Unplug and Look Up – JWReese

I almost got hit by a car today because I was trying to update my Facebook status while walking. Knowing it was pretty much my fault I just kinda sped up and avoided eye contact with the probably irritated driver. This incident, while minor, made me question how many other things I’m missing because of my phone… my distraction… my way to avoid eye contact when I’m nervous.

How many times have I been too into my phone to realize that someone is trying to get my attention or actually hit on me? I know this might be a pretty clumsy metaphor (hit by a car… hit on by someone) but still think about it. How often have I been too worried about updating my Facebook status that I missed the opportunity to change my relationship status? Smart phones and social media have made me very available in many ways, but at the same time so incredibly distant from even the person I’m sitting right next to.

At this point the classic romantic scene of kissing in the rain doesn’t even exist because you would get a weather alert on your phone before that could even happen. I am in no way saying I am desperately looking for a mate. I am a firm believer that when you least expect it you will meet someone who will suddenly be perfect for you at that moment in both of your lives. I am however saying that unless I unplug and look up every now and then how will I even know who is looking back?

JWReese

Awkward – An Introduction to Reese

I am awkward as ass. It’s a known fact. However if you know me you probably don’t think so: because. you. know. me.  When I meet new people I am confused and try desperately to find a common ground to stand on while I try to start conversation.  It usually consists of “how do you know ‘so and so’” or “oh, i like your outfit where did you get it?” It’s reality and I’m ok with it.

The true reality of things is I that I am so perpetually single lately and honestly a hopeless romantic at heart that I see most things as opportunity… movie-like opportunity.  I randomly meet guys and think oh this could be a cute story.  I avoid eye contact when I meet someone I think could be cute and fun to hang out with.  I picture myself eventually pushing the curls out of my eyes and looking up at who I am talking to only to see someone looking back at me just as awkwardly as I am.  One can only hope.

Let it be known that I am not hard on myself and truly do not see myself as #unDateable as I so often claim.  For, that is a joke and I am aware that no one is truly UnDateable, but we all do things that we may see within ourselves as unsavory when given the opportunity to be with the right person… or really the wrong person…. we all have to learn.

The point of this whole long-winded diatribe is that there is someone for everyone.  I know this.  You know this (whoever you are that happens upon this) And eventually things work out the way they are supposed to.  I joke that I will never find anyone again, or anyone who “gets” my work and my sense of humor… but that is not fair because I have a very small criteria for those who date me.  Get along with my friends, and make me laugh.  Other than that I have nothing.  The minute you start to focus on sexual proclivity, race, build, or height you loose the true meaning of love.  I never want to lose that or become so jaded that I no longer can look beyond superficial attributes.  We are all missing a piece. A piece we eventually find and fit perfectly with.  It just takes time to change your shape to make things fit the way you never expected they ever possibly could.

How I Discovered My Sexuality

Read aloud this at Salonathon a few weeks back! The theme was “How I Discovered My Sexuality”. Here’s my story. Thanks, as always, to Jane and Will for having me!

(Please turn on this song and listen while you read this essay. I promise it will be even better.)

Jesus is the reason.

He’s the reason I discovered my sexuality.

It’s October 1996 and we’re on the dance floor at Clinton High School homecoming. “Come on ride the train” by the Quad City DJs is booming through the loudspeakers and I can feel his boner on my leg as we train danced our 14 and 15 year old bodies. I am awkwardly taller though wearing flats and a bit too little, little black dress. My Sun In blonde hair is cut in awkward bangs, resembling a bad version of Drew Barrymore’s in Scream. He is wearing all black, except for his black tie which has green alien heads patterned across it. This is the scene of my very first kiss with a boy.

Well. so maybe it wasn’t Jesus, him directly, but he was the reason that a bunch of high school adolescents got together in the woods for a week every summer. Along with Jesus, came a cesspool of hormones and teenage love and angst. I was much more interested in the teenage love and hormones than Jesus, and hence why I met Will*.

Have you ever seen that documentary, Jesus Camp?  Yeah, that’s pretty much where I met him, just the summer before. Things like crying and testimonies by the humongous wooden cross and more crying and weeping by the campfire and Christian rock music and Michael W. Smith were common place. Blech. Oh except this was far superior to regular Jesus camp, because I went to Jesus SHOW CHOIR camp. I spent a week every summer not only praising Jesus, but learning songs and choreography to perform in front of our parents at the final show. You haven’t lived until you’ve done a song and dance routine with an umbrella singing about Noah and the flood.

How I Discovered My Sexuality

(Me at Jesus Camp. I have been crying.)

Will was blonde, blue eyed and angelic looking. His dad was the Jesus show choir camp director. Will was in a Christian band named Justify. With a cross instead of the T, ya know, for Jesus— JUStIFY. Obviously, I was smitten. I’m not sure how you become camp boyfriend/girlfriends within a few days, but by Wednesday, he was mine.

I even documented it in my journal.

Wednesday, July 24, 1996

Dear Journal, I am at camp. It has been so fun. I have a boyfriend. His name is Will. I think I’m falling in love. I don’t want to go back to Danville. Will is one of the sweetest guys. He is so special to me. I feel so good in his strong arms. I love the warmth of his body heat.

I digress, so here we are back at the Clinton High homecoming, “If you feel like dancing, come on, it’s up to you…” Finally, after months of waiting, he kisses me, “We got the sound to keep you gettin’ downtown…” It’s just as magical I pictured it. I may have to lean in a bit more than he to lock lips, him and my identical blond hair probably touching as the lyrics boom, “The train is coming through.” (There’s a special dance move you should definitely learn if you don’t it already.) I’m not sure I knew what a boner was in my 14 year old jesus camp heart, but I sure found out during this moment. We continue train dancing for the entire 7 minute song, with his 15 year old penis tenting up in his pants, resting on my leg, my ass, and poking me through his pants through the entire dance.

After the dance, we go back to his parents’ house to watch a movie, but, instead, make out, strengthening my virgin lips for two hours. Jesus kept the make out session to PG.

Don’t worry, this was also fully documented in my journal:

We got home and changed, then Will put in the movie The Birdcage. We watched it for like three minutes. Then we started making out. I don’t think we stopped for more than 30 seconds for the whole 2 hours that the movie was playing. I miss his sweet kisses so much. I miss feelings his arms around me. I miss the sound of voice. I miss his smile and his laugh and the touch of his hand and fingers intertwined with mine. I miss his wonderful blue eyes. I miss every little thing about him. I love him with all of my heart, soul, and body.

We’d go to many more dances together, my homecoming a few weeks later, the Sweetheart Dance, Sadie Hawkins, where for some unknown reason, my high school made us wear matching outfits. We wore cloned baby blue Fender guitar t-shirts I purchased at Sam Goody and sitting in the basement cafeteria, he put his hand up the cotton of mine to touch my bra for the first time. I’m sure Jesus did not approve.

We moved slowly, thanks to Jesus. That spring, we both went to a Christian youth conference, where again, teenagers praising Jesus were packed into a hotel room for a weekend. This was my first time touching a penis, of course, in the hotel hot tub.

We broke up not long after that. Soon after, I lost my virginity to an atheist.

Ironically, I got fired from that same Jesus camp four years later for making out with my co-counselor named Buddy**. Buddy was the doppelganger of Freddie Prinze Jr. We kept in touch and later, in college, Buddy went to Africa to save children at orphanages while I spent my time saving beers at Kam’s in Champaign. He became a missionary and minister, while I write risque dating essays.

I’ve lost of my love for Jesus and since discovered my love for telling stories about my dating life.

-Melinda

*Name has been changed.

**Name has not been changed, because seriously, his name was Buddy for the love of Jesus.

Being Single is Okay, Great, and Even Powerful

So as I mentioned in my last post I’m single again. I’ve had some conversations with some people about what happened. But what it comes down to, is that I know I’m happy being single, and if I’m not happy with a man, there is only so much work that can be done before I go back to living a single and fulfilled life, rather than a stressful coupled one.

Part of the reason I’ve been writing about being single, solo, and dating, for all of these years is because I’ve always wanted to help others celebrate and normalize that being solo and unpartnered is not only okay and fine, it’s pretty awesome. I grew up in a place where people get married at 22. While I try not to judge, if you get married at 22, that’s you’re own decision, it’s like if you’re not married by 25, you’re unlovable. And being childless at 32? Oh dear god, I’m sure the whole town is still shaking their heads whenever I visit.

I spent my high school and college years in very serious long term relationships, because mostly that’s what I thought I needed to do. While certainly, neither was physically abusive, I certainly stayed in both my high school and college relationships much too long. I felt suffocated, controlled, and unhappy. My college relationship was a disaster, and I spent the better part of 4 years figuring it out. It’s the biggest regret I have in my life— staying too long and not learning to be happy being single.

And now I’m single again. He banked on the fact I’d stay. He’s a great person, but just never learned to be a great boyfriend or partner, and that’s what I’m looking for. He banked on the fact that once you’re in a relationship, you should stay in one, and I have different ideas.

“I need a partner who wants to come pick me up after I’ve been gone for a week. Who remembers my bday. Who comes to see me when I’m in the ER. I have to stop pretending someday that this will be you. Because it’s not.” This was my breakup text to him.

I write all this today to hopefully continue the normalization and conversation of encouraging you to not stay in relationships when you aren’t happy. That could mean so many things. I don’t claim to know what it’s like to be physically abused, dependent on someone, share children with someone, and I certainly understand those things create complications, but please remember, don’t stay with anyone you’re not happy with. Work hard at making it work, sure, don’t just give up every time things are difficult, but please do not stay with someone, especially someone who is mentally or physically abusive. I promise you will be okay. I promise.

Of course you all saw the Ray and Janay Rice video, and you probably heard about her defending him. This upsets me to the core of my being. I don’t attempt to put Janay down, or understand, but please, if you’re in a bad relationship, get out. Just get out. Live your life solo and safe.

-Melinda

Well you’re like WAY into Black guys

Well you’re like WAY into Black guys

“Well you’re like way into Black guys.”

Wait? What? I mean, sure I have dated mostly Black men in the last, well, 10 years. But this statement, what exactly are you implying?

The gist: “You’re single and haven’t found the one yet, settled down, �?cause you’re into Black men.”

I’ve heard it all.

Black men don’t like women who are overly sexual.
Black men don’t want to commit.
Black men don’t have good jobs.
Black men will date White women but not bring them home to mom.
Black men don’t like women who are more successful.
Etc., etc., etc.

I have written for the last 5 years about dating, sex, relationships (right here of course and before that at the now defunct singledoutinchicago.com). In that time, I have never overtly written about interracial relationships or the fact that most of the stars of my dating stories were Black men. But I’m doing it now, dammit.

The primary reason I’ve been in the closet about interracial dating is because I write about the challenges, the struggle, and usually not so happy endings of dating. And I never wanted my readership to declare these stories only happened because the dudes that usually ask for my number tend to be African American. And while my friends know and have met many of the men I’ve dated, and I’ve certainly implied in many of my stories, I have always strayed away from the topic of interracial dating, because that was never the point. Because we all know when two people of the same race get together there are never issues or problems (eye roll).

I didn’t make a conscious decision, and still don’t, to have a racial preference in dating. All I know is that when I started dating post college, that’s simply who talked, interacted, and did things like say hello and ask for my number. I look at the simple statistics of my OkCupid messages received from men, in which nowhere in my profile is there mention of any sort of history or who I want to be with based on skin color, and Black men are 90% of who sent me messages. (OkCupid shows some data on this.) That’s just simply who has shown interest and I’ve always been cool with that.

Do I think I subconsciously have made this decision? Sure. At a certain point we all get comfortable (probably too comfortable) with a type. Mine happens to be tall, hipstery dudes donning plaid shirts, tortoise shell glasses, and Black. When I walk into a crowded bar or scan profiles of matches, this is who I notice first.

And sure I can tell you I’ve dated all races of men, blah, blah, blah which I certainly have, but I don’t want to pretend that I don’t have a type and tell people “I don’t see color,” because I do. I just saw Taye Diggs on Seth Meyers and contemplated him naked. Idris Elba is the star of my wet dreams and I picture my future biracial children quite often.

So I may be “way into Black guys” as my half-Black ex said to me, but dude, Black men are way into me. Just like people tell me all the statements about why I am approaching 32 and single because I date Black men, they all tell me opinions on why they’re all about me. I am curvy: “You have an ass.” I have a pixie haircut: “Black men like short hair.” I am tall: “Black men like tall women.” Most of the reasons are physical, none ever having to do with the fact that I am bright, intelligent, grounded, successful, polite, caring, and sincere.

And many people imply I’m “way into a Black guys” thanks to a fetishization and over sexualized physical stereotype (in case you’re considering what I mean here— that Black dudes are well endowed). Damn people, if that’s all I was looking for, I’d just go to a sex toy shop. That’s what dildos are for.

Recently there was a Gawker piece about the realities of interracial dating written by a Black dude. Just like any personal opinion piece, there were a variety of reactions to it. One I read stating “Nobody cares that you date White girls.”

But we do. Until 1967, if I fell in love with a Black man in many states we wouldn’t have been able to get married. The story and legacy of Emmett Till is much too fresh and recent to just pretend we’re living in a post racial place where interracial relationships, the biracial children they at many times produce, and the racism, both subtle and inherent, don’t exist. I mean damn, just last year there were so many racist comments on YouTube about that Cheerios commercial that the comments had to be turned off.

It’s okay to talk about culture and our identities and how it affects all aspects of our lives- dating, sex, relationships, and otherwise- as long as we can understand the micro and macro effects and we don’t make sweeping generalizations about a community or race or people.

So yes, my boyfriend is Black. Yes, I am in an interracial relationship. Yes, I’m going to talk about it.

-Melinda

DISAGREED: Anti-Tinder Tries to Solve Online Dating’s Creepiness Problem

You may have seen this article today in the Huffington Post Tech about the new dating app, Hinge. Well, new to Chicago, and that means new to me. Hinge sends you 6 matches a day, based on your larger social media network. So you’re connected to friends of friends who have also signed up for the app.

I’ve been a Hinge user for a few months. I don’t check it all the time, I only have the app on my iPad, and last night I signed on in to look at my daily matches.

So turns out Hinge is actually the creepiest goddamned dating app I’ve ever used.

Because…

It matched me with a kid I used to babysit in 1996.

DISAGREED: Anti-Tinder Tries to Solve Online Dating’s Creepiness Problem

A few notes on that point.

A) I’m not from Chicago. I grew up 3 hours south in a small town. There are maybe 30 people in the city from my hometown. This kid and I grew up a block away from each other. My mother has known his mother since like 1989 when she was pregnant with this kid.

B) My first… serious boyfriend… (first. serious. boyfriend. Get it?) is his cousin. They share the same last name.

So Hinge brings to me the people I know, attempting to be anti-creepy, but actually provides maybe the creepiest match I’ve ever gotten.

AND thus provides the story of my dating life.

[drops mic]

Melinda

The Less Than 36 Hour Relationship

This is how a get together, relationship, and breakup occurred within less than 36 hours.

Sunday, 4:09 PM

Browse through Tinder. Swipe right on a 24 year old, 7 years your junior, because against my better judgement, well, he’s cute. Tada! You match.

4:15 PM

Cute kid sends a message. I insist he’s too young, he disagrees.

4:15 – 8:30 PM

Send witty Tinder messages. Exchange numbers. Send witty text messages.

8:31 PM

“Hey it’s D—. It too late to meet up tonight?” Says he’ll be there to pick me up in 30 minutes. Arrives early, am half naked. Throw on some random outfit and run outside to his car in the rain. Head to neighborhood hotspot.

10:00 PM

2 drinks in. Cuter than ever. Discuss music, politics, school, career. Bat eyes in the booth.

12:05 AM

Drives me home. Kisses me in the car. Invites himself in.

1:21 AM

Departs back to the North side.

Monday, 9:29 AM

Receive text message referring to last night’s conversation.

9:52 AM

Add him on gchat.

10:15 AM

Gchat friend about the kid. Explain how he has his shit together more than last ex, though is only 24 years old. Friend reminds me having his shit together more than your last ex isn’t a difficult feat. Ah yes.

10:15 AM – 5:05 PM

Spend day communicating, exchanging music recommendations, sending witty gchats. Looking at his public photos on Facebook, Googling his name.

7:22 PM

Text messages:

D: I know you’re interested in me.

Me: You do huh?

8:47 – 9:41 PM

Launch texting debate/argument about empathy, social justice, and social issues. Get turned off by young Republican propaganda. Stop texting.

11:02 PM

Text message inviting me over. Consider it, but remember parking in his yuppy neighborhood is impossible.

11:07 PM

Reconsider and inquire about his stock in prophylactics.

11:07-11:31 PM

Have argument about using prophylactics. Get accused of having an STI for insisting on using prophylactics.

11:31 PM

Receive the following text message referring to opinion on safe sex:

“That’s the gayest shit I’ve ever heard in my life.”

11:32 PM

Explain that it’s actually the straightest conversation as there was discussion of heterosexual sex.

12:03 AM

Text: “That frat boy persona you got going on is not cute.” Block from Tinder and Google Voice. Go to sleep.

Note to self: Do not date 24 year olds and/or Republicans. 

-Melinda

P.S. We had the whole “where is this going” chat at about hour 20.

I Have Enough Platonic Friends

I Have Enough Platonic Friends

So this happened today.

I was set to have drinks tonight with a dude from a few years back. He’s popped up now and again. I was actually supposed to meet up with him the day I met the last dude I was dating, but he stood me up. I was pissed, starting dating the last one, and didn’t talk to him again.

But of course now I’m single. So I went for it, Bold Moves, and asked him out. He said yes, lovely, wonderful, we make plans.

Then at 5 pm he texts me this.

I am not interested in forgetting that point. The last exchange we had was relatively in depth about things he was interested in doing, and not just having a martini.

I didn’t respond to him suggesting to forget that point.

For years now, I have stayed friends, sometimes lovers, and drinking buddies with tons of dudes I’ve dated. For the most part, it’s been great. But it’s starting to grate on me.

I see Instagram photos of a dude I dated three times with his new girlfriend at fancy restaurants where he never took me, just a few weeks after he told me I’m the “best he ever had” (duh). I ran into another ex who was on a date at the bar where I work, the same one who a week earlier looked me up and down so hard it made my coworker about spit out her beer. I met up for drinks with one who broke my heart and who was moving out of town, only for him to ask me to come visit him in Michigan.

But never, ever, do these dudes ask me on a proper date.

And it’s my own fault. Because I keep them in my life, mostly for good reasons, but it doesn’t contribute to moving on and trying to find someone and something meaningful. These platonic, now-friends-ex-dudes, hit on me, call me when they’re lonely, and see me as their hot, sexy, cool, ex, but not someone they’re interested in actually dating or being in a relationship with.

And I’m not adding another one.

Instead, tonight, I’m going out with my dude friend who is not an ex boyfriend or anything of the sort. We’re gonna drink whiskey and I’m going to tell him about the aforementioned guy above and I’ll be happy I’m hanging out with a friend who is actually a friend.

-Mel

The Stuff I Leave Behind

Carly and I wrote once about the stuff left behind, by guys. But I haven’t touched on the stuff, the baggage, the things I have discarded in apartments, lost under beds, throughout a multitude of neighborhoods in this city.

I got a text from a dude who I dated for a minute saying, “You will be pleased to know I found your earrings.” (I seem to lose many a pair of earrings.)

I have not talked to this guy in at least 6 months. And just now you have found those earrings that I asked you to search for 6 months ago?

I once started something with an old flame because we met up again so he could return my stuff. Nothing all that important— a scarf, a Bears t-shirt, a hat. But he had that stuff for almost two years. I hadn’t spoke to him in over a year. He moved this random crap from apartment to apartment with that stuff still in hand, so why just now decide to give it back?

Here’s my theory:

Guys (and all people possibly) hold onto the stuff left behind until they decide they want to see you again. It’s held as a type of personal collateral for when they’re feeling lonely, bored, or undersexed, and then BAM, a solid excuse to see you. Currently, a dude is holding onto (yet another) pair of earrings and a hand knit scarf (I’m also really great at leaving scarves around town apparently). Sure, the earrings cost $3 at H&M and the scarf was a Columbia student’s art project, but damn it, I want them back. But I also know sometimes it’s just not worth it, and sometimes it’s better to cry about those super cute earrings you’ll never see again rather than cry because homedude disappointed you, yet again.

What I hadn’t considered is what people hold onto that isn’t physical stuff. The quirks that only a few people know. The intimate details of the sound of my teeth grinding while I sleep or my super ugly toenails. But deeper than that too. The knowledge of the raw details about me as a person— my fears, my scars, my insecurities.

This is the stuff, the collateral, the ransom, much more difficult to leave behind. So when your ex tells you he misses you, this is what surfaces. This is the stuff left behind that you’re not sure you ever want to share with anyone else. Why sometimes it’s easier to want to get it back and in turn, just get back with him.

I’ve evaluated this concept quite deeply today, and while it’s tempting to answer that call of “I miss you” and regain that collateral, sometimes, just like that hand knit scarf, you have to let it go and go back to H&M and buy a new $3 pair of earrings. Or in this case OkCupid and for a new dude. The new ones are more modern, sturdy, taller, shinier, exciting, supportive, and hot anyway. You may have to take some time to search, but don’t go back just to find what you thought you lost.

-Melinda

Flakes are for Corn and Soap

“Yo, what’s up wit these chicks flaking out online?”

Actual line of gchat conversation received this Tuesday morning from a friend.

So being the good dating advice giver that I am, I helped him diagnose the problem of the flaky chicks. I’ve decided to share these thoughts with you. You’re welcome.

1) Get off match.com, take that $30 a month, and buy a girl from Tinder a few drinks. My friend, being recently single, hasn’t joined the 2014, cough, or 2009, online dating scene. Stop paying for online dating people, really. Especially here in Chicago. Because if you’re on match.com, you’re also on OkCupid (free), Tinder (free), Hinge (free), Plenty of Fish (free but horrid), (even FetLife (free) if that’s your thing) and the copious amounts of other free services made for meeting people to bang date within minutes of the Magnificent Mile.

This city is small, with not that many single people in your age/height/body type/miles range who are willing to date online. Instead, take that money and god forbid, pay for a drink or two. You don’t have to take her to the Aviary, but stop spending your time emailing and meet for drinks or coffee in person. She’ll be much more impressed with your ability to discuss your man crush on Derrick Rose rather than read your boring emails about what your dog did today.

2) Which brings me to my next point (which I have reiterated many times), stop spending six years crafting witty emails before you meet in person. This is exactly why girls be flaking. Sh*t or get off the pot, as they say. I’ve made the mistake of dreaming about my future wedding with some dude I was emailing/texting/Tinder messaging with only to meet him in person and realize I’d have more fun watching my mother check her email. You’ll spend your relationship in person, mostly, rather than communicating in writing, so just go ahead and meet in person and get used to it.

My friend explained he needs five messages before setting up a date. FIVE?! And you’re asking me why women are flaking!? He also explained he needs a screening process. In modern dating times, swiping right is the only screening process there is anymore. Get over it. If a girl is crazy, she’ll be crazy after 1 email or 5. Just get it over with.

3) If you don’t have lots of time, arrange to meet the person before another commitment. Or lie, I don’t care. If you’re worried about the time it takes to screen the ladies or gents in person, arrange a happy hour date and explain you have to volunteer at the dog shelter at 7:30 (or you have a date with a frozen pizza, your couch, and your cat), so you only can stay for a drink or two. You know when there is chemistry and when there isn’t. Remember, time, place, date, is all we need.

Give two options for a time to meet, “Does Tuesday or Wednesday at 5:30 work for you? If not, when are you free?” BOOM. Stop it with the, “Maybe next week sometime when I’m not so busy” because we’ll get ADD and move on to the next cute dude sending us messages.

If you follow all these rules and a person is still flaky, dump them and move on to the next on your feed. If they’re not actually wanting to use online dating applications, for ya know, dating, then the person isn’t worth the trouble or your time crafting all those witty emails anyway.

<3,

Melinda