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So Monday, October 18th, 2010 marked what would have been my one year wedding anniversary. For the most part, it was a pretty typical day- classes, studying for midterms, homework. In a frustrating parallel of last year, when my faithful old Prelude decided to throw her timing belt and trash her engine on what would have been my wedding day, the S decided to develop a flat right-rear tire- probably due to the alignment being thrown off from the shitty road quality here in San Diego. I was lucky enough to have a classmate give me a ride into school, and I took the trolley and bus home after class in the evening. Another interesting parallel- and this time, I didn't flinch or feel any rush of emotions as I rode past the County Admin building (where we'd purchased the marriage license) or saw the condo in Little Italy.

Am I better? I've asked myself this a lot over the past couple of weeks. I think I'm still getting there, and I'm sure it's continuing to be an ongoing process. As for the future, I'm not really in any hurry to find a serious relationship any time soon. While I WOULD like to find a playmate for the last few months I'm here, I don't know how healthy that could be for me. As I was describing to a friend of mine yesterday, I feel like a fox that got caught in a trap but managed to escape- the wounds are still there, and I know it's making me more wary, a bit more jaded, and much less likely to trust again so easily. Not necessarily bad things by any means, but things to remember and take into account regardless.

The biggest test of how I'm doing is yet to come. A classmate of mine invited me to go see Dead Man's Party when they play here Halloween weekend, and I know for a fact that The Ex is going to be there with her new boyfriend. I don't anticipate any problems, and we're not planning on trying and talking to each other or anything, but it's still going to be unusual. I always suspected this kind of situation would eventually arise, after all.
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There's a saying that I became intimately familiar with shortly after I joined the Navy and got settled in Charleston, just over ten years ago:

"Nice guys don't get laid."

This is, of course, the corollary to the popular statement:

"Nice guys finish last."

Basically, being considerate, courteous, and compassionate are seen as weaknesses in the dog eat dog that is modern day society. I remember reading once that it goes back to evolution- girls want the guys who are inherently evil to sire their offspring, as passing on those genetic traits are advantageous in the modern world. I've seen it happen more times than I can count- I'll start talking to a girl, and she'll seem interested, but it'll quickly fade, and she'll move on to the pushy guy shooting his mouth off at anybody around him. There's another analogy I once read that seems to put things in perspective perfectly:

"This is roughly the equivalent for the guy of going to a job interview and the company saying, You have a great resume, you have all the qualifications we are looking for, but we're not going to hire you. We will, however, use your resume as the basis for comparison for all other applicants. But, we're going to hire somebody who is far less qualified and is probably an alcoholic. And if he doesn't work out, we'll hire somebody else, but still not you. In fact, we will never hire you. But we will call you from time to time to complain about the person that we hired."

The point of the above is to back up the claim that nice guys really don't get laid.

Except for One Exception.... )
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My good friend [livejournal.com profile] bkmichele has to stay at work all weekend as the on-duty manager or something like that, so I dropped in to have dinner with her last night at the hotel's restaurant. Hey, I'm never too good to pass up free food, and I still had to bring her up to date on the adventures in North Carolina (to be chronicled in the other blog), and my newest dating mishaps (to be chronicled...somewhere).

For the time being, we're both doing the OKCupid thing, since from our combined observation there seems to be a disturbing lack of worthwhile single people in our respective work/ life circles; Michele works with a bunch of older married guys in the hotel industry, and I'm going to school with a bunch of virginal 20 year olds and mid 20-somethings in long-term relationships. Not exactly the best place for either of us to meet people, and the folks typically encountered a the bar scenes in either one of our neighborhoods are about as appetizing as a peanut butter and Brussels Sprout sandwich.

I've also been doing the Plentyoffish thing (discovered that thanks to Amy several years ago, and encouraged by my friend Kat), and have been having pretty much the same results both places:

I'll message women that seem to be saying they're looking for exactly everything I have to offer, and who should typically find me interesting or intriguing, and while I'll get a glance or two at my profile, I won't get any responses. Or, the only girls that will initiate contact with me are the same kind that would typically come up and grab my ass at a bar out here- trashy, disgusting, and usually with a couple of kids already. Notice that I said "out here." Yes, I did notice a difference back east last week. Chalk another one up to why Southern California blows.

