2010 – 2011.8: LTR #2

Lessons Learned
Exercise options. Don’t have options? Create them!
Switching gears, from spinning plates to LTR. Know what you like. If you haven’t figured that out yet, know what you don’t like, and work from there.
Contrary to what is popularly maintained, moms aren’t looking to make their boys into ‘betas’. They just have trouble articulating what really counts: Know your value. Don’t sell yourself short.

Body

The time: Fall, 2010
The place: University of Tulsa, Tulsa, Oklahoma, USA

I was back in the US, having spent a short couple of weeks in China, and I’d just made a big fucking mistake. The drama of my summer and my first LTR had been the topic of many conversations with my family, and I had just been served with a very real, quite permanent protective order.

Could have, should have, would have.. It bothered me to no small degree that I, such a good and wholesome young man, could be subject to such humiliation by someone who I should never have gotten so hopelessly involved with. As my mother would remind me, “If you listened to me, you would have it so much easier.”

This shit show was my doing, and I’d have to make my own way out of it.

“I’m young, I’m handsome, I’m fast, I’m pretty, and I can’t possibly be beat!” – Muhammed Ali

All told, I was feeling quite fortunate, even though I’d received this slap on the wrist. I knew that, if the truth were told, I’d have supporters. I was due to graduate in December: this semester would be my last hurrah. After that, an envious job would await, and I’d be clawing my way up the corporate ladder like so many other youth entering the oil and gas industry. The job market was looking good, and I was confident in my ability to find an opportunity.

With classes back in session, I was eager to get ahead of where I’d already been.

I’d been visiting with JS over the summer. She was a pretty chill graduate student, and we had known each other since my freshman year. Over the course of the summer, in the aftermath of my first LTR, I’d made clear my intentions. She knew that I wanted her, but she remained just out of reach. I decided to double down on my effort to attain her in the short run.

There were also a bunch of new students. I observed that the number of Chinese undergraduates around campus had gone up considerably since I started school in 2007, and there were a couple of cute ones roaming the corridors of Keplinger Hall.

In which I next my oneitis and start spinning plates. Dating.

With JS, it was unpredictable whether my efforts would be rewarded or not. I got the feeling that she didn’t miss my presence. Still, I was hung up on her, and I took her out to dinner the night before leaving Tulsa on a week-long trip to Italy in late-September. I visited Florence, host of the 2010 Annual Technical Conference and Exhibition, the largest event of its kind in the oil and gas industry. While in Italy, I even made a long-distance phone call to let her know that she was on my mind. JS was friendly enough, but I was clueless about how to convert her from being a friend to a lover.

The week in Italy had its share of ups and downs. My Petrobowl team lost our first round, and we were summarily eliminated from the competition. One positive thing that emerged from the trip was a renewed focus on getting things moving forward in my life. I listed out some goals for both the short and the long term. Among my 1-2 month goals: Relationships (party) (get the girl)

So what’s a young man to do when he’s pining for the one? Cue The Rational Male a.k.a. Rollo Tomassi: spin plates.

Within a few weeks of getting back stateside, things started to pick up. I found a girl at my school that looked attractive on Facebook and sent her a message. “Hey, you look interesting, let’s get together.” Let’s call her Z.

We met up at a Starbucks in town and chatted for a bit. I beat her to the Starbucks by a few minutes, so I surprised her by walking up to her before she ordered. She looked up at me and shyly looked away. I invited her to come sit down with me.

She was an exchange student from China’s University of Petroleum, in Tulsa for two years on this 2+2 program which had just started between our schools the year before. Unlike the petroleum engineers who had come in the program’s inaugural year, she was a business student. I cut things short while conversation was still interesting, and we each drove back to the campus in our own cars. I was a little dismayed that she didn’t look quite like she did in her photo, but pleased that the meeting had gone alright.

I took Z out to go see a movie one night. She let me drive her car there, a sporty little Lexus convertible. While we sat next to one another in the theater, I caught her body language. She looked receptive, but I didn’t do anything there. I invited her to come into my apartment after we left the theater and offered her some tea to drink. We sat on opposite couches and talked until she went back to her place, leaving me to spend another night alone.

