Saturday, December 29, 2012

New Year Intentions 2012: Final Grade

Well, there's only 2 days left of 2012 so it's time for a final round up! I'm looking forward to setting new intentions for 2013 in the next week. I tried to be honest and objective as I reviewed the last 12 months and my intentions to change a lot of small things.

PEACE: The intention was to let more things go and to practice peace. This has been a wonderful challenge for me. I have a tendency to be quick to react, defensive, and hold on to things that don't matter. I honestly feel like I've managed to turn a huge corner where this is all concerned. A

QUIET: This intention revolved around shutting up, being still, and listening. Sometimes this was in regard to friendships or individuals, sometimes it was with my environment, and other times it was just to be present in the darkness or the light and not fight it. In a weird way I've enjoyed the tension and struggle of embracing quiet. B+

PLAY: This intention was to get me to participate in my own life and stop waiting for people to come to me. This unintentionally most often took the form of seeing a lot of live music. And I'm not sorry about it. A

FOLLOW THRU: This has been huge for me. Saying "No" as a complete sentence has been a big part of this intention. I have followed through on commitments, I have kept promises, I have met deadlines, and I have quit things that needed quitting. A-

RISK: This was really important for me to have on the list. I needed to force myself out of the mindset I had in 2011 which was survival and protection. I took several risks this year which include (but are not limited to) going on dates, going back to school, investing in new friendships, etc. I'm proud of myself. I have no regrets when it comes to the risks I took this year. B+

CHALLENGE: Grad School alone has been a huge challenge, but one that I have loved. I've challenged myself in friendships, in yoga (I can do a real handstand and a fully-extended tri-pod!); I've explored more new food than ever before and I've had more brutally challenging conversations this year than any time that I can remember. I feel happy about this intention. B+

MOVE: I feel confident that I've continued to move forward, continued to work on myself and be better, and continued to heal. A-

RESPOND: This will always be hard. But I'm learning to acknowledge my initial reactions, sit on them, breathe, and respond when I feel clear about things. There's always room for improvement. B-

CONSISTENCY: I've ended in a good place and I'm happy with that. It's taken a long time for me to be myself at work. It's a very weird environment for me and my personality. And it's safe to say that working on my driving will be on the list for next year, yet again. I need more patience in that area. C

HONESTY: #realtalk B+

INVEST: I've landed somewhere in the middle here. I can do better and I want to do better. C

GIVE: I've tried to do the best I can with what I have. But I know I've gotten in my own way on many occasions. And I know I am capable of doing more. C-

PRESENT: I am so glad this was on my list for the last year. It's been a great personal challenge. It started as something I wanted from others and so I challenged myself to do exactly what I was wanting. It's hard at first, but once you get the hang of it, it's worth it. Nothing can beat physical presence. Nothing beats having someone's full attention. And the same goes when you're the one giving. There is something special that happens when you can give someone your full attention; when you give presence. It's vulnerable, it's intimate, and it connects/bonds you to that other person on another level. I will continue to work on this one for sure! B+

REMEMBER: This intention has been so enjoyable. It's been all about sharing stories, reminiscing, laughing, crying, writing, reading, and just marinating in memories and special moments. It is so easy to forget to remember. I've enjoyed combating that amnesia. A-

DANCE: Easiest intention ever. A+ (Best public dancing moment of 2012: working it at a Thunder Playoffs game with Shenold where we made it on the jumbo-tron and national television. Also, completely embarrassing my little brother and sister while dancing to the Cupid Shuffle while waiting in line to ice skate.)

PS: As of January 3rd, I will have gone an entire year without soda. 1985-2010 Cara would not believe this.

See you in the New Year!

Monday, December 24, 2012

I kissed (online) dating goodbye: Part 4

Closing Thoughts

While many of you have enjoyed these last few posts and have tried to get me to keep putting myself through such torturous situations to allow for more funny stories, I'm afraid our time here is done. But, in my admitedly short adventure into online dating, I was able to learn a few things.

1) People are going to lie. And they will choose to lie about really stupid stuff that can easily be witnessed when you meet them. They will lie about things that shouldn't matter, but that will make you question what else they might be lying about. So you chose to check the box that says "athletic and toned" and you're more like "a few extra pounds." Not a huge deal, right? But if you can't be honest with yourself and own what you are...that reads as insecurity. Or dishonesty. Or something. I think there are more people than we realize roaming around out there, not happy in their skin and too afraid to admit it. And that's why they check the boxes or write the paragraphs about the person they'd like to be, or hope to be instead of who they actually are.

