Six Point Five (6.5)

Recently, 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.

****

I started online dating last December. I’d been single for almost four 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 and OkCupid.

It was terrifying at first. It felt so inorganic. But the last time I was single and dating was over a decade ago. I was in my late twenties, 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 is not my best look.

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 days. Trying to return a message would leave me twisting in my chair, and asking my girlfriends to help me come up with witty responses. This was a great source of entertainment (and relief) for them.

After a couple 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.

082e7-darin2b2Sometimes that was a boatload of fun (Darin, for example), other times it was horrible. 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.

I quickly realized just 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. I got quite proficient in making small dick jokes, though we also talked about real things. He was sweet, self-aware, and sex-positive, but I was too scared to meet him in person.

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 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. 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 judge away, but it’s more common and not as weird as you might think. I’m not saying it’s superior to traditional, monogamous marriages. But I don’t think it’s worse.

I did manage to 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 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 had enough on the third go-round. Also, I was fairly certain he gave me an STD. When a good friend pointed out that his name rhymed with “STD Nightmare”, I laughed so hard 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 Clingers. He seemed sweet and passionate, and really into me, which felt great. But he wanted to fix things around the house after 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. I don’t know what it means, but it doesn’t matter, because he ended up being mean to me. I was stunned by his cruelty, but it barely penetrated. 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.

****

 

e0fe8-6-5

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 online dating accounts, and washed my hands of the whole thing. Being rated, even by an anonymous douchelord, put me over the edge. I’d known for a while that trying to date this way wasn’t for me.

I know this brand of cruelty happens in the real world too, – 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. I did have a lovely, proper, normal date recently. It restored some hope, even if it didn’t turn into anything.

And I did learn a lot about myself these past ten 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

Scraping the Bottom

Do you see the dust & grossness?
Last night, at 10:30pm, I ate candy that I found on the bottom of my purse. Haribo Raspberry candies. They were not individually wrapped. They were covered in purse dust. And they were DELICIOUS.

My excuse? I was dumped 10 days ago.

My friends don’t want me to say “dumped”. They keep pointing out that I wasn’t in love with him. They remind me that I’d been talking since May about possibly ending it, and that he only got to it sooner than I did. But I’m going with the “dumped” story for now. Because it allows me to say things like this:

 “Fuck it, I’m gonna eat this unwrapped, dusty candy at the bottom of my purse.”

Truth be told, what I actually wanted to say last night was this:

“Fuck it, I’m going to the bar ALONE to drink a Scotch. Then I’m going to smoke a cigarette. Then I’m going to text men that are bad for me.”

But I didn’t say or do any of the latter. Instead I dined out with a couple of girlfriends, and went home where I drank a very small, very diluted Old Fashioned. Then I ate the purse-candy, drank a glass of water, counted my blessings, and went to bed.

So if you think about it, eating candy from the bottom of my purse is actually PROGRESS.

Redemption, indeed!

I mean, check out these low points, and I think you’ll agree:

Day 1: Cleaned my apartment. Ever sob while Swiffering? I did.
Days 2, 3 & 4: Very few calories consumed. Very little sleep. Walked 15 miles in 3 days.
Day 5: Croissant. Giant prosciutto sandwich. Chocolate cake. Cheese and bread for dinner. A whole bottle of Rose.
Day 6: Completed a marathon of Prosecco drinking in just under 6 hours.
Day 7: Omelette. Pizza. Beer. Gyro. Loukoumades. Sleep.

On that 7th night, I slept for 10 hours.

After that, things got better.

Yes, there has been pathos, and gyros, and pain. And purse-candy. But there has also been the relief and the excitement that comes with a fresh start. I’ve had more time for walks and meals with my girlfriends, who are thoughtful, and fair, and loving with their support. I’ve had more time alone too, which, as an introvert, isn’t an unwelcome thing.

And now it’s summer, and I’m single and if you’ve read my blog before you know how awful I am at dating. Which is good news for you, since I’m sure I’ll write about it, and you’ll get to laugh at the horrors. Sigh. At least the eating is always good.

More Food, Less Pain,
xo-L

Pie Theory

I was really wishing for something like this to happen to me last week:

I guess I was feeling a little lonely. And stuck. And discouraged by my enfeebling fear of dating.

I longed for simpler times, when my biggest fears (sharks & flying) were common ones, and fodder for so much laughter.

A whole decade ago, on a trip to the Caribbean,  Weather Girl & Mrs. G  got to witness my reaction to both phobias. Mrs. G, do you remember how I heard nothing when you told me you lost your license, (or was it your passport)? I couldn’t hear you because the PLANE WAS TAKING OFF AND WE WERE ALL ABOUT TO DIE AND I HAD NOT DISCOVERED XANAX YET AND IT WAS TOO EARLY TO GET DRUNK.

And Weather Girl, do you recall how I couldn’t bring myself to snorkel? We both know I lied about the mask not fitting because I was certain THERE WERE FLESH-CRAVING SHARKS IN THAT WATER AND SURELY THIS IS HOW I WILL DIE. Nothing was getting me in deeper than my ankles.

