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

December 25, 2009

Bejeweled Christmas

OK, I'm going to say something and please don't judge. I know how corny this sounds, but it's true nonetheless. Here goes.

There is something truly thrilling when you unwrap a gift from your boyfriend (I'm sure this applies to husbands and all sorts of other romantic attachments) and find yourself holding a velvet box containing some sort of jewelry....

Let me stop you there for a second. This is not an engagement ring. Or any ring for that matter. And I knew that and was in no way expecting one (though I wouldn't mind one either:-). So, now that we have appropriately adjusted expectations, I will continue describing the moment at hand.

...then find yourself opening the box to see something beautiful shining inside. Maybe even something you had admired a few weeks earlier when walking by a window display with your man.

I've never had that experience before today. Actually, I never even considered that I would desire that experience (except the engagement ring scenario, of course). But when it happened to me, my heart jumped a little. Before I opened the rectangular box, I glanced up to see Wine Guy nervously looking on.

See, Wine Guy is NOT comfortable with these sorts of purchases. He is not big on fashion accessories - for himself or his women. Let's put it this way, one of his previous serious girlfriends has a Ph.D. in Women's Studies and is pretty much a stereotype of what you're conservative Republican brother-in-law thinks "feminists" are like - angry at men, tattooed, smarter than them. This also explains why WG has been to more than a dozen Ani DiFranco concerts and continues to go every summer when she's in town (I love her, so that's a good thing). I have been known to call him my Lesbian Boyfriend.

So, to picture Wine Guy walking into a jewelry store and considering the purchases in front of him...well, that's huge. I wasn't going to say anything about it here (for fear of getting my mom's hopes up, but since she "promised" she would stop reading the blog, I'm going to just go for it --hi mom), but earlier in the week we were at the mall Christmas shopping and I had to go to a jewelry store to have some adjustments made on a necklace. He tagged along (reluctantly) and while we were waiting to talk to the jeweler, I wandered over to the engagement ring section, as I have done since I was a kid. I just like rings. Normally Wine Guy stands as far away as possible while this is happening, so I was surprised to find him standing right next to me looking over my shoulder.

Here is where the new strategy I discussed in the previous post comes into play (for Dishy, who requested more examples of my version of male manipulation). Instead of my normal smart ass remark ("Wow, look at these rings. And with Christmas just around the corner." Or "My hand is feeling naked all of a sudden"), I continued to admire the objects, then calmly pointed towards one that caught my eye. Ever so nonchalantly I said, "This is the kind of ring I always liked."

It was a little risky, but I pulled it off. I say this because of his reaction. He didn't walk away. He didn't laugh. He didn't make a smart ass comment. He just stayed there, looking over my shoulder and eventually responding with "Oh, I see." Before I could ruin the moment, I casually strolled to another display case.

Here comes the kicker. He then declares, "Wow. These aren't as expensive as I thought they'd be. They aren't engagement rings are they?" When I assured him they were, he continued to look. Like with his eyes, people.

I said it before and I'll say it again. They need to think it's their idea.

Then the jeweler came out and we started talking about what I needed done.
Thank God, because I was surely about to ruin the moment with my trusty Sledgehammer of Truth.

But I digress. Here we are, Christmas Day. I hold in my hand a black velvet box displaying a pretty silver and black sparkly pendant hanging off a silver chain. I remembered it from the jewelry store. Immediately he jumps in with disclaimers, "This is just a placeholder gift. I think there might be ones you'll like more inside the store. We can go back and pick out another one. You don't have to like it."

I did like it and told him he didn't need to say all of that. I was touched. But eventually we did agree that we should go back to the store together since I had only seen what they had in the window display. Plus, the chain was far too short (always the case with me. Apparently I have a football player's neck).

But none of that changed the fact that he did this - bought jewelry - just for me. Just to make me happy. I always say/whine, "I just want a guy to go out of his way for me, just once." I think it's time I stop saying/whining that.

Again, I know this is corny but I'm putting it out there. Guys, buy your ladies some jewelry. I promise, it's always a good decision.

And yes, mom, you were right.

Wishing you all a Happy Holiday! You are merrily dismissed.

P.S. As my good friends should already know about me, please act as if I never told you the engagement ring story. It's better for everyone not to get our hopes up, right?
(I fully intended to post a photo of the necklace by the way, but something is up with Blogger's insert photo tool. If anyone asks me, I will try again later to post it. And yes, this is also a bit of a test to see if anyone actually reads all the way to the end! )


Addendum 12/30/09 - Thanks for asking :-)

December 21, 2009

Sledgehammer of Truth

I work with faculty quite frequently in my job, trying to convince them to do something totally new that will help them tremendously with only a small amount of extra effort. It took me about five minutes to figure out what needed to happen to get them to act.

Let them think they came up with the idea first.

So why did it take me 20+ years of dating to figure out that men are the same way?

Yes, I am talking about the subtle female art of male manipulation. In the nicest way, of course.

Because I grew up without a father figure or much of any relationship modeling in the house, this is an art that was lost on me. I never really saw how couples interacted day in, day out. How they navigated differences in opinions, household chores, or preferences for what to do on a Saturday night.

Instead, what I saw was a lot of my poor mom hollering at her pack of unruly children. And no one to back her up or help her (shout out to you Mama Jack).

So what does that mean for my relationship with Wine Guy? Take a guess. (And yes, you can feel sorry for him--but just a little.) Sure he is often described as the Absentminded Professor. But the way I've chosen to work with this is more like a hollering mom than a clever partner who knows how to work with what she's got (like I do so easily on the job).

But with two live-in relationships under my belt (not to mention 37 years), the whole "I had no daddy" argument has just grown tired and useless. I finally decided I needed to sort this out pretty damn soon or this relationship was going bust.

So I started talked with my friends-- and my shrink-- and realized I had a very unrealistic, immature idea of what constitutes honesty in a relationship. I'm big on honesty. Partly because it's the best policy, but also because I really suck at all forms of deception, whether it be small white lies, or big purple ones.

How I chose to translate my version of honesty into a relationship was this: I am obligated to say everything that goes on inside my head. No nuance. No sideways inspiration. Just say it. Anything else would be less than honest. And isn't that what love is supposed to be based on?

Yeah, that goes over like a nice, soft sledgehammer. Especially with a stubborn man - the kind I usually pick.

So I decided to take a stab at the more nuanced approach to getting Wine Guy to do something I wanted him to do--join my gym. I've been going since October and have had amazing results in my first 6 weeks. Meanwhile, Wine Guy had stopped all forms of exercise and felt terrible about it.

I figured out very quickly that my gym was the kind of workout experience that would suit Wine Guy perfectly. A semi-private trainer, personalized workouts, uncrowded gym, close to home, and the kind of results I know he's seeking. But when I tried the straight-on approach ("You should join too. It's exactly what you are looking for!"), I got a big fat no.

But by this point I was learning. Instead of getting irritated and insistent, I kept my mouth shut and just kept going to the gym. I would tell him about it occasionally, but for the most part just went about my business getting in shape while he looked on from the sidelines. I went three times a week without fail, all the while knowing that the six-week mark was when my sneak attack would begin. See, six weeks is when they measure you again--for inches, body fat, heart rate etc. Then they compare the results to your stats from six weeks earlier.

I was very excited to learn I had lost 5 pounds of body fat, gained two pounds of lean mass and lost 5 inches overall. All without dieting. Sweet!

But instead of rushing home and gushing about my news to Wine Guy, then restating my request that he join, I simply asked my trainer to write down all my stats. If there's one thing I've learned about men (and faculty) in the last few years, it's that they like cold hard numbers. So she wrote it all down and at dinner that night I calmly read him the numbers.

When I was done reading I looked up from the paper and saw a glimmer in his eye that I can never seem to get with my own sledgehammer tactics. Inspiration. Before I could even react, he said the magic words, "That's it. I'm joining."

Freakin' magic.

This is just one of several successes I've had lately and it has made our relationship so much smoother. I know he recognizes and appreciates my restraint and, even though it's more work for me in the thinking/planning ahead department, it is well worth it.

We've also come to an arrangement that, once he signs on to an idea, I then ask permission to "nag" him about it. See, he is a flake and he knows it. He needs help to close the loop. Now that I know he wants to join the gym (and he thinks he came up with the idea himself), he gives me carte blanche in the nagging (I call it reminding) department. Withing 5 days he was signed up and hitting the gym every other day.

Now he comes home and flexes his muscles, proud of what he decided to do. Sure, whatever. As long as he's doing it. (And the 10% discount I get every month for referring him doesn't hurt either.)

Happy holidays everyone!
Dismissed.

November 27, 2009

Long Time No Blog

It's been awhile and, to tell you the truth, I'm not all that motivated to blab even after all this time. Not that I haven't been thinking about the blog. Actually, I've been thinking about it a lot. See, I'm taking a class on putting together a non-fiction book proposal so I've been busy thinking through how and if I could turn this blog into an entertaining book. Lots of homework, writing exercises and learning what the very business-minded publishers are looking for.

The cool part is that I am just teeming with stories to tell. A few I may have touched on here but mostly they are the tales that I never got to tell because I met Wine Guy three months into this blog and the whole development of the relationship took over from there.

The uncool part is that I have little energy to come home and write even more here. But I promise I'll be back soon.

