One Good Month

In early May, I drove to Maine,  alone, for a much needed weekend of hiking in the mountains. My Favorite Niece, ever perceptive and generous, was largely responsible for making this happen. When I had a last minute car issue, she called upon our friend, Sugar Pumpkin, to help me sort it out, then off I went. I promised to repay them both somehow, but all they asked for was a blog post. So this is for them. A little late, and I owe them something funny eventually, but I had to get this out of my system first. 

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More often than not, May is not my month. The unexpected loss of my father 16 years ago left its mark. And every May since, with the background reset (cue the lilacs) I brace for the worst. In doing so, I subconsciously create chaos, or consciously cut my losses. Or, in a really bad May, I do both.

Last May, was one of those really bad ones. I moved suddenly, lost a friendship, and abruptly ended a relationship with a man I was madly in love with.

The chaos didn’t end there. In the months that followed, there were more changes, both positive and negative.  In July, I lost my job, and it was awful. In August, I reunited with the man I was still madly in love with, and it was bliss. In September, I went back to work. In October, I moved again. Then, in November, with hardly a warning, the relationship ended for good, with an “I can’t do this” email, from him.

It could have been worse. Each drama, on its own, was “no disaster“, as Elizabeth Bishop put it in “One Art”, her poem about loss.But the frequent upheaval and disappointments were exhausting. It was like 6 months of May.

The external chaos finally ended in December. I was glad for the arrival of winter, and the way it demands less of us here in New England. Bewildered and dizzy from the year, I took stock. What remained of my life was exactly what I needed to recover: a place of my own, with a claw foot tub; a low stress job in a blessedly quiet office; and an abundance of free time and autonomy. But I also had more sadness and anger than I knew what to do with.

I wish I could tell you that I spent the winter drinking tea, reading Brene Brown and journaling, but it didn’t happen that way. Managing the dips of sadness, the peaks of anger – and the numbness in between – preoccupied me. In these first couple of months, my attempts at self-care were halfhearted, and short lived. I was angry at myself – enough so that I did not believe my wounds deserved attendance, or, that my bad decisions, forgiveness.

At the very least, I understood the healing power of time. In those first months of winter, waiting was the best I could do. So I welcomed snow storms, watched Netflix, and took long baths in my claw foot tub while reading entire issues of Vanity Fair. On weekends, I drove to nearby towns where no one knew me, and walked, or read books in local coffee shops. I ate ice cream, and drank bourbon. Neither tasted like love, but they came close.

After a couple months, when I felt ready to unpack it all, I called my old therapist and got to work. With her help, and with the love of my truest friends, I began to snap out of it. I watched my appetite for things other than ice cream and bourbon come back – like being outside. In April, I woke up one Saturday, drove three hours north, hiked a mountain, then got in my car and drove right back. I was sore for days, but it felt like a start.

It was nearly mid-May when I drove to Maine. I took me until then to remember the May-curse. I was five hours into a drive that was supposed to take four, and frustrated. There had been traffic, then dense fog followed by heavy rain. At hour five, Google Maps estimated another twenty-five minutes to my hotel.

But it didn’t factor in the frogs. The last twenty mile stretch of road happened to be through a marshy, wild area that is prime frog habitat. When it rains, and especially in the spring, frogs often leap onto roads looking for warmth, or food, or sex. I had forgotten about the phenomenon, despite witnessing it on prior trips north.

The road I was on was alive with frogs. There were so many. But there wasn’t anything I could do to avoid hitting them. I was on a two lane road in an area called – I kid you not – the “Unorganized Territory of South Oxford”. It was pitch black. There was no alternate route, nowhere to pull over, no friendly country cafe to pause in. And besides, the rain wasn’t ending anytime soon. There was no sense in stopping.

So I drove and squished a thousand frogs. I cringed constantly, and kept reflexively yelling “Sorry!” to them. I whispered “what the fuck?”, over and over again. I wondered what it all meant, the traffic, the fog, the rain – and now frogs? Was this another “fuck you” from the universe? Was this the start of another cursed May?

It took me 45 minutes to drive the remaining 20 miles.

