Drawing My Dates: Vodka Lemonade


Sometimes you know you’re not compatible with an online date the moment you see them in-person. They could look drastically different than their pictures or their clothes could look more suitable for a Texas rodeo than a Manhattan cocktail bar. For me it’s often height; at 6’2″ I tend to gravitate to women who are significantly taller than the bar we’re drinking at. If she’s standing in front of me, talking into my belly button I know it’s probably not going to work out.

Even if there’s no physical chemistry most of the time things turn out OK. I’ve learned a lot from meeting women who are smart and successful in different endeavors. While we may not see each other again, having drinks and good conversation makes life better for at least a little while.

This date, however, was not OK. It wasn’t just her fringed leather vest. It was the fact that she talked about herself the entire time. First dates, like job interviews, are usually 50/50 conversations, with a relatively even balance of anecdotes and questions about each other. Unfortunately this date was more like 98/2, with the entire conversation resolved around her move to Jersey City, her commute, her job search, her old job, her old boyfriend, her old apartment, her new apartment, her etc. My feeble attempts to guide our conversation in alternate directions only managed to unearth new subjects for her to pontificate on and fed her self-involvement.

Eventually we sat staring at each other in silence; she was obviously bored with me and the feeling was mutual. I tossed back the last of my vodka lemonade and she disappeared to the ladies room as I was served the check. We parted ways the moment we stepped outside and were both relieved that the night was over.

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Drawing My Dates: Iced Tea and Pinot Gris


Most dating advice tells you to “present your best self” but sometimes it’s good to find a fellow bruised soul and share war stories of the challenges navigating life and love. Early in my online dating adventure I met a woman who had also recently divorced and there was a moment where we both let down our guard and commiserated on our recent break ups. She told me of the difficulty of dealing with the destruction of her marriage while simultaneously keeping up appearances at her job. “Sometimes I’ll just close my office door and break down in tears,” she said. “I’ll cry for like ten minutes, then straighten myself up and walk back out as if nothing happened.” I said I was lucky because, since I worked from home, I could collapse in tears whenever I felt like it.

I was out of work for a number of years and, while freelance gigs kept me afloat, income fluctuation made balancing finances difficult. For the most part I acted more confident of my bank account than I could reasonably justify. After all, who would want to date my broke-ass? It’s a balancing act of trying to impress someone by paying for everything without burning giant holes in my wallet, which NYC is apt to do. This makes it refreshing to meet a fellow artist who’s also struggling to make things work.

I met an actress recently over iced tea and wine at Le Pain Quotidien and within minutes we were deep into the difficulties of making a living as a middle-aged artist and competing with younger people for jobs. How do you age in this city when there are no roles for women in their late 40s? How do you find jobs when you’re competing with people who are more than 10 years younger, twice as energized and half as jaded? While she was on the verge of getting kicked out of her apartment she actually seemed confident that she was going to pull through. I sympathized with her plight and explained that I had been in a similar difficult position over a year ago but eventually found steady work and am glad to be on solid ground. Things aren’t perfect but there’s always a way to make things work. We parted on a hopeful note and she disappeared into the chaos of Seventh Ave.

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Drawing My Dates: Chai Tea, Doughnuts and Water

drawing of tea
A date doesn’t get much less expensive than a small doughnut and a paper cup of water from the pitcher at the end of the coffee counter. Going out with someone who doesn’t drink, either alcohol or caffeine, makes things pretty good on the wallet, but it does make planning early dates a bit of a challenge.

I have a friend who told me that men sometimes get offended when she tells them she doesn’t drink. “What do you do then?” they ask. “Not even just a little? C’mon!” Those dates don’t last long. She gets completely turned off by their pestering and lack of imagination, while they get thrown off their game and can’t handle either not drinking or being soberly watched while they throw back cocktail after cocktail.

Doughnut Plant on 23rd street in Manhattan is a fun place to meet for an online date… if you can manage to get a seat on a busy Saturday afternoon. Like most coffee shops in the city, the tables are packed pretty close together. While it’s already awkward sitting down for the first time with a stranger you met online, it’s especially unsettling doing so when there are people at both your elbows. It can feel like you’ve got a snarky audience for every clumsy utterance you make… and they’re probably tweeting about it too. I usually just plow through those first few minutes and hopefully come to a decent topic of conversation pretty quickly. After all, we’ve been online pen-pals for a brief period already so we’ve got something to talk about, right? We did and wound up carrying our conversations together for the next couple months.

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Drawing My Dates: Hot Tea, Iced Coffee, and Whoopie Pies

drawing of whoopie pies

Going on a date in DUMBO means dodging numerous fashion photo shoots. On my way to One Girl Cookies I must have seen 3 different clusters of models, stylists and photographers, all anxiously awaiting a lull in traffic. Then they’d leap off the curb and pose, with the photographer splayed across the ground, attempting to get a low-angle shot framed by cobble stone streets, industrial buildings, and the Manhattan Bridge. I can only imagine how bad it is when a wedding party shows up for pictures.

One Girl Cookies was a perfect place to meet, with whoopie pies being a pleasant, earthy alternative to ubiquitous Manhattan macaroons. We had a relaxing afternoon seeing my friend’s art at an adjacent gallery and biding our time leafing through used books at P.S. Bookshop. Sweet.

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Drawing My Dates: Red Wine and Olives

drawing of wine and olives
I figured I’d blown this online date right at the start by talking about Shirley Temple. For some reason I began our conversation by describing the song “On the Good Ship Lollipop” and how the 1934 movie “Bright Eyes” had 5 year old Shirley Temple dancing on a crowded airplane with a bunch of grown men as they handed her lollipops and patted her face with powdered sugar and melted chocolate.

“Totally creepy!” I exclaimed and she looked at me blankly. She was a lawyer and I found myself unable to read her expression, but it didn’t look good. I spent the next five minutes recovering and I must have done a decent job because we hung out the next couple hours, drinking red wine and sharing a plate of olives. A quick hug goodbye outside in the rain and that was the last I saw of her.

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10-Pack of Printable Mazes

mazeFor the past year the student newspaper of Stevens Institute of Technology, The Stute, has been publishing my weaving mazes. It’s been wonderful to see a project that started as a meditative daily practice move into print and I look forward to seeing them every Friday. I’ve put together ten of these mazes into a printable PDF. Have fun and get lost!

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