen on their own. You don’t have to force it.” Plain, straightforward, no-frills advice. Beautiful.

In the past I have received similar advice from my other married friend: clear-cut, informed and usually 100% correct. So even though I complain A LOT about all my friends getting married (I am attending 5 weddings this year!) I guess there is some benefit. With their superb experience now they can counsel me on my love life. That’s the trade-off for allowing them to live vicariously through me. A win-win for all!

*Don’t even try to get between me and a man in a sophisticated, well-tailored suit. HOT!

Trying to Be For You What You Want to See

by Penelope Smallbone

“I feel like a quote out of context
Withholding the rest
So I can be free what you want to see
I got the gesture and sound
Got the timing down
It’s uncanny, yeah, you think it was me”
-Ben Folds, Best Imitation of Myself

Since childhood I’ve had trouble making friends at first. I am a harsh, offensive, rough-around-the-edges girl with the emotional hierarchy of a man. (Of course I am an optimist so I prefer to call myself “honest, upfront, genuine, confident and strong”) The females in my life who I consider my best friends have realized that most of the bad parts are tolerable because there also a lot of really great things about me: namely my enthusiasm for… everything, my cheerful personality, openness, honesty, and compassion for those around me. (some even think I’m funny!) However, the first few items on this list continue to creep up on me every time I try to make new friends. I’ve learned to be careful about what I say to new people in my life.

That being said, when I moved to New York I got a little careless. I let my guard down, which I think is okay. I don’t like feeling like I have to walk on tiptoes around people just so that my insensitive comments don’t offend them. In the grand scheme of offending people, I am pretty moderate, but sometimes sensitive people can really be put off by my attitude.

My personality has come back to bite me twice in the last month when a particularly sensitive friend (who I am still getting to know) has called me out twice ex-post-facto about something I said. The first time I thought it was nice they avoided passive-aggressive anger in favor of openly discussing a problem. But the second time really put me off. I rarely talk to this friend outside of our gatherings and the fact that she would call for this specific reason is a little unsettling. This method of problem-solving by making oneself feel better by speaking up about your feelings is relatively fine by me… I’d much rather communicate an issue and reach a resolution than sit alone and worry about it. However, it brings me right back to the same
issue I’ve had since childhood. I know who I am, and I know that I am all of the things mentioned above, good and bad. When I was younger I really struggled with reconciling my behavior with the world around me (as most adolescents do). As a young adult I’ve learned that people will think what they think and you certainly can’t aim to please everyone. But where is the line between being yourself and making sure that you don’t displease the people you care about? Is this another situation where I should shrug off this criticism as just another sensitive person who can’t handle my humor? Or is it time to seriously reexamine how I treat people?

I’m honestly not sure. I do acknowledge my flaws, but also believe that my flaws are what make me great, and without them I wouldn’t be me.

But then it brings me back to the age-old question, “Who am I”? And then I end up in a circuitous philosophical debate between myself and my other self and it leads nowhere and then I get tired. Sigh…

A Blogger’s Paradise

by Penelope Smallbone

Today I had one of the most exciting moments of my life. I met one of the “celebrity bloggers” whose site I read on a daily basis. (Yet another advantage of living in NYC: the people who are doing cool stuff actually live here so they are around for the meeting) Granted, this is a blogger whose blog relates solely to life in NYC… but it was exciting nonetheless!

My friend A and I showed up a little early for his hosted event at a bar. We had to catch up on each others’ days so we sat and chatted for awhile before things got going. I totally had my eye on the blogger the whole time, but he was very into getting his questions ready for the trivia event. Then the fabulous Moneypenny showed up with a few more friends, and the trivia night got under way. Our team did extremely well, especially on the “art” category which involved identifying whole logos from one small piece.

Of course I thought the blogger was adorable. After exclaiming this, Moneypenny rolled her eyes at me and said, “Of course you do… I knew it!” However, she is not an avid reader of this blog and surely did not yet understand that I’ve been in love with this guy’s sense of humor since before I even moved to New York. (his was a blog I found when I was curious and reading up about how life would be in my new city) Meeting him and seeing his physical persona was just the next step in my ridiculous crush. I felt almost like a stalker!

At the end of the night I wish I could say that I had actually met my blogger. That I had introduced myself, maybe carried on a conversation, or identified myself as a regular reader. Alas, I am a pussy. I did none of the above, but only made casual, humorous statements about the questions and made minimal eye contact when possible. Like I said… pussy.

