Monday, August 26, 2013

OMG, I Joined Tinder (then left)

So yeah, as I have remarked (griped) about before on this site, dating in New York City is just about the worst thing ever, and with an extra layer of despair for the ladies in this town.  I have had just about enough of it and many times I press my hands together and vow myself to celibacy for the rest of my days but then yeah, that thing called sex-drive and life-drive reminds me that I am full of shit and I hurtle myself back into the fishy sea. 

My personality type is all A, so proactivity is essential when facing any problem.  The problem to solve is my lack of love life which is totally new to me (for the past 10+ years I have been a serial monogamist) and thus I haven’t a clue what to do to fix it.  Then in comes the internet.  There are a lot, like a gazillion, sites and apps that are specific to this first world problem of finding love or a variation of it.  I have shied away from things like Okcupid because it seems like too much effort and being an Asian woman is like wearing a giant target for all those freak fetishists out there.  I did want to try something though, for the curiosity of it, the wishful thinking it might actually do something, and to see how these sorts of things work and what that means to the bigger human social experiment and how it reflects these times.

I came to choose Tinder because a friend of mine has been using it for a while and they love it.  They are male and he showed it to me and I was like “that’s insane!”  He had gone on a few ‘dates’ and nothing serious came of any of them but he said it was fun.  So last week, August 21st to be exact, I downloaded the app to my iphone and entered the vortex that is Tinder.

So here’s how it works.  You sign in via your Facebook account, (nothing is posted or revealed on your actual Facebook re: your Tinder use) then it auto selects your main profile picture and includes up to four other profile pics.  It had me as male at first so that was weird but you can change this and then you can go to the “Matching Preferences” section and you can select if you are interested in males or females, the age range (mine was 27-34, I’m 31) and your search limit in regards to GPS distance from you (I have up to five miles).  Then you can click on “Recommendations” and the GPS map thing loads from your current location and up pops a picture of a person near by that fits your preferences.  You see a picture of them, their first name, their age, and how many shared friends and shared interests you have (via your Facebook account).  You can click onto the person and see some more pictures of them, if they have, and also a tagline, if they have.  If you think that person is cute then you swipe to the right.  If you don’t, then you swipe to the left. 

At first I was really bad at swiping so I swiped a few people that I didn’t think were cute by accident, oppsy.  But then I got used to it and I basically swiped to the left (Nope) like 99% of the time.  It’s actually boring, sad, bleak and a bit annoying to have to go through so many human beings.  Also, when you see a person you know in real life, it’s like ‘eeek’ and ‘lol’ at the same time.  There were a few guys I thought were cute and these were also those that I shared a lot of mutual friends with (20+) and also had lots of shared interests with.  On Facebook, I currently, to date, have 1,049 ‘friends’ and 101 interests. I have a variety of networks but most are in the arts, music, or literature so having more shared associations was to me a real ‘this is not so creepy and pathetic’ factor.  This actually became a rule, if there were 0 shared things I immediately swiped to the left.

So you swipe swipe swipe and if there is someone that you swipe to the right, ‘like’, and if, when they see you on their phone, they also swipe you to the right, you get a “Match” and there is a folder like thing that shows you who you liked that also liked you.  When this happens you are allowed to chat with them through the site.   So over the past 5 days I had 15 matches, of those I only meant to like 6, (as I said, I was bad at the swiping at first) and of those I chatted with 4. 

There was this one guy, lets call him Patrick (all names changed) that was one of my first actual matches and we had a lot of shared friends and interests and he looked sorta crazy but in a good way.  We chatted a lot when we matched and then he asked for my actual phone number so we could text off the site.  We texted a lot the next day.  We then made tentative plans to see each other that night.  Previously in the day, another guy named ‘Michael’ matched with me, he said he knew of me and that we should get off the site and chat via Facebook. 

