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

December 31, 2011

Generic New Year's Greetings

It's a quiet late afternoon on New Year's Eve. I've spent the day much as I've spent the majority of this holiday break, by myself with little to do but take my dog for a walk, watch a movie, nap, tidy up and check Facebook. Much of the time it feels like heaven. But sometimes it feels like hell.

While my New Year's Eve plans feel entirely acceptable to me, I realize that many of you will think me pathetic. Trust me, I sought out other options first -- even ones that didn't seem all that appealing. But my friends who are in town and without children either already had plans or just felt like staying home. I considered spending the evening home alone and probably would've done so if most of my forced holiday vacation wasn't exactly that. Too much solitary time does not serve this extrovert well and ringing in the New Year all by my lonesome borders on dangerous.

So tonight I'm spending NYE exactly where I spent it last year -- in my old apartment with Wine Guy.

Our breakup has been almost too ideal. He helped me move (on his 40th birthday no less), we shopped for new furniture for our places together (totally confusing the sales guy), he gave me a lovely birthday present and has come with me to visit my mom who lives about 40 minutes away (she missed him).

He's still my best friend, albeit one who gets on my nerves in all the same ways he used to (and vice versa). We did recently hit a snag when he felt the need to talk about the type of women he's seen on one of the dating sites, but insists he hasn't joined. I didn't want to hear about it and told him to steer clear of that subject. But he naively insisted and, before he knew it, we were in an awkward tiff that he later profusely apologized for walking us into.

Funny thing about it is that I'm the one who's actually dating, not him. So why does the idea of him even thinking about dating upset me? Because his odds are better. I know that when he wants to be in a relationship again (after the sting of being with me for four years has worn off), there will most likely be a quality 30-something woman eagerly awaiting his email. There are lots of us. What there aren't are lots of him. Sure he has significant flaws, but he's still the person I choose to spend nights like NYE with and I know that pretty soon he'll be wanting to spend them with someone else, as he should. I just don't want to hear about it until it happens.

While tonight will be pleasant (he's cooking after all :-), I know it's something of a step backwards. This certainly isn't where I expected to be at this point in 2011. And the feeling only gets worse as I see the many posts from my Facebook friends wishing us all a happy new year, generically thanking us for our friendship and hoping that all of our wishes will be fulfilled in 2012. It's nice, sure, but ultimately it's an empty declaration, especially when the person on the receiving end feels so entirely alone.

If you're playing the world's smallest violin right now, I don't blame you. I admit I'm having something of a pity party. What else are blogs for ;-)? But I also know that tomorrow, when the sun is shining and the pressure of being alone over the holidays is finally over,  I will feel more hopeful. I will appreciate the fact that I still have two more days of leisure time before I return to the daily grind that, I just realized, has kept this loneliness at bay for most of 2011. So that I am thankful for.

And, of course, I wish everyone a happy new year, generically thank you all for your friendship and hope that all of your wishes will be fulfilled in 2012.


December 22, 2011

One of my dearest friends, a happily married Veteran friends with five (!) children, sent me this article from The Guardian that was shared with her by another of her late 30s, single friends whose romantic life has eerily echoed mine since we first met in our early 20s.


Writer Kate Bolick
Photo: Mike McGregor, the Observer
It's a loooooong article on the sociology of singledom by Kate Bolick and I pretty much skimmed over the statistic-heavy paragraphs (numbers are not my strong suit). But overall it was an interesting read, if only to hear the voice of someone else in my same situation. It actually made me feel pretty good about where I am -- and probably will be for long while.


If you're not up for reading it, here are a few quotes that really jumped out at me. 


"...all this time, I realised, I'd been regarding my single life as a temporary interlude, one I had to make the most of – or swiftly terminate, depending on my mood. Without intending to, by actively rejecting our pop-culture depictions of the single woman – you know the ones – I'd been terrorising myself with their spectres. But now that 35 had come and gone, all bets were off. It might never happen. Or maybe not until 42. Or 70, for that matter. Was that so bad? If I stopped seeing my present life as provisional, perhaps I'd be a little… happier. Perhaps I could actually get down to the business of what it means to be a real single woman.


"In 2005, social psychologist Bella DePaulo coined the word singlism, in an article she published in Psychological Inquiry. Intending a parallel with terms like racism and sexism, DePaulo says singlism is "the stigmatising of adults who are single [and] includes negative stereotyping of singles and discrimination against singles". In her 2006 book, Singled Out, she argues that the complexities of modern life, and the fragility of the institution of marriage, have inspired an unprecedented glorification of coupling. (Laura Kipnis, the author of Against Love, has called this "the tyranny of two.") This marriage myth – "matrimania", DePaulo calls it – proclaims that the only route to happiness is finding and keeping one all-purpose, all-important partner who can meet our every emotional and social need. Those who don't have this are pitied. Those who don't want it are seen as threatening. Singlism, therefore, "serves to maintain cultural beliefs about marriage by derogating those whose lives challenge those beliefs."


Happy holidays to all my fellow crazy cat ladies!


Dismissed.

December 16, 2011

This post was brought to you by Therapy.

