Tips for folks moving to CO

Here in Colorado we’re super welcoming to all of our new transplants. To help you on CO welcomeyour way to becoming ‘a native’ (a Coloradan, not a tribe member!), here are some helpful tips and tricks!

  1. Keep your out-of-state car plates as long as possible. It helps CO drivers recognize you and welcome you to the state.
  2. Load up that ski rack and bike rack immediately. All ‘natives’ proudly show off their gear all year round, so get those racks loaded. Don’t have skis or a bike? Head to Dicks or Costco for affordable gear that screams ‘I’m outdoorsy’. Your Mustang convertible is going to rock with a snowboard on top!!
  3. Don’t have 4 wheel drive? Don’t worry! Driving in snow is easy.  Ignore those creepers and slow boats, hit the pedal and go! Now do stay close to the person in front of you and remember to slow down when you approach a hill. On the off-chance that you get stuck, just hit that accelerator hard!!!
  4. Talk to your neighbor about how much your rent/house price is. It’s always good to meet your neighbors, and they’re sure to be amazed at how expensive it is here. They’ll also value your perspective on the traffic situation and how you might fix it. Best of all, compare CO to where you came from. Folks always want to know how CO is measuring up to Missouri/Kansas/Texas/California/North Carolina.
  5. Did you know weed is legal here? Of course you did! It’s why you moved here. Now you might find our legal weed is slightly pricier than that seedy stuff you used to get from Justin back home, but if you let your local weed store know, they’re sure to welcome the feedback. Who knows? They might even give you a discount!!
  6. Don’t worry about a ‘native’ or long-term resident not liking you. They all have actual jobs plus they’re house value has tripled in the last 2 years (and which you’ll never be able to afford), so feel free to not like them back either!!
  7. Finally, remember to remind ‘natives’ how great the state is.  Some might seem grouchy or a bit argumentative, but it’s probably because they forgot how awesome Colorado actually is. After all, it’s why they moved here too!

Welcome to Colorful Colorado. We’re glad to have you here.. well, we will be, eventually.

The alternate ‘It Gets Better’ project

It-Gets-Better-LogoAnyone who knows me from a hole in the wall knows that I love Dan Savage. The smart mouthed advice columnist who is responsible for introducing the world to the term ‘Santorum’, ‘GGG’ and ‘monogomish’, Dan and his hoooos-band Terry were also responsible for the remarkable YouTube campaign ‘It Gets Better’.

The couple produced a single video in response to bullying of teens (LGBT in particular), promising that no matter how crappy things are now, it does ‘get better’ as you get older. If you’ve never checked out the actual first video, I highly recommend it (along with the 50,000 other videos on the site) and the overall project was incredibly inspiring to not only LGBT teens, but anyone who felt ‘different’ or was bullied at school. I only wish it had been around when I was a kid.

But… I’m no longer a teen and I’m no longer bullied, but I feel we need a few more ‘it gets better’ projects to help those who feel awkward, different or just having a plain old, ‘life is sucking right now’ period. And I know you’re out there grown ups… I know that we all need an ‘it gets better’ now and again. So here are some of my proposals – Dan – should you want to help out some lesser known ‘minorities’ who are suffering in silence;

1. That bad hair cut

We know the current trend of pixies got you excited and you just decided to go for it, but don’t worry. It will get better. It will grow out. In the meantime, try some blond or red highlights and always remember to wear lipsticks so people don’t call you ‘sonny’ in line at Target.

2. The hole your career slid into

Things have been looking pretty grim of late I know. You were right. You’re boss really doesn’t like you. (Sorry). But it will get better. You’ll find another ally somewhere else in the organization or you’ll land an awesome project where you get to shine for a little while. Or maybe you’ll be lucky enough to be laid off and get to start afresh somewhere where everyone doesn’t know that you slept with Dave from sales. Plus their healthcare plan can’t be any worse!!!

3. Thursday night TV

I know. I hate The Voice too. In fact all singing shows should be sold to Japan and immediately replaced with tap dancing, cooking or dog training shows. Anything except someone else murdering Maria Carey songs from 2003. But don’t worry. It will get better. Parks and Rec will be back in January and hey, maybe by then they’ll have something else to put before and after it that doesn’t make you want to stick a fork in your eye. Maybe it won’t even feature married overweight guys with hot wives?!!!!

4. Those Burpees

Sure right now you’re lying on the floor, coughing your guts up and wondering whether you have the strength in your arms to push up, but one day it will get better. One day, you will be able to jump from a standing position into a full push up and then bounce right back to standing without losing control of your bladder, your lungs or your vision. One day, you will knock those suckers out without even thinking about it. One day, you won’t struggle around on the floor like a dying worm, and you will not want to die… one day. I’ve not yet met anyone who’s reached this place, but I’ve heard a rumor that someone’s girlfriend did them easily once.. so I’m holding out hope that it gets better. I mean, it has to … doesn’t it?

5. Dating

You’ve online dated, you’ve casually hooked up, you’ve proactively searched and you’ve even tried joining those ‘activity groups’ in the hope that you might find a suitable mate who doesn’t annoy the shit out of you after 20 minutes. You’ve considered marrying your dog, and you’re most significant relationship this year is with Showtime.But it does get better. Sure, that goober your sharing a drink with right now isn’t qualified to clean your bathroom but you will meet a nice guy/girl one day, even if you have to clean a Brazilian rainforest of frogs to find them. Plus another martini and even this potential stalker is going to seem a lot more attractive.

6. Those $250 skinny jeans

You were so thin when you bought them and yes, you did look ahmazballs that one time you wore them, but we know the pain you go through in order to even attempt a zip up at the moment. It will get better. You will wear those jeans again and that money won’t be a leering pile of denim that your friend/partner/spouse uses in every argument about money for the next 3 years.  You’ll lose that muffin top, you’ll remember that nothing looks as good as skinny feels or you’ll learn not to give a shit and make like everyone else by wearing a super baggy sweater that comes down to your thighs. Or you can wait another 3 years by which time everyone will be back rocking the boot cut or grab some Taco Bell and you’ll be in them by the weekend.

7. Your bank account

We totally agree that you needed that thing that you just bought on line that you really couldn’t afford, but it will get better. When it arrives and you’ve hidden it from your spouse/ self for a little while, you’ll remember why you really needed/wanted it and man, its going to make you feel soooo good. Especially when you put it to its intended use and I promise, people will literally fall in love with you, now that you have that thing. You’ll be smarter, sexier, hotter, faster and damn, you’ll probably get a pay raise as a result. So hey,don’t feel bad. Its going to get a lot better real soon.

People I’ve taken agin’

thumbs downIn Ireland, there is a commonly used phrase ‘ I’ve take agin’ that I think the US needs to adopt. Lord knows we all do it, but we just don’t talk about it. Maybe its because no-one has co-opting this phrase. Yet.

You might be asking.. what on earth is ‘taken agin’?

In British it’s defined as follows; “to take against someone is to begin to dislike someone, often without having a good reason.” In Ireland, whether its due to all that Guinness or just the accent, it gets shortened to ‘take agin’ (ag-in).  Used in a sentence; ‘I’ve taken agin that Mavis Prewett’ means you just don’t like Mavis, though you don’t have a specified reason why. Maybe she gave you stinkeye at the Post office once..? Or maybe her hair just annoys you. Either way, you’ve taken agin’ her and that’s that.

