by myself at a comedy show

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After skipping a weekend of dating myself to hang out with my niece and nephew, I was surprised to find that I missed it. Don’t get me wrong, I love spending time with the kids. But I have begun to look forward to taking myself out.

This past Friday night, pumped up with two weeks of anticipation, I headed back out to Niagara Falls for my fourth date by myself. My all-time favourite place to go on a date (and the one I was most dreading doing alone) is located in the lower level of Casino Rama: Yuk Yuk’s comedy club.

These photos were taken moments before a security guard yelled at me for taking photos in a casino:

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As was my plan all along, I positioned myself at a small round table directly in front of the stage. I ordered myself a ginger ale and a water and got cozy while the club began to fill. Soon Anthony Mlekuz, the host for the evening, burst on stage and I felt myself stiffen slightly. I had been remarkably calm leading up to the show, sipping my drinks and taking in my surroundings, but the stage was small, I was sitting directly in front of it, and my natural line of view fell neatly on his crotch. Things had just gotten a little awkward.

I consciously pulled my eyes up to his face just in time to catch the punch line of his first joke about elderly women finding him sexy. He got a big laugh, reached out and high-fived me four times, then settled back on stage and proclaimed: “she’s got two drinks and nobody’s sitting with her, ladies and gentlemen!” Another big laugh.

He started to get in to his second joke but got side tracked instead. “Seriously, why are you still sitting alone? Did you come here by yourself?”

“Yep.”

“And you sat in the front row?”

“Yep.”

“Can I just get a clap for the weirdest fucking thing ever!” Laughter and applause were followed by a moment of pause as he looked me over curiously. “I don’t even know what to do with this, it has literally never happened before.” Then he moved on. It was the gentlest razzing I’d ever experienced from a comedian. It was funny and easy and I was left to enjoy the rest of the show untouched. Brilliant!

The first act was mediocre but the headlining comic, Chris Quigley, was outstanding. I was so relaxed toward the end of the show I began using the laugh I reserve for when nobody is around. There was snorting, knee-slapping, dribble may or may not have run down my chin at one point. I was having so much fun I did not give a single shit.

I left the club feeling so light and happy I didn’t want the evening to be over yet. Oh, hello SkyWheel!

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After a lovely ride in pod number 22 of this luxurious wheel – where I forgot people outside the glass could see me and accidentally flashed my green panties to the kids in the neighbouring pod by putting my feet up – I decided I still wasn’t ready to call it a night.

Someone had recently told me about a bar in the Fallsview Casino, the R5 Lounge. They described it as sexy and classy and the perfect place to bring a really good date. I could think of no one else I would rather take.

Fun fact about me: I will walk great distances to avoid paying for parking. In this scenario, the long and scenic walk added to the overall magic of the evening.

Very happy I had chosen to wear a dress, I sidled up to the bar of easily the sexiest establishment I had ever entered. I ordered a virgin cocktail. The bartender whipped me up a delightful concoction of mango, strawberry, and unicorn kisses (I’m assuming). By this time I felt so wonderful I decided I deserved a reward. Oh, hello late-night dessert menu!

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I’m pretty sure I was just floating around on a cloud of hearts and butterflies; it was without a doubt the best date I’ve ever been on. But something completely bizarre happened after I left the bar and began walking back to my car. Amid a crowd of drunken tourists, I noticed a little old man waiting at the crosswalk. I linked my arm in his and said hello. He smiled and we walked across the road together. At the other side, we said good evening and parted ways.

I have never done anything like this before in my life. I’m not entirely sure where the hell that came from.

The only explanation I could come up with for this spontaneous act is that I was so completely full of love for myself some of it actually overflowed and splashed onto a random stranger. Come to think of it, ever since that night I have been more patient and kind and compassionate to everyone I’ve encountered. I’ve even been driving better.

Huh. I may have stumbled on to something.

-EC

by myself at a festival

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After plans to meet a friend fell through Saturday afternoon, I began my third date by myself at the Midsummer’s Dream festival of colour, in Hamilton.

According to its website, the festival was inspired by the principles of an ancient Hindu festival called “Holi,” intended to celebrate the triumph of good over evil and the renewal of spring. From where I was standing, it seemed like an excellent excuse for a lot of people to get extraordinarily dirty. Sign me up.

I quickly got my bearings and wasted no time jumping into the mess. Armed with six small bags of coloured powder, I pushed to the middle of the large crowd. As the first musical guests chanted in Sanskrit, we pressed together and waited for the countdown. When it happened, it didn’t matter that I was wearing sunglasses or that I’d pulled my scarf over my face, that shit got everywhere. It was in my eyes, ears, mouth, and up my nose. It found every crevice. Eventually, of course, I had to use the ladies’ room and then the powder got… everywhere else.

This colour-throwing ritual, which represents how different cultural backgrounds can come together as one, repeated every half hour. Here are some photos of me gradually acclimating to my surroundings:

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Aside from music and colour, there was plenty more to see and do. I contentedly explored the tea lounge, the craft vendor market, the do-it-yourself creativity tent, and the large yogafest.

In the creativity tent, I sat and made myself a brightly-coloured ankle bracelet while chatting with a woman and her daughter. “What do you think this festival represents?” I asked her. “I think it’s just a celebration of love and friendship and equality,” she replied. Yeah, I can get behind that.

I somehow managed to score a free coconut by flashing my brightest smile and asking the man how much it was for pretty girls. Wow. I’m embarrassed how easily that worked.

I don’t particularly like yoga, but I did enjoy the soft music and the soothing voice of the instructor, so I laid next to them under a tree and drank my coconut. Life is good.

I wandered around aimlessly, occasionally engaging in playful colour fights with strangers, spontaneously plopping my ass on the grass to chug water, and randomly contributing to passing conversations. “Am I pink, orange, or blue right now?” A young girl asked her friend. “All of the above!” I shouted.

Overall, my experience was very positive. I was alone and yet felt very much an accepted part of the large faceless group of awesomeness.

There was just one thing that troubled me. I didn’t dance. Not even when a great DJ put together a series of tracks I’d normally shake my ass to. I love dancing. Whether I’m any good or not has never concerned me; I’m an uninhibited dancer. But I still didn’t dance. I couldn’t.

Come to think of it, I’ve never danced by myself in public. I’ve always been among friends. What’s more: it was always with the underlying agenda to either entice or impress someone else. I did not like this revelation at all.

I began looking closer at the moving crowd of brightly coloured people, young and old, and I began to see it for the smaller groups it comprised. Everyone danced with someone else. Sure they were dancing freely, but only with the familiarity of someone they knew. Dancing is about the music not the people; isn’t it? Or maybe it’s both?

I may not have joined in the dancing, but I also didn’t run from my discomfort. While these questions tumbled around unwelcome in my brain, I stood amid the dancers and felt it.

It is now my goal upon completing this project to be able to dance by myself and feel great about it.

EC

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by myself at miniature golf

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Saturday evening, around 8:30 pm, I went out on my first official date by myself. Please take a moment to skim through my previous post: by myself if you have no idea what I am talking about.

A first date is typically riddled with nerves, awkward pauses in conversation, and restrained farts. These are non-issues on a solo operation, so I already felt ahead of the game. I left the house looking cute and feeling well. This is going to be a breeze!

I pulled into the parking lot and my confidence deflated. Wow, there are a lot of people working on their short game this evening. I got out of the car and began setting up my tripod. In order to provide photo evidence without compromising the integrity of the challenge by bringing someone, I got a remote for my camera.

“Why don’t you just take a selfie with your phone?” my sister had asked, flabbergasted. “Because that would be too easy.”

Indeed, I intend to do this the hard way. Correction: “the more meaningful way,” says my therapist. “I think you’re just torturing yourself,” commented my sister. There may be some truth in that.

Here I am at Super Putt, in Niagara Falls, looking exactly as awkward as I felt in the moment.

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I returned my equipment to my trunk and got in line behind a group of four, a middle-aged couple, and a family of three – all of whom had just watched me take that photo and were now eyeing me curiously. The family of three approached me. “Are you here by yourself?” “I am, yes.” “Would you like to join us?”

Even though this life raft was probably well-intended, I hated being directly confronted about being alone. I had to stuff the urge to launch into a full explanation about my intentions and this new project I am writing about. Instead I smiled and replied simply: “no, thank you.”

The next 45 minutes were somewhat painless. Mini-golf is boring without conversation or flirting or competition. And it would seem I am not very good unless I have somebody to beat. Interesting.

There were several uncomfortable moments backed up behind slower people and waiting around with the other groups. The couples embraced, the families joked around with each other, and then there was me.

I wish I could tell you I stood tall and faced the discomfort with my head up, smiled at the strangers and felt as if I belonged. That would be a lie. I felt like a weirdo. I got out my phone and took photos, posted them online, and cowered behind the warm glow of the social media security blanket. (A “no distractions” rule will be observed going forward.) Clearly I’ve got some work to do.

Not wanting to go home disappointed, I finished the evening with a romantic moonlit stroll by the falls. I had forgotten how captivating it looks lit up against the night sky.

At one point a man standing beside me got up on the ledge to take a picture and I jokingly yelled, “Don’t jump!” We laughed innocently for about two seconds before his wife swooped in and dragged him away. Oh, for Christ’s sake! I rolled my eyes and headed home.

Glow-in-the-dark bowling this weekend.