After my third date with Globetrotter, one thing became entirely clear --- I am in no condition to be dating. In fact, I'm downright harmful to the men I go out with, if not to myself.

I've had three significant relationship failures in my adulthood and now, at 39, I can finally see what part I played in making all of them possible. I always suspected I shared a not insignificant portion of the blame, but could never say exactly what shape that blame came in. If you don't know exactly what you did wrong, how can you ever expect to change?

And that's why I went to therapy -- to find out who I am and why I do what I do. Not to judge it (at least not at first), but to wholly understand it. After almost two years of gentle cognitive behavioral therapy, much of it focusing on managing a life and relationship through chronic pain, I figured out that my bad hip wasn't spoiling my relationship with Wine Guy. It was already destroyed. The hip stuff just prolonged the misery.

Wine Guy thought I was in too much physical agony and grief over the sudden loss of my sister and nephew to be able to handle another emotional hit like a break-up, not to mention too physically restricted to handle the move physically. He was right about that. But he wasn't just being a martyr. He was being a friend by sticking by me and helping me through such an awful time. Granted, we fought a lot and neither of us were happy, but we were still taking care of each other like family. I find this oddly comforting. The whole time I thought our relationship was slowly dying when, really, a fierce friendship was holding us together.

So why did we fail in the first place? One simple reason: my impatience, which pushed me into a relationship that was doomed from the start.

This explanation is true for both Wine Guy and Only Child (Naval A-hole gets his own category called "sociopath"), both of whom I picked because they were kind, harmless men. They were also both indecisive wheel-spinners, but really nice, non-threatening ones (yes, at some point in my life I saw/see men as threatening - that's another year of therapy to figure out). Perhaps not insignificantly, they both had verbally abusive fathers and both men, at one point or another, compared me to their dads. Yeah, not good.

Why was I such a verbally abusive bitch (I really wasn't that bad. These guys were both overly sensitive too, as most of my friends will attest)? Because their indecisiveness drove me fucking insane. It made them seem weak. It made me lose tiny flakes of respect for them. That shit builds up fast and, well, I've always had a bit of a verbal temper.

Of course, when I first met them they just seemed like unusually kind men who were more comfortable hanging out with women than their own brute gender. Hence why I called both of them my "gay-straight boyfriends." It takes a little time --usually 6 months to a year-- for those qualities to start seeming weak, indecisive, overly sensitive and wimpy (at least to me).

But why, oh why, once I figured that out, did I move in with them and begin the march towards marriage, whether we liked it or not? This was the part of the blame that was hardest for me to accept. Actually, I couldn't or wouldn't even see it as a possibility until my therapist gently guided me there and placed it on my lap to be gently examined.

Ah, yes. Impatience.

I was so busy pushing the ball and chain up the mountain that I forgot to stop and notice if it was too heavy for me in the first place. Never one to back down from a struggle, I assumed this was one more "battle" I had to fight (sense a theme here?). That it was supposed to be this heavy. Besides, it would take too long to let it roll back down and go off to try to find another. I have a ticking clock here, people. So I pushed on. First Only Child, then Wine Guy (with a pause for the whirlwind, long-distance mind fuck that was Naval A-hole).

Now I see it clear as day and I can assure everyone that it won't happen again. Not the failed relationship part, there are countless ways I've yet to discover to ruin one of those--but the pushing something forward before I've checked to see if I like the way it's rolling part. I feel really solid in this realization and proud of all the work I did to get myself here.

But what am I supposed to do now that I know every relationship instinct I've followed has been flawed pretty much to the core? How am I supposed to know when the right situation presents itself without worrying about the accuracy of my instincts? How on earth did all that therapy lead me right into George "if every instinct you have is wrong, then the opposite would have to be right" Costanza territory (you remember that episode of Seinfeld, right?)?!

Needless to say, without an accurate compass to rely on, I'm in no condition to be dating. I learned this after my third date with Globetrotter. We're a great intellectual/sense of humor match and it's impossible not to be comfortable with him. But do I detect a little wheel-spinning there? Hmmmm. I want to jump up and high-five him when we stumble on another crazy thing we both have in common, but when he tries to hold my hand or kiss me, I feel like I turn to stone. I could see on the poor guy's face that he was sad and confused, but if he thinks my signals are mixed, he should try being inside my own head. It's even worse in here.

As I sat down to type this, I remembered having a similar panicky feeling about getting physically close to Wine Guy when we first started dating. I dug around in my Spring 2007 entries until I found the post I was looking for, My Walled Garden. I was amazed at how accurately I described what I felt the other night after awkwardly saying goodbye to Globetrotter and driving home in tears.

"I know when I've gone a little while without being - um - touched, I tend to build up walls. Then I get used to being walled in. It actually starts to feel all safe and cozy there in my little walled garden. So when potential for simple intimacy pops up (holding hands, arm around shoulder) I feel myself tense up. I can't help it. He probably feels it too."

I suppose the fact that I'm finding similarities between the two dating scenarios already should tell me me something. Globetrotter is safe and comfortable to me because I know his "type." But a safe, comfortable "buddy" isn't what I should be looking for. Shouldn't I be kicking down my stupid walls and climbing all over him? Trust me, that's what I want to be doing-- just not apparently with him.

The difference between now and then is that now I know how to emotionally nurture myself. More specifically, how to not beat myself up about it. It's not my "fault" that I froze up. That's how I felt and it's OK if I don't know why. Maybe I'm just not physically attracted to him (he is an inch shorter than me). Or maybe I'm just not ready to date. Or maybe I should stop putting myself in forced romantic scenarios through online dating and only date guys I click with "in the wild" (not that it happens a lot). Maybe it's a little bit of everything. But the one thing it isn't is something I should be kicking myself over like I was during my drive home that night.

Whatever it is, I'm glad shared it here instead of picking up the phone and calling my best friend, Wine Guy, a thought that seriously crossed my mind until I realized my phone had suddenly died. Divine cellular inspiration perhaps?

Dismissed.

November 22, 2011

Take Off an Inch


This week, I gave an inch. Literally.

Height has always been one of my dealbreakers. I think it started in middle school when I realized I'd rather slow dance with a boy while resting my cheek on his chest, smelling the fresh Tide detergent on his Local Motion surfer t-shirt (still my favorite "cologne"), instead of gazing down at the top of his head feeling like an Amazon freak.

I guiltily recall spending one 7th grade dance trying to avoid little JT as he rustled up the courage to ask me to dance. Eventually all that evasion led me right into the arms of the 5'9" new kid from "Wis-kaan-sin" wearing a freshly washed white t-shirt and enough new-to-California innocence to accept my dance invitation disguised as an escape plea because he still hadn't figured out that a boy of his caliber could skip right past the brunettes and land himself a cute California blonde. (He ultimately figured it out.)

At this point in life, I'm humbled and realistic enough to know that arbitrary boundaries such as these are never helpful, and may be potentially harmful. So, while I continue to seek out men in the higher altitudes, I still give every guy who seeks me out a fair evaluation.

And that's how I ended up going out with two men in one week who fell one solid inch below my previously stated 5'9" minimum. Without that bit of unfortunate data, both men seemed interesting, smart, funny, and attractive enough to jump to the top of my (very small) pile of emails. This is not a town where men of this caliber present themselves frequently. The "cream of the crop" in San Diego is a shirtless outdoor enthusiast looking for a 26-year-old blonde to go jogging with before they head to a Chargers game. God help me. Am I supposed to let a rare non-Diegan get away because of one lousy inch?

Sunday I had brunch with Globetrotter, a boyish father of two, who's clearly enamored by intelligent, expressive women (also a rarity in San Diego) and who's managed to make a respectable living doing something for the betterment of society. Oh, and he's half Indian. Award: Bonus inch.

Last night I had ramen and sake with Fuzzy, a mid-40s Midwestern Jew with a sarcastic streak and a soft spot for his hairless dog named, you guessed it, Fuzzy. Oh, and he's tried out every hole-in-the-wall Asian restaurant in town and is willing to give me the highlights. Award: Bonus inch.

Both dates went fine. Well, fine enough to know I didn't hate them, which is all you should realistically expect to find out on a blind date. You can also gauge any immediate sexual chemistry, though I have to admit that, for me, a strong sexual attraction to a complete stranger usually means trouble.

I have to say, both men were very different, and each brought out a different side of my personality. Globetrotter had me trying to be my best. Not trying to impress him necessarily, but not plopping down and putting my feet up either. Subtlety has never been my strong suit, so it's strange when I find myself trying to behave with any shades of it. So this was an change for me, and not an entirely unwelcome one. After all, prematurely claiming familiarity hasn't exactly gotten me very far, has it?

Fuzzy brought out the New Yorker in me, long buried under California surf and sand after all these years. We made wisecracks. We swapped war stories. We drank strong sake and slurped ramen. Not exactly romance novel material, but the rapport was something I missed from my New York days, even if it only seemed to generate unhealthy relationships for me at the time.

In all honesty, I hadn't thought too much about either date until I sat down and started writing about them after a few too many swigs on the sake bottle. First dates with complete strangers don't deserve too much analyzing. At this point I'm viewing them as successful attempts to get myself out of the house and practice my conversation skills, maybe make a friend or two. If I'm lucky, I'll get lucky.

In other words, I'll start overanalyzing after the second dates, both of which seem to be a strong possiblity -- as is a first date with an honest to God six-footer.

Happy Thanksgiving! Dismissed.

November 4, 2011

Indian Redheads

I had every intention of meeting up with Wisconsin Red tonight. Especially after being cheered on by several persuasive readers in my last post (thanks pollycharlie, bella and mimi). But when I woke up this morning and saw it was blustering rain outside, I wondered how much I really wanted to rush around on the wet freeways, first home from work to walk my dog, then back across town to the bar he picked (a good one).

But I was still ready to rally throughout the first half of the day, until I had to walk from a distant parking lot on to campus with a crappy umbrella. I had stayed home from work the day before and still wasn't feeling well, so by the end of the day, soggy and chilled, I reconsidered my plans.

Welcome to my perfect Friday night. I stopped at the killer ramen place for a heavenly bowl of spicy miso tofu pork noodle goodness, brought it home to my happy pup, hopped in my flannel PJs and caught up on my Thursday night shows on Hulu (thank you "Modern Family" for "The Gift of the Vagi"--best line ever).

But before it could be a truly perfect evening, I had to come here to confess my cowardliness. Yes, all that stuff about me not feeling well, the rain, etc was true, but I also got scared -- and I don't get scared often.

It's not that I haven't gotten over Wine Guy, but that, for the first time, I feel protective of myself. Of my life. Of my freedom. Before I was more than happy to give it all away just to have the "marriage and child" box checked on my report card. Clearly I didn't value my own existence all that much.

Apparently I do now, a little. And since I've never dated under these circumstances, I'm afraid that I might once again compromise myself away so I can still make it under the "normal" wire. I don't want to do that, but judging by how upset I got when I found out Wisconsin Red wasn't a realistic option, I still don't trust my instincts.

Basically, I kinda freaked out and let myself off the hook. I think I'm OK with it. Hope you are too (not that care what you think, dammit :-)

The good news is, OKCupid is still coughing up some interesting possibilities, including a 27 year old, 6'1" Indian guy who asked, after telling me how much he liked what I said in my profile, if I would consider "dating a younger guy." Oh, and he actually lives here. Uh, hell yeah. (If I could just find an Indian redhead, I'd be in love).

Thank you for your patience.

Dismissed.

November 2, 2011

Lighten Up

I get that love is fleeting. But can't it at least last longer than "The Daily Show?"

Upon the advice of friends and a few of my faithful readers, I waded into the world of free online dating -- OK Cupid. The first few days were refreshing in that at least a few men contacted me. Granted, they were with messages from shirtless creeps who felt compelled to say, "Hey sexy"-- and nothing else, but at least it was some acknowledgment of my existence.

The distasteful attention tapered a bit once the sleaze bags realized I wasn't interested, so I decided to do a little tinkering with my profile. Mostly I wanted to lighten it up. Sure, I'd love to find "the one," but right now I really would be happy with the right here, right now. Someone to flirt with, have a drink with, maybe smooch. Once I did the necessary tweaks--and changed my answer for "Want kids?" from "Yes" to "Not sure"--I got a few bites. But still, nothing firm.

Tonight I decided to do some browsing and found the closest thing to my dream guy in years. Tall, moderately nerdy, in constant pursuit of knowledge and discovery, funny bordering on dorky, etc. He even has red hair, something I kind of have a thing for (I blame Richie Cunningham).

Before I even realized it, I was sending him an email and he replied shortly thereafter. Within 10 minutes we had a date for drinks this Friday night. After another 5 minutes he responded to my very first email in total surprise. It seems we both thought we'd emailed each other "first" and the other person was just responding. In reality, we probably emailed each other at the exact same moment. He saw my initial email only after we'd made a date.

The kind of story to tell the grand kids one day right? I was so excited (a feeling I haven't experienced in relation to dating in more than four years) that I called my mom to tell her some good news for a change. Suddenly, Friday night was something to look forward to again.

I finally settled down to watch last night's Daily Show and, when I got bored with the Condoleeza Rice interview, I picked up my phone and saw a new message from my red-headed cutie. In an earlier email he mentioned he was leaving town on Saturday so a Friday night date would work. In passing, and mostly as a joke, I responded "I assume your trip is for vacation or work and you're not moving out of town?"

His answer was even worse than I jokingly predicted -- and apparently in his profile all along, something I clearly missed while eagerly reading his charming self-description. He lives in Madison, Wisconsin and is here on business, just for the week.

It's my own fault. In my attempt to "lighten up" my profile, I pretty much say, "Hey, what's the harm in meeting for a drink and having some good conversation?" He took me up on that suggestion and seems sincere about it (and too dorky to be just looking to get laid while he's in town). Before Stephen Colbert could crack his first joke, my dating mojo was left in a burning heap.

But I think I'm still going to meet him for that drink. It's not like I have a lot of other offers from eligible local men. Any thoughts out there from the troops?

October 20, 2011

Punctuate this.

I suppose I should add good grammar to my short list of dealbreakers? Maybe not, the odds are already stacked against me. Still, this graphic cracked me up.

Now that you're smiling too,
perhaps you're in the mood to
like my brand, spanking new Dating is Warfare Facebook page? I promise to use proper
punctuation (or at least accept
your corrections:-)


Thanks. You are kindly dismissed.

October 18, 2011

5' 7" Christians Need Not Apply


It's one thing when a man lets you down, but when your dating service -- which you are paying for -- can't deliver the goods, then you've got a real problem in the romance department.

Three months after Wine Guy and I broke up, I joined eHarmony. I chose it over other dating sites because, after four years of being coupled up, it was the one I vaguely remembered as being the least douchebaggy of the options.

So, is it still the case that eHarmony men are less douchebaggy than, say, the guys on match.com?

Unfortunately, I can't really tell you because, after almost two months on eHarmony, I haven't fucking met any of them yet.

OK, I met one. But he was more of a test run and neither one of us felt the need to follow up. Since that dull date, I've had no face-to-face interaction with any man whatsoever. I did have an enjoyable phone call but, despite his emailing me the next day to tell me how much he enjoyed it--and my equally pleasant response-- I never heard from him again.

