Pumped, stumped and dumped: A week on OkCupid (Part 1)

Yes, I took the plunge. After almost two months of being single I decided to try out this whole online dating thing. Don’t get me wrong, at this point I had met a few people at bars, the climbing gym, and on the bus (oh boy, is that a story) so the issue wasn’t really an inability to meet men. I never really felt I was able to fully put myself out there because of my job, my investment in friendships, and a pretty active lifestyle. Seriously, putting yourself out there is a bit exhausting and you have to deal with a lot of creepers, so at the end of two months I was emotionally drained from all the late nights at bars, interrupted reading time at coffee houses, and being propositioned by a ganga grower I sat next to for 30 minutes on the bus. It’s not like I am turning to online dating because I feel this desperate need for male attention or a relationship, I was more driven by curiosity since my only dating experience before now has been within a high school or college campus environment.

I'm a-strummin the guitar so the girls will be a-comin.

College: where you find boyfriends just by following the sound of a guitar.

I set up a profile last week at OkCupid; it is pretty quick depending on how much information you want to share. You slap up a few photos, list your favorites movies, music, hobbies, and even get down to the nitty gritty details like your height, body type, and how much money you make. I felt like I was placing an ad for myself on Craigslist (no, not like THAT you sicko) while trying to make myself sound like the coolest person ever. A few of the questions were hard to take seriously, so I didn’t. (“The most private thing I’m willing to admit,” really? You think I’ll type that up right now on the FOREVER INTERNET?)

Two minutes after I posted my profile I had six messages from willing suitors. Don’t call me a braggart, it’s just how the internet works. I’m willing to bet there are hundreds of people just in the Portland area logged into OkCupid trolling the market on an hourly basis, maybe even more frequent than that. You can message back and forth with a person on an instant message feature and I downloaded the app on my iPhone so I was already in the middle of ten different conversations on my bus ride home from work. Luckily there’s a handy “Block” feature where you can ignore the creepers that like to say “Hi” by offering you oral sex and their hairy bodies. <shudder>

My profile brings all the boys to the yard...

My profile brings all the boys to the yard…

You can even view who has visited your profile (much like LinkedIn) and see with whom OkCupid matched you using their highly sophisticated algorithm. This is dependent on you answering dozens of questions about your personality, personal philosophy, political/religious beliefs, and sexual needs (these get awkward and very personal, like “Fifty Shades of Grey personal”). You are encouraged by the peeps of OkCupid to fill out as many questions as possible with the insistence that the more you answer, the more accurate the matches.

I set up a date with Man #1 for the next night. Yes, it’s that quick. I was so excited about this date because it would be the first somewhat “blind date/meet-up” I’ve ever done and I was determined to WIN (because everything is a game to me). You could say that I was…pumped…?

Rule #1: Meet at a common place. Don’t let a strange man pick you up where you live. That’s stupid.

We met at a restaurant for what I thought would just be “drinks.” I remember liking the way he looked in his pictures, he was a huge fan of the same kind of music and Arrested Development, and we had a lot of fun chatting over IM. When I walked up to him in the bar I immediately felt like an asshole because the first thing I noticed was that he was probably three or four inches shorter than he said on his OkCupid profile. I was wearing minimal heel-age and at 5′ 5″ I towered over him. I have a type, and they are at least the same height as me. He also liked to talk about himself. A lot. Too much. My mind was making this noise.

Rule #2: Don’t let yourself have high expectations. He’ll just let you down..

After a chat over a neat Buffalo Trace and three Blue Moons (yes, the latter were all his and served in conspicuous foot-long glasses with a giant orange slice) he said that he was going to check on our table. My heart dropped. I thought this was only “drinks” so I was actually on my way out as soon as my whiskey finished making its heated way into my belly. I was exhausted from listening to this guy obsessively discuss his job, his truck, and quoting lines from each and every Arrested Development episode ever made and I definitely didn’t want to sit through another two hours while we try to order food in a very busy restaurant. I sighed and downed my whiskey before a host guided us to a table.

Buffalo Trace: Is it in you? (It better be if you want to get through this date.)

Buffalo Trace: Is it in you? (It better be if you want to get through this date.)

Rule #3: Don’t be afraid to leave. It’s okay, really.

At this point I should have clarified with my suitor that I could only stay for one drink and then excuse myself for some other dinner plans. But I didn’t. I don’t know why. Yes, I do: I avoid confrontation as a rule, am a pushover for free food, and since he was buying everything I ordered another whiskey (he had another two Blue Moons) and stuffed my face with bread while he went on and on about his family origins from Western Europe. The dinner lasted two hours. Oh god, it was a loooooong two hours and I think I only said about a dozen sentences the whole time and that was difficult enough. I had to stay to fake my intention of splitting the check, but when it came he let the waiter talk him into signing up for the restaurant chain’s rewards program. If you are a man and reading this, do not ever decide that the right time to fill out an application for a credit card is while you are on a date. It’s tacky and it’s weird.

Rule #4: Don’t give your phone number to men if you’re not interested. It’s mean.

The date ended only with a hug (thank god, I didn’t want to have to starfish his face with an open palm) but he asked for my phone number. I am a people pleaser by nature and usually say “Yes” to things without thinking, so I gave it to him. This was not so smart, nor kind. I knew I didn’t want to date this guy. I knew I didn’t want to have to suffer through another moment of him listening to his own voice go on and on and on about the size of the rims on his truck. And yet, when he asked anxiously for my number after saying that I “was such a great listener” (you made it easy, buddy) I still gave it to him. This made me feel like a horrible person when I then ignored his texts for five days. If you are a man and a woman doesn’t text you back after receiving 20 text messages over the course of five days, she’s not interested, leave her alone.

So that was my first experience, but it’s not the juiciest or the creepiest or the scariest, so tune in for next time so you can learn from my horrible, stupid mistakes (I may or may not have gone out with a crackhead, still debating).

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Why I get inked.

I have three tattoos and I love them all. No regrets, no embarrassment, no bad experiences. I just got my third one a week ago and I’m already gunning for more!

Part of why I love getting tattoos so much is the process beforehand. The masochist part of me also enjoys the pain but I don’t want to make you uncomfortable…

Who am I kidding? I don’t care. But I will talk about that later.

I have been fascinated with tattoos since I read this as a kid:

And this tattooing had been the work of a departed prophet and seer of his island, who, by those hieroglyphic marks, had written out on his body a complete theory of the heavens and the earth, and a mystical treatise on the art of attaining truth; so that Queequeg in his own proper person was a riddle to unfold; a wondrous work in one volume; but whose mysteries not even himself could read, though his own live heart beat against them; and these mysteries were therefore destined in the end to moulder away with the living parchment whereon they were inscribed, and so be unsolved to the last.  ~Herman Melville, Moby-Dick

My tattoos aren’t like makeup, an augmentation to temporarily change the way I look and then wash off at the end of the day. My tattoos are a part of me, an extension, amplification, of my being. My process for getting tattoos is this: pick something that is both meaningful and beautiful, and then find a way to portray it to the world in a way that represents who I am. 

Dove Tattoo

Exhibit A: First tattoo (right ankle).

*Note: All photos are right after I got the tattoos (before they healed).

This was my first experience paying a stranger to permanently etch something into my skin so I went with a script, which I highly recommend for other needle virgins. I found the dove from a design I saw on the web and the script says “Shalom” in Hebrew. The tattooing only took twenty minutes and was the cheapest kind of tattoo to get. It only hurt a little bit (I tell people it felt like scratching a sunburn), and it was something I could easily hide and wouldn’t be very noticeable (obviously not something I care about anymore). I chose the word “Shalom” because I admire the word’s meaning and the intricate beauty of the Hebrew script. Make sure you have a reliable source (in my case a professor at my university) check your translation. You don’t want to end up with a tattoo in Chinese you think says “Peace” that actually means “Prostitute.” I was currently studying Conflict Resolution and on my way to Rwanda and Uganda to study peacekeeping and the Rwandan Genocide for a semester. I cherish the ability to “wish peace” on others through actual words and actions. I am a people pleaser, what can I say?

My next tattoo was five years later, mostly because I knew I wanted something more complex and needed to save up.

Peacock tattoo

I wanna see your peacock cock cock… (left shoulder).

I chose a peacock because they are bewitchingly gorgeous. It’s in the “art nouveau” style which is my favorite; all whimsical and flowy with jewel-like colors. I wasn’t initially looking for any type of symbolism. However, in early 2012 I was discovering the meaning of beauty and dismantling my distortion of its definition within myself. It took me five months to decide on this tattoo. I was about to turn 27 and feeling pretty great about my life. I don’t remember ever feeling as confident or secure with myself and I wanted to celebrate it by putting a stunning animal on my shoulder where it will be seen when I feel my hottest – in a strapless dress or tank top. After I got the tattoo I read that the peacock is a symbol of renewal and resurrection and it only made sense.

2012 turned out to be a shitty year for me and in October I started planning my next tattoo. I call 2012 my “year of reckoning and discovery of what resilience feels like when it counts.” So, a willow tree it is!

Willow Tree

Whimsical foliage is the best kind of foliage (right forearm).

There is a lot about willow trees I love. They are gorgeous, their roots run crazy deep so they are a symbol of strength and resilience (ask any home owner who’s had to have one removed from their property), and they also symbolize feminine intuition and grasp of sorrow. I have been re-discovering and studying womanhood and feminism so an owl (my favorite animal and symbol of feminine wisdom) was perfect to stick in there on a branch. There are also kodama faces hidden throughout the tree as tribute to my love of Hayao Miyazaki films. In my favorite, Princess Mononoke, they are a symbol of health and happiness in a forest or a particular tree.

The choice to permanently mark my skin is a big one and I don’t take it lightly. I spend a lot of time planning and designing these guys. Shauna at Grizzly Tattoo did my peacock and tree (the guy that did the dove no longer tattoos) and is crazy talented but I definitely did my homework before finding her. You should only go to licensed/certified tattoo parlors, not only because it still allows you to continue to donate blood to the Red Cross, but it’s just sensible and safe. Letting a drunk friend lurchingly etch your girlfriend’s name on your bicep probably isn’t a good idea; this isn’t either:

Make sure you choose something that will be meaningful to you 20-30 years down the road. You might want to rethink tattooing your boyfriend’s face on your chest, or anyone’s face for that matter. Also, look at the portfolio of the artist to make sure your styles match. Part of the reason why I went back to Shauna is not just because she’s super cool and hilarious while putting you at ease throughout the process, but because she gets me. She actually understands my style and vision. I took pages of images and drawings in to Shauna and spent about a month just consulting with her before even making an appointment. Give yourself time to get ready and make any last minute changes before you seal the deal.

Also, maybe run spellcheck on your script.

Also, maybe run spellcheck on your script.

Tattoos do hurt, but for me it’s a “hurts so good” kind of pain that makes me feel alive. Okay, less cliché: it makes me feel infinite, yet mortal. I have the ability to feel pain because I’m a human being and because I can feel this pain I am able to distinguish between good and bad; I am capable of recognizing what I do or don’t want to experience. My shoulder tattoo hurt a bit where she had to go over the end of my collar bone, and then my willow tree was testing my limits toward the end, but the throbbing, raw feeling of that needle etching into your skin, and then watching it heal afterward into an exquisite manifestation of your essence makes the experience complete. When I am an old lady with baggy veiny skin and these images don’t look as awesome as they do now, yes, I may consider them a mistake and feel the need to cover them up, but I will also look back at my youth as a Bright Young Thing and remember the pain and how beautifully fresh they looked with fond nostalgia. I’m a big fan of nostalgia. Isn’t part of life learning how not to regret your past mistakes but learn from their reminder?

I am already planning my next tattoo. I will not give any spoilers, but I will say that it will be awesome, beautiful, and with a sense of humor.

A street car oozing with desire.

She’s hurrying through the rain to the street car that is on the brink of pulling away from the oh-so-close stop. There, made it. Whew. The bangs that are slowly-but-surely growing out are plastered to a dewy forehead and the tome-like library books got some rain but they should be fine. Ear buds are pressed into place so that Jeff Mangum sings ever so louder before drops of rain are brushed lightly from a messenger bag. She settles in the hard seat and straightens her back to observe her surroundings.

Immediate eye contact is made with a pair of clear blue eyes and perfectly mussed hair. Male eyes and male hair. Yep, he’s good looking. Male eyes are suddenly looking back and there’s a flash and a jolt as female eyes quickly dart away.

Lean forward.

Look disinterested.

Glance out the window.

Think about what could be arranged or nonchalantly messed. Look out the window again. Is he staring? Does he notice her? Look toward the window across the aisle. She will look at everything but him no matter how much she wants to.

Fingertips tingle, ears buzz, toes go numb in soggy boots; she ever-so-carefully sneaks a glance at the coif with legs through the corner of her right eye. He is staring. Both smile with half their mouth, a mirror-image of the sideways grin, a “no big deal” facade belying a turmoil of fluttering in the stomach region. Both look away.

She feels his gaze return to her right cheek as they pass the park.

Change the music on your phone.

Gaze with feigned interest at a book.

Run fingers through damp hair.

His stop is here and there’s motion toward the sliding door. She looks once more and chances a full-mouthed smile that he mirrors yet again. He steps off and his back is to her. She follows it with the glare of the sun and her own reflection in her eyes. The street car pulls away as he turns his head to look again. He is walking away, smiling at her, hair bouncing, shrinking toward amorphous anonymity.

She holds his gaze, making the eye contact last as long as possible, the streetcar still permeated with the remains of desire, longing, and what-ifs. She stares at this smiling stranger and looks on as he walks full on into an oak tree.

Yep. True story.

This one is about kissing.

How do people feel about kissing on the first date? This is a first date with someone you only met once before at a noisy bar. You had a pretty great date; there was a lot in common, a lot of laughing and joking around, but is that enough for the whole thing to be sealed in a single closed-mouth kiss? Still reeling with contending emotions when I woke up this morning, I promptly went and Googled “first date kiss.” A lot of people have a lot of things to say on this subject.

This is what I image most of these article-writers look like. They all thing they have "the right answer."

“Read my article about love! I have the right answer, not all of those other douche bags!”

There is a surprising amount of people online saying that it’s NOT a good idea to kiss after the first date. This article says that holding off on that kiss can say “I see long-term potential in you” which seems a bit overly-analyzed and too much “I like you and want to have your babies” thinking for me. Then, this one says it is a way to show the other person that you have self control and are patient enough to wait until a better time (it also uses all versions of the word “seduce” and kind of creeped me out).

Careful, he's seducing as your read this.

Careful, he’s “seducing” as you read this.

This guy even lists some very specific reasons, including the fact that he just doesn’t like kissing people he knows very little. The kiss can hold so much value to some people and and can come with certain expectations (second date, interest in a relationship, sex) so he recommends avoiding it altogether to prevent leading someone on, not to mention potential awkwardness if the other person does not want to receive the aforementioned kiss. The article is from a man’s point of view (usually the person initiating the kiss) so it didn’t do much for me on the receiving end but it was enlightening to see how much pressure is put on guys in general when it comes to ending the first date. I am truly sorry for you.

Pictures: Guy about to implode from pressure t not ask if her carpet matches her curtains.

Pictured: Guy on the verge of imploding due to resisting to ask if her carpet matches the curtains.

Why do we obsess about these little things? I went on to read other articles that said kissing is good to do at the end of the date just for the purpose of expressing interest in the other person and making it clear that you want a second date. Apparently it’s all about signals and blah blah blah.

This is seriously a foreign language to me and what is up with all the subtlety?  Why don’t you just say “Hey, I like you and we should see each other again?” Why does it have to be some sort of game with rules, expectations, and non-verbal signals that I don’t understand or detect? If it’s supposed to be some sort of game or sport my expectation is to constantly be fearful of this kind of public embarrassment:

As I re-enter the dating world I have some mixed emotions about all this beating around the bush. When you date in high school and college you are dating younger men that you probably have known for a bit since you most likely run in the same circles. There are no “blind dates” or  worries about first impressions since you are already acquainted with your date. You’re young and just looking for new experiences, not in your late twenties watching your generation settle down with long-term relationships. I miss the carefreeness of it all but this was my life 6 years ago.

It’s nice to know I am going out with men that are more settled and sure of themselves financially and career-wise. I know he can mostly likely afford to pick up the check or the gas on an excursion and will never ask me to lend him some money so he can buy an Xbox (yes that has happened to me). I know that men in their late twenties/early thirties are most likely on the same page as me goal-wise since we have already left behind that peak in our lives when we figure out who we are and what we want so are already underway toward living our lives.

Sorry, Hipster Barista, you're not my type.

Sorry, 22-year-old Hipster Barista, you’re not my type.

So my answer to the question “Should you kiss on the first date?” is: WHO THE HELL CARES?! Just do whatever you want and if it’s weird, it’s weird! You’ll learn from it and move on to either a second date where you laugh about awkwardness or you never have to see the person again and your problem is solved!

Crap, I’ve morphed into Carrie Bradshaw. Can I please have her apartment sans giant mole?

I will take Mr. Big, though.

I will take Mr. Big, though.

So apparently the world might end today…

It’s December 21, 2012. The world is supposed to end today, isn’t it? I wonder if it will at 12:12 or 12:21? In my mind all the ones and twos will align and cause the world to implode. So since the end of the world might be today, I encourage you all to complete everything on your bucket list. Because of the late notice, it will need to be adjusted accordingly (or completely rewritten) so here are the ones I’ve completed so far:

1. Visit Scotland and Ireland… or just go to Portland for the day and talk to strangers in a heavy Southern accent to create some sort of alienation toward myself.

2. Go sky diving again…or jump off before the last five stairs with my eyes closed.

3. Accompany someone famous on the piano…or play a CD of Mariah Carey singing “All I Want for Christmas is You” and plunk along while wearing sunglasses to make myself feel really cool and professional

4. Go to Antarctica and touch a penguin…or when it’s below freezing go to the zoo and stare longingly at the penguins with my hand pressed against the too-thick glass.

5. Publish a New York Bestseller…or publish this blog. You’re welcome.

Good luck!

5 ways to stave off boredom whilst home alone (that have nothing to do with the internet).

When the weather turns all icy and soggy (only in Oregon is it both these things at the same time) and the sun goes down at lunch time, there’s only so much you can do to keep yourself sane until it’s Spring again. Believe me, I love love love Christmas and all the schtuff that comes with it; I love the presents, songs, family time, pie…OOOOOO do I love pie….
Pie

Oh, and Cool Whip, too.

That’s pumpkin pie by the way, just in case you were wondering. The reason I eat pie may be 25% “because it’s pie” and 75% “because I can put Cool Whip on it.”

But back to the woes of being stuck inside all winter. I mostly dread the time after the holidays, when there’s no Christmas magic to get me through the dark, dreary day. If it snowed more on this side of Oregon it wouldn’t be so bad, but all there is is rain rain rain and more rain. Yeah yeah yeah, I purposely live in Oregon and should just deal with what I got but it doesn’t mean I have to like it. But when you find yourself home alone and are tired at staring at a computer all day, here are some things I do to pass the time. If you have anything to add to this list, please share it – I’m always interested to know how other people pass the time by themselves, especially if it’s awkward and unusual.

