Thursday, November 30, 2006

On Music and Other Activities

Happened across this musician's blog this morning and had to share.
Comfort

Those of you who are in relationships cannot, in my humble opinion, fully appreciate the treasure you possess.

To have someone to come home to or who comes home to you; to have someone with whom to discuss the day's events or your concerns or your joys; to have someone to wrap his arms around you when all you want is just to be encircled by big manly arms. I miss that luxury.

Last night I ran up to the Gardener's after rehearsal to get an hour of face time. We just sat on the couch and watched (in my case, listened to) a program on television. WIth an arm around me, I put my head on his shoulder and let the busy-ness of the day melt away. What a lovely gift he gave me last night — the space and ability to relax.

To those of you in relationships, even those who are a mite disgruntled and wondering what it would be like out of that relationship, don't go there. The grass is not greener. You have something wonderful, even when you think it's not so wonderful, that you would surely miss if you lost it.

I envy you.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Trustwordiness

Today I'm thinking about men and the words they say. I refuse to believe that all men are not true to their words. But I sure have come across a bunch of them lately. Are they just after whatever they can get and will say whatever needs to be said to achieve that objective?

(And here I explicitly exempt the Kayaker, the Traveler, and the Gardener from the stereotype. But nobody else in my current little black book.)

The thing I've got going on with the Gardener now fits me like a glove. It's a very different relationship than any I think I've ever had. I'm just having fun, laughing, heavily into a good time being had by all. I'm not trying to peer into my crystal ball or predict anything that might happen a year from now. I'm just enjoying myself.

He's a good guy and Extreme Boy Scout, and even is willing to listen when I complain about hot flashes. Oh, BTW, I've decided in my next career I'll be a fashion designer with a line of clothing for hot flashy women. It will contain lots of layers and be easy on, easy off. Nothing that has to pull over the head. I'm dying here, and when I complained to my doctor yesterday, she just laughed (sympathetically).

But back to the Gardener. I'm not getting a thing done around the house because I'm spending so much time having fun. But that's a good thing, right?

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Chipping Away at Hope

Two of the characters in the novel "The Company" to which I'm currently listening are pursuing a romantic relationship. He says, "Every time I leave you, I leave a little piece of my heart with you." She replies, "Oh, I hope not. If that's so, then before long there will be none of your heart left."

This made me think about what happens when someone breaks up with me or a blossoming relationship fails.

I go into a potential relationship with my heart wide open. I hope this might be the ultimate relationship. I open myself up fully, holding nothing back. And then it ends, and I have a little less hope, a little less belief, than I had before.

How many times does this have to happen before there will be nothing left? Does hope (and one's heart) keep regenerating itself, like a lizard's tail? Does hope, springing eternal, allow one — after a sufficient period of recuperation — to believe again, to want again, to hope again? Is loneliness so powerful that it brings hope back to life?

So many questions; so few answers.
The New Rules

I've said any number of times that the Rules of Dating have changed in the time period since I was 17 or 18 and dating. My friend in Fredericksburg and I discussed this over dinner on Friday night. He agreed and asked that I keep him apprised of any rules I discern.

Here's Rule One, so far as I can see: If you're thinking of or planning on building something with a person or maintaining an existing something, you must communicate with that person. A text message or three line e-mail or a two minute phone call saying "I'm thinking of you" will suffice to keep the home fires burning. But a three day or three week or three month gap between communiqués will not!

The Gardener asked me over Sunday breakfast if I had heard from Mr. Match. My answer was no. I last heard from him about three weeks ago, when he said, in essence, "We need to talk. There was too much between us to just let it go." And I haven't heard from him since. I called once and left a message and he didn't return the call. And I told the Gardener that the more time that passes between Mr. Match's communications, the less inclined I am to let him back into my life. Right now the door is open just enough to to retrieve my CDs.

I come from a family that doesn't know how to communicate. I've spent my whole life trying to learn how to live differently — live correctly. I'm sure not going to revert to that dysfunctional behavior at this point in my life!

Monday, November 27, 2006

How Big is That Block, Anyway?

I had been traveling all day, hot flashing my way across North Carolina and Virginia. (This is a new experience, thanks to my doctor, and I'm not enjoying it at all. In case you were interested.) I arrived at the home of a lovely cultured, educated man with whom I've been maintaining an ongoing flirtation for six years. (We see each other annually at chorus events in Washington and I always wonder what it would be like to date him. Friday night we had our first date — dinner at a lovely restaurant in historic Fredricksburg, Virginia. He asked me!)

He offered the use of his shower when I expressed how grubby I felt after a day in the car. As I stepped into the bathroom, he handed me a freshly laundered, size-appropriate, terrycloth robe. Hmmm.

Now is this an indicator that he is a Southern gentleman accustomed to entertaining and hosting out-of-town guests that might have forgotten to pack a robe, or is this the first sign that the man is a player, having been around the block more than once? Is he used to having women shower in his home, or does he simply have a wonderfully-organized home? Not that there's anything wrong with that.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

On Boredom

Spending 36 hours with my mother last week forced me to think about retirement and lifestyles of the older American. My mother was trained as a nurse and worked until Daddy's medical practice was established. After my oldest brother was born, she didn't work outside the home again until after we three children were all gone from the house. Then she worked part-time for a couple of years as a secretary to help out her friend who owned a nursing home.

She spent much of her life as a housewife, and that lifestyle continues. The retirement home where she lives provides lots of activities: game night every Sunday (she plays a mean game of Scrabble and beat me two out of three on Thursday afternoon); a social hour two or three times a month; cooking classes; speakers; Bible studies; and on and on. And yet I look at the life she lives and deem it boring.

