Note: The "Trooper" in question is not actually in the military. It's a metaphor, people.

December 29, 2008

Home for Hannukah

Last year Wine Guy and I spent the holidays doing the whole Christmas thing with his family (hence my post A Jew In Texas on Christmas). This experience was important not just because I met all of WG's extended family, but because it was also the first time I felt the "Christmas Spirit." What was it that I felt? No, not the kindness of Jesus warming my heart. But it still felt pretty good. A nice family, tons of food, an enjoyable Christmas morning episode of tearing open gifts and all around thank yous, and the rest of the day playing with said gifts and staying in pajamas until dinnertime. Who wouldn't like that?

This year was a little different, but no less enjoyable. Because Hannukah and Christmas coincided this year, I decided to combine celebrations and invited my mom and two friends over for a Christmas Eve dinner accented by menorah lighting, potato latkes and a few rounds of dreidel. Wine Guy embraced the occasion and decided to attempt a full on Jewish meal. He pulled the menu straight off of Epicurious (right down to the chocolate-orange carrot cake) and it was absolute perfection. I could see he was through the moon when my mom gave her approval to the brisket.

We opened some presents and then my mom taught us all how to gamble Jewish style, wooden top and chocolate coins, baby. I was definitely in the Channukamas spirit, and I think everyone else was too.

The next day, Ex-Wine Gal came over and she and WG made eggs benedict for us and we spent the morning watching Top Chef reruns and then opening presents. For those of you (like my mom) who think Ex-Wine Gal's presence at our house Christmas Day is strange, rest assured it wasn't strange for any of us. In fact, she is a good friend of WG's without family here so it is assumed that she spends holidays with us, just like my good friends who are here without family do. Plus, she willingly acts as WG's sous chef (I am a very reluctant and incompetent one) and she gave me some very thoughtful presents. No complaints here.

So now that Channukamas is over, Wine Guy and I are both enjoying a leisurely "staycation" through the rest of the year. I absolutely love having nothing to do and just enjoying my home, my dog, my man. If only life could be like this all the time.

Still no plans for New Years Eve - the most dreaded of holidays. I hate the pressure to find something "amazing" to do. Perhaps I can find more orphans who want to hang out, play games, and toast the New Year from the comfort of my living room? Am I terribly boring?

Hope you all have something planned that is perfectly suited to your tastes. Be safe.
Dismissed.

December 24, 2008

Chappy Channukamas

Happy Channukamas everyone!

Some of you may recall my holiday cards from year's past. Each year I aim for a recipe that includes a touch of hokey, a heavy splash of sarcasm, and a dash of "Is she losing her mind?" This year I enlisted Wine Guys' Photoshop skills yet again and added him and his cat to the family photo. How could I not share it with you?!

I've been severely MIA and for that I apologize. I wish I could say it's because life has been so fantastically wonderful that I could hardly wipe the smile off my face long enough to write for a bit....but that's not quite the case.

To sum up my excuses:
  • Wine Guy and I hit a major rough patch that I'm still figuring out and not ready to share here.
  • I found out I will likely have to have another major surgery in March 2009 to correct another failing body part (orthopedic, not life threatening just majorly life hampering). I had the first one in January '08 and it took 8 months of painful rehab before I was able to decide it wasn't a major mistake. Now I have no choice but to do it again. Perhaps I will recycle last year's new year motto. Sigh.
  • And to top it all off, I got an awful stomach flu a few days ago and since Sunday have eaten 1/2 an egg, a banana, applesauce, 1 chicken wing, 2 mini meatballs, and a brownie.
Today I am emerging from illness and cleaning house for the Channukamas dinner Wine Guy is cooking for me, my mom and my two friends Mendoza Line and Bubbly. Brisket will be eaten, latkes will be fried, draedel will be played, gifts will be opened, candles will be lit. I doubt Jesus will be mentioned but from what I understand you only need a tree to qualify for Christmas.

I hope you all have a happy holiday - whatever it is you are celebrating. Whatever 2009 brings for me, I plan on doing my best to share it here with you, and hope you get something from it - whether it be commiseration, entertainment or just confirmation that your life could be worse ;-).

Dismissed.

December 8, 2008

Assume the Position

When Wine Guy and I first started dating, we would boast about how little television we watched together. Why watch TV when there is so much to talk about? Or walks to take? Or making out to do?

I will admit it right here - we felt somewhat superior to those "other" couples that watched a lot of TV together on the couch.

Consider me humbled.

We watch TV. Sometimes a lot, sometimes a little. But we watch it everyday.

Maybe it wasn't such a bad thing back when we had smaller apartments and smaller couches. At least the TV watching gave us quality snuggling time. But since we moved in together and into a bigger place - and got the kick-ass couch with my dream chaise lounge - we are all spread out and in our comfort zones. And when we got the dog in July? Well, she snuggles right into the gap left between us.

So it's Wine Guy in the far corner by the lamp (basically where AppleButt the cat is sitting in this pic), then Luna the dog, then me in the prime chaise position. Heaven.

Every night. Come home. Eat. Assume the Position. (And don't forget the all-important DVR.)

I guess when I compare our current state with our smug new-coupleness one year+ ago, I get a bit concerned. Did we already run out of things to talk about? Are we using TV to avoid each other?

But then I also realize that we live together now. When we were just dating, our time together was an escape from our everyday lives. And when we went to our respective homes, we undoubtedly got on that couch and vegged out for a while. So we have to allow for some of that while living together, right?

The other night we spontaneously tried something different. We had just come home from a very festive game night at Gouda's house (she very kindly hosted it for my birthday, which was last Friday), and were still pretty wound up. Too wound up to flick on the TV and just sit there.

All of my board games were out from when I rummaged through them earlier to take to Gouda's (Catchphrase - the old school, non-electronic version -- is my #1 choice). Also sitting out was a game that Wine Guy insists is his favorite. He'd tried to get some of us to play it the previous weekend but nobody was really getting it, including me.

He suggested we try it again, just the two of us. I wasn't all that into it but he had been so nice going along with all of the birthday festivities I had crammed into the past three days, so I said OK.

It's a pretty strange little game. Kind of a post-modern role playing game I'd say? It's called Chez Geek and it's a basically a card game about a bunch of slackers all sharing a house trying to spend as little time working and as much time slacking off as possible.

To tell you the truth, I still don't really get it. But what made it so fun - it kept us up til 2am - was Wine Guy playing the "Gamemaster." He narrated the whole thing, walked us both through our characters and our cards, and totally got me into the slack groove. He was clearly having a blast and we spent the whole time talking, laughing and interacting.

We also dug into the cube of cards Gouda gave me as a birthday gift that are basically interesting questions to spark new topics of conversation. More goofing, gabbing and insights to be had.

The stereo was on, good music was playing (Radio Paradise is our Internet channel of choice) and the TV, thankfully, stayed off. Basically, it was just like when we first started dating. Except this time we needed an instruction manual and a game board to get it going. But we got it going nonetheless.

Before I get too smug again, let me tell you that the damn TV was on plenty the next day. We were both kinda hungover, and who the hell wants to talk when your hanging?

Dismissed.

November 30, 2008

The FaceBook Ex-List

Like many of you, I am now totally addicted to Facebook. Normally these social networking phenomenon run their course pretty quickly, so I try not to get too attached (MySpace anyone?). But this one....I'm fully entrenched. And judging from the new names I see pop up every day as friend requests, I'm not the only one.

Wine Guy is equally involved. We've even been known to communicate through status updates and comments while sitting a few feet apart at our computers. So it was inevitable that one day he would ask who some of my friends are. Usually they're friends from the pre-Wine Guy era that have yet to come up in conversation. But one recently popped up with a slightly more awkward answer...an ex boyfriend. Granted, he's an ex from middle school, but an ex nonetheless.

Wine Guy had seen a comment 7th Grade Boyfriend made on something I had posted. It was typical 7th Grade Boyfriend (7GB) teasing. We've had the same relationship since our stormy fling in middle school, and it involves almost entirely around giving each other shit. But we still managed a rather close friendship and have kept in touch over the years, supporting each other in our dreams (his to be a filmmaker, mine to be..happy).

But Wine Guy wasn't really aware of this history so when he saw 7GB's smart ass comment he became a little protective. "What the hell did that person mean with that comment?" I laughed and assured him it was totally within the bounds of acceptability. As I was explaining our harmless friendship over the phone, I started browsing my other friends on Facebook.

Oh, look there's an ex-boyfriend from college.
And, hey, look at that..A guy I dated briefly in high school.
And wow, there's the guy that took my virginity (in college, in case you're wondering).

At first I was jokingly noting these friends to Wine Guy, but after the third one I started to realize this might be kind of strange. Why the heck do I have so many former boyfriends, flings, dates, friends-with-benefits on Facebook anyway? Is that strange? I have no idea. But suddenly I was inundated with my romantic (or notably non-romantic) past.

Out of my 118 friends to date, I have had some form of romantic past with 11 of them. Plus one guy I had a mad crush on in high school (he was three years older than me) who I bumped into last year and we are now Facebook friends (he barely knew my name back then and, even though he is your typical, married late 30s schlub today, the geeky freshman girl in me still gets a thrill that he accepted my friend request).

Just to clarify, my definition of "romantic past" can be pretty loose. Especially when you consider how far back some of these relationships go. Here's the breakdown:

Elementary School: 2
#1 - Our relationship consisted of playing on the playground and lip-locking when my sister locked us in the closet. We recently reconnected after 21 years on Facebook and I'm thrilled about it. More to come on this one.
#2 - My first french kiss and I was totally peer-pressured into it (by yet another Facebook friend I haven't spoken to in 18 years). It is not a particularly pleasant memory but I'm over it.

Middle School: 1
Our history includes a little french kissing and lot of drama (including when he cheated on me with one of my rivals, something I still give him crap about to this day).

High School: 1
I think this "relationship" lasted a total of 2 weekends, until I found out he got back together with his girlfriend (probably better for him since I wasn't going to give it up anyway).

College: 5
Only one was a 'real' boyfriend (my first in every sense). The others were what we liked to call "hooking up." I'm sure you are familiar with the concept.

Post College: 2
One was a friendship that briefly - and mistakenly - turned to romance. And the other is, of course, Wine Guy.

I guess when I look at it, these exes were really friends more than anything else. There are certainly guys I dated a little more seriously that would never dare ask to be my Facebook friend. And vice versa. But the way I see it, if you liked someone enough to swap some spit (or other fluids) with them at some point, chances are you have enough left over after a spoiled romantic venture to maintain some semblance of a friendship. Besides, how hard is it to be a Facebook friend anyway?

What about you guys? Any exes on your friend lists?

Dismissed.

November 17, 2008

Vaccines Required

Please, single women, listen to me. I wish someone had told me this when I was actively looking to meet men anywhere but bars, online dating sites, or blind dates. Get yourself to a dog park immediately. Oh, and you should bring a dog too. If you don't have one, consider getting one. Or at least borrow one on a regular basis.

I go to our local dog park at least four times a week and, although I'm definitely not looking for a boyfriend or a fling, I can say that I've had at least ten potentially flirty conversations with eligible men. And I assure you that I go there dressed in my nastiest outfits, hair in a ratty ponytail and no social intentions.

But if you are a dog lover (or at least a dog non-hater), you can't help but get pulled in by the pure joy that goes on around you at a dog park. The owners are relaxed and focused on their pets enjoying themselves, not on impressing the humans. I don't know about you, but to me people look their best when they are just being themselves - something you rarely find out there on the Dating Battlefield.

I even have my own little secret dog park crush - Jinx's Dad. He's tall, relatively handsome, sweet and somewhat quiet. Every time we see each other we wave and end up chatting because our dogs tend to play together. I barely know anything about him - not even his name, nor does he know mine. But he just seems like a good guy. Perhaps I give a dog-owning man too much credit. But I can't help but see it as a good sign when a man is willing to take on the responsibility of another living thing and find such joy in it.

Luckily, Jinx's Dad had one distinctive feature that made my crush 100% harmless - a really bad mustache. Not a goatee. Not a beard. Not a flavor savor. A straight up mustache. The kind that made him look like a cop or maybe a gay male stripper. It just didn't seem to fit his face and I always wondered why he had it. But from the moment I laid eyes on him I thought, "Man, if he got rid of that mustache he'd be hot." Thus he was safe in my book.

That was three months ago. Two weeks ago I spotted Jinx running around the park and looked up to see his Dad waving at me - no mustache in sight. Uh oh. He looked hot. The first words out of my mouth were, "You shaved your mustache." Kind of a strange comment since we'd previously exchanged zero conversation of a personal nature. Let alone about personal grooming habits. He responded with a little "Yeah..." and then we went on talking about our dogs.

All of a sudden I felt very self-conscious. A little less like myself. Perhaps it was because Wine Guy and I had been fighting earlier, and then I walked out of my front door and found myself accidentally flirting with a now-hot guy. But I know me and I know I don't cheat. So I tried to keep my cool.

Tonight he was there again. And this time we talked more than ever before. I felt like I should walk away, not linger too long before I gave him the wrong idea. Instead I opted for the subtle slipping in of the words "we" when talking about where "we" let the dog sleep at night. I admit, I felt a little sad putting that out there. Perhaps he would be less friendly to me next time?

Then he spilled the beans and all of my little anxieties and guilt trips went out the window. He's moving in one month. Back to North Carolina.

Normally when I part his company I give an ultra casual I-don't-owe-you-anything "see you later." This time I veered and gave an enthusiastic, "Well I gotta go. I'm sure I'll see you before you move. Good night!" Perhaps the last time I see him I'll even utter his name. No harm in that right?

So ladies, get thee to a shelter and adopt a dog today. The dog park awaits.

Dismissed.

November 15, 2008

Moonlighting

I know, I've been MIA. I guess it's for a good reason. I randomly got myself a little side job writing movie reviews for a local weekly newspaper and I've been focusing on that. Let's just say it's a whole different ball game when you are writing something that has your name -and picture - on it.

I've written three reviews so far and they also asked me to interview a writer/director/actor who was in town screening her film so I got to practice acting like a real journalist in front of an unsuspecting interview subject.

So far I think I'm doing pretty well, though I found myself a bit flustered when I had to review the latest Holocaust movie "The Boy in the Striped Pajamas." Why? Well, I am well aware that the readers of this paper skew towards the older, Jewish variety. And, being Jewish myself, I am overly sensitive to anything I might say that could be construed as offensive. Basically, I loved the film. But my main thought that I wanted to convey in my review was that after so many hard-to-stomach holocaust movies over the years, one might become just a little desensitized to the horrors of it all. (C'mon, haven't you heard yourself think, "Ugh. I couldn't possibly sit through another Schindler's List. Let's go see Old School instead").

But this movie, simply because of its total lack of in-your-face ugliness all seen through a child's eyes, manages to re-sensitize you all over again. I think it 's a valid point. But I chickened out and said nothing of the sort in my final review, which ended up reading so stale you could almost hear me restraining myself from what I really wanted to say.

If you're Jewish you might understand what was bothering me. Or maybe not. But the more I thought about it (overthought I'm sure), I could just imagine the paper's editor opening the first of many angry reader letters, "How dare your film reviewer even suggest that one could become sensitized to the idea of the murder of 6 million Jews!" Of course, that isn't what I was implying at all, but, well, it's tricky. So I kind of sold myself out and overly sanitized my review.

I already regret it and don't plan on doing anything like that again. Hey, it was only my second one so I figure it is all part of the learning curve.

I had one friend and frequent blog reader tell me that he thought my first review (of "Role Models," which I actually liked, despite its gratuitously vulgar children) was a little "vanilla" compared to my regular blog voice (which is very similar to my in-person voice). My response to that? I totally agree. But, dude, this column has my name and picture on it. No cute little Dating Trooper pseudonym to hide behind! But I can already feel that I'm finding my voice for this new platform and am hitting my stride.

The coolest part of this little gig is that I get free movies and can take a friend. I even get a little extra spending money for my trouble. It's especially sweet this time of year when all the good Oscar contenders are coming out. I am basically booked up through Christmas with free screenings. But I have a feeling that come January, when the studios start dumping their crap movies in the theaters while everyone is preoccupied with Oscar nominations, I will find this job less of a privilege and more of a chore. But for now I will enjoy it.

On another note, some of you may recall that every year I come up with a motto for the approaching New Year (last year's is here, but don't think it means I actually accomplished what I set out to in 2008). Well, with Wine Guy so busy working on his own side project most nights, I decided that I am going to dedicate 2009 to getting my book together. I finally came up with a really good framework/idea that could actually turn into something other people might want to read. And I promise it will have my real name on it (maybe even a picture!).

Why am I announcing this here? So I can't get lazy and put it on the back burner like I have with so many other things. In fact, my birthday is approaching and I am buying myself a daylong writing workshop specifically designed to get my ass in gear.

Wish me luck. In the meantime I'll do my best to keep Dating is Warfare up to date. Trust me, there is plenty to spill (and it doesn't all have to do with my dog, I promise).

Dismissed.

November 3, 2008

Wolf in Sheep's Clothing

All that bitching about not having a baby and I neglected to mention how my "stand-in baby" - my dog Luna - is benefiting from my raging maternal instincts. Actually, some of you might say she wasn't "benefiting" at all, but rather suffering immense humiliation under my pathetic attempt have some sort of child-ish Halloween without a child. But you would be wrong.

As I mentioned in my comment on Mimi's most recent post, Halloween allows us the freedom to be someone else. To behave differently and outside the "norms" of societal expectations. That is why it is my favorite holiday. Every year I go downtown, which is normally the most annoying place on earth (think "bridge and tunnel" crowd for you New Yorkers), and participated in the informal costume parade. This is the one time of year when you can say just about anything you want to just about anyone.

"Hey, you look ridiculous!"
"Oh my God, that is the funniest outfit I've ever seen!"
"Sarah Palin, you SUCK!"

