January 26, 2008

LOVE isn't always such a big deal (that train has sailed)

One-way ticket from Seattle to D.C., check.

Girlfriend, check.

Baggage, emotional or otherwise, check.

Has it really been three years now since my last post lamenting the awkward first steps of my budding relationship? It's been officially over for a few months now, but I have no regrets. Shall I go into the reasons for the failure of my relationship?

Let me just say first that it had nothing to do with my inability to say "I Love You." Hardly; not long after I wrote that post (which in retrospect seems more than a little silly now), I somehow "discovered" what love was and so felt I could say the four-letter word without a guilty conscience. Isn't it amazing how easy it is for the ends to justify the means?

I can't say for sure what caused the demise of my relationship any more than I can declare the reasons for the fall of the Western Roman Empire (barbarians at the gates, economic woes, subcontracting military work to said barbarians, an unstable political system; damn it, shut up subconscious-self). One of the main causes for tension in the relationship was my decision two years ago to move to Washington, D.C. I wanted my girlfriend to come here with me. I loved her, I enjoyed being with her, I wouldn't know anyone else out here, and most importantly, I sure as hell needed help paying the rent in this expensive ass area. But I knew if she ended up hating it here, she would blame me forever. Which is exactly what happened. (This is why clairvoyance is pointless. Even if everyone of us knew the future, we would still make the same damn mistakes. That's what makes humans humans, and cute. Cute, foolish humans.)

Taking into account the high probability of the girlfriend-hating-me-for-making-her-move-to-D.C.- factor, I made a point of not asking her to come with me. That way if she decided to come with me, she would have only herself to blame for her unhappiness. No guilty conscience; my hands were clean. In my mind, it would be as if we both decided simultaneously, and without consulting each other, to move to D.C. Of course, much like Bill Clinton's opinion of Barack Obama's stance on the war in Iraq, this was very much a fairy-tale. I was the only one who wanted to move to D.C. I had the interest in politics; I wanted to make a career of it; I was the one who felt he couldn't be happy if he didn't pursue his career aspirations.

And of course like the great girlfriend she was, she came with me. If the situation was reversed, I don't think I would have made the same decision. I'm not sure if that makes me a bad person or not. The reason I say that is because my ex-girlfriend made the impossibly difficult decision to leave her friends and family (who she loves greatly) and the only place she has ever called home (Seattle) to move away to a strange city with an ungrateful bastard who didn't share any of the same hangups (me).

Needless to say, the first year in D.C. was pretty interesting. We lived on Capitol Hill, only a few blocks from the Library of Congress, Supreme Court and the U.S. Capitol. I was pretty much enthralled with the place. So much to see and do, so many neighborhoods and watering holes to explore, and so damn easy to get around without a car (thank you Metro). Even better, my good friend from college was already out here, so it was fairly simple to tap into his social network. All systems were GO. Or not.

Predictably, my girlfriend hated it. She struggled to find a job at first, so she spent the first two months at home doing nothing, just waiting for me to get home from work so she would have someone she knew to talk to. She missed her family incessantly. She didn't like the city, she didn't feel safe. She was not interested in meeting new people or making friends (people out here were just different, she felt). Things, were, rough. Let me tell you. A relationship does not have room for a man, a woman and unhappiness. Much as Yoda would say, unhappiness leads to sadness, sadness leads to anger, and anger leads to...suffering (I really hope the voice of Yoda just said that sentence in your head).

Now let me tell you, things weren't exactly a piece of cake for me. I transferred from the company I worked at in Seattle to one of their branches in D.C. I hated it. My boss was utterly incompetent, my hours sucked, and it just wasn't what I wanted to do. I sacrificed a few things to come to D.C. too, and I sure as hell didn't come out here to do something that wasn't in the political realm. I rarely got to see my girlfriend, I never had enough money (damn you D.C. cost of living!) and I missed my beloved Seattle (oh, and I missed my friends and family too ;).

Needless to say, the situation didn't exactly play out according to plan. I don't think I had ever truly known what it was like to have someone hate me, but that's how it seemed my girlfriend felt about me. I don't even need to tell you, feeling like someone that you love hates you can be a crushing blow to your sense of worth. Our relationship was effectively over less than a year after we moved out here. Now, we still lived together and that shit got ugly. If I wasn't one of the real-life players, it probably would have been funny. But it wasn't, so stop laughing.

It's been about two years since we both moved out here. She eventually got a decent job, gets compensated very decently for her work and is living in her own place (don't even ask me why she didn't move back to Seattle, lord knows she threatened to do it many times). It took me a year before I finally got an internship, but that eventually led to an interesting job doing fundraising for non-profits. It's not exactly what I'd like to be doing, but it makes me content for the moment.

We still talk occasionally (and weirdly enough, live a few blocks from each other in Virginia), but as far as the cool-ass love that we shared, well, let's just say that train has sailed. I guess love, that four-lettered word of my hypocrisy, isn't always such a big deal.

For the last time,

Bare Witness

January 15, 2005

When LOVE is a four-letter word.

Heart Shaped Box, not an actual heart.As I am writing this, "Steve the Cat" by Dosh is playing on my computer speakers, part 2 of my public transportation post is MIA and my girlfriend is in another state perhaps wondering if I love her.

If anyone actually follows this blog, they will have noticed that it has been collecting dust for the past few months on some neglected cyberspace shelf. I wrote a compelling argument the day after the Presidential election as to why Americans had finally correctly voted for the wrong man, but due to some boneheadedness of mine I never saved the first draft and the whole thing disappeared into nothingness. The frustration this mistake caused after such an emotional election process is responsible for me not posting for a few weeks. The girl I started dating soon afterward and have spent the majority of my subsequent time with is the reason I have been absent for the rest.

She is a great person, and though we have not been together that long we have worked in the same department for quite a while now. Some how we have managed to keep our "office romance" relatively quiet to ensure a healthy progression in our relationship and to prevent any uncomfortable situations with a meddling management. This will all have seemed for naught when we arrive together for our work's upcoming belated holiday party. We have had functions for work that we have both attended but separately; it has been very difficult to feign a casual friendship at these things. With this in mind, we both came to the same conclusion that we were going to go to the holiday party together, have a good time, and just hope for the best.

Right now my girlfriend is preparing for the celebration of the love between her friend and her friend's fiancee not knowing if I love her or not. Last night for the first time she said, without saying it, that she loved me. My response, "I don't know what love is." Granted, I was intoxicated, but this was a stupid thing to say. I tried to ease the situation by telling her how much I cared for her, and telling her that I have never been in love before, but she just ended up feeling foolish and that night we both slept on a bed of hurt feelings and misunderstanding. I have never in my short life ever come so close to saying "I love you" to some one, but there have been more than a few times when we were together where I felt the words close to bubbling out of my mouth.

I do not know what to do, I do not want to lose her. Maybe I am making this a bigger deal than it should be, and that perhaps it is just the first bump on the road to an otherwise successful relationship. Time will tell..

October 11, 2004

Welcome to Public Transit: Hurry Up and Wait (Pt 1)

Part 1

When I first moved to Seattle from my hometown, it took me two years before I gave into riding the Metro.

The day that I turned sixteen I swore off all forms of public transportation in favor of the freedom of driving my own motor vehicle. Where I lived this was not an issue: gas was cheap, SUVs were plentiful and there was parking as far as the eye could see. These were glorious days. When I arrived at the University of Washington I soon learned that finding free parking was impossible, parallel parking an oversized vehicle was out of the question and the high cost of living made petroleum far out of the reach of a starving college student; throw in the mix a few hundred dollars in parking violations and soon my days of reckless automotion were numbered.

For those unaware of King County's Metro Transit System, it is one the most effective ways of transporting people in and out of Seattle and the surrounding areas. Having said that, transportation in Western Washington's dense urban areas and between them is a joke. Interstate 5 is the primary means of getting people from place to place, especially commuters on weekday mornings and evenings. Every day rush hour traffic is completely clogged and congested on a level par with cities exponentially larger than ours like Los Angeles and New York. The problem? Though I-5 was ahead of its time when it was built in the 1960's, the population explosion of the Puget Sound area in recent decades has made it now a relic of the past. This has pushed our interstate to the limits of its capacity, with no complementary mode of transportation to accommodate its overflow. Though shrewd local leaders and active citizens have helped initiate audacious attempts to get people moving again (like Sound Transit's Light Rail project and the expansion of the Monorail), they have both had to struggle with financial hurdles and fiery criticism.

Where does this leave a hopeless pedestrian like myself? Forced to get uncomfortably familiar with the newest emerging class in Western Washington: the hapless public transit rider. Cutting across all classes, races and sexes these people defy definition. They have the same common goals: getting to their destination quickly and reliably, not paying for parking and often not paying for transportation at all. As much as the Metro is an egalitarian method of transportation, its rider demographic varies wildly depending on the time of day, day of the week and location of the bus route. Case in point: boarding in the outermost parts of the city in the early hours of a week day morning, you are likely to have your shoulder drooled on by a slumbering professional, wearing a shitty Jerry Garcia necktie, on his way downtown for his first fair-trade latte of the day. Six hours later and one stop into the ride free area you are likely to have your shoulder drooled on by an exhausted homeless man, reaking of fortified wine and GPC cigarettes, on his way into and out of the city several times looking for a few peaceful minutes of shut-eye.

For most of us, we'd rather be traveling to our destinations by almost any other means. Whether it be our car, our bike or our own two feet, taking the bus means robbing ourselves of a little bit of our constitutionally guaranteed individualism. Until parking and gas gets cheaper or people stop kicking us when we're sleeping on the sidewalk, we're stuck together. But as you the reader will soon find out, life on the Metro is often less than peaceful.

October 02, 2004

John Kerry is His Own Best Enemy

There's an eruption going on here somewhere.

Mount St. Helens

John Kerry

All hell is breaking loose in America. Florida has been incessantly ravaged by hurricanes for the past month, California's tectonic plates are having a point of contention once again, Mount St. Helens is blowing its top and John Kerry is ahead in the public opinion polls.

Seizing on the opportunity to first agree before disagreeing with himself, John Kerry ended the first presidential debate of 2004 looking like a winner. How did he ultimately accomplish this? By attacking his own weaknesses better than George W. More specifically he had to become more like George Bush. He appeared resolute, determined, authorative...presidential. No flipping and/or flopping.

Yet things haven't always been this rosy for John Kerry.

The Bush campaign has been having a field day the past few months pointing out John Kerry's inconsistencies; with little to no counter from Kerry's side. The best attack the Kerry campaign has been able to muster is bringing up W's service record, and we all saw how that blew up in Dan Rather's face. What John Kerry should have learned from the Swift Boat Veterans fiasco is that the best way to beat someone is to turn their strengths into weaknesses: Kerry is a decorated Vietnam veteran; fact, he didn't deserve his metals, was a horrible Swift Boat Captain (re: poor leader) and probably was an agent for the Vietcong. John Kerry is a seasoned veteran of the Senate that opposed the war in Iraq; fact, he is out of touch with mainstream America, "flip flop's" on important issues and most likely brokered the deal between Saddam Hussein and Osama Bin Laden.

John Kerry may feel like the golden child after what he accomplished on Thursday, but he ultimately didn't fully utilize the George W. Bush attack method. He may have defended himself deftly, but he didn't take the president's strengths and turn them against him. If George Bush is decisive, then why isn't he single-minded? If George Bush is resolute, then why isn't he recklessly unyielding? So far the Kerry campaign has conceded to us that President Bush made the wrong decision at the wrong time; because he is unwilling to compromise, why doesn't he make the worst decisions all of the time, without afterthought?

Even if the Kerry campaign eventually moves toward implementing George Bush's proven attack technique, he still lacks one definitive Bush quality that he can never obtain, humanity. At the end of the day, most Americans believe that President Bush is more like them than John Kerry will ever be. Say what you want about utilizing empathy as a requirement for electing a president, but with two questionable candidates on the ballot, it's hard to reason why not.

September 24, 2004

Lack of Sex, Drugs and Rock and Roll: Welcome to My Personal Life

Good looks, good sex, good OJ. The morning-after myth.Now that Summer has decidedly fallen on its face, everyone has dusted off their umbrellas and neatly packed away their shorts for a much needed 9 month vacation, it's finally time to start emptying our emotional baggage in preparation for the start of Seasonal Affected-mood Disorder season.

I will start mine off in a typically American fashion, with the disclaimer: If you ask anyone, my friends, family, and even former significant others, I am a good person. I try to be sensitive, caring, understanding, supportive; a real stand-up guy. But I've never been good with relationships; I have dated only a hand-full of women, and typically have gotten shat on in the process. Needless to say these sparse relationships have never ended on my terms.

It's now been about three years since I have seriously dated someone, and dare I say it...about a year and a half since I have had sexual intercourse. Now don't get me wrong, I am a relatively decent looking man, have no problem with social interaction or suffer from medically problematic halitosis. In fact, contrary to what my record suggests, I have participated in sporadic bouts of foreplay in the meantime. Without the blessing of a square jaw or cut physique though, it has been difficult to convince a woman that I am worthy of passing the genetic torch with outside of the social confines of a relationship; not that friends and associates joking that I'm playing for the wrong team has helped either.

Why all of this elaborate exposition? Because in the innocent pursuit of the elusive petite mort I may have used someone, and worse yet, hurt their feelings. To cut to the chase, the person in question was a co-worker of mine, who we'll call "Stacy", that:

  1. Has/had feelings for me
  2. Recently broke up with her significant other
  3. Was quitting and moving away to a far off place, making the likelihood of us ever seeing each other again somewhere between zero and none.

This should have been a win-win situation for both parties.

The story goes: After having a few too many drinks with my co-workers at a bar I spent the night at her house; which was weird. Nothing crazy happened, I felt bad about the situation so I got Stacy's phone number and said I would call her. Eventually I made the call, I went out with her and some of her friends, she hung on me, held my hand and seemingly did everything in her power to make me feel like I was in some kind of claustrophobic relationship with her; which was weirder. I spent another tame night at Stacy's house again, at her behest. The next day she called me, I told her I was going out with Bright Eyes to a specific club and that she could meet me there if she wanted. As the night progressed I saw the bottom of more than a few tumblers but didn't see Stacy until she announced her presence by accidentally spilling her drink on me. I didn't remember anything after that until the next morning when I woke up in my bed with Stacy next to me; which was the weirdest. She called me later that day, but I was in no condition to even fall out of bed. The following day Stacy packed all of her belongings up and left the city.

There are three key themes to the preceding sequence of events:

  • Alcohol putting me in regrettable situations
  • Me being weirded out
  • No one getting laid, specifically myself.

Call me selfish, egotistical or just an asshole, but I don't think I acted inappropriately during my limited time with Stacy, others may disagree, which is why I feel somewhat bad. I probably should call her to set things straight, but I'm still pretty much weirded out. Not only can I not meet anyone worth dating, I'll probably go without sex for another year and a half. Such is life.