The Grand Experiment: Part 1

                I’ve written quite a few blogs in my life.  I’ve only ever done research for a handful of them.  And even then, the research only lasted a few hours each time.  I’ve never written a blog that required a long period of research or experimentation… That being said, I’m about to do something I haven’t done before, and I’d like to document it in a blog.  So this post is my “before” post.  And part two will be written after this little experiment concludes, in a month or two…

                Dating as a Millennial isn’t the same as it was for previous generations.  It has become a multi-billion dollar industry.  Online dating sites, matchmaking services, and most of all, dating apps, have led to this massive money monster.  But what is that doing to the actual process of dating?

                All of these sites and apps are advertised as if they make dating easy.  The love of your life is simply a click away!  And maybe it works for some people… and maybe I’m old fashioned with this idea of mine that dating isn’t supposed to be easy.  It’s the process of building relationships with other people and watching them crumble one by one until you find the one that won’t.  

                Dating is ugly, it’s painful, humiliating, heart-wrenching, scary, and difficult.  But it’s also beautiful, fun, exhilarating, hilarious, fulfilling, and rewarding.  The one thing that dating absolutely isn’t?  Easy.

                It can’t be easy, not really.  If it’s easy, then you aren’t emotionally invested, and that person means nothing to you, which isn’t a great way to build a relationship.  And that’s my problem with the dating industry that our generation has built into such a massive economic powerhouse…

                We don’t build relationships, instead we text because if we say what we want to say over the phone, our voices may crack, and there will be less room for interpretation of what we mean.  If we actually meet someone face to face for a difficult conversation?  Then we may have to see their face, or even worse, they’ll see ours. 

Our emotions show on our face, and showing our emotions is how we get to know each other.  If we let this person know what we’re feeling, we may become vulnerable.  And if we’re vulnerable, we get hurt.  So instead we wrap ourselves in the emotional bubble wrap that the dating industry provides through technology and anonymity. 

There’s a glaring problem with that though… that vulnerability that we’re protecting ourselves from?  It’s the only way to build connections that truly matter.  A friendship or relationship without that vulnerability and without emotions, is empty.  It may be fun to spend time with that person for a while, but they’ll never truly matter in your life, nor you in theirs.

At least, that’s my current point of view on dating as a Millennial.  That being said… I’ve only very briefly used one dating site before I cancelled my subscription.  And I’ve never used a single dating app.  So I feel like I can’t justify this hatred for them unless I actually give them a try, and a fair one at that.

Admittedly, giving them a fair try won’t be easy, I’m clearly biased on the subject.  Still, I’m going to do my best to withhold judgement… for at least a month and a half.

I’ve decided that I will download three different dating apps (now that I have a smartphone, which will be the topic of my next blog).  And I will give them all at least a month and a half, maybe two months before I write the second part of this blog, which will be my findings.  Did I absolutely hate the entire process?  Or did I at least have some fun? 

Having a bit of fun is, I’m fairly certain, the best I can hope for from this adventure.  I’ll believe their advertising about true love being one simple click away when Emma Watson’s dating profile shows up on my phone… Still, I’ll try to keep an open mind… stranger things have happened I suppose.

Anyway, the three I’m going to download are (drumroll please…)

Tinder:  This one is obvious.  It’s the king of the dating apps, and it has played a significant role in shaping the dating industry and the habits of my entire generation.  Its logo is a small flame, which I’m sure is in reference to the fact that Tinder has turned the world of dating into a dumpster fire.  Still, what’s the worst that can happen?  It is built entirely to protect us from ever having to get hurt by someone after all… 

Match:  I should mention, I’m only downloading the free app, not getting a paid subscription to Match.com.  I’m not committed enough to this experiment to spend money on a subscription.  And if you’re wondering why use Match at all then… it’s because Match.com has ruled the online dating market with an iron fist for years, now that they’re getting into the app market?  Well, maybe they know what they’re doing, or maybe they don’t.

Bumble:  As I understand it, this is basically Tinder, except that it’s more popular in 2016 because it’s newer and things move pretty fast around here… Also, when two people are looking to become a match on Bumble (at least for hetero couples, sorry everyone else, for you it really is just Tinder), the girl must make the first move.  This caught my eye, because I’ve always been attracted to confident women, so it will be interesting to see what it’s like to flip the script.

All right… I don’t want to rant anymore about the degradation of the dating pool, not yet anyway.  So let’s get this ridiculous experiment started… And ladies, if you are on any of these apps, I’d like to just apologize in advance.  Chances are that I’m going to make an ass of myself, probably frequently.


A Quick Update 2

                Just over three months into the year, I wrote a post to give all of you A QUICK UPDATE on my life this year.  I’ve been getting a lot of people asking for further updates.  So, I figure now that we’re another quarter into the year, perhaps it’s time for a second one. 

                When we left off, three months ago, I was in the hunt for a new place.  Let me tell you, the search was NOT an easy one… The housing/rental market in Reno is pure insanity at the moment.  I made appointments to go see places the day they went on the market, but by the time I arrived for my appointment (two and a half hours later), the houses were each already rented out. 

                I went to open houses so full of people that I had to stand shoulder to shoulder with strangers.  I’ve never been to a Justin Bieber concert, but I imagine that it would be a similar experience… A bunch of people crammed together, each slightly embarrassed to show their eagerness to get to the front, but not so embarrassed as to not throw an occasional elbow.

                Lucky for me, I did eventually find a place.  I really had to sell myself to the landlords when I met them.  They were looking for a long term tenant, who would be willing to take care of minor repairs on the house on their own.  I pulled out all the stops, laid it on thick, and it certainly helped that I had a great credit score… Eventually I got the house, and the landlord informed me that I beat out 107 other applicants!  The house had only been posted for a week.

                Anyway, I got the place, then the move was the next stage.  I hate moving… I don’t mind helping other people move… but my own stuff?  Terrible.

                I barely did any packing, and very little prepping.  So when moving day finally came, I was very lucky to have some amazing friends who essentially did everything for me.  Couldn’t/Wouldn’t have done it without each of you!  Also, I realized that I have way too much crap…  So there’s still a couple couches and a foosball table in my garage if anyone wants them… As well as some other random stuff.
                The new house… I’m still getting used to it.  There’s certain aspects of it that I really like, and other aspects that I really don’t.  The biggest advantage though is that it is right next to a nice park.  I realized that this was a big advantage weeks ago… and now that Pokémon Go is out, I cannot stress enough how amazing it is to have a park that close to my house.  I’m loving it… 

                On to the next update topic… The new job!  Last update I had recently given my two weeks’ notice at my job of seven years, and would be starting a new one soon.  Well the new one has begun, and it’s been wonderful.  I got an amazing new office, some great co-workers, and plenty of diverse work that keeps me engaged and interested.

                At my old job, it became a daily grind.  Corporate wasn’t open to new ideas, so it was simply a matter of doing the same thing, over and over, day in and day out.  I ended up getting so bored with that job that I would play games with myself, like seeing how long I could work with my eyes just slightly crossed before getting a headache.  Or attempting to type out entire emails only to the beat of whichever song was currently stuck in my head. 

                Thankfully, the new job keeps me busy, very busy, and with so much more than just a daily grind.  I’m getting to do new and different things all the time!  It’s pretty great.  And at my last job, I had to wait five years before I got the chance to travel for work at all.  Here, it’s only been a few months and I’ve already got travel arrangements.

                That brings us to the third topic from my last update… my dating life.  Last time I mentioned that I had just been on a couple dates with a girl, and she gave my butterflies in my stomach, and I thought she was special… I was clearly smitten.

Well, it lasted for a little while.  In fact, we had the makings for a fantastic rom com script.  But then real life happened, and soon after everything went to shit.  At first I behaved like a puppy that had just had a shoe thrown at its head and didn’t know why.  So I (figuratively and literally) cowered in the corner for a while, hanging my head in shame. 

Then I tried reaching out (don’t drink and text kids, it’s stupid…) and didn’t get the answer I wanted.  So once again I behaved like a puppy.  This time I acted out, (only figuratively…) knocking over the trash can and peeing on the contents.  My behavior was dumb, and I immediately regretted it.  All I did was add to my already massive pile of embarrassment. 

When it all started, I promised myself that I wasn’t going to go head over heels immediately, like I always do.  But then things happened, and my promises went right out the window.  So I went head over heels, and landed face first on the pavement.

After my childish behavior, I hoped to keep things amicable, so that we could at least remain on speaking terms; but apparently it’s too little too late.  Now that I look back on everything, there were warning signs early on that I, of course, ignored.  I would say that I’ve learned my lesson, and that next time I’ll pay attention to those signs before I get burned.  But let’s face it… I won’t.

It’s very rare that I meet someone I genuinely like in that way, so when it happens, I fall hard and I fall fast.  I am Ted Mosby.  I wear my heart on my sleeve, and I occasionally act like a child.  That’s just me… deal with it… or don’t.  Needless to say, the butterflies are gone, though I still think she's special and I wish her the best.

In other news, I haven’t been sleeping well again, for about the last two months… Not being able to fall asleep, then waking up again and again once I do finally get there.  Sometimes I hate my brain and I wish I could read it my favorite bed time story… (GO THE FUCK TO SLEEP)

And as a final note, to wrap this update up, let’s talk about Pokémon Go.  It’s so incredibly addicting.  Yes, for those of you who are disgusted by this fad, I play it, and I’m quite proud of that fact.  It’s a throwback to one of my favorite things from childhood, and frankly it makes for a fun escape from an otherwise stressful life. 

