- Finally, A Week Away From New York City
Sometimes, a quick post is all we need. One to highlight the chaos around us all and how we can manage said chaos using the baby step advice we ask our therapist from time to time.
For the past six days, I left New York City (gasp). I left it for the mountainous region of Vermont, what I later found out to be a destination for the urban elites of both New York City and it’s cousin, Boston. What I later found out to be a lovely place filled with semi-decently priced ski passes, underpriced ski rentals, and gondolas that were quite spacious .
As a perennial average and 2x every 3 years skier, I marvel at the activity. The way putting on boots takes over an hour and immense pain & suffering for at least two of your toes. The way the views from your ascent on the chairlift take your breath away you forget about skiing itself. And of course, the way apres ski brings out your most masculine & bougie attributes all in one (by masculine, bringing in the snow-covered firewood from the porch & by bougie, of course I’m referring to the glass of merlot, Calvin Klein turtleneck, and Whole Foods Brie cheese & fig/raspberry crackers by the kitchen counter). Not to mention, the attention of a kind, wonderful romantic partner to warm up with & toast the day’s successes i.e. not having a major fall or mental breakdown before I dove down the Blackbear black diamond slope earlier that day.
Leaving the city, New York City, was long overdue. Without the parental suburban retreat (my parental retreat is simply walking to the 1 subway line and zooming to the Upper West, a retreat, but far from suburban), I’ve been caved into my 500 sq ft Casper mattress encompassed Manhattan abode for over a year. I needed to breathe. I needed space. I needed to be around a real Sheepadoodle (Shoutout Norman) and become invigorated by the way he becomes one with nature, overspreading his joyous emotions (care-free to others). I even needed to be without my gold Silk eye mask & Amazon-ordered ear plugs to get a good night sleep (I forgot both, naturally). With Norman, Vermont, and this newfound girlfriend of mine, I was armed with the mechanisms needed to get away and comfortably, happily be away mentally & physically.
Sometimes, we have to shut up those unhelpful thoughts holding us back. Those unhelpful “I can’t leave the city because…” or “I can’t wear this Calvin Klein turtle neck two days in a row” have no place here. Breaking through my comfort zone — an understatement during a year dubbed “prison if you are an extroverted, energetic producer in the live show scene” was nothing short of remarkable. I feel relieved, energized, amazed that I was able to do laundry for free (without having to search under my bed for one of the three laundry cards I’ve lost), and most importantly, ready to do it again. Florida? I’ll wear a mask. LA? Get me ten masks. Idaho? Sure, I’ll sit in the lodge when someone else skies. I forgot how much I missed this Area 51 of my life — the growth outside of the high maintenance (or is it just particular) comfort Zone of Harrison Forman (slip Silk eye mask et al).
- The Fiction of Virtual Dating
Recently, I’ve taken up a new obsession with fiction. Not so much reading fiction, but mostly, talking about reading fiction. Organizing & researching a list of reading fiction (seriously, I have no idea how anyone reads more than 10 books a year). Even adding reading fiction to my dating app prompts. I even started researching local bookstores not named Amazon or Barnes & Noble to purchase said items for reading fiction.
Hemingway. Grisham. Rowling. Palahnick. French. The list goes on & on, but the ultimate fictional storyteller was staring me in the mirror and I didn’t have to check out Good Reads to explore the author’s themes & motifs. Yes, it was me during a pandemic-friendly virtual date.
OKCupid has seen a whopping 700% increase in virtual dates amongst their users since March. Despite the numbers, it’s a polarizing new norm too – a norm constantly disappointing & disparaging our wildest romantic imaginations. What made my recent virtual date especially interesting was my date was outside of New York City, outside of New York State, the East Coast, even America. She was based in Toronto, Canada.
I asked myself: was I that desperate for connection?
Rushing over to my white board to analyze my plan for the date led to a roughly .5% chance this virtual date would lead to anything in real life this Millennia.
After a few back & forth text messages to change the time of the date — it was set for 8pm. I alerted Verizon about the impending International charges.
