July 1st, 2002

tell tale heart

Romangst

The moon is having her period.
Another wildfire, nearer to Boulder. This one started by lightning. The sunshine had an orange tint today, cars headlights revealed myriad particulate matter, and the moon's been bright orange.

Somebody should make a kids' game called Operator, which involves using - * / < > et al. correctly or a buzzer sounds and some math teacher's nose lights up.

I couldn't sleep last night, so I got up at 5 and joined another 1,499,999,999 people in watching the World Cup final live. I didn't feel as involved as the USA/Germany game, possibly because I hadn't had exhilliarating exersize, I hadn't just eaten a donut, I was getting a lame picture, or there weren't people behind me yelling. But it was entertaining and well played. Brazil won 2-0; Rinaldo equalling Pele's mark of 12 World Cup goals. (My appologies to Pele for leaving the accents off. I'm too tired to look them up atm.) I then proceeded to sleep in until 3pm. Finishing this post at 5am, my sleep schedule's just going straight to smeg.

I played in Season of the Mantis on Saturday night, the first time I've played any CCGs since winter break, I think. It took me quite a while on Friday to build a deck -- I decided I wanted to use the Ninja Mimic twist I'd worked up on the Mitsu/Shifter/Shuten Doji combo I'd worked up some time ago. At first it was going to be in the original TA box so I could loose honor from Ninjas and still get Mitsu out. Then I realized that, even with the other random Ninjas I wanted to put in (Shadow-walker swaps with Mitsu! Why not?), the two honor loss from the Mimic was the only hit I would take, so I started building for Imperial Toturi (7G discount on a follower! Why not? Because these chumps can only attach Ninja followers. And I don't own any helpful Ninja duelling followers.) Then I started thinking duelling. Why not put it in Monkey and give Mitsu some Mantis Bushi? Straighten on everyone's turn! Fun fun! Becoming disappointed that very few followers have honor requirements over 2, I decided to shift to Dragon, who have the shugenja for Sympathetic Energies and Reflective Pool (yay! I get to use my favorite spell in a serious deck!) and defensive support. I ended up with about 55 cards in my fate deck, figuring I could draw like a fiend with my box, Gennai with PoW, and Sezaru. Ironically, I lost the final multiplayer because I drew one too few fate cards. The deck was too slow to develop in duels against Oni enlightenment and Monk honor, but I managed to squeak my way to 40 honor against a Ninja after some wackyness (Plans Within Plans/Kolat Recruiter/Ninja Stronghold to steal my Shapeshifter! Face of the Nameless to grab my Gennai with The Wasting Disease, who then got nailed down by Shuten Doji with the Ruby of Iuchiban, allowing the Ninja Mimic become a copy of Gennai!) Having played in... 3 tournaments in the past year and a half, with even less casual play, I was quite out of practice. I wasn't aware that there's no lobbying anymore (a severe disappointment which negatively impacted me -- I wanted Mitsu to fail at a lobbying attempt). I forgot what cards could do, and got bitten by it. And I had to take extra time to think about what I was doing with my already slow deck. Four people, four games, five hours. It was a so-so experience, but I was glad to get my feet wet again. I even played a few games of Magic against a kid while I was waiting for the tourney to start. I haven't played Magic in ages. Won't be playing cards too much the rest of the summer, but I may stop by a few more times. Especially to the tournaments that aren't on Saturday nights. The Outdoor Cinema and IFS shows are preferable to cards.


It may be indicative of something that I found Marilyn Monroe in Some Like it Hot, flashing skin, giggling, giving deep kisses, speaking breathlessly, self-proclaimedly not very smart, and wistfully vulnerable in her white hair and well proportioned body significantly less attractive than Shirley MacLaine in The Apartment, who varied from professional to morose to cynical to suicidal, dressed in suits, overcoats, and a flanel, dark hair cut short. Some Like It Hot was hillarious. Though frequently featuring sexual innuendo and cross dressing, contemporary American comedies have a lot of trouble reaching this level of comedic genius. With the freedom to say more vulgar things, the creative pressure isn't there to create truly witty innuendous dialog. Kissing Jessica Stein, for instance. I saw that on Friday -- the IFS schedule made me think it was going to be a comedic romantic wittery, and I was excited when it started with arguments about proper word usage. But it kind of turned itself from a comedy into a humorous drama. It was a good movie, but not nearly as satisfying as I'd hoped. Anyway, when a movie can make jokes like a gay guy saying "You've had more cock than I have, and I was a slut in the '80s. *turns and appologizes to old lady*" and characters can openly address issues about lesbian sex, the G-but-really-R innuendo perfected by Mae West and chromed by Marilyn Monroe doesn't really have a place. (In the film's favor, I didn't want to punch Jessica Stein in the face and say "Look, just admit it and everything will be fine" like I do with most comedies of manners.)

Having seen Some Like It Hot and The Apartment, I'm even more excited for next week's Billy Wilder double feature, Sunset Blvd. and Double Indemnity. Three cigarette puffs for film noir! I left the theater with a serious jones for bagels, a sure sign that deep thoughts are ahead. I grabbed the last two blueberry and the last two cinnamon raison bagels from Safeway and headed to Scott Carpenter Park. I have a whole essay in my head about recently adultproofed playgrounds, but I was pleasantly surprised to find that big kids fit on all of the replaced structures at Scott Carpenter -- the remodel may have actually improved it, unlike Salberg where they took out the barrel without replacement. That peeves me. The rest of this entry concerns my feelings, thoughts, and memories that have come up since I reached park five hours ago. (Zarquon! It's almost 4 AM!)


