Thoughts, Ramblings and Miscellaneous Conclusions

This last week was pretty great for me.  First off, it zipped by in a flash.  I love weeks like that, especially since the weekend is really becoming more and more my favorite time of the week.  It isn’t that I dislike work, it is that I dislike not being able to be home, control (or not) my own schedule and just doing whatever I want, whenever I want. 

Actually saying that expresses how really spoiled I am because I have a job where, for the most part, I am completely in charge.  From the beginning to the end of my time with kids, I pretty much call the shots.  I mean, it doesn’t really get much better than that. 

I don’t get to choose when I can show up to work though and sadly, in my location, I must report to work at 7:30 a.m.  This is the toughest part of my job, since I am not a morning person…well…at least not that way.  I also don’t get to choose the curriculum I teach or the expectations for achievement that the kids must meet or the meetings I must attend afterschool which erode my planning time, but I pretty much have complete control over how I structure my work environment, my schedule, my student’s schedule’s and so on.  It really isn’t that rough. 

The rough part of my life comes in trying to have a social life during the school year.  This probably wouldn’t be so tough either, if I didn’t also have to juggle the demands and taxi around the social schedules of four young people.  Then add to that the fact that people must eat and that ends up, somehow being my job.  If that alone wasn’t enough, groceries must occasionally be purchased, oh yes, and laundry done and a house cleaned.  I used to pay to have the house cleaned and the yardwork done, but that was before the divorce.  Sigh. 

Anyway, I am not complaining about any of this mind you, because while it is crazy enough and hectic enough, none of it is what I would consider difficult.  Well, at least, not until I decide to try to add a social life to the already overly full lifestyle plate I have going during the school year. 

So, this last week provided me the opportunity to get away from all that busy-ness for three nights and two days and drop into a different kind of busy.  I walked a million city blocks and that’s no small feat when you carry a laptop that is about ten pounds.  I ate great food that was healthy and which I neither had to prepare or clean up after.  I did really nothing I didn’t want to do.  Yes, I attended a conference and was involved in some pretty lengthy sessions where my butt got sore from sitting so long…but they were interesting and well worth my time.  Each one I attended was so relevant.  That alone is kind of amazing since most of these kinds of events can be a hit and miss endeavor.  This one was not.

The off times, after conference workshops, meetings with colleagues and dinners, provided me time to walk through the city streets three blocks to my humble lodging accommodations.  The wet misty rain felt refreshing and invigorating.  Of course, after two saketinis everything felt refreshing and invigorating.  Upon reaching the hotel room, I would slip into my comfy loungewear and slippers, curl up on the big armchair, turn on the laptop and begin my personal thinking on the white screen. Sometimes when I do this, I create more questions and puzzlements (is that even a word?) for myself than I solve problems, but this week was unusual.  I actually arrived at some conclusions for myself.

Here are my conclusions listed in random order and not in any particular order of priority:

  • I decided, I really don’t want to date or spend so much time on dating.  This isn’t to say that if someone really nice just appeared that I wouldn’t go out with him, but I’m certainly not going to put my profiles up and spend anytime checking emails or trying at all.  It is simply too exhausting, especially during the school year. 
  • I decided that the reason I don’t want to date is not because it has been such a disappointing experience…because it really hasn’t.  I’ve learned a lot about myself and about dealing with other people and I’ve grown and changed some after every experience.  This is a good thing.  The real reason I don’t really want to work so hard at it is this:  I have other things I want to do more than I want to do that. 
  • I really want to work on getting myself in shape.
  • I really want to work on getting my home in shape.
  • I really want to work on getting my yard in shape. 
  • I want to write.
  • I have some serious work to do spiritually, but I don’t really know what that means yet.
  • I was serious when I wrote my New Year’s resolutions and I aim to accomplish them, however late a start I’ve had.
  • I mostly want to enjoy my children when they are with me without feeling guilty that I haven’t called someone or don’t want to go out on a given night.
  • I can’t do any of these things and really devote myself to a “serious” relationship.  Most people are uninterested in just seeing me (or anyone) every other weekend and during the school year that is really all the time I have, unless I really start working on this house and then I won’t even have that.  So, the choice for me really boiled down to an either or situation.  Yeah, it would be great to have a guy who was interested in hanging out and doing projects together, but even when the I.J. and I tried that it was uncomfortable because I felt like that was letting him a little too far into my private world and I wasn’t quite ready to go there.  I know I’m not explaining that well but it was weird.  On top of that, most men I’ve met, seem to feel like I want to take advantage of their expertise, like all I’m looking for is a handy man instead of a companion.  Heck, I’d pay them to show me how to do the tasks I don’t know how to do.  But whatever, I’m tired of that little weirdness too.  I’ll just do the stuff myself and go get advice from online or the Home Depot or Lowe’s or something.  Seriously. 
  • I have places I want to go.  I can now completely see the possibility of going to these places on my own and loving every minute of it and I won’t have to haggle with anyone about which destination to choose first.
  • I  see directions I want to head with my career that are going to involve some extra time, effort and thought on my part at least at first.  This is also not something a deeply involved relationship can sustain unless the person is really willing to accept that.  Best probably to just not go there for now. 
  • Probably sounds like I am retreating and avoiding life, in a way.  Maybe this is true. I hope not.  I can really tend toward introversion and the recluse lifestyle, but I am not committing to never ever going on a date.  I’m just not going to work so hard at it.  At least, that’s how I feel this week.
  • Maybe, though, as much as I love to identify with Wonder Woman, the reality is I just can’t do it all.  And, since the stuff on the home and career front seems a bit more pressing than the stuff on the romance front (since there really is no stuff on the romance front), I choose that. 

Anyway, here I go to pull my online dating profiles completely down.  I am finally free!!!  And I am really, really very okay with that. At least, for this week.  😉

Houses or Playgrounds?

Short and to the point: The Beau is no longer “The Beau”.  (Surprise! Surprise!  Gasp!  Does that really surprise anyone? N0.  Didn’t think so.)

Don’t know how to quite explain all the details to myself, except to say that it was a mutual misunderstanding.  I can’t share really how things started declining from his perspective, only from mine, though he’s enlightened me through discussions over the last week.  And he makes some valid, very understandable points.  I only wish he’d shared where he was with all that a month ago when he began feeling that way.

Things with us started off really great.  Had they kept going really great, no doubt, I would not be writing this post.  Now mind you things weren’t going badly…they just kinda weren’t really going like they were before.  Sometime after the second weekend I went up to visit him I noticed a bit of a “pull back” from him.  It was slight and subtle but very, very perceptible to me.  Things like no longer reaching out to hold hands in the car when we went places, no (and I mean absolutely none, where before there had been plenty) physical affection other than a quick good-bye peck at the door as he left or I left.  Things like calling me really late at night after being on the phone with others (who were just friends, yes, but nonetheless female and not me).  Things like a reduction in the number of texts or other contacts in a day, making it feel a bit like he was just making the obligatory once a day phone call.  Things like simply not seeming as interested as he previously was.

Now, The Beau, is not, was not, a bad guy.  Something changed for him…or he saw something that gave him reason to pause.  Nothing at all wrong with that.  In fact, there is quite a bit about me that would give most people pause, not the least of which is 4 kids, a fixer house and a very tight budget and this blog.  I really have a problem with none of that.  It is totally understandable to me.  

We’d been dating about two months and he’s the one that mentioned not dating anyone else and taking off his profile from said dating sites.  I did not bring up this conversation…he did.   I guess I didn’t ask enough questions about what that meant for him.  I guess, maybe, that conversation was premature.  Maybe I misunderstood the seriousness of that kind of behavior.  To me that means, “I really want to focus on you.”  To him, well, I’m still not clear what he intended by even bringing up that conversation, but that’s okay too.  I don’t need to be clear on that.  It just didn’t appear to indicate a single purpose to him quite the same way it did to me or he thought better of it after he did it.  That’s alright too.  I just wish I’d understood all that before I stopped dating the four or five other very fine men, that I stopped seeing to date The Beau exclusively only to have The Beau get cold feet.  (j/k about the 5 guys, disappointed about the cold feet, but aware that it happens and am not losing sleep or wasting tears over it)

I guess the best analogy is this one:  “Are we building a house here or are we building a playground?”  My thinking is that the foundation for either of those endeavors is very different and you can’t exactly change projects midway, without some serious investment or strife or, at least some conversation.  Both of them serve their purpose and are wonderful projects.  Really, I don’t care which one it is, but if he wants the house and I’m thinking playground or vice versa things can and will get weird, misunderstandings happen, communication begins to miss and, well, feelings get hurt.  Further, if  both begin with the understanding that a house is to be built and the other changes what they are building without telling his partner, things can be really messed up and strange. None of that bothers me, it’s called relationship.  This is why human beings were given the gift of speech, so we could address these misunderstandings.  (P.S. I know the analogy is weak and flawed, but it worked for us and it helped us both understand each other better, so I’m going with it.)

I thought he wanted the house (no the house does not equal marriage, LTR or anything other than a mere exclusive dating relationship and the interested behavior to match…there are never ever any guarantees, I know this.  Yes, the playground does equal the non-exclusive, let’s just have fun and be friends casual dating kind of thing).  He probably did want the house for a couple of weeks there, maybe a month, but then had second thoughts and he backed off to the playground project, which is fine with me or maybe he found another house or playground he’d rather explore a bit more.  Only problem was, he didn’t tell me about it.  Well, yes, he did, just not with words.  That’s okay too. I was able to figure it out, pretty accurately without the words. Maybe I’m getting better at reading that nonverbal stuff more accurately. I don’t know. This time hearing the words only confirmed what I already knew several weeks ago was true. 

I guess I just don’t play the game well.  I’d rather have a guy just say “I’m not that into you” than to waste my time pretending he is in an effort to avoid hurting my feelings.  Cowardly as it is, even going silent is a bit more honest than continuing a game that one simply isn’t sure they want to play.  I won’t waste time (and it is a waste of time if  someone is not being completely honest and candid with the other person) spending time being with a person I really like who’s kinda sorta not sure he’s that into me. 

Now, true, it’s not like I’m the only consideration here.  I know that.  I come with a lot of  “baggage”.  I prefer to refer to it as responsibility, but face it, kids, fixer, finances, two ex’s—yuck, it’s just baggage to most people, no matter how neatly folded and tucked away it may be. (That reality does make me very sad sometimes, but I can’t fix any of that, so I just feel sad for a bit, then get up and forge ahead.  I mean really, what are my alternatives?)  He’s got lots to consider before making any serious commitments where I’m concerned, but I am not even remotely talking about that nor was I even remotely expecting it.  I just wondered how come he no longer wanted to hold my hand, be with me as much or he preferred talking to others instead of me.  I’m just talking about enjoying spending time together and it seemed to me that somewhere along the line, that changed for him. It seemed really, like he was no longer as interested in being with me and that I was not as attractive to him anymore.  It changed for me only because it changed for him.  My feelings for him and my attraction to him never dimmed or wavered.  I’m just not willing to be in a place where I feel less than desirable, like I don’t quite do it for him, or where I’m just not all that big of a deal to him. 

So, that’s where it stands.  My understanding has been cleared up about what his intention is and where he stands with me (the words now match the behavior)  and, to be very honest, I’m relieved.  No one enjoys feeling like the person they are with is just not all that excited anymore about being with them. 

So, Happy Valentine’s Day to me!

Things Look Better!

Things look better today.  Nothing’s changed, really.  Maybe the 1 Riesling Day Monday helped me just off gas all the emotional discouragement or  stress stirring around in there.  Maybe it is Suzie Orman’s book, “2009 Action Plan” that did it.

I picked this book up just after the New Year.  It was on the shelf at WalMart just yelling at me to buy it when I walked by to get a prescription filled. I succumbed to the temptation and I’m glad I did.  She does not paint a rosy picture of where things will go economically in 2009.  Her opinion is that everyone’s job is in danger, the housing market is likely going to plummet further before stabilizing, the credit crunch is disastrous and going to become more so and investments have lost value and may continue to do so. It was dismal news to read in a way.

