Monthly Archives: March 2012

“On Love”

I just finished reading “On Love,” a novel by Alain de Botton. He’s supposedly famous for “How Proust Can Change Your Life” but I’d never heard of him; this was his first novel. I found this book in my building’s “free box” and thought it sounded…interesting. Well, imagine a text book about love. With numbered paragraphs, the process of falling in love is carefully and logically explained by the protagonist who finds himself, quite suddenly, immersed in that process. It is, in ways, as logical and clinical as say, a treatise on Sociology (or any other -ology). However, being about love, which is anything but logical or clinical (or even explicable), the poor guy struggles with understanding his irrationality.

Sigh. That sounds like academic gobbledygook and doesn’t do the book justice. It was both interesting and charming, as in I felt “charmed” by the man’s words and emotions. As he desperately attempts to deconstruct love, his miserable failure to do so captures the way we all feel as we fall. And “falling” is the ideal word: that helpless experience of losing control.

There were a few passages I dog-eared because they were so great:

“In the oasis complex, the thirsty man imagines he sees water, palm trees, and shade not because he has the evidence for the belief, but because he has a need for it. Desperate needs bring about a hallucination of their solution. Thirst hallucinates water, the need for love hallucinates the ideal man or woman. The oasis complex is never a complete delusion; the man in the desert does see something on the horizon. It is just that the palms have withered, the well is dry, and the place is infected with locusts.”

How true this seems to me. It explains how someone who is a single, free-spirited dominatrix one day can become a happily married 9-to-5’er the next. She merely hallucinated her need for love and — voila! — the perfect man presented himself. Thus explains my inability to find “the perfect man”: I have not yet hallucinated the need for love. Perhaps next week…

“Dr. Saavedra had diagnosed a case of anhedonia, a disease defined by the British Medical Association as a reaction remarkably close to mountain sickness resulting from the sudden terror brought on by the threat of happiness. It was a common disease among tourists in this region of Spain, faced in these idyllic surroundings with the sudden realization that earthly happiness might be within their grasp, and who therefore became prey to a violent physiological  reaction designed to counteract such a possibility.”

This “illness,” anhedonia, made me curious. Was it a real illness? Sure enough, I looked it up and it was defined as “Loss of the capacity to experience pleasure. The inability to gain pleasure from normally pleasurable experiences,” and was a symptom of depression or schizophrenia. Hmm. The route being “hedonism” this was the opposite  and one might recognize the copy from antidepressant commercials. How odd — and sad — that there’s a medical definition for the inability to be happy. Having experienced depression I can say that yes, it happens. Thankfully I’ve come out the other side and now find myself often feeling inexplicably gleeful over the most mundane things: my coffee mugs lined up in my cupboard, a clean basket of laundry, the way a new sweater perfectly matches an old skirt. Even literally “stopping to smell the roses” can bring about a burst of joy.

But enough about all that happiness. I know my stats on here are always far higher when I’m cunty and grumbling. I’ll be back to discuss “On Cunty” soon!

Still Scared Sexless?

Still riffing off the whole “alone, lonely, single, etc.” stuff…

I’ve been thinking a lot about how negative I am on dates. Why the hell am I going out with men only to turn my nose up at them the second I sit down? I know before I meet these guys that there isn’t any attraction. (At least in most instances.) Why am I harboring hope? Do I think there will be some magical spell cast as soon as we shake hands? That while their looks haven’t swayed my mind (or heart), their pheromones might influence my libido? Am I putting up walls? Preventing myself from liking them? Or even being attracted to them? Or are they just sad-sack old men who I couldn’t force myself to fuck, thereby condemning myself to eternal fuck-less-ness?

I haven’t felt inspired (which is a euphemism for turned on) by a man in ages. I test myself as I go about my day — riding the subway or walking down the street. Could I kiss that guy? Fuck that one? Hold hands, even? And I haven’t had much luck answering Yes. Have my loins simply become incapable of being stirred? In other words, is it more about me than the collective “they” that I’ve been dating?

And so I ask myself Am I afraid of having sex with someone new? Afraid that no one will find me desirable once I’ve taken off my clothes? Or is it even simpler? Am I afraid of loving someone again, since the last time was so disastrous? I want to believe I’m not scared. I want to believe it’s all possible. And just around the corner. Can I still be scared sexless? Shit. I sure as hell hope not.

(New readers may want to read one of my old posts, written back when I wasn’t quite so happy: Scared Sexless.)

