Thursday, 23 August 2012

School work

Hopeful  8    Hopeless  2

This is going to be me until it is all done.
I thought it was high time I wrote a little note to people reading my blog to let you know that I am not going to be posting in the next week or so.  I am swamped with assignments for school that are due in the imminent future.  It is really the only thing I am able to focus on at the moment.  Since I went for tea with Steven (which I promise to blog about as soon as I can!), I have not been on any dates.  So like the guys on my list, you will have to wait until my school work is complete before I can resume my project.

Sorry for this break in the story.  I hope it will not be of long duration.  I will get back to you as soon as I am able.

In the meantime, stay Hopeful ;)


Saturday, 18 August 2012

The First One I Canceled On

Hopeful 7     Hopeless 2

I decided to title this entry "The First One I Canceled On" because in general, I have been amenable when asked out on dates, but there were a few hiccups with Patrick.  It happens sometimes that one person proposes a day and time and it doesn't work for the other person.  This can also happen more than once.  The first time he gave me I agreed to; it was to be before he went on vacation.  Somehow, between him and his buddy, he got his departure time wrong, so he had to reschedule me.  In theory, I was supposed to keep the following weekend open to see him.  However, in the meantime, my parents were having friends over for dinner on Saturday and I needed to be home to help clean and entertain.  On Friday, I had arranged to meet Amin for the first time.  That would've left that Sunday, but three social activities three days in a row I know is too much for me.  So when Patrick asked again about my availability on the weekend, I had to reschedule him for the following week.  It felt like canceling, though the plans had never actually been definite.  I felt like I gave him quite a hard time, not only about the day, but then I had to decline his offer to go for a walk on Mount Royal.  Like with Sia, I had to explain to him that a walk is no good for me in summer.  He seemed stunned and possibly put off by that in his response, but he agreed to coffee, so we were in business.

He proposed that we got to Nocochi.  I was glad it was somewhere I was familiar with; I had gone there for tea with Stella before.  I had planned to wear my new mint green sundress and here was a pretty place to wear it to.  The other advantage of Nocochi is that it is small, so perfect for a first meeting; you are sure to find your date quickly without having to sift through a large crowd.  When I arrived, there was only one person inside, so I was in luck.  I was very uncertain, though, because the man sitting down was staring down at the table (at the menu as it turns out).  Hoping I wouldn't be entirely embarrassing myself, I walked up to the table he was seated at and said, "Patrick?"  He looked up and I thought it couldn't be him, but he answered to his name.  His profile picture was so unlike him!  I had already extended my arm to shake his hand and said my name to confirm my identity for him.  He asked me if I was okay because he said I sounded out of breath.  He had seen right through to my anxiety in a moment.  The entire time I was traveling to meet him, I couldn't keep my nerves under control.  I had a book to read, but I couldn't concentrate.  I had to keep telling myself to breathe over and over.  It is the most nervous I have been to date.

It turns out that I had nothing to worry about.  The conversation flowed with ease and the exchange was pretty equal.  We settled the question of my health straight away because he was still very puzzled at my declining to go for a walk with him.  I am not sure I explained my situation all that adeptly (some days I am better at describing it than others), perhaps because I was doing so in French.  I hope most of what I had to say was not lost in translation.  He spoke a few short sentences in English here and there which I answered, but we always reverted back to French.  He told me about his work experience, which was interesting.  Although he is much more settled than I am at this point, he is contemplating going back to school for a master's degree, which would put us more in the same place in life.  It seems that we share a lot of the same values and have similar temperaments.  We both seem to be shy and not all that experienced when it comes to dating and not looking just to date anything that moves.  It also turns out that we both have difficult relationships with our fathers (this is not something I like to spill very quickly; oftentimes you can go months or years knowing me without my talking about it).  I was surprised at myself for saying something about it, but Patrick was actually estranged from his Dad for some time, so I figured this was a sensitive subject and we didn't dwell on it.  But essentially I think there would be a lot of sympathy and possibly empathy there between us.

When my hour and a half expired, which usually like clockwork turns out to be pumpkin time, I found myself not ready to leave.  This was the first time I had this reaction.  I just felt that the conversation was so pleasant in general that I was not ready for it to stop yet.  I wasn't prepared to get up and put an end to it.  So I stayed another hour because it was enjoyable.  Yes, shocking: my first seriously enjoyable date.  We each paid for our own tea and Patrick walked me back, which was just perfect for my comfort level.  However, it's at this point that the conversation began to die down.  After all, we had been talking a better part of the afternoon at this point.  The silence didn't feel awkward to me, especially since we were walking.  But it got to the point where we were parting ways and I was not coming out with anything particularly suitable to say.  I told him I was glad to have met him, which I sincerely was.  I am not sure how genuine it came off to him.  I think he was hesitant about what to say as well.  In any case, here he kind of touched my left arm and I understood he wanted his "kiss-kiss".  Oh bother; I had managed to skip it earlier, but here I had to oblige.  I waved and headed off in the opposite direction.

I was smiling on my way home.  It had been a very pleasant afternoon.  Whether or not Patrick is dating material, it was a positive social experience for me and it made me realize how starved I am for them!  The other realization that hit home on my way back was less positive.  A sudden thought occurred to me that made me feel awful.  It almost ruined the entire scenario.  I couldn't believe it had taken me that long to see it, but Patrick reminded me of my ex boyfriend.  My ex, who we will call Frédéric, was a black belt in karate.  Patrick had been telling me about his avid interest in martial arts, but he is not currently taking classes and never amassed many skills in any particular style.  It was like a slap in the face to see the parallel: two martial arts guys.  What gave me a complete sinking feeling, though, was that the similiarities also extended to their personalities.  Patrick had told me about how his last boss helped him come out of his shell and be more confident.  I was brought back to how Frédéric constantly talked about "improving himself", working on his self-esteem, his self-confidence, his leadership skills and etc., yet no matter how many self-improvement classes he takes or how many new-age mantras he says, he never actually gains real insight into himself and constantly runs from his problems.  I was freaked out to think that Patrick was a three years older version of Frédéric.  This put a bit of a damper on an otherwise lovely afternoon.  It made me think that I will have to be on the lookout for familiar signs, because I don't want a repeat performance of Frédéric.  I will have to see how truly "improved" Patrick is.  He doesn't have to be perfect, but he can't have major confidence issues.  I will have to wait and see how this unfolds... 

P.S.  For those who are wondering, like my Mom, sister and girl friends often do, there is actually an answer to the question "Well, is he good looking?" this time.  I found Patrick good looking.  I was stunned; this is such an infrequent occurrence for me.  I don't find every other guy good looking.  Usually it only happens as often as I like a guy (which is not often at all!) and usually only because his appearance improves as my affection for him grows.  This reminds me of a Rodgers & Hammerstein song: Do I love you because you're beautiful, or are you beautiful because I love you?  Truly, most of the time, a guy is beautiful if I love him, so this being "beautiful" all on his own is a little new for me...

Saturday, 11 August 2012

Rainy Days and Mondays

Hopeful 6  Hopeless 4

To date, I have been making mostly cheerful entries in my blog.  I think it is good to include a less cheerful one to give a more balanced view.  I do have days when I'm not so hopeful.  I am taking the opportunity in this entry to talk about how I was feeling yesterday.  The hopeful-hopeless scale is set up today to show how I was feeling on that very gloomy day.  The sun never really came up and later in the day, it rained a lot.  I was thinking of the song, "Hangin' around, Nothing to do but frown, Rainy days and Mondays, Always get me down".  It was one of those days where you have trouble getting yourself up and going, motivated to do anything at all.  I just put on some comfy, soft clothes and went to be quiet in my room.

