Sunday, October 26, 2014

I May Never Wash These Hands Again

I'm kidding of course.  I don't want to help start an Ebola outbreak.  Or much more likely, the flu, common cold and all the other more common diseases.

Seriously though, it's been an interesting week for me.  Particularly the second half of the week.

Some of you already know, but on Thursday I had a discussion with "Becky" online.  It was an odd one, and ended on as odd a note as it began.  She told me she had something to tell me, and the way she said it made it sound like it was something serious.  I'm thinking at this point "dear God, she's going to tell me that she's getting married, and then I'll probably go barf up all the lunch I just ate".  Turns out she only wanted to tell me that she really cared about me and valued our friendship.  That she thinks about me "all the time" especially things I say to her that she later thinks about to make her feel better when she's feeling down.  All of that stuff is very heartwarming, but not quite what I hope for with her.  I told her the truth (which I've told her before) about how I'm glad she's in my life, even if she doesn't feel quite the same way about me as I do about her.  Which prompted her to tell me she's never really been in love, it takes a long time to fall for someone, etc.  By now it was time for me to go back to work as my lunch break was over.  And then she wrote "love u".  Whoa.

Now I come from the perspective that you don't just throw that out there casually, unless you put major caveats on it.  "Love you buddy" or "I love you like a best friend/brother/whatever", those are good ways to use the word "love" without adding all kinds of extra baggage to it.  But saying "love u" without any other context or explanation after the other person just got done saying that they were in love with you?  That's heavy stuff.  Also something I can check off my bucket list: having a girl tell you she loves you.

I followed up with her about it the next day.  I specifically asked her why we couldn't try to make a long distance relationship work.  She alleges (I didn't use the word "allege" with her though) to care about me, and I care about her, we have a lot in common, neither of us is dating anyone else, what's the hold up?  She informed me that she doesn't want a long distance relationship and can't know for sure if she really feels romantically about me until she sees me in person.  Tells me that she will eventually come to the US when her mother comes to visit family.  Doesn't know when that will be but if I'm still single we can see what happens then, but that I should not wait for her.  As much as I would love to believe that this means I can go meet her at the airport sometime in the future and whisk her off into the sunset with me, my gut tells me that this is just her way of telling me she's not interested without telling me so explicitly, and a way to avoid liability if I should "wait for her".  I still do lover her, even thought it would be for the best to walk away.  For whatever reason I just find myself unable to do so.

Now, for the really juicy stuff that you've all been waiting for.

I HAD A DATE YESTERDAY!

On Wednesday, after chatting with a girl from a dating site for about a week, we exchanged phone numbers and I asked her out.  We met up at a Fall festival in our area.  I'm not going into explicit details in case she stumbles upon this blog (highly unlikely but you never know).  I will say though that she was a lot prettier in person than she was in her photos.  That's happened with pretty much every girl I've met from dating sites, so I was happy to see that trend continue.  Also, she had a lovely voice, I love accents and she had a sexy one.  She seemed kind, well rounded, interesting and smart.  All of the things that I tend to like in a woman.

I can also cross some other things off the bucket list.  We held hands.  I had already broken the "touch barrier" prior to this (touching her back, touching her leg when we were sitting and talking, etc.) so maybe that had warmed me up to it, or maybe I remembered all the reserved dates I went on when I didn't go for hand holding and wanted to, I don't know.  But I did it, and she didn't recoil in horror or pull her hand away or none of that.  That was amazing.  I tried to kiss her at the end of the date but she gave me her cheek instead.  That could be good or bad, it's really too early to tell.  She also said she was free this week to go out again.  So I will follow up with her and hopefully that works out.

I like her, and I don't want to compare her to Becky, because I think it's unfair to compare the two given the circumstances.  But no matter how it works out with this girl, I've made some major strides: first time I've ever kissed a girl (on the cheek, but still counts), and first time I've held hands with a girl.

One last thing.  If things do work out with this girl (or even if they work out with Becky), I want to make a promise to readers: I'm not going to turn into one of those douches who gets one girlfriend and is suddenly the expert on dating.  I don't know jack shit about dating.  I lucked into this date with this girl.  I have no clue in the slightest how to replicate that success.  I will continue to give opinion and sometimes advice from my perspective, but I will never claim to have any kind of authority on the subject of love and romance.  If I ever become that guy though, please copy and paste this paragraph and send it to me as a comment, tweet, email, or something.

Anyway, I'm not sure if this is the longest blog post I've had.  Maybe it is I'm not sure.  I just wanted to let you guys know that The Inexperienced Guy is slightly less experienced as of yesterday.

Enjoy your Sunday everyone.  :)

Addendum:

So much for the good vibes.  I was quite excited to call this girl tomorrow to ask her out again.  Unfortunately, I will never get the chance.   She texted me tonight to tell me she wasn't interested in a second date.  Something about having different personalities or whatever.  The specifics don't matter,  What matters is that there will not be another date with this girl.  I'm not broken up necessarily over one girl, it's that I feel like this is how everything ends.  Always.  Doesn't matter how well a date goes or how poorly.  There will always be a bad ending.  Always.

