On crushes….

  • They called crushes because they crush you…..
  • I’m making it a point not to go on second dates with people with whom I already have no chemistry.
  • I’ve got to follow my gut feeling when it comes to this chemistry thing….

So far this week has been ok. It’s nice to say yes to the few things that don’t take up too much of my energy and make me feel good. Plus, people say I’m funny. I’m not sure if it’s true or not but at this point even if people laughing at me and not with me I don’t mind so much because I love seeing their smiling faces.

I know this post makes no sense whatsoever but when I have less work I’ll elaborate on how I came to these moronic conclusions.

Always hungry and dizzy

I’ve been saying yes to fewer things recently, but I can always seem to say yes to sleep. I’ve been doing my dental treatments and have really bad gag reflexes so on days when I have appointments I make my own juices or smoothies, and have coffee and water. I come home and eat whatever I think I can chew and then maybe pair that with an affordable glass of wine.

When you’re always hungry you start becoming angry and depressed all the time. I really do try hard to keep my mind positive but sometimes it just gets to me. Part of why I began this experiment was to lose my fear of men, but as I keep on going the fear keeps coming back: fear that guys won’t understand what’s wrong with me, fear that they will find me unattractive when I tell them, and fear that I might lose so much weight over the next few months that I’ll be too skinny.

I haven’t been thinking of men. I don’t really see any prospects, and I try to stay busy with friends. I’m trying to be happy, but there are days when I can tell I didn’t eat enough the day before because it’s hard for me to wake up. I try to enjoy sunny days and realize that there are worse things out there, but it’s not easy. Thankfully the friends I have told about this are understanding and supportive. Over the next few months I’ll have to cut back on expenses to pay for my dental treatments and get my blood tested consistently.

Traveling trips and really crazy adventures seem to be out now. I haven’t asked any guys out on a date, and it seems like my sadness hangs on my face like a bright billboard warning men that I’m too sad to go out with them–or at least that’s how it seems.

I do plan on learning new songs on the guitar though. For now, I’ve decided I’m going to nap once per day to get through work. I’m sure that will help as long as I go outside often as well.

Things really do change when you say yes more often

Despite the hardships of this experiment Ido feel a difference in what it’s done for my confidence. There were many times when I felt unworthy of many things: job prospects, talking to certain men, being friends with certain people, going to events alone, or anything else I could think of.

I’ve stopped worrying so much about the past and have started living in the present more, which is one thing I wanted. This week there were two opportunities I was able to get thanks to this project (all out of the blue, too!):

foto 2 (7)I had to make a presentation on behalf of some students from the United Arab Emirates because they were unable to get their visas to come to Argentina in time for a conference. They paid me to do this work. The thing is, I saw the ad on Craigslist and it seemed so crazy I applied thinking I might not get it. However, I did and got to make a few bucks. I don’t know much about the Petroleum industry and had to study the topic a bit before presenting but I did an ok enough job.

There was also another admin assistant job I got which I was also afraid I wouldn’t get because the company was quite big and pays in USD. Spots in jobs like this are highly coveted in Buenos Aires but I just applied, had two interviews and was offered the job this morning.

But there was yet another change.

foto 1 (8)

I had worked really hard to get over my crush because I had to accept that it was never going to happen. I then moved into this new studio where I’m living and found a piece of a letter I wrote him. I thought I had destroyed them all (ok, so there were two total and one poem that went missing). When I saw it I simply sealed it with this sticker. I guess a part of me wanted to believe that I was keeping it because it showed I was still capable of getting butterflies in my stomach for someone, but it became a dead weight.

It felt like Edgar Allan Poe’s The Tell Tale Heart, except instead of a ringing coming from under the floorboards it was coming from the drawer I had kept the letter in. Today was a particularly slow work day and as I was sweeping the floor I had a strange feeling as I walked past that drawer. I decided the letter is what had been bothering me.

My former crush knows where my old apartment is and he would come over to parties and dinners I would invite him to, so there were a lot of memories of him there and I often felt a bit of heart break when looking at corners he had sat on or conversations we had had in my kitchen. I remembered that he knew exactly where everything was in my old apartment and would often help himself to what he found there (which I was ok with because he’s still a friend, and I let all my friends do this). However, he still hasn’t been to my new little studio and I decided that keeping the letter is like keeping a part of a past that can’t be changed. It was like having a piece of that heartbreak in my drawer and it wasn’t allowing me to fully move on and let go. So I cut the letter into tiny pieces today and threw them in the garbage.

Letting go and allowing no strings to be attached to these events is a part of something that’s changed because of this experience. It had been a long time since I had feelings for anyone because I wouldn’t let myself after so many negative past experiences with men. I literally, actually channeled my religious upbringing and said a little prayer of gratitude for him, for letting me know I could still care.

