First published, in abbreviated form, in PQMonthly.
This is how it happens, and in retrospect it couldn’t happen any other way. You look at the dating app Scruff one day, having been single for three years, single at 41. All of these faces scrolling by. Some familiar ones occasionally post new photos, where maybe they have a little more grey, or they’ve lost or gained weight. Maybe they look a little more tired from the search, a little more cynical. Maybe they’re almost ready to press “delete” and just leave meeting people to fate and natural circumstances. Their faces say they’re ready to just trash every dating app and get on with living life, spending more time with their friends, creating more art. Maybe their weary faces say they’re a little scared that they’ve already experienced all the love they’re ever going to.
Or maybe that’s just me, you think. You open up a dating app, yeah that one, see a handsome bearded face. He has a boyfriend, because of course he does, and they’re exclusive. You chat a bit, and he won’t even flirt with you because he’s taken. He makes an impression on you but the conversation fades away after a few days.
All of a sudden, months later, Continue reading
I was invited to give a 10 minute talk on the evolution of courtship rituals, both traditional and modern, for the JAKETalks in Seattle, on February 21st of this year. The following is a rough transcript of the talk, and the video is also below.
(Looks around at crowd) You are all less than 250 feet away from me. Haha, Scruff jokes.
I’m Michael James Schneider. I’m a writer for PQ Monthly and I write for my own wildly unpopular and awkwardly named blog. I write about a few topics, but lately I’ve been writing a lot about dating apps. In fact, so much so that people have started calling me The Scruff Whisperer. “Pause for laugh.”
In the fall of 2012, I found myself single and almost 40. I downloaded the Scruff app at the insistence of my ex. Now, I’ve been single for almost three years, I think I’ve become a professional spinster. I’ve taken the Buzzfeed “Which classic Dickens character are you?” quiz many times, change the answers I give, but I get Ms Havisham every time. Jokes.
To give you a little bit of background, what is this Scruff thing? A Scruff is a guy thinks he’s fly, also know as a buster. Wait no, it’s a dating app for bearded guys who want more Instagram followers. Wait no, it’s a location based mobile phone application that shows you a grid of available men who tend to skew to the hirsute end of the spectrum. Notice I said “available”, not necessarily “single”. I’m looking for something monogamous and long term. Not everyone is. Some guys are on there looking for friends and “workout buddies.” Me? I’m Alanis Morrisette looking for her next Dave Coulier. Continue reading
As with most mornings on my days off, it’s a slow roll to wake up this particular morning. I sleepily smile at the text from my boyfriend, reply to it. I pet my perpetually hungry cat, Ned. I browse Facebook for a couple minutes, watch the new Star Wars trailer, realize that Darth Vader’s helmet kinda always looks like the “gritted teeth” emoji. A friend on Facebook has lost a loved one, and I almost comment on the post but decide not to. I’m sorry for your loss, but I’m even sorrier for all the notifications I’ll get if I comment on your post.
Then I check the dashboard for my shitty-ass blog. Oh great, I think, rolling my eyes, Chad’s back.
I started this blog a few years ago to chronicle my experience leaving my job for a year to have an “artistic sabbatical”. Halfway through that year, I had a rough time of it and suddenly the writing got more personal. I knew then that I was making a choice to put my ramblings out into the public domain, and I also knew well enough from Reddit message boards that not everyone would be kind. Take the above comment, posted at 1:04 am to my recent piece about transparency and honesty. Chad’s clearly trying to bring “tool” back. The overall message in my piece wasn’t very controversial, just an affirmation that it’s better to be open than not. But Chad’s had it in for me for awhile: Continue reading
First published in PQMonthly
Walking down Broadway, I shuffled along, staring at the sidewalk and musing on the possible titles of my inevitable, boring memoir: “My Cat Is The Handsomest: Thoughts On Dying Alone By Michael James Schneider.” “Sir, You Can’t Take A Bottle Of Lube That Large On An Airplane, A Long-Distance Love Story By Michael James Schneider”. “What It Looks Like When The Universe Poops On Your Life: How To Get It All Wrong, by Michael James Schneider”. I looked up just in time to realize that A) I was at a bottleneck in the sidewalk, between a cafe table and a tree, and B) a guy who was Dreamy As Fuck was also trying to get through the narrow path from the other side.
I stopped, made an embarrassed gesture to let him through. He, however, did the same. No, no, my next gesture said, my hand sweeping magnanimously, Please, after you, I insist. And there we stood for a good 20 minutes, each trying to be the Beta dog in this classic West Coast Standoff of politeness, each trying not to bare our teeth or make eye contact lest the other one attack.
On the surface, the PNW is a friendly, polite place to live. What happens when you look under that surface, though? Is politeness a form of dishonesty and artifice, and if so, what does it take to live a transparent life? Continue reading
digital by Nick Fauble
Once in a great while, an artist comes along who pushes boundaries, gives viewers opportunities to rethink their paradigms, and creates bold, brave art that’s sometimes not fully appreciated in its time. Occasionally, that artist is honored with a retrospective, and given a chance to participate, bringing their beautiful creations to a larger, more mainstream audience. That artist was Marina Abramovic.
But now, we have been graced with the Björk retrospective at the Museum Of Modern Art. This quirky singer, originally the lead singer of
The Pixies The Treaclies The Sugarcubes, debuted her solo album in 1993. It was called Debut. She’s known for her unconventional style and eclectic production design of her music videos. She’s also known by basics-at-large mostly for wearing a dress that looks like a swan to the Academy Awards in 2001 (seriously, people can’t let that go). I visited New York last month in balmy February, and was given early access to what is by all accounts definitely a retrospective. Continue reading
“Level-Up”, from l. to r. Michael James Schneider, new crush
First appeared in PQMonthly
There he is, that writer, on his day off from his day job. Tall, lanky as fuck, wandering from room to room in his apartment in NE Portland with a coffee cup in hand. He stops to pet his cat, then checks his phone. A notification from Tinder, a dating app for boring people. A new match! His thumb hovers above the screen of his mint-condition iPhone 3GS. “What is happening here?” he thinks. Ignores the notification. Life goes on.
A day later, he’s on Scruff, a dating app for guys who want more Instagram followers. A few guys “woof” at him, he gets on the Global View front page, he feels good about himself. Then he wonders why, what kind of validation he’s getting from this. Continue reading
“Workout Buddies” (screencap by Shawn Jackson)
I was interviewed by Reggie Aqui at KGW, the local NBC affiliate here in Portland, about dating apps. I managed to make Scruff sound almost respectable! To see the full video, click this link. UGH WHY IS IT NOT EMBEDDABLE.