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.

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.

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.

 

 

 

 

Riding with girls

01 MtnBikingWomen-2500pxI’m easily intimidated and not the most socially adept person when meeting men, women or small children (FYI: dogs love me), but this weekend I decided to do something that scared me, and signed up for a women’s mountain biking clinic.

The group name – Dirt Divas – was my first hurdle. Any association with the word ‘Diva’ implies Mariah Carey, high maintainance women and satin floor length dresses as far as I’m concerned.. non of which naturally sprang to mind in association with mountain biking. Plus ‘Divas’? Does this mean they’re all super awesome pro racers who sneer at us amateurs who still struggle to bunny hop up a curb? But I saw that the clinic was being run by pro downhill racer, Zach Griffith, and figured that I could use any advice for not overshooting switchbacks.. even if I had to do so surrounded by elite riders or chicks in evening gowns. I’ve provided the front range mountain biking community with enough YouTube clips this year thanks and frankly, 1/3 of my salary is going to Bandaids and gauze pads. So if the ‘Divas’ could waive the floor length satin dress requirement .. I was in.

Having ridden with dudes my entire life, I’m a bit tired of being dropped, panting my way up the trail only to have the entire group spring back on their bikes, just as I’m unclipping for a bit of a rest. I hate that dudes consider my walking a 3 ft drop as ‘pussying out’ and frankly, I know I’m never going to be awesome, so I just enjoy doing what I can. As a result, I’ve been riding alone this year. Something that is dangerous when injury is involved (a weekly occurrence for me), plus it changes the ‘post ride beer in the parking lot’ from a fun group activity to a weird ‘stay away from the weird alcoholic lady’ warning to small children.

I need chicks to mountain bike ride with. Women who can actually ride up rocks, but who know that waiting means waiting.. and won’t sneer when you can’t make it up the 10th washout board in the ladder. Who you can emphasize with you when the handlebar jabs you in the boob or when you didn’t unclip fast enough and hit the thorn-bush ass first. But I don’t know any… I did, but they all got married and quit, or now ride with their kids.

I had a moment of fear as I pulled up to the parking lot, frantically checking that no one was wearing downhill pads or a dirt bike helmet, but breathed out as I saw a chick wrestling her Ibis off her rack and not a Fox jersey in sight. In fact, as more of us pulled up, it looked more and more normal. Chicks my age, most of us driving trucks and 4Runners, baring scarred knees, junk in our trunk, dirty shoes and not a swipe of makeup amongst us.

As I stood with the other ‘Divas’ (never was a group so misnamed.. not an inkling of cleavage or small dog amongst us), a chick behind me said ‘I hope no one here is awesome, cos I suck‘ and I knew I’d found my people.

It was GLORIOUS.

The clinic itself – well I’ll skip the details as its only interesting to about 2 other people in the universe was great, but the overwhelming joy I felt was more due to the opportunity to do sports with other women. Something I don’t think I’ve done since high school.

Once we’d gotten over the ‘I’m crapper than you’ modesty show down (can you imagine dudes having that conversation?), it was all about asking for advice, guidance and at one point, a round of applause for some cornering which would make a slalom racer proud.

Do dudes applaud when someone nails it?

Our coach (married with 2 daughters, and seemingly endless patience for chicks) balanced delivering information en masse, followed by one on one, second by second coaching as we rode the course. What normally would have had me knotted and sweaty, morphed into memories of my dad showing me how to ride while running behind me with his hand on my seat. It wasn’t embarrassing or weird, or intimidating in the slightest. Just hearing that voice behind you, and shouts from the chicks waiting their turn, turned the day from a ‘how to’ into one huge bonding session. Soon chicks were videoing each other, showing each other where they were dropping the wrong foot or standing too high, helping to dissect their own and each others bad habits. And with the usual feminine  modesty prevailing, the atmosphere was weirdly supportive and fun rather than critical.

When I found out that the group rides during the week, takes weekend trips to downhill and explore the state both on and off-road, I was sold. Finally, a group of like-minded ladies who aren’t going to leave me in the dust, but still ride hard enough to give me lots to learn. Some are already racers, others (like me), getting the hang of a new bike, without the annoyance of being the slow poke of the group.

As I left the group, grinning like an idiot despite learning that I’ve been riding all kinds of wrong for the last 20 years, I realized that for the first time in my life I’d found a whole group of people just like me. Tomboys. Girls who like to get dirty and sweaty, but haven’t turned into dudes while doing it. Girls who aren’t competitive, but who want to keep learning and pushing themselves for no reason other than it feels good. Girls who don’t take it that seriously and who aren’t afraid to curse loudly when it all goes tits up.

And when someone said ‘lets ride Wednesday’.. I realized that these chicas actually recognized one of their own. And want me to be a ‘diva’ too.

6 years of therapy = one morning with some mountain biking chicks.

So I didn’t meet any actual “Diva’s” and I didn’t get that dirty, but I did learn that doing scary things always has a payoff. And doing scary things with girls doesn’t have to mean cliques, discussions about men, feeling old or being frightened by expertise. You might learn something, you definitely will meet some new people and when one chick mentioned that she’d gotten a new dirt bike, well I think I just met my new best friend.

“How to Stop violence against women: Get Married” WTF??

knuckle-wedding-ring-300x225The Washington Post recently published an Op Ed entitled “One way to end violence against women? Stop taking lovers and get married”

In response to the #YesAllWomen campaign that has been setting Twitter afire (aimed at raising the consciousness of men to the ongoing violence that women face from men), the Washington Post acknowledges that true.. we have a point.. but it’s not that simple:

This social media outpouring makes it clear that some men pose a real threat to the physical and psychic welfare of women and girls. But obscured in the public conversation about the violence against women is the fact that some other men are more likely to protect women, directly and indirectly, from the threat of male violence: married biological fathers.”

