Friday, December 31, 2004

The Great Ache, September 15, 2004

Virtually everyone I know that is in their mid to late 20’s and beyond has experienced what the French call “The Great Ache”.[1] It’s a tale so familiar it’s almost as if everyone has the same story. Of course you know I’m referring to the “one that got away”. It’s pretty much required that if you want to be a semi-successful adult, you have to fall completely in love with someone, make plans to spend your life with them, and then have them walk away leaving you a fragmented, disillusioned shell of the person you once were.

Not only is everyone’s story almost exactly the same, but those who did not have this happen to them are destined for extreme loneliness or early divorce. It’s just one of those rules of life – you have to have your heart completely shredded by someone before you can truly appreciate love. So if you haven’t been told, “I’m just not enamored with you anymore” or “I love you, but I’m not in love with you anymore”, then watch out. It’s coming.

Much of American culture, however, resides around the absurd notion that the person that absolutely ruined you is coming back AND that you want them to. Take Ross and Rachel, for example. Inexplicably, Ross somehow managed to find himself in bed with Rachel Green, one of the top ten totally hot women in America. Shockingly, it doesn’t work out because she realizes what a total loser Ross is and he cheats on her while they’re on a “break”. Ross, of course, is best known for being a Paleontologist, for having a cute monkey that America collectively ignores shits all over the place, and for generally being a whiny baby that needs to have the stuffing knocked out of him on a routine basis. Somehow, Ross is allegedly smart enough to study ancient dinosaurs, but can’t figure out that his first wife is a lesbian.[2]

In case you can’t tell, I don’t just hate Ross, I abhor him. He’s cast as the sensitive guy on the show. Chandler is the sarcastic one who manages to find romantic success (after having his entire spirit crushed by that evil and annoying Jewish girl). In fact, Chandler is the modern American dream because he has a total disrespect for his body, yet still manages to nail the hottie next door (even if she is a neat freak with OCD). At any rate, Joey is cast as the perpetual bachelor who doesn’t care much about love because he’s so disillusioned that he doesn’t want to fall in love again, he just wants to bang all day and night with the next piece of ass.

But back to Ross, and the real reason I hate Ross and will never like David Schwimmer as an actor, is that he ruined sensitive guys forever. It’s not cool to be sensitive. No, if you want to be cool, you have to be a charming sarcast or a dissolutioned meathead. Being sensitive means being a three time loser at the alter, it means incessantly whining about every little thing, and it means having a complete inability to connect in any meaningful way with the opposite sex because you’re too busy being sensitive.

See, I used to think that what women wanted was someone who was sensitive, sensitive to their needs, their dreams, and their desires. But now I think that’s all a bunch of hogwash. Women in their 20’s fall into two categories: ones that want cars and money, and ones that are so utterly confused about who they are and what they want that they think they need a sensitive guy. But, once a woman figures out what she wants, there goes sensitive man. She doesn’t need him anymore, so he’s tossed aside like used luggage waiting to be claimed by the next confused woman who needs to be cared after. That’s exactly what Ross is. And it’s exactly what Chandler is not. No, Chandler is not a sensitive type. He might, if extreme measures require it, engage in some sensitivity on a rare occasion. But mostly, he’s just going to ridicule Monica for having OCD and rest on the fact that he’s having sex with Courtney Fucking Cox.[3]

Ross is the one that would want to sit down and talk about why Monica feels like she has to hide the entire apartment’s clutter in a closet. See, there’s a difference between listening and being a whiny bitch. To Ross, and to the creators of the show, sensitive guys don’t know how to listen – they just know how to bitch and moan. Ross is a lot like Luke Skywalker in that every time something goes wrong, he’s always whining about how shitty his life is but never acknowledges the fact that he’s banging some of the hottest girls on TV (Ross, not Skywalker – the closest he got to a piece of ass turned out to be his sister). Maybe that presents a metaphysical question (sex with hotties isn’t enough to make one happy), but the show always seemed to focus on how unhappy Ross was and what a sap he was. It always ignored the fact that you can only be so unhappy when you’re scoring with the ladies. Those trysts may not ever take Ross to the Promised Land[4], but they sure as hell should bring a smile to his face.

But I digress. Back to the issue at hand, which is that there’s no fucking way Rachel would have not gone to Paris after getting Ross’s entirely pathetic voice message in the last episode. In fact, not only was that one of the dumbest moments in television history, it was also one of the most insulting. Let me explain.

On one level, the ending to Friends (much like the ending to Sex In The City) was completely insulting because that person, the one that got away, The Great Ache, came back at the end. This never happens in real life. In fact, I’m fairly certain that if it did happen the Universe would unravel at the core and we wouldn’t have to worry about the impending great Rapture because we’d all be incinerated in the blink of an eye. I don’t know a single person who has had this happen and has had the relationship work. Oh sure, he/she might come back for a little while, but it never lasts – simply because the reasons why it failed the first time are usually in existence the second time around as well.

See, I have come to think that relationships fail when one of two things (or both) happens: one person either develops a complete disrespect for their mate or they just get bored. If you’re involved with someone and that happens, they leave, you’re devastated, you heal up, and they come back, would you really want to risk going through all of that again? Of course not. You might do it, but that’s only because you have a momentary lapse of reason, forgetting that the person you purportedly wanted to spend the rest of your life with cracked open your heart, fried it up on a platter, and then ate it slowly with mayonnaise. No, even if some part of you wanted to get back with them, you never would (unless you were as pathetic as Ross – which I must admit, some of us are). And that’s why Friends and Sex In the City are the apocalypse. They give hope, false hope I might add, to the legions of American men and women that still want to believe that the one that got away is coming back. Those two finales single-handedly set back America 10 years.

But there’s a whole ‘nuther issue that needs to be addressed and that’s namely, how come Rachel had to stay? I mean think about it. Rachel has slaved for years in the fashion industry to get where she is. Finally, after all that hard work, she gets a huge gig in Paris, one of the top cities in the world, and THE destination for fashion. She’s all set to hop on the plane when Ross tells her he wants to be with her and he loves her (because that’s what sensitive guys do, right?). So then she’s the one that has to sacrifice her dream job to be with him? He’s the fucking paleontologist! Unless there is a sudden gold mine of old bones found in the NYC metro area, I think this asshole can pick up and move since he waited until she was literally on the plane to tell her he loved her. But no, as usual it’s the woman that has to drop everything and sacrifice for her man.

But let’s step outside that particular box for a moment and think about the bigger picture – why the hell would Rachel even consider staying? Let’s see, you and Ross have this big relationship, it doesn’t really work because he a total sap who can’t seem to understand that you don’t have to chop your penis off to be sensitive, and during a “break” with him he goes out and sleeps with some crass wench, breaking your heart, a series of events that take you years to get over. Yes, this is the man you give up your dreams for. This is the man that makes you say, “Hey Paris, you might be great, but I’ve got something better here – Ross Gellar”. I know he’s the father of their love child, but even that shouldn’t be enough. It’s not like he did any real fathering with his first love child (that he had with another woman). Aside from dressing up like a total child-molesting weirdo at Christmas time, you’d be hard pressed to point to any moment in the entire 10 year run where Ross actually acted like a father.

American pop culture is riddled with this kind of rot. Notting Hill cast Hugh Grant as a lonely (and boring) bookseller who resided, shockingly, in the Notting Hill area of London. He happens to run into a famous American actress (Julia Roberts) who is gracious and charming and genuine – three things that famous people are never. They hit it off, but it just doesn’t work out. Then, like 9 months later, after he’s been humiliated by her, she comes back and wants to get together because she purportedly loves him. If that isn’t absurd enough, he ends up taking her back and they live happily ever after.

The real reason I’m angry about this, however, is that I used to be a “sensitive guy”. And it was cool to be a sensitive type. But I can’t be that person any more because of Ross. No, now every woman in America[5] wants Chandler or Joey, because they can see what a pain in the ass Ross is. They don’t need the sensitive guys anymore. Sensitive guys just aren’t cool anymore. Oh, they may say they want sensitive guys, but that’s really just for things like getting coffee while they whine about how Johnny farts in public and wants your advice on how to rein him in. Yes, “sensitive guys” are now relationship shrinks.

Not only that, those same women are waiting for their “Ross” or “Mr. Big” to come back to them, so they aren’t really interested in you anyway. I mean, how could you compete with some fairy tale vision that they’re holding onto in the slim hopes that someone they see as your superior will come back to them? Girl, I just wanted to take you out for some Thai food, not fulfill all your wildest dreams.[6]

[1] I’m making this up about the French of course. The French may be the world’s greatest fuckers – in that they fuck a lot, but they don’t know a thing about love. I made that up too.

[2] It couldn’t have been that great of a surprise.

[3] The real hero here is David Arquette, a C level celebrity at best that really is having sex with Courtney Fucking Cox, probably as I type this.

[4] Divorce number 4.

[5] Let’s ignore that as I write this I reside outside of the United States.

[6] I’ll wait until the 2nd date for that.

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

"No TV and no beer make Homer...something, something"

"...Go Crazy?"

We didn't make it to the Tower of London yesterday, but Eric's bag finally arrived. Since our time was limited, we went to the British Musuem because you can easily spend five hours at the Tower of London, but it's pretty tough to spend that much time at the British Musuem. We only had about 3.5 hours at the musuem, but that was plenty of time. It's tiring walking through exhibit after exhibit taking in the legacy of colonial domination. At some point, your brain just shuts down and you have a complete inability to absorb any more information. I did like that Japanese kitana's and samurai swords, though.

