Some People, Like Books…

wildmindpics 013 Some people, like books, grip you from the minute you, after noticing the engaging and artistically designed cover, open to the first page and begin reading.  You are instantly drawn in to the enchantment, the story, the drama.  You read these people books hungrily, passionately, from cover to cover without so much as a break for food till the story is over.  When the end ultimately arrives as you knew it would, as you knew it must, you read the last pages and the last words with a bittersweet sentiment.  These are the people books that bid farewell when you wish they could stay forever, yet you understand they cannot.  What’s more, you understand why they cannot.

Other people, like other books, fail to capture your imagination or ignite your passion , yet they provide valuable information and knowledge that you need.  These books you keep on the shelves of your life at the ready should you need to refer to them for the wisdom and knowledge they contain hidden among the pages of their past.  These books you don’t give up, nor do they  ever make it to the book exchange box. wildmindpics 016 Instead, they inhabit a familiar and handy place on your bookshelf, ready and willing at any moment to be of service. These solidly familiar and resourceful books are always present though only occasionally does one take advantage of the vast store of knowledge contained inside the worn cover. The value in these people books is knowing they are there and knowing them well enough and long enough and closely enough, to feel comfortable tapping into their knowledge when the need in your life arises.

Still other people, like other books, are divided into segments and must be read in parts.  Some short inspiring bit here to begin with, then later, possibly the opportunity to read a longer, more heart wrenching piece later. These are the books you rarely read from beginning to end, feeling free enough with them that you can move around in any particular order not caring, if, or when you read the entire book.  These people books might sit in your life for years only being read a segment at a time as the opportunity or mutual interest arises.

Still, other people, like that rare book, are magical somehow. That outside cover, while certainly attractive enough, doesn’t jump out at you right away, but something about it won’t leave you till you’ve picked that book up off the shelf.  Cautiously, hesitantly, you study the cover more closely.  Internally, maybe, you even dare the book to interest you. wildmindpics 019 After all, you just finished up with the best passionate read of your life and you are tired of looking for another story.  You’re tired of reading.  You dare this magical book, which you do not yet know is magical, to interest you.  You look at the front cover, you look at the back cover.  It looks interesting enough, as though it might be a good read, but you’re just not interested.  You put the book back on the shelf.  You mosey on your way.  Except now, you cannot leave that book.  You must return to it and glance at the first page.  You  begin, ever so cautiously and carefully to read.  The first few paragraphs and pages certainly don’t ignite your passion like throwing a match on a gasoline soaked burn pile, but something about the way the author has crafted this particular story draws you in.  You continue reading.  With each page you find happiness, you find surprise, you find adventure, and, yes, there buried among the pages you find heartache, sadness, tragedy.  You continue reading and find that this book contains plenty of its own passion, plenty of its own wisdom, plenty of its own strength.  Before long you realize that you’ve been reading this book for a while and you’ve enjoyed every minute, every chapter, every page.  These are the people books that come into your life gradually, and before you know how it quite happened they are an everyday fixture in the landscape of your life while never for a minute being relegated to the mundane-ness of the everyday.  Continue reading

Conversations With Men…and Some Women Too

Christmas Day, 6:00 a.m. 

j0440978 I wake up, stumble through the house turning on the Christmas lights on my way to let the dog out for her morning romp in the back yard.  It is a frosty, cold, foggy 28 degrees in Southern Oregon.  I change the laundry, start another load of the eternal never ending chore and move back into the kitchen automatically, thoughtlessly, still somewhat groggily to begin the task of brewing coffee. 

My house is silent except for the soft sound of heat being forced out through the furnace and the low rumbling purr of my cats who float ethereally in and out of rooms.  Noiseless vapors appearing and disappearing of their own catlike determination. Once the coffee is brewed I pour a cup, add a bit of cream and a touch of the homemade peppermint schnapps a colleague gave me for Christmas.  I pad silently to the living room couch where I plant myself, laptop on lap, facing the tree centered in front of the large picture window which looks out onto my quiet street. My mind and my heart are filled with thoughts and feelings. You would think that these thoughts and feelings would center on the fact that I am alone this Christmas without my children to share in the traditional holiday festivities.  Such is not the case, because I know I am not alone in my being alone on this day.  All over this country there are many men home alone without their children or families with them.  This is the ugly sad side of divorce.

Men are often denounced and disparaged as being focused on sex over relationship.  Women on the other hand place relationship as a higher priority than sex.  These are broad generalizations and there are many exceptions to every rule, but just go with me here.  Men, in general, are often villanized for being so very sexually oriented. 