Hey, we’re British. We’re known for being small minded and judgmental. And lately I’ve been adding to my list of those I’ve taken agin’.

1. My dermatologist.

After assuring me that the new freckle/mole on my chest wasn’t cancer, I took agin’ my dermatologist when she looked up from my chest to my face and started frowning. ‘Have you considered a laser treatment for all those age spots?’ Well I hadn’t. But now apparently I need to. I asked what that entailed, trying to clarify what was so horrific that I was straining her Botoxed forehead (trying to frown), she also mentioned that my crows feet were quite deep and preventative maintenance was something I needed to start thinking about at ‘your age’. While I’m thrilled I don’t have cancer, I can’t help but hold her judgement of my crone’s face agin’ her. She will not be getting a Christmas card from me, no matter how wizened and crinkly my face becomes.

2. Simon Cowell

I don’t watch American Idol, in fact I don’t watch anything he’s ever been a part of but I took agin’ Simon Cowell the moment I heard he uses black toilet paper. Irrational yes, but justifiable? Perfectly. Who uses black toilet paper? And why? Who even spends that much time thinking about toilet paper that they’d actively seek out and buy a specialty type. I looked into it and the company who makes it bills itself as ‘Fashionable, Sensual, Sophisticated, Fun, and Unique’. Just the words I want associated with fecal matter. Sorry Simon.. but I’m agin’ you and your fancy pants loo roll.

3. Oprah.

*gasp*. I know, its worse than nailing an upside down cross on the wall or denouncing Obama to take agin Oprah but I can’t help it. Once she gifted several pairs of Louboutin’s to Gwyneth Paltrow on her show in 2002 (a girl who clearly needs more free shit), I lost all faith in the almighty O and her ‘common touch’. Louboutin’s are ~$700 a pair. Common touch? What planet are you on woman? That’s a months rent in middle America. And don’t tell me that my Louboutin’s will manifest if I buy that ‘Secret’ book garbage. The world doesn’t need any more people wishing on vision boards in the hope of finding love or money or happiness. That’s for rich people. Sorry Oprah, but you’re on my agin’ list until I spy you lugging a gallon of milk from the grocery store in yoga pants and flip flops like the rest of us.

4. Vegans

I know and like many vegetarians and even a few vegans.. but I’ ve had to take agin’vegans who are intent on converting me. I hold no grudge against anyone’s dietary whims (though Mr Man eating a MacDonalds on the plane last week got a serious case of stink eye from me) , but quite a few vegans seem to insist on trying – with all the zeal of Mormons. I’m already highly restricted by my celiac disease and blood clotting disorder, so Ms. Vegan, I can’t help but take agin’ you  when you want me to stop eating whole other food groups on the basis of ‘healthfulness’. ‘Healthfulness’ isn’t even a real word. And if I cut out all of the animal products in my diet, in addition to the stuff I can’t already eat because it will, literally, kill me, I’m left with 2 stalks of celery and an eggplant. Sorry vegans, but I’ve taken agin’ your dietary quirkiness and your need to share it with me. I’ll be over here with my cheeseburger, quietly glowering at you.

5. The girl who snaps her gum

You know who you are. The one busy sighing as you stand in line because waiting at the checkout is just.so.lame. Really. To quell your boredom you’ve decided to treat me and the other 5 people in line to the musical sounds of your saliva squishing, lip smacking and gum snapping as you chomp on your wad of gum. I wish you no ill in reality, Ms.Gum Snapper but you should know that I have taken agin you and will be considering psychic strangulation if you don’t close your mouth in the next 3 seconds.

***

So the next time you’re waiting in line, driving your car, standing in a bar or casually watching tv and you are hit by a sense of intense irritation for no specific reason.. know that you’ve probably just taken agin’ someone. Congratulations! You’ve just joined the legions of us mentally disliking someone for no good reason. The list is long and completely irrational.. but don’t worry, we all have them. And if you don’t.. well I might just take agin’ you too.

Jealousy

jealousyIts ugly but amongst my plethora of failings, jealousy always had a starring role.

No, I don’t crave other people’s possessions or their cellulite free thighs and I’ve never felt that prick of bitterness when someone benefits from good luck or hard work. In fact, I’m fairly covet-less in my life… right up to the point where a man gets involved. At which point, I’d like to introduce ‘raging psycho nut job’.

I know that jealously stems from insecurity and lack of confidence both of which I’ve been intimately familiar with during my life. I spent my twenties marveling that ‘no one had found me out’ when I managed to sail through college and into a prestigious company, and despite the grip of anxiety that I lived with for 12 hours a day I managed to develop a reasonable approximation of a confident professional. I was so good at faking confidence and self assurance that my the time I hit my mid thirties, a work colleague admitted that she found me ‘intimidating’.  I, sadly, was thrilled that I was duping everyone so well (even as I was popping Xanax like breath mints).

But its hard to fake self confidence in a relationship. You can make it to …ooo.. about date 4. Or right around the time you start developing some feelings for the guy. Which was cue for me to start questioning ‘is this guy really interested in me?’ and then *bam*, she showed up right on time – Jealousy. Damn that girl be cray-zeeee.

Every guy has dated that girl. The one who asked ‘who was she?’ or ‘are you looking at the waitress’s boobs?’. She questions how you feel about your female work colleagues and god help you if you’ve got a female friend in your life.. that’s kindling for WW3.  The insecure woman can’t help herself. Deep down she doesn’t feel like she’s good enough and the outcome is a ragingly insecure control freak. Yep.. that was me. Delightful.

On a good note, I only dated people who were even more insecure than me (dis-fuuuunctional) so we’d spend many a happy night not trusting each other and wondering when the other person was going to show signs of cheating. (Ah… warm memories!) Two wrongs do not make a right; something I realized when he was hacking my phone to check my text messages, and I was checking his travel bag for condoms.

But jealousy makes you crazy. It blocks all rational thought. The fear of the other person finding out that ‘you’re not as awesome as they think you are’ creates an expectation that its all just a matter of time. So every interaction becomes fraught which can only lead to a self fulfilling prophecy. He never calls you back. He cheats. He dumps you. You were right. You didn’t deserve him. You really aren’t all that… and the cycle kicks off again. Ug-lee.

Actively trying not to be jealous doesn’t work. You can’t fake it, especially when the heart in involved. Because jealousy is so much about you, and how you see yourself. Plastering on a smile and assuring him ‘of course I don’t mind if you want to grab coffee with your ex’ might fool him.. but you’ve just sentenced yourself to an afternoon of imagination gone rabid. You can’t fake your emotions. By the end of the evening he’s left you, moved back in with her and they’re renewing their vows next Tuesday.. all in your head. (meanwhile he’s just spent an afternoon remembering all the things he didn’t like about her).  He walks in the door and *bam* let the games begin.

Your role, should you choose to accept it, is to find all the information you need to verify that you’re not the one he actually wants to be with. It sounds ridiculous.. but that’s jealously. Proactive destruction.

