Summer Lovin’

“Summer loving had me a blast…Summer loving happened so fast…”grease_l-4

John Travolta was never so wrong.

Summer used to be the time for first dates, flings, blossoming romance and at least a few months of ‘getting to know you’ dates, dinners, hikes and smooches. Long days, hours of sun and defrosted loins seemed to swarm the city and offer us singletons new hope. It was, in short, a blast.

But lately summer just seems to bring out the hermits, the hostile divorcees and the downright strange. And it’s not just me who has noticed the shitshow that summer dating has become. My single girlfriends are all experiencing a summer of strangeness; flakes, fuck-boys and stage five clingers.

To those happily partnered, let me explain.

Flakes: These charmers jump in, express interest in meeting you then once you accept, just disappear. Having gotten over the hurdle of getting a date.. they just don’t seem to want to make it happen. Flakes fade out faster than your iPhone battery but with far less notice.  The consensus is that flakes don’t actually want to date. They just like the positive thrill of flirting, finding evidence of their attractiveness or creating a ‘black book’ that they’ll never open.  I presume most flakes are already attached, drunk texting or suddenly find me hideous, but mainly I assume they’re just rude.

“John” told me how amazing I was, asked for my phone number , texted me about how he’d love to meet me and how much fun we would have. I finally agreed to a date and then I never heard from him again. Multiple by 20 and that was June.

Fuckboys: Self explanatory really. Guys who are “down for whatever” as long as whatever means sex, straight up, no strings and nothing else. Usually accompanied by a ‘not looking for anything serious, but you never know’, these guys offer up the potential for something in exchange for some humpty.. followed by yawning silence. Where the fuckboy excels is popping up 4, 6, 12 months later, to apologize, seduce and repeat. Great if you just want to get laid, but don’t wait around for a second date; he’s already on his, and it’s not with you.

“Chris” disappeared for a year after our first “date”. He reappeared full of apologies to schedule a “real date” (you know with food and conversation), which I finally agreed to despite misgivings. He left the house after some humpty and then disappeared for 2 years. I headed to therapy with some serious questions over my appeal. Cue year 4, and Chris reappeared proclaiming love. Not surprising, 3 weeks later, he apparently died because I’ve never heard or seen him since. My first, and last, fuckboy.

Stage Five Clingers: After 5 years of dating, I really thought a clinger might be nice. You know, someone who actually wanted to see me. Someone who planned dates, called all the time and seemed to have endless time for me. WARNING- this may be a Stage Five clinger in disguise as ‘normal guy who just thinks I’m awesome’. Be aware, these folks walk right up to the edge of claustrophobic and fall headfirst into stalker territory veeeeery fast.  Expect Facebook, LinkedIn, Insta stalking, back to back texts asking why you’re not responding and then hear about “your” plans for the weekend. All in the first month.

“Bob” was an ok first date and mellowed into a charming second date. I gotta admit, I was sorta excited. Sure, the selfies, morning, noon and night were a little intense, but hey, he was a ‘communicative guy’. But when he started planning “our summer” after our 4th date, and started talkng about ‘believing in me’ and I realized I had a Stage Five Clinger. There’s nice and eager.. and then there’s just.too.much.  After I broke it off, he left a rose on my doorstep and continued to text me support. I put 911 on speed-dial.

And I’m suing John Travolta.

The summer bucket list of a 40-something

  • Research ways to make stay-cation feel more like vacation instead of time to check up on Sand,spade and bucketfriends overseas trips on Facebook.
  • Buy book on personal style. Find new style for 40-ish woman that works for office and home, is smart,  classic and high quality but also funky, on trend and cool. Also slimming. Must not look like a tart. Remember to buy new yoga pants.
  • Find new sun screen. Research chemicals don’t want in it (they seem to keep changing) . Also high protection (45? 50? 100?) but must let enough sun through to get rid of blue/grey leg color. Consider if can ‘ombre’ sunscreen? (white face, tanned legs). Paintbrush?
  • Diet? Feels bit low classy to go on diet for bikini/shorts wearing. Look at Goop and see if ‘wellness’ program will drive weight loss. Cut down wine to just weekends. And Fridays.
  • Sign up for Hinge, Bumble, Tinder, Plenty of Fish and whatever the kids are using. Wonder if need to use actual age? If not, what acceptable age differential?
  • Ask Lisa to take new photos for dating profile. Research ‘photos most likely to result in Likes’.
  • Go to art museum and other cultural events. Enrich mind and explore the city. Also, find out about singles nights.
  • Buy comfortable sandals that don’t make feet sweat, look cute with dresses and don’t look like something my mother would make me. wear in 1978.  NOTE – wedges are ‘basic’.
  • Check am using ‘basic’ correctly. Also ‘bae’ and ‘high key’. JOMO?
  • Figure out how to retweet. Follow more interesting people. George Takai? RoguePOTUSstaff? Unfollow business leaders I followed when trying to find new job.
  • Start watching Game of Thrones. Figure out who Jon Snow character is.
  • Renew New Yorker subscription. Also Glamor, Marie Claire, USWeekly. Teen Vogue? Support the resistance!  (also nieces will think I’m cool.)
  • Buy sun lounger.
  • Have sex.
  • Sleep in.
  • Stay off Facebook.

 

 

 

My dark obsession

No, this isn’t about my wardrobe of black. I put that down to a laziness, a lot of tattoos and the inability to understand what color goes with what.

No. This one is about murder. Close Up Portrait of Ted Bundy Waving

I’ve never been one for horror or scary stuff in general. I’ve never watched a Saw or Jason movie, NCIS or even Law and Order. Just not my bag. Who needs to be reminded of life’s grimness?

However about 12 months ago I noticed my reading pivoted away from my usual mix of lit, adventure and chick lit towards the darker end of the spectrum. Lured by a recommendation from a friend (In a Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware.. bloody brilliant), I started gobbling up true crime, detective stories, thrillers and all things murderery. It didn’t trouble me too much – it’s not like I was taking pointers – but when my Kindle recommendations listed 283 books about murder, I did have to wonder what was going on.

Then came the podcasts. I put down my comedians, the NPR stalwarts and then finally I abandoned everything (except Dan Savage) in favor of true crime storytelling.

Just so you know. It’s a thing.

My Favorite Murder, Case Files, Last Podcast on the Left, Sword and the Scale, Criminal, Unsolved Murders, True Crime Garage..my iPhone looks like the library of your neighborhood psychopath. Stories of mysterious disappearances, unsolved crimes and of course, the cherry, the serial killers.

Yes. I know how that reads.

Some might say that I’m obsessed with death, or horror, or reveling in others misery. Others might conclude that giving power to the worst of humanity by revisiting their terrible acts. Personally I know listening to the stories of suffering puts my life, my worries, into perspective.

Plus it calms me down.

Knowing that I walk in the woods on my own, meet strange men for drinks on the regular, drive cross country at 3am and still haven’t been murdered .. well it makes me calmer. I don’t feel invincible. I certainly don’t feel safer. But I do feel calmer about life. Especially the bad stuff. Because no matter what, I wasn’t kidnapped at 14 and stored in the family basement for 19 years. Nor was I asked to help someone with a broken arm carry something to their car. And for now, I’ve not met anyone who wants to wear my skin. And that makes life a lot more ok.

So screw that therapy, those meds and waking up at 2.20am to obsess about what you forgot to do. Get some true (or fictional) crime in your life and you’ll sleep like a baby.

(or you’ll stop the leaving the house. Its kind of crap-shoot honestly).

 

 

The dating resume

I’m not kidding. The dating resume is a thing. I’ve seen several posted on men’s profile general-resume-11pages. Dating has officially become as difficult as landing that job you want.

There are also a few guys I wish had written and posted them before the actual date… but that’s another story.

Back to the resume. I always assumed resumes were about work, but since first dates increasingly feel like interviews, I guess it was only a matter of time before I was reading some guy’s “Relationship Goal” and checking out his ‘Special skills’. It was pretty helpful to read about his relationship history (like an actual resume, its always the short tenure or long gaps between that generate the most questions for me.

“Susie: April – July 2010. Casual ” Hmm. Wonder if she had the ‘where is this going?” conversation too soon? Maybe she didn’t like oral or maybe he got dumped for continuing to Tinder? I’ll never know and really, do I need to?? Honestly the only one which matters is “Lisa: Aug 2010 – Present. Married”.

Special skills always seems to be an interesting one. I’ve seen actual skills (‘carpentry, cycling, investing’). fun skills (‘Arson level campfire starter’, accomplished bullshitter’) and then the downright weird (‘my hands are so big I can lift a 2 year old on just one’ – #whydoyouknowthis). My favorite one was a guy who’d actually created the image of slider rules to indicate his proficiency in areas such as ‘fashion’ ‘help you find your keys’ and ‘sexy time’ (ranked from -5 to +5). Funnily enough he ranked himself 4.5 on the sexy time. #biasedreview

My absolute favorite though was the guy who created a pie chart to show how he spent his time. Honestly… genius. Segments included ‘fixing things I should have left alone’ ‘trying new things’ and ‘not enjoying new things I’m trying’. Now that’s a guy I can get on board with.

I don’t think I’m quite at the stage of writing a resume for dating yet (too busy fighting the #bitchesbecrazy stereotype), but it did give me pause.

When your special skills include walking in excruciating shoes, showing up 15 minutes early to everything (and then judging you for being on time), and forgetting everything you ever said instantly after a glass of wine.. its probably best to get that out in front.

 

 

 

The goods are still odd

Its been a while. 2 years since I wrote about dating. Largely because I didn’t. After too many years having coffee interviews I decided I was sick of me, sick of them and over it. So, 2 years later here I am. Trying it again.

This time it will be different. I’m different so it has to be right? New attitude, new empathy, patience and more of an understanding that we’re all a bit broken. It was almost exciting.

I am still so naive.

Guy 1: A guy I connected with before I moved to CA. Surprising, despite great photos, he was still single. I moved in on that and suggested we meet for a drink.

First rule of fight club – use photos which were taken within the last decade. Second rule of fight club, ask me a question. Third rule of fight club, don’t email and text while you’re meeting me for the first time. Unless you’re the president… well fuck that.

I learned more about selling doors, his training regime and his work grievances than I ever need to know. Next.

Guy 2: This guy showed up and looked like his photos. Score. I forgive the ‘dad attire’ of pleated front chinos and a golf shirt (maybe he’s being ironic??), but when he insisted we split the bill I had to wonder ‘did I overdo the independent, successful woman’ bit? Still we scheduled another date, and after an enjoyable hike where I learned of his dating spreadsheet (financial independence, distance from his house and athleticism were weighted heavily) and his upcoming dating schedule, he suggested lunch. After hiking for 2 hours with my jaw on the ground, I relented. I ordered a sandwich and a cup of coffee.

He insisted on separate checks.

COME ON!!!!??? At some point this guy thinks he’s wooing me and that given another date or two, he’s going to want to be inside of me. BUT YOU WONT BUY ME A SANDWICH???

Welcome back to dating. The odds are good and the goods are awfully, perpetually, odd.

 

 

Relaxing into spinsterhood

Image result for old lady walking her dog funnyThe other night I walked my dog in my pjs. Not content with one horror, I compounded it with a pair of wool socks, my retainer, some fetching Dansko clogs and an oversized down jacket. And it wasn’t even dark.

What can I say, I am the poster child for spinsterhood.

This journey started some time ago. After getting divorced in my 30s, one of the simple joys I rediscovered was taking off my pants and underwear as soon as I got home from work. Off with the confines of work, back on with comfort. A really bad day? Off with the bra and let everything have some freedom.

However back then, I still had some modicum of dignity. I suspected that I might meet some cute dude while walking my dog, borrow a doggy bag and be moved in by sundown.. so I dressed appropriately when I left the house. I mean I wasn’t throwing down at the park in a thong and some fur-lined heels, but I looked slightly cute. I wore jeans, t-shirts, cute tops even a bra on occasion.  I usually brushed my hair and spritzed on some perfume.  My level of male-dar was on full alert. After all.. you never know. He could be out there..

Fast forward 10 years and how things have changed.   These days as long I’m warm, pretty much anything goes inside the house. Flannel shirts, granny underwear, that 18 yr old pair of pjs, if its comfy.. it’s on.  Outside the house.. well.I’ve walked my dog in a bikini, clothesless under a Barbor jacket, in hole filled sweat pants (quelle horreur) and mostly in clothes I wore the day before (with or without the food I cooked on them). I wear a beanie or a hoodie on my head to hide my rat tails  and I mainly try not to get picked up for vagrancy.

I don’t worry about missing that cute dog walking guy or not looking appropriately attractive enough to draw the attention of that volleyball player. I’m too old for them now and I probably can’t even see them at a distance to be completely honest.

Plus I can categorically verify that no one is out there anyway. I’ve looked. I’ve done more than look, I’ve actually walked about 13,000 miles while looking.  So these days I am settling into my spinsterhood and everything that entails. No underwear after 6, no makeup after Friday and whatever the hell I want to wear while walking my dog.

I think I’ll just date the mailman.

Coward Seeking Adventure

guzzi girlI started my “career” at the tender age of 21 on November 7th, 1994 in London. Wide-eyed, broke as all get out and thrilled at the thought of finally, finally being able call myself grown up. Flash forward 21 years and I’m thinking it might be time for a holiday. An adventure. You know, a gap year. Like everyone else had at 17. I think a break every 21 years is only fair.

Now I don’t have strong urge to sight-see with lots of people, and lying on beach sounds attractive for about 2 days, so I’m thinking a holiday would need to be more of an adventure. A trek. Something Wild-ish or Eat.Pray.Love (without the navel gazing). Something active, maybe a bit scary, definitely boundary pushing. Out of my comfort zone. Something that helps me figure out what I’m made of (other than tea bags).

Inspired by a colleague who recently took off to sail around the world, I pondered my options should I actually find a few weeks or months on my hands.

OPTION 1: A long long long hike. Like the Pacific Coast Trail. Or something a couple of hundred miles at least.

Pro: I’d have legs of steel, I like hiking and I have all the gear.

Con: Bears. Snakes, Mountain Lions. And weirdos who kill women on long hikes.

Pro: I could do it anywhere and it wouldn’t cost me tons of cash

Con: I could wind up dead from hypothermia, bear mauling or a bullet from a psycho

Pro: I might write an award-winning novel about finding myself which would get made into a movie starring someone you’ve never heard of because I don’t look like anyone on the TV

Con: Cheryl Strayed locked that shit up. And I can’t find a pen in an office. Never mind on a trail.

Conclusion: Potential for death = Medium. Cost= Low. Excitement Level = Low. After all.. its walking. A lot.

OPTION 2: A cross-country motorcycle ride. Like across a country. (UK excluded as I could probably do it in a day and it would rain the entire time).

Pro: See Ewan McGregor’s Long Way Down, and Long Way Round. Motorcycles. Camping. Exploring. Off-road. Awesome.

Con: I don’t know how to fix my bike and it only has a 130 mile gas tank. I’d be out of gas before I left my county. My longest ride this year was 75 miles.

Pro: Bike takes $7 to fill up.

Con: Bike tips over if I load it up with more than a laptop and me.

Pro: Bikes go faster than bears.

Con: Psychos can also ride bikes. Or drive into bikes. Or shoot at bikes.

Conclusion: Potential for death = High. Cost = Medium (my guzzi’s parts all need to come via Italy) . Excitement Level = AWESOME.

OPTION 3: India.. anywhere by train

Pro: Yoga. Indian Food. Indian People. Indian Culture. Plus they don’t use wheat flour.

Con: Ummmm??? Samosas?

Pro: Cheap. Like really cheap.

Con: Full of 17 year olds on their gap year smoking hash and talking about saving the world

Conclusion: Potential for death = Low. Cost = Medium (that flight isn’t going to buy itself), Excitement level = Medium/High (India!)

OPTION 4: Take six months to ponder options, solicit friends who actually do travel and plot new adventure which involves Indian food, minimal psychos and motorcycles.

Pro: Sensible, mature, thoughtful

Con: I’m not sensible.

So it looks like me and a bike in India if I find myself with some time on my hands.

India doesn’t have bears right?

The little things

006It’s been a tricky year in my new locale. New job, new company, new town, new state, new weather, new trails, new friends and weirdly no new men.