The moment before you actually send that FaceTime request for a virtual date reminds me of the Marauder’s Map in Harry Potter The Prisoner of Azkaban. A running web of emotions & questions, twists & turns, ebbs & flows to land on what you think may be the proper positioning & mindset for the big moment:
My kitchen has a bright white light and my room has warm Edison bulb lighting. Is it too aggressive to start the call in my room?
I placed the Vanity Fair magazine on my living room coffee table in preparation for the apartment tour. Will this help brand me as sophisticated?
Should I pour my Espolon tequila on-the-rocks now or do it together with the FT date fully up & running?
Most importantly, can I keep my Alo Yoga sweatpants on with a nice black Henley? Or would not wearing jeans be a risky venture into remote lifestyle martyrdom?
I went for it. Ring. Ring. (FaceTime) Ring.
“Oh…hiii you!” She answered abruptly. Immediately, I noticed the “I love you” tattoo under her neck. Her room (or FaceTime’d version of her room), included a beige wall, a light tan bedsheet, and an interesting undersized painting with a few red hearts on the tan wall. She was a vibe – dark engulfing brown eyes, short brown hair, and a calming energy pulsing through the infinitesimal camera on the iPhone X. And no, there was no Maple Leaf symbol on the wall. That was a relief.
“Hey! Hi! Look at you…before I get to the tequila, who is it…you love?” I opined at this glaring tattoo. She answered, cooly, serenely with an anecdote about a deeper spiritual belief I didn’t really understand. It may have been my phone’s audio issues causing the confusion. Or was it the internal pessimism about the situation? Only time would tell.
The conversation & date took off from there and yes, I opted for the tour of my apartment to start things off.
“Well, here’s my kitchen. Not bad, right? I love this Ninja smoothie machine. Or blender? What’s it called again? It’s bright in here, sorry about that!”
She giggled recognizing some of the eccentricity that has become a polarizing issue with girls on my recent first dates. Clearly, the concerning inner-monologue around lighting in my apartment was a non-issue as our digital conversation hit the usual bases with the usual responses.
Horoscopes: Yes, I am a Sagittarius. I think it’s because December is a communal month? Do you really believe in all of this? It’s always funny to me how Millennials aren’t “religious” but obsess over the Zodiac.
Dating App History: Yes, I’ve rarely done one of these virtual FaceTime dates. Oh, you too? Have you ever noticed how everyone who goes on a dating app date says they don’t go on dating app dates often? The stigma…
Travel: My mom brainwashed me as a kid to love Europe so of course, I need to visit there again once this is all over. What’s Toronto like? Yes, I’ve been a couple times. Is Drake’s house that majestic and what part of Toronto is it in? Canadian men are that entitled? Never would have guessed that. Look, I can’t speak for all of New York City men, but I…
Edge: What exactly is “edge?” Is it the antagonist of “basic?” Does it mean smoking a joint over a FaceTime date with someone in another country? Attempting French? Insert other hopeless wish of a first date?
The laundry list of topics continued onwards as the clock itched closer to 9pm. It’s always tough on a FaceTime date finding some semblance of spontaneity. There are no other couples at tables near you to commentate over. No servers to impress with small-talk about the Asiago Bruschetta. No subtle Atmospheric Piano scores by Mozart to chime in on unleashing an artistic discussion on music & culture. None of that exists. Only the immovable 5.85 inches of Plasma mobile screen with a backdrop remaining unchanged. Oh, and your roommate playing Fortnight in the background. That too.
Mid-way through the date, it was clear there was a a connection. In person, this first date easily could have led to popping by an art gallery in SoHo, adventuring around Nolita’s Prince Street Pizza, and who knows, even an apartment visit.
What was unclear was what exactly this connection could materialize into. Sure, we were putting ourselves out there, but the fiction of the situation kept growing more pronounced.
What are you even doing, Harrison? You will most likely never see her!
It’s exciting to dream about visiting Toronto & taking a selfie with her outside of Drake’s house, but that fairytale is impossible with the pandemic raging onwards.
Were you hoping for a more scandalous FaceTime? It’s only date #1!
The Nora Ephron fan in me imagined yet another storybook ending (noticing a trend). Canada miraculously opens its borders up to the US in time for the Holiday season. Delta sends me a SKYMILES complementary flight to Toronto. I board, end up in the Emergency Exit row, indulge in a Sun-dried Tomato Ciabatta sandwich with a gin & tonic, land in Toronto and Uber right to her apartment where we indulge in legal THC, and then book a separate flight or trip to either Banff or Vancouver.