I thought it must be a combination of the weather and hormones that made me feel sad.  There were little actual circumstances to explain my feelings.  They were flitting in different directions all at once, with the occasional lucid thought.  I cannot seem to recall any specific thoughts I was having, though a few did surface, some more or less rational and others complete nonsense.  It was one of those days where it is decidedly not fun to be single.  Much as I'm happy on my own most of the time, there are days when it feels lonely and incredibly sad.  Sometimes on such days, you feel like you're going to be perpetually single, that for the rest of your life you will never have a romantic relationship.  Hence "hopeless" being at a higher number than usual!

So I followed my typical ritual yesterday.  I ended up with a chocolate craving (go figure!) and so I raided the kitchen for some.  I had decided that I should wait till after lunch for a chocolate Drumstick (since it was past 11 in the morning after all).  I sought out some small bit of chocolate that was not cold and chewable (hot chocolate was not going to suffice).  I found some forgotten Ferrero Rochers, so I ate the three that were available.  The other recommendation I always make to my girl friends when they are feeling thus is a movie.  I sat at my desk and took a bit of time to browse for something new (I am adept at finding movies to watch online).  I ended up with a Hallmark film entitled The Twelve Dates of Christmas.  I know that it's not December, not even July, but I have found that these random Christmas films I find online are usually good any time of the year.  You may think that it sounds like a dumb movie, but it was better than I expected.  The main focus is about a lady healing her life, which is never a bad thing. 

I cried a couple of times.  Call it hormones, but it did help release some of these upsetting feelings I had (I do believe in cinematherapy).  The only thing I didn't do for myself, which again I usually recommend to my friends, is tea.  I suppose I had tea with lunch, but I have a special "feel better" tea.  By the afternoon, though, I seemed to be feeling better.  The motivation to do my school work, which was the truly important thing, seemed to be coming back.  At first, I was pushing myself to get back to the homework, but then I gained momentum and kept it for the rest of the day.

I'm not sure where those feelings vanished to so quickly.  Usually it takes me longer for them to pass.  I guess I was lucky yesterday.  I know for sure that I was feeling depressed about my date this coming Tuesday.  I had set this one on Thursday, talking to Steven on facebook.  He is the guy I mentioned early in my blog, the one who "let his politics and strong views on the student strikes interfere with common courtesy and respect".  I was stunned to receive a message from him about resuming our outing for tea.  He had asked me in June and I had accepted, somewhat reluctantly.  I was trying to keep an open mind.  However, he canceled on me most unexpectedly at the last minute with some freak emergency (the nature of which he never revealed to me).  Then he didn't attempt to reschedule, so I did not press for it.  A little bit later, he made an insulting comment on a facebook status of mine.  I deleted the comment immediately, not feeling it possible to reply to such a remark.  I was so upset, I took my Mom's advice and blocked him on chat (she would've unfriended him, but it was not possible for me to do that yet).  So, to respond to his request, I put him off for a couple of weeks, saying I was unavailable (which was also true, given that I have been meeting Plenty of Fish people).  So Thursday, I found him online and said I might have an opening for him this coming week.  He was happy and when we had set a time and place, he said "mihi placet" (Latin for "it pleases me").  The entire time I was talking to him, I was ruffled by things he was saying and when I read the phrase "mihi placet", the first word that came to my mind was: VOMIT.  The thought of spending time with him makes me somewhat sick, however it would be better for me to go than not.  The reason I am going is because, from the very beginning, I have tried not to rock the boat.  I know I am bound to run in to him as I take my classes over the next year.  I am particularly bound to see him during the finishing of the Winter term and at the general assembly meetings where the strike votes will take place.  It will be much easier on me, then, if we keep an okay rapport, especially while the strike business continues.  After that, if I still find him rather insupportable, I can tell him where to go shove it.  Someone needs to explain to him that he doesn't know how to talk to people adequately and that he needs to learn; he is almost entirely devoid of social skills in my opinion.  I am not going to be the person to reform him, but he needs someone with the patience to do so.  In the mood I was in yesterday, thinking of going to tea with him made me not only want to vomit, but it also made me sad.  I was sad, because in my strange mood, I wondered things like: "Why is it that only the dysfunctional guys are ever interested in me?"  This is absurd and my current project has disproved such irrational ideas.

