Tag Archives: Culture

Friends or lovers?

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Book excerpt:

“…so when Loretta and I got back home I set up a couple dates, with other women, online.

Please understand that last sentence makes no more sense to me now than it does to you – but at the time that was how I thought. Or maybe, more accurately, didn’t think. It was sort of this automatic behavior pattern I was in, like autopilot, which the online sites fit into – and fed into – perfectly. A new date with a different girl was always just an email away.

So I sent some emails, lined up a couple dates, and got busy distracting myself from the one woman I should’ve been focused on. After one of those dates I met Loretta at our coffee shop to go over lease forms for my rental (she had been in real estate and was knowledgeable about such things) and as we sat at a table deciding who was best to rent to, my phone buzzed with a text message. I looked at it and saw that it was from a woman I’d just gone out with the day before.

My demeanor changed instantly – and I was sure that Loretta caught it. The easy conversation we’d been having stopped being easy as it became clear there was now a new topic waiting to be discussed. Turns out Loretta had seen the screen of my phone as the text came in and so saw the name of the woman it was from and, not being shy, asked who she was. I said she was someone I’d met online and that we’d gone out. To say it was an awkward conversation is an understatement.

But we had it nonetheless – I told the woman sitting in front of me all about the other woman I’d just gone out with. I had this habit of being quite frank with Loretta – of telling her things that I wouldn’t confide in other women in my life. And I think ‘confide’ is the operative word here. I’d made her a confidant – I think because we started out with a friendship. And because she was my friend and confidant I would often tell her things without first thinking about how they might affect her – I guess as I would with a guy friend. But she was starting to have feelings for me. And I was starting to have them for her – and wanted to, in some way, make her feel like she was special to me, despite my habit of running with scissors. I told her that while I might meet another woman for coffee now and then, she was my lover – and because she was I would not be with another.

We were entering a curious space between friends and lovers, where we were still both – and yet on our way to something else…”

Although you may not believe what they do next – you can find out for a song.

Introducing the ‘Summer-Reading-List’ sale price of $2.99 for the eBook version of Online Dating Sucks …but it’s how I fell in love.

 

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A Story Book Ending

ليه-لا

DO YOU KNOW WHAT LEAP DAY IS?

It’s that extra day we get at the end of February about every four years. Because it’s such a rare occurrence, it has some traditions attached to it — one of which is the old Irish custom that says a woman can ask a man to marry her on such a day.

And, being Irish, you’d think I’d have known that. But I didn’t — well, not until it was brought to my attention via text a little over a year ago. That’s when the woman I was seeing at the time messaged me with a very important question.

She wanted to know if I would marry her.

I thought that was both cute and sweet, and I told her as much. And while I didn’t agree to her proposal made in jest, I didn’t say “no,” either.

But I’m getting ahead of myself here — this story doesn’t start in February 2012, it begins in June 2011. That’s when I started writing a column about dating and relationships here in The Herald. And the month after that is when I met the woman who’d one day ask me to marry her.

How are those two events related? I ended up writing my first book about both of them.

Here’s how it happened: After beginning the column in June 2011, I met Loretta in July and we started a fascinating relationship in which we’d discuss the dynamics between men and women — especially as they related to, and played out on, dating sites.

Though not actually dating at the time — well kind-of-sort-of, but not really — we definitely enjoyed each other’s company. We were also sweet on the deep philosophical conversations we had. I probably have been remiss in saying so, but many of the columns I wrote as the Online Dating Coach sprung from those very talks.

And around November of that year — with maybe 25 or so columns written — the idea began to occur to me that they might form the basis for a book.

I don’t know that I’d really given that thought much consideration before the day Loretta asked me what direction I saw myself going with my writing. Suddenly, the word “book” popped out of my mouth.

When she asked me what the book would be like, I said a collection of my columns. I think what I envisioned at first was a year’s worth of columns in chronological order. And when I had a year’s worth, Loretta and I sat down and started to assemble them — but it didn’t go so well.

Wait, I thought, I can’t include the early ones — they’re unpolished. So I left those out. Then Loretta said, “Let’s group them by category!” — thinking, I guess, that we could divide them into chapters themed “Advice to women” and “Advice to men” and so forth — but the categories seemed forced.

What we ended up with after our first few brainstorming sessions was not so much a book as a first attempt by a couple of amateurs trying to approximate a book.

As we continued to work on what the book should truly be, I was campaigning for a straightforward compendium of the columns I’d written, but Loretta had another idea. She suggested I weave our story, of meeting via the dating sites and falling in love, in among the columns. It was an interesting idea — but one I wasn’t fully comfortable with.

Loretta couldn’t understand why I was hesitant to write the story of her and me — but now as I think about it, I may have been leery at the time because I did not yet know where that story was going. She and I were doing great by that point, but we had our times — like any couple I guess — of not doing so great. And I’ve been known to have this weird little fear that to begin a relationship is to also begin its end.

It’s sort of like life — when you are born is when you begin dying, if you want to look at it that way. But you’ve got a lot of living to do before you kick off, and sometimes, relationship-wise, I can lose sight of that.

Does anyone want to take a wild guess as to who got their way about the book’s direction?

And I have to say, I’m so glad she did. By weaving our story in among the columns, the book has become, as they say, more “accessible” — and I’m pretty sure that’s code for not boring.

Those who’ve read it so far say that our story, mine and Loretta’s, gives them something to connect with. And, sometimes, something to become exasperated with — one of the reviewers said it best when he wrote that “I found myself rooting for your relationship the entire book, and every time you (me) screwed it up I wanted to shake my Kindle and yell at you.”

And isn’t that what we want — something to connect with?

I think it’s sort of like songs — you know how you listen to a song’s lyrics and apply them to your life and identify with them, no matter what the singer may actually have meant? Well it’s kind of like that: We want to find things we connect with, that help us understand, or better communicate, our own condition.

And that’s the book that Loretta helped me to see.

And here’s the part that really intrigues me now: Writing the book’s story helped us write our own. We were talking about our own story one day earlier this year when we came upon one of those not-doing-so-great times, where she and I were having trouble seeing our way forward together.

But having written down our story up to that point helped us to see where it needed to go.

And so she told me her fears, and I told her mine, and we came up with a way to let go of both sets — together.

So here’s something I didn’t share with Loretta for quite some time: I’ve told you that she once asked me to marry her, and I told you that I didn’t say “no.” Well, one day, not all that long ago, while sitting on the couch and having an unrelated conversation, I looked at her and I said “yes.”

That “yes” — uttered during a talk about something wholly unrelated — was my answer to the proposal she’d made on Leap Day.

And that’s where we are now — married, with a book that is not only our story, but the story of a year’s worth of advice columns I wrote for The Benicia Herald.

And to bring it full circle, that book is now available at Bookshop Benicia on First Street, just a few doors down from The Herald.

It’s at that book shop where I’ll soon be doing a book signing. And — spoiler alert — when you come I bet you’ll have a pretty good idea who that beautiful woman at my side is …

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It was bound to happen – Bridget Jones is Online Dating…

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Well Bridget Jones is back – and this time she’s dating online.

Which raises the question: Now that dating has been changed by Social Media, has it changed for the better?

As I say in Chapter 8 of my book :  “It was sort of like this automatic behavior pattern I was in, like autopilot, which the online sites fit into – and fed into – perfectly. A new date with a different girl was always just an email away…”

So is dating just easier now?

Or has it become too easy?

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Do Mass Murderers Play Sports?

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Do you play a sport?

I play soccer, and last night, on the way home from my game, I called my sister. When I called she was, coincidently, in the middle of viewing a soccer game on TV. She said she was watching the San Jose Earthquakes and was fascinated with the game because one of the Earthquake’s players was a kid she used to teach in school.

Now there was a time when I would have talked about the Earthquakes with her all night long – but that time was 1978. Back then I was a kid who not only played soccer, but watched other people play it too. I was so taken with the sport I filled my life with it. I’d research the best cleats to wear, and the best soccer balls to use – and that was before Google, when we used to have to go to a place called a “library” and look through things called “books” in order to find answers to our questions. Continue reading

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What will I write this week?

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I used to have a phone-phone, but now I have a smart-phone.

And on that smart phone are many apps, widgets and such designed to make life easier. Which is funny, because I pretty much remember life being easier before smart phones. So maybe the phone’s real purpose was not simply to make life easier – but to get life back to as easy as it was before we had smart phones?

No, that can’t be right… Continue reading

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Traditional

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Monterey was beautiful last Monday.

I know because I was there with my new wife, Loretta, to throw a bouquet of flowers into the ocean. And while that seems a curious thing to do, it’s actually a tradition. Here’s what I mean: Continue reading

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I’m Weird

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I have a secret – my secret is that I’m weird.

My guess is you’re a little weird too.

I’m willing to bet there’s something about you that you don’t want others to know. And the reason you don’t want them to know is because you don’t think they’ll understand.  You’re afraid, at some level, that their lack of understanding will lead them to judge you for your difference. Continue reading

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Dumped

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Have you ever been dumped for someone else?

It makes you question your self-worth. It causes you to wonder whether you’re really the person you’ve been trying to become all these years. It breeds things like self-doubt, and second guessing.

It sucks.

And it’s not only done between a man and a woman – I’m a guy, and I’ve been dumped by a guy. But let me back up a minute so that you get the whole story. Continue reading

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Facebook made me a Liar

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I’m going to unfriend you.

I’m sorry, and I don’t mean anything by it, but, well, you’re not really my friend.

The truth is I don’t actually know you. Not only have I not met you but I’ve never even spoken with you on the phone.  And I’ve certainly never been over to your place – in fact I’m not exactly sure what state – or country – your place is in, specifically.

So how did you and I get here? Things had been going so well hadn’t they? When you sent me that friend request about six months back I thought “Sure, what the hey?” I have no idea who this person is, or how they found me, or why they want to be associated with me, or if they live in a prison, or if they’re actually my crazy ex-girlfriend posing as somebody else again, but why not add them as a “friend”? Continue reading

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Cruising…

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Do kids cruise anymore?

You remember cruising – when you drove up and down the boulevard for hours on end achieving little more than burning half a tank of gas. It was this activity where we were all going somewhere and yet never really arriving there. Do kids still do that? If they do, I haven’t seen them lately. Of course to see them I suppose I’d need to be on the boulevard at 11:00 on a Saturday night – and that doesn’t happen too often any more.

But there was a time it did. Continue reading

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