Monthly Archives: January 2010

Kayakers, Foot-fetishists and Youngest Children: My 6 Months on

–“A size 8 is too big for me and I tend to like a size 4.”

“…yesterday I did kayaking with my daughter at Vermont, and while enjoying it, realized that there is so much similarity with life, in life, you are in your own kayak and it sometimes glides smoothly in the water, sometime bumpy water, sometimes you find that you are having a good company…within minutes, you are pulled by strong water current and the kayaks are now gone even beyond visibility…so true, the water current represnts the time..the time that has only one direction….forward…If not, I wish you good luck in your future journey…our kayaks will then be far far away..perhaps never to be seen again..
well nice talking you…I also love parrots and have a dream of bringing Amazon parrots home!”

“I want to meet the perfect woman… smart, funny, cute, sexy, independent, thoughtful, cool, and very very very ticklish feet…and I will enjoy tickling the very ticklish feet of my next girlfriend :”

It took me about 2 1/2 years after my divorce to do what I said to my friends, “if I ever do this, come over and shoot me.” Well, after having been laid-off from a job, getting bored of reading and napping, and in ownership of a new laptop, I joined How could I not?? They “guaranteed” that if I didn’t find true love in 6 months, they’d give me 6 months for free (however, you have to follow all these silly rules, which I apparently didn’t do, and not only didn’t I find true love, I didn’t get 6 more months free. I felt like I hadn’t done my homework and I was getting a handslap by some omnipotent power.)

So, the basics for those who don’t know: You write a gushy, well-crafted profile, not too cocky but not too humble. You don’t reveal your deepest darkest proclivities like “oh, by the way, I pick my toenails” or “sometimes I wear the same bra for weeks.” (Oh wait, I take that back and refer you to the foot-fetishist above.) You upload what you think are your most alluring or creative photographs, (which in my case included me only from the neck up, kind of like actresses who get pregnant in real life but it’s not written into the storyline on sitcoms who hide behind laundry baskets or couch pillows), answer questions about your birth order, your drinking and smoking habits, and what you want in a date (I refer you to the first quote, this after a very compelling and well-written profile. Picture me getting to that point and screeching to a halt a la Fred Flinstone.)

You then excitedly move on to your search for what you want. You plug in the distance you’ll travel, ethnic preferences, marital status, etc., and up comes a “gallery” of photos and attempts at quippy headlines (I can’t even tell you how many men use the first line of “Sympathy for the Devil” and think they’re being clever. It’s like COME ON, you’ve GOT to be kidding!” You then click on men that look interesting or handsome or whatever, and I hate to say it, look at photos and make snap judgements (oh and for me, if a man thought that “a lot” was one word or if they were in community theater, I clicked “next.”) Here’s the thing–you can see who’s looked at you. I can, they can. So, you quickly how realize how vapid we all really are.

Every day, you get presented with this feature called “Your 5 Daily Matches.” Some computer has come up with an algorithm based on things that say “You both like dogs” or “You’re both the youngest child” or “You both drink excessively”. You skim through and say “yes” “no” or “maybe.” OH, and there’s this other feature, clearly based on some other survey questions that can tell you, in percentages, your liklihood of matching. So, you might get a 97% match because you both are divorced and have kids, or are liberal, or whatever (my friend has the greatest story about her 100% match that J, if you’d like to share, I would LOVE it–there are wonderful success stories.)

In six months, I chose to only meet 3 men. I can’t say that I was being bombarded by e-mails from interesting men. Most that I reached out to, totally ignored me, despite seeming how perfect we were on paper. You try not to take it personally but secretly think “WAIT, I’m so attractive and so perfect! What the fuck is wrong with you?”

The first man I TRULY wanted to connect with, I looked at first, he looked at me, and moved on. I actually sent him an e-mail and said something similar to the above without the obscenity. He loved it (I think) and our banter and similar humor was really telling. I won’t go into it, because it was and still is a very special memory for me and not fodder for this, but it was everything I expected it to be. Comfortable from the get-go, easy, fun, remarkable chemistry the whole deal. I have to say, that when there is limited time you are forced into a very quick and intense intimacy and you run the risk of making important decisions quickly. For reasons, again, not for fodder, we were sort of doomed from the start but remain very fond of each other as people who connected in a special way.

So guy #2. Handsome (lots of pictures so clearly he was using that to his advantage.) First sentence was that he had a published book on Amazon(he didn’t say it was self-published, but after some quick Googling I figured this out and it sounded DREADFUL.) After some short e-mails, we decided to speak on the phone. The guy didn’t laugh ONCE in an hour and half and I think we all know how funny I am. Well, he expressed interest in meeting me and I said ok, and he then cancelled at the last minute (oh and then had the balls to try and “friend” me on facebook! I wanted to fire back and say “Are you fucking delusional” but decided not to waste my breath.)

Man #3. Incredibly handsome, smart, funny, honest, receptive. Again, these good things are not fodder for a blog, but in many ways I’ve learned more from him than any other man I’ve ever known. There were many known complications from the get-go, but we adore each other as people, and respect each other as parents and people.

In the end, I’ve discontinued my match subscription (ALTHOUGH they keep you on and tease you by telling you that’s someone “viewed you” but you can’t know who unless you rejoin.)

Well, I have no intention of ever joining an online dating service again (ummmm….and if I do, the aforementioned shooting still applies.) Let’s just PRAY, that for many, many reasons, I never get laid-off again, be placed on bedrest, and that someone comes and takes my laptop away this time.

To Know Me is To Know Me

Every time I come off a visit with my family, I feel like a teeny, tiny cartoon character who is walking around stomping my feet saying “WHY DON’T YOU WANT TO KNOW ABOUT ME??” “WHY ISN’T ANYBODY LISTENING TO ME?”

This could be the youngest child thing, where all we ever want is attention. My siblings are cool and wonderful people, happy with their lives in general, terrific parents to some terrific kids, but, where I feel I want to probe and ask meaningful questions of them, somehow, maybe knowing too much about the “baby” of the family is too revelatory. Or something like that.

I want to tell them that I’m SO cool and I’m SO funny and my friends LOVE me and men DESIRE me and I get sad, and lonely, and miss our mother and struggle to this day with the residuals of our common upbringing. I want to tell them that I’m getting “fan mail” about my writing and what I’m reading and what moves me and what inspires me. Each of them has their limits and boundaries of what they want to know about me, and what they want to tell me or deflect or when they want to change the subject. I value that I have easy access to one, at any moment of any day, and that my psychologist brother is there to let me vent about my issues and FEELINGS in a way that a caring professional can. Other group dynamics are far more complicated and leave me sad and hurt and questioning every time.

But, there is the flipside, friends, those who know me well, and despite that, still love me and hang in there with me, and newer friends who find me entertaining and often seem VERY surprised to see a glimpse into the “laughing on the outside, crying on the inside” me.

I LOVE being “known” I long to hear the words from a man “I want to know everything about you” (not in a gag-me kind of way, but in a way that really means it, a slow-unfolding of me.) And I LOVE knowing my friends. I am astounded by how much there is to learn about people as their lives change and grow, to observe their epiphanies, their joys and disappointments and to learn more about them by seeing how they react and mold to each and every one. This is the knowing.

The Great Equalizer

There he is…second row, far right, yellow and green striped shirt with Ms. Uzman’s hand gently placed on his shoulder. How I would have LOVED to have had my hand on Eddie Ward’s shoulder. Eddie is the first boy I ever had a crush on (Oh, I’m the big one in the middle, the 8-yr-old who looks 13, all messy hair and big teeth.)

My 8-yr old daughter, Amelia, has had a crush on the same boy since first grade-Jay Tucci. I’ve told her about my crush on Eddie, how my heart used to beat really fast when I drove by his house, how I hoped beyond hope that he would be in his driveway. I would call his house in the hopes of him answering, and ended up hanging up on whoever did.
By 5th grade my heart had moved on to someone else, and by junior high Eddie was dating a much “purer” girl than I would have pictured him with (over dinner he revealed that she tried to “reform him.”) In our 7th grade yearbook, they won Cutest Couple and I won Best Personality. My world and Eddie’s had virtually no overlap and in the middle of 10th grade I moved away.
30 years later, enter facebook. Through a circuitous route, Eddie and I became fast “friends.” I had heard a bit about him through a mutual friend about 10 months ago, how he was divorced, a NY City Cop, and that his daughter went to BU. Soon after, he appeared on facebook. He quickly told me that he would soon be in Boston, driving his daughter back to school after break and we made plans to get together.

I just knew that it would be a wonderful and easy evening. Eddie’s absolute love and commitment to his daughter just beamed through our brief e-mails beforehand. When you have the joy of parenthood in common, that amazing equalizer, how can some time over dinner and drinks be anything but easy.

We ran into each other in the underground parking lot, both getting to the restaurant at the same time. It was just amazing, seeing this person as a grown man, big and easy smile, FANTASTIC Long Island accent that I have long since lost (except for a couple of choice words that Amelia still imitates every time she hears them.) Eddie’s lost his curls (well, all of his hair, actually). Hugs, locked arms. Pure amazement.

Dinner was casual, not rushed. We talked about our divorces, fortunately mine being much “easier” than his. Eddie’s wife, due to some circumstances, had left him utterly without self-esteem. The vulnerability was heartbreaking. He has been left to parent two grown children on his own, no doubt, rather brilliantly.

We talked about our work (I felt my very first gun, strapped secretly to his leg) and held a real police badge in my hands. I told him about my work and fearlessness in dealing with some rough kids over the years. My favorite and most astute question that has been asked of me in a long time was “How did you get so tough?” Our very different worlds and upbringing, have toughened us both in very different ways.

This will be the first of many meetings with Eddie Ward. We made some promises to each other about keeping the glass half full at all times and about him forging ahead and after three years, entering the world of middle-aged dating.

I always come back to the sheer joy that facebook has brought me. Some people in my life don’t understand this. They’d rather not be “found.” It’s circumstances like this, though, seeing the first boy who ever stole my heart, at 45, that really keeps that glass half (even 3/4) full.

Fits and Starts, One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

I have to admit, that I’ve never been one of those people who completes a task. I didn’t even carry Amelia to term–she was born six weeks early.

My “tasks” are fluid, akin to resolutions, I suppose. They’re not as simple as taking out the trash, cleaning my car, doing the laundry, or cleaning the litterbox for the billionth time. Even those I never do completely–there’s always MORE trash, more crap in my car (two moves are now represented in my trunk which I have since covered with a fabric shower curtain, also left in my trunk, I think from that first move) laundry in heaps that get ignored for months. (I have to say, however, that watching the occasional episode of “Hoarders” makes me feel MUCH better about myself and always inspires me to clean my kitchen.)

So my resolutions, my goals, get carried over from year to year, as I’m sure many of you can relate to all too well. In consulting Wikipedia, I pretty much have all of the Seven Deadly Sins covered and others that have appeared to have been left out (mostly involving credit card debt, the accumulation of more beauty products than one human being could use in a lifetime, and rushing into cetain heartache. If in Biblical times there were low-rate, introductory credit card offers, Sephora and, these surely would have been factored in somehow.)

On my resolution list from a couple of years ago I have something that says “Bad Choices” (as in, stop making them.) Kind of vague. This undoubtedly covers many things though, certainly matters of the heart. I do think I’ve done a MUCH better job at shielding my heart, enacting preemptive strikes instead of a S-L-O-W crawl to certain disappointment. So, yay for me. Maybe I can have a 6-month review this year and see if I can cross that off my list and my “bad choices” will be more about junk food and the occasional shot of tequila.

Visiting Day for a Chubby Kid

On the morning of the most anticipated day of the summer, there is, quite literally, nothing that can hold us back. We’re like Beatle’s fans breaking through the barrier, and all attempts to keep us in order are futile.

From the top of the hill we can see cars pulling into the parking lot at the bottom, one after the other, a parade of tri-state area license plates. “There’s my mom” someone would yell and go bursting down the hill into the arms of their parents. “That’s my dog!” Another one.

Visting Day at camp was a day like no other. Smack, dab in the middle of the summer, it was like what visiting hours must feel like at a prison or hospital. Now, don’t get me wrong, camp was like Disney–“the happiest place on earth,” but it was rather odd to have the real world infiltrate for a day, glamorous, Jewish mothers, cigar-smoking fathers, luxury cars and jewelry, a stark contrast to our tube socks and sweat-shorts. And then, there were the brown paper grocery bags.

To be honest (and camp friends feel free to dispute this) Visiting Day was about FOOD. PACKAGED, store-bought FOOD. We judged the luckiest, most-loved kids by the number of bags their parents carried, (didn’t we?) For those of us who had been bunkmates for years, we knew who would get the best stuff and who would share and who wouldn’t, who would hide their shit and who would dump it on their beds and divvy it up among us.

There would be Pringles and Freihoffers and Yodels and fruit pies and tuna and cup a soup and squeeze cheese and Ritz crackers and candy and the ripest of peaches and plums. My friend Robin always got bakery cookies from a family-owned bakery in a box tied with red and white string. It was a magical and heady day.

But here’s the catch: I didn’t get that stuff. I was a bit of a formless and overweight kid and my parent never really let me forget that, even for a day. (My camp friends and I recently discussed this impression that I’ve had forever of myself as this lumpy behemouth of a pre-teen and teenager. What they said, and I loved this, is that I’ve grown curves. I’m no longer formless. I’m all curve. Or something like that.) At home, sweets were hidden from me (not very well, I might add) and I was forced to try things like Alba 77 for breakfast (who remembers that?)

Anyway, I would get some fruit and some books. Maybe some lifesavers. I MAY have gotten cheese doodles one year (but it could also be that I’m conjuring those up because I’ve been wanting some for weeks.)

But, I will NEVER forget the one year, that my dear, always-sweet-and-kind brother Mark, when his day off as a counselor fell within a day or two of Visiting Day, sat down with me on the steps of my bunk with a brown, paper bag. What I remember is that with great fanfare, Mark pulling out a big bag of Tootsie Pop Drops like it was serious contraband. I rememeber thinking that this was the kindest gesture that anyone had ever done for me (and his wife has outdone even that by doing an overnight feeding for me when Amelia was an infant). It’s been a lifetime of kind gestures from Mark, but, in his way, he was saying that I was worthy, just like everyone else, of a special treat on Visiting Day.