Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Is she shy?

Rachelle stopped coming to class.

The last we spoke was two weeks ago. She mentioned her modeling job. I told her about my trips to Europe while stationed at the UK. She was genuinely interested about my Air Force career, but most people are. I don't think I fit the conceived notion of a military man. When a person says "former military" the first thing that usually pops into peoples' minds is an image of a tall, buzzed white man with bulging muscles and a bad-ass attitude. I'm not that man. Instead, I'm short, skinny, boyish looking asian guy, quick to smile and laugh. People tell me that I put them at ease, which I suppose accounts for why I sometimes almost feel social when at parties or group situations.

I never thought of myself as a confident person. In fact, I've always struggled with my shyness. Whenever I spent too much time with people I became very stressed and needed to be alone. I could only handle so much socializing, and almost became a shut-in. In high-school, I never really had a tight circle of friends. Instead, I flit around from one group to another, leaving whenever I felt uncomfortable. I had two best friends who I saw every so often, but I never really hung out with their group either.

In the Air Force, I recognized that I had a new chance to be a more social person, so I took steps to being more outgoing. I understood that my weakness was building a relationship, so I did my best to be around my new dorm mates. In fact, this was easily the best place to put myself. We worked together, lived together, even worked-out and played team sports together. When the week was over, we'd finish by drinking and partying together. It was very satisfying to be a part of a group rather than being by myself all the time.

Over the two years, though, people slowly left. Deploying or simply changing stations, each of us went our separate ways across continents. I left for the desert one day, and when I returned there were all new faces. My circle of friends seemingly dissipated overnight.

Since then, in the last three years, I've worked very hard on my confidence and social skills. I didn't want to be that guy in the corner by himself at parties anymore. I kept repeating my new strategy, "Fake it til you make it." I figured out that most people were nervous as well. They didn't know how to meet strangers either. I used this to my advantage by offering a lifeline at parties. I could approach someone, introduce myself, and for the rest of the night they have someone to stop by and chat with. This way someone was always talking to me, and I could pretend I was the life of the party. Ultimately, this mantra would slowly be forgotten and I would become uncomfortable over the night. I'd finally end up in the corner, as usual, but I felt like I had accomplished something.

Today, I was sitting in class when Rachelle sat down next to me and smiled, "Hello." In a few moments we were back on track talking about ourselves. It was just simple conversation, but I knew I didn't need to feel shy. Whether or not this went somewhere, I could just enjoy the company during another boring class. I didn't have to fake it anymore.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Anime Convention Weekend (Part II)

The first part of this post can be found here.

Saturday night I was hanging out in the hotel bar with my friends. They kept bringing over their friends, and as the evening wore on I suddenly was surrounded by a huge group of people, half I knew, half I didn't. I did my best to chat with each of them, learn their names, get to know a bit. On the other side of the table, a waitress brought my good friend a huge platter of nachos. Funny, I thought, I happen to be craving a nacho or two right now. I stood up, out of my seat, and took the one next to him. After I shoveled a few bites directly into my stomach, I noticed a cute girl sitting on the other side of me. As I glanced over, she looked me in the eye and smiled. Shit. Now's the time! Swallowing, I offered her my hand and my name. "Hi, I'm Chris." She took it. Her name was Katrina.

Kat was wearing what was instantly recognizeable as rave gear. Though it wasn't a character, she was distinctly in costume. A dance-in-a-dark-room-with-strangers sort of costume. It was dark and Hot-Topic-edgy; a red-plaid skirt cut short to allow maximum bareness, a day-glo bikini-top, a tight fishnet shirt over. I didn't even know they made those. Still, it was all oddly complimented by her adorable features.

We spoke for an hour. The people around us were a blur. For the first time since the break-up only a month earlier, I was simply enjoying the pleasure of good conversation with a pretty girl. As the night wore on, I became more comfortable, more at ease with myself. An hour and a half of sitting and she finally mentioned what I was dreading. She had a boyfriend.

