Oh, everybody is an expert. You married folk. You know it all, doncha? I used to know it all, too.
Let me tell you something, people. This single-person world out here? It has changed a lot since most of you were in it. Sure, the whole online dating thing has been around for a while now — and when I was married that’s something I always said I’d do when, I mean if, I found myself single again. But there’s also facebook, which is a massive blessing to the single person (1 in 5 booty calls begins with e-flirting* on facebook) and also as awkward as your Uncle Ted walking into a party in his saggy briefs (which can no longer be called tighty whiteys) and inviting himself into the conversation while he slurps a Schlitz and bites his toenails. It can be hard to get your mack on with everyone watching.
So let’s look at this facebook thing first. Here’s how this often goes down. People want to set you up. They tell you that they have this friend they want to you meet and they instruct you that you’re supposed to “friend” each other on facebook. Which seems like a weird way to go about it. If we were in high school (long before the whole social networking thing) it would be akin to saying, “Hey. Here’s this guy I want you to meet. Why don’t you stand near each other in the chemistry hallway and talk to other people? That way you can eavesdrop on each other’s conversations and see if you’re interested.”
So that means that if you’re me and you’re a bit of a lunatic on facebook, you end up going on sort-of blind dates with guys who have just had the pleasure of reading two days worth of facebook status updates about your ass and how succulent it looks in your new jeans. Yeah, this happened. Then, if you’re me, you realize that you’ve painted this poor guy into a corner — there’s no way he can’t look at your ass after that kind of buildup. And, in fact, you almost feel like you owe him a look because, hell, you’ve just had a public conversation with 20 people about your caboose right in front of him. So if you’re me, you decide before the date that the only way to handle this is to just walk in front of him for a minute so that he can take the opportunity to check out the goods without seeming like a pig. Really, it’s the only ladylike way to handle it, fer chrissakes.
And then. If you’re me …
Your plan to play it cool and ladylike completely falls apart because your mouth just … Won’t. Stop. Talking.
Here is a pretty good approximation of the first few minutes of conversation from the ass date:
Him: Wow. You look great. It’s obvious you’ve been working hard at it from your facebook posts.
Me: Yeah, listen. Sorry about that. The whole facebook thing is so weird, isn’t it? And I tend to get a little goofy on there and I can’t imagine how that must come off to someone who doesn’t know me. And then, there I was writing about my ass for, like, two whole days! [Now is the time when I’m pretty sure I lapsed into a somewhat convincing Steve Martin impression, including pained facial expressions and much gesticulating.] So I realize I put you in a very awkward position. Because I was thinking, “Hey! What’s this poor guy gonna do?” You practically had no choice but to look at my ass now.
Him: You’re right. There was no choice.
And isn’t THAT a fun way to start a date? (Let me just say, dateguy was very nice about it and didn’t seem fazed. Kudos to him for being a gentleman and having a sense of humor about it.)
I guess people think that friending one another on FB is a good way to kick the tires first but it doesn’t work for people like me. The danger is, these setup guys tend to be pretty quiet as far as facebook interaction so I often forget that they’re there. And then I end up writing something like “Dear Mr. Taxman: Would you settle for a blowjob?” without considering who might be reading it. (Yes, I did write that once but I was still married at the time.) (And yes, Mr. Taxman and I are meeting at the local brew pub — which is apparently where all first dates occur these days — for a beer next week.)
Then there’s online dating. I dabbled around a little while ago on a few sites just to see how they worked and who might be already attending those parties. Ever since then, I’ve gotten emails every single day with my “Top Matches!” which I can “View for Free!” But I’ve been busy and I was sort of interested in taking advantage of any free-of-monthly-fees dating opportunities before I got into the online thing so I never looked to see who was squatting in my email.
Then, I shit you not (still the best phrase ever), I was cleaning out the old inbox a bit ago and I suffered a mis-click or something as I tried to delete the email (it was an accident! I swear!) and before I knew it there were 12 eligible bachelors staring back at me as I sat in my kitchen with no makeup and disheveled hair.
So I looked. It was interesting. It was like online shopping. I didn’t really see anything I was interested in purchasing, but it got my attention. So I started, you know, looking a little bit each day before I deleted the emails. Then one day, Mr. Hipster Glasses showed up. (Yes, I love the hipster glasses. I am not proud of it but what can I do? What can I do?) The site wanted to know if I wanted to see his whole profile. It turns out that I did. But …. grrr … the site was also very bitchy with me, in that it insisted that I put up a profile first. So I threw a few things up and got to lookin’. And, uh, I don’t know. He seemed interesting. But if I wanted to email him, the web site said I had to pay the hell up first. Freaking online dating peep show tactics … turns out, I wasn’t that motivated. Forty bucks for a one-month membership — welp, that can buy a lot of fishsticks and momma has kids to feed.
