Tag Archives: dating

Must love dog parties

Must love dog parties

Just be who you are, whoever that is…. Ever heard that saying? Well, what if who you really are, is an asshole? Or how about, “there are no stupid questions.”? Uh, duh, yes there are. Plenty. So how about ” there’s no wrong way to do X.”? These are just lies circulated by well-meaning mothers (including me) and the Hallmark channel.
I was dating wrong. I was in desperate search for a wife. Date like that for awhile and you’ll know exactly what I mean. Worse yet, I was looking to replace the husband and father that was a fantasy. I blame Disney and the Hallmark channel.
If you’re dating, or single, or in a bad relationship, everyone has dating advice for you. ” you’ve got to be ready before you can find love” or “there’s a fish for every hook” or ” you’ve gotta love yourself first.” Or ” create a vision board/list/seashell mosaic of your perfect mate. ” and these things work, some times, by chance mostly I believe.
Because my last dating experiences, before “the marriage”, occurred when cell phones were carried around in ten pound bags, I assumed I just had a learning curve. All this technology! And it’s true that the language of dating has changed, or rather the platforms through which we communicate have changed. ” Last night was great! LOL” but the basics are more or less the same. I did have to stop looking for true love for it to land right in my lap.

In the beginning, the second beginning that is, I wanted so terribly, hopelessly, to replace (as quickly as possible) the relationship I imagined I’d lost with my husband. A space where there were brochure-worthy vacations, holidays with perfect turkeys, enviable Facebook posts, family yoga, homemade bread, Boggle games, picnics with dignitaries, dry camp sites, fire station visits, softball tournaments, bean bag chairs, dog parties, clam bakes, matching outfits, seaside family portraits, gardens, ferret adoptions…
The point is, I discovered rather immediately (at least twice) that that wasn’t what I wanted at all, well maybe dog parties…. But I wasn’t adept at sharing the charge of my daughters. I’m kinda a careworn frontier woman in this respect. Maybe that was something I longed for a decade ago, but I’d failed to let that fantasy go when reality took its place. So those forays into relationships were heartbreaking partings, and maybe it wasn’t a wrong way to date, but it certainly was agonizing.
So, I did what I could figure out to do, go on match.com and power date. It’s like looking for a new car: I like these features, I don’t like these features, pick a couple of options, test drive and put down an offer. But people are poor substitutes for cars. And cars are terrible substitutes for soulmates, except maybe my Mini Cooper. I’d probably marry her, though she’s terrible at doing dishes and the one time I asked her to plan a dog party…wow, did she ever fuck that up. But I digress.
I considered the vision board, but in my house finding a glue stick that isn’t dried out and a pair of scissors that opens AND closes isn’t really an option. I thought about making a list and pondered singles cruises, but the whole situation had exhausted me, so instead, I just sat.
I stopped expecting something, stopped imagining that I was ready to know what I wanted, or needed. I can hardly order lunch some days and I am fully aware of exactly what kind of food I want and need. Why did I think I knew who was going to fill the chasm in my heart? I decided to sit alone. Because if I had to go on one more horrible date and make small talk about beer pong, I was going to jump a slow-moving train to Vinton.
And confidentially, no one will ever fill that chasm in my heart, or be the imaginary genius Dad/husband that I kept checking for on Tinder. Knowing this was the most freeing thought I could have had. Hearing this allowed me to breathe and sit . And one day, I found myself sitting in the right place with the right space to allow something beautiful to grow.
So here’s my unsolicited dating advice for you, gentle reader…lose your list of expectations. What you think you want, maybe isn’t what you really need. It’s probably something you never imagined, or could imagine, like the distance of Pluto from the earth. And maybe it’s helpful to start with knowing who you are. Me I’m a complicated mix of hilarious and needy, generous and bad at home repairs, honest and a decent dancer, a mother with a teenage heart. So you, go ahead, be who you are, even if that’s a total asshole, you’re in good company. I hope you find your asshole soulmate and you both play out the rest of your days tossing waded up love notes to each other at your dog’s birthday party.


Careful what you wish for

Careful what you wish for

I believe in karma. Meaning, I believe what you give out to the universe, is what you get back. Maybe that’s not karma exactly, but it’s the word I’m going with, much like alanis mortisette’s use of the word “ironic”.
So I am fairly careful about what I specifically wish for, I think the universe has a way of allowing you to learn your lessons the hardest ways possible, so you don’t forget. I suppose I imagine the personified version of the universe much like the cigar smoking uncle in the Christmas Vacation movies with Chevy Chase. “Ok, you want a date that’s footloose and charming well here’s your philandering pharmacist, stupid. ”
The trouble is, thinking you know what you want, and not REALLY knowing. The universe is happy to oblige by sending you what you asked for, but seems remarkably absent when you try to return said request when it implodes in your face. Like rubbing a magic lamp, better be sure of what you wish for.
So what do I REALLY want? I want what I believe we all want: to be happy. So what does that look for me? I think this is where things get sticky. I had a very specific version of happiness, or at least I thought so. I met, fell in love with, married and had three beautiful, smart daughters, with a brilliant, successful, kind-hearted man. Who wouldn’t be happy!?
Of course, Chris was more complicated than that short list of adjectives and the challenges came in the spaces in between all of that. But I believed that was ALL I needed. So coming up with a NEW list, feels terrifying. What if I don’t know what I need to be happy, or worse, what if I don’t trust that I know what will make me happy?
Before I go too much further I believe it’s important to clarify, I am happy. I am human, I am struggling at times, I am healing, but I am happy. And I love to say to my girls, “No one can MAKE you anything.” But there are people who come into our lives that make it easier to choose to be happy and people who make it harder to choose to be happy. So what I’m really asking for is a partner who will make choosing to be happy easier. And I think the real challenge for me still, is trusting what I feel when I meet that person.
It’s a little like buying a car…you make a list of features you’d like, you save your money and you shop. You’ll like some cars, some would do fine, but one day you find the quirky, little, blue Mini Cooper and you just know that you’d be heart broken if you came back and it wasn’t in the lot anymore. Buying cars is easier than trusting my heart still, but as I keep saying, I’m learning.



Dating still has to be the most bizarre creation we’ve come up with in society. Seems like everyone is trying to get into a relationship, get out of a relationship or get over a relationship. And very often it seems we are trying to do all three at the same time. But I’ve accepted the yolk of responsibility and I’m trying to remember it’s a learning experience and as m’lynn said, ” that which does not kill us, makes us stronger.”
Apparently, I’m learning, I’m very eager to trust my instincts, open and honest to a fault and fairly delusional. Meaning, if I were a hunter, I’d probably be slaughtered by a rabid deer, because I had stopped to feed it berries. Fortunately, I’m not hunting for food and I’m up to date on all my shots. This is to say only this about the squirrel taxidermist with whom I spent a few weeks, sometimes it’s best to just accept that yes, I am kinda judgey and frankly, I have no idea what I’m doing.
So I’m just hoping that with quantity, eventually I’ll figure it all out. But know this, it’s brutal and I’m on something of a time restraint. I’m trying to squeeze in all this learning between raising three girls alone, a couple or twenty jobs and a couple or twenty hobbies, and oh yeah that whole grieving healing thing. It’s like binge watching a bunch of documentaries on relationships and then trying to pass a 200 page exam all in a few hours. Mistakes are being made. And I’d love to be able to just give up and become a hermit (which my friend M and I concede is frequently the only answer when things get tough). But I like people, and I’m discovering more and more, that though I’m very proficient at being alone, it’s lonely.
So, I’m going back up to bat, with what must be a very bad batting average ( is 3 a bad batting average? I don’t follow baseball.) God, now all I can think of are ball throwing analogies. So, I’ll get back on the horse, or the bicycle, or out where the fish are in the sea and cast my rod of love. Ok evidently my relationship troubles are affecting my ability to come up with proper descriptions of my relationship troubles. But you probably grasp that I’m not giving up, not because of a few cat herders (actually just one), because I am gaining so much knowledge about who I am in relation to other people. And that is what will thrust me into the sea of passion, no-catapult me into the crockpot of love stew, no- wedge me in the soft-spot on the cradle cap of love.
Well, clearly this is a process, and I’m not where I want to be, but I’m getting there and hopefully I don’t get downed by rabid woodland creatures in the interim.

Management 101

Management 101

Love is a fickle bitch. You think she’d just recognize an amazing person and then settle in for a lifetime of romantic montages. But no, apparently she has a twisted sense of humor instead.
Part of the joy? of dating the second time around is figuring out what it is I want as a grown up and recognizing what I can’t manage. Which to the casual observer might obviously be something very different than what I wanted when I was in my early 20s. For me, that has taken some trial and error to figure out. And frankly, what exactly this is seems to be something of an enigma still.
Maybe love was just simpler in the 90s, all those John Hughes films from the 80s had fueled a fairly concrete picture of who I should spend my life with–Emilio Estevez. Or some other jock with a heart of gold. Or perhaps I’m making it more difficult than it needs to be.
Somehow the part of me that longs for a slow motion run into the arms of a shirtless hero won’t reconcile with a weirdly practical sense of time management. Meaning- I’m a busy woman and I’m no longer looking to build a family with someone. I have a family, and for the most part I fear that the nuclear family ship has sailed for me. I suppose what I mean is, I’m raising my babies and I can’t seem to make room for anyone else to do that with me.
So I’m just like, regular dating, whatever that means, but on the side of being a single parent. So the scenario is like this, I’m dating, but I’ve got three roommates ages 14, 12 and 9. And they are less like roommates and more like nagging wives. ” why are you never home? “, ” why don’t you ever take me out?”, “how come you never get dressed up for me?”, ” but you get to see your friends at work all the time. “.
Never a day off–ever. I’m phenomenally lucky to be able to afford a regular babysitter/nanny/hired wife. She’s wonderful, but she can’t be a second parent no matter how great she is. She’s more like a big sister in that way. And the girls let me know it. Plus they spend a lot of time assuming I’ll never come back if I leave, so I get it. It’s complicated.
I might have mentioned that this struggle is just one in a long line of how do I participate in life as a grown up, who’s not entirely “grown-up”, be a parent and role model, and make space for me as a single lady. Imagine that the majority of your social interactions are being scrutinized by a trio of people who know you very well in one specific way, but collectively have the emotional maturity of kimmy Schmidt. Imagine your employees live with you, are dependent on you and feel very free to share with you how disappointing you are to them as a boss. By the way, you cannot fire them.
I’m not really complaining. I do love my daughters intensely and recognize that we are in this pickle vat together. We keep each other afloat. And when they are busy and happy, they don’t much mind that I work, or even go out for a drink with friends.
So it’s just part of where I am, which I never imagined I’d be. I’ve never really been great at thinking stuff through, I mean seriously, Emilio Estevez ? I was way more Anthony Michael Hall’s type anyway.

On line dating-a brief rant

On line dating-a brief rant

Do you know what the number one adjective on Plenty of Tinder Christian Cupid Match.com profiles is…? “Honest.” Seriously. Couldn’t I just assume that you’re not a pathological liar? That you actually are truthful. Doesn’t that seem to set the bar extraordinarily low? “Hey, I’m a breather, who won’t lie to you much, I have a head and arms.” Jesus, where has this guy been all my life!?
The second most frequent descriptor is “laid back”. Now I’m not totally down with the vernacular of dating site profiles, but that just sounds like “lazy” or ” frequently could not give two shits”. Hey baby, I’m laid back in my BarcaLounger, get ready to swoon and make me a sand which.
And seriously guys, get somebody to take a proof of your profile picture. If the only picture you have is a dark, blurry picture of you staring blank faced into the bathroom mirror, just don’t bother. Everything has a camera on it now, walk outside with your buddy, or your aging neighbor, smile and take a picture with your pencil phone. And by the way, take off your mirrored sun glasses and camouflage hat. You look like a serial killer.
Now, I get that this is all very complicated, this whole selling yourself to the world, but if you’re not willing to put in the minimal amount of effort it takes to present yourself in a decent light, why would you expect me to care? And for God sakes, just be honest, don’t say you’re honest, that’s code for ” I don’t know many adjectives and this sounds like a good one”. If you don’t know what to say, or what you’re looking for, sit back from the computer and consider it for a minute. Don’t write, “I don’t know how to describe myself. ” Because, guess what genius, that was obvious from your blurry profile picture. If you don’t know what you’re looking for, you’re probably going to find a ton of randomness and I don’t really have time to figure out if I’m what you’re looking for. I’m a busy lady, there’s Friends episodes I haven’t watched yet.
I believe the greatest gift online dating gives to us is not finding your soulmate (though I do know people who have done just that). It’s deciding who you are and what you want. I can recognize that it is a process, but no one likes to see the sausage being made, no pun intended. So go through the first couple of steps offline. Then for the love of all things holy, have someone take a look at your profile, edit it. Stop saying you’re honest and laid back, it makes you look like a lazy creep. And do not post a bathroom selfie, this is a numbers game, bathroom selfies should not win anyone a date. Figure out who you are, breathing and honesty can be assumed. Figure out what you want. And if you keep coming up with, ” a maid who likes causal sex” maybe it’s time to do some deep soul searching instead of online dating.