The other thing that was bothering me, very clearly, was Giles.  I haven't mentioned him much in my blog, but he has been much in my thoughts.  I have been trying to think of him less, especially to be fair to the guys from Plenty of Fish, but I am being more or less successful.  In fact, since I have started this project, I believe I have been thinking about him more.  I was feeling calmer about the situation and he was not appearing so often at the forefront of my mind.  In the early days of my project, when I described the "rejection" feeling, Giles was part of that.  I felt sick contemplating going on a date with other people.  It didn't feel right at all.  When I would be nervous just before a date, I found myself repeating his name in my head to try to calm down.  He always makes me feel comfortable and serene; in fact, within a certain radius of him, I don't think it is possible to feel anxious, given the amount of positive energy he exudes.  It reminded me of something that Snow White said in a little cartoon I've been watching to practice my Italian: "Tutte le volte che sono triste e che mi succede qualcosa di brutta, pensando a te, trova la forza per andar'avanti, aspetando il momento in cui ti potrò videre..." (Every time I feel sad or something bad happens to me, thinking of you, I find the strength to move forward, waiting for the moment in which I will be able to see you).  I was a bit off my nut yesterday, feeling like crying every time I checked my e-mails and not seeing one from Giles.  He is having a very busy summer in Europe and is not able to write me very often.  I know this and am happy for the opportunity he's been given right now.  However, some days I find it hard to wait to hear his news.  Some days, I really miss him and wish that there was a new message from him.  I am sure I will continue to explain why Giles is such an important person to me as my blog unfolds; one paragraph can hardly do him justice.

Today I have continued to feel better.  My mood has faltered a bit this evening, though.  I watched Emma today, which was probably not very prudent (because the age gap between Emma and Mr. Knightley is identical to that between me and Giles).  I really do wish that the rain and thunderstorm weather would clear up.  I am sure it would do my spirits a lot of good.

Thursday, 9 August 2012

Thank you

Hopeful  8  Hopeless  2

I wanted to make this post to thank everyone for their support.  I have reached over 200 pageviews this week :)  It makes me very glad that people are reading my blog.  Thank you!

I also wanted to give extra special thanks to my friends and family who have been offering me words of encouragement through this process.  Thank you to my Mom and my sister for their advice.  Thank you to my friends who have leant a sympathetic ear, who have rejoiced and who have been indignant at all the right moments.  I would also like to mention my friend Colleen in particular, who told me about a couple of weeks ago that she was very proud of me for undertaking this project.

Everyone's kindness is very much appreciated :)  Thank you.

Love & hugs,

Elise xoxoxo

First One I Asked Out

Hopeful  8   Hopeless  2

Here I thought that all the guys would beat me to the chase when it came to asking to meet.  I was corresponding with Amin last week and it just seemed so logical for me that we should meet.  We had actually been talking about the anxiety of the first date/meeting, the dos and don'ts.  I sensed he wanted to meet me, but that he was nervous.  He was not hinting or asking, I am guessing for being nervous and perhaps because he is very respectful.  He wasn't going to ask me, I thought, so I decided I should ask him.  Interesting: here was the first guy I was actually curious about meeting.

So I proposed in an e-mail titled "on minimizing anxiety" that we meet.  I suggested we meet as friends to essentially eliminate the date pressure.  We both believe that friendship is the best foundation for a romantic relationship, so it made sense to me.  We also established the mode of greeting: the handshake, which suits both of us.  He had explained to me that it is part of his culture to take the other person out when you issue an invitation, but that this causes some stress as he is always uncertain as to how it will be received.  I thought in that case that we should also establish that beforehand.  I said that to make things simple, we should both get our own coffee as friends, as equals.  Then I suggested that we see the last fireworks of the summer.  We had talked about them and he had described them as "relaxing"; anything to make him feel more relaxed and at ease I felt was in order.  I was also comfortable enough to ask him on a bigger date than the others.  From the start, he has made me feel comfortable and like I can trust him.

