I am not Cagney or Lacey

I grew up on Starsky and Hutch, Cagney & Lacey, James Bond.. folks tracking down bad Old woman with pistolguys, hurling themselves in the path of danger,  armed only with a 9mm and some witty one liners. I loved them all. Of course I never thought I’d have the opportunity to grab a gun and run toward danger… until the other morning.

Picture this, 5.02am, a 45 yr old British spinster, wearing pink flowery pyjamas, bare feet, armed only with a cellphone and an unloaded 9mm Beretta, running out her front door towards some robbers.

(I think my pjs really owned the moment)

Rolling the camera backwards, it started with some noise. I woke to the sounds of scraping, metal on metal. I heard a window smash and immediately thought ‘someone’s breaking in my house’. Without turning on my light, I grabbed my gun (unloaded of course), checked no boobs were loose and crept out of the bedroom. Grabbing my cellphone off the counter, I realized the noise was right outside my bedroom window and immediately panicked,

‘the fuckers are stealing my bikes from the basement’

(priorities)

I ran down my basement stairs shouting ‘FUUUUUUUUUCK’, brandishing the gun and hoping they’d just take off running.

Nothing. Just a few depressed spiders.

‘Shit.. they must be breaking into my car.’

I ran back up the stairs, and pre dialed 911.. no way were those fuckers stealing my car. Its one of the few things the bank doesn’t own, plus its got my yoga mat in it. Those things take ages to wear in.

Running outside, I verrrryyy quickly realized that no-one was stealing my aging 4Runner, instead 2 idiots had decided my house, in a old residential neighborhood, at 5am, was THE time and place to try and open a stolen cash register by hitting it with a crow bar and throwing it against the curb.

Oh shit. Time to style this out.

I crept down my stairs (please don’t see me, please don’t see me) and got the plate numbers (see… tv IS totally helpful). The taller guy saw me, shouted something, then jumped in the truck, while the guy trying to crow-bar open the thing.. threw both in the truck bed and then himself. They screeched off, leaving coins, bills and gift cards all over the floor.

The rather good looking policeman who showed up found a distinctly less courageous women in her pjs, gun in pocket, sitting on her doorstep in mild shock. Yep, you don’t see that on tv.

I later found out the guys had smashed into a local store and grabbed everything including the un-openable register. I guess by now they opened the thing, but with a license plate, the cop seemed to think they’d be caught.  I was just relieved no-one shot me. He was too.

See, you might have a gun and something to defend, but only tv and movie ‘good guys/gals’ get to do it without breaking a sweat or getting killed. When shit got real.. I’m still a 5’2″ middle aged chick who’s scared of shooting herself in the foot and really, really doesn’t want to try out a citizens arrest while not wearing a bra.

Next time..I’ll be under the covers with the dog.

Summer Lovin’

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

John Travolta was never so wrong.

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

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

To those happily partnered, let me explain.

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

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

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

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

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

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

And I’m suing John Travolta.

The summer bucket list of a 40-something

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

 

 

 

Teeth

This story starts with tea. English BreakfImage result for tea stained teethast to be specific but I’ll take Irish, Earl Grey and Darjeeling if that’s whats available. Because I drink a lot of tea.. and by a lot I mean boxes. My current record is 160 decaf cups and 80 caffeinated cups in one month.  Which  totals ~8 cups a day, a number that still seems sorta low based on the average work day. But still, it’s a lot of tea.

And tea stains your teeth badly. Ever wondered why British people over the age of 35 start to resemble smokers, and in late life Austin Powers… tea. That and no fluoride in the water.  But mainly its the tea. Years up years of tea.

Since I moved to the US and benefited from an aggressive dentist, diligent upkeep and the odd surgery or two, I’ve managed to keep the tea patina on my teeth to a minimum. But when applying a new lip gloss in full sunlight I noticed my pegs starting to look remarkable ‘tinted’. Time to follow my new US brethren to the land of bleach.

Americas love bleach. In their hair, in their water, on their butt holes… it’s a country and that likes things clean and sparkling white. So trays in hand I headed home to restore my mouth to a positively virginal state. No big deal.

Except no-one tells you that you have to wear these things for AGES. The package said 2-3 hours, but after 25 minutes my saliva had dried up to a crust and I desperately needed a drink. So I pulled off a tray and wiped away the gunk to see how it was doing…. nothing. No change whatsoever. Fucker.

Back in with the trays.

After an hour passed I got thirsty. Since my mouth was full of bleach and plastic, and the package mentioned ‘only white liquids or foods for 24 hours after bleaching’.. so milky tea then.

I make a cup of the worlds weakest tea, and then realized the tea would simply swish away the bleaching gunk. So a straw then?

What single woman over the age of 7 owns a straw?

After rifling through my cupboards I figured I had two options

  • Drip the tea onto my tongue using an eye dropper
  • Try licking up the tea like a cat.
  • Dribbling the tea down my throat using a tea-spoon by laying my head backwards and aiming between the trays.

Lets just say I found a way to get the tea into my mouth.

The burns will heal in a few more days and they do take your eyes off my slightly yellow teeth.

Coward Seeking Adventure

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pro: Bike takes $7 to fill up.

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

Pro: Bikes go faster than bears.

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

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

OPTION 3: India.. anywhere by train

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

Con: Ummmm??? Samosas?

Pro: Cheap. Like really cheap.

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

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

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

Pro: Sensible, mature, thoughtful

Con: I’m not sensible.

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

India doesn’t have bears right?

The family you choose

friendsI once had a brush with death.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

To my chosen family, much love.

RIP Gary Lee Bomar.

 

Its not all about the bike Lance…

Gloves

Its not all about the bike as Lance said (further proof of his ‘not quite human’ reputation).

As every cyclist knows, it’s about the bike, but it’s really all about the GEAR.

