Thursday, August 31, 2006

All sensibilities are temporarily unavailable

So I k-i-n-d of lied about not being posted on any websites. A couple weeks ago I heard about this free dating site and threw up a few photos and an old profile description for kicks. I had forgotten about it since there's been no action.

Recently, I received an e-mail alerting me to a message in my inbox. I logged in and found that this 40-year-old guy had contacted me.

You're very pretty and very attractive! I love your
smile. I can tell you're quite a nice person; You enjoy a lot of the simple things in life and appear quite cultured and not wanting to loose your chinese heritage. Reading through your paragraph, I seem to have acquired at least a bonus point by being a ABC. So did you grow up in this area or did you just migrate here?

For me, I enjoy getting a little exercise on weekends and
trying different cuisines or watching a movie. Cultural events are a plus and I enjoy trying different cuisines. I'm looking
for someone that wants to start as a friendship that will
turn into a long term relationship.

If you are good to meet for coffee, that would be great. If you want to contact me by regular e-mail, I can be reached at:

Talk to you soon!"

My reaction? MOST of it seems normal. Frankly, I shudder at e-mails that start by complimenting my looks. Why do guys do that? It sounds as if he's surprised that I look decent. I'm assuming that by writing me I meet your physical criteria. I also felt like Hguy was stretching a bit by adding the comment about acquiring a bonus point for being an ABC. (I had mentioned in my profile that it was a bonus if the guy was an ABC- my way of saying I prefer dating Asians.)

At least he shared a little about himself in terms of an interest in foods and cultural stuff (though it was a bit vague). He sounds like he tries to be active. His picture showed a guy, shoulders and up, with a slightly round face wearing sunglasses (I hate when the only picture posted blocks their face). Unfortunately, when I clicked through to his profile, it said very little. He had filled out the basics like age, body type, ethnicity, occupation, and what type of woman he was looking for, but only provided two bland sentences in the open text section.

My therapist always tells me I overanalyze and judge people too quickly, but what else am I supposed to do? He didn't give me much to go on. I'm not meeting up with this guy unless I learn more about him.

I wrote him back asking a couple questions - where he's originally from, if he likes to cook, and what plans he has for the weekend. I figure that might be a start on getting a sense of his personality and habits.


I must be suffering from a chemical imbalance. I just e-mailed a guy I saw on the dating website.

He, shall we call him Limey, is a couple years younger than me, but his profile indicated that he was open to women my age. His profile caught my attention because he mentioned the things he likes to do with such enthusiasm. He also happened to mention something about curling lessons (you know, that game involving an ice rink, a big stone with a handle, and a squeege mop) which I found unique. He could be a nice person to meet, he could be a total weirdo.

I had to think twice before I hit the "send" button. I've NEVER sent a message to a guy who didn't contact me first (not counting winks). I did reread my e-mail once (gosh I forgot to spell check). It seems decent... we shall see.

"Hi Limey,

When I read your profile, I couldn't help notice your mention of curling. After the Winter Olympics I saw an ad for curling lessons and thought it would be interesting too. Know anyone who went?

I'm just about to wrap up my dance class. I took a break from regular dancing for several years. It's been fun relearning and dancing once a week. What a work out! I haven't been there yet, but there's a place to dance [near you] called yyyyy.

Any particular food specialties you like to cook? For awhile, I was focused on a lot of dessert baking. I have amassed a small collection of cookbooks but haven't tried enough recipes. Epicurious is still one of the best place to find good recipes.

Before I ramble on further, I'll give you a chance to take a look at my profile. While I'm fairly outgoing with my friends, I'm a bit reserved when it comes to meeting people through the Internet. If you like what you've read, I hope we can chat via e-mail and learn more about each other.


Reminder to self: set low expectations, don't stress, this is not a big deal, think low expectations, think low expectations.

Why is it, despite my age and experience, I'm still so damned uncomfortable with dating? I'm not even sure how much I'm doing this for myself. What keeps me going?

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Losers in disguise

I shouldn't give KT another 5 minutes of fame, but I just can't help myself.

Although I'm not active on any major dating websites, I browse them about once a month just to get an idea of who's out there. Imagine my surprise when I recognized a new face. Yes, it's the guy who dated me to meet my friends.

Weird, he didn't turn up in my standard search which has a 20-mile radius. I happened to experiment and increased the distance of my search to 30 miles. Then KT's profile showed up on the list. The odd thing is that our two locations are are 15 miles apart. When I changed my default settings to the wider radius, he still doesn't show up. Apparently, I'm not meant to see him. Ha ha.

He wrote a quite long and detailed profile, almost sharing too much information. Nothing bad, just that some things you should hold off on mentioning until after exchanging a few e-mails.

Here are a few snippets I got a kick out of:

"My place: No Answer" -What? Isn't it cool to say that you live with your parents.

"I value responsibility and a kind heart." - Yeah, that's why you were always late and didn't have the nerve to be honest with me about not wanting to date? Okay, you did give me a $20 gift card to Borders Books.

"I am a physician specializing in ... . My ethnic background is Chinese-American (full-blooded Chinese but born in the U.S.). " - Does he have any idea how many gold diggers and Asian women needing green cards he's going to attract? ;)

"My match is ... Someone who also values responsibility. Someone who has a good heart, to win mine over :-) " - In other words, the woman needs to do all the work and pursue him? Oh brother, no thanks!

"Where I've always wanted to visit: China, England, New Zealand" - You take vacations to stay near home, and you said you've never taken a vacation abroad. Go already... .

"Turn-offs: Skinny dipping, Thrills" - No skinny dipping? Well, that's a deal-breaker for me! ;)

"TV show: Frasier" - How long ago did they film the last episode?

Okay, okay, I know I'm picking on him. After all his lameness interacting with me, I give myself license for a little entertainment at his expense. I really am usually a nice person. I'm sure he's a decent guy; I just saw the lazy side of him. Much of his profile does sound like him. It's intriguing how people can give such a good impression on "paper" and yet result in such a disparate experience. And maybe, sometimes, the reverse could also be true.

The Good Wife's Guide

A co-worker sent this amusing clipping around the office (click on the image to make it easier to read):

It reminds me of Joan Allen's character in Pleasantville. I especially like the part about "put a ribbon in your hair and be fresh-looking" for when the husband comes home. What am I - eight?

"Arrange his pillow and offer to take off his shoes." Maybe if I'm trying to win him over about something or if he really deserves it, all dusty and sweaty from renovating the house.

What a different life we live these days... well, many of us. Is this why I'm single? ;)

I actually think there are a few decent pieces of advice here that BOTH men and women could follow to make home life better, like not greeting each other at the end of the work day with complaints and problems and showing that you're happy to see them.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Wedding bands and other subtleties

Hula and I are down to our last week of dance class. I'm not planning to take the next session much to her disappointment. I have a bit of traveling coming up next month, both vacation and work, which would interfere too much. Plus, it'll be nice to have the option to go dance rather than feel obligated to be there.

Hula is a pretty gal who has the sweetest disposition. If you met her, you couldn't possibly not like her. She and Drummer have been married for three years (and dated for four). They actually met through dancing. She loves all sort of dancing and is always taking lessons or going dancing.

As you may recall, I've whined about the fact that Hula always has someone asking her to dance. She gets attention from many guys who I wish would ask me to dance. I see her not only dancing with them, but chatting with them for a few minutes after a song is finished.

A few weeks ago, she appeared to develop a rapport with one fellow who's been in our dance class the past two sessions who I'll call IceRim. He's thin, average height, and probably in his early 30s. I've tried making small talk with him during practice, but he never engages. He always seeks her out during the open dance for at least a song or two.

In this dance culture, it's perfectly fine making friends of either gender. It's the nature of the this dance's diehards. We're not talking a dimly lit room with booth tables and a well-stocked bar. People leave their stuff against the wall, change into their dance shoes, and politely ask others to dance. The staff are all volunteers who do it to dance for free.

Last week, IceRim must have wanted more quality time with Hula. He danced with her very soon after the open dance started. I went off and dance with a couple guys. During a break, I noticed they were sitting at the front of the dance floor talking. They were still there a couple songs later. I must admit, I was curious why there were spending so much time NOT dancing.

Later, Hula confessed that she was concerned about IceRim. She wondered whether he has noticed the wedding band she wears. Her impression was that he is a quiet and intense person. She enjoys talking to him but is worried he's looking for more (or maybe he was in a needy mood that night). After talking for a several songs, she knew it was time to move on, but she said it was difficult because he just kept talking and looking at her. Hula said he was giving that intense, eyes locked look at her as they sat. She finally had to be obvious and excuse herself from the conversation by saying, "let's go dance with some other people."

We talked about how obvious she should be this week. Does she actually need to work "husband" into the conversation - "This weekend my HUSBAND and I went to a BBQ." How could he not notice the wedding band, especially since this is partner dancing and you do occasionally need to grab the follower's left hand?


