Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Motivations

I work extra hard to be a good grandma — supporting, nurturing, caring, dependable — sometimes in part to compensate for my failures as a mother. In that vein I share with you today's edition of The Writer's Almanac. The poem was written by David Ray, from Music of Time: Selected and New Poems. © The Backwaters Press.


Thanks, Robert Frost

Do you have hope for the future?
someone asked Robert Frost, toward the end.
Yes, and even for the past, he replied,
that it will turn out to have been all right
for what it was, something we can accept,
mistakes made by the selves we had to be,
not able to be, perhaps, what we wished,
or what looking back half the time it seems
we could so easily have been, or ought...
The future, yes, and even for the past,
that it will become something we can bear.
And I too, and my children, so I hope,
will recall as not too heavy the tug
of those albatrosses I sadly placed
upon their tender necks. Hope for the past,
yes, old Frost, your words provide that courage,
and it brings strange peace that itself passes
into past, easier to bear because
you said it, rather casually, as snow
went on falling in Vermont years ago.
Surprising, Even to Me

Throughout 2006, I was obsessed with relationships, either of finding one or being able to stay in one. Now, with the current chaos in my life with the imminent departure of my babies and thinking about moving and getting a different job — along with this recent almost-hookup with Old Beau — I find myself apathetic about relationships. It'll happen or it won't. There's not much I can do about it except be available if it happens to happen.

Kinda liberating, dontcha think?

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Reliving Life

Old Beau continues to call and talk about the future, even though I'm noncommittal and even a tad frosty. Then I remember 1999. We didn't really have a six-month relationship. We had a three/three relationship — three months of relationship, then three months of my trying to get him to hear that I was breaking up with him. It was not until I met Steve and said to him, "I have met someone else" that he could hear we were done.

Oh, for a man who can hear and comprehend.

BTW, I saw Mr. Match on Thursday night and said to him I wasn't his booty call. I believe I told him if he wanted a relationship with me, he had to have a relationship with me, not call me once every two weeks and say, "we need to talk". So last night he called me from the plane at LAX as he was ready to depart for ten days on business in New Zealand. He said we'd be in touch and he'd see me when he got back. Time will tell.

Monday, January 29, 2007

The Power of Family

Anyone who knows me well knows all I've ever wanted was a close family. I think several of my marriages and a number of relationships were driven by that need.

So any man who thinks he's going to have a long-term relationship with me is going to have to pass the family test — my kids have to be able to sit across a holiday table from him without wanting to run screaming from the room.

I mentioned to Ty and Jaci at dinner last night that Old Beau had resurfaced. Jaci's response: "Yuck!" Ding - ding - ding. You're out.

That was fast and clean.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Sahhhh-loot
to Weight Watchers

This morning I thought I'd try on my skinny jeans that I haven't worn in about 18 months. Hot damn! They fit.
Apples Falling From Trees

Yesterday I had a conversation with Bob Wade, whom I've known as long as I can remember. We went to the same church as kids, then the same elementary school and high school. In two months we will join our classmates at our 40th high school reunion.

He had taken his aunt to dinner after church yesterday and ended up at the same restaurant as my older brother. He was saying to me how much my brother, Jerry, resembles my dad. I remember when Jerry got married about five years ago, seeing him in a suit at the front of the church brought tears to my eyes — it was as if Daddy was standing there. Daddy died in 1984 and I still miss him almost daily.

Bob started reminiscing about Daddy, whom everyone associated with Florida Sanitarium & Hospital (now Florida Hospital) knew. Bob's aunt worked in medical records for many years. Bob told me how his aunt always said how nice Dr. Crews was, that he treated everyone, from the hospital administrator to the janitor, with the same respect.

How nice to hear my thoughts about my daddy validated by a friend. I like to think that everything that is good in me came from my daddy, even though we share no DNA.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Everything Old Is New Again

Well, not necessarily. I know a few people who embrace that adage. My friend Oveta has recently reconnected with her high school boyfriend and later this year, in their 50s, they will marry. My high school friend Jeanne reconnected with her high school love and walked with him to his death from prostate cancer. They had two wonderful years together after a lifetime apart.

But I believe those are the exceptions to the rule. I told the story here a while back of the man I had dated twenty years ago and went to Virginia Beach to see with the thought of possibly reconnecting with him. That was a classic case of everything old not being new again.

My friend, the Traveler, saw his high school love on Match and excitedly awaited their first date after years apart. Alas, her years of smoking and drinking had taken their toll. And while she was the same sweet girl on the inside, the outside (and her state of health) was incompatible with who he now is and what he wants for his life. Another dream laid to rest.

The more I speak with the Old Beau, the more I remember the details of our six months together in 1999. And the less inclined I am to try to make that old relationship new again.

Life moves on, for a reason.

Friday, January 26, 2007

The Yellow Buick

A thousand years ago, husband #1 and I, along with our darling babes, aged four and two, lived in Sarasota, Florida, where the husband was minister of music and youth at a small Southern Baptist church. (Ooooh, what does that tell you about the state-of-head of TJ, Tyler, and myself?) There was a darling retired couple in the congregation who were in their mid-70s.

The time came for this couple to buy a new car and they knew it would probably be the final car purchase of their lives. Since she had been in her 20s, the wife had longed for a yellow Buick. Each time they bought a new car, she would look at yellow Buicks, but then they would always buy something else. The days and weeks of car shopping passed, and they finally made their purchase — not a yellow Buick.

When I asked her why she didn't insist on the yellow Buick, she replied simply, "but then I'd have nothing to look forward to."

If I find my ultimate man, the ultimate relationship, the cohabitation deluxe, will I have nothing to look forward to?
On Stealing My Heart Away

I saw Mr. Match for drinks last night. We sat and did the crossword puzzle. That boy absolutely knows how to steal my heart away.

I hadn't seen him for two or three weeks, but we slipped right back into that comfort zone that we've had since almost the day we met. He admits that he doesn't know what he wants. Sounds like we're right about at the same place.

One foot in front of the other . . . .

Thursday, January 25, 2007

To a Life Well Lived

Clara LeCompte passed on this afternoon after several years of struggles with her health, including surviving breast cancer.

I think the parents of musicians should get extra credit as they await entrance into heaven for the miles and miles they drove to piano lessons and the money spent on sheet music and the yards of thread used to sew recital dresses and the hours spent sitting in an audience, waiting to clap proudly for their offspring.

Clara always treated me as if I were her own daughter. She was a very good mother, if the characteristics she instilled in her now-grown daughter are any measure. She was a good wife and was faithful to her Christian beliefs. She was a very thoughtful and generous person whose Christmas cards I looked forward to every year. She was devoted to her grandchildren.

My heart will be with Cheryl tonight and through the coming week as she makes the preparations and travels to Orlando for the services.
When Is A Lie Not A Lie?

This morning I was remembering the lawyer/real estate investor that I dated three years ago. His Match.com profile stated that he was 59 (I was 53 at the time). When I met him and started running the numbers on the ages of his children, he admitted he was 69, not 59. A slip of the finger? I don't think so. You write your profile, you fill in all the blanks, then you look at it and see it says you're 54 rather than 58 or whatever. You know you've made an error and you go fix it.

What does one gain by misstating his age? Someone will give him a first look who otherwise wouldn't have looked at him? But it's deceit — it's basic deceit. And if he is deceptive on that issue, what other issues will he be deceptive on?

This man said he was separated and no hope of reconciliation. But then I was with him at UofA homecoming and he was reconnecting with his old fraternity brothers. I was looking quite foxy that day and we were sitting in the fraternity tent. He said to a couple of the guys, "Yeah, I've got a wife and kids in the Bay area." I beg your pardon? What does that make me?!

I have a very hard time trusting any man (or woman) who lies on any issue. In my book, a lie is a lie.

And I'll close with a funny story. Two weeks ago when Boston and Riah were with me, Riah started playing the piano. When Boston went up to play at the same time, she wouldn't let him and pitched quite a fit. I had a toy car I was intending to give him, so I chose that time to give it to him to divert him from the problems at the piano. She came into the kitchen and attempted to take the car away from him and he wouldn't budge. She started whining to me that he wasn't sharing. I said, "Riah, you wouldn't share at the piano, so he's not sharing with his car." (Why does my logic never work on three-year-olds?!) A few minutes later I heard her wailing. When I turned to see what the matter was, she said, "I smashed my finger." In trying to ascertain where and how she had smashed her finger, it became clear there had been absolutely no finger-smashing. This was her attempt to get my attention since I hadn't forced Boston to share his new car.

Thankfully, her mother was a phone call away to resolve the issues and remonstrate her for lying to Grandma.

I wish these lying men were as easy to censure!

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Coming Out of the Woodwork

And at the same time Old Beau resurfaces, Mr. Match calls and asks to see me, the Lemonade Tycoon e-mails to ask if I'd like to have dinner one night next week, and of course Frank says he'll come over to fix my pipes. (Oh, get your minds out of the gutter. It's a plumbing thing.)
Be Careful What You Wish For

I get up in the morning. Actually, I lie in bed for half an hour after I wake, snuggling under the covers, my toes toasty, my nose freezing. I pet Rudi and get his take on his evening's activities. Then I slide out from under the covers and, grabbing my robe, pad to the computer room to check my mail, answer the important ones, pull my financial transactions into Quicken and, if it's early enough, listen to the day's editions of Writer's Almanac and Composer's Datebook. Then I shower, do my hair, dress, water the flowers, feed Rudi, check the litterbox, and fix my breakfast.

It can be three hours from when I first wake up until I walk out the door. But it doesn't matter, because I live alone. Nobody's depending on me for anything. If I want to lie in bed for 15 minutes repeatedly whistling Stars and Stripes Forever, nobody cares!

The old beau and I spoke for an hour-and-a-half last night, posing and answering questions, discussing the possible negotiations and acquiescences that would accompany our proposed resumption of dating. (Geez, isn't it so much simpler when you're in your teens or twenties?!)

And after I hang up the phone, I think to myself — I'm lonely, but it may be far easier to just live alone than try to set up a cohabitation experience again.

I think I want one more relationship, but if I find it, I want it to last for the rest of my life. I'm sick of this "dating" nonsense.

Was I born 200 years too late? Am I more suited to an era of arranged marriages and stay-at-home wives?
Life Happens

This morning my heart goes out to the PianoLady, whose 89yo mother was diagnosed yesterday with acute leukemia. They are fortunate to live near NYC, where the utmost in medical care is readily available.

Whatever your personal method — prayers, positive thoughts, good vibes — please send them to Cheryl and her mother, Clara, at this challenging time.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Heady Stuff

The thought of being in a mutual, bilateral relationship, of being adored and being able to adore, is very enticing. I'm having a hard time putting this fantasy out of my mind to focus on real life.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Settling Down, or Settling?

I've begun hearing from an old beau on the East Coast. The gist of the conversations is this: we both have a lot of love to give, we know we get along well, we're both tired of being alone. He says, "let me lavish love on you and care for you the way you deserve." Wow, that can turn a girl's head!

He's in a very different place in his life now than where he was when we were dating. Then he was caring for a terminally cranky mother and a high school daughter. Now his mother has passed, his daughter has graduated from college, and he's on his own in a lovely home overlooking the Potomac. He wants me to come visit him to see if we could start over and build something wonderful for the rest of our lives.

He has high moral standards, would never cheat on me or — really — even look at another woman for anything other than art appreciation. He's an excellent cook and appreciates that I would rather wash dishes than cook. For eight years he has said that I'm the gold standard in women. Every woman he has dated since he and I parted company has been measured against me.

Were the personal characteristics he displayed at that time in his life a result of his life situation? Or is that just who he is to the core?

I'll be exploring these thoughts and others in the coming days. There were some negatives to the relationship, and I would have to be able to get past those to move forward.