After the musuem, we met up with the Prototype near where she lives. There is a nice posh pub there, so we went in and had dinner and drinks. It was a good time. I was pretty exhausted, though, and I don't think I was as lively as usual. Finally, around 11, they were closing. But, the Prototype and I wanted some alone time (or as "alone" as a club can provide) so we sent Eric and Lisa home on the tube and headed to a generic Aussie pub called The Walkabout. It's essentially like a low-rent TGI Friday's owned and operated by Aussies. The Prototype says it's the kind of place that the Aussies won't generally go in the homeland, but always go when they come to the UK. Go figure.

It was pretty damn loud in there, so it wasn't the best atmosphere. But it was nice to spend some time with the Prototype. She was only going to say so much with other people around and I was eager to hear about her Christmas trip to Paris and things of that nature. We stayed until about 1, which was more than late enough for me. I was dragging ass, so to speak - couldn't even dance properly (not that the music was our scene). Of course, I would have stayed out all night had I the chance...

I feel that I'm in a difficult situation right now - moreso emotionally than anything else. The Prototype, for what's it's worth, is very adept at checking herself emotionally. She does want a chance for us to date properly, but when I really pay attention, I can see the strain between that desire and the cold hard reality of the situation - which is that we may never have the opportunity. To me, I'm in a foreign place. I'm not the type to conceal or contain feelings for someone I like. But it's a fine line. You can't let on too quickly how crazy you are for someone, especially not when you have the Sword of Damacles hanging over your collective heads.

Generally, I think that relationships fall into two initial classifications: ones that just fall into place and ones that have trouble falling into place. Obviously, the first type is preferable. BUT, as I am always the contrarian and I have just received a very insightful email from a very good friend of mine that I will see in two days, I have a theory about the first type of relationships. See, women are wily - they like to see growth on a daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly basis. Sometimes, when things fall into place too easily, men have a tendency to rest on their laurels - or, more aptly, go with the flow. When you really have to work for something, it almost makes it more dear and enduring. Or, at least that's what I tell myself. As I continue on this road that I'm on, it will be interesting to see if my theory contains a shred of validity or not.

One thing I've really learned the last few months is how much of a total novice I am when it comes to women. I spend inordinate hours pondering women in general (or now in specific), relationships, dating, etc. I've had my fair share of significant and insignificant relationships. I'm not a novice in the sense that I haven't shared, bonded, and broken under the mantle of the fairer sex. No, I'm a novice in the sense that no matter how much you think you know, no matter how much experience you have, you really know nothing because EVERY WOMAN IS DIFFERENT. Damn them. They'll be the death of us all.

At any rate, I leave for Amsterdam tomorrow morning with Eric and Lisa. Since I will have unstable internet access and will be averse to spending precious resources on internet cafe's, I probably won't be updating the blog in real time. HOWEVER, because I'm the generous sort, I have several essays or diatribes that I've been working on since September. I've set up the blog to publish those in my absence.

Now, when you read these peices of "literature", realize that they reflect discontent and perturbations within my inner psyche, not a universal experience. The views expressed are my views; they were written by me, for me, not for some illusive audience. My only hope in writing these essays was that I would achieve some measure of inner satisfaction from expressing certain perspectives and ideas in a more concrete form. So if you find some of what I write to be oddly unfunny, that reflects an oddity that is in me. I was not trying to be universally humorous. I’m not comic. I was merely trying to entertain myself along the way.

In the end, these essays reflect my take on themes that dominate the American male during what I’ll dub the “inter-war period”, which is of course, the time you leave home for good and the time you marry. As I write this, I’m still in the midst of my own personal inter-war period[1] and I write about it because it’s what I know.

[1] I’m Germany, minus all the Nazism of course.

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Well laid plans get...

...changed. American Airlines lost one of Eric's bags somewhere in Boston and he's been trying to get it back since he arrived on Sunday. It was supposed to be at the hotel on Monday morning, but, as is their custom, American was too incompetent to actually put the bag on the plane for a second time and it remained in Boston. So, he spent many long hours yesterday attempting to contact the right people by phone, making his case for getting the damn bag on the plane, and generally trying to un-nobify the situation. It should have arrived this morning, but I do not know yet if it did.

At any rate, since the British Musuem was obviously out (since we didn't get everything sorted out until late and then had to eat - yummy Nando's chicken), we ended up going to a local pub. We went into a pub for food the other day, but this time we went to drink. While there, one of the bartenders who I somewhat know came over and chatted me up a bit. Now, I felt bad because I don't remember her name, I met her at a time that I may have been interested in hooking up with her, and I hate giving people the wrong impression. But, as she was working, she did not stay long. She did, however, suggest that I call up her roomate Fabian so that we could "hang out".

The pub was good fun. Not only did we have a few pints, but we also saw the neighborhood transvestite. I've heard rumors of "her", but had never actually seen, or more to the point, smelled this particular individual. But, true to form, our night would not have been complete without a transvestite (Eric and Lisa are getting the true London experience). Not only did she look like a man, but she had the most overwhelming and powerfully offensive perfume. After doing a walk about the room, scoping the scene, she sauntered over to this area of couches behind our table and asked in a very mannish voice, "can I sit here?". Now, the young couple that was there clearly didn't want her to sit down, but they were the nice sort and said yes. Less than five minutes later and they cleared out. Good times.

After the pub, we went back to my place to cook food. I set Eric to chopping and I got the chicken marinating. Quesadillas were the order of the day. It took about an hour, but we had tasty and delicious food, hot and fresh. Well worth the effort. My heat is not working in my room (shocker), but while cooking, I mentioned this to one of my friends in the house and she said she had an extra space heater, so she loaned me that. It made a huge difference.

Today, we're planning on the Tower of London. If Eric's bag doesn't show up, we'll have to stop at a Gap or something so that he can get some clean clothing. Hopefully it's there.

Sunday, December 26, 2004

Boxing Day

The Brits do make a big deal out of Christmas, but it's not exactly what I would call home. Going to Lee Abbey was a good idea, though. It worked out quite well. They have a warm community over there, much better than what we have at William Temple House. Plus, their "warden" isn't a Nazi as far as I can tell. On the way over, I passed the neighborhood Kabab shop (every neighborhood needs a kabab shop). I expected it to be closed for Christmas day, but not only was it open, it was packed! Do we really need to eat greasy, uncomfortably gut wrenching kababs on Christmas Day?

Now that Christmas is over, I have to say, I didn't have a bad Christmas. There were definitely many things I missed, but I did at least get to talk to part of the extended family which was necessary but not truly sufficient. That being said, here are a few things that I missed:

- The look of wonderment and awe on a certain little girl's face when she opens presents.
- Slaving over the oven and stove all day preparing a feast for all to enjoy.
- Lively conversation with family.
- Football and Basketball.
- Cranberry Bread (they don't have cranberries here, only North America).
- Christmas decorations and that "homey" feel that American's (or my family) seems to have squared away.

Today is "Boxing Day" in the UK. I'm wondering, is it Boxing Day because the Brits "box" up their trees and ornaments, or because they rush out to all the stores and buy box loads of discounted goods? I guess, that's one thing I'll never know. (The UK has two annual sales, one after Christmas, one in July - so I'm not exagerating here - they do buy loads of junk after Christmas.)

This morning, friends Eric and Lisa from New Jersey arrived. They took the overnight flight and got in around 800. It's a tough thing to do because when you arrive, you're ready to collapse, but to do so guarantees you'll have jet lag for days. Instead, the only solution is to stay active, get out and see the sights, and pass out in a heap around 8 pm. So that's what we did. We headed out to Knightsbridge hoping that Harrod's would be open. It was not. I guess Boxing Day for Harrod's starts tomorrow. We had planned on making a big loop through Harrod's, Hyde Park, St. James Park, Buckingham Palace, and Westminster, which is what we did after skipping Harrod's. Lots of walking and my feet are objecting, as usual. All in all a nice day.

They did get the rude welcome to London's finest public transportation, however. We caught the bus from Earl's Court (after waiting entirely too long) and had a smooth journey to Knightsbridge. Not so lucky were those at later stops that wanted on our bus. The driver decided that he was "full" and refused to let people on. If only I had my camera ready to see the look of disappointment and confusion on their faces when the bus drove away. Sadly, I was unprepared. Karma bit us in the hindquarters, however, as later in the day, we waited for a bus that never came at Victoria Station for about 45 minutes. Finally we gave up and took the tube (my preferred option, but they had purchased all day bus passes and I didn't want them to have to spend the extra pounds to get home).

Did I mention that London is back to being as cold as the 7th circle in Dante's Hell? Much of today was spent freezing our asses off. Tomorrow, we're going to the British Musuem. At least they have heat in there.

Saturday, December 25, 2004

Merry Christmas!

This isn’t certainly going to go down as one of the better Christmas’s that I’ve enjoyed, but it is interesting. Instead of being anti-social, which I had the thought of doing, I decided to get in line with the best thing going. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Last night, in the tradition that I’ve established, I cooked up a big meal for myself to enjoy. Lamb, potatoes, onions, garlic bread, and toffee squares. It was tasty, but failed the delicious and succulent tests because: a) I only bought a half leg of lamb which just doesn’t cook right, b) I forgot the carrots, c) I forgot the chicken stock, and d) I couldn’t find the fresh herbs I needed because both stores I went to were completely sold out of everything. Still, it was enjoyable and I have fairly good leftovers yet to consume.

After dinner, I played cards with the cheating Tenor until it was time to go to mass. The Tenor, being Catholic, came with as did my friend Justin. The mass was long and extremely uncomfortable – my back is not the forgiving type. There was lots of standing, sitting, kneeling, repeat. In fact, the only amusing thing about the whole experience was that one of the priests was quite literally Borat. And if you don’t know who Borat is, then you have not watched enough HBO. Because I have a complete inability to turn off my critical mind, I have classified two reasons why I think the Catholic Church is in crisis.

First, it’s entrenched in style over substance. By this I mean that the church has long been steeped in the tradition of ornamentation, ritual, and oddity. Ringing of bells, and excessive use of incense (I was almost overcome by the incense – and I’m not exaggerating). There is such a focus on things that are ultimately tangential to the whole message and experience that it ultimately turns me off from the process. Get to the point, is my sometimes attitude, and when a rail like seat is uncomfortably digging into my back, well, get to the Fing point.

The second criticism is directly related to the first – the message is lost. I’ve seen this at many a church, but for someone like me, it’s the homily that is important. Yet, the Church apparently has no interest in training priests to be good speakers, how to write a speech, or what the message should be about. Last night’s homily was absurd to the point that I almost wanted to say something to the priest about it, except I wouldn’t do that because he would have taken offense. Essentially, he spent about 15 minutes describing why Christmas was overly commercialized, about 1 minute extolling the necessity of preaching the “Christmas message”, and about 1 minute explaining the Christmas message. Not only was that entirely worthless, but he paused every four words as if he had something dramatic to say, when actually he was being overly simplistic to the point that only a simpleton could have come out of the church suggesting that it was a profound message. Not only that, at the end of the mass, he got up on the podium again and gave his five minute recruitment speech. AS IF, there was a chance I was going to return after that abomination that was these proceedings.

And this is always the problem with the Church. I can buy into most of the story – Mary giving birth to the son of God, the message, the crucifixion, etc. But if the people who study this stuff and are alleged experts can’t do something very simple like preach about what Christmas means and what we should take from that in our every day lives, then I’m sorry, I’m opting out of formalized religion. It’s ultimately a vast waste of time.

Now, something I can’t buy into that is implicit to the story (or at least the way the story was told last night) is the idea that Mary remained a virgin even after giving birth to Jesus. In fact, I have to question the entire nature of “virginity” which to me is a great oddity. This monolithic organization created and ruled by men that do not wed or “have relations” (with girls, at least) has this fixation on virginity as something pure, which I find truly bizarre and I don’t understand where it came from or why (although I have a theory involving syphilis). At any rate, biologically, a woman can’t give birth and still be a virgin – so I’m just never going to believe that, nor will I think it’s necessary to think of Mary as a virgin. Isn’t giving birth to the son of God enough to establish your ultimate goodness?

But even beyond the medical issue, does anyone really think that Joseph wouldn’t have wanted to have sex with his wife? I mean, think about it. You’re dating this woman, going to get married, and then you find her pregnant with the son of God, something you had nothing to do with. So, you swallow your pride, you see how important this is, and roll with it. But then, afterwards, wouldn’t you want to consummate the marriage? I mean, it would be completely out of the ordinary for them to not have a sexual relationship, so far out of the norm that I find it totally unbelievable. In fact, the whole “son of God” thing is more believable on several orders of magnitude. Another thought I’ve had relates to Mary Magdalene. But, because I want to spare my dear Mother any further discomfort, I’ll hold off on why I think Mary Magdalene was one of the disciples. For now.

Very soon, I’m going over to Lee Abbey, which is another student house in the area. My friend Justin lives there and he invited me to join them for their Christmas feast. It cost £10, but sounds worth it. They start with mulled wine at 130; proceed to a full feast at 2, with coffee and dessert at 330. Justin said last year they have a turkey for every table. Of course, he sometimes has a…questionable relationship with the truth, so I’ll soon find out. Either way, should be a good time.

Friday, December 24, 2004

"I'm gonna take my time...

...I have all the time in the world."

Last night was utterly fantastic. The Prototype called me at work; she was fortunate to get off early (and get paid for a whole day!) so she had been walking around Covent Garden taking it easy. We talked for a few minutes, made plans to meet up at a posh pub called Slug and Lettuce, at which point she stated that she was "excited to see" me. I was pleased.

I showed up at the pub, which happens to be near where she lives, and of course because I'm blind even with glasses, didn't see her. She saw me, though, so it worked out. The conversation was typically intense and intellectual. I gave her Noam Chomsky's latest book for Christmas (my one and only Christmas gift to anyone this year), which she loved. She had mentioned last Saturday that she really wanted to read it and I filed that away (I have amazing drunk memory).

As is typical in this country, our evening would not have been complete without two anecdotes. First, out of the blue, two lads just have at it - grabbing each other, punching each other in the face, headlocks - the whole enchilada. Now, the Prototype is very sensible in a crisis and immediately grabbed me and took me outside (we were sitting by the door). After a minute or two, the bartenders finally broke it up and roughly tossed one dude out. In short, that's a snapshot of Britain. I can count on one finger the number of times I've seen that in the US and it happens on a nightly basis in this country. Maybe it's alcoholism or maybe, as my neighbor put it, some people just schedule a bout of fisticuffs on a routine basis for no reason at all.

The other anecdote was emminently more peaceful and more amusing. As I said, we were sitting by the door. At one point, this total gnome walked in - he was short, balding, old, and just had that crazed British look going (a little like the "freak" in Goonies - bad teeth and all). He sees the Prototype, walks over, and asks, "are you married yet?" I'm like, uh, give us some time, you know? He turns to me and says, "Don't delay, you don't want this one to get away." Later, when I went to the toilet, I come back and that same old dude is now back talking to the Prototype. When I get back to my seat, he says, "See what happens when you go away? I'm chattin up your lady." With a cackle, he was off. Gotta love the crazed Brits.

At any rate, aside from the fact that the evening was just a great, great time, I got some answers that I had been needing. I expressed that I was confused and just needed to know where I stood - knowing my status is important to me. She stated that she "loved hanging out with me" and that wants to see me regularly, but that because of her unstable situation, she just wants to take things slow. I'm totally down with that. It is not without a sense of irony that the woman I'm totally mad about wants to slow things down given my penchant to recklessly look before I leap. I don't know what the future holds, but my sense is that slowing things down is a good idea for me personally. When I like someone as much as I like this woman, I think I have a tendency to rush things, maybe we all do. But rushing things is the wrong idea because it makes you more vulnerable emotionally than a fragile (new) relationship is able to handle. To me, she's the hummingbird (a familiar theme in the sordid history of women I've dated). I have to walk a fine line because I don't want to scare her off, but I also have to express enough interest to keep her interested (ok - I think I've handled that particular task).

Finally, I stopped off at my neighbors' last night to wish them a Merry Christmas. We ended up getting into an intense political discussion which lasted almost three hours. So, I rolled to sleep at 3 AM, only to wake at 530 to call the Prototype and make sure she was awake so that she could catch her train to Paris, only to go back to sleep until 8, so that I could get up and go to work. Yes, sleep deprivation is an artform. All in all, the sleep deprivation that I'm currently enjoying was well worth it.

Thursday, December 23, 2004

No posts for a reason

I haven't posted in a couple days for the simple reason that there has been nothing to report. The Prototype and I were supposed to go out on Tuesday, but either she forgot or ditched me on purpose (she says she didn't think we had plans to go out, just talk and I'm inclined to trust her - she's always been honest with me). We are, however, meeting up for drinks after work today and I'm quite excited for that. I thought that she was being dodgy after last Saturday/Sunday and maybe she was. The last time that happened, she felt guilty (as many a loyal reader suggested) and she pulled away. Without getting into too many gory details, we talked briefly about our situation and it's as I described the other day: war between head/heart, need job, take things slow. We're going to talk more about it tonight as we were cut off the other night due to a shortage of minutes on my mobile phone.

I realize this blog has turned extremely personal. That was not my intent, although I do understand why it has occurred. At some point, this blog evolved into something bigger than a travelogue and I'm content with that. In fact, I derive a great deal of pleasure from writing these entries, even if I don't have a ton to say. But now that my travel season is nearly upon me, I'm sure I'll have more startling stories than simply emotional diatribes about my so-called love life.

That being said, as I am currently at work, I've been thinking a lot about what I want to do after this master's program is over. I don't think I have any concrete answers, but I can say, non-paying starvation style non-profit jobs are out. I've been poor too long and I'm getting poorer just being here. At this point, I want to come out of my program with five years of professional experience, a master's degree, and a drive to succeed. That should add up into a nice paying job. There are essentially two industries that interest me: politics and business. My plan over the next 10 months is to continually research companies and organizations that interest me, generate a list of places to apply upon my return, and be ready to go when I get back (wherever I end up and whenever that is).

Did I mention I'm poor? I think the words "nearly broke" are a proper fit. After my holiday travels, I'm going to have several weeks of frugal living ahead of me until I get funding and pay at the end of January. Fun. Anyway, I'm looking to move to a cheaper area with a better place. The area I've seen nice deals is near Algate East, which is the East part of The City, which is essentially where I am now. You might be more familiar with the name "Whitechapel", if only because just over a hundred years ago a man name Jack went around killing prostitutes there. That being said, it's not that dodgy these days, the flats are nice, and they're cheap because they're all refurbished "council flats" (which is essentially like public housing in this country). I'm a little nervous about the area, but I'm going to go down their on Friday afternoon and take a look around. If it looks good and things work out, I'll target the end of January for my move. If not, I'll be stuck in good ole William Temple House with the tyrannical, multi-personality overlords that rule the day.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Tonight, Tonight

Well, I didn't hear from the Prototype for almost two days. I called and left a message on Sunday and Monday. She finally called me back around 8 or so last night. We're going out tonight. I'm not entirely sure what to expect. In all likelihood she ended up feeling guilty for kissing me again and didn't know what to say to me. At least, that's my pessimistic side talking. But she also may just have needed some time to figure things out on her own - what she wants, what she's willing to risk. I don't really know. I do know, however, that if we do have the friend conversation again tonight, I'm going to make my thoughts and feelings known. I held back last time because I was shocked, quite sick, and I didn't have well thought out things to say. This time I'm ready to express myself. It should be interesting.

