Dr Strangedate, Part 6: Five Months Of Dating Brought Me Here?

“The best-laid schemes o’ mice an’ men,
Gang aft a-gley,
And leave us nought but grief and pain,
For promised joy.” ~Robert Burns

Five months. Five long months. The experiment with OKCupid and online dating was drawing to a close. To be honest, I couldn’t wait for it to be over. I had endured every kind of date imaginable and coming to the end, I didn’t foresee anything changing.

For a few days, I just ignored my account. I stepped away from the computer and gave myself a breather. If I’m honest, there was a strong possibility that the five month experiment would have ended right there. This was it. I was done.

Then, I got an email from Karen.

Karen was a graduate from Rhode Island School of Design. If there is one thing in life that I regret more than anything, it was not going to RISD. I was accepted back in 1990 but, even though it was my dream school, I couldn’t go. They offered me absolutely nothing in the form of financial aid. My dream of being a world class artist with a degree from one of the most prestigious art schools in America died when I got that acceptance letter detailing how much I would owe. And being 18 and broke from a family that was broke, my heart broke to have to turn away and go to my second choice.

So, for obvious reasons, she piqued my curiosity with that tidbit of knowledge. She went to and graduated from my dream school. Architecture and textiles were her major interests. As we talked through email, she linked me to her online portfolio and I was blown away by her work. Karen was a small unassuming woman with short black hair, hour glass figure and a huge laugh that seemed to fill the air when we spoke. And did I mention she had an Etsy page? Her family was originally from Argentina and she had a fascination with alpaca wool. Using her home textile, she made extraordinary scarves, hats, gloves. I was overwhelmed. Here was someone living my dream, creating a life out of her creativity. I was hooked.

We decided to meet in Boston and spend a day at the Museum of Fine Arts. One of her favorite artists, Chihuly, was being featured as the special exhibit at the MFA. I figured this was my moment. I studied art and art history and used to volunteer at the MFA. As most of my friends who have been to an art museum with me know, I suddenly become an art professor when I walk through the doors. A blazer with corduroy elbow patches appears out of nowhere and suddenly I find myself lecturing like I was back in college. This was my environment. And not to mention we would be in Boston. My adopted city, my old stomping grounds.

A day in Boston is like pizza: even when it’s bad, it’s still pretty damn good.

We had an amazing day.

It was beyond perfect.

chihuly2

At the museum, she showed me Chihuly and his amazing blown glass sculptures and I gave her a tour of the museum. We talked art, laughed, talked more art and kept on laughing. It was a whirlwind day at the museum. From there, we headed into Harvard Square and grabbed dinner at Fire & Ice. The laughter continued as we wandered around my favorite haunts. Window shopping, music hunting, people watching, we ended the evening at an old diner in Davis Square. Holding hands across a formica table, sipping tea, the laughter never stopped. We took the T back to Alewife Station where we had both parked and made out like two hormonally challenged teenagers outside of her car. I was a perfect end to a perfect day. We said our goodbyes with promises to see each other again soon.

When I went home that night, I was so happy. I had been through this weird hell of online dating and finally, at the end, I meet someone who totally changed my mind. I had been ready to give up and swearing off of the whole online thing forever….and here I was looking forward to a second date with Karen. I was a little giddy..

The second date was just as spectacular.

She had me pick her up at her house. She introduced me to her cat. The cat adored me. Good start to the evening. As we were leaving, she suddenly stopped me and had to run back into her house. She had forgotten her medicine. She was so adorable running back from her house waving a baggy over her head. Up close, it was a baggy full of prescription bottles and loose pills. When I asked about it, she brushed me off and said they were her supplements. I thought nothing of it. We headed off to have dinner at an amazing Tuscan restaurant followed by window shopping. I swear, this date was the closest I think I’ve ever come to actually living a Rom-Com. It was perfect. Amazing dinner, fun conversation, beautiful date, shenanigans and the evening ended with us in the front seat of my car, fumbling around like horny teenagers.

Karen lived outside Boston and both of our dates had been down in that area. For our third date (which, by the way, THIRD!!! none of my dates had gone this far) she decided to come up here to NH. She showed up at my house with a bag full of quinoa muffins she had made the night before. It was a beautiful sunny day and we went for a ride up the Maine coast. This was when I noticed the baggy again.

We grabbed coffee for the ride and as we drove north, I noticed her emptying a powder into her coffee and taking a small handfull of pills and downing them like candy. A little amused, I asked her about this again. There was a pause. Immediately. my brain thinks up the worst case scenario… months of bad dates had trained me to wait for when the other shoe drops. I braced myself for some horrible story that she was a recovering heroin addict/drug mule/meth dealer/etc. In my mind, I was panicking. How could this be happening again? How could we have such a great time together and all of a sudden this happens? I felt a little trickle of sweat bead down the back of my neck as I awaited the inevitable, horrible revelation.

“Do you believe in crystals and energy?”she asked.

I raised an eyebrow. “Sorry?”

She then explained her belief in new age energy, the power of crystals and how the supplements and powders she took daily were reccomended to her by a spiritual healer. This “medicine” kept her healthy, happy and centered on a daily basis. I smiled. I had been wrong to worry. She was playing her crazy card and it turned out it wasn’t really that crazy after all. If that was the worst she could do, then we can get along just fine. I would never begrudge someone their beliefs. If it makes you happy and it speaks to you then it’s alright by me. I took her hand and she squeezed mine tight. It was going to be a good day.

Karen had never been along the Maine coast before, so we did the touristy thing and went to the Nubble and checked out the lighthouse and rocky coastline. We lunched at the Maine Diner and that evening, we stopped at the Friendly Toast in Portsmouth for coffee and a snack before she went home. Throughout the day, I noticed that Karen was always running off to the bathroom at more and more frequent intervals. At first, I wrote this off as too much coffee and man, we had a lot of coffee that day. But when we finally got to the Friendly Toast, she spent more time in the bathroom than at the table, she barely touched our sweet potato fries we ordered and the laughing and conversation, which had been nonstop up until then, suddenly ground to a halt. I knew something was wrong, but I tried to take it in stride, packed up the fries to go and we got into my car.

There was a long awkward silence as we turned out onto Route One, heading back to my house.

“There’s something I have to tell you,” I heard her say, almost in a whisper.

I waited, here it comes, the revelation that she’s really a CIA operative and all that time she was in the bathroom, she was getting orders to kill someone, probably me. Or maybe that she was really married and her husband had been calling her while she was in the bathroom and he was waiting at my house to kill us both.

“I’m getting a cold.”

Confused, I looked over at her and that’s when I noticed she was crying.

“Do you want to get some cold medicine?”

She started sobbing. “You don’t understand! All those supplements and pills I take help ward off illness and keep my spirit in balance. The fact that I’m getting sick means that my body is fighting the supplements. My body is trying to tell me something. Because I’m getting a cold, and I haven’t had one before meeting you, that’s my body’s way of telling me that we are not a good match.”

I felt my chin smack into my chest.

She started crying more, big sorrowful tears, pouring down her face. “And you are such a nice guy and amazing kisser and I loved every minute we spent together and was looking forward to seeing more of you.”

She looked over at me. “But my body knows better than I do.”

Stunned into silence, I did the only thing I could do: hit the gas and floored it all the way to my house. Turns out I was wrong earlier. She had played her crazy card, yes, but what I didn’t realize was she had a whole deck of them up her sleeve.

We arrived at my house and, doing my best to be a gentleman, I invited her in to use the bathroom before her long drive home. I made tea, we had some forgettable idle chitchat, hugged and she was gone.

I can’t say enough about how dissapointed I was at that moment, sitting alone, re-reading our emails to each other before deleting them. How could I have been so wrong about someone? I came away from my three dates with Karen more confused than I had ever been before. How could everything be so perfect but so completely wrong all at the same time? How could I have so much in common with someone and yet, nothing?

The experiment was over and I felt like I had failed all around. Despite trying my best, being myself and keeping an open mind, I never found what I was looking for. And although the experiment ended there, the adventures of Dr. Strangedate continued…..

 

Dr Strangedate, Part 4: The Groupie and One Drink Disasters.

After the general disaster of my first OKCupid date, I decided to be a little more cautious. I wasn’t going to fall into the same traps I found myself in on that first experience. I would get to know the prospective date before agreeing to meet. At the very least, a week of phone calls and emails would be my rule.

Sifting through their site is a challenge. You can never search very close to home, they only allow you to search at a minimum of 25 miles. So instead of all local singles, I would end up with a handful of people in my area and the rest would all be from the North Shore and Boston area. This was a little frustrating at times, but I figured at the very least the site was helping me expand my horizons. Foolishly, I was still under the impression OKCupid had my best interests at heart. Oh, I was so naive.

I quickly broke my own rules by agreeing to meet for drinks with someone after only one email. A pattern emerged rather quickly with the “meet for drinks” dates. Starting with a casual response to my ad and quickly suggesting we go for a drink, somewhere in the middle and neutral. And since most of my matches showed up from the North Shore and Boston, even meeting in the middle was a bit of a hike. But all of these meet and drink dates ended the same: going our seperate ways, both dissatisfied with the experience. I was always early, waiting at the bar. I could always recognize the date from their entrance: standing in thedoorway, scanning the room with an expectant smile. Then, they saw me….and one of two things happened: an outright look of “ewwwww” or that pained, forced smile, the kind you reserve for your Uncle when he tells a raunchy and inapropriate joke at a funeral.

A couple went so far as to make eye contact with me but quickly look away and rush out the door. One even texted me after dashing out the door, explaining that she couldn’t make it to the restaurant due to her inability to get a babysitter. I messaged back “Do you live in the parking lot?” She never got back to me. One woman I met for dinner in Newburyport, which is actually rather close to me. We had great conversation, a few drinks and even some dinner. I thought we were having a lovely time. At the end of the meal, she gave me a big hug and when I suggested getting together again, she started laughing loudly. “No thanks, I think I’ll pass!” There was a distinct tone of “ewwww” in her voice.