Moves and other things

If you’re an expat in Buenos Aires (and an immigrant/expat anywhere in the world) you WILL run into shitty landlords. I’ve had plenty of these:

  • In San Telmo one landlord would come over with his girlfriend, smoke weed all day, take showers that lasted up to two hours, and walked around in his underwear.
  • In Belgrano I had a roommate once asked me to cough less in my sleep even though it wasn’t something I could really help thanks to bronchitis.

But this case is far worse here in Palermo. I was paying 4000 pesos for a fully furnished room when I was suddenly told I could either pay the same and they’d stick another bed in my room because I could share it OR I could pay 8000 pesos and stay alone, PLUS give another deposit.

Of course I’m leaving this apartment. There are a lot of memories here because one of my really good friends lived here and I had already been here to so many dinners, chats, and parties. Naturally my friends and I are saying goodbye to this simple space because it was a home to all of us.

In an unrelated note, I made up a manifesto about men in general. Over my time here I’ve had about seven men just randomly kiss me without my consent. (One I was sort of ok with so let’s make it six then). I get hook-up culture and when you’re younger and in college it’s sort of ok. It’s also ok if you’re any age and it happens to be your thing, but it isn’t mine.

I haven’t been actively pursuing a relationship but I know that I would want it to start in a way that involves talking, maybe being friends with and just letting things flow. It’s really common in Argentina for guys to just kiss you after hitting on you and then asking if you want to have sex with them. I don’t judge women who are ok with this, it just means they have a different set of values when it comes to this and they’re happy with this. Not me.

I’ve been told by one guy here (consistently, I might add) that I’m a difficult woman. In my defense he was one of those guys and he wanted to take me home with him on what happened to be one of the shittiest days/months of my life. There’s no way he would’ve enjoyed being with me when I was that much of an emotional and financial wreck. Even though I owe him no explanations I tried to once and he laughed in my face.

I’ve decided I deserve better than this. For the rest of my time here I’m just going to focus on friendships, both with men and women, of course. I’m never going to adjust to the dating culture here. I don’t care for dating apps and realized that I have to make the foundation for the things I want. In the end, I was stupid enough to actually fall for one of these guys and the universe didn’t conspire in my favor but at least I know that I deserve to be liked/loved/asked out for who I am on the inside and not just what someone wants to get out of me physically.

 

The one thing I couldn’t say yes to

The immigration crisis in the United States has always been an issue, but technology, increased mass incarceration and deportations have surged and it affects everyone’s lives. Recently I ate at a Cameroonian restaurant where I met a couple who was currently undergoing the 2-year bar. An Argentinian woman I met there was married to her Turkish-American husband and had to move to Buenos Aires while she waits for her green card process to pull through. The plan is that he’d visit her about every 3-4 months until this happens. They, of course, married for love.

About a month ago a friend of mine (whom I’ll call Juan to protect his identity because his name is totally not Juan) moved back to Mexico because he also got desperate with the situation. Not all states in the US allow undocumented students to attend their schools or get financial aid for their studies, and Juan happened to live in Georgia, which is and was one of the worst for undocumented students to attend. He had been heavily active in the immigrants rights movement and that’s how we met four years ago.

Mexico is a great country but it’s really only great for those in the middle and upper classes and those who have the option to travel and leave. Juan’s case isn’t like this. Right now he’s separated from his family and friends and the road back is dangerous, expensive, and bound to get worse if Donald Trump is elected as president of the USA. In theory I understand Juan, but it’s true that as a US citizen I really do have more privileges. Maybe I’m not rich, but I can just enter and leave the US with relative ease.

Anyway, Juan asked me to marry him and I said no. It wasn’t easy. In the beginning I told him that I’m Argentina and can’t make that sort of decision when I’m so far away from him. As I thought it about I realized that I just can’t. Anything could happen.

The process for petitioning someone to move to the US with you when you’re a citizen could take years. I’m not sure if I’ll return to the States and when I do I know I’ll want to travel and have a lot of things I want to do. I don’t know if I’ll meet someone in Argentina or when I’m traveling, but petitioning someone is something that’s really only worth it if you love them. This is the one thing I knew I couldn’t say yes to.  At the moment my conscience is clear about this. I know I did the right thing and I my friend Juan finds what he needs. I just can’t offer it to him right now.

Losing my fear of men: dating in Buenos Aires

There are tons of phobias out there: arachnophobia, agoraphobia, and although I have never seen a professional for this, I know androphobia–fear of men–exists. I didn’t grow up with my father, one of my uncles was an alcoholic, one of my aunts married a man who abused her, and one of my cousins married a serial cheater. It didn’t help that the abuser in the family was also a pervert who would sexually harass my mother and I since as long as I could remember.

The beginning

For many years I wore a shell to protect me from men and after a short-lived, but bad relationship I found myself feeling completely torn to pieces. I had never thought I’d date someone who was verbally abusive toward me or who would disrespect me that much, and when it happened I felt absolutely stupid. It took years for the damage to undo itself. Sure, I went out on dates and had occasional sex but there ways no way in hell I’d ever let a man ever hurt me that badly ever again. I never let anyone in, even if I liked them.