2) You can learn a lot about someone if you are willing to show up and listen. I know both of the situations I wrote about were very different from each other, but there was a quality that came out on both dates. Both Gary and Hank completely gave themselves away in different expressions of desperation. I know about their families, where they work, who their friends are, where they hang out, etc. My total experience culminates to something less than 5 hours!

3) I am not interested in investments with low-return. My youth pastor told me in high-school, "You are built for long-term relationships." And it couldn't be more true. The majority of the people I'm close to, with a few exceptions, have been in my life for a good, long while. If I'm going to invest in someone, I want to know they're going to be around for the long haul. Otherwise, I don't want to bother. I take relating to people very seriously. That's why I hate chit-chat. I hate mingling. I hate going to a party where I only know 1 person. I'm not interested in fake conversation with someone I won't see again. That's why I don't think the online dating thing will work for me. I think the majority of people interested in online dating want to water ski. I'm not interested in playing around on the surface of the water. I want a few days on the dock to study the water and then I'm going to run off the end doing a cannonball. I'm all in.

4) If you have no expectations, you will never be disappointed. This is really hard to do, but pays off. (And is useful in, oh....all areas of life.)

Thanks for laughing with me through this experience. I'm glad I did it, I'm glad it's over, and all the best to Hank and Gary. Cheers.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

I kissed (online) dating goodbye: Part 3

Second First Date
Name: Hank (named changed to something that makes me laugh)
Info: 32, Electrical Engineer, likes Thunder basketball, indie music, podcasts, stand-up comedy, and his Nigerian family. 
Date: Thursday night drinks at a pub in Midtown
Background: We had emailed a few times, texted mainly about where to meet and when.
Time elapsed from first contact to meeting up: 5 days

Disclaimer: I am not a super affectionate person until we have established a solid friendship/relationship. I can give a firm handshake or a Christian side-hug, but I typically maintain a fairly awkward stance until a certain point.

I'm there a little early because I was coming from a meeting downtown. I'm standing in the lobby reading a Gazette and in comes Hank.

Cara: *puts down paper* Hi, I'm Cara *extends hand*
Hank: I'm Hank *overwhelming full-frontal hug* (Please ask for a demo next time you see me.)
Cara: (inner dialogue)
---we are seated---

We have easy conversation...talking about the Thunder and podcasts we enjoy...this goes on for about an hour.

At this point I notice that Hank has never taken off his jacket. This is where I should tell you that Hank may have embellished a few things about himself on his profile...superficially speaking. After meeting him, it seemed that the majority of his pictures were a few years old. Not a big deal. But as the night went on, it became apparent through Hank's body language that he wasn't very comfortable in his skin. Or his clothes. As superficial as it may sound, those are both things that are important to me.

So, we talk for about 2 hours total. He pays for my drink and we thank each other for the conversation. He gives me another no-way-out full-frontal hug. I give the double-back-pat-tap-out escape. It works.

At this point. I wasn't sure what to do. I felt like either I had really high standards, was being really picky or was setting everyone up to fail. I wondered if my expectations of what it would be like to start over with a new person and start from scratch were too overwhelming. So even though I didn't  feel a connection with Hank, I didn't have a bad time...and we had a lot in I agreed to meet him again.

Second date: Kaisers on a Saturday night for some ice cream. 
*Note to self and everyone: if you don't feel like doing something, don't do it.

I meet Hank for some ice cream after doing homework all day. I'm exhausted and want to go bed early. Hank is completely jazzed about getting to hang out again. We hang out for about an hour and a half and I do the, "Well I think I'm going to call it a night." And Hank is not interested in calling it a night. He wants to hang out more. We compromise on a movie if there's one that starts in the next 30 minutes. (I'm hoping/praying there won't be one so I can go home.) I'm reading through the list of showtimes and get to Wreck It Ralph. Hank exclaims: "I WANT TO SEE THAT!" I give him a "Whoa, Nelly" face and ask, "Are you a gamer, Hank?" Hank answers: "Uhhhhhhhh. Not really. I mean, I did buy the new Halo 4 this week but I've only played it like....30 minutes." (Yea right, Hank.) Hank later confesses to playing online against 10 year olds and yelling at them in his XBOX headset. See ya later, Hank.

We go to the movie. I sit with my arms folded and legs crossed away from Hank. It's at this point I realize that I've made a mistake. I'm obviously not interested in this guy and instead of cutting the cord over ice cream, I'm now stuck sitting through a children's movie next to someone who won't take off his jacket, who stays up til 3am playing video games, and who is 32 years old and absolutely loving Wreck It Ralph. And I'm using all the mental energy I have left to stay awake and send vibes to Hank to not even think about making a move on me in this movie theatre.