So how do you stop jealousy? How do you stop it from turning you into a psycho controlling nut job?

Easy.

Like yourself more. Find ways to build your own self confidence. Face your fear of the worst and know you’ll survive. Because you will.

(FYI: 7 years of therapy really helped)

You can’t fake self confidence or feeling positive about yourself. You can’t pretend you’re not afraid, indefinitely. And the only way to stop jealousy is to start focusing on you. Not him. You.

How to build self confidence? Stop the fear and insecurity?

Second thoughts. It’s not completely easy. It takes some work.

I did things that scared me, I challenged my idea of who I thought I was and yes, I worked through some shit from 30 years ago. I stopped living the life I thought I had to, and started doing the things that in my gut, I’ve always felt I needed to do to be me. I reclaimed me.. and these days I’m pretty impressed at what a bad-ass she turned out to be.

I’ve accepted that I’ll never be that cool professional in the Prada suit with the perfect apartment, or that bubbly blonde with 47 best friends and a social calendar that schedules out to 2017. I’ll always be a supporter, not the lead, and I’ll never again imagine that the grass is anything other than shades of green for everyone. I won’t ever live that life I was promised since the age of 7 or the one I see on TV. I’m not going to be Mom and maybe not a Wife. I’m secure and happy in the life I have today (sure it could use more sex, but hey, nothing is perfect). I have a butt load of joy and love in my life from all kinds of weird places and I now have the confidence to life my perfectly imperfect life.

And I no longer need to fake anything.

So these days jealously doesn’t feature in my life. It might have a brief one line walk-on part when my crush falls in love with someone else and posts it on Facebook (I was bummed it wasn’t me), or an ex boyfriend gets married.. but largely, I’m happy for other people’s happiness. Jealousy… I don’t invite that bitch in any more. She’s a terrible party guest and damn it, she never brings anything but trouble.

Small talk, schmall talk

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yes, I know I’m over 40.

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

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

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

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

Baby steps…

First Date topics you might want to skip

sick-bedAh first dates. Gotta love ’em. Actually we all hate them. There is no rationale as to why we decide to spend an hour with a complete stranger with the sole purpose of trying to decide if you’ll get naked at some point in the future. I prefer my annual ob-gyn exam.. the small talk is easier and he doesn’t care if I’m not that pretty.

What do two people who know pretty much nothing about each other, talk about on a first date? I mean, its not like its an interview for a job (no matter what Jerry Seinfeld says). But you do.. and at 40 something, I typically manage to have a good time on a first date especially if they’re a) cute, b) chatty and c) trying. But last night, even I was stumped. I finally found one I couldn’t crack. And boy, did I try. Blood.. meet stone.

First dates typically start by either of you latching onto a topic and staying there until the cocktail kicks in, at which point you can move the conversation in a zillion directions. Which is when the date gets fun. After all people.. aka humans… tend to be really interesting.

Over the years I’ve learnt that to get things going to start light and casual..weekend plans, summer activities, even the weather can get things moving. Its not hard.

But no, this guy decided the best place to start after he’d said hello, was to give me his resume. Starting at age 18.

Now as a 46 year old man, who’s run a fairly successful business, I would think my date would have the ability to small talk. You know, .. how’s your summer been? done anything fun? what are your plans for fall? Are you looking forward to ski season? Banal, but easy.

Not this guy. Instead I got his life history from age 18- 46, with every move, every job, every conversation with management, his stock purchases and yes, even his IPO returns (and subsequent investment decisions).

I wasn’t sure if he’d somehow confused me with a headhunter.

At one point I even interjected to mention that yes, his career was fascinating but that I was actually more interested in how he arrived in Colorado, to which I was reprimanded with ‘I’m telling you’. So I guess if he wants to hear about how I ended up in the US I’d have to start from the womb?

But.. 15 minutes in, I managed to steer the Titanic away from the iceberg of his bank account details towards the calmer waters of his kids. Everyone likes to talk about their kids don’t they? And while I don’t actually care about his kids (I’m not considering dating them), I figure it might calm him down and he could wax rhapsodic (as all parents do) about the awesomeness that is his offspring.

But no.. I actually appeared to have found the only parent who wasn’t interested in talking about his kids. Nope.. not one bit. Instead he wanted to spend time assuring me that my decision not to have kids was ‘ok’ and that people without kids were ‘fine‘. Wow.. Thank you. I had really been tortured by my non-parent status for the last 10 years, but now *phew* I can finally sleep at night. I really must pass on to other non parents that we’re not the pariahs of society that we think.

What became really clear as he expounded  on ‘having vs. not having kids’ (with no idea as to whether this was an active choice for me or not), was that he clearly hasn’t spent any time with adults who don’t have kids. According to his portrayal of us non-parents, our status as ‘non parents’ was down to our preference for a hedonistic cycle of alcohol, sex, food, travel (yep, seems about it). No judgement though.. no judgement at all.  There was no recognition that we might have rich inner lives, be pursuing creative or spiritual passions  or that we simply didn’t find the right guy at the right time. Nope.. he was fine with people who preferred to selfishly live their lives alone with no ‘real’ responsibilities. He was just concerned for us.. dying in a retirement home, unvisited, unloved and soul suckingly alone.

What can I say. This guy knows how to woo a single woman. Sympathy for my barren status and impending lonely death always gets me hot.

Before I could interject that maybe, just maybe some of us non-parents might have a expansive network of caring friends, that we live full and rich lives, that we might actually have a greater chance to spend our latter years surrounded by loving, fun and caring people.. (after all, plenty of people in retirement homes have kids who don’t visit).. he decided that really, we needed to talk about dying.

Yep. Lets talk about dying. On a first date. Awesome.

His reason for being on Match.com? Well apparently it was down to his desire to not die alone. He wanted to die holding the hand of his loving spouse, who was assuring him that he was loved as he drew his last breath. Surrounded by his loving kids, and you know.. loved.

I want to die smothered by a pillow. Hopefully in the next 5 minutes.

He went on, and on, about his uncle who had died alone in a nursing home, with no visitors and you know..totally alone. And how, by not having kids or a spouse, this man was an object of pity and fear for my date. His being not married, sans kids,  in old age was literally the worse thing that this guy could imagine..

‘I don’t want to end up like that’

Well buddy, non of us do. That’s why we invest time in friends and family (yes, the ones you don’t create still count!). That’s why we live our lives engaged with other people. Spend our time with friends we care about and have experiences that we will remember forever. Sure, we hope some of those friends will be with us in our dotage, but if they’re not, we’ll find new friends to keep us company and engaged in life..after all, we’ve been finding and keeping friends all of our lives. (you know, when we’re too tired to have sex or too hungover to be drinking). I for one will never be alone unless I want to be.. and after an hour with this guy.. I’d never wanted anything more.

So I wish Mr.Doom and Gloom all the best in his search for his deathbed hand holder. I do know for sure it won’t be me.

I’ll be the one in the corner with the pillow at the ready.