I’d like to suggest a different idea.  I’d like to suggest the idea that men are every bit as interested in relationship (that deep, emotionally gratifying connected relationship) that women are touted as desiring.  I just think they go about it differently.  I don’t think that the differences in approach necessarily presume a difference in desire or ultimate goal.

j0402650I’ve been divorced exactly two years and four days now.  In that time, I’ve had the freedom to meet, have coffee with, have drinks with and converse with many members of the opposite sex.  I’ve had more freedom to engage in these conversations than I would have had I not been single even though many of these conversations have been completely platonic. I’ve learned a lot in these conversations with men.  While most of them have been single, some of these conversations have occurred with men in relationships with other women, while the woman was there of course, and other conversations have occurred with men who are still married but separated (a definite indicator that the relationship will never be anything more than platonic where I am concerned) and still others have been casual encounters at Christmas parties or social gatherings with husbands of my colleagues and friends.  These particular conversations all have one thing in common.  They have at the core of them the question, “What is it that men really want?”

One thing becomes clearer to me, as I have these conversations.  We really do all want the same thing.  Some of us are fortunate, we’ve found it, we enjoy it, we are grateful for it.  Others continue to look and wait and hope that someday we too will experience it or will experience it again.  Still others of us have given up hope that this reality will occur for us and some of us might even now be in the process of giving up hope that we will ever experience anything like it. 

What is it?  What is this thing we all want?  I suspect it is the same for men as for women though the sexes have very different and often opposing ways to go about getting what they want. This thing is love.  This thing is trust.  This thing is relationship.  It is relationship that is deeply, emotionally intimate and fulfilling.  The relationship that continues to be such after time, and change, and aging have taken their toll. 

j0440312 So as I sip my morning coffee and think about all the conversations I’ve had over the last two years and specifically some of the conversations I’ve had recently I want to extend a big hug to all my dear friends, male and female, married or single who’ve walked part or all of this journey with me these last two years.  Thank you for conversing with me.  Thank you for sharing your lives and your hearts with me. You’ve certainly enriched me.  I wish you all the love you seek and all the joy that comes with that love.  If you’ve found that in your life I wish for you a lifetime of experiencing it with that one special other. May you always be grateful for what you have in each other.  If you still await that experience then I hope, dear friend, that 2010 is your year! 

Merry Christmas!

The Wild Mind

“When the world says give up, hope whispers try it one more time” ~ Author unknown.

Tickled…Tickled Pink…Actually!

Not sure quite why I chose that particular title for this post…. 

I haven’t done a Google Ad Words search on it to see if it is SEO or anything.

In fact, over the last several weeks, what with the exit of the Oz and all, I’ve kind of done some thinking.  Amazing what you can get accomplished when you aren’t spending your time texting or talking to  or IMing someone on the other side of the world.

Here’s what I’ve accomplished with all the extra freed up time:

I’ve done some thinking, as I mentioned.  More about this later.

I have cleaned my house (not that it was dirty to begin with, but I actually can see the bottom of the laundry pile now…in fact…there is no laundry pile).

I’ve cleaned out my refrigerators.  Oh, and they really needed it!

I’ve gotten myself sick. Yeah, that’s what happens when you try to be the single mom of four kids and hold down not one, not two but three jobs to make ends meet.

I’ve read two whole books in the last week.  Amazing what you can do when you are sick…and can’t really read but you can’t sleep either so…what else do you do other than just stare at the ceiling and let your thoughts make you crazy.

I’ve actually folded and hung all my clothes from the laundry (j/k…I do that anyway).

I’ve gotten caught up on some work projects, na, scratch that.  I haven’t.

I’ve done some thinking. (Here it comes…really…it’s nothing really monumental or anything!)

I’ve made some decisions.

I decided, I’m not going to write unless I want to…meaning…writing under pressure (unless it is fun pressure) is so not for me. Well, at least not until I get a book deal (hahahahahahaha!) and then I will write, I will sign autographs and books, I will talk under pressure no problem…but until then…it’s going to be all about what catches my writing fancy.  So there! 😉

This also means, I’ve decided that I’m going to focus less here on how many search terms might be in my blog posts and just write what I love and do the best at that, that I can do.  Hopefully the masses, or a few of them, will like it enough to tell someone else to come visit.  I know this is probably the death knell to the blogger who wants a book deal and a movie deal out of it, but face it…I’m just not Julia and Julia right now.  Even so, I hope some of you will decide to comment, because that’s where I get my best ideas for further writing.

I’ve also decided that while I am really super sad that things with the Oz and I didn’t work out and I am super sad for my part in the demise of the whole thing, I am not going to let this make me even more bitter and untrusting…and for me…that wouldn’t be a hard thing to accomplish because I could go there.  But I won’t.  Instead of shutting myself down (which I might do at times to just sort stuff out but not forever) I’m going to work on really taking this opportunity to refocus. 

Some quotes that have helped me lately:

To the Oz….

Where you used to be, there is a hole in the world, which I find myself constantly walking around in the daytime, and falling in at night.  I miss you like hell.  ~Edna St. Vincent Millay

To The Wild Mind…

[A] final comfort that is small, but not cold:  The heart is the only broken instrument that works.  ~T.E. Kalem

To Everyone Out There…

Sometimes, when one person is missing, the whole world seems depopulated.  ~Lamartine

And again To Everyone Out There…

In the arithmetic of love, one plus one equals everything, and two minus one equals nothing.  ~Mignon McLaughlin, The Second Neurotic’s Notebook, 1966

To The Wild Mind and To Everyone Else Out There With A Broken Heart….

