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.

 

 

 

All I want for Christmas is…

xmas-presentI think we can all agree that 2016 was an all around shit show. Before we head – gratefully towards the shining, virginal visage of 2017, I wanted to lay out some of my requests for next year. Long gone are the days when I wished for ‘Operation’ or a ‘Slushy Machine’ (though I’d love a the Margarita version these days) and honestly I need another over-scented lotion like a hole in the head. But 2016 has left me and most of the world looking like a cast member of the Walking Dead.. so fuck it…I need some good cheer. Here’s my modest gift list;

  • A hug from a dude: Lets just say its been one hell of the drought in my house. And while my doctors are down to check out my cervix or my boobs… not one is up for a hug. Don’t ask how I know… but I know.  Hand holding wasn’t popular either.
  • A small win on the Powerball lottery: Hey I’m not holding out for millions, but maybe $10,000… even $5,000 would go a loooong way to helping me out. Just sayin’.. moving every year gets hella expensive and these antidepressants don’t buy themselves.
  • Underwear which covers my butt: I’ve not been myself this year and the resulting 10lbs I’m carrying in the Kim Kardashian area is really challenging my jeans, but has declared victory on my underwear. Every pair is now a G-string by 5pm. The challenge is how to contain these new lumps without ending up in a lycra body stocking. I’ve tried all the cuts, all the fabrics and a multitude of sizes. The result is a stack of ‘if I’m desperate’ torture pants, and I’m now skilled at spotting a safe zone for gusset yanking in less than 10 seconds. It cannot continue. I’m afraid of getting ticketed for exhibitionism.
  • 5 new recipes that are healthy, GF, don’t involve lettuce or truffles, and taste better the day after. Since the dog don’t cook, I am the sole chef in Chez Crazy and boy am I boring. I think I could grocery shop blind at this point. Cooking for one is like celebrating your birthday alone. It could be fun… but it’s generally not. You just want to to be over. So please can I get some new recipes that are simple, fail safe and survive the required 2-3 days leftovers that every single person deals with?? Every “recipe for one” involves a solitary egg, soup or pasta… no wonder us single folks drink so much.
  • Wool socks: I was born cold and my feet haven’t quite warmed up yet. Oh god.. I’m asking for socks???… I think I just saw myself at 80. Next up, a heating pad and a tartan blanket. I really need to start getting out more. But seriously, if you know where I live… wool socks please.
  • And finally, World Peace, a centrist Cabinet, Trumps incarceration, equal rights for LBQT folks, free abortions, a draining of the judicial  swamp of racist white men, Brexit reversal and Michelle Obama for 2020. I mean… you can always ask right?.

Dear Mr. Leaf-blower

I know you wanted to be a Jedi Sir, but I’m here to tell you the truth. Your hourly walk up Image result for man leaf blowerand down the sidewalk by my house, armed with what amounts to an outside vacuum cleaner is no more protecting us from Stormtroopers than it is actually cleaning up leaves.

I understand the need to quell the rebellion Sir, but blowing leaves from the sidewalk onto the street, only to have a puff of wind skitter them back on the sidewalk is the very definition of idiocy. I applaud your tenacity Sir, I really do. Most people would give up on the leaf-blower at some point in order to go… well… have a life, but not you Sir. Not you.

Its been about 5 weeks now and as if by decree,  every day around 8am you begin leaf-blowing. I know you’ve run out of sidewalk at times Sir: I saw you heading up the street a few blocks, chasing those damn leaves to another street where they might choose to relocate. But then on your return, you see there are now new invaders to the street. Who.Must.Be.Denied.Vacancy. That seemed to really reinvigorate your search and fight against invading Storm-um – leaves. So I guess I’ll leave you to it. You will not be deterred I can see.

Until snow comes. Tee- Hee.

Oh shit.. I bet you’ve got a snow-blower.

Relaxing into spinsterhood

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I think I’ll just date the mailman.

I don’t get hugs

Since I came to the US some 19 years ago, I’ve found hugging quite alarming. 

After all every Brit knows that when two people meet, the accepted form of greeting is the handshake. 

‘How do you do?’

‘I’m well. How do you do?’

‘I’m well. Thanks for asking’

You can sense the raised pinkies and stiffness. The natural inclination to keep a distance both physically and emotionally. 

Contrast this with your average American. Unless you’re a cab driver, a waitress or a banker, the hug seems the de facto way of meeting and leaving people.

‘Whazzup?’ Followed by manly backslapping cross hug for the guys 

 ‘Heyyyyyy’ ‘or squeal’ followed by a brief hug and cheek air kiss.

See the difference? Americans are so….physical. They greet with their bodies. Brits greet with their hand. Outstretched. Away from themselves. In fact we’ll do just a head nod if we can get away with it.

Early immigrant me rejected the very notion of a hug as a greeting; bowing to shake hands with small children, proffering my firm grip to employers and even offering my fingers to 1st dates. 

I passed into my mid 40s, I decided to commit to my American ness and start hugging with abandon.

And that’s where the trouble starts.If you’ve never been taught something – at my age- you’re expected to know how to do it. And I hug like a 2 yr old. 

So that’s my explanation to my boss as to why I tried to hug his arm and then threw my arms around his neck like a child at Christmas and body slammed him. 

Confused doesn’t cover his expression.

So it’s Masonic handshakes from here on out. Preferably while wearing gloves. Much much safer. 

Back to here

It’s been almost 2 years since I decided to pack up my snow boots and head out to CAlifornia to chase a golden opportunity and potentially find a new home. 

It sure was exciting. 

  • Google cars sitting on the freeway alongside Teslas and Ferraris. 
  • Meeting CEO of this and president of that.
  • Walking on the beach on Christmas Day as seals and dolphins surf the waves.

Less publicized was the daily 2 hour fight to get to work. The $3000 rent and the 70 hr work week. 

Needless to say, after 20 months I knew a heck of a lot more about wine, but missed my friends, the yellow aspens of fall and knowing where the hell to find a decent camping spot in June. 

It was time to come home. 

Lazy weekends in St.Helena are memories I shall never forget (and hope to add to) but living in a place where meth heads battle it out under my window.. Those nights I’d rather forget.

I leave with wild memories of Santa Cruz descents, the Boss live and giving it some, and my lovely neighbors- now friends for life-  who swam with me through the foggy spring/summer and fed me more wine, cheese and salami than a Brit thought possible.  

To them I raise an Aperol spritz and say ‘salut’

To my Denver peeps I simply say ‘what’d I miss?’

Lady Rage

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

Oh how wrong I was.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lady rage.. coming to a woman near you.

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

Ch-ch-ch-changes

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

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

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

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

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

And in non work life;

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

And the best thing of all?

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Back to basics

Emerging into the sunlight after a two day team building/ solving world peace session, the one takeaway I had wasn’t quite what I expected. We didn’t solve the worlds problems but I did get to put names and faces together (weird after a year, cos they all had English accents in my head) and have a good old natter. I left not with solutions.. but with this.

005A painting by an artist whose name I don’t know but whose art I just love.

This picture just reminds me how simple and light life can be.

Either that or she’s saying ‘you’re a bit immature’ but lets not go there. The artist has never met me after all.

But seeing this painting reminded me of the need to be who you are. Of the joy of childhood.  You were once this girl.. and maybe, if you’re lucky, you get to be this girl again.

(Or maybe I’m totally misreading art and this is all about the nightmares of the soul or something).

Thoughts Everyone Has While Driving

Because my brain isn’t working right.. ‘Abby Has Issues’ driving.

Abby Has Issues

Most adults have some experience with driving a motorized vehicle, and whether you’re a road rager or a calm commuter, you’ve probably had a few of the same thoughts while navigating the roads.

I don’t care if my mirrors are perfectly adjusted, I’m still going to turn around and look while I back out of the driveway.

Sigh…more like, “Warning: Objects in the mirror may appear older and more haggard than you would like them to appear.”

