Animagus Aurora

From time to time, I have meltdowns based on my fear of becoming a cat lady.

Then I remember that I don’t have any cats.
And I feel better.

But then I am reminded of my rapidly approaching thirtieth birthday, coupled with my perpetual single status, and the panic starts again.

Then I get asked out by three different guys, three days in a row.
And I am comforted that there is hope for me yet.

Until I watch cat videos and realize that, although I may not own any cats, my cat-like mannerisms have already transformed me into a McGonagall-like cat lady. I know, I know. Where I went wrong was watching cat videos in the first place. But what’s done is done, and I am horrified to realize that those cat videos have infiltrated my psyche. I have become Animagus Aurora, the cat-less cat lady.

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When I peruse the online dating profiles of my inevitably terrible matches, this is a remarkable likeness to my reaction:

Online-dating

And when those terrible matches want to take me on a date, sometimes I have to resort to playing dead:

No-date-1

No-date-2And on first dates, when guys try to get too friendly too soon, they may get some of this action:

No-Petting

But I can be all-too-easily won over with chocolate:

Chocolate-Cat

And once a man earns my trust (with said chocolate), I melt into a snuggly cuddle monster. “Pet me!”

Pet-me-loop-1

Pet-me-loop-2

The secret is out. There is no fighting it. My cat lady status is official, even sans cat ownership. In light of these evidentiary videos, I regret to inform you, dear readers, that I have clearly become…

Animagus Aurora, the cat-less cat lady

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Dierks for Christmas

Dierks Bentley - Say You DoForget Flynn and Bryan.

Today I saw the music video for Dierks Bentley’s new single “Say You Do.”

How was I unaware of this gorgeous man in all his raw masculinity until this week?!

Let’s just say… all I want for Christmas is Dierks Bentley.

Authentically Aurora

Dierks-Bentley-Jumping-into-Water

Dierks-Bentley-Backpack

Dierks-Bentley-Motorcycle

Dierks-Bentley-Sunglasses

Dierks-Bentley-Hiking

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Dierks-Bentley-Riding-Off

Misunderstood

Only-Human-Christina-PerriI’m tired of being misunderstood.

That sounds so emo as I type it out, but I am so indescribably dead serious: I am freaking tired of being misunderstood. It’s exhausting to constantly have everyone around me simultaneously psychoanalyze and criticize me for character traits of mine that aren’t even accurate.

My ex-fiance used to say that I was too stoic and emotionless. I tried to explain that I’m not without emotion; actually I have very extreme, intense emotions that I keep below the surface because of their magnitude and intensity. But he wasn’t perceptive enough to see them. Sometimes I would pretend to talk in a robot voice, but instead of thinking it was funny, it would freak him out, and he would yell at me to stop because it was terrifying to him to think that he was with such an “emotionless” woman.

This week at work, I found out that I didn’t get the promotion I was approached about. The reason the hiring manager gave me over the phone was that I come off as “standoffish and holier than thou” (his exact words). He encouraged me to dwell on the meaning of the quote, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” I explained to him that the issue is not that I care too little, but that I care too much. He asked why, then, I am perceived as being so cold.

In the past year, I have had multiple suicidal coworkers call me in the middle of the night to be talked back from the ledge. Countless depressed coworkers have pulled me into a conference room during the work day to confide in me about their ongoing divorces or cheating boyfriends. Multiple lost, disoriented, confused friends have sought my wisdom and advice in hard situations. Complete strangers tell me their entire life story on a weekly basis. This week, it happened to be one of the Cavalry officers at my brother’s wedding. Do those strike you as recurring instances that would happen in the life of someone who is perceived as cold? Fuck no.

Stop freaking labeling me as cold, heartless, standoffish, arrogant… the list goes on. It’s not that I don’t care. It’s not that I have no emotions. Actually, the opposite is true! Think of Bruce Banner, the seemingly stoic scientist whose anger transforms him into the Hulk. “That’s my secret, Captain. I’m always angry.”

Think of Bella in Twilight. As portrayed by Kristen Stewart, she has a grand total of 1 facial expression. But underneath the surface, the reader is privy to a whole world of very extreme, very intense emotions ranging from single-minded infatuation to debilitating depression.