Love is like a puzzle.  When you’re in love, all the pieces fit but when your heart gets broken, it takes a while to get everything back together.  ~Author Unknown

And this…

Don’t worry about losing.  If it is right, it happens – The Main thing is not to hurry.  Nothing good gets away.  ~John Steinbeck, 10 November 1958

And for all who would, like The Wild Mind, attempt love, fail and dare to try again…these words…

“Better to do something imperfectly than to do nothing flawlessly.” — Robert H. Schuller

I’m not a Robert Schuller fan per se, but if the shoe fits….

Anyway, I’m tickled pink that I’m not sick, tickled pink to be returning to work tomorrow although it will not be easy after being out sick for a week, and I’m tickled pink that, well, it just isn’t worse than it is.  Seriously.  As a friend recently told me, “Chin up, girl.  You own your own home, your bills are paid, you have food on the table, transportation to work and a job to go to…in fact…more than one of them!  And…you’re an intelligent woman…you can actually learn to cook!  How bad can life be?”

Okay, yeah, that from a guy who is happily married and gets it whenever he wants but, okay, we’ll go with the intent there.

Anyway…can’t really put a finger on it, but I’m just feeling a little tickled pink and I kinda don’t really have any reason to be except that I’m alive and healthy and, well, I guess I’m grateful for all that and considering that Thanksgiving is just around the corner I guess that’s a good thing.

So, given that every ending is the opportunity for a new beginning….that when a relationship ends it can be a great opportunity for reinventing oneself, I have these questions for peeps out there…

What have  you done that helped you overcome a breakup?

Breakups aside, have you ever gotten to the place where you felt you wanted to reinvent yourself?  Did you?  How is it going?

How Rushing A Sorority Is Like Online Dating

sw_fake_ballot_sa03045 I’ve recently come to realize how many things in life are analogous to many other things in life.  One pretty benign, or so it seems, event turns out to represent what happens in another completely unrelated area of life. 

So it is with the sorority rush process and online dating.  I know, I know.  It seems like a real leap here, but go with me for a minute.

Way back in the day, when I was even more naive and wide-eyed than I am now, I had the opportunity to go through sorority rush, bid night, pledge a sorority and eventually be initiated. At the time it intrigued me, but over the years, I’ve often thought it a fairly efficient way of sorting through a vast number of potential prospects in a short amount of time in order to make an important decision effectively and quickly. And for many women the need to sort through a vast amount of emails to determine which contacts to spend time meeting and which to never bother with is imperative.

Greek_party1950s The sorority rush system is actually a highly developed matching system called the preferential bidding system and you can read about it .  In sorority rush, the organizations are matched with prospective members in a manner that gradually narrows the options based on stated preferences of the participants. The result is the prospective new member is eventually matched with an organization where she will live, interact, socialize, study, network, for the rest of her years at the university. It is also a lifetime membership to a national organization.  In other words, we’re not just signing a 30-day month-to-month rental agreement, here, folks. The decision bears some thoughtful, considered deliberation.  So it is with dating, that is, if you are doing anything that remotely resembles seeking out a partner you could build a relationship and a life with.

Enter the world of online dating, which I did nearly three years ago.  I spent some time on that Online Dating Planet for a bit and I noticed some things.  First off, all the things they say about men doing the pursuing and women the selecting were true for the most part.  Really.  I no sooner posted my feeble attempt at a profile, a few recent and accurate pictures, and I was bombarded with emails and winks from prospective suitors.  I recently read an article here where some women have thousands of emails to sort through.  I never had quite that problem, but then again, I also don’t exactly live in the biggest metropolitan area and I limited the distance of my contacts.  Whatever.  The point I am trying to make here is that sorting through all those prospective romantic interests is not unlike the Greek organization sorting through thousands of prospective members in order to meet their membership quotas for the year.  It is impossible to think of responding to every single one individually and meeting them all?  Well, there just isn’t time in a life to do it.

afrog 013aMy inbox was inundated.  At first, I spent hours, days, weeks attempting to reply to every wink or email I received.  It wasn’t long before I realized that was simply ineffective.  I had to put some systems in place for sorting.  Now the systems and criteria I implemented might be different for another woman, but they worked for me.  The same is true in sorority rush.  Some house won’t take those rushing as a sophomore, they only want freshmen.  Since I was a sophomore when I rushed, this instantly eliminated me from a number of quality organizations.  Nothing personal.  It was just reality.  Did I cry about it?  No.  I just went with the remaining options which were also very fine organizations. 

When we date, there are priorities and preferences that we have that provide the basis for our own sorting systems.  For me I eventually determined that I was not going to waste time with a guy who winked or only presented me with a message that said something like “nice smile”, “great profile”, and so on.  If a guy couldn’t take the time to create, at minimum, a brief thoughtfully worded message of interest, I wasn’t interested. (And, yes, guys…we can tell when you cut and paste messages! I deleted those too!) This reduced my inbox to a far more manageable number.  The remaining people made it through to the next round of eliminations. 

At this stage, I put in place some more discriminating criteria.  No picture, no consideration.  No words in the profile, no consideration.  If he was a smoker it was a no.  If he’d never been married or was way too young or too old, it had to be a no. These folks usually received a nice, courteous “no thanks”.

After this, I had to consider interests and potential for compatibility.  This is often difficult to determine just based on a digital p1-Our-House rofile on a dating site, but I did find that there were certain means to eliminate those contenders who would probably eventually opt out anyway in the end.  For example, the spirituality of the person is important.  If he’s out there in religious Looneyville where keeping up an image of doing the right stuff is more important than actually being an authentic, decent individual then we’ll rub and quickly.  Why even meet up for coffee to find that out?  Save time, energy and coffee money.  Just say, “no thanks”. 

If he’s a guy who spent all his time out and about with no indication that he occasionally stayed home to rejuvenate and maintain his household, then I was out.  That’s a lifestyle that I can’t sustain with a time commitment that would destroy my ability to maintain my own home and my career, let alone keep my kids in clean clothing.  I’m wise to politely decline, no matter how attractive he might otherwise be.  Our differing preferences in how we spend time will ultimately create problems unless one or the other of us is willing to change and expecting one party to change in order to sustain a relationship (even before a relationship has been established) is not a good sign.  It would have been like me saying, “Yeah, I want to pledge that house but only if they will completely redesign their organization to suit me.”  So not going to happen!

So, you see how the process of matching by criteria and gradually eliminating the prospects is an efficient decision making tool? 

When I was looking to pledge a sorority there were certain things that were important to me: reputation of the otri_delta_slide_show_and_stuff_534rganization, involvement on campus, leadership of members, social life, priority placed on academics, philanthropy, networking potential and so on.  Of course, the actual architecture of the house and its interior were important to me, but these were minor in comparison to the things that really created the organizations “soul”.

When dating, we all have our own ideas of what we are looking for in relationship.  Tall, fit, active, handy, homeowner, non-smoker, spiritual, not spiritual, conversationalist, education, income, etc.  All these facets determine what we think will be a good fit for us.  It is not a bad idea to have these priorities or preferences.  It is actually a good thing and can prevent us from wasting valuable time and energy on relationships or individuals who are not a good fit.  If the organization I am looking at has no room for sophomores in their organization, then as a sophomore, I would have been wasting time and emotional energy hoping I could pledge that house and I may have missed the opportunity to become a member of an organization that would have been even more suitable for me.  On the other hand, spending so much time about what a guy looks like and how much he makes (having a job is good! Making six figures, not required) is a bit like obsessing about the structure aesthetics of the sorority house instead of paying attention to the quality of life that goes on within that house.

theperuviankiss All this effort before even deciding to meet with someone?  Yes, pretty much.  Oh, sure.  There were occasions when I made exceptions.  100% of those exceptions never made it past the first date.  Once I began putting some more systematic thought into the dating process, I found I was going out on dates that were more enjoyable and I was actually having more than one or two dates with a person.  I wasn’t dreading the proverbial coffee date and more and more of those coffee dates led to something more. Even after the something more, the process continued to be a two-sided matching process as my dates and I continued to get to know each other. Dating is like sorority rush and that’s not a bad thing!

What I’d like to hear from others is what kind of criteria do you use to eliminate people you don’t think will be a good fit for you?  Is it looks, income, personality, education, values (if values what values are important)? 

What’s your criteria when involved in the two-sided matching process of dating?

Heads Up! Seven Up!

lrg-32-valentine_082I remember it well.  The childhood game where seven children in the class are chosen to go to the front of the room.  On the directive, “Heads down thumbs up”, the seven students travel around the room, one by one touching the thumb of one of their classmates and returning to the front of the room. When all seven are back in their places the invitation, “Heads up, seven up” is issued and those seven students whose thumbs where chosen get to stand and try to guess who picked them.  If guessed accurately, they replace their classmate at the front of the room and then enjoy the privilege of getting to “touch a thumb” during the next round.  If not, the chosen student remains in their seat for another round. In this game, as in many such childhood games, there are the choosers, the chosen and those on the sidelines. 

As a teacher, I am amazed at how much kids still really enjoy this game.  As an adult, I am intrigued with the parallels which exist between this childhood game and life, particularly the life of those who find themselves, for whatever reason, single after 40. 

In Heads Up, Seven Up there are the choosers, the chosen and those who get sidelined.  The choosers in life, as in this childhood game, have the most fun or so it seems.  They are up front, making choices, determining by their decisions who gets to play and who does not.  The chosen, are given an opportunity to get in the game, but if they don’t make an effective choice, a perceptive determination, they remain as chosen or worse, they can be sidelined during the next round of play.  The sideliners are those un-chosen ones deemed by their peers as those who will not participate during a round of play. 