In the meantime, a quick update. Everything is just fine. Wine Guy and my mom split the cooking for Thanksgiving and made quite a wonderful meal. I will not be complaining that I was left out of that whole process (though I did make a corn pudding that I call more "mixing things together" than cooking).

Everything in relationshipland is status quo. Actually pretty good. I've worked really hard the last few months on letting go of some negative core beliefs I've harbored since childhood and, well, I've discovered that I am pretty much "shoulding" myself to relationship destruction. I've calmed down about the whole MARRIAGE thing, and - what a surprise! - we are happier and Wine Guy is more willing to talk about commitment than ever before. We both agreed that once my hip stuff is taken care of (hopefully by spring 2010), it will be full steam ahead on baby-making. The rest- who the f*ck cares?! He's in it. I'm in it. We're committed. For the most part people, I'm calm. (See why I haven't posted in awhile? Being calm does not an interesting blog post make.)

Oh, and I've been working out like crazy. I joined a gym with semi-private trainers and have been going 3x/week. In six weeks I lost over 5 lbs of body fat and 5 inches overall. (So what if I still can't bend over to tie my shoe. At least I'm firming up while I wear my slip-ons.) Basically I'm feeling terrific physically - the first time in two years - and I think I have even inspired Wine Guy to join so we can at last get fit together.

That's it from here. Enjoy your holiday weekend - and all those leftovers!
Dismissed.

October 21, 2009

The Declawed Cougar

I know, I know. The whole "cougar" phenomenon has hit its peak and is on the rapid downhill pop culture slide. (Seriously, I just Googled 'cougar woman' and was blown away by the number of websites that specialize in helping younger guys hook up with adventurous "older" women or helping these "older" women be a better Cougar. Gross.) But since I have never been on the cusp of what's "hip" (I think I declared that Pearl Jam was actually "a pretty good band" around 1996), allow me to address the matter here. And it probably isn't going to be in the way you would expect. OK, here goes.

I've been a Cougar since my early 20s.

How is that possible, you ask? Well, I think it has something to do with the fact that, in my early 20s -- when everyone else was acting their age--I just felt older. I'm sure that suffering from a bad back since the age of 8 didn't help matters (you don't feel very young and chipper when your friend invites you out to play and you have to decline because you "threw your back out").

I lived in New York City in my late teens/early 20s and it seemed like everyone my age was partying, throwing themselves into mosh pits, and grooving to techno music at after-hours raves til all hours (think early/mid 90s). While I was more of a pack a backpack for the day, pick an avenue, and walk it from my end of town (up, up, uptown) to the bottom tip of Manhattan (I still highly recommend this as a way to experience the distinct neighborhoods of the city, and not spend a lot of money). Then hop a subway back home, grab some Chinese to go and cuddle up in front of the TV for an early night.

When I did decide to try and play my age, I was usually ready to call it a night before they had even finished warming up. Half the time we didn't leave the apartment until midnight and I was already wishing I was on the couch with some garlic chicken.

But here's the thing - I didn't feel bad about this. Or left out. Sure, it sucked to miss out on some great concerts because standing up for 3 hours killed my back (since much improved, by the way). But besides that, I just knew I wasn't really missing out on much.

But there was one thing I was age appropriate about. Boys. I definitely had a physical "type" - about 19, kinda jocky-looking, and dangerous cute in a way I can only describe as "date rapist hot" (if you don't know what I mean by this offensive-sounding description, I don't know that I can explain it. Perhaps in another entry - but only upon request).

This "type" of mine was purely a physical attraction. Something I could not help. Because, trust me, I didn't want to be attracted to guys like that. They are almost always complete tools. And my more mature brain damn well knew it. But still, my hormones would flare up when such a man-boy would cross my path and, occasionally, I would even act upon it. (Ah....the days when you could get a guy just because you decided to say yes for once.)

As I got further into my 20s, my type didn't change. He barely aged actually. However, the guys I actually sought relationships with were nerdy, nice, gay-straight (a term I first talked about here) intellectuals. See, if something's going to last more than one night, my brain has to be stimulated at least as much as my body. But still, when one of those man-boys walked by, my eye was compelled to follow.

And then Columbine happened. Ridiculous sounding, I know. But still true. Yes, the shooters were ostracized, pimply teens with some serious emotional issues. But after that horrific incident, suddenly anything even slightly associated with younger guys became repulsive to me. They were sad. Repressed. Unevolved.

And that's exactly where I've stayed through the rest of my 20s and into my mid 30s.

So can someone please tell me what the hell has happened in the last two days that has made me suddenly notice the man-boys again?????? Yesterday, and again this evening, I was alarmed to find myself walking along and suddenly craning my neck to maintain the particular specimen within my line of site. There he was - 19ish, jocky, probably dumb as a stump. The complete and polar opposite of my goateed, glasses-wearing, adorably intellectual Wine Guy.

But there is one big difference between now and then. At the ripe age of 36, I am officially in "Cougar" territory (apparently 35+ is the qualifying age).

Oh, and just to make sure we are clear here --- I would NEVER do anything about this resurgence. Ever.

Which I guess makes the next part easy. Because now that I'm 36 and more "mature" in my appearance, I can assure you that they aren't looking back anymore. Or asking. At least not with any interest beyond "What's that lady looking at?" Which makes me nothing more than a leering, salivating, slightly pathetic Cougar.

Oh well. I guess I can take comfort in this the next time Wine Guy salivates over Padma Lakshmi during "Top Chef" - or whatever "type" he is drawn to that he can't have either.

Dismissed.

October 13, 2009

To Friends and Foes

Hi readers (and apparently there still are some of you left, which is nice to know).
First of all, I'd like to thank those of you who've sent me kind emails and left thoughtful comments on my last post. It warms my heart to think about how total strangers can connect so legitimately through a venue like this. So thanks.

But I do feel the need to clarify a few things so you know where I am these days - and where I'm not.

The Harsh Comments
As far as I'm concerned, those come with the territory of putting my life out there on public (if anonymous) display. When they come, I read them over and then put them out of my mind. Sometimes this is easier than others (during my surgery recovery, this was quite difficult). I find it is especially easy to forget about a cruel comment (whether they meant it that way or not) if I don't respond directly to it. So that's why I rarely get into back-and-forth dialogues in the comments section. But everyone is entitled to their opinion (or venting or whatever) and that's why the comments section is open to anyone.

But that doesn't mean I don't take any critical comments to heart. My ears particularly perk up with the ones delivered in a compassionate way like "I know you may not want to hear this but what about considering......." Trust me, I can tell right off the bat who is just being vindictive and who is trying to offer helpful advice. I am always up for helpful critique and there have been plenty of times when I've thought long and hard about something someone said in my comments section - and sometimes even acted on it.

The Whole Truth
Your comments also reminded me that you don't know the whole story about my relationship with Wine Guy. In fact, there's a lot you don't know. Like the fact that we do talk about marriage -- a lot actually. And I pretty much know where we stand in that department (at least for now) and choose to stay just where I am for a reason - a good one actually. I love him. (Thanks Dark Cloud Nine for helping me remember that simple fact!)

This blog is not one long cohesive narrative (like it was in our first few months of dating). Once your relationship becomes immersed into the day to day of life, there really is no narrative anymore is there? Just life. So now I select moments, snapshots in time that I can focus on and explore in my writing. That's when I start digging around in my brain, trying to bring out the feelings that popped up in that moment - whether they were valid or not. Or whether I still feel them or not. Yes, the marriage thing looms large in my mind and becomes particularly dominant with certain triggers like a friend getting married (just happened) or having a baby (several just happened), or an ex getting engaged (my last two just did). So obviously this particular subject has been nagging at me a lot lately.

I was explaining this all to Wine Guy last night (I do tell him what I'm writing about and the reactions I get from you guys) and he helped me brainstorm about how to explain what it is I am putting out there for the world to read. We were both film studies majors in college and we couldn't help but recall all those 1960s film theorists who talked about how the frame of a camera removes the viewer from the context of a situation and re-envisions another reality within its own frame. More times than not, the reality of the moment has little to do with what the camera ultimately captured-- and what the editor decided to do with it.

That's kind of what's going on here. I choose the moments that spoke to me, and capture them within the lens of my mind (often a very effective distortion device) Then I edit, adapt, revise - until there's a story that I've crafted to share with you. It's all true, but it's not Truth. If that makes any sense.

So I guess that's why those harsh comments don't bother me that much (at least no longer than a few minutes). Because the people that come in and start making judgments about what they think is my life, aren't really seeing the whole picture. Only I know the entire Truth, and even that is skewed! So let them vent. Let them judge. If it makes them feel better fine. If you or I get something out of it too, even better.

Quitting the Blog
I consider it from time to time, mostly because I've been busy with some freelance writing and, combined with the writing I do all day at work, the blog starts to feel more like a chore than a hobby. But when I do find some time to sit down and write (like right now on my lunch break), I feel a sense of relief that no other writing gives me. So for now I think I'll keep it going, just knowing that I won't be updating as frequently as I'd like.

Thanks again to my friends out there. And to those of you who aren't my biggest fans, the comment box will always be there, whether you are or not.

Dismissed.

September 15, 2009

A Roomful of Faces

First allow me to set the stage.

