Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Born to be unremarkable

So I’m realizing that life is really, really boring unless I work at making it interesting. I feel bored with my music, my love life, my weight VIGILANCE, my job, my hair and my blog. Bored, bored, bored, bored.

There is nothing inherently exciting or cool about writing songs and then singing them where others can hear. There isn’t even anything remotely interesting about writing songs and then singing them where others can hear. Anything can be a rut and this is mine: I write songs and then sing them where others can hear. Bor-ing!

And anything can be interesting, even - as a math teacher once taught me - the dullest of subjects like algebra (even this blog). It just depends on how you look at it, how much enthusiasm you have for life in general, and how well you’re able to find the fascination in any particular subject or activity.

I am almost 39 and realizing that life doesn’t get any more interesting than this. The process of discovering completely new things (how sex works, what a sprained ankle feels like, heartbreak, etc.) is pretty much over for me. There are no more natural beginnings and endings (like school years) or climactic life arcs (like starting and finishing college). If I never get married or have kids -- and that’s pretty much how it’s looking at this point -- there will be no more major rites of passage or life changes for me. I have to take this and make it interesting for myself.

There will be no perfect job (or even career) that will keep me satisfied for the rest of my life. No perfect friendship to forge or perfect band to recruit (not to mention no perfect boyfriend to find). There is no perfect anything to achieve, attain or (on the bright side) lose. There’s just this, there’s just me, there’s just what I have to work with at any given moment.

I’m probably one of the worst people at building expectations that can’t possibly be fulfilled. Where I got my completely unrealistic expectations about life I don’t know. In elementary school it was summer vacation that was the nirvana we longed for all year long. Then for a while it was the perfect job that I and my friends tried to figure out. And now, of course, one of my main driving reasons to ever leave my apartment is to search for the guy, the “one,” the man I was Meant to Be with. Crock of simmering shit, it turns out he never existed in the first place.

And neither did my Garden of Eden, marriage. That perfect state of one-ness and bliss never was and never shall be. Marriage just doesn’t exist like that.

So what am I holding out for here? In the absence of Mr. Perfect and the never-ending honeymoon, what is it that I am reasonably searching for in all these dates dates dates dates? And given that there’s no golden record deal or perfect performance to attain, what experience of happiness or even okayness am I trying for with all this singing?

I think there’s a a reality of ordinariness that I’m going to have to accept, even if it means my most gleaming and cherished dreams have to be discarded. The reality is that I am not exempt from ordinariness and there is no experience of exquisite bliss that I am particularly worthy of and entitled to. There will be no shimmering morning on which my life will suddenly shed its every-day-ness and emerge fantastic and absolutely unlike any life anyone has ever led before. I will never outgrow the laundry and the indigestion and glide into some state of perfection and peace that will leave me happy for the rest of my days, not even if Johnny Depp himself shows up at my door tomorrow with a pink engagement ring, not even if Gloria Estefan discovers me and begs me to open for her, not even if my stomach disappears and I finally reach and maintain 115 pounds for the rest of my life.

There’s a reality of ordinariness that I’m going to have to accept.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

First Date Etiquette, Women

Single-Women-Who-Date-Men, I think we really only have to remember two things, preferably BEFORE the first date begins:

1. Ask him, "Have you ever been married?"

2. If the answer is yes, ask him, "Are you married right now?"

Do not date a married man. Don't do it even if he's the most wonderful guy you've met in years, even if he swears his marriage is over, even if his wife has lived in another state or country for years. Do not date a married man. Just don't.

Oh, all right. If you have to do it just to learn the lesson, go ahead.

How I meet men

I'm answering this question asked by Modigli: Where do you meet these men you have been going on dates with?

