Facebook, High School Reunions, Birthdays and Aging

Note or disclaimer or preface or something:  I wrote this article, several months ago, long before the class reunion occurred.  I was going to post it, in advance of the reunion, but I hesitated, intending to go back and edit and re-work it. Call me chicken. Now that I’ve actually attended my class reunion, reacquainted myself with people I’d lost contact with, and heard some of their feelings about our 30-year reunion, I’m posting this, even though it is after the fact.  I looked forward to this reunion with hopeful anticipation, but also with a great deal of dread and anxiety.  I now know I wasn’t entirely alone in that experience.

I do know this for certain, after having attended the reunion:  We are no longer in high school anymore.  I also know my classmates and I have grown and matured into respectful, decent, thoughtful people.  Because of that, I know that my thoughts here will be treated respectfully and sensitively.  It is in celebration of all our successes over the last 30 years that I offer this series of posts as a humble treatise of gratitude for the part each of you have played in making me the person I am today.  Thank you.

malheur_butte My 30-year-high school reunion takes place this summer in a small dusty town in eastern Oregon.  Though there is likely more pavement there now than when I packed my bags and hustled out of there without looking back, the place is still rather small and somewhat dusty in comparison to the lush green venues of Western Oregon and other areas in the Pacific Northwest.  This is not to criticize the place where I spent most of my childhood.  The high desert definitely has a solitary rugged beauty all its own. It is just that I am a mountains, rivers, oceans and trees kind of girl.  I’ll take forest over sagebrush, and beaches over buttes, any day of the week.  Though, admittedly, wild antelope effortlessly bounding across the Oregon outback is certainly a breathtaking sight.  Even so, unable to fully appreciate it at the time that I lived there, I did make haste to get out of that part of Oregon as soon as I could do so and, as I mentioned before, I never looked back.  I subsequently lost all contact with friends and classmates from my high school years. Continue reading

Women, Ladies Night, Sex on The Beach, and No Laundry, Please!

j0399866 What kind of person are you?  Do you have a high need to be with other people all the time, with noise, conversation and sound bouncing off walls and filling your home?  Or are you the kind of person who can turn it all off and exist happily with no other person around and absolutely no noise other than the sounds of the silence enveloping your abode? I love crowds, the hustle and bustle of the city, the cozy cramped feeling of a trendy little joint packed with bodies listening to the cool reggae tunes of a live band passing through the area.  I am at home in a crowded realm.  I am also just as content to be solitary and silent.  I can move through both worlds with ease, but I have to admit, I like my solitude.

Solitude or Isolation?

j0442993 I don’t mind my own company and there are times when because I’ve just done so much wish granting for other people that when the weekend rolls around I don’t mind being alone and simply being. I do have the tendency, at times, to retreat from the world in an escapist fashion.  I can tend to isolate myself if I’m not careful. 

I was planning on that last night. It was going to be a quiet evening of introspective contemplation as I worked out and reassessed my focus and direction in life.  You guessed it, I didn’t have a date. 

At the last minute, as these things tend to happen, a good friend of mind came into my office at the end of the day and asked if I was going to go to the get together after work.

I sighed.  Memories of the last time I got together with my party friends swam before my eyes.  There was a vision of something vaguely reminiscent of broken drinking glasses and a missed chair or was it the floor ended up being where the chair should have been? I couldn’t remember.  Well, I could, but I didn’t want to.

“You know I think I’m probably just going to go home.”  Another memory like the ones I already couldn’t remember, memories of crazy, pain laced celebrations in the days and months following my divorce’s finality was not something I wanted to add to my thought processes.

My friend, sensing I wasn’t exactly on my game somewhere, came in sat down on a nearby stool and we chatted for a few.  We shared. We caught up.  It’s been months since we got together and pondered the deep questions of life and single parenting and dating.  In fact, the last time we did that, I distinctly remember dropping my cell phone in the hot tub. Yet another interesting memory and one we laugh about now.

A Single Mom’s Loneliness

j0440327 She’s feeling much of what I’m feeling these days it turns out.  Her single mommy life is taxing her in many of the same ways mine is.  We both love our freedom and our independence and all the many conveniences that come with being in the driver’s seat of our lives.  Yet we both are missing the connection that comes when you have another very special person in your life to plan with, to dream with, to consult with, to disagree with, to make up with, to make out with, and to wake up to in the morning. 

While I am often alone, I am not usually lonely, but I was in one of those very rare places where I was actually feeling alone and lonely.  My friend sensed this and as she tends to do, she was right there for me. We ended up deciding to hang out together last night.  It was a decision I’m glad we made.

I think it is easy for women to become disconnected sometimes, especially if we are single moms.  We spend so much of our time making sure that the needs of those we love and who depend upon us are met that we forget about our own needs.  Maybe it isn’t so much that we forget, as it is that, by the time we get around to being able to think about ourselves, we are simply exhausted and ready to collapse.  We end up putting ourselves on the bottom of the priority pile.  We end up too exhausted to want to make the effort to connect with the other women in our lives.  For me, that includes the other single moms I know in my face-to-face world who have walked with me down the single parent road these last few years. 

Women Friends

There is also something about being with another woman instead of a man on occasion.  Now, don’t hear me say that I prefer this over company with men all the time. Both types of company are valuable, but they sometimes meet very different needs.  At times, the company of a good same sex friend (because I’m sure men feel this way too on some levels) just can’t be beat.  I don’t have to do the work of getting to know someone, because all that history and relationship has already been established. It’s comfortable.  We know and accept each other.  It is enough just to be together.  It is also very nice sometimes to have another female perspective confirming for me in so many ways, that I’m not crazy, that I am just a busy single mom and that we are all feeling this way, which is most of the time stressed or tired.  Especially of laundry.

j0441034 It doesn’t happen often that we can all get babysitters or be child-free on the same evening and also have money to pay for our cover charges and drinks but last night the stars aligned and we were able to make it happen.  It started out with just my friend and I, and we added one of our new colleagues to the mix.  The laughter, the conversations, the self-revelations and the discussions that ran from the serious and intellectual (okay, sort of serious and intellectual) to quite tawdry, decisions to have Sex on the Beach but no Slow Comfortable Screw, while wondering who in the bar was there with who else, these things made up our night like a montage in a movie. From the comments about the cute guy in the hat dancing by himself in the middle of the crowded dance floor, to whether the guy in the suit was single or not, to refusing to pick up two guys who tried to convince us to let them in the car with us, to the older retired teacher guy who regaled me with stories while I waited for the others to complete their powder room break, it was simply something we all, for our own reasons, needed to do.  We just needed to put our concerns and stress away for a few hours, to forget we were single moms, to forget that we cared about that.  We needed a Ladies Night Out. We needed to just have fun.  

We most certainly did that!

Not a glass was broken.

Not a chair was missed.

Not a cell phone fell into anything liquid.

And not one of us thought once about the laundry.

…but I am wondering where I left my shirt.

Kicking Off The Holiday Season

j0422837 I have a friend who firmly believes that Halloween is the holiday that officially kicks off “The Holiday Season”.  Being a person who really knows how to entertain and, yes, even cook very fine meals, she is all about celebrating.  And she is good at it.  Whether you agree with my friend or not, by the time Thanksgiving rolls around, followed immediately by the day now known as “Black Friday”  (only in America and when did that happen anyway?), it is clear The Holiday Season is well underway. 

The Problem

In years past, I was all about Christmas and decorating and making everything festive and, like my friend, I enjoyed celebrating in the company of family and friends.  But somewhere along the line things went horribly wrong and suddenly, The Holidays, have lost their appeal to me.  Or maybe I’ve just become very, very confused about does and does not matter when creating those memorable holiday moments.

Okay, things didn’t really go “horribly wrong”, at least, not all in one big life changing moment.  It was more like a gradual decline and I think I did it to myself.  Too much pressure, expectations for myself and those of others (mostly in-laws), the demands of being a new mom, starting a new demanding career at the same time (oh, yes, I do wish I’d played Solitudethat card differently), and the gradual erosion and decline of a marriage.  Along the way, The Holidays lost their charm.  They became something to be endured; a source of pain, frustration and immense exhaustion.

After the second divorce, I tried the best I could to make Christmas memorable for my children.  This wasn’t easy, since I was now in the place so many people find themselves in after divorce:  broke…if not bankrupt. I was definitely the former, scrambling to avoid the latter.  Looking back, I don’t even know how I survived that first Christmas because child support hadn’t even kicked in.  The second Christmas was also pulled off with meager finances and the third Christmas, last year, was the first Christmas my children spent away from me.  That was tough! 