The funny thing is the reverse conversation came up over the weekend with some guy dancers, Hunch and Lex. The two guys were telling me about this gal who is a great dancer. When she first showed up on the scene (less than a year ago), a lot of guys were hanging around with her. It was obvious many guys were interested in her. What people were unaware of is that she's engaged to someone who lives two hours away. Note that women have a tendency to not want to wear a lot of jewelry dancing because the risk of scratching the guys or getting it caught in the clothing.

Hunch commented how he felt pretty stupid about exchanging phone numbers with her once he learned that she was engaged. He was clearly disappointed at the time. We all agreed that people who are not available have a responsibility to make it clear on the dance floor. Granted, it's uncomfortable and potentially dangerous to wear an engagement ring dancing, but maybe she could have found some other flat ring to wear for this situation.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Who's left?

On Sunday, Chi and I went on a 10-mile hike. Short legs and chubby thighs aren't a good combination when you want to walk fast uphill. I am proud to say we finished in less than 3 and 1/2 hours. I was exhausted in the evening and barely woke up this morning. (Can't believe I'm going to the gym after work today. :p)

Much of the conversation was spent discussing Chi's new beau. They met on Hrmny and have now been on four dates. It's going well; they've agreed to only see each other. She sounds very comfortable with him.

Prior to meeting Juan, her sister had arranged for her to meet up with some single guy friends of hers who live in the Southeast and are visiting for Labor Day weekend. She still plans to be a polite host, although the original purpose of possibly hooking up in a moot point.

Chi is now recruiting her single girlfriends to join her since the tourist group consists of four guys and a woman. We'll meet up with them for dinner and drinks one night on the weekend.

"I think Mae is out of town. I sent an e-mail to Ing but she hasn't responded."

"Do you have any single friends you want to invite?"

[pause... thinking...]"No, the only person I would invite is moving next week."

Crap! All I could think to myself was how all my female friends are spoken for. I mean, man, I'm all alone now? Sh is leaving (temporarily). Chi, Suna, Is, Jew, and Rine are all steadily dating. Hoku, Em, and Pisces are recently married. C3, Nvy, and Hula have been married for years. Even amongest many of the blogs I read, people have a boy. Six months ago, I had five (plus) single gals. Yeah, this is f*#ked up. WHAT IS WRONG?

I need a dog or something... whatever... time to get some work done.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Weekend blah-b

I've had absolutely nothing to say the past couple days. My mind is just one pathetic blob of moping. I feel like a live a needless and meaningless existence (other than providing money to corporate executives). It must be those monthly hormones because I'm totally bored (and feeling fat). What happens in a child's life that transforms them into interesting adults? Can I still make it up?

Last night: Home... shopping online and watching tv
Tonight: Clearance shopping and then go home, maybe I'll do some laundry
Tomorrow: Help my brother move, pay some bills, kill the ivy that's invading my patio, head up to the dance studio to practice my routine
Day After Tomorrow: Be taken on a grueling 10-mile hike (Chi's gonna bust my ass up those hills) and go to a farewell BBQ


I e-mailed Pisces the other day. I haven't talked to her since the wedding. We don't talk as much (at all really) as we did when she lived in the same metro area. I gave up on calling a long time ago due to the 3-hour difference and her typically early bedtime.

It was refreshing to hear back from her so quickly. She wrote a detailed recap of her house hunt and the winning choice they made despite the fact she's not all that excited about the place. She knew her husband would love it. They close this week and now need to prepare her condo and his house for sale.

Considering it's been almost three months since we talked, it got me to thinking about the general concept of keeping in touch. I've never been good about chatting with people. I was a terrible pen pal. I wasn't one of those teenagers who talked on the phone every day. What's wrong with me? One part of it is laziness, the other part is not knowing how to make every day events into interesting stories.

Now, as an adult, I haphazardly talk to friends. I feel like I'm bothering them if I call. What if they're in the middle of something, like helping the kids with homework? What is normal in terms of keeping in contact with friends? Granted my friends aren't good about contacting me either, unless they're planning to visit the area. So am I a bad friend or is this just a general thing and you really only regularly talk to a few close, close friends?

Hmmm, that reminds me, maybe I should give my cousin a call to say "hello."

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Careers and Marriage -

Someone mentioned this article, Careers and Marriage, in a blog. I apologize for not being able to give credit to that person (found him). I just happened to run across it on my own today.

There's so much lameness to this article. I can't believe Forbes let's people print poorly written things like this. (Though if they're doing it to get publicity, they did it well.) I thought it was entertaining they briefly pulled the opinion and then put it back up when there was a counterpoint to offer. Just goes to show women still must struggle against many forces to be treated better. (...and my mind wanders to an NPR segment this morning about the dangers of being a woman in war-torn Africa).

There are likely a countless number of debates about this on various blogs and discussion boards. My thoughts have already probably been repeated dozens of times and trivial in comparison to people who read more. Still, I just can't help point out a few things that bugged me in his poorly argued opinion: 1) maybe the reason time men spend away from the home has no statistical effect on marriage because the wife is relieved to not have to deal with her husband (and is possibly unwilling or unable to get a divorce for various reasons), 2) both men and women are prone to having extra-marital affairs, you are making an unfounded claim that divorces caused by affairs are the fault of career women, 3) hire a cleaning person, duh.

But I have better things to do than to spend more time on this... I could say plenty of other unsubstantiated comments and generalizations. Then I'd be stooping to his level. I'll just read what others have to say, like in Slate Magazine or

Careers and Marriage published a story Aug. 22 by editor Michael Noer on two-career relationships that provoked a heated response from both outside and inside our building. Elizabeth Corcoran, a member of our Silicon Valley bureau and principal author of the magazine's current cover story on robots, sent in this rebuttal. Here's a link for reader discussion.

Point: Don't Marry Career Women
By Michael Noer
How do women, careers and marriage mix? Not well, say social scientists.

Guys: A word of advice. Marry pretty women or ugly ones. Short ones or tall ones. Blondes or brunettes. Just, whatever you do, don't marry a woman with a career.

Why? Because if many social scientists are to be believed, you run a higher risk of having a rocky marriage. While everyone knows that marriage can be stressful, recent studies have found professional women are more likely to get divorced, more likely to cheat, less likely to have children, and, if they do have kids, they are more likely to be unhappy about it. A recent study in Social Forces, a research journal, found that women--even those with a "feminist" outlook--are happier when their husband is the primary breadwinner.

Not a happy conclusion, especially given that many men, particularly successful men, are attracted to women with similar goals and aspirations. And why not? After all, your typical career girl is well-educated, ambitious, informed and engaged. All seemingly good things, right? SureƂ…at least until you get married. Then, to put it bluntly, the more successful she is the more likely she is to grow dissatisfied with you. Sound familiar?

Many factors contribute to a stable marriage, including the marital status of your spouse's parents (folks with divorced parents are significantly more likely to get divorced themselves), age at first marriage, race, religious beliefs and socio-economic status. And, of course, many working women are indeed happily and fruitfully married--it's just that they are less likely to be so than non-working women. And that, statistically speaking, is the rub.

To be clear, we're not talking about a high-school dropout minding a cash register. For our purposes, a "career girl" has a university-level (or higher) education, works more than 35 hours a week outside the home and makes more than $30,000 a year.

If a host of studies are to be believed, marrying these women is asking for trouble. If they quit their jobs and stay home with the kids, they will be unhappy (Journal of Marriage and Family, 2003). They will be unhappy if they make more money than you do (Social Forces, 2006). You will be unhappy if they make more money than you do (Journal of Marriage and Family, 2001). You will be more likely to fall ill (American Journal of Sociology). Even your house will be dirtier (Institute for Social Research).

Why? Well, despite the fact that the link between work, women and divorce rates is complex and controversial, much of the reasoning is based on a lot of economic theory and a bit of common sense. In classic economics, a marriage is, at least in part, an exercise in labor specialization. Traditionally men have tended to do "market" or paid work outside the home and women have tended to do "non-market" or household work, including raising children. All of the work must get done by somebody, and this pairing, regardless of who is in the home and who is outside the home, accomplishes that goal. Nobel laureate Gary S. Becker argued that when the labor specialization in a marriage decreases--if, for example, both spouses have careers--the overall value of the marriage is lower for both partners because less of the total needed work is getting done, making life harder for both partners and divorce more likely. And, indeed, empirical studies have concluded just that.

In 2004, John H. Johnson examined data from the Survey of Income and Program Participation and concluded that gender has a significant influence on the relationship between work hours and increases in the probability of divorce. Women's work hours consistently increase divorce, whereas increases in men's work hours often have no statistical effect. "I also find that the incidence in divorce is far higher in couples where both spouses are working than in couples where only one spouse is employed," Johnson says. A few other studies, which have focused on employment (as opposed to working hours) have concluded that working outside the home actually increases marital stability, at least when the marriage is a happy one. But even in these studies, wives' employment does correlate positively to divorce rates, when the marriage is of "low marital quality."

The other reason a career can hurt a marriage will be obvious to anyone who has seen their mate run off with a co-worker: When your spouse works outside the home, chances increase they'll meet someone they like more than you. "The work environment provides a host of potential partners," researcher Adrian J. Blow reported in the Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, "and individuals frequently find themselves spending a great deal of time with these individuals."

There's more: According to a wide-ranging review of the published literature, highly educated people are more likely to have had extra-marital sex (those with graduate degrees are 1.75 more likely to have cheated than those with high school diplomas.) Additionally, individuals who earn more than $30,000 a year are more likely to cheat.

And if the cheating leads to divorce, you're really in trouble. Divorce has been positively correlated with higher rates of alcoholism, clinical depression and suicide. Other studies have associated divorce with increased rates of cancer, stroke, and sexually-transmitted disease. Plus divorce is financially devastating. According to one recent study on "Marriage and Divorce's Impact on Wealth," published in The Journal of Sociology, divorced people see their overall net worth drop an average of 77%.

So why not just stay single? Because, academically speaking, a solid marriage has a host of benefits beyond just individual "happiness." There are broader social and health implications as well. According to a 2004 paper entitled "What Do Social Scientists Know About the Benefits of Marriage?" marriage is positively associated with "better outcomes for children under most circumstances," higher earnings for adult men, and "being married and being in a satisfying marriage are positively associated with health and negatively associated with mortality." In other words, a good marriage is associated with a higher income, a longer, healthier life and better-adjusted kids.

A word of caution, though: As with any social scientific study, it's important not to confuse correlation with causation. In other words, just because married folks are healthier than single people, it doesn't mean that marriage is causing the health gains. It could just be that healthier people are more likely to be married.

Counterpoint: Don't Marry A Lazy Man
By Elizabeth Corcoran
Studies aside, modern marriage is a two way street. Men should own up to their responsibilities, too.

Girlfriends: A word of advice. Ask your man the following question: When was the last time you learned something useful, either at home or work?

If the last new skill your guy learned was how to tie his shoes in the second grade, dump him. If he can pick up new ideas faster than your puppy, you've got a winner.

I'm not usually a fan of dipstick tests, particularly when it comes to marriage and relationships. But a downright frightening story written by my colleague, Michael Noer, on our Web site today drove me to it. According to the experts cited by Michael, marrying a "career girl" seems to lead to a fate worse than tangling with a hungry cougar.

OK, call me a cougar. I've been working since the day I graduated from college 20-odd years ago. I have two grade-school-aged children. Work definitely takes up more than 35 hours a week for me. Thankfully, I do seem to make more than $30,000. All of which, according to Michael, should make me a wretched wife.

In spite of those dangerous statistics, my husband and I are about to celebrate our 18th wedding anniversary. You'll see us snuggling at a mountain-winery concert this month, enjoying the occasion. I don't think I'm all that unusual--so it seemed like a good time to test Michael's grim assertions.

The experts cited in his story think that professional women are more likely to get divorced, to cheat and to be grumpy about either having kids or not having them. But rather than rush to blame the woman, let's not overlook the other key variable: What is the guy doing?

Take, for instance, the claim that professional women are more likely to get divorced, because they're more likely to meet someone in the workforce who will be "more attractive" than that old squashed-couch hubby at home.

Women have faced this kind of competition squarely for years. Say you marry your college heartthrob. Ten years later, he's working with some good-looking gals--nymphets just out of college, or the more sophisticated types who spent two years building houses in Africa before they went to Stanford Business School. What do you do? A: Stay home, whine and eat chocolate B: Take up rock climbing, read interesting books and continue to develop that interesting personality he fell in love with in the first place.

Note to guys: Start by going to the gym. Then try some new music. Or a book. Or a movie. Keep connected to the rest of the world. You'll win--and so will your marriage.

There is, of course, the continual dilemma of who does the work around the house. But if both spouses are working, guess what? They've got enough income to hire someone else to fold laundry, mop floors, etc.

Money is a problem? Honestly, the times money has been the biggest problem for us have been when we were short of it--not when one of us is earning more than the other. When we have enough to pay the bills, have some fun and save a bit, seems like the rules of pre-school should take over: Play nice, be fair and take turns.

In two-career couples, Michael frets, there's less specialization in the marriage, so supposedly the union becomes less useful to either party. Look more closely, Mike! Any long-running marriage is packed full of carefully developed--and charmingly offsetting--areas of expertise.

For us, the list starts with taxes, vacation planning and investment management. My husband likes that stuff, and it leaves me yawning. Bless him for doing it. Give me the wireless Internet system, the garden or just about any routine home repairs and I'm suddenly the savant. Tear us apart, and we'd both be pitiful idiots trying to learn unfamiliar routines.

Michael is right that longer work hours force two-career couples to try harder to clear out blocks of family time. When we do, though, we get to enjoy a lot more. We understand each other's career jokes and frustrations. We're better sounding boards on what to do next. And at dinner parties, we actually like to be seated at the same table.

The essence of a good marriage, it seems to me, is that both people have to learn to change and keep on adapting. Children bring tons of change. Mothers encounter it first during the nine months of pregnancy, starting with changing body dimensions. But fathers have to learn to adapt, too, by learning to help care for children, to take charge of new aspects of a household, to adapt as the mothers change.

So guys, if you're game for an exciting life, go ahead and marry a professional gal.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Temporarily removing Tim from my life

As I deliberate, vacillate, and procrastinate about how to clean up my life and questions whether I'm ready to date, part of the question is about what role Tim should play. (Yes, here we go again. If you only knew how many ways I've looked at this in my mind.) Maybe some distance apart would do me some good.

I love him dearly. I need him in my life... maybe a little too much. Many times, I worry that I'm dependent on him. He's the first person (and sometimes the only person) I'll call to hang out and watch a DVD or just to ask some basic question. I want him around.

The amount of time I spend with him begs the question of whether he fills a void in my life. And by doing so, does that de-incentivise me from actively seeking out new people?

I told myself not to call him the other night, and I totally ignored my own wishes. I called him up with the suggestion that he come over to finish off his dessert that was left behind from several days ago. (He doesn't have a microwave.) He said he'd come by at 10pm.

He came by at 9:25pm. I was channel surfing when he arrived and happened to leave the tv on the finale of "Treasure Hunters." Since I was still dressed in my smelly, dirty gym clothes, I sat on the floor in front of the sofa, leaning sideways against it. Tim sat on the cushion just above me. He put his toes against my back, I could smell the shoe odors that had penetrated his socks. Yuck. He once played with my hair, and another time he gently rubbed my back.

He had just been over the previous night to watch a movie. Nothing happened, we just sat next to each other on the couch and watched. The comfort and simpleness of watching a movie together is what I enjoy. I'd like to hope he likes that too.

There are times I wonder if this is what being together with someone (in a relationship) comes down to. That is, being able to do normal, everyday things together and being content. I like having him nearby. If the world consisted of the two of us, I'd be happy. It feels so good to get a hug from him. Am I missing out on a special man?

Before, I didn't worry about us spending so much time together. Now, I have a little concern. What do I want from him? How do you separate friendship from companionship? Is it him I want or just a warm body to keep me company?

The thought has crossed my mind to talk to Tim about this, but I fear he'll just brush my serious questions off with some sarcastic humor. Rather than tell me how he feels, he'll retort something about how we're not dating or remind me that I already broke up with him. Naturally, I understand him not wanting to discuss it. He's probably tired of talking about something that goes nowhere. (Women can be annoying with their constant analyzing eh?)

I see other friends (of opposite gender) who are close and spend what seems like a decent amount of time in each other's company. He'll drive 30 miles to hang out with her and vice versa. She'll crash at his place if she is out late or needs to be in the area early the next morning. What separates them from being more than friends? Why is this such a foggy state for me? What am I missing? Somehow I never developed an understanding of how to just be good friends with a guy. (I swear I missed a class in basic social skills as a teenager.)

This is from where my thoughts of taking Tim out of my life stem. I feel like I need to test myself and maybe find an answer. Would a month suffice? Does it mean I don't talk to him at all or limit myself to a weekly e-mail (as if he lived in another state). How, if at all, would this change our relationship? There's no guarantee that a separation would clarify my confusion. My therapist thinks I would unnecessarily punish myself and Tim by doing this and that there are better ways to address my confusion in regards to relationships.

Monday, August 21, 2006


I think the Kennedy postcard on PostSecret this week says a lot about what's been the underlyng theme for me lately...

Subliminal pressure

I had a feeling this weekend that I needed to call home. On Sunday afternoon, the folks called to check on me and my brother.

Conversations with Dad are always fine. My dad is pretty mellow and happy. He just wants to make sure we're doing well.

Then, Mom got on the phone. First, she asked me about my brother. She wanted my opinion on my brother's choice of apartments. Was it a good deal? Was the apartment in good condition? What about the neighborhood?

The honest but wrong answer was, "I don't know, it sounds fine."

"What do you mean? Have you seen the apartment."

"No, he didn't ask me to."

