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Archive for April, 2011

perspective shift

As Meesha pointed out once, even if you’re not a materialist person, it can still be hard to walk away from the person who could set you in the six-bedroom house in the suburbs with a nanny, especially when you’ve been exhausted and stressed about money for years. Hello, white knight! Are you planning on rescuing me from chronic over-extension and deferred dreams? Thank you.

At the same time, though–while the thought of it made me feel safe, it did not make me happy.

I’d think, but it’s not my little white cottage with the crazy garden and the walls crammed with bookshelves! It’s not a short walk from my office. It’s not a cozy nest that has everything I need but not too much space to fill with crap that I don’t want and would have to take care of. It’s too much like the too-big house in the suburbs that I last shared with my ex-husband, and fled, because it represented values I don’t have, and made me miserable.

Did I ever tell you about that house? It was big. It was beautiful. Tasteful. It had huge heritage evergreens in the backyard. It had an extra bedroom we never used and a basement that slowly but surely accumulated more toys than PP could ever play with. It screamed Middle Class Accomplishment. I hated it. Even now, four years, one crappy apartment and one nice little rented house later, I don’t miss it. I miss the trees, and the frogs, but not the house. I lived there for eighteen (long) months and still at the end I would sometimes drive right by it, because all the houses on that street looked the same. And yet, there I was in a relationship with someone who promised to put me in another house just like it, only moreso.

I can’t picture the Trader in the cozy little white cottage with the crazy garden.

Can you? I mean, where would he put his 32 backpacks?

It strikes me that what I need to do is find a way to find someone who would love that cozy little white cottage with the crazy garden as much as I would, metaphorically speaking. To this point I’ve focused on ruling out jerks and then trying to find a way to make a relationship work with the unjerks that I dated. It’s better than not ruling out the jerks, to be sure. It’s progress. But it’s not Happily Ever After.

In other words, I’ve put too much emphasis on red flags and not enough on green lights. Too much on what I don’t want and not enough on what I DO, believing apparently that if I can just find someone who’s not a jerk the rest of it will work itself out somehow. Not so much.

A person who could be happy living in a little white cottage (or its equivalent) would have to be pretty laid-back. There wouldn’t be the space for frenzied energetic expressions or shenanigans. They couldn’t possibly be materialist as there wouldn’t be enough space to store a lot of stuff. They would have to at least support my environmental values, or it would undoubtedly irritate them that I can’t stomach a commute to work. They would have to be financially stable and able to pay their way, or in my mind it gets all twisted up and I feel like I’m spending the child support on a guy instead of PP, and I’d hate that. PP’s quality of life cannot deteriorate as the result of my relationships.

They need to be kind, generous not only with their money and time but with their emotions. Not overly cynical or critical of others’ motives or actions. Able to speak and listen, remember, and follow through. They need to be high on agreeableness and conscientiousness–so I should be looking for someone who is fairly neat and tidy, shows up on time, that sort of thing. Agreeableness–apparently people high on agreeableness tend to believe that other people tell the truth and can be trusted. So to find someone who can be trusted, I want to find someone who is generally trusting.

It would be nice to find someone who is open-minded, who likes art and books and abstract ideas and can punctuate properly and is towards the liberal side of the political spectrum. It’s not a dealbreaker, but it would make daily life more peaceful. Someone who’s not a ball of negative emotion all the time, radiating fear and stress and anxiety in all directions, would also be more peaceful. But kindness, respect, consistency, reliability, environmentalism and a lack of materialism are musts. And pro-feminism. An egalitarian relationship is very important to me, and this doesn’t just encompass housework and chores but also the managerial work women so often do for relationships and the household (who remembers the names of the kids’ best friends’ parents, the date of parent-teacher night, when to mail the mother-in-law’s birthday present and who cousin Shirley invited to her wedding? The wife, that’s who–and that’s work, too). This is an easier conversation to have with someone who has at least bought into the idea of gender imbalance to begin with.

Now I’m feeling utterly selfish. Just so you know. It’s not relevant, but it’s true.

But I need to be with someone who can support my writing aspirations, too, enough to help me carve time out during the week to write and pitch. This would be mutual. I’d support their ambitions too. But the Ex never supported my writing, and the boyfriends since who said they wanted me to write had no trouble eating up every second of my spare time so that I never could.

And then taller than me, at least basically outdoorsy and able to keep up while I hike and bike. They need to have a relationship history, and that history needs to demonstrate a basic capacity for commitment and being together. Low on drama and betrayal, and with at least one major relationship. Able to talk about that relationship history with some insight and perspective.

Date #4 with Hike in about an hour, so I’ve got that long to figure out where he stands on what I know and what I don’t know yet.

This project management thing has completely colonized my synapses. Maybe I should write out a spreadsheet with action items, follow-up questions and a status column.

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1. Is there any way to interpret “I am proud of my european heritage” and/or “It’s a miracle any white babies get born these days” that isn’t creepy/borderline racist?

2. Is it a bad sign when you google “burnout symptoms” at work?

3. A guy who calls every day after a couple of weeks of dating and before you’ve had the Relationship Talk: cute, or over the top?

4. Guy with a great profile but who is 53 and lives an hour away: absurd to even consider it, or worth a coffee date?

5. Is two months of working full-time and doing the Single Mom thing with only fourteen days where PP’s been at the Ex’s (standard in two months is 21 or 22) just after breaking up with someone a valid excuse for a mental health day?

Because my brain feels like it’s been pounded out to a quarter-inch thickness with a meat tenderizer.

Hence my ability to ask questions, but not discuss or answer them.

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New insulin pump! Hurrah!

It has a remote control in the blood sugar meter! Double hurrah!

Dressed up for easter in a dress, hid the pump in my bra after carefully disabling the alarms. How nice to have it safely stashed away where I won’t have to fiddle with it or worry about it falling out of my skirt onto my shoes….

…until it started buzzing at the easter dinner table.

One or two little wrinkles left to work out before I try this at the office.

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another tip

When replying to girls on LL, be very careful about clicking the correct button. Otherwise, you might be sending all of your observations on the “bedroom qualities” of that girl from the intimate section you’re chatting up to the girl on the relationship side you’ve been asking for a date … in which case, she’s likely to say no.

Especially if you can’t spell.

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1. Time Trade

Maeve: I’ve offered you a trade of 7 hours for 20. I think this is best for PP and accommodates our positions as well. I’ve tried and I can’t understand your points about driving, quality time and my strict insistence on time-for-time. However, this needs to be addressed soon so my office can make plans that either do or don’t include PP. My original offer stands. Please inform me if you will accept or decline within the next two days.

Ex: Well, I didn’t know that when you said it was a trade, that you meant it was a trade. That changes everything. Also the misunderstanding is all your fault because your email was too long for me to correctly identify the repeated use of the word “trade.” I accept.

Maeve: Thank you.

~~~~~

2. Work

Hi Maeve. We know you’ve had way too much to do for the last ten months so we’re going to hire another PM who will eventually take over some of your projects. In the meantime, here’s two more!

(I’m now managing twelve. The other existing PM is managing four.)

~~~~~

3. Housework

The cleaners came for the first time yesterday. I went home, and the common areas were all so clean. It was wonderful. And I didn’t have to do it!

I’d love to say I did something high-minded and elevating with the time I saved, but I didn’t. I surfed the web, talked to Frances, and reread a relationship self-help book.

4. Dating

Why is it I can never manage the guilt of dating more than one person at a time?

Why should there even be any guilt?

Date with Marvin didn’t happen, but that’s because of a headache and exhaustion, not guilt. No dates this weekend–PP is with me for Easter. Next weekend, I know Hike wants to see me, and I also have an offer from a guy in the City who as of yet does not have a nickname. (Haven’t heard from Marvin since Sunday. Somewhat disappointed but not crushed. He does live a long ways away and maybe it would be best to let it drop?) Other offers piling up–my dance card is full. More than full.

I think what I need is a Green Flags list. Something that not only reminds me of what to avoid, but what to actively look for and expect.

Mostly it’s a logistical thing, I think. I need a night to myself every week, which leaves only one night for dating, which I can only divide so many ways. Hike would very obviously like to have all of my free time for himself, which is sweet and flattering, but I can’t help but feel that I’m just not ready to be right back in a relationship yet. I’d need to know him a bit better.

Anyway, the logistical thing: I can go on maximum two dates per week. But I shouldn’t plan on doing that every weekend or I’ll never get any rest time. The idea of dating is not to burn myself out in an effort to accommodate as many guys as possible.

It’s the accommodation thing. I feel like I should be saying yes unless there’s an obvious reason to say no but at the same time I should be saying no because Hike would like me to, though he hasn’t said so explicitly. It’s nuts.

Before you say anything, I know that the point is to do what will make me happy, not what will make other people who in many cases I haven’t even met yet happy, but it’s a hard habit to break and it feels uncomfortable.

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Hike came by this afternoon with flowers. It was very sweet. It also reminded me of the early days with the Trader, when he brought me flowers spontaneously after PP was in bed one night. Back when everything was nice and innocent and full of promise and the Trader seemed so shy.*

Thought 1: How sweet! How thoughtful of him to bring me flowers!

Thought 2: I was right. He really likes me.

Thought 3: Of course, I thought this meant the guy was really nice the last time this happened too, and it didn’t turn out so well.

I have clearly become a complete cynic.

Hike is–at least, as of now, when I’ve known him for what, two weeks?–one of the nicest people I’ve ever met. It’s very easy spending time with him and talking about just about anything. Our politics aren’t identical, but are very similar. He’s full of compliments. And nice compliments, too–not the easy ones, though he does tell me that he thinks I’m pretty, but the other ones, like saying that he thinks I’m thoughtful and can be trusted.

Funny thing to think I almost wrote him off because he didn’t ask me any questions about myself on email.

Technically I am still single and therefore still open to dating other people and so technically I’m still responding to messages etc. But I am having a lot of fun with Hike.

~~~~~

* It’s true. There was a time when the Trader was shy. It wasn’t an act, per se, more like he was so scared of screwing up it tempered his normal personality, which is the polar opposite of shy. The first time the Trader kissed me he shook, like a leaf. Also, I can’t figure out if me comparing Hike and the Trader is a good thing.

You know what? This strikes me now, in retrospect, as quintessentially the Trader: fear drove his actions and reactions then, and all the way through. He just stopped being so scared of me.

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by the way

If you are, say, a man on a dating site who is looking to distinguish yourself from the competition in a positive way, I highly recommend that you choose for yourself a handle other than “stud.”

Otherwise you might find yourself roundly mocked on the internet.

$0.02.

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