Although I’m in a relationship and not actively looking to meet new people, I still have my profile up on OK Cupid, which was sadly acquired by Match.com a while back. It hasn’t been seriously updated in years, and I never reply to anyone or initiate contact with anyone, because I would not really like The Guy I Am Currently Dating spending his time doing that. However, every now and then, I log into my OK Cupid profile to see what people have sent me, because it is an endless source of amusement. If someone seems intelligent or has put thought into what they’ve written me, I’ll click on their profile. One person who wrote to me and introduced himself in a way that included his Meyers-Briggs type, convinced me I should click on his profile. The guy would never be my type, even were I single, but I loved his profile. Under “You should message me if….”, he wrote:

“You know what polyamory means.
You know where Venezuela is.
You want to start a polka-metal band with me”

I’m hoping he’s willing to settle for someone who fits into any one of those three categories, because the likelihood of finding someone who fits into all of them is probably up there with being struck by lightning.

In all seriousness, I’ve had some people I know recently go off on “Why do people keep up their profiles on OK Cupid if they’re not really single?” rants. It isn’t as if it’s just one person complaining about it; I’ve heard it from maybe three or four different people in the span of a few weeks.

Since I’m that person everyone is bitching about, even if they don’t know it, I feel compelled to answer.

I actually like OK Cupid. It is the ONLY dating website from back in my single days where I met people who weren’t complete douchebags (I met “The Worst Guy In Atlanta” via E-Harmony), married or living with someone (I met someone whose girlfriend answered the phone and yelled at me, after 3 months of communication with a guy I really quite liked, via Match.com), someone who was just looking for no-strings attached sex (a short-lived stint on FriendFinder), or a serial cheater (I started getting e-mails from an angry wife of someone I’d started communicating with via LiveJournal, of all places.). I never found love or romance on OK Cupid, but I’m intrigued by psychology, and their fairly extensive online personality testing/comparison drew me in. I made two really close friends via OK Cupid, both of whom lived nowhere near me, but I took a chance on meeting in person, and didn’t find a romantic connection, but found something perhaps more meaningful. Through those people, I met friends-of-friends through OK Cupid, and found out that one’s circle could be so small that when my ex-boyfriend was cheating on me and made the mistake of hitting on my friend’s roommate, I found out about it in no time. So, I’m not in any hurry to delete or deactivate my profile. There’s a lot of nostalgia there, good and bad.

Second of all, my profile kind of rocks. There’s a reason I still get e-mails there, and while my friends are telling me “I only meet people who send me e-mails they obviously send to everyone, say “Hey”, or commit some sexual harassment violation”, I get e-mails from people who make an effort to talk to me about books, psychology, philosophy, politics, music, and other things I’ve indicated as being of interest to me. I’ve gotten some e-mails that are extremely flattering and sincere, and make me think “That’s the kind of guy I’d want to fix my friend up with”. My profile may also be the longest profile on OK Cupid. That’s not an accident. While I am indeed a loquacious human being, I am aware I made my profile longer and more revealing than necessary. Why? Because it takes a lot to really get to know me, much less date me. If your attention span/interest in me doesn’t even warrant reading a full page of text, you’re definitely not right for me.

Numerous friends who use online dating sites have asked me why my profile seems to work for me, and attracts mostly the “right” kind of attention…and if I’d help them improve theirs. I think having a good profile is key. I have two friends who met via OK Cupid, and they are happily married, and comprise a third of our trivia team. One of them, like me, crafted a lengthy and slightly arrogant profile to attract the kind of girl he was seeking. It worked. In the future, I plan to post another blog called “Why Your Dating Profile Sucks, And How To Fix It“.

Finally, I do not delete my profile because OK Cupid was never founded strictly as a dating site. Yes, yes, Match.com bought it out and screwed everything up, and now those of us who aren’t looking to date feel pressured to not be there—although, ironically, it’s become a gathering place for members of the poly community looking to meet new partners, which I might have appreciated five years ago. The reason there are all the options for your relationship status is because they wanted it to be something akin to Facebook for strangers, where you could meet like-minded individuals based on personality testing.

It isn’t that site anymore, and eventually, I’m sure I’ll delete my account. But I still find some sort of amusement via some of the e-mails I receive, and some of them are genuinely touching and restore my faith in the idea that I still have more soulmates floating around the Universe, some of whom I may encounter someday.

I don’t understand, however, the ire of single friends who believe those who are not single shouldn’t be on the site. After all, there’s no “cap” on the number of people who can be on the site, so it’s not as if my never-updated profile is drawing attention away from someone who actively wants to meet others. And just because I’m not going to be interested in dating you—well, how is that different from seeing the profile of an available person who isn’t interested in dating you?

I specify that I no longer do online dating, I’m in a relationship, and not looking to meet people…and if I do, it’s a strictly friendship-thing. Frankly, I have a hard enough time keeping up with the friends who occupy space in my life and my heart, and I don’t have too much room for meeting new people. But, perhaps one day, I’ll be at a different phase in my life and new friendships will be more important to me, or I’ll remember how some of the closest relationships in my life came about online and turned my life upside-down, and feel compelled to explore that again. In the meantime, though, I’m intending to leave my non-dating oriented profile up, and I don’t see why anyone should take issue with that.

Let’s face it, it’s not as if the world will be heartbroken that I’m unavailable…especially when the site will show you a string of pictures of women similar to me, and say, “You may want to meet these people instead”.

Oh, OK Cupid. You’re so fickle and do nothing for a girl’s ego. That must be why I stay with you, even when others tell me to go.

(P.S. It’s amazing the number of people I know from my “real life” that OK Cupid suggests I meet. I want to write back and tell them, “I met all these people who are totally not my type on my own, but thanks!” It reminds me of an incident a few years ago where my then-roommate was recently divorced, and signed up for E-Harmony. One of her “matches” was the fiance of one of our close friends, and the two are nothing alike. *laughs*)

It doesn’t necessarily have to be Christmas; it can be your favourite December holiday, or absolutely nothing at all, that decides it’s time for you to brave the cold (or, if you live here, the slightly unwelcome chill that doesn’t make “Winter Wonderland” seem really relevant.) and get out there in the world.

Last week, Gala Darling posted a day-to-day plan of action for December survival. While I found the article interesting, let’s be realistic. I’m not going to be motivated enough to do something cool, fun, or creative every single day of the month. Some days, I’m going to spend my evening in bed watching the Real Housewives of Something and eating pizza, because I like reality TV and junk food and don’t really want to do something with every moment of my life. I appreciate time spent doing nothing.

One of the suggestions, however, caught my attention: 12 Dates Of December. The premise is easy, of course. This month, schedule 12 dates to do something fun and interesting.

Gala’s list implied that you should schedule 12 dates to do something fun and interesting with your significant other or spouse, but again, I’m not really that kind of girl. I may *see* The Guy I Am Currently Dating 12 times a month, but if there were always the pressure to do something interesting or romantic or different, I’d quickly exhaust myself. Some of the best times we spend together involve decompressing from everything else, not planning even more shit to do on the calendar.:P Also, no matter how much I like a person, there is no one person in the history of my life that’s ever made me feel like “Hanging out together is so cool, we don’t ever need to hang out with other people”. I know some people experience this, but I think I’m just not wired that way. I’ve never been one to be part of the couple who falls off the radar, because they’re spending every night at home. After a week or two of that, I get incredibly bored. Additionally, The Guy I Am Currently Dating and I do not live together, so I’d be even more over the introversion factor.

However, I totally support the idea that you should make the effort to put 12 interesting, adventurous, fun, or sociable events on your calendar for December. Being an event planner, this isn’t too difficult for me. I like to go out, I like people, and I like events that are a little out of the ordinary. When you think about it, though, 12 social outings that are not just a trip to the movies or the coffee shop can seem a bit daunting. Particularly for introverts, spending over one-third of your free time socializing with your fellow human beings can take some effort and commitment. Also, during a season where everything seems focused on the need to spend money, going out all the time can seem overwhelming for the average person feeling the pressure to buy expensive gifts for everyone.

I don’t really want or need much in the gift department. I like my clothes and my jewelry and my perfumes, but for the most part, I’m more likely to spend my money on experiences. It’s OK with me if I show up in pictures at different events with different people, and I’m wearing the same outfit, as long as all the photos look like I’m having a great time. I’d much rather have a friend take me out to do something new and interesting than buy me a scarf or an Amazon gift card, because in my world, sharing experiences with other people is what it’s all about.

I personally am going to try to focus on spending time with those important to me, rather than stress about spending money I don’t have in order to celebrate the holiday season. I’m not traveling this December, I’m not buying anyone a new flat-screen TV, and I’m not putting undue pressure on myself to find a new job before January 1st, or to make the holiday season the most perfect one ever. I’m not buying a $300 dress for New Year’s Eve, or looking to score tickets to the hottest event in town. I’m not even baking cookies. Strangely, I’m feeling pretty happy and relaxed about all of those things. It’s as if I’ve realised how much anxiety is really behind all our holiday traditions, and behind that is the desire to please other people, especially our families. Often, this is at the cost of our own peace of mind or emotional stability. Anyone who has ever seen Chevy Chase freak out because one of the two million lights he’s put on his house to impress his kids burned out and the thing won’t light up, only to discover the power supply in the basement was disconnected, knows that this pressure can be pretty great.

That’s why I like the 12 Dates Of Christmas. I am going to try to create 12 different, fun, memorable experiences with some of the people in my life who are important to me. (alas, many live at a distance, and while I really want to see them and spend time with them, I know it’s not feasible…and I may end up also having 12 Dates Of March to catch up with all my Northeastern friends and family.) Whether you’re in a relationship and want to schedule 12 dates with the same person, you’re actively looking for someone and want to amp up your dating life, or you’re like me and want to make time to really connect with those who hold true value in your life, it’s a really rewarding idea.

I rang in December 1st with my first date of Christmas, sitting outside on a rooftop bar in Buckhead, drinking overpriced cocktails and sharing stories with good friends while being silly with strangers.

I’ve recently become friends with a girl who moved to Atlanta and I’d known on FB via an old friend of mine in New York, but never met in person. I had no idea whether or not we’d hit it off; we’re the same age and have a few things in common, but also a few huge differences in our personalities. Since I don’t really tend to click with other women all that often, I wasn’t particularly expecting us to become friends, but I’ve been surprised how much fun I’ve had getting to know her. I wish we’d lived up in NYC at the same time!

