I do still exist…

I’m still here. Haven’t been dating much. Been working on being okay with myself before bringing another person into the mix.

I did go on a few dates with one girl recently. Everything seemed to be going okay, up until the fourth date. As we left the restaurant, I began to ask when she wanted to meet up again.

Her response, “yeah, I’m just not feeling it.” And then she walked away.

That’s it. No explanation. No discussion. Just “I’m not feeling it.” That’s it. End of story. Two minutes earlier, inside the restaurant, everything was just fine.

In fact, she spent the entire dinner laughing and smiling, and seemed to be having a genuinely good time.

I obsessed over every word I said and gesture I made. I was convinced I had said something so utterly horrible that it had made her do a 180 on the idea of dating me right then and there. I sulked over this for days.

And then, just as abruptly as she ended things with me, I snapped out of my funk and started seeing things for what they were.

She was a very friendly person, but had an incredibly difficult schedule. She wanted to work 11 hours a day, go home and go to bed at 8:30, and spend the entirety of her weekends with her friends or volunteering. Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with any of those things. However, part of being in a relationship with someone – and for the record, I’m not calling this a relationship, as it was just a handful of dates – you have to be prepared to change certain things about your lifestyle.

If you want something different than what you’ve had up to this point, you need to start doing things differently.

In other words, maybe she had some personal issue with me, maybe not. Either way, she wasn’t all that willing to adjust her schedule to fit in a relationship. Without that significant concession, there was no chance of her having a meaningful relationship with me or anyone else.

What she was really looking for was a cat. But she hates cats. So maybe a goldfish.

Side note: I talked her out of adopting a dog. As any dog owner will admit, they are a HUGE time commitment. And if her schedule was so jam-packed with work, volunteering, and other distractions that it was difficult for us to have two dates in the same week, what chance did a dog have of being happy in her home?

So for now, I’m content being myself, and being by myself. I’m okay with where I am. Maybe I’ll meet someone. Maybe not. If I have a good story to tell along the way, I’ll let you know.

At the very least, I’m glad I haven’t encountered this girl yet:

The Re-return of Emily

Emily contacted me again this morning. This time it was a Facebook friend request from someone named Emily with a last name I didn’t recognize. I clicked on the link and saw a picture of a man in a tux and Emily – yes, that Emily – in a wedding dress.

So she’s got a new husband and she’s got a new last name, but she still doesn’t have a freaking clue that maybe, just maybe, she isn’t one of my favorite people in the world.

I’m tempted to accept her friend request, though, so I can congratulate her on convincing a second sucker to marry her (so soon after her first marriage tanked, I might add), and to wish her luck on getting impregnated (via what she described as “weird” sex) with the baby that might ultimately give her life some sort of purpose.

Oh, and I might also tell her that I hope her venereal diseases have cleared up.

Where I’ve been…

I haven’t gone anywhere.

I just haven’t posted anything in a very, very long time. And I may not post much after this — at least not about the dates I’ve been on.

Those of you who know me – the real me – know that I can be painfully self-aware. I may phrase something a certain way and then spend days agonizing over how it may or may not have been interpreted. I am my own harshest critic, and I constantly second-guess myself.

I’m getting better, but it’s still there.

I guess what I’m getting at is a bit of second-guessing in and of itself. I’ve looked back at these posts, and even though I changed names and identifying details of all the women involved, I have also realized that you’re only getting one side of the story: mine. And due to the semi-anonymous nature of this blog, I can’t really offer those women a chance to tell their side (although that would be one hell of a website, would it not?) That being said, I don’t think it’s very fair of me to continue posting these one-sided criticisms when, as I mentioned earlier, the common denominator among all these ill-fated dates and failed relationships is me.

I’m not perfect, nor have I ever implied that I was. I am, however, beginning to look at this site from the perspective of someone who may have been written about on here.

No, nobody “caught” me writing about them. None of the women have made any effort to contact me, nor have any of the comments — as far as I can tell — been from the women I wrote about.

I guess what happened was that I went on a few dates with someone – a lovely girl whose name I won’t type here – and we just didn’t click. Sure, she had some quirks that got on my nerves, but she was just being herself. And asking someone to be anything other than themselves isn’t the least bit fair to anyone involved. After a particularly disastrous date with this girl, I thought about sitting down to write about it, but it felt… mean.

I would have been criticizing her for being nothing more than herself. And that’s not right.

Obviously, things didn’t work out between this girl and me. I’m still single. I haven’t given up, but I haven’t found anyone, either.

As you may have guessed from my last post, I’ve been a bit down in the dumps lately. I’m taking some steps to remedy that, though, and have been doing a lot better lately. A lot of this involves – you guessed it – introspection. But not the kind I’m used to. The kind of introspection I had been doing was highly critical, whereas my psyche has taken a much more objective lately. And that’s a good thing.

After all, how do I really expect someone else to love me if I don’t love myself first?

So I’m working on that, and it’s going well. Slowly but surely. And I’m still dating here and there.

What will I write about on here then?

Stay tuned. I’ll let you know as soon as I figure that out.

Hmmm…

It may be time to get off OkCupid. It keeps matching me with people I’ve already been on dates with. Or, in some cases, people I’ve slept with.

They should really have some sort of “I slept with this person and it didn’t work out so well, so please spare me the awkwardness and don’t match us” option.

Love and Self-Loathing

Every single one of my friends is married or in a relationship that is headed for marriage. I am the only truly single person at most gatherings. And even if there are other single people around, they’re usually wide-eyed, optimistic singles in their 20s, or 40-something visions of what I’m afraid I’ll become a decade from now.

My camel’s back was recently broken by the tiniest, most predictable of straws… But I should back up a bit.

It’s been a rough couple of weeks. Besides my current romantic dry spell, there has been some turnover at my workplace. In the course of three days, two of my favorite co-workers resigned. Because of their resignation, and in light of the current economic troubles (troubles that have caused us to go without raises for a second year in a row), many of their duties will be — at least temporarily — divided up among other employees. The thing that made these individuals so great was that they had the shittiest jobs imaginable but still maintained an infectiously positive attitude in the office. So now our cheerleaders will be gone, and the ridiculous amounts of work they did will be divided among those of us who relied on them to help us make it through our sometimes-bleak days.

In addition to this, the air conditioning systems in both my car and my house broke. The one in the house was covered by a home warranty, but it still cost a bit to get it fixed, and in order for the system to really work well, I should replace it — it is, after all, nearly as old as me. And that’s several grand I don’t have sitting around right now. As for the air conditioner in my car — that’s going to stay broken for a while. I know I won’t be able to afford to fix that. Plus, if there’s a tiny glimmer of hope in that situation, it’s that my gas mileage has shown slight improvement.

Also, yesterday morning brought the news that a young man I know has been diagnosed with lymphoma. He’s 20, maybe 21 — I think his prognosis is good. However, he’s in for a long and painful fight.

I have also been under the weather lately, emotionally and physically. Allergies have mutated into a nasty head cold, and the stay-cation I took last week left me feeling not refreshed, but acutely aware of just how solitary my life is. I mean, seriously, I spent the better part of a week at home, alone, trying to keep myself busy with projects — such as the thus-far-successful lawn care business I started to make up for the raise I won’t be getting this year — but ultimately, failing.

That brings us to this afternoon.

As I walked up my steps, I saw an envelope in my mailbox. It was from two very dear friends who spent last week in Vegas.

“Oh, you’re going to come back married,” I teased. They played it off.

In the envelope was an announcement of their marriage, along with a photo of them kissing, as husband and wife.

Logically speaking, this was no surprise at all. I had actually called it weeks ago. And, I’ll be honest, I’m very happy for them. I’m happy that they have taken the ultimate step and transformed their loving relationship into a full-fledged marriage, complete with tax benefits and everything.

And then, as I’m reading their announcement, an all-too-familiar feeling works its way up to my brain, by way of my gut.

It’s my sense of self-loathing. It’s always been there. In the best times, it was small and easily brushed aside. In the weakest and worst of times, it grows into an enveloping shroud of darkness.

“They have something you’ll never have,” it says. “You’ll never be happy.”

I try to stifle it, but all the other things on my mind weaken my defenses.

“You’re going to be alone,” it says. “You’re worthless and ugly and stupid, and you’re going to be alone forever.”

So I went outside to mow the lawn. I thought I’d sweat it out. It was still there after my own lawn was finished, so I did another. And then two more after that.

And then I found myself back at home, putting away my mowing equipment in the dark, the voice of my self-loathing still reciting its defeatist mantras in my mind.

So here I am, trying to silence the self-loathing by writing about what triggered it — the announcement of a wedding.

Usually, I hear about an engagement, then I receive a wedding invitation, and then there’s a period of emotional adjustment before the ceremony that allows me to be happy for the couple, even if I don’t make it to the actual ceremony because of my fear that the cloud of self-loathing will be given free reign via an open bar. The weddings themselves don’t upset me, but everything that weddings and marriage represent provide great fodder for my sense of self-loathing.

Logically, I knew this was going to happen. I knew these two were going to get married. I knew it before they did (really, I did.) Emotionally, though, it blindsided me like a freight train on a baseball diamond — it was out of left field and there weren’t even any tracks nearby to warn me of the possibility of a collision.

I tried talking to a friend about it. She said, “it’s not about you, and don’t you dare tell [the bride] that you’re sad that they got married.”