"You must be ‘this’ size to work out"

You must be ‘this’ size to work out

One of the challenges I’ve noticed in the US is the prevalence of size-ism. The fact that some brands only go up to size XL or size 12 is a common complaint in the US, despite the average weight for women is 165lbs and men is 191lbs. Yes, as a country we all need to lose weight.
And I think most people know that you lose weight by changing your diet and exercising.. which is where the sizism really kicks in.

As Jezebel recently noted, Lulumon only goes up to size 10 (I weigh 130 and am a size 6-8), and Nike’s Women’s ‘Large’ is barely a size 8.When you check out running brands such as New Balance, Asics and god help you, any cycling brand… well if you’re over 160lbs you’re shit out of luck. Just think ‘Lycra sausage’ and you’re close. In fact, unless you buy your workout gear from Target, Walmart or KMart, (substandard, off brand and again, limited to size S,M, L and XL), your average sporting good store probably doesn’t even carry a size for your average overweight American.  I guess this means women have to wear men’s sizes and men… a trash bag??

As someone who grew up around people who were all sizes, one of the most common excuses I heard for not working out and relying on fad diets was ‘they don’t make workout gear in my size’.
Which is totally irrational:  the people who actually NEED to be working out . can’t buy it? Who made that decision?
Apparently sporting brands don’t actually want non fit (aka fat) people to wear their brand.. in case their brand is tainted by association. Good job they’ve not seen my cellulite.. they’d have my shorts off quicker than Usane Bolt.

Now I understand that brands are aspirational. If I buy the Reebok Nano 3.0 shoe, maybe I’ll be a better Cross fitter; if I buy the new Asic Kayano’s maybe I’ll be able to run further or faster. And don’t get me started on the myth of the Lulumon shorts and tights (yes, your ass does look good doesn’t it?).  But not even making sizes that allow people who want and need to get fitter, to exercise in comfort, to look good and feel good.. its beyond rude. Its offensive. And while I’m not a size L, I care about quite a few larger women and I’m pissed on their behalf.  Especially as they’re forced to take jogs in men’s basketball shorts. Not even men look cute in those. 

But there is one area of sizism that touches all women. Literally. The over-the-shoulder-boulder-holders. Sports bras. No matter what your size, no matter your fitness, we all struggle to find a sports bra that works. Bras have been around since 1889, but the good sports bra remains as elusive as Bigfoot (and equally attractive). Whether your issue is size, weight, lobsided-ness (yes guys, they don’t always come in matching sets), aggressively pointy nipples or complete and utter lack, the sports industry has something to disappoint and embarrass you.

My friend, Linda, suffers from nipple aggression. No, they don’t go out and beat up people, but they do stick out a lot. All the time. And while that’s fine for Jennifer Aniston and her boyfriend, its not something she wants or needs at the gym. (men, stop rolling your eyes.. its just not cool, like a boner at a job interview). You’d think that manufacturers would have figured this out. After all, most gyms are air conditioned. Women have nipples. You do the math. 17 bras later, she still has to stuff her bra with cotton pads to prevent them from sticking out when she works out.

My friend Hope is blessed with an impressive prow. Her ‘sistas’ not only sit high and proud, she’s managed to keep them luscious despite losing most of her body fat over the last 8 months. But can she find a bra that keeps them where they’re meant to go? Held down so that she doesn’t bruise her chin while doing double unders? or suffer serious spillage when she does a burpee? Nope.. as long as I’ve known her she’s had to double up (2 at the same time), or wear something that resembles a parachute. Her sports bra could serve double duty as a strait jacket or a paragliding harness and creates this weird flattened lifejacket around her torso that could repel a stray bullet. If she wears a regular sports bar and does anything resembling exercise, her boobs pop out the top of her bra.. which is never a good look mid marathon.
And this girl is fit and slim… god help those women who are larger..

Another chick in my life, Felicia, has lost oodles of weight over the last 12 months and taken herself from overweight mom of 2  complete with bat wing arms and thigh rubbage, to a lithe and skinny 125lbs who runs every other day. Unfortunately she now needs to origami her boobs into a sports bra, since they don’t make them for sporty women who’ve had kids. Because thats never happened.

And finally there is my chica, Tanya, who apparently went to the gym the day they were handing boobs out and is barely more than two nipples and a hope. Her options are a faux bandeau top that basically shouts ‘Look how flat-chested I am’ or a padded effort that, once sweaty, sags down to her belly button like some National Geographic woman after her 8th child. Either way, she’s not feeling feminine or appealing at the gym. And if you don’t feel good while you’re working out..when are you feeling good?

C’mon Nike, Adidas, Moving Comfort and CXW… How hard is it to make a damn bra?

And while you’re at it.. how about some better guys shorts? You don’t want to see our boobs falling out while you’re lifting.. we don’t need to see major ballage while you’re squatting. Get with the program manufacturers.

How to say ‘No’

How to Say No

As a reformed (well, reforming), people pleaser, the word ‘no’ is a new and brittle addition to my lexicon. Having spent 40 odd years saying ‘I’d love to’ followed by hours of angst over committing to yet another bridal shower/ baby shower/ 2 yr olds birthday party/blind date.. over the last few months I’ve been rehearsing and trying to find delicate ways to say the ‘n’ word. No.

For all those readers who are sitting out their, all confident in yourself and rolling your eyes, spare a moment for those of us with marsh-mellow self confidence. The word ‘No’ to us hypersensitive souls means we risk offending you, you might not like us or consider us uppity, which leads to us spending the next 3 weeks wondering if you’ll ever invite us to anything again, projecting the death of our social network and a funeral attended only by the guy you dumped back in 1996 and a mortician. We say yes not because we’re givers and lovers, generous people (thats the other yes people), but because we’re terrified at what you’ll think of us if we say no.

Even if my gut says ‘not if heaven were offered up on a silver platter and it involved John Slattery’.. I still find myself um-ing and ‘maybe-ing’, and all too often, ‘sure, love to’. I can remember saying ‘no’ on about 3 occasions but mainly I go along with a yes because I don’t know how to say no without it echoing off the walls and making me feel horrible.

Why? Why is no so hard?

I’ve gone on dates I didn’t want, bought crap I didn’t need and attended shit I didn’t need to see. Whats even worse, I’ve probably cancelled more things than I’ve ever been to.. which makes me the flightiest, least reliable person on earth… which in turn drives people nuts. So even when I’m saying yes, I know I’ll be pissing them off later by cancelling. Which I know. And yet I still can’t say no.

Why? Because I want you to like me. I want you to know that I like you, (even if I don’t want to date you or hang out with you tonight). Because I don’t want to offend. Because I don’t know. Because.. because… basically I have no spine. Hey.. nobody’s perfect.

So when I found myself committed to something recently, that I didn’t really want to do.. I decided to actually figure it out and see if I can stop this compulsive ‘yes’ crap once and for all.
God knows, I really didn’t want to see that Star Trek movie.

Emily Post, that purveyor of all things gracious offers an extensive process for saying no. And here I was thinking it was only two letters. Maybe this is why I actually find it so hard.

1. Delay your response in order to weigh your options and then respond.

This is something I can do.. the ‘um, can I get back to you?’.  This works great in delaying the actual no word, and in the delay, you’re sort of building in a potential for a negative response. I’ve managed to use this at work to great effect, even if my delayed response two weeks later is ‘sure’. Probably because I’m not following the other 5 steps…but what when someone is on the phone and needs a response, like, now?