So apparently women just need to surround themselves with married men in order to be safe when walking home from a party, filling up the car with gas after 10pm or just walking down the street at any time of night or day? Good lord, if only I’d known.

Now not wanting to be a downer, but almost all (if not all) women have at some point in their lives felt unsafe or threatened by a man. Whether its hearing someone jogging up behind you at dusk, a weird guy you encounter when out walking the dog on a trail,an angry boyfriend who punches the wall or just walking to your car when you leave the airport after an evening flight. Many, most, all (?) women have sped up, changed direction, left the house, grasped their keys as makeshift knuckle dusters or even decided to invest in some pepper spray.

Why I’ve been so blown away by the response to ‘YesAllWomen’ (cleverly entitled #NotAllMen) is that so many men weren’t aware, or didn’t care, or doubt that many chicks are walking around seriously worried about being attacked, threatened, robbed or even raped. It’s just not part of their reality. After all, if your straight, white and live in middle class neighborhood, threats to your safety are pretty much self-imposed as a result of too much beer.

Now I’m not a nervous nelly kind of chick when it comes to going out and about. I’ve been burglarized 4 times in the UK, had more mountain bikes stolen than I can remember, and once even had to clean a turd out of my bathtub from a junkie who, after taking all my left shoes and CDs, decided to leave me a little gift. Lets just say, I’m aware of crime.

But I moved to the US knowing not one of the 360 million people in the country, and I felt fine.  I drove around Chicago at night, working on projects in Detroit, Dallas and downtown Miami without fear and knew to trust the hairs on the back of my neck. I hiked alone, I flew 100,000 miles alone, I lived alone and spent an inordinate amount of time in places I didn’t know, guided only by a crappy Hertz map and the name of a random hotel (I was a consultant in my former life, not a hooker).

I knew that some places were safe, some behaviors weren’t and unless I was silly, I wasn’t ever worried about violence. Right up until someone assaulted me on the street in the middle of the day on the Miracle Mile in Chicago.  Then someone assaulted me, again in the middle of the day, on the subway in New York.  And while I didn’t wind up sobbing in the shower (per the movies), I certainly took a while to leave the house again. And I bought my first can of pepper spray.

And I’m one of the lucky ones.

I haven’t been raped and I’ve not feared for my life since coming to the US. But I have noticed an increasing level of fear creeping into my daily life, as the violence and anger against women seems to be increasing. I don’t walk home in the dark any more. I certainly wouldn’t walk my dog after 9pm and despite living in one of the safest areas in town, I sleep with my gun next to my bed.

Overkill? Maybe. But hearing about an attempted rape at 4pm, just 4 blocks from my apartment, tends to make you leary. As did the series of assaulting taking place last summer in our neighborhood park. All during the daytime. All on women out running on their own.

Now I’m not sure if these women were running in heels and a bra, a mini skirt and fuck me heels or simply shorts and a t-shirt, but it’s highly unlikely ‘they were asking for it’ or putting themselves in a ‘dangerous place’.  But according to the Washington Post, they simply should have taken a married man along with them for safety.

Yes its laughable. Ridiculous. But that’s the advice we’re getting these days. Not – stop the violence – or ‘why is this happening?’ or ‘how can we fix it?’ but ‘take a married man along’.

In fact, according to the Washington Post, just grabbing the nearest dude with a ring isn’t enough.. I actually need to BE married in order to be safe;

“Overall, another U.S. Department of Justice study found that never-married women are nearly four times more likely to be victims of violent crime, compared to married women. The bottom line is that married women are less likely to be raped, assaulted, or robbed than their unmarried peers”

I’d love to see the Washington Post suggest this to men. That they surround themselves with married women in order to protect their personal safety. That they should themselves, get married in order to avoid violence or aggression in their lives. It even sounds ridiculous typing it.

But for women.. that’s what we got.

So in the quest for personal safety, I guess I should go re-write my match.com profile.

 

 

Drowning not waving

kid swimmingI’ve always been more a land lover. I mean, I’m the goat according to astrology, I hate heights and while I love to sail, you can count the number of times I’ve voluntarily got in the ocean in the last 10 years on one hand (does it count if the water doesn’t reach your knees?). I love looking at the sea, love being near it, the smell of it and being on it. But in it? Thats what fish are for. I’ll stick with my bathtub.

Why?

Given that I grew up in one of the wettest parts of the wettest countries in the Northern Hemisphere, I do realize that I’m inherently waterproof. I know that unless my head goes under the water, I am unlikely to drown. That oceans are essential for the longevity of the planet and the human species…. but I can’t help it, standing in large pools of water just freaks me out.

It started when I learned to swim.

NOTE: “Learned” being a metaphorical word for ‘didn’t drown but almost achieved success on several occasions’.

I was around 8 or 9 and cursed with a buoyant and enthuastic swimmer in the family, I learned that the placenta of safety and joy (aka my inflatable ring) was about to be cut, and I was ‘going to learn how to swim’.

A few days later I found myself shiverring with 20 other milk bottle white kids, goosepimply and panicing in a balmy 50 degree pool the size of Germany. I could stand up – barely – if I stood on my tippy toes, (which I did with hope that my mother would notice my balletic leanings and yank me off to ballet instead of this swimming thing). But to no avail. I was going to learn to swim.

Or so I think thats what she yelled when I started looking frantically for the exit.

Back in the day, our local swimming pool subscribed to the ‘sink or swim’ theory of learning. Literally – taken them out of their depth, tell them to push off from the side, and wait to see who makes it to the other side.

I sank to the bottom of the pool like a brick.

Something that nobody noticed other than my Mum, who had to yell from the balconey to alert the instructor to the kid in the brown swim suit, currently flailing around at the bottom of the deep end of the pool.