The next morning, with coffee in hand and hiking shoes on, I drove on dry roads to a trail head, and thought about the frogs. I felt for them. I mean, I went looking for warmth and food and sex (well, love) last year, and I too got crushed. But I stopped this line of thought when I remembered my new policy against self-pity, and my old policy against anthropomorphism.

And did every last thing need to be a reminder of him?

Or of my shitty year? 

On my first hike of the day, I admitted that it was simply a mix of decisions and timing that brought me to that road. Not to mention other factors beyond my control, like weather – or the civil engineering that went into cutting a road through a marshy forest.

Kermit
Another MS Paint masterpiece by Favorite Niece.

While hiking, I also realized that the factors that had me murdering frogs the night before were the same factors that brought me to the wild, beautiful, breathtaking waterfall I’d just reached. The difficult drive wasn’t symbolic of anything other than the fact that life is sometimes chaos, and sometimes calm. We might think we’re in control, but we just barely are. Things can fall apart in a heartbeat, and we can wreck them in one too. My year was one long lesson in that.

When May ended, I realized that I managed to not fuck anything up, consciously or subconsciously. One bad drive aside, it was a good month, though I can’t explain why. Maybe the spell is finally broken. Maybe therapy works. Maybe going away helped. Maybe I’d finally mastered “the art of losing”. Time will help me figure it out. Right now though, I’d rather move forward, and not worry too much about being squished again.

More Frogs, Less Pain,

xo-L

 

 

One Good Month

10 Signs You Need to Snap Out of Your Post Breakup Slump

1. You happily spend a Saturday night creating an excel spreadsheet of your birding life list.

2. You find a moth in your apartment. You name him “Charlie”. You talk at length with him about your day.

3. You are crushed when you find Charlie’s dead body in a houseplant a week later.

Charlie
RIP Charlie                                                      MS Paint original artwork by L.R.

4. You yell “Yay! Bedtime!” every night because sleep is a break from being angry and/or sad. Until # 5 happens.

5. You have a dream that you are carving an ex-boyfriend’s head as though it were a Thanksgiving turkey.

6. After months of trial and error, you’ve figured out which of the 5 spatulas you own is the perfect spatula for scratching your back.

7. Your new favorite iPhone game is called “Neko Atsume”, which means “cat collecting” in Japanese.

8. Your find yourself halfheartedly sexting with a guy from New Delhi, while vacuuming.

9. You are so totally on board with the mindfulness coloring book fad.

10. You are on two dating websites, but almost never log on to them for fear it will lead to a date.

More Food, Less Pain,

xo-L

10 Signs You Need to Snap Out of Your Post Breakup Slump

6.5 Months (or so) Later

Well, actually it’s closer to ten months since I’ve posted here.Fifi-Roberto-open-season-2-25058326-640-480

I was reminded of this fact last week, while dining with Favorite Niece and her friend Sugar Pumpkin. Not only had I not written in 10 months, they said, but the blog link wasn’t even working. (I forgot to pay up for the domain name.)

Apparently, Sugar Pumpkin wanted to re-read my last post, Six Point Five (6.5), about online dating, which she recently signed up for. If I were her dating coach (and thank goodness I’m not), I would seriously discourage her from reading that post. Unless she was trying to make herself feel better about her own experiences. But I have to keep my 2 loyal readers happy, so I promised to renew my domain name, and that I’d make an effort at a new blog post.

I didn’t write for all those months because I lacked time, and lacked material.  I was busy with a new job, and things on the dating front were going well for a change, which does not make for good copy. That’s not to say there weren’t some blog-worthy, moments (dating 2 Christophers for 2 months, for instance, both inadvertently invited to my birthday dinner, etc.) but it hardly seemed worth a post.

And then, in March, I fell in love with one of the C’s, and could not bring myself to write about it. You have to have some mad writing skills to make falling in love sound inspiring and beautiful, and not gag-inducing drivel. I was certain I would achieve only drivel, so I didn’t even try.

And the difficult parts of falling in love again seemed too self-indulgent and first-world-problemy to describe. And the fact that Cufflinks (his nickname, to help my friends differentiate the two C’s) is a very private person didn’t help either.

But here I am, 10 months after the Six Point Five post. Cufflinks and I lasted a few months, and it was as wonderful and as complicated as it gets when two 40-something people try to open their hearts again. We adored each other, and laughed our faces off drinking scotch and playing darts in his loft. I had moments of perfect happiness when he cooked for me. He genuinely wanted to take good care of me, and he did.

We tried to make it work, but I fell apart a few times. There were schedules to work around, and fears to navigate, and concerns about the future, and blah, blah, blah, you know, all that boring stuff. I ended things before they could evolve into something better and stronger. I think was trying to end it before my worst (albeit totally unpredictable) fears could be realized. It was a hasty decision made in an emotional moment, one that did too much damage to fix.

But then this has been The Year of the Phenomenally Bad Decision (TYOTPBD). I’ve made a few big ones, in every area of my life, (home, job and love). The changes were big life changes, and the pressures were enormous. I don’t like the person I became in the living situation I left in haste in May, or what the pressure of the job (that ended yesterday) did to me. I don’t want to hurt anyone the way I hurt Cufflinks, ever again. All these things ended on the worst of terms.

But I guess I am like Fifi, the selfish and volatile poodle from Open Season 2, voiced by Crispin Glover.  Fifi gets his due in the end, and Roberto, the otherwise dimwitted basset hound says “I gotta admit, he kinda had that coming.” It’s tough to feel sorry for myself right now. I got myself into this hole. I kinda had it coming. Time to crawl out.

But even though I had that coming, I’m still heartbroken about it all. But I am also resolute, and uncharacteristically optimistic (if you catch me pre-2nd glass of chardonnay, that is). I mean, I HAVE AUGUST OFF. And, just to be safe, as a cautionary measure, last night, I made my 3 closest girlfriends promise to help me avoid making any more PBDs (phenomenally bad decisions) for at least a few months, so I can get back on my goddamn feet again.

And maybe I’ll even write more with all this free time. Perhaps for Sugar Pumpkin, I’ll even force myself to date again, strictly for blog inspiration, and under the very close supervision of my girlfriends, of course.

More Food, Less Pain,

-L

 

6.5 Months (or so) Later

Six Point Five (6.5)

A couple of weeks ago, I received a message from a guy on an online dating site. It was just a number, 6.5, and nothing else. Not even a hello. I didn’t get what it meant, so I looked at his profile for a clue.

 
I love that he put the ten (10) in parentheses, as though writing a lease or legal document.
 
It was then that I understood. He was rating me.
 
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I started online dating last December. I’d been single for almost four (4) years, but had only been on a few dates. My friends were starting to worry about me. I guess the pleasure they once found in my awkwardness around men was turning to panic. They urged me to try dating online as a way to get out of my comfort zone. I protested, and explained, probably in whining tones, that I like my comfort zone, and that it smells like cookies, and that no one ever wants to see me naked there. They rolled their eyes at this, and helped sign me up for Tinder. In the ten (10) months that followed, I also tried OkCupid, Match.com, and Plenty of Fish.

It was terrifying at first. It felt so inorganic. I had never been much a dater. Instead, I met men through mutual friends. We’d end up at the same event or outing a few times, interest would be shown, and then a date would happen. It’s just how I always did it. I was never comfortable getting hit on in bars, and never gave out my number to a guy unless we had a friend in common. Despite all this, I never lacked for dates, or boyfriends.


But the last time I was single and dating was over a decade ago. I was in my late twenties (20’s), and cuter. My badly broken heart wasn’t holding me back. There seemed to be more single men to choose from. It was less complicated back then, and much easier to meet people.


Online dating was also daunting to me because I have always been shy and awkward around total strangers. I’m incapable of small talk. Not to mention I have no idea how to flirt, and, in turn, have no idea when someone is flirting with me. So having dinner with someone I’ve never met, where there is an expectation of something romantic? I’d rather smash a tooth out of my mouth on a parked car.