Probably my favorite is Kat in “10 Things I Hate About You.” Everyone thinks she is just a bitter, cynical, generally apathetic shrew, but in the end, we see that she had very strong, complex emotions that she protected from prying eyes behind a tough outer shell.

Just because you don’t see them doesn’t mean the emotions aren’t there. And just because YOU, Mr. Hiring Manager, have been told by your politicking cronies that I am cold and standoffish doesn’t mean that the rest of the office doesn’t see me for who I really am: a tenderhearted woman who has learned to share her softer side only with those trustworthy enough not to use her vulnerability as ammunition.

Authentically Aurora

Uniquely Captivating

On Friday night, I had a first date that left me… curious. Pleased but cautious. Puzzled. Interested.

It’s not often that I find someone who can keep up with me intellectually. I don’t mean that in an arrogant or unkind way; I just mean it factually. Usually when I go on dates, I can show up, look pretty, be charming, and my date is easily won over… too easily won over.

I can read my dates like a book, dissecting stories of their family life growing up and its implications on their relationship style. I pick up on clues they don’t even realize they are giving away; insights into who they are and what makes them tick based on offhand comments made unthinkingly. Meanwhile, most of them never even learn that I almost married someone else this summer because they never bother to ask questions of any depth whatsoever. They want to talk about sports or movies or the weather or work.

Boring.

Superficial.

Lame.

But last night, I went out with a guy named Bryan who was not only my intellectual peer, but also extremely perceptive. I take for granted that none of my dates are observant or mentally deft enough to catch my subtext. But Bryan didn’t miss a thing. In fact, he picked up more than I meant for him to.

Bryan asked good questions. Hard questions. Revealing questions. And he read between the lines and heard all the things I didn’t say. I felt like we spent the evening proverbially circling one another, each trying to solve the other’s puzzling persona. I may have found the Irene Adler to my Sherlock Holmes.

Sherlock-See-ObserveDriving down the highway to dinner, Bryan had to slam on the brakes at one point because traffic backed up unexpectedly. A few moments later, he commented, “Now you keep tensing up every time I come up on another vehicle. What do I need to do to regain your trust?” I hadn’t even realized I was tensing. Reveling in his emotional intelligence, I teased him that I never let guys pick me up on the first date, so he should feel very trusted that I gave him my address. His response, curious and not accusatory, was: “And why do you have trust issues?” Then, after I answered, “Why did you decide to trust me?”

Over butternut squash ravioli, I took a turn. Bryan had mentioned that he and his best friend Russ had both gone through a rough breakup at the same time a couple of years back. “I was able to help him since I’d just gone through it,” he told me. “Interestingly, we’d each started dating our respective girlfriends within a few months of each other, too. The timing just lined up.”

A few courses later into the meal, Bryan let slip that Russ was having trouble meeting people because he’d dated his last girlfriend for five years and was out of practice. I put the pieces together and asked, “So you dated your last girlfriend for five years?” Bryan looked at me sharply, surprised and not pleased at my revelation. I explained, “You said that you and Russ had started dating girls at the same time and broke up with those girls at the same time.” Bryan furrowed his brow; then chuckled. “I hadn’t expected you to put that together. You’re a lot smarter than you let on.” A back-handed compliment, to be sure.

After dinner, walking around the zoo lit up with Christmas lights, the wind caught my scarf, and I got it tangled in my purse strap. When we climbed back into his truck an hour later, I arranged my scarf to drape over the seatbelt so it wasn’t bunched against me. Bryan tweaked his eyebrow and asked casually, “You don’t wear scarves often, do you?” Guilty. I was born and raised in the South, where Christmas is usually 80 degrees. I squinted at him. “I would have been more coy from the beginning if I’d realized how observant you are. I don’t normally have to be so on my toes.” He smiled. “I could say the same about you.”

Irene-AdlerAt the end of the evening, I asked Bryan why he’d asked me out. He smiled sideways at me, as is his way, and said contemplatively after a moment, “You have a uniquely captivating personality. And you have lots of interests, which makes you interesting.”

I actually don’t even know if I like him, romantically I mean. I was just so fascinated by him – excited to have a conversation parter who wasn’t entirely predictable and boring – that we stayed out for seven hours together: first to dinner; then the zoo; then a wine dive.

I want to see him again. I want to understand him. And I want to be understood. But do I want to be loved? Or just solved?

Authentically Aurora