Starting young

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

Totally depressing.

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

I was 12.

I couldn’t even spell puberty.

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

I was 12.  I didn’t even like boys.

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

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

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

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

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

I’m expecting it to pass any day now…

Raging

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

Sounds idyllic?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jobs that Monster thinks I’m suitable for

01 monsterEvery summer, just as I’m starting to return to Planet Earth after ‘the-craziest-hours-ever-no-seriously-I-mean-it’, I tend to look up from my laptop, notice that the trees now have leaves and reconsider my worth in the marketplace.

No, not whether I’m a BOGO or what I could get for standing on the corner of Colfax and 17th at 9pm on a Wednesday.. but what’s out there is the job market, and is there anything to tempt me away from my life of 11 hours in from of a PC, but the freedom to fart at any point without worrying about coworkers.

Now I’ve not had to purchase a single ‘work outfit’ in 4 years (my dog couldn’t even care less if I wore clothes at all) and I do love what I do, so there really is no pressing need to move on, but I still retain the smidgen of ego and ambition I was born with, and I’ve had the occasional Wednesday afternoon wondering what it would be like to actually see a coworker more than once every year.

Which brings me to my summer activity ‘job reviewing’.

I’m not hungry, so there’s no ‘hunt’ involved, but on occasion I do wonder if my title is destined to remain the same for the next 20 years and whether I will still be aligning fonts at the age of 62.. so I set up some RSS feeds, logged on and updated my LinkedIn profile (because that works..not), and reposted my resume to see what bites. It’s actually how I wound up in the job I have now.. and apparently I have the optimism of a millenial with a trust fund in the hope that ‘Perfect Job v2.0’ is also going to land in my inbox.

This year has been an exercise is reevaluating this approach.. and thanking my lucky stars that I’m not actually ‘on the hunt’. Here’s a sampling of Monster’s suggestions for my skill set. Just for some background, I was a management consultant for 17 years and a communications leader for 4 yrs at Fortune 100 companies.. but to Google.. I’m potentially any of the following;

1. Agile Coach

When I first read this, I immediately felt flattered. Maybe my 6 year commitment to yoga and my personal willingness to do anything for my CEO (from helping him grow tomatoes to writing his speeches) had shone through on my resume. I do love guiding and helping people, and while I don’t have much direct experience ‘coaching’ per se.. I was optimistic that somehow, the new field of leadership development was being opened up to me.

Then I read the job description and realized it actually means someone who does a certain type of project management around software development. Yawn. Not so much Agile as ‘willing to be glued to your PC for 12 hours and talk in 3 three acronyms for the next 15 years while surrounded by men in Dockers and bad fitting golf shirts’.  Actually, pretty anti-agile. Mind numbingly static really. Next.

3. Histotechnologist/ PRN

I admit, I actually didn’t know what this was, though my first thought was ‘something to do with history?’ Post Google, I learned it ‘centers on the detection of tissue abnormalities and the treatment for the diseases causing the abnormalities. Essentially the perfect job for someone who compulsively worries about their health and overall ‘normalcy’. Oh talk about taking your job home with you.. I’d be self diagnosed with MS, Huntingdons, and Parkinsons’s before the end of the my first day.

But what does a Histo..whatsit..actually do? “As a histotechnologist, you will prepare very thin slices of human, animal or plant tissue for microscopic examination”   How my past 20+ years of writing Powerpoint, talking to clients and trying to put people at ease with change would prepare me for slicing up brains and tumors I’m not sure. But since the certification is only a year, I added it to my growing list of ‘back up plans’. After all, I chop myself an onion pretty fine.. maybe I’d be good at slicing up grey matter? As long as no one is asking me to saute it afterwards, it wouldn’t be so bad?

4. Division Director – Child Support services

Anyone who knows me, knows that I treat children like you would a moving cactus. With extreme caution, thick gloves and sturdy sneakers.. you know, for running away. How Monster thought I could be in charge of ‘child support’  for a whole division I don’t know. Unless that division is ‘middle ages dudes who have the mental age of 12’ then I’m willing to admit I’d be hopeless at this job. (Actually, at this point I’m starting to think that the guys at Monster didn’t actually read my resume at all, and that they’re just shooting me rando jobs in the hope that suddenly I’ll realize my dream to become an insurance salesperson or admin assistant). Me, have responsibility for kids who are risk, who need help and assistance… are you kidding me? Unless it came with a lasso and a stable, I’d be about as useful as a penguin in this role. Next.

5. Drama Instructor

Well, I know I’ve been known to act out, but I take this suggestion with a pinch of salt. I know I kind of made a big deal about my lack of progression at work, and I might have overemphasized the awfulness of a few dates, and yes, I know that I can tend to blow things out of proportion but me? teaching drama? Nooooo. I could never… could I???

6. Taco Bell Shift Lead

Oh now the gloves really come off Monster! Thanks. Thanks a lot. My 4 years of college, my 17 years of 70 hour weeks, hour upon hour of client negotiations and deliverable prep has led to…. supervising the insertion of dog meat into a chulupa? Monitoring the cheese usage? Reordering tortilla chips? Oh thankyou Monster.. I’m flattered that you see the potential in me. Time to take any indicators of ‘customer service’ off my resume.

7. Retirement Plan Lead

Well I can’t say I’m surprised Monster. After all, I am getting older and I have, on occasion, thought about what retirement would look like. You, clearly, have me already moving fast on the downslope of my career. After all, why not get more prepared and informed about how I’ll be living on cat food and the leftovers at Chiplote come age 65.  Now I don’t know a damn thing about numbers and Excel screams with laughter when I open a new spreadsheet, but I’m sure I could pick it up. And I’m betting their dress code is pretty lax as long as your Depends adult diapers don’t show through.

So I think I’ll sit on my hands this summer. Maybe just enjoy having a job a love, coworkers who make me laugh and sure, I could be a VP of Corporate Communications somewhere, but I could also be a Taco Bell shift lead. I’ll take my chances and stay where I am. You know, until I have a hankering for a Gordito.

 

Sticking the landing

Column-IOC-needs-to-rethink-outdated-rules-MT225K1L-x-largeYes, I know its the Winter Olympics coming up, and the only ‘gymnastics’ on offer will be thrown down by Shaun White and any hot chick after the event.. but today ‘sticking the landing’ is on my mind.

I’m not talking about scoring a 10.0, or being perfect, but some days you really need to ‘stick the landing’. Be able to walk away with confidence in your solid performance. Sure, you might have not been perfect, there may have been some foibles or errors along the way, but you finished strong. You left a solid impression.

