Category Archives: Reflections

I am Stan

I’ve known Stan my whole life. He and my dad were friends in college and kept in touch afterwards. I don’t remember ever being formally introduced to Stan, I just remember him being around. My dad would invite him over to watch sports from time to time, and the two would spend the day chatting about the current games before inevitably remembering some obscure sporting event from when they were in college. Almost comically, they would alternate who’s turn it was to invite the other over. And they never broke the cycle.

As a child, I thought all adults were married, and so I always wondered why Stan wasn’t. On the surface he seemed like a nice guy. He had a steady job, wasn’t bad looking, and was in shape (he was a dedicated runner). Yet for as long as I can remember, he’s been living with his mother in a two-bedroom apartment. He was always nice to me even though it was clear he wasn’t really sure how to deal with kids.

Nearly 32 years after I was born, Stan and my dad still get together regularly to watch sports. My dad, of course, has a wife and two sons. Stan still lives with his mom.

This past weekend, a friend I hadn’t seen in a while sent me an email inviting me to a barbecue. I see him periodically, and I looked forward to catching up with him and seeing how big his son has gotten. Then it occurred to me: the last time I saw him was also at a barbecue at his place last year. I wondered if his son, who was three last year, would even remember me. I’m not sure what his wife thinks of me – this single guy who never asks to bring a girl over. She and I always chat politely.

All of a sudden it hit me: I am Stan. I’m the single guy who comes over every once in a while. Granted, I don’t live with my mother, but that distinction seems particularly arbitrary at this point in time. That’s me. My friend’s son is going to know me from his childhood, and maybe into adulthood, as the guy who stopped by periodically…alone.

Issues? What issues?

When we’re single, we want a relationship. When we’re in a relationship–an incompatible one, that is–we want to be single. Never satisfied, it’s easy to miss what’s really wrong in the picture.

I’m what the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator would refer to as “Perceiving.” Basically, that means that I’m comfortable in a state of indecision. To those who are opposite of Perceiving, or “Judging” (not the same as judgemental) it’s important to know what their weekly schedule looks like. But I like to keep it open and have options.

Even in a relationship with a boyfriend, I was never comfortable with the idea that he was “the one.” Get married? I’d rather wait and see. Any excuse I could find to get out of a relationship and find a new one was acceptable in my eyes. But then I turned 37. My boyfriend of 4 years and I broke up the year before. (My longest relationship to date.) At this age I started to think about whether or not I really wanted to bear a child. I decided I did and thought about settling down.

Fast forward to May 2010. I turn 39 in two months, and my boyfriend– who I found on a dating website– and I have been together over a year. Until a month ago, I was still in that state of indecision about marriage. Except this boyfriend is different from the other ones. He’s compatible with me. But why haven’t I felt in love with him? It’s that gnawing question that plagues many of us, that make us wonder if we can be more than friends, or whatever.

I got the answer to that question a month ago. It was something that I had been ignoring for years.

I had been in love once before. And I was in a relationship with him, Bill, in 2003. But I broke up with him because I wanted to pursue a career in entertainment and thought our relationship was getting in the way. But really it was my lack of independence that was in the way. About 4 months after leaving him, he was in a car accident and died.

Bill and I were still in touch the day of his accident. In fact, I ran into him the same day. He invited me to see a play. Inside I wanted to go, because I was still in love with him, but instead declined. Years later, while in this new relationship, I still hadn’t let go of my lost love and wasn’t allowing my heart to open up. I squashed my feelings with busyness and avoided intimacy out of fear for losing another loved one to death.

It’s very easy to go into denial about our problems. But being in denial doesn’t help anyone. Whether we’re in a relationship, dating casually, or playing around, every person we get close to can be affected by our issues.

My issue with my present boyfriend became a non-issue after I decided to let go of Bill’s spirit and move on. I had been feeling guilty for breaking up with the only man I ever felt like I could die for (besides my dad). And my reason for breaking up was my own problem. Another issue.

There are other details that affected my story that would take a book to write about. But rather than go there, it should suffice to say there were many other personal issues that needed attention and healing.

Since Bill died, I’ve learned to be independent. My present boyfriend, Jason, is also an independent person. It’s amazing when two independent people get together and are compatible. They become two interdependent people, and the chemistry is awesome. But the only way I could be here in this (amazingly) healthy relationship is to have dealt with those issues without dragging my significant others into the depressing depths of their roots. Of course, the guys were aware I was working through emotional trials, but they were not victims to them.

