What’s Cooking & Other Kitchen Games

emeril1_t290 I’m pitching a reality TV show idea to Hollywood.  This show would feature any number of really excellent cooks (Rachel Ray, Paula Dean, and, ooh la la Emeril (Bam!) to name a few) who would come in to the studio kitchen and attempt to teach me how to cook. I would then attempt (keyword: attempt) to make the dish or the meal, right there on national television.  It’s a bit like Julie & Julia because, of course I would be attempting to imitate a great cook, but it would also combine elements of some other reality TV shows like Survivor.  The audience members getting drawn to sample the finished product (would they be the contestants or the judges?) would be the ones trying to survive, of course.  The name of this new reality TV show?  You guessed it, “How To Screw Up A Really Great Meal”.  I can hear it now.  The studio audience applauding, the cameras swing into action panning the audience, lights go up full, the musical score plays and the announcer’s voice belts out my cue to go onstage, “This is How To Screw Up A Really Great Meal with your host, The Wild Mind!”  The crowd goes wild, because they truly hope that this episode will be the one where I finally pull off an edible attempt.

Sigh.  One can dream.

fantasy cook off Hell’s Kitchen

Truth of the matter is, I’ve never been comfortable in the kitchen until recently.  Growing up in my home, for me, and learning to cook with a dad who was first, an excellent cook himself, and two, anal retentive about leveling off every single cup, tablespoon and teaspoon.  Now, that’s not such a bad thing, but something happened between my father and I in the kitchen every time he tried to teach me a recipe that led to him getting frustrated with me and me in tears about it…or angry.  My memory of the experience is a bit Hell’s Kitchen-esque.  The result?  I gave up trying to cook.  By the time I really needed to cook to feed a family, there was no way on God’s green earth I was going to ever measure up to my, then, husband’s mom’s cooking or my now deceased father’s ability to measure and scoop so succinctly, so again, you guessed it, I gave up and quit trying.  I mean, who really enjoys slaving away for a couple of hours after a long day at work only to be greeted with criticism.  Throw the poor cook a bone and at least affirm the effort. Those of you wonderful family members out there who suffer in silence and still muster the lie, “It was great honey!” and manage to choke it down anyway, are to be commended.  You will soon be dining like kings instead of ordering out take-out. Anyway, enough of my deplorable kitchen issues. 

Cooking isn’t rocket science

One thing my dad did tell me was any fool who can read can learn to cook.  In fact, his attitude was that if you can read you can teach yourself to do anything and by the time I left home for college he’d proven that theory on a number of things in his own life.  It was pretty amazing.  So, while our father-daughter bonding kitchen experiences are less than ideal, my dad set a pretty great example in a bunch of areas. Learning things you have no clue how to do was one of them.

So, with that example, and with the added incentive that my poor children are starving, I’ve decided to, finally in midlife, do something I’ve really always wanted to do, but have never really made a commitment to doing.  I’m finding that cooking is a lot more fun than I expected. 

j0426457Since being single, I’ve found out that there are also many, many men who are not only great handy men, but they are skilled in the kitchen as well.  This leads me to think that gaining some kitchen knowledge might be a lot more fun than I previously thought.  After all, there’s a lot of fun to be had using hot pads, an egg beater and real butter.  Accompanying the meal preparations with a fine bottle of wine is a nice touch.  Later in the evening the adventurous cooking couple can advance to serving each other cocktails such as Sex On The Beach or Screwdrivers.  But for those, who like me, are uncertain of themselves in this new domain, I’d like to suggest these simple steps to enjoying a wonderful culinary experience. This is a combination cooking experience for beginners and a party game.  It is a versatile recipe.  Feel free to experiment with your own combinations and techniques.  As you gain confidence and skill, I’m sure you, too, will be able to develop your own personal culinary style.  If you’re more adept at the culinary arts maybe you could leave a comment and share what variations on this recipe you’ve tried. 

Recipe For Kitchen Success

Ingredients:

2 nicely shaped ripe oranges, one ripe but not over-ripe banana, saucepan, oven with working heat controls, 1 very flavorful Kielbasa, seasonings.

Instructions:

Step One:  Carefully and slowly, peel the oranges

Step Two:  Gently squeeze the oranges

Step Three: Savor the oranges as you simmer over a low heat and season to taste.

Step 4:  Continue savoring and simmering while stirring occasionally.

Step 4:  While simmering the oranges over a gradually increasing heat, peel the banana

Step 5:  When the oranges, banana and oven are fully heated…

Step 6:  Play Hide The Kielbasa

Enjoy!

Sex or Making Love? Who Is Confused?

947907_76218223 Oh, my!  ‘Tis the snuggle season that’s for sure and several of my bloggy friends out there are bringing up the topic on everyone’s mind (or, at least, theirs)…sex. But is it really sex that is on people’s minds or is it romance, is it relationship, is it something else altogether? This post is a response to several other posts posted in the blogosphere earlier this week as well as my own personal convoluted thought path travelled in response to these various posts. 

A Tale of 4 Blog Posts

The first post found here at Big Little Wolf’s Daily Plate of Crazy, talks about the confusion that can arise between the terms “sex” and “lovemaking”. Go there read it and return more informed about some of the thinking that gave rise (no pun intended) to my own post (also no pun intended) here.  In a nutshell she poses a great many good questions on the topic with the ultimate being what is the difference between love-making and sex.

