Blog hosting news

Good news everyone:

This blog is now fully hosted on its own server, here:

www.soloinvan.com

Still the same WordPress blog you know and love, but no more WordPress.com.

Again, that’s www.soloinvan.com

Read me there.

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Heads up: I’m making some changes to the blog.

This has been fun so far, and it’s going to get to be a lot more fun soon. I’m changing up my hosting services courtesy of the guys at http://www.chasenetworks.ca so I’ll no longer be hosted on WordPress.com

It should be a seamless transition, but if there’s a bit of time during which the site is down, you’ll know why.

The blog’s web address will remain www.soloinvan.com

Looking forward to having all of you guys read me at my new home.

All the best…

Posted in Not Dating Related, Stuff to do instead of going on dates, The Basics | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Oops, Unintentional Vacation.

I’m back!

This last week has been rather trying. Challenge after challenge, test after test. I’m not even sure I passed, but I’m trying and that’s about all I can do. Calling it a rough string of days would be an understatement.

That said, I’ve found a new upside to this whole non-dating thing. I’m not accountable to anyone, so I’m free to deal with my problems in whatever way helps me fastest and most appropriately. There are no issues with the significant other, there are no disagreements over which solution is best, I can simply forge ahead and get shit done. As an added bonus, no one’s dragged down with me, should I fail miserably and become a huge loser. That kind of freedom is priceless.

But last night, I cracked. I couldn’t sleep, couldn’t eat, had a cold, was freezing, and went through a career-related meltdown. I was hopeless and the situation was pathetic. Sitting on my bed, freezing, curled up in a down comforter, I ended up grabbing a pillow and passing out. I woke up 4 hours later, totally snuggling said pillow. And that’s when it hit me:

Relationships aren’t just good when things are good. They’re good when things are bad.

While I’ve always pictured a proper relationship as a meeting of equals that helps both parties go further, the truth is that sometimes, a proper relationship involves one party supporting the other through stuff that would be nearly impossible to deal with solo. Having been not-dating for 3 months now, I honestly couldn’t think of a time where I wished I was dating someone, until I woke up clutching a pillow, alone, cold, and worried. I’d have done nearly anything for that pillow to be a person.

Again, my apologies for having taken some time off.

Posted in Dating, Jobs, Life, The Complicated Stuff | Tagged , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Unintended Consequences… Maybe?

Originally, I had this written as a 3000 word post, going into such varied things as feminist theory, gender relations, the workplace, dating, all culminating into a grand finish that tied it all back to Vancouver. Then I realized a couple of things:

  • I’ve completely lost any knowledge of feminist theory that university electives may have granted me
  • This blog isn’t about 3000 word essays, it’s about me, my personal experiences, my opinions, and so on.

So I dumped the 3000 word blog post and started over again.

The biggest reason for this entire experiment was to get to know myself. Through doing that, the thinking was that I’d be able to improve myself, make my own life better, thus making me more likely to hold up my end of a relationship. These are all what I’d consider to be “good” goals. As it turns out, part of my process involves reflecting on some of my undergrad learnings, mixed in with some current musings on female-male relationships and societal status, in an effort to understand just where I stand, what I need to do, what I need to improve, and what I need to change. What I didn’t intend was to have to consider my own place within society as a whole, but hey, things change.

What initially got me thinking were two opinion pieces published in newspapers that like to think of themselves as “Canada’s paper of record.” Of course, we all know that the National Post is no such thing and only serves to deliver Conrad Black’s hilarious column to us, whenever the US prison he’s in allows him to send one to Post Media. Links to the articles in question: Margaret Wente in the Globe & Mail and Kelly McParland in the National Post. 

The piece in the Post is written as somewhat of a response to the initial article, and to make things easier for you, here’s a very short idiot’s guide* to both of them.

Globe: “Women are now earning more than men, more ambitious, pretty much just better, but still expect EVERYTHING from men that they did in the 1950s and are disappointed when they can’t find it. Men aren’t very good at dealing with changing gender roles, are intimidated by successful women, and that affects dating.”

Post: “Changing gender roles have liberated men, to the point where they can now be stay-at-home dads and earn less than their wives. They’re no longer handcuffed by societal expectations and are free to do as they wish, finally! Except society doesn’t respect mens’ newfound opportunities and roles. Oh, and we should change family law to better reflect this new reality. Changes in gender roles will likely have unintended consequences to a lot more than just equality.”

* Idiot’s Guide is my super quick and dirty resume of both articles. You’re better off reading them, but we both know you likely won’t.

That’s the basic gist of it, so let’s get abstract. The single biggest change in society, over the past 50 or so years, has been the rapid change in traditional gender roles, particularly as they affect women. What that means is that things are now a lot more “equal” than they used to be. It’s far from perfect, but so far as I can tell it’s significantly better. This is great, and it’s how it should be. What we haven’t changed, however, are societal expectations for gender roles, as they affect relationships. What that means is that while most of us tend to have no issue considering men and women equal in the workplace, we see life, relationships, and dating as a much different story.

