About toretha

I'd rather laugh.

So I was corresponding with someone on OK cupid who complimented me on making very mature decisions at my young age, quoted Ayn Rand, and apparently cared deeply about the first amendment after reading wikipedia. He also liked twilight. He invited me for coffee.  This appealed deeply to my sense of humor, and I was going to agree, simply for the story value.

So I agreed, saying public places and I will receive safety phone calls, one during and one after.

He responded by saying it was good he didn’t invite me to dinner or I’d have had bodyguards, telling me that now I’d told him he could kidnap me at gunpoint and force me to call in, giving me his phone number so he could be tracked if he killed me, and saying sheesh it was only coffee.

I wrote back that I no longer felt comfortable meeting him, and suggesting that next time, making jokes about kidnapping and killing might not be the way to go. He told me that telling him I was taking safety precautions was a huge turn off he’d been prepared to ignore, and told me that he was at risk all the time of being raped and murdered TOO.  I judged further response to be pointless.  Probably soon I’ll stop responding at all and just leave them wondering where the coffee is.

I think this will be an exciting exercise in dickery, don’t y’all?

I totally am willing to be a bitch (AND IT FELT GREAT)

So, I was sort of failing this try to meet people thing.  So, partly as punishment for my sins and partly because I know it will make Sparkles happy, and partly because I try to listen when both Sparkles and Ster (seriously, cmon there must be a cooler name for you, you’re such a cool person) tell me I need to do something.  I grant, they both are leaning toward the grabbing random guys in bars to make out with end, but I’m still I’m still me here.

So I made an ok cupid profile.  Ok, Sparkles made a lot of it.  But I totally contributed!  And then I started talking to people.  And then I started reading Captain Awkward.  And somewhere along in there  I got inspired.  And made a plan.  It goes like this:

The Rules:

1.  Unless I’m creeped out, I will go out once with anyone who asks and is of a decent age and not married. 

2.  Public places only. 

3. I will not give them my full name, my phone number, or an email address I actually care about.  I will certainly not friend them on facebook or let them know where I live.

4. I will be honest.  If I disagree, I will disagree politely, but I won’t agree just to be nice or compromise my disagreement to make them feel better.  I will not avoid subjects or activities because I don’t want the awkwardness of me disliking them or disagreeing with them.  If I think they’re going to try to hold hands?  I won’t put my hands in my pockets, I will leave them out.  And since I really don’t like handholding in many contexts, if they take my hand, I will take it back.  Or say no.  But I will not avoid any potential issues except through direct words and actions.

5. I will be assertive.  I am open to trying new things, but if I want something I will say so, not hope for mindreading.

5.   Having met once in person, the rule on seconds will be this: I will do it if it sounds more fun than staying home, based on the first time. If it does, I may let them have further contact info.  Maybe. 

6. If it makes it to a third time, I will give proper contact information. 

 

I will not:

1. break these rules to make someone who sounds interesting go out with me.  This is what makes me feel safe and comfortable, I am the one at risk of rape and if they don’t respect that, that’s them being rude, not me.  I will not feel guilty for taking safety precautions.  I may decide to change the safety rules on my own, but I can only do it for actual reasons.

2. Apologize for these rules to make someone feel better.  These are appropriate safety boundaries and until we stop apologizing for being safe, no one is going to start accepting that as normal.

3. Give another chance to guys who seem nice, well meaning, awkward or nervous.  If I did not have fun the first time, that’s the end of that.  I’m sure they’re very nice people, but if I didn’t have fun the first time, I am not going to have another time of awkwardly not having fun out of sympathy.  At least the first time is an adventure.  You expect dull parts.  The second time will just be dull.  Sure, maybe it could improve.  But if I allow that option, I’ll  maybe get one improvement out of 20 dull second go rounds.  How they feel is their responsibility and I am not here to make it mine.

4. Agree to something that I don’t want to make the other person feel better.

5. Pull the fade away after meeting someone.  While it’s still emails, fade away is fair.  After meeting once, if they don’t contact me, it’s still fair.  But if they do I will directly say, I had fun, you seemed nice, but I don’t want to do it again.  Good luck! (ok, I’ll be a bit nicer, but I’ll still be direct).

 

So today I tried that for the first time.  AND I FEEL GREAT.  I have a cheerful glow about me.  I sang the whole drive home.

The guy: works in tech.  Seems very nice, we watch a lot of the same shows and movies, so something to talk about, he suggests dinner at a restaurant I like, so yummy. 