Mother is 93. She wakes up early, but doesn't really get up and get dressed until 9:00 or so. She goes to "dinner" at 11:30, then comes back to the apartment and takes a nap in the afternoon. She fixes a light supper for herself, then watches the news and goes to bed around 8:30. Once a week she walks 100 yards up the hill to visit her younger sister who has Parkinson's. A couple mornings a week, she might take a walk around the hospital across the street. In the summer she drives up to the mountain cottage, 80 miles away, for a week or so at a time. There she spends time reading or just sitting on the front porch.

And now that I write down everything she does, it sounds like a busy life. But living it with her for a day-and-a-half, all I could think was, "I don't want to live to my 90s. I don't want to live this way."

I have to confess that I do everything in my power to keep from being bored. On my trip last week, I took two programming books, my laptop, a crossword puzzle book, a Sudoku book, and a very long novel on my iPod. Oh, and seven CDs for the drive to North Carolina. I got most of the way through the Visual Basic for Access book, and finished two parts of the novel while driving. I listened to 10 minutes of one CD. I didn't even open the PHP book. God forbid that I ever spend a moment just sitting and thinking.

Today was beautiful in Tucson. I took the Gardener to breakfast to thank him for all the plant-watering and cat-feeding while I was gone, then we went and bought more pots and mulch and flowers and spent time working in the garden. When we were done, I would have loved to have just sat there, drinking in the gorgeous day. But instead I shooed him off because I have sewing and laundry and computer stuff to do.

Maybe there's a big difference between being bored and being contemplative. I need to clear things off my to-do list so I can spend more time being contemplative.

Oh yeah. I remember now. I need to learn to say "no"!

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Holy Tofu, Catman!

I arrived back in Washington at 10:00 last night after a long drive and a stop in the historic town of Fredericksburg, Virginia, for a delightful dinner at La Petite Auberge with a dear friend. I need to leave the hotel in an hour to get to National Airport, so this will be short and amended later.

Thanksgiving dinner with vegans is nothing like a real Thanksgiving dinner. There was no turkey, obviously. The mushroom gravy for the "roast" was, well, interesting. The butter for the homemade bread was not butter, but some odd concoction called "Millie's Miracle" or something like that. The pumpkin pie was made without eggs — can you even imagine what
that was like? It's like thick soup held in place by the whole wheat crust. The only caffeine I had for 36 hours came from the Excedrin I took for tension headaches.

For breakfast on Friday morning before I set out for my long drive, my mother fixed scrambled tofu and grits. Thank God for the grits. The tofu was inedible to me — I did open the curtains of my mind and take one bite, but that was all I could handle. She had homemade whole wheat toast, but when I asked for jelly to get the taste of the tofu out of my mouth, she offered guava jelly. When I declined that (I really do like "baba" jelly, as my daddy used to call it, but just wanted plain and ordinary strawberry or grape), she offered orange marmalade. Finally she dug around enough to find some raspberry jam. Then as I was pulling my bags together, she asked if I wanted a can of mango juice to take along in the car. I politely declined.

To all the vegans in the world, I mean no disrespect. But Good Lord, give me some options for normalcy. Please.

The Gardener has promised that my serving of turkey is waiting in his fridge for me. You can bet that on my drive back in from Sky Harbor this afternoon I'll be stopping in Continental Ranch to see what hugs and food I can forage from the kids and then heading to the Foothills to grab some of the Gardener's rotisserie turkey. Then I'll go into AJ's or Trader Joe's to get some real pumpkin pie, made with, By God, eggs.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Over the River and Through the Mountains

I'm off this morning to see Mother outside Asheville, NC. The rain will stay closer to the coast, I hope, as I drive down 81 along the Shenandoahs and the Blue Ridge.

I'm not sure how much access I'll have to the Internet until Friday night when I return to DC. I leave you with a couple of things to read while I'm gone — reviews of the fabulous concert I attended on Sunday.

Baltimore Sun

Washington Post

Happy Thankgiving. Think of me while you're feasting on turkey and dressing. I'll be eating fake turkey.

P.S. Two final notes about the concert:

Tim Page incorrectly identified the soloist in the Puckett. It was Michael Forrest, who has sung with the Washington Chorus on many occasions and is a dear friend of TWC and Bob Shafer, as well as Bob's colleague at Shenandoah Conservatory.

The tenor soloist who was contracted to sing this concert lost his father a week or so before the concert and felt he couldn't sing. Michael stepped in and learned the Puckett in three days, an incredible feat. Michael did a fabulous job on both the Puckett and the Mozart.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Blue Skies, Smilin' At Me
Travelogue Day Four

Absolutely gorgeous day in Washington today. Those of you who spend your time in places where it reaches 84 degrees on November 21st may not be able to adequately appreciate the energizing nature of a crisp 44 degree Autumn day.

In my opinion, one of the most beautiful places on earth is Rock Creek Park. Regardless of the season, there is something fabulous about the winding roads, piles of rocks, and Rock Creek sparkling along beside the road. It's one of my favorite places to be.

Today I drove up Rock Creek Parkway to visit my mother-in-law at Knollwood (the Army Distaff House) on Oregon Avenue, NW. I've been putting this visit off since I arrived, but knew I had to make the trek today. I drove up Ridge Road and saw a white horse carrying a rider in teal jacket and jeans up the trail through the woods. Then as I rounded a curve, three bicyclists in bright fleece jackets pumped by. The sky was an incredibly brilliant blue. After all that eye candy, I was up for whatever my mother-in-law had to dish out.