She’s right. It isn’t about me. But she’s also wrong — I’m not upset because they got married. I’m upset because I was caught off-guard by my own emotional response to learning of their marriage, which came on top of a lot of other emotionally-taxing things.

So, if you’re the happy couple and you’re reading this (as I know you sometimes do) you know who you are. I’m very happy for you, and I wish you nothing but love, joy, and happiness for the rest of your lives and beyond, and I love you both.

As for me, I’m hoping to exorcise the demon of self-loathing that, in an emotionally vulnerable time, has taken off its shoes and is trying to settle in.

On again, off again.

I am aware that this blog is unexpectedly going down (unlike any of the girls I’ve dated — hey-o!) and I have no idea why this is happening.

So I guess just hang tight while I figure some stuff out, maybe?

I don’t know. Luckily for you, though, I haven’t been on many dates lately. So I guess that’s something.

Jamie (Part Four)

Recap: Jamie’s mom hated fat people. I come from a fat people. Jamie’s mom hated me. Jamie had mommy issues.

Okay, are we all up to speed? Good.

Jamie’s older sister, who also attended our college, was a total ho-bag. Her name was Karen. Karen had herpes. It was a well-known fact on campus. When anyone would say Karen’s name, the eventual qualifier would be, “Karen? You mean Nasty Karen?”

Yep. That’s the one. Nasty Karen.

Nasty Karen never had any problem finding a boyfriend. We’re pretty sure she just hung out around the county jail waiting for guys to be released. Seriously, most of her boyfriends had prior convictions. I suppose if I spent enough time in jail, I may want to stick my junk inside Nasty Karen, too. Jail time does weird things to people.

When Karen found out that Jamie and I were dating, she was pissed. When she found out that Jamie said she loved me — and that I said I loved her back — she was more than pissed. She was reality show mad.

What do I mean by reality show mad? I mean the kind of ridiculous anger that involves things like yelling, screaming, various misdemeanors, and threats of bodily harm. You know, TV gold.

The problem, though, was that this wasn’t TV. This was real life. And it was coming from Nasty Karen, whose most recent boyfriend just got out of jail for assault.

Yes, she really did threaten me. Well, I should say she threatened to have her big, bad, fresh-out-of-jail boyfriend come after me and “kick my shit.” Her words, not mine.

Have I mentioned that I was an RA at my college? If not, I was an RA at my college. I lived in a dorm and was responsible for stupid shit like making sure the doors were locked, and telling people to be quiet after midnight.

As an RA, I had become pretty friendly with the campus police. They would stop by my room on occasion to make sure everything was going well on my floor. Now, these weren’t intimidation tactics by any means. The police on our campus were genuinely concerned with the safety and well-being of the students. If a student was being self-destructive, they wanted to know so they could intervene before it reached a point at which an intervention involved ambulances or handcuffs or criminal charges.

Their intentions were good, and their usual approach was passive and friendly. However, they could scare the shit out of someone when they wanted to.

One of the officers — a guy in his 40s named Dave — stopped by one day and asked how things were going.

“Well,” I said, “this girl I’m dating has a sister who goes here who absolutely hates me, and she recently threatened physical harm.”

Luckily for me, the threat came via e-mail, so all I had to do was press print.

“Wait,” said Dave, “is this ‘Nasty Karen?’”

Yes, even the cops called her that. It was a small campus.

I confirmed for him that it was indeed Nasty Karen.

“I’ll go have a talk with her,” he said.

I never heard from Nasty Karen again… But I did begin getting e-mails from Karen and Jamie’s mom, telling me what a disgusting creature I was, and how big of a chicken I was because I called the cops on her daughter.

I replied, pointing out that I wasn’t afraid of her daughter, but that the ex-con she was fucking this week was really the source of my concern.

I also pointed out that the guy was black, which was sure to make mom even more angry than the fact that her daughter was dating someone with a criminal record to begin with. It was not my finest moment, but Jamie (and her sister, obviously) were the only non-racists in their family.

“By the way,” I added, “Your daughter has herpes, and just about everyone on campus knows her as ‘Nasty Karen.’”

She wrote more e-mails to me after that, but I just deleted them. I didn’t have the time or energy to deal with her. I did, however, have plenty of time and energy for Jamie, and we spent nearly every waking moment together until Thanksgiving break.

As I had mentioned earlier, I was an RA, and every RA had to stick around for at least one long weekend during the school year. That year, I ended up with Thanksgiving. I had to spend Turkey Day in my dorm room. It was mostly miserable, especially when Jamie called me on Saturday afternoon.

“I have to tell you something,” she said, “and I need you to promise you won’t get angry.”

Of course, that’s never a good sign, and I told her that no reasonable person could make that promise.

