Ok, Cupid, I’ll Give It a Try

Let’s talk about dating – a topic that I have managed to avoid on the blog so far.  It’s probably related to the fact that I am barely dating at all.  But I have tried (a little) and have come to the conclusion that there are no normal, single men in Chicago.  None!

I did have a crush on someone quite a while back, but of course that went nowhere because he was kind of dating (and later officially dating) someone else.  I made it very clear I was interested.  This means, I told everyone in my office that I had a crush on him, and we would all giggle when his name came up in conversation.  Isn’t that what normal 28 year olds do?  Wait, only 7th grade girls?  Damn.  I’m totally out of moves.

Since I wasn’t meeting many single guys on my own, I turned to online dating.  A part of me finds sites like OkCupid and Match.com absolutely terrifying, but I felt like I didn’t have much choice.  I did peruse OkCupid for a short time when I was living in Mississippi.  Almost every profile I read professed a deep love of ‘huntin’ and ‘muddin’, and although I love a pick up truck as much as the next girl, I felt that the available pool of men were not really for me.

              

Fast forward to last fall.  I updated my OkCupid location and started window shopping for a boyfriend. I was actually excited.  I was reading profiles of guys who liked art and theater and other creative pursuits.  They had interesting movie and music preferences and were able to sound witty and charming in their profile – I think an online dating profile is the most difficult medium a writer can tackle.  And only a handful mentioned killing animals for fun!  I was so, very optimistic.

It took me only a few dates to become as jaded and cynical as everyone else.  Here’s why:

Guy # 1:   We planned to meet for drinks, but the time kept getting pushed back because of his other plans.  By the time we met, it was 11 p.m.  (I had literally lived in Chicago for only a few weeks at this point, and I was more than a little nervous about setting out by myself so late.)  I texted a few friends to let them know I was going on a blind date, and what this guy’s profile name was in case I disappeared suddenly.  (I have done this on all subsequent dates.  If I go missing, I want to make sure the police will have a good lead – DUH!)

Conversation with this guy was going ok UNTIL the guy asked me if I did any improv

ME:  No, I prefer working on full length plays.

HIM:  Well, you will. This is Chicago.

Excuse me, but please don’t tell me what I will or won’t like.  Once the improv door was open, he admitted that he had a sketch comedy show with some his of friends all about their experiences with online dating.  We started talking about the bad dates he had gone on (I, of course, had none to speak of since this was my first ‘online’ date ever).  If you are ever on a first date and this subject comes up, CHANGE THE SUBJECT IMMEDIATELY.  I promise, you will learn nothing but horrifying things about this other person.  The date was so-so, but the guy kinda went a little cuckoo when I told him texted him that I wasn’t interested in a second date.  He sent a few more dramatic texts saying I should have told him I didn’t find him attractive instead of saying I might be up for a second date.  Kind of a drama queen.  I can’t help but wonder if our date has made it into his sketch show.

Guy #2:  We met for drinks.  We had plans, then he cancelled the plans because ‘a friend of his was really bummed and needed him’ only to text me an hour later asking if I was still up for meeting.  Those sketchy circumstances aside, I actually had a good time.  Conversation wasn’t awkward (the drinks helped) and the guy seemed to be pretty normal.  Attractive, funny, and he seemed to like me.  There was even a goodnight kiss involved.  Then, I experienced the fade away.  He just disappeared, never to text or message again.   (You should follow the link to a very funny dating blog called Stupid Cupid.  These ladies are hilarious and understand the pitfalls of OKcupid)  If you’re keeping score, I’m 0 for 2.

Guy #3:  This time I met the guy for dinner.  We messaged a few times before our date and realized that we lived on the same street.  He literally lived four houses down from my apartment building.  I almost cancelled when I found this out.  What if it was absolutely terrible and I kept running into him in the neighborhood?!?  But I got over that anxiety and went anyway.

The date wasn’t so bad, and it really helped that this guy was tall and very cute.  He was a little strange, but his good looks were making up for it.  The strangest part of the evening was when he admitted to taking classes at Second City NOT because he was interested in improv but to improve his social skills.  (huh?)  Then, he wanted to play improv games at the dinner table.  (I actually agreed to attempt this with him.  In case you couldn’t guess, the game was a disaster.)  That WAS the strangest part UNTIL…

When the meal was over, Guy 3 reaches in his pocket and says, “I brought something for the occasion.”  I was petrified.  What is in his pocket?  Why is he making sudden movements?  Is this guy the OKcupid killer?  Then, he pulled out a Chat Pack.  What’s a Chat Pack, you say?

It is a deck of conversation starters.  Ideal for car trips and classroom activities.  Here are a few sample questions from the manufacturer:

* If you could have any book instantly memorized cover to cover, which book would you choose?
* Of all the movie characters you have seen, which one do you believe is most like you?
* Which of the 12 months do you think would best describe your personality?

