Well, there goes another year, internets. Another year of trials, tribulations, happiness and heartache, highs and lows and everything in between.
The highs of this year? Easy. Meeting and getting to know the most amazing community I’ve ever had the honor, luck and pleasure of being a part of. Thanks to the pdx tech community, I have new ideas, new activities, and most importantly, new friends and connections which enrich my life in ways I could never have imagined (*cough* igniteportland and 30hourday *cough*), and will continue to enrich my life in ways I can only dream. So whether or not I follow you on Twitter, friend you on Facebook, or we hook up on LinkedIn, I’m glad I met each and every last one of you.
But it’s not all about the pdx tech scene! There’s been old friends reuniting, new activities ventured, and new friends made in other areas of my life as well!
I try very hard to live my life with no regrets. I’m happy to say that I have largely succeeded.
When I was 6, I started taking guitar lessons. I still remember begging my parents to make that happen. I went through several guitar instructors, entered some competitions (which I won) until the ripe old age of 10, at which point I told my parents I was done, for reasons I won’t go into right now. I’ve never really regretted my decision, since I have worked hard to continue to have music play a large role in my life.
There was one teacher in particular who to this day, I will never forget. He lived in a grand house with sweeping staircases, and we would have lessons in his library. His library was an actual room with BOOKS in it. He was very sweet and kind, and encouraged me to branch out into other musical pursuits, such as the violin and hawaiian style or slide guitar. I thought he was the best thing ever. My parents let me practice violin for a week, at which point my violin career ended.
So the other night, it suddenly occurred to me that I wish I had insisted to my parents that I wanted to continue branching out my musical training to other instruments like the violin. And I also wish my guitar teacher who encouraged that hadn’t died of a stroke so soon after I began training with him. I think my life would be very different now had he lived longer.
I love Portland a heck of a lot. As such, I try really hard to be a good Portlander. Using some highly scientific analysis (counting the number of tattooed folk in the wait line outside Pine State Biscuits on a Saturday morning) I have determined that Portland has the highest ratio of tattooed people per capita. And since I have not gotten a bona fide tattoo in nearly 17 years, I figured I was GREATLY overdue. So I called up my pal @camikaos, who is something of an expert on the local tattoo talent, for an artist recommendation. She sent me to Jesse at BlackBird Tattoo on Killingsworth.
Now, I’m not one to get just any tattoo. My tattoos must have meaning. Notice how I bolded that. Because it’s important. So after much deliberation, I got a sun on one arm and a moon on the other. The sun goes on the right arm, the positive side, the action side. The moon goes on the left, the negative side, the side of restraint. These are somewhat Kabbalistic attributes. Therefore, the words, in Hebrew, the language of Kabbalah: tshuka, passion, on the sun. Izun, balance, on the moon.
The final product:
Two of the most important things to have in your life. Without passion, life is empty. Without balance, life is chaos.
No really, it does. I know, I’ve been doing it a little over two years now.
It. Sucks. Ass.
Oh sure, you get to meet cool people. Sure, there’s the prospect of that exciting first kiss, the quickening of breath, hearts racing and all that. It still sucks, and I just don’t quite know why, or why I continue to do it. I certainly don’t remember it being like this the last time I was single. True, that was about 8 years ago, but still. Maybe its the particular age group I’m dealing with now. Maybe all the sane, stable, un-fucked up ones are taken. Maybe I have old-fashioned ideas about dating. Maybe I’m just looking in the wrong places. Maybe “things are just done differently now”. Whatever the case may be, I’m not Livin’ La Vida Loca, that’s for damn sure. Dating seems to boil down to one thing: playing head games.
That is the one game that I really REALLY hate with a boiling passion am not fond of.
But what the hell. Sign me up for that emotional roller coaster ride! Yes, I ENJOY using my heart as a metal ball in the Dating Pinball machine. If you’re not jaded and disillusioned, then you’re doin it wrong! Hello, MultiBall!
Meh. Meh, I say.
A friend of mine told me that relationships are overrated. That if hers ended, she’d just date and be single and happy for the rest of her life. She also told me she’s heard of lots of couples splitting up recently.
Well for her, and all the people thinking the grass is greener on the single side, here’s what I’ve learned after two years. A few tips, you might say. Or words of warning. Take them how you will.
