Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Lunch Predictability Please!

About 3 times a week I enjoy a lovely chef salad for lunch from the deli across the street.  ½-sized in one of those shiny, plastic clamshells with ranch dressing on the side.  And most of the time it’s stable.  Dependable.  It’s iceberg lettuce, some purple cabbage, a little shredded carrots.  Toss on that some cubed meat, usually ham and turkey, and shredded cheese.  Lovely.  Simple.  A chunk of French bread on the side and a sweet, little red-and-white mint at the bottom of the bag.  When I go to that deli every few days it’s exactly that which I’m looking for.

Is that really so impossible an expectation? 

Because starting at the beginning of this year suddenly it’s salad chaos all the time.  One day the lettuce is leafy green instead of iceberg.  The next week it’s cubed cheese instead of shredded and then, just when I think the world has come to it’s senses and I can count on my chef salad experience BAM! 



What has the salad world come to???

And if onions weren’t bad enough then poof!  Tomatoes.  Nasty, gooey tomato goo that gets all over everything.  (everything that doesn’t already smell like onion, that is!)  So now I’m digging onions and tomatoes and this massive spiral of cucumber out of my pristine, simple little salad.  But I deal.  I make my peace with this need to clean out the clutter of my lunch, and that’s fine.  I can do that. 

But today was the last straw.

I go to the deli, practically a regular at this point.  I make my order and it all goes crazy.  This girl – we’ll call her “New Girl” because I’ve sure never seen her back behind that photo-covered counter before – New Girl hands me salad in one hand and dressing cup in the other. 

No bag.  No napkin or fork. 

Did she ask if I wanted bread or crackers?  No, she did not.

Did she give me my sweet little starlight mint?  No.  No mint of any star or light.

And when I get back to the office and take a closer look I realize that the salad and the dressing are both half full.  HALF.  Yes, there I stood with ½ a ½-sized salad, ½ a cup of dressing, onions and tomatoes and stupid, stupid cucumbers all over the tiny amount of leafy green lettuce AND NO STARLIGHT MINT!

Did I go back and freak out?  No.  I’m not that chick.  I’m not crazy, flip-out-in-the-middle-of-the-deli girl who lets onion but no mints make her the whackadoo story of some poor girl’s day.  But the next time I go in?  There will be stern looks.  Stern, bordering on glaring, looks.  Oh yes there will be.  You mark my words.

See those words?  Seriously, you mark them.

Friday, January 27, 2012

How Does One Stay The "New Toy" Forever?

I can’t remember (and am WAY too lazy to do the research to check) if I’ve ever mentioned this before, but one of the things I most adore about my Dad is the way that he always makes it feel like my arrival is a wonderful occasion.  No matter how recently we talked or saw each other or how mundane the occasion my Dad is always and sincerely thrilled to see or hear from me.  Like I’m saying he and I could talk on the phone for an hour and then sign off, and then I could realize I forgot to ask him what size shoe he wears or how many ounces in a gallon and call him right back to cover that super-important detail and even though we were just talking only minutes before when my Dad hears my voice he still honestly sounds thrilled to hear that its me.  This is about the best quality a person could have and my Dad has it in gallons.  (or a BUNCH of ounces, because apparently there are 128 of those in a gallon!)

When T.E. and I first met this was a quality that I recognized in him:  that he was so eager for my time and attention.  That he seemed like he, too, couldn’t get enough of me; wanted to hear all about me and my days and my stuff.  He would even be bold-faced in his interest to the point he’d ask incredibly personal questions or to read my emails or listen in on phone calls.  He knew that it was pretty danged nosey but he was unapologetic about it because it all came from wanting to know everything about me.  He was that enthusiastic and I will admit that I loved it.  I joked that it was just “new toy syndrome” – that thing that so many people do when they find a new person and are fascinated by the coolness and the differentness and the just plain newness of the new person.  But I was the Buzz Lightyear of his world right then and I would take every bit of it.

