How does one look back on a year such as mine? Three years ago, I ventured out into one of the scariest places I think I’ve ever been. Post divorce, 40-something, straddled with debt that wasn’t all mine, looking forward to fewer years to earn back the losses than I had behind me. While many would say I look good for my age, the fact that they had to add the phrase “for my age” said it all. I was divorced, single with more children than most, struggling to avoid bankruptcy, and wondering how I was going to pay the bills and put food on the table. I was frightened. I was destitute. I was humiliated and ashamed. I was alone. To make things better, I blew an engine on one car, and dropped the rear differential out of another. I had no credit, no cash, no clue what an engine or a rear differential was, and nowhere to turn. I was terrified. I wondered, often, how and if I was going to survive. I was also 40-something and it was only a matter of time before the aging process we all must eventually succumb to, became no longer disguisable. Further, I still had children at home, lots of them, and would probably retire (if that was still even a possibility for me) with them at home. Not exactly the formula for finding someone to spend your golden years with before you actually get to your golden years. Continue reading
What’s Up With The Broken Heart?
So, I posted yesterday’s post and a bunch of peeps contacted me today wondering if and why I had a broken heart.
Just to clarify…no…I am not currently experiencing Broken Heart Syndrome.
Yes, I have experienced it many times in the course of my life, with 2009 being a record-breaking year in the relationship department since being single. Contrary to popular belief, a broken heart doesn’t get easier to deal with as one gets older. I think it gets worse. I don’t know why this is.
As for last night’s post, I just wrote and what came out is what came out. Were there any events that triggered that post? That’s a great question!
In all honesty, I’d have to say yes there were incidents that led up to me writing a post on the broken hearted, but it wasn’t my broken heart that started me down that path.
Nor was it the sense of any dying dream that I was coming to grips with having to give up.
In reality, I was just tired.
I was bone weary tired to be exact. It’s been a long, grueling, exhilarating six weeks. The adventure of doing new things, the excitement of opportunity, the hope of what can be possible is both energizing and exhausting. The most difficult element is that when the demanding pace slows, and the seeds that were planted lay momentarily dormant before bursting into full bloom, there is a season of waiting. This waiting can be somewhat anticlimactic.
I know this because I’ve been there in that place of let down after a great experience.
I am not there now. I don’t feel any let down or disappointment or anything other than a sense that something really exciting is just around the corner. Even if the most exciting thing that is around the corner is Spring Break, I still am feeling nowhere near sad, lovelorn or despairing because things somewhere in my life are less than I desire.
The reality is that some things in my life are less than I desire (except where the scale is concerned and then…well…let’s not go there in this post), but I’m not broken up over them. Well, at least, not today. The reality is also that some things in my life are better than I ever could have imagined at this point. It’s also true that there are many, many things in my life that are still unwritten, untold, unimagined. These are the things yet to be which are not now. It’s life. It’s my life. It’s everyone’s life to some degree, I think. The good, the bad, the becoming, the yet to be. The happy, the sad, the exciting, the disappointing…the ever so daily.
Life is just moving along and I like it…at least most of it, most of the time.
No broken heart here, though I’ve had my share of experiences with the Broken Heart Syndrome. No thwarted dreams, though I have a few of those too. The reason I wrote what I wrote yesterday is simply because I sat down to write last night and that post is what came out.
I liked it.
I posted it.
Awards, Recognition, Reality & Paying It Forward
Sometimes life is funny and when you least expect it, it happens. Whatever “it” is.
I was gifted with my first blog award by my friend Amber over at Making The Moments Count. To be honest, she completely blew me away with this! She awarded me with The Sunshine Award. She mentions in her post that I pose questions that make her think. I’m pleased that what I write resonates at some level with someone. On a more personal and direct level, thank-you, Amber for letting me know in such an affirming and public way that my Random Musings means something to you. Your appreciation means more to me than the award itself. Thank you!
I’ve long desired to be recognized as a blogger, but I’ve also been realistic in my thinking. I don’t have the time available to me each day to really do the kind of consistent search engine optimized writing every day that I need to be doing in order to really be an award winning blogger. This post is likely a good example of what I’m talking about as I’m writing it at nearly 11 in the evening after a full day at work with kids and then a full evening at home with my own children. I won’t edit effectively, I know. I get that I can’t devote all my time to blogging and it shows. I’m also not so certain I am the next J.K. Rowling or John Grisham of the blogging world. So be it. I have to write to please me instead of for other reasons at this time of my life. I’d given up whatever fleeting hope I had of being recognized in the blogosphere. And then…Amber.
I’m so honored that I was noticed and recognized by another bloggy friend in spite of the fact that I can only visit and comment sporadically on her posts (or anyone else’s for that matter these days). I am especially amazed that I received it given that I don’t write daily and blogging is such an “if you write it they will come” sort of endeavor.
Amber has given me the gift of a positive recognition for something I do that she appreciates. When she gave out the award, she didn’t just say I was great or that she loved my stuff. She specifically named what I did that meant something to her.
Think kids or dogs are the only ones who appreciate some positive recognition and attention? No way! I’ve basked privately in this one for the last week (or has it been longer?) since she awarded it. It means something to me. It means something to me to know that something I thought and took the effort to put in print resonated with someone else. It especially means something to me that it resonated with Amber, because when I read her blog, I read myself, 19 years ago or maybe 17, with two young girls and I feel all the same things all over again. Mostly the fatigue! I’m so grateful I could impact her life positively if only to question, to challenge, to stimulate thinking, because I sure can’t help with babysitting, though, if we lived closer together, I’d certainly be glad to help!
Paying It Forward
Amber received something from my writing and she paid it forward by letting me know. Now it is my turn to pay ten other bloggers the compliment. I will be paying it forward in the next few days (I am preparing for a big presentation at a state conference while also preparing for a professional development class for educators next week so, please, be patient).
Further, I’m going to encourage my readers to consider paying it forward positively as well. Have you had someone do something or say something that mattered to you in the last week or month. Has someone done something or demonstrated some quality or skill that you admire? Has someone made your life better, easier, more joyful in some way? I encourage you to take a moment and let them know. It could be that the positive response from you is just the thing they need to hear at just the right moment.
If it matters to you…if it resonated with you…if it made you think or impacted you …won’t you let the person know? I’m certain they’d appreciate knowing that their contribution to this thing we call life didn’t go unnoticed.
Soap Operas, Harlequin Romances, and Heavy Drugs
There are some things that have never been a draw for me. Soap operas, Harlequin romance novels and heavy drugs (or even really mild ones, for that matter) have never posed any particular temptation for me. Even so, I remember the words from one of the soaps my mother, or maybe it was the babysitter, used to watch: “As sands through the hour glass, so are the Days of Our Lives”.
Sand, hours, days, lives, soaps, romances and heavy drugs. It’s an impressive lineup don’t you think?
Most of my childhood occurred during the seventies when there was a real emphasis on educating children about the dangers of drug use. Fat lot of good that did any of us! Sadly, all that well intentioned tax money was wasted on me. I had, after all, the very best, real life, hands on drug awareness experience a child could have. I had someone in my own home overdose, get hauled out on a stretcher (yes, picture three wide-eyed children under the age of eight, two bewildered and alarmed parents, large medical emergency vehicles with lights flashing, watching the live-in babysitter get hauled off on a stretcher). Take one wild guess which of those three children was tasked with trying to awaken the body that had already slipped into a drug induced coma. That’d be me.
No. Drugs, even in an effort to satiate my deep seated need to be accepted, approved of, and mostly to belong, never ever posed even the slightest temptation to me.