A crowded living room full of my mom's friends -- many of them the Yenta ones I've told you about before. Everyone's sitting in a circle, my mom at the head (it is her birthday party after all). Next to my mom is an empty chair and next to the empty chair is a woman with a warm eyes and a stack of books to sell. Every 5-8 minutes, someone from the circle gets up, walks across the the circle and sits down in the empty chair. All of this so the warm-eyed woman can stare at them for a few minutes and read their face.

Yep, face reading. That's what my mom wanted to do for her 70th birthday party. And when you make it to 70 (and look as good as my mom does once you get there), you get what you want.

It turns out that my mom's friend knows the Face Reader who - as she told us many, many, many times during the session - has been on over 50 television shows like Tyra Banks and even The Young and the Restless (seriously). She also has a credible health care background and has studied the science (it is actually one) of face reading for many years and worked with law enforcement, corporations, the FBI -- anyone that might want to find out about someone without actually asking them. (It's similar to the guy that the TV show "Lie to Me" is based on, except that he reads "transient" emotions - the ones that tell you what they're thinking or feeling in a split second - and she reads the actual face - eye shape, nose, hairline, ears - all of which are supposed to reveal traits about your inner self. Here's some information I found that might explain it - but don't hold me to it.)

So we threw a potluck party and invited a select group of people who might be up for having their faces read in a festive setting. Interesting and entertaining. Generally a good party idea.

Wine Guy was invited and, naturally, I volunteered him to cook one of the main dishes. I was tasked with scribbling down notes during each person's reading since it goes by in such a blur you hardly remember a thing. I was so busy writing that I hardly had time to ruminate about the fact that both Wine Guy and I were going to have to sit there and have our faces read in front of everyone, Yentas and all.

I could tell that Wine Guy was excited about doing it, being a trained astrologer and all. But the second he made his way to the empty chair, I heard a distinct tittering among the group. [Disclaimer: It was at this very moment that the potential embarrassment of what was about to happen hit me. And it hit hard. Irrationally hard. So understand that I am writing about how I was feeling at the moment - whether it was accurate or not.]

The Face Reader knew WG was my boyfriend and, being the only unmarried couple at the party, this presented a great opportunity for her to talk about romantic compatibility as seen through facial structure. Totally understandable. The very first thing she says when his butt hits the chair is that we should definitely get married. Just. Like. That.

It's all a blur after that. I recall that everyone burst out laughing and that my mom and my overly obnoxious brother Pat-hole took the opportunity (as usual) to holler their exasperated agreement. I think I said something like "I'm trying!" and attempted to smile, all the while cringing inside and wondering how mortified/pissed/irritated Wine Guy might be feeling.

Then she started saying something about how the most compatible couples have a 70/30 match of facial features (70% similar, 30% dissimilar) and that Wine Guy's and my facial features totally line up. Well that was nice to hear. If only I wasn't dizzy with embarrassment while I was hearing it.

The rest of what she said about Wine Guy is also a blur (I have to consult the notes I was able to scribble down for him) but I know her comments were accurate and that she thought he had an interesting face (handsome, if I do say so myself).

A few more people had their turns and then it was mine, second to last. I sat down in the chair and looked into the Face Reader's eyes, praying I would be spared further embarrassment. [Refer to previous Disclaimer.] She looked at me deeply for a moment and then, very kindly, looked up towards Wine Guy across the circle and said firmly and with utter confidence, "OK. You need to marry him."

Huge burst of raucous laughter. I'm know I'm laughing too, because I'm relieved to hear this. But at the same time I'm dying. Again, brother starts hollering. Mom starts with her comments. I believe I even turned around and literally put my hand over my mom's mouth at one point. Wine Guy was laughing and seemed fine but it didn't matter. I was in full scale freak out mode.

When I realized the crowd was not going to simmer down right away, I tried to wait it out. I remember sitting there staring at the Face Reader, who was clearly taken aback by this reaction (it was sort of like a burst of energy the second she said it). I quietly said to her, "I'm just going to sit here and let it pass." I think I repeated that a few times, like a chant, as everyone let it out of their systems.

When I think about it now - after I'm all cooled down - I really don't understand everyone's hysteria. It's not like Wine Guy and I have been together for a decade or something. Yes, they all know that I am ready to get married and that I've had marital mishaps in my past -- but I just don't see why everyone feels they are perfectly justified in shouting out their opinions about my personal relationship. Especially during a moment that's supposed to reveal some insights into me - not just my relationship.

But I can hear my mom's voice now as she's reading this (even though I asked her to stop reading my blog - but really, that ain't gonna happen), "But we all just want you to be happy. We know getting married is what you want and we want it for you too." I totally believe that and now, in hindsight, I know that that their reaction was entirely out of love and good humor.

But at the time, and for the remainder of the party, I was pissed off. I felt like my face reading time was ruined by their heckling and that my mom and my brother were completely out of line. I was sure that Wine Guy was mortified and even less likely to propose to me now that this had happened.

While having cake a little while later, the Face Reader pulled me aside and asked, "What that was all about?" I tried to respond but, honestly, I was still so flustered I think I didn't make much sense. I said something like, "Oh, it's my family just making inappropriate comments about my life." Then Pat-hole walked up and began to declare his position as only Pat-hole can, "Baby Sister (that's what he calls me), Do You Want To Know Why I Said --"
Before he could continue (when he asks a question like that he doesn't really care if or what you answer) I shouted , "No! I don't!" and stormed off. Again leaving the poor Face Reader confused.

On the drive home I let it out to Wine Guy. Mostly I wanted him to know I didn't approve of all the "pressure" that was being thrust at him. It would have been nice if I'd said something like, "I hope you didn't feel uncomfortable during the face reading." Alas, I never say what I should - especially when I'm upset. Instead, my emotions just came pouring out in a flow of negativity and slight hysteria. (I know. I'm a real catch.)

Apparently, readers, I am really good at hiding my feelings because Wine Guy had no freaking clue how upset I was. And, to make me feel even more ridiculous for letting it all out, he responded angrily that I must be completely insane for feeling negative about the situation at all. Now I'm really confused.

So, wait. Not only was I wrong in how I interpreted this entire event (not unusual) but that Wine Guy was, in fact, perfectly fine with all the marriage joshing. Tell me if I'm crazy (well, I am. But only address this last sentence when you tell me) but when a guy knows you are waiting for a marriage proposal, and he knows your mother, brother and all your family friends are waiting too. And this kind of thing happens. And you think it's all in good fun?

Well, unless Wine Guy is a total sociopath with no empathy for other sentient beings (uh, I fell in love with one like that before - Naval A-hole - so I'm not being sarcastic) -- he must actually be realistically considering it.

Wow, it was a long and unnecessarily painful road to get to that happy realization wasn't it?

So on one side, I'm choosing to see this as a really positive sign from Wine Guy.
On the other, I clearly have some massively unresolved issues that have completely obliterated my ability to read a situation.

I'm seeing the shrink on Friday.

Dismissed.

September 9, 2009

And Seal it with a Tupperware Lid

I realize as I write this blog entry that I'm going to make Wine Guy look like a saint. From the little he has read of this blog, this is what he dislikes the most - that he comes across far better than he actually is. I don't disagree with this. In fact, I often wish you all knew the non-saintly things WG does every single day. Like clip the dead skin on his heels in the dining room. Or ask me for the millionth time "Guess what?" just so he can reply "Chickenbutt."

But, alas, I made a promise to myself (and to him) way back when I first told him about this blog that he need not worry - this blog was about ME. Not about HIM. So I try to keep things limited to how I feel, react, agonize, analyze over things in my life. Yes, they often relate to him, but I try to keep my bitching about him specifically to a bare minimum. Why should he have to be any more careful than a boyfriend of someone who doesn't have a blog (does anyone not have a blog anymore?)

So, back to Wine Guy's sainthood.

He left this morning to visit his parents in Texas for a few days. Over our 2+ years together, we've been apart quite a bit, but it's usually me that goes out of town for work or to visit friends. He's a bit of homebody.

Last night I had plans with a friend that left me only about 45 minutes to eat at home before I had to leave again. He volunteered to cook dinner for us and have it ready by the time I got home from work. Wine Guy loves to cook but he doesn't do it as often as either of us would like. We tend to eat out during the week. (Bad, bad, I know). So this was a nice little domestic surprise.

By the time I came home he had the sumi salad made (our new favorite) and was grilling spicy asian chicken. As usual, everything was delicious but it wasn't until I got home later that night that he really surprised me.

"Here's the leftover chicken," he says as he holds up the Tupperware before placing it in the fridge. "Don't forget to eat it while I'm gone." I'm notorious for forgetting what we have to eat in the house since I very rarely cooked all those years I lived alone. As far as I'm concerned, a refrigerator is for keeping your drinks cold.

Another Tupperware container. "And I made tons of the sumi salad so that should feed you for the rest of the week."

Wow, OK.

Another, bigger container this time. "And I cut up that pineapple so make sure you eat that in the next day or two."

Hey, I got no problem with that.

"Oh, and I forgot. We've got that leftover mushroom polenta I made this weekend." He then proceeds to explain how to reheat it in the pan with a little oil.

He continues to rummage through the refrigerator finding more goodies to keep me fat and happy. Marinated mushrooms. Balsamic chicken. Leftovers from the long weekend.