Our internet was out again for two days. That's pretty much a snapshot of what's wrong with this country. The internet problem here is probably something as simple as rebooting a server. But, just like everything else around here, it doesn't get done when needed, it gets done when they get around to it. Customer service is abysmal here. A friend was telling me yesterday that he witnessed an event in a store down the street. A woman asked the clerk if they had a product that she wanted at another store and the clerk responded, "How the hell should I know? Do you think I'm psychic or something?", not even blinking an eye at the computer before her or the phone on the counter. Pretty much, the only thing they do good around here is finance. Everything else is half-assed.

Yesterday I basically did chores around the house. Cleaning, laundry that sort of thing. I ran into a friend on the street last night and ended up going to a local pub for a couple pints. Eurotrash even rode the tube down to join us. It was a decent time, but my mind was elsewhere. After the pub closed, I stopped off at my neighbors house. Those two have great arguments back and forth about the oddest points. Last night's best: Rumsfeld should step down because he didn't personally sign the letters to families of soldiers that were killed in Iraq versus George Bush has the same problem. Of course, the easy solution is that they should all step down...

Sunday, December 19, 2004

Oops, I did it again AKA Blown Away

I have to be frank – this weekend was looking like a total, self-imposed dud. I’m still not over my cold, so I had planned on staying in and resting up. Friday, I did just that, playing cards with some of the guys here. Which was hilarity in itself because the game is a Spanish game, all the words are Spanish, and the Argentinean tenor cheats like a bastard. In short, good times.

Last night was supposed to be more of the same. I had planned on staying in and beating that Argentinean’s ass. Things changed about 845 when the Prototype texted me. She was at a bar with her roommate and she wanted me to come out. Now, several things went through my head: I wouldn’t be able to beat Argentinean ass, it was raining, I had yet to shower or shave, and I was feeling very homebodyish. Needless to say, I called her to hear her pitch.

Even though I was unsure of why I was going or what I was doing, there was something in her voice and the way she asked that made the decision for me. She didn’t just saying, “I found a cool bar, wanna hang out.” Instead, she said, “I want to see you. Can you come meet me here?” Who was I to argue with that?

Twenty minutes later, showered, shaved, and hair blow dried, I was out the door, umbrella in hand. All in all, it took about an hour from the time she called until I got there. And wow, did she look great. We stayed at that lounge until almost 11 at which point her roommate insisted that we go to one of her “usual” spots, which isn’t far from where they live. The Prototype and I were having a great time, so we didn’t argue.

The second place was nice in that “not posh, but fun, and the drinks are cheap” sort of way. I actually prefer that atmosphere than most others because you don’t have the cheap, classless ho on the prowl for rich eurotrash. It’s mainly regular folk who don’t want to spend an arm and a leg to have a great time. Plus they had a dance floor.

The Prototype and I danced some (the music was uncharacteristically mediocre, I was told), but mostly talked and talked and talked – as we always do. At some point, we went upstairs and found a table so that we could have more intimate conversation. Her roommate found us up there and was pissed (both the British way and the American way) because she thought we had left – which was absurd. We weren’t going to leave her. This is when things got a little…strange.

Her roommate suggested that the Prototype and I go home together. That turned into a long rant about how we’re not much fun to hang out with because all we do is talk to each other and stare into each other’s eyes. Which turned into, “I don’t understand, are you a couple or not?” Which caused me to laugh, turn to the Prototype and suggest that she should be the one to answer that particular question. (She had taken my hand at some point before her roommate showed up, so it was a pretty valid question.) Her only response was, “Wow, you really know how to ask the difficult questions.”

It was close in the end. The Prototype was on the brink of going home with me. Now, don’t imagine that we were going to go have the Freak Nasty. As Smooth Like Butta’ once told me, you know when the woman you’re with is truly special when you want to take her home and NOT have sex with her. When it’s someone like that, sex can wait. At any rate, instead of doing that, we agreed to go to a late night, illegal and dodgy nightclub down the street from where they live. The Prototype didn’t want to stop hanging out with me, but going home might have been too big a step.

The club was fun I suppose, but only because the Prototype and I made it that way for ourselves. She went to ask the DJ to play some good dance music (she knows the guy) and instead of doing that, he left the booth and told her to sort it out. Which led to her and me desperately trying to figure out how to make the damn turntables work. It was nobarrific hilarity.

She was tiring quickly, so we didn’t stay long. Her roommate did stay and who knows what happened with her. I’m sure I’ll find out when I talk to the Prototype later today. But, I found myself walking her home, her arm wrapped around mine. She asked me up to “show me the flat” which I of course agreed to. That led to two hours of conversation in which she once again grabbed my hand and held on. Finally, she obviously said “screw it” to herself and she kissed me as well.

And there’s the bottom line. Even though she has a “war going on between her head and her heart”, she just can’t stop herself when tipsy because that’s the kind of chemistry we have. She’s easily the smartest woman I’ve ever dated and that can be a kind of jinx at times. But for whatever it’s worth, this woman is crazy about me and she’s only holding herself back because she just doesn’t know what’s going to happen over the next few months, and I can see how difficult that is for her, sober or not.

My strategy going into last night was just to play it cool; let the game come to me. I wasn’t going to initiate anything because she asked me not to just a week ago. But if she makes a move, then I’m all in. This is one giant roller coaster ride that I’m a full participant in for a very simple reason: She is the Prototype. I said Blown Away at the top and I’m not kidding. Every single time I go out with her she says something that gives me an entirely new perspective.

For example, I became very disillusioned with America somewhere around November 4th. But the Prototype has rekindled a fondness and appreciation for America in me that I don’t think I ever had. Her argument, if you will, is that America is the only country in the world where someone can immigrate to, and then five years later can stand up and say “I’m an American” and be accepted for that. You could never do that in Britain, Europe, etc. It’s like Yakov said, “What a country”.

Anyway, the point is that’s just what she does. We can be dancing in a rowdy bar somewhere in Northeast London next to a bunch of people that are drunk out of their minds and looking for their next “score” and she’s telling me about her philosophy of why America is great and why she wants to go back at some point. Not only is what she has to say stunningly insightful, but it also makes a stunning point about her, and in a general way about us.

I don’t know where this is going to lead to. Some may read this and think that I’m setting myself up for a fall. And maybe I am. When I talk to her later today, she may very well act like nothing happened last night or feel guilty about what did and try to undo things. But my point is, when you meet your Prototype, you’ll take any and every risk you have to because she’s YOUR Prototype. She’s brilliant, she’s hilarious, and last night, she was absolutely gorgeous. I’ll live and die by whatever risks I have to take.

Friday, December 17, 2004

I'm Ready to Play Now

It will be a great shame if the Prototype and I don't get a chance to be together. She called me after successfully defending her thesis on Wednesday (of course getting an A) and asked if I wanted to get drinks and a bite to eat. Nothing wild, pretty tame was the idea. I was tempted to not go because I had successfully pulled off being a homebody all day, but I agreed to go for three reasons: 1. I wanted to demonstrate that I can do the friend thing, if necessary; 2. my best shot of making things happen is to keep seeing her in whatever capacity she allows and let that foul bitch Nature take its course; and 3. I just enjoy being with her to such an extent that she could have called in a blowing hell storm and I would have thrown on my scarf and jacket and trudged to her location. Plus, I was pretty happy that the first person she called after she was done, and the person she wanted to celebrate with was me and no one else. That's called progress.

At any rate, I met her up at Angel, which is near Islington, which is essentially Northeast-Central London, which, to non-Londoners, means absolutely nothing. It's not that far from where I live. We walked around a bit before settling on a Cuban Tapas place that has some pretty good food deals. Dinner was fantastic. You know you have something going when you can go to dinner with someone and there's never a lull in the conversation. Anyway, back to the point, here are two new things that I learned about her:

- She's into conspiracy theories, re: Aliens - Not only is she into them, she's fairly well read. I was amused because she started the conversation by saying, "You're going to think I'm wierd, but..." She had no idea who she was dealing with.

- Her best friend is essentially a Real World clone. Both have ADD (or variant), both have serious mental health issues, both have serious alcohol issues, both have had serious drug problems, and both are constantly striving for attention to the point that continually attempt to one-up the absurdity that is their daily lives on a daily basis. Real World and I are not that close, but having her as a friend did have value in this conversation. The Prototype goes way out of her way to take care of her friend and do what she can for her, but she's a realist and knows that at some point, people got to take care of themselves. I think that speaks to her character and her sense.

At the end of the meal, we got up to leave and walked back toward the tube. She was taking the bus in the opposite direction so there was an awkward moment where she wasn't sure if she should walk me back to the tube or not. I'm not that silly, so I let her know it was ok to go our seperate ways. Now, mind you, when we met at the tube, I didn't get a hug or anything like that. But, when we parted at the end of the night, I got a full body hug - the warm type and I almost thought she was going to go for more. This is a woman who is obviously conflicted. It's my sincerest intention to keep her stuck between a rock and a hard place. (Note: It wasn't the booze, because we didn't drink much after all.)

Yesterday, I did little at all at work. But, one of my mates there, who will now be known as the Roving Alcoholic, told me that there was a free holiday party being hosted by a company that we do business with. Who am I to argue with free spirits? We rolled out at 6 and started drinking double vodka Red Bulls by 630. Well, we started with doubles. And this is why he's the Roving Alcoholic. For the 2nd round, he orders two quadruple shots of Sambuca and two quadruple vodka Red Bulls. Things got worse from there. At some point, I called Smooth Like Butta' and he came out for a few "on the house".

I should, for the record, clarify one point. The UK shot is a good bit smaller than the US shot...normally. This particular bar, however, was pretty much giving us US sized shots. So, after 8 shots of Sambuca and 12 shots worth of Vodka, well, I was pretty much done. I'm relatively sensible, even when drinking, so I called it a night about 10. The Roving Alcoholic was having none of that. He stayed out until 5 am and was still at work, bright eyed, at 9 (and I think we all know what that means...).

Now, before anyone has a fit about that level of consumption, that is not the norm. If it hadn't been free drinks I would not have even gone. I also deployed an anti-"Keeping up with the Joneses" strategy to limit my consumption. See, the Roving Alcoholic drinks fast. So when he's out, he immediately orders two more, assuming you're out as well. There was no situation I was going to keep up with him, so when the new drinks arrived, the old one got stashed on a table somewhere. That's why I only had 12 shots of vodka instead of 16 or more.

My plan worked, although it did leave me with a bit of a headache this morning. Thankfully, I stay well stocked with modern pharmaceuticals.

A short story I excluded the other day: Big Tex and the Angry German were in rare form. I've alluded to them before, and since they're essentially permanent relics of uni pub, they'll getting enshrined today. (That's 3 new characters for the glossary.) Big Tex lives in Germany (he's Texan, but his parents live in Germany for business), so he has something in common with the Angry German. Well, they're also both dumb as nails, but that's self-evident. The Angry German, in a clear attempt to either establish himself as deeply, passionately angry or to expose to the world that he's a Neo-Nazi, shaved his head and now looks the part.

At any rate, they were playing pool, as they do each and every night of the week at uni pub and Big Tex was winning. Angry German didn't like that much and he wanted everyone to know it. He shouted obscenities, he kicked the pool table; he even threw the cue on the floor one time. Finally, having enough, he storms to the bar to get a drink. Another thing about the Angry German, he carries an IPod and the bartender lets him hook it up to the stereo. So instead of a juke box, you get an interesting mix of pop-hip hop, rock, straight up pop, and occassionally some wierd industrial German shite. On this particular occassion, one of his friends was fiddling with the IPod trying to find a song. Angry German was not happy about that. Classically acting out something his parents probably did to him on a routine basis, Angry German shouts, "If you can't pick a song, then you don't get to listen to any songs!" and grabs his IPod. The rest of the night, the jukebox played, Angry German sulked, and Big Tex walked around like a man beaming about the birth of his first child simply because he beat the Angry German. Good times.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Having a lay about

I'm in a pretty good mood today for a number of reasons.

First, my illness broke late Monday night/early Tuesday morning. I can always tell when I'm on the road to recovery because I get hungry, and I got ravenously hungry. I had been forcing myself to eat, but this time I didn't have to.

Second, I totally kicked ass on my exam and paper and now I'm done for a month. The paper was slow in coming, but things finally clicked. I do like school, but the break will be good to have.

Third, the weather turned mild; it's no longer the 7th circle of hell. Instead, it's warmish, sunnyish, and the air even smells fresh.

Last, I stayed up and watched some hoops last night, Denver vs. Philly and it was fantastic. Well, the game actually wasn't, but just watching some basketball was great. It also had the side benefit of me calling out of work "sick", which I thought was fair since I am still technically sick and I needed the rest.

That being said, I had some thoughts on the tube yesterday that I thought I'd throw out. I asked myself, what is my ideal woman? What am I looking for? This is what I came up with:

1. Cuteness - I put this first for a reason. If there is not physical attraction, there's no chance of a relationship. Been there, done that. Cuteness is a must - dark hair better than light, short hair better than long, silky/smooth hair better than tangled/thick. (Ok, I'm obsessing about the hair.) Also a must is a cute smile, because I'm a sucker for a cute smile.

2. Smarts - There are two types of smarts that I require. On the one hand, she must be smart enough to hold her own in conversation, keep me interested, etc. But on the other hand, she must be smart enough to check my ass (not like in a looter in a riot, though) when I talk out my ass. This is best found in a little sassy/sarcastic streak.

3. Easy laugh - Humorless people should be put out of their misery.

4. Dreams - For better or for worse, I'm a romantic - I like to believe in things, ideas, people, the Washington Redskins, you name it. Total realists will fail the test because I need a woman that's equally a dreamer, a grounded dreamer, but someone who has true passion about life and the path that she's on.

That being said, why am I telling the world this? It isn't like this blog serves as an internet dating service or anything. No, I'm writing this because I was listening to Outkast the other day, as I have a penchant to do, and this lyric registered in my brain:

"I hope that you're the one, if not, you are the Prototype."

And that's what the Real Deal is. So, in an effort to evolve the name game, and clear up any confusion between Real World and the Real Deal, the Real Deal will now be referred to as the Prototype.

A few final notes:

- Ten Minutes before the start of our International Political Economy exam, Real World turns to me and says, "What is the World Trade Organization?" I was speechless. We only spent 4 hours of class time on the WTO. So, needless to say, when she came out of the exam, her statement that "I aced that" did not inspire confidence.

- Yesterday in class, we were getting into a discussion about racial profiling and I made this very narrow argument that terms like that require data to support, not mere supposition. In support of my claim, a study of Montgomery county in Maryland about traffic stops. The study concluded that blacks were being ticketed more often (on a percentage basis) that whites, but that it was not profiling, it was the vast numbers of blacks that travel through the county into DC, PG county, or Virginia.

Apparently, one of my classmates, who is black and from the US, didn't like that much. Now, I don't have much respect for this particular individual because: a) she's not bright, b) she incessantly whines about how the program doesn't have any Africa classes (which she knew before hand), and c) she's adds no value to the class or any social situation. So when she said, "I disagree!" I was taken aback. What did she disagree about, I asked. Was it the study? Was it my argument that we need data before leveling those types of accusations? Fortunately, my professor intervened before I ridiculed her dumb ass. If profiling does exist (and I believe it does), then we should ardently call for data. Otherwise, what's the point?

At any rate, today is a pretty leisurely day of laundry and web surfing. I have to catch up on my sports.

Monday, December 13, 2004

Reclaiming the Mic

Yesterday's post was needlessly cynical and smacks of a desperation that is just not true to who I am. Yes, I am disappointed. But more so I am frustrated. That will not get the best of me, however, because I truly am optimistic in spirit and frankly, all I gotta do is listen to a little hip hop and right myself. In that vein, a little Aaliyah comes to mind:

"If at first you don't succeed, Then dust yourself off and try again..."

I received a good bit of feedback from around the world yesterday. Here is a smattering:

From a married couple reading this blog: “You know X and I did that at least once each to each other. Remember, X said he looked at me as a sister.....”

From Smooth Like Butta’: “She was probably having a dumbass guilty conscience, dude…take no notice of those words. They are a temporary state of mind. Persist.”

From DBR: “You know...I think the fact that she has THOUGHT about being with you is a very good sign.”

From DD: “You have to believe in yourself, you have to know that you are a good catch. Don't obsess, but don't give up.”

I posted yesterday because this forum has evolved from a simple "travelogue" into a more comprehensive narration of my life, my thoughts, and my emotions. To not post what I was thinking/feeling at that moment, would have been to stray from the path that I've established. That being said, I don't really have much more to say about this whole incident right now. In fact, I think I've already made more out of it than I should.

And just in case anyone thinks my confidence is shaken, it isn't. Maybe for one day, one moment. But I know who I am, I know where I'm going, and I know what I want. To expect that there wouldn't be difficulties along the way is to wander through life with rose colored glasses. I'm too much of a realist to fail to see that.

Mostly, I'm just exhausted and still sick (and I blame the Real Deal for that, thank you very much). I probably slept about half the day away yesterday and this morning too. Consequently, I didn't really study much for my IPE final, not that I could concentrate much. This illness is sapping my energy like nothing else. Bizarrely, my only real symptoms are that of a cold. I took some good drugs though, and that at least helped. At any rate, I still aced the final. Now all I have left is to finish this damnable paper and then I can really rest.

Real World does have blue hair and I do have a picture, but it's not what I expected. Instead, it's more black/brown with a blue tinge. It came out great on the pic though, so I'll get that up when I get a chance.

The weather has turned cold as the darkest pits of the 7th circle of Hell, reminding me once again how much I hate cold weather. Instead of going outside, I'd rather cozy up in front of a roaring fire and stay warm. Sadly, I have no fireplace, I have no fire, and I do have to go out into the world even if it is cold. Fortunately, I have a warm coat, a nice scarf, and a decent pair of gloves to go with fast moving feet.

Sunday, December 12, 2004

Questions with no answers

As I alluded to in the earlier post, today was not a good day. I woke up with a sore throat, I was told by the woman I am crazy about that she can’t risk a relationship with me, I have an exam on Monday that I’m not ready for and a paper due on Tuesday that I’m not finished with.

Once again, I find myself in situations that I can’t control. It’s a typical story of my life, and if it wasn’t so typical, I wouldn’t be the ordinary person that I am. Sure, I like to think that I’m exceptional. I like to think I’m special. We all do. But when it comes down to it, there’s absolutely nothing special or exceptional about my story. Instead, my life is defined by an overwhelming sense of what is ordinary, what is the norm.