This is easy. Force something on a child all the years they are growing up and, well, chances are they will either acquiesce and adopt the thing or they will rebel. I had soap operas and TV and noise going on all throughout my childhood. I think this had something to do with having an aging father and two other siblings and living in a home where conversation and opinions and even dissension were not only tolerated, but welcomed. I rebelled against the TV and noise but retained a love for all things passionate and articulate especially if they tend toward the nonconformist. After leaving home, I never watched an episode of any of the daytime or nighttime soaps, I loathe TV except for the express and planned purpose of vegging out because I am so overwhelmed and just need to turn my mind off. If given the choice to stay in and watch a movie or something on television, I will opt to read a book, do something in the yard, surf the net, take my dog for a walk, invent cryptic status updates to annoy all my friends on Facebook (who haven’t yet hidden me) with, or write. But, lately, I don’t have time for even that. Lies! I’ll always make time for the status update messages, because, well, now I has iPhone!
This is a bit more convoluted because I love romance. I love the idea of it. I love the feel of it. I love the hope and passion it can inspire. But really? If you’ve read one Harlequin romance novel, you’ve read them all. Give me something along the lines of Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities, or Dumas’ The Man in the Iron Mask, or even the much more recent and sadly deceased, Stieg Larsson’s The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo trilogy and I’m all in, but a Harlequin romance. Ugh. Yawn. Not a draw for me.
A Rehabilitated Internet Dating Junkie
In posts past, I’ve alluded to the fact, correction, I point blank declared, that I was an internet dating junkie. I was. I admit it. I was successful with it too, if you consider being able to get dates with attractive, intelligent, employed men by merely posting a profile successful. If the truth be told, I am still meeting and getting to know people that I “met” and began corresponding with online, over two years ago. My social calendar is exceptionally full these days and I haven’t had an online profile anywhere for months. Okay, I lied, I tried out OKCupid.com and Zoosk on Facebook because I have several friends on Facebook that are dating coaches and, well, curiosity killed the cat. They suggested, I bit. I’m over it now. I was on each of those for two weeks, met one person in person who is fabulously interesting, but I could quickly ascertain that I neither have the interest or desire or energy to get back into the online dating thing. Screening profiles, deleting winks, and wading through thousands of misspelled, poorly punctuated and horribly written profiles is, well, a lot like reading a Harlequin romance. When you’ve read one…
Temptations and Time~Living Life in Face to Face World
The days of our lives can slip away from us like sand pouring through the narrowest portion of the hourglass. The sand at the top appears untouched, but the sand at the bottom is fighting desperately to comply with gravity’s demands. Eventually, the entire lot of it cascades into the bottom portion of the hourglass. This seems an appropriate analogy for much of life.
For me, spending time in fantasy land like soap opera world, internet dating, drug use or reading Harlequin’s is just not something I want to do. The false and superficial have never attracted me. Give me an authentic disagreement (done respectfully, I hope) over a false veneer of cheery friendship any day. When it comes to internet anything, it is so easy to hide, to disguise, to pretend, to escape. This, I’m learning, is a temptation that can be very deceptive. After all the internet comfortably keeps people at a distance. You can connect, without really ever having to connect. Don’t want to talk to someone, just show up in stealth mode or “unfriend” them. It’s the convenience of digital relationship. Besides, who wouldn’t love to recreate themselves (if even for a few minutes) into something that only mildly portends a resemblance to the reality, or disappear into a relationship that holds the promise of the upside (fun, flirty, romantic and non-invasive) of relationship without any of the downside (how the heck are we going to decide which side of the bed you’ll be sleeping on? And why do I have to make room in my closet for you?).
I’m also learning that this kind of relating, while useful for providing some entertainment value and escapist fun, does not really work for me. I’m not twenty something anymore. A few years back, I had to renew my driver’s license. My picture, is awful, as most of them are. Mine was especially bad, because as I was going through the renewal process I was crying. I was aging, caught in a nightmare at that time I felt I could not escape and I truly thought my life was over. My outlook is so different today.
I’m still aging. I can’t do much about that. I ended the nightmare the best way I could, but I ended it. The fallout from that has not been easy but life is good. I’m meeting many fabulous new people through the adventures I’m having with the friends I already know in my face-to-face world. Some of the digital relationships have bridged the gap from being merely digital to actually tangible, and, while romance isn’t running rampant in my life like weedy vines overtaking my garden, some very valuable and wonderful friendships have developed. I’m busier than ever with work opportunities in an area where people are struggling to hold onto their homes after losing their jobs. I’m meeting people in my community that I enjoy spending time with and who, while very different from me, are a source of friendship and camaraderie. I’m healthier than I was at the start of the year, in every sense of that word, and I like it. I’m busier than I’ve ever been and yet, less stressed and more content. I find all of this slightly ironic, but I’m not going to look a gift horse in the mouth by over-analyzing it.
I’m simply going to ride this horse where ever it will take me.
After all, life is short. Far too short and far too valuable to allow it to disappear into the meaningless, the shallow, the pain-dulling fantasy escapes that come in so many forms whether, digitally digested, inhaled, injected or imbibed.
Women, Ladies Night, Sex on The Beach, and No Laundry, Please!
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?
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
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.
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.
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.
Dating and Deception-That’s What She Said
Yesterday’s post dealt with truth in dating. While much of what I described happens to both men and women in dating, yesterday’s post was decidedly from the female perspective and slanted pretty heavily toward men and the deceptions they tend to employ, if they employ them, when dating. However, I’ll be the first to admit, that men face their share of unhappy experiences and boatloads of deceptive practices when dating too. I know this because they tell me so or they have, when I dated them. Seems that when it comes to dating and deception, it’s an equal opportunity venture.
Women are just as guilty as men of deception. They just deceive differently. For example, there’s the very common practice of fudging on the number of years we’ve actually roamed the earth. Early on in my Post-40 World dating experience I corresponded with an individual who told me that he actually met a woman who said her age was somewhere in the 40’s but when they met, it was evident to him that she hadn’t seen 40 anything for a few decades. He ended the date instantaneously and (the best part) she seemed stunned. And this is only one of many, many experiences I’ve heard that men encounter when dating online.
Personally, the day I feel tempted to lie about my age is the day I hang it all up for good. I just can’t do that. It is unfair and dishonest.
Do women who do this honestly think that the men they meet are going to be totally impressed when they finally see that they’ve been lied to all along? Further, what kind of foundation does this build for any kind of meaningful authentic relationship? My guess is, and please, feel free to correct me if I’m wrong, but my guess is it erodes relationship before it even begins.
I’ve been told that women lie about their weight, but personally, I don’t get that because I know weight doesn’t tell you much of anything and can give you a really bad impression. Most guys would die if they knew that that cute hottie they are pursuing online actually sports a 145 on the scale instead of a 119, but fits nicely into a size 8. But if she cropped her pic so it just revealed her face and then touted the number 145, what the heck do you think the response would be? Yeah, on the other hand, the fact that a woman even looks like a size 8 online is probably guarantee enough that no guy is asking that woman what she weighs. It becomes an insult to ask what a woman weighs. After all that’s not on the dating questionnaires.
While women are less inclined to lie about their marital status (I think, I don’t know this for sure), this doesn’t mean women are exempt from misrepresenting themselves. On one hand it is understandable. We all want to present ourselves in the best light possible. After all, isn’t that what make up, hair products, deodorant and designer jeans are all about? But when we step over the line of presenting ourselves in the best possible light to recreating a fictional imaginary self, then this is, in my mind, crossing a line.
Personally, I’m all about full disclosure.
In fact, I recently, even as I was writing this was called upon to disclose some very awkward and deeply humiliating aspects of my own personal past. It is a past that I am ashamed of and will never be able to erase. It is a past I regret and will spend the rest of my days trying to help people avoid in their own lives. While full disclosure was not comfortable for me (I totally would have loved to have not had a conscience and been able to justify minimizing or reinventing my past), I told the truth and all of it. It totally sucked. I might never hear from this person again and this is a person I completely respect and admire. But I am committed to being different than I was and I am committed to being vulnerable, transparent, with nothing to hide. It might cost me any number of friendships or romantic interests to come and my past, quite frankly might eliminate me from the experience of any real lasting, meaningful, connected relationship with the opposite sex, but at least I can go to sleep at night knowing that the other person made a decision about me based on fact and not on supposition and not on an inadequate amount of data.