I was relieved knowing I wouldn't have to scramble for lunch and dinner the rest of the week. And I was wishing we did more smart cooking and eating like this when Wine Guy was actually going to be in town.

But then I remembered. This is how Wine Guy tells me that he loves me.

He's not the most affectionate of guys. He often needs to be prodded for a welcome home hug. Sometimes I will grab his hand while we're walking and force him to hold mine for a few minutes. I remind him to tell me that he loves me. After awhile, all of this can make me feel a little neglected.

But then he does something like this and it's like a swift kick in the rear. I remember that he's not a typical guy. That's why I love him. So I have to love the atypical ways he chooses to show that he loves me too. And for a girl that likes to eat, I have to say this is a pretty good alternative to public displays of affection. No?

Dismissed.

August 28, 2009

List of Laments

It's 2:20am, I'm wide awake after two hours of fitful tossing and turning. What better way to sort out why than a blog entry? Due to the hour and my drowsy state of mind, allow me to list out the recent events of my life that are flashing around in my mind in a pitch black bedroom (Wine Guy peacefully snoring beside me).

Within the last two weeks I have learned the following:
1. Naval A-hole is married (as discussed here).

2. I learned that Only Child got engaged (and, unlike the way it was with me, he actually sounds like he will go through with it. He even manned up and bought a ring this time).

3. I attended Gouda's baby shower last weeekend. She met her boyfriend about six months after I hooked up with Wine Guy. Apparently they had a little "oops" last New Years that left her happily knocked up with no pressure to tie the knot (though her bf would be more than happy to). Oh, did I mention that baby showers are the equivalent of teeth pullings for me? Though in fairness it was lovely and Gouda seems very happy.

4. RSVP'd yes to a wedding of another friend who is tying the knot with her Navy boyfriend. She met him about one year after I met Wine Guy. Yes, I'm very happy for her. And yes, it makes me feel.....left in the dust AGAIN. ( I know, I know. It's not a race. Tell me that all you want. But it still feels like I'm losing anyway.)

5. Serious (and none-too-surprising) life drama with my troublesome siblings lately, all taking place while I'm trying to make my mom's 70th birthday (which is hitting her - and me- hard) a happy one for her despite the drama that I know is bringing her down.

6. My recovery from hip surgery has ceased to be a positive experience. I healed extremely fast at the beginning. But instead of that being the good thing I thought it was, it ended up meaning that my bone was in hyper drive heal mode and grew too much. Right into the soft tissue and muscle, causing increasing pain and lack of mobility. After a fight to get more pain meds (and essentially being accused by the nurse of just trying to score narcotics to feed a supposed addiction), I finally saw the surgeon who confirmed I am one of the very few this happens to and that I have to wait until NEXT SPRING to have the problem fixed since the bone has to stop growing first. This means continued, if not increased pain and lack of mobility for five more freakin' months. All the while I get fatter and crankier.

7. Wine Guy's father is not in good health and he now has to fly out to Texas during his planned week off to check on his parents.

I'm sure I could think of something else if I wanted to make myself feel even worse. But I'll spare us both and stop.

Honestly, if I really think about it, my life is still pretty good. I may not be getting exactly what I want, but what I have is still worth being thankful for. I even got a new second income opportunity that arose out of this very blog! So that is keeping me inspired for the future. And Wine Guy finally got a new job (he's been MISERABLE for over a year at his current one) and I know he will be a much happier companion when he is content in his professional life. Plus, his new job is with a company that lets you bring your dog to work! So Luna will get to have a daily commute and spend the day at the office with her daddy. That makes me very happy.

So, that's what's going on with me. Hopefully your own personal battlefield has far less casualties than mine at the moment. Let's be thankful that it is now Friday.
Thanks for listening, my blog-reading friends.

Dismissed.

August 17, 2009

Are you a Sloane or a Diane?

Is Sloane Peterson the perfect girlfriend we should all aspire to be?

If you don't know who Sloane is, well...Remember that guy John Hughes everyone was talking about last week because he dropped dead in Manhattan? Well, he wrote and directed movies. A few really darn good ones, especially if you were an adolescent in the 1980s.

Quite possibly his best was "Ferris Bueller's Day Off," which you must have seen channel surfing on TV at least some point in your life. Sloane Peterson is Ferris' extremely calm, cool, collected and sexy girlfriend. I remember being a teenager and wondering if I'll ever be as absolutely confident in my own sexiness as Sloane was (the answer: No).

Although the actress who played her, Mia Sara, never really reached iconic starlet status, the character she portrayed lives on. In the case of this blogger, she is the model of the kind of girlfriend we should all be if we want to ever catch and hold on to a guy as cool as Ferris.

Thoughts?

I did like Ferris and all, but I feel I should point out that I am much more a Lloyd Dobler kind of girl. It's good to know that the Diane Courts of the world can find (and presumably keep) a guy too. Even if they are the neurotic guys that think too much. (Again, if you have no idea what I'm talking about, get thee to Netflix as fast as possible and rent Cameron Crowe's "Say Anything." If I had to pick, I'd take Cameron over John Hughes any day, though may he rest in peace.)

Dismissed.

August 13, 2009

Bizarre Dating Websites

I don't know about any of you 30+ single ladies, but when I was on the prowl I noticed a distinct and rapid decline in interest from male suitors in the online dating realm the moment I passed the 32-year mark. From my late twenties until then, Match.com, Yahoo Personals and E-Harmony were all bountiful hunting grounds. Meaning, I got some emails from guys I might actually consider dating. And even a few replies when I dared to email the guy first.

But the second I hit that do-or-die close to mid-thirties range, the men disappeared fast. Seriously. I went from feeling completely bombarded on Match.com to, one year later, hearing crickets. And nothing changed on my profile except my age.

I know several other amazingly beautiful, smart,funny, low maintenance, single, mid-thirties women who are facing the same problem. It could very well be a San Diego thing, as men here tend to want the late 20s arm piece who will go jogging with them on the beach every day and cheer them on during their triathlons. And if you won't do those things, they at least want you to be in your 20s. But either way, the whole thing is desperately annoying.

I may not be out there on the market these days, but I still feel your pain.

Which is why I had to share this link with you today. At first I thought it was kind of funny. But now I'm thinking it might be the saddest list I've ever seen. I don't know. But at least we can feel better (?) knowing that there are lots of other people out there who also feel left out of the mainstream online dating world (with some left far, far, far out).

So here it is. Enjoy.
Top 10 Bizarre Dating Websites

Dismissed.

July 27, 2009

Bare Fingers

A confession. Well, I didn't realize that this was something worthy of confession until I accidentally mentioned it while paddling around the swimming pool with Mendoza Line and Bubbles the other day.

See, Bubbles was telling us about her adventure one Saturday night trying to help a drunken married couple find the large diamond that had fallen out of the wife's engagement ring earlier in the evening. This involved desperate searching throughout the rented limo they were in, backtracking to several drop off points along their way home, and finally miraculously locating the stone in a far corner of the bar they had been at - after it had been cleaned. Amazing and damn lucky for them. Apparently it was not insured. Bad idea.

Anyway, that led into engagement ring conversation. Mendoza Line and Bubbles (both single) made it clear they were not the obnoxious diamond engagement ring kind of girls. So I chime in that having a beautiful engagement ring (not obnoxiously huge, thank you) has long been something I've wanted. But these days, it does seem ridiculous to spend what could go towards a down payment on a home (something that Wine Guy and I would both love to be able to scrape up somehow) on a piece of jewelry.

I should add that Wine Guy - forever one to buck the establishment - is quite opposed to dropping major cash on an engagement ring. When I first learned this - long before we were close to actually considering getting married - I was disappointed. But with the economy and the American debt-laden lifestyle thrown into disarray, investing so much month in The Ring all of a sudden seems extravagantly wasteful.

But that doesn't mean I don't want one. Just something far simpler than I used to desire. As I expressed to Wine Guy with a wink and smile that pretty much shut him up one day, "You know, a ring that costs about what you spent on the Wii and all of its accessories a few months ago."

But I didn't use to think like this. I'm not a huge jewelry/accessories kind of girl, but my whole life I've always like rings. And I used to wear them all the time. My mom even bought me a "princessy" sapphire and diamond-chip ring in high school, and I wore it constantly - at track practice, tennis, soccer, the beach.....

When I was faux-engaged to Only Child, I was finally able to indulge my ring fantasies and began browsing jewelry shops and online stores in earnest, researching diamond cuts, metals, and settings. I had the thing all picked out and priced - even knew the damn jeweler by name - before I figured out that Only Child was never really going to follow through on his bullshit proposal.

So, yeah, I have some ring baggage. That's why this newfound realization that I'd rather be married to Wine Guy than show the world that I have a beautiful engagement ring - well, that came as a huge relief actually. (Not that we are engaged yet!)

Back to the pool. Once I tell Mendoza Line and Bubbles about my new perspective, I keep talking. When will I learn?! I tell them about how, during my faux-engagement and subsequent waiting for the ring, I became concerned (at my mother's suggestion) about my fingernails. Yes, my nails. See, I bite them. Always have, always will. Bite, pick, mess with...whatever. I just can't not do it. Terrible, I know.