  Yes, I am fully aware that in spite of the pretty lights, the happy smiles on people’s faces, the advertisements that boast loving couples, happy families, and joyous, grateful children with lavishly decorated homes where trees are standing amidst a treasure trove of gifts, the cost of which might easily feed a small third world nation somewhere for a year, The Holiday Season for many, is a season of pain, regret, disappointment, sadness and deep loneliness. Many of us, especially those of us who are Singles in a World of Couples dread the advent of the holidays because it means we will be attending yet another office party alone, waking up Christmas morning alone while the kids wake up and open presents elsewhere, eating alone with no one to greet us in the morning or drink a toast with us in the evening.  That awareness can gnaw at us and deprive us of joy, energy, and contentment.

A Solution:

Now, if I let it, that could depress me.  I could spend my time regretting the misused past.  I could spend my time fretting that I am now unable to provide my children with what I’d always wanted and hoped to be able to provide them materially. I could feel badly that I don’t have significant other to share the joys and sorrows (or my hot tub!) with.  I could get weepy that things are not exactly what I wanted or how I planned or imagined.  I could despair that things are not better than they are.  Sometimes I do.  Not for long.  Maybe only about two hours a month…if that.

Solution:  I don’t let it.  I’ve learned to enjoy what I have and be grateful that I have it.  I’ve also learned that things can always be worse.  After all, as one friend recently said to me, “You have a roof over your head, a good job, you are paying your bills haven’t had to foreclose on your home or file bankruptcy, you and your kids are healthy and you have food on the table.  It could be so much worse, so chin up!”

I’ve learned over the last three years to think differently about many things.  I now think differently about my holidays.  I think very differently about the holidays on those years when my kids will be away for Christmas Day.  I’m not so hesitant anymore to ask out that guy friend to my office Christmas Party.  I just make sure it is someone who understands that this is not a Friends With Benefits situation or that I have any illusions about us as a couple.j0444098  I’ve given myself permission to be single and to enjoy it.  I’ve given myself permission to take full advantage of the times when the kids are away.  I’ve met enough people and have plenty of friends that if I want a date to an event I can have one.  If I’m sitting home alone on a weekend night it is because I have chosen it, not because I have no other choice.  I’ve learned to be at peace with myself.

I no longer feel that I’m missing life if I stay home…alone…curled up on my couch in my lounge pants and t-shirt…in front of the fire.  Would it be fun to be using my couch differently?  Of course, but I’m not desperately hoping that will happen or thinking that it must happen in order for me to feel validated and alive.

Mostly, I’ve learned that the off times, those times when the kids are away at their other homes is a great time for me to work on the many home improvement tasks I have lined up.  I don’t have to worry about kids wanting to help with the painting or spreading the mess throughout the house. I don’t have to stop mid project to fix a meal and clean it up.  It’s also a wonderful opportunity to catch up with some j0438433of my adult friends that I have a more difficult time connecting with when the kids are around. It’s a great opportunity to get caught up on laundry and if all else fails…

…it is a wonderful time to try to learn to cook a new dish! 

Yeah, like that’ll happen anytime soon!

I do have questions though for those of you out there who, like me, have a shared custody or a parenting plan that means your children will be away from you some or all of the holiday season. 

How do you handle the holiday season when you don’t have your children with you to celebrate?

How has divorce changed how you celebrate the holidays?

 

 

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?

Grocery Store Get Togethers

Grocery cartFunny things happen in grocery stores.  One time I was checking out and bagging my groceries. Right behind me was a guy that had contacted me on that Online Dating Site that I am on-again-off-again about. He contacted me, didn’t interest me, I responded politely, but not encouragingly. Plus, he kept asking me, “Having any luck on here?”  Seriously?  That’s not his business.  So, it was weird to meet him in the grocery store.  He recognized me, mentioned our brief correspondence and well, I got out of the store fast that trip.

This last week, I had another interesting encounter in the grocery store.  I ran into a friend I knew while I was married to Ex #2.  In fact, we were kind of in a disastrous marriage support group thing together.  She happens to work in this store, but since she works days and I usually shop late afternoons or early evenings we never see each other. During the time that I knew her, she was just starting this relationship that, well, didn’t look that promising to me.  I mean, it seemed the guy ran hot and cold on her.  It also seemed he left her with the lion’s share of doing the work of “relating”.  I remember thinking that I hoped it worked out for her, since she was really into this guy, but also thinking that I was very skeptical that it would.

My friend, didn’t recognize me at first.  Seriously.  She had to do that double take thing, then the triple take.  “Wow!” she exclaimed, “You look great!  How are you?!” ( I love it when that happens and it is happening a lot lately! LOL!)  We did the girl hug thing that women do when they meet and haven’t seen each other for a long time.  We spent a few minutes getting caught up.  In fact, she ended up going through the checkout line with me.  I told her that Ex #2 and I were divorced.  She told me she thought that was a great decision, obviously, since I look so good now (her words).  I asked her about the relationship she was starting way back when we were hanging out in that disastrous marriage group thing. Sure enough, three years later, she’s telling me how he proposed, then got cold feet and backed out.  She finally ended it with him.  I mean, seriously, she hung out with that hot and cold behavior for three whole years? 

Women, why do we do this????

I found myself wanting to tell her, “Girlfriend, you made a great choice!  He never was that into you!”  Instead, I kept my mouth shut, encouraged her and listened and wondered why we women are so willing to “put up with” and “make excuses for” men who really just aren’t into us. 

Men don’t lie.  They tell us exactly what they think, in one way or another. If they don’t call, it isn’t because they are busy or “couldn’t”.  It is because they don’t want to.  We just aren’t important enough for them to carve out a few minutes to connect.  A guy that really wants to be with a woman, doesn’t let her phone grow cold.

In the same way, when a guy runs hot and then cold, he’s not really committed or all that interested.  Most guys know instantly if they want to pursue relationship with a particular woman or not.  They are all hot about her, no cold, it’s just that simple.  He wants to call her, be with her, do stuff for her and give her things, even if those things are only small tokens of care and even if he’s working within a budget.  And, hear me, peeps.  It isn’t the gift at all here that is important, it is the behavior.

I was talking with another friend last night, and we were discussing relationship and single life and guys and she said, “I think being alone sucks and I hate dating, but it is a whole lot better than being in a bad relationship with the wrong person.”

I’d have to say I agree. 

Seriously. There are lots of really nice, handsome, terrific men out there. Contrary to popular belief.  If he’s not crazy about you (and you are worth being completely crazy about!) then don’t waste another minute or amount of emotional energy.  Okay, I give you permission to have 15 minutes of disappointment, but that’s all.  Face it, if he’s not calling, wants to be with the guys more than you, seems to have a whole lot of other priorities higher on the list than you then, well, he’s not crazy about you and you deserve better. Be a realist. Face the facts.  Move on. 

You’ll be glad you did.  I hate to say it, but he probably will be too.

Texts From The Morning After—The Saturday Morning Live Edition

Text conversation this morning from a friend who recently got stillettoed by the latest love of his life and spent last night drinking to get her off his mind:

Him:  Drinking Stillettos off my mind worked last night. I went 0-4 picking up on women.  Seems everyone has a b/f or two.  But the headache is great.  Did you find $20 in your underwear this morning?  I did.

Me: Really?  Wow!  You must have been firefighting last night.  Whose fire I wonder?

Him:  I don’t know. And no strangers in my bed this morning.  Can’t find my keys.  Can’t find my work badge.

Me:  Geez!  Do you still have your truck and hoses?

Him:  Let me check.

Him:  Dammit.  The truck is gone!

Me:  Holy Shit!  There is a great big massive RED truck parked out front of my house.  You should see the hoses on this thing!

Him:  That truck gets around.

Me:  Yeah, it looks pretty broke in.

Him:  Hey!  The truck gets polished up. 😉

Me:  Polished, yeah, but these hoses are in sad shape! Ooops!  The horn works.

Him: Those hoses will get the job done.  Don’t you worry girl.

Me:  Hmmm, no firemen on board, so it’s not looking good.

Him:  They don’t know where the truck is either.

Me:  That’s too bad.  I’m such a morning person too.  Dammit!

Hmmm, seems someone has a fire truck fixation going.  Ah, well, might be better than that chicken issue a while back.

Match Games

I’ve admitted before that I used to be an online dating junkie of sorts.  I was.  Note the use of the past tense here.  Shortly before my divorce was final and for some months after it was final, I decided, out of boredom and curiosity, to find out if dating in 40+ World was as dismal as I’d always thoguht it would be and as horrifying as I heard it was. 