Oh the awkwardness. It's finally over and we're walking to our cars and it happens.

Hank: "Look. I know you're busy with school and you're stressed about your paper, but I really want to see you again. Soon."
Cara: "Uhhhhhhhhhhhhh. Look. How about we just keep playin' it like we've been playin' it?" (WHO SAYS THAT?! AND WHAT DOES THAT EVEN MEAN?!)
Hank: Cool! Cool. Awesome. *Not 1, but 2 full frontal hugs.*

I get in my car and leave as fast as possible. I feel so awkward. I bailed. I choked. I didn't have the guts to be honest and say, "I'm sorry Hank. I'm just not interested."

This goes on for 3 more days...Hank is jazzed and excited about hanging out again and I try to let him down easy. Finally, I just told him the truth and apologized. And he did not respond for 5 days. Then at 2am on a Sunday morning he sends me a drunken/sorrow filled text about how he's been really bummed out and hopes this doesn't mean goodbye forever.

And I don't respond.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

I kissed (online) dating goodbye: Part 2

So I set you up pretty well in Part I to understand how online dating works and you got to see some quality communication words from some gentlemen dudes. So, what is left to tell you besides a play-by-play of my first date? NOTHING.

Wait. First I have to tell you my game plan and how I tried to approach this whole thing. First, I wanted to have minimal email communication leading up to a face-to-face meeting. I feel like the longer you communicate with someone before meeting them, 1) the more awkward it is, 2) the more expectations you have, 3) the more the story you've made up about them in your head starts to take over. So, I tried to keep things to a general topic of conversation like the World Series or Thunder basketball. (Guys love it when you can speak in their native language: Sports.) Okay, so the plan was: keep convo general and be honest (as in, if you're not interested, say you're not interested).

Name: Gary (named changed to something that makes me laugh)
Info: 33, self-employed, likes Thunder basketball, traveling, his family and friends, has his Masters in business, is in the Air-Force Reserves, originally from Alaska.
Date: Starbucks on a Sunday afternoon
Background: We had emailed a few times (mostly talking about the Harden trade), texted mainly about where to meet and when.
Time elapsed from first contact to meeting up: 1 week

G=Gary C=Cara.... What follows is the play-by-play of our date. Important to note: we were supposed to meet at 2:30pm. Disclaimer: THIS IS ALL TRUE.

(2:25pm) - I am stuck in traffic, 1/2 mile from where we're meeting.
G: (text) Hey where are you?
C: (text) I'm at ______. Should be there in just a minute.
G: (text) Ok, call me when you get here.
C: (inner dialogue) Why?

(2:30pm) - I park and call as I'm walking up to the door.
G: (call) Hey I see you...*hangs up*
C: (inner dialogue) O..k.....