I don't know why I felt so used. This girl was very obviously interested. She pretty much waved off all her friends as they left us. She had touched my arm several times, laughed at my jokes, teased and batted her eyes. Maybe she was interested after all, and decided to leave our her significant other as long as she could handle. After that, though, the conversation started to fall flat. I felt a bit guilty but also bit peeved as we hugged and parted ways.

The rest of the night was enjoyable, but I kept thinking about that conversation. Did I do something wrong? I'm sure that I was polite and charming, and up until she mentioned her boy we seemed to be hitting it off. Ultimately, I decided that it wasn't my fault for what happened. I should still enjoy the company of interesting people without any ulterior motive. I had forgotten how much I enjoyed meeting new interesting women.

I realized then that the excitement is in the chase. I needed to forget about coming out on top, as it were, and instead enjoy the entire journey. I hope that through this blog you all can enjoy my journey as well.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Caitlin and I (Part I)

After the break-up, we did our best to continue living together. It was difficult at times. Neither of us were sure which roles we should play. We were still friends, but lovers? With our one shared bed, one shared bath, shared EVERYTHING, we ended up being the same as before our break-up.

Yet things were not the same. We had agreed that we could try to be friends with benefits. We were still best friends, and as I tried my best to come to terms with the split, I ended up turning to her for the comfort she had given me for the last two years. I cried about her into her shoulder, and we were happy to hold each other.

When I first met Caitlin, she was quite different than the person she came to be. Young, fresh-faced, and much less innocent. She somehow seemed much older than her actual years. What struck me was how tall and pretty she was. I was never quite attracted to girls who were much bigger than me, and she was what some would call a "chubby girl." However, her beauty caught my breath. We were both in costume at a friend's caveman-theme party (before the annoying Geiko commercials). I was stepping out of the bathroom in my loin-cloth costume when she saw me and told me how cute I was. Within the first few hours she had her tongue down my throat. I wasn't quite prepared for aggressive women. "I'd totally bone you," she whispered late that night, "but my friend Rich is coming to pick me up later."

After that party, I didn't see her or hear from her again. Looking back, I don't think I thought of her very much aside from the pleasant making-out session. I mostly remembered her raven long hair, her flawless porcelain skin, and how soft her lips were on mine. I'd smile at my thoughts, and promptly continue on with my day.

Months later, our lives crashed together. She was a hurricane and I was a quiet seashore town. At Katsucon (another anime convention I was partying at) we randomly ended up with the same group of friends. After drinking and partying it up a bit (a lot), I found myself in her bed in the middle of the night. I was drunk on her smile and the tequila. She was a beauty that night. I was surprised again by the force of her personality. She wasn't coy or shy. She didn't apologize for the sexuality that she oozed. She simply grabbed me by my neck and manhandled me onto a rollercoaster night of pleasure.

The next morning, I awkwardly woke and returned to my room, doing my best not to wake her. I wasn't sure exactly what to do at that point, so I simply left as quietly as I could. I was torn. This girl was amazing, but I was intimidated by her bold come-ons. I couldn't see myself spending time with just a pretty face. Actually, I didn't think she was a slut for having sex with me so quickly. She admitted that she was very attracted to asian men, and told me that she thought I was handsome. It was simply too much too fast for me. After my shower, I stepped back into my friend's hotel room and came face-to-face with her, again.

Honestly, I don't remember the details of what happened after this. She came with my friends and me as we walked around the convention. She had breakfast with us. Finally, we ended up alone, her and I, in a crowd of people milling about. As we waited for our friends to return, we ended up talking. We chatted about normal things people chat about. I learned about her family and friends, she heard about my traveling and work. We talked about all the things that interested us. She told me about how much of a geek she was, which surprised me. All the while, I felt completely comfortable with her. Refreshingly honest, she talked about her dreams and what she wanted to accomplish. She told me about the things that brought her here to this place with me. I felt like she opened up for me more on that hotel lobby floor than she had the night before.