It was both as bad as I thought and the horror stories were real.  I did meet many of what I call NGBs (Nice Guys, But….).  I met many men who were real jerks and after about a year of this exhausting, disappointing and discouraging routine, I gave it up.  That was sometime last summer.  I took my profiles down and cancelled all memberships and took the summer off.

Sometime around August, near the end of August, I decided to put my profile up on a free site, just out of curiosity.  I also put my profile up and paid for one month at my favorite paid dating site (NOT eHarmony –villains!).  I do not know why I did this.  It was just as I was heading back to school for the fall and the worst possible time for me to even think about dating.  Well, I got enough interest from decent people this time around to last me for six more months of something to do besides be alone on the weekends when my kids are at their dads.  During this time I actually had two almost relationships, meaning they started out great and almost took off, but didn’t.   I recently took my profiles down off all sites after The Beau mentioned he wanted to date exclusively.  I was okay with this anyway since I was pretty much tired of the whole  Online Meetup thing anyway.   Now that The Beau made his grand exit, I am not going to go restore my profiles.  At least, I didn’t think I would.

Friday, night, my daughter and I spent the night together.  She had taken a few minutes and was playing with her toys in her room and I was checking out my blog stats and emails  from all three of my admiring fans.  My phone buzzed.  I noted a text from my friend and colleague, a 36 y.o. single mother of two. 

“I just checked my Yahoo account and the father of one of my students is one of my matches,” the text read.

“Cool!” I texted back.  It took me hours to get that much texted. Before I could hit send she pinged me back with “He’s really hot and very nice too.  His son was in my class last year too.” 

“Really, cool.  Here’s one you should check out on Match.”  I told her and gave her the username of someone I knew who I think is totally hot.  Sadly, he lives too far away.  She looked him up and texted me back, “LOL!! He’s got 4 children! Shouldn’t already be out?” 

“Nope.  The kids are the easy part,” I clumsily texted back.  Before I could hit “send” on that message, she was texting me back with “The parent is on Match.  Look up his user.”  She gave me his user and School Dad was indeed cute.  I suggested she get our mutual friend who happens to be this guy’s neighbor to introduce us. 

“LMAO!  Threesome, nice!” she responded. Then she texted me back saying “Oh my you have to go look up ______________!”  and she gave me another user to look up. 

“Why?”  I texted back.

“Because he’s HOT!” she texted me. 

Now, I really did not want to go on Match and begin looking.  I’d only gone there to look at the one profile a friend of mine had asked me to check out for him as he began his dating adventures.  He’s hot!  If he doesn’t get great dates with lots of pretty 30-something’s there is just something wrong with female America.  But still, I was a bit of a junkie and curiosity got the best of me. 

It was at this point I texted her back saying, ” Okay, I’ll play.  But we have to both agree to blog about the experience afterward.”

“Deal” came the lightning fast response.  I pulled up the user name of the guy she gave me and there was a man in his mid 50’s with a mowhawk and tattoos head to toe.  He looked a bit like Ray Bradbury’s Illustrated Man.  I choked on my wine as his profile loaded.  Surprisingly, the man was very well written and apparently had two degrees in Art and History. 

“Well, the Mohawk guy at least had the sense enough to get someone to write his profile for him,”  I quipped.  I did a quick search for men ages 39-49 in our area.  Sixteen measly pages loaded.  I texted her about it.  “I bet I’ve dated them all too,”  I added. Scrolling quickly through them I noted that I had indeed either dated most of the men or decided against dating them.  I then sent her the name of someone whose picture seriously looked like George Clooney, Jr.  and whose highest age for a match was 42, effectively cancelling me out. 

“He’s way HOT!”  she texted me.  Then she sent me the name of another candidate, once again far too young for me but just right for her.  We went at it like this for about ten minutes with her getting off ten texts to my feeble one.  Then I got a swift idea.  “Hey!”  I texted.  “Give me a random Portland zip code”.  She did.  I searched within 75 miles of the zip code using the same ages I’d used for my local area.  32+ pages loaded.  I groaned.   I texted her my results. 

“LMAO!”  came the reply.

“LMAO?  It’s not funny!  I’m living in the freaking wrong part of the state!”

“ROFLMAO!”  was all she texted back.

I scrolled through about 4 pages of wonderfully available and attractive, professional, well-written, educated, well-adjusted, non-redneck men, just my age and finally just gave up.  It was torture.

A few minutes later, my fun search texting whatever banter with my friend ended as she had to deal with her kids and I, now completely depressed about the likelihood of romance ever striking in my podunk neck of the woods, had to go have fun with my own daughter.

The next morning I got up and, as though possessed by demons, I created a profile on Match, but did not subscribe.  Why did I do this?  Stupid, foolish, woman that I am!

This morning, I checked my email and in less than 24 hours I have 40 views, 7 messages and some number of winks.  I logged on to Match and, of course, since I am not a subscriber I cannot see who emailed me but I can view the profiles of those who simply winked.  I now really like it when men wink!  Match has a design flaw here.  They should let you at least see who messaged you, but not see what they said.  It might make us desperate sorts feel even more desperate and then we’ll part with our hard earned cash and subscribe. 

Not me though.  I’d have to wait till payday anyway and judging from the winks I got, there’s just nothing new in my hometown.   I really am so living in the wrong place right now at least where romance is concerned.  Doesn’t anybody out there listen to something besides the Jugg Sisters and the Stetson Brothers?  Oh, and you’ll love this.  Turns out Mohawk Man, you know, the Illustrated Man, is one of the ones who winked at me.  Wait till my friend gets wind of that!!!!!

More From The Friendship Files: Another Near Death Experience

I missed half a day at work yesterday.  Not true.  I missed half a day in my classroom because I was pulled out for a regional training.  It was a Very Good Regional Training and I am so much the better teacher and employee now for it. I actually ended up working two and a half extra hours without compensation,  just for the privilege of saying I received this Very Good Regional Training. However, it would have to happen on the day that my assistant and friend, previously referred to as “ReGifting Friend” experienced another near death experience.  It was rather exciting, she actually did almost die and they called the paramedics and everything.  Tons of cool drama.  Sorry I missed it.  I experienced nothing quite so exciting or adrenaline boosting as that in my Very Good Regional Training. 

When I returned to work today, there was ReGifting Friend, cute and skinny as ever.  Her near death experience certainly didn’t add any stress pounds to her body.  She told me the story and, like most of her stories, it is definitely worth retelling here.

At lunch, it seems ReGifting Friend was eating her very healthy low cal (that’s why she’s skinny) salad with cherry tomatoes on it.  In one particular bit, seems a fiesty tomato got a bit excited and decided to jump down her throat. Well, being the obstinate tomato that it was, it lodged right there in her throat.  It wouldn’t move up, it wouldn’t move down. 

ReGifting Friend definitely exhibited all the signs of a choking individual, the most notable being she could not talk and she was turning blue.  Two others in the staff room with her tried the Heimlich maneuver on her.  They were not successful.  Well, as we all know the human body cannot function well for very long without air and ReGifting Friend had exceeded that point.  She was quite aware that if something didn’t happen in just seconds she would be blacking out and in serious trouble. 

In those few brief seconds before she passed out, ReGifting Friend remembers thinking, “Oh My God.  I’m going to die right here at the school my children attend the very week of my daughter’s birthday.”

Dying.

At a place your children have to revisit daily. 

During week for your family that is usually celebratory and not sad.

ReGifting Friend’s last thoughts before she went unconscious were not of her own well being or even fear of dying.  It was for her kids and how they would be impacted, not just temporarily but in weeks, days and years to come.  This is the friend I’ve come to call ReGifting Friend.  Like the Energizer Bunny she does keep giving and giving… and going and going.

The fiesty tomato was downed with one final thrust just below the sternum.  ReGifting Friend’s airways were clear and she was still, though only barely, conscious.  A few minutes later she was fine and laughing about the mishap but later weeping about the impact of what she thought may have been her final moments. 

She goes on to tell humorously of the 5 buff paramedics who walked in and would not leave until they checked her out completely.  (Yeah, uh huh.  I only wish I’d been there to see that! I do miss all the fun!)

Later that day, my youngest who had to go home with ReGifting Friend for the afternoon while I was at that Very Good Regional Training bounced up to her and said, “Hey!  Did you hear?  Somebody almost died at school today!  The paramedics were here.”  ReGifting Friend just laughed. 

More than 24 hours later when she told me the story, ReGifting Friend’s eyes welled up with tears again as she remembered those thoughts of dying before the tomato was dislodged.

And I ask you…what would you want your last thoughts in this life to be?

