Saturday, November 12, 2011

What Sustains Us

"When the truth is found to be lies
And all the joy within you dies
Don't you want somebody to love
Don't you need somebody to love
Wouldn't you love somebody to love
You better find somebody to love"

I've struggled for decades with trust issues.  Early loss and repeated trauma have left my psyche scarred in ways that will always be with me.  And yet I am one of the lucky ones, because I was seven before all hell broke loose, and something strong and good within me was able to survive deep inside. 

And in one of the universe's ironic twists of fate, in this one way being female worked to my advantage.  Unable to find someone that I could invest with all the love and goodness that still remained, I simply made one.

Okay, "simply" is clearly not the right word.  But that is exactly what I did.  Having a child saved my life in all the important ways. 

I don't have to wonder what my life would be like without her.  I wonder at the fact that she's here.  A little hand holding mine.   Someone who looks to me for comfort and reassurance, who depends on me to provide what she, what every child, has the right to take for granted.  Who can bask in my "I love you"s and offer her own with the clarity and sincerity of a child.  It's pretty awesome.

All the years of being strong and keeping it together now have a reason.  My dilligence and persistence finally make someone else's life easier.  We have a safe and comfortable home, a routine, and the lovely mundane pleasures like our Labrador sleeping at my feet. 

I've kept myself sane, but she soothes my soul.  She softens me.  She makes me lighter.  The effort to raise her has brought laughter and imagination and flexibility into my life in ways that constantly provoke me to think differently about what's important and how to creatively problem-solve. 

She's also helped me put aside a lot of the stupidity and heartlessness of other people.  I just don't have room in my life for holding onto the darkness for too long.  Because I love my daughter, I can eventually get to the place of detachment a lot faster.  I can see that it's not worth it to dwell on the wrongs, because I want our lives to be free.  Because I want to be a good example, I am a better person. 

I have confronted so many of my fears.  I've taken them out and turned them over in my hands.  I've looked at them with these new eyes and been able to see their flaws.  Some of them, being brought into the light, have withered like a plant that's no longer watered.  I found that, as a mother, I don't have any more time to put off the things that I needed to do, but that I dragged around for years.  Some people have marveled at how I turned my life around.  I marvel that something finally happened that beat back the pain and despair and unrelenting darkness.  

Monday, September 5, 2011

Next Steps

Looks like I've got a contracting job for the next several months, so that worry is taken care of, for now.  I am very grateful that I got my last job when I did.  It truly was "in the nick of time," when I was at the end of my savings and really needed to get back to work.  With that job, I was able to buy my townhouse and get a lot of loose ends tied up.  I met some people that I really like.  But I never felt it was a good fit.  For the first year, I had a boss that I really liked and had a great rapport with, and that kept me going.  But once he was promoted and the whole organization shifted, things went dramatically downhill.  I'm hearing bad reports from all sides in the time since I was let go.  I'm glad I'm not there any more.  I remember talking to one of the Project Managers several months ago, and telling him that I was miserable.  That's just no way to live.

I've been diligently job hunting, and my skills are marketable these days.  I was fortunate to find something Downtown.  I've worked Downtown before and used to take the bus when I lived just west of Denver.  Now that I'm further south, I'm going to try the Light Rail and see how that works out.  Parking is an issue, and sometimes getting in and out of the city can be a problem if there is a big game or event that snarles traffic.  So I bought a monthly Transit pass and I'm going to give it a whirl.

Sleeping later for the past several weeks has been luxurious.  I know that M has enjoyed it, too.  Tomorrow we're back to "normal" - me getting up at 5:30 and her at 6.  I've got our morning routine down to a science, but I think I'm going to make our lunches the night before to give us a little more breathing room.  One of the things I noticed before I became unemployed was how rushed I always am, and I didn't like it.  I'm going to make an effort to relax a bit on my schedule and take things a little slower.  Now that M is in the Second Grade, she isn't as clingy and feels more independent, and she got a teacher this year that is wonderful.  As a result, I feel like I can loosen up a little and maybe be a little easier on myself.

The extremely hot weather finally broke a few days ago!  This summer has been brutal.  Colorado isn't usually in the high 90s for months on end.  I've hidden inside when normally I spend as much time outdoors as possible.  One hundred degree weather makes me feel almost nauseated, and saps my energy.  For the past couple days, the temperature has been back in the normal range, highs in the 70s, and it's been lovely.  I had meant to really work with M on her bike riding this summer, but because of the heat, it just didn't happen.  I haven't been on my bike, either.  I really hope we have a nice Autumn and I can get back outdoors.

Since M's dad's last visit on June 1st, things with him have been weirder than usual.  After I told him that M was having a negative reaction to the webcam and I wanted to take a break, his communications have been combative and irrational.  He declared he was going to seek mediation, and then I didn't hear another thing about it.  Out of the blue he sent me a brief email asking my opinion on what a good "parenting plan" was.  When I replied with asking what happened to mediation, he just said I laughed at that.  So I answered that I didn't think it was appropriate for him to have "joint responsibility" but asked again about setting up visits.  He went as far as moving to Colorado but I wonder for what.  The distance has remained the same whether his address is Durango or Greeley or somewhere in Massachusetts.  I keep trying to get him to understand that with M, he needs to take things in steps, and build trust.  But he is clearly only thinking about himself.  Again, now, I haven't heard another word.  I can't believe he could be serious about his relationship with M if he is willing to let so much time go by with no progress.

He's always been so very touchy about his delicate sensibilities.  If he perceives that he's being criticized or demeaned in any way, his reaction is to shut down.  He's got no negotiating skills, and no creative ideas.  He's also extremely Passive-Aggressive.  He simply WILL NOT follow through on a committment, or do what he says he'll do.  Somehow he sees this as his master strategy.  But now that I've dealt with him so many years, I think he forgets how well I know him.  He really is his own worst enemy.  It's tragic how stuck he is in his own little drama.  Meanwhile, M continues to do well without him, and gradually is voicing her own opinions on the matter.  She wants to see him, but is adamant that she not be forced to "go with him."  She doesn't like the idea of spending the night with him.  Of course she'd feel that way!  She never has!  He's only spent a handful of hours with her since the summer of 2005.  I wonder if he realizes that she's a child.

I expect his next move to be some kind of summons.  I cannot believe though, that I would not be able to work out something reasonable, visitation-wise.  The question is why?  I've been the one trying to get him to be MORE involved with her, not less.  I've just maintained that it has to be under conditions that are in her best interests, rather than simply for his convenience.    That alone has been enough to keep him away, and that alone tells me that he really is interested only in himself.

