Thursday, April 29, 2010

So Heather, how does that make you feel?

After reading my last post, two of my good friends made similar comments to me basically saying that I told the story of what happened but not how I feel about it. After reading the condensed version, another good friend and provider of some much needed male perspective on this asked if I was happy. He asked again yesterday upon realizing I didn't answer him the first time.

The truth is I really wasn't sure how I felt about it at time. I was still processing the event itself, and sort of still am. There is a part of me that still wonders if I just imagined the whole thing. I didn't know if anything would come from it and I sort of still don't. I know he called on Tuesday night (yea!) and I was excited about that. He called right as I was thinking that if I didn't hear from him by bedtime on Wednesday, I would send him a note through the Meetup site. (This was after I went back and forth on Monday and Tuesday wondering if I should send him a note and thinking if he didn't call it was his loss). He called to see if I wanted to do something on Sunday. I am organizing a Meetup event and he is going to come to that with me. At least he said he would. I have been freaked out all day today thinking he is going to change his mind and not show up. I would be disappointed if that happened because I am looking forward to seeing him (which I told him). But Tuesday to Sunday is almost an entire week and a lot can happen in that amount of time. After all, on Tuesday 2/5/08, James was alive. On Sunday 2/10/08, he had been dead for 4 days. I realize that is extreme. The point is that things can change in an instant. New Guy could be meeting someone right now that he finds more attractive and blow me off for her. (Although I am looking pretty hot in my purple and pink polka dot PJ bottoms, grey Circus Circus t-shirt and blue zippered hoody sweatshirt and my glasses. Maybe I should go out like this on Sunday).

My paranoia got the better of me today and I basically polled the audience of the two friends mentioned above, my best friend and two other good friends. Male Perspective Friend took the day off so he got to miss out on my freaking out. (He'll get a chance to weigh in tomorrow-lucky him). The consensus is that New Guy would not have called and asked me to do something if he wasn't interested. The consensus is that he will be there Sunday. Not convinced (no offense, my dear friends), I Googled "how to tell if he likes you." Yeah, I need help-good thing I never got around to re-posting "Dating for Dummies" on Paperback Swap. I came to the conclusion he's either interested or he's a player. Apparently, there's a fine line. That's just what I need-if I can't even figure out if he's interested, how the hell am I supposed to know if he's a player?! But, I do have to admit I am feeling a little more confident that he will show up on Sunday. Inner Heather (who has been rather quiet lately) keeps telling me he will be there. Inner Heather is starting to get that nasty, impatient tone of hers. However, she was right about him calling so maybe I should trust her for once.

So, I'm nervous. I told my co-worker I wonder how many times I will throw up before I leave on Sunday (note to self: get some Mentos on way to PSU). Even after almost two years of planning monthly dinners for the widowed people group, I still get so nervous before each one I almost throw up. And this is the first event I have planned for the group so I want it to go well. I have been the organizer for a couple of volunteer events, but I didn't plan those-I took them over after they were planned. So I didn't really feel responsible for those. This one is all me and that is going to make it hard to give New Guy a lot of attention prior to the movie starting. I am hoping he does show up and he and I can get a bite to eat afterward. (I'm also hoping he tries to hold my hand during the movie-he'll have plenty of opportunity. It's a long movie).

I'm also excited and hopeful. I did a happy dance when I got home Tuesday (I was on my way home when he called). Charlie joined me in happy dancing. Sammy looked at us with his "why can't I live with normal people?!" look. I do want to see him again and in a setting where we don't have to shout to hear each other. But I'm afraid by being excited about this, I am just setting myself up for yet another disappointment. I'm kind of getting used to them by now, but with each one, I reinforce my walls a little bit stronger and it's a little harder each time not to stay disillusioned and to pull myself back up by my boot straps. My best friend gave me some great advice: she told me to enjoy the thrill of possibility. And it is nice to genuinely be excited and hopeful about something again. And to not feel the guilt I thought I would. I just wish I didn't have all the doubts about him showing up too. I just wish I had a little bit more faith and patience. Part of my problem is I don't want to wait and see how it all plays out. I want to know NOW so I am not sitting around fretting about it. But I know I have to take it one step at a time and the next step is seeing if he shows up on Sunday.

Monday, April 26, 2010

So this guy walks into a bar...

Saturday was a very busy day for me. First, I did what I am now calling the "volunteer project from Hell." Actually, the project itself was pretty cool. The Audubon Society has several hiking trails. They have been slowly replacing the bridges on the trails and were down to the last one. It was the manual labor that sucked. First, we had to haul all the lumber for the new bridge down a 1/4 mile hiking trail. Then, when that was finished, as the bridge was dismantled we had to haul all the old lumber back up the hill. These were not small pieces of wood-they were two person minimum. So I was pretty tired and already feeling the pain from that when I sent a text to a couple of friends in my fun Meetup group to see if they were still planning to go dancing. Another friend had changed her RSVP to "No" and if none of my core group was going to be there, I wasn't going to go either.

My friends N & T were still planning to go so I took a couple of Advil and headed out. They weren't planning to be there until the dancing really got underway at 9:00 but I went early for the line dance lesson. (Coincidentally, the organizer of another group sent out an e-mail Saturday afternoon that the community center is going to hold a 7-week line dancing class starting in May. I will be signing up for that). After the lesson, there was still about 1/2 hour until dancing started and I was pretty bored. I knew the event organizer, R, and only one other girl that was there with the group. The others seemed to know each other and weren't really that interested in including me in the conversation.