Got issues? Face up.

emotional REAL estate

Robyn just posted a recent sonogram as her FaceBook photo. I decide to ring her and we meet for an impromptu picnic in the park. Something we both have shirked since I left the firm we sold our souls for. It was high time for some herbal Honest Teas, huge hoagies from Saigon Sandwiches coupled with Sprinkles’ vegan red velvety goodness.

“How’s what’s-his-face?” Her affection for a particular man-in-my-life zeroes in the second we meet up.

“We’re good.” I struggle with the Built NY bags as Robyn smooths the blankets on the still dewy grass.

“Just good? You two were inseparable last time I saw you guys.” She needles. Nothing escapes this woman. Her seventh-sense is always spot-on.

“Eh, you know. Growing pains.” I’m no good when it comes to being nonchalant.

“Hmmm.”

“What’s THAT supposed to mean?” I feign offense. We’re cronies. We’re past pretenses, but it doesn’t hurt to act hurt once in a while. Keeps us from tip-toeing our way through each others’ lives.

“Nothing.” Her eyes dart to the way my fingers fiddle with the loose button on my cardigan. “You know when I met my husband, right?”

“When you went online.” I still have trouble piecing together what she’s driving at.

“Yes AND no.” She pinches my nose playfully. I grimace. She caught me wrinkling it again. Key word. WRINKLE. She has none, and insists it’s because she’s met her soul’s mate. “Yes. I met him online. No, that’s not what I meant.”

I look at her blankly. She giggles. “I mean to say, it’s good that you and what’s-his-face are not so hunky-dory.” She’s resorted to riddles. I sigh. Loudly.

“Engrish. Preez.”

“The day I lost ALL my guy friends, was the day I met MY guy.”

“Huh?” I swipe my pinky against the pseudo cream-cheesy goodness of the vegan cupcake. Robyn’s deciding to slam dairy during her pregnancy still eludes me, but I’m game for trying new ways of tricking my tastebuds into thinking they’re being sated.

“Look, I know you’ve got a ton of buddies that have your back. There’s nothing wrong with your band of bros. I just think it’s great timing for you to concentrate on you moving past [the EX-factor].” She’s chattering really quickly now. I’m certain she’s been dying to get this off her chest. “What’s-his-face is the best of the bunch. I know that. You know that. We all have known this.”

“So what’s your point?” I’m edgy. The cupcake is not cutting it. I reach for a Vietnamese sandwich. Robyn’s usually succinct. It’s not characteristic for her to circumvent conversational shrubbery. I bite down hard into my hoagie. She follows suit. We sit silent for a split second. Then it begins.

“I”m just saying. I’m glad what’s-his-face is giving you room now to meet the man-of-your-dreams.”

“Say what?” I’m puzzled. If memory serves me correctly, a few years back, I couldn’t get Robyn off my back about how my best bud and I were meant to be Plato’s picture perfect definition of soulmates.

“Emotional space.” Prompt replies are Robyn’s forte. “It’s prime relationship real estate. Own it. Stop letting what’s-his-face lease it with 0% APR.”

We both sip our teas in silence. Staring at the boats slide lazily across the Bay.

Online, huh?”

“Yep.”

“Should I let what’s-his-face know?” My best bud balked the last time we spoke of my perusing internet dating. That particular conversation is partially to blame for the “[emotional] space between.”

“You’re no longer renting, hon.” I know this. “It’s time to buy.”

The suddenness of love

Summer: “One day I woke up and I just knew.”
Tom: “Knew what?”
Summer: “What I was never sure of when I was with you.”

This heart-wrenching scene from the indy hit 500 Days of Summer truly delivers the crushing honesty of love: it is sudden, both in its arrival and its departure. We’re meant to feel sorry for Tom, who has been head over heels for Summer, the girl who said that she didn’t want anything serious. Yet when she ends up married to someone else, her initial demands of being casual seem like a slap in the face. How could she have lied to him in that way?

The truth that this film so brilliantly captures is that we cannot predict love, we cannot control love. We think that we have life all figured out and we know exactly how we want, or will allow, someone else to fit within the architecture we’ve already laid out. And then that someone appears out of nowhere one day and we’re thrown for a loop. This isn’t the way it was supposed to happen and certainly not the way you had planned. Yet it feels good, perfect.

Everything happens just as suddenly as depicted in the film. One day you wake up and there’s a person there that you seem to have known forever. But you haven’t, and you’re continuing to learn more and more about each other every day. The whole experience is a joyous, wild ride that you can’t possibly imagine ending.