She's playing right now with a little girl that lives part-time on the next row over.  I met her dad last night, and he gave me a summary of his situation.  I hope his daughter will be around for a while.  M hasn't had a lot of opportunity to have playmates who live close by.  It's a new thing for her to be able to run around outside with a neighbor kid.  M's such a sensitive girl.  I want her to be able to enjoy the stuff that kids should be able to take for granted, but that she is denied so often.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Here we go again...

Yep, as I feared, my job is no more.  However, a week later, what I realize is how very toxic that job had become and how much better I feel now that it's gone.  Considering the poor economy and all, knowing that I feel much better being unemployed says a lot about the workplace I was in.

Fortunately, I should be getting unemployment benefits, but I hope I won't need them or at least not for very long.  Who knew you could apply for unemployment online these days?  Maybe it's a sign of getting older, but I can't help feeling slightly amazed at how much technology has changed the way we do things.  Not that I miss combing through the Jobs section of the newspaper! 

Next Tuesday M starts Second Grade.  When she started Kindergarten, I hadn't found a job yet, so I was among the parents standing outside the school each day waiting for the kids to file in and out.  I've been in the PTA, and go to the school events, and am on recognition-level aquaintance with many of the parents.  So here we go again.  Each class at M's school has a designated spot around the school to line up and be dismissed from.  I will find out where our spot is on Monday night, when we get the pleasure of showing up with our bulging bags of school supplies and find out who M's teacher will be.

It takes a lot of self-discipline to get up each day and stay with a routine and keep plugging away without the structure of a work schedule.  It took six solid months to find my last job.  I am hoping it won't take that long this time.  Fingers crossed!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Creeping up on the Big Five Oh

For as long as I can remember, my birthday has felt like New Years. It was always the end of summer, right before school started, smack dab in the middle of last-minute vacations and the scurry to get prepared for a new school year. It has been a time to assess where I am and where I’m going, to take a look at what needs to be done to prepare for the long winter ahead, and to clear out the worn out and no longer needed from my life.

This year I will turn 50. I am grateful that before that happens, I managed to clear several important milestones. I bought a townhouse and got a dog, I got my degree and have no student loan debt, I turned my finances around and am now working on building back up my emergency fund and my retirement funds, and I have a job… for now.

That’s not going all that well, but I’m doing what I can to hang in there.

My daughter is the light and joy of my life, and she’s a great kid. The situation with her biological father is worrisome, but the older M gets, the less I fear his antics. I keep remembering what it was like when I attempted taking him to couple’s counseling for M’s sake, and the therapist pointing out that he was Passive Aggressive. I think it will always work against him in the end.

I’ve recently had the opportunity to catch up with some old friends, and I am continually moved by how lucky I am to have the friends that I have and how important my friends have been in my life. I am so fortunate to have friends scattered across the country, and from so many times in my life. They give me a sense of continuity and context that I wouldn’t otherwise have. They help remind me of who I am and how I’ve changed, but also how the essential core of me has remained the same.

I have a couple of friends that I’ve been seeing less of. I am increasingly aware of how precious my time is, and where I’m spending my energy. It’s important to me that my actions are in line with my intentions.

As well, there are the mundane housekeeping tasks. I just had four new tires put on my ten year old Rav. I had my eyes examined and ordered new glasses and contacts. I finally bought M’s school supplies and we’ve bought her some new clothes. I need to have my chimney cleaned and inspected, and I need to order some firewood delivered. All of these things have taken a chunk of change, and I’ve made each purchase thoughtfully, making sure I’m not being frivolous. (see job worry, above)

Thankfully, I am in wonderful good health and reasonable fitness. Yoga and walking the dog help a lot. I eat well and I have really good genes. I can look forward to skiing again this winter, if I can afford it, but if not there is still snowshoeing. I have every reason to believe I have many more decades ahead of me, in the tradition of my ancestors. I am approaching 50 with my head up, my shoulders back, and my stride still strong.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Summertime Blues

Since Buster's last Annual Visit, when he professed to wanting to spend Quality Time with M this summer, and talked enthusiastically about moving to Greeley, CO, for his new job that would bring him so much closer, a couple of things have happened.

After the end of his First Year of teaching, he went home to Massachusetts to visit his parents, and - as usual - got bogged down.  I'm not sure what the dynamic there is, but I have my suspicions.  His doting mother is the kind to hold his hand and wipe his butt, and Buster is the kind to enjoy that.  Since arriving back in MA, he has been ever so reluctant to answer my questions, but since his parents jump on the webcam with him to M whenever he's there, he can't avoid answering completely.  For the past several weeks, though, the webcams have meant I have to be in the room, because his parents ask me about stuff and it's much more interactive than when it's just Buster and M by themselves.  Last time, when his parents were finished and had left the room, I took a break for a brief minute and came back in to find Buster asking M what her Thanksgiving plans were!  He's got some nerve...

What I've been able to find out so far: 
  • He now "can't make any plans" for the summer.  (which relieves me of trying to work out any arrangements with him)
  • His finances are "a shambles" (duh, I guess that's what happens when you never open your mail)
  • He still has no place to live and no arrangements have been made.
  • After telling me a week and a half ago that he was heading back to CO, as of Wednesday, he is still in Massachusetts. 
Although the Court order to increase his Child Support obligation from it's below-poverty level to something resembling reasonable did go through, Buster continued to pay his Discount Rate, claiming he wasn't aware of the change.  I guess that's also what comes of not opening your mail...

I was excited to learn that after all these years of him getting away with contributing next to nothing, that his monthly check would be close to being Actually Helpful.  Still less than my monthly bill for daycare, but still.  However, I also knew that it was folly to count on it.  Since I bought the new townhouse at the same time, which raised my Housing budget, I admit I was kind of hoping to see that money.

Fortunately, I also just had my first Review at work, having been there a year now, and was granted a token raise.  (2.5%)  That helps, and although it isn't as much as I'd hoped, I also know that in this economy I'm grateful to have a job and any raise at all.    So, as usual, I am managing on my own.  My job has been crazy stressful for the past couple months, and I've been scrambling.  I hate feeling so crunched that it's hard to find time to make routine appointments like get my hair cut.  As soon as school let out and the dreaded Homework stopped for the year, swim lessons started, and we're rushing off after work for those.  I'm kind of beat.