I am genetically incapable of ‘sticking the landing’.

Guaranteed, 100%, that’s the day, that’s the audience who see me wobble, stumble or just plain land on my head. Maybe I even throw up a little, just to really show them I’m incompetent. No one watching, a day when its not important and doesn’t count? I can be a rockstar. I’ve even punched the air on occasion. Of course its for things that don’t matter and no-one cares about… but as soon as the spotlight is on. Break out the crash pads. Its gonna hurt.

Now I am not one of life’s perfectionists. Minutiae makes me yawn and I ‘pass’ on the finer details of most things. Perfection is for those who need straight edges and tied knots, everything nailed down and in place. I find peace in seeing it, but achieving it… I’ve never had that level of competitiveness or motivation. I’m not a slacker – it has to be good, okay doesn’t pass – but perfection? You can take the other 20%.

Whether its work, my appearance, a new project, signing a lease or even rocking out a WOD, I pretty much know I’m going for 80%. Maybe 85% on a really really good day. But 100%? That’s for the newly promoted VP, the homecoming queen and straight A student. My crossfit trainers.

I’ve never wanted to be, or actually have been a  Tracy Flick.

Because of this 80/20 mindset, I know how much effort I need to put in to get ‘most’ of the way to the finish. In fact, these days I tend to plan for 80% rather than 100% since no matter how much effort I put it, the payoff seems exponentially smaller. I work that 100 hour week and my bonus is smaller than last year. I stick to the 30 day clean eating challenge and wind up the same weight. I spend an hour dressing for the party and still can’t get a date. After a while, you just figure 80% is good enough and skip the shower, eat the cupcake, close the laptop.

So today I was scheduled to meet with a company big wig. For a fairly important discussion. Its been a while since we met and I want to refresh him on my skills and what I bring to the party. You know, make a good impression at the start of the new year.

I’m actually trying so hard for this meeting, I’m almost aiming for 90%. I really need it to go well. I plan in advance, I print out  materials, establish goals and even mentally polish off the conversation in my head. ‘He’ll say this and then I’ll say that’

Alright, alright, alright. I’m looking good, feeling pretty confident.

Do I check that I picked everything off the printer? Do I ensure that I’ve got all of the source info I need to be able to power through questions? Have I kept things simple enough to get an answer, but with enough data to make a decision? Can I actually make it through this meeting without putting my foot in my mouth?

Check!

Check!

Check!

Ummmmmmmm. No.

It was looking so good. I was feeling confident, powering through my agenda, shutting up as appropriate (literally biting my tongue to stop myself from interjecting), and on target to act like a normal sane human being in the meeting. He was amenable, patient, we were working as a team. I even mentally patted myself on the back as I spotted the finish line of the meeting. For the first time in my history with this man, I am going to stick the landing. Its a new year, I’m rested, I’m ahead of the curve, I’ve planned this out, I’ve thought this through. I’m on a roll, I’m exactly where I should be, I’m actually going to leave a meeting feeling confident and proficient, secure in the knowledge that I’ve generated a little trust, some small nodule of goodwill. That he’ll remember why he hired me, and nod at his own initial assessment. In fact, all I needed to do was write down that final note and close the meeting. Which is clearly when my body rejected the notion of sticking the landing..

And without pause.. I criticize my boss, to his boss.

Even as the words came out of my mouth I can’t believe I’m saying them. No one asked me about this topic. No one asked for my opinion. But I couldn’t help myself. It just came out.. all unformed, shapeless, ugly and petty. I outed myself as an asshole. In untrusty asshole at that.  And the comment wasn’t even on my mind. Wasn’t even on my agenda. Was purely a personal notion that I suddenly – apparently- though the big wig needed to know.

I may as well as told him that I’m expecting my period any day now, I’m feeling pretty bloaty and as a result my Hanky Pankies were being eaten by my ass.

In fact, I’d rather have told him that than how it actually went down. It probably would have had less impact.

Every bit of trust, confidence and certainty disappeared from his face as I, finally, realized what I’d actually said.  A thought, a statement made without reason, without purpose, just pure bad intention.

I blathered and in trying to un-blather myself, it got worse. The criticism lingered in the air like a thick fug which I couldn’t dispel, no matter what I said. The more I said, the more disappointment and mistrust I saw in his face.

Not only did I not stick the landing, I may as well have walked to the edge of the mat and thrown up on him.. such was the look on his face.

No, today I didn’t stick the landing. I didn’t even land on the mat. Clearly I can’t be trusted to relax for one moment when my mouth is in motion. Because brain and mouth are clearly not connected, and the moment I relax, actual real unconscious thoughts come out.

Is it purposeful? Do I deliberately self sabotage? Am I just slightly autistic around adults? Or has working at home robbed me of my ability to appropriately interact with adults ? Who knows.. all I know is that its a constant, and it doesn’t lessen the self doubt and pain I feel everytime it happens.

Which is probably why I won’t be getting that bonus again this year. And this year, I will know exactly why.

How can it be January 15th and I’ve already fucked my career for the year?

I am not a writer

snoopyBack in early December I decided to take a break from writing this blog. I’d run out of things to muse on, I felt as though I had nothing left to say about anything to anyone, ever and mostly, I didn’t like the person I was writing about. aka me.

Nothing like reading a years worth of random posts to realize that you sound like a man obsessed, trivial whiner.

7 years of dating had generated a lot of ‘funny stories’ and ’embarrassing incidents’ which while a gold mine for source material, didn’t speak well to my judgement or the willingness of any man to ever date me in the future. After all, who wants to be with someone who’s likely to openly mock you on the interwebs? I’m not a cruel person, but in sharing the anecdotes of other’s failings (while delicately ignoring my own contributions), I found that with hindsight… I didn’t feel comfortable telling those stories any more.

Plus while I may have been all too consumed with the idea of meeting a man and falling in love for the last few years, this has been a year of moving that fantasy into retirement and bringing other fantasies to the fore. Like creative expression. Exploration. Conversation. Friendship with women AND men. Oh, and finally paying off my lemon house debt. None of which makes for exciting or amusing reading.

So, I thought I’d take the advantage of having very few readers, upcoming holidays and my creative Sahara to take the next step.

Aka.. writing some fiction.

After all, the whole point of writing my blog was to get back into the rhythm of writing every day, honing a voice, and developing some good writing practices.

All of which I did.

So, as I closed down my blog, cracked my knuckles and stood in front of my white board I figured ‘no biggy’. Just write a story.

People. They don’t tell you this but writing a story, a made up, straight out of your head story is HARD. I can write a 40,000 word essay on Deindustrialization no problem, but even 1000 words straight out of thin air??