Which is when I was hooked out of the water like a pathetic excuse for a guppy. Choking, crying and really hoping that I’d made my point.

Unfortunately my mother, safe in the knowledge that her kid hadn’t drowned, had slipped off for a cup of tea, leaving me to the mercy of the instructor who decided that the only way I would learn, would be through repeated opportunity. I shouted ‘Muuuuuuuuuum’ in vain as I was frog marched to the pool stairs and told to get back into the water.

Lets just say I swallowed a LOT of pool that day, and I got hooked on several occassions.

Progress? Well he learned how to hook an 8 year old really fast.. me… I learned that there really isn’t a limit on how much chlorine you can consume.

Needless to say, swimming face down, across a pool, remains a bit of a traumatic experience for me even today. Age 42.

Now I’m not stupid, I can backstroke like a champ and I can breast stroke like a 90 year old church lady with the best of them. I mean I sailed competitively for 10 years – I knew I needed to be able to surive in water. But face down, head in the water, pushing off from the side into deep water for pleasure? Riiiiiight. I’ll be over here doing anything else.

Until now.

I love a challenge and every year I pick something that scares the bejesus out of me and try to tackle it. To date I’ve not died or suffered hospitalization, but I do carry a lot of Xanax around.

(Hey, I want to have a life.. even if its terrifying 50% of the time)

After motorcycling, getting back on a mountain bike, shooting, fishing, rock climbing and climbing 3 14-ers in a day.. I decided that screw my fear, screw the cold pee infused water, screw the likelihood of being hooked (I challenge any lifeguard to hook my ass out of a pool), I would learn how to swim.

Properly. Face down. In the water.

A few weeks ago I signed up for Adult Swim (20 classes for $44… the cheapest sport I’ve ever taken up and the only one which didn’t require a helmet), bought a terrible unflattering swim suit and last night.. I headed to the rec center for my first lesson.

As I scanned the list for my class, I noticed that a) I was the only one on it, b) the other class was 8 year olds learning butterfly and c) my instructor was a 16 year old called Joe.

Hey, I have no ego around this. I’m wearing a rubber cap and my boobs are smushed down to my waist.. my main objective is to not drown. All I care about is the location of the hook, and whether Joe’s waifish arms are going to be sufficient to lever me out once I start sinking. I pray for ‘wiry strength’ and climb in.

20 minutes later I’ve swallowed a few gallons of chlorine/pee flavored water.. and I’ve swum a width of the pool with my face in the water.

If I hadn’t been the only adult in the pool, and slightly less British, I would have had to air punch my victory. No hook. No sinking. No panic.. and once I realized that you’re allowed to take your head out to breath at any time… actual oxygen did reach my lungs on at least once occassion.

Joe encouraged me to swim a few more widths, but I knew I needed to quit while I was ahead. After all, we’ve got 19 more lessons to go. I don’t want to go too fast or he’ll be trying to get me to swim an actual length.

 

 

 

Small talk, schmall talk

flirtawkwardI’m notoriously bad at small talk. Horrific at flirting. Don’t even get me started on trying to start a conversation with a cute guy. To watch it, you’d be amazed that I’ve ever seen a human before, never mind engaged in the act of speaking to one.

I think I missed school the day that everyone else learned how to meet new people and ‘do’ small talk. That day, which weirdly coincided with the day where everyone learned how to style their hair and apply mascara, all the girls learned how to carry on light and easy conversations with every one. I, apparently, had a cold that day.

Normal conversation, interaction with people I know well has never a problem. In fact, those who know me, can’t shut me up. I’m a notorious interrupter (second child syndrome) and as my girl friends know, I can and will talk about pretty much anything.. endlessly. But as soon as I meet someone I don’t know… cottonmouth and..well … nothing.  If something comes out, it was guaranteed to be weird, odd or completely inappropriate… Tourettes-like..sans the swearing and rocking. If its a cute guy.. don’t ask. Its bad.

By the time I was 18, I was legally aided and abetted in small talk situations by my friend ‘alcohol’ which solved my evenings out. Unfortunately you can’t drink your way through life (or you can, but I find slurring and blackouts tend to interfere with that whole ‘job’ thing). So at 40ish, I still struggle with how to talk to people I don’t know and my mouth still acts independently of my brain. The outcome when men are involved?  A cringe worthy mix of insults and bizarro questions that no sane person would ever utter:

  • Asking the lead singer of Rascal Flatts why he was wearing pajamas during the day (he wasn’t)
  • Asking a coworker if his nipples were hard or ‘always like that?’
  • Suggesting a single friend try Craigslist for a date (‘you know, there’s all kinds of people on there’)
  • Telling my new boss he might be overdoing the hair product.
  • Introducing myself to my Crossfit coach with the words ‘Just so you know, I’m not going to like this’
  • Telling a hot guy ‘ you smell like olive oil’

Yes. I know. I don’t know why. Stupid shit just pours from my mouth.

Why I would think any of these comments or opening gambits would lead to anything other than odd looks and quick getaways?  I don’t.. but try as I might (and I DO try) the ability to start a conversation with a stranger, especially a cute male stranger, still elludes me at the age of 41. Normal people can talk about the weather, the Broncos, their weekend, hell.. even their muffin. Me? Well I’m hoping ‘me talk pretty one day’ and until then, my verbal IQ is around 26.

Which leads me to my current conundrum. After a random cute guy approached me this weekend (he complimented my tattoo), I found myself in my usual state of dumbstruck-itude. Luckily, I was too cotton-mouthed to actually articulate what was running through my head (‘you have a beard.you are cute. you have a beard). Instead I squeaked out a ‘thank-you’ and studying my lap intensely as he walked over to his friends at another table.

Yes, I know I’m over 40.

Later as I noticed him looking over in my direction, I desperately tried to think of something, anything I could say to him that was casual, light and not likely to send him running. The best I could come up with as I left the coffee shop was ‘Nice elbows’.

(No, not ‘Nice tats yourself’… no, I complemented his ELBOWS. Where the tattoos were located.. but still, ‘nice elbows‘?).

Even now, I can’t stop my eyes rolling back in my head with mortification.

So if you’re out there Mr Beardy cyclist with the cool tattoo’d ELBOWS from this morning I wanted to say ‘Thank you for the compliment. Yours are pretty cool too’. And if I’m ever drunk enough to forget the previous interaction.. I’d probably like to ask you out for a drink.

Baby steps…

Before and After

hiding

As those of us who actively date know, the days after something has ended is often more fraught and emotionally charged that when you were actually dating. But not a good way.

Before you were excited to see his number pop up on your phone screen and curious as to what he had to say, now you cringe and hit delete (while feeling somehow ‘invaded’) and pray that he doesn’t resort to text. Before you spent time thinking about the time you’d spend together and the things you’d do, now you pray that Denver is big enough that you’ll never run into each other again.

And the biggest ‘before’… before you didn’t give a thought to what type of an ex he’d make, because he was lovely enough for you to date. ‘After’ ..well all of those things you noticed and appreciated about him.. frankly, now creep and annoy the heck out of you.

In my mid twenties I dated one of my neighbors. It was easy, heck it felt like we’d created a kind of ‘Threes Company’ featuring me, him and his cat. He was just a flight of stairs away and we saw each other all the time. We drank wine on his patio, ate breakfast on mine. He played piano as I read the Sunday papers, and I sometimes felt like I was living in a movie – it was just so lovely.  He was easy going, funny and warm, he liked taking care of things for me and I felt adored. Traits I loved about him. Right up until the relationship ran its course. At which point he became all of those things x 100.

Well he didn’t, but the need to disentangle from him brought all of these personality traits to the fore. And loving and warm, kind of becomes claustrophobic and creepy when you’ve just dumped someone.  I’d have dealt better if he’d have cut off contact like any normal guy.. instead he was just the same, but more eager to prove himself on the off-chance that I might change my mind.

Did I need help carrying my groceries? How was my day? Did I want to check out his new jazz CD? How about I come over for a glass of wine? Was I sure I didn’t need help carrying that from my car?

I had to move.

Did I need help packing my boxes? Did I need him to arrange a moving truck? Was I ok?

ARGH… GO AWAY.

To be honest, he was just being nice and trying to make it easy, but within a few weeks every single thing about him made my skin crawl and the air suck out of my lungs. Thankfully once I moved, he adopted the usual post-relationship model of ‘see you around’ and I never heard from him again.

(sorry people who stay friends with their ex’s… but I think you’re really weird)

My neighbor currently finds herself in a similar situation. Before she thrilled at the sight of her new boyfriend across the courtyard.. now he’s an ‘ex’, she skulks around unless she’s looking her best. Before she was warmed by the sight of him through his window.. now she has to watch him date other women though the very same window.  We don’t ever think of the ‘after’ when we’re in the ‘before’ stages, but I’m betting she’ll give it a thought before she dates again.. and I sure will after the latest foray.

What once was intensity and focus has become obsessive and weird. The traits which advertised him as a good catch – consistency, rigor and thoughtfulness – have resulted in text after text, email after email looking for explanation, throwing accusations and character assassinations every which way. This morning I am apparently ‘mentally ill’ and ‘a complete nutter’ and that was just the text I read.

Before I was smitten.. two weeks later, I’m frankly, quite scared.

Which leads to today’s advice. Always spare a thought for the ‘after’ before you start. All those characteristics and personality traits which you find so charming today.. spare a thought for what they’d look like turned against you. Because while you’re hopeful and sure that this one is going to work.. likelihood says that it might not. Whether you dated for 2 weeks or 2 years, one day you could be ducking and dodging, screening and blocking at some point in the future.  And while we might wish that they’d just ‘go away’ once we’ve pressed delete on their number.. not everyone does.

Touch

I was talking with a friend this weekend and, after we’d exhausted all usual topics – work, promotions we won’t be getting, her dates, my dry winter – the topic of boyfriends came up. After 6 months of nothing, I’m quite used to an estrogen driven life. Sure I catch the occasional taco with a guy friend, or stumble over an ex (Denver is too small), but largely these days my life is kind of testosterone ‘lite’. I can’t remember the last time I had a date in Denver, with someone who lived here, so I’m somewhat used to it. But what I can’t quite get to used to is the complete and utter lack of touch.

No, not that kind of touch.. just, well, touch.

When you’re dating or living with or married to someone, your days are spent touching. The casual hand hold, sofa slouch and even just a hand on your back as you are passed in the kitchen. Think about it.. when was the last time you were touched?   If you’re with someone, I bet it was hours or maybe days ago (hey I remember arguments resulting in the Berlin wall down the bed). But you touch all the time.. platonically, ironically, sexually, or just to get into the bathroom dammit.

In the 90s’ ‘Romanian Baby Attachment Disorder’ was defined when studies of infants adopted from the orphanages showed a startling inability to form attachments with their new parents. As institutionalized babies, they didn’t receive adequate touch, and therefore never really learned how to connect. The studies found that just being held or touched by anyone on a regular basis, helped mitigate the disorder later in life.  Lack of touch literally fucked them up.

Now I’m no Romanian baby, but I kind of understand where they were coming from. As humans we’re a social group, and touch is a vital part of being alive, of feeling connected and well, noticed.
As a single person living alone, the only thing that touches me lately is my dog (no, not the pervy kind). Throw in a British upbringing and a history of firm handshakes over hugs, well, touch isn’t something that I’d actually really thought was that important. Until it went away completely.
When my friend asked me about the last time I was touched, I had to think… 6 months ago? And suddenly felt unaccountability sad. No person has touched me in 180 days? That’s got to be unhealthy right?

Growing up I spent more than my fair share of time in a headlock, linked arm with someone or even just sitting on someone’s shoulders to see the band better. We held hands, pulled each other around and often found ourselves slumped against each other.  But as we age in the West, its less and less acceptable to touch people as you go about your day. We shirk away the guy in the airplane seat next to us, the person in line who bumps us, or even the guy who hands us our change.  We seem afraid of touching each other. Sure, we hug our friends on occasion and we might get a punch in the arm from a cute guy (or maybe that’s just me?) but largely we reserve our touches (no, not the pervy kind) for those we love.
180 days without skin on skin, or even skin on thermal? God that’s depressing.

‘Oh poor you!’ my friend said as she gathered me in for a hug.

Nothing like a charity hug to make you feel even more like a loser.

Maybe this is what I’m missing lately.. not the dating or the dinners, the sex, or the kind words.. maybe what I miss is the touch. The casual leg thrown across mine, the arm on arm contact or just a hand on hand. And that’s harder to find than you’d think.  I tried to touch a guy friend of mine on his arm a few days ago as we walked (platonically) around the park. He reacted as though I’d just proposed marriage. And babies. And had declared love for him. My embarrassment at his horrified reaction made the walk home excruciatingly painful. Guess I won’t be hanging out with him any more.
The next step could be one of my boomerangs, but I can imagine the text messages;

‘Do you want to hang out?’

‘Y? U hot for me?’

‘Umm..’

‘How about some Gatorade fueled lovin’? You know you want it’

‘Actually … ‘

‘….I kind of… want…. to hold your hand?’

Form a queue ladies and gentleman, form a queue. In the meantime I’ll be booking myself a massage.

Do bears shit in the woods? Boyfriends do..

 My track record with dating as been quite the ride of exciting adventures, escapades and in this instance, a spine quivering, bowl loosening ‘come to Jesus’ moment.
I found Scooter while fishing around for a ‘First Friday’ art walk date. I love checking out the galleries on the first Friday of the month, clutching my slightly warm plastic cup of white wine, if only because the people watching is extraordinary and I once had a discussion with a mortician who showed me photos of a cremation.

FYI: not recommended viewing and has me reconsidering being shot into space upon my death. The process of burning people looks horrific.

Anyhow, I found Scooter online and he seemed up for the challenge of a chick who can’t handle her mouth or her alcohol, so we met up and had a great time. He was the right side of quirky (like me, he’d spent his teens and twenties jumping up and down in a nightclub, and his thirties with a headache), his last girlfriend was a dominatrix and he had a wicked sense of humor. There didn’t seem anything too visibly wrong, so we started dating.

Scooter was Mr. Outdoors. He rode everywhere, decried my ‘lady rides’ of 40 miles and dragged me across the Front Range , trying to whip me into some kind of enthusiasm for a 100 mile ride or a 100 mile run, or some kind of uber challenge. He talked about his love of camping, his outdoor enthusiasm for hiking, backpacking and even multi day mountain bikes rides.  I mentally planned our next few years of travel and overlooked some of his lesser attributes. So he talked with his mouth full, he held his utensils like prehensile man and called me ‘buddy’… I’m not that fancy that they were deal breakers. We hiked, we biked, I looked away when he ate,… it was a fun summer.
So I never actually saw where he lived, he always got a little fuzzy about his ex’s and he had the organizational skill of a newborn kitten… but nobody’s perfect. 

Then I made the mistake of mentioning my desire to take a multi week backpacking trip up to the Tetons and into Montana.  I figured that Scooter would be a fun companion, had experience and he didn’t make me want to stick a fork in my eye after a few hours in the car. My friends were horrified – ‘but you’ve only known him 3 months!!!’ – but calmed down when I mentioned his vast experience chasing mountain lions, bears and creating fire with little more than a Luna bar and some vodka.  Skills important in the wilderness.

We prepped for the big trip, laying out our hiking plans, scheduling permits and laying in the dehydrated meals. Bears are a big problem in the wilderness so no fresh food for 2 weeks – it seemed a small price for 12 days of uninterrupted hiking, silence and unsullied nature. My excitement clearly addled all logical thought such as ‘do you want to spend 12 days with a person you barely know, miles from anywhere, surrounded by wildlife that could, literally, eat you?’ Nope, I was more worried about whether we’d be too stinky to have sex after a few days. Priorities in order? Not exactly.

The morning of our departure was ominous.  Scooter arrived with several suitcases. Yes, suitcases.
With my mouth agape, he quickly assured me that his pack was broken and we needed to stop at REI or Sierra Trading post on the way so he could get a new pack. The suitcases were just ‘staging’ equipment. Ok, not a good sign when we’ve been planning for weeks and you didn’t think to check your pack until the night before…. but… okaaaay? We headed up I25 and into Wyoming. 

Montana is actually a straight drive, something I know now, but we decided to break the trip in two and stop in Wyoming first. Scooter had a place in mind where he’d camped before.
I quickly realized that Scooters idea of ‘great camping’ and mine might be slightly different as we bumped along a dirt road past oil wells and deserted gas stations. Hmm. ‘Edgy’ but not really what I look for in a camping site. Never mind, it was nearing dusk and I just wanted to crack a beer and figure out our kit.

