Friday Night

I’m writing a new story to my Fridays. Tonight I went to prison, but it’s not what you think. We went on a date; every year the inmates perform a play- this year it was the Sleeping Giants. 

Anyhow, the play is over and now we’re enjoying chocolate pudding and pisco at The Livet. I’m also being anti social because Im typing this as my date patiently moves a strand of hair behind my ear, and waits for me to publish this. 

Happy NaBloPoMo Day 4!

NaBloPoMo Day 2: I Wanna Go

Hello, NaBloPoMo Day 2! You’ve come so soon, and all I wanna do is chill with my new favourite TV show, This is Us, but I’m here instead. My day was long and busy, filled with trip preparations, conversation club, and an 8 Km run with my run group. I’m ready for an early night.

Day 2, Victoria, 9:12 pm

NaBloPoMo Prompt: When was the last time you did something brave? What happened?

This is so subjective. Since I’m nodding off as I type this, I’m going to do something brave right now. I’m going to tell that little perfectionist voice in my head to go to bed. This does not have to be a stellar post. You have had a long, productive day and deserve a break. It’s okay. You’re going to hit publish, then brush your teeth, and turn out the lights.

Before I go, I’ll leave you with my latest musical crush, Yuna. I wanna go……to bed.

 

Me, Myself, and My Running Shoes

It’s National Blog Posting Month (NaBloPoMo) again, and I’ll be posting everyday for the month of November. I know I only made it to Day 19 last year, but I promise this year will be different. It will be like 2014 when I stuck it out for the whole 30 days, but this time I will not be dissecting my life abroad in Thailand and South Korea, or my crippling (sometimes humorous) breakup in my home country. This year I’ll be writing to you from Victoria, Vancouver and Bangkok, with no game plan. All I can promise is that I’ll be blogging from my heart in the here and now.

Day 1, Victoria, 7pm

NaBloPoMo Prompt:  “When you’re having a bad day with your mental health, what do you do to help yourself?”

I go to my running shoes — they understand. They don’t ask questions, they just hug my feet and push me out the door. Together we chase the bad days away. They remind me that I’m strong and that I can handle the road ahead. They bring me to the here and now. The breeze on my face, the tunes in my ears, the breath from my lungs, the peace of mind, and the realization that everything is going to be okay, all come to me when I’m with my running shoes. That argument, that rejection, that failed exam, those canceled plans, all seem somewhat trivial after some quality time together. I’m inspired to move forward, not just out on the pavement, but on all the paths that make up my life. My bad days suddenly turn a little brighter, even on those rainy runs.

And running doesn’t just brighten my bad days, it turns my good days to great days, and my ‘meh’ days to better days. It’s the best mood enhancer out there, and I’ve yet to discover any negative side effects. So far the side effects have included new friendships, greater mental clarity, better blog posts, fewer colds, more restful sleep, and a stronger sense of self.  So, when my mental health is not where it should be, I lace up and  run, run until I feel that I’m ready to come home and see my world in a new light.

Awesome Memoir on Running!
Awesome Memoir on Running!

 

 

Keep Going: It’s Supposed to Be This Way

” As painful as this all is, I know that in the end things will work out how they’re supposed to, and I’ll keep going.”

Lotusgirl80, November 25, 2014

I still remember when I wrote those words. At the time, I’m not sure I whole-heartedly believed them to be true. My heartbreak was fresh, I was taking it day by day, trying to stay positive, but losing interest in those life sustaining activities, like sleeping and eating. My days went by in slow motion, and life seemed to be a chore. I had lost a piece of myself, or at least that’s how it felt. It took time, a long time, to truly believe that things would work out, and that I’d keep going.

It was the time and distance from my heartbreak that gave me a new perspective, and made me realize that all the pieces were already inside me. The love we had was beautiful, but it wasn’t perfect. We both had our faults, and I kept making excuses for him and trying to change who I was. I couldn’t see that when I was with him, and it took me a long time to realize that after we broke up. Now that I have distance, I can admit to myself that he was not the one that got away — it just wasn’t meant to be. Still, he’ll always hold a place in my heart, and the beauty of his faith and integrity will never escape me. He taught me to always be grateful, and to ask for more — not to settle.

And as I keep going, it is with gratefulness and a desire for something more. And this is reflected in all aspects of my life, not just my dating life. (I know my stories here have morphed into a dating blog recently, but there’s been a lot more going on behind the scenes.) In January, I started a post-graduate program, and after many all-nighters and internal questioning, I completed what I had started, and am now looking into new possibilities. In May, I quit a job that filled my need for productivity and belonging to the daily grind, but was ultimately no longer serving me, filling me with confusion and resentment. In June, I began following a dream that stemmed from my elementary school days, a dream to run long distances. After an intense 16-week training program, I ran my first half marathon in October, and now I have plans to run a marathon….eventually. To be honest, I’ve had my doubts along the way, but I have moved through these changes, thankful for the support of others, and my own internal drive that has kept asking for more of myself.