He was elated when he e-mailed me back to accept.  He thought it was a great idea and was really looking forward to it.  I could tell that really made him happy, so I was glad I asked.

Friday evening when we met, I did not recognize him right away.  I thought it might be him, but since he was at a distance, I was still unsure.  He, however, seemed to know me instantly; he was looking at me and walking straight towards me.  We shook hands as promised and got on our way.

We met for coffee briefly, then headed to the bridge.  He was very solicitous, asking once or twice whether I was okay to continue or whether I was getting tired.  We were about twenty minutes early, which gave us ample time to pick a spot, but not all that much selection!

The conversation was not as easy as I had expected.  We had agreed in one of our e-mails that when you build up some electronic correspondence, you actually have things to talk about when you meet in person.  But the Amin with so many thoughts and ideas in his e-mails was conspicuously absent.  I got to see the shyer aspect of his personality (which I had gleaned a little from his messages).  I found myself stimulating the majority of the conversation across the evening.  I worried I was saying way too much blah-blah especially about my health (because I literally have hours-worth of stories I can produce at will on that subject) and that the exchange was not terribly equal.  Amin however reassured me that I was "not talking too much" and apologized for not being more talkative.  He explained that it occasionally takes him awhile to acclimate before he speaks.  I told him that I understand that and it is also my experience in certain social settings.

Considering that, it was difficult to form an impression.  My friends asked me, "So?  What's he like?  Did you like him?"  It is not possible for me at this time to offer much of a reply.  What did impress me, though, was that he walked me to my bus and waited with me for it to arrive.  He was concerned about my getting back, but I assured him I'd be all right.  He earned major points right there.  They say that sometimes what you do is much more important than what you say; I certainly took note!

Before I went to sleep, he e-mailed to say thank you for suggesting a great outing.  He added: "you were as nice as I expected".  That is my absolute favourite way to end a day, to read something cheerful.  There was the Amin I had been waiting to surface, always with something thoughtful to say.

There may be some of you reading this wondering how it is possible that I could speak so neutrally about such a romantic occasion as seeing the fireworks.  To you, I answer that it was not set up as a romantic activity, firstly.  That certainly changed the dynamic, to be meeting as friends.  If it had not been construed that way, I would not have gone with Amin.  I believe, however, while watching the fireworks, that I felt a couple of tingles.  We were sitting on the cinder blocks on the bridge, each resting our hands beside us for balance and I thought I felt a shock of energy pass between my hand and his, as though it were a scene in a movie.  However, I am certain that this was simply brought on by the energy of the fireworks.  It serves nothing to draw conclusions from such an occurrence at the present time.  I may feel actual tingles at a later date or I may not.  The ones experienced on the bridge do not signify anything whatsoever.

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Second Date

Hopeful  8   Hopeless 2

Let me immediately reassure anyone who read this title and thought "NO WAY!" : this was not a second date with Brian.  This was my second date in my project.  So it was a first date with another guy.  Last Monday, I met Siavash, who had in truth been the first to ask me to meet him.

This time, I decided to give myself more input in the decision-making about how the date should take place.  I asked Siavash if we could meet in the afternoon.  That is truly my best time of day.  I also feel like it is a better time for a first date than the evening because it just feels safer.  He agreed immediately and suggested that we take a walk before going for coffee.  Here it was very important for me to express my preference.  See, here is the part where you say to yourself: I do not know this person and I would not want to go for a walk with them in a park where there may or may not be enough people around.  I had another practical consideration also: I do not do well in the heat.  Passing out on the first date would not have made a great first impression!  I put it to him that way and explained that it would be better for me if we stayed in the air-conditioning.  He was very amenable and agreed to meet me at my favourite Starbucks downtown.