I made a reservation to escape to higher ground for the 4th of July weekend.  Last year I whisked us off to Aspen, but this year we are going to stay in a cabin in Estes Park in a campground.  The cabins are supposed to have individual fire pits just outside their front doors, so we'll be able to roast marshmallows and make S'mores, so M is stoked.  The cabin is really to make it easier to manage the kid and the dog, since the tent I own is a relatively small lightweight backpacking tent, and I don't know how this new dog will cope with the whole camping thing.  I decided to avoid it altogether and go for a cabin.  Easier, if not as rustic and secluded as I wanted.  I'll be able to bring up a bunch of groceries and not have to worry about bears and raccoons, and just relax.
Also, nearby in the town of Estes Park, which is surrounded by Rocky Mountain National Park, is a large dog park where we can take the dog and let her run.  So the whole thing sounds stellar, and I'm looking forward to a few days off.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

We Are Three

The time has really flown by.  We've been in our new townhouse almost two months now, and we are starting to feel settled in.  One of the things that we'd been talking about for a long time was getting a dog.  I've had dogs my whole life.  When I was a baby and my Grandmother took care of me while my mother worked, she had a lovely older Irish Setter named Ginger and a black poodle named Pepi.  We had a German Shepard/Great Dane mix named Fritz.  When we moved from the Redwood foothills to the suburbs my parents gave Fritz away, and soon after that my grandparents were killed in a car accident.  I think the loss of the dogs in my life was representative of the huge void I felt during those years.  When I was older, arranging my life so that I could have a dog was always a priority.  I can step back through the dogs in my life with probably much greater accuracy (and greater affection) than the men.  A few times, conflicts between dogs and men were pivotal points.  I wish I could say the dogs always won, but when they didn't, the men didn't last long after.

At the time M was born, I had two black Labs named Molly and Maggie.  When we all moved to California, part of what made the decision was that my parents had a huge house and fenced yard, and my dad helped me install a dog door.  Sadly, both developed Mast Cell tumors that despite (very expensive) surgery, ended up ending their lives prematurely. 

We've been back in Colorado for two years now, and a week ago we adopted a lovely 2 year old female black Lab from a Lab Rescue organization.  She's a wonderful dog and has good manners, is already housebroken, past the chewing stage, and is great with my daughter.  She's happy to go for walks and has settled right in.  The adjustment period has been going surprisingly well. 

I am a homebody at heart, and something very deep and very basic inside me is calmer, happier, and more secure with a dog in the house.  I also think that it is good for M, being an only child, to experience having to take someone else's needs into consideration.  So we walk the dog together, and she feeds her, and we talk about what the dog needs and how to care for her.  I have no illusions about who is primarily responsible for her, but as M gets older she can take on more.  It's good for me to have a dog to walk again... getting me up off the couch is always a good thing.  And there's something so satisfying about listening to the dog breathing next to my bed at night.  It feels like the last piece has dropped into place.

Friday, May 6, 2011

My Border Collie Impression, or Home at Last

It's been a while since I posted, and a LOT has happened.  I closed on the second property, and we moved on April 9th.

M has her pink bedroom and everything is in place. It turned out really well, and she has a lot of room. A couple of my friends helped me and M paint it before we moved and we knocked it out in two nights.

I've been working like a mad dog to get stuff unpacked and put away so that I can breathe. After the movers left, I had to have a garage door guy come and fix the garage door, an appliance guy come and switch the direction the fridge doors open, and a guy from Sears come and (re)install the washer & dryer because the movers tried but they didn't know what they were doing - and since the washer seems to have "lost a valve" in the move, thank goodness I'm so compulsive or there'd have been water everywhere the first time I tried to use it. 

Then I started opening all the boxes. Due to the delays, etc., the day of the move, a friend had boxed up a whole pile of stuff that I'd set aside as stuff I'd wanted to take over in my car... Including M's teddy bear. It took me two nights to find the bear. You can imagine...

Not having complete control over the move - at the last minute - really challenged me. At least I understood what was going on...which helped marginally, but the stuff that got packed without me continued to trip me up. The first night, dirty and sweaty and sore, I couldn't take a shower because I could NOT find a towel, and I was so exhausted at that point that I just lay down but couldn't sleep. That was awful… I felt beyond wrung out and yet my mind just wouldn’t let go. The next day I found the damn towels and then things began to fall into place.

Once I could cook in the kitchen, get dressed for work in the morning, get on the Internet, and M could watch Nick Jr., we felt like the big stress was over.

I spent last weekend carrying the mass of stuff that the movers had "dumped" in the garage down to the basement, and then put the big storage shelves back together and put all my camping gear and that kind of stuff away down there and now it's not just a big pile that drives me crazy every time I look at it. It's all orderly and symmetrical, and I could actually find something if I needed it. (yay!)

Then I swept out the garage and moved the spare refrigerator and the shelving to their spot near the door into the house, and put together my new garage tool cabinet, and put the tools away that have been living in a big Dell box for six years. *sigh*

I think soon I will be able to put up the Bulldog system I bought - which is this fantastic pegboard system for hand tools for the garage. (All these manufacturers of organization products have me in mind when they sell this stuff, y'know)

Oh! And I went down to the Container Store and designed and ordered Elfa for my bedroom closet and shelves for M's bedroom and bookshelves for the living room. They will be installed on May 8th. My bedroom closet tried to commit suicide the other night (the sound of which scared the bejeebus out of us!) by the rod and bracket pulling out of the wall and falling. So I decided my plans to get the Elfa were "moved up." I was actually going to wait on that.

I have an office again, so the computer and printer is no longer in my living room, which makes me happy, and M has lots of room, and my kitchen has all new appliances - I feel so rich! I have never "heard" so quiet a dishwasher before!

Now, if the weather would just warm up, we could go to the nursery and get a bunch of plants so I can make my patio a green oasis, and put some greenery in the house.

When I was conscious of the realization that it has been six years since I had my own place, I felt myself get really sad. There is still grief to process from that whole episode and I had to push it down then in order to deal with all of the stuff that I had to get through these past six years. I know it will come sneaking back in like wisps of fog, now that I am here, and settled, and I can sort through it. Which is okay… it’s time.

Six years is a long time to hold your breath.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Spring Break at Grandma's House

On Saturday we flew from Denver to Sacramento, leaving beautiful sunny weather and landing in a torrential downpour.  Everything looked flooded and grey.  It was the start of our Spring Break, and we were spending it with Grandma and Grandpa. 

Saturday was M's 7th birthday.  The night before, she opened the presents I gave her (dolls and clothes) and we had cupcakes for dessert.  Her dad and her dad's mom gave M books for her birthday that had arrived earlier that week from Amazon.  Saturday morning we got up and finished packing, and then took a taxi to D.I.A.  M has traveled a lot and is a great traveler, so she sat in the back of the taxi quietly for the long drive to the airport, and then we went through security.  By now, the routine is familiar:  have your ID and boarding passes ready, take off your shoes, put your stuff in the bins and push them along the conveyor belt to be xrayed, walk through the scanner, wait on the other side to retrieve your stuff, put your shoes back on. 

We took the underground train to the gate and then found a place to have lunch.  After lunch, we found our departure doors and sat down to play cards.  Finally, they announced boarding and we found our seats on the plane.  We flew Frontier, which is only 4 seats across with an aisle down the middle, so M got the window and I had the aisle.  She was wearing her "Birthday Girl!" pin, so just about every person we passed wished her a happy birthday.  At the end of the 2.5 hour flight the attendant gave M a foil-wrapped stack of chocolate chip cookies, which delighted her.