Where is the street that I have to drive down? Maybe turning down the radio will help.

What?! I just got gas five days ago!

Crap. What side of the car is the gas tank on?

(Singing to radio) I should be a singer.

(Dancing while signing to the radio) I should also be a dancer.

OH MY GOD I HAVE TO SNEEZE THIS IS THE SCARIEST THING EVER!

The number of red…

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Men and Women: Some-insane-planet-we-don’t-understand and Venus

cans of tunaI’ve always been a solid believer that men and women are homosapians with different wobbly bits and preferences for what constitutes a great Monday evening, but largely.. we’re the same.

As a kid, many of my friends were of the male persuasion and I found them more like me than most of the budding girlie tweens I was surrounded by. They certainly shared my disinterest in makeup, kissing and hair flicking.

Our time was more productively spent – building shit and then knocking it down. Dams, bonfires, cairns, forts (blanket and tree based), me and the fellas were practicing our future ‘masters of the universe’ skills while the girls giggled in corners and practiced putting on mascara.

Hmmm. And we wonder about the source of power imbalance between men and women? I guess when woman get rewarded for make up application and accessorizing, then we’ll rule the world. But I digress.

Over time I recognized that neither men or women were ‘better’ and that while we had different approaches to many things (professional sports, shoes, salary negotiation), we remained essentially of the same species.

We all want love. We all need to be engaged in something where we contribute and feel successful. We need connection, even if that means a text message to one person or an 6 hour chat to another, and we all feel a degree of stewardship for something – whether its our kids, our houses, the planet or just plain being nice to each other.

But lately I’m noticing that while men and women aren’t really that different, where we really diverge is on the small things. The tiny little everyday acts that go relatively unnoticed. These are the thing we don’t think about, but which lately has me questioning whether we really are the same species. Or maybe we’re all just a little wackadoo.

Evidence #1: My relationship to canned tuna.

I never used to like tuna. It smelled like cat food and to be honest, didn’t look much different. Yewch. But right around 3 years ago when I realized that pasta + can of tuna + pesto = yummy 10 minute dinner, my attitude did a 180. Add in spinach and -wha-hey- you’ve practically made a gourmet meal. Where had tuna been all my life?

So I stocked up on tuna. Way up.

I think I ate that meal for around 6 weeks in a row by which time the checkout assistants  at my local Whole Foods were starting to raise their eyebrows at my singular shopping cart.

  • 12 cans on tuna
  • 3 bags GF pasta
  • 1 jar pesto
  •  3 bags frozen spinach

Not quite crazy cat lady, but I was easy to spot amongst the piled high carts of my yuppy mummy counterparts. Why 12 cans? Well… that way I knew I would always have a meal ready to go.. you know.. when I couldn’t be bothered to think. And apparently that summer I couldn’t be bothered to think AT ALL.

Sometime around fall, my palate woke up and said ‘No-more-fucking-tuna-goddammit’ and I moved onto a new obsession with broccoli and chicken sausage. Thank god.

Unfortunately I couldn’t stop the ‘got-to-have-a-few-cans-of-tuna-in-the-cupboard’ urge every time I hit the store, with the result that when I downsized from my house to a 770 sq foot apartment,  I took enough tuna with me to feed a small Asian nation (and completely fill my kitchen).

These days I’m ‘safe’ if I have about 6 cans.. but its taken a lot of mindfulness to ‘let it go'(and my therapist just bought a Lexus).

Other women I talk to have similar experiences.. whether its toothpaste or TP, clean underwear or mascara, we all seem to have our ‘blanky’ items that we just need to have ‘enough’ of in order to feel ‘ok’.

Men on the other hand. Men seem to lack this gene entirely. Evidence?

1. Toilet paper

No self respecting women, single or mother to 24 kids, buys her TP in anything less than a 12 pack. Most of us suck it up and lump around the grocery store with the 24 wedge (why can’t they put a shoulder strap on that fucker?) figuring its one less thing we need to buy this fiscal quarter. Men on the other hand.. men consider it good if there’s a box of tissues in the house. Stand in the paper aisle looking for the 2 pack before reluctantly picking up the 4 roll minimum.

