Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The Armful, by Robert Frost

For every parcel I stoop down to seize
I lose some other off my arms and knees,
And the whole pile is slipping, bottles, buns --
Extremes too hard to comprehend at once,
Yet nothing I should care to leave behind.
With all I have to hold with hand and mind
And heart, if need be, I will do my best
To keep their building balanced at my breast.
I crouch down to prevent them as they fall;
Then sit down in the middle of them all.
I had to drop the armful in the road
And try to stack them in a better load.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Guest post (anonymous)

Girlfriend: Stoner Dude not only hasn't written back but he hasn't even read my messages. How weird.

Me: Maybe he got arrested and can't get to his account.
(This won't be funny to anyone else but us but I just laughed my ass off at that.)

The following is an anonymous submission:

Well, it was Christmas eve and the very first one spent all by my lonesome. Ever. What better thing to do when you are lonely but to see all the other lonely people out there? Misery loves company after all. I started with craigslist but that shit is just damned creepy with all the PENIS photos.

How the fuck can dudes post up their erect cocks on fucking craigslist?

Seriously? I can't cross post too many FOR SALE posts of a sink basin I want to get rid of but some dude can post his cock up and nobody in craigslist management blinks twice about that.

So craigslist was out before it was even in.

I typed in "personals" in some search engine and saw one for "zenfully-minded people," whatever the fuck that means. Why not.

Now I get a shot of sake because it's cold as hell in my house and I'm alone and don't judge me.

I start a search for men looking for women, women looking for men, women looking for women, men looking for men. I'm up for anything tonight.

Except you can't fucking search without getting a fucking free membership. What the hell, the rice wine says.

I plug in some half-hearted gibberish and then a photo of some landscape of where I live and off I go. Then PING! someone winks at me. The message says, "Why don't you post up more photos?" OK, that's kind of strange but I can't write back because I have the free membership which means I can only look but can't touch. I mean write. So I move along and keep reading.

PING again. Same dude, similar but different message. I look at his profile now because I want to see what he looks like.

Well, if he's really posting up a real photo of himself, he's not half bad. Kind of cute in a Miami-Vice way, sort of. So what the hell. It's Christmas eve and I'm fucking doing this shit anyway so I post a head shot.

PING: "Please post up more photos?"


So I post up another and then an email message. I don't know what happens but we start talking. (Yes that means I blew 20 bucks so I could write this guy back.) But the conversation is pretty light and funny. And I'm finding that I'm enjoying myself.

Fast forward the next day and I'm relaxing doing my own thing. PING. A message in my inbox. Miami Vice dude wrote me again.

I go about my business and now another dude PINGS me saying that he'd like to meet me. We start chatting. He's a 50 year old dead head. (Which is pretty normal for the place where I live.)

A fine specimen, yes indeed.
I'll wear something so you
can recognize me!
He tells me he's very grateful for the chats and wishes that we can be friends no matter what. Says he wonders if I might want to go to brunch with him. "I'd love to meet you and wonder if you might want to go to brunch with me tomorrow. You don't have to answer right away. Think about it and let me know."

Well, um, I can't think about it long, Captain Stoner. It's already the late afternoon and um, brunch tomorrow means there's not a whole lot of time to get back to you. But you know, he's a dead head so what is time really when Jerry Garcia is constantly singing about Casey Jones in your ear?

But anyway, I pause for this minute. I just got asked out on a date. It's been 16+ years since I was asked on a date! Even if it's Captain Stoner dude, who maybe won't even really remember that he did that tomorrow. Still. What happens is that I'm no longer ruminating on my sucky life. I'm feeling a bit younger - like when I was in high school and dudes tried to vie for my attention. It's totally shallow and yet it also really boosts my self-esteem. I'm grateful for these fuckers even though I know they are lying their asses off to me on the site pages. Are they shitting me or am I worthy enough of some kind attention? Wow. This is so strange.

Back to Miami Vice guy. He now PINGS me and says he wants to see a body shot of me. Really? Hmm.. Well, ok. You send me one and I'll send you one. Mind you, these are all fully clothed and harmless. None of that -- what's the word--SEXTING going on. But you know, everyone wants to know if there's fat rolls underneath the portion that was photoshopped out of the head shots. So I look for something that I like of myself and send it along.

"Very cute," he says, "You look like you have some nice curves."

Oh why thank you. Yes, well I fucking work out 6 days of every godammed week and starve myself every other week. Thank you for noticing.

"Send me a butt photo." HA! A butt photo. Seriously? "You first" So I get a photo of him in his shirt and jeans and he's showing me that he's got no ass. Typical white guy ass. But he did it. So, in return, I send him one of me.

"I knew it. You have the perfect butt," then adding "really, a very very nice butt!" He's waxing on about my butt. This is cracking me up. And it's a hella boost to my newly divorced tired-old-ass self.

Meanwhile, back to Captain Stoner. I actually and honestly did have plans for the next day and I said so but said I'd be up for a phone call first because I have this crazy feeling he has a high squeaky voice and I wouldn't be able to choke down brunch if that were the case. He agrees that that would be cool.

Back to Miami Vice guy. He sends me a photo of him with a caption: "taken this past week." I don't know why. I suppose he wants me to know that this isn't him from 2 years ago but from now. How would I honestly know or prove this? So I look at it. I zoom in and TA-DAAA! I see a fucking wedding band on his finger. Alrightie then!

I say, "I spy with my little eye a wedding band on your ring finger."

"You're right!" he says.

"Um, what are you doing on a singles site when you are married?"

"Looking for another wife."

"Don't-cha think you should divorce the first wife before you go looking for another one? Or is there some Mormon chapter in Miami that I'm not aware of?"

He laughs and says, "Why don't you give me some incentive?"

Um. No. This was all fun and laughs but I'm not wrecking any homes and I certainly don't want a bit of that karma on my ass. (I already have karma on my ass because I sent him a fully clothed BUTT picture of myself.)

"You're alright with posting your photo on a singles site when you are married?"

"She won't look."

"Wow, you have a new super hero name now: Captain Balls."

"Lol," he says.

Fucking lol.

And that was the end of Captain Balls.

Captain Balls and his harem.
Back to Captain Dead Head. Is he really going to call or was he high when he made those plans? Or is he getting high now? So there is the end of Captain Stoner.

Still, I'm grateful for the shenanigans of the past 4-5 days. I didn't expect to do anything more than read some goofy personal ads to try to make myself feel better about my own lonely state of affairs and what I got was a little male cyber attention that lasted all of about 5 days. No harm done. Worth 20 bucks for that kind of entertainment. By the way, I wrote to the nice lady who welcomed me to the site and recommended that she have relationship statuses be put on her site PRONTO and she deleted Miami Vice man from the site.

And here I am. Still standing. A tiny bit of healthy self-esteem under my belt. Maybe I'm not so worn out and old after all. HA!

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Oh, the possibilities

So, I ditched one dating site to try out another.

I was trying it from my phone so I posted a single photo and the text, "I'm new here, no info yet. Will add more later." I didn't expect anyone to write until they could actually learn more about me so I was surprised when I got a few emails. The following two stood out:
"Good morning Angel, i hope your night was restful and your weekend is going well? I dont really know where to begin, but will hope after reading my short note of interest in you and my profile to see if i match your critical, you'd give me the opportunity of extending my interest and communication more... I'm xxxxxxxxxx and new to this site, I have turn on here seeking a partner and a woman whom we can be happy as one and grow older in each others hands together. Though non of us on here knows where this might be leading us yet, but i believe risk re worth taking to see what God might be planing for us through this site....Apart from your nice profile, you've really got a lovely smile and a nice hair style that caught my sight a lot and I'd like to chat with you and get know you more, if you don't mind?...i will stop here for now and hope to read from you soon on here or in my email xxxxxxxxx, if you'd be interested in extending this communication more to see if there is chemistry and where the road of faith can be leading us from here. Take care and i wish you a Happy Sunday."

No comment.

Then there was this:
"You are a very pretty and very sexy woman. What are you looking to find here? As for me I am looking for a friend, lover and confidante. I am not looking for marriage. I did that once and it was a disaster! No more of that for me thank you!

My kids are grown now (both in their thirties) and live in the Philadelphia area. I live alone (of course) in VA and I enjoy a quiet life. Some people see this as boring…I see it as peaceful and full of opportunities for serenity and reflection. I am retired from the Coast Guard and from xxxxxxxxxx. I enjoy doing things and being places that enhance a peaceful outlook on life and give me serenity. I practice meditation. I try to live a life per American Zen as taught by Charlotte Joko Beck. That is to say, I use everything at my disposal to be at peace with myself and my surroundings at all times as much as possible.

The LAST thing that I am looking to find here is lots and lots of melodrama topped off with ongoing, non-stop and untreated mental instability and frosted over with heaps of nutty behavior and highly charged craziness between me and a woman with whom I am involved. I have had a lifetime of that insanity.

I cannot take another round of the Lucy Show mixed in with the Roseanne Barr Show and topped off with the ‘Thelma and Louise Strike Again’ sequel in my lifetime. I would like to try having some peaceful living now mixed in with nice, basic human affection and warmth with a stable woman. I want to be involved with a ‘sassy, unpredictable, spur-of-the-moment’ woman like I want the Black Plague.

If you are interested in getting to know me, let me know. If not, good luck in your search. I wish you the best Beautiful!
I love when people put what they DON'T want. "No crazies!" As if I'll say, huh. I'm nuts, guess I shouldn't email him." I mean, do the nutty ones even KNOW? Seriously, people.

Oh, the possibilities.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

cocoon friend

"You're my cocoon friend," he said, wrapping his arms around me, radiating warmth the way the sun smiles at the earth. It soaks into your core, that kind of welcome.

I met him a few years ago, kindred sailors on turbulent seas of dissolved marriages. Our boats never aligned long enough to share the journey as partnered captains but a deeply-rooted bond sprouted from various starts and stops and now there is only reverence.

For the next few hours we laughed about cat anal glands and the complexities of love. "I think you should try anyway," I offered, as we updated each other. "Worst-case scenario: it ends. There's hurt. It sucks. But you've BEEN there. It eventually gets better -- you know this. And you'll have had this amazing experience. And maybe it won't end. Maybe it will turn into something really great. The chance to try is worth it."

I reflected about my own experiences, how I jump back in the ring even after the disappointments mount. "The most recent guy? I only dated him a MONTH and we hadn't even been together and yet I was still sensitive. But that's part of dating. I'm not sorry I tried." I told him the best experience I'd had in the past few years was with the Cyclist. He nodded, both of us understanding each other's histories.

"You'll have to update me so I can blog about it," I added, snickering into his shoulder as we hugged one last time. "But I hope it works out. It sounds wonderful."

"I'm on your side...
And I don't want to be your regret.
I'd rather be your cocoon."

--Jack Johnson

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Silver Linings Playbook quote

"The world will break your heart ten ways to Sunday. That's guaranteed. I can't begin to explain that. Or the craziness inside myself and everyone else. But guess what? Sunday's my favorite day again. I think of what everyone did for me, and I feel like a very lucky guy."

(Sent from my phone)

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

And then this happened

Me: Hi! Someone just gave me "Fact or Crap: Music Edition" - do your kids have this game? If not, are you interested? I can drop it off. Would be nice to see you, it's been a while. How are you?? Sorry this is so short but I'm collapsing into bed early. Night!

Him: We don't have it, no. Not sure if they'd be interested in it. But here's a hypothetical but very realistic scene:
ASPLENIA: "Hey, I was at the dump the other night, and... do you remember that game Cootie? Where you build a bug and stick plastic insect parts into it? Well, they had one of those, except it was covered in maggots and sanitary napkins. And most of the pieces were missing. It was just... well, not the whole body of the Cootie, but part of one. And the part was cracked in half. Do your kids want it? I could come over and drop it off."

And scene!

So yes. I am interested, particularly in the part where you drop it off and I see you and we hug for eight hours. Any weekend plans?

Me: Yay!!

So yes, this is happening!!

Monday, December 23, 2013

Yes I am judging your relationship (everyone was on that flight)

Airports are weird around the holidays. Full of people in Santa hats skipping to baggage claim happily and the occasional red-eyed soul sniffling into tissues to themselves.

I wonder about people's private lives here, in this place we all find ourselves regardless of whether we're in the mood to travel.

Tickets are purchased long in advance and plans march forward whether you're in the mood to fly anywhere or not on that particular day.

Today, I wasn't. I felt melancholy but it was fitting somehow with the gentle rain. I wanted to wrap a blanket around myself and read rather than fling myself into noisy groups of strangers rushing onto planes. And then the idea of facing family and acting happy while questions landed like grenades: "How are you?!?" "Meet anyone yet?" I shook my head just imagining it.

The truth is, I'm heartbroken again, like pretty much every Christmas the past few years. Now it's just the cumulative effects -- the most recent experience is just a light slap on an already present wound. It shouldn't hurt, really, but scar tissue has built up making my insides tight.

Last year it was the Cyclist I swooned over, the year before I gushed about the Dark-Haired Boy. This year they will ask me about Alex. There's nothing to say. It wasn't even a relationship. I am considering it over (whatever "it" was) although he indicated we would get together when I am back from my trip. I'm not sure if that will actually happen.

"I was worried we were moving too fast," he tried to explain, which, to me, was code for "I changed my mind."

And that's fine, really -- whatever he feels, he feels. He's not a malicious person and dating is all about discovery but it still doesn't feel that great.

I spent earlier today (when I should have been packing) setting up a new dating profile. I'm going to try a completely different site. It's a pasttime, now, browsing catalogs of potential loves. It infuses hope into the hopeless, tiny maybes among a sea of options.

Later, I spent the entire 2.5 hour flight quietly judging the relationship of the people next to me while pretending to read a book.

After we landed, I made my way over to baggage claim and stood there sullenly, blinking at the empty belt. And then suddenly I saw what looked like... a rabbit turd? And some sunflower seeds?? go by.

Suddenly life was ridiculous again, and there I was laughing.

My dad picked me up and score another happy point, my heart lifted some more and I texted one last reply to the Cyclist. "We're still friends," I told my dad, explaining why I hadn't yet put away my phone. He raised one eyebrow. "Really good friends, actually..." I said, trailing off, unable to put into words the amount of adoration and trust I have for that boy.

So it's been a long day and I don't know how I will talk about all this tomorrow, but I'm sure glad to be here.

(Sent from my phone)

Thursday, December 19, 2013


Maybe this shouldn't be the case, but I feel like I just went through another breakup. As I drove to work, music auto-cycling through The Breakup Mix (basically every song on my phone), I thought yep, there it is. That sore spot right in the chest.

God, dating is exhausting. When it's going well, it's exhilarating. Last night I dreamt I was on a tiny raft tossed about on enormous waves. Somehow we rounded a corner and a giant swell upended the boat and I saw it coming -- I was going to fall into the water no matter what -- so I jumped. This way I was in control of the falling. I jumped ship. As I crashed into the sea, I remembered all the other times I'd fallen in and a thrill ran through my core.

But then I woke up and remembered what was really going on and the sadness hit.

I didn't really want to end it, you know. I get attached. But there were signs. Maybe I am hyper-sensitive to signs, which isn't totally fair to the guy. But I think about times I overlooked the signs and I was usually sorry.

It was only a month but he was growing special to me.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

quick update and then I am deleting this.

For anyone following the saga, I met someone, thought it had potential but it doesn't. Because, reasons. The end.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

The text pick-me-up

Here's how you know you have a good friend: you send them a wordless representation of how you feel and they reply in kind letting you know you're not alone:

No explanation needed, animal photos say it all.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Reposting from Carolyn Hax column: How to know when you are being your "best self."

Dear Carolyn:
You often talk about a “best self” and the ways people should either live that themselves or permit others to do so. I can guess what a best self might be, but I wonder what your workaday definition is?

Best Self
It’s when you like yourself.

Or, when you’re getting the most out of your strengths and succumbing the least to your weaknesses. It’s highly personal, but here are some ideas for cultivating strength:

Are you doing things that are meaningful to you; well-suited to your interests, skills and talents; and challenging enough to keep you humble?

Are you with people to whom you want to be kind; who reinforce your good choices; and who don’t inspire persistent doubts about whether they’re dependable, genuinely fond of you, free of ulterior motives, honest with you?

Are you that person to those you love?

Do you take responsibility for your choices and their consequences?

Do you honor your promises and commitments, to yourself and others?

When you are impressed by, grateful to or concerned about someone, do you show it?

Do you forgive?

Are you representing yourself honestly, to yourself and others, creating no facades to maintain?

Do you take care of yourself — in small ways like flossing and in big ways like thinking through potential consequences before you act? And do you put yourself first in ways that sustain you, to minimize your burdening of others?

As for taming weaknesses:

Do you realize your needs have the same status as everyone else’s? And you’re not the hero in every encounter with others?

Are you mindful of your flaws and demons?

Do you make choices that put distance between you and your temptations?

Do you resist the impulse to blame others when things go wrong?

Do you understand the boundary between your and others’ business, and stay on your side?

When you’re unsure, do you admit that and seek help?

When you’re about to express negativity or a criticism, do you ask yourself whether it needs expressing? And imagine how its target will feel?

When you fall short, do you admit that? To those who most need to hear it?

Since all of these questions hinge on solid self-awareness, I’d call Step 1 a brutally honest assessment of what you bring to the party — and how you’re most likely to wreck it.


Sore spot

A paraphrased email from my mom:
"I have to give you some advice as your mother... stop wasting time dating the wrong men, you should be able to pick out a guy who can fulfill you already so you can build the life you need. Live in a nicer place too so you feel like a mensch and surround yourself with positive people. You need to feel you're a good catch! And if you want a baby, you need to go for it already, there is someone out there who wants these things too! Love you!"
I KNOW she just wants to help me but this is the least helpful way to do it. It only makes me feel like a failure in her eyes, all shmucky-like. That awesome self-esteem she wants me to build, well, it tanked right after reading that letter.

I don't know how to respond. "I want some of those things too, mom," I want to say. "It just hasn't happened yet. Maybe it will never happen." What if it never happens? I wrote to a friend, "I made peace with that. How can I get her to be at peace with it too?"

If you want to help someone, say, start a business, you listen to them. You help with the details, maybe, or the questions, but you don't know those until they're opening up to you.

You can't just state, "Run your own business already!" and expect that to be enough.

Advice for the depressed often runs along these lines. "Snap outta it!"

"Why thank you for that enlightening advice, I struggled with this for ages until you just said that!"

I get that my mom loves me, that her heart breaks for me, that she wishes she could celebrate life milestones with me but all an email like that does is further shut me down. Who could possibly reveal their deepest vulnerabilities after reading that? "I don't know why it hasn't happened, mom, maybe I'm doing it all wrong. I'm trying though, I really am. You always said do your best but somehow my best isn't working here."

She says nice things too sometimes, that she's proud of me for being a decent person and having a good job, etc., which I love and appreciate but this is a sore spot for me. It hurts to have it poked.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

A small realization from out of the blue

My sis: Didn't you tell me some guy you knew got married recently?

Me: uhhhh...? I don't remember.

My sis: Someone you dated got married.

Me: Hmmm, well there was someone who liked me a couple years ago that got married recently but I didn't have those feelings for him.

My sis: Oh, okay. I was just remembering you mentioning it.

Me: I don't think I would have mentioned that guy? I didn't like him that way but I dunno, maybe I said something in passing.

My sis: Oh. So how was your day?

Me: It was awesome! blah blah blah met new guy but really happy still friends with previous guy blah blah.

My sis: It's really nice that you take a positive view after dating someone, that the relationship was good even if it didn't turn into something.

Me: Aww thanks! Actually I feel like that with most of my relationships. There's really only one person I wish I hadn't dated. Remember <name>? That was something I could have lived without.

My sis: Yeah I could see that.

Me: Oh wait! He's the one that got married recently! I completely forgot. I had googled him a few weeks ago and found out.

My sis: I thought there was someone!

Me: I'm so happy that this is so rarely on my mind that I couldn't even place it right away when you asked, haha!


Yay! I've been scolded for "not moving on" as quickly as some think I should, but here is proof that it does actually happen (eventually). Ha!

(Sent from my phone)

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

ps. Temp post, a little thank you

This is totally silly but I crawled into bed so happy tonight that I started to tear up - I feel so valued lately, both at work and by the people around me at home (including those who are both friends and colleagues). They're tears of gratitude for being surrounded by such nice people. I don't know what I did to deserve being appreciated like this but it's so far away from the banished lonely places I have seen. I am so moved... I wish I could tell my friends how much they mean to me. But maybe they know anyway. <3

(Sent from my phone)

Two good articles: love and letter writing (both are about connection, the first with a scientific slant)

Two articles for you today, both delving into heartfelt matters. One on love and what happens in your brain when you're in it (you'd expect nothing less from National Geographic but the info is woven in and around a personal story which makes it a wonderfully-flowing read:

<a href="http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2006/02/true-love/slater-text.html">True Love, by Lauren Slater, National Geographic </a>

And because I'm a big letter writer, even in this age of email, texting and chatting (I just got back from the post office a little while ago, actually), I loved this article on
<a href="http://greatist.com/happiness/why-writing-letters-still-matters">Why Writing Letters Still Matters in an Age of Digital Communication</a>.

Bon Nuit!

(Sent from my phone)

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Remembering holiday travel

I celebrate both Christmas and Hanukkah. And by "celebrate" I mean that I like to grossly overeat with loved ones. At multiple households.

When I was a student, I was both extremely busy and poor. I didn't have time to get presents until after exams which usually meant ALL shopping (for either holiday) was done Christmas eve. Off to the 24-hour Walmart I'd go, rubbing red, watery, fatigued eyes.

One year I finished shopping at 2am, hauled the loot noisily upstairs and began an epic present-wrapping session that didn't end until dawn. (With two sets of divorced parents between both my ex and I, along with various children and cousins, the list was huge -- around 30 people? -- I can't fully remember, but it was time-consuming and took about 3 hours to wrap everything.) I finished at 5am, set the clock for 6am, and fell exhausted into bed.

I remember nothing after this.

I don't remember the clock going off.

I don't remember the phone ringing.

I don't remember getting up and answering it.

I don't remember picking up the phone or even saying "Hello?" but yet I must have done all these things because I somehow found myself holding the phone with my dad on the other end asking, "where are you??" (He had to ask it several times before I was able to form a complete sentence, I do remember that.) FAIL! I missed Christmas morning. I'm not an alarm-sleeper-through-er so this is pretty indicative of how hellaciously fatigued I must have been.

Luckily my dad's a great guy and (after the initial disappointment) moved heaven and earth so we could still get together later. He never held a grudge about it (did I mention he's awesome?) but I think everyone else is STILL irritated with me to this day.

If I only had this story, It'd be enough. But wait! There's more!

The next year, we finished shopping on Christmas eve, as usual, and came home for an epic present-wrapping session. Only this time, my partner and I said oh HALE no, we are not setting ourselves up for what happened last year to EVAH happen again. We just won't go to sleep! We planned to pull an all-nighter.

So we finished wrapping presents and hit the road even though it was sleeting and snowing. Then... the windshield wipers died. It wasn't safe to pull over just then so we curled our hands out the window and pawed at the glass with a scraper, courting frostbite, to create a little window of visibility until we could safely pull over and deal with the emergency.

There we were, stranded at a rest station on Christmas eve at 2am. Who do you even call?

No one. My partner decided to try fixing it himself. Without even having the right tools, he somehow removed the windshield motor, disassembled it and diagnosed bad electrical contacts. He began scraping them and although it took two hours, the experiment worked! We got back in the car at 4am and continued north, exhausted but determined not to miss the gathering.

The snow got worse and turned into a full-fledged snowstorm. The roads were terrible at that hour so it took twice as long as expected. We didn't arrive until 8am. But we weren't late!!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

5 things that annoyed me today

ANNOYING THING #1. It took TWO HOURS to try and click a "forward" button for an email this morning because, well, shitty software. I still never actually "forwarded" it. The software is so unbelievably terrible that the IT department had to *escalate* it to an even higher level where a special software engineer has been assigned to troubleshoot it. I really want to love my job but seriously??

ANNOYING THING #2. "Holiday" cards with a picture of a Christmas tree. Save your ink and just admit you are a Christmas card. It's fine, I don't actually care, but having that graphic with the sentiment "happy holidays" is ridiculous.
You're doing it wrong.
ANNOYING THING #3. The existence of Phyllo dough. It's useless, time-consuming, limiting, hard to find and isn't even tasty. What good is it?

Phyllo dough looks like a roll of soggy paper towels (and probably
tastes like it too without the pound of butter and honey). Why bother??
ANNOYING THING #4. Actually most dough to me is like that. It's like tofu, it takes on the flavor of whatever it's with so it's really just a medium. THAT'S why I'm not into carbs, you guys. They're not that good unless they're loaded with sugar, salt or fat.
Sad bread needs friends.

ANNOYING THING #5. The following exchange which happened around lunchtime:
Me (walking down hall): hey.

Coworker I barely know (gawking at chest and pointing to my left boob): WHAT'S THAT??

Me (looking down, at first in horror, at my left boob, worried what I might discover and then relaxing when I realized that my clothes had not, in fact, evaporated undetected): Um, that's part of the SWEATER.
How to win friends and influence people: unabashedly stare at various body parts.
I don't wear loud clothes. What could possibly have been so captivating about the design of my sweater that it so overpowered the most basic niceties of societal training, namely, to return the greeting of a near stranger? We definitely are not on "hey what's up with your left boob" terms either so I really don't understand exactly what transpired in that hallway. It wasn't the slightest bit sexist or flirtatious, he just looked at me like Santa was sprouting from my chest cavity.
"The problem with Ugly Sweater contests is that
the winner doesn't usually realize they're playing." (Ha!)

Now I'm home exercising patience!!

Monday, December 2, 2013

Worse than being "nice"

Now that makes THREE dudes who have cited my "conscientiousness" as what they like about me. Isn't that WORSE than being "nice"?!? A girl wants a dude to be all "I can get lost in her eyes" not "it turns me on when she pays her bills" - wtf??

(Sent from my phone)

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

say something.

Hmm... it's a tough choice. Spend the evening sitting on Interstate 95 inching up the northeast corridor at 4 miles an hour along with the rest of the fidgety Thanksgiving-bound crowd, or go out for Vietnamese with a cute guy? Tough decision, but after an appropriate amount of deliberation not a second less than 3 minutes, I found myself sitting across from the sweet-natured guy I met only a week ago. I'll drive up in the morning.

I invited him back to my lair to help me wrap presents for Hanukkah and played songs from the Slumdog Millionaire soundtrack while discussing my riveting R-as-L, R-as-RL, and R-as-RR  language hypothesis of a single consonant moving from Asia westward, as demonstrated by the "Ringa Ringa" song. (It really does sound like they're saying "Rlinga Rlinga Rlinga", the R makes such a fascinating cross-cultural study, right?) (Wake up, I'm done!)

He gets awesomeness points for doing some boring chick thing where the closest thing to disrobing involved pulling wrapping paper off a cardboard tube. It can't possibly have been an ounce of fun and yet claimed he was having a great night. The more I learn, the more I like. When it clicks, it really does click, you guys.

So why the tinge of sadness?

I spent the whole past year full of adoration for a guy who is full of adoration for someone else. Maybe it's that I don't know how to just stop.

Funny, this could be our ending song, except we'd both be the one letting go, saying goodbye to our unattainable loves.

I'm not ready to do anything specific yet but I am slowly opening my heart to other possibilities. A good-natured new guy is gently offering his arm as an open door beckons.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Dating advice for dudes: how to make a woman fall for you

Actual message I received yesterday:
Guy: I want to be happy and I believe I would be happy with you. Call me!

Don't do this.

How to make a woman fall for you:

In a nutshell: make us feel special, like we are amazing to you, that kind of attention is intoxicating.

A lot of women I know were not interested in a guy at first until his persistence made us rethink things.

BUT here's the fine print.

In order for this (your persistence) to work, it has to be:
  1. Genuine (not a player move).
  2. Not creepy.
  3. Not stalkerish.
  4. Not in the face of an overt no.
  5. Not when there is a complete lack of reciprocal interest or response. 
If you already know what her limits are, respect them. For example, one of mine is that I will not date anyone younger than me by more than a few years and even then, it better be compelling. Been there and I am not interested in doing it again. Also, I will not date any men who once dated a friend. There are certain doors to me that should remain closed. Maybe I will rethink these rules someday but for now, that's my comfort zone.

So if you have someone you want to approach, how do you get her to like you?

Evaluate your requirements and how you yourself measure up:

1. Make a list of what you want in a woman. For every quality you list, put a check mark next to it if you too have that quality. Like attracts like. If there are qualities you don't have a check mark next to, those are things you can target. For example, if you like someone who's very into fitness but that's not your strong suit, focus on your health for a few months to increase your odds of her finding this attractive about you. They're good guidelines for staying realistic about the kinds of partners you want and what you yourself can offer -- these things should be somewhat equal.

2. Be a good friend. How are you when growing a friendship with a good buddy? Same stuff applies with women. Spend time together, laugh, respond reciprocally.

Red Flags

We all try to regret-proof the future but unfortunately there are no guarantees. Here's how to make good relationship choices ("choose the highest quality person: the most sane, intelligent, honest, kind, reliable, sensible, generous, warm, good-natured person [you] can find") and keep an eye out for red flags that clue you in for someone who may have trouble spots. You don't necessarily have to rule someone out when you see a red flag, but they're listed here for a reason: note them and proceed with caution:
I compiled this list of red flags with my buddy R.:

1. Demonstrations of Rigidity: A woman who is too picky about seating arrangements, location or time of your date may be showing signs of rigidity. Flexibility is an important long-term relationship trait.

2. Hints of Selfishness: If your date doesn't offer to pay the bill or otherwise make some effort to contribute, red flag. Selfish partners will not give, bend or tend to you when you need it and a relationship is all about give and take, not just take. Some guys have told me that women openly asked how much they make or if they could afford to support them. (That's not just a red flag. RUN!) I still think it's gentlemanly for a guy to offer to treat but a decent partner will be appreciative and not want the balance of effort to be yours alone.

3. Poor Communication:
  • Poor Social Skills: Is she grunting one-word answers? Is she monopolizing the conversation? Does she seem extremely closed in her body language? Can you imagine bringing her home to your parents? What about to your friends?
  • Content of Her Words: Does she complain about everything? Look for positive, upbeat conversation. Examples of how the whole world did her wrong could be a sign of a victim persona; get in line, you could be the next one she vilifies.
  • Future-Talk: You just met and are only getting to know each other. If she mentions introducing you to family, taking a vacation together, or some other plan too far in the future, red flag. You don't know each other yet.
  • Head-Over-Heels Too Quickly: Undying love professed too early is a warning sign. This person may be in love with love or desperately lonely. R. says, "Women who say, 'I'm in love with you' or 'I love you' within the first couple of dates, well, this is a red flag. 'I like you,' is fine. So is 'I want you' and possibly even “I'm falling for you,' depending on how things are progressing. Think about how much you know about the person. Do you know their favorite color or any of their childhood memories? If a person has not opened up to you, how can you have love?" 
  • Inconsistency: Do their claims match their actions? If not, they are misleading you or themselves or both.
4. Care: When she is contacting or interacting with you, you should sense that she values the conversation and interaction. Signs that she doesn't: poorly-constructed, lazy emails (grammatical errors are a red flag of this to me), not returning phone calls in a timely manner, not responding reciprocally, not showing the same kind of interest as you. If she isn't responsive but does explain herself, that's a plus (people who value you will explain their behavior to you).

5. Spite or Malice Towards Exes: It's okay to bring up an ex in context but when it gets extreme or obsessive, then it is an issue. From R: "If she can treat someone that she once loved that harshly, I do not want to be next." You also want to make sure they're not still holding a flame for someone in their past. You can learn a great deal about someone from their previous relationships. If it's all the other person's fault, this could mean that they aren't able to recognize their part and it always takes two to tango.

6. Broad Generalizations: People are so complex. If someone makes sweeping statements about an entire gender/race/religion/etc., they are not only pigeonholing unfairly but they may also be revealing that they do the thing they rail against. From R: "If she says, 'All men lie!!' perhaps it is SHE who lies."

7. Not Making You the Focus of the Date:  It is polite to be honest and, if dating around, this fact may come up but your date should be attentive to the man in front of her, which is you, not the one she met last night.

8. How They Treat Others (including their kids, if they have any): This can be very revealing. A good partner will treat others with care and respect.

9. Lack of Goals, Ambition, and Responsibility: This example is from R. because apparently it's happened a lot to him: "Women who extoll the virtues of not working and being a housewife... giant red flag. They aren't house wives and they aren't wives. It just looks like they're leeching off their exes and going to the gym in between watching Dr. Phil, Dr. Oz and General Hospital. A woman who has a large house, new car, really nice clothes, expensive lifestyle, etc. and claims she's self made, yet has a low level job, well, the numbers don't add up." If someone cannot stand on their own two feet, you may end up gaining a dependent.

10. Realism: Sometimes people say they want romance when what they really mean is they want a fairy tale. Keep an eye out for someone whose head is in the clouds.

Keep in mind not to take it personally if you really want to get to know someone but she isn't responsive. Really, so much of it is timing. If you look through my history here on this blog, you can see plenty of times where I wasn't receptive because of where *I* was, not because of who he was. Sad, but not about you. Honest. Good luck!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Resolving conflict in healthier ways

Me: So it was just learning about all these different things people can do when they're communicating that don't actually open conversations but shut them down. The researcher's name is Dr. Gottman.

Him: I think I heard of him. Yeah, when I was dating Roxanne* we got into an argument and I was pretty upset. But she never reacted with anger or drama. At some point she just said, "come here," and it was then that I realized that she was different, she wasn't going to react the way I was used to growing up where people yelled. It was exactly what I needed. And that's when it dawned on me that I could trust her.

Me: Right? There's something really great when you have a high emotion situation but people don't lose their sh*t. That's how to react that opens doors. She somehow understood what you needed. I was lucky enough to experience that too with someone. He never got angry in a way that really triggered me.
Resolving conflict in healthier ways -->

*not her real name

Sunday, November 17, 2013

The Vanity Post (aka my favorite beauty products)

Since people ROUTINELY say I look at least THREE whole months younger than I actually am, I decided to post my favorite skincare and beauty products here to share my secrets. Now you too can attract the local snake-oil salesman!

Here goes:

Night Time Regimen

1. Anti-Wrinkle Skin Cream

First off, you gotta court your collagen. This is the only skincare cream that actually has research behind it so I'll put it first. Everything else below is just stuff I like, but doesn't necessarily DO anything substantial.
Refissa (and its cousin, Renova)
are by prescription only.

Here's what DOES work against wrinkles: retinoic acid. I like Refissa more than Renova because Renova makes my skin peel more but creams with retinoic acid or tretinoin (vitamin A derivatives) discourage the breakdown of collagen so your skin, which naturally thins with age, thickens which improves fine lines.

Refissa seems better at preventing wrinkles than it does at getting rid of them but I have found some improvement with fine lines already in place. Give it at least a month to notice the effects as it takes 30 days for skin cells to turn over. When I first started using it, my doc said to use it every other day at first since my skin is very sensitive and my skin reddened and peeled but luckily that reaction was only temporary and that doesn't happen anymore.

My dermatologist has said that many people come to him when their skin has deep wrinkles but by then, it's difficult to recommend a treatment that offers great results while also being relatively inexpensive and noninvasive. Lasers (I have heard) require 3-6 visits, are often hundreds a visit ($300?) and leave the face raw, peeling, swollen and red during recovery, but do seem to make a big difference in the photos I saw and from friends' accounts. However, the recovery period looks painful and I'm a giant chicken when it comes to being manhandled in a clinic. So I lean away from anything complicated. Also note that botox may not be safe long-term, plus I think it makes people look strange. It's not normal or natural for a smiling face to be devoid of creases. So that's why I am only recommending a cream here, no experience with anything else.

Refissa or Renova (or whatever your doctor prescribes) should be used sparingly at night after washing your face. Only use on skin that is completely dry.

Do not use Refissa or Renova (or another tretinoin) if you are pregnant or planning to get pregnant. It is teratogenic (meaning can cause birth defects). If you are on it and want to get pregnant, wait at least 3 months after stopping use before trying to conceive. Consult your doctor for details.

In addition to an anti-wrinkle cream, always wear a sunscreen. UV exposure, the number one cause of wrinkles, is cumulative. UVA rays are the most damaging and what reaches you through your car windows. UVB tans and while neither UVA nor UVB rays are good for you, most people don't realize they're still getting wrinkle-inducing sun exposure in a car even if they do not tan or burn or show other signs of sun exposure. Flourescent lights in most workplaces also give off a small amount of rays so it's prudent to wear a sunscreen year-round.

The number two cause of wrinkles (after sun exposure) is sleeping. People who prefer to sleep on one particular side of their face will often have deeper creases on that side.

Smoking also ages skin and causes wrinkles. Please don't smoke, and not just so it won't damage your skin but so you don't die. Dying is bad.

2. Self Tanner

If you are a pasty-white vampire like me, self-tanner is useful if you want to hide your spider veins and/or hate pantyhose and want to wear skirts without your legs blinding anyone. I only use it in the summer months when I want to wear skirts and no hose. But shoot, it hides my spider veins too. Plus tanned fat looks so much better than chalk-white flesh.

Don't tan for REAL because you don't want to die, k? (Again with the death!) Cancer sucks.

I like L'Oreal Sublime Bronze Self Tanner. I don't like the way it smells though (like baked bread -- gross on your legs!) but it's one of the few that doesn't streak. It will discolor your sheets so when I do use it, I sleep on a towel or dark sheets and wash them immediately because they smell funny. I usually only need to apply it once a week though, the color will last all week long. I have yet to find a self-tanner that smells good. This is my favorite brand out of all of them.

3. Washing face

There are 3 products I alternate between depending on the condition of my skin on any given day.

A. Exfoliating:
If skin needs exfoliating, I like Neutrogena Deep Clean. This is good when my skin is peeling from the Refissa or even sunburn/windburn to get the extra dead skin off. There's a few different variations but I like the gentle exfoliating version below.

B. Dry skin:
When my skin is dry (like in the winter), it is extremely sensitive. The only thing that doesn't make it red or irritated then is Toleriane. This stuff has such a creamy and un-soap-like texture that it feels like you're washing your face with moisturizer. It's expensive but you only need a tiny amount, one bottle lasts me about 6 months. Skin that isn't stripped of its natural oils seems to maintain better defenses against acne and dryness. (More on my thoughts about acne and breaking out below.)

C. Normal skin:
During the summer when my skin is normally oily, Neutrogena Deep Clean seems to make it look nice and clear and keep it from breaking out.

P.S. I'm not representing any companies or products, all opinions my own.

Other skincare tips: drink lots of water (there can be a noticeable difference when well-hydrated) and eat healthy. Acne seems to be associated with proprioni bacteria and it can be spread if you "bust" a zit or simply by touching your face so be cautious. I used to get a ring of pimples along my chin when I rested my head in my hands while studying. You can use benzoyl peroxide or even a prescription mix of an antibiotic with the common over-the-counter benzoyl peroxide (ask your doctor). Zit creams containing sulfur seem to be extremely harsh on my skin so I can't use them.

I am happy to share two of my most mortifying experiences with zits that were so spectacular that they were forever enshrined in memory:

In one, a complete stranger points, confused, to my zit and inquires as to what this red, pulsating thing on my nose might possibly be, and in another, well, I was about to give a talk when things went terribly wrong (and maybe I should still move to Canada).

Daytime Regimen

1. Shampoo

Wen shampoo rocks. My sister got me a sample for my birthday and wow, this stuff really IS as awesome as everyone says it is. I had just about given up, having tried 873 hair care products with no differing results other than my hair smelling like various fruit salads. No hair products really seem to smooth/curl/etc. -- whatever they say they do.

I think the reason Wen works is because it's more like a conditioner than a shampoo. It's too expensive to use the recommended amount so I use much less but that seems fine. There are many fragrances but I have only tried the sweet almond mint (it's very nice, even though I usually hate minty hair products. I can't really detect the mint in Wen). My hair feels very light and soft and not weighed down afterwards.

2. Makeup

When I use it, I like:

A. Mascara: L'Oreal Voluminous. Don't even WASTE your money on any other type of mascara. Seriously. This consensus is from every female in my family.

B. Lipstick: the only stuff that doesn't fall off my lips 3 seconds after applying it is Mac Pro. I like the color "unchanging" because it's the most natural. (note: the color in the Amazon's photo looks red for some reason but it is not, it's a natural mauve lip color. I don't use the gloss part because I don't like thick, caked-on lipstick.

C. Foundation: Covergirl Advanced Radiance has sunscreen built into it but my doc still says to apply extra underneath because it's only SPF 15. I like that it's a pump which means the foundation won't turn into a seething petri dish of bacteria after 3 uses, and the texture feels smooth and light even while offering even coverage.

D. Pressed powder: I like Revlon Colorstay (translucent).

Extra stuff to do to look beautiful

1. Use Hand Cream

Shoot, my hands fall off in the winter. The ONLY thing I will use is Neutrogena Norwegian Formula hand cream. Every female I know has tried a bazillion hand creams. Yes, scented creams can be nice but for performance, only this stuff will do.

I buy it in multiple packs and keep one in my purse, one in my car and one in my bedside drawer. My hands don't crack and bleed anymore in the winter.

This is the only stuff you can put on and accidentally wash off five minutes later when you realize you wanted to eat some messy grapefruit and it STILL softens your hands in that five minutes.

When you first put it on, it will feel like Vaseline -- tacky and nasty. Wait five minutes, that will go away. If your hands are cracked, put it on at night before you go to sleep and your hands will feel amazing in the morning. If they're really cracked and damaged, you'll need a few nighttime applications but I've seen hands transform. A little goes a long way so even though it's about $5 a bottle, will last you a while. Get the unscented kind, it smells better (there's very little scent actually).

2. If hair loss is an issue: Rogaine (minoxodil)
You don't need the brand-name stuff, the off-label works just as well and is sooo much cheaper ($27 for a 6-month supply). You'll have to use it for 4 months before you notice a difference but hey, you can start a whole body-betterment routine while you're at it. Toss 4 months of care at your body and see how awesome you look and feel in a few months.

I started using this stuff when my hair appeared to be thinning and it turns out in my case that hormone fluctuations can thin hair so my dermatologist recommended this (the men's 5% strength even though I'm a woman, but consult with your doc for definitive advice).

Some people say minoxidil is better at preventing further hair loss than new hair growth. It does appear to have helped me although I find it a pain and haven't been good about using it regularly. You have to use it morning and night, like brushing your teeth. It doesn't take much time but requires integrating with your routine. I'm not really a fan of complicated grooming rituals so adopting this has been harder.

If you have anything to recommend, let me know! Looking for reviews? I like Amazon and Epinions.com.

If you liked this honest post about skincare stuff, you may also be interested in my shitty Brazilian Keratin hair experience (spoiler alert: not worth it!).

More info:

Video, 2:18, which shows (via clay model) how the skin on the face ages:

How the Skin Ages || Presented by Ultherapy from Ultherapy on Vimeo.

Friday, November 15, 2013

I'm in LA now

I'm in the LA area right now and not totally sure what to record:

- Traffic photo taken today at 3:30pm, evening rush hour well underway. It really IS as bad as they say. It took one friend 3 hours to drive 30 miles Tuesday morning.

- I fell asleep in such a twisted position on the plane that it made both my sensory AND motor nerves fall asleep (as evidenced by the dead, floppy ankle I flung to the ground when I recognized, then immediately rescinded, a desire to visit the airplane lavatory).

This incident translated to a "stuck" sacro-iliac joint and I spent the past 5 days googling bizarre yoga poses and angling all over the floor on my back.

Two trips to a chiro were not as helpful as stretching, however; a good lesson I'd like to not ever stumble upon again. (Need I insinuate the suckitude of having to seek help on a fucking vacation?)

- I know I just had a birthday so let's pretend it's okay to talk about aches and pains, since this blog appears to be full of them lately. I'll consider renaming it to something like "GetOffMyLawn" to embrace the apparent new theme.

- I'm so much fun on vacation that I just finished 5 hours worth of freelancing. Call me next time you're scheduling a party and want to liven it up. I'll bring my computer.

- The La Brea tar pits really do smell like asphalt. 100,000 animals were recovered from there during a 2-year period of excavation. Go there and then get apple pie at Jones Hollywood (3 miles away) afterwards but be prepared to feel your pants cinch your waist like a tight sausage casing. (But you shouldn't be wearing anything besides stretch pants on vacation anyway so I have no sympathy for you should that be your plight. Pack wisely.)

- It was 85 degrees today. I saw smog, true LA-style.

- I got to overhear a friend in an interview with the NY Times today, very exciting.

- The cat that threatened to slice my forearm into ribbons on my last visit has since adopted my lap as a favorite sitting place. This feels so awesome that I want to hug the breath out of her in gratitude. (In hindsight, perhaps this impulse is related to her aforementioned boundary-setting message of doom?)

- Just kidding, I am way less confident around cats than dogs, having grown up a dog person, so I always pet cats with trepidation. They sense fear though. Your ass is grass (or, actually, ribbons) if you don't do it right.

- Noticed someone smoking weed on a path in Venice Beach a few days ago and marveled aloud in shocked tones at their lack of discretion before being reminded that pot is totally legal in California. Oh RIGHT. I guess now the clinics with bouncers suddenly make sense.

- Gyms in LA are fucking PACKED. Everyone's gotta muscle up or something. People are weird, who gets dressed up to sweat? And yet.

- However, there is pretty much a donut shop on every corner.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

A possible Seinfeld episode.

Person A: So I drove to the doctor's because I forgot when my appointment was. My calendar ate the entry. I tried calling them 2 days ago but they were closed until today.

Person A: Anyway so I drove there just to ASK when my appointment was. I thought it might be right when they opened.

Person A: But the appointment WASN'T at 9. I guestimated wrong. It was at 2.

Person A: Then I realized that if I drove back to work right then, the lot would be full. Everyone coming to work and all? So I figured fine, I'll go buy some socks. I need to do this before my trip anyway.

Person A: Only the socks store wasn't open.

Person A: While I was sitting there in the parking lot trying to figure out what to do, I fell asleep.

Person A: Yep, fell asleep in the car.

Person A: When I woke up, the socks store was open. So I got my socks afterall. 

Person A: I spent $100 on socks.

Person B: No one but you, man.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

It's probably obvious

The Cyclist was so cute this past weekend. We strolled through a park and then grabbed dinner and I kept having this thing where the combination of low blood sugar + handsome dude across from me = inability to fully focus. I was distracted at first during dinner.

If I were honest:
Him: [Launching into funny story]

Me: [He's so cute!]

Him: [Waiting for appropriate response]

Me: [Suddenly noticing pause]
If I were honest, I would have just said, "Um, I'm sorry, I was distracted by your Y chromosome, what did you just say?"

Haha, I wonder if dudes can tell.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

The trouble with apologizing

The trouble with apologizing is that it sets up a dynamic where one person is perceived to be in the wrong or falling short and the other person now develops an expectation.

Sometimes this is exactly how it needs to be. When you wrong someone, of course you should apologize. Own your behavior and take steps to improve.

But apologizing can be dangerous. It can be part of an unhealthy power dynamic where one person becomes the "wronged" one and the other the "appeaser."

I found myself apologizing this morning to a loved one for not being as available as they want. And it suddenly it reminded me of an ex who apologized to me for being emotionally closed. "I'm sorry I'm this way," they would say.

I appreciated this. At first I would feel validated and then indignant.

I would think well if you KNOW you're that way and you know I need it to be different, and you want to KEEP me, then don't be that way. But he couldn't be open, it wasn't part of his nature. Trauma and all that, but it doesn't even matter why, it's just the way he was.

It's important for me to remember this because that's one of the few times I was in the role of being unpleased. Usually I'm the one trying to appease, apologizing for falling short. Going back to that time is humbling because I can see how deeply I held the belief that I was "right," that I "knew" how things should "be." As if it's up to one person of a partnership to set the agenda.

How self-centered is that? I never even thought of myself as a self-centered person but in that dynamic, my needs overpowered my sensibility. I couldn't quite see that I was knocking on a door that wouldn't open.

So remembering that is humbling.

Lately I have been apologizing to a needy family member for not being able to call/email/etc. as much as they want. (They want far more than I can give.) I found myself penning yet another apology this morning.

But by apologizing, I am setting up the expectation that I recognize what they need and that I am falling short. The truth is, I don't want the kind of connection they want.

We both want different things. This now presents a conflict: who gets their needs met? Me, for more space, or them, for more connection?

I set up the dynamic (years ago actually) that I will bend and accommodate. I act like an apologetic employee, always falling short at work.

So, two people with differing desires isn't the issue -- that happens all the time. It's how both handle it.

I can see dysfunction so much more clearly than I used to.

Normal people reach out. If the other responds in kind, then they become closer because they are both available to each other at similar levels. This is how relationships develop and grow.

Most angst stems from this part being uneven.

So, normally, if a response is not reciprocated equally, then the one reaching out recognizes this. They can now do one of two things: either adjust to match or get their needs met elsewhere. (Or both.)

A dysfunctional response, however, is to become upset.

If one can't assess whether they can actually get their needs met from someone, they will keep trying and continue to feel disappointed.

It's like eating at a restaurant that serves terrible food and expecting different results each time.

I wonder where the expectation comes from.

Maybe that person used to meet a need but no longer can?

I think some unhappiness in life is an inability to be flexible. Dynamics between people constantly change. They're fluid. We desire to see others as consistent forces (even our language reflects this: "he's my rock" -- what is less fluid than a rock?) but if work or illness or some other thing tugs on one end, the rope shortens and there's less to go around. One person's circumstances affect everyone they're attached to but if there's elasticity in our emotional bonds, they can absorb the inherent heaving back & forth.

The answer isn't to apologize, but to set expectations then. Maybe if I didn't apologize but helped them understand what I'm capable of, they can stop believing I'll one day be available for that 8-hour phone call. They can find another phone pal and our bond won't be strained by the roles of dissapointed vs. disappointer.

This letter to Dear Amy illustrates the rut:
DEAR AMY: When my mother was dying, she asked a lifelong family friend to be like a sister to me because my own two siblings were always mean to me, and my mother knew they would continue to be after she was gone. The friend, an only child, was great for about four years, but then she stopped returning my calls and once went several months without contacting me. Every time I want to go home, she is conveniently unable to see me and she tells me whoppers about her guest room being unavailable. I have known her since I was a baby and have listened to petty criticisms of people we both know without comment. When I told her I really wanted to come home after many years away and said I needed a connection because I am totally alone, her response was, “Get used to it.” I live in another state and have friends but wanted to maintain a hometown connection. How should I handle this? Why did she make the promise to my mother if she was not going to keep it? It is heartbreaking because I have no family ties left. -- Heartbroken 

DEAR HEARTBROKEN: It is a tough truth to impart, but I have to tell you now that nobody owes you anything. People make promises and break them. You may feel wounded, hurt, upset and depleted, but you simply cannot make someone give you what she doesn’t want to give. Your job in life is to look after yourself and to find ways to get what you need — emotionally and otherwise — so that you live your best possible life, without being mired in anger and hurt over the past. And so now you need to let it go. Find a way to move on. If you don’t have any family members to rely on, you’ll have to create your own family from healthy relationships with friends.
It becomes obvious now, that the expected dynamic between those two is that the writer is owed something she's not getting, despite repeated attempts. We don't know the reasons for the relationship shift but the writer doesn't really see her next steps. Maybe it's good that the other person didn't apologize, although she could have been more sensitive and direct, acknowledging the expectation and explaining that she is unable to fulfill it.

I have been told I analyze too much but I like it. I didn't always learn good patterns growing up and I don't always instinctively understand what's healthy. Self-examination helps me react logically and not emotionally.

Disappointingly, awareness is often lip service at first. But eventually it penetrates to a deeper core. Like six pack abs for the psyche, it requires regular effort to realize results.

This is probably the first time I am really seeing how much I apologize and that it's not really a great thing to  be self-deprecating all the time.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Priorities: flossing, exfoliating and pantslessness (a catalog of lovelessness, my week, and neurotic reading material)

Every time I get in the car, I start blogging in my head, especially on shitty routes around beltway traffic but when I get home, I only care about flossing, ripping off my pants, and exfoliating, not necessarily in that order. So I started typing this on my phone in bed.

Coupla highlights:

1. Last time I saw family, one asked me how my love life was. "Nothing worth talking about," I told them. That's my nice way of dodging questions yet not lying. Otherwise I could have just said, "no one special" or "not dating."

"Okay, well, I worry about you, that's all." My stepmom looked at me and I felt myself transform under her pitious gaze into an aging hag.

I bristled and got defensive. "I'm FINE," I insisted, very un-finely.

 My dad rubbed my shoulders quietly.

"Why does everyone say they worry about me?" I said, suddenly annoyed. It's true. Everyone (well, every boy-crazy family member at least) has expressed overt worry at my "state" lately. Because I'm, you know... (cough)... still single.

"Well, it's just since your divorce, you've been jumping from relationship to relationship."

Fuck! THAT'S what they're talking about?? The THREE dudes and one crush in THREE YEARS that I even mentioned to them?

Good thing they don't read this blog or they'd be out of their MINDS with anxiety. I don't tell them HALF the shit that actually goes on. Geez.

I suck at being cool though. Fuck anyone who can "roll with it," that's not me. So I did the adult thing: I got even more defensive.

She noticed and said, gently, "you seem defensive" and suddenly I just crumpled. My anger's like a house of cards. It collapses under the slightest test.

My dad folded his arms around me and I sniffled into his sleeve, "I mean, yes, I want someone special, someone to build a life with. That hasn't happened. I don't know why. He left some tall shoes to fill I guess. And I don't totally feel worthy of love. No one's been quite right. Timing is off or they're autistic or something. But considering all that, I'm not that BAD. I'm okay."

Everything is FINE. What??
Holden Caulfield would have said it much better.

My dad looked at me in that proud way he does even when I'm a mess and as unloveable as I obviously am, based on the evidence painstakingly catalogued in this blog. I felt enveloped.

2. So this brings me to something I need to face that I haven't wanted to. But the truth is, I haven't felt worthy of love. Because, reasons.

I failed my ex and I failed my marriage and I failed me.

What else is there to do for the rest of my life but eat worms?

I mean, that was basically the plan.

Fucking Maslow and his fucking hierarchy of needs. Clearly the key to ridding oneself of the thirst for love is to run out of ACTUAL water. Who needs a penis then? I've been doing it all wrong.

3. Groucho Marx pinned it when he said, "I refuse to belong to any club who will have me as a member" and because of #2, I refuse(d) to believe I'm worthy of any dude who is into me.

That video on hacking online dating that I put up a few posts ago, however, revived some hope. Dating is fucking exhausting. But maybe not a bad idea if you do it right. Every shitty date has taken some wind out of my sails. But maybe I can do better at screening, like that lady said.

 4. So now we are at my last point, which has nothing to do with anything except that it also happened in the last week:

I brought the Cyclist to a Halloween party and he was ready to call it a night before I was, although I traditionally do not stop celebrating Halloween until dawn nears and the zombies get ready to return to their graves. Any earlier just doesn't feel right.

As we drove away, he sweetly offered that I could return if I wanted. "Just drop me off at your place and go back," he encouraged.

Great idea!

Until I realized he would be alone in my room with ALL MY SHIT in it. Now he will know how much I moisturize my face, how many pairs of extra large granny panties I have (fuck, they are comfortable), how little food is in my house and...



My READING material!
If books are the true windows to the soul, my soul needs an intervention.

On my bedside table, you will note the following gems:
  • Codependent No More
  • Are You The One For Me
  • If I'm So Wonderful, Why Am I Still Single
  • He's Scared, She's Scared
  • You're Not That Into Him Either
  • Overcoming Anxiety For Dummies
  • She Comes First: The Thinking Man's Guide to Pleasuring a Woman*
(*STRICTLY for review purposes. What?!? Not even totally sure I agree. So darn clinical. The dude who wrote "Four Hour Body" got it better.)
Wouldn't YOU be mortified at that reading selection? Good god. Is there a dating site for the hopeless?

Oh, right. All of them.

ps. I have taught my iPhone how to spell "pantslessness." This pleases me.