A Summer of Relative Zen

“I am what I am, and that’s all that I am.” — Popeye the Sailor Man

It’s almost the end of the month, and I like posting here at least that often. Partly for my sanity (whatever there is of it) and partly so it doesn’t seem like I abandoned the blog. Far from it. I’ve been busy with work, both my day job and my night job writing about comic books for a website. But it may be worth it to compare myself with where I was one, two, and three years ago. This is the 3rd anniversary of the blog, after all!

It’s officially been a year since the last website I wrote for closed down, and I must say I like the new online digs better. The money’s about the same — not much. But I feel more important, with a more hands on editor there. I’m one of the stars of the website, providing a bulk of material. I feel appreciated, not another cog in a machine. It took losing the previous website to realize just how much I enjoyed writing about my hobby in a semi-professional manner. In addition, I survived my day job’s restructuring last year as well, and while I am technically working for a new company, it’s run and owned by the same people (for the most part). Things certainly don’t seem as troubling as they were last July.

In terms of my endless angst about being the Dateless-Man, an end may be in sight. No, I haven’t found anyone or tried dating again. The day that happened, everyone who reads the blog would know — it’ll be the day there’s a nuclear holocaust or some other world shattering disaster. But, once again, compared to July 2016, and especially July 2014, I feel in a different place. In August 2014 I wrote an installment called, “Another summer of Discontent,” and while it’s only 3 years ago it feels like much longer to me. What felt like a raw gaping wound in my soul which would trigger pain sporadically no longer seems to be there. It’s another sign that my search for “Zen” — just not giving a damn about being a single eternal virgin — is closer than it has ever been. That’s been a theme to 2017 which I haven’t minded at all.

I wouldn’t exactly say I am happy or gleeful about my status. Occasionally there are pangs of regret, or twinges of, “wouldn’t be nice to ____” and so on. But so far it hasn’t led to any emotional cycles. While this saps a lot of will for angst-posting, it is better for my mental health. I’ve either come to accept my lot in life as the Dateless-Man, or I’m too comfortable to risk change. Either way, the difference is more in semantics. I have entertained potential near interest in giving OK Cupid another try (as I’m not really the type for app/swipe type online dating, most of all since I lack a consistent iPhone device), but nothing beyond that. I still don’t think I have the will, the drive, or the time to devote the time I need to make that work. And that’s alright. Maybe it’s accepting a negative self image to my core at long last, but so far the only symptoms are less emotional despair and no longer giving a damn (or at least as much of one) about this particular area of my life. I’ve lived without fulfilling this area of my life for so long that the lack of it no longer seems foreign or alien. It’s just part of me, like the lipoma on my back or the freckles on my skin. I probably care more about the comic book article I am putting off writing to post here than about whether or not I will still be alone by Labor Day. I KNOW I’ll be alone on Labor Day. There’s no mystery. What else would I be doing, holding court at a bordello? Now what’ll I be having for dinner on Labor Day, that’s the question.

This era of not giving a damn feels like looking at things through new eyes. I look back at a lot of my past memories and exploits, misadventures and failings with women, and kind of wish I didn’t take it so serious. I wish I’d have had that attitude back then. “Oh, she’s not interested? Of course she’s not. Who cares. What’s in the vending machine?” That attitude would have been SO much better in college than me moping for years because of jocks and stoners. Maybe I didn’t need confidence to ask women out; maybe I just needed to not give a damn when and if they rejected me. Unfortunately, I think I have reached this state at a time and place in my life where I don’t have the energy or location to pursue anything romantically.

It’s totally possible that my newfound Zen is just a layer of emotional defense mechanism I’ve managed to seal myself into for years. It’s very possible that the first hard rejection on the dating scene could crush me like it did in college. I don’t know, and I am not in a rush to find out. All I do know is College-Dateless-Man hadn’t lived through what current Dateless-Man has. He wasn’t a social worker for a while, then unemployed. He didn’t go to the mat helping his disabled mom keep his grandma out of a nursing home to die in peace for years. He didn’t take a sales job out of sheer desperation and then prove to be totally okay at it. He didn’t get the chance to make some cash and earn a few convention press passes typing about the hobby he loves for years. Maybe the only difference is that College-Dateless-Man hadn’t lost enough or struggled enough to realize there was more to suffer in life than being lonely. I accept that whatever a woman is looking for in a lover, that isn’t me. That doesn’t mean I have to be sad, or angry, or bitter about that. I spend a while giving a damn about it, and it sucked. Now I’m kind of done, at least for now.

This is the blog’s 3rd anniversary and I don’t plan to stop now. There are some topics I’d like to broach when I have more time. As well as there being no way of knowing what the future holds. For all I know I could save a hobo on the subway tracks, become Internet famous and suddenly have women asking me out. It’s as likely as anything else. For now this blog acts as a safety net, and maybe having one after all this time in life has made that tightrope a little easier to manage. Thanks for all the readers and commentors! That potential for an audience, whether small or large, proved to be the last element getting me to put thoughts to paper about my love life (or lack thereof) years ago when I’d never been able to do so before. And that, along with just getting older, has done me some net good. The path ahead, just not bearing so much of that weight from years past, already looks a little bit brighter than it did in 2016.