A day on the nude beach

my first experience of naturism is more, a lot more, than I expected

naturistI like my body. It has its curves, it looks good in a dress, and I have no fear of being naked in the locker room at the gym. But while I’m ok with being nude, I have never seen the appeal of ‘naturism’ until my day on a nude beach last week.

I’m not much of sun worshipper these days, but when I decided to scope out some more idyllic beaches on vacation, was thrilled to hike to a ‘South Pacific’ setting with miles of sparsely populated sand. Plonking down my towel/Kindle/30 different factors of lotion/snacks/phone/water, I lay back, relaxed and thought of England. Perfection!

Except perfection really got even more awesome when a naked surfer type calmly walked from his towel to the ocean, tan as a nut and as shredded as coconut. After leaning back and stretching his not inconsiderable shoulders, he dived in..the last thing to disappear his pert, brown ass. I looked around expecting someone to ask for money, or perhaps a film crew but nope.. 2 minutes later another surf god headed in. Jaw.. in sand.

Feigning disinterest I waited for the glorious exit and wasn’t disappointed. Screw Daniel Craig’s Ursula Andress moment..these guys really could have charged money for those 60 seconds of full frontal. I couldn’t stop giggling to myself that this was ok, free, and oh-so-the-best decision of my life to date. I’m not ashamed to say that I grabbed my glasses for the next one. Unfortunately she was a woman… but hey, still glorious viewing. I always wanted tiny tanned tits.

A word of advice: if there’s going to be one nude beach you visit in your life, make it on an island where the only thing to do is surf. The bodies are insane.

After ogling a not inconsiderable amount of nekked hotness I started to realize what I perv I was being and not wanting to appear prudish, I took off my top.  Suddenly putting on sun cream felt all porny, and I made the executive decision to keep my bottoms firmly attached to my ass. Who needs a brown beaver?? Plus I didn’t think I had sun cream strong enough to prevent an extremely painful burn.

It was a glorious 5 hours. I swam, chatted, observed (a lot) and finally got used to all the bodies. It all seemed so normal, I even took off my bottoms then nodded off. Just as I was starting to gather my things to head home I thought ‘I sorta get the nude thing’. Its freeing, swimming feels amazing and for the ladies, its refreshing to ogle back after years of being the ogled. Wow.. I felt a a whole new perspective opened up.

Then a huge old hairy man with balls half way to his knees ambled over and plonked his towel down right next to me, staring at my tits as he rearranged his balls.

There are some things you really just don’t need to see. Even my glorious location couldn’t improve the sight of grey pubes, a saggy man sac, and bigger tits than mine.

A week later, when I think of my day, my mind doesn’t turn to the glistening hard bodies, the tanned pert butts or enviable tiny tits. Nope, I’m stuck with hairy old brown balls.

Naturism. It’s (unfortunately) for everyone.

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.

 

 

 

Its 52 days until Christmas

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Santa Switch” (now this sounds promising)

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

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

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

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

<insert diatribe on social norms and media stereotypes>

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

Mazel Tov.

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

Lady Rage

rageI recently attended a workshop where the discussion of anger management came up. Since the last time I can recall feeling really miffed was when my ex moved out taking one of my books.. it wasn’t a subject I had much opinion or need for.

Oh how wrong I was.

When  asked to think about the physical effects of anger, all of the seeming rational, calm men in the group immediately threw out a practically uniform list of attributes; seeing red, getting flushed, becoming blinkered to everything else, shortness of breath, clenched fists, sweating and taking a wide stance. Presumably this one is to allow for the massive expansion of balls.. or do men get erections when they get angry?  I guess it didn’t come up. Overall.. the responses that you’d expect when facing a large predator or Donald Trump.

Meanwhile all of the women in the group just looked confused. The responses I heard included; “I don’t really feel angry” or  ” I swear inside my car”, “I just swallow it” or (most familiar to me) “I start crying”.

Yep.. really helpful in those ‘fight or flight’ situations.

As much as I hate to tread that whole ‘biology’ trope, it was clear.. men are really used to and conditioned to deal with anger. Women.. we don’t seem to even admit that it exists or when we encounter it, we’re unable to deal with the feeling – the unbridled, uncontrollable, power of anger..and we’re too afraid (or conditioned) to express it. It’s too uncomfortable. And as ‘laydees’ we’re all brought up to stuff those uncomfortable feelings down as quickly and permanently as possible.

I thought back to the times I’ve actually been really angry – seeing red, losing control, balling up my fists fury- and I couldn’t come up with anything. Certainly not in adulthood.

26 years. 1 divorce, several heart breaks, numerous indignities, insults and betrayals. No anger that I can recall. I did call my ex out for ‘smelling bad’ and I’ve called people ‘mean’. But rage..fury… anger… ? Nada.

The women at the workshop… the best we could come up with was passing irritation towards inconsiderate drivers, annoying partners or friends, or frustration. But the symptoms felt by men, or expressed by men.. We just didn’t have the experience.

We didn’t need an anger management discussion. We needed a ‘how to feel anger’ course. A ‘stop swallowing this shit’ retreat. A certificate in ‘expressing anger externally’.

So there and then I committed to exploring my ‘lady rage’.

I know I have stuff I must be angry about. Things which make me teary-eyed to remember or stuff I don’t even want to remember because it makes me uncomfortable. I’ve had my fair share of let downs, humiliations and mistreatment. And god knows, I have a whole state of rudeness and bad driving to get started with.

Next time I feel uncomfortable, when I’m so frustrated that I’m fighting back tears or trying to hold it all in.. I’m going to clench my fists, widen my stance and let my lady balls grow. I am going to experience my anger, my fury, my rage.

Lady rage.. coming to a woman near you.

Sidebar: I Googled ‘angry woman’ for an image, but was faced by women with their arms crossed, fingers pointed or steam coming out of their ears. Clearly even Google can’t find a woman who actually looks angry. Unless she is black. There were lots of black angry women. Grrr. That’s a WHOLE other post.

Ch-ch-ch-changes

Time goes by pretty fast if you don’t take the time to look around.

(Time also goes by Clichepretty fast after 40.. how is it almost July??? And where are my glasses).

Grey hair, sore knees, sad eyes and that’s just the dog. Its true I’m starting to resemble him these days, but I refuse to resort to spending my days lying on the sofa farting and snoring… no matter what I feel like.

A few data points from the last year or so to catch you up:

  • 3 new bosses, 13 keynotes, 6 conferences, 18 town halls, 300+ powerpoints and 1TB of new content created.
  • 2 heads of state, 2 ambassadors, 6 tech icons and many of the Fortune 100 CEOs. (Favorite was the Dutch Prime minister who was delicious, weird and still lives with his mother. Wonderful manners).
  • $$$$$ earned. I mean ridiculous.

And in non work life;

  • 11 procedures via 2 shoulder surgeries, 32 weeks of PT, knee cartilage busted
  • 7 glorious weekends in St. Helena, CA
  • 3 dates with men who turned out to be married.
  • 3 apartment moves
  • 1 old flame
  • And I finally saw BRUCE in concert (Springsteen not Hornby and the Range)

And the best thing of all?

I realized I prefer working with and being around nice people over most everything else.

Life is just too short to run behind Mr.Big in 4 inch heels hoping that you’re having some positive impact on someone somewhere. No matter the astonishing people you meet, the innovation you’re absorbed in, the resources available and the learning you do… nothing beats working with a team of people who have your back, who treat you well and who share your values. Seeing the impact of your work. Having a team who knows you and doesn’t think its weird when you lend a hand, offer or ask for help. It makes all the difference.

I’m sure this reads like every cliché in the book.. but its been an eye-opening, life changing 18 months for me.  I’ve always been independent, up for an adventure and embracing of change.. and this time might be the ultimate challenge. Putting my values first and building the life I want around them.

Now.. does anyone have a use for some slightly used high heels?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Small Talk

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

Then I moved to the US.

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

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

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

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

Men

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

Women

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

If all else fails…

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

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

Starting young

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

Totally depressing.

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

I was 12.

I couldn’t even spell puberty.

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

I was 12.  I didn’t even like boys.

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

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

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

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

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

I’m expecting it to pass any day now…

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.

The family you choose

friendsI once had a brush with death.

Some sore patches on my leg emerged a few weeks after a surgery. Ignoring them until I was limping. I headed to my doc, who assured me, “no big deal”. Phew.

2 days later , out on a run I realized I couldn’t breath. My leg was throbbing and I suddenly remember a former friend who dropped dead while running due to a blood clot. I walked the rest of the way and headed to the doctor. 3 hours later I was told my weird sore patches had actually been signals of a 3 ft long blood clot that reached from my ankle up through my groin and up towards my heart. 1 hour later I  learned I had a pulmonary embolism (PE) in my lungs;

“But the BEST PE you could get” according to my hematologist.

Not really thinking about what this meant, I headed off on a date.

Only later, when telling friends, did I realize how lucky I was. How my bike fitness had probably helped break up the PE in my lungs.. and how ‘heading off on a date’ wasn’t probably the best response to a fairly major medical emergency.

That’s what your support network, aka your friends and friends of friends, are there for when you’re single. To remind you not to be a half-wit. To point out the sometimes obvious. To make sure you’re taking care of yourself.

Married folk have husbands who do that (or other moms who nurture everyone).  They kill the spiders, know when you’re sick and support you no matter what.

Singletons, well we have friends for this (or we do it ourselves in the case of those terrifying spiders). These friends become our chosen family. They’re the ones who we lean on when we’re feeling down, who support us, and who help us out in a crisis. They’ll listen to your wittering, and hand you a drink or a bar of chocolate when you need it. Family is family and while your biological family might be awesome, for many of us it’s not practical to ask them to pick you up from the hospital when they live 4,000 miles away.

I love my chosen family. They consist of my riding gals, current and former work colleagues, friends or friends, Facebook friends, old neighbors, school mates and the random people you meet as part of your everyday routine.

This week I lost one of my chosen family. The guy who calmed me down with whiskey after a slippery motorcycle ride. Waited with me for first dates. Raised his eyebrows at some of them. But who always, always had a smile and a ‘what’s up?’ for me as neighbor patron. I spent my last night in Denver at his bar, and many evenings collecting my thoughts and shooting the shit over a nightcap.

It’s the first time I’ve lost someone who propped me up. Who was there, Who provided a meeting place for other singletons and people seeking a chosen family. The oddballs, the tattoo and motorcycle nut cases, the Denver homegrown, those who loved a rockabilly band on a Saturday night. Or just to sit at a bar and chit-chat about nothing.

Today I’ve never felt more protective and appreciative of those who remain. To lean on, to reach out to, to care if they don’t hear from you, and who remind you of whats important. The surprising loss, and even more surprising impact on my heart, is a good reminder of the importance of our chosen family.

To my chosen family, much love.

RIP Gary Lee Bomar.

 

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.

Signs summer has left the building

fallSeptember in Colorado is typically a glorious month of blue skies, chilled evenings and crisp, dewy mornings followed by blazing mid day sun. It’s like August but with less wilting and a little more snap. You enjoy the 85 degree heat because you know the evening will be chilled, and every time you pull on a pair of shorts, you laugh at the notion of jeans. The aspens are bright yellow and damn, it just feels good to be alive.

This year however, we seem to be going for more of a Seattle thing. This morning I woke up to the cold,grey drizzle that made Kurt Cobain perpetually depressed and my Pac Northwest friends, permanently over caffeinated and/or drunk.

But it’s not just the weather that signaled summer has packed her bags and buggered off to Arizona… the signs are everywhere.

1. You’ve suddenly thought about footwear for the first time in 3 months. No matter that you’ve been slopping around in flipflops, Chacos, sandals or Teva’s 7 days a week since June.. suddenly you’re thinking about boots. And shoes. Rich dark leather footwear. Socks seem appealing and you’re wondering if your snowboots have another year in them.  Yep, it might only be early September but those slides are suddenly looking tired and dammit, those wool socks are just crying out to be worn.

2. You’re thinking about turning on the oven. For the last 3-4 months you’ve avoided anything that involved turning on any heat source inside your home, with the result that you’ve found imaginative ways to prepare everything on your grill (scrambled egg anyone?), but suddenly you’re thinking about roasting something. Hell maybe you might even break out a recipe. Give it a few weeks and you’ll even be considering making soup.

3. You could really go for a slice of toast right now. Maybe with some tea or a great cup of coffee. Sure, you’ve spent the summer eating everything chilled or grilled, but damn… butter sliding down a slice of hot toast, dripping onto your fingers sounds positively pornographic right now. You know you want some…

4. You’re thinking about joining a gym. Or starting Crossfit. All summer you’ve been running, riding, hiking and generally zooming around, but you know in a few weeks you’ll be stuck inside, icy roads and wind chill of -16. Sure you can boot up for some skiing and boarding at the weekend, but what about Wednesdays? And Monday evenings? Fuuuuuck. Time to pull out that bike trainer or find a gym. Exercising indoors sucks.. but not as much as watching your fitness leak away as you curl up for another hour of ‘must see tv’.

5. Someone just told you how many days until Christmas.  The next time someone tells me how long it is until Christmas, I simply remind them the average age of death in the US is 76. I find it gives them something to think about and hey, share the love. It might be fall but its not fucking Christmas.

 

Raging

angry womanI’ve removed the shackles of work this week and am currently flitting around Colorado with the mountain bike, dog and enough turkey jerky to survive the apocalypse. My main contact to the world has been via the BBC World Service and the occasional radio report which I’ve listened to while driving from one trail to the next.

Sounds idyllic?

Well it was until I found myself raging at a stop light in the middle of nowhere.

Why? Here’s the current list – from this week’s news- making my eyes bulge…

1. Michael Sam: I don’t follow football (hate it in fact), but why Michael Sam can’t find a team ‘because him being gay is too much of a distraction‘ makes me seethe. Does football now feature players copulating on the field? Does the NFL think Michael won’t be able to restrain himself from having a tug on a teammates wang mid play? Since when does a players sexual orientation ‘distract’ from a game.. which is, essentially, dudes throwing a ball around? There are gay rugby players. Gay soccer players. Gay basketball players. They manage to keep their sexual orientation off the court/field. Apparently the NFL thinks that Michael is gonna get too aroused by those heavily padded, brightly colored uniforms and next thing you know its going to get all Sodom and Gomorrah out there. Fuck you NFL.

2. Obama. I know every hardworking individual deserves a vacation. And as leader of ‘Merica, no one deserves a few days off from the current shit show we’re enjoying more than you. And of course, bad things aren’t going to stop just because it’s the end of August and the golf green is booked. But dude, there were riots in Missouri, journalists getting their heads chopped off, Ukraine boiling over, Gaza can’t hold a ceasefire for love nor money and for gods sake, someone has given Lindsay Lohan an acting job. Photos of you laughing and smiling, putter in hand is a great advertisement for the joys of a week beside the seaside, but we need you back at work. Stat.