"[frustrated] Why didn't you check on it? How is he supposed to know if it's good? Why didn't you go look?"

"Mom, he's a big boy. He needs to take care of these things himself. If he needed help, he could ask me. The rent he's paying sounds about right for a one bedroom apartment."

[blah, blah blah, blah... ]

So for the past couple of months, most of my conversations with Mom have been about my brother's wedding and her search for the perfect dress to wear. There are the brief complaints about her mean boss and her plan to retire next year. Basically, the focus has been off me. Thank God.

For the first time in awhile, she updated me about other friends' kids. The main news was about EV.

Background information:
  • EV is five years younger than me.
  • We've known each other since we were kids.
  • EV attended a prestigious undergrad and an Ivy League law school.
  • EV married Teeth last spring. They met at an alumni event.
  • Teeth is an MD-PhD student
  • Teeth's father is a well-regarded physician and chief of a medical department at a big hospital

    "So EV's husband's parents are considering buying a house for them. They live in, I think it's High-something?"

    "Do they live in Hill?"

    "Yes, that's the city. His parents will buy them a house there if he comes to the area for residency." (This is a wealthy suburb where homes usually start in the $1.x million range.)

    "That's nice."

    "Isn't EV so lucky that she married into a rich family?"

    "Yes, that's great they would have a house. Are they moving there for sure?"

    "I don't know, but the area has some good places for him to work. He could work anywhere. I think he wants to go to Boston. EV will follow him wherever he wants to go. I think he prefers doing research."

    "Sure, Boston would be a good place for that."

    "And Auntie D told me, EV hasn't announced it so I don't think she wants people to know so don't say anything, she's expecting."

    "Okay." (Calculating in my head how long it's been since the wedding...)

    "EV is so lucky. She is smart and has a good husband from a well-to-do family."

    Yeah, you should have heard all the raving when EV first got engaged... . Mom then told me about another friend's daughter and how the couple is moving back to the SF Bay Area after living for awhile in Connecticut and Manhattan. They are thinking about buying a house, but her mother is weary of them doing that since they seem to change jobs every couple of years. The area they are looking at has home that start in the low $2 million range.

    I want to be happy for EV because she's a great person. But when it's presented to me like this, it's hard to swallow. I debated saying what was really going on in my head but bit my tongue. I wanted to ask Mom why she was telling me these things. Maybe she was just enjoying gossiping and spreading the news about the local kids. I doubt she has any clue how upsetting it was for me to hear her say these things. My mood went from relaxed to distraught in a matter of minutes. Does she realize that it makes me feel like I'm a loser hearing that these girls are rich and happily married? Is she embarrassed about her 35-year-old daughter who's still single and hasn't had a boyfriend in more than two years? Is this her way of "inspiring" me?

    The frustration and sadness welled up inside me. I'm never going to live up to the world she envisions. I don't expect to be rich (as nice as that would be). There's never any direct comparisons made, but how can I not think that she expects something more of me. The pressure is overwhelming. Nothing is ever good enough. This is why it's no fun to talk to my mother. Am I being too sensitive? Did I read too much into her remarks?

    Poor Tim had come over to watch "Munich" with me just as I passed the phone over to my brother. I told Tim what my mother said and the tears just started coming out. I lost it. I didn't mean to do that in front of him. He sat there and responded, "your mother's an idiot."

    I continued to explain why what she said made me so upset. Tim's analysis was that my mother and I have different priorities and that's why we don't get along. His impression is that she values money and status. I know it's not nice to be so harsh towards a parent, but I couldn't defend her at that moment.

    It's desperate times such as these that drive me to think I should just say "yes" to any guy who asks me and pretend to be a sweet, quiet girl so they'll marry me and I can get it all over with. Then again, why bother when Mom will never be happy? This is just another reason to hate dating. Unlike most people, I am very uncomfortable introducing anyone male to my mother. I can't stand the barrage of questions and behind my back comments that will be made. I've entertained the idea of getting married without telling them. I'd hate to leave my dear dad out of it. I just don't see the point in the added stress of letting my mother know anything about my life.
  • Saturday, August 19, 2006

    Wrapping up "How to Get the Guy"

    I watched on Friday night. Yeah, it was a bit boring. They were obviously cutting the clips to make for an uplifting, optimistic ending.

    Tim watched with me. He was pretty annoyed at the whole thing. Firstly, he complained that none of the girls were that cute. That dinner with the married couple was completely useless. We also kept wondering how much time passed between dates. How much communication occurred between dates via e-mail and phone? It was difficult to know if sufficient time had passed to make the decisions that were shown.

    The one thing we both agreed is that some of the dates were rather extravagant. Sean rented a limo to Sonoma, come on. After seeing them sailing around on the yacht (and never actually handling the ropes), Tim laughed and thought Sean was doing this only to impress the camera, not Michelle. This was his way of looking cool so he can get more dates after his 15 minutes of fame. Not a shocker they broke up just after the show finished.

    The whole thing with Kris... eh... . Gee, what a surprise considering how easy it was for her to get dates. We should all have such problems. Why did she need to be on the show?

    I felt bad for Anne. Asking personal questions is tough for me too. I think that's why some of my relationships have failed to develop. It was awkward and maybe early, but that guy, as Tim put it, "had a deer in headlights" look. He was lame.

    Alyssa's LA guy was mysterious to me. Did I miss some detail? It's a personal thing, I can't imagine starting a new relationship when you live hundreds of miles away. He looked kind of sloppy, but they looked like they were happy. That speech on the beach was weird, what is he - a psychologist or something?

    For myself, it was hard to watch at times. I couldn't help wonder whether I'll ever feel that happy again. The two times anyone has ever said those three special words to me, my intuition was that they said it because they needed to not because they truly felt it. I want to believe that someone out there can love me.

    While it wasn't anything amazing, I'm glad I at least have an ending. Do any of them have a blog?

    Friday, August 18, 2006 Unaired Episodes of H2GG

    Woohoo! Thanks to a posting by Anonymous Rants I can now find out what happened in the last two episodes of "How to Get the Guy." ABC must have received enough requests from us closet watchers to post them on their website.

    I'm going to bed early tonight so I can volunteer bright and early Saturday (what was I thinking). This should make for a decent bedtime story (and no commercials :D).

    Four Things

    I've been tagged by Zerodoll.

    It's a fun way to start the day...

    4 things thing
    1. Library page
    2. Lab rat
    3. ERP programmer
    3. Crate&Barrel associate

    1. Pride and Prejudice
    2. The Incredibles
    3. Princess Bride
    4. Star Wars

    1. Carlsbad
    2. Derby
    3. Belmont
    4. Berkeley

    1. Gilmore Girls (only one season left :(()
    2. Lost
    3. The Amazing Race
    4. How I Met Your Mother
    I don't have cable, otherwise I'm sure there'd be a couple more.

    1. Andalucia
    2. China
    3. NYC
    4. Provence

    1. Dear Abby
    2. Yahoo
    3. SFGate
    4. several blogs

    1. Yank Sing
    2. Vik's Chaat House
    3. Ti Couz
    4. Farallon

    1. Tater tots
    2. Blueberries
    3. Palmiers Ooo, can I change that to corndogs!?
    4. Cheetos

    1. El Paso Elementary
    2. Flora Vista Elementary
    3. SDHS
    4. UC

    1. Like
    2. Nooo waaaay!
    3. Hence...
    4. Does that make sense?

    1. On the couch in my pjs
    2. Hawaii
    3. shopping in the city
    4. Yosemite

    Thursday, August 17, 2006

    Ice Cream Personality

    I heard about this Ice Cream Personality Test on the radio sometime last year, but never found the article. It's not really a quiz, but it's interesting to see what's traits are associated with a flavors people prefer. This is also more interesting because it's based on research, and being a scientist at heart, that somehow makes it more credible to me (though I'd like to know more details). And... banana ice cream?!??!?

    One of my classic favorites is Butter Pecan. I don't actually buy it that often, but I love the flavor. I can't deny that the description does suit me. It seems one would expect me to like Strawberry more than Chocolate as a next choice. I can't remember the last time I ate strawberry ice cream.

    I did a little surfing and found a couple other quizes... damn, I still came up as Butter Pecan, how weird is that?

    Maybe this explains my dual personality. My friends wouldn't say I'm shy, but if you put me in a room with total strangers, I'd be the quiet gal standing around looking uncomfortable.

    Time to go home and eat some of my yummy B&J's Coffee Heath Bar Crunch until I can buy a pint of Mayan Chocolate! So much for losing some weight. ;)

    Wednesday, August 16, 2006

    Company Profile on HotJobs

    I was briefly browsing jobs yesterday and came across some postings from this company -
    Friend Finder Network. Now if you've ever heard of this company, you'd know they assist in hooking up people for... ahem... casual encounters. (Yes, I'm a bit prudish in public.) I like how they mentioned they're a top online dating site as mentioned in a "special report." What could it have been?

    Nothing good or bad about it. Everyone is allowed to choose their lifestyle. It's certainly not me, though I find that world intriguing (and entertaining to browse). The idea of working for the company is, well, bizarre. Frankly, I'd be embarrassed to say that I work there. Don't companies like this usually operate under a more blandly named corporate entity?

    The other entertaining aspect of this is the city where the company is located. Palo Alto is this suburban mix of Stanford students, well-educated professionals, and wealthy people. I would have pictured a company like this being located in a more urban center like San Francisco or Los Angeles. Maybe I'm missing something about the demographics of people who would use this site, but it seems like if the local citizens knew about this company, they'd chase them out of town. I know there not the only edgy company to be located in an average suburb, but it's always such a surprise when you are familiar with the town. (I have friends who attended Stanford and lived there briefly.)

    Can you just imagine the questions the employees must get asked by friends and acquaintances? It'd sure make for a good conversation starter at parties. I wonder what kinds of crazy stories they have to tell from the customer service department.

    Tuesday, August 15, 2006

    Life Goes On

    I don't know what it is, I guess all the little worries, pressures, and disappointments have finally built up to a point where I'm just not handling it well today.

    I've got a sh*t load of work to do today, so I don't even have time to browse blogs today. But I had to stop and write this to get it off my chest and hopefully allow me to concentrate on work.

    My colleague has 15+ years more experience than me. Of course she more effective, but I feeling lame and incompetent. For whatever reason, my motivation is lacking. I need to be challenged, and yet I'm not sure what would be most effective to develop my skills properly. It's hard not having a real boss to talk to. My colleague is kind of a surrogate boss, but neither of us really want that type of relationship. There's a big, gaping hole where we're supposed to have a director. Instead, we report directly to a VP in a related department. Therefore, while he needs us and understands what we do, he doesn't directly understand our needs and issues. It's not a priority for him. I know I should say something, but it's not going to change anything. He's a good guy, it's not like he's unapproachable. I just don't know what good it would do.

    Besides not feeling motivated, work just seems secondary. It's hard, for me, to enjoy life when I feel like I have no grand purpose (and I'm not talking about God's plan because I'm not really religious). I've lived my life with the vision of growing up, graduating from college, being successful in my career, finding a great husband/companion, and raising healthy, well-rounded children. Those last two parts are missing, and I don't envision they'll come anytime soon. I'm left wondering what the hell to do with myself.

    Sure, I keep busy with dancing, hiking, dinners with friends, and all kinds of fun activities. It gets old after awhile. Sitting at home, eating with people and watching a little tv is just as good to me. I know I'll be complaining up a storm once I'm married and shuttling kids around all day, but it sounds so much better than this aimless, wandering life I live right now. Am I that boring? (Do I really want someone else to think for me? Yes, sometimes it sounds good.)

    Hell, if I knew my life was going to stay like this, I might take some risks. You have no idea how much I'd like to quit my job and just take off. I'd try things that mean being paid less money. It's that damn financially-responsible component ingrained in mean by my Asian upbringing. If I have a family, I need to save up money. [many swear words shooting off in my head]

    And then, when I'm in these moods, I think, "who the hell would want to date someone who's messed up and has low self-esteem?" I feel stuck not wanting to be alone but feeling like I'm not ready to seriously date. Great... just great. The problems are compounding.

    What keeps me here is knowing I have people counting on me. I have a huge project that needs to finish next week. I have another that will produce critical results for the marketing team after Labor Day. I wouldn't have the heart to just disappear and leave people holding the bag. And then there's my friend who is taking dance class with me. I'm cooking dinner for people on Thursday who believe I cook great meals. Relatives want me to help them with moving and my brother's wedding. Right now, all I want to do is fill my car's tank with gas and drive any random road that will take me away from everything.

    I'd better get back to work...

    Monday, August 14, 2006

    How many dates until...

    I had lunch with Chi over the weekend. Last week she had mentioned to the group that she's hidden her profile so that she won't receive new matches.

    In the past couple months, she's been on a handful of dates and some coffee meetings. Her estimate is that she's considered communicating with some 100+ eligible men during that time. I'm sure she was in contact with more than 20 guys over those months.

    Of them, Chi found one she's feels is genuine and interesting. Juan has been dating online for several months. His friends signed him up during some down time on a ski trip. He's very active with outdoor activities. When they first starting writing each other, his next 10 weekends were already booked.

    They've been out on two dates in the past... four weeks? They both went really well. He's been very good about calling to talk and setting up next dates in advance. The third and fourth dates are already reserved though not planned (to Chi's knowledge). He returns from his vacation this week.

    When she mentioned going out to a movie with a guy on Saturday, I asked if it was a date. No, it was a co-worker friend who she's known for a long time. As she talked about taking herself off of her online dating sites, I had to ask, "isn't it a bit early?"

    "I know, yeah, my sister says the same thing."

    "I don't want to nag, but other people have advised me in the past about keeping your options open."

    "Yes, you're right, but I don't want to. He's such a good guy."

    "Okay, just wanted to check. I want to be optimistic about Juan but felt this was important to mention. I won't ask again."

    She was a good sport about it. It was also a relief to hear that her sister has called her on it as well. Advice is tough to follow when you like someone.

    Chi looks happy; it's cute. I want to believe she's found a good guy. In my younger years, the thought never occurred to me to date more than one person at a time. It seemed like cheating (and I could never understand how you remember to whom you've said what). Nor did it occur to me that the guy I went out with might be dating other people. It's kind of sad that I can't think that way anymore. I understand Chi's actions, I'd want to do the same (and have). But at this age (and she's the same age), I feel like we can't be so narrowly focused (so soon).

    So the question I have now is, how many dates do you go on with someone before you stop dating other people? Is it measured in months? Do you wait until you have "the conversation" and agree to be monogamous? At what point do you have that conversation? Is it a decision where you must trust you gut?

    Oh yeah... and because she'd like to see where things go with Juan, she's wanting to pass along the set ups for her offered by friends to me. Nice I suppose, it just seems a little odd.

    Friday, August 11, 2006

    Am I being a coward?

    My friend, TJ, loves going to watch Shakespeare. A couple times he has invited me as part of a group he tries to put together. Most of the time, I have been unable to attend due to other events.

    Today, he sent out a new invite for the Labor Day weekend. It'd be fun to go except for one thing. This particular troop performs every year and is a staple of summer theatre. My ex-boyfriend, Ryan, has had a regular subscription to this event for years. Even though it's been three years since we broke up, I have no desire to run into him. I fear going for the chance I'll run into him.

    The play runs for four weeks, two performances each Sunday. He might go a different Sunday, he might be at the other show. Should he attend the same performance, there is a very good chance of making contact with him because the venue holds probably only 200+ people. TJ and Ryan tend to prefer similar seating areas that are midway or towards the back. Looking at the schedule and knowing which subscription plan he probably purchased, I'm guessing he will not be attending Labor Day weekend.

    Still, I can't help be concerned. Is it okay to still be so uncomfortable about Ryan? Will I ever be okay about it? At this moment, I'd rather go on another ambiguous "date" with KT than face Ryan. I know I did the right thing by leaving him, but I didn't want to. He was the one who said, "I don't think I want to marry you." I don't want to pretend to be alright and act polite if I see him. I want to kick him, scream at him, and key his car. These are all emotions I don't want to feel; it's scary enough just to think about them.

    I hate this because I have the right to do whatever I want. I don't like that he still has influence over me. It's not fair. It makes me not want to share special places with people I date in the future. I don't want those taken away from me should things go bad.

    I wish I could write TJ and tell him the truth about why I don't want to go rather than make him think I don't like Shakespeare.

    Generational expectations

    As I mentioned, my brother is moving here and has been staying with me while he searches for an apartment for himself and soon-to-be wife, Ricer. The biggest challenge for the two of them is probably resetting their expectations given that he and his roommate shared a two bedroom, two bath apartment for $995. That ain't going to happen here, not unless he wants to commute from suburban fringes.

    They plan to rent a one bedroom. Knowing he stays up late on this computer, I asked him where he'd put it. He acknowledged that it would have to go in the living room since it would be disruptive to have it in the bedroom. I gave him a hypothetical situation of Ricer and her sister having friends over and preventing him from using the living room. He said he's just deal with it and could always temporarily use his laptop. I guess they're really trying to save money and don't think they need much space.

    He started looking at places last weekend. I encouraged him to view this one bedroom apartment in a fairly desirable town. I think it was $1150/month for an apartment that included a carport space and free laundry. His verdict was that the place was okay but old. Using our late 1970s house kitchen decor as reference, he complained that this place was worse and didn't have a dishwasher. (He said they probably won't cook much so what's the dishwasher for?) I explained to him that many of the places my friends rent have kitchens that are from the 1950s or 60s. They look a little old, but everything is clean and working. I cautioned that he might need to spend more if they wanted something more modern.

