Sunday, December 26, 2010

Here we go again...

Apparently when I say I am never going to do something, I don't really mean it.  For example, up until three weeks ago, I swore I would never buy or eat Gardenburgers.  There's a package of them in my freezer, minus one.  The Gardenburger tacos did not turn out as well as I had hoped but Gardenburgers actually aren't that bad-especially with horse radish or pepperjack cheese.  I also swore I would never do acupuncture but tomorrow I am calling an acupuncturist as that might be my only hope of getting rid of this sinus infection as antibiotics don't seem to be an option now that I'm for sure allergic to one class and most likely allergic to a second class as well.  I also swore I was never going to try online dating again.  Yeah, about that...

Last Sunday I went to an event called "Suck My Flick."  This is a monthly competition in which local filmmakers submit short films and the audience votes via text message for their favorite.  The winner is announced at the end of the night.  I was intrigued so I went with one of my Meetup groups.  This is a group I had wanted to join for quite some time but didn't because NLNG seemed to do a lot with it and at the time, I didn't want the temptation to sign up for events knowing he'd be at them.  I finally joined the group a month or so ago after realizing I didn't care if I ever saw him again (though I knew I would eventually) and that temptation was no longer an issue.  So here I was enjoying "Suck My Flick" when I glance across the room and see him-looking awfully cozy with some girl.  I tried to tell myself the light was low and maybe it was just someone who looked like him in the low light.  And then he laughed and I knew for sure it was him.  And I wanted nothing more than to just throw up.  At one point, he walked right by me; if he saw me, he didn't acknowledge it.  I don't want him, and I knew I was going to run into him again some day, but I would have preferred if I had prior knowledge about it.  And if I was the one with a date.  (Yes, I realize that's shallow).

My Guy Pal and our other friend have also been dating new people and this is a rough time of year for me as it is as this is when I met James back in 1999.  I found myself wondering if I should have tried harder with NLNG (NO!!) and wondering if I am destined for a life of loneliness after all (again).  The holidays have certainly heightened that sense of being surrounded by nothing but couples.

Thursday, I only had a half day of work.  I spent part of the afternoon working on a data entry project for my favorite non-profit.  It takes forever for each record to save.  I was bored.  And lonely. And feeling dejected.  And there was no one on Facebook.  And before I knew it, I had started a profile on one of the free sites.  I've had 64 visitors to my profile so far; only one has sent me a message which simply said "nice profile."  This time I am going into this with the expectation that nothing will come of it, but I suspect it won't take too long before I get discouraged and call it quits.  Again.

I really hate being single again.  And I'm starting to worry about all those other things I swore I would never do...

Hold the Beef. And the Chicken.

December 4th was the last time I had meat.  I wasn't planning to become a vegetarian starting on the 5th; it just sort of happened.  And I have to say that 3 weeks later, I don't really miss meat all that much-but I do miss the convenience of it. 

On the surface, it would appear this is all because of a boy.  It wouldn't be the first time I did something because of a boy and it probably won't be the last.  If it wasn't for the boy next door (well, two doors down but close enough), I wouldn't be a baseball fan.  If it wasn't for James, well, there's a lot of things I could say here. 

My new friend, who I am now just going to refer to as Guy Pal, is a vegetarian by culture and I think religion.  He decided to try being a vegan for a week to impress a girl.  So I said that it would be easier for me to be vegetarian than it would for him to be a vegan.  And naturally I had to prove it.  So here it is three weeks later and he's off the vegan train (Yea! Because that was going to make going out to eat with him a royal pain) and I'm still going strong on the veggie wagon. 

That's the cute, short version.  The truth is I have said I could probably easily be a vegetarian on and off for most of my adult life.  I'm not a big meat eater as it is so I knew this is was a challenge I could easily do for a week.  I also knew I had plenty of will power.  I decided one day I drank too much pop and need to stop.  On January 4th, that day will have been 13 years ago.  So seven days is nothing. 

I have also known for quite some time that I needed to change my eating habits as I was eating a lot of fast food and processed crap and really never felt good.  It's hard to keep the mental spirits up when the body feels so run down all the time.  But I just couldn't bring myself to care.  I don't have James anymore so why bother?  Even the realization that life is good again wasn't enough to motivate me to even try to eat healthier.  But I can't turn down a good challenge (translation: I have to prove I'm right all the time) so I jumped at this one.  It was a boy that gave me the motivation but I'm not doing it for him-I'm doing it for me.  (Don't tell him that.  Part of the reason we get along so well is we both think the world revolves around us-or at least it should).

After the first week, I decided to keep going.  It takes more than a week for your system to adjust and that was a rough week for me as it was.  Prior to deciding to do this, I had gone to the doctor for a sinus infection and the antibiotic they gave me made me incredibly sick-to the point I had to stop taking it after three doses because even taking it as prescribed (after a meal and with milk), I could not keep anything down.  I sat at my desk at work crying one afternoon because I took a bite of some macaroni and cheese and almost threw it right back up.  At that point, I was starving and just wanted something to eat.  So for the first several days of that first week, my stomach wasn't really accepting food.  Now that it's been three weeks, I am noticing a difference in how I feel.  I definitely have more energy-even with being sick this entire time.  I have also noticed with all the Christmas goodies I have been eating the last couple of days I am feeling more sluggish again and had a nice Greek-ish salad (had to use black and green olives instead of Kalamata) for dinner tonight because I just wanted something healthy.  (I could go for a nice, juicy apple right about now).
I certainly am nowhere near calling myself a vegetarian and don't know that I will stick with it for the rest of my life.  But I am definitely going to give it a bit longer.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Dear Santa

Dear Santa,

You know what would be really awesome?  It you could deliver that hot guy I was making out with before my alarm clock so rudely interrupted us to my doorstep.  Gift wrapping optional.  It would also be great if he could tell me what in the world we were doing at summer camp as adults.

I feel I've been pretty good this year, but I have to say I would not object to being a little naughty.


Note to Self:  The Universe LOVES to mess with your head.  Next time you want a hot make out session for Christmas, specify you mean in your conscious life, not the sub-conscious one.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

There's a flashback I could have lived without

Friday night I got to do one of the many cool things Portland has to offer:  the Shanghai Tunnel tour.  Back in the late 1800's, men were shanghaied and sold to sailors.  This was done by getting them drunk and basically imprisoning them in a network of underground tunnels until they were needed by the ship captains.  Over the years, some of the network of tunnels has been restored and is now a popular tourist attraction.  And it's awesome.

After the tour, several of us in the group went to play video games.  The real arcade style ones many of us remembered from our childhood.  It's a bit hard to keep six people together in an arcade and we tended to break off into groups of two or three.  At one point, I was going to play one of the shoot 'em up games with one of the guys in the group.  We had to work our way through a group of people who were there together and not very yielding to passersby.  As a result, I got stuck standing next to some guy.  Who barked at me.  Repeatedly, and not in a nice way.  In a way that was followed by a sneer to let me know just how unattractive he found me.

In that moment, I wasn't a 36-year-old woman standing in an arcade next to a jerk.  I was an 18-year-old girl walking down the sidewalk on a hot summer day in Sandpoint, having just discovered I had locked my keys in the car and I had to go find a phone to call my evil (now ex-) stepmother to come and rescue me.  I was mad, and dreading making the phone call that was only going to get me in trouble for being irresponsible and a HUGE inconvenience.  As I was fighting back the tears, a car went by, filled with teenage boys.  Who pointed and barked at me and laughed as they passed me by.

It hurts just as much now as it did then.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010


At the beginning of the month, people started posting what they were thankful for on Facebook.  The goal was to post something everyday for the entire month of November.  I decided instead of posting them to Facebook, I would just write them down and post them here instead.  As I went through a very rough stretch this month, I found some days to be a lot harder to count my blessings than others, and as the month went on, I did notice a theme forming.  As the month comes to an end, I'm so glad to be able to say I really am blessed.

11/01:  I am thankful to have a job in this economy, working for a company I love.
11/02:  I am thankful the dogs did not knock over anyone's garbage cans on our walk today!
11/03:  I am thankful Mother Nature is giving us unexpected, unseasonably warm weather.
11/04:  I am thankful my life is relatively drama free.
11/05:  I am thankful for laughter.  It truly is the best medicine.
11/06:  I am thankful for being blessed to have had 8 years, 1 month and 6 days with James.
11/07:  I am thankful for all the cool people who have come into my life since James died.
11/08:  I am thankful for all the people who consider me a friend and want me in their lives.
11/09:  I am thankful to have a roof over my head.
11/10:  I am thankful to have been invited to share a milestone birthday with a new friend.
11/11:  I am thankful I organize a successful volunteer project through my Meetup group. 
11/12:  I am thankful to work for a company in which random conversations are the norm.
11/13:  I am thankful for my dogs.
11/14:  I am thankful I have not lost my sense of humor.
11/15:  I am thankful for my "little" brother, who would probably rather not discuss my love life (well, lack of anyway) ad naseum.
11/16:  I am thankful for inheriting such a great cousin from James.
11/17:  I am thankful for technology that allows me to express myself.
11/18:  I am thankful for my Facebook friends who seem to post inspirational quotes at times I seem to need them the most. 
11/19:  I am thankful for the opportunity to do fun things that only come from living in a big city.
11/20:  I am thankful for the ability to turn the oddest thing into a good time-like shopping for ugly Christmas sweaters at Goodwill with a good friend.
11/21:  I am thankful for supportive friends who know when I am not okay even if I try to say I am and don't let me get away with it.
11/22:  I am thankful that when it snows here it typically doesn't amount to much-and goes away quickly. 
11/23:  I am thankful for a boss who trusts me to work from home when I don't feel it is safe for me to drive to the office.
11/24:  I am thankful for Christmas bonuses!
11/25:  I am thankful for three very special friends who wanted to make sure I didn't spend Thanksgiving alone.
11/26:  I am thankful I am relatively healthy.
11/27:  I am thankful for seat warmers in the car.
11/28:  I am thankful for the perseverance to figure out how to do/fix things on my own.
11/29:  I am thankful for music and the many things it represents in my life.
11/30:  I am thankful to the readers of my blog.  It has been such a healing outlet for me and I still can't believe anyone actually reads what I have to say.  I cannot thank you enough for helping me heal!! 