If I didn't know any better, I'd think someone in the sucky single universe has blackballed me. But I do know better.

I know exactly why the pickings are so slim for a smart, successful, attractive, funny [insert the word 'relatively' before each of those adjectives so I don't sound cocky, OK?) woman like me:

I'm single, in my late 30s and checked "Yes" on the "Want Children?" question. I am considering changing it to "Maybe" (and it may actually even be true at this point -- another entry).

It's not like the specifications I offered on eHarmony's marathon "personality profile" questionnaire were just too narrow to turn up a stud or two. If there's one thing I've learned over the last ten years, it's that my instincts are probably some version of wrong (very Costanza, I know). So why would I let those flawed instincts taint my love life?

In other words, I'm waaaaaay open-minded. But I did decide to put my foot down on two dealbreakers, and I made those demands explicitly clear to eHarmony:

1. Bring me a man who is 5'9" or taller.
2. Bring me a man whose religious preference is ONLY one of the following four choices (listed in order of preference): a) spiritual, but not religious; b) atheist; c) Buddhist; or d) Jewish.

That's not too much to ask, right?

So why, oh why, do I have dozens and dozens of eHarmony "matches" who are 5' 7" Christians?

I'm sure they're nice guys. Maybe we could be the best of friends. But there is no way I'm going to feel sexy with a man I tower over and outweigh by 50 pounds. I've got enough of an Amazon complex already. If he's shorter than me, he probably weighs less than me. And I just don't feel like getting it on with a guy I can pick up and whirl around.

I'm pretty much within a normal weight range, but I've got an athletic body type. Muscles and all that. In college I could bench press more than every girl -- and guy -- on our track team. Trust me, no one of either gender found that sexy.

As for religion, I culturally identify as Jewish but would no longer say it represents my spiritual self (for the record, I picked "Spiritual, but not religious"). I'm sure there are a few Jewish guys out there who feel similarly and, well, why not at least try to keep it in the family? Also, Muslims are out. It's just too politically complicated. Relationships are hard enough.

Buddhism is more a philosophy than a religion (to me anyway), and one I greatly admire at that. I've even begun to study it a little. I would be thrilled to find a man who embraced that mindset.

I've yet had the occasion to consider other religions, but since I kind of have a thing for Indian guys (in theory anyway), I guess I'm open to Hinduism. But don't hold me to that.

So that pretty much leaves us with Christians, of which there are many in a conservative town like San Diego. Here's how I figure it. If he's identifying as Christian on a dating website -- as opposed to just spiritual -- then he's pretty confident in his belief that Jesus is the son of God and all that other New Testament stuff.

Therefore, there is no valid reason why he should want to settle down with a woman who believes that Jesus was more likely just a kind, compassionate leader who'd probably be perfect to head up the new, ultra-left political party that this country so obviously needs. (By the way, if there's a Christian-identified single guy out there who agrees with me on this point, then he needs to change his status to "spiritual, but not religious" and call me.)

So, eHarmony. You've turned out to be one disappointing date. Anyone have suggestions for where I can meet a nice, geeky, agnostic man who can look me in the eye (while wearing no shoes) and maybe even bench press me? If so, you know where to find me.

Dismissed.

*SNR "Spiritual but not Religous" symbol borrowed from Urban Mystic's great 2010 post.

October 5, 2011

And We're Off....

Let the games begin.

I went on my first eHarmony "date" last weekend, though I hate to even call it a date since I looked at it mostly as a drive-by meet up. Hey, how are you, who are you, etc. With the many rounds of communication eHarmony puts you through, I pretty much knew the basics about the guy, but what I didn't know was what he was like. How could I? The Internet is a great place to come across potential new dates, but it is by no means a shortcut to intimacy.

Within the first 20 seconds of meeting him, I knew we weren't even close to a match. It doesn't mean I didn't like him. In fact, he seemed very sweet, polite and friendly. But he was also shy and made me do almost all the work when it came to conversation. If there's one thing I've learned about myself from past relationship disasters, it's that I want a man of action and quiet confidence. I've had my fill of trying to pump up insecure nice guys and show them how to be confident. If they do ever get it, it's usually after we've broken up, when they feel they can take my suggestions and cheerleader advice (that most assuredly is interpreted as 'nagging' to them) and bestow the rewards upon the next woman they meet. This happened with Only Child (who is now married and a father, more on that another time) and I'm just waiting for the day when it happens with Wine Guy.

The difference this time is that I've changed too. I've learned my lesson and won't waste time on a nice man whose personality shrinks next to mine. The thing is, I'm pretty sure that guy doesn't exist. At least not in this Wonder Bread town. Wait, I take that back. I'm sure there's plenty of dynamic, smart, confident men in San Diego, but most of them want the 26 year old beach bunny who's waiting at every turn.

OK, I admit I'm being a Bitter Betty right now. I'm just feeling a little low these days. And I admit (even hope) that I'm wrong. I guess I'll know sooner or later. If I don't move somewhere else first.

