The new trend in dating: Pen Pals

Its no secret that I go on a lot of first dates. Not deliberately.. I’m always hoping for a pen palsecond, third but you have to start somewhere. Since I work at home, finding first dates has largely come from the occasional IRL connection, and of course, the ubiquitous dating app. After a few atrocious experiences in 2014, I decided to take a break, assuming that my ‘dial a date’ apps would always be there as a source of ‘crap interviews with alcohol’. After a solitary few years I decided enough was enough and decided to get back in the game.

Which apparently now has new rules.

The first being that one is no longer required to go on a date. Connecting on an app now seems to largely involve texting. After all, why try and impress, pay for a drink or even put on pants? Why bother when you can just text?

What I first thought was bad luck has steadily emerged as a trend over the last few months. I kept finding myself on the receiving end of daily texts, photo shares and rambling conversations with dudes I’d never met. First I assumed the guy was busy. Then I assumed married or in a relationship. But after some thorough research, I learned that this is a new norm. The guys who show interest, have no interest in actually meeting. They just like chatting to random strangers.

When a first date didn’t happen for a few weeks, but the texts kept rolling in, it finally dawned on me that I was never going to meet this guy. After texting him to stop contacting me unless he was in Denver, ready for a date, I was met by a barrage of criticism. His main compliant? I’d “broken up with him” over text.

A man I’d never met, never had a date with, thought we were ‘in a relationship’ and he ‘couldn’t believe I’d end it without “discussion”.   I’m still trying to unstick my jaw from the floor on that one.

Next up a pilot who lives just 2 miles from my house, and as a pilot, only works 22 hrs a week. He seemed super interested, but again one week, then two weeks passed and I realized I’d landed myself another texting buddy.

Its now 8 months later and I’ve not had a single date. I’ve had 6 or 7 ‘wannabe’ texting buddies but haven’t even broken out my eyeliner, never mind my sexy pants. 

Being forced to google ‘text buddy, never wants to meet, why?’ at the age of 45 was humiliating even before I hit Search. That all the results were from teenage magazines, even more embarrassing. That I hadn’t realized guys my age want their egos stroked by as many chicks as a 13 yr old… well, I really should know better. These guys just wanted to know they were wanted. Interesting to some chick. ANY chick.

I had a pen pal as an 10 yr old.  It was boring then and its tedious now. You can’t go on a date with a text message and it sure won’t keep you warm in bed. So any guy now who wants to text me more than a few times,  gets an invitation to join ‘PenPalWorld’ right before I block his number.

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.

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

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

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

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

My typical date goes as follows (internal monologue);

‘Please don’t let it be him”

“or him”

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

“Not him…nooooo.”

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

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

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

Case in point – yesterday.

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

I hear nothing for 2 days.

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

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

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

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

Whaaaaa?

SO WHO THE FUCK IS THIS GUY?

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

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

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

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

 

How not to have a first date

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

Unfortunately, that person was me.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yes. I know. Its fucked up.

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

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.

Falling off the wagon

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And it certainly wasn’t of the MLK variety.

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

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

Margaret Thatcher.

Cockroaches.

Mitt Romney’s hair.

That leery old guy in yoga class.

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

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

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

Charity or Moral Judgement. You choose

CharityCharity, and socially pressured charitable giving is something I’ve found unique to the US. Back in the UK, charity is limited to fun runs, random treks across weird places and the bi annual ‘bring and bake sale’ for the local church roof.

See in the UK, there is a welfare state so most citizens don’t need a food bank. In fact, I’m not sure if they even exist over there. I never heard of them and we weren’t exactly shopping at Whole Foods/ Waitrose back in the day. While people are definitely in need in the UK, charity is more invisible, maybe less urgent(?) because the state takes care of so many basic needs. You know, the things Uncle Hairdo (aka Mitt Romney) thought weren’t ‘rights’ for the basic American; food, housing, water, healthcare. In the UK (and most if not all of the EU), the state takes care of the poor, the sick and those who can’t provide for themselves. So charity.. when it happens, tends to be oriented towards those causes which – lets be honest – while important, don’t mean the difference between kids going hungry and not.