-EC

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by myself

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I recently turned 31. I’m still waiting for that thing people talk about when you reach your 30s, something about hearing a loud ticking noise. I didn’t hear it when I turned 30 and I don’t hear it now. Comfortable as I am with aging and getting grey hairs and all that (I call the one by my right temple Grace) I can’t help but to evaluate my life.

On most counts, I am happy with my progress. I may not be exactly where I’d like but I’ve definitely figured out the end goal and am actively working toward it. There’s just this one annoying thing that still bothers me: I am single.

There is nothing wrong with being single in your 30s; and frankly, I’d like to stay single for a while. Here’s the real predicament: I am bored and lonely.

Nearly all of my favourite people are married and/or have children. I’ve become an expert 3rd, 5th, 7th, and even 9th wheel. I enjoy spending time with my happily coupled friends and their kids… or dogs. But couples and families need a lot of time. Time with each other and ample time before they may abandon their responsibilities to join the fun. More often than not I am left to my own devices.

This is good. I am an introvert after all. I read, go to the movies, kayak, ride my bike, and take a lot of walks. I still get bored and I still feel lonely.

This is some serious horseshit.

I am pretty good at being single, I think I’ve figured it out, but now I’m going to teach myself to love it. As my therapist put it: I already have my Bachelor’s, now I’m going to earn my Master’s in being alone. Just because I am alone doesn’t mean I have to be lonely. And I refuse to be boring!

Here’s my plan, my challenge: I’m going to bring some fun and spontaneity back into my life. More importantly, I’m going to reintroduce myself to romance.

I’ve made a list – a list I will continue to expand on – of great dates I’ve enjoyed or have wanted to enjoy. (I will also take suggestions.) Then I am going to work my way through the list, go on all of these dates, by myself.

– bowling by myself
– mini golf by myself
– a candlelight dinner at a fancy restaurant by myself
– a midnight stroll on the beach by myself
– a play by myself (not a movie, too easy)
– a sporting event by myself (not baseball, too easy)
– a comedy club by myself (oh, I am going to get torn apart)
– a theme park by myself
– dance lessons by myself
– paddle board lessons by myself
– a weekend camping trip by myself… you know, for when things start to get more serious with myself (this is a recipe for a lot of tent masturbation)

I will report back on each date, with photo evidence. This is going to be super awkward and hilarious; I can’t wait to get started!

…stay tuned…

EC

hard to say: I want more

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I look like garbage, on paper. I am a single, unemployed 30-year old occasional blogger, living in her parents’ basement, and driving her parents’ car. Love me! It’s not shocking that online dating didn’t go well. Men with profiles saying “I have a stable job, a nice car and a big house; I really have my life together!” just couldn’t relate to me at all. I deleted my account and vowed to avoid this smorgasbord of fuckery. As most vows I’ve made to myself go, I broke this one too.

In a moment of loneliness, watching bad Saturday-night TV movies by myself on the couch, I signed back up. Pajama-clad legs bouncing in anticipation, I answered the mandatory questionnaire and began late-night perusing a database of weirdoes. Then morning came and I remembered I am a wonderful person, not a shitty profile. I wiped the residue of shallow, unsatisfying banter from my tired face and deleted my account, again.

“What was it about the loneliness, that night, that made you run away from it?” asked my therapist after my confession. Oh, fuck you, dude. Sometimes I really hate (read: admire) that asshole (read: genius). He is just the worst (read: best ever in the world).

Here’s the thing: being unemployed doesn’t bother me; I know I’ll find a job. Cars do not impress me in the slightest; I can get around without one. I can handle living with my parents; I know it isn’t permanent. But I’m supposed to be in love by now!

For years I pursued the “really having your life together” checklist: job, car, house. I graduated college with honours, I found a good job, I got a nice car, and I had my own place. So why was I so deeply unhappy? Running away to Australia did not fix things. Ooh, maybe I’ll get a better job, a nicer car, a massive house! I came home after a year, more lost than ever.

“I just want to be in love!” I shouted in my therapist’s office one day. Finally, my fundamental truth. I would gladly sacrifice a job, a car, and a house. I want more.

“Good, then do it!” he shouted back. No, don’t do that thing where you say something so simple and obvious it makes complete sense. “I want you to be in love. I want you to fall completely and madly in love, with yourself.” God dammit.

When I returned from Australia, the last place in the world I wanted to be was at my parents’ house. The home where anger lived. Thankfully I had no other option. Uncomfortable as it was, I was exactly where I needed to be. In that discomfort I gained acceptance, I learned forgiveness, and I let go of my anger. Back home is where I finally found myself.

So yes, I fucking hate being single. It is the farthest thing from what I want. It is the last place in the world I want to be. Yet it might just be exactly where I need to be right now. Perhaps in the discomfort of loneliness, I will find love.

-EC