(2:31pm) - I walk in to Starbucks and come over to the table Gary's sitting at. He does not wave, get up, shake my hand, etc.
G: You're late. *Holds up iPhone to show a time of 2:31pm.*
C: (*Pauses; gives an "Are you serious?" face.) One minute? You're getting on me for 1 minute? Come on man.... (*Trying to break the ice and be jokey)
G: (*No facial affect. Turns and looks out the window. STILL SITTING DOWN.)
**This is the time where people say, "Do you think he was joking?" Answer: I HAVE NO CLUE.**
C: (*Awkwardly sits down at the table.)
G: I'm going to grab a drink. (*Stands up, walks over to the register to order.)
C: (*confused) (inner dialogue: I guess I should go stand in line too?) *I get back up (I HAD JUST SAT DOWN) and go stand behind Gary. He stands with his back to me. Does not talk to me.
G: *orders drink*, barista sees me, asks, "Will that be all?", Gary nods and pays. (HE HAS NOT OFFERED TO SPRING FOR MY $2.05 TEA I'M ABOUT TO ORDER.) Gary walks back to the table and sits down.
**This is where everyone (and I mean every single person who's heard this: all 4 of them) says: WHY DIDN'T YOU TURN AROUND AND WALK OUT? Answer: It did occur to me. I think I was so surprised at how it was going that I just felt like I had to play it out. And honestly, I was concerned with looking rude. (I know you're already telling me I'm not the rude one in this situation, but let's just move on...)**
C: (*To barista who is now feeling really uncomfortable on my behalf) Hiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii. I'm gonna buy my OWN drink! (insert Zooey Deschanel awkward arm swing and winky face) *walks back to table to sit down.
G: *Gets up, goes to pick up his drink. My name is called, I stand up, he turns around...
C: Would you mind getting my drink? (*points to bar where my drink is sitting) (*inner dialogue: SERIOUSLY?)
G: (sits back down at the table, looks out the window.)
C: Sooooooooooooo. You're from Alaska? Tell me about that.
G: I grew up there. My parents still live there. (still looking out the window.)
C: Nice. What area are you from?
G: *names some area about an hour outside Anchorage
C: Cool. I've always wanted to visit Alaska. It seems like a really beautiful place.
G: I hated it. I like it better here.
C: What brought you to Oklahoma?
G: I joined the Air Force and was stationed at Tinker. Then I went into the reserves and got my Masters at OU. It's nice. It's cheap to live here. I make a lot of money here.
C: I have a friend in the Marines who's stationed out in North Carolina. He's a JAG. What kind of work do you do for the Air Force?
G: I'm just in the reserves. I did stuff with computers. I only joined so they would pay for grad school.
C: Cool. (*head nodding...) (At this point I notice he's already finished his drink.)
C: So what kind of work do you do?
G: Where did you go to school?
**Did you catch that?**
C: *confused* I'm sorry?
G: Where did you go to college?
C: (I tell him)
G: So you didn't have fraternity or sororities?
C: *laugh* Nope.
G: Well I own my own business and we supply Greek products to frats and sororities around the country. We're the #2 retailer.
C: So like, sweatshirts? That kind of stuff?
G: Oh we have everything. (*lists off an ungodly amount of crap)
C: I gotcha.
G: Yea, I have 4 employees. I only work about 3 hours a day. But I'm constantly checking stock prices. It's all about making money, you know? (*record scratch)
C: Well, maybe for some people.
G: How much money do you make?
**Did you catch that?**
C: What?
G: How much money do you make?
C: I'm not comfortable with that kind of question. I don't feel like that's any of your business.
G: What kind of car do you drive?
C: Why?
G: I drive a Range Rover.
C: *looks at Gary blankly*
G: Yea, I'm going to pick up my friend for the Thunder game tonight. I just got my car back from its 30,000 mile maintenance. I love my car. Did you know I have season tickets to the Thunder?
C: I think I saw that on your...
G: Yea, at club level. With the buffet. I go to every home game. It's awesome.
C: Sounds nice.
G: Yea one of my friends went to college with Kevin Durant. She lived 3 doors down from him his freshman year.
C: Well he was only at UT for one year, so it would've had to have been his freshman year.
G: It was.
C: Cool. So what do you do in your free time if you're working all the time? (*I'm annoyed. I don't know why I'm still talking to Gary at this point.)
G: I go to Vegas. I was actually just in Vegas last weekend and I'm going again this Friday. I hope in a year when I have a couple more employees that I can be in Vegas even more often. I love it there.
C: What do you do in Vegas?
G: Have you ever been there?
C: No
G: I gamble. I eat. They have the greatest buffets in the world. I go out.
C: Even better than the buffet at the Thunder games?
G: (*doesn't get it.) Um, yea, like, way better.

***Blah blah blah...I don't remember the rest. The "date" managed to last somewhere around 45 minutes. It shouldn't have gotten that much air time. I'm well aware. ***

C: Well, I've gotta get crackin' on some homework before the game tonight.
G: Yea, I've got to go get my friend so we can get there for the buffet.
C: You can go this early? The game isn't for another 3 1/2 hours.
G: Well you know, I have to go pick him up and then drive downtown and we'll probably go somewhere before the game.
G: (*Outside at this point) Where did you park?
C: I'm over that way
G: Alright. (*turns and walks to his beloved Range Rover.)
C: (*walks into a store next door and wait for Gary to leave....followed by laughter and lots of, "Did that just happen?" and a call to my safety pal to check-in and laugh more. )

Summary: Almost every single thing he listed on his profile as being true was the exact opposite in real-life. (You're probably rolling your eyes at that like I'm an idiot. Forgive me for trusting strangers to tell the truth about themselves!)  He bashed his family and friends the entire time, he talked about himself (I literally didn't say anything other than what is listed above. I just nodded my head) and had minimal eye contact.

Dear Boys: If you don't stand up when you're meeting someone (ANYONE!), shake hands, look them in the eye...if you display that you're only concerned with yourself, your job, your car, your money...there's a very high probability that I think you're not a very noteworthy human being. I probably think you have something(s) to hide and I don't trust any word you say. And if you have the balls to call me out for being 1 MINUTE LATE and proceed to talk about your wealth while not at least offering to pay for my $2 beverage: call me on none-day. 

I hope you're laughing at this nonsense. What's 45 minutes of torture when you can come out with a good story?

Coming Soon:
Part III: Second First Date
Part IV: Closing Thoughts