Sadly, fiction itched its head out once again. I saw 9pm at the corner of my phone screen vastly approaching as if it this were but another weekly standup Zoom in the calendar. My desk chair started to get even more uncomfortable and yet, I couldn’t possibly dive into my bed at this point during the superficial small-talk. My Ritual Winter Amber candle was beginning to reach its conclusive demise. Even, my “Funky Hip-Hop” playlist on Spotify couldn’t help but start repeating tunes from 30 minutes before (yes, I use background music during a virtual first date to bring a tiny semblance of normalcy to the situation).
Sure, I had been on a cold streak. But why did I even hope to spend my time on something that held practically no short, medium, or long-term potential to turn into something? Was I even looking for something in the first place?
As the date reached its inevitable love-less conclusion, I attempted the virtual kiss blow at the end of the date, which she very clearly digitally caught in her hand.
“This was so fun. Let’s do it again sometime,” one of us remarked. It didn’t matter who, for at this point, we both became fans of this inevitably unsatisfying fictional situation.
Even Hemingway or Stein or Rand could never have predicted the fiction of the modern virtual date. Would they have wanted us to invent romantic scenarios like the flight to Toronto to help improve our creative thinking, pressure-less imagination, and memory capabilities? Or would they have taken the form of the realist, the pragmatist, opining for us to only focus on something tangible, something real, something in real life?
- Working in The Dating Industry Could Not Prepare Me For The Challenges of Pandemic Dating
For someone who has yet to leave New York City during COVID-19, quarantine has had a few ups (family time and career progress), a few downs (RIP nightlife), and more often than not, romantic loneliness (yep, I said it).
As a producer and co-host of NY-based live blind dating show, UpDating, I have spent most of my professional time curing everyone else’s romantic ambitions. By setting up strangers on blind dates in front of live audiences, I vicariously lived through their ups, downs, and excessive vodka tonic drink orders. My own dating life had always taken a back seat. When the pandemic hit and our live show paused, I actually became excited at the opportunity to focus on me.
That lasted for about two days. After all, how many times could I possibly watch Social Network, order sugar-free apple sauce, and FaceTime my grandmother? On the plus side, I gained a new appreciation for the constant companionship of my robotic vacuum, Roomba. On the downside, I felt more alone than ever before. It was time to figure out a way to “get back out there” in my own dating life — even though it was impossible to know what “there” even meant anymore.
I came to this epiphany — one I never thought I would realize — in a moment standing woefully on the balcony of my apartment, overlooking the Empire State Building, with Roomba by my side.
It had been two months since I had a first date. Six months since I made it to a third date. Two years since I had been in a relationship. I was actually lonely.
As an extrovert in the entertainment industry, I am a stranger on this distant planet Loneliness. A planet where you fall asleep, wake up, eat lunch, and double-dose on Natrol 10mg Melatonin…well, alone. A planet where you make small talk with Mario at the Green Leaf bodega about their new Chicken Caesar wrap even though you really don’t want to talk to Mario about any wrap at all.
I have been radically confused on how to meet someone romantically in this new world. When most of your dating prospects depart from New York City in the middle of a pandemic, you are left with extremely limited options for meeting a romantic partner. After striking out at during a Zoom Happy Hour, I turned back to an old nemesis: dating apps.
Dating apps and I had always had a toxic relationship. We had flirted occasionally but almost always ended up breaking up. As these are trying times, I left my stubbornness and ego at the door and downloaded Bumble, Raya, and Hinge (okay, I deleted and re-downloaded each app four times during the first 24 hours, but who’s counting?).
As the questions piled on from my early batch of matches, I quickly remembered why this was not my preferred method of meeting people.
“Omg, what is UpDating? Are you scouting for another dating app?”
No! It’s a show! This is for my own personal life. I try to separate the two.
“Hey! How are you?”
I’m good! But how about something a bit more substantive or thought-provoking?
“Hi! How are you holding up during quarantine?”