At first, simply getting a message from a “match” was enough to make my palms sweat. The first time a guy asked for a date? I ignored him for three (3) days. Trying to return a message would leave me twisting in my chair, squealing and giggling, and asking my girlfriends to help me come up with witty responses. This, I’m sure, was a great source of entertainment (and relief) for them.


After a couple (2-ish) months I got the hang of it. I came up with my own witty responses. I even got brave enough to call men out when they were lame, or weird or inappropriate. Sometimes that was a boatload of fun (Darin, for example), other times it was just plain depressing. I learned that the normal rules of etiquette do not apply in the virtual dating world – for instance, it is standard operating procedure for messages to be ignored. I didn’t get this at first, but now I do. It is the gentlest, and easiest way possible to show that you are not interested.

Once I mastered some good practices, I got more comfortable. By nature, I am curious and open-minded, and it turned out that these traits helped keep me motivated and willing to engage. But these traits worked to my disadvantage as well, leading me to message much longer with people I knew would never be a match. But I was too fascinated sometimes to stop, and excited about my new found confidence with this format.


And by God, my eyes were opened to things I’d never known about before! I didn’t realize how naive I was. Kinks, and fetishes, and open marriages, oh my! Did you know there are men who get off on having their small penises made fun of? I didn’t either, but spent a couple weeks chatting with one. Once he assured me I wasn’t playing into some fucked up psychological defect on his part, I played along. I got quite proficient in making small dick jokes, to his great pleasure. I never met him in person. I never intended to, even though, fetish aside, he was a sweet, self-aware and sex-positive person. It was fun, but just a tiny bit too much for me. Pun not intended.


And speaking of sex-positive, I wasn’t even aware this was a social movement until someone used the term in a message. I’d like to think it’s because I never needed to put a name to my personal evolution from a repressed Catholic girl to a sexually healthy forty (40) year old woman. But as open minded as I think I am, I’m embarrassed to admit that I thought that people had fetishes because they were damaged in some way. I learned otherwise, after asking a lot of questions of the men who were willing to share their experiences. They were eager to explain to a listener who wasn’t judging, and I’m guessing that’s because they’ve been misunderstood and shamed all too often. 


I’m less judgmental of the open-marriage thing also. I don’t have much to report on it, other than I don’t recommend dating a guy who is married if you are single. It’s tough on the ego, even if the sex is good and they are respectful and cautious about not forging any emotional connection with you. Do yourself a favor and save that experience for when you are both in open marriages. I will say that I understand the model now a little better, and you can judge as much you want, but it’s more common and not as weird as you might think. I’m not saying it’s superior to traditional, monogamous marriages. In fact, I’m willing to bet it works just as well, so, um, you know.


I did actually date a few unmarried men without fetishes. But it didn’t pan out so well with them either. One of them gave me a three (3) month long, real life demonstration of what approach-avoidance behavior looks like. Approach (text a lot), Avoid (don’t text for a week). Repeat. I let the cycle happen a few times, but stopped it when it started to hurt too much, and because I was fairly certain he gave me an STD. When a good friend pointed out that his name rhymes with “STD Nightmare”, I laughed so hard through tears that I wanted to kiss her on the lips. But I waited until all the tests came back negative before doing so.


Another guy showed me that men, as well as women, can be Class Five (5) Clingers. He seemed sweet and passionate, and really into me, which felt great. But he wanted to fix things around the house after like, two dates. Then, when we were in bed one night he asked me to kiss him like it was our wedding night. I’ll give you a moment to let that sink in. Don’t bother trying to figure it out, because it is like a fucked up Zen Koan that will “exhaust the analytic intellect and the egoistic will”, and it doesn’t matter anyhow, because he ended up being mean to me. I was stunned by his cruelty, but it barely penetrated. I’d never been on the receiving end of anything that harsh. I’d only ever been with kind, level headed, good men. This particular experience was, at the very least, a reminder of my good fortune in this area of my life.

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My response. I know. Not my proudest moment. 