They really need to rethink torture methods in this country.

I sat and I imagined. I wrote out timelines, drew mind maps and outlined characters. I figured out ‘A’ and ‘B’, but couldn’t figure out the denouement of ‘C’. I could define ‘B’ and ‘C’ but couldn’t figure out how to start. I hated my characters as soon as they’d had the opportunity to move beyond a single chapter and I realized that a year of daily blog writing was essentially no preparation for fiction writing. Instead of typing like a fiend, words flowing out of my fingers, I could barely string a sentence together. And when I did? Yikes. I think my 6 year old niece could do better.

2 weeks later I had 9 different ‘starts’ of 3,000 words, all of which sucked. Even I was bored with the characters and storyline. I didn’t have a single thread I wanted to pursue and, after 3 vodka martini’s I resigned myself to the fact that I may not actually be a fiction writer. Period.

Cue mental breakdown.

You see, since the age of zero I’ve always wanted to be a writer. I wrote my first story about a hedgehog when I was 6. It wasn’t much (though in hindsight, it too lacked a finale or ‘C’), but it was a story. And throughout the years I’ve always had this small voice in the back of my head that one day, one day.. sometime in the future I’d be an author. One person, just one, would read a book I wrote.

(At this point I may need to resurrect my hedgehog story from 1977 if its going to happen.)

I just always assumed I had it in me to be writer. I love fiction, I read about 200 or so books a year (more if I take a vacation or head back to the EU), and I love the act of writing on a tear as I had been for most of the past year.  Grabbing an idea or a thought or even a word and wrestling it into something. The hour or so every day I spent writing my blog was some of the the most fulfilling hours of my year.. and yet when I sat down to actually write a story…. nada.

After three nights of dreaming my teeth were falling out, I headed to my therapist for my latest first world problem. WTF? I had a lot of my current and future identity wrapped up in the notion that I was, and would be a writer.  I’d accepted professional ease and flexibility to give me space to think and do. So what if I didn’t have a stratospheric career, the white picket fence or rug rats..I had others priorities and pursuits. Like writing.

Then here I was, facing the fear that actually, maybe I can’t. And if I can’t.. what does that make me? Who am I, what will I be if its all just been a fanciful idea in my head?

Am I really just another version of the delusional American Idol contestant wailing Mariah Carey songs and thinking of future fame and creative fulfillment?

Well I can’t sing and I won’t be pushing any dreadful fan fiction on the public anytime soon, so hopefully that analogy is null and void, but the fear remains. Am I just wailing out of tune, same old, same old, crap into the wilderness? What’s the point of creating anything if its crap?

Lets just say its been an interesting few weeks.

So after much thought, and a few more ideas about writing pursuits, I’m going to resume writing this blog. If only because it does give me joy – whether anyone reads it or not. I’ve also started writing a story. Not the type of story I thought I would write, but its joyful, silly and I can get lost in it. Its not good, and I’m finding myself wide awake at 3am scribbling down notes of things I’ve forgotten to include, so its hardly well organized. But  if only two little girls read it, then I’ll be one happy aunt.

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.

Public Health Warning: Winter Approachitis

frostIt’s early October in Colorado which means the sun is shining, the aspens are golden, Winter has just checked in online and will shortly be boarding the flight to Denver.  Estimated time of arrival for Winter is Friday afternoon unless Snow, Wind That Freezes Your Nipples Off and Fucking Terrible Drivers from Texas get held up in security screening. Damn I hope that flight gets delayed.

Our spring was about 20 hours long, and it looks like autumn is following  similar path. It started 3 weeks ago when the temperatures plummeted from 96 degrees to 54 (that was an interesting day), and I noticed the usual symptoms of ‘Winter Approachitis’.

1. You’re exhausted at the thought of anything and everything.

Its May and you’re bouncing out of bed at 6am, your ‘to do’ list is as big as a Torah scroll and you’ve got so much energy, even your dog is knackered at the sight of you. You’ve planned eleventy million things to do this summer and dammit, you’re finally going to knock out at 14-er or two, go camping, train for a half marathon and hey, maybe even wash your windows. Come September and you’d rather move house than clean a window, you can barely roll out of bed at 7am and the notion of hiking up a mountain is absurd.  Looking at your sneakers makes you yawn and you can’t even stomach the walk from the parking lot into Whole Foods. Congratulations, the first warning signs of Winter Approachitis (WA) is showing its lackluster head.

2. Leaving the house feels like a major decision

The next warning sign of WA is the amount of effort it now requires you to exert if you’re leaving the house in the evening. What seems like a great idea back in July, now suddenly seems like a huge effort that frankly, you’re not sure you can commit to. After all, there’s three new shows on Fox and you just bought new socks. Do you really need to? Will anyone really care if you don’t show up? When you find yourself automatically jumping to worse case scenarios and fantasizing about diseases you could use as an excuse not to go.. your WA is definitely ramping up.

3. You’ve broken out the jazz cds and bought a candles

All summer you’ve been searching the radio for happy songs, pop and R&B tracks that you can sing along to at the top of your voice. But suddenly you’re really annoyed by anything vaguely upbeat or ‘light’ and you start shouting at the radio when yet another Rhianna track comes on. Suddenly you want jazz, blues or ‘deeply depressing nod-a-long music’. Something with soul and substance. Next thing you know you’re in the grocery store  standing in front of a candle display and pondering the latest Sinatra compilation at the checkout. Be warned: Telling people that you want to ‘curl up on a sofa with a glass of red wine’ is only a small step away and Winter Approachitis can generate a generic platitude faster than you’re aware. Stay vigilant people.

4. Your dog seems to have snorted Ritalin

Your dog has spent the last 4 months panting and sweating his way through the summer; ambling slowly at the end of the leash with a tongue that threatens to wash the floor as he drags his hot and tired self around the block. He spends the days trying to find the cool spot in the house or yard, and he appears to have retired from all activities apart from sleeping, eating and pooping. Walking optional.  But suddenly, overnight, you look at your dog and you notice that he looks like someone just gave him hair plugs and he suddenly wants to do shit. Like now. Now. Now. Now. Please. Now? Right as you’re collapsing onto the sofa for a long evening of not moving and staring at nothing, he’s ready for squirrel bating, goose huntin, leash yanking fun times. And boy, is he going to make you aware of it. Balls at your feet, pacing, barking at trucks, neighbors and sirens, scrambling to the door every-time he sees you move or change shoes. Goddam.. its exhausting. And that’s before you’ve even left the house.

5. You decide to cook something

I know there are people out there who do this all year long, but for us singletons, cooking is 100% optional in the summer. Hell, that’s what grills are for and if necessary, you can always drink dinner with a chips and salsa chaser. But as the weather cools, you find yourself pondering what one does with a squash and wondering if your mother was right about the joys of a slow cooker.  You dust off the oven and wonder what actually goes into a ‘stew’. Have no fear though, this feeling will pass as temperatures continue to plummet and you discover the 12 new Asian restaurants that now deliver to your neighborhood. And hell, you can still drink your dinner if necessary- that’s what red wine is for.

6. You bed becomes more alluring than a hot stud muffin in Levis

Sure you really could use a little loving, and boy it would be nice to make out with someone before you forget how, but hey… come winter you know your bed will suffice. You don’t need to shave your legs to get full enjoyment out of it and you know you can’t fuck it up. Damn that bed is an alluring bitch in the winter. You spend your days dreaming about the moment you’re going to climb into it, and every morning, as you’re smoothing the sheets, you’re already cooing ‘I’ll be back soon my love’. Sure it won’t buy you dinner or make you reach for the stars, but damn, its never boring and it always always delivers.

But don’t worry folks, winter here once it taxi’s down the jetway and deplanes. And then we can all start moaning about bad drivers from Texas, the lack of snow plows and why you need to work from home.

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.

If I had a million dollars.. I’d be rich?

moneyYesterday as I stopped by my local gas station for my mid week ‘pick-me’up’ (aka a Peppermint Patty and a lottery ticket), I noticed a handwritten sign taped to the cash register;

‘$500 winning scratch ticket sold here”

Which made me smile and briefly think how thrilled that person must have been to find three numbers that actually matched on his (or her) card and what they did with that extra moola. (Stuart Weizman, size 7, black and white 4 inch lace ups for me..thankyou).

But then, as I walked home I realize how paltry that sum really is – even as a ‘drop in your lap’ surprise. $500?  So someone made a car payment and ordered takeout or maybe got their car brakes fixed? Hardly a life changer. But what sum of money actually would be these days? $10,000 or $100,000, a cool million or would it need to be more?

So, in the interests of research (and because Ink Master was over), I decided to work it out how winning money would actually impact my life. Because you know.. it could happen.

1. Dropping $10,000 in a bucket

While this looks sizeable and I already can imagine the stack of notes in my hand, $10,000 is actually nothing. Once the tax man has hit it, you’re left with about $6,500 (fed tax rate on winnings is 35%). So how do you spend the enormity of $6,500? Well of course if you’re – like me – swathed in credit cards, you probably push $6K in the direction of one, have a nice meal and maybe treat yourself to those special shoes. And that would be it. Over in literally one day.  Life changing? Hardly. (which doesn’t meant I wouldn’t love $10,000.. but hey, if I’m winning something I’m gonna aim higher). Suddenly that $500 winning celebration seems kinda of mocking doesn’t it?

2. Getting Sensible with $100,000

Now we’re talking. For most everyone (unless you have some serious gambling debt), this one is going to have some serious impact on how well you sleep at night. Remember its only going to be $65K when Mr.IRS has finished with you but  you can probably say goodbye to that credit card debt and maybe your car loan too. Leftovers? How about paying a bit into your savings and maybe hitting the ‘three month of living expenses’ mark?  I’d still get those shoes.. but if I managed all of the above.. that’s about all I’d be getting.  Of course if I had a few Tequilas I might say screw the savings and take that trip to Bora Bora I’ve been longing for but to be honest.. I’d take sleeping at night over any vacation. Suddenly even $100K is looking a bit on the low side isn’t it? No real life changers happening and I’m certainly not investing in a gold grill or mink pajamas at this winning point. *Sigh* I’ll just have to win bigger.

3. If I had $1,000,000.. I’d be rich?

And momentarily I would probably think so… except.. except… A million ain’t what it used to be. (first world problems I know.. but still that’s where I live). After Mr.Fuck You has visited I’ve got $650,000.  Really starting to not like the tax man at this point…

Damn I’ve always wanted a Porsche… but… lets take care of some reality first. Once I’ve done the sensible stuff (see #2) I’ve got probably $575K left. Actually lets look at Maslow’s hierarchy of needs before I start test driving… now where am I?

Maslows-Hierarchy-of-Needs

Goddamn it.. I’m still right at the bottom.  Time to get on that property ladder and buy a house.  And, factoring in moving expenses, rent termination and Colorado property prices… would be it.

DAMN. All that money and I’m still driving a Toyota and I’ve still not taking a damn vacation. Gotta go bigger.

4. $10,000,000: Mo money, mo problems

But the bitch ain’t wanna them. No, at $10 mill, I’m certainly not bitching. Mentally I’m starting to think that I’m entering JLo territory and a small yappy dog is going to feature in my future.. but lets get real first. So its actually more like $6.5million (still a number that makes me giddy) but with all of that potential tax I’m hiring a tax accountant to see if he can figure out some workarounds to get that number up. I really don’t want to be handing over $3.5 million to Mr.IRS. Yes, at $10 mill, I’ve become a Republican. Its my money goddamn it…Holy shit. Well they do say money changes things.. apparently ME.

But back to my steaming pile of $50s. I’ve taken care of #2 and #3 – I’ve got myself a nice 2 bedroom and I’m debt free, so what’s next? Building a village in Africa? Donating to the poor? Umm… lets just wait a second and get back to that heirarchy of needs. I think I might have bounced off the bottom by buying a house but with $10 million, I want to take care of others -like my family. Lets see.. paying off my sisters house, establishing a college fund for her kids and plumping up my parents retirement accounts… that wipes out a few million. Leaving me with a few – lets say $3M. Now what? Well goddam it, I’m definitely taking that vacation and buying a new mountain bike. I actually like my Toyota so I think I’ll add to my stable with another Guzzi. And maybe some shoes.. a few purses. Purely so I feel like I’m getting some enjoyment here… but can I retire? On $2.5 million? Touch and go. With today’s markets and my ill informed decision making I’m going to say no. Maybe I can take a sabbatical for a year to write a book.. but retirement? And shit, I haven’t even donated anything yet, not even  a single Girl Scout cookie. Nope.. I’m going to need to win more.

(FYI: $10m and I can’t retire… WTF?)

5. $50,000,000 – over and out

Ok this is silly, insane money. This is strangers writing you begging letters money. Walter White money. And its certainly more money and I would ever need in one, two or three lifetimes. Fifty-million-dollars. So ridiculous I can’t even picture what that looks like. Which is a good thing because I don’t have it. And not gonna. But lets play it out…Even after my ever expanding team of accountants, financial advisers and business managers have done their work.. I’m still probably only dealing with $40 mill.. (still.. this is giggling insanity money). I take care of #2-#4 and I’m still left with oooo…$30 mill. THIS is life changing money.. not just mine and my family, but friends, my community and yes, random people who need it. This is retirement, travel the world, make a difference money. Start a dog rescue, seriously shore up my local food bank, help out a friend or 10. Of course my days are now spent thinking about money, spending money and worrying about money.. having so much means I’d constantly worrying about whether its working for me and whether its going to last. Am I investing correctly? Does the Porsche need a service? Do I have the latest ‘it’ bag? Is the maid stealing? (you have to have a house cleaner at $50mill I think) And does this foundation need it more than that other charity? … in fact.. actually.. its all really unappealing. I think about money a few times a day… the idea that my days would be spent thinking about money -all day – urgh….Winning this type of money – a windfall out of nowhere – surely makes you paranoid that it could disappear as quickly as it appeared. Which to me.. wow.. break out the Xanax.

I think I’ll take the $500.

Ok.. maybe the mill. (I’m not that stupid)

Hair today

Because April seems to be a big month of realizations for me, today I’m tackling the biggest issue of my last 40 odd years.. hair.

Yes, I know I’ve been there before. Like I said, big issue for me.

After growing out my hair for 5.5 years (excluding the one bad foray into a blunt bob in 2009), I finally reached Jennifer Anistonville, golden brown long lock-dom, high and low lighted to perfection, long enough to hide my tattoos and detract from my crazy Colorado crows feet. It reaches my chesticals (handy if I’m ever naked and riding a horse) and its a color which doesn’t make me look like the Bride of Frankenstein or a hooker on Colfax. I’ve had three guys tell me this month that my hair was ‘pretty’. A first.

And I hate it.

Its stick to my neck
It makes me sweat
It looks good for about 50 minutes after I finish ‘do-ing it’
It looks stupid when I take off my helmet (and I spent an inordinate amount of time in various helmets these days)
I wake up looking as though I’ve escaped from Bellevue mental hospital
I regularly rip my fingernails in it
If I don’t blow dry it I look like a Cathy cartoon of ‘depressed singleton’
My roots are a stern grey and appear 0.001 seconds after I leave my hair appointment
Its becoming a second job, and one which doesn’t pay

But most of all.. its just not me

I’ve not had long hair since I was 13 and I finally figured out the reason. 

I’m just not one of those ‘play with your hair’ type of people. I didn’t spend my teendom twirling and curling, braiding and pinning. I was more interested in getting it to stand up vertical and not be brown. I never wished for long curls and twirly bits to stick in my mouth. I couldn’t give a stuff about my Barbie’s hair.. I cared way more what adventures she was having and her shoes. Go figure.

I wanted Billy Idol hair.

And I had it for many years.

But as you age, short hair doesn’t let you age easily. Less hair means more focus on your face.. and those dreaded lines and brown spots. The softness in your neck, the old acne scars and of course my large neck tattoo. After my last short cut I suddenly felt a need to move to LA and have my face stretched out and tied behind my ears I looked so ‘saggy’. My girlfriend rocks a short pixie and has done for years, but she’s gorgeous and has the skin of a twenty something even as she wades into her 40s. Me, not so much.

So I decided to embrace the cute chicks with the long hair and decided I could be one. After all, how hard could it be? Its just hair right? Almost 6 years later I am finally, painfully there.

Cue Saturday afternoon spent watching youTube videos (at the age of 41) in order to learn how to use a curling iron. And watching the chick burn her hair off. Armed with my $60 curler I managed to bend kinks into my hair which later turned into frizz and hung lankly around my face. I tried again – more hairspray, more backcombing, more ‘root volumizer’. Result? Sticky mad person with slight waves at odd angles.

Next I tried an ‘up do’ which roughly translated to ‘a can of hairspray, lots of pieces sticking out and a head full of pins’. That’s not hair, it’s an art project. And mine fell down 3/4 of the way through my can of Elnett. My hair was starting to resemble a helmet and I still couldn’t make it resemble anything on the internet.
Finally I found a site on ‘Dos for Dads’ aimed at ‘Dudes without a clue’ who were tasked with doing their daughters hair for school. So kind of me.
After trying all 12 options I decided that the one I could confidentially master, the one which I could actually leave the house with in under 30 minutes was…

….a ponytail.

With a fancy elastic wrapped around it.  (the elementary school aged kid wore a side pony, but at 41 I figured I had to drawn the line somewhere.. like 1981)

I tried. I played around with pins and accessories but all I come back to is this. Long hair is all about the chick who wears it, maintains it, plays with it and works it every day. And loves doing it.
I’m not that chick.
You can put the tomboy in 4 inch heels and a tight dress, ask her to run 5 miles with a laptop in her hand.. but don’t ask her to do an updo.  Last week I was forced to pay $70 to have someone blow dry it.. (yes, that $70 didn’t include oral or free hair.. just heat).. just so I didn’t look a absolute horror.  2 inches of hair and I can rock 20 hairstyles. 14 inches of hair and I’m left with a ponytail and a sweaty neck and now I’m out $70.

So here it is. My name is Rachael and I hate long hair. Despite my appearance I’m actually a short haired chick. And once I can afford more Botox and potentially some filler, I’m chopping this mane off and donating it to someone who actually wants to play with their hair.

Plus on the way back from my work convention I saw the best Gwyneth Paltrow ‘Sliding Doors’ crop ever…I was practically salivating over the woman’s ease, the confidence with which she ran her fingers through her hair without losing a nail or finding a dog toy. And her neck didn’t look the slightest bit sweaty.

What have I been doing for the last 40 years???

I just finished a hysterical book – Caitlin Moran’s ‘How to Be A Women’ (I thought I might benefit from some guidance which didn’t involve waxing or implants). I don’t recommend it for bedtime reading as hysterical laughter doesn’t make for sleepytime, but wow.. it certainly got me thinking.

In telling stories about growing up in a working class project in the UK, she focuses on all the things that she thinks she needed to ‘be’ in order to claim herself as a ‘woman’. Aka.. what was expected of her. She finds friends, fancies boys, gets fat, confronts her fashion choices, tries to walk in high heels, gets waxed and drinks entirely too much throughout. The entire book is hysterical, but also raises the question about what women are taught, indoctrinated to think throughout their lives… if we,

– Lose some weight
– Get rid of all our body hair
– Wear the right underwear
– Say the right thing
– Find and marry the prince
– Make friends with the right people
– Buy the big house
– Grow the 2.4 kids

.. apparently glitter will fall from the sky, people will bow before you and you’ll explode with happiness.

or maybe not.

