Go out for drinks with L. Lessons learned and/or reinforced: barstool space management, reminder that touch early sets a good precedent.

Later move away from the bar & get reminded that tables for two are frustrating. First time I've noticed the term "Caucasian menu" at a local restaurant. Talk about her childhood overseas leads inadvertently to some surprising personal revelations. Lesson: if people don't see you as part of their social circle, their emotional investment is small & they are less inhibited about potentially-awkward or embarrassing personal details, which in turn leads to a sense of accelerated intimacy and trust. Is this (clinical) cognitive dissonance at work?


During the morning, based on previous night's realization, I decide I have been spending too much time with only strangers, the emotional investment is too small, the challenges seem false, somehow artificially dispassionate. I need to take some risk and interact with someone within my social circle but out of usual context. I decide to aim high.

I make a call, I stumble and stammer. Fortunately, I haven't dialed a number yet. Then I dial and I'm pre-stammered so no problem, that's that — my mad emotional bungee jump was totally fine, even with a surprise redirect in mid-call. I might have to reschedule something else on Thursday. Totally worth it. Lesson: go ahead and jump, because you really do have nothing to lose if you don't want too much. Hanging out is good. Lesson 2: triage is always okay.

In the evening, go out to movies with V. Can't quite sort this one out because she calls and emails a lot, is sweet & thoughtful but terribly anxious about physical contact, each little escalation leads to a meandering chase around the kitchen or something. Lesson: Like tables for two, some furniture is evil. L-shaped couch with a block at the "L" what were they thinking? Bigger Lesson: it's my own damned fault. I wanted to talk & connect about this issue and had a hard time. I'm too dependant on routines and need to find the right internal stance to be both open and emotionally-helpful rather than following some fixed internal script of this-happens that-happens. Several internal-game demons to vanquish here, including pride issues and the difficult dismantling of some precedents that are now in place. Paralysis by analysis, dag nab it.

On the drive home get a surprise call from Y the journalist from Taiwan, who I had thought had brushed me off weeks ago. We talk for like an hour and a half until late and she emails me some articles & is so much smarter and cooler than I had even realized and I am sitting there talking and thinking that she has so got to be my new GF. Lesson: you never know what will come along, or when. Lesson 2: I am so doggoned fickle. I already knew that.


Meet Y for lunch and she is both difficult and adorable. I fall right into a net of early-talk test questions and DUH I answer them but then withhold info on a few thanks to an inadvertent interrupt save by the busboy. She asks if the cuisine is typical "caucasian" seafood (that term again!...). She has a schedule constraint but I figure a venue switch is in order & we go to Orchard Valley only to find it closed for remodeling and the woman owner starts up on how pretty Y is and then asks if she is my GF so I tell her I'm working on it rather than just "yes" which would have set up a precedent (or cognitive dissonance for Y). Lesson: control the mindset, the frame. Duh.

We go to Starbucks down the way and talk and Y gives me plenty of indicators with posture, breath, pacing, eyes, hair; just have to figure out the best follow-through at a busy Starbuck's at 2PM on a weekday with a rapidly-approaching deadline. Across a doggoned table for two, we could have been at the bar or at least had moveable chairs instead of the "comfy" Starbucks padded (& isolated) chairs. As we leave the rain breaks and a fantastic full-length rainbow appears. Feels like a benevolent omen.

Y says she's has been going out with doctors. This time I figure I won't get dragged into a comparison because I know I am far too unique for that. No one competes with me but me, and I wouldn't mistake having a BMW with being interesting. For some reason I pause at just the wrong split-second on the final kiss-close, get a friend byebye instead. Am certain it was juuust a tiny split-second difference. But I still get an invitation to call again. Lessons: location and timing.

In the evening I think to invite Y to a party K is throwing Saturday, or to a show she had mentioned Sunday — too quick but both possibilities are time-constrained. Still, it's dumb and I knew it but I did it anyway. Duh. Lesson: don't worry about time constraints, worry about building attraction through push-pull; stop being a pushover. Holidays will come back next year. My message is still unanswered by the Thursday night so I think I know what the answer is.


Drive to SF to meet my friend. She's not ready to go when I arrive but looks fantastic in just five minutes. We talk about her life a bit, we go out to the park, get lost a bit, get lucky on parking and go to the museum. I have promised myself that I will not fall into any easy routines or patterns or agendas, she knows I have been going out a lot anyway & would smell the treacle. 100% honest moments required. Instead my goal is to simply be relaxed and comfortable without expectations or any other anxiety. She shows herself to be funny and smart and sensitive and the light just shines on her; no wonder I've had such an intimidating crush on her for a long time. Uncrushed is better. I can just see her as a person and a friend and yet beautiful at the same time and I know that I have proven this to myself. I came away feeling more fond than ever and yet not specifically wanting anything, just being in the simple moment. I could never tell her this. I did say that the afternoon was special to me. Annoyingly, the sentiment came out sounding like a line. But it was true. At that moment I knew I had slain my old self, and reveled in my own internal Valhalla.

Lessons: many. I really need to work on my exits, they get overloaded with feeling and my self-control shudders a bit. I need to be comfortable when I get to the end, to already be finished so there's no need to feel rushed.

In the evening I drive over to see S but we didn't double-check and she's not there and I'm all ticked — but contained. She calls me to apologize as I'm driving home. Her tone is sweet and genuinely sorry, mine is gruff and annoyed, I know it & we reschedule. Obvious lesson: over-communicate.

When I get home there's a message from C telling me that she thinks a pic of me she has found is sexy even though I know I was trying to look pissed-off when it was made — possible lesson from both C & S: a little pissed is good? It's too late at night to call, maybe I'll talk to her tomorrow after I verify "no" and go for a reschedule with Y and sort some of the whole V situation.

I still have no idea what to do on the weekend. Maybe send out some thank-you notes.

December 29, 2005



The Troubles


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