Is my desire/need for a permanent, caring, supportive relationship such that I would be willing or able to look past some shortcomings to have the nurturing environment I crave? Or would I just be settling?

I really don't know what to think. Stay tuned!
Sports for the Uninitiated

I took Boston to a Harlem Globetrotters game yesterday in my neverending effort to build up memories with these babies before they leave. Frank went along for moral support and was a great help when we walked out of the arena to rain.

As the game started and the men were dribbling the ball back and forth across the court, Boston said, "I think there's a goalie you have to tackle or something." I had to laugh. Tyler! You need to take this boy out to shoot some hoops!!
More on the snow

Driving in to work this morning was absolutely gorgeous. I felt like I was back in Northern Virginia or rural Maryland. Along the interstate on the south side of town, there was 2-3 inches accumulation. How fun to see palm trees and prickly pear cactus coated in snow!

Of course, no one here knows how to drive in it, and of course the county has no snow plows or salt. So the driving was extremely defensive and slow. My commute took me about half an hour longer than normal. But the visual treat made it okay.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Believe It or Don't

It's snowing in Tucson!



I've lived here seven years and have never seen snow here. This is astonishing — and thrilling.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Ah, the excitement of new love

I've had numerous conversations with the PianoLady this afternoon as we start planning our October Broadway getaway. We've thought about and nixed Spring Awakening (solidified after Tyler looked at me in horror when I suggested it: "you won't like it") and may do Jersey Boys, although the center orchestra seats are $351.50!!!!! Each!!!!! So I guess we'll have to resign ourselves to mezzanine seats. I really want to see the Company revival as I've been listening to the soundtrack repeatedly since October. But that's only scheduled through June, so now we're talking about celebrating our mutual birthdays (hers 6/2, mine 6/22) with a second annual get-together. JetBlue now offers a red-eye from Tucson direct to JFK for a reasonable fare, and as much as I despise red-eyes, I may have to try that.

I had Boston talk to her for a moment during one conversation so he could explain a new toy he just got at Mrs. Tiggy-Winkles and why he was laughing so hard. The PianoLady teaches music to preschool and kindergarten kids, so she knows this age well.

She told me about a recent school day. When she arrived, the teacher told her one of the boys, as soon as he saw her walk into the building, started running around the room shouting, "She's here. She's here. Now we can have fun."

Her statement to me: "if only my husband would react that way when I walk through the door."

I had to laugh. BTW, she has a wonderful husband who fully supports our getaway weekends and respects our friendship of 37 years.

PianoLady's real name, if you remember, is Cheryl. In college, we called her Sherry. As my boys were growing up, every time I spoke of her, they started singing the Four Seasons' "Sherry Baby". I'm sitting here as I write this listening to snippets of the Jersey Boys soundtrack and they're singing "Sherry Baby". Now Boston and Riah are dancing around me room singing "Sherry Baby". Oh My Gosh, does that take me back!

Friday, January 19, 2007

Style

I saw Frank for a few minutes last night on my way home from dinner with les bebes. He apologized for the state of his house, saying he had read my comment about ½" of dust. He has nothing to worry about! He cares greatly for his environment and is always doing something to improve it. No one could ever call this man a slug!

The ½"-of-dust man, I reassured Frank, lived in a manner that should have been condemned by the health department. His cat had died ten months before I met him, and he still had the litter box sitting in the dining room. (Yuck!) His living room had cathedral ceilings, and there were many cobwebs hanging from plaster nubs on the walls. There's only one other man I've ever met who could stand to live with such clutter and dust. Neither of them stayed long on my short list.

On another style note, as Boston and Ridley and I were on our way to dinner at Swensen's last night, Boston informed me that he's going to have two wives, Kelsey and Dana. And, of course, because he is going to have two wives, he will have lots of children. I asked him what he was going to name them, and he said he'd have to wait and see.

At some point in the conversation, we were also talking about naming cars, as I had heard a report on the news that x% of Americans, mostly women, have names for their cars and they are mostly female names. Boston said if he were going to name his new big-boy-bike-without-training-wheels, he would name it Fasty because it goes so fast. Riah then piped up and said she would name her big-girl-bike-with-training-wheels Fasty with training wheels. I had to laugh!

Trust me, I'm grabbing every moment I can with these cuties before they leave town headed northeast.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Comfortableness

Is there such a word? It's what I feel with Frank. We had dinner last night, at my suggestion. Yeah, I know, I said I wasn't going to become one of his women, but I was tired of eating a little salad alone. I wanted a steak for dinner and I wanted to enjoy it with someone companionable. He's the ultimate in companionable.

I had a delightful time with him. He's thoughtful, considerate, easy to talk to, nice to look at, and just plain fun. Now why can't he take a chance with his heart?

I know I keep saying "his loss" about all these emotionally unavailable men, but this one feels like my loss.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Further on trying to figure out who I want to be when I grow up …

Today's daily thought from RealSimple.com

January 17, 2007
Good instincts usually tell you what to do long before your head has figured it out.
— Michael Burke
Yippee!!

Okay, you know I have a sad life when the high point of my week, maybe even my month, is being accepted into a study for a new drug to control hot flashes!!

As I think about (wait just a minute while I lean over to turn on my fan) applying for jobs and competing in the marketplace, I'm worried about having a power surge during a job interview. I've applied for a job with Blackbaud as a consultant for Raiser's Edge — a job I would really love to have. The job involves 80-100% travel and sitting in clients' offices around the U.S. for four days at a time. The thought of hot flashes in that situation is alarming and embarrassing.

There's a drug which was developed for diabetic neuropathy and the pain of shingles. When menopausal women took the drug for those causes, they noticed they weren't having hot flashes. So now the company is trying to get the drug certified for hot flashes. I Googled, and wonder if it's Lyrica.

My first appointment is February 5th, when the doctor will explain the study and let me say whether I want to be involved. I'll have to keep an extensive diary recording all my hot flashes (it will be a very large diary!). But that's nothing if this drug will take them away.

