Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Spilt Milk. May Spoil.

In elementary school, they laughed at me.

In high school, they wanted to be friends.

In university, they tried to get me into bed.

And now, boys just want to keep me there.

The gods are officially laughing at my expense.

Whereas some of my girlfriends are hopelessly longing for Prince Charming, I (of the "Don't Give a Shit" camp) am being inundated by men convinced they are mine.

One called me "effervescent," another tricked me to go on a date with him ("Did I say, 'film crew?' I meant, just me. By the way, I don't have a ride home. *wink, wink*"). Tonight, I decided I had to end my booty call arrangement (after fucking him in his car at 2 a.m.) because he just wasn't getting any better at, what Alex from A Clockwork Orange would call, the "old in-out." Foreplay consisted of bad puns and forcing it in. He also took direction poorly. Goddamn finance pricks.

Afterward, as I was getting dressed, I said half-jokingly, "Tell me something about economic policy."

He said people who talk about that stuff outside school are insecure. I told him I was a journalist and we like to have a shallow understanding of everything. He said I could just continue calling him, "daddy." (Altogether now: Eww.)

I knew then and there, it was sayonara forever. The only thing we have in common is our drive. Other than that, I just find him so utterly vapid. (Not to mention his constant need to be reassured that I'm not fucking other people. Which I'm not. But what's it to him? Likewise, it's not endearing to call my other suitors "losers." Buddy, they're not losers because they have a liberal arts degree; they're losers despite it.) Correction: I guess he's the best kind of fuck buddy since I can't imagine being with him longer than an hour at a time.

Casual sex has lost its novel edge. I take back that part, too.

At this point, the only thing that truly gets me off is being a television producer. It's not that I'm a workoholic. It's that I haven't found anyone I've been distinctly in awe of. The things that impress me most tend to vary from common household skills to obtuse esoteric knowledge. My girlfriends have accused me of being too picky in the same breath as being too easy.

The barista from the last post invited me to a small get-together last week. He and his friends were in their mid-twenties. Older, yes, but still young enough to giggle in a corner and, seeing that I was stoned and assuming I couldn't hear, went about making lewd comments about my figure and what they'd like to do to it. (Not to mention the exaggerated reaction I received after licking Cheeto dust from my fingers.)

It's not like I do anything in particular to attract attention. I'm just my normal, weirdo, self. The disconnect between my personality and sartorial selections regularly lands me in situations like the one last week, where I, donning a '50s sundress and plastic pearls, purchased some rolling papers and the customer behind me snickered, "What is a girl like you want with Zig Zags? You look so proper!" To which I grinned and said, "Trust me, I ain't so proper." Although, to be fair, there is a market for Chinese girls with blow-job lips. Hmm, am I in the wrong line of business?)

Maybe this glut of attention has to do with the recession producing a glut of depressed, lonely men. I told one guy to hurry up and get to the point after he called me under the pretense of a field assignment: "I don't like to use the phone for talky talk. What's the plan already?"

He later confessed that I made him nervous.

"Why?" I inquired, amused. "Don't take me so seriously."

He paused. "I take girls very seriously."

Cut to him trying to hold my hand a day later, me waving him away and ordering him to stay on his side of the sidewalk. What part of, "I don't want to be in a relationship," don't they understand?

It doesn't mean, "Try harder." Nor does it mean, "Convince me otherwise."

It means exactly what I say it does: I'm too satisfied to mess with a good thing and I'm too selfish to share it with someone else.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Modern Romance 2.5

I bumped into a former flame a few hours ago. He came into the coffee shop to inquire about a bicycle pump. I was there to meet a girlfriend for a drive-in movie.

I called his name after catching sight of him approaching the barista (with whom I've been carrying on a mild flirtation). He was still as adorable as I remembered him: all mussed up hair and perfect cheekbones. He asked me about my new job; I asked him about school.

I offered him a ride home. He was, after all, stranded.

"It's alright," came the unconvincing reply, "I can just take the bus."

"Listen to you, talking like Oliver Twist or something. Let me drive you," I insisted.

So he took me up on it. We walked side-by-side, like innocent teenagers; the distance between us palpable, yet serene. My girlfriend played ignorant to our history as we chatted like old times.

The chemistry was still there. He's a sweet boy, just not for me. It's a shame it didn't work out. I'm glad I saw him though. It allowed me to let bygones be bygones and deftly diffuse a potentially awkward situation with a smile.

Everything I learned, I learned from '40s screwball comedies: When life throws you curve-balls, pile on the charm.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Modern Romance 2.0

I just came back from, as Oasis so succinctly put it, "fucking in the bushes." We met up at a parking lot. He moved his hand up my thigh as I peeled off my panties in the passenger seat. The whole thing felt like kids playing grown-up, a youthful pantomime at once absurd and clichéd.

After wiping the dirt from my knees, we traipsed back to his vehicle. Then he said those dreaded words, sequentially letting slip his hidden interest:

"So, how many guys have you been with?"

As we crossed a bridge, he told me he's been thinking of settling down. I don't know whether he felt obligated to say it or he was telling the truth; all I knew was I wanted to believe neither. While I'm content with our existing arrangement, however surreptitious, I am indifferent to his life because I am fully aware of our incompatibility, and by association, my contempt for him.

His excessive vanity repulses me.

His bravado forced.

His touch vulgar and unrefined.

Yet, the convenience of fucking him at indeterminate intervals overrides those qualities and allows me to unwind without the emotional ups and downs of a relationship.

In Alain de Botton's "Essays in Love," he likened the initial spark between couples to Groucho Marx's celebrated aphorism (incorrectly attributed to Woody Allen) of refusing to join a club that would have him as a member.

The paradox of the timid concludes that once mutual interest is ascertained, it cannot be sustained. For how could their beloved be perfect if they could love someone as imperfect as themselves?

But I am not timid. I am fetching, self-assured, and of sound mind. To love me is to reaffirm - rather than diminish - my attributes. I justify my promiscuity not as a response to monogamy, but proof that the arbitrariness of attraction should not be relied upon for direction. Where does it say that there must be a causal link between desirability and intercourse? Amorous feelings that encourage fucking in said bushes is as unpredictable as couples falling suddenly out of love for the same reasons they fell in. The medieval conception did not even bother associating sexual conquest with romantic love, for the latter wilts the moment the former is assuaged. In other words, I find it illogical to respond lustily only when the mood strikes when the determining factors for love and hate are capricious. Can feelings be trusted when a wisp of hair is interpreted by different individuals as both endearing and vile?

Of course, the simpler answer is always the most obvious one: It's a whole lot easier to spread my legs than pretend to be impressed with underemployed twenty-somethings eternally lost at sea.

I'm happy with how I've compartmentalized my life. I have a stimulating job to support myself, I have great friends whom I rely on for emotional sustenance, and I have men in my periphery who get me off. I wonder how long it will stay this peachy??

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Bret Easton Ellis was being cryptic, right?

Another day, another meaningless fuck.

I met this guy months ago through one of my best girlfriends. He's in finance and recently quit his job to start his own company. We'd chatted on and off. They had a falling out recently: She said he insulted her, he said she couldn't take a joke.

So today, after a three hour IM marathon, he challenged me to come over to his place. After some back and forth, I decided to take up his offer and drive over to his McMansion.

He opened his front door, gave me a hug, and asked if I wanted a tour.

"No thanks," I replied. "Where's your room? I have to meet my friend in an hour, so let's get down to business."

***

It was my birthday yesterday. I spent it reassuring people that I really did not care to celebrate it. I did pay a hippie dippy lady to do a tarot card reading for me. I picked out five cards and she ... reiterated everything I already knew about myself. It was fun. The woman said the primary conflict in my life involves the desire to have a "sweet" kind of love (characterized by tenderness and the feeling of being taken care of) paradoxically intertwined with my impulse to be overly competitive. She said I have a tendency to "best" my partners and then hold them in contempt for having "lost."

Her suggestion? I should take a break from men. Or in her words: "At least the ones your age."

I think the problem lies with me. When it comes to offering insight into other people's dilemmas, I am deeply empathetic. That's why I'm known as "Miss Reality Check": I'm blunt and cut straight to the issue. Some might even call it tactlessness. However, when it comes to copping to my own vulnerabilities, I clam up and will go to the ends of the earth to rationalize away those "silly" feelings.

After my boyfriend and I went our separate ways last September, I was absolutely ready to face the world alone. I could finally enjoy singlehood after two and a half years of my bickering, his nagging, and physical altercations springing from his addiction to World of Warcraft. Unbeknownst to me, I would fall hard for a man I'd meet through a friend. A boy, really. But a very clever boy. Goofy, intelligent, directionless, yet utterly irresistible. There was no way I could possibly see myself with him. I mean, What does one do with a philosophy degree anyway, I sniffed.

Despite that, he became the last thing I thought about before bed. I would replay, to nearly obsessive lengths, the last night I spent with him, reassuring him I couldn't possibly date him.

"Finding a job is my number one priority right now," I said. "I just want something casual."

When he offered to make me breakfast the morning after, I told him I couldn't stay. He said he makes a great breakfast. I told him I really couldn't stay. Why? So I could return the car to my mom before she had to go to work. But instead of just saying that, I had to act comically aloof.

