Murky Monday, Jun 9 2008 

Yeah, I kinda called it – The Young Man and I were unable to meet up before his departure.  Early last week, I shot him a casual little e-mail hoping that things were going well.  Eventually, he responded, and it was nice to hear that he is having a good time, both socially and academically.  I also got out of the house, KSP and I went out for a beer and some chitchat, and were later joined by her beau 2A.  We talked bad movies and ran into a large portion of our social circle.  We all shot the shit, and it was fun.  Out past midnight, which is quite the rarity for me.

KSP, God bless her, can be a known meddler.  And I say this knowing full well that she is a semi-regular visitor to the blog.  KSP, you are a known meddler.  Yes, I may have asked for some meddling input, and I do encourage the meddling when I am a spectator to it.  She made a suggestion, and I gotta say, my first impulse was to say, “er…no.”  But, I’m nothing if not introspective, so I revisited my first response, just to make sure I wasn’t being too hasty.  After careful consideration, my considered opinion is…”er..no.”  But I would recommend the gentleman in question to someone else, should they ask for my opinion.  But this was my reasoning.

Why I Won’t Date Within My Social Circle
(by The Senior Senior)

  1. Our social circle is borderline incestuous already.  While it makes gossip an enjoyable constant, I prefer to be a spectator to the gossip.
  2. When it all goes kablooey (and the odds are always in favor of kablooey), the awkwardness is palpable.  Divisions are almost necessary, and friend custody is trickier.
  3. In adulthood, one’s social circle tends to contract, rather than expand.  Dating outside the herd is excellent for staving off that process.

And that pretty much sums it up.  Now certainly, many of my friends have seen or are seeing someone in the circle, and more power to them.  I would never talk anyone out of seeing someone for my reasons.  They’re mine, and are applicable only to me.

I realize that for someone who is, theoretically, interested in pursuing some sort of romantic relationship, I may come across as perhaps a tad picky.  But I don’t care.  I have gone back on my self-imposed rules in the past, if I have been interested enough in a particular man.  But my flouting of the rule in question has always, and I mean always, bitten me on the ass.  So I say no more.  If I have to be in my mid (to late) thirties, I might as well benefit from the foolish, drunken, short-sighted or just generally ridiculous errors in judgment I have made in the past.  I’m not saying I’ll never make any foolish, drunken, short-sighted or just generally ridiculous errors in judgment; I just hope I won’t make the exact same ones – stick to new mistakes, that’s my goal.

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You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him (or her) drink Friday, May 30 2008 

A couple of weeks ago, I hosted a thang for the end of the semester.  The Young Man was going to come and, to thank me for my proofreading help, he was going to buy me a drink.  Except, unfortunately, he couldn’t make it to the thang, but offered a raincheck.  All well and good, but he is leaving town for a few months, and with one thing or another, it is very likely this will all be put on hold for a few months.

I’m of two minds about this.  Certainly, The Young Man is startlingly hot, and I get all weak in the knees and crap; an outing like this may be the start of something.  Or, it may not be, and then it will be just another opportunity to make some sort of an ass of myself.  And that is something I don’t need.

If this little plot should come to fruition, and we do meet for this drink, then what?  It very likely doesn’t mean anything; it also doesn’t not mean anything, because it was mostly his idea.  If he had wanted to ditch this plan at any time, he could have.  I even gave him an escape hatch, so maybe I’ll be blown off yet.

Reading the previous paragraph, I suspect myself of being a 100 percent, 24 karat saboteur (or saboteuse, if you want to get all gender agreement about it).  God forbid that this could actually be a date-like incident, filled with date-like activities, which would be so out of line with my standard world view.  I might enjoy myself or something.

Although I shouldn’t be so hasty – he leaves this weekend, and there is still plenty of time for me to be disappointed.

My Crappy Career as a Cougar Monday, Apr 7 2008 

I have not posted, as you can well see for yourself, in quite a long time.  I keep meaning to, and then I remember I have to read some Syntax or some such.  Besides, it would be just a post wherein I bitch about my shabby shabby life.  And I don’t want to do that, not so much because I don’t like to bitch (because I do, franchement); I just feel like a world class fool, and if I don’t poke at that with a stick, maybe I won’t feel like a world class fool.

But it’s too late for that.  I am a world class fool.

