October 15, 2019

Holidays and the Gift-Giving Language of Love

In my family, gift-giving as an expression of love has always been a hit-and-miss affair.

The Princess Mom was always at the center of it.

One year she took my high school-aged brother shopping for a new winter coat for his big Christmas gift.  He found one he really LOVED.  And she found one she thought was more practical.  They both walked away with expectations that the right one had been found and would be under the Christmas tree.  On that Christmas morning, my brother put a large, wrapped box on the side and waited with happy anticipation until it was the last one to open... only to find that it was the practical coat.  He closed the box, shoved it towards our mother, and flatly said, "This isn't the one I wanted.  Take it back."

I was stunned.  Stunned because he actually said that.  Stunned because she didn't get that she had set him up to be so disappointed.  Stunned because she was so hurt by his dismissal of a gift that was so important to her.

Later in life, birthdays were an occasion where she would ask what you wanted for your birthday dinner/cake, and make exactly that.  For my brother, it was always meatloaf, corn, mashed potatoes, and whatever cake he wanted that year.  For my baby sister, always whatever she asked for.  For me?  The dinner menu changed, but fresh raspberry pie with homemade pie crust instead of cake was a constant.  Until... the year she discovered a recipe that included clouds of meringue and a ton of sugar topped with a few raspberries was carried proudly to the table and set in front of me.

I hate meringue with an unholy passion.

Let's just say I have one of those faces that should never sit down at a poker table.

And it didn't go well.

I was made to feel like I was an ungrateful child who didn't deserve

December 3, 2018

Birth Motherhood and Other Adventures

Twelve years ago, my life got turned on its head.

I was behind at work and trying to finish up a bunch of stuff so that I could meet the Princess Mom for a Caribbean cruise over the Christmas holidays the next day.  Only I can turn simple tasks into a comedy of errors.  My daughter, the child I had given up for adoption when I was barely 21 and had never seen for fear I'd be searching baby carriages for years looking for her sweet face, had reached out to me.  It was after 10 p.m. on a Saturday night, I was alone at the office, and I had to get on a plane at 6:30 a.m. the next morning.

Any reasonable person would have said, "It's been 26 years.  I can wait ten days.  I'll deal with this when I get back." 

But at that moment, there was nothing about me that felt reasonable. 

And there was NO FUCKING WAY that I could wait another moment.  Thank Sweet Baby Jeebus, the Sunny Ridge Lady was up and on top of her email game.  As it turned out, that letter had been sitting in my file for SIX MONTHS before anyone made any effort to track me down.  Excuse my potty mouth, but FML.  Seriously.

Anyway, I couldn't reach the Princess Mom, because she had already left home and was staying in a hotel in Fort Lauderdale in order to meet the ship the next day.  I had no idea of which hotel, because she hadn't given me that information.  So... I printed off a copy of her letter and color copies of pictures of my beautiful girl on her wedding day, and stuffed them into my suitcase before I got on the plane. 

I reached the ship and checked in before the Princess Mom did, so I dug out the letter and the photos and I left them on the Princess Mom's pillow.  And then I waited, and waited, and waited for her to arrive.

Let's just say we had a tearful hour or two.  And a lot of hugs.  (And one brief (see what I did there) moment of insanity.)

As it turned out, being on a ship in the middle of the Caribbean was the right place to be, because they had an internet cafe.  Daily emails gave us both  the time and distance necessary to slowly share stories and information

I got back shortly before Christmas, and made arrangements to meet my beautiful girl.  We met at a local coffee shop, just the two of us.  We both showed up with flowers in hand and hearts in throats.  It was unmistakable that we shared genes.  Speechless, we hugged and tears flowed for what seemed like hours, but was in reality at least a good ten minutes.  And we talked for hours.

What started as her search for family health information transformed into an unshakable, unbreakable connection, and my best Christmas ever.

Years of fears and doubt were erased in seconds.

That was the beginning of a whole new set of adventures, for which I will be forever thankful.

(And click those links above to get the whole story, would you?)

November 24, 2018


... when you least expect it, you fall into a meaningful, emotional, spiritual conversation with a complete stranger.

And so it was today when I stopped for a second glass of wine, when I should have gotten on the train at 2:30, and instead fell into a completely meaningful conversation on the 3:30 train home.