I’m not bad, but I’m not okay answering this for the 10,000th time.
After hours painstakingly tweaking my Hinge profile to project — I hoped — confident, quirky, sensitive me, the perseverance led toa Hinge match I was interested in. She was French, smart, successful, and responded to all of my failed in-app French attempts with the laughing emoji. After some brief dialogue around our favorite French films, she said: “How are you planning on impressing me?”
Followed by: “What do you do to seduce a woman?”
Now, those were messages I could rally behind. Bold. Direct. Provocative.
From there, we embarked on two walk, talk, and people-watch dates. We met by the New York version of the Arc de Triomphe, Washington Square Park, on our second date. It was one of those days where New York felt like New York again. Birds chirping, over-energetic street performers, and a wild pack of European tourists doing what they do best — stealthily enjoying a bottle of wine whilst confused about NYC’s open-container laws. My date and I found a spot under a tree by the back of the fenced-in courtyard, within sight of the clay-fitted restrooms. Within our field of vision, a couple lay enveloped in each other’s arms. We exchanged a judgmental eye roll, but I paused to wonder: why can’t that be us?
Despite my failed attempts at Franglish, we connected in multiple ways: getting into extended discussions around humanity, what it means to be alive, where we go when we die, places to travel — even dream weddings (in the South of France, naturally). With each passing topic, we held hands tighter — a forecast, one would imagine, of an end-of-date kiss to come.
In our previous lives, the internal debate as to how and when to go for the first kiss was never an easy mental exercise. Now, it seemed nearly impossible. Not willing to pass up my first human contact in weeks, I made a Hail Mary attempt at Franglish:
“How do you say kiss in French?”
“Un bisou.” She replied as I took a deep breath, and our first “bisou” unfolded under the starry, humid New York City skyline.
After date three in Brooklyn complete with late night pizza, she said “I like you.” I quickly followed suit.
Two days later, the conversation unexpectedly stalled, the Instagram DM’s faded, and our plans for the week ahead went unplanned. Hail Mary number two: a casual phone call to check-in and plan our next date.
She called me back a few minutes later to say: “your attentiveness to me is a bit much sometimes.”
In the sheer blink of an eye, the vibe had evaporated. Poof! Au Revoir! I was less upset about the situation as I was confused: what exactly did I do wrong?
Ok, I know my personality can be a bit much, but isn’t that just my truth?
Was it too aggressive for me to download Duolingo to learn some new phrases?
How about my joke about traveling to Brooklyn during COVID-19?! I actually do love Brooklyn!
“Well, I think I have my answer,” I responded to my friend, Olivia’s “any updates?” question earlier in the day. After firing off the text update, I locked my phone in my silverware drawer, and went out for a walk alone to my new favorite quarantine haunt, Madison Square Park. I started shaking my head, anxiously, as I walked down the street mouthing “the show goes on, I guess” to myself at least seven separate times (thankfully hidden by my mask).
Finding a bench, my optimistic and hopefully romantic brain imagined a storybook ending. An ending only Nora Ephron could imagine: the love of my life accidentally drops her tie-dye mask as I rush over to grab it for her. We giggle, exchange flirtatious pleasantries, and embark on a socially distanced walk through town. Within moments, we find an al fresco taqueria (it’s happy hour, naturally), where we share two margaritas and pomegranate guacamole. Within months, I drop to one knee in the exact location of our first meeting, with our family and photographers waiting around in the bushes.
Unfortunately, this imaginary soulmate failed to materialize. Instead, looking around, I saw a breakfast burrito stand sold out of every menu item. I noticed two city sanitation pickup trucks almost collide around the block. I even noticed another couple by a fountain across the bike path — this one sharing AirPods and feeding the pigeons. I checked my bench and observed that yes, I was still alone and my AirPods needed a charge.
Truth be told, I may have preferred ghosting. Sometimes, the infinite abyss of unanswered questions is slightly more bearable than one rigid answer about your entire existence. But it didn’t matter what I preferred; the rejection was complete.
For better or worse, I’m easing back into dating again. Fall is just around the corner, a vaccine (hopefully) in sight, and friends are miraculously reappearing in New York City. I call my new sense of romantic reality “purgatory” (okay, my therapist helped define this too — it’s a team effort).