During all these disastrous little dates, I had met a woman on the site that I thought I had connected with. Her name was Emily and she grew up with the same crowd I hung out with: punk rocker kids hanging in Harvard Square. Yeah, I used to be one of those punks, black mohawk, combat boots and trenchcoat, the whole halloween costume, just lounging around Harvard Square. I have always lamented the fact that I lost touch with all the great people I used to know back then, not to mention all the bands I counted as friends. And it turned out, Emily knew all the same people! She was like a lost connection to my forgotten past. I was dying to meet her but I decided to wait. We talked, emailed and texted for almost two weeks.

Her favorite restaurant just happened to be my all-time favorite place in Boston. The Border Cafe on Church St. was just beyond my favorite movie theater to see The Rocky Horror Picture Show (which you can read about in an older post about my adventures in the square https://glassowater.wordpress.com/2008/08/03/im-a-rocky-horror-fan-or-lets-do-the-time-warp-again/ ). I had been dining there since the day they first opened their doors. Anytime I find myself in Harvard Square, you can usually find me there at some point. It all seemed so perfect. We were so alike. What could possibly go wrong?

I planned the day according to my previously established rules. Instead of meeting her outside the city, we decided to meet at the restaurant. This gave me a plausible excuse to disapear if I had to. We had spent 2 weeks chatting, so it was well established we had much in common. Our activity together was dinner at our mutual favorite restaurant of all time followed by Newbury Comics and other such window shopping activities, with a trip to Faneuil Hall planned for the latter part of the day if time allowed. I had planned the perfect OKCupid date. Right? Escapes routes, mutual interests, lots in common, what could go wrong?

I waited in the bar at the Border Cafe, watching the door. It was a cold and blustery February day in the city. Emily knew how to make an entrance: the door blew open and she swept into the room, a flurry of flying scarfs, her long coat billowing in the breeze. She took off her woolen hat to reveal platinum blonde hair streaked with purple. Scanning the room, she found me immediately and smiled. Not a forced smile, but a genuine giddy smile. And holy crap, she was so much cuter than her pictures suggested: big smile, beautiful eyes framed by librarian girl glasses. I was won over in seconds. She came running up to the bar and gave me a hug and smooched me on the cheek.

Wow, this was starting out well…..

We sat down for dinner. I immediately start talking about music. I figured this was a good place to start since we both loved music so much. I start mentioning all the bands I used to know, the people I hung out, the guys at TAANG! Records who used to have their office in the square, bringing up all the little connections I knew we had. She smiled and laughed as I talked about the old times. Finally, I asked how she met everyone from these bands, people I called friends back in the days of the old punk scene. Her response? “Oh So-and-So? I fucked him.” She then proceeded to recount, in rather colorful and descriptive language, all of her sexual conquests. “I sucked his dick, fucked that one, had a three way with them”… I quickly realized something: she wasn’t a friend of any of these people, she was a professional GROUPIE!!  Her list didn’t end with my friends, oh no. She started to recount, in graphic detail, every band she has gone back stage and serviced over the years. I was a little horrified. Is this really dinner conversation? Telling your date that you screwed, sucked and cornholed your way through all their friends? What would the future hold for such a coupling? Every time she said she was going to a concert, do you sit home with a portable STD testing kit so you can swab her and run some tests as soon as she gets home?

Once The Groupie got a foothold in the conversation, she never stopped talking. The rest of dinner sounded like this:

“Me me  me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me…. you? Me me me me me me, etc”

I could not get a word in edgewise. I felt battered into hanging out with her because there was never breathing room for me to object or to implement my escape plan. At one point, we were standing on a platform waiting for a train and as it approached, I seriously considered just leaping in front of it just to make her shut the fuck up! Finally, outside Faneuil Hall, I got a moment to myself, texted a friend to call me. We faked an emergency and said our goodbyes. She kissed me on the cheek, saying it was nice to meet me. I dashed off for the Goverment Center T station, but first I made a quick stop at CVS. Alcohol swabs were on sale that day…

Dr Strangedate, Part 2: The Making of a Profile

Online dating presents a rather complex problem: how do you sell yourself?

In life, we sell ourselves everyday, whether it be with job applications or any number of daily activities where we have to sell our ideas to someone, selling yourself is a pervasive part of normal human interaction. Like me, you will like my ideas/product/widget/etc.  Having a persuasive personality that exudes self confidence, with a little self deprecating humor combined with an appropriate amount of modesty, honesty and pepper with a lot of energy usually equals a winning formula. Whether it wins the day is entirely up to your own individual persistence and perseverence. I come to this definition through 14 years of working in car sales where making someone like you is about 80% of the job. So, I have the formula but how do you translate something you do in practice into a convincing introductory paragraph on a dating site? It’s like working a scientific problem in reverse: here is your result, proven time and again through empirical evidence. Now, work it backwards to the written page and see if you can reproduce those same results in theory.