First Dates and Moonlight–More From The Friendship Files

I finally wheedled the story about Mexico Friend’s First Date with her Husband out of her.  Here it is:

Mexico Friend and her husband had quite the chemistry in the early years of their relationship.  Of course, Husband was irreversibly smitten the minute he saw her.  (We are all irreversibly smitten the minute we see her.  She really is an attractive woman. And she’s really nice.  In fact, she’s in the Makes Me Sick category.  I had to video tape her this week and as I was reviewing the tapes I was reminded just how much she Makes Me Sick.  The rule about the camera adding 10 pounds did not apply to her!  On the other hand the rule about the camera adding 10 pounds tripled with me. How fair is that?  See?  Makes Me Sick. But, I’m doing the ADD thing again.)

Husband knew what he wanted the minute he saw Mexico Friend.  He never let her phone grow cold and it wasn’t long after they met that they were on their first date.  It was a cold winter’s eve with snow on the ground.  The two of them went out for a nice dinner.  Great food, good wine, wonderful time together with chemistry catching the place on fire between them. 

After dinner, they decided to go for a drive in the snow.  Somewhere out in the country they pulled off on a lonely little unpaved side road.  In fact, it was probably more like a path.  There they were, alone, secluded, nature’s beauty all around and their young 20-something hormone’s raging, fed pretty well by the wine and the chemistry.  They decided to get to know each other even better.

Before long, they were in horizontal hold and things had heated up making it impossible to see out the windows of the vehicle.  That didn’t matter, because the sights they both wanted to explore were inside the vehicle. They were both thoroughly enjoying this Getting To Know All About You Game and they were just really getting in touch when  Mexico Friend opened her eyes for just a moment then opened them again. “There’s something shining in the window,” she commented. 

“It’s probably just the moonlight shining in,” her date responded in muffled short amorous breaths. Clearly, he wasn’t interested in anything but continuing the Getting to Know You game.

Mexico Friend glanced at the extremely fogged up window again, “I think that’ s either a really large moon or it is very, very close.” Relunctantly, Mexico Friend’s Husband slowed himself down and looked up.  He wiped off the window and jumped in shock.  There staring back at him was the face of a woman in her 50’s.  Apparently neither of them heard the woman drive up, turn off her headlights, get out of her car and tromp through the snow to the side of the vehicle where she stood staring in at them in their mostly nude state enjoying each other. How long she’d been there neither of them dared guess, but they knew what she’d seen was definitely the rated R version.

They scrambled to pull on their clothes as quickly as they could, and after dealing briefly with the strange woman who claimed this deserted path led to her house, they got out of there fast.  

As I listened to Mexico Friend retell this story, I noted that she broke one of the cardinal dating rules which is No Sex On The First Date.  When I questioned her about this she said, “Yeah, we did.  Two weeks later we moved in and six months later we were married and we’ve been going like that ever since.  We’re still like that today after 15 years of marriage and two children.” 

As I sat briefly pondering these words, she continued, “When you know, you know.  There’s just no question.” 

In looking at these two, I have to give them a spot on my Happily Ever After List.  These two have fun, humor, friendship and chemistry and they’ve kept it alive through the stresses of having children, job changes, job losses and tight finances and home remodeling projects.  In spite of it all, they are as in love as they’ve ever been.  I love these two because they provide for me a real life model of  many aspects of the kind of relationship I want.  These two have been able to weather life’s marital and financial storms for a decade and a half.  They’re doing more than just staying married, they really enjoy each other and they nurture their relationship by doing the fun stuff and staying in touch with each other as often as possible.

Sanity, Syndromes, Phenomenons…Conclusions

I’ve gone on and on, ad nauseum, about what I call “The Going Silent” phenomenon.  Just as a refresher, I do not consider it going silent when you’ve emailed a couple of times, maybe met once, or had a phone call or two and then silence.  I call that phenomenon, The Never Getting The Thing Off The Ground Phenomenon.  The Going Silent Phenomenon is the thing that occurs after a relationship is airborn and some emotional intimacy, probably even some physical intimacy has developed and suddenly one or the other of the two people draw way, way back or they disappear altogether.  I still believe and will always believe that The Going Silent Phenomenon is simply cowardice.  Somebody got in too far and couldn’t get out courageously or without looking like a complete shit,  so they just disappeared. 