Trying to build life in a new place, amongst people who can’t tell you apart from a hole in the wall, and don’t have time to ask your name, well its pretty challenging. Doing it with a dog helps (especially when he looks slightly retarded like mine) but overall everything from finding a grocery story, new routes for an easy ride or even where to take visitors for a good meal can mean hours online, polling of work colleagues, and at least 3 U turns on the way to everywhere.

How I don’t have a ticket yet in CA is beyond me. The cops must be BLIND.

Along with all of this life building, I’ve been challenged by long hours at work, resistance from natives who resent us ‘new folks’ driving up rental prices, and for the last 5 months, a bum shoulder that refuses to heal.

I never realized how important that thing at the end of my collarbone was until now. Who knew?

Mainly I’ve missed my friends. All of the people who I knew well, or just slightly, but who at least knew my name. Knowing where the best taco truck is. And the bad sushi.

Finding friends in a new city, a new state is really f-ing hard at 40 something. It takes patience. Time. Extraversion. The ability to appear likeable over a 90 minute period.

See..??? Hard.

But since I’m British (well British-American), I vowed on this, my one year anniversary, to keep plugging away, looking at the palm trees and delighting in the little things I love about my new locale.

Like the motorists who pull over to let you lane split. The seals who watch my dog as he swims for a ball. The smell of the beach on a Friday afternoon. Fresh fish that wasn’t flown anywhere. Riding in redwoods. Motorcycling  on curved mountain roads built for my Guzzi. The Golden Gate bridge anytime.

The little things can be breathtaking.

I miss my old home town, I miss my friends and I miss a reasonable mechanic who isn’t out to fleece me. But as long as there are phones and planes, and the temperature never dips below 50… I’m building my Californian home.

I’ll just have to start dating my mechanic.

California – 3 months in

FroggerMy move to this weird and wackadoo state has been nothing if not eye-opening. I thought after 18+ years in the US, living in multiple states, I was accustomed to the ways and means of the American and its environs.  Apparently no-one told California it’s part of ‘Merica.

California is a state where people still throw things from car windows with abandon, but will scowl if you so much as inch towards letting your dog off leash. Where people will walk a 1/2 mile from the nearest house, office, mall, building etc.. to ensure their cigarette smoke doesn’t offend anyone, but will gaily drive across pedestrian crossings at 40mph while you’re in mid transit with a smile on their face.

I’m still learning the social norms of the place – and since I’m mid way between Googleville (aka San Francisco) and Hemptown (aka Santa Cruz), I’m constantly torn between what’s socially acceptable and what’s completely verboten.

For example, it’s totally fine to wear your work out gear 100% of the time in Santa Cruz… but in San Francisco, workout wear is strictly from 9-11am on a Sat or Sunday morning and only to coffee, (NOT brunch). Oh, and it MUST be black.

Santa Cruz is a ‘whatever’ town. San Francisco cares too deeply about everything to even comprehend that phrase. Living mid way between, my shoulders are basically partially shrugged at all times.

But I have picked up some new skills from this weird place.

– Frogger Driving. With 6-7 lanes, no one obeying any normal rules and even the CA motoring code says ‘pick the lane appropriate for your speed’, getting from A to B is like one big video game of ‘accelerate, signal, dodge, accelerate’. As long as you put aside certain death and anyone with an out-of-state license plate.. its kinda fun.

– Cheap milk location. With organic skim at $7.99 per gallon (yes, a gallon), milk is double the price of gas. Hence, I’ve turned into the person who will actually drive across town JUST to buy my gallons from that weird ‘Rotten Robbies’ store to save $2. Yes it’s called Rotten Robbies. And its a liquor store. But hey, they’re open 24 hrs and their organic skim is $5.99. Crushing it.

– Mountain Bike Trail exhibitionist. Apparently everyone is too busy polishing their Telsa’s or wine tasting because the trails here are EMPTY. Beautiful, single track, shady and as technical as you so desire.. they are boundless and silent. I’ve ridden alongside the ocean, through thick forests and across acres of empty fields. Up 30% grade ridges and down some way gnarly rock gardens. But with no-one around to hear me yelping or whooping, panting as I creep ever-so-slowly-up-22%-grade or shrieking as I pop a squat on some poison ivy.. my riding has become completely lacking in inhibition. I yelp, I squeal, I swear extremely loudly and I sound most of the time like a 90 yr old smoker trying to climb Everest. Except for the lack of chica friends …it’s really never been better. After all, if noone is there to see you suck, do you really actually suck? Nope. In my head I’m now a most excellent mountain biker. Even if I still fall off a lot.

So 3 months into CA and its been a whirlwind, weird and wonderful experience. I still haven’t found my peeps, but I have picked up some new skills, found some amazing places, gathered some stories and heck, I haven’t even started dating yet.

Can’t wait to see what the next 3 months brings…

 

 

 

Next up.. a plague of locusts

FloodSo the move to CA hasn’t exactly been what one could term ‘smooth’. Not unless smooth comes with pointy sharp bits, lots of water, electrical shockage and way too much time spent at Walgreens. On the plus side, they’re clearly putting crack in the water because I AM LOVING IT.

Read on.

I arrived after 19 hours of stare-it-tude (lord, Nevada looks like one long post-apocalyptic aftermath) and not a small amount of rain. Surprising since my research on South bay indicated low rainfall and extreme sun at all times. In fact, it was one of the reasons I decided to make the move. Lots of lovely dry warm sun.

Ha.

It’s not stopped since I arrived.

But I digress. My first night, I unrolled my air mattress, my sleeping bag, brewed up some tea and toasted my new citizenship with a disgruntled and somewhat damp dog at my feet.

‘Tomorrow, we’ll take a long walk, get in some food, chill out and just be mellow’. The dog looked at me sadly,  clearly hoping that non of the above involved any more driving.

We woke to more rain, but hey, being outside and not freezing my butt off was awesome. An hour later, we headed home for a big breakfast and to get a start on the day.

As I turned the corner of my apartment I heard rushing water and thought ‘oh how lovely, they have a water feature’.. Which they did. It was my apartment.

Due to a faulty mains pipe, while I’d been out with the dog wallowing in a balmy 58 degrees, the pipe had burst and my possessions were currently floating around in 6 inches of water. As I opened my door, my air mattress, now serving as water float, carried my sleeping bag onto the sidewalk. I watched my prescription bottles bobbing around, along with last nights underwear and my balled up pjs. Quelle horror.

My neighbors were similar afflicted. Dodging the large chunks of ceiling that were now raining down on our heads, we ran in and out of each others apartments, grabbing anything not ruined or waterlogged in hope of saving anything. Thankfully my laptop, my gun and one pair of underwear were dry. What more could one need?

My neighbor was crying at the loss of her wedding pictures while all I could think was ‘what a GREAT way to meet your neighbors’. Glass half full…? Or maybe just good medication? Needless to say, after a few nips of Oban whiskey (survived unscathed), she seemed less fazed by the whole thing too.

Within a day we were relocated to new apartments, slightly PTSD scarred and on high alert for anything sounding like running water. Which is when CA decided to really give some fun.

Day 1 – Apartment floods

Day 2 – Dishwasher decides that it no longer needs water to operate and commences cleaning via just heat. Handyman fixes dishwasher. Dishwasher then floods the new apartment. Everything recently dry near the floor, now wet again.

Day 3 – Fridge making sounds like the Tardis. Handyman turns off fridge for the day. All food ruined. Handyman finds a piece of tape in fan… source of noise… and turns fridge back on with joy. I dine on Shotbloks for the second night in a row as I’m not sure whether I can manage to eat 4lbs of unfrozen fish. Start drying out process again.

Day 4 – Washing machine decides it does not need water to operate but instead generates burning odor. Handyman fixes washing machine. Machine then floods the apartment. I receive electrical shock from new Rocku which I daringly left sitting on the ground. I develop slight tick at the sound of any running water.

Day 4b – Nothing floods. Take CA driving test and motorcycle test. Pass first time and only spend 45 mins in the DMV – SCORE!!!!!!

So as you can see I’m not yet a week in to my move and its been quite the experience. On one hand, everything I own is slightly damp (my work colleagues have been very understanding of my new unique style) but on the other hand it’s NOT SNOWING and I ROCKED my driving test.

I love California.

See… clearly crack in the water.

