Monday, July 26, 2010

elove: the continuing saga

And so begins my mission to get out of my elove membership (legally).

Well, as you may recall, I signed a contract binding me to elove's services against my better judgment. What was I thinking? Why didn't I listen to instinct, the little voice telling me something is up? I agreed to a $2000 plan which I would pay off over two years. This included 12 referrals (dates). My first (and so far only) referral called me the week of Cinco de Mayo before I got his info. We went on a mediocre date that weekend and I gave my feedback immediately. I have heard NOTHING from elove. Not a thing.

I also have been googling "elove scams" and continue to find complaints and info on their shady practices. One particularly interesting page was The Right One Blows Chunks. The Right One is (one of) their former aliases. I basically had all the same "warning signs" he had, which now leads me to believe that my interviewee was totally feeding me scripted, practiced lines. I also read a story where a woman said TRO hired someone to go on a date with her. Yes, they hire stooges (or at least her branch did)!

Given that, I did a google search and facebook search on my old referral wondering if he was a stooge too. He's not on any social networking site, but I found out that his first name given on the referral sheet was a diminutive. Entering his full name, still no social networks, but now I know he worked at ----Bank in 2008 and gave money to the Obama campaign. I called his number again and it's still him (his voice mail answered, I didn't leave a message). Perhaps he was an actual member and not a stooge, but now I'm skeptical.

Before I give them any more of my money, I decided to try and cancel today.

I called membership services saying I wanted to cancel because I was dissatisfied with the service. Shouldn't have said my reason for calling. Of course, my local matchmaker (or whoever she is), Shay, was "on another call." So I left my name and number and was told she would call back. Three hours later, I called back saying I wanted to cancel because I'm not pleased with the service, that I hadn't had a referral since the first one, and that I wanted no more money withdrawn from my bank account. She said even if I cancelled the membership, I would still have to pay. If I didn't cancel within the 3 days after I signed, I'm obligated to pay. Even if I get married. She constantly answered, "No," as in no I can't get out of it.

But coincidentally enough, she was working on a referral for me today and was just waiting on him to call back before sending it to me. Uh huh. I had to call them to get them looking for a referral (or stooge) for me. She said sometimes things are slow over summer because people are on vacation and that sometimes it takes awhile to match people based on the criteria given. I said that I told Kimberly that it was okay if they were lenient on some criteria to get me "out there" and dating. The criteria I gave was already pretty open to begin with! She asked if it was necessary for the man to never have been married and I said that "Divorced is fine," though I honestly don't want anyone with an ex-wife, especially when they are so young. The only non-negotiable was that he can't want or have kids. So I had to loosen up the criteria though I am the one paying the $2000.

I am determined, though, to find some way out of this. I'm tempted to file a complaint to the BBB and just tell the bank to have the payments stopped. The two things I'm wondering about is there's a portion of the contract missing and the business address given does not show up on any google search. I'm trying to see if either makes the contract null and void.

Monday, July 19, 2010

green eyed monster

My single life has been going rather well. I have a new job that I love more than the previous one. I've spent about a month and a half in my new apartment and am loving it more and more every day. I was recently accepted into a Catholic leadership program, which I am excited to begin (though I'm not so pleased about being the darkest one on this year's cohort, once again I'm a token :-P ). I have a great, supportive circle of friends. Finally, I have a variety of road trips and other fun outings coming up this summer. Minus being broke until September (one of the downsides of singledom is living on one paycheck), life is overall satisfying.

Yet recent events amongst my friends are making me, well, a bit jealous. One friend is newly engaged. Another friend-of-a-friend is beginning pre-Cana classes with her fiance. Another friend is two months into a relationship with a man she adores. Another friend has yet another boyfriend. Etcetera etcetera etcetera. And I haven't been on a date since April.

Yes, it's partially my own fault as I've once again neglected my plan to have one new date per month, but it's also partially because of all the changes happening in my life over the past few months! I also need to pester elove to send me another referral. I have 11 more over the next two years. That's about one every other month!

So with several friends in romantic bliss, I can't help but feel like I'm "missing out." Although I love chilling on the couch, falling asleep with one of my kitties on my lap while listening to the smooth jazz radio station, I sometimes think, "It'd be nice to snuggle with a man instead of a cat for once!" I'm an introvert, so I can usually be alone without feeling lonely. Lately though, I am feeling a bit like a "loser." I'm in my mid-twenties and have never even been kissed! I'm sitting at home on a Friday night petting my cats? Have I set myself up for spinsterhood?

It's easy to think there's something "wrong" with me. There are women who are less attractive, less friendly, less intelligent and definitely higher maintenance than me who nonetheless found their match. Am I really too picky? Am I really not putting myself "out there?" Have I "doomed" myself to perpetual singledom because I won't put out until marriage (and what man wants to date a virgin in her mid twenties anyway)?

I know that God's will for my life is better than any plan I might have or society might have for me. I just sometimes wish I knew for sure if God does have a guy for me or if I really am meant to be single.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Taking back our dignity...really?

One of the nun blogs to which I subscribe linked to a website called, "Demand Your Dignity," in honor of today's feast day, which is the feast day of a virgin martyr. FYI, in the Catholic Church, a feast day is the anniversary of the date a saint died.

On the one hand, I think it's totally cool for a nun to link to a somewhat edgy site like this. That ups her coolness and realness to me. I do appreciate that it's a site created by "real men," trying to get the message out there that not all men care about how a woman looks or whether or not she is sexually desirable. They encourage women to demand respect and equality from men in relationships. I have only read a couple articles on the site, but I did enjoyr the "Pressure Against Virgins" article, which argues against the idea that virgins should "downplay their virginity" in relationships. They also link to unknown clothing designers who donate part of their profits to needy organizations and design cute, modest clothes, such as Christa Taylor.

The modesty argument doesn't sit well with me 100% however. I agree that how you dress affects how people see you. Everyone should think about how they dress and what image they want to present to the world. If I'm on a job interview, I shouldn't wear jeans, a t-shirt and gym shoes. If I go to a formal party, I probably shouldn't wear jeans to that either. Different situations call for different "uniforms." I also agree that if you don't want men to look at your large chest, your probably shouldn't wear tight, low-cut clothes. If you don't want men to stare at your butt all night, don't wear tight pants.

However, men need to get their acts together too and learn to control their eyes. I shouldn't have to walk around in a burka all day just because some man can't help staring at me. I've gone to the laundromat in jogging pants and a t-shirt and STILL had men try to flirt with me. No joke. I've been completely covered in a winter coat and men have still said, "Hey baby," to me. It's not just that women are being "too revealing" in their clothing choices. Really, either way, whether I'm dressing like a hoochie to get male attention or dressing like a missionary to avoid their attention, I'm worrying about what men think. So the problem still remains.

It's also one of the things people say to women girls to help them avoid getting raped, i.e. "If you dress like a ho, you have a higher chance of being raped."

Perhaps these men who created demand your dignity dot com also need to make a website for their fellow men telling them, "It doesn't matter what a woman is wearing. You have NO right to stare at her."

Friday, July 2, 2010

Falling in love...with Paris

Paris, the city, that is.

I returned from a quick trip to one of my favorite cities, Paris, France, about a week ago, and I still miss it, almost like a homesickness. Some might wonder why a single person would go on a trip to the City of Love for a vacay. Indeed, I saw many a couple engaging in PDA while there.

Yet I wasn't jealous of them. Rarely did I wish I had a boyfriend on my arm as I roamed aimlessly the rues of Paris. I was just so happy to be back after nine years!

Because I never have had a boyfriend, I don't know what it's like to travel with one. I've only traveled with groups and alone. I must say, travel can be quite fun and satisfying while single. I can go wherever I want, however I want. If I want to walk or take the metro everywhere, I don't have to worry about a fussy travel companion who wants to take expensive taxis. I can stay in a cheap, "real" French hotel (which means just a twin size bed, desk and sink, if I'm lucky...). I do not have to negotiate with a travel buddy who wants more "American" accommodations and therefore end up paying beaucoup euros. I can linger, or leave quickly. I can be serendipitous. I can sit down and have thé au soymilk at a café or just grab falafel "take away." I can be as scheduled or unscheduled as I wish.

Don't eat take-away falafel in Paris, btw. Or take-away Chinese food, for that matter. Really, don't eat anything take-away there...

Upon returning from France, a friend of mine loaned me the movie, "Paris, Je T'aime." I immediately watched it the night she gave me the movie (this was just three days after returning from Paris, by the way). Of course, I loved it, though it was a little painful to see the places I just visited days before.

The short that hit me the most was actually the last one, which was narrated in French by a middle aged woman who had a very American accent. She was a mail carrier and imagined herself delivering letters on the streets of Paris as she strolled about. I admit, as soon as I returned, I wondered what it would take to move to Paris, and get a little job and a little apartment there. It's hard not to imagine dropping everything and moving to Paris after visiting! She described how there were a few times she wished she had someone to say, "Isn't this beautiful?" to. However, overall, she was happy, and cried tears of joy and sadness, but mostly joy. She said that she fell in love with Paris, and believed that Paris also fell in love with her.

Word. That is exactly how I felt. That Paris loved me. I felt surprisingly normal there. I think it was partially because I'm conversational in French and also because I purposely didn't dress like a tourist. No backpack, bandanna and gym shoes this trip! I upped my style a bit. Indeed, I was mistaken for a local a few times while there! The private, introverted nature of Parisians was also very appealing. If Parisians DO hate Americans so much, I can understand why when I think of a stereotypical boisterous, fussy American. Everyone was friendly with me, however.

So no regrets for traveling alone, not even to Paris. The city is beautiful, magnificent, enchanting enough to distract you from whatever tribulations await you back, your other home, rather.