Thursday, March 26, 2015

Say "yes" to the ... date?

Dating sucks.

Well, not the actual date part, per se. Though I've had a few of those that did, in fact, make me cringe and wish I had made a pact with a friend to call me with some pretend emergency if I text her the right code word. The feeling may have been mutual.

I'm not even sure how the whole process works anymore. I've kind of given up on looking for someone with whom to spend the rest of my life. In fact, when people ask me, "Do you think you'll ever get married again?" I answer it as if they just asked me, "Do you think you'll ever buy a fancy dress?"

I like fancy dresses. I can certainly live WITHOUT a fancy dress. I'm not spending an inordinate amount of time searching for a fancy dress. But if I happen to walk past a rack of fancy dresses and one jumps out at me and it fits perfectly and hugs me in all the right places and the color complements my skin tone and I feel just AMAZING in it, then sure, I might in fact buy that fancy dress. And sometimes, I browse through the racks of fancy dresses even if I don't plan on buying one. You know, just for fun.

In the meantime, though, I'm kind of just keeping my eyes open for something that fits me OK and that doesn't require a lot of special care and maintenance. Kind of like a wash-and-wear, no-iron boyfriend.

Here's the thing. Over the years, I've come to put "pre-dating" in the same category as shopping for a bathing suit. I seem to learn the hard way what styles are NOT me and what cuts DON'T fit, leaving me exhausted and just wanting to put my sweats back on, lay on the couch and eat a carton of ice cream.

For those of you who don't date, you can't relate to this. For those of you who could give a shit about dating or finding someone, you can't relate to this either. But for those poor suckers like me who are still at it, here's a few thoughts and maybe a couple of pointers for the opposite sex:

1) If you're "my age," you'll probably meet someone via unconventional means. I've only been picked up once in a bar - and I was married to him for nine years. I had a four-ish year relationship with a man I met online. I had one date with a guy I met while walking my dog. The latest was a gentleman who approached me in a grocery store. We went out a few times before he bailed because he thought our futures were too different.*

*Don't think I just fell off the turnip truck. Years ago, after a particularly bad breakup, I read a book that might sound stupid but it's been my mantra ever since. "It's Called a Breakup Because It's Broken: The Smart Girl's Break-Up Buddy" was essentially a manual for getting over being dumped. And it was pretty simple. If a guy wants to be with you, he'll be with you. If he doesn't call, it's not because he's sleeping/lost your number/is visiting his sick grandma. It's because HE'S NOT THAT INTO YOU. So delete his number, block him on Facebook, do whatever you have to do so you don't turn into that whiny chick who wants to know what she's done wrong and why he isn't contacting you. I repeat. He's just not that into you. End of story. Don't be bitter. Just move on. (My trick is that I never put a guy's name in my phone. It's always just his number that pops up, so I just delete the texts and voila - he's gone.)

2) There is a certain group of men out there who have never been married and don't have kids. Initially I avoided these types because 1) I figured there was no way in hell we would have much in common and  2) There HAD to be a reason they hadn't ever gotten married, right?

What I've found is that everyone has their reasons, and the fact that they didn't get married or have kids isn't a reason NOT to date them, but it's definitely going to be more of a challenge. Topics about kids are only relateable if they have that cute niece or nephew whom they just adore. They've spent their lives doing things you were for the most part completely unable to do due to your commitments to your spouse and kids. And if you're still caring for kids, you're not going to be as available as he might be, which can be - not saying always - but sometimes a bone of contention. But, if it's the right guy, it can work, though it never has for me.

3)  The whole "going on a date" idea has become ambiguous. If you meet online, there's the idle chit chat back and forth. Then texts and maybe a phone call. Then possibly coffee or a drink. If there's a mutual "connection," there may be another night or afternoon out. Meeting anyone any other way is kind of the same thing. I can't remember the last time a guy actually said, "Would you like to go out on a date?" I know it's old fashioned. But what's so wrong about it? Why do we do all this "pre-dating" and when does it actually BECOME dating?