Total, complete freedom. Plus alcohol. Fun, fun.

But this year I have a dog, so I took it to the next level.

Because I live in an extremely dog-friendly part of town, there was of course a dog costume carnival last weekend. I ask you, how could I not participate?

Actually, the dog costume idea came before I even knew such a carnival existed. But I would have taken Luna out in public just for the hell of it anyway.

Because she is a mutt, she looks like lots of breeds depending on the day. But one I frequently hear is that she looks like a coyote, a fox or a wolf. What better costume than "A Wolf in Sheep's Clothing?"

I had the vision in my head but no idea how to execute it. Luckily I found the perfect thing at JoAnne's Fabrics, organic bamboo fiber that you can pull off in pieces, bunch into a ball and easily glue right onto a cotton t-shirt with spray adhesive. I did just that and created a little headpiece also. When I put the whole ensemble on her I couldn't believe how absolutely perfect it looked.

I was hoping my friend Mendoza Line would come with me to the carnival since she is as animal crazy as I am. But she wasn't feeling up to it so I dragged along Wine Guy and my mom, none of us knowing what to expect.

When we got there, I took Luna out of the car and Wine Guy and I dressed her. I was simply not prepared for the reaction we were going to get when we walked down the block and into the street fair.

We were the center of attention. People pointing, laughing, asking me questions. I instantly couldn't find Wine Guy or my mom and found myself trying to take on the crowd on my own. Then a photographer from the local daily paper started taking pictures (we didn't make the cut, but we did show up in the paper's online video of the event) and a German TV crew started interviewing me.

Apparently the costume was very convincing. So much so that one lady came up to me and tentatively asked, "What's wrong with your sheep?" I had to tell her, "Uh, it's a dog lady."

Thank God Luna is cool as a cucumber because if she had been acting up I would have not been able to handle the craziness. In fact, she is probably giving me a very wrong impression of what having a child would be like since she never once "complained" or made a fuss over wearing a sheep's outfit for five straight hours.

It took most of the afternoon for us to take part in the parade and find out that we won a prize for best "incognito" costume. A certificate and $5 gift certificate to a local ice cream shop. Was it worth it? Considering the fact that I've looked at the pictures every single day since and shown them to everyone I know, hell yes. Will I do it next year? Do you even have to ask?


*Note that Luna is smiling directly at the camera. A star is born.


Dismissed.

October 29, 2008

Tick, Tock Maternal Clock

Last Halloween I said I would dress up as a Maternal Clock. This was after dressing as “Always the Bridesmaid” last year (photo at link above), and an “Old Maid” the year before. Detect a theme here?

I try to make light out of whatever emotional state I might be in. It helps make it more tolerable. So, yes, most of my emotional energy over the last few years has been geared towards finding my future husband. As evidenced by this blog and my previous year’s costumes, I have been able to find some humor in this journey. The ridiculousness of online dating, the miscommunications with guys you just met, the commiseration with other women all going through the same thing. It’s so over-the-top sometimes that you have no choice but to laugh.

But as each year ticks by, I am finding that my sense of humor related to one aspect of “singleness” is quickly waning - Having A Baby. Actually, at this point I can pretty much say I find nothing funny about it at all. Last year I was able to turn being mistaken as the mother of my friend's baby as something worth a giggle. This year, I can guarantee you that the baby wouldn't be the only one ending up crying in public.

When I turned 35 last December it was like someone removed whatever cotton was in my ears that blocked me from hearing the medical term “Advanced Maternal Age.” Now it’s everywhere and I wince every time I hear it. Apparently once you hit 35, that is what you are in the eyes of the reproductive medical world - nothing but an aging babymaking machine that should probably be put out to pasture before it starts malfunctioning and creating babies with horrible genetic problems. (Is anyone else out there getting this message??)

Yet my clock still ticks -- faster and harder. But instead of having a family someday being a wonderful thing to look forward to, it is starting to feel more like outright panic.

And it doesn’t help that so many of my friends and family are expecting their first or even second babies over the next few months. At this very moment I have two baby blanket knitting projects in the works and, if I had more hands and a contingent of child laborers in my living room, I could conceivably be working on three more. And when I take my knitting in public, which I often do, it is inevitable that someone will ask, “Are you knitting that for yourself?” as they eye my belly trying to see if I’m pregnant. My heart sinks just a little when I have to tell them that no, it’s for a friend who’s expecting.

Of course I'm happy for my friends and can't wait to see them become mothers. That isn’t even an issue. But with every “I’m pregnant!” email, comes a pang of sadness and a little panic. When will it be my turn???

And of course Wine Guy doesn’t get it. If I show any emotional reaction to this kind of news, I can see he gets visibly upset. And not for the same reason – obviously. In one fight or another on the issue, he has told me that I’m bitter. I’m sorry but I am repulsed by that word. It implies that my hopeful desire to have a baby and a family is nothing more than negative emptiness. But isn’t that only the case if he doesn’t also want to have a baby at sometime in the near-ish future? Well, you see where my mind goes on that issue…hence the fight that quickly follows (he denies that by the way).

But I am not bitter. Perhaps I am envious of my friends. That’s not wrong to say is it? I’m happy for them and I want the same. What’s wrong with wanting?

And to be honest, if I were 26 years old, I would enjoy my baby fantasies and relish my freedom today. But I am not 26 and my Advanced Maternal Age will eventually become just Age. It’s not a matter of opinion or preference. And it’s not something I find particularly amusing.

Needless to say, I will not be donning a clever Maternal Clock costume for Halloween this year. Instead my costume brainstorming consisted of me simply looking around my living room until my eyes landed on the Lucky Cat perched on the shelf. And Wine Guy is dressing as the houseplant that sits next to it. It’s funny I guess in that our costumes are so mundane, so everyday. Just like life I suppose. But I’m trying really hard to maintain that sense of excited hope for what might come in the next few years – hopefully in the form of a baby. Advanced Maternal Age – could you back off just a little longer, please?

Dismissed.

October 22, 2008

Word Art Tells All

Sometimes you can find meaning or insight through pure randomness. That's why I love the website wordle.net (but beware: it could suck you in forever).

After one year and eight months of blogging about my personal life, I find this randomly generated Word Art --
based solely on the words I've typed here -- oddly beautiful.

Check it out here
or below.

How does this sum me up? I'll have to stare at it awhile and ponder. Hm.
Thoughts?

Dismissed.

October 9, 2008

Dogs and Dating

So if Wine Guy and I were to break up, I guess I would still have a boyfriend in my dog. Actually, I guess that would make her my lesbian lover. Talk about a lifestyle change. Meanwhile, enjoy this video about dogs and dating that inspired such thoughts.



Dismissed.

October 2, 2008

Doggie Valedictorian

I normally only write when I have something specific to say, but I can't stand knowing that such an negative-sounding post is still "headlining" my blog (see previous post for a real downer). So I am here purely to write something - anything - to bury it a little. Actually, I'm here to tell you that Mimi was right, I was definitely PMSing. I hate that excuse as much as you, but sometimes it really is true.

Not that there aren't problems. But I always seem to forget that EVERY relationship has problems. I am somehow very good at convincing myself that everyone else is perfectly happy in their relationships and because Wine Guy and I have some bad days (sometimes a few in a row), we are one big train wreck. Usually it takes opening up to some freinds, or even just listening to other's stories, to remind me that this is some ridiculous fiction I've created in my head. No matter how many times I have this realization though, I always manage to forget it. Oh well, better late then never. Again.

So I'm here to say that things are much better these days. However, Wine Guy and I are both well aware of the areas we need to work on and we seem willing to do the work to get there. That's about all you can ask for.

I will also tell you that we are one week away from our dog's "graduation" from obedience school. She has been a star student, just like her geeky mom. And of course I like to think that everyone in class wishes they had a perfect little mutt like Luna. She's learned every trick they could teach us and I couldn't be happier watching Wine Guy practicing with her at home. As much as he bitches and moans about her during his ceaseless teasing, he obviously loves her and is willing to do what it takes to make her a happy pet. I like to think that means he'll do the same for me and what will hopefully become our family.

And every once in a while we have these moments when I realize, holy shit, we ARE a family. We have our own language. Our own inside jokes. Our own rituals. Just the three of us.

Last night Wine Guy was teasing the dog by throwing a light blanket over her and watching her try to get out. Of course I protested the whole time telling him to stop. Eventually he threw the blanket over the dog and me, and then climbed under himself. There we were, the three of us huddled under the blanket, snuggling and laughing, showing Luna that it's not so bad under the blanket after all. I think, my friends, that is a family. Right?

And then he ruins it by telling me (for the 4th time in the last hour) the joke he insists he's going to tell at dog graduation next week when he thanks the instructors. It goes something like this, "I want to thank you both. I can't tell you how long I've always wanted a bitch who will go down on command."

Sigh. We can't have it all I guess.

Dismissed.

