Thursday, November 25, 2010

The Most Complicated Non-Relationship, ever.

There are approximately 1,056 different ways to reject someone without actually having to say “I don’t like you.” I am responsible for just like half of those. Putting yourself out there in that capacity, be it asking someone out on a date, applying for a job, or simply striking up a conversation with a stranger is number three on the most stressful things you will ever do in life. Two is divorce, and one is trying to get a driver’s license from the state of California. Reference to a previous blog, whaaaat!

The problem is, however, how do you tell the difference between when someone is being honest, and when someone is just trying to ditch you? Like when someone tells you that they like you, but don’t want to date you because of their career. Who else gets asked out and dumped in the same night? Just me. It’s like, okay, so you care about me so much that you don’t want to hurt me? Or you don’t care about me enough to put forth the effort. Effort does suck, in his defense.

Television, movies, and the romance section of any given bookstore will tell anyone that dating is fun. It’s exciting and new and awesome. Well, I’m almost positive that in the metaphorical bookstore of my life, they got the labels for “romance” and “science fiction/fantasy” mixed up, because it’s not easy, it’s not really fun, and sure, it’s exciting - in a terrible, awkward way.

Because when it comes to dating, my life is this.
Okay then, this is going well. We’re on the same page, no games. Look at us, all cute and flirty and off-book after only a month of rehearsals, just like the really good actors.  Wait a minute, I think my script was missing a page...
Oh, come ON. You’ve got to be kidding me. What the hell is even in Latvia?

“you’re really smart, and pretty, and confident. You’re the real deal. Just what I’ve been looking for. Except you know, Latvia 4evarrrr”

Okay, so I’m smart and pretty, and you forgot hilarious, but whatever. I can deal. Just fit it in somewhere else. But apparently I’m not smart or pretty ENOUGH to be cooler than Latvia. So, just for my knowledge of where this ridiculous bar for who is smart/pretty/awesome enough to actually DATE is set, what exactly are the standards? Are you looking for Ms. ActuallyWikipedia to walk into the bar any time soon? Cause I’m pretty sure that the girl who knows everything that Wikipedia knows doesn’t look like Christina Hendricks.

She looks more like this.

So that’s your girl I guess. And not to be a buzz kill, but I don’t know that Latvia even has Wikipedia. I mean, they weren’t even invited to play in the World Cup. That’s pretty embarrassing. But seriously, for real, have a freaking blast. I’m over it. I hope you get eaten by some kind of Latvian mountain lion. It sounds like you’re going to be really successful and happy in Latvia.

What’s really frustrating about all of this isn’t that I totally got major-leagued by some stupid Eastern European country that isn’t considered worldly enough for soccer, but it’s that I don’t even get a say in the matter. He’s all, I like you, you’re great, but you know, Latvia! And that’s it. Great. Well, Latvia might be exotic and exciting, but has LATVIA seen every episode of Friends enough times to quote entire scenes? NO. Does Latvia high-five you for not scratching on the eightball? NO. Do you even know anything about Latvia? I bet if you were dating Ms. ActuallyWikipedia she could just tell you, but you’d have to find restaurants with high vaulted ceilings in order to accommodate her ENORMOUS SKULL.

And as if that wasn't annoying enough, the fact is that there’s still six months left before he can even go to Latvia, not to mention the time it will take to acquire work visas and you know, other legal documents, because no matter what the liberal hemp-wearing lunatics on the University Avenue bridge over the I-80E tell you – we are not actually considered citizens of Earth. So he's telling me that he doesn't want to go out on a single date because he might go to Latvia in more than half a year, and I'm getting the impression that no matter what clothes I think I'm putting on, I walk into the room wearing this:

What I’m saying is, “hey, how have you been?” but what he’s hearing is, “unless you plan on being three blocks away from me for the next decade of your life, I’m out.” Go to Latvia if you want to. Go to Portland or Norfolk or the MOON if that’s what you really want to do with your life. But if you’re not going like, tomorrow, then hey, maybe we can get coffee. Just a thought. Because we might go get coffee, and find out that you’re an avid Creed fan, and then I’ll make up some crap about being super busy and maybe getting deported back to Texas, something about a bloody brick through a DMV window, and that will be that. The point is, at least we’ll know. We’ll know that you have terrible taste in music. And I will never look at you without hearing “With arms wide opeeeeeeen” looping through my brain. That would explain the cringing, though. 

I think the real issue at hand is everyone innate fear of getting close to someone, and inevitably getting hurt if and when they leave. From someone who's done a lot of leaving, I know how much it sucks to walk away from people you care about, not knowing when you'll see them again. And even knowing that I wouldn't be able to spend every single day of my life with these people, never once have I regretted knowing them in the capacity that I do. If I turned my back on every new person I met, on the off chance that I might one day live in another city, I'd be really lonely, and super bored. Not to mention how completely devoid of blog topics I'd be. 

But at the same time, I don't plan on attempting to force anyone into risks they are clearly not ready to take, because that's equally stupid. I don't make a habit of chasing people down, and for as often as I joke about it, I would never actually grab someone square by the shoulders and yell 'LOVE ME!' in his face. If for no other reason that how much it doesn't work. 

I have a problem with fix-it relationships, and the people who know me best will be the first to throw down the red flag and tell me to make a run for it. 

It's like my fabulous friend Wies said, "Oh no, Eleanor. Do you need a new project? Try knitting."

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Battle of DMV-Pleasanton [alternately titled: How California hates Texas.]

I don’t think it needs to be stated again, but I will for continuity sake: I am broke. So, in order to cut spending down, I decided I wanted to get a library card. A while ago, I made the trek down to the local Oakland Public Library, only to discover that I need a California Driver’s License with my current address on it in order to obtain said card. Apparently they think I’m planning on checking out hundreds of books, and making a run for the Texas border. So after much procrastination, I finally got myself to the DMV this week. I brought everything I could imagine needing in order to justify myself to the California state government, hoping, in vain, that this would be a one-trip affair.

I don’t know why I pretend like things will ever be easy.

To get off on the right foot, I show up without a pen. First time in my life I don’t have a pen, and it’s at the freaking DMV. Awesome. I wait patiently, for an hour and a half, while numbers and letters that are not mine creep across the “now serving” screen. I listen to the ramblings of the crazy wannabe truck driver next to me as his quizzes me on commercial license test questions, all of which I respond with “D. none of the above.” I don’t laugh at the woman verbally abusing her husband on the phone for leaving the house, EVEN THOUGH IT’S UNLOCKED NOW, and I even patiently explain the DMV ticket to window process to the old Asian woman clutching her handbag as if I’m going to rip it out of her hands at any moment, screaming LONG LIVE ANARCHY all the way out the door. Finally, G095 is called, and I race up to window number 6 with a pleasant smile on my face. Let’s do this, California. Let’s work as a team, and make me an official resident of your state.

So I hand over my form, filled out entirely and beautifully, and she types my name into the archaic plastic box masquerading as a computer. I’ve had a state license before, so like the lady told me up front, two hours previously, it’s just a renewal, right? Well, here’s the thing about renewing your license. California has to recognize you as a citizen of earth before you can renew a CA driver’s license. So when the woman tells me I’m not in the system, I laugh and say, “yes I am. I’m wearing a Ramones t-shirt in my photo.” She doesn’t know who The Ramones are, nor is she as amused by this statement as I am. So she asks me what my name was when I lived in California.

Here’s the thing about names. My name is, has always been, and save for a potential stint in the witness protection program, or induction into the MIB, will always be Eleanor Thibeaux. That’s it, that’s my name. So she asks to see another form of identification, and I give her my passport. Again, she asks if that’s my name. Yes, I managed to write the same name on both my application AND my legal United States of America-issued proof of citizenship. How is this possible? Because, government lady, THAT IS MY NAME. Then she wants my social. Then she wants to know the name attached to my social security number. So I hand her my social security card, and again, it says Eleanor Thibeaux.  What are the chances? Man, I’m one detail-oriented Russian spy.

So we do the “what’s your name” dance a couple more times, until she finally says I don’t exist in the California database. So then she picks up my form again, and re-reads it. This whole time, she’s smiling at me, and we have a nice rapport going until she sees those five stupid little letters written in the smallest handwriting I could manage legibly.

“Previous License State or Foreign country: TEXAS”

It’s as if I had just walked up to her, punched her in the neck and told her I killed her dog. The mood shift was palpable. It’s like, if there were going to be another war in a revolutionary manner, it would be the California-Texas Revolutionary War. The conservatives are coming! The conservatives are coming!

Now, now my friend in the California state bureaucracy is glaring at me kind of menacingly. And of course, she still doesn’t have enough “proof.” They always want proof. She’s got my passport, which I remind her, and I cringe as she reads the part that says “Place of Birth: Texas, USA” because I’m pretty sure Californians don’t think Texas should be considered part of the union. It’s like back when the white people didn’t want the black people sharing their water fountains, only now, its Californians not wanting Texans to…breathe their air? Which I guess is fair, since the Golden State is so disgustingly green, and Texans really like SUV’s.

Then she says to me, “I need proof of your residency in Texas.” So I quizzically hand over to my Texas Driver’s License, and allow the pictorial representation of a proud, billowing Texas flag to do my talking for me. She stares at it, repulsed for a moment, and then looks back up at me. “I need proof from the state, like you need to contact them and have them send the information to you.” I’m sorry, is my completely legitimate driver’s license not enough? What, do you want me to get a brick from the Alamo speckled with the blood of like, a billion angry Mexicans to prove that I lived in the state?

It’s just absurd, the battle of Texas vs. California. There’s Team Lone Star, which is maybe one of the dumbest things to rally behind – the picture of a star. At least California has an animate object. They have a bear. But then again, it’s a golden bear, and WTF is that, if it’s not some kind of delicious cookie treat commonly referred to as “Teddy Grahams.”
So you’ve got the Californians and their self-righteous “we love the planet, peace and pursuit of happiness” crap, and then you’ve got Texans, who also love freedom, only it’s freedom to exploit the planet, and the pursuit of happiness as it pertains to their agenda.  Be whoever you want, just don’t be different.  And the Texans, to be honest, are confused - because wasn’t it originally Californians who were all about manifest destiny? And Texas is like, “Come on, Cali, we got Mexican problems, too!” But California is all “we love our Mexicans, just don’t let them vote, because last time we did, we got a cliché action star as our Governor. Oops, our bad. 

But then again, Texas had George W. and well, oops, that was OUR bad.

So there’s a war. Stars versus bears. And well look at that, it turns out the Texas Lone Star is actually a firepower star like in Super Mario Brothers and it makes everyone in the Texas army spit fireballs that kill snapping plants and oh what’s that? YELLOW BEARS.

But don’t worry, Chief Golden Bear has a plan.

So there I am in the middle of civil freedom lasers and religious agenda fireballs, and all I really wanted was a library card. And you can’t explain to Texas why you want to live in California, and you can’t apologize enough to California for having anything to do with Texas. So when the DMV employee says, “You need to contact Texas and tell them…” all I hear is, “you’re really screwed.” Texas is mad at me for leaving; Texas thinks I’m a traitor to America and that I stabbed Sam Houston right in the back. But California really doesn’t care, because all California hears is, “I was born in Texas, therefore, I was born into evil, and I hate the earth. Viva La Offshore drilling.”  

But here’s the thing both California, and Texas for all intents and purposes, don’t realize about me. I’m not a quitter. You think you can subdue me with a run-around, illogical governmental process? I’ve been wasting other people’s time my whole life; I know how this works. I will get that library card; I will get you to admit I live here, and I will get my picture taken by one of your menial state employees, who probably hates you more than I do. And you know what I plan to do once I have a state issued ID? I’m going to get in-state discounts on my education. I’m going to vote against the majority. I’m going to go to other states and act poorly, therefore further ruining the already diminished reputation of the state of California. I will commit minor offenses in the name of the Golden State AND it’s bear. Now who’s screwed?

Game on, California. 

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Currently Seeking: Seasonal Boyfriend

I fell asleep to the sounds of rain and wind last night. Well, I fell asleep, then woke up going, “what the hell is that sound?” and then fell BACK asleep to it. In the beautiful Bay Area of California, that means it is officially winter. And while we’re on it, does this mean we get two falls next year? Cause uh, we got skipped. The first rain of winter washes away the dirt, debris and wreckage of summer, leaving behind a fresh, clean palette for a whole array of new mistakes. That’s right, the smell of wool coats and desperation is once again revived here in Oakland.

There are several distinct differences between seasonal dating. Summer is more a season for casual dates, flings, and overall maintaining that coveted “single” Facebook relationship status. Summer dating is easy. Everyone is wearing single layers, there’s more to do outside, and even without alcohol everyone just seems pleasantly intoxicated. People are more social during the summer; they want to get out, breathe fresh air, and meet new people. Summer is when there is baseball. Baseball dates are the best kind of non-committal dates ever. Kiss him if you want, blame it on the kiss cam. If you just want to be friends, punch him in the arm when there’s a home run and high five EVERYONE around you. He’ll work it out on his own.

Winter dating is a beast of an entirely different nature. Winter is more Ella Fitzgerald than summer’s Katy Perry. Winter presents challenges that stop those non-commitment oriented parties dead in their tracks. Date ideas are now indoor, intimate and more expensive. In a recession, a person really has to be sure he or she is interested before taking that step. What if the date is a dud? Did I really just drop $60 bucks on someone who doesn’t realize New Orleans isn’t a state? So the selection process has to last longer; it has more significant questions, and it’s all about reading between the lines. Because the state of New Orleans is actually only a tiny part of the conglomerate state of Louisiana.

Another thing about winter is this: it’s cold. You know what’s not cold? The human body. It operates comfortably at a cozy 98.6 degrees, unless it’s my human body, which rests annoyingly healthy at 96.4 degrees, rendering me the crazy chick that is always freezing. This is where that light aroma of desperation comes in, the need for human contact, if simply for the sole purpose of a walking, talking space heater. Sadly, I could do without the talking part more often than not, but I’ve never been able to get that amendment to pass in the relationship negotiation process. People are walking around, staring down potential hand warmers with intent and purpose practically leaking out of their pores. It’s true - people are sweating emotions left and right as soon as we roll those clocks back and break out the rain boots.

And let’s not forget the other enemy working against the single ladies and gents of the winter season: holidays. Dates to parties, holiday-oriented social gatherings. Being able to tell your uncle that you’re not single because of that really annoying way you end every sentence with “I’m just saying.” Having to be dressed up and socially involved after hours with your coworkers is bad enough, but going to those kind of gatherings alone is worse. Showing up to a work party by yourself totally ruins your cover of “it’s okay that I don’t talk to any of you here, because I have a super rad social life that fulfills me entirely.” In fact, now they just know that you would rather be alone than go to one of their stupid Sunday afternoon tea + sandwich parties. I like tea, and I love sandwiches, and I just didn’t want you slightly neurotic women to ruin either of them for me. No offense.

So that first rain falls and it’s a race against the clock. Find a boyfriend. Find a boyfriend. Find a boy that could be abstractly construed as your boyfriend, and cling to him for dear life until the sun stays in the sky past 5:30 pm. It doesn’t much matter if you love him, it doesn’t really even matter if you like him, just GET him. Bonus points if you can snag one that’s funny, because he’ll make the mandatory work social gatherings slightly less painful, and he might even want to see the same movies you do. But if you can’t find one that’s funny, try to find one that’s so attractive no one cares what he is saying.

What I think what you’re supposed to hold out for is that one guy. The one that gives you an “oh crap” feeling when you run into him unexpectedly on the street; the one that makes your heart race out of panic because this was a dialog you hadn’t rehearsed seventeen times while getting ready for work that morning. The one that makes you think, oh dang, I can’t feel my legs.

 I have one of those. The guy I always want to run into, but then panic when I do, turn the volume up on my iPod and make a sharp right into whatever store is next. Apparently I’m dissatisfied with my service at Verizon, and I’m thinking about switching to T-Mobile? He’s the guy that I will ramble about for hours if someone will listen. And yes, he’s tall and funny and covertly polite. [End gush.] What the rulebook says, and by rulebook, I mean “The Notebook,” is that I’m supposed to hold out for that guy. But what happens when that guy is an idiot and doesn’t get with the program by the right calendar date? I mean, how many times do you have to say, “I don’t much care for you,” before he finally accepts that you like him and asks you out?

Winter in the Bay Area is cold and wet and gray. You know what cures weather depression? A super cute boyfriend that brings you coffee and is always willing to watch Dexter with you. So I’m conflicted. It’s almost like I need a temp agency for boyfriends.

“I only need him for three-four months, so I can give Oblivious McTakesForever time to catch up to the inevitable and get with the picture here. Must be able to memorize coffee order, enjoy television crime dramas, and preferably types 65 GWAM.”

Yeah, I’ve fallen victim to the hype. I love hype. I’m all about hype. The same people that ranted about how jealous they were of my singledom in the summer are talking about winter and romantic crap and boyfriends and how great it all is, and the metaphorical tables have turned.  And while I’m sure “because it’s winter” probably isn’t a solid reason to jump into a relationship, lately I’ve been hard pressed to come up with a reason that is. For the record, “because I’m bored” got the ax, along with “because it’s Wednesday” and “because I’m poor and I want someone to buy me this purse.”

Thursday, November 4, 2010

it's just like an interior design consultant, for my life.