I’ve witnessed guys teasing out the final 2 sheets to last a few days, who, when asked about lack of TP in the guest bathropom, will actively relocate a roll from another bathroom (after all, why have TP in every bathroom?). Guys seem to have no urgency or concern about having zero TP in the house, and yet..they too still have some of the same needs? (I’ve heard). I don’t know about you, but spying only 2 rolls in the house makes me nervous, but a guy, he’s set until June.

2. Laundry

A guy will look at his wardrobe, empty hangers connected by spider webs and a single pair of pants he hasn’t fit into since 1989 and turn to his second closet for his outfit – the laundry hamper. In fact he’ll do this until it rains or snows (he draws the line at wet jeans, c’mon he’s not a heathen). No clean underwear? Turn it inside out. Still no clean underwear? Go commando. Never mind that the laundry mountain has taken over an entire quarter of a room..he’s good as long as he takes a shower. After all.. as long as he’s clean.. his clothes? Optional.

Now ladies. Have you ever met a woman who turns her underwear inside out to ‘double dip’? How about picking a top out of the laundry not once, but 3 or 4 times? not so much?

See guys, when we say ‘we have nothing to wear’ we don’t actually mean ‘there are no clothes which have not already lain on the floor for a week or two, and may or may not be cultivating a new species of staph’. We just mean we’ve only got 12 pairs of black boots to choose from and non.of.them.are.right.

3. Dishes

I grew up in a house without a dishwasher so that role was filled by my father. In fact, it was his sole household chore for the 18 years I lived at home. So my belief that women and men had similar opinions about things such as dishes was clearly built on a skewed perspective of one household.

I now know better.

Women. We hate dishes. Loathe them. Hate loading and unloading them. But we do it. Hell, we even pre soak or pre rinse. Because – you know – god forbid that we’d have to wash them twice or *gasp* by hand. And if you’re feeding yourself, or other people, nothing sucks more than having to quickly scrub dishes or forks to make it work.

Men on the other hand…. Dishes are an optional activity, only stimulated by the usage of every plate, fork, bowl and knife in the kitchen AND the curbing of take out due to ‘end of the month syndrome’. Generally men can coordinate these two acts so they never occur at the same time, rendering the need to clean dishes more of a quarterly activity. I’ve known men who will buy more dishes rather than wash the dishes they have. And by wash, I do mean ‘put in the dishwasher and press and button’.

Even if they get that far, unloading? That’s for OCD people. The dishwasher is just a different form of storage for most guys I know. I remember visiting one guys house where the dishes were lined up for washing, and when I asked why he didn’t put them in the dishwasher was told ‘oh, there are some clean forks in there’.

I’m grinding my teeth even thinking about it and I haven’t seen him or his dishes in years.

4. Tidy vs. Clean

Women… even the slobbiest of us, keep a pretty clean house. And even the dirtiest of us… those who only clean the bath when they know they’ve having visitors (who me?).. we’re still pretty tidy. Some of us hardworking, saintly selves manage both (who are you and what is your secret?).. after all, there’s only so much crap you can endure before you lose your mind (and your car keys).

Men? Well I will not deny that there are men out there who are both tidy and clean. Their houses sparkle with Windex, no dust speck mars their LCD tv and you could eat off their floors should you so wish. I dream of these men and I’ve even met some. I realized no woman wouldn’t ever match up to this guys standards as I was blinded by my reflection in their toaster (after all, when would do all the other important stuff like reading gossip online?). But most of the men I know…

Lets just say, they’re one or the other. Rarely both. And largely neither.

I thank the lord for those who can afford cleaners, for those who know that a tumbleweed in the living room isn’t going to get him laid, and who hire, cajole or force themselves to moderate the chaos. But largely, if you’re a dude, married or single, I know you’re putting stuff in piles, swiffering the dust underneath the sofa and washing your shavings out of the basin with your hand and calling it good.