We meet.  He goes in for a hug right away.  I decide I do not wish to be hugged by a stranger, put my arms up in front of my body and say that I am not comfortable hugging someone I’ve just met.  Because I’m not.  I then smile cheerfully say it’s nice to meet him and that I’m starving, let’s go eat! Yes, it’s awkward, and he clearly feels it.  I do a little bit, but somehow I feel a hell of a lot better than I ever have when I let someone hug me to avoid hurting their feelings.  Because this time, the person who created the problem is also having to deal with it, instead of just me.  And because this time, I dealt with it, and I made it clear what I wanted.  I don’t know why that transformed it, but although this sounds totally awkward, and it was a little bit, I felt fine, and comfortable and in control.  Awkwardness was external to me, and I was not helpless victim to it.

The menu:  Ok, this was fair.  Restaurant expanded its menu and it is both long, confusing and entertaining as hell.  But he stared at it for AGES.  and AGES.  AND AGES.  I know it was fair, but sheesh!  I was trying to make small talk and he’s still reading it.  waiters keep walking by and checking to see if we’re ready, but he’s still looking!  Finally I gave up and just read the parts of the menu with stories while he decided what to order.

The conversation: ok, I know I’m not the best at small talk or conversation starters.  But I really tried here.  I asked good conversation starting questions about tv shows we both like.  I asked about what work is like for him.  I told a couple of funny stories from my work.  It was all just no go.  We had a good discussion of chopsticks.  And another one about active listening.  But most of the meal?  Not so much.  Lots of silence.  Toward the end, I just gave up on meaningful conversation and figured I might as well give him a good complaint for his friends.  And then I started in on the First Amendment.  Which I love and adore and can talk about ad nauseam without any need for external input.

The check: ok, yes, I am poor.  And I would like not to pay.  But I would also feel guilty since clearly nothing was coming of this.  So when he reached for the check I said, thanks that’s really nice of you, but I’d be happier if I paid for my own meal.  AND SO I DID.  (I do have a guilt exception.  If someone suggests a place, I say I can’t afford that let’s go to x instead and they say they’ll pay, that’s fair.  They can then pay and me guiltless.  Because sometimes you just want to eat somewhere and have company so paying for the company is the price of eating where you want.)

He walked me to my car, I thanked him for a nice night and said I’d talk to him.  I did not say lets do this again.  I was prepared to say no then and there if he asked to see me again, but glad I didn’t have to.  If he emails I will say it then.  Nicely.  Clearly.

This all sounds miserable and dull, right?  It does, I know it does.  But you know what?  I was fine.  I was bored, but not miserable, not ashamed, not guilty, not any negative emotion.  I was Toretha, bored.  I wasn’t trying to make it somehting it wasn’t.  I wasn’t trying to make him like me not like me, do anything at all.  I was trying to be a nice, friendly conversationalist, and even though I wasn’t succeeding, I was ok with that.  Because you know what?  Not. My. Problem.  I’m trying, and he’s not talking.  And that’s fine.  That’s cool.  I don’t need to fix anything, it’s not about me, and I didn’t have guilt.  Even though at least part of his silence was probably him feeling awkward about the not hug.  His emotions, not mine.

I will not see him again.  Yes, he seemed like a nice guy.  Yes, I’m sure he is interesting and cool and probably just felt awkward and shy and could probably overcome these things.  But I didn’t see anything that made me think a second time would be more fun than staying at home, and it’s not my job to help him overcome his awkward and shy.  This is assuming he asks, which, given that dinner, I think well may not happen. 

Despite all this?  I drove home glowing.  And happy and relaxed and singing gleefully along with my CD.  Because that felt good.  That felt really, incredibly good.  I said no to what I didn’t want.  I set boundaries, and I didn’t take responsibility for making the other person feel anything at all.  And all that?  Made me feel relaxed and comfortable and able to focus on the simple goal of trying to have a decent conversation.  Sure, I failed at that, but that was the only part I failed at, because I wasn’t trying to make him feel better, or like me, or anything.  I was just trying to be me, assertive, honest and talking to another person.  And guess what?  Being an assertive and honest bitch who makes the other person feel like awkward crap?  Beats the HELL out of being the nice girl who lets the nice shy guy hug her to keep the rest of the meal from being awkward.  Not even a contest.  It doesn’t make sense, because I got a whole meal of awkward rather than a short hug of it, but boy is it true.

BRING IT ON!  I WANT TO TELL THE TRUTH TO MORE PEOPLE!

(In other news I have also been propositioned by a married man.  He told me he liked my smile.  I told him I had this little quirk of not bothering with married people.  He told me I needed to pop my cork.  I told him he needed some ethics and that I wanted no involvement in the nastiness of married people on a dating website.  He just recently responded again to reassure me that he wouldn’t break my heart. Oy.  Narcissus has met his match there.)

My father’s family

This weekend, I went to visit with my father’s family.  Not the whole thing, obviously, just a few.  My uncle has cancer and he was in town.  It seemed like a good idea.  And so it was

I didn’t socializing with new people this week, unless you count my uncle’s friend, who just fit right in and seemed bizarrely comfortable with the family.  I just hung out with the family.  I love how when you get enough together the stories start coming out.  I love hearing the stories of all the things they have done, the happy self-mockery, the stories of each other’s exploits and mistakes and adventures. I wish I knew them all, but am glad that there always seem to be new ones i haven’t heard.

I love my uncles, my aunts, my cousins.  And I love the bitty children of my cousins.

I give up

For a week.

I have to write a brief.  It is long.  And complicated.  And I have to work all weekend to finish.  Soooooo.  No socializing this weekend.

But I do have guilt: When we passed the bar, lol, Bluebook and I were discussing where we should go to celebrate.  Bluebook suggested New Haven, and I said that was fine but if we went there, they would have to walk me and Statute to our cars, since New Haven wasn’t safe.  He said of course, and expressed surprise that I needed to make a point of that.  I said I had been surprised to learn I needed to say it too, but that previously I’d found that other people did not think it necessary to walk girls they were with to the car at night in downtown New Haven, the fourth most dangerous city in the country.  He said the other guys I’d been with were dicks.  I agreed.  We ended up not going to New Haven, due to Statute’s suggestions, and rejoiced all night, and I thought that was the end.

Till I went to lol and Bluebooks for dinner Friday.  Stayed to watch a movie, and it was dark when I left.  As I was going out, both stood up and asked if I needed walking out to my car.  In their apparently safe apartment complex (I’ve never seen a complex so full of families) where the my car was right outside their door.  At the time I did not put this all together, laughed and asked if something dangerous was happening at the apartment.  They said no, but someone should walk me out since it was dark.  Bluebook did.  I thanked him and went home.  But apparently I accidentally gave them both guilt.  And now I’m not sure how to unguilt.

Oops.

Apples and corn

We passed the bar.  Everyone I cared about did.  Poppy who does not like being around so many indians did not.  I cannot find it in me to feel sad.  I got to the ACLU that day and demanded that they give me the craziest intake available to keep me focused.  They did.  I was all set not to start checking till noon, but then Car said his were up by 10:30.  So I started checking as soon as intake was over at 10.  AND THEY WERE UP.  AND I PASSED.  I was so relieved I went quiet.  My hands shook with relief.  Words can’t describe.  I thought I’d be able to work after that but I was useless. I was just so full of adrenaline.  So I took off (with encouragement of Sea, who told me to take the rest of the day off and celebrate.  Being an obedient intern, I did as instructed).  And had lunch with lol to celebrate, hung out with him and….seriously, yall, I refuse to Dr Pepper this.  Bluebook.  Then we all arranged to go out to a bar.  I had a glass of wine and was distinctly tipsy.  And threw cheese in Statute’s boyfriend’s hair (it was so puffy!  I couldn’t help myself!)  WE rejoiced.  We passed.  It was fun.  Bluebook got drunk and insisted repeatedly that I drink huge amounts of water (though I’d only had a glass of wine) while drinking next to none himself, and assuring me that I’d thank him when I wasn’t hung over the next day (I’d already filled my wine glass twice with water and downed it, so I had twice as much water as wine before this started).

Then M suggested a trip to go apple picking and cornmazing.  YAY!

So we all went today, M, K, lol, Bluebook and me.  Parking there was dreadful, and the weather was in the high 80s.  We ran into Awesome, who was in her 3rd year when I started lawschool, and is just Awesome.  She’s great.  She made me feel okay for loving law school, and is just incredible in all that she does.  It was great to see her and her cute new baby who is adorable.

We went through the corn-maze, using a process by which whoever was in front led until they went the wrong way and were then demoted.  I was only allowed to lead twice, partly because I had a tendency to start laughing evily when I led and that made them demote me even before I went the wrong way.  It was good fun, though M wanted to CHEAT.  And use a MAP.

Some people just have no sense of decency.

We eventually found our way out of the maze, right at the point where K, M and I were proposing to occupy the corn maze in protest of its environmental impact.  It was sad.