For most ladies, the notion of arranged marriages in the western hemisphere has become entirely offensive. Even while women in our eastern counterpart sing its praises, all my American girls can think when a man speaks without horror of arranged marriage is, “WHY DON’T YOU JUST TELL ME I CAN’T VOTE AND LOCK ME IN THE KITCHEN?!”

Well, here’s my stance: Shrug to voting, and go ahead and lock me in the kitchen, I’ll just build a fort out of tablecloths and paper towels, with a frying pan/spatula doorbell and a sign on the door that says “No Boyz Ah-loud” written in hardened mustard. Now who looks dumb?

But in all honesty, this arranged marriage concept might have some merit. Because when it comes to making important choices, I lack a certain level of…rationality and intellect. I can go to a restaurant and never choose the wrong thing for dinner, but every time I think I’ve landed the right boyfriend, BAM, he has issues about his mother and can’t hold a job. And might be a raging alcoholic. I think it has something to do with the type of men I find attractive. I have this uncanny ability to seek out the oddball, the one with the “hasn’t showered today” look, though I have incredibly high standards for hygiene so it really limits the playing field there, and sadly unless he’s a celebrity/professional athlete or trust fund kid, there’s a particular caliber of person accompanying that look. It’s so irritating. Because you know who usually looks unkempt and understated? Unemployed guys. And I make this choice EVERY TIME.

Don’t believe me? Don’t worry, I have an example.

Let me introduce Captain GreenShirt and his friend, Scruffy McBlackShirt.

Well, hey there boys. So here we are, and we’re talking; we're talking about punching strangers and how being a diver is less cool than being a spy, and about how Texas sucks but it’s not as bad as Alabama. Roll tide, roll? And all the while, this conversation is happening about three feet from us.

Thanks ladies. Now, was I looking for my future husband on the streets of New Orleans? No, not really. Oh did I forget to mention that’s where this is taking place? Yep, Bourbon Street. Another solid choice on my part. But the fact of the matter still stands the same. When presented with a choice, this is almost invariably the outcome.

That’s right. I passed up the polite, well-established, adorable guy to talk about superheroes and decade old footwear with a Gary, the sometimes-diver from Washington State with almost zero life goals based in reality. If being a life choice maker was a profession, I would be the least qualified. Or I’d be qualified in the way that people would ask, “What would Eleanor do” and then NOT do that thing. So arranged marriage starts to sound pretty good to me.

Let’s be honest here, in a world where arranged marriages are the norm, I have a better chance of being happy in the long run. Because you know what makes me happy? Designer sunglasses. Shoes. More than one meal a day. And these are things that I’m not going to find on my own, on account of how apparently some stupid part of my brain things underemployment and apathy is cute. So why not introduce an objective third party into the situation.

Arranged marriages provide a certain level of stability that I think could really work for me. Sure, there’s a chance I could get stuck with a real boring accountant type, but at least I’d have SOMEONE. Free form dating is reckless, riddled with uncertainty and overwhelming. Sure, sometimes it’s super cool to meet someone who thinks your jokes are funny, and really gets why you love NCIS and high fives so much, but then again, these are things anyone could learn. I could take my stable, boring accountant husband and say, “I like NCIS because it’s about solving crimes, and the Navy,” and then make him high five me. It’s almost like training a pet. He might not think it’s cool, he might not want to do it, but he will because let’s be honest, he’s stuck with me. And what’s that old phrase? If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.

And as far as I’m concerned, if arranged marriages made a comeback, I think I could land a good one, because not only is my father a fantastic negotiator, all car salesmen be warned, P. Thibeaux is not to be hustled, but we also have a good deal of leverage, being from Texas and all. Unrefined oil can make a killing these days. I could be dating the proverbial Prince of Persia with that kind of dowry. And by proverbial, I mean…Jake Gyllenhaal as the Prince of Persia.

Aka - This guy.

So if those are my choices, if I can either be left to my own devices and end up with Scruffy McBlackShirt of Washington State with his “I dunno” career path and minus one checking account lifestyle, or Jake Gyllenhaal as the Prince of Persia, I’m gonna say, forget how I feel, I’ll just play a lot of online scrabble and get an credit card under the name “Princess Eleanor of hypothetical Persia.”

Go ahead, sexism and archaic moral code, put a price tag on my head. Just make sure that being hilarious, good at technology, and addicted to caffeine are all taken into consideration, and bring on the applications.

I’m throwing in the towel.
Let’s do this.