Nadia Tries Cooking Classes

cooking class

I’m getting ready for App-less April by trying to do new things in real life that might lead to an in-person romantic connection. Online dating increasingly discourages me. It can work and should be part of every single’s dating armamentarium (emphasis on the men). But for me it involves a high investment of time, money, and energy with a very low rate of return.

Dating experts say you can meet people anywhere – the grocery store, the gym, the line at the bank, walking your dog, etc. So far my daily routine has not brought me a love interest. So I’m branching out…and my first endeavor: cooking classes.

To whet your appetite for this post, enjoy some spring green risotto. I made this one Thanksgiving – substituting veggie stock for the chicken stock. Serve with grilled shrimp for a lovely decadent meal.

My cooking class theory: There are a lot of single men who might be interested in learning to cook or improving their skills. Perhaps, before their divorces, their wives did most of the cooking. Now, they are tired of takeout or they want to be able to cook for their children or a date. And, like me, they wonder if a cooking class would be a good way for them to meet a romantic partner.

I like to cook and have a fair amount of skill in this area but can definitely learn more. It’s important to have an interest in whatever extra activity you do to meet men. That way you’re having fun and/or learning something regardless of the meet-cute potential.

I searched for cooking classes and found a convenient venue with a good variety of types of classes and times. My first class was observation only. The time: 5:00 p.m. on a weekday. The subject was pad Thai, a dish I had once tried obsessively to perfect. My at-home experiment involved a variety of recipes using different ingredients and cooking methods. I ended up with tasty dinners but none of them tasted as if they had been made in a Thai restaurant. A pad Thai class could be the answer to both my recipe and man obsession.

Only one other person signed up for the class and….it was an age and height appropriate divorced man. His motivation for taking the class was cooking for his vegetarian college age daughter. Theory proved! Sadly, he was not my type. The only sparks were on the stove.

And the recipe was not my type either — too salty, too spicy, and did not taste like a Thai restaurant entrée. However, I did pick up some useful cooking tips including one for tofu: After pressing tofu to reduce the water content, dust it in cornstarch—not flour — before frying for a crispy, not greasy end result. Okay — maybe you knew that already but it was news to me and I was happy to learn about it.

The second class was hands on and involved three seafood dishes, including one with mussels. I love mussels but have never cooked them. Is there a word for fear of cooking bivalves? I had cooked scallops before and shrimp (not bivalves but on the cooking class menu). But mussels (and clams) always intimidated me. Perhaps it was the fear of not recognizing a bad mussel?

There were 12 of us in the Saturday afternoon seafood class but only one man…in his early 80s and with his wife. I was not overly disappointed because, hey, I was about to cook three fabulous dishes. All of these recipes were delicious and I’d share them but they’re not online. Added bonus: I lost my bivalve fear as I learned about ripping the beard off of mussels and rejecting bad mussels. If the shell of a raw mussel is open and won’t close if you hold it shut for 30 seconds it is a bad one OR if the shell of a cooked mussel won’t open after it’s cooked, it’s bad.

mussels

It wasn’t my day for romantic serendipity but there was a happy coincidence for two of my class mates. These women had gone to college together in another state, hadn’t seen each other in 20 years, and found themselves placed side by side in the same cooking class.

Until next week, happy cooking and dating or not dating.

XXXOOO

Nadia

 

 

 

 

 

Diary: A Week without Dating Apps

blog pix week without dating apps

Monday morning:

I deleted all of my dating apps and hid my profile on the dating sites I belong to. Feeling both free in a good way and strangely untethered in a bad way. To motivate myself, I made a schedule of activities for the week. The hope is that I will get out of the house more and possibly meet men in real life. Oh foolish heart.

While working on this blog’s social media pages, I experience what can only be described as online dating withdrawal.

I have various random thoughts and questions such as, “If there were no apps, would I ever have any dates?”

