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The Pros of Online Dating

Online dating would look like it's a horrible idea if you rely solely on my blog, and yet,  I still do it.  Well, I'm off again, but that's another post one day. Truthfully, there has been a decent amount of personal growth for me through online dating.

Found my funny bone. 

Yes, I finally found the funny.  It can be entertaining to see what some men think is acceptable behavior.  I mean, just a suggestion, treat women like you would treat a co-worker until you meet in person and actually catch her vibe.  I mean, maybe she wants to be your fantasy, but it won't happen if you offend her first.  And it's a common request to get a selfie or two, but I'm going to assume you know your way around Instagram or Facebook enough to make me think you're looking for free porn in a picture.  After my last request, that duck lip pose I always thought was silly is never going to be as innocent and stupid as I thought it was.  Just don't ask for selfies.  Find them.  Stalk me in the way I want the world to.

There is value in meaningful communication.

Communication is best in person because there are nuanced microexpressions and body language you pick up on but don't give voice to.  This is why psychotherapy only works in person with an exception made for occasional phone calls.  Human interaction requires humans to interact.  The point of meeting online is to get offline.

Something that I struggled with is my old fashioned sensibilities that never translate.  I mean, if you know someone's sleeping patterns well enough to have no doubts when they'll be up, it's fine.  You are past that "getting to know you" phase.  I grew up knowing you don't call too early or too late.  I typically wouldn't call before 9 or 10 on weekends or after 10 at night, but that rule goes right out the window when you're grown folks on cell phones.  This is not a bonus for you when I'm a light sleeper with my phone on in case my kids need me (they sometimes call when they can't sleep at Dad's) and you're waking me up really late.  Those early morning texts, or late night (horny) texts annoy me more than endear me to you.

In the early days, I responded to every single solicitation for my attention.  It became exhausting, and taught me that I really am shallow and if I'm not attracted to a picture, the conversation really won't matter.  I started to ignore people.

Yes, I've ghosted a person.  I won't do it again.

At the end of one of my earliest relationships, I ghosted him.  We had a conversation that ended in a friendly way.  He was getting ready to fly out on a trip and we were making plans for when he returned home and I blocked him.  It was easier to be a chicken and not face my own feelings and just walk away. I didn't explain that I liked him more than I was comfortable with because I couldn't see a future with him in it.  I decided for us that we were done, repeating what was done to me in my marriage and ignoring the devastation I was inflicting, and knew too well.  I walked away, letting him figure out that I wasn't interested because I couldn't act like a grown ass woman and tell him.  A few months later, he called me from a number I didn't recognize and I answered his call.  That felt worse.  As much as I wanted to cover my cowardice in the audacity of his actions, I was wrong.  He's beautiful and tenacious, but he's not the one for me.  Owning up to that and talking to him was hard, but the better choice.  He's a really great guy.  Just not mine.

New friendships formed.

I have had a few meetings online that stayed online.  One man shared some of his secrets with me.  It wasn't in his secrets but the way they made him who he is today that helped me decide we weren't the right fit.   I've met a few of these.  Great pictures.  Interesting bios, but things weren't going to work out.  They make good friends and I even help out with their dating profiles and offer advice until they keep talking about wanting sex and I stop encouraging a conversation.  I was talking to him as a friend Wednesday night when I had accepted a date from someone else.  We're friends, and I'm not lying to anyone, so I told him about the date.  He told me not to overthink it and have fun.  I told him to get out of that self inflicted texting purgatory most dates eliminate themselves with.

I got home from the date feeling like it wasn't a right fit.  I was almost laughing at how badly the conversation went, taking ownership of the fact that I wasn't encouraging it at all and ignoring the fact that I was probably PMSing and he was suffering for it.

The next day, this same date was asking me out again, and another young man that had become a friend gave me a nudge.  He said I was too young and beautiful to not embrace having fun, and he pointed out that I made up my mind just like I had about his age (27 is too young).  He was right.  I went out with a determination to just have fun.  And I did.  He was right.

Too many choices and it was time to make one.

Online dating offers way too many options.  When I started my OKCupid profile last time, I received about a hundred likes a day.  That rate drops off after a while, and once it did, I received about 3 to 5 new emails a day.  Finding someone spontaneous enough to meet on my first kid free day was rare.  Especially if his first response wasn't "sex tonight." (No.  Just no.) This week alone, I was carrying on about 1o different conversations.  At one point it was 5 conversations at once.  I thought I couldn't multitask, but I'm learning.  I think I liked the challenge of that more than the men.

New Year, new me, right? Only, transformation is an intentional moment to moment process.  I get to notice what I'm doing and decide how I want to show up differently. I decided to let go of the men I knew I didn't want to keep around.  These were men that were texting and talking and keeping me company through my phone.  I realized it didn't matter who was my first good morning text, my last good night text, or the sexy random moments of thoughtfulness texts throughout my day.  If you are the person on my mind, even without your attention, then you are the person that matters and it was time to let go of the chaff and let the wheat fall and do terrible things to my belly.  I started responding to their greetings with letting them go.   Here, I lied.  Some men needed to hear it was me.  Some needed to hear it was someone else.  In this, I did my best to offer what they needed to hear, and only one was told it was because I didn't trust that he wasn't catfishing me.

Owning up to my choices because the right choice is rarely the easy one.

Letting a man know you're letting him go can be a mixed bag.  There are the ones that move on easily.  Those made me wonder if I should have held on because of his strength or if I ever mattered because of his nonchalance.  Curiosity is not a change of heart. There are those willing to fight for me.  They beg and plead and make me feel bad that I didn't want to share a relationship with the same intensity that they were after.  Then there are some I'm happy to keep in friendship because that was the natural progression we were heading toward anyway. When you have 8 or 9 men offering you their attention but not their physical presence, you take it for granted that these are people, but I never really considered that these superficial interactions meant something to them.

I've told you, I'm not always nice, right?

Online Dating and Younger Men: Cougar Madness

I'm comfortable with dating older men.  I love the softer look of salt and pepper hair, with gentle laugh lines around their eyes.  I don't mind hairlines that step back or heads that are bald.  It's a look I love.  I love natural hair.  Younger men are all about manscaping and I just don't get it. Unfortunately, most of the men my age that I meet online think I'm much younger, because in reality, for a lot of men my age, I'm just too old for them.

I'm often approached by younger men.  Men that are about 20 or 22 accept that I don't date younger men.  They accept my answer and move on.  There are plenty of other women that would love the attention.

Christmas night I was hit with the realization that I wasn't fully embracing the celebration.  I was sober all of Thanksgiving.  I'm not much of a drinker.  I was sober with my sister while making tamales in Torrance on Friday.  I was sober Saturday with family while I was driving my kids around.  Sunday I was primarily sober.  I went to a friend's house and had a Smirnoff Ice with dinner, because I was driving home and I love my car.  Sunday night, I decided to have that Hot Buttered Rum I kept putting off.  I was sipping, crocheting a blanket and swiping on dating apps.  It sounds pathetic, but I was in a really happy place.  I had forgotten how much I loved making blankets and scarves until I watched my sister knitting beautiful blankