Tag Archives: Albuquerque

Good Stories and Bad. Or, Why the Word “Dating” Sucks.

“I think he might date a lot,” I said to S recently, by way of attempting to articulate what my reservations might be about someone I’ve seen a couple of times and altogether like.

“So?” she replied. “You kind of date a lot.”

My instinct was to respond indignantly: “No I don’t.” But before I could even find the words I mentally checked myself: actually, I realized, I kind of do.

I shrugged my shoulders.

“So, what’s wrong with that?” she asked.

It’s not only that I didn’t have a good response to her question, it’s that I didn’t have any response.

In telling the anecdote yesterday to my friend E–the sometime biking buddy I’ve hardly seen since she started medical school in August–we wound up having a nearly identical exchange.

“I knew you’d have boy stories,” she exclaimed with unbridled enthusiasm, crossing her legs and turning to face me in the corner booth at Flying Star–where’d nominally come to study. “Tell me stories!”

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Why Blog?

Last night I went out for beers with my visiting friend D: the colleague and drinking buddy I wrote about often until he had the audacity to finish his MFA and move to a different time zone.

For the sake of consistency and nostalgia, we talked about our love lives. I told him that I still haven’t figured out when it’s appropriate for me to inform a potential love interest about my blog.

“Is it okay to wait until at least a second date to tell someone?” I asked.

“Of course!” he assured me. “A girl once didn’t tell me until our second date that she had herpes!”

And so–in hearing my occupation as a blogger compared to a sexually transmitted disease–I, for the approximately third time in thirty-six hours, seriously questioned the prudence of this entire enterprise.

Well, not exactly the entire enterprise. More the particular enterprise of my writing being so focused on my love life.

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Inventory: Counting All the Men Left

The thing about dating, and being single, is that it’s really hard not to spend a lot of time feeling hopeless. You meet someone, you reject them or they reject you, and–no matter how many times it happens–you always manage to feel as though there is absolutely no one else around.

This feeling can be particularly acute in a smaller city, where it sometimes seems as though you’ve seen everyone in town at least once, and the ones you find attractive–you’ve already dated.

Perhaps, in some very small towns, this is actually true. But, as I reminded S last night, it usually is not the case–and for us, it definitely isn’t.

“I think we forgot how big this city actually is,” I said. “Just because we see the same people over and over again we assume that we’ve seen everyone. But I think there are a lot of men here who we haven’t yet come across.”

“It’s true,” she said, attempting morale.

The thing is that I only thought to say this because S said something very similar recently to me. Her words, as they often do,  resonated so much that I wrote about them–not on the blog, but in a nonfiction essay I’m working on.

This essay, which is the closest thing to a blog post I’ve attempted in longer form (much longer: my average post is 700 words, this piece is close to 5,000) got workshopped last night.

For the uninitiated, this means that a group of about ten people sat around a table telling me–sitting by with a virtual piece of duct tape over my mouth–a lot about what’s not working (and a little about what is) in what I’ve written.

As you might imagine, there’s a lot in this essay that’s not working. But that particular moment, the one in which S imparts her wisdom, is one that many people agreed worked well.

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Some Dignity: A Brief Rant

Friday night I went out with my friend A. Like me, A is single; and, like me, she comes across as someone with confidence, no small degree of poise, and a good amount of intelligence.

And yet–also, like me–she manages to forget these things in the company of certain men. She manages to behave like a person with comparatively little confidence or poise or sense or smarts.

In such moments, A told me the other night, certain words once spoken to her by a close female relative frequently ring in her head.

Those words would be: “A——, have some dignity.”

We both busted out laughing when she told me this. Both of us, in other words, are aware of how frequently we act without dignity.

I reported this to my NY S a few days later, expecting her to laugh along as heartily. She didn’t.

“What do you mean, dignity?” she asked. “What has that got to do with flakey guys?”

I struggled to explain.

Then, yesterday, my friend and professor and luminarious poet Dana Levin came to guest teach my creative writing class. In introducing and defining poetry, she talked about her practice of looking up the etymology of words as both a creative and analytical tool.

So, this morning (only after spending one hour alphebitizing my bookshelf and another curled up in a ball on the couch with Bonita–this, friends, is how useless I currently feel) I looked up the etymological roots of the word “dignity.”

What I found isn’t that revelatory: the word comes from the Latin “dignitas,” which means “worthiness.”

But that, as it turns out, iis exactly it.