I was fortunate to arrive fifteen minutes before 3:00.  That was much better than being late like when I went out with Brian!  It is perfect, because it allowed me to get my drink without there being any question of Siavash getting it for me.  I processed through the long line and sat myself down at a table somewhere very visible.  I would have stood near the entrance to make myself more visible, but I was not feeling very good that day, so I knew I had to sit down.  My energy was low and my trembling had returned.  Luckily, Siavash saw me pretty much upon arrival and we recognized each other right away.  I remained seated and shook his hand, explained to him that I had thought to grab a table before the place filled up and that I would see him in a few minutes.  Well handled, I must say!

I was satisfied with how this date turned out.  It was pleasant to meet someone who was nice and intellectual; I enjoyed our conversation.  Since he was curious, I told him about my childhood and that afforded us the opportunity to laugh at certain stories.  He told me about his studies and his research.  It turns out that, like Amin, he moved here to study and has been here three years.  Like Amin, he is looking to stay here and his sister and her husband (his best friend; yes, I found this rather endearing!) may also join him ere long.  I told him a bit about my studies too, but mostly about my illness for him to understand my limitations and such.  I don't like to start with glum news (which is why I didn't include it directly in my Plenty of Fish profile), but it is important for someone who wants to get to know me better to know about that.  He kept saying, "I'm sorry"; I told him it wasn't his fault I was sick, and he laughed and said that he just feels sorry that I have to contend with it and that it cost me two years of school.  But he was very respectful about it and seemed to be cool with it.  The conversation was much more equally divided than when I met Brian and it flowed with ease.

After about an hour and a half, we both felt we should be moving along.  Doubtless, he had to get back to his lab and I was expected at home.  I got instant feedback on what he thought of me.  He told me that he is a very "honest" person - the word he was searching for was "direct".  He said that he is up front with people about things in general, but particularly as pertains to the Plenty of Fish process.  He explained that he had met a couple of girls before and neither of them had been compatible and that he had advised them of that promptly.  He said that otherwise, if you are not open with people, you are wasting their time and also your time as well.  So he had no problems telling me that he enjoyed meeting me and talking with me and that he should like to see me again.  I suppose I passed his test!  I echoed his sentiments, but explained that I am only able to have a social outing at most twice per week and that thus I was booked last week and possibly this week also.  He was understanding about this, but it did not diminish his eagerness to meet me again and he urged me more than once to let him know when I was next available.

We left it on that positive note.  On the way back to the metro, I had him confirm how to pronounce his name for me.  I am glad I didn't embarrass myself with my incorrect version!  He reminded me that his friends call him Sia, so I figured it was high time I adopt that.  For a good hour afterwards, I was smiling.  I couldn't stop thinking how very pleasant it was.  It was worlds better than my first experience meeting someone I had met on Plenty of Fish and I was pleased.

*** An unfortunate circumstance occurred after this date.  Somewhere on my way back home, I lost my wallet.  Unhappily for me, my credit card was compromised before I could cancel it.  This has been discouraging and an as of yet unfinished saga.  It has been eating into my time significantly this week.  It has made me wonder why, but I have yet to find a reason for this turn of events.  But no, I did not take this as a sign that I shouldn't see Sia or that I shouldn't date.  Being as hopeful as I can for now.

Friday, 3 August 2012

First Instant Messages

Hopeful  7   Hopeless  3

Now that I correspond with Plenty of Fish people from my e-mail address, I have had to tackle the instant message question.  On Plenty of Fish, I was asked from the first few minutes I had created my profile to chat live.  I had ignored all chat requests as previously explained because I was overwhelmed with messages.  Now this is no longer the case, so the question has come back.

So the instant messaging is now beginning to develop in parallel with everything else.  I am still receiving e-mails from some of the guys.  I have begun to get requests to meet some.  At the same time, I am now beginning to chat live as well!