Having grown up in a country where charity and charitable donations were optional, often linked to a medical cure, support or local community needs, charity wasn’t something I thought a lot about. I gave when someone rattled a tin at me, I contributed my $25 to anyone who ran a marathon (god bless their insanity) and willingly brought and bought cakes to fund local village needs. But I’d never, ever, been pressured into giving until I moved to the US.

Now charity is defined as ‘ benevolent goodwill toward or love of humanity’ and ‘generosity and helpfulness especially toward the needy or suffering‘.

Charity is not defined as ‘being made to give to a worthy cause or be judged as a terrible human being’. But apparently some people have forgotten this.

My first interaction with charity was via my (then) companies annual ‘United Way’ campaign. I noticed the posters around the office and thought ‘oh, how lovely, they raise awareness for those in need as a company’. How benevolent.

3 days later I received an email from my office lead noting that ‘you haven’t yet contributed to the United Way campaign’ and noting that ‘While charity is a choice, as a company we aim for 100% of our employees to participate in this event’.

Wow. It didn’t seem like much of a choice, and the tone of the note certainly wasn’t benevolent. More ‘The Krays’ than ‘Kris Kringle’. But, being me, tell me I have to do something and suddenly my heels develop crampons and I’ll obstinately dig roots in my refusal to participate.

The next note raised the level of threat to ‘orange’ by reminding me that ‘Here at <Jackass.org>, we pay our employees extremely generously’ and that the requested contribution of $25 a month was ‘a trivial amount’ that would make a ‘huge difference’ to the campaign (and, I’m assuming their participation %) while having a ‘negligible impact’ on my net pay.

Now this was back in the 90’s and $300 was a huge number to someone who’s monthly rent was $750, but I’m guessing the partners at the ‘generous’ company didn’t factor in that not everyone was taking home 6 or 7 figures every year.  I dug in my heels even further and decided to proactively boycott United Way (and the corporate ninnies who were driving it), by donating my money directly to people I could see were in need.

Aka. Bums.

Denver is filled with homeless people. Drug addicts, drunks, mentally unwell folks and kids who’ve escaped who knows what. Sleeping under bridges, in doorways and sadly, under bushes in my local park. All of them could use something and I decided that my $25 a month was going directly into the dirty, shaking hands of someone who wasn’t strong arming me into giving. Screw United Way. Screw corporate ‘giving’ campaigns. And if I chose to hand out ‘after tax’ profits without a thought for the tax implications (gosh.. I could have saved a whole…ooo. $30 on that $300) then I consider it giving just a little bit more.

Its not the giving that I object to. Its the strong arming. The moral judgement being made. All so that Jackass.org can say ‘we donated $X to United Way in 1996’ in their recruiting brochures and sales pitches. But how much of that came from the actual company itself? 1%, 2%… 3% if you’re lucky. So my ‘generosity’ is being used to pimp the company’s image? Grrrrrr.

Which brings me to this weekend when I was asked to donate at the checkout counter not once, but three times. At the same store. My the same Whole Foods checkout clerk.

‘Are you able to make a charitable contribution to the local food bank today Miss?’

Gah!

The phrasing ‘are you able?’ prompts me to announce to my fellow shoppers that I am not only able to pay for my overpriced local, organic vegetables, but hey.. I’m loaded dont’cha know? Saying ‘no’ would be the equivalent of admitting ‘actually I’m not sure if my debit card is even going to pay for these suckers’ and who’s doing that in a line full of well dressed, Lexus driving neighbors.

Never mind that I spent my summer gardening, growing local organic vegetables specifically for a local food bank (we donated 2,500lbs of fresh produce over a 10 week period).. if I say no, my fellow shoppers look disdainfully at me and my cashier doesn’t even try to hide her embarrassment at my lack of warm heartedness.

So instead I say ‘sure’ and donate my $5. Hating her. Hating the line of people all sagely nodding ‘ah.. a good person’ even though I might be going home to whip my children with these local carrots and chastise my dog with a parsnip.

Whole Foods prides itself on ‘giving back’ to the communities that it serves, but when every shopping trip turns into a moral adjudication of my charitable spirit, I’d actually rather that they didn’t involve me in that. They’re not giving back. I AM.