 There is a less severe form of this same phenomenon in existence though.  It’s called the You’re-The-Best-Thing-I’ve-Got-Going-Right-Now-But-If- Something-Better-Comes-Along-I’m-Outta-Here Syndrome .  Another equally disconcerting malaise is the “I’m Just Not Sure How I Feel About You” quandary.  In each unappealing dating situation one partner is more vested than the other and is unable to see clearly the writing on the wall of the relational dynamics.  I’ve been there.  I know deep down when I’m dealing with just such a situation.  I’ve never been inaccurate when I suspected one of these situations existed.  I just didn’t always like being honest with myself about it.  Now, I know that both these situations occur with men and women, but since I’m female I want to address this situation from the perspective of the female being more vested than the male or when the guy goes silent or keeps her at arm’s distance. Again, I recognize it happens both ways, but for the ease of me sorting things out for me, I am going to address it from my particular point of view.

Here are some conclusions that I’ve arrived at after recent  life events, dating experiences and being the victim (and, yes, sometimes the perpetrator)  of several of these Phenomenons and Syndromes.

Conclusion 1:  I do ultimately hope to be part of a rewarding, enriching, fulfilling and vital intimate relationship with someone of the opposite sex in spite of my quickly advancing years on this earth.  (Okay, the aging thing was said tongue in cheek).

Conclusion 2: If this does not happen for me, I will, feel like I’ve missed out on one of life’s greatest joys and adventures.

Conclusion 3:  If this does not happen for me, I will still have a great, fulfilling, rewarding and exciting life because I will still have many of the adventures I hope to have and meet many of the people I still haven’t met yet that I will ultimately come to know and love as dear friends, colleagues, children-in-law, and grandchildren. 

Conclusion 4:  I’m not going to waste time in situations when I know they are not moving  me closer to my relational goals.  In other words, I’m no longer willing to just pass time in an okay relationship when I know it isn’t going to be the relationship.  I didn’t really do this before, but I’m writing it here to remind myself to stay on that track and never veer from it.

Conclusion 5:  He’s just absolutely got to be crazy about me and I need to know it.  I’m not going to spend a lot of time or energy on the “I’m Not Sure” thing or the “Stay Out Here At Arm’s Distance” thing.

Conclusion 6: Going Silent or Cutting The Engines when the relational jet is airborne is a non-negotiable dealbreaker for me.

Conclusion 7:  I can’t even believe I have to say this,  but I’ve modified my stance on “They’re okay to date if the divorce is filed but not yet final”.  I’ve concluded, after more hard knocks and disappointments in this area than I care to admit, that I won’t date anyone who doesn’t have a signed judgement.  It’s just the emotional equivalent of treading water incessantly.  Too exhausting for me and I have nothing left over for the people in my life who really are available and who do desire my companionship and friendship and love.

So, what brought all that on?  Well, nothing really.  Things are pretty up for me now and life is busy, hectic, demanding like it usually is.  Things are really looking better and better for me here in post-divorce world.  I know I’m not going under and while life isn’t perfect, it continues to improve daily for me.  I’m happy and content.  Sometimes I feel down and blue and miserable and tired, but that doesn’t mean life still isn’t very, very good.  It’s just that I’ve been kind of rolling this stuff over and over in my mind for the last year and thought I’d put it out there more as a means of clarifying my own position to myself.  (Things tend to get muddy and murky in the heat of the battle otherwise.)

There are times, though, when some distantly related thought comes blistering into your conscious because of some benign comment or statement someone makes and instantaneously the unrelated connects you to something else and something else again and the entire thing (whatever that “thing” is) crystallizes for you.  That happened to me today.  Nothing big or earth shattering or anything.  It was just a funny little comment, meant mostly tongue-in-cheek probably, but it had that crystallizing effect on me.  The comment was made on my other blog in response to my post Time To Buck Up.  Sanityinthenorthwest was actually the inspiration for that post and his comment became the crystallizing force for this post. 

So, here’s what  Sanity sanely said:

I will stick by my comment that men will jump through many hoops just to get hugs and kisses at the end of the day. I am sticking by it because I see men jumping through hoops every day just to get some hottie to adore them. If the guys you are hanging around aren’t doing that for you, toss them to the curb.

That’s the third time in the last month a man has given me that advice.  Something in my gut resonates with his statements about men jumping through hoops.  In looking back at my own conclusions and convictions, I have to admit, on this one, I think Sanity is spot on. 

And that brings me to Conclusion 8:  I am going to follow Sanity’s advice.