Not better, just different

sfContrary to popular opinion, I am still alive. I am also not incarcerated, incinerated or incapacitated. Sadly I have not been held captive by a silver fox off the coast of Belize and no, I did not win the lottery.

I’ve just been rearranging my life.

In the last month I found a new job, planned a cross-country move, completed my Christmas shopping AND grew my hair an inch.

NOTE: Growing the hair was the toughest. This mother will just.not.grow.  I am doomed to a shaggy pixie for the remainder of my days.

After the best summer ever drew to a close I realized that it was now or never. Things were good. Work was …okay. My little life was pleasurable and harmonious. Nothing too exciting and something too stressful. I could quite happily continue to live out my days in gorgeous Colorado, riding my bike with awesome chicas, spending my Thursdays on an ever-increasing spiral of bad dates and doing a bit of work to pay the rent..OR I could change things.

Why change things when life is good? When you’ve found friends who actually ‘get’ you and an apartment where you can leave the door unlocked. Where life has a rhythm and cadence that is soothing and predictable. Where you give Uncle Fester a second date because.. well .. he wasn’t that awful. Why risk ‘good’ for ‘different’? Especially when different comes at twice the cost, double the traffic and the need to wear actual outfits to an office on a daily basis?

I can’t exactly explain it except that I knew something needed to change when my neighbor asked why I was doing my laundry on a Friday night instead of my usual Saturday morning. When another neighbor said ‘I knew it was you walking your dog because of your pajamas’ and I found myself counting down the hours one Saturday night until I could reasonably climb into bed with my book. It was 7.30pm.

I’m 42. Not dead.

Life can be too good. Too comfortable. Too ‘nice’. Life without edges can make you sloppy and your brain fuzzy. You settle into routines that your grandmother would find boring. And when you realize you’re waiting out the days.. until…well..something different happens. Yes,  something needs to change.

So I decided to make a change.

In a few weeks, 19 years after I arrived, I’m leaving the rocky mountain state for the west coast. Back to water and Democratic majorities, GMO-hating hippies and Silicon Valley geekdom. I’m excited to use my brain again (the dust bunnies up there are something else), to explore a whole new state, to find new friends and spend a winter without thermals covering every square inch of my body.

Sure it’s going to suck. Its going to be exhausting and my expectations aren’t for some miraculous life change. Just something different. New roads, new trails, new weather, new vistas. Not better, just different. I’m 42 and we only get one time around. Going to bed at 7.30pm on a Saturday night out of boredom isn’t how I want to remember my 40s. That isn’t living.. it’s just passing time. So instead I choose change. I choose different.

I’ll keep you posted.

The fishing is kind of ..swampy…

swampNow that I’ve changed the options on my dating profile to include leftovers dudes up to 55, I have to admit, my options seem to have increase 10 fold. The number of winks, likes, emails and stalkers is currently up into triple digits and while I’m going to wait a while until I venture out with another 50 something for a first date (I need to recoup some dignity after being ignored for a Pirates game), here’s a choice select of the options currently rotating through my ‘Viewed Me’ list. Got to say, the pool might be bigger.. but it’s certainly filled with ‘interesting’ fish.

Urbansoldier77

Now lets not judge. I am sure Urbansoldier77  is more than just a gun-toting NRA member. Sure, his 23 photos do feature him in various hunting attire, armed with multiple firearms (including something that looks like a prop from The Expendables) And yes, he does seem very proud to showcase his dead animal collection, but I think there’s more to this guy. I mean I’m a little nervous about the snake tattoo that wraps from his wrist up to his neck, complete with dagger and dripping blood, but maybe its a Asian art thing? His arms do look a little  ‘roidish’ but he claims that if ‘you can’t stand the pathetic sight of your boyfriend squirming and straining to get the jar open’ he’s the guy for me. Now I’ve been chief jar opener in my house for the last ummm 28 years, so I’m thinking ‘no’ but ‘thanks’. He likes to adventure down a trail, kayak, workout (clearly) and …play wheelchair rugby?. ….. oh. So I guess that explains the arms then. Suddenly all that gun-toting and hunting takes on a whole new element. How does one hunt in a wheelchair? I mean… I am seriously impressed and depressed. You really must want to kill things to get yourself up at 3am and wheel yourself down a deer trail to kill Bambi. I’m not sure that’s a passion I really can’t get my head around.

Doss std

Now I don’t think that ‘Doss’ really checked out his profile name, but putting aside the venereal disease associations, I decided anyone with such a ballsy name had to have something going for them. After all he gave me several likes and sent me an email. Lets have a look. So Dos is 54 and a widower, (awesome – someone loved him once), loves gardening (don’t we all), carries a few extra pounds…(not ideal but…), is 5 ft 0″ (wowser) and “is 75% handicapped”. Oh.  WTF with the handicapped dudes and my profile??? Do they NOT see the cycling photos? The backpacking photos? My expressed love of hiking? I’m sorry Dos.. you might be awesome (even though you state that you have ‘few friends’), but you didn’t even promise to open my jars. I think I’m leaning towards Urbansoldier on this one.

Rexclambake

Rex, I have to say, is a good looking dude. In a sort of rugged, beardy, “I’m off to hike the Himalayas next week” way. He’s 47 and never been married (hmmm issues?), but he is 6 ft 5 and no wheelchair in any photos. Now apparently he ‘makes a fantastic pea soup’ which makes me a little nervous .. does Rex considers soup a big attractor for woman? If that’s his big ‘in’ then I’m gonna have to go with ‘pass’. I mean, I make a pretty good pea soup myself. But hey, lets give the guy a chance. ‘I like to get lost in new cities’ (don’t you have Google, Rex?), and ‘can wander for days’ (seriously dude, Google maps…). Rex is also… oh.. ‘a Fire Captain with the Antarctic Fire Department’. So not so much ‘based in Denver’ as ‘checking out Denver from 13,000 miles away. Now Rex, I’m thrilled that you think I’m a winner, but even I have my limits on long distance relationships. And 13,000 miles might be it.

Paganbeast57

I am not kidding. A man decided to call himself Pagan beast online and email me a note saying ‘What do you think?’. O-kaaaaay. Lets see what’s on offer. No photo (bummer) but his headline is ‘Sunset surprises and full moon fantasties (sp)’ Seems Pagan beast is making up for his lack of spelling with some lunar driven imagination. Why I’m suddenly thinking about hairy men and bonfires is beside the point.. maybe there’s something else? Except there isn’t. Pagan beast’s entire profile is this:

.And.

Wowser. That’s some Buddhist shit right there. It’s so everything and nothing. All encompassing and yet telling me absolutely nothing about him. WTF dude? Who responds to this shit????? Sorry Pagan Beast. You might eclipse (geddit?) all other men, but I can’t realistically respond to “.And.”

So you’ve dipped your toe into my over 50 dating pool. The water’s kind of funky no? 2 guys in wheelchairs, a dude in the Antarctic and a Pagan weirdo. I think I’m gonna wait around a while until the scum clears and I can actually see some kind of fish before heading out on date #2 of the fall. Until then all I’m reeling in is tin cans.

Only Commonwealth countries and Detroiters may now apply

flagLast night my dating pool hit a new low.

Following some insanely rational advice from a girlfriend, I decided to relax some of my ‘not that tight’ rules, and go on a date with a 50 yr old dude. Yes, I know I’m not a spring chicken and 50 ain’t that old.. but for me, 50 is 10 years from 60 which is .. well. OLD. And old means yellow teeth, gout and a weird funky smell from parts unknown.

But, as my friend pointed out, everyone my age is still in the midst of divorce drama, dealing with 5 years olds, custody adjustments or freakishly single (‘still waiting for ‘the one”), so I’m left with no choice. Go old or young, or go home.

Now I tried ‘younger’ this summer and while the eye candy was delicious, I did feel a little, well, ‘pervy’, on a date with a thirty something. Something about the lack of crows feet and totally optimistic outlook made me feel old and a little too weathered for his peachy ass. So I guess ‘older’ was inevitable really.

Tucking any thoughts of geriatric shoes and yellow teeth into my mental lockbox, I headed out on my first ’50-ish’ date. I was promised ‘no drama’ ‘maturity’ and ‘got it togetherness’. Plus the dude was a cute baldy and he was rocking those jeans in his photos. Who knows.. maybe this is where I’d been going wrong? Maybe 50 was the new 40?