Add to that, this new blog friend  at To Be Determined who is traveling down the post-divorce single path with me, though at a much earlier stage in her life. Like me, she’s often wished there were some sort of dating rulebook.  Unlike me she still has her 30’s ahead of her and because of this her dating options are much greater than are mine though, admittedly, I am more fortunate in this regard than many. She also, as far as I can tell, doesn’t have the added complexity of trying to be a great mommy and trying to carve out time with another adult even if that time is merely coffee or a movie. Even so, my new friend at To Be Determined has dealt with the difficult issues and challenges divorce creates and I do wish I’d had her courage to blog more seriously and more intelligently about my own journey.  Kudos in a big way to her for doing that!

The third post, and one that rather struck a bit of a nerve with me is the one that jassnight at The Critical Path wrote today.  He talks about the nature of sex with older men, from the man’s perspective and he uses the really nice metaphor of running in the Master’s Division when competing in a marathon. He deals with how sex is viewed by men and how that view changes as men age.

And then, after all these ideas were simmering on the back burner of my mind, and as I was trying to find a quick easy recipe for those red potatoes I have in the fridge to go with the roast I’m attempting to destroy in the slow cooker (because, yes, once again, I am here with you and not watching the stove like I should be) I came across this most depressing thing. Of course, all the mom’s there are like, what, 35 and under, if that, but never mind.  This last site only served to make me ask myself these questions:

  • What defines hot?
  • Who’s deciding?
  • Do I qualify?
  • Do I care?

I won’t be answering those particular questions here in depth, other than to say: 

  • I have no clue what men think is hot. What I’ve heard from my male friends is all over the board.  This confuses me.
  • I don’t know who’s deciding.  I think I am.  I think I’m more interested in just being comfortable with me in my own skin.
  • I don’t know if I qualify as hot.  It always makes me feel a bit uncomfortable to hear those words in reference to me.  (I’m sure if I was totally in love with someone and he were saying that about me I’d have no problem, at least, I hope not!)
  • Yeah, sadly, if I were to be honest, I think I do.  I also think I care less and less with each passing day, not in a give up sort of way, but because I’m finding so much more of value to care about. 

Things Are Different Over Here

j0400322 It is tough being female, over 40 and single in our youth oriented culture, even if you look great. If you look good, or average or worse than average (however you would define that and most women are much harder on themselves than they ought to be) things get tougher, that is, if male companionship of a physical nature matters to them.  It is tougher being female, over 40, single and wanting to experience a fantastic relationship someday before you die…or before you check in at the retirement home.  There’s just so much of life to share with another person and having another adult around, if the relationship is healthy,it is energizing and motivating.  Two people in a good relationship with each other can provide strength, encouragement, affection, intimacy.  They can spot each other when one needs a break or is facing stresses. They can encourage each other to be better than either of them could be alone. They can challenge each other toward optimum growth in all areas of life. They can be there to stave off loneliness and support each other during the rough spots of life.  They can build something together that is bigger than the both of them.  Something that connects to the people and world around them and which makes a positive difference to all. This experience, while rare, is still a good thing.  But how does it happen?  For the woman suddenly single in her mid-40’s, the struggle with self-esteem issues that naturally accompany divorce can be exacerbated by the fact that if her 40’s are nearly over her opportunities for love seem to be diminishing and the rumor is, well, 50 is a big number. Besides, when a man of the same age can effectively court, woo, seduce or whatever a woman half his age and many of them do, how’s she to feel about what she’s got to bring to the table?  Likely she’s got kids, responsibilities, a house payment, yard work, laundry and a job.   Sadly in our culture the chipped nails due to weeding and the dry, cracked dishwasher hands just don’t shout “Hottie!” to most passersby. Younger women often come with half this amount of “baggage” and much tighter firmer (or, at least smaller) bottoms too boot. 

If You Ain’t Hot, What Have You Got?

j0436490 In our youth oriented culture, we worship the exterior. This leads us to assess each other on the external factors in our lives.  We consider the quality of the cars we drive, the addresses of our homes, how neatly manicured the lawns are and whether or not the person has good job.  Others even make assessments based on what kind of job the person has. While we are greatly privileged with many choices in this country and the ability to chose possessions that we like and which reflect our perceptions of ourselves, does this mean that in every case the vehicle reflects the person?  Does this mean in every case that the job reflects the woman or man?  Does this mean that I am somehow inadequate, because my yard is not perfectly edged and my walkway needs repair? Am I my job?  Am I my wardrobe?

Let’s take this one step further, and address physical beauty.  What is beautiful?  What is sexy?  What is hot?  It’s a pretty common understanding that women’s standards of beauty are different than men’s.  This is where I believe the confusion, if there is confusion, arises.  Women and men see this topic differently and our image oriented society with the help of airbrushed and digitized perfect bodies doesn’t help do anything except further the notion that in order to have a great relationship you’ve got to look great first.

Does physical beauty impact the quality of the sexual relationship?  If so, how and in what ways? 

j0444284 I mean, really.  Let’s think about that logic.  If physical beauty were the pre-requisite for an incredibly mind-blowing sexual experience then how come people don’t just jump into the sack on this basis alone.  (Well, okay, maybe some do, but for the rest of us?) On the other hand, being attracted to someone is important too because there is that thing we like to refer to as “chemistry”. It doesn’t make sense.  Just look around.  We see couples every day in our daily pass through this life that are not extraordinarily good looking but who enjoy a good connection with a partner.

Or is the question more like what exactly determines attractiveness? And doesn’t that question have as many individual answers as people asking it?

Might I suggest, that physical beauty is a nice thing but, it is not the most important thing.

In the end, I think it boils down to what the individual is seeking in terms of relationship with another.  I think those individual priorities determine the level of attraction to another person and the quality of any sexual encounter if a mutual interest were to exist.