So he decided we couldn't be friends. I asked for an explanation (a rookie mistake) and he said something about being afraid of what might occur due to the "residual interest" he still had for me. Needless to say, I was crushed when I discovered he was dating someone new. No one could've known, of course. If anyone asked, I said he didn't mean anything. I knew it wasn't the oxytocin talking when, bumping into him five months later, I experienced a surge of euphoria just seeing him reading on a bench as we made friendly small talk.

I hear he's pretty happy. Not that I would know. I still reminisce about his slender hands and the way he gripped my throat just before orgasm.

And here I am, in the present, picking up attractive men and dumping them the next morning. (My car definitely comes in handy for a quick getaway.) Even the most confident rogue reveals himself to be a needy mess under the unforgiving light of day. Which indicates to me that, yes, I really do need a long ass break.

***

I directed the prime time evening news last Thursday. What a rush!

Sunday, May 31, 2009

The journalist and the Polaroid fiend


And just like that, I had a one-night stand with a stranger. He was a former employee at the coffee shop I like to patronize. We chatted, he invited me back to his place, we watched Brazil (1985), the next thing you know, I was on him like white on rice.

His pants came off, then my dress, and for a skinny kid, I couldn't believe how big his ...

The next morning, we smoked some pot and he looked so precious with that, "Look ma, I found a girl!" smile, but I had to tell him I didn't see this going anywhere. It's amazing how well the harsh light of day defogs the mind. I said I just landed my dream job and didn't know if I could give him the proper attention he deserved. He looked really bummed. Better to nip it at the bud, I sighed.

He insisted that we stay in touch. I agreed on the condition that the friendship stays platonic with no suggestion of an ulterior motive. (My assessment: Not likely.)

I'm kind of kicking myself because he is so thoughtful and romantic, but what bad timing. Except if I had to be completely honest, I simply didn't feel sparks, the kind vital to overriding rationality. Coupled with distance and a full-time schedule, it just wasn't the sort of relationship two people could fall into comfortably. Besides, I knew these issues had to be addressed once I realized even his massive cock couldn't compensate and quiet my concerns.

Here's the kicker:

I later learn through Facebook that he's friends with the boy I was fucking last October and the boy's roommate, both of whom are acquainted with me. What kind of a hick town is this that a girl can't pass around her pussy without the risk of discovery?

Note to self: Must stop throwing myself at sensitive young artists.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

First job: milestone complete

And just like that, I'm a TV news producer.

***

So I dumped the boy after two dates. I went over to his place. We popped in Dr. Strangelove (I won out after a game of rock, paper, scissors), drank some wine, talked over the movie, started kissing, he stops and says, "I don't think this is a good idea," we keep talking, he invites me back to his room, lights candles, sits away from me, more talking, and then:

"Look," I said, "I know what I want. If you don't know what you want, I'm not going to wait around."

"What's wrong with just hanging out?" he asked, sheepishly.

"There's nothing wrong with hanging out, but I have enough guy friends."

So I walked out. When a man says he's not "relationship material" and "can't imagine ever having a mortgage," and then invites you back to his room to "listen to music," he's not giving out mixed signals -- he's a douchebag. When a man tells you the last relationship he had was in senior year of high school that lasted a whole three months, it's unlikely you'll make it past that. And when a man freely dishes out compliments without acting concurrently and consistently, you've definitely got a nuclear dud on your hands. I mean, shit, I know I'm "special," I don't need him to reaffirm it!

Anyway, I should've known the night would end poorly when I stepped into the lobby of his apartment eight hours earlier and realized it was a student residence, one deeply lacking in parking spaces. (Who needs 'em when you got bikes, right?) I looked up at the fluorescent lights, took a deep breath, and said aloud, "What am I doing here? I'm too old for this shit!"

Glad I didn't need a fancy dinner and some action between my legs to figure the kid out. But if this is how it's going to be, I am dreading the rest of my 20s.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Job Hunt Update

Landed two job interviews. One opening is for a news editor position overseeing seven Toronto magazines, the other as a TV producer for a Chinese cable network. I feel blessed for these opportunities considering how difficult it is to break into journalism.

A short time ago, I crashed a party an acquaintance of an acquaintance was throwing in honour of -- who knows? -- spring showers and salsa dancing. I met a woman my age with a certificate in journalism, struggling to get her foot in the door. She pays the bills as a receptionist for a painfully "boring" marketing company and is too dejected to freelance.

That's the typical story around these parts. I know less than a handful of people with whom I graduated holding reporting jobs (I'm talking three if we're lucky, two covering local sports). My friends now aspire to graduate school, law school, business school, anything to make ends meet, putting aside their ambitions in this industry.

This woman also groused about the lack of understanding she received from those around her. I sympathized. I've met a lot of unhelpful people, doling out the same tired truism: "Just put yourself out there and write!"