I went to a party with some friends and drank a lot of tequila.  One of my friends kept saying ‘where is Michael’ to some of her other friends.  In walks Michael.  The same Michael from Tinder.  My face gets hot.  I sorta look the other way, he looks the other way.  Then my friend introduces us and we look at each other and are like, ‘yeah we sorta know each other’ and she says, ‘oh good, how?’ and I think I said ‘we just liked each other on Tinder.’  I had told her I was using it earlier in the night.  We all start laughing and he shows her how it works on his phone and then we walk away from each other.  I feel like my face is going to melt off from embarrassment.  She wants me to talk to him but he is busy and I feel really really dumb.  I decide to leave after a while and I feel like a total idiot. 

Then Patrick texts and wants to know if I want to still meet up.  It is already 1:00am and I drank A LOT of tequila. I figure sure why not, why not explode myself via Tinder all in one night.  We meet up at a bar and talked for about two hours.  It is really odd to meet a complete stranger and you both know the other person thinks they are cute.  Really weird.  Anyways we talk, it’s fine, there isn’t much chemistry but it’s not unpleasant.  We know a lot of the same people.  There was a little knee to knee touching but nothing else.  He walks me to my door, no hugs or kisses just a 'nice to meet you goodbye.’  I again feel like a total idiot.  

The next day I feel like trucks ran over me physically and I feel emotionally drained.  There are no texts from Patrick.  I friend Michael on Facebook and said it was nice to meet him irl, no response returned.  I look at my Tinder and think, ‘Jesus f-ing Christ.’ 

I try to give it another go, but after those two interactions I feel totally disinterested about Tinder.  Yes, there are people out there that you could potentially like that may like you but after the easiness of swiping and the distanced and affected form of communication that is texting, the actuality of meeting a stranger in whatever context mediated through this app is not very easy or comfortable at all. 

Using Tinder was certainly eye opening in many ways.  It is great that a thing like this exists in some ways because it does serve a need, the need and want to meet people in a city that is full of busy lives and micro communities.  It is also always fun to flirt and to have that surge of sexual or romantic potential.  This app is definitely about surfaces though; judging a book/a person, by their cover is definitely what is happening.  This is interesting to think about though, the ways we represent and project ourselves online and how real, honest or reflective that is.  Going through all those faces, the concept of a ‘type’ is cemented.  We are all a type; the way someone looks and presents themselves online reveals this type so quickly that it is surprising in the honesty of that reduction.  This also is at odds to the totality of a person.  They might fit your idea or want in another person but at the end of day who they are, their personality, their chemical mix and if you actually like each other can only be known by meeting and interacting with them in real life. 

So after five days, one date, one accidental meeting and zero progress made in the thing called my love life, I have deleted my account from Tinder and will just try it the old fashion way.  Well, maybe in a few days or weeks, this whole thing made me want to vow my single celibacy oath again but I know that won’t last long.  When I do want to play in the dating game again, I’ll know that there are options on the internet that could possibly make this more accelerated, more addictive, and more removed in some ways but I will count my losses and hope that the whole universe, magic, cupid thing will eventually make things happen.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Lucy Ives, Nineties, 2013, Tea Party Republicans Press

There is a book out there that will make things seem different after you read it.  Different how?  Different in a physical sort of way.  Nineties, by Lucy Ives is the book that will do this.  What will those physical symptoms be?  For me, it was a strange sort of audible heaviness.  It was like a weight being pressed down onto me but then removed.  It was sort of like how you feel after you work out very hard, there is a relief yet a sense of purifying.  How is this accomplished by a book?  I’m not exactly sure to be honest, but I can promise you that if you/when you read this book you will have some sort of visceral aftershock. 

Nineties is about just that.  The 1990s, but more specifically it is about a girl, about a girl in a private school in New York City.  That girl is presumed to be the author.  Ives was born in 1980 and grew up in New York City.  She is stated at some point in the book at being thirteen close to fourteen.  That means she is in the seventh or eighth grade.  This is a story about being a girl and things that happen and things that are felt when you are of a certain age. 

