a little holiday love

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Ninigret Pond, Christmas 2015

On the surface, this Christmas Eve doesn’t look much different than my Christmas eve last year. I am living in the same flat, in the same town, and working the same job. Nothing much has changed. I even drove to the same Portuguese market that I drove to last year, for wine, cheese, and sweets.

But last year, on that 20 minute drive to the market, I cried. A lot. A few weeks prior, I had parted ways with someone I’d been in love with for a year. We were supposed to spend Christmas together. I cried because I imagined the car loaded with wine, cheese, an overnight bag, and sweet little presents for him. Instead, I was in my gym clothes, killing time with pointless errands, and going to buy wine for parties I wasn’t even sure I’d have the energy or heart to attend.

Today on the drive, I was in my gym clothes again, but I was smiling. The slightly fuzzy scenes from a truly proper date last night were coming into focus, making me giggle every few miles or so. (I mean, I took a fucking saber to a bottle of Champagne like a goddamn pro, you guys!) I was smiling too, because I knew I’d come so far from the heartache of last Christmas. 

2016, as hard as it was, and still is, blessed me with time and space to heal from the hell that my 2015 was. This hasn’t been a great year, (we all seem to agree on that!) but I’ll take it. I made some dear new friends, and was safe in the company of old friends who are just always fucking there somehow, waiting with love and patience that I hardly feel worthy of. But I’ll take that too, with so much gratitude, that I do not show enough.

As I write this, a sweet friend of mine is napping on my couch after having a wretched, horrible day that nobody, especially her, deserves. I’m grateful that I am healed enough from my heartaches to help her through hers. Even in our blessed and comfortable, “first world” lives, pain like this needs and deserves love and attention. Especially today, when there is so much pressure to be joyful for the holidays.

Happy holidays friends new and old. I love you all.

More love, less pain,

xo-L

My Super Honest Dating Profile

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I’m told I look just like my picture.

My self-summary:

Socially awkward. Risk averse. Perimenopausal.

What I’m doing with my life:

Prepping for the possibility that I will collapse, alone, in my apartment. Neurotic and unoriginal for a woman my age? Sure. But it is largely out of consideration for the person that finds me, (likely my landlady), as well as the person who will have to fetch personal belongings for my hospital stay (likely my brother, IT Guy). So I do my best to keep my flat an acceptable level of clean and organized. Besides, if this morbid fantasy medical emergency kills me, I guarantee you that Ghost-Louise will haunt the person who cleans out the fridge in an attempt to apologize for the month-old soup leftovers, which I think we can all agree is super lame for a ghost.

I’m really good at: 

Shame spiraling.

Attracting felons.

Condiments. All the condiments in my fridge are active condiments.

Making soup. I’m soup-er jazzed about experimenting with citrus in my soups this fall!

The six things I could never do without

  1. A box of tissues. My brother says I cry a lot.
  2. Peanut butter.
  3. A spoon for peanut butter.
  4. Alcohol. Or I’d have to move to a cabin in the woods in Maine.
  5. Xanax. For those times when day drinking isn’t socially acceptable (or allowed at work).
  6. Complete and total autonomy.

I spend a lot of time thinking about:

  1. How I once said to my therapist “well at least I’m not a serial killer!” to which she thoughtfully (almost too thoughtfully?) replied, “well that is certainly a valid point, considering your childhood.”
  2. What I’m going to eat next.
  3. My sinuses.
  4. Moving to cabin in the woods in Maine.
  5. Whether I’m that chubby girl who gives a BJ on a second date so guys will like me, or if I’m just a liberated, slightly perverted, sex positive woman.
  6. Anechoic chambers.

On a typical Friday night I am

  1. Trying to dodge plans so I can go home, eat soup, and work on my birding bucket list.
  2. At a bar, not talking to you because:
    • I’m not attracted to you.
    • I’m attracted to you.
    • You’re talking to the tall blond types, ignoring me completely, which is your loss because this average height, 43 year old brunette pear has the breasts and the vaginal tone of a 25 year old.
    • I hate talking, strangers, and bars.

Recent books I’ve read:

“I Feel Bad About My Neck” – Nora Ephron

“How to Build Your Own Spaceship: The Science of Personal Space Travel” – Piers Bizony

The most private things I’m willing to admit:

I once fell asleep eating a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

You should NOT message me if you:

  • Are 22, and are looking for a cougar experience.
  • Are 22 and want to have a threesome, but have gravely underestimated the imagination of a 43 year old woman, and, subsequently, you cannot handle her suggested variations on the theme.
  • Think a first message about licking my asshole is a good strategy.
  • Have a user name that starts with “Tongue4Use”.
  • Have a user name that ends with “69”, EVEN IF THAT IS YOUR BIRTH YEAR, perv.
  • Are holding something dead in your profile picture.
  • Are wearing a ski mask (or any mask, really) in your one and only profile pic.

If I had a personal motto, it would be:

More Food. Less Pain.