September 24, 2008

Relationship Fail

Do any of you check out Fail Blog? It's one of my favorite daily stops. Always good for a laugh, usually at someone else's expense. But I'm sure when it's you looking like an ass on public display, it's hardly funny.

That's how I'll feel if my relationship with Wine Guy goes to shit. And it just might if this little downward spiral keeps picking up steam. Hopefully it won't. Hopefully we'll get past whatever "this" is. But it sucks and it will take time and effort. I guess every relationship does. But sometimes my baggage gets really heavy.

For my friends - and my mom - who are reading this. Don't panic. Don't call asking "what happened?" I'm just tearful, upset and sitting at my computer at 12:15am - probably the last place I should be right now. I should probably just sleep it all off and wake up to another sunny fucking day in San Diego, birds chirping and all that crap. Here's hoping.

So much for "loving in the now," huh? What did that last...a whole 24 hours?

Do you think I can blame Bush, McCain and that goddamn Sarah Palin for my bleak mood? I say yes.

Dismissed.

September 20, 2008

Excrement and Phantoms

That's it, I can't take it anymore. Is the universe trying to tell me something? Or is it just fucking with me? In the last week alone, FOUR Exes have resurfaced in some form in my life. Three of them through Facebook and one of my own masochistic doing. Two of them are now married with at least one child, and the other two are in relationships.

Combine that with the ongoing Ex sag in my own relationship with Only Child and Ex-Wine Gal, and my life now feels like one big nostalgia factory.

I am choosing - at this very moment, I just decided - to take this as a sign that looking back is a waste of time. And while I'm at it, let's add that looking forward (relationshipwise) isn't too great a move either. It's the NOW that matters. And I can pretty honestly admit that I've been tainting my NOW relationship with Wine Guy will all sorts so excrement from the past and phantom wishes for the future.

I resolve, upon my return home this afternoon (I am in the South for work and very homesick), to Love in the Now. To give Wine Guy the best of me, not the mournful, anxiety-ridden me who focuses on the past and the future, respectively. I vow to give him the me that he fell in love with in the first place. I bet he misses that girl. I know I do.

I realize I sound like a self-help book right now. But there's a reason that they sell so well. At least I am writing my own, in a way. So perhaps you too can save yourself the Oprah Book Club money and feel free to follow my lead. Love in the Now people.

I wonder how long this will last? Oh no...that's futuretalk. Shit, this is gonna be hard.

Dismissed.

September 18, 2008

BWE

BWE - Blogging While Emotional. I don't recommend it.

The last entry I wrote falls under that category. I'm away on a work trip, feeling homesick and made the mistake of writing what I was feeling mere minutes after learning of an Ex's happy moving on. I'm sure you can relate.

But of course I realize now that my last post came off so....sad. I promise, things with Wine Guy are hunky dory (for the most part). We are chugging along in the direction I would like (and have made my wishes pretty clear over the last year and a half). Honestly, if it moved any faster, it might be too fast. I just get impatient sometimes and on occasion use this blog to vent. Of course, that then causes you all to think things are going awry, or that I'm a whiny brat (sometimes true), or - the reason for this post - causes my mom to call fretting about my "beating myself up." Sorry mom.

Back to work. Sushi for lunch! One of the few benefits of work travel.

Dismissed.

September 16, 2008

Step 1

They say the first step is to accept that you have a problem. So here I am. Accepting it.

I am the abnormal one. Not them. Not him. Not you. OK, maybe you. But, definitely me too.

All of the Ex talk lately got me thinking about a few of my own. Well, aside from Only Child and Naval A-Hole, the rest of them are just minor footnotes. But they are Exes nonetheless. One guy in particular, Allman, always pops up fondly in my memories. I wrote about him here.

He was a fundamentally sweet person. Smart too. But he hid that from most people beneath his long, blonde hair, porkchop side burns, goatee, and a constant haze of pot smoke. For the 20-year-old me screwed up me, he was just what I was looking for. We had a unique bond, probably because we both lost our fathers at a young age. I enjoyed his calm, mellowness (likely pot-induced). It helped take the edge off my still untreated anxiety and depression. I fed off of it actually.

But a relationship of any consequence we did not have. He was a blank wall against which I could throw all my bullshit, and it would just slide down and fall to the floor with little consequence. And yet we had affection for one another. Simple, sweet affection. Our relationship was not all that sexual – more sweetness – and no one else really understood. I liked that. It made it feel a lot more special than it really was.

I’ve always kind of wondered what happened to him. Last I heard he moved back to his rural hometown in California and was playing guitar all day in a house he shared with a bunch of other slacker/hippies. When you asked him what he did for a living he would proudly and succinctly say, “I’m retired.” He was 25.

Ten years later (or about three days ago) I found him on our college alumni site and sent an email just for the hell of it. I just got his reply sitting here in my hotel room (I’m away on business). He is married, with two children and owns his own financial advising company in his hometown. The link he sent me to his website included a picture of him and his Leave It To Beaver-appearing family. He’s got short hair (a receding hairline actually) and looks and sounds happy and normal. Oh my God.

That seals it. It’s me. I’m the abnormal one. It’s one thing to see your well-adjusted Exes make these steps. Fine, I expected that. But it is now official that all those other Exes that I thought were at least a little more fucked up than I was have managed to pull off the “normal” life. It feels like I’m the last one standing. So who’s fucked up now?

I know, you are going to hit the comments section to tell me that “normal” is relative. That life is not a competition. That just because you are married and/or have children doesn’t mean you are happy, normal and well adjusted. Blah, blah. You’re probably right. But the fact is that this is what I keep telling myself I want out of life. Not a fancy career. Not fame. Not a shrine in my honor. A family.

And I still don’t have it. I get close, or I find imposters (and yes I’m increasingly paranoid that Wine Guy is yet another imposter leading me down the primrose path). But it never actually happens. I’m sure I have SOMETHING to do with that.

Whatever fucked up thing I’m doing is putting me in this position of not getting what I supposedly want.

Maybe I don’t want it but I’m too fucked up to notice?
Or maybe I do want it but I’m so fucked up that I only pick guys that won’t give it to me?
Or maybe I really do want it but I’m so fucked up that the perfectly normal guys I pick get scared off?

Get it? It’s me.

Not Allman. Not Only Child. Not Naval A-Hole (OK, maybe it was Naval A-hole in that scenario). Not any of the other unsuspecting guys that have crossed my fucked up path.

I’m worn out. So I’ve admitted the problem. Now what?

(Yes, yes. The shrink appointment is already on the books for early October. I scheduled it a week or two ago. I must have known something big was coming.)

Dismissed.

September 14, 2008

Worlds Collide - Part II

The worlds have collided and, as is usually the case with things I stress about ahead of time, it wasn't really that big of a deal.

While Wine Guy was at his weekly wine tasting, Only Child came over and we took Luna to the dog park for some playtime. This was where the one "disaster" of the night took place. OC started getting playful with Luna, causing her to get a little too excited. Next thing I knew, OC's favorite shirt had a tear in the shoulder when she jumped up and nipped playfully. Oops.

But don't worry. It got better from there.

We met Wine Guy at his new favorite restaurant (we had of course been there previously with Ex-Wine Gal who recommended it). There was a wait so the boys began the standard chit chat in the lounge area while I rushed the bar, desperately in need of a drink to take the edge off.

The two of them seemed OK. Wine Guy was instantly transformed into his talkative self that always impresses me when we are around new people. I thought Only Child seemed a little nervous, or tired, or something, but that quickly faded. Or my projection of his nervousness faded once I downed my first drink.

We finally got seated, unfortunately at a table just beneath the band that was playing jazz music above us. I hate having to holler to each other across the table. But the conversation between them flowed. As expected, they discussed each other's jobs, photography and wine.

I think with other types of men it would have ended up as some sort of pissing contest. But I was reassured in my taste in "people" as my partners (as opposed to picking obnoxious, competitive men) and found that they both seemed to take note and perhaps appreciate each other's expertise in the various areas.

In fact, they were getting along so well that at one point they began joking about some of my "issues" they were both familiar with. They were turning on me. I nipped that one in the bud quickly. "Uh, this is not about ME, people." Yeah, subtle.

Wine Guy brought a bottle of wine he purchased earlier at the wine tasting. Guess who recommended it? You bet. Ex-Wine Gal, who works at the wine shop. And, of course, it was a beautiful wine.

The food was excellent and Only Child was very excited about the place. So much so that he said he wants to go back, this time with his girlfriend. We made sure to invite her to this dinner (I had only met her once before but in a very crowded setting), but she couldn't make it and I believe was not happy with us holding this outing without her. If only she knew what Ex issues I have to deal with. She has it SO much better. Puh-leaze.

So, yes. It was all so civilized and pleasant. We all agreed to arrange another outing, this time as a foursome so OC's girlfriend could come along. Hopefully that will make her feel better and realize I am hardly a threat.

On the way home, Wine Guy said he thought OC was really nice and that he clearly "seems like an artist" trapped in a salesman's job. A very true observation.

When I called OC the next day to get his feedback, he said that WG seemed nice but that I "seemed really nervous." Also a very true observation.