So my mom somehow gets it into my head that my hands should look beautiful for when I get the ring. I believe her. Since I know I can't stop my bad habit (nor do I have time because, well, the ring is coming soon after all), I go and get gel nails with tips. I can't even believe I'm doing it. Even walking into the manicurist I'm mortified to show her my short stubs and ask her to stick falsies on them.

But I do it - and I get them short. Just barely over my fingertips and nice and blunt. Nothing long and spiky. As short as they are, I can still barely manage to button my jeans and am sticker-shocked by the cost of it all, along with the frequent fillings and repairs of broken tips. But I admit that my hands look pretty damn good. Engagement ring-ready good.

Needless to say, when Only Child confessed that the ring wasn't coming, I tore those nails off in a frenzied fit of tears. And to this day I associate nicely manicured hands with the thing that has so cruelly eluded me in the past.

After I tell Mendoza Line and Bubbles a brief version of this story, they both just floated there, staring at me in what seemed to be amused horror. I did what? Why? That is so ridiculous?!

Yes, I felt like a complete idiot. For doing it, yes. But also for confessing it to them. But as I write out the story here - with all the background that goes along with it (which they didn't really get) - I have more compassion for myself. And I feel a whole lot better about my "position" on The Ring these days. Because, well, you have to have position on such things, right?

Dismissed.

July 16, 2009

Portland Purge

Whenever I travel alone, I think about him. Especially when I get off of the plane and walk into the terminal where my fellow passengers meet and greet their awaiting companions. That's where he would be. And I would see him from far down the corridor, his buzzed blonde hair a few inches above everyone else's, bobbing up and down as he jumped with excitement to see me and sweep me up in his arms. This remains one of the most romantic memories of my life, so far.

It's been three years since he smashed my already bruised heart into pieces. Or is it four? I'm not sure and for some reason I have a mental block that won't let me do the math to trace back my failed relationships. It makes me feel old and I think it would hurt too much to face the cold, hard, clear facts. So I settle for a hazy timeline of heartbreak instead.

I don't want to think about him. And I've come a long way over the years in shaving down the amount of times he crosses my mind. From every minute, to every hour, to every other day and, for the last year, every month or so. Or whenever I get off of a plane alone.

But this trip - and the anticipation leading up to it -- has shoved my progress back. He's been on my mind every day, several times a day. And it's not a longing I'm feeling. Or sadness. Or self pity. It's anger. Still, after all this time, anger.

Why is this trip having such a strong affect? Well, first of all I'm in Portland, Oregon. It's not Seattle, the city where I flew every other weekend for almost a year to visit him - right up until he literally vanished from my life with no explanation. But it's the Pacific Northwest and I can't help but associate the entire region with him. The deep green trees, the rivers, the flannel.

I'm here for work but Wine Guy and I decided to transition my business trip into a mini vacation for the two of us. He arrives tonight and we will enjoy the city for the weekend, then head out to the Oregon coast for a few more days. Wine Guy and I haven't traveled together all that often so I've kind of built this trip up in my head, convinced that it will be a romantic little getaway - bed and breakfast and all.

Traveling. Boyfriend. Pacific Northwest. Romance.
This all adds up to painful memories of Naval A-hole.

Being typically self-destructive, I revived my stalkerish Google searching habit to see if I could find out where he might be. A few years ago I discovered that he was in Norfolk, probably gearing up to deploy on an aircraft carrier to the Middle East. I liked to think of him stuck on a cramped, gray ship with nothing to do but run on a treadmill and get teased by his fellow shipmates. Of course, that's the part of it he enjoyed, but to me it sounds like hell. And that's where I want him - in hell.

Up until this trip with Wine Guy popped up on the calendar, I hadn't Googled him in quite some time. So I was surprised when his name got a solid hit. It wasn't much, only a few words from a tiny local newspaper - and not even a complete sentence. But the impact of those few words was huge.

The headline: Marriage Licenses, January 11, 2009
Then a list of names, ages and hometowns. The end of the list included his - Naval A-hole, 34 - and hers - SmallTown Girl, 26.

There it was. He was back in bumfuck Washington state. He was married. To a 26 year old local girl.

At first I wanted to cry and throw my computer across the room."He's happy! He's married! He found a young, little chippy who'll go along with anything he says! Noooooooo!!!!!!"

But I tried not to let these thoughts escalate. Instead I sat on them, analyzed them. Tried to figure out what they were really about and, to quote annoying Dr. Phil, evaluate if they were "working for me."

Of course they weren't. On the surface, I was experiencing a petty, stupid jealousy, tinged by the fact that I remain unmarried. Wah, wah, wah. Look deeper.

Let's begin with my relationship with Wine Guy. We are happy. We have a future together - and a present that's doing great. He knows what I want and I trust that we will get there. And, of course, life is not a race. (I do finally believe that, but it took awhile).

Now let us examine Naval A-hole and try to picture what life would be like if he never dumped me and I got exactly what I wanted at the time. I would be the wife of a Naval Flight Officer, living in a shithole Navy town in the middle of a sunless nowhere, watching a bunch of straight-laced, testosterone heavy men play video games and drink beer every weekend. Or sit home alone while he was deployed far away on a ship.

No fucking way.

I'm thankful that I didn't get what I wanted. But still pissed off that he discarded me like a meaningless piece of trash.

So here I am in Portland, wandering the town in between conference sessions, still kind of stewing and not knowing exactly why.

If anyone can claim they were as wounded as I was by Naval A-hole's actions, it's my mom. I was nervous to tell her about this latest news and actually sat on the information for a few weeks, probably because I hate to see her upset when A-hole comes up. But when I keep things from my mom it feels like there is something "bad" about it all, so I decided I should tell her and hope that once I aired it out I might feel better. I called her on a break and left a message saying I have some gossip about Naval A-hole. She called back eager to hear the news.

She didn't react too strongly, probably terrified that she'd say something to upset me. (Yes, we walk on eggshells often when we speak to each other - gotta love the mother/daughter dynamic). But when I told her how I felt grateful for not being with him when I envision my life as his wife, she said something that nailed it down.
First she disregarded the notion that I missed out on anything not being with him, and then she said, "I just don't want him to be happy!"

I couldn't agree more. But here he is, married to a 26 year old and living in a little town that I know he kind of liked (a few miles away from crappy Navy town).

And then I remembered something I've been saying for years -- and even said to Naval A-hole a few times. Men have so much less to worry about when it comes to marriage. They can relax and wait as long as they want because there will always be a 26 year old girl for them to marry.

I'm sad to say that Naval A-hole proved my point. But who is this girl? From what little I could find about her on Google, I learned that she works for a small boat charter company and very likely has never left her hometown. I imagine (hope) that she's slightly docile, gullible, and won't challenge A-hole's existence in any way. Like I probably did (especially when I expressed that I wasn't eager to live the Navy wife life).

Whether he's happy or not with this kind of girl...well, I guess I can't concern myself with that. I could hope and pray that karma actually exists and that a person like A-hole will pay the price for the poor choices he's made. But what I really want to do is Stop. Thinking. About. Him. Forever.

That's why I'm writing about this today, hoping for some sort of purge. Especially before Wine Guy arrives tonight. He deserves all of my heartfelt attention. And I can't let Naval A-hole rob me of happiness for one more second.

I'm considering myself purged. Fuck him.
Dismissed.

July 2, 2009

Everything in its Place

It's a tension that has slowly built up over the year that Wine Guy and I have lived together. Every day we bring more of it into the house - mail, brochures, coupons, greeting cards, invitations, receipts. Basically, crap. And it never ends.

I'm no neat freak. In fact, I'm kind of messy. But I am big on knowing where things are and putting them in their properly dedicated place. This means I rarely spend ten minutes tearing the house apart looking for the receipt I need to return something. I generally know where my keys are and my bills get paid on time because they are placed right next to my computer so they can't be missed.

Because Wine Guy and I are new to both living together and the townhouse where we reside, the organizational routine that carried me through six years living alone is all screwed up. I attempted to get a handle on the clutter during the first few months of cohabitation, but I quickly realized that the disorganization I noticed at Wine Guy's previous apartment was no fluke, and that this struggle was just turning me into a nag.

I would just organize it all myself, except that I have no idea what stuff of his is important and what isn't. Trust me, I've tried in the past and gotten rebuked for throwing away some crumpled up piece of paper that was apparently necessary to him. Do you see my rock and hard place now?

So I gave up and tried to mind my own business and continue filing my own stuff away, while his piled up. But it's not like being organized is easy for me, and after awhile - especially once his piles started taking over - I think I just threw in the towel with the sentiment "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em." And the piles continued to grow.

But every day when I came home and opened that front door, I could feel a little anxiety tickle the back of my throat. Too. Much. Shit. Everywhere. Where do I put the new shit I'm bringing in? Deep breathes, deep breaths.

This is not working for me.

Rather than tell Wine Guy that he "needs to clean up" his stuff, I thought I might try creatively shuffling it around in a way that would cause me less anxiety and still preserve the sanctity of his crap pile. So I hit Pier 1 during their big summer sale and found two baskets that looked promising - one for all the new Wii video game paraphernalia scattered about the living room, and another to help organize (and filter) the mail.

When I came home from knitting group Tuesday night, I brought in the baskets and just started putting things in them, nicely stacked. He didn't seem to mind since I wasn't really asking him to do anything. I started with the video game stuff, then hit the mountain of papers on the dining room and buffet tables.

