I am a Yo-Yo Dater

I met N three years ago. We could always chat up a storm no matter when. It did not work out between us but we kept in touch checking in on each other once or twice a year. Right after I quit OkCupid, I texted him to see how he was doing. The text conversation flowed and that made me decide that I would continue online dating again. He reminded me why I dated online in the first place, to find someone I would call mine.

I read the latest reviews on online dating sites and decided to get on Tinder. Comparing to OkCupid, Tinder is easier to use. Its reputation seems to have changed for the better. Change is good. This time, I put in some proper effort into my Tinder profile.

As I reflected on my behavior, I thought, “OMG, I have become a yo-yo online dater.” It was another new profile. I have never been anything yo-yo in my life. As someone who is fairly satisfied with life, I have to admit that I now sometimes have a sense of hope for love. I find myself oscillating between being satisfied with all the love I have from my friends and family and wanting more. I am careful about wants in life since I want to remain happy and content in life. This wanting does not come with an expectation or entitlement. It not about something missing. It’s not loneliness in disguise. As I continue to live my life fully, I am open to new possibilities.

Yes, I am a yo-yo dater! Basically, I want a good man but I don’t want it to be a requirement for a happy life because I can’t predict the future. Obviously, I am totally hedging. I wonder, “am I trading one happiness with another, or am I getting more,” as I march forward with dating. Perhaps, there is a bit of fear of uncertainty and protectiveness of certainty in play here.

With this complicated mindset, I met A who loves to travel, tries to be a good father, and is committed to his career. Well, the dating journey continues.

Life Dilemmas

Snow days and long weekends are the best. I can switch my mind from the hustle and bustle of day-to-day and work to words and ideas.

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Writing project #2 – On Dating, A Memoir

I swiped and swiped. I saw a picture first. Sometimes, it was a perfectly fine headshot. Sometimes, it was a naked chest. Sometimes, it was a couple. I made a yes or no decision in seconds. I swiped. Sometimes, the picture intrigued me. I went ahead and read the profile summary. All was normal. I clicked into the profile and read more. Many men looked for an open relationship. I swiped. I saw the same men before. I recalled my decision. I swiped. There was a message for me in this profile. I remembered reading that before. I swiped. Sometimes I didn’t remember that I read it so I re-read realizing half way through that I did. This went on for half an hour. I looked up the FAQ and it said that after 1000 men, some profiles would be shown again. Recycled? Why? I had accomplished nothing. I was not excited about online dating anymore. I felt I was wasting my life.

I remember how it was before the internet. I had a crush on this young man in college. Every time I saw him on campus, my heart raced. I found excuses to say hello. He was friendly, often with a cute smile. I found opportunities to know more about him. I visited him at his dorm room. I gave him a love note and he tucked his head under his cap while his face got all red. He made me a tape of all his favorite music. I learned every song. He did not like me back but he knew I paid him the highest compliment. He had a girlfriend. I knew her. She was nice. I was glad that he was happy.

I miss this! Without digital. An authentic experience!

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Writing project #3 – Annie, A Fiction

Annie looked at her studio on Marlboro street. It was not much. Her bed took up a huge space. The kitchen was old. The wooden floor was uneven. The windows were leaky. But it was her own 600 square feet which she paid for herself. She did not know anything about Boston. But here she was starting a new chapter of her life.

Right after getting her job offer, Annie went shopping for work clothes. She was told that she had to wear suits. She only had t-shirts and jeans in her closet. She spent all her savings and brought five suits, one for each week day and enough for one week. They were of different but all basic colors: black, gray, blue, brown, and light brown. She hoped that these would be sufficient for a while.

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Life dilemmas

As I grew older, I start having two pulls in my life. Part of me is thankful that I have a stable job that I love. Part of me wants to drop everything and write. I learned in business that win-win is the best solution. But I keep feeling that the writer part of me is short changed. Working full-time and writing during personal time is not really a win-win. I think about the two pulls every time there is a long weekend. I can be practical, but I can also be very spontaneous. The level headedness is winning out for now.

I have not read anything that said don’t have more than one writing project. So I will keep experimenting. Agile writing, just like building software!

Hear Myself

I looked at profiles after profiles of eligible men in the Boston area. Swipe. Swipe. Swipe. This was something I learned how to do in my early forties. Gone was the awkwardness. Now I looked and swiped. “Who”, I thought, “would work for me?” What was I looking for? What could I tell from the pictures and self summary? Who was being truthful? Who shared my values? Who was kind and cultured? Who did I want to spend a lot of time with and have fun in life? I am not perfect. What do I have to offer?

All is well with the endless swiping, except that I have one fear deep down. Would I stop hearing my own voice if I have someone in my life? You may think it’s silly, but it’s a real concern for me. I have learned that I tend to forget about myself when I am with someone. This happened with both of my ex-boyfriends. Looking back at those two relationships, I thought this was my weakness. I lacked a strong voice. I did not know to stand my ground. My ex-boyfriends played a strong role in our lives together and I lost myself.