The next time that I saw her was at her apartment. I just showed up and invited myself in. She was doing some homework, and I dicked around for a bit before leaving, having accomplished nothing much at all.

Looking back now, I realize that I was provided easy opportunities to escalate, but I never so much as touched Z beyond, say, a tap on her shoulder. I firmly believe that the three date rule has been drilled into the minds of most adults. She fell entirely out of contact, something that I will come back to later.

Meanwhile, I started contingency planning for my professional life. I took a roadtrip to Austin one weekend in October, telling myself that I might have to apply for graduate studies at the University of Texas if things didn’t pan out optimally. I hit up two girls I knew beforehand and let them know that I’d be looking to be shown around.

One of the two was IG: younger sister like (she was my sister’s age), I talked with her about my feelings during my relationship with AL, revealing a real soft side that I otherwise kept separate. She was my confidante because she was a good listener. It also helped that she was close friends with AL.

I left feeling pretty swell, having spent the weekend sightseeing and fooling around inside of a dorm room with IG. She was a virgin and I wound her up until she offered to let me take her virginity, but I declined, telling her kindly that I didn’t want to shoulder that responsibility.

Back at school, I hung out with friends as time would allow. The stress of my course load combined with the job search kept me busy. I boarded an airplane for Bakersfield, California a week after my trip to Austin for an on-site interview with Occidental, and accompanied JS to check out the Bodies exhibition upon my return.

Human fetus at Bodies
Human fetus at Bodies

Enter M

I met her on Halloween night. I’d tagged along with Wes and J to see where the night might lead us. M was a friend of a friend, and I thought she looked pretty cute. We didn’t talk much, but I got her number later and made plans to take her out to dinner a few days later.

I picked M up from her apartment on campus and talked with her on the way to dinner. She was a 2+2 student, like Z, studying in the business school. Once seated across the table from her in the restaurant, I could observe the imperfections in her skin, which she had tried to cover up. On the way back to campus, I kept mostly silent, and she did too. I dropped her back off at her apartment, waited until she had gotten into her unit, and drove back home.

I didn’t contact M again for a while after that first date.

Microcosmos

On November 13, 2010, I had my two lower wisdom teeth extracted at the office of Dr. Wayne Scott Harrington in Tulsa, OK. Dr. Harrington went on to make local and international news in 2013, when rusty instruments used at his clinic put thousands at risk for hepatitis and HIV. My friend Na-M picked me up from the clinic and helped me get situated comfortably back at home. That evening, my jaw still pounding, I invited M over to watch Microcosmos (cop it on Blu-ray at Amazon.com). I called, and she picked up: she was at an event with some classmates, but she’d come over at 8:30pm.

Cool, I thought to myself. That was easy.

When she came over, I popped another Lortab and poured her a glass of wine. We settled down in the corner of the living room that I’d set up as a media area. It was JS who had told me about Microcosmos and, amidst the artful closeups, I ran my fingers through M’s hair. She trembled a little in response. I gave her a kiss and she, timid at first, began to reciprocate. We made out as the movie played on, and then made plans to see each other again.

From Virgin to Fucktoy

Building comfort with M came along naturally. We talked about books that we liked. It turned out that both of us had a thing for Jack Kerouac’s On the Road (Amazon.com). She dug my musical tastes and my MP3 collection. She found a song by Blur that she liked in particular, “Coffee and TV”

During one extended make out session, she let me know that she was a virgin. She’d had one boyfriend before me, but they’d broken up before she came to the US for her two years of study. I ate her out in response.

It wasn’t long before she was spending every night with me. Somewhere in the two week span from when I’d gotten my wisdom teeth extracted to my next journal entry, we had sex for our first time. I remember that I’d gently aroused her until she decided that she didn’t want to wait any longer. I grabbed a towel from my bathroom and placed it beneath her, then penetrated her slowly as she held my hand. Just one long, smooth thrust, after which we lay and kissed a while. The next time, I told her, would be different.

December 1st, 2010

Yesterday, I took [M] to Starship Records (a head shop at 1241 S Lewis Ave, near TU’s campus). Today, I had sex with her in the shower while the new Kanye West CD (My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy) played in the background.