Purgatory is a tricky beast in the midst of this chaotic world. I think of myself as that little squirrel in the movie Ice Age doomed to chase that acorn until I reach the beginning and end of Earth. Between Heaven and Hell. Love and loss. A butter croissant and starvation. A solo Lost in Translation viewing and running out of popcorn.
One thing helping me stay positive is the knowledge that I’m not alone in this anxious battle to avoid loneliness. According to the CDC, 47% of people under 30 reported feeling anxious during July. I’m going to go out on a limb and bet if we drill into that under 30 category with a focus on just single people, we’ll see that number skyrocket.
Despite some marginal success on the apps, I remain mostly confused about what happens next in the world of dating. But ever optimistic.
We always had to catch lightning in a bottle when it came to finding someone. Every single star does have to align. Navigating single life during the pandemic has turned into searching for a well in the middle of summer in the Mojave Desert. I think we can safely say the journey for lightning-in-a-bottle love has lowered its standards into I-just-don’t-want-to-sit-on-this-Madison-Square-Park-bench-alone. Do you want to join?
- Why La Casa de Papel Has My Wheels Turning
I don’t know why I’m so enthralled by La Casa de Papel (I’m not even going near the English-version of the name, Money Heist, because it’s a sin how that was approved here in the US). After all, it has nothing in common with my top-two scripted shows on TV right now, the universally acclaimed Better Call Saul & the Drake-acclaimed Euphoria. I’ve gone down a rabbit hole
or two reading fan theories & critic opinions but nothing remotely close to the infatuation I currently have with this Spanish melodrama, telenovella (my new favorite genre), insert-any-other-dramatic-sub-genre. I’ve even posted on Reddit about the show…REDDIT!
Quite literally, I’m obsessed. I’m Googling “how to date a woman in Spain without understanding the language.” I’m shopping for red jumpsuits (with accompanying masks) on J. Crew. I’m deeply investigating rumors & theories in a way I haven’t since Game of Thrones Season 4 or Westworld Season 1 (side note: I lost all of my respect for WW after they completely shattered an Aaron Paul opportunity). I’ve posted candid pictures of a real-life couple who met on the show to my IG Stories (the legend Jaime Lorente & the incomporable Maria Pedraza). I’ve even dreamed of partying with the cast knowing deep-down that we would be friends if we met (also would not hurt if we lived in the same city, I spoke Spanish, and I was also an actor on a show of global popularity).
Conventional wisdom does question my infatuation with the show. After all…
- The plot is full of gaping holes at an almost deal-breaker level (I mean, is this a joke?).
- The entire show is in Spanish (note to Americans: don’t watch the dubbed versionplease).
- The beautiful actresses I fell in love with while watching are…(mostly) taken.
- Did I mention the plot holes? There are so many it’s painful.
- The show is clearly not intended for me, an American, but rather a diverse, international audience and it’s so damn obvious.
There is no singular reason why I overlook all of these flaws to stay up past 3am on a Wednesday (the latest I’ve been up by 2-3 hours in the age of quarantine). It’s the complete package of unabashed fun, rich character development, nuanced aesthetics around culture & sex, and the impossible-to-quantify marketing of the show. Oh, and of course the drama. Every single moment is dramatic. When paired with my own personal zeitgeists (because well, this is my site, so of course I have to tie it back to me), I’m a hungry kid once again nourished in the Netflix candy store of entertainment.
1. The Romance (Even When Every Single Moment is Over-Dramatized)
During a time in the world when if you’re single it’s impossible to find any romantic semblance, how refreshing was it to see scene after scene of amorous moments — as if When Harry Met Sally and Fifty Shades of Gray had a Spanish baby with fake AK-47’s, origami & secret lairs. There was also something so damn European about the way vulnerability was expressed by both men & women throughout every season. Here in America, call it Saturday football routines or obsession with The Rock, but it’s still taboo to be a romantic, vulnerable man in this country. On Casa (and yes, there are still quite a few dirtbags on the show), we see scene after scene of mushy gushy lines filled with extended complements (I mean, calling your love interest a Maserati), marriage proposals within 20 minutes of meeting someone, and betraying your entire career path by falling for the heist leader. Whether it’s the “I want to know everything about you” or the “You give me reason to live; it’s like walking on the moon,” we can sense the purpose the creators are emoting for the viewer. Even though breakups, Rio outkicking his coverage multiple times, and first dates happen during the most inopportune times I’ve ever witnessed on a TV show, this makes it the beautiful soap opera we’ve been missing here in the States. A soap opera so open, so honest, so scintillating it’s hard to look away (even though if you do look away, make sure to pause the TV unless you speak Spanish).
