By the Prickings of My Thumbs…

The Sweet Fresh Hell

Really, there are no words I could possibly add that would be adequate enough to do justice to these latest horrors. I just need you to silently bear witness and offer pity.

Also, two side notes: 1) Concept2 – I see this as a personal betrayal since my thighs are on fire today. As soon as I can stand again I’ll… well, I’ll walk more quickly and stand without making small whimpering noises – like the champ I am! Those aren’t tears. I just have allergies, and 2) the gym only looks empty – there are actually people behind me – all ducking their heads down trying not to catch the eyes of these beasts lest they, too get drawn into the event horizon of rope pulley ski hell (or I may have carefully avoided violating anyone’s privacy as the gym got busy) Oh, and in case you don’t think my trainer is pure evil, I will leave you with this – a gift she once sent to me. PLAY IT! Know my eternal suffering!

… and I rock at soccer! You’re welcome!

I guess I’ll go back tomorrow for more.

Sweet Fresh Hell

“What sweet fresh hell is that?” This is how I greet most things I don’t expect before 6am especially at the gym. This is applied universally to things like people spazzing out on the rower in a way that makes me stop dead in my tracks and stare (Dude, the rower actually isn’t supposed to be making that noise or doing that. What is that? What is wrong with you?) to a new piece of equipment like “the tank” appearing with its monster truck wheels and bondage ropes wrapped neatly around it. I swear we accidentally conjured that thing up after many of us celebrated the demise of the sled. Gym karma can suck. What were we thinking as we gleefully danced around? That was rhetorical. We were thinking, “YAY!!! Good riddance, sled with your wonky carpet strip!” Oh, and quick side story about the sled, did I ever mention to you guys that Jenn used to stand on it while hurling “words of encouragement” at me as I ran it down the basketball court? Good because that never happened, but man that would have been awful, right? Totally humiliating. Anyway, we were glad when it died, and absolutely horrified when the sled on steroids aka “the Tank” showed up proving a sled could be made worse. FYI, it appears to be much sturdier and more rugged than the sled. I’m not entirely sure a well-placed spike strip could take it out.

So, I walk into the gym today. It’s crack of too early. I’m still wrestling with the idea that I have to get up ALL THE DAYS, and that  apparently fitness doesn’t happen on a couch while binge watching Supernatural. (I’ve been trying this out in the evenings. I feel I need more data points to confirm.)  And there blocking my way to the locker room and waving in all its “what the fresh Hell glory” looms something called a SkiErg. No seriously. A SkiErg. (An advertising firm should be fired. Just my opinion.) And I’m thinking, “What the… Nope! No. Mmm mm. Not having it. Don’t like it. Disapprove.” And right next to it is something called who knows what, but it’s a never-ending rope pulley whatever – probably has an equally bad name. My glasses aren’t on, and fact: if a thing doesn’t have a name, because no way you can decipher the ridiculous sport font hieroglyphics identifying it, then it isn’t real. That’s a thing, John.

These dueling odious little eyesores stand proudly in the designated functional training area paying homage to their Medieval torture device predecessors. Note: This is the same area I spend my Tuesdays in, because Tuesday is my training day and… Oh FRAK! It’s Tuesday. Seriously??? Are you !@#$!-ing me??? And despite it being too early, and me being with zero of the caffeine, I’m able to reason that new brands of torture + training day = Beth being a guinea pig. Come on!

Jenn goes on to demonstrate said new stupidness, which then leads to me fussing about the unfairness of my “guinea pig for the gym status,” as is my right. Jenn then points out that no, she just used them first. Then, with a certain air of gym entitlement, she announces she’s claiming the coveted guinea pig title. Are you kidding me??? I found this all quite suspect, and made much noise about it.  We moved on to the next set of activities, and that’s when she forced me, forced I tell you, to demo the new rope pulley thing for the gym as well, and I swear it was only because I was watching various people approach it, stare at it while trying to work out how this might wreck their lives, too, and a few pre-caffeinated remarks may have come out. Which, by the way, were spot-on and deserved. Super clever lines like “I’m watching the guy behind you try to figure out the rope thing.” Yeah, that’s right. I’m able to whip out that level of clever in the early morning. Fear me.  I mean I was mid doing some super impressive things with arm weights that heralded the need to decrease the weight immediately, wowing my fellow gym-mates, and was right on the heels of revealing some equally awkward arm raising ability, and Jenn announces we’re going to do the rope pulley thing, too as if the SkiUgh wasn’t humiliation enough. That activity wasn’t on the paper listing our day’s routing. I looked. I mean in truth nothing was, which isn’t the point. Still, she claimed that she had it all in her head, but I don’t think the pulley thing was really ever in there. There’s no proof. (For the record, when it comes to the new things that have appeared in the gym that I was also forced to do, there was “the Tank” last week, and the week before I was on a cruise, so well that doesn’t count, but like weeks before that was the fresh hell that was the squishy rocking thing, and who even knows what that thing actually is – maybe a BOSU pill box capsule thingy? I have no idea. It’s new. It’s squishy. I don’t like it. And why? Why all the new things when no one is on the rowing machine. Maybe the rowing machine needs some love?) Also, me doing the new pulley thing meant all eyes (or maybe one set) were on me. It was like I was on stage… for an audience of one, but seriously?

So, we did those. But my story isn’t over. Nope.  As I’m using the new thing, pulling down with all my half-hearted heart. Jenn is reading the info on the side of the machine, which who knew there were words on a thing that I’m refusing to acknowledge even has a name in my endeavor to not allow it to be real, and she says, “you can do pull downs” (what we were doing) “and pull ups.” I say I want to be the first to try the pull ups, and she says she’s going to do it first. THEN SHE RACES ME TO DO IT FIRST!!! Seriously. I don’t get to be the official guinea pig for the new machines, and now I don’t get to be the first to even do the pull up part? Are you kidding me?  And here’s the worst part… THEN! THEN she says, “you can write about it in your blog” all smug like. Mmm hmm. Said it to MY FACE!

Well, I showed her! That’s right, Jenn. I wrote about you in my little blog.

Honestly, the little indignities I suffer…

(Note to all of you literal types: I AM KIDDING! Well no, this all happened, but Jenn is the best and we did try new things today, and she did actually give me grief about writing in my blog. I just wanted to clear that up, and make a note that I’m joking, because well… some of you guys… wow.)

Unicorns

LANGUAGE WARNING (sometimes I swear)

My friends and family have been waiting for the post-cruise post. Well guys, I’m sorry. This isn’t that post. Your wait just got a little longer. In my defense, I’m still flipping through photos, and going over my story-telling options. I mean, do I share the “Overheard” list, review all the things I kept carrying around in my mouth, or do I go straight for “that time I had to speak to the cruise ship police” story? Tough choices indeed.  You see my dilemma.

So, this is clearly a segue to talk about unicorns.

Oh, it wasn’t? Weird.

Let’s start with… There are certain words that just stick in my craw. There’s no real rhyme or reason to it. I hear the word or phrase, and suddenly I find I’m a little twitchy and that my eyes want to carefully investigate the inside of my cranium. Words like “hipster” or “YOLO”. Then there are the words that have been appropriated. The ones I’ve been warned not to use like “taint”. GRAB A DICTIONARY (“Urban” doesn’t count), you degenerate yahoos!  That’s NOT what that word means.

Ok, now can we talk unicorns?

The first time I heard the word in reference to a person was honestly in the TV show Supernatural – Meg’s special name for Castiel. I actually can’t hear the word without imagining it purred out in that character’s voice. It fit, too. Castiel was pure, chaste, special – a one-of-a-kind.

I’d forgotten about it until not long ago when my male friends were snickering over a video which depicted an eye-rolling graph about women. The X-axis represented degrees of “sanity,” while the Y-axis was “beauty.” Basically, after spewing a lot of words that made me want to punch the aforementioned giggling male friends, it claimed a gorgeous  sane woman was a “unicorn” – a woman who didn’t exist, and if she did, she would be so rare that she’d be impossible to catch.

Then yesterday I found myself on Urban Dictionary looking up “unicorn” and reading the following definition: “That girl that you can’t catch. Everything about her is so perfect (divine, if you will) getting with her is unfathomable…” I snorted.  Honestly dude, you’re not a fair maiden from the middle ages who has been woven into a tatty tapestry, and this “divine” object of your desire is not a cloven hoofed mythical creature with a calcified growth protruding from the middle of her head easily lured by virgins. She’s just a woman.

There is so much to be said here, but I’m going to walk away from this before I hop down a rabbit hole and land on a soapbox.

A friend of mine lamented that men are always out chasing these unicorns, never stopping to look around and take notice of the great “non-unicorn” gals around them. I see her point, but the topic was frustrating. My friend felt so much less than these supposed “unicorns” – these supposed mythical, uncatchable, and overly talented beauties who are somehow “more than” in ways my friend never felt she was or could be.  It was frustrating, because sometimes I feel that despite our best efforts, despite our progress, despite our age or seeming self-confidence that sometimes our only validation can come through the attention of men. (Note: I said “sometimes” there, because we occasionally rally in beautiful ways.) We desire to be a unicorn. We don’t want to believe or be told that, “You are not special. You’re not a beautiful and unique snowflake. You’re the same decaying organic matter as everything else.” (Chuck Palahniuk).  And then we hear men describe a woman as a unicorn, and we yearn for that same attention and want someone to think we’re just as special, just as unique, just as beautiful.

On one hand I want to point out to her how she is this rarefied unicorn – to say something so profound that it allows her to actually see herself through my eyes. On the other, I recognize I don’t see myself through my friends and family’s eyes either, which  frustrates them to no end. I also realize it’s hard for me to talk when I’m wrapped around the axle over a guy who has his prom pictures prominently displayed in his living room. Someone who, as a friend pointed out, I think isn’t as smart as most lamp posts. (In all fairness though, the lamp posts around here are pretty sharp.)

And I recognize in myself that while I’ve been extremely lucky to have caught the eye of some truly great men in the past, I too still want to be thought of as special. I too am frustrated by dating (and coffee – have I mentioned the coffee thing?). And I don’t want to say words that don’t ring true like the ones I always hear: “You don’t need a man in your life; you’re strong,” or “the right one is out there, you’ll find him.” Typing those made me vomit a little.

So, here’s what I want to say to her and to all of my friends, even though they won’t hear it or believe it (because I wouldn’t either):

You’re all unicorns. Maybe not in that ridiculous way Urban Dictionary defines it. You’re  not perfect (who is?), and maybe you’re not “divine” (such a ridiculous adjective),  but  you are beautiful, special, and unique snowflakes. You are untamable, unstoppable, and made the more beautiful by your scars and your flaws – you’re women, not objects. Set the world on fire! Show it how great you are, and screw anyone who doesn’t take a moment to pause and really see you.

And hell, I didn’t play in a mariachi, take tap for seven years, sing onstage with a puppet on my arm, hug it out with Chuck Norris, get trapped in an elevator with Lady Bird, play in orchestras for years, lay someone on their back in Tae Kwon Do, blow out my knee one year only to climb a Mayan ruin the next (almost on the anniversary) to be told I’m not interesting, unique, or a f*in’ badass unicorn.

And you ladies have done even more than that.

You’re all mother fucking unicorns!

But know I do hear you. And I say all of that knowing what you’re feeling and experiencing is frustrating, and understanding how deeply it hurts, but I do truly believe these unicorn hunters aren’t worthy of you – they never were. Show them how great you are.

(PS – Jenn, I think I’m still mad. 😦 )

Navigating a Mine Field

A few words before I start. This post is for my nearest and dearest. Those who continuously put up with my insanity, and yet some how still hang around. It’s also a quick note to say that this was the post I meant to write at the beginning of the year. I also meant to send out Christmas cards, and well you all see how that went. Actually, you didn’t, because… well… I just blew it. Love you!