After an hour of friendly but forced conversation, I activated my exit strategy and parted ways with a smile. I'm happy to report I've heard nothing from him so the polite disinterest seemed to be mutual.

Now I'm back to wondering why the guy I did like on eHarmony, let's call him Brainiac because he wowed me with his nerdy intelligence, seems to have disappeared. After the phone call he emailed me to say how much he enjoyed talking and that I should get in touch when I came back from my vacation, which I did. Not one word back in the week since I emailed him. Brings me back to the good old days when Rabbi M pulled an inexplicable disappearing act on me. I suppose I should be thankful because it was his confusing inaction that made me start this blog in a fit of pique.

The games have indeed begun. God help me.

Dismissed.

September 27, 2011

Fueled by Friends

I just got back from my 6-day vacation to New York City, my first vacation since last Thanksgiving when Wine Guy and I rented a house in Palm Springs with a group of friends for the week. This was back when we were still pretending to be a committed couple even though we both knew the relationship would conclude once my debilitating medical problems were behind me. (We couldn't even wait quite that long. We broke up the week before my surgery.)

New York wasn't my first choice for a relaxing getaway. In fact, the city normally fills me with a regretful nostalgia for the six years I lived there. But I'm not wasting time with regret these days and one of my dearest friends from college is eight months pregnant and really, really wanted me to come to her baby shower. If I couldn't make it, she said, she probably just wouldn't have a shower; she's not the kind of person who loves groups of people celebrating her in public. Of course, this is a woman you want to celebrate. New York it is.

As much as I looked forward to spending time with my friend in the weeks before her life changed forever, I was also excited to see the city with the fresh eyes of a tourist, albeit one who already knows the subway system (and can finally walk up and the down the subway stairs!). Ever the over-planner, I soon devised an overstuffed itinerary including museums, Ground Zero, shopping, dining, you name it.

With the exception of a stop at my alma mater and a trip to the wrong museum, I got to virtually none of it.

I'm not disappointed in how little of the city I got to experience because I came home knowing I got exactly what I needed - a long stretch of time just being with a very good friend; someone I wholeheartedly trust, who understands just about all of my personality flaws because she has them herself, and someone who has nothing else to do but gestate and watch her ankles swell.

It turns out that she needed that time together as much as I did. I can't think of a better way to spend those hard-earned vacation days.

This was also the trip when I finally got to meet fellow dating bloggers Loverville and Mimi (of the now retired Sexagenarian and the City). Don't let anyone ever tell you that friendships formed in the blogosphere can't be truly genuine. I have counted both of these women as friends for several years -- before I ever learned their real names.

Actually, I think it was the anonymity of our blogs that allowed the connection to happen in the first place. With my identity hidden, I can afford to be entirely honest, not just about things that happen (I am) but about what I'm thinking or feeling about it. I don't know about Mimi and LV, but I use this blog as a journal where I work out my thoughts in a constant attempt to find the truth. Often times I stumble upon it about the same time you read it.

I'm also lacking a layer of suspicion while reading other blogs of our ilk (until they give me a reason not to trust them that is). I go into it thinking (hoping) they're as truthful as me. And if they're not, there's really not much at stake is there? There's nothing I respect more in a friendship than a mutual honest exchange about who we are and what we think. (And in case you're wondering, yes, this expectation has led to me being seriously let down by female friends in the past. I endured, ever more cautious.)

Loverville and Mimi, who both live in New York City and have met several times before, did not disappoint. Both open, intelligent women, their energies matched their writing. Over dinner on the Upper West Side, we jumped right in to the kind of conversation you have with your old college friends. No need to fill in our histories -- we'd been sharing our lives with each other (and lots of other people) for years. No discretion required -- we'd been blabbing about our sex lives and heartbreaks in more detail than with our "real" friends.

It felt entirely natural to dive right in to conversation, but I couldn't help but step back every little while to marvel at the fact that I'd only just laid eyes on them for the first time hours earlier. If this blog goes nowhere from here on out, I'll at least be thankful for that.

So, today's lesson is, indulge yourself in these kinds of friendships -- if you're lucky enough to have them.

Back soon with stories about the opposite sex.

Dismissed.

July 27, 2011

I am writing this against my will.

I am writing this against my will. But the fact is, I'm bursting with stories to tell. The kind of stories that made me start this blog in the first place, just so I could have a public place to vent--and then laugh about it the next day when I read it with a night's perspective.

But I can't tell you those stories if I don't first tell you this: The truce is broken. Wine Guy and I are over. I'm at war yet again.

Except I'm different now. Improved, I suppose. I say this because, for the first time in my adult life, singledom doesn't feel like a battlefield at all. It feels like home.

Here are the basics:
We knew our relationship was on the descent. Much of it due to the shitpile of bad luck I'd been handed over the last two years, including agonizing complications from an already awful hip surgery (my second one) and the sudden deaths of my sister and 7 year-old nephew in a car accident a year ago last April.

We also knew we just weren't a match. Simple as that. But breaking up wasn't an option until I got through my May 2 surgery -- hopefully the final hurdle in this marathon of pain.

Really, the last year of our relationship was more about dear friendship than romantic love. Because only the most generous, loving friend would willingly stick around to help someone through a year like that.