Inevitably, I had to start asking him, "Do you need this?" and "Is this important?" But instead of getting annoyed with all the questions, he actually seemed kind of interested and soon came over and started sorting through the piles himself. Perhaps they were getting to him too.

The next two hours were quite unexpected. We became cleaning, sorting, organizing machines. And it was beautiful. No longer was it me tentatively butting in to whatever he was doing to see if I could throw something away. No longer was it him rolling his eyes at me when I tell him that his piles are causing me stress. No longer was it me smugly watching as he rips through the piles trying to find that car insurance bill he just realized he forgot to pay.

No, this was pure organizational teamwork. Now that we finally have a feel for the awkward layout of our place, we could finally make informed decisions about how to organize to suit how we live. Mail sorting happens here. Magazines go here. Fun tidbits go here. The vitamins, nail clippers and deodorant that he insists on keeping in the dining area are hidden here.

We were brainstorming, laughing, thinking, improving. This was especially satisfying for someone who craves organization like me. I mean, my favorite place to go as a kid was the local office supply store where I would browse the aisles looking at folders, notepads and post-its, thinking of ways I could improve my organizational system for the next school year. Yes, I was (and am) a dork.

I came up with a term to describe just how damn happy that evening made me. Yes, this was my very first "Organigasm."

Here's to many more (but I'm not holding my breath).

Dismissed.

June 18, 2009

Happy Hip Update

The fact that I haven't mentioned my recovery from hip surgery since mid-April is, thank goodness, a very good sign. My recovery went really smoothly, thanks in large part to the support (and yummy pajamas and treats) I got from my friends at my "Hip Shower."

This recovery felt much faster than last time and I'm already walking without any sort of crutch or cane, though I get sore and tired pretty quickly still. I returned to work last week at half-time and begin full-time work next week.

As much as I hate to admit it, I've been in a far sunnier mood since I returned to work and again have a reason to get out of bed in the morning besides walking the dog to the corner and back.

But I still have to work on kicking my habit of two-hour naps every afternoon.

I saw the surgeon yesterday and, unfortunately, got some not so great news. I have excess bone growth that is apparently very rare (but also means I generate bone easily - good sign for my senior years I guess). I will have to have another procedure in 6-9 months to have it removed so I can gain full range of motion (it would be nice to be able to put a sock and shoe on my right foot again without ten minutes of struggling).

I'm trying not to be upset about this news, which isn't all that hard since it is only outpatient surgery. If had to stay in that godforsaken hospital again I think I might choose to just wear slip-on shoes for the rest of my life.

The doc says I should be back to full activity (tennis!) by September, so I'm trying to remain patient and not eat too many ice cream sundaes until then.

Just wanted to give you all an update so you no longer have to picture me hobbling around all drugged up on pain killers (though I do have a nice leftover stash of percoset and morphine just in case).

Dismissed.

June 12, 2009

Delayed Dining

I like the idea that after 2 years and 2 months together, Wine Guy and I still have a few milestones left to achieve - beyond marriage, children and divorce, of course. Well, I knocked one of those off last night in honor of Wine Guy's birthday.

Although this was a rather significant milestone (in my opinion), it is also one that normally comes in the first 2 months of dating, not years. Nevertheless it was a big moment -- for us as a couple and for me as a kitchen-phobic individual.

I cooked my first meal for Wine Guy.

Notice I did not write that I prepared this first meal, planned it, ordered it, picked it up, or reheated it. I've done that hundreds of times.

But cooking - as in pick a recipe, buy the ingredients (none of which is pre-made and pre-packaged), prep, cook and serve it - terrifies me.

Wait. Let me clarify. I hate cooking, but I'll do it when necessary. But I'm terrified of cooking for Wine Guy.

See, in our relationship, Wine Guy is kind of "in charge" of food. Wine too (obviously). I relinquish that responsibility happily.

I like to eat but I dislike all of the pesky details that come along with making my own food. And Wine Guy loves every second of it. So who am I to rob him of that joy?

So I let him make the calls when it comes to all things culinary. With one major exception that was so obvious, we didn't even discuss it. I am in charge of all Asian dining. (What do you think I've been living on all of these years I've been avoiding the kitchen?) Chinese, Japanese, Thai, Vietnamese.....I'm very at home with these menus and dining cultures. And Wine Guy isn't.

Not only is Wine Guy knowledgeable about food and enjoys cooking, he is also a complete tyrant in the kitchen.

OK, I'm exaggerating (sort of). But it is clearly his domain. I feel like an unwelcome visitor when I'm in there with him. So when I am forced to be his sous-chef (usually when we're entertaining), I freeze up, certain I'll commit some horrible kitchen sin.

When I'm not in the kitchen with him, he becomes so engrossed in everything he's doing that I feel basically invisible until the meal is served, tasted and analyzed. This took me a while to get used to, as evidenced by this post back in June 2007. At first it really hurt my feelings, but then I started to see that this was his happy place - and I want him to be there as much as life allows. Plus I got a meal out of it.

So I became enthusiastic about doing the dishes and enjoyed his talent and passion for something so tasty. I mean, he could have been into Go Kart racing for god's sake, so I am very thankful.

But I wanted to do this for him and, since we were going out to celebrate big the night before, I knew he wanted it to be low key.

Wine Guy is well aware of my lack of training in the kitchen, so I knew that he knew that my plan to cook dinner was a big deal for me. Perhaps he was also a tad afraid (but not more than I) and kept telling me that I "didn't have to do this." When I insisted that I wanted to, he kept saying that I should "keep it really simple."

So I took Wine Guy's favorite cookbook with me one afternoon to the dog park and perused it while Luna romped with a chocolate lab. As I flipped through the pages, I decided that a nice simple pasta dish would be the perfect way to start my kitchen endeavors. But what kind? Well, we both like spicy. I know he likes to cook with penne pasta.

And voila! I had a dish - Penne Arrabbiata.

But that is just too simple on its own. So I thought some more. He uses shrimp quite a bit and I knew exactly where to get the kind he finds acceptable (he's very particular about quality ingredients).

And voila again! I now have Penne Arrabbiata with Shrimp. Wow. It sounds like real food.

I wasn't happy with the choices in the book so a quick Google search led me to my recipe of choice. Simple, easy, tasty.

But I have to make two things. Why? Who the hell knows. Apparently this is what I decided a girlfriend-who-cooks-for-her-boyfriend would do.

But there is no way I can handle another dish that involves, you know, a stove. That leaves me with one choice.....salad. A Caesar Salad sounds Italian, right?

Another search and I land on the recipe that seems the simplest and most true to the original (Wine Guy is also a bit of a food purist).

Menu=Done.
Penne Arrabbiata with Shrimp and Cesar Salad

Shopping was a breeze since I picked almost embarrassingly simple recipes. Plus I knew enough to go to Wine Guy's favorite market, which is small, easy to navigate and has limited (but quality) brands - keeping my choices to a minimum.

Wine Guy called while I was home unpacking the groceries. After he told me about his day I asked if he could do me one small favor on his birthday.

"Depends on what it is," he responded.

"Please don't ask me anything about dinner. Don't ask where I got the recipes, what I bought, nothing. Don't even come into the kitchen when you come home. Just sit down, relax and eat when I tell you it's ready."

I could tell he wasn't liking this plan. The best birthday gift I could have given him would probably have been to let him trail me the whole time, telling me what to do next. "You should cut it like this instead." "You know what would work better?" "Here, just let me do it."

But I wanted to celebrate, not kill him.

He reluctantly agreed to my request. But just in case, I wanted to do as much prepping as possible before he got home. I prepared and measured out all of the ingredients so I could just start throwing them in the pan once he walked in the door (timing is the hardest thing about cooking I am learning).

As I started washing, chopping, and shredding, I realized something. I've actually learned a lot about cooking just from watching Wine Guy these last two years. He has so many little tricks and shortcuts that he's figured out by trial and error over the years. And here I am, a total novice,with skills I didn't even know I had learned!

When Wine Guy came home I gave him a kiss and pointed him to the couch. He peered over my shoulder, trying to see what I had going on in there. I tried to block his view but it was too late.

"Can I just say one thing???" he asked as I shoved him out of the doorway.

He looked like he had something important to say and, well, I didn't want to screw the whole dinner up. "Fine, go."

As he stepped inside he pointed at the pots hanging on the pot rack. There's one in particular he wanted me to see - and it wasn't the one I had simmering on the stove.

"See this?" He points to a deep pan hanging on the rack. "This is a saucepan. What you are using is a saute pan, and its shallowness and curve is making the liquid evaporate more than you want."

I looked at the stove and, horrorified, realized he was right. The sauce was reducing too quickly. I was seconds away from having a few glumps of tomatoes that would barely cover one serving of pasta.

"What do I do?" I panicked, finally letting him inside the kitchen.

He headed straight to the back cabinet. The one I've opened maybe twice since we've lived here. "Hold on, I think we have some more tomatoes here."

Wine Guy shuffled around and finally pulled out a big can of whole tomatoes. "Just open this and drain the juice into your pan. That should do it."

He handed it to me and then he did the kindest thing he's done in some time. He smiled, walked out of the kitchen and went downstairs, leaving me to finish cooking dinner.