I’m a seasoned camper. I can throw up my tent in about 2 minutes and have hot water for tea going a minute after that. Scooter… well… he seemed a little overwhelmed. As he started unpacking his suitcases to find his sleeping bag, I noticed that he seemed to have packed, well, everything he owned. A creeping nausea developed when I saw him put aside a pair of dress pants and yank out his sleeping pad. I started to feel that maybe Scooter’s ‘camping’ wasn’t the same as my ‘camping’.  I’d never been to Montana, but I don’t think there is a dress code on the trail.
But, ever the optimist I ignored my gut and dived into trying to help the poor sod organize his kit. Maybe he was just super disorganized?? Maybe this was how people from Michigan camped? We rearranged his suitcases (!) and tucked in for the night.

We arrived at the Ranger station in the Tetons for our first 5 day trip and I headed inside to pick up our permits, leaving Scooter, his new pack and his suitcases to sort themselves out. 40 minutes later, I returned to find the entire contents of his cases strewn across the parking lot and an empty, tags still on, womens Osprey pack. Why he’d bought a ladies pack I didn’t even bother asking.. at this point, Scooter was becoming quite the mystery to me. But I figured we could wing it. I helped him sort out his ‘necessary’ from ‘unnecessary’ items and left him in search of coffee and a well deserved Valium.

An hour later I returned and the pack remained empty, Scooter struggling to figure out the straps on his pack had decided that kicking it around the floor might make it work better. Clearly the Valium was working because I sailed over, started stuffing his pack and told him to ‘take a hike’. The guy couldn’t organize a piss up in a brewery, good job he was good in bed.

Yes, I should have turned the truck around. I should have called quits on the trip and I probably should have seriously have reconsidered Scooter at that point. But I’m British at the core, and that would be rude. So instead, we headed off to the trail head.

At the very top of Wyoming, at the top of the Teton National park, is nothing. To the north you can see Montana, the Gallatin range, the distant Glacier range, and behind you Yellowstone, the Tetons and pretty much nothing for miles and miles and miles. Except me and Scooter. And his suitcases.

Thanks to the packing drama, we started down the trail late, trying to reach out first campsite before dusk fell. Striding quickly, I could hear Scooter’s pack clanging as he jogged behind me, exclaiming as things dropped off his pack or straps started to chafe. After a couple of miles he whined, ‘Can I get some of your water?’ I swiveled so fast my neck cracked;

‘What about your water?’

‘Oh I left the Nalgene bottles in the truck. Along with the bear spray. That shit was really heavy’

‘…..’

‘I figured we could share?’

‘For 5 days??????’

I’m not sure where Scooter thought we were refilling our bottles, but he obviously hadn’t thought this through… and he clearly had never been backpacking before.  My stomach knotted.

‘So we were going to use 2 water bottles between two of us for 5 days? How often do you think we’re going to be filtering water?’

‘We have to filter the water? We’re in Wyoming…its clean’

‘…!@#@#$%^&*????’

No matter than we’d just seen a huge moose standing in the stream alongside the trail. Apparently Scooter wasn’t too worried about moose feet sweat in his liquids. I finally, finally got the message.

‘Yep. We’re done. Trip’s over. Back to the truck’.

‘But whyyyyyyyyyy?’

‘….’

I turned around and started heading back up the trail, mentally calculating how long it was going to take me to drive back to Denver with my bozo liar boyfriend while gritting my teeth. Maybe 9 hours???

Except a mile later I spotted a large wet paw print in the mud. LARGE. Bigger than my hands and fresh. With really big claws. Bear paw sized.

‘Scooter, start talking. There are bears around we don’t want to surprise them’

‘Oh now you want to talk?’

Scooter took out his camera and stopped on the trail,

‘I’m getting a picture of this, Man, this pawprint is huge!’

I turned away, trying to avoid the urge to kick him in the head. Every single irksome thing, every masticated burrito, every lie flooding back into my brain. Just as I spotted the grizzly bear to my left.

‘Scooooooooooter. There. Is. A. Big. Grizzly. Right. There. ‘

Scooter took one look at the Mini sized fur ball and took off running, his pack bouncing on his shoulders, his sleeping pad dragging along the trail by a single strap.  Leaving me, with the bear.

‘So Bear… I guess I’m meant to talk to you since the ranger said you need to know that I’m here and I don’t want to scare you and I’m about to piss my pants but I’m keeping on talking because my numb nuts of a boyfriend who I’m going to dump as soon as I catch his sorry ass just ran off up the trail and are you sure that you don’t want to chase him please Mr Bear?’

The bear stood watching me spout off and continued chewing his bark. He didn’t move, just stared.

‘Bear please can you go away because I really really need to pee now and if you’re going to charge me can you just make it quick and maybe chase Mr Numb Nuts too he’s further up the trail probably lying to a moose about his extensive camping experience and mountain lion wrestling days…’

The bear looked at me nonplussed, and kept on chewing.

I told that bear everything I planned to do to Scooter as soon as I found him, my past dating history and how I wasn’t going to online date anymore.

He stopped chewing and started to walk towards me.Oh shit, now I’d really pissed him off.

‘Sorry…I’ll just do match.com but no more sketchy weirdos and I’ll definitely make sure to vet them first and I won’t be going on any more camping trips with anyone who doesn’t have a vagina just please don’t eat me ok?

That seemed to appease him and he slowly backed up and lumbered off. A furry Mini, the bringer of the truth to my latest ‘relationship’. It did get points for originality.

As the feeling came back to my knees I started back up the trail. Pissy (literally), furious and sad that this time I literally had put myself in danger due to a bad date. I really should know better by now. Well, never again.

I caught up to Scooter about a mile from the truck. He was sitting on a rock and rubbing his ankle.

‘I think I twisted it when I was running.. where have you been??’

‘Lets just get to the truck and head to a motel or something’

‘AWESOME!!. We can have sex

It took 12 hours to drive back to Denver that night. I didn’t say a word. Scooter took the time to tell me all the things he didn’t like about me, my dog and camping. I’ve not seen him since.