Well…  maybe not just yet. Yes he was cute, but from the moment I entered the bar, he seemed more interested in watching the baseball that meeting his date.

Seriously dude? Hot chick in low-cut top, who smells delicious and is rocking her size 4 jeans is sitting by your side and you can’t drag yourself away from the tv screen to find out whether you might like her?? It wasn’t even a good team!!! (sorry San Francisco).

When I did manage to break his concentration (I think an advert was running), his conversation was right up there with the nutter dude you try to avoid at Whole Foods. I mentioned spending the weekend with friends and their 3-year-old then received a lecture on the eco-poison that is diapers.  I gently reminded him that I didn’t have kids, and at 40 something, it was highly unlikely that I would be buying diapers OR cloth nappies, at which point the game resumed, and his eyes slide off towards the screen. Wow.. diapers. That was the sum total of his conversational menu. Not so much ‘together’ as ‘past it’. Zero effort. Zero interest.

Now maybe it was my bad martini (how do you fuck up a dry martini?), my high expectations (‘dudes over 50 have it all together!’) or just bad luck, but from now on I’m only dating dudes from Commonwealth countries or Detroit.

If I’ve got to compete with a televised sport on my dates, let it at least be rugby or hockey.

 

Dating retirement

RetirementThere seems to be a worrying trend I’m noticing among my single chicas and dudes. Worrying because I seem to be part of it without actually checking a box or deciding.

Dating Retirement.

Warning signs include declaring ‘I can’t be fucked’ when someone asks you about whether you’re seeing someone, watching your match.com subscription finally expire with relief and spending your Saturday nights reordering your Netflix queue without embarrassment.

I mentioned to a guy friend that it had ‘been a while’ (I think my exact phrase was ‘100 days without sex, I am officially a virgin again’) and was met with sympathy and as much horror as one can convey via text. A few months later, I asked him how his love was going and was somewhat to amused to hear he too had adopted a monastic existence. I poked him about how that was working out and was met with the phrase ‘serene’.

Shit.. this trend is REAL.

When your girlfriend who only dates sporadically hasn’t had a date for the entire summer that’s one thing. When the dude you’ve known as ‘that guy’ who only dates hot 30-somethings (“I get older, they stay the same age”)… well damn. I guess we’re all giving up.

I know a few single people at work, and had taken their ‘non dating’ status as an overt and ridiculous commitment to work, but now I’m just wondering why it took me so long and why I didn’t pay more attention to them earlier. Clearly they’re not insane (though they do all work too much), but enlightened

Apparently the path to a joyful and harmonious existence isn’t from finding your soul mate, your ‘other half’, that one person who’s got your back.. but instead finding it buried in that German Chocolate Cake sorbet, or on that epic downhill, or hearing the world wake up from inside your tent. Joy and pleasure seems to come whether there’s someone in your life or not… and I have to say, after it being ‘not’ for a long 7 years, I’m really thrilled to realize that ‘not’ being part of a couple isn’t all half bad. Accepting the inanity of chasing rainbows in the hope that one of them might be attractive, sexy, humorous and svelte enough to not need one of those seat belt extenders on a plane just seems smart. After all, people who don’t date don’t spend their time hoping, being let down or wasting $39.99 on monthly subscriptions to ‘whatsleft.com’.

Is it lonely in retirement? I have to admit – not really. I was far more lonely in my dying relationship that I’ve ever been in the last 7 years… and if I feel the need for company, it’s certainly a lot more accessible than it was from within a crappy marriage. Now of course, non of those friends are accessible for sex, romance or late night flirting, (yikes), but if I seem to recall, there wasn’t that much of that in a romantic relationship after a year or two anyway.

So bring on the plaid pants people. I’m officially hanging up my garter belt and first date chit-chat. Saying ‘ta-ta’ to awkward cups of coffee at 3pm in the afternoon and judgy looks from 50 something chubsters. I’m moving on to the next phase of life.

Retirement. It’s not just for old people.

Asking for what you want

just askSomeone send me one of those ’30 lessons of life’ things that seem to form the bulk of Facebook these days (thanks Mum!). This one I dutifully read (very long conference call), hoping that somewhere I’d find inspiration to charge up my DOA dating life/ financial situation/hairstyle.

(on the plus side, my cycling has never been better. #17. It’s all about balance)

#6 struck a chord for me.  Simple, requiring little effort and hey..the last time I heard this, it came accompanied by a book called ‘The Secret’

“#6. Most people never ask for what they want. A lot of good happens if you ask for what you want. First of all, you’ll be forced to define what you want. Second, you’ll be forced to think about how you might get it. The third step, is the easiest and the least utilized. Just ask.”

Whoa nanny. It’s that easy?

Hells bells, I really have been over thinking things. I thought you actually had to define what you wanted, figure out how to get it, take actionable steps to move towards a goal, stick to it when things weren’t going to plan, avoid that 30% off coupon for REI, go on a lot of awful 1st dates, stuck it up, drink a lot of wine and maybe.. just maybe, you’d get 65% of what you were hoping for. And some interesting blog posts.

But no. I should have ‘just asked’. So here goes.

My Asks. (please- because politeness costs nothing)

1. I would like this years Tour De France winner be something other than a complete jackass. I don’t care if he’s  flying on  cocktail of EPO, HGH, steroids, meth, Lance Armstrongs blood and Redbull, but I would like him to race well and deserve the award. Oh and if he could actually retain the title without being stripped of it by December … even better. Doesn’t have to be a god or cure cancer. Just race and win.. and retain the title.

2. I would like my neighbor to stop having sex so loudly on the weekends that it makes me want to kill myself. I am thrilled that she’s having a good time (as I’m sure her boyfriend is), but I don’t think its necessary that all of us need to monitor her progress for the duration of the incursion. It’s lovely that God enters into her sex life, and that she’s so communicative throughout the exercise, but I do think she could monitor her amplitude a little, and perhaps lay off the really loud screams of ‘Yes! YES! YES!’ until point of completion. I’m sure her boyfriend would also appreciate this since it’s probably really hard to judge whether she’s near, far or faking based on the consistent volume of yelling and screaming for 22 minutes. It would also avoid another embarrassing 9-1-1 call and me wondering if it would be too weird to watch next time.

 

3. I would like someone to tell me what to cook for dinner. I am a single woman who’s been cooking dinner since she was 13. Its been 29 years. I’m out of ideas for things to do with chicken and when I cook fish it smells like cat food. I am currently resorting to a diet of fava beans because they don’t smell like anything but my yoga class is complaining so I need to do something. And no, don’t suggest looking up stuff on the internet… that involves effort which is ENTIRELY the problem with cooking for yourself. I want it to be effortless, mindless and easy.  Which basically is fava beans.

 

4. I would like to ask for a real conversation with a single, eligible man. I enjoy meeting new people, I really do, but when conversation is completely one-sided, it’s actually called a ‘monologue’.  While this is very useful for receiving a lot of information very quickly about you, it doesn’t actually help you learn anything about me. And while you, as my date, might not think this pertinent to your desired intention to ‘get my knickers off’, believe me.. it is. Conversation is ‘the informal exchange of ideas by spoken words’. Text messaging is also not a conversation.

5. I would like someone to carry my groceries from my shitty parking spot up three flights of stairs and then disappear. I know I drink a lot of milk for a chick, and that 6 bottle pack of mineral water weighs 15lbs but I’ve been told if I ask, the world will provide. We don’t even need to talk..in fact its preferable. So Friday around 6pm ok?

6. I would like my hair to look good the day after it gets cut. My hair cut looks great when I leave the salon. It really does. I fork over my salary, a beaming smile and slide out of there with the confidence of Miley Cyrus in a thong. I know I look GUD. At which point my hair morphs into ‘mom hair’ for about … um… 6 weeks. During this period my hair has ranged from an Elvis quiff, to a center part, a wiry brush and has grown horns from several directions. It has not, however, ever returned to the style in which it was cut. Right up until the day before its due to be cut again. At which point it gives me the ultimate teaser by looking EXACTLY how it should look, giving me approximately 24 hours of ‘good hair’ until the cycle kicks off again.  I would simply like my hair to look like it should for a few weeks. That is all.