So I think I can put that Ex baby to bed. But WG and I are still working on our other Ex situation. I know my pouting and whining about being an outsider with them has only made him tense and nervous. And I'm sure Ex-Wine Gal is not convinced taht I dislike her. Which I don't. So I've got a boyfriend who feels like he's walking on egg shells and his Ex, basically his very good friend, who likely feels rejected by me despite her considerate and truthful "I'm just a friend" flagwaving.

So am I the bad guy in this scenario? I'm starting to think so.

Dismissed.

September 10, 2008

Worlds Collide

Hard to believe it, but I’ve been going out with Wine Guy for almost a year and a half and he and Only Child have yet to meet. Granted, I don’t see OC all that much and we only talk every month or so, but meeting and moving in with Wine Guy is the first major development in my life that he hasn’t had any part in since we first met in 1999, and it feels kind of strange.

Wine Guy and I are “unconventional” when it comes to our exes. I know people cringe when they hear how he and I have Ex-Wine Gal over for dinner just about every week. Or how she regularly calls him for career advice, or how they’ll gab on and on and on and on (infinity) about wine to the point where I’m hungover just listening to them.

Yes, I get jealous, but not romantically. Their relationship was more one of friendship than romance, so I have no fear that something would happen with them along those lines. My jealousy has actually only emerged since we moved in together and it revolves around what they have in common (gourmet food and wine) and how I feel like an outsider when they talk about it. Not that I don’t enjoy good food and wine. I just refuse to dedicate excessive amounts of brain space to all theknitty gritty details required to make one a “foodie” versus a regular run-of-the-mill face-stuffer like me.

And, yes, I do get kind of pissed when Wine Guy excitedly calls me asking if I want to go to dinner tonight at the latest new restaurant with him and Ex-Wine Gal. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy her company and she is nice as can be. And I know he probablywouldn’t go if I said I couldn’t make it – he wants to experience it with me. What pisses me off is that I know that he wants to go so badly because she suggested it - he values her opinion on these matters that much. But if I had asked him to go to that very same place without any prodding from Ex, I can almost guarantee you that WG would say, “well, I’d rather work tonight,” or “I don’t want to spend the money.” But because she has an opinion about food that he respects, he jumps on it with rare enthusiasm.

That. Pisses. Me. Off.

And I’m not anyone you want to be around when I 'm pissed off. I sulk. I make snide comments. I zone out of the conversation. I take an extra long time in the bathroom. In general, I’m an immature bitch. Nobody wins.

And, yes, this is causing Wine Guy and me the tension you would expect. See why I haven’t written much lately? Who wants to hear about these lame problems? Okay, maybe you do. But, see, Ex-Wine Gal reads this blog from time to time and I haven’t wanted to put my feelings on this matter out there for her consideration. But to hell with it. She’s not the one I have the problem with anyway.

When it comes to Only Child, Wine guy seems 100% uninterested. From what I understand about men, they generally want nothing to do with knowledge about their girlfriend’s past, while women want to gather every piece of information they possibly can to understand what level of competition (real or imagined) they are up against. Did you say I love you to her? How often did you have sex? Why did you break up? All those fun little details.

Whether or not he wants to hear it, I tend to bring up Only Child occasionally anyway. Not to bother him really but because, well, we were together for 6 years so there is bound to be a relevant story involving him every so often. Why should I refrain from sharing it just because of the Ex Factor?

When I do get the chance to see Only Child, we usually meet for dinner, usually on a night that Wine Guy is busy. But I haven’t seen him since we moved in together and am eager forOC to see the new place, meet the new dog, see our old cat (AppleButt, who lived with OC and me for awhile before I moved out) and generally understand my life as it is now. Just like I want all my friends to do. But since it’s not just MY place but OUR place to show, I realize the time for Wine Guy and Only Child to meet is, indeed , now.

Tonight, my friends, my worlds collide.

My gut has always told me that they will get along. Possibly even like each other. They are both smart, into photography (and all the gadgetry that goes along with it), like to talk about politics (soapboxes included), and enjoy food and wine (thoughOC is not as verbal about it). So on paper they should gel. But the paper doesn ’t record all that other mushy stuff in between likes and dislikes, so who the hell knows what kind of mess we’ll end up with. Actually, I’m sure it will be civil, perhaps enjoyable. But God, I hope either (or both) of them don’t end up thinking, “What the hell was she thinking falling in love with him?”

Dismissed.

August 28, 2008

Snakes and Snails....

Tow boys are talking about computers upstairs. I was able to turn up the volume long enough to enjoy the Obama speech, but it's over now and they're still talking. And they won't stop. I'd probably join them except I don't understand a word they are saying. So now I'm stuck down in the office with Luna and the cats, killing time on the actual machine rather than listening to them talk about it.

What is it with men and their fondness for excruciating detail, processes and technical paraphernalia? Has anyone else noticed this? For some men it's baseball statistics, tool collecting and the stock market. For others, it's movie quotes (usually Caddyshack), maps, and knowledge of wine. It doesn't matter what it is, really; it's all the same. Men collecting data, information, knowledge just for the sake of having it and maybe showing it off. I know it doesn't seem like a fantasy baseball-loving guy with a full workshop in his garage has all that much in common with a map-collecting guy with a cellar full of wine he can talk about in great detail. But they have a lot more in common than you think. The y chromosome to start with.

I know women with shades of this quality. But never through to the bone the way I've seen it with men. Or maybe it's just me. Maybe I'm just too lazy to delve that deeply into any subject. Sure, I write - but only on a little blog every week or so. Sure, I knit-- but I'm not aiming for much beyond a hat or a blanket. Sure, I like wine-- but only enough to know that too much red gives me a headache. I always say that I'd rather not dedicate that much brain space to trivia. But I sure do love it that Wine Guy has the encyclopedic knowledge of wine, astrology, religion, and all the other things I'm so proud he knows so much about.

What do you guys think?

August 23, 2008

Stockholm Syndrome

I love hard. That's the best way I can think to say it. With love (for me), comes need. With need (for me again), comes a strange mix of confidence and insecurity. I feel confident to be my goofy, childish self while, at the same time, am in constant fear that the object of my love will disappear.

I suppose I am quick to give up the goofy, childish part of me (plenty of people I don't "Love" know this about me). But that fearful insecurity part? I save that for the special few. Aren't they lucky?

Within all that goofy, childish neediness is my secret inner Big Sister. The one that never got to express herself because she was stuck in the role as the youngest sibling. You know, that person who gets teased, cajoled, annoyed and generally messed with - all the while being slightly worshipful of her torturer. I admit it. Sometimes I feel comfortable enough to exercise those pent up Big Sister muscles with those that I love - people and pets.

Anyone who has ever seen me "love hard" on my cat AppleButt knows what I'm talking about first hand. I absolutely, madly love my cat. With that love comes my unrealistic confidence that she loves me for being me, so I can do anything I want to her.

And let's not forget the foreboding fear that she will just not come home one day. A coyote, a thief, or even just old age. Anything could get her. And I would be devastated.

So when I want to show my love, I do it so expressively, so desperately that I'm sure she hates every second of it. I hold her, cradle her, raise her in the air and declare my feelings. Kiss her belly, make her dance. All the stuff you can imagine a cat detesting.

See our holiday cards from the last two years below if you don't believe me (the backstory on that is here):










But AppleButt doesn't really fight my annoying attentions; and if you've ever had a cat, you should know that they generally don't put up with crap if they don't want to. A quick flick of the claw and a wiggly squirm and they are outta there. But not AppleButt. She takes it in with a calm stare that I insist to anyone looking on, who is invariably telling me to leave her the hell alone, "But she loves it. She loves me." And I begin again.

It wasn't until this happened with Wine Guy for the first time that I was introduced to another possibility. This was when Wine Guy replied to my "But she loves me" comment with this little joking retort, "She has to put up with it. She's basically your hostage. It's not love...it's Stockholm Syndrome."

I adopted AbbleButt when she was 2 months old. She knows nothing else but me. I am, as far as she knows, her entire world. Without me - no food, no shelter. So the option to just take off and find a better situation just wouldn't enter her mind. I've convinced her that I am, in fact, good for her. After a while, she starts to believe it and, voila - Stockholm Syndrome.

But I quickly put that thought out of my mind by dismissing Wine Guy's joke as just that - a silly joke. It remained out of my mind until recently - when we got the dog.

As many of you know, I've wanted a dog ferociously for years. So if you think I love hard on AppleButt, just wait until you see how I love on Luna. It was this hard loving that lead to Wine Guy's most recent Stockholm Syndrome reference.

Except this time I didn't dismiss it. In fact, I took it in quite deeply. He probably figured that out when I turned to look at him and said, "Oh my God. What if you don't love me. What if I'm really holding you hostage in this relationship and you've just become so used to it that you think it must be love?"

We both laughed at the idea. Ha, ha. What a silly joke. But that doesn't mean that I laughed it off. Oh no. I can already tell that my fearful side is just gonna let that one simmer for awhile. I suspect the thought will rear its ugly head again soon. And when that happens, I'm pretty sure I won't be laughing.