First, I had to come up with a handle for the website. I always use glassowater for everything I log in to. It’s been my nickname online for everything I do since 1997. If you see glassowater listed on a website, there is a very good chance it’s my goofy ass. But when I went to log in, that was taken. Glassowater, my handle, was not available. So I started trying all sorts of names, hoping to score with something. And I just kept striking out over and over again. After several minutes of frustrating rejections (oooh, I smell foreshadowing there) I finally typed in “ireallydontcare2”, which seemed appropriate at the time because all I wanted to do was write my profile and get this ball rolling. This name would come back to haunt me.

Having finally settled on a handle, I got to work building my profile.

To be honest, I had no idea what to write about myself. I didn’t even have a clear set of goals or objectives when I made my profile. I just started writing. And writing. And writing some more. And soon, my worst fear about writing my profile came true: I accidentally wrote a short novel about myself that was sure to help some poor soul with their insomnia problem. The central problem I have with writing a profile is the inherent narcissism of it all. “Here I am! I love myself, I’m wonderful and you should love me too!” Yuck, so not me. Or even worse “Oh look at me! Please? Look at me! I’m loveable right? I’ll do anything if you just adore me.” Yeah, not me either.

So I sat down again and edited. And edited. And edited some more. Here is what ended up as my introductory paragraph for my OKCupid profile:

” Hmm, not sure where to begin… So, yeah, HI! Thanks for stopping by! I will probably amend this as time goes by, but I’m pretty simple to figure out. I’m a big goof who is looking for more friends to spend my time with. Very laid back and a little silly.
I’m happy to add here that I have started on a path to better health. I now run/walk almost every day and I’m at the gym at least 5 times a week. I have a goal of total wellness for this year. For me that means coming to terms with my life, my mind, my body and my relationships and finding peace and satisfaction in all I do. I will never have a six pack, I will be happy with the mini-keg. I’m not exactly where I want to be in life, but I’m working on getting there. I find happiness in the small things, the little moments: that first moment of pure joy when my friends hit the stage and start playing, sitting in awe at the MFA in front of my favorite Gauguin, dinner with friends where the conversation becomes a long note of neverending laughter. I would love to meet someone who laughs easily, smiles readily and challenges me daily… I’m seeking my best friend, someone who shares my outlook on life, is comfortable with themselves and their life and most of all, someone who truly wants to make a connection, make a friend or something more…”

Not bad right? Not too pretentious, not too overbearing. A dash of humor, a smidgeon of silliness and just a pinch of nervous babbling. Not a bad introduction to the sale of me, right?

The rest of the profile offers you some creative questions to write about as a way to further expound upon what you are seeking and what you expect.

What I’m Doing with my life:

“At 39, still trying to work this one out. I have learned that the best laid plans may not be what life intends for you. I’m going with the flow for now and enjoying where life takes me.
I’m also working on my art, trying to paint again and doing photography wherever I can. I write a little blog which is more for me than anyone else, but it’s a new form of expression that I have been struggling with for awhile now.” ~Oh, of course I had to plug the blog a little.

I’m really good at:

Cooking, making people laugh, being a wealth of useless knowledge, tickling porcupines, taming jackalopes and swimming with great whites.” ~ Ok, so some of the info isn’t all that useless….

The first things people usually notice about me:

Like everyone else, I really have no idea how to answer this question…. could be my laugh, my smile, my green eyes or my sweet ass…” ~ My friends can totally attest to the sweetness of my backside.

This next one, I have to admit, I got a little long winded in my answer…..

Favorite books, movies, shows, music and food:

I know that this is usualyl a long list of “Things That Define Me” But, to be honest, I don’t see these things as defining characteristics, these are things I enjoy and love to share with others.

Books: David Sedaris, Sarah Vowell, history, fiction
I really don’t want to bore you with a long list of authors here. At one time, I was reading a book a week and have a huge collection of books… come over sometime, feel free to browse…

Movies: I have a wide variety of interests when it comes to movies but my all time favorite is Harold and Maude…. I will say that lately, been gravitating more towards arthouse flicks with limited releases but I do have a soft spot for comic book movies and the comedies of Judd Apatow… And everything in between…

Music: Holy crap, where to begin? Music is a huge part of my life! Love going out and supporting bands, especially local music. I grew up with punk and new wave and in the 90’s I was a college radio dj which really broadened my musical horizons. Since then, been a fanatic of all types of music, even a little country and bluegrass now and then. Music is huge part of my day to day life and I absolutely love going to great lengths to experience new music and new bands.

