Wednesday, May 14, 2014

The 4 Minute Sell

I think it was only a matter of time before something like this happened. After all the horrible luck I'd had last year (and even the year before that) in finding someone I could really spend my time with, it was time to try something different.

Speed dating.

Yes that's right, the inconceivable had happened: I was turning to other means to find people to date. Clearly Internations had been wonderful in helping me find girlfriends, but not man friends, so it was time to put it into someone else's hands for help.

And to be perfectly honest, I was really curious.

You see speed dating in movies all the time. The biggest comment I got once I signed up and was telling some friends and colleagues about it was, "Oh I've always wanted to try that!".

Well I was going to. It was set.

It started off innocuously enough; Two was helping me brainstorm all the different ways I could meet new people. These included things like public dinner parties (hence going to the Basement Galley's supper in a vintage tube car), Internations (I think you can assume by now how that went...I've discontinued my membership), and Nerd Nites (still up for possibilities, but happens only once every two months), etc. I was open to trying anything new so most of our possibilities had been run through.

Except speed dating. We didn't know any good venues and hadn't yet taken the time to investigate it when a Wowcher (similar to Groupon/LivingSocial, etc) showed up.

Clearly it was a sign. I was supposed to go on this speed dating thing, whether I was ready or not. At £8 it wasn't like I would be losing too much if it went bust. Just putting myself out there and in front of more possibilities.

It was held at Funky Buddha, the self-same oddly dark bar I'd met Ironman at all those ages ago. This time though, it was only us speed daters (and the organizers, of course). After having a light dinner with Two we headed over and ordered glasses of wine, mingling with some of the others who were there. I was chatted up quite heavily by someone I can only describe as friendly and surprisingly well-traveled...didn't hurt that he looked like Mohinder from Heroes. My god, what a cutie.

And then the event started. Women were seated at numbered tables and men rotated around to each of us in turn every 4 minutes.

Yes, we had 4 minutes total to sell each other on ourselves and determine if there was chemistry.

Needless to say it was a little manic, stressful, and after the first 10 people, a bit boring.

It felt like you were having the same conversation over and over again (sometimes you literally were): What do you do? How long have you been in London? Do you like to travel? What are some of your hobbies?

Four minutes is both a ridiculously short time and yet also an infinitely long depending on who you are talking to.

By the end of the 17 men I'd met (yes, 17!), I was exhausted. And unfortunately none the wiser really. I took some careful notes on each person, but naturally you only have a few minutes to make your decision on whether or not you'd want them to contact you, so I waited until the end for that. The way this place works is if you mark Yes or Friend and the other person does as well, you can contact each other. No's block you from them and if you have all No's in one evening you can go again for free since you didn't find even a friend match. The lowest type of match between you is what is announced to both parties:
  • You both say Yes then you both see Yes.
  • You say Yes but they say Friend, then you'll get Friend.
  • You say Friend but they say Yes or Friend, then you'll get Friend.
  • Either of you say No then neither gets any match whatsoever.
A peek into what I said about each person:

I took a photo of my notes because you had to turn it in at the end and then your notes were gone. Remember that I only had 4 minutes to decide on each person, so my notes are more reminders of who that person was/impressions, rather than anything particularly strong.

Notice that the last person simply has NO written as their note. This was the strangest and most unpleasant encounter I had that night. He came, kissed my hand (something I'm not a fan of unless I know you), and then proceeded to ask me if I was even really single. He commented that I was confident (but not in a good way) and fit. Somehow it just kept coming off as insulting, like he was disgusted with my success and overall high personal hygiene standards. We had awkward stilted conversation and luckily the 4 minutes was up. I talked to some other ladies afterwards and they'd all had awkward and mean conversations with him as well. Well, I suppose that may have been why he was there in the first place, though it still seemed unnecessarily negative.

As you can probably tell from my notes, the night wasn't particularly successful. I said Yes to a white lawyer I'd met who was shy but bonded over a mutual love of books, and I did say Yes to Mohinder.

Mohinder came and chatted me up for the rest of the night, having in-depth conversations about his adventures the past nine months before returning to his job at Heathrow airport as part of security management. I could tell he was interested and I thought he was attractive...enough so that I gave him my number for WhatsApp.

The day our results were released (it takes them a day or two to get everyone's responses logged into the system for matching), I saw Mohinder and I had both said Yes and he messaged me.

I don't know what happened after that, but the only way I can explain it is that I simply was not ready for dating, despite what I thought and felt.

His eagerness disturbed me. I tried to imagine us together and I just couldn't. And so, after a few days of slow messaging, I told him the truth. He was great but I wasn't going to pursue it further. Better to be honest and not drag someone along if you're not going to commit, and so I cut it off then.

He didn't respond (not that I expected him to), and instead messaged Two a few days later, which we both thought was hilarious and a bit sleazy. Well, goodbye Mohinder.

And so the hunt for love with Don continues. I'm glad I did it though. We have vouchers for a future event as well (couldn't resist the deal), and I'm hoping to have more success there. If not though, that's okay. The future will happen when it does and it's nice to know that there are still fun ways to meet people.

Checking off that life experience. Check check check.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

A post of grad-itude

As I mentioned earlier to you, dear readers, I applied to start part-time at UCL in the fall to get my masters of science in Cognitive and Decision Sciences.

It's been a long road, but it's finally official: I'm in.

The short version of this life event goes like this:

I turn in the application. And wait for several weeks.
I receive online notification that a decision has been made - I log in, it says I got in...full-time.
Oh shit.
After a few days of being sad and wondering what my future will look like if I quit my job and do full-time school or give up on my dream of a masters, I decided to just contact them and ask if I could get it changed. (No harm in asking, right?).
They say sure, that's fine. As said by one of them: "I may have even pushed the wrong button when I accepted your application."
My thoughts on British bureaucracy and general laziness/uselessness in their jobs: High with a very large chance of grumbles. :/
Acceptance of my requested change goes up the chain and I wait weeks.
Lots of back and forth emails about...wait, if you're doing part-time, you need a visa to stay in the country because you wouldn't qualify for a student one.
Yes I know, as indicated clearly on my application, my company sponsors my being here. Like in real life.
Oh, could you send us a copy of this visa?
Yes, here it is. (Why didn't you ask for this on my application when I declared part-time if you needed this information?).
Oh okay, you're for realz. Here is your part-time acceptance letter.
Umm, this still says full-time. I thought our entire discussion was about how I need part-time.
Oh right, you're right. (Waits for another week or two).
Here is your part-time acceptance letter.
Thank you for making it what it should have been.

(Days Later).
Hello, I'm another administrator who has been involved in this situation: can you send us a copy of your visa?
I already sent it to another one of your admins and you already changed my letter to what I want. I think we're done here.

Anyway, that long story short and I am now in the negotiations about how I will be dividing my time, since it is likely and expected that I will not be able to handle as much work while also doing school part-time. Then comes the discussion about tuition moneys. Omg please give me financial aid, that would be amazing and I wouldn't need to live off ramen and frozen vegetables for the next two years of my life.

But I'd do it, to make my grad school dreams come true. I would do starvation abroad again to pursue this part of my life.

And so I stand, humbly content (now that the grumbles have long-since disappeared) and look forward to my future.

Starting another chapter: UCL, here I come.