I feel it again. I'm in love. With nobody in particular. Just in love. The evolutionary psychologist explains that falling in love with a potential mate removes our freedom to act, so our mate can rest assured that we won't take a more rationally better deal when it comes up in the game theoretic singles scene. But how does my reproductive fitness increase if I fall in love with nobody. Unrequited love has the excuse that the machinery is working right, it just didn't pick the best of circumstances. But being in love without a person to pursue is as helpful as being afraid of nothing in particular. The name for fear with an absent object is angst -- perhaps I feel romantic angst. The romantic version of angst, that is, not angst about romance.

This isn't the first time I've felt this way. The first time I felt in love was at a summer camp when I was 16 or so. I wasn't really sure what the feeling was, but it would be accurate to say I in love with a girl who was there. Nothing especially powerful. We had a bunch of cool discussions at camp, but nothing significant happened afterwords. Spring, 1997. I got a secret admirer email that sparked a weekend of introvered inspection. We both showed up at the propozed rendezvous, but she didn't say anything more than "Hi" and I, of course, didn't take any bold steps. "Hi, uh, did you, y'know, um, send me an email? I mean, that is to say, are you my secret admirer?" That's not something I could have said as a junior in high school. But the introspection had awakened the feeling. After casting about for a few days, I decided I was in love. (How do we learn the correct words for emotions? How do I know that what I'm experiencing when I say I'm in love is the same thing someone else feels, other than going into stumbling guesses about internal physiology? We can learn the word for an emotion based on its display, observing someone with piercing eyes and exasperated expressions and hear someone say they're annoyed, but we somehow learn when to say we're annoyed without looking in the mirror and comparing our expressions to our recollections of other people.) I wasn't in love with my secret admirer; it was another case of romantic angst. This was pretty powerful stuff -- occupying me for hours in place of schoolwork and my other usual geekly endeavors. After asking myself "Who am I in love with?" for several days (as well as consulting the I Ching, the friend who gives great advice and who'll never need to call you for help getting out of a jam), Emily appeared in my mind without a clear method or direction of arrival. Having spent two years worth of classtime together, I knew that she was smart, witty, and beautiful, but didn't know her on any significant interpersonal level. So why was I in love with her? I've known plenty of other smart, witty, and beautiful girls with whom I was not in love (in fatuation, yes, in love, no). I knew several at the time as well, so why didn't I fall in love with them? As many have surely noted, "What do you like about me?" is a question with no very good answer -- if he says "Your sense of humor," she responds "So if I lost my sense of humor, you wouldn't love me as much?" ... Of course he'd still love her; he's in love with her, not a set of qualities. Love is the material of poetry, not predicate calculus. So my brain and upper torso worked on the information available and worked out that Emily would be a good girl to pursue. For some reason I think most guys do it in a different order -- they 1) become intrigued with a girl, 2) pursue her, 3) get to know her, 4) go out with her, 5) fall in love with her, 6) get serious with her. I think I went 5, 1, 2, 4, 3, 6. So I spent about a month watching and dreaming, talking with her a little more, before I worked up the nerve to slip her a secret admirer note. Another month and another continent later, I had enough nerve to claim responsibility. Why yes, I was^H^H^H^H am a socially challenged geek. As it turned out, my courage was immensely rewarded, and the following year brought some of the best experiences of my life.

Fittingly, we broke up much like we had gotten together -- a period of intense emotion followed by clear English inserting itself into my consciousness, followed by a socially awkward attempt to share my inner feelings. Only this time what happened wasn't what I had intended -- I was trying to express deep and overflowing love and instead we broke up. D'oh. And unlike most guys who break up with their girlfriends right as the go off to college, I didn't proceed to flirt around my dorm, sow my wild oats, or even ask another girl out for more than two years (and who asked whom out was a point of dispute with my second ever girlfriend). So I initiated the break up, but I was still in love. Super. I was clingy and depressed a lot, lying in bed for an hour finding that hugging a pillow is so far from as fulfilling as wrapping my arms around her cuddly body, finally falling asleep thinking "I wouldn't mind if I didn't wake up tomorrow." I was like that for about a year. Pretty serious rebound time for a relationship of approximately equal length. I finally returned to my usual stoic (adj. - impervious to pain or pleasure) state and remained so for quite a while, engaging more in social activities, student groups, and the like. We've remained good friends (she's probably the best friend I have) throughout, which is really wonderful. So yeah, there's two years of love with a definite object.

College is a place bountiful with beautiful women and smart women and the intersection of those sets is not null. Pretty much every semester for a few years, some smart girl in one of my classes has caught my eye, but infatuate, fantasize, and imagine as I might, I was still socially challenged to the point of not being able to say "Hi, I've been choosing my seat for the past several weeks so that I could get a good view of your lovely face. Would you like to go out for a pastry or take a hike some time?" or even something less eloquent like "Hi, my name's Trevor. What are you interested in?" After becoming an RA, my social skills improved quite a bit, but I recognized that I had no time to properly devote to a caring relationship, so I contented myself with having interesting conversations with cute smart girls. (Which, I suppose, serves as an in should I develop more free time.) (Aside: this seems to be diverging. Perchance I may make this tangent to a chord.) Yet even with a dozen or so girls immediately present, and another dozen thousand on campus, none of them have entered my brain as people I'm in love with, nor have I felt any significant romantic angst. Sure, I've felt lonely, I've imagined myself cuddling with one girl or another, having deep conversations and long walks on the creek shore. Longed for and lusted after, but not loved.

So what will happen with what I've been feeling tonight? Although I still sometimes feel the wide leaves of love when I think about or talk with Emily, she isn't the object this time (though I've smiled each time I've thought about her this evening). So it's genuine romantic angst. I resolved a few days ago to invite some of my female friends out for a movie or coffee (and a muffin!), so we'll see if anything comes of that. I've also been drafting in my head a "Why You Should Date A Geek" flier suitable for meme status. Sort of a personal ad for an entire subculture :-)
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