So, to go back to my To Be Determined friend’s questions as to where is the Dating Rule Book, I have to respond with there isn’t one because the dating situation is as specific as the two different individuals involved. There might be some broad brush rules of thumb but beyond that it really is up to the individuals to chart their own course and navigate their own way.

As for jassnight’s assessments at The Critical Path of men and what they hope for and expect as they age, I can only hope some of that is true. But, truth be told, I think what people look for, what people consider important and what people value is as individual as the individual’s themselves.  The difficulty is more a matter of coming up with a good fit between two people.

j0444035Regarding my friend, BLW’s post, about Sex vs. Lovemaking the same holds true.  I know she is not confused.  I know she is just posing the questions to begin dialogue.  Many, though, do seem to be confused. I don’t think any of us really are confused.  I think we all know the difference.  Sometimes we let good sex convince us there is more to the relationship than really exists.  Sometimes the lack of instantaneously mind blowing sex dissuades us from pursuing what might turn out to be a very loving, nurturing and lasting relationship. 

We all know when we’ve just “had sex”.  Even when it is “mind-blowing” sex, it is still “just sex” and we know it. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure it out. When we make love there’s an added ingredient or two or three, that can’t be orchestrated as the result of putting two good-looking people in a room and telling them to have at it.  It isn’t any of it based on what either partner is individually, but rather, on what the two of them are together, what they share and what they’ve created between them, personally, privately, intimately. When they make love the core of their union as people is expressed physically.  This doesn’t happen overnight. 

This doesn’t happen instantaneously.

It doesn’t happen with a revolving door of partners, at least, not from what most people who’ve told me they’ve had a revolving door of partners say.

It doesn’t happen outside the context of something important and meaningful and loving.

It takes time to build something of value and anything of value costs something in terms of time, dedication, commitment, devotion and caring.

Making love happens in the context of a loving, healthy, relationship where trust and commitment are key ingredients.

The rest of it is just great sex.

Where’s the confusion?

Edgar Just Didn’t Get Me There

There’s a little known place in my area, not far from where I live, that is a boon to any avid reader or book lover in the area.  It’s a place where I can get books for free!  Nice books in good condition too!  It’s the local book exchange and it is a wonderful thing for me. Since there’s no established flame in my life at the moment taking up my waking moments, since I’m not exactly one who can stand watching TV all the time, since I’ve definitely decided to stay away from the online dating thing and since my daily life (other than trips to the grocery store) don’t provide much opportunity to meet qualified candidates for a suitable significant other, I’m going to be doing a bunch of reading over the holiday break.  The existence of a book exchange only minutes away from my home while wonderful can be a downer in some respects, especially if you live in a very small home. Generally, I like to keep my books, but lately I’ve picked up and read a few, I don’t think I’ll be hanging on to.

83dac060ada0ba3d7cafa110_L The first of these is The Story of Edgar Sawtelle, by David Wroblewski.  It is beautifully written, very moving and I found myself in tears throughout much of it.  It is a story of a boy, his dog and a relationship.  It is a beautifully crafted and moving story. If descriptive and figurative language is the key to an excellent book, this author definitely has his game on.  It is an excellent book and it even made Oprah’s Book Club in 2008.  (Yes, I know, I’m late to that game too!)

So, if the book is so great, why am I not keeping it on my shelves?  First off, have you seen the size of the book?  The hardbound edition, which is the one I have, takes up nearly three inches of space on my very limited shelf space.  When I was dating the Beau, he told me I needed to get rid of some books. His perfectly minimalist home inspired much of the cleaning out, painting and re-decorating projects I conducted throughout  this year.  Even so, these words come from a man who, I think, has a sum total of 8 books in his house. (That’s not a bad thing, it’s just not me.)  Words which were said to a woman, who if she could, would have an entire room filled floor to ceiling with bookshelves and good books, except for the part of the walls where the windows and the fireplace existed.  The Beau was partly right though.  I don’t need to keep EVERY book I read, just for the sake of keeping it.  To this end, Edgar Sawtelle must move on.  Instead, it will become a gift for my oldest daughter, who turned me onto it in the first place.  She’s not read it yet, so she should enjoy it.

The other reason, Edgar Sawtelle, doesn’t get to stay around, is because as beautifully written and crafted as it is, it is a downer for me. He just didn’t get me to my happy place.  (If you haven’t read the book and you want to, you won’t want to read much further because it might be a spoiler for you.)   I just kept reading, hoping things in the story would get better and it just didn’t.  It was truly a modern day tragedy.  Given that my life of late has been filled with enough of its own tragedy, I prefer to read things that help me focus on hopeful outcomes rather than dire and distressing ones.  I got done reading this late one evening in front of the fire, tears streaming down my face (thank God the kids weren’t home) and I wondered, “What if things don’t ever get better? What if they keep getting worse?”   No.  Definitely not a good place for me to go…and the tears?  No, definitely not a good look.

the-time-travelers-wife Another book that won’t be taking up permanent residence here at The Wild Mind household is The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger. You can read a review that I pretty much agree with here if you want a fully blown synopsis. (And by the way, check 10Thirty’s blog…she can cook…makes me sick…but she’s a fun read!)  I agree with 10Thirty’s conclusions about the book, though I could never have articulated them quite as well.  I simply don’t care to spend the time!  Like Edgar Sawtelle, while I was intrigued and kept reading on to find out what would happen next, I simply couldn’t stand the ending.  It left me wanting.  Never a good thing to do to The Wild Mind, as Ex #2 can attest!  He looks like this now, because he made that fatal error:

San Francisco 2009 039

Like, Edgar, The Time Traveler’s Wife left me feeling down and dismal.  I think I’m just at the place right now, where over the last three years, and especially this year, I’ve had enough of my own unhappy endings that I really don’t care to read about any more unhappy and tragic endings.  Part of the reason I read is to escape some of my present reality.  These books somehow didn’t quite reach the Calgon level of taking me away from all that, so they don’t stay on my shelves.