Another day you wake up and don’t recognize that person anymore. The light switch that was so quickly flipped on is just as quick flipped off, and the relationship is over. No one has any idea why or how this happens, and for those of us who have experienced it, the whole situation is disconcerting. You try to figure out what’s wrong but you can’t quite put your finger on it. Just as you couldn’t say what was so right when the relationship started, you also can’t identify why it’s over. It literally is just a feeling you had when you woke up.

The suddenness of love is what makes it so wonderful and so terrible all at the same time. It’s a wild, wild ride and we’re all just hanging on for dear life. The more time we spend pondering the suddenness, the more easily we may miss new opportunities that are right in front of us, as captured in one of the movies final scenes with a new girl.

500 Days of Summer DVD
Girl: Have I seen you before?
Tom: Me? I don’t think so.
Girl: Do you ever go to Angela’s Plaza?
Tom: Yes… That’s like my favorite spot in the city.
Girl: Yeah, except for the parking lots.
Tom: Yeah, yeah I agree.
Girl: Yeah, yeah I think I’ve seen you there.
Tom: Really?
Girl: Yeah…
Tom: I haven’t seen you?
Girl: You must not have been looking…

A Good Man is Not That Hard to Find

Reposted from GoodMenBook.org (November 18, 2009)

My mother used to pressure me to settle down. “Get married,” she pestered. In spite of this being the modern world and all, it’s still not as easy for a woman to get a husband as it is for a man to get a wife. And I don’t mean finding the “right” spouse. I mean getting someone to say “I do” before witnesses. Let’s face it, women, in general, want to get married before men do.

Granted, people overall take more precautions today before jumping over the broomstick than they did thirty or forty years ago. Just look at the median ages of first-time wedders. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, in 1971 (when I was born), the median ages of Americans marrying for the first time was twenty-three for men and twenty-one for women. Thirty years later–when Mom really started bugging me–the median ages were twenty-seven and twenty-five. I’m sure those ages would be even higher if not for the increasing number of women doing the proposing. Perhaps these women are tired of being kept up at night by their biological ticking.

A few years ago, my boyfriend of four years broke up with me. My thought was, “Cool. I’m glad I didn’t have to do it.” Don’t get me wrong. We had a great four years, and I was sad. But it was time to move on. He was and still is a good man. He just wasn’t for me. You see, I think a lot like a guy; I’ve tested in the top percentiles in subjects men tend to do better in, such as mechanical comprehension. I enjoy working on my Honda CL360 and watching the Giants kick the Patriots’ asses. But my boyfriend watched football only when the Super Bowl was on–and only when the Steelers were playing. Baseball? Forget it. He wouldn’t even watch the World Series.

At age 36, the age my mother gave birth to me, I decided it was time to consider what she wanted. So I dated–a lot. I had a date almost every week, sometimes two or three in a week. I don’t remember how I met most of those guys, never mind their names. After about six months of this, I started asking my dates, “Can I give you a suggestion?” Then I’d tell them what bugged me about going out with them. I did this as much to help them as to figure out exactly what I was looking for.

All these men were great guys. I saw something endearing in each one, even the guy who didn’t want to hear my suggestion–definitely can’t remember his name. But none of them lit my fire long enough to consider marriage. Relationship, yes. Marriage, no way.

Their grateful responses to my dating suggestions encouraged me to write a book that these great guys would want to read. I researched high and low for issues to write about. I Googled dozens of keywords and read articles six-links deep. In the process I came across a book by clinical psychologist Dr. Alex Avila, LoveTypes: Discover Your Romantic Style and Find Your Soul Mate.

In a nutshell, Dr. Avila says that each of us has one of 16 personality types based on the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) that is romantically compatible with another particular personality type. One out of every 100 American women has my personality type. Go figure.

Six out of every 100 American men have the personality type that perfectly matches mine. So that means that six of the last 100 men I dated were my type, right? Not. A man with this personality type marries earlier, and he is compatible with other types besides mine, the types belonging to seventeen out of 100 women. The math = not good for me.

After I learned about the MBTI, how relationships work made more sense to me. It was as though scales had fallen off my eyes. I could see why that good man I was with for four years never rang marriage bells to my ears.

To test Dr. Avila’s theories, I decided to look for my perfect match. I found an abundance of my perfect match at my favorite hangout, the Soho Grand Hotel in New York, but all those men were married. Not so perfect, actually. Then I looked online.