The woman at the desk took me down to her room and I said "Faye, it's Jan". She expressed no acknowledgement. I again said, "Faye, it's Jan". She said, "yes". The aide wheeled her down to the seating area outside the dining room, and I sat and attempt to chat with her. She said, "We miss John, don't we?" So I knew she knew who I was. She asked where I was living now, and I told her Tucson. Then I told her I had been in contact with John's son, and asked if she knew they had a new baby. She said yes. Then I asked how often she sees John's brother. She replied "once a week" and told me they were off on a trip to SE Asia. I knew this to be true, so felt somewhat buoyed by her mental acuity. She reminded me she would be 100 on her next birthday, in July. And then she said "thank you for coming." I tried to stretch the conversation on a little, but after another minute or so, she again said, "thank you for coming." I knew I had been dismissed. I had been with her about six-and-a-half minutes, after not seeing her for over two years.

I don't know why the visit made me want to cry. I think it's related to my longstanding desire to have a close family. I had that in my marriage to John, before his death. Now, with the impending departure of Tyler and Jaci, I'm feeling alone again, unnaturally. From there I drove to Arlington National Cemetery and spent a few minutes at John's niche in the columbarium, telling him I missed him, shedding tears for the wonderful life we had that I can't seem to replicate, no matter how hard I try.

And despite the sadness of these two visits, it feels so right to be back in D.C. I saw my old house peeking over the hill as I drove up Rock Creek. I drove through areas of upper Georgetown that I had never seen before. My kids call me the Queen of the Back Roads, because I have a great sense of direction and can always remember what roads go in which direction. Tyler has been known to call my cell in Tucson when he's trying to find his way around Washington, just to ask directions. It was great fun getting reacquainted with George Washington Memorial Parkway, Nebraska Avenue, Key Bridge — all these roads that I have traveled for so many years.

It's been a beautiful day. I went into my law school to get a glimpse of the new building. I drove through the American University campus. I had a lovely dinner with my college roommate who is now a two-star general in the Air Force.

And it all felt right.

And yes, I spent some time on Monster.com and USAjobs.opm.gov and Washingtonpost.com, just looking around, just seeing what's out there.

Here's a touch of humor for you: I made my daily check-in call to my 93yo
mother yesterday afternoon. I said, "I'm having dinner with Bruce tonight." She replied, "Where do you pick up all these men?" I said, "Mother. My cousin, Bruce." What, does she think I'm just picking up pennies from the pavement?!

Another touch of humor: As I was leaving Knollwood, I heard an announcer on the radio say "irregardless . . .". Of course my ears perked up. Then I listened and remember how much I used to love the Don Beyer Volvo superpunny radio spots.

Ah, home.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Jiggety Jig
Travelogue Day Three

Cold and gray in Washington today and I'm loving every minute of it.

I took the Metro to the Smithsonian to have lunch with my friend Risa. I've had a Metro farecard hanging on the bulletin board in my sewing room since January of 2000, and it was still good! Risa and I caught up and talked about possibilities like my returning to DC. She was away for 14 years and found, when she moved back, that you just pick up and fit right in again.

I arrived early for lunch and spent half an hour in the Freer Gallery. I can't believe that in the entire 16 years I lived in Washington, I never visited the Freer. But I think I have a much greater appreciation for the contents after moving to Tucson and taking classes in pottery and glass. To see glass bottles made in the 14th and 15th centuries B.C., and to see pots glazed in 1200 A.D. — I was amazed.

Dinner was delightful with my cousin — catching up on family stuff. He, along with everyone else to whom I have spoken, encourages me to come back to Washington.

We'll see . . . .

Sunday, November 19, 2006

History
Travelogue Day Two

What an incredible day I've had. I was privileged to attend a performance of The Washington Chorus at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. The performance included a Beethoven choral work I'd never heard, a world premiere, and an exquisite performance of the Mozart Requiem.

For those who don't know, I sang with The Washington Chorus off-and-on(depending on school course load) from 1984 through 1999. John and I met through the annual chorus auction. My dearest friends in Washington are all singers with this chorus. I first met the conductor, Bob Shafer, in 1971 when I was studying with Nadia Boulanger in Fontainebleau, France.

Today's performance was the final major performance before Maestro Shafer steps down as music director and conductor. My trip to Washington was solely because of today's performance. And the trip was worth every penny.

The Beethoven, Elegischer Gesang, Op. 118, was a first hearing for me and was absolutely lovely. The world premiere was This Mourning by Joel Puckett. It was commissioned by The Washington Chorus in memory of the Pentagon victims of Septembaer 11, 2001. The work was scored for chorus and orchestra and tuned water glasses. Lovely. Eerie. Just an incredible feast for the ears. I want to call every choral conductor I know and say, program this work!

The second half of the concert was a stellar performance of the Mozart Req. At the end of the performance, on the second curtain call, the chorus rose as a person and turned to face Maestro Shafer and applauded him. This is unheard of - for a chorus to stand and applaud the conductor. It was an extremely moving moment.

Afterwards, I attended a reception for the major contributors in one of the Kennedy Center Concert Hall reception rooms, then walked over to the Watergate Hotel for another reception organized by the chorus. I had been asked to say a few words. I stood at the front of a room of 180 people and said, "My name is Jan Crews" and the room burst into applause. Can you imagine? It was home. I was home. My heart is full tonight from all the hugs I received throughout the evening.

The history you share with people you've known for five and ten and twenty years. Well, there's quite simply nothing like it.
Wanna know why we don't have a Nordstrom in Tucson?

Because I wouldn't be able to pay my mortgages!