And, now I’m wondering…

Are you a reader and a book lover? 

If so, what do you read and what are your purposes for reading?

If not, what do you do when you need a momentary escape from the less than happy realities you might be facing?

Old Maids and Fairy Tales

This post originally appeared on my MySpace blog in 2007 back in the day when I actually maintained a MySpace page.  That was in the pre-FB days.  My, how things have changed!  I migrated this piece over to CABsPlace when I originally started blogging.  I’m moving it here now, because it is vintage Wild Mind thinking…with some minor updates. Let me know what you think. 

cinderella-stories-with-the-disney-princesses-8236784-800-600I was one of those misguided people who grew up with the idea that somehow the right way, or the good way or the proper way to do the "fairy tale" was to go to college, meet Mr.. Prince Charming, upon graduation get married and then begin doing life.  I was also under the misguided impression that if I wasn’t engaged by the time I graduated, my odds of ever getting married were rapidly declining and I was running the risk of dying an "old maid". 

Now, I have no idea where I came up with these absolutely ludicrous ideas.  I mean, my mother certainly didn’t instill those into me.  In fact, she was the one who constantly admonished me to spend time figuring out who I was, what I wanted and what I was about before even entering into marriage.  It was her voice that encouraged me to spend a few years after college being single and on my own so I could learn whatever I needed to learn to be able to stand on my own two feet.  My father agreed with my mother on that score and together they actually taught me to reason logically, value education and intelligence and to stand my ground in the face of adversity. 

Their relationship, at least from my perspective, didn’t look at all like the fairy tale I envisioned.  They got married after being divorced twice in front of the justice of the peace, for crying out loud!  No, white horse drawn glittery carriage for them.  Though, I have to admit that my dad, who was an amateur rock hound and who cut and polished his own semi-precious stones as a hobby, did all right where the ring came into play.  He cut, polished and had set the most beautiful blue sapphire I have to this date ever seen.  It was huge.  It was sparkly. It was some serious bling! It was gorgeous and it had fairy tale written all over it.  Come to think of it, it was probably as big as Cinderella’s carriage…but I digress.

My parents were practical, responsible, intelligent people.  They’d lived long enough to have the fairy tale beaten out of them. Or maybe they had learned along the way that the fairy tale exists, it just doesn’t always look the way the storybooks and Disney portray it.  Hmmm.

But…being young, headstrong and unwilling to consider (at least at that age) that my parents even had a clue about how to do life, much less that they actually made good choices in the romance department, I did not listen.  Instead, I forged ahead, dreaming of the day when my own fairy tale would be realized. 

Anyone who spoke to me of enjoying being single and seeking my own life independent of any man was received by me with the same response most folks would give Dracula.  I didn’t exactly pay them any heed.  In fact, I smiled nicely and avoided them like the plague.

Fast forward, two marriages, four children, and a quarter of a century later and I’m thinking my parents and all those well intentioned advisors may have had it right all along.  No, not may have, they did have it right all along.  Instead of seriously considering spending my 20’s discovering me and learning to be comfortable with me, which would have then later helped me to recognize Mr.. Prince Charming and make a more informed marital decision, I jumped into marriage.  I didn’t know him, I didn’t know me, I had no experience with which to make decisions and I was very miserable for many many years and it spiraled out of control less than 20 years in.  When I self-destructed as the result of my own self designed disaster, my "fairy tale" self-destructed.  You’d think I’d have learned from my mistake.  You’d think. But no, I tried to fix the first wrong, by committing a second one.  I married a second time only a brief two months after the ink was dry on my first divorce.  As you might imagine, thus began the nightmare from which I couldn’t awaken and it lasted for six long and terrifying years.

My parents had it mostly right all along. I should have taken my twenties to just get to know me as I am.  I should have taken the time, as my mother advised, to figure out what my likes and dislikes are…apart from parental admonitions.  Apart from a significant other’s overbearing demands.  Apart. Alone.  Me.  Unedited.

Now, today, here I am, a lifetime later (it seems), taking their advice.  I am, at 40+,  doing what I should have done 25 years ago.  I am a slow learner.  In the education world we call that the student who needs more time.  I guess, that’s me.  I needed more time…and now I’m taking it.  But, to be honest, it’s really not easy at this stage of the game. 

You see, when I was twenty, I had better odds of having more time.  In my mid-40’s, it’s likely, I don’t have that kind of time left.  There is the sense, in some ways, that time is running out, and, to be honest that worries me occasionally.  But it only worries me sometimes, not all the time.  I don’t dwell on it ever.  In fact, I have reached the point where I mostly don’t care.  I am no longer afraid of being the "old maid", because simply stated, the old maid doesn’t exist, and even if she does and even if I were her, after what I’ve been through, I can confidently say there are fates worse than that.  I’ve lived one of them already.  I’m not soon going to sign up for it again.

Young people today are waiting longer to get married and that, in my mind is wise.  Some, no many, are choosing never to marry, even though they could.  People are living longer, women even older than me are far more active for far many years than in past generations.  I look around and see many women who are single, divorced, widowed and I don’t see a single old maid among them.  I see people choosing life, enjoying life and making choices that work for them, because they know themselves well enough to say yes to the options that they know they can live with and enjoy.  They easily and without apology say no to the options or choices that would be unhealthy or damaging for them.  They do this because they know who they are and what their limits are.  This is a very good thing.