3. Kids with guns. ‘Merica. The rest of the world is shaking their head in disbelief at you. No, not envy at our ‘freedoms’ but horror. Firstly that we think its ok for kids to attend shooting ranges and handle military weaponry for fun (isn’t that a ISIS thing?), but second that after the kid shoots the instructor in the head, no charges are issued. Its deemed ‘an industrial accident’. The shooting range where this particular accident happened last week, also hosts kids parties. Minimum age? 8. So parents, if you’re wondering what to do for little Sadie for her 8th birthday party, why not head on down to ‘Bullets and Burgers’ (I kid you not), for some Uzi action and potentially a little homicide. Don’t worry, no charges as long as you ‘pray for his recovery’. (little hope of that when he’s been shot in the head at close range by a Uzi).

And what makes me madder than hell about each of these things, is the tone with which they’re reported. No big deal. No rage. No questioning of the morality involved. No journalistic interest in whether this is a ‘good thing’. Nope.. nothing to see here. Just ‘Merica going about her day.

So if people are wondering who that weirdo is screaming at her radio and punching the steering wheel in the middle of nowhere… just drive on by. Nothing to see here. Just an angry 40ish chick wondering why she’s the only angry person in Colorado.

Trusting the fall

rubberAlong with 99% of the Western populace, fall (autumn to my UK homies), is my favorite season. Warm days, cool nights, blue skies and that smell of decaying leaves. Or maybe that’s the smell of decaying dates who stood me up? Same difference..shit is dying.

Fall always reminds me of back to school. New shoes from Clarks (loud protests), new school uniform (louder protests), and the joy of a buying myself new pencil-case. New beginnings and a new ‘me’ all for $4.99. Yes, my sole opportunity for self-expression during my childhood was my choice pencil-case. What of it?

These days I still yen for new shoes (not from Clarks), and I’m less excited about stationary, but it does always seem to be a season of change for me. Screw spring, fall is where the shit goes down. New jobs, new men, new haircuts, new houses.. all fall events for me.  Fall just seems so inevitable… whether it’s a long drawn out slow decline, or sunburn to snow “wham.bam.thankyou ma’am” couple of weeks. Either way, I know change is heading my way.

As an impatient person my instinct is to try to speed things up. Mentally urging whatever is coming my way to ‘arrive, goddamit’ so I get underway with dealing, enjoying or simply enduring but no matter, it doesn’t make a jot of difference. I just have to trust that fall will, well, ‘fall’ and with it new adventures, new challenges and (lord help me please), new sources of joy.

Meanwhile I guess I’ll make another cup of tea and go sniff my new eraser. Damn, that smell never gets old.

How to ride the 2015 Tour de France

APTOPIX Cycling Tour De FranceWell my 3 weeks of spending 4 hours a day in front of Lycra clad skinny men with pipe-cleaner arms is over. The Tour De France concluded this Sunday with a solid gold 8 minute advantage win by Vincenzo Nibali (or as I like to call him.. Nibble-on-me.. please). With French riders winning both 2nd and 3rd, it was a Euro domination unlike any we’ve seen for years. Not only was the podium strange but this years Tour was unlike any I’ve seen in the 20 years I’ve been watching it.

The first week involved more people crashing into each other than a 5 year old’s sugar fueled birthday party; by week 2, every single ‘GC One to Watch’ was on the bus home with broken limbs and by week 3, it seemed that the only people left were those over 40 (carefully preserving their bodies as only the aged do), those so slow that they’d missed the major crashed by virtue of being 10 minutes behind everyone else and the lucky 7 or 8 who managed to ride ahead of the peloton before the carnage started. Oh and Nibali. Surrounded by his crew of domestique who essentially glowered any challengers away from their man through the first 100 miles of every stage, Nibali was able to conserve energy and dance to victory again and again.

So based on the lessons learned from 2014, I present ‘How to Ride Better in the 2015 Tour De France’

1. Surround yourself with a pack of glowering Russians. It worked for Nibali and it can work for you. After all, who’s going to fuck with you when you’ve got 550lbs of non English speaking, poker faced cyclo-mo-tons surrounding your every move. I think someone did try to exchange a word with Nabali on stage 7 but we’ve not heard or seen that guy since. I have a feeling he’s now located in a shallow grave just outside Epernay.

2. Ride with bigger tires. I know this might seem obvious, but with those skinny minny ‘wafer-thin mint’ tires with essentially no tread (in fact, some look practically polished) you’re asking for trouble. A spot of rain, a small bug in the road, a sharp comment from a competitors team and those suckers are flatter than Chris Horner’s ass. Sure bigger tires might slow you down some, but you’ll spend far less time that you currently do standing on the side of the French countryside being ‘selfied’ by 100,000 people while waiting for your team car to come give you some air.

3. Don’t ride in the rain. Again, this seems like of obvious. Rain plus skinny tires with no tread = mass pile up. Lets just say if Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwin are sounding excited, you might want to skip it. These guys love some blood on the road and unless you have the ability to ride downhill at 50 mph while balanced on an oily ice-skate .. stay in bed.

4. Don’t ride so close together. I understand that you can conserve energy by riding in a pack (or ‘peleton’) but really guys…? It does seem to always end up in disaster. Dave gets distracted by the naked guy running down the road while carrying a pitchfork, or the fat Borat wannabe and suddenly you and 19 of your closest friends are Jenga’d in the middle of the road. Leave a little more space, maybe? If not, be prepared to literally ride over your friends as you hit that next oily corner.

5. Wear more sturdy clothing. Like Kevlar. Every guy who went over this year (which was everyone except Nibali and his Russian protection squad), wound up looking as though he’d just jumped out of a burning building. Jerseys we’re shredded, shorts suddenly developed  new venting systems and on several occasions shoes were even ripped off as riders hit the floor. I know that it gets hot; I know that you want to be ‘aero-dynamic’ but I really think your clothing should have a bit more heft to it than a Victorias Secret fantasy bra. I don’t know how you think that wafer thin jersey, spun from the web of the endangered Nepalise ‘Livestrong’ silkworm is protecting you when you hit the road at 45 mph, but I think you’ll agree, its not really doing the job. How about a lightweight leather onesy? A skinsuit of kevlar? At the very least some ripstop nylon would avoid us having to watch the blood oozing out of your hip for the next 3.5 hours.

6. Allow tows up those big hills. If you’ve got your Russian goons, you might as damn well use them. I know you’re not allowed to push yourself off the team car, but I don’t recall anyone saying anything about tows from your actual team mates? Simply fasten some sturdy nylon from your stem to your Russian goons seat post and sit on back. Keep those legs spinning (I mean you need to ‘seem’ like you’re making the effort), and maybe wipe some sweat every couple of miles.. but hey… if it’s not in the rules….

7. Slow down at the corners. I saw this mistake time and time again. The peloton gets all carried away in its fastness and then hits a corner. Cue one poor sod, careening straight towards that field ahead of him (taking out a couple of spectators on the way) while another heads straight into the crash barrier. Cue 19 guys falling on top of him.  Slow down dudes… If you’re leaning at a 45 degree angle at 45 mph shit is going to happen. Add in some rain, those silly tires and fuck.. its amazing any of you made it around any corner at all.

8. Lose some weight. Like 50-60lbs or so. One thing consistent among all Tour riders is their distinct lack of weight. The only area allowed for any constituting ‘mass’ is the thighs and only, ONLY if you’re a sprinter. Arms should literally be strong enough to hold into the bars and brakes, but nothing more. Your head should wobble on your stringy neck and if your calf muscles are wider than your wrist.. forget about it. Tour winners need to be thin. Very thin. So thin that they can ride over that ladybug, leaving him with little more than a vague headache. So thin that when they are flying down the backside of a Col.. they are literally ‘flying’.. as in leaving the ground. If you weigh somewhere in the 110lbs region, you’re right on the money. Anything more than that you need to be German, a sprinter or a race official.

9. Take more drugs. Better drugs. I hate to break it to you but every single rider on the Tour was taking drugs this year.  And last year.. and every year before that since the inception of drugs, and mountains. Looking at the facts – how else can a guy ride over 2,276 miles during 3 weeks (with 2 days off), up and down France’s biggest mountains/ glaciers, on little more than calories and determination? Sorry .. but if you think drugs aren’t involved you are DELUDING yourself.  And this year, no exception. When the fastest man finishes 8 minutes ahead of his nearest opponents (who include Olympic winners and every National champion).. well guess who had the best drugs? So next year I highly suggest you contact every underground lab in the ex Soviet republic or China and see what’s got the rats running ultra-marathons lately. It’s bound to give you a boost and you can always claim it was ‘herbal remedy’ you took in case your pee comes up radioactive.

So there you have it guys and girls.. my guide to riding a better Tour De France in 2015.

And if all else fails, wrap yourself in bubble wrap, buy yourself a motorized scooter and find yourself some new Russian friends with chronic drug problems. You’ll be podium bound in no time.

 

 

 

 

Dating the ‘Separated’

separatedOver the years’ I’ve broadened my dating pool out of a combination of curiosity, necessity, and lately, by chancing upon dudes who lie compulsively.

Lying you say?

Yes, I know. Lying isn’t exactly new to online dating. Between myself and my pool of single chicas we’ve all encountered chubsters, baldies, dwarfs, a guy in a wheelchair, a AARP member and yes, even people who have used someone elses photo entirely. ‘Fit’ has been interpreted to be mean ‘possesses some Nikes’ and ‘fixes the photocopier’ becomes ‘IT engineer’. I know women do it too.. but the type of lying I’m stumbling on lately is more along the lines of marital status.

While your newly separated woman is off at the gym, forging new female friendships and Facebooking her old college boyfriend, her counterpart is online, announced his instant ‘divorce’. He’s not separated… he’s mentally divorced. So that makes him so.

(in which case, I am 5 ft 6 and have naturally blond hair)

I’ve learnt that ‘divorced’ to a guy can mean anything from ‘I got the papers last year but haven’t gotten around to signing them’ to ‘she moved out last week’ . He might still be living with his wife and kids ‘but its been over for years’ (does she know?).  He might actually be living apart from his wife but ‘hasn’t had time to meet with a lawyer’ or ‘filed the paperwork months ago’ (90 days people.. it only takes 90 days). He might be hesitant to actually be divorced due to ‘tax implications’ or ‘business reasons’. Or, like many, he might have discussed divorce that one night when they drank 2 bottles of Chardonnay but he’s still going to bed with his wife every night. So sorry buddy, but you’re not divorced.  Hell, you’re not even separated.