Now look, I know that everybody talks about how relationships can’t keep up the level of intensity with which they start – this has been repeated over and over, and I’m sure that just about everybody out there believes this to be the sad fact:  eventually things have to become boring and average and plain and you just can’t keep feeling so over-the-moon about a person.  You just can’t.  Honestly I’ve had some people explain it to me with such fervor and certainty that it almost seemed like they wanted it to be true; wanted to know that nobody could possibly maintain that level of intensity.  It’s just not possible.

Is it?

This spring I read this book written by the last woman to love the great comedian George Carlin.  Here’s this book about one of the crustiest, surliest, most curmudgionesque icons of this or the last century and it’s all about how he never, ever stopped courting this woman that he loved.  He, contrary to popular and very depressing belief, felt like it was totally up to him when he should stop doing the things that make us fall in love with each other in the beginning – notes, gifts, gestures, lovely words and amazing acts – and he decided that the time to stop doing that stuff was never.  And when the man is right, he’s just plain right.  So this became my rule too -- never stop courting.

The enthusiasm that T.E. had for me in the beginning was intoxicating and made me feel fascinating and amazing and just possibly worth all this attention.  I ate it up with a spoon shovel industrial grade forklift.  I also made very sure to lavish him with the same level of fascination, which was easy because I felt it just as strongly.  And to this day I still do.  Every morning, no matter what time I have to drag my sad, old bones out of my super-snuggly bed, the thing I’m most eager to do as soon as possible is get online and see if T.E. is around to talk to.  There’s this tiny little whisper noise that our main chat application uses to indicate someone has logged on and when I hear that noise my heart skips a beat every.  Single.  Time.  I adore every minute with him, and I’m really excited and proud that my level of adoration has maintained even after years and distance and age difference and even a little heartache.

When T.E. and I first connected there was another big difference in his world as compared to now:  his social life was pretty quiet.  He was just finishing up his equivalent of high school and, as is often the case the end of the summer after graduating from high school, most of his chums were heading off to new adventures.  As a result he had a lot of time available to chat with me, his newest toy.  But as the years have gone on and he’s started his University experience and built an amazing new social group of bright, funny, cool people his “new toy” attentions have waned.  Given our time differences I’m often that thing he can do for a while at the end of his day before he goes to sleep.  The more social fun he has with his chums the later the end of his day is, and the less time before sleep needs to happen. 

Recently I’ve realized that gradually I’ve become his “if there’s nothing else to do” option.  If he doesn’t have fun social things to do with his group there’s always me to chat with, waiting eagerly on the other end of the skype line because I’m still that excited to make our connection whenever I can get it.  For a while it seemed romantic, but now I have to admit I’m starting to feel like the classic old toy:  that old, beat-up, dog-eared teddy bear that you’ve had since forever but you really only cuddle up to when the world has treated you roughly and you need the kind of hug that only your old toy can give you.  I love being here for him, but sometimes this dusty, lonely old shelf can seem a little sad.

If I were a better, person – closer to the person I thought I was before I actually fell in love with someone – I’d decide to walk away from this and show my independence and my ‘stand on my own two feet’-etedness and all.  But one of the rules that T.E. and I have been very clear about is 100% honesty between us, and if I’m being 100% honest all of this doesn’t change the fact that I think about him constantly and clamor for the chance to connect.  So for now you’ll find me where he does:  between the Rock ‘Em, Sock ‘Em Robots and that damned Jack in the Box.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Like a cat in a rocking chair factory. But where there's hardly anybody in the chairs...

So how do you do a relationship that has already been deemed “temporary”? 

T.E. and I are still together, still going strong – stronger than ever maybe.  Last Sunday we hung out together on Skype for 10 hours straight, with him finally going to sleep at 8am his time.  We’ve had deep, meaningful conversations (or DMCs as he calls them) several times in the last few months that have continued to grow our bond and deepen our connection.  In all the ways you’d normally diagnose a relationship ours would seem solid and secure, with nothing but a bright future ahead of us.

So why do I get so nervous?

There are a lot of things I guess you could point to which cause my nerves.  Some of them are all mine – when you spend the amount of time single that I have (of my 26 years of date-able time I’ve been in relationships a total of about 6 years with only a handful of men.  A small handful.  Little kid hands, or possibly midgets.  Or maybe squirrels – their hands are small too, right?) it tends to impact your opinion of whether or not you can attract and keep a partner.  Just does.

Some of the things are our logistical challenges – for those of you who are new and haven’t yet combed through the archives to find out just what the heck this crazy chick is talking about anyway I’ll round those challenges up for you:  20-year age difference, 5000 miles between us, 8-hour time difference, he doesn’t like bacon…  All big things.  Especially the bacon thing.  (Seriously, who doesn’t like bacon?)  But don’t let me focus on that.  (Bacon!  So tasty!)

But I have to admit that the biggest challenge for me tends to be the knowledge that James, ever the pragmatist these days, has really thought through the potential future for our relationship, with all those challenges, and determined that at some point we’ll end.  He’s not setting an end point, and has said he wants to stay with me as long as we can, but he’s not fooling himself that we can make it long-term.  Some day, he says, we’ll be done.  We’ll go from being lovers and partners to being friends.  We both know with complete certainty that we’ll always be friends and connected but he can see that there must be an end.

Ironically I was the one that started out with this idea.  In the beginning of our relationship I felt it was very important that I be realistic about this.  “All these challenges really say that having this relationship is flat out impossible and don’t you forget it!” said my rational mind.  “This is a fling.  Just a fling.  Don’t get too attached, and for the love of GOD do not fall in love.”  What changed my mind?  He did.

In the first year or so of our connection he kept telling me wonderfully romantic, idealistic things like “well I guess I’ll just have to keep you forever then.” Or “it’s a good thing that we found each other because we’re clearly perfectly matched.”  I tried to hold those ideas off as cute but crazy.  The cute was just so cute, that it trompled all over the crazy and left me nothing but cute to focus on.  Eventually I was convinced that we could make it. 

And make it we have!  We celebrated 2.5 years this December!  We’ve already beaten all the insane odds!

But part of what fed the break-up last spring was T.E. reaching his own conclusion about our odds, and it was that we had to eventually end.  We just can’t really last forever, and he has reminded me of this periodically since then.  I know he’s being smart and he’s most likely right.  I should try to get back there too.  I should get realistic and get ready for whenever that end comes.

But then I keep coming to that question:  if I know we can’t last then how do I trust in this relationship now?  All of those damned love songs playing on all those radio stations talking about how person A will love person B forever, until the end of time, til the world explodes, etc. – I shouldn’t be able to relate to those because I have been assured that’s not going to happen.  So even though I’m in this for the long haul, and have told T.E. that , I’m on my own there and it leaves me feeling a little out here on my own.  And from that?  Comes some nervous.  

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Until I can sling webs...

Guess who has rock climbed?  That would be me!

I know, you’re thinking “but hey, don’t you really hate heights?  And isn’t the general goal of rock climbing to climb these rocks up a wall?  Generally into the air?  Higher and Higher?  Until, eventually, you are very high up?  At a point many might describe as a height?  And shouldn’t you hate that?”  And these are smart thoughts you’re having right now.  Good you.

But as it turns out no!  There’s a whole long story about medicated head and floaty dreams and bright sounds and loud colors (and I know that it’s long because I originally started this blog post with this story before I realized that it was so long and REALLY not the point) which ends with me dreaming about rock climbing and, in the dream, loving it.  And you know how some dreams just haunt you for a while?  The rock climbing dream – it haunted.  It kept whispering to me “go.  Climb the rocks.  Touch the ceiling.  Find out if these crazy dreams you’re having are truly crazy, or if you were meant to be a climber of rocks.”

Stupid talking dream.

But I couldn’t shake it!  The talking dream wouldn’t shut the hell up!  So I forced poor, supportive, ever-eager Queen to go with me and we went to the local rock climbing gym’s ‘ladies night.’ 

