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Sunday, February 11, 2018

Back at the rodeo...


Some people feel I am too negative about dating. That I should maybe just relax and "go with the flow" more ( obviously not someone who knows me well). 
But, here's the thing, after a fairly lovely 2016, the arrival of 2017 brought just so much bad juju. 

I dont want to whine, but what the hell, here goes...

I ended a tumultuous (being polite, it was a cluster f***) relationship a little over a year ago. There were so many things just..wrong with the situation, that it hurt to even think about it too much. I was perfectly happy to become hermit like and nurse myself back to some sort of place with more sanity, with the help of my team of course. 

I was happy to do that, but honestly it didn't really happen that way. Because, well, life. 

First it was a pay cut at work. A SIGNIFICANT pay cut. By a third. 
Think about that. 
Take the amount of money you bring home every month, divide it by 3, and then subtract that from your total take home. 
I hadn't been living a luxurious lifestyle anyway, but for the first time in my adult life I had been making enough to pay bills and have a small buffer. A very small buffer, but still. 
I was so grateful. 
That was now gone, and then some. 

I was trying to absorb and deal with this while the relationship was exploding so the financial stuff didn't really sink in for several months and by that time it was a crisis. I am what's considered a member of "the working poor". I work my butt off, usually at least 2 jobs, sometimes 3 when my kids were younger. So now i was back to scrambling for part time work along with the full time (draining) job just to pay my bills. Not for extra discretionary funds. 
By the way, sorry if this topic makes you squirm, but 78% of americans live paycheck to paycheck, in debt and tenuous. Its a fact of life for millions, I would bet for many of your friends and neighbors. Get your head out of the sand and don't be judgy. 

Then, my mother died. 
Which came with all sorts of conflicting feelings, since we had been estranged for a long time and had only just reconnected the previous year. 
I was so glad for the few visits I had with her and really sad that there wouldn't be more. But it was also one of those situations where her health and quality of life had not been great. 
My siblings and I are not on good terms so that added another delightful twist. 
I had amazing people supporting me through this uncharted territory but I still felt...raw. 
Just kind of sliced open. 
While still looking for some sort of part time work. 
While still feeling my heart was an open wound.  

So summer kind of flew by with me a frantic mess. 

And then I got in a car accident. 
Have you ever been in a car accident? 
It just ....sucks. 
I was hit head on. I was ok, at least I was upright and walking. Injuries did not show themselves for a couple of week and I am still, 3 months later, in significant pain some days from the whiplash that snuck up on me. 
Yes yes, I am in PT and I did all the other stuff I needed to do which is a LOT. 
I have never felt more frustrated or victimized than I did negotiating this mess of insurance, lawyers, medical appointments and car dealerships. 

So yeah, break-up, paycut, Mom death, and car accident. all in under 12 months. 
And of course add to it all the other normal LIFE things that come along. Job related, kid related, home related, etc. 
And yes, I fully acknowledge that I have MANY many things to be grateful for. 

But dating?
During this?
Um...no. 

Skip ahead to now-ish. 
A month or so ago i thought, ok, maybe its time to think about it. I don't  feel ready to hang up my spurs quite yet. But also don't really feel like I am on firm footing with the whole thing. 
Enter...online dating. 
Yes again. 
What IS IT with me and this venue??

I was having this exact discussion with a friend recently, about how even knowing how dismal it is, I still go back. She feels it's entertainment, which is true on a bunch of levels.
I mean, here are some quick examples of the headlines on profiles from a recent search and my internal response:

*I'm looking for my new best friend...
No. Just stop. 

*I am currently working on my PhD in computer science and puppetry. 
What?!?

*I am on a journey, no... a quest for a woman who will be my lover/friend/ confidant/trusted companion...my partner in life. 

Oh, hell no. 

And a recent fav:  *I lost my passion in life the day I saw the light fade from the eyes of my beloved wife as she slipped away into Eternity 3 1/2 years ago. It’s a good thing that I can type without looking at my keyboard, since it’s so hard to see the keys through the tears that I shed every time I think of her passing.
Holy christ! Hide the sharps!
This person needs therapy WAY more than I even do!!

So, Entertaining? Yes, but its more than just that I think.
It's this damned hopefulness,which in itself is not bad I dont think. Hope that there's someone that will "fit".
That wont have guns, or smoke cigarettes or vote republican. That wont mind that I am not interested in riding on their motorcycle. (I'm not, stop asking). 
That I find attractive and doesnt mind the last 10 pounds that I cant seem to shed. 
That "gets" my dog and the admittedly codependent relationship I have with him. 
That laughs at my jokes. 

I have TRIED recently. 
I went on dates. 
I had an anxiety attack, because I didn't want to be there but felt like I should try. He was a perfectly nice person, and I really enjoyed talking to him, but that was all. 
I ended up feeling guilty. 

So so helpful. 

And, the proverbial final straw was last night. After having a nice back and forth on email with a witty, educated professional man, I suddenly had a hunch.
 I dont even remember what it was he said, but I knew he voted for trump. 
I asked him directly and he responded honestly. 
Yes. 
Yes?!? 
Why the HELL is this person talking to me?!? My profile on line is dripping with my liberal-ness. I felt violated. 
I got a line or two from him about believing in open minds, blah blah blah. 
No
This conversation is over. 

I shut down my profile. I was disgusted. 

Am I ready to "date"? 
Who the hell knows?!
I know I am NOT dating just to get out of the house. 
In fact, in February in New England, being in my house seems like the best place to be. 

It's warm and cozy and there's always something yummy to eat. 
The dog loves me and the cat loves my lap. 
I talk to my friends and read and watch netflix. 

It is, I think, what I  need. 

The hopefulness is waning, not gonna lie. 
But what I do still feel hope about is that its fine. 
To not be beating my head against the dating room wall. 
To be content in my bubble, waiting for spring and warmth and new beginnings. 


S'all good. 
SG





Saturday, April 15, 2017

Contusion of the soul.


Displaying FullSizeRender.jpg
Mose is ready for anything. 





I would have to say, overall, I feel fairly powerless these days. Our political climate in this country is just ...bad. It's like our country has some sort of terrible disease  and no one is offering any real treatments or options. It's fear, panic, and frustration 24/7. We yell, we march, we protest, we petition, and yet all this SHIT is happening all around us. A tsunami of events that we could not have made up in our worst nightmares is now our reality. 

When 45 dropped that hellish bomb last week, I cried. I was weepy or openly sobbing for hours. I just couldn't get on top of it. The reality of what it must have been like for those people to have this monstrous thing drop down on them, is beyond what I could absorb. I felt stunned.  I know many who felt the same way. I'm crying again while I write this. My very soul feels bruised by this horror. And every day it's something new, isn't it?

Everyday I read some terrible new repulsive thing that our leader is trying to jam down our throats and I could scream. Our leaders, not all but certainly the most visible ones, are apparently lunatics. It is a liberal girls nightmare and just seems to get worse daily. Its UNFATHOMABLE to me and many others, what the hell these people are thinking!! 
Are they thinking??  

On top of this national reality show gone bad is my own small world. 
With my banged up heart. 
Yes, my heart was broken recently-ish. It was not the first time and I'm pretty sure it wont be the last since it seems to be part of the human condition. 
But, holy cow, I really TRIED to not let it happen this time. 
 I did my own personal relationship version of marching, protesting, and petitioning and it still didn't go the way I hoped. This relationship circled the drain for a long time, feeding my hope and letting me believe again. 
It was, shall we say, painful. 
And disheartening. 

I'm fine. 
I mean, don't get me wrong,  there was some days that I felt like I was walking through broken glass trying to find a safe path through the shards. Those days became less and now spring has finally taken hold ( I hope!!) so at least in the small picture, hope can be found. 
We can hope even while sorting through the pain and disappointment and shame ( yes shame, that's another blog) and upset after a situation implodes. 

We NEED to hope. 

Because, here's the thing:
People are just so goddam ...fragile. 
And full of flaws. 
Every fucking one of us. 
We can and should recognize that is the case but it doesn't mean that sweetness isn't there. 
We can find the sweetness and need to remember to look. That is what hope is for me: remembering to look for the sweetness. 

We cant necessarily change the big crappy stuff that's going on around us. YES...we should continue to fight the good fight! Make some noise, scream, yell, march, work with others to change the wrongs. 

But we also have to take the time to hear that small voice inside that says "hey, i could use a little break here, whattya say?" 
And step out of lane for a bit. 
Whether its to take a breather from the big picture insanity or to give your broken heart time to heal. 

So I am trying as hard as I can to stay "present". and in the moment as much as possible in my small but messy life. That's what I am capable of when I feel powerless in the big picture, and that's what I NEED when I am overwhelmed with the small picture. 

Go and find joy in the day. 
Love people. 
Laugh with friends and sometimes cry with them. 
Eat some really yummy food. 
GO OUTSIDE

I plan on hugging my grand girls and watching them run crazy around the yard. 
And walking the Mose
And laughing at myself at least 3 times today. 
You?

S'all good, 

SG




Sunday, April 10, 2016

Come in out of the cold...

Mose says "screw it, Im swimming"


Right now it is Mid- March here in New Hampshire.
Since January we have had a few "snow events" (I love that one), weather in the high 60's, monsoon-like rain ( even some with thunder!) and yesterday I drove home in a sleet/rain/snow mix.
As of today it's cold and we have a snowstorm predicted for this weekend.

Welcome to New England, where we say: if you don't like the weather just wait a minute.
Where we have our winter fleece lined boots next to the door with our flip flops 9 out of 12 months. Everyone I know keeps hats and gloves in the car year round pretty much.

I'm not complaining.
Ok, yes I am.
I am not normally a grouchy type except when it's COLD.
As I reflect on this winter, which was relatively mild especially compared to LAST winter, (and yes, I know it's probably not over!) I can still affirm that I don't like the cold.

This winter I was invited to go DOG-SLEDDING in the moonlight.
Dog-sledding.
My response..." you mean,,, outside?"
This person then ( you have to give him points for persistence) suggested "ok, what about on a nice bright sunny day?"
It was January.
In New Hampshire, in January,  there does not exist a day bright or sunny enough to entice me to ride swiftly through it.

I dont like the cold.
I dont like to BE cold..
I hate it.
And No,,,Hate is not too strong a word here.

Obviously, I live in New England so I have to cope with the cold. My life is here, my children and friends,(people should just stop asking "well, why don't you move south?") but it doesn't mean I automatically enjoy the long cold months that we endure here.
It means I spend a lot of time inside.

Winter here is l...o...n...g..., months and months. It's not that unusual to get snow in November and not too long ago we even had a helluva Halloween storm. The snow and unsteady weather will continue well into April for sure, frequently with those sadistic teasers of 60+ temps for a few days before dropping another 18 inches of the white stuff.

Mother Nature, she is cruel.

In the area I live I  am most likely in the minority, with my "avoid the outdoors" attitude. Many in my community take the stance of "if you cant beat it, go snowshoeing" ( I do not UNDERSTAND snowshoeing, by the way. WHY are we doing this?)
I am not in that group and I feel comfortable with that.
I used to TRY.
I used to accept invitations to go skating, or sledding or even just hiking in the snow.
I always regretted it, cold and miserable ( YES..I WAS dressed appropriately!)
And it was definitely different when my kids were younger.
For the sake of "good clean fun" the boys and I did lots outside.
But now?
I'm done with that stuff.

In my mid-life quest to be "authentic" I got really honest about me and the cold.
I realized that I have choices here and one of those choices was to just avoid the cold.
So, I sure as hell am not accepting any more invitations to winter frolics on the ice.
If I'm really honest, I dont accept many invitations at all in the winter. I just want to be home, ok?

I work out in the community several days a week, slogging in and out of whatever weather is happening. I find it exhausting and depressing. I worry about slipping and falling ( yes, I wear the cleat thingys on my shoes). I worry about getting in an accident. I worry about not being able to stop before hitting the moron pedestrians who step into the city streets without looking. I arrive home at the end of the day, in the DARK, completely depleted. It's a "race to the flannel" and coziness, maybe as early as 7pm. And usually comfort food on the couch.

**Several weeks later

Ok, so now its the second week in April. We had 4-5 inches of snow last week,
which made everyone (ok, me) grouchy. Then we had a couple warm days and now its cold, and wet and grey.It's like spring is TRYING to pull herself out of the ditch but cant quite make it. The forecast is for a week of 40 degree days, which could honestly change at any minute.

Soapbox alert:

I should mention that I realize there are bigger issues here, other than me just being grumpy about the weather. It's not just about wanting to wear flip flops but having to deal with ice instead.
There are scary things happening with our climate and science is trying its DAMNEDEST to tell us to get off the stick and DO something.
I believe we are slowly getting the message, but it sure would be nice if we could pick up the pace a bit.
The new term I've been hearing for this environmental issue is "climate disruption".
I like it, it works. it  does feel "disruptive".
 But we can disrupt the disruption!
We CAN and NEED to be proactive and quick.
I would urge everyone to educate themselves and look for local initiatives to support.

Here are some tips from my friend Bob the Green Guy.

1. Lower your need for fossil fuel based energy as much as you can, as fast as you can.
2. Generate as much electricity yourself as much as you can.

 Bob has a lot of great tips on how we can be good stewards to our planet at his website and Facebook page.
http://bobthegreenguy.com/
https://www.facebook.com/BobTheGreenGuy/?pnref=lhc

And here's an user friendly article I liked:
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/anna-wilding/people-of-earth-scientist_b_9613042.html

On this cold-but-sunny Sunday Morning I hope you are all well (when WILL this damn cough end?), and warm, and enjoy whatever your day holds.
Since it is below 50 outside, I'll be right here, with Mose and TIppy and too many cups of tea.
Looks like a good day to read.
S'all good
SG














Sunday, September 13, 2015

Room mates and deal breakers




My room mates are jerks....

One overeats to the point of vomiting on a regular basis, (usually in my clothes or somewhere equally disgusting that I find at inopportune moments,) and is a ridiculous prima dona.
The other chews up my underwear if given half a chance (clean or dirty, doesnt matter),  begs for food constantly and frequently smells bad as he takes up half the bed.

I adore both of them.

My cat Tippy and my dog Mose are my room mates.
They are non-judgmental, always happy to see me and don't care where I move the furniture.
I am, unreservedly, in love with them both....
but especially the dog.
ESPECIALLY the dog..
He is just...my guy.

So, when looking for someone to date, the dog is a factor for me.
Is that wrong?
I don't care.

I need to be able to see a potential boyfriend 2 ways for it to work for me:
1. Would he fit in with my friends AKA Team Swannygirl?
2. Would he be good with the Mose?
    By "good" I mean he GETS it...that I love the dog.
That the dog is a huge part of my life.
That I cant make plans without considering the dog.

When I get a note from a prospect online, one of the first things I check is his answer to this compatibility question on the dating website:
"Would you ever let a pet sleep on the bed?"
If his answer is a firm "NO", I dont really see any reason to continue, do you?

That, dear reader, is what's known as a "deal breaker" in the dating world.
I have other deal breakers that you have may have  read about here:
guns, wanting me to ride on your motorcycle, and smoking.
Being politically conservative isn't even a deal breaker,
it's a "why are you talking to me?"

Some may say I am too rigid.
But this is not my first time at this rodeo. I have been more "flex" in the past and after a certain point you just know the things you can compromise on and the things you cant. I'm at the point where value of a relationship has to be strong enough to cancel out the convenience and enjoyment of being alone.

That's right, I said it...ENJOYMENT of being alone. It's just,,easier sometimes.
Ok, a lot of times.

I've had this conversation with other women, and for the most part they all agree, especially the single ones that are 50 -ish. Of course women that are in long term relationships also recognize that compromise is the name of winning that game.
BIG compromise sometimes.
I know a couple who are polar opposites politically. They just never, NEVER talk about politics.
Ever.
It seems to work for them.
 I know I could not do it.I have tried to figure out WHY you would even want to, but I came up with nothing...
unless?
One of them "evolved" during the course of the relationship? Maybe they were on the same page in the beginning?

We notice that some things are tolerable if you have been with the person for a longer period of time, and certain things "evolve". Maybe your guy didn't have that annoying habit 15 years ago but one morning you wake up and realize that the way he flosses his teeth while watching tv at the breakfast table is beyond annoying.
However....
It would not necessarily be a deal breaker.
It snuck up on you.
You have put in some time with this person, you've both made an investment. You have both changed while "aging in place" together. You have BOTH acquired new habits and personal quirks. After spending years with a person you tend not to notice or just plain overlook. ( or so I'm told..sigh).
But...
If you meet someone new with out of control ear hair ( do people not have mirrors??),  or terrible teeth, or the need to have Fox news on the telly 24/7, you may not feel like exploring that relationship further.
It's at this point that hanging out with the dog looks mighty fine.

Here's is one thing I hear ALL THE TIME from women my age-ish who are in long term relationships:
"If he died tomorrow, god forbid ( they always say "god forbid"...always) I would never live with a man again.
What's that all about?
To me it says these women are happy/content with their relationships but are recognizing that it's, well, perhaps not all it's cracked up to be. That life may possibly be simpler without a "room mate". Really successful couples I know seem to have in common the ability to live together but separate. They tend to each have their own lives and certainly don't expect the other person to meet all needs for them.
But it's more than that.
It's about SPACE.
We get to a certain age, especially if you have lived alone at ALL leading up to a relationship, and we don't want to compromise as much anymore. Once you've had a taste of that freedom, yes FREEDOM, to come and go as you please, to leave your shoes wherever you want, to eat cereal for dinner 3 nights in a row without comment from someone, or to have the dog on the bed,,.it's hard to go back.  We like having our things "just so".
Having another person in our hard won space feels overwhelming.

I had a conversation about this recently with a friend, who is beautiful and also single. She said that, although she's open to meeting someone, she feels she has her "force shield" up against men...not really sure if she wants anyone too near.
I know what she's talking about.
I am lonely ..a lot.
But I also kind of like being alone.... a lot.
When I consider letting someone in, I clench up.
I don't think this is unique to 50-something women either. I know at least one of my male friends who struggles with this. He loves his girlfriend but doesn't necessarily want to share space with her full time.
It may be an introvert/extrovert issue...I tend to refuel with time alone. I love my "team" but find it exhausting to spend too much time in the company of others.
Or it really may just be that as we age, and have the opportunity to nurture our personal space, it becomes harder to give it up for another.

Here's what I've come up with recently, by way of a partial explanation (and  thank the holy cheezits for therapy and friends).
I don't want to be with people that I cant be myself with.
There....
Seems obvious, right?
But it's so hard!! And if you have been in one ( or more) relationships where you COULDNT be yourself, you tend to be a bit gun-shy.

Another idea that recently came to light for me:
Relationships don't necessarily have to look like other people's relationships,
 or even what other people's IDEA of what relationships should look like.
Why do I have to WANT to live with someone in order to want a relationship?
Why do 2 people who are in a relationship need to live together?
WHY?!

My amazing friend, lets call her Anne,  is living this out real time. She has a lovely man in her life, they love and appreciate each other and are committed to the relationship. Through a series of life events they found themselves at THE crossroads, you know, the one where you have to make a DECISION. He needed to move out of his place. Was it "time" to cohabitate? Didn't that make sense?
But...they found themselves asking if that is what they really wanted. They had a perfectly lovely relationship and spent just the right amount of time together. There was not a burning desire to spend ALL their time together.  So they didn't. Instead, they built a picture that worked for them, a new model that takes who they are into consideration.
Anne stayed in her lovely apartment where she is happy and her partner, who was ready to buy, did just that. They are both happy and relieved with the arrangement.
This gives me hope.

So....I think a lot about community.
And "place"...where do I fit in and how do I get there? And who do I want there with me (other than the dog)?
Where can I most be myself?

While I work on these and other burning issues, you'll see me around town walking the Mose, who can not WAIT to get home and lie on my bed with his wet self.

S'all good.
SG









Saturday, August 1, 2015

Family ick




Mom

I live 7-ish hours away from where I grew up.
My immediate family is still there...all within a 10 mile radius of my Grandparents farm, which is now owned by an Amish family. We suffered the plight of the small farmer like so many others, and sold out to a corporation many years ago but recently the Amish have been scooping up property, which I say... HOORAY about!
I digress...

Recently, I learned that my Mother, who lives in a nursing facility, was moved to a different facility in my hometown. 
This is how I learned of it:
My best friend from childhood texted it to me after hearing it from her husband who heard it from the guy who owns the gas station who is a friend of my brother.


Didja get that?

 My sister is my Mother's medical proxy but wouldn't think to tell me this info herself.
We'll get to that later...

When my uncle had a stroke a few months ago he got help because the girl from the bank had called and didn't like how he sounded on the phone, so she called my cousin ( who she had gone to high school with) and he called his Dad ( Uncles brother) and they both went over there to find he had had a stroke.
I heard about it (7 hours away) from my cousin within 2 hours, texted my sister (who is local to them) who was irritated that she hadn't heard sooner, and tried to tell my brother, but he already knew from someone at the corner store. And he had already been to the hospital to check on him. My sister's nose was out of joint, she hates being last to know.

Phew...
Want another?

A couple years ago my cousin Facebook messaged me that he had heard an ambulance call on the police scanner go to my Fathers house but he didn't know what for. He made a couple calls (his boys work in law enforcement) and found out my Uncle (same one..) had fallen down some stairs and broken some ribs.  I texted my sister and she called my brother who already knew from our father. They went to the hospital before my uncle had been seen. Yes, my sister was again irritated that I found out before her.

Ok, one more...
My Childhood friend told me that she had heard my father was in the hospital but wasn't sure with what. I called my brother who told me Dad had had some issue (aortic aneurysm ) that was fairly serious but that he was having surgery and would be OK. My sister, however, had not been told and found out about it at a funeral visiting hours that night and nearly had a heart attack herself because no one had told her, literally ripping into my brother when he arrived to pay his respects to the un-related dead person.
She called me to tell me and was PO'd all over again when she realized even I had known before her and I live in a different state.

So , you may be asking "what's with all the fun alternative communication methods?"
No, it's not a party game or a creative way to connect with family.
It is, in fact , a way to NOT connect with family.

My family is a hot mess...
We dont talk.

Well, some of us do,,,,,sometimes.
But really?
Not consistently.
And some ?
Never.

When I say "family" I mean  my immediate fam: Mother, father, sister, brother.
My parents have been divorced for over 35 years,,,So there's a Step-mother in there as well.
I have cousins that I am VERY close to and I have people in the community where I live that I consider family.
But my family of origin unit..?
Not so much.

It's probably my fault, I'm willing to own it.
I'm willing to own that my tolerance level for ,,,toxic ka-phlooey  (I usually call it something much ruder) is at an all time low with these people.
I cant deal with them.

Here's a rough sketch of the terrain:
For me, it kind of started with my mother. She is mentally ill. She was abusive to me ( and my siblings, but I will only speak for me) our whole growing up years.
 It sucked,,,,but I maintained a relationship with her.
Until I just ....couldn't.
I hit a wall when I was around 21-ish. My parents were divorcing ( FINALLY..christ all-mighty), and I was running interference between them.(Middle child bull-shit)
 Mom's level of crazy escalated and my level of tolerance plummeted.
After one particularly painful episode of blatant lying I said "enough".
 I wrote her a letter...I said "I'm done" and that was that.
It was a healthy decision for me.
 I never doubted it or regretted it.

Then things got messy with the rest of the group. Suffice it to say that at one point or another  all of us have had it out and/or stopped talking to everyone else.
Either as individuals or as the group.
My father and step mother were mad at my brother. They wouldn't talk to him.
Then they were mad at me. They wouldn't talk to me.
Then they WEREN'T mad at my brother and I, but boy-oh-boy, were they ever mad at my sister.
My father and sister stopped talking to each other.
My sister wanted to rant about my father to me and my father wanted to rant about my sister.
I politely declined.
They both got mad.
My brother pretends he is Switzerland but he's not. He talks to my father. He lectures me (in the rare conversation I may have with him) about being nice to my father, about how I should continue to reach out even though I have had ZERO response for years, and who has not spoken to me IN OVER 5 YEARS.
And......
I HAVE NO IDEA WHY!!
So, anyhoo.... it's friggin exhausting..

It may be worth pointing out that I am the only screaming liberal in the group.

Telling other people that I dont have relationships with my family, seeing their reactions, has made me realize that perhaps not all families have this level of crazy bullshit happening.
That they don't get a sick feeling in their stomach at the thought of seeing immediate family.
That they don't go into hyper-vigilant mode if they are in the same zip code as family. (When I am "home" I am constantly looking over my shoulder like some crazy paranoid escapee).
That they are able to have a respectful disagreement with a family member without it turning into a side show at the carnival.
You know, like ADULTS.

But it has also made me realize that many have just as much crazy bullshit, if not more.
And those are the people that I form an immediate kinship with.

When is it OK to let go of people in your life that feel "unhealthy" to hang onto, even if those people happen to be related to you?
When is it OK to set boundaries with your family that may include not communicating with them?
If you google "family estrangement" you will find a LOT of articles and stories...clearly this is not an issue only in my small universe.
But to pretend it's a comfortable situation is not possible either.

I usually just don't tell people anymore, I say something vague like "We're not close"...Or "We are very different."

This last trip to my home town, I reconnected with my mother after a 30+ year estrangement.
I know, I KNOW,,,,it sounds big.
But.... it just felt like time, I finally felt like I could do it, so I did.
I didn't need or want a lot of fanfare, it was a short but very satisfying visit for both of us. As her Social Worker said, it seemed to be a "healing event" on both parts.

My sister wanted, and tried hard, to turn it into a drama. I don't know her reasons, I frankly don't care. I am just grateful that I was able to not engage with her about this as I did what felt right. I was able to NOT engage because of the amazing support that I had from my tribe, the people who love me and care for me and have my back, as I have theirs.

Maybe someday my siblings and I will reconnect.
Who knows, stranger things have happened.
None of us are getting any younger, that's for damn sure.

In the meantime, I'll wait for word of them from my brother's wife's friend who's married to a cousin of a guy I went to high school with.

S'all good
SG















Saturday, July 18, 2015

The Friend Zone...



Mose says " Dont forget to enjoy the view"




Sometimes,,,? 
It's just about connecting. Not romance. 
I'm pretty sure that was not the intention of the online sites (although, to be fair, "friendship" is one of the status options) but it happens. 
Well, it happens for ME. 
How?


I believe, contrary to the belief of many, that heterosexual men and women can be friends.
It takes transparency and honesty from both parties. 

Transparency to any  significant others involved  (if its really a friendship then you should have no problem talking about it) , and honesty that you are being true to your feelings (are you REALLY only interested in being friends?). 

I see lots of funny, bright, well thought out profiles online. People obviously putting some thought and effort into the process. These are the ones that I may send a note to, even if they are too far away, to just say "hey, nice job! You made me laugh, points were scored, have a nice day." These are the men I could see having a "friend connection" with. 

But those profiles are rare. Many profiles read like a resume, or merely a list of ACTIVITIES.

People who like to:
Ride mountain bike
Cross country ski
Downhill ski
Hang glide
Trail run
Ride motocross
Bungie jump
Ball room dance ( really?!?)
Snowshoe
Kayak/canoe/paddle board
Fish
Hunt
Golf
Bowl
Did I miss anything? 
Oh wait, yes, wine and beer tours........

The really interesting thing? I have seen MANY of these on the same profile....
My reaction? These people are nuts. 
Or really really busy. 
They are NOT going to be happy with me. 
Not that I'm a slug,,,but I just, you know, like to be home ,,,,occasionally. I'm a great.."putterer". I hang around the house. I hang out in town, drinking coffee, chatting with friends, reading, RELAXING. 
When I see a laundry list of ACTIVITIES like this I think " Does this man even WORK?"

I have been approached by these men and, after reading their interests /hobbies list I usually say something like " Buddy, You will not be happy hanging out with me". 
And, many times they respond with " but wouldn't you like to LEARN skiing /cycling/ bowling/shooting/golf / blah blah blah...

No.....
I would not. 
Full disclosure: I DO kayak, just not for hours or days or on white water. 
And I DO  hike, just not on trails that require special training and rations and safety equipment. 
And I prefer it if I can bring my dog. Please. 
And I'll GO fishing ...if I can bring a book and a chair to park my butt in. Go fish your little heart out pal, I'll be here with the cooler and my book. 

So, reading through the profiles with a discerning eye for one that perhaps shows a person worth exploring is ...let's say, challenging. And I try to remember that not everyone is comfortable writing, Or talking about themselves. Or speaking in full sentences apparently.

How do you know when one is worth a little more effort on YOUR part? How to find that diamond in the rough, or even find that potential friend connection?

I get a note from this guy:
"Hi. Let's connect. Ron"
My first impulse is to delete and move on. I mean seriously? 
 I take a quick look at his profile and he's...cute. But the profile is, let's say, sparse. 
There's just really not much there. 
At this point dear reader, depending on the day  and my level of loneliness or boredom, is when I may start to fabricate. It's a tempting part of the online experience. 
"Maybe his profile is new and he hasn't had time to fill it in"
"Maybe he's super busy at his high-powered job and just wants to see if anyone is interested"
Whatever the reason, I don't hit delete.
 I respond:
"Hi Ron 
thanks for the note. I would need to know a lot more about you before we "connect". Your profile is pretty sparse. Hope you have a good day!


That response, for me, is pretty ..polite. 
For me. 
And I assumed that he, like so many others, would abort the mission when realizing that he had a live, thinking female on the other end. 
But he didn't.
 He stepped up and sent a thoughtful, informative and witty response. 
Let the conversation begin. 
And it DID! 
We chatted online. Then exchanged phone numbers. And, ohmygod, did we ever TALK!
For hours, about all kinds of things. 
I give good phone.....it's my "thing"...
But, even for me, this was good. He and I connected all right. 
Both having fun, both sharing and interested. 
We made a plan to meet.
Big anticipation. 
And?
Nope. It just wasn't there face to face. For either of us I think, but definitely for me. 
yes, yes, yes,,,I can hear you all screaming "It was only one date, give it a chance!"
But you know what? I've been doing this awhile. And I HAVE given others longer, because I felt I "should" ( I hate that word,,should)...and that just doesn't work. 
Not only does it not work, 
it makes me hella cranky. 
I would rather be home with the dog...

The problem was with this guy, is we that liked each other in lots of other ways. I didn't want to lose someone completely that I felt a connection with.
So, 
we are friends. We check in with each other and still have long phone conversations, although not as much since he met a lovely woman who he DID feel something for face to face. He has told her about this friendship ( transparency) and maybe she and I will even meet one day and become friends too. 

So, unique and isolated incident?
Nope

As of today, I have at least 4 (not counting Swannydude, who is my cosmic twin and family) 
male friends. Buddies. Bros as one of them calls me. 

There's Ron, who is a therapist, a really GOOD one I would say judging from our hours long chats, who is so much fun to laugh with. And get real with. We both are good at exploring the dark side of who we are and accepting it about ourselves and each other. 

There's the Santa guy ( don't ask) who I met years ago online, we dated for a month and then realized that wasn't going to work. But he's fun, and funny and kind so we stay in touch. Some periods we talk every day and others we go for weeks. But I know he's there. 

There's my sweet friend who lives right in town, he is not an online connection. I love both he and his wife, but he and I are chums and I cherish that friendship. He checks in with me to make sure I'm "ok" ...it's so comforting. 

And then there's "B"...who I adore. He's an artist, and dark and a bit broody. He and I click on many many levels, but I knew right away that being in a relationship with him was not something that would, let's say, enhance my life. I think we would end up hating each other and I love him too much to want that to happen. We connect almost every day and it feels like a gift. He is not afraid to tease me and I am not afraid to give him a kick in the pants when needed. He is my truest supporter. I can tell him my deepest darkest and he can tell me his. 
B is in a relationship with a wonderful woman who he actually met around the same time as me, and who is perfect for him in many ways. Except she is threatened a bit by our friendship, which is definitely the fly in the ointment. I hope we meet, so she can love me too. I'll bring cookies. 
In the meantime all I can do is be honest about my feelings and enjoy the friendship we have. 

So while I keep checking and exploring and hanging out with the dog, I'll soak up the treasure that friendship brings. 
S'all good. 

SG










Sunday, June 21, 2015

So...Ireland.

Some wee castle in Ireland....


From Lookin4luv:

"I AM LOOKING FOR LOVE, WILL SOMEONE FIND ME!!!.WHY IS LOVE SO HARD TO FIND??. WHERE are ALL the good women?? There are days I wonder, WHY can't I find someone??..Who would of thought at 50+ years old I would be looking to start a new relationship?...I am looking for someone to love and share life. Not looking for someone who when things get difficult runs away. I am not the typical man, enjoy spending a quite night at home with my mate. Seeking encouragement from a great woman!! I am not very handsome, so if you are into looks, move on. I have beauty in my heart. I am looking for someone to spend the rest of my life with!!!"

Mother of god, calm DOWN!!!

wow.....

How DO people connect?
What does it mean to connect?
How do people, singles, FIND each other in the thousand upon thousands of choices.
Chance Encounter?
Fate?

I met a man online and went to Ireland to meet him.

There.....
I said it.

It wasn't quite that simple...

or quick.
But that is the gist of it.

Here's the thing...

I  like connecting...
or really, communicating.
I NEED to communicate. 
Part of my online profile:

I am a communicator....!!
It's what jazzes me up and revs my engine. Talk to me....
About my day,
About your day,
about big and small ideas,
about how ridiculous life is because it sure as hell can be!
If you dont like to talk on the phone,,,or text,,,or chat....You may not enjoy me... :-)   


I got a note from a guy recently,  who seemed interested in connecting. I checked him out. Nice looking, seemed like an adult, etc..so I said "Sure, how do you feel about calling?"


I get this back:

Ahhhhhh terrible esp if I don't know the other person.

It may be better if we do the 20 question routine.

Let me know your thoughts. Thank you, R


Um...ok. 

But how were you wanting to CONNECT?!?

When I first started playing online, I would just chat via text. Then I progressed to the phone, if the man I was talking to seemed safe. 