2. Accentuate the positive

I automatically assumed that saying no is negative, bad, ugly, selfish (insert dark and gloomy word that means I’ll never have any friends).. but Ms.Post assures you that you can build a complement into your ‘no’  to make the experience positively enjoyable for the other person.  The chance for a compliment.  ‘I’m really flattered that you asked’ or ‘You know I’d love to’… these sound delightful and I have to say, why on earth didn’t my mother teach me this? I could have avoided a lot of awkward silences over the last 40 years.

3. Give a reason for ‘no’ if possible

Ah, I knew there had to be honesty or fact somewhere. Apparently you can’t get away with all butterflies and unicorns in saying no. You are meant to explain the high level facts of why ‘no’. And Emily sternly warns you ‘No fabrications. Lies come back to haunt you’. Which is where I get stuck. Because sometime the truth is, ‘I just don’t want to’, or ‘I’m an antisocial hermit shut in’ or ‘sitting next to you chewing gum for 3 hours isn’t my idea of fun’. Hmm.. I’m guessing Emily’s reasons for no are a little less selfish and petty. Which probably means ‘ because you’re a thoughtless ass’ is out too. I guess I need some work on this one. And at my advancing age I can always rely on ‘bad back’. Lame but believable.. though not terrible useful if the activity involves lying down. Good job the guys aren’t lining up these days….

4. Be clear about the future

Ah, this is where you lay the groundwork for future invites.  My own personal angst zone. If I say no to this, will I ever be invited to X or Y again? (yes, I have had fickle friends in the past). Ms Post assures me that if I’ve followed steps 1-3, now is the time to set expectations about future invites. ‘But count me in next time’ ‘Maybe next month?’ or ‘I don’t think that its in the cards for us’. Again, here’s where I tend to fall down.. apologizing profusely and finding myself offering to help them move house. And no, don’t ever, ever offer up ‘maybe in 6 months time…’ That’s cruel and unusual punishment whoever he or she is. I’m talking to you, Montana man.

5. Respectfully listen

I love this point in Emily’s advice. She does mention that sometimes, sometimes, saying no doesn’t go as planned. People might be hurt or confused, offended or angry. G-R-E-A-T. So now is the time for you to shut up and let your ‘no’ recipient vent.  See, even thinking about this makes me have to pop a Xanax. But apparently ‘acknowledging the other parties’ feelings’ helps the process. Yep, at this point I’m staring at my shoes like a 4th grader and nodding. Yes, I am a terrible person. I know, awful. Yes, horrid. No, I don’t know why we’re friends… (all in my head of course). Which is when the temptation to change the answer to ‘ oh go on then’ is my usual go to place….but as Emily says, now its imperative to…

6. Stand your ground. 

You had a reason for no (even my selfish and petty ones), so caving to flattery or bullying means you’re probably going to resent a ‘yes’ at this point. And, by my rules, probably cancel last minute anyway. Emily assures me that standing my ground, reaffirming my ‘no’ and smiling is the way to close the conversation. (or look like you’re high). Of course, in my head, I’m being beaten with a pole and the ground has opened into a fiery pit of hell. Which is when passing out helps.  That or instant death.
Because here’s the thing that Ms. Post doesn’t acknowledge. If you’ve worked through her 6 steps – you’ve delayed, accentuated the positive, given a reason, been clear about the future, listened to their response and not budged on your answer… well now you’re probably standing with an awkward silence between you and the other person.. and what do you do then?

Which is typically when I decide it sounds like a fun thing to do and say ‘sure, count me in’. 

We need a hug alternative

We need a hug alternative

I’m not a natural hugger. The country in which I was raised is crowded and as a result, the concept of personal space is ingrained from birth. Sure we hug relatives at Christmas, and parents hug their children but the hug, as I was raised, is for close or related friends. Oh and grandmothers.

In the US, the hug is an all inclusive activity. Something I was schooled on when, 3 years ago, my new boss greeted me with a smile and a hug. I immediately assumed a) he’s an escaped lunatic or b) he’s trying to get in my pants. The jury is still out on a) but I do now know that his hug isn’t that big of a deal in the US.. its just a form of greeting and is often exchanged by people who don’t really know each other.

Which is just WEIRD.

Lets consider the act. You are wrapping your arms around another human being, bringing your body close together.. and if you’re a women, boobs may be smashed against the other chest (which may have its own boobs). Genitals are mere inches apart and you feel each other’s body.

Its so not right to happen in a work context.

I don’t need you to know what my boobs feel like, or how deep my back fat goes, or feel any kind of rise of temperature in the pants department as a form of greeting. A handshake is perfectly adequate and I can always wash my hands (whereas the feel of man boobs pressed against mine remains forever). So why is it acceptable, nay, expected in the workplace these days?

In the UK, we greet each other with a  handshake.That covers everyone from a stranger to your boss to potential new friend at a party who you’ve just met or even your parents (hey we’re not a family of huggers). You greet or welcome someone with a handshake. You might… might... part with a hug (if you’ve imbibed a lot of alcohol, broken down crying when recounting your last boyfriends departure or shared the news of your impending colonoscopy since you met)… but its not a given. A British hug means something. It means ‘I get you’ or ‘ I like you’ or ‘I think you need cheering up’. It is never a way to introduce yourself. (unless you are that escaped lunatic or frisky man dog I previously mentioned). We tend to reserve it for a friend you haven’t seen a years, a family member who is walking towards you arms outstretched or potentially someone who just won a major award. Like a Nobel peace prize (BAFTAs and Pulitzer winners get a gentle clap). And even then… even then.. there’s an awkward pause before going in for the hug.. the ‘should I?’ ‘do I have to?’ ‘for England’ mental considerations. I tell you, we Brits really don’t do take hugs lightly in a non familial context.

Instead we have lots of alternatives. The arm punch (suitable for team mates, coworkers, men in the pub ..or me); the one arm shoulder hug – avoids bodies getting too close, but conveys some warmth and if you’re feeling extra friendly, men can do the handshake/ backslap combo and women, the hand shake coupled with an arm touch. These alternatives recognize a connection but could never be construed as uncomfortable or weird in the workplace or socially.  They can be greetings or farewells, but they’re low stress and, at least in the UK, all totally acceptable for any occasion. Workplace, funeral, wedding, first date…

But, since I now live in the US, I am thwarted at every attempt to shoulder hug, arm pat or shake hands. I am greeted with looks of confusion, and most often, get pulled forward into a hug whether I want to or not. My proffered hand shakes are taken as rude or cold, and the arm pats/ shoulder hugs seen as awkward and ‘standoffish’. One person just stood at gawped at my outstretched hand as though he didn’t know what to do with it. I actually had to reach for his hand and grasp it, shaking it like a noodle as he looked bemused. Yes, its a handshake. Its what civilized people with personal space issues who don’t know you do to say hello. It won’t kill you. Where as hugging you… well it may kill me.

The Answer?

So now I mostly suck it up and take the hug. My toes curl and I generally hold on with the strength of a lettuce leaf, but at least the other person isn’t questioning my integrity or character. In true British fashion I don’t want anyone to be embarrassed and if my boss, my first date or that woman I’ve just met wants to smush my boobs… well have at it.

In the meantime my search for a socially acceptable greeting activity continues.. the only rule being that genitals remain far away from each other and nobody’s boobs get smushed. How about a salute?

Celebrating the return

It made its presence known in a creeping fashion. A brief moment here, a waking dream there. Daytime thoughts of times gone past during a noon conference call. I sensed that it might be on the horizon, it being Spring and all, but I didn’t want to scare it away.. its been a cold winter and it might be easily frightened. And its been a long dry winter. The sun? No, my sex drive.

As with any woman, of any age, my sex drive is prone to take vacations. Who knows why it decides it needs a time out, or where it goes when its off (Winter is beautiful in Kauai), but it always pops up again, roaring for attention and gangbusters energetic (Maybe it did winter in Kauai?). Of course I’m single, working 13-14 hours a day at the moment and resemble a sack of potatos.. but hey, its good to know its back, just in case.

Unlike guys, our sex drive is extremely fickle. Notice I said fickle, not lacking. An un-emptied dishwasher, a throwaway comment about a female coworker and it’s packing its bags and heading for the door. Like guys, we have no control over it. Believe us, we know that the best way to smooth things over, blow off some stream, have ‘no jacket required’ fun is sex… but our sex drive has other ideas. It seems to resemble those high maintenance Neiman’s princesses you see wandering around the mall with 3 inch nails and 6 inch heels. It whines when it doesn’t get what it wants and redefines the word demanding. Plus it takes sudden vacations with no defined end date. Usually prompted by work stress, financial problems or a swiftly exiting boyfriend, the sex drive vacation is always unannounced. I only know its back when I wake up thinking inappropriate thoughts about Fabian Cancellara and its shouting at me. Thankfully mine only seems to vacation in month long blocks. I’ve heard that for some it can be years.
But when it’s back, like that Neiman’s princess, it will not be ignored.  

On the plus side, even with the extended vacations and aging, my drive just gets stronger. Which is alarming because I can still remember the frenzy of my late teens and twenties. And we won’t mention my 21, when I finally realized that the removal of all that fleece might render me a little more attractive to the male specifies and finally, finally, got asked out by a cute guy. 

Unlike guys, our sex drive starts bodybuilding in our mid 30s and at 41, now seems to training for Ms. Olympia. At this rate, by the time I’m 70 I may need to move to North Dakota for my own safety. Which is where the cruel hand of reality twists its handle. As we become less attractive – grey hair, sagging bits, less energy – our bodies heat up on overdrive and frankly, it just more and more intense. Our options close in and if you’re not already partnered, its hellish. Like a teenager trying to get to second base, we’re horny and we don’t know what to do with it. As I mentioned to a girlfriend this weekend, ‘I think I know how a 19 yr old guy feels’. How did any of them make it through high school?

Untethered by expectations, with my body on the down-slide towards infirmity, my sex drive is donning crampons and heading up hill armed with all manner of kinky thoughts and plans for the future. Now if only I had a dude to carry the backpack.

In the meantime I’m taking ‘the return’ as a sign that my Neimans princess is back  and probably wants new clothes. Demanding bitch.

Die Beards Die

C’mon guys. We’ve indulged you. Its not funny any more. It has to stop.
Enough with the beards.

It was 2010, the last vestiges of dot com enthusiasm had trickled to nothing (along with those shares of AskJeeves you bought for $36 a pop) and you needed something to look forward to. Something that said ‘hey, I might not be rich or successful but I’m owning it’. And so you grew the beard.

Your beard actively declared to the world ‘I’m not trying, I am an artisan’, plus you got to save 5 minutes of grooming every morning. You took up brewing beer or making your own pickles, you experimented with bee keeping or joined a community garden. You felt OK wearing a brown sweater. In fact, it kind of joined up with your beard so you looked like one big hairy fronted cave man. You felt in control,  grown up, manly. You sneered at those smooth faced young cads patrolling in their flat fronted khakis and button downs. How generic. How suburban. How corporate. Not you, you don’t want to look good, you don’t care. Love me, love my beard.

Never mind that your nads were now squeezed into jeans so tight that your testicles split into 4 and you went up an octave during daylight hours.. hey, you had bigger things on your mind like juicing, composting or finding the latest speakeasy to sneer at. Your beard signaled you didn’t care about ‘the man’ anymore, you were an individual and hey, it was easier than getting a tattoo.

But that’s enough guys. Its been almost three years now and we, the women, are over it. We’re not that impressed that you can grow hair around your chin that connects to your hairline… we’ve been fighting that shit on ourselves for years. We don’t care that its white or grey or ginger.. its all just pubic indicators as far as we can tell (NOTE: a reliable early warning system I’ve found). Its not cool that our eyes are instantly drawn to that area where your nose hair meets your beard hair (ewwww) and that kissing you is like making out with an SOS pad. Plus, while I love a cyclist, nothing is less sexy than a sweaty beard flapping in the breeze or -yikes- around my lady parts. 

So please guys, we’re begging you. Make like the Gillette guy and get rid of that shit. And no, please skip the alternative facial hair experimentation. No-one has looked good with lamb chop sideburns since Brian Setzer and you’re not the exception. And while mustaches are sexy, summer mustaches are way too John Wayne Gacy creepo. Unless you’re actually planning on whiting out the windows of your van and purchasing some chloroform.. just get rid of the whole thing.

Sure you now look like everyone else and you’re no longer able to nod to your brotherhood of wannabe carpenters and artisanal mustard makers.. but hey, that’s what tattoos are for!

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. 

‘Stop Looking’ and other awesome advice I’ve received

As much as I hate to end the week on a downer…if you’re single and over the age of 35, you’ve heard lots of ‘advice’ from your friends on how to address your situation.

‘Stop looking’  along with ‘you just know’ comments, are probably the most trite pieces of advice a single person can receive.

Why?

Because the ‘stop looking’ comment is always delivered by someone who’s a) been in a relationship for at least 10 years or b) someone who’s just started a new relationship. You never, ever, hear these words coming from someone who’s single or divorced. Those who offer this advice inevitably look back on their single life and the rose colored glasses come down. In hindsight it seems so simple. (but in hindsight, so did my college degree and I know that shit was hard).

‘You need to stop trying’

As someone who dated extensively post divorce, yes, I have gone through periods of actively dating a lot. Effort was involved and scars accumulated.

So I stopped trying.

I’ve been on a dating ‘break’ since October and the result? I can’t say that ‘love’ or even a date has landed on my doorstop (unless it visited when I was in the shower). The closest I got was a delivery from SmittenKitten. ‘Not trying’ has made not a blind bit of difference to my ‘finding love’ except I’m saving $39.99 a month on Match.com subscriptions and I don’t have to shave my legs every week.

‘You’re trying too hard’

This pearl of wisdom I receive whenever I mention that I miss men. But with 0 dates this year and no sex in the last 6 months, I think if I tried less, I’d basically have to be in a coma.