Her sex drive was like mine: remarkably active, bordering on insatiable. We’d have sex multiple times on most days. I once took a waterproof camera into the shower, snapping candids while penetrating her from behind. The shower sessions were fun, but limited by the hot water tank in my apartment. We’d film ourselves having sex, then have sex while watching the film later.

Whether giving or receiving, M was both enthusiastic and willing to experiment. She introduced me to the fire and ice blowjob and the toe-curling sensation of receiving a rimming.

I think back fondly to those times where I’d leave her naked, sheen of sweat all over her body, as I made a dash across the street to get to class.

That Loving Feeling

As time came to pass, I developed loving feelings for M. She and I fit together beautifully — it seemed that we were made just right for one another. She stuck together with me through the uncertainty of those days and kept me company long into the nights.

We’d entered into this relationship with the knowledge that I might leave Tulsa by the end of the year, but it was becoming apparent that I would not be able to graduate that semester. Rather, I wasn’t willing to take that step, not without anything waiting for me on the other side. I was so focused on moving my life forward that leaving the structured environment of school was unthinkable.

I attributed the difficulty that I experienced in the job hunt to the fact that I was graduating out of cycle. With no offers of admission for graduate school (I hadn’t even started an application), I consulted my parents. They suggested that it was best for me to remain in school for another semester, so I enrolled in a new petroleum engineering course and a course in game theory.

That first winter break, she went home to Beijing, and I went out west to meet up with my family for a road trip.

Reflection on M

I’ll save the details of my winter break for another piece. In the time that I’d known M, I observed a few things about her:

  • She was fairly low maintenance
  • She did a lot of online shopping
  • She was messy
  • She came from a good family
  • She really liked dolling up

Reuniting After Winter Break

I picked M up from Tulsa International Airport on January 8, 2011. I took a single flower with me to the airport. We continued right where we left off, and all was good.

Snapshots
Snapshots

Spring Break

I took M on a road trip through Texas. Prior to heading out, I had her pick up a bikini for my pleasure. We’d be staying at hotels, and I reckoned that we ought to put use to those swimming pools.

I measure that waist-hip-ratio at 0.69
I measure that waist-hip-ratio at 0.69
Our first stopping point was Dallas. We left the next morning for Austin. From there, we drove onwards, to San Antonio.

Before heading to Austin, I let IG know of my schedule, and we arranged to meet up on 6th Street. She had been hanging out with this guy, FH, who was renting the apartment unit that her parents had bought for her. FH struck me as being a typical nice guy.

When we met on 6th Street, I introduced M to IG. The two of them exchanged pleasantries. Meanwhile, FH heckled me, insinuating that I’d forced IG into letting me have my way with her back in October. I was shaken, but I held my ground. I let him mouth off a bit, then told him, “FH, this is our first time meeting. Let’s try to keep it friendly.”

This didn’t have the desired effect on FH. He harped on loudly. I gritted my teeth and warned him against continuing. When he didn’t stop, I pulled my keys from my pocket, gripped one tightly in my fist, and jabbed FH in the throat. He quit yapping, but now he wanted a fight. I grabbed him in a headlock, but he slipped out as IG came in to intervene. FH stood back now with a hand to his neck.

“He hit me!” FH said to IG, “I’m going to go to the police!”

I shrugged it off: he should have known better than to verbally assault a stranger. I looked at IG and growled at her, “Tell your bitch to back off.”

I took M by the hand and we walked 6th Street before retiring for the evening. We had better things to do, like spending two days at Sea World and hitting up the outlet malls.

The birthday party of March 26th & The AMOG

One of the Kazakh guys living in my apartment building said hi to me and invited me to celebrate his birthday with him.

I went alone. There were mostly his countrymen, some girls from there as well. The night had already gotten started by the time that I showed up, and I was encouraged by my host to begin drinking to catch up for my tardiness. I recognized most of the people present, even if I hadn’t had much interaction with them.

I joined in the celebratory consumption of alcohol, chatting with those that I recognized. For a while, I joined in a guess the song game, but I was entirely clueless. Most of the tracks were unfamiliar to me, taken from a nightlife scene that I’d never gotten into. Quite drunk, I sat down next to an acquaintance, DG. Birthday boy’s friends were making long toasts, and DG helped guide my understanding by translating to the best of his ability. We drank some wine together.

Then, BB’s roommate came stumbling out of his room and headed over to the computer, where he began changing the music. I’m not sure what triggered it, but I looked over later to find Yerden Zhussupov pummeling BB’s roommate. He had begun kicking at the guy, who’d assumed the fetal position, at which point I moved over. I probably told him to leave the other guy be. One never should kick a man when he’s down.

A mistake on my part, as the next thing I knew, I had been hit once in the head. Another blow quickly followed, and we were on the ground. I did what I could to protect my head from further blows before Yerden’s friends pulled him off of me. As he was pulled off, he spat on the ground and laughed, shouting belligerently in words that I couldn’t understand. I got up and heard Yerden’s friends all telling me to leave, leave now. I didn’t move quickly enough, because Yerden got loose and got in another hit.

DG helped me find my glasses, which were bent out of shape. My face was stinging and I couldn’t comprehend why this had just taken place. He apologized to me for his friend’s behavior, said that he was drunk and that I should just leave.

I walked outside and started to go down the stairs when I saw Tulsa police officers heading up. They began asking questions of one of BB’s guests, who stayed by the door, fending them off. Maybe I got a cop’s attention and tried to explain what happened. Maybe I just walked off. In any case, I was soon back in the comfort of my own apartment.

M made a noise when I got into my room. It was late, but I let her know what had happened and went to sleep things off.

In the morning, I woke to find myself with a black eye from the night before.

20110327-Black-Eye

I got to Yerden Zhussupov through his friends and asked him to pay for the damage to my glasses. He seemed agreeable at first. The temple on my Silhouette glasses frame was bent, and I learned that a replacement would cost $100. I let him know this through BU, my classmate and PetroBowl team member (as well as a friend of Yerden’s). I waited, but with no response, I went directly to Yerden’s apartment and knocked on the door.

One of Yerden Zhussupov’s friends opened the door, holding a half-eaten plate of food. I asked to speak with Yerden, who quickly came outside, closing the door behind him. I asked Yerden for payment for the damage that he had caused. Meanwhile, he stepped right up to me, as if to invite me to take the first swing. I was quaking when he came up to me: classic fight or flight response upon being literally inches away from an aggressor who had previously taken a cheap shot.

He refused, saying that it was too much. I started… He had agreed earlier, what was this? He said that he would pay for half of it, and denied responsibility for attacking me, saying that I had been the one who’d instigated the fight. I thought a moment — better to get something than nothing at all — and accepted, turning to return home.

I was caught off guard by how utterly unapologetic he was. Instead of admitting fault or apologizing for his drunken behavior, he tried to push culpability onto me. Stupefied and insulted by his lack of neighborly behavior, I walked off, determined to settle matters without another physical confrontation.

Looking back, this is perhaps a pivotal moment. I stood down when he invited me to throw a blow at him. Before I put words to this situation, I often questioned how the outcome might have changed had I gone for a headbutt or a knee to the groin.

Building deep bonds before leaving TU / Puppies!

During a routine afternoon outing, not long after the birthday party of March 26th, I spotted a man standing on the side of 71st St. The sign read, “Yorkie puppies for sale”. I turned to M and asked her if she’d like to see some cute dogs. She said yes, so I pulled into the parking lot, where I located a woman standing beside a small playpen.

There were a couple of other people leaning over the playpen. I parked the car and walked M over. She saw the puppies and wanted one immediately. I got the woman’s phone number just as a Tulsa Police Department squad car pulled up to ask the couple to leave, because their sign was distracting drivers.

That evening, I talked M through the decision. The puppy would eventually grow to become a dog. She heard me out, and promised me that she would not renege on her decision.

The next morning, April 2nd, I called the woman’s number and readied enough cash to pick up two dogs. I’d decided that if M was getting a dog, I might as well get one from the same litter. I drove the two of us to the couple’s home, and they showed us to the backyard.