7. I would like not to get any older. I know, I know. This one might be a bit of a stretch, but hey, ‘Just Ask’. It’s just I’m really enjoying 42 and it seems to be one of the best years to date (though 27 and 31 were pretty awesome too), and that’s even after 4 horrid dates so far and a personal financial apocalypse. I seem to have found the magic ingredient for energy (fave beans and 9 hours of sleep), my face doesn’t seem to have collapsed too much, I’m really enjoying new  friends and I’m actually excited to see my family in November. I know right? This time doesn’t come around very often, so I’d really like to ‘stick’ please. I’ve still not finished apologizing to people for my 20s and 30s yet, and one only has so much time. I don’t want to be younger – you can keep that expectation tightrope – but please don’t make me any older. You can catch me up in a big jump in a few years if you must, just make sure its dark and any dudes who might be around are sedated.

8. I’d like world peace. Well it can’t all be about me can it? Oh, and all of the animals to not be treated cruelly, especially elephants, dogs and horses. And if we could stop blasting the whales with sonar that would be cool. And I guess if kids in shitty situations could be rescued somehow, along with their animals.. that would an ask worth asking. Oh, and finally, if Dick Cheney could accidentally shoot George W. Bush during a hunting expedition, and then trip over and break his neck.. that wouldn’t be too tragic. I’m sure Laura would recover.

9. I’d like men to start having babies. Hey, if we’ve got #8, I’m going to stretch for #9. I think a few months of period cramps, miscarriages and then a full term pregnancy might help change some minds about women’s rights to reproductive health decisions. It might result in some changes in the workplace to really support anyone who wants a career and a family, plus it would be nice to have equality in that whole ‘post 40’ body thing. I can’t see guys wearing those stretch marks any better than the ladies, and there would probably be a whole lot less ‘trading up’ going on amongst the Donald Trump set.

10. I’d like to not have to read any more lists like this. C’mon people. If we spend as much time reading and trying to act on all those ’20 things to drive him wild’, ’10 things to ensure a fulfilled life’ or ’50 things you must do before 40′, we have a lot more time to go outside and do something else instead. And I mean anything. Do a handstand, walk the dog, talk to the nice lady in Whole Foods who isn’t wearing a wedding ring who has a very large arm tattoo and a cute accent… you know.. anything…

Just asking.

 

 

Jobs that Monster thinks I’m suitable for

01 monsterEvery summer, just as I’m starting to return to Planet Earth after ‘the-craziest-hours-ever-no-seriously-I-mean-it’, I tend to look up from my laptop, notice that the trees now have leaves and reconsider my worth in the marketplace.

No, not whether I’m a BOGO or what I could get for standing on the corner of Colfax and 17th at 9pm on a Wednesday.. but what’s out there is the job market, and is there anything to tempt me away from my life of 11 hours in from of a PC, but the freedom to fart at any point without worrying about coworkers.

Now I’ve not had to purchase a single ‘work outfit’ in 4 years (my dog couldn’t even care less if I wore clothes at all) and I do love what I do, so there really is no pressing need to move on, but I still retain the smidgen of ego and ambition I was born with, and I’ve had the occasional Wednesday afternoon wondering what it would be like to actually see a coworker more than once every year.

Which brings me to my summer activity ‘job reviewing’.

I’m not hungry, so there’s no ‘hunt’ involved, but on occasion I do wonder if my title is destined to remain the same for the next 20 years and whether I will still be aligning fonts at the age of 62.. so I set up some RSS feeds, logged on and updated my LinkedIn profile (because that works..not), and reposted my resume to see what bites. It’s actually how I wound up in the job I have now.. and apparently I have the optimism of a millenial with a trust fund in the hope that ‘Perfect Job v2.0’ is also going to land in my inbox.

This year has been an exercise is reevaluating this approach.. and thanking my lucky stars that I’m not actually ‘on the hunt’. Here’s a sampling of Monster’s suggestions for my skill set. Just for some background, I was a management consultant for 17 years and a communications leader for 4 yrs at Fortune 100 companies.. but to Google.. I’m potentially any of the following;

1. Agile Coach

When I first read this, I immediately felt flattered. Maybe my 6 year commitment to yoga and my personal willingness to do anything for my CEO (from helping him grow tomatoes to writing his speeches) had shone through on my resume. I do love guiding and helping people, and while I don’t have much direct experience ‘coaching’ per se.. I was optimistic that somehow, the new field of leadership development was being opened up to me.

Then I read the job description and realized it actually means someone who does a certain type of project management around software development. Yawn. Not so much Agile as ‘willing to be glued to your PC for 12 hours and talk in 3 three acronyms for the next 15 years while surrounded by men in Dockers and bad fitting golf shirts’.  Actually, pretty anti-agile. Mind numbingly static really. Next.

3. Histotechnologist/ PRN

I admit, I actually didn’t know what this was, though my first thought was ‘something to do with history?’ Post Google, I learned it ‘centers on the detection of tissue abnormalities and the treatment for the diseases causing the abnormalities. Essentially the perfect job for someone who compulsively worries about their health and overall ‘normalcy’. Oh talk about taking your job home with you.. I’d be self diagnosed with MS, Huntingdons, and Parkinsons’s before the end of the my first day.

But what does a Histo..whatsit..actually do? “As a histotechnologist, you will prepare very thin slices of human, animal or plant tissue for microscopic examination”   How my past 20+ years of writing Powerpoint, talking to clients and trying to put people at ease with change would prepare me for slicing up brains and tumors I’m not sure. But since the certification is only a year, I added it to my growing list of ‘back up plans’. After all, I chop myself an onion pretty fine.. maybe I’d be good at slicing up grey matter? As long as no one is asking me to saute it afterwards, it wouldn’t be so bad?

4. Division Director – Child Support services

Anyone who knows me, knows that I treat children like you would a moving cactus. With extreme caution, thick gloves and sturdy sneakers.. you know, for running away. How Monster thought I could be in charge of ‘child support’  for a whole division I don’t know. Unless that division is ‘middle ages dudes who have the mental age of 12’ then I’m willing to admit I’d be hopeless at this job. (Actually, at this point I’m starting to think that the guys at Monster didn’t actually read my resume at all, and that they’re just shooting me rando jobs in the hope that suddenly I’ll realize my dream to become an insurance salesperson or admin assistant). Me, have responsibility for kids who are risk, who need help and assistance… are you kidding me? Unless it came with a lasso and a stable, I’d be about as useful as a penguin in this role. Next.

5. Drama Instructor

Well, I know I’ve been known to act out, but I take this suggestion with a pinch of salt. I know I kind of made a big deal about my lack of progression at work, and I might have overemphasized the awfulness of a few dates, and yes, I know that I can tend to blow things out of proportion but me? teaching drama? Nooooo. I could never… could I???

6. Taco Bell Shift Lead

Oh now the gloves really come off Monster! Thanks. Thanks a lot. My 4 years of college, my 17 years of 70 hour weeks, hour upon hour of client negotiations and deliverable prep has led to…. supervising the insertion of dog meat into a chulupa? Monitoring the cheese usage? Reordering tortilla chips? Oh thankyou Monster.. I’m flattered that you see the potential in me. Time to take any indicators of ‘customer service’ off my resume.

7. Retirement Plan Lead

Well I can’t say I’m surprised Monster. After all, I am getting older and I have, on occasion, thought about what retirement would look like. You, clearly, have me already moving fast on the downslope of my career. After all, why not get more prepared and informed about how I’ll be living on cat food and the leftovers at Chiplote come age 65.  Now I don’t know a damn thing about numbers and Excel screams with laughter when I open a new spreadsheet, but I’m sure I could pick it up. And I’m betting their dress code is pretty lax as long as your Depends adult diapers don’t show through.

So I think I’ll sit on my hands this summer. Maybe just enjoy having a job a love, coworkers who make me laugh and sure, I could be a VP of Corporate Communications somewhere, but I could also be a Taco Bell shift lead. I’ll take my chances and stay where I am. You know, until I have a hankering for a Gordito.

 

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.

 

 

 

 

How to grow a tomato

I’m obsessed with growing tomatoes and when your CEO asks for advice.. well you figure you might as well use the notes you gave him to fill a blog post. So here you go.. nothing whatsoever to do with dating, being 40, men, sex or humor. But lots on how to grow a tomato.

