Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Reader, Heal Thyself

Self help books.  There are tons of self help books out there. I love self help books.  I do.  Maybe I should say I love the idea of self help books.  I think they're a great idea and whenever I read the back of the cover I always think "This author really knows what she's talking about... she's talking to ME! This book will solve EVERYTHING!!!!" and I buy the book.  And I carry the book around... to doctor's appointments for my kids... to soccer work for my lunch breaks... and I never notice any change.  I don't get help from self help books.  It's discouraging, because it merely proves that you can't learn through osmosis.  Dang.  I was so pulling for that route.

Wouldn't that be great if it did?  If just buying the book telling you how to have a flat belly in 30 days did so starting from the day you bought it?  Or the one telling you how to choose the perfect mate allowed the aura around your Forever Guy to be visible to you... a beacon of light leading you to each another.  I mean seriously... imagine buying the book helping you to get organized and then when you get home BAM!  You walk into a perfectly Martha Stewarted house.  Yeah, that would be awesome.  But... that's just not the way it works.  You have to read the books.  Did you hear that?  You have to read.  The books.  To know what they say.  Dang, I KNEW there was a catch!

It's not that I'm against reading - I love to read!  My reading level was always advanced when I was a child, and something I spent a lot of time doing.  My mom would lift both my head and my sister's head so she "could remember what our faces looked like" and not just see the top of the heads.  With my lifestyle these days I tend to buy books (the non-helpful kind... just for fun) and save them till I know I have a block of time where I can dedicate myself to being absorbed by the author's story.  There's nothing better than being totally immersed in a plot and the characters and losing yourself in the pages... now THAT I love.  The only problem is the life of a single mom doesn't really lend itself to luxuriously lying about the place, reading at will while popping bon-bons.  Maybe someone will write a self help book for my washer, dryer and dishwasher that will give me the freedom to adopt the lifestyle I so long for.  I just have to teach those suckers to read, now that I've disproven that whole "osmosis" thing.  ; )

One of the books I'd been saving for a free patch of time is the third and final book in the "Matched" series.  My kids were going to be with their dad for two weeks and with so much free time I knew I could jump on in.  I hadn't read the first two for awhile, so I reread those and then started reading the third one, "Reached."  Now, I'm a fast reader, and have a tendency to blow through books quickly and rarely take longer than a day or two to read a novel.  For some reason I went much more slowly with this last one and would read a chapter or two and then put it down.  I think deep down I didn't want to say goodbye to the series and see the end.  For whatever reason, I didn't finish the book till today.  It's a great series and a great final book and I do believe we'll see this series on the movie screen.

As it turns out, most self help books don't get made into movies... who's really going to watch a movie with Dr Phil talking about "Relationship Rescue" (got rid of that one at my last garage sale) or "Who Moved My Cheese?"  I imagine a fair number of people would buy the ticket expecting a cartoon about a cheeky mouse who just can't remember where he left that silly piece o'cheese and the ornery friends of his giggling as they watch him search for the cheese they've moved.  Yeah... no.  One exception was "He's Just Not That In To You," 1) a book I read and actually DID get a lot out of and 2) a movie that really and truly didn't have much more to do with the book than share a title.  Other than that, no other self-help-books-turned-movie come to mind, altho there's prolly at least one.  Prolly.

As I was  nearing the end of this recent book,  a couple lines really struck me.  One of the characters has lost her true love and is allowing herself to fall in love with someone else.  Her new partner is reflecting on the fact that she shut the whole world out to allow love the first time just to lose him.   He says, "The amazing thing is she's not afraid to do it again.  When we fall in love the first time, we don't know anything.  We risk a lot less than we do if we choose to love again,"  Reached, 2012  Man... do I love that.  How true is that?  I read it over a few times to fully absorb it.  It explains so much about why people are scared to allow themselves to fall in love and be vulnerable to people as they get older.   It truly captures that loving someone and allowing them to love you is a risk and one that's harder to take when the sting of lost love is not so far in the rearview mirror.

Is this the most important lesson I've learned from a book?  No, I can't say it is.  It's hitting close to home considering some of the relationships I've been through in the last few years... but it's not the biggest life lesson I can think of.  However, beyond the fact that it's relevant and timely for me is the fact that I found it in a place I wasn't even looking to find anything.  My expectations for the book were that I would be entertained.  It was fluff, a mental dessert for the end of the day when I'd gotten all my chores done.  The fact that this gem was in hidden in the depths of this fictional book is something I find really cool.  I just may have to redefine what constitutes a self help book, because this has done WAY more for me than "Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus." Now that I mention it, I never did find out what the differences are between the two planets.  I better stick that one in my bag and give that osmosis theory one more shot.  Or not.

Friday, March 15, 2013

It Was (Are You Ready?)... A Toadally Amazing Night

:::insert drum rimshot:::

As you may recall, at our last meeting our fair maiden/ sweet singleton (c'mon, I'm allowed a little creative license, right?) was headed off to a Stir even to meet toads or a frog, come what may.

I should have been more specific.  I was looking for a *male* frog or toad.  As it turned out, the ladies I met were a better replacement for a potential suitor - we really hit it off and I know we'll have many great times together in the future.  So if success is determined in how many numbers you go home with, I did pretty well.  There were 29 women and eight men who signed up for the event; I came home with two contact numbers.  Believe it or not, them's good stats.  By the way, before we move on... did you notice something? I said 29 women (including myself) and eight women.  Eight.  Men. That's roughly three and a half women for every man.  Those are amazing odds... for the guys.  Notsomuch for the rest of us.  ; )

When I walked in to the venue, I spied an open barstool flanked by ladies to the left, ladies to the right. Not having yet realized the male:female ratio yet, I sat down and ordered a drink thinking I'd move to more testosterone filled pastures after a bit.  I didn't.  I started talking to the ladies sitting by me, and we shared parenting stories, dating horror stories, and the like.  It was enjoyable and entertaining.  And we were not interrupted by any other attendees.  As the ladies and I chatted, we soon came to the conclusion that this was the best it was going to get.  We were right.  We decided that after we were done we'd move on to more local sites where hopefully the pickins wouldn't be quite so... slim.  Before we were able to wrap things up, one of The Eight approached us.

He was pretty harmless at first glance - had on a t-shirt and jeans, about 55-65 years old and was easy enough to talk to, especially since he was the only one who'd been brave enough to start talking to us. Turns out he's from the same area of town as we are and we had a nice conversation about his job, the local market, etc.  When it was time to go, we (and by "we" I mean me and my lady friends) said we'd meet at another venue and headed out, waving goodbye to Ralph*, The Brave.

Later at Venue Two we were at the bar, eating pizza and listening to music when what to our wondering eyes should appear but  Santa and eight tiny reindeer Ralph.  Hmm.  We didn't really anticipate this.  We made a pact to avoid eye contact and it was completely successful until the one person who didn't agree to the pact, Ralph, spied us.  "Ralph!  Hi... hey... waddaya know..." It was awkward.  Ralph made it awkwarder (hey!  Autocorrect says that's a word!) by being an extreme close talker.  Extreme- extreme.  Like, "hey, is this lap taken?" extreme.  Not cool.  We did get a brief break when we asked someone to take a pic of the three of us for posterity's sake. When you look at the picture now you see Ralph right over my friend's shoulder.  Insert foreboding music here.  Since we were about done with our night, we started our goodbyes and boot-scooted on home.  The night was not the success we had planned on, but was successful all the same.

The next night was yet another eventful night, the beginning of our local Irish pub's St Patrick's Day celebrations, as St Patrick's Day is the pub's High Holy Day.  My friends and I gathered for a quick pint and a brief opportunity to enjoy the place before it's descended upon by SPD partiers who only visit once a year the way others only go to church on Christmas or Easter.  We had effectively secured our favorite table (prime real estate, thankyouverymuch) and were having a grand ole' time. Until...

I felt a pat on my back.  Smiling I turned around to see what friend had joined us and saw... Ralph.  Ralph the Brave was quickly descending into the ranks of Ralph the Stalker.  Now, I know he has a good heart.  I mean, I'm pretty sure he does.  He seemed harmless at first.  But... that's a little much.  I thought it was a coincidence until I remembered part of the conversation from the night before when Ralph asked if I would be at the Thursday night event.  "Nope," I told him... and proceeded to explain about the pub's SPD celebrations.  Stupid, silly, mouthy Missy.  Too much information.  Just no.  I should have said just "no" - always talking to much.  Oh well.  As we talked he said, "We have a friend  in common!"  I was stunned and asked who - he gave me a little information and I realized who it was, but I was still stunned.  Here's the deal: all I could think was "What could have possibly prompted you to be talking about me to someone else after knowing me less than 24 hours and truly knowing very little about me?"It was... creepy!  It was!  I guess I could be flattered, but I was creeped. Out.

Soon after that, one of my friends asked if I needed help.  Gentle reader, understand - I have been in many an uncomfortable conversation with a man.  I have had ample experience in getting away from the unwanted advances of a stranger.  It's easy for me and I have no problem making my excuses and getting away.  There's no getting away from this guy - I couldn't even fit my glass in between us to take a sip or get a breath.  Extreme. Close. Talker.  So when my friend whispered in my ear "Do you need help?" I said YES!!!!!!  She got one of the bartenders, a huge older man who used to play college football, to come over and whisk me away.  He waited around for about ten minutes and when he moved on I was able to get back to my friends.  It's worth noting that while one friend offered help, she first went to my best friend and said "We need to help Missy!" to which she replied "Nooo!!!  This is too fun to watch."  In her defense, I bet it was.

Now... I feel bad about this, even today.  I'm not a mean person.  I'm not an unkind person.  I never want to do something that makes people sad or unhappy or in any way rejected... I'm just not that kind of person.  I know he felt bad when he left, and I hate that.  But... he made me so uncomfortable!  It was... too much.  So, now I have guilt and definitely have a completely awkward situation just WAITING for me out there.  As we all know, even though I have lived here six and a half years and never run in to Ralph once, you can rest assured I will run in to him over and over now.  It's Murphy's Law, and it will always have the upper hand.  Maybe, just maybe I'll meet a wonderful woman about Ralph's age who's a close talker and likes to stalk and I'll be able to introduce them and he'll have his happily ever after.  Odds are good I'll meet her before he does, and I'll meet her at a Stir event.

*name has been changed to protect the stalkerish innocent until proven guilty.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Time to Meet Some Toads

First off, I'm sorry I've been so lax in writing.  It's been over a year!  Terrible.  Shameful.  Naughty, horrible Missy.  For the last few months I kept thinking I would write something and while there have been a good number of reasons for me to not do so... there have been more reasons I should have.  I realized I've felt stifled and after turning *ta-dah* 45... I've decided to change things that aren't working.  Me not giving time to my writing... wasn't working.  So I'm back.  For now.  Till I move in a couple weeks... but that's a whole 'nother story.

Soooo... I'm single.  And I'm not gonna lie - it sucks.  Like, really sucks.  I know I should embrace it and be all "I'm FREE!  I don't have to think about someone else when I'm thinking about what I want to do on the WEEKEND and it's AWESOME! And I'm so LUCKY to have so many OPTIONS..." blah, blah, blah.  You know better than that.  Even if you're one of those people who's been married forever and live vicariously through us singletons as we have our first dates and get to flirt without guilt.   If I wanted to have a boyfriend, just a guy in my life... I could.  I mean, not that I'm full of myself by any stretch of the imagination, but there are men who would be willing to be exclusive with me and I know that.  The thing is, they aren't *it*.  Or they don't have *it*.  Or I don't have *it* with them.  I don't know.  It's frustrating and stupid and boring.  It's boring to be asked why I'm single.  It's boring to talk about how the dating pool for my demographic is a bit on the sludgy side (present company excluded, I'm sure... if you happen to fit into that particular group).  But yeah, sludgy.

What's a girl to do when she is single?  That's a great question, and one my friends and I have bounced around.  Bars?  Eh.  That rarely works out.  Work?  Nah.  Home improvement stores?  I'm, like, 1000% percent sure that only works in chick flicks.  There are precious few in-real-life occasions to meet guys, and my ten-years-of-being-unmarried self is proof of that.  Luckily (note heavy sarcasm) we live in the electronic age and I have the option of online dating!  Yay!  That sounds AWESOME.  And by awesome I mean... second only to tooth extractions or an audit by the IRS.  Totes awesome.

There was a time when I wasn't so pessimistic about the online dating game.  That was many moons ago, my friend - by this point in my life I've had accounts on Match (natch), eHarmony (egads), OKCupid (OKstupid), Plenty of fish (Plenty of freaks) and many others.  I've done speed dating, I've enrolled in a pseudo dating service, I've done the local radio station's Man Market... I have  I was really and truly about to throw in the towel when Match started their Stir Events.  Wait, a happy hour for just singles?  Where everyone in the room is single and you get to meet the person face-to-face?  That sounds great  a lot better  a little less painful.  When they sent me an offer for a renewed membership at a discounted rate, I was in.  This was going to be... something.  I was just sure of it.

I went to my first Stir event full of hope!  and a little nervous! and with a friend!  As can only happen in the World According to Missy, the event was on a Wednesday when I had lost my home to a fire the Thursday prior.  And on the way to the event?  I backed my month old Acadia into the Land Rover parked across the street from my friend's house.  Insert face palm *here*.  It was fantastic.  It was all I could do to not introduce myself by shaking hands and saying, "Hi, I'm Missy, The Trainwreck. I have NO idea why I'm single.  Wanna date?"

The thing of it is, I have a sneaking suspicion that line would have worked with most of the guys who were there that night.  :::sigh:::  The first guy we started chatting with did so by "cutting in line" to get a glass of wine, and then buying ours for us because he felt bad the bartender overlooked us.  Turns out he didn't really cut, but used that as an in to talk to us.  Ooooh, smarmy.  Then we felt guilty just walking away with the drinks he paid for, so we kept talking to him to be nice.  You know that "no good deed goes unpunished" line?  Well, it's true.  Turns out keeping him around to be nice to him was a sure fire way of repelling the guys we wanted to talk to.  Notice I said the guys we *wanted* to talk to... because the guys we DIDN'T want to talk to?  Yeah, they came around anyway.

A common experience I've had is the "I know why you're single" epiphany when you're chatting a guy up.  Asking if I like your button down plaid shirt and then telling me your sister helped you pick it out and it was REALLY expensive?  Yeah, I know why you're single.  Reaching out and adjusting my bangs so they're not in my face when we've known each other a nanosecond?  I know why you're single.  Following me and my friend around after we've said "Well, it was nice to meet you... you should meet some OTHER girls now!" I know why you're single.  And... leaving with the crack addict who wandered in to where we were after the event was over?  Dude, get used to being single.  I wish those were hypothetical.  They're not.  And if history tells me anything, I will see this guy tonight as he has been at almost every event I have.

Which begs the question: why do I keep going?  Everyone knows the definition of crazy - doing the same thing and expecting different results.  I know, I know.  The thing of it is I can't stand just not doing anything.  And as long as I'm trying, I know I'm trying.  I'm getting out there.  I'm giving it a chance.  And do I think I will find someone tonight? Honestly... I don't.  I'm super ridiculously absurdly optimistic.  TOO optimistic.  Painfully optimistic.  Seriously, I hope Rhett won't leave Scarlett each time I watch "Gone With the Wind."  (Don't judge!  It *could* happen.)  I believe in love, I believe in people and I believe in my future with Mr Forever.  But I have to be realistic, and I generally don't meet people I'd be interested in seeing outside of a Stir event when I'm there.  The thing of it is, if you don't try you won't know... so I'm trying.  And I do have a good time!  I do have interesting conversations, and I get good material for those "who's met the weirdest person in a dating situation" contest.  (The best one was the guy who cried not once, but twice...twice!... on our first date.  Our only date.  But I digress.)  

All that to say, I'm going tonight.  I'm hoping for my Frog Prince, but if I keep my expectations low I won't be surprised by all the toads.  I do know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that I'll have some awesome stories to tell.  It's my duty to come armed with vignettes that make all my friends in relationships think "I'm SO glad I'm not in the dating world!"  I take it seriously, and luckily for you'ins... I've got lots of material.  Lots.  Cheers!