The Mine Field

I want to acknowledge that over the past year and a half navigating my emotions can be a bit like tip-toeing through a mercurial mine field. Without warning I can go from sunshine (and lollipops, of course :)) to wanting to crush all the things… with a sledge hammer… across someone’s head as Carmina Burana: O Fortuna plays loudly in the background. (Wait, you don’t have a soundtrack to your life, too? Oh, I’m the weird one. Mm hmm.) So, I thought I’d help you negotiate the path, by asking for your help in return especially as we edge closer to Jay’s birthday, our anniversary, and of course the anniversary.

One of the things I’ve learned is that sometimes I need to be direct about expressing my needs. Apparently, wishing people understood doesn’t go as far as one would hope, so here they are:

I need your unconditional support. Before you agree to it, hear me out as I break it down. Cue the sweet-sweet beat-box sounds.

The Gym

Support my goals. Whether you think I’m working too hard, or that I’m not working hard enough. Whether you believe I go too often, or merely wonder why I can’t go seven days a week if I’m going six. I need you to support me. “Why must you get up at 4?” That’s ok to wonder, but what I need from you is to merely say, “way to go!” It’s simple. I’ll worry about the other stuff. That’s my job.

My Weight/My Dietary Stuff

You may not agree with it or understand it, and that’s ok, too. Trust that I can also read, that I also have used the internet once, and that I’m quite capable of researching information. My choices are not up for debate. I’m actually an adult human being, so you’re going to have to trust me. Don’t call me out. Don’t suggest, “one glass of wine won’t hurt.” It’s great that you can eat baskets of chips and buckets of yeast rolls. You do you. Know that only three people are truly invested in my health. One of them is me, and the other two aren’t you, and that’s ok, too. Those guys will worry about that stuff.

Boys

I love you guys. I love that you think I’m great, and you want to circle the wagons when it comes to dating especially if it involves rejection. You guys are awesome! A couple of things: I will always do my best to be safe. Please don’t send me a photograph of my car while I’m on a date to show you’re lurking nearby. It’s a little weird, and by “a little” I mean “a lot.” Thank you for giving me a story, but it’s a strange little story, right? Thank you for caring enough to stalk me. When I get security cameras installed, it might be partially to keep an eye out for you.

When I get rejected, and that’s just going to happen, guys – probably a lot – brace yourselves – that’s ok. It’s not because the guy in question is a bad person. We just weren’t the right people for each other. It’s also ok if I’m a little heartbroken, and I mourn a bit. You have to understand I’m mourning more than this person, I’m also mourning the loss of Jay, and how much I wish I wasn’t finding myself in a dating situation at all. It’s not as big or as overwhelming as it once was, but it’s always under the surface.

And here’s some of what I don’t need. I don’t need you to deride the person out of a sense of loyalty to me. I don’t need you to quantify that person’s place in my life or try to divine its meaning. Only I can do that. Unless you’re a renowned clairvoyant with a 99% accuracy rate, I don’t need you to tell me, “there’s someone out there, you just haven’t met them yet.” Many things could happen – I could be hit by a bus tomorrow. I could win the lottery tonight if I find the right store. I could take up tight rope walking or even or be discovered by a Romanian ballet troupe. There are an infinite number possibilities of things that happen to people all the time – things that could happen to me tomorrow. Unless you’ve got someone very specific in mind, you don’t know. That’s just something you say when you don’t know what to say – in an attempt to lift someone’s spirits. In an attempt to life my spirits. That’s incredibly nice. I don’t need my spirits lifted. I need you to listen.

A good friend of mine and I were talking about this, and she expressed that it’s oftentimes hard to know what to say in those situations. Here’s my best advice. You don’t have to say anything more than to acknowledge the person’s feelings. “I know that must hurt.” “I know you were hopeful.” And maybe then you can offer advice or offer help. Sometimes what I need is a sounding board, a movie to watch, and a girl date to go clothes shopping. Or maybe I need a pedicure and a final decision on that phoenix tattoo. Or maybe I just need to mourn the loss of a boy, a dollhouse, and staying up late laughing in a garage without anyone telling me that the experience didn’t matter in the bigger scheme of things.