The new phrase now is "hanging out." "You want to hang out sometime?" I always want to say, "Sure - I'll meet you at the gas station - get a six pack and we'll sit out back and smoke some cigs." And I get it - you don't want to say "date" because that could be implied as "commitment" and "hang out" is nice and safe. Because what if you just want to be friends? Do guys really LOOK for that kind of thing? The friend thing? I have guy friends, but they're usually husbands of girlfriends of mine. I mean, I'm not saying it doesn't and can't happen, but I think it's more the exception rather than the norm. Let's face it - "let's be friends" is the kiss of death in any dating scenario.

Come on. If you're interested, just take the plunge and ask for a date. "Hang out" is a selfish way to say "I want to text you when it's convenient for me and I'm not sure how I feel about you anyway." That's fine, I guess, if both parties are on the same page with that, but it's rarely the case. If a date doesn't go well, all you have to do, really, is send a text that says, "Thanks but I don't think we're compatible." I promise if I receive that I will not stalk you or cry or be devastated. It's much better than having three "hangouts" and wondering what the hell is going on. (And I'm pretty savvy on figuring out if "hangout" is the equivalent of "let's have sex," and yes, I've learned the hard way that usually doesn't lead to dating or a long-term relationship. Yep, it's true.)

4) Games are stupid, I don't do them and I'm so over it if you do. I'm too old and too tired to play them. If you text me, I will text you back when I see it. I won't wait three hours in order to appear chill or busy. So if you want to call me after a date, don't wait three days so you don't seem too needy. Just call, for God's sake. I could die tomorrow - then how would you feel? Like you missed an opportunity to have one more date with me before I died, that's how you'd feel.

5) Just because you're "dating" doesn't mean you're on the road to marriage. Some may want this but not everyone sees it that way. Dating can mean going out to dinner on the weekends, seeing a concert, hanging out on the couch on a weekday night eating pizza and watching a movie, or even mundane things like shopping or working in the yard. Dating is enjoying another person's company. I guess the problem is that dating can lead to love, which is another topic all together. While dating is enjoying another person's company, love is more of wanting to be with that person even when you're not. And if one person is in dating mode and the other is in love mode, it can get tricky. I don't have any advice for that because it's been awhile since things have gotten that far. 

Look, single people in your 30s, 40s, 50s and beyond. I know you may be jaded - everyone is to some extent. We've been around too long not to have some past mistakes and experiences cloud any new situation that comes our way. But at our age, everyone's going to have baggage - some good and some bad. If you can't handle it, exit respectfully. But if you think you want to stick with it, then I say just go for it. Life's too short to spend it alone (unless you really want to) and it's sure nice to have a Plus One every once in awhile.

With that said, I'll just continue to browse the racks and maybe someday I'll find that one "must have" that catches my eye and fits me in all the right places. Then maybe I'll buy it and wear it when someone finally asks me out on a date. Now wouldn't that be ironic?

Saturday, February 28, 2015

One year

For those of you who read me, you may be sick of my posts about my mom. So I'll add a caveat to this one: it's a post about my mom. Writing - it's how I deal. And in dealing, sometimes I strike a chord with others versus irritating them. Sometimes, I even make others feel as if they're not alone in their own feelings. That's the bonus. Mostly, though, it's how I deal. 

I know there are plenty of people who don't have one or more parents here anymore, and they survive just fine - at least on the outside. I'm not sure how they do it - they must be able to cover it better than I can. Or maybe the fact that I don't really have that partner to share sorrows and joys with makes it harder. I'm not sure. I know everyone at some point goes through this and survives. We all survive. But I guess I just didn't realize there would be such a void. Such an emptiness.

Not all the time. But a lot of the time. Still, after a year, Mom, my brain automatically thinks to call you to tell you something good (or bad) that's happened. My heart tells me to talk to you about something I'm struggling with, or to ask for parenting advice. My subconscious tells me I haven't seen you in awhile and I need to stop by with some soup or cookies or something and see the new outfit you got at some ridiculous sale price.

Snow angel for Mom - March 2, 2014
I never realized how great of a space you filled until you were gone. I never realized how much peace you gave me just knowing you were there. You and Dad took such good care of each other that my biggest worry was, well, what happened a year ago. I never worried that there was enough food in your fridge. Now I look and it's virtually empty, except a few random containers of stuff someone has brought over that are probably long overdue for the trash. Not that Dad doesn't shop and cook - he does - but not like you did - he'd even admit that (though he did do you proud with your homemade pea soup.) Of course the house is spotless, just like you left it. Your clothes? We just can't. None of us are ready. After a year, no one, especially Dad, wants to see your empty closet that once housed a veritable treasure trove of you fashion finds.

Not that Dad isn't fine. He's fine - I mean, relatively speaking. In fact, I'm pretty darn proud of and impressed by him. He's keeping busy and volunteering and helping out all the neighbors just like you know him to do. He still takes care of me like he always did, and I try to take care of him like I promised you I would. He's going on his walks and taking care of my dog and we go out to dinner and he comes over for dinner and I bet he'll be at most every one of Logan's track meets he can over the next few months. (I wish you could see Logan run. He's so fast. You'd be so proud.)

A love story for the ages.
I've said it before, Mom. The only thing worse than missing you is watching Dad miss you. I'm glad he likes to talk about you. So do I. I love hearing stories about you two that I'd never heard before. We joke when things happen around the house it's you're doing. It's a half joke - I'm pretty sure it could very well be your doing. (Thanks for helping him find his checkbook, by the way. Now if you could tell us where your fancy canister set is I think he'd sleep a lot easier!) But it's quiet over there. And as busy as he keeps himself, I catch him missing you. I see it in his face. I know every single day is hard for him at some point of the day. And that tears me up, especially since I know he says "that's not how it was supposed to be." I know how I miss you, and I can only imagine what his missing you is like. And there is nothing I can do to take that away from him. I told you I'd take care of him, and I'm doing my best - I really am. And I really do love having him around. But my sadness doesn't hold a candle to his, and I know how great mine is.

I know I put a lot of stock in getting past this one year milestone. I don't know if it will get "easier" per se. Grief - or whatever it's called at this point - seems to come in waves for me. I'm fine for awhile, then something happens and I realize you're not here anymore. My mother. Every time I realize that it's like I'm realizing it for the first time.

I know you see us. I know you're sending us signs. I know you're at peace, and that gives me peace. I know how proud you will be when you watch over that precocious grandson of yours as he graduates from high school. I can almost hear you yelling, "Hallelujah!" Just please always make me feel that way - that you're still there. Because if I didn't have that to hold on to, I  wouldn't have much else.

Daffodils in February - at hospice.
I miss you, Mom. I can't believe it's been one year - technically, March 1, but not technically, one year ago tonight. It feels like it was yesterday. The snow is falling exactly as it fell one year ago tonight. I received my "in remembrance" card today from Hospice. I don't know what to do with myself knowing one year ago at this very moment, on this Saturday night, I was by your side, and you were alive. I wish I could talk to you again. I wish I could hold your hand. I wish I could hear you say you love me and see you look at Dad with that love in your eyes. God I miss that. 

Thank you for being my mom. I was damn lucky. Thank you for calling me your Sunshine. I'm not sure I ever lived up to that, but it always made me feel special. You'll never know, Dear, how much I love you. Wish you hadn't gone away.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

You can say you don't believe in God, but don't tell me He doesn't exist.

This has been kind of bugging me lately. For some reason - maybe it's the prevalence of social media - it seems to be a "thing" to spout off that there is no God and that He's basically for all those people who don't quite understand science.

What triggered this post was the social media response to an article posted on NBC's Facebook page about a 14-year old boy, and the cousin of a good friend of mine.

Missouri Teen Submerged in Icy Lake for 15 Minutes Makes 'Miracle' Recovery

A Missouri teen  and his friends were playing on some thin ice about a month ago when it gave way and they fell through. Two of the teens made it to safety. However, one of the boys was submerged for more than 15 minutes and had no pulse for nearly 45. In the ER, he showed no signs of life and his body temperature was 88 degrees. It wasn't until his mother came in and started praying loudly that his heart began beating again. Just last week, the 14 year old walked out of the hospital with normal brain function.

His family called it a miracle. The doctor who treated him called it a "bonfide miracle." The response on social media was mixed at best. Among those who praised the doctors AND God were those so incredibly quick to tell everyone they were wrong.

"It's not a miracle, it's science."
"Too stupid to understand science? Try religion!"
 "Did god appear? how about jesus or moses or mohammad? no? then it's no miracle."
"Let the god b.s. begin." 

First of all, I understand everyone has their right to free speech. It's abused to the nth degree nowadays, but it's there. I get it. What I don't get is where people get off telling other people they're WRONG in what they believe. 

See, it's OK if you don't believe in God. I have friends who don't believe in God. I love them very much, and I hope they love me back. I have a child who proclaims himself to be agnostic. This doesn't thrill me, but I accept it and I don't tell him he's WRONG. Nor do I tell my friends they're WRONG. It's what they BELIEVE, for God's sake, I need to respect that as much as they respect my beliefs. 

So since this is my blog and I have the floor, here's what I believe. 

I believe in God. 
I believe God had a hand in saving that Missouri teen. 
I believe God performs miracles every single day. 
I believe there are no such things as "coincidences." I call them "Godwinks."
I believe He gives us all free will, and that gets us into trouble sometimes. 
I believe God hears our prayers. I believe He answers some of them. 
I believe He has a Plan for everyone. 
I believe there is a Heaven and a Hell. 
I believe my mother is in Heaven and she is watching over me. I believe whenever I see something that reminds me of her, that is her, in Heaven, saying hello. 
I believe whomever gets away with murder or other horrific acts on this Earth will burn in Hell.

I believe that the reason that bad things happen to good people is not because God has some twisted sense of humor. I believe God allows a natural order to some things, however horrible, however unfair. Can I explain why children die from diseases? Can I explain why hostages are beheaded and burned? Can I explain why innocent people suffer and starve and hurt and die? 

I can't. But that isn't where you're going to "catch" someone who believes. And here's why. I believe that God is so incredibly transcendent that there is no way on this Earth and in our human brains that we will comprehend His Plan, or His order of things, or why He does what He does or doesn't do what He doesn't do. 

OK, this is from Evan Almighty, but I still love it.
I have FAITH. I have Faith in Him that He is all knowing. I TRUST He has a Plan for me. I TRUST He is watching over my children. That TRUST allows me to sleep at night. I PRAY to Him to give me more strength, more trust and more hope. He is HOPE. If I didn't have hope, I would have nothing. 

Hope allows me to get up in the morning. Hope keeps me going during the day. Hope sometimes literally keeps me ALIVE. 

God is my hope when I'm tired of hoping. God is my hope when I'm waiting for something that's just not happening fast enough, or at all. I trust God when my hope is failing. I ask him for strength to continue to trust and hope. So far, He has never denied me any of it. 

Here's my point. For those of you who don't believe in Him, I will never, ever tell you you're wrong. You believe what you believe. I respect that. I'm not you, I don't live your life, I haven't experienced what you've experienced nor was I raised in your belief system. It is not MY call to tell you what to believe. In turn, it is not YOUR job to tell me my beliefs are wrong, especially if I can't "scientifically explain" them. DON'T YOU SEE? I'm OK with that. And it's not because I don't understand science so I chalk it up to religion. It's because I have FAITH. 

People. Be kind to one another. Respect one another. You have not walked a mile in each others' shoes. Don't demean yourself by trying to put someone else in their place for what they believe versus what you believe. 

I'm going to leave you with this quote. It's from Pope Francis, who is probably the first religious leader that has appealed to more people of all beliefs than any other. In fact, I dare say he gives religion a good name. And it is this: 

"Since many of you do not belong to the Catholic Church and others are non-believers, from the bottom of my heart I give this silent blessing to each and every one of you, respecting the conscience of each one of you but knowing that each one of you is a child of God.  -Pope Francis
OK, he throws in that last part, but he doesn't shove it down your throat, right? I mean, COME ON. If the freakin' POPE can have that kind of respect, WHY CAN'T WE?