During the dating process, we all play each of these parts.  We can be the chooser, determining who we will select or who we won’t.  We invite some to play and sideline others.  We are confident.  We are in control.  We are choosing and shaping our destinies.  Most of us like this place.

Bikes and babes 3There are times in our lives, however, when the choices of others sideline us.  The partner who goes back on a commitment, the infidelity of a spouse, the unreliability or abandonment of the person you planned to spend the rest of your life with but who ended up choosing someone or something else instead of you.  Being served divorce papers, the death of a spouse, the pain of that precious connection going silent without explanation or, worse, just fizzling.  At these times, we find ourselves sidelined, inactive, unable to play, maybe by our own choice…for a time.  Often because of the choices of others or another who simply did not choose us.

Love and Relationship is one game everyone wants to play.  It is the one game that we all want to be involved in either as the chooser or the chosen.  We all dread the sidelines in the game of Love and Relationship.  We want someone to touch our emotional thumb and say, “I pick you!”  WeImage_0023 want someone to tell us they noticed us.  They noticed those things about us that make us special.  They appreciated those unique qualities in us enough to want to be around us and interact with us more often than not.  We want the opportunity to choose and be chosen.  When the words “Heads up, seven up” are called in the game of love we all hope we get to stand at least during one round of play. We hope our guess is right and that we can aptly match the feel of the touch to the owner of the hand.

None of us like the sideline position where we simply watch others play the game that we so deeply desire to be part of ourselves.  This sideline position can be a healthy respite for a time, as we heal from an especially disappointing round of play, but as a permanent state of existence it is simply not ideal.  For some it is even painful. 

Just as in the game Heads Up! Seven Up!  everyone eventually gets to play at least once, so it seems is the case for most people in The Game Of Love.  How long each of us play or how often varies, but it seems that at one time or another we all get the chance to stand on cue and take a whack at making a choice. 

Where are you these days? 

  • Are you in the place of choosing? 
  • Are you there with your head down and your thumb up, hoping you will be tapped for the next romantic encounter?
  • Have you by your choice or the choices of others been sidelined? 
  • Where are you?  How do you feel about it?
  • If you don’t like your current place in the game, what, if anything, will you do to place yourself so that you are happier with your level of participation?

Giving Up

Seriously?  Sometimes I feel like just throwing in the towel.  Misunderstandings, offenses, you know.  Things intended to affirm actually offend and the next thing you know something like World War 3 is underway. 

Yeah.  I give.

Won’t do…say…that any more.

Random, Sweeping Generalizations

sexy womanGads!  I hate people who make broad, random, sweeping generalizations.  I say that, recognizing that I am just as guilty of this crime as the next guy.  The only difference between me and the next guy is that I am aware that I am doing it and the next guy isn’t (how’s that for a random, sweeping generalization?). Sigh. 😀

“All women feel guilty after sex.” 

Now, ladies, before you laugh so hard you require surgery or a change of underwear, let me tell you that this is a statement I actually heard from someone within the last week.  He was serious.  He was also very, very drunk.  Drunk or not, I believe that he believes that this is really reality.  I should so recommend a few of my single mom bloggy friends to him to read.  He’d learn a very different perspective very quickly.  Most women in Single Momdom are adults…and we make our decisons, for the most part as adults…not as inexperienced teenagers struggling over the loss of our virginity or purity.  For that matter, I should also recommend a few of my single dad bloggy friends to him to read. He’d learn very quickly that the women they are meeting and dating (and there are many out there) are not a bit guilt ridden over a good time between the sheets with a man they are attracted to. Disappointed, maybe, if the relationship doesn’t progress, however, guilt ridden?  I so think not!  This person is clearly out of touch with the reality of most women his age.  I believe that his is what he hopes is the case, not what is really the case.  But anyway…

Next generalization…

seriously?“Any woman could go grocery shopping at (insert the name of your own local bag-your-own grocery store here) and get 5 guys in an instant who would go out with her.”  Same drunk redneck, making this generalization as made the first one.  Now, the first one, I know is not true.  I know this because I am a woman and I don’t feel guilty after sex. (Okay, admittedly there are times I’ve been disillusioned, even horrified, but let’s be clear disillusionment and horror are not the same emotion as guilt.)   Even one person not feeling guilty makes his generalization invalid.  Easy generalization to disprove.

This second one however, is trickier to disprove because it actually requires some research and data collection.  So, in the interests of integrity and wiping out all falsehood and kicking random, sweeping generalizations on their butts, I went to the local bag-your-own grocery store and did my own research.

My inquiry statement was, “Can all women grocery shopping at this store get 5 guys in an instant who would go out with her?”  Okay, remember, it takes only one to dispell this generalization and I chose myself as the one control group specimen. 

Here is what I observed. 