Cross your fingers!
Statistics!

Two men in the past two days have referred to me an article about the number of women in the U.S. who are single. Here's the link Tyler sent me.

According to this research, 51% of women in the U.S. are living single, without a spouse. Okay, that doesn't say how many are cohabiting, and it doesn't say how many are lesbian, and it doesn't break it out by age range. But it all comes down to the same thing: as we age, there are more of us competing for a ever-decreasing number of men.

When you look at the number of men and factor out those who are gay and then factor out those who are simply untrainable (can't dress, can't pick up after themselves, live in houses with a ½" coating of dust), there are damned few available men!

It's a discouraging statistic, but then I've never been big on statistics. I took Statistics 101 at Florida Technological University back in 1969 or 1970. I think I attended the first class and the last class and somehow still pulled a C out of that hat.

I still have hope there's a nice man somewhere out there who will appreciate quality when he sees it.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Nothing is lost in our memory

I share with you a poem from yesterday's Writer's Almanac: "Nothing is Lost" by Noel Coward, from Collected Verse. © Graywolf Press

Music stays in my brain, and movies or programs I've watched on television. I rarely just sit while watching TV; I routinely have a beading or sewing project in my hands and look back and forth from my hands to the television. Years later, I can look at the needlework project or the necklace or the binding on the quilt and hear or see what was streaming into my brain while I was doing that handwork. I found these words reaffirming.

I've also written of the words that were spoken to me in anger or with hatred or spite. I've retained all those also. May my words that others remember be only kind.
- - - - -
Nothing is Lost

Deep in our sub-conscious, we are told
Lie all our memories, lie all the notes
Of all the music we have ever heard
And all the phrases those we loved have spoken,
Sorrows and losses time has since consoled,
Family jokes, out-moded anecdotes
Each sentimental souvenir and token
Everything seen, experienced, each word
Addressed to us in infancy, before
Before we could even know or understand
The implications of our wonderland.
There they all are, the legendary lies
The birthday treats, the sights, the sounds, the tears
Forgotten debris of forgotten 2007s
Waiting to be recalled, waiting to rise
Before our world dissolves before our eyes
Waiting for some small, intimate reminder,
A word, a tune, a known familiar scent
An echo from the past when, innocent
We looked upon the present with delight
And doubted not the future would be kinder
And never knew the loneliness of night.
This Old House

As Tyler and Jaci prepare to buy a beautiful house built in, as I recall, 1925, I'm thinking about the sort of things that would make an appropriate housewarming present.

I love old homes. I think they have charm, class, and a personality that modern homes just don't have. John's and my house on Irving Street, NW, was filled with charm and incredible paneling in the dining room and warmth and narrow strip hardwood flooring and personality and a sleeping porch and on and on. We never had a bit of trouble with that house except for when we decided to install air conditioning. When I sold, a year after John's death, I learned the a/c installer had put the unit in upside down. That cost a pretty penny to rectify!

So based on the love of that house and the romance of the dining room paneling, I decided to buy a 1951 house last summer. Then, the Thursday before New Year's we had a protracted rain, and my plumbing backed up. And the skylight leaked. Yesterday the toilet in the hall bath was on the verge of overflowing. And last night — I arrived home to a note from one neighbor and another neighbor coming around the corner as I unlocked the front door. The pipe on the backyard shower by the pool had frozen and blown the top off the shower. A geyser of water ten feet high had been spewing into the air for much of the day.

So back to the issue of a housewarming present. I'm thinking it starts with a heavy-duty plunger. Then a container or two of copper sulfate, to eat away any roots in the pipes. Beyond that, I think probably just a bucket of money earmarked for repairs. And maybe a rabbit's foot for luck, in the hopes that would keep that old house from falling apart.

Monday, January 15, 2007

More walking around inside my mind

The PianoLady has the best suggestion thus far:

It sounds as though being near the kids is a priority. What are the job opportunities like in Youngstown? If I were you, I'd hold off on the Cunard cruise job until you're retired......
You have so much technical knowledge, it seems a shame to let that go. Maybe you could have a B&B in Youngstown, work freelance in the technical field, sew in a spare room, sell your wearable art to your guests, and play cocktail piano for them in the evenings!

I'm loving that idea!
Out of the mouth of a babe

Literally!

I had the babies overnight Saturday. I had purchased an apple coffeecake for their breakfasting pleasure. Riah took a big bite (she always takes big bites!) and when I looked over she was leaning over her plate and saliva was dripping out of her mouth. I said, "Riah, what are you doing?" She replied, "There's something in my mouth I don't like."

Classic phraseology!

Wanna walk around inside my mind?

Tyler and I had dinner before attending the Tucson Symphony concert on Friday night. We spent much of the time together talking about my future, the various thoughts I'm having about who and what to be when I grow up. I thought I'd just throw some of the thoughts out in this venue, partially to help me crystallize my thoughts and partially just in case any reader has insight to share.

Where? I think primarily about D.C. and Youngstown, but also about Richmond, VA; Sarasota, FL; Cave Junction, OR; Berkeley Springs, WV; northern CA; Chicago, IL; NYC (okay, that's total fantasy) . . . . I've always enjoyed traveling and would frequently fantasize about towns I visited. I tend to fall in love easily with geography. I've even subscribed to a magazine entitled "International Living"!

The drawback to D.C. is the enormity of salary I'll have to command to be able to move back there and not live in western Loudoun County, VA, or Frederick County, MD, or halfway to Richmond to be able to afford living in the area. The larger the salary, the longer it takes to find a job, so that is intimidating. The longer the commute, the less time I have at home. I don't really want my life to be all about working and driving, so I'm rather half-heartedly putting résumés out and, really, only to jobs I could be really excited about.

I had the babies for a sleepover last night, and Boston started crying that he didn't want to be all grown up before he saw me again. (He was lying on the kitchen floor drawing, and I was astonished to see how long he is. I said, "You're growing so quickly you're going to go to Ohio and be all grown up by the next time I see you.") I then had to spend the next ten minutes consoling him and reassuring him that I would fly up for the weekend a few weeks after they get there, and that his daddy and I would get webcams and he and I could see each other on the computer. Of course, all the while I'm wiping his tears, I'm weeping inside.

That makes me want to be in Youngstown. As much as Tyler tells me they want me to be able to have my own life, those babies are my life. I never knew any of my grandparents. I love being able to empower Ty and Jaci to have adult time when they need or want it, and I love being part of their extended family. I'm so lucky to have such a wonderful daughter-in-law — I really don't want a life living all by myself hours and dollars away from my kids.

I saw a program on the Saturday Today show about Vocation Vacations — vacations where you try out a job or career you've thought about to see how it fits. In fact, The Today Show is sponsoring a contest: write an essay and win a Vocation Vacation. But there's nothing on the list that I'm interested in that I haven't done. I've been a programmer, a writer, an editor, a law clerk, a pianist, a dinner theatre musical director, a secretary, a bookkeeper, and run a B&B on a part-time basis. I frequently think about doing B&B again and it's the only vocation on the Vocation Vacation site that I would consider going off and doing for a week or so.

Sometimes I think about playing cocktail piano on a cruise ship. I love to travel and see new places, and people I've known who worked on cruise ships say it's a fabulous way to save money. But I would want to be on a prestigious line — Cunard or Celebrity; definitely not Carnival! (Okay, call me a snob, but I want to be around people like me, not the riff-raff.) However, if I step out of a technical career path again, as I did in 1999 when Steve asked me to move to Tucson with him and told me I'd never have to work again, I do not believe — at age 56 or greater — that I'd be able to get back into the tech world if I got tired of what I was doing. So I need to think and consider very carefully before I leave programming and tech writing.

I'm lucky that I have this opportunity and the freedom to start over if I want; I'm totally overwhelmed by the enormity of opportunities and choices.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Nimble Fingers

I was just putting the finishing touches on a very long post regarding my thought processes on jobs and homes. Then I hit some series of keystrokes that threw all my hard work away. And I'm tired, so I'll try to remember it all tomorrow.

Friday, January 12, 2007

The Purpose of Communication

This morning I attended the monthly breakfast of the Association for Fundraising Professionals. I'm serving on the board of the Tucson Chamber Artists, and the guest speaker, Simone Joyaux, was conducting two workshop sessions on fundraising and board governance in the non-profit sector.

As I was listening to her, one corner of my brain was searching for a topic for today's post, and then she made two statements that lodged in that corner. The first thing she said was, "The purpose of communication is to nurture relationships." The second was how there is a fine line between "Absence makes the heart grow fonder" and "Out of sight, out of mind."

Let's take Mr. Match as an example of this. For three months he has called every two or three weeks, saying "what we had was special, we can't throw it away; we need to talk." Then I'll hear nothing for two or three weeks until he calls again, saying the same thing. (Hmmm, do those calls only occur after the ingestion of two martinis? Was that also the case every time he told me he loved me?) I saw him ten days ago, after which he left for a week in Dallas. I have heard nothing since. Bear in mind that he has a cell phone and knows how to use it. He also carries a laptop with him and knows how to type.

If a man wants to have a relationship with me, he's going to have to communicate with me, more than one phone call every two weeks. He's going to have to nurture the relationship if he expects it to grow. In that absence of that nurturing on his part, there can be no relationship.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

We Put the Fun in Dysfunctional

I learned this morning (Thursday) that my 93yo mother had gone into the hospital on Tuesday, unable walk. She's back in her apartment now with a walker and 24-hour nursing coverage. Neither of my brothers nor my sister-in-law bothered to make sure I knew.

Those of you who are only children, thank your lucky stars!

(Of course, I have to say my mother didn't call to tell me either. She said she just hadn't gotten around to it yet. Hmmm.)
Decisions, Decisions!

My therapist and I discussed my life situation for 45 minutes yesterday. Do I want to keep working for another ten years? Do I want to become self-employed through technical writing or database application development on a contract basis for remote companies?

Her suggestions include figuring out what my budget would be and determining how much more I'd have to earn to live comfortably. One of the most appealing benefits of being self-employed is the ability to work the hours (and as many or as few hours) I want, leaving time to play with grandbabies or sew or volunteer for charitable organizations to my heart's desire.

When I mentioned to her the possibility of taking the bar exam and practicing on a part-time basis, she stated that there are many, many lawyers who can write wills or draft contracts, but there are far fewer geeks who can perform the technical writing or database development tasks that I do so well.

We also discussed the man situation in my life. She stated the obvious: in my age bracket, there are far more women in the market than men. Maybe the addition of a man to my life is going to be a fluke rather than an eventuality I can depend upon. Sad, but true.

Stay tuned . . . .

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Another Ten Years

I'm reading "Water for Elephants", a novel by Sara Gruen. The "90 or 93 years old, I can't remember" man in a nursing home is being checked by the nurse, who says, "Mr. Jankowski, if you keep your weight up, you could have another ten years."

My mother-in-law is 99. My mother is 93. I know my mother-in-law doesn't want another ten years. She doesn't want the last ten years she had. She's been wanting to go for twenty years, if you believe what she says.

I'm feeling very alone with the impending departure of my grands, the total lack of a significant other — or hope for same — in my life, a life that's filled with busy-ness but not happy-ness, and a job that's currently feeling rather boring. I think I could change one of those things, but the thought of needing to change all of them is rather daunting.

And the thought of ten more years living alone and lonely. No thanks. I'm not interested.

How much change can I bite off without choking?

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Antidepressants

I got a shot of a new and wonderful antidepressant last night: my babies will be in Tucson for three more weeks. I'm sorry Ty and Jaci are having problems with the appraisal on the new house, but I'm so relieved that they're not leaving next week. Color me One Happy Grandma.
The Addiction of Online Dating

I've said it before and I'll say it again: online dating is addictive. Why does a man keep looking every day when what he's got in his hand is clearly better than any two in the bush? It's the excitement of seeing what new person has looked at your profile, how many new people have looked at your profile. It's the thrill of the unknown.

I have totally withdrawn from the world of online dating. I no longer have a profile posted on any site. And, truthfully, I miss it. Not that anything was happening there. The only men looking at me were totally age-inappropriate geezers with nose hair in Podunk, Iowa, or Outer Nowhere, Oklahoma. But still. The excitement of logging on to see if, hope against hope, Mr. Right had finally found me.

Alas, Mr. Right is a figment of my imagination.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Raw Edges

One of the things I pride myself on in my sewing is the beautiful workmanship inside the garment. I painstakingly apply Hong Kong finish to the raw edges and enclose seam allowances in a bias strip or line garments that weren't really designed to be lined, just for the purpose of having garments as beautiful on the inside as they are on the outside.

But my life feels like it's all raw edges right now. I had the babies again on Saturday night, and next Saturday night will be the Last Sleepover. I'm trying to stay sane and enjoy every moment with them.

Boston is very aware of the impending exit. He's making sure he uses everything he enjoys in my house, and has started identifying items he wants to take with him. Yesterday, while I was in another room, he climbed up on the kitchen counter to get his favorite glass out of the cupboard. (TJ, it's the etched glass mug from your wedding!)

When Boston is at my house, he sleeps with the blankie I made for Tyler when he was nine or ten. Tyler and Scott/TJ would spend their holidays and summers with me. Tyler remembered the blanket he had as an infant and toddler, which caught fire in a space heater and had to be reduced to a pillow. He asked me to make him a new blanket, which I did and still have. It's flannel with racecars on one side, and white silky nylon on the other. Yesterday, when asking me if he could take it to Ohio with him, Boston dictated to me exactly what he wanted me to write on the white side: Boston Sleepover with Grandma; This was Daddy's blankie when he was a boy.

Cute. Cute. Cute.

Oh, how I'll miss these babies' presence in my day-to-day life.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Happy Birthday

to the Traveller. He's 59 today. That's 60-1. Eeek.

How can we all be so sharp, so vital, so vibrant, humming along with Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young or Chicago or the Monkees and be pushing 60?! It boggles the mind.

Lee, hope your day is great!
The Half-Life of Hope

Okay, so my hope that this flesh-and-blood man would call me lasted 48 hours.

I think the older one gets, the more relationship roller-coasters one has been on, the shorter the amount of time one is willing or able to hold on to hope that something wonderful is about to happen.

Frank came over this morning to fix my porch light. (It was a bad bulb, which I had just replaced. I am not a dumb blonde!) I took him to breakfast with the babies as a payment. (You've eaten out in restaurants with five- and three-year-olds, right? Not sure that was payment or punishment!)

He may not be emotionally reliable, but I enjoy his company enormously.

Ho hum. Hope hum.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Real Life

I met a real man last night! This is the first real man I've met since John's death! Every man I've dated since January of 1999 has been someone I met on the Internet. And most of them turned out, after the shine dulled, to be scoundrels or worse.

I have said recently that I give up. And a number of people have said, "ah, that's when it will happen — once you give up." (And Tyler said that if I'd spend less time online, if I'd get out more, then I'd meet more people.)

I was standing in the new Panda Express in Continental Ranch last night to get dinner for Ty, Jaci, the babies, and myself. They had text messaged their orders to me, and I was looking back and forth from my phone to the menu board on the wall to figure out how to put the whole order together. An attractive man standing in front of me, clean-cut, nicely dressed, about 2" taller than I, apparently age-appropriate, leaned over and asked what I was doing. I told him my kids had messaged me their orders and I was trying to get it all straight. He said something about technology and how much we relied on it. Then, clever man that he evidently is, he asked if my husband was similarly technologically savvy. KaZing! I said I wasn't lucky enough to have one of those. Then we spent the next 10 minutes in line exchanging the basic info that we normally see on each other's online profiles. He asked what I was looking for. I started with non-smoking and only a social drinker. I said my last husband was a maintenance alcoholic; he said his ex-wife was an alcoholic. Then I said I had season tickets to the symphony and would like someone who liked classical music. He said, "so you're a cultured lady." We talked about people who leave their profiles up after they start dating someone, and agreed we like to give a relationship a chance without other distractions. I told him my kids were moving away. He said his three daughters live near Spokane. It was like Speed Dating.

<Sidebar on>
If you're unfamiliar with Speed Dating, it's where 20 or so men and women meet for cocktails. The women sit at individual tables, the men move from table to table. You have three minutes to chat with and get to know briefly the person you're sitting across from. After three minutes, the men stand up and move one table to the right. At the end of the night, you indicate which people you'd like to see again. If there are any matches (she wants to get to know him, he wants to get to know her), your personal information (phone, e-mail) is given to the other person and you're on your own. People pay $45 or so to attend such events, which are organized by age range.
<Sidebar off>

As he was paying and I was still struggling with my order, I snuck a card containing my name, phone, and e-mail out of my purse and slipped it onto his tray. As he exited, he touched my arm and said, "I'll call you, Jan".

I don't know if he will. I hope he will. But in any event, he made my day, my month, my year!

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Why Write?

Tyler has a paying writing gig for the Tucson Symphony Orchestra. He writes program notes for all works being performed this season in the Classic and MasterWorks series. It's a tedious task and the pay is not commensurate with the amount of effort required to produce the work-product, as is common with all non-profit gigs. If the term "program notes" means nothing to you, I'll explain &mdash: He researches the work being performed and writes a few paragraphs about the composer and maybe what was going on in the world or in the composer's life that led to the composition of the work. He delves into the work itself and finds some notable (no pun intended) passages and gives the concertgoer something to listen for. He's been doing a fabulous job. He has honored me with the opportunity to edit his work, and I love all the musical trivia I'm learning. The feedback I hear from TSO friends is all positive, which makes this mama smile.

The other night at dinner, Tyler and I were discussing why people write and how they keep motivated to write. He asked how I keep posting something here each and every day, for six months now. So I've been thinking about that.

The first month I had lots to say, lots of thoughts running through my mind every day on the topic of dating over age 50. I was very quickly completely smitten with Mr. Match, as he indicated he was with me. Then, as he kept seeking what Dr. Phil calls the BBD (Bigger Better Deal), I got more and more frustrated and needed a place to vent about it. When the blog was still public, there were 25-30 people reading each day. If I didn't post first thing in the morning, there were people who would e-mail me to ask where my post was, saying they needed their morning fix. I got many e-mails expressing thoughts and opinions that the writer simply didn't wish to place in a comment. In fact, Mr. Match's daughter checked in from Atlanta four or five times a day and thanked me for giving her a peak inside her dad's life, as he didn't call her frequently enough for her to really know what was going on with him.

What started out for me as therapy-without-the-therapist quickly turned into something I absolutely loved doing. I was shocked at how pleasurable it was. I've never been a journal writer, always feeling intimidated with a completely blank page under my pen. Also, I far prefer typing to writing, so that was another issue. I started journaling on January 1, 2006, but only when I bought a five-year journal with enough space for precisely one paragraph for each day.

Early on I was very careful to stick to the topic of dating. The only diversion was to include stories about previous relationships that served, I hoped, to explain some of my attitudes toward dating. Then I took several trips and included a travelogue to allow the readers to share my experiences.

Now we're in a new year and my life has turned upside down and inside out. I've been through four relationships in one year. My kids are imminently moving away and I'll be totally without local family. Honestly, if I didn't have another date for the next six months, I'd be perfectly happy.

So now lots of non-dating things are coming out, and I think maybe more of me and who I am is coming out. I think maybe my sons are getting to know their mom as kids normally don't know their parents. I'm hoping they're enjoying it, and I'm hoping to memorialize some of myself to them to pass down to their kids or future wife in case I don't live to 75 or whatever.

And along the way, I'm enjoying this writing. And friends e-mail me that they enjoy reading it. I don't know about writers who get paid for a living (oh, almost forgot, I do get paid to write for a living &mdash LOL), but I keep writing to memorialize my life, document and discuss the great puzzles of life, and keep you entertained.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Being the Best Me I Can Be

Continuing one thought from the previous post, I should tell you I joined Weight Watcher's a week ago. In one week I've lost three pounds. My morning weigh-in, in the nude on my home bathroom scale, this morning said 159. It's been about four months since I was at that weight and I'm thrilled.

Several people have questioned why I felt I needed to lose weight. One rather sternly admonished me that I did not need to lose weight.

Here's my manifold explanation:
  1. I don't like what I see when I look in the mirror each morning to get dressed. I don't recognize my body. I don't feel young and sexy; I feel old and fat. It's not something I'm comfortable with. I'm an intelligent woman. I should be able to make this change and get back a body I'm comfortable with.
  2. My pre-Weight Watcher's Body Mass Index was 25. Look it up, people, that's definitionally "overweight". The health risks that accompany a BMI of 25 or over are risks I don't care to take. I already had a stroke scare in 2006, and I don't care to go there again. It scared the bejeebies out of me.
  3. You already know that I'm suffering from hot flashes. Research shows that lower weight can yield fewer hot flashes. Sign me up!
  4. I put on 12 pounds in three years. At that rate, . . . well, you can see where I'm going with that statement. I don't want to weigh 175 or 200 pounds. I'm not comfortable with that.
  5. I'm used to seeing my grandbabies no fewer than one day a week. That's at least 52 times a year. With their departure, I'll be lucky to see them one time a month. I want to live to see them graduate from high school, if not college. I would be willing to take dance lessons to dance with Boston at his wedding! I can't count on getting there at a BMI of 25 or more.

So that's what I've done. Already, yesterday, with a total weight loss of three pounds, my favorite slacks fit differently in the waist, fit better, fit more comfortably. Yea!

I courageously told Mr. Match last night of my actions. He was so encouraging. He asked lots of questions, and talked about his daughter's successful experience with Weight Watcher's and how proud he is of her.

The Weight Watcher's plan has changed a lot since the last time I tried it, 22 years ago. The geek in me loves their Web site, the POINTS® Tracker I can use to keep track of what I've eaten. They make it so simple. I already eat fairly healthfully, but I turn to food when I'm stressed or depressed. Now that I'm focusing on mindful eating, it's just simple. And I know if I'm absolutely dying for something sweet, I can satisfy the craving by trading one point for one small shortbread cookie. On New Year's Eve, I treated myself to a small Red Baron pizza, a small glass of wine, and a spoonful of Ben & Jerry's. To me, I had just eaten a fabulous celebratory meal.

I was looking on Matchmaker.com to see if there were any men there I hadn't already seen on other sites. (There weren't.) One thing that Matchmaker asks that other sites don't is weight. What is your weight; what is the weight range you would prefer in your mate? One man in Phoenix whom I found attractive said 137# was the top weight he'd consider. Wait! His top desired height is 5'10" and top desired weight is 137#? That's a BMI of 19.x! So I started looking at that field on other men's profiles. They all said something equally ridiculous. Do they even know what 137# looks like on a 5'8" or 5'9" or 5'10" woman? Do they understand the hormone problems of a woman over 50? Do they understand what childbirth does to a woman's midsection?

If I had a membership on that site, I'd write several of them notes gently explaining to them the impossibility they're requesting. But since I don't (and don't plan to), I'll just let them sit there and wonder why they're getting no e-mails from women.

Recreational Viewing

Two days ago The Oprah Show was a repeat broadcast of an earlier show where a panel of three men (Jay Leno, Brian McKnight, and Rick Reilly) answered women's questions about why men are the way they are and why they do some of the things they do.

The question that grabbed my interest was "why do men visit porn sites." Tyler and Jaci and I were discussing this over dinner on Monday evening as well as we could with a 5-year-old and 3-year-old at the table. I think Jaci said it was no big deal, so long as the man wasn't taking time away from the relationship to visit the sites. (The citations here are as I remember the conversations. Any of the cited speakers are welcome to correct me.) Tyler opined that all men want to be gynecologists and see as many women as possible from as many angles as possible. The Traveler and I were discussing this topic last week, and he thinks it's not a normal preoccupation. He told me that at his workplace, employees can be fired for visiting porn sites. As management, he's had the responsibility for warning users about such computer abuse and the threat of termination with one more transgression. He said he'd had employees who were so addicted to Internet porn that they could not resist the temptation, even with the knowledge that their jobs were on the line. I find that absolutely incredible.

I've dated several men who had serious Internet porn habits. The real estate investor, a couple of years ago, started every morning with his porn site visits. And when I sat down at Frank's computer two months ago to Google something for him, I clicked on the address bar history and found only three items: 1) cupid.com (where we met), 2) my blog, and 3) bigboobs.com or something similar. Hmmm. Just a fluke? I tend to think not. Since I know he visits cupid.com every morning looking for the BBD (Bigger Better Deal), and at that time he was reading my blog daily, can I safely assume that he also visits bigboobs.com daily?

So I'm sure half of you are thinking "Why does she care? Why does it matter?"

I guess it matters because the whole dating thing is a competition. I'm already competing with women who have more money or are better cooks or have tighter abs or fewer stretch marks. I'm trying to be the best I can, physically, to have a leg up, if you will, on all the other menopausal or postmenopausal women trying to find their last Significant Other. It's exhausting. It's a rare day when I go out without makeup or dress in my favorite attire: a pair of denim shorts and one of John's old Oxford cloth shirts. And every time I look in the mirror I'm aware of my awful hair and the fact that 80% of the men on an online site state that long hair is a turn-on for them. You know what my thin, fine hair would look like long? Let me tell you — ghastly!

So think about it. If competing with real women is this much of a challenge, think how difficult competing with nubile (Oh how funny! I opened another tab to Google the definition of "nubile", and the sponsored link that came up at the top of the hit list was nubiles.net "Fresh girls in sexy photoshoots"! And by the way, the definition of "nubile" is "women of marriageable age", so that's not the word I want anyway. ), ummm, slender, toned, wrinkle-free, spider-vein-free girls who are able to do things physically I can't even dream of any more. Oh, God is not a woman or our estrogen wouldn't go away and hormone replacement therapy wouldn't be linked to stroke and breast cancer!

Mr. Match and I were discussing this over a drink last night (yes, I saw Mr. Match) and he said he thinks porn sites become very boring very quickly. God (the masculine Unknowable) bless him. He said he'd rather touch the real thing any day. At least I think that's what he said. I was enjoying his touch so much my mind wandered.

Isn't it interesting how many different opinions can exist on one topic? Isn't the human brain a wonder?!

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Things That Make Me Happy

I had dinner with Ty and Jaci and the babies last night. As I was leaving, Boston was being five years old and wouldn't kiss me good-bye. It made me sad, as I realized there are 19 days left when I can get in-person hugs and kisses. Of course, that then made me reflect on everything in my life that's less than optimal (oh, don't I do this well?). No man in my life. A house with backed-up plumbing. A job with crummy benefits and somewhat meager salary. Woe is me.

As I was going through this litany of woes in my head, the Et Resurrexit of the Bach "Mass in b minor" came on XM Classics. Wow! That movement makes me smile and makes my heart leap for joy every time I hear it. That then led me to thinking about all the things that make me happy. Of course many of them are related to music.

In addition to that Bach mass, much of Bach's music lights me up. I've got a Baroque soul.
Also:


  • Brahms Liebeslieder Walzer, which I sang in college

  • Mozart four-hand piano sonatas, specifically the D Major, which the PianoLady and I have played more times than I can count.

  • Fauré Requiem, which John and I sang in the Church of the Madeleine in Paris, accompanied on the organ that Fauré played during his tenure there.

  • The fugue form in general. I love the mathematical precision of the fugue. It appeals to my brain. Okay, so I'm a geek.

  • Saint-Saëns "Organ Symphony", from which was drawn the music for the movie "Babe" (which I also love).

  • Rachmaninoff "Rhapsody on a Theme by Paganini", and the movie "Somewhere in Time" whose sound track is based on that work.

  • Bach "Air on a G String", from the Suite in D.

  • Any piano music that I learned as a child.

  • "Lady of Spain" played on the accordion (which I played as a child).


Okay, and there are non-musical things that light me up, such as:


  • Daffodils, specifically in Rock Creek Park

  • Fall leaves, especially in Rock Creek Park

  • The sound of Rock Creek breaking over the rocks


Ummm, do you see a pattern here?

Oh yeah, the sparkle of Rock Creek in the sun as seen from the front deck of our house on Irving Street, NW. And the sound of the gibbons and the lions from the zoo on sunny mornings.

Now that I memorialize this partial list, I guess I don't have it so bad. Now if I can just forget men, jobs, 55-year-old plumbing (in the house, not in me!), and the fact that the babies are leaving in 18 days, I guess my life is pretty happy.

(added later upon reflection)

Singing harmony!

Monday, January 01, 2007

Happy 2007

And may this year be better than 2006!

I'm feeling better but still sick. My ribs hurt from so much coughing. And tomorrow I have to go back to work, so I'm lying low today.

Frank came over last night, brought me some homemade split pea soup and we watched Da Vinci Code. Yeah, yeah — I was lonely. It was nice to spend time with him. I enjoy his company. But toward the end of the movie his new girlfriend called, on her way home from the wedding she had attended. And I could hear the spark in his voice. And it hurt.

I'm starting 2007 with no relationship and no idea where I'll be six months from now or this time next year. I sent off two resumes yesterday — one to D.C. and one to Chicago. I have, truly, no expectations for 2007. So maybe things will turn out good. I guess we'll see, huh?

Stay tuned.

P.S. Since nobody chimed in, I'll tell you — the plural of Kleenex is Kleenii. ;-)