Her point, (and it only emerges in the last chapter), is that women seem to focus on what they ‘are’ rather then what we ‘do’. Few guys talk about each others clothes, body hair, curtains or weight… they’re too busy talking about what they did, what they’re going to do, and potentially lying about how awesome it was and how they ‘nailed it’. Guys focus on doing… girls…. not so much.

So at 10.37pm last night I suddenly had the realization;

‘Holy shit, I’ve spent the last 40 odd years thinking that if I weighted 120lbs, ate more fruit, had more girlfriends, and found a good dude.. well …. actually…. what? I’m happy today (and I certainly don’t weigh 120lbs).’

I guess I was under the impression that these were things I needed to do in order to be happy. Fulfilled. Like everyone else. Normal.   

If only I could get my mouth under control, learn how to be sated a single glass of wine, enjoy ‘crafting’ and create the perfect ‘capsule wardrobe’, I thought I’d be done. With what I’m not sure, but somehow, someone seemed to have put a chip in my head which made these things important to strive for.

Well I guess my chip just fell out.

Instead of focusing on ‘being’ I think its time to focus on doing. After all, if I died tomorrow at 120lbs (dream on honey), with perfect highlights, a waxed hoo hoo and a fawning husband… so what?
How much better to go out in a blaze of lights, eating, drinking, wearing, acting as you want, writing things that embarrass your mother, making people smile and whooping as you go (albeit with slightly hairy legs)?

Maybe its time to focus less on trying to ‘be’ something, and focus on ‘doing’ stuff. Doing the stuff I like, no, love. Non of which involves match.com, waxing or wearing navy blue. So tonight I’m off to get a new tattoo, figure out a book plot and cancel my wax appointment.
Actually somethings its probably better do actually get done.  No-one likes a handle bar mustache on a chick.

Concessions.. and not the popcorn variety


I’ve often been accused of being too flexible. The Queen of the concession. Driven by an insatiable need to be liked, I’ll be whatever and whoever you want me to be. I’ve become many different people through the years with the sole aim of appealing to someone or fitting into their idea of who they wanted. I’ve been Disco Rachael, Indie Rachael, Homemaker Rachael, Introvert Rachael, Extrovert Drunk Rachael, Fashionista Rachael, Adventure Planning Rachael, Workaholic Rachael and far too many times, Spineless Rachael.

Appeasing other people is how I wound up studying something ‘useful’ instead of something I loved, got into rollerblading (thankfully short-lived, though I’m sure a few people have flown to Vancouver BC to explicitly do something they hate), bought 100 year old houses I was ambivalent about, lived with a dog who liked to bite people and who my husband preferred to me, sat through every friggin’ Star Wars movie, moved to Seattle despite a hatred of rain, treated entire families I’d never met to Indians tickets, listened to music which made me consider figurative suicide.. the list is frighteningly long. I’ve thrown away friendships, rearranged my life, purged my bank account.. all in the name of being someone else. Someone you’ll like more.

Sometimes I lost myself completely and the outcomes weren’t pretty when I finally resurfaced. No, this isn’t ‘natural evolution’ for me, but a series of ‘sure’ ‘ok’ ‘sounds fun’ ‘ I love Yo La Tenga’ until suddenly you can’t remember what you really like to do, who you were, who you are. It’s a long process to get back to ‘you’ and you become weirdly protective of yourself as a result.

So after a few years of living single and selfishly, my desire to bend, to make every concession to who I am has all but been eliminated. I am firmly myself. I like to hike. I like getting dirty in the yard. I like restaurants with tablecloths. Oh, and I hate Yo La Tenga.  With a passion.

While I’m still willing to flex to accommodate the things I can’t change or to try something that sounds fun, I’ve stopped short of becoming a different person to please or appeal to someone. It’s made me a stronger, more confident person. But it also creates somewhat of a nervous knee jerk reaction to making concessions. If I concede, change my plans, flex what I consider appropriate.. am I giving up myself? Am I returning to old habits? Am I losing myself again? It’s a terrifying prospect after how much I fought to reclaim who I am.

This month I keep running into that fear. After a sleepless night, arguments in my head at 2am and a reassessment of a situation, I decided to make a big concession – not who I am, or what I value – but still a concession. I’m still not sure whether I can do this – be myself and have it be enough. But I can’t be friends with someone, be with someone, work with someone and not flex, be willing to do things which I don’t like or don’t want. Its just not possible and I don’t want to turn into the weirdo spinster with 17 little dogs who works at the charity shop.
The questions remains whether I have the courage to flex without losing myself. I guess as long as I stay away from Yo La Tenga.. thats a start.

Kathleen Turner’s kind of sexy right?

As many of my friends would tell you, I’ve been walking around now for 5 weeks talking like Kathleen Turner. Not ‘Romancing the Stone’ Kathleen, but ‘smokes 60 a day, 2012’ Kathleen.
Its been an interesting time. My voice has been ranging from sexy gravel (my favorite), through raspy Marlboro man talking through a hole in his neck (less cute), to a high pitched screech that makes my dog run out of the room. If I’m lucky, sometimes nothing comes out at all.

My coworkers have been asking me if I’m sick, and on more than one occasion have messaged me (‘are you crying?’), my boss thinks I’m putting on the most elaborate fake ever (though since I’ve not taken any sick days I’m not sure what he thinks I’m getting out of this), and every time I yell for my dog to come, I sound like Barry White wrestling a Bee Gee. Up, down, up, down. Staying Aliiiiiiive.

My primary doctor looked down my throat and shrugged ‘no idea’ (reassuring that I pay $270 a month for that, isn’t it?), and I had to sit around for 2 weeks waiting for an ENT appointment.
I spent the previous weekend convincing myself that I had throat cancer (‘no pain? YES! raspy? YES! large lump in neck? YES!..If I push down hard enough to choke me..actually.. maybe that’s my tongue?). I called my girlfriend;

‘I have cancer’

‘what?’

‘Or maybe a large nodule like ‘The Thing’ growing in my vocal chords’

‘….’

‘no…Its definitely cancer’

‘you sound like you have laryngitis girl’

‘nooo.. definitely cancer’

‘Go WebMD it. Now. L-A-R-..’

‘Oh… you might be right…that sounds kind of familiar’

The only way I managed to sleep was with my friend Lunesta, who whispered ‘chemo’ to me as I drifted off every night.