Wednesday morning:

I woke up from a strange dream in which I meet an attractive older man in a friend’s group house. The setting seems to be a mishmash of my early college and current days. I’m unsure about the meaning of the dream but I think it must have something to do with worry about a lack of romantic possibilities.

Yesterday I tweeted an article from Bustle about a young woman who has been app-less for a year. She recounted the things she missed about online and app dating. After two days, I could relate to all of them except the one where she longed for the ability to immediately ask out and meet a guy she matched with on a dating app.

Although some of my online encounters rapidly progressed from messaging to an in- person meeting, the man initiated them. Sometimes I gently pushed a guy toward a meeting, but I haven’t opened with, Hey you want to meet for a drink? Perhaps I should. Just to see what happens. My guess is that given her younger age, the writer of this piece has done better than I would if I went offline for a year.  She likely has a bigger “single” social circle and more professional connections compared to a single, retired woman of a certain age. But I’m just speculating.

With no apps or sites to check, no emails to write or respond to, I have more time for other things. I’m reading more and per usual I tend to read fiction about relationships and romance (not romance novels per se – though I enjoy them too). I discovered Laurie Colwin, a delightful writer who sadly died much too young. I devoured Happy All the Time and now I’m thoroughly enjoying Goodbye without Leaving. Of course, reading doesn’t get me out in the world…so perhaps I’ll finish the book at a café or coffee shop.

I realize that a week without online dating is not enough to fully plan activities where I might meet someone organically. I signed up for an archery Meet-up that’s getting together Saturday but it looks like the members are in their 20s and 30s. It won’t lead to any romantic possibilities but that’s okay.

Wednesday evening:

I felt better this afternoon…but evening brings on feelings of loneliness. Where are the phone pings that someone winked at me or sent me a message?

Thursday morning:

Another weird dream night – nothing about men per se and now I can’t even remember the story…but obviously an app-less week is affecting my subconscious.

I receive an email from Hinge that someone likes me and his picture is not bad. I wonder if I should go back on Hinge briefly to check the guy’s profile and possibly respond to him. I ponder whether that would be cheating on my app-less week. Then I notice Hinge sent the email at 2 am. A late or middle of the night “like” is often a signal that the man lives in another time zone, possibly in another country. So I decide to “hold” for the moment and not break this online dating fast.

I receive another like from someone on OurTime. Notifications from this dating site don’t include photos of those who like or message you so I’m not tempted to go online. Holding fast to my fast.

I hope to make it to an art museum tour this afternoon. I’ve heard this can be a good way to meet people. At the least, I will increase my knowledge about art and get out of the house.

Friday morning:

I missed the tour so I ended up wandering around Georgetown and the waterfront. It was a beautiful, sunny day and it was good for my soul. I didn’t meet anyone but enjoyed the afternoon.

I confess that late last night, I semi-cheated (briefly) on my dating fast with a quick Tinder check related to a previous match with an attractive man. Although he lives 160 miles away, this guy visits his adult son who lives not too far from me.

The man said he would reach out next time he comes into town. Since it’s a holiday week, I thought I should reinstall Tinder just to see whether he had contacted me through the app. You guessed it (possibly): There was no message because he had unmatched me. After a couple of accidental super-likes, I delete the app again.

Saturday morning:

After seeing that the archery Meet-up is now filled with 7-to-10 year olds on spring break, I decide to cancel and go another time.

I’m looking forward to the end of this fast. I plan to go back online tomorrow rather than Monday as originally planned…still it’s a full 6 days without online dating.

You may be wondering about my rationale for breaking the fast one day short of a week. Sundays are typically the best days for connecting on the dating sites and holiday weekends also have more activity. Holidays bring out the urge to connect. A lot of people feel nostalgia for past celebrations and yearn to once again be part of a family or relationship “unit.”

Perhaps the lesson from my app-less week is that it’s okay to get back on the sites and apps since despite their problems, they give me hope. The key is to supplement the online world with real life activities and to check the apps less frequently.