Dad, Mom, and my younger brother met us on the curb and we dashed through the rain to throw the bags in the trunk of their car and get in.  The drive back to Auburn took about an hour, while we chatted about the flight and the weather.  It's been about 3 years since I've seen my brother, who is what we used to call Retarded.  He's not able to speak, but communicates through a combination of sounds and gestures, and I've always been able to understand him.  Maybe that's a result of only being three years older and closest in age.  He had filled out since the last time I'd seen him and looks a lot better; I was happy to see that moving from San Jose to Auburn seems to agree with him. 

My mother, who's been fighting Lymphoma for the past 15 months, sat in the back seat with M and me on the ride back to their house.  She looks good too, but I know this can be deceiving.  Still, it was good to see her getting around without her wheelchair, walker, or cane.

At first, we just hoped the rain would stop and sat around and caught up with the local doings and told stories about what we've been up to.  My folks were delighted to see M and took us to a Chinese restaurant for her birthday dinner, and there was a beautiful chocolate cake from the best bakery in town waiting for us when we got home.  My mother gave her more books and she got a Target gift card.

For the past several days, we've been just hanging out with my folks, talking, watching a few movies and Jeopardy, playing cards, and making meals.  It's been lovely to be able to abandon the alarm clock and the watch, and simply move through the days without having anything that I NEED to do.  M is sharing a bed with me and has been velcroed to my side throughout the nights, so I haven't been sleeping well, but there haven't been many demands on me, so I'm doing okay. 

My brother went back to his home on Monday, and M and I drove down to Sacramento to see my dear friend S.  We lucked out and three kids in his culdesac were available to play, and so the kids ran around and had a great time while the grownups got to talk.  S lives in a gorgeous neighborhood and has great friends, and no matter how long I get to stay, I always wish I could stay longer.  We got home about bedtime, just time to pop M in the bath and then go to bed.

Today I drove my mother and M down to Kaiser in Roseville to get her blood drawn.  Although she's been recovering well from the surgery she had back in Jan. 2010 to remove spinal tumors, the other stuff hasn't been going as well.  The last round of Chemo she was scheduled for had to be cancelled because her platelet count was far lower than it should be.  Today's blood work was to see if the numbers had come up so she could try again, but this afternoon she got the report that her platelet count is even lower than before.  We are waiting to hear if her Chemo will be delayed again, but we all feel certain it will be.

She says that the weird thing is that she feels better than she's felt in a long time.  I can see  how she is able to get around much better lately; we went to lunch after Kaiser and then stopped by Toys R Us so that M could buy a Backyardigans DVD, and Mom was not as tired out as I expected her to be.  She is downstairs now, talking to M as she plays.  My dad is not home yet from golfing.  They are both 74.

We fly home on Friday.  It will be our last weekend in the rental and I am supposed to close on the new townhouse on Monday, then back to work and school on Tuesday.  I plan to move into the new place on the following Saturday.  I know that like every body does, I will go about my business, take care of the things I need to take of, and hope for the best.  But I wonder if my mother will ever see my new place, or if this will be our last visit.  There is no way of knowing... we can't predict the future.  I'm glad we are here now.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

"Divine" Intervention - Buster Update

My daughter’s dad is extremely passive-aggressive. Getting him to participate in anything is difficult, frustrating, and often futile. I figured out long ago to pick my battles. Knowing I would be doing all of the heavy lifting, and really wanting to minimize the drama and aggravation, I issued a proclamation when we split up: I wouldn’t take him to court unless he made me do it. And I’ve pretty much not asked him to do anything I had no hope of him ever doing. My idea of being a parent and his are so vastly different, that I don’t even think of him that way. He’s been more of a place-holder than anything. Someone M can point to and say “that’s who my dad is.” Instead of not knowing. Which I decided was better. Doesn’t mean it’s been easier.

As is his pattern, at first things went along relatively smoothly. I moved the baby and myself to California (with his full cooperation and blessing), and he stayed behind in Colorado. This was 2005. We stayed in contact and he kept up his side of our arrangement. Then, once he was faced with real decisions, he fell apart. I had found a good job in the fall of 2005, had found a good daycare for M, and was working toward putting my life back together. He wasn’t doing so well. For all of 2006 there was no contact, no financial contribution, and no sign that things were going to improve. At the end of 2006, I decided that time was up, and I opened a case in California to enforce Child Support.

The first time (early 2005) he’d been confronted with the reality of Child Support, he declared “If I pay that, I won’t be able to live INDOORS!” in his usual dramatic fashion. It was clear that it never crossed his mind how much my part amounted to. I guess he thinks that I will always “just manage”, in my own magical way. So in 2006, when California sent him the paperwork, he declared “extreme poverty” and was given a final monthly payment amount that was ludicrous. Had I been in a position to really depend on his financial contribution, we’d have been in big trouble. As it was, I put it in a savings account and used it when I moved back to Colorado.

Since 2006, he’s been pretty quiet about his activities and circumstances. He told me that he was trying to become a teacher, but that the program directors in Colorado had told him he wasn’t suited to teaching. As per usual, he decided they didn’t know what they were talking about. I know that at some point, he moved back in with his (very well off) parents in Massachusetts. More often than not, he’s been unemployed. I heard he’d entered another teaching program in MA. Most of what I know about him, I figure out from a combination of little hints he drops after the fact, stuff other people tell me, and my own research. A while back, I proposed a regular webcam call between him and M, and he’s participated in that on a regular basis. His first visit after our split was in September 2008. The second one was February 2010. The third was this past December.

Just prior to the last visit, he told me he’d moved to Colorado. Prior to that, he told me he was moving to Florida, but the Florida thing didn’t pan out. He ended up in a bitty little place not far from Durango, on a Native American reservation, teaching at the high school, which is over six hours away from here. Still, I had no address, no local phone #, and no real information about what he was doing or where he was living. I had left the Child Support Case open in California, because in order to move it back to Colorado I would need his data. I didn’t know when I’d be able to move the case, but they knew I’d moved back and wanted to move the case as soon as I was able. Then, the state of California implemented a new bill.

He was notified that he was going to have to put M on his health insurance. She’s always been on mine, and he hasn’t had a job, so this particular wrinkle was new for him. Apparently the state of California believes that Non-Custodial Parents should be more involved in their children’s insurance needs. And to that end, are making it mandatory that the NCPs provide coverage. The bill to him for this? $500 a month, nearly double what he pays for Child Support.

Funny how quickly he contacted me to get me involved.

I agree that it makes no sense for him to put M on his insurance, regardless of the cost. The money they were going to take out of his shiny new paycheck was simply a waste. But in order to correct this situation, I’d have to file new paperwork in Colorado, and he had no other choice. He had to give me his details.