Alas, we’re here in Atlanta now, and I wanted to make her feel welcome by throwing a housewarming party to celebrate her new apartment, and inviting out a few friends who have been in my life for many of the years I’ve been in Atlanta. I don’t think there was anyone in attendance I’ve known for less than four years, which was kind of cool. Since she’s the kind of girl who likes places, people, and things that are both fun and classy, we decided to do dinner at a nice Italian restaurant in the area that actually holds the honour of being the first restaurant I ever visited in Atlanta. That was followed by a cocktail at a bar known more for ambiance than for anything else, Whiskey Blue.

I remember the place having a nicer view of the city than it actually does. Although it’s a rooftop bar, the sides are obscured by plastic dividers that keep drunken patrons from accidentally falling off the building, and lots of fake trees with Christmas lights. We managed to not only make some friends who bought us tequila shots, but to steal their table when they left 15 minutes later, ending up with a good location to chill out, talk, and spend time with friends.

I also found myself in extroverted mode for the evening, and wore a fascinator in my hair that others seemed to find—well, fascinating. This resulted in free drinks, pictures, and friendly hellos from strangers, a vibe you don’t always get at bars where everyone is there with their own group of friends, or looking to hit on single people. We’d only intended to stay and have a drink before heading to a bar with a different type of scene, but before we knew it, it was 2:45 AM and the city was closing for the evening.

So, I have to give due thanks to Whiskey Blue for being more entertaining and providing a better atmosphere than expected, even if they did charge $10 for parking. It was a good way to ring in December, all captured with some fun photos. I hope, also, my new friend is starting to feel more at home in Atlanta. It’s not NYC, but you can definitely have fun and meet cool people if you try hard enough. :)

I have 11 more interesting Dates Of Christmas to go, and am not sure what sorts of shenanigans that might lead to, but I’ll certainly blog about them. I was born in December, so between that and the holidays, it’s always been one of my favourite times of year. However, it’s historically been defined by travel. (For some time, I was insistent on celebrating NYE in a different city each year, and I did.) This year, I’ll be going out of my way to have a great time in my own city. Advice and suggestions are always accepted!! :)

For those who don’t know, I’ve been MIA for about 10 days because I’ve been doing some traveling. While the original plan was to head up to the Northeast this fall, because I’m not yet well enough or strong enough to handle a holiday visit (and honestly, don’t mind celebrating the holidays with my “adopted” family of friends here in Atlanta, and The Guy I Am Currently Dating, rather than the blood relatives that like to chain smoke and show endearment via verbally abusive commentary.). However, the plan didn’t work out due to timing reasons, and financial reasons, the two being extraordinarily related.

It can safely be said that October has not been a stellar month for me. When I began planning my travels, I was still working full-time for a company in New Orleans I’d been with for over two years. By the end of September, I’d lost my job, but had non-refundable tickets and hotel bookings. I’d been working doing freelance work when available, but I really felt my heart wasn’t here. Friends suggested working on putting the finishing touches on my upcoming book of poetry (still set for publication in December, 2012) or taking the time to work on creative projects. Yet, I mostly felt uninspired, lost, heartbroken, and as if I were that person for whom nothing is ever destined to work out. I felt amazingly stuck, unloved, under-appreciated, and uninspired. I started to feel neglected by the people in my normal sphere of life, and as if those who truly care about me are all scattered across the globe. I started to feel like nothing I was working on was worthy of finishing. In short, I had this revelation: I’m not a particularly good writer, I’m not a particularly fascinating person, the days of relying on a certain type of charm and irresistible spirit to make things work out have long since passed me, and I have no particular talents and prospects for the future. Even those who genuinely love me don’t always believe in me or take me as seriously as I should. People in my life seem to be moving forward with their own lives, as planned or otherwise, leaving me behind.

Some things never change, so I did what I always do when I feel as if the world is against me and I am lost and alone. I packed a suitcase and headed for somewhere that wasn’t here.

In this case, it took a lot to even get me to that point. In addition to getting fired, my dog had been sick for a number of months with a skin condition that was continually worsening. It took a vet bill of over $300 to cure her, and since no friends were available to watch her, I had to hire a friend who is a pet-sitter (who luckily agreed to charge half her normal fee for taking care of Trixie.). Travel is expensive, and while I used to manage to travel with $20 in my pocket at the age of 23, it turns out I’m no longer quite so low-maintenance, nor am I that energetic. So, money was an issue even before I left. Yet, I still felt I needed to go. With a Northeast visit out of the question, I decided I’d visit a place I’d always wanted to visit but have never gotten around to seeing: Savannah. I’d heard it was beautiful, but never made it there, mostly because all my attempts to get someone to go with me have failed. Friends are always busy, and one of the major incompatibilities between me and The Guy I Am Currently Dating is that he doesn’t like to spontaneously travel, whereas I find it one of the most romantic activities on Earth.

Since I can only handle bus travel for a few hours at a time (although it seems to be growing with the passage of time, I suspect it will be awhile before I can do the straight-through 18-hour trip to NYC again.), my first stop was Charlotte. As I mentioned last time, it’s not my favourite city in the world—I find it a bit corporate and straight-laced, and tends to take itself too seriously. In fact, I call it “Atlanta Lite”. However, it has a number of charming spots, good restaurants, and bits of local flair here and there that seriously make the city. This time, I stayed with a friend who lived in a more colourful, off-the-beaten path kind of place. While on my last visit, I stayed with someone who had a gorgeous, theatrical house with a private lake, but was located in the suburbs of the city. This time, I stayed with someone who had a one-bedroom apartment in an area that looked lovely and residential, but she honestly described as a recently gentrified area.

Not one to be deterred from walking around the city by myself at night, unless it’s where I live, I was pleased to note that it was only about half a mile to some bars and pubs. After pizza at a well-known Charlotte eatery called Fuel, I made my way to an art gallery that was doing loud music, hors d’oeuvres, and drinks. The girl with whom I was staying, Kaitlyn, happens to be more of the tattooed, punk-rock kind of girl, and she suggested I go see a few bands playing at that location, one of which happened to consist of friends of hers. Me being me, I happily stumbled upon the rather pretentious art gallery/lounge space next to a vintage store. As it turns out, the place I was looking for was *behind* the art gallery.

After getting past the door guy, I started laughing. The place she sent me to (she didn’t accompany me because she was having zombie movie night at her house, an invite I politely declined) was not just a dive bar with loud bands, which I might have rather expected. It was a PIRATE bar. Seriously. Everything was pirate themed, including some of the patrons, and it cracked me up.

The bartender had no idea what was in a sour apple martini (I’d probably have had success if I asked for vodka and apple pucker in a glass.), and served me some weird green concoction in which I clearly identified Midori and watermelon. (when asked what else he put in there, I was told “apple vodka and Sprite”.). However, people were friendly in that emo sort of way, and drinks were $4. (I learned to stick to vodka tonic). One of the most interesting things was the band that Kaitlyn’s friends played in, called something along the lines of “Lucyfer’s Angels”. They were clearly goth/industrial, but played guitars and bongos, and only did covers of 1950′s and 1960′s doo-wop songs. I definitely felt like it was one of the more surreal experiences I’d had at a bar. Expect the unexpected.

As much as I know enough about Charlotte to identify my clear lack of interest in living there, and that cab fare will kill you if you’re anywhere but downtown (just like Atlanta), I will likely continue to make stops for a day or two during my travels. I always stay just long enough to have an adventure or two, and head out. It’s four hours from ATL, and conveniently, has a MegaBus that will get you to Durham in closer to 3 hours than 4. From Durham, you can MegaBus to DC, and if so inclined, Philly and NYC. I have to say, I’m pretty fond of MegaBus. It has twice the room of the Greyhound, although you’re taking chances if the bus is full, and you don’t wish to ride on the top of the bus. (someone suffering from vertigo does not.) I hesitate to recommend and sing the praises of MegaBus, because I don’t really want too many other people taking it. Suffice it to say, however, I was pleased.

After Charlotte, I took a few days to stop in the Durham area to visit with a good friend of mine who is finishing up his degrees in that area. Surprisingly, I won’t share much in terms of gossip or personal details regarding visiting with said friend, as he’s a very private individual who has asked me more than once not to turn him into a character on my blog, or to use the blog as a space for venting about our friendship (which does have a history of being rather complex and occasionally blog-worthy). While I could probably get away with it, since said friend does not read my blog, I’m one of those types that respects and honours promises. So, you don’t get to hear about all the drama that did or did not ensue. :P (There was actually no drama at all, which is not to be confused with a lack of interesting experiences.)

In all seriousness, I will say I did in fact have a lovely visit with my friend. He’s one of those types of people I always, always delight in seeing, perhaps because we don’t get to see one another that often—or perhaps because it’s just an unfortunate example of how many of my favourite people in life are not geographically well-placed in my world. I am blessed to have a lot of special people in my life, but the flip side of the coin is that so many of them do not live anywhere close to me. It’s a testament to my ability to listen to my intuition when it comes to other people that these friendships are typically amazingly strong, despite the distance, and have gone on for between a quarter and a third of my life. They are often the type of friendships that leave me wondering what kind of different path life might have taken, had we ended up living in the same city. Would we end up being closer friends, or just casual social friends? Would we have inevitably become enemies, lovers, changed the other person’s life path simply by being in every day proximity? Do people simply like me better at a distance, because I am perhaps easier to enjoy or to idealise or to tolerate in short-but-intense bursts of AlaynaTime? *laughs*

As for my friend in Durham, it occurs to me that every time we’ve spent time together in person, our interpersonal dynamic has always been slightly different, as have the circumstances and level of trust and communication. It is a friendship that constantly keeps me on my toes, whereas with a different sort of person, it would likely keep me on guard in a way that would prevent a friendship from actually developing. I’ve noted to him that some people seem to have a rather indefinable chemistry and connection, and regardless of how convenient or sought-after or well-understood that happens to be, or how or if it is addressed, it exists nonetheless. There have only been a few people who have passed through my life with whom there’s actually a tangible feeling of connection that isn’t based in something simple that I can make sense of and consequently dismiss as easy to “get”—like physical chemistry or having everything in common—and those people have turned out to be the ones that have affected my life deeply in some way. It is most unlikely that I share this rather persistent sense of connection and chemistry with this friend, who seems so unlike me at first glance, but is actually very much like me in a number of ways. Sometimes, there’s simply a strange balance between how you and another person interact, and it is very multi-faceted, yet natural. I suspect it is just the way in which the Universe lets you know in a number of tiny ways that you’ve encountered a special person who is likely to remain an important being in your sphere of existence, no matter how complex that turns out to be throughout the course of time.

We keep in touch through phone calls and text messages, but visits are rare and special Consequently, even when things take a turn toward the awkward or the dramatic or the thoroughly unexpected, we always manage to have a great time spending time with one another. This visit was no exception, which can be summed up in the following sentence: I went to the North Carolina State Fair

This may seem like the most mundane of stories I have in my arsenal of travel stories to choose to relate to you, but it’s actually not. I’m a city girl, and have never been to a state fair. I’m usually up for trying something that I would never do anywhere else, with anyone else, so of course I wanted to go check it out, picturing a place where people competed by eating pounds of butter and Aunt Ida’s homemade jam won a blue ribbon.

Strangely, I had the opportunity to cross something off my bucket list, something that’s been there since I moved to the Southeast: Eat a deep fried Oreo. Not only that, but we also had a deep fried cupcake, deep fried pickles, and deep fried praline pie. After that, I bought a bag of cotton candy. I haven’t had cotton candy since I was like 8 years old, and though we gave it a shot, my friend and I were unable to eat the bag of cotton candy over a fairly extended period of time. It’s like it regenerates.

We also walked through a lovely garden that kind of resembled what you’d think Alayna’s Faery Garden would look like. Seriously, if I lived in the middle of nowhere, this would be my backyard. Lots of pretty flowers, bridges lit up with tiny lights, trees lit up with tiny lights, butterflies, benches, gazebos and as if to punctuate just how much this location was designed for me, they started to set off fireworks. Being a city girl, I don’t think I’ll ever have the opportunity to have this sort of Alayna’s Wonderland Escape, and I’m sure building such a thing might cost more than the house. But still, it was delightful.

In the end, I was so hopped up on sugar and good company and more sugar and deep-fried sugar, I was able to walk a rather significant distance back to the car on a rather chilly night, and my body cooperated with the endeavour.In fact, for the most part, it tolerated the crowds, the neon, the spinning rides (not going on them, of course, but being near them), which gave me hope that I am improving. If all I need is a consistent supply of sugar and delightful company, there’s no reason I should not have made a full recovery by now. *laughs*

As a post-script, I’d like to say that I maintain my stance on cows. The brown ones are NOT cows. The only ones we spied at the fair were clearly Chick-Fil-A cows. :P I joked they should be dressed in rainbow garb.

Aside from spending time with the aforementioned friend, I genuinely enjoy visits to Durham because I really and truly like Durham. I know my friend finds this strange, being a big-city kind of person who can’t wait to get out of such a small town, and me always bitching that Atlanta is too small to keep me happy, but Durham is a strangely fun place. I never fail to meet interesting strangers or have something fun happen to me. They have a performing arts centre that would make most larger cities jealous, and the atmosphere is a strange mix of the academic, the artistic, and the liberal…all things I like. It is not fancy, it is not pretentious—unless you purposely seek it out—but it is really a charming place filled with positive energy. I am far more impressed with it than Charlotte, Richmond, Savannah, Jacksonville, Tampa, or any other small-to-medium sized city in the Southeast, with the exception of Asheville. (I also really love the culture and people in Asheville.)

On this visit, I spent my last day in NC in Raleigh. Prior to knowing the friend in Durham, the only visits I’d made to the area were to another friend in Raleigh, or to stay in the Research Triangle Area. Although it’s only 20 minutes apart, Raleigh is significantly more conservative and more upscale than Durham. The people are also much more reserved, although once I got to know a few people, it seemed they were more than willing to open up and befriend me.

In Raleigh, I had the misfortune of getting rained on multiple times, and people mistaking my normal, everyday appearance for a sign that I was part of a theatrical production. However, I also saw a comedy night, met the Organizer of a local Meetup that basically does what I do for the same sort of group as I organize in Atlanta, and was “singled out” by one of the comedians for his act. After the show, I spent time talking to another comedian who performed that night, and found him very pleasant company. (Chivalry is not dead when men want to buy you a drink and enjoy your conversation, and are intuitive enough to know not to hit on you.)

The women in Raleigh didn’t seem to gravitate towards me as much as the men; I’m very familiar with that look of judgment that says “Why do you have to go around looking and acting like that? I don’t appreciate you being you.”. I received that look often, usually after an attempt to introduce myself to a stranger. However, I did meet a very sweet girl who was at the bar we started off the evening hanging out at, who was funny and personable and in a wheelchair. Her husband, who seemed absolutely devoted to her, told a story about how they met in college, only to find out they grew up about 10 minutes apart. It was so sweet, and for about 20 minutes, I believed in stuff like “things that are meant to be” and “true love conquers all” and “human beings are all designed to be monogamous and grow old together.”

All in all, I may not agree with the politics of many, but there’s no arguing that the people of North Carolina are “nice”, at least to me, and I’m not exactly conventional or low-key. I was pleased to see that Duke’s campus not only got rid of Chick-Fil-A, but was flying rainbow flags out of windows, as were many independent establishments in Durham. Once I got up to Raleigh, though, if I heard one more pro-Mitt Romney ad, I was going to start cutting TV connections. *laughs*

There’s no doubt I’ll visit all three cities again in the future, likely on my way up to D.C. or NYC in the Spring. In the meantime, however, I informed my friend in Durham it was his turn to visit Atlanta on a winter road trip, since it is also the season of the holidays, my birthday, NYE, and my book release party. I don’t travel when I have to wear clothes with sleeves or wear socks. *laughs*

After my adventurous night in Raleigh (and no sleep, since I was up at 7 AM!), I headed off to Savannah….but that story is long enough to be a blog in itself, and will have to wait until tomorrow. Spoiler alert: Absolutely nothing went the way it was planned! :P

Despite the fact that I’m hardly a dating authority, it amuses me that I get questions from both real life friends and readers of this blog whom I’ve never met, regarding the big questions pertaining to dating and relationships. I do hate to disappoint, but I don’t actually have the answers. I just have some viewpoints based on personal experience, and my own unique personality. You may be nothing like me, and find out that what works for me doesn’t work for you at all. :)

Nevertheless, I received an interesting note in the comments section from a young lady who is bothered by the fact that she’s spending time with a guy who always looks around the room whenever they go out together, and wonders if being bothered by this makes her too sensitive.

You’ve come to the right place for advice on this one, friendly blog reader. As it happens, I have a personal pet peeve regarding spending my time with guys who suffer from “wandering eye syndrome”.

Obviously, this habit of looking around all the time, turning the head or body away when an attractive woman walks by, not paying attention to a word you’re saying because the guy’s eyes are staring at someone else, or actually getting up and leaving you to talk to an available attractive female is unacceptable in a committed romantic partnership. However, I find it unacceptable behaviour in virtually any context, and that’s just how it is with me. I’m not going to allow myself to feel diminished by someone saying, via words or action, “I like your company, but I’m going to pay attention to someone who interests me more”.

I shouldn’t have to. Why in the world would I? My company is way more valuable than that, and I know it.

Most girls don’t, so they tolerate it. They worry that demanding more makes them bitchy or “oversensitive.” It doesn’t. It just means you’ve set standards for yourself, so kudos on that. I’ve ended up never going out with someone again or ending a friendship over some of these more extreme examples, because if there’s one thing I don’t enjoy, it’s being disrespected.

Certainly, there are levels of tolerance for this behaviour based on your relationship with someone. If it’s coming from a husband, fiance, or monogamous male partner, it’s way more of a problem than if it’s something that happens when you’re out with a platonic male friend.

However, there are many different types of relationships, and many different situations where “wandering eye syndrome” is a problem. For instance, if I’m on a first or second date with someone, I realise this person is obviously keeping his options open. However, if you’re that open that you can’t focus on getting to know me because you saw boobs walk by, you’re probably not for me. I’m not going to be calling you back, 100% guaranteed.

Likewise, if I am in an open relationship and have a secondary partner or “friend with benefits” in my life, I’m well aware I am not the only female in this person’s universe. However, when that person is spending time with me, I am. If we’re not in a monogamous relationship, you can do whatever you want (as long as you respect our agreed upon guidelines), but NOT EVER when I am in the room. Sorry, but I have to insist anyone I’m involved with, even if it’s not exclusive, or we’re not going to end up getting married and living happily ever after, shows me a certain amount of respect and interest. It’s freaking rude to hit on someone in front of anyone you’re currently sleeping with, and you have all the time we don’t spend together to meet other attractive women. This kind of relationship can be very complex and full of drama, or it can be very simple. I prefer to keep it simple, by having “relationship rules” that work for me. One of them is, “You may be seeing other people, and we may even discuss it, but respect me enough to keep that out of our time together.” If you don’t have the attention span, interest in spending time with me, or level of self-control where that guideline works for you, we’re not compatible, and probably should not have any kind of romantic involvement, period.

Of course, there are exceptions to the romantic relationship rule. You may be in a happily monogamous relationship with a guy who is a hopeless flirt, and it doesn’t bother you…except, the truth is, sometimes it does, but you don’t mention it. You may be in a happily poly relationship that’s going so well that it’s time for your primary and secondary partners to meet, and maybe they just happen to hit it off fabulously. In these cases, you’re just going to have to expect that someone paying attention to others is part of the package. But, for the most part, whether you’re committed, seeing other people, or just open; married or dating; on your first date or your fiftieth, you should expect that the other person has gone out with you to spend time with you and connect with you, not scour the room for other objects of interest. Of course, that’s just my personal opinion. I know other people who disagree, and are apt to categorise my way of looking at things as “high-maintenance” or “oversensitive.”

The place where it starts to get confusing, for many girls, is when it comes to spending time with male friends. I have some male friends I actually used to date or have hooked up with at some time in the past, some that I’ve been attracted to at some point, some who’ve been attracted to me at some point, and some where that kind of chemistry never once entered the occasion—and the disinterest in anything beyond friendship has always been mutual and obvious. So, whatever your past history or current feelings towards your friend, is it rude when your friend stops paying attention to your presence because someone else has caught his attention?

In a nutshell: yes. This doesn’t just apply to male friends, but all friends in general. If I’ve taken time out of my life to have dinner with you, I expect a little more regard from you than “Sorry, I didn’t hear you” because you were staring at something or someone else. I mean, I didn’t have to go out to dinner with you, and I certainly didn’t do so to feel invisible.