I met a lovely senior lady, ended up showing her how to use the clock, alarm, and timer on her iPhone, and ended up talking about our families and how wonderful this Thanksgiving experience was for both of us.

I talked about my daughter, my grandsons, my son-in-law, and my daughter's parents, and how grateful I am to be a part of their lives.

She talked about her sons and her grandchildren, and how different they all are, and about how she connects differently with each of them.

Because our conversation was easy and non-judgmental, I talked about being a birth mother, and how lucky I am that the child I gave up for adoption and her parents have surrounded me so completely with love.  How crazy I am about my grandson, because,  not despite, the differences in their personalities.  And that, to this day, how I still find it difficult to insert myself into their lives because of my own insecurities, and how much I appreciate that I am accepted, included, allowed to love each and every one of them so fiercely, and that I am loved fiercely in return, especially by my daughter's parents.  How I never expected to be this lucky, and how I will never, ever, ever take it for granted.

She then revealed that she was adopted.  And that she will never know her real story, because her adopted mother lied to her all her life.  She only found out that she was adopted when she went to apply for a passport, and had to go to her brother (born to the parents who'd adopted her) for a copy of her birth certificate.  How her mother had favored her brother, but her grandparents had favored her.  How she'd never understood that until she'd gotten that copy of her birth certificate.

She told me that she'd recently gone through Ancestry.com to search for family health information to pass on to her sons, but hadn't clicked the link that would allow her to find genetic family links. 

I assured her, as a birth mother, that making sure she was placed with a family that would love and cared for her was an incredible act of love.

I told her that the information gathered by Ancestry.com is made stronger every day by the shear number of people adding to it all the time.  How my daughter recently connected with her birth father, and found out that she has siblings -- some who have embraced her, and some that may or may not connect.

I encouraged her to go to her local library and have them show her how to add the Ancestry app to her iPhone, and assured her that the data gets stronger every day.  Assured her that she can choose whether or not to share her data with others.  And encouraged her to reach out to the "yes" that might be out there.

Before I reached my stop, Petronlla ("Pet") and I embraced, shared a few tears, and became a part of the family that is not linked by our genetics, but truly limned by our stories and our connections, however brief.

November 20, 2018

Salad Bars and Swimming Pools

I've started and restarted this post because, while the date was a complete shit show for me, Mr. Nice Guy really is a nice guy and doesn't deserve me poking fun at him.  He's just not the Mr. Nice Guy for me.

I could do a stand-up comedy routine about it, except that it also kind of makes me sad.

There are two kinds of age differences -- one is chronological years; the other is the age between the ears. 

To be clear, I don't have a problem with age differences in chronological years.  My ex-husband was 11 years older than me.  I have dated older than me, and I have dated younger than me.  Always because there was some kind of connection.

But that age-between-the-ears-thing?  That's a big thing for me when the last big concert you went to and rave about is Jim Nabors singing Don Ho covers.  And you drive an expensive car that you have detailed to perfection, but when you finally smile and actually show your teeth... or lack thereof... it's the thing that I can't tear my eyes away from in horrified fascination.  (My grandfather was a dentist.  Teeth are important.  Self-care is important.)  While you're waggling your eyebrows suggestively at me and suggesting we go away for the weekend to a nearby dinner theatre... because they have a (*gasp*) swimming pool.  When you take me to a restaurant that's a bad throw-back to the seventies... because they have a salad bar.

Those were the highlights.  I'm leaving out the lowlights.

All I really wanted to do was run away.  There was simply no connection.

Of course, he's called and left me two messages.  I'm not looking forward to listening to them, because I'm pretty sure he thinks there's a weekend away in our future.  And I have to let him down gently.

And the Universe continues to laugh at me.

November 16, 2018

It's Not You; It's Me

There are some conversations I'm just not looking forward to with a new date, and as I've wrestled with waffling between ambivalence, anticipation, and lowering expectations, it occurred to me that I have an itsy bitsy health issue that might pop up and prove awkward on a date.

You see, thanks to really robust genetics from the Princess Mom's side of the family, I have a dandy cases of acid reflux that has caused a little dealio called Schatzi Ring.  I know it sounds like a German coffee cake, but it's not nearly as pleasant.  This is my second round, and I know I need to go back and see my gastroenterologist, but... it's not a fun process to get it (temporarily) fixed.  And I certainly can't arrange to get it done between now and my date on Sunday.

Also called Steakhouse Syndrome, it just means that sometimes my esophagus decides that it's just not having whatever it is that I just ate... and it shuts the hell down.  Tight.  And then there's a moment of rebellion when the blob of whatever-the-hell-it-is-that-I-just-ate decides to line dance up and down my esophagus.  Sometimes, if the Gods are smiling on me, I can relax enough that the pesky bugger decides to open wide enough to let WTHIITIJA slide on down.  But most times... I turn into Mount Vesuvius just about to spew. 

I have no prior warnings that I should have just ordered soup or mashed potatoes and gravy.  Nope.  Schatzki is a fickle bitch with a vicious sense of humor.

So when to have the conversation?  Before or after I back away from the table and run/walk to the ladies room before Vesuvius blows?

And is there a polite way of saying, "Excuse me sir, but I have to puke... right now"?  (All helpful suggestions welcomed)

Mr. Nice Guy from my local is enough older than me that Sunday's dinner will be in the afternoon.  We're driving about 20 miles to what I'm guessing, based on his demographics and prior conversations, is a steakhouse.  With an early bird menu.  (The horror!)

With my luck, to add insult to injury, it will happen, and probably with this playing on the piped in Muzak:

My life in reality?

November 14, 2018

Blowing Off The Cobwebs

I'm blowing the cobwebs off this long-dead blog... and my almost 16-year old non-dating status.

Shocked?  You may be, but nobody is more than I am.

I have a long, long history of bad choices, broken relationships, ghosts of relationships past, and Calamity Jane-like misadventures in the wild and wacky world of dating (scroll down past my cutie boots grandson (but slowly; that was a lovely day)).  I have know my own dating style for a very long time.  And it didn't work.

After the Buckaroo Bonsai debacle (What?  You didn't click the links above?), I finally recognized that my partner-picker was broken.

So... I moved on.

Got a new place.

Loved my job and the people I worked with until I just loved the people and hated the job. 

Embraced old friends and made new friends.

Quit dying my hair so I could see what was under all that Miss Clairol.  Enjoyed the salt (mostly) and pepper.

Traveled with friends.

Went to blogmeets.

Found out my daughter, given up at birth, had left a letter for me in her adoption file.  Met my daughter for the first time.

Lost my mother.

Tried Match.com and Chemistry.com because the Princess Mom had urged me to at least try it, and I did because I felt guilty I had let her down.  Hated the responses I got, and ditched it.

 Became a Nana, twice over.

Retired.  Got comfortable in my own skin and single status.

Lost weight over time.

Dyed my hair crazy colors just because I could.

Have for years told everyone who asked that I was done actively pursuing a relationship, but might, just might consider one if I tripped over it.  Mostly I figured that it would never happen.

And then...

I almost tripped over one recently, when with less than 24 hours beforehand I snagged a ticket to the Cubs/Brewers game offered up by an actor friend.  I met him and two of his industry buddies at Wrigley Field.  And we sat, me, Kevin, Voice Actor, and Stage/Screen Actor.  Just before the 7th Inning Stretch, Kevin got up to use the gent's room.  Voice Actor scooted down and started chatting with me.  We talked a little about baseball, family, books.  He was kind of cute, but a clearly a bit younger than me.  Honestly, I thought he was just trying to be nice.  And then Kevin came back, and Voice Actor didn't relinquish Kevin's seat.  Hmmmm, thought I.  That's strange.  And then the Cubs got their behinds handed to them, and it was time to go.

Exiting Wrigley field is a process, and sometimes you just stand in your row and wait.  As I was faced out towards the exit aisle, I felt warm hands on my shoulders giving a gentle massage... and I leaned back into it for a moment.  Nice.  And then the aisle was clear, and it was time to go and enter the mob.  On the main level, I was enveloped by the swarm and was losing sight of the guys, when a Voice Actor reached behind to grab my hand and make sure that I stayed with our group.  Warm hand, I thought.  Nice guy, I thought.

And before we all went our separate ways, Voice Actor made sure to give me his card and tell me he'd like to hear from me.  And, clueless me, I thought he wanted to be friends.

So... the next day I dug out his card and sent him an email saying that I had really enjoyed meeting and talking with him.  A couple of hours later, he asked when we could talk on the phone, and included his phone number.  Completely bumfuzzled, I sent him back an email and included my phone number.

And he actually called.  Holy shit.  And he was interested.  In. Me.

But Mother Nature had interfered and dropped the miserable creeping crud that's going around on my head, my sinuses, my chest, and my body.  Dying sounded good at that moment.

Shit, shit, shit, shit, SHIT.

So, I truthfully (and in a gravelly voice two octaves lower than normal) told him that I was smack in the middle of the flu, and had an upcoming (and epic) blogmeet coming up, and that I would contact him when I got back to schedule a time to get together.  Rookie mistake.

A week later, finally, mostly, over the terrible bug, I spent twelve hours in either direction driving in my girlfriend's pick up truck to and from Tennessee for a blogmeet, embracing old friends and new.  When I got back, it took a week for my backside to go from numb to oh-my-gawd-I-think-I'm-dying, to back to normal, and for my sleep cycle to normalize.

In the meantime (yes, this is long, but what did you expect after so many years of not spinning a good yarn on a blog?), my good friend Cheryl from my cat show days who I hadn't seen for a long time, invite me into Chicago to spend a day exploring Eataly.  As I was on the train, I got a text from another dear friend, telling me that she, too, was in the city for a meeting, and when could we get together?  I arranged to meet Erin for dinner later in the day.

In between meeting Cheryl and catching up with Erin, I stopped by my old after work stomping grounds to have a glass of wine or two and relax.  My Kindle charge was low, and my phone charge was lower, so I dug out a charger and plugged in behind the bar.  I had a brief, but wonderful, conversation with one of the servers who I have known for yonks, and who shared the news that she and her lovely husband are expecting.  Hugs were exchanged.  Good wishes.  I also shared hugs with bartenders I haven't seen in a while.

And then I went face-deep into my latest book on Kindle... and paid no attention to what was going on around me.  Until there was a guy standing next to me saying, "My friend and I would like to buy you a drink.  Please come down and sit with us."

I probably didn't handle this as graciously as I could, but... 1) book; 2) he didn't introduce himself; 3) he didn't say why they were interested; 4) I was f*cking plugged in and reading; 5) if you are interested, YOU move to talk to me, don't expect me to move for you.  (Yes, I had a princess moment.)

So I looked up, smiled, and said, "Thank you, but no.  I'm really enjoying my book."  And then I face-planted back into my book.

But, oddly, this brought Voice Actor to mind.  How sweet he'd been.  Such a gentleman.

(Can't believe I'm telling this whole story, but bear with me.)

So, later that night, I related the previous two stories to Erin.  And she whapped me upside the head and asked me what I was waiting for.

The next day, I realized that I'd dicked around long enough with Voice Actor's interest and scrolled through Facebook's upcoming Events page and found a live music so at one of my locals that looked good.  So I sent Voice Actor an invitation and commented that fancy-schmancy beer and music looked like fun, did he want to join me?

Well, blow me down and call me Dorothy Gale, he said yes.  And it was supposed to happen tomorrow.

Meanwhile, at another one of my local's, a nice guy(older, widowed) that I'd chatted with asked me if I'd like to go to dinner some time.  I took it as another it-won't-happen moment, and shared phone digits.  And then promptly forgot about it.

On Sunday, Voice Actor IM'd me that he had met another person, and that, to be fair, he needed to bow out of our date, because he needed to give his new relationship a fair shake before going out with anyone else.  Call me a hopeless romantic, but, disappointed as I was, I really did wish him well, offer up friendship, and let it go.

I figured that was the Universe's way of letting me know that singledom and dating are probably my best option.

And that is when the Universe stepped in and whacked me upside the head with it's left shoe.

Today, a Mr. Nice Guy from my local called.  I held up my phone in horror and just let it wring.

I let a couple of hours go by, and wrestled with the message the Universe is sending me.

Apparently, I may have a broken partner-picker, but the Universe has other ideas for me.

So I called him back, an we're going out for dinner on Sunday.

I'm dipping a toe back in the dating world.

(But I'm wearing a burkini, mask, goggles, and swim fins for a quick get-away.