My shields are up.  I really can't go through this again.  One more time and I think I will have a psychotic break.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Sunday, October 19, 2014

The Depressing Season

Halloween is a big event on the calendar for me.  Not so much because I do anything particularly special for Halloween (last year was the first time I had actually even gone to a Halloween party) but because it's the last day before the start of what I call the "depressing season".  It's that time when the weather starts to get cold and people like to cuddle up next to the fire place (or just their home with the heat on) with a significant other.  And the colder weather is bolstered by a slew of holidays that often involve those significant others: Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year's, and Valentine's Day.

I've said this before when people ask me what the toughest part of the year is to be single (and dateless).  And my answer is always November-February.  No one to invite over for Thanksgiving, no one to buy gifts for at Christmas, nobody to kiss at New Year's, and obviously no one to spend Valentine's day with.  And I totally get the Valentine's Day is a total rip-off and a "Hallmark holiday".  It really is.  But I feel like relying on that as a defense, is a punk move.  The reality is I'd love to experience the stress that Valentine's Day can be at least just once, instead of treating it like any other day as I have been for a while now.

There is something amazingly romantic to me about kissing in the snow or walking hand in hand in the cold while looking at Christmas decorations in town.  Or inviting your girlfriend to have Thanksgiving dinner with your family (or conversely, being invited to her family's home for Thanksgiving).  I could be alone in this feeling though.

Of course, I'd love to spend other moments in the year with a lovely woman too.  A haunted house on Halloween, or sitting on a blanket taking in the Fourth of July fireworks, or hell even the baseball games I just went to last week.  Having someone to share those moments of life with is something I really really desire.  It's just, I think the nature of the upcoming season just magnifies those feelings for me.

So, I will look to enjoy this rest of this month as much as I can.  And obviously hope that this time the "depressing season" isn't so depressing.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Ben Affleck, Bill Maher, and Islamophobia

As I'm sure most of you know, Ben Affleck was recently on Bill Maher's show and gave a spirited defense of Islam.  My opinion of Bill Maher is that he is a gigantic douche who routinely spouts horseshit and uses the same old tired shtick.  That anyone even bothers to watch his show for purposes other than derision, really boggles the mind.

In any case, I'm with Affleck on this one.  I am not a Muslim (despite what some people tell me), and I'm pretty sure I never will be.  But that doesn't mean I'm not disturbed by the alarming level of Islamophobia that exists in the world.  It would be one thing if it came from Neocons like Dick Cheney or conservative heroes like Sam Huntington or Robert Spencer, but it comes from supposedly liberal progressives, libertarians, smart people, and dumb people.  It's incredibly sad to hear the same people passionately defend the idea of judging people on who they are as an individual rather than who they are as a group, fail to extend that principle to Muslims.

Furthermore, I find it odd that these Islamophobes claim to be "experts on the true Islam" but when an actual Muslim disagrees with their description of the religion, they dismiss the person as either not a true Muslim, or of engaging in deception to lull people into a false sense of security.  There is no way to have a conversation or meaningful debate with someone who regards people who disagree with their view of the world as liars or Uncle Toms.  I remember when Reza Aslan came to my college back in 2007 and he said he found it ironic that the two people who want to depict Islam as inherently violent are Osama Bin Laden and televangelist Pat Robertson.  That should tell you something.

Acts of terrorism committed by people claiming to speak for Islam represent a very small percentage of violent acts.  In fact in the United States you are more likely to be killed by someone you know, or a police officer than you are a terrorist.  Hell, I'm sure some of you know women are more likely to be raped than killed by a terrorist, yet I don't see any collective freak out over rape in our society, at least not anywhere near the same level as we do with regards to terrorism.

Really though, at the end of the day there really is no one who speaks for all of Islam.  There are the Five Pillars (none of which is war or even the much misunderstood word "Jihad") and the Qur'an, but there are all kinds of nuance and tiny details outside of those things.  You can choose to believe the worst of Muslims, or you can choose to accept that they are no different than anyone else in this world.  And you don't have to be a Muslim to understand this either.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

A Rant

I don't often go on rants.  Well, I do, but they're rants dressed up as sophisticated analysis.  But here's a less than sophisticated diatribe for you:

What the fuck baseball?!

Seriously.

I have said this to people plenty of times but baseball is the single most enjoyable sport to watch live in person.  And I say this as someone who loves the NFL, loves watching football on Sundays, all of that.  Trust me, live baseball tops live NFL games.

But, the scheduling for this postseason blows.  It's just terrible.  I have tickets for Friday that I have to sell on Stubhub because there's no way I could make either of the possible start times.  12:07 or 3:07 in the afternoon?  Seriously?!  I'm not unemployed anymore, I have to go to work during the day.  I can't just hook to see a baseball game.

Beyond that, who the hell is going to be watching baseball on television at noon?  It's not like the NCAA tournament where everybody watches just to see how screwed up their brackets are hours into the tournament and their dreams of winning a billion dollars from Warren Buffet went up in smoke.  I highly doubt there's any gain in viewership by airing these games the way Major League Baseball chose to air them this year.