OK, I know I'm not the slimmest guy in San Diego (although I'm working hard at getting back to pornstar body status), and I realize that everybody in Southern California is obsessed with physical appearance, income level, etc but damn. Granted, I also wish there was a class available, like an "Online Dating for Dummies" type thing, because this shit is hard. I can ask five different girls that I'm friends with for advice on how to make my profile more likely to get hits, which pictures to upload, and what to say in first messages sent out, and I'll get five different opinions. But of course, isn't that how it works with women in general anyway?

So getting back to my original point- are girls in California really that deluded to think they're going to find some gorgeous multimillionaire artist/ architect/ self-employed guru that's 7' tall, deadlifts 300 pounds, and is going to whisk them all over the world at the drop of a hat? Maybe. But then I went and found the following study, and interview, that I think helps explain at least part of the reason why I've been having virtually no success with this whole online dating experiment.

The ugly truth

In addition, I also found this interview that one of the site's founders did with NPR last year. And yes, I thought the date of the interview was hilariously coincidental as well.

Why I'm screwed

So they pretty much speak for themselves, but I'll do the cliffnotes because I know some folks won't bother reading the full articles: basically as a guy, if you're not white, you're not going to get many responses, or messages from folks, unless you're sending messages to black females. And apparently white people are the least likely to want to date outside of their race.
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The last wedding I went to was in Charlotte last July, when my good friend [livejournal.com profile] capt_hornblower was tying the knot with his lovely bride Julie. The Ex and I had flown out for the weekend, as I've already missed way too many weddings and other events in the lives of my friends while I've been on the wrong coast.

As the happy couple walked back down the aisle at the end of the ceremony, Gerin caught my eye, pointed at me emphatically, and with a wicked grin on his face, mouthed the words, "you're next!"

Funny the difference a few months makes, huh? Over the last eight months I've done a pretty good job avoiding most gatherings of happy couples in love. Or I've done a really damn good job keeping my mouth shut. Well, aside from that one time. It was early December, and my old neighbor Kristin was in town from the Bay Area to celebrate her birthday PB style (read: get ridiculously hammered drunk). I don't have any recollection of this, but apparently on the drunken stumble home we passed a wedding at the Zlac Rowing club on the bay, and I managed to shout out a couple of things about how horrible weddings are, how much love sucks, etc before anybody dragged me away.

Whoops. Obviously still a little bit sore about all of that. As if I'd needed another reminder. So needless to say, I've been quite gun-shy about those sorts of things since then, which I know is having a huge effect on my social life, or almost complete lack thereof. There's no guide or benchmark that I've found for "being better" and it's been an ongoing process. I'm doing better than I was even two months ago, but at the same time, I don't want to put myself into scenarios that will test just how "ok" I really am.

Fast forward to three weeks ago. An old friend of mine from the Reagan, Victoria or Vicki, called me and asked if I'd be her date for a wedding she had to go to. Great. Even better? The wedding was at the Admiral Kidd Club. This was a potential problem for several reasons:

1) Naval Recruiting District San Diego's headquarters is literally right around the corner- I was less than 200 yards from my old job.
2) The Ex and I had looked at having our ceremony and reception at the AKC.
3) The catering company that runs and provides the food for AKC is the same one that does for the OceanView Room, where we'd planned to have our ceremony.
4) Did I mention that I basically got left at the altar just a few months ago?

Vicki knew my history, and made me swear up and down that I wouldn't drink to excess, that I wouldn't go ruining the day for anybody else, and that I would be on my best behavior. As if that wasn't enough, several other of my friends, as soon as they found out I was going to a wedding, made me promise the same thing. Nice to know folks were looking out for me. So Vicki came down from LA Friday morning, and away we went to the Admiral Kidd Club for her friend's wedding.

I'd like to say the wedding was super easy to get through and I didn't feel a damn thing except happy for the bride and groom, but that would be a lie. The weather was perfect- sunny, warm without being too hot, and just enough breeze kicked up to keep the air moving without causing too much havoc. The kind of weather we'd hoped and prayed we'd have for our own wedding. Although, in a deliciously ironic twist of fate, October 18, 2009 was gray, cloudy, and decidedly cold. But I digress...