Feel the rain on your skin

Feel the rain on your skin

Sometimes when things aren’t quite as I want them, I get impatient for the next phase of life. The phase when I roll over on a Sunday morning to greet the warm smile of my beloved. The phase where I am sharing the burdens and joys of maintaining a household. The phase that starts with the mad rush into embracing vulnerability, the appreciation of the available kiss, treasuring the smell of skin. The phase that drifts into regularly talking to another adult.
No doubt, being a single parent is lonely. I’m not alone, I have friends. And I’m not complaining, just saying. It is lonely. So there’s an opportunity to embrace my present life circumstances. When I’m focused on the joys of my current situation my mind says something like this…wasn’t it delightful to sleep in the jumping jack position, remember how last night you didn’t have to ask anyone if they wanted to go to parkway brewery, and that when you were ready to come home, you just did, no compromise, no long drawn out, “well, what do you want to do? Well what do you want to do? Well…” . My closets are full, all of them, with my stuff. My bathroom is the exact amount of clean I want it to be. I spend money how I want, choose how to spend my free time, listen to my music. The seat in my car is always adjusted to my height.
Welcoming someone into my little world would change things. I like eating cheese sauce for dinner. Sometimes I only want to get dressed to work out and not actually work out. There is a process that my clothing goes through, only a very brief part is being clean and folded in the drawer. Occasionally I snore more like a congested truck driver and less like a lady. I vacillate between not being sure where the window seat in my bathroom is and needing the whole house to smell like bleach. There are times I want to lay in bed until noon playing puzzle forge-Alone!, and times I want to get up at 6am and think about how the plot of the wizard of oz relates to my life. Periodically I like to dance like no one’s watching, knowing that people are watching.
So you can see, it would be quite a compromise to give up cheese for dinner in order to have the daily love and support of another adult human being. I’m not rationalizing, life is good. Just different than it will be someday. And while I’ll miss taking up my queen size bed and not finding beard hair in my sink, I’m kinda looking forward to it.

Kiss me

Kiss me

A male co-worker of mine invited me to a single’s party. It sounded almost as horrible as it appeared at first. The premise was, each person who was invited invited two of their single friends and then a bunch of single people mingle. It’s one decade short of a key party, but I’m curious, bored and single, so why not?
The good news was, the snacks were on point. I love a good pig in the blanket and I could’ve bathed in the cheese dip. Otherwise I was feeling pretty typically awkward standing in this crowd of strangers. I often look for the host’s dog about this time. Dogs love me, and frankly they love everyone. So much less judgey than people.
Anyway it was about the time that I was plotting to smuggle a shirt full of mini wontons into a coat closet when I spotted this face in the crowd. I swear the overhead light was lighting him up like a character in a bad (redundant) Hugh Grant romcom. My attention was almost immediately distracted by an boisterous southern gent, who no doubt sensed I was about to make off with a tray of appetizers.
Later in the evening, there was a call to gather in the back room for some horrible cheesy give away that would unscientifically pair two horrified singles together. As I tried to maintain my personal space in the crowd of desperate people I turned to find my guy standing right next to me.
I made some offhand joke about middle aged lemmings and he laughed acknowledging the bizarre concept of the gathering. We started to talk, the usual surface level small talk, jobs, recent celebrity news, the teetering woman stuffing her face at the snack table. He had just arrived in town to start a medical residency at the local hospital. After a half hour or so we were really talking, about real stuff. Politics, our hopes for the future, how he’d dreamed of learning to fly a plane, how I felt like I’m impossibly awkward on the dance floor. I could see there was something so much more complex about this guy. I felt a sparkle in my heart that I had not felt in a very long time.
You know that moment when two people realize that they have stumbled onto something significant? When they shyly venture into the game? We were there in less than an hour. “Do you want to get out of here?” He asked. There was no hesitation or question. So off we went.
He was driving an older model red Porsche 911 and I felt like a rock star driving off into the night with him. He was confident and funny and handsome. We laughed and marveled over our common interests. We drunkedly made plans for numerous future dates, to Ethiopian restaurants and Jonatha Brooks concerts, and drives in the country, and road trips to Asheville.
We met an aging drunk who believed that his contributions to the community were so significant that he was the self-proclaimed mayor. He told us if we ever got married that he’d officiate the wedding. We glanced knowingly at each other and said it was hardly even our first date. Later, as we sped off into the night the song “kiss me” came on the radio and it became our song.
In the wee hours of the evening, when he finally brought me back to my house, he kissed me gently as he held my hands and looked deeply into my eyes. He asked if he could stay and suggested that he would make an impressive omelette in the morning. I giggled, but politely declined. I had a feeling there were to be many opportunities for breakfasts together.
And I was right. I wouldn’t have another first date for over a decade. And there were many more breakfasts and dinners and concerts. There were late nights and early mornings and movies. There were amazing omelettes and walks in the rain. We read “To Kill a Mockingbird” together and he learned to fly an airplane. We danced in our living room as he sang country songs. He told me I had beautiful hands and was like a reliable Saturn. There were tears of joy and hidden pains. We became a nation of two, then three, then four, then five, as each of our beautiful daughters entered our lives. And it all started with saying yes to a party invitation.



(Dad, Madeleine…you may want to skip this one)

The more I date, the more frequently I consider becoming a nun.
Almost purely out of curiosity, I recently decided to check out tinder. For those of you in blissful ignorance, tinder is a dating app that finds singles (who also have the tinder app) geographically located near you. You see the profile picture of said singles and either “x” them or “heart” them. If they “heart” you back you are a match and then you each have the opportunity to email each other lively conversation like “hi” or they can send you a picture of their penis. Ah! Modern love.
While I was in Chicago, where there is a considerably larger dating pool, I decided to give it a try. What I discovered is tinder is exactly like a crack addiction. At first it is an amazing rush and by the end (which for me was 5 days later) you are slumped over in a sobbing heap fully convinced that there are no reasonable human beings left on the planet and that you’ve traded all your dignity away for a moment of excitement.
Let me walk you through the stages:
Stage one: oh my god! There are so many amazing looking men on here!
Stage 2: I’m getting so many matches! I’m a gorgeous human being. If I move to Chicago I would be married to my soul mate in a month.
Stage three: penis pic
Stage four: weird sexual offer ” I could let you have sex with me while my cat watches”
Stage five:penis pic
Stage six: angry text with multiple curse words ( people really can use “cunt” creatively in a sentence)
Stage seven: penis pic
Stage eight: ” why yes, I am married and I have four beautiful children that I adore”
Stage nine: penis pic
Stage ten: delete account
Curiosity cured, faith in humanity questioned. It’s the same reason I never want to work retail again: too much exposure to the larger human race. The good news is it has confirmed my desire to date myself, I’m making myself a jammin mix tape right now entitled ” valentines day is for quitters”.