After an hour, I didn't even notice when my friends returned. I had been thoroughly engrossed with the conversation. As we stood up to part ways, I realized how sweet she was. This girl was honest, caring, and humble. In short, she was lovely.

I saw Caitlin a few more times after that. The days we didn't see one another we'd call each other on the phone, talking late into the night. When we did meet, she'd take the train down from Philly to DC and we'd spend weekends together. Most of our activities were committed to the bedroom, shared in pleasure and comfort. Sometimes we'd play games together. We might eat out or cook for ourselves. Then, she'd take the train back to her life while I prepared for the week ahead.

Finally, I asked her to be mine. "Would you like to change your profile to say 'In an exclusive relationship?'" My heart pounded in my throat.

She looked into my eyes, "Absolutely. Yes." -March 10, 2008.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Online Dating is for the Birds

The geek in me is drawn to online dating like its legendary loot. All I need is one good day of writing, I told myself, and I'd have a perfect profile to woo all sorts of sexy, available women. On the internet.

That right there had a few glitches. First, I'm really not all that clever. Sure, I can imagine as easily as I'm writing here that I'll put together strings of words that will both cause the viewer to laugh at my daring wit, but will also interest her to simply stop what she's doing and write me only for the pleasure of picking my brain. Reality illustrated how wrong I was. I didn't realize that short essays were the staple of these sites, and suddenly I had flashbacks to my poor SAT Writing scores. Well, those wouldn't be able to save me now. I decided to instead focus on my winning personality.

"Describe yourself," the prompt suggested, "500 chars or less." What struck me was how breezy the entire thing was. Like it was asking for a glass of water. Chilled with three ice cubes, 500 chars or less. If I was to be honest, my dating site would read much like a primer on the Unibomber. "Stays at home," it would warn, "Basement living quarters. Leaves to eat and in case of internet disconnection. Allergic to sunshine and law enforcement."

Surely, I would have to use a different tack. "Agreeable!" I wrote hoping that the exclamation would make it exciting. I looked at the screen and instantly backspaced the whole thing. "Friendly!" too, made me look boring again, as did "Fun!" I didn't even type out Nice! as that seemed to me a death kiss. I wanted something a little edgy and mysterious, so I finally settled on "Will probably not fight you!" I decided to keep the exclamation.

After my profile was completed, I browsed the entire world of eager women. Luckily, most the websites could narrow the search down to just those close to me. Of my neighbors, I picked an age range near my own. If there was an option, I would have checked "Easy" but none was available. This part of online dating leads to my second problem. I quickly learned that there's an art to reading profiles as well as writing. There are several clues to look out for. Curvy was a red flag. It meant fat. Don't get me wrong, there are fat girls I would be interesting, but I prefer if the girls I were to pick up were trim. I'm personally quite scrawny, so I always feel uncomfortable with very large women. Another red flag were pictures which showed only part of the face from a strange angle. This also probably meant fat. Then, there were the profiles with girls too pretty that screamed "I'm easy, so message me and come get some!" These were always scammers. Nothing was more disappointing than e-mailing one extremely attractive girl who seemed very nice and approachable in her profile, only to be awarded with a link to a sign-up site.

Ultimately, after editing my profiles for many days, choosing the perfect profile pictures to share, and searching through girls for a perfect match, my search has still be unrewarded. My final problem is that all the available women just ignore my comments and messages. I just think that these are all places where infinitely more attractive people are meeting other attractive people and having lots of sex. Of course, this leaves average "oh, you're kinda cute" me sitting alone on my computer. These attempts have basically been an exercise in finding more porn, I suppose, since they've all led there anyways.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Anime Convention Weekend (Part I)

This weekend tried my best to enjoy myself at Anime USA.

If you know what an anime convention is then you're probably aware that it's full of very young people dressed up as outrageous cartoon characters walking about and posing for nerdy camera-men. Unlike other geek-related conventions, which are as nerdy but full of harmless activities, an anime convention seems like nothing more than a farce, hiding the huge amounts of drinking and partying under the guise of "family friendly" activities. That's not to say that people go to these conventions to only drink and party, but I certainly do.