According to my friend I’m doing it wrong. Not only should I stop looking, but I need to stop thinking about the fact that I’m not looking. Apparently I need to reach some kind of meditative
‘zen’ where I’m not thinking about not thinking about men. How this is meant to lead to finding a guy to hang out with is beyond me? Well the Dali Lama is single I guess…
 
 ‘You need to get out more’.

I work at home, but when I’m not working, I walk my dog, run errands, ride by bikes, run, do yoga, visit bookstores and museums, bars and restaurants. I go to movies, I sit and drink coffee on park benches. I spend time with friends. I am part of a community garden and I try new hobbies every year including totally dude focused ones like shooting and riding a motorcycle. I don’t think I was this busy at 26. Unless I’m going to pitch a tent outside my apartment building, I don’t think I can be less ‘in’.

So this year I’m not accepting any more dating advice from people who are married or in long term relationships.You guys can advise me on my taxes, life insurance and where to buy curtains but not how to find love.

I will be taking a lover

Given the decline in available attractive men over 40, I have made an executive decision. I shall soon be taking a lover. No, not a f-k buddy. I’m not 22. A lover. Someone to ..ahem… love me…you know… periodically.
Easy right? No strings, just occasional loving from a tried, trusted and reliable partner. It should be easy right? Lets just say you ask a man to turn up, be welcomed with a lot of enthusiasm, get loved up and then leave. No arguments about how you didn’t put the laundry away, who’s picking up the kids or questions about ‘where is this going?’ You’d think there would be a line out of the door. Sadly, no.

I don’t work in an environment rife with single men (I work at home), and my pursuits tend towards the gay and female friendly (yoga, gardening, dining out and movies). Even when I’m hitting the gun range, a very manly pastime, armed weapons at close range tend to be a prohibiter in meeting guys (unless you live in Texas in which case its hotter than crotchless panties to some guys). I’ve tried smiling at guys while on my bikes, but sweaty lycra isn’t that attractive, and on my motorcycle, no-one can see your rictus grin at 70mph.

So here’s my first hurdle. How does one identify, track down and solicit potential lovers? (do not say Craigslist). Its not exactly something you can put in an ad without sounding like you’re advertising for a hooker and I’m not. I actually don’t want to have to pay.. and even if I did, are there even guy hookers in real life??? Tawdry and I’ll put that one on the back of the stove for if I get desperate. Really desperate.
No, I think that since I don’t need to wear a bag on my head in public and I still fit into my college jeans, I should be able to do this without an ATM withdrawal. But how? My guy friends have suggested that I could find someone ‘by snapping my fingers’ but I spent the weekend doing that and the only reaction I got was a very alert dog. Maybe I should have left my apartment.

Ok, so if its so easy … how? Again, my extremely informed male friends ‘go to a bar, flirt and go home with someone’. Yes, if I were 25 that would work. But again, if I’m in ‘meat market’ bar, I tend to look like I’m someone’s mother coming to call them out on missed curfew. The bars I actually go to tend to cater to the older crowd and sadly, most of them are married or partnered up and nothing ends an evening like the threat of a knifing in the bathroom. Lately the only single guys I’ve met are behind the bar and waiting until his shift ends at 3am, well he’d had to wake me up first. Nope, bars are out.

Which pretty much leaves exes and, gulp, websites. Since my exes seem to boomerang around on an annual basis and if there is no requirement to eat my cooking or meet my mother, I guess I might be able to identify someone if I throw in a bottle of Oban. If not, I’m back on the dreaded online community which, if my dating is anything to go by, means I’m shit out of luck.

Ok, lets say that I actually leave my apartment and am able track down a willing participant. Here’s the next hurdle. How does one propose such an agreement? I am, after all, a pragmatic organized person with  very heavy Downton Abbey viewing schedule. Do you leave it to chance with a ‘call me for a good time?’ or do you actually schedule the thing ‘so…..ahem… Sunday afternoon say 3-6pm?’  That seems way too weird either way. I did try the direct approach once and the guy practically shrank 3 inches before I’d finished the sentence and I haven’t seen him since. How do people do this?

Maybe there’s a reason that most of the women I know don’t do this. Its too damn hard. Men don’t seem to respond to women who know what they want at the best of times. And I guess some chick coming at you with a proposition and a potential schedule might be considered terrifying at best.
So I’m throwing it out to the universe. I will be taking a lover…

(meanwhile I’ll be one snapping her fingers and waiting in apartment 1010).

Boomerangs: Those ones who never quite go away

It seems that many of us (well… me anyway), tend to have at least one guy/girl in our life who never quite goes away. You know the one.. the one you probably been erased at least once in a fit of pique, who never quite dates you, but never quite goes away. Like a boomerang – albeit one with a very long trajectory. And despite the history of complete unreliability, we accept their ‘in then out then in’ presence in our life.

 Why?
Generally.. you can configure the desirability of any guy is conversely related to how much attention he delivers. Always late, never calls, texts you only when he’s drunk or lonely, disappears for months at a time… ? Sadly, even at the age of 40ish, and with complete awareness, we fall for it again and again.  The date who calls us, texts us, arrive on time and generally behaves in a completely desirable and upstanding manner? Nah… no ‘chemistry’.

 We’re just hooked on the drama of being kept on our toes.

 ‘Maybe this time he’s changed’
 ‘I think he’s finally realized that I was one of the new women who treated him well’
 ‘My hair is longer/ I’m skinnier this time around’
 ‘.. this time I have a good feeling’
 ‘He’s in a good place’

Yep.. you’re pretty much doomed at this point. Its as though they can smellan indulgent heart and are happy to go along for the ride until you show signs of actually causing any impact on their time or other prospects. That or a new edition of Halo comes out.

I’ve kicked quite a few of these hangers-on to the curb over the years but generally it takes at least one smack to the head from my girlfriend or the complete humiliation of sitting around for a few hours in thigh highs waiting for him to show up. (I cringe, it’s true). But apart from the occasional humiliation, what’s the harm you might ask? Everyone needs a friend with benefits right?

I would totally agree… except these hangers-on aren’t really friends and the benefits are pretty unreliable. I’d be totally ok if there were some kind of unwritten rule which says ‘I’m contacting your for sex and only sex’ and then – ta-daaa – he’s on your doorstep with 2 bottle of Gatorade!! but it never quite works out like that. There are text messages, the occasional email.. and sex if it happens, its so random, its like finding out you’re part of a class action suite and getting a $5.36 check in the mail from AT&T. Great.. but unexpected. The complete lack of certainty makes it almost not worth the bother. Since the texting boomerang is typically nothing more than a booty call, I say please follow through or don’t hit send. Its only the only decent thing to do.

I’m an A type – I need reliability, rules, structures, parameters and these ones who ‘never quite go away’ are more inconsistent than AT&T in the Colorado mountains.

So here’s a message for the ones who never quite go away.

“Please fish or cut bait Mr.Boomerang. I’m deleting your number and I’m not replying to your texts. You can call me and we can schedule something (bring Gatorade), but no more hanging around on my iPhone please. Goodbye”

(…but I’m always up for a drink if your bored)

Questions we’re still asking at 40ish…Does he like me?