How men and women ever live together I will never know. I can only assume he comes with 12 cans of tuna or something.

Its awesome.. except when I’m not

woman-walking-aloneOne of my favorite bloggers recently wrote a post that stuck with me, and helped articulate my current conflicted feelings about the guy I’ve started dating.

After a long, long… loooong time of being alone, of hapless first dates, desperate drunken fumbles and one shocking dump-age, I find myself in a good place, with a good man, having an amazing time. He makes me laugh, he’s smart, cute and is willing to endure my sizable list of anxieties (this may change.. give it time) and I like him. He bizarrely seems to feel the same way. That never happens.

I like him in a ‘wow I actually can stand to be around you for hours at a time and still enjoy you’ type way. (Rare since I generally love people, but only in 1-2 hour stints) and after a first date of 8 hours, a second date of 9 hours and a third date of well.. a weekend.. I’m feeling like the 8 year old girl at school who just found their new bestest friend.

But as we move from ‘oh its amazing that I met someone who I like’, who doesn’t need to be lifted by a crane from his house, or need an intervention, whose ego isn’t swallowing him whole and whose lack of selfishness is – frankly- astonishing… well of course. Its time for my anxiety to swell to whole new levels and the deconstruction of his personality, his quirks, his ‘shit’… to start.

I wish I was a Buddist. I fervently wish I could ‘be here now’ and I really do try to just ‘be in the moment’ but my brain can’t help itself. Ifs its not spinning at 600rpm, its not comfortable. So while I’m basking in the satiation of a joyful weekend with my *gulp* boyfriend, my sentient brain is looking for the cracks. The flaws. The elements that make this guy human.. but which I just know, will drive me insane in about 6 months and cause me to run for the hills.

And while he’s busy being himself, eagerly sharing his great day, or ideas for a future weekend, I suddenly find my throat closing up and all of the air sucking out of the room. I can’t breathe. I need space. Its too much and my head might explode any second…to whit.. I have to get off the phone asap with a rapidly invented ‘class’ that amazingly starts in 10 minutes.

As soon as I hit ‘End’ on the phone the air rushes back in. My pulse rate returns to normal and this huge weight of expectation leaves my shoulders.

I know.. I know… its ridiculous. I’m a chick. We’re meant to love planners, and men who want to spend time with us. We want guys who talk on the phone and can’t wait to see us.

But I’m not that chick.

I’ve dated and married men with cool detachment. Men who call, but don’t have much to say. Who literally ask ‘how was your day?’ and then get off the phone in 10 minutes.  Who like silence. Who would no more tell me about their day than talk to me in the bathroom. Who understand the need for space.. in fact, need even more than I do.

Faced with someone who wants to close that space, engage with me daily, chat on the phone for hours and make plans 3 days out.

Well I’m sweating even thinking about it.

I know its my problem. He’s just acting like a guy who likes a chick. He has a life, I have a life. He’s not asking to move in (oh boy that guy was a piece of work) and he’s certainly not monopolizing my time (ditto).. but I can’t help but freak out every time he knocks on one of my carefully constructed mental walls, even if its just to check I’m ok and ask if I need another cup of tea.

It literally makes me want to run screaming.

(now you get why I’m in therapy). Intimacy… its kind of a bit of a problem for me.

I know this will pass. Over time I know I will be able to relax. Enjoy the attention and the connection – after all, its what I’ve been looking since I lost it back in my 30’s.

So for now, I’m trying to take it one day at a time. Speak with kindness. Try not to project my abject fear onto him and remember that its not ‘him’ and that yes, whatever we’ve got going on.. well ..it is kinda awesome.

Me? Well I’m not quite ‘awesome’ with it yet.

But I know its ok not to be and that as with all things.. this too will pass.

The sense of claustrophobia will ease, my desire to reinforce the carefully constructed walls around my life will fade, and who knows.. maybe one day, I’ll make like East Germany and knock those fuckers down.

I’ll always be someone who likes silence. Who needs space.. even if its to do nothing. Who recharges without words and who lives in their head. But after many years of trying to change, I know that to be with someone doesn’t mean that I have to lose these things. At 42, I’m not going to change… but I can flex.