And that, quite frankly, is how I prefer to do life, because in the end, I’m never going to enjoy quality relationship where the foundation is based on misrepresentation and inadequate data. If the entire point in dating is to get to know people in hopes of someday developing a relationship based on intimacy then full disclosure (at the right time and in the right manner to the right people) becomes important.
I want the real deal. I want authentic, meaningful, connected relationship when trust is the foundation and transparency and vulnerability the cornerstones. If that can’t be had then give me the single life. It is much more convenient anyway.
Sex or Making Love? Who Is Confused?
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
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?
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?
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.
Regarding 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?
Two Men In My Bed
If he is comic, it is only because of the incongruity of so demure a look and so wild a heart. ~Alan Devoe
I am not a morning person. Wait! Under certain circumstances I might be considered very much a morning person, but even so, the term night owl is still more likely to refer to me. I do my best thinking at night, usually because that is when my busy world finally becomes quiet. Because of this, I usually come to consciousness each morning, slowly, gradually.
This morning was no different. I realized I was awake before my eyes actually opened. I felt the slight pressure on my legs of another being in my bed, then another weight between my legs. Yes, most definitely, there were not one but two men in my bed and both of them there at the same time! It was only moments before some serious tussling activity ensued, around me, on top of me, beside me. My two male cats were at it again wrestling, scrapping, clawing and scratching playfully as two young cats will do.
I’ve never been much of a cat person really. For pets, I’ve always chosen dogs. This summer, a friend of mine had a cat that got out and as cats will do, this one ended up pregnant. From the get-go she began working on me to take one of the kittens. I already had a dog. A cat was not something I needed.
To make a long story short, she convinced me. Or more accurately, she convinced my youngest daughter. Upon the condition that I would not have to touch the litter basket and that I would not be responsible for that mess, I agreed to take one kitten. So, my youngest daughter and I went over to my friend’s house and chose our kitten when it was only a few weeks old. When the kittens were old enough, we went to pick up our new little fluffy member of the family. As we were doing so, I noticed one of the brothers frolicking around. It was a cute little black tabby thing with gold eyes. I was irresistibly drawn to this little guy and, you guessed it, instead of coming home with one cat, I came home with two.
I have not yet regretted this act of complete impulsivity. Some would call it insanity and in my BC life (Before Cats) I would have agreed. Not so, these days. The kids have been absolutely terrific about keeping the litter box cleaned out daily. Feeding them is no chore nor is keeping the water dish full. We have one of those watering tower things and that works perfectly. I am absolutely certain that rodents will not venture near my home anytime soon so the presence of my cats serves a utilitarian purpose, but they also add a positive emotional dimension to our home.
Cats are both wonderfully affectionate and yet very independent. Unlike a dog who will jump up and pounce all over you, licking and slobbering before you’ve even set your laptop down a cat will sit on the couch or by the wall staring silently at you as you enter the abode after a long day of work. A cat will not run and pounce excitedly smothering you with affection before you’ve had a moment to relax. A cat waits. A cat watches. A cat might follow you from room to room enjoying your presence. Once settled, a cat will gracefully rub up against your legs, curl up in your lap or beside you on the couch. A cat somehow stays connected, but remains independent.
I love that about my cats. They truly are two cool cats. I never thought I’d ever be a cat person, but I’m afraid I’ve been won over by these two characters. It is so nice waking up to something warm, cuddly and soft each morning. It does a great deal to stave off the loneliness I often experience when the kids are away for extended periods of time as has been the case this holiday. I don’t feel so completely alone. There are other creatures in my life giving to me and me to them in a caring and nurturing way.
And…until the day comes (if it comes) when I am instead waking up to something warm, cuddly and hard and human…these two boys do a great deal to put a smile on my face each morning with their antics. Granted, they aren’t the same kind of antics I would otherwise someday hope to enjoy again, but then there are many ways of enjoying life aren’t there?
The Wild Mind
Cats come and go without ever leaving. ~Martha Curtis
You cannot look at a sleeping cat and feel tense. ~Jane Pauley
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.
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.
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:
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.
I 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?
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.
If 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?