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

 

 

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

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

 

NaBloPoMo Day 6: The Grumpy, But Grateful Voter

I didn’t get a sticker. But it’s ok. 

I had what I’m pretty sure was a migraine this morning. It wasn’t so bad that I left work, but bad enough that I was planning my escape if the nausea, dizziness and throbbing pain took a turn for the worse. A few ibuprofen, and a chicken soup delivered by my coworker, The Ninja, helped a lot. The waves of nausea and pain came and went all afternoon, but each crest, while still pretty uncomfortable, was lower than the previous one.

By 4pm I started to feel the exhaustion that follows a migraine. It was around that time that I started hearing rumors of 2 hour waits at my polling place, which, with the way I was feeling, filled me with dread.

The rumors were true. A few people I know waited over 2 hours. At least one person I know had to give up, heartbroken after 2 attempts with two young children in tow. It was her first time ever missing an election. It would be one thing if the 2 hour wait was expected, but it wasn’t. People didn’t know to plan accordingly.

And yes, I’m complaining. I’m grumpy. And I suppose if I was feeling better physically, I might feel differently about the situation. But maybe not. Shouldn’t this process be easier and more accessible for everyone than it was tonight? Won’t lines like this discourage people from voting next time? As I write this, at 9pm, there are 600 people waiting to vote at a polling station in Providence. Most have families to take care of, I’m sure. And jobs in the morning. What must they be thinking?

That said, I’m still grateful. I know waiting 2 hours, even 4 hours in line is nothing compared to what citizens of other countries go through to exercise their right to vote. That is, if they even have that right. I walked 10 minutes to my polling place, not 10 miles, or 10 days.

I take heart in the fact that, in our country, something like this won’t get swept under the rug. We won’t let it. And something will change because of our ability to voice our opinions, to petition, to gather, and to have access to our chosen leaders. I know it’s not a perfect system or government. But we are still lucky, and I never forget that, even when grumpy and complaining.

For some reason, my wait tonight was minimal because I got there just as they were letting the “R-Z’s” in. I had a ballot in my hand within 20 minutes, but I know some people who got there before me had been waiting over an hour. And were still waiting when I left. I felt bad about how quickly I got through, not glad, but what could I do? No one said much. The mood was a little tense, but civil, and quiet.

When I handed over my license to obtain my ballot, I felt even worse. The volunteer who took it looked tired, and overwhelmed. Like she didn’t sign up for the chaos. Like she didn’t want to be there. Like she needed a glass of wine. I made a point to smile at her, and thank her. She didn’t smile back, just nodded and her eyes moved to the person in line behind me.

Maybe it was the post migraine haze, but my visit there left me a little emotional. Something about the tension of the voters, and the exhaustion of the volunteers got to me. It was just very clear that everyone was determined to make it happen, regardless of the fact that it was poorly planned, and somewhat stressful.

I walked the long way home, in the cold, and counted some blessings. It’s now 9:30, and I’m still a bit grumpy. But hot soup and cheesy toast is in my near future, and I’m planting myself on the couch, under a blanket, in front of the TV as soon as I’m done writing this. I’m so tired, but you bet your ass I’m staying up as late as I can to see the results.

More Food, Less Pain,
xo-L

Nablopomo Day 3: Finding Warmth

Near Ruggles Ave. – Tuesday morning

For the first time this year, I turned my heat on this morning. It was 44°F outside when I woke up, and about 45°F in my flat (at least that’s how it felt). I pulled on a sweater, turned the thermostat to 64°, and got the kettle going. While I waited for my tea, the clicking and clacking of the baseboards was soon followed by that smell of burning dust, assuring me that the heat was working.

In that moment, waiting for warm tea and warm air to cut through the chill, I thought what I’ve thought so many times this week: I’m so lucky to have these things.

The news about the aftermath of this storm is tough to read. People are in despair, and scared, and their lives and their towns will never be the same. My heart broke more than a few times this week. How could it not, when I read of a woman whose two children were swept away, or of how many elderly people died alone in their homes?

But my heart breaks here, far from the despair, in my now warm kitchen. In a house that only shook a little during the storm. In a town that fared well, considering.

So this morning, as we began preparations for out annual Guy Fawkes Party, I insisted we stop by the brand new, 2nd location of my favorite local coffee shop, Empire. They are having a soft opening this weekend, and are donating all menu sales to the Red Cross today, and Sunday too. CJ said he felt so lucky to have no flooding or damage, and wanted to do something for those who weren’t so fortunate.

We gave a little extra to Empire’s collection, and I just donated more, through the Red Cross website. Not bragging. Just hoping you’ll do the same. They sheltered nearly 7,000 people on Thursday night alone, have served 215,000 meals so far, and have provided “more than 5,000 health services” since the storm hit.

I don’t have much more to say about that. Just that I hope everyone stays safe and warm, and that you remember to count your blessings, and help where you can.

More Food, Less Pain,
xo-L