Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Two Dates and He's Out

Recently I went out with another guy that I met on okcupid. This guy had just recently moved here from London. I must confess that one of the reasons I e-mailed him was because he was from England; I've always liked British accents, which I guess makes me a little shallow.

But I will add that a guy with an expensive sports car doesn't impress me very much. I get motion sickness on the swings, so I'm pretty sure that a ride in a sports car would end with me throwing up all over my date. A guy with a large bank account? Meh. If I cared that much about money, I wouldn't have become an English teacher, because I'm never going to get rich with this job. There are some perfectly nice rich guys, but there are other guys who let their wealth go to their heads. Just look at Donald Trump; his wealth not only went to his head but also to his hair.

But a guy with a great smile AND a British accent? Yes, please!

We went out for coffee and then dinner about a week and a half ago. It was honestly one of the best first dates I've had in a long time. He's a grad student like me (though he's in a different field), and we had a lot in common. There weren't any awkward pauses in our conversation, and I didn't feel nervous around him. We talked for hours. I barely checked my watch, unlike one of the dates I went on two years ago, where I checked my watch approximately twenty-three times.

We texted each other back and forth for the following week, and then this past Friday we went out for pizza. I probably shouldn't have suggested that we go to Giordanos, because I love the stuffed pizza there and I could've eaten a lot more than I did on the date. But I suggested that he take home the leftovers, even though in my mind I kept thinking, "Step away from the pizza! Mine!"

Then we went to a show at iO, which used to be called ImprovOlympic, in Wrigleyville. Before the show started and during intermission, there was this guy who kept chatting up my date. Then when he went to get a drink, the guy he was sitting with came back to his seat and also started chatting up my date. I guess they were intrigued by his accent, because they both asked him about England and told him about fun places to go to in Chicago. They saw me sitting there but kept talking to him (without talking to me).

At first I thought it might just be that Midwestern friendliness that makes a lot of people (especially people in Illinois) start up conversations with strangers. I myself do it sometimes. But on the other hand, I couldn't help thinking, Hey! Get your own date, MISTER! Not to mention Wrigleyville is right next to Boystown, so it's possible that that friendliness might actually have been flirtatiousness.

Watching the show (which was hilarious) made me think that dating is a lot like improvisation. There's no script, and it often feels like you're making it up as you go along. You have to read your partner's body language, and you're put on the spot to figure out the right things to do or say to keep your date interested.

At the end of the date, I was disappointed that he didn't kiss me, especially because he didn't kiss me on the first date either.  I did say in a recent post that I prefer to take things slow when it comes to dating, and that is true. But I think that a kiss at the end of a second date is okay, especially if it's from someone I really like. (If a guy I don't like tries to kiss me, on the other hand, I either make up some lie about how I think I might be coming down with mono or I quickly turn my face to the side when he leans in.)

We said goodbye at the train station in Wrigleyville because we were taking different trains. And Wrigleyville on a Friday night isn't exactly the most romantic place to be, especially when there are random guys running up and down the streets yelling, "WHOOO! Go Cubs! I am going to get SO DRUNK tonight!" There are other guys who think that the grass in front of apartment buildings is a reasonable substitute for a bathroom.

I suppose I could have made the first move, but I already e-mailed him first on okcupid, and I was the one who suggested that we meet in person for the first date. I was also the one who suggested that we go out a second time. Besides, I'm not very good at making the first move when it comes to kissing; I'm always afraid that my aim will be off and I'll end up kissing his ear or his shoulder.

He texted me the next day, but it was only one text message in response to a text that I sent him. I didn't say anything about a third date this time, because I was hoping that he would bring it up. He didn't. So yesterday I texted him to invite him to a movie next week. He never answered.

I suppose I should have seen the signs. He deleted his account on okcupid soon after our first date. I asked him why and he said that online dating was too annoying and took up a lot of time. I also thought I might have turned him off when I told him about the time I pushed a drunk frat guy off the train when the train stopped at one of the stations. I did it because the guy wouldn't stop harassing my friends and me, and he was scaring them. Besides, I'm sure Sir Drinks-A-Lot found his way back on the train at some point.