So, as the mother of three daughters and one son, I’ve worked hard to debunk the Old Maid myth and rewrite the fairy tale.  I’ve worked hard to encourage my children to be themselves and get to know themselves.  This requires some detachment at times as a parent.  It also requires skill in listening, accepting and keeping lines of communication open.  Critical, judgmental and harsh evaluations cannot be entertained.

Do I always enjoy hearing about my daughter’s latest agony with a guy she likes, a catty girlfriend who just betrayed her, or the relational stresses any of them might at any time be experiencing? Hmmm, no, sometimes it’s just too much information, but I’d rather she discuss it with me than not.  It also gives us the opportunity to practice taking a look at who she is, what she’s about, what her personal goals are and how all the noise around her fits into that.  In the end, I can’t walk with her into her fairy tale, but I can give her the tools to write it for herself in whatever manner she chooses. And, I can help free her from the Disney image of what that fairy tale must look like.  This is what I am doing with her and each of her siblings in turn.

As for me?

Well…sigh. 

I often think my chance at love, romance and enjoying life with Prince Charming may be well past.  I hope not.  As a realist, I have to entertain the idea that this just might be my reality.  I have to move on. I have to deal with me.

cameron_diaz_mike_myers_shrek_001If he does appear…my Prince Charming doesn’t have to fight any dragons or wake me with a kiss from an endless, enchanted sleep.  In fact, he doesn’t have to do anything. He just has to be honestly, to the core, himself.  No apologies.  I imagine when he finally rides onto the scene, I will be busy ruling my kingdom, he will be busy ruling his, and we will know ourselves well enough to recognize that what we have together has all the makings of a very fine fairy tail. It won’t look like Disney.  At this point, it might not even look as good as my parents’ fairy tale, but, then, it might look a whole lot better too. It won’t matter, with any luck we’ll recognize each other when we cross paths and we’ll know the fairy tale we want to create and we won’t hesitate to set about making it happen.

Until then, I’m defeating the scary dragons that threaten on occasion to consume my castle and my kingdom on my own, doing quite well at it and enjoying, well, almost every minute of it.

After reading that, I realize, it is probably geared mostly toward my female audience.  I’ve been doing some thinking though lately and my hunch is that men aren’t so “undesirous” of the fairy tale as we might be led to believe.  It might look different to a guy.  I don’t know. It’d be nice to hear what some men out there think about the fairy tale.  I think maybe we are all closer to being on the same page than we think about what we want and hope for in relationship.  What do you think?

If Life Were A Supermarket, Where Would I Find You?

Copyright CABrasseur, 2009

Some of you might know that I have another blog titled Welcome To CABsPlace. I’ve kind of let that dangle a bit as I try to clarify really what my own vision is for each of my blogs.  For now, I think I’ve decided to make CABsPlace more of my personal or family blog and have it deal more with parenting, home improvement, and single mommy stuff, while this one will address more adult themes of mid-life singles, divorce, relationships, dating, self-improvement and personal growth, as well as parenting.  To that end, I am going to start moving some of the CABsPlace Posts over here in cases where the content is more suitable for this blog.  This is the first of such posts.  You’ll know the original post content because the font will appear (hopefully) in a different color.  And, yes, I am taking liberties, at times to edit and enhance (this does not mean re-write) the posts when necessary.

I hope you enjoy these.  Some of them are my earlier works and it is interesting to see how much I’ve changed in my thinking and my writing in the last couple of years. Do, please, let me know what you think.  The feedback is incredibly valuable to me.  

The email comment read, “If life were a supermarket, I bet I’d find you in the desserts and treats aisle”. I pondered this statement momentarily, thinking, well that’s a pretty creative way of putting yourself out there.  However, I thought to myself as I gazed at the digital text, I’m not so sure that’s entirely accurate. I mean, desserts and treats?  Fun?  Yes.  Sweet and yummy? I like to think so in the right circumstances with the right kind of guy.  Complete fluff and no real relational nutrition?  Not so much.

I decided to rewrite myself as if my life were a supermarket. Where would one find me? Here’s my start to that creative question. 

Check out the decadent phallic symbols in this picture!

If life were a supermarket, I’d be in the desserts and treats section because I am fun, sweet, yummy, tasty and gooey and, at times, in the appropriate context with a suitable member of the opposite sex, very decadent.  I’d also be in the fine wines section because I am aging well and I deserve to be savored rather than gulped and tossed aside.  You’d find me in the the tri-tip steak section because I am tender, flavorful, tasteful and authentically real unlike the hot dogs or bologna slices you find in the processed lunch meats aisle.  You’ll  find me in the produce aisle especially near the dark green leafy vegetables, the mushrooms and the zucchini because I am really down to earth, health conscious, but not fanatical. You’d find me in the coffee aisle because the smell of fresh brewed coffees is more about ambiance that caffeine and mood is so important to a satisfying relationship.  You’d find me in the cleansers and detergent aisle because while I’m not OCD, I am definitely a bit of a neat freak and I like my home and my things and my children to be clean…as well as myself and my own clothing. Of course, you’d find me in the toiletries aisle, at some point, because like all good moms, I take care of the details and I’m prepared for any emergency. You would not find me in the fast food or chips and dip section, because I have a bit more substance than that. However, even I have been known on occasion to indulge in popcorn or cotton candy and even I, on occasion drink a beer. But I don’t frequent those aisles often and if you caught me there it would be a chance meeting indeed. You might find me in the section with wild jalapeno peppers because I can be hot and spicy.  You’d find me in the International Foods section because I love the world, it’s peoples and hope to travel to meet them someday in their own countries, at their own tables, in their own settings. In short, you’d find me in any aisle with food that authentic food goes well with fine wine, friends, good music, good times and the making of cherished memories…that is…if my life were a supermarket.