Being that we are starting year five of this Child Support arrangement, I asked for a review of the order. Now that he’s actually working, I doubt he still qualifies for his special poverty discount. Dozens of pages of forms were filled out and properly filed, and then there was nothing to do but wait and see.

Monday afternoon, when I’d finished with the inspection of the new property and checked the mail, there was a fat envelope waiting for me from Colorado Child Support. They’d finished their review and agreed an increase was appropriate. I just had to sign the papers and get them notarized and returned to them. Of course, Buster has the option to agree or fight it, but I am hoping that the past couple months of having his check garnished will have persuaded him to agree that the new amount is better than what California was demanding, and just sign it already. A girl can hope.

What can I say? The extra money would be nice. The new amount would almost cover M’s before- & after-school care expenses. I know better than to be expectant, but I do get a little chuckle out of the circumstances. I know that had he not been “over a barrel” he would have never willingly forked over his financial information, let alone his mailing address. Since he’s always known mine, it seems fair. In real life, nothing is fair, but every once in a while, the universe throws me a bone.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

When the waiting IS the hardest part

In the past month, my neighbors to the West have been worse than ever.  Most nights they wake me up some time around 2 or 3 a.m.  I get up for work at 5:30, so this has been wearing me out.  I know that they know that I planned to move out, and I suspect that this made them feel a certain license to let their freak flags fly, because I know that they are well aware of my complaints against them. 

The real estate deal finally collapsed under the weight of the HOA's non-certification.  The lender finally became too skittish about lending to a property that was so sketchy, even though the unit itself is sound and my application is already approved.  I'm sad about the loss of living on the edge of the greenbelt.  I wanted to listen to coyotes howl in the moonlight, take my (future) dog for walks there daily, and be so close to the bit of wild nature that is still here in Colorado.  I get teary every time I think about letting go of that dream.  The houses near by that are for sale are out of my price-range, so I was limited to looking at townhouses.

By Friday I was so worn out.  I'd already signed 3 contract extensions and answered numerous questions.  I'd packed up most of the stuff that is going into boxes, arranged for the installation of utilities at the new address, and scheduled movers.  I'd completed the final walk-through and was ready to head over to the title office to close.  And then it fell apart. 

I was crying as I called the companies to cancel the installations that had been scheduled for the next day.  Still, I couldn't help but be amused that even as the customer service reps expressed their condolences, they all urged me to "have a nice day!" as they ended the calls.  When I went to pick up M from afterschool care, I stopped to talk to the Director, as she's become my friend and was waiting to hear that I'd finally closed.
It really helps me when a friend reacts in a genuine way to something that has happened to me.  I have so many relationships that have filters on them, including - unfortunately - my family, so I think I maybe think about or notice it more than other people who are lucky enough to have someone(s) ready at-hand who will get mad for/with them, show that they are upset, or express the very emotions that we try so hard to keep in check while we are at work and out in the "world." 

I told M right away in the most gentle but straightforward way that I knew how.  She cried and protested, and we agreed that it sucked and was so disappointing.  I didn't grow up with people who would let me feel and express what I felt, and I will not do that to my child.  But being the grownup in this situation,  I had to manage this turn of events and decide what to do.  I had talked to my leasing office and knew I'd need to figure something out by Monday.
Still, there we were with Friday night staring us in the face, sad and at a loss, wondering what to do next.  I wallowed in my disappointment for the evening.  But my realtor had asked me what my plan was, and if I wanted to keep looking at properties, and I said yes.

So, Saturday morning we met her at another complex a little farther away.  The location is a lot closer to retail and a main artery, and I had initially dismissed it in favor of the areas closer to where we are now.  Still, the complex is laid out so that no one can speed through it in their car; it is tucked back from the street and doesn't connect through, which avoids through-traffic.  There are lots of mature trees, and space between the buildings.  Every unit has a garage and is two-story, and the percentage of rentals is very low.

We walked through a unit that had been remodeled.  The kitchen had been gutted and redone completely.  I usually shy away from those because I rarely share the same taste as the remodeler, but in this case I was pleasantly surprised.  Except for the stainless steel refrigerator, the finishes were ones I would have picked myself.  The cliche of granite-and-stainless wasn't executed with such relentlessness in this particular remodel, and the overall effect is softer than many I've seen.  The dining room is beautiful, the fireplace re-facing is modern, and the colors are soft and current.  The unit has 3 bedrooms and a two-car garage and a basement.  The feature that got me hooked, however, was the outdoor space.  It is big enough - and private enough - that I could have adequate space for a dog, a fire pit, and plenty of potted plants.  That was the thing that was noticeably missing in the other property; all it had was a balcony.

I was also excited that it has an attic fan and a humidifier system installed with the central heating/airconditioning.  The front room is small but the third bedroom is enticing.  I used to have an office in my house in Edgewater, and the thought of moving my computer and files out of the living room makes me happy. 

I put an offer on it Saturday afternoon, and the inspection is tomorrow.  I so much hope that it all goes well.  Not only do I want to move, and I have a rapidly shrinking deadline, but I've also  paid for one inspection already, and I have yet to receive back my Earnest Money from the first property.  Since I terminated my lease early, I have an extra month's rent to pay for the "privilege" of moving sooner, and this new property is 15K more than the original one, so my closing costs will be higher. 

To say that I just want to put this all behind me is an understatement, to be sure.  We drove by the place today on the way to the grocery store, and I noticed they were having an open house.  The realtor who is representing the seller markets himself as a "bulldog," and I couldn't help dropping in for a quick look at how it was going.  The place was crawling with elderly folks, and Bulldog was a little long in the tooth, too.  I told M to not say anything, that we were "undercover," and we walked around a bit.  I noticed the old folks were straining a bit with the stairs, and spent a long time inspecting the basement.  M was offended that people were touring "our" house, but I explained that they didn't know it was ours.  I admit I felt the same way.  I asked the realtor as we were leaving how long the place had been on the market and he said 4 weeks, but he did add that it was under contract.  So that made me happy.  He wanted to know if I wanted to be emailed any more information, but I told him I'd be in touch.

Tomorrow is the inspection, so I figure we'll be in touch pretty soon!

Saturday, February 26, 2011

On the Edge

It was the early 80s, I was living with my soon to be ex-husband and several roommates in Los Gatos, California, and we were all reading a great new book.  I remember Chip, one of my roomies, and I comparing notes about how far we had gotten in the story, and trying not to give anything away.  "Spoiler Alert" hadn't been coined yet.

Robert Ludlum captivated me with his stories for some time to come.  He hooked me with his character Jason Bourne.  I could empathize all too well with someone who had a past he wanted to escape and forget. 