For me the obsession started young. Entering Davis’s Bike Shop, the local temple for the serious Sunday road junkie, I was awed by the ceiling of wheel-sets, the racks of steel greyhounds, and the unholy price tagged to each handlebar. I knew at a tender age that these four figured racehorses were out of my league (well, until my paper route started upping my 1 pound weekly salary), but those $6 gloves… THOSE I could afford. Sure they weren’t going to make me go any faster, but they did make me feel like Eddie Merckx, even if I was riding a second-hand racer with bald tires and non-existent brake pads.

And so my obsession was born.

It started small (at $1 a week, it had to). Gloves were followed by my first pair of tights (unpadded). A helmet entered my world in college, and padded shorts arrived with my first post college spurge. With the arrival of mountain biking in 1986, and my first Muddy Fox (RIP), I bought my first lock, gloves with padding and a bike bag. With a water bottle and cage, I was really cruising… until all of it was stolen on my first trip out. Thanks to insurance, I was able to quickly replace everything… until it was all stolen again 6 months later. And so began my entry into ‘insurance upping’ my bike kit.

Lets just say, I went to college on a Muddy Fox and left college on a Kona. With non standard pedals.

But my lust for accessories continued unabated. Mountain biking demanded it. Things broke. New things were invented. Friends had stuff you hadn’t even heard of…and then there were the boys.

Cycling meant riding with boys. Which inevitably led to the nightmare that is ‘dating a fellow cyclist’. Otherwise known as crack addicts with 2 wallets and zero judgement between them. Who better to encourage you onto a new ride, hell, 2 bikes, 3, do we have room for 4? My knowledge of wheel sets, rims, cranks and gears hit ‘professional’ by the time I hit 26. My ability to discourse on steel vs. aluminum, single speed vs. fixie bored even my local bike shop crew but my husband could listen for hours. We sneered along with Bike Snob, and spent our Sunday afternoons checking out the accessories section of every local bike shop we could find. We’re now divorced but I still miss him.. and his extensive knowledge of the one day classic winners (1980-). He also bought the BEST Christmas gifts, though my parents were less impressed with my new pedals than I was.

At the age of 43 I can finally afford to turn over those tags hanging from the handlebars of  ‘greyhound’ bikes. I can, if I’m willing to forgo protein for a few months, afford that new full suspension 26.5 to sit alongside my 29-er.

Instead you’ll usually find me hanging out in the gear section of my local bike shop with my fellow gear heads. We’re checking out the accessories to make our rides faster, our butts less offensive and our gear changing smoother. We’re grabbing the new bike tee and you always need more tubes right? We’re rejecting the big name stores who only stock 1 type of bike cage for the local shop that totally understands you need to choose from 15. Local bike shops we love you. You get it. Its all about the gear. Boulders University Bikes, Buena Vista’s Boneshaker Cycles, Aptos Bike Station.. you get it. And thank you for getting as excited about my new gloves as I am.

Sorry Lance. It’s not ALL about the bike. We know it’s all about the GEAR.  But while I’ve got you, do you know what a Surly Tugnut is for and why do I need it? Because I’m  definitely buying one.

Nothing compares to you: Recovery blues

sineadIts been 7 weeks and 14 hours.. since you took your love away. Cos nothing compares, nothing compares to you.

(I always was a bit of a drama queen.)

After a very necessary shoulder surgery to sew up 10 years of riding and yoga damage, plus my brief foray into Crossfit, I found myself grounded, literally, for 8-12 weeks. No riding.

No jumps, rock hops, preloads or pumps, and for the first 8 weeks, no bikes outside of a gym at all. I have never felt more neutered.

I’ve been riding bikes since I was 7 years old. A late start that I’ve been trying to catch up for the last 36 years.I’ve ridden bikes to escape my parents as a teen, to reach the local lake to race sailboats 4 times a week, to school down the hill of death and even on dates. As an adult, I’ve ridden bikes to explore, to meet new people, to feel free and to forget that Powerpoint even exists. To see stars as my lungs explode, to indulge my geeky desire to build the best, fastest, most responsive machine and yes, I’ll admit it, to build legs I’m proud to show off in lycra shorts any day of the week. I’ve raised money for charity during a 98 degree August day, worked through a divorce over hundreds of miles, and quietened my anxious mind during a joyous descent that almost took my kneecaps off. I’ve found friends on my bike, and more than one love. I’ve been lost on a bike, and over the last 10 years, I found myself on a bike.

Sure, I’ve run into dogs, suffered concussions, torn holes my shins and of course the aforementioned rotator cuff, labrum and bicep tendon tears. But its small payment for the hours of joy, the endorphin rush or just winning the mental battle up a particularly steep and sandy climb while chanting swear words in my head.

To say I’m bereft is an understatement. I’m typing next to trainer, a gym is only 30 feet from my front door and I can still do any activity that doesn’t involve my upper body. But I’m miserable.

My mountain bike sits next to my bed, I’m obsessed with the new bikes I can’t try out and the days are already getting shorter which means mid week, post work rides might disappear before I even get to do one this year.

The elliptical, the stationary bike, hiking or walking my dog on the long, beautiful sandy beaches of Northern California .. everything pals by comparison to the memory of terrifying downhills, breathless climbs and the camaraderie that surrounds riding.

Even if you’re riding by yourself.

So with one more week to go, I excitedly signed up for a non technical, fire road climb with my favorite female riders.. not caring if I’m too out of shape to make it up without stopping, or they have to wait for me at the top.

Because nothing compares to some dirt, sweat and grit in your face.

Suck it Sinead. I’m off to ride my bike.

California – 3 months in

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

Next up.. a plague of locusts

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

Read on.

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

Ha.

It’s not stopped since I arrived.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Day 1 – Apartment floods

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

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

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

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

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

I love California.

See… clearly crack in the water.

See ya sucka. Goodbye to February

crocusI’m not going to lie. I hate February. Its right up there with celery, support tights in a size too small (the mid thigh gusset bridge, amiright ladies?) and ATM card rejection.

February is the month when hope goes to die. Its cold. The snow which we welcomed with glee in November is now just an aggravation that stands between you and clean floors, and did I mention its still cold? Valentines day is a vague remembrance of a hangover, and the only ‘holiday’ to look forward to is … Easter? A non holiday that isn’t exactly associated with fun, frivolity and parties unless you’re 6 and get excited about eggs.

February is the point of the year when you realize your Christmas excesses are going to take a little longer to pay off. Those holiday appetizers are still bulging over your skinny jeans and you’re going to be needing those SSRIs for at least another month or two. 3 or 4 months of indoor living has turned you into a flaky dry pale moonface and you think you can actually see the blood moving through those skim milk white legs of yours. You can’t get motivated to do anything but the pervasive sense of restless boredom seems to fill every weekend.

(NOTE: Skiers and winter sports enthusiasts .. suck it. You like fluorescent clothing way too much and your relentless desire to be cold and covered in snow is beyond comprehension. Clearly you were dropped on the head as a child)

The movies are crap, the weather is crap, the holidays are ridiculous non events (unless you’re selling mattresses or candy) and face it.. if you slept for the entire month.. what would you miss? The SAG awards?

I’m seriously thinking of going for one of those ‘sleep therapy’ cures in Switzerland next year. Wire me up to some vitamins and put me in a coma for February. Wake me up for March. No-one will miss me except my pharmacist.

But -hark- around the corner, I hear the cries of angels, a trumpeted chorus of crocus and daffodils twining with chirps from happy wrens. Why.. its March!

March. It just sounds fat, solid and purposeful. Its a motivated and  ‘take charge’ kind of month. It says ‘screw you’ to that pussy that is February, and kicks that withered skeleton to the curb. March takes a seat and blasts out the dog hair from under the sofa, highlights your dusty windows and fills you with the urge to restock your 409 supplies.

March says ‘shape up fuckers’ and its not taking no for an answer. So it might snow one day and hit 65 the next, March doesn’t care. Its says ‘stop whining’ and kicks your butt out the door. Suddenly ‘outside’ becomes a destination instead of a torture and whats this? Green things? Wow… outside is actually enjoyable, not something to be dodged as you run between house and car. The sky even looks friendlier.. instead of something you scan every hour looking for signs of the next polar vortex.

Sure, heat, BBQs, a tan or even just a warm evening is still 4 or 5 months away but March tells us to stop being a wuss and get something done. Me, I’m already writing my list and getting my bike tuned. Hell, I might even break out some Lycra this weekend.

Fuck you February. March is arriving tomorrow and he’s taking no prisoners.

Hell, I might even go on a date to celebrate.

A life measured out in dog walks

Dog-Walking‘Afternoons will be measured out
Measured out, measured with
Coffeespoons and T.S. Eliot’

Everyone over the age of 35 remembers Crash Test Dummies ‘Afternoons and Coffee Spoons’. And even though the lead singer’s voice makes me feel ever so slightly nauseous and terribly anxious (he sounds like he’s singing at 16 rpm instead of 45), the song is one which sticks in your head. Not only because its catchy and jaunty, but because the underlying message is conversely, so terribly depressing. I always, without fail, picture myself as an old lady in a nursing home cupping endless cups of tea whenever I hear it, and immediately want to craft a DNR directive.

This weekend I found myself unaccountability singing it to myself while walking the dog and replacing the words ‘coffee spoons’ with ‘dog walks’. It didn’t add it its allure, but it mentally helped me change the mental image from one of decay to one of movement and transition.

You see, as a single dog owner, living and working in a 700 sq ft apartment, some days it does feel like my life is measured out in dog walks Yes I work, I play, I watch way too many movies, read, eat and sleep.. but every day is measured out by the three walks my dog gets.

Every morning, every day around 5pm (its my official ‘got to leave the house or I’m officially a hermit’ time) and then again around 8pm. Every single day. For 5 years (so far).

Sure on the weekend’s we’ll hike, we’ll hit the dog park or go camping in the summer, but every day, without fail, on with the leash and out the door.  (him, not me.. I’m safe off leash)

Such is the life of someone without a back or front yard.

Given that every walk is a minimum of a mile, usually 2, this equates to a minimum of 5,460 miles walked since I adopted my dude. That’s only 20 miles short of walking from Denver to Moscow, Russia.

Yes, I do have calves of steel.. why do you ask?

And since each walk takes anywhere from 30 min to and hour or two,  (lets say an average of an hour), this means since 2008, I’ve spent about a solid 7 months just walking the dog.

That’s a lot of time.

I’m not complaining. I love walking my dog. I meet a lot of people.. in fact, I’ve met almost every neighbor within a 4 block radius of my apartment (I know all of their dogs name.. people names, not so much). I’ve walked a path around Wash Park so many times that I notice the really small changes that time and weather brings. The splitting of trees due to a heavy snowfall, the formation of hummus when fall leaves finally get a dose of rain, the first snowdrops and daffodils, and of course, the first true summer day when the sprinklers hit surprised runners (which never fails to make me laugh).

During my dog walks I’ve watched the 5 week nesting of a bald eagle, encountered foxes in the storm drains who hiss at my dogs’s curiosity, seen a coyote jog down the middle of the street, bunnies run down back alleys and encountered more Canadian geese than Canada really needs.

I’ve speed walked away from eery men who made the hairs on my neck stand up, slowed down to watch my dog pointing a squirrel, jogged through every temperature and never, ever skipped a day (polar vortex, what polar vortex? flu? whats that?).