I realized that it’s possible to determine a guy’s MBTI type by examining his online profile. Once in a while, I’d find someone, but he either never responded, was much younger than me, or he was married. Yes, married and dating online. At this point, I just wanted know if Dr. Avila is right. So I wrote to a guy who was married but separated. He wrote back. Twelve emails and two phone calls later, we met. It was eighteen months after breaking up with the Good Man.

The doctor is right. And not only is my now-boyfriend my perfect match, he is also a good man. His story is another blog.

Resolutions

As I sit in this coffee shop, I feel the ground shifting beneath my feet. No, unlike many of the writers on this blog, I don’t live on the west coast, so it’s not an earthquake.

It’s change, and a lot of it.

It’s all good change, and it’s really exciting change: there’s a new place to live, new surroundings (even if it’s a familiar city), a new year, in a new decade, and new resolutions.

It’s on the last one, I pause. What resolutions? I mean, how will I improve myself in 2010. . . I can always go with the regular ones – lose weight, be in better shape, read more, manage money better, blah blah blah. Sure, those are all good ones; they never go out of style, but I want to dig deeper.

On a recent late night drunken talk with a group of my best friends, we got into it – the real stuff . . . Life. It was during this hardcore discussion that a question arose that has been rolling around my head ever since. We passed that question around the room.

What do you want?

What do I want?

Sounds easy, right.

Not really.

Sure, go with the easy, obvious answer, but then you’re not getting to the heart of the matter, and you’re cheating yourself in a very valuable exercise.

It took a lot of thought, but after some reflection on the last year, the answer is simple, and yet, it’s gonna be really hard.

I want a new attitude.

I looked through all of the books that I read over the last year most of which dealt with dating, personal growth, and body language. I finished up with Wing Girl Kim’s “Alpha Dog, Get the Bitch You Want” which I will tell you, is really helpful. The reading I have done combined with some other personal experiences led me to one conclusion.

In the end, the only person I really have to please, is me.

I spent so much time contemplating, calculating, trying to figure out what others want from me, that I passed on what I wanted. This wasn’t always a conscious decision, but in retrospect many times I did things based on what I thought would make me more palatable to more people; I wanted to be liked. This isn’t to say I was fake, but I think I was timid for fear that no one would want to follow where I was leading. I was afraid of being alone, being abandoned. That timidity caused me to be very well liked, but not respected, and certainly not boyfriend material.

As a result, I found that I was disappointed, in myself, in my results, in my relationships, in my dating, even in my work, but I was too afraid to take the reigns for fear of failure. This made me, more disappointed and more timid.

It was a sad cycle that had to end.

After I bought my new place, I noticed this new found feeling of independence. All of a sudden, I could see the person I wanted to be starting to emerge. I feel less afraid to go out and try things, and more willing to strike out on my own – captain my own ship.

This is what I think an alpha dog does. Sure they lead a pack, but they only lead because they have the conviction and the internal desire to go their own way. They steer their own ship, and take it wherever they want. Alpha Dogs don’t really worry whether everyone or anyone else follows. They go in the direction they want. Alphas are always in control, and they’re not terribly concerned with what others think. It’s not that alphas are insensitive – they have no intention of hurting anyone, but they only do what they want.

My New Year’s resolution is to steer my own ship, go my own way, and spend a lot less time worrying about whether anyone follows. It’s going to require a lot of internal monitoring, and a lot more work, but I think the results are already beginning to show.

As I sit in this coffee shop, cars whiz by, conversations percolate, and a dog happily chews on his bone while Elliot Smith, M. Ward and The Eels play on the stereo. I am struck by how everything quietly, pleasantly buzzes here in the city. The buzz of the city feels like possibility much like it did when I would venture into downtown Baltimore as a child. I’m on my own here in this coffee shop, doing what I want to be doing, and it feels nice. It feels comfortable, like a captain’s chair. I may not know exactly where I’m going, but from now on I’m steering my ship.

Happy New Year, everyone. 2010 is going to be the best year ever.

Cheers,

Cityboy

Sexting

Myself being a follower of proper work ethic, I once had an affair with my co-worker.  Possessing the typical spine-tingling bravado attributed to all things generally looked down upon, this affair in nearly every way was stereotypical:  Secret, awkward, and sexual.  However, one basic difference separated this affair from your typical make-out-in-the-backroom-and-behind-closed-doors deal.  This was an affair done solely through the phenomenon that is text messaging.