In another way it was great news for me.  She really laid out the sad state of our economy with the foreclosures, repossessions of vehicles in the auto industry and the credit crunch.  I’m not highly informed about any of this but I found out that according to Suzie, I am doing the right stuff.  I have miraculously (certainly not by my own brilliance in these matters) done the right things and avoided many of the pitfalls I could have been trapped in.  I’m not out of the woods, but I am not in foreclosure, not in danger of my vehicle being repossessed and I have no reason to have to sell my home, as long as I continue to make the payments, which I am doing with greater and greater ease each month as I continue to live like a Spartan and pay off bills.  Even though my home is valued below what I owe on it, and that difference is expected to increase, according to Orman, somewhat during 2009, I am not in a rental and at the risk of the landlord not being able to make their payments on the house and then evicting me with only 30 days notice.  That would be disastrous!  With four kids, finding a new place would be difficult at best.  The potential for me to get back into anything livable would be slim or none and I could run the risk of having the same thing happen again. 

So, while I gripe and moan at times about the fact that I have a 30-year-old fixer, and I do mean fixer, and the fact that sometimes the routine repairs baffle me, I always come back to the place that I am grateful for this home and this roof over our heads.  If and when I am able to move into something nicer, I admit I’ll probably experience some bittersweet emotion at the prospect. I am even more grateful than ever that I am in this house and able to make my payments on time.  There are many, many people in much, much worse shape than I. 

 I’m sure that the realization that things are dire for many out there and I’m, so far, not in that place or headed there helped improve my perspective a bit.  I also think it may have been the fact that I simply got a good night’s sleep last night. Funny how fatigue can warp our perspective. Or, maybe, it was the fact that I’ve been eating healthier since the New Year and my body and mind are responding to the better fuel. Whatever it is, things looked better yesterday morning than they did the day before and they look really great today. It is Wednesday and I’m on the downward slope of the week.  Two more days and it will be the weekend and, not just any weekend, a three day weekend. 

Things look a lot better today!

Fixer Task Accomplished: Changing Lighting Fixtures

Okay, anyone out there reading this with any regularity knows how I’ve complained and cried about not being able to do my own fixer repairs around here.  It’s true.  I’m a home improvement disaster.  Actually, I am not a disaster, since I never attempt anything.  More precisely, I’m a home improvement wimp.

I don’t just screw things up…I can’t get far enough to do that.  I just sit and look at them…and think about what I want to do that I don’t know how to do.  And I moan about how I’d really like to fix this or that but I haven’t a clue.  Oh sure, I look at books, I get ideas, I read stuff.  None of that stuff shows you how to rip the freaking light fixture off the ceiling and put the wires together and put the whole mess back up in the ceiling so it looks good, works and doesn’t come crashing down on you when you walk past.

Ha!  All that changed this week…today actually.  I actually went to Lowe’s yesterday and got some epoxy and sealed the leak in the hot tub.  I should be able to begin refilling it tomorrow after I pick out a few of the leaves that found their way in.  If all goes well, I should have a warm, non-leaking tub by Christmas.

I have even better news than that!!!!  All my home improvement men friends out there and women friends will be glad to know that today, I successfully changed my first light fixture.  Well, I didn’t really do it all alone, but I was able to woo a tall, dark and handsome man friend into explaining and showing me how to do the project.  Okay, so I didn’t really woo him.  And…well, he was willing and able to show me how to do the the thing and let me get some hands on with it.  I mean, seriously, most guys just want to be saviors.  Don’t get me wrong.  That’s an incredibly attractive quality and if I was married to one of those types I’d be, like, soooo grateful and I’d be sure to show it profusely.  The reality is that I am not married to one of those savior types, they are all married to my good friends who justly deserve these great men. But, these great men are all busy doing their own work on their own homes being provider, protector and basic sexy, handsome, strong man to their wives, and they can’t just be dropping by to fix my light fixtures for me or set up the mold for my concrete or whatever.  And that is all as it should be.

So, what changed?