In my 23 years of dating, I have met men using every strategy I've ever heard of, including blind dating, online dating (various websites), speed dating, dating men I've met at work, in my apartment building, in cafes, at church, at synagogue and while doing things like hobbies, volunteer work, political activity, singing in a band, performing my music, going to class and riding public transportation. But these days I mainly just date men I meet through the Chicago Reader Matches online website. (the dating part, not the x-rated part [yes, look if you must]). I just leave my profile up and every once in a while someone sends me an email and we correspond and sometimes meet. I have had very good experiences with online dating. I've only met quality men, that is, men who were nice, attractive, financially stable, usually well-educated, accomplished and interesting. It's just that none of my online dating has led to a relationship.

I've noticed that during the times when I've most actively dated online, I've also met men in other ways so that my active dating periods tend to be very active. After a few months (or several) I'll become discouraged or just bored and "hide" my online profiles and go into a period of dating dormancy. Eventually I'll feel rested and ready to give it another try and then I come out of dating "retirement" and do it all over again. It's not a bad way to live except when I'm feeling depressed which I often do.

Question for women readers: do you agree with the two dating suggestions for men that I put in yesterday's post?

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

First Date Etiquette, Guys

Single-Men-Who-Date-Women, if you get nothing else right on a first date, please PLEASE remember these two things:

1. Ask her questions. For every question she asks you, ask her one back. For every minute you talk, she should talk, too.

2. Do not touch your date. Let her decide when she wants physical contact, let her touch you first and follow her lead. Besides that - no hugs, no hand on the knee, no pat on the shoulder, no touch on the arm, no handshake. Nothing. NOTHING.

To those of you who already do these things, thank you!

Monday, May 23, 2005

Getting Married, Update 2

So, it has now been six weeks that I've been dating according to Steve's plan for how to get yourself married. The main change I've made from how I dated previously is that I now date for quite a while before making any decisions about getting exclusive. This has led me to 1) give men much more of a chance and 2) resume dating a man I really liked but with whom I had decided it would never work. So far, the guy that I've resumed dating is the only one I feel genuine interest in.

Now understand, I have NOT cut anyone off. I've dated several men lately, going on second and third dates, and I have made NO premature decisions to stop dating any of them. I have been with-holding judgment as best I can and that's quite an effort for me.

But I guess I just haven't met anyone extremely interesting to me lately and what I mean is that these men aren't funny: they don't make me laugh. Is it wrong that one of my needs is that a guy make me laugh? I go on SO many dates and while I appreciate interesting conversation and good food, if no laughter happens it feels like some crucial date chemistry is missing. Is that a harsh requirement? Am I being unreasonable? Am I being too high school? If so, I guess I'll just remain in a stunted state. I need the class clown, the wise-guy, the smart-ass. Without laughter, I just won't stick around for that long. And I have been dating some very interesting, accomplished, wonderful men. A creative brain and self-confidence goes pretty far and I have dated men like that for months, but it eventually fizzles out when I realize I'm not really having fun. I need fun.

So that's how the "getting married" experiment is going so far. The good news is that I'm learning to avoid snap judgments. And the guy and I are having a great time (he's very funny) while I delay any decision about getting exclusive until we've been dating for three to six months. That gives me time to finish dating the rest of the world first, before I decide if this guy could be my boyfriend. And I tell you, I feel like I pretty much have dated almost the entire world at this point...years of dating...like dog-paddling with no land in sight...

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Scruples

It’s the 1970’s in my tv. Last week the Oxygen network broadcast a 1980 made-for-tv movie called Scruples. Does anyone remember this? It was a novel by Judith Krantz that was made a best-seller by women of my mother’s generation. The tv movie starred a brink-of-starvation Lindsey Wagner and a very blonde and lean Barry Bostwick (what else has he been in? Why can’t I remember? Anyone?). I used to love Lindsey Wagner. You couldn’t pull my sister and I away from the tv set when “The Bionic Woman” was on.

I did not watch Scruples when it first aired in 1980 (I was 13), but I’ve been devouring a bit every day since I Tivo-ed it a week ago. The fashion first hooked me. The first year of a new decade always looks exactly like the previous decade and by 1980 the U.S. had '70’s culture down. I can watch bad acting for hours if it’s accompanied by gold jumpsuits, ponytails/braids sticking out only one side of the head, belted sweaters that almost look decent only on stick figures and jeans with waistbands halfway up the torso. There were no exposed belly buttons while Reagan was president!

