Monday, May 18, 2009

Cautiously Optimistic

I'm almost afraid to say it aloud (or in print) for fear that the Fates will hear me and snatch it all away, but I actually feel happy right now. Can it be that my meds are working? Is all the effort of positive lifestyle change finally paying off? Can it be that life might just return to normal after years of psychochemical chaos?

Time will tell... but for now, the Lithium-Wellbutrin cocktail is definitely doing the trick. And the exercise and the revised but still shockingly healthy diet are helping. The wearing of smaller pants, putting on shirts in which I had despaired of ever looking like anything other than a Macy's Thanksgiving Parade balloon... and having cheekbones, and beautiful hands again, I have a feeling all of these are improving my mood.

Oh, hey, take a look at some fresh photos where you can see my cheekbones and my nearly-vertical silhouette:

That last picture is my favorite... I've entitled it Alas, poor Artichoke! I knew him well, Horatio. And the second one is what I look like to myself, the face I see in the mirror but have never seen in a photograph before. It is a very exciting photo set. Caroline was the photographer, by the way...the last pic was actually taken first, in the Whole Foods produce department, the others were taken in my backyard just before's all about the best lighting.

I had a motive in having those pictures taken... something that has come up (pardon the pun) since I've started on this new cocktail is a sudden resurgence of interest in having a boyfriend. I don't know what I would do with one, I just suddenly wanted one; and so in a fit of curiosity and romantic hopefulness, I actually signed up for a dating site. A paid dating site, even (, in case you're interested in joining me).

The first challenge was the creation of a really good profile essay. The online guides always stress selling yourself, pointing out your good qualities and demonstrating what a great catch you are. Unfortunately, I couldn't sell blankets to Eskimos, I don't really know what my good qualities are, and I don't actually believe I'm much of a catch. I mean, I know I'm a good person, I can be a lot of fun in the right circumstances, and I'm certainly presentable... I can knot a tie and tell my forks apart and everything. But I haven't ever really had a boyfriend, not in adulthood anyway (and I count "adulthood" as starting at twenty-seven), so I have no idea what qualities I could bring to such a relationship.

The first draft of my profile essay was, to my eyes, a masterpiece of charmingly self-deprecating explication. My theme was Contradictions, and I played on that theme beautifully, three paragraphs of mismatched characteristics and false appearances arranged with Aristotelian precision. I also wanted a person to approach me with no illusions that might later be problematic, so I then presented a half-dozen potential-turn-off facts about me that I read as "refreshing honesty" but others would likely read as "good reasons why nobody in his right mind should date this freak."

The response from my fellow hopefuls was a Thundering Silence. I got a couple of "winks," but all from people on the other side of the country (which baffles me), and no direct emails. During my own searches, I found a guy whose profile I absolutely loved, who referenced some favorite films and had a good gag in each paragraph, who was fairly easy on the eyes, and I thought from his comments that he might like me... so after a whole day of working up the nerve, I wrote to him; the next day he replied with a very courteous "Thanks, but no thanks" that left me reeling for another whole day (I never did learn how to process rejection).

After that, I decided to rethink my approach to the profile essay. Maybe Caroline was right, and I talked too much about myself. I mean, the "what I'm looking for in a guy" paragraph was oddly brief and waaaaaay at the bottom of the column. So I bid adieu to my fantastic paragraphs and started fresh... this time starting with what I was looking for in a relationship, who I was looking for in such a relationship, and what they might find in me (this being the approved order). And then I blathered on at some length about the rest of my profile: see, most of the profile is just dots, you click a radio-button for a choice that describes your political leanings, turn-ons, pet types, and the like. I felt a little cheated by the sparsity of those answers, so I filled the rest of my profile essay with proper expounded answers.

Wanna see it? I don't suppose you can look at it without joining the website, so I'll just copy and paste what text I can:
Life is a banquet...but where is the fishberry jam?
* 41-year-old man
* Oakland, California, United States
* seeking men 25-55
* within 10 miles of Oakland, California, United States

Relationships: Never Married
Have kids: None
Want kids: Do not want to have kids
Ethnicity: Asian, White/Caucasian
Body type: About average
Height: 6'3" (190cms)
Religion: Agnostic
Smoke: No Way
Drink: I don't drink alcohol
Hair: Dark brown
Eyes: Grey
Best Feature: Eyes
Body Art: None
Sports and exercise: No Answer
Exercise habits: Exercise 3-4 times per week
Daily diet: Keep it healthy
* Book club/Discussion
* Coffee and conversation
* Dining out
* Movies/Videos
* Museums and art
* Music and concerts
* Performing arts
* Playing cards
* Shopping/Antiques
Education: Bachelor's degree
Occupation: Administrative / Secretarial
Income: $35,001 to $50,000
Languages: English
Politics: Liberal
Sign: Capricorn
My Place: Live with parents/extended family
Pets I have: Reptiles
Pets I like: Birds, Dogs, Fish

For fun:
Reading, writing, online message boards and social sites; trivia, etymology, languages, history, art, jewelry; bargain shopping, window shopping, grocery shopping; finding surprising new things to like.

My job:
I work for a non-profit social services agency, chiefly engaged in data management, but also poking my nose into other facets of human services. It's incredibly satisfying to do work that supports people in need.