Now, if your life were a supermarket, where would I find you???

Have fun with this!  I look forward to your comments.

Email? Viagra? Spam? Or What’s In Your Inbox These Days?

j0321185 I must have stumbled onto the wrong web site and posted a comment and left my email address because my inbox is filled with the most interesting and annoying subject lines these days.

I love it that I’ve not been on eHarmony for over a year and they still keep sending me mail saying that someone or another is interested.  I also get newsletters from them still.  The latest?  “Dating:  Why Age Is An Asset?” As if I really want to read the latest spin designed to make lonely old people like me feel like they really have a chance at this love thing so late in the game.  Okay, wait.  Maybe we do, but I’m not sure eHarmony’s the one to help me out with that.  Especially since, when I was paying them to set me up on dates, they kept matching me with people in places I couldn’t get to for a mid-week barbecue, let alone for a month long holiday.

Match.com is the same.  I took my profile down there and haven’t been active for nearly a year and I still get emails that say, “He’s interested in you!” or “Check your messages now before they are gone!” or “You’ve got mail!”  Big fat hairy deal.  The last few guys I met on there, while nice enough, turned out to be completely emotionally unavailable for one reason or another.

Those are the more normal subject lines in my emails.  Those and the ones from the college universities trying to tempt me to accumulate big debt in return for a piece of paper that allows me to put some letters behind my name in my email signature.  The bizarre ones are the ones that read like this:

Meet Wives For Affairs

or

Search for Cheating Wives

I am so not into that! 

The ones that crack me up are the ones that want me to try Viagra.  I am also, for obvious reasons, not into that.

I also have some fun stuff in my inbox too.

For example:

j0309694 Creative Ways to Make Pretty Cutout Cookies

Now there’s a new item to burn and mutilate with my penchant for culinary flair.

Crowd Pleasing Favorites: Holiday Casseroles

Yes, this I must look into but, again, you’ll be reading about the latest disaster here I’m sure.  I’ll try to remember to post pictures.

In all that stuff in my inbox today, I got this fun little thing from a new online acquaintance.  I don’t usually do these and post them on my blog, but I actually love answering questions like this.  The challenge is, of course, to answer them as truthfully as possible but as creatively as possible too.  I am not sure I met the creativity requirement but I had fun.

1. Have you ever thought it would be fun to jump on a train (as is slows down) and ride wherever it goes?

Only if the ride includes hot showers, meals and a roundtrip ticket with plenty of spending money on the journey.

2. Where would you like to go if you could go anywhere?

It used to be Australia.  I still want to go there, but that destination has been pushed down the list a bit.  I still want to go to somewhere in the south Pacific and stay in one of those over-the-water bungalows for, at least, two weeks.  I know that’s a honeymoon destination and since “honeymoon” isn’t happening to me anytime soon, if ever, then I’m probably just setting myself up for a whole host of feelings I don’t need to feel.  Even so, I still want to go, and I want to spend the time snorkeling, sunbathing, swimming, drinking, writing, and taking pictures…not necessarily in that order.

3. Have you ever thought of being a gypsy?

No, this one didn’t make my top five career choices.  Probably because gypsies (at least according to the folklore) have to be good at three things: dancing, singing and stealing.  I can do none of these things well.

4. Can you smile in the direst of situations?

I can.  I can even crack a joke in the direst of situations.  That doesn’t always go over so well. 

5. Do you like animals (of the 4 legged variety)?

Yes, yes I do.  While I would be content to have no pets, I ended up with three.  I have a dog which in spite of her lack of training is the best dog ever.  I’ve tried to get rid of her.  I can’t do it.  JPEG Image (14588)I won’t do it.  I need her to accompany me on my walks at night.  I recently acquired two cool cats rather unexpectedly and I am finding that I love these felines.  They are kittens and they are hysterical.  And my poor dog, she’s so sweet.  She is curious about them, but not adversarial.  She doesn’t fuss when they camp on her doggie bed.  The cats sleep around.  Sometimes they’ll be in my bed, sometimes in one of the kids’ beds.  Sometimes on the floor in front of the fire.  I could write several posts just about the antics of these beloved animals of mine. 

6. Do you like your job?

As opposed to what?  Not liking it or being independently wealthy and never having to work a day in my life?  I’ll let you figure out which one I’d really prefer.  But yes, as a “job” (I don’t see it as that, though), it is one of the best possible for me.  In fact, it was in my top five career choices. I do love it. 

7. If you could do anything for a ‘job’, what would it be?

Well, if I had to do anything else, I’d pick J.K. Rowling’s or any published successful author’s lot in life.  Crack out a few good books, get movie deals on the bunch and set myself and my kids up for life.  Till that happens, I’m keeping my other job!  😀

8. What type of music do you listen to the most?

During school year, during the week, silence whenever possible because I have so much constant noise in my day.  During the weekends, its a fairly eclectic mix of genres.  Mostly adult alternative though, or instrumental jazz and classical.

9. What is your favorite color?

Mostly blue (but only sapphire or periwinkle or navy).  I’m not a blue-green or turquoise kind of girl.  I like reds in the wine, merlot, burgundy tones too.