Again, there are exceptions. I’ve gone to singles’ bars with single friends, with the express purpose of helping them meet someone, and as a result, had to find my own way home. I invited an ex-boyfriend, a shy guy who hadn’t had luck finding any serious potential dates since our long-term relationship ended, to a party where he didn’t know anyone. He ended up leaving me as soon as we arrived to talk to a girl who caught his interest, and is now his wife. I can’t really fault him for that one. If the purpose of an outing with friends is to meet dating prospects or hook up, you can’t feel ignored, abandoned, or slighted when this happens…even if you have a huge secret crush on the friend you accompanied to the singles’ bar. (and why would you do that anyway?)

On the other hand, I’ve been on first dates where the guy I was with kept looking at the door like he was expecting someone the entire time. This clued me in that either he wasn’t interested, was a player, or was married. I’ve been out at a dive bar with a platonic friend who began rudely ignoring me to talk to a stripper who worked at the establishment next door, leaving me sitting completely alone and out of my element for some time. I’ve traveled 800 miles to visit a friend, who then pretty much ignored me the rest of the evening because he was more interested in talking to another single friend I brought out with me. I’ve gone to visit a friend in another city, attended a party with him where I didn’t know a single person, and had him abandon me for the night because I wasn’t as attractive of a girl as he was looking for, but he met someone who was. All of these were incredibly uncool scenarios where I ended up feeling as disposable and insignificant as the gum stuck to the bottom of someone’s shoe, while simultaneously knowing I deserved a little more respect and regard from anyone who called me a friend. And, incidentally, these are all examples of situations that occurred with male friends with whom I didn’t have a romantic or physical relationship. You can imagine how colourful some of the others are. :P

Time is a precious commodity, and we don’t have unlimited amounts of it. I generally look to populate my universe with those genuinely interested in spending time with me. If someone isn’t, is halfhearted about it, or is always putting the potential hook-up above friendship, I don’t know that I’m that interested in keeping the friendship as part of my life. I don’t really spend time going to dinner or having drinks or catching up with acquaintances. That’s just me. I’m kind of hard to get to know on a one-on-one basis, and while I know a lot of people, I’m not very invested in those I know socially. I know I’ll always see them around. If I’m spending time with you one-on-one, it’s because we’ve achieved a certain level of respect, friendship, and emotional intimacy. It’s because, for one reason or another, I care about you or you interest me in a way that puts you amongst a select group of people. Because of this, I tend to develop extremely strong, long-term friendships…but am very choosy about them. I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing. And if I turn down your dinner invite, it’s not personal. :P

I used to be as bad about disrespecting friends and romantic partners as anyone on the planet. I didn’t have the “wandering eye” problem, but I’d go to a party with one person only to leave with another. I was so inconsiderate that The Guy I Am Currently Dating, before we were actually dating but I knew he was interested in me, offered to drive me to another guy’s house—as well as the other guy—because the other guy was too drunk to do so. I had a friend come visit me, declare his attraction to me, and in order to deal with the uncomfortable situation, I got drunk and made out with some guy I didn’t even know or like very well. I’d have friends invite me to lunch or for drinks, and incapable of introverted communication, would immediately turn the event into something I invited 5 other friends to. It is clear that genuine intimacy terrified the hell out of me at this point in my life, and I went to all lengths to avoid it…but I was really hurtful towards others throughout the process of growing up.

Looking back, I see how reprehensible this behaviour was, and how I generally had no respect for the feelings of others, or concern for anyone but myself. I really was honestly one of the most self-absorbed and callously hedonistic people you’d ever meet, and it took a swift kick in the ass from life to get me to grow up. I think this is why I judge this behaviour so harshly in others, and have very little tolerance for it. I see not just the behaviour itself, but the selfishness and disregard for others that lurks behind it…and no matter what our relationship, I tend to not have space for that in my world. It’s something that’s going to piss me off, make me cry, or leave me confused because I know I deserve better from people, but am not getting it.

So, in reply to the person who came seeking advice about the “guy who looks around the room all the time when he’s with me”, I can only say that I don’t know this guy or what kind of relationship you have with him, but you deserve better, too. If the relationship is romantic or physical in any way, take it as a “He’s just not that into you” sign. If it’s a friend you’re interested in, find someone else worthy of your interest. If it’s a friend who is a purely platonic friend, realise he’s more interested in looking for dating options than your friendship, and take it or leave it as you wish.

No matter what, it’s worth having a discussion about. I once considered not spending time with someone because whenever we were out, his eyes would constantly move around, or he wouldn’t make eye contact, and I’d feel I wasn’t being heard. I finally brought it up, and expressed my frustration. He apologised and explained he had ADD, and sometimes, it was hard for him to sit still and focus on any one thing, task, or person for too long. It isn’t always personal, so if someone really matters to you, don’t just jump ship before bringing it up.

However, if someone abandons you at a bar or a party, or you’re out on a date and you excuse yourself, only to find them elsewhere, talking to a hotter/more interesting/more sexually available person, just move on. If you’re dating someone who flirts with others in your presence, including your friends, to the point that it makes you uncomfortable, it’s probably time to move on. There are enough people out there who will assign you greater respect and value that you don’t need to try to make excuses for that behaviour. It hurts when this happens, but there are many people who will move heaven and earth to spend time with you.

Why not demand that level of value, instead of trying to convince someone who doesn’t see it that you’re worth it? You’ll never convince that person, whereas someone else may offer it freely, just because you’ve put it out there that you don’t intend to settle for less.

When it comes to the history of my dating and romantic life, I’m not really in any position to complain. When I look around at the number of single female friends who are constantly bemoaning the lack of eligible dating partners and end up getting hooked up with people who clearly don’t treat them in a way of which they are deserving, I can both relate and not relate at the same time. Many of these girls come to me for dating advice, because my story is not theirs. It doesn’t make it a better or easier story, mind you, but just a different one.

I’ve never had problems meeting people. Perhaps it is because, as discussed in a different post, I take a different approach to dating and relationships, in that I don’t really invest myself in strangers. It takes work to get to know me, and anyone who is really interested is going to put in that work. Whether that way of doing things means I end up with a good friend, a lover, a committed romantic partner, a confusing yet positive life situation, or some combination of the above, what it does mean is that I don’t surround myself with people who treat me in a way that is less than I deserve. I am not disposable, a one-night stand, an object of amusement, or someone you wouldn’t want to hang out with, regardless of how our relationship operates. I’m pretty happy with that. The result is that I have some awesome folks in my life.

I also tend to be more open-minded when it comes to who I choose to spend my time with. Like everyone else, I have my superficial side, but things like looks, money, what kind of car someone drives, and what they do for a living is rather an afterthought when meeting someone. The thing that’s going to get me to call or e-mail the day after I meet someone is “It was awesome to meet you, because it seemed like we had a sincere emotional connection.”

If I’ve had a downfall in my dating life, or a masochistic tendency, it’s my penchant for falling for unavailable people or idealising impossible relationships. I’m rarely interested in those who actively pursue me with compliments and flowers and e-mails telling me how great I am. I’m appreciative, but whatever inspires someone to spend way too much time thinking about another person, that doesn’t light up that particular switchboard for me.

On the other hand, I have no tolerance for chauvinists who approach women as objects or conquests, people who are too shallow to care about anything other than getting drunk, hooking up, and never talking to one another again, and people who outwardly show disdain or disrespect. They say there’s a fine line between love and hate, but I know where the line is, and I’m not foolish enough to fall for anyone who doesn’t think I’m awesome.

No, my particular downfall is the person I *think* may be interested in me, but I’m not sure. Or, it’s the person I *know* is interested in me “but”, and “if only”. “If only I were single when I met you”, “If only we fit together better on a practical level”, “If only it weren’t impossible to make this work”.

I actually have awesome intuition when it comes to these things. If I *think* someone is interested in me, but they refuse to acknowledge that—because they don’t see it turning into a relationship, because they’re already in a relationship and trying to observe boundaries, because I somehow scare or intimidate them, because they’re playing a game where they’re counting on indifference to get my attention—I’m almost always right. And because I don’t take the most traditional approach to relationships, indifference and uncertainty does not dissuade me. It actually makes me feel more interested and more attached to someone who may or may not be the best choice for me.

A wise friend of mine told me it’s simply because I’m a natural-born huntress; I enjoy the chase, the idealism of a relationship that could be over the reality of a difficult, messy one that actually is. I enjoy the attention of those who are unavailable—friends who can never become lovers, lovers who can never become committed partners, committed partners who may not be lifetime soulmates—because I am at heart committmentphobic, easily bored, and enjoy the thrill of infatuation.

This may be true. For instance, I recall once taking a class every Monday, and looking forward to it because there was this guy, and I couldn’t tell whether or not he was interested in me. Yet, for three hours every week, I was interested in finding out. I wasn’t yet the person I am today, the one who’d just come out and ask, or actively pursue the guy, but I knew how to read people. I knew that if he were totally indifferent to my presence, I wouldn’t bother looking forward to seeing him every Monday. Yet, he never made a direct move. It was like a game, and one I looked forward to participating in every week. (As a side note, we did end up dating for awhile. It’s one of my more memorable and life-changing experiences, but we were far from right for one another. If people who are extremely opposite in personality and approach to life struggle to make it work, people who are effectively the same person struggle even more.)

I have another friend, one I’ve known for many, many years. I really don’t know if he’s ever found me attractive. Neither of us has ever made a move, or asked one another out when we were both single at the same time. Yet, for years, I’ve always been thrilled to run into this person when I do. It’s that weird thing that always makes you smile when you see someone, and you don’t know why. I don’t even actually think I’m attracted to him—he’s not my type, on so many levels. But I enjoy our friendship, and I enjoy the unspoken knowledge of “There’s something a little different in the way we relate than just being friends who get along.” If I *did* know he were attracted to me on more than an intuitive level, it would really create some weirdness and dysfunction and potentially ruin a friendship. Likewise, if I found out that over the many years we’ve known each other, he was never once attracted to me, I’d doubt myself, my intuition, and my ability to read others. Therefore, our friendship will always stay exactly as it is, at least if I have anything to do with it.

I also have people in my life who, in the world of polyamorous relationships, would (or have in the past), become ideal secondary partners. These relationships have oddly been the strongest, least complex, and emotionally fulfilling relationships/friendships in my life, despite by nature being something that should be complex. Sometimes, it’s just easy, and it’s because you know where and how someone belongs in your life, at least at a certain point in time. There is a certain freedom in those relationships that is important to me, and even during my monogamous relationships, I’ve somehow kept what I term “romantic friendships” in that particular space in my life. Yet, if we were both single, available, on the same page and in the same place in life at the exact same time, attempting to have a more committed, exclusive relationship would probably do irreparable damage to all the good things we share.(yes, lessons learned the hard way.)