My ethnicity:
I'm only one-eighth Chinese (people usually say it shows in my eyes), but I'm very proud of that heritage; I'm also Irish, German, Dutch, and Norwegian, but these were all homogenized by too many generations in the US.

My religion:
I believe that God exists, the creator and central intelligence of the universe... but that's as far as I'm willing to commit myself.

My education:
I'll never stop learning, though I stopped paying money for it when I got my BA in English Literature from San Francisco State (magna cum laude, which means very little but I'm unreasonably proud of it).

Favorite hot spots:
Bay Street, Piedmont Avenue, College Avenue, Solano Avenue, and Mountain View Cemetery (no, I'm not goth, it's very pretty there) are favorite local hangouts; Victoria BC, Waikiki HI, and Disneyland are my favorite vacation spots (so far).

Favorite things:
Mystery novels, jewelry, all kinds of art, crossword puzzles, elephants; Big Band music (especially Ella Fitzgerald), classical music, pop and rock and whatever else makes me move or think; conversations with lots of laughter (dry humor is best).

Last read:
Just finished Charlaine Harris's 'All Together Dead' and started on 'From Dead to Worse.' I'm on a vampire serial binge these days.

About my life and what I'm looking for

I'm looking to add a zing of romance to my life... and I don't mean the "candlelight, flowers, and strolling violinist" kind of romance (though that's nice), I mean the "I get a thrill of electricity in my heart when I see you" kind of romance. How that zing might develop, I have no idea, no agenda: it could be a flirty friendship, dating, LTR, or even marriage (once it's legal again); I'd like to see what happens without pushing it in one direction or another.

Nor do I have a "type" when it comes to men, none of the men I've loved in the past had much in common, physically... what's important is that mysterious "click" of attraction. We have it or we don't, and you can never predict who will click.

I do, however, require a man to be kind, to have a generous heart and a teachable mind, to have a respectful suspicion of social convention and an instinctive distrust of easy answers, to be fairly free of expectations and resentments - but not quite perfect just yet. The quirks and imperfections are where the flavor is found!

But enough about you, let's talk about me! I'm a lot of fun in conversation (I even like talking to myself), I have a head full of arcane facts and pertinent analyses, I'm great at color-coordinating, and I have excellent table-manners. I prefer ideas to opinions and questions to answers. I vastly prefer being indoors to being outdoors, though there are some outside things I like; I hate all sports...nothing wrong with them, they just bore me into a coma; strenuous physical activity is anathema, and though I go to the gym to keep myself healthy and will occasionally dance or lift heavy objects or push a vacuum-cleaner around, I don't find any pleasure in it.

Huh, 2325 characters left to go. I hate blank space. Allow me to elucidate some of the radio-button questions that dissatisfied me:

Want kids: I hesitate to admit that I don't like children, as it makes people think I'm an ogre. Thing is, I do like children, but only from a distance: I can't keep up with their needs, I exhaust quickly around them, and I would make a miserable parent.

Body type/Diet: I just lost 30 pounds with a diet and exercise plan. I've become so accustomed to the diet (mostly oats, lean meat, green vegetables, and supplements) that I get sick when I eat "normal," which has made restaurants something of a challenge. Now I need to step up the exercise portion to tone and shape what's left. But I feel oddly shy about going into the shape/tone part of the gym, I always feel like people will laugh at me.

Smoke/Drink: I quit smoking 11 years ago; my aunt has cancer and my father has COPD, so I've become a bit of an anti-smoking fascist. I've also been sober almost 14 years; I'm not so fascistic about the drinking, but I don't like the smell of it.

Hair: it's dyed dark brown; underneath, it's mouse-brown with great clumps of rat-gray.

Best Feature: I had to say "eyes" because nothing that I consider a best feature was listed... I'm told I have a beautiful speaking voice, I've received many compliments on the texture of my skin, and I think my toes are cute.

Sign: Capricorn with Scorpio rising and Gemini moon.

My Place: I live with my Grandmother. She's ninety and Texan and conservative ("the whole gay thing" is still a bone of contention between us, since I am out), mostly very sweet and kind but occasionally cantankerous. She is my priority: she was here for me from the beginning of my life, everything good in me comes from her; and I'm going to be here for her to the end of her life.

Pets: my Claudius is a 2.5-year-old red-eared slider, almost 5 inches long. He's very standoffish, he hates being touched and spends most of his time staring at me from under his basking rock...and I love him dearly.

If there's anything else you want to know, I maintain an open-books policy, so shoot me an email; let's see if we can get that "click" to happen for us.

So, that's not too bad, is it? You wouldn't hit the back button so fast it breaks your mouse, would you? Well, the proof shall be in the pudding... I just posted the new essay yesterday, along with a new profile pic (cropped from the artichoke picture you think I should have used another one?) and there hasn't been time for much response.

And, honestly, I don't have much hopes of this yielding anything more than something I can chalk up to experience. But hey, I already spent the money, I might as well spin the wheel.

Well, anyway, I'm out... I have to go check out the menfolks in my Daily 5 matches, which I noticed had refreshed when I went over to copy my profile text. Have a super day, and don't take any wooden igloos.

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