Looking for Love

Still Alone: Why Change?

Sailboat off Lake Worth Beach

Recently, I went on two dates with a very nice man who I refer to as the Jewish Doctor. Alas, there will be no third date with said gentleman despite his clear intelligence and interesting stories—two strong positives for me, as well as his sense of enthusiasm for the future. What made me decide against a continuation was my growing discomfort with spending time with someone who has a lot to say, but not a lot to ask. As in, he was very interested in talking about himself, but not so much in finding out about me. On date two, we walked around a park where he seemed to enjoy his talking and my head nodding. When I discerned his lack of curiosity in me and my past, I let myself simply respond to him, which is not where I want to be in a relationship. It is tiring and uninspiring to see that someone sees you merely as a backdrop to himself.

During dinner I learned about his family’s history and dynamics. I also learned more about his desire to sail around the world when he retires in a few years—and his expectations for the “anointed” woman who would join him on his sailing adventures. It was, as older daughter noted, a job interview. But I will not take the job, as tempting as it may seem (and it was tempting), because in all the hours we spent together, he did not seem to care about me except as how I could be of service to him.  

As a teacher and, honestly, as an adult, I have learned to ask questions. While I may also interrupt people (I blame teaching, as well as being a New Yorker and Israeli for that), but I am honestly curious about them. I want to know about their experiences and how they responded to them and what they mean to them. Seems like it should be basic: an interaction based on words that creates a new experience.

Towards the end of our dinner at a Greek restaurant, I couldn’t take it anymore, so I asked if he had any questions for me. He answered, “No.” Mind you, by this time in the approximately eight hours we had spent together he did not know where I went to college or what I had studied (we covered his academic career), that I had lived in Israel (we had covered where he had lived and some of his travels), why I became a teacher (yes, I knew why he became a doctor), or even what I write (I had said that I go to a certain coffee shop to write, but there was no follow up question, not a “What do you write?” or a “Have you been published?”). I was stunned by his bluntness—and disregard.

Perhaps he realized that it was not okay to so openly admit his lack of interest in my life, so he asked—a repeat of the question that I had just asked him—what I was looking for in a partner. So, the one question that he asked me was, in reality, about himself and not about me.

Since that date, I have continued swiping left and right on the dating app I have been using. But I am back to thinking that nothing will come of it and that it is probably for the best. I like being a single retired woman.

It’s funny that I should feel that I’m in control of my life now when I live with my mother, watching to see if she needs any help, and that I plan to move to be closer to my daughters, with my mother joining me when she’s ready. I know that I generally try to adjust myself to accommodate others, so perhaps being with a man again would be too much adjusting for me. I fear that I would lose too much of myself that I fought so hard to gain after my marriage and divorce, and two short-lived relationships. For years in my marriage, I would do what I thought was necessary to please my husband—to be a good wife. But I don’t want to go back to shape-shifting to fit someone else. Maybe being married was the anomaly in my life and being alone is the natural state.

Thinking back over the beginning of the pandemic when we were in lockdown, I can’t imagine how hard it would have been if I hadn’t been alone. And, even now, living with my mother, it’s a challenge for me to always be so visible. The constant drag of interacting, of not being able to retreat into myself, is hard. Sometimes I wonder why being in a couple up is the natural order of things. Then I remember that there has been joy with others, whereas alone I only reach contentment.

Perhaps I need to rethink relationship possibilities, where the expectations need to be transformed to fit my changed awareness. As I told the Jewish Doctor, I’m looking for someone with whom I can get out and do things, Over the years of being single, I have discovered that there just might be some things that are better done together. Sure, I have enjoyed wandering around cities and parks on my own, but staying within my thoughts and observations sometimes feels like I am living in a loop rather than being in a dynamic situation. Perhaps I need to maintain my home as my space (mentally and physical) and not even consider sharing it with someone. With this as my baseline decision, perhaps I can imagine a different future. Of course, it still won’t work with someone who sees me as a backdrop.  

It seems that I just talked myself into still swiping.

Morning Waves of Envy

June 2017 Bronx Botanical Garden
Rose Garden, Bronx Botanical Gardens


I’m trying to figure out if I’m envious of my colleagues and friends who have recently entered into serious relationships, or if I’m just a good friend who’s happy for their happiness. The of-the-moment me, before my me-me-me thoughts intrude, jumps up and down for joy, echoing their abandon and confidence. Who could deny the sensuous pull of new love?

The cynical part of me, though, feels as would a woman in a long-term relationship (I had been in one of those; 21-years) who looks on with a haughty, bemused expression, thinking back to her own romantic beginnings and where they had led her. Wondering, as the weight of her accumulated grievances bring her down, how could anyone be so naïve.

But the part of me that’s a tad uneasy about being alone in the somewhat-distant future, when I start to fall apart inside and out, wishes that envy were at my core, driving me to actively seek out someone whom I could love for making me feel protected and adored. A stroke to the ego and a helping hand can’t be the worst things in the world, especially when I can imagine regret tearing at the edges of my days and a wobble as I steady myself for standing.

My bitter divorce (10 years next month!—unbelievable how time zooms), my brief manipulative relationships, and various bland dates should have cleared me from harboring envious thoughts, but, I realize sadly, they have not. I really do wish my thoughts were untainted, but, unfortunately, they aren’t. That doesn’t mean that I’m going to act on them, though, because my envy-penetrating walls still offer more comfort than unease.

As I see picture after picture of couples enjoying summer baseball games at stadiums around the country, I wonder, as I sit at my dining/writing table, about missing the opportunities that paired life seamlessly present. Again, envy prickles, because isn’t that, still, what I’m supposed to want. It’s hard to look past the social norm that summer vacation is to accumulate shared experiences, especially with a partner.

For a while now my purpose has been unmoored from that base, though still tenuously tethered to that ill-fitting norm, hence the creep of envy. But what if my purpose has morphed to ensure that I always have solitary breathing time and space from which the thoughts that nourish me propagate, and not for the activities and chatter. Perhaps the envy surfaces to force me to continually re-assess my stability and happiness. Perhaps it is not to unnerve me and push me toward abandoning my path, but rather to check in, to see if this is still right for me.

Looking at those paired smiles I need to invite the envy, not fear it, for I want my life to remain vibrantly my own. I need to anticipate that my perceptions may change and not shut them out, beyond my walls. For now, envy quickly fades back to sympathy, signaling that, for now, I am right where I need to be.


Let Shrillness Ring



This is for my student who wrote “rape won”;

for my daughter who thought sexism was dead;

for the girls who deal with boys being boys;

for the sluts we are for having a woman’s body.


Let our shrill voices rise and spread until they are heeded directives.

Let our bitchiness thrive until it is the norm that is no longer placated and silenced.


Don’t try to soothe us: we are beyond appeasement.

We don’t want your condescending advice dictated in superior tones.

We are not the vessels of your perverted visions;

We are

Not of you

We are of ourselves and the people who respect

Our bodies

Our minds

Our moods


Our stubbornness.


We are the pinpricks of conscience you feel, but don’t acknowledge.

You don’t know this, but

we mock you and your need to control and limit—

for we rise and thrive past your oppression,

but you, you are tied to it—constricted by the emptiness of your own binds.


Each of us is

a fountain that cannot be contained;

a decision that banishes naysayers;

an emotion that unites;

propelling us forward—past the misogynists

and into the respectful reality we envision for ourselves

and each other.


Ours is a vision that cannot be crushed:

united together

woman women.  


Why Date?

Cherry tomato

The last of the cherry tomatoes growing on my balcony.

It’s been a while since my ex-husband ruined my life. So long ago, in fact, that sometimes I think about how his life has been ruined and feel sorry for him, and not in the pitying vindictive way people imply when they mention karma.

The years of shredding my self-confidence have faded, leaving behind the dullness of disappointment. In him. In myself. Making me, not quite regret, but wonder about what might have been if we had caught ourselves before bitterness seeped into the solitary spaces of a marriage between opposites.

The impact, though, is on far more than the lost possibilities in our joint past; it is in my resistance to wanting to have a relationship today.  

I tell friends that there are no men to meet, that no men attract me, and I joke about the men online (who start each sentence of their profile with “I,” and have manly pictures on motorcycles, and refer to women as girls, and write about wanting to impale a woman’s mind into his mind to discover something worthwhile). And about the men who make it past that hurdle to a date [there were the guys with whom I barely made it through the complementary one hour of conversation; the antisemite who thought he was going to score; the guy who brought his own teabag to Starbucks (not because he was a tea snob, but so he could just pay for his cup of hot water); the guy who didn’t believe in evolution (he made it to date five and sex before this revelation); and the married guy whose wife had a brain tumor who left (after paying the bill) when I was in the bathroom, sick from attempting to drink two lemon drop martinis]. I even comment, in a completely judgmental way, to my mother that when I look at my friends’ husbands, there is not a one who, in other circumstances, would entice me. Nice men, but not the man for me. She, being a supportive mother, states the same about her friends’ husbands.

Notwithstanding my objective lack of success, I wonder if there is a subjective element that bars me from meeting the/a man. Perhaps the question isn’t Why haven’t I met someone, but—with a slight shrug—Why would I want to meet someone.

The last time I was in a relationship was more than four years ago, with Kenny, who lived with me and my younger daughter for a year and a half. He said he loved me with all his heart and would do anything for me. Anything, it turned out, but make me happy. In that relationship I was increasingly stifled by his need to be acknowledged and loved in the ways that suited him. Which, not surprisingly, inevitably meant his disappointment in something I did or did not do in accordance with his desires, which, of course, made his love for me “better” than my love for him. I will freely admit that I ignored his request to wear dresses when we went out. Even if I liked wearing dresses, which I don’t (and he could have seen that in our closet), that was a huge invite for me to definitely not wear a dress even if I felt like it. Why is it so difficult for men to understand one of the thickest redlines they should not cross with a woman (it can’t just be me) is to tell her what to wear. I got the petulant silent treatment for wearing pants.

My reaction to his suggestion/demand shouldn’t have been a surprise because during our long conversations, when he was living in Beirut and then Belfast, I would tell him how harmed I had been by my husband’s controlling ways. He had been so understanding and supportive. He knew that I was dealing with the residual pain of insults and put downs, of my desires deemed wrong or inappropriate, and my need to not be curated.

So his man-structing was unexpected and devastating.

When we argued, I couldn’t leave the room because of his fear of abandonment. But what of my need to be alone and think so as not to immediately lash out? Being told that I needed to argue in a way that supported him was another redline too many. The relationship became as if on a continuum with how my husband had tried to control my actions and thoughts and emotions, or maybe it was worse because I had opened up to Kenny about retreating into self and how I was trying to not shut down.  

The best part of that relationship were the trips we took together. We would talk in the car, opening up our internal monologues as we drove along the Pacific Ocean from San Francisco to Los Angeles, or along highways and backroads from Virginia to Key West and back again. We wanted to stop at the same time and try the same places, and we even needed pee breaks at the same time. We were in unison, at least on the road. But at home, his need to be taken care of, which had to be done exactly as he wished to prove my love and to prove that he was lovable, underpinned his declarations of love. I was increasingly reminded of how unhappy I had become in my marriage as I tried now to make him happy. I didn’t have the energy or the desire to take on someone else’s emotions.

If you’re not one of my daughters, then I don’t want to take care of you. (Except, maybe my mother, and I’m dreading that scenario.) And he did want to be taken care of. As did my ex-husband.

And I did it.

But I don’t want to anymore.

On weekends, I don’t want to think about what someone else wants for breakfast and I don’t want to try to anticipate his desires. And to be fair, I don’t want someone trying to cater to me.

My standing weekend desire for a soft scrambled egg with feta and fresh herbs from my balcony garden, right after I wake up and take Poops for his morning walk, and as soon as the coffee in the French press is ready, the bread toasted to a warm brown, every section of the newspaper available, and no talking required, is, frankly, why I don’t want to date.

Beyond the fear of being hurt and undermined again, lies the very basic question: What do I want out of my life?

Surely my inability to formulate a substantial why I should want to be in a relationship is a reflection of past failures, but I can’t help but dread that it would be more of a diversion from how I want to live and what I want to do, than a benefit. Do I want to be in a relationship just to have someone with whom I can travel or rehash the stresses of the workday? My inability to even perceive a relationship as a source of respectful, supportive love shows my state of being.

My two friends who date the most, and are in and out of relationships like my high school students, are also the ones with the most out-going personalities. Both of their lives center around doing, and not around contemplation (there are no books in their homes) or fulfilling an inner drive to create or express themselves. Perhaps relationships are their manner of expression.

I would rather sit by myself in an internal monologue than have a conversation, day in and day out, just to fill the time and play a role.

Am I missing the chance at a great love that will imbue my world with joy?

I had that grand romantic love when I was first with my ex-husband. I needed it then. He helped pull me out of myself and into the world. I was aglow; I bubbled. Now when I think about those years it occurs to me how intensely focused we were on each other. I can’t imagine wanting to narrow down my life again. If by some outrageous dating app algorithm that intensity of love at 22 were to revisit me, that insular quality of being part of a couple is not something I want to relive. An identity as part of a couple is not something for which I yearn.

I was married for 21 years; approximately 15 of those made the marriage worthwhile. So moments of envying people in marriages and relationships are quickly overridden when I realize that I prefer to be alone or with different friends, without limiting myself, then always having a partner, even if he is not physically present at that moment.

A life of placid contentedness is not a surrender, it is lake upon which I float or into which I plunge, knowing that no one will interrupt my daydreaming in the tub.  

Thinking about Tongues

Hot pink spring begins

Look! No snow.


Last night, on the first second date I’ve had in a long time, I experienced time travel. How my 13-year-old self entered my body the moment his tongue sought its way into my mouth is a wonder. But there I was, mother of two, uncertain how to react. It was odd to have someone searching his way into my mouth, making me understand that French kissing is a skill that one does forget. As I broke off kiss one and just as we were going into kiss two, it occurred to me that I don’t have to do this if I don’t want to. And so I stopped kiss two before it really began (right as that tongue came back in and I realized that I need to send mine out on a return foraging trip), said an awkward good night with an awkward hug, and got into my car.

All of which made me realize that the fumbler I had been in my younger years was not because I needed experience to kiss and make love like a mature woman, rather I needed passion beyond the lust, and that still holds true. It was a relief to realize that before I had the chance to ridicule myself for ineptitude, rather than listening to my tongue’s blunt signal.

When people ask the hypothetical: If you could, would you live your life all over again? I generally respond with a resounding Yes. Who wouldn’t want a chance for a great big REDO? (Except for my daughters, of course!) But now I wonder. That kiss made me comprehend, in a way that I hadn’t before, that I have neither the desire nor the energy to relive those endlessly demoralizing battles of self vs. norms vs. expectations vs. boys ever again.

I can remember a sixth-grade kiss in the playground in front of the apartment building where I grew up that pummeled me with doubt. Why did he kiss me? What else would he expect from me? What should I do? Was this okay? Did I want this? And, embarrassingly, what was his name? This set into motion a steady stream of uncertainties that ran in the back of my head far too often in the years to come. (Sadly, that was not the last time I entertained the name question.) The fact that those questions didn’t run in the back of my head when I met my ex-husband has made me even warier. What’s a woman to do who eventually thought that her intuition was trustworthy only to be confronted with its extreme fallibility?

With gratitude, in the minutes after I drove away from my potential paramour, I channeled back my 53-year-old self, the woman who has lived through her life and recognizes that the voice in her head is not the voice of frustrated hopes nor is it the whispered desires of men, but her own voice: a voice that knows that the only question to entertain is Do I want this—with this man? Because in those brief moments, I knew that I wanted it, as in romance and passion, but I wanted to feel my way into it, not think about it.