Not all of the soulmates you encounter in life are those you’re supposed to consider white-picket-fence-marriage-and-babies material. People are in your life for different reasons, and if they’re unavailable to you on a certain level, it’s probably because they’re never going to fit into the convenient little space you wonder if they might—and it has little to do with other people, other relationships, practical obstacles, and whatnot. If someone is the right person for you, you’re going to move the world around to fit them in your life. Otherwise, you should be content with knowing they are meant to fit into your life in some other way…even if everyone’s feelings are utterly confused about the situation.

Knowing this does not keep me from being most interested in those when I’m not quite sure how someone feels about me, or what the possibilities are moving forward, or whether or not life circumstances will be subject to change in the future….but my intuitive sense and simple enjoyment of the time I spend with someone tells me there’s more to the story than “It’s really awesome that we’re friends”. This is a dangerous habit, one The Guy I Am Currently Dating would most likely prefer I did not have. I think I might consider myself a more monogamous person by nature if I did not have this particular tendency, and did not feel consistently energized and intrigued by the emotional uncertainty of these situations. On the other side of the coin, these situations and people always affect me on a deeper level than they should, so you think I’d want to stop developing serious emotional bonds with people who exist in my life as question marks.

The thing that always throws me is that I’m so infrequently wrong in how I assess a question mark situation, and the type of relationship I end up having with someone….or at least, getting some clear resolution on how someone feels about me.

Sometimes, the answer really is “It’s complicated”, and you need to learn to back off, let go, and have a less emotionally bonded, more platonic friendship…which is difficult, if you’ve never really shared that sphere of existence with someone before. It’s like learning to relate to someone in a whole new way, and it’s not easy, and it feels like a genuine loss for everyone involved. But, sometimes, if you treasure the friendship, it’s necessary (which is how I’ve managed to stay friends with a large percentage of ex-es who have moved on and are now married or committed to other people.) Somehow, it’s easier to move on when you know how the story ends than when something remains an eternal question mark.

Other times, the answer is “It’s complicated”, but there’s something beyond friendship worth exploring, and simply ignoring it causes confusion, emotional angst, and has the power to destroy a friendship. At some point, you have to take chances in order to find out what someone means to you, how they really fit into your life. I think it’s important to assess and appreciate all relationships for what they are, not what you’d like them to be, or how they most conveniently fit into your life at any given time. Sitcoms in the 1990′s loved to address this “friendships-that-are-more-but-nobody-ever-talks-about-it” dynamic; we were all intrigued by Ross and Rachel, Jerry and Elaine, Daphne and Niles. While the situation in real life is just as present and complicated, the answers are not always as black and white as in sitcom-land. It’s possible to fall in love with your friends, be friends with people you once dated, have lovers that are amongst your best friends but you’d never want to spend your life with in a monogamous relationship. It’s possible that most relationships are, a majority of the time, a question mark.

It turns out, I’m not alone. Women are, by nature, attracted to and most likely to be seduced by uncertainty. While many men I know have told me they’ve been attracted to me as a result of being direct and straightforward and not flirting and playing games “just because”, I’ve more than likely been attracted to them because they once existed as a question mark in my life, and there was a need for me to be straightforward, direct, and figure out intuitively how someone felt about me before making a move that can’t be rescinded. More proof that, on a fundamental level, men and women are wired differently and respond differently to different approaches by different types of people.

Sometimes, it amazes me that anyone ever gets together…or stays together…or has clear and simple convictions about the nature of relationships. I actually don’t know if anyone does. We’re all pretty much just winging it here.

But me, I’m hopelessly attracted to things in the shape of a question mark. Fortunately for me, most of life is just that. I’m unlikely to get bored with living anytime soon.

I started writing this blog a few days ago, before my internet crashed. I now have internet and TV back in my life again..so, YAY! However, there will be no obligatory 4th of July post. I hope all my American readers had a lovely one!:)

From time to time, I get questions from readers of this blog—something that is often shocking to me, because I tend to only assume that unless you’re a close friend who is somehow invested in my world, there’s little here to interest you. In fact, the tagline on some of the pages from Jaded Elegance, v.2, read “Unless you’re terribly bored or hopelessly in love with me, stop reading and do something more interesting.”

Fortunately for me, either there are a lot of bored people on the internet, or I have a way with admirers. :P My warning wasn’t heeded.

One of the most common things people write to me is that they’re seeking advice regarding crushes. You’d think this is confined to being a 14 year-old girl problem, but it’s not. I get notes from women who are part of my generation asking about secret office romances, and those in their 40′s who are newly single and ready to get back out on the dating scene. Men of the world, I’ve come to one giant conclusion: for all the time you spend thinking about sex, relationships, dating, flirting, and attractive people, you’re remarkably oblivious to those around you. There are a lot of women walking around this world with secret crushes, and while perhaps many are subtle enough to never let you know about it, I’m sure that some are dropping hints here and there.

I’ll be honest. For a girl who built a blog around the concept of always being infatuated with one thing or person or another, and is working on a book of poetry based on 11 years worth of “intrigues”, I’m not terribly good with crushes. It isn’t that I don’t have them, it’s more that I don’t have that genetic female predisposition to keep the information to myself for prolonged periods of time.

In high school, I was an accomplished flirt who secretly enjoyed seeing the faux-machismo of teenaged boys disappear when you put them on the spot or made them feel uncomfortable. I was never the sweet, innocent, easily offended type. I learned to counter sexual harassment with equally overt sexual harassment, as if to say, “See how you like it”. *laughs* As both they and I became more experienced in the ways of the world, I learned to combine my tendency to flirt with witty banter. Somewhere along the way, witty banter gave way to a remarkable capacity to be very straightforward, in a way that prospective partners either find genuinely appealing or quite off-putting. I have to confess, it amuses me a little when I leave someone a little speechless or make them turn various shades of red. I’m the most harmless person out there, truly. It shocks me that people don’t always see me in that way.

However, the point is, I’m terrible at crushes because I’m too damned straightforward to be charming. This is why men don’t woo me, don’t show up at my door with flowers, don’t move heaven and earth to get my attention. I don’t play the game properly. After feeling confused about whether or not my crush might like me, or if not, why not; after suffering through a few weeks or months of mixed signals and flirtation may mean something, but may not, I just come out and ask. Sometimes, it’s a calculated decision, in the form of a heart-to-heart conversation. Other times, it’s a drunk text that says, effectively, “Hey, you idiot…have you not noticed I like you, and why aren’t you doing anything about that?”

I would love to be a more subtle, charming person. I would love to be that person who engages people with a mixture of inaccessibility and little coy looks here and there. I would love to be the girl who waits three years for her crush to notice her, and have the world’s greatest love story ensue. I sometimes think that men would take me far more seriously if I behaved with the demure subtlety women are supposed to possess in these matters. But I am impatient, and I don’t really hide emotions well. I don’t see the point in playing games, and life is too short not to tell people how you feel about them…especially if the way you feel is that someone else is an awesome person. At the very worst, you’ve made the day of someone who isn’t interested in you by expressing your admiration, and you can get over it over a cosmo and some reality TV. At the very best, you’ve saved you and another person years of waiting for one another to make a move, express a feeling, or wonder “What if?” in a more out-loud fashion.

If there’s one positive thing to be said about me, it’s that people always know where they stand with me, and if they don’t, all they need to do is ask. It’s surprising to me how many people are reticent to ask about things they spend time wondering about. If I really want to know, I lose sleep trying to keep it inside. *laughs*

I think I rather gave up on crushes when I was a teenager, and saw how they never got me anything except a lot of emotional angst. I think, the first time someone I liked asked someone else out instead of me, and I cried over it, only to have the guy later tell me, “I had no idea you were interested, and it seemed like she was.”, that crushes seemed like a cute, romanticised, idealistic idea, but weren’t going to get you anywhere with the object of your affection.

I have intrigues and infatuations, and most of them are short-lived. They hang around long enough for me to write a poem, to learn the hard way that someone wasn’t who I’d imagined them to be, and my idealistic heart is devastated for a week or two, until the next intrigue or infatuation comes along. If it’s been a few months or a few years, and I still have feelings for someone, I likely will have brought it up. Sometimes it’s in the form of asking “Why haven’t you ever been interested in me?”. Sometimes it’s “I know you’re in a relationship, and nothing can happen between us, but I’m sure it’s obvious I like you”. Other times, it’s “Why don’t you pay attention to me? Everyone pays attention to me.” More than one of my long-term relationships has started with this sort of straightforward, brutal honesty.

I’d love to be the person who has crushes, who has people who secretly have crushes on her. Alas, I am too direct not to let my crushes know and remove the mystery, and too intuitive not to know when someone in my life is attracted to me or has feelings for me.

When girls—and women—write to me for advice on their crushes, my advice is always this: life is short, and a broken heart doesn’t stick around forever, but the chance you didn’t take will haunt you for a lifetime. Express how you feel, in a way that feels comfortable to you. Both men and women are equally flattered by attention and admiration, so why keep it a closely guarded secret? There’s a certain romantic allure to the the crush that took years to get off the ground and eventually ended up in a wedding, but in real life, it doesn’t usually work out that way. People don’t stay unattached forever. Many times, your crush ends up with someone else not because he never noticed you, but because he never noticed you noticing him. Not everyone is particularly intuitive or emotionally observant.

If your crush is someone who is simply unattainable for one reason or another, take it for what it’s worth. It’s possible to be intrigued by people you don’t even know, as well as by people with whom you can never possibly share a romantic connection. But, if that person inspires you in some way, use it to be inspired. Whether it leads to that added little boost that comes from harmless flirting around the water cooler, a crazy night that wasn’t supposed to happen but leaves you singing annoyingly happy songs for days, or an actual date that makes you feel 15 again, crushes have potential. And if they don’t, because someone is unavailable or disinterested or the stars just don’t align, they can still brighten up the routine, the mundane, and make you feel a little more alive and engaged in the world.

Don’t be afraid to express your admiration, even via harmless flirtation. Being inspired and being admired make everyone feel just a little better, as long as you’re not the creepy stalker type. You have to know when you’re pushing too hard, when you’re no longer amusing, but a little weird. Don’t be that person.

I had someone tonight tell me that one of the things they really like about me is my brutal honesty. I observed that, running a social group–and having a lot of hobbies, interests, friends, and a personal life aside—I met an awful lot of people each year, and it was impossible for me to remember each person’s name. I half-jokingly pointed out that because I was never going to be genuine friends with 98% of the people I met each year, I don’t learn anyone’s name until I’ve seen them around three times and have reason to believe they’re likely to be a part of my world. Of course, this “brutal honesty” was interpreted in the most humourous way possible, with people poking fun at my lack of social delicacy, but it’s true. Someone I used to know used to say he only had so many spaces in his “friend book”, and from time to time, was not accepting applications.

It made me genuinely wish to be friends, however, with the person who remarked upon liking my brutal honesty. That is the kind of person with whom I inevitably interact with very well. And, ideally, it is how all my “secret crushes” work.(although, to clarify, the individual straightforward enough to comment upon my straightforwardness is not a crush, nor does that person have a crush on me. I realise that could have been read in a confusing manner.) I don’t always seek out new intrigues or have room for a fascination with another person in my life, because I may already feel my life is either rather content and busy as it is, or because it’s already way too complicated. When I *am* intrigued by someone, I don’t really want to wait three years to find out they were equally intrigued. I like flirting and romance and coy little games, but I guess I just like straightforward communication better…even about situations that are less than straightforward, or one dimensional.

It isn’t that hard to say, “I kind of really think you’re an awesome person”. In fact, more people should say that sort of thing to one another, whether it’s accompanied by a secret crush or physical attraction or complex friendship, or it’s someone you’ve literally just met and find cool.

That’s always my advice, for what it’s worth…but I’d love one day for one of my readers to write me back with advice on how to have a crush/intrigue/infatuation I keep to myself for all eternity. There’s something about that ideal that appeals to my incurably old-fashioned, romantic side. Sadly, too little of me is as old-fashioned or demure as I’d like to be. :P

Back when I was a healthier person, I’d routinely take off to visit friends and family that are scattered along the East Coast. It helps that my friends and family tend to be in cities that you drive through to get to other cities, giving birth to the idea of what I call the “Alayna National Tour”. I couldn’t go to visit family in Philly without stopping to see a friend in D.C., another in NYC, or meet another for dinner during a layover in Richmond. I never thought this was anything special: I genuinely love the people in my life, and if someone is important to me, I will make time to see them. My year of illness has gotten in the way of this, something that’s made me very sad, but my recent travels have proven to me that I may not have the stamina I did before I got sick…but I can handle more than I think I can. I definitely plan to have the energy to get myself to NYC and Philly by the end of the year.

When I decided to visit my friend in the Durham area, and then two others in Charlotte, I really didn’t think anything unusual of it. I visit people because I like them, and because I like spending time with them in a world other than the one I inhabit each day. However, a chief concern of mine (and if you’ve followed this blog for any length of time, you’ve heard why) is that visiting my friend in Durham would result in chaos that might end our friendship permanently. However, we’d managed to create that scenario numerous times over the distance since he came to visit me in Atlanta, so I thought it might be the best thing to either work out our issues or realise exactly why we could not be friends—an odd concept for me, as I’ve never been able to not be friends with someone I genuinely liked, save for very complicated situations that were simply never going to change.

There was, in fact, a moment that followed a very nice evening of bonding and spending time together where it became pretty obvious that either we were going to talk through things in an open and honest way, or end our acquaintance with him leaving me sitting in a bar in North Carolina. (No, my friend is not that big of a jerk; I am. I am the one who told him to simply leave me there because I deserved better treatment. He simply considered taking me up on it.)

This friend has told me he dislikes being a character in my blog—admittedly, not the first time someone’s told me that. When someone tells me that, the chief reason is because the person is either afraid they’ll be obviously identified by the rest of the world and judged unfairly, or because the person is an introverted soul who doesn’t wish to be put on display. My friend is an extremely private person, and I am someone who has lived my life on the internet for 12 years, and sees this blog a little like my own reality TV show. So, when he told me it made him uncomfortable to see personal aspects of our friendship made public, I promised I’d skip the whole “who, what, where, when” saga of us managing to work through some of our issues and build a better friendship. Or an actual friendship. Or something. *laughs* Instead, I’ll post this rather nice series of thoughts on friendship that I recorded in my personal journal while at a cafe in Charlotte.

“Some people come into your life because they remind you of who you are; who you really, truly are, beyond the layers of artifice, social propriety, expectations, and carefully constructed walls and defense mechanisms designed to protect at the expense of real connection. They are the rare, unusual people with whom you can laugh, cry, yell, discuss all manner of thoughts and feelings, be as silly as possible or as intense as possible, and feel you’re not only accepted, but that you should like yourself as much as those individuals do. They are the people who make you feel as if being yourself is simple and easy, and being vulnerable and unpretentious isn’t frightening, but the most natural thing in the world.

Others come into your life to remind you of who you have yet to become, because even though they are wise enough to see you clearly, recognise your flaws, and even identify your capability for being a tremendous pain in the ass and making life harder than it needs to be, they also care for you. As a result, they somehow see you as something better than you truly are, as something better than you see yourself.

If you’re fortunate, every so often—not frequently, but in a time period measured in years in between such people appearing in your life— you’ll meet someone who is all of these things, and discover a connection that isn’t quite ordinary. These are the people who affect you on some deeper level, teach you a little more about yourself, and make you a slightly better person for being a part of your life. These are the people who can affect you in a very emotional way, not on account of being mean, difficult, horrible people, but because you understand it is right to trust them enough to let them.

For some time, I’ve suspected this friend might be one of those people in my life, an oddly intuitive and inexplicable reaction to have upon meeting someone you’ve known of and about for a long time, yet don’t know at all. I’ve been consistently saddened by our inability to bridge certain points of conflict, while having the ability to connect in a fairly unique and special way. It has seemed that it would be a great loss to walk away from knowing a person I immediately, intuitively, and inexplicably gathered might be important in my life, on account of common phrases like “too different” and “complicated”. The odd thing is, once you look past those differences and points of conflict, and accept that someone being able to affect you on some level isn’t cause to run and hide and employ all sorts of anti-vulnerability shields, you often discover that opposites are simply mirrored reflections, the same picture expressed in a contrary direction.

I am so glad this friend and I made the decision to put aside issues of mutual distrust and communication complicated by a lack of willingness to be open and invest in knowing another person, while asking that person to give that level of trust and faith and understanding. I’m glad we seem to have chosen the option of recognising our friendship is one for which it is worth learning to understand and appreciate our differences—a choice which, strangely, unearthed more similarities and understanding than natural and unavoidable reasons for conflict. Sometimes, once you understand someone a little better and are willing to invest a little trust (the hardest thing for many of us out there in the world), you see that not that much compromise is really necessary to end up on the same page, or even face in the same direction.

You can’t demand what you’re not willing to give, and spend months wondering why the result isn’t positive. Trust and faith are things I don’t have to offer in abundance, and I have always been the sort to hesitate to offer them, even to those I consider a important part of my life. I have a way about me that I’ve perfected over the years, one that allows me to appear extremely open and accessible, to engage in abundant communication rather than real, meaningful connection, all while keeping any sense of real vulnerability hidden. This isn’t something that has ever worked in this particular friendship, because I would always feel as if I were uncomfortably transparent, as if this friend had a gift of getting to the core of who I happen to be. Meanwhile, I always seemed to be able to look through this person in the same way, never being able to take things at face value because of a weird sense that I was looking at one picture that was truly another.

Some friendships just don’t have room for games and walls and unwillingness to trust. Getting to know this relatively new person in my life has made me see more clearly that trying to build any sense of emotional intimacy while still maintaining impenetrable protective walls is not only not possible, but almost toxic and destructive. It isn’t real, and it’s often manipulative. It’s anything but accepting, because you’re too focused on protecting yourself adequately to truly see another person clearly. The attempt ends up hurting everyone involved. Some people—even those that haven’t been in your life long enough yet to become essential and permanent pieces of it—deserve far more, even if you don’t quite understand why. When you find one of those rare people, you kind of just have to make space in your life, which means taking down a few walls. In the end, it is usually worth it, and often even more so than you anticipated.”

During the rather unpleasant argument that preceded the “Either we have to be real and honest and trust each other, or just not try at all.” conversation, my friend asked me why I would visit him and what I expected from doing so. I thought I knew the answer, and that it was simple: “I visit people because I like them”. I didn’t really see it in terms of as big of a deal as he was making it out to be, because for me, it wasn’t. It touched me that he saw that as something beautiful about me. Now that I’ve had some time to look back on that, I realise that on a deeper level, I understood there was a more important decision to be made in my knowing this person: either we were going to take a chance and develop a real friendship, or agree not to be part of the other person’s life. Some people simply make terrible casual acquaintances, and connect in a way where that doesn’t work as easily as it should. Others can only have a conflict-free friendship if there’s very straightforward communication and honest expression of thoughts and feelings. I think both are applicable here.

I think I can safely say it worked out for the best, and I’m glad we chose to make the more difficult choice, and decide that our weird, confusing, complicated acquaintance was worth turning into a friendship of some substance…or at least getting it on that particular track. I actually believe it is one we will both value for some time to come. However, you may not hear about it, as I will henceforth avoid making this particular friend a recurring character in my blog. Fortunately, that may be a sign of a distinct lack of conflict and drama both of us will appreciate.

I have no doubt that I’ll find my drama elsewhere…which will be illustrated tomorrow by my piece on my relationship with annoying corporate entities. *laughs*

That sounds like a band name, or a really violent Meetup event, but it is neither.

Yesterday was not really a good day. In fact, it was such an upsetting day that I don’t even really want to write about it. However, since that’s how I best process and make sense of life, I will.

Yesterday, I had a fight with a friend of mine. Or, more accurately, I had a fight with someone with whom I’ve been attempting to become friends (based on some comments made during said fight, I’m not sure if he considers us friends or not.)

This is not the first time we’ve had this fight, as it’s happened at least twice before. It had, however, been a month or so since the last time this fight occurred, so I rather thought we’d successfully worked through the issue. Other than this particular issue, we don’t seem to have any problems communicating, getting along, or building a friendship, which makes it even more frustrating.