In hindsight, my last date before I started this whole Solo in Van blog thing was textbook. Two of us, both in our mid-late twenties, well-educated, working, equals in every way really. Granted we had studied different things, but all that really had as an effect was to keep conversation interesting. We had a few drinks, ate some, had more drinks, hit a second bar, had more drinks, talked, and then headed our separate ways. A fun evening to be sure, and, if I’m honest, a rather costly evening as well. But costly only for one of us. Despite our equal status in every way, we weren’t actually equal that night. I got bills, and she didn’t. I made all the plans, she didn’t. I opened doors, she didn’t. I let her use my umbrella when it started raining, and all of this despite her asking me out. I suppose this is where the chivalry argument is made, but I’m sorry, it doesn’t work that way. Or at least it wouldn’t, if things were fair and equal.

Going back to more general terms, I think the initial prompt for my year off dating, “Do Vancouver Men Suck?” makes more sense to me now. Vancouver’s a great place with many intelligent, educate, well-employed women. It’s also a leisure city, where your job matters less than your activities outside work. Finally, it’s a city where the leisure industry has really taken hold of industry and work. Tourism, retail, sports, outdoor pursuits, etc, it’s all here. I can’t count the number of restaurant ownership groups, fashion and food PR firms, advertising agencies, cycling companies, snowboard companies, outdoor apparel companies, and so on, that have their home bases in Vancouver. This isn’t a “business” city, it’s a “fun-stuff-that-we-turned-into-business” city. It’s a city that’s awesome if you want to be a videogame programmer or the head of Marketing for Cactus Club, and it’s awesome if you’re a guy that’s not only ultra comfortable with himself, not only confident, but also surrounded by women who understand what’s going on. There’s absolutely not a thing wrong with any of that, but I think it puts Vancouver near the forefront of a huge change: a reversal in traditional gender roles. And that, I’m afraid, not only has huge implications for dating, but also life in general. If I remember the feminist theories I studied as part of a few university courses, there were never any mentions of potentially negative or annoying side effects. I’ll leave you with a story:

I once harbored thoughts of working in PR, an industry that it turns out is dominated by women. During one info session at a particularly huge Vancouver firm, I was flat out told by a female managing director that “having a penis is a bonus for you, since we don’t have enough guys in the industry.” Nevermind that I now knew what it felt like to be discriminated against due to my gender (turned out she was wrong, my dick just got in the way), but the time I spent dealing with firms, PR people, and such was an eye-opening experience in other important ways. It made me realize that I had no real interest in PR, and also that we, as a society, no longer value ambition. Instead, we seem to have turned the world into a giant KinderGarten.

But more on that next time…

Posted in Dating, Life, Stuff to do instead of going on dates, The Complicated Stuff | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

1’s Not the Loneliest Number, Except When It Is

There’s nothing lonelier than being on the front page of a newspaper and not being able to tell anyone it’s you. I always thought that when I finally did get a cover, I’d be able to take it to the bar, autograph it, and use it as a convenient way to give my number to good-looking women. “Hey, yeah, this is me, on the cover. My number’s on there too, just in case…” Of course I haven’t been doing any of that, because I’d obviously blow my anonymity up, which would just be tragic. This is one of those hypocritical moments for me though. You know the kind, everyone has them and they’re usually the ones that people use against you whenever a contentious issue pops up. As much I’ve wanted covers and interviews and fame, I’ve never actually wanted the fame that comes with them. Fame is fleeting, it’s overrated, and in a world where all you need to do to be famous is live on a beach in New Jersey and get drunk 7 nights/week, fame doesn’t seem like much of an accomplishment any more. Really, it’s become something to avoid. So, it’s probably better that this is anonymous. It’s certainly going to stay that way for quite a long time. There’s that tiny part of me that wishes I could take advantage of the coverage a little bit more, but there’s the vast majority of me that’s happy I’m not. It’s classically contradictory, but the “what ifs” are interesting.

It hasn’t been a fantastic weekend, mostly because I’ve found myself to be a bit down. It happens, but it’s all in how you deal with it. Saturday was riding bikes with a friend, discussing life philosophies, appreciating Vancouver for the wonderful natural beauty that it is, and generally having a good time. We even made time for a beer on the beach, though that’s not really legal so I suppose I can’t go into detail. It was a good way to spend a couple of hours re-focusing. Sunday, on the other hand, was a day to put together new blog post ideas and start writing, which you’re seeing here. I had the chance to have dinner with another friend, which was entertaining as her dating stories are always a laugh, but most of all, it’s nice to sit around with someone who knows what you’re up to and with whom you can chat away about it.

