This one’s done..can I get another?

Image result for broken bodyThe world needs another post about Trump today like I need another 1st date. So instead I’m obsessing about how knackered my body is. Not just tired, but worn out. Done. Ready for recycling. Broken.

Ok, a little bit of an overstatement, but I so feel busted. Hot on the heels from an ENT appointment about my growing allergy to everything living thing, last week I learned that my nose is busted. One side hasn’t worked for a year or so, and the other side is thinking of decamping to Canada. The impact – that I start suffocating when I’m swimming, hiking, riding, running – is a bit of a challenge but “a simple surgery” with fix it.

The last “simple surgery” took a year off my life, left a hole in my shoulder and added a stone (14lbs) to my ass. I still hurt every day from the “simple-ness” of it all (though my  shoulder makes a great hook for a handbag and stores rainwater).

Next up my knees. I’ve always ridden bikes and I’ve run for 20 or so years including quite a few half marathons. Today.. my doctor says I have the knees of a 65-year-old with no cartilage left and torn fascia. But guess what…. ? A “simple surgery” can help eliminate the problem and have me up on the slopes by spring.

I”m noticing a trend here. I’m broken, but not beyond repair.

Except I’m scared of “simple” anything. After all, this election was meant to be “easy” back when we found out a Cheeto was running…

It seems as we age, anything becomes possible. Surgeries are so “simple” they’re not even called surgery anymore. “Procedures” sound more like what I do when putting on a sports bra.. but every doc I see is aching to offer me one in order to fix my failing bits.

Instead I’ve decided I’m opting for all new, all in one. I’m thinking about a full body transplant. An unemployed millennial fresh from a sofa. They’re not using their bodies, and it would be so damn wonderful to ride my bike without clenching at the pain, walk down the stairs like normal (instead of crabwalking with shrieks) or stand up without an ‘oomph’ and a moment to compose myself.

Yes I might have unshaved legs for the rest of my life,  wear a stupid beany while talking about my ‘woke baes’ but I’d trade it for what I’m working with.

No-one needs this many shrieks and moans at 44.  Not unless a Cheeto is talking.

Who’s with me?

 

 

Teeth

This story starts with tea. English BreakfImage result for tea stained teethast to be specific but I’ll take Irish, Earl Grey and Darjeeling if that’s whats available. Because I drink a lot of tea.. and by a lot I mean boxes. My current record is 160 decaf cups and 80 caffeinated cups in one month.  Which  totals ~8 cups a day, a number that still seems sorta low based on the average work day. But still, it’s a lot of tea.

And tea stains your teeth badly. Ever wondered why British people over the age of 35 start to resemble smokers, and in late life Austin Powers… tea. That and no fluoride in the water.  But mainly its the tea. Years up years of tea.

Since I moved to the US and benefited from an aggressive dentist, diligent upkeep and the odd surgery or two, I’ve managed to keep the tea patina on my teeth to a minimum. But when applying a new lip gloss in full sunlight I noticed my pegs starting to look remarkable ‘tinted’. Time to follow my new US brethren to the land of bleach.

Americas love bleach. In their hair, in their water, on their butt holes… it’s a country and that likes things clean and sparkling white. So trays in hand I headed home to restore my mouth to a positively virginal state. No big deal.

Except no-one tells you that you have to wear these things for AGES. The package said 2-3 hours, but after 25 minutes my saliva had dried up to a crust and I desperately needed a drink. So I pulled off a tray and wiped away the gunk to see how it was doing…. nothing. No change whatsoever. Fucker.

Back in with the trays.

After an hour passed I got thirsty. Since my mouth was full of bleach and plastic, and the package mentioned ‘only white liquids or foods for 24 hours after bleaching’.. so milky tea then.

I make a cup of the worlds weakest tea, and then realized the tea would simply swish away the bleaching gunk. So a straw then?

What single woman over the age of 7 owns a straw?

After rifling through my cupboards I figured I had two options

  • Drip the tea onto my tongue using an eye dropper
  • Try licking up the tea like a cat.
  • Dribbling the tea down my throat using a tea-spoon by laying my head backwards and aiming between the trays.

Lets just say I found a way to get the tea into my mouth.

The burns will heal in a few more days and they do take your eyes off my slightly yellow teeth.

Its 52 days until Christmas

Its 52 days until Christmas… and Hallmark is already 5 days into its ‘Countdown to Image result for christmas movieChristmas’ movie-thon.

For those not in the know (people with a life), every year Hallmark kicks off its “Countdown to Christmas” program of non stop Christmas movies between Halloween (yes, you read it right), and New Years Day.

Yes, ‘non stop’. As in all-damn-day-long.  Yes as you’re busy trying to untangle your fake cobwebbing from the bushes, and breathing a sigh of relief that Thanksgiving is still weeks away you could have been partaking in such delights as ‘The Best Christmas Party Ever” or ‘The Christmas Parade’.

But don’t fear, I”m here to catch you up on what you might have missed, and to whet your appetite for two.whole.months of Christmas.

In the mood for some bad puns? How about “Its Christmas, Carol!” or “Fir Crazy”? Image result for hallmark christmas moviesHysterical right?

Want to keep the focus purely on the family? “Home & Family”, “Baby’s First Christmas” or “Family for Christmas” should mentally nauseate you into rethinking that trip to Hawaii for the holidays.

How about a little chuckle? “A Very Merry Mix up”,   “A Christmas Detour” or the “Santa Incident” sound like occasions for some laughs. Of the most soporific kind.

Romance – of course – is a huge feature of Christmas and for all you single ladies out there, the choices are positively awash this November ?? Get inspired!!

“Tis the Season for Love” (I thought it was Turkey)

“Matchmaker Santa” (because that’s who I want choosing my lover)

“Single Santa Seeks Mrs. Claus’ (Nothing sexier than a beard and some boots)

“A Boyfriend for Christmas” (does he arrive in stockings?)

“A Bride for Christmas” (That’s one for Santa’s list )

“Snow Bride” (or as we call it, spring weddings in Colorado)

“A Holiday Engagement” (sounds like a trip to the OBGYN)

“A Princess for Christmas” (just for Christmas?)

“Hitched for the Holidays” (because they’re not stressful enough)

“Santa Switch” (now this sounds promising)

“A Divas Christmas Carol” (the only one not married or dating this season)

“Merry Matrimony” (whoever they are, I hate them already)

“Northpole” (if he’s Italian, send him over please)

I seriImage result for hallmark christmas moviesously gave up listing movies here as I was starting to sense that a)the only people watching Hallmark are single ladies who dream about fantastical situations where they find themselves suddenly dressed up like Elsa in Frozen and b) I realized that I was one of those people and c) I felt nauseous.

<insert diatribe on social norms and media stereotypes>

So there you have it.. a brief selection of “movies”, (yes movies with casts and cameras and money being spent) from the now-in-progress Hallmark ‘Countdown to Christmas’.  Going on 24 hours a day for the next 2 months. Set your DVR.

Mazel Tov.

Note to Self: You do not want romance for Christmas. You want gloves.

Drowning not waving

Image result for drowning in the poolI’m terrified of deep water. If I can’t stand up in it then I’m a) clinging to the nearest stationary and solid object b) peeing in terror and c) screaming.

I’d like to think that it’s this which made me such a great sailor for all those years; abject fear of ending up in the water is a fantastic motivator to staying upright.  I learned how to capsize and right a boat only getting my feet wet.. mainly because I swim like a stone.

The signs weren’t good from the get go. Early swimming lessons at the local pool with my sister kicked off with a lesson in floating. As my body sank to the bottom of the pool and my very very short life flashed before my eyes, it was only the shouting of my mother from the balcony “Grab your sister NOW” that assured my existence. Needless to say, I didn’t take my feet off the bottom of the pool for the next 20 years.

Fast forward to 40 something and in the midst of a life crisis it came to me. I needed to learn how to be comfortable in the pool. Maybe..if I could swim with ease… I’d have one less thing to be terrified of  and live happily ever after. (with a pool)

As I now embark on my 4th set of private lessons I’m still terrified in any pool over 4ft deep. I have my strokes down pat but as soon I see the bottom of the pool deepening I’m heading to the bottom await my drowning. And this time, my sister’s hand is 4,200 miles away.

I’ve tried chanting, wearing fins, closing my eyes, looking ahead instead of down and even Valium. Nothing. Choking, panic, snorting and inhalation of an awful lot of water and once, a lifeguard actually ran to help me..  and still.. nothing makes it less horrid.

So maybe I’ll see you at the pool. I’ll be the one looking for the life lesson wearing horse blinkers and a noodle.   Be sure to look for my wave.

How not to get a tattoo

catbuttFollow these simple rules and avoid scarring your body with some unintelligible, stupid or downright embarrassing ink forever!!!!

  1. Do not awake from a dream with an idea that having this THING inked on you will bring you insight and joy for the remainder of your days. This is why it is called a dream. It belongs in clouds and your subconscious.. not anywhere anyone can see it while you are naked.
  2. Do not get a tattoo if you think it will make you cool. Tattoos do not make you cool. No one with the words ‘Mum’ on their bicep ever looked cool. Except maybe Johnny Cash and his said ‘Mom’. And, well .. Johnny Cash.
  3. Do not get a tattoo if it has taken you more than a year or two to think about it. People buys houses, get married and pregnant in that time. You’re clearly not an ink person if you’d consider having a baby easier than deciding where to get your death’s head or Mark Twain quote.
  4. Do not get a tattoo because it seems like ‘fun’. Hobby’s are fun. Tattoos are not a hobby. Unless you want to be covered head to toe by the time you’re 25, then its more of a lifestyle.
  5. If the idea for your tattoo came from the following sources, please exit the shop: Pinterest, the wall of the tattoo shop, a server/waitress/stripper, your friends leg, a dream, your computer logo, a video game. Buy a Sharpie and go to town. You won’t regret it half as much.
  6. Do not choose your tattoo shop by it proximity to the bar. This is not a selection criteria. Cleanliness, prior work, reputation, Instagram/Yelp/other artists recommendations are good criteria. Your ability to duck out for another shot while waiting is not a criteria.
  7. ‘Walk in’ tattoo shops are a dying breed. There is a reason for this. Artists do not like to draw and ink 73 Broncos logos every game day. Artists like to draw, create and ink something they’re proud of. It does not occur – generally at midnight on a Saturday in 60 minute intervals. You may luck out on an undiscovered speedy Picasso but its unlikely. Appointments people. Unless you want a Broncos tattoo of course.
  8. If you must, absolutely have to, right now, you will die without it – get inked immediately, read some online reviews.  Check out portfolios online. When entering the shop, find the artists portfolios and look at prior work. If it looks ugly, messy, blurry, jacked or downright terrible.. leave. Artists books are the work they are ‘proud of‘. Yes, that rose which looks like a cats butt is ‘the best’ Joe can do.. he’s not saving his best work in some secret drawer.
  9. If when waiting for the tattoo you change your mind, tell them you are going to leave.  You do not HAVE to be inked. It is your choice. There are no handcuffs (unless your shop is also a dungeon or you are in prison). Offering to pay for your tattoo even without getting it will save you from much laughter when your ‘Trump for President’ hits the beach.
  10. Finally, when the artist presses the stencil on your body and removes it … look at it hard. Look in the mirror. Move your arms and legs. If there is anything about that stencil that you do not like, open your mouth. Too big? Too small? Popeye seems to have feet bigger than his head? Open your mouth. Don’t assume ‘it will look better once its tattooed’. NO. It will look exactly the same once tattooed. Only permanent.

So there you have it. How not to get tattooed. Next up.. ‘How to Cover Up That Tattoo You Really Regret When You Ignored Your Own Advice’

Skillz

napoleanI was talking to a friend (who I am kidding, it was my therapist), about things we like to do for fun, and the topic of learning new stuff come up. I LOVE LOVE LOVE learning new stuff. Anything which makes me more self-sufficient, more ‘handy’, “better”  or less scared of something makes me feel like I stand a better chance in the face of the upcoming zombie apocalypse.

Shooting, riding a motorcycle, rock climbing, swimming, boxing, snowboarding .. I’ve learned quite a few skills over the years. So when she asked me what sorts of things I wanted to learn, what classes I might want to take now that I’m situated in CA and slightly less overloaded, I think she expected the usual ‘pottery class’ or ‘wine appreciation’. Maybe a ‘surfing’ or ‘kayaking’ since I am outdoorsy. But when I actually thought about it I’m not sure that the skills I want to acquire are actually ones they offer classes on.

  1. ‘In Da Club’ Dancing. No, I don’t want to learn swing, zumba or hip hop. I just want to be able to get down in ‘da club’ without looking like my Mum. Being born British brings with it an awesome accent and horrific stiffness of the body. We literally don’t have right bones to do anything more than waving our arms around and jumping up and down. Apparently these days.. that’s not quite the thing. Not that I spend a lot of time in clubs , but I used to LOVE to dance, and its a skill that I’d like to have. You know. Just in case the zombies require it.
  2. Motorcycle maintenance in English. Yes I know classes abound on mechanical type things, but unfortunately they’re populated by teachers who use the proper words for things. What I need is someone who can refer to the ‘thingy’ and the ‘coily wire’, ‘the lever’ and ‘the spanner with the round hole’, without complicating it with actual facts about how the wheels go round.
  3. Flirting. Sorry but I’m crap at it. I’ve had 20 odd years of practice but even my ex husband told me I was terrible. Not only am I terrible at it (I’ve thrown someone across the dance-floor, and punched them in the face while “flirting”), I don’t know how to respond appropriately to someone doing it (if I even recognize it in the first place). Apparently I have no game. There has to be a class for this. Or maybe I just need to subscribe to Teen Magazine?
  4. Face to name recognition: How do people do that? I literally have no clue how to remember people’s names. I recognize their faces.. but names? Nothing. I know their dogs names, the car they drive and even their drink preference, but trying to get their attention at any point? I’m Bridget Jones yelling ‘um….OY‘. Which is slightly awkward in a business meeting. With the CEO. Whose name you’ve forgotten.
  5. Sitting down in a coffee shop. I can’t. I just can’t. How do people do it? I mean I know they do it. I see them. Gazing through the window, or scanning a screen. Maybe just stirring their latte and looking peaceful. How do people actually go to a coffee shop and sit there for like an hour? I’ve tried it twice. The first time I set a speed record for cappuccino drainage. The second, I lasted about 10 seconds. I just feel so naked. Lost. Alone. Sitting a coffee shop and drinking a cup of coffee signals to the world a kind of confidence and peace that I just don’t possess. Nope, I’m the one trying to drink 160F latte through a pinprick while walking.   Help me .. anyone?

Needless to say I told my friend (analyst) that I would sign up for a map reading class in REI. I guess I can learn how to escape from zombies without using GPS. Personally I think a class on tolerating a massage might be more useful.. but hey. It’s a skill.

 

 

Small Talk

small talk 2I spent my first 26 years in the UK, so I always thought I was pretty good at meeting new people. Easy entry points included the weather (past, present and future), the journey to the event (roads, Tube, parking) and of course, if desperate, hope that the Rugby or Big Brother is underway.  Sure, I was a bit clunky, but by time we reached the bottom of the glass or cup, I could breathe out and cruise along nicely.

Then I moved to the US.

Here small talk is an art. Something Americans seem to acquire at birth along with self confidence, perfect teeth and a love of crap beer. And therefore a complete and utter mystery to me. 24 hours in the US and I moved from ‘slightly awkward but warms up quick’, to a nervous, twitchy weirdo who needed to find the restroom every 30 seconds.

I tried. Oh boy I tried. I asked my friends for topics, questions, entry points and guidelines for small talk. I watched and listened. I even YouTubed it. I’ve feigned interest in all manner of idiocy (the price of diapers at Target vs. Costco, how the local sports team’s manager sucks) and asked every banal question I can think of (how do you know so and so, home location, career, family trees, whether it will be a good ski season, parking restrictions, the price of milk), but still… crickets.

I don’t think  its all on me though. I also think that the people I meet bear some of the blame. Once they’ve gotten through their small talk standards, ‘are you married?’ ‘ how old are your kids?’ ‘where go to school?’ ‘what do you do?’ seem to result in a vacuum in almost every conversation. Once people have asked me ‘do you like America?’ and established that without a husband, family or a familiar background they have nothing in common with me,  I can guarantee my ‘new friend’ will need to find a drink/his or her partner/ the Tardis within 37 seconds.

But since I am an adult and small talk is a requirement for survival (and on a date ESSENTIAL), I’ve developed a few strategies to avoid being left staring at my shoes while trying climb inside my own intestines:

Men

  •  Ask about ‘the team’. I’ve never watched an American football game but asking ’bout the local team seems to have a 99% hit rate with men. I’ve found a lot of smiling, head shaking and ‘for sure’ comments can get us through the first few minutes of awkwardness. If asked about a specific game or player, I always bounce the question back immediately. Men love sharing their knowledge of the intricacies of a sport. And they assume that their opinion is valued.. so I value it. A lot. Just don’t be too enthusiastic or you might wind up roped into a viewing party. Which is basically small talk x 1000 with a specialist vocabulary.
  • Find his hobby or ‘used to be his hobby before the kids/house’. Ask about it. Express awe. You might luck out and find an overlap (men seem to manage to maintain hobbies after kids)… and who knows.. you could wind up with a activity buddy. Don’t be too enthusiastic though or you might wind up with angry and suspicious woman stalking you.
  • Weekend plans. Grown ups don’t just wake up on Saturday and wonder ‘what should I do with my day’, they have plans. Things already on the calendar. Ask about them. Just don’t admit that your weekend plans typically consist of ‘walk dog’ and then winging it.  That doesn’t seem to go down well.

Women

  • Ask about the family. 99.99% of women have families and love to share so it’s a surefire winner. Sure, hearing about how stressed she is about whether Jimmy is going to get into a specific daycare/kindergarten/school isn’t as scintillating to you as to her, but hey.. stress is stress. Joy is joy. Her husband/ partner is probably sick to death of the conversation, but women need to process… so be there for her. No woman has ever complained about someone expressing interest in her worries. EVER.
  • Complement her hair/makeup/shoes. I’m a sucker for this one so I KNOW it works. And if I luck out and its shoes.. the branches are endless. Foot pain. What to wear on a night out after 40. How you’re considering opting out of heels. Remember that women don’t like to make each other uncomfortable, so likely she’s trying as much as you are to find a connection point. And everyone wears shoes… the rest.. well you can wing it.

If all else fails…

  • Play the foreigner card. Turn up the accent. Laugh at your homeland. Applaud their version of your accent. Tell stories of your incompetence in the US. Your bad dates. Mention a blog…. hang on… is this just a very extended bout of small talk???????

…..Um. Do you happen to know where the bathroom is?  I really do need to get a refill. Actually I think I need to go feed the meter. I’ll be right back.

Starting young

crying girlI recently fell into a Spotify hole of 1980-1988 (otherwise known as junior school through high school in the UK), and whilst rocking out to far too much electronica I noticed a strong theme in all of my favorite songs.

Totally depressing.

I mean, not for me Frankie Goes to Hollywood’s “Relax” .. nope, I preferred ‘The Power of Love”,  possibly one of the darkest and most depressing love songs I’ve ever heard. Depeche Mode? Way too positive for me. Give me some Thompson Twins crying ‘Hold Me Now’ or Fine Young Cannibals talking about ‘Suspicious Minds’. Wham’s “Last Christmas”, The Police “Every Breath You Take” Songs about cheating, dying, sadness, desire, stalking, being alone.

I was 12.

I couldn’t even spell puberty.

The further I went into my back catalog, the more depressing, introspective and heart wrenching the songs where. By the time I arrived back at my first and favorite album, Paul Young’s “No Parlez”, it was downright troubling. A whole album about a man being torn apart by his cheating wife. Song after song about leaving, being kicked around, despair, heartbreak and longing.

I was 12.  I didn’t even like boys.

But I sure liked me some depressing music to cry to.

And boy did I consume it. I practically welded my Sony Walkman to my head so I could wallow in depressing sad music. Bryan Adams’ “Heaven” (I should have know I was mentally ill), Alphaville “Forever Young”, and anything that could literally bring me to tears. My sister tuned me into the Smiths and I think thought I’d found heaven. I  thrived in my own misery until the tape un-spooled.

Today Social Services would be wondering about what on earth was going on at home, but then.. just a weird kid with watery eyes living in her head.

Why was I so miserable? I have no idea. But music told me there were others out there feeling sad, even if I wasn’t quite sure what they were singing about.

Thankfully at 15 I hit puberty, discovered Bruce Springsteen, Billy Bragg, The Clash and  and found a a new favorite emotion I could get with. Rage.

I’m expecting it to pass any day now…

Indulging in some fantasy

tarotAs part of my ‘Furiously Happy’ campaign (Google it), I recently found myself in the local fantasist’s office. Aka the tarot card reader down the street.

Important Note: I do not, nor have ever, believed in fate, fairies, predictions or any type of woo woo. But I do enjoy a laugh.

Sitting in front of a waif of about 12, once I stopped dry heaving at the price, she solemnly told me to pick 33 cards from her tarot deck.

’10 for the past, 10 for the present, 10 for ‘the future’ and 3 for ‘lord knows what I sorta tuned out’.

Now I understood how the 45 minutes was going to be spent. Card selection.

Cut to the chase.. first the past (cue woooooo music)

  • Apparently I have a divorce in my past (no ring and I don’t look like roadkill, so not a stretch out of the gate).
  • I have a sad aura from this divorce (does anyone go through divorce happy? Hmm.. maybe Donald Trumps former wives?)
  • My ex “didn’t get me” (actually he got me more than most)
  • I am sad (hey lady, 8 years have passed, I’m sorta over it?)

Which was kind of it. Nothing else has apparently happened to me in 43 years. Moving to the US, traveling, achieving stuff, meeting people, some crazy medical stuff, a lot of online dating, adventure??). Nope. Apparently my entire past is a divorce.

Girl needs to rethink her approach. At least mention 1 other thing?

Next the present (more woo music).

  • There is no love in my life (geez lady, not even my dog??)
  • There won’t be love in my life for 2 more years (really? I’m mean REALLY???? You have got to be fucking kidding me. I’m not believing that on behalf of being human)
  • I am on a 7 year cycle (she didn’t mention periods or bikes so I’m guessing she means something else). She said I have 2 more years to go.. so maybe it was something about menopause??
  • My present is all about my work. (No shit lady. We’re in Silicon Valley chickadee. No-one is paying $3K in rent for the culture. They don’t even have good Mexican food here)
  • I need to figure out my work (my boss would agree)
  • I need to be happy (but apparently it doesn’t involve orgasms based on the earlier prediction)
  • I have work to do (no kidding, does anyone NOT have work to do? even my dog has shit to do)
  • It isn’t about the money (try telling my bank)

At this point I’m considering slapping her for bringing me down.  Just on the basis of return visits, shouldn’t she be throwing in some ‘you will meet a tall dark stranger”  or “you have much wealth in your friendships”??? Isn’t this meant to be fun? This just sounds like a very depressed picture of the saddest person in the world. Pass the steak knives.

Moving onto the future (she must have seen my murderous looks)

  • I don’t belong in America (Fuck off lady, I’m a citizen, you xenophobe).
  • I don’t fit in America (seriously.. does she expect to get PAID???)
  • I will meet a man in Australia who is my soul mate (??????)

Sorry but I have to pause here.

  1. Never been to Australia
  2. Not on my top 10 list of places I need to go in the next 10 years
  3. That’s it? One guy in the whole world for me and he’s in Australia???

The douche bag can get on a flight cos I’m not going anywhere.

  • Oh and did I mention, he’s married with two kids right now??? (how does this chick stay in business???)
  • But I will meet him in August? (doh?)

Hang on. So I’ve got no love in my life for the next 2 years but I’m meeting my soul mate in August?? How does that work?  I meet him and ignore him for a year? It takes a year for me to destroy his marriage? He meets me and I’m so amazing that he divorces his wife and then asks me out in 2017 and we move to Australia?

Oh fuck NO. (to any Aussie readers, I love your humor, your complete dearth of political correctness and in general, every one of you that I’ve met is a delight. But I don’t break up marriages and I’m not moving to Australia so sorry).

  • I will give birth to a son. He will be a miracle baby.

At this point I do start to smile.

Not as she might think, at my joy of a baby in my future, but at the sheer implausibility of that fact.

  • I’m 43 and I’m not getting with “Mr.SoulMate” until I’m 45. I think by 45 my uterus will resemble Utah. i.e. nothing grows there.
  • I’m unable to have kids. Literally. A fact.
  • I’m terrified and slightly horrified by babies (they’re basically shitting machines that can break if you drop them. Terrifying)

 

Well I did this for fun and finally she made me smile so I headed home.

Just to see, I pulled out a deck of cards and pulled three cards for my past, present and future.

  • Past: Queen of Clubs. I was really into hitting the nightclub scene right up to my 30s. I ruled the dance-floor. I was the Queen of the Clubs. TOTALLY TRUE!!! AMAZEBALLS!!!
  • Present: Six of Diamonds: I have 6 diamonds in my life. CRAYCRAY!! My old wedding ring had 2, my necklace has 3 and I have a diamond tipped drill bit!!! HOLY COW!
  • Future: The Joker. I will stop taking everything so seriously and remember how to have fun, especially when confronted by a 12 year fairy queen with a hatred for Brits.

You know, I think there might be something in this card reading thing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I am not an elephant! I am not an animal! I am a human being! I am a woman!

elephant manThe elephant (wo)man. Or that’s how the last few days have felt at least. Yes, I’m a drama queen but seriously, one facial burn and suddenly I’m having all kinds of empathy for Joseph Merrick.

I’m used to people looking confused when I talk to them, but that’s typically due to my bizarre hybrid accent. This is something totally different. This is women who talk to my ear, checkout counter ladies who gaze off to the next customer while addressing me, the dude at Rite aid just stood with his mouth open and at Whole Foods, a women had an entire conversation with my shoes.

NOTE TO SELF: Wear awesome shoes for the next week until facial abnormality heals.

There’s no awesome, kick ass story to accompany my current ‘bag on the head’ status. Just some wax, a chick in a salon and my upper lip. You know that space ladies.. the one from your nose to your upper lip. Where, in my case, down grows abundantly. And since I’m heading off to a huge conference with media, press, 3,000 customers and hundreds of executives, I decided to smarten myself up a bit. Defeat the down.

1 bad decision and 2 minutes later, 3 Korean ladies were jabbering madly to each other (I mention Korean because I had no idea what they were saying) and rubbing neosporin on my face in a frenzy. The lady with the wax just looked at her feet (something I’m now seeing as a trend) while the salon owner poked me with her finger and accused me of using Retin A.

‘You Retin A?’

Ummm… yes?’ (but not on my upper lip?)

‘You not wax with Retin A’

‘Ummm. Ok (but I’ve been doing it for years??? And not on my upper lip. Do you KNOW how much Retin A costs?)

‘You put spoon in freezer when you get home. Spoon on lip. All night’

At which point I was thinking this is a slight overreaction and glanced in the mirror. To see a massive red welt across my upper lip. Glowing furiously. Not only is it a huge stripe across the middle of my face, I also look as though I’m auditioning for the part of ‘angry Hitler’. Its practically carved into my skin.

3 days later. Hundreds of Google searches. Aloe, frozen spoons, bags of peas, Neosporin (on my second tube) and even Saran wrap. The best I can say is that my Hitler mustache is now brown. What’s worse is the scar has healed into a hard plastic-like shell that sits atop my lip like a large tan fake mustache that hurts to move. Dour is the best I can manage.

But its my colleagues I feel bad for. My work mates have oh -so-politely rushed over from a distance ‘oh my god…what’s wrong?’ and then seeing my scar, retreated to ‘Oh you looked stressed’ before scurrying off to debate what happened to my face. My boss has my eternal gratitude for being the only person in 3 days to look me in the eye… which I can only put down to his military background or extreme short sightedness.   Either way, I could have hugged him for ignoring my Nazi impersonation.

On the plus side, no one has ever taken more notice of my shoes. And I have a whole new empathy for anyone who’s not 100% average looking.

To those skin condition suffers, large mole wearers and strawberry birthmarkers.. I commend you for holding your head up and ploughing through life while people talk to your ear , your shoulder or your shoes.

Me.. I can only hope that my conference has dim lighting.

You know you’ve been dating too much when….

mystery manI honestly don’t date that much. What I do is have a LOT of cups of coffee with men who I don’t know except from that blurry photo of them atop Mount Evans.

And then I go home and block a lot of profiles.

My selection criteria is terrible I know. Sure I like guys with big noses and dark hair, who ride bikes and can talk the hind legs off a donkey… but when picking a date, I get seduced by good writing. I tend to judge the person by their coherence, their words, the written tone of their voice.. instead of the actual data points. So what if he’s 5 ft 6 and blond, doesn’t own a bike and lives 65 miles away? He’s sooooo funny. Which typically results in my going on dates with completely unsuitable guys, who write like a dream but who I wouldn’t touch with a barge pole.

My typical date goes as follows (internal monologue);

‘Please don’t let it be him”

“or him”

“Oooo please let it be…. oh I guess not..he’s meeting her…”

“Not him…nooooo.”

“Oh it IS him…You’re looking at me..? so I guess you’re definitely him… shiiiiiiiit”

He sits down and disappointing conversation commences. During which time I suck down a drink and realize that one of his coworker/girl friends/sisters wrote his profile and that this guy is no more representative of his writing than my body ‘really looks like this’ while wearing Spanx.

Which means that I end up on a lot of first dates. And those tend to add up over time. Lately I’m questioning my filtering practices as a) I’m fed up of going on dates with people I wouldn’t trust to install my cable and b) I’d like to have sex before the end of the year.. but most of all c) I think I’ve been on too many… so many that they’re all starting to blur together.

Case in point – yesterday.

I have been chatting online with a guy who seems, well, ok. We’re at the ‘better meet each other or another month of our lives slips by’ time so I pass along my number. I wait for his call. His profile isn’t that awesome , so I’m hoping he is in person (I’m trying reverse psychology on this one!)

I hear nothing for 2 days.

Then, as I’m working, I receive a text message ‘hi it’s me’. I’m excited and have time, so we arrange to meet up for lunchtime coffee and a quick chat. You know, get the preliminaries out-of-the-way. He’s 43, in consulting and divorced, and seems quite witty… which is why I was slightly confused when this older hippyish dude approached my table in the coffee shop.

“There is no way this guy is 43” I think to myself, but being gracious and wanting any excuse to leave my desk for an hour, I decide to push on ahead. Maybe he’s just weathered??

He’s articulate and clearly successful. He talks about mountain biking and his house in Breck.. which is only slightly confusing because he said he lived in Denver. Ah well.. maybe he has two houses or he recently moved. He talks about ‘TM’ (meditation), which is interesting.. but again, not something I remembered about his profile. I tend to stay away from the overly earnest so I’m a bit confused as to why I thought this guy might be worth a date. But we talked.. fairly easily… and at no point did he mention fixing printers, flipping burgers or recite his resume. Hey, compared to my other dates this year, he’s O.K.  Then he mentions that he rarely drinks.. which seems strange as I do remember one of his photos was taken at a wine vineyard, holding a  glass of red wine.  Weird.

Which is when my phone rang….a call from the dude who I thought I was on a date with. The guy who I was ‘supposedly’ sitting across the table from was calling me on my phone… clearly not from across the table.

Whaaaaa?

SO WHO THE FUCK IS THIS GUY?

Yes, I’m on a date with a nameless guy, who has my name and phone number, but I have no idea of his name or who he is. All I know is, he’s clearly not the guy I thought I was on a date with (all those profiles merge after a while), and while he’s interesting, I am FREAKING THE FUCK OUT. Who did I give my phone number to? What is this guy’s name? Who IS he? He clearly knows who I am – he said my name when he came over to my table… but I have no clue who he is whatsoever.

I used the call as any excuse to politely exit  before my Twilight zone got any weirder so he walked me to my car and then asked if he could see me again.

At which point I should have come clean, or at least said something, put him off or said something vague… but instead I found myself saying ‘sure.. give me a call’. After all.. it wasn’t terrible. I can only hope that next time he calls, he leaves his name so I can figure out who the hell he is and how the hell he knows me.

Meanwhile I’ve got a date with a guy tonight who may, or may not, be 43, divorced and works in consulting. Fingers crossed on who shows up. Knowing my luck it will be my gastroenterologist.

 

How not to have a first date

01 undateableLast night I went on a date with a thoroughly cynical and defensive person. They were judgmental, a little mean and way too intense for a first date. I don’t think I’d like a second date, in fact I think that person really needs to chill the fuck out.

Unfortunately, that person was me.

After years of good dates but mainly bad ones; dates where I interviewed them, they interviewed me; dates where the guy clearly was more interested in someone else, or in outing himself; dates where he mumbled one word answers or said nothing at all. Dates with Republicans, liars and a paraplegic (who didn’t tell me about his status until he arrived at our date). 23 minute dates (my record), 2 hour dates, dates with stoners, angry men and lonely guys … I think I’ve finally arrived at ‘undateable’. Not them… me.

When faced with someone who seemed pleasant, open, friendly, attractive and complimentary, my response? Intense desire to ‘wise this guy up’ to the realities of dating.

His desire to be courteous and communicative prior to us meeting was met with instant dismissal as ‘cloying’. His sweet emails and texts? Desperate. His expressed excitement in advance of our first date? Sad. Poor dude. Doesn’t stand a chance.

My date is newly separated and hasn’t been on many dates; so instead of spending my time getting to know him, I silently plotted all of the indignities he would suffer down the road of the online dater. The women who’d stalk him. Those who’d never call. Those who would date him only for his money. The woman who’d misrepresent themselves; the liars, the fakers , the hot mess needed fixing. The women with drink problems. Pill problems. Baby daddy problems. The frigid women. The cheating women. Oh boy, he really was going to get his open little heart smashed. As he talked, my mind was thinking of all the thousands of ways this poor dumb schmuck was going to get hurt once he actually dived into dating again. How all of his sweetness, he naivete, his hopefulness was going to be crushed within months and how ill prepared he seemed to actually be dating.

Yes ladies and gentlemen, this was how I spent my date.

Thinking about all the ways my date was going to be crushed.. just like me… by trying to find love.

Yes. I know. Its fucked up.

Clearly I’ve been out there too long. I’ve lost hope. I’ve certainly wised up, but I think I’ve developed a skin akin to Donatella Versace.. impenetrable by human touch, water (and potentially hydrochloric acid). I don’t trust anyone on their words anymore and my expectations apparently are somewhere in the Marianas trench. Deep  below the ground.

And I wasn’t aware of any of this until I actually met a nice guy.

He didn’t call the cops, and he made it through dinner, but holy cow, if I ever see him again, he moves to the top of my list of ‘nice guys’. Me.. I think I need some serious therapy and to permanently end this quest for companionship. I think old lady with 60 cats is more approachable than me with 7 years of post divorce dating under my belt.  Sure she might wear a lot of hand knits and an odor of pee, but at least she won’t rip her date’s head off when he offers up a complement.

Time for me to go find my hope. because right now, I’m un-fucking-dateable.

(on the plus side, he’s apparently a saint because he wants to take another run at it next weekend). Wish me luck.

 

 

 

 

Reevaluating my choices

01 debtI’ve been plagued with poor judgement in many facets of life – love, friendship, housing, bike jerseys, ordering curry on a first date – and I’ve focused on improving the decision process around  these over the last few years with the help of my trusty shrink lady.

Ok, maybe just the love and friendship ones.. but I’m been working on them really hard.

NOTE: for none therapy types, “work” generally means discussing something until you realize why you’re doing what you’re doing, and then cry a lot. It takes a long time and generally retails at $120 per hour. Tissues are free.

As a result, these days, I know when I’m making a bad decision (as oppose to blindly stumbling around assuming the best case scenario), and can now choose to forge ahead  (and suffer the UTI), or go do something less destructive. My friendships are more authentic, my romances and crushes less all-encompassing, and overall, I think my shrink has earned that condo in Aspen I’ve bought for her. She’s pretty darn good.

But one thing continues to evade me despite nearly 18 months of discussion.

My relationship to money.

Two words. It SUCKS.

I’m not a blood sucking consumer whore. I don’t want to be rich, I don’t desire a big house or a fast car, and I could care less about swanning around the Med on a yacht a la Beyoncé. But I do like nice things, and I don’t make enough money to keep me in the style to which I imagine I am accustomed.

Easy fix? Stop buying shit. Stop doing shit that you can’t afford.

I did that.

I buckled down. I sold my house. I sold all of my shit. I followed a budget. I stopped buying shit. I stopped doing anything that wasn’t essential to my professional life or personal sanity (sorry, but I need to eat raw fish now and again or life isn’t worth living).

The result after a year? I dug myself a little ways out of a hole. But it took a looong time to not get very far, and there’s only so long you can convince yourself that ‘stay-cationing’ is your choice and that another layer of NikWax will fix your rain jacket. Especially if you’ve got 30 odd years of bad financial choices whispering in your ear and a friend who really needs a cocktail.

If you’ve never been in substantial debt, you can read all the articles, follow all the rules: consolidate, prioritize, budget and monitor, but still wind up with 5 red zeros after your credit card balance for a really long time.

But I did make progress… right up until life happened. I didn’t plan on that fender bender, or that vet bill, or that unexpected medical bill or the IRS bill (for 2011?) with 3 years of fines that landed on my door in the space of a month. It was as though the universe saw I was trying to get the money thing locked down and wanted to send a message about who really was in charge. And as I headed into my second year of ‘financial awareness’ I found that for every step forward, life handed me a bottle of oil and a slip n’ slide just for fun.

I just couldn’t get ahead… which – embarrassingly – led to me giving up entirely.  I decided ‘fuck it’ and put my fiscal conservation on the back burner for a few months.

Fuck it that I’m in debt.

Fuck it that I’m not getting out of debt any time soon

Fuck it that I can’t afford things.. whats an extra $32 on top of my mountain?

Fuck it ..I can’t control this shit anyway.. no matter how hard I try.

Stupid? – of course. Did I know it? – of course. What did it cost me? Basically the last 18 months of saving and skimping…. all down the drain in 3 months. Did I mention stupid?

Do I now own a yacht? A Porsche? Have I traveled to China? Am I writing this on a gold iMac from a downtown loft?

Nope. Nothing more substantial than a new purse, a few dinners out and a new bike.  But I’m now, almost 2 years into my ‘financial freedom’, EXACTLY where I started.

Yes, I want to slap me too.

It’s been the biggest failure of my life, right up there with my marriage. In fact, at this point, it’s going to take an awful lot longer than my marriage to fix.

Ms. Shrinky lady says that we buy things to make us feel worthy. To elevate our status to other or even just to ourselves. To console or even replace something that’s missing.  I know why I said fuck it. I know why I make the decisions I do. I’ve done my crying and gone through those tissues faster than I go through my paycheck.

“I am not my things” she makes me say.

I know I’m not, but things help me go mountain biking, buy my dog more pain medication and keep the IRS off my back.

“Things will not make me happy” she also intones.

I know, but dinner with friends does. A trip back to the UK to see my nieces for the first time in 3 years will.

“Things are just things” she sagely advises.

I agree. I really do agree.

I live in 770 sq feet of rented apartment with no dishwasher or AC and I’ve never been happier.  And the only thing which intrudes on my contentment (other than my snoring but pain-free dog), is the nagging thought of all those dollars in the red. Which currently will turn black sometime around 2019. Yes, 5 years.

From one poor decision to the next over a period of 15 years I’ve accumulated enough red ink to see me through to almost the next decade. I’ve been incredibly lucky; surprise bonus’ and running my own business for while kept my head above water when by all rights I should have drowned, but these days those surprises seem to have all dried up. The only thing between me and instant salvation is a dead rich aunt in Australia suddenly emerging or my boss having an aneurysm and giving me a pay increase.

Since neither are likely, I’m firmly back on the budget path for the foreseeable. Resigned to a longer term rental life than I planned, and a ‘fly on a plane and stay in a hotel’ vacation once every 3-4 years if I can save for it (and nothing goes horribly askew with my car).

On the positive side I’ve got plenty of time to plan it (I’m thinking Brazil or China), and in the meantime my cooking ability is coming on gangbusters.  And yes, that even includes a killer curry for any first dates I might have.

Apparently I can only make smart decisions in one area at a time..

 

 

Chub

muffin topAt the advanced age of 42, I’ve recently noticed an alarming trend.

I’m developing chub.

Sure, I’m not on the path to being airlifted out of my house and certainly I don’t need a forklift to get to the doctors yet.. but after viewing some photos from a recent social event I noticed the beginnings of ‘chub’ around all of my girlie bits.

(wah wah.. first world problems.. worlds smallest violin etc.. yes, I know).

One of the upsides of crippling anxiety is a naturally fast metabolism. Sure, I have had to quit several jobs that required me to manage people or work more than 60 hours a week, and yes, I’ve developed a very nice relationship with Klonapin over the last few years, but damn it, I’ve never had to worry too much about getting chubby.

Anxiety generally makes you not hungry, and worrying for 18 hours a day tends to burn calories faster than most spin classes. Add in a natural need for exercise (got to burn off that anxiety somehow), celiac disease (rendering all yummy deliciousness out of reach), and you’ve got a recipe for someone who’s been the same size since high school.

Sure I’ve wandered around the scale; having your jaw wired shut for 6 weeks and a liquid diet gave me Mike Jagger hips and cheekbones you could slice ham on. Being dumped the day I sold my house for a $40K loss, drove me into jeans a size bigger and my first experience of saddle bag thighs within a month. Luckily I discovered crossfit and FWB.. result.. back to normal size.

But as I approached 40 I was told by many friends that I’d find myself at ease with the world and find a ‘new confidence’ in myself, and that my metabolism was about to shut down.. so I should just accept that pudgy was going to be something to fight from the here on out.

Well at 42 I just had to up my Klonapin dose and I’m still questioning whether I offended a coworker with an email that corrected her grammar, so I’m not quite sure about life becoming so much easier and more laid back at 40, but the metabolism thing.. that is RIGHT on track.

I eat well. No one has ever called me skinny and, thanks to cycling, you could easily balance a pint on my ass should you so desire. But what I had reckoned with was a layer of overall chub that seemed to appear out of nowhere overnight.

First I wondered if I’d been sleep eating.. but while my doctor found it amusing, he assured me that my anti anxiety meds made you sleep harder and deeper. So no dice there.

Next I looked at my diet, wondering if some how they’d started slipping fat into my 0% fat Greek yogurt, or coating my veggie burgers with lard. It’s not like I suddenly started eating fries on a daily basis or chowing down on deep-fried Snickers on the weekend. A quick survey told me that nope, nothing had changed.

Finally I looked at my exercise. Have I somehow fell prey to the dreaded ‘slowing down’ of old(er) age without noticing? I sure felt like I was working out as hard as ever – god knows my legs are beaten up to shit from mountain biking lately, and I  out walk my dog on a daily basis. So no… no answers there.

In exasperation I hit the internet. Which told me I might be growing a large tumor in my lady parts, suffering from every type of cancer under the sun, my endocrine system was finally going kaput (after slowly failing steadily over the last 7 years), I’m accumulating alcohol weight or that it’s all part of Obama’s socialist agenda.

Maybe you do just get chubby as you get older? Yet another thing my mum was right about. (dammit)

But as a single woman, I intend on getting naked with semi-strangers at some point this year (one hopes), so  I’ve decided to embark upon my first proper, bona-fide “diet” aka, stepping away from the Ju-Jubes in the candy aisle and snacking on less fattening alternatives than avocados and handfuls of almonds.

In fact, I just bought an apple. Kale salad is not far behind.

But know this. The difference between a 42-year-old on a diet and a 20 something… as soon as I can see my knees again and my arms stop jiggling like Beyoncé’s ass, I’m over it.

I have no desire to ‘thinspirate’ myself into anything less than my normal clothes and life is honestly too short to eat apples. (Unless you like apples)

But for the next few weeks its apples, kale and chicken breast. Right after I finish this tostada.

 

 

 

The post chaos chasm..

Bridget-Jones-s-Diary_400One of the reasons I’ve been absent from my blog for the past few months has been a looming work commitment which pretty much eats my personal time for about 3 months. The last month of which its a 24/7 type thing and I live, eat, sleep and horribly dream about all the things that could go wrong. I’ve found myself quite regularly at my whiteboard with marker in hand at 3am wondering whether I resized a Powerpoint template to 16:9 and whether my 4:3 guys are actually getting a projector that works with 4:3.

Hence my blog was one of the first casualties. My love life a pretty close second.

But as of Sunday my event finished and the crazy time is over for another year.   I can return to waking up at 6am (not 3, 4, 5 and 5.30am), having evening activities that start at 5.30pm and an email inbox that doesn’t run into four digits of unopened mail.

I’m exhausted, I’m beyond tired and as of Sunday around 10am… I’m free!!!! I should be dancing in the streets! Celebrating wildly!

Except I’m not.

Something about having an all-consuming project come to an end, having it go well and having no one to high-five, no one to hug and tell you how awesome it was… SUCKS.  And in the absence of huge amounts of work, all I see is the absence of anyone who gives a shit.

Now as a well-adjusted female with years of therapy under my belt I know I can high-five myself, and I should be able to congratulate myself on doing a great job. But to be honest.. I feel ridiculous being self-congratulatory, especially when I can see all the tiny things which I missed. The mistakes I made. The less-than perfect stuff. Plus telling yourself how awesome you are… its just …tooo…. American. I’m not there yet.

I’m not a masochist, but without any external validation, I find it hard not to dwell on how it could have been perfect.. if only A, B or C had worked. Without someone to slap me across the face and tell me to just ‘chill the fuck out’ I’m picking away at what should be an obvious win.  Without someone telling me to just ‘leave it’, I’m reprocessing how X could have been improved by Y, how ‘this’ sort of detracted from ‘that’. Without someone to tell me to stop working on something that is done, that I can’t change.. well I’m lost. I’m spinning and I actually don’t want to stop. Because when I stop.. all I notice is a big aching chasm of want.

I want, embarrassingly and sincerely, someone special in my life. Its nothing new, but its been pretty low priority over the last year. I’ve been busy with a full life and ‘the goods’ have been too odd to even try. I enjoy my life; I ride, I can now ‘not drown’, I have amazing friends and people who care about me scattered all over the place. But as I opened my apartment door after a week of brutal effort, it sucked to come home to a house that needed cleaning, an empty fridge and nobody to even make me a cup of tea, never mind say ‘good job’. Cue the Bridget Jones theme track ‘All By Myself’.

(tiny violins, I know)

I’m not ignorant that I’m self-absorbed, that I’m whining and that you can’t have it all. I’m prickly and challenging, and I judge you on your dog care way too much, but there are times in life when you want someone in your life. You need someone to lean on. And Sunday, I got socked in the face with it. The post chaos chasm. The desire for someone to just sit down with me and ‘be’. Who I could lean against, be told to stop obsessing and maybe, maybe.. really care that I did good?

So what now?

Well I know myself pretty well so in about 2 weeks I’m sure this chasm will seem like a pothole, I’ll be back to my normal high-octane summer self and the thought of trying to meet someone will seem laughably ridiculous.

But for today….this week.. I’m just going to wallow in the want, eat some ice-cream and watch myself some Bridget Jones. After all, we all need a benchmark for our self absorption and neediness…and mine just happens to share my love of booze, friends and out of tune singing.

 

 

 

Fuck first impressions

insultI’ve always considered myself more of a grower than a show-er. I’m an acquired taste. People like me… after a while. I’m someone who tends to be more highly appreciated over time. Like wine, I taste pretty foul the first time, but after a while, you start looking forward to that glass at the end of the day. But you sort of need to stick at it to get there.

(I’ve also been likened to being hit over the head by a 2 x 4. You can get used to anything if you do it long enough. But I digress.)

First impressions of me (years later when inebriated, most friends and lovers have confessed), range from ‘cold’ and ‘harsh’ to ‘awkward’ and most often ‘rude’. I’m also ‘over confident’ and ‘shy’, ‘chatty’ and ‘dull’, ‘overly smart’ and on one occasion ‘bore-ish’.

Lets just conclude that I don’t make a great first impression. What can I say, I find social interaction outside of work sorta challenging.  Especially around men I don’t know. I don’t know shit about football, I don’t have kids and I certainly can’t ‘small talk’.

Could be one of the reasons I’ve often ended up dating my boss.

Once I get to know a guy – say, 3 or 4 months in – I can relax and my true colors shine through. I’m actually a bit soppy, ridiculously romantic, a very caring person and fairly articulate.. but from the moment I first meet someone of the opposite sex, I become the worst version of everyone. Think of the worse date you’ve ever been on… ever… I got them beat if you’re a cute guy and I don’t know you.

Cue the sweaty palms and inarticulate ‘uhuhs’

If you’re my boss, I will – obviously – insult you upon our first meeting. I’ve told bosses that their shirt was ‘a bit gay’, that they’re ‘overdoing the product’ on their hair, their ‘pants are waaaaay too tight’ and on one occasion I introduced myself to my boss by telling him that ‘I’ve heard you’re something special but I don’t see it’.

Frankly its amazing I have a job at all sometimes. It’s not that I set out to be a bit of git, it’s just what comes out of my mouth.

(my current boss learned to tolerate me when I ordered a martini during our first meeting (it was an early dinner) and I swore joyfully ‘fucccccck me’ into my drink.)

(I wasn’t aware he was a devote Mormon.)

(he was clearly desperate for someone to fill the role)

In lieu of polite conversation about the local football team, the weather or family (my small talk consists of swearing about Obama’s ineptitude and the latest num nuts platitudes coming from the far right), I just seem to resort to whatever comes into my head. Which inevitably insults those in the immediate vicinity.. including the person I’m trying to relate to.

Thankfully over the years my coworkers and bosses have learned to tolerate my shortcomings, (slightly worrying in the face of my profession), due to my excessive productivity and willingness to send emails at 10pm.. but when it comes to dates.. romantic prospects… well frankly I’m still in second grade. (if they needed more emails sent, maybe I’d be married by now?)

If a guy is car-crashingly ugly, dull, rude or totally unappealing, I have no problem. I become supremely confident in my attractiveness, relax and let the verbal banter run rings around the poor sod. I actually enjoy dates where I know there isn’t going to be another.  But if he’s  in anyway attractive, if I feel even the faintest glimmer of a spark that could potentially be nurtured into some kind of flame, if I immediately mentally checking the match-iness of my underwear, well I’m fucked. I may as well leave the location and just go home. Its going to save everyone a lot of embarrassment.

I’m so terrified of what might come out of my mouth that my brain freezes. I say nothing. When something does eek out, I spend the next 15 minutes questioning whether I sounded stupid, desperate, too keen or not keen enough. Largely I sound retarded or overly obsessive (I talked to one poor cute guy for an HOUR about a bike race.. which he hadn’t even watched.. in fact I don’t think he even owned a bike).  So largely about 30 minutes into a date, the guy is wondering how to make a non rude exit from the chick who’s muttering to herself and chewing her cuticles. As first impressions go, its a miracle that I ever get the chance to make a second.

(I put it down to good boobs and a sterling resume)

It seems that throughout my single 30s and 40s, the only way I get through my extreme nervousness in the face of an eligible man, is to get naked. Thankfully my coworkers are a fairly unappealing bunch or I’d have been fired long, long ago.

But this ‘confident when naked/ illiterate when clothed’ thing has made dating quite a challenge, especially as I hit my 40s. After all, you can’t get naked on a first date at 42… (what was cute at 25 or 35 indicates mental illness in your 40s) and getting naked on a first date tends to be somewhat terminal in the minds of most American men. (who conveniently forget that while they don’t want to be with someone who “does that”, they themselves also just ‘did that’).

So over the years I’ve regulated my ‘getting naked’ significantly and generally removed myself from the dating populace since I know I’m about as suave as a goat when it comes to meeting strangers.  Instead I hold out hope that someone I know in a platonic way, someone I meet while I’m temporarily blind (or they are), someone I work with or someone who’s been previously burned by my harsh tongue or bad behavior… will one day wake up and think ‘you know… maybe I didn’t give her enough of a chance’. Maybe, just maybe that guy will look past the insults, the nakedness, the chewed cuticles and wonder ‘I wonder what she’s really like’.

I know.. I know.. its a long shot. But after the most recently ineptitude which involved me drinking my body weight in wine, seducing a fairly willing man and then STILL finding insults coming out of my mouth… well.. I’m not holding my breath.

Or maybe I’m just a ‘7th impression’ girl? Now the trick finding someone willing to keep coming back to get to that version of me… nail gun anyone???

New Relationship Energy

ryanWe’ve all experienced it. If not for ourselves we’ve seen it in others and marveled at the glow, the pulse that seems to emanate from someone who’s just started a new relationship. They seem so energized, so animated, so… not like us.

New Relationship Energy (NRE) can be observed in both men and women during the first 6-8 weeks of entering into a new coupling. They’re the ones laughing loudest, who only need 3 hours of sleep, who glow and twinkle (yes you do ladies) or grin for no reason (even you dudes) secure in the burgeoning obsession that is ‘the new dude/lady’. They know enough to be smitten, but not enough to be annoyed yet. They’ve shared the basics on life but not yet watched the other pick popcorn out of their molars while driving. Its.all.good.

But whether its endorphins from all that sex they’re having or simply excess goodwill at the thrill of finding someone who seems perfect, NRE folks are excruciating to be around. They’re so goddam happy and relaxed. Energized and yet mellow. And hey can’t wait to find an excuse to bring up his or her name in conversation.

And I’m one of them.

Yes, I’m delighted to announce that there is a new person in my life.

(no Mum, I’m not coming out… EVA. That leather cap was a bad fashion choice in the 80’s, not a declaration of a sexual proclivity)

His name is Steve and he’s the BEST.

I met him online, he was available and within 3 days he was in my bed. I know.. pretty fast right?

But that’s Amazon for ya.

You see Steve is my new body pillow. He’s white (I’m not racist, he’s just gotta match the rest of the sheets), he’s huge (I like em tall), and he sleeps next to me every night.

Now I’m not a cuddler in bed. In fact, people trying to cuddle me largely wake up bruised and offended, but I do like the feel of another body in my bed. Whether its the weight, or having someone’s back to mine… there’s just something very comforting about it.

Which is where Steve comes in.

Steve doesn’t move, he doesn’t want to spoon and he’s too big for me to push around. So he just lies there. Taking up room and giving me something to feel against my back as I sleep.

Now I didn’t buy Steve with this intention (I’m not completely nuts). The intent was to help heal my torn rotator cuff (thanks Crossfit!) by limiting my movement in bed at night. A chronic stomach sleeper, I wake up every morning in a full ‘Superman’ pose, arms above my head and rotator cuffs screaming in pain. I had two options according to my physical therapist. Sleep with my hands strapped to my sides (how very S&M) or get myself a Steve, and use him to pin me down.

I opted for Steve.

(I considered the straps but I’m a 2am pee-er and there’s no way I’m wrestling with bondage at that time of the morning).

So, now I have Steve. I lay him next to me in bed every night and trap one my arms underneath him. Effectively pinning myself to the bed. For some reason, it tells my brain not to ‘Superman’ my arms and I wake up without screaming rotator cuffs.

In fact, I wake up every morning smiling these days. I’m enthusiastic about life again and I’m well rested and relaxed.

I think I might love Steve.

My PT chick tells me I can replace Steve with a real guy whenever I get the chance with the same effect. Just pin my arm under a heavy lump of snoring deliciousness and I’m good to go. And of course the bondage option is always an option should I choose to branch out.

Falling off the wagon

online addictionHello. My name is Ms Idiot and I’m an online dating addict.

I really thought I’d kicked the habit, I really did. Its like that I guess. Addiction.

After two horrific dating experiences in 2013, (one which terrified me into changing my locks, one which caused me to rethink my perception of academics), and a 22 minute encounter (I won’t dignify it with the title of ‘date’) I hit bottom. I knew I couldn’t go on with the month to month renewals, the endless profile trolling, the sagging wish that there is a single dude with a penchant for tattoos, bicycles and IQs over 140 who isn’t addicted to pornography or pushing 250lbs. My self loathing was such that I even considered Tindr, a site for kids with ADD who still think funneling beer is an attractive trait in a man. I was desperate. I was pathetic. I’d have traded my last $39.99 for a date with a normal sane hetero guy. Just one… one…..

A girlfriend watched my downward spiral from afar; the first flush of excitement (“this time its going to work”), the second guessing (“maybe I sound too active?”), the anger  (“why are all the guys my age only looking for 30 yr olds?”), the depression (“I can’t even get laid, never mind a boyfriend”), switching from one site to another (“this one definitely seems to have more guys without kids or Jesus”) led to bargaining (“so he confused ‘righting’ with ‘writing’ …it doesn’t necessarily mean that he’s stupid”) and finally the acceptance that online dating…. just wasn’t going to work for me.

The result of 6 years of sporadic sign ups? Several 3 month flings, two marriage proposals (sanity not guaranteed), numerous casual dates and 1 x 22 minute ‘encounter’.  I had better luck in high school when I had braces, an extra 10lbs and Billy Idols haircut.

So I tapped out. I got sober. I deleted all of my accounts and white knuckled it through Labor Day, Halloween, Thanksgiving and yes, even New Years Eve. 6 months went by without so much as a ‘wink’, never mind a date.. and I was feeling good. Strong even.

I didn’t find Jesus, I didn’t do meetings and I accepted the notion that I’m a single person. Indefinitely. And I felt good with that. Like most ‘sober’ people, as long as I stayed away from dating sites, set ups and random flirtations, I was ok. I really was. I hung out with friends, I made new friends (male and female), I cut ties with my boomerangs.

But then, just when I felt immune to the siren call of ‘more marriages than any other site’, I had a dream.

And it certainly wasn’t of the MLK variety.

Lets just say its been 24 hours and its still burning in the front of my brain. It was sexy, it was hot, it was endless and oh my god.. it made me miss men like a drowning man misses air. I miss being touched. I miss someone looking at me with desire. I miss flirtation (even my appalling version of it) and I miss forearms. Oh god I miss forearms.

I can’t even think about how much I miss sex. After all, I do have a job and I already feel like a neon sign is flashing on my forehead ‘Man Wanted. Apply within’. The next 12 hours is entirely focused on not thinking about sex.

Margaret Thatcher.

Cockroaches.

Mitt Romney’s hair.

That leery old guy in yoga class.

I don’t know where to turn, and frankly, its too early to call my match.com sponsor and have her talk me off the ledge.

So I did it. I clicked, I typed and clutching my 1o month celibate chip, I logged on to a dating site and dove into the sweaty pool of loserville that is a divorced guy with 2 kids, living in suburbia ‘a few extra pounds’ and ‘loves sci fi’. no… No… NO….

This is my cry for help. Help meeeeeeee…..

Complaint Free! … well for about 4 hours

Complaint DepartmentMonday afternoon I spent a good 90 minutes with my therapist trying to figure out why my two abhorrent friends (Debbie Downer and Negative Nelly) have come for an extended stay.

Yes. I have a therapist.

No.. I’m not ‘one of thoooooose people’

But I am all in favor of therapists. Especially when you live alone without a significant other, your family is 3200 miles away and you don’t want every social occasion to turn into a Dr Phil moment. Yes, friends can be great to unload on, to discuss ‘what should I do’ decisions or ‘why did I do that’ moments.. but they’re only human and its not fair to ask them to gaze at your navel for hours every week.

My chesticals maybe… navel… not so much.

So I like to spread my musing around a bit, and if I have to pay one of them.. its worth every penny. Plus she has mints.

Anyhow, after both of us navel gazed for an age about my startling negativity of late, she suggested that I go ‘complaint free’ for 21 days.

Somewhat like any recovery program (but drinking allowed), the goal to go without complaining, ‘negging’ , moaning, being rude or sharp, critical, whining or gossiping for 21 consecutive days. At the end of which you’ve apparently broken the habit.. aaaaaaand hopefully not been sectioned to the local pysch ward or recruited by the Mormons.

21 days without a single negative word? Now that’s a challenge for a Brit. We’re brought up on moaning. Its second nature to be sarcastic and don’t get me starting on complaining. Its wrapped around every strand of our DNA. Brits are polite to a fault, but behind closed doors or under our breath, its a whole other story. We need it. All that rain, dealing with the class system, lack of ice and foreskins… you need to moan a bit.

This challenge was designed for me. If challenge means ‘literally impossible’, ‘requires no training’ and ‘doesn’t involve heights’. This is my Annapurna. I may check out North Face and see if they have anything suitable to assist me in this herculean task. A gag perhaps?

What do I have to lose? It might help me kick my inner Eeyore to the curb before I get fired and if I fail? I’ve been a bit nicer for a bit.

To help with recording complaints, (since complaining doesn’t give you a hangover or cost anything), you wear an elastic band on your wrist. Every time you complain, whine, moan or bitch, you switch the band to the other wrist. Goal = band stays on the same wrist for 3 weeks. If you switch the band just once … you go back to Day 1. You don’t get to progress to Day 2 until you’ve made it a whole 24 hours without complaint. And even if you’re on day 20, one moan and you’re back to Day 1.

Now this doesn’t mean that you’re sallying around chattering about butterflies and unicorns; you’re not expected to become Tony Robbins either. This isn’t thought police either – you can think whatever you want.. but the words. The words can’t be negative or gossipy or mean or rude. And if the facts invite a negative discussion, you have to stick.to.the.exact.facts. Without adding a tone, a sneer, a sarcastic remark or chiming in on someone else’s negative moment. If you have nothing positive or neutral to say, you say nothing.

For those who know me… stop laughing. I’m not that bad.

Except I am. *sigh*

I invite you to try it for just a single conversation with someone you know well. Its so very  ridiculously strange. And alarming to realize how much you say without actually saying very much at all. Suddenly I realize how often my default is sarcasm or rudeness. How sharp I can be in simply stating facts and under pressure?

Not surprisingly I’m three days in and still on Day 1.

Day 1 (my first Day 1), started out easy. I live alone and I didn’t have any calls for a few hours. By 4pm I’d made it through 2 conference calls and not a harsh word, sarcastic comment or criticism made. I was verging on smug, after I’d been warned ‘you’ll be on Day 1 for quite a while’, here I was only a few hours from bedtime and, well, call me Miss Positivity.

Until I stepped outside to walk the dog and ran into a neighbor.

We chatted for about – ooooo – 10 minutes. By which time I’d switched the band about 5 times. My mind was scrambling to try to direct our conversation away from complaints to something positive, something neutral… but I couldn’t help it. I dived right it and complained along with her. I literally couldn’t stop my mouth from moving even as my brain was screaming ‘NOOOOOOOOOOOOO’.

Later on the phone with a friend I resolved to make it through one of our usual hour long chats without a complaint or a negative comment, even though I’d already fucked my Day 1 chances of moving to Day 2. After a while I noticed that having to pay 100% attention to her words (and mine), not only energized the shit out of me, but I felt good. Really good. For no reason. Now obviously chatting with a friend should make you feel good. You’re connecting, your laughing, you’re nattering on about nothing… its fun. That’s why you’re friends. But this was something else. As I hung up the phone, I felt … well… joy.

In really engaging with her, focusing on the great things happening in her life, I found myself talking about the awesomeness that is going on with me. She responded to my positivity in kind and in an hour, my mood was positively giddy with joy. Something that I’d not been able to locate for myself with a therapist or a bottle of wine. Apparently focusing on the positive…. makes you positive?

Day 2 (though its still Day 1 according to my wrist). A full day of conference calls and face to face meetings, and by mid day I’ve noticed that I need to give my full attention to each meeting in order to stay positive and factual. I’m more careful when I speak, and I’m actually having to think about my words before I use them (first time in 42 years kids!). I still failed to make it through the day without a neg sentence, but my awareness of doing it – switching my elastic band each time – helped me try harder with each call. And most strange of all, I felt more positive overall. I was excited about work. I noticed more of the good, less of the stuff which generally drives me nuts. Its so unbelievably weird.

If your life is really determined by your thoughts, and your words reflect those thoughts. Then words really do matter. But can you really change your thoughts, by changing your words? I don’t know, but I’m interested to find out where this goes.

I’ll be over here, snapping my elastic band and frantically trying to steer the conversation away from the weather.

Negative Nelly and Debbie Downer come to stay

sad-eyesWe’ve all been there. A rainy Monday, a crappy Wednesday or even a particularly slow Sunday afternoon which seems to echo with melancholy (and historically Songs of Praise – British reference, sorry).

Yep, its January which means the Negative Nellys and Debbie Downers are in town.

I’ve always considered myself a bit of an optimist. I can see through the crappy times enough to know that everything evens out in the end and have found humor in many of my dark days. Looking back, life has been largely unbelievably awesome and very rarely cruel and I know that I’m lucky. Extremely lucky. I really don’t have any reason to be down. I’ve never been unemployed for longer than a week, I’ve never had to beg for food or money or clothing (unless my sister was involved, in which case, all three were involved and an awful lot of whining). I have a lovely, flawed family, and those who’ve left life.. well I got them while they were around. For 8 or 9 months of the year I bounce off the walls with joy and energy, rolling right over the ugly stuff and looking onward and upward. I’m lucky. I’m healthy (*ish). I have nothing really to feed my blues.

But apparently no-one told my serotonin levels. They’ve buggered off to Hawaii for the foreseeable, leaving me with two house guests who just won’t leave. Negative Nelly and Debbie Downer.

Shakespeare said that April is the cruelest month, but I say January is the crappiest.

Your credit cards are still injured from the holidays, you’re toting around an extra 5, 10, 15lbs of turkey weight, and wouldn’t you know it… its fucking freezing and dark. No major holidays to look forward to and only taxes on the horizon.. January is a fucknuckle of a time.  (February isn’t much easier, but at least you know that there’s a mid month sale on chocolate (Feb 16th.. best.day.ever))

But January… January blows. Always. And this year???

Nelly and Debbie seemed to come early this year, inviting themselves in for an extended stay through the beginning of November, taking over the TV remote in December, and now, at the end of January, they’ve figuratively repainted the living room and are receiving mail.

I don’t know why. But damn, I wish they’d leave. I keep trying to ignore them, move to a different ‘room’ in my head, but no matter where I go.. there they are… pointing out all the bad stuff and moaning to each other about it. Money, work, friendships, weight, fitness, getting older, ASPCA adverts. the plight of the polar bear… oh boy. Its quite the party in my house once Debbie and Nelly get going.

The result for me? I’ve regressed to the 3 year old who just learned how to say ‘no’. Everything that comes out of my mouth for the last few months has been a ‘sorry I can’t’, ‘it won’t work’, ‘nope’ ‘sorry’ and did I mention ‘no’? I can hear it, I am aware of it, but somehow I can’t stop the words from coming out of my mouth. Even as I hear them tumbling out of my mouth ‘ It wont’ work’ ‘We don’t have time’, I want to stuff them back down my throat and slap myself for being such a pain in the ass.

What’s frustrating is that I don’t even believe or intend the words as they come out. Its as though Nelly and Debbie are standing between my head and my mouth, and even as I’m thinking ‘yes’, ‘sure’ ‘ok, no problem’ ‘maybe’, the words never actually reach my mouth. Instead out comes my inner ‘Eeyore’. I’ve tried saying nothing but Nelly never sleeps and once she gets going Debbie joins right on it.

So today I officially am asking the girls to leave. I’m done with the word ‘no’ and ‘We can’t’ and I hate that I’m identifying with the most depressed donkey in history. Plus if I don’t start saying yes soon, I’ll end up fired and really have some problems. This January malaise has to end and so my visitors are officially kicked to the curb as of Friday.

After all, Saturday is February 1st and I’ve got some chocolate scouting to do.