Now I don’t have an issue with dating someone who’s newly divorced. I’ve been there. I know it’s a weird time and everyone thinks they’re handling it great, but is actually acting like a horny 18-year-old. But there’s a good reason that they include ‘separated’ on the dating form… one which the newly, or less newly separately seem oblivious to.

Being newly separated means you’re ‘undateable’. No, not because you’re still technically married.. or still in love with your wife… but because you’re not equipped to go on a date period. The newly separated guy has no IDEA of how to date.. and beware anyone who thinks ‘how bad can it be?’ or ‘he said its been over for years’.

It’s not his lack of emotional availability that you need to worry about. Indeed, it’s quite the converse. Frankly, the recently or newly separated man is terrifyingly available.

Let me explain.

If you date online after the age of 40, with someone who’s been divorced – say 6 months – it goes like this;

  1. Day 1 – 5: Email exchanges. Identification of shared interests, humorous asides and general ‘are you sane?’ questions.
  2. Day 5-7: Phone call or coffee. Verbal confirmation of sanity, ability to converse etc
  3. Day 7-10: Dinner. Contingent on good first date/ call.
  4. Day 11 : Dinner, sex, hiking, whatever…Contingent on good dinner date and level of comfort. Also depends on whether you think you could take him in a fight … you know, should the need arise.

But if you go on a date with someone who’s separated it goes like this;

  1. Day 1: Email exchanges  ~21 emails in a single day.  All escalating in excitement, identification of kinship and plans for ‘the future’. You hear all about his kids, his job, his life, how ‘ok’ he is, how ‘he’s done the work’, how he just wants to have fun.. and then a comprehensive list of how damn awesome you are. You level of awesomeness increases by the hour. In fact, by Day 2, he’s convinced of your connection and your compatibility. Actually… he might be falling for you.
  2. Day 2 or 3: Phone call or coffee. He declares his love. Detailed review of the agenda for the next 3 weeks of your life. Activities will include, but are not limited to, running errands, picking up and dropping off of kids, cooking at his house, every activity he’s ever done and wants to share with you, detailed list of bands/shows/plays he has tickets for but no date now, weekends he wants to take and friends I need to meet. Like right now. Oh and he booked flights to San Francisco for Thanksgiving. Hope that’s ok?
  3. Day 4. There is no Day 4. This is where you block his/ her profile and run screaming from the man who is clearly not ready to date, has the judgement of a 12-year-old boy and finds the empty side of the bed all too frightening and a ‘to do’ to fill.

You see ‘the separated’, as they reenter the dating pool, are essentially looking for one of three things;

a) A replacement wife. Like now. Because looking after kids 50% of the time is really hard and .. you know.. he needs help. And he’s used to a partner. He doesn’t like those empty spaces or empty silences. He remembers how awesome it used to be with a wife around… and women like being married right? Time to find a new one STAT.

b) Instant sex partner. Excited at the potential after sleeping with the same person for 20+ years, he wants to jump past all the getting to know you, spending time together and just fall in love right now and FUCK. Which wouldn’t be that terrible, if he didn’t insist on assuming you like EXACTLY what his wife liked.

c) Free therapy. He is traumatized. He is hurt. He is angry. And he wants to tell someone all about it and see a sympathetic face. Feel understood. Get the ok to move on. But therapy is expensive and you, you’re free!!! And willing to sit and listen to him!!!

And while people who are separated, especially the newly separated, need love just like the rest of us, they tend to be mentally, at the place they last left off dating.

  1. If your date married his high school or college sweetheart, beware. He’s got a lot of catching up to do, has no idea of how to seduce or romance a woman, and isn’t quite clear why you’re not as eager as he is to fumble around in the back seat of his car as ‘a date’. And unless he’s a compulsive cheater, he’s probably only slept with one or two women. Cross your fingers and hope they taught him a few things.
  2. If your new date last ‘courted’ in his early 20s, say hello to a lot of drinking, live music, sex in public places and assumptions that you’ll drop everything to move around his schedule. This guy thinks that skateboarding is a great idea for a date, and that you’ll be impressed by his swimming pool cannonballs.
  3. If he last dated in his 30s, he’s more likely to understand that a degree of ‘woo-ing’ is necessary, but he’s just jaded enough to resent you for it. This guy probably hates his wife, HATES his wife.. and boy he’s just dying to air his grievances.
  4. If he last dated in his 40s… hmmmm. Did he kill his wife?

But what of the long-term separated? Those who’s been living separate lives for years and haven’t yet pulled the plug?  Surely they’re as good as divorced right?

No. They’re still technically married. And if they’re still married after being separated for months or years, you need to ask the questions as to why. If there are young kids involved, I get it, but if not.. what’s the hold up? There’s something there. And whatever it is – its complicated, it’s not changing any time soon and really.. do you need to start dating a married man? Who still has his wife on the insurance documents? Who still -legally- has his wife as #1 on his list, even if mentally he’s moved on? That’s some heavy shit …and this is dating. So unless he has a golden penis or he’s really honestly the best person you’ve ever met in your life… move on.

They put ‘separated’ on the online profiles as a clear signal to the rest of us. Date warily. Lower your expectations. Be prepared to have some very honest conversations and offer not a small amount of coaching. Enter at your own risk, and be prepared for premature  declarations of love, lots of processing his prior relationship and no small measure of insanity.