So things have calmed down a bit. That’s good. Keep expecting some interesting stuff to read, I’ll keep delivering it. Next up, in no particular order: a response to your blog comments. I don’t always have a chance to respond to every individual comment, so I’m going to try to publish an occasional grab-bag of answers. It’s easier, faster, and enables me to find and address some common themes. I’ll also be putting together a “What about the sex?” blog post that addresses a lot of the stuff that’s come up in regards to that, including some of the more interesting emails. I do read the comments, so keep them coming.

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It’s Time we Have THE Talk…

Yes, THAT talk. The sex talk. You know the one, where your parents sit you down, tell you how fun pre-marital sex is, but also that it can be risky, and that you should protect yourself every time? No? Didn’t have that chat with your mom and dad when you were a kid? It’s weird? Most parents are really awkward about it and have a tough time with it all? Hmmm, well then…

I’ve never had a tough time with sex. It’s sex. You talk about it, you have it, or you don’t. If you do, you keep it as safe as possible and you’re respectful. Done. Maybe that’s partly due to my “talk” with mom and dad, which was pretty much exactly as described above. At the root of it, sex is pretty simple. The complicated part is, as usual, human beings. Thinking usually just makes it confusing and ends up screwing it up (HA!).

So no dating for 366 days means no dates, no asking anyone out, no girlfriend, nothing but focusing on myself for 366 days. But what does that mean for sex? The short answer is that I only sleep with people I’m dating, so it means no sex. For 366 days.

The long answer is that I’m a lying hypocrite. I’ve slept with people I wasn’t dating. Multiple times. One night stands? Yes, I have, and I even enjoyed them. I even once had a relationship that existed solely because we thought the sex was good. When I decided to not date and do this blog, I honestly never thought about sex. It wasn’t an issue because I forgot to consider it. Turns out I should have. Healthy, safe sex is something we need, as humans. The touch, the fun, the feelings, the sweating, it’s all great and it’s all necessary. So when I discussed it with a few friends, I came to the conclusion that I had an out: accidental one-night stands.

Except that it’s not an out. It’s a cop-out. It’s a way of getting the fun part of what I want (sex), without commitment to the hard parts of what I need (a stable, healthy me + relationship). So what does that mean? I’m not sure. Part of me believes that I should swear off sex for 366 days. Part of me thinks that’s an incredibly stupid idea but that since I’d rather only sleep with people I’m dating, it’s probably how it’s going to happen. But the last part of me is thinking that if an accidental one night stand were to happen, it wouldn’t be a big deal.

The thing is, one night stands are a lot like having a bowl full of cake icing: occasionally awesome but probably not something I want to do on a regular basis. Likewise, I don’t want to have a relationship without the sex, because that’s basically eating cake without any icing on it, so it’s dry, crumbly, and not really all that good. Ideally, I want an unreasonable amount of both, combined.

All of this to come to a lame conclusion: I don’t know if 366 days of no dating means no sex. I really don’t. So here’s where YOU get to add your opinion into the mix. I’ve putting together a poll, you can hit me up on Twitter, you can email me, and in a couple days from now I’ll write a follow up blog post in regards to what I’ve decided.

Posted in Dating, Life, The Complicated Stuff, Uncategorized, Why? | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

“I hate Vancouver, it’s so (insert obvious and likely poorly thought out reason here).”

There are a lot of things wrong with Vancouver. It’s insanely expensive, the real estate market now functions as nothing more than a stock exchange, it’s a bit of a cultural backwater, jobs are nearly impossible to find, dating is a nightmare, and the city lacks many of the amenities and opportunities available in, say, New York. Don’t believe what you read in The Economist; this isn’t nearly as livable a city as they’d have you believe. Nor is it as unlivable and awful as many would like you to think.

Every other week, Vancouver’s arts community has a new cause to rally around. And fair enough, because every other week something that amounts to a crime is committed to Vancouver’s arts and culture scene. Vancouver was never a city that properly supported its vital, independent art scene, and it’s getting worse. The Playhouse just closed, after 49 years of being a hub of culture in this city. We’ve got important independent theatres closing, and in general, it’s hard to partake in “culture” here, unless it involves the Vancouver Art Gallery. Even worse, there’s a distinct lack of understanding around “culture,” and a belief that it not only can be, but should be profitable in order to exist. In other words, culture covers its own costs. If only that were the case…

It isn’t, of course, but you knew that. Vancouver is like no other city I’ve ever lived in or spent much time in. If you don’t WANT IT here, it’s simply not going to happen. If you don’t LOVE IT, it’s not happening. And if you don’t MAKE IT happen, it’s not going to. You need to WORK IT out here, and it’s hard. So many things are working against you, from affordability to general lack of interest to a hugely important and completely ignored class-segregation issue. But none of it is insurmountable.

Vancouver’s still a very young city, and that manifests itself in the arts scene. It’s something you also see in the way people relate with each other, including dating. So let’s try something new: start coming up with solutions, rather than just bitching, complaining, and not doing anything about it.

Me? I’m starting with myself. Hence this blog. I can work on everything else once I’ve fixed me.

Posted in Dating, Life, The Basics | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment