Monday, 31 December 2012

Happy Thought

Hopeful 8   Hopeless 2

Though this is something I noticed right after the Gardens date, it took me awhile to realize its impact.  I have been trying to keep my blog as chronological as possible, but I think that this theme post needs to be fit in to explain some important progress in my project.  It is something I have not really had the chance to touch upon yet.

For the longest time, my happy thought was Giles.  Every time I thought about him, it made me smile.  His personality and his energy were so positive that just thinking about him, thinking anything at all about him made me feel happy.  People have all sorts of "happy thoughts", things to think about that make them happy.  If you ask my friend Crush, it is certainly "kittens", something she is happy to blurt out at any random moment.  If she further meows, it really makes her happy and she immediately starts giggling.  I would have to agree with her that things like rainbows and kittens are certainly happy thoughts.  Another good example of a happy thought is a cupcake: you cannot be sad or angry when you think about a cupcake.  If you are having a bad day, punch "cupcake" into a Google image search and your day will instantly be brightened by coloured icing and sprinkles.

A happy thought is an instant cure when you are feeling bad.  It is a way to encourage yourself or pick yourself up and get on with your day.  I consider myself a positive person in general and have naturally used the technique of using happy thoughts to feel better since I was little.  So the thought of Giles played this role for me for quite awhile: every time I felt like life was difficult, I would picture him.  I would think of the sound of his voice, the look of his hair or his handwriting.  I would think of the messages we had exchanged (and would actually read them a lot).  I would also say his name over and over inside my head if I was nervous or sad and it would help make me feel calmer.  I believe I mentioned in an earlier post that I even did this before dates.

I was not all that happy about this, because I don't like the idea of a guy being my happy thought.  It makes me feel like I am not sufficiently independent, like I am trying to rely on someone else to make me happy.  That is always a mistake, because happiness comes from within.  If you seek for external things, like material goods or people, to make you happy, you will never truly be happy.  It is something that I have known since I was young and that I have always practiced.  So I objected to having Giles as a happy thought.  I realized that it was still mostly a way for me encouraging myself and that it was not so much Giles himself that was my happy thought.  It was still too close to the border between healthy and unhealthy for my liking.  

That is what changed after the Gardens date.  After the very best date I had ever been on in my life, I found that Giles was barely in my mind anymore.  I could hardly call him to mind the entire weekend when I was in the clouds.  When I settled back into school, starting my new term on October 1st, Giles came back to my mind a little bit.  Yet these thoughts never had the same hold on me after the Gardens date.  Slowly but surely, they began to fade.  What happened is that Giles was no longer my happy thought.  Amin did not replace him as my happy thought.  I was so relieved at that and so happy.  My happy thoughts were my own again.  My happy thoughts were rainbows and kittens and cupcakes and anything I was happy thinking about.  That was a great gift Amin gave me; he cleared Giles from being so present in my thoughts and gave me and my happy thoughts back their independence from men.  I was stunned.  I could hardly believe it, but I was free.  I was just thrilled.

So to all you hopefuls out there, think good Happy Thoughts!

~ Elise    

Chatting With Amin

Hopeful 8    Hopeless 2

After my date with Amin at the Biodome and Botanical Gardens (which I like to refer to as "the Gardens date"), we began to chat online for the first time.  I had added him on facebook and one of the very first things I did was check to see if he was online.  Most everyone I know that chats uses facebook chat, so I was sure I would see him there.  I didn't, though.  I chatted with Stella instead and thought, given how overwhelmed I felt, that it was probably good I wasn't chatting with Amin right at that time.

He e-mailed me when he received the friend request to say thank you for spending the day with him.  When I replied the next day, I asked him in the postscript if he used facebook chat.  He said he hadn't in awhile, but that he would be willing to give it another try.  I had just wanted to ask a simple question, not change his habits and convert him to chatting when it was not his thing.  It would seem, though, that he was determined to chat with me from that point on, no matter what I said on the subject.