You have been warned.

 

Signs you’re succeeding at life (even if it doesn’t feel like it)

01 success-babyI read this blog post the other day after a weekend spent feeling like failure. Examining your financial affairs will do that to a person, and I needed cheering up. Google delivered ‘Signs that you’re succeeding at life’.  According to the list I’m actually ‘succeeding’ across the board, but the list was dreadfully earnest so I thought I’d take a crack at one myself. Something a little less earnest, a little more realistic, something we can all aspire to.

“Signs you’re succeeding at life, even if it doesn’t feel like it”

1. You have a box of tissues in your house.

A box of tissues signals to visitors, friends and family that you have elevated the process of nose blowing to the next level. No wad of toilet paper, piece of kitchen towel or shower drain for you! Owning a box of tissues signals a level of maturity, a level of concern for the sensitivity of the nose tissue itself, and an acknowledgement that the sweating the small stuff can be amended with a quick wipe from a peach colored Kleenex. NOTE: if you disguise your tissue box with a knitted, sewn or felted cover you’ve overreached and probably need a new hobby. It’s just a fucking cardboard box of snot rags after all.

2. You no longer believe that those jeans from 1992 are worth hanging on to

Sure, you were 2 sizes smaller back then and yes, if you did happen to catch Ebola you might, just might be able to get them on, but a little known fact is that hips continue to grow well into your 40s so those bad boys are never getting anywhere near closed. Even if your innards are leaking out your butt. And you’ve accepted that. Plus does Pepe even exist any more? and girl, you wouldn’t be seen dead with a boot cut any ways.

3. You only hit the snooze button once

I know, I know, not everyone is a morning person and we all wake up differently. But a person who only hits the snooze button once is demonstrating that ‘yes’ they will be up in 6-8 minutes, and no matter how boring that conference call is at 8am, goddamn it, they’re not going to be late and yes, they’ll even have showered. Not for them 30 minutes of extra sleep metered out in 6-8 minute increments. No Sir, they have willpower. They’re succeeding at life.

 4. You have enough room to leave things off your resume

Remember when you tried to stretch and pad your resume to make it onto a second page? Citing your interest and hobbies as ‘legitimate’ employer ‘need to know’ information? How about the bogus ‘cert’ you added ( ‘typing speed’ anyone?) in lue of business school or anything to put under ‘Other Achievements’. These days you’re deleting years  and previous roles all over the place as your wealth of experience (and years), mean you no longer need to cite your time at the Cheesecake Factory as evidence of ‘customer service focus’ or your temp job as ‘a flexible, ‘can do’ attitude. In fact, trying to get it onto 2 pages is an exercise in ruthless editing and that includes summarising 2 years in one role as ‘Project management’ which mostly involved emailing your friends and checking out the cute new guy in Marketing.

5.  A house move no longer means bribing friends to help during happy hour the night before

Now one can be successful at life by celebrating the bonds of friendship during team activities, but moving is not one of them. As an adult, you’ve recognized that asking people you like to give up their Saturday and carry your sofa across town is testing the limits of anyone’s patience. Unless you’re committed to a minimalist buddhist lifestyle or your move involves walking across the street, you know to hire a truck, suck up the cost and get your own damn self moved. You know to invite friends over after you’ve moved to celebrate with drinks you’ve provided.

6. You remember to bring a reusable bag to the grocery store

You’re a sensitive soul. You care about the planet. You recycle your milk cartons and shit. But you know you’re succeeding at life when you remember to bring that $0.99 reusable bag you bought last time, with you on your grocery run. Bringing that bag says ‘I care’ and ‘I’m responsible’ signally to all those plastic and paper squanderers your obvious ‘winning-ness’ at life in general. Goddamn you’re cool. That bag is totally saving the plant yo..

 7. You know what to order in the bar, and it’s not Coors Light

Remember your first few trips to a bar? The nervous approach, the frantic search for an idea of what would make you seem a) older b) sophisticated and c) fuck you up. These days you chuckle at someone who orders Southern Comfort and coke, the poor sod who waves a $10 note for anything ‘Lite’ or the chick who simpers for ‘a nice glass of white wine’ from across the sticky bar. You know that a bar calls for a specific order, and you have your favorites. You can order a few cocktails without uttering the phrase ‘furry nipple’, your beer actually has calories in it and yes, you’ve sunk some tequila or vodka just because its Tuesday. Your days of ‘anything’ are long gone. You have tastes and damn it, what comes in your glass is an expression of who you are. Even if it has a cherry in it.

8. You order a salad, not because you should, because it sounds good

Remember when salad was what you ordered because you didn’t want your date to think you were a Neanderthal. Or because your mothers reminder to ‘eat your vegetables’ hadn’t quite dissipated from your head.. or maybe because your pants were feeling just a tad bit tight? You know you’re succeeding at life when you actually choose a salad because its something you want. No, not for you the greasy, juicy cheeseburger will chilli fries that will satiate all desire for the next 12 hours.. no, you like the sound of the spinach and walnuts and that goat cheese stuff. Wow, it even comes with raspberry balsamic dressing? Winning my friend. Winning.