It was a beautiful ceremony- my first Jewish wedding- but for me it was just surreal. When the wireless audio for the Rabbi started cutting out, I sort of smiled to myself; our DJ had told us that he used wired mics on the military bases on Point Loma specifically because that sort of thing happens regularly. I saw the photographer walking around taking pictures, and I could JUST imagine it was Gabrielle Fox, our photographer, running around getting pictures. And wondering who was the better photographer. There ceremony was very nice, short, and fairly easy to understand- the same I would have liked my dad to do- but probably not quite like ours would have been. After all, it's no secret where I get my big mouth from. :) Seeing the happy couple, so obviously and completely in love with each other, share their first kiss was the hardest part- I had to swallow hard a few times to keep from welling up. For just the tiniest fraction of a second, I remembered what that felt like.

After surviving the ceremony, the reception was something else altogether. I thought that Roman Catholic Italians knew how to party, but I'd honestly have to say that all the Petruzzelli family gatherings I'd attended (which granted didn't include any weddings) had nothing on being at a Jewish wedding. I stuck to my promise, and aside from a taste of some rather vile Margarita punch (which we'd opted not to go for), and the obligatory glass of Champagne for the toasts, I didn't touch any more of the drinks. As an added bonus, one of my old former deppers from my time in Orange County was also at the wedding- she'd been friends with the bride for a couple of years, apparently.- so we had a good time catching up, even though I refused to talk about my breakup until after the wedding and we were back out here at the beach.

All in all it was pretty much a success- until I started drinking. Some of us at the wedding had talked about going out afterwards (including a couple of the single bridesmaids that were there), but nothing really came of it, and I ended up going out with the neighbors while Vicki and Veronica passed out here at the house, tired from the early morning drives down from LA and OC, respectively. I vaguely remember getting hit on by a trio of attractive married 40 year olds (again- I think this was the 3rd or 4th time that's happened in the last 6 months), and forgetting some girl's name that  I was talking to. And unsteadily walking back home, only to fall in bed alone, again, and sleep like the dead until I had to be up this morning to go to Balboa Park for the Golden Pyramid Award ceremony. Yep, nice to know I've still got it.
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Back in 2001 when I first checked on to the Reagan, I found that a lot of our abundant free time between watches and shipyard tests were filled with trading stories. My first attempt at spinning a yarn of my adventures was an utter failure, and after much (not so subtle) encouragement from my friends and coworkers, I strove to correct that deficiency. That wasn't really a problem, as the misadventures and shenanigans of the next three years provided a plethora of material to perfect my craft. Nowadays I'd like to think that my skills as a raconteur have greatly improved.

The adventures continued once we got here to San Diego, as is often retold here, but that came to an almost complete standstill when I started recruiting. Between settling down with the ex and working 80-90 hours a week, there wasn't much time or interest in getting into much trouble. After the breakup and subsequent move back out here to Pacific Beach, school and the need to finish healing emotionally kept any other adventures I took part in were still barely blips on the the radar of partying, especially  in relation to the old days. This was partially me not wanting to go out, but also because the landscape of my friends has changed so much in the last couple of years. Most of my old party buddies are now engaged, married, or now have or are expecting kids. Meanwhile, the majority of my classmates aren't exactly what I would call my peers. Don't get me wrong, I'm making friendships that I know I'll value years from now, but most of the folks I hang out with at school are either married and/ or parents, or are 20 years old and don't exactly have my same... experience level. Needless to say, I've been aching to find folks to hang out and party with for a few months now. Call it a side-effect of springtime burgeoning around me here, but I've been itching to try and get back into the single game.

I'd been interested in a girl in my Chemistry class, Roxy, for pretty much the entire semester, and to my surprise, she finally took notice and (at least academic) interest in me over the last month or so. We made plans last week to hang out this weekend. With that in mind, I started jumping back in to my old role of party organizer- calling up old friends to see who would be able to come out, and hoping that I'd have a decent-sized group with me in case Roxy didn't show up (she'd cancelled last minute the previous evening for Happy Hour at South Beach), or worse, brought along a boyfriend that I didn't know about, since previous experience has shown that any girl I'm interested in dating from school is already seeing somebody. I'd spent most of the day hanging out with [livejournal.com profile] bkmichele , who'd even gone so far as to blow off the date she was supposed to have last night in favor of hanging out with me, and we made plans to go to OB to try and run amok in a way we hadn't done in many years. 

