Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Instant Click

I went to a bar to meet up with a friend and his co-workers. I slowly made my rounds getting introduced to people in the typical fire-hose-fashion of saying "who I was" and "how I knew him" and "what I do". After making it about halfway through the group, my eyes met with one particular young lady. She looked nonthreatening enough and it turns out she was well versed in the talents of small talk. We got to talking and somehow it came up that she read Questionable Content, an awesome web-comic that I also read. When she told me, my eyes widened a bit and I could see hers do the same as she noticed my reaction.

My friend made some snarky comment that contained "nerds" and quickly ran off. This left the two of us to sit and talk about QC for a good 15 minutes. From here, we talked like we knew each other our whole lives. Our conversation diverged from QC and we started cracking jokes on each other. Our chemistry must have been obvious because my friend dropped back in to make a comment on how we "hit it off". Apparently, this comment was made a little too loud, because her boyfriend soon scurried over.

I had felt some glares earlier from his direction, but made nothing of it. She never mentioned she had a boyfriend, but I figured it out when he came stomping over and wrapped his arms around her. He couldn't have been any more obvious. She smiled at me and rolled her eyes because we both knew what was going on. He made his introduction, shook my hand, and tried to make a little small talk. He couldn't seem to insert himself into our conversation though. A couple more minutes of this awkward stalemate and he was dismissed to go fetch her a drink (that she confessed that she didn't even want). I could tell that the boyfriend was annoyed by my presence and my ability to make his girlfriend laugh so I mentioned to her that she should probably pay him some more attention. As I motioned to exit my seat she quickly grabbed my arm and told me she wouldn't be having it. The next two hours flew by as we continued to talk... the rest of the bar didn't even exist.

I never really clicked with a person like that before. I wouldn't call it attraction, but more like a comfortableness. We are both in happy relationships, but there is definitely something here that I am struggling to articulate...

Fast forward to tonight and I am sitting here thinking about how this stuff even happens. I wonder what things cause such intense instant camaraderie.

Was it Questionable Content that got us going? Was it her personality? Her appearance? All of the above? Is there some piece of information that you can tell me that will completely let my guard down? What about bands and types of music? Maybe having the same Alma Mater, having the same teacher, or working in the same field?

Tonight is shaping up to be another cog-sci-reading-induced sleepless night.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Where is the love?

I'm a big fat hypocrite. If you've read my blog recently, I'd be the last person you'd suspect to fall into a serious relationship. My enthusiasm for single life was unrivaled amongst my friends. On top of that, I'd say I read more than the average person when it comes to relationships, marriage, and gender issues. A lot of these articles are anti-marriage and I don't know if my goggles are fogged up from Rachel, but the more I read, the more I am left wondering... Where is the love?

It seems that when people write an article nowadays they are either feminists or Men's Rights Advocates. Both of which, act like marriage and committed relationships are either some form of oppressive servitude (via the feminists), or a means for gold digging women to use the system to take his money, his kids, and his dignity through divorce (via the Men's Rights Advocates).

I have come across some extreme cases when reading about gender rights. I can usually tell who's actually for equality, and who is just an angry pathetic individual with a persecution complex. It's truly sad how much people can hate or fear the opposite gender. There seems to be so much recreational outrage. You can tell that half these women have issues stemming from bad events with their daddy or an ex-boyfriend. It's obvious that most of these men have been screwed over by their wives or mommy.

The way they talk about inter-gender relationships is like it's some kind of power struggle. There is something very human missing from the way they speak. They might, at times, bring up great points in politics but they lack the ability to speak with any soul or humbleness about other human beings. For them, it's just "the people on the other side and they're against me". They try to mask their anger with cold academics and regurgitated philosophy.

Anyone who has been there can see right through it. When I read, I see people who just really need their insecurities and preconceptions busted by someone who hopelessly loves them for a change. When I get irritated at them, half the time I just want to hug them. It seems most of these people could use a few extra hugs.

I stay extremely interested in gender issues but all I see is anger and bias. It's like only a few people want to elevate themselves up and see the good in human kind. The others see the half they don't relate to and go after it with both barrels blazing.

It saddens me to see people talking about the one thing that makes life awesome, our connections to each other, like its some kind of war zone. A power struggle or strategy game where we must come out on top to avoid inevitable oppression.

I don't mean to detract from arguments against cultural and legal institutions that are inherently patriarchal. I don't mean to dismiss how divorce settlements and child custody choices usually screw over fathers. I don't mean to dismiss pay gaps for women, or how men get stereotyped as pedophiles and rapists. I don't mean to take away from any legitimate critique of modern femininity or masculinity. I don't mean to ignore either gender's concern with domestic abuse or genital mutilation. But it'd just be refreshing once in a while if I heard a feminist say she's in a happy marriage and isn't in it due to any societal expectations but because she wants to be committed to a partner she loves. Or how about a Men's Right Activist to say that he loves his wife dearly. To hear them put history and politics aside to talk about people like they're people. Like they have a heart and fucking feel something without filtering it through the Valerie Solanas or Glenn Sacks lens.

What happened to two individuals loving each other, communicating and respecting one another? What the fuck happened to that?

I find it funny that so many people are against marriage as an institution, while another demographic (homosexuals) clamor for the ability to be treated as equals and be allowed to marry. Are these people just salivating at the chance to be enslaved? Do they want to have fun custody battles too? I have a feeling that it's a "No."

All in all I think marriage can work for some and it will fail for some. Sex will be great in some marriages and it will be non-existent in others. Some will follow the stereotype and sex will go away once the ring hits the finger. Some will become even more passionate, while others will stay exactly how it is.

The majority of people let themselves go as they get older, period. Some people don't.

With sex, health, and looks, it's really up to the couple and the individuals to keep pushing to make things better. Stereotypical marital problems in regards to sex make for great laughs in stand-up comedy (and it might even be true in a lot of cases) but I can't let that stop me from falling in love, having great sex, or making commitment.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Who is Syp?

Melissa and I carpooled over to Oggi's Pizza for a "new hire" happy hour. We walked in and Melissa asked, "I wonder which one is our group?" I took a quick look around and pointed at the group of 20 dudes and 3 girls, "That's gotta be us." Melissa let out a halfhearted laugh and I (out of habit I guess) made a B-line straight to the only female that I didn't already know.

Being half-deaf and in a noisy bar, I couldn't really hear what she was saying. I resorted to making a sipping motion with my glass. "Your name is... 'Sip'?" "No!" she replied, while making dripping motions with her hand "Seeeep!" She looked a little annoyed but instead blowing me off, she offered to change the topic, "So, what group do you work in?" From here, the rest of our dialogue was fairly bland. The usual song and dance about what we do for fun and where we grew up. I did manage to gather that she was a Laotian RIT'er who was native to Rochester. Although our conversation wasn't very memorable, I do remember that I was hardly paying attention to anyone else in the bar. Unfortunately, I had to take off early to make it to a Thirsty Thursday in PB, but this wouldn't be the last time I saw her.

Over the next few months at work we got to know each other pretty well. A random conversation over messenger once in a while. A lunch here or there. Our initial group of friends were a bunch of Asian BAE'ers that consisted of our mutual friends Mike, Long, Jenny, Quang, and Melissa. But it wouldn't be the work scene that helped our friendship grow, it would be the club scene of all things. I found out that Syp was quite a dancer. I introduced her to my core group of friends who hit the clubs every weekend. Soon enough, Syp was in the rotation at least once a month. Not only did Syp have the moves (I''d find out later that she had won a dance contest in her earlier years), but she had incredible stamina. The nightclubs would have to turn on the lights to make her stop dancing, half the time that wouldn't even work.

We started hanging out and talking a lot more because of the club scene and we got along great. Syp humored my narcissistic tendencies, played a mean Devils Advocate, and always saw my side of the coin (even when no one else did). She was a great friend in some of my darkest hours. As she slowly let her guard down I was able to learn about her and return some of the favors.

The next couple years held plenty of ups and downs. We both had a lot going on personally and professionally and there were times where our friendship drifted. Similarities always pulled us back together though. One week, we might be learning cooking recipes. The next week, we might be studying vocab at the Wild Animal Park. If you asked me, "Who is Syp?" I'd almost always have a different answer. Co-worker, dancer, relationship coach, fellow volunteer, study buddy... the list goes on and on. If someone asked me today I think the answer I'd give would be the best and most accurate one to date: "A great friend."

Our strong personalities clashed at times and some bad times were had, but they were outnumbered by the good times. These "good times" aren't even defined by our trips or the big events. In fact, my fondest memories of Syp are the WTF-faces, the deadpan silences after her corny jokes, and the famous fog related fobby-incident (from an otherwise ardent Grammar Nazi). So many memories and I have even more to remember her by because in two years, we rubbed off on each other quite a bit. She stole my name calling of Something-y Mc-Something-son (I was so proud the first time I heard her say, "That's where the Slacky McSlackersons park!"). I stole her pet peeve of redundant acronyms (I just corrected a bank teller yesterday when he asked me to enter my "PIN Number" *cringe*). I am sure there are tons of other things, plenty of unconscious decisions where I ask myself, "I wonder how Syp would do this?" or "What would Syp think of this?"

Tonight I am trying to decide what I miss the most about Syp. Maybe it will be our deep conversations over pickled ginger about the complexities of life. Maybe it will be a silly argument about the quality of free food in the breakroom. Maybe I might actually miss a corny joke.