    Earlier this week, I spotted what I thought might be suitable for their needs. It was a two bedroom, one bath, townhouse-style apartment for $1295/month. He made an appointment to see it during his lunch hour. The apartment had new tile flooring and granite kitchen counters. It also had the dishwasher he wanted. The only major minus was that the reserved parking spot was not covered. Plus all his neighbors would be similar in careers so they might make for good friends and connections for future jobs.

    When I asked him about it that evening, he said he has submitted his application and credit card for the place. After talking with Ricer, however, he cancelled his application. I was surprised and asked why. He said they agreed that they didn't need the second bedroom because "what would we do with it." For the price, I reasoned that it was a good deal and would give them more separation of space, like having a computer/study room. I pointed out that a decent one bedroom would likely cost them $1150 and how $150 more a month was a small price for some extra elbow room. He acknowledged my point but shrugged it off becuase they don't need that much space.

    I let it go at that point. Both my brother and I hate my mom's nagging, so I try not to act like her. My point was made and that's all I can do. I'm also a big believer that the best way to learn, unfortunately, is to make mistakes. It's not like their poor or fresh out of school. My brother has a very decent income. Maybe they'll be fine, maybe they'll realize they need a second room and will move to a bigger apartment next year. Then again, it could be that I use too much space. (My global footprint is way big - the average for the US is not acceptable [to me].)

    I recounted this to several of my friends. They're either over 30 or married. Every one of them reacted with a "what?!!!" We all agreed that the extra bit of money was worth it. Maybe we're all spoiled, too independent, jaded, or older and wiser. I thought it was interesting that all my friends had the exact same reaction and rationale as me. My brother and Ricer are in their mid to later 20s. As a young couple and probably more optimistic and flexible at that age. I know it's very possible to live in a one bedroom, but why if you can afford a little more? (Note, the average square footage for an American family of four used to be 1200 sq. ft. Now, it's closer to 2200 sq. ft. The fact is we spend more time inside the home thanks to things like television and computers.)

    My brother did reserve an apartment recently. It's a one bedroom with new tile flooring, new kitchen and bath. It has a dishwasher and covered parking space. The rent will be $1075/month - not bad. I reserve judgment for when I see it to decide whether it's a good deal. The neighborhood is one of the border areas. Saving $220 each month, I admit, verges on going with the cheaper, one bedroom place.

    Thursday, August 10, 2006

    The next evolution in online dating

    My brother has come to stay with me while he searches for an apartment. He has moved north for a new job which means he'll now be living (at most) within 20 miles of me. It's been nice to have him around. I'm sure my parents are a bit sad to have neither kid within a couple hours drive of them. The clutter is a bit much in, but then he also has to live with mine. I tried to spend some time this past weekend cleaning up the place to make space for him and took him around a few neighborhoods to help with his apartment hunt.

    On Saturday afternoon, I joined up with the birthday picnic group. There is a winery up in the hills that has picnic tables and great views of the bay. They don't charge for use of the tables. We enjoyed cheeses and fruits before wine tasting. After that, we had a tasty spread of salads from Whole Foods and some mozzarella-veggie and salami sandwiches. It was a lovely and mellow afternoon.

    Once the married couple left, the single woman chatter began. Everyone was a target for dating gossip. Somehow, Chi shined the spotlight on me for an extended period of time. She gave me grief about telling her I deleted all of my online profiles. Why do I let myself get tangled up in these conversations?

    This conversation detoured towards how much time some people invest in online dating profiles. I definitely think it's worth investing some thought and maybe a couple hours, but it sounded like gals in the group knew people, men and women, who spent weeks constructing their ideal profile. In other cases, friends have been in control. One example is a guy Chi recently met. During a ski trip, his buddies went online and filled out his personality profile. They then took his credit card and signed him up for a year's subscription to the dating site. I wonder how much this happens? The gals joked that it's all about the marketing. (Whereas I'm of the perspective - just the facts.)

    After getting nowhere with trying to convince me to keep a profile floating out there, Chi took the next step. She suggested we sit down and work together on my online profile. Her sister had reviewed her photos and helped edit a description of herself. Because I mentioned my disappointment in receiving few (interesting) e-mails she thought that maybe we could improve my writing or photos.

    Chi's offering blossomed into this idea in my head. (And if any online dating site uses my idea I do ask compensation in the form of a lifetime free membership plus a small royalty. ;) ) gets others involved by asking them to identify prospective matches and serve as intermediary. I propose a different dating format. I say leave the standard format like the mainstream sites like In addition to a master account, I think it would be a cool feature to have a secondary login ID that could be given to friends so they could be involved.

    In the master account, the dater can customize settings and control which elements of the process the friends can view. For example, building on Chi's idea, a person could allow friends to view their profile and make editing suggestions. I think it would also be nice for friends to be able to view a list of the people the dater is interested in or communicating with. They couldn't see actual communications per se, but they could view the candidates' profiles. Then maybe they could give a rating of thumbs up or down for compatibility. Friends could not contact people they considered good matches for the friend but could add a candidate to a suggestion list. This might be a helpful tool. Like the idea?

    Anyhow, not having that, I'm left thinking about Chi's offer. I half jokingly told her that if she could convince C3 and Hula to join us, I would allow them to help craft my profile. She said that she'd set something up when I'm ready. ( Yeah, if she waits until *I'm* ready, she'll be waiting a looooong time.)

    I mentioned this idea of putting together my dating profile to Hula the other day, and she loved it. She said it makes total sense since I tend to be overly critical of myself, and that it might do some good to have other people point out what great attributes I have to offer. Hula then excitedly asked if that meant they could also contact men for me. I quickly squashed that idea. It's probably true that I consider myself boring. My therapist also commented that I appear quite interesting and active - dancing, hiking/camping, shopping, painting, cooking, woodworking, blogging. Somehow, to me, it seems so tame and run-of-the-mill compared what some of my other friends do on a weekly basis.

    We'll see... I'm just so tired of dating. And honestly, sure I'm great with my friends, but it's incredibly hard to get past the initial shyness and challenge of getting to know people. I doubt the first impression I project to people matches me more than 50%.

    I haven't heard from Biker either... oh well... so be it.

    Tuesday, August 08, 2006

    10 Men That Make Dating Mistakes

    I came across this piece about guys and their lame behaviors - 10 Men That Make Dating Mistakes . Reading this and seeing a rerun of the movie "Someone Like You" made me think about something else men (and women) do that I don't understand.

    In a scene during the movie, Ray tries to talk with Jane while she types busily on her computer. The increasing pressure with which she hits the keys and speed of her typing reflect the inverse relationship between her anger and his distance from her. He approaches apprehensively, as if she will pounce and claw him like a feline hunter. He extends out his arm offering a little white paper bag that holds a perfectly toasted bagel (which I presume was her favorite breakfast) and speaks in the gentlest voice.

    Without looking at him, she takes the bag, swing her arm out to the side, and immediately drops the bagel bag into the trash. She rejects every attempt Ray makes to engage her in friendly conversation. Jane is all business. The viewer knows that she is angry and hurt because he abandon her just before they were to move in together.

    This scene caused me to flashback to a moment with Ryan. We had just broken up the prior weekend. He came by to talk and return some of my kitchen containers. In an attempt to lighten the mood, he handed me one container at a time with a tentative smile, pretending his backpack was a magic sack or something. On the fourth reach into his backpack, he pulled out a miniature set of bowling pins and bowling ball. (I had always wanted us to go bowling down the street but we never did.) I unemotionally thanked him and set the gift aside. I was so hurt and confused by his behavior. That last thing I need is another object that reminds me of you. What was he thinking trying to give me a small gift when the damage was done?

    I know women do this too, but I don't think we do it for the same reasons. Women may do it as a last attempt to win guys back (which rarely works right?). What are guys thinking when they make these gestures? Unexpected gifts and loving little gestures are the sweetest things a guy can do when you're dating. It shows they're thinking of you and remember things you've said. But once the guy has broken your heart, why still make the effort? Is this a cowardly way of saying "I'm sorry" or is it some desperate attempt to make you like them even though you both know it's over? Does accepting the gift somehow help them with their guilt? Don't they realize these gestures are like adding salt to the wound?

    I still have the bowling set. It sits on a bookshelf, collecting dust, next to some CDs I rarely listen to. I don't have the heart to throw away a perfectly good, unopened toy. I just keep forgetting to donate it away.

    Monday, August 07, 2006


    I suppose I knew it would come eventually. [unclench fingers, breathe] I just didn't think I'd find it so annoyinggggggg. It's like seeing a hairy, fat, man naked.

    "Hi P,
    How are things going? How was the camping trip on the [island]. The bike ride was ok, though I found out one of my gear shifters is malfunctioning. I'm planning to do a camping/white water rafting trip in a couple of weeks myself.
    Hope all is well.


    What am I supposed to say to this lamehead? Why bother keeping in touch with me? Can I envision wanting to waste future time with this person? Am I overreacting? (I'll have to look at my e-mails to other people and see if I write such bland stuff.) I feel like I have to be polite and respond but there's just nothing to say to this guy. How can I respect him after what happened? At least he didn't ask about my friends... . ;P

    Being social in dance

    Hula and I have been taking swing lessons the past month. We started a new series last week. Even though we have seen the same faces once a week, it's still a challenge to learn everyone's names. The men would probably say the same thing, so there's no hard feelings for asking.

