Navigating the Treacherous Waters of Online Dating (and dating in general)

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Dating.  It sucks.  I hate it and everyone I know hates it too.  I presume that they are grateful that they were lucky enough to meet their ‘one’ early enough in life that they no longer have to deal with this shit.  Obviously, that was not the case for me.

I’ve loved in life and I’ve been hurt in life – badly.  Badly enough that I’m wary of trying it out again.  Badly enough, that a large part of me is convinced that I must have done something quite terrible in a past life, that the gods have deemed it fit to curse me in love for this one.

Still, upon becoming single last year (and after all of the tears and self-doubt washed away), I felt somewhat excited about dating again.  I thought about how fun it could be to meet new men again and be pursued.  After a pretty hefty amount of healing, I was actually looking forward to getting back in the game!  I could not have been more wrong.  Dating still sucks as much as it did before.  No, wait.  I think it actually sucks more now-a-days.  With the advent of online dating, it seems like the romance is all but gone, along with the balls of men and the dignity of women.  When did we stop respecting ourselves?  When did we start hiding behind our computer screens and claw at whatever random text message we can get?

I used to be ok with online dating.  It’s how I met the guy I thought I was going to marry, errr…at least, I thought I’d be with him for a long time and kind of see where it went from there (apparently, nowhere).  My point being, at the time I didn’t have too much of a problem with online dating back when I met him.  I just saw it as another outlet to meet people.  Things were still relaxed back then — you see a profile, you message to meet, you actually meet.  No drama.  Five years later and boy, the game has changed!  Everyone wants to know everything!  Do you want kids?  What’s your income?  What do you do?  What’s your favorite color?  No, they don’t ask that last one, but it’d be a lot funnier if they did!  All of those questions are pretty loaded and I can’t even bring myself to talk about that stuff within the first few months of dating — let alone on a profile prior to a first date!   Of course, to answer is optional, but I think it actually hinders your chances of meeting someone if you don’t.  The less you reveal about yourself, the less likely they can ‘match’ you with someone.  I feel it just adds a lot of pressure and a lot of dishonesty.  I certainly know of a few men who answer “Definitely wants kids” because they believed that it would get more women to consider their profile.

And the way profiles are created now!  Five years back, I could get away with one or two sentences, a decent photo and that was about it.  Now, people write entire essays trying to sell themselves in one go!  I get it, you want to get noticed, you try to impress others and what better way than with photos of things you supposedly climbed and all of the oh-so-tropical places you’ve visited.    If online profiles are anything to go off of, everyone loves to travel, climb and cook.  This, in particular, makes it hard because I actually do all of those things and the most disappointing bit is when I meet a guy for a first date, that ‘love for cooking’ actually just means: ‘one time I made spaghetti and it was pretty edible.’  False advertising, much?  And what *is* with all of the claims about travel?  Just because you’ve had the opportunity and the fortune and the luxury to travel to a lot of places doesn’t make you any better than someone who just happened to get stuck in one place.

Its a sad truth: People lie/exaggerate (immensely!) in their profiles.  I’m probably even guilty of it too, but I feel others do it way more than I do.  I don’t think I even do it intentionally!  As an example, I *d0* like to travel, but that doesn’t mean I get to do it often.  Actually, I think I even took that off my profile because I kept getting men asking me ‘So — where have you been?’ right off the bat.  I suppose they’re just trying to make conversation — but it feels more like an interview when they ask.  I feel like it’s more of a, “I need to assess your travel resume.”

Then, there are the photos.  I can understand if you haven’t changed your photos in a year or so.  I understand; I get lazy too.  Though it’s quite another thing to post photos of yourself from 5 – 10 years back!  I have been on dates where I totally walked past the guy because he doesn’t look anything like his photo anymore.  Then, they act all butt-hurt because of it!  It’s not just guys, I think.  I’ve been on dates where we meet and the first comment they make is, “Oh, you actually look like your photo.”  My initial reaction used to be, “Why wouldn’t I?”  Then, it dawned on me: women lie too.  Yes, I’m sorry, it took me that long to realize it.  While we are on the subject of photo choices for profiles; I’ve come to start distrusting any profiles that have a heavy does of black and white photos.  Let’s face it, everyone looks better in black and white.   It can be misleading.

I’m not saying looks are everything, but physical attraction is key and it’s a certain type of chemistry that you just can’t manufacture.  Also, beauty is in the eye of the beholder so why don’t you just let your true self shine and see who digs it?

So you get to the part where you start talking with a person online.  There are so many men out there who apparently would much rather email forever and ever or send endless amounts of texts, but never actually pluck up the courage to say, “Let’s meet.”  Sure, I can bring it up too (and I have), but it’s astonishing to me how many men I actually have to prod a little bit to get them to agree to meeting.  It’s not that I desperately love going out on dates — I just, personally, would rather meet someone face to face than exchange dozens of emails.  Words are nothing, I feel, from the safety of a computer.  Sure, they can say all of these nice things and claim that are so into all of these awesome things that I’m into as well, but until I actually meet them – I’m wary.  Call me paranoid, but I’ve been on enough dates to be know to be cautious.  Sweethearts, 9 times out of 10, it’s all talk.

I used to think the delay in meeting was because they were shy (although, there are some shy guys out there), but now I assume that it’s really just because they are talking to other women and sadly, I do not rank high enough for them to meet just yet.  HOWEVER, if the others don’t work out, then I’m next in line.  I suppose that’s my biggest gripe with online dating.  Because so many people are accessible to you, it’s really hard to *not* talk/date multiple people at once.  I’ve tried the multiple dates thing — it’s not my style.  I can’t even carry on more than one or two email conversations at once.  Even that already feels like too much and it also feels really unauthentic.  How can I really give Mr. Friday Date Night a chance if I have Mr. Thursday Date Night on my mind?

Anyone who knows me will tell you that I have a penchant for dating foreigners.  Sorry, I live in San Francisco — it’s a melting pot and those foreign accents with their stories of their home countries can be alluring.   I bring it up because it’s been mentioned that they also have problems with this whole massive-multiple-dates thing.  Which leaves me to wonder: is this an American cultural thing?  Online dating does seem to be far more prevalent here in the States.

It’s a murky business and I think I may have to take a break from it all.  I suspect my dating prospects will decrease significantly if I try to meeting someone in the ‘real world’, but at least what I see is what I’ll get and hopefully, a little bit of the romantic adventure and mystery of meeting someone new will return.  OR, I’ll just meet a lot of sleaze-os in real life which can be just as difficult to deal with.

Until then, I guess I’ll just keep doing my own thing and keep on secretly hoping that Andrea Pirlo will magically leave his current girlfriend and come waltzing into my life and I can let the charm bomb explode all over him.

 

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World Cup 2014, Brazil

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And the day many of us have dreaded since the opening game on June 12th, World Cup 2014 has come to an end.  Germany defeated Argentina to win its fourth World Cup and brought home the kind of pride and joy it has not had since 1990.  I’m not even German, and still, it was a proud day today.

A lot of people have their gripes about FIFA and the World Cup — and team sporting events in general, but today it was a day that the World Cup is supposed to be.  It brought together people of all cultures to watch and cheer for something that we have no direct ties to.  As a friend I met recently (because of the Games, no less!) put it, “…The World Cup joins the entire world together for a few weeks every year. For example I watched the final in the U.S with Germans and Argentinians in a Hawaiian restaurant eating French fries and drinking Irish beer.”  How can you argue with that?  We’ve all cheered together, we’ve all cried together and we’ve all argued together at some point during the games.

Watching these games this year made me think back to my own days of athletic competition.  It reminded me of what it felt like to really work hard for something.  It reminded me of a time when I wanted something so bad, that I could taste it.  It reminded me of what it felt like to work so hard and do my very, very best and sometimes, my best just wasn’t good enough.  I’ve cried the same tears that Argentinians cried today, and every other team that was knocked out leading up to this final.  And yet, I’ve also felt the same, immense pride that the German players felt today when all of that hard work and perseverance just happens to pay off.  I’ve felt the same joy when a little bit of luck just happens to be on your side that day.

Some people just say it’s all a simple game.  Some hate sports with a passion — I don’t blame them, but I don’t think it’s the sport they hate.  It’s the (often-times) idiotic fans.  Still, I don’t think there’s any other feeling in the world that compares to winning a ‘simple game’.  We all go through life, achieving promotions and awards and other incredibly significant milestones.  Yet, in my eyes, it’s not the same as winning that 1st place for  something so simple as a sport.  It’s something that tests your physicality, your mentality and your emotions in ways that nothing else can.  You have a team that you have to work together for a greater good.  It’s a good feeling; it’s a great feeling.

Congratulations Germany on the win.  I have no idea what I’m going to do for the next four years.  There will certainly be some serious World Cup withdrawal.

Pinterest Potatoes

Close enough, no?

Close enough, no?

Some time ago, I found a photo of the most delicious looking baked potato on themetapicture.com (click for original photo).  I figured, how hard can it be?  Well — my potatoes came out NOTHING like it.  I bet the Pinterest photo is actually really delicious, but I thought my potato came out pretty tasty as well.  And as you can see, I don’t think the photo is necessarily cringe-worthy like so many other ‘Nailed it’ attempts!

Basically, I sliced one large, golden yukon potato and stuffed the slices with even thinner slices of butter, cheese and sea salt.  I baked the potato in the oven for about half an hour at 400 degrees Fahrenheit.  I would probably suggest actually “pre-baking” the potato a little bit first, then slicing it, adding the fixtures, and then baking again for maybe an additional 15 – 20 minutes.  My initial potato came out a bit raw.

I used shredded Emmentaler cheese, so you may get a more gooey potato if you use a different cheese.  Some may choose to drizzle the potato in olive oil, but I totally embraced the butter and you don’t really need the oil after that.  I embraced the butter.  EMBRACE the BUTTER.

 

Night of the Red Onion

Simple ingredients make for an amazing flavor.

Simple ingredients make for an amazing flavor.

What can I say?  I’m a lover of onions.  The thought of a sweet, caramelized onion jam is like a special kind of heaven to me!  This has been one of the simpler jams I’ve made, so far.   The final product was equal parts salty and sweet.  It is absolutely perfect when piled atop a smear of brie cheese and french baguette.  For something so easy to make, it is certainly a great appetizer to showcase at fancy, schmancy parties.

Don’t hate on the look of it!  I’m not going to lie, it looks like a big, reddish-brown pile of mush, but it is definitely tasty!  The recipe called for 1 cup red wine — I may have upped that to 1.5, almost 2 cups of red wine.  It burns off, anyway!  My only suggestion is to really invest in a good wine for cooking.  The flavor will truly marinate into the onions and you may as well pick something worthwhile.

Another tip – my good friend, Joice Karyadi, actually helped with the preparation of this jam.  Yes, I made her slice the onions because I end up crying so badly that I’m as blind as Daredevil on a foggy day.  However, Joice’s mom had taught her well.  Apparently, if you keep a small bowl of salt right next to you,  it blocks whatever it is that onions do to make your eyes perspire more than a steamy Zumba class in July.  Talk about old-mommy tricks in the kitchen!  Thank goodness for women who actually know what they are doing in the kitchen.  It seems like such a small thing, but this seriously blew me away.

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Enjoy the jam!

Recipe found here.

All Puckered Up

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Strawberries and Gewürztraminer

Strawberries and Gewürztraminer

Newest batch of jams!  Originally, this was supposed to be a strawberry and champagne mixture.  Safeway at Diamond Heights, SF is a little incompetent about organizing their wine selections and I ended up not being able to find the champagne.  However, in the Merlot section I did find a bottle of Gewürztraminer.  I love Gewürztraminer.  So, I thought, “How bad could it be?”  Well — not bad at all!  Granted the mixture came out a bit more tart than expected, but if that floats your boat, I think this jam could be quite tasty for you.

Gluten-free waffles and maple syrup with jam on top does a stomach good!

Gluten-free waffles and maple syrup with jam on top does a stomach good!

The original concept for this recipe is found at this site.  I made some generous changes to it, aside from the wine change and I think it works out for the better.  My version of the recipe is here.

Happy New Year, 2014!

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Moments from 2013

We say goodbye to 2013 and ‘Howdy Hey’ to 2014!  2013 was an interesting year for me.  It had it’s good moments and some of the worst moments I’ve ever experienced in my life, but I made it through and I’m excited to see what 2014 brings.  Things can only get better from here.

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2013 held new discoveries and some very hard lessons learned.  I visited new places, learned some new hobbies, and I ran the best half marathon of my life this past November.  New friends were made, bonded with those who stuck around and some relationships ended far sooner than I would have liked, but in the end, you were all a part of my life and I would be a very different person today without you, so I thank you.

I wish everyone a wonderful holiday and I hope to see everyone a whole lot more in the coming year!

Hiking to Alamere Falls

Alamere Falls, Point Reyes, CA

Alamere Falls, Point Reyes, CA

We have had unnaturally gorgeous weather lately, up here in the Bay Area.  This past weekend was a perfect day to take a mild hike starting at Palomarin Trailhead to Alamere Falls, Point Reyes.  The trail we followed went along Coast Trail where we saw some views of the Pacific, the Farallon islands, and lots of different types of forest and shrubbery.  The trail, round-trip, is a mere 7.5 miles and only took us about 3.5/4 hours including stoping time to take silly pictures of ourselves.

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1) The Climb

The beach at the end of the hike is perfect for a picnic (wish we had brought a basket with us!), but there is a bit of a climb.  Actually, the climb down wasn’t so bad, but trying to climb back took a bit of critical thinking.  It’s nothing too strenuous and you should be prepared to have to do a little scrambling.  We used a very detailed guide from the Bay Area Hiker.  I love using his site — he is extremely helpful!

2) A pretty beach is your reward!

2) A pretty beach is your reward!

Apple Pie in a Jar

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For the 2013 holiday season, I decided to try my hand at jam making and dress up the jars real pretty for those closest to me.    They turned out quite lovely, I think!

From the recipe I used (found here), I thought the spices were a bit overpowering considering how much of the apple mixture you actually have — I would try playing around with the suggested amounts given.  I had a lot of fun making my first batch of jams, though, and I hope to make more!   I made some buttermilk biscuits to go with it and it tasted really good!  Another thing you could try is smearing the jam into home-made Palaschinken (Austrian crepe) and then pour semi-melted Nutella on top.  I had this for breakfast and it tasted like some kind of Apple Strudel/Nutella heaven!

I’m excited to try new jam recipes!  What should come next?  Strawberries and champagne?!  Coming soon!