Better sign off now. Wine Guy is grilling some tasty-smelling chicken and I think it's almost done. (Oh, didn't I tell you that a good meal far outweighs my goofy, childish neediness?)

Dismissed.

August 11, 2008

Short Attention Span Blogging

It seems like very 5 minutes there is some new website that everyone is joining so they can connect, connect, connect to everyone they know, used to know, or might know in the future. Friendster (remember that? or Catster for that matter), MySpace (so last year), Facebook (I suspect on it's way out), Twitter (so right now, or at least it is for me since I just figured out what the hell it is). Perhaps it's because I am often looking to kill time at work, but I end up succumbing to the hype and signing up for the next big thing. Only to let it fade away a few months later. I suspect I am not alone.

But when someone explained to me that Twitter is basically just teeny, tiny little blogs (I believe they used the term "micro-blogging"), I was intrigued. As many of you know from reading my blog, I tend to go long. Sometimes loooooooong. I accept that my writing is really not web-friendly in that it doesn't cater to short attention spans, but I figure that if anyone enjoys my "voice" and what I have to say, they'll stick around and take a little time to read it. If not, I have fun writing it anyway and, as I've said before, writing (and editing) help me get a handle on what is really going on versus what my overactive, slightly paranoid mind tries to convince me is going on (see this entry if you want to know more).

Because I tend to go long, I write less frequently than I would like. It takes a lot of energy to assemble my thoughts and hopefully come up with a post that has some sort of beginning, middle and end (I was a film major so I like structured stories). And then I feel bad when too much time has passed between entries. Especially when life goes by and some entertaining little things happen along the way that probably warrant a post, but usually don't get one.

So I decided to use Twitter as a way to send you all little micro-blog updates when I feel like it. Call me lazy or whatever, but I figure it's one more distraction to keep me from working, and maybe you guys won't feel like I've abandoned the blog if I don't write for a week or two. We'll see.

So feel free to follow me on Twitter, or just come back here and check out the "Updates From the Battlefield" on the top right. God forbid we not stay connected!

Dismissed.

August 3, 2008

It's a Girl!

Dear Friends and Readers,
Dating Trooper and Wine Guy are proud to announce the arrival of their newest illegitimate family member, Luna (aka Lunabelle, Lunatic, Moonbeam).







Name: Luna (previously called Myka)
Age: Approximately 3
Size: Medium, 35 pounds
Born in: Tijuana, Mexico
Adoption Date: Friday, July 25, 2008
Adopted From: Local rescue group


Luna's Story: In December 2007, a passerby in Tijuana spotted someone stuff seven puppies into a garbage bag and leave them in a dumpster. Their mother was also thrown out on the street. The passerby contacted a local rescue group who cared for the pups and their mom until they could be sent over the border for potential adoption. The veterinarian's intake report stated that the mother was covered in mange and extremely malnourished, but that she was "sweet" and "listens well." It also noted her skills as "a good mom!" (exclamation point from original text).

The mother (now called Myka by her rescuers) and two of her pups were brought to San Diego in January 2008. Four months later they were transferred to another rescue group that would hopefully have better luck finding them homes (her other five pups remain in Mexico, awaiting their turn to cross the border). Myka's two puppies went to a nearby foster home and Myka stayed with the rescue group coordinator and her other eight rescue dogs (not to mention five of her own dogs). She got along pretty well there, playing with her rotating pack and enjoying the security of a comfortable bed and a daily meal.

That all changed in July 2008 when Myka and her foster family were brought to a San Diego dog park to meet a couple who thought they might take that next big step in their relationship and adopt a dog together. Yes, that would be us.

I'd like to say I fell in love with Myka right away, but there were a few expectations I first had to put to rest (more on that some other time) before I could see the truth -- that she is the most perfect animal to ever exist on the face of the earth and that she was meant to be mine - er, ours.

Once we made up our minds, we set about finding her a new name - something that connected us to her more than some random name chosen by a relative stranger. Actually, I had no problem with Myka. In fact, the name is very similar to one I had always considered using for my daughter. Call me overly optimistic, but I wasn't quite ready to give up that dream. Not yet anyway.

So we went through many brainstorming sessions and Internet searches trying to find the name that would tell her story. At some point we started joking about her being a "hippie dog" now that she lives in the hippy/beachy part of town. One of us (can't remember who) threw out the most stereotypical hippie name we could think of - Moonbeam. Hah, hah.

But the more we said it aloud, albeit in jest, the more we started to kind of like it -- at least in theory. She is silver, like the moon. She used to roam the dimly lit Tijuana streets at night, scavenging for scraps of food and protecting her fatherless pups from danger. Even after having her pups torn from her teats, she managed to hang on to a sliver of that moonlight. And now that she's safe and sound, that moonlight is allowed to shine. (Yes, I have been mentally dramatizing my dog's "shady past," slowly but surely turning the brief summary of her life I read in her vet records into a film noir/telenovela tale of tough bitch surviving on the streets of TJ. Feel free to send me suggestions for a title to this story, tentatively called Luna of the Night.).

Hopefully you get the name in theory by now. Well, at least Wine Guy and I did. But could I really picture myself at the dog park shouting, "Here, Moonbeam! Sit, Moonbeam! Good girl, Moonbeam!" No, I couldn't.

So we kept thinking and circling the idea of a moon-inspired name. Then it hit me. She's Mexican. She speaks Spanish. Moon in Spanish=Luna. The discussion ended right there; actually, it ended once we agreed, after much insistence from Wine Guy, that her "official" name be Luna Moonbeam. But she only gets called that when she's in trouble.

As you can imagine, the addition of Luna to our household has elicited many blogworthy relationship issues (division of labor, philosophies on discipline, the bedroom exile unintentionally imposed on our cats, who are suddenly the best of friends now that they have a common enemy). But for now I prefer to focus on the wonderful stuff. I'm sure there will be plenty of time to bitch and complain once we all settle in.

You know how new parents tend to act as if their babies are the most beautiful, intelligent, advanced lumps of flesh ever born? That used to bug the shit out of me. But if my behavior and one-track-mind over the last week is any indication, I just may be the worst offender. And I love it.


Dismissed.

July 24, 2008

Chickenheads In The House

I have shocking news. At least it is to me anyway. Many months ago, I announced that I was going to start a hobby that involved patience and learned skill (and wasn't a sport). I'm happy to say that I actually followed through with it. So here I am to announce that, for a better or for worse, I am a knitter.

But before you get too impressed thinking that I am some dedicated, self-taught knitting prodigy, it is important to understand that my continued perseverance with this extremely frustrating hobby - one that I still pretty much suck at - is due entirely to the amazingly diverse group of women who stumbled into what has now become a Tuesday night tradition, only to be missed with an extremely good excuse.

On the surface, it's a tremendous group because of our varying skill levels that lends to everyone helping each other out. First there's Big Sis, whose idea this all was in the first place. Big Sis and I used to be neighbors and quickly became like family. She is just about to turn 50 and is an amazing single mom with two teenage kids. She started knitting only a few weeks before me so, for the most part, we were equally clueless and could struggle together.

A recent addition to the group is Big Sis' good friend Spunky (she is, but I know a better name will come to me soon - it will have to do for now), also just about 50 and married with two teenage sons. Spunky came into the group as a new knitter, but quickly remembered the knitting skills her grandmother had apparently taught her in her youth. No fair.

Then there's Big Sis' niece Miss Sunshine, a more experienced knitter who has the ultra cheerful demeanor of a kindergarten teacher rooting her slowest student on as she learns to tie her shoe. "Great job! You did it! You are such an expert knitter!" Uh, it was a slipknot, but OK. I'll take the compliment.

About the same skill level as Miss Sunshine is her coworker Rugby, a sporty and beautiful newlywed in her mid-30s who quietly turns out baby blanket after baby blanket as gifts for her clearly overly fertile friends. Rugby is far less talkative then the rest of us, but she makes her presence known with her occasional deadpan one-liners that elicit raucous laughter from the rest of us.

And last but not least, my personal heroine, Crafty, a superior knitter who has saved me from every knitting disaster I've managed to get myself into (of which there are many). Crafty is a high school friend of Miss Sunshine's who strolls into knitting group each week displaying another project just started or half-done (I've quickly learned that truly obsessed knitters rarely finish their work. The thrill is all in starting something new). Sweaters, shrugs, gloves, even Croc-like sandals that she trimmed with crochet designs. She never ceases to amaze.

At first I wondered why the hell Crafty even wanted to come to knitting night since she basically gets interrupted every five seconds with a whiny voice (usually me) saying "Craaaffffttty.....help! I messed up again!" She grabs the bungled mess out of your hands and five minutes later gives it back, perfect and ready to go. Problem solved. But after a few months I began to realize that Crafty knits every single day of her life; she comes to knitting night to escape her projects, socialize and take pride in our learning curve.