Basically, this guy needed a cheat sheet to have a conversation.  I was so relieved that nothing illegal came out of his pocket, I agreed to ‘chat pack’ conversation.  It wasn’t SO bad, but the conversation had been going fine!  Why did we need help?

I actually ended up going out with this guy a few more times (did I mention that he was really tall and good looking and lived just down the street?).  But of course, we had hardly anything in common and he was just as strange on later dates (but without the chat pack).  I haven’t seen him in months because he moved to go to medical school.

After these and few other OKC dates, I swore it off for a while.  I kept logging on and looking at profiles, but I didn’t actually want to read any of them.  It was so much work.  Not to mention, it was a little depressing signing on to receive boring, disgusting or no messages at all.  So, I took a break.

Until recently… please stay tuned for part 2 of online dating adventures.

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I Know My Chicago Geography

So, I’m watching an episode of Criminal Minds (don’t get me started on my obsession with Dr. Spencer Reid), and this week the BAU find themselves in Chicago.  Hey!  This should be fun.  (If by fun you mean the episode will scare me even more than normal because it is supposedly taking place in my backyard.)

One of the scenes takes place at an intersection.  A crazy, brain-washed teenager barricades himself in his car in the middle of traffic (because that’s the kind of thing that happens on Criminal Minds).  A police officer then radios for assistance and gives his location at ‘Ashland and Division’.  I know that intersection!!  I used to live one block from there.  I know what it looks like.  And that intersection does not look like this.  I took notice of some of the shops when the BAU showed up at the crime scene (oh yeah, I forgot to mention that the kid blows up the car he’s in).  I definitely saw a fancy bistro.  You can’t fool me you fancy television show!  The fanciest thing at that intersection would be a toss up between the crappy Mexican restaurant or the identical mexican restaurant across the street.  (Literally across the street and have the same name.)

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Mexican restaurant number 1

It’s so nice to feel like I know an area.  It’s only taken me a year!  I also recently found myself in a restaurant that where I ate on my first day in Chicago.  I was with my dear friend (who had strep throat and felt awful) and I had no idea where we were.  It wasn’t until I walked in that I realized it was the same place.  I got oddly excited about it and told my friends:

“Hey, I’ve eaten here before.  It was my first day in Chicago and I had just taken my friend to a walk-in clinic because she was sick as a dog.  It took us forever to find parking!”

My friends didn’t really understand why I was so excited.  I didn’t really know why I was so excited.  But I think it’s because places are becoming more familiar.  Of course, this isn’t the first time I’ve ever recognized a place (I’ve been here over a year after all) – just maybe the first time I was so aware of it.  Or maybe it was because I had been so completely lost and turned around the first time I visited.  Either way, it feels really nice knowing my way around (kinda sorta).

Grumpy Bear Gets it Right

Even as a small child, my favorite Care Bear was Grumpy.  I am not making this up.  Three year old me knew that no place could be smiles and hugs all the damn time – even the land of Care-A-Lot.  Funshine Bear and Lots-A-Heart must have been delusional.  Grumpy knew how to keep it real.  Sometimes your day gets real shitty, and no amount of Care Bear staring is going to snap you out of it.  Like today.  Today has just been bad.  Not tragic or horrible, but just really crappy.  So in honor of Grumpy Bear, this post is going to keep it real because I just don’t have anything positive to say right now.

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So, maybe I brought a little bit of this on myself because I stayed up late watching Scandal.  My sister has me hooked on Scandal and I just had to keep watching last night.  When I finally got into bed around 12:30, I was still too worked up to sleep.  Olivia Pope (character in Scandal) can not have any more bad things happen to her.  Give her a break Shonda Rhimes!!  But keep Jake Ballard around because he is smoking hot.

Anywho, the kids I teach were a little crazy this morning.  Is it a full moon?  Ok, so maybe it’s my own fault for not having a great amount of sleep, but c’mon on kids.  Get with the program!  I am trying to enrich your lives by teaching you drama and theatrical elements, so can’t you just pay attention?

Then, at lunch, I had to call my psychiatrist (too personal?) about making an appointment and the receptionist was SOO RUDE.  Towards the end of the phone call he apologized (kind of) but his meanness really got to me.  I tried to tell myself logically that it was nothing personal, but the whole exchange really affected my afternoon.  Also, if you are dealing with patients who might be dealing with depression or anxiety, I’m not sure being mean and curt is the best approach.

Afternoon classes happened, and I brilliantly decided to do a small craft with my Kindergarten, first, and second graders.  We were making puppets, and we made such a mess.   The construction paper!  The glue sticks!  I was unprepared for the vast spectrum of kindergarten scissor skills.  Some have brilliant fine motor skills while some are lucky if the connect the scissors with the paper.  I was happy when the day was over.