There had been four puppies in the litter (three male, one female), but the female had already been sold. The woman told me that the puppies had broken off into coupled playmates: we observed one male sulking forlornly while the other two pranced about the yard. M already knew that she wanted the most diminutive of the three. I looked at it, being chased around the yard by its brother, while the third brother stood off to the side by himself. I decided I’d take the pair of playmates.

Paul and Taka
Paul and Taka
Fast forward to the days leading up to my graduation. I had barely started packing, and my parents and sister were coming into town for my big day. Time was moving much too quickly, and I struggled to take in every bit of M that I could before our impending separation. After an evening romp, we’d lie intertwined and talk until the early morning. The future was frighteningly uncertain. At this time, I was unaware that I had been accepted into the University of Missouri’s MBA program, and that I would be receiving a full scholarship inclusive of a teaching assistantship. The only real option that I had was a spot in the petroleum engineering graduate program at Texas A&M, located in College Station.

Graduation Week

My parents came to my apartment to find it in a state of disarray – the place was how I normally kept it, save for a few boxes pushed up against the walls. M put on her best face to meet my parents, showing them utmost courtesy and respect. My dad was quite pleased to meet M, and he beamed enthusiastically as she offered him tea. My mom was curt: the memory of my first LTR still lingered on the forefront of her mind. We raised you to be in the top 1%… Why these girls? Both my parents were more than a little off-put by the presence of the puppies.

On that same day (?), I received a letter from the University of Missouri informing me that I had been admitted with a full tuition waiver to the Crosby MBA Program. The only trouble was I’d never heard of Columbia, Missouri. A quick search for the city on Wikipedia didn’t reveal much aside from the fact that it was to the University of Missouri system what Austin was to the University of Texas. Could this be my next home for the foreseeable future? My parents were just as excited as I was about the offer, and they decided to take an expeditionary trip to Columbia. They left me to box up my shit.

M and I resumed our shared life in my apartment. I barely packed. When my parents came back, they were disappointed by my pitiful progress, but their overall impression of Columbia was excellent. They thought that I would enjoy it very much, and so I made my decision to enter the Crosby MBA Program class of ’13.

The University of Tulsa wanted everyone out of its apartments within a couple of days following graduation. Alice and my parents saw that I was having trouble dealing with the enormity of my personal possessions, and they set about helping me assemble everything into boxes. We packed vigorously on May 6, but there still remained much to be done by May 7, my graduation day.

My Graduation from TU on May 7

I attended my graduation with under two hours of rest from packing and dicking around the night before.

May 7, 2011. 3:10:55 - 3:11:09
May 7, 2011. 3:10:55 – 3:11:09
I looked and felt like shit. I’d failed to grab my Tau Beta Pi sash or the ribbon for Honors Program graduates, so I bore few trappings of my academic success.

A rare picture that I took of myself at commencement
A rare picture that I took of myself at commencement
My party joined those of J and Wes W to enjoy lunch, but not before I went back to my apartment to set down my graduation gown and to check on the puppies. I tossed down my gown and placed the puppies in my bathroom. M set up the tension-lock gate that I used to keep them from wandering past doorways, and then I decided to shut the bathroom door for good measure.

When we got back to my apartment after lunch, we kept on packing. My parents had arranged to meet up with a family friend for dinner. I opened the bathroom door to check on the puppies and cursed upon finding dog shit smeared all over the tiled floor. The tension-lock gate laid on its side by the door. I observed something was amiss about Taka: he was wet about the face, as if he’d face planted into a pool of water, and his breathing was ragged.

I gave Taka a bath and dried him off, but found his face wet all over again. I excused myself from packing, knowing that the puppy wasn’t well, and I drove Taka to an emergency veterinary clinic. The kind woman there had graduated from the University of Missouri – Columbia’s veterinary school, and while administering care to Taka, she told me that she and her husband had been longing to head back to Columbia.

I returned to my apartment hoping that Taka would recover now that he’d been injected with an expectorant. Unfortunately, his condition didn’t appear to be improving. We were late for dinner now, and I told me parents to leave me to pack and to make sure that Taka went on living. I took Taka to another emergency animal clinic now that the first one had closed. They x-rayed him and found fluid accumulating in one of his lungs – I speculate that M failed to set the tension-lock gate properly, and that it had fallen on top of Taka, delivering a severe shock to his ribcage. The clinic kept Taka inside of an oxygen-rich cell overnight. The bill came out to ~$400.

I didn’t finish boxing my things and moving them into the U-Haul until the early hours of the morning. With the last of my things placed inside, I drove my car over to M’s apartment and settled in with her for a brief respite. I slept for all of thirty minutes before getting up and taking her to the emergency animal clinic and back, at which point I wished her good bye.

Moving to Columbia, MO

My mother accompanied me on the drive over to Columbia. If not for her, God only knows whether I would have made it at all. I took the first shift behind the wheel of the U-Haul, my BMW E46 in tow. It was my first time driving a truck, less one with a trailer. We’d hardly started out on the interstate before fatigue began to take hold. My mother was shocked to learn that I’d hardly slept, and she offered to take over. We pulled over to take a rest stop. She drove for a couple of hours while I slept in the passenger seat.

We spent the first night in Columbia at the Courtyard Inn at I-70 and US-63. The next day, we went to the leasing office at the Greens of Columbia, took a tour of a two-bedroom unit, and I signed a one-year rental agreement. I explored the city of Columbia with my mom and paid a visit to the University of Missouri. Meanwhile, I kept in constant contact with M. She was staying in Tulsa for the first half of the summer to attend classes, and there was sufficient time for her to take a visit.

M Visits Missouri

I picked up M from St. Louis Lambert International Airport. She stayed with me for a week, during which time we visited the state capitol in Jefferson City and wandered the city of Columbia. My mother complained about M endlessly: M wore too much makeup, she slept in the passenger seat during drives instead of keeping me focused on the road, and she slept too much during the day. M was worn down by my mother.

One day, M went into my bedroom and cried in the closet. My mother reacted irrationally, threatening to call the police to have M taken away from my apartment. I told her to stay out of it, and meanwhile enjoyed M’s company, but the incident left a profound impact on M. She was used to being treated well by adults, and she was devastated that my mother didn’t approve of her.

M celebrated her birthday in Columbia, but the occasion didn’t go over well. The air was too heavy, and M’s mind occupied with figuring out what she had done to offend my mother’s good graces.

M had a flight to catch out of STL on May 22, 2011. I took her to explore the sights around St. Louis. We went to the American Kennel Club museum, had lunch in The Hill neighborhood, ventured to the top of the Gateway Arch, and snapped photos around Citygarden. After a day of fun, I dropped M off at STL and started on my way back to Columbia.

I’d gotten less than halfway there when I received a call from her. Due to inclement weather, her flight was being delayed. The rain was pouring down hard where I was, too, and I exited off of I-70 to seek shelter beneath a gas station as it began to hail. M’s flight was then cancelled, leaving her stranded in St. Louis until the next day.

I drove back to STL to get her while making arrangements to stay at the Renaissance Grand hotel in downtown St. Louis. If we were going to be stuck in St. Louis, we may as well be stuck in style.

Weekend Trips

Across the summer, I drove from Columbia to Tulsa to visit M on at least two separate occasions. I would pack my belongings on Wednesday nights, drive to MU for classes on Thursdays, return immediately to my apartment to pick up Paul, and depart before 2PM. This allowed me to arrive in Tulsa in the early evening.

I earned a couple of speeding tickets on the drives over.

The last time that I saw M that summer was on the weekend before she went back to Beijing.

After she went back to Beijing, I began lusting to explore my new city. Columbia has a massive student population and an active downtown bar scene. M’s calls to me during that period became annoyances that distracted me from my desire to explore: it felt like she was calling all hours of the day. I would hang up the phone angrily after insisting that I was doing fine and that I didn’t want to talk with her, while driving to check out yet another bar.

This energy continued even after she returned to Tulsa. She sent me a text one night asking if I was ready to face the difficulty between us like a man. The relationship that I had cultivated was now a source of distress in my life, and my mind rattled through the long list of negatives that my mother had drawn up about M. I could do better than her. When she finally called to express her feelings, I let her loose.