Food: I’m a big man with a big love of good food. Nothing I love more than getting in the kitchen and putting together a huge meal for friends or family. The way to my heart is a spicy mix of latin, tex-mex, mexican, thai, indian, carribean and italian food. But I love experimenting and going outside my comfort zone and finding new and exciting restauranats and flavors. I ran restaurants for years, so dining out is something I truly enjoy for the experience and the sheer love of good food.” ~ Only now do I realize that I never talked about my favorite shows.

Six things I could never do without:

music
friends
good food
good wine
my camera
my art supplies” ~ I don’t know how I forgot to list chocolate, but I digress.

I spend a lot of time thinking about:

this very statement….” ~ So sue me, I’m a smart ass.

On a typical Friday night I am:

Friday is my day off, so I usually spend the day cleaning house, on the beach, doing some photography, driving aimlessly and friday nights, I’m hopefully out with friends, seeing a band, lounging at someone’s house, playing poker, maybe cooking for friends…” ~ Kind of a pointless question really, but I guess it helps define what you find fun.

One final essay remained in my profile…..

You should message me if:

– You are looking for a friend first and foremost 🙂
– If you love the notion of hopping in the car, picking a destination and just roadtripping for the day.
– You would love to hang out with someone who will happily cook you dinner and hopefully keep you laughing.
– You can laugh at yourself and the world around you
– You have red hair…yeah, I’ll admit it, that is a weakness of mine… 🙂 (EDIT: No, this is not a prerequisite.)

Please DON’T message me if you are a serial dater… I am all set with that nonsense….

Little did I know that despite the disclaimer about serial daters, that’s all I attracted for some reason. “One and done” as a friend of mine put it.

So there you have it, my first attempt at selling myself and all I have to offer. And if I’m honest, I don’t think I did a bad job. Little rough around the edges, but that’s me. The coming months after posting this profile would be an endurance test of patience and my ability to handle the incredibly absurd. Craziness was soon to follow…..

To be continued…..

2011 – Time to make the resolutions…..

Originally I posted this as a note on my Facebook page but I gotta start this blog somewhere, so here we go:

I’m hoping for some changes this year. I need to improve my health and think about the future. In the past, I’ve set up unrealistic goals for myself and restrict myself to unliveable ideals. This in turn sabotages my best intentions, rendering the concept of a resolution to a temporary condition at best. I find myself discouraged and falling into old patterns before the year is even 2 months old. So this year, I’m going easy on myself in a way. Going to concentrate on things that are good for my physical and mental health and work on baby steps and only give myself a couple huge goals. And even those are pretty tame. This is not to say I’m not going to challenge myself. But I think I need to do this in small steps to achieve any kind of success. Otherwise, I’m doomed to failure again and again. So here goes:

1. Eat healthier – Yeah, I know, an old stand by…but I think I can do this. I know how to cook and I know how to make yummy meals that are lo-cal and quite tasty. That said, I will not deny myself entriely. Denial leads to failure, failure leads to bingeing, bingeing leads to anger, anger leads to hate, hate leads to… oh wait, thats something else.

2. Do not ignore temptation – You heard me. I will not ignore some deliciousness that someone has made for me. In the past, when I have denied myself something, it always backfires and I end up on a binge.

3. I will bring food from home ever day to work – Not only will this save me money, but it will eliminate some of the temptations I run into at work (boss buys chinese/pizza/subs, burritos from Loco Coco’s Tacos).

4. I will not beat myself up if I forget to bring some lunch and I do go out and buy a buritto.

 

5. I will go to the gym 4-5 times a week – This one is admittedly hard but I have some compromises that will make this easy. The gym is not always Planet Fitness, it’s wherever I can find time and get some sort of work out. Whether it be a hike, a walk on the beach (or a run, more on that later) everything where my heart rate gets elevated will work towards this goal.

6. A suit – This is one of my big goals for the year. By late spring, I want to buy a suit, something I’ve always rented but never owned. I think by then, I could rock a little tailored menswear.

7. Warrior Dash – Ok this craziness was introduced to me by my good friend Pam Shepherd. It’s not a marathon or triathlon but it is just as insane. Check it out http://www.facebook.com/WarriorDash copy and past the link if it doesn’t work. This is some crazy silliness that sounds challenging and a lot of fun. I’m hoping to be in shape for this for one of their fall events. Or something similar.

8. Running – I hate running. It hurts, I always fall because I’m a little clumsy, but dammit, I’m going to incorporate this into my workout even if it kills me. Ok, maybe not, but I need to get myself up and outdoors more often and this is a perfect way to do it.

9. Pedometer – Keeping a pedometer on me will keep me honest with my day to day fitness.

10. Rely on my friends – Listen to them more often, especially when their opinions differ from mine. I could have saved myself a boatload of heart ache this past year…

11. Never quit – I need to reach these goals, and I think all of these steps are attainable, but I have to remind myself: Never Quit, never give in to my self doubt and have faith in myself and the love in my life from friends and family to get me through this and achieve these goals.

12. Be a little more sociable – Yeah, I know some people have been pestering me to go out more and my problem has been my bed is just way too comfortable on most nights. I am going to change that. You will see me more, but at the same time, hopefully less of me too. 🙂

13. Travel – Going to plan a few trips this year. Need to get ot beyond New England for a bit. Thinking California or Washington DC or maybe visit family in Indiana or Montana. Course, I could always get my passport and travel to Toronto to visit some friends there. So many choices.

14. Writing – Going to try to spend more time writing. I know it’s been a while and this is a hard routine to work into again, but writing a little something every day is a workable goal.

15. Painting – Yes, I’m going to do it. Going to actually start painting again. I’m all set up, new paints are ready.

So thats it. Those are my goals and resolutions. What do you think? Attainable?

Ah 2009, you will be missed….

Why hello! Fancy meeting you here. I know it’s been awhile. I have no excuses. I wasn’t sick, there were no major catastrophes either meteorological, financial, familial or sociological. Let’s just call it what it is: I’m a lazy ass.

Since June, I have been writing and keeping notes on life, but to be honest, I really haven’t sat down in front of the computer to bring those thoughts to a public forum because, well….I’m lazy. And even with some gentle prodding from other bloggers (Cas, Allison, Romi, Pam and Natalie, to name a few) I just couldn’t find the motivation. The computer screen had become another blank canvas for me.

Let me explain: In the spare room in my house, there sits a canvas. About one year ago, I set it up on the easle, broke out some paints, poured myself a huge cup of coffee, set up some music and I went in with every intention to start….something. Unfortunately, when I sat down in front of the canvas, I realized I had no idea where to begin. All I saw was white. No direction, no thought, no emotion. Just a blank field of white. I remember sitting there for several hours, listening to the music, sipping my coffee. Nothing changed. I got up, shut off the music, put away my paints, shut off the light and left. Every few days, I would wander in, stare at the canvas again. I don’t know if I was looking for divine inspiration but the motivation was eluding me. I couldn’t even get started. The canvas sat on the easle for 6 months before I finally gave up and put it away. And I think I did the same thing here.  I gave up.

This past year has been a wild roller coaster ride of emotions. I worked 2 jobs for awhile which nearly drove me insane. I travelled to Texas, fell in love and had my heart broken more than once. (That story is still on going and I definitely plan to write about that at another time…there may be a happy ending to that tale). 

2009 was a year of being caught in an emotional holding pattern. Afraid to move forward, refusing to go back and no chance for finding some firm ground to hold on to. I felt like my life was circling the airport, waiting for the word to land and finally find some peace.

I saw my best friends lose their jobs and I realized I was more worried for them than they are. They are happy and content with their lot in life. Found myself wondering: why wasn’t I? Could I be so centered and happy if life threw me a curveball like that? I can’t even be happy with my life as it is.

My mother’s health improved as mine kinda deteriorated a little. Nothing to worry about, but certain things in my life that I put on the back burner were becoming more and more of a problem. Stress from the two jobs, lack of sleep and a chaotic life had sent my blood pressure through the roof, resulting in some weight gain, lack of motivation, etc. Since losing the second job, my health and outlook has improved. I’m on a more positive path to wellness and health. By the way, I have stories to tell about that second job…..

It wasn’t a year of all doom and gloom, however. Amazing friends, loving family always make everything easier. I recconnected with scores of old friends from high school through Facebook. This strange phenomenom seems to be the norm for almost everyone. People reaching out across the internet to find each other once again. I love it. I love seeing what other people have done with their lives since the hellish days of Winnacunnet High School.

Music once again dominated my life with shows all over New England. Some I worked for the band, others I was there just to support the music. I fell in love with Pandora and LastFM, both introducing new music into my life while reminding me the of the joys of my musical past.

There was amazing food and food that should never be mentioned again! I’m looking at you, chicken fried bacon! The Texas State Fair may classify you as food and you may be delicious, but you are sooooooo wrong! Wrong on every level that is wrongness.

So many more things I could mention here, but I feel I have prattled on long enough. So without further ado, here is my official list of New Year’s Resolutions:

1. Find a healthy weight. (you’ll notice I carefully avoided the cliche of  “lose weight”)

2. Let my heart heal. Allow myself to finally just get over the hurt and find the happy again. Love has entered my life, crashing in, demanding and I want to explore this without the regrets and hurt of the past.

3. Yard sale!!!! Yes, I’m finally going to have a yard sale. I’m working on minimizing in my life (read: cutting out the unneccessary crap) and the first major hurdle will be to have an epic win of a yard sale. Need some books? Come talk to me, I’ll hook you up….

4. Take a real vacation. Ya know, one that involves real rest and peace…maybe camping on a lake someplace….

5. Spend more times with the crazy people I call friends and less time with the computer.

6. Paint. I bought a new set of watercolors, some good quality paper and a few new brushes. Now, just need to get my ass out there and do some real work. Watercolors are not my normal medium, but I figure trying something outside my comfort zone may motivate me more.