So we went to go pick apples!  But we all wanted to cook with them and they didn’t have Macs!  Or Granny Smith, but I don’t cook with those.  It’s a family thing.  So we decided to pick a few of each kind of apple, thereby securing at least some right apples for our pies, cakes and crisps.  We wandered the aisles of apples, plucking them as suited us.  lol tried to throw apples at me, because I mentioned in the car that last time I went apple picking everyone knocked apples down on me.  So not okay, apples HURT.  Then we went home.

The upshot?  Good fun.  M and K are a lot of fun to be around.  Nothing new on other fronts.  I’m not sure if this counts as a socializing effort, but it’s a chance at new friends, so I’ll give it a close enough.  Maybe the church has a young adult group I can join?

 

 

 

Week four: I bare my belly button

This weekend I did two things: Garba then Renaissance fair.  At both I was rather skimpily, but beautifully clad.

Garba:

Garba is an Indian holiday.  It involves a LOT of dancing.  In very very pretty outfits.   Statute invited me.  I was going to be a third wheel to her and her boyfriend (they’re both lovely, but being third wheel at a dancing event is dreadful) and expressed discomfort with this (not the least because the fun dance requires a partner).  So she persuaded a friend of hers, Poppy to come.  So I came.

(An aside about Poppy that makes me happy EVERY time I think of it.  Statute was in India buying dresses for me and Poppy and she showed her mum one she was considering for me.  Her mother looked at it, and told her, “No, it’s not good enough for Toretha.  Give it to Poppy.”)

My dress is glorious.  It is totally awesome.  It is black background with red and golden brown patterns on it, and sparkly beads sewn all over it.  They fit into the pattern and aren’t overly gaudy, but when I spin in it, they pick of the light and I am covered in sparkles.  The skirt flows to the ground, long and full and perfect for twirling: wide enough to do what I like, but heavy enough that it won’t come immodestly high when I twirl.  The blouse is patterned the same as the skirt, fits my perfectly, and ties very prettily in the back, with a flap you can fold back to show your back, or fold forward to hide a bra strap.  And the scarf is a brighter red that complements it perfectly.  I adore it completely.

So, Statute told me to meet them at Poppy’s place and we’d get ready together.  Statute did our hair, we all put on our pretty outfits then all of us, and oh?  Poppy’s bringing a boyfriend?  WE two couples and the fifth wheel set off.  Statute also forbade me and Poppy from covering our bellies with the scarf like last year.  She said this year we had outfits that were meant to compliment bare belliedness and we had the bellies to do that.  I felt mildly awkward but got over it.  Poppy who had no reason to feel even mildly awkward fussed and fussed.

Poppy wanted to bring an extra car, and leave later, so we arrived first.  Got food.  Not very good, last year was WAAAAY better.  After we’d eaten, we went looking for Poppy, we’d figured she and boy would find us in the cafeteria when they arrived.  No go.  Statute and I, being skimpily and pocketlessly clad hadn’t cellphones, so Statute’s boyfriend eventually got the call.  Poppy concluded that Statute and I would naturally wait outside for her.  THis might sound reasonable, but I will tell you why it is not.

One: Poppy had said she was going to be late and we said we were leaving now so as not to miss things.

Two: Our outfits were beautiful but very belly button baring.  It was Quite Cold outside.  No way in hell.

Three: Poppy’s reason for wanting us to wait: it was because she was uncomfortable going  into a group of that many Indians without Statute.  She said this.  Repeatedly and angrily, upon discovering that we hadn’t waited.  This made me uncomfortable.  In fact, throughout the night she reprised this theme of too many indians I am afraid of them.  Despite the fact that they were all lovely.  Complimentary on our appearance, on how nicely we were trying, and how well we were doing for being inexperienced, and generally totally friendly.  (Except to Statute and her boyfriend, who  a few people stopped to scowl at ferociously.  Statute didn’t notice.  Boyfriend did.  I did too, and smiled cheerfully at scowlers just to annoy them).

We danced.  I sucked, as always.  But I have fun sucking when I know what i’m trying to achieve, and I didn’t mess up the line too much or bump into people too much, so I had fun.  Poppy whinged about how she didn’t know if she could do it right.  Poppy’s boy was a perfectly gentleman, polite, graciously dealt with Poppy’s brattiness and threw himself enthusiastically into the dancing.  Way too good for her.  When the fun dancing (with sticks!  You hit sticks and twirl!  I LOVE IT) came, I didn’t have a partner for a while.  I joined some kids doing it, then Statute came and grabbed me into a line when someone stepped out to get a drink of water.  It was GREAT.  I had so much fun, and actually pretty much did it right.  lovely.

