Friday, February 26, 2010

Not Absolutely Perfect

Because my mind thinks and thinks and overthinks some more, I occasionally drive myself crazy. Crazy enough to believe that it is a good idea to email the unrequited crush I have not heard from in two months. You know...just to see if *maybe* he wanted to get together for coffee or a cocktail?

Yeah, I am totally that pathetic. One of my dearest friends, whom has affectionately termed me her "lovey", came up with the term "lose-bag". After I sent that email and immediately regretted it, I spent the rest of the night feeling like a complete lose-bag.

He did answer me. I did not like the answer. He essentially told me that he'd "come to the conclusion that I was not absolutely perfect for him". Absolutely perfect? Is anyone absolutely perfect? Really? If there is such a thing as an absolutely perfect person, where would I find one to act as my mentor? Pretty harsh stuff, especially when used to defend quitting something we'd never even really tried in the first place.

He did, of course, ask if I'd like to grab a beer next week, so long as I didn't "expect too much so I wouldn't be disappointed".

In response, I sent this, what I feel is a beautiful, lovely, you-stung-me-in-the-heart-but-you-don't-need-to-know-how-much-you-just-hurt-me letter:

"While I am typically a fan of blatant honesty, I am not so much when I am on the receiving end. In my mind, I'd wanted to hope that you had discovered a preference for Asian girls or came to the conclusion that you were gay or that you found yourself trapped in an arranged marriage. To hear that you found me to be less-than-perfect, based on emails and no face-to-face experience, stings the equivilent of a ripped contact sealed to the cornea.

So, as much as I do want to meet you because I am so enamored with your blog and wholeheartedly see you as as equivilent of David Sedaris, though much hotter and not gay, I will have to turn down the invite for a beer, though it was likely my own invite in the first place. I am certainly not in the business of making people feel forced or obligated to socialize with me, because I doubt that social tension would lead to laughs for either of us. In the interest of setting the best possible example I can for my daughter and for others who foolishly see me as some sort of example of being a strong, independent single girl, it would be woefully self-defeating for me to sit before you, wishing I could change your mind and convince you that I am, at the very least, worthy of a chance, despite all my less-than-perfections. Seven years of marriage taught me that the only mind you can change is your own, so I guess I've gotta roll with my own wisdom and let it go.

For whatever reason--just like you have no relevant reason for feeling like I am not absolutely perfect for you--I did the opposite and placed you on a pedestal. Perfect in every way but one: you didn't even like me enough to call. Why I was willing to ignore what should've been the most glaring imperfection of all, I don't know.

Good luck. I truly mean that. I hope that you can find someone who sees you the way I see you, and that it will be mutual. Likewise, I am gonna hold out until I can find someone who sees me in the same way I see you, and can see me as absolutely perfect, whatever that might mean. And hopefully, that is the way it works, because as jaded as I am, I still want to believe that it does work that way and that it can happen..."

There's this tiny, angry child inside my soul who still wants to pout and cry and stomp her feet on the floor, and chastise my grown-up self for turning down the beer, because WHAT IF I could've MAYBE gotten him to LIKE ME had he met me FACE-TO-FACE. the same time...I have to trust in myself that I made the decision that is absolutely perfect, at least for me.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Why? Why, why, WHY?

My daughter is at the phase where she asks 'why'. A lot. It can be non-stop. An answer to any question is met with, "Why?" After I answer that question, I again get, "Why?" And why, and why and WHY? I have a surprising amount of patience for this relentless question of why, though even I run of answers at some point, and resort to, "That's just the way it is, I guess."

My mind is never quiet. My mind thinks 24/7. It is always trying to answer some endless "why" of whatever I may be thinking at the time. Even if I am quiet, even if everyone around me is quiet, my mind is still thinking. I must think about the same things an awful lot, because you'd think, after your mind works so much constantly, you'd think I'd run out of things to think about.

For the majority of my life, I didn't know that *other people* don't think like I do. I can't comprehend that there are *other people* who don't think constantly, who don't have a non-stop stream of thoughts running through their heads. It only dawned on me that perhaps this might be unusual when my doctor looked at me and said, "You know, it's really carry yourself so well, I would never guess that inside, all you do is think and you can't stop these thoughts." Then I got a prescription for Ambien, which takes care of my non-stop thinking, at least from 10:00 pm to 7:00 am each day. Now that I've been hooked on Ambien for several years, I wonder how I ever stopped thinking long enough to sleep before I had it, with the blissful black slumber it brings me each night, when I get a break from myself and my own overthinking.

Last weekend, AC was spending a night with her Grammy, so I used the time to catch up on a couple of movies that I'd bought and never bothered to watch. But of course, while I can give the movie the attention that it needs for me to adequately follow the plot, it doesn't stop my mind from running off and thinking of other things.

While I was lying on the couch, my mind was wandering, and of course, landed on a boy. A boy who didn't even like me enough to call, but nevertheless, I have placed him on a pedestal, and in my mind, he is flawless in every way, likely because I don't really don't even know him, much less know him well enough to determine his flaws. My mind got to thinking...why can't I have this boy? He meets all of my basic criteria, plus all bonus areas! Since I have no relevant explanation for this rejection that wouldn't hurt my feelings and/or leave me feeling like a loser, I told my psyche, just because. And then, of course, my mind answered back with why, why, WHY?!?