This is a coming of age story of sorts, about being a teenager with friends and the act of growing up in a place.  Don’t be presumptuous though, this is unlike any book that may use this narrative setting.  The way this book is written is like a finely calibrated scale.  The choice of words, the pacing, the punctuation, the amount of text on a page, (which is sparse), the indentations, the italics, the conversations quoted are all so precisely chosen that it makes you feel like you are on some sort of ledge.  There is a precarity to every page.  A restraint that gives you a sense of tension even if it is a re-telling of an afternoon at a friend’s house, going to get a haircut, or meeting boys at a pool hall. Passages such as:

Gwen’s father picks us up on the main road.
            We slide into the backseat.  It’s really warm.
            The floor is heated and there is new leather.
            It’s a new car.
            I start talking to Gwen.
            Gwen digs her nails into my arm.
            I see her father’s eyes in the rearview mirror.

There is a disembodied feeling as if the observations, re-telling and thoughts of the main character are being remembered but in that remembrance the unknown, the wariness, the vague powerlessness and boredom of having to exist comes to the surface.

The poetry of composition in this book is not unpinned though.  As the book proceeds there is a plot that thickens and it involves the characters/friends, which have been introduced and evaluated at the start.  The main plot involves a credit card, a shopping spree, a to do list of consciousness and the aftermath of character.  Even with this though, there is not an emotional stance.  There is a sense of inevitability and more then that, a transference of that lump in the throat that anyone who was once a teen has had when they know they might get caught for something. 

The bigness and smallness of situations of being this age are unromantically relived.  The triviality of these circumstances feels big though.  They feel big in a way that is not a determinant of life but an introduction to the way the rest of life will be or is.  The want of material objects, the relationships to authority, the alliances and plots of friends, the steady dullness of accomplishing assignments.  All of these things are mastered and learned at this age and with ‘growing up’ appear to be more negotiable but in the end it might all just seem that way because we have gotten better at doing it alone. 

This book’s tone and control are not burdens.  They are necessary to get to the point of a feeling and to have that feeling be honest.  The ways that scenes and memories are selected and presented feel more like insight then nostalgic reverie.  There is no nostalgia here, even though there is a time capsule like recall when outfits are described and haircuts are emulated.  There is also a noticeably forceful acknowledgment of this time at almost the middle of the book when there is a whole two pages (plus) of nineties brands, bands, words, and other culture queues.  It’s not so much about the content of the list but a surface to the setting of this time, like landscape or topography.  It affects you although you barely are cognizant of it because it’s all you have ever known. 

Nineties is a book that is more then just a story of a girl. It is also about the possibility and the limits of language in the telling of a story.  The way Ives writes is not easy.  It is accessible and page turning but it is not easy.  It is less about an economy of form and more about distilling to a core.  Through the way this was written, the feeling of being thirteen, the feeling of being different and only being able to be in one brain and body is transferred and bodily felt. 

This book is a must read.  There is a lot of 90’s ironic nostalgia occurring at this moment.  Read this is you like to participate in that.  More so though, read this if you like how words on a page can make you feel different and if being a human being seems impossible but beautiful. 

I will leave you with another passage.  Go buy this book, read this book, re-read this book and then see how your day will be changed by it. 

When I see anything, I have to think its name.

I have to think, “There is a blue bird with a blue head.” I have to think, “Two painted metal doors each with one pane of glass.”  I have to do this.  I have to think, “Chrissie is staring like her eyes hurt. She is at the desk closest to the wall. I cannot see her hands. Her socks are folded, white.”

In real life, I never do anything.  I let things happen. I watch. On television there is a commercial for a psychic. A live rabbit twitches near a rotary phone. I close the cabinet doors over the screen.

I mostly do what anyone I like tells me.  I don’t know how to discover fate. I see a phrase, “glancing blows.” It’s in a description of a revolution in a textbook, and I have to make a note. I have to say it to myself ten times before I sleep. “Glancing blows.” It is an expression.  It is perfect.  I gather it up. 

Monday, August 12, 2013

Summer Recipes

I’ve cooked a lot in the past couple of days and I have food wheeling through my mind.   Below are some quick summer recipes for you to make for yourself or for your near and dears.   