A little after 9:00, I was looking towards the main entrance and I saw my widower friend. I thought it was odd he hadn't told me he would be there and even more odd he was there given he is not a fan of country music. He came down and was standing between R and I and I was trying to get a good look at his face having only seen his profile. It wasn't Widower Friend, but man, do they look a lot alike. I was intrigued so I introduced myself and attempted to make idle conversation which wasn't easy with the noise level of the bar. A little later my friends arrived and introductions were made and my focus shifted to them.

The bar was pretty crowded and despite being primarily a country bar, they play other music as well. So when a rock song came on, my friends and I all went to dance. New Guy was standing by himself where we had all been standing so I went and asked him to join us. After a couple of fast songs, a slow song came on and I ended up dancing with my friend K, who asked if I was interested in New Guy. I said I was intrigued. So K gave me a pep talk on being alone for the rest of our lives and the only way that isn't going to happen is to put yourself out there and take a risk.

There was a good mix of fast and slow songs. The next time a slow song came up, New Guy asked me if I wanted to dance. So I danced with him. I had to sit a few songs out thanks to the pain in my muscles from the volunteer project, and most of the songs I sat out, New Guy did too, other than when R drug him out to the dance floor.

Around 10:30, I took a sip of my juice and set it down. I went to reach for my water and it was gone-as was my juice. The servers and I had been playing a cat and mouse game with my drinks all night and they finally won. So, I told New Guy I was going to get another drink and headed for the bar. The line was long and about 10 minutes later he found me still standing in line. He said he thought I had snuck out. I told him I wouldn't have just left without saying something. I wouldn't have just disappeared without telling my friends. He stood there and waited with me for what turned out to be another 25 minutes (grr). At one point, I made the comment about having been tempted to shave my head. I had half my bangs (the half I am now growing out) pulled back in a barrette and the rest of my hair in a half-ponytail/half bun and he pushed the rest of my bangs back to get an idea of what I would look like with no hair. (I got my hair cut today so there will be no more threats of shaving my head-for now). Surprisingly, I wasn't uncomfortable with the invasion to my personal space. Since James died, I have been very uncomfortable with men-especially ones I have just met-touching me.

The bartender finally served us. I had asked New Guy what he was going to get and ordered it for him. I figured I could buy him a beer and be done with it or we could stand there for another 1/2 hour. We made our way back to my friends and he thanked me for the beer. He took a sip, set it down and then was gone. I looked up and saw he was dancing with R. T was on my other side and I just said "whatever," with a shrug, but I actually thought that was kind of rude. She said he didn't look the least bit thrilled. I said "well, he's out there dancing with her." (She had interrupted our conversation a couple of times to talk to him as if I didn't exist). T repeated he didn't look happy about it; turns out what I didn't see was she had "summoned" him. When the song ended and a slow song started ("Every Rose Has it's Thorn," for the record), he hightailed it off the dance floor and asked me to dance (point: Heather. Ok, that was snarky. But there were definitely moments it felt like Jr. High and a pissing contest to see which of us was going to mark our territory first). My friends were also rather helpful with K giving me advice and trying to make New Guy jealous and N pushing us towards each other and proclaiming "Not anymore!" when New Guy said he was single. I have very subtle friends-subtle like freight trains that is. (Love 'em though!) And once again, I feel like I am in high school.

As the night went on, he became more comfortable with testing boundaries, for lack of a better term. When we would lean in to talk to/shout at each other, he would put his arm around my waist, leaving it there longer each time, finally working up to the point of gently stroking my side. At one point, I went out with N & T to attempt a line dance and quickly gave up. I told him I gave up because I couldn't keep up and he said I should have stayed out there because I looked good.

Late in the night, we had one last slow dance, which was a song called "Holes in the Floor of Heaven," by Steve Wariner. As we were dancing, he said to me he knew I had already told him but asked what my name is. I told him and he said "Heather, it's nice to meet you." I said it was nice to meet him too. He said he was really glad he decided to come out; I said I was really glad I decided not to stay home as well. As I tuned into the song, I realized it was about a young widower. That actually made me feel a little guilty. I told him it was a pretty song but also sad. He asked what it was about. I said it was about a man whose wife was watching from above and he was trying to figure out how to live his life without her. (Okay, so I was slightly off the mark). He asked how it ended. I told him I didn't know, I had never actually heard the song before, but at the end she was still going to be dead and he still had to live his life. (No, the irony did not escape me. I'll analyze this tomorrow when I'm pretending to reconcile something).

Finally around 1:30, I had enough. My muscles were killing me and I really wanted to get on the road before all the drunk people. So I told him I was calling it a night. He asked if he could have my number. I said I didn't have a pen on me since I didn't have my purse, but I had one out in the car. I said a quick good-bye to the others and we walked out to my car. I found the pen and a piece of paper, wrote it down, made sure it was legible and handed it to him. We made small talk and then he cupped my chin, turned my face towards him and kissed me (I guess that answers the first "new life" kiss question). He told me again he was glad he had met me, and I said I was glad I met him too. He then told me to have a safe drive home. I told him to have a safe drive as well and then amended it to bus or cab ride, having remembered that he said he took the bus instead of driving. He suggested I give him a ride home and then said "no" and stepped away from me-almost like he knew he had gone too far, I think? I was quiet for a bit and then said I was sorry, but having just met him I wasn't comfortable with that. He thanked me for the beer, the dances and the kiss and again told me to have a safe drive home and he walked off. (I had noticed R walking to her car with another girl from the group she had carpooled with so for all I know, he went home with her).