I’m mostly faking it

I’m mostly faking it

Let’s be honest, dating is more complicated than a Russian opera. But I don’t have to tell you that, you’ve already tired to figure out if you’re supposed to text right away, two weeks later, or send a sky writer. And please don’t tell me you tired to call, on the phone, that’s so 2000. Who are you, my grandma? Well, fear not, I’ve been doing tons of research (hey, I’ve been on like 5 dates in two years). Since I am now the self-declared expert of my own life, and I’m on a dating break, I’ve come up with some rules that may help you.

1. Pour at least one thing on you before you leave the house. Coffee works well. This way you don’t have to be nervous about spilling something on yourself. If you are me, you’re going to spill something anyway, and anyone who plans on sharing meals with me had better know that before going into date number two.

2. Lotion your hands liberally right before you arrive. The handshake will be awesome. Better yet, use Vaseline. Or chicken grease!

3. Arrive at least three minutes late wearing clothing inappropriate for the season. It will give you something to talk about immediately. If your date fails to mention that you are wearing a tank top in winter, he’s probably not going to mention that affair he will have six months from now either.

4. Periodically throughout the date make a random weird face, for no reason and don’t mention it. Bug your eyes out, touch your tongue to your nose, get creative. Along with making weird voices, I will make weird faces. I’ll be best paired with a dude who finds this endearing.

4.5 Yell: “Suck it nerds!”, if he doesn’t get it, he’s out.

5. Tell an embarrassing story that you don’t realize is embarrassing until you’re halfway through it. Know that this will be your next embarrassing story.

6. Cry.

7. Mention that you talk for all the animals that live in your house. They all have distinct voices, if your date is not willing to learn every animals’ voice, then it would be best to go your separate ways.

8. Date at unusual hours, start a date at 915 knowing you will fall asleep by ten o clock. (Note to self, these are best done at home, you’re too big to be carried out of the movie theatre)

9. Order what you want, offer to pay and then realize you left your wallet at home, which seems pre-planned, but if this guy knew how often I leave my wallet, keys, pocketbook, drivers license, car and couldn’t remember where it was, he would know me. Really know me.

10. Send him a text while you are sitting across from each other asking how it’s going.

11. Snack on food you bring in your purse. Or wallet, if you’re a dude, or if you just happen to carry only a wallet.

12. After the date, call him every hour on the hour, but pretend to be one of your dogs. Ask him if he’s going to be your new daddy and ask to be taken for a walk.

13. Change your phone number.

14. Have fun and stop thinking this date is your last chance at love, sex, help with the dishes. You get to decide what the rules are. And if you’re me, in the process, you’re coming up with lots of new material.

Pulling out

Pulling out

My last date was with a cat trainer, not professional, just as a hobby. When I arrived I saw him through the window and thought, ” oh, he’s cute.” Upon entering the restaurant I noticed a long stem red rose, how thoughtful. It was pretty much downhill from there.
He pulled out my chair for me, also thoughtful, but felt out of place for me. At five foot ten and size 12, I’m anything but delicate and fairly unaccustomed to chivalrous gestures. But I accepted, because I wanted to. Then he tired to help me with my jacket. It was raining that night so I was wearing a rather practical raincoat and I’d velcroed the sleeves tightly around my wrists. This created a situation where I was eventually trapped with both arms over my head and my raincoat over my face. I mumbled from underneath the coat that I should probably take it from there.
Over the course of a lovely dinner I learned about the abusive boyfriend his wife had left him for, the year he spent training cats and all 27 points of a 27 point inspection for big rigs. This was a nice guy, a really nice guy and he really wanted to make a nice impression. He was clearly trying hard to make this work.
At the end of the date, there was an awkward hug and then I smashed my pinky finger between my door and the rear view mirror of the car next to mine. I compulsively suggested that he text me and immediately regretted that. He did, a couple of days later and I politely declined. I felt bad, he was probably just nervous and deserved a second chance, but I’m probably just not ready.
I think it’s time for a little winter break. I’m enjoying catching up on my netflix series and resting. Maybe this spring, and maybe not. I actually feel ok. I’ve got lots of great friends to spend time with and I’ve always enjoyed me time. Even though my cats are embarrassingly boring, I think it’s time to pull out.