During my walks I usually listen to podcasts. Laughing, learning or just tuning out the noises I don’t want to hear. My yoga instructor thinks I’m perpetually joyful because she often encounters me walking my dog with an inane grin in my face (sorry love, its probably Frank Skinner, not inner peace), and I laugh out loud with some regularity.

(Who knows, there’s probably some other dog walker out there writing about the crazy laughing lady they see every day)

Some days I put in my earphones and don’t turn anything on. Preferring to confer a ‘Do Not Disturb’ sign on my walk, without the actual noise of music or talk. During these walks, I might ponder the latest work conundrum, how to make my ever increasing salary fit my every increasing set of needs, or just look at the mountains in the distance and breath in and out.

I chat on the phone to friends, reorder prescriptions, check my email and have even shopping Amazon while walking the dog. I’ve taken conference calls (taking notes while leaning on a tree), mailed packages, grocery shopped and even gone on dates while walking my dog.

Usually though.. its far more relaxing. Just one foot in front of the other. Over and over. Until I’m too tired, too cold, out of time or in need of the bathroom. The dog.. he’d go forever.  He doesn’t care. As long as he’s out sniffing curbs, grass, trees and dog butts, he could care less if I’m curing cancer or breaking up with a boyfriend on the other end of the leash. Whether it takes 30 minutes or 3 hours, he’s perfectly happy to trot along/ lunge for cats/stalk squirrels/ give random dogs the stink eye all while pee gallons upon gallons on every stick, tree and mound of snow he passes. I swear, that dog is 99% pee.  1% stink.

Some people consider it unthinkable to be so tied to an animal, to that commitment of walk after walk, day after day. Those people don’t own dogs, have big yards or just don’t consider dogs to need more than a roof and some food. I am not those people.

Like my dog, I need socialization, exercise and to check out the world every day.. How else to be ‘in the world’ than being outside, in the world. We’re similar, my dog and I. Though I tend to save my peeing for more appropriate places.

And now, the time has come to face the final curtain…

goodbyeIts been a year since I started this blog and what started as a way to get back into writing, turned into a quick life changer. It’s gotten me dumped, its introduced me to other writers (in whose shadow I now quake), and its taught me a lot about what my ‘writing voice’ actually is. Which – in rereading – shows me a self that I didn’t think was there (I thought I was funnier, more unique and more eloquent that I actually am).   I’m not going to be next Helen Fielding or even Sophia Kinsella (which was my goal)… but I will keep on writing. Just not along the same vein that I was. After all, there are limits to the ‘dating horror stories’ and ’embarrassing moments’ that any one person can experience before you start to bore yourself.

So for anyone who’s still reading (and I know there are a few… just a few), here’s what I learned along the way.

1.You can’t write about dating indefinitely

Well you can, but damn, that’s a lot of effort. I quickly realized that if I was going to write about funny dating stories, I wasn’t going to actually ever meet someone I liked, and if I was borrowing stories from friends.. then they weren’t either. Funny generally comes from bad dates… and lord, I am over bad dates. I have had my lifetime. 7 years people.. 7 years. Plus at some point dating has to get somewhere.. and in real life, mine always seem to end up with me wishing I was watching Ink Master or washing my hair instead of sitting with some gormless stranger who can’t string a conversation together. I have dated – a LOT – but writing about dating, especially bad dating, while funny, just shows that I remain as naive and trusting as I was at 22, and that I still can’t spot a dud until I’m 20 minutes into a conversation. I’m starting to think I’m jinxed.

Plus.. after 7 years of dating, I’ve not been on a date in a few months and I sort of like it.

2. If your date finds your blog, he’s history

As one guy said to me when I shared my blog (he also blogged and I made the mistake of thinking it gave us something in common)

“so basically you’re going to go out with me and then write about all the things that are wrong with me. Awesome.

Funnily enough I’ve not heard from him, or several others since.

3. Writing about sex is fun, but no-one is going to read it at work and every blog hosting platform pretty much shuts you down.

I tried a few sex posts early on and was forced to delete them when I was notified by WordPress that my blog was now considered ‘adult content’ and therefore could not feature advertisers, would not be promoted and would be crawled by search engines as though it were a porn site. I guess if you want to write about sex, you really have to want to write about sex. Plus, I was embarrassing the shit out of my sister and having a hard time looking my friends in the eye.

4. I write for me, but … also for other people to read

I wrote a blog a few years back for 1 reader. Literally – 1. I kept at it for 2 years but I had 1 reader (other than me). Who read every post but never commented, forwarded or shared my blog. When I started this blog – with a clear idea of ‘1 year, 5 days a week’ I loved that I quickly bounced from 1 to 5, to 10 and eventually 200 readers a day. One post I wrote had over 1,200 views. It was heady. But as I have exhausted my funny dating stories, my embarrassing admissions and thoughts on life…so I’ve struggled to find an audience. As I’m limping over the finish line of the year, its clear that while I can string sentences together, I’m not sure what stories I want to tell. I just know they can’t be bad dates…

5. I love writing.

After a year and over 250 posts, I know that I still love to write.

I enjoy walking my dog and having an idea hit me, parsing out the theme, the storyline and how to ‘complete the circle’. Nothing beats having to fire up my PC and jam it out, then finding that your Sunday morning has disappeared into 1000 words or so.

I love typing a line which tickles me.

I get excited when I know I’ve written something good and its going to post in the morning.

I’ve found more truth coming out my fingers than what has ever come out of my mouth.

My opinions of things have changed mid way through a piece, leaving me 180 degrees from where I started. In trying to find the line, I realize I don’t believe what I’m typing and have to rewrite. As a result, my opinions of a number of things have solidified far, far away from what I actually thought I believed.

