Becoming disconnected

I just got back from a much-needed vacation to Buenos Aires. Time with Jonobie (my wonderful friend and travel companion), sunshine, and new adventures were all in order. Also in order was becoming almost completely disconnected from my day-to-day life.

I removed Slack and my personal email account from my phone (work email is never accessed from my phone), the two most prevalent distractions from living in the now. I removed easy access to NPR and the New York Times from my phone’s home screen and succeeded in not looking at them once. I tried to limit my time on Facebook (already accessed only from the mobile web interface) to posting photos into our shared Argentina! album. Ditto Instagram. That was mostly, but not entirely, successful.

And you know, it was excellent.

I received a small handful of texts from people that I love and a few emails to my travel-only email account from the very few people that have the address. Through those and friends commenting on the Facebook and Instagram photos I felt somewhat connected with my tribe.

I didn’t feel overwhelmed by all the things piling up while I was away – things that likely don’t warrant worrying about anyway and none of which needed an immediate response from me (and they certainly didn’t get one!). I wasn’t tied to checking my personal email and Slack messages. I was free to live in the now, mostly guilt-free.

The challenge is to pull this level of disconnectedness into my daily life while still being connected to people. I’ve decided to stop having my personal email open at work. I’m going to squash all kinds of Slack notifications, perhaps not even reinstalling it on my phone. I’m going to continue ramping down reading the news to mitigate the stress that results from reading about the shit-show that is our new president.

That said, how can I retain connectivity with my tribe? More game nights? More lunches with friends? More texts? More old-school long-form emails? Therein lies the real challenge: how to stay connected to people and yet disconnected from the electronic distractions.

Moulin Rouge – more than just a movie to me

Moulin Rouge came out in 2001, right in the middle of when I was coming out – to myself and everyone else. My friend Megan, who was my rock at that time in my life, had seen the movie and thought that I would enjoy it. So one afternoon we left work early and walked through the parking garage to the theater in the Arboretum (before it became a Cheesecake Factory). And I didn’t just enjoy it, I fell in love with it.

At that time in my life I was unbearably unhappy. I was struggling to reconcile my faith with my sexuality and had resigned myself to always being alone. I desperately wanted to escape the impossible position I found myself in but no idea how to do so.

And then I heard One Day I’ll Fly Away which summed up what I felt so concisely:

One day I’ll fly away
Leave all this to yesterday
Why live life from dream to dream
And dread the day when dreaming ends

And the seemlingly impossible dream represented by Come What May:

Never knew I could feel like this
Like I’ve never seen the sky before
Want to vanish inside your kiss
Everyday I love you more and more
Listen to my heart, can you hear it sings
Telling me to give you everything
Seasons may change winter to spring
But I love you until the end of time

Through the help of friends I was eventually able to “fly away” to a place where I lived happiness instead of dreaming about it by accepting who I was. A couple of years after seeing Moulin Rouge I met Benjamin and Come What May become reality. It didn’t last forever, but I still cherish those 7.5 years.

Moulin Rouge reminds me that in my past I felt happiness forever out of reach, and yet I obtained it. Of the longing for love and companionship and then the fulfillment of that dream. And that the fulfillment of the dream can happen again.

Yes, I’m a hopeless romantic.

Tired of dating

I’m tired of dating. I’m tired of being interested in people who don’t have time for me. I’m tired of meeting person after person and rehashing the same life stories and there not being a connection. I’m tired of it all.

By all accounts dating is suppose to be fun, thrilling, and exciting. And it is for me when I’m getting to know someone. It isn’t when it’s a series of connection-less meetings at coffee shops. Maybe that is more interesting for extroverts.

Maybe this extreme frustration is a result of being sick for 2 weeks and feeling uncute and highly unsocial, but hating being alone. It probably doesn’t help that the person I’d really like to hang out with and get to know is in Portland, doesn’t have time for me (again — see a trend?), and is moving to San Fran at the end of the year anyway.

I’m tired of dating.

Unattainability

This past week I was chatting with a gentleman online whom I’m very much interested in. During one of our conversations he called me a “totally unattainable man”. Me? Unattainable? To this handsome fellow!? I understand in the abstract — there have been individuals I too have considered unattainable — but I’ve never thought about someone else applying that label to me. I’ve been muddling over this concept in my head all week, both the perceived unattainability of others and my perceived unattainability.

What makes someone unattainable? Is it more about them as a person or about our insecurities?

Self image

I’ve encountered guys I’ve thought to be unattainable (LJ friends might recall this post), so I’m no stranger to the phenomenon. After some reflection I’ve decided that the more physically attractive I find someone, the more I think they are unattainable to me. In fact, the more attractive they are the more unlikely I am to even initiate communication, online or in person. Admittedly this is entirely about me and my self image. Someone I think is really attractive I can’t fathom wanting to be with me who I don’t perceive to be as attractive. Sadly, we gay men seem to come in two flavors: those who underestimate how physically attractive they are and those who know it and as a result are often total assholes. Maybe the latter have the upper hand when wrestling with the concept of unattainability.

Not just a slab of meat

I have initiated communication with amazingly attractive guys when I have context to build on besides what they look like. Having only a picture from their online profile or seeing them across the room without knowing anything about them is intimidating. If, instead, their profile or a mutual friend conveys something about them, I’m much more inclined to initiate a conversation. I view people as more approachable, and ultimately more attainable, when they aren’t just a pretty face.

Too good to be true?

Assuming I get past being intimidated by their dashing good looks, it’s often remarkably intimidating to know that they also have a good job, are generally happy in life, share some of the same interests as I do, and even communicate in a similar fashion. You start stacking things up and realize: they’re unattainable because they’re too good to be true, something must be wrong with them.

There are no perfect guys, but I have to keep reminding myself that sometimes the stars line up, sometimes you really do encounter quality, attractive, guys. It doesn’t mean that there will be chemistry or that they’ll even agree to a first date, but it does mean I need to stop talking myself out of initiating conversation with someone.

Call me, maybe

All of the above is a take-away for me, on how people I think are unattainable may not really be unattainable. But given that someone made the ‘unattainable’ comment about me (although it still defies belief), I’ll be so bold to write a take-away for others who might read this: I, too, am perfectly attainable.

If you’re interested, say hello. Message me online. Come up to me in a bar. Strike up a conversation. Most of my friends would agree I’m a nice guy. I can’t guarantee chemistry but I’m perfectly approachable and by no means unattainable.

Oh, and fill out your online profiles — you become a much more interesting person when there’s context around that handsome mug.

Not letting “I’m busy” rule my life

I’ve found the phrase “I’m busy” comes up in my conversations more and more recently. It appears I’m not alone. But this blog entry isn’t to talk about how we as a country feel an incessant need to stay occupied, but rather about using that as an excuse.

A few weeks ago a gentleman I was seeing, and with whom I thought there was mutual chemistry, told me he wasn’t interested in seeing me any longer because he didn’t have the time to invest into the relationship that he thought it deserved. In short, he was too busy to have a relationship, at least with me.

I’ve found myself using “I’m busy” as an excuse on why I haven’t done something or another: responding to an email, getting together with friends, etc. But frankly, the excuse is hogwash. We’re all busy. Yet we somehow make time to do the things that we deem important to us.

We’re at one of the most stressful parts of the release cycle at work. Long hours at the office and insanely packed days are the norm, but I still need to make downtime for me and time spent with my friends. Yes, that may mean living even more rigedly by a schedule for the next several months, but that’s better than living under a merky haze of being ambigiously “busy”.

So I’m purging “I’m busy” from my vocabulary, becoming even better friends with my calendar, and making time to do things that are important to me.

Move over Words of Affirmation

This morning I took the 5 Love Languages online quiz again prior to sending the link to Paul. The quiz is a compliment to the book by the same name. The concept is that people express appreciation to each another in one of 5 “languages”. In addition people best receive appreciation in one of the 5 as well. Relationships are most successful when you speak the language to the other person that they most appreciate.

Despite the presence of “the L word” in the title, I find this helpful in most all relationships. I think of it as Myers-Briggs of appreciation. For example, if Jonobie appreciates quality time most, why expend effort buying her trinkets?

Every time I’ve taken it, I’ve always maxed out Words of Affirmation1 (give me a sincere compliment and I’m good for a month). I was startled to find that was no longer true. I had a tie for Quality Time and Physical Touch then followed by Words of Affirmation.2

This was really obvious when taking the quiz too (it’s only 30 questions and easy to see which answers map to which language). And it’s dead-on. I still value affirming words, but find myself really missing quality time with friends and physical touch. My friends have probably gotten more hugs from me recently than ever before — and they can expect tons more. It also explains why I don’t enjoy being alone as much as I use to.

I’m more interested in why it changed rather than the change itself. This will give me something to chew on all weekend.

1 Which I blogged a bit about back here.

2 I told Chris this revelation tonight and he laughed at me. Said he could have told me that months ago.

Leagues

For the past 5 weeks I’ve gone one several dates with Paul. Enough dates that I’ll be so bold as to say we’re “seeing each other” but not so bold to say we’re “dating”. (Don’t ask me to define the difference.)

At the gym this morning I realized that I think Paul is out of my league. He’s smart, funny, and a co-owner of a successful environmental consulting firm. And did I mention attractive? Actually, ‘attractive’ is a disservice. The man is gorgeous. The only way he could be more physically attractive is if he never wore a shirt again. Ever. And for some reason I think he’s out of my league. Even as I type that I realize it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.

I thought Chris was out of my league when I started dating him too for many of the same reasons, but I found him to be approachable and we worked out rather well.

So maybe “out of my league” is a poorly-defined phrase for someone who impresses me. Someone who challenges me. Someone who exceeds my status quo. Maybe that’s just the type of person I need.