When I told a recently-divorced friend who is not dating that there would be no date three, she responded, “But you are trying and that is good.” I’m not sure if I agree with that; if anything, I have come to see that the more I date, the more skeptical I become. It’s so much harder to open up to someone once you don’t need anything and it is only a question of desires. Because once it’s about a desire, it’s also about being satisfied without.

And so I will go to bed alone, unable to even imagine what it would look or feel like to have someone beside me, but at least I’m not trampled by the implications of that knowledge, because there aren’t any.

Or maybe the implication is that I live in a state of contentment and possibility; kind of like opening the door on Passover for Elijah the Prophet to come in and have a sip of wine at your Seder. If he doesn’t come, you knew it wasn’t real any way; but just in case, there’s always next year.

No New Man Friend, But Lots of New Women Friends

Crane and geese

Gray crane and Canadian geese.

In the past week I went to three events that were equally about getting me out of the house and possibly meeting a man of interest. As things go with me, at each event I met a wonderful person, albeit, a woman. It was the same at the event for non-fiction writers, as at the hike across the Potomac River, as at Saturday night bowling. As location location location applies for homes, timing timing timing seems to apply to friendships.

The writers’ event was a dinner with a guest speaker, at one very long table, so your possible chat mates were the people who arrived right before or after you. Both of the nearby men were married and they seemed to be there solely to learn about the writers’ retreat that was being discussed. I hate to admit this, but I didn’t feel like expending talk energy with people who didn’t see me; besides, as soon as the speaker finished answering questions, I started talking to the woman on my left and she was too interesting to abandon for any attempt at equal-opportunity chatting. It wasn’t just that she said she is a psychic and sees the dead, but we clicked in such a way as to enable casual conversation hopping from talking about writing to work to children to places we’ve lived and back around again. There is nothing quite like a free flow of ideas whose essence is pure flow. It reminds you that there are interesting people in the world and that you have a few “interesting” cards up your own sleeves.

The Saturday hike was glorious. It was an April day in February, a break from the polar vortex. The 75 of us who had signed up for the event through a Meet-up were meeting at a point under the Wilson Bridge in Alexandria, Virginia. As usual, I got there early. Three other early-arriving women began talking once we identified that we were part of the group and together we walked to the meeting spot. As more and more people came, women and men, we stayed in our group, joined by a few more single women. It felt comforting to be formed into a group within the group, to no longer be alone, wistfully wishing not to be alone, noticing so profoundly all of the people who arrived in couples, even if they were the minority.

As we began our walk, we paired off, and Nan became my hike partner. How did it work out that the woman I walked with had an ex-husband who was eerily reminiscent of mine, and how is it that she filed for divorced around the same time I did, and how is it that she was here for the same reasons as I was (this one I think I can figure out)? We walked seven miles, over to Maryland and back, with a stop for coffee, tea, and bathroom, with nary a break in the conversation.

That same night I went bowling. When I left the bowling alley to wait in my car because, once again, I was too early, another woman came out of her car and said that she, too, was early for bowling. So together we went back in and talked, and joined up with other people as they came in. For the rest of the night it was as if we were old friends, encouraging each other, as we hit strikes or the gutter.

As much as we are alone in the world, we are not. Who needs six degrees of separation when the person who just happens to come stand next to you, if given the chance, could become a close friend.

Which makes me wonder why it’s so easy to make friends with women, and so hard to find a man with whom I want to sit around a table sipping coffee for more than an hour?

When I meet a woman I have no walls to guard and I am as me as a person is in public. More importantly, I take her for who she is and how she presents herself. I am not critiquing her for transgressions of my own rules. I am not scrutinizing her to catch moral lapses. I am not evaluating her, wondering about her job stability or any stability for that matter, and I am certainly not considering if I could be with this person for longer than the moments of this moment. It is a friendship based on this experience and the honesty that temporary relationships enable.

I used to think that this ease of conversation was because women are better at conversation and making friends, but I think that the error is mine. These are not apples and oranges. How can you compare an interaction with a person for whom you have no expectations to an interaction with a person for whom you have partner-for-life expectations? Imagine getting dressed the same way to meet a man as to meet a female friend. But I wonder if that isn’t what I need to do: stop trying to meet my future and try to engage my present. Perhaps I am the one who is failing in my own expectations, focusing so much on that alternative commentary in my head that I don’t give men a chance.

On Thursday I have a coffee date. I am going to challenge myself not to challenge him, but to meet him as I would a friend. Try to give us each a chance to be, in a sense, girlfriends before bedfellows.

Clothes, I’m thinking that I won’t abandon going for cleavage just yet. 

The Pain of Dating

Grey heron

Grey heron that lives in the pond near my home. 

Last Saturday night’s first date managed to be boring in a pleasing way because it clarified that there doesn’t need to be a second date to know that there is no potential. I understand and accept that we’re all basically dull, but some people manage to ignite a spark that brings out your very own somnolent spark, and, my, then there is charm and passion and potential. That, of course, is why I keep going on these first dates.

What set this date apart was when we veered into the banality of his anti-Semitism. One moment he was saying that he has no desire to travel to Israel, and then he was saying, “Jews should atone for killing God.” I’m sure my face reflected the surprise and horror that I felt. My saying “Jews didn’t kill Jesus, the Romans did,” was not met with a silly me, of course they didn’t sort of “taking it back” comment from him. I attempted a mini-lesson, but when I broached the idea that even if they had, it happened more than 2000 years ago, so why continue punishing Jews now was met with incredulity, which transitioned to shock when I stated that I didn’t think Jesus was God, but a Jewish guy who wanted to shake things up. It was as if it was the first time he had ever heard that someone didn’t believe in Jesus. A bit like what it was for me to hear such blatant anti-Semitism spoken right at me—and for him not to even realize that he had said something offensive,  

It’s odd, isn’t it, that we know that other people have different ideas and beliefs than we do, but when we’re confronted with them in the guise of the person you had been sharing a meal with it becomes a wall instead of an abstract idea.

He stopped my explanations by stating that he has his beliefs and I have mine, and that’s that.

When I told a friend what he said, she suggested that I use this opportunity to instruct him about the repugnance of his comment and that it is not a matter of opinion, but of bigotry. I spent a day considering what to say to him; in the end, I opted for simply stating that I found his comment about Jews to be offensive—that it was anti-Semitic. His response? None.

It’s not just the arrogance of his ignorance that got to me, but the settledness that his beliefs are facts. From the little I know of this man, I know that he didn’t read anything to come up with this idea, that, surely, he accepted what some pastors have preached. So the ball of blame rolls up. What is the point to preach this? What is the point to purposefully incite animosity and hatred toward Jews? Are we not allowed to not believe in your guys in peace?

Dating is supposed to be about romance, but I’m finding less hand-holding than general sadness. We middle-aged people who are still or again looking for love are, to varying degrees, bitter and forlorn. For goodness’ sakes, 52 years in and I haven’t found the face I want to see when I close my eyes. We all tell each other that it doesn’t matter, that we are content with our lives, and we are. But then why do we look at picture after picture and read profile after profile hoping to find a match, a mate, someone who will relieve us from continually realizing that, for all we have done and all we have given, we are alone. Alone is not bad, and often I revel in the wonder of aloneness of weekends when I don’t have to talk to anyone or do anything that I don’t want to, and the aloneness of weekdays when I can come home from work and retreat into myself after a day of teaching, but the unceasing nature of it bogs down my ebullience.

I will try to learn my lesson: I will adhere to my red flags. With this man I ignored my red flag of profiles that are too lengthy. That would not have warned me about his anti-Semitism, but I would have prevented myself from having been exposed to it. At least I know that the lengthy profile red flag does, indeed, point to a self-absorbed person. 

Looking for Love Online: Giving Up

For me the summer will officially be over next Monday when I go back for my week of teacher-training and preparation for the big start the following week. The new year will begin as the last year ended on the romance front, but at least in June there was the hope of a summer romance. Now there is the reality of no summer romance and a deepening understanding that I really might be headed to a Golden Girls scenario down the road.