Don’t show any interest in someone you’re interested in. That makes you “needy”. Maintain an air of mild disdain for human connection, or risk being seen as weak. The more you like them, the less you can show it. And the less you show it, the more they want you.
If you’re not dating at least 5 other people, you’re dangerous. Too available.
However, if someone informs you that they’re dating 15 other people, you *might* want to consider leaving.
If you’re looking for more than a casual hookup, give up. Committed relationships apparently are no longer cool. Whoa there partner…do you have FEELINGS about me? Whoa, I’m not cool with FEELINGS, you know. Now come over and let’s fuck.
Unless the connection is instant and overwhelming, it’s not worth your time. Slowly getting to know someone? Who’s got time for that?
People say in their ads/profiles that they’re ‘looking for friends, maybe more’. THEY ARE LYING. If they don’t think you’re hot on first meeting, no matter how much you have in common or how much you hit it off, you’ll never hear from them again.
Speaking of friends: There’s no such thing as going directly from dating to friends if you’ve had sex. Saying that “We can be friends!” is a lie created to distract you from the fact that you’re being broken up with.
You’ll want to learn the art of the passive aggressive text message. Text is this generation’s sticky note on the bathroom mirror.
Never, under any circumstances, friend people you’re dating on Facebook . Or Twitter. Or LinkedIn, Tumblr, or any of the other 3 billion social networking sites. If by some dumb stroke of luck you actually *do* end up in a long term relationship with someone, then MAAAAYYBBEEE you can consider the digital hookup. Until then, however, keep it off the internets. It’s safer. Think of it as a digital condom. Let’s be safe out there, people.
Realize that this is going to be a huge pain in the ass. Dating is like trying to organize a multilevel marketing scam but with the possibility of STDs and more booze.
But seriously, internets. Dating just seems to bring out the ugly side of people, myself included. I can’t tell you how many people have reached out to me on the various dating sites, and I take one look at the picture and delete the message with a shudder. That makes me feel shallow and cruel – but I know what I’m looking for, and they have not met my standards. I’m sure I’d like those people. I bet we’d be great friends. I’m sure I have a lot I could learn from them; I believe that of most anyone. But I don’t claim to be looking for friendship on these sites. My mission is clear and focused. Find people I’d like to date, and date them. If we click a little, have fun. If we click a lot, explore that potential.
Even more worrisome is that this casual hookup society I find myself in has truly shaken my faith in love. I view it as a force , as a meta-force if you will; most forces can be described in terms of love or attraction. I have faith in its inevitability, its power, its universal application. But the fact that my experiences in the past two years are casting shreds of doubt in that faith shakes me down to my very core. It scares me more than anything I’ve ever been scared of. It threatens my foundations.
So think again before you throw in your towel and decide to become a hunter again . It is not for the faint or the weak. As another friend of mine told me, encouraging me to just spend more time with my friends instead: “Dating sucks! We’re way more fun!”
“But Morgan!” you say. “This post was called ‘In Defense of Dating’! Not ‘Dating Sucks’!”
Yes, well. I know, I sound a bit jaded and bitter. I’m just doing a bit of dredging. Believe me, I still hold out hope, internets. I’m a very hopeful type. Perhaps one of you can convince me that there’s value in this twisted dance? That there are people who don’t view relationships as a sport, to be won at any cost?
Thanks to my good friend Aaron, who brought his prodigious experience to bear on this topic, and to Michelle and her amazing Miracle in July for the Apture suggestion. You both rock my world.
I recently ran across this story through a friend of mine. I’ve heard it in many forms before; I’m sure we all have at some point. But for some reason, today, it resonated down to the deepest darkest recesses of my soul. So I felt it only right that I should share it with you all.
A Grandfather from the Cherokee Nation was talking with his grandson.
“A fight is going on inside me,” he said to the boy.
“It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves.”
“One wolf is evil and ugly:
He is anger, envy, war, greed, self-pity, sorrow, regret, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, selfishness and arrogance.”
“The other wolf is beautiful and good:
He is friendly, joyful, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, justice, fairness, empathy, generosity, true, compassion, gratitude, and deep vision.”
“This same fight is going on inside you, and inside every other human as well.”