BUT. But. Since I put up a profile I can now apparently be viewed as if I’m an active member. So you know that means? It means that my email is full of “winks” from guys like RamRod2694U who are apparently trying to get my attention. And I also have a whole mess of actual emails from the more ballsy fellas who are interested in “speaking” to me instead of just tugging on the back of my braid in the school hallway. But the trick is, I can’t see who has emailed me until I pony up the old credit card number. So my inbox could be full of ramrod types or hipster-glasses types. There’s no way to know.
Well, of course, there is. I could just join. I imagine that there are lots of goons on the site but I imagine that there are also some genuine people with good intentions. I’m not going to rule anything out for the time being. But I also don’t think that I’m quite ready to devote the time to something like this, as I hear it can pretty quickly turn into a part-time job.
In the meantime, I enjoy the window shopping. One lovely fellow seemed to be a potential for me at first, until I got into his windbaggy, self-satisfied profile and saw that he described himself as “blithe.” Another man was very, very, very interested in letting the online world know all about how he has been screwed up the old peach pit by every woman who has so much as bagged his groceries for him, but he’s still looking for the right girl to “treat like a princess.” (And let me tell you, if I did a shot for every time THAT phrase came up in various profiles I’d be in an alcohol-induced coma until my kids graduate from college.) Also, I’m pretty sure Jon Gosselin showed up in one of these emails the other day.
I also enjoy getting emails like this: “Someone emailed you! Is he the one? Like you, he enjoys eating at restaurants! Like you, he likes dogs!” I want to see one that says, “Like you, he enjoys walking upright! Like you, he enjoys a carbon-based existence!”
But I will say this: I honestly admire anyone who is willing to put themselves out there and declare that they’re looking for love. It is a supremely brave thing to do. So I feel a bit bad about snickering at some people’s profiles when I know that there’s plenty to snicker about allllll the heck over this blog right here, not the least of which is the freakin’ white paper on my romantic intentions that I rolled out a few weeks ago. (If I had the balls to actually go back and read that entry, I’m sure I would die of embarrassment. Although that could probably be said of most of this blog.)
As always, blogmuffins, I’ll keep you posted.
* The term “e-flirting” graciously provided by Cora Schipani Moyer.
I grew up in a house with a man who didn’t know how to love me. Then I grew up and I married another one. Daddy issues are no joke.
Today I put my darling little Benjamin in a barn jacket to take him to daycare. My dad used to have a coat like that, too. In fact, for the last few years he was alive, I don’t know that I ever saw him in another jacket. A lot of people have barn jackets. I had one. Probably everyone in my family had one at some point. But no one quite filled theirs out the way dad did his. Everyone else was sort of enveloped by their coats. Dad — the supremely masculine man that he was — really told that massive jacket who was boss. He wore it instead of the other way around.
Benjamin already looks a lot like my dad. Probably because he looks like me and I happen to look like my father. But every now and then B flashes a facial expression that just about stops me in my tracks. And then I swallow hard and I say, “Oh, you certainly are Benjamin Joseph, aren’t you?” My dad was Joe. Is Joe.
I’ve been reliving my dad’s last few days quite a bit lately as one of my best friends is going through an absolute horror of a hospital scenario with her mom. Then tonight I was watching Glee and one of the characters was in the hospital just begging his unconscious dad to squeeze his hand. And I thought, I did that. I did exactly that. I did that after they told us that my dad had a 13% chance of survival after the cath-gone-wrong and the heart attack. Everyone was talking softly to him and in my hardest voice I said something like, “Dad. Dad. Can you hear us? Come on, dad. Give us some sign that you can hear us. We’re all here, dad. Show us that you can hear us.” And, goddamnit, his eyelids fluttered and it looked like he was trying so, so hard to move or to speak or to something. We yelled for the nurses and I told dad to squeeze the nurse’s hand and I just kept talking to him in that hard, commanding voice that I got from him. He looked like he was trying but the squeeze never came. And then they told us to let him rest. When I had to leave later and I told him goodbye, his eyelids started fluttering again when he heard me speak. And that was the last reaction I ever got from my dad. But it means something — everything — to me that he tried. I guess it was a validation in some way. He noticed I was there. It made a difference to him. Perhaps … I mattered?
Now, here, I have this little guy who is the spitting image of dad sometimes. And this wee munchkin not only knows how to love me, he makes it extremely clear that at certain times I am the only comfort in the world that he’s interested in. He snuggles into my neck and shoulder in a way that makes me believe that we were perfectly molded to each other to be in that position — and it’s always perfect, no matter how big he gets.
And today Benjamin had his little barn jacket on. And I could scoop him up and cuddle him — and he wanted me to, needed me to when I picked him up at school — and I could freely give and receive the love that somehow never quite got expressed with my dad. Not that the love wasn’t there — I don’t doubt it — it’s just that that energy was never spent. It withered on the vine. (There are many, many reasons for this. Hard to explain, hard to quantify in a few lines. I don’t blame my dad — I think he did the best he could. But that doesn’t mean that I didn’t need more from him. Said with love.)
Is it the circle of life? It kind of feels that way. When Benjamin has that little jacket on, it feels a bit like the man that I looked up to and wanted to notice me has come back, only now he’s looking up at me and begging me to pick him up, look him in the eye and pay attention. And so I will.
A note to daddies: Tell your daughters you love them. Tell them that they’re beautiful and smart and important. Stop everything else sometimes and look them in the eye and listen to them without offering advice or trying to “fix” anything — girls just need to be listened to. Hug them, kiss them, even when they’re older. Tell them how much they mean to you — speak the words. Leave no doubt. Always, always remember that you are teaching them how a man should treat them.
I got my ass reamed tonight. The phone rang and by the time I hung it up 20 minutes later, my ear was chewed off and bleeding. There were a lot of nasty things said and the person on the other end of the line was mad, mad, mad at me. And I was mad, mad, mad right back, because I felt that she took some seriously low blows. I hung up the phone and was finishing cooking dinner, crying all the while (because I do that when I’m angry) and thinking, “How could she say those things to me? She was just cruel and hurtful!”
And then it occurred to me: I started it.
This woman is the one and only person who I ever personally called out on this blog. We had a disagreement several months ago and she made it clear that she had no intention of speaking with me again so I had a little fun at her expense. I imagine that it was not a pleasant experience to find a little essay about herself hanging around on the the Internet.
So neighbor “Fern”: I apologize for writing about you on the blog. It wasn’t a great move. The post is gone. I imagine that you still think I’m selfish (I am many, many things but I’m pretty confident in saying that that ain’t one of them) and that my blog is boring and “about nothing.” But one thing about me, Fern, is that when I realize that I’m wrong about something, I admit it. So I was wrong. You deserved better. I honestly regret writing the post. Sorry.
And now, I’m about to call out my second person.
To my supposed “friend” who was oh-so-hopeful in suggesting things Fern could say to me that would “get” me, I say this: Honey, I been “got” more ways in the past few months than you can ever fucking imagine, so don’t waste your energy on me. But what I would like to remind you is that while my husband and I are getting divorced, we remain coparents. It might not be obvious by this little blog here that lulls you to sleep, but it’s really an effort to take the supposed high road sometimes. There are a lot of things — some of them volatile — that just have to be let go. Now I don’t know who you are, but my guess is that you’re a mother. I don’t think it was your intention to try to add venom to a situation that we are working diligently to keep poison-free. We’d really like our kids to grow up with parents who can be in the same room at the same time. So just keep in mind that other people’s dramas are not a spectator sport — they’re very real and there are children involved and you don’t know the whole story, even if you think you do. If you ever choose to man up and tell me who you are, I’d be glad to buy you a beer and enlighten you on some of the more entertaining moments I’ve had over the past few months. I wouldn’t wish divorce on anyone. If you want some entertainment, go to the movies.
I started writing this one earlier in the week but I kept getting derailed by at least two of the following three things: kids with lingering fevers who just wanted to sit on me all day, deadlines that would just not go the hell away, and/or hot, late-night phone sex with mysterious gentlemen who use phrases like “vim and vigor.” Please write your guesses in the comment area and send them to me. If you guess “phone sex,” feel free to be as descriptive as possible. I’ll take my thrills where I can get ’em.
So let’s jump in here and see what’s goin’ on in this baby … wait here. I better straighten up a bit before you all come tromping through.
[Times passes.] OK. It’s a little disjointed but there’s some good stuff here and there. Watch your step.
I had a dream … people won’t you listen now? Crazy dream …
I’m exhausted and just leaking Zeppelin. It happens.
So I did, actually, have a crazy dream the other night. It was so weird that I woke up and tried to dictate it into Dragon Dictation on my iPhone. I think the underlying goal of that app is to take whatever you say and turn into Led Zeppelin lyrics. It’s entertaining. It’s totally trippy. It’s not so farking accurate. (Random thought: a toilet paper app for the iphone. I’m a genius.)
So the gist (jist? I never know) of the whole thing was that there were all these people whizzing by on the highway and they were heading like mad to the exit ramps. They didn’t know which ramp they were taking or why they were taking it, they just saw a ramp and they went. It was loud — highway noise, chatter, radios, what-have-you. And I was watching all of this from the side of the highway and trying to figure out what my route was going to be. I wanted to have a plan so I pulled up some old documents from my computer (which I had handy, apparently) and found a bunch of old files in which I had written out goals for myself. They were full of good information — and they were pretty accurate for the time that they that were written. But now all of that was outdated. I needed some new plans. And I couldn’t figure it all out on the side of the road. I needed some quiet. I needed to get off the highway.
So it doesn’t take a genius to figure out the metaphorical meaning of that one, huh? And it’s close to a lot of thoughts in my waking brain, too. I think I need some silence. Some quiet.
I have been crazy busy. I have been crazy awake. I have been holding the shit together. I have been making things happen. But now it’s time to take care of myself a bit. Problem is, I honestly just don’t know how to … stop.
So a few nights ago the kidsters were going with their dad. My plans got canceled at the last minute and my first thought was, “Who else can I call?” And then I went, “Hold on there, Trish. You don’t have to call anyone. You can just hang out … alone.” And this bothered me a bit. Because I’m a person who NEEDS alone time. I crave it. It sustains me. But I’ve barely been able to take a pee alone in the past seven years. So now that the prospect having some time to myself was staring me in the face, I was uncertain what to do with it. And it bothered me that it bothered me, because I just wanted to be all, “Yeah, I love hanging out with myself. I’m comfortable with it and I gots noooo problem with this at all.” But … I had to talk myself into it. I knew that it was time to quit frantically filling all my kid-free time with socialness and busyness and learn how to be with me again. So I mentally closed my list of peeps who might be available to hang out and I asked myself what I wanted to do. Turns out, I wanted to go for a bike ride.
And the evening turned into such a lovely little date with myself. I rode my bike aimlessly and forever and found all kinds of cool things I didn’t expect and got to completely explore every little twist in every path in the woods without anyone complaining about where we were going or how long we were taking. I rode until it was starting to get dark. Then I went to the grocery store and I bought food that only I like and I came home and cooked myself a lovely dinner and had a glass of wine. And it was … really nice. So I’m getting those sea legs back.
I’ve been living with a certain amount of precision for the past few months. I’ve been constantly assessing priorities – what needs done v. what would be nice to get done, sloughing off things that are weighing me down, packing light — filling my backpack with only things that I can carry. But now I’m starting to set up camp. I have to remind myself that it’s OK to relax a bit. And now I need to think about … joy.
What brings me joy? Because that is the only thing that’s going to get me through the lonely — or alone –times. (I think we can agree that those can be very different things.)
The theme of the early part of this year for me was self-discovery. I was on nothing short of a vision quest. (And now let’s welcome Hippy Trish to the party … ) I had to dig down and see what was going on in with the foundation of my soul, rather than keep decorating the rooms upstairs — filling them with useless crap — as a distraction to the nagging truth that something was really … wrong. So I read a lot. I took some amazing classes that taught me how to meditate and how to get to know myself — which can be really, really hard. Eventually, I had to drill down further and further to get to the heart of what I was seeking. And I found that what I wanted was one simple word: Authenticity.
So now that’s my watch word. It’s more than that. It’s my verbal talisman that I pull out and ponder when I get a little too caught up in whatever is going on. But these last few months, I’ve been so caught up in doing that I forgot about being.
As I go forward with the idea that I’m going to live an authentic life, there a few tricks I’ve learned to help keep me on track — to help keep me completely honest with myself.
The first is to ask myself this question: If this were true for me, would I be more free? That means something different to everyone and freedom comes in many forms. For me, freedom feels something like joy. Now I understand that I’m not going to be free of many of my less-than-glamorous responsibilities in life unless I completely dump my life and cut out on my family — but then I wouldn’t be free anyway because I’d be miserable. So I need to find my joy within that framework.
The second question I ask is: How does my physical body feel about this? This is a good question for me, because I tend to spend a lot of time living in my head. This question helps me move all that chatter down to my heart area. I read something earlier this year that said your body won’t lie to you. So when I’m picking and choosing directions, I like to tune in and see what the old bod is saying — do I feel energized by the thought of something — like I could take flight — or do I feel tired and sluggish when I think of it?
I was thinking the other day about the way that some music can bore right into your body and soul and pluck one specific nerve, similar to the way a brain surgeon can touch a certain part of the brain and cause a physical response. But music can cause a whole hallucination of something that happened before or hasn’t happened yet — a recognition of a truth that you didn’t know that you knew. I guess in some ways that’s what I’m looking to do here. It took a long time — years — for me to find my truths and to talk about them in a way that other people could understand, but I know that a lot of other people are on similar quests. By putting my truths out there, I guess I hope that other people can more easily recognize their own.
Sometimes I like to sit down at this computer keyboard and pretend I’m playing it like it’s a musical instrument. Words are clunky, clumsy building blocks for art compared to musical notes and paintbrush strokes. But my goal is to take all these cinderblocks and turn them into something soft, feathery — that can take flight in spite of the massive weight. I may be building a long time, but I welcome you all to come back and check on my progress. Because someday this bird is going to take off.
Have a great weekend, peeps.