In Vulnerability, There Is Hope

Inspired by the ever-intuitive Rian over at Truth and Cake, I have been encouraged to jump off the proverbial bloggers’ bridge and be 100% vulnerable by sharing something deeply personal.  But before I do that, allow me to gather the courage share why I’m baring my heart and soul like this.

Rian’s post really made me think about what I want to achieve on Defining Wonderland.  It’s hard to just put a blog into a box and be completely sure of the messages you want your readers to take away from your posts.  I want my Wonderlings to be amused, inspired, encouraged, and comforted by the stories I share and the questions I pose.  Now, I doubt all of that will be accomplished in each and every post, but I hope to at least keep folks coming back for more.  I accept that some posts may be good, some may be great, and plenty others will probably bore you to tears, but that is the risk every writer must take.  It’s a rather solo endeavor, this blog-keeping, but I don’t feel as though I’m alone with all of you out there commenting and posting on your own blogs.  It’s encouraging and keeps me going when my creativity and motivation take a nosedive.

Ok, I think I’ve stalled long enough.  The truth is…

Continue reading

Orange Alert For Online Dating Weirdos

I can totally identify with the scene in As Good As It Gets where after dealing with the ornery Jack Nicholson, Helen Hunt curses the heavens and declares, “Why can’t I just have a normal boyfriend?  Why?  Just a regular boyfriend who doesn’t go nuts on me!”

Where have all the normal guys gone???

After my latest almost-date with a guy who bordered on creepy, I sit and ponder if there really are any sane men out there schooled in the ways of Clark Gable and Cary Grant (with or without the gay rumors, the man was a man).  I’m talking strong, confident gentlemen here.  Doors opened, checks picked up, jackets draped over chilly shoulders, handkerchiefs extended to misty eyes.  Don’t guys get taught these things anymore?

Players are a dime a dozen.  I know that if I wanted to go out and get laid, I wouldn’t have a problem, but it’s just not me.  I’ve bypassed that stage of youthful indiscretions; I’m looking for something that lasts longer than an orgasm—which chances are, won’t happen the first time anyway.  I want someone who thinks with his brain, not his penis.  A tough find, I know.

Then there are the immature little boys who long for approval and strive to make everything perfect thereby putting on enough pressure to suffocate their significant others.  These are the types of guys who exhaust their friends by asking for feedback on every single thing they want to do with their partner.  “We’re fighting… how do I make it right?”  “What do I do for our two-month anniversary?”  “How come she’s mad about (insert given topic)?”  Grow up!  If I ever found out that every decision my guy ever made ran through his friends first for approval, I would be pulling my hair out.  Make your own decisions, boys!  Then you might have a shot of growing up into a warm-blooded man.  What a concept.

Let’s not rule out the ultra-clingy, weirdos.  This is the type of guy who wants to hang out 24/7 after meeting the week before.  Why wouldn’t anyone think that a relationship would result in marriage after one month of dating?  In the clinger category, this is the norm.  I am not one that deals well with co-dependent people, let alone co-dependent significant others, so I usually run for the hills at any sign of this you-are-my-everything-and-I-cannot-be-without-you type of behavior.

This last breed of ungentlemen is the one I have had the most recent interactions with.

Yesterday, I received an email inquiring about getting to know me based on my profile.  With time gladly running out on my account, I decided to give this guy a chance even though I wasn’t physically attracted.  He had a great job that he loved, was close to his family, and seemed to have his shit together.  I could grow to be attracted to someone like this.

After a total of two emails, he asked for my number so that we could text instead of email.  I personally think this is actually a more horrible way of communicating than email, but I gave him my number and told him that I was at work and may not get back to his messages in a prompt manner.  He texted me almost immediately and was lucky enough to catch me on my way to lunch when I had the time to sit and respond to his messages.

After exchanging pictures, he started asking me about my body shape and telling me that he thought a big butt (which I have always possessed) is really sexy.  He asked for pictures of my figure which I didn’t have on my phone, but were available on my profile.  I got busy with work and when I didn’t respond to a text after 20 minutes, he asked where I had gone.  Hello?  This is the first day I’ve ever communicated with you… you have no right to question where I went after I specifically told you I was at work and may not be able to respond.