In return, I’ll try to be more present. Though it’s still often more challenging than not. I’ll try to be a better friend who remembers there are other people in the world with their own significant struggles. I’ll try to tread a little more gently.

And still you’ll need to sweep the field for mines, and understand that sometimes you’re just not going to see them before you hear that sickening “click” sound (just stand very still). Know the field is less littered, and each day the path gets clearer. Thank you for continuing to walk it with me.

The Day I Turned Off the Phone

Back in the day, when the only season was Spring, rains were always gentle, puddles demanded splashing, hills were always “down,” and my friends were all impossibly attractive and incredibly intelligent (oh wait, that still holds true), I had my very first network account. This was a time long before the internet as we know it now, but still younger than ARPANET. Mosaic was someone’s pipe dream, there was no Netscape, and the world had yet to discover the joys of creating art from the million and a half AOL installation discs we’d eventually receive weekly. Meg Ryan wasn’t trained to wrinkle her nose adorably at the sound “you’ve got mail” and neither were we for that matter. I was a beth@ then, because there were no other Beth’s out there, and I tunneled around using “telnet” occasionally FTPing a bit so I could “get” and “put” things. I sent notes using something called “Elm” although “Pine” worked, too. And I knew the very basics of Unix – well, enough to occasionally (and sometimes accidentally) open the vi editor, and would promptly get stuck for long moments of irritating, swear-fest fun. My MMO’s were on things called MUDs  (LP, not Diku, of course) or MUshes. It was new, wholly consuming, and exciting.

I was addicted to what would become my personal slippery network slope.

My roommates would roll their eyes as I’d make weekly runs to Taylor Hall just to check-in with this new and strange emerging world. I’d peek into my mailbox and immediately thrilled if, on the off chance, I received one of these virtual mail gems. It was fantastic! The world was quickly becoming smaller, more accessible, and I was able to chat up my fellow nerds (all around my age) who sat somewhere around the globe – likely on their own campuses. It was new, exciting, and quite honestly one I’ve been indulging in for all of these long decades since.

It took awhile, years in fact, but eventually friends and family members discovered it, too and the world became even smaller.

Then came cell phones, and we were even more connected than before. I should mention here that I gave up talking on the phone years ago. While I had my own line in high school, and would talk for hours (10 was my high school record) telemarketing for several years broke me of that need to speak to people on the cursed thing. (FYI, if you speak for 10 hours then try to convince your parents you’re “too sick” to go to your summer job, you “may” get a lesson both responsibility and accountability, and a ride to work.)  I remember that first cell phone. It was chunky with a ridiculous looking antennae, and I’d practically hold it away from me with two fingers as if it was offensive. Really, the only good thing about it is it allowed me to talk to Jay. Then there was the Nokia lollipop in hot pink, and the electric Motorola Razr (also hot pink), and the best thing I could say about them were “they’re hot pink” or “hey, I’ve made the Pink Panther my ring tone.”  I used those early phones as tools – things only in my life to contact emergency vehicles should my car break down. Even texting back then was a special nightmare as I mashed keys multiple times hoping I could eventually work out “hello” or something close enough that I could just stop typing on it. You know the infinite monkey theorem was probably blown apart here, because there’s no way any works by Shakespeare would ever be produced. I just couldn’t think of a good reason to have one (save the emergency vehicle thing).

And then I received my first smartphone. On that day the heavens opened up and the angels sang (true story). I had a mini-tablet with me all the time – one with a keyboard – one with unlimited texts. GLORY BE!!! I finally understood the micraculousness of this electronic wizardry! I know the weather ALL THE TIME!!! Why go outside? What does outside know anyway? All of my music! (err… I went too far – just put in “a lot” there) is right there! (Not ABBA though; I’m not sure what happened there.)  All of my contacts! My calendar! It’s electronic magic! Notifications tell me of people’s birthdays, so in theory I can’t forget. Who knew they were even born? I do now! And having it gave me that old familiar thrill as if I were typing > /telnet > open bessel.umd.edu 2000 for the first time. You see that, right? You had that same experience?

Screw being present any more. I had access to the most useless information (and some useful, sure) 24/7. What happened last season on the Expanse? I have no clue, but if you need information on Jason Statham’s latest movie projects, I got that! I have a babysitter to hold my hand through awkward situations. Why worry about not knowing anyone at a gathering, when I can ensure it by starting a text exchange with a known friend? And I finally get all of those friends who have made me insane over the years as they’ve checked out while we were doing things. No longer do I try to announce myself by being right there – in person saying, “Hello! Oh no? Ok, I’ll wait until you’re done.” We can now spend time together without all that bothersome spending time together.

The thing I’ve tried not to be. Well, here I am!

Thursday I realized I’d become more than a little obsessive about my phone, and particularly about waiting for texts, so I stopped. I turned it off.  I chunked it into my purse, and decided not to worry about it (which I’ve been fairly successful at). And you know what? Its been ok. I’ve somehow managed. I went to a meeting and remained attentive the entire time – on a Saturday, no less. I navigated to a new location by looking at a map. I actually wrote out a list for the grocery store, and I’ve talked on my land line. People actually called here to just check-in, which was awesome. Now granted, I have been informed that I’m quite old fashioned and a bit quaint for having a land line, but hey I’ll take that.

Tomorrow I’ll flip the thing back on, and we’ll see if I missed anything. I strongly suspect I haven’t. I also strongly suspect, I’ll dive back into my co-dependent relationship (see that, I’ve kind of anthropomorphized the phone to make it share a small bit of the blame – authors can do that – it’s the magic of words), but I do see more days like this in my future – days when I may just shut the thing off and re-engage with the world a little more – and it will be ok then, too.

Coffee or Tea? A Ridiculous Dating Update

I’m going to take a moment to horrify my friends.  Guys, I don’t love coffee. I’m sorry. I know. I’ve been pretending for you for years in order to be accepted, but there it is – a simple truth.  Don’t get me wrong, not loving it doesn’t mean I hate coffee, it’s just… well, we’re frien-emy’s. Coffee is ok with our relationship. Coffee understands that for us to get along, it has to be dressed up before we go out together. Mind you, not quite Gingerbread Latte dressed up, because I’m not that fancy, but definitely a little cream or milk will be joining us.

Unfortunately, “would you like to grab coffee?” seems to be the current online go-to choice for those who want to meet for the first time. Where is Mr. Microphone to break the ice? And while my response is usually, “yes,” the between the lines is, “no, not really – I’d much rather sit around in my fleecey pants, my favorite t-shirt and Homer Simpson slippers while catching up on Star Trek Discovery and sipping iced tea,” but no one ever asks if that’s what I’d like to do. Weird. I’d also be game for almost anything else – like a walk around Town Lake would be great – something that doesn’t seem like the world’s worst interview where we’re across a table grilling each other about hobbies and political tastes. I’m not sure what I’ve written in my bio, but it draws people who get incredibly nervous when speaking to me, and I’m just thinking coffee is not going to help calm the nerves. Perhaps a nice chamomile? Warm milk?

I did get to hit the Steeping Room this last go around by claiming I couldn’t think of a single coffee place nearby.  This put me more at ease thanks to a lovely Moroccan gun powder mint tea. Thank you, Jers for introducing us decades ago. And once again I found I made another human being a bit twitchy. He should have found his own zen calm by placing an order for his favorite hot drink, too. The only downside to this meeting was I’d honestly managed to forget his name multiple times during the day. “What’s the guy’s name you’re meeting?” “Ummm… yeah… I should check that before going.” I’m kind of going through a phase where I think all online dates are named, “Todd.” It’s embarrassing but true. I did double-check before exiting my car. I felt a little terrible about that.  Anyway, he was smart, a server developer/designer, and another runner. The only real notable thing that stood out from our conversation was me trying to convince him that people on the opposite political side could actually be intelligent. We parted with the mutual understanding that it was ok that the other existed in the world. My aunt will not have to send him a note suggesting we be friends.

Speaking of, I did send the other runner a note in an attempt to convince him we should at least be friends. I figured I’d take the burden off my very willing aunt. The last time I tried to convince a stranger to be my friend was in 3rd grade at my day care center where I had a habit of walking up to new kids and declaring, “I’m Beth!” then following with a subtle, “Want to be friends?” This almost always worked, since I was somewhat obnoxious, and they quickly realized they’d be stuck with me every day after school for a year. Might as well give in! It turns out I’ve lost that skill set along with the advantage of having another person locked in the same space. In my sad attempt to convince him I tried a cocktail of, “I think you’re great” added with an, “I think you should allow yourself to be swept into a new group,” and finally, after he’d said no one had ever described him in a particular way,  “I’m neither family nor friend. I’m not obligated to flatter you or build you up – this is how I see you – this is why you should believe me. Plus, I’m not actually this nice to strangers.” Ok fine, I realize I did not miss my calling in sales or debate, but personally I wanted to be MY friend after hitting send. 🙂 Apparently, I was very much alone in this. A good friend tried to convince me it’s ok that the runner will not be added into my menagerie. I suppose.

What’s next? Well, I’ve discovered that on this dating journey, I’ve gotten more blunt – as in the “be my friend” example above. So, while I had the potential to meet up with a musician/librarian (librarian???) this week, and tell even more ridiculous stories, I may have insulted him. He’d sent a note about how his band is auditioning a singer. I asked some questions and wished his band luck, to which his response was, “Yeah. This will work. Are you free next week?” And yours truly may have responded, “Did you just type out your thought bubble?” I haven’t heard back from him. Weird.

Finally, I am supposed to meet up with another new person later this week.

I’m sure I’ll have more stories. You’re welcome Tori.

Please let it not actually be over coffee.

A Simple Wish

May your coming year be filled with magic and dreams and good madness. I hope you read some fine books and kiss someone who thinks you’re wonderful, and don’t forget to make some art — write or draw or build or sing or live as only you can. And I hope, somewhere in the next year, you surprise yourself. –Neil Gaiman

At the beginning of 2017 I was given a box that held 260 colorful envelopes filled with notes/quotes/questions/advice from my friends and family. These lunchbox notes were to accompany me each day of work and were to be opened at lunch (thus, the name).  There were instructions directing me to open one first, and it ended up containing the quote above.  These, in turn, became the things I wanted to achieve – a list of what I wanted to accomplish throughout the year – a road map – a bucket list.

So, I wrote a little more. Maybe not sketches, as I’d planned. It turns out that in this political climate my attempts at satire have too sharp an edge to them. I started turning off NPR more (sorry guys, I still love you) and sang more, replacing the news with singing – each time I got into the car.  I even made it out to karaoke, something I hadn’t done in years, and belted out a little Lady Gaga, ABBA, and Kansas. I now have a baby stereo system in the house where I repeat the show daily. (To the delight of my neighbors, Elle King’s America’s Sweetheart is my current go-to.) I made some art, and sent cards off to friends and family. To surprise myself, I entered the Warrior Dash, and I can say I was in fact surprised in the end. This one set me back a bit, causing all of the things to stop, and me to momentarily forget the list.

As I grew stronger, I was able to dive back in – writing, singing, reading, laughing, and creating.  The only one left to tackle was “kiss someone who thinks [I’m] wonderful.” So, a month ago I decided “screw it” and I re-entered the online dating world to give it a more serious try.  I went on three dates over five days. André, of the infamous meltdown, was the first. See below for a recap.

The second was Todd. I have to admit that over the past three weeks I became a 16 year-old girl when it came to all things Todd – a distracted girly mess. One of my male friends joked, “hell, I’m starting to have a crush on Todd” thanks to all of my incessant Todd talk, usually followed by, “do you want to see his picture?” It was terrible, and kind of fun, and it reminded me of staying on the phone for hours in high school, of passing notes, of having my girlfriends spend the night, of listening to music in the darkness of my room, and of daydreaming. He was a reminder that I was still alive, and still able to be reduced to a blushy, giddy little girl mess.

I met Todd a day or two after the André-no-I-don’t-want-to-drive-to-Costco-for-the-great-gas-don’t-put-your-face-near-my-face incident. I went to his place, knowing my adopted big brothers would not be pleased for safety reasons, and watched him put together a doll house for his granddaughter. He was just as beautiful in person, and also very simple in ways I won’t be able to quite convey here.

A few highlights from that evening: He told me, “I’d totally mack with you, but I’ve had a lot of coffee, and I don’t like to kiss with coffee breath.” Wow, umm… I don’t think anyone has ever said they’d “mack” with me. I’m not sure I’ve “macked” with anyone. Maybe I’m not a macker? If we “macked” would this count towards my “…kiss someone who thinks you’re wonderful?” Gaiman didn’t say anything about “macking with someone.” Then Todd professed his love of the phrase “that’s what she said” and probably used it 15-20 different times. Apparently, she says a lot. Todd expressed with certainty that a whole comedy routine based on that line would quite possibly be the best stand-up comedy routine ever.  I’m not so sure. I threw in a few “that’s what she said” lines to make him happy, and he giggled gleefully (alliteration also makes him happy) while continuing to work on this dollhouse (a bit of a structural mess, but it also made him happy). I then turned the conversation to why he loved the town we’re in, because frankly it’s a sea of HOA’s to me, and I hoped he might have some insight that would make me see it differently. His response: “I’m near three strip clubs.” Oh… “Yeah, I love strip clubs and I would totally pay for you to get a lap dance.” At this I had to say, “That actually wouldn’t do anything for me, but thank you.” He smiled and offered up, “well, it would do something for me.” Ohhhh kay… (For any of you thinking a strip club birthday gift card might make the perfect gift, you should give that to someone else.) I got a tour of his apartment and the multiple 8″x10″ prom pictures proudly displayed on the walls. I have to confess, my prom pictures are still in the “vintage” envelope they came in. (Sorry David! I did put one in a photo album and used it for a #TBT thing on FB.)

We ended with a side hug, and I sighed… so pretty. There goes my 16 year old girl, and a 49 year old woman drove home – music blaring, while singing at the top of her lungs.

Two days later, I had coffee with the runner post my half marathon (where I did surprise myself). He was absolutely brilliant. Smart, engaging, a fantastic storyteller (and we all know how I love good stories), and I was none of those things in return. And while I recognize I’m not his type physically, he’s the kind of person who absolutely should be one of my friends. I was lamenting this to my aunt yesterday, and she kindly offered to call him up and explain how great I was.  “You know if you want me to, I’d do it,” which made me laugh. All I could picture was a call that might sound like, “Hi, this is Beth’s aunt. She’s really great; you’d really like her. I’m so proud of her. Anyway, she thinks you’re really neat. She has a lot of really neat friends, so if she thinks you’re neat, then there’s probably something special about you. You should really be her friend. I’m going to have a get together at Easter, and she knows she’s always welcome. You could come, too.” While I loved this idea, and it made my heart smile, I can only imagine how that would sound to a stranger. “Please reconsider being my niece’s friend. We love her.” I love my aunt, and I love that she was serious. Also, a side note to my friends: she really does think you guys are neat. Also, damnit, he was really cool.

So Neil, I failed a little when it came to living up to your New Year’s wishes.

While the year continued to hold a few more hardship, it was also one that was filled with magic, and dreams, and good madness. I read some fine books. I made some art – I wrote, I drew a little, I sang loudly and often, I laughed, and I surprised myself (half marathon!!).  I was surrounded with the best people. Old friends, new friends, and family… and though there were tears, there was more joy.

I plan to do more of that next year.  And maybe… just maybe… I’ll “mack” with someone who thinks I’m wonderful.

Dedication: This was for Tori who suggested I had another blog piece in me before the end of the year. Hears to you, kid!