I thought that maybe my date just wanted to be friends, and that's why he didn't kiss me or ask me out again. But I don't think I could just be friends with someone I really like, because what if he were to start dating another girl and he wanted me to meet her? I might try to rip out all of her hair, starting with her eyebrows.

So I'm not going to try and contact him again. It's too bad. I really did like him a lot, better than most of the other guys I've met online. I guess it's back to okcupid, though I'm a little reluctant to try again; I recently got a message from some guy who told me about how hot he was.

What do you think about making the first move on dates? Do you think it's possible to be friends with someone that you have a crush on?

Friday, September 23, 2011

What's the Magic Word?

During rush hour yesterday, I was standing in line to put my fare card into the slot in order to get through the turnstile and board the train. Some woman walked past the line and stepped in front of all the people standing there in order to put her card in the slot. She caught the incoming train. I didn't. If she hadn't cut in front of me, I would have. Instead, I ended up waiting for a train that was several minutes late and ended up on a very crowded train with nothing to hold onto. As a result, every time the train jerked forward I practically landed face-first at someone's feet or accidentally threw my arms around another person's waist. (Doing that gives some people the wrong idea, which really isn't a good way to start the morning.)

Side note: What is it about a crowded train that makes people waiting on the platform want to make it even more crowded? Do they think that shoving their way inside and yelling at people to move back will magically create more space? Or do they like causing everyone else to get their faces smushed against other people's shoulders and backpacks?

Recently, a woman nearly ran me over with her car as I was trying to cross the street (I had the right of way). She didn't apologize, look at me, or slow down.

I was walking on the sidewalk and a guy walking in the opposite direction bumped into me, nearly knocking me into the street. His girlfriend called out, "Don't fall!" and they both laughed.

I told a fellow instructor that I used to work with how hard it was to find decent-paying adjunct jobs in the city. She then proceeded to tell me how one school that we had both taught at had offered her an extra class and was going to pay her significantly more than they had paid me.

Now that school's starting up again, I've been getting e-mails from students that ask questions like, "Do I really need to buy the books for class? How much reading are we going to do in a literature class?" and "I think I'm going to be missing at least three weeks of class. That's not going to hurt my grade, is it?" and "Can you tell me what all the assignments are now and how to do them, so that I can work ahead?" and "You're not going to make us show up on time every day, right? Because I have other things to do."

I've answered all the e-mails promptly, and the number of thank yous I've received aren't equal to half the number of e-mails, requests for appointments, and requests for recommendation letters that I've received.

I was raised to always say stuff like please, thank you, excuse me, and I'm sorry. One of the nuns at my Catholic grade school told us it was important to do at least one good deed a day, and I believed her. (On the other hand, I also used to believe the nuns when they said that thunder meant the angels were bowling.) So I do things like leave tips for baristas, open doors for people, and give up my seat on the train to others who need it more. I was also taught to give thank you gifts and cards to people who helped me, like the professors who wrote my recommendation letters, my hairstylist who made my hair stop looking like I'd stuck my finger in an electrical outlet, and the building engineers who always repaired broken things in my apartment almost as soon as I asked them to.

I don't expect cards or gifts when I help other people.

But it does bother me when people forget their manners, not just with me but with other people. I can't help wanting to say something (though sometimes I lack the courage to actually speak up) if I see a customer being rude to a cashier, or if I see a bunch of drivers honking their horns at people in wheelchairs crossing the street.

On the other hand, when I do see people who go out of their way to be kind and courteous, it always makes me feel better. This morning I saw a young woman give up her seat on the train so that an elderly couple could sit together. Recently I saw another woman giving food she'd bought at a restaurant to a homeless person. And occasionally, when I cross the street and a car brakes in front of me just in time, the driver will hold up his or her hand in order to apologize. People like that make me think that there are still good, considerate people out there. And that gives me hope.