Asparagus Pesto – I prefer this to standard basil pesto and it has this incredible minty green color and is lighter and more abundant.  – Trim asparagus and break off into 2 inch pieces or so, blanche till tender (get water to a boil and then turn off heat and put whatever vegetable into water for about 1-3 mins), drain, run cold water over asparagus till cool, let sit to dry.  Grate parmesan cheese, crush garlic (2-5 bulbs as you like it), put asparagus, parmesan, garlic, pine nuts, olive oil (as much to have moist), salt, pepper into blender/processor and blend till smooth.  Add more olive oil if dry, you can also add water if you don’t want to have lots of oil.  Serve over fish, pasta or use as a spread. Can be saved in fridge for a few days but not too long as it browns quickly. 

Watermelon Salad – It’s yummy and can be a nice sweet/savory salad with a summer meal.  Cube watermelon to bite size, thinly sliced red onion slivers, scallions chopped, toss with balsamic and a touch of cayenne pepper.  You can add feta or another crumbly soft cheese if you like. 

Greyhound – Fresh grapefruit juice from 1 whole grapefruit, seltzer, vodka, ice.  Makes one serving.

Tomato Tower – Fresh ripe tomatoes in variety of color, similar in size.  Slice into thick sections horizontally.  Layer tomato slices with basil, mozzarella or olive tapenade (pitted olives, garlic, parsley, capers, olive oil, pepper, pureed).  Drizzle with olive oil, balsamic, course salt and pepper. 

Avocado, Coconut Smoothie – Tastes like a milkshake, it’s amazingly filling.  One ripe avocado, chop roughly.  One cold Thai young coconut.  Put avocado, coconut water and meat (white fleshy interior of coconut) into blender.  You can add ice cubes if you want it to be super slushy like. 

Fruit Crumble – All the fresh fruit you can get your hands on.  I prefer, peaches and a variety of berries.  Place in a tart pan or something shallow that can go into the oven.  For the crumble mix uncooked oatmeal, brown sugar, white sugar, soft (not melted) butter, cinnamon. Mix these ingredients by hand until lumpy, crumbly.  Sprinkle on top of fruit.  Cook in oven (preheated to 350 degrees) at 350 degrees for 20 mins or until crumble is brown.  Serve warm or cool.  Great with vanilla ice cream. 

Grilled Corn – If you don’t have a grill or you don’t want to go to the trouble of grilling, this is an easy substitute.  Husk corn, rinse and let dry.  Turn stovetop burner to low/medium heat.  Place corn directly on rack.  Turn often until corn begins to have charring.  I like grilled corn Mexican style(ish).  Spread mayonnaise all over corn, sprinkle with salt and cayenne, squeeze fresh lime juice on top. 

Plantains with Grapefruit Salsa – Fry green plantains; chop off ends, make three slits on skin, peel off hard green skin.  Cut plantain in thick, about inch chunks, diagonally.  Heat pan with grape seed (or another high heat, light oil) until flicking water in the oil makes it sizzle but not too high that it burns food too quickly.  Place plantains in pan and let brown, flip (just once) to brown other side.  Sprinkle with garlic powder as it cooks.  Remove as they are cooked through and place on paper towel to soak up excess oil.  Let cool a bit and smash with spoon to flatten, making round disks.  Salt generously.  For the grapefruit salsa you can make ahead of time and keep in fridge up to a week.  Halve grapefruit horizontally.  Scoop each section out.  Do this over a bowl as the excess juice is good to use.  Mix grapefruit chunks with thinly sliced hot peppers (jalapeno for mild, bon peppers for crazy but good spicy), cilantro, finely chopped scallions.  Serve the salsa cold and top the plantains with it. 

Monday, August 5, 2013

Recommendations, A Quick List

So last week was pretty much insane for me.  So many things decided, things changing, events occurred, people seen, physical ailments felt and a general sprinkling of fun and tiring things.  At the end of it all, I feel amazing.  There is a saying that one of my old mentors used to say, “change is better then rest” and I think of that often as I catapult myself through this whole living thing.  During all this, I have been thinking (duh), looking, reading and being introduced to new things and remembering old things that make me realize how friggin awesome everything can be sometimes.  Below is a list of things I recommend that are in my current purview and cultural/life landscape.  Sorry this is sort of phoned in, it’s summer, it’s August, my brain is on a deserved vacation.  More actual thoughts soon, promise.