What A and I were laughing about is the fact that we know how “worthy” we are: we know we are smart, creative, attractive, worthy young women. We know we are worthy of someone who appreciates this: who treats us, in other words, with respect.

And yet, so often–for reasons too mundane, infuriating and typical for me to reckon with at this moment–we allow ourselves to become involved with men who don’t.

I was reminded of this several times this weekend, as I ran into approximately three men who I’ve been more or less interested in/involved with in the past few months–all of them evidently incapable of behaving like–and treating others as–a normal human being, much less a respectful one.

It would seem that these men don’t know how to make phone calls. That they don’t know how to apologize. Or how to make plans. Or how to acknowledge another person with whom they may or may not have recently had sex. How to make one feel, in other words, like a woman who is worthy of being called or apologized to or appropriately acknowledged.

“I feel like I’m living in a parallel universe of men who are completely socially dysfunctional,” I told S, sprawled on the couch the other night and attempting to read Lolita.

“I know,” she said. “I’m living right next door.”

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A Hazard of Dating in a Small(ish) Town

Around this time last fall, not long after I moved to Albuquerque, I met a man in a coffee shop. It was one of the more charmed moments I’ve experienced here: he was handsome and wouldn’t stop staring, I scrawled my number on a scrap of gas station receipt.

That afternoon I walked around town feeling a bit fancy about myself. He seemed to have potential. I like attention.

And then, I called my dear friend J–the one who, as you may recall, is a fellow South Brooklynite but who has lived in Albuquerque for several years. Several more than me.

I told her, giddily, about my encounter.

“Isn’t that exciting?” I gushed. “He was totally good-looking and seemed cool!”

“Yeah!” she encouraged. “What’s his name?”

I told her.

“Oh,” she said.

Right. Of course. She knew him. She hadn’t dated him herself–as I initially feared–but she knew a couple of women who had. It hadn’t gone well. It was hard not to notice that the pitch of her voice had dropped considerably since our conversation began. As, as you can imagine, had my mood.

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On Haircuts, Confidence and Compliments

Among the numerous readers of my blog to whom I am related by blood or marriage, my sister-in-law, F, is not one.

So when we spoke on the phone earlier this week for the first time in about a month, she asked how my love life was going.

“Not great,” I sighed–informing her about my recent spate of rejection.

“Huh,” she responded, contemplative. “How’s your hair?”

“Kinda bad,” I told her. “It needs a cut.” I was tired, and possibly distracted by some blanket-laden homeless person on Central Avenue; I at first did not absorb her question’s implication. But then I did.

“Are you suggesting that men are rejecting me because of my hair?”

“I’m just asking,” she said. “I mean, I saw you recently so I know you’re not fat. Maybe you’re having a bad hair year.”

Let’s put aside for a moment any questions about the likelihood of bad hair lasting for an entire year, and allow me to provide some context. First of all, F and I have similar hair: she’s Italian and I’m Jewish and both of us have seriously thick, coarse and texturally schizophrenic manes to show for our respective ethnicities. Second of all, having dated my brother since I was five years old, F is the closest thing I’ve got to a sister and has therefore earned permission to tell me things no one else can.

But back to completely inane perceptions of what makes us more or less attractive.

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First Adventures Online

In my writing, I’ve been over some of the reasons that a person–in particular this person–might hesitate to embrace online dating. To summarize: vanity, pride and an irrevocable fear of coming across someone to whom I’ve taught freshman composition.

I’ve spilled less ink enumerating the reasons one might be compelled to date online. And they are, of course, considerable. So here we are:

For one, it’s become entirely normal: the last statistic I heard was that one in five couples meet online. I’ve taken to interrupting people who start describing their “mother’s best friend’s cousin who…met on match…” I know, I tell them, I know.

For another, it’s a good way to ensure reasonably consistent male attention during those phases when one is more couch than bar prone. (And let’s be honest: Albuquerque’s biggest and hottest barfly is hardly guaranteed a single pick-up in a given week; has the internet made people forget how to flirt?)

And, oh yeah, you might actually meet someone to go on a date with. Potentially more than one. And sometimes it’s nice to go on dates. And sometimes it’s nice to have some faith in the possibility of another.

I guess the most compelling reason to date online, though, is that all the reasons not to are actually pretty dumb and embarassing to admit. (I mean, I think the former student thing is legit–but it’s something, I’m told, I have to swallow. Apparently that’s what grown ups do.)

That was the reasoning, at least, that led to me sitting in front of my laptop yesterday with my NY best friend R, perusing the local lads of OKCupid.

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