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Thursday, January 31, 2013

What to Do When You Don't Know What to Do.

Hi, everyone! Nugget here. I have plenty of compelling (read: terrifying) date stories for you, but that's not what I'm here for. What I'm here for, my friends, is to help YOU. You see, boring dates are just that: boring. EVERYONE goes out for a drink or coffee on the first date, and second date is always dinner or a movie. Why don't we have some fun on our dates? Who said fun wasn't invited? So, here are some ideas for your dates. These are specific to the Bay Area, but some of these things can be found in other areas thanks to your little friend, Google (see? Google can do more than just get you the dirt on your date). For the record, this blog is not sponsored by any of these folks, but it's easier to get out there and do things when you already know when, where, why, and how (all you need is the who!).

  • See ladies shake their stuff and play everyone's favorite no-skill-required game, Bingo! Bacon, Babes, and Bingo, every first Thursday at El Rio in San Francisco. Admission is $10, which includes 3 Bingo cards, and lasts from 7pm to 10pm. For those of you in the East Bay, vegetarians, and/or those that would rather ride bicycles than see half-naked ladies, there's Bicycle Bingo every Thursday from 7pm to 9pm at Actual Cafe in Berkeley. Admission is free, and games are $3 per card or 5 cards for $10.
  • Climb things. In a harness. Spandex optional. There are TONS of climbing gyms in the Bay Area, and all of them have an intro to climbing class. It's a great way to do something active, do something that requires you to work together, and get a good look at your date's booty without being creepy about it. If you're near the Mission, Oakland, Berkeley or Concord (or Sacramento, San Jose or Fresno), Touchstone Climbing has a place for you! If you're near the Presidio (or Portland, Belmont, or Sunnyvale), Planet Granite has you covered! At most gyms, $30 will get you the intro class, a day pass, and all the gear you need. If you're scared of heights or just don't want to be tied down, all gyms have bouldering as well, which is a rope-free form of climbing  that takes you only about 10-15 feet above ground, and utilizes a crash pad. Added bonus: you don't have to take a class for bouldering.
  • Explore a new neighborhood and get great photos while doing it! Stray Boots has scavenger hunts that use your smart phone (or texting on your flip phone, but it might be time to upgrade already!) to give you clues that take you around the city (they also have several other cities, like Boston, Chicago, Las Vegas, LA, Miami, Nashville, New Orleans, New York, Philadelphia, Portland, San Diego, Seattle, Washington DC, and even the UK). Each hunt is $12/person, and takes about 3 hours to complete. San Francisco neighborhoods include Chinatown, Fisherman's Wharf, Union Square and North Beach. Plan to bring some cash for a snack, you'll be hungry afterward!
  • What's better than having a whole trampoline to yourself? Having a whole room of trampolines! House of Air is a trampoline house with a lounge and, for those of you that are feeling extra brave, a trampoline dodge ball room. Tickets are $16 an hour, and they're open until 9pm most weeknights, and 10pm on Friday and Saturday.
  • Glass blowing and beer? Yes, please! For $25, you can go to Hot Glass, Cold Beer, a monthly event at Public Glass. Each month, a featured artist does a glass blowing demonstration. Afterward, you get to choose your own hand crafted glass to keep, and sip your wine or beer out of it! party fouls.
  • Museums can be boring. There, I said it. But the Academy of Science has interactive science exhibits, an aquarium (complete with giant octopus and an albino alligator), a natural history wing, an amazon rainforest, a planetarium, and a living roof! Who wants to elbow their way through sticky children to see some African penguins, though? Well, you don't have to, because every Thursday is Nightlife, their weekly 21+ night, complete with pop up restaurants, a theme, and, of course, alcohol, all for $12!
  • Everyone likes to ride bikes. Why not ferry on over to Sausalito and ride one built for two?  For $25 (or $10 an hour for a regular road bike), you can rent a tandem bike at Sausalito Bike Rentals, or bring your own on the Sausalito Ferry for just $9.75. See the houseboats, ride Golden Gate Bridge, or just cruise around and enjoy the sunshine (the bike rental place can give you a map, or you can find one here).
  • Ride some ponies! This one's a little pricey, so save it for someone special. For $80, Chaparral will get you a two-hour horseback trail ride in Ed Levine Park. If you want to really step up the game, you can do a beach ride in Monterey for $100 per person.
  • Always wanted to learn to paint, but need a little encouragement? Wine and Canvas is here to help! Each week they have events throughout the Bay Area, and for $35-$45, you'll get full instruction and all materials to make a masterpiece (as well as an apron to keep you looking fresh). It's unclear whether beverages are included, so be sure to bring a little extra if you're planning to drink and paint. If you don't drink, they also have Cookies and Canvas events!
  •  Don't do well with instruction? Strike out on your own at the farmer's market! California has year-round farmer's markets, and there are tons any day of the week in the Bay Area. You can wander and eye the fresh produce, sip on some local coffee, grab a bite to eat at the food vendors that attend many markets, or even pick up a few things to bring home and cook up with your date, or bring along to a picnic spot!
  •  Wanting to stretch your legs? There are plenty of hiking trails to get lost on in the Bay Area. My favorite is Redwood in Oakland thanks to the banana slugs, but you're less than an hour away from both beach and mountain trails, with anything in between. Most parks charge a parking fee or a small admission fee, but I've never paid more than $10. Don't want to get too dirty? Hiking Yoga will take you on a guided urban hike for $20 per person, stopping at local parks and parklets for frequent yoga breaks. If you're lucky enough to get owner Eric, he used to be a San Francisco tour guide, and provided you can keep up with his 6'+ tall stride, he'll give you plenty of information on the city!
  • Want the view without all the work? Berkeley's Campanile, or bell tower, is only $2 per person, and boasts amazing views of the Bay Area. Afterward, catch a performance at Zellerbach Hall, or if the date's going really well, cruise up to Grizzly Peak for a good ol' make out session.
  • Two words that every Bay Area resident is quite familiar with: food trucks. There are several food truck parks in San Francisco, including the StrEat Food park in SoMa, and the roving  Off the Grid (which you can sometimes catch on Thursday nights just outside of the Academy of Science for a two-for-one date!). In Oakland, the craziness of Art Murmur is toned down a little at the Oakland Museum of Art's First Friday celebration with a food truck park, music, beer, wine, and half off admission.
  • I have never, ever been a fan of movies on the first (or really, any early date). However, Castro Theatre is about to change my mind on all of that, because...they have sing-a-longs! You can dress up like your favorite character, drag your date along and sing your little heart out. They even give you prop bags to interact with the movie! If you're not the singing type, The Darkroom does a monthly bad movie heckling ala Mystery Science Theater 3000 that you can shout, boo, and laugh along to for only $6.99.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Imparting Wisdom: Back-Up Girlfriends and Never Shit Where You Drink

Just last night, I was hanging out at my favorite bar with a good friend.  We were chatting, laughing, having a drink and my friend introduces me to someone she knows.  This woman seemed nice enough, albeit she was a bit tipsy and somewhat intrusive of our conversation but she was friendly and we knew some of the same people (there's that Lesbionic Six-Degrees of Separation again).  As my friend is introducing us, she informs me that Drunk Girl is the girlfriend of one of the bartenders there and, I swear to god, not more than 10 minutes later, Drunk Girl is picking out names for our future children and asking me if I would consider going on a date with her.

Drunk Girl: If I were single would you consider going on a date with me?
Me: Yeah, maybe.
Drunk Girl: What would we do on this date?
Me: Oh I don't know, why don't you ask your girlfriend for some ideas and let me know?

Drunk Girl: What would our children's names be?
Me: I don't know, what names do you think your girlfriend would like?

Drunk Girl: I'm allergic to cats, so I guess we can't get married.
Me: I imagine that your girlfriend would agree too.

Drunk Girl: You find me attractive.  I can tell.
Me: You think so?  You've got to bring more to this table for me to find you attractive. 

After this went on for about an hour, my friend and I decided it was time to leave but Drunk Girl started begging me to give her "just a minute" alone.  I resisted and my friend was giving me very strong "don't do anything stupid" looks, but I agreed to have one last cigarette before I left; whatever Drunk Girl wanted to say, I figured she could say it in the time it takes me to finish my fag.
Drunk Girl went on to tell me that three days earlier, she and her girlfriend "almost broke up".  She told me that her therapist is trying to convince her to break up with her girlfriend.  And she was bemoaning the fact that she wasn't single right at that very moment because she finds me "so attractive" and really wanted to go out with me.  Clearly, she was looking for me to convince her to break it off with her girlfriend while reassuring her that I would, in fact, go out with her.  Isn't that just like girls too? - They're never strong enough to end things without having a back-up girlfriend already lined up. (P.S. Girls like that give women a bad name.)
I was having none of that.  I told Drunk Girl that her relationship is for her to navigate on her own.  We are nothing to each other but strangers and for god's sake, don't make any life-altering decisions just because you want to take me on a date.  I wanted to tell her that it's not my policy to "shit where I eat", but I thought best to leave that alone; I had already made my point.  But can you imagine??  As if I'm going to be the jerk who steals the head bartender's live-in girlfriend of three years?  I'd never get service in my favorite bar again!  
My advice to all you other hopeless daters (and trust me on this, it is sage advice): (1) Don't ever settle for being someone's back-up girlfriend; and (2) never, ever, ever shit where you eat drink.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Desperate Behavior, Haunted Houses and Apologies