But first, some background.  The excursion was an end of the month quick grocery run with my son to pick up milk, English muffins and a cheap, cheap bottle of white wine.  (Yes, it has  been a stressful back-to-school season. I’m celebrating the fact that I’m not only alive at this point, but that things actually seem to be settling into a routine.  Woot! Woot! for me!) 

Seriously?  Five men that would go out with me? 

Okay, I’m attractive and all, but really?  Five men who would jump my bones in an instant if given the chance?  Easier said than done. Here’s why. They simply wouldn’t want the chance, nor would they be given the chance.  This is what I saw.

Of the 87.6 men that I saw 50.4 of them were wearing a gold band on the third finger of the left hand indicating that they were either emotionally or legally unavailble.  Not a go.

Of the 37.2 remaining men,  10.2 were male children under the age of ten. I simply dont’ think so, sorry. 

Of the 27 remaining, 14 of them were there with another woman roughly about their own age.  Seriously?  If they even tried to come on to me their male organs would be served to them for dinner that night guaranteed.  Not going to happen.

elderlyOf the the thirteen men now remaining, and…yes…I am using the term “men” loosely…6 of them were clearly residents of the local assisted care facility.  Sorry, but no can do.  Spent my childhood caring for the elderly and infirm, don’t want to do that anymore. Even if I was interested, I’m not sure they’d remember where they last left the Viagra.  Next.

5 of the remaining seven men were 20-somethings who were there helping their elderly and infirm mothers grocery shop.  I’m not a cougar and they didn’t look once in my direction, let alone twice so it’s all good. No go there.

The final two men, of the original, 87.6 were clearly in a relationship with each other and nothing I could do was going to persuade them otherwise.

So, I just went to said grocery store, checked out the availability, found none. Voila! Said generalization is on its derriere!  Humph! I really hate random, broad generalizations from randomly, generally stupid people.  They can be disproven almost every time. 

In the end, every good research project ends with some observations and conclusions and suggestions for further research.

This particular research project seems to indicate that this particular random generalization of a drunk man who is barely old enough to tie his own shoes is completely unfounded. Just because he’d jump anyone at the local bag-your-own doesn’t mean everyone would or that everyone would want to jump anyone and everyone that crossed their path.

Next.  Finding good relationship is easier said than done.  This is the major suggestion for further research.  Just what exactly does it take for two people to hit it off, make it work far beyond the level of mediocrity and also make it work over the long haul?  These are the questions that were not addressed in this study, which certainly deserve some serious consideration.

Anyone up for this?

How Do You Feel About That Ugly Word Baggage?

Personally, the word “baggage” is a term that rankles me.

Several posts ago,  in the comments section of the article titled Kip’s Challenge, I was quite pointedly and not-so-nicely accused of having baggage.  He made the comment that most men reading my blog would slowly back away from their computer monitors and retreat to the companionship of other men in a bar.  The implication being that relationship with me would be too much work. (Now, how he would know what other single men would or would not do since he is a.) not one of them and, b.) not a woman dating them, is beyond me, but, yeah, we’ll go with that for now.) Supposedly, Kip has an inside track to the normal healthy available  male mind (the aberrant, unhealthy and unavailable don’t interest me, for obvious reasons.

That comment of Kip’s elicited a flurry of comments which ended in Kip silently backing away from his computer monitor and retreating into silence without much of a fight.  It’s been said that silence is interpreted as agreement.  Need I say more about that?

I’m not entirely certain what Kip  meant by baggage, but if, as I think he did, he was referring to the typical things that people refer to when labeling someone as having “baggage” (kids, past failed marriages, life history and experience, a career, some debt, and a life of my own that I actually enjoy and am not willing to necessarily tube for some dolt with a penis and a pocketbook) then I suppose he is right.  I have baggage and loads of it.  The fact that he said it, doesn’t really bother me so much, the fact that he was the one saying it, when I know full well he is sitting on top of a load of baggage far messier and larger than my own, is what I found humorous.  But you can go read all that for yourself over there if you like.  I’d suggest you not waste your time…unless you actually like some drama.

Over the last two years, I’ve done some thinking about the word baggage, and Kip’s comment forced me to revisit and take another look at this ugly word.

It is an ugly, ugly word.  It is ugly because it attacks the person at the core of their being but doesn’t mean anything at the same time.

Upon entering the dating scene nearly two years ago,now, I like most others just coming out of a disastrous marriage, was in no shape to begin dating.  Even so, I ventured forth against the advice of good friends who knew me and knew better.  I dated for about six months, learned a lot about myself and eventually quite dating, because I determined my friends were right.  I need to sort myself out first before I was going to even be able to recognize a soul mate should he ever venture onto the scene. 

During this initial dating period, I tried several different methods of meeting people.  One of them being, online dating.  In fact, I tried nearly all the prominent well known ones and some of the not so well known ones.  During this online dating phase, I encountered the word baggage more often than I care to remember. 