In a single year I’ve experienced more than I ever expected or even remembered. But a scan of my blog posts quickly reminds me; I lost my house, I found a bunch of new friends, I became an American, rode a motorcycle hundreds of miles, got a full sleeve tattoo, shot hundreds of rounds at the gun range, had a number of horrible, awful and sometimes astonishing dates, started Crossfit, cut off 4 years worth of hair, learned that I really didn’t give a shit about a lot of stuff I thought mattered, didn’t get promoted (again), nursed several crushes, threw back a number of boomerang men, spent more time on Match.com than I’ll ever want to admit, learned what girlfriends really are all about (and love them for it), fell off my bike a few times, grew a spine and shared my medical ailments with the world.

So now, I’m going to take a break from this blog. Enjoy the life I’ve created, not worry about whether I have anything to say every day of the week and maybe come back with some juice, some humor and a few more stories.

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.

My dog – human savior, therapist and all around dumbass

francis reindeerMy dog is not smart. I’ve said it before and will continue to reiterate it.. he’s not smart. Sure, with all that greyed hair and wise eyes he looks like he might be pondering life’s questions, but I know for a fact he’s just trying to figure out if there’s new cat poop under that bush. Mmmmmm cat poop is tasty.

This is a dog who has walked into lampposts on several occasions and finds a blank wall fascinating. Horse manure can send him into a rapture that renders him deaf and blind until he’s wearing most of it and he’s eaten at least 6 smartwool socks in the last 3 years. But only the heels mind. He’s not dumb.

But I don’t have kids so I treat my dog as many parents treat their kids. Which is to say… overindulgence features heavily. During our 5 years together I’ve fed him insanely expensive food, taken him to 1:1 training in and around the metro area, paid for a year of acupuncture (yes really), and walked, hiked and ran him approximately eleventy billion miles. He snacks on lamb and dehydrated steak. This dog visits a dog day care center with a swimming pool every week. His toughest challenge is jumping out the back of my SUV when we get to the dog park (he gets lifted in, of course).  He’s not exactly living a tough life. Am I helicopter parent? Maaaaybe. But hey, its a two way street.

In return I have a faithful companion, someone who offers me comfort after a bad day, and who lies by my side when I sleep.. protecting me from squirrels, cats and all manner of other imaginary foes. No-one has ever been more excited to see me after a day out of the house.  I’m going to skip over the howling that accompanies the UPS truck that he seamlessly times to coincide with a 1:1 call with the CEO. Overall, he’s a great buddy to have around; you can get quite used to power-washing his vomit from the back of the truck after every car ride.

However, after 5+ years together I’ve decided that while he might not be smart, he can get with the program and start earning his keep. He’s done his time, and he needs to go get a job. He’s never going to move out of my house, but I’m sick of him lying around all day snoring, farting and waiting for the next hourly episode of ‘walks in the Wash Park neighborhood’ or ‘throw this, will you?’ while I’m trying to downward dog or facilitate a conference call. My helicopter parenting days are o.ver.

But like many helicopter parents, I know that my dog can’t find his own job. He needs help. Hey, I might even need to help him through the process. It can’t be worse than today’s parents who show up at job interviews right?

So after perusing the options available to him – professional ring bearer, orthodontia model, gusset checker (yep, he likes to eat pantie gussets and sock heels) – I’ve settled on therapy dog. After all, the people in the hospital don’t need to know that those eyes aren’t saying ‘I love you’ (they’re asking ‘where’s the cat poop?’) and he does have a way with that under-bite that seems to make people smile. Plus that dog loves.. loves.. loves to be loved. I know his limitations and lets just go with his strengths. Sitting and being loved.

After some research and talking to people who are already active in the therapy dog world I discovered that a) they’re not as insane as the dog show people and b) even my dumb dog can do it. Apparently all that’s required is the ability to walk around a hospital and be petted. Jeez.. I want that job. This dude lives for ear scratches, belly rubs and even a nonsensical review of match.com profiles so I think I’m hooking him up with a sweet career. He doesn’t even need to wear an uncomfortable suit or hide his tattoos. And since I got him from the Colorado Prison Canine Program he’s already familiar with that whole institutional smell. God knows, no wheelchair or IV stand can freak him out after 3 months in a prison cell with a full face tattoo’d meth dealer. (She’s lovely and she trained him very well. She gets out in 2017).

Of course working will dip into his aggressive sleep schedule. Today he’s been asleep since 8am and its currently 2:17pm (he woke up to fart around noon and conked out again).. so actually staying awake to “work” might be our biggest challenge.. however I’m sure he can nap while being petted. As long as he doesn’t break out the gas – we don’t want to set a ward on fire. But like any helicopter parent, I guess I’ll have to accompany him to his job – you know, make sure that he’s being treated right, that people are respecting him as much as they should and to bask in the reflected glory of having a cute (but retarded) mutt.

When I heard today that we’d be heading off to orientation next month I excitedly described his new role in life over a belly rub and an episode of Ink Master.

‘Dude.. you’re doing to be bringing comfort and joy to others. You’re going to get so.much.love’

‘You can so totally do this. I know you can. You’re going to be great’

‘They’re going to luuurrrve you’

He sighed, decidedly unexcited by the prospect… and then breathed into my face.

Dead meat and dog shit breath.

So while there isn’t any dress code for this job and he’s not going to need finesse his resume, that dog is going to get his teeth cleaned this week before he starts “work”. I’m not having him sent home for breath like dead neanderthal man. After all, I want him to help and comfort people, not accelerate their demise.

All I need to do is clean his teeth, give him a bath, make sure he doesn’t vomit in the car on the way there, walk into any immobile objects and doesn’t take a dislike to any men in hats with beards.

He’ll be great. Just you wait.