And I’ve chosen my choice. I chose to donate directly through actual food. Which I did. All summer. So while I still hand out my $5s and $10s to people on the street and feed those rattling cans at Christmas, if anyone else asks me if I am able to donate while I’m buying some Dawn and toothpaste, I think the only legitimate response is ‘Bah humbug’.

 

 

 

Lies I’ve been told: The Men Edition

PinochioA report out today said that within the US, the average person tells 13 lies every day (and yes, I totally made that up). But lies are a fact (?) of life.. and over time you get pretty savvy about being able to spot them. The lies men tell you? Well lets just say us ladies spend a lot of time on the learning curve.

Here are some of the lies I’ve been told… read them, remember them and don’t be fooled. Sorry but he’s not different and yes, he is lying.

I forgot my wallet

Unless the guy is standing in front of you with no pants .. sorry but he’s lying. Unlike women, men have pockets for 2 things – keys and money. So unless he forgot to put on pants, he didn’t forget.. he chose to leave his money at home.  Which means you’re paying.. something he decided before you’d even put on your underwear.  I fell for this one so many times with one guy that I actually bought him a wallet chain. Which he ‘lost’.

Yes.. I was that gullible.

I love women who don’t wear makeup

No, no you don’t. What you think you like – me au natural -is the result of 15 minutes of tinted moisturizer, concealer, powder, eyeliner, blush and lip tint. Those times when you think I’m looking a bit ill? That’s me without makeup. However this one isn’t a lie they know they’re telling.. so I guess they get a pass.

I think you look gorgeous at any size

Aka.. yes your butt does look fat in that. He’ll never say it, but this lie generally means ‘you could lose a few’. Sure he thinks you look gorgeous. After all, you are the one who’s sleeping with him and hell, if he didn’t find you attractive he wouldn’t be doing that. But ‘gorgeous at any size’? Really? Honey Boo Boo mother size? Gabourey Sidibe (aka Precious) size? I’m going to go with –no– but thanks for being nice.

I love dogs

Yes all men love dogs. In fact most men love dogs SO much they’d totally have one or two.. except they just don’t have time for one right now. But they love them…right up to around Date 4 when they suddenly find that they don’t love dogs as much as they thought. “Do you have to bring your dog over with you?” “Does your dog have to watch us in bed?” “Why can’t your dog stay at home over night without you?” “Can your dog sleep outside the tent cos he’s kind of stinky?” Reality – the only guys who love dogs are those who have them. The rest.. well they’re just ashamed cat people.

I don’t have time for a relationship right now

What he means is ‘with you’. In fact, the only time he has available for you is when he’s had 7 beers and is feeling kinda horny, or he needs an ego boost. Its been said a million times, but if a guy wants to be with you.. he’ll make time. Even POTUS makes time. If he can’t make time.. its because he doesn’t want to.  Weirdly enough, guys rarely say that don’t have time for a shag… why is that? Hmmmm.

I’ll call you.

No. No you won’t. The guy who wants to see you again actually says ‘we’ll talk soon’ or ‘I’ll give you a ring on Tuesday’ or even ‘See you again soon’.  But pay close attention.. a guy who isn’t going to call, always .. to a man.. says ‘I’ll call you’. Why? What you didn’t hear was the word ‘never‘ that he mentally added to the sentence. So while you’re checking your phone every 10 minutes for the next 6 days, he’s already forgotten your name. So if you hear those words at the end of your date, I’m sorry but save yourself some time.

I’ll just put in the tip

.. quickly followed by everything else. Don’t fall for this lie ladies.. Just as no man ever climbed up Everest but stopped 10 feet from the top because he figured ‘good enough’, no guy has ever gotten into your pants for ‘just the tip’.  He’s planting the flag ladies, regardless of what he says.

Porn does nothing for me.

Rigghhhhhttt.  Ladies, every guy looks at porn. Every. single. one. And no, your guy isn’t different. He’s lying. In fact, last year a group of researchers in Montreal were unable to carry out a study comparing the views of men who had never watched porn with those of regular users.  Why? Because they couldn’t find any men who didn’t look at porn. Non. Because all guys look at porn. Which has to lead me to the conclusion that it does do something for guys. All guys. (sorry).