Impatience

In keeping with my last post about the joys (and Freedom and Perils) of living alone, I clicked on the link to quirkyalone.net. Its founder, Sasha Cagen, was mentioned in the segment of the article about odd eating habits and I was charmed by her description of how she “fashions dinner out of ‘discrete objects’.”   Another description of hers:

“Are you a quirkyalone? Quirkyalone: n. adj. a person who enjoys being single (but is not opposed to being in a relationship) and prefers being single to dating for the sake of dating. It’s a mindset. Quirkyalone is not anti-love. It is pro-love. It is not anti-dating. It is anti-compulsory dating.”

I took her little quiz and am, indeed, a “quirkyalone.” Which, of course, made me question my recent dating excursions and just precisely how happy — or unhappy — I actually am alone. Er, single. Yes, on the alone front, I’m enjoying it. I like my privacy; I look forward to being by myself and not having to make conversation. Or shower. But am I happily single? And that leads to the next question: is happiness a decision?

Well, maybe that isn’t as linear to others as it is to me. I believe I am happy because I want to be. It is work. A process. But I don’t believe I’m single because I want to be. At least I hope I’m not. If I were to buy into the whole “you create your own reality” then yes, I guess I want to be single. Or I wouldn’t be. Ack. It is circular. Do we tell ourselves we’re happily single so we won’t appear pathetic? I say I date to “meet new people,” to be “proactive.” (And to provide you with juicy reading material!) Are those really the reasons? Perhaps it would be smarter if I were resigned to being “quirkyalone” and take down all my profiles. Refuse to be fixed up with friends of friends. And hope the universe provides what I…want. What I need. And delivers it (him?) just at the perfect moment.

It’s certainly happened before. I was never looking for any of my previous boyfriends. They all just sort of appeared. But in this moment I’ll admit to experiencing impatience. I don’t want to simply wait. I feel compelled to make something happen. And yet, love is something that really can’t be forced. Or hurried, as The Supremes sang so convincingly. I suppose the best I can do is continue to put myself out there and hope for the best.

Celebrating Solitude

I get all my “news” from Facebook and the other day a friend posted a link to a New York Times article. Her added comment, “Yes, I talk to my cats.” caught my attention, as did the title of the piece: “The Freedom, and Perils, of Living Alone.”

I’ve really been enjoying living alone lately. After years of roommates, boyfriends and even a husband, I now have my own space. And a good amount of it. I eagerly read through the article to see what the perils were; I already know how great the freedom is. And the perils — such as they were — consisted completely of having that freedom…to develop (or indulge) what Eric Klinenberg, an NYU sociology professor and author of “Going Solo: The Extraordinary Rise and Surprising Appeal of Living Alone,” refers to as “Secret Single Behavior.” Of course, in my quirk-filled world, most of these so-called behaviors are pretty run-of-the-mill. One woman uses her drier as much to store her clothes as dry them, another admits to leaving her bra on her kitchen table. Since I don’t have my own drier — or kitchen table — I haven’t indulged in either of these oddities. But I do pee with the bathroom door open, as does the 70-year-old Portland resident and blogger, Ronni Bennett; I also keep strange hours and talk to my dog, none of which I’d call odd.

It was nice to learn that “ 1 in every 4 American households is occupied by someone living alone; in Manhattan, mythic land of the singleton, the number is nearly 1 in 2.” I don’t usually strive to be “normal” but in this instance I felt somewhat gratified that my singleness is so commonplace. I did feel bad for the poor guy who admitted that if he lived alone, he’d be “a fat, out-of-work alcoholic.” No need to live alone for that, eh? But the worry of becoming so comfortable with living alone that I couldn’t tolerate sharing my space with someone else certainly does cross my mind. It would be easy enough to stop leaving one’s bra on the kitchen table or clothes in the drier. It would be much more difficult to relish my solitude if I wasn’t alone. I can understand how “older” couples settle for two separate homes and just have sleepovers. Or whatever grownups call that. So I could keep leaving my bathroom door open…

 

May-December Mugging-Date

A story from NearSay, swiped (almost verbatim) from The LowDownNY (byline Ed Litvak), reports [and I am just pulling Mr. Litvak’s whole article, fully quoted]:

“Police are looking for a man who stole a wallet and iphone from a woman during a blind date on the Lower East Side.  It happened Friday, March 9. The woman, 50, spent some time with her date (who she met online) at Lucky Jack’s on Orchard Street.  She only noticed her personal belongings missing after leaving the man at the 2nd Avenue/East Houston subway station. It’s unclear exactly when and where the theft occurred.
Police believe the suspect is 25-30 years old.  He’s about 6’1″, 165 pounds and went by the name “Hayden.”  If you have any information about this crime, call Crimestoppers at 800-577-tips.”