Over the years, I have been blindsided countless times.  Sitting in a movie theater, reading a book, or talking to someone, a subject comes up that I wasn't ready for, and I find myself unprepared to deal with the emotions that well up inside me.  I sat in a dark movie theater in 1994, tears completely blinding me, and had to be led out of Forrest Gump by my friend because the scene where Jenny threw rocks at that house had completely undone me.

I have been imersed in a book and found myself taken down by a theme I was not aware was in the book. 

It happens all the time.  It never gets easier.  I wish I had armour against the onslaught, but I don't.  And just as I'd feared, as my daughter approaches her seventh birthday, looking at her sometimes makes me want to double over in pain.  I just don't comprehend how someone could hurt a seven year old child.

This past week has been particularly hard.  I've been woken up in the middle of the night several times by the fighting going on in the next door unit.  That family's dysfunction is so hard to hear.  It tears the protective coating right off of me.  I've walked through my days this week with my patience worn down to the bone.  I need to get away from here.  I cannot stand to listen to angry voices, crying, and yelling. 

The townhouse complex that I'm trying to buy into had regulatory issues that they've been trying to resolve.  My mortgage approval is contingent on them getting it taken care of, and I had to sign a contract extension on Tuesday, and it gave them until the day before my closing date to finalize.  To say that it stressed me out is an understatement. I am hanging on to my composure with both hands.

And of course, packing up our things and having boxes stacked in the livingroom has had an unsettling affect upon my daughter.  She has crawled into my bed most nights lately, which of course makes it harder for me to get any rest.  When I had my dear sweet Labradors, when we were moving from our house and everything was in chaos, one of them ran out to my car and sat in the front seat, stubbornly refusing to budge.  It was clear that she was saying to me "look, you are taking me with you and I don't want to hear another word."  My daughter seems to be feeling the same thing, at least on a subconscious level.  How can I blame her?

Work, naturally, has been a zoo lately.  My mentor, whom I've grown to love, left the company on Friday.  Another loss.  Somehow I have lost most of the important women in my life, time and again.  No wonder I am so solitary.  No wonder I try to do everything by myself.  It feels like the moment I trust someone and gain their intimacy, they are gone.  I feel bereft, but what can I do?  I have too many details to attend to, to feel sorry for myself for too long.  There is always something to be done.

I want so much for this new place to happen, to work out, and to be good for us.  I want a safe, happy, productive sanctuary.  Somewhere where we can thrive.  I want to get a dog.  I want things to make sense and feel right.  I want to sleep at night and feel like we belong.  I need the longing to run away and live somewhere far away to recede into the back of my head where my dreams lie, and stop coming into my consciousness as I try to get on with my day to day living.  I want to feel normal, and ordinary.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Chasing Details

I'm about to go over to the Townhouse and meet a plumber.  The water had been off for a long time and that had an adverse affect on some of the connections.  So, before the appraisal, some minor repairs need to be done.  He also needs to replace one of the shower faucets, and since I don't like the ones in place, I've picked up some new ones and I'm hoping he'll be willing to swap them out. 
Tomorrow is the appraisal, and I think it will go smoothly.  But real estate has been in such a state of flux that the comps may be all over the place... that's the only thing I'm really concerned about as far as the appraisal goes.
There are so many things to keep track of!  And most of them are contingent on each other, so I feel like I'm building this enormous house of cards, or stack of blocks.  All it takes is one thing to fall out, and the rest topple to the floor. 
I've managed to find a home for my massive oak desk and my free-standing evaporative cooler, but I still have a few odds and ends to give away.  I kept all the boxes from the last move, so pretty soon I'm going to start packing up my stuff.  There is the cable to transfer and the post office to notify, movers to schedule and a window guy to set up.  I've already taken a huge load of outgrown clothes and shoes and things to Goodwill, so along with the desk gone there's a big space open in the garage to start putting boxes.  I have lists and notes written down that I consult with daily.

The HOA for the Townhouse changed their management company last fall, and their financials got all tangled up - just in time to re-apply for their FHA certification, which they failed.  The financials have since been straightened out, but their application won't be approved for 30 days, which misses my closing date.  My mortgage broker is going to do a "spot approval" which he feels confident about and so hopefully my closing won't be cancelled or moved out too far.  I'd hoped to have a few weeks to move and get the new place ready.  M has picked out her paint color and is pretty excited about having a pink bedroom.  I'm pretty excited about having a bigger kitchen.  I'm crossing my fingers.

On Tuesday I'm meeting Bob at a local restaurant.  (He picked a good one.)  I've talked to him a couple times on the phone and as much as I hate talking on the phone, I enjoyed it enough to look forward to meeting him.  I wanted to wait until AFTER Valentine's Day, though.  Such foolishness.  Valentine's feels like Dodgeball to me.  Out of all the years of my life that I can remember, I've maybe had a half dozen good Valentine's Days.  I've had a LOT of terrible ones and some truly memorable horrific ones.  I always hope it's going to land on a non-work day so that I can ignore it.

M's class is having a party tomorrow and we have to pick up some Valentines for her to give out.  I hope all the kids give one to everybody.  They're better about that now than they were when I was her age.  It's never too early to teach kids not to be mean.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

What’s in a name?

This Internet Dating thing is bringing some things to my attention that I’d probably rather not be aware of. One of them is how many men (women too, I imagine, but I’m not corresponding with them) represent themselves in ways that probably aren’t to their advantage.

I’m keeping my selection criteria limited to local guys between 45 and 55 years old. I know there that age affects different people in varying ways, but some of the guys that claim to be in this range seem to be... old. Like in more like my dad than the friends I know who are my age. Either that or the years have not been kind, and I want someone whose abilities and outlook match my own. I’ve got decades before I’m ready to get excited about Early Bird Specials and retirement communities. And quite a few of them should have someone help them with their photos and/or their profile narratives. The usernames are something else. I don’t know how other women feel about this, but I’m not enthusiastic about hearing from a guy who calls himself _Hot_, Mr Feelgood, or Easygoing. They sound like candy bars.

So, I was pleased to talk on the phone to Bob (yet another Bob) this afternoon. He’s my age, and he looks like he’s still got some life in him. He’s a dad, has a daughter at CU, and has a job similar to mine. He sounded upbeat and normal. I’d really like to date someone upbeat and normal. That would be nice. It’s been a really long time since I spent time with a man who liked the same kinds of things that I do and was pleasant to be around. He said he wants to meet me, and so we’ll see.

The thing is, I’m used to being on my own. I’m so used to it that I don’t know how good I am at making room for someone else. I accommodate myself for my daughter so much that I’m jealous of any spare moments I have to myself. I wonder what kind of dance partner I would make to someone these days.