And finally.. sadly…

Of course I love you

Skrrreeek. Everyone loves to hear ‘I Love You’ but when he adds qualifiers or modifiers around those three delightful words… well… hate to break it…. but ….well.. he might not, actually, love you. What he is actually saying is more along the lines of ‘Do we really need to get into this now?’ or ‘I don’t, but I really don’t want to have to break up with you just yet’ or ‘women.. so damn insecure’. None of which are actually a declaration of love. And don’t get me started on that whole Patrick Swayze ‘ditto’ crap… that’s about as loving as pottery is sexy.

(NOTE: I asked a girlfriend for some of the lies that men have told her and she replied ‘Sorry but I’ve never been lied to by a man’……yes, I’m still laughing)

In like a lamb, out like a very pissed off lion

Everyone has heard that old adage – ‘March: in like a lion, out like a lamb’? Well not so much for me. My lion has taken up residence and shows no sign of departure. In fact I think he’s off to Bed Bath and Beyond to furnish his bedroom cos he seems to be staying a while. And boy, is he pissed off. March has been an angry month for me.

Anger isn’t something that is natural to me. A lifelong fear of raised voices or anything approximating ‘shouty’ was derived from a childhood of quietude. My parents didn’t argue (or if they did, it was via whispers), and there were rarely raised voices in our house. Anger and arguing weren’t welcome visitors and as a result, I don’t know how to handle the emotion.
Its just so very alien.

My reaction to other people’s anger remains the same as it was age 10.. go hide somewhere in the fetal position and sob nervously until it stops.

(Yes, I spent a lot of time on the bathroom floor at Microsoft).

My inability to handle other people’s anger is only exceeded by my inability to handle my own.

As a kid, being angry meant playing the Dead Kennedys really loud, slamming doors and often, getting on my bike and riding 30 miles as hard as I could.
But as an adult, its hard to express rage, and as a grown woman, its even harder.
 Disappearing for a quick sprint on the bike at 11.05am is much harder when you’re wearing a skirt, plus slamming doors is a practical impossibility when your office doesn’t have doors.  And an angry women in work? Cue the references to PMS and the ‘bitch’ title.

I wish.

You see I’m one of those people who get so angry that I start crying from frustration.

I know. Such a girl. 

Nothing is more humiliating that trying to shout at someone as you sob, rattling your fist as you hiccup your way through an insult or try to swear through a squeaky choked up voice.. its ridiculous and completely laughable. And nothing makes me madder than someone not taking me seriously when I’m mad…cuing another round of tears.

And its not just me. I’ve asked friends what they do when they’re mad and while some of them are blessed with a sharp tongue, the majority admit that real rage, boiling venom fueled anger = tears. We just can’t help it.

I never wanted to be a peacemaker and I certainly don’t agree that women are the softer sex. Personally I think we’re as tough as nails and we can take most anything (except another Twilight movie). But why is our automatic ‘go to’ when enraged, to cry? Its so not fair.
I bite my tongue, I dig the heel of my shoe into my ankle, and grit my teeth but inevitably.. tears. And then more tears because I’m crying (‘you stupid ass.. stop crying’). If only someone had taught me how to handle this.. I mean you don’t see guys sobbing on the basketball court, at work or during a fight. How do they do it?

I’m serious. How do dudes get rid of rage? I don’t see them taking off for a 30 mile sprint and I know most of them, hate the rest of them, 99% of the time. There has to be some rage there somewhere. But non of them are crying.

Just me.

March has been ‘mad’ for me and I’m really looking forward to a more soothing April. But if ‘April showers’ is just another term for bawling my head off, I need a better plan. Or I’ll start crying again and it will be your fault. 

The right decision

Those who know me, or based on this blog have a vague sense of me, know I’m insanely impulsive. I have put more thought into whether I should go with black or white underwear than whether to move and I’ve spent more time returning things to the store than actually buying stuff.