Baggage is an ugly, derogatory word that contains a million diffferent meanings depending upon who is using the word and what their particular definition of it might be. It is like the word love in reverse.  People love God, or they love their significant other or their kids, and they love movie theatre popcorn or stiletto pumps, or lobster.  Another vague and meaningless word like this is the word, “good”.  What exactly is good?  He felt good.  That movie was good.  You are a good person.  Baggage is yet another word that is so vague as to be meaningless anymore except when it is used it can really sting.  Even if it isn’t true.

You often hear folks mention it in their profiles saying things like this, “Those with baggage need not apply.”  LOL!  Like, first of all anyone with baggage is really going to admit it and second of all, what exactly are you calling baggage there, buddy?  I mean, really? Seriously?  As if the person writing it who is pushing 50 has a clean slate themselves.  If they do, that’s the biggest piece of baggage!  Baggage for me (not divorced, a lot of drama associated with the past because the divorce settlement or parenting time was vague, too many financial loose ends involving the ex, a volatile or violent ex,  emotional instability, a prison record, unemployed, homeless, addicted) could be entirely different for someone else.  Most men seem to state kids, addictions, and insecurities as the main elements of baggage.  Most men do not include a stalker woman as one who has baggage since they mostly like to be stalked.  Expecially if the woman is beautiful, tiny and has had her breasts magically enlarged so that they are significantly larger than her buttocks.  What they don’t really recognize though, is that a woman like that (unless she paid for the services herself) is probably carrying a load of “baggage” (read insecurities and not comfortable in her own skin) and has even bigger expectations for relationship which don’t center around accepting the man as he is but instead focus on measuring him in light of the depth and breadth of his pocketbook.  But I digress.

Most of the time, when someone says, “He/She has a ton of baggage” it is intended as malicious insult aimed at undermining the recipient’s competence as an adult human being.  It simply means “He/she is incapable of doing life”.  They are an incompetent individual unable to deal successfully with the challenges of adult life, therefore they are being crossed off the list of life by someone, usually, who has enough baggage of their own as to make the person they are criticizing look bag free.

It doesn’t mean merely that person was not a good fit.  It doesn’t mean that  the person made some bad choices in the past but they are overcoming them and they’ll be alright.  It’s a completely derogatory term usually used by the middle aged single people for other middle aged single people.  And most people don’t mean “life experience” or “the past” when they are talking about it.  They definitely mean to lump all the person’s issues into one neat and tidy word without specifying anything but with the clear intent to verbally knock the person flat.  Because really, the term baggage is so vague, so broad, who honestly can argue with it?

To many, I would be someone with a lot of baggage: four kids, a home that I own that I have not foreclosed on, but which needs some cosmetic improvements and which has a yard that needs tending to in order to keep it beautiful, a diminishing debt load and a successful career that requires a lot of time and energy from me during 9 months of the year.  That would be baggage for some.

For others, my baggage would center around the fact that I have two marriages that didn’t work out.  Okay, I’ll say it: I have two failed marriages. And, yes, they failed because I was as much a part of the problem as the other person.  That admission somehow sends off alarms to all (well, at least the unhealthy insecure “all”)  that I’m incompetent in relationship.  People make assumptions instead of asking the critical question, “What was that about for you?”  For others, my baggage would center around the fact that I’ve spent a fair amount of time after my last divorce thinking through exactly that very question and reflecting not only on what the other person did or didn’t do that didn’t work for me, but also on how I contributed to the problem.  The result is, in some areas I’m very clear on what I will or will not tolerate in relationship.  I’m clear on what the foundations of a good relationship must be and how to recognize them. I’m becoming more and more clear on what my limitations are and what does or doesn’t work for me and my boundaries in this regard are getting firmer daily. I’m also unwilling to waste time in any relationship that doesn’t demonstrate at least the basics of emotional, financial and legal availability and the biggie: mutual  acceptance and respect .  Many men, especially those, who haven’t a clear concept of their own self identity, who are insecure or immature, and/or who need a woman to take care of them or fulfill them or to meet their self-centered needs, or who are simply stupid, can’t stand me.

I’m totally okay with that! 

The term baggage, however, is  one of those words which while intended to harm the person talked about, also implicates the person wielding the word.  When someone uses that word, eyebrows raise and the question goes out, “Oh, really, what do you mean?”  It works like this.  You use the word “baggage”.  The question goes out, “What do you mean?”  The word is uselessly vague so you must clarify the word and in clarifying the word you malign the other person somehow. When you malign another from your past, especially when on a date with a new person, it is the death knell.  You’ve succeeded in assassinating the person you were talking about but you made yourself look just as bad in the process. Baggage is an ugly word which when used reflects badly on both the person targeted but even more so the person using the word.

How do you feel about the word “baggage”?  What does that word mean to you?