10 years later, and the fear of sharks has left me (see this post). And for flying there is the best thing since the cure for polio, Xanax. But what is there for my fear of dating? Sedation and drunkenness are ill advised, I’ve heard.* Avoidance seems to be working well, but my Inner Therapist knows better, and is seeing to it that I stay aware of this issue.**

For now I’ll just stay ankle deep, but take baby steps toward feeling comfortable enough for more dates. Though I secretly hope old age and 17 cats come first. (Hmmph. Inner Therapist just said “Not funny, Louise.” So humorless.)

Like Xanax, but better.

Truth be told, I’m not a complete basket case. I did let a guy bring me some fresh, local peaches last week. All I did was mention that I like them. And he brought them to me. Which was very sweet, and not nearly as horrifying as I thought it might be.

The taste of those peaches made me forget my fears for a moment. I made rustic little pies with them last Friday, which were shared with my closest friends, and eaten without forks over the pans they were baked on.

The longing for a guy to pitch woo outside my window had nearly disappeared by then. Any traces of it were erased by that moment, no doubt. Which only proves that I have the best friends in the world. And supports my long held theory that pie heals.

More Food, Less Pain,
xo-L

*And maybe experienced.

**And is charging me $110.00 for every 50 minutes I avoid it.

Never Again

Weather Girl knows the password on my iPhone. The combination of me choosing an obvious one, and the fact that the numbers part of her brain is over-sized, allowed her to figure it out in three tries. (She tried her birthday digits first…but then this is a girl who, if she could get the legislation passed, would make her birthday a national holiday.)

While I wasn’t looking earlier, she decided to do me a favor and, inspired by my most recent blog post, changed the contact name of a certain someone on my phone. When that someone called tonight, it came up like this:

efce9-neveragain

When I grabbed the phone to see who was calling me tonight, the Garnacha we were drinking nearly came out my nostrils.

I have to give her props. She is the primary recipient of all my dating stories, poor girl. The tears, the frustrations, the disgusting stories of late night make out sessions with strangers…she is the first one to hear it all. After 11 years of friendship, she knows me so well that she is almost always right about what I should do in certain situations. Lucky for me, she tolerates a lot. But when the stakes get too high for me with someone, she steers me in the right direction with the fewest of words.

My favorite bit of (t-shirt worthy) advice to date?

“Short walk to get laid. Long walk to the therapist.”

And she knows the password to my phone. Best. Friend. Ever.

More Food, Less Pain,

XO-L

NO!!

I brunched with a fellow single girlfriend this past Sunday. Over mimosas, we traded dating stories, most of which were giggle inducing tales of horror. It’s difficult to convey just how bizarre, and fun, and ridiculous it can be dating in your late 30’s/early 40’s. But she understands all too well, and we laughed for a solid hour at each other’s adventures.


Those of you who are in this very position understand. At this point in our lives, we care less about the outcome of a date than we did when we were in our twenties. We enjoy dating and flirting more, because we have a level of confidence now that can’t be shaken. We can brush off rejection with a refreshing ease. (Ok, so it may occasionally take a few tears and glasses of Cabernet before we can move on, but our recovery is quicker!) It’s clear to us that our dating woes are not real problems, and that there are bigger issues in our lives and in the world to attend to. And so we keep those “woes” in their box, and only wind them up and let them pop out for amusement purposes. Like when we’re drinking mimosas with a girlfriend who understands.


The biggest benefit of course is that we don’t waste a lot of time and energy on anyone that is not right for us.


On Sunday, my friend reminded me about her strategy for avoiding a certain guy’s phone call. She exchanged numbers with him late one night, knowing full and well that she would NEVER take his call. She had never met him, but he seemed harmless and fun, and so she danced with him. It wasn’t until they started talking that she realized just how weird he was. She admits she was tipsy and feeling too on-the-spot to just say “no” to his request to trade numbers. So instead of saying “no”, she saved his number like this:

GENIUS! 

She is the best, and I’m totally buying her mimosas this Sunday. 


More Food, Less Pain, 
x-L

An Interview With Myself About My Egg Intolerance

Days Gone By
Is it true, Louise, that you’ve developed an intolerance to eggs?

Yes, Louise, it’s true. I think  it’s because I ate too many of them last year.

There is actually no scientific evidence to back that theory up. Do you often make up your own theories? I’ve heard that you also make up your own disorders and illnesses. Is that true?

Who told you that? I bet it was Weather Girl. She thinks I invented “land sickness”, because I had a terrible bout of it after a ridiculous cruise we went on. But guess what? It’s a real thing! I may be hypochondriacal at times, but I don’t make up disorders. For some reason my body just chooses the strangest ones.

Can you give another example?

Have you ever heard of ovarian torsion? I didn’t think so. Do you want another example?

Ew. No. Gross. Let’s move on. How has the egg intolerance affected your life?

Physically, not at all. I just don’t eat them anymore. Mercifully,(because I can’t imagine life without cake), I can have small amounts with little consequence. Emotionally though, I’m crushed. Eggs for breakfast has to be one of my favorite things in life. No one knows the pain I feel when they ask me to brunch, or offer me quiche.

Are you crying?

Maybe.

If you really have an egg intolerance then why did I see you buying eggs almost every week at a local growers’ market this summer?

Duh, because the guy selling them was the hottest farmer-intern in the history of farmer-interns. What was I supposed to do?

Um, ask him out? Did you?

No

Wait, did you even talk with him?

Once.

How did that go?

Not good. I said it was a “perfect day for a market”.

Wow. Are you always that smooth?

You shouldn’t make fun of people with my disorder. Flirting intolerance poses a serious threat to my health, and is no laughing matter.

 
Wow. Ok. I’m just going to leave that one alone. Do you have any parting advice for people who are also suffering from a very minor, non-life altering food intolerance?
 
Yep. Eat through the pain people. Eat through the pain.
 
More Food, Less Pain,
x-L & L

More Food, More Pain. Compliments of NaBloPoMo

NaBloPoMo is short for National Blog Posting Month. It is basically a bunch of bloggers who agree to update their blog daily for one month. The idea is that by doing so you’ll improve your writing and help to grow your blog.

This month I’ll be taking on this challenge. Though a little bit daunting, I like the idea. I’m finally grown up enough to understand that if you do something every day to strengthen a skill or habit, you do get better at it. Duh. Mostly, I plan to try and enjoy the process and to be ready and willing to take on the inevitable internal struggle it might cause me from time to time.
For those of you that love the dating/relationship stories, I’ll say a little prayer tonight that I am blessed with some awkward situations to make you cringe/laugh. Perhaps I’l find someone to awkward double hug again (my invention!). Or maybe another chain smoking drunk guy will fall in love with me in one night. Perhaps another tall (married) Bahamian man will insist I dance with him even after telling him that “dancing is not a good look for me.” Keep your fingers crossed for me, k?

For those of you that love the food bits, I’ll have plenty of fodder for that. Wednesday night Wine Classes at Newport Wine Cellar are in full swing and I’ll be attending a couple of those throughout the month. Guy Fawkes Day, on the 5th, holds the promise of yummy British food with friends. And thank the butter gods, it’s baking season, and Weather Girl just purchased a new Cuisinart Food Processor her chefs at the Buoy Street Country Club.

And then there’s Thanksgiving for food AND drama.Which reminds me of how much last Thanksgiving sucked…maybe I’ll tell you that pathetic but kind-of-funny-in-retrospect story in a post this month.

Since I work 40 hours a week, work out most days and actually keep up a decent social life, most of the posts will probably be short, which is something I’ve been meaning to start doing anyhow. Of course I don’t expect you’ll read them all. That’s not the point really, but I do hope you’ll enjoy the journey with me. And hopefully we’ll have some good food and giggles together soon.
More food, less pain,
x-L

Eat Thru The Pain

In a year of big changes, I’ve had a month of one big challenge after another, leaving me feeling a bit stunned. Which I guess is just fine and quite fitting for my first official blog post. I did some self soothing tonight by cooking and dining alone, followed by some quiet time now to write this post.

So. The changes. A Move. A new job. Ex met someone. I met someone. A very sick pet.

The move and the job position were welcome, though still stressful. My ex falling in love with someone else, while I saw it coming, left me crestfallen. And then I met someone one, fell hard for him, and my heart broke even more. Then my cat was diagnosed with terminal cancer.

But this year of changes and challenges has taught me to count my blessings, and to seek out the positive. My ex is a good man, and a good friend, and he deserves the happiness he’s found. There is a relief in knowing he’s moved on and is finding real joy in his life again.

The person I met and fell for was an important first step in opening my heart again, and while it hurt like hell, I know I’ll learn from it and that it will make me wiser and stronger.

Even the sadness about poor Super Kitty being diagnosed with cancer has a silver lining: I now know why she’s been so sick, and know how to offer her some relief in her final weeks.

690b7-2011summer065And tonight I counted the blessing in dining alone, at peace for the moment with myself and my life as it is. It is a good life, with great friends, a beautiful home base for the summer, and of course, the best food.

I cooked one of my favorite “alone” meals tonight. It was nothing fancy or original, but it represents the kind of cooking that I am grateful to understand: that fresh, local, seasonal ingredients need very little manipulation to make a beautiful meal of.

I made fresh papardelle topped with chopped tomatoes, steamed corn and fresh basil from Hodgkiss Farm here in Jamestown. I finished it with some fresh ricotta from Narragansett Creamery, and a little olive oil. And of course, wine. A Sancerre, pricier than I’d usually pour for weeknight. When I bought it, I thought I’d save it for a celebration or a dinner date.

But sometimes the special occasion is the one you have right there and then, on a deck in Jamestown, alone with a summer sunset. And while I usually believe that great food and wine are best when shared, that simply was not the case tonight.

More Food. Less Pain.

xo-L