Lies I’ve been told: The Beauty Edition

pink-bad-haircutContinuing on the theme of lying, this week I found myself besieged by people wanting to add to my list of lies.. with the people responsible for making you pretty – hairdressers, dentists, manicurists and ‘beauticians’ named as the most skillful of liars.

Not surprising. If your mortgage was dependent on convincing some poor schmo that a product, service or treatment could turn them from Honey Boo Boo’s mom to Jennifer Aniston.. well I guess even I’d start fibbing a bit. Plus women, bombarded by images of airbrushed perfection via every newstand, gossip site or tv show, well we’re eager for anything which will make us look a little less blotchy, more youthful and less, well, poochy. You never know.. maybe this thing – cream, facial, makeup or procedure – just might make our next Facebook photo something we won’t rush to untag. So here are the some of the lies we listen to and nod along with.. all in the name of hope and ‘beauty’.

Waxing.. it gets easier and less painful overtime

Bullshit. I’ve been waxing my lip since I was 22 and it still brings tears to my eyes with every strip, leaving me red and puffy for the rest of the day. I used to get bikini waxes, but after my third Brazilian, when I wailed like a newborn and brought the shop owner running, it was suggested that maybe, just maybe, Brazilians weren’t for me.  As for that hogwash about your hair growing in thinner when you wax regularly – forget that lie. Lets just say Phil Spector’s fro has nothing on what’s between my thighs these days. I think waxing prompted some kind of challenge mentality down there and its winning.

We can dye your hair from black to blond

Yes. Yes you can. Should you? No. No no no no no. Anything that takes over 4 hours in  a hairdressing salon isn’t to be recommended as ‘a good thing’. And no-one, not even your bimbo-est LA vanity case needs to spend 4 hours with bleach on her scalp. I seriously think my IQ was permanently damaged from that experience and my hair… well….lets just say the experience unsurprisingly led to the next lie I’ve been told….

“You can totally ‘get away with’ short hair”

Just because you’re bored doing blond highlights and 1/4 inch trims day after day, does not give you – my hairdresser – license to lie to me. Because while I am instantly morphing my self image into Andrey Hepburn, my hairdressing is just thrilled at the opportunity to try out a new style they saw at some trade show in Cleveland. Whether this microfringe/mullet combination will actually suit me (and make me appealing to the opposite sex) isn’t a consideration when your hairdresser starts lying. No, I cannot get away with short hair – unless ‘get away with’ actually means ‘resemble Dorothy Hamill’.

Long lasting lipstick/eyeliner/mascara

This one is usually one of two lies. The first is where long lasting actually translates to ‘it will remain on your face until you the leave the bathroom’ .. at which point the makeup will instantly move from where you originally put it to a brand new location of its own choosing. My eyeliner has never even made it out of the house on my actual eyes.. never mind to a date or evening out. It migrates under my eyes as soon as I breath out, rendering me an exact double for Uncle Fester and that face powder I applied so liberally? I’m shining like a freshly waxed shoe before I’ve even made it downstairs. The only times I’ve ever actually found an actual ‘long lasting’ make up product it apparently needs to be lasered off because no soap and water, cream or even pure alcohol seems to work. That ‘waterproof mascara’ I applied in 2005? Well its still there. I’m just waiting for my lashes to slowly fall out… it seems to be the only way I’m getting rid of it.

They’ll stretch out really fast/ shrink in the wash

Oh boy, have I fallen for this lie. See that chick walking tentatively, as wobbly as a newborn foal? Yes, that’s me.. waiting for my patent boots to ‘stretch out’ as promised. I’ve had those suckers for 8 years, worn them with ski socks, stuffed them with wet newspaper and taken them to at least 3 cobblers and nada. Still function as my own personal foot binding machine.  Meanwhile, those cashmere leggings I paid an arm and a leg for (mimosas + shopping = bad decisions galore) and which the assistant assured me ‘would shrink to nothing’ in the wash.. well to this day, I’ve boiled those suckers at 140 degrees and the crotch is still sitting somewhere mid thigh. I’m in danger of losing them entirely every time I stand up and the only way I can wear them is safety pinned to an extremely large pair of granny panties. Which, I assure you, makes for a very interesting conversation if you ever get lucky. Which you won’t..  because saggy, baggy, beigy wool leggings aren’t attractive to anyone, no matter how ‘awesome’ the sales assistant said they were.

Which leads us to the biggest lie of all…

That dress/skirt/jeans/cashmere leggings totally work

Yes, they probably do… just only in the dressing room. As you’re standing in front of the mirror marveling at your skinny legs and tiny waist, check your arms in the mirror. Amazing isn’t it – how skinny and long they look. And wow.. are you sporting new hollows where your cheeks used to be? And damn.. have you noticed how long your neck suddenly looks? Yes.. we all look amazing in the changing room (Neimans, Saks, Nordstroms we’re on to you). Just wait until you get home to your non tilted mirror and plain old lighting before you take those tags off.  I’ve gained about 15lbs between the mall and my home some days… but until you leave the store..hey, you’re totally making those skinny jeans work girlfriend!

Wondering if where you’re going to wear that gingham shirtdress,  if faux leather jeans are really you or whether that turtleneck  makes you look a little squat.. don’t worry. You’re totally making that look work. That 60’s large print mini-dress – just too cute. Platform boots – amaze-balls! And PVC jerkin? Cray-cray how good it looks.

Ladies, if your sales assistant is using words you don’t understand, if you know your mother would approve of it -or your hairdresser-step away from the rack. You’re not rocking it. You’re rocking her commission. Now go buy some sensible black pants like the rest of us.

Dating ‘dad’

dadAs every single woman over the age of 30 knows, at some point you’re going to be faced with potentially dating a ‘dad’.