Like all liaisons, my flirtation started innocently enough: A playful trading of numbers during a shared lunch break (we both  happened to adore Baja Fresh) to see who could text whom faster.  We worked in a rather large chain bookstore in Santa Monica, and let me tell you– us booksellers are nerdy and bored, bored people.  We found the simplest of things amusing.   How was I to know that a simple G-rated text such as “Hi I can text faster than you” would, a week later, lead to the soft-core porn of “I want to bend you over and fuck you hard”?  (Imagine getting this message while driving away from an eight-hour work day and you can see that the thrill of a text message liaison can, at times, far out do the thrill of a real affair—danger involved alone.)

After all, I only texted the guy.  In our era of avoidance, text messaging is the ultimate vehicle for communication and evasion.   Hell, it’s even safer than instant messaging online.  With the internet being people’s second homes, getting someone’s screen-name involves a near knowledge or trust of the person.  Screenname means friendship… or the possibility of one.  (You could, after all, block the person or always have an away message up.)  And don’t even get me started on Facebook… once you are Facebook friends with someone they might as well be one of your drinking buddies, unless you are really diligent about what particular photos you display.  Today, nearly everyone has a cell phone.  Giving out your cell number is no biggie.  And neither is texting.  It’s just another part of our obsession with communication without really communicating.

The beauty and secret lure of the text message is that you never have to acknowledge it.  Coworker and I could be working the same shift, texting one another the most flirtatious (later, dirty) of sentences and act perfectly natural around one another.  This was a reticent rule.  The text message world we visited outside of work could never be visited while we habited our bookstore or were within view of one another.   This way, we never, ever had to face up to what we were doing.  Our cellular connection took us to a world without consequences.

For a time.

Like the liaison itself, the breaking of the rules also started relatively innocently.  One night, as I lay down under faded purple plaid sheets dressed in my favorite college-days pajamas (an over-sized Winnie the Poo nightshirt) my cell made the familiar gurgle of exclamation that had already started to bring a smile on my face.  I knew who it would be.  Secretly I checked my suggestive text, and there was Coworker’s newest and latest “Long and hard or soft and gentle?”  I giggled and looked around, ashamed.  I didn’t tal like that, not with anyone else.  (And certainly not since.)  Yet, as my blush lessened, I suddenly felt free… wild.  Nobody could see!  Nobody could hear.  The only mood music was my roommate’s breathing.  With a sly grin, I texted him back.  We proceeded to have the strangest version of phone sex I have ever had.  My thumbs had calluses.

The next day, a customer wearing a bikini top came in and asked for a book on anal sex. (No.)  Coworker was stacking the ever-popular Men Are From Mars books near me.  I looked up and caught Coworker’s eye.  He winked.  I blushed.  We connected.

And suddenly our connection wasn’t so technological anymore.

Swiftly, a text message about how we should copulate standing up would come to mind when a customer told me they couldn’t reach a book in the C++ section.   Coworker started to bend the unspoken (and even un-texted) rule by texting me about how cute I looked in my skirt.  Pleased, I replied that he looked cute in his metrosexual way—he is still the only man I know who can pull off pink and tight jeans.

Yet our flirtation brought with its fling and fantasy, a problem.  The more we texted, the more we flirted, the more I liked Coworker.  It had started to become something other than sexual, something other than cellular.

I took the ever-bending line of our decorum and straight up broke it about a month in when I texted Coworker about something non-sexual while working.  I asked him about his ex-girlfriend with whom he had a dinner date that night after work.  Coworker was wearing a nice green plaid shirt; he looked good.  I didn’t want to admit it, but I was jealous.

While text messaging is just a bunch of letters showing up on your cell phone screen, the words can convey emotions.  I could feel the shock in his in reply to my text “Nervous about dinner tonight?”  Where was the sexual innuendo (“I’d do you for dinner” for example)?  Where was the flirtation?  This sounded needy.  This sounded…

Real.

“A little,” he replied.  “Surprised you asked.”

I opened a Dummies Guide To BBQ and hid my cell phone between recipes for grilling sauce as I replied, “Just interested.  Curious.”  I paused, watched as a customer across the store chose a book on Labradors.  “Do you still like her?”  I bit my lips and hit send.  My heart was beating as I put the Dummies book back in its place, and hid my cell back in my nametag.  The thrill of the forbidden (cell phones on the floor are a strict no-no) was overcome by the worry as to his reply.

My phone buzzed.  “Maybe.”  A few seconds later, just as I could feel a customer approaching (we develop a second sense for you guys):  “Yes.”