I moved to the US after about 30 seconds of thought (and several adult beverages), drove to Montana on a whim to go on a date with my then boyfriend and I’ve moved 24 times since I was 18 (yes, I’ve moved house twice in one year on more than one occasion).
I’ve always prided myself on not getting too hung up on any decision, but recently the downside is outweighing the up.You can only roll with the wrong choices for so long.

Over the holidays, a trusted girlfriend and I were reminiscing about the comedy of errors that was the past 5 years of our friendship. The Albino boyfriend who made love like a woodpecker, the dog breeder who threatened to sue me for not showing my dog, the $4,000 sofa, buying a house I’d seen once, selling the house 10 months later to move in with a boyfriend and getting dumped the same day. Some decisions were just bad luck, but most were bad judgement and poor choices.

In hindsight I wondered if I’d been drunk or high for the last 25 years. I’m sure I wasn’t.  

I respect my friend and I knew the comments came with love… but just it didn’t feel so funny in the cold light of being a 41 yr old single woman. I mean I’m a grown up. I have no urge to shop at Ann Taylor or buy curtains, but I don’t want to find myself homeless and pushing a shopping cart in Manolo Blanhiks and a thong either.

After some long conversations about my messy finances, my slightly barren love life and a year of sleepless nights, my girlfriend suggested therapy.
I’d tried budget spreadsheets and programs, ‘cooling off periods’ and morning after vows, yet I still found myself energized by the process of making a decision, making something happen, even when it was ill informed, badly timed or clearly ‘not the best idea’. Note – don’t be thinking about divorce the day you get married. Sitting on my hands kills me, but lately I wish I had a heavier butt.
I sure might have a healthier 401K and a less bruised heart.

Why did it take so long to wise up? Well bad decision making is cumulative. You make a bad decision, and then a worse decision to try and fix the first. And so on. Marry an even worse decision maker and you’re so busy trying to climb out of 2 sets of crap that you don’t notice how deep the hole is getting. My divorce left with a $3000 a month mortgage, and the hole got bigger.  And so on and so on. Being on your own means that there isn’t a second income to rescue you when things get tough. With a trust fund consisting of recipe books and some insanely warm socks, I was on my own when the roof started leaking and my swamp cooler exploded.

It wasn’t until things finally bottomed out and I slowed down long enough to notice that ‘things.are.not.good.at.all’ that I realized that shopping cart was going to become a reality before I reached 41 unless something changed.

Today I’m 4 months into the therapy and progress is slow but steady. I no longer make decisions the day the situation arises and ‘I’ll get back to you’ has become a new mantra where all things economic are concerned. I’m making rationale, well reasoned decisions and I’ve not moved house for 6 months (I’m aiming for 18 to declare victory). I no longer listen to words but look at actions to determine if someone is being real and the majority of the things I’ve ‘chosen’ lately have been rational and beneficial – juicing, daily 5 mile walks, smiling. Other than giving my dog a haircut, nothing has been injurious (he looked very sad to lose his mow hawk). As a result my mental health and finances are returning to a less alien craziness and I no longer lie awake worrying about whether I really want to move to Montana (I don’t) or whether I can afford gas. In fact, this grown up reasonable life is quite appealing for its frugality and evenness (even if I do have to wrestle with not buying a corset on a weekly basis).

Now if only I could apply these lessons to my love life…That could definitely use some therapy.

Sucking sound…

Once again, after a restless, excitable Saturday night, my morning of ‘wardrobe planning’ is interrupted by the cancellation of yet another date. Wonderful. Not only a cancellation, but a postponement to next Sunday evening. Claimant is ‘sick’ and planning on getting better by Thursday – yet deems to ask me out on Sunday evening. Sunday evening. The official cemetery for 2nd dates. The evening reserved for feeling depressed about work, getting to bed early, not drinking and definitely not meeting up for hot craziness. Another one bites the dust.  Sadly I’d rather watch Downton Abbey than listen to yet another divorced dude tell me how awesome his kids are. Plus who knows when they’re getting better down to the day? Hmmm.

Yikes. I think I’m officially over dating..

What on earth will I write about? Suggestions on a postcard please.