Of course, I never thought any of this consciously. If I'd allowed myself to acknowledge our relationship was over, I would've completely lost it. I needed my lies. And he let me have them.

But things got so unpleasant that we just couldn't wait. We agreed to break up a week before the surgery. I don't remember how the conversation went down; those last months were such a blur, mostly due to painkillers and copious amounts of medical marijuana. But I do remember that right after we broke up, I felt immediate relief. At last, we could finally be just family.

I spent my recovery period apartment hunting and, after having a brief meltdown when I realized how shitty the rental market is right now (all those foreclosure people have to live somewhere), I finally took Wine Guy's advice to stop hunting for that dream funky apartment in the hip, walkable part of town and look into what the world of apartment complex-dwelling might have to offer me. Though the idea seemed as detestable as a Saturday afternoon at IKEA, I knew it was that or continue living together. While our split was more than amicable, that was not fucking going to happen.

So here I am, in my 820 square foot apartment in a goddamn apartment complex -- easily the nicest place I've ever lived (and not just because I live rapturously, luxuriously, happily alone). I've got a lap pool (perfect for exercise while I rehab my hip), a 24-hour gym, an attached garage, and a washer and dryer on the patio, which overlooks a shady jogging path leading to canyon trail. So what if I can't quite walk it yet? Just knowing it's there is enough for now.

And the best part of all, they take dogs. Because there was no way in hell I was leaving without my dog. Wine Guy gets plenty of visitation and I think we're both happy with that.

I've probably written 20 drafts of this breakup announcement, but none of them ever felt right to publish. So I focused on breaking the news to my family, friends and acquaintances, and learning to get comfortable referring to Wine Guy as "my ex-boyfriend" in casual conversation. But I just didn't have it in me to share it here. I went through so much physical and emotional pain in the last six months -- I just I didn't want to inflict it upon innocent people lucky enough not to have to be around me on a daily basis. I also didn't want to have to read it again the following day, with a night's perspective.

But what I'm writing now is history. I've gone through it and come out OK, finally, on the other side. And now I'm here, dying to tell you about the guy who keeps texting me and how I'm pretty sure he's planning to send me a shirtless picture of himself. Ew.

But tonight is about closing the book on my relationship with Wine Guy and living my life as me, alone and in peace.

So what the hell am I going to call this blog now I've laid down my arms? I'm taking suggestions.

And I suppose I'll need a new sign-off too, because "Dismissed" just seems so impolite now.

April 10, 2011

Who Knows Me, Baby

Well I certainly know which friends still read my blog after that last post. Not that I intended it as a test. I was just writing what I was feeling. It wasn't until I started getting emails and phone calls out of the blue from friends I hadn't heard from in a long while that I realized that maybe I scared some people with my honesty. Sorry for that.

The good news is that I have good news! I finally have a surgery date (May 2) to (hopefully) fix the problem with my hip. Having a light at the end of this long, dark tunnel has made all the difference. While the pain is nearly intolerable and chronic, I now know it will be over soon. I never thought I'd be so excited to go under the knife again!

I suppose I'll address the anonymous commenter from my last post as he's made it clear that, while he finds me pathetic in every sense, he still reads my blog. Hey, I get it. I loved listening to Dr. Laura because she was so much fun to hate.

To be honest, I had little reaction when I read his comment (and if he isn't a man, I'll be shocked). I just kind of shrugged and thought, "He doesn't know me. Whatever." It wasn't until later that I realized the power of my reaction. You see, while I originally started this blog as a way to make light of my dating skirmishes, I write these days because I know there are a few people out there who want to know how I'm doing. Most of these people I've never met. But they stop by, check in, offer words of support and encouragement, and sometimes even advice or a blunt opinion. I can't tell you how much those comments mean to me. I value your compassion and feel honored that you care enough about my wellbeing to take time out of your busy lives to inquire about mine.

So when I wrote that last entry, I felt I owed it to these kind strangers to tell them the truth. Of course, it also felt good to get it off my chest. The comments I received from those regular readers were heartwarming to say the least. By the time asshole anonymous piped in, well, who gives a crap about his petty attacks when the people who "know" me are sending such kindness and love my way?

I'll keep those good wishes close to me as my surgery date approaches and, hopefully, I'll have happier stories and moments to share as our San Diego summer gets underway. In the meantime, keep troopin' along people.

Dismissed.

March 7, 2011

The Cloud Breaks, Momentarily

My dark cloud must have temporarily lifted because I'm able to sit here and casually admit that my life has been pretty shitty lately--not only with the tragedies of the past year and my physical health, but also with Wine Guy.

Of course, now that I actually see it in writing, it sounds ridiculous. Of course my relationship --any relationship for that matter--would be negatively impacted by all that has happened in the last two years.

Wine Guy has been amazing in the wake of my family's sudden and tremendous loss. And I treasure his calming, stable presence during awful moments like that. Thankfully those moments are an aberration, but it's the regular old day-to-day living where we're having the problems.

It wasn't always like this. We lived together for over a year and were doing just fine, with the occasional flare-ups you'd expect from cohabitation.But it's amazing how destructive chronic and worsening pain can be. I've gone from someone who craved being around other people, to a recluse who can barely bring herself to answer her phone for anyone other than her boyfriend or mom--not that anyone else calls anymore.

