I had no idea how much my life would change from going on 35 dates in 35 days. But it did.
Over the next few weeks, I’ll be giving you more details and insight into the extent of the changes (that continue to happen almost daily!) One thing that continues to amaze, and move, me is both the quantity and quality of people that I’m meeting, that I would not have met in any other way save for the project and this blog. Not just the dates, although the 35 men who participated are delightful and I am a lucky lady to have met each and every one! But, really, everyone I have encountered (and continue to encounter), whether they crossed my path on one of my dates, are a reader of this blog, elect to follow, and interact with, me on Twitter or Facebook or have reached out to me as a result of interviews and articles, or started to participate in Singles in the Suburbs events.
The more people I meet, the more I interact with them regarding all of the topics that we have broached over the past few months on this blog, and the more I learn. I am constantly amazed by their insights, perspective, advice and stories.
Then one night I thought, why should I be the only one to benefit from these great conversations and interactions?! Hence, the creation of my new Thursday weekly feature, “Pillow Talk.” Every Thursday, I’ll bring you an interview that I’ve conducted with a local “single person of interest.”
They may be famous (Chef Jose Andres recently provided me with a list of some famous, single chefs, who are more than ready to dish on being single in the DC metro area), or they simply might be a random person that I had a discussion with at a coffee house. No matter what, they will be interesting and their perspectives on dating, love, relationships and DC will be relevant and hit home with the readers of this blog!
This week, I’m excited to bring you Rita’s first “Pillow Talk” with a talented, local photographer (who we will call “Paparazzi” for this interview, as she has elected to be candid over being known) who lives in Maryland and works in Northern Virginia. A commercial photographer since her last year of college, she now works mainly in the custom motorcycle industry. I can say that I have never interacted with a more honest, opinionated, loving and friendly person than Paparazzi and I’m excited to share with you her thoughts on life and love in the DC area!
Rita: Thank you for taking the time to chat with me today! I think that you have some great insight into the nuances particular to dating (or not dating) in the Washington, DC area! Not sure if you remember, but the first time we met was on one of my 35 dates!
Paparazzi: I definitely remember! After I met you, I thought 35 Dates in 35 Days was something that I needed to add to my bucket list. The concept seemed so intriguing and fun! But I’m such an antisocial person, it wouldn’t work. So it was really great to hear it from someone who’s done it!
Rita: Thank you! I love that the experience enabled me to meet such a wide variety of people. Not just the dates, but others I encountered on or through the dates, including you! I feel honored that I was able to view some of your work. I find your photography to be brilliant! Tell me, what photographers inspire you?
Paparazzi: David LaChapelle is a huge influence for me. He fills every corner of the image with something happening. I love how it takes a few times looking at one of his images to see it all.
Rita: Interesting. The way you look at photography is the way that I tell people to look at life and dating! Fill every corner of your life with something, make things happen! But, more importantly, when meeting someone, remember that it can take a few times of “seeing” them before you really “see” them.
Paparazzi: It’s weird for me. I usually am endlessly patient with people. I love every difference there is from one person to the next. Some things; however, can make me completely turned-off to a person within the first three minutes of meeting them. It’s rare, but it happens.
Rita: What advice do you have for new photographers?
Paparazzi: Know what you’re getting into and what you want out of it and be honest about why. You’ll never reach your full potential if you lie to yourself about why you’re doing it.
Rita: Are you sure you are a photographer and not a relationship coach? That seems like PERFECT advice to give those who are out there looking to find a partner. It’s a solid foundation for the next big book on dating!
Paparazzi: You should write it!! That would be the coolest thing. Then I’ll get to say I knew you!
Rita: So, Paparazzi. A little birdie told me that you are single and currently not dating anyone. Are you out there “looking for love?”
Paparazzi: I’ve never sought out love and I never will. I believe in not giving a flying fuck about any of that.
Rita: So then, you celebrate being single?
Paparazzi: It’s not even a celebration really. It’s just not caring about whether there is a relationship happening or not. No, I don’t celebrate being single. I think Valentine’s Day is pretty neat. I am happy to see happy couples. I imagine it would be coo to be in that type of relationship. However, I don’t care that I don’t have it. I’m celebrating being happy with my life… not specifically the fact that there isn’t someone else in it. I hate the “single and proud” movement. Because you know that the whole thing shits the bed the moment they find someone to love.
Rita: I love that – celebrating being happy with your life and not celebrating that there isn’t someone else in it. That’s such a healthy outlook! You are a talented, intelligent attractive woman. Surely there are men interested in meeting you. You aren’t seeking it out but what is the best way for a man to approach you?
Paparazzi: Very… very… very… cautiously; much in the same way one would approach a wild animal that is eating her first meal in four days.
Rita: Why do men need to be so cautious? Are you that wild?
Paparazzi: I think I have to be ready to receive an approach. I react harshly to being approached under less-than-perfect circumstances, i.e.. when I want to be approached, haha! And I hardly ever want to be!
Rita: Have you ever been in love?
Paparazzi: Yes. Every other good feeling in the world is just fighting for second…… and so is every bad one.
Rita: When you think of the word “love” what images and thoughts come to mind?
Paparazzi: Literally… “death and destruction” popped into my head before the question was even over. But really, love is something that happens to the most and the least fortunate of us all.
Rita: Love really is a double edged sword. How can you get past the first thought of “death and destruction” to allow yourself to open to an experience and accept the benefits?
Paparazzi: Accept that love can build entire cities and then tear them down… that there is a nature to love and love itself doesn’t care what you think or how you feel. It just happens to people. Sometimes it’s great and sometimes there is no recovery. The death and destruction is because we think love gives a fuck and are surprised to find out it really doesn’t.
