Dear lovelies:

There is so much to say that I don't know where to begin!

MY CHRISTMAS

For the record, Christmas was quite nice. I think I let my father down a little, because I didn't stay home for very long--in part because I get a little stir-crazy whenever I'm away from my stomping grounds here in Brooklyn, but also because I don't find my father's house all that comfortable (it's something of an overgrown, unkempt bachelor pad). Other than that, it was a pretty good time. We spent Christmas Eve with our wonderful old family friends--The Connors, a couple who grew up in Ireland and had a brood of wonderful, hilarious, outspoken, very kind kids. On Christmas Day, we were at my aunt and uncle's house, with my younger cousin and my sister (both of whom look a lot like me though we're all pretty different, with me being the most bohemian by far) and my brother-in-law.

THE DINNER PARTY CONVERSATION ...

On Saturday night, the celebration continued here in my neighborhood. A few good friends--three alpha males (including one i-banker and one actor and a third man who shall remain more mysterious)--came over to my petite apartment for an impromptu dinner party. I was inspired in part because I wanted to see them, in part because I wanted to make good use of my little Christmas tree, and in part because I wanted to eat more holiday food--including cornbread stuffing with candied pecans as well as roasted root veggies with rosemary. (The thing I was most looking forward to was fresh, warm gingerbread with whipped cream but after dinner and Christmas cookies and chocolate truffles and dessert wine, none of us had any room!) I was also a little worried I'd feel depressed this weekend--I've been ruminating about the end of yet another year in which I've made so little progress, both personally and professionally (since I have yet to sell my novel), and feeling worried about the year to come, in the sense that I don't know what I should do--or what I'm capable of doing--to better myself.

Point is, I thought having a nice get-together would help me stave off that sinking feeling of angst.

Luckily, that's exactly what it did.

The guys got along swimmingly. Two of them had met before and after they cabbed home together, one wrote to say a "bro-mance" was blossoming between them. (Ha!) The third was new to the mix, but both of the others reported back to me that they'd really enjoyed getting to know him, too.

We talked about lots of things:

-about how too many choices (in terms of consumerism, lifestyles, professional paths, even internet dating, etc.) seems to make people less happy rather than more happy;

-how the natural familial communities that people in other parts of the world enjoy--like peeps in Damascus, Syria, where the parents of one of my dinner party guests grew up--provide so much more support than more modern communities do, even if they are other trade-offs (in terms of personal freedom, primarily);

-and how in both arranged marriages (like the one that the parents of one dinner party guest have) and open relationships (like the one a certain dinner party guest was in), the players involved do not expect that any one person will be able to fill all of his or her needs--emotional, psychological, intellectual, romantic, sexual.

TALK OF THE DATING UNDERWORLD ...

Of course, there was also an obstreperous discussion of dating. (If I could ONLY count how many times one of the boys said, "Before I tell you this, you gotta promise me: You're not gonna quote me on your blog, are you?" I promised I wouldn't.)

***One topic that came up--which I find very interesting--is why certain dudes are attracted to women with a dark side. I'd really like to post on this eventually ... so email me if any of you men out there in the blogosphere can shed some light on the subject.***

ON TAKING RISKS

Last week, I was talking about how I regretted not taking more risks--although I also noted that I often regret the risks I DO take.

This weekend, I feel like I took some good small risks. I suppose having the dinner party itself was one--it's possible no one would've come and it's possible I could've put in a lot of effort only to burn everything and feel disappointed.

The bigger risk was inviting the mysterious third guest--a person who needs a code name, a person I've only met recently, although we had something of an instant connection. (Dare I say I felt a spark?)

Another risk: Giving him a spontaneous hug at a certain point in the evening ... and not pulling away a few times when our knees touched during the meal.

Now, he is--as he keeps telling me (unbidden, may I add)--still somewhat involved with (and in love with) a person he used to date. So, there's that. Regardless, he's interesting.

And the funny thing is, he seems far more emotionally available and communicative than the narcissists I so often date.

It may be true that the party I left early last week--because I was afraid of sticking around, and risking feeling uncomfortable--was his.

Anyway, since I feel good about the small risks I took with him, I have the temerity to make a few pronouncements about

HOW TO TAKE GOOD FLIRTATIOUS RISKS

1) A series of small risks that slowly lead somewhere may be more productive--and less potentially emotionally debilitating--than taking one HUGE risk. For instance, the two small risks I took--inviting this man to my dinner party, and giving him that little hug--helped us feel each other out (to say nothing of feeling each other UP) without either of us being pushed too far out of our comfort zone. Had I taken a bigger risk--like drinking too much at his holiday party to get myself psyched up for hanging around longer, for instance--that might have backfired. As it is, I feel like I've gotten to know an interesting person a little bit better, and I'm content with that.

Along those lines ...

2) I tend to really regret impulsive decisions I've made when wasted, but not impulsive decisions I've made after a glass or two of wine. A little booze can help loosen us up and relax enough to trust our instincts, but having too much in order to help yourself do something you're nervous about doing is never a great plan.

3) Taking risks with a considerate person is infinitely preferable to taking them with a jerk. How to tell if a person is considerate? I know; it's not easy. But your gut will probably give you a good indication. Also, if he treated you with respect and courtesy when you met, and if he responds to your emails, texts, etc., in a timely way, those are good signs. ... I find that the only risks that are painful for me are the ones in which a person just ignores a gesture I've made; as long as someone responds and explains--as a considerate person is likely to--it doesn't hurt so much, even if he doesn't do what I was hoping he would.

4) Use technological means of communication for making invitations and setting up dates; wait till you're in person to express affection. When you tell someone you think he's sexy or fascinating by email or text, it can seem like a bigger deal than it would if you simply said--off-handedly and spontaneously, in person--"Wow, man, how cool are you?" Or, "Dude, you look hot in those jeans." Or whatever it is you feel compelled to say.

Lovelies ... does this make sense? What are your thoughts on the matter? Anything to add or correct?

I hope you enjoyed the holidays.

xxx

What Do You Think?