It's no secret that, ever since my breakup with Glamazon several months ago, I've been reeling with heavy emotions.  I've struggled to find myself again, to love myself again, to re-learn who I am after having my world so changed by a (seemingly) storybook romance, a deeply felt love and the hope of forever, only to have it so violently turned inside out, upside down and then left by the side of the Autoroute Romantique like road kill.  It's been shear and utter hell… and that was just on my good days. 
I've searched for answers:  Why?  How?  Was it real?  Did she love me?  What did I mean to her?  What do I mean to her now?  Why did she choose to have an affair?  Why did she choose to leave instead of fighting for our relationship?  Did I drive her away? 
I've searched for pain relief:  Therapy.  Distractions.  Watching movies.  Listening to music.  Crying jags that seem to last an eternity.  Sketching.  Reading self-help books on love and relationships.  Writing.  Dating again.  Social activities. 
I've searched for closure:  Disposing of or returning the relics of our life together.  Trying to engage in a dialogue with Glamazon which was met with the sound of crickets.

The absolute worst part of all of this searching (besides that's it's all been in vain)?  I fear the perception is that it's all been the behavior of a crazy person.  Let me explain.  When my former love decided to leave once and for all, she was clear that she needed space from me in order to move on and to heal from all the damage that we had done to each other.  There were no answers or explanations for what had happened between us.  She simply said "I'm sorry," "I love you," and "Please give me space.  I need to not communicate with you (for now)".  And I was left with What the fuck just happened?  But we were so happy.
I was left all alone in the home we shared together with all of my feelings of love, confusion, deeply-felt pain, anger, abandonment, betrayal, loneliness, fear, facing an unknown future and putting together the mysteries of her deception and untruths.  That's an awful lot to dump on someone you once shared such intense love with.  And for someone such as myself who resides in their head about eighty-five percent of the time, all of those emotions, coupled with absolutely no answers, no dialogue, no closure, no contact… well, it made me about eighty-five percent crazy.  I couldn't escape all of the memories, the what-if's, and the vast empty void that she left behind when she vacated our home.  The walls seemed to be haunted with her presence.  Everything she touched had a memory.  And even today, I still find little things she left behind: hair ties still tangled with strands of her hair, her puffy black jacket that I still wear when it's chilly, chocolate chips left behind in the cupboard which she used in my fruit salad, a pair of socks that she had given me on Easter.  Everything is her.  Everything seems to whisper (or scream) her name.  Everything is a memory, a trigger and a feeling.

All that is not to say that, despite all of my own feelings, I don't understand her position.  I can't relate to it (it's just simply not how I operate), but I can kind of understand it.  I imagine that she's dealing with her own demons, her own shame, her own feelings about what happened and her own feelings about me.  I imagine that she's also trying to forge ahead in a relationship with the woman she left me for.  I think I get it - rather than hashing out the why's and how's and the accompanying feelings, I imagine that she wants to refocus, look ahead towards a less painful future, not dwell on all the hurt she's caused and not look back at the wake of damage she left behind with her romantic hit-and-run.  But could I let her do that?  Nope.  And why not?  Because I am lost.  There, I said it.  I am lost.

I haven't revealed that to many, except for Glamazon and a handful of my closest.  Not only am I a prideful perfectionist (which makes admitting character flaws and weaknesses a challenge) but I also felt that my feelings for and about Glamazon should be reserved for her only.  The members of my inner-most circle have seen me, heard me, held me, protected me and loved me but mostly, I've tried to keep a stiff upper lip.  I've pretended to be fine.  I've pretended to move on.  I've pretended that I don't care.  And I've refused to talk with anyone outside of my inner circle about what really happened between us.  This has done me absolutely no good.  So here I am: telling the world (or the small number of you who graciously humor me with your reads): I am the walking wounded.  I am lost.  I am heartbroken.  And I miss my love ever so much. 
I'm trying to move on with my life; I have made hundreds of mistakes in doing so but I'm learning as I go.  I have e-mailed and texted her a handful of times even after she asked me not to.  And true to her word, she refused to reply, to engage or to communicate.  So I'm trying to move on with my life without answers, without resolution and without closure.  I am really fucking it up but I keep on trying.  And I'm telling the world, in the hopes that this, my "message in a bottle", will make its way back to Glamazon somehow: I'm sorry.  I'm sorry for the hundreds of mistakes I've made.  They are the mistakes of a lost soul, a heartbroken lover and a walking wounded soldier of love, and I'm sorry for not honoring your request for absolute silence.  But more than anything, I'm sorry if any of my actions, reactions and communications have led you to believe that I don't respect you, love you or want happiness for you.
I want to give special thanks to my inner-most circle who have truly been there these last several months.  I don't know where I'd be without you holding me up day in and day out.  Thanks especially to Gay Husband and Dirty Mistress for your love, decidedly non-judgmental support, your listening ears, your strong shoulders and your encouragement.  And an extra special, king-sized thank you to my incredible little sister who has more on her plate than any mere mortal can handle and yet manages all of her shit and mine with strength, grace, and dignity.