So as of Sunday, September 30th, we began to chat on facebook.  Our conversations flowed with just as much ease as in our e-mails and in the Botanical Gardens.  Little did I know that we were beginning a pattern of chatting every day.  We didn't run out of things to say that week and that trend continued.  A week later, he was already talking about being "addicted" to chatting with me.  It was clear to me given how much he liked to chat that he definitely liked me.  I, on the other hand, still felt the same: that he was someone that I was highly compatible with and that I could have pleasant conversations with.  So talking to him was pleasant and I was always happy to find him online.     

It turns out that conversations with Amin were so comfortable, he not only was opening up to me so that I could get to know him better, he actually trusted me enough to confide things in me that he had never told anyone before.  That closeness I felt in the Gardens was definitely still present.  It just kept growing.  Though I continued to feel closer to Amin, I did still maintain certain distance and privacy, as I would with anyone I had known for such little time.  For example, the day that I met Thomas, I neglected to mention it when Amin asked me about my day.  I never liked to discuss dating with any of the Plenty of Fish guys and he was no exception. 

An important revelation did, however, take place that week.  That weekend, I was going to the lake with my family.  I stayed up late on Friday night chatting.  I had stayed up late chatting with some of the Plenty of Fish guys.  I had a tendency to do this with Amin.  I stayed up extra late that night, though.  He was very open with me that day and began talking about our history, which was rather short at that point.  I felt like I was talking to myself a few years back.  I liked to go over the details of pivotal events or conversations I had with Frédéric.  He was not so interested in talking about it; he preferred being in the present moment.  So it is a habit I lost.  My experience had made me think that only girls have such conversations and that guys have no interest in them.  But here Amin was, wanting to talk to me about how much of a fluke it was that he stumbled on my profile.  He told me that he was about to close his Plenty of Fish account.  He had not had any good exchanges and in fact, the process had been pretty jarring for him.  He was about to give up entirely.  It would seem that I was in his "matches".  The other girls he had sent a message to he located using very specific search criteria, criteria that my profile did not match.  I was a year younger than his lower age limit and I had also marked that I "drink socially", so that excluded me from all of his searches.  Those gave him pause when he saw my profile.  What made him stop was my description, which professed that I was open to people from different cultural and religious backgrounds.  That is what made him write me, that and the feeling that he got from my profile.  There was a feeling, a vibe.  He went on to tell me that there was a vibe on our first date.  He began by recalling our first meeting, how it was, what we said, etc.  Then he admitted to the vibes and said that I must think he was crazy.  He told me that he felt a touch on his arms on two different occasions.  One was when we were sitting down on the cinder blocks on the bridge watching the fireworks.  I could not believe what I was reading!  We had felt a very similar, if not identical, sensation on the bridge.  

I told him that he had to read his entry.  He knew of the existence of my blog, but had not been curious to read it.  He was particularly resistant to reading anything about himself.  So I linked him directly to the post and insisted that he read it.  He liked having the feedback; after all, our conversation had been along the lines of comparing notes and recalling the evening.  When he got to the last paragraph and read about the energy I had felt, he asked me if it was real.  I told him to read the post so that he would believe me, that he would believe it was true.  I told him I didn't make it up for my readers and I had him look at the date of the post, which was obviously before he and I had talked about it that evening.  I could not have known what he experienced unless I had felt it too.  My head was spinning.  Staying up late chatting in that case was totally normal and understandable!    

It really goes to show that we could talk about anything at all online.  We were comfortable and we were becoming more and more comfortable.  I was more and more convinced of how I had felt in the Gardens, that Amin was guaranteed to be a very good friend at the very least.  We chatted every day.  On days where we could not chat, like when I was at the lake, we would still exchange messages.  When I was at the lake, he sent me an e-mail every day.  Some people might find that excessive or creepy.  I was a bit concerned myself about the amount we chatted sometimes or that it seemed a day couldn't go by without exchanging messages of some sort.  I kept in mind that this had the potential to become unhealthy and that I would have to be cautious about it.  Yet, at the same time, I found that I was glad to have someone to correspond with and it had been such a long time since I'd had a good friend to do that with.  He answered my e-mails, something that had been in very short supply in recent years.  He wrote long e-mails sometimes, but I related to that.  He allowed me be things like long-winded, things I had tried to suppress around other people not to seem out of place.