Making up with makeup

Growing up in 1970’s Britain, make up was generally something for hookers and tarts. British women embraced the ‘natural look’ not because we’re in any way beautiful (have you seen Kate Middleton before she was Kate Middleton?), but because bothering about how your face looked was generally seen as extreme vanity or for those who were  a bit ‘full of themselves’. For a culture built on trying not to stand out, trying too hard to improve your looks was seen as tacky, hiding something or, god forbid, trying to be ‘better’ than your neighbor.

America couldn’t be more different. A country built on self improvement and betterment, America (to those who aren’t), is a country of insanely made up women. Beautiful women who can wield a eyeshadow at birth and haven’t been seen naked faced since middle school. Moving here in my 20’s, I marveled at the manicured hands, the dramatic brows, the eyeshadow and lipstick of every woman I saw on the street – in Denver no less. The home of Crocs. I couldn’t believe that every female woke up and performed ‘art’ on their face, before heading out on the door. I could barely get the sleep out of my eyes. It seemed so elaborate, so indulgent, so much effort in order to look slightly prettier than normal. Like professional sports and the missionary position, I didn’t get the allure.

My mother had a lipstick. 1. Which was applied for Christmas work dinners or maybe New Years eve. I seem to remember it being replaced only once it cracked and dried out. She also had a mascara block, a solid square of black goo which was rubbed with a tiny toothbrush and then applied to eyelashes. That was her process. 2 minutes in the bathroom and lipstick on her teeth as she headed out the door. It didn’t set a good precedent for me. Make up didn’t seem to do much except make your lips a weird orange color and your eyelashes blobby.

After a few years in the US, I attended a make up party. Just to see how it worked, you know.. in case I every decided to put some on for a party or something. A good friend of mine, a former actress, walked us through the basics of makeup application. I assumed it was maybe a 5 minute thing which I could use when I was feeling fancy.

Holy shit! Primer, concealer, foundation.. it was like building a house. And that was before you even starting any painting. Eyeliner, mascara, eyeshadow, blush, shaders, bronzers, eyebrow gel, lip liner, lip stick, lip gloss. My list of what I would need to replicate her dewy, natural looking beauty covered two sides of my notebook and seemed like it would take me at least an afternoon to get through. Jeez.. I’d need to start the night before if I was going to get it all done. And every day???? Oh hell no.
I clutched my trusty tinted lip balm and called it good.

I resigned myself to a few forays into lipstick (I also wear it on my teeth, just like my mother), and eyeshadow (I looked like Mortica no matter what I tried), but I always looked like what I was – someone who didn’t know what she was doing, and I rarely came out the other side looking better. Usually I looked like a tranny. I didn’t care  – I was used to my high shine forehead in every photo. But then I turned 40.

The tiny lines and crows feet which hadn’t bothered me before, suddenly seemed crevasse-like on Facebook. When I looked in the mirror, all I saw were age spots from my hours outdoors and creases from my ever increasing workload. My lips seemed to have shrunk and when did I develop such huge pores? This wasn’t a question of vanity, it was personal dignity. I decided to man up and make up with the idea of make up.

My trusted friend took me by the hand, scaled down her process by about 90% and taught me the basics that every American woman seems to be born knowing how to do. I learned how to look less tranny in eyeshadow and I no longer paint my teeth with lipstick. I can hid my acne scars and I don’t look like I’m wearing a mask. I can ‘put on my face’ in about 5 minutes and it only involves 4 things, one of which is moisturizer. I look more put together, less blotchy and slightly less wrinkled.

I’ll never be one of those American women who look effortlessly beautiful and put together, and I still look like a deer in the headlights every time I hit a make up counter, but I’ve made up with the idea of make up. Now waxing… that’s a whole other story.

All by myself.. I’m gonna be… all.. by… myself….

The curse of living alone is that you’re just that. Alone.

Note, I didn’t say lonely. As anyone who’s been by their bad self for a while, we’re not really a people who get lonely. If we did, we’d have partnered up a long time ago with one of the more charming people we’ve met along life’s pathways.  Which isn’t to say that we don’t want to be partnered – this blog is evidence of that alone. (my god have I tried)
 
Last night I spent a lovely few hours chatting with a friend over some wine. She mentioned with a husband out of town she ‘got a taste’ of what it was like to be a singleton when she was invited out with a few married couples.

‘It felt weird so I didn’t go……’

‘.. you know… being the only single person’

I get it. To those who’ve been partnered happily for a while, the idea of going places as a lone reed in a marsh of married folks is strange, lonely, uncomfortable even. But for those of us who don’t have that security blanket, we grow thicker skin and have get on with it. We often prefer it.  (except during flu and snowstorms… and if there’s a really scary spider in the bath). If we waited to be partnered  in order to leave the house we’d all have melded to the sofa and have to be airlifted out of our houses by our match.com dates.

Nope, being alone isn’t lonely. But you are alone.

Which during times of acute stress can be the most isolating feeling in the world. You don’t have that person to unwind with, that sensitive ear to unload into, that ability to unburden to the person sharing your bed. Unloading whats going on in your head allows you to create space in your brain, which leaves room for perspective, humor, even joy. And being alone means that to do that, you’re paying a therapist $100 an hour or upping your ATT wireless plan (and testing some very long term friends). You’re also being incredibly brave and trusting. Which is no small thing for life’s alone-rs.
I’m not sure if its the same for guys, after all, they’re not know for being the worlds best communicators, but I’m sure… sometimes… it has to be. And since guys don’t talk… what do they do?
If my neighbor is anything to go by, playing the bass guitar and chanting…if my ex was a benchmark, riding 100 miles seemed to do the trick. And for most guys, I guess that’s ‘why‘ football.

(really, why else football???)