As she was getting ready to head over, I started getting MANY drunken phone calls from Zeke, whom though married and expecting his first son to be born this coming week, was nonetheless free of God, Wife, and Navy for the weekend and obviously back up to no good. Our friend Ben (the gay/ bi version of me), whom I'd previously tried to help join the Navy last year, was also present, and an old friend of mine from the Reagan, Victoria, drove down from Pasadena to partake in the festivities.

And a good night was had by all. Sunshine Company was a lot quieter than previous times I'd been there back in the day, and we were quickly able to commandeer one of the pool tables, where Zeke kept us in stitches as he tried time and again to beat the guys who were running the table. It took him the better part of two hours, and probably close to ten dollars worth of quarters, but he finally succeeded in wresting the table from their grasp- then proceeded to drunkenly shoot the cue ball off the table half a dozen times, to the amusement of the folks at the table next to us.

Between making fun of the hoochies throwing themselves at guys at the table next to us, the man with the epic mullet that Michele and Vic posed for pictures with, the gorgeous black girl that walked up to Michele and basically gave her a lap dance, and me practicing my newfound ability to be attracted to and attempt to hit on only the girls that were with or meeting up with their boyfriends, it was definitely a night full of stories that will be retold later. With pictures to provide evidence of the goings-on.

The craziness didn't stop when we left the bar. A couple of Zeke's new buddies from the Vinson had come out to meet up with us, and lacking a ride, they had to wait for one of their girlfriends to come from Coronado to pick them up so we could head out for the obligatory 2am burrito. As we were waiting, a man walking his cat (yes, on a leash) got stopped and ticketed by a pair of police officers (one of them being a smoking hot petite blond) for having an open container, then stopping to pet the cat afterwards. Meanwhile, Ben and Michele snapped photos and immediately put them on Facebook and Twitter. The ride for our new friends finally arrived, and we made our way back to PB, ending up at Taco Motion for our post-drinking burrito fix. After everything that had happened, I'd thought that all of the hilarity was done for the night.


As we were waiting to order our food, some incredibly drunk guy walked in to the taco shop, ready to start a fight with Ben, because Ben had apparently rolled his eyes at the guy.

Ben had been wearing sunglasses since we'd gotten back in Michele's car for the ride back to PB.

A friend of his finally came to collect the his friend obviously endowed with x-ray vision, and we ate our burritos in relative quiet (aside from making fun of how drink Zeke was) before everybody called it a night.

So a good time was had by all. I've been thinking all morning about how much I've missed partaking in crazy adventures like this, and I doubt this is going to be a regular occurrence again, but it's just proof that even as I'm aging, I still have some party left in me. And Roxy, the hot girl from my Chem class that had been the whole reason for throwing together our ragtag ensemble? Never showed, and I never heard a peep from her all night as to where she was or if she still wanted to hang out. Oh well- we can't win 'em all, I guess.
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I'm not sure if it's my Porphyria acting up because I haven't eaten anything yet today, but it's definitely been one of those days.

I've got buttloads of homework I've been very slowly meandering through, but I just can't seem to focus for more than a few minutes at a time. I'm not really hungry, but knowing I need to get some carbs into my system, I have food on the way here. Maybe after I eat something I'll feel a little bit better, and my mind won't wander nearly as much.

The truth is, I miss her. I never thought I'd think that at this point, let alone say it, but I do. Perhaps it was the conversation I had earlier today with [livejournal.com profile] redeemed_143 , maybe it's the conversation I had with my roommate earlier today about the fact that I'm spending a lot of time by myself; easy to understand, what with classes getting back in and the lack of a car, but I know she and her boyfriend need some time to themselves as well. The main catalyst for my realization, though, just came about an hour or so ago when I was writing a pre-lab for Chemistry and Nickodemus popped up on my Pandora station. I immediately recognized the track without having to look, and memories started flooding back just as quickly.