    While I love dancing, standing like a wallflower, waiting for someone to ask you to dance can be excrutiating. There are some people who never or rarely ask me to dance whom I've enjoyed dancing with in the past. I can't help wonder why. I've been going swing dancing long enough to not take it too personally; it's just dancing after all. Still, I want to know what I could do better to entice the more interesting people to approach me. This would be good not only for dancing social etiquette but with meeting people in general.

    Maybe it's imaginary, but I feel like many of my friends are more desirable dance partners. Hula is a cute, semi-petite in height, and thin woman who dances well. When I observe her at a distance, she's either dancing or talking with some guy. Her friendly smile and gentle voice probably make a huge difference in helping the guy feel at ease.

    On the other hand, I dance with guys, but rarely hold any conversations with them. Is it me or them? What is it about me that seems so unattractive. I'm not as cute or as feminine as Hula, but I'm not ugly. Do I have body language that says "leave me alone" or "what do you want?" I try to smile, stand with good posture, and keep my arms in an open position, but can't seem to catch the attention of the decent dancers. There's always someone else they want to grab. We all have to dance with the beginners and awkward guys, and I do my part. But why then can't I have a small share of the good ones too?

    Once or twice I've thought about making conversation with a guy after dancing. Frankly, I have no idea what to say. I just suck at interesting small talk (i.e. going beyond coming to dance, jobs, and where people live). How do I know when a guy wants to chat or walk away and dance with someone new?

    For those not familiar with swing dancing, the environment is different than say, salsa dancing. People don't drink any alcohol; we drink lots of water. Most people who swing dance do it for the pure art and enjoyment. It's not really a pick-up scene (though, of course, some people do hook up). The crowd is very friendly. A salsa person came to watch once and commented (disappointingly) that it's "clean, wholesome dancing." For the most part, it's probably a fair observation (compared to salsa), but when the music is right, you'll see some pretty sexy movements.

    Sunday, August 06, 2006

    Wanting... something

    I finally borrowed the movie Saving Face over the weekend. Everyone who has seen it enjoyed it. Finding and watching films that successfully weave American and Asian culture is a rare thing (though happily, hopefully happening more often with the growing number of Asian filmmakers).

    At the start of the movie, I could not have predicted how much emotion it would stir inside me. The very first awkward piece of the movie with the person who played Vivian. She reminded me of Ryan's wife, Vi. I've only ever seen her in photos, like from their wedding. I wouldn't say Vi's as pretty (I really don't know), but there something in the eyes that made it feel like I was looking at her throughout the movie. It was disturbing, as if I was cruelly being taunted. I hate being reminded of Ryan, what I helped him accomplish, and how I ended up with nothing.

    Tim and my brother watched the movie with me. In hindsight, I don't know that watching a movie about a lesbian Asian couple with two guys is the best company. It was interesting, though, to ask them who they considered cuter - Wil or Vivian. The guys agreed that it was difficult to choose. When I proposed Vivian as the hotter choice, my brother observed that she has a sexier look but that Wil's looks offered a different attractiveness that was just as appealing. I thought it reassuring and hopeful that guys see more than just the sultry, sexy looks. (And Joan Chen looks incredible as always.)

    Alice Wu did a wonderful job capturing the little details and attitudes of Asian-American culture. While I identify with everything I saw, the true skill of writers is being able to identify these seemingly minor actions and demonstrate how they shape who we are. There's an "oh yeah" in my head every movie. My communications skills need some development.

    The movie also highlighted the intimacy I miss in my life. Wil's discomfort and inability to fully engage feels a little like me. Her reasons are different than mine, but result is the same. I fail to take risks or ask questions and then don't develop better relationships with friends. My heart ached at the sight of the two of them happily laying on the floor, Vivian patting Wil's stomach. I want to be in that place again where I get to hole up with a man I love and talk about simple things. I don't know that I have it in me anymore. Thank goodness the guys ignore me when I cried during the movie. Why can't I enjoy a movie without thinking about myself?

    Tim made silly ooos and woos during the topless scene. He had jokingly asked earlier whether there'd be any nude, cute women in the movie. He got what he wanted. Is it odd to watch a lesbian love scene with two guys, especially you're little brother? ;)

    The other aspect of the movie that was touching was the mother/daughter relationship. It began as the typical, difficult relationship balancing traditional Chinese expectations with the society in which we second-generation live. I appreciated the breakthrough moment when Wil realizes that she must adjust her approach to preparing her mother for a date. In the end, some truths emerge and they build some understanding of each other.

    My own relationship with my mom is strained. We're still in this struggle to become something more than the mom who tells me what to do, seeks me out to voice her complaints and concerns, and thinks that she knows better how I my life should be. I am the impatient and ambivalent oldest child who dreads spending more than a couple days with mom because there is no way to please her. I wish there was a way we could help each other respect the lives we lead and be supportive. My family does not have an innate talent for interpersonal communication. If a class ever appears on how to characterize people and the best way to interact with them, I'll be one of the first to sign up. How much better would my life be if I felt like I had better harmony in my family?

    Mostly, I just wanted to talk about how much my heart got tugged around by this movie. Maybe it's just me, I get emotional easily when it comes to movies.

    Friday, August 04, 2006

    Ho hum blah

    I'm feeling restless, bored, anti-social, resigned, and anxious today... I have plenty of opportunities to go out this weekend - birthday picnic at a winery, rock climbing, salsa concert in a park. I should go to be social and forget about all my stupid, negative thoughts, but I don't want to. Cleaning the patio and reading magazines seems so much more appealing.

    To leave on a happier, fun note today, watch this video clip if you like pandas. :)

    Thursday, August 03, 2006

    Lackluster e-mailing

    I am on the East Coast for a quick trip. Gosh, these heat waves are u-g-l-y. It's already 80-something degrees. And why is the hotel room thermostat set to 65F? It's a waste of electricity and too damn cold. Thank goodness I can dress casually for the meeting. I made sure to bring a thin, loose t-shirt.

    What is it with me and men who can't carry e-mail conversations? Is this going to be the case with all 35+ single men I meet?

    Last week, I told Biker that I'm busy through the end of this week. He replied several days later making a clever attempt to guess the origins of my e-mail address. It was a short e-mail.

    I wrote back a couple days later saying it was a nice attempt but not the reason for my e-mail ID.

    Yesterday, some five or six days later:

    "Hey, P -

    Actually, it turns out my week this week is also pretty full. Yes, next week will be much better. I’ll ping you after Tuesday to see how your week is shaping up.


    Are we simply in a bit rut of mirroring each other's behavior? Not even a "have a good weekend." Arghhh, well, I shouldn't be surprised. As I said from the speed dating, it was a so-so conversation. It started slow, so this just kind of comfirms it. He's going to wait almost a week to e-mail me? I can't meet in person, that doesn't mean I don't have time to exchange a question or two as a warm up.

    Okay, okay, I'll let it go. I'm getting all worked up now... maybe I need to buy some Midol.

    Wednesday, August 02, 2006

    More thinking about Tim

    Lately, I've been rethinking my situation with Tim. Perhaps it's my age; perhaps it's the recent weddings; perhaps it's the questioning from my girlfriends; maybe it's my monthly hormone cycle. Whatever the reason, I've been casually revisiting the idea of us dating.

    If we don't talk to each other for a couple days, we usually call each other. I can get fussy if I don't hear from him. I still have a message on my answering machine from last week when he called late saying he was calling because we hadn't not been able to chat for a few days and wanted to say hi. For two friends, I suppose this does sound unusual. (I've become a little dependent.)

    As far as I know, Tim likes to spend time with me. Unless work deadlines are looming, it's not hard to give him a reason to hang out at my place. We usually watch something be it a recording of a tv show episode or a DVD movie. Now that I think about it, we never go anywhere unless it's with a group. Maybe we've gotten too comfortable.

    Many people have commented about how well the two of us get along. I'd like to believe that, but sometimes I think it's just Tim. He could get along with anyone. He's a very laid back and happy guy. Why doesn't anyone realize how much at odds the two of us would be about spending money and disciplining kids? Day to day, we get along great, but in the back of our minds, I think we know there'd be some big differences with which to contend.

    I don't like to get into all details with my friends. That doesn't seem fair to Tim since they seem him regularly. I also am not sure how much would get back to him that I'd prefer to tell him myself.

    When people ask me what the issue is with not dating Tim, it comes down to one thing, not being physically attracted to him. He's cute and could be more fit in the gut if he stopped eating M&Ms every day. ;) I love holding his hand, giving him a hug, giving him a kiss on the check, and running my hands through his hair. It's all good, but it stops there. Even when we dated, the attraction was not a strong as I would have liked it to be. Chi once suggested that some people need time to develop a physical attraction. Wouldn't it have developed after two years?