I just need to open my mouth and start the conversation about how its awesome… but sometimes, I’m not.

Bed hogs unite

dog cat sleepAs a single woman for most of the last 7 years I’ve gotten used to sleeping alone.

I’ve moved from my married self, clinging to my single bed edge and weakly grasping at duvet corners and lying as still as a corpse to fully embracing all 60 inches, star-fishing my way through the night, piling pillows into a souffle of goosedown and wrapping my 800 tog duvet around me like a pig in a blanket (sausage roll to my British readers). I am proud to say I  am now a fully fledged, out and proud, bed hog.

Which is the perfect time to meet a man who sleeps over.

The men in question has been vetted, tested and appears mentally stable. He is clean, smells delicious, makes me laugh and unlike the last 7 years of sleepovers, I was 100% sober.

Which is probably when I realized how much I don’t enjoy sleepovers.

Sure, I love love love all that goes before a sleepover (and after), but the actual sleeping bit? I have a hard enough time on my own. That required Klonapin, blackout curtains, earplugs, a retainer and something that covers my shoulders. Oh, and a temperature no warmer that 62 degrees.

Hey, I’m low maintenance in every other respect. This… this is my ‘thing’.

So now, I suddenly have to factor in another human being. One who I’m not legally able to drug or restrain without his knowledge,  One who, while not immense in size, does require at least 20 of my 60 inches of pristine and virginal new mattress. (can you smell the bitterness than man sweat has now permeated my beautiful, much adored Serta?)

I guess I could have asked him to sleep standing up, but I am, above all, British and therefore polite to a fault. I’ll wait a few more weeks.

Until then, I’m just pondering potential solutions to the multitude of complexities that are now part of my sleep hygiene.

1. Space.

Despite my best intentions and my relatively small size, in the coma of sleep, those 60 inches are all mine and I need every single one of them. His limbs be damned. I tried slowly nudging him through progressive ‘hug and roll’ (thankyou ‘Friends’) maneuvers towards the edge, which gained me about 60% of the width, but just as I thought I could plant my flag and actually get the full 80% (well the man does have body), the fucker rolled over on his back and I was back to a meager 50%. Plus an arm and a foot. Would it be unethical to saran wrap a sleeping partner? Just asking.

2. Touching

I am a British American, but the British part has the foothold when it come to physical contact. 26 years of hand shakes and shoulder punching will do that to a girl. It took my about oooo 10 years to spontaneously hug a friend.. and even then it required a funeral, my dearest and oldest ‘Merican girlfriend and the crushing loss of her mother who I adored.

I don’t do touching very casually.

And after 7 years single, I now notice every single time skin makes contact on my skin. Whether its a placating hand on a forearm, a guiding hand on the back or – *gasp* someone holding my hand, its as novel and exciting as landing on Mars. The hairs on the back of my neck will rise, my skin feels electrified and my awareness of physical proximity goes into overdrive.

Which is a bit strange if you’re my boss and you’re just saying hello.

Factor in attraction (my date NOT my boss), and you’d think I’d be an erswhile kitten of joy at all the touching. I thought so to. But apparently it takes a while to get used to it and in the meantime, I am walking around with a permanent ‘fight or flight’ arousal response and skin that feels as sensitive as a new born. I’m mainlining Xanax just to act normal.

Now factor in 7 hours of nakedness, attraction, a defined boundary of space and, well, there’s touching.

(sorry Mum)

Which I fine with until the sleeping part happens.

At which point I kinda, sorta wish he’d turn to stone. Just lie in his designated area, not move, not make a sound and you know, not touch me. Heat generation is fine. Movement is not. Wrapping arms around me? A sue-able offense.

How can I sleep when someone in breathing on my neck? When there might be a stray Angelina-esque leg cutting off my circulation RIGHT AT THIS SECOND? What if I wake up, my leg is blue and I’m forced to amputate? Spooning is acceptable if I’m the one doing it.. after all, its an effective tactical strategy for shuffling him over to ‘his’ side and away from me. But the other way around? Oh hell no sir. I invented that move.