I know, poor me.  I'm going to make some money scalping my tickets.  Woe is me.  But I wanted to go.  I know as fans we don't really impact the game, especially in a sport like baseball where crowd noise rarely plays a factor.  But you sometimes feel like you might be able to swing the game and you want to be there to do it.  You want to feel that energy along with forty thousand other fans.

So seriously baseball.  Get your act together.  Just play the games at night.  Play them simultaneously.  No one will mind.  Everyone will be watching their own teams anyway and if they absolutely need to watch two games at once they can do this thing they invented sometime in the 20th century called "changing the channel".

End rant.  Sorry if this bored anyone who hates baseball or sports.


Wednesday, September 24, 2014

To Be 20 Again

I'm a bit of a nostalgic person.  Anniversaries of important events or moments in my life are things I tend to remember and reminisce about.  And sometimes obviously look on with regret.

Six years ago today I met "Becky".  It wasn't even like a grand "I met you" moment.  We talked for roughly 10 minutes, give or take.  It was one of those things where I was so amazed that an attractive woman even bothered to speak to me at all.  There was a guy on campus giving out flyers for something or other and when we passed him I was so entranced I said something so totally off the wall.

I any event, I wouldn't speak to her again for several weeks.  I was doing my patented "too cool for school" act.  You know the one where you ignore someone you're attracted to because you don't want to be "that person" who follows them around like a puppy dog.  Eventually though by essentially stroke of luck we'd start hanging out regularly and I was in deep.

I won't rehash the whole story here because I've already blogged about it a couple of times and don't want to bore you with yet another retelling.  What I will say is that it's a bittersweet memory (as all my memories of her are).  That September night, walking back from class.  Me, a 20 year old guy who thought he knew everything about the world but who in fact knew practically nothing.

For the past 6 years I've tried in vain to recreate that, just with a happier ending.  I'm not sure if that's possible.  Nor am I sure it's desirable.

I still dream about "Becky".  I'm sure it doesn't help that I still talk to her online on a regular basis.  I'm not sure what will happen in the future, I'm not optimistic but who knows.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Helicopter Parenting

I am not a parent.  I know it's a big surprise, but it's awfully hard to father children without even kissing a girl (actually reminds me of a "Boy Meets World" episode, but that's another story).  But, I have parents, and most of my peers have parents.  And our parents have parents.  So it's kind of easy to observe the phenomenon that is the practice of raising children.

There are a lot of different parenting styles, but probably the most common one today is known as "helicopter parenting".  Basically hovering over your child like a helicopter and watching our for their every move and every step.  You know, your parents will call up to complain about the grades your teacher gave you, or call the principal up to complain about something or other.  It's much maligned because it looks (and to the children feels) like parents are suffocating their children and stifling their growing up process.

There's an old Arab proverb that says: the first 7 years you play with your children, the second 7 years you let them get in trouble and the third 7 years you explain to them why they got in trouble.  It's a roundabout way of saying that you only learn by screwing up and sometimes learning why you screwed up.  Yes, you can learn by watching others screw up, but experience is almost always the best teacher.  If you always have someone there to watch you and make sure you don't make any mistakes, how are you ever going to learn for yourself?  Especially when there will come a time when your parents won't be there to watch out for you.  What will you do then?

Now, I know a lot of you will be asking yourselves where this is going and why I'm bringing this up.  I recently read a story in which a father (along with his wife) did a sweep of their daughter's room (I guess the equivalent of a cell check) and found a package of thongs under the mattress.  His daughter was 13 and he was wondering if this was just too early for a girl to be wearing that kind of undergarment.  And if so, should he put his foot down and forbid his daughter from wearing them.

I'm no expert on women's underwear.  But I guess the worry here is that his daughter might be trying to dress "sexy" at a young age, an age where really nobody should be sexually active.  I understand that, but I think at some point if you're worried that your daughters underwear choices might lead her to start having gratuitous sex at a young age it might already be too late.  If you've done a good job this isn't something you typically worry about.

Moreover, and perhaps more importantly, I don't think it's a good idea to want to control every aspect of your child's life.  You have to draw reasonable lines and pick your battles.  I understand protecting your kids from drugs and alcohol, or encouraging them to do well in school, and making sure they behave in your home.  But when you try to control everything, including what kind of underwear they wear the lesson children usually learn from that is not to stop doing the behavior, but rather to hide it better.  The mattress was used this time as a hiding place, so next time they'll find a better one.  Maybe a cutout in a book, or inside the box frame.

I'm sure some of you reading this had times when your parents tried to get you to stop doing a certain thing and you didn't want to.  So you just learned how to sneak around and do it without your parents knowing.

Again though, I'm not a parent.  So maybe some of you parents out there reading this think of full of shit.  I just hope that if you feel that way you're not one of those people complaining that today's young adults lack maturity and responsibility and independence, or mock us for being the "boomerang generation".  If we haven't grown into full adults yet, it's because we weren't allowed to.