Friday, November 30, 2012

Remorse Redux

After my ex and I bought our house nearly ten years ago, I remember getting a case of 'buyer's remorse;' "What have we done?","Are we ready for this step?", "Can we afford this?" I remember thinking this throughout the relationship, especially when finances were low.

Now, that the library is pretty much finished, except for some artwork and one small repair, I am experiencing it all over again. When I finished the library per my own decorating decision, I realized I am now alone. I am in this house by myself. I am solely responsible for its decor, its repairs and its bills. I can depend on no one. It all hit me like the proverbial ton of bricks square on in my heart. And while on one hand it is quite liberating, on the other hand, it is quite frightening and intimidating.

And then more of it hit me; the anger of being in this position against my will resurfaced, the anger of how he ended the relationship, the anger that I am the one with our two remaining four-legged children watching them age, and being the one responsible for their health and well-being. Other evidently long-repressed anger joined the anger directed at him, anger at the people in my life who have hurt me in the past, willingly or not; my father, for not being around post-divorce as much as I would have liked; my stepfather, for the emotional abuse he hurled at my mother the instability of our family life; The Man I Met; The User; the Politicians who are blaming teachers for ALL the maladies of public education and those public figures who make such idiotic denigrating remarks against the LGBTQ community.

While there is very little I can do about what happened in the past, I can do a lot about how I react in the present, in the moment. I can confront the individuals involved and unburden myself. I can let them know how I feel, but in a positive and constructive, non-threatening way. (Well, I can present the information in a non-threatening way, I can't control how they interpret my delivery.)

But, how much will this help me?

I had conversations with The Ex over my feelings in the past while we were together, and history taught me he didn't know how to react to my feelings. We even spoke after our divorce, and I came away from each conversation feeling relieved I expressed myself, but feeling like he still didn't understand why I was angry with him. I spoke with my father when we first reconnected and he shared he didn't always have our newest address and phone number whenever we moved, and we moved QUITE frequently. And across state lines, three times. My stepfather may have not been aware of his abuse, but I doubt it. The Man I Met explained his case quite clearly; I said I wasn't looking for a relationship. But, that doesn't explain the mixed messages he was sending me, causing me to rethink the idea of a relationship with him. And would the User really care that I am angry that he wanted to use me for his own pleasure? More than likely not. Well, maybe I can let that one go. At least I stopped that one before it got going. As for the Politicians, what can I say? They all seem to have their own agenda anyway. And we do have some allies in Sacramento and Washington, D.C. Those public figures are just plain idiots.

So, I feel I have tried in all cases, but not succeeded to the level of satisfaction I may need. Maybe those are the responses the individuals may be prepared to give and nothing more. So, I'm looking for alternatives to alleviate this anger and frustration.

Perhaps, it just takes time.

So, for seven years, this room was his office. Now that I have painted out the tangerine color and begun to make it into my library, it will take a while to adjust to the difference. I haven't gone in there to read and relax, yet. In time I will. In time, the anger will subside. All of it will.

To paraphrase Christopher Robin,  "I'm braver than I believe, and stronger than I seem, and smarter than I think."

After all, I have survived two years on my own. And I have survived a lot worse before this.

I just need to remember it.

All of it.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thanksgiving 2012

With Thanksgiving approaching, I decided to revisit my post of a year ago to see where I was and where I am now.

I am thankful for all the 'traditional' things; family, great friends, my health, my job, my dog and cat.

I am deeply grateful to Mother Earth for all She has provided, and to the Universe for the gifts given and lessons taught.

I am still thankful for what I said then. I am grateful for the pain of the divorce, the pain of the Man I Met, the disappointment from the User, for all of these have allowed me to grow and see the strength that I actually have.

I am also thankful for the place where I am for I am further along on my path to me. I have a better rate on my mortgage, so finances will improve. I can see the light at the end of the tunnel growing larger. I am thankful for the financial difficulties for I have learned to do with less. And now that I am a little more comfortable, I don't need to buy what I don't need. I have what I need and I need what I have. Except for a guest bed. But that will come later. And maybe once in a while, I can treat myself to something nice.