7. Finally commit to blog all the stories I have rolling around in my head and incomplete here in my drafts.

8. Finally read the manual for my new camera and figure out what it can really do rather than just winging it all the time… 🙂

9. Appreciate my mom more and remember to tell her I love her every day. It’s tough taking care of mom, this is not how I pictured my life to be, but she is my mom and my responsibility. Sometimes I feel burdened and sometimes I wish my life were different, but she needs me and this is what I have to do.

10. Find some peace and contentment, the kind we all dream about….

So Happy New Year everyone! Kiss 2009 goodbye and bring on 2010! I can’t wait…..

Middle Cyclone by Neko Case: A Review

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Ok, I know what you are going to say: George found himself another redhead to obsess over. And yes, Miss Case is gorgeous and a redhead. That aside, her latest album Middle Cyclone has completely blown me away.

Let me back up a bit.

About 4 years ago, my ex told me about this musician she loved named Neko Case. She prefaced that statement by saying, “You’ll love her. She’s a redhead.” Now for most people, that would seem like a harmless statement. A matter of fact statement describing the hair color of an individual, plain and simple. I knew better than that.

Whenever the subject of other women ever popped up in a conversation, even something as silly as discussing hair color, was a dangerous mine field of neurotic worries and complaints that inevitably led to a fight. One false move and BANG “I’m not good enough!” and BOOM “You want her!” A smile at a waitress and BANG “You must be sleeping with her!” Polite and chatty with the check out girl and BOOM “Is she your next date??”

And commenting on the beauty of a singer, any singer, no matter how ridiculously out of my league or sphere of influence meant that I simply MUST be actively trying to track them down so I could dump her and sleep with them.

Yup, she was a delightful little ball of Italian craziness. I know it’s weird, but I think her unpredictability was one of the reasons I loved her. It was entertaining to talk her down from her neurotic psycho episode and making up, well, that was always the best part. But living your life on a minefield, always unsure if the next thing you said would trigger a massive fight, that wore thin after awhile.

So when she mentioned that Neko Case was a redhead, I immediately shut down all interest in the conversation. I declined her offer to listen to her cd and even passed on a chance to see her live, all to avoid a massive blow out of a fight that I knew would come if I had shown interest in front of my ex. Secretly, on my own, I went and checked her out on my own online.

I’m not a country fan. Never have been.

Most modern country music annoys the hell out of me with it’s simplicity and jingoistic “America Fuck Yeah” attitude, and the incredibly depressing cry in your beer, sleep with your sister and go watch NASCAR reputation. But there are elements of the country sound that I love, elements that soar above the mundane and create something that can touch us all universally and not just the niche market of modern country music. The term “Alt-Country” has come into popularity in the last decade or so to categorize this sound.

Wilco, Neil Young, Lucinda Williams, Whiskeytown, Uncle Tupelo, Southern Culture On the Skids, Palace Brothers, Old 97s and even rockabilly and psychobilly bands fall into this category from time to time, although psychobilly definitely leans more towards it’s punk influences than it’s country inspired roots. My love for this know-it-when-I-hear-it genre of music has helped me appreciate artists like Johnny Cash, Patsy Cline (early recordings) and even the subtle influences of artists like Buddy Holly, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins and especially the influence of Sun records on the defining sounds of country, blues, rockabilly and, of course, rock and roll.

When I was finally able to check out Neko Case, I fell in love. Her voice, sometimes grating, sometimes demanding, sometimes soaring and angelic, sometimes accusatory but always entertaining, captured my heart. Her lyrics, with their dark overtones, touch the perfect balance between bitterness and light, an ambiguous place that allows her voice to tell you the context, not just the words.

Middle Cyclone starts off with This Tornado Loves You, an appropriate begining. A song about love as a force of nature, strong and undeniable and yet, the subject of her affections is in denial, refusing to believe. And no matter how frenzied or powerful an emotion is, even if it has the power of a tornado, it can be deflated and defeated by a simple act of denial. This sets the tone for the album, a strong set from beginning to end. Songs of unrequited love, loss, frustration and hope, this album has the impression of an artist in a middle ground emotionally, lost and searching for something to hold on to, but the songs reveal that despite all of this, she is a confident and powerful creative force.

Her style on this album definitely still falls into the alt-country genre with some elements of indie pop, folk and even a little motown sound mixed in. I heard it, don’t mock me! 🙂

Her voice is at times heartbreakingly beautiful with an undercurrent of frustration and even hostility. The Next Time You Say Forever contains the memorable lyric “The next time you say forever, I’m going to punch you right in your face.” That one sentence tells a whole story by itself and thats what I love about her. On the title track, she laments “Someones made a fool of me ‘fore I could show them how it’s done.” The title is perhaps directly misleading, expecting a raucous song like Tornado, we get a soothing meditiation on unrequited love.