Whew!  I met someone who actually can teach me how to do this stuff without expecting me to sleep with him.  We actually met online…and after two dates the feeling was pretty mutual that there just wasn’t the connect we were both looking for.  However, cool guy that he is, he told me up front that he didn’t think things were probably going to get romantic where he was concerned (I breathed a big sigh of relief on that one) and he mentioned that he would really be interested in being friends.  Now, folks, women have a different opinion of what it means to be friends than men do.  Women can sustain opposite sex friendships more easily than men can I think.  So, when a man says he’s interested in developing a platonic friendship, I’m okay with that.  It’s not a friends with benefits deal here and I make that clear.  It was clear in this case. 

He offered to show me how to change out the light fixture.  We changed the failing light fixture in the kitchen and I am so embarrassed that I’ve sat and stared at all the ugly light fixtures in my home thinking that changing them on my own is beyond me.  I am seriously blushing at how easy the whole project was.  The worst part was not the wiring, it was the screws to attach the fixture to the bracket.  That was a bit tricky.  Once that was figured out, it was all a snap. Nice thing about this guy, he was really a teacher too.  He told me things along the way that I might need to look for in other situations.  Like, he told me to turn on the switch before we screwed the light in completely to make sure it worked.  Little stuff like that really helps.

Anyway, I’m no longer a light fixture virgin.  I’m so excited.  I feel like a real woman now!  LOL!  I can’t believe it.  I just want to run up to Lowe’s and replace every light fixture in the house!  I’ve been empowered and I love it!!!!

Okay, enough of the silly stuff.  I am going to replace at least two other light fixtures this break just to make sure I have my skills down.  Then I’ll move on to the ceiling fan in the dining area. 

You wait.  I’m going to write that book on home repair for single moms.  Hey, it’ll go over just as well as my “How To Screw Up A Really Good Meal” reality t.v. show. 

Men, please, teach your daughters this stuff.  They are going to need it!

Into Every Autumn Some Leaves Must Fall…Somewhere…In My Case Everywhere!

Ahhh, the beauty of autumn.  It is truly my favorite time of year.  Alright, the fact that I’m writing this just about two weeks before Thanksgiving might qualify this time of year as winter…for many…but for me…it is still autumn. Besides that, I think winter doesn’t officially begin until sometime in December anyway according to the calendar…but…who cares? It was definitely the perfect autumn day in my small town the day I pulled out my new leaf blower.

It was the perfect day to try out the blower I purchased for 25 bucks at the local Wal Mart.  The blower proved to be much better and more powerful than the one I had before, which gave up the ghost several months before.

I had a blast, until I realized that I had purchased a blower that had a much smaller blowing capacity than the two feet deep leaf cover I had going in my backyard.  Okay, even after that realization, I still had fun…even though it took me three hours to blow the leaves and clean them up.

The next day, just as many leaves had fallen.  The following week brought heavy rains and a great deal of fog ot our valley…and the leaves continued to drop.  The backyard now looks just as it did before I blew the leaves last Saturday.

I don’t even care.  I love trees and I love my new blower.  There’s just something about a good power tool!   Guess what I’ll be doing this Saturday, that is, if it isn’t raining?  That’s right. Blowing my yard clean of leaves. Why?  Because it’s just weirdly fun to have a clean yard that’s why…plus I just like the idea of blowing leaves around all day.

Who Says Real Estate Is an Investment??!!!!!!

I am ready to sell this freaking fixer upper at a loss just to get out of it.  I am sick of all the little crap that goes wrong that I have no idea how to fix.  To figure it out takes days, weeks, and costs millions of lives.  I can’t do this any longer. 

I had a friend come in and fix the freaking drip in the kids’ bathroom which is the larger bathroom in my home.  Now, the hot water won’t freaking even turn on.  I am pissed.  Shuffling four children through my bathroom in a day (and my bathroom is the size of a broom closet and the shower alone only holds half a human being) is completely unrealistic. 

I’m thinking I want a rental, that I sign a forever lease on which keeps my rent the same, protects me from them selling the friggin’ property out from under me and requires the landlord to do the handyman work. 

The other option is to find and marry Prince Charming.  He only has to be good at three things:  home repairs, sex, and conversation.   Okay, it would be good if he picked up after himself and had a job.  Now, what the hell odds are those? 

I’m doomed!