I am also thankful for, and overwhelmed by, the success of my novel, Out of the Past. And very thankful for those who have read it and reviewed it.

I am thankful for the sore muscles I have for I have taken back the room in my house, MY HOUSE, that my ex used as his office.
He never finished the room.
I always hated these colors, but the theme was 'fire.' He loved  them!

The color is a smoky gray in keeping with the 'fire'  theme.
I did keep his drapes. Ironically they went with the accent colors I chose.

Happy Thanksgiving to you all!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Date Night

I went on a date the other night with a pretty nice guy.


Yes, I am calling it a date, not just going out for something to eat.
My favorite restaurant had opened a second location just ten miles away instead of twenty and I wanted to check it out. While the second one doesn't necessarily have the same ambiance as the original which sits half a block from the ocean, and is quite newer, only four months versus thirty-eight years, it was the food that I was craving. And I wanted to compare it to the original. After all, saving ten miles of wear and tear on my car when I'm craving authentic fish and chips, or bangers and mash with a black and tan to chase it, is worth it. The big drawback is the newer location doesn't have the gift shop/bakery next door. So, I will still have to make the trek into Santa Monica for British goods, though I am sure I could find some things locally, if I looked hard enough. Being so near the ocean, though, is a nice bonus for those treks into Santa Monica.

Back to the date. It was a pleasant evening, I enjoyed the company and just being out of the house was incredibly relaxing. In fact, after dinner, I didn't even want to go home. When I had finished the meal, Irish Beef Stew-the Saturday night special, I ended up driving along Ventura Blvd. and eventually went into a New Age bookstore I knew. Not finding anything of interest, with the need for coffee calling, and perhaps something sweet as well, I headed off to find the nearest Starbucks. As I was out of my neighborhood, I had only a faint idea where one was, and I eventually found my way there. This particular one had a counter, so I sat there for a while, sipping my latte, pondering my next move. It was still early, 7:30 PM or so, and any gay clubs wouldn't be opening or getting going for a while, possibly not even for at least an hour or so. I'm usually ready for bed around that time, especially during the school year. Even though this was a Saturday night, I had no excuse for not staying out late, but fatigue was indeed creeping in. To be honest, fear was too. While I seriously thought of going to a club, there are no nice ones here in this part of  LA. And if I did, what if someone started talking to me? Was I ready for that? I know I can refuse any unwanted offers, but the bad luck I've had with guys lately has only encouraged me to choose to remain single. I'm not ready for my heart to be a doormat, again. I went home.

In time, I may change my mind about staying single. My past lessons have taught me the more I look for something, the less I find it. I recently misplaced my checkbook and I looked everywhere for it; the place where I knew I last used it, the place where I thought I had taken it, the place where I usually keep it, and when I stopped actively looking; voila, it turned up. Ironically, it was in one of the places I had looked several times. Isn't that the way it usually works out? Stop looking and you find it.

I had a great time on my date with me. I enjoyed being out on the town, so much so, I think I'll do it again, and maybe next time I may take in a movie.

Or even go to a club. Maybe.

There are people who couldn't do what I did; go on a date with themselves. I'm not sure why. Perhaps they're embarrassed to be seen alone in a nice restaurant. Perhaps they might think others might think there's something wrong with them because they're alone in a nice restaurant. Perhaps they can't be alone with themselves or with their thoughts. It is strange, I admit. But, with (almost) everyone having a smartphone these days, you can read a book or a newspaper on an app, or get caught up on some game you're playing.  Learning to be alone with yourself is important. It gave me time to look into myself in a setting other than my house, because at home I get distracted by the memories of the past, or the dog and cat need or want attention, food or their meds, and by my future decorating plans. This also gave me an opportunity to relax. And, by treating myself to a night out once in a while is one way I'm learning to love myself again after a couple of difficult years.

After all,

God Save the Queen(s)!

Monday, November 12, 2012


I was raised to treat others as you would have them treat you. It's a Christian thing. Or, at very least a decent thing to do. But, I am beginning to lose respect for people who don't/can't respond to some form of contact within a reasonable amount of time.  I do understand we are all busy with our professional and personal lives, but that is NO excuse for NOT responding to a message, email, text, or voicemail within a reasonable amount of time. Well, maybe there are some excuses; like accident, hospitalization or death, either yours or that of a loved one. So, what is reasonable?

I have sent out a couple of requests to groups who review books and asked them to review mine and have not heard back from them. Nothing. Nada. Zero. Maybe they're trying to find someone who wants to review it for them. They didn't even acknowledge my request. Maybe this is part of the business. I don't know.

I'm also talking about personal messages. I have a group of friends and we get together frequently. Sometimes it can take them a week (or two!) to respond to an invitation, and I know they are busy. We've had this conversation. As I love them dearly, I have come to accept that this quirk comes with this group.

But, what happens when it's someone new?

In the past few months, I've suggested to a couple of different guys I've met online that we actually meet. I am trying to increase my social circle and not necessarily date, at this time. With one of the guys we had decided on a place but not a definite time, and with the other we had settled on a day, but no time or place. Both times, the men have indicated their interest in meeting up with me; "Sounds great!", and "I'd love to!" and one guy even asked me, "When are you available?" Both times, the men have not followed through to my last message. So, they've left me hanging. What's up with that?

The messages have gone through Facebook, which lets me know that they have seen the message, so they can't say they never received it. I even know what time it was when they read it. One of the guys suggested we meet when his schedule freed up a bit. It hasn't freed up in over a month. Really? And he hasn't contacted me suggesting he's still interested in the outing, or not. The other one never confirmed the location or time. He saw my last message the day before we were to meet. As of today, I have not received any explanation, or apology. So, I feel he stood me up. Can you be stood up if it wasn't a date?

I don't understand this way of communicating. In the stone age, before all this new-fangled gadgetry and instant communication, there was always the possibility of messages never being received. Now, with smartphones, I see no reason why messages can't be returned after a reasonable time. But, again what is reasonable? After all, the smartphone has access to email, voicemail, text, and Facebook, all right in your pocket or purse. And there is a calendar built in (usually) to the phone. Many of us work, whether at home with the family, or at a job of some sort. We have breaks, it is the law. Take the phone into the restroom while you're on the john. No one needs to know. I just don't get this lack of common courtesy.

One of my gay friends says this is the way it is. Get used to it and use it, he says, to separate the wheat from the chaff. But, does it have to be this way? Is not returning messages the new rejection?

I'm not innocent in this, I admit. There have been times where I have stopped communicating with people, but that was because I felt uncomfortable, maybe threatened. Maybe I had gotten what I needed from that person and it was time to move on. So, I did. Maybe too abruptly, maybe because I felt there would be no good in expressing my opinion, maybe I felt there was no longer anything in common.

Maybe I'm too sensitive, perhaps I should develop a thicker skin. But, I'm afraid I'd become jaded if I did. Maybe I'm trying too hard to simply make friends and expecting too much. Like civility. Like communication. Like courtesy. But, if this is the way things go in platonic situations, what happens when it's a bit more stepped up, like possibly dating and revealing your vulnerabilities? What then?

It sure makes me want to remain single.

As for what is a reasonable amount of time; I say, a day or two, at the most. What say you?

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Dangerous Times

My house, just before moving in, 2003.
Now that my house is all mine, the loan is finished, the election is over and California voters passed the proposition to raise taxes a little to fund schools which means no more salary cuts (!), I find myself in a dangerous place. I still have my financial windfall and a house that needs my touch. MY touch. Where to begin?

I live alone in a four bedroom house of approximately 1740 square feet. Well, I live alone except for my dog and cat. One bedroom stands empty, except for a dresser, night stand and lamp. I cleared out this room for a potential roommate before applying for the loan modification the first time. I'm not sure where this roommate thing is going, maybe it's not meant to happen, quite yet. In the meantime, it sits empty, unused....yet full of promise.

What to do with this room?
I have always loved the color of the room. It is a turquoise/teal reminiscent of tropical waters. In fact the name of the paint color is 'Cozumel' and 'water' became the theme for this room and the second bathroom, and they became our guest suite. One of the options I'm considering for this room is to buy a bed and have it available for guests, though no one is planning to come visit anytime soon. I got bored last night and went furniture shopping. A salesman had also suggested a sleeper sofa, (hmm, interesting idea) that way I could just go sit up there and read or meditate. (I like that!) On my way home, I thought of a futon. Again, I could go read or meditate, instead of lying on the floor. But, there is a problem....

I am planning on converting his old office into a library. I am thinking of painting it a soothing gray, with some dark blue and  brown accents. Why gray? 'Fire' was the theme for this room and orange was his favorite color and now that the fire's out, all that remains are the ashes. And with gray I stay true to the theme of the bedroom colors being based on one of the elements; my bedroom and bathroom is painted in 'earth' colors; sage and forest greens with cinnamon accents and my office is 'air', the lavender of sunset with accents of the cobalt blue of deep night.

My future library, but in gray
When he moved out, he left his recliner behind. I'd donate it, but it is very comfortable, as is mine. I may move his up to the library as it will fit into the color scheme. Or, I may donate it to a charity and buy a different one, starting over. It's just that it's soooo comfortable. Either way, I will have nothing downstairs in the living room but a tattered old sleeper sofa which is slip-covered, my recliner, a coffee table and plant stand.

Being as I don't know when or even if I will have a roommate, I'm leaning toward making the water room into my meditation room. So, here's what I'm thinking; I want to paint the trim black. Just the trim. Then I want to get a futon and a decent dock for my iPod. That way, I can go in, close the door, and meditate. Hopefully, my dog will go lie down and my cat will not howl for food during that time. If I meet someone who I feel would make a good roommate and he has some furniture, maybe I can move the futon into the library. So, maybe I should donate the recliner (tax deduction!), look for a smaller chair for the library, possibly a wingback and perhaps a footstool of some sort. Just some thoughts.

One other area that needs attention is the garden and the front garden in particular. I have a small bed on one side of the walkway to the front door, as is evident in the top photo. That picture was taken when the house was new. The bed today is dirt with about three plants in it. My idea is to create a bed of California native plants that can tolerate the heat and less water. The problem with the bed is that it faces east, so it gets only morning sun. I guess a visit to a nursery is in order for some plant ideas.

So, here's the dangerous part. I have money. I want this ALL done tomorrow. When we bought this house, we were counseled not to rush into buying everything we needed (wanted) for the house. Did we listen? Sort of. We waited but ultimately grew impatient. The two projects I've mentioned here are small. Yet, they aren't the only ones, the oven doesn't work, the refrigerator is over 10 years old, the kitchen sink is beginning to show it's age as are the toilets, and dishwasher. The powder room also needs a paint job, it is painted peach right now. Ewwww. (It was a compromise.) The tree outside between my house and the neighbors' house needs attention as it interferes with their satellite reception. And I want decent window treatments, as the temporary vertical blinds are becoming permanent. Some artwork that reflects my taste would also be nice.

I also have some personal projects/needs as well; my laptop is beginning to fuss, I'm thinking of joining the 21st century and getting a smartphone. And, I want my own iPad as it's a bit annoying when I'm using my current one (provided by my school) in class and I get notifications while projecting the educational image to the board. (I'm just glad the notifications aren't of a, um, sensitive nature.) Yet, I need to learn to save for these and other upcoming concerns as my property taxes aren't impounded into my loan anymore, and my four-legged children are aging. With my mortgage payment now lower, I can save and learn to control my impulse spending. 

I really don't need all of this done tomorrow. I'm just an impatient person with some money and a house that needs attention.

Maybe that's my lesson in all this....

After all, patience is a virtue.....

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Training Wheels

They say if you learn something and don't use it, you lose it. But, if you begin to use it once more, it's like riding a bicycle. It will come back to you. Maybe.

I studied German in high school and college, until I transferred to a state university that didn't offer it at the level I needed, because in Southern California, there is little call for German. Spanish, yes. And Asian languages come in handy, being we're on the Pacific Rim. So, I didn't use my German frequently enough and ultimately forgot most of it. Therefore, I was both excited and nervous when my ex and I went to Germany in 1998; excited to try and practice a language I hadn't used since 1978 or so, and nervous as I didn't want to make mistakes because I prided myself on being an excellent foreign language student, since I had studied several of them throughout my educational career and they came relatively easy to me. Languages had always fascinated me as a child, and I even studied a few on my own. I have since forgotten most of them as I have not used them, again because of living in SoCal. About the only things I can remember from my year of college Russian is "I love you", "Where is the restaurant?", "Kiss me" and "I'm gay." Some very useful phrases to use in Moscow, to be sure!

Well, we arrived in Germany, and I was very disappointed. Everyone spoke English, Scheiße! Everyone, but the older generation, seemed to refuse to speak to me in German, try as I might. They wanted to practice their English.  But, in those situations where I did get to speak German, it was indeed like riding a bicycle. It came back, ein bißchen. A bit. I wobbled a bit, fumbling for a word I knew that I knew but could not recall at that moment. But, at least I was able to make myself understood, and I could comprehend most of what I heard.

As I look at my life today, a single gay man at mid life, I have realized something which traumatized me. As I begin to think about contemplating the possibility of commencing to start to wonder about when I might be ready to consider dating, it dawned on me, I DON'T KNOW HOW! There, I have said it. I don't know how to date. I have made a few vain attempts to meet men post-divorce, and I have cataloged two of the could-be four attempts here in this blog. Though some may argue that the first attempt I have described here  was not an out-and-out dating situation because we never actually had a real date. (Actually, this was the second man I had met, as I haven't really talked about the first one.) But, to me, after meeting Second Man in person, I ended up hoping it would turn into one. Epic fail. Oh, well. And I'm not even sure what to call this last attempt, being that we possibly might go out sometime, maybe, in the future when his schedule frees up. I asked him over two months ago, and he's still busy. 24/7? I get it. Fail number two, or is it three? Hell, it's number four.

When I last dated, over 26 years ago, we didn't have smartphones (I still don't have one), cell phones didn't even exist in those dark ages. And without smartphones, there weren't any apps. There wasn't even the internet. (I feel like such a dinosaur!) You actually had to physically meet the man in some geographic location; a friend's party, a gay community center, a bar, or a back alley. Now, it seems you can meet someone without leaving home, thanks to all the apps: Grindr, Scruff, Growlr, Jack'd, u2nite, idate, Mister, Hornet, Cybermen, to name just a few. (I no longer have a profile on any of them. And that is just fine with me.)

I have commented before in other posts that the rules of dating seem to have changed with the arrival of this new technology. So, where does one go for a course in learning how to date again in this frightening new technoworld? I feel like this isn't a bike I'm trying to relearn to ride, but a motorcycle. It goes very fast, and if you're not careful, it will take off and leave you in the dust and then fall on you crushing your spirit, and maybe breaking a bone or two.

Perhaps, I should consider the four attempts I've made at dating as training wheels. Perhaps, even the two long term relationships I've had should also be considered training wheels. After all, isn't a relationship about learning about yourself? About how we see ourselves in relation to others? Aren't they a mirror into our inner soul? They are if we see how we are reflected in them. They're training us for either the long term or the next relationship.

As some of the physical difficulties that have affected my life post-divorce are now settling; the mortgage refi is done, the book is out and doing well- though I still need to promote it more, teaching is still difficult due to the nature of this class and politics surrounding education in general, I may be ready to get back on the dating bicycle motorcycle soon.

Once I figure out the new rules.

And once I'm ready to take a chance on falling off and getting bruised. Again.

Which is my next hurdle to cross.