So now I am left wondering if he will call. Now that I have had some time to process, I am really hoping he does and I am hoping I won't be too disappointed when he doesn't. I am also left wondering if he was interested in me or if he was just looking for a one night stand and tossed my number when he didn't get lucky. I hope that's not the case; that would really hurt. (Of course, if that's how he is and that's the only thing he is after with this group, I can get him kicked out of and banned from the group. (Technically, as an assistant organizer, I can do it myself). Because that's just not cool and so NOT what this group is about).

If nothing else, he served the purpose of the first "new life" kiss and I was surprised by my reaction to it. I thought for sure when that day came, I would feel guilty and like I had cheated on James. But I didn't, which brings up it's own guilt-how could I not feel guilty? Did I not love him enough? No, of course not. It means that I have accepted he is not coming back and I have reached a point in my healing where if someone were to come along, whether it be New Guy or some other remains to be seen guy, I am ready for it. And that's a pretty good (and scary) feeling.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Well, that was unproductive

After a little over 2 years, I am finally tackling some of the financial aspects stemming from James' death that I did not have to immediately deal with. A couple of these things involve his credit union. I took 3/29 off and met with the financial advisor. I was actually supposed to meet with the financial advisor that James had set up the accounts with several months ago but the day after I made the appointment, they called back to tell me he no longer worked there and they finally have a new one in place.

There were three separate issues to be dealt with: his accounts, a small investment account and Section 529 college savings plans for his nephew and nieces. When I was there on the 29th, the member accounts person (who decided to muddle through the process of setting up a new account and transferring a deceased person's account balances to the new account instead of calling the person who knew how to do it) was able to get an account setup for me. I'm pretty sure the paperwork is wrong. I needed an account, however, because a new application from the credit union is needed to transfer the investment account to me. At this meeting, we were also able to get the paperwork started to transfer ownership of the 529 plans to me. I had to fill out an application and transfer form for each plan, but I was able to bring that home to do it at my convenience, which of course was not convenient to do until this past weekend when I realized I should probably get that done.

We found out that I needed to fill out a beneficiary claim form for the investment account and they couldn't fax or e-mail that to the financial advisor, but they could snail mail it to me. So we set up an appointment for today, I took my 529 plan "homework" and went on my merry way.

When I got there today I set out the 529 plan paperwork and told the financial advisor he needed to sign the front of the change form and fill out part of the application for each one. He laughed and said it was not every day someone sat down in his office and presented paperwork in an organized fashion for him to fill out instead of the other way around. He started to do his part and then we decided to call on the investment account first since we wanted someone to talk us through the specifics of the application and knew how to do the other forms. He said we were in luck because his appointment after me had cancelled so we had more time if we needed it. I told him he may have more time but my appointment (dinner with my widower friend) had not cancelled so he had to have me out of there at 5:15 at the latest.

We got the rep from the investment company on the phone and spent the next hour filling out the 5 forms (I am not exaggerating-and this does not include the beneficiary claim form) needed to open a new account for me and transfer the balance to me. There were a couple of things I thought contradicted what the other rep had told us when I had my first meeting, but I was also kind of in a daze thanks to the sheer volume of paperwork. Between this and the house in California, I am starting to feel bad for how many trees I am responsible for killing.

After we finished the last form, the rep put us on hold. While we were on hold, the financial advisor finished filling out the 529 plan paperwork. It's a good thing we are both organized people by profession as we had various stacks of paperwork all over his desk. At one point, he looked over something from the investment firm and said there was no place for me to sign it. The rep said that was just a disclosure form and he just needed to hand it over to me. So, he made a big show of handing it to me, and I looked down at it and back up at him and said "We don't have a pile for this one." We thought it was funny. The rep had no sense of humor. The rep finally came back online and told us that he had been under one impression when we started the paperwork but the situation was different than what he had been thinking and I wasn't eligible for the investment options we had selected. Translation: those 5 forms we just spent an hour filling out are all wrong.

So now I have to go back again next month so we can fill out the correct paperwork. I have been assured by the financial advisor he knows how to fill out those forms without any assistance from the investment firm. I told him he wasn't the one I was losing faith in. I was annoyed, however, that that was pretty much a complete waste of time and my poor friend got an earful when we got to the restaurant and he innocently made the comment of "So, you're all squared away with the credit union now?" I had also just witnessed a very bizarre accident in which a small truck backed into a car at a stoplight and then waved to the driver of the car she hit and drove off, and then I looked in my rear view mirror and saw the driver behind me was reading the paper-while driving-so in addition to being annoyed, I was a bit frazzled and glad to be in one piece.

Hopefully my next visit will get this all squared away. It is hard to do this but it will also be nice to not having it hanging over my head anymore. And on the plus side, I am now going to be able to get the account set up the way I wanted it in the first place but was told I couldn't do. And the financial advisor is cute and has a great sense of humor so I think I will be able to handle spending another hour in his office. But any more than that and I think I am going to have to insist on dinner.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Dear Fellow Drivers

Dear Fellow Drivers,

I realized long ago that trying to figure out how my little brain works is a lesson in futility. Over the years, I have just come to accept my sense of logic doesn't usually make sense to well, anyone, sometimes myself included. So, maybe it's just because of the way I think that I don't think the following concept is rocket science: I am limited in how fast I can go by how fast the car in front of me is going. In other words, riding my ass is going to do you no good because no matter how close you get to me, the car in front of me is not going to go any faster. Therefore, it is not possible for me to go any faster either. Because quite frankly, I don't care how much of a hurry you are in. I am not going to plow the person in front of me off the road to clear the way for you.