 Interestingly if you Google this phrase, the number of responses is about 70 trillion, mostly aimed at 13 year olds whose gummy smiles and braces are locked up wondering if the reason their lab partner set them on fire is because they ‘like’ them. Sadly, I’m apparently still that girl since I Googled this phrase this afternoon actually looking for an answer.

For those of us over 40 who still haven’t figured it out, there’s not really much guidance on answering this question when it comes to romance. The married friends just roll their eyes with faux sympathy and coo about ‘Oh I remember worrying about that’ as they still look for reassurance from the husband of 10 yrs. The singletons can analyze the crap out of text message, but do you really want guidance from someone who’s as clueless as yourself?  (after all, you are all single). Which leaves your own judgement (or a very very patient therapist). Wondering if he was really interested in your tattoo or just trying to touch you? Was he really concerned about walking me home, or just working up the courage to ask for another date? Do his repeated text messages mean anything other than ‘I’m bored and I know you’re sitting at your desk Googling ‘how to meet men”). Who’s to know. I guess if you have to ask, the answers probably no. But then the evidence is kind of blurry on all fronts.

The last guy I enjoyed a first date with apparently died (or so I like to think), since 3 months into dating he asked me my ring size, my wedding ceremony preference and then disappeared from this earth. He seemed interested right up to his apparent death (hopefully slow and painfully).

The guy before that charmer waited 262 days between date 1 and asking for date 2 (yes, you can wait too long) but when, after abject apologies and no small amount of begging, we went out.. yep..he disappeared again. Its been 2 years now so I’m guessing we’re about due for date 3.  Was he interested? He sure seemed interested during those 121 emails he sent before the date. But apparently not that much.

The same goes for a guy who lived in my neighborhood. Over the course of 3 or 4 years he engaged in flirtatious conversations, sent me late night drunken Facebook messages and even offered the odd invitation for drinks.. and yet it never quite happened. Because he only did those things when he was dating someone. Once he was single he disappeared. So apparently not that interested.

Am I missing something? Do I have ‘interim romantic interest’ tattooed on my forehead or am I just the least effective booty call in history? Because maybe its my advancing age, but these days I just can’t tell. I’m not repulsive and I do date.. but why do the guys I date, act so strange? Is it just me or are they all like that? I’m sure chicks are just as bad.. but lord, I didn’t expect to be Googling this question 25 years after I first asked it.

And the answer? Well Google talks a lot about eye dilation, sweating and raised pulse rates, but unless I can whip out my torch, a magnifying glass and a stethoscope every time I meet a guy.. I guess I’ll just have to keep guessing.

Dating ads – The London Times Review of Books


A new book has been released which highlights the sexual and romantic failings of the single Brit. Culled from the ‘personals’ section of the London Times Review of Books, the book contains a plethora of personal ads published over the years. They range from the pithy and succinct‘Sexually, I’m more of a Switzerland’ to the self loathing and bare faced ‘Everyone. My life is a mind-numbing cesspit of despair and self loathing. Just fuck off. Or else write back and we’ll make love’.

I love the contents of this book and it honesty in showcasing the lack of romance, subtlety or self promotion so inherent to the American courtship. Instead the British man (or woman), states exactly what they’re looking for, how they view themselves and sets expectations for what to expect… all in about 2 sentences. Fungal infections feature prominently. The overarching taste of the collection is one of slight disappointment and a need to look on the bright side. It also showcases the humor and playfulness of my countrymen.. even in the face of their terminal singledom.

“I put the phrase ‘five-header bi-sexual orgy’ in this ad to increase my Google hits. Really I’m looking for someone who likes hearty soups and jigsaws of kittens.”

“If you’re reading this hoping for a mini-biopic about battles with drugs, cancer and divorce, talk to the guy above. But if you want to know about historical battle sites in Scotland, talk to me. Alan, 45. Scottish historical battle expert and BDSM fetishist.”

“Part biopic, part utopian vision, all epic of redemption amidst the trials of mankind. This personal ad has everything. Woman, 38. Only one conviction for nuisance calling. “

And my personal favorite…

“I celebrated my fortieth birthday last week by cataloging my collection of bird feeders. Next year I’m hoping for sexual intercourse. And a cake. Join my invite mailing list at box no. 6831.”

So today I offer up my own London Times Review of Books personal ad.

“My relatively normal facade hides a plethora of twisted anxieties and proclivities, but don’t worry, I have drugs for most of them. 41 year old with quite the medicine cabinet seeks same for pharmaceutical discussions and sex.’

Step back now, and form a line

I am out of the office.. no really.. I am…

(Prompted by the New Yorker who did it better)

Automatic Reply: I am out of the office today due to appendicitis.

I will be unavailable by phone from 8-10 when I will be in surgery. During this time you may contact my coworker, Susan, who will respond to your questions. If you can not be bothered to call Susan, please feel free to leave me 7 emails and a voice-mail asking where I am and telling me to call you asap. I will  be ignoring these messages, however I understand that they make you feel better, so go right ahead and take that high road. Please note, if anyone picks up my phone during this time it is not me, so feel free to get pissy. Either my phone has been stolen or one of my nurses is calling her boyfriend in Israel, either way, your torrents of abuse will probably not reach me so go ahead.

I will be checking emails during my recovery from 10am-noon, however please do not expect me to review any spreadsheets during this time. I am bad enough with numbers without the addition of morphine. If you need spreadsheet assistance during this time, please click the Help button at the top of the Excel program and failing that, please call Randy M. While he is not part of the team, he has saved my ass on numerous occasions so you might get lucky.

If you require Powerpoint assistance during the 8-noon period, please contact your administrator. She is paid $50,000 a year and has a degree from Standford. She’s probably bored and could use the challenge. If you’re not ‘sure’ that Sandy can assist you, I will be respond to your request to ‘align 3 boxes’ as soon as I am able.

If you have seen something on our internal website that you do not like, that offends your embrace of the Lord Jesus Christ Amen, could be interpreted as discriminating against men, fat people, a software package or your feelings, please email feedback@Idontgiveacrap.com . We take your feedback very seriously and will consider using it to improve our communications if you’re not a right wing, religious nut job. Regretfully we can’t respond to all suggestions immediately since I am one person and currently flayed on an operating table, so please be patient. We’ll get back to you within 24 hours!

I will be available via phone from 12 noon onwards however I will only have limited access to my email. During this time please do not sent 100MG Powerpoints,  25 page project plans and video files of your cat to my phone. I will respond to your email as soon as I can sit upright and feel my hands.

Please do not come to the hospital with your printed out email for me to review. They will not accept visitors in the recovery room and frankly, your note about the benefits of the new PTO policy can wait.You may leave any hard copy edits on my desk with a pissy sticky note marked with a smiley face. Yes, I know you’re happiest when you catch me not working. 

If you sent an email between 8 and 12, please do not resend the email. I will work through all 341 emails I have received during this time, so adding one more will not speed things up, (unless you are my boss, my CEO, anyone with C in your title, a VP I happen to have a crush on or one of my many rocking female colleagues who keep me from stabbing myself in the eyeball on a daily basis.

I will return to the office tomorrow, crippled with pain, high as a kite and bleeding from the abdomen.
If your request is not urgent (hahahahahahahahaha), please contact me tomorrow..