By the time we sat down to eat, I was so nervous my appetite was nowhere to be found. But, once I saw that he was enjoying both the salad and the pasta, I relaxed and took a deep breath -- and smelled the wonderful scent of garlic, onions and tomatoes that had filled the upstairs. All of a sudden I was hungry. And it was good.

Thanks for the gifts you've given me, Wine Guy. Just by being who you are.

Dismissed.

May 18, 2009

The Man-Purse Challenge

"Can you hold this for me?"

Sounds like an innocent enough question. And when my purse has any spare room, as it often does, I always say yes.

It's rarely a woman who asks me this question. Mostly because she would also be carrying a purse to hold her standard must-carry items - wallet, phone, lipstick, tampons.

But the man-- the poor man. Cursed with the back pocket as his only solution. Before the cell phone and other bulkier electronic must-carry items, all the man needed to worry about was the wallet. Easy enough to slip in the back pocket. No lipstick, hopefully, to worry about and all that jangling change goes in the front pocket or gets left in a jar at home.

Well, those days of pity are over. We all have bulky items we need to carry around these days, whether we wear lipstick and sanitary napkins or not. And it only seems fair that men should have to carry their load.

The first year of my relationship with Wine Guy I would respond with, "You need a good bag to carry your stuff." This was met with a stern look, and my purse got heavier.

Then I went sarcastic (always my first, less effective fallback). "Seriously, you need a man-purse." This was met with an even sterner, "No way."

Now, two years later, I've pretty much given up and accepted my lot in life -- say , "Sure" and and shove his items into my purse. Sometimes he even slips them in without my knowledge. Then, of course, it's my duty to remember they are there and return them to him before we eventually go our separate ways.

I haven't given Wine Guy crap about his need for a man-purse in awhile. But his birthday is fast approaching and, well, it's hard for me to imagine someone of any gender wouldn't want a wonderful bag to carry their most beloved items (I am a woman after all). So I thought I'd give it the old college try one more time, minus the sarcasm.

"How about a nice bag for your birthday?" I asked as I fished his phone and wallet out of my purse while standing together in a dark parking lot.

Clearly, time has not healed this wound. He responded, "Seriously, don't even think about it getting me that. I won't use it."

I handed his items over and mumbled, "I know." Defeat.

So....should I give up and consider myself his human purse? Or have any of you ladies (or men) found a solution? There's got to be some item out there (short of a fanny pack) that could please us both?

Help.

Dismissed.

May 14, 2009

Games for Grownups

After two years, I can't freakin' believe Wine Guy finally tricked me into allowing video games into the house.

I HATE video games.

OK, the vintage Atari 2600 games are just fine in my book. Lord knows I spent much of my youth playing them. But as a teenage babysitter, I saw how absolutely mindless and antisocial the boys I watched became while playing.

Then throw in Naval A-hole and the marathon sessions of Halo with his squadron buddy that he forced me to attend during my visits up to rural Washington state just to see him....well, you can see why I dislike them so much.

Wine Guy is well aware of this and has been respectful. So much so that he refrained from setting up his PS2 station when we moved in together. Now that's restraint.

But when I came home tonight, I walked into what looked like Christmas morning.

A few days ago WG's boss gave him a beautiful new LCD HDTV as a surprise bonus. Well, since that was "free," WG figured he might as well invest a little money in some additional video technology to make our set up even better.

While I was at the movies tonight, WG was at his weekly wine tasting talking it over with his friends. When he told them how much I loathe all things video game, one of them suggested a Wii as a possible solution. He bit.

One trip to Best Buy later and all of a sudden we are the proud owners of a Wii console and a Wii Fit. He bought the latter as a "surprise" for me because I have heard good things from a few of my like-minded female friends and talked about wanting to try it.

At first I was a little stunned and perhaps scared that our nights would now consist of me sitting on the couch "watching" WG play games and waiting for him to finish so we could actually, you know, talk or something. He was a little disappointed that I didn't jump with joy and cover him with grateful kisses.

But once he got it going, the thank you kisses were aplenty. Next thing I know, here I am at 12:30am sitting on the couch and watching him snowboard. And providing my own play by play. And having fun.

This after an hour of setting up our Miis (our customized avatars), trying some balance games and aerobics on the Fit, and building our teamwork skills by playing a few games of doubles tennis together. We're talking high fives and everything (OK, that was me getting a little too competitive).

If this is the what video games are now, then I might just have to change my mind. This could be the best thing that has happened to us in awhile. I'm talking "quality time," not to mention setting fitness goals and reaching them together on the Wii Fit (how cool is that!) Or it could just be the honeymoon phase. Only time will tell.

Dismissed.

Addendum: I started writing this during WG's third snowboard run, suddenly inspired with a relationship story to tell that wasn't throughly depressing. I've been writing for about 15 minutes and about two minutes ago he turned to me and said with a kinda cute whine, "[Trooper], come and watch. Come and appreciate my skills!"

Oh shit.

Dismissed again.

May 9, 2009

"I"s and "We"s - Part I

I knew there was trouble when she stopped using the word “I.” You know, that all-important word that represents the individual in us all. The word that is so important that it must be capitalized. Well, when Blonde Wife had her baby, that word ceased to exist.

“How are you doing?” I would ask.

“Oh, we’re doing really great,” she’d reply.

Uh, OK. Try again.

“What have you been up to lately?”

“Oh, lots. First we went to the park. Then we went to the local pool and signed up for swim lessons. You have to get on the waiting list at least two years ahead you know.”

No. I didn’t know that.

I was a bridesmaid in her wedding a few years ago. We must still have something in common.

“So how are you feeling?”

“Well, Blonde Baby vomited yesterday. But I think it was just a little gas. We’re feeling much better today. I don’t think it was anything serious.”

I knew I’d lost her. Blonde Wife was gone. Blonde Mom was here to stay.

But I still didn’t care. I thought the world of this person. I’d met her in grad school and immediately knew she was one of those rare women who I absolutely, totally admired. She was beautiful. Humble. Funny as shit. Intelligent and interested in subjects far deeper than the latest celebrity scandal. But she wasn’t above a good poop joke either. She had a wonderful relationship with her soon-to-be-husband that I hoped to someday emulate, and, best of all, she seemed to “get me” -- and liked me anyway. When she asked me to be a bridesmaid in her wedding, I was so honored I couldn’t get to the dreaded David’s Bridal fast enough.

So when I realized she was letting this wonderful “I” individual go and replacing her with a “We” I didn’t quite understand, I was let down.

I had no problem with her first, subtler “We,” transition when she met, dated, moved in with, and then married her husband. But there was still plenty of room left over for the woman I treasured as a friend. Plus, I liked the man she chose to spend her life with.

But Blonde Baby changed everything. First they moved to the northern suburban outskirts of town. That’s fine. I’ve got plenty of mom friends who moved to the boonies with their babies. No biggie. If you are important enough to my life, I will make the effort. Hell, I’ve got a calendar. Let’s get it on the books.

So Blonde Mom and I would schedule plans – dinner at her place with the family – about a month ahead of time. The Blonde Family is very busy after all with the various in-laws and rigorous baby schedule. But when the day would arrive, she would cancel via email with some seemingly heartfelt excuse. Of course I understood.

So we’d go for round two and plan another dinner a few weeks down the road. I wanted them to meet and get to know Wine Guy. Blonde Wife had met him once, only briefly, and I felt that people who are so important to me should get the chance to bond in a more meaningful way. I told her this.

She canceled again.

So we go one more round.

When she canceled the third time, I finally threw up my hands up and said “OK, ball’s in your court.” Of course, by this time (six+ months later) Wine Guy didn’t understand why I cared so much. I mean, who the hell are these people anyway? Obviously they can’t be that important to me if we’ve been together over a year and they’ve barely even met.

No matter how much I tried to argue him on the matter, I knew he was right. It was about time I started to take the hint. Especially after I learned, via a Facebook status update, that Blonde Wife was pregnant with Blonde Baby #2. I dutifully submitted my public “Congratulations” wall post. No response.

Then I learn through yet another Facebook status update that it’s a boy. A perfect balance to their now three-year-old girl. I gave my public “Congratulations” wall post. No response.

The I learn through a Facebook wall post that Blonde Wife made on a mutual friend’s wall that there were complications with the pregnancy that sounded pretty serious.

Suddenly it hit me. A sad fact I figured out a few friends-with-first-babies ago that I somehow always manage to forget all over again. Just because I consider someone part of my family, doesn’t mean I’m a part of theirs.

And just to clarify in case some of you moms are wondering, I love kids - including hers -- and was/am always willing to make Blonde Baby #1 part of whatever plans we made together and spent plenty of time talking about all things baby with her before she bailed on me.

But I’m not one of those people who go quietly into the night – especially when it comes to a friend I really trust and believe in. So I decided I had nothing to lose but ask her straight out – are we friends or what?

Wine Guy was strongly against this maneuver. He urged me to just “get over it" (quite possibly the most infuriating advice ever given). Plus, he didn’t know her like I did. We were FRIENDS. I considered myself a savvy friend-picker at this point, and I was 100% sure that there was something I was missing here. Something about our friendship that could be fixed.

So I wrote her an email that said,
“…without Facebook I wouldn't know that you are A) pregnant B) having a boy and C) having complications, surgeries and mandatory bed rest (I'm sorry about everything in C). Are we friends or what?.. it's very hard to be just "Facebook friends" with someone I felt so close to not long ago. Especially when you are going through big life moments - good and bad….Did I do something? Do I just not fit into your world now?... I don't know....I've been through many scenarios in my head and finally just said 'screw it' - and thought I'd actually just ask you.”

In the closing (not included above) I tried very hard not to push too hard and to let her know that my thoughts are with her during what I assume is a tough time (but don't know the details since she hasn't talked to me in months). I asked her to get back to me when and if she felt ready.

Overall it was a sincere attempt to be honest and straightforward. If you know me at all (and she does), you'd know I meant it.

The Blonde Wife I knew would have responded with a real answer. Of course, this is assuming she hadn’t morphed into some sort of alien “We.” You be the judge – here’s her response word for word.

“Thank you for your words of concern about my health. It's been a very scary time for us. However, as you might imagine, I am nowhere near being able to respond to the rest of your message. I'm feeling "kicked while I am down," by it quite frankly. Right now my priorities are to focus on being well enough to be here for Blonde Baby#1 and not to lose this baby [Blonde Baby #2].”

Ouch. Much worse than I ever anticipated. I certainly wasn't intending to jeopardize her baby's by asking about our friendship. I just wanted to be included in her life.

Two weeks later I see another Facebook post she made about her family's upcoming vacation to Hawaii. You tell me. If you are well enough to fly six hours to an island vacation destination, don’t you think you could – at the very least – reply to an email from one of your three freakin’ bridesmaids who just wants to be your friend?

This vacation announcement hurt more than her original response to me. So I decided to spare myself further pain by "unfriending" her from Facebook to avoid any more updates about her ultra active “We” life. Shortly thereafter I took Wine Guy’s advice and emotionally gave up on our friendship -- probably about eight months after she did.

This all took place in January 2009, and the exchange kicked off a massive depression for me. Mostly because it felt like a confirmation of my deepest, darkest fears that I always hoped were entirely delusional; that as a single, childless woman, I am thoroughly insignificant in the eyes of a woman with a husband and child(ren).

And I don’t mean this to sound as self-deprecating as it does. I don’t even take it all that personally, really. How could I when there is absolutely NOTHING I can think of to justify why Blonde Wife would do this except for the fact that she is totally and completely immersed in her new role as Mom? She moved to a Mom neighborhood. She made all new Mom friends who do all sorts of Mom activities together. And she just simply doesn’t have room for my silly little dating/job/dog life anymore.

This thought hurt me more than if she had replied with, “You are a total bitch. I hate it when you _____ and I never want to talk to you again.” Then at least I would have a reason. Something to improve upon. Or at least something to tell her to go fuck herself over.

But this? This is just….life. People move on. I totally get that. But I just thought our friendship was a bit deeper than that. Like the handful of other women I adore who have had children and haven’t flicked me off their lapel like piece of worthless lint.

Granted, many of them have moved on or evolved past the "I" stage. But there’s that certain few who, even if we don't speak for six months at a time, when we do connect it’s like not a moment has passed. And nobody’s mad at anyone for disappearing for awhile.And when we do finally get together, I don’t mind if we spend the day with their kids, talking about their kids, while sitting poolside at their kid’s swim lesson. As long as we know that we are important to each other – that’s all I ask.

But you just can’t avoid the inevitable. Along with that baby comes a wall that keeps the “I”s and “We”s just a little bit separated. It’s nothing personal. But it doesn’t mean there aren’t casualties – usually on the “I” side.

…..To Be Continued…

Dismissed.

April 28, 2009

Kids in Love

Thanks everyone for your words of support. I'm glad to hear that (at least some of you) aren't tired of the DT/WG relationship ups and downs. I promise to keep them coming, mixed in with some classics from my previous battles. It's so strange to have a crisis of confidence on a public blog. Strange, but comforting too. Thanks for reading!

I'm working on a new entry but in the meantime couldn't resist sharing this video that captures what I wish love in the grown up was like all the time (not just at the beginning). Absolutely adorable. Enjoy.




Dismissed.

April 21, 2009

Rebirth of the Blog

As much as I love Wine Guy and all the fodder he has given me for this blog, I have to admit that his arrival on the scene just two months after it first launched (Feb. 2007) took me (and you guys) down an entirely different - and perhaps less entertaining- path than I had intended.

I wanted to tell stories. Funny ones. Pathetic ones. Unbelievable ones. And all true ones. Basically the stories about dating that make it all sometimes feel like an excruciating war that, if you survive with your dignity intact (let alone with a significant other), you feel like you deserve a medal, a statue, and an annual reunion with your fellow war buddies. Instead, what you ended up getting with this blog was a bunch of neurotic relationship-building blather.

Well, I'm done with that --at least until something major happens with us. In the meantime, I don't think you want to hear about how Wine Guy and I split up the house cleaning chores or that WG's farts are growing more frequent, louder, and more entertaining - to him.

Instead, I'm going to tap into the extensive reservoir of dating stories I never got to tell you. The ones that formed my perspective and the ones, frankly, I think you might actually want to read.

If it has to do with a boy that caught my eye, it's fair game. and trust me, I have stories that go back to kindergarten. Hopefully this will keep you interested, entertained and - most importantly - feeling like you're not in this alone.

It all boils down to this - I forgot this damn blog was supposed to be FUN! Not just for the readers but for me too, dammit. Bitching and moaning about whatever is bothering me that day (there's always something) and getting nasty comments about how my ovaries are drying up while I waste time being with the man I love (who hasn't proposed yet)....NOT FUN.

Since I'm on medical leave and have NOTHING to do all day, I hope to post more frequently. That's my goal anyway. There's only so much knitting and TV watching a person can do in a day.

Hope you stick around for the rebirth of Dating is Warfare.

Dismissed.

April 19, 2009

Gimp Chronicles

I'm mostly writing this post to push the last two down from the top of the list. I've heard from friends who have been catching up on Dating is Warfare over the last month, all of whom want to share their thoughts and reactions to some of the comments I received that clearly upset me. To be honest, it is all a vague blur to me and I can't really bring myself to re-read them. I was in no place to be reading or writing - let alone pondering life- having just come home from the hospital, in a lot of pain ,and not in the most uplifting of moods.

But I just wanted to say that I'm back in the land of the living, thinking and semi-walking and will resume writing more regularly again soon. After two weeks recuperating at my mom's, I came home about two weeks ago and have been getting better every day, physically and (sort of) mentally.

Wine Guy is taking tremendous care of me though it is no fun being so dependent on someone and I'm eager to get my extracurricular life back. As of right now, I can't drive, can put on my own shoes or socks, and can't bend forward to pick anything up. But I'm off the pain killers, catching up with my friends and remembering what my life used to be like pre-surgery.

Still, there is lots to tell and I will be back again soon telling it. Thanks for (hopefully) sticking around.

Dismissed.

March 31, 2009

It's Not You....

Since most of my life at the moment consists of all things bathroom-related (delicately getting in and out of bed to go to and from on my walker, stuffing myself with all things fiber to try to "make things happen" -- and being continually disappointed with the results), I am going to step back from Dating is Warfare for awhile. Unless you guys really want to know about my bathroom habits, pill intake, and nap lengths, and I suspect you don't.

Judging from my last posting - and the fact that I even thought it appropriate to post at all-- and my overly sensitive reaction to people's comments and opinions, I think it's time we take a break until I'm in a better place. Nothing personal. It's not you, it's me. I promise, I'll call you soon.

If you really miss me, I will be posting here and there at my ChickenheadsKnit blog since knitting will be my new best friend once I get the bathroom thing settled and I stop having double vision from all these painkillers.

Otherwise, dismissed.

*Thanks to those of you who sent me supportive messages this week. Very thoughtful (and helpful).

March 29, 2009

Ouch - Literally and Emotionally

Hello from the drugged up side. I made it through my surgery and six loooong days in the hospital. Now I'm home at my mom's being waited on by both her and Wine Guy. Sounds nice in theory but in reality it's a powerless position to be in and I'm cranky about it - probably because I'm due for more painkillers (which I'll take as soon as I hit publish).

Catching up on the comments I received from my last blog entry, one in particular really knocked me in the gut. Probably because it is the last thing I need to hear right now - and probably because she is right. However, I am not supposed to be thinking about such major life issues while dealing with a broken body (or so my shrink tells me). But is she right?

For all I know, this could be a comment from someone I know personally who is finally (and anonymously) telling me what she's had on her mind for months. Or she really is just a anonymous person, tired of hearing other people whine and suffer about their relationships when she saw how easy it can be when it's right.

Anyway, I'm ready for drugs and a doze so I'll put it out there for your opinions. Read the original post (linked to above) if you haven't already. And here is Anon's comment:

Man, when are you going to DUMP this guy? I mean seriously. This guy has to have had some clue about the relation of this party to a wedding shower. In the time that I started reading this blog about a year ago, I started dating a man, and am now engaged to him. There ARE men who want to get married. I dated a guy for about 4 years prior to this relationship, and he was wonderful and loving and did anything I wanted him to... but he did not want to get married. Don't give too many years to a guy who's afraid to LIVE LIFE. My two cents. Glad you have someone to take care of you. But seriously. If you want kids, your ovaries are drying up. If you don't, well, you're getting wrinkly.