  1. Read a book… to your pets. I’ve mentioned this before, but reading aloud to your pets can be very soothing and time consuming, especially if your goal is to finish a whole book. Plus, pets love it when you talk to them. You’ll have a captivated audience and maybe even discover some unusual incites in the process.
  2. Organize your books and movies by genre, instead of alphabetizing. There is only one way to alphabetize, so mix it up a bit by going through each item and determining if it belongs in “Action,” “Thriller,” “Disney cartoon,” or “Weird Anime that I watch once a year when I desperately need to escape the real world.”
  3. Take a walk in the rain. Don’t take an umbrella. A rain coat is okay. Yes, you may feel like a drowned rat while pitying commuters pass you by in their SUVs, with the occasional puddle splashing you in the face, but the freedom you will feel is astounding. Just take my word for it.
  4. Turn on the TV and adjust your dial to the Hallmark Channel. It’s Christmas time and they’ve got some amazingly Christmas-y, cheesy stuff that will make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside. Until the end of December these movies are on 24/7. Hallmark is like an old friend – always around when you need heartwarming tales of people finding true love during the holidays and whole towns coming together to help single destitute mothers on Christmas Eve.
  5. Put some Enya on at a high volume in your living room and pretend this is your debut with the New York City Ballet. Optional: Your pets can be your audience again as you gracefully pirouette and plie across the carpet. You’ll feel like that one famous ballet dancer. Just try it, it will be great. Another option to mix things up: Do it naked.

Here’s one way to use a Bible (and it doesn’t involve reading).

Let me introduce you to someone…

20121116-203546.jpg

Meet Chester.

Yup, that’s a FACE growing out of my wrist. Ok, just kidding, the face is an aftermarket add-on but the tumor part of it is all real, baby.

Here’s a side shot for your viewing pleasure:

Well, hello! I didn’t see you there!

The less scary word I use to describe this bad boy, besides “Chester,” is: cyst. My sister, the nurse, informed me that it’s made up of either air or fluid and might go away on its own. Since it doesn’t hurt, I don’t really care about getting it surgically removed, but she said I could get rid of it by slamming it with a Bible. I suppose the “Bible” part of that recommendation is that the cyst is actually evil and Jesus will scare it out of my body, but mostly I think it’s because the Bible is usually a gigantic heavy tome and therefore worthy of smashing in Chester’s smiling face.

So, I actually tried to do that – smash Chester’s face in with a Bible. I think the main problem was that my Bible has a malleable leather cover and there wasn’t really anything “hard” about it so much as “heavy,” but when I lifted that “gigantic tome” and brought it down on top of my wrist, the first thing that went through my head was SHEER PAIN. The second was something not appropriate to type. Chester was still intact, staring blankly up at me, of course, and did NOT appreciate being smacked on the side of the head with “The Good Book.” The third was “Thank GOD (heh) I did this while home alone.” WHY did I ever think this was a good idea? Do other people actually do this?! They got to be out of their freakin’ minds?!

So Chester is here to stay, for the time being. Maybe he will just disappear some day, or maybe I’ll get fed up with his antics and curb-stomp him on the side of the dining room table during Thanksgiving dinner. For now he’s my “little friend” that pops up to visit when I shake people’s hands or purposely make him say “Hi” to gross people out. He’s the Robin to my Batman, the Bucky Barnes to my Captain America, the Patrick to my Spongebob. In my head his voice sounds like Skeeter from Doug, or maybe more like Bobby from Bobby’s World, and he likes to discuss things like the merits of shopping on eBay in order to support all the “little sellers,” how Portland hipster-beloved IPAs are highly overrated (ew), and the value in establishing your own Roth IRA before you turn thirty. 

Say goodbye to all the people, Chester.

Goodbye everyone!

Oh, and HAPPY THANKSGIVING! Enjoy this for me/us: