I Am Too Old For This Sh*t!

My older sister’s birthday fell on a Saturday this year. We both have kids and rarely stay out anywhere near ten o’clock at night but decided to give it a try for her birthday. Overall, we had a good time but to tell you the truth, I learned that night that I am too old for that shit.

Not my moves at the club just Tina from Bob’s Burgers being fly as usual.

The Evidence:

1. The thought of putting on heels made my feet swell up in a preemptive strike.

2. We were carded at the door to a club *awww, just like back in the day* by a bouncer born when I was in high school *womp-womp*.

3. I did not “get” the super slow flow over hyper-speed beats and wanted the DJ (who probably should’ve been texting his parents to let them know he was OK) to play the song being sampled in the song instead of the song.

4. I was asked to dance by someone who looked young enough to be my child…twice. Keep in mind I was wearing the least-sexy-in-the-world, a pink tunic dress that I had worn to brunch earlier that day—yeah, not exactly a day to night look—and I wear a wedding band and do not color my grey hair AND he rested his little hands on my waist when he did it. I choked the vomit back down so as not to make a scene.

My overall look/vibe at the club but rest assured I did not break out the cabbage patch.

5. We got home at 3 AM and were not disappointed nor impressed with the how long we did/didn’t party. My hubby asked if we had fun and I did answer him but it is very possible that I fell asleep while talking.

6. The next morning my entire body felt like it had been coated in lead by evil little gnomes in the night. Those same gnomes put sweaters on my eyeballs, the bastards, but I still had to get up and make breakfast for the kids because it was Sunday and “Are the pancakes ready, mommy?” yelled in the most chipper voices you’ve ever heard. Dammit!!!

7. From the hubby, with a grin on his face, as I sat sipping my tea to recover from making pancakes, “It’s hard being a MILF, huh?” I couldn’t even muster up the strength to smoosh his face with the palm of my hand.

I am officially too old for this shit!

The 7 Rules of Life According to Korean Dramas*

*More specifically South Korean dramas. If there are North Korean dramas, they aren’t on “The Hulu” or as people under thirty call it, Hulu.

If you have read Earl Grey—Black you know that I love escaping from reality into a Korean drama. I leave all critical thinking behind and dive wholeheartedly into the fluff. As with any melodrama, Korean dramas tend to give viewers an exaggerated and warped sense of life and the cultural mores of their country of origin, in this case, modern day Korea and the Goryeo (918-1392) and Joseon (1392-1895) Dynasties (through period dramas). Having binge-watched more melodramas than is healthy and just for sh*ts and giggles really, I’ve compiled my findings into this completely useless list. Enjoy.

1. Everyone has a fate. There are NO coincidences. 
Happen to sit next to a boy on the monorail on your way to school and find the scent of his blood so sweet that, in the haze of your teenaged vampire bloodlust, you end up kissing his neck horrifying both him and onlookers? Fate. Turns out you saved dude’s life in a past life and he owes you one.

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Orange Marmalade, KBS2TV

2. There is always a love triangle or square—ALWAYS. Because, as the aforementioned fate would have it, A and B will ultimately end up together even if they hate each other in the beginning but before they can live happily ever after, C and D (C being the childhood friend that has always had a crush on A, and D, the secret benefactor of B who was just getting up the courage to declare feelings for B when A showed up, for example) will plot and scheme to keep them apart. See number 3 for another possible wrench in the relationship.

3. Mother-in-laws/Adoptive Parents are either evil or saintly martyrs. They either self-destructively try to do what is best for their child or will sacrifice said child to satisfy their own greed. Them’s the breaks.

4. No one will stab you in the back quicker than your alleged bestie. Because in Goryeo and the Joseon Dynasty stakes is high and it’s either kill or be tortured and/or then exiled and possibly killed later.

5. Deep feelings can only be disclosed when one is drunk. All deep in your feels and not sure how to express them? Head to the nearest street food restaurant tent and load up on some soju (kinda like vodka). Chances are a love interest or frenemy will happen upon you and you can then disclose to them your heart’s deepest desires and fears. Easy peasy. (This also works well in conjunction with number 7, further convoluting the smallest of misunderstandings.)

6. Sleeping on someone’s shoulder and giving or receiving a piggyback ride are the height of intimacy.
Kissing, especially in public, is so pedestrian but allowing your crush to nod off on your shoulder or being piggybacked home because you’re too drunk (see number 5) to walk or better yet because you are injured or ill from wandering around in the rain in the dead of winter because you are so distraught over being in a crazy love quadrangle and you also don’t know/can’t remember the details of that fateful (see number 1) thing that happened to you, your parent, sibling, cousin’s poodle or whatever all those years ago, that’s just romance at its finest.

7. Misunderstandings must never be resolved quickly. 
One must only be forthright at the last, most critical, moment, weeks or even years after the fact—the longer it takes, the better. There’s really no rush to know the highly pertinent bit of information that would have prevented this entire mess in the first place. I’m pretty sure the teddy bear re-enactors** are unionized and it’s in their contract that they have the most melodramatic scenes possible to reenact or it could be the fact that you can’t have melodrama without misunderstandings and secrets but, I like the unionized teddy bears theory better.

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Playful Kiss

**Bonus: If you are lucky, you will watch a Korean drama that features teddy bear reenactments of pivotal moments in the show at the end of each episode. You read that correctly. Featured mostly in teen dramas, posable teddy bears are dressed up as the characters on miniature sets, diorama style, as the ads and credits role because Korea.

On Finding A Muffin

Once I receive emails from you lovely people, Kettle Talk will look a little something like this:

 

Dear Kettle Talk,

I would like nothing better than to tell you my how we met story but lately, my love life has been one disappointment  after another. Do you have any tips or advice?

Thanks,

Disappointed

 

Dear Disappointed,

I am sorry you’ve been experiencing disappointment in your love life. Finding the right person to be in a relationship with can be challenging, to say the least. Without knowing the details of your disappointment, I can only give you general advice. I hope you find it useful because I would like nothing better than to read your how we met story!

Before I met my husband, whom I lovingly nicknamed Muffin, I took my time at the metaphorical dating buffet table. I sampled a variety of dishes before deciding I wanted to settle on only one. I have long forgotten where I heard about it but some self-help guru or another suggested that making a list of the things one wants in a life partner was helpful in finding one. I decided to give it a try and made a detailed list of what I was looking for in a relationship and it was very helpful. I wrote down things like, he must love a variety of genres of music (my Muffin plays the guitar and was a DJ), be intelligent, able to relate to all kinds of people and have nice feet. The have nice feet thing wasn’t a deal breaker but I wanted to be as specific as possible because I do believe that you get what you ask for. As luck would have it, my Muffin has great feet.

The process of making a list forced me to focus on what was really important to me and what I wanted in a relationship. I also found that the process made me more mindful and open to relationship possibilities.

Why?

Before you get to list making, a good question to ask yourself is, why? Why do you want to be in a committed relationship? It may seem like an absurd question but it will help you hone in on what you desire and what you expect in a relationship and sometimes what you desire and what you expect are diametrically opposed to each other. If they are, are you certain that being in a committed relationship is what you really want?

Who Are You?

Once you have your whys sorted out, to cover all your bases, you may want to consider making two lists—one of who you are and one of what you want. For the first list, Who Are You?, make a list of your characteristics and also ask your most trusted friends and family for their input. Have friends brainstorm words and phrases that spring to mind when they think of you. Pay special attention to those things that come up repeatedly from different people. If you are going to date online, this will also give you quality fodder for creating a screen name, headline and the body of your profile. It will also give you insight into how others’ perceive you which is always helpful. Be honest with yourself. Do not include things you wish were true about yourself. You want to attract someone that will be interested in who you are right now, not who you wish you were or who you think you will be. If you present “fantasy” or “future” you to the world (online and in reality), it is likely that you and your prospective date will both end up disappointed and possibly resentful of each other if the relationship progresses beyond dating.

What Do You Want?

For the second list, What Do You Want?, make a list of the qualities you are looking for in a date or life partner and why. For those looking for a casual date, their list will be rather short. For example, age 21-31, must love to hula hoop because hula hooping is fun. But you, Disappointed, are looking for a committed relationship so your list should be as specific as possible. You may notice that you have been so specific and restrictive in your expectations of the perfect mate that no one could possibly fit all of your criteria. Re-read your list, edit, dig down to what is really and truly important to you. Include ALL deal breakers and dissect why they are deal breakers. Think back to past relationships. What worked and didn’t work for you in those relationships? Keep all aspects of a relationship in mind. How important is appearance to you? Do you care if he/she pays bills on time? Chews with an open mouth? Only visits the dentist once every ten years? Be specific about the things that are most important to you. If you are a dancer and write on your list that your true love must love to dance too, ask yourself, is it more important to you that she be a good dancer or that she dance with all of her heart?

After digging through your wants, desires, expectations, examining and clarifying them, hopefully you come away with a clear of what you want and giving you the confidence to quickly shift through want you don’t want and recognize your muffin when you find her/him.

Now get back out there, Disappointed. Pay attention, do not ignore your list of deal breakers and enjoy the journey!

In need of relationship advice? Click here.

Harpo, Who Dis Woman?

This woman is not Sofia but, I like to think that in an alternate universe, we are bosom friends — my calm demeanor balancing out her fiery one, her fists saving me from the bad habit my mouth has of writing checks my a** can’t cash. In the reality of this universe, I am Lydia of Brooklyn and merely a fan of The Color Purple and Anne of Green Gables and this is my blog, The Kettle Is On.

The inspiration behind The Kettle Is On is my love of two things—a good cup of tea, preferably Earl Grey, and my love of life stories, specifically, how we met stories. How we met stories are my favorite life stories, right up there with birthing stories. No matter how ordinary the tale may be, hearing a couple tell their how we met story always gets me in the feels and I reflexively awww every single time because, a how we met story is the beginning and beginnings fill me with hope and warm fuzzies. I met my husband on an online dating site. I know a couple that met on a movie set. They locked eyes across the make-up trailer and BAM! love at first sight. I know of another couple that met when they got into a car accident with each other, yeah, go ahead, awwww! I know! It’s like the Fates were trying to make them happen by any means necessary. AND I know of at least two couples that were high school sweethearts and are still very much in love and happy after more than twenty years together! Are you not filled with hope and warm fuzzies?!