I was in love once. True, never ending love. Or so I thought. Because it did end, not because I wanted it too, but because sometimes things just quit for no apparent reason at all. I spent long months grappling with that failure only come to the realization that there is nothing special or unique in that story. It just died a sad death and there was nothing I could have done to stop it. No, that fell apart for reasons that are petty and not my own. Perhaps that explains the overriding sense of helplessness that makes me reluctant to ever put myself at risk like that again. Because even when you love someone terribly, they can still walk away at the drop of a dime.

I only relate this because my life is not defined by the women I’ve loved, instead, it’s defined by the women I haven’t loved. Some people seem to have no problem finding happy and healthy relationships. That’s not me. I have anything but an easy time in that regard. In fact, if there’s one simple rule that defines my life, a truism if you will, it’s this: When one thing is going good, everything else falls to pieces. For example, when I moved to DC, I went with the intention of finding a career, something that was right for me. I didn’t find that, not in four years. Instead, I found love, and even that, in the end, wasn’t enough. Since that time, my professional life has improved because of my decision to pursue higher education. But my love life has remained a constant failure on every measure. Today is just another spin of the wheel. At the same time I get crudely thrown on the “friend train”, I get the top grade on my last paper.

That’s why I’m not surprised at this latest turn of events. In fact, I expected it. It’s a simple formula for me: Meet a great woman, pursue her, she walks. Nothing has ever been so easier to see. Either I get the “friend” thing early on or she looks at the long term future and says “I can’t take the risk, let’s be friends.” It’s the sad reality of the situation, like a friend of mine said once, “Steve, face it, you have terrible luck with women.”

If I’ve noticed one growing divergence between myself and the women I meet and pursue it’s that I’m always the one who is willing to take the risks. Given my history, that makes no sense. I should be the one reluctant to engage in something serious. But I never am. This latest episode is just a snapshot of how my strategy, no matter what that is, always fails. I told myself not to invest too much, trust my instincts, and see where things lead. So, when you have a date with someone that leads to small intimacy like hand holding and smooching, you think that it’s worked out. Nope, not at all. That’s, in fact, the very moment that you are certain that it’s over. There is no promised land. There is no future. Maybe that’s why I’m always willing to take the risks, because at some point I just know that all the risks in the world won’t add up to anything because there’s never a future to have in the first place.

That’s a wildly pessimistic view, but really, can you blame me? I’ve lived, I’ve loved so the song goes. At 29, single and freshly with no prospects on the horizon, my life is a revolving door of hopes and crushing losses (much like my beloved Redskins). Just when I meet a woman fantastically suited to me (probably the most compatible of any I’ve ever met), just when I think that my long winter is almost over, she turns around and gives me the brush off. It’s not crushing because I thought I had already fallen in love with her, it’s crushing because once again, hope had managed to fill me up only to be rudely and brusquely slapped down. This is why I should not believe as I do that there is hope for us all. Because just when you think you’ve found a little, subtle reminders of the one truth are thrown out in favor of cold, bruising reality of the situation.

Maybe this is why Smooth Like Butta’ is such an animal or predator. He’s already learned that looking for anything deeper than easy sex is a recipe for disappointment and heart ache. Instead, he insulates himself in shallow ventures because he never has to put himself on the line – “It’s not personal”. And maybe that’s why this stings a little more than it should, because it IS personal. She did get to know me. She did go out with me. And she still decided she couldn't take the risk. If I was truly the catch of the century (or whatever), then wouldn’t things work out in my favor?

I have to be 100% honest here. On the 8th of November, I predicted this would happen. In my private journal I wrote (edited for length and repetition):

“I shouldn’t have doubts. I should just trust in the feeling I had when I met her. If my gut is telling me 100% that we connected and that she likes me just as much as I like her, then that should be sufficient. But for some reason, it’s not. I think there are several factors in play:

My History – Generally I have terrible luck with women.
Alcohol – Whenever alcohol is in play, that can change a few things. When people are drunk, they are more willing to do things than when sober. It can change things.
Confidence – I just don’t have a lot of it. Sure, I can act with the best of them. I can put off this air of confidence, but it breaks down in private. I just like to know where I stand. All I ever wanted was a woman to love me, but that’s always been hard for me. Even the one truly great relationship I had wasn’t a boon for my confidence after awhile. Of course, that’s more to do with how she ended it.

I don’t think women understand that there are lots of blokes like me: handsome, smart, funny, optimistic – ready to be scooped up and signed to long term contracts. Sure, you hear a lot about guys not being able to commit, and it’s certainly true for some guys, but there are tons of men ready to commit to the right woman. Finding her is a different story.

I’m tired of being a free agent. It’s been almost a year and a half since things went South in DC and I’m chomping at the bit to find someone special. It’s not the kind of desire I had a year ago where I missed that person and was desperate for any connection. It’s more mature. Instead, it’s the stark realization that not only do I have a lot to offer, but also someone out there has a lot to offer me. I don’t know if the latest woman is her or not, but I’ll never lose faith that there is a woman out there that can simply ‘make me a better man.’ You can only grow so much on your own. I’m ready to step forward and leave the past in the past.”

Or so I thought. Instead, I allowed myself to be deceived by False Hope. And because I’m into nicknames, I'm strongly considering renaming the Real Deal as False Hope. But I'll hold off a bit, if only because False Hope or not, she's still the Real Deal.

Where does this leave me? I don’t know. When one thing is going great (school), everything else falls apart. Not only is my heart not really into studying, I’m not feeling very well and I just can’t seem to concentrate enough to really study.

Of course, that’s the microcosm. On the macro level, I truly don’t know. I feel like I should just give up, stop trying. I’m truly fatigued from putting myself on the line, putting my heart and ego on the line, only to experience failure after failure. Someone told me once that great things happen when you least expect it, when you’re not looking for it. That’s been true before, but I thought that was the situation this time as well. In fact, I pretty much had given up before meeting the Real Deal. So I don’t know how much more I can give up. I’m tired of the game. I’m tired of flirting. I’m tired off all that bullshit.

At the same time, I refuse to put my love life (such as it is) on hold while I’m abroad or while my life is unsettled. To do that would be to potentially miss out on a great situation (something I like to think that the Real Deal is doing). So here I am again, once more filled with the Yin-Yang of Pessimism-Optimism. My outlook is generally bleak, but I still have a smidgeon of Pandora’s hope somewhere. As little sense as that makes.

On a final note, I don't think there's anything unreasonable about her point of view. In fact, it makes complete sense logically. But at some point, life is always about taking chances and I think I've learned that the hard way. Maybe she hasn't. I don't know.


I don't even know where to start. Friday night was incredible. I met the Real Deal at Covent Garden. We went for drinks and then that turned into a desire for food. After some walking, we found a nice, romantic french restaurant. Of course, they were booked solid, so the maitre d' told us to go to the pub across the street, have a drink and he would come get us when our table is ready. Very agreeable indeed.

So we went to the pub, had a drink, and soon enough our table was ready. They led us to a back corner in the basement, very intimate, very private. Dinner stretched on forever, although neither one of us realized it. Finally, they told us that they needed us to leave because they wanted our table for someone else! Next up: clubbing at The End.

The Real Deal is very much into House music and she knew about this club in the area. So, after unsuccessfully trying to find it, we stopped into a posh pub and had a drink. The bartender knew where to go, so he gave us good directions. Eventually we made it to the club, but it wasn't that stellar. The music was something you might find in a rave - in other words, you needed to be on some kind of speed to really get into it.

So, we went next door to another club and the music was much better. We danced and just had fun (too much fun) until about 4 or so in the morning. Finally we left and I took her to her bus. It took me a long time to get home, but I eventually stumbled in at five.

Yesterday was a totally wasted day, but one thing did happen that worked out in my favor. The Real Deal had given me her mobile to hold and I never gave it back to her. It was unintentional, but it just means that I get to see her today instead of having to wait a week. I was pretty pleased about that.

Real World called me yesterday to get the scoop (she's rooting for me/us) which I thought was nice. However, she told me that she now has blue hair. Can't wait to see that. I'm carrying my digital camera with me everywhere I go these days. As soon as I manage to snap a pic of her, it will go up.

Today has worked out for the worst possible scenario. The Real Deal told me that she's not ready for a "relationship" and won't be until she knows where she's going and what she's doing with her life. I'm disappointed and confused right now. So we agreed to be friends, but I really don't know if there is a possibility for more down the road. I'll discuss this more in length when I have more time.

Thursday, December 09, 2004

I'm about as good at managing time as a crack head with a dime bag

I had intended to do some serious work last night, but instead, I was sucked into two monster games of chess. I was quite pleased with my play because the guy I play against here is quite decent (I don't say excellent because he's probably about where I was 10 years ago - better than most, but not in the echelon of elite). The first game was a clear and utter domination on my part. It resembled Germany's acquisition of the Sudenland. Very satisfying. The second game, though, should have also been a clear win for me except that it got exceedingly complicated and at some point fatigue (nobbery) set in and I made a series of embarrassingly bad moves and still barely lost. It was much like Hitler's march to Moscow - one giant blunder. I'm sure we'll have more rematches. They're quite enjoyable.