Much like when I grow weary of answering AC's non-stop whys, I just had to tell myself that's just the way it is...but it still fails to silence my whys.

Sometimes, nothing is better than when you've moved away from that quizzical phase of why, when you do eventually discover the reasons why. I have to assume, if only to soothe my inner loneliness, that things didn't work out with the boy who didn't even like me enough to call because, just like a subway that you missed, there'll be another one coming down the tracks in the not-too-distant future. And I hope that when that happens, it'll soothe my inner whys because I'll be able to see the reasoning.

That night, on my Facebook status, I updated it to reflect my never-ending why. A friend replied that she, too, could only ask herself why at this time in her life. Knowing that she'd had a baby a mere three days before, I told her that it was totally normal to feel this way...I sure did, thanks to the crushing phenomenon of the "baby blues", which I found to be more like, "Be prepared to sob hysterically, not sleep, envision your life falling apart and your child dying, and grieving from the loss of weekly visits with your OBGYN" blues. My friend later sent me a message that explained it all: it was believed, from an ultrasound, that her baby would be born with a slight defect that was easily fixable. Upon her birth, her baby was just fine, and my friend was told that the ultrasound reading must've been false, but her newborn needed to spend the night in the NICU anyway. The next morning, my friend was told that her baby had a "spell", in which she'd had trouble getting oxygen for a few moments, but things were now fine. Many, many tests and procedures have since followed, and her baby is still hospitalized in the NICU. The doctors have not told my friend what, if anything, is wrong with her baby, and have not even given her an estimated date of when she can bring her baby home. She is devastated, and cannot stop crying and asking herself why: why is this happening, why can't I get answers, why am I at home without my baby?

It caught me off-guard, as I was at home, pouting over something as petty as some boy I didn't even know not calling, and my beloved friend, who is miles away in Chicago, is stricken with grief and cannot even get an answer to her simplest questions of why. But it just illustrated that no matter the situation--from as simple as stressing over a boy, to dealing with your brand-new baby's possible illness--there never is an end to the question of why. I guess it goes without saying that "why" is just part of human nature.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Clutter: The Root of all Evil

I shudder to think of the amount of money I have spent on stuff throughout the years. I bet it would be in the six-figures. All on stuff, crap that I likely would not even remember, much less treasure. My credit card debt doesn't consist of fun things, like trips or parties or a wicked cocaine habit, but rather things like that new Olay moisturizer that I had to have because it was new and I must try anything and everything new, or high thread count sheets, because I deserve them. Or pajamas. I buy all of these in wild fits of compulsion.

Right now I am sitting in my house, contemplating what to do. The answer should be simple: I need to get off my ass and do some cleaning. There are toys scattered everywhere. Clothes, too. And books. Items that, if calculated over my lifetime, would total in six figures.

And yet, I blame this stuff on my inability to get up and actually do something. It seems too overwhelming, too much. Unable to be cleared in one day. I'd feel as big of a failure after all that work as I do now, doing nothing but leisure activities. So why even try?

I see that the local community ed program is offering a one-night seminar on home organization, for $30. It promises tips and resources for organizing, but I'd rather spend that $30 on Olay moisturizer. It'll be more fun, and the bottle will last a lot longer than any organizational tips I could learn.

In other news, the community ed program is also offering an intro to aviation course, the first step in acquiring a private pilot license. I am so going. For reals. I realize that all totaled, getting a private pilot license would probably cost me as much as grad school, once you add in-flight lessons. Besides, I don't want to entirely learn to fly. I have no desire to fly at night, ever, under any circumstances. And it is my understanding that you don't get to pick and choose what you want to learn, based on personal preference. Alas, I can't see anything bad coming out of this. First, I have a pilot fetish. But it's wrong to sign up for classes with an ulterior motive of scoring men. So, I will pretend I am taking the Angelina Jolie route. I'd be totally bad-ass if I could fly planes, no man required, just like she does.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Just as Screwed as Me

I live in a middle-sized city in northeastern Minnesota. It's small enough to be cliquish and gossipy, and not big enough to be considered urban or at all hip.

Because of the relative smallness of the area, the local newspaper prints "Matters of Record". Matters of Record consist of court reports for trivial misdemeanor crimes, property sale transactions, bankruptcies, and my personal favorite, marriage license applications and divorces.

The marriage license and divorce section only comes once a month, usually the second Friday of the month. Typically, when I grab my newspaper that morning, I remember what day it is, and I briefly get excited, because there's sometimes little else to be excited about in my life. Ten years ago, I would've been more interested in the marriage section rather than the divorce section, because no one I knew was getting divorced and everyone I knew was getting married. Now I am far more interested in the divorce section. Not only do I get to see who is just as screwed as me, but occasionally I see the name of someone that I would possibly consider dating once his divorce is final.

January was an especially frustrating month for me, because Friday after Friday passed with no marriage and divorce records. I considered cancelling my newspaper subscription, based on the lack of gossip it was providing me. But the payoff of that is when they did finally print this information, it was two months at once, so there was a lot to review.