Rita: I think that’s right, needing to accept the nature of the emotions and circumstances that arise when you acknowledge love. It’s very important. I think also, if you follow your earlier advice of being honest about what you want out of your relationship, that sharp “pain” of love can be lessened when you are able to acknowledge that you aren’t getting what you want – and that getting what you want is necessary in achieving your full potential. So, let’s get to more fun stuff! What is YOUR recommendation for a “perfect date” in the DC area?
Paparazzi: The gun range. Guys… take her to the gun range and then to Victoria’s Secret right after. I PROMISE.
Rita: We’ve discussed your schedule before. Sometimes you are up working all night, sleeping during the days, working all day, traveling. It’s anything but consistent. How does that impact your dating/social life? When do YOU get your trip to the range and Victoria’s Secret?
Paparazzi: It’s impacted like a mother fucker. Just ask my friends… umm… wait… I know I have some. Luckily, technology keeps me somewhat in the loop of what’s going on around me.
Rita: So, then, with your hectic schedule, how DO you find time to date? That seems to be a common theme in this area, little time to “play.”
Paparazzi: Honestly don’t think about it. I couldn’t see anything turning out well with my schedule as it is. I understand relationships take time and energy and I feel like I don’t have it to give.
Rita: I think that’s another common experience in the DC area, the lack of energy and time that people have for dating. I know it’s a comment I get often from readers of this blog!
Paparazzi: Someone once told me that if you really wanted to date, you would make the time. I believe it. I think if a date was simply just sharing food with someone without expectations, it would be easier… because we gotta eat anyway. So maybe just do the food thing without trying to impress someone.
Rita: We talked about that the night we first met, the importance of taking away expectations when meeting someone so there can’t be disappointment and to look at dating as nothing more than an introduction to a person. You have plenty of time to find out why you met them – instead of trying to make it fit into a “box” (such as romance), just meet someone and let it develop without expectations of how and where it should go. But people in this area don’t tend to do that. What other tips do you have for daters in the DC area?
Paparazzi: I’ve sat in restaurants next to first dates around here. I noticed that people don’t laugh enough. Shit’s funny. This world is hilarious. That’s great and all that you can pick someone based on their career, accomplishments, etc. But the question is, will you be able to leave that restaurant and laugh your asses off at the world together? That’s with us, that is what we’re born with. No job promotion or social standing can make that happen. And if you think you can do without it, you’re either sadly and horribly mistaken or you’re dead inside.
Rita: Your comment about picking someone based on a career or accomplishments leads me to my next question. Many readers of this blog have commented that a trend in DC is to treat a date like an interview. That is, you come to the table with a “checklist” of things that you think should be present in your “ideal person.” The first date is to see if all of the boxes are checked and, if they aren’t, you don’t pass to the next round. Do you notice this trend?
Paparazzi: You know what? I notice people always sizing each other up and asking themselves what I call “is this the right person” questions. It’s like trying to come up with an answer before the question is even finished getting asked.
Rita: So then, people are asking the wrong questions on dates to find their “ideal person?”
Paparazzi: Yes! It’s always the wrong questions! It’s all materialistic and statistics… sizing up. I feel like sometimes people are looking for the perfect person- to show off!
Rita: So, what are some of the questions that you would ask on a first date (assuming you found time and energy to go on one with a man who approached you on the right day and time)?
Paparazzi: Haha! I’d keep it to small talk and see how he treated our server.
Rita: Isn’t that the truth?! I don’t think people out there realize how important that interaction is, and how telling! Besides treating services with disrespect, what is the biggest mistake that single people tend to make, in your opinion?
Paparazzi: Pretending not to know why they’re single.
Rita: That is such a brilliant answer! I find that people truly don’t want to reflect on themselves long enough to find out exactly what THEY are doing, the patterns they are repeating, the choices they are making – to put them where they are, including being single. It’s much easier to blame someone else. Why do you think that is?
Paparazzi: I think our generation has grown up in a time of entitlement. In an effort to keep kids positive back in the 80s and early 90s, a lot of parents and educators took away our ability to blame ourselves.
Rita: What advice/encouragement would you give to someone who is single?
Paparazzi: If they wanna stay single, then… cool! Keep doing whatever it is you’re doing. If they don’t want to be single anymore, eat at different places.
Rita: Switch up the routine a bit?
Paparazzi: More than that – change your environment. This world is so fucking huge! Instead of going to the same places, with the same people, branch out and be the new kid in town. Why not?
Rita: What inspires you…in your work, your life and love?
Paparazzi: Little kids and old people inspire me. Conversely, the potential for crushing an evil foe, does as well.
Rita: What is it about children and the elderly that is inspirational? (As for evil foe crushing, I totally get that!)
Paparazzi: Old people… with all their stories and their entire life behind them… it’s tough to come across one who doesn’t have it written on their face and hanging on every movement. Kids are thinking so much more than people our age and with an openness that could save this world if adults thought with it.
Rita: I love what you have to say! Look at the world and think with the openness of a child! Celebrate your life and fill every corner of it with something happening! Look at something, or someone, a few times to ensure that you really see what you are looking at! Don’t create expectations! Be honest about what you want from a relationship! Laugh! Be nice to your server! And, men, women love shooting guns and wearing lingerie and, often times, simultaneously! Thanks so much for taking time to talk with me today!
Paparazzi: No problem! Thank you for giving me that push to open up!
Feel free to leave your comments on any of the topics above! I want Pillow Talk to be an interactive forum where we can all relate to each other and learn from one another. Have someone you think would give good “Pillow Talk?” E-mail me at Rita@singlesinthesuburbs.com with their information!