The fight is about communication: specifically, how I spend far too much of my life engaging in it and he is less inclined to it than most people, both out of time constraints and temperament. I am really like a teenager with communication, constantly texting people and checking my FB and going through withdrawals if I am in a technology-free zone. (This, I’ve discussed in a previous post.) He is not; he is comfortable not communicating with people for fairly extended periods of time. Although I attempt not to judge, I think perhaps both of our views on communication are slightly unhealthy and make other people in our lives (not just each other) a bit frustrated.

Yet, yesterday’s fight almost ended with us walking away from a friendship that appears to be of some importance to both of us.

The odd thing is, I am aware that this person in my life actually *likes* me, as a friend and as a person. He’s had many complimentary things to say to me, appreciates my snarky,witty, occasionally self-deprecating sense of humour, and has been willing to engage in the exchange of long telephone conversations and Facebook e-mails full of what he terms “emotional intimacy” and what I call “bonding”. He’s told me he enjoys talking to me more than he enjoys talking to many people in the world. He’s mentioned he thinks I have a wonderful spirit, and am an intelligent, attractive, insightful, funny person. Whenever we spend time talking, we laugh a lot, and very easily. We also talk about more serious things, topics I wouldn’t necessarily open up about to someone I barely know.

Yet, as he reminded me yesterday, we barely know one another. He feels I am forcing a friendship to happen through demanding communication, and is angered by an approach he feels is aggressive. On the other hand, I had a hurt and confused look on my face that said “I thought we *were* friends”.

The fight ended with him basically wanting to walk away from our friendship entirely and say “This isn’t working”, and to be honest, I considered it. However, that isn’t my way, and I don’t think it ever will be. Almost all my close friends in life are people with whom I’ve gone through a period of struggle, contention, personal growth, confused feelings, miscommunication, or just arguing about something at some point in time. Yet, most of these friends have been in my life for a long time, and have proven to me how much they care. When times were bad, not one of them abandoned me. It means a lot, those type of friendships, which I treasure greatly. Because I don’t trust people easily, I don’t often invest the time and energy and feeling needed to form those “real” friendships. I think what happened is that I very quickly sensed that this friend of mine could be one of those rare people in my life…eventually. I also thought, based on his reactions to me, that it was a mutual instinct at work. I assumed that he was investing time and energy in me because we could develop a “real” friendship, something not so easy to come by in this day and age.

So, you can imagine how hurt I felt listening to this person basically point out that we’re not really that close and in friendships, as in relationships, you have to pay attention to when someone is “just not that into you”. However, the most hurtful part of the whole exchange was him telling me he doesn’t feel comfortable having me in his home when I am in his part of town in a few weeks, because he doesn’t have that level of trust in me, and sees all the ways in which allowing me into his personal space might go wrong.

It is not that I don’t get why a relatively new friend wouldn’t offer to host me when I was in town. In fact, when I informed this friend I would be in his part of town in June, I didn’t request to stay with him. When we met one another because he was in Atlanta a few months ago, he didn’t ask to stay at my place, and I didn’t offer. Why? Because we didn’t know one another, despite years of the occasional text and e-mail and connection via a mutual friend. I also know this person is someone who values his personal space, and honestly, I tend to get annoyed with sharing the same space with others for too long. I’m an extrovert who needs decompression time, so no matter how much I like someone, not having my own space can become tiring for me. So, I made my own arrangements and didn’t even think to ask about crashing with my friend.

Yet, he is the one who offered…over a month ago, when he knew me less well than he does today, and had less reason to have any level of faith and trust in me. So, when I decided to extend my stay by an extra two days in order to accommodate some extra plans, I asked if I could sleep on his floor for two nights..a short enough imposition to not really be an imposition. He of course said yes, and reminded that he offered to host me some time ago, and I declined.

I am not hurt by the fact that someone feels they don’t know me well enough or like me well enough to have me stay at their home. I am hurt by the fact that someone would offer, and then say, “I no longer feel comfortable having you in my space.” That’s personal. That’s a slap in the face to someone whose greatest crime is trying too hard to be another person’s friend. It’s extraordinarily personal when someone who has always claimed to be fond of you and said numerous positive things about your character and your friendship no longer has the same level of trust and esteem because you had a fight. It hurts that when someone knew you less well, they had more trust and positive feelings towards you.

Ironically, before he offered to host me when I was in town, we had the same exact fight. And just a few days ago, when we spoke on the phone, he thanked me for being patient with his lack of communication and not pushing the issue when he was really busy with other stuff. I pointed out the reason it was easy for me to do that is because we seemed to have reached a compromise; he reminded me that I wasn’t unimportant by saying hi now and then, and I didn’t require constant communication in order to build a friendship. I thought, as with most things, we’d found a point of compromise that made both of us react positively to our friendship.

It utterly shocks me that me sending texts—and after two or three days of no reply, becoming concerned that I’d offended him during out last conversation—should provoke such a dramatic reaction as “I no longer feel comfortable with you in my personal space, and am not so sure we should be friends”. After speaking with him, I do understand why my text habits seems aggressive and make others feel pushed or bullied, something I’ve never considered before. Yet, I don’t feel as if I deserve the lack of trust or faith or friendship or esteem or whatever that came out of this disagreement. If the worst thing you can say about someone is “I know this girl that I consider funny, intelligent, attractive, charming, and enjoy talking to, but she tries way too hard to be my friend”, I’d like to think that’s not really all that bad. If I were, in fact, the obsessive, psycho-stalker type, I’d understand the concern…but the fact is that I don’t pick up the phone and call this guy constantly so he’ll talk to me. In fact, the only time I’ve *ever* invaded his personal space by calling was when we were in the middle of arguing via text, and since I think text is much of the problem in this situation, I’d prefer not to have arguments escalate via text. It’s too easy for people to be impersonal, to say things they don’t really mean. Other than that, we speak on the phone when he has the time to call and talk to me. I send the occasional card or book via the mail…something I do with most of my close, long-distance friends. I share stuff on FB just to share and don’t expect a response.

The irony is that neither my friend nor myself are the type to have much interest in small talk and banal conversation. While the phone calls we share are often rather personal and require a level of openness to “emotional intimacy”, they leave us both feeling positive about one another and our friendship. We say a lot of positive and supportive things to one another during those chats. If we’re *not* yet friends, it’s a pretty good approximation. Yet, the texts that are the source of argument and cause these destructive fights are typically the most banal things in the world, stuff I’d feel comfortable sending to someone I met yesterday. We have had real, extensive chats via text that are of some significance..but generally what I send out is “Hey, hope you’re having a good day” or “YAY! 1st place at trivia”. The only point is me reaching out to keep this friend, who does not live near me, included in my life, helping to create some semblance of friendship and connectedness. Yet, I don’t even know why I would…neither of us is the type of person to be interested in the day-to-day small things that comprise life, except as experiences to be enjoyed while they’re happening. I think we both prefer to talk about more substantial things–and that’s the part I could see someone feeling tired and emotionally drained by—so it’s an irony that we fight over the appropriateness and timing of trading small talk via text. People do it to stay connected..but in this instance, do either of us really care? I personally appreciate a text saying “I’m off doing this interesting thing but cared enough to connect” far more than I do saying “Hi” to everyone I like every day. Maybe my friend feels the exact same way

I think the difference is that I don’t think of text or IM or whatever 140 character communication tool one uses as a way of invading anyone’s personal space. While I would not call someone anytime, anywhere, to share something irrelevant—because I’d consider that a little inconsiderate and rude—I kind of see text as a medium of “that’s what it’s for”. I text people often because I can’t talk to them every day. Sometimes, I can’t even talk every week. But it’s my way of keeping people involved in my life and bridging the distance. Yet, I *do* get upset when someone does not do that in return. Part of it is that I simply don’t like to be ignored, but another part of it is that I don’t want to feel I’m the only one who wants to keep others involved in my life. I do want to feel I’m just as important to others as they are to me, and it doesn’t occur to me that everyone doesn’t walk around attached to their phone at all times, and isn’t constantly texting and FB-ing everyone they know. (Many of my friends do.) The funny part is that most texts I share with people are relatively emotionally insignificant and impersonal. It’s an example of being “connectedly disconnected”. I don’t know if I actually feel closer to people by trading “Hey, how are you?” messages everyday, because there’s no real bonding involved. It’s just this social convention that seems like the right way to reach out to people. Yet, it lacks any of the “bonding” that’s made possible by chatting with friends on the FB messenger every day, talking on the phone, or sending an e-mail (which so few people do these days.) So, the odd thing is, I’m constantly reaching out to people in attempts to feel connected, through a medium that doesn’t really provide a sense of connection. And, those who know that are irritated by this tendency, as well as my tendency to demand that these attempts to connect without really connecting are returned.

Maybe there’s a bigger issue here than just my relationship with this particular friend, but my relationship with the instant gratification, impersonal medium of text and IM. I had to give up IM when I realised I was spending far too much time chatting with people but not really connecting, multitasking, and trading pleasantries. I didn’t think I could function without IM. But I ditched my AIM, ICQ, MSN, Yahoo!, and every other messenger I had installed long before IM fell out of vogue. And, surprisingly, I felt happier, and my friendships with others became more substantial. I wonder if I–like much of the world—have fallen victim to the same trap with texting.

Text actually upsets me. Because I know it takes 3 seconds to send one, if I don’t get a response, what occurs to me is usually “Is this person mad at me, and why?”, or simply, “Why don’t you like me enough to reach out by returning my text?” Yet, I would not react that way if someone was too busy to call when they said they were going to or took days to return an e-mail.

I’ve had to make peace with this communication issue with others in the past, and it typically resolves itself. In fact, it’s a dispute I’ve experienced with some of the closest people in my life. For instance, The Guy I Am Currently Dating does not text, and most of the time, if I call instead, he’s unavailable because he didn’t have his phone with him. At the beginning of our relationship, when there was less trust and understanding, this was a huge issue for me. Strangely, it just isn’t anymore. We found a solution that works for us.

I’ve also had this issue in platonic friendships, where communication—when, how, how often, what’s an invasion of personal space and what’s merely annoying as opposed to thoughtful— had to be resolved. Somehow, these issues disappear as I grow to trust someone. Yet, I’ve never had anyone willing to walk away from a potentially meaningful friendship with me over the communication issue, or lose a sense of trust or level of comfort in me because of it. It may be that the previously mentioned friend simply thinks it’s more trouble than it’s worth, considering he doesn’t think we’re that close, or it could be that, speaking on a friendship-oriented level, “He’s just not that into me”. The result is that I am perhaps dispensable.