    I can look at anyone and say they good or bad looking, but that doesn't mean *I'm* attracted to them. I made the mistake of telling people I didn't like Tim because he's not Chinese and got a lot of criticism. What I meant is that I'm attracted to a certain Asian body type. That's my preference, it's not meant to be racist. It's probably one of those expectations that got instilled in me as a kids by my parents. Something that's hard to separate from my identity.

    This is why I've been thinking about marriage lately. There are so many perspectives from which to assess marriage - practical, romantic, religious, financial, etc. Each analysis results in a different conclusion.

    Am I missing out on a great guy because of a programmed preference that is seemingly mostly superficial? Romantically speaking, the attraction is lacking, but it's compensated by the thoughtful actions he takes to make me happy. His tenderness and attention is something I've rarely found in a man. Practically speaking, we get along. His patience is an important because of my single-mindedness. He corrects me in some of my bad habits, but in a gentle manner I can appreciate. My mini-eight ball says the prospects are good... .

    On the other hand, his sense of humor is... different for me. His timing is not always the best, and I get annoyed with him. I also don't like how he sometimes avoids a more serious question with an answer that is flippant or joking. For whatever reason, I cannot accept his level of ambition. While he has a good job, I don't think he's respected. He's too nice and his voice is somewhat kid-like. I fear that we'd both get taken advantage in financial situations like bargaining or buying a house. I'm not that strong when it comes to negotiating skills and want someone who can look out for me.

    Combining gut instinct with my level of confusion leads me to the conclusion that it's not worth renewing any pursuit of dating Tim. I just don't see it. There are times when I want to try despite my reservations, but why ruin a good friendship? This is when I question whether I want to try simply because I'm lonely and want to be with someone. He's close to the "right" person, and yet he's not quite it. I can't imagine finding anyone with whom I could feel as comfortable and content. But apparently I'm willing to trade that for something I think I want more - whatever that will be.

    Sometimes I feel like fate is playing a mean trick. They gave me Ryan. He was perfect on the outside - Chinese, successful, boyish charm, handsome, intelligent, similar interests. Inside, he was somewhat pretentious, aloof, impatient, and unwilling/unable to reach out. In contrast, I met Tim. The outside never indicated compatibility to me, and yet he had all the heart I have wanted. What lesson am I supposed to learn here?

    Even if I did pursue dating Tim again, there are some issues:

    1) He wouldn't believe my sincerity.
    2) He'd think I was settling for him because I want to get married.
    3) He'd hold it over my head forever - conveyed through joking comments that would eventually upset me.

    You can't blame him. He has every right to question my motives.


    I got a little moody and affectionate the other night. While he was reading a news magazine on the floor, I sat on top of his back and wrapped my arms around him. I gave him a loving hug, peeked my head around his, and said, "hi," in the cutest way. I did this a couple times. Though he liked it, he ignored me and continued to read. I'm sure he was wondering what I was thinking. Later, while I was washing the dishes, he came over, stood behind me, and wrapped his arms around my waist, and held me close. I love that.

    Then, we folded laundry and this conversation developed.

    T: "Which dating sites is Chi using to meet people?"

    P: "Why do you want to know? Planning to get on there yourself?"

    T: "No, just curious. Is it Hrmny or Match?"

    P: "I don't want to say. Is doesn't really matter"

    T: "Sure it does. With Hrmny, you just sit back and wait for them to send you people. If you are on Match, then you have take all the extra time to sift through people and figure out whether you're interested in them."

    P: "How about we go on a date?"

    T: "What? No. You don't want to go on a date with me."

    P: "Maybe I do."

    T: "You already have. It didn't work out."

    P: "Would you like to go on a date with me?"

    T: [brief pause, he was probably wondering if I was joking around] "No, it wouldn't last. You don't want me."

    P: "I just said I wanted to go on a date."

    T: "It wouldn't last."

    Granted, the conversation was more playful than serious. This was probably the first time I had really pushed the matter in a long time. I think he found it a little odd and wasn't sure what how to interpret my motives.

    From my perspective, his stubborness makes me think he's serious. (Yes, there's a chance he's just saying what he thinks I need to hear.) I don't think there's any reason to think I should continue to consider the matter. I feel a little sad about it. This is where, however, I start overanalyzing myself. Am I sad because I really DO want to be with him? Or am I sad that I am no longer the center of his attention?

    It's easy for me and my friends to question whether or not something will or should happen between Tim and I. The fact is, none of us know what Tim wants. A lot of time has passed. The emotions he had for me have been temptered by time and getting to know me better. (There's another thing I fear, men not liking me once they know me better.) My friends all think that he still loves me but doesn't want to admit it because of my feelings. However, my impression leans more towards what I said before, that Tim is no longer interested.

    I'm so lost...

    Tuesday, August 01, 2006

    What about Tim

    A conversation in the car from another day...

    Tim: Sh offered to come over and give me new light bulbs.

    P: Why?

    Tim: [sarcastic] I told her I like it bright, so I have powerful halogen lamps in my apartment.

    P: You mean she offered to buy you new bulbs.

    Tim: No, she already has them.

    P: She's funny. Ig finds her too intense sometimes.

    Tim: That's why he wouldn't date her?

    P: Yeah, I think she's a little too extreme in her environmental ways for him sometimes.

    Tim: Ah, so he's wants a more laid back relationship.

    P: Yeah, I guess you could say that. It is his personality. How come you don't ask her out?

    Tim: [shrug shoulders] She's nice, but I'm not interested.

    P: Why?

    Tim: She's not my type.

    P: What do you mean? Explain.

    Tim: We don't have anything in common.

    P: No? [He shakes his head.] So then what are you looking for?

    Tim: Well... someone who's cute, laid back, and adventurous. Someone who's willing to try things.

    P: Oh, okay. What about me? I'm adventurous.

    Tim: Kind of. We don't have that much in common.

    P: But we dated?

    Tim: Yeah, but it wouldn't have lasted.

    P: We like to do things together - watch movies, play games, go camping.

    Tim: Yeah, everyone likes to watch movies. We go camping like, once a year.


    Tim: I want to buy a condo. How much do you think I need for a down payment?

    P: Really, you don't need any. I suppose 10% would be good.

    Tim: Okay. Lend me some money.

    P: Nope, you gotta marry me. Then, I'll share my money.

    Tim: Aw, come on, give me some money so I can buy a place.

    P: I'm only giving that kind of money to the man I marry.

    Tim: But you won't marry me.

    P: You just said we have nothing in common.

    Tim and I have these half-joking conversations maybe once a month. As time has passed, I have a hard time knowing how seriously to take him. He can be a rather goofy and joking person. When I test his feelings about me, I believe he's telling me the truth - that he cares for me but does not love me. Occasionally, I doubt him, but that is becoming less the case as time moves forward.

    In the first six months after we stopped dating, he would have jumped at a second chance for us. It's now been more than a year and a half since then. We have settled into a comfortable and close friendship. We see each other 2-3 times a week. We probably talk 5-6 days a week (counting 30 second phone calls). There is no one else with whom I spend that much time. In comparison, maybe I see a few of my girlfriends two days in the same week and exchange an e-mail with them.

    We treat each other well. If I have a problem, he'll help trouble shoot. He helped setup my new computer and bought me an external hard drive, the pretty blue one I wanted. He'll order episodes of Gilmore Girls using his Netflix account. If he's around and I feel like cooking, I make dinner for two. He also visits because I let him use my laundry (nothing like having your own washer and dryer). I know it sounds rather domestic. This doesn't happen all the time, maybe every other week.

    And yet, though my feelings for him are strong, they are not enough to want to date him. I enjoy his company regardless of what we're doing - playing PS2 games, watching movies, cooking, hiking, dancing. People don't trust their gut enough. Mine is telling me that there's something amiss. Some might say I'm afraid to be happy. Perhaps others would say that I'm being too picky. I worry I'm too afraid of getting hurt again. Even my therapist doesn't know what to make of the situation.

    The recent press surrounding Oprah and her good friend is a good example of people jumping to conclusions. Today's American culture is suspicious whenever two people spend an extraordinary amount of time together (and are comfortable being in each other's personal space). Meanwhile, in other places like Europe and Asia, there are many cases where you will see girls holding hands, walking arm-in-arm, and boys sharing beds. There's nothing sexual or intimate about it - it's simply an expression of friendship.

    Because Tim and I once dated and because we are a male and female, everyone thinks there must be something going on. I must admit I once thought the same thing of Ig and Sh, but I never said anything. That's their business. For whatever reason, however, everyone seems to think my relationship with Tim IS their business.

    Sometimes I wonder what my friends say about me behind my back. When girlfriends catch me alone, the subject of Tim often comes up. It's happened recently with both Hula and C3. I wonder if they talk about it with each other first and then tag team me.

    It's impossible to describe my feelings about Tim. I admit it's hazy some days. My writing reflects my confusion (I make only some attempt at logic and proper writing structure).

    to be continued...