Ok, you can touch my foot with your foot. That I can do. But anything else.. beware. I do own duct tape and I am not afraid to use it.

3. Noise

I am super noise sensitive. Always have been. Growing up in a tiny village on the edge of open space, the only sound of night was the click of milk bottles being put on the doorstep and golden, peaceful, nothing. Total silence.

Except for the awesome, never-ending, ear drum busting snort and snore of my father. Closely followed by the sounds of my mother walking out of the bedroom and taking up residence on the living room sofa.

My father would win the Olympics of snoring.

I discovered earplugs out of necessity (as did everyone in our house) and -despite feeling like a 108 yr old neurotic when using them – they’ve gotten me through 18 years of a very loud snoring father, 4 years of traveling to random hotels (I was a consultant, not a hooker), houses situated on train tracks, rooms next to elevators, midnight talkers and even a car crash outside my house.

I always vowed that I’d never be with a man who snored. My mothers morning black circles and nights on the sofa warned me of the down side of the man who can scare dogs and small children while asleep. ‘I’ll be with someone who sleeps like I do.. silently’. In fact, if I have to check his breath with a mirror to confirm lividity, all the better.

And I’ve been lucky. I have. My ex husband used to shout words in the middle of the night in the midst of a dream, but since they generally made me laugh (‘horses’ ’33’ ‘who?’) and the other 6.5 hours he mimic’d the dead, I felt it was worth the trade off.

With this guy.. I’m having flashbacks to my youth.

The nights spend trying to construct a full head wrap from pillow, blankets and duvet. The scientific testing of ear plug varietals in search of the one .. the one that actually blocked him out. The questioning whether we could build him a separate house, just for sleeping, say…. 15 miles away?

Clearly the deficit of sleeping with a man who sounds like a deaf, 300lb pig, is outweighed by his otherwise wonderfulness, as my parents remain married after 43 years.

I am telling this to myself repeatedly as I contemplate another sleepover this weekend.

I’ve also bought 4 varieties of ear plugs and a new blanket for the sofa.. you know.. just in case.

The resolutions I should make… aaaand the resolutions I will keep

I hate new year resolutions. They remind me of standing in the kitchen scarfing down cake following by posting notes reading ‘No more CAKE’  on the fridge door the following morning. Pledging to change your spending habits, then packing the AMEX card ‘just in case’ as you head off to the mall. Pouring that half bottle of Chablis down the drain the morning after 1 glass too many, only to crack another later the same day.

 Resolutions are well meaning, maybe last a few days but ultimately, they’re doomed to fail.
Ask yourself.. what was your resolution for 2011 or 2012? And if you’re reading this while sucking down Coke, drinking a glass of wine or snacking on chips.. well I’m guessing it didn’t involve diet.
That’s not to say that you’re stuck with the current version of you. Everyone and anyone can make a life change (I moved to the US as a result of a new year resolution). But rarely does it occur as the result of drunken vows made at 1am, as you wrestle your skinny jeans off and face plant on the bed into a coma.

Here are some of the usual resolutions you might make….and the ones you will actually keep this year.

Resolution: “I will lose 10lbs by eating at least 4 cups of vegetables every day, drinking 8 glasses of water and only eating 1 square of high end dark chocolate for dessert”.
Reality: You will end the year 2 pounds lighter or heavier than you are now. You will remember to eat vegetables when ordering Chinese take out or when someone invites you to something formal so that you can get into your fancy dress. Your water consumption will mainly consist of coffee, diet coke and wine.  You will eat any candy available within your reach, especially after a glass of wine, including but not limited to baking chocolate, left over Halloween candy corn and Tootsie rolls from the office candy jar that have been there since last year. You will buy and consume approximately 72 cupcakes during the year, 17 of which you will only eat the icing.