What do you think? Do you think that manners and other rules for behavior are outdated? Or does it bother you when people disobey or disregard those rules?

Monday, September 19, 2011

What's in Your Closet?

I'm moving in two weeks, and I haven't started packing yet.

It's too bad I can't clone myself so that I can make my clone do all the work for me. And possibly arm-wrestle the people who put their cell phone conversations and iTunes playlists on speakerphone in public.

I have gotten rid of a lot of stuff. I gave away several bags of clothes (the ones without holes in them) to the Salvation Army, because I'd had some of the clothes for years. I guess tie-dyed shirts and overalls aren't going to come back in style anytime soon.

I also sold some of my books to a used bookstore. They took my Shakespeare anthology, but apparently no one else wants to read N'Sync's autobiography (don't ask me why I have two copies), which is about all five of the members but is less than a hundred pages. And no one wants to read scholarly nonfiction books with highlighted passages and my notes in the margins that say stuff like, "I can't TAKE this anymore! Footnotes are the work of the devil!"

I've been going through my other belongings and trying to figure out what to keep and what to throw away, because I'm moving from a one-bedroom apartment to a studio. I thought about selling some of my furniture, but my ten-year-old desk is chipped in several places from where I banged my hands (and occasionally, my head) down in frustration. One of the chairs in my kitchen broke when the friend of a friend sat on it, though both friends claimed that the chair was already broken (right). I can't get rid of my two bookcases, because there are already too many stacks of books on the floor.

I have pots and pans that I haven't used since the last time I set off my smoke detector and nearly set my clothes on fire. Normal thirty-year-olds are able to follow recipes and cook food that people can eat without immediately spitting it out, but I just can't seem to get it right.

I still have my poster of Orlando Bloom as Legolas from The Lord of the Rings, even though I didn't like him as much after I saw his performance in Troy. (After I saw his portrayal of Paris, I couldn't help thinking, Jeez. What a girl. But then again, I've always been Team Hector.)

I also still have the first gift I ever received from a boy, a small stuffed lizard that he gave me after he took me to a high school dance. I'm not throwing that out. I'm also not throwing out all the pictures of old friends from high school and college, even though I haven't seen most of them in years. Whenever I want to remember what it was like to be sixteen or twenty-one, I look at those pictures.

I started writing regularly in journals when I was in the fourth grade. I still have all those journals. I'm not throwing those out either, partly because I don't want to let go of what I wrote. I also have this fear that someone's going to go through the garbage, find my journals, and post copies of them on the Internet under the heading "What Not to Write".

My small DVD collection is mostly made up of romantic comedies, partly because I can't watch horror movies without covering my eyes and shrieking, "Why would you go into the woods when you know that an ax-wielding serial killer is in there, you fool?" It's also because even though I know that guys in real life aren't like the leading men in romantic comedies (and I'm no leading lady, especially because I hate shopping for shoes and I can't put on makeup without looking like I was blindfolded when I put it on), the movies still give me hope that I could have my own happy ending someday.

What about you? What do some of your possessions say about you? Which ones would you throw out, and which ones would you keep?

Friday, September 16, 2011

The Creep Factor

I went on a coffee date with a guy I met on okcupid a couple days ago. We'd been messaging each other for about a week, and compared to a lot of the guys on okcupid, he seemed nice and normal. No half-naked pictures of him flexing in his profile. No references to a gun collection. No lines about how he's tired of the bar scene that were contradicted by several pictures of him in bars. Nothing in his profile about how women over the age of thirty should just be grateful.

There was nothing like that in his profile or his messages. We didn't actually have a lot in common. But I figure that even if I were to meet a guy who also happened to be a Type-A workaholic who turns into the human equivalent of King Kong when people annoy him, I probably wouldn't want to date him. I tend to be attracted to guys who are different from me - laid-back, outgoing, athletic, and down-to-earth.

During the date, he started texting once or twice. I felt tempted to say, "HEY! All eyes on ME, buddy!" But I figured that would be un-ladylike, so I didn't.