So BACK OFF! (Or change lanes. All the freeways in this area have more than one to choose from. Unless, of course, they are blocked by an accident that was most likely caused by someone like you).


Thursday, April 15, 2010

"American Pie"

Me (having just come home from work): "Have you ever really listened to "American Pie?" If you really listen to the lyrics that song really makes no sense."

James (playing World of Warcraft): "You've mentioned that before."

Me: "It was playing on the radio on my way home. That song can start right as I am leaving work and I can get almost all the way home before it ends."

James: "You've mentioned that before too."

Me: "I'm probably going to mention this every time I hear it on my way home because every time it is going to take up the majority of my commute and I'm still going to wonder where in the Hell he is going with it."

James: "Good to know."

Of course, he died not long after that exchange so he has been spared of having to listen to me wonder yet again where Don McLean was going with "American Pie." My dad, who was a fan of the song, died before I ever really listened to the lyrics, so he was spared of ever having to have this conversation with me. That would have been a good conversation. Dad probably would have just made a bunch of stuff up and I probably would have seen his point and believed him. Being the gullible Daddy's girl that I was, I pretty much believed anything he said that made sense. (This is probably why it's a good thing I don't have kids. Although it would be fun to mess with their heads).

Several months ago, "American Pie" came on the radio while I was volunteering. Volunteer Guy grew up listening to this sort of music so he was familiar with it. I asked if he had ever really listened to it, mentioning of course that if you really listen to it, it really doesn't make sense. (New person to have this conversation with. Yes!!) This led to a dissection of the song and what the various lines were alleged to stand for. Then we had to Google rye to clarify "drinking whiskey and rye" as we both knew alcohol is made from grains, but associate rye with bread. This led to me asking what the chief economic industry in Montana is. (He's from Montana). He thought it was tourism, thanks to Glacier National Park. I thought it was sheep, thanks to all the Montana sheep jokes. It's agriculture and tourism.

I'm not really sure where I am going with this or why I felt compelled to write about it at all, other than to preserve the memory of that conversation with James as I can picture it so clearly. I was standing just inside the office; he was sitting where I sit now. It does seem a bit fitting, however, to not really have a point in a post about a song that to me makes no sense at all.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Juvenile antics

One day when I was 10 or so my friend and I got this great idea to prank call someone. We decided we would find someone in the phone book whose name sounded like it would belong to an old lady and one of us would call and using a baby voice would ask if she was our grandma. This entertained us for a few phone calls until one of her parents came home and we had to find something else to do. Of course, we never did find our grandma, but my friend did find someone who was willing to be a surrogate.

In high school, another friend and I were bored one night and decided to come up with a survey and call people pretending to be telemarketers. Our survey had about 10 questions and "do you have a toaster?" was asked several times. We thought it was funny. Some of our callers figured out it was us, some went along with us, and some just got annoyed and hung up.

Nowadays, it isn't as easy to make prank calls with technology being what it is and all. Caller ID, blocked number rejection and *69 have really taken the fun out of things. But last night I was introduced to something even more fun and equally juvenile.

One of the co-founders of the fun Meetup group (MU-T) posted a "mystery event" and dinner for last night. Intrigued (and no longer "grounded" since I filed my taxes), I signed up for it. All I knew was that I needed to meet on the steps of one of the branches of the library at 5:00 with $5.00 for supplies and the names and addresses of five family members or friends. Knowing that MU-T makes cards, I figured that is what we were going to be doing. I was wrong.

There ended up only being 3 of us for this event. MU-T, myself and another girl who I had not met before but who I thought was pretty cool. We left the library and went about a block north to a little card shop that is very much in line with the "Keep Portland Weird" theme. (I should have looked to see if they had the "Keep Vancouver Normal" bumper sticker. I need to get one of those). MU-T tends to wear novelty t-shirts to our more athletic events and I pointed out one that I thought he would like. We looked those over and I pointed out a couple I thought were funny, in particular the one that said "If you don't talk to your cat about catnip, who will?" (that still cracks me up. And I don't even have a cat), which gave him some insight into my sense of humor-and that I actually have one. We did have a mission to complete at this store, which was that each of us was to buy 3 random, creative and/or funny postcards.

After we left the store, we went to a little restaurant across the street from the library. Once seated, we were told to get out our address lists and hand them to the person sitting next to us. New Girl got my list; I got MU-T's. From the list of names, we were to pick three to address and send the post cards we picked out to. The list I got from MU-T only had 3 names on it: a college friend and her husband, his ex-wife and the other co-founder of the Meetup group, MU-D, who I have mentioned in previous blog posts.

It was a fun exercise in creative writing. We were allowed to ask questions about the people on the list so we could personalize our messages. My brother and my friend are going to know I am somehow behind their postcards. I would love to be a fly on the wall when my mother gets hers. I told New Girl I could see it going down like this: "I got the strangest post card in the mail the other day from someone pretending to be Jerry Springer. I always thought it was the KKK Grand Wizard, not the Grand Wizard of the KKK." We also got to pick which post cards were going to which of our people, so I picked out the beat up, thumbs up Jerry Springer card to go to my mom. My brother is getting the one with a baby standing between sleeping polar bears and my friend is getting one with a girl sitting in front of two zombies. I told MU-T that I thought it was telling he chose the post card with the radiator shaped cow on it for me to send to his ex-wife.

As we were filling out our cards, I asked MU-T for more information about MU-D. (A-I will have more time to blog when he gets my post card and I get kicked out of the group). I don't know him that well and they have been friends for about 6 years now. I ended up with some insight about both of them that I found interesting and intriguing. Some of what I learned about the two of them if I would have been asked do you think this is more like MU-T or MU-D, I would have gotten backwards. I also learned that MU-D has told MU-T my story so he knows about James. I have actually wondered about that. And I learned that MU-D was quite impressed with me when he first met me. Not attracted-but impressed with what I had been through and the strength I possessed. MU-T had a hard time finding the right way to say what he was trying to convey-I think he may have been trying to choose his words carefully with a newcomer at the table-so at first I wasn't really sure what to make of what he was trying to tell me but I could tell it was meant to be a good thing.

After we finished with our cards and had a good laugh over what we all wrote on them, we headed out. New Girl was parked nearby and we said our good-byes to her and kept walking towards the garage where I was parked. As we were walking MU-T told me he had definitely enjoyed getting to know me better during the event. I told him I was thinking he wouldn't let me come to anymore of his events (hello, insecure much?) but he said that now he would probably invite me to more. That was nice to hear. I told him that I am a lot more open now and a big part of that was because after James died, I just stopped giving a shit. I told him the way I see it, I can't lose anymore than what I have already lost. I have to admit, trying not to care so much what others think is more than a little freeing and something I have definitely taken from James.

I have been so down and stressed out lately and today I woke up feeling a lot better. Who would have guessed that all I needed to cheer me up was a night of juvenile antics? (And a nice hug).

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Girl vs the Smoke Detector

A while back, I came home to the lovely sound of one of the smoke detectors chirping. "Please, Lord," I thought, "don't let it be the one in the bedroom." The master bedroom has a vaulted ceiling and the smoke detector is at the top of the vault. After changing the battery in the detector downstairs and then the battery in the detector in the upstairs hallway, I discovered the culprit was the one here in the office. (I also discovered there is one here in the office). As we moved into the house in October 2005, I knew the day would come that the battery in the bedroom smoke detector would have to be changed.

The dreaded day came yesterday. After work I stopped at the YMCA for a swim. I always rinse off in their shower but take a real shower when I get home to get the chlorine out of my hair. Because I get home about an hour later on days I swim than I would if I came straight home from work, I bring the dog's dishes upstairs so they can eat their dinner while I am in the shower. (Because they have proven time and again they can't be trusted, they get locked in the bedroom while I am in the shower). When I set Charlie's dish down, I heard a noise like I had hit their (metal) dishes together, which I thought was odd. As I got into the shower, I thought "Oh please God, no." But the beep came again and again. And I knew from my experience with painting the bedroom that I am not tall enough to reach the smoke detector.

Nonetheless, after my shower, I went out to the garage and drug the ladder upstairs and got it set up, knocking it into the ceiling fan in the process, which I had not thought to turn off. I am pretty sure it now needs to be replaced. I got it to stop making the really loud noise, but I thought I could smell rubber burning and I don't remember it shaking quite that much so I turned it off. This is kind of unfortunate as I find it is too quiet with it turned off and I sleep better (which isn't saying much) with it on.

I got up on the ladder as far as I was comfortable with and then climbed two rungs higher-to the last rung below the yellow warning sticker saying "DO NOT CLIMB ABOVE THIS RUNG" and sure enough, I could not reach the smoke detector. So, I posted the following to my Facebook page: "Home improvement tip of the day: running the ladder into the ceiling fan is not good for the fan. So now not only is the smoke alarm chirping because even on the ladder I'm still too short to reach it, I need a new ceiling fan. I'm going to go cry now." And that is exactly what I did; I went and laid down on my bed and cried. And then I went and sat of the top step and cried.

I tried to call the friend who lives closest to me to see if I could borrow her significant other. She didn't answer. I tried to call my good friend to see if her husband (James' best friend) could come help me. She didn't answer. I called my co-worker who also lives nearby. She was at dinner with her son and her husband was fishing, otherwise they would have come to help me. I went and rang the neighbor's doorbell. I could hear they were home (with six kids in a small house and both cars in the driveway it's a little hard to pretend you aren't home), but they didn't answer. I called my boss; he was out for a walk. I was sobbing harder with each call I made. I called James' best friend directly. He said he'd come help me and about 40 minutes later, the problem was solved. It was about two hours later that I finally stopped crying (although the Braves giving up 10 runs in the 4th inning was almost enough to make me start up again). The pool at the Y was over-chlorinated yesterday-all those tears did at least get the burning from that out of my eyes.

Since James died, I have taken apart a 52" TV to replace the projector lamp, painted the upstairs bathroom, hallway and our bedroom, took apart the sliding glass door to replace the lock, changed a car battery, disposed of three dead mice (without freaking out) and dealt with the disposal of a dead possum. All that went right out the window thanks to not being able to perform the simplest of tasks for myself. With each call I made, I felt more alone. At one point, I decided I would just sleep downstairs until the battery died. Then I realized I could hear it down there too. So I decided to just sell the house and move into one where I can reach everything. I thought about setting off the security alarm so the fire department would respond and fix it for me. (Men in uniform really would be worth the fine). I thought about calling Handyman Matters-a handyman company we used for a couple of things when we first moved in. I wanted to call Volunteer Guy because he's tall. (It's probably a good thing I don't have his number). I have never felt so helpless in my life although once again I have managed to provide comic relief to several people.

I haven't tried the ceiling fan yet today to see if I was smelling burning rubber or just imagining it. But in trying to fix it last night, I decided it is really ugly and I want a new one. I guess for my next trick, I will be learning how to install a ceiling fan. Maybe doing that successfully will make me feel better about being too short to complete a simple task for myself.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Get out of my head George Michael

"I feel so unsure as I take your hand and lead you to the dance floor..."

George Michael's song "Careless Whisper" is about a guy who cheats on his woman. (The video is very cheesy and very '80's). I haven't cheated on or with anyone but I have had that line running through my head since Friday night. It is Sunday. Do you know how many times the same line can run through your head in 48 hours? A lot.

Friday after work I went to a happy hour event with the fun Meetup group. One of the guys there asked if any of us were going to another event being held later that evening, which was dancing to a live band. None of us had anything better to do so we decided to go. I think one of the girls decided to go because she has a thing for one of the guys, who is not interested. (I thought it was the other way around. I have been set straight).

We got there about an hour before the band was supposed to start, had some food (despite having just come from happy hour, where we ate, we were surprisingly hungry), and just chatted while waiting for the band to start. They ended up starting late as they decided to wait to start playing until after the Blazer game. When they finally started playing, the first thing Girl did was drag Boy onto the dance floor. (This was when I learned the truth about the situation). After the song was mercifully over (the band was not good) and they came back to the table, he extended his hand to another girl in the group to go dance with him. She declined so he extended his hand to me. I am not a dancer but I figured "what the hay? I'm here." I offered my hand and allowed him to lead me to the dance floor.

There are things that I know I miss and there are things I know I have forgotten, but I realized I had forgotten what it felt like to hold a man's hand, even briefly. It was a bit of a startlingly realization that I am still trying to process (with the help of George Michael apparently). It wasn't something I realized I missed-after 8 years, James and I didn't hold hands that often anymore but I always felt loved and so protected when he would reach for it. I miss that feeling of protection-of knowing someone always had my back and that someone was looking out for me. Lord knows I needed it given that whole unobservant thing I've got going on.

We didn't dance long. I'm not really sure what the band was attempting to play-always a sign of a good group-but it wasn't really dance music. Plus I discovered they had shuffleboard, so I asked if we could do that instead. So he went and got a couple of others from the group, who beat us.

I didn't stay much longer than that. I did have to get home to let the dogs out and I didn't have the option of numbing the pain of the band with alcohol. (Said to me at Widmer Brewery on Saturday by Cute Meetup Guy #1: "Wait, you don't drink but you're here for a brewery tour?" My reply: "Yep." CMG #1: "Okay." He's pretty laid back. Me: "I really don't want to work on my taxes and I thought the historical and scientific aspects would be interesting." Because I am so not a geek. CMG #1 (nodding): "I can see that." Because he's so not a geek either).

I did feel a little bad when I left on Friday night. I was hugging the people I like good-bye and Boy thanked me for almost dancing with him. I said I was sorry but the music was just too awful (they made bad karaoke sound good) and thanked him for playing shuffleboard with me. We're both signed up for a night of country dancing in a couple of weeks. (Despite not being a dancer, I have been wanting to do that off and on for a few years now-usually when I get on a country music kick. I knew how to do it-sort of-in college). Girl will be there too. Maybe I'll make up for our abbreviated dance with a real one then. And hopefully, George Michael will be out of my head by then.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

First Kiss

A few months ago, someone started a thread on the widow/er board about their first "new life" kiss. Several others responded with their experiences; a couple of members (aka "the morality police") complained about people not keeping anything sacred and revealing too much information on the message boards (insert eye roll). I remember thinking at the time that when that day came for me, James would have been gone for at least two years and while I am not normally one to kiss and tell, after that amount of time, the entire world was going to know I got a little action.

I have wondered about how my first "new life" kiss would go down. Would it be an awkward one at the end of a first date? Would it follow a playful moment while goofing off with a male friend with whom there is an attraction? (Note to self: this would be more likely if there was a male friend with whom there is an attraction in the picture). Would it be after I have had a few dates with a guy? Would it be in a parking lot in the rain (I do live in the NW, after all)? Yeah, I have given this some thought. And yes, I have imagined kissing guys I know in these various scenarios.

My first kiss ever was when I was 12. He was a classmate of mine who lived down the street-and who apparently used to climb up on our porch roof to watch me sleep. (That was creepy then too). He was the classmate I was going to marry in the 3rd grade until the school principal found out my class was planning a mass wedding and put a stop to it. He was my boyfriend at various times in the 4th through 6th grades, though he did two-time me in the 4th grade. The kiss was in my backyard and was a very quick one that it turns out was witnessed by my brother. I was sitting on "Big Bertha," my hand-me-down three speed bike with the really thick seat. After that I was convinced he was going to want to do more and I broke up with him.

My first "French kiss" was the night of Senior Skip Day. After going to my first period class, I skipped the rest of the day and went to Silverwood with two of my male classmates. Most of our class spent the night camped out in the parking lot of the school-a school tradition. I ended up in a van with one of the guys I went to Silverwood with and ended up making out with him. When he tried to kiss me again a bit later, I again thought he was going to want to do more and pretended I was asleep.

My freshman year of college, I was kissed for the first time on the dance floor. It was my sorority pledge dance. My date was from the AKL fraternity. The song was "Crazy for You," by Madonna. We were in the town of Troy and made out all the way back to Moscow. That song still brings a smile to my face. I wonder what happened to him?

My first kiss with James was on a cold night in January 2000. Looking at a calendar, it would have been the 7th and our 3rd date. Our first date was 12/31/99 and he thought it would be too cliche to kiss me at midnight so he gave me a hug instead as we watched fireworks from the balcony of the apartment we were at. Our second date was 8 hours after the first one ended when we went and saw "Deuce Bigelow: Male Gigolo." We talked a couple of times during the week and decided to hang out on Friday night. Wondering if-and hoping-he would kiss me, I spent all day Friday applying lip balm so my lips would be nice and soft.

At the end of the night he walked me to my car. I had a 1993 Toyota Tercel at the time. It was so cold out and I started the car to warm it up while we said good-bye. He had told me that his friend had told him if he didn't kiss me soon I was going to end up as just another friend and asked if that was what he wanted. He didn't, so after giving me a couple of hugs, he kissed me goodnight. Let's just say when we finished kissing, my car was plenty warm! I miss kissing him. I miss how he would take a break from playing his games to go and get a Pepsi or a snack and give me quick kiss on the way to the kitchen as I worked on whatever crafty thing I was doing. I miss how he would trap me in the kitchen and give me kiss after kiss until I couldn't help but laugh. And I miss the last kiss of the day followed by "good night Honeybunch." As I sit here now and listen to what should have been the recessional song at our wedding-"Kiss Me" by Sixpence None the Richer-I am grateful I have such a clear memory of our first kiss and hope that time does not take that away from me.

As for my first "new life" kiss, well, I hope that happens while I am still young enough to remember it!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Making Decisions

Prior to his death, James and I were trying to figure out if there was any way we could afford to buy a rental property to rent out to his mom and step-dad. We ultimately realized we just couldn't do it. Around that time, I promised James if anything ever happened to him, I would take care of his mother. Little did I know, he would die about a month or so later. His mom is not in a good situation and up until recently I was not in the right frame of mind to deal with that on top of just trying to function enough to get through everyday life. But despite not doing anything about it, I have really been struggling with the guilt of not fulfilling my promise to James.

I am now in the process of buying a house in California that she will rent. To say I am overwhelmed is an understatement. For the sake of my sanity, she is under the impression someone else is doing this for her. And while I have what I feel are valid reasons for needing it to be this way, I feel bad that another family and I are lying to the rest of the family (all 5 of them). (The other family member is a Godsend). I haven't told my family because I feel bad that I am helping my mother-in-law when my own mother lives in a trailer.

I am stressed out because there are so many things that could go wrong with this-emotionally and financially. While my gut and heart are telling me it is the right thing to do and it is not a decision I made lightly, I am still scared. I have been in tears everyday for the last two weeks, and I won't be surprised if I break out into hives again.

I feel lost and alone and like I have taken a huge leap with no net to catch me. Other than the family member helping me with this, I have no one to talk to. She is very pro-real estate, which she gets from her real estate mogul father, so to her this is really no big deal. But it is to me. And it hit me why yesterday. I am 36 years old and this is the first huge decision I have made without having someone to talk it over with.

I have had to make decisions before, obviously. When I was 18, I had to decide whether to stay somewhat close to home and go to the University of Idaho, accept a scholarship to Eastern New Mexico University, go live with my mom and attend Fresno State or do what I really wanted to do, which was go live with my grandma and attend UNLV. I ultimately chose to stay with my friends and went to the University of Idaho. And although it was my choice in the end, I had my dad to help me weigh the pros and cons.

My senior year of college, I bought my first non-junker car. Again, I made the decision I wanted the car, but I had a guy friend go with me to ask all the right questions that boys just know to ask (especially this one-he's a car enthusiast), and to test drive it with me to make sure it was okay. And again, my dad was there to make sure this is what I really wanted (and to co-sign on the loan).

For the first 30 years of my life, whenever I had to make a big decision, I had my dad to bounce it off of. And from the time I was 26 until I was 34, I never made a decision without input from James-because decisions I made no longer affected just me. They affected us-first just James and I and then James, myself and the dogs. I miss having the male point of view and I miss having someone to bounce things off of. What I miss the most is being a part of something that is bigger than myself. While I am a strong, capable, intelligent (most days) woman, this is new, foreign and scary territory to me. And this is not a minor decision-I am buying a house in another state. In addition to the emotional stress, there is the financial burden (which I can afford, but it is still a risk), and there are tax implications as I will now have rental income to contend with and will have to file a California return. (If they try to tell me my non-resident return for 2010 tells them I left the state then and I magically owe taxes for previous years, I swear I am going to go down there and bitch-slap someone). While other things I have done on my own have left me feeling empowered this is having the opposite effect on me. I feel small, withdrawn and very insecure. I feel like a little four-eyed, brace face, fat girl and I just want to run away. My instincts are telling me I am doing the right thing and this is going to work out just fine, but emotionally I'm a wreck. I just want someone who understands to talk to. But I don't have that anymore and since I am more than likely going to be just me for a very long time, I need to learn how to make decisions entirely on my own, which feels weird to say at my age.

And since I apparently wasn't stressed out enough, my mother-in-law is in the hospital with complications due to diabetes.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

A needle in a haystack. Or: I can't believe I just did that.

At the Meetup event on Tuesday, one of my friends asked if any of us had a springform pan she could borrow. It so happens that I have two of them. The plan was that I would bring it to the event we were both planning to attend on Friday night.

After staying out too late on Tuesday and Thursday, I was dragging on Friday (which might be the understatement of the year). Around 3:00, I called her to let her know I was going to be near her place on Saturday and asked if I could drop off the pan then. She said that was fine and I told her I would be there between 4:00 and 4:30.

I got there yesterday a little before 4:30. She lives in a secured building and I was able to get into the building when someone else was buzzed in. She came down to the lobby to meet me and we just stood there and chit-chatted for a few minutes as I had a little bit of time to kill. Someone in her building was having a couples baby shower so there was a lot of activity in the lobby as guests arrived for that. We were only half paying attention to them as we discussed the proper way to toast coconut. (My useful suggestion: can't you just buy it that way? I don't bake with coconut a lot. She was making a cheesecake, which turned out delicious, and which is why she needed the pan).

And then he walked in. Our eyes met. I have never seen him before but he kept looking our way. I smiled tightly at him-I didn't want him to see the braces. He turned back one last time as he got on the elevator.

"Do we know him?" my friend asked, sounding confused.
"Should we know him?"
"Yep. Let me put it to you like this: on one hand, I'm thinking I should go to mini golf like I'm supposed to. On the other hand, I'm seriously thinking about crashing a baby shower," I said as I held out my arms to represent sides of a scale. (I went to mini golf).

I have been thinking since last night I really want to know who he is. So earlier this evening I did something out of character for me. I posted an ad on the missed connections section of Craigslist. I gave the intersection of the apartment building and said he was there for a party and I was the brunette in the green coat talking to my friend. I said he looked at us like he knew us and I want to meet him. I figure the worst that can happen-and the most likely scenario-is I will never get a response (well, actually the worst that can happen is that he is a psycho serial killer). But I definitely would get no response if I didn't put anything out there. And at least this way I can say I tried.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Boys! (Or not)

It turns out my last two posts were all for nothing. My friend passed along my e-mail address to her Facebook friend about 2 weeks ago and I never did hear from him. I guess he wasn't that interested after all. In all honesty, I can't say I am disappointed, but I know if I let myself really think about it, I would feel pretty down about it-that I'd think he was just one more guy on a long list who doesn't think I am attractive enough to pursue.

Since James died, I have had an interest in three men. The first was my widower friend. While we definitely have a connection, deep down I have always known we were never meant to be more than friends. He's a great guy and will make some woman very lucky some day but he is very adamant about not wanting pets and the guy for me will not only want me but my dogs too. With him, a part of it was also just wanting it to be as easy as God saying "Hey, I took James from you and his wife from him, and now I'm giving you each other to make up for it." But it doesn't work that way. I just hope that as life continues to take us down different paths, our friendship stays intact.

Then there was Volunteer Guy. Ah, Volunteer Guy. The man I have known for about 3 years now and who I started to see in a different light after he was the one person who I was comfortable enough around to let all my walls come crumbling down. (Astrologically, he's perfect for me too-and he loves dogs). But just as I was working up the nerve to ask him out, I found out he was back together with his ex. Sigh.

The latest is Cute Meetup Guy #1. There are actually two Cute Meetup Guys but the second one, whom I told my friend I was going to marry the night I met him, is not very active in the group and has not signed up for any more events. I met CMG #1 in December at his first event, which he has mentioned twice at recent events. He likes to read-he's reading one of my books now. He loves dogs and even likes cats (the only reason I don't have a cat is because Sammy is allergic to them). We have similar interests-we keep ending up at the same events. But at an event Tuesday, which he was not at, I found out another girl is interested. And she is much, much prettier than I am, really nice and really funny. I really like her-she's great. So, I told the girl that brought this up everything I knew about CMG #1 so this other girl could go for him. Why? Because I'm an idiot comes to mind. The simple truth is I did it because I have no reason to believe he is interested in me, which was pretty much confirmed yesterday.

There was an impromptu gathering Thursday night. The couple that hosted the event Tuesday decided to have some people over for snacks and drinks. Instead of posting it as an event, they just sent out e-mails to a handful of people inviting them over. They decided since the Other Girl was going to be there, they would invite CMG #1 as well, having only met him once. He decided to come and when all was said and done, he was pretty much the only one there who did not know this was done in deliberation to get him in the same room with Other Girl (they had only met once before). I was the first one to leave and I guess they hit it off pretty well. Well enough for him to walk her home and give her a good-night kiss on the cheek. As I have mentioned, I have been to several events with him and the most I have ever gotten was a handshake. I have seen him say good-bye to other girls in the group with a hug, but not me. I don't even get that much. And then yesterday he signed up for an event at the last minute that she was also going to. I was supposed to go to, but bailed at the last minute because I was so physically and emotionally exhausted. I was asleep on the couch before 7:00 last night and am still so tired after 14 1/2 hours of sleep.

I like them both and they are really cute together but I can't help but feel disappointed. I feel like this is my third strike and now I am out. I guess it depends on how I choose to look at it: if this was the legal system, I would be out. But if I view this like a game of baseball, (and I have compared dating to baseball before), then three strikes is just one at bat and since I'm just starting out, there is a lot of game left (speaking of which, the new season starts Monday. GO BRAVES!!). And it only takes one good hit to win the game...