Ok, now that I've clearly established myself as a total dork (Head Nob), I'll continue with the rest of the story. [By the way, the Real Deal, in a further attempt to establish her Real Dealness, thinks that it's very cool that I play chess.] Anyway, I went over to my neighbors and gave them the articles I printed out about the Irish peace process and proceeded to get in a very heated argument about the whole thing. Well, I was more partial observer, sometimes participant, than anything, but they really got into it. By the time everything settled down, it was almost 3 am, which me, not wearing a watch, didn't realize. I did know it was time to go to sleep, so I went to bed. Getting up at 8 was painful and I spent most of the day feeling totally cracked out, which isn't altogther painful (unless you're hungover, which I was not).

Work was a total waste of time, or would have been, except that I took a 2 hour lunch, worked for 2 hours, and spent 4 hours working on my paper. Tommorrow is a half-day which I'm quite excited about because I have lots of things to do in the afternoon (mundane sort of stuff that I will fascinate you all with in my next post). And of course, I'm looking forward to tomorrow night.

Tonight, when I was making dinner, I ended up saying a lot of inappropriate things. Well, not inappropriate, but I sort of cultivated this image of myself here at the house as being the good conservative type that wasn't likely to start brawls about silly things. But, that just hasn't been working for me and frankly, when you say annoying sh*t that smart people shouldn't say, well, I like to call you out.

SO, due to my cracked outness and my general sense that I want to call BS, I was forced to pimp smack a ho when she suggested that the London water was not of high enough quality to drink and that we should all drink bottled water. Now, mind you, this is a biology student who has just finished either her MA or PhD (never remember). I had heard her say that before (and expressed skepticism) and because I used to do that type of work and I was curious, I checked it out. As suspected, it's total BS manufactured from the bottled water industry (at least that's my theory). I told her as much. I don't think she liked it much, but, as I heard in a movie once, "that sting that you feel right now, that's your ego taking a hit."

This story, of course, is only being related by the likes of me because it's a snapshot of something I've detected about these Euros (not the Brits though). A lot of really smart people are easily persuaded by incredibly niave shite, but unlike 50% of America, they go to the left. The Brits that I know share my distain (or skepticism) for that kind of tripe. Take The Missing Link, for example. Pretty much every time she opens her mouth, barrels full of assininity spew forth (and yes, I spelled asininity wrong on purpose). This morning at breakfast she detailed her great love for spiders and how she missed them, which, me being the 5 hours of sleep and up at 8 am sort, found imminently stupid. I mean, she would probably shed a tear if she saw me kill a spider. Which of course leaves me on the lookout for spiders when she's around, because I have a theory that needs testing.

ANYWAY, the point is, it's not that I'm a complete a**hole (only partial), it's that everyone has their limit and I think I've reached mine. The folks back at GDC know what I'm talking about here.

Final thought: I think the Irish accent is actually more appealing than the British one. It has a certain cadence that the Brits don't have. Of course, there are lots of different Brit accents, so once again, I have no point.

I'm off to douse my head in the Thames. Be sure to check out:

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Five Minutes of Foolishness

Those who follow the blog closely may have noticed that there had been nary a mention of the Real Deal in quite some time. I confess, I was a bit concerned because I left her a message and sent her a text and did not receive any response. Of course, I'm the confident sort, so I trusted my instincts that she was incommunicado while finishing her thesis. My confidence paid off. She called me tonight (after turning in her thesis) and apologized. We talked for a bit and then she asked me out for Friday. Now I'm in a great mood all of a sudden. Funny how that happens. There are two lessons here: 1. Always trust your instincts. And, 2. Always trust your instincts. (It needed stating twice.)

I was so tired when I posted the other day that I left out all the jokes. And now I've forgotten them. D'oh.

I must relate this tale about Real World. The whole methods class made an agreement with the professor that instead of a final exam we would do another paper (which made a lot of sense - the whole idea of the class is to teach you how to write a 'case study', an exam doesn't really help, but having to write two of them does). BUT, that deal was contingent on everyone showing up for the last class. If you don't show, you lose a whole letter grade. So (of course) Real World, knowing this, makes a reservation to go back to the US for Tuesday morning - BEFORE class. I told her at the time that she needed to go to him and just confess and deal with it, maybe do extra work. Instead, she did nothing. Then, she gets in a huge fight with him over her first paper and avoids him for two weeks (skips class and then sleeps in the next class).

So, yesterday, at the end of class, when everyone is still there, she just blurts out "I won't be at class next week." Big fight. We all leave. It's getting embarassing. At the same time, she gave me her paper to read for feedback...and...drum roll...she didn't have anything in it that she was supposed to. I mean, seriously, that was a failing paper. Anyway, she ended up deploying her "I have mental illness/depression" to the Prof, who being the nice guy he is, worked a deal so that she won't get docked a grade at the end of the term (something she can't afford). And this is the whole point: She's smart enough to be able to manipulate people and it's disgusting. To deploy a "disability" like that to garner sympathy so that you can basically do what you want to do (save $75) is so disrespectful. In fact, I don't know if I've every met anyone as disrespectful as this particular individual, cloaked in an attitude of respect that is (I mean, Tu Pac would have to go down as more disrespectful - but he wasn't trying act like he respected you.)

This is a clear weakness of the program. Ultimately, their standards aren't that high and that worked out for me because I couldn't pass muster with my undergrad record at more highly respected institutions. While they can let a guy like me in, someone who didn't work at all in undergrad and had very mediocre grades, and it turns out to be a good decision because I work hard, etc., there's also a tendency to let a few rotten apples in that end up spoiling the bushel, so to speak. Real World isn't the only one. There's another one who, fortunately, is in her last class and I've never met her. She's potentially worse than Real World and her actual name is 'Britain', which is embarrassing if you ask me. At any rate, there's a pool going on right now about whether Real World comes back in January. I think it's 50-50 right now and I have to say, I'm rooting for her to stay in the States. Addition by subtraction in it's truest form.

Work wasn't too bad today. I was dreading going, but it actually turned out ok. There was zero work to do for most of the day, but I asked this woman I worked with what to do about that and she basically said "chill out and don't fret it - it happens." I still don't know how to fill out my timesheet, but I'll figure that out. The good thing to know is that I'm not an island out there. She had nothing to do as well. Plus, I got a good bit of work done on my paper. I didn't select a great topic for my IPE class, but I did select a really good one for Methods. So I'm pretty into the literature now and I am amazed. Smart people can be really obtuse sometimes. Anyway, some work came down the pipe at about 4. One of the partners I work with does a lot of proposals for new business, so I'm basically doing briefing memo's about the organizations or businesses he's pitching the firm to. It's right up my alley with my research and writing skills and it can be interesting.

One thing that I absolutely detest about this country is the "English sandwich" - a term that also means "shite" or "open ass". These particular sandwiches usually have something like mayo, cucumber, white bread, and maybe something else undefinable. Not only would they never give you enough energy for the afternoon, but that's just nasty. Also, their "crisps" (we say chips) really aren't very good. I've tried a variety of brands and they're pretty much all average. There isn't a single brand that has an exceptional chip (like Sunchips for example). NOW, why is this a problem? Simple. Unlike the glorious L Street - Connecticut - 19th street corridor, there are NO other options. Literally, there are two Asian places, tons of pubs, and shite central sandwich shops. Today, Real World and I walked for an hour trying to find something else. No deal. Somebody please get Kostas a plane ticket and ship his ass over here. I need me some of that delicious pork that he makes.

I know that I whine about food a lot in this space, but you would too if you spent 50% of your day thinking about your next meal like I do. In fact, if it wasn't for some miracle of genetics, I would be a very, very fat man. Fortunately, along with the whiteness came skinniness. (That can't be an actual word.)

Anyway, I printed out some articles on the Irish Peace Process today at work that I need to go give to my neighbor. They've been having a pretty detailed debate about it the last couple times I've been over there so I went out and educated myself about it. I now know just enough to be dangerous.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

And good day to you, sir!

Some of you may have noticed that I added a nickname "glossary" on the right panel of the blog. It was getting cumbersome, so if you ever wonder who I'm talking about, just look over there.

The other day I was eating dinner with a Spanish friend of mine here in the house. I looked down at my plate and saw healthy vegetables, a nice salad, and some chicken. I looked over at his and saw a bowlful of hotdogs, some ketchup, and two peices of white bread. Yes, the Spaniards have terrible diets. Dude ate a whole package of (eight!) hot dogs in one sitting.

I didn't do a whole lot over the weekend. Saturday I spent the evening working on my paper (the day was spent playing madden and generally procrastinating). I finished the damned paper on Sunday, which was nice I suppose. I really wasn't feeling that one though. Just had to force myself to get through it. School is almost up for the semester, so I'm pretty busy right now.

Last night after class, I hit the pub with Real World and the Truth. She's working on having her worst quarter of classes "ever" or so she says. Sometimes I wonder if her medication just works better on certain days or what. It's like talking to two different people.

At any rate, after we shut down the pub, I went home and hung out with my neighbors. They're a riot. There's this big issue in the Irish peace process right now about the IRA giving up guns as a symbol that they're done with violence. My neighbors, one being british the other irish, got into a very heated argument about it. I don't know a whole lot about the conflict, but it was pretty amusing. The british guy likes to see the world in rose colored glasses and he intentionally says things to get a rise out of people. So, for example, he'll say something like "When we english decided to let you Americans have your own little country, we was just being charitable. And look how far you've come after we brought you up."

Today I'm feeling quite tired. I have class in an hour and after that I think I'm coming home to rest up. Unfortunately, I have to go to work tomorrow. Blech.

Saturday, December 04, 2004

Of Wasted Days, Bruised Feet, and Real Worlds

Work this week was a total waste of time. I'm starting a job search. I definitely need to keep working, but this job is not helping me in any way, it's causing me stress because I don't know what I'm going to put on my timesheet for the 10 odd hours that I surfed the web (after asking many people for work and not getting anywhere), and I detest the law anyway.

On Thursday, about 5 or so, Real World calls me from the lobby of my building. I hadn't talked to her since Monday as she was "sick" and skipped class on Tuesday. (I put quotes because it was really just a passive-aggressive effort not to see our professor that gave her a B - and she admitted as much later.) Her and her friend from work (who I know and is a decent sort) cajoled me into ditching out of work early (it didn’t take much) and hitting a local pub called The Green Man. We ended up getting a bit pissed, although not extraordinarily so, well at least not on my part.

Real World, however, is a totally different story. Not only did she get pissed drunk, but she also hit on every ugly guy in the bar and fretted constantly about one bloke that she thought was “hot” who she was too afraid to talk to. Not only that, it’s very apparent that Real World is dealing with serious, chronic mental illness and that alcohol is a bad idea for her. She has told me plenty of stories (some of which may even be true – although certainly not the one about having 18 close friends that are now dead) of how she used to do all kinds of illegal narcotics, so if that’s true (which it probably is), then at least she’s making progress. Her friend and I were joking that talking to Real World is like talking to a brick wall. At any rate, I’m not overly concerned about it because it’s her responsibility to take care of herself and I’ve made my opinion very clear on that one.

Her friend, however, said something totally disturbing - so shocking that I was in a daze and the conversation moved on before I could strike her down with great vengeance. She said, "I like to eat dog. Dog's delicious." Now, this is not some starving Asian. This is a well to do British woman. I'm so appalled and disgusted by her comment I don't even know where to begin. Earlier in the day I saw this seeing eye dog, a beautiful lab/golden retriever mix (or so I imagine). Not only was he a very good working dog, but his owner was very affectionate with him and you could tell they had a companionship - i.e. man's best friend. To suggest that eating dog is a good idea, ugh, just makes me want to get midieval.

At any rate, I woke up in the middle of the night on Thursday and couldn't go back to sleep. So work was oh so much fun on Friday. Fortunately it was only a half day and I could go home and take a nap. Somewhere along the way, I bruised my foot in the most uncomfortable manner. I did this once before, last January it was. The odd thing about the bruise is that I did absolutely nothing to injure myself. I simply woke up with a very deep bone bruise. Diagnosis: these shoes are not made for walking.

Last night, I met up with Eurotrash for some drinks and then Smooth Like Butta' later at a Latin club with the rest of the Columbian Mafia. Good times. I met a bunch of very pretty Columbian girls but my heart wasn't in it. I'm pretty much exclusively focused on the Real Deal right now and if that doesn't work out, then I'll go back to prowling.

Today I'm working on my paper. It's due Monday. I've done all the research, but I haven't written a whole lot. Fortunately, it's not that long (2,000 words) and it's on a really easy topic (overpopulation). I'm going to bang it out tonight and then shift to my other paper tomorrow. That one is due in a week.

I was reading some of my early blog entries at work the other day and one thing is very apparent: I’ve been leaving out something that is a constant, so here goes.

Somewhere in the world someone is eating a burrito right now and sadly it’s not me.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Er’body gotta work, nobody gotta like it

For those of you not on top of the exchange rate, the British Pound reached a record high versus the dollar on Wednesday – it’s almost 2:1. What does that have to do with anything? Well, easy, it’s all about the exchange rate for me. Financial aid dollars suddenly got smaller and it’s almost like I just got a raise. Well, not really a raise, but any money I end up bringing back to the States will be more. This, of course, leads me to the discussion of the day: work.

Before I get into the particulars of exactly why I have vast antipathy for my job, let me narrate a short story. Yesterday, they had a lunch for the whole firm. It was planned in advance and the occasion was to have these people from a particular charity come in and talk about something that will be affecting us, at least marginally. The only thing I truly cared about was if we were going to have real sandwiches or English sandwiches. Obviously, I was disappointed. Every single one was slathered with something that looked dangerously like mayo. Shockingly, I declined to eat. I can handle a little mayo now and then (as much as I abhor the stuff), but not in those quantities.

Anyway, the charity group was there to talk about mental illness. See, what they do is, they take people who are recovering from serious mental breakdowns and place them in very part-time jobs as a stepping stone to gain confidence, build up the CV, and get a feel for work life again. This is about 4 hours a week, so we’re not talking about much here. They spent the whole session doing what they would term “demystifying mental illness”, basically explaining that it’s a disease, it’s normal (1 in 3 suffer from it apparently), etc. This was all fine and good, they did a good job presenting, and it was a decent information exchange.

That being said: HAVE THEY NOT HEARD OF PRIVACY in this country? Now the entire office knows that the new person coming in next Wednesday has a mental illness. If the whole concern is to not stigmatize this person because their confidence is already shaky, then you failed in that mission. Now, we’re all the (mostly) decent sort at the office, but it’s a natural human condition to wonder “is so and so a schizophrenic” after you’ve been told that they have a serious and difficult mental condition. Frankly, it won’t bother me either way and I’m likely to have little, if any interaction with this person. But, I found the whole thing just uncomfortable. I know if I was that person, I would not want my status so aggressively displayed for the world to see.

At any rate, the Brits are focused on education, outreach, and sensitivity over privacy. Both have value, but I’m not convinced they’re doing the right thing here. But maybe that’s just me.

Ok, now to the real point: I have deep and growing antipathy for this job for at least three reasons:

First, I’m once again located in a job where I often have to seek out work to keep myself busy. That is so obnoxious. I’m a part-time employee. I don’t really establish relationships with people because either I’m not there or they’re not there. There is also no clear chain of command about who I go to for work. Now, technically I’m someone’s assistant. So if she has work (which she increasingly does), then I get busy. But if not, I literally have no idea what I’m supposed to do. I abhor that type of thing.

Fundamentally, I feel that it SHOULD NOT be the duty of the junior employees to find work for themselves. If you hire someone, you should have very specific criteria for what they will do on a day to day basis, a regular set of tasks, etc. My experience with timekeeping jobs (law firms and consulting) is that they all work this way. I think it’s because they’re organized around hourly fees. If an attorney is taking time out of their day to manage the support staff, then they’re not billing to a client and the firm doesn’t make money. So instead of having top down control, it’s a free for all system that depends on the underlings to get work for themselves. Whatever it’s worth, that’s not my style.

Second, I don’t want to be a lawyer and I feel like I’m already one. To understand this, you must understand a nuance of the quaint British system of pre-lawyerism. See, after law school, you don’t just take a bar exam and then start practicing. Instead, you go become a Legal Assistant. That’s right; you do an “internship” for two years at which point you can get "called to the bar" or whatever they call it here. So, the work that I do is increasingly substantive in very unpleasant ways.

For example, today I spent about 6 hours doing legal research attempting to find case law to justify a Director of a corporation receiving a pre-authorized indemnity against violating his fiduciary duty. In other words, dude wants to take actions that are contrary to the interests of the company and wants legal protection so that he doesn’t get personally sued if things go awry. (Yes, I can do this whole legal thing, but I could also drive a 6 inch screw into my frontal lobe as well.) This is not a complex issue. There are very few passages of the legal code (Companies Act 1985) that apply, there is limited guidance, and there aren’t many cases that could be applied. Of course, this didn’t stop the normally competent woman I “assist” from misreading the law (she’s had law school) and from insisting that I keep looking for hours after it was clear that, no, you don’t get indemnity. On this issue, the code is fairly explicit.

Third, I stare at a computer screen for 8 hours a day. It’s good to know that I don’t enjoy that (although I think I already learned that lesson), but it doesn’t change the fact that my job is basically my ass in my seat with my eyes glued to a 17” flat screen. If I was doing work that I was interested in, maybe I wouldn’t notice it much. But, when you’re already bored silly, things like that growing ache deep behind your eyes are always apparent.

At any rate, I’m not exactly sure what I’m going to do about this issue. I definitely need to work (I literally would not be able to continue living here without some type of employment), but I would much prefer doing something that is going to aid my career (whatever that is). SO, I think I’ll stick it out as long as I can here (at least until the end of January – I gave my promise to do that) all the while looking for another, more suitable situation. Of course, if they suddenly gave me a £2-4 an hour raise, that might change the calculus…

The other part of the day’s absurdity was that I FINALLY got the 2nd pair of glasses that I ordered (the free pair). They’re a fine pair with two caveats: It should not have taken a month for me to get them AND they were supposed to be BLACK frames, not silver. I’m past the point of caring on that one, though. I mean, the place is called Optical Express. But the only thing that is express is your ride to angerville. While I was waiting, a middle aged British woman was complaining to the guy. She said this (and I quote): “It’s taken longer to fix the damn things than it did to make them!” I guess I’m not the only one.

Last note before this post becomes so long everyone stops reading (too late!). Because I was not eating those “sandwiches” (I thing they were really “ass-wiches”), I was forced to go find something to eat. No problem there. The area I work in has a number of cheap places to eat, none of which are very good. (Par for the course.) But, the Japanese place I wanted to eat at was out of food. Yes, you heard that right. So, I had to settle for a place called Fuse Box (clever). I ate there once before and the food isn’t bad and for £3.50 the price is right. HOWEVER, if you’re trying to attract customers, you should try your hardest to keep the place from smelling like wet dog. Of course, my desperation level was so high, I got my food there anyway (take-away of course!), but still. This is an eat place that’s been trying to increase sales – promotions, ads, etc. Perhaps they ought to think about making food that actually smells nice instead of handing out fliers.

Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe it's just ass-tastic.

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