Suddenly, text messaging wasn’t so thrilling anymore.  It was painful.  Just like a real crush.  Holding back tears, I helped a nervous old lady who smelled like bad fish find Angelina Ballerina for her six-year-old granddaughter.  I then proceeded to lock myself in the backroom closet and cry.  Somehow, even through the barrier of wires and screens and bad connections, my heart had still managed to get hurt.

The next night a group of us went out to a late night dinner at Denny’s.  Coworker and I did not—could not—look one another in the eye.  I spent most of the time being passive aggressive and ignoring him.  He spent most of the time hitting on a lesbian in front of her girlfriend.  Both of us engaged in futile efforts of fun rather than facing the predicament: my obvious upset.

There is constant talk in our media today about how the internet requires new laws to control the freedom of communication it promotes—freedom of speech, freedom of downloading, freedom of porn, whatever.  But the internet, while breaking boundaries, can also create them.  Its wires can tangle up a heart just as easily as any “maybe I’ll call” from a guy or a wink from that foxy lady down the street.  When is that ever brought up?  We don’t discuss, not seriously, at least, how the medium of electronic media—be it my cell phone or even the internet—affects day to day human interaction.  Sure, we joke at a party that we spend more time on AIM than we do doing homework, we brag to our gal pals about how we Facebook stalked whatever cute guy caught our fancy and made the mistake of telling us his last name, or the casual study is released on CNN about how children need to spend more time in the park than watching the boob tube.  But what about us adults and our relationships?  Online dating is becoming more and more popular.  One of my friends is now living with a woman he met on Ok Cupid; and I now know two married couples who met on eHarmony.  So while technology has certainly helped the lonely and more socially inept, I do believe it can cause a whole new form of awkwardness.  Nobody “talks on the phone” anymore, none of us use up our minutes.  Now when we sign up for phone plans what matters is not unlimited daytime minutes, but unlimited texts.  And I know now that I am not the only one who flirts, dear heavens, conducts full blown relationship communication, with her cell.

And there’s the catch.  In the end, reality hits.  Sure, kids spend “too much time” watching television or playing with their Wii or whatnot.  But they are, thank God (or Zeus or whomever), forced to eventually go to school, grow up, talk to fellow geeks (and I write that with love).  I was—and so was Coworker—eventually forced to have real human interaction and feelings.  What the digital media does is simply put it off for a while.  But not forever.  In the end, pesky human need and curiosity always peeks over the fence, reaching through the wires and over the keyboard for a fellow human hand.

What Means the World To You?

Diamond rings?  Shiny things?

What means the world to you?  

Religion?  Sex?  Politics?

What means the world to you? 

Height, humor, honesty?  

What means the world to you?  

Ladies (Ho!)  Fellas (Ow!)

After sifting through about a million different online profiles, I start to wonder if my standards are set too high.  I’ve got an account on Match because my friends tell me that my standards were set too low from having surfed the free personals listings on Craigslist.  After going out with many a mardy bum date and recently escaping a failed long-term relationship, my gal pals told me that I should quit with the Craigslist and actually invest some money into a dating account.  After all, the people on there are paying to find someone, which I guess means that they can at least afford an account? 

Well, the BFF’s personally approved my profile, which of course is quite verbose and somewhat scary to read for the male looking to casually date.  (Monogamy?  A serious relationship?  What?)  But at the same time it’s good because it shows people who I am, who I’m ideally looking for, and weeds out the deadbeats who aren’t up for the challenge that is me.  And, boy, am I a challenge.  Especially as of late.  LoL

*ahem*

Oh, I forgot to introduce myself.  Hello, everyone!  My name is Kristine.  I’m looking for love…hopefully in all the right places.  As I’ve already exhausted the bar scene, school, church, & I don’t believe in office dating (too complicated!), I decided that I should start looking for love online.  I’ve always been a person who’s been open to new types of things ever since a pivotal (and somewhat depressing) religion class in high school told me that I could basically marry hundreds of different people out in the world and the only thing limiting me was location.  As the Internet has no bounds, I decided that I’d find those hundreds of people and pick the best-looking one.  (j/k…I’m not that superficial!)

But last night, I had this amazing phone conversation with this guy who was pretty much exactly like me.  I went to look back at his profile to commit it to my memory bank when I saw that he was looking for someone either “Agnostic, Atheist, Spiritual but Not Religious.”  I consider myself to be in the last category, but I was born into and raised in a Catholic household.  However, when I got to college, I started discovering other religions and stopped going to church.  I rediscovered my spirituality on a more personal level and *badabing badaboom* here I am now.  So while I no longer believe in organized religion per se, and I am totally down with people believing in what they want to believe, I wonder if this could ever really work in the long-run.  Would he constantly nitpick at me for believing in a Higher Power if he didn’t believe in one himself?  What if I rediscovered my faith roots and decided to start practicing my Catholic religion again?  What if I wanted to get married in the Catholic church in order to appease my aging parents (who are really gung-ho about it) and my partner wouldn’t convert?  What if I wanted to raise my kids with different world religions so they could pick and choose their set of beliefs instead of being bound by one sect of faith and he wasn’t cool with religion at all?