Except that the day wasn’t really over.  Now I’m sitting in a Starbucks to pass the time because I have a rehearsal for a children’s show tonight.  I got this gig a few months ago.  The director dropped out and they needed a replacement who had experience with kids and … Voila!  Here I am.  The money from this job is going to really help out with all of the new job/new income transitions.  HOWEVER, the script is not my favorite (subtext: kinda bad).  This makes it very hard to be excited about rehearsal, especially when I’ve been teaching all day.   Is it too early for bed?  I’m ready for this day to be over.

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For My Next Trick…

I’ve been busy, busy, busy!  Lots of people are busy – I know this to be true.  And I promise I am not claiming to be the busiest person out there, not by a long shot.  And I’m not complaining, some exciting new things are happening for me.

The exciting news: I got a new job!!  This job is fantastic and absolutely perfect for me.  I’m working at a children’s theatre in their Education department.  This job is basically everything I’ve been looking for since moving to Chicago.  And I’ll still have opportunities to teach!!

The complication: the job is only part-time (for now).  And since not-for-profit theatres are not known for an abundance of funding, my new pay is not going to equal what I’m getting paid to teach part-time at the elementary school.

My solution: I worked it out so that I could start working for the theatre and still work for the school until Christmas break.  This way for a short time I’ll be earning both incomes.  Not to mention I can still baby-sit to make a little extra cash.

Oh, and by the way: before I got the new job, I was hired to direct a children’s show in the burbs.  Rehearsals start in two weeks and go until February.  It’s great since it’s more extra money – but not the best timing in the world.

So, in case you are keeping count, here’s what the past month has looked like: teach elementary school drama part-time, learn a new (dream) job part-time, go to a baby-sitting job, work the occasional box office shift on the weekends, spend time fretting over money, watch multiple episodes of Scandal to distract from money worries, try to keep my fridge stocked, go to another baby-sitting job, determine how long I can put off laundry by the amount of clean underwear in my drawer, try to beat level 197 in Candy Crush, have auditions for children’s show, call my mom and assure her I’m still alive and well, make plans to see a friend, read Divergent and Insurgent, cursed myself for staying up too late to read Young Adult fiction, regret plans with the friend because I’m exhausted, go to one more baby-sitting job, and thank my friend for making me go out even though I’m ready to sleep by 11 o’clock.

Maybe you don’t think that sounds like too much.  Or maybe you are judging me for having priorities like watching Scandal and playing Candy Crush (it’s all about a balanced life, people).  Maybe I’m just whining because my natural state is one of complete laziness.  Whatever the case, this past month has turned me to be a master juggler.  I have a variety of different items moving swiftly through the air, never falling or colliding.  The epitome of time management.  I even made a visual aid. (Thank you clip art)

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But not too busy to make this image in Paint!

If I’m being honest, I’m not able to manage everything.  I’ve certainly let a few things slide.  I occasionally choose to sleep 30 extra minutes instead of showering, and the dishes in my kitchen are one chemical reaction from becoming bio-hazardous waste.  But for the most part, I’ve managed to get all the most important stuff done….I think.  Wait, am I forgetting something?  Let me check the calendar….

When I think back to a year and a half ago, my life looked nothing like this.  I’m not saying I didn’t get busy, I did.  But it was certainly a different kind of busy.  I taught during the day, and sometimes I had rehearsals at night.  Most weekends I had some time to chill – maybe at home watching reality television or at the bar with some friends.  And that was it!!  It’s hard to remember what that life was like.

The variety of things I have going on at any given time is overwhelming.  And the thing is, most of my friends have day-planners that are more filled than mine.  Day jobs, side projects, nighttime rehearsals, theatre companies – the list goes on and on.  If I want to hang out with someone, it takes lots of planning in advance.  Calendars have to be checked; dates have to be confirmed.

Something I miss:

Imagine it’s a Saturday night in my hometown.  I check the local movie times (for the only movie theatre in town) and see something I really want to see.  But the movie starts in 30 minutes.  I text a friend, and we agree to go to the film (because they aren’t busy either).  I put on pants (because odds are if it’s Saturday, I have not left the house yet).  I hop in my car and make it to the Malco in 9-11 minutes.  (I was planning on making it in 7 minutes, but the movie theater is ALL the way across town and I encounter three red lights on the way!)  I buy my ticket and see my buddy in the lobby.  We buy drinks and popcorn (or nachos if I’m feeling particularly festive) and walk into our theater.  We will not miss a single preview – we probably have to sit and watch some of those annoying commercials for at least 5 minutes before the real previews start.  Spontaneous weekend activity.  It was a simpler time.