The day finally arrived for my diagnosis and despite 12 inches of snow, I was early my appointment. Ready for my terminal news.

After spraying my nose with local antheastic, the doctor pulled what looked like a sewer snake out of a drawer and approached me with a smile.Whaaaa????

“Just relax.. its easier if you don’t fight it…’

‘that’s what my gastroenterologist said …’

‘this is totally different.. you’ll just feel it going down your throat’

Well I finally found a procedure I hate more than a rectal. Yep, sign me up for 100 rectal exams over this. You can even skip the lube next time…Just not this … ever… again..
I could feel the scope ‘snake’ go up my nose, down my throat and it felt like, into my chest cavity. Just when I thought he was heading for my fallopian tubes, I grabbed his hand and snorted at him with wide eyes and a I can only assume, a look of ‘I am about to kill you’. He thoughtfully decided he’d seen enough.

At which point he yanked the thing out.

Along with part of my lung and I think, one of my tonsils.

Jesus! I’d better have a cancer diagnosis after this. I leaned over retching nothing onto the floor.

‘You’re swollen and red and I can’t see anything’

‘….’ (I am going to kill you, once I can stop retching)

‘.. but no weird stuff or cancer.’

‘great’ (you are not off the hook Mr)

‘So I’m going to give you a whole lot of drugs try to reduce the inflammation and then we can have another look’

‘Nhhhh….'(Not if I can help it Buster)

So here I sit, another heap of pills to crunch through for the next month. 5 of these, 3 of these, 1 of these. On an empty stomach, a full stomach and not around grapefruit. Oh and some of them are steroids, so if I’m lucky, I’ll resemble Rambo when I’m done. Goddamn genes. Who gets inflamed vocal chords other than Adele? I can’t even sing for gods sake…

Kathleen Turner sounds kind of sexy, right??? Maybe I just…. ?

Dating ‘normal’

Unexpectedly I found myself on a date with a non hippy, (body part, not ethos), sane, good looking dude one Friday night. I had a scotch or three to celebrate.
Interesting? check. Passionate about his job? check. Good body? big check. Eyes? two, facing forward and aligned, check. Single? check. Chemistry? ummmmmm????

Here’s the kicker. The guy had no edge. Either he was hiding it in his pants or he really was the ‘what you see… ‘ guy. Which threw me for a loop. Where was his self obsessed monologue on his activities?  His off handed criticism of former partners? Slightly sexist comment about my career? Nada.  None of it. Instead, I just had a great date. Which ended at 1am and a request for a second date that following Sunday.

Second date – snowshoeing – gave me the ideal opportunity to dig around his personality to find his edge, plus check out his ass in snow pants (hey, these things are important in Colorado). Damn. He passed that test. Clearly he’s drinking blood or sucking down HGH because this guy does not look his age in the clarity of daylight.
So we hike. And we chat. Well he chats, I’m conserving oxygen and watching him slowly wilt. And again, no edge. He’s open, apparently honest and not hiding much – but with some boundaries. All very appropriate and proper.

The problem becomes apparent- its me. I’m not used to normal people. Certainly not guys I’m on a date with. By now we’ve hit the sheets and he’s already picking out rings as I’m making for the door.  Or I’m planning our vacation and he’s out the door. Instead this guys is telling me about how he took care of his Mum when she was terminally ill with lung cancer. Seriously. He’s that nice. He’s making me laugh, calling me on being harsh and generally acting like a good friend.

The result – I’ve never felt like more of a freak as it becomes clear… this guys wants us to be friends and get to know each other before anything happens. Did this guy write a dating book? I’m floored. Stunned. What a pity that I find him so boring. See? this is what dating does to you..I can’t be attracted to normal. I don’t know what to do with nice or normal.

Now help me find a guy who’s completely career obsessed or has a burgeoning drinking problem please. That I can deal with.

Boomerangs: Those ones who never quite go away

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Diseases I most definitely have

Living alone and working at home has many many advantages, not least your ability to spend an hour in the afternoon playing the hits of 1987 loudly while dancing with the dog  (god, The Stray Cats were good). On the downside, you don’t have anyone to bug when you’re wide awake at 2.20am and you think you might be dying. As one of my coworkers (and my mother) can attest, living alone with access to WebMD can make you something of a hypochondriac. Just this week I’ve had to talk myself out of calling the medics on several occasions. I most definitely, maybe, am sick with something. 

Monday: During first conference call of the day, noticed that voice had a somewhat strangled quality. One of the other callers asked if  okay, after which noticed that voice now sounded reedy and choked up.. almost as though was on the edge of tears. Have sobbed in  bathroom when at Microsoft but not normal and was related to Seattle weather more than anything. By the end of the call had determined that either have throat cancer or spasmodic dysphonia (in involuntary constriction in the throat). Spent the remainder of this week researching whether the recommended cure of Botox to the throat would also help smooth out those new wrinkles in neck. 

Tuesday: Stood up after a long stretch sitting at my desk, and felt some tingling and slight numbness in  legs. After walking around apartment feeling somewhat wobbly, decide that most definitely have early onset Parkinsons disease or MS. Have Googled both diseases on multiple occasions (causing repeated sticking of pins in various body parts to test whether feeling still there), decided instead to create an online will and research the cost of wheelchairs. Throat still strangled and weird. Wonder if maybe am going through puberty again, just this time as a boy?

Thursday: A blinding headache  accompanied by black squiggly lines and flashes across my eyeballs definitely wasn’t the usual migraine from running in cold weather without a hat. No, definitely had to be a blood clot in brain. Googled symptoms while wearing sunglasses and cold wet rag turban to calm throbbing, bleeding brain. Was on the verge of calling  mother to wish her goodbye when decided to spare heartbreak of a final conversation and just lay down to die. Woke up an hour later feeling much better but with a scratchy throat, so determined that it probably was just an early sign for meningitis. Voice now sounding like am actively weeping while trying to talk, has been most off putting for my boss who thankfully is now limiting his calls to about 2 mins. Very glad am not dating at the moment. Would be traumatic to be on date and sounding all choked up.

Friday: Couldn’t remember the term for ‘potluck’ this morning when sending a memo so clearly have early onset Alzheimers. Must start labeling objects around house in case it gets worse and can’t find the door. Note to readers: If you don’t hear from me again, its probably because can’t find the ‘Publish’ button on Blogger. Hmmm.. let me check WebMD for some other options.