Anywhere Or Not At All, Philosophy of Contemporary Art, Osborne, Peter, 2013, Verso – This is a good smart book and Osborne’s writing is quick and at times “art talky” but it is focused and challenging to read.  Not finished with it yet but it’s like brain cross-training on art theory which actually seems to be about this time.  His introduction section is also killer.

K-Hole – An online culture meter that is a downloadable PDF.  It is smart and dry yet funny.  Very uber everything going on in here.

Whole Roasted Chicken – It’s hot for this but yeah, best thing ever.  4-5 lb. free range chicken.  Preheat oven to 450.  Clean/dry very well.  Let sit out to reach room temp.  Salt and pepper generously inside and out.  Cook for about an hour. Perfecto.  – Cooking tips from the one and only Andrew Russeth.

Mineral Water – It’s water with minerals. Refreshing.

Classic Disney Movies – Revisit these.  They are good, kind of crazy, everyone likes a song and some sort of princess/prince/evil something story.

Pentagrams – Sexy and dark.  Did you know that Venus’ orbit around Earth forms a pentagram?  Explains a lot (possibly).

Giant Jar of Kimchi – I buy mine from m2m (morning to midnight) on 3rd Ave.  Only around $6 for a nice big jar.  Also, m2m has a really good udon which you can eat there with a beer from the fridge.  Very Korean style to eat in convenience stores.

Music – I have only recently learned to download music (yes I’m bad at life) anyways… really liking it.  These are the things I have been repeating a lot as I imagine myself as a heroine in New York City: Arca, Manners/ Beyonce, Countdown/ Cold Cave, Double Lives in Single Beds/ Death in June & Boyd Rice, You Love The Sun, Don’t You? / Dubbel Dutch, Self Help Riddim/ Erik Satie, Gymonpedie No. 1 etc/ Fatima Al Qadiri, Corpcore/ Grimes, Visions album/ Icona Pop, I Love It/ Jb3, Forklift/ Jim Jones, Itza/ Kanye West, Bound 2/ Kid A, BB Bleu/ Kindness, House/ Kingdom, Dreama – EP/ Kisses, The Heart of the Nightlife album/ Liz Phair, Dead Shark/ Maria Callas, Parigi, o cara/ Mazzy Star, Fade Into You/ Nirvana, Drain You/ Rihanna, Stay/ Rizzla FADEOB002/ Robyn, Don’t Fucking Tell Me What To Do/ Slava, Raw Solutions/ Sophie, Bipp/Elle.

Lunch Meetings – Let’s talk about art and life and be businessy while doing it.  Sharing food with people one on one is quite possibly the classiest thing to do.  Always, always remember that if you call the meeting, or if it serves your benefit you should always, ALWAYS, pay the bill.  Don’t be tacky.  It can ruin all that chit-chat. 

Cuddling – With everyone. – I have bad skin, as remarked on before.  This regime, which you can buy online via their site or through Amazon, is really-really doing wonders for my bad skin.  Yay!

Histories de Perfume – A friend was wearing their 1969 scent and it had me in a tizzy.  I wear the 1828, love it.  First time in my life I have worn and enjoyed wearing perfume.

Gingerade Kombucha – For a long time I hated all things related to kombucha but this one is refreshing and a cure for hangovers and stomach aches.

Sopranos – Watching for the first time.  Addicted.

Reading people’s thesis/dissertations – Smart friends makes you feel proud and makes you smarter.

Words with Friends – My dad kicks my butt.  But yeah, it’s fun to play even if you get slayed.

Mustard Vinaigrette – Spoonful of Dijon mustard, balsamic, olive oil or grape seed oil, salt pepper.  Makes even the dullest head of lettuce magic.

Cider – It’s sweet but refreshing and it also gets you tipsy.

Slate’s Gabfest Radio – It’s annoying sometimes but it’s one of the best things on radio.

Maison Martin Margiela glasses – I have a pair now.  I feel like a nerd god.  

New York City - I love you, you crazy, crazy place.