NOTE: ‘A’ dad, not ‘Your dad’. If you’re dating your dad, you have bigger issues and excuse me, I need to go throw up now.

In your 20s’ everyone you date is single and childless (unless you live in Mississippi or Kentucky). In your 30s, there are a few divorcees scattered around but few if any have kids.  These days, in my 40s’, every other guy has kids.. and wow its definitely a different experience.

You see, if you’ve never had kids, you’ve never had all those unique experiences that parents have had. You’ve never spent a sleepless night walking a screaming baby around the house, you’ve never changed a diaper and you sure as hell don’t prioritize anyone over yourself (except maybe your dog). Which means dating a dad, when you’ve never been a mom.. well… it taking a bit of getting used to.

Because dad’s are all about loving their kids. Putting them first (or a very close second), having a life that revolves around their needs. Dad’s don’t expect to have all of their time to themselves, to get to choose how they spend all their free time, and they certainly don’t own their finances any more (have you seen how much college costs these days?).  And while I think parenting is awesome (and god bless you patient weirdos), I can’t relate in any way to your experience. Which sort of makes first dates with a dad, well..a bit strained.

But dad’s make up 90% of the dating population over 40, so unless you’re really really adamant, you’re going to end up dating a dad one day. Here’s some dad’s to watch out for;

1. ‘My kids are my life’ Dad

Oh we’ve all read this guy’s profile. Usually the first or second line in his profile, having kids was the best thing he ever did.. like ever. And no matter if they’re 2 or 22, they’re still the best thing in his life… in fact, they probably are his life. I’ve dated a few of these guys and every single one, while warm, communicative and caring, also had no life outside of his kids. Hobbies? No time for that. Friends? Does the parents of my kids friends count? Interests? What my kids are up to… oh and Xbox.. which I play with my kids.

This guy is awesome, selfless and devoted. To his kids. Which doesn’t leave much room for you. So unless you want to absorb yourself into his kid centric, kid saturated world.. you might want to pass.

2. Absent Dad

This dad has kids, but you’d never know. He never mentions them, he’s eager to assure you that he barely sees them and he’s got a very full life of which they have no part. On the face of it a better option that Dad #1, but what kind of asshole isn’t involved in their kids lives at all? You know that dating him is going to be no different than dating someone without kids, but selfless, caring, responsible? Not this guy. Kids were something he had, and other people now raise and care about. He sends the checks (or doesn’t) so he figures his parenting is taking care of.  Yikes. Run, run far away from this Dad. Or be prepared for footing some serious therapy bills for his kids down the line.

3. Bitter Dad

This guy has kids and boy, you’re going to hear all about it. How much money he has to pay in alimony, how his ex wife is ruining his life, how he takes more responsibility for them and how she’s undermining him in their relationship. Bitter dad might love his kids but that’s not foremost on his mind. She is. He’s still nursing wounds from his divorce, realizing how much work it is to look after them during ‘his time’ and boy, is he pissed about it. During a date with one bitter dad I felt like calling his ex wife and offering her my support. How she’d stayed married to that jackass for 7 years, I don’t know. This guy, kids or not, needs some time and a lot of therapy. And unless you’re a saint (or therapist in training), you might want to skip him.

4.Sex mad dad

They stayed together to try and make it work- because of the kids. His ex deprived him of marital relations for the last 1, 2 or 5 years of their marriage and now, well now he’d making up for lost time. He can’t believe that chicks who wouldn’t have touched him in his 20s, are now waiting for his call.  So he calls. And he dates. Everyone.  Plus with 5-10 years experience with the ex, he’s got some skills this time around so he’s in demand. He can’t believe his luck. And neither will you. That is, until someone younger, cuter and less demanding than you comes along.

5. ‘Looking for Mom 2.0’ Dad

This guy seems to have it figured out. He loves his kids (but they don’t run his life). He’s attentive and involved, and he and his ex have a great relationship. He cooks, he takes care of things.. in fact, he’s perfect. So what if he asks you to pick up little Stacey from her ballet class, or wonders if you’d mind coming with him to watch Tyler play soccer? You don’t mind.. after all, he has kids. But when you find yourself helping out with homework while he watches Homeland, or you’re running the kids to the dentist, ask yourself if you’re ready to be a Mom. Because it sure looks like you’re one in training.  Dating is about you and him, and eventually the kids. But you’re not dating them and unless there’s a ring involved, you’re not duty bound to be Mom 2.0. They have people for that – they’re called nannies and they get paid.

6. Judgmental Dad

This guy is fine with your decision not to have kids. Fine. I mean, a life lived purely for the pursuit of the self is ok for some. Just not him. He prefers to live responsibly, you know.. like all ‘normal’ people do. Its what everyone does… right? And if you prefer to hang out in bars, spend all your money and time on making yourself feel good, that’s your decision. It wouldn’t be his.. but you know, but everyone’s different. Judgmental Dad doesn’t ‘get’ women who aren’t Moms and clearly they should stay away from us. Us being so ‘abnormal’ and all. But like moths to a flame they can’t help themselves. After all, its a lot less complicated when there is only one set of kids involved in the dating process. Its only when they’re confronted by our selfish, hedonistic existence in the flesh that they find themselves compelled to judge. They can’t help it. I don’t know if these guys resent us, think we’re not really women or envy us, but damn, they sure don’t like us.  My last judgmental dad date assured me that while I was ‘doomed to die alone’, he was, at least ‘going to die surrounded by love’. Well Sir, here’s hoping you don’t piss off the kids over the next 40 years because I don’t think having kids guarantees you any kind of ending.

And finally, we have ‘Unicorn Dad’.

Unicorn dad (an urban myth I’m sure) is the guy who loves and supports his kids, respects his ex, lives a life outside of parenting and doesn’t expect anything from you as far as raising his kids go.  He’s not bitter and he doesn’t care whether you’ve had kids or the reasons why. I’ve heard such men exist.. but if attractive, are rarely single. So if you find one, let me know.. or at least take a picture.