 9. You said no to that second date even though you totally could have

One clear sign of success is being able to express your desires and evaluate whether they’re likely to be met by the pale, wan, bespectacled loser who’s mumbling across the table at you right now. Sure, you might not have been laid in 8 months and you’ve not had a signficant other since Bush was in office but you say ‘no’ to that second date because, hey… you have standards.  So as you’re driving home wondering whether you’ll ever remember what it feels like to go on vacation with a person of the opposite sex ever again, remember that you’re succeeding at life. (if not at dating). Go you!

10. You totally can fit in that spot.

You can see those people in life who aren’t quite succeeding at life as they approach a parallel parking challenge. They slow down. They evaluate. They chew their lip and maybe try to drive forward into the spot. They can’t remember where the front of their car ends and despite turning the steering around like a 45, they’re still 4 ft from the curb. They decide to suck it up and head to the pay parking where spots are the size of duplexes and no skill is required. But not you my friend. You see every and any gap as a potential parking spot. You deftly evaluate and challenge the laws of physics as you pilot your 3500lb beast into a space no larger than your old dorm room bed.  Your wheels are the requisite 2 inches parallel to the curbside and wouldn’t you know it, you’re right outside the restaurant. You sir, madam.. are succeeding at life.

We bow before you.

Being Royalty: I want that job.. or do I?

The Duke And Duchess Of Cambridge Tour Australia And New Zealand - Day 16I’ve never been much of a ‘royal watcher’, despite my background and some 26 years in the UK. After all, when part of your paycheck goes to support people you don’t really know, are unlikely to ever meet, and you’re housing, clothing, feeding and paying for their first class transportation.. well its a bit weird to be super enthusiastic. And while many Yanks seem to just lurve Kate and baby George, I can’t see the whole monarchy set up working in ‘Merica, no matter how pretty her hair (and yes, I’m paying for that hair).

What is the purpose of royalty these days anyway? From the much hyped coverage of William and Kate’s trip to Australia and New Zealand, the main objective of the role seems to be look at stuff really enthusiastically, shake hands and receive gifts.

I want that job.

I know, I know.. living your life with detailed scrutiny of your every move, every dress you wear, the thinning of your hair, the commenting on -quelle horrors- wearing the same dress twice. Yes. I’m sure its tough. I’m sure every movie star can empathize. Factor in the need to produce progeny, walk behind your husband at every public event and maintain an oral hygiene practice the envy of any dentist.. yes, I can’t deny they do work for it. But honestly?

Throw in a couple of castles, vacations to remote tropical locations every few months, never having to wonder if you could get a cheaper bundle from Xfinity.. I think I could suck up the low hem lines and silly hats.

But looking past the travel, the clothes, the real estate, the lack of actual skills required, the automatic promotion opportunities (lets ignore Charles for now), I did have a few worries.

Namely.. what do they do with all the stuff?

Boat

 

 

 

 

I mean, I know they have castles and apartments out the wazoo, but in the last 2 weeks they’ve received (to our knowledge)

  • A kids power boat
  • A ginormous furry toy bilby
  • A wooden spear
  • Jewellery
  • A surfboard
  • A kids book ‘ Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes
  • Another kids book called Hairy Maclary
  • A $2,690 bottle of wine
  • A series of dot paintings made from wallaby feces
  • New Zealand cricket shirts and monogrammed bat
  • A giant blue teddy bear
  • A miniature bike with personalised lycra top and helmet
  • A kangaroo backpack
  • Australian Ugg boots, a hand-knitted sweater and hat
  • A pilots cap from the Royal Australian Airforce

Oh.. and they’re not done with the visit yet.

Hmmm. Its one thing to point and look interested at things, wear dresses and wander around shaking hands, but dealing with all of the crap people are offloading onto you? And this just the official shit! In my head their house is starting to look like a outtake from a well-travelled person on the show ‘Hoarders’. I mean, regular parents deal with enough kid shit to challenge even a normal 3 bedroom house.. can you imagine after a years worth of trips to the ‘Commonwealth’?

“Honey, step over that didgeridoo and fetch me the carving of Uluru will you? No, not the lump of mined ore from Alice Springs.. the rock carving? Next to the unprocessed diamond from South Africa. By the figurine of a Great White shark.

Are you blind? Its over there. In between the stuffed moose and Mountie uniform from Canada. Just push that set of bagpipes to one side. I know, I know.. yes, your dad does have set, as does granny.. but you never know, maybe George will want them. Mind the stuffed goat from the Falklands.. its super fragile and yes, I know it whiffs a bit, but maybe we can regift it to granny and she won’t notice.

That? Don’t you remember? that’s the rams horn we got from Papua New Guinea that was meant to guarantee us twins and eternal life. Yes, I know I’m using it as a coat hook but what else was I meant to do with it? There’s only so much room by the fireplace and to be honest, that life sized kangeroo footstool and gum tree carved nesting tables just take overThe Duke And Duchess Of Cambridge Tour Australia And New Zealand - Day 6 the room. ‘

Hmmm.

Suddenly that royalty thing looks a lot less like a freeloading travel whoredom and a lot more like an exercise in long term storage unit management.