My Own Zeitgeist:
Clearly, I’ve taken a certain interest in how we connect with others romantically, and even in my own dating life, I’ve made up at least 47 different fairytales where I boldly shout “Sei Bella” to a beautiful, Italian graphic designer in Brooklyn until six months later, we’re taking Salsa dancing lessons together, writing a screenplay, and booking flights to Italy, naturally. Watching La Casa di Papel validated this proposed path in my life (and also, who would have thought you don’t have to rob a Mint to make it happen).
2. Character Development & Branding of Said Characters (Even When My Favorite Characters Are Pushed Aside for Disasters)
This show proved with great characters you can overcome catastrophic plot miscues. Each character has their nuances, quirks, psychotic tendencies, familial ties and so much more. Especially in the first two seasons, we see countless 1:1 dramatic monologues that help us better understand the origin story of each gang member: Denver’s childhood mishaps, Nairobi’s substance abuse issues, and even Rio’s former desire to please his parents as an IT professional. The writers brilliantly take us into the mind of each character and give us something to relate to (which in a show about a Spanish bank robbery, it’s no easy feat putting together relatable anecdotes for a more general audience).=
….Notwithstanding how each character’s city name (also, I call dibs on Milan) is, at the core, brilliant show business marketing. In a saturated-content world where even LeBron’s 5-year old daughter has a YouTube show, it’s important for creators to think outside-the-box when it comes to the branding of its characters to spark the social conversation (even thinking about the American hit, Stranger Things, the only character I actually remember is Eleven). We are infatuated with the characters on the show — picking sides, taking stands, starting fan pages. They are all complex, uncanny, contradictory and beautiful — or in other words, human.
My Own Life:
What I tend to think about often is how social media paints 1% of the story of who we think someone really is — the ups & downs we deal with on a daily basis hidden from our followers, the unconscious anecdotes cultivating our personalities, and of course, how we all still yearn for belonging (um, hello, Zoom happy hours). Even with UpDating, we tend to cast individuals who obviously have the playful & “not-take-themselves-too-seriously” elements, but also have a layers & layers beneath the surface that an audience will want to learn more about. And in my own dating life, well, I’ve been told by my Rabbi a few times that I’m a character too. So who knows what will work for me down the road…
3. The Music & Dancing (Even Though The Timing can be Dreadful)
More than a song, it’s a lifestyle. A gateway into culture. A song you want to shout outside your balcony during the 7pm claps in New York City for our health care heroes. And a song I put on repeat at least 100 times after I heard it on La Casa (and followed with some version of losing my mind dancing on my bed drinking 4-day old red wine).
Song & dance & euphoria play such an integral part in Spanish culture and the show brings out these moments to the fullest extent. They serve as great changes in pace from the frenetic dialogue, and if you’re an audience member not clapping & dancing along, I don’t know what you’re on because these are some of the best moments of the entire show. I’m pretty sure my sofa is ruined from the amount of times I stood up to dance and party along with the cast.
A few of my favorite music scenes here:
- Belle Ciao (the anti-fascist theme song of the show)
- Denver’s Oldies’ tune (hey, one point for American culture)
- Berlin & Professor with Guantanemera (Top-3 moment of the whole show)
My Own Life:
I have music on 24/7 — one of those people that just always needs background music on. When you add in specific songs with hyped up energy to actually dance & vibe even in our quarantined apartments, I’m hooked. In fact, in my old Hinge profile, I even mentioned in the prompt “We have the same ‘weird’ when”…”we both randomly salsa dance while walking down the street. So clearly, this show was my kind of weird.