Two years ago (I cringe as I think of how long I’ve been doing this), I tried to limit my online dating check-in frequency without much long-term success. I’m convinced that this April’s dating app “fast” is a better transition to healthier online dating behavior – similar to the way a food fast retrains your appetite so you are more satisfied with fewer calories.

At the same time, I plan on binging tomorrow.

Until next week, happy dating or not dating.

XXXOOO

Nadia

 

 

App-less April: Nadia Style

blog pix app-less April

 

Did you know this is App-less April?

For the second April in a row, Bustle, an online women’s magazine, is challenging readers and staff to delete their dating apps and meet people in real life.

It’s no surprise that online dating frustrates daters of all ages. Whether you’re using apps or websites, most singletons would prefer to meet people in real life.

If you’ve been reading this blog, you know about my challenges – from finding men I like enough to date to revoking, ghosting, catfishing, breadcrumbing and just plain crummy behavior.

So, I’ve decided to embark on my own version of App-less April. Won’t you join me in a send-off meal of Tori Avey’s spice-broiled salmon with green apple salad?

This coming Monday morning, I will delete all of my apps and hide my dating profiles for a week (why lose out on the heavy Sunday activity?) After seven days, I will reassess this plan and decide whether I should continue.

Why this short trial period and not an extended detox? Despite its many problems, online dating gives me hope. Every couple of days there’s a new romantic possibility or two. The hope that one of these prospects will be “the one” keeps me going.

There are lots of resources with suggestions on how and where to meet men in real life. The big question is: Will I be able to do more than I am already doing (which apparently is not enough)?

When you rely on apps and dating sites, it’s easy to not push yourself to go out solo, or walk up to that cute stranger. Will knowing that I have no back-up plan waiting for me on my computer or phone motivate me to do more and take more risks? Tune in to future posts for the answer.

For inspiration, I’m ruminating over a recent online dating experience. Encounters like this are not unusual (although I find this one super weird) – and that’s the problem.

Mr. M., an interesting and quirky guy from Match, sends me a good first message. He clearly read my profile and his email points out what we have in common.

His message ends with:

“I am geographically close by to meet up for coffee some time. It would be a pleasure to meet you.”

I write back with an equally profile-specific email and comment that I’d like to meet for coffee (or wine) too and that I’m free this coming Tuesday.

I don’t hear back for a week but see that Mr. M. is online sporadically. I forget about him and conclude that Mr. M. is another non-responder who has lost interest.

Eight days later, he writes again:

“Sorry about missing the chance to meet with you this past Tuesday evening. No events. Just my own stupidity.

I would like to have the chance for us to meet. I am not a wine drinker. Coffee or hot tea is good by me. So. if you know of a place that serves both, we can both be pleased. 

I am free this Tuesday; but have a speech to hear on Monday, and a film on Wednesday.

I hope to hear back from you.” 

Since I’m a nice person, I decide to give Mr. M. another chance.  I write back noting that I am also free on Tuesday and suggest a place we could meet.

Once again, Mr. M. fails to respond to me. This time he is not online. One week goes, by, two weeks, and then three weeks. Still no response; and he is not online. I fear he is dead or hospitalized. With the few clues I have, I search for him online but I don’t know his last name or phone number (I planned to ask for the latter before meeting).

Then, out of the blue, I see that he viewed me. I’m curious as hell and want to know what happened. At the same time, I realize that the only way I would consider meeting him would be if he had an incredible excuse to end all excuses.

I write Mr. M.:

Hi, At this juncture, I’m curious about what happened to you since you never responded to me. Just trying to make sense of this crazy online dating world and an abundance of mixed messages.

As the more jaded of you have already guessed, he didn’t respond. He’s online frequently now.

What are your suspicions about Mr. M.? Pick one:

  1. Married?
  2. Girlfriend?
  3. Insane?
  4. Typical rude dater?
  5. All of the above?

None of these answers would be wrong. And that’s why I’m going App-less for 7 days.

Until next week, happy dating or not dating.

XXXOOO

Nadia