I will say, it has back fired a couple times, and here is why:
I am good on the phone. I am comfortable and chatty, I put people at ease and foster a sense of, shall we say, intimacy. No, not phone sex....
SHARING.
Of ideas, and feelings, and life. 
Its great, except, 
It's not real. 
It creates a heightened sense of artificial closeness. And when you finally meet that person, frequently the flesh and blood version is a bit.....lacking perhaps? 

Like the guy with BO so bad I could smell him from 4 feet away. 

But great on the phone. 
Or the guy who's pics were clearly not only NOT recent, they were not from this DECADE. 
(Think Colonal Sanders crossed with Gollum...not good) 
But great on the phone. 
Or the guy with terrible teeth, I mean terrible, who taught me to always check profile pics for shots of them smiling. 
Totally great on the phone.  

 I guess this all  sounds a bit shallow. But connecting is such a fragile science. 

If I were to meet any one of these people BEFORE chatting, we wouldn't BE chatting. 
Is that bad? 
Or is it just that I have learned what I can compromise on and what I cant?
Shouldn't we all be paying attention to that?

I am also 100% sure that it is not just one sided on my part, although no one has come right out and said it (But you sounded so much ....thinner)

Or some men loose sight of the fact that talking on the phone, regardless of the level of discussion, does NOT constitute a commitment on my part to spending the bulk of my spare time for the foreseeable future with them. 
This "communicating" stuff is part of the PROCESS...
One guy and I connected well but I realized that it just wasn't going to go further since he lived 2+ hours away and had sole custody of a 9yo boy. (yes, I am serious, I am not interested) This man was NOT going down without a fight ,,,,he campaigned for a couple weeks  ("my son and I want you in our lives!") trying to convince me that it "was worth it"  and I did finally have to block him.
 But those times are rare. 

Back to Ireland. 

This man, we'll call him Jack, and I connected. We messaged quite a bit online, then moved to email. Soon we had exchanged phone numbers, although international calling was not handy. We even got to where we were having Skype "dates". I was aware that it was kind of , well, crazy, 
but it was so fun! 
And we could CONNECT. 
Jack got the whole talking thing. 
He told me about him, he asked about me, he sent me thoughtful bits through out the week that let me know he was thinking of me.
It was really exactly what feeds me. 

And one day, I just knew, I wanted to go meet him.

 "What the hell" I thought "I can go to Ireland!"
So I did. 
And?
It was great. 
Mostly.....
Jack was an attentive and gracious host. ( His terrier of a Scottish woman  room mate was another matter) and we traveled all over Northern and western Ireland. 
I had a great vacation. 
But, although it was a bit of a fling, we both suspected that it was not THE romance that we both hoped for.  
For one thing, we moved at a very different pace of life. The whole time I was there I was itching to move...DO something. Typical American I guess but it was not to be ignored. Jack was more, let's say, sedate. 
And I stood out a few other times as ...AMERICAN. 
"What do you mean there's no hot water?!?"
" That is NOT a large ice water. Try using your biggest BEER glass" ( what IS it about ice water there? Completely baffling) 

Anyhoo.....


Then there was the dinner incident. 

We had traveled all day, and Jack suggested a burger place he knew about in the town that was "simple".. I said fine. 
We walked in and,,,,I turned into the biggest American princess EVER. 
It was filthy. It was 2 steps BELOW  McDonalds. There was no pretense of actual food on the menu. 
 I looked at him, waiting for him to come to the same conclusion I had , that there was no way we could eat there. 
He was happily perusing the menu. 
I didnt speak up ( a bloody miracle) and ordered food that i thought maybe i could manage. 
I couldnt. 
He ate mine and his. 
We went back to bed& breakfast with his 4 evening tall boys of Stella Artois. ( Another red flag for me...EVERY night, 4 tall cans of cheap beer GUZZLED down....)

I didnt want this to MATTER. We connected so well, we really seemed to communicate. Except, for me, the spell was broken. How could someone who "knew" me think it would be ok to take me to that place for dinner ( OK, I get that I can be a princess, but whatever). And then just chomp down my dinner as well as his without thinking something may be ..wrong?


The rest of the trip was fine, in many many ways. I loved Ireland. When I left he expressed wanting to come visit me in New England. I just needed to get home, so we didnt talk much about it. 

You know what?
He did come. 
And any lingering doubts about our connection being stronger than my concerns were quickly put to rest, best summed up by saying that he drank too much and showered too little. 
He told a friend on Facebook (Note: do not leave your Facebook page open around me) that I was "difficult" in my home environment. 
He laid on my couch, eating, drinking and reading for the whole time he was here. 
He left early. 
No, I did not kick him out. 
Yes, I asked him to stop drinking in my house. 

It was a learning experience. 


What did I learn?

That, while I like communicating,  and I am drawn to it and easily seduced by it, 
it is not the whole enchilada. 
Connecting is fragile and complex. 
It is seeing the other persons face while you talk. 
It is processing body language and demeanor.
 It's their eyes and smell and smile. 
Is that shallow?
 I dont think it is. 
I believe its the chemistry, the magic, of falling in love. 
Isnt it?

I cant wait to do it again......


S'all good....


SG