Resolution: “I will curb my alcohol intake to 2 or 3 glasses of red wine per week”
Reality: You will require a glass of wine around 6pm every day. You will drink red, white, rose and even Riesling if that’s whats available. When your bottle is empty, you will be tempted to mix yourself a cocktail, which you will invariably sip and then throw away. You will be sad but too pissed to walk to the liquor store for refueling on more than one occasion.  You will drink your $135 ‘special’ bottle on a Wednesday evening after being dumped/ fired/ flipped off while driving.

Resolution: ” I will read 1 classic novel every quarter and will join a book club”
Reality: You will cancel your People subscription which will then  be renewed in February at a higher price. You will buy several classic books which will remain untouched on your shelves and ultimately will be given away to Goodwill. You will spend summer reading back editions of trashy chick lit. You will buy a book about improving your finances which you will ditch on chapter 2.
You will join a book club but get so stressed out about not having anything interesting to say about the selection other than ‘I liked it’, that you will not attend any meetings.

Resolution: “I will pair down my wardrobe and only invest in classic pieces”
Reality: You will buy a navy blazer in the January sales which will remain in your wardrobe with its price tag intact until your mother in law comes to visit, at which opportunity, you will gift it to her.  You will hit the stores in a haphazard fashion when feeling blue, fat or if date looms, at which point you will convince yourself that $200 leopard print pleather jeans is a good look. You will return approximately 55% of everything you buy and spend most days looking at your closet wondering why you have nothing to wear. You will end the year wearing the same dress you wore in 2012.

Resolution: “I will exercise 3-4 times a week”
Reality: You will sign up for a gym membership, which you will visit approximately 3 times during 2013. You will purchase new workout gear which you will wear while watching tv, shopping at Whole Foods or never. You will buy 2 DVDs to work out at home, which you will be using for a coaster by mid June. You will watch and purchase 1 piece of new workout equipment which you will then use to dry your bras on.

Resolution: “I will stop looking for a man”
Reality: You will re-up your membership to Match.com around mid May after 16 consecutive Saturday nights spent in front of Netflix. You will spend your evenings Googling ex partners and trying to remember why you dumped them. You will spend every social occasion checking out men’s fingers for rings and will go on approximately 14 first dates, non of which excite you and all of which feature divorced dudes with no spine. You will have ill advised phone sex with a work colleague and will potentially consider a future career in adult phone lines. You will end the year still single and vowing to stop looking for a man.

Resolution: “I will laugh more”
Reality: Keep reading this blog and this one might be achievable. 

Kicking off.. and already late

Up until college I wrote a journal every day. Starting at the tender age of 8 I dutifully recorded my days, ‘washed hair, played with Sooty (the unfortunately racist named cat), the highlights ‘got a typewriter for Christmas, really wanted Operation’, and the low moments ‘I want to run away but I only have 27p. I don’t think its enough. Probably need at least a pound’). If I had imagined what I’d be writing about at 40, it probably would have involved fame. Or fortune. Definitely infamy. Certainly love. I probably would be too busy dashing around town in my floor length black cloak  (I always was dramatic) being too important to actually write. Maybe there would be ‘learning moments’ and I’d definitely have done a lot and would be a riveting person.I would be an author, a forensic scientist, a mother and that’s before I even included my Grand Slam tennis championships. For someone with very little confidence and little clear talent in any direction, I sure didn’t let it intrude on my fantasies.
Of course if my parents were any type of guide, grunting when you sat down and looking forward to ‘a nice cup of tea’ might feature somewhere at 40.. but probably not for many many years.

My 18 year old self didn’t think that 40 would have involved being single and childless. Or living in a rented apartment.Or making really bad decisions over and over again. Getting tattoos at 38. Learning to ride a motorcycle. Buying a gun. Being rich and then poor. Dating more men than she’s ever admit to her mother and sleeping with an embarrassing number of them. Moving to another country and deciding to stay. And sadly, thinking that skinny jeans would look better on me in 2012 than they did in 1982.

So maybe this is the year, age 40 1/2, to be bold, restart that journal and maybe figure out how I ended up here and where I might be going. I’m hopeful the answer is out there.