Meanwhile I’ll be out dating the selfish lush with the vasectomy.

Changes: A year on

YearThe weather is in transition here in Colorado which always makes me reflective, slightly melancholy and always nostalgic for the changes wrought over time. I remember September as the time for new school shoes, kicking leaves in the street and the sense that changes were just around the corner.

This week I can’t help but reflect on the changes since last year. No, I haven’t got married or divorced, gained or lost children and, sad to say, that damn promotion at work still eludes me.. but in almost ever sphere of life.. its quite a different life from September 2012.

I lost my house…

I’d been participating in the property game for the last 15 years; slowly moving up from owning a 770 sq ft apartment to a duplex, a bungalow or three and finally a Victorian heap.. aka my ‘Money Pit’. After a year of Home Depot visits, a plumber on speed dial and much explaining to my bank manager, I capitulated and the house declared victory. At times it felt like I was flying a plane that was plummeting to the ground and while I kept trying to ‘pull up’ ‘pull up’ and level out.. well lets just say the plane dove straight into the ground. The roof, the swamp cooler, the shingles, the foundation and even the damn dishwasher ran me out of my house, my savings and even my 401K. I lost every last red cent I’d ever earned or saved. I crawled away from my plane crash of home ownership with moths in my wallet and retired from home ownership. Indefinitely.

I sold everything but my bed and my sofa to fit into my 770 sq ft rental apartment. I see the looks of judgement from some of my friends (‘why does she live here? why doesn’t she own some place?), but I figure that there’s a lesson I learned and its one I treasure. You are not your stuff. As David Byrne once, so wisely, said ‘you are not your beautiful house’.  I have very little stuff these days..but I know my value and it is not defined by my lack of dining room table.

The man who wanted to marry me changed his mind….

We discussed wedding bands, vows and timing. He wrote letters full of hearts and passion, undying love and promises for our  future. We met each other’s parents and talked on Skype for hours at a time. I realized what people meant by unquestionable love and couldn’t contain my adoration. Yes, we were sickening in our romance but even my mother couldn’t help smile at our happiness. I’d finally met the man I was meant to meet.

And then, the same day I lost my house, he changed his mind. About all of it.

I’ve not heard or seen him since.

A year later I’m still single and closing out a year without a boyfriend. I’ve had dates and ‘entertained’ some gentlemen callers, (hey I’m not a nun) but my desire to meet someone special?.. well its about 19th on my list these days. Right up there with home ownership.

I was completely alone…

I moved house, was dumped and cried into a phone. My best friend holding me up for hours over our spotty AT&T connection. I wondered why I always found myself so alone. What was wrong with me? Well apparently nothing.. except my ability to reach out and say ‘yes’. 12 months on and I’m surrounded by people to whom I said yes. These days I don’t worry about tomorrow or how or why or other people’s opinions.. If it sounds fun, I just say ‘yes’. Living in an apartment introduced me to a whole slew of people of all ages, who largely aren’t spending their weekends driving little Bethenny to ballet or repainting their deck. I said yes to getting to know them and now we gather in the evenings to compare dates, laugh about ridiculous shit and drink wine in the sunset. I said ‘yes’ to Crossfit (after first saying ‘hell no’), ‘yes’ to First Friday, ‘yes’ to a motorcycle and ‘yes’ to things I really probably shouldn’t have. Being more engaged in life means these days I have to choose to be alone.. in fact my life is richer, more diverse and more social than its ever been in my life. When I get sympathy for ‘being alone’ or ‘single’ at 40ish.. I find it pretty funny. When I was married, I was very alone. Single?… definitely not.

I felt like a loser

I’ve always cared way too much about what other people think. When my life started falling apart, I worried constantly about what I loser I must appear to everyone. I’d told everyone who would listen about my impending engagement, I’d proudly posted photos of every house renovation and I’d tried to keep up a good show, even as the money ran out, the plane accelerated towards the ground and everyone (including me) started screaming. When everything crashed, I knew that some would judge, some would wonder and most would pity. Which is what I dreaded more than anything.

Poor loser chick..

can’t find a man..

doesn’t even own her own home…

So I dug my grave and lay down in it…ready for people to start throwing dirt.

But it never happened.

My friends were there to listen, to support and to encourage. Not one (ok, there was one..but only one), was there to judge. Once I realized that my friends, the people I cared about, really couldn’t give a stuff about my fancy house, my $4000 sofa or even the guy who ran away (‘nutjob’).. I let it go. Sure it still smarts to bring someone home and see the confusion on their face when they see that I not only live in an apartment, but one I rent that doesn’t even have A/C or dishwasher.. but then I find they don’t last long anyway. If someone cares about appearances, they clearly haven’t seen my tattoos or experienced my potty mouth.

I was going to be a writer

I hadn’t written anything beyond corporate emails for years and years but my fall back mantra was ‘one day, I’ll be a writer’. And yes, a year ago I was still ‘going to be a writer’ yet taking no action towards ever even crafting a title. These days I am a writer. Its not literature and no Orange prize is coming my way anytime this century.. but I write. Every day. And thats what I love to do. That’s all I ever wanted. Getting my thoughts down on paper is free therapy, making someone laugh on occasion, a delight. If I never write a book or a poem or a play I’m ok with that. As long as I don’t ever lose the ability to tell a funny story, recount an experience or make someone flash with recognition, well I’ll always be a writer…

So as you can see its been quite a year. September 2012-September 2013 was my year of changes.  It’s also been a year of adventures, challenging what I believed and really reevaluating who I am. I’m still figuring that last one out, but I can’t wait to see what changes the next 12 months bring.