Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Adult Book Reports: The Phantom TollBooth

I recently reread the wonderful classic "The Phantom Tollbooth" By Norton Juster. This is a book about how most people are shitty and stuck in their ways you should probably ignore most of them. Also don't waste time and being bored is just not really an acceptable thing to be so if you're bored keep it to yourself because you're a drag and no one is having it.

In conclusion, you should read it your fucking self.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

A Different Kind of Miserable

A Different Kind of Miserable

We are innately driven to reconcile our loneliness (yes I know I’ve used this sentence before), and some of us seem to sort out the logistics pretty early on by finding someone who is willing to agree to keep you company UNTIL YOU DIE (in theory). I’ve been having some thoughts and feelings about all that.
So you found someone who you trust and adore and with whom you want to share a life and you have faith that you’re going to grow and change together in blissful synchronicity and that you won’t end up estranged and bitter and wishing you had banged more people when you were hot? Congratulations!
That’s really special and I’m glad it’s working out. You might want kids and a stable life and some assurance that there’s going to be someone around to deal with you when you’re old and icky. That’s great because someone needs to be in charge of making more people. We obviously don’t have enough people so I'm really glad you're on board to make that happen. And hey, I’m worried about being old too! Worried enough to feel compelled to sign a piece of paper that says I’m done figuring out what I want in the interim? Not quite. I’m not saying I can’t see myself being very happy in a long term committed relationship, and I know that doing so wouldn’t necessarily undermine my independence, but I have zero anxiety about the fact that I might not find that person any time soon. I don’t believe that the misery that can come with loneliness is any more miserable than the misery that two people can cause one another.
Love is not a prize that you win for being wonderful. It’s easy to fall into the trap of viewing the lack of a romantic relationship as a sign that something is wrong. Following that logic, you might give love away to someone because you do find them wonderful and want to be close to them as a way to resolve your own insecurities. Love isn’t always a generous act. It can be both selfish and extremely detrimental to your own self esteem. If you are enamored of someone because they represent an alluring experience which is outside of your own, then you run the risk of subjugating your own values and interests in favor of theirs, at least while you’re together. You also run the risk of turning the subject of your love into a symbol for what you want your own life to look like, and in doing so you assign him or her to an intangible realm of idealism in which he or she can never become an equal partner. It’s tempting to look for the missing pieces of your life in another person, but if you don’t do the work to make your life look how you want it to while you’re alone then there will always be a crackling void of uncertainty between you and your significant other.
Sorry about that last paragraph, guys. That was a bit much. If you know me you might be scratching your head a bit seeing as I was in what would be considered by most to be a long-term, committed relationship not so long ago. My best explanation for how that happened is that shit was different when I was 19 and the whole long term thing sort of snuck up on me. I really do value intimate companionship and it never occurred to me that I was allowed to have that with someone I wasn’t exclusively beholden to in some way.

Either way, that was then and this is now and what I’m doing now is trying to appreciate the people who come into my life for what they have to offer and not for what I want from them. This approach might not be sustainable, and sometimes I put myself in a position where I am more than likely going to get my feelings hurt because I am genuinely excited that everyone I meet might be in my life in some form and some of those people aren’t so much looking to know me in any extended way so they’re all like “Heeeeeey calm down over there.” and I’m all like... “ :(  K“.

I should probably mention that I have a straight male best friend with whom I regularly hold hands and take naps and who I occaaaaaasionally kiss on the mouth. And we used to date. And I spent Easter with his family? So I might be cheating a little bit so far as the whole resolving loneliness “on my own” thing is concerned but our exchange is far more honest and relaxed than it ever could have been had we continued dating.

 It’s a lot easier to get close to someone in a meaningful way when you really don’t care whether or not you line up with their pre-existing notions of an ideal mate. I'm hoping that I can take a little bit of what I've learned from this friendship about love and mutual respect and carry it over to all of the connections I make in life, even if they're far less involved. The whole thing might be problematic if either of us were in a relationship but keeping someone at a distance just in case a bonafide suitor shows up seems like an awfully silly way to live life.

I know that I'm not the first person to think there might be a better way to do this whole love/relationship/lifeplan thing. I'm not saying that I want to lead a strictly polyamoruos lifestyle(crediting a guy I met online for my use of that particular term), or that I'm even actively pursuing new relationships at the moment. Frankly I'm having a hard time managing my time as it is and I'd like to focus on being as good of a friend as possible to the people I already know rather than spend too much time meeting new ones.  I simply seek to challenge my own understanding about what a relationship "working out" means and hopefully get a little closer to figuring out what I want, and how I can be relatively happy in a sustainable way without leaving a trail of emotional wreckage in my wake.

Monday, June 2, 2014

How I Know That I'm Pretty Much OK

A couple of months ago I went on a date with someone (via OKcupid) who was a little too easy to internet stalk in advance. I found his website, which included videos of his various achievements and artistic endeavors. I had a lot of time to review this various material and by the time we met I was a bonafide fan. I typically find no correlation between my feelings about a person's talent and my feelings toward them as a person (sexually or otherwise) but I couldn't turn down the opportunity to spend time with someone who was, by my estimation at the time, somewhat brilliant.

There was also the small matter of his looks. His face was classically handsome but colored with the intrigue of permanent exhaustion and he had a subtle darkness to his style. His look was (or is I should say, as far as I know he isn't dead) somewhat divergent from my current taste in men, but absolutely everything I was looking for when I was 15. I should mention that he was 31 at the time, so the style I'm describing isn't that of a young man trying to appear wearily recondite on purpose, but an adult who just is that way through circumstance. Or at least that was my impression. Maybe he spends hours in front of the mirror every morning to create that effect. If you can't tell by now I didn't end up getting to know him that well.

We met for coffee in the West Village on a Saturday night which then turned into drinks which then turned into "oh shit its 4 AM and they need us to leave now".  So it at least went well enough that neither of us ran away screaming into the night after the first location. I found it a bit hard to relax and talk about myself normally though. Something about being around someone whose work I am enamored of fucks with my confidence and I also didn't want to spend the whole night telling him how funny and talented I thought he was. At one point in the date we passed a storefront for a crepe shop which was attached to a bar. I pointed this out and he responded by squinting at it for a second and saying "Date crepe". I whole heartedly believe that this is the funniest thing that anyone will ever say to me, and at the time I couldn't even laugh because I was too impressed.

That isn't exactly the end of the story, but the only further important information is that he seemed ambivalent about seeing me again so far as dating was concerned and he kept the hours of a clinically depressed bat* so I didn't see much point in angling for another date*. Rather than being bummed about it not "working out" ***, I was kind of just thrilled to have had the experience. In college if someone to whom I had this kind of positive reaction didn't give me enough attention, I would have fallen apart and spent my nights weeping into a bottle of Andre sparkling wine while listening to John Mayer. Currently it would seem that I am able to appreciate my dating experiences for what they show me about myself, as well as for the simple pleasure of spending time with an interesting person, without escalating into a state of emotional instability. I'm happy to say that I have yet to wake up crying on my floor while puking cheap wine into a paper bag since being single. I wish I could say the same for my 18 year old self.

*The guy wasn't depressed as far as I know. I just think a depressed bat would probably keep similar hours to someone who makes a living writing/telling jokes and creating art.]
** I didn't NOT show up at his door partially unannounced later on, but that was due to entirely unrelated dysfunction.
*** The post after this one elaborates on the fact that I don't know what "working out" even means to begin with.