Modern Romance (is a title from a book I just read)

“There’s no sign of life. It’s just the power to charm. I’m lying in the rain, but I never wave bye-bye. But I try, I try…” ~David Bowie, Modern Love

I took the opportunity while I was on vacation and traveling to read Aziz Ansari’s book Modern Romance. My friends have been suggesting I read it since last summer. My fears of online dating are widely known amongst my friends and family, and I think they thought this would help calm my nerves. They’re adorable. I can’t say it didn’t help. I can’t say it made me want to create an account either…at least not yet. We’ll see what the future brings, or rather what it doesn’t bring resulting in me caving and creating a profile.

What did this book do for me besides make me laugh and maybe not feel so bad about my love life? For starters, it made me think Aziz and I would be good pals. I realize this wasn’t the point, but still. Jokes, love of fresh pasta and taking to multiple sources to research and find the best taco for my taco craving? Mmm hmmm. I feel you, Aziz.

Secondly, it confirmed what I was feeling. I love/hate that technology now plays such a big role in the dating world. I am not a huge fan that texting overrides phone calls when asking someone out. I do like that it allows for easy ways to send someone a quick note to let them know you’re thinking about them. I hate the games played with texting – the time taken to respond to not seem eager or desperate (this is exhausting), the lack of thought put into the conversation and the dudes that forget you’re a person and not a screen. I’ve received some terrible messages and been spoken to in a way I know they would not say to me verbally or in person. (Those numbers are deleted.) On the flip side, he made a point about having documentation of a budding relationship. So, should things work out, you have your awkward and nervous initial conversations right there in front of you to reminisce over. That’s pretty cute.

What else? Ah, the guidance on what not to do should I ever dip into the online dating pool. (Please universe don’t make me do this.) Basically, it’s like this…get off your butt and meet these people. Quit spending so much time messaging back and forth. Once you determine they’re not crazy (this is where I will have the biggest problem – thank you, Dateline!), just go meet them in person. I agree with this, and I think this applies (to me anyway) with texting, too. If it never leads to someone asking the other out, what’s the point? If we have good banter, it’s obvious I’m interested and nothing? Why keep wasting time? I’ll assume you’re truly not interested and move on. I’ll also move on should I be the only one making the effort to keep the conversation going. I feel like a lot of people get stuck here. Too many messages, not enough dates.

Sexting. Still on the fence with this one. I have never had a reason to do this and my thoughts on this are…if you’re going for it just don’t include any parts of you that are unique and identifiable (like tattoos, piercings…your face!) so you can deny, deny, deny… Unless boobs are like snowflakes in that no one is the same, but I think you’re fine here.

Finally, the grass is always greener…until it isn’t. This can get tricky. If you find someone you get along with well enough on a first date, do you go out again or move on because it doesn’t blow your mind and there are so many options (seemingly) available online? According to Aziz’s theory, if you had a nice enough time and the other doesn’t seem like a crazy person, go for date two. I agree with this one. Being that I have mostly encountered losers, creeps and clowns the last year, I would go for date two even if I just had an average amount of fun. Initial conversations are usually overviews. I want to know the good stuff. I feel like date two is where you start learning some good stuff. If you keep going on first date after first date…zzzzz. What? Sorry, I fell asleep from being tired of thinking about only first dates. You get my point.

I think if you’re in a dating rut, scared to death of online dating, confused as to why the dating world looks so different since you were last single or just want some laughs (I just described my life), this is a good read. WARNING:  He talks a lot about his love of food, so you’ll probably be hungry or want to seek out the best place to eat ramen in Japan. Which now I totally do. Who wants to go on a first date to Japan?

Travel Puts Things In To Perspective

“Close your brown eyes and lay down next to me. Close your eyes, lay down. Cause there goes the fear, let it go.” ~The Doves, There Goes the Fear

I spent the last nine days away from home. One personal trip that flowed directly into a work trip. I didn’t realize how much I needed a break from my own life. I have been making an effort to be open and put myself out there in the world, but it’s difficult when you don’t get out of your daily routine and out of your city. You tend to forget there are other people in the world going through what you’re going through. You’re not alone even if it feels like it sometimes. I can’t think of a time in recent years where I came back from a trip and didn’t make a life change, even if it was a small one. My recent trips have encouraged me to practice vulnerability.

I took a trip to California with two of my best friends and had the joy of spending time with old friends who live in the Bay Area. These were all my friends and people I knew before I ever met my ex, committed and got married…then divorced. They were friends that knew me when I was young, dumb and free and somehow nearly 15-20 years later still value my friendship as much as I value theirs. Do you know what that does for you when you are on the upswing of a hard-fought, divorce healing process? It basically shoots you to the moon. I think the best way to put it is that I felt whole again. It was a gentle reminder that I am me. My own person. The person I worked hard to be and am proud of. I’m not this awful event that happened to me or a product of a bad marriage. I can’t recall a time in recent years where I laughed so hard for so many days and felt genuinely loved by people. The happiness I felt somehow brought about the idea that I should stop being so scared to put myself out there and be vulnerable. It’s ok to be vulnerable (I slightly shuddered as I typed that. I’m still having periods of doubt, but I’m committed to trying.) because being vulnerable brought some amazing people in my life.

Vulnerable. Such a tricky word, right? People spend so much time being it, testing it out or straight-up avoiding it. I understand why people avoid it because I did it. I was door #3. It’s scary because you know it means certain rejection (as awesome as you are, not everyone is going to like you) and rejection is usually a bummer. I was bummed out for about 18 months. Being vulnerable at a time of pain and sadness was just too much for me no matter how much I truly wanted to start looking for the right partner. So, for the reasons I just stated, I’ve allowed myself to keep my feelings to myself.

These days I can’t say I’m still hurt, and I’m not sad. I have no excuses. No one is going to want to take a chance on someone emotionally vacant. I’m thirty-something. I can’t walk around admitting I can’t tell a dude how I feel. That’s embarrassing. Who wants a partner or even a friend who can’t say how they feel about them? I don’t, so I can’t be that person. It’s time to put my big girl pants on (so I can eventually take them off with someone. Hey-o!). My nerves may prevent me from perfect execution, but I’m going to at least give it a go. I’ll get there.

Thank you California and friends for taking me out of my own head for several days. Thank you for the beautiful views and friendships that remind me emotional connection and human touch are the things that give our lives meaning. Thank you for giving me the courage to make solid attempts to wear my heart on my sleeve and leave it there no matter what.


You make me dizzy, Miss Lizzy. The way you rock and roll. You make me dizzy, Miss Lizzy. When we do the stroll. Come on, Miss Lizzy. Love me before I grow too old. -The Beatles, Dizzy Miss Lizzy

Father’s Day is this weekend, so I would be a total jerk if I did not share some stories about mine. I have mentioned him in some previous stories like when he used to scare my siblings and I by telling us a dead woman named Rachel lived in the walls of our house, but there is lots more to tell. 

While I learned compassion and how to laugh through the tough times from my mom, I learned discipline, mental toughness, how to bend rules and stand up for myself from my dad. Or, as he would put…not taking shit from anyone. I might have also gotten my potty mouth from him. Mom isn’t pleased about that one. 

In addition to dad duties growing up, my dad was a carpenter and a soccer coach. He coached, very successfully, my brother’s club teams and our grade school soccer teams. You’d think being the coaches daughter, you’d get privileges. Nope. Opposite. I had to work harder because he wanted it clear there was no favoritism. The message was loud and clear for me. In the end, I was a solid player, strong and made Varsity as a freshmen in both soccer and volleyball. While he never coached volleyball, the mental toughness and discipline required for the sport I learned from him. It’s carried me through life and is one of the sole reasons I didn’t lose my shit going through my divorce last year. 

Music. He loves it like my mom loves it. Growing up I was exposed to all the classic rock one could handle. Turns out I can handle a lot! Once when my parents picked me up from the airport on a visit home, I hopped in the car where my dad was in the passenger seat. No hello. The first thing out of his mouth was, “Ok, I have the new Bruce Springsteen or the new Rush.” He was holding the cds up for me to choose for the ride home. My response? “Let’s start with Bruce and go from there. Also, HI!” Dizzy Miss Lizzy by The Beatles was one of my favorite songs as a little girl, and he played it often for me. I wanted it to be our Father/Daughter dance at my wedding. Work injuries prevented him from getting down like that, BUT he is getting both knees replaced. Perhaps at my next wedding, we can rock to my original selection. 

Beers. He’s always down to have one with you. 

Grilling. Every Thanksgiving and Christmas he has about 5 pits going. Turkey, salmon, pork tenderloins, squash, whatever vegetables my mom wants…you name it. He’s making it, and I’m eating all of it until I’m uncomfortable. It’s an impressive thing to watch. He has a marker board with times and temps of each pit. He still uses the Homer Simpson Weber we bought him when the Simpson’s turned 10. It’s bright yellow and hilarious. 

About five years ago my dad decided to stop cutting his hair. When someone told him he looked like old Ric Flair, he kept growing it. My mom was PISSED. He has short hair again. 

He drops everything he is doing to help me when I need it. This requires a 10 hour drive (round trip), and he is happy to do it. Who does that?

St. Louis has a strange tradition of having to tell knock knock jokes for candy while Trick-or-Treating. He taught me all my jokes and helped me practice my delivery. 

He chose to laugh and not get mad when I used to come home drunk at 3am, wake him up and talk to him in third person. 

I have listened to him tell my mom she’s beautiful and open her door my entire life. I’m holding out for a partner who treats me the same way because I know it exists. I’m not wasting my second chance. 

The dad-daughter relationship is a crucial but delicate one. My dad isn’t perfect, but he is proof to me that people can own their mistakes and change, proof chivalry and loyalty isn’t dead and proof someone can love another unconditionally. Happy Father’s Day, Daddy-O!

Flying Isn’t Always My Friend

“…It’s hard to be a passenger for me. You know I’m always looking down.” ~Jets to Brazil, Air Traffic Control

Every time I pack for a trip, I go through my checklist of things I carefully write out so I don’t forget anything. I also walk myself through the list of embarrassing things I have done on flights and hope I don’t have a repeat. Have you ever seen someone look somewhat scared while doing breathing exercises? Be awake one second and then pass out the next? Doing something ridiculous while sleeping? Spill on themselves? Hit themselves in the head with their own suitcase? If you have, chances are we’ve been on a flight together and the person you were laughing at was me. Here are some of the highlights:

  • I used to have a major fear of flying. I’m still not comfortable, but I’ve never let it stop me from boarding. For a solid two years, I would be so anxious that by the time the plane would takeoff, I would pass out. Immediately. I have a whole system that I still practice today just in case! I have a window seat unless I’m flying with someone I know that is comfortable with me using their shoulder as a landing pad. (Pun intended.) I place a sweater or something I can use as a pillow (because I forgot the actual travel pillow) between me and the plane wall. I rest my head on it and close my eyes pretending I’m already asleep so when I pass out I don’t freak anyone out. It’s a good a system until…
  • I found out the hard way sometimes my head doesn’t stay in place. On three occasions I have passed out so hard that my head slid so I was asleep looking down. Not the worst, right? Wrong. Every time this happened my lower jaw somehow managed to unhinge and push itself forward. I wake up while still in this position. Have you ever seen Sling Blade? Yeah. That’s right. I’m Karl. I was so embarrassed the first time that it took me several minutes to slowly move myself out of this position.
  • Where do you place falling asleep on a stranger’s shoulder on the embarrassing scale now that you heard the Sling Blade incidents? It probably doesn’t seem as bad now. However, this has happened. The only saving grace is I didn’t drool.
  • Once I couldn’t get my bag out of the overhead compartment. I didn’t realize it was hooked on the strap of the bag next to mine because, well, I’m not that tall. It was causing me to hold up the line. By the time I broke the sucker lose, I nailed myself in the head. No one bothered to help me. I think someone asked if I was ok. I don’t remember because I was walking away as fast as humanly possible.
  • I knocked my soda over and spilled on my pants. Then I spilled my water while trying to clean up the soda because I didn’t put the cap on the bottle all the way and apparently have octopus arms.

I’m sort of curious but not too curious what will happen on the four flights I’m taking in the next two weeks. If there is anything significant, I’ll write a Part II to this story.

I almost wrote Part Deux, and then I remembered that was the name of the second Hot Shots! movie. Do you guys remember those? If it wasn’t for my Sling Blade performance, I would be most embarrassed about the number of times I watched those movies back in the day.

Single Doesn’t Mean Available

“God blessed me, I’m a free man with no place free to go. I’m paralyzed and collared-tight. No pills for what I fear. This is crazy. I wish I was the moon tonight.” ~Neko Case, I Wish I Was The Moon

I’ve been single for some time now. I noticed a shift recently in how folks respond to me. When I first got divorced, some assumed I was ready to go off the party rails every weekend or at any given time during the week. I mean, when you get divorced that means you have nothing so you want to do everything, right? People that rarely ever talked to me while I was married started coming out of the woodworks. I caught on pretty quick these were folks that were unhappy in their own lives and wanted a party buddy. This is not a role I had an interest in playing.

Initially when people asked what my weekend plans were, if I didn’t feel like going out or already had scheduled plans that didn’t consist of getting hammered and trying to get a dude, it was oddly shocking to them. “What do you mean? You’re single! Don’t you want to go out and party?” My impression was that they felt…you aren’t married anymore or in a relationship, so how come you have plans that don’t involve trying to find a new husband? My favorite response when I had plans… “Oooh! Hot date?” When I said no (which was, and still is, my response) it was clearly a letdown for them. It was upsetting to me that my having a life that didn’t consist of chasing men was confusing. Maybe it shouldn’t have been, but it was quite perplexing.

The recent shift changed from assuming I was always down to party to assuming I have no life. I guess I hit the single person timestamp of presumed loser. The moment I realized this was a thing, I was floored. Then I laughed. I have actually had people plan for me to attend an outing before checking with me and then act SHOCKED when I said I wasn’t available. I didn’t know people did this! It made me pretty upset that there was an assumption I was now at certain people’s disposal. Here are my favorite reactions to me saying I have plans:

  • What the fuck do YOU have going on? (I’m not even kidding. This has been said to me several times.)
  • What do you mean you have plans? Doing what? What do you have to do? (Don’t make people justify how they’re spending their time. You come off like an asshole.)
  • Why can’t you come? Did you start dating someone? (We both know I haven’t.)
  • Oh, training? For another race? Can’t you skip it? (This is really a dick move. Don’t say this to people no matter how dumb you think their hobby is.)
  • Oooh! Hot date? (I think a more accurate question is, “Oooh! Awkward first date?” Right? That seems more appropriate and likely. But I digress…)

The truth is, yes. Sometimes I have nothing to do. Doesn’t everyone? Sometimes I just don’t feel like going out because I don’t want to deal with all that comes with it. At times when I go out I feel too old, too young, too tired, too smart, too stupid, too single…it’s too much. On a Friday night a few weeks ago, I had nothing to do. Instead of calling anyone to get drinks, I decided to stay home, eat pizza and donut holes, drink champagne in sweatpants and watch my beloved Dateline. It was amazing. I’m pretty sure I’ll do this again. Other times, I have a packed weekend. It’s the way life goes, and I thought it went that way for everyone.

It’s easy to forget the judgment isn’t about you because it’s rude and hurtful. You know that you’re not at the disposal of others, that your time isn’t less valuable than it was when you were happily then unhappily married, that you’re not desperate to be in a relationship again and that you are still fully capable of being happy for anyone else who is. You just are. You are still you.

Why Didn’t Anyone Tell Me?

“I work for the county out on ninety-five. All day I hold a red flag and watch the traffic pass me by. In my head I keep a picture of a pretty little miss. Someday, mister, I’m going to lead a better life than this.” ~Bruce Springsteen, Working on the Highway

Growing up, we all heard the same spiel about doing well in school so you could get into college. You went to college so you could get a good job. The path was paved – you just needed to stay on it, and you’ll be fine, right? You could be a doctor, a lawyer, a president of a company, a sales person, a…I don’t know. I feel like those are the things most people start with when they tell little kids a line of crap to get them to do their homework. “If you don’t do well in school, you’ll never get a good job!” Being that I didn’t grow up with money, this wasn’t motivating so much as terrifying to me. I had a sense of what I wanted to be when I got older, but mostly I was just afraid of being hungry if I picked the wrong job! I realize my young self was probably worried about the wrong thing here, but it was my reality. I chose the fine line of sort of going after what I wanted while also making sure it paid enough to support myself. It’s currently just that…sort of fulfilling.

What they didn’t explain to me and I didn’t know to question is…who the hell decides what job or career is better than the other? There is more than one way to find a good job and make a decent living, and you don’t have to necessarily follow this path in front of you. I had such tunnel vision when it came to working hard to get in to college, get a scholarship, pick a major…that I was oblivious to other avenues that were available to me.

I have met amazing people over the years with interesting jobs. I have visited so many places and witnessed strangers doing cool things for a living. I have walked away every time thinking…why the hell didn’t I know that was an option for a career? I stare at a computer all day! Here are some of those jobs and moments:

  • Beer Quality Control Taster: I am positive this isn’t the actual title, but it describes the job of the people I witnessed on multiple tours of the Anheuser-Busch brewery in St. Louis. There is a room several floors up above the tanks where these folks sit at a table lined with cups of water and beer. Their job is to taste the beer from multiple tanks to ensure continuity in flavor. What. The. Actual. Fuck? Why didn’t anyone tell me this was an option for a job? I would have focused more on refining my beer pallet – something I actually enjoy – and less on lame speeches I mumbled through in college. I don’t know if this is still something they do since they got bought out, but with the craft beer craze, I am certain I would have bounced back finding another gig just fine.
  • Name Namer: I don’t know what to call this person either, but why didn’t anyone tell me I could make money coming up with names for nail polish? Have you ever flipped over a bottle of OPI nail polish? I am so good at naming things and providing no content! Have you read any of my other stories? That’s my thing! I could get paid wordsmithing all day and then voting on a name for another shade of red? Please and thank you.
  • Dog Walker: I realize we’re not shooting for the financial stars here unless one runs their own business, and even then it’s limited. BUT this doesn’t even seem like work so much as a privilege. Oh, what? You need me to stop by your house and walk around with your adorable dog EVERY DAY? Bummer…but ok.
  • Children’s Author: I have tried to sit down and write an adult(ish) book and a movie script. My attention span and drive for putting together a lengthy story is limited. Why do you think I’m doing this blog? I can give things cute names and write short stories. This could have been me! Do you have to have kids to write these? If so, maybe there is still time for me!
  • Food Critic: I mean…seriously. You don’t even have to know how to cook. You just have to like most foods, have some standards for credibility, be willing to think your opinion matters and have some people in the service industry hate you. I’m down for all of those things. This might be the one I’m most pissed about discovering too late in life. Is there still time for me to become this? How does one become a food critic? Is it like… “Hey, Linda! We’re starting a food column. We need you to go try out some places and write about your experience because everyone else is busy.” Now Linda is a food critic? Is there more to it? If not, I’m super qualified to do this job.
  • Tour Guide: Pick nearly any national park, any historical neighborhood, whatever, and there is a person who gets to walk groups of 10-20 people around in a beautiful setting spitting out nature or building facts. For a living. Again, not shooting for the financial stars here, but this person isn’t sitting in a soul-sucking cubicle. Maybe I’m most pissed about this one. I once paid a company to sit on a boat for two hours while they sailed around a canyon pointing out things I could clearly see on my own. Like an eagle. I mean…come on! This was an option? I could have saved so much money in student loan debt. Are you surprised I didn’t call this job Nature Teller? Me too.

There are loads more jobs where I walked away annoyed with my current one. We all have. I’m happy to be employed, have benefits, yada yada, but man…it would have been so great to have some of these ideas put in front of me when I was 12 and not something landing me inside a cube all day. Not that there is anything wrong with it – I just would have liked to know I had the option of paying the bills by tasting beer all day! Ok, so maybe I’m mostly pissed about the beer thing…