The grandson paused in deep reflection because of what his grandfather had just said. Then he finally cried out; “Oyee! Grandfather, which wolf will win?”
The elder Cherokee replied, “The wolf that you feed.”
And I absolutely positively CATEGORICALLY deny your request to leave. I’m sorry, summer, you’re stuck here until I give the all clear.
And I haven’t sucked the marrow out of you quite yet. In fact, I’ve been kinda sucking at the marrow sucking as of late. Perhaps the hole is too narrow. Perhaps my suction leaves something to be desired these days. Whatever the case may be, this summer has not lived up to its glorious potential.
So I’m gonna need some more time, summer. More time to lounge lazy in the sun, and putter in my yard, and be sexy at parties. More time to go hiking. More time to plunge the depths of cold mountain lakes. More time to throw a stick endlessly for my dog. More time for biking, and entertaining, and sunny days laughing with friends. More time for barbecue, and eating dinner and drinking tea and reading on my patio.
So until I give you permission, summer, you’re not budging. Suck it up.
…one of your closest bestest dearest most down to earth and loving friends pesters you every time you see them for months to do this thing with them that kinda scares you because it’ll demand creativity from you in ways you’d never thought, and would probably be endlessly awesome for you to do?
You finally give in and say yes, that’s what.
Which is just what I did.
There’s still the scary in my future. And the following through. And the hard path. And the pushing beyond boundaries. And the not listening to the inner negative chit chat that I do when I start something new, which I’m doing pretty well at blocking out so far.
(Stupid negative chat. I know I’m gonna rock this thing. I have in the past, you see. It’s just been a while.)
But all that is nothing, when you put it up against the look on my friend’s face when I was there, at the place, ready to start doing this thing with her that she does that makes her so happy.
She was fraking GIDDY with delight. Seriously, giddy is the perfect word. And that made me happy beyond measure.
I have every confidence that I’m going to do both of us proud.
I’m not a big fan of westerns. The shoot-em-up roll-em-out machismo that spews out of most westerns make me gag. Yep, I’m gagging on the testosterone-injected dick that you’re thrusting in my face, Mr. Director. Wait, let me pay for this experience too! Even better. Like a male frakin prostitute or something.
Of course, there is one exception. But it’s a damn good one.
Because you see, there is this movie. Technically, I guess, it’s a western. There’s nothing really special about it, except that it has about a bazillion quotable lines of dialogue.
Tombstone, I’m yer huckleberry.
But this blog post is not about Tombstone. Not really. It’s about friendship.
See, there’s an exchange in the movie between Turkey Creek Jack Johnson and Doc Holliday (Oy. The nameage! Turkey Creek Jack Johnson? Really? Did your mother name you that? I think not.) They’re both huddled in with Wyatt Earp, under fire from the Cowboy gang. During a break in the fighting, Jack and Doc have the following conversation:
And that is my point. I don’t have a lot of friends. I require a lot from people for me to apply the moniker “friend” to someone. A friend is someone I know I can rely on. Someone I trust. Someone who I know cares for me, and shows it, much like I try to show my friends I care for them.
Friends offer to stay the night at your house when your cat dies. They help you change a flat tire in the rain and bring you coffee. They invite you to dinner when you drop in unannounced. They’ve talked you off the ledge, and still love you. They back your play no matter what.
So if I call you a friend, it means something. It means a whole heck of a lot of somethings. And I don’t give it out lightly, easily or quickly. It is something that must be earned, because once earned, it means you have access to my (sometimes) endless amounts of patience, understanding and compassion. My friends get my absolute loyalty. These are things I treasure in myself, and must be protected from those who would take advantage of it. I would have it no other way.
I really love this country I live in. I always have, and I always will. But like parents with a difficult child, I have to admit that liking this country has been a real challenge for the past decade or so. I found it hard, near impossible in fact, to hold my head up high and say that I am an American. I questioned the ethics of my leaders, their motives, and I watched as policies and actions were carried out which seemed to have ambiguous value for the country, as well as very little moral ground on which to stand.
I don’t feel that way now.
I’m not saying it’s perfect; far from it. But I can certainly hold my head up again.
Happy fourth of July, everyone. I leave you with one of my most popular blog posts.