As I was scanning the divorce section last week, I was delighted to see the name of an ex best friend. We had been best friends ten years ago, when we worked together at a cell phone store. She was ten years older than me, and in my opinion, the epitome of glamour and fun. She had a bit of a drinking problem, but that suited me just fine, since I was 21 and liked going to bars. Unfortunately, she got three DUIs in a time frame of six months and had to go to jail. It was work-release jail, but nonetheless, it was jail. It was a rough 60 days, having to pick her up and drop her off at the jail each day. Plus, we could never go shopping or out to lunch, because it would seem that "work release" actually requires "working", not shopping or lunching.

After her jail sentence was up, she had three months of house arrest. This was again not great for the social life, but we made do, and I made out with her roommate, the brother of her sister-in-law. A few months after her house arrest ended, she met her future husband. At a bar, natch. Because where else would you meet your prospective life mate?

They had a whirlwind romance, consisting of one unplanned pregnancy, one abortion and one engagement, all over a four-month period. I was the maid of honor at their wedding, and by then, I was engaged to one of the groom's friends. It was a great day, if you exclude the fact that I got car sick on the trolley ride to the reception and that my shoes damn near cut my toes off.

As the months passed, we grew apart. We no longer worked together, so we didn't have that 40-hour-a-week contact. She got pregnant three months after her wedding, so that temporarily curbed her alcoholism. I ended my engagement with her husband's friend so I could date my now ex-husband, causing palpable tension in the group. The last time I saw her was about a week after her son was born, when she stopped by to show him off. He was born three days before their first wedding anniversary.

As the years passed, I'd occasionally see her name in the Matters of Record court section. I saw that she'd gotten a fourth DUI, and that she'd been charged with domestic assault, a story I'd sure like to hear but bet I never will.

About a year ago, I ran into her at the mall. I didn't know that she had a three-year-old daughter. She didn't know that I had a two-year-old daughter. She bragged on and on about her terrific life--her husband's fabulous engineering job, her perfect kids, the house they built, the enhancements she was getting on her already huge engagement ring. I wasn't even wearing my engagement ring, because it was during one of the many brief separations I had with my ex, before we actually got separated. She didn't notice this, and asked how my husband was. I lied and said he was fine.

Over the years, I used to wonder how her husband could deal with her alcoholism and her apparent domestic abuse. After seeing that they are now divorced, I guess I know the answer to that.

So, needless to say, after the impression that her life was perfect just barely a year ago, it did fill me with a sense of delight to see her name in the divorce section, to know that even though she put up a facade, her world was really crumbling around her. Plus, there is always comfort in knowing that other people you know are just as screwed in this world as you are.

We'll Be Through the Worst...

Living in northern Minnesota, it seems like every year after the holiday season, the conversation turns to the weather and how we will survive January and February, typically the worst months, weather-wise. Everyone assures themselves that once we get through January and through mid-February, "We'll be through the worst".

This winter flew by for me, with everything that has been going on. Sometimes, it surprises me when I step outside and it is relatively warm, at least in northern Minnesota terms. One of my friends calls it "hooded sweatshirt weather" when it hits about 25 degrees. Living through the bitter winters, we are shameless when it comes to temperatures that would be perceived as deadly in other parts of the country. The days are slowly getting warm enough that the sun is melting the snow and ice, and there's a steady stream of water that freezes into twinkling icicles on my house. It's light out when I leave work in the late afternoon. Even the air has a distinctly fresh, springy smell to it. It makes you think that you are through the worst of it, and have only bright, happy, springy days to look forward to.

But sometimes, a northern Minnesota spring surprises you, and you discover that you are no way through the worst. The spring that my daughter was born, we had an early March blizzard that dropped nearly 30 inches of snow in 24 hours. It felt as though the wind was blowing straight through my drafty brick house, and I clung tight to my newborn as the lights flickered all around. When the storm passed, it left snowbanks taller than my garage. And not more than a week later, we got hit with another storm that dropped another foot of snow on top of that. The "first day of spring" came and went, and we were still covered in heavy, wet snow. The worst was most certainly not over.

Lately, I've found the same in trying to navigate this whole divorce thing. The past few months have changed me. I know that. I feel better about myself, and feel more positive about my future. I can breathe again. I can be selfish and do single-girl things, like stay out until 3:00 in the morning and sleep until noon, and skip dinner and eat frozen pizza at 11:00. Sometimes, I don't even bother to attempt to clean the house when I am home alone. Why should I? I have more appealing options of things to do when I am at home, and besides, I am not really home all that much. I thought I was through the worst.

Last week, I got a text from my ex-husband that was obviously not meant for me. It was meant for another woman. Even though I have been dating (or attempting to), it irritated me. First off, I have the class and common sense to make sure I send my texts to the right number. Second, it was a casual message, telling her that he stopped at his "midway point for food and gas". I was married to him for eight years, and I didn't get messages like that. He was married to me for so long that he lost that sense of common courtesy, and I'd rarely get a call or a text, no matter where he was or how late he was going to be. That stung, not because it was meant for her, but because it illustrated the total lack of respect that he had for me and our former union.

