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.