I came. I saw. I shopped.
Daylight Savings Time

See what we miss in Arizona? A fallback party!
Old Questions, New Questions

I find it very curious that the theme of religion has started popping up. For some strange reason, the past four or five days have each contained significant conversations with friends, old and new, on that topic.

A new friend is instrumental in a nearby church in Tucson and is looking for a music director. She asked if I would consider assuming that position. I immediately responded "no way, no how", following that swift response with my standard mantra, "too much evil has been done to me in the name of Christianity throughout my life." She quickly said, "oh, we're not Christian". Well, that threw me. Anytime I think of the word "church", I associate that with "Christian".

Yesterday in the Phoenix and Cincinnati airports, I kept running into a handsome man from outside Charlottesville, one of my favorite cities in the world. We spent much of our waiting-for-the-plane-to-board time chatting about various topics, among them "being single". I told him my Adventist>Baptist>Lutheran>Mormon>Golfer line about religion, and he asked if I would ever consider a religious golfer. I found that statement humorous, and it again made me start thinking about the place of religion in my life.

What was always important to me in religion was the music. During sermons, I would design dresses or rearrange rooms in my head. But the music was what was meaningful to me and could bring fullness to my heart and tears to my eyes. I grew up attending church every Saturday morning. Even though I abandoned that practice in my late teens, the "rightness" of the seventh-day Sabbath was very deeply ingrained, such that attending church on Sunday never seemed quite right.

But I did. And I attempted to embrace the religion of whatever man I was associated with at the time. (Except the golf. John always told me I didn't have the personality to be a golfer. So I embraced my fabric religion anytime he he worshipped at Our Lady of the Greens.)

When I stop to examine the role of religion in my life, I am struck with my "go along" nature. What I have wanted in my life, what I want as I try to find a man to enhance my life, is to be accepted, to be loved, to be a part of something. I want to be a part of someone's life. I want to be someone's [insert label here]. Girlfriend, sweetheart, partner, lover, significant other, honey, family, . . . . Fortunately, I am able to [or] Unfortunately, I am willing to — do whatever it takes to make that happen.

Is this why eHarmony won't accept me? I'm too adaptable? I'm willing to subsume whoever I am to become whoever I need to be to have a happy life? Or what seems like it could become a happy life?

Is this peculiar to me or to my Little Adoptee, or is that a common trait of lonely midlife singles? Unfortunately, I'm afraid it's not a common trait, and I'm not sure it's a good thing in me.

I come back to Tyler and others telling me it's time to have my own life. But I don't know what that life is, who that person is. And I don't know how to get there. And I come back to the bottom line: I'm lonely and I don't like living a lonely life.

And, contrary to what my mother tells me [frequently], I don't think asking God or Jesus to fix it will make any difference. Maybe I'm wrong. Not sure I'm willing to try prayer again to prove myself wrong.

Tyler tells me one of the reasons they have decided to move back to Youngstown is to have a spiritual life. (I think that's what he said. I was in such shock when he told me of this decision, I'm not sure what I heard during that conversation!) His statement surprised me and I want to know what he means by that. He and TJ were raised very religiously by their father, and I'm always curious with how they have reconciled that as adults.

Tyler recently told me about a book that talks about religion and why people turn to religion in their lives. (Ty, can you please add a comment here with the title of the book? I can't remember it.) Something about people needing some way to explain things they couldn't understand.

I live by the tenet that things work out the way they're supposed to. I look back at my life, at all the various smart or poor choices, and see them as building blocks to who I am today. I was taught as a child that one prays to God, and closes the prayer with "Thy will be done." And then God would answer, and the answer might be "yes" and it might be "no". So many people look at prayer as a way of getting what they want. But if the answer could be "yes" or "no", then that's not a way of getting what they want. What is it? How different is that from my "things work out the way they're supposed to"?

I was raised to believe that Seventh-day Adventists were right and everybody else was wrong. Many religions and religious denominations teach the same thing. As an adult, I have said I don't think anybody has all the answers, I don't think anybody knows the definitive answer, and when we get to wherever it is we're going when all this is over, we'll learn the answers.

I went to law school thinking everything was black and white. Then I learned everything was gray. Many, many shades of gray. Maybe that's what all of life is — just a lotta shades of gray.

I'm thinking of starting my own religion: Be Nice, Be Kind.

Would you excuse me now, please? It's Sunday morning. I've got to go worship at my favorite church: Nordstrom Pentagon City. The Shoe God is waiting.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

I'm home!
Travelogue Day One

I am madly and passionately in love with Washington, D.C.

There is absolutely nothing like flying into National at night, with miles and miles of lights spread out beneath the airplane. We approached from the northwest, paralleling but not right over the Potomac. I saw the Beltway, I-66, Dulles Toll Road. Then we turned to the south and flew over Springfield. Then we turned and approached up the Potomac from the south, over the Woodrow Wilson bridge. Suddenly the Capitol and the Washington Monument were in sight. Take my breath away. Takes my breath away every time I see that sight. It is the most delicious eye candy in the world. (Yes, even more than all the well-dressed men on the East Coast!)

I put my coat on as I got on the Hertz bus. Everyone looked at me like I was crazy, but — 'scuse me &mdash by Tucson standards it's cold here! I had ordered a midsize vehicle; Ford Taurus is the example the Hertz Web site gives. They must have been out of Tauruses, because they gave me a Ford Freestyle — a seven-passenger SUV! This should be very comfortable for my 8-hour drives on Wednesday and Friday, but I'm wondering if they know something about impending weather that I don't know!

I was able to find my hotel without turning on the Neverlost, and drove by "my" Nordstrom to get here. My room is on the 16th floor, overlooking the Pentagon. I can see the door where I used to drop John when we car-pooled to work. When I lean into the window and look out to the left, I can see the new Air Force memorial, all lit up in the night. Gorgeous.