So we chatted and chatted and our conversations with each other became a very pleasant addition to our days...  

Tuesday, 25 December 2012

Merry Christmas

Hopeful 8    Hopeless  2

Merry Christmas to all my readers.  I hope you are enjoying a nice celebration with friends and family today.

Sometimes at the holidays, it is not as easy to stay Hopeful.  For whatever reason (usually a combination of factors in my opinion), we can sometimes feel a bit blue at this time of year.  I have had a bit of this over the past few days myself.  I think being tired and having a certain amount of stress leading up to the holiday has a lot to do with it.  So if you are feeling like this, I would like to make a few suggestions.  Instead of listening to songs like "Blue Christmas" or "Last Christmas I Gave You My Heart", try for something more cheerful!  Remember that though you might be feeling a bit lonelier than on other days of the year, you do not require a girlfriend or boyfriend to enjoy Christmas.  In fact, Christmas is about spending time with friends and family, so there are lots of other people to think about and enjoy sharing the holiday with.  So if you can successfully shift your focus, this helps a lot!

If you believe in cinematherapy like I do, you might try A Boyfriend for Christmas (Hallmark).  It has helped me feel more hopeful at many different times of year.  You can live vicariously through Holly if you don't have someone to bring home to meet your family.  Watching it always makes me feel more cheerful and I like the messages it sends, such as meeting a special person occurs "when two hearts are ready".

Always keep in mind that being single at Christmas is just like being single at any other time of year: it is totally fine.  You don't need to be in a relationship to enjoy the day.  There is nothing wrong with you, even if certain relatives look at you funny (which has happened to me), if you don't show up for Christmas dinner with a date.  Just smile and spread Christmas cheer.  

And of course, Stay Hopeful! 

Friday, 21 December 2012

She Who Has Not Been Named

Hopeful  8   Hopeless 3

The inspiration for the title of this post came from my mother.  When I told her about how I had not divulged my name to Thomas yet and that he was really eager to know it, she referred to me as "She Who Has Not Been Named" (a play on "He Who Must Not Be Named" in the Harry Potter series).  I thought it was so funny and so clever that I should post it! 

This date occurred on October 2nd.  As promised, it was Thomas' turn and we had agreed to meet at a Second Cup.  I let him chose, though I did suggest something near the university, given that he had a 6:00 class that Tuesday. He thought that was good and luckily for me, I knew exactly where the Second Cup he chose was. 

I had an appointment in the afternoon and was not sure I would be on time, but luckily, I was only five minutes late.  I took a deep breath and entered the Second Cup.  I knew Thomas would've arrived before me, so I stopped between the two glass doors at the entrance and took a peek inside to see if I could see him.  For whatever reason, I was nervous about being able to recognize him; this was not something I had really been too apprehensive about beforehand with the others.  Having ascertained that he was not in fact visible from the door, I took a deep breath and opened the second one.  I began to move around to look for him, but I did not have to go far.  I rounded a corner and there he was.  I found myself exclaiming, "Hi!"  Translation: Wow, I can't believe I found you that fast!  Still feeling a bit stressed, I resolved immediately to get myself some tea and that I would come back to sit.

Thomas had chosen a couple of pouff chairs for us.  That has certain advantages and disadvantages.  It is good when you sit for awhile, since the chairs are more comfortable.  It can also feel friendlier.  However, it means that you do not have a table to hide you (or at least half of you).  We still had a table upon which to put our drinks, but it was much less of a physical obstacle in between us, which always makes me feel more at ease.  I sat and tried not to feel or look uncomfortable.  He said "hello" again and followed up with, "I'm Thomas."  Yes, yes, I know you're Thomas!  He had just stolen the line I had been rehearsing for at least a week.  "Hi Thomas; I'm ..."  In any case, perhaps it did not have the impact I intended, but I did intend to put him out of his misery right away, so I did.  I told him my name and he said he should never have guessed it.