That’s when I had to tell myself to slow down.  I’m not marrying this guy yet.  Let’s just take it slow and see how it goes.  But it’s a hot button issue that I’d need to bring up with him later…like, oh say, Date # 5.

But this incident also led me to think about a failed set-up date and how important it is to me that my lifestyle also matches that of my would-be partner.  Now, I’ve been a little bit of a lush as of late.  I won’t lie.  I enjoy my Long Islands (with cherry garnish, please!).  And I have this problem with my cell phone and drunk-dialing and drunk-texting random people.  *sigh*  I should have already learned after years and years of this that having my phone near me while inebriated is never good, but old dogs don’t seem to learn new tricks.  

Well, apparently, non-thinking Kristine went and drunk-dialed this one guy off Match.  We had set up a date for later in the week.  After stupidly handing off the phone to my also drunk friends and have them say some random things to him (Why did you cut your hair?  Kristine likes long hair!  Don’t kidnap her!  Do we need to equip her with LoJack?  Why do you laugh a lot?  You sound a little too happy!), he was sufficiently creeped out to tell me that we sounded drunk.  And he doesn’t drink anymore as he used to be too into the drinking and drugs since he was 14 (which made my then incoherent mind explode and feel really horrible), and he had a gut feeling that we wouldn’t exactly get along as I sounded like I liked to have too much fun and he was recently clean.  Dating set-back!  Haven’t even met and a date has already been cancelled…though I can’t really blame him after those antics.  And I mean, gosh, how could I have known that he had previously been an alcoholic unless you verbally state that in your profile?  But it made me realize that I needed to find someone who enjoys a cocktail or two (well, drinking within your limits) so that we could go to sports bars and get a bit rowdy when the Pacquaio fights were on.  And how similar lifestyles are really important in the long haul, as are similar values and even personalities to an extent (though some would argue that personalities need to be complementary which is a whole other point of discussion in itself).

But all of these incidents got me thinking back on what a theology teacher in college told me:

“You marry the person, not whose traits you love the most, but whose flaws you hate the least.”

And I guess that’s true, in a way.  I just have to think about which flaws in my partner I can live with and which attributes I consider essential in order for our relationship to work.  Compound this with the “ditto goes for vice versa” effect and we’re talking about a 1% chance that I’ll ever find someone out there.  LoL  But I consider myself an optimist, so I’m sure I’ll find him even if it takes me ’til I’m 64!  *cue Beatles music*

TRUTH about cats & dogs

“It’s a given that all men are dogs. What differentiates each guy is how much dog is in him.”

I barely settle into my side of the cab and my college buddy starts barking his version of conventional dating wisdom at me.

“I suggest you tap into me to discern the purebreds from the strays in your life and NOT that silly book by Steve Harvey.” Davis glances down at the three copies I’ve got carefully tucked in a clear plastic bag for my gal pals. He’s determined to squeeze in brunch by the Bay before heading back to Tulsa. “You know a good guy will come along when you least expect it, or are looking for it.”

It’s obvious he’s caught wind of my recent internet dating fiasco. I suspected as much when both he and the girls were quite insistent that we meet up on this not-so-sunny Sunday morning. I try to fill him in on my latest mismatch: Mr. Persistent-turned-less-Consistent.

“Well, that could be a sign, but it also could be something came up.” Davis runs his hand through his chin length hair. Looks at my expectant expression and pinches my nose before it can wrinkle. “You should never read too much into what men do, because, quite frankly, we don’t know what the hell we are doing in most cases.”

“It just throws me for a loop. I like it when guys do what they say they’ll do. I thought we had that. It’s what I liked the most about him.” So I thought. I am SUCH the SUCKER.

“The guys you select just don’t know real talent when they have it in their grasp.” He shakes his wavy locks. “It’s just a shame.”

“You’re being sweet because you’re my friend.” My mood matches the forecast. It doesn’t help that I’m not a morning person.

“No. I’m telling you because you’re missing the point. The one thing I do know is that the more you women like a man, the more they get all scared.”