In the words of Bjork.. its oh so quiet…

I think Bjork said it best…

It’s. oh. so quiet
it’s oh. so still
you’re all alone
and so peaceful until…

you fall in love
zing boom
the sky up above
zing boom
is caving in
wow bam
you’ve never been so nuts about a guy
you wanna laugh you wanna cry
you cross your heart and hope to die

’til it’s over and then
it’s nice and quiet
but soon again
starts another big riot

you blow a fuse
zing boom
the devil cuts loose
zing boom
so what’s the use
wow bam
of falling in love

I kicked off my 40th year with a 36 hour make out session with a wanna-be cowboy. I will end this year in cowboy country, but this time, a 36 hour girl-fest. No mother, I’m not finally coming out. But I have committed to new years eve a whole 6 weeks before the event with a girlfriend with friends in fancy places (yay for connected friends).
6 weeks though.. its a time frame I wasn’t even sure existed until today. I barely made plans for my 40th birthday and even then it caused such anxiety I could barely swallow the champagne, (though it was amazing what will power and latent alcoholism can overcome). But I digress..

Based on New Years Eve 2011, I had expected that my year was simply starting off with a bang boom (pe Bjork) quickly followed by the cowboys disappearance and the return to quiet. And it did get quiet.. ridiculously quiet for a woman with a pulse, no obvious deformities and a size 4 butt. I couldn’t get a date if I stood on the corner with a sandwich board. Which match.com really is, but I had sworn that 2012 would be ‘match-free’. Why??? well thats a whole other book.. but I resolved I’d find a mate through more conventional means (and without resorting to a sandwich board). As I headed in July I realized that I hadn’t been taken out for dinner by a man since 2010 and threw caution and $39.99 to the wind. Match.com v3.0. 4 weeks later I was meeting a man at the airport and swiftly diving into love.  It was crazy, intense, moving, passionate.. my heart literally vibrated when I saw him or we waved to each other over Skype. When it ended.. noone wanted to die, but man, it sure got quiet again quick. And nursing some wounded feelings in silence isn’t good for anyone.

Its not as though I mind the quiet times too much – lord knows I’ve been divorced for 5 years- there have been plenty. I calculated that since the age of 18 when I started dating (22 years ago.. no wonder I’m jaded), I’ve literally only been in a ‘relationship’ for about 8 of those years. That’s 16 years of singledom and sporadic dates. No wonder I’m fucking exhausted and slightly bored.

So here I am, its November and I can’t face another man-shopping expedition on Match.com. I know I’m unlikely to meet anyone while sitting in my apartment but there are only so many hours I want to spend at the gym, the yoga studio, the gun range, the bookstore or walking the dog. And what if my potential mate doesn’t have a dog, doesn’t work out or doesn’t read? I’m too old to start manufacturing an interest in the Broncos or hanging out in bars. If I hang out in a bar, dudes think I’m a lush. And if I’m sitting at the bar for a few hours, I am probably becoming one.

My key to sanity? Knowing that in 3 days or 3 months or even 3 years I’ll be back on the roller coaster, craving a night in and some quiet time. So for now.. I try to remember that the zing boom is just around the corner.. and try to enjoy the quiet.

Adulthood defined by real estate

I was, until very recently a home owner. A serial home owner and bonefide navigator of Home Depot, the paint store and even Angies List (aka training pants for renovators without a clue who don’t trust anyone).
I bought my first apartment when I was 28, high on a $7,000 bonus and eager to become an adult by owning something. My car was leased, my outfit was still on my AMEX card but I thought I needed to own a place in order to declare my adulthood. So I wasn’t in a relationship, I sure as hell wasn’t going to be having a family any time soon and owning a house seemed the reasonable ‘next step’ as I headed towards 30. Fast forward 10 years and I notice now that people who buy a place not because they want to but because they don’t have  reason not to, generally are doing it through a lack of imagination and societies subtle social cues. ‘Oh, you STILL rent?’ was a conversation I’d been party to on several occasions and as couples paired off, it seemed that the first house payment was made before the rice was washed out of the wedding underwear.

So in the absence of a mate, a bought a place. Then sold it to move in with a guy. Then we got married and we bought a place (because that’s what you do), and then we sold it to move for work. Then we bought another place (because the marriage was falling apart and that’s what you do), and then I sold it (he having long scooted off). I bought a singleton palace of practicality – the duplex. But after a few years of furnishing, finishing and listening to my neighbors arguing on the other side of the wall, I decided to bite the bullet and buy a ‘grown up house’ all on my own. Two floors, 2200 sq ft of 1898 Victorian decrepitude. Buy it and he will come. Thank you Kevin Costner.
No he didn’t.
Which is a pity because I could have used someone with some heft, a spare power drill and any knowledge of landscaping, irrigation, drainage, roofing, insulation, heating AND cooling, plumbing or wasps nests. And that was in less than a year. I had dinner with a friend who had flipped a few houses and asked for an honest assessment. ‘Fish or cut bait?’
He laughed and said ‘ if you’re asking, you already need to sell’
I drank more wine and privately thought he didn’t understand my passionate desire not to fail. I would make the damn thing work. Even if I had to spend my entire 401K to do it.

Then, $38,000 in, drowning in debt, sweating buckets because my cooler broke and yet eerily smelling moldy due to the drainage issues in the basement, I met a guy. A handy guy. A farmer no less. Not that he was going to help me fix anything, but he sure gave me a reason to reconsider my home ownership plan. We rapidly fell in love, he invited me to move to be with him, we planned our Christmas vacation and our marriage ceremony. I finally had the push I needed to get rid of the money pit so I listed the house and sold in 2 days.

2 days.

Even he seemed surprised and a little concerned. But we pressed on. I started rationalizing furniture and we measured and mapped out our future living room during one of my visits. 7 days later he was gone. The following day my house closed. I wasn’t a home owner any more.

Today I live in a third floor walk up 1 bedroom rental apartment. Its not adult by any stretch. I have a whiteboard on the wall and a bike in the living room. With the addition of a Dali poster I’d be all but back in college. I don’t own a dining room table any more (I eat off my knees) and
I should be embarrassed, humiliated even at the poor decisions which led me here. At 40 I have nothing to show for it. I have scars and stories but no real estate. My single friends shrug and say ‘no biggie’, my married friends are horrified and embarrassed for me. My American dream is looking decidedly shabby. No house, no husband, no kids, (and not even an Porsche to compensate).

But if being a grown up is really just about real estate, do I really need to be ‘grown up’? If being an adult means spending every weekend at Home Depot and lying awake at 2am worried about whether my shingles will make it through the night.. then I’m happy not to be. I sleep just fine these days and I can finally afford to eat out again. Good thing now that I don’t have a dining table.