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Fear of Blinking

When I posted about entering another phase of the grieving process and how hard it was for me to cancel my World of Warcraft account, I knew there was more to it that I had not yet processed or even figured out.  I knew that I was feeling a lot of sadness over realizing my life is moving forward and feeling like the last living piece of James is now gone.  I knew I was feeling anger at him for not only leaving me but leaving me in a position in which I feel no one else is ever going to want me.  But I still felt very unsettled and I couldn't grasp as to why that was.  I just knew I felt very alone and abandoned.

It dawned on me Wednesday at work (Of course.  Because I don't burst into tears there enough as it is) what was still gnawing at me:  I am afraid.  In the (almost) 34 months since James has been gone, I have carved out a new life for myself.  It's not yet what I want it to be-it's very much a work in progress as I am still trying to figure out who I am now and what I want from life other than the broad spectrum of being happy again.  But the life I have built is very full.  It's full of volunteering for an organization I love.  It's full of new social endeavors and experiences that I may not have ever done if James hadn't died.  Somehow, the shy little girl I have always been has turned into a social butterfly-though I still have many moments when I don't want to walk into that room full of strangers.  More and more lately I seem to be feeling this way, actually.  It is full of love from my family.  It is full of friends-old and new, who are there for good times and to pick up the pieces when I need it (ironically, I am listening to "That's What Friends Are For" right now).  I've got two beautiful dogs who love me to pieces.  It's lonely, I'm not going to lie about that, but it is full.  It's a place I never thought I would have gotten to almost three years ago.  While I can't say I'm overly happy, I can honestly say life is good.

And it scares the crap out of me.  Three years ago, life was good.  Better than good-life was great.  I was planning my dream wedding to the man I loved more than life itself.  The man who spent 7 years telling me he was never going to get married.  We were in a good place financially, socially and together.  I had it all.

And then I blinked.  And in the amount of time it took for me to blink, it was gone.  My entire world was gone.  But I put one exhausted foot in front of the other and I persevered (if nothing else, I am certainly stubborn!) and I rebuilt my life.  I got back to a good place.  And I'm afraid I'm going to blink again and find this has all been an illusion.  That it isn't real-or that it will be shattered again.  I don't yet know how to have faith in this new life.  I no longer know how to trust what lies ahead. 

Thursday was Thanksgiving.  I was supposed to go to our best friends' for dinner.  Dinner was at 5:00; I called at 2:45 to say I wasn't coming.  The week before had been so emotionally stressful for me that I made myself sick.  From Wednesday night to Friday morning, I slept for 26 out of 36 hours.  My friend felt bad that I was going to be alone on Thanksgiving.  I told her it was entirely different to be alone because I had nowhere to go than it was to be alone because I was sick.  I told her I had been invited to go on a hike that morning and another good friend called to make sure I had plans for dinner.  I told her I wasn't crying because I was going to be alone-I was crying because I was overwhelmed by being blessed with having too many places to go.

Friday afternoon, I felt better so I kept my plans of going to the annual Christmas tree lighting in Pioneer Square-yet another thing I had never done before (and apparently, an event someone was plotting to blow up).  It was an event with my fun Meetup group.  As we were singing carols, I looked around at people who were not in my life a year ago-one of whom I now consider a close friend and another who has also become a friend.  I felt like I was exactly where I was supposed to be.  Same with last night when I was out with my two guy friends-one who is becoming a good friend and one who is a more casual friend, but a new friend nonetheless. 

Maybe this is real after all.  Maybe I don't need to be afraid to blink.  But I am.

Sunday, November 21, 2010


James was a huge gamer.  For the most part, this was fine as my hobbies are time consuming and we both got to do what we loved to do.  There were times over the years where I got a little upset by this, however, as I felt he paid more attention to whatever game he was into than he did to me.  We ultimately resolved this by having two nights a week we made sure we spent together:  Thursday and Sunday.  We spent other time together, of course, but these were the days we made sure to keep clear.

At the time of his death, World of Warcraft was his game of choice.  He had been introduced to it by his friend, who I jokingly referred to as Mistress Jay because if they were doing a huge raid (Saturdays were reserved for that), it was possible for him to talk to Jay more than me.  After James died, Jay asked if he could still play James' character.  I thought that was an awesome tribute-and a way to keep him alive-so naturally, I agreed.

I had my own character by this time.  James had tried to involve me in his games over the years, but I just wasn't that interested and I had my own hobbies to attend to.  He asked again one day and I said I wanted my character to be a cow-thinking that would get me off the hook.  About 30 minutes later, Vandalia, my taurin hunter was created.  (Her pet is named Joe.  This will probably only make sense to my good friend from college).  I also had a second character-an elf named Elfis because I thought (and still think) that was hilarious.  I always did crack myself up.  I miss that about myself.

When we set up my character, we set it up so my credit card was charged the semi-annual subscription fee.  When Jay started to play James' character, he offered to pay for it, but I said I was okay to pay it and transferred James' account to my card as well.  And I've really thought nothing of it since then.  The first year was hard-his subscription renewed on his birthday; mine on what would have been our wedding day.

I tried to play a couple of times after James died but it just wasn't the same and more tearful than fun.  So when I got my credit card bill this last time, I decided it was time to cancel my account.  I decided that I would see if Jay was still playing James' character and if he was ask if he wanted to take over James' account or just let it go.  And then something sort of clicked in the back of my mind so I looked back through my credit card statements and discovered that I haven't been billed for James' subscription for the last two years.

My first thought was that Jay took over paying it for me after all and I felt so bad it took me this long to discover it and never thanked him for it.  I tried to send him an e-mail apologizing for not saying anything sooner but it bounced back.  Ironically, it sat in the queue too long and therefore couldn't be delivered.  I looked back through my e-mails to see if I missed one from him saying he was going to pay the account and didn't find one.  I did find one asking if I had changed the password, however.  And it's dated around the time James' subscription would have renewed in December 2008.  So now I wonder if the people at Blizzard discovered he died and cancelled the account-his was in his name; mine was in my name.

I was a sobbing mess Tuesday night after this discovery.  I cancelled my account on Wednesday, which wasn't easy to do.  I feel so guilty that I didn't join James in playing sooner and that I didn't play more often.  He was so happy when I finally did try to get into it and I can't take back that I didn't make more of an effort sooner. 

At first, I was relieved to discover that either Jay took over the account or they cancelled it.  The truth is that if it was left in my hands, I may never had done it as that was keeping a part of him alive.  And then it hit me that the final piece of him that was still alive in my eyes is actually gone.  That part has died too and I feel like I have lost him all over again.  I feel like I am back to the early days in which every little thing makes me cry, and I feel so insecure.  I feel so unworthy.  I feel like I have run out of strength and I seriously don't know how in the Hell I am supposed to do this for the next 50 years.  I know I will because I have no choice-I just don't know where I put my backup supply of strength.

I have been a sobbing mess all week and most of the weekend.  It doesn't help that my friend jokingly called me a loser and as this isn't the first time he's done so, a part of me wonders if on some level he actually feels that way.  It makes me wish I hadn't let my guard down and befriended him but that thought makes me feel very alone.  But I also know that if I wasn't already feeling so defective and damaged-if I wasn't so mad at James for not only leaving me, but leaving me in such a way I feel no one else is going to want me, that comment wouldn't hurt as much as it did.  I wouldn't have wanted to reply in such a way that would have cut him to the core and cost me a friendship that has been a blessing over the last couple of months (luckily, I was driving when I got the text and couldn't respond right away!).  Even now, two days later, there is a part of me that just wants to not only push him out of my life but not let any more new people in either.

I keep posting about wanting to meet someone new-about not wanting to be alone for the rest of my life.  I'm starting to rethink that.  Yes, it's still true I don't want to be alone and I do feel much more alive when I have someone to share my life with, but I'm beginning to wonder if the risk of having to go through this much pain again is really worth falling in love again someday, or if I should just be thankful for having experienced a great love in my life and just let that be enough as I just bide my time through the rest of my life.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Visions jackets??

Last Thursday (aka Veteran's Day) was the 6th anniversary of my dad's passing.  So naturally, I have been missing him more than usual lately and would love to just be able to talk to him and have him tell me I'm on the right path, I'm going to be okay, I will be happy again and I'm not making bad decisions and completely screwing up my life.  I really don't think I am asking for too much.

Since Dad has died I have had several dreams of him-most notably, the one where he told me James was going to die.  Well, okay, he said James was leaving me and never coming back; he wasn't that specific as to how final it was going to be.  But in 6 years, I don't remember a dream with my dad that was nice.  Normally, he's pretty angry with me about something or siding with my evil ex-stepmother against me.  It would be nice to know why he's so mad at me. 

But even with all the negative dreams I still asked him for a sign I would be okay.  I asked over and over for a glimpse that there was someone out there for me-that I'm not going to be alone for the rest of my life.  And a glimpse is exactly what I got.

Last Sunday was the day we fell back for Daylight Savings Time and I am not adjusting to the time change.  My alarm goes off at 5:45 and I keep waking up at exactly 5:00, which is frustrating and results in a tired, cranky Heather.  Last Friday was the same.  I had gone to a volunteer project at the Food Bank, followed by dinner with my friends who volunteered with me.  I got to bed at 11:15 (instead of my usual 10:00) so waking up 45 minutes early was the last thing I needed.  But that is when my internal clock decided it was time to get up.  Which of course woke Charlie up and there's really no chance of going back to sleep if he's up and anxious for his breakfast.

Nonetheless, I was laying there trying to go back to sleep-willing myself to fall asleep, actually, when I saw "him."  I just knew he was the person I was supposed to meet.  He was wearing loose black pants-possibly sweats and a light (tannish) color jacket that reminded me of James' best friends' fishing vest, only it was a fill-length coat.  His hand was "plumpish" but I didn't get the impression he was overweight.  He's taller than I am and he's caucasian.  I was disappointed in that he was not who I wanted him to be and tried to change the vision, but it remained the same.  I found myself thinking "God, he's a dork."  (Good thing dorkiness is high on my list of criteria.  Although he was on the high side of the dork scale).  I don't know what his face looks like, what color hair he has (Oh Lord, do NOT let him be a redhead!!!).  I don't know where he was standing-it was dark all around him.  I guess I am only supposed to know it is him by what he is wearing. 

I really need to learn to be more specific in what I'm asking for. 

Another phase

Lately I have been hanging out with a new friend, as I have mentioned a couple of times, and he recently asked me how I got James out of my head.  I couldn't give him the answer in terms of the context of how he meant the question because I haven't gotten James out of my head.  He, along with my dad, have pretty much taken up residence in the back of my head.  I have moments now where they aren't always on the forefront, but they are definitely always lingering in the background.

But our conversation put me on the path of coming to a new realization that I have tried to explain to a couple of people but just can't seem to convey what I am trying to say correctly.  First, I need to start by saying I still love James.  That hasn't changed and I don't think it ever will.  He has a permanent lock on part of my heart.  The love I feel for him, however, seems to be changing from being in love with him to a love of gratitude for the role he played in my life and who I am today in large part because of his love and encouragement.

The part that is so hard to get right is this:  James and I were homebodies.  And I was okay with that.  Yes, I got restless a time or two, but I was happy with our life.  I was happy with him and it was enough.  But what I have come to realize is that if he walked through the door right now, that life would no longer be enough for me.  I have changed and grown and have had my eyes opened to so many things this city I live in has to offer that I never really cared to experience before-because I had everything I wanted and needed right in front of me.  I would love nothing more for James to still be alive, but I couldn't give up my new life and go back to the one we had and be happy as a homebody.  I couldn't walk away from my Meetup groups or my new friends.  I don't think he would ask me to since he'd want me to be happy but I don't know that he'd want to be as social as I have become.  Which is kind of ironic because he was the social butterfly and I was the wallflower.

On one hand, I know this is a good thing.  It means I am growing.  It means I am moving forward.  It means I am surviving and even though I still have days that knock me on my ass, it means I can do this.  I really can.  On the other hand, it is another thing to process-another part of my old life I am letting go of and that is never easy.  Especially when I can't get the words right to help me through that process.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010


Mid-October, my Male Perspective Canadian Friend (who I'm sure is getting a swelled head with all these shout outs) told me to just have fun with my friends and not focus on one person and when I meet CGFO (aka Cute Guy For October) he wanted to hear about him.  Well, it took me until the 11th hour but I did indeed meet CGFO.  I've been feeling pretty down about myself lately-feeling very much like a defect, or as someone on the widow/ers board put it, like a little green alien that is to be avoided at all costs.  So meeting CGFO came at a very good time. 

There is a musician in my fun Meetup group who had a gig last Friday night.  Another member of the group posted it as an event.  He's a nice guy, so I decided to go.  I sent a text to my good friends to see what they were up to and got a reply they were going to an 80's Nite Halloween party.  For the first time in years, I did not make any attempt to dress up this year for Halloween.  That was something I really only did the last few years for James and now that he is most definitely gone, I don't have to take one for the team and dress up and go to a party if I don't want to.  So I didn't.  I told my friend I didn't feel like dressing up.  She texted me back a little later they decided not to go dancing-they were going to go Saturday instead and were coming to the gig with me.  I replied there was a Meetup group that had an event at a comedy club and we should crash it after the gig.  She agreed that would be fun.  (I'm such a respectful Meetup organizer.  Technically, we just showed up at a public place where a Meetup group just happened to be.  That's my story and I'm sticking to it). 

When we got to the comedy club, the first show wasn't over yet so we had to stand outside.  We didn't make any attempt to mingle with the group though that did happen when I agreed I would go dancing Saturday but whined about having to come up with a costume (Whiny Heather:  "Can't I just wear what I have on now and bring my Super Soaker and say I am a disgruntled postal worker?"  Random Guy:  "We're beyond the point of disgruntled postal workers.  Just say you're a disgruntled American."  Guy who I think is the group organizer:  "Just get a t-shirt that says "This is my costume.""  Me:  "Ooh, I can do that.  Thanks!"  I really didn't feel like going dancing since I was ganged up on by three men who I'm 99% were Nigerian scammers the last time I was at this club so I ended up going to the corn maze instead).

We sat apart from the group (since we aren't in it) and were talking amongst ourselves when the guy in front of us turned around and asked how we were doing.  We said we were fine.  He asked if we had been with the group long and I said we weren't with the group, we just saw "this" was going on and decided it looked like fun.  He said he did the same thing, which I didn't get the full meaning of until I got home, Cyber stalked (at least I'm honest about it) and discovered he isn't in the group either.  About this time, the emcee mentioned that there were plenty of seats up front so he got up and moved.  My friends looked at me and asked if we were moving.  The guy had a bit of a dork vibe to him and a nice smile so I said "Oh yeah.  We're moving."  He and I chatted and laughed until the show started.  Of course, he's cute so we mostly talked about the weather in Arizona (see earlier post about not being able to talk to cute boys).  However, I did manage to mention what Meetup groups I do belong to and we do have one in common.  So I definitely let him know how to find me.  (Or avoid me come to think of it).

When the show was over, he reached across me and shook hands with my friends and said it was nice to meet them.  I was still seated and when I stood up, I offered my hand to shake and said it was really nice to meet him.  His smile got bigger and he said it was really nice to meet me too.  He briefly held my hand after shaking it (that alone was worth the admission price of the show).

I know there is a chance I will never see this guy again and this was just a chance encounter designed to make me feel better about myself.  And it did.  (Note to Universe:  I am okay with running into him again, just in case you are wondering or bored and want to make that happen).  Once upon a time, a guy saw me at the front desk at work and said "Who's that?"  Not long after that, I fell in love with him.  And what I want now is another guy to look at me and say "Who's that?"  (I really don't think I ask for much).  I don't know why this was different from the other guys I have met since James died, but CGFO made me feel like that was actually a possibility.  But more importantly, for that brief time, I didn't feel like a little green alien that makes leprosy seem like a desirable trait.  I felt like I was any other normal single girl.  And I really needed that more than anything. 

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Exhausted Ramblings

While I blogged almost every detail of NLNG, there was a part of me that felt guilty for doing so, especially since parts of it weren't very nice.  (I haven't heard from him in just over a month now).  So I haven't wanted to do that with the guy I dubbed as #1.  It scares me how much I have in common with him and I have been enjoying getting to know him, but he has made it crystal clear he's only interested in me as a friend.  I believe that everyone comes into your life for a reason, a season or a lifetime.  I know I met my widower friend so I could see I was still capable of feeling.  I met NLNG so I could see that I could date again and be okay with it.  I don't yet know why I met #1, but it took time to understand why I met the others so I suspect this will just take time to understand too.  I have realized though that more than anything, I want to fall in love again-and nothing scares me more than the thought of falling in love again. 

I am still having nightmares which usually means something is nagging at me that I am not grasping.  I have been thinking lately that maybe it is time to take James' picture off the mantle, but I don't know where I would put it or why I am thinking that way.  I have also been thinking about my life now compared to what it was with him.  And I am coming to realize that if he walked through the door right now, I don't know if he would fit in my new life.  I would be so happy to see him, but with everything I have experienced and with all the new friends I have made I don't know that I would be content to lead the quiet, homebody life we had; one that I was very happy with-for the most part.  I did get a little restless at times.  It makes me sad to think in those terms but I also recognize it as a sign of growth-that I am making this work and I am coming out on the other side.  But a life without James is still so unimaginable at times.  On the other hand, I have been doing this for almost 3 years now and I am ready for this dark chapter to be over and a new lighter one to begin.  I think it's time and I think I deserve some happiness to come my way even if I fear it. 