I had a dream last night that I'd intentionally done something so awful that all of my friends dumped me, walked away without a word. I spent the rest of the dream surprised at how relieved I was, as if I'd done it intentionally. And the more I thought about why I did it at all, the sooner I realized that I had done it on purpose (I really don't remember what "it" was, but it was some sort of lie I told that ruined people's lives).

My dreams are usually obvious in their meaning (I' ve never been known for my subtlety), and this one is no exception. While I haven't lied or ruined lives (to my knowledge), I'm guilty of behaving badly in order to push people away. Not on purpose, of course. But I knew deep down that all of the anger, self-pity and unrestrained impatience I've embraced in response to my situation would eventually drive people away.

A few friends appear to have dumped me or, if you want to put it nicely, put me on the back shelf. I can't really blame them, I'm sure I'm no fun. And I'm not exactly burning up the phone lines making plans with the friends that remain. Plus, most of them have children and are so overscheduled with birthday parties and play dates that it takes them weeks to notice that they haven't heard from me. Makes my gradual disappearance pretty easy to pull off.

So now we're down to the two poor souls who stuck around - Wine Guy and my mom. You can imagine how much shit they have to put up with from the likes of me.

Yes, I have been going to a counselor who specializes in chronic pain and uses mindfulness exercises, guided imagery and good old-fashioned cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). It's helping. Not with the pain which is, unfortunately, worsening. But with learning how to separate out the things I can control from the rest of the crap that is just plain unfortunate. As a result, I've been more proactive with my surgeons, no longer intimidated by the monolithic Kaiser organization. Turns out that this little power grab gave me an emotional boost and actually got the doctors to step up their game. I actually felt proud of myself.

I've also learned how to recognize the beginnings of a downward spiral and, if I'm lucky, prevent it from happening with some simple CBT techniques or, sometimes, with one of the dorky recordings I made of my counselor talking me through a guided imagery. Whatever, it works--for a little while anyway.

But with Wine Guy, nothing's working. He shows a lot of empathy for what I'm going through, but he walks on eggshells around me. Apparently he's been doing that for awhile. I only found this out during a recent meltdown that ended with a painful but sincere exchange of perceptions about our relationship.

I found out that he's pretty much afraid of me. I can be harsh when I'm feeling this low (a nice way to say it would be "sharp-tongued"). I know this because I went through my late teens and 20s under this same fog of physical and emotional pain and I recognize the signs of that special kind of loving fear that only I can inspire.

Seeing that stormy bitch again was a shock. I really thought she was long gone after my breakup with Only Child, when I moved into my own apartment, made new friends, finished grad school, got a terrific job, dated. I felt more me than I had since middle school (which remains, strangely, the happiest period of my life so far).

They tell you that this moment -- when you finally know who you are-- is when you're supposed to meet the guy for you. That's who I thought Naval A-hole was, right up until he disappeared without a second thought. I was--and in many ways still am--deeply scarred by that experience, but I put myself back together as best I could and soldiered on (funny how I revert to "Warfare" lingo again here). After dating so much that I had to start a blog about it, I met Wine Guy and told myself once again that this was the real thing.

I don't know if I believe that anymore. I no longer trust that Wine Guy ever did. It's been almost two years that we've lived like this. Who remembers what "we" were like anymore?

Everything I've written here, Wine Guy knows. He's even willing to try couple's counseling to see if we can unlearn this unfortunate pattern and get back on track. I'm just as open to the idea--but not yet. Not until I get my body back to a reasonable state of health and, most importantly, put a stop to this chronic pain. I want to give everything I have to rekindling our bond, but I simply can't do that while I'm under this cloud.

If I am to believe my surgeons, my body can be repaired and the pain alleviated (though no one can avoid the aches of aging). That's when I hope to kick this moody bitch to the curb yet again and let Wine Guy reacquaint himself with the spunky Trooper he met and (hopefully) fell in love with.

We both seem OK with this holding pattern. Actually, Wine Guy seems better than OK lately - which is the reason I sat down to write this in the first place.

With my sedentary state, our very active lifestyle has turned into a marathon couch surfing session and we've become, well, fat. But almost three weeks ago, Wine Guy got fired up again. He's doing Pilates every night, taking 1-2 hour vigorous walks around our hilly neighborhood (dog in tow, she's gotten out of shape too), and counting calories using his freshly purchased BodyMedia armband, which cost something like $200 (plus a monthly subscription fee), but now seems worth every penny.

When I came home tonight after running some errands, Wine Guy was headed towards the door, zipping up the jacket to his brand new track suit. Yes, a track suit. Understated with its black and grey color palette, but a track suit nonetheless. I was a track athlete, so I actually don't think they're all that funny in and of themselves. But trust me, for Wine Guy, this is funny. And cute.

He gave me a proud little smile, said goodbye and stepped into the chilly night, bound for the beach a few miles down. His healthy, happy energy was just a little contagious. So I came downstairs and began to write. But he's just returned, so I better go and try to soak up some more.

Dismissed.