When I got home last night, I received another text.  This time, he asked me to come over and hang out with him.  He lives at least 45 minutes away from me and we had already talked about meeting on Friday.  I said maybe some other time, but he wanted to know when.  What the hell?  What kind of woman would drive almost an hour away from her home to hang out with a guy that she had met online?  Sounds like making for an episode of 48 Hours Mystery.  No thank you.

I was already started to get a little weirded out.  I’m no prude, but this kind of behavior was either 1) overly enthusiastic about making my acquaintance 2) completely psychotic or 3) incredibly desperate.  None of which were very compelling choices to keep me interested for long.  The freak flag was flying and I was becoming aware that we were on two different levels here.

After a few exchanges this evening that started with a “Hadn’t heard from you today” text from him, I finally told him that I could no longer tell if these texts were all good fun or if he was just coming on too strong for my tastes.  I told him I wanted to be honest and that I wanted to give him a chance.

He thought I was “too serious.”

I can accept that assumption.  I can be incredibly on guard when interacting with people I do not know whose behavior makes me uncomfortable.  Who wouldn’t be?

We decided not to meet.  He thought I was too serious and I thought he was too creepy.  I really have no intention of being assaulted on a first date by a guy who is so clearly in need of a woman’s affection that he smothers her before even meeting her.  At least I tried to give him the benefit of the doubt to which he so easily brushed off.  Oh well.

Que sera sera.

Settle Me This

I was talking to a co-worker not long ago and we were discussing careers.  She is less than five years away from retirement, I am more than 30 away from eligibility.  We were talking about how my generation, given the crappy economy and increased competition, are managing in their search for the perfect self-fulfilling job that pays enough to allow them to live a comfortable—not extravagant, mind you—life.

This particular co-worker is not one that I would consider loves to work and is happy with the tasks she performs regularly.  She is grumpy and frustrated after decades of service, but I like her.  She doesn’t take shit from people and she reminds me a lot of my mom in her hard-shell, silly-humor kind of way.  The ironic thing is that her daughter works for my mom.  What a small world.

Anyway, we were discussing the tough choices my generation faces in the job market and how more and more people are sticking with one job because they are too afraid to be without in an economy that sees mom and dad getting laid off after a lifetime of service and entry-level jobs requiring both the education and experience.  It’s a tough choice to make: a paycheck at an unsatisfactory job or the freedom to follow one’s passion that may not result in rent money at the end of the month.

I for one have chosen a well-paying job that I have virtually little-to-no interest in.  Sure, I have my breakthroughs when things at work go in my favor, my co-workers leave me alone long enough for me to forget that I am doing their work and getting paid less for it, and I can basically commit horrendous crimes and still have a job come Monday, but I am still not what I would consider fulfilled.  This is not the career I had always envisioned for myself.  I have learned a tremendous amount in the few years I have been in my current position, but the longer I stay, the less I can see myself working there until retirement.  That is just such a foreign concept to me.

I apply and apply and nothing.  Even secure fields like mine are hard to move around in.  But for now, I am taking it in stride.

I was talking with one of my mother’s friends about work and he told me point-blank that when he was my age, he wasn’t satisfied either.  I guess what it all boils down to is just what people are willing to give up for the sake of their own livelihood.  I for one have an apartment that I love that I enjoy roommate-free.  I could never have managed to afford this place without the job I am currently in.  Also, I have an incredible boss.  Her presence in the office, as well as utter faith in my abilities, has made the last few years much more bearable than they once were.

But alas, I have settled into a career that I am not thrilled with.

I look at other adults around me—none that I work with—and see how much people look forward to their jobs.  My mother for one would rather her eyes be gouged out than have her Blackberry service interrupted on a Mediterranean cruise (yes, I have embellished slightly, but when we cruised the Med on vacation, she checked in with work constantly).

I am not a work nerd.  I put in my weekly hours and am gone.  There are very few times throughout the year that I stay longer than necessary.  1) I can get all of my work done in the alloted daily hours while still getting in ample time for internet surfing and 2) I work my hours for my time off.  I do not understand why people are willing to be called on vacation to discuss work matters.  It’s not something I am jazzed to do, nor am I willing to call someone when they are out of the office.  Why do it to them if I wouldn’t like it done to me?

But it’s not just about work.  What about relationships?

So many people (including those who know very little about me) have said that the reason I am still single is that my expectations are too high.


Why would I want to settle with someone who I am not interested in?  I am by no means looking for Prince Charming and seeking a mate with levels of perfection that are godlike, but yes, there are certain things that I will not tolerate.  None of which I think are too outrageous to warrant me a perfection-seeking spinster at the ripe old age of 26.

And the thing is, I have even eased up on the mental list of characteristics that my ideal mate should have.  Sure dark hair and light eyes would be nice, but it’s not the end all be all.  I would be willing to date someone who had been engaged before so long as he had not been married or fathered any children.  I know what I want in life, why should I make sacrifices when it comes to finding the father to my own children and someone who I can see going the distance with?

I think it is entirely too common to get so swept up in the idea of wedding planning and family planning that people forget what makes successful relationships last.  I know this is the age for starter marriages (too many of my friends are on to their second marriages or engagements), but I for one do not want to have kids with several different men.

Despite my lack of a bride gene, I am completely traditional to the ideal of a family where two parents raise the child(ren) together.  I know that the idea of a family looks different to many people, but at the end of the day I want to raise children with one other person.  And why on earth would I want to do that with someone who is not what I am looking for?

So there you have it, I will settle in my career, but not when it comes to love and family.  Life’s too short not to want to have a great mate to share it with.

For that, I’m willing to wait.

Temptation, Schmemptation

As Lent has officially begun and people left and right are cutting out their most favorite things in life for the next forty days and nights, I have been thinking a lot about temptation.

Though Rose often tells me I would make a “good Catholic” because I come from a long line of them and I am great at feeling guilty and leading a chaste lifestyle—due more to circumstance than to any hope of virtue—I am not religious and completely comfortable being unholy.  However, I am still curious as to why people do the things they do in the name of religion.

Regardless, this is not a post about my questioning of the ins and outs of faith, but rather one that explores the most basic of thoughts: to give or not give into what one desires?

Last night I watched Last Tango in Paris.  I first watched this film in my undergraduate thesis class on melodramatic film.  After that, I was hooked.  There was something so freeing about this story of two people who have an anonymous love affair where neither knows anything about the other, including their names.  Sure, with an NC-17 rating there is sex up the wazoo, but the underlying stories of the two characters Paul and Jeanne are captivating and the fact that they return to each other, despite a great age difference and combustible emotions, time and time again even more so.

Plus, Marlon Brando is incredibly sexy in his post-Streetcar, pre-fat, still alive days.

I was inspired to watch the movie after receiving another email from Mr. Big.  We “met” on a dating website about a year and a half ago when I was in the stressful mode of writing my graduate thesis (jeez, I sound like such a nerdy academic with all the thesis talk, but that’s how it’s happened).  Since then, he has found me on another dating site and continued to contact me a couple of times a year.  We have yet to actually have any one-on-one interaction in person.

He is incredibly good-looking with dark hair, light eyes, and a build that rivals the Brawny Man.  And he lives up to his pictures.  He once recommended a local hot spot that Rose and I went to and within five minutes of walking in the door, I spotted Big looking handsome at a table with some friends.  Before we had been there an hour, he was gone.  I assume he never saw me.

While Big may seem like the perfect mate, there is a catch: he’s made it very clear to me that he’s looking for a friend with benefits.  Though his various profiles have said otherwise, in all of our emails he has indicated that the only thing on his over-30 mind is a no-strings-attached, sex à la carte arrangement.

He gave me his number years ago; I’ve never used it and eventually deleted it.  I have also made it clear to him that I am looking for something much more than just sex.

And thus the temptation comes in.

A part of me is completely turned off by Big’s constant quest for casual sex.  The thing is, I really don’t want to be just another girl who can randomly have sex with complete strangers.  As much as I may want a fairy tale, my life is not a romantic comedy and I know that I cannot be intimate with someone without feelings developing.  It’s just not how I roll.

But then there is the other side of me… let’s call it the horny teenager within.  She wants to climb that man like Mount Everest and see if he lives up to his talk.  It has been a long, long, long, long time since I’ve had a little waka-waka.  Ok, maybe not that epic, but in my frame of mind—and my vagina’s—it’s been a while.

For no reason other than wanting to protect myself from another broken heart, I have abstained from sexual relations for a period of time that would be shocking to most people my age.  Forty days and nights ain’t got nothing on me!  And the thing is, I’m super proud that I have looked temptation in the face in the heat of the moment and said no.  I love that I can proudly say, “Thank goodness I never had sex with him!” when one of my potential conquests proves himself to be completely unworthy.

So, I decided to take the high road once again.  I told Mr. Big that I wanted more than what he was offering.  A good-looking guy like him shouldn’t have any problems getting someone to have sex with him and I even tried to give him some sage advice on how to get it.

Then I gave him my number.

Get ‘Ur Creep On… Just Don’t Tell Others

I have always enjoyed research, even more so of the non-academic type.  My friends have marvelled at how easily and quickly I can discover information about any given subject, especially when it comes to people.  With little more than a first name and location, I can usually uncover more about a person in a few hours than most people can in a year.  The internet makes it incredibly easy to find anything you’re looking for and even what you’re not.

That’s how I found out that Ares was cheating on me.

During one lonely night in college, I was browsing though the photos of a club I knew that he went to.  Never having been to a club since I wasn’t 21 at the time, I was curious to see what they were like.  To my surprise and complete horror, I found a familiar face with a very unfamiliar face—and body—wrapped all around him.  My heart raced, my breath quickened, and my palms began to sweat.  I tried to ignore what was right in front of me and I did until a friend finally decided to be honest with me.  I eventually confronted him and our relationship was never the same.

Needless to say, my unfortunate stumble has resulted in private investigator-like levels of information gathering.  It’s complete second nature to me to scope out any and all information and as the years go by, my skills are only getting better.  Or the internet is making things that much easier to find.

Like many others, I have exhibited my fair share of stalker-esque behavior—no, I’m not physically following people and scoping out where they live and hang out because that would be weird, even for me—that usually results in a humorous story.  Eventually, that is.

With the advent of internet dating and crazies like the Craigslist Killer, it has made it imperative to know who you are meeting up with and to do so in a well-lit, public place.  With a limited amount of superficial data, I have discovered

    • last names,
    • workplace locations,
    • ex-girlfriends/current girlfriends,
    • family information, and
    • many more trivial details that one usually learns within the first few dates long before I meet them in person.

And then comes the fun of having to pretend you don’t know that your date has two brothers and a sister, went on a great vacation to Costa Rica last summer, just bought a house, lied on their profile, or just broke up with someone.  Do not under any circumstances act like you know anything that they haven’t already told you.  If you are bad at separating what has been discussed from what you have learned in your research, I suggest you halt Googling until you can differentiate between the two.  There is a reason why dating experts will tell you not to research your date beforehand, but I prefer to get as many cards out on the table as I can before I get my heart involved.

One of the keys to being a successful “investigator,” is to not allow your subject to know what you’ve been up to.  Unfortunately, that’s getting harder and harder.

There is this one guy on Match that has literally looked at my profile at least once a day for the last month (as a paid subscriber, you can see who’s checking out your profile).  He has never once made contact with me and I have stopped myself from sending him a “Why the hell do you keep looking at my profile if you’re not going to email me?” message.  I am so curious to know what keeps him coming to my profile and not making strides to meet me, but since I’m not interested in him, it’s really not worth the effort to pursue an answer.

Then there is the friendly creeper.  I received a text from Fez yesterday telling me that he saw me in my spinning class on Monday and that I was doing really well.  I called him out immediately.  If we’re “friends” like he and I try miserably to be, why not come up and say “hi” or at least message me that night.  What is the point of waiting five days to inform me that I was being watched at the gym?  The last thing I need is to think that I’m being monitored while I’m working up a sweat.  It would have been much better if he hadn’t said anything.  Now, I’m going to be self-conscious when I should be focused on the building up the nerve to talk to the cute new guy in the class.  And boy is he cute!

Yes, I know I sound like a lunatic, but the point to remember is this: do not tell your subject what you have been up to.  It will make you look like a complete freak/weirdo/crazy person/psycho.

Say it with me now, “I will not confess to internet stalking.  I will not confess to internet stalking.  I will not confess to internet stalking.”

Wait A Minute, I Thought I Was The Chick?

Yes, it’s happened again.  I’ve been dismissed via text message.

Yet this time, I wasn’t hurt in the least.  In fact, I actually felt a little more like the guy in the relationship having to deal with the crazy chick who got too clingy too fast.

It has been roughly two weeks since my last date with Kermie—a fun day of hiking, dinner, and dancing to the sounds of the 80’s played by my favorite cover band, the Spazmatics—and since I still wasn’t feeling the urge to rip his clothes off in the heat of passion (and shouldn’t I after nearly a month of dating?), I decided not to contact him first.  If he contacted me, I would of course respond, but I would not be making the initial move.  Why pursue something that I wasn’t really interested in?

I figured he felt the same way because a week later, I still hadn’t heard from him.  I felt relieved that I didn’t have to do the whole “I’m just not that into you” spiel and went back to my life.  I guess I should have just put on my big girl underwear, as the Fonz likes to say, and been upfront with him, but I decided to puss out like so many guys before me have done.

I had all but forgotten about Kermie until two days ago when I received a I’m-rejecting-you-before-you-reject-me text.

It was a nice text, citing lack of eye contact for one hour of our nearly 12-hour date and forced chemistry as the reasons he didn’t want to pursue anything more.  He said he was sorry that it didn’t work out, but assumed I felt the same way as he hadn’t heard from me since that night.

I immediately pictured him sitting at home with a pint of ice cream staring at the phone expecting it to come to life with a new text from me and going through every moment of our dates trying to figure out why I hadn’t contacted him.

I know I have a strong personality and am pretty good at taking the lead, but damnit, I’m the woman here!  I have been the dominant one in relationships before and it’s never worked out.  I’m not going to be the hunter in a relationship anymore; I am looking to be hunted.  I need a strong and dominant man to take the lead.

Rather than not give Kermie the closure he seemed to so desperately need, I responded.  I thanked him, told him that he was right and I didn’t feel any chemistry.  I said that I thought differences in our values would not make us a successful couple in the long run and wished him the best of luck in the future.

Then he wanted specific reasons.

I was flabbergasted.  I had never had anyone ask me why I wasn’t interested before.  I immediately started typing out the reasons I wasn’t attracted to him, but thought that would be a little mean.  After all, you can only change so much about looks and really that was just a very small part of why I didn’t think things would work between us.

I was honest, but tried to soften the blows.  I told him that I just didn’t feel a romantic connection, but since he wanted specific examples, I laid them out for him.  I mentioned that because he lied on his Match profile about insignificant details, I worried about what he would lie about in the future.  I advised him to wait for a woman to get in her home before driving away and that his disregard for traffic laws (blatantly running red lights, tail-gating, and getting up to 90mph on the on-ramp) made me feel unsafe.  I explained that I didn’t think he was a bad guy for any of this, but that he just wasn’t the guy I was looking for.  I followed up that text with a much kinder message saying how glad I was to have met him, that I really did have a fun time getting to know him, what a fantastic person he was, and that he would make some gal very happy.

I have not heard from him since.

I have to admire his courage to question what my reasons were.  I—and I’m sure many other women—have wondered what went wrong when guys haven’t called, but we’ve always been told that asking is precisely why men think we’re crazy.  I didn’t have to tell him anything, but I wanted to because I would want someone to do that for me if I asked.

I felt bad that I had to put it all out there, but hey, don’t ask the question if you can’t handle the answer.