10. Do you believe that things happen for a reason?

Yes.  I’m not a big believer in “chance”.  I do think that some things appear to be chance but upon further investigation or maybe after the fact, it becomes apparent that things worked together for a larger purpose. 

 

11. When are you most productive (Morning, Day, Night)?

I’m least productive right after lunch and in the afternoons.  I’m most productive in the mornings or from 8-10 at night.

 

12. What would you be doing if you had nothing else to do?

I never have nothing else to do and am incredibly good at amusing myself, keeping my mind occupied and myself busy, but ifP6230019 I were to ever get to this place, I’d probably work on some improvement around the house, write a story or read a book…not in that order, of course…or go soak in the hot tub for a few and contemplate the future of the universe.

 

 

13. Would you consider yourself a positive person?

Yes, I tend to be hopeful and not a complainer.  I do have my down moments, but they never last long.  I am definitely not a happy clappy good morning person though.

14. Have you ever been in a play or done any acting?

Yes, yes I have.  I usually play the crazy lady, the shrew or some comedic role.  This is something I’d like to pick back up when my children are older.  Community theatre calls.

 

15. Are you in awe of the world around you?

I am.  I just had a conversation P6230057with a friend today whose sister-in-law is battling leukemia.  She was telling me of the bone marrow transplant her sister-in-law will need and of the struggles she’s encountered.  It doesn’t take much to realize what amazing knowledge and technology we have at our disposal these days.  It doesn’t take much to be inspired by the incredible spirit and determination of a mother fighting for her life and remaining positive through it all.  It doesn’t take much to be incredibly grateful for your own good health and all the many other things you so often take for granted after hearing stories like this.

16. Do you like to go on road trips?

Oh yes!  They are very fun!  But I don’t like them when I haven’t enough money and the car breaks down in the middle of the Arizona desert.  Yeah, it happened to me.  It wasn’t fun.  I had another occurrence where a moving van broke down on me in the middle of a California desert somewhere.  That wasn’t fun either.  But…read my bucket list.  I someday want to rent an R.V. and travel the U.S. Serious road trip!

17, Would you consider yourself an outdoorsy person?

Only in the summer.  In the winter…I am outdoorsy but only if I have enough of the right kind of clothes to keep me warm and a reliable 4×4!

18. How many siblings do you have?

This number is undetermined because the actual data on how many of said siblings are currently disowning me is uncertain.  Just kidding.  I have five. Three brothers, two sisters. 

19. What is your favorite time of the year?

There are two favorite times of the year for me.  The first is that last day of the school year when I lock my doors for the last time and head home for summer break. This is a wonderful time of year knowing that the next morning and the next and the next I am more in control of my time and schedule and can come and go as I please day after day after day. It is the most wonderful feeling.

The other time of the year is autumn, early to mid-October, before Halloween.  This is the time of the year when the leaves are turning their brightest colors and the cold weather is threatening every morning and evening but is still a few weeks off.  I love this time of year. 

20. What time is it right now??

It is time for me to finish this post and head to bed.  10:14 p.m.  I do still have to work tomorrow and my cough seems to be returning and the body aches as well.  I need my rest.  I can’t afford the luxury and certainly don’t want to be sick again right before or during the holidays.

 

83607-YuleLog I’ve told you what is in my inbox that I find annoying, irritating or interesting.  I shared my response to a fun invitation to dialogue that ended up in my inbox.  I haven’t shared what I’d really like to find in my inbox. 

Here it is:

Because it is that time of year, and because temperatures in my area are creating no small amount of concern about freezing pipes and chilly atmospheres, I am thinking that what The Wild Mind needs is a nice, solid, long burning Yule Log for her fireplace.

What’s in your inbox these days?  What(Who) do you wish you’d find there?

Post Breakup Part ‘Em Depression and Booty Calls

886706_88791559 “Have you experienced The Insane Weekend yet?”  he asked.  He was a person I’d brushed digital shoulders with some time back, nearly two years now, on a social networking (not dating) site.  While he lives locally, sort of, we’ve never met. We chat online every now and then. this was one of those now-and-then times.  Over the last two years, I’d become his outlet to rant about his latest relationship that didn’t pan out.  Since he’s also an FB friend, he knew something of the demise of the romance between Oz and I. He was trying to be helpful and commiserate.  Seems he’d just broken up with someone he’d intended to marry.  His situation, like my own, began in a gradual downward spiral and ended up plummeting to a disastrous end.

“The Insane Weekend?”  I typed back.  We’ve also never talked on the phone, only IM’d sporadically. 

“Yeah, the weekend where you cry your eyes out, want to die, don’t want the end of the relationship to be reality but it is.  I wept for two days and even prayed on my knees to a God I don’t believe in that He would take this reality from me. You act insane and you feel you’re going out of your mind with pain. You know, the insane weekend.”

I sighed.  Yeah, I thought.  Since 20 of October I’ve had plenty of those. 

“Yeah, I’ve had a few of those, I think,” I messaged.

We went on to talk about the breakup and healing process.  The pain when you finally realize conclusively that the someone you’d painted into your present and your future is erasing themselves out.  Decisively.  Finally. 

The pain that comes in spite of the fact that you also had very real concerns about the other person and their “stick-ability”, especially after the recent events.

The sense of rejection you feel.  The sense of loss.  The very real experiences associated with the death of anything, anyone significant, important, cherished. 

The fear that comes with envisioning a future by yourself, when it only days ago appeared to be filled with incredibly fulfilling companionship, love and hope.