We talked a lot about our work, because it didn't seem like we had a lot of common interests. Then again, lately my interests include watching episodes of Jersey Shore, figuring out how many cups of coffee I can drink before I get really wired, and trying to find a polite way to tell my neighbors that the hallway in our building does not equal trash can. Or spittoon.

A couple of hours after the date, he called me. We talked about the possibility of going out again sometime soon. I told him that I had to work all day the next day, but I said that I would call him the day after that.

The next day, he texted me to let me know that he was thinking of me. And that's when I got creeped out.

In my opinion, that kind of text message is the kind of message I'd expect to get after a fourth or fifth date, not the first date. The first date (especially the first date with someone you meet online) is more of an introduction than anything else. You're still just getting to know each other. I've never been on one of those romantic first dates that I never wanted to end because I just found my soul mate, and do you hear the birds singing? Because I think they're singing for me.

Yeah. Never had a date like that. Or anything like those dates in one of those match.com commercials. During first dates I usually just feel awkward and nervous. I try to keep myself from blurting out anything stupid, like "Do you know that your teeth stick out a little, like vampire fangs?"

I also tend to be pretty reserved in the romance department. For me, I need to take things slow, one step at a time, one date at a time. Once I went on a first date with a guy who started holding my hand and putting his arm around me about halfway through the date. All I could think of at the time was, Get OFF me! But I thought that might be un-ladylike too. (There was never a second date with that guy.)

After the guy from okcupid texted me to let me know that he was thinking of me, I sent him a terse message to let him know that I couldn't talk; I was working. It was true, because I was working on a project for my website job and I was on a deadline.

The next day I called and left him a message and apologized for not being able to talk. I said that I was really busy, but maybe we could get together for lunch sometime soon. But I think he must have thought I was no longer interested in him, because he didn't call me back.

A part of me felt relieved. But another part of me felt disappointed, too. Now even guys who do like me don't want a second date. I feel like I should have given him more of a chance, but deep down there was a part of me that just wasn't feeling the same things that he was feeling.

But he was a genuinely nice guy who liked me, and I pushed him away. I'm wondering if I should try calling him again, or if I should just let this one go.

What do you think? What would you do if you were in my situation? How would you react if someone sent you a text message like that after the first date?

Monday, September 12, 2011

The Fifth Time Around

I've decided to try online dating again. This is my fifth round of online dating. I tried okcupid and match.com two years ago, and then last year I was a member of eharmony. This past winter I joined chemistry.com. Not that I'm keeping count or anything. It's not like I'm BITTER that I'm still trying or anything.

I put off online dating for the past few months because something was holding me back. For one thing, I couldn't understand why so many guys would sign up for online dating memberships if they weren't going to write anything about themselves in their profiles. I also didn't want to get e-mails that said stuff like "Nice boobs" and "You look a lot like my mom" again.

I also was just enjoying being single. It was nice to not be checking my e-mail several times a day, and when I did check it, it was nice to read my messages without cringing. I liked being on my own and doing what I wanted to do.

But I do want to get married and have a family someday, and that's not going to happen if I keep hiding myself away or if I don't make an effort.

So I'm giving okcupid another try. Mainly it's because okcupid is free; I'm pretty broke and I can't afford to sign up for a paid membership right now. Okcupid is not as conservative as eharmony and chemistry; on the latter sites, you're more likely to find people who are looking for serious relationships. There are people like that on okcupid too, but you're also likely to find people who are looking for something "casual" (cough, cough).

Eharmony and chemistry actually don't take up as much time as okcupid, because they pick the matches for you based on their questionnaire; therefore, you only see the people that the website thinks you're compatible with. In other words, they choose the matches for you and send you about half a dozen profiles to review every day. On okcupid, on the other hand, there are people who are matched with you based on how you responded to the personality questionnaire, but you can look at everybody's profiles.

Still, I went ahead and filled out okcupid's questionnaire. It reminded me of one of those magazine quizzes, where you know which answers will get you the higher score, even though those might not be the answers you'd choose if you were being honest. Here are a few examples of the questions as well as the answers I would have given if I was being 100% honest.