These awww inducing relationships and those with our siblings, in-laws, co-workers and favorite baristas, are all fascinating and what make life interesting but once you pass the blissful how we met phase, relationships can become very tricky; fraught with misunderstandings and less than amiable human behavior. It is when things get tricky that you feel the need to put the kettle on for a cup of tea, talk it out and perhaps get some good advice. Enter, me, Lydia, tea enthusiast and lover of stories of human entanglement. I’m not Oprah, I don’t know anything for sure, but I’ll share my experiences with you and if you want my advice, I will gladly share that with you as well.

My How We Met Story
The roots of my how we met story can be traced back to a dear friend from college that I will call Snipes. One of my favorite forms of procrastination back in the day was visiting chat rooms. Snipes did not get the point of chat rooms but she encouraged me to say outrageous things in them to see how people would react and teased that I would meet my husband on the Internet. In the years after graduation, Snipes did her best to make sure that this came true by insisting that I create online dating profiles. It was through one of these sites that I received an email from my future husband on New Year’s Eve 2001. At the time, he was visiting his family in Iceland for Christmas and New Year and I had just come back to NYC from visiting my family in Texas. We emailed back and forth for a couple of weeks and in that short span of time I began to feel giddy at the sight of his screen name in my inbox. I couldn’t tell you what we talked about with any great detail. It was the usual getting to know you chit chat mixed with what I did today exchanges. I have them saved somewhere in a format that, most likely, only an ancient operating system can decipher.

I was nervous and excited when we decided to meet for dinner on a very cold January day. I know, you’re thinking first meeting with a guy you met online should NOT be dinner and I would agree. I have no excuse to offer other than it felt right, like this was exactly what I was supposed to be doing. I decided on the place, the now sadly closed, Chat ‘N Chew on E 16th Street. We met on the corner of E 16th Street in Union Square in front of Coffee Shop. He was tall and strikingly handsome. I was (and still am) small and geeky but to hear him tell it I was beautiful (awww! This is what you look for in a muffin folks!). My only memories of our dinner are that we discovered that we are both vegetarians and that he, with his naturally stoic face (also known as resting viking face), gives nothing of his inner thoughts away. I liked his email persona and found that I also liked him in person but, I couldn’t tell if he liked me or not. I prepared myself for his polite good-bye after dinner after which he would never call or email again. To my surprise, he didn’t say good-bye but suggested we go somewhere else afterward for coffee, for him, and tea for me. I’m pretty sure I rambled quite a bit between tea sips and I remember seeing what seemed like hundreds of cabs streaming down (3rd?) avenue outside, all with ads for the Broadway show Urine Town in their light boxes. Afterward we walked downtown and talked—again, about what I have no idea—but I do remember that it was bitterly cold and my shoelaces kept coming untied. He joked that maybe I didn’t actually know how to tie my shoes. We stopped walking at the West 4th Street subway station. He invited me to a joint birthday party he and one of his roommates were throwing at his place in Williamsburg. At the time, I was an uptown Manhattan girl and saw Brooklyn as a wilderness to be visited only rarely and where streets had names, not numbers, and thus was barely navigable. It is a testimony to the power of love that I said yes without hesitation.

Earl Grey—Black
I am not a morning person. When my alarm goes off in the morning, the tinkling sounds of crystal emanating from my phone do not inspire me to leap out of bed ready to tackle the day but instead make me snuggle deeper into bed. I convince myself that I don’t really need to take a shower and so can spend another fifteen, even thirty minutes in bed. One of the few things that make getting out of my warm and cozy bed worthwhile is the prospect of drinking a hot cup of Earl Grey tea—no milk, no sugar—black. I feel downright giddy as I fill our orange kettle with water, push the red button on the handle and hear the hiss of the rapidly heating water. When that boiling hot water hits those tea leaves releasing the steamy, bergamotty (it’s a word to me!) aroma—bliss! I’m sighing right now just thinking about it!

I place the tea on the kitchen table, I sit, I cup my hands around the warm mug and despite the madness of the world outside, in that moment, absolutely nothing is wrong. Tea is my haven within a haven, my primary haven being my apartment. [Sidebar: One of my other havens is Korean dramas, which I highly recommend if you are ever in need of escapist, melodramatic, occasionally 1950s rom-com style fabulousness.] Most of life’s problems can be put into sharp focus and calmly dissected over a cup of tea.

We humans can be both phenomenally fantastic and colossal assholes and when we interact, especially within families and as couples, it can be intense and overwhelming. To be clear, I’m not expert on anything but I’m fairly rational and an avid, some would say keen, observer of human behavior. Whatever your relationship issue or problem, tell me all about it. The kettle is on.

I’ll pour a cup of Earl Grey and get back to you with my two cents but consider yourself warned, I give my advice the way I take my tea, without sugar or cream.