“Who does?” Davis wags his finger between himself and the driver. The driver glances back at us through his rear view mirror, his eyes crinkle in agreement. He’s got great laugh lines. He’s also got on a ring. On his left hand. Guess he’s not one of the strays.

Davis rubs the steamy window with his elbow. He squints at the street signs up ahead. “Make yourself a little mysterious. We love a good mystery.”

Here we go again. “I don’t get it.”

“Look, you know I think you are the sweetest woman I have ever met. Just real thoughtful and nice. And I am a total prick.” Davis guffaws. Maybe that’s a mark of a real man in the Midwest. Someone not afraid to carry around, then empty out, belly fulls of laughter everywhere he goes.

“So if I see it, you know darn well those soft guys you like will notice it, too.” He laughs out loud again at the look of horror I can’t seem to squelch these days. “The old adage, ‘don’t mistake kindness for weakness’ perhaps.”

This time, I groan loudly. “I barely know how to flirt as it is. Now that I’ve sorta got that down, what next?”

“What you have to do is be interested, but not seem interested. It’s a fine line to walk, but be more cat-like than dog-like.”

“What’choo talkin’ ’bout Willis?” The rain’s pounding on the cab’s rooftop now, matching the rhythmic thudding of my heart.

“You ever notice how a dog runs up to you when you come home?” I nod. He smiles. Doesn’t skip a beat and continues: “But a cat. Oh my, a cat does not seek you out. A cat has to be found.”

The gentle drum of the rain onto the roof of our cab does nothing to drown out Ra Ra Riot’s refrain ringing in my head …my bed’s too big for just me… I shake my head. Hard.

“Be more like a cat.” Just for the record, I abhor cats. Of any kind. Maybe it’s because I’m deathly allergic. “You are sweet with a heart of gold, but not every guy needs to know that from the start. And, lastly, mix it up just a little bit. Maybe you need to be more selective. A lot more selective.” No kidding.

It’s my turn to stare out the window. It’s all fogged up. So is the story of my current dating situation. Gotta love it.

“Just don’t play your hand too fast is all.” Davis hands the driver a twenty and slips out of the cab. He opens his umbrella and holds out his hand towards me. “Quality women usually get quality men. It just does not happen on the time table you may have set for yourself.”

Waiting for the phone to ring

There are few circumstances more angst-invoking than waiting for the phone to ring. It’s the same whether you’re a guy or a girl: when you’re anticipating a call from someone you just met, there’s all kinds of nervousness going on. As each minute ticks by, you begin to wonder if maybe you read the situation wrong. Maybe there’s no interest at all. You replay the last conversation you had looking for anything to reassure yourself. He said he looked forward to seeing me sometime. She asked how my day was. Clearly this indicates interest. Or does it?

My female friends complain about this all time, they give their number to a guy and then sit around and wait for the phone to ring. Guys have all kinds of rules we tell ourselves about when to call. The most typical is the three-day rule, which states you must wait at least three days to call a girl after you get her number. Why? Because calling her sooner indicates that you’re desperate (so the rule says) and will ruin your chances. You want her on the brink of disappointment before you swoop in and remind her you’re interested. Personally, I don’t believe in this approach. I’d much rather tell her the day I’ll call and prove my worth by calling on that day.

Guys get caught in this web, too. You call the girl and she says, “I’m sorry, I can’t talk right now, can I call you back later?” Because you’re polite, you answer, “of course.” But now you’re the one playing the waiting game. When will she call? Will it be later that day? Tomorrow? Three days? This is also why I recommend keeping conversations short and, whenever possible, offering to call her back later rather than waiting for her to call you back. Of course, that’s not always possible and so we, too, are left waiting.

We play tricks on ourselves. If I were returning my phone call, when would I call? About the same time the next day, probably. Except if I were busy at that time. Then I would probably call earlier…or would it be later? You watch the clock and try not to look at your phone all that often. But you do, just to make sure you didn’t miss any calls. You have spotty reception, so you never can tell. Maybe they had plans and so can’t call back until the week. Oh no! What if they lost my number? And on, and on, and on…

It doesn’t feel like it at the time, but this is one of the most enjoyable experiences in the early part of dating. Why? Because of the feeling you get when they actually call. When your phone rings and you see that number, your heart leaps. All the waiting and angst and that little ball of nerves in your stomach all vanish and are instantly replaced with excitement. Excitement over what might be.

Side note: I can now be followed on Twitter via @zack_taylor, where I’ll be updating with small tidbits of advice and give you more insights into my personal dating life. Hope to see you there.