So between the six of us, we've got just about every skill level covered and we are constantly tapping each other for ideas, assistance, patterns and, most often, reassurance. The other night I was almost apoplectic over a pair of socks I had been peer pressured into starting (FYI, just buy them. It will save you years off your life). I had no other projects in the hopper so my choice was just to continue struggling with socks that were clearly only going to fit me when I was 80 and weighted down with arthritic cankles, or sit and watch everyone else work while I fumed.

Sensing my frustration (perhaps it was my repeated exclamations of "Fuck" and "I suck"), the group quickly got into rescue mode, insisting that I just needed to put that project on hold and start another until I was ready to try again. In mid pout, I was not in a very proactive mood. So the next thing I knew, the group had helped me pick out a pattern, rummage through my yarn to find something that would work, and sort through their needle collections to find me the right size so I could begin something right then and there. Within the hour I was knitting and purling away, inspired by the thought of the hat I would soon have, but likely never wear here in Southern California.

Beyond the skill levels and emotional support (not to mention the wine and always delicious desserts), the group also provides an amazing spectrum of generational differences. Here is a scene from a recent Tuesday:

20-something who came of age in the early 90s: "I've had sex with five different guys" [clearly implying this is a lot]
50-something: "Girl, that was one weekend for me in the 70s!"

Or how about this?
50-something (obviously not the one from before): "I didn't have sex with a lot of guys when I was younger. I guess I had low self esteem."
30-something: "That's exactly why you should have sex!"

Or let's try this one.
Imagine a group of women knitting, chatting and sipping chilled white wine while a cool ocean breeze wafts in from the wide-open screen door. Suddenly, a glistening 50-something sitting closest to the door leans back and begins fanning herself with one of her photocopied knitting patterns. "Oh man. Hot flash." The two 50-somethings exchange knowing glances. The rest of us just shrug, knowing that someday we'll understand.

But forget generational differences. Let's talk gender. Most nights we hold knitting group at Big Sis' house, where her teenage daughter will occasionally join us when she's not feeling too moody. But a few weeks ago we changed venues to give my new place a try. I warned Wine Guy and he was prepared to spend most of the evening downstairs in the office in self-imposed exile (after saying hello and grabbing some food of course). At one point I ventured down to check on him. He looked just a bit confused. "Are you OK?" I asked. He replied, "Yes but, I don't understand how you can all talk at the same time?"

That got quite a few laughs when I went back upstairs.

Chickenheads. I've heard Wine Guy use the term before to refer to groups of women when they get together and start talking, talking, talking. Bock, bock, bock, bock!

Even if he is right (he is, sometimes on my way home from knitting night my head hurts form the nonstop chatter), I don't care. We Chickenheads find our Tuesday night ritual to be the highlight of our week. So there.

And if you are at all interested, here are two of the projects I've completed with the support of my knitting Chickenheads (a hat and felted purse - did you know felt is just wool that got wet?? I didn't!). I have yet to use either of them for anything beyond whipping out of my knitting bag to show people and say, "Can you believe I made this? Me neither!" When was the last time you were that proud of something you did?




Dismissed.

July 20, 2008

It Ain't Pretty But It Feels Good....

As much as I hate to admit it, I have become one of them. One of those girls who dives in to her boyfriend's hobby headfirst. So now instead of sleeping in on Saturday mornings and debating where to get breakfast, Wine Guy and I are decked out in spandex padded shorts, bright jerseys and dorky helmets, ready to cycle til we drop.

I will say that I went in to this willingly, even though I spent much of the last 10 years making fun of the annoying "pack" road bikers who take up way too much of the road along Pacific Coast Highway, nearly blinding me with their neon, fake-sponsored jerseys.

Why the change of heart? Absolute necessity.

If you recall, I had pretty major orthopedic surgery last January and, believe it or not, am only really able to start exercising now. I used to be a pretty athletic person and played several vigorous tennis matches a week. This helped me to fight off the mid-30s weight gain, something I am more than entitled too based upon my terrible eating habits. But take out that exercise and add on even more eating due to boredom and you have, well, a bit of a weight issue.

Since I'm still not fully recovered, high-impact sports aren't really an option just yet. I started swimming laps, but I find that to be quite possibly the most boring activity on the planet. If I can't have a game I'm trying to win, at least give me something interesting to look at to keep my mind busy. Which leads me to why I hate the gym. Closed-captioned CNN (or God forbid Fox News) is not my idea of something interesting to look at, and with the beautiful weather here in San Diego, it seems ludicrous to be cooped up in a gym pedalling away on a fake bike.

Last year Wine Guy suggested that we ride bikes together. He was already pretty into it and had all the gear for himself, but he found it hard to get motivated to go for rides on his own. But I was not prepared to fork out $1000+ for all the equipment the sport requires. And besides, I was fully in love with tennis.

But six months of ass-spreading changed all that. All of a sudden, a ride on a bike sounded like the best thing in the world.

So we hit the bike shop and the next thing I knew Wine Guy and the hot Swedish salesman Jonas picked out everything I needed, speaking a language I barely understood. At some point I had to ask, "Is someone going to show me how to use the gears at least?" I was in over my head. But I walked out of there with a perfect bike, plus all the paraphernalia that makes biking such an appealing sport to men (who love anything that requires a lot of accessories and fine-tuning).

We went for our first ride together that same afternoon and within an hour we had explored an area neither of us had been before and managed to thoroughly exhaust our muscles in a way that felt terrific. I met up with some friends later that night and, even though I had showered and changed, one of them said that I looked terrific, almost glowing. He could tell that something was different with me. Amazingly, that difference was vigorous exercise.

said ,"Look at me, I must be good because my clothes are authentic." I settled on a two-tone green jersey from The following week, Wine Guy came with me back to the bike shop to get my custom fitting (which makes all the difference in how the bike feels, I highly recommend it). We knew we were going for a ride the next morning and, since my ass was still sore from our first ride earlier in the week, we decided to stop at REI and get some padded bike shorts. Have you ever tried those on before? Oh my God. I felt like I was wearing a badly shaped diaper. A very strange sensation. But not as strange as the biking jersey Wine Guy forced me to try on.

I was purely opposed to any jersey that screamed, "poser biker girl" - so any phony "sponsor" logos or fluorescent colors were out of the question. But I managed to find a two-tone green one that wasn't terribly ugly but was bright enough to hopefully keep San Diego's terrible drivers from knocking me off the road.

So there we were yesterday morning, decked out in spandex -not matching in pattern or color but certainly in spirit - lugging our bikes down the front steps. Of course our new neighbor picks that moment to come home, smiling politely as he squeezes past us. I couldn't help but comment to WG as he passed, "Oh, I feel a kind of silly in these clothes." It couldn't have been more obvious that the comment was really directed at the neighbor.

But the ride was amazing and, again, it felt wonderful to move my body and build up my strength. Plus, I don't often drop $1000+ and I am determined to love this sport... even if I hate it.

So if you happen to pass that semi-matching bike riding couple on the side of the road, try to resist the urge to mock them. I'd really appreciate it.

Dismissed.

July 9, 2008

Trade Show Trollop

I want an engagement ring. And not for the reason you're probably thinking. Well, that reason too, but that's not why I am in desperate need of one at this very moment.

I am in Washington DC for a conference/tradeshow and am being subjected to many hours of sitting in an overly air-conditioned ballroom at my booth (I'm a vendor) chatting up potential clients. Or to put it more bluntly, I'm a sitting duck.

Some of you may recall my post from this very same conference one year ago in yet another humid big city. I wrote about conference flirtations also, but unfortunately had to take the post down because it apparently offended the person I wrote about (for reasons I still don't udnerstand-and never will since she now doesn't speak to me. Sigh.) Anyway, the point of that entry was about how you can use harmless flirting to feel good about yourself and get heavy things lifted when you need it - as is often the case when putting up a booth.

This post is a little different. Probably because I came alone this year. It's one thing to chat up herds of men when you have a colleague with you. It can even be fun if that colleague is female and lighthearted about the whole thing.

But when you are on your own...well, it feels kind of pathetic. Pathetic that they think they might get anywhere with you. Pathetic that you have to smile and talk to them anyway.

Actually, it's pathetic that I am assuming that they are hitting on me at all. Maybe they are just being friendly with no strings attached? Maybe they really care about what I'm selling?

But if that's the case, why are no women stopping to talk? Granted, this is a technology-related conference so there are more men here than women, but still.

And to make sure you don't think I'm some tradeshow honey rolling around on a shiny car (you were thinking that about me, right?), I try just as hard to charm the ladies as I do the men. But apparently they don't find me as charming. They don't laugh at my jokes, take my sarcastic cues, or respond to my questions about where they're from.

I have to assume that not every man that stops to chat is actually trying to get in my pants. But he is lingering for a reason. There's one thing I know about myself (and the reason why my secret fantasy is to be a bartender) - I'm really good at shooting the shit. Witty banter, sarcastic observations, harmless insults to virtual strangers. These are my skills and perhaps they are skills more appreciated by men. The women just kind of look at me quizzically, take a free pen and move on. But the men generally stick around and, if they're any good, dish right back.

Would you call that flirting? I don't know. But I do know that at the end of tonight's event, none of them asked me to join them for a drink. And there were plenty of opportunities. Part of me was relieved. I didn't have to worry about any awkward situations. But most of me was kind of sad since that meant all I had to look forward to was a lonely stroll around the neighborhood and some Baskin-Robbins before bed.

At one point during the day, after a particularly long booth chat with a guy from Arkansas, I texted Wine Guy: I don't want you to get the wrong idea but I really wish I had an engagement ring on right about now.

There are quite a few ways he could take that. I'll let him decide.

Dismissed.

June 26, 2008

My Lesbian Boyfriend

I went to a concert last night with Wine Guy and I remembered so many things that I forgot to tell you. The problem is, I don't think I can remember them all. Partially because my mind was clouded (in a slightly illegal way), and also because the show was so amazing that after awhile I stopped thinking about all the blog entries I still needed to write and just enjoyed the experience. So I apologize in advance for not being able to possibly recreate the amazing posts I had written in my head while watching/listening to Ani DiFranco's electrifying musical poetry.

First let's get this taken care of. Yes, we went to see Ani DiFranco. And no, I didn't have to drag him. In fact, he's the one who took me. Which leads me to the first thing I realized I forgot to tell you.

I an proud to say that Wine Guy is my lesbian boyfriend. And I have said this to him on many occasions and not once has he objected. It's not that he's a pushover. He is just that comfortable with who he is.

He is not a "guy's guy." Nor has he been emasculated. He's not a "metrosexual" (three black t-shirts to his name, two of which have holes, pretty much make that case for me), and he could give a crap how I decorate, so it's not that he's effeminate either. Hardly.

He's just a PERSON, not a "guy." And since I have never even come close to meeting a man quite like that before, the only thing I have to compare him to is the fantastic women I've come to know and love (platonically) over the years. Except he has a penis. And we get naked. So, in my book, that makes him my lesbian boyfriend. Get it?

Wine Guy's been an Ani fan for years and has seen her countless times in concert. My first show was last spring, which WG also took me to. I enjoyed it but, since we were in that very early impress each other phase - and it was the first time I met a good female friend of his - I spent more of the night trying to make a good impression than I did enjoying the show.

Last night was an entirely different experience for me. First of all, the audience was 90% women, so the vibe was mellow and respectful. Everyone stayed in their seat and just appreciated her performance with the band, reacting to her powerful lyrics (which have evolved perfectly from the angry lesbian songwriter I fondly remember from college to the angry liberal -- married with a baby - today). I can't tell you how many times I wanted to shout, "That's me! She's talking about me!" Except if I did, I suspect every woman around me would say the same thing.

Besides the audience and the performance, the setting was terrific. It was at Humphrey's, a small outdoor venue on San Diego's Shelter Island. So while the music swells, you are treated to cool ocean breezes and a view of the boats in the harbor (plus a bunch of kayakers tied up just outside enjoying a free show). A beautiful night.

Before the show, WG and I were walking around getting "cloudy" and he started telling me about how he remembers staying right there on Shelter Island as a teenager visiting San Diego with his parents (he is from Denver originally). Then he started talking about all these weird connections he's had over his life to San Diego, before he ever moved here a few years ago. Some pretty amazing, "small world" stories. Which lead him to say, " It's like I was meant to come here or something. I wonder what that's all about?"

I don't know about you, but it seemed pretty wonderfully obvious to me.

I turned to him with a little smile, "Maybe it was for me?"

Here's something else I forgot to tell you. Wine Guy is very unromantic. He hates sentimental statements. Such as one I made when we first moved in together that went something like this, "I'm so excited we are starting our lives together."
He rolled his eyes. Yes, it hurt my feelings. But I also know he hates that kind of cheez. No matter how true it may be.

So I was understandably a little tentative when I said this to him; that perhaps his whole life's purpose from his teenage years to now was to get to San Diego, go through a few girlfriends, and meet me -- the love of his life (my words here, not his).

Of course, I didn't say all of that. Just a couple of words accompanied by a little tap on my chest and a knowing smile. At first he laughed. For once, I didn't say anything overly reactive or insecure in response. I just let the moment, and the thought, sink in. I'm glad I did. After his laugh subsided he kind of slowed and said, "Hmm. Maybe." And grabbed my hand.

If that is as romantic as he gets, I think I'll take it.

So many things I am still forgetting to tell you. But I'm sure they'll come to me eventually, so perhaps another time.

Dismissed.

June 19, 2008

Assume the Position

We did it. Our first grown-up, couple purchase. A sofa.

I couldn’t stand the sofa Wine Guy had before. It was very heavy-looking, bulky, velvet (too warm for southern California in my book), and a dark maroon color that, although attractive, just didn’t match my color palette in any way, shape or form (I’m all about the reds). Plus it was technically owned by ex-Wine Gal (I’ve not written much about her but not because she isn’t around. She is, in fact, still quite good friends with Wine Guy and we see her on a very regular basis. Makes for awkwardness at times but overall I like her. Her furniture that used to be “their” furniture? Not so much).

Over the last few weeks, I’ve thrown out comments here and there suggesting it might be time for a new sofa that was “ours,” but he never seemed to bite. That is, until we finally arranged our living room last week and realized that it just wasn’t working.

We originally planned to just browse the furniture district (I use that term loosely. In San Diego the furniture "district" is basically a ghastly road of furniture strip malls) to see what was out there. My priority was comfort and a chaise. His was price and appearance. We both agreed it couldn’t be too overwhelming for the space. In all honesty, I was prepared for battle. He tends to prefer more modern styles and I tend to prefer something you might actually want to sit on after gazing at its beauty.

I was pleasantly surprised to see how quickly we were agreeing on things. In fact, we thought we found the couch pretty early on. A nice, simple microfiber sectional with a chaise. We got a quote, sat on it in a multitude of positions, and almost pulled the trigger. But I took one more sit and finally admitted (out loud thank goodness) that it just felt, well, low–budget. Like it wouldn’t last long, so what was the point? He agreed and we moved on.

Moved on to the most perfect couch in the world.

I am giving myself full credit for spotting it first. It was a tad over our price range but it was everything we wanted. Comfortable, but modern, spacious but didn’t feel huge due to its low profile. It was love at first sight for both of us.

We needed to make sure it fit so we rushed home and were devastated to discover that it was far too large to fit where we had originally intended. But I was not going to roll over that quickly. After some brainstorming, we found an even better furniture arrangement that would accommodate the sofa perfectly and even add to the illusion of having distinct dining and living areas by using the chaise as a sort of room divider.

We called and purchased it over the phone right then and there and spent the next two days saying, “I can’t believe we bought a couch” over and over again.We picked it up on Monday and had it assembled and in place by Monday night. Here's how it looks (if you look closely you will see my cat, AppleButt, making herself quite comfortable):
One big question did loom over this all-too-happy purchase experience. Ex-Wine Gal’s couch. I could tell from the first moment I started hinting that I wanted a different couch that Wine Guy felt a bit touchy about just “dumping” her sofa. Wine Gal is somewhat cash-strapped, so if we sold it, the money should probably go to her. But we didn’t want to go through the time and hassle of selling it for a measly $100, and she certainly couldn’t fit it into her tiny studio apartment. I suggested donating it to Goodwill but that was also met with some reluctance by WG. Finally out of frustration I called him out on it, “So what exactly are we supposed to do with it?! We can’t have two couches here!” That’s when it came out. He feels sad for her. Just like this couch is my first grown-up couple purchase, this couch was hers. And here we are, happy, and unceremoniously dumping it for something newer and better.

I get it in theory. I feel badly for her too – she has become a friend of mine as well. But still. Like I said, this relationship can be awkward at times.

So WG finally picked up the phone to call her and ask if she was OK with us donating it. He went outside to have the conversation, I suspect because he wanted to tell her privately that he was sorry if she felt sad about it. I don’t know exactly what was said, and I alternated between being jealous and compassionate the whole time he was out there. But he soon returned with the news I wanted to hear - we could take it to Goodwill and be done with it. And that was that.

Back to the good part. I feel like a whole new world of comfort has opened up to us. We used to squirm and adjust every five minutes to try to squeeze us both onto the velvet monster. But we never really got comfortable. The cushions slid out, the cat hair stood out like dandruff on a black t-shirt. It just sucked.

But now? Now we can each have our own section to ourselves (though I can see we are already fighting over the chaise) and our own physical space. Or we can snuggle onto one section together if we so choose. The cats even love it because they can have their own territory on either end without feeling threatened. AppleButt has already started to show her love for the couch by scratching it, so it was quickly covered in StickyPaws before she could do much damage. But other than that it’s heaven.

Is this what cohabitation is all about? Being comfortable while sitting together in front of the TV? We’ll see. Right now I’ve only had one night of being able to veg out on it and Wine Guy wasn’t even home. Hopefully this weekend we can really test it out with the ultimate boring couple test – a movie and a few glasses of wine.

Dismissed.