“Well,” she said, “I’ll just tell you then — I kind of slept with someone.”

That someone was her next-door neighbor, who was 17 and a senior in high school. Apparently they had gotten drunk and/or high on Thanksgiving night and ended up naked.

And then repeated that for most of Friday. She hadn’t just slept with someone. They had been fucking each other senseless for the better part of 36 hours before she finally took a break to call me and let me know.

I was mad. She said she loved me. And I let myself fall in love with her. And as soon as she was in another area code for more than a few hours, she cheated on me.

So after all that emotional turmoil, after the vitriol from her mother, the threats from her sister, and spending hours upon hours telling Jamie that there was nothing wrong with her, she took everything we had — which though dramatic, I thought it was pretty solid for a couple of dumb kids — and pissed it all away.

We tried to make up. I tried to forgive her, but I just couldn’t. No matter how hard I tried to glue those pieces back together, my heart was irreparably broken.

And to this day, that’s the most hurt I have ever been.

Weird…

For some reason, the site was down for a few days. But now it’s not. Or is it? I guess if you’re reading this, that means it’s not.

I haven’t been on any dates lately. I’ve barely done anything lately, to be quite honest. I’m working on it, though. I swear.

Did I mention that I signed up with match.com? I can’t recall if I did or not. Well, I’ve found that some of the people on match.com are the same people on eharmony.com. Great. Fan-fucking-tastic.

At least I’ve got a six month guarantee with match.com…

[Radio Silence]

I am here. I swear. I even bought a membership to match.com. It cost $27 for six months. I had a coupon.

We are in a recession, after all.

Also, I’ve noticed that the spam is not only getting worse, but harder to tell from real comments. So I installed a few new plugins that will hopefully help with that.

My non-dating life has remained pretty busy, which is good for me, but bad for my lovely readers. My ultimate goal is to have more posts about my misadventures in dating than about my lack of posts about my misadventures in dating.

Jamie (Part Three)

One evening in late October, a knock on my door interrupted my studies. And by my studies, I mean watching The History Channel and using Napster to download as much music as my computer could hold.

I opened the door to find a huddled mass of sweatshirts and ski pants, standing about five foot three, wearing two stocking caps and a series of scarves and mismatched gloves.

“It’s frickin’ freezing out there!” said Jamie’s voice from beneath the layers.

“Jamie,” I said, “it’s 48 degrees out. That’s not cold!”

“Well I’m cold,” she said as she barged past me and began to peel off her layers of clothing.

“If you’re cold now, just wait until January,” I said. “Now THAT’S cold.”

As Jamie took off her last hat and scarf, I noticed that her eyes were red and puffy.

“You’ve been crying,” I said. “What’s wrong?”

“I don’t want to talk about it – how cold does it get here in January, anyway?”

“Jamie,” I said softly, “Will you please tell me what’s wrong?”

She sat down on my bed, took a few deep breaths, and began weeping.

“My mom,” she sputtered through tears, “she wants me to come home next semester.”

“Yikes.”

“Yeah. It sucks. She says you’re a bad influence on me.”

“What?” I asked.

Sure, Jamie and I had our “fun,” but we were both going to all our classes, turning in assignments on time, and, generally speaking, being good, responsible students. In fact, midterm grades had just been released the week before, and we were both doing just fine. She had a 3.0 – pretty good for a first semester freshman at our school. I pointed this out to her.

“It’s not my grades,” she said, “it’s my weight.”

Jamie weighed, at most, 115 pounds. Soaking wet. I know this because I had seen her soaking wet (and even supported her full weight once or twice. Let me tell you, sex in a dorm room shower requires a little bit of leverage and a lot of creativity.)

“Baby, you’re beautiful,” I said, kissing her on the forehead as she wept.

“My mom makes me weigh myself every time I come home,” said Jamie. “She’s mad because I’ve gained two pounds since I’ve been here, and she says it’s because I’m spending too much time with you.”

Over the next hour or so, she went on to tell me how her mom and older sister have always hated me – not because I’m an asshole (sometimes I am), not because I treated Jamie badly (because I never did), but because I’m overweight.

And, to put it simply, they hate fat people.

They just happened to have a family member who was really, really into an overweight guy – an overweight guy who just happened to be me.
After I got her a roll of toilet paper (to replace the box of tissues she had already emptied), I sat back down on the bed with her.

“Hey, we are what we are,” I said. “I’m sorry your mom and sister don’t like me, but that’s just too bad. Besides, you’re an adult. They can’t tell you who to like and who not to like.”

“I know,” she said. “You’re right.”

We sat there, holding one another, for an eternity. As we both became sleepy, our silent embrace transitioned from sitting to laying. And then, just before drifting off, Jamie broke the silence.

“Sam, I love you.”