Two of my widowed friends have said some things that have stuck with me lately.  One's husband also died in February 2008 and she said she feels like all these good things are coming together for her.  But they are only happening because he died.  She said she had great things because of and with him, but that life is over and she's trying to embrace and accept these good things are a part of her new life.  I asked if she was waiting for the other shoe to drop.  She did not hesitate before saying yes.  The other friend said that the way he sees it is that with the relationships we had with our late partners we came in 1st place.  We already won.  It doesn't mean we can't have other good relationships but we should be happy in knowing we already won.  He also said that as he's starting to date, he's finding he doesn't want anything serious, but wants to be in a serious relationship.  I get that.  He also brought up something I said-it always scares me when he starts by saying he liked something I said as I never know which of my pearls of wisdom he is going to follow that with.  This was my saying that I want my next relationship to end the same way the last one did.  He left out the part about me wanting it to last much longer and me being of the opinion that there is only one way for a successful relationship to end.

I have been in a funk lately.  Sammy turned 8 on 10/15; Charlie turns 8 on 10/30.  I am not handling that well.  I keep thinking it is going to be way too soon before they are gone and what am I going to do then?  I need them.  They are what keep me going.  When they are gone, my whole family will be gone.  Then what?  (Hopefully, I won't still be alone 4-6 years from now but it could happen).  I feel like so many good things are happening to other people but no matter how much of a happy face I put on, no matter how positive I try to be, it's for nothing.  I just get slapped with one disappointment after another and it's exhausting.  I don't even want to try anymore if it is going to keep being for nothing.  I'm running out of steam and can't keep trying without feeling like I am getting anywhere because right now I don't feel like that is the case even if logically I know it is.  I really need something positive to happen for me-and soon.

Monday, October 18, 2010

And while I'm venting...

I typically don't follow politics.  They bore me and most of what is allegedly going to get done doesn't seem to happen anyway.  That being said, I do want to be able to make informed choices when I vote and vote for the best candidate, which may or may not belong to the party of which I am registered.

With elections coming up, I am coming home almost every day to at least one message from some politician or committee campaigning for someone.  I really wish this is included in the "Do Not Call" registry.

Here's the deal:  I will admit that I am registered Republican.  The Democratic party keeps calling.  Note to the Dems:  leaving me messages that say "Hey, you should vote for us instead" are not enough for me to say "Okay" and switch teams.  You need to tell me why I should vote for you. 

As for the politicians and their advocates:  leaving me messages smearing your opponent is not going to get me to vote for you either.  Telling me why I shouldn't vote for Denny Heck or Patty Murray does not tell me why I should vote for you.  Tell me why I should vote for you.

It's this simple:  I want to know what you are hoping to do for me if you are elected and how you hope to do it. If you want me to vote for you, tell me you are going to try to improve the economy by introducing tax incentives to companies that bring jobs back from foreign countries.  Tell me how you plan to save the art and physical education programs in schools.  Tell me how you are going to make Washington an even better state for me to live in.

The candidate who best tells me what they plan to do in office and who I most like what I hear from is who gets my vote-regardless of party.  If you can't do that, don't call me.  I'm not interested in what you are selling.

Customer Service

I work about 4 1/2 miles from my house.  If I take the main road to work, I pass a Fred Meyer with a Starbucks in it.  The main road has about 15 million stoplights, however, so I take the "back way," as I like to call it.  Even with this route, I can still hit a Starbucks on my way to work-I just have to turn at Fourth Plain instead of going through it and in a couple of blocks, I am at Starbucks.  There is also a Starbucks inside the Safeway by my work.  Of the three, this is the one that makes the least amount of sense to go to as it is actually past my work.  But this is the one I go to.  And the reason I choose this one is the barista that is there in the morning.

She knows her customers.  She might not always know us by name but she knows us by drink.  I don't have to tell her I would like a tall caramel (or raspberry) mocha frappucino with chocolate drizzle.  I just have to tell her what flavor.  She knows I hate the taste of coffee and has perfected making my frappucino so it does not taste like coffee.  If they come out with something new, she knows if I will hate it and if I want to try something different, she comes up with something I will like.  She is an example of excellent customer service.  She makes her customers happy.  And that is how it should be.

Sadly, there are companies out there that just don't get it-that don't really feel that good customer service is necessary.  And sadly, in some cases companies manage to survive just fine without it due to lack of viable competition.  A prime example of that is Meetup.  For the past two years, I have been a huge supporter of Meetup as it has greatly helped me to meet new people, make new friends and get off the couch instead of wasting my life away moping over what could have (and I still feel should have) been.  Because of the groups I am in, I am learning the area in which I live better and am trying new places and things I probably wouldn't have otherwise.  The Meetup platform is still good for what it was designed to do:  use the Internet to get off the Internet. 

Unfortunately, there really aren't any platforms out there that do all that Meetup does and they know this.  They know that organizers can threaten to take their groups elsewhere but at the end of the day, there is really nowhere else for us to go.  So they can get away with treating group organizers-their customers-like crap.  They can be condescending, ignore our pleas and requests all they want and there is nothing we can do about it other than complain and shut down our groups completely.

Over the past couple of years, Meetup has been trying to become more and more like Facebook.  Every new "feature" is designed to make the site either look more like or integrate more with Facebook (and now Twitter).  And the more us paying customers complain, the more it is crammed down our throats.  On their idea and suggestion forum, the number one complaint (with over 600 votes) is to remove a pop-up asking members to publish their RSVPs to Facebook.  (The next most asked for item only has 181 votes).  The response to the complaints that rolled in after this "feature" was implemented was to add an option to publish to Twitter as well and for Meetup to add the pop-up for when members join new groups and rate events.  The customers have asked for the option to at least opt out of this pop-up; the response was for it to be added to even more places.  The concept that not everyone suffers from "look at me" syndrome and feels the need to announce their every move to the entire world is just not something Meetup can comprehend.

And now they have added an obnoxious yellow banner across the top of the screen to "announce" important news-like they just came out with an iPhone app.  Which they also announced in the new features section.  And sent out an e-mail from the co-founder about.  Which is great.  If you have an iPhone.  Which I don't.  So being told there's now an app that is totally useless to me multiple times is annoying.  And as an organizer, I am paying for them to annoy me.  At least the obnoxious yellow banner can be closed-for now.  I'm sure that once enough users complain about it, the option to close it will go away.

Today I discovered a new banner-this one white.  I was looking to see who is signed up for the next Food Bank project I have scheduled with the fun group.  The banner said to look for more "XYZ" with thumbnails for other groups.  I thought "hey, this might be useful.  I might find a new group I am interested in."  So I clicked on one of the thumbnails and was taken to a list of groups:  the one I am in, one in Massachusetts, one in New York and one in California.  Really?  How is this even remotely close to useful information?  Seriously.  I live in Washington.  What on Earth possesses these people to think I am going to be remotely interested in a group on the other frickin' side of the country?  So here we have yet another annoying, useless advertisement.

The response to this:  they feel that these things help promote our groups in a positive way and help them grow into live communities which is the entire point, blah, blah, blah.  Since only a handful of people are taking the time to complain, everyone else automatically loves the changes. 

More and more I am becoming a disgruntled member of Meetup.  I pay for my group and I haven't left because I am currently organizing the only group specifically for young widows and widowers in the Portland Metro area (that I am aware of).  I can't close down a group there is a need for without having somewhere else to go with the functionality of Meetup.  And I like (most of) the people I have met in the groups I am in.  I just don't like the company running the show that much these days.

Thursday, October 14, 2010


A widower I know of recently received a beautiful tribute to his late wife that ended with the author stating he was lucky.  This choice of words took him back a bit and led him to wonder if those of us who have lost our loves so young really are lucky.  Here is how I responded:

"Do I think I was lucky to have had James in my life for 8 years? Yes. I thank God everyday for blessing me with him-right before I inform Him it wasn't nearly long enough. Do I feel lucky now? No, I'm pretty pissed off about it, actually (Monday should have been our anniversary and I am NOT handling it well). I actually have a weird sense of entitlement to a having another love in my life someday. Because the first one was so rudely taken from me, I feel I deserve to be given a second chance."

I do believe that I was lucky and blessed to have had James in my life, even if it wasn't nearly long enough.  At the time of his death, we had been together for half my adult life and almost a quarter of my entire life so he definitely helped me become the person I am today.  

Things could definitely have been a lot worse for me when he died.  As his rightful heir, I could have lost my house and everything in it to his mother.  But she respected his wishes that I was in charge and signed my own possessions over to me.  

I could have lost the house when I lost his income and then took a 20% pay cut on top of it.  But we were fortunate that we had been able to get out of debt (for the most part) and put a hefty down payment on this house.  Money is tight, but I am making it.  Thanks to his life insurance through his work, I was able to keep my promise of helping his mom by buying the house she lives in-which will one day provide me with retirement income.

I could have had my friends and family not want to deal with their own mortality and abandon me.  Or, I could be someone who is a loner by nature and has no family.  But I'm not.  I have a great support system-the best I could ask for, in fact.  From this, an acquaintance has become such a close friend, I go through withdrawals if more than a couple of days pass without us touching base with each other.  Because of my involvement with various Meetup groups, I have made some awesome new friends I never would have met otherwise. 

I could be homeless, unemployed and alone.  But I am none of those things.  I am lucky.  I realize this everyday though I don't always show it.  I am lucky, but I am far from happy.  I don't take my blessings for granted as I once did but I do strive to find happiness again.

In my post yesterday, I made a comment that made two of the most wonderful, supportive friends I could ever have feel bad.  This has torn at my heart all day and I am truly sorry to have done that.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

So much to say

I feel like I have so much to say and don't know where to begin.  I have been in a weird place ever since getting back from the reunion, and perhaps even before.  I have slowed way down on Meetup activities and am spending a fraction of the time on that site looking for things to do that I used to.  I have mainly been focusing on volunteering and have been seeing a lot of movies lately, so I am still really busy; it's just different.

I have been having bad dreams again that I am only remembered bits and pieces of.  Dad has been pretty prominent in them, which is unusual.  This morning's was pretty bad.  I dreamt some unknown people were trying to track me down to take my engagement ring and camera-the two things that make me feel most connected to James.  Dad was "helping" me to hide from them; in truth, he was trying to bribe me to give up the camera and ring so he could turn them over.  I woke up telling myself over and over "it's just a dream, it's just a dream."  I would love a dream analysis on this one and I'm guessing it has something to do with me choosing to numb out what would have been our second wedding anniversary (10/11) than deal with the emotions-mostly anger-I was feeling that day.  It made me sad that no one remembered or asked if I was okay but I guess that's life.  I hope down the road, I will remember to be sensitive to the dates that matter to my friends. 

I had scheduled an appointment with the therapist for Monday in case it was a bad day for me.  It was not one of my better appointments and I left there feeling very bad about myself.  In hindsight, she could have gotten her point across much better if she had just chosen her words differently, but at the same time, the words she chose hurt because deep down, I know she is right.  She pointed out all the flaws in my self-esteem, which made me feel ashamed to have such low self-esteem but at the same time filled me with more self-loathing for being such a pathetic creature.  She followed this up by saying that I am not going to be alone for the rest of my life but because I am "so unique" and "not a Barbie" it is going to take a long time for me to find someone to appreciate me.  That took me right back to the days of "well...she's got a great personality..."   She told me when it comes to dating, I need to leave hope out of it and mentally prepare myself for disappointment-that it's too dangerous for me to have hope and that I don't know what I want in a partner-that I am not strong enough to know that yet.  But at the same time she was telling me I have to stop thinking of myself as rejectable and keep re-enforcing to myself what a great catch I am going to be for someone.  I came home and called one of my closest friends in tears.  It is so hard to hear all these things that deep down I know are true and as a result, I no longer even want to try.  I just want to retreat into myself, into my little world and shut everyone out.  Pretty sure this is not the intended result of the session.

It doesn't help that I have not been sleeping well again.  Sunday night I tripped over a box and went to bed with rug burn pain.  I woke up in the middle of the night with throbbing pain in what I thought to be 3 of my toes; it turned out to only be one very badly bruised toe.  But I couldn't get comfortable.  The last two nights it has been the dreams.  I am hoping for a restful night tonight.  I need it.

It's amazing how one moment can erase a lot of good moments.  I was having a lot of good moments until I saw the therapist and left her office feeling so completely torn down.  I have some things planned for this weekend that I am looking forward to, so hopefully, that (and sleep!) will be what it takes for me to get my groove back.

Monday, October 4, 2010


My family has been through a lot in the last several years.  The plus side is that as a result, I have gotten to see them more than ever before.  The downside is that it has only been for funerals.  So when my cousin and his wife decided to go back to Leavenworth, where they were married, to celebrate their 10th anniversary, they decided to make it a family reunion as well.

I was nervous as I expected something bad to happen to one of us either on the way there or home as we seem to be cursed, but 8 family members made it to central Washington and 8 family members made it back home.  I ended up going up to Tacoma Thursday night so I could pick up my aunt and cousin and not have to get up at 4:00 in the morning to do so and still get to Leavenworth around lunch time.  I was not happy about the extra cost of doing this, but am glad I got to have that one-on-one time with her.  Three of the four deaths in our family from 2004-2008 were on my dad's side of the family, (the fourth being James) and this aunt is now the matriarch of that side of the family, which is a role she takes seriously.

There were some stressful moments along the way.  It was Oktoberfest this weekend, so there were a lot of people milling around.  Trying to appease 8 people-three of whom were children who got bored easily-and keep track of everyone in a crowded, hot setting got on my nerves after awhile-especially when I got to the point of starving.  Luckily, we had cell phones to help keep tabs on each other and didn't end up staying downtown all day.  We took a side trip to Tumwater Canyon (three whole miles and a world away) and I found my calm center sitting on the rocks taking pictures while everyone else climbed all over the rocks.

But visiting at the cabin was a completely different story, however.  I loved sitting there talking with my aunt, my brother, my cousin and his wife and listening to my nephews and cousin playing in the background.  It was great to see how quickly they bonded after an initial shyness.  I did have a couple of tough moments though.  My cousin had put together a video montage of pictures from various trips and day-to-day activities from the first ten years of their marriage.  Watching that, I started to cry a couple of times.  I want that so bad.  I kept thinking that I will never have that.  I will never be showing a video like this at my 10th anniversary family reunion, mixed with if I ever find love again, I wonder if Cousin would put together something like this for me to surprise Hubby with at the wedding?

My other bad moment was Sunday morning when we were leaving.  My brother and I drove as it was close enough for us to do so but everyone else flew in from the East Coast.  When it came time to leave, my youngest nephew's glasses were no where to be found.  We sent those who had the three hour drive to Seattle off to catch their planes and I stayed behind to help with the search for the wayward glasses-which were in a suit case.  When we turned off in different directions and I waved good-bye, I found myself with tears in my eyes.  Even though it was just the two of us and the dogs, I miss my family.  I miss having my own little family that I wasn't born into and I miss being around the family I was born into.  I thought about looking for a job in Coeur d'Alene for about two minutes, but I know I won't find one and the truth is I don't want to move back to Idaho.  My life is here.  The things I enjoy doing are here-I would be so bored there. Even my brother has said I would be so miserable if I went back and that he can see how my life is here-how happy living in this area makes me.  (When James died, he was going to try to convince me to move home; he said he knew I was where I belong after being here for 10 minutes). 

I'm just going to have to make more of an effort to get over to see my family more often, and hopefully one day we will be reuniting because I'm the one with something joyous to celebrate.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Oh Boy, Part II

In March of 2009, thirteen months after James died, I was asked out on a date.  My response was to come thisclose to throwing up.  (Not on him, thankfully).  It wasn't the good "OMG! The captain of the football team just asked me to prom" type of throw up, either.  It was the bad kind.  I decided that I was either not ready or not interested in him, or both. Ultimately, I determined it was both.  I wondered if I would ever be ready and/or meet someone with whom there was mutual interest for another 13 months, and then I met NLNG, whom I have determined really is not the one for me despite the Universe's constant signs to the contrary.  I know relationships take work, but the early stages should not be as much work as this has been.  He has a special place in my heart as the one who showed me I can date again and be okay with it, and I do care about him-but as a friend and a casual one at that.  He doesn't make my heart sing.  And now that I have felt my heart sing again, I don't want to settle for any less than that.

Since my post on September 13th, I have gone to the movies twice with the subject of that post and a couple of others.  (I think I will just call him #1.  The nicknames are getting too hard to track and I am running out of them.  And since it could take awhile for me to meet "the one," numbers seem like a logical way to go).  We have had a conversation on Facebook that lasted for an hour, and have had several e-mails and texts go back and forth, mostly to confirm plans to see the movies.  I find myself looking forward to and hoping to hear from him.  The thought of seeing him makes me want to throw up in the good way.  I don't doubt that he at least likes me as a friend.  And if that is all I get out of this, that in itself is a blessing because he seems like he would be a pretty good friend to have.

If I was reading the whole story about him written by someone else, I would think "Oh yeah, he's interested."  But because this is me, and I'm a clueless pain in the ass when it comes to these things, I just can't be sure.  But I do hope so and it feels good-and scary-to have this much hope.  The last time I felt this sort of hope was when I met James.  I don't know how to proceed though.  Yes, I was excited and hopeful when I met NLNG, but I had my doubts from the beginning when I felt like he wasn't interested in getting to know me after our first date.  I chalked it up to nerves, but 6 months later, that feeling hasn't really gone away.  I went back and re-read my first couple of posts from after I met him and was surprised by how much doubt was in them, along with some hope.

I know I need to just take this as it comes, one day at a time.  That's not easy for me because patience is not my strong suit.  I just need to relax and be patient in knowing that the type of guy I am looking for is out there and I don't have to settle for something I know in my heart isn't working. My dear friend told me today that he hopes #1 is the subject of many more of my stories (okay, so I paraphrased to my liking) and that if this has an unhappy ending like the story of NLNG did, I should look at it from the standpoint of having had the stories to tell.  He's right (don't let it go to your head).  It does feel good to know that I can still turn a head or two.  (God help us all if this goes into triple digits, however!)

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Close Encounter

I have a new mission:  to find the best turkey burger in Portland.  I can't really say what prompted this.  I guess it is partly due to wanting-and needing-to eat healthier and partly because I like to try new things.

So far, I have had two.  I knew not to expect much from the first one.  After all, food in a seedy bar is rarely 5-star quality.  It was a disappointing first experience as it was really salty.  The second one was from Burgerville, a local fast food chain that prides itself on using local vendors as much as possible.  Their food is pretty good, but the turkey burger was pretty bland.  So the last time I was at the grocery store, I decided to get some ground turkey and make my own someday.

Last Sunday, I decided a turkey burger made on the grill (George Foreman, but close enough), French fries and corn would be a great end of summer dinner.  I needed a few burger fixings and set off for the store.  I was thinking I should go to WinCo as it is less expensive than Fred Meyer, but in the end Freddies won out.  They typically have better produce but more importantly than that, they have a Starbucks.

I had finished my shopping-gathering the items, that is.  I still needed to pay.  I was in line at Starbucks waiting for my frappucino when a couple came in the front doors of the store.  I recognized them immediately:  it was James' old roommate-and one time best friend-and his wife.  I almost called out to them.  I haven't seen them since the funeral.  Like me, they live not far from Freddies so it's kind of weird that it took over 2 1/2 years for me to run into them.  It was on the tip of my tongue to call out their names and instead, I turned my head.  I hoped they wouldn't see me.  And they didn't.

It was a weird experience.  Here were two people that had once been our best "couple" friends and I didn't want them to know I was only a few feet away from them.  There had been a falling out several years ago when they went through a rough patch.  James did not agree with how he treated her during that time.  And then when I asked an innocent question about a basketball rule and he bit my head off in response and practically made me cry, James cut off all ties.  This was during the time we were in Arizona so it wasn't hard to end that relationship.  But then we moved back and by that time, they had reconciled.  James wanted to repair his friendship with her, but she chose her husband.  I remember sitting at opposite ends of the couch, cross-legged facing each other-our serious discussion position-discussing whether or not to try to mend fences with him.  We decided to give it a go; he wasn't willing to meet us halfway.  So we let it go.

I knew I had to tell them when James died-that it was the right thing to do.  They were one of the last to know-I had a hard time getting her to call me back and that wasn't something I wanted to leave on an answering machine.  I don't really remember them at the funeral, but they came up to me at the reception with a picture of James that used to be on their fridge and said it should have been included in the slide show.  I know more was said but that is all I remember.  It's amazing I even remember that much, truth be told.

I got my coffee and went to pay for my groceries.  I tentatively looked down each aisle before crossing it trying to avoid them.  I didn't want an awkward conversation about how I'm doing and what they have been up to for the last 2 + years.  I didn't want to agree to a get together that would never happen or make a false promise that I would call if I needed them.  That time has past.  What I wanted was to go home and tell James who I ran into at the store-which of course I couldn't do.  It put me in a weird frame of mind for the rest of the day.  A week later, I'm still not really sure how I feel about it but I do know I don't care to rekindle that relationship.  That ship has sailed.  If I do run into them again, I will be civil but I won't seek them out.  I think James knows this.  I think he would understand and he would be disappointed that they-especially she-was not there for me when I needed his friends the most.

James would not have been disappointed in the turkey burger that led me to almost run into them at the store, however.  It turns out I make a damn good one.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Oh Boy

Way back in March, I briefly met a guy through the fun Meetup group at a showing of "Easy Rider" (I so did NOT see that ending coming) at the Portland Art Museum.  It was a brief encounter and I thought nothing of it.  At the time, I was still wondering if I would ever be ready to date and still had some pretty huge walls up (as compared to the not quite as tall walls I have built up now).

I ran into him again at our group's monthly potluck and book club discussion in May.  ("Catcher in the Rye."  Hated it).  Again, it was a brief meeting with really no interaction although I did learn a couple of things about him in the course of the discussion about the book.  I thought he was kind of shy with a really cute smile and a name I would never be able to pronounce.  (He's Indian.  As in from India, not Native American).

At the end of June, he came to one of the volunteer projects I hosted at the Food Bank.  The group of us went out for drinks afterward-I figured it was the least we could do as he drove a little over an hour (each way) for a 2-hour project.  (It feels really weird to say "went out for drinks" when I'm allergic to alcohol).

In July, he co-hosted an event with the main organizer of the fun group:  a potluck and outdoor screening of "Up in the Air."  (I love that I can access past months of the group's calendar online).  We have a lot of potlucks in this group.  We joke it is how the main organizer does his grocery shopping.  At this event, he came up and gave me a big hug, but I didn't really get a chance to talk to him.  I had friends there and he was busy running the projector equipment.  It was pretty late when the movie ended and I didn't stay for too long as I was pretty tired. 

As I have been broadening my horizons by joining other groups, I have noticed he's in a lot of the same groups as I am.  Last month, when I went to my first event with the 30's Group, he was a welcome sight as the only person there that I had already met.  We got into a discussion about books but he left before I had a chance to mention a book I have that I thought he might enjoy.  So I e-mailed him about it and he did think he would enjoy it and offered to lend me a couple of his in return.  I replied with which ones I wouldn't mind reading.  And that was the end of that.  He never responded to my second e-mail so I wrote him off.  Ever since James died, I am really quick to write people off if they disappoint me (except NLNG-the one person I should write off).

And then I ran into him Friday at a Meetup event for a dog lovers group.  Because Mother Nature apparently did not get the memo this is supposed to be summer, it was chilly.  We ended up sharing my blanket.  (Guess who ended up with most of it?  Yep, he who made fun of me for being so bundled up).  There were only 5 of us that went to the movie and afterward, he and I went for a drink.  (The Lucky Lab has really good lemonade).  We were there for just under 2 hours and I swear in that time, I learned more about him than I have about NLNG in 5 1/2 months (saw him this weekend too.  He called me "Sweetie."  First time he has used a pet name.  Not really sure where that came from or what to do with it).  I had already picked up a few things along the way:  he likes movies, likes to read (yea), would not only support my volunteer efforts but on occasion would join me (yea), loves dogs (BIG yea), and he might be the only person I have ever met that talks faster than I do-which is pretty fast.  I also learned that he is only 29-yikes!! (coo coo ca choo, Mrs. Robinson).  I didn't learn anything about him that made me want to run screaming from the pub.  Actually, I want to learn more about him-especially his culture.  And how to pronounce his last name.  I think it might be the same as the one (tangible) thing I am terrified of.  During the conversation, I told him about Schoolhouse Supplies (when you have two people who talk at warp-speed, you can cover a lot of ground in 2 hours).  Saturday, he went out and bought supplies to donate to them.  Now we are trying to work out how he is going to get them to me.

I drove home thinking that was how I remembered it being with James-and how it should feel even though this wasn't a date.  This is not how it feels with NLNG.  With him, conversation feels like a chore.  I can't get him to open up to me and now that I know the type of guy I would like to date exists, it makes me really feel like I would be settling if I tried to make it work with NLNG.  The only problem is NLNG is the one that is (sometimes) interested and this other guy is not.  And I don't know when or if another other guy is going to enter my life.  I have known this guy for 6 months and have no reason to think he is or ever will be interested in me-maybe if I was 25 and never married instead of 36 and widowed I would have a better chance.

When I got home Friday night (okay, technically it was Saturday morning, but just barely), I found myself telling God that was the type of person I wanted to meet.  "Technically, you already have" said the little voice in my head.  I can't argue that's not a good point.  So I amended it to he's the type of person I want to meet who is also looking to meet me.  Apparently, specifics are required.  It does give me hope though that one day, I will meet someone who instead of frustrating and confusing me makes my heart sing again.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

31 Months and the Red Purse

Friday after work I met two of my best Meetup friends at Washington Square Mall for dinner at the Cheesecake Factory followed by shopping for "go out" clothes I could wear to speed dating and other events.  I'm a very casual person and they think I dress "too old."  In addition to needing new clothes, I wanted to go with someone who would force me to step out of my shell.  Casual non-descript clothes are just one more thing I hide behind so I can stay neatly tucked away unnoticed on the sidelines of life.  We had finished shopping and were walking down to Starbucks when my purse suddenly felt lighter.  The strap had broken-probably from too much weight-and there was no way to fix it.  I figured it was Labor Day weekend-I had three days to get a new one.  I have a couple of small purses that hold the essentials for when I go out and don't want to lug around the "Mom" purse.  I ended up just using one of those over the weekend and never made it out to get a new one. 

In my last post, I mentioned an incident that took place on Saturday in which a member of one of my Meetup groups took it upon himself to text another member of the group, a good friend of mine, that I showed up to his Meetup with a date and made it clear I was not with the group.  I felt this was very inappropriate.  I'm not really sure what to do about this.  He has been told I am not interested (more than once).  I have been wondering if I need to say something to the organizer of the group (who was the one who told me about the crush in the first place) that he may be someone we have to keep in eye on before he develops crushes on other women in the group and drives them away; he's a nice guy when you meet him but he's very pushy and icky when you actually get to know him.

I was thinking about this yesterday at work and was stewing about what I felt to be a huge invasion of my privacy.  I found myself picturing a conversation with the organizer in which I said that I am 36 years old, I am single and it has been 2 1/2 years since James died so I have certainly waited long enough by societies standards to test the waters again.  That it has actually been almost 31 months and I was free to do what I wanted and it was no one's business and no one had a right to broadcast it.

And then I looked at the calendar.  And I saw that it was the 7th.  It wasn't "almost" 31 months.  It was 31 months and 1 day.  The 6th had come and gone.  And I missed it.  For the first time in 31 months, I was not aware of the day.  It wasn't looming over me.  It wasn't a reminder.  It was just another day.  And this felt good.  It felt like a definite sign of healing, of moving forward, of being ready for what comes next.  I practically felt giddy.  I e-mailed a friend.  I texted my two widower friends for validation this was a good thing.  And then the guilt hit.  How could I forget?  Does this mean I don't love him enough?  Logically, I realize this is a good thing.  Today, I have mixed feelings which I will have to discuss with the therapist on Monday.  I want to talk about him more than usual anyway-I can't really explain it, but I feel that he is one more thing I am somehow hiding behind.  I wonder what he would think about me being completely unaware of the 6th?

Today at lunch, I had to go to Fred Meyer.  I decided to get a new purse while I was there.  I'm pretty disappointed the other one broke.  I really liked it-it was practical, both brown and black so I didn't have to worry about switching it out.  (Because that is so not me).  And I liked the style.  It was cloth with a leather bottom and a leather strap with a zippered main pocket and a zippered side pocket for easy access to the things I need the most and a back pocket to cram receipts and coupons into.  I found it's "twin" on the shelf and then found it's "siblings"-same style just all leather instead of cloth.  I really like the purse and thought maybe the leather version would be stronger than the cloth.  So I picked up the sensible brown one and put it in the cart.  And then I picked up the dark red one.  I liked the dark red one.  Really liked it.  But it wasn't sensible-it won't "go" with most of my clothes (Heaven forbid).  So I put it back and stepped away.  I took three steps and said "Screw it."  I put back the sensible brown purse and bought the totally bold and out of character for me red one. 

Walking towards the cash register, I noticed the overhead music was "Kiss Me" by Sixpence None the Richer-our recessional song and the only song for our wedding we had picked out.  I got into the car and when I started it, the song on the radio was Gary Glitter's "Rock and Roll, Part 2"-James' favorite song. 

Driving back to work all I could think was that we're good and James approves of the red purse.

Round 3

I determined NLNG did not spend a month in a coma and was not abducted by aliens.  Therefore, that was it.  No Round 3.  Time to move on to greener (or in my case drier) pastures.  Time to get back to just having fun and seeing where this road is taking me.  He was deleted completely from my phone and completely from my life.  I resolved for the billionth time I was done with him.  And for the billionth time he came back.  Seriously, what is it with this guy?!  I could understand once or twice as fluky coincidences.  But Every. Single. Time? Really?  (And then there's also the whole issue of me not really believing in coincidences).

I was done.  Have I mentioned that?  And then right after I told a friend that, I logged on to my Meetup account to check the calendar so I could schedule something.  I did this 2 minutes after he RSVP'd "maybe" for an event I was hosting on 8/21.  I didn't react (well, at least not to him.  My co-workers would say otherwise).  He didn't end up going, and I felt relieved when he changed it at the last minute to "no" with the comment "Can't make it :("  I wasn't surprised.  "Maybes" are generally considered to be "nos" and the event was an 1860's re-eanctment baseball game.  He doesn't like to watch sports.  Later that evening, he RSVP'd "yes" to an event I was thinking about going to but had not RSVP'd to yet.

On the 25th, I decided to take my therapist's advice and have my eyebrows waxed.  She thinks I have beautiful eyes and that I hide them.  (She thinks I hide behind a lot of things).  It was a whim and it didn't go well from my perspective.  The swelling made me feel like I looked like an angry monkey.  Even when the swelling went down, I still thought I looked like I was scowling.  It turns out I have a scar on the right side that my eyebrows have always hidden thanks to "Heather vs. the Really Heavy Wood Coffee Table" when I was three.  And apparently, I'm the only one who sees the scowl.  So, I was having a crisis over the whole brow thing and furiously texting back and forth with two friends and trying to take a self-portrait with my cell phone (not as easy thing to do it turns out) so I could show them the horror when I got a text message from NLNG asking me to let him know when I posted my next movie or similar Meetup event.  (Complete with a smiley face).  And then he sent me a butt-text.  And then I smashed and probably broke my pinky toe, which seemed like a fitting way to end the night.  (This is the third toe I've "probably" broken.  James heard one snap and I still deny I broke it.  But that's mainly because I don't want to admit I broke my toe trying to do a cartwheel at the age of 28).

But before the toe vs. the carpet shampooer incident, I texted him back letting him know he butt-texted me and I was thinking about posting a movie for the following week but didn't think it was one he'd want to see ("Eclipse."  Team Jacob.  Enough said).  End of conversation.  Until...

After mulling it over (i.e. talking to my co-workers), I decided not to let his going to the event I wanted to go to on the 27th stop me from going.  A lot of my favorite people were going to be there.  So I went.  And so did he.  He gave me a hug and said it was good to see me again.  I lent him my extra chair and shared my blanket with him.  After the movie ("The Blind Side"), I said my good-byes and left without looking back.  It was late and I had to get up early the next day.  I had an 8:00 chiropractor appointment followed by my first outing with the photography Meetup group (Swan Island Dahlia Festival) followed by stopping by Mt. Tabor to take pictures of members of the fun Meetup group playing Capture the Flag.

After I got home, I decided to go see a funk band play (yep, another Meetup event with the fun group).  I was about to walk out the door when I got a text from NLNG inviting me over to watch a movie.  I thanked him but said I had other plans.  The next day, I sent him a text to see how his movie was, which led to a conversation that we should go see the newly re-released "Avatar" in 3D.  His last text came when I was already in bed; I sent my response agreeing to go the next morning (8/30).

And then I heard nothing.  On 9/1, I joined a speed dating Meetup group and asked my friends to take me shopping for new speed dating appropriate clothes.  On 9/2, I had a volunteer shift for Schoolhouse Supplies manning the donation barrels at the free Oregon Symphony Concert down on the waterfront.  The whole way there, I told myself I was only doing speed dating to practice talking to guys and that I needed to find a way to not be so disappointed when I didn't get any matches.  I thought about how I have a ton of questions for my friend who has done this and how I should probably ask him before I interrogate him. 

I was people watching on my shift and thinking that I needed to just delete the latest round of text messages and I need to meet someone with whom I am not going to be constantly playing games or testing each other.  Someone with whom I can have a healthy relationship.  I look to my right.  And there he is standing no more than 20 feet away.  "For the love of God, you have got to be kidding me."  I look again.  Yep, that is definitely him.  I look up to the Universe.  "Seriously?!  What did I DO to you?!?!"  Every.  Single.  Time.  (It's almost comical at this point because really, what else can I do but laugh-besides bang my head on the wall).  He starts walking my way.  I decide to not get his attention.  I decide to just let him go.  I'm standing right next to an entryway.  He's focused on his iPhone.  He almost walks right by me and at the last second looks up and sees me.  (At this point, I'm pretty pissed off about being blown off not once, but twice).

I admit I was more than a bit frosty to him.  I'm not proud of this (now.  I was acting out of anger then).  He asked me to join him when I was done volunteering.  I told him my allergy meds were wearing off and I was going to go home and stick my head in the oven (the schizo weather had been wreaking havoc on my sinuses-still is).  He seemed disappointed.  Said to call him if I changed my mind.  The concert started and I found myself enjoying the music.  So I stayed.  And we had a good time.  He walked me back to my car; I gave him a ride home.  We agreed to see "Avatar" on Saturday (9/4).

Friday, I sent him the theater info and the correct show time (as promised).  I suggested a time to meet in the lobby.  I got no response.  The fun Meetup group was going as well, so I knew if nothing else I could watch it with them.  An hour before we were supposed to meet, he sent me a text saying he'd see me soon in the lobby.

I got there first and ran into the Meetup group.  The Org for that event has a crush on me.  He has been told that I am not interested-more than once.  He had waved to me from the parking lot; I told him I didn't see him waving and wasn't with the group.  He kept insisting I was.  When it was his turn to buy his ticket, I escaped to the bathroom.  NLNG was waiting when I came back out.  When Pushy Meetup Guy saw us together, he texted one of my best friends from the group to let her know I was on a date (she knew).  I'm guessing he was hoping she'd say it was nothing serious-even though she told him (again) the night before I have said I am not interested in dating him.  This really annoyed me.  He really needs to leave my life alone.

After the movie and lunch, NLNG walked me to my car, gave me a hug and said he'd see me real soon.  On my way home,  I thought about how busy I had been lately and that it would be nice to stay home and watch movies.  I sent him a text inviting him over.  He asked if we could do Sunday instead.  That was fine-3D is an awesome effect, but it did make me sick to my stomach and gave him a headache.  I suggested 7:00.  I heard nothing until he showed up around 7:15.

I tried to ask him why he has his guard up-why he has built up such strong walls.  All I got was an acknowledgment that I was right about that.  He left around 1:00 saying he'd see me again "real soon."  I'm not holding my breath.  Yesterday, I joined another singles Meetup group.  I figure it'll be another month before I hear from him again.

I was asked why I keep going back.  The obvious is that I'm lonely and he's the only one (with whom there is mutual interest) that is asking.  The not so obvious is that I like the parts I have seen when the walls have come down a bit.  What if behind the walls is a really great guy and I let that go too soon?  And I really can't get past him showing up every time I resolve to be done and actually take steps to move forward.  (That goes back to that whole not believing in coincidences quirk of mine).

He'll be back.  In the meantime, I'm just going to keep doing my thing.  Hopefully, one of these times he will come back to find that he's too late-that I have met someone else and have moved on.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Talking to Guys

My friend told me earlier today he likes to hear all my "cute guy of the day" stories.  And he agrees I need to find new nicknames for them.  He also thinks I need to go on a date with someone other than NLNG-a point I'm not arguing. I would gladly do that if there was one I was interested in that asked.

So I told him about Food Bank Guy.  (I don't actually know what his name is).  Back in January, the organizer of the fun Meetup group set us up to volunteer for the Food Bank twice a month.  They only schedule out a few months at a time so we were only on their calendar through April.  In April, I offered to take that over and keep it going, which is how I ultimately became an assistant organizer for the group despite my best efforts for that to not happen.  (It has actually been good for me).  Food Bank Guy volunteers directly for the Food Bank so he is not part of our group (which is why I don't know his name).

At our first project this month, my dear friend and I were talking about boys like we always do.  I pointed out that I think Food Bank Guy is cute.  She looked at him and said he was a little young.  (She's the same age as my mom).  I gave her a look and then she said "Oh! You meant for you."  Then we dissolved into a fit of giggles.  We're real mature like that.

Prior to this, Food Bank Guy has either completely ignored me or has given me borderline dirty looks.  I didn't really think much of it because NLNG has been in the picture since I took over this project.  (He still sort of is.  Although this time it appears he's blowing me off before the date instead of after.  Whatever).  After I said that, he was helping me get the last of our pinto beans from the big bag into the serving bags and made a couple of cutesy comments, which I'm pretty sure I had a smart ass response to.

As we were leaving, I noticed he rode a motorcycle (strike 1) and possibly smokes (strike 2).  I made the passing comment it was a nice night for a bike ride.  Which lead to a nice discussion about road kill.  Yeah, and I wonder why exactly it is I'm single?  Apparently, he wasn't too phased by this as the last time we were there he was teasing me about being one of those perfectionist people, to which I responded I was all about feeding as many hungry as I could.  (He also gave me the stellar advice that maybe I shouldn't put all my weight on a (most likely) broken toe.  Ya think?)  Given his completely ignoring me before, I can't help but wonder if he overheard the comment I made about him being cute though I thought I said it pretty quietly.

I also told my friend about the new guy that came to my monthly widowed people dinner last night.  His wife died suddenly from a heart condition about the same time James did the same.  And he's really cute.  I decided that as the group organizer, it was my duty to sit next to him and the new girl to make sure they felt welcomed and included in the conversation.  (Actually, as the org., that IS my duty, but I digress).  In talking to him (she was talking to someone else), I felt I was interrogating  him.  I sent them both an e-mail today saying it was nice to meet them, let me know if they have any questions about the group, hope to see them again, etc.  I suspect I won't.

So I have come to the conclusion that I'm good as long as it is someone I don't find attractive.  (Though I'm not sure how that explains my total comfort with NLNG the moment I met him.  But then again, there isn't much about him that does make sense).  I had a great conversation recently with the parking garage attendant about the Portland Beavers and what the chances of them staying in Portland are after this season.  I have no problems talking to men with whom there is no chance I am going to date them.  But when it comes to the ones I think are cute I either come across like a moron, interrogate them, or clam up completely.  I'm thinking about joining a speed dating Meetup because clearly, I need to relearn how to talk to guys.

And for you my Canadian friend, today's cute guy is a high school teacher friend of Volunteer Guy, who I never noticed had dimples (I love me some dimples) until earlier today when I had the chance to interrogate him.


There are 10 grandchildren on my mother's side of the family.  Interestingly, with one exception we were born in the birth order of our parents.

Aunt M is the oldest.  She had the first four grandkids-three boys and a girl, though I don't remember if the girl or one of the boys is the youngest.  Next in line is Aunt G.  She is mom to the fifth and sixth grandchildren, both girls.  Then there is my mom who, of course, is responsible for my brother and I.  Finally, there is Uncle M, who has a daughter.  Aunt G had the final grandson-a surprise when her girls were already old enough to babysit him when he was born.  (It's also interesting that if you reverse their birth order, that's how many kids they have.  Have I mentioned I'm a numbers person?)

Uncle M's daughter, who in my eyes is still a little girl but in realty is 28, just had a baby girl of her own.  I think she's too young, but that's because last time I saw her she was just a toddler.  I was thinking about this last night and it dawned on me that other than Aunt G's youngest, I am the only grandchild that does not have a child of my own.

I don't know how many kids Aunt M's boys have, but I know they all have at least one.  Her daughter is 12 years older than I am so the first two boys are definitely a lot older than me.  And my girl cousin on this branch not only has three children, she's now a grandma herself.  (And looks amazingly like Aunt M!)

One of Aunt G's daughters has two kids-a son and a daughter, who was adopted from China.  The other daughter has three-two boys and a daughter adopted from China.  Aunt G's daughters are very close and the second one adopted so the first one's daughter would have a cousin that was "just like her."  At least that's my mother's version. 

My brother has two sons.  And now my baby girl cousin is a mommy too.  That just leaves Grandchild #10 and I.  He is only 24.  (In his pictures on Facebook, he looks about 12.  He's a cute kid.  I'd really like to know who he, the younger of his two sisters and my brother all got their curly hair from.  Come to think of it, I vaguely remember one of Aunt M's older boys as having curly hair too.  The rest of us have stick straight hair.  Hmm...sounds like a genealogy question).  I suspect it won't be long before Mom tells me he has gotten married and not too long after that when she tells me Aunt G is going to be a grandma again.
My mother has told me I was the only child her father ever liked.  He died when I was a year old, so who knows if this is true. I know it's irrational but I can't help but feel that by not carrying on the bloodline, I have let him-and my grandmother-down.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Prime, Favorites and Change

I have been in a funk lately and this one has been harder to get out of than the other funks I have been in recently.  I'm sure my poor eating habits and lack of exercise and sleep have something to do with it but I know it is more than that.  Once again, I am finding myself looking ahead at a long road that doesn't seem to be going anywhere.  Once again, I am finding I don't really have anything to look forward to in life.

I have been doing a lot of reflecting lately because of a book.  The main organizer of the fun Meetup group hosts a book club discussion and potluck each month based on Modern Library's 100 greatest novels.  (I'm starting to wonder who came up with this list and what they were smoking when they did).  The book we are reading for September is called "The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie," by Muriel Spark.  Set in 1930's Scotland, it is about an eccentric schoolteacher who, in the "prime" of her life, takes a group of 6 girls under her wing and teaches them with her unorthodox style.

Miss Brodie is a spinster.  She was engaged to be married but her fiance was killed.  She did fall in love again, but renounced him because he was married and instead had a loveless affair with someone else.  Though it doesn't specifically say-or if it does I missed it-I'm assuming she is about my age.  I think it is being able to relate to her as someone who lost their love early that got me thinking.  What if this is it?  What if this is the prime of my life?  That thought has me down-I would hope my prime would be a lot happier than this!  I want the prime of my life to be awesome-full of fun, laughter and love.  I had that with James.  Could it be that at 36 I am already past my prime?  There's a cheery thought.

It was a YouTube video that provided the boost I needed to shake this line of thinking out of my head.  My widower friend posted a video the other day which was a short film in which John C. Reilly asks random people if they are anyone's favorite person.  My friend made the comment that it wasn't so long ago that that was an easy question to answer.  He later added the comment he needed to work on making himself his favorite person.  At first the video just added to my funk.  It sucks not being anyone's favorite person anymore.  Then I started thinking about it from another perspective and I realized in addition to not being anyone's favorite person, I don't have a favorite person either.  After being gone for 2 1/2 years, James is still my favorite person.  I like a lot of people who are living but can't really say any of them are my favorite.  Well, at least not sarcastically.  I told my friend that James was still my favorite person and if I made a list of all my favorite living people he'd be on it and I was going to follow his lead and move myself to the top of that list.  I didn't tell him that I've been filled with so much self-loathing lately that I was starting to wonder if I have ever truly hated myself as much as I do now.  But it was a freeing decision in that it put me back in the mindset of living life on MY terms.

At my last appointment, my therapist said that I should think about having my eyebrows waxed and I should change my hairstyle.  She thinks I have really pretty eyes and I need to bring them out.  She also thinks I am hiding behind my hair (and a host of other things).  I am resistant to change-what if it turns out horrible and I look worse than I already do?  Well, the good news about hair (including eyebrows) is that it grows back.  So Wednesday after work, on a whim, I went and had my eyebrows "done."  (Who on Earth decided waxing was a good idea?!)  Then I dyed my hair a lighter shade with more red in it, though it's kind of hard to tell since it was still pretty dark from getting the wrong color about a year or so ago.  And then I cried.  It didn't help that my eyebrow area was swollen from the wax job-I was convinced I looked like an angry monkey.  I texted a couple of friends who insisted I send a picture (taking a good picture of yourself on a cell phone is not easy!).  They both thought I looked great-I thought they were lying but at least I eventually stopped crying.

I have been growing half my bangs out for the last 4 months so I have been wearing them pulled back with a barrette.  They are finally long enough that I can tuck them behind my ear on the left, but with a side part, they don't stay tucked on the right.  Still, I decided to try wearing it down with my bangs swept to the side instead of across my forehead on Friday.  One of my (male) co-workers did a double take and told me he's "feeling the hair."  Three other co-workers (two female, one male) also approved.  I didn't really think it was an improvement, but a couple of Meetup friends also said I looked good on Friday and again last night so maybe after a few more glances in the mirror when I start to recognize the girl looking back at me, I'll start to like what I see too.