Reflecting deeper, I realized that my behavior is rooted in many aspects of my life. For one, growing up in a large family, I learned to hear what others wanted and compromised. I liked to make everyone happy. I am very good at that. Honestly, I didn’t usually care about not getting what I wanted when it was not important life decisions. I did not have to pick where we ate dinner. I did not have to decide what we did on Sunday. I saw goodness in the choices of others. I was okay with that. For two, I was also lucky that both my ex-boyfriends were extremely smart, kind, and considerate. So, going along with their decisions all the time was not bad at all. In some cases, they had great ideas. And they were great catches! However, when I stopped voicing my opinions all the time for a few years, I stopped living my own life. I lost my voice completely when I was with them.

Now that I am many years older, I am afraid to give up my singleness even though I understand that being loved and cared for by someone would be amazing. Right now, as a single middle-aged woman, I have 100% control over how I spend my time. I don’t have to explain or negotiate. My ideal weekend is reading and writing with either a cup of black tea or a glass of red wine. I can change my mind and take a walk while listening to music. I can take a nap in the middle of the day. I can eat dinner at 4pm in comfortable sweats.

More importantly, I can live my life by the motto: Less Stuff, More Life. I keep my home with minimal stuff. I don’t own a TV or a car. I don’t follow sports or shows. I am working on not buying any new cloths in 2019. I am working on eating better and healthier. I want to create an exercise habit that sticks. I am happy.

So, when the new year rolled around, I deleted my online dating profile. I didn’t want to spend endless hours swiping. It had felt wasteful of life. What does that mean to meeting someone? I don’t know. But I feel that I might have removed some unnecessary noises in my life. My days feel quieter so far.

Perhaps, it’s a road less taken. I hope to continue to be able to hear my own thoughts and voices. And if there is someone who can deal with my oddness, particularity, and hear my very soft and quiet voice, then that would be such a bonus. For now, I do know that it makes me happy that I love who I am!

Good night and sweet dreams!

One Honk Means Yes

At some point, Joe said to me, “One honk means right. Two honks mean left.” He was referring to the honking of cars. I didn’t quite remember what he said exactly and ended up with both what he said and what my mind made up, which was: one honk means yes, and two honks mean no. One day I was in my room. A car drove by the house and honked twice. The sound of honking jumped out at me loud and clear! I immediately thought the car was signaling, “No!” Is that an objection? What I was thinking must not have been right. I heard another honk following my reaction. In my head, I reacted to the one honk and understood it be to be, “Yes!” Whoa, I guess that confirms it. I didn’t look out the window to check who was driving by or what kind of cars they were. I just listened and made sense of the different honking sounds. Honking from that point on became a signal I understood automatically. If a honking lined up with my thoughts, then it provided input.

I’ll Call You Joe

After I heard my first voice, Joe, as I called “him” later, started speaking to me more and more. He spoke to me when I was alone in my room. He only showed up when I was alone. His voice continued to be soft, calm, and gentle. He never yelled at me or talked over me. With the exception of our first interaction, I never “talked’ to Joe using my mouth. I spoke words to him in my head silently. If there was anyone else around, they would see me as being quiet, as not having a conversation with anyone. But I was having conversations with Joe. My mind focused completely on his voice when he talked. My eyes took a slight backseat to my ears as I tried to continue to go about doing things while Joe commented on what I was doing. He always enunciated his words. I had no trouble understanding him. When I turned on the radio on my bookshelf, he said, “Good!” When I opened a book to start reading, he said, “Let’s think about this.” During the weekends, the talking would go on the whole time I was alone in my room.

A Mind Unraveled, A Memoir

My experience with schizophrenia affected my thinking. For Kurt, his body took surprise breaks giving up on him as frequently as every other day. His college days were heartbreaking. Becoming an independent adult and looking for a job with a pre-existing condition was tough. I can’t imagine how he survived through all that. Kurt’s memoir is inspirational; I could not put this book down once I started.

Again, I am reminded that doctors are such important determinant of lives of people with chronic conditions. We tend to give doctors all the control when we are in need of urgent help and care. We are lucky when we meet the right person from the start. Kurt was not so lucky. Eventually he took control of his own care and participated in the decision making process. I went through a similar journey. Now I ask questions and don’t just obey. A collaborative relationship between doctors and patients seems to be the best even though sometimes as the non-medical-trained, patients feel not qualified to question.

Medication is not perfect and has side effects. I recognize Kurt’s journey in finding the best balance between stopping his convulsions, minimize side effects and living his life to the fullest. I was lucky. My first medication was very effective for me for part of my symptoms. I did experience an undesirable side effect of some weight gain. But it did also take me a few years to finally gain awareness of what I have, since my condition is mental. Again, Kurt was not so lucky. Kurt is courageous in his determination to fight! His will power is incredible.

Then, there is the family and friends. I recognize that in my journey too. A helping hand means a lot. We know who our true friends are when they keep showing up again and again while we are beat down.

I highly recommend kicking of 2019 with this memori!

On Writing, Bird by Bird, The Memoir Project, Writing About Your Life, The Modern Library Writer’s Workshop

When I first started writing, I just wrote. I didn’t have any specialized training in English, Literature, or Writing. After a while, I did not feel very productive. That was when I started reading books on writing. I always turn to books when I am stuck. Here are my favorite ones so far. As I am wrapping up my memoir, I am rereading them again.