A couple of nights later, I got a late-night text from him...telling me he was at the bar and sad, because there was a girl there who looked and dressed like me. I rolled over and went back to sleep, not knowing that this was the start of his quest to get me back.

After that text, he became relentless. In a classic quote, he said to me, "Would you rather be with someone that you've known and loved for nine years, or would you rather be alone for the rest of your life?" He knew what he was doing. He knew that indicating that I would be "alone for the rest of my life" would trigger all of my insecurities. But I still stayed strong.

I did, however, make sure I pushed for details on his "date". Turns out he did meet this woman...who did not live up to his expectations at all. They met for their date, and he discovered that she'd "grossly underestimated" her weight on her dating profile. I can only imagine, since I am a size 14. I have the urge to defend her, because one thing I cannot deal with is dissing someone over her weight. But alas, in the protection of my own high self-esteem, I will allow him to be critical of other women, after he spent nine years with the gorgeous me.

As the weekend continued, he carried on with his text messages and his attempts to get into my house (and inevitably, my bed). As he indicated his interest in "working" on our marriage, I was lying in my bed, and suddenly I was gripped with terror. I remember looking at my curtains (for no particular reason; it was just what my eyes landed on), and thinking, "Oh my god...I DO NOT WANT ANYONE SHARING MY HOUSE. I DO NOT WANT A RELATIONSHIP."

It was the first time I've ever felt this. Ever. Never in my life have I envisioned myself happy and complete without "having someone". After going through my divorce--the years of wanting to do it, the complete loss of feelings for him, the technicalities of having him move out, the sense of loss over having my daughter only 50 percent of the time, the finality of the paperwork--I thought the worst was through. Truthfully, I didn't care that I was, by some standards, a failure at marriage. In my superficial way, I still thought that while the worst was through with one marriage, I still needed to find another one. Now, the mere thought of having my freedom jeopardized and having to share my home chilled me to the core.

The weight of having to hurt and disappoint my ex-husband weighs heavily on me. The worst is not over there. I've agreed to a "date" with him on Sunday afternoon, but I made it clear that he won't be coming back to my place, and I expect him to head to his home to spend time with our daughter, since it is one of his custody days. I have told him upfront that I do not feel ready for a relationship with anyone (teensy lie...there is one person who, in my mind, I would like to have a relationship with, especially since I would've married him sight unseen, based on writing and sarcasm ability alone). I told him that I will make him no promises and no guarantees. He still says that he is willing to take this risk for another chance to be with me. I still think that chance won't happen, because I am determined in what I want, and secure with my decision to divorce him.

In movies on and on TV, it always seems glamorous and romantic when an ex comes back and begs for the love of his long-gone partner. In reality, there is nothing glamorous or romantic about it, if you are not interested in this. It just causes a setback in your attempts to be through the worst.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The Only Brush in the Basket

I am blatantly honest, perhaps to a fault. Typically, I say what's on my mind, and even if I am quiet, I am probably thinking blunt, sarcastic thoughts. I remind myself an awful lot of any of the characters in "The Invention of Lying", because I can be that blunt from time to time. And the closer a person is to me, the likelier he or she is to become a victim of these observations of mine. That's why, when I date again, I need to find someone with a similarly dark sense of humor, because I can be a lot to tolerate if you don't get me. Just ask my ex-husband.

Recently, I mentioned to a friend that I hadn't heard from a mutual friend lately. She suggested it was because I gave the friend a lecture on the perils of extramarital affairs. The conversation went a little like this:

Me: I haven't heard from Other Friend lately. I wonder if she's mad at me?
Friend: Maybe she's mad at you from that time you lectured her about sleeping with married men.
Me: That was not a lecture. That was the truth. And I guess some people just can't handle the truth.

While I have no problem sharing "the truth" with friends, I tend to keep quiet around strangers, mostly because I don't like to be seen as socially unacceptable or as an oversharer.

However, today when I was at the nail salon, my tech had no problem with oversharing. Her partner is out of town, or rather visiting family in Vietnam. I guess that's why she decided to open up to me today.

When I am having any kind of salon service done, I typically prefer my technician to just be quiet, and this is especially true when I get my nails done, because it's in the middle of the work day, and sometimes just listening to that file grinding away at what is left of my nail bed can be soothing. Today, my tech was the opposite of quiet. By the end of the appointment, my inner lip was bloody, from me trying not to laugh at the following overshares:

* "Yeah, I got pregnant a month after I got separated from my husband. I don't know how that happened so fast...I guess it was because I was going out to the bars and drinking a lot."
* "My sister married my ex-boyfriend, and he used to try and make out with me. I mean, I never did the nasty with him, because I was still a virgin then."
* "Oh, my kids? Yeah, I don't have custody of any of them, but I can still see them whenever I want."
* "Was your ex-husband whhh...I mean, American?"
* "I lied to my husband about needing to work, and then I met this guy and we were drinking and kissing in the pool room. Then he told me to go out to his truck, and I did, and my ex-husband caught me with him."
* "All I did when I worked there was drink all night long, so I didn't want to do anything except lay on the couch all day. I didn't even want to take care of my kids!"
* "Yeah...that time that I got pregnant, I think I had a that what you call it? I went to the doctor and they told me I was pregnant, and then I started bleeding a lot and I wasn't pregnant anymore."
* "When I was pregnant with my first kid, I caught the dad having sex with some KOREAN in the bathroom. I came into the hallway, and I heard was bang, bang, BANG!"

Sometimes, I wonder why people feel so inclined to overshare with me, because this is not the first time I've been in this type of situation. I can only assume that it's because I seem to be a good listener, which is not entirely untrue, because what I am actually doing is listening so I can make fun of the comments later.

When I got up to wash the acrylic dust off of my nails before getting polished, I couldn't help but notice that I was the first nail brush in the 'used' basket today. The first client of the day, and it was 1:00 in the afternoon. If she overshares with her other clients as much as she does me, I can see why other clients might experience trepidation in visiting.

In other news, I feel really frustrated when I don't get what I want. It is especially frustrating when this involves another person, because then there's really no way to alleviate my frustration over not getting what I want. And since this happens so rarely--this business of not getting what I want--I am completely unaccustomed to these feelings and have no outlet for dealing with them.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Jagged Little Scars

I've had two surgeries in my life: my C-section, to deliver my daughter, and seven weeks after that, my gallbladder removed.

My C-section incision was a work of art. MY OBGYN's specialty is surgery, and it shows. My incision was flawless, perfectly straight, and staple-and-stitch-free. It was simply smoothed together with surgical glue. When I was in the hospital, nurses would ask to examine my incision, and I'd dutifully lift up my gown to show them. Many nurses would oohh and aahh over it, saying how good it looked. I would smile in pride over my OGBYN's handiwork.

The C-section scar healed beautifully. I forget that I have it, because it is so smooth that it just seamlessly blends into my skin. I never think about it.

My gallbladder, on the other hand, was removed laprascopically, and I feel that the surgeon did a hack job. I have four scars, and while they are small, they are jagged and stick up from the skin. They are a different color than the rest of my skin, and even when I tan, they do not. Lately, I have been considering taking those little sunshine stickers they force upon you at the tanning salon and placing them over the scars, just to bring a little sunshine into my life.

I equate my emotional heartbreaks to my scars. Most are like my C-section scars: they heal up smoothly, and you forget that they are even there, that the pain ever even happened. It's a distant, long-resolved memory that requires no further thought.

Others are like my gallbladder scars: noticeable, protruding pains. Jagged edges, as though they were left incomplete, not smoothed down to a vision of not being noticeable. Forever there, no matter what. And every time you look down, ever-present and always noticed.

The majority of the heartbreaks in my life have been the smooth-scar type. Sure, it hurts in the recovery period. But then as time goes on, the pain goes away and you forget that you ever even endured it, much less even notice the mark this left on you.

The jagged scars are the ones that you are forever marked with, the ones that never go away. The ones that you can brush against, and the memory of the pain will be back full-force. These are the ones that are the product of unfinished issues. I think that it's inevitable that anyone we have unfinished issues with will continue to pop up in our thoughts.

The question for me is always, how do you finish these unfinished issues, so you can forget that scar and let it blend in with your past? I don't know the answer to that one, but I wish I did.

I think there are only two people who have scarred me to the point that they still recur in my thoughts, as much as I wish they didn't. With one, I thought I resolved him, because I thought I felt it. In an instant, I sensed his presence, and with that, it felt as though my heart and soul imploded into each other. And then I felt relief. But just like a temporary pain reliever, the effect wore off, and I find myself irritating that scar more and more these days.

So, what's the answer? It's sure not Mederma, or Tylenol, or even time...

Starry Nights

When I bought my house a few years back, I was envisioning how I'd decorate it even before I put in an offer. I even bought fireplace accessories, because they were on clearance and they'd look good in that house. It was then that I decided that I'd put in an offer on the place: if you are already mentally decorating it, why isn't it yours?

The entire house had ivory Berber carpeting, except for the master bedroom. That room had royal blue carpeting, for no real apparent reason. I guess the owner just favored royal blue in the bedroom, or it was the cheapest remnant available when he bought carpeting. Because the carpet was newly-installed and flawless, I could not justify replacing it before we moved in (read: I was too broke). So I decided I'd have to decorate the room to match the carpet.

Sometimes, I get these really wacky ideas that I can be all artsy and talented. I have no talents in the creative arts, apart from writing. In high school art class, the teacher would draw my picture for me, and then I'd just have to color it in. Just like a toddler, I'd be careful to stay within the lines, so I could get an A.

But since this was my first house, I was eager to decorate. I chose a retro black-and-white cherry theme for the bathroom, to match the deep green ceramic tiles. I chose a nautical theme for the living room, and painted it a slate blue to accent my lighthouse collection. For the master bedroom, I chose a Van Gogh 'Starry Night' theme.

It sounded good at the time. I had to paint the white walls to a deep royal blue, and I planned to sponge gold paint on top of that, in swirly starry night shapes, just like the painting itself. And I'd decided that I loved painting; I couldn't wait!

Four coats of royal blue into the project, I decided that painting sucked. I hated painting. All I ever did for two whole weeks was go to work, then drive to the house to paint on yet another coat of royal blue. Finally, the day came when I got to sponge on the gold paint. The first wall didn't look right. At that point, I didn't care. Like a maniac, I kept sponging on the gold paint, because I wanted to get the job done.

The room looked hideous. I added a celestial border near the ceiling, hoping it would deflect from the garish walls, but it only made my room look like it should belong to a teenager. I detested waking up and looking at this room every morning, the bright sunrise deflecting off the gold walls and offending my poor eyes. One of the good things about sleeping in the living room for the last six months of my marriage was that I didn't have to look at that room the moment I opened my eyes each morning.

After I got my husband out of my bedroom and out of my house, I vowed that the first thing I would do was re-decorate that bedroom, before the opportunity to have a boy over presented itself. I couldn't let a boy into my ugly, garish bedroom! Sure, the bed itself is grand and beautiful. But it's surrounded by ugly, garish walls! What would he think? My ugly, garish bedroom would totally overtake his exuberance at seeing me naked!

So far, I haven't managed to get up the ambition to even start this project of re-decoration. First, the bed easily weighs 1,000 pounds, and will have to be disassembled to even get it out of the room. So I am going to have to work on the walls one-by-one, and then promptly freak out when I reach the point behind the bed, as I will have to try to figure out how to paint around it, and I guarantee it won't be pretty, and I doubt it'll be well-thought-out. And the walls are so...garish. It will take endless coats of paint to cover up all that royal blue and gold. for now, I suck it up, since it's not like I'm sucking any boys right now, anyway. It is nowhere near as lovely as the real Van Gogh, nor is it anywhere near as beautiful as a starry northern Minnesota night.

The other night, I got together with some friends, and we decided to meet at J's house, because we are all broke. Too broke to even go to the bar. I am broker than broke right now. Beyond negative balance broke. So this worked fine for me.

J has an outdoor hot tub. I'd never been in an outdoor hot the winter. I protested loudly, until a bottle of wine and two pitchers of Amaretto Coke got me to join them.

Once I was in the steaming water, it was fabulous. It's a crazy experience, because all around you, the world is icy and snowy and freezing, but yet you are right in the middle, all warm and toasty and relaxed, even though your hair is iced to your head. We talked and laughed and talked some more, for hours. It was a great night.

In a lull in the conversation, I leaned my head back to look up at the stars. The sky was incredible: cloudless and bright, with each and every star in that starry sky shining twinkling. I stared for longer than one should, silently praying for a sign. A sign of something--of anything--that would assure me that things are going to be okay, that perhaps a soul mate does really exist out there somewhere in that starry night.

What was I expecting, really? A shooting star? Planetary movement? A meteor shower? A military fly-over? Any or all of these would've sufficed. But none happened.

At the end of the night, we begrudgingly hauled ourselves out of the blissful hot tub and into the single-degree night, but for the rest of that night, until I went to bed, I was happy and warm and downright...blissful and content. For those moments, I didn't care that I was single. In fact, I knew that the night could not have possibly been any better, even if I did have someone. It was the perfect starry night.

I thought I'd sleep like an angel that night because I was so relaxed, but of course, all good things must come to an end. I tossed and turned, and I blamed the dog. Turns out, my friends slept equally as poorly, and we later blamed this on the slight hangover and severe dehydration that comes from spending two hours in a hot tub in the dead of winter.

After a few hours of fitful sleep, I finally did fall asleep and slept until the alarm went off in the morning. When I awoke, I'd been dreaming about a boy, a boy who didn't even like me enough to call after he said he would. Suck. Sometimes, I think it should be mandated by law that if a boy doesn't call, he has to tell you the reason...but would you really want to know? I probably wouldn't. But his unspoken presence in the dream was still an agonizing reminder--or sign--that I'd wanted something I hadn't been able to get. Double suck. I hate that feeling.

But the true disappointment in that whole thing is that it's like that blissful starry night: secretly, deep down, you are hoping to recapture that feeling and that excitement that comes with first finding someone you are interested in romantically. I hope I get to feel that way again soon, but lately, experience has taught me not to count on it. But maybe--just maybe--the next time the boy will actually call, and I'll be counting the stars with him, whoever and where ever he is.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Big Girl in a Big Dress

I have, like, 30 magazine subscriptions. I am not joking. Every day, I get scores of them, sometimes five a day. I bet my mail carrier hates me.

Because I get so many magazines, it's easy to fall behind if I have other things going on, and that's been the case lately. Between taking care of AC and my emotional dramas caused by my divorce, I am woefully behind on my magazines. This is most noticeable with my weeklies, like People.

Last Friday, I had some spare time, because AC was at her Grammy's house and I had nothing else to do. Actually, that's a total lie. I had plenty else to do, but I was choosing not to do it. Sometimes, catching up on magazines is an accomplishment on its own, so I use that as an excuse to ignore housekeeping duties. After all, as my ex pointed out, I am no homemaker, so why change that now?

The issue that I grabbed, from a few weeks back, featured celebs and fashions from the 2010 Golden Globe awards. I was mortified when I saw this picture of Mad Men star Christina Hendricks, in which she was described as a "big girl in a big dress".

My jaw dropped and all I could think was, really, America? Really? This is a "big girl in a big dress"? Wow.

Being single again has caused me to have major body confidence issues. Not that I've ever had body confidence, mind you. Even when I was at my smallest, it was still a struggle, because thin was never thin enough. As I got older, it became harder and harder to maintain that thin, no matter what I did. By the time I married and started my desk job, I let go of that notion altogether. After all, I thought, even if I was "thin", what difference would it make? It wasn't going to significantly change my life in any way.

Now that I feel like I need to attract men, I could not be more self-concious of how I look. I've lost two sizes since I started my divorce, the product of a lack of appetite, which, upon seeing results, ended up as full-on starvation mode. I feel guilty when I eat, as if every bite brings me one step closer to upping a size again. But I still don't feel good or cute or accepting of myself.

I have a friend who has lost a significant amount of weight over the past year. Before she started losing weight, she was about my size. After her weight loss, she gave me a bunch of hand-me-down clothes, because she had shrunk, and they were worthless to her. I tried to stifle the minor sting this caused me, because she was trying to be nice, not point out my weight issues. The weight issue connection is all imaginary to me, because this friend is nothing but nice and gracious. She would never intentionally make me feel like shit about my weight, and I know that I only feel that way because of how I feel about myself inside.

A few weeks ago, we had lunch, and we were reviewing Facebook pictures of various people, including the girl that her ex-husband had an affair with. This girl was several sizes smaller than my friend, before my friend lost weight. As we looked at the pictures, my friend announced that when she divorced, she knew that she had to lose weight, because at the weight she was, she was unmarketable to men.

Unmarketable. To men. Her words stung beyond belief. I have no question that she didn't think when she said that. She was applying the term to how she felt about herself, without thinking that I am the weight she was before her weight loss. I doubt that she even realized that what she said would at all apply to me, and she'd never say something like that to be deliberately hurtful. her standards, this makes me unmarketable.

I could not get those words out of my mind. To even have the word "unmarketable" pop up in my thoughts made me tear up. I scrutinzed myself in the mirror, wondering how I could fix my unmarketable-ness, and quickly. The "turkey waddle" of a lower tummy that I have since pregnancy and my C-section don't help, as weight loss actually makes this more profound. It's somehow like a growth, independent from my actual body, with a mind of its own. It doesn't tan with the rest of my stomach. It burns and it peels. The skin itself has never really regained feeling since my C-section, and is still numb to the touch. I could grab a handful of skin and flab and who knows what else. It's covered in stretch marks. It's very unattractive. It's unmarketable.

I wish I could say that I have the inner confidence to blow this off and feel good about myself, regardless of what society says. I am cute. Right now, I wear the same size as the "average" American woman--and I am three inches taller than "average". I'll probably hit a below-average size, in time, especially if I could manage to utilize the free time that joint custody brings to work out instead of read magazines. But yet...this still is not good enough. No matter how thin I got, it would not be good enough, when we live in a world where even "average" is not good enough and is harshly criticized.

Over the weekend, I got together with a friend from high school, someone I had not seen since the end of our sophomore year, when I moved out of the area. We had a good laugh over all the times that I tried to "guide" her into a proper model walk, making her walk with a book on her head to better her posture. She said to me, "One of the things that I have always liked about you is that you have always had that confidence to go after what you want, even if you don't necessarily know what it is that you want."

I laughed inside, because in my mind, hidden beneath my towering tsumami of a personality, is actually a gurgling cesspool of insecurity. It causes me to never feel good enough, no matter how many sizes I lose or how cute I look or how funny I am.

No matter what, when I look at myself in the mirror, all I can see is "big girl in a big dress" and "unmarketable"...

Thursday, February 4, 2010

The Universal Fix-It: The Band-Aid

My toddler, like all toddlers and all children, loves Band-Aids. She regularly critiques the selection of Band-Aids in our medicine cabinet. Typically, there's a good three or four boxes in rotation, from SpongeBob to Scooby.

Last night, I left the medicine cabinet open while we were brushing our teeth before bed, and she spied a fresh box of Disney Princess Band-Aids. The brush dropped from her hand and she exclaimed, "You bought PRINCESS Band-Aids? I love Princess Band-Aids!"

Naturally, once she found this fresh offering, she was suddenly covered in boo-boos. Most are invisible. Some are described as "huge" or "hurting". All are in need of a Band-Aid.

Last night, she presented a dried scab on her pointer finger, and I dutifully covered it with a Princess Band-Aid. And then her other hand mysteriously developed a boo-boo: the kind that cannot be seen with the naked eye. Nevertheless, a Band-Aid is not worth fighting over and makes her happy, so I applied a Band-Aid and we went to bed.

In the middle of the night, I awoke to AC poking me and screaming about the Band-Aid. It was in her hair. She insisted that I cut it, and in the dark, I fumbled to feel for the Band-Aid in her hair. Sure enough, I felt it twisted in her locks. I told her that it was okay and we would fix it in the morning. She told me it was not okay, and that I needed to cut her hair.

At this point, I was really tired. Not just a little bit tired, but dead exhausted. It was 3:30 in the morning. My three-year-old was demanding a haircut. In bed. At 3:30 in the morning.

In the interest of getting back to sleep quickly, I got the scissors and obliged. I scarcely remember the act, only that I tried to snip it as quickly as possible, avoiding as much collateral damage as possible. Then we both went back to sleep.

When I woke up this morning, the memory came back to me: I cut my three-year-old's hair in the dark at 3:30 in the morning to free her from a stuck-on Band-Aid. Before I even rolled over, I cringed, imagining the result.

Fortunately, there was little damage. In fact, I could hardly tell, though I was very tired this morning and might see a difference when I look at the 3-in-the-morning hairdo tonight. If worse comes to worse and it is noticeable, I will have no choice but to lie and tell people that she cut her own hair, because to admit that you cut your toddler's hair in the middle of the night in the dark is not socially acceptable.

This morning, AC requested another Band-Aid, to cover the gaping empty spot on her hand. I let her select her Band-Aid, and wondered to myself...if it's this easy to placate a child, why isn't there a universal Band-Aid for adults? Is it because most wounds that adults endure are emotional, and a proverbial Band-Aid would never fall off, because those wounds never heal, and everyone would eventually just be a walking Band-Aid?

THAT Kind of Girl

My friend H, who was the most adamant about not getting into a relationship quickly after her divorce, was the first one to find a relationship. Go figure. I guess that's where that old "it happens when you aren't looking for it" adage comes into play.

However, for all the complaints and fears I have over being single, she has an equal amount over being in a relationship. Her ex-husband cheated on her, multiple times. Not just random, at-the-bar kissing, but actual relationships. Not just once. Three different women.

Needless to say, she has some obvious trust issues. Facebook and texting played huge roles in her ex-husband's affairs, and she is very aware of the risks presented by these new communication sources. Hell, she's even used them herself a time or two.

Last week, she had a disagreement with her boyfriend over his acceptance of a Facebook friend request. She didn't tell him to accept, she didn't tell him not to accept. She did, however, point out her concerns over his acceptance of this friend request, based on witnessing this person's behavior and her lack of boundaries--because she was that kind of girl, so to speak. When her boyfriend chose to accept the friend request--under the premise of being nice--H was unhappy, to say the least.

A disagreement ensued between H and her boyfriend, and in response, he deleted 22 of his Facebook friends--the vast majority of the single women. Including me. Which got me to thinking...does he think I am that kind of girl?

That kind of girl is Rielle Hunter, who lured that nasty John Edwards into a lurid affair, knowing that everyone in the world knew that his long-suffering wife of many years had cancer. That kind of girl are Tiger Woods' many mistresses, who knew damn well that they didn't go under the moniker Elin Nordegren. That kind of girl is the forever-infamous Long Island Lolita, Amy Fisher, who as a teenager was seduced into an affair with a married man, and then allegedly assisted in his plot to kill the wife. I am not that kind of girl.

In my defense...there is no way I'd be that kind of girl with him. Ever. Even if he and H broke up, it wouldn't matter, because there's always that unspoken bond of friendship between her and I. In the time that he and H have been together, we've socialized on numerous occasions, and I never realized that I was giving out signals that I am that kind of girl. But maybe I was, if he felt it necessary to delete me.

In my un-defense...I have been guilty of being that kind of girl. Looking at some of my aforementioned posts would spell this out quite clearly. I had a knack. For sexting. Married Men. On Facebook.

H's belief is that your best defense against becoming that kind of girl with someone else's man is to befriend the wife. And I have no doubt that she's right. That's why I never wanted details from my Married Man's personal life. If I had to put a face attached to his wife's name, it would make it too personal. That kind of girl has to keep personal out of it, if only to selfishly spare her own feelings.

But it still brings me back to my concern: am I that kind of girl? I'd like to think not. I'd like to think I am nice and relationship-worthy. But sometimes I wonder. A friend once told me that she saw a news article on teens and sexting, and she automatically thought of me. I was like, what?!? You see something on sexting and automatically think, "J"?!? And it seems that the only men I ever find on online dating sites are the ones interested in sexting. Not dating. Sexting.

I just don't get it...maybe I am that kind of girl, and I just don't know it.

My Soul is Bare...

My daughter's third birthday is four days away. In four days, she will officially be out of her "terrible twos", though I have been told that "terrible threes" is far worse. I can hardly wait.

When I started blogging a year ago, I meant it to be an archive of the funny things that AC has done and said over the past year. And that went well...for about six posts. Then I dumped the blogging thing altogether, until I started my divorce process over the fall. Then, instead of blogging about my terrible two-year-old, I blogged about divorce and break-ups and lost loves and heartbreak and dating. I used swear words and obscenities. I was lectured by some well-meaning friends that one cannot use such words and terms on a "parenting" blog. My ex-husband told me that my blog was the equivilent of "man repellent", and that any man who read it would never want to date me.

So, in light of the fact that my blog is now anything but a parenting blog and my child is anything but a two-year-old, I decided a name change was in order: My Soul is Bare...

Guess where I got the name from? Those of you who already read my blog would probably guess: a Britney Spears' song, 'Me Against the Music'. I've listened to those lyrics a lot, and whenever I hear that particular line, I always think that Britney has the right idea. Maybe to recover from whatever trauma we are facing in life--or life in general--it's just best to spill your guts until your soul is bare.

And, as we all know, I have no problem spilling my guts...