EDIT: I wrote most of this last night at 1AM while thinking way too hard. NAVEL GAZING AHOY.
Have you ever hated a phrase?
I’m starting to develop a list. I’m not a fan of “we need to talk”, and I’m a firm believer that “just wait on God’s time” or “just wait, the universe has something for you” are the worst things you can say to a person struggling with loneliness. I tend to see red whenever people who hate children on the internet refer to babies as “crotch goblins” (they’re people, smh, you don’t have to like them, but you do have to be a damn adult) and “we’re not going to fix the Coke Zero machine” is one of the meanest things anyone has ever said to me. (Lookin’ at you, Huntsville Target Cafe.)
There’s a new one, though, and that new phrase is “hey gorgeous”.
It sounds innocuous, doesn’t it? And usually, it is. I even say it to my bestie, because she’s hella cute and needs to be reminded, but this is an entirely different context.
I’ve been trying internet dating.
I know. I know.
Internet dating is somewhat like shopping for a Ferrari at the Dollar Tree. I can make a list of all the things I want out of my shopping trip, but no matter how much I want a car that costs as much as a house, all I’m going to find is aisles full of cheap fake flowers, school supplies I don’t need, and chocolate that I’ll absolutely regret later.
So many people tell me they’ve had great results. I know people who met their spouses on Tinder. Tinder! Tinder is the dumpster truck of the internet, and yet there are, apparently, people I know with happy marriages and several children who met by swiping right.
So, since I’m a self-employed recluse who bursts into socially anxious flames when crossing the threshold of a club, I tried it. Again. I usually last all of three days before something makes me cry and I delete the app, but this time, I swore I’d give it at least two weeks. I downloaded Tinder and OkCupid and regularly used both every day for the last fourteen days.
The result is a resounding ugh.
Here are some bullet points detailing my experience:
“Hey gorgeous, wanna [do incredibly lewd and graphic thing] with me?”
“No, thank you.”
“I only send messages like that to ugly girls anyway, it’s the only thing you’re good for.”
“Hi! You seem nice!”
[five minutes of pleasant conversation]
“You should get Snapchat so you can send me pictures of your ass and feet.”
“Hey gorgeous, I love big fat girls. Mmmmmm.”
“Hey, gorgeous, what do you do?”
[A few minutes of pleasant conversation, this one seems promising.]
“So what do you like in bed?”
You can see why the phrase is starting to get to me.
But Em, I hear you cry, why are you putting yourself through this? Part of it is that I’m a grown woman and all of my friends have other lives that are kicking into gear, and I can’t expect them to be everything to me all the time. Due to things that are no-one’s fault, I have found myself alone lately more than I’d like, and instead of placing the burden of my insecurity on all the people around me, I’m putting on my big girl pants and trying to find something for myself.
The other reason lies somewhere in my deep obsession with the movie The Princess Bride.
I love love. It does not, so far, seem to love me.
The other thing I’m doing with my time is working my way through The Artist’s Way.
It’s a 12-week course, but I’ve worked through a few weeks twice, so basically I’ve been working through it for about four months, and there are two things I’ve learned from it so far.
- The Morning Pages ritual is one of the most helpful tools not just in my creative toolbelt, but in my anxiety-managing toolbelt. It’s a very simple daily ritual – sit down, write three pages of stream of consciousness without stopping, every day. It makes things clearer and keeps a lot of things that normally weigh me down from getting to me throughout the day.
- Whew boy, I am one anxious cookie, and literally no one can ever read these morning pages or I’ll have to kill them.
For anyone considering The Artist’s Way, I’d say try it. It works (I’m here writing a blog post after a year of staring at blank screens if that’s any indication) and you’ll get to know yourself and your idiosyncrasies pretty well.
While my days lately have been full of the men of my nightmares, understandably, my morning pages have been full of the man of my dreams. I doubt I’ll ever meet an artsy, confident, well-read dude who is also A) willing to propose by singing This Gift by 98 Degrees on Christmas Eve B) has a fetish for women with an annoyingly encyclopedic knowledge of both the Elder Scrolls games and Star Wars: Legends, and C)is not also already married to someone else, but a girl can dream.
Shouldn’t you have just gone to bed?
I mean definitely yes. I should definitely pretty much always go to bed earlier than I do, but alas, there’s navel-gazing to do and Skyrim lore videos aren’t gonna watch themselves.
I’ve been thinking a lot about the parallels and wondering which one came from the other. Did I start writing about my desire for a partner and then decide to get proactive? I feel pretty strongly that I can’t just sit and wait for this particular part of my life to fulfill itself because I’m 32 and the time for just ~stumbling~ into love has pretty much passed me by, or at least it feels that way combined with my working at home and the fact that my last real relationship was thirteen years ago.
You hear so many stories about people finding love when they stop looking, but I’m not sure if that’s even a thing. Over the last decade-and-three, I’ve looked, and not looked, and nothing has happened but a few brief interludes into heartache.
Or, conversely, did my morning pages start sounding like a thirteen-year-old’s diary (I want a boy with dreamy hair and a nice voice who loves babies and books!) because I was constantly throwing myself against the brick wall that is finding love on the internet?
And how does it affect my art?
I have always written love stories.
I mean, they’re usually weird love stories. They’re love stories between a wizard and his bodyguard or the children of superheroes or two different fantasy “chosen ones” but they’re still love stories.
It’s something I’ve only just sort of…become aware of? Which sounds ridiculous, because I’ve been writing for fifteen years, but all this introspection brought on by The Artist’s Way has sort of brought things to the surface, and I’m fairly certain that’s got something to do with the fact that I rarely ever finish things. My love of lore and worldbuilding (seriously, give me a world where it’s lore has lore ) has led me to try and force my work into The Hobbit or Harry Potter but I don’t know if that’s what I’m going to be good at, and I’m also kind of anxious about being labelled as a romance writer in the professional sense. I don’t look down on those writers, but I’m a little wary of telling those close to me I’m a romance writer, for fear of that “oh”, and people just assuming all I write is fluff. Being pigeonholed isn’t…a great thing.
Lately the things I write have gotten a little wish-fulfillment-y. I outlined a script about a woman falling in love with her 90s boy band crush. I sketched bits of a short story about a plus-sized woman confessing her love to a crush and finding out it wasn’t unrequited. It’s great, cause I, yanno, wrote things. On the other hand, it’s a little embarrassing because literally!! no one!! likes!! this topic!!
I can talk about the intricacies of dealing with navigating a love-life in your thirties but it makes people feel so out of sorts because they don’t know what to say. And that’s understandable, because there’s something big and juicy and awkward underlying the fact that I am a woman in my thirties who has never dated anyone for longer than four months more than a decade ago. It’s definitely possible to talk about in fiction, but it feels so transparent, like people can see the sad fat girl writing real life fanfiction about how she wishes she had a boyfriend.
So, I dunno. This article doesn’t have a quippy end. I’ve been thinking a lot about my dusty, unused love life and how it relates to writing and not being able to finish things and what I’m actually trying to achieve with my writing life, and here’s what I’ve come up with.
1. Tinder makes Mos Eisley Cantina look like a nice, well-vacuumed convention center where they have charity galas for boy scouts.
2. I’ve spent WAY too much time considering my own motivations, to the point that I’ve considered telling myself to get a life.
3. I know what I want from a partner, which is more than I can say for like…my future, so yay?
4. If you made it this far I have real friends.
5. Can I just date Luke Skywalker? Sometimes I look at Mark Hamill’s twitter feed and think that twelve year old me had the right idea. If you know Luke Skywalker or Tuxedo Mask, hit me up.
If you read this far I love you very much and will most certainly buy you tacos in the future.
POSTSCRIPT: I am not down about this right now! I’m actually okay, other than the vague loneliness. I drank good coffee today! I’m gonna draw some fun pictures and go to my favorite restaurant with my excellent roommates later.
A lot of people think I’m sad when I start talking about this (which, fair, because I do get sad about it. a lot. but the only person I talk to when I’m said about that knows exactly who she is and I owe her so, so many tacos). when I’m just…musing out loud. My own situation baffles me sometimes, both in how I got to a place where my love life belongs in an antique shop, and what I can do about it while working at home and existing in a stage of life where most people are already paired off, and sometimes I just. Need to ramble. So that’s what this was, haha.
THANKS FOR LISTENING. I will be back at you with a different, less weird post tomorrow! (I’m gonna try to update as much as possible for right now, just because it feels good to write something and put it out.)