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.