Sometime around November 2015 I realized I was dying inside and felt the need to make myself live again. So before anyone asks, one of my main motivations for this year of yes is to lose my fear of men. I’m afraid of meeting men who are abusive, I used to be terrified of men I met at clubs, bars, or other social situations. Having grown up in a religious household where many women also ended up being nothing punching bags, I was especially afraid of men I met who were extremely religious.

When I came down here, I really only intended to work and had no thoughts of staying and didn’t care if I had fun. I had been processing other issues: financial problems, a broken heart, and extremely low self-esteem. Meeting a guy was just not a priority and even though there have been nice guys here in Buenos Aires despite the constant complaints I’ve heard from women here, I decided that one of my motivations for this project would be to confront this fear. To do this, I would simply trust my gut.

The thing about instincts is that many women and children are socialized to be nice to everyone even if he’s a creep. Granted, I know not every guy is perverted sexual harasser, but the ones who are give us a feeling in our gut that we should follow. Nice guys, as it turns out, also give off a nice vibe.

Buenos Aires men, or my experience with them, anyway

There have been instances here where the frankness of men here has scared me. I’ve had several instances in which men here just literally grab my face and kiss it. Only two of these instances was consensual, and I’m only friends (albeit an aloof friend) of one guy, whom I shall now refer to as The Guy from the Bus Stop.

The Guy from the Bus Stop is someone I met at an American-themed bar here in the Palermo neighborhood sometime around September 2015. Before I continue with this part of the story, let me explain how my life was around September 2015: I had just gotten over two consecutive bouts of bronchitis and for many months now, had barely been making enough to make ends meet. To top it off, I made the mistake of moving down here while still paying off my car and my bank account was consistently in the red. I worked very hard teaching English classes, dealt with many issues, lived in a house that I hated, and was just extremely unhappy.

Back to The Guy from the Bus Stop.

When I spoke to him he was very sweet and we talked for a bit, but I didn’t think much of it. I decided to go home and so did he and he offered to walk me to the bus stop. It was about a 15-20 minute walk and kept talking the whole way. Talking to him was distracting me from all the issues I had to confront when I headed back home.

Somehow as we were waiting for my bus he just kissed me and since I wasn’t prepared and was at a time in my life when men, or finding love (or just plain old getting laid), mattered to me I didn’t think much of it either. But I let him keep doing it. He eventually asked me to go home with him and I refused. The issues I mentioned before were a big factor in my decision, but frankly, my fear of men was an even bigger factor.

I got on the first bus that headed near my house after saying “no” and felt I did the right thing. I didn’t feel I would ever see him again. I felt a little bad, but I was too depressed to even remember his name. Mostly though, he reminded me of the men in the past who had abused my family members. He had asked me to go home with him even though I was a stranger, and I was sure he didn’t see me as a person.

We kept running into each other in group settings and as I would speak to him, I never got the urge to hide and never felt uncomfortable. Slowly, I realized I misjudged him and made a mistake, but it was probably too late to change his mind, so I never tried even though I developed a small crush on him. Although we’re not close, I consider him a friend and someone who is always welcome at my house.

I don’t recommend just randomly making out or hooking up as therapy. You might not be able to befriend someone after you reject them. I feel that I changed my mind about The Guy from the Bus Stop when I started to change my mind about my own circumstances. I started to make a bit more money and be able to socialize.

Around November 2015 I started being able to afford my bills–something I had seldom been able to do before then. Now that I was able to survive, I made the decision to work on my own issues because no one should be rejected solely because of them. I learned this from The Guy from the Bus Stop, and I’m grateful for that lesson and for his kindness to this day. I’m sure I won’t say yes to every guy I meet just because of this experiment but I will never say no to someone ever again from a position of fear. This decision has been a very liberating one for me.

The Guy from the Bus Stop made me realize I had been wrong for so many years. In many ways, it’s a story with a happy ending even if it never became anything else than just one kiss.

Couchsurfing and men

Since beginning my year of yes I’ve gone out with four guys from Couchsurfing and have made it a point to initiate conversations with people who seem nice. I follow my gut. I don’t consider any of these meet-ups to be dates, but they’ve been a good opportunity to meet nice men that I know I won’t be afraid of. Things only ran afoul with one of these people, but by then I was able to see that we just had no chemistry. The one guy ended up liking me for real and I just didn’t feel it even after going out a few times.

I’m not really looking for some end result with any of this, except to lose my fear of men in a healthy way and forming healthy friendships with the opposite sex. We live in a world in which women are taught to be objects of desire. We’re taught to be ashamed when we say yes and no to men and what they want from us, and so I hope to slowly combat those prejudices and challenge those fears in myself–one friendship at a time.