This is what I’ve been avoiding bitching about:
After GSS and I came to our understanding, things became really nice.  Now that everything is established, we have a nice, easy-going friendship (and, truth be told, I find it much more enjoyable than the flirting – though that had been fun).  I had claimed that I wasn’t going to flirt with The Young Man, because he was age-inappropriate, because I didn’t want to be a cougar, because I wanted a grown-up relationship, because my ego was still a little battered, because blah blah blah…That lasted until I actually saw The Young Man at work.  Then I flirted with The Young Man, because he smiled a great big smile when I came in, because I was in a good mood, but mostly because he is really, really good-looking.  And flirt I did.  I laid it on a little thick, as Spring Break was the week after, and I thought it might behoove me to make a stronger impression.  We went over some things for a paper he was writing, and I gave him some pointers.  I offered to proofread it when he finished, and he asked me for my e-mail address.  That weekend he sent me the paper, and I gave him some notes, and he thanked me profusely.  Having established e-mail contact, I kept up a light little e-mail correspondance – nothing big, and he responded.

All was good at this point.  I thought I was damn clever, and quite sassy to boot.

Back at work, I flirted when I had the opportunity, and I thought I was doing well.  After we finished, we walked out together, and reaching the point where we were to part company, I gave him A Look, ran my hand down his arm and said:

TSS:  So, I’ll see you soon? (Subtext:  if you were to ask me out, I would say yes.  You should ask me out.)
You know in cartoons, when something happens and they put in the sound effect of tires screeching to a halt, usually followed by crickets?  I could have sworn I heard that.

TYM:  Yeah, I’ll see you soon.  (Subtext:  We work together, of course I’ll see you soon.)

Humiliated, I slunk off to the bus stop, hoping beyond hope that I hadn’t made as giant of an ass of myself as I had previously thought.  But my instincts are that I did.

The next night was Bad Influence’s birthday, and there was a bash.  I recounted my tale of woe, and while KSP tried to argue that maybe The Young Man didn’t quite catch the overture, and while another friend (an actual straight male, so definitely an important resource) tried to argue the same thing; once I gave the play-by-play, all were agreed that I had, indeed, been blown off.  I had sent a couple of breezy e-mails, the kind he usually responds to, in a feeble attempt to cling to the tattered remains of my dignity – alas, no response.  This is a bad sign, even when I try to tell myself that GSS always maintained e-mail relations (even though he had no romantic interest in me), so e-mailing is not a foolproof yardstick.  I have since seen The Young Man in person, and I still get the wide smile in greeting that I always have, and he still is always ready to chat, and all in all, his demeanor toward me hasn’t seemed to have changed.  But again, that’s nothing to hang my hat on.

So I think it’s safe to say that my career as a cougar is over before it began.  What mystifies me was that I was so sure I correctly read the signs.  And apparently, I did not.  So what do men do when they’re interested in a woman?  I thought I knew.  I do not. 

And what cheeses me off (other than making an ass of myself with such shocking regularity), is while I am not one of those women who always needs a man to get validation, I am getting increasingly nerdier and nerdier.  I don’t need a man to validate my worth as a woman; I need a non-linguistic outlet, and a man would do nicely for that.

Just me, my non-drowsy cold formula and La Revue de Neuropsychologie Friday, Mar 21 2008 

I have spent most of this spring break not scrubbing toilets (good) and not reading up on negation and syllabic structure (bad) and not trying to come up with a semi-respectable noun classification table (worse).  I have been felled by an evil bug, which has caused me to sleep often (if often poorly) and wander around my apartment in my jammies.  I have not been very productive, which is making me feel guilty (and stressed).  Plus, my cold medicine gives me a tummy ache.  I’d stop taking it, but I prefer to be able to breathe through my nose; I also don’t like feeling my pulse in my head.  Picky, I know, but what can you do?

I have been lightly flirting with The Young Man via the Internet, although I’m not altogether sure if he realizes I’ve been flirting with him.  Since I put most of my eggs in the GSS basket, I need to backtrack and make it not look like The Young Man is sloppy seconds (which he is not).

Which leads me to my reluctant cougardom.  I keep telling myself that a) The Young Man is fond of me, though it is unclear how fond of me he is (and quite frankly, I have not earned the right to trust my own judgement again) b) I do not look like the stereotypical cougar (wardrobe by Forever 21, caked-on makeup), nor do I even look my age (as I have often been told) c) my squeamishness is more about a fear of being perceived as a creepy, cradle-robbing hag rather than a squeamishness about acting like a creepy, cradle-robbing hag.  As for The Young Man himself, he does respond with what appears to be enthusiasm, which is nice…but I bitch too much, don’t I?

I do need to make up for lost time, as I really thought I would have gotten much more studying in.  I did go to the library today and picked up a boatload of books, but I got a headache and took the books and my phlegmmy self home.

As for La Revue de Neuropsychologie…I hear the consonant clusters did it.

Chronic Irregularity Thursday, Mar 13 2008 

(I admit it, the title is in questionable taste.  But I assure you that I will not be discussing my GI tract.  I promise.)

The saying goes that there is a lid for every pot, but what if there isn’t?  What if there are some lidless pots (or worse yet, potless lids)?  What if I am one of those lidless pots (or, worse yet, potless lids)?  It is a thought that I haven’t wanted to dwell on; however, I have been trying for over a year to try and get myself adjusted to the idea.

I’m not trying to sound all, “woe is me,” or anything; if anything, I’m trying to be rational and logical.  I’m hurtling towards 40 with what seems to me to be blinding speed (actual results may vary), and quite frankly, it seems to be getting harder, not easier.  The sooner I can reconcile myself to the idea, the sooner I can liberate all this energy I expend on thinking about it, worrying about it, etc.  Hell, I can finally relearn Polish with all that extra time!  Or not.

You see, the issue is not finding men I’m attracted to physically.  I have that in spades.  The difficulty seems to be finding a quality rapport.  And that is what I consistently rolling snake eyes on.

Maybe as a pot (or a lid, I haven’t decided which one I am), I’m just a millimeter or two shy of being a good fit with a lid (or pot).  Hell, maybe I’m a (lidless) crepe pan

The Old Grey Matter Ain’t What it Used to Be Wednesday, Mar 12 2008 

I suppose it is blowback from My Foolish Friday (no real details, just trust me) that has caused me, of late, to not be the sharpest tool in the shed.  It started Monday, when in Phonology, a class in which I articulate very well, it seemed as though the wheels had fallen off.  I stumbled and stammered and made no real point.  Fine, whatever.  Everyone has off days.  Then I go to work and I’m faced with GSS.  I’m fine, but I felt especially compelled to prove to him that I was fine.  So I made a very lame joke.  But I bounced back, so that’s all right (after a fashion).

Today was also rough, intellectually.  At one point, I despaired of ever having a functioning brain worthy of graduate school.  What if this is the best I can expect from my brain?  That is not the attitude I need going into the Semantics midterm.  Especially since Semantics has sounded nothing but fishy – I get it, but I don’t buy most of it.  I hear a rumor that future classes might actually be less suspect, but I’ll believe it when I see it.

I just feel like I have been slacking off, which I probably have; however, I also feel that the harder I try, the less clarity I have (and I’ve recently gone on about my appreciation for clarity).  I need spring break now more than ever.  Sure, it will be a week of toilet-scrubbing, French syllable structure, French negation and, just for fun, some Bantu morphology.  But the amorphous quality this semester has had is getting me down.  And I need to reset myself to better cope with it.  And that is hard when every day is work and school, school and work.  Hopefully, just not having classes may jolt me out of this general malaise (which I insist is more than just GSS-related disappointment, because it has been simmering for awhile, and the entertainment value of flirting kept me distracted enough to not give it that much thought).

What it is, this malaise, this ennui, this weltschmerz seems to me to be analogous to wearing shoes that don’t fit.  I find that my life doesn’t fit anymore.  The last time I was this ready to pack up and move on, I was seventeen and about to become The Fresh Freshman (ugh, that sucks as a moniker, but we’ll let it alone).  I have joked that I would have walked the 170 miles to college, all my personal belongings on my back.  It isn’t so very far from the truth.  I’m chafing at the prospect of all the crap I still need to do before I move on.

And that, I truly believe, is why I have this nagging sensation.  I’m ready to move on mentally and emotionally, but physically I’m stuck here until the end of the semester (plus, I still don’t know exactly where I’ll be going).

And that’s why flirting with The Young Man and The Younger Man has not been particularly entertaining.  It doesn’t suck, to be sure, but it doesn’t seem to serve the purpose it should.  It is the equivalent of a candy bar – it’s a quick fix, a sugar rush, but ultimately, not nutritionally satisfying.

Haiku Monday 2 (Electric Boogaloo) Tuesday, Mar 11 2008 

Since I had a whole 2 comments that were pro-Haiku Monday, and since I am feeling the syllabic call, I welcome one and all to the second installment of Haiku Monday.

 Irony Poisoning
I like irony
as much as the next person
but there’s a limit

Bantu Morphology
It isn’t good when 
native speakers don’t know the
meaning of that /ya- /

New Hobby
Facebook is useful
when seducing the
cute Young Man at work

Bring on the razors!
Finally cracking forty
degrees!  It is time to start
wearing skirts again

Spring Break
A busy week of
Scrubbing toilets, research and
hopefully, a nap

Thank you for joining The Senior Senior for yet another installment of Haiku Monday.

Coming soon…Haiku Monday 3 (this time, it’s personal!)

Giving Up The Ghost Monday, Mar 10 2008 

This weekend has been…edifying.  I do value clarity, even if it may not be the clarity I seek.  Put another way, crappy clarity is always better than optimistic ambiguity.  Because optimistic ambiguity plays with your judgement, and you spend a lot of time staring at the ambiguity, trying to make sense of it.

As I have already hinted, I received some news.  It wasn’t bad news (nor was it good news); however, it was news to me.  And it functioned as sort of a code – all of a sudden, things that were mystifying made perfect sense.  And that was good.  But I have a little void in my life, and that isn’t so very nice for me.  I have been wandering around my apartment, at a bit of a loss as to what to do next.

It is official – GSS and I are resolutely platonic.  And while it would be a lie to say it wasn’t disappointing, neither is it a tragic thing.  He was very deft and kind, and everybody is hunky-dory (or, more accurately, hunky-dorky).  Because what is causing the void isn’t that we won’t be getting together (because that never happened, it isn’t really something one can miss); it is more the loss of the possibility that I feel.

If everything had worked out exactly the way I wanted it to (which would have been the first time in the history of my life, I’m sure), it ultimately would have been a letdown.  He would have done something that would have annoyed me, and I would have done something that annoyed him.  There would have been quotidian difficulties, and eventually, I’d move on to wherever I’m to go (which is still a mystery [and very annoying] to me), as would he.  The only truly perfect incarnation was in the possibility.  And while a real, grown-up relationship is the real goal, this never felt like that, so it wasn’t that great a loss when nothing came of anything.

However, that little charge I got when deciding what to wear, or composing a clever little e-mail that was flirtatious, but not overtly so; I’m going to miss that.  The anticipation, as they say, is always better than the realization.  Discounting the real thing, a real, feel-it-in-your-soul connection, that honest-and-for-true love (which is so potent, it seems to be the only reason to go through all this nonsense sometimes), the anticipation is usually better than the realization.  Though the realization would be nice, too.

So I need myself a new hobby.  And by hobby, I do actually mean a new man to try to seduce.  Alarmingly (for me), I seem to be ready enough to go once more into the breach, dear friends.

And this is what interests me.  Because even though my original emergency back-up plan involved flirting with someone else I already know (e.g., The Young Man, The Younger Man, maybe even The Would-Be Homework Buddy), I’m thinking no.  While all these men have their charms, and could possibly be a pleasant enough way to while away the rest of the semester, I think I’ve turned some sort of corner.  The sport of the last five months was often entertaining and certainly instructive, but it was always just sport.  And I knew that, so when it turned out to be just a decoy, I was okay with that.  But now I’m after bigger game, not smaller.  My flirtation with GSS was always for a temporary fix.  And, as I’ve said before, it fixed me (but good).  No really, I honestly feel it pushed me to move on after having my heart broken.  So I’m sanguine about the whole thing.  But, instead of moving on to smaller game – men I am less, not more, interested in – wouldn’t it be something if I instead moved on to larger game – love?  This is a radical departure for me.  And I’m not sure what to do next.  You’re supposed to stop looking, the conventional wisdom says, and you’ll find it.  And that had happened to me, so I know that it’s partly true.  But maybe, just maybe, if I meet more people, I’ll improve my odds.

But none of that on-line shit.  I’m going old school.

Ohhhh, I get it now… Saturday, Mar 8 2008 

It is such a cliché to cite the story about the four blind people who describe an elephant.  The crux of the story always is that if you focus on only one thing, you miss the big picture.  Yes.  Right.

It is true that lately I have seen only what I want to see, but I have (very) recently received what I will call a perspective adjustment, which, in the non-euphemistic sense, is a big heap o’ news.  The details of said news isn’t important, since it isn’t really my news to share (even pseudonymously on a blog); but it has shifted my mental furniture, so to speak.  To say that I’m caught off-guard is a bit of an understatement, but I won’t worry about that; I’m nothing if not adaptable.

Hindsight is 20/20, or so they say; it is true that with my new perspective, things are less confusing.  But, for the time being, they will be slightly less fun.

For the time being…

Boys are weird. Sunday, Mar 2 2008 

Last week, things were, if I may take charge of a word used so often by one of my professors, “percolating.”  Monday and Tuesday, GSS was, for lack of a better word, attentive.  Which is always nice, of course; however, the entire first half of the week contained semi-uncharacteristic behavior from him (in a good way), which threw me off.  That said, I’ve got a lot on my plate, and I didn’t spend a lot of effort (at the time) questioning it.

But wait, there’s more.

A department crony chided me a bit on Tuesday for neglecting last Friday’s outing.  I was going to go, then I couldn’t remember if it was to be that Friday or next Friday; I didn’t remember seeing an e-mail about it, so I assumed that it was to be the next one.  I explained my confusion, and the aforementioned crony said, “Well, we waited for you.  Everyone was wondering where you were.”  The idea that a bunch (well, probably more like a handful) of people were hanging around a bar, wondering what had become of me, struck me as…disconcerting in some way.  I mean, it is good to know that people enjoy my company and everything, but that my presence or absence would be a topic of conversation is not something I’m prepared to accept.

But wait, there’s more.

Another department crony sidled up to me after class late this week and suggested, that, in the future, we should study together (which he had suggested before).  We then had a “walk-and-talk.”  I can never get a read on him – I always feel like there is an…I don’t want to say ulterior motive, because that sounds nefarious, which I don’t mean.  I always get the impression that he wants to say something else, but he never gets around to doing so.

Now, I am not claiming that I am so freakin’ irresistible that all the fellas are dying to ask me out, especially since clearly, that is not the case.  But I’m developing a theory that may be half-baked.  Or it may be genius.

I have heard legends and rumors that we, as women, have mystical powers over men.  I have heard, time and again, from men, that they are putty in our presence, and that if we snapped our fingers just so, they would hop to.  I have heard, again from men, that there is no earthly reason that any woman would suffer from the dreaded “dry spell” because there are teeming hordes of men just waiting to sleep with them.

If you have heard these claims too (and I assume you have, in one form or another), you, like me, have assumed that they are a load of crap.  Men quivering in our collective presence, just waiting for us to take pity on them, seem to belong to the same phylum as Sasquatch or Yeti or whatever.

And now I’m not so sure.

While I think, by and large, these claims are spurious, there may be a grain of truth to them.  A small grain, but it is there.  What I think is the more likely scenario is this:

  • As a gender, men do not give the same level of analysis to heterosexual interpersonal relationships as women do.  Thus, they have a different criteria for deciding who they are (or are not) attracted to.  If they detect a predetermined (by their own standards) level of attraction to a woman, they file that away for future use.
  • Being risk-adverse in the emotional arena, they will not automatically act on this attraction (unless it’s bartime), especially if they see this particular woman on a regular basis (co-worker, neighbor, classmate, etc.).  One is practical – she isn’t going anywhere, so what’s the rush – and the other is driven more from fear – if she rejects him, he still has to see her on a regular basis.  If he is really interested in her, fear will be trumped.  But for mild to moderate attraction, it probably isn’t worth it.
  • However, from time to time, this woman will be more attractive to him than usual.  Being a woman, I’m not sure what the triggers are, but I assume looking particularly good on a given day, laughing at his jokes or doing something different (and thereby attracting his attention) could all be possibilities.  On these occasions, the man will make a subconscious overture to this woman.  If she responds in a positive way, he may (or may not) follow up.  If she doesn’t, he drops it (either for the time being or forever, depending on the guy and/or her response).

The problem is (at least with me, your experience may be different) that normal, intelligent men are going to try to be subtle.  And here is the problem:  that is not a characteristic we’ve assigned to them.  Have you ever asked yourself (or, just as likely, your friends) the age-old question, “Why is it that the only guys who hit on me are the creeps and the weirdos?”  Of course you have.  We all have.  It isn’t that we all emit some sort of signal to these unfortunates (well, maybe some of us do).  It is that the creeps and weirdos use techniques like the pickup line, the lewd comment and the inappropriate touch.  The normal guys, the ones we would want approaching us, are using techniques like the oblique question, the ambiguous invitation or the chivalrous gesture.  Because it doesn’t look like a duck or sound like a duck to us, we don’t believe it’s a duck.  But what if it were a duck?  Food for thought.

But Senior Senior, you counter, Men have asked me out.  And every once in a while, they have been normal men.  Of course.  Because he has either been very interested in you, rendering the potential reward greater than the potential risk, or you have accidentally given the correct response to their subliminal exam.

Now the problem, as I see it, is that not every great relationship needs to start out with such a strong attraction.  Something good can come from being “kind of” interested in someone and discovering that they are even better than you first realized.  There is a great benefit to getting to know someone, not because you suspect that they might be “the one,” but because you have no earthly idea, but they seem like a cool person to get to know.  Which is great in theory, but if we’re all playing Marco Polo by a different set of rules, we’re all screwed (or not screwed, if you want to be blunt about the whole thing).

So my question is, “Is this a crackpot theory?”  With a follow-up question of, “If this isn’t a crackpot theory, what is the secret code?”

No, seriously, “What is the secret code?”

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