Being alone can cause you to wake up at 3am in a panic about something minor, because its been bouncing around your head for 2 weeks and you’ve not been able to get rid of it.
On the upside you can have a dinner of cereal and wine, on the downside… well cereal and wine.
Thankfully being alone has taught me one thing… you’re never actually alone.

People, friends, strangers, family, ex hook ups, that hinky guy from the apartment opposite… you are never alone. You can choose to be alone any time you wish.. but you can also choose not to shoulder everything in life alone. And this year I choose not too. Its only 3 weeks in but I’m not going it alone in everything anymore. You don’t get prizes for handling everything yourself and frankly, I can’t afford the Valium prescriptions any more. I might not be unburdening myself to a partner, but I will share when I need to and not feel any shame or embarrassment when I do so.

So, friends, readers, strangers, gird your loins. I’ve got some things on my mind and stories to tell.

Owning it

Today I became a woman.

No, I’m not the oldest pubescent in the world, but I did finally make the switch from thinking of myself as a girl, to mentally owning the word ‘woman’. There isn’t really a female equivalent to ‘growing some balls’ (‘ovary up’?) but today, whatever it is, I did it.

How?

I bought a motorcycle. And rode it.

Notice that I separate the two actions. I bought it. And I rode it. The time in between the two actions was dicey, and my hands are still shaking but I bought and used something purely for the joy and fear of doing it. I can’t claim that its a ‘next step’ in adult hood, or that its advantageous for tax purposes. Its not going to extend my life, make me rich or attract a mate (lord I hope not, biker guys are scary). I can’t blame someone for making me do it. It serves no unique role that isn’t already filled by my truck or my scooter. No. Today I bought something purely because I was scared and excited to do it. And because I finally had the ‘balls’ (ovaries) to do it.

Having spent my girlhood largely following expectations in order to ‘fit in’, my inner desire seems to have finally ‘ovaried up’ enough to do what I want.. regardless of what other people might think.
Yes, sailors and hookers have tattoos… but so do lots of regular people, including me. Yes, bad ass drug kingpins ride motorcycles.. but so do lots of regular people, including me. I’m not taking on the stereotypes to piss off someone.. its more that I finally realized that people are, or aren’t, judging me anyway about things that I largely don’t have control over. So why not have them judge me doing the things that I want and do have control over. So, shaking like a leaf I bought the bike.
Then 6 hours later, shaking like a leaf and resplendent in leather, I rode it around the neighborhood.
The result? I have no desire to get a ‘Love’ or “Mum’ tattoo on my hand, hard drugs are still repellent and I don’t think that I’m ever going to want to drink bourbon, no matter how cold it gets. But today I owned it. I challenged myself and I finally thought of myself as a woman.

Does this mean I can finally bury the white picket fence ideal?

In the words of Bjork.. its oh so quiet…

I think Bjork said it best…

It’s. oh. so quiet
it’s oh. so still
you’re all alone
and so peaceful until…

you fall in love
zing boom
the sky up above
zing boom
is caving in
wow bam
you’ve never been so nuts about a guy
you wanna laugh you wanna cry
you cross your heart and hope to die

’til it’s over and then
it’s nice and quiet
but soon again
starts another big riot

you blow a fuse
zing boom
the devil cuts loose
zing boom
so what’s the use
wow bam
of falling in love

I kicked off my 40th year with a 36 hour make out session with a wanna-be cowboy. I will end this year in cowboy country, but this time, a 36 hour girl-fest. No mother, I’m not finally coming out. But I have committed to new years eve a whole 6 weeks before the event with a girlfriend with friends in fancy places (yay for connected friends).
6 weeks though.. its a time frame I wasn’t even sure existed until today. I barely made plans for my 40th birthday and even then it caused such anxiety I could barely swallow the champagne, (though it was amazing what will power and latent alcoholism can overcome). But I digress..

Based on New Years Eve 2011, I had expected that my year was simply starting off with a bang boom (pe Bjork) quickly followed by the cowboys disappearance and the return to quiet. And it did get quiet.. ridiculously quiet for a woman with a pulse, no obvious deformities and a size 4 butt. I couldn’t get a date if I stood on the corner with a sandwich board. Which match.com really is, but I had sworn that 2012 would be ‘match-free’. Why??? well thats a whole other book.. but I resolved I’d find a mate through more conventional means (and without resorting to a sandwich board). As I headed in July I realized that I hadn’t been taken out for dinner by a man since 2010 and threw caution and $39.99 to the wind. Match.com v3.0. 4 weeks later I was meeting a man at the airport and swiftly diving into love.  It was crazy, intense, moving, passionate.. my heart literally vibrated when I saw him or we waved to each other over Skype. When it ended.. noone wanted to die, but man, it sure got quiet again quick. And nursing some wounded feelings in silence isn’t good for anyone.

Its not as though I mind the quiet times too much – lord knows I’ve been divorced for 5 years- there have been plenty. I calculated that since the age of 18 when I started dating (22 years ago.. no wonder I’m jaded), I’ve literally only been in a ‘relationship’ for about 8 of those years. That’s 16 years of singledom and sporadic dates. No wonder I’m fucking exhausted and slightly bored.

So here I am, its November and I can’t face another man-shopping expedition on Match.com. I know I’m unlikely to meet anyone while sitting in my apartment but there are only so many hours I want to spend at the gym, the yoga studio, the gun range, the bookstore or walking the dog. And what if my potential mate doesn’t have a dog, doesn’t work out or doesn’t read? I’m too old to start manufacturing an interest in the Broncos or hanging out in bars. If I hang out in a bar, dudes think I’m a lush. And if I’m sitting at the bar for a few hours, I am probably becoming one.

My key to sanity? Knowing that in 3 days or 3 months or even 3 years I’ll be back on the roller coaster, craving a night in and some quiet time. So for now.. I try to remember that the zing boom is just around the corner.. and try to enjoy the quiet.