Not only was the romance-less summer disappointing, the few dates or communications that I had have caused pain. Maybe I need to have thicker skin, but if I was going to have thicker skin, it would have developed by now—and it hasn’t, not by the slightest fraction of an inch. It really is you out there, alone, sitting at a computer or a table opposite someone who has his own agenda or expectations that you think should be benign—positive even—but they just don't always end up to be so.

Just this week a lovely widowed Frenchman who has been raising his son by himself who lives nearby, but is currently working in Nigeria building roads, toyed with me. Oh, it was fun. It turns out it’s easy to overcome your finely-tuned instincts when you are fawned over by a handsome man. But today, when I was told that he was upset, that something had happened, that he planned to commit suicide the antennae were up—but so was the seriously concerned heart beating far too fast. When the gunshot sound came through the computer I thought “Oh, no,” and ever so cautiously “What’s going on?” But it was all good in the end, because apparently all he needed was to send some money to his uncle who could then file the papers he needed to….SPAM.

Then there was the man who, apparently, on our one and only date was really filling out an internal questionnaire. Apparently I did not pass the test because I was not courteous enough to the waitress and, I guess, I didn’t cry out in the way of being saved at some revival that he is the man for me. I know that I failed the test because he contacted me about a second date and apparently I again failed the test because my response was a little harsh. What do these men think? They tell you that they have “too many issues” in their life to get involved and then a week later say, no, you know, I really do like you so let’s meet again. Men, know that even single women are people.

I almost forget to mention the older man who seriously looked older than elder. Not just that, our conversation really highlighted that he was of a totally different generation than me. Now I know what I must sound like to my students.

Too bad that I finally splurged on a three-month membership to JDate, because apparently I don’t turn the Jewish guys on either. Oy.

There was one very nice man with whom I had two dates. But the sparks didn’t fly. Too bad.

At this point I’m not so worried that some date will read what I have said about previous dates here because I’m expectationless.

I still don’t regret telling pseudo-man that I don’t want to get together with him now that he really is separated. Even though he is the only man who has sailed my ship, I have learned something, and that is that I really do need to worry about myself and not be here as a platform for a man’s ego.

Oh, and I’ve finally gotten started on my novel and it is going well. There’s a romance in it. And it’s lovely. I think I’ll focus on this fictional romance for a while. So far the gentleman is courteous, caring, compassionate and his kisses…well, you’ll have to read the book. Now that I have so much time to work on it, it shouldn’t take too long to finish writing (and enjoy imagining) it.

P.S.  I had one more date set up for this afternoon, which I decided to go on. It was, truly, the cherry on top. The man had answered my ad, it turns out, because he likes to hear people's stories. It also turns out that he is married, not happy, and thinking that maybe sometime he will have an affair. This is the man who told me, shocker, that he is very conservative. After I gave my mini-lecture on being forthright and not lying to people, I got up and left. Leaving behind my frozen lemonade but not a shred of myself.  

Dating is Like Being a Politician

It just occurred to me that dating is like being a politician. Everything you type or say or do is scrutinized to the umpteenth degree. But whereas politicians are allowed their occasional moral lapses, daters are not. One incorrect comma or comment and you are voted out of contention. Photographs are the most damaging. Any inconsistencies with expectations of hair, height, and heft will cause you to not even get your name on the primary ballot.

I say this not only because I have suffered from backlashes, but because I seem to be as guilty as the press in highlighting lapses and forgetting about positives. Aren’t we supposed to be looking for the good in each other and not the bad? Or is fear of backing a losing candidate causing too many things to become red flags?

Now I just need to figure out how it is that so many politicians, once they get past the scrutiny and get elected, manage to have wives and girlfriends? Is this akin to money going to money? Or ice cream going to my thighs?

Some Men I Have Been Annoying Lately

I’m not sure what’s going on, but it must be that either I grate a lot of men the very wrong way or the men with whom I have come into contact lately are in very bad moods. Is it me or is it them? Is it some prickliness that seems to have become a part of me? Or is it my mouth—and fingers—and how they say what I think are fine things but other people, boy, they hear other things.

Man at graduation ceremony: During the graduation ceremony for my school I was working the security detail, which means that I was to stand at a portal of the sports center to ensure that people were sitting in their seats and the space for the handicapped was used appropriately. There was a “professional” security person at that portal as well, along with two other teachers. We got there an hour before the ceremony began, which is when the doors opened.

A woman with her mother in a wheelchair arrived at least a half hour early. The mother is afraid of heights so she didn’t want to sit right at the railing, instead the two of them sat back a bit.

For some reason, the security guard agreed to let five very heavy women sit in seats in the handicapped area, but enough space was left so that the mother and her daughter could see from their spot away from the edge.

A half hour after the ceremony began a man arrived with his mother in a wheelchair, his wife and kids. I approached him and (I think) politely told him that he can’t put the chair in that spot since it would block the view of the woman sitting in her wheelchair. His comment to me was basically, “You’re going to tell me what to do?” “Yes,” I said, “I am.” At which, I swear, I could hear his chauvinistic wheels turning. He said that the woman needs to move there and if not there is no reason why he can’t put his mother there. “Because you can’t,” I said. I saw no reason to explain to this man this woman’s fear of heights and just said that she came early and she was unable to move up. Again the chauvinistic wheels churned, he said “Call security,” and he shoved his wheelchair forward, put his mother into place and went to sit in the stands. (There was still space for them to see, they needed to do an angle thing to their bodies.)


Settlement attorney:  Not only was he extremely unfriendly [perhaps because he didn’t like that he felt obliged to let my lawyer (a woman) and me sit in his golf-obsessed office] but he, too, had the boy tantrum thing going on. When we got to the signing part of the day, when exman threatened to leave because I wouldn’t sign something, that was okay. But when I went out of the room for a moment to talk to my lawyer I could hear him raise his voice and say something about “she.” I didn’t hear what he said, but I am sure it was about how “she’s playing games.” Really? I’m just trying not to get screwed anymore and that’s interpreted as playing games. So be it.

Man with no humor: For no real reason, I answered a Craig’s List ad (I know, I know, DON’T GO THERE) and after I made, what I thought was a joke based on a funny spelling mistake that he made, I was told, that he didn’t like being laughed at. I even prefaced the comment with a caveat that I am an English teacher. The puns were funny; what would you do if someone talked about a navel base? Sure, better without him, but what is happening?

Or is nothing happening and I just keep meeting men who quite obviously don’t mesh with me and not to sweat it. But still, you know, it hurts. It hurts to be misconstrued. It hurts to be told that you’re mean when you don’t think you are. It makes me wonder how we can communicate when there are so many ways in which thoughts don’t get understood the way they were meant to be. I did mean to be funny, certainly not hurtful. Was he too sensitive? Am I too insensitive?

Man who really should be spanked: Then there’s the man on Plenty of Fish (no, there aren’t, and yes, I turned my profile off) who about a week ago wrote to me something about being spanked. I did not reply. Today he popped up again, and when I said something about how capitalization and apostrophes are important to me he replied that he has a Ph.D., that I am too anal retentive (is there a proper amount or does my asking this mark me as definitely being anal?) and that I am obviously ignorant, stupid and judgmental. And this from a man who wants to be spanked and compares himself to Einstein because he, too, couldn’t spell. He obviously thought everything he said was okay, but not everything I said. Before I could he reply he had me blacklisted from his account. HELLO, shades of control all over the place.

Is there something I’m missing? Were my years trying to survive exman more damaging than I thought? Is my desire to be blunt and open so that I won’t go into another relationship that will end up leaving me voiceless leaving me open to being insulted and misunderstood? Are men really as controlling as they seem to be? Seriously, what’s with the insults? And why, why do they see everything they utter as charming and me, well, I’ve been blacklisted, deleted and side-swiped. 

It’s been about two years since I started dating. In that time, I only dated one man more than three times and he turned out to be the incredibly unreliable pseudo-man. I’ve been told I’m too picky. I’ve been told that being friends is not enough. I haven’t been moved by anyone. It took a while, but now I’m really wondering about my man antennae, after all I picked exman/slime and pseudo both of whom turned out to be controlling, mind-game players and dangerously selfish. I’ve been told I’m fat (sorry, not “height-weight proportionate”). I have not responded to men who were not attractive to me or with whom I did not feel that there was enough to go on for a relationship to develop. Time, yes, time may be what will bring about a meeting of man and woman. And going with the flow and not trying to force things may also work. I’ve been told to join groups, and maybe I will (other than women’s groups that is, and the political group turned out to include women and retired people). But that still doesn’t answer my question as to why I feel that I have been encountering so much negativity and nastiness.

I genuinely don’t get it. Are men too serious or am I too irreverent? Oh, who cares. (Yes Microsoft Word, I am overriding your desire to have me put a question mark there.) They’re not even funny stories anymore; they’re not entertaining and they’re certainly not making me feel good about my prospects for finding a decent, loving, intelligent, caring man who doesn’t go running to the hills at my humor or try to mini-sermonize me.
Alone is good. I know that. And I revel in the freedom I feel and the joy of a simple flow of life. I should stop reaching for a while. I should stop worrying about what others think, that is until I find others who like how I think, then I will attend to them.

My heart. I guess I need to put it back into my chest, but it keeps wanting to find a playmate. 

Looking for Love Online: Plenty of Fish

Someone suggested that since Craig’s List and Chemistry were not working for me, I should try Plenty of Fish. On this free site, you post a picture and fill out some information on yourself, and your ideal first date. If someone is interested in you they can either put you on their favorites list hoping that you’ll send them a note (for the less bold), or he will directly contact you with a note (the notes are on the site, only notifications that “you have mail” go to your email).

Now, I have to admit that I had a nice date (not getting expectations up) this weekend with one man I met on the site (the soccer-playing scientist), and may have one this week with the lawyer who would rather paint. But I just could not resist sharing with you some of the notes I have received. They are just too… well… when you read them you will wonder how anyone got out of school (elementary?) and through half a life with such thin communication skills. I am sorry in advance if I offend any of these men, but really, they should put more effort into themselves than anger directed at me for exposing their paltry writing skills and thinking ability. There were some more normal responses, but they were far outnumbered by these ineffectual ones and they are not mockable.

I have included the age of the writers in parentheses because I think it’s interesting to know; also, I have changed phone numbers and names to protect the guilty.

Subject: Hi!!!
Hi Cutie!!!!
I did want to just let you know that I just got done browsing every woman on the east coast.......Thats 14 states and thought Id let you know that you are definatley the cutiest, sweetest,Hottest most Georgous woman on here!!!!!! It took me 2 months ..11 days..... 16 hrs.....and 22 minutes to do that!!!!!
Shew am I whipped!!!!!
You could be on my FAV 5 anyday!!!!!!!
See ya! Mel

Subject: u are a gorgeous --- do u have yahoo IM
u are a gorgeous --- do u have yahoo IM - what is your id to chat more --

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Mediation, or Sitting around a Big Table with Someone You Hate (Part 3)

This time I lasted twenty minutes around that table. It could be that my lack of patience with slime and mediator man is because this is the third time (1, 2) around that table (with more goodies in the middle that I did not touch) and I already knew how things would go. Or it could be because the day before slime was yelling at me, yet again, for moving his dishes and then within the rant he proceeded to fill a bowl with water and throw it on the fish I had draining in a colander in the sink, and then throw a cup with orange peels in it and so I was in a still annoyed-stressed-exhausted state of mind. I almost threw that cup with orange peels, that I was originally holding in my hand, at him: I raised my hand and saw his red, throbbing face and his little tape recorder and heard his little voice saying, “Don’t touch my things, if you do I will put yours on your bed”; “Call the police”; “I’ll take you to court and win.”And I just knew that I didn’t want to have to pay any more for having made the mistake of staying with this man for too long, and throwing anything at him could do just that. I guess I still haven’t lost my sanity.

Before I walked out, I stood up, told slime that I don’t have to listen to him insult me anymore and said to deer-in-the-headlights mediator man that it’s not okay that he lets slime speak to me like that.

What especially stands out is that slime is whining that he has to pay me $5,000 (which is a lot less than the $25,000 he should owe me but I relinquished $20,000 to get moving last time; I did say that he stole it from me). Then, when I said that he still hadn’t paid for $1,000 of home repairs his little voice started saying, “Read what the contract says.” Uh, no. No maneuverings, you should have paid for more repairs; it’s not legalese here, it’s about getting the house attractive enough to invite an offer. And that stupid mediator man is not able to discern a difference between how the two of us act or talk?!

By now I know that not only is mediator man not on my side, but more of the “yes, what this guys says makes sense” kind of person because, as my mother says, he hasn’t really seen him. Her analogy was a gynecologist who never gave birth. If you haven’t lived with this type of manipulative person and seen how he twists everything, you might think that he makes sense. When I said, no, I don’t agree to slime’s new price both slime and mediator man came in on a chorus that the court won’t address this. The implication was clear, do what he says because you have no other recourse. Really I thought, thinking of Leopard-Lady Lawyer.

Continue reading "Mediation, or Sitting around a Big Table with Someone You Hate (Part 3)" »

Looking for Love Online: Yes, I’m Jewish

I am well-aware that religion is a very personal thing and no one is forced to have to deal with anyone else’s religion, or even their own for that matter, but I must say that the number of men on Chemistry.com who don’t want a Jewish woman in their lives is becoming disturbing. It’s not upsetting in the “Oh, no, there goes another potential life partner,” but disturbing in the sense that people are hunkering down in their own religion (whether they practice or not) and don’t want to dabble outside of those lines. I have noticed four trends for the opposite sex in the religion category: anybody who believes in anything or believes in nothing; spiritual but not religious; any type of Christianity; any type of Christianity or Muslim or Hindu. Nu, should I have gone to Jdate maybe?

I understand, really I do. I would prefer to date someone who is Jewish just because there would be a commonality there and, honestly, I don’t get Jesus. Granted, this not getting is a built-in to how I was raised, but still I have dated outside the faith and didn’t have a problem relating to those men and their religious beliefs and practices. One man was a practicing Catholic who went to mass every week but he still found a curiosity about my religion and I had one about his. Our level of commitment, and thinking about God, and what we got out of our religion was somewhat similar, which perhaps at a day-to-day living level might be better than being of the same religion but with a different commitment and learnings from the religion.

But back to the boys on Chemistry. At this point I just look to see their religious preference and often find myself clicking “Archive” (which means “no, but maybe in the future I will become desperate and will seek even in the reject pile”--they don't let you delete anyone. I wonder if they let men delete?) because why bother with someone who is so dismissive. One man, who seemed charming even though he did exhibit this closedmindedness, I still indicated an interest in; not a shock that he never responded. So they’re off my list. Which seems to make the options even slimmer, what with my also eliminating men whose political affiliation is listed as conservative. I just don’t feel like debating and I don’t want to be with someone again whose political leanings and understandings of the world and one’s responsibilities to the other of the world are so contrary.

Which brings me to another category where I seem to not fit the requirements: everyone seems to want a slender or toned/athletic woman. Some things I can change, some I can’t. Or maybe there are no things I can change and I need not to feel that that will prevent me from finding someone (a true love as we discussed today in class now that we have begun reading Romeo and Juliet) but rather this makes it easier for me to find a man who is looking for me and not bother with anyone else. 

I guess the benefit of the sites where you don’t have to fill out a profile is that you aren’t so dismissive or so dismissed. All the closedmindedness can surely come from experience: you know what you like, but it also has an awful tinge of bigotry. Perhaps this is the modern dating version of “not in my backyard.”

Who knows? At this point I’ve become a practicing skeptic, on both the religion front and the dating-with-positive-results front.

But… I just might be having a dancing date with Carlo who I met on a site where all you start with is a picture and a few words that give as much insight as you want into yourself, and then it’s up to the two of you to see if there is potential chemistry in the email banter. But who knows. I might say something that seems innocent and charming to me but is a red flag for Carlo. Oh, and then there's the tea date with Lee; another man I met on a non religion-expressing site. A busy weekend. I will definitely keep you updated.

Back Home

Here I am, after a four-day trip to LA during which I did too much driving through too much traffic amidst inconsiderate drivers (even taking into consideration New York drivers) and in full-view of too many accidents. The car that careened into the dividing wall after, I assume, the driver pressed on his brakes too hard was far too much drama for me. Older daughter’s response a few moments later was: “Why are you driving so slowly?” And younger daughter’s response when I told her about the accidents I saw was: “Maybe you’re bad luck.” You do have to love those girls: they are committed to not being a support to their mother all the time but becoming their own people with their own thoughts and causing me no end of concern as to their compassion… or lack thereof.

I was free of thoughts of ex-husband, which was good because the moment he noticed my return this morning he was back in slime mode. As I sat down to a plate of too much matzo brie (matzo that is softened in water, then mixed with an egg, heavily salted, and then fried) he took his egg carton out of the refrigerator and said: “Excuse me, these are my eggs.” Yes, he refers to me as “Excuse Me.” Lack of class cannot be made up for by using a term like that when it is dipped in bile. And since my daughter finished my eggs (I guess he knew this because he keeps tabs of things like this) and I knew what response I would get from him if I touched one of his eggs, I calmly responded: “I bought a container of 18 this morning.” And off slime went, leaving behind his dirty and clean dishes for someone else to take care of before more people were supposed to see the house, but didn’t show up.

I shall not dwell on seeing the university where older daughter wants to go except to note that she really wants to live in the LA area and study at this one school and is not concerned about going into massive debt to study there. In my role of mother I have tried to talk to her, but she will be 18 very soon and is very smart and confident. Grandma will try to talk to her tomorrow. It is true, I am not one of those mothers who sets down the law but have tried instead to make my daughters independent women. While I am sure that is the right way, sometimes I wish they would just do what I say!

Dinner with my blogging friend and her family showed me that blogging friends can be real friends. If I had met her in “real” life I am sure that we would have been friends. Dinner, then talking and meandering in a bookstore, and then ice cream—that’s the way to spend some time together away from a keyboard.

Even while ensconced in a hotel room that was formerly part of a silo (with round cement walls to prove it) and the rails of the Atchison, Topeka and the Santa Fe a few yards from the room so that I could hear and feel the trains rush by I was not disturbed into thinking about men or the men who are either not that into me or who are not that into keeping up email correspondence at a Laura-suitable pace. This was good, very good. I was focused where I needed to be.

But just in case you were wondering, I had two emails when I returned from Chemistry-related gentleman: one who seems to be illiterate and the other who is taking too darn long between contacts. I had written him off, and oops, there he is. Oh, and there is a Craig’s List gentleman who seems to be more of a gentleman even though he has no degrees than many of the men who have graduate degrees. No, you cannot be my "pronce charming" whoever you are. And if you start every sentence with “I” in your profile I will archive you. And no, I don’t trust you when you say you want a faithful woman—not with my controlling-man experience. And if you say that a woman should never be in front or behind I will question you too (it was the never in front part that was a real turn-off, why can’t we take turns leading and following?). But we shall see, and if nothing comes of these, then c’est la vie, or c’est ma vie.

I walked a lot. I drove a lot. I didn’t eat too much. I adhered to Passover restrictions except for a couple of self-granted leniencies (I tried not to eat too many of the dry noodles in my awful Asian chicken salad that I didn’t know would be there, and I pretended to be Sephardic one day and had some pinto beans with my rice-less, taco-less Mexican lunch). While I am still not drinking coffee I have not been as good on the chocolate ban. How I wish the cashier at Trader Joe’s in Pasadena would not have wished me a “good evening with your chocolates” on Thursday night. Who says things like that? Besides, I bought the small box of truffles (only 30) and not the big box (50) and there are still some left.

My daughter and I got along most of the time; there were a few snips from her, but she’s really not used to being with mommy so much (or anyone or that matter), and even she said what a good time she had. That would be (as in the good time) except for my repeatedly bringing up the subject of the cost of tuition and her wanting to say “I do” to indebtedness.

And on the subject of meaning of life I decided that I need to do more and think less. So even walks during which I mull to myself need to be supplemented by real action. I’m not quite sure what, but perhaps hiking with other people would be a start. Maybe take a crafts class; I’ve wanted to learn how to throw clay (on a potter’s wheel) for more reasons than creativity.

Which brings me to a discussion of my writing and blogging. I think that I will be cutting back on the number of blog posts I do—that would be daily, and focus more on the questions and then one or two posts a week. This would enable me to start the book that I decided that I need/want to write. I’m not quite sure what shape it will take since the words “fictionalized real-life,” “philosophy of life” and “funny” are battling for control of my mind. I want to keep my connection with my readers, with the blogs I read and with the wonderful world of immediate communication but I also want to explore my depths even more, hence “the book” project.

Lastly. Happy Passover! Happy Easter! May happiness emerge from within us all.

This should be an interesting week: another mediation session.

Looking for Love Online: Twists and Turns

For a while I had a profile up on Match.com and Chemistry.com, since you can have a profile up for free. I had told myself that when I move out of the house I will pay, which means that you could actually make contact with someone and he can contact you, and not just dangle there in dating cyberspace. But for the past few weeks there had been so many nudges (okay, a few, or more than none) (that’s their term for someone who may be interested in you) from men on Chemistry, that I decided to splurge and pay for the three-month membership ($99). I figured that before I give up on finding a man who might be good for me I should expand beyond Craig’s List.

Wouldn’t you know it, but the minute the credit card numbers were sucked in and recorded no one has found me of interest again. And even those who had previously been nudging me were no longer nudging me back when I nudged them back. And those who I, in my forward woman of the modern world guise, nudged did nothing. Sure, most of the men probably haven’t paid their membership either, but what the heck. Maybe this is the Ponzi scheme of the dating world. I have a friend who told me that some sites will send you a picture of an extremely attractive man who wants to meet you to entice you to sign up.

And, indeed, that happened to me in the summer. But they did not trick me, because it happened within my free three-day membership. Yes, he was an attractive and very successful writer and screenwriter; although, the polo-playing was a bit over-the-top and I should have seen the set-up for what it was. Resist I couldn’t. So I responded to said polo playing writer only to have him disappear from view after I responded to his message or comment or love message or whatever the heck it is that they call it.

But back to now. For one week I was checking out men (you get five new matches a day) and putting them in my active matches file and archiving the men who just did not seem that they would be good matches. (For your information, I deleted on the basis of politics, appearance, lack of perceived compatibility in their “mission” statement, and religion if they didn’t even mark Jewish as an option for the woman of their life. And if I hedged, I archived them, figuring that I should see that as intuition to no.)

Combating the negativity that was surrounding me I decided (still being a woman of action and decision, not wanting to be passive) to return to Craig’s List. Yes, I know, what am I thinking? This time I was posting my own ad (I have done this a couple of times in the past and met some friend-quality men). The following is the ad I posted on Saturday night:

Words, laughter, smiles, and lots of walks - 47
The seasons seem to be unsure if it's time to switch, but I'm sure that it's time to switch from being single to being in a relationship.

Sincerity and compassion, as well as the ability to use a comma and an apostrophe correctly, are all things I desire in a man. Anything else? That the as-yet unmet man has a shoulder to lean on and knows when he needs to lean on someone else's shoulder.

Except for a few one-sentence replies that seemed to be the extent of their writing ability and the one man who sent the link to his own ad which ended up being a picture of him and his thingie in a very excited state in his boxers, most seemed to live up to the basic writing requirement. There was one gentleman who commented on two errors in the ad (I have corrected them here), so maybe I was a slacker for him. Two of the automatic deletes included a two-page response about himself and a cut and paste version of his Match.com ad (what, don’t I deserve some creativity?).

I shall admit in this public forum that there was a bit of back and forth (okay one email) that was ended when the gentlemen saw my picture. What is particularly upsetting about this is that in each case I said, “he’s not attractive, or he looks really old, or he looks really weird, or he has a huge chin, but maybe he is nice and we will click so I will respond with my photo” only to have me deleted by said undesirable.

By Sunday morning, when no responses came from the photo-guys, I figured that nothing was going to happen. So I went over to the Men Looking for Women section and responded to one ad. No response came from him. Luckily Sunday was spent grading papers, recuperating from the Saturday round of insults from slime, and being out of the house for yet another Open House so I had other things to think of besides cyber rejection.

Then Sunday evening came. And the man whose ad I answered responded to me that he had saved the best response for last—mine. And then a man who answered my ad piqued my interest and I piqued his interest. And to this day (a whole four days later) I am in email contact with both of said gentlemen. One man has seen my picture and has not voted me off his slender island (or is it the straight hair island?); the other man, let’s just say that we are exposing our minds to each other at this point and not our personages. Both appear to be intelligent and witty, or at least they appreciate my wit, and are intrigued by me.

I am trying not to imagine a scenario whereby I have met two men at the same time who I click with until I at least meet them. And since in the past whenever I was worried about getting two of something, I end up getting none—like in job offers—so I shall not worry. I shall continue with each gentleman in our repartee and see what happens.
Ah, the twisted turn of fate. Or at least a breather from all of the rejection.

* * *
It seems that I am not allowed to luxuriate for too long. I had a phone conversation with one man last night and it did not, in any way, replicate the easy interaction and charm of the emails, nor was it a conversation that effortlessly flowed. No, I needed to put my thinking cap on and ask questions to keep the talk going. And he did not send me an email this morning about how great it was to talk, as seems to be the norm. An email came in the early afternoon. I will not make a judgment until (if?) a meeting occurs.

The other man, the one who answered my ad, is sticking to a “go slow” method of emailing, keeping them to one a day, where each is almost an epistle (mine and his).

Getting Up-to-Date

A coincidence, times two. I went to the neighborhood supermarket yesterday and who do I see? My realtor, the very woman I said to myself as I got into my car to drive to the supermarket that I need to speak to. So I did. A few aisles later I looked up from my perusals and there was the previous realtor. I saw him see me and then turn and walk away from the aisle I had apparently made poisonous. We changed realtors because he didn’t sell the house. But honestly, he could never get exman to agree to change the price and so the house never sold because it was priced too high because these realtors are all optimists. And they listened to exman’s analysis as if he knows anything about real estate. Now, well, now the newest realtor is facing his obstinacy and delaying tactics, and has started singing the same “but exman thinks this and exman thinks that” bullshit that has led me further into this tunnel with a light somewhere, very, very far away.

Speaking of home repairs. The newest realtor is now dealing with exman who will not commit to doing any repairs and whining about the ones that she suggests be done. We are both committed to spending $1,000 each on the repairs and so far we have only spent $300 between the two of us. All of a sudden he’s saying the condenser repair that we did a couple of months ago should be included in that. And he’s always too busy to get back to the realtor about which repairs he will pay for, and he is remarking that much of it doesn’t need to be done, we should just wait for the right buyer who will buy the house without those repairs. Stupid little man—have you not noticed that that strategy has not worked for almost two years! But me, I’ve had it. I told the realtor to go ahead with the repairs I told her I would pay for and I had her relay that information to him. Get the handyman was my big message at the supermarket meeting. Enough already. No one wants to do your dishes anymore and no one wants to smell the food you make.

And on the topic of men who are not really men at all. On Tuesday pseudo-man sent me an email after more than a month of silence; a silence which I expected to last forever. And now that I am a woman who is acting on her instincts and one who is also not so desperate for sex and to be called “babe,” I decided the best thing for me to do would be to just not answer him. There’s no law that requires that I respond to someone’s email, especially if my INSTINCT tells me not to.

And more lesser men. In an email to a friend I remarked that it would be easier to keep to my decision on pseudo-man if I had moved on, if I had another man in my life so that I wouldn’t see the relationship as any rosier than it was, and it wasn’t very. So I decided, after reading a New York Times wedding announcement wherein the couple said they met on Yahoo Personals through the Pen Pal section, to go to the Platonic section of Craig’s List. If there’s no spark, at least let there be someone I can have an occasional dinner with not at a diner in a mini booth for one. And low and behold the request was answered, and he was Jewish, too. We seemed to have a lot in common, and we even did a phone call. We were talking talking talking. We were laughing laughing laughing. We were entertaining each other. And then, all of a sudden, he said that someone’s at the door, that no one ever comes to his house unexpected. He asked until when he could call me back, I told him until 10 that night.

That was on Friday. I guess it was a line and I was “not that into you’d” on a phone call. I know that this man has absolutely no obligations to me, for goodness sake’s we only communicated for two days, but still, it was odd. Or was it just disappointing because odd seems to be so commonplace these days?

Not quite a mother-daughters event. My daughters wanted to go to the outlet mall and since the father does not let the daughter drive the other daughter, I got to be the driver of choice. On the way there I was called “bipolar brain,” upon which I turned around. Then we continued our fight about college money and how it would be handled. Did I tell you that my daughter got into college in California and now plans on leaving for LA as soon after her 18th birthday as possible?

Somehow we managed to get to the mall. They went their way, and I went mine. How much fun. I figured that since I have the two of them together we’ll go out to eat at a nice Chinese restaurant after the shopping. But when we met two hours later they had already eaten fast food and just wanted to go home to complain that there is no food in the house.

At this point I am blaming no one for my daughters and their attitudes and words. I have no energy. I don’t want to cook for them. I don’t buy what they want in the supermarket because I really have no idea what they want and I don’t want to be told the food I cook is bad. I just want to be showered with love and pampered. I want to be left alone until I absorb enough love to have the energy to shower it back on them.

Weekend work. Now, now I need to start compiling my list of harassments, non-payments, non-compliances by exman. And I am sick sick sick of it. Since October 2004 when I first filed for divorce this endless game has been played. And, obviously, things were bad for a while before that to have gotten to that point. My satisfaction with him being served the papers while he was dressed in just a towel that barely gets around his stomach has long since ceased to bring a smile to my lips. I have been paid back in nastiness to such a degree that my little victory is as a breeze in a hurricane.

Looking ahead. Just let the future prevent the present from being my past, present and future. 

I Couldn’t Help Myself

For two days I have been dealing with mr.ex moving my dirty dishes and assorted pots to the dining room table (“my spot”) as punishment because I had the audacity to move his frying pan, that he put in the sink expecting me to wash it, and put it on his table. Childish, yes, but there are some lines that I don’t want to cross, and washing his dishes is one of the main ones. Anyway, there was this movement of dishes and then the requisite curses and insults from him that incorporated the weekend drama, because the rest of the time I was trying to grade 75 papers (all of which were bad, causing me to think what a bad teacher I am and what to do to help those 14-year-olds think and write at the same time).

All of this ridiculousness did prompt me to look for a rental place, which would cost the other half of my salary that my share of the mortgage here doesn't take, which would leave me and my daughters with nothing to live on. But I am determined to be out near my birthday, which is coming up.

Anyway. Back to the drama. While I know that I should not get on Craig’s List personals because it has become a real downer, it has, unfortunately, also become a bit of an obsession for me. I keep thinking that the reality is not the real reality so I keep expecting an actual man with intelligence, personality, and smile that charms me who finds all of that in me to make himself known. Alas, this has not happened. (Duh, for anyone who as read any posts here.) Do I scare them off with my verbal antics? Perhaps my discussion of why drama is an expected part of life scared off one man, while my ability to string sentences together that developed a point could have scared off another. I will not say looks because lately I have been found to be beautiful (YES!), except for Mark. Which brings me to what I couldn’t help doing.

Now mind you I broke a cardinal rule with Mark: I responded to an email that had lol (no, it was L.O.L.) in it—not just in one email, but in two out of three. And since he is not a man of many words, that was a big part of his writing. But I thought maybe I am being too discriminatory in the email part of the dating game, and I would give him the benefit of the doubt that his verbal ability will come out in conversation. DING DING DING. Dumb move. Stick to the rules, that’s why you made them.

Mark: Your very pretty Laura. I'm looking for some one that is height weight Proponent.  ?? Don’t mean to offend you ok.

(I will not even use my red pen to mark all of Mark’s grammatical errors, I will skip right to my response—which I couldn’t resist sending.)

ME:  You're a stupid man, no offense.

For those of you who are not in with this dating term: to be height-weight proportional is a way of saying “thin” or no evidence that you have eaten a Big Mac or M&Ms for the past 47 years. Back to the rules. 

Thinking of Midlife Men

The other day, as my daughter was in H&M trying on a dress for a school presentation, I watched as a woman looked for a corset and matching thong for, I assume, Valentine’s Day. Observing her intense scrutiny made me think of the men I have dated since the summer of 2007, when I first hit Craig’s List in search of love, and the fact that I have no need for sexy lingerie. I’ve been thinking about them, not because I fear I made a horrible mistake and nixed a man who I have come to regret nixing, but because it gives me cause for pondering the roads they took to reach their midlife journey alone, and me mine.

  • The first man I dated was pseudo-man, and so far he is the only one who got past three dates with me. His career in the military had been one full of early advances and big expectations, until something happened and instead of being on the road to being a general he left the military and became a defense contractor. That midlife shove off the path of self-esteem seemed to have pushed him onto an emotional seesaw. Too bad. But there's a point when you realize that you don't need to stand by a man you're dating if he doesn't deserve it.

  • There were two single, as in never married, men who I dated. One was a librarian who kept talking about how he was concerned about his and his mother’s health. Then there was the man who talked about things he did in the past. I don’t mean trips down the Amazon River and pottery classes, but dinner with a friend the weekend before and what they said and what they ate. Neither of them seemed to know what conversation is. Not that I didn’t try to help, I asked questions, I worked to get them out of their shells. But if when I said that I lived in Israel for 17 years there were no questions to me, then we have a deep, deep inability to be interested in someone else, which brings to mind the “no wonder they’re still single” thought.

  • There was the man who started off well, what with his raising his two sons after his wife left them because she didn’t want to be a mommy any more. But he lost his appeal when he said he is living in the basement of a friend’s house because he and his second wife can’t decide where to live and she is obsessed with her career. He seemed buffeted by the people in his life and so undefined in himself. One would think that a personality would develop on top of a life, but sometimes that just isn’t the case.

  • Two men told me that their wives were control freaks. One explained how he was required to strip down before coming into the house after working outside. From what he said, he separated from his wife because he couldn’t take it anymore. I can’t remember the specifics from the other man’s issues with his wife, but from what he said she put him down all the time, especially to their daughter. As I told man number two, I don’t date people with worse home situations than mine. And man number one, well, we connected as friends who could commiserate but men don’t want to be friends with women they want to date.

  • The ex-Brit, who was doing well in his career and seemed to have confidence, was too “into” his teenage daughter. This man has done what I have come to find many men who separate and divorce do if they have a teenage daughter: they make their daughter into a kind of surrogate wife. It’s as if they are determined to make a relationship with a woman work, so rather than finding a woman their own size, they focus on their daughter and seemingly woe her. It’s weird, it’s gross, it’s inappropriate. (And yes, exman does it with older daughter.) Yes, I know that we are supposed to put our kids before a person we met a week ago, but seriously, wouldn’t you rather go out on a date than drive your child to soccer practice?

  • Of late there have been two very nice, intelligent, short, dumpy men, but neither pressed the charm button. One’s expression of what he probably thought of as interest seemed to me a tad creepy. And when in the midst of our conversation he implied that I was being too picky in my man hunt, my annoyance button was pressed. The other man, after telling him that I have too much going on to enter into a romance (this was after finding out about where pseudo-man had been for that lost week), decided that if he can’t romance me, then he’s off. Why is it that lonely middle-aged men would rather be alone than friends with a woman who interests them? Or do they want to free up their calendars for the right woman? From this side of the table I can state that I would rather have friends to go out with and talk to than be at home bemoaning my lone status.  

And me, what could be said of me and how I have arrived at midlife alone? That I don’t take enough responsibility for where I am in my life, that I talk a lot and interrupt a lot, that I have not grown past hoping a man will rescue me? I guess. It could also be said that I have had many disappointments, personal and professional. On top of that could be added that I expect a man to be engaged in life, and not be a passerby. That I have arrived at midlife wanting more, reaching for more, that where I’ve been is not where I’m going, and I expect the same in my partner.

I also hope that on one Valentine’s Day a man would wear a man-version of a corset and thong for me, because if I’ve learned anything from this life and dating process, it’s that the adventurous person I was when I was twenty is still in here. And that I like to twist things around.   

Sprinkling of Vindication

As a counter to the guys who do the internet dating equivalent of hanging up on me when they see my picture, today someone called me "radiantly beautiful." Yes, I know, I'm not supposed to be thinking about a relationship while I'm still living in this absurd situation, but the desire to be desired comes and goes in cycles, and this one hasn't worked its way out yet.   

Why do I do this to myself?

I was rejected twice in two days by men after they saw my photo. It wouldn't be so bad if one of them didn't have as his first line in his ad: “Brains before beauty.” Ugh. And it’s not as if they are Johnny Depp in the flesh. (This reference is in deference to my younger daughter’s obsession with Mr. Depp.) I mean neither of them made me drop my mouse in excitement. What is it that was wrong for them?

May I be so indelicate as to assume I know and say: fuck all of those men who want a SLENDER, PETITE, SKINNY woman. Why, why do you want a SLENDER, PETITE, SKINNY woman? Are you unable to think and see for yourself? Are you completely swayed by society's sick norms? Do you really think skinny is better than evidence of life?

Or is that code for YOUNGER? Because I don’t know about you, but most of the women my age—their age—are no longer slender, petite, skinny. Not that I ever was, because I never was. Think more Marilyn Monroe (I can’t believe I just compared myself to her, but heck, I can do what I want when I rail against bone lovers) rather than Gwyneth Paltrow. And F the men my age who want a younger woman to refresh their hearts and make themselves feel as if the aging process has been stopped. It hasn’t. And F all the diet mongerers, I can’t bear another conversation about what to eat and what not to eat, with more emphasis on what not to eat. And F all of the men who say that they work out six days a week--because he doesn't have the kids to take care of--and because he really does think that he and his body are a temple.  

And F all the delicate designers who find the willowy frame of a 6’ woman who weighs 100 pounds to be perfect. And F the creative directors who air brush extra pounds off of the bodies of women with mini-curves. And F all of us who think that to be thin is to be good, and to be “with a few extra pounds” indicates that we are bad people—we are weak, unable to resist temptation. (Please, bring the temptation on.) Now I know why we marry when we’re young, before the Phase II body has set in, because if those were the Phase I bodies, there wouldn’t be enough children born out of those relationships to sustain society.  

And I will not diet for an as yet unmet man. I need to exercise for myself. But you know what (whine coming), it’s hard to put the brownie down when there is nothing happy in your life. When the freezer breaks and you need to buy a new refrigerator from monopoly money, and the circuit breaker breaks so that there is no hot water for a week, and you have no parties to go to, and you’re bored with your life and dissatisfied with your unmet desires, and you’re tired of it all being so hard and futile, it’s damn hard to punish yourself even more. And yes, I know that I am the only one paying for that brownie down the hatch, but there needs to be some infinitesimal feeling of pleasure in the present.

And why the hell did the pseudo-separated man tell me that “I am perfect”? Because I now believe that I will meet another man who rocks my boat and who thinks I am perfect, in my Phase II body and with my Phase II personality.

Ugh. What a year. Here’s to 2009. I have no idea what I want from it or myself, but I would like a break in the unpleasantness rolling my way ever so consistently. And I would like to move out of this five-bedroom, 3.5 bath unhappiness-perpetuating compound. And I would like someone to seep into my heart with joy and unfettered appreciation.