Result: I’d forgotten how good it feels to do things that make me live inside my body.  I need to so that more.  I feel asleep still counting the dance to drumbeats in my head.

Day two: RenFair.

I love RenFaires. And no one up here was free to play but Lol, and he wouldn’t enter into the spirit of it properly.  No spontaneous joy from him.  So, I figured, dress up pretty, go, play, see if I meet people.

In the spirit of bellybuttonbaring, it was a warm day, so I put on my favorite outfit: long green embroidered skirt, with matching halter top.  Bellybutton and back baring.  My hair was gorgeous: still straight at the top so the chestnut gleamed and falling in perfectly articulated waves at the ends.  I went.  I wandered.  I saw plenty of guys checking me out.  I smiled friendlily at them, in a come and talk to me fashion.  But I clearly do not give off the right vibe, for nary a one did.  But I had fun anyway.  I talked with the performers, and the stall people, and people in line.  I insulted the Cardinal and the Pope, bought an indulgence, joined in the cheering and heckling at the shows, shot arrows, fell off the impossible to climb ladder so enthusiastically I got applause, bought bizarre jams, and generally had a lovely time.

But, seriously?  WHY DO I NOT HAVE THE VIBE? Guys were absolutely checking me out, guys my own age, for a pleasant change!  I looked hot!  I smiled friendly!  I was clearly geeky and enthusiastic!  I WAS TOTALLY APPROACHABLE!

Dammit.

 

Week Three: The Big E

This week: Big E.
No contra dancing happened this week; the only ones happening were too far away.  So instead I went to the Big E, which is a fair.  I’m not sure this entirely counts as socializing, since I went with lawschool people.  But, except for Lol, it was lawschool people I don’t know much.  It was a girl a kind of know and think is nice who organized it, and I went with her, her boyfriend, another girl from the school and Lol.  Another friend of mine who I need a shorter name for than the one we’ve been using (three words is just too long, yall) was supposed to come, but didn’t at the last minute, due to an excessive workload.  He sounded miserable in a worrisome way.
But the day was fun!  And HOT!  Jeez, was it hot!  We drove up to Massachusetts, parked far away and walked to the fair, meeting up with Lol on the way.  We then proceeded to wander.  First to the barn (cows!  sheep!  fiber booth with some of the crappiest drop spindles I’ve ever seen!).  Lol complained that the 4H show was terribly depressing because the cows would probably just be slaughtered.  Lame.  Many of those cows are pampered pets, as I know well from my cousins 4H shows.  We then watched sheep shearing (lol complained that it was mean to the sheep.) and wandered in search of alpaca, finding only a giant butter sculpture.
So we went off to the section of the fair where the various northern states have buildings, showcasing what makes their state cool.  M wanted a candle that smelled of campfire (she’d found one the year before) but alas, none to be found.  I picked up a balsam scented bar of soap that fills me with glee.  M and her boyfriend split a lobster roll from Maine, and we all stood in the RIDICULOUSLY long line (it curved round and around filling a tent outside before going inside again)  for Maine baked potatoes.  Good, but not worth it.
By the time we got our potatoes I was so hot it was making me sick to eat them so I dashed back inside to get water.  One bottle I drank, the other I poured on my head at periodic intervals.  It helped.  And provoked laughter, but that’s fair enough.
We wandered craft booths.  We found an alpaca booth which was so incredibly soft that we girls stayed there forever, fondling the fur products (which no alpacas had to die to make cause you just sheer them, like sheep).  We went to the petting zoo and fed the animals.  I begged for an elephant ride but everyone else said elephants were mistreated so I shouldn’t ride them and generally shamed me into not.  I instead communicated with the elephant through the bars.  He had nice, patient eyes with mountains behind them.
We played games: M tried to get lol to win toys for all of us.  He wasn’t having any, but everyone had fun losing at the games.  No one but me and M wanted to try rides, so we only did one: a swing one that went up in the air and around in circles and was AWESOME!
Overall, a good day, despite the heat headache and nausea.  We’ll see if friends come out of it.
A plan for later:
I would really like to have a paperchase.  Where one person is the fox and takes confetti (only we’d use something less littery) and runs off in the woods and leaves a trail of the paper (that is liable to be blown by the wind, to make it fun) and the others wait, then try to follow the trail.  You do it over a fair distance, the chasers trying to catch the fox and the fox trying to make it to the endpoint.  I think this sounds like jolly good fun: you can do for being fast but leaving a clear trail or being sneaky but going slower!  How good!