Sooner or later, I may get the chance to find out.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Instigating Change

So Bachelor Number Two turned out to be not-so-great... he wasn't a douchebag like B#1, but there was no spark, no excitement, and no energy.  He was too vague; vague about himself, vague about his plans, and not trying hard enough to show me that he was someone special.  I met up with him a second time to verify my impression of him, and he picked a crummy place.  Well, I thought, that's not so bad.  Let's see how it goes anyway.  But then he showed up and wouldn't answer my questions about what he did before he got into his current job, even though - at this age - he would have had a couple of decades of work under his belt doing SOMETHING.  (Two of my friends have already speculated about prison time!)  He mentioned again that he was thinking about doing something else, because keeping up with technology is so hard (!) but he didn't have a real plan about what else he wanted to do to earn a living.  I think that is where my interest stopped. 
I've already had a relationship (or two) where his Career Plans were vague or non-existent, and I already know how frustrating and un-interesting I think that is.   (Buster, anyone?  Ex-husband from my dark and murky youth?  No thank you.)  It isn't about materialism, it's about mental engagement and drive.  I am far too active and independent to want someone who can't form a solid idea.  It would drive me crazy.

So, realizing that the dating thing is going to be a process, and not a very satisfying one to begin with, I turned back to the things I've been looking into for a couple of years.  Since October of 2008, I've been researching real estate in this area.  I rented this townhouse so that I could get M settled into the school of my choice and then get myself situated job-wise and figure out the ins and outs of this community, since I used to live further north of where I live now.  I pay a fairly high rent, but part of that is so that I could have the amenities I wanted and make sure I could swing this rate financially.  It's been working out fine, so I have been feeling more and more like I'm ready to seriously investigate particular properties.

Lately my real estate porn viewing has been rather obsessive.  The internet won't answer all of the questions that a person has when they are looking for properites, but it is great for weeding things out that don't fit the criteria that you've chosen for yourself.  I really want to keep M in the same school, so the school district website's boundary maps are very helpful.  Then there is the plethora of real estate search engines to look up which communities have properties for sale and what's been selling and the various prices.  Since I'm looking for a townhouse to buy, it comes down to the variables within a certain price range.

I had it narrowed down to a list of three complexes.  What browsing online will NOT help with, of course, is what these places look like in person.  Pictures can be deceiving, and the condition of the building, the construction, and the fixtures, are all things that you just have to see for yourself.  My real estate agent is a very sharp woman that has her ducks in a row, and I like her energy level and her no-nonsense approach.  I also admire anyone who has managed to survive being in real estate through this depression.

So, lists in hand, we set out this morning to investigate the places I'd chosen.  I had a very good feeling about one complex in particular, but it is large and the units in the complex vary quite a bit in size and features, while still staying in a general range.  I really want a garage, for instance, and some of them don't have one.  This kind of thing is one of the things that is often unreliable when you're looking online; sometimes it is misstated, and sometimes the information is just missing.  I also want a fireplace (this IS Colorado, after all) and it would be nice to have some kind of outdoor space, although that is not as important as a garage when it comes down to it.  In fact, I've found that it's kind of "either-or" - they either have one or the other, but rarely both.

I had found a complex that had both, and was excited about seeing them, but what I found by actually going to showings is that the interiors don't measure up to the exteriors, and that the properties are overpriced.  One in particular was in not-such-great shape in the very things you can't tell by looking at pictures.  The flooring was not finished very well; it looked like someone had done a quick and sloppy job, and it would be something I would have to re-do.  The place was cleared out for showing, but random items had been left behind - again, the lack of attention to detail was a little disturbing.  And it smelled funny.  The concrete patio was in disrepair, the bathrooms needed work, and the price was higher than the other properties on my list.  Along with being too close to the freeway, it just didn't measure up in the end.

At the complex that was much more promising, one of the units we looked at was just awful.  On the front door there was an alert sticker to the fire department that the property had a dog and two cats.  As soon as we'd opened the front door, I knew I wanted to leave.  The place smelled very strongly of cat.  The occupant clearly was still in residence, and the whole living space looked as if it wasn't cleaned very often.  The carpet was covered in pee stains. It was incredible.  The icing on the cake, as it were, was the mechanical chair lift bolted to the staircase.  We turned down the opportunity to look at the rest of the rooms.

The one that fit every one of my wish-list items except one (an outdoor patio) DID have a balcony.  And a two car garage, and a wood-burning fireplace, and two master bedrooms, and a separate laundry room, and a nice sized kitchen.  It isn't too close to the pool, it is right next to the greenbelt we love to walk and ride our bikes in, and it has a brand-new carpet.  It's currently unoccupied, is squeaky clean, and is in great condition.  We're putting an offer in as soon as I hear back from my finance guy.

I could be in before school lets out for the summer!  I am so excited!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Bachelor Number Two

One of the first guys that contacted me on the Current Dating Site seemed like a nice guy, but we started emailing each other right when Denver got its first measurable snow and the temperature plummeted, and I was home with the child on her Winter Break.  There was no chance of meeting up until she was back in school, so it took until this afternoon to arrange something with him.

After last Friday's fiasco, I was not quite as enthusiastic, and I was a little bit worried that I wouldn't be able to recognize Bachelor Number Two because the pictures he supplied were from 2002.  But he sounded nice, and he works in IT like me, and he has a black Lab.  I have a very soft spot for black Labs... as I'm still missing Maggie and Molly with a sharp ache. 

He suggested a place that I know, and was coincedentally the spot I met a date the LAST time I was doing this whole Internet Dating Thang.  THAT guy had been a real prick, but I decided not to hold it against the restaurant.

You can never predict the traffic crossing town after work, but I needed to stop by the library and pick up a book I'd reserved, so I left work and headed out.  After being in the single digits all week, today was quite nice and the icy, snowy streets were melting.  I made it to the library in no time, and then arrived at the restaurant location with a half hour to spare, so I popped into DSW Shoes to browse.  It's amazing that out of dozens of pairs of black leather boots, I couldn't find just the right pair, but I enjoy looking at shoes.  At the appointed time, I crossed the parking lot and entered the restaurant.

He wasn't there.  And after ten more minutes, he still wasn't there.  The place wasn't busy yet, so I got the benefit of every server and hostess and even the manager staring at me.  The manager even asked me if I was doing okay.  I smiled and told him he could only help me if he'd found a guy in his restaurant sitting by himself waiting for me. 

Just when I was about to leave, there he was in front of me.  He still had his sunglasses on, so it took me a second... and his hair is grey, but when he removed his glasses and smiled, I saw that it was him.  We sat down and ordered a beer, and started talking.

And he was nice!  (and I never saw a cellphone!)  He talked mostly about his work, but he asked me a lot of questions about mine, as well.  He seemed eager to find things we had in common, which was flattering.  I enjoyed talking to him, and if I hadn't had to leave to go pick up M, I would have been happy to stay longer.  I told him that I had to go, and he offered me his contact info.  I was pleased that he wasn't trying to rush things.