‘Ladies night’ at the rock climbing gym is just like all the other nights at the rock climbing gym EXCEPT the rates are a little lower and the place is chock-a-block full of chicks.  But strong, nimble, super-confident chicks who are climbing the walls but in a good way!  We got there and put on the special equipment, which consists of special shoes and a harness.  The point of the shoes are to cover your feet so tightly with shoeness as to practically be bare of feet.  Your toes are wedged right up into the tippy-toe part and the shoes lace around your foot like a strong shoe hug. 

The harness, on the other hand, is not sexy.  And not hot.  And not lovely.  The harness is all about “how to be ok with hanging twenty feet in the air by one lone rope, held there by some person down on the ground who is also just holding on to that one lone rope.”  The way to be ok is to have your ass-parts wrapped up with this totally safe harness.  It cuddles the buttcheeks and snuggles the thighs and shows serious lovin’ to the waist.  And not the place that all the jeans keep telling us are our waist, but our ACTUAL waist.  The equator between tummy and chest.  The harness is strictly your proof of safety for that moment you have to hang back and let somebody lower your big, old bones to the ground.

So we spent the night with the climbing chicks and we climbed.  We scrambled our bodies up the walls over and over, going higher and higher.  I touched ceiling several times, and this is a ceiling that is at least 2 stories tall.  I figured out some tricks and had some others given to me by the tremendously experienced ladies who literally showed us the ropes.  (oh, and can I just marvel at these women, who were somewhere in their older years, probably their 50’s, with handsome grey-streaked hair and creased faces, but rock-hard abs and arms made from cabled steel???  Holy CRAP do I want to be them when I grow up!!!)

At the end of the night my arms and legs were all jiggly-muscles, but I definitely loved it.  I’ll be going back.  Not right away, because the last two days after the climbing my shoulders and hips reminded me every second of the day that I am old and crumbling like an elegant but ancient coliseum, as well as OW, OW, EVERYTHING HURTS ALL THE TIME OW!  But I’m definitely going back.  After all, this is one of the last pieces of the “becoming a super hero” puzzle, right?  This, leaping tall buildings in a single bound and the invisible jet.  I’m so close…  

Saturday, January 07, 2012

Making the Necessary Adjustments

T.E. is back in his native land.  He’s talking the talk and walking the walk and eating the foods (although given where his native land IS you gotta wonder why he’s doing that last one.)  Although actually right now he’s most likely sleeping the local sleep, after 24 hours worth of travel.  Yes, you heard right – since coming back to Hippyville it now takes, door to door, an entire DAY for him to get home (if you define “takes a day” as “he leaves our home here in Hippyville at 11am and arrives home in England at 11am the next morning.  Which you shouldn’t, because it’s actually more like 16 hours.  But at the same time when you’re the person doing the travelling it probably still FEELS like it took a day.  So yeah, go ahead and define it that way if you want.  I’m sure he does…)  This is because instead of having an airport a short drive away (as we did when we were in the big, fancy city) we’ve got one a very, very long drive away.  Heck, we leave the house four hours before his first plane leave the ground.  Lame.  L-A-M-E.

Meanwhile though I don’t have the epic, awful, forever-and-ever-and-ever travel day that he does I have to come home to a house that I’ve been sharing with him for weeks or months and get used to it all sad and empty.  One thing that is part of his experience, and which I kind of envy, is that he has two lives.  He’s got the life of a young man essentially single and living in England, with his friends and his family and school and martial arts and all the other things in his life there.  And he’s got the life of the young man involved with the older woman living with her in America and with the US friends and family that he got through her. 

For me I have this life that sometimes has him in it, and sometimes doesn’t.  So I keep having to make this adjustment between them each time he arrives, and each time he leaves.  The adjustment is worth it, but still hard.  So here I sit, way too aware of how much room there is on this couch and how little conversation I’ve engaged in today.  By next weekend I’ll be used to this.  But the first few nights are the hardest.

Thursday, January 05, 2012

Start the Ball Rolling and Hope 2012 Slopes Downhill...

My goals for 2012 are numerous and varied, but many of them are extremely do-able.  For January I’m going to focus on those things that are actually a year-long goal.  They are:

1.  Donate blood once per month
2.  Get a massage every other month
3.  Do a jigsaw puzzle each quarter
4.  Service my beloved car every 4 months or so

…do you see the trend here?  The message is simple:  take care of the stuff that’s important to me.   I donate blood because I’ve had people that I love almost die, and be saved simply by having access to health care they needed.  I’m not gonna become a doctor (you’re welcome future not-patients) but I can do my part.  (Now I can certainly go every month and try to donate blood.  I can’t promise to fill an entire pint bag ever, as I’m super-powerful at clotting the bloods, but I’ll at least try.

I’ll take care of my body both by finding a balance on the exercise (although I did get on the scale and it looks like I’ll have to lose about 3 lbs to get back to my pre-holiday numbers) while still being sure to keep myself in shape.  But I’m also going to take care of my poor, creeky old bones via the laying on of hands – specifically the hands of others – in a massage-like fashion.  Because yay for massages!

As I get older I worry less and less about dying early due to my health – the health is good, and also there’s a limit to how much control you’ve really got over such things.  But as I’ve had older members of my family come to the end of their run I’ve been dismayed to see their minds fail them before their bodies did.  I intend to do what I can to get my head-gear-parts keep up with the body-gear-parts.  And so?  Jigsaw puzzles.  Fun but also brain-worky.  (see how smartish my brains is?  Important to keep those as such.)

And finally taking care of my really good car.  I have a really, really good car.  For the first time in my life, and also for the first time I’m in a financial position to be able to actually take care of this car.  Add to that the fact that I’m back home, where I have a mechanic I both like and can also trust?  Oh yes, this one is a no-brainer.  (Hmmm.  Possibly it’s too late for the jigsaw puzzle one…)

So these will start this month, and they’ll keep going for the rest of the year.  Hopefully.  Fingers crossed.  All things considered.  Wish me luck.  I’m feeling really good about this!

Sunday, January 01, 2012

2012 - let's do this, people!

Happy 2012 my Peoples!

Here I sit, afraid to even go look at this blog’s older entries to see how bad I’ve been.  I’m not going to make excuses (they all look and sound the same anyway and there’s the whole thing about what excuses are like which is an in-and-out space south of my equator and how things that come from there are just about as valuable as excuses and all of this is just to say yadda, yadda, yadda, life got busy and I suck as usual.  If you’re still reading this blog AT ALL you’re well used to that by now.) and instead going to start the new year on what I sure hope will be a better foot. 

Sittin’ here in my bathrobe at 2pm, with The Empire Strikes Back on the tv (not because I said “know what?  I feel like enjoying cheesy-but-classic movie gold…” but because the other things already on the tv when I shuffled out to the couch at 11:30am were Law and Order marathons of several flavors, Storage Wars and a truly miserable movie about a girl pretending to be a boy in school so she could play soccer.  So Star Wars marathon was an easy choice.  Also “laugh it up, fuzz ball…”  So I’ve got that going for me.) and my ½-dressed sweetie sitting beside me, also clickety-clacking on his many keyboards.  We’ve had a lovely couple of holidays and today we both decided that the rule would be “do only what you want to do, full stop.”

Tangent:  “full stop” is one of the many cool English phrases that have infected my vocabulary (or that I’ve shamelessly stolen, depending on who you talk to).  It sounds so much classier than “totally” or “period” and makes me sound worldly, as though I’ve traveled all over the place picking up phrases that are not from around these parts.  So far, though, I’ve resisted calling my mother “mum” or throwing in the additional and completely unrepresented-by-spelling syllables in the word “aluminum.”  I’ll be strong as long as I can on those.

I’ll admit that even though I support and understand the general hatred for new years resolutions I can’t help but head into each new year wanting to make some goals for myself.  Most of the time I actually come up with the goals during the fall, but I see that there are holidays and other end-of-the-year complexities coming and that trying to make changes to my life amidst all that chaos, let alone while I’ve got my guy here, is a recipe for both failure and crap-chowder, so I push them off to start after all those chowder-mixings are through.  Last night we drank many bottles of truly dangerously lip-smacky cider (I wish I could quit you, J.K. Scrumpy, but I’m probably going to become an alcoholic instead to give me many more opportunities to climb into bed cradling one of your adorable, brown soldiers of boozy goodness…) and played games where we counted dice or created innovative new products like “Motivational Cereal” and “Evil Clown Security” or debated the inherent value of art vs. medicine vs. sight and we ate chocolate fondue and raspberry tarts and my own body weight worth of ham (that last one was mostly me) and wished a Happy New Year to everybody around us.  That must mean it’s time to start planning for a better future.

I’m doing all those things that they always say not to do when coming up with New Years Resolutions:  I’m picking way too many of them and they’re all rather significant changes and most of them are gonna be challenging to do.  My only hope for this not being just a recipe of failure is to try to put some kind of reasonable scale around them, so I’m going to try to tackle one to two per month.  My goal (seriously, I cannot stress enough that this is just a goal and I’m making no promises here because you people have been let down more than enough by me on this blog!) is to come back each month and tell you how the previous goal went as well as what we’re hoping for next.  (very important note:  I am not setting this as one of my New Years Resolutions.  I’m ambitious, but not stupid.  Well, not VERY stupid.)

So January?  January is about getting back what I sacrificed for my holidays, and about setting up the rest of the year for a bit more sanity. 

In 2011 I really wanted to FINALLY get myself in better shape.  Reach my goal weight of 150 lbs and get my body to a place where I could be naked in front of my hot, super-hot and also very hot boyfriend w/out wanting to do any of the tricks from the sitcoms that they use to hide a pregnant actress.  In order to do this I counted calories slavishly, eventually becoming one of those obnoxious women who always tell you how many calories there are in your snack cake or bag of chips.  I also escalated my daily exercise to the point where if I didn’t do at LEAST 90 min. of cardio a day I worried about any meal larger than three celery sticks and a mid-sized glass of lite water.  (like regular water, but ½ the fat.)  The good news?  By June I’d reached my goal!  The bad news:  I couldn’t write a blog post because the only things I was doing in my life to write about were “working” and/or “working out.”  Blah, blah, blah, “can you believe there’s only 50 calories in this Asian pear???” blah, blah, blah, “can you believe how muscley my arm is?”, blah, blah, blah, B-O-O-O-R-R-I-N-G…

T.E. came for the summer and, big surprise, I gained some weight.  He left and I lost it again, and I lost as much more as I could before he arrived, ending my work for the year at about 147.  I promised myself I wouldn’t count a single calorie or agonize about working out at all during the holidays, nor would I set one teeny, tiny toe on my scales.  (that’s right, I have two of them.  Shut up.)  But he flies away on Friday (sad.) and I’m 100% sure I’ve gained these 3+ weeks. 

So for January I’m climbing back on that wagon to lose the weight back to my goal of 150 lbs again.  The calories – I will count them, counting on my Oogies cheesey popcorn and my sugar-free fudgickles.  The bike rides – I will make them at crazy-early hours of the morning before work in rain and cold and bleah.  The weights – I will lift them.  Above my head and behind my back and explosively and with those grunty sounds one makes when you just.  Can’t.  Lift.  One.  More…  I will go back to my obsessive, weight-losey, abs-flexy, box-kicky ways until I’m back where I want to be.  But I’m also hoping that January will be the END of this part of my life for a while, and starting in February I’m planning to find a much more reasonable, balanced way to live my life where I don’t have to lose weight, but I keep it off and maintain what I’ve achieved.  I love being in the best physical shape of my life, as well as liking how I look and feel.  It’s worth protecting, but there must be some way I can do this that still lets me… well, do ANYTHING ELSE AT ALL WITH MY LIFE. 


Wow, have I actually been writing this much?  Feast and famine, people.  Well I’ve got another 1-2 goals for January, but I’m going to call this one enough for now and hope to hell that having two other things to write about will encourage me to be back here sometime before February.  Fingers crossed and Happy New Year!