(Speaking of which, I never actually broke up with Mr. Flowers. I kind of just let things fizzle and he stopped calling. I am going to send him the sweater he left at my house. I figure that’s the polite thing to do and also the least invasive/hurtful. I am considering attaching a note to the package that reads, “Sorry I’m an asshole,” but I’ll probably just send the sweater.)

Dodge, Dip, Duck, Dive and Dodge.

by Penelope Smallbone

I am captain of a dodgeball team. I’m a life long “joiner” so I’ve always been involved with way too many things at once. This is the first time in awhile that I’ve actually been in charge of things. Since I love to be the center of attention, I also love to run the show. However, I find I have a tough time balancing the Fun Me with the Responsible Me. The post-game happy helps though!

I don’t have a big point to this article. Just that I am proud of my little team! We almost didn’t make it due to not enough people signing up. But a couple of ridiculously enthusiastic emails later, we had a few satellite friends sign up for the team. Now I get to hang out with some of the coolest and most spirited people every week. Oh, and we even win some games, too!

As an adult, it’s tough to find that sense of camaraderie that one may have had in high school or college. Especially in NYC, people are always looking to find something to belong to. I’m proud to have organized a team that loves playing together so much, and that I am the one who brought many of these people together. Also of note… we have ten men and four women on the team. I would say about 80% of the guys are just great. Really nice, caring guys with hard, athletic bodies. Hahahaha! Sometimes it’s great to be just friends with those people and leave it at that. 🙂

Hello, Sadness.

by Penelope Smallbone


I have serious issues with abandonment. I was never left as a child, but as an early and young adult I seem to have a lot of people leaving me. At first it was in high school. All my friends went away for college and I stayed in town. Then my college friends went away after college and I stayed in town. Then at my first real job my project manager left for LA after only my first 6 weeks on the job. I was crushed. He was a big reason why I loved my job, and he was not even close to being satisfactorily replaced. Ten months later when I moved to NYC it was finally my turn to leave. I was finally the one who got to go somewhere! No longer would I be the one stuck behind, feeling jealous and sad about everyone else’s fortunate departures.

Now in New York, I love my job. I love many of the people I work with, and many of the projects are meaningful and fulfilling for me (a rarity in the design world). In January we had a disruption in management that has caused a wave of change across the company. After one of the three partners left, about 10 others have left or been asked to leave. Until now none of them directly affected me. In a company of 30 people, most of the ones who left were not involved with the design portion of our business. On Monday my project manager announced his resignation. He is one of the most respected and senior members of the company, and many have taken his departure as a great loss to our company and its well-being. I am confident that the others who will fill in his gap will not do as wonderful of a job. Aside from the fact that we get along great, we work together very well and I have never ever been let down by his project managing prowess.

On to the sadness. Since his announcement, I’ve had the most terrible sensation of deep sadness. I have always heard that “the company will probably get along without you.” In most cases this is true. There are very few people that are so unique that they make or a break a company’s success. But at this point, with all of the other resignations, lay offs, fires, and lack of hires, I am starting to grow very concerned about the fate of my company. Not to mention the grave conflict in my head. I don’t want to leave my job. I like my job. I just don’t know how much I’m going to like it if this rolling ball of change doesn’t start slowing. I get the feeling that it’s not heading for a good place, and I don’t think I want to be wrapped up in the tangle when the impact hits.

Being an adult sucks. I’m totally over it.

Untitled (warped view)

by Penelope Smallbone

In direct contrast to Moneypenny’s elegantly written post, I started thinking about all this dating nonsense. Pardon me for the change of tone after that beautiful composition, but I hope, Moneypenny, that you’ll relate to this string of thoughts.

I am twenty-four. I have been in love twice. One of those relationships lasted 5 years. One lasted three months. I know what love feels like, and through the tiny bit of dating experience I’ve had I also know what love does not feel like. For many reasons, I have no desire to get married or settle down until after the age of thirty. My thinking is that when I’m ready and the time is right, the right person will come along and I will know it. Until then there is absolutely no reason to worry about dating or meeting someone. I should just have fun.

So why do I feel the need to date? I was listening to a girl on the subway today talking to her friend about a third friend’s poor relationship decisions. They were dishing about their own romantic adventures and acting as if the dipshit boyfriends in their lives were of utmost importance to their survival. These girls could not have been any older than me… I couldn’t help thinking that everything they were saying was nonsense. I actually thought to myself, “what’s the point? he’s clearly not the right guy for you. move on.” This is really what I believe. So why is it so hard to follow that advice and to remain single?

I am breaking up with Mr. Flowers. I’m not that into him and it’s annoying me that he’s so into me without realizing how I feel. He’s just another filler before I’m ready to find the right one.