The realization and the sickening dread that your current loneliness may well be your lot in life.

All these feelings we IM’d about and shared. 

He related the pain and confusion of breakup sex and the back and forth situation he was still dealing with. 

I was grateful that option is not possible for me, especially not now, since, as suspected The Wizard magically disappeared in a way that is convenient to do when you are 12,000 miles away and can simply unfriend a person, delete a contact and refuse to answer any email.  At least I am not in the place where the breakup sex and the subsequent delay of the inevitable is possible. I’m realizing, as I usually do in situations like this, that things are working out, or they eventually will, for the better.  In the meantime I’ve learned a lot about myself.  Good to know. The Insane Weekends are over.  Moving on.

Eventually, the IMing evolved to texting, since I had to get off the computer.  Still battling a cold/flu and feeling very weak after my first week back to work I really could only take so much sitting up and squinting at the small computer print.

By this time our conversation had turned from dealing with what we regretted and had lost, to thinking about the present and the future.  We both recognize that though our pain now seems to overwhelm us at points, it is not a permanent thing.  We began bantering about his upcoming plans to spend some time eating sushi on his brother’s dime the next weekend.  The conversation was gradually tapering to an end.

125199_4068 In the midst of this, I received a booty call. Well, it really was a booty text.

“You still up?”  the text said.

“Yeah, just heading to bed.”  It was almost nine o’clock.

“I’m not one to beat around the bush,” the Booty Texter replied.  “Want company?”

I almost laughed out loud. 

“I think I just got a booty text”, I texted to my other friend.

“I am in my pj’s, look like bat guano and can’t breathe.  I won’t be great company,” I texted Booty Texter.  “Wait!”  I went on, “Was that a booty call and I just missed it?”

Booty Texter didn’t deny it and he wasn’t giving up that easily.  He went on to mention that he was was also in his p.j.’s and could just slip on his slippers and come over.  He then mentioned his CPR skills. 

Really?!  Are you kidding me?!  What part of any of this is supposed to make me feel special, desirable and like he’s really into me? (None of it, that’s my point!) This also from a guy in earlier exchanges who said “he really liked me, but didn’t know about getting involved with someone with kids”.  Yeah, he should have just said, “Let’s be f*** buddies”, after all, he wasn’t “one to beat around the bush”.   As far as Booty Texter is concerned all I can say is, “Good to know his real intentions now rather than later”.  He’s clearly into no one but himself.  Good to know.

This booty call strategy must work for guys because they try it.  Apparently they’re getting rewarded for it enough to make it worth the effort.  Seems like a completely degrading place to go for a few seconds of gratification…if you could call it that.

The guy had to be totally desperate to want to get it on with an ill, snot oozing, barely breathing babe like me.  Add to this that I’d already470334_41429338 refused to go out with him once that evening when he invited me “over to his place for dinner”.  Right.  He was hard up enough to take rejection twice from the same person?  And don’t even tell me any of that is because “maybe he really likes you”.  Excuse me while the tears from my recent breakup turn into gales of hilarious laughter. 

This is my future?  I wondered. Wasting time with freaks like this to find out what?  They hope to get something for nothing? 

“Yep” I texted to my first friend.  “It’s a booty call and he’s not giving up easily.”

I texted a firm no to Booty Texter and he, like all the others before him, who’ve tried the same futile tact, ended the conversation in a huff but not before he’d put in his last “you’re really missing out” digs.

I’m pretty sure I’ll never hear from him again. 

I’m pretty sure I don’t care.

I let my friend know that the booty text episode had ended and shortly after that we concluded our own lighthearted and delightfully non-sexual banter and said our own good-byes, encouraging each other to keep our proverbial relational chins up.

It is times like these, that I am grateful, for the humor of life.  It is these times tlolhat make me wonder what I was so worried about a future alone for?  It is times like these that sitting at home alone by the fire with my one guard dog and two cats is really all I want or need.  No demands.  No pressure.  No pain.  Just lots of good old fashioned contentment mixed in with a bit of joy because I know I’m going to be okay, come what may. It is also at these times, interestingly enough, that my own internal focus and vision for my future become much clearer and more defined.

I’m done with The Insane Weekends. I’m done with online dating. I’m actually even feeling like I might be done with being sick. That’s the best part. 

I might even be done with “dating” per se for a while.  I just am really tired of the games, the dance, the eventual disappointment.  Not that there would always be a disappointment, but quite honestly, more and more I’m becoming convinced that if I just go about my life…if there even is someone out there for me…then he’ll appear when the time is right.  It will be more authentic and less artificial and staged.  I’m not saying I won’t ever date, but I’m not going to worry about filling my weekend social calendar either.  It somehow seems to do that anyway without much effort on my part. 

In the meantime, I have better things to do with my emotional energy than waste my sorrows on those who clearly are uninterested and unworthy.  I have far better things to with my time than sort through Booty Call Boys and Disappearing Acts in the hopes of finding Prince Charming. 

After all, in every scenario, Prince Charming went seeking Cinderella, not the other way around. 

Cinderella mourned the loss of her shoe but went on dusting in her rags till the dude showed up. And if he hadn’t shown up, something else interesting and magnificent would have happened to Cinderella. I’m certain of it. 

I have far more interesting things to do than read fake profiles, go out for coffee only to find it’s a no, go back to the drawing board again, and so on. 

Besides, it is far more likely I’m probably going to  bump into him at one of those classes I’ll be taking at The Home Depot on how to install sprinkler systems, lay tile, concrete walkways, or prune my trees because that is where I’m going to be spending my time anyway. 

KH_PG_LftHeader

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?