It turns out that only three of the guys I am currently corresponding with have MSN capability.  They are Thomas (who first wrote me about being Catholic), Seb (who first wrote me about linguistics) and Alex (the History student slash guitarist slash writer).  Thomas added me, Seb asked me to add him and when Alex asked me if I used MSN, I added him.  Thomas caught me online first.  When I saw "caught", that is exactly the way to describe it.  I was checking my pseudonym e-mail and all of a sudden I noticed that a chatting box had popped up on me.  I hate it when hotmail decides for you that you are online!  I am online if I sign in to MSN and not otherwise already!!  So I apologized to him for not seeing his message right away and explained that I hadn't noticed that hotmail had signed me in.  When he asked me what I was up to, I very honestly told him that I was on my way to bed because it was getting late for me.  I didn't just want to blow him off, but I did really want to sleep.  He was very understanding, though and I promised to catch up with him later.

Saturday was my first conversation with Seb.  It was also late, but I was too warm to sleep, so since I was up anyways, I talked to him for awhile.  We chatted about school and classes mostly, then a little bit about movies at the end.  On Sunday, our conversation was mainly about pets and allergies.  It seems he has a cat, a dog and a bird and I thought we had a zoo with three cats and one dog!  Talking to him means that the subjects are fairly general and pretty "safe".

My first real conversation with Thomas, though (also on Sunday), was more serious.  He began to ask a few questions like what I was looking for in a guy and such.  I pulled out my famous answer from Secondary Four Spanish class when the teacher asked us to describe our "chico ideal": honest, loyal, intelligent, respectful.  I know that sounds very general, but I think it covers most everything; it applies to so many particulars, one of which I expanded to show Thomas just how all-encompassing those few words are.  He is pretty much looking for the same thing as me.  Though we are on the same page there and share some other commonalities, there were a few topics he raised that have given me pause.  Though I have a lot of compassion for his background (which I won't get into here out of respect for his privacy) and could quite probably deal with it as a friend, I am not sure I would be okay with it as his girlfriend.  I might need a bit more stability from a boyfriend than Thomas can provide.  Our conversation lightened up towards the end, but he also appeared a bit jealous because at that point, I then also had Seb who had signed in and begun talking to me and finally also Alex in yet another window.  I felt bad about that and I truly do not want them to feel they have to compete for me.  I hope they will leave it to me to be as fair as I possibly can be and treat them with utmost respect and sincerity.

Sunday was my first time talking to Alex.  He showed me that he is VERY serious about dating.  After asking me a little bit more about my illness, he began asking me all of the tough questions and we did not get to lighten up the conversation later.  He wanted to know when my last relationship had been.  That's the first time any of them asked me.  It was slightly embarrassing, but I told him the truth.  When I asked him the same question, he did not reveal the exact amount of time, just saying that it "had been quite awhile".  So hopefully that means we are somewhat equal in that respect.  Then to try to explain to him in French what I am looking for in a relationship was a bit difficult.  I find more and more as I get older that it is not really possible for me to express my opinions or feelings in French adequately.  Here we had something lost in translation, so I had to explain to him that looking for "your best friend" in English does not mean you are looking for friendship over a relationship!  Once I explained the entire expression and context for him, he said that was an interesting way of putting it.  So it seems that I mostly got everything I wanted to across.  He asked me if I could send him my display picture so he could see my smile in big.  I had posted one from a trip to Old Orchard Beach because I found it summery.  I told him that it was not a recent photo and that I had long hair in it, but that I could send it to him.  Later, when I thought about it, here was the stereotypical "exchanging pictures" ritual.  I never understood that at all.  In any case, this was just one-way.  I sent him the picture and he said: "je dois avouer que tu es très belle".  I said thank you and literally put the embarrassed smiley. I explained to him that I am not used to being complimented like that; I am so used to being invisible I have still not adjusted to the attention!  I am not sure I was ready for how quickly he wanted to be serious; that is still a question I am asking myself.

I am still not sure how I feel about instant chatting with these guys.  Sometimes it is a good way to get to know people because you get to hear about mundane things (you ask what they're up to while chatting with you) or because sometimes you get them to open up more readily through a screen.  It certainly gives me fewer e-mails to answer, which is helpful.  It is something I like to do when I don't have the time to go out and see people face to face; it gives me some social time even when I am operating on less energy.  Yet, there is something mildly terrifying about it at the moment.  I experienced the most discomfort when talking to Alex for reasons I can't seem to put my finger on at the moment, other than the idea that he seems to like me and appears to want to move quickly.  I think it is probably a double-edged sword to instant message.  I am still able to control it, however and stop entirely if I feel the need to.  For now, I'm sticking with it as long as I do not allow it to keep me up too late!    

Other Reflections

Hopeful  7     Hopeless 3

I have been having a number of miscellaneous thoughts that I don't seem to have included anywhere yet.  I'd like to take the opportunity to post these reflections now.

~ I remember remarking to my friend Stella that Plenty of Fish is like speed-dating.  The rapidity with which you are presented with all these different people is simply astounding.  You can meet so many different people in just one sitting.  So that is why I think it is the online equivalent of speed-dating.

 ~ It is important for women to be careful when dating online and this is something I most definitely have not lost sight of.  I talked about how I chose to protect my personal information.  That is a start.  But women should always remember that predators do use the Internet to their own ends.  No, not everyone you are going to meet is going to be a predator, but you have to be careful all the same; you don't actually know who it is you are meeting, after all.  On my date with Brian, I remained vigilant and observant when we met and as we walked to and from our destinations, particularly since we were meeting in the evening.  I was trying not to appear ultra-tense, but was trying to make sure that at any time, I was ready to scream, run or defend myself (I have learned a few self-defense moves).  My friend George would not be impressed that I did not have a kubaton with me, but I would like him to know that I was very careful and not out with a creep (oh, and for the record, George asked me to call him George, The King of All Awesomeness on my blog; since that is a bit cumbersome, he will hereafter be referred to as Awesome George :). Perhaps I will get one of these for my next evening date. 

~ My first date with Brian did serve as a good warm-up. There were a couple of instances where I clearly did not know what to say.  It has shown me that I need to have a response for a forward guy.  I need to have one planned so that the awkward situation that arose with Brian or one that is worse will be easily remedied.  I also need to be ready about the second date question.  I didn't say much for fear of hurting Brian's feelings and proving all of his notions about how women are high-maintenance or paranoid or simply unapproachable true.  I also need better practice on how to say good bye.  Instead of saying good bye, for some reason "good luck" came out of me.  Obviously I was tired and that pierced more to what I was actually thinking: good luck with other dates and "good luck" in general as in getting dates!  That was a slip I never want to have repeated.  I think there was enough physical distance between us at that point for him not to have heard it very clearly, so I hope he didn't or he mistook it for "good bye" or "good night"!

~ The only intelligent way for women to use Plenty of Fish is to have a hidden profile.  Finally it comes out that women get hundreds of messages a day and that this is not uncommon!  More and more people on the site have told me this.  It also explains why guys are so happy to get a reply, because they send out messages that get lost in the vortex of women's Plenty of Fish inbox!  I mean, I suppose if you need an ego boost, go for it.  It can be flattering to have all these guys writing to you and lavishing you with attention and compliments.  But otherwise, if you don't want to be drowning in messages, hide your profile.  That way you can pick and choose who you want to send messages to.  This is what I didn't get a chance to do and which I sort of regret.  If nothing manages to come from the guys I am corresponding with, I am considering trying this method.  I think it should be equal in the 21st century: women should be able to ask men out too! 

~ I have discovered that online dating is not for me.  I knew that being on Plenty of Fish would be out of my comfort zone.  I knew it would be difficult, but I was sure it could work out for me.  What I found out is that I am really not into it and it is not for me.  I prefer to meet the old-fashioned way: in person.  I prefer to meet someone and get to know them over time.  I prefer to become friends and then to date.  I don't like to say, "Hi.  The only reason I'm meeting you is because I want to date.  Want to date me?"  That is simply not me.  Being true to yourself is one of the most important things to do in a lifetime.

In light of these reflections, I am continuing with the project.  I did say that I am not a quitter.  I also have guys who are talking to me and I owe it to them and to myself to give it a try.  I will continue to update on my progress here as much as possible.

Trying to stay Hopeful,