I could easily go track by track and mention every little aspect that spoke to me: a key lyric, a note, a reverb of a guitar, the sigh in her voice. There are few things to pick apart on this album. I will say that my only true complaint here is that some of the songs are too short, almost feeling incomplete, but it works within the themes and confines of the song. Like all good things, they must come to an end and some of these songs, you just want to go on and on. But I admire that about her writing: she gets the point out, never overstays her welcome and leaves you begging for more.

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Yup, I’ve found a new redhead to obsess over, just wish I could have found her sooner….

Casual Sex or Clean Up in the Shoe Department

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If I saw you, I wouldn’t be able to look you in the eye today.

I had a sex dream about you last night. There’s no way to be coy about it. No way to make it seem like something else. This wasn’t a cute romantic dream about holding hands, cuddled on the couch, watching movies with the occasional kissing and snuggling.

Nope.

This wasn’t that at all.

The dream began innocently enough. We were walking through the mall, talking about some new job you had. Apparently, in my dream, you can’t hold down a job and this was your latest career. I don’t remember the details but I think it had something to do with quality control at a university someplace, which really doesn’t make any sense. I mean seriously, what does “Quality Control” at a university really mean? I think my dream version of you is just making shit up…

As often happens in a dream, the scenery changed abruptly. First we had been walking through the food court area of the mall. Emo kids where strewn about everywhere, wearing their latest pre-fab uniforms from Hot Topic. Is it really emo and punk to hang out at the mall? Really? And why do you all look the same? Maybe it’s a product of getting old and being an old punk rocker, but kids these days, the ones who pretend to be so punk, they all look the same. Same skinny jeans, same ill-fitting shirts, same “Hot Topic” tags. I seriously cannot understand the concept of that store. Punk, at it’s core was and has always been a DIY experience and yet, if you want your musical and political statements pre-printed for you, here’s a store with all the essentials. For Fifty bucks, you too can look like a punk rocker or an emo kid! Way to go kids! Way to dumb it down even further…

Yeah, I do rant like that in my dreams too… J

But I digress…we were walking through the food court and suddenly we were at the entrance of JC Penney. You took my hand and smiled at me. For the first time, I noticed you were wearing a tight fitting t shirt that accentuated your frame rather lovingly. You caught me looking and poked me in the stomach.

“Come on,” you said. “We have to hurry. I have church in the morning.”

I smiled at you, thoroughly confused by this statement.

You pulled my hand and lead me through JC Penney. I was completely puzzled…even in my dreams, I’m absolutely clueless. You lead me through to the mens shoe department. Did you know that JC Penney has a new feature in their shoe department? I guess this must be standard in all their new stores. Apparently, they all have a secret door in the back that opens up right into my bedroom. I wasn’t aware of this new feature until you opened the door and dragged me through.

Surprisingly, I had remembered to make my bed and tidy up my room before I left for the day. In the dream, I must have more free time.

You wrapped your arms around me and kissed me. For a moment, I was melting. The world froze and I could feel the heat of your body against mine, the taste of your lips, your tongue. You pulled back suddenly. A devilish grin came across your face.

“You are too gentle.”

With that, I felt your foot scoop around the back of my legs, taking my feet out from under me and I crashed backwards onto the bed.

That’s when you pounced.

What transpired from there, I humbly must leave to your imagination. I can say that there was a whirlwind of activity, involving positions of all imaginings and even a few that were against the laws of nature and a few that I’m sure were illegal in several states. In the end, the bed was broken, the tv had a bed post through it, all the paintings on the walls were askew, the mattress was on the floor and you and I…you and I were in a broken sweaty heap on the floor. I was gasping for breath and you were giggling at me, half covered in one of my old t shirts. How did you find my old Cure Tour t shirt? I thought that was lost 20 years ago? I snuggled in with you and for a moment, for one quiet moment, I felt content.

You poked me in the belly again, teasing me about my weight.

“I have to go” you said “and you have to wake up.”

Thats when I heard my alarm.

For a few brief moments, in those milliseconds between sleep and smashing my alarm button, I could still feel the smoothness of your skin, the brush of your hair across my face and neck, the taste of you on my lips. Then you were gone. The illusion was broken and I woke up alone in my room. I looked towards the door to my bedroom half expecting to see the hustle and bustle of a JC Penney shoe department but I was disapointed to just see the hallway, my cat wandering towards me, demanding some attention.

I spent today wondering if I should tell you. How much is too much sharing when it comes to friends?. I know I’m only a friend. But part of me wants something more and I’m not sure how to reconcile that.

The dream was intense, playful and extremely x rated. There were things you did that I would never have expected from you. If I told you, would you have a good laugh with me about? Would we kid each other about positions we should have tried in the dream then just carry on as we always have? Would you recoil in horror or would you jokingly admit to having something of a similar dream? Would you be able to forgive my imaginations lack of discretion? Do you feel the same way? Or am I alone in this, deluded by my own overactive and undersexed libido? I’m happy being your friend, but is that all there is? I know it was only a dream and I know where my boundaries are, but part of me can’t wait to go to bed tonite and go shoe shopping again….