How much can intelligence turn you on?
If he starts laughing like Beavis or Butthead, I'm out of there.

If you don't do anything at all for an entire day, how does that make you feel?
Are you kidding? That would be MADNESS, I tell you! Have you not MET me before?

If you had to name your greatest motivation in life thus far, what would it be?
Life, liberty, and the pursuit of chocolate.

Do you generally smile at little kids who cross your path?
Yes. Unless they're sneezing, coughing, or holding something slimy and wriggling, in which case I run in the opposite direction.

How often are you open with your feelings?
I wish I could be very open with my feelings, particularly with the people who try to cut in front of me in line, the people who say, "Excuse you," and the people who have never heard of breath mints.

Is it a requirement that you communicate with your significant other every single day?
No, especially because he might catch me during one of my rants against the 587 people that I am currently annoyed with, and then he might run in the opposite direction.

I've been on okcupid for about a week so far. I've been exchanging e-mails with two guys who seem nice enough (technically there were four, but two of them pulled disappearing acts, which wasn't very nice. A POX on both of them, I say!). I have a date with one of them coming up soon. Maybe I'll have better luck this time.

On the other hand, I just got a "wink" from some guy who didn't write anything in his profile; several guys who are "seeing someone" have viewed my profile, and there are too many guys who post pictures of themselves wearing nothing but their underwear. Not to be a prude or anything (even though I totally am), but I just figure that there's a time and a place for everything. And I think that an online dating profile is one place where you should keep your pants on, you know?

Okcupid allows members to create their own questions for other members to answer. If you could create your own question for this dating website, what would it be?

Monday, September 5, 2011

Tourists Say the Darndest Things

I want to swim in the lake, but I'm afraid that the sharks might get me.

Let's go check out the Marilyn Monroe statue. I'm going to look up her dress and see if she's wearing any underwear.

What do you think is IN these Chicago-style hot dogs?

The walk signal is flashing. I'm sure the cars will stop for us.

I didn't think it'd be this hot in July. I thought Chicago was supposed to be cold all the time.

If you wear a Cubs shirt, then everyone will think you're a local.

Why does everyone look so mad all the time?

What I'd like to say to tourists:

If your shorts were any shorter, you'd be mooning people right now.

You do realize that when you and your entire family walk really slowly, stop every five seconds, and block the sidewalk like that, you are basically giving impatient Chicago locals permission to knock you over, right?

It's perfectly fine to ask bus drivers for directions. It is NOT fine to prevent other passengers from getting on the bus while you block the entrance and harass the bus driver into telling you how to get to every single place on your itinerary.

It is also NOT okay to pay the bus fare for you and all thirteen of your relatives with coins. By the way? The reason all the commuters look so angry right now is that they are about two seconds away from a MUTINY.

If you're going to sneeze all over people, could you at least aim away from my direction?

When I first moved to Chicago, I was like the tourists. I took pictures of everything and wrote about what I saw and experienced in my journal. After growing up in a small town, I was in awe of city life and the idea that I could walk down the street without running into at least half a dozen people that I knew.

I took in as much of the city as I could. I went to museums, concerts, plays, neighborhood festivals, and movie screenings in Grant Park. I spent hours sitting by the lake and watching the water move. When I went out, I was observant of everything that I saw and heard, because I didn't want to miss a thing.

But now after several years of living here, I feel like I've lost that perspective of Chicago that I had when I was like one of the wide-eyed tourists. Now I just look at the city in terms of where I need to go, as in from Point A to Point B to Point C. I've become so wrapped up in work and school that I don't have the time or money to experience the city in the way that I used to, and I miss it.

On the other hand, I think that living in the city for this long gives me the right to act like a snob and mock the tourists.

What about you? How do you feel about your hometown? Can you imagine living anywhere else?

And because I'm feeling nostalgic, here's an oldie but goodie by Frank Sinatra. Technically, Chicago's not my hometown, but in a way it is because I feel more at home here than I did anywhere else.