But intuitively, I don’t think that’s it…and it’s so rarely wrong about these things, or I’d just agree to give up and walk away. I feel like there’s something under the surface of this situation that I can’t see or put my finger on, but it’s there. I feel like there are things about my friend that I don’t understand because I don’t yet know him well enough, and there are certain things that touch a nerve and evoke an emotional reaction from someone who is usually very calm and laid-back about all things of a personal or emotional nature. The frustrating thing about intuition is that you can sense that things aren’t quite just what you see on the surface…but you can’t see the why. If someone is especially guarded, you can’t even always see beyond the surface level—although I often can, and do. But not always.

And it doesn’t matter…why someone is who they are, or why they respond as they do, is none of my business. But when someone revokes their level of trust and comfort with me…that’s personal, and it hurts immensely. I’m not sure why I care as much as I do, but I do, and that tells me something. It tells me that not only am I an emotional person, I still believe this friend/acquaintance/whatever is someone worth not giving up on. It’s hard to believe that after someone has hurt you or made you feel less special than you like to consider yourself, but deep down, I still do…and that inner voice is always significant to me.

Likewise, I know that I am important to someone—whether that person likes me enough to consider me a friend or simply considers me someone he barely knows—when he walks away from what he’s doing in order to answer a phone call and “work things out”, something that could easily be avoided by not picking up the phone.

I’m not inexperienced when it comes to people; I’ve met a lot of them—admittedly, though, never one quite like this friend. I know when someone cares. And even though I push too hard sometimes by insisting on reminders of that via rather pointless text messages, I actually do know, regardless of someone’s communication tendencies.

It’s just nice to be reminded that those you care about think you’re an awesome person—and both hurtful and humbling when you realise that maybe someone doesn’t think you’re quite that awesome anymore. (especially when they indicate they used to like and trust and feel comfortable with you, and suddenly, no longer have those warm and fuzzy happy feelings about your friendship.) Trust and loyalty are so,so,so important to me in my life, and it’s the reason why I have many acquaintances, yet choose my “real” friends very carefully. To have someone I care about no longer feel able to attribute those qualities to me, someone I might have grown to consider a true friend….it breaks my heart a little.

Regardless of whether or not this person in my life still feels any semblance of positive emotion towards me, or any connection that was there has somehow been undone, I know that in certain ways, I’ve still been a great friend to him—even if I was one that was unwanted, or didn’t know how to express that properly. Although I am cynical, the ability for me to reach out and put myself out there for someone I barely know, based on little more than intuition and connection, is still there. Not everyone has that, and I’m really glad I do. I haven’t let being hurt by life and people take that from me, and while it may not be wise, it is me, and I think it’s good. :)

I am lucky, because I do have people in my life who I know genuinely find me to be an awesome person, for one reason or another, and others with whom I don’t always see eye to eye, but I know they’re still always there for me, because there is something important about our friendship. The Guy I Am Currently Dating is the kind of guy who will let me cry and offer support when someone else I care about hurts my feelings, and not everyone out there would do that—much less for little old me.

I’m not perfect, but I obviously can’t be doing *everything* wrong. I think I have the occasional redeeming quality. My texting and communication habits, admittedly, are not one of them. *smiles*

“I often think about
Where I went wrong;
The more I do,
The less I know.
But I know I have a fickle heart,
And a bitterness,
And a wandering eye,
And a heaviness in my head.”

—Adele, “Don’t You Remember?”

Today was yet another extraordinarily stressful day, waiting to see what’s going to happen to me with my apartment/living situation. I was initially quite encouraged, as the lady in the rental office made it seem as if it were a done deal….there just remained the technicality of getting my roommate and The Guy I Am Currently Dating to the leasing office at the same time to sign the paperwork.

The problems started when my roommate, who initially said he’d move out in 2 weeks, decided he wanted to leave in two DAYS. At first, he mentioned the possibility of driving all the way to Jacksonville, and then driving back to take care of the lease and pay me the almost $400 in back rent he owes me. I instinctively know this will not happen; if he leaves without taking care of things, he never will.

Now, of course, I’m terrified that’s precisely what’s going to happen…even though The Guy I Am Currently Dating is willing to put his name on the apartment for me, he can’t do so without my roommate being present to transfer things. They’ve set up an appointment with the lady in the leasing office to do this at 7 PM tomorrow night, but my roommate left nearly 12 hours ago and said “I know you’re stressed, but you need to have faith that I’m not going to leave without this being taken care of.” Of course I don’t, and it isn’t helping that he sent me a text saying he would be home late since he was “going to spend the night with a hottie”. In the many years we’ve lived together, he’s never done that, and either it’s the oddest timing ever…or my intuition is right to be distrustful. I just want this all taken care of so that I can cease feeling anxious about the future each and every day. :(

Yesterday, I mentioned I’d tell you the story of how I met a friend for the first time this past weekend; in fact, a friend who was really a stranger who turned out to be a friend. I’d know of this person and heard many stories about him over the years, as he was the roommate of one of my best friends while they were both at Berkeley. However, this guy and I were never friends; in fact, he advised my friend to kind of move past dealing with me and get over me when we had long periods of time that were filled with a lot of drama and emotion. In turn, I dismissed this guy as exceedingly judgmental, and formed a pretty solid idea, based on our contrasting characters, that we’d never get along. We were all in our early 20′s at this time (though me a bit later than the two of them. *laughs*), and as intelligent people in our early 20′s, thought we knew everything about everything. :P

Of course, when I went through some negative things in my life, my friend went to his roommate to share/vent about things I’d done, things that had happened to me, and his generally troubled emotional state. When this old friend and I would spend time together, and things wouldn’t go as well as planned, it was his roommate who would inevitably be around to listen to the drama. So, it wasn’t unreasonable to expect that said roommate had a certain picture of me that wasn’t altogether flattering, yet was aware that I had some charming and quirky attributes that made me an interesting person to get to know regardless.

On my end, I’d heard (and seen) that the roommate was the kind of person who was not only introverted and academic, but liked a certain amount of solitude, and disliked clingy or emotionally needy people. Meanwhile, I am the sort of person who can’t be alone for too long, but needs a certain amount of personal space, and also to be reminded that I am liked and admired on a regular basis. Logically, there was never any reason to assume we’d have cause to be friends.

Yet, somehow, we started talking, via Facebook and text, in a way that was very infrequent and somewhat impersonal. However, it seemed the more we started to talk to one another, the more I noticed similarities within the differences. 8 years after we’d first been made aware of the other person’s existence, I found out he was planning a tour to some of the Southeastern cities (he attends school in another Southern city, about 7 hours from here, so while it seems on the map we might be close, we’re really not…unless you’re on an airplane.) , and wanted to visit Atlanta.

The visit was interesting, as he changed his plans and abandoned a stay in Macon to meet up with me and some other people at a burlesque show. It was a good time, and he seemed interested in getting to know different people, but I didn’t feel we particularly clicked in any extraordinary way. It was more of the sort of thing that came off as, “You’re interesting enough, but there are people I might have more fascinating conversation with”. It also didn’t hurt that one of the members of the party was an extremely attractive young burlesque dancer; as I told a friend of mine, “Who am I to think most people I’d know would choose to talk to me over taking the opportunity to get to know a highly attractive burlesque dancer?” Yet, I am me, so I do of course think that…and was rather put off by that whole situation. When he left the festivities fairly early, I wasn’t even certain if we’d meet up the next day.

However, we did, and it appeared to be the case that we communicated much better and found one another more entertaining company in a one-on-one scenario. That’s not typically the case for me; I tend to feel less at ease around new people one-on-one, rather than in a group, unless I somehow feel a connection with them in some way. It’s the primary reason I have a horrible history of turning friends into lovers and vice versa; I just really need to feel drawn toward a person to spend any length of one-on-one time with them.

I certainly didn’t expect to feel that bond with my friend after the burlesque show outing, but was pleasantly surprised to find how easy it was to talk and laugh with him for hours. In fact, I believe I talked and laughed so much that I delayed his leaving town by several hours; long enough that he had time to meet The Guy I Am Currently Dating, and as expected, the two of them seemed to get on very well almost immediately.

Somewhere, between the hours of talking about everything and laughing at nothing, I realised this person with whom I felt I’d nothing in common and whom I sensed disinterest from upon our initial meeting was actually neither my polar opposite, nor indifferent to my friendship. One of the observations we made was that although we seem to take completely opposite routes to get a certain place, we seem to end up at the same destination. Although the way we live our lives in completely opposite ways and by almost opposing philosophies, much of who we are is fundamentally in sync. It’s a weird sort of synchronicity, that someone who not only doesn’t look at life through the same sort of world view and has opposing personality characteristics and ambitions, and is in fact someone who challenges you in some ways, can also be someone with whom you feel a connection.

Sometimes, I have a sense about people. I know a lot of people, but genuinely trust and connect with a select few, and it’s a largely intuitive process. Sadly, it’s why I don’t always spend as much time calling people up and asking them to dinner or if they want to see a concert or do whatever, and some people mistake me for unapproachable..or as an old friend of mine would term it, “aloof”. I am easy to get to know, but difficult to befriend. Yet, I often have an unmistakable sense when someone is the right kind of friend for me, and is put in my life’s journey for a specific reason.

I do not know the reason, of course, but I am glad for the odd way that life works out sometimes, by putting people in your path you never really saw being there. I have a strong intuitive sense that there will be another 8 years of either connecting, or mis-connecting, or both, in the future. And it makes me happy to have unexpectedly stumbled upon a person with whom I see a genuine friendship developing, either despite, or because of, the fact we continue to live a safe distance apart from one another. *laughs*

I will say, overall, I’ve had some of the most memorable experiences possible with meeting strangers, whether through friends or via the internet or whatnot. They aren’t ever people from across town, they aren’t ever people with whom I’d cross paths if not for synchronicity…and they have all either impacted my life a tremendous amount, are still an important part of my life, or both.

There’s something to be said for taking a risk or two, after all…*laughs*

On a final note, Gotye and Kimbra’s “Somebody I Used To Know” was briefly dislodged from my head for nearly 24 hours by a listen to Adele’s “21″. Today, it was put back, by friends pointing out that I’d gotten it stuck in their heads. :P It was solidified by a friend sharing this uber-funny video, which is a parody of a cover of the song. Even if you’d never seen the cover (I hadn’t, but watched it before the parody.), it’s great and worth a watch.

Parody On “Somebody That I Used To Know”