Sun. You need to plant in the sunniest spot in your yard. Ideally tomato plants should have 8 hours of sun a day. If your garden faces north or doesn’t get much sun, you should probably focus on growing leafy veggies instead (kale, spinach, chard) which do well in low light. Your tomatoes won’t grow with less than 2-3 hours of sun per day.

Planting: Most tomatoes don’t do well in pots (unless its specified on the plant). Cherry tomatoes are pretty much the only ones you can grow successfully in a pot. Tomato roots grow horizontally rather than vertically, so if you have to use pots, you need to make sure they’re wide, rather than deep. Roots generally only go down about 6 inches, but will spread horizontally up to 14 inches. Therefore don’t ever plant tomatoes too close together – not only can the soil not support the volume of roots of two plants, but you’re also opening yourself up for disease transmission (i.e fungus and black flies). Plant at least 14-18 inches apart. In Colorado I generally assume a 2-3 ft square minimum per plant since mine grow about 6-7 feet tall and about 2-3 ft wide. (full sun, good soil, good nutrients).. see I told you this was all about tomatoes and you thought I was kidding?

Plants: Since you’re probably going to buy an actual plant rather than grow from seed, I suggest mixing some heirloom varieties and a hybrid or two. The hybrids are genetically engineered to be more disease resistant but don’t taste as good as heirlooms. I have one or two hybrids in the garden as it seems to help keep disease and flies down. Supersweet 100s (hybrid) are easy to grow, you can grow them in pots if you need to and they’re deliciously sweet cherry tomatoes. For heirlooms I always grow Cherokee Purple, Brandywine and Green. The purple is very smoky in flavor (amazing with mozzarella and basil), the Brandywine is an all around winner on taste for anything and the Green is slightly tart but really delicious with cheese and wine. Add an Italian paste tomato such as San Marzano and you will have a slew of fruits for making red sauce or canning/ bottling/freezing. So 4-5 plants should keep you going for an entire summer and you’ll be giving them away. It also enables you to lose one (which you might), and not have to feel too bad about it. If you plant now, you’ll have fresh tomatoes from end July – mid October. Cherry tomatoes ripen fastest, and the brand ‘Early Bird’ are ready in early July… the rest are more likely for early August. (Again, we’re talking Colorado, so all bets are off for non mountain, moisture rich or cool places).

Staking: Since your plants will grow tall in Colorado (assuming full sun), you need good staking. Those flimsy wire cones you buy at Home Depot generally won’t cut it if you’re growing heirlooms or anything bigger than a cherry. The weight of the fruit will cause the cone to topple over by August. Why is that bad? The fruit is closer to or on the ground and more likely to contract disease. Plus a plant unsupported will take up much more space. Instead, head to a good nursery such as Paulinos (again, Colorado specific) and look at tomato cages or anything which is more sturdy than the basic thin wine cones. The Cadillac of cages is the Texas Tomato cage.. these are large and aren’t pretty, but if you want your plants to stand up, they’re second to none. Your neighbors will think you’ve started a pot farm.. but your tomatoes will love you.  If its your first year, maybe skip them, but if you get into growing.. definitely worth the investment and makes picking the actual fruit a LOT easier. Plus they fold up flat for storage in the winter.

You won’t need to stake until your plant is about 3 ft tall but after that its essential – usually around the time your first blooms are forming.

Supplementary planting: In order to pollinate your tomatoes you’ll need bees. And bees flock to flowers. Therefore make sure your garden area also has some ‘bee attractors’ i.e. honeysuckle, lavender, anything which gets a lot of play with bees. Don’t plant right next to the tomatoes, but in the general vicinity so that you attract more pollinators to your yard. I had a beautiful Rose of Sharon tree, full of huge blooms that bees love, with the result that I was drowning in tomatoes.. but my neighbor’s were pretty sad. (I stole his bees!). If you don’t have much room, I always recommend planting basil and marigolds around your tomatoes as they actually attract bees and add things to the soil that help your tomatoes grow. Don’t ask me what, but it works. Don’t plant onions or beans too close to tomatoes or you’ll have the reverse effect.. the alum family inhibits tomato growing and they just don’t like beans for some reason. (I’d tend to agree but I’m a bean hater). Your first blooms will appear in June/ July (depending on the heat/ dryness – this year is likely to be later due to our crazy ice/rain storms)- this is your first fruit forming. Without any blooms you won’t have fruit, so if you don’t see any blooms forming by the first week of July, I’d add some nutrients. (see below).

Watering: Tomatoes like to be treated quite harshly. They’re the biggest fans of S&M in the veggie world. Do NOT over water. This causes mold, fungus and all manner of problems. In fact, under watering is best. Parch those bitches. In June and July when we get heavy afternoon showers (Colorado.. gotta love it) you probably won’t need to water much at all but once the temps hit the mid 90s-100, you’ll need to water every day. When to water? Stick your finger in the soil and if its slightly damp, wait another day. If its as dry as your grandma’s skin.. soak the plant at the base. Really soak. This encourages them to put out more roots, and grow bigger. I can’t emphasise enough that you need to wait until they’re dry before watering..its even ok to wait until your plant looks a bit saggy or droopy. They LOVE it.  Most importantly don’t water the leaves, stick to the base. Water on the leaves creates burn and since all of the moisture is needed at the roots, what are you doing sprinkling water on the leaves? Unless its super hot, I water every other day in the hottest part of the summer, in the morning or evening (in the Colorado summer, it’s generally mid to high 90s during the day). Definitely don’t let your sprinklers take care of it… they’ll over soak and just burn your leaves. If you’re not sure whether to water.. leave it and then revisit the next morning. You can’t kill tomato plants unless you leave them for 3 days without water in 100 degree temps. They’re really do like a bit of abuse. *ahem* Maybe that’s why I love them so.

Nutrients: Unless your garden has never been planted, ever, you’ll need to add some nutrients to help things along. Ideally you add one variety before the blooms form (which help to increase the number of blooms and therefore fruit), and one later in the season to help the fruit grow big. Alternatively you can add this stuff (High Country Gardens Yum Yum Mix) to your garden and you probably won’t need to add much else (its hard to find locally but worth the shipping cost). This is the crack of tomatoes. But assuming you don’t want to pay $25 in shipping for a bag of dirt, head to your nursery (nope, NOT Home Depot or Ace). You need organic and tomato specific. Liquid is easiest as you can add to a watering can. Raking in nutrients is a pain and can disturb the roots if you get over ambitious. Don’t ever use non organic (who are you, Monsanto?), and anything called ‘Miracle Gro’ is destined to fail. Ask at any nursery for tomato food and everyone has a favorite so go with what your nursery suggests. But definitely use it periodically (every 2-3 weeks until September), to keep the blooms coming and the fruit-growing. Consider it vitamins for your plant.. or insurance against crappy soil.

Bugs/ disease: Most likely if you don’t over water, don’t plant too close, you won’t have any problems. Things to watch out for – white powdery stuff on the leaves (mildew/ mold), tiny black flies or burned edges of the leaves. If this happens (rare), just take a leaf to the nursery and ask them for an organic solution. They’re the most informative. Alternatively you can google pictures of tomato disease and it will let you know what the problem is and how to fix. One thing you might have this year is some tomatoes with black spots on them (due to the heavy rainfall – its called Blossom End Rot). If you don’t have tomatoes in the ground, don’t worry. If you do.. just don’t water them for a week or two so they can dry out. Any fruit which looks like it has big black spots or bruising is just a result of too much water very fast (aka, Colorado spring showers). Pick them off and the next round should be fine. It’s not fatal, it just looks ugly.

Thinning: As your plant grows you will want to thin out some of the shoots/ leaves. This gives more room for the fruit, and helps air circulate through the plant. After all you’re growing fruit, not leaves. There isn’t really a science to it (I’m sure there is but I’m not that nerdy). Every week, look for new minor shoots which don’t have blooms on them and nip them off. You can remove about 1/3rd of the non producing shoots and it helps avoid a build up of moisture at the center of the plant and any fungus/ mold/ disease. Remove from the middle, NOT the top of the plant. There are lots of articles on-line about pruning or thinning your plants. Some people take off almost all (the Italians do this), others only take off a few… I’ve found if you remove too many, you have a smaller crop, so I err on the side of only taking a few off.. but you do need to do this or you’ll end up with a 6 x 2 ft tomato bush with 2 fruit on it.