But then again, journalism has never been for the faint of heart (I've been doing it since I was 17). It is one of the least stable professions while being quite accommodating to enterprising individuals. Self-starters. Fast thinkers. Rule breakers. It's essentially a hardcore business and glorified paper pushers need not apply.

My resume reads like a patchwork of print and broadcast jobs with no particular pattern linking them all. I can admit that each one was strategic. I avoided repeating placements because I could only work summers and I wanted to illustrate the breadth of my skills. I also tried to flex my leadership abilities in order to extend my job description. So unlike many of my peers, I knew I couldn't rely on my degree alone to gain access to a corner office. I didn't, in other words, squander my summers because I knew it would eventually pay off.

On the flip side, I know I'm a picky fucker, having never applied for positions necessary to "pay my dues." Needless to say, I've done a lot of bullshitting. I'm ambitious and tirelessly dedicated, but I do not have the disposition for menial tasks. An arrogant proclamation, not one I'm proud of, but there you go. I'm susceptible to depressive moods when I'm stuck in a routine, either voluntarily or involuntarily, so I've learned to embrace that less-than-Protestant side of myself and tone down the pressure to conform.

So despite what everyone internalizes about the relationship between success and hard work, this recession has taught me that following the rules -- attending the right schools, knowing the right people, putting in 16-hour days -- will not protect you from the ruthless gears of change. When it's time for you to go, you're out of there.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

A.D.I.D.A.S.

Well, that was quick. 24 hours after blogging about my (very) recent life conversion, I get asked out on a date by a (very) cute boy.

I ordered my usual at the coffee shop I frequent, sat down, saw him, put my book down, asked him what he was typing on his computer, and 4 hours later:

"I'd like to see you again."

I'm curious to see where this leads. He later confessed that he had been staring at a blank screen, pretending to look focused, and hoping I'd notice him.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Happiness is a white kid wearing a rainbow

The last few months have been a series of disappointments I don't especially want to hash out on this blog. In short, I've been unlucky in love, unlucky at finding work, culminating in a rejection letter from the University of Toronto for the Public Policy & Governance graduate program.

And yet, by all accounts, I've been remarkably resilient and optimistic under the circumstances.

I had, what you would call, an epiphany. I've decided to drop out of the rat race. What a cliché, I know. Except I'm turning 23 (therefore, barely out of the gates) and I can already feel the double-noosed temptations of prestige and power tightening around my neck.

I think I've always been secretly envious of people whose personal introductions included a professional title.

"Hi, I'm Joe, Executive VP of Big Pharma."

"Denise, Bullshit Detector."

It all seemed so fantastical, so exclusive, so adult.

When relatives bragged about their children, their education was invariably linked to a like-sounding job. What else would you do with an accounting degree besides becoming an accountant? Likewise, what else would I be doing apart from journalism?

So here I was, teaching piano part-time, reading about millionaire financiers becoming janitors and delighting in schadenfreude, when I noticed the parallels. I was also on track to basing of my entire existence on my professional job title. To borrow Simone de Beauvoir, I was defined in relation to a career whether I was frustrated, rebellious, or even indifferent to it.

Until then, a potential activity was weighed against its usefulness as a resume padder. A friend of mine, currently enrolled in medical school, described it best. He said he joined an organization that promoted cycling for the blind and, being a keen marathon rider himself, was matched accordingly. While he did eventually have fun, he confessed that he was initially motivated by how impressive it might look if he ever decided to pursue ophthalmology!

His candor was refreshing.

While I don't feel professional anxiety, especially the kind fresh graduates are encountering, is anything new, I do believe there is a greater stigma surrounding those who could care less about having respectable ambitions (for my generation, at least). Sure, it might have to do with the entitled attitude a lot of us possess, but behind the bravado is insecurity. Insecurity I can't afford to carry with me any longer.

So in one sense, these last few months have been awfully unproductive. On the other hand, I asked my dad to teach me how to change motor oil, I taught myself Photoshop and printed out some kickass calling cards (I've already received design requests), a local coffee shop offered me a baking position, and I'm starting a book club.

"You've joined the B-team," said another friend, chuckling. Maybe I have. I just don't want to live my life like some fatalistic metaphor, determined by a series of self-serving obstacle courses, always shooting forward on a predictably sterile path.

I don't want to compete with men on dates and mirror their goals, their aggression, and their nonchalance or pursue those whom I use to compensate for the values I was too ashamed to profess. I want to put my life out there, genuinely and with compassion, and discover complementary individuals willing to part from that game as well.

My best friend, a student at Harvard Law, skyped me and said: "Oh my God, you've become a total hippie!" So much insight and wisdom in so few words.