Sunday, March 18, 2012

Qu'est Que C'est

I'm sitting on my floor naked, eating Life cereal at 4 in the afternoon out of what I assume was intended to be a small dog food bowl, responding to Craigslist "roommate wanted" ads and trying not to sound like a psycho killer. Yeah, this is going to go well.

I've enjoyed living by myself for this past year, but I feel like I've become somewhat isolated from my friends. I think I can blame some of this on the fact that I had a girlfriend for most of the last year who wanted me to spend our free time together or out with her friends. But to pin this all on her would be unfair, as I was the one who constantly obliged her instead of saying, "No, I think I'll find out what my friends are doing this weekend."

And even since I've been single again, I feel like I've spent most of my time alone in my studio. This is not to say I haven't enjoyed my time by myself (I could go for days reading comics, watching Netflix, and tinkering with bits of code!), but I don't know how healthy this is for my interpersonal development and psychological health.

When I'm by myself, it's so easy for me to ignore the rest of the world and live inside my own bubble. There's no one to come into my room and snap me out of it by asking me if I want to try out a new restaurant or go to a show. Or, conversely, there's no one to annoy me so much that I have to just get out of the apartment and be around other people. I've been living inside my little hermitage, and inside my own head, for this past year, and there's been hardly anyone to challenge me or motivate me.

I'm hoping that living with people again, albeit even with strangers, will help me to re-enter society. Or at least prevent me from talking to myself so much.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Dating Again

If you had told me ten years ago -- hell, even two years ago -- that I would frequently be going on multiple dates with beautiful women, I would have been incredulous, to say the least. But my dating ventures of late have been incredibly different from anything I've ever experienced before. Recently, women have gladly accepted my first date proposals, and most have been earnestly interested in second and third rendezvous, some even making the suggestions themselves! Even those that haven't been interested in dating further have cordially explained that they were not interested. I have not been on a bad date since I started dating again in December.

All of this is not to brag. I mention these things to contrast them to the previous four years of dating. Sure, I went on the occasional first date, some with women I was attracted to, and I met someone who would later become a great friend (and former roommate). I even had a short-lived relationship that I was pretty satisfied with (until the end, obviously). But I never found dating particularly enjoyable. It always seemed like a means to an end, a necessary evil if I was ever going to find a partner in crime.

So, for the past month or so I've been trying to account for this stark difference. How have I been able to go on more dates with more women in the past two months than in my entire time in Chicago previous to this; and why is dating all of a sudden fun?

One of my friends has suggested that confidence is the reason. And perhaps I am more confident now than in the past. Since moving to Chicago, I've definitely become increasingly more self-reliant and self-assured. Though, when it comes to women, the intelligent and beautiful ones still intimidate me as much as they did in 6th grade. Perhaps I'm just slightly better at not being awkward about it now.

Another possible factor is that I don't take dating so seriously now. I used to feel that there was something riding on each date, that I had to do something impressive and say the right things and be on my best behavior or else ... or else what, I'm not sure. I don't know what the impetus for the change was, but recently I've ditched that sentiment in favor of doing whatever the hell I feel like. I only suggest activities for dates that I would do anyway on my own and I don't try to play down the fact that I'm kind of a weirdo. I've eschewed any sort of agenda and just focus on having a good time with a new and interesting person. I definitely feel more relaxed now, and I'm sure my dates appreciate the sincerity, even if they aren't particularly a fan of my oddball demeanor.

I think, though, that the most important explanation as to why I'm enjoying dating so much at the moment is due to the women that I've chosen to date. For whatever reason, I had previously been attracted to energetic and boisterous women, the ones that ooze charisma and laugh loud enough for the whole room to hear them. However, past and recent experience has shown me that this may not be the ideal type of woman for me. Instead, I've been shifting my focus to the more reserved, demure set. I'm finding that these women tend to better appreciate my subtle (oh-so-subtle) charm, and, in turn, I'm much more able to relate to them.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Get All Your Friends Together and Scream Them

At 7pm last night, I shut down my work computer, finished the beer I'd been working on, and headed out the door. About a block away from our office is the "W" Cut Rate Liquors. As I approached I passed a small group of punk kids smoking cigarettes. Next to the entrance to the liquor store was a nondescript grey wooden door. I followed a couple of skinny-jean-clad guys through it and up the stairs. I paid the bored and disinterested guy outside the apartment a five and squeezed through the door that was partially blocked by a crowd that filled the whole front room.

Thick-rimmed glasses, mohawks, tight jeans, brightly dyed hair, print dresses, hoodies, dreadlocks, flannel, baseball caps, scarves, polos, stocking caps -- the crowd contained a scenester from every genre imaginable (well, except for thugs). But instead of the cliquishness that one might expect, everyone was mingling, drinking, and laughing together.

The opening acts played and the crowd hollered and applauded. I talked with a thirty-something guy and his boyfriend who recorded the whole show on his iPhone. I joked around with a tiny girl who offered to buy the underage skater kids next to her some beer from downstairs. A chick with a lesbian haircut and a Gatorade bottle filled with beer kept including me in her conversations. A girl who was entirely too drunk on whiskey Cokes introduced herself, her friend, and the girl next to her that I'd just watched her meet.

After an hour and a half, the headliner, Paul Baribeau, came up "on stage" (I imagine it was a wooden box or a milk crate.) at the end of the living room and began to play. The whole crowd belted out the words and swayed in unison. My voice screamed out and joined the cacophony. For one moment I was able to connect with an entire group of people who I might otherwise never have come in contact or had anything in common with. The camaraderie of the crowd, the intimacy of a hundred people crowded into a tiny apartment, the anticipation, the excitement -- the memory of it is almost surreal, as if I watched it in a movie instead of having experienced it directly.

Circa Now