 Existing plants which aren’t doing well. If you already have plants in the ground and they’re looking very sad its likely due to one of the following;

  1. Its early in the season and we’ve had a LOT of rain. Tomatoes don’t like rain. Give it a few weeks for the soil to dry out and if they don’t bounce back, dig up and replace with new plants from the nursery. (you can do this until July).
  2. Your yard is too dark/ doesn’t get enough sun. Either move your plants/ replant or move to pots (and cherry tomatoes) which you can put in the sunniest spots.
  3. Crispy leaves that look burned white. If you’ve been watering from above on the leaves on a hot day, or if it’s rained after a hot day, this is water scarring. Nothing fatal. Just looks ugly. Wait until the plant is bigger and then remove the scarred leaves.
  4. Lower leaves are dead/dying. Again, the weather has been temperamental so wait a little white until the plant dries out and grows a little more, then remove. It’s normal for the lower leaves to die off as the plant grows. Just don’t remove ALL leaves or your plant will die. Duh.
  5. Other – I’ve always googled diseases and found out what’s the problem. I’ve probably lost one plant per season due to something (perfectly normal). Ideally you plant 1 more than you need so that if it happens, you’re not short. If one plant is diseased, try to avoid contacting the diseased plant and then your other plants as this will transfer the disease. Similarly if your plants are too close and touching, prune back so that they’re not. This will help stop disease from spreading. If your plant doesn’t respond to treatment, dig it up and move away from the rest of your garden. Yes its sad, but its essential that whatever killed it doesn’t spread to your other beauts. Don’t replant in exactly the same hole unless you have to. If its something in the soil, it will just re-infect the new plant. Best to leave the empty spot, let whatever it is get killed during the winter freeze and start again the next year.

Yes growing tomatoes is incredibly nerdy but its cheap (compared to the tomatoes at the farmers market), you know where your fruit came from and that they really are organic. Plus nothing beats standing in an evening, plucking a sun warmed fruit off a plant and eating it right there with juice dripping down your hands.

Happy gardening!

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.

 

 

 

Date-A-Thon 2014

sex appealSince its summer and that’s my most energetic time of year, I decided to kick off ‘Date-A-thon 2014’ early. Hey maybe I could find myself a cute Jewish nerdy guy with a killer sex drive and a penchant for early mornings.. and enjoy him for the whole summer? You never know!

But just a few weeks after the kickoff off  ‘Date-A-Thon 2014’ I am cancelling the event, effective immediately.

Why?

Well the last few weeks of dating has been like a series of trips to IKEA. You really don’t want to go, you know it’s going to be a time suck that will leave you miserable and irritated BUT you’re really in need of something. In this case, someone to make out with before I hit 43 and potentially fight off some bears while camping this summer.

But like most trips to IKEA, the last few weeks have been ones I’d rather forget. True, I didn’t wind up with any random plastic ornaments or strangely named kitchen tools, but my hopes of ever referring to a fellow member of the human species as ‘my boyfriend’ or ‘loooover’ are pretty much in the toilet.

My first date was a complete surprise. Complete. A simple online chat about ‘plans for the this evening?’ resulted in a surprise showing from ‘smallhouse578’ at a local bar, uninvited and right in the middle of an entertaining cocktail hour with my girlfriend. Not only did the numbnut show up, walk up to us, say ‘Hi there’ and sit down next to us.. but since he didn’t ever tell me his name (on the site or in person), I was left confused as to who he was and how I knew him (or didn’t). My girlfriend and I exchanged confused glances, and she – thinking she was doing me a solid – decided to leave me to my impromptu date. I was left at the bar with a nameless guy who assumed that my chat meant ‘come date me’. Like, right now.

My British reserve and politeness lasted as long as it took for me to figure out who he was .. at which point I became a shouting American for the very first time. Wow it was sort of liberating to dress someone down for stalking, rudeness and all around creepy behavior .. even if I did have to head home immediately for a calming cup of tea. The cheek of the guy! WTF?

But, being British, after restocking my supplies of stiff upper lip, I headed off on another date a week later. 6 years my junior, Tim is a self-confessed ‘introvert’ with kinky tendencies and a love of mountain biking. I figured he’d be good to know.. one way or another.

From across the restaurant he looked cute (even if he was hiding behind his menu), so I plopped down in my seat and introduced myself. At which point I realized that my interpretation of ‘introverted’ and his interpretation where alarmingly different. Tim, who had seemed disarmingly keen in writing, was so introverted he was practically inside out.

My hopes of finally getting to date a younger guy vanished in a nano second when I realized the evening was going to be short, painful and involve me trying to coax some semblance of a conversation out of him via an excruciating game of 20 questions. I’ve heard of shy.. hell on a date I’m shy.. but this was ridiculous.

He spoke quietly, more of a murmur really, and could barely order himself a drink. I actually think it was one of the 3 things he said during the course of the date. (the others were – ‘I’m from Cleveland’ – and ‘I just want to ride’). James Joyce he was not.

At one point I felt like Letterman, trying to elicit  some kind of spark from a doped up celebrity… I tried asking the usual questions – nothing. In the absence of interest from him, I decided to share a little about myself – ‘maybe he’s more of a listener?’ but still nothing. At which point I decided to stop talking all together…’maybe he just needs space in which to open up?’.

Crickets.

I don’t know what I ordered or ate suffice to say it went down fast and I was out of there in under an hour. As I headed to my car I wondered if maybe I was just a ‘bit scary’ (its been said before) and I should give him another chance in less formal circumstances. By the time I arrived home I had my answer… 11 texts from the guy. Over a 15 minute period.

What started as a simple ‘thank-you’ morphed over the minutes into a plea for a second date, concern for my safety (since he hadn’t heard from me), a detailed list of my positive attributes and physical appearance, followed by more pleas for another chance.

I felt for the guy. I really did. It was like watching myself on an answer phone some 10 years ago.. leaving a rambling message which started out cool and ended up desperate. I figured I’d give it another go and I’d call him in the morning.

But when 7 new texts greeted me in the morning, including one which said ‘I know I have a hard time communicating’, I decided to move on. I don’t want to date a version of myself from 2002.   Yikes.

After two let downs in the space of weeks,  I decided to give it one more shot before handing in the towel on ‘Dat-a-thon 2014’. 3 strikes and I’m out. Its summer and while I’d love a guy in my life, I really don’t want to spend my spare time looking at profiles and enduring any more painful cups of coffee when I could be out doing… well …. anything else.

So after a few weeks I decided that John would be #3 and my final ‘on-line’ date of this season. He was divorced (yay.. someone loved him once), skinny, a rider and a double for Jim Parsons (Sheldon Cooper). Now while I love a geek, I’m more of the ‘Jewish nose & glasses’ geek than the ‘white bread artisic guy’ variety but hey.. he seemed interesting and there were no single Jews available. Can’t be totally picky.

John sat down and I swear I was suddenly in an episode of the Big Bang Theory. Sans laugh track or amusing bot mots. Chemistry? Zero. Attraction? Zero. Conversational skills? Zero. I can’t say for sure that he was artistic, but he certainly did a very good Sheldon Cooper impression.

I did learn that he’d had a mental breakdown (so that was interesting and helped influence my longer term dating plans) and that he programmed rockets (Sheldon Cooper in-the-flesh). But he wasn’t offensive, he was polite and hey, it was the first conversation with a dude in 2 months. Score!

With my mother’s counsel ringing in my ears (“you’re too picky”) I decided to go with a second date and see if the illusive ‘chemistry’ could emerge from somewhere. Who knows.. maybe once he chilled out a bit, he’d be all kinds of amusing or charming or… something?

Lets just say if you’re not that interested on the first date, unless he or you have undergone a personality change in the preceding days or weeks.. it ain’t happening on the second. Sorry Mum. Life is just too short to wait around hoping for nothing to become something. I’d rather have the nothing and enjoy the rest of my time.

So for the rest of 2014, if I’m meeting any men, it’s going to be out in the normal world. Where it’s perfectly acceptable to say ‘see-ya’ after 5 minutes and it’s not my job to make anyone interesting. Where chemistry is palpable and instant, and I don’t have to drink any more fucking coffee to see if its going to  develop into something.

Sure, you can be too picky. You can also be too hopeful. But at the conclusion of Date-A-Thon 2014 I’d have to say I’m definitely neither.