Now I have my Washington Post in hand, and am going to change into my jammies and unwind.

Tomorrow: a visit with my mother-in-law and a concert and post-concert party.
Leavin' On a Jet Plane

Heading for DC to hear beautiful music and eat and drink with old friends. More later.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Interesting? Me?

I had two people in one day say I live such an interesting life. Wowzers! I'd better start rethinking.
And just what is the universe trying to tell me?

So in this time when I have so many thoughts of where to go and what to do, I just picked up a very high profile gig playing the piano for the mayor's birthday party tonight! Hmmmm.
Interesting or Mundane?

John's niece in Saudi Arabia writes to check-in and asks how I'm doing, saying "You lead such an interesting life." I don't know if I would categorize my life as "interesting."

The recurring theme is "I want more and I want it right now."

Who said, "Good things come to those who wait"? I don't like waiting, and I don't like all the looking around, saying "Is it you? Are you he? Can our life begin?"

And at the same time, the Boy Scout/Gardener/All-Around Good Guy (who admits to having been a Cub Scout but never a Boy Scout) is filling my time with laughter, and that's a pretty nice way to live while I'm waiting.

If you didn't read the comment left by TJ on yesterday's post, go, read. I laughed out loud.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Boy Scouts and Other Good Guys

I don't know if the Gardener was ever a Boy Scout. But he's someone whom I know I can turn to if I need help. If I need an idea for what to plant in my microgarden, or advice on lighting in the house, or an opinion on the longevity of my tires, or brute strength and energy to move junk around in the storage shed, he's there — ready, willing, able and enthusiastic.

Can you imagine what a boost to my spirit it is to have someone I know I can depend on? I'm not normally a person who asks for help. I'm the person who gives help, who sacrifices all my time to help others. I think maybe what I'm seeing in the Gardener is what others see in me!

Dependability. Wow! That's a fabulous trait in a man!

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Continuing in the same vein

Today's Daily Thought from RealSimple.com

Nothing is more difficult, and therefore more precious, than to be able to decide.
— Napoleon Bonaparte
What to Do? What to Do?

Tyler called me this afternoon to tell me Boston was coming home sick from kindergarten and to ask if I could get off of work to babysit. It broke my heart to say, "no; all my vacation is used up; almost all my sick leave is used up."

Immediately I started agonizing over the fact that there will be very few days left when I can be the nearby doting grandma. It gives me the feeling of an enormous vacuum in my soul. These babies have been my life for five and three years, respectively. Now I'll be alone.

I'm seeing a terrifically nice guy and having more fun than I've had in a very long time. But I don't feel he's moving in the direction of falling in love with me. I don't feel a sense of future-togetherness. (And I don't think I'm talking out of school here. The Gardener and I have talked about such things and I believe he feels the same. He'll correct me if I'm wrong!)And Mr. Match, whom I thought I could project future-togetherness with — well, he's being ultra-flaky. He'll call but not leave a message. He'll ignore my text messages. He'll say, "let's get together on Sunday" and then Sunday comes and goes with no word from him. I guess I need to chalk him up to what everyone's been saying for seven weeks now: "he's just not that into you."

My family is leaving and I'm feeling at loose ends.

After Tyler's call, I started thinking about the possibility of quitting work and moving to Youngstown so I could continue to be the nearby doting grandma, on-call for whatever service I could provide.

Do you know I could get a darling condominium on the golf course for about $100,000?! I could join the country club and learn to play bridge! (Or I could have time to dye silk and throw pots and solder stained glass. That's really more my style than playing bridge.)

The Gardener tells me it's time to think about myself, to have my own life. Interesting — that pretty much echoes what Tyler tells me he wants for me. But I don't want a life alone. And I see no signs of my life being anything but alone.

Fortunately I'm not inclined to make any rash decisions here. But my head is whirling and my heart is aching.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

One Big Circle

Do you ever feel like we singles are all just missing each other? This guy has feelings for that girl, who has feelings for some other guy, who has feelings for some other girl, and on and on until it comes back to the first guy. So we fill our time with Mr. or Ms. Available, never quite finding Mr. or Ms. Right.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Conclusions, Confusions, and Stereotypes

The Gardener and I are dancing around how to categorize what we've got goin' on. I told him last night that I had serious questions about getting involved with someone who still has teenagers in and out of the house.

I don't have great step-whatever history. The most egregious example is the 16yo learning-disabled stepson who threatened to shoot me if I told him to pick up his dirty clothes off the floor. A much less horrifying example is the 19yo stepdaughter who called us almost every day on our five-day honeymoon and then secreted her dad in her room for over an hour as we walked in the door from that trip.

When John broke up with me the first time around, part of the issue (which he only told me about later) was the fact that Tyler had just come to live with me/us. He had raised his teenagers himself, had had significant challenges with his son, and simply didn't want to have to live through a similar situation again. After we got back together, John grew to love Tyler deeply and would do everything in his power to help "El Tigre" wherever needed.

As we were talking last night, the Gardener said, "But you haven't met [insert name of 16yo son]." I countered, "well, I've seen him." I.e. I know he exists; he knows I exist.

But as I thought about this interchange after I got home last night, I came to think that maybe what the Gardener was saying was, "They're not all alike. All 16yo's are not alike." I never had a moment's trouble from Tyler during all the time he lived with me. I had trouble with a 16yo learning-disabled kid who would have given anybody trouble.

Maybe I need to stop with the conclusion-jumping.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Group Definitions

The Gardener questions that he has a harem. He says if he does have a harem, he wants to know where it is (so he can take advantage of it?). I told him maybe coterie was a more appropriate word, but I'd have to look it up so I could be sure.

So here are the definitions:

1) clique: an exclusive circle of people with a common purpose;

2) A group of two or more tribal members and visitors who meet regularly for religious, ritual, or ceremonial purposes (Hmmmm); or how about

3) An intimate group of people unified by a common interest or purpose.

Innuendo, outuendo. (she grinned, mischievously)

Saturday, November 11, 2006

And if I had a magic wand, I'd . . .

wave it and make everyone's history go away, or make history totally inconsequential.

I'm having a little problem with the harems possessed by men who have been around the block more than once. It's my problem. I own it. I'm not expecting any man over 50 to change his ways, so I've got to respect his ways or, given that every man [and woman] has a history, resign myself to living alone the rest of my life. That's not what I want, so guess I need to work on my attitude.

To me, dealing with all these histories and cadres of acquaintances is absolutely exhausting!

Friday, November 10, 2006

Wants and Diswants

Conceptualizing about what I want in a man-in-my-life, and what I don't want.

At the top of the list today is someone who wants to be with me, who can't stand to let a day pass without hearing my voice. Versus someone who has to be convinced to be with me.

And someone who can put on a presentable shirt when he's going to be with me, versus someone who owns no shirts that aren't stained and can't be bothered to go spend $20 on a new polo shirt to look like he cares about his appearance. (Now don't anybody go getting paranoid on me here. This is ancient history speaking.)

A friend who is loving versus a lover who's not a very good friend.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Thoughts in a Tube

I experienced half an hour of forced seclusion yesterday morning while undergoing an MRI of my brain. They found nothing. ;-)

It's interesting the thoughts that go through your mind when you're placed into a situation like that. (Note to the PianoLady: I took the soundtrack from "Wicked" 'cause I couldn't find "Light in the Piazza" as I was walking out of the house at 6:00 a.m. "Wicked" was perfect for the occasion — just enough stridency to offset the loud clicking and whirring and knocking of the MRI machine.)

As I was lying there, I thought back to life before all these machines were developed. Both CT scan and MRI machines were introduced in the 70s. Before the invention of all these marvelous machines, diagnosticians' hands were frequently tied by a lack of clear, definitive information. Now, doctors can know very quickly of changes to almost any part of the body. As a result, life expectancies are increasing with each passing year. The ramifications are far-reaching: witness the "sandwich generation" who must care for both their children and their parents.

My mother is 93 years old, my mother-in-law is 99. My MIL doesn't enjoy her life and has wished, for at least ten years, to be done here. My mother, on the other hand, seems to enjoy each day. She still drives, she needs no help taking care of herself. She has outlived one [younger] sister and is in far better health than the two remaining [younger] sisters. I'm only related to her by law, so thank God I don't have to say "those longevity genes are going to keep me around."

Quite frankly, I don't want to live to my 90s. I'm not sure I want to live to my 80s. My life has been challenging. There have been far more difficulties than joys. How many total difficulties must one endure before enough is enough? I frequently think that I would like to learn whatever lesson I've got to learn so I can check out.

Of course, as I say that my grandbabies come to mind, and I think how much I'm enjoying watching them grow up. And that makes me want to live forever. Is that the purpose of children and grandchildren? To make one want to continue despite the difficulties.

But to bring this whole discussion back to dating over 50: About two hours after I got back to the office I had a voicemail from my doctor's office. The lab tech had already told me that the doctor would have the results in about 48 hours. And the call was not from my doctor; from the on-call doctor. She left a voicemail on my office phone saying she was trying to reach me. Then she left a message on my cell saying she had received the test results and needed follow-up. I immediately called back and she was in with a patient so I had to leave a message and wait for her return call. For the next twenty minutes, my mind raced. Was it cancer? Was it a brain tumor? What if I couldn't work, how would I pay my many mortgages? Would I lose my job? Would I lose my home? Who would care for me? My children are leaving; what's going to happen to me?

Trust me, if jumping to conclusions ever becomes an Olympic event, I'm a gold medal winner!

Someone in a committed long-term relationship or marriage at least knows she has someone to turn to. She may not know the quality of care that her S.O. will provide, or whether the care will be willingly and/or lovingly provided, but she knows she has someone to turn to.

During the twenty minutes of panic, I pinged my buddy in the next office, who has had significant health issues of his own over the years, and told him what was happening. He quickly [and correctly] said, "it's probably nothing." And I pinged the Gardener and said, "I'm scared. I'll call you when I know more." I don't know if I scared the bejeebies out of him, but I appreciated having him far enough into my life that I could reach out to him that way. When I had finally heard from the doctor and called him, he was wonderfully supportive. Most of all, he was there.

That's a pretty spectacular quality in a man: to be there.

P.S. It's a 3cm incidence of fibrous dysplasia, which is always benign. I was diagnosed with fibrous dysplasia in 1997, during John's illness. It's no big deal, so I forget to mention it to doctors unless specifically asked. It's still there and I'll take the films from the diagnosis so the doctor can compare it to yesterday's films. No big deal. Thanks for asking. ;-)

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

What's the Point, Really?

I tried to call Mr. Match last night. I wanted to return his books and retrieve my CDs before I leave for Washington next week. He didn't answer. I can only assume he's out with yet another woman he saw on Match. (I don't know it for a fact. But I can jump to conclusions with the best of 'em.)

Anyway, the thought of his hot and cold running women made me wonder what that must be like. I like going out to dinner as much as the next gal, but the tension of continually meeting new people, or the first few dates with someone — well, it's not relaxing, it's not comforting and nurturing. It's exciting to a point; after that, it's just tedious.

When Mr. Match and I were at our five-dates-a-week stage, I loved seeing him. I missed him on the nights when he was otherwise occupied and couldn't wait to hear his voice on the next phone call. We very quickly slipped from lightning striking the table to old-shoe comfortable. I loved that. It was absolutely magical. And then his phone calls stopped with the snap of a finger (mine) and I went from feeling nurtured and loved to feeling ignored and abandoned and uncared-for.

I think maybe I don't want lightning to strike any more tables in my life. When the smoke dissipates, the emptiness is too great, the loneliness too overwhelming. Could bumper cars be better than a roller coaster? Could the Grand Prix Raceway be better than Space Mountain? Maybe for me the answer is yes.

What I've got going on now with the Gardener is just plain fun. I laugh. Ms. Too-Serious-for-Her-Own-Good is actually laughing on a regular basis. Hot Damn, it's fun. I don't have expectations for next month, much less next week. But I'm having a great time.

Maybe the older we get, the less serious we get. And maybe that's not a bad thing.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Is Past Behavior a Reliable Predictor of Future Conduct?

Today is one month from when I first met the Gardener face-to-face. I didn't want to know that. I wanted to just kinda sail with and through this relationship without marking months and without even knowing when three months was approaching or passing. But I glanced back at my Google calendar the other day and realized I met him on my lifelong best friend's and my sister-in-law's birthday. Many good things were started on that day. (Well, it's also the anniversary of my first marriage, so . . . . Alright, there were two good things came out of that!)

So I've started wondering why this bevy of former girlfriends — who still call him up and ask him out for dinner on a regular basis — broke up with him. What were they looking for that they didn't see in him? If they didn't-like him enough to stop seeing him romantically, why do they still want to see him socially? Is he the type of guy who is everybody's best friend but nobody's lover?

I don't get it. I don't believe there has been one man in my life that I wanted to still see after breaking up with him. Am I narrow-minded?

Is it just money? Do these women want to enjoy a restaurant and a little male company and they know he'll pick up the check? Is he just a non-threatening man? I wouldn't insult these women he holds in such high esteem by insinuating they're just trying to save a few bucks while having an enjoyable evening. There's got to be more to it than that.

<personal note on>
He told me he gave some of these women this URL. If you're one of his women friends, I'd love for you to add a comment here and 'splain it to me.
<personal note off>

But back to today's topic. Should I be alert for red flags? Should I know what they know or what they perceived as I get deeper into this relationship as a forewarning or a sanity check? Or should I just say "lucky me" that they didn't snatch him up and I get to enjoy his attention and his sense of humor and his joie de vivre?

That's it. Maybe I'll try some new behavior — not worrying about every fricking little thing. Their loss is my gain.

[I am absolutely not complaining. I am not threatened by these women, as I was by Mr. Match's ex-fiance and all his Match.com women. The Gardener's dinner non-dates with his woman friends gives me time to do my laundry!]

Monday, November 06, 2006

Traits and Characteristics

There's a lot to be said for honest, dependable, hard-working and thoughtful (along with major cuteness). It beats a cashmere sports jacket in the closet any day!
Another chapter finished

For those who have been taking note of my busy schedule, one item was completed this weekend with the Tucson Chamber Artists' performances on Saturday night and Sunday afternoon. The review appears in today's Arizona Daily Star.

I was honored to be invited to join this group for these performances, but am relieved that it's over. I went to bed at 7:30 last night and got up at 5:30 this morning! A body can only stand so much activity!

Sunday, November 05, 2006

The Gardener's Impact on My Life

Here's one impact the Gardener has had on my life. He's got this two-brown-thumbs gal wanting to create Eden in the backyard. Here are two offerings into evidence of today's activities.



Saturday, November 04, 2006

There is Nothing Like a Dame, er, Guy

You know the song from South Pacific? Well, I've decided there's nothing like a guy who listens to what you say and alters his behavior accordingly.

You're reading this. You know who you are. Thanks.
A New World Order

I've been thinking about my three-month clock, by which relationships live or die. And I've decided there oughta be a better way to live in a relationship while seeing how it's going to fare.

I think once you decide that maybe there's some sort of future with a specific person, then if you want to pursue and explore that relationship, you should take out a one-month contract. Focus only on that relationship, foresaking all others, for one month. At the end of the month, decide whether you want to continue for another month or go back to non-exclusivity or call it quits altogether.

After several one-month renewals, maybe extend the next contract to two months, then three. Hell, once you decide it's a keeper, maybe you'd take it in one-year renewable contracts. Maybe there's logic to this scheme replacing the traditional till-death-do-us-part plan.
Mozart on a Small Scale
Continuing Off-Topic

I sang off-and-on for 15 years with The Washington Chorus, which was roughly 200 voices. Then I moved to the Tucson Symphony Orchestra Chorus, which is usually 80 voices, although we keep trying to get to 100. This weekend I'm singing with the Tucson Chamber Artists. The chorus, for this performance, is 30 voices, and is accompanied by a 24-piece orchestra.

The last time I performed the Mozart C-minor Mass, it was on the stage of the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, with a full orchestra in front. Performing this work now in such a small group is just incredible. A singer in a small group must work harder than ever to blend, to be one of the ensemble rather than sticking out. The sound is so wonderful, so exciting. I'm absolutely thrilled to have been asked to join this group for these performances.

Truly, a wonderful experience.

Friday, November 03, 2006

My Musical Weekend
Totally Off-Topic

Here are previews of this weekend's Mozart C-minor Mass.

Arizona Daily Star (I'm one of the "six additional vocalists.")
Northwest Explorer
How to Live

This morning's Writer's Almanac includes Charles Harper Webb's poem, "How to Live". The line "Have kids if you want and can afford them, but don't make them your reason-to-be." smacked me upside the head.

I don't know if I agree with Mr. Webb, but I am guilty as charged.
What's It All About?

Last night I received a long entertaining, deliciously delightful e-mail from a dear old friend (old dear friend?) who Googled me and found this blog. (He's five months younger than I, so he's not old!) He asks to be referred to as the utopian church mouse, so UCM it is. He and I (along with Tyler, for a while) toiled in the halls of the MasterMicroManagerLawyerBoss who could be quite kind and generous, but could also turn around and be a major PITA. But I still list him on my résumé so I guess he wasn't too much of a PITA.

I've never mentioned that EEFFH's surname is Pink. UCM wished me success in finding a NPSO - a non-Pink significant other. I laughed out loud.

I discovered this e-mail after a long telephone conversation with Mr. Match. We were talking about how each of us projects the future, solely as it relates to us personally, not as it relates to each other or us as the almost-couple we once were. He said how some nights he comes home to his apartment and he's glad that he's there alone, eating his meager bowl of soup and working on the computer. But some nights he comes home and says, "Is this all there is?"

As we were talking, I had a brief mental image of being alone for the rest of my life. What's the purpose? Really, what's the frigging purpose?

I have friends, but they all have families. My family is days away from moving several thousand miles across the U.S. I go to work. I come home. I rehearse to make beautiful music for people to enjoy. I work on the computer to make life and business easier for several organizations. I sew. I communicate via e-mail with friends in distant cities. That's it. That's my life. I'm working up my courage to get on the back of the Traveler's motorcycle. I'm trying to soak up knowledge from the Gardener's brain to make my backyard nicer. But, IMHO, this is not a life. This is an existence. This is not much different from the put-one-foot-in-front-of-the-other existence I had during John's illness.

Where is joy? Where is passion? Not to whine about it, but my joy is moving to Ohio! I think I've said it in this venue before: e-mail and webcams and phones are all well and good, but they're nothing like Boston and Riah racing across the room shouting, "Grandma, Grandma" when I walk through the door.

Yes, I'm impatient. I want a life. And I want it now. Coming home to two cats is not the same as coming home to a beloved human which whom I'm working on common life goals.

And I know I can't have it right now. That's just the long and the short of it. So sit down for a minute while I polish my shoes so I can put one foot in front of the other.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Reasons

More clever lines from Being Alone

"You've got so many reasons for not being with someone, but Robert, you haven't one good reason for being alone."
Love and Disillusionment

The music I'm listening to this week at work is the soundtrack from Stephen Sondheim's Company. The cabaret group I'm involved with is going to perform several songs from this show next year, so I'm trying to get it in my ear. I will tell you that Getting Married Today is pianistically brutal and musically awkward. What fiend writes in G-flat major?! Oh yeah, Sondheim does.

Company was first staged in 1970. The show's central character is Bobby, a thirty-something bachelor surrounded by five couples who are his best friends but in varying states of happiness and unhappiness with their respective marriages. One of my favorite scenes is "Barcelona", where he begs the one-night stand stewardess (yes, that's what we called them then) — whom he calls "June" although her name is "April" — not to leave for Barcelona. She succumbs to his pleas, only to realize they were merely pro forma.

But the song that caught my ear today and seemed appropriate for quoting here is "Being Alive".


Someone to hold you too close
Someone to hurt you too deep
Someone to sit in your chair
And ruin your sleep
And make you aware of being alive

Someone to need you too much
Someone to know you too well
Someone to pull you up short
And put you through hell
And give you support for being alive-being alive
Make me alive, make me confused
Mock me with praise, let me be used
Vary my days, but alone is alone, not alive!

Somebody hold me too close
Somebody force me to care
Somebody make me come through
I'll always be there
As frightened as you of being alive,
Being alive, being alive!

Someone you have to let in
Someone whose feelings you spare
Someone who, like it or not
Will want you to share a little, a lot of being alive
Make me alive, make me confused
Mock me with praise, let me be used
Vary my days, but alone is alone, not alive!

Somebody crowd me with love
Somebody force me to care
Somebody make me come through
I'll always be there
As frightened as you to help us survive,
Being alive, being alive, being alive, being alive


For me, being in a relationship that I know we are both committed to is being alive. The occasional pain inherent in two people living together and sharing a life would be worth it to me to have someone in my life, to not be alone. I miss having someone who knows me too well, who pulls me up short, who isn't afraid to confront me and cajole me and love me.

Alone is alone.

<Sidebar to the PianoLady on>
Looks like a Company revival opens in the Ethel Barrymore Theatre (right around the corner from our Marriott) on November 29th. If it's still running next October, this may need to be one of our shows.
<Sidebar off>

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Heads versus Hands

I'm reading (listening to) The Company by Robert Littell. I love movies and novels set in Washington, D.C., and my stepdaughter used to work for the "Company" — I'm enjoying this book greatly.

A statement by a female character who is a CIA trainer grabbed my ear as relevant to this blog:

You beautiful boys never get it right. And you won't get it right until you lose your beauty. It's not your beauty that seduces us, but your voices, your words. We are seduced by your heads, not your hands.

I've stated before that I don't like the long e-mail and phone relationships that typically go along with meeting someone online. I believe those protracted communications engender a false sense of intimacy. I can so easily fall in love with the way a person writes and speaks (witness: EEFFH) and yet find no connection when we meet face-to-face. This character's words reassure me that I'm not alone.