Saturday, April 30, 2011

Flirting, and How I Don't

Is there some sort of medical term to describe the inability to attract the opposite sex? The other night I googled "how to flirt successfully" partly out of boredom but also partly out of desperation. I read about five articles, all of which were fairly similar in context: describing flirting as an art that is primarily fueled by instinct (and common sense). Maybe I was born without this crucial human trait, because I have had absolutely no luck when it comes to flirting. Ever.

Everyone who knows me even decently well knows that I am boyfriend-hungry (I think my biological clock is a bit fast), and have been for a few years now. Of course, while it has certainly been on my mind, it didn't generally distress me throughout my High School years, not including the all-important struggle of obtaining a partner to go with me to Prom (in the end, I was one of the only girls in my large group of friends to not have a date). However, after graduation, being so-close to becoming a sophomore in college, and watching as more and more of my friends find boyfriends (or new boyfriends), it has become increasingly important to me.

I know well enough that if I want to snag me one of these elusive creatures, I need to put myself out there and work for it. In homage to this fact, I take pains to dress appropriately cute and fix my hair and face whenever I'm going to be going out to any sort of public facility. Sure enough, I usually run into at least one seemingly-single young male. This is where flirting comes in, and likewise where I fall figuratively (and sometimes literally) flat on my face.

Before I get ahead of myself, I should enlighten you to my current "strategy" to approaching bachelors.

Step 1: Look terrified, unconsciously (and unintentionally) bored, or grouchy.

Step 2: If your target seems to possibly be looking in your direction but you aren't sure, make a really stupid face.

Step 3: Avoid eye contact. Chew on lip. Act busy.

Step 4: If engaged in conversation, panic. Temporarily lose sense of humor and simultaneously insert foot in mouth.

Alright, so that might be a bit of an exaggeration, but no matter how confident I feel in a situation, as soon as a cute guy looks at me or talks to me, I clam up and get incredibly nervous. There have been times, of course, where I've actually been able to bring myself to do something fairly credible--but then either get shut down prematurely or find out that the guy is taken or gay (or both).

Today was an all-time low. Being called to come in for an extra day to work, I was too disappointed about losing my day off to bother dressing very nicely (we have a very lenient dress code), simply going to work in a plain T-shirt, a clean pair of jeans, and old sneakers.

For the first time in weeks, I encountered a seemingly endless flow of cute guys! Guys that weren't too old or young for me, no less! Equipped without any form of confidence, not even my "sly" attempts at showing cleavage by bending (as opposed to stooping) down to put books away in the lower-shelves garnered me a single glance.

Sometimes I wonder if maybe the world is conspiring against me to ensure that I stay single and alone, as every time I feel attractive and self-confident, there are never any guys around, and every time I feel like my self-esteem has been thrown off a cliff I run into a nice-enough looking gentleman every five seconds. In the end, though, it all comes back to my lack of natural instinct when it comes to flirting.

Noodle says I should just go up and talk to them. Personally, I'm too afraid of coming off as a total creeper by doing this. What do you think? Any suggestions? Stories from personal experience? Lessons learned?

One thing is for sure: I'm never dressing lazily for work again.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Cosplay Groups: Are They For You?

Not very much has happened to me lately that I think is fun enough to write about, surprisingly. This more than likely has to do with the fact that I've been horribly sick all week, but lets not dwell on that. I should, by all means, take this opportunity to work on my portfolio for my Creative Writing class, which happens to be due in a week from today, but naturally I'd rather write something that isn't going to be graded, like a blog post. My friend Noodle suggested that I write about cosplay.

I cosplay. I know a decent amount about cosplay. I have a lot to say about cosplay. This was a very good idea. So I think, for a little while, I'm going to litter this blog with tips and suggestions I can give on the art of cosplay. At least until I have more things to write about. Now, I don't think I'm the greatest cosplayer, and never claimed to be, but I think that I've done it for enough years now to be considered knowledgeable on the subject.

Don't expect many pictures, though. Not that I'm shy about my cosplay or anything, but quite frankly I don't have very may pictures of my own to share...and even less that are halfway decent. Oh, and my camera is broken.

For my first installment: cosplaying in a group. I don't just mean being with others who cosplay; I'd like to assume that you're going to be with friends when you go to a convention, whether you cosplay or not. By group cosplay I mean coordinating your cosplay with a group, so each of you dresses as a separate character from the same series. I, personally, love cosplaying in a group. Two years ago I switched from cosplaying independently to cosplaying with a group, and don't plan on turning back.

Don't assume, however, that I'm implying group cosplay is sunshine and rainbows or necessarily better. True, I prefer group cosplay, but is it for you? If you have never cosplayed in a group before (or at all), there's a lot you should consider before deciding whether or not to give it a shot at the next convention.

First of all, keep in mind the character you're planning on cosplaying as. Is he or she a character that makes sense to pose with others? If your selected character is supposed to be a loner or a villain, or just a character who never seems to be seen around others in a series, interaction with an in-character group might feel awkward and disjointed. If your selected character is part of a main cast, however, or a recurring character widely known by the main cast, cosplaying in a group would be much more fun, and more people are guaranteed to be drawn to you to take a picture. In short, if you don't want constant in-character interaction, aren't much of a people-person, don't want your picture taken excessively, or any mixture of the above, I'd recommend against group cosplay.

