Welcome to a new season of The Bard of Hudson! It’s been a year of podcasting, but in my timeline I’ll be returning to the early 2000s with stories of dating in the early days of Match.com and many other haphazard and funny adventures. All along the way there will be discussions of current events, books, music and films that inspire me, as well as tales of the places that I am traveling to. I hope you are reminded of long-forgotten gems in your own life, or inspired to take new steps towards adventures of your own. Please share those discoveries and stories with me. Perhaps this season I will do some more interviews as well. I look forward to all the laughs, all the joy and all of the aha moments to come. Thanks for being here!
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Hello, Welcome back. Welcome. This is Diana and welcome to Season Two of The Bard of Hudson. Wow, that’s exciting. Something new! A new year – even if my year starts in October. Whatever. That’s okay.
So I’m still in Paros at my third writing residency, and I decided to take one more chance to record in this space, and on Sunday, I move on to Ireland, and something new. So maybe we’ll try some recording in that space as well. But we’ll see. I’m gonna take a class in spinning and weaving while I’m there. So I’m pretty excited about that. That’ll be something new to learn. So cool. In the land of sheep. Yeah, why not?
My stay in Paros has been a very quiet one. There’s no community of artists here. There’s one other guy but he was occupied with his wife visiting for the first 10 days of my stay. So we didn’t sit around and have inspiring discussions about art and life. Having now done three different residencies, I know what I would seek in others: a certainty that there is a group of artists that come and leave at the same time, so that there’s a sense of community, (From my first residency in Crete, I am still in touch with two people who I believe will remain friends into the future. That is a great perk to be sure.) and the opportunity to engage in conversations and exchanges during meals or over group creative projects is a huge boon. My own company grows stale after weeks of solitude, and I need to bounce ideas off of others or even just to sit and listen to friends chatter and laugh over food and drink. These times feed me long after the meal has been cleared away, to be sure.
I’ve had plenty of animal company here in Paros, so much that now it’s become a distraction rather than an enhancement. I find myself driving 20 minutes to the nearest market in search of cat food! And, whereas they’d come around sporadically at first, since I’ve lured them with snacks, now they are at my front door from the moment I’ve poured my first cup of coffee. Yes, yes, I did it myself. Then there’s a troupe of ducks who linger around the two doorways into my cottage. I usually go out in the morning and eat breakfast at a small table under the olive tree out front and I toss them some crusts. So now I have quite a herd. Herd…? They mill about in front of the door and peer at me expectantly with their little beady eyes.
There’s one, an old female I think, with a raggedy looking beak, who’s gotten very bold. When the double French doors to my office space are open, she comes right up on the door sill and extends her neck over it as if to ask permission to enter. But no, I draw the line there. Cats won’t poop inside, but ducks… I don’t think they have that kind of control. When the doors are closed, on the other hand, she pecks at the glass with her beak and makes an intermittent soft knocking that makes concentration difficult.
I think my powers of concentration are not terribly keen as it is. I have lots of different ideas running through my head in close succession, and it’s all I can do not to have two notebooks, a sewing machine and a laptop all open and busy at the same time. I’m told it’s a Gemini fault to finish projects 90% and move on to the next. I try and fight it but I’m not always successful.
Paros has also been a last chance to bask in the sunshine before months of dark and cold. The first week I was here I was abstemious, thinking it would be virtuous to work non-stop as I had promised to do when I signed up for this residency. But as the time whittled away, I realized that I was depriving myself of all the glory of being in Greece. Sunshine. Sandy stretches of empty beach. Sparkling warm saltwater. This week I’ve made a point to explore one new spot and have a swim every day. After all, from here I go to Ireland, and I may seek out some lovely little beach for a stroll or a picnic, but unless I turned into a selkie there will be no swimming.
So what’s this season two going to be all about? There will be funny stories of me as a swinging single girl out in the world of online dating. I know that nowadays the brave women who put themselves out there to try and find lovers from a celluloid menu are as likely to find evil bots designed to steal their money and identity as to find any real human with whom to share a nice meal or protected consentual, casual sex. I find it abominable that there are modern day pirates that hide behind stolen photographs to prey upon us in our most vulnerable state. At least I’m grateful to be aware of these things. But awareness has made me very cynical and distrusting, and that’s sad.
In the early days, there were scoundrels who used our emotional needs to take advantage of us, but at least they were human beings. That doesn’t really sound better, I guess. But somehow I feel more equipped to fight the villain I can see rather than the one that I don’t really comprehend. I know of a woman who corresponded for years with a man online and met him only maybe once or twice in person. He seduced her with words and strung her along to the point that she believed this man to be the true love of her life. I think she lent him money, maybe paid for other things like plane tickets and such. And then one day he, quote, died, un-quote. But she mourned him for a long time, and never got involved with anyone else. To her, he was a hero. To my mind, he was a loathsome toad. Different perspectives, I guess.
During my Match.com days, I came across a wide and varied cast of characters. Most often I had to take long expensive trips into New York City to meet men, as pickings were kind of slim in the suburbs of Rockland County. Bridge tolls, gas and parking were the practical costs of my dating adventures before I even laid my heart on the line. One time I met a guy – we’ll call him Mark – in a diner on Sixth Avenue in the Village. When I sat down, I noticed that he looked a little rougher than he had in his pictures, but the pictures were always a bit misleading in those days as they are now, as we just discussed. We ordered a few things to munch on while we exchanged stories, and I noticed that he ate very hungrily.
I knew after half an hour of conversation that we wouldn’t really hit it off, but I hung in there for the stories, because I love those (as you know). He ended up telling me that he was homeless, and that he lived in a shelter. I asked how he managed the whole online dating process, and he said that he used the computers at the library, and that he spent a good deal of time in the library in general. I asked if he’d been on other dates and what he thought of the whole format. I’ve found that often when a date wasn’t working out, that would at least be a topic of mutual interest – the fact that both parties were doing the whole Match.com dance, and what each of their opinions were on the pros and cons.
Mark told me that he’d had a couple of dates, but one that ended very badly with a woman accusing him of stealing from her purse while she was in ladies room. First of all, who leaves their purse to go to the ladies room? More importantly, who leaves their purse with a total stranger? Ever? In any case, I felt sad for him, but I told him that I thought we weren’t a good fit. As I rose to go to the restroom, he said he’d wait and walk me out. I reached for my purse, and we exchanged an uncomfortable glance. I laid $20 on the table, insisting I was happy to pay for the meal. That was one of my sadder nights.
I had another where I waited an hour in a diner because I was sure that something had gone wrong, that there was some miscommunication of some kind. The guy had been so enthusiastic on the phone, so eager to meet me right away. It probably was one of those scenarios like in the movie, You’ve Got Mail, where he came and peeked at me through the window and then changed his mind. I had to endure the pity of the waiter for the last half hour before I finally threw in the towel and left. Unlike Tom Hanks, he did not come inside and beguile me.
It’s a cruel world, this online dating thing. My son is experiencing that cruelty now, too. Are we all moving so fast and this is the only way to find someone now? Swipe left, swipe right, snap judgments, no time to give a person a chance to unfold all of their qualities? No patience to peel away the layers, get underneath the anxiety and discomfort to the beautiful human who waits behind that screen? I hope that it works out for him, but it may prove more painful than his honest heart can bear.
For my part, I still believe in love at first sight. It’s happened to me more than once in my lifetime, and I’m so grateful for that. It’s a wonderful feeling. Maybe that’s another Gemini trait too. I look forward to telling you more about my romantic adventures and adventures of all kinds. I’ll see you as this season unfolds and the layers come way. Thank you for joining me again. Love you all. Good bye.