Anime USA (or, AUSA for those in the know) has always been a good time. Though I'm not particularly a fan of japanese animation, many of my friends certainly are. When they all come to town for a weekend, I learned that the cost of a shared hotel room for two nights is petty cash compared to the amount of partying I can rack up. I can put a few of these on my calendar, and the slow buildup the weeks leading to the event ultimately explodes into an incredible weekend reunion. For two, maybe three days, we're all stuck with each other in one hotel, hanging out, chatting, drinking, and dining together.

I was looking forward to this particular AUSA because of The Breakup and Move. A week after I began unpacking, I set aside a small luggage and drove to the hotel. Friends, fun, an escape from the thoughts that had been following me. I needed a distraction. Looking back, most of the weekend was a blur. I was just swept along by the personalities of old acquaintances. We all reconnected and filled each other in on our lives. Lunch, zoom. Dinner, zoom. Hotel bar, zoom! Drinking in the rooms, zoom! Meeting new people, ZOOM! Everything was a rose-tinted haze. Exactly what I needed.

More than the partying, though, what I needed was practice. A month and a half, yet I really still hadn't been on the hunt. My confidence was generally running on fumes. I felt like this was the perfect opportunity to talk to some girls and work up the self-esteem I had lost. Anime conventions are generally filled with nerds who just want attention. What's hard about talking to girls here, where they're walking around, hoping they'll get stopped for photos of their Chibichansailorchu?

For one, everything. When did talking become so hard? I never considered myself to be shy, but the whole weekend I felt like a ghost. I'd shadow my old friends, introduce myself to their friends, respond to any questions in five or less words. Was this how it's done? I didn't seem to be getting anywhere. I certainly wasn't chasing down pretty tail like I had imagined all week. Girls weren't jumping all over me, despite the distinct advantage I had of a new, sexier wardrobe. What was I doing wrong? By Saturday morning, I boxed my fantasies and decided to just enjoy myself. No need to work myself up.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Friends and Furniture

I'm officially moved into my new pad.

It's been quite difficult getting into my new place. The old place was a bottom floor of a house. The second floor was a different apartment with an entirely separate entrance way, so we had the space for ourselves with no unwelcome guests. It was a beautiful one bedroom, with a full kitchen and bath, hardwood floors, and a fireplace. In the last year, the girl who broke my heart and I had made it our home. Together.

She moved two weeks before me. Faster than I expected, surprisingly, she packed all her belongings and moved. I was suddenly alone in a home that was too quiet, too large, too empty for my thoughts. When I woke in the mornings, the familiar creaks and groans of the house were now eerie and hostile. I went to sleep every night in a cold bed. I was a stranger in my own house, it seemed.

When I finally moved I was at once relieved and anxious. I walked into my old home, strangely small and at the same time too enormous. In the empty bare walls of my former home I felt both strangled and stretched thin. How did my life suddenly change so quickly? Life had taken a turn for the worst, it seemed.

My friends saved me. They showed up on moving day, helping to load and unload my furniture and possessions into the truck. They assembled my new furniture with me. They kept me going and distracted me when I felt like collapsing. People I haven't talked to in months showed up at my door, ready to lend a hand.

Suddenly, I realized that the people in my past lives were calling. People who had heard of the breakup had been calling me, offering me a hand when I needed it. I had talked to many of my old friends on the phone. People from 3000 miles away messaged me. I wasn't as alone as I had thought. The one dim flames suddenly burned bright with dozens of people I though I'd lost connection to.

Finally, I sat on my newly constructed bed, fresh sheets smelling of detergent. Boxes were piled around me. My new home began to creak and moan, and I felt at ease for once since the break-up. Here I was. I realized that with my friends around me, I could never really be alone. Finally, I began to heal.