And love. I’ve had my doubts. For a long time, I didn’t believe it was out there and was so reluctant to make another connection, especially an online one. However, I did get back in the game, even created an online dating profile (hovering over ‘delete’ the whole time) before settling for that good-on-paper guy who totally didn’t get me. That didn’t last long, because my inner voice kept speaking out and I decided to listen. And I am so glad I did listen because I was shutting myself off to a real connection.

The real connection. I’ve met someone who gets me. I’ve met someone who makes me believe in love again. I’ve met someone who’s not afraid to share what’s on his mind, and I feel comfortable reciprocating. I’ve met someone who uses the word ‘love’ freely to talk about what matters to him, and  notices how guarded I am with that same word. I’ve met someone who makes me laugh to the point of tears. I’ve met someone who appreciates my randomness, or peculiarities, as he calls them. I’ve met someone who wants to explore the world and all the possibilities it holds. I’ve met someone who has woken me up to the possibility of an ‘us’.  And if you must know, we met on that feminist app, Bumble.

So, I’m glad I didn’t give up on online dating, and that I kept going, asking for more in all aspects of my life. I truly believe I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be.

Before I die, I want to fall in love again....
Before I die, I want to fall in love again….

 

Dating Lessons: Trust that Voice Inside

For all of you following my dating life, this is the long overdue update.  The adventures are over, and now I’ve relearned a valuable lesson. It’s one of those lessons that we’re taught at a young age, and revisit through various stages of our lives. It sounds like this….listen to your gut, follow your intuition, trust that voice inside. Spoiler: I don’t always trust that voice inside.

The last time I sat before these keys I was reminiscing about crushes and those butterflies that make new relationships so much fun. Truth be told, I was hoping that those feelings would stir in me again as I was about to embark on a third date. The third date made me think about the possibilities, but then I kept bumping into a wall, the voice inside.

On the second date, I held my introvert card tightly, but on the third date I loosened my grip. I took control of the conversation, talked about my work, my passions, my writing, and we met half way, both sharing and getting to know each other a bit more.  As we took in the art show, admiring and analyzing the paintings, I let my guard down, spoke my mind, and discovered that his ex-wife and I have something in common — we blog about him. I told him about my blog, he asked what I wrote about, and then that was it. I’m not sure I would have shared the URL with him, but he didn’t even ask. As we hugged goodbye, I missed that someone who cared about my writing.

I hushed that voice, we spent a week apart, I rationalized the little stuff, and we met again for a concert in the park.  The swing music was good, but he was more interested in showing me pictures of his new house, and I didn’t mind that. After the concert, we went for ice cream and reclined in the field next to the petting zoo. As he twirled the blades of grass between his fingers, he asked me, “Where is this going? Do you always take things this slow?” The questions caught me off guard. Was I taking things slow? Why am I still uncertain? I managed, “I’m still getting to know you. I would like to see you again.” Surprisingly, or maybe not so surprisingly, that date was sealed with a kiss and a few dancing butterflies.

That was the turning point. We started dating without such long intervals in between. I guess it was unfolding into what could become a relationship, but I still was harbouring some ambivalence. And the butterflies were beginning to clash with the voice inside. Maybe I don’t know how to date anymore? I wonder what he’s doing; is he thinking of me? Why are we still playing “who texted who first” ? We really are different. Maybe I’m not ready to date again. He is the opposite of that someone, and that is……a good thing? You don’t have to agree on everything. We can balance each other out. He’s all about efficiency, I’m about taking my time. He likes numbers, I like words. He  wants kids, I don’t. He wants to find his “missing piece” and start that family.

Then that voice inside could no longer be hushed. I’m not that “missing piece.” I’m not going to complete his puzzle, and he’s not going to complete mine.  I knew this after our first coffee date in June, but I didn’t trust my voice inside. I let this go on into August.  That morning I knew I had to stop fighting with the voice inside, I told the butterflies to settle down, and put my lipstick courage on. I gave myself a hard stare in the bathroom mirror. I remembered being here before. That was when my heart was aching, and mascara was running down my face. That was when I was trying to get over that someone, but just couldn’t. This time was different; my heart wasn’t aching, it wasn’t feeling anything. My voice inside was speaking up. This just isn’t right. I’d rather be alone than with someone that doesn’t get me. I was going to ask the hard questions this time.

“What are we doing? What do you really want? ” His reply was blurry, and I told him this isn’t working. It wasn’t fair to either one of us; we were closing ourselves off to real connections, and someone was going to get hurt. He started half-heartedly back pedaling, making excuses for us to continue dating, but I stopped him. The voice inside had had enough and wasn’t going to be ignored again. This wasn’t what I wanted.  That was the bottom line.

*****

It’s been a couple weeks since I trusted that voice inside, and I’m so glad that I did. I’m still single, but that’s okay. I want those butterflies and someone who gets me. I want someone who is a work in progress, just like me. I’m not going to settle for a guy who looks good on paper, or online. I don’t want to play it safe anymore. I’m going to trust that voice inside.

trust-the-voice-inside-2

A Soundtrack for Crushes

Do you remember that first crush? Maybe you were in high school, and it never amounted to anything more than a flutter in your heart. Maybe he didn’t even know your name, but you wrote your initials beside his in a little heart on the desk, in your notebook, and on the bathroom mirror. You knew the way he walked, and the sound of his laugh. He thought he was cool, and so did you. You imagined what you would say to him, if he asked to borrow your pen, and smiled at him behind his back.  And then when your eyes eventually did meet, he was the first to smile before you looked away, blushing.  Maybe it became more than that, maybe it didn’t, but you’ll always remember that crush.

And as you got older you still had those crushes to varying degrees. I still remember those butterflies, and how the world would stand still when I was with you. My hand fit in the crook of your arm just so, and you even sat beside me when we ate. You said it was easier to share that way.  I remember staying up till 2am and then texting that same morning to tell you I was on cloud nine. Or was it you that told me that? It’s a bit foggy now, but I do remember I forgot to pay my rent. You were the only thing on my mind. And I remember sitting there waiting for you, then the warmth of your hands on my shoulders when you did arrive, and finally that smile. Even though you were late, it was impossible to get mad at you. That was just the beginning –it all started with a crush.

And if you’re still trying to recall those sweet crushes, let the smooth vocals of  Yuna and Usher remind you.

Adventures in Dating: Second Dates

I did take down my online dating profile, but I didn’t give up on dating completely. I just decided that I was going to let things unfold naturally. So after a week of exchanging text messages with my Saturday coffee date, we settled on a second date, a Monday dinner date. Although I still felt that we were on different paths, I thought I should give it a second chance.

We agreed to meet downtown at a Szechuan restaurant, but when I arrived I found him standing outside the ‘CLOSED’ sign. This made me smile. He wasn’t as predictable and organized as I thought he was. Still set on spicy food, we found another Szechuan place, a place where he knew the owners, and was given a special menu, which I couldn’t read.  We ordered frogs, chicken, and spicy eggplant. When the dishes arrived, he asked if he could serve me, and reached for my bowl before I could answer. For a moment, it felt awkward, and I wondered if it should have been the other way around. Then I flashbacked to my time in Asia, and the only difference was that my date had actually asked, before he started piling rice and chilies in my bowl.

During the course of the meal, our lips turned a deeper shade of red as we discussed dating — online and crossing borders. I told him that I hated online dating, but he thought it was an efficient way to date. I didn’t disagree with him, but told him that I liked meeting the old-fashioned way, in person. He asked why I replied to his online message, and I told him that I recognized him. After he almost choked on a frog, I brought up our mutual friend and her potlucks. Then he also began to recall my name and Thailand in a conversation with our friend many years ago. And in the moments that followed, we felt like we knew each other a little better; we had a context outside of the online dating pool.

And he wanted to know if I dated outside the white pool, if I’d dated Asian men overseas. Yes, to overseas and at ‘home’. I knew he was expecting some profound discoveries, but to be honest, I didn’t have any for him, and I wasn’t ready to open up.  I mentioned that I found Asian men more family oriented, and I liked that, and that I found some Thai men had a flexible definition of fidelity, and I didn’t like that. (Now that I am writing this, I have a lot more to say on the topic of dating outside the Western (mainly white) pool, but I will save that for another post.)

Tennis player, Paradorn Srichaphan and Miss Canada 2005, Natalie Glebova
Famous Thai-Canadian couple (Not me!)

 

As he had asked me about my dating past, I asked about his. He thought Western women were more independent and ambitious. He felt that Asian women were more materialistic. I challenged him on his views, because I felt that they stemmed from his failed marriage, and because I know Asian women who are amazingly ambitious, and Western women who are wrapped up in material wealth. And as we talked, he told me about some of the women he’d met online: the woman who drank wine with every meal, the woman who seemed too good to be true and was — she went to Afghanistan, the woman who was a great badminton partner but nothing more, and the woman he met offline and dated for six months, before she left Canada in search of better job opportunities (she was Asian….sounds ambitious to me?). He concluded that his parents were happy that he was dating again, and that although he is traditional in many ways, he wanted to be the one to find his own mate.

After getting the topic of dating off the table, we talked about home renovations, mainly his. He pulled out his phone, pushed the half-eaten plates out of the way, and handed it to me. As I swiped through before and after pictures of his kitchen and bathroom, I couldn’t help but be impressed. Not only does he have a stable, brainy job, but he is a practical DIY guy! And he also makes his own planes — remote control planes. These planes are his passion, his ‘babies’, and he arranges playdates with fellow flyers.  At first I thought I would have to pretend to be interested, but after watching some videos on his phone, and listening to him describe the perfect landing, I didn’t have to pretend.

So, yeah, the second date went well. He’s a well-rounded guy – interesting hobbies, well-traveled, healthy lifestyle, good job, family values. Checks all the boxes for a potential mate, and anyone looking in from the outside would think he’s a great catch. But as he paid the bill, divided up the left-overs, and drove me home, I couldn’t help but feel like something was missing. Later that evening, when I texted my friend about the date, I wrote that I was holding my introvert card too tight. I felt that I didn’t share enough, and that the silences were awkward. There was a missing connection.

******

Update: We are still texting, and meeting up this weekend for the third time. We’ll see how it goes! Third time a charm, third time you’ll know, that’s my thinking!

Third date