Second of all, keep in mind that more people means the more likely there will be drama. Not necessarily that there will be drama, of course, but still worth considering, especially if you decide to form a group out of contacts you don't know very well personally. I've never made a group that didn't consist of at least some friends I'd been well acquainted with at that point, so I can't give much advice on Internet-formed groups who meet spontaneously at a con, but I know that it happens fairly frequently. Just realize that the less you know about your prospective group, the more stressful (and unpredictable) it could become. If you're going to set up a group, try and do it with people you can spend hours with for days in a row comfortably (aka without tearing your hair out). Cosplay and conventions aren't supposed to be about obligation and stress. We want to have fun when we cosplay!

Next, know your limits! If you want to cosplay in a group, you're going to need to be flexible, and also have room to be disappointed. When you play the assignment of roles game, it's very possible, especially if the anime/manga/game/cartoon/comic wasn't your idea to cosplay, or you didn't already make or buy your costume, that you won't get the character you want. The same applies for a series in general. You might want to cosplay one series, everyone else might vote for a different one. I've been stuck in a situation before where I cosplayed as a character from a series I had never seen until it was set in stone I would be cosplaying it, but still had fun in-character with my group regardless of my neutral ground on the anime. If you don't think you can deal with sacrificing your wants for a group member who's more physically suited to play that character, or dress up as a character from a series you've never heard of before or simply have no interest in, you'll cause conflict in your group, and should probably stick to an independent cosplay as the character you want.

Finally, being in a group means that you've made a commitment. You might not be able to go to all the things you want to go to, because more of your group members would rather go to different events that take place at the same time. Being in a group, above all things, means making compromises to assure things work effectively. If you can't handle acting as a unit, or really have a problem with having your personal space invaded, a cosplay group may not be suited for you.

So, I hoped that my advice might help some of you who aren't sure about whether or not they want to try and form a more cohesive cosplay with a group of people. If you have a chance, though, and feel adventurous, I say go for it! If worse comes to worse, you can all just stop cosplaying together; all it takes is a change of clothes. Every experience will give different results depending on the factors that shape it, so whether or not what I say applies to you for good or bad, you can still have a great time with your friends at an upcoming convention.

Happy conning, everyone! Stay tuned for my next cosplay entry, which may or may not be about either wig choice or a little thing I like to call "the creep factor".

Friday, April 8, 2011

How the UPS Trolled Me

I recently came to the conclusion that I have an unhealthy fascination with receiving packages in the mail. There's something so thoroughly satisfying about being home to sign off a box or thick envelope or what-have-you that the delivery man brings to the door, and then being able to rip it open without reserve.

A couple weeks ago I ordered a few DVDs online, after I came home from work, and I'm pretty sure my heart stopped in the brief instant it took me to click the "finish payment" option. I'd never bought anything online by myself before. It was a glorious sensation. I felt so adult! For once, I was in control of my life.

It was not this purchase, however, that made me realize my problem. Rather, my good friend of many years informed me that she was sending me a gift (a newly released video game to be more specific) from her home a few states over, and that I should be receiving it the following Saturday, if the tracking calculations were correct.

Saturday came. Saturday went. No package.

Alright, no problem. I was going to give the UPS the benefit of the doubt and assume that they had my gift, but it hadn't been marked for Saturday delivery and therefore I'd get it on Monday.

Monday came. As you can probably imagine, I was on my toes. I even found an excuse not to go to school so I could be at home when the package found its way to my doorstep. All day I kept my ears open, listening for the sound of a truck, or of the gate--anything that suggest to me a box was being dropped off. Every five seconds I would make my way to to the front door with the utmost stealth (stealth being in this case running at break-neck speed and crashing into walls in my haste), just in case I'd scare away the elusive creature that was the UPS truck.

Unfortunately for me, by the time dinner rolled around nothing had come. A few false alarms in the forms of motorcycles roaring down the road or relatives in large cars visiting the neighbors, but otherwise all had been quiet.

I picked at my food, unable to stomach the shrimp placed in front of me. It all just tasted of bitter defeat and disappointment.

Then, as I was washing the dishes as I do every night, I spied a UPS truck from the corner of my eye as it slowly made its way down the street. I screamed, startling my family as they made small talk at the dining room table, and ran to the window overlooking the road. It was at some point whilst pressing my face against the pane of glass and banging on it in desperation with my palms, calling out for the truck to turn around (and waiting in vain for a few moments afterward hoping it really would loop back to the house), that I began to realize I had a problem.

I was irritable and on edge for the next few days, restlessly circling my home like a caged animal. Every so often I would slink to the mailbox and glower down at its emptiness.

Adding insult to injury, the UPS actually did stop a few times at our hand over packages that my father had ordered for his tennis-racquet stringing business.

I couldn't sleep. I couldn't study. There was only the package. Only the UPS truck. I was Gatsby, and this little box of wonder was my green light.

Last weekend I got the DVDs I ordered, which was enough to appease my longing for goodies in the mail and distract me away from the mailbox, but I still haven't received the gift my friend sent to me. I did, however, get from her an explanation.

The post office sent the mail back to her home because she hadn't paid for the international shipping cost to cover the distance from New Mexico to California. Apparently, our country can't keep track of its own states. Good job, America; I've never been more proud.