It was just over two years ago, and I was in the middle of my tour in hell as a recruiter. Tana and I hadn't yet moved in together, and the proposal was still eleven months away. However, our relationship had gotten very serious, and of course our shared love of good music had been the basis for many fun nights and adventures, as much as my schedule would allow. I remember the look of excitement on her face when she told me about one of her favorite artists, New York-based Nickodemus, who was scheduled to play a show soon at the Kava Lounge here in San Diego, and how she'd already taken the liberty of getting tickets for us. Thankfully, I was able to make it home at a decent hour on the night of January 18th, 2008 for us to be able to make it to the show with plenty of time to spare.

The Kava Lounge is located on Kettner Street- probably just over a mile where we would soon be making a home together- perched precariously on the hill overlooking the airport. The club had been the first location of The Casbah, and Tana told me about her first experiences going to shows there with that gleam in her eye that always showed itself when she was especially excited about something. I immediately liked the location, the local artwork hanging on the walls, and the delicious all-organic drinks they served at the bar, and we talked about how we should hang out there more often, once we had the time. More of those plans we started making that were doomed to never reach fruition.

The show itself was amazing- Nickodemus had live musicians backing him, guest vocalists, and even a couple of local DJ's also sharing the stage with him. We danced, in our own little world of rhythm and music, entranced by the beats and each other, and completely oblivious to the rest of the world around us.

As I continue listening to music from the same artists and other similar to him, I can't help but find myself wondering about what's been said and done, and what might have been. Part of my procrastinating on my homework today has involved re-reading old posts on her blog page, and I can't help but ask myself if she really meant it when she said we were never meant to be, and that she could never see herself as a wife. I couldn't help but picture how today would have been different if things had gone differently- I'd be sitting at the dining room table working on Calculus and Chemistry while she'd be puttering around, probably watching a bit of Food Network and trying so hard to simultaneously be non-intrusive to my efforts, but wanting to flirtatiously steal my attention away from my studies as often as I'd let her. Instead of getting Chinese food delivered here, one of us would be cooking something organic and mostly vegetarian, and we'd probably both have glasses of wine in hand- maybe either one of the bottles we'd picked up in Temecula  or one that had been a wedding present. And when it was time for bed, we'd be cuddled up together in the bed that we bought together, and in the morning she'd be up, sipping her first cup of coffee, and probably making sure I had a lunch packed by the time I dragged myself out of the bedroom. Such was our routine for most of our year in Little Italy.

I had a talk with a friend recently about things that I still have a hard time doing, or can't even bring myself to do at all any more. Taking the trolley to school had been an adventure- my heart starts beating furiously in my chest when the train approaches the Little Italy stop, and if I happen to look over at the County Center building across Pacific Highway, where we'd applied and paid for our marriage license a scant two weeks before the breakup, I can feel a great sense of sadness wash over me. The same thing happens as the trolley crosses Union Street as it continues it's trip downtown; every time, I glance down Union Street to where I once lived, and as I see the top of the high-rise tower of the La Vita complex poking above the surrounding buildings, the same fleeting wave of melancholy hits me again. Strangely enough, I can't seem to look away- like a grisly train wreck or something, I can't seem to NOT look away when the train passes my old street. I don't know if it's my subconscious saying, "hey asshole, you're supposed to be living there," or what. Maybe. I still can't bring myself to go back through Balboa Park, I'm thankful that we don't have a TV here (that way I don't have Jeopardy and and Food Network constantly reminding me of things), and as I look through internships and part-time job opportunities, I find myself purposely avoiding anything having to do with Sempra or SDG&E, and there are still several restaurants around town that I can't even think about eating at. And Lord help the girl that wants to go out downtown with me.

Memory serves a purpose, and emotion is a big part of that. I'm feeling too lazy and hungry right now to look up any wise or witty quotes about that, but I know they're out there. Anyway, I keep telling myself that everything happens for a reason, that there's something else down the road that's going to make all of this seem like it was a fleeting rough patch in my life. However, if nothing else, memory serves the purpose of reminding us where we've been, which is important to know where we're going. Take physics, for example. A vector has to have both a starting point and an endpoint, otherwise it would be impossible to determine anything in between. So, as I figure out what my direction and magnitude are, a little bit of looking over the shoulder has to be expected, right?


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Tiger In A Cage

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