But the plotline finally grabbed me when I watched Wagner make moves on the Efrem Zimbalist Jr. character. She’s Billie, a filthy rich young sexy widow, and he’s Vito, a brilliant film director, and they’ve just met and had dinner together. He visibly pulls away from her increasingly ardent gaze and declares that it’s time he drove her home. She asks, “Can we have lunch tomorrow?”
Vito: “I’m sorry, but I’ll be busy all day."
Billie: “Well, the next day then."
Vito: “It depends.”
Billie: “Promise me.”
Vito: “I can’t.”
Billie: “Well, then I’m not going anywhere. I’m staying right here.” (I guess they’re dining at his house.)
There’s a pause while he sizes her up. He then says, “You’re very aggressive.”
This was obviously a compliment in 1980 because Billie doesn't back off at all.
Billie: “It’s your own fault you know. I think I”m falling in love with you.”
Vito: “And impulsive.”
Billie: “Oh, yes.”

Now in real life any normal guy would then recognize that this woman is getting way too attached way too fast and do what it takes to get away from her. But this 1980 movie wants us to believe that Billie’s declaration turns Vito on because in the next scene Billie is waking up and Vito is bringing her breakfast in bed. And as if that weren’t enough to make me talk loudly to my tv screen, guess what she does next? She asks him to marry her! Oh my god, it’s like a dating don’t-do-this instructional video.

The story just goes along from there and the movie never acknowledges the insanity of Billie and Vito’s foundationless relationship with its perversion of traditional romantic stereotypes. Of course I believe the old, traditional roles for women as passive wives/mothers and men as chauvanistic breadwinners were stifling and exploitative and I would never want to be Ozzie’s Harriet. But the backlash to all that Puritan repression was the free-for-all of the 1960’s and the “sexual revolution” of the 1970’s that went so far to break those stereotypes that it ended up parodying them. By the 1980’s, heterosexual relationships had become these unfulfilling embraces between sensitive men and empowered women whose hairstyles were even alike.

Why I’m going on and on about a 70’s made-for-tv movie that no one cared about in the first place? Because I hold such examples of popular culture PARTLY RESPONSIBLE for the hideous mess so many of us find ourselves in today. Even though I never watched Scruples as an impressionable 13-year-old (thank god), such models for romantic behavior were everywhere in the 1970’s and ‘80’s and they were screwed up. And they screwed me up. I swooned over tender, long-haired, sensitive men and idolized athletically cut, hard women. I knew the way to a guy’s heart was to kick his ass. None of that traditional romance for me. When I started dating, if anyone opened a door for me I balked like a constipated mule until HE went through first. And I was fifteen. Talk about social castration.

Another example from the movie: at the end of Scruples the Bostwick character finally tells the Marie France Pisier character that he loves her. Her response is 100% genuine, you-go-girl outrage. In the first true-to-life moment in the whole movie, she demands to know why he has never said it before. He says, “My mother never told me to before.” Arghhhhhh!! And this actually results in her joyfully bounding into his arms. Ack! ack!

How did we get so hugely messed up as a culture and how long will it take us to fully recover? I don’t want anymore overly sensitized men. I don’t want to castrate anyone else. I want to be the girl now. But, o my god, shows like Scruples show me how far off the path American men and women were for way too long. Such programs didn’t just showcase bad acting. They modelled toxic heterosexual dynamics that I am certain contributed -to some degree - to my 23 years of dating failure.

(p.s. I recommend indulging in watching Scruples, especially if you want to see a 1980 Kim Cattrall!)

Monday, May 16, 2005

Not low on irony

So I had my annual physical exam (a few years ago with good health insurance I made a commitment to an annual physical. Why not? I'm getting "up there"). I spoke to Dr. James Clancy, about my menstrual cramps from hell. He confirmed that cramps can get stronger as you get older and he described two ways to go. I can either take stronger doses of ibuprofen from the SECOND I feel my period starting til the end of it, or I can go on birth control pills. I just looked at him as he described the benefits I could derive from starting birth control pills. When he finished I said, "I don't want to take birth control pills, not because I don't want to take more medication but because I don't want any more irony in my life." He just looked at me.

Friday, May 13, 2005

How to constantly, constantly, constantly date but never actually find a boyfriend

As a dating and relationship expert on how to do everything wrong and wield desperation as an impenetrable shield, I now share my wisdom with you. Girls, follow these rules and you're guaranteed to never get any decent relationship off the ground. And it's so much fun. I'm almost 39, have been dating for 23 years and just can't tell you how much I look forward to the next 23.

1. Use your fantasies about how blissful other couples are as a model for the kind of relationship you’re looking for. Hollywood fairy-tale ending movies are perfect for this. Watch lots of them.

2. Size up everyone you meet all the time, building your judgement skills and perfecting your ability to find out what’s wrong with them.

3. Always trust a first instinct that tells you not to date someone and never trust a first instinct that tells you to go ahead and date someone.

4. Compare every man against your long list of requirements for a boyfriend/husband.

5. Act the way you think he wants you to act.

6. If he does anything to turn you off -- anything at all -- dump him.

7. Seek approval of your date from others. If anyone dislikes anything about him, dump him.

8. If you go on a date with a guy you decide you like, turn down all other date offers no matter how wonderful they are. You must focus all husband-hunting energy on that first guy, insisting that you two be exclusive immediately and fully explore whether the two of you can be together forever. FOREVER. Only when you’ve completely destroyed all hope of a relationship with your fevered desperation, then you can go on to date someone else. If you like the next guy, repeat this process. Do this over and over and over again. Let decades pass doing this over and over and over again.

9. On these dates be sure to constantly view the guy as your potential husband. Feel pressured to love every little thing about him. Pressure him to love every little thing about you. When you realize you can’t love every little thing about him (or vice versa), dump him.

10. Regularly consider the huge amount of time and effort it will take to establish the relationship you want. Stay focused on how impossible it really is. Know you will always be alone.

Constantly date, part two

Women, if you actually make it to an exclusive relationship, guarantee its failure by remembering:

1. Love at first sight is true love and vice versa.

2. Falling in love takes only a few days. Hell, if it’s meant to last, maybe a few hours.

3. Go ahead and have sex early and often. It will make you both more in love with each other in that “forever” way.

4. The second you feel the mad impulse to say “I love you,” go for it!

5. People who belong together, look good together.

6. That shimmery, giddy infatuation lasts forever. If it fades, dump him.

7. Once in a relationship you can stop being nice, looking good or showing appreciation. Be as horrible as you want. If it’s true love, nothing can harm it.

8. If, after a few weeks, you have any doubts at all about being able to love this man forever, dump him.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

The Bluenited States

For all of us who still dream about taking over the "red states," www.bluenitedstates.com offers a concrete plan to do so. It's "One Woman's proposal to take over the world... or at least her part of it." I particularly like the explanation of the "National Graft" and the self assessment test to find out if you can participate in the big plan.

I always knew my friend Ceece Straney was sharp. She's finally using it for good instead of evil.

Monday, May 09, 2005

Note

Mother's Day: Carson's busiest day. Eleven hour shift, no break. Started 1:00 p.m., hit the wall by 6:30 p.m. The hours from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. were very, very hard. Feet hurt, must sit, stare blankly, get up again, re-fill another Coke, bus another plate, more people, more people. Thank god for 10:00 p.m. "second wind." Left restaurant at midnight.

Earned new high: $130. Please tip generously (%20). Now rest.

Friday, May 06, 2005

F@&$

A month ago I ate way too much cake for several days in a row. I put on two pounds. I have spent the past three and a half weeks working on losing that two pounds, which I can usually do. It's not working this time. I haven't lost those two pounds and I've gained a third. WHAT THE F&@%? It figures that just when I decide to accept my body as it is, I start putting on weight. Permanently, apparently. I know three pounds sounds like nothing, but I'm barely 5'2" and I already struggle with self-loathing.
F@&$.
F@&$.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Canada Needs People!