So if you want to judge me for playing it, go right ahead, I don’t care.  It’s fun… You do still remember what “fun” is, right?  It may be childish, but I feel it’s important not to ever let go of the kid inside us. 

When we were kids we all saw the world through lenses of wonder and magic, and it was that world that made us dream big.  We weren’t dreaming of being mid-level management at an accounting firm, or fantasizing about getting a reserved parking spot at the office… We wanted to be heroes, we wanted to be marine biologists (even though we had no idea what that really meant), and we wanted to have fun every day of our lives. 

For me at least, Pokémon Go taps into that.  To see those characters that I loved, come to life in the real world… to see so many people my own age, running around parks with the same goofy grin on their faces… and most of all, to remember, even if only for a moment, what it was like to dream big… Those are the things that are making this game so addicting for me.

That, and my gym loyalty… Go Team Yellow!

As one last note, I’ve never wanted to download a dating app of any kind.  I feel like they are a huge contributing factor to the degradation of romance in my generation (that’s a topic for a future blog).  They’re terrible.  However, I have met and seen plenty of very attractive women playing Pokémon Go now.  And I have a built in ice breaker… I’m somewhat considering using this game as a dating app.  Besides, then I know we have something in common already, and that she is still in touch with her inner child, which is nice.

Who knows?  It could work… unless she’s on Team Red.... that's unforgivable. 


An Introduction to Mallowing...

                This blog is rated PG-13 due to mild cartoon violence.

                Today I want to talk to you about stress relief.  We’ve all had those days, weeks, or months where no matter what we do, nothing seems to go right… Maybe it’s because of work, maybe you’re in the middle of a move, perhaps money is tight, you’ve got family problems, or you’re planning a wedding.  For my part, I’ve had a stressful couple of months.  A new job, a move that ended up being more difficult than I expected, and in the last couple of weeks, a tendency to put my foot in my mouth so often I’ve started to see Nike swooshes on everything I eat. 

                Whatever the case, sometimes you need to just take the edge off…

Now, since the stress has set in, I’ve tried all kinds of different methods of stress relief… I’ve drank far too much, I’ve begun exercising again (I walked at least 5 miles every day last week).  I’ve been re-reading one of my favorite books, and you may have noticed that I’ve been writing more, a lot more.  However, through all of that, I hadn’t partaken in the greatest stress relief method of all time, not yet, not until just the other day…

I introduce you to!.... Mallowing!!

The name derives from a cat that was at the SPCA for quite a while when I worked there.  His name was Marshmallow and he was awesome.  Why we named it after him?  Who knows?

Let me give you a little tutorial, with pictures!

A table or some other sort of stand, in a wide open space.

Plenty of water bottles, filled as full as you can possibly get them, so there is no air in them (or at least only a tiny amount). 

A Sharpie.

A baseball bat, or something similar (the fabled Mallower itself is the haft of an old pickaxe, without the head).


Step one:
Use the Sharpie to draw little angry or sad faces on the lids of the bottles.
This is done so that you can focus on that little bit of unhappiness. 

Step two:
Pick one bottle at a time, set it up, away from the others, in prime hitting real-estate.

Step three:
Wind up… I don’t necessarily mean just winding up physically, though that’s somewhat important too.  What I mean is to wind up mentally and emotionally. 

Whatever it is that is bothering you, eating away at you, depressing you, or stressing you out; focus all of that negative energy on that little unhappy face.  Take all of the things weighing on your mind and picture yourself pouring them in to that little, unhappy bottle.  All of your fear, your anger, your shame, it IS the water in that bottle, and if you don’t get rid of it, it’ll just find its way back into your mind.

Step 4:
Swing baby swing!  Keep your eye on the bottle, so you don’t miss.  But swing with all of your emotion behind it.  Hit that bottle as hard as you can and send it flying!

Since you filled it up so full, there is very little room (air) for the water to expand into.  Therefore, the bottle has a tendency to break… but that’s putting it mildly.  If you’re really putting all of your emotion into that swing, then that bottle will explode.  Case in point…

(Those two pictures were of the same bottle)

Sometimes the bottle will break open, and other times that little unhappy face will break in two…

Step 5:
Repeat until you either feel better, or you have run out of bottles.

Some of you may have already realized that this is a beginner’s course.  Mallowing lends itself to all kinds of possibilities!  Have a melon that is just going to waste in the fridge?  Want to see what happens when you shake up a Red Bull and hit it real hard?  Or a Coke with Mentos in it?  Feel free to experiment…

That being said, if you want some more assistance in simply picturing all of your negative energy in the bottle, try adding a drop or two of food coloring, or writing a phrase that has been particularly irksome to you on the bottle.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the world of Mallowing.  Enjoy!