4. The Social Conversation & “It” Factor
This is the impossible-to-define, difficult-to-quantify, cool-to-discern X-Factor with hit TV shows or pop culture phenomenons. It’s the reason global soccer superstar, Neymar, appeared as a priest in a forced, but somehow useful cameo (followed by this riveting discussion on fame with Neymar & Denver’s Jaime). It’s the reason why every single unknown actor or actress from the show is now well over 10 million IG followers when two years ago most were nameless. It’s the way you feel looking at those Dali masks with the red jumpsuits, now a universal symbol for the show (and for others, the anti-establishment).
This show has “it.” The world knows it, I know it, you’ll know it if you watch it.
My Own Life:
I constantly am looking at trends in media, pop culture, entertainment to understand how a show spreads like wildfire. You could have all of the pieces together when it comes to timing, casting, branding, but if it doesn’t get people talking, then, the opportunity was wasted. This show had the perfect storm of the internationalization of TV, Netflix becoming well, Netflix, and the rise of the anti-establishment principles during this pandemic that has us thinking about the world (and its countless arbitrary rules & structures). More specifically, for us Millennials, man, was it refreshing to see fellow twenty something creatives in other countries take up arms (kidding), fall in authentic love (not kidding), and give their heart & soul to produce incredibly unique content.
So there you have it. La Casa de Papel is on Netflix now. Season 5 hopefully will be around the corner, and as for my next move, well, I just extended my geographic location on Raya to include Barcelona & Madrid.Stay tuned to my blog for more takes on, well, everything from why FaceTime dates are a waste of time to what social life will be like post-COVID-19 to why peanut butter is the best snack on the market right now.
- The Meaning of Adventure
Argentina + Salsa + Frequent Google Maps usage + WhatsApp FaceTime Yoga = my last two weeks of dating.
Some would call the above combo more similar to a college-age study abroad program and others, well, they would instantly think “this dude needs to just move to Europe or something.”
Whiles most rightfully complain about meeting someone here in New York:
· “The apps? Impossible!”
· LES Bars? Can’t hear myself think!
· Football Saturday’s? No way Jose!
My complaint has been less centered on meeting someone, rather, aiming to avoid getting ghosted in hopes of finding true adventure. See every last post I’ve written outlining just how damn neurotic I’ve been about falling for someone, only to see the rug of potential love taken right beneath my feet by way of Sweden trips or DJ’s.
Adventures, if you are single, I believe are the core tenet of remaining happy romantically single (that is, of course, besides having a great group of friends & career). Nobody talks about adventure because they are afraid it only means sex. That couldn’t be further from the truth. I’m mainly just talking about activities & depth of dialogue more than two tequila cocktails at a Midtown bar talking about your tech job & going to Michigan.
See when you’re in reactive & not proactive mode when it comes to finding someone (see more here), it can be easy to skip past adventure — in this case, seduction, romance, spontaneity, LIFE — in order to stick with what’s comfortable (Sunday night sushi orders with your roommate).
So let’s take my recent, unplanned, semi-romantic Argentina adventure, for instance. Last Weekend. Downtown.
After beginning my grand entrance exchanging pleasantries on each other’s eye color (naturally, an early topic for me and naturally, her blue & my hazel made for a wicked selfie), broken Spanish/English respectively, and comments around dating in Argentina vs. US, I left her personally exhilarated and the good old self-monologue started:
DID YOU NOTICE THAT ENERGY?!
Of course, I forgot to ask her number (classic) and lost her (also classic) in the sea of new faces entering the bar…
It was shockingly just about over in my mind until…
A few hours later, as the fate of Lionel Messi would have it — I was looking for my new gray Uniqlo jacket when…we bumped into each other. On the dance floor. During a Drake song. With me attempting to explain how I was a Bar Mitzvah dancer & will be decent at this “salsa dancing” thing. It was official: our date just started.
After a major ego & reality check on my vibes & moves (apparently, I don’t have “rhythm?!”), it was clear there was some sort of hitting it off going on (or as much as Google Translator would tell me after my “tu eres lindo” led to a witty smile).
The decision was made: I knew I wanted to actually get to know her without my ears buzzing so I went for the “adventure ask” or AA —
“You know what? [shouting]
Let’s go to a wine bar, drink Malbec (sighing: of course) and get out of here.”