He had gotten an iced hot chocolate, something I had been interested in trying myself.  However, I wanted something hot to drink that day, so I had settled on tea.  Thomas had procured a nice piece of chocolate cake too, which he offered to share.  I do not know WHAT was wrong with me!  I am a serious chocoholic, but I turned down even one bite of cake.  This has happened to me several times with Louis as well, when he would have a box of something chocolate with him in class and would offer me a cookie or something, I would always politely decline.  It is so unlike me!  I can't believe the automatic refusal reaction supersedes my insatiable love of chocolate.  I wonder what that is all about...

From that point on, my fatigue was definitely apparent.  It had hit me and there was nothing for it.  For a good half hour or so, I was having difficulty speaking coherently.  The thoughts inside my head were confused and I found myself having to start an idea several times over.  Thomas was very generous about it.  He even said later that he hardly noticed and that if this was truly "not one of my better days", then it must be really awesome to see me on a good day (or something to that effect).

It seems the theme of the day with Thomas was "keeping things safe".  We had talked about many things online and I was thinking it would make the conversation flow more easily and comfortably.  The conversation was certainly comfortable enough, as I no longer felt the least bit nervous.  However, we spoke only about two or three subjects, mostly about school.  These were "safe" subjects, not requiring much thought or emotion.  It was the sort of conversation I could have with any passing acquaintance.  Again, I make allowances for this sort of thing the first time I meet someone: perhaps they are shy or nervous.  Perhaps indeed it was me who was feeling shy or nervous!  There seemed to be some distance there that I was not so much accustomed to when chatting online.

One of my favourite moments during the date, besides telling Thomas what my name is, was when he referred to himself as a "nerd".  I had been expecting it to occur and had arrived prepared.  It is something he had said to me a few times online and I had objected to him labelling himself.  For me, the connotation of words like "nerd" or "geek" is really pejorative and frankly, I think no one should use them for that reason.  I unbuttoned my top layer and told him that if he was a nerd, I would have to be one too.  The t-shirt underneath said WWJD - What Would Janeway Do?  I had kept my interest in Star Trek from him, though he had brought it up once or twice.  I wanted to save it for just such an occasion.  Thomas just looked at me and, seemingly finding words insufficient, shook my hand as if to say "good job!"  I was glad to find that he thinks that Janeway was a good Star Trek captain (I later linked him to The Reasons Why Captain Janeway is Better Than Captain Picard).  This move was to make him feel more at ease and I think overall it was successful.

It is lucky that one of us was keeping an eye on the time.  I made sure that Thomas would not be late for his class.  I walked with him a bit, since we were both headed in the same direction.  Then he headed for the university and I in the opposite direction to get home.  I said it was "good to meet him", which it was.  Our in person interaction was not negative in the slightest.  We had dispensed with the important formalities: we had officially met and I had told him my name finally without disappearing on the spot.  This would enable the next meeting to be more pleasant.

Here I thought I had gotten off easy for a first meeting.  Chatting with me later on that day, the facebook question came up.  I knew that it was important to him because usually his policy is that he meets no one without knowing their name and having access to their facebook page first.  He had made an exception for me, but it was high time that I show some good faith in return.  Evidently, as Thomas agreed that evening, we should've discussed it in person.  His assessment of me is that it is difficult to earn my trust and that I don't let many people in.  That is certainly true to a very large extent.  The idea of opening up to him was not what was bothering me, however.  I didn't mind adding him on facebook at that point.  What was troubling me is how he would perceive that, what he would think that my adding him would signify.  I was worried about his expectations for our relationship.  I had told him that I could not give any of the Plenty of Fish guys any guarantees at that point.  Knowing it intellectually and knowing it emotionally are two different things.  How much of that had he assimilated?  I had had this very problem with Kyle and it had really burned me.  I should've known with him that his expectations were to date me; we met after all because his friend tried to set us up.  I let myself become secure with the place I put him in in my life, which was in the acquaintance box at first, since we didn't have a lot in common, then in the friend category as we became more compatible with time.  I knew, however, that dating him would never work, because we were still too incompatible at so many levels.  He couldn't see that, though.  I was not sufficiently vigilant about his expectations, so the result was him falling for me and wanting to date and my having to refuse.  I had the choice of the lesser of the two evils and it felt positively vile.  He was going to hurt either way, but I knew I would just hurt him more if I dated him.  He remained attached after that for awhile, but then it ended badly.  We have not spoken in three years.  How often I regret how that unfolded.  I never want that to happen again, so I worry about it and guard against it as best I can. 

I was not able to articulate all of this for Thomas that evening, but a couple of days later, I related the story of Kyle for him to help him understand my uneasiness.  What he told me on October 2nd was that he was not building up expectations and only taking things one step at a time.  He was working on the friendship aspect of our relationship and getting to know me better.  Anything more than that, he said, were it to develop, would develop naturally and with time.  That sounded so reasonable to me and showed me that we were on the same page. When I told him about Kyle two days later, he was very sympathetic.  It helped him understand much better where I was coming from.  More than once over the next while, Thomas reassured me that he was not forming designs on me and that I didn't have to worry about it.  That was so very helpful.       

So the result was that Thomas and I became facebook friends that night.  My conditions were that he not go bananas liking every single picture I had and that he not start having all sorts of expectations of where things would go from there.  Satisfied that he would pass on both of those, I let him add me.  It was late, so I didn't look too closely at his page.  I don't know how much he looked at mine, but certainly he did not like or comment or post anything. 

I imagine sometimes that my readers wonder how I can make most of my entries so neutral.  Or perhaps readers wonder what I was thinking on the date or after the date, or just generally, where these guys ranked for me.  I tried to remedy that with my entry The Fish.  Here, though, I think it bears mentioning where Thomas stood for me at that point.  Sometimes I really felt a friend sort of vibe.  That described the date I had with him on October 2nd.  Yet there were other times that I felt a more romantic sort of vibe.  Sometimes I felt we were highly compatible and I could see real possibilities.  Sometimes he was even rather charming.  I remember one conversation we had in particular, that ended with him saying, "Good night, princess."  I could hardly contain myself.  I felt so flattered.  I answered, "Good knight", which he found clever.  Moments like that made me think that we surely could date.  I had hoped that meeting Thomas might help clarify things, but they remained nebulous for a little while longer...


Hopeful 8   Hopeless  3

My Christmas holidays, such as they are, have officially begun.  I still have a lot of studying to get done, but I find myself with a bit more time. My goal is to bring my blog entirely up to date.  I will try my best.  For these entries, I will write my hopeful-hopeless count as I feel it on the day it is posted, unless I otherwise specify (usually in that case it will reflect how I felt, or an approximation of how I felt, the day of the events I am describing).  

Before I post the continuation of the story from my dating project, I wanted to just recap:

Where I left off, I had been corresponding with various guys for about two months.  There had been nine, which was whittled down to four (see entry The Fish).  I had been on a second date with Amin and was about to begin the round of second dates with the others.  Thomas I had not met once yet, so I gave him priority to keep things fair.  That is exactly where I was in the sequence of events: my date with Thomas on October 2nd.

Now you are officially reoriented for the rest of my story... 

Sunday, 9 December 2012

Christmas Rush, Christmas Break

Hopeful  7      Hopeless 3

I had really hoped to update my blog long before this.  Unfortunately, I have gotten caught up once more in my school work.  I have been able to do little else these days.  I still have a lot to slog through, so it is not likely I will update until the Christmas holidays.  As always, I am hoping and pushing for sooner.  Certainly, though, during the holidays, I should be able to bring my blog fully up to date to fill everyone in.

I will again have to be reliant on your patience.  I feel bad that I am this behind in updating.  I feel especially bad for certain devoted readers who check nearly every day, like Kathy.  I know you are eager to hear the rest of the story.  I promise that I am keeping that in the forefront of my mind and working as fast as I can.  I hope to post again soon!