When I realized that I had to leave Right Then, or risk being late, he understood, and didn't try to follow me to my car.  I left and picked up M and we went home and had dinner and we then we got started on her homework.  Only then did I check my email, and he'd sent me a brief, friendly message.

So I chatted online with him for a bit, while I monitored M's homework progress, then I told him I'd talk to him later.

This one has possibilities! 

Saturday, January 8, 2011

One Down

Friday after work, I met Bachelor Number One.   On paper, he looked very promising:  nice looking, accomplished, confirmable background and reasonable profile.  The five kids gave me pause, but in my online fact checking - possible because he'd given me his first name and phone number - showed that he was, as he claimed, divorced.  He wanted to meet me and I set up a time.  I felt pretty hopeful about him being as interesting as he appeared to be.  We agreed to meet at a local restaurant.

The first thing I noticed as I pulled up in the parking lot and spotted him right away was his very expensive and sporty silver car.  The second thought that crossed my mind as I got out and stood next to him was "5'11" my ass."  But he did look just like his profile picture, so I shrugged that off and followed him inside.

The bar of the restaurant was nice, with lots of granite and wood surfaces and pleasant colors.  We took a seat and ordered our drinks, and started to chat.  While we were talking, I noticed a few things.  He was pretty proud of himself, but lacked any balancing humor or self-depreciating remarks to make himself seem less stuffy.  He at one point stated that he did pretty well for himself financially (I hadn't asked; we were talking about the cost of living in Northern California.  I don't care if you're Bill Gates.  It still costs an awful lot more than it should to live in the Bay Area.). 
He could carry on a conversation and was interesting to talk to, but he wasn't funny at all.  He referred to his ex-wife in very derogatory terms.  He seemed to think I was making a favorable impression - yay me - but I doubt if it occurred to him that HE was on trial, too.  I remember being put off by his view that the 1950s had been an idyllic period in American history.  I didn't reveal that I'd checked out his background on the Internet; I just listened to him talk and noticed things that stood out.
There were few discrepancies in his story, but one of them was rather glaring:  he'd described himself as "completely free to set his own schedule" (including a bit of taunting about how he never had to get up early, after I mentioned how I get up at 5:30), but it turns out that he has those five children every other weekend.  And although he'd had them for a large chunk of the Winter break, he apparently was unaware that it was his weekend again. 
The first of what turned out to be a multitude of cellphone calls, which he mistakenly identified as being from his business partner, was his ex-wife wondering why he wasn't at home to meet the children she was dropping off.  He stepped away to take the call, but I could tell it wasn't a happy chat.  It seems his brood, which he described as "able to take care of themselves" had a key to get in, so he couldn't understand what the problem was.  When I asked, he told me they ranged from eight years old to fifteen.   In my head, I was calculating that his ex-wife, whom he referred to as the cliched "ball and chain,"  had produced 5 kids in 7 years, but he had the attitude that his part of that had been just as hard as hers.  And as he'd divorced five years ago, they'd been three to ten at the time.  I'm sure my face betrayed my opinion of this.

But the real kicker to the time we spent together was that he kept pulling out his cellphone, looking at who was calling, making some prediction about who was calling him and why, and then getting up and walking a short distance away, and conducting his calls.  Over and over again.
Not long after we'd arrived, the place filled up, so that there was a man and woman sitting to my right.  They were friendly and had said hello when they sat down, and when my date kept getting up to take his calls, they remarked on it to me.  I informed them that we were on a first date with a wry grin, and the man had the decency to look horrified and they both made consoling comments.
When our drinks were finished and it was time to leave, we walked out to our cars and he stopped beside them to tell me he'd enjoyed our date.  I know I said something to the effect that he owed me at least a half hour - my way of letting him know I didn't appreciate his behavior. Rather unexpectedly, he leaned in for a kiss.  He took me off guard, and his lips were too soft and spongy.  I broke away and got in my car, glad to have the date over, and thankful that the darkness hid my grimace.

Later, when I looked at my phone, I saw that he'd called three hours later and had left me a voicemail. 
He told me how he'd had a great time and said something like he was giving me back a half hour (so he'd heard me) but there was nothing like an apology in his words.  He sounded self-satisfied and smug.  He said he'd talk to me soon.  Today there were two emails from him.  I deleted them without responding.

I am not going to see him again.  That's one down.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011


I'm not generally a big fan of New Year's Resolutions, mostly because I understand human nature, and I've been in gyms in January and also in April.  I'm a firm believer that in order to successfully get someone to do something, you have to make it as easy as possible for them, and you have to make sure they get something out of it that they want.  I don't believe in guilt or shame.
So it's surprising to me that I've gone ahead and made two of them myself for 2011, because neither of these is easy, and the returns on one of them is questionable.  And I'm writing about it so that I've "put it out there" to make it more substantial.  We'll see how it goes...

#1 - Get back to my most healthy weight and fitness level.
At the beginning of October I started going to my employer's sponsored "boot camp" fitness classes twice a week, and yoga on Fridays.  I am MUCH stronger and feel better and am sleeping better since I began, but so far there's been no weight loss.  Therefore, as the new session began this week, I determined to be more conscientious of what I'm eating and be more mindful of my drinking, because I think I've been too lazy in this area.  I really, really don't want to become one of those people who turns into a fat, out-of-shape blob as they age, and I know now how easy it would be for it to happen to me.  All I have to do is stop paying attention.  I'm a master at rationalization, so making excuses is no problem.  Inertia will do the rest.
Ideally, I'd like to shed 15-20 lbs.

#2 - Date
I haven't gone out with anyone in over ten months.  I've been busy, I'm a full-time single mom, and the people I meet are all at work.  Like with the exercise, it's been easier to just stay in my comfortable little rut, ignoring that whole part of myself.  In the meantime, I watch myself getting older and I miss feeling the way that a man who is interested in me can make me feel.  The tipping point for me this time around was a guy at work telling me that he wanted to have an affair with me.  A married guy, and he was serious.
I don't think he realizes what he is offering me - or rather, how little.  That kind of thing is just table scraps, not a seat at the table.  I'm hungry, but not so much that I am willing to give up my self respect.  This doesn't even factor in how foolish it would be to jeopardize my job, or how stupid it would be to try to explain it to anyone I know; I'd have to keep it a secret, and I have no room in my life for that kind of shenanigans.
So, I asked my friend who's a "serial dater" to recommend a site, and he told me about one that he uses, and I put myself out there. 
So far, I've heard from a number of men I'd never consider, and a couple of interesting prospects.
And I have a great babysitter now, so there is hope.  We'll see how it goes.
I am going to my company party solo, however. 

By the Summer Solstice, I'm hoping to be svelt, fit, and much more "social."  I plan on going into 50 kicking, if not screaming.