She nodded “sound so good.”
We agreed to meet out front in 5 minutes after grabbing our coats. Still without her number, I prayed there would be no mix-up and as I exited the bar, I turned to my right and voila, these fears were quashed when I saw her leaning over the misplaced plants outside the venue.
After a failed Uber could not find us, we took a taxi to at least 5 different stops at other local bars that were either closed (it was 3am) or sketchy (we were crossing midtown).
Finally found an empty spot on the East Side with seats at the bar, space for a little makeout sesh, and (gasp) the AUX cord to plug in Reggaetone. She even, wait for it, gave me her red hoodie to stay warm on the cab to bar walk (of course, I left my jacket in the Taxi).
At this point, we’re clearly VIBINGGGG, and despite the “I did not know Jewish boy before you,” the night ended with a walk to the 6-train subway for her to return to (another gasp) Brooklyn.
Did she come over the first night? No. Did we decide this has “forever” potential? No. But did we have a true adventure full of wine, sensational dialogue, a few passionate kisses, tattoo debates for my first one in 2020 and more? Yes.
Since then, the adventures have continued. We fired off the exceptionally RARE & equally exceptionally effective Sunday evening WhatsApp FaceTime call to each other and spoke, at length, for almost two hours as we cleaned our rooms, lit charcoal candles as I attempted to learn Spanish & make my Sunday evening granola parfait. Yep, adventure.
Finally over my fear of texting someone without an iPhone & seeing the confusing green bubbles (ugh), planning for the following adventure — Salsa — began.
Not only were we going salsa dancing on the (gasp) vaunted West side of Manhattan, we were going on what I reckoned was in between a first and second date — the 1.5 date.
After dropping $40 on the coat check & cover combined (look, when your former Hinge profile said how much I’ve been intrigued by Salsa, you can’t really be counting pennies), we entered the club, the two youngest by about 30 years surrounded by adventurous couples I aspire to be like one day. Luckily, my mind turned to the wide amount of sports I’ve been playing recently (4 hours of yoga every two weeks…ya know, sports) — so I knew I was prepared for just about any challenge that was to come my way.
Low-key this bar was lit: J.Balvin music videos, multiple dance floors with my improving salsa, 15 (FIFTEEN) types of margaritas (even though we only had one drink each because well, if you;’re international it’s less about the booze & more about THAT ENERGYYY).
After Salsa…we continued the night. I was genuinely intrigued & curious to learn more. Date 2.5 has been lined up. To be continued.
Spanish-learning, wine-pouring, Palo Santo-showing, Fajita-cooking and so much more. I learned about her streets / upbringing in Argentina, how American men have sadly failed to get social cues about her interest in them on dates, and who’s more dramatic: Latin women or Jewish men (in our case, it’s a tie).
See, this was NEW adventure. Intimacy. Conversation. A to B in New, foreign parts of the city with New types of people in New types of situation. New was cool. New was sexy. New was addicting.
What I loved about “New” relates directly to pits of emptiness from an almost 2-year single kick. Yes, it’s easy to forget the little, cool moments with someone: making breakfast together, wandering aimlessly into bookstores drinking chai, Googling “Things to Do” in Time Out New York (shameless plug: UpDating came up multiple times) together. It’s easy to forget all of that, but it’s harder to make actual progress to get that back. That is, unless, you focus on the “mini-ships,” the ADVENTURE!
I don’t think I’ll ever really understand what a “mini-shpis” or “weekend-ships” actually is, but what I do know is that it’s the kind of gray areas I’m finding are necessary for my own dating life — you know as the attention-obsessed extrovert I am.
Rather than the black & white of going from 0–100, simply going from 0 to 15 to 8 to 30 to 40 to 20 all in the span of a few tequila-infused, Jacket-losing, hoodie-gaining cold Winter nights can make all the difference.
All I can say is I’m curious about more adventures with her & excited to learn more. Will my “getting-ghosted” negative track record come up to bother me again? Will the achievement of date #2.5 for next weekend be closer to 100 or closer to 0? Only time (and well, me) will tell. This is New York City after all; anything can happen. Stay tuned.