I don’t know why 6.5/Douchelord guy got to me so much, but I shut down the two (2) active dating accounts I had, and washed my hands of the whole thing. I guess I was already weary. I’d known for a while that trying to date this way wasn’t for me. For every decent man that sent a simple, sweet “Hello Louise”, there were thirty (30) other men writing things like “6.5” or “Did we meet on FetLife?” or “I like girls with a few extra pounds!” 

I’m just not made of the kind of stuff that can brush this constant stream of beastliness off. And I don’t want to be. The unkindness happens in the real world too, I know, but online, it happens constantly. And I just don’t need to be tested that much. I’ll keep my thin skin, thank you. 

There is good news though. Much to my relief I had a lovely, proper date with one of those good men recently. It restored some hope, even if it didn’t turn into anything. And I did learn a lot about myself these past ten (10) months. I gained some much needed confidence back. I learned that I have a sturdy backbone, and a healthy sense of self worth. Most importantly, I realized that I am ready to let someone into my heart again. Which I now see was the point my girlfriends were trying to get me to. And I love them dearly for this. 

More Food, Less Pain, 

xo-L

 
Six Point Five (6.5)

Face-planting in May

Dearest Bre, 

I fell and broke a tooth a couple nights ago. A front tooth. Ok, not one of the two front and center ones, but one next to those. My right lateral incisor. Broke off the bottom half. I was walking while looking at my phone, like a dummy. It was dark, and I was exhausted and a little slow from a couple glasses of wine. 

It happened so suddenly that I had no time to react or brace, and so my face was the first thing to hit the front of the parked car in my path. My hand hit the car next, too late to save me, but bloodied from the effort. I slowly stood up, stunned, but with enough sense left to assess the situation. I knew I was okay, but I also knew that something cracked when I made impact. Then I felt a piece of tooth on my tongue, and in disgust and horror, spit it out with force. I’d like to think I looked like a bad-ass boxer in the middle of a fight. But I doubt I did.

I feel sick as I write that. It was awful actually, but it could have been so much worse. It could have been my two front teeth. Or I could have broken my nose, or suffered a brain injury. And the break didn’t expose any nerve, so there was no tooth pain. My hand and my neck are sore, but there’s no awful bruising or cuts on my face. My lips are swollen, but it’s barely noticeable. They just look plump. Maybe even sexy.

Despite knowing I was lucky, I was painfully embarrassed by the gap in my smile, and physically irritated by the sharp edges of what remained of the tooth. My dentist got me in quickly, and by noon I had a new tooth. It doesn’t look the same, and will take some getting used to, but I was so grateful for modern dentistry yesterday that I thanked the staff there about 6,000 times.
What kills me about the whole thing is that it’s May. And crazy shit like this seems to happen for me this time of year. I’ve probably talked with you about it before – how my therapist said that there is some muscle memory/brain trickery that goes on when we approach the anniversary of a traumatic event. It’s not that we’re necessarily sad about it,  or reflecting much on the event, but our bodies and brains remember. Things get stirred up. We subconsciously brace for the worst. It’s called the “Anniversary Reaction”, and is fairly common I guess.
That was the year you and I met. Remember what a mess I was? Ah, memories.

My favorite flower – and always a reminder of my dad

My dad died on May 31st fourteen years ago. He was 69, and it was supposed to be a routine surgery. And now every May or early June something in my life goes severely pear shaped. It was four years ago, in the first few days of June, that R & I parted ways after seven years together. In the last week of that May, we fought with a terrible intensity, and split in the first days of June. I don’t know why we didn’t break up in April instead, or July. 

And then last year, in late May, I learned he was getting married. I cried for 24 hours, much to the bewilderment everyone close to me, including myself. It’s as if the pain was reconstituted somehow when combined with all the other things May stirs up. A week later I got the worst food poisoning I’ve ever had – which put me out of work for a week, and in the ER one night. Also, I had TWO full blown periods in June. TWO. ACTUAL. PERIODS.

I thought I was getting a pass this year. But May has been crazy from the start. There’s the move to the new place, which is positive, but exhausting. There’s been some tough, sad family stuff, also with positive outcomes, but trying nonetheless. I’m attempting to date via the app Tinder, which is probably the worst idea I’ve ever had. The one decent, sweet, real person I’ve met happens to be in a healthy open marriage. Sigh. A lot of guys are just plain gross and immediately want to talk about their penises. And then there’s the guy who wants pictures of me having sex with other men. I AM NOT EVEN KIDDING BRE. 

Fuck May. Fuck it. 

And now the tooth. Which caused me some major anxiety yesterday – not because I was worried about it specifically. It just felt like my life became chaos the moment my face smashed into the car. 

I barely slept the night it happened. I kept thinking of all the things I did “wrong” that lead up to that moment: not enough sleep, no dinner, 2 glasses of wine, looking at my phone while walking. And those thoughts snowballed into a full blown attack about me not having my shit together. I mean, if I had my fucking shit together I would have eaten dinner, I wouldn’t have stayed up so late the night before talking to some Tinder guy. I would have put my phone in my purse and mindfully walked. I’d have all my teeth now, and could maybe even meet a decent, available man. I’d be more financially stable. Prettier. Ten pounds lighter. Smarter. More in control.

You know, totally logical stuff.

Some nurturing last night helped. I took a walk to the water with those sweet dogs I now live with, did some weeding, ate a healthy dinner, and enjoyed a quiet night in with a welcome interruption by girlfriends bearing ice cream. The solid night of sleep I got made all those awful thoughts I was having go away. 

And today I see things more clearly. Falling on my face? It doesn’t really matter how that came to be. It happened. Accidents happen. Life happens. As do breakups, and Dads dying before they ought to. We try so hard to control, prevent, or deny the inevitable. So much of the struggle with pain is in our resistance to it. Then there’s more pain in the “second arrow”  (a Buddhist teaching) of blame we shoot at ourselves after already being shot with one. It doesn’t help to control. And it doesn’t help to blame. The wound needs attention, nothing else. So if a faceplant in May was what I needed for a reminder of this, then so be it. 

I’ll take time now to tend to the wound losing my father left. I’ll reflect today and tomorrow. No resisting. And I’ll remind myself that all the fucked up pear shaped things that happened in the Mays since have brought me friends like you. 

Sorry for all the F-bombs. I can’t wait to see you again when you return! 

xo-L 

Face-planting in May

Most Wonderful Time?

My bluebird of happiness ornament

As hard as I try, I can never entirely avoid a good cry or two during the holiday season. I call it the “Christmas Cry”, and I had a couple good ones this year. December stirs up a lot of emotion for me, and I know I’m not crazy for, or alone in this in the slightest. I don’t like the pressure to be anything other than what I am, or to feel anything other than what I feel. And I’m terrible at pretending otherwise.

Christmas is this huge deal to a lot of people, and it’s built up for weeks-and-weeks-and-oh-the-shopping-and-the-gifts-and-the-parties-and-the-cookies-and-the-blah-and-the-blah. It’s a little too much for this low-key introvert. Every time I hear that carol that starts with “It’s the most wonderful time of the year…”  all I can think is “Geeze, the pressure…”.

I’m no Grinch though. I adore the real tree I have – the one I get every year from The Maher Garden Center. Each ornament has meaning, and I love unpacking them and hanging them. I love the lights around Newport, strung all over trees and boats and storefronts. I love the food, and the wine, and the time shared with friends and family. I love making cocoa and watching “Elf” and, please don’t judge, “Love Actually” (though that triggered an early Christmas Cry this year.) I even like some of the music. 
In the past few days, I decided to put aside a few hours alone for myself on this Christmas day. When people asked me what I was doing today, I didn’t expect the looks of pity I received when I mentioned the plan for some solitude. I guess that sounded sad to some people. But the truth is I really just needed a long walk, and a nap, and to rest after a busy couple of weeks. I suppose I shouldn’t have been surprised by the looks, since this holiday is engineered for moms and dads with kids. But me? I’m childless (by choice), and single (by fate) at  forty. And while I’m comfortable with my life, I’ll admit that it’s tough not to feel a little sting about it, now and then, and especially at Christmas.
But I’m not the slightest bit lonely or sad today, save for missing my dad a little. I spent Christmas eve and part of this morning with the family I was born in to – 5 brothers and 2 sisters, my mom, some nephews (lost count, 5?), one awesome niece, and a few in-laws. They are all strong, unique, smart and, well, totally annoying people. But they crack me up endlessly, and I am so grateful for them.
And then I have the family I chose – friends, who know my every quirk and flaw, every strength and weakness – who’ve held me in their arms and hearts through very tough times, and who keep me laughing every day. I’ll be spending time with some of them tonight, and some of them tomorrow night, which means that the only Christmas Cry-ing I’ll be doing is laughing until I cry. 
I am obviously counting my blessings here. And that is a holiday tradition I am totally fine with.

Peace and love to you all. 

Oh, also: more food, less pain,
xoxo -L
Most Wonderful Time?

Local Woman Survives Dangerous Self-Pity Spiral

This is my first blog post in 4 months. A few people, especially Favorite Niece, have been asking for a post. Favorite Niece even offered up some fodder from her own life. For instance, she fainted this summer while eating a sandwich. She was completely sober, hydrated and well rested. The doctors never figured out why. The sandwich had bacon on it. There’s a post in there for sure, and I should have just handed the blog over to her for a while.

Depressed cat.

I didn’t write because I lost my sense of humor this summer around the two things I blog about most: food and love. Food poisoning and getting dumped, within the span of one month, will do that to a person.

I lost half of June to the food poisoning. It landed me in the ER, and caused me to miss a week of work. It left me weak, and actually quite anemic. It took me a month to feel strong and normal again, which was just in time for getting dumped mid-July. Luckily, my iron levels were approaching “normal” range by then, which the FDA recommends for single women my age who are at risk of experiencing a surprise break up. In truth, I was neither surprised by or opposed to the end of the relationship. But I was disappointed that it came in the form of a monologue, instead of a discussion. There was no Q&A session offered. The “unilateral” approach he took (his word, not mine) left me stunned, and deeply hurt.

In short, my funny bone broke. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t find one interesting or humorous thing to say about being a recently dumped, slightly lonely, never-married, plumpy 40 year old who doesn’t even have a college degree.

And that’s a level of self pity I prefer to spare you from. In fact, it is reserved strictly for my closest girlfriends, who allow it, though only briefly. We have an understanding about this, and have a routine in place for such occasions: Go ahead. Rant.Cry.Get it out. But don’t forget your punchline. It’s a nod to this scene, in When Harry Met Sally:

Mine is the college degree bit. Another girlfriend prefers to end her speeches with “And I’m a renter!” Ridiculous? Yes. But it’s a clever trick that breaks the spell. Without fail, the mandatory punchline sends us into giggle fits. It reminds us to laugh at ourselves. And laughter, of course, brings relief.

Despite the shaky start, I made a point to enjoy the rest of the summer. I took every Friday off in August to hit the beach, and the resulting tan was the best one I’ve had in years. And because it is unconscionable to let a summer in Newport go by without a Del’s on the beach, or a Tallulah’s taco at the The Shack, or a sunset drink on roof of the Vanderbilt, or a drunken kiss on the street with a stunning Brazilian man, I made sure to do all of these things, most more than once. (Okay, maybe that last one isn’t requisite, but come on?)

I’ve always loved the months of September and October the most here in RI. But I probably welcomed the new season with more enthusiasm than usual this year. I wasn’t sad to see that summer go. One day in September, life just felt easier again. It’s been mostly drama free since, and I know not than to take this for granted. We had an amazing Indian Summer, and I made sure to enjoy every warm, peaceful, sunny day I was given.

And now we’ve had our first snow, and next month brings us into winter, and I say bring it on! Sure, winters here can be rough. And, yes, I’m still a never-married, plumpy 40 year old without a college degree. But I’m no longer sad, or lonely. And my doctor says my iron levels are pretty good. I even feel a little inspired to write again. But if I can’t think of anything soon we should totally take Favorite Niece out for a BLT, cross our fingers, and hope she faints.*

More Food. Less Pain.
xo-L

*My treat if she does!

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Local Woman Survives Dangerous Self-Pity Spiral