The Gannett News Service reports the following in "Canadian companies woo Mexicans:"

MEXICO CITY — As the United States fortifies its border with Mexico, Canadian companies are reaching out to immigrants frustrated by U.S. restrictions and tempted by dreams of a better life in Canada.

The Canadian government has been relaxing its immigration rules in an effort to attract students and skilled workers from all over the world. That, and the push by companies promising jobs and visas, is attracting Mexican professionals turned off by the Minuteman Project, a civilian patrol on the Arizona-Mexico border, as well as new border walls and tougher U.S. entry requirements.

And:

Mexicans can enter Canada just by showing a passport, much easier than the long, expensive process of getting U.S. visas. Canada also has a widely praised farm-worker program and is aggressively courting foreign students.

The country also has an easy-to-follow process for getting work permits that assigns points based on certain skills. The U.S. system is more subjective, with consular officials wielding the power to approve or reject applications without explanation.


Why does Canada make itself so accessible? They need people:

“Our population is shrinking and getting older,” said David Rosenblatt, a Canadian immigration lawyer whose firm advertises in Mexico. “Canada, in order to survive and grow, needs to get more skilled workers.”

So forget the U.S! I love the idea of our arrogant country missing out on precious resources (immigrant labor and brainpower) because of its racism and weird xenophobic exploitative ignorance. I wish everyone well who passes up el norte in favor of building their "American" dream in el norte norte instead.

Monday, May 02, 2005

PostSecret.blogspot.com

Click here. You won't regret it unless you don't like websites that completely absorb you in a stunning way.

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Carson's - less business than in past years

What the hell....? I'm getting the word that there are at least two conventions in town this weekend and a food show, but Carson's has NOT been nearly as busy as it should be. Friday night I brought home $65. Saturday night I brought home $77. That's pathetic! People at other restaurants are reporting large crowds. Why isn't Carson's busy? This better not be another Arthur Andersen situation. Am I going to have to read the writing on the wall again and get out soon? Please, someone, come in to Carson's and give us some business! Or suggest another restaurant where I can earn a living.

Cramps and Housekeys

What a night. It started with quite a bit of pain that I knew I had to get rid of it before my shift ("monthly" pain, no big deal). The (male) pharmacist recommended Aleve which I'd never taken, but I urgently needed to be pain FREE for my Friday night shift at Carson’s. I popped two Aleve before I left for work and by the time I started the shift the pain was gone but so was my lucidity - I felt like I wanted to pass out! Alarmed at my mental cloudiness, I drank a bunch of coke/diet coke, but I underestimated how much food I had in my system and the caffeine totally fritzed me out: by the time the dinner rush started I was buzzed, nervous and physically shaking. And a little bit paranoid. What a mess. Eating would have helped, but at that point there was no time and anyway I had no saliva flow (again, the Aleve). Even bread or fries quickly stuffed into my mouth weren't going down easily.

By the time the caffeine wore off (and the Aleve cloudiness came back since those two pills lasted me about 7.5 hours), I was through with most of the shift. I was also starving, yet had no appetite. Drugs are so weird. You can never know how you'll react. I finally made myself eat a meal at around 10:30 p.m. and soon after that the Alleve finally wore off, thank god.

Then I went to this going away party for a co-worker which it wasn't as bad as I'd feared, but it really wasn't my scene: everyone was drinking and I just don't like the taste of alcohol. I left pretty early (1:30 a.m.), but then I couldn't find my house keys. One last obstacle to be overcome, can you believe it? Thank god they were in my apartment door when I got home. My neighbors buzzed me into the building. Let's hear it for neighbors who tend to be up at all hours of the night. They don’t speak English so I have no idea what they’re doing but their light is always on.

Can anyone recommend anything for ferocious $%^-damned menstrual cramps from hell? Something that won't put me to sleep? I've never had such a problem before. Do cramps get worse as you get old?