Okay, I’m not here to comment on the ethics of online journalism. But I would like to point out that the woman was 50 and her iPhone-swiping date was 25-30. I can hear many readers saying, “Cougar bitch got what she deserved! Dating a dude half her age? Pfft!” She’s actually too old to be a cougar (as am I), since the term was coined for 30- to 40-somethings preying upon men fewer than 10 years their junior. Anyway, it is one of the many reasons I’m reluctant to date men who are considerably younger. Aside from the notch in the belt aspect or check that off my who-I’ve-fucked list (Asian chick? Black chick? Older woman? Woman over 50?), both of which fall under the oddities and experiences umbrella, there’s the fear of becoming a victim. Not being paranoid by nature, my mind wouldn’t have gone to “I’ll get robbed!” but, well, here’s real-life evidence that it’s a possibility. And they only had a few drinks together. Imagine if she’d taken him home. He might’ve walked off with even more. And since, well, let’s be honest, the main reason a 50-year-old woman would make a date with a 25-year-old guy would most likely be for an athletic romp between the sheets, the chances of the woman inviting him home weren’t exactly inconceivable.

Obviously any woman (or man) who invites a stranger into their home runs the risk of getting ripped off. It’s yet another peril of blind dating. Add in the whole May-December dynamic and, given that society considers it scandalous — particularly when the May is the man and the  woman,December — and a younger guy may be right in believing he has some sort of upper hand.

I’ve said I don’t want to be some kid’s punch line. I feel there’s less a chance of that happening if I were to meet a younger guy in person: in a bar or at a party. Planning to meet someone from an online dating site when there are a could of decades between us just doesn’t sound…smart. Of course, it’s working for at least one friend of mine. She has her sex delivered, hot and fast, just like a pizza. [wink] And that’s all it is: hot, fast sex. They don’t have much to talk about since, well, what does a 22-year-old have to say to someone twice his age? The few times I’ve wound up in bed with a guy that much younger, I was shitfaced drunk and not much in the mood for conversation. Which leads me back to not being completely opposed to a May-December hook-up of my own. Just not via OKCupid.  It’d be nice to have a young man charm the pants off of me. But you can be sure I’ll keep a close eye on my iPhone!

Compare and Contrast

Let’s engage in a little game of Compare and Contrast:

OKCupid is free. You can create a profile, send and receive emails, view all members and take advantage of almost all the site offers for nothing.
HowAboutWe is not free. You can create a profile and post a suggested date for free but in order to send or respond to emails or see who has viewed your profile, you need to pay. And it ain’t cheap.

Over the past few days (honestly, over the past few years, but you get my drift), I’ve been conversing with a number of men online. Many of them are of no romantic interest but seem interesting nevertheless. Since I make it pretty clear in my profiles that a casual meeting with the goal of friendship is probably the best plan, I’d been arranging meetings. Or trying to.

Yesterday, two men came to visit me at the bar. One from OKCupid and one from HowAboutWe. The only reason I was able to communicate with anyone on HowAboutWe was because they’d had a St. Patrick’s Day promotional offer: three days free. I took advantage by responding to the men who’d emailed me.

The first to arrive was Phil. Our correspondence on OKC had been entertaining. The man is brilliant: witty, clever, has a wonderful way of words. He is also 70 years old, which puts him just a wee bit outside my usual age parameters. But the fact that he was funny and smart made me want to meet him. I had suggested coffee or tea or a local diner but after a few back-and-forths and late responses, he wound up sitting across the bar from me. And he was just as smart and witty and personable live as he’d been online. His hearty laugh, full head of hair and British accent didn’t hurt a bit, either! He was a delight. I look forward to seeing him again. As friends.

The other man was…shit, I can’t even remember his name. He had responded to my “HowAboutWe…rendezvous while I’m working. I’ll be behind the bar, you’ll be in front of it. And if we hit it off, who knows? I work Wed. & Sat. noon till 8pm. (Sorry I can’t respond to your emails. I haven’t paid to join.)” Our correspondence had consisted of 14 back-and-forths, mostly about the logistics of my “HowAboutWe”: What if six different dates show up at the same time?” He was somewhat argumentative but since my goal was one of possible friendship and not true love, that didn’t bother me much. Nor did his asking me, “I’m 4’11” and you’re 5’10”. Is that a problem?” Why would it be a problem? I wasn’t planning on marrying the guy. When he showed up, he was as hostile as his emails had been. He was also 60 years old and, yes, 4’11”. Diminutive. Elfin, even. I introduced him to Phil and he ordered a beer. The three of us talked about our online dating experiences and he boasted of his many successes: a number of year-long relationships. He asked me why I would invite multiple men to visit me (as he’d asked in our emails: “Is this working for you? Sounds like a great way to drum up business.”) and wondered how it would work, using the situation at hand as an example. I said, “You and Phil are both here and the chances of my dating either of you are zero. But that doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy each other’s company. Maybe you’d like to meet one of my many interesting friends. Or attend one of my singles’ events.” Then his tiny little mouth puckered into a distasteful smirk and I added, “Ya know, I take that back. I think you’re probably too square for my friends.” The unpleasant exchange lasted a while longer but I can’t remember exactly what was said. I can say he came across as condescending and paternal. Not a good idea when speaking with me, motherfucker! As he was leaving, his parting words were, “If you want my opinion [I didn’t], this is a really bad idea.” I thanked him for his sage advice and said I would take it under advisement.

My one other interaction from HowAboutWe was on St. Patrick’s Day. He had taken me up on my suggestion to visit me at the bar, even though I told him I thought any day other than St. Pat’s would be better, and was one of about a hundred people in the place. He was older (61, to be exact) and I didn’t recognize him when he sat down, mostly due to the fact that his photo wasn’t of just his face and I’d been viewing him mostly on my iPhone. When I set down his second beer, he flashed his phone at me and there I was, smiling back at myself. I guess it was his way of telling me “I know you from an online dating site.” It might’ve been smarter to flash me his profile photo. Either way, I didn’t have a moment to chat with him. When I emailed him later, apologizing for being too busy to talk, I asked why he didn’t introduce himself. He said he thought flashing my photo at me was sufficient to let me know who he was. I asked, “Um, did you think you were the only person I invited? It was an open invitation to everyone on the site.” As all HowAboutWe dates are. Hrm.

My other most recent interaction with a man from OKCupid was the result of their new iPhone app’s “Locals” feature. It’s sort of a stalking tool, letting you know who’s “nearby.” I love to check it occasionally and see if anyone I’ve been interested in is, you know, nearby. I clicked on an interesting looking guy Tuesday night and within a half hour we were having drinks at 2A. He was good looking, 46 years old and in good shape — not a fat ol’ Santa. Oh and he’s 6’5″! Looks aside, he was interesting and hilarious and intelligent and our conversation never flagged. I’m not embarrassed to say that I’m looking forward to seeing him again!

So is the takeaway that guys on OKCupid are superior to those on HowAboutWe? I don’t know. I haven’t met enough men from HowAboutWe to make that judgement. But I can say that based on the two I have met — and the few I managed to correspond with during my complimentary St. Patrick’s Day celebration — I won’t be spending a goddamn dime to join their site anytime soon! And I’ll be making better use of OKCupid’s “Locals” feature more often!

Tawk (ward) ify

In my neverending search for true love — or additional blog fodder — I signed up for Tawkify. It’s an even more complicated way of meeting people than the usual online dating sites: you join, then Elle magazine advice columnist E. Jean Carroll and her staff match you with other members. You and your “match” receive a phone call that connects the two of you. You then have a very brief seven minutes (or 10, or 12, depend on what, I’ve no idea) to hit it off. Uh, yeah, I know. Anyway, ever the eternal optimist, I gave it a go.

The first phone call was not only brief but awkward. I can’t remember the guy’s name or anything else about him. The second (and more recent) phone call was with David, someone E. Jean crowed about as (another) great match, a writer and a lawyer with “a lot to say.” Our call lasted a whopping 12 minutes, most of which I spent in a panic about our conversation being cut off mid-sentence; it’s part of the process. The rest was small talk and, again, awkward. I suppose it doesn’t make sense to delve into a total stranger’s psyche during a severely time-circumscribed phone call but saying, “That sounds like fun” in response to my telling him “I blog to keep my writing from getting rusty, now that no one’s paying me for it” came off as a bit shallow. I mentioned my web site and within seconds he was looking at my photo. I have no idea what he looks like. I also gave him my phone number. (I KNOW!) I was about to tell him not to call immediately after our conversation got cut off because a friend was on his way over but…I got cut off. And he called. And I told him a friend was on his way. When I asked if we could chat later, he said he was going to bed soon. At 11. I guess he wasn’t excited enough about talking to me to stay up past his usual bedtime. Oy.

E. Jean is interested in getting members to become matchmakers themselves and I think I’d probably make a better matchmaker than match made. I’ll assume the offices are in Manhattan, since E. Jean has made repeated references to the dearth of decent men here. I also responded to an ad today on Craigslist from a matching making service. We’ll see!