Ask A Dating Coach

question-mark1aI’ve recently been having a small measure of fun on Twitter.  By small measure I mean not very much but some.  Enough to go back each day and read some of the Tweets and on occasion click on some of the links.  The greatest reaction you’d see me give would be one you’d have to be in my mind to hear and that would be a mere, “Hmmm…interesting”.  In all, Twitter is a promotional site as far as I can tell.  It just seems to be a bunch of people promoting themselves…and I’m one of them.  We’ve become a world of self-promoters.  We are now our own best ad agencies.  Sigh.  But that’s not the reason for this post.

On Twitter or….due to my experiences there…I’ve come to realize that people like Hitch are not uncommon.  When I first saw that movie, I thought, “How could anyone seriously make any money doing that?”  Well, not only are there dating coaches out there, they actually seem to be making money doing it.  I haven’t done the research on what the qualifications for a dating coach are or how much they make, but the job position clearly exists and it isn’t like there are just one or two out there.

I sometimes think I could be a dating coach.  After all, I date a lot and I get callbacks.  I make it to the second and third and fourth cuts usually unless I opt out first.  I seem to be doing some things right most of the time.  I learn from my mistakes when I don’t and keep moving on.

Other times I think I could use a dating coach.  Those are the times when I encounter a dating situation that I just don’t have the prior knowledge or the required skillset to be able to negotiate the situation seamlessly and effortlessly.

Now is one of those times. 

Certain events have transpired to create a unique situation for me.  The specifics have me trying to wrap my mind around certain things.

These are the things I am trying to wrap my mind around:

When in a long distance relationship, and you finally meet for the first time, clearly the person isn’t going to travel a great distance for just a two hour date.  In the case of an international relationship, just the ordeal of working out passports, visas, and going through customs indicates a fair amount of commitment to the cause, and one is not going to go to all this trouble for a dinner date one evening.  Right? 

So, my question is, if the guy comes in from out of town for the weekend, or the fortnight is that entire time considered the first date?  Or is just the first evening the first date? 

If the first evening is the first date, and he’s come to town from overseas to see you, then if you “play by the rules” is the third evening he’s in town the third date? There is at least one school of thought that suggests the first date should be only two hours long. So the question then becomes,  is the first two hours you’re together considered the first date? Or is the entire visit considered the first date?  

If the entire time is considered the first date does this then mean he has to come back overseas two more times before it is considered the third date? 

Or, conversely, if the first two hours are considered the first date, then by the sixth hour if you haven’t put out should he be getting on the plane and heading home? If he hasn’t made a move on me by the sixth hour do I figure he’s just not that into me?  What amount of time is appropriate to consider getting romantic, the sixth hour, the sixth day or the sixth overseas trip?  I’m just having a really tough time understanding the rules here.

Does the Third Date Rule even apply here? 

Let’s revisit the thinking that says you shouldn’t spend more than two hours on the first date together.  Let’s play that tape again:  he’s flying in from another continent.  You’ve both planned this trip for months.  He gets off the plane after traveling 22 hours and battling customs.  You tell him two hours after he arrives, “Well, I should be getting home now.  I had a great time.  Thanks for everything!” WTH is up with that? 

Or how bout the idea that says you shouldn’t see each other more than twice a week at first?  Hit stop! Rewind!  Let’s play video back at a slower speed.  He’s traveled 22 hours by plane, battled customs at great expense to come see you for two weeks to see if the two of you have what it takes to develop a viable relationship.  He’s making no expectations and covering all the expenses and all you’re going to give up of yourself and your time is  four hours at two different times each of the two weeks he is in your country?  Ummmm, what about all that sounds gamey, manipulative, contrived and very selfish? 

Now clearly, I’m not necessarily advocating spending 24/7 with him either, but it seems there has to be a bit of a balance here.  It seems that the nature of the Long Distance Relationship, especially when two different cultures and countries and the expenses that are involved requires some special treatment and consideration and flexibility.

If you insist upon going by all those rules, can you see how it just gets very confusing when dealing with a distance relationship? Do you adhere to the letter of the law or the spirit of the law when dealing with a long distance relationship?   (And by long distance, I mean one where you cannot possibly drive to see the person in eight hours or less.)

It seems to me that the spirit of the law is the guide here.  The questions to really be asking are how do you develop and sustain trust across the miles?  How do you deal with technological snags that limit communication and still move the relationship forward? How do you show caring and respect and continue getting to know each other.  How do you take care of you even though you are spending a significant amount of time with another person?  How do you overcome the cultural and social challenges that might come your way?  How do you support and care for each other when you cannot be in the same location?  How do you keep the interest alive when you are spending so much time together during visits and then no time together during non-visits?  How long can this go on before you have to consider ways to close the distance? 

I mean I could be wrong here, but isn’t the challenge in every relationship that of maintaining and caring for who you are while also respecting and caring for the other individual too?  There has to be togetherness as well as space and distance and the two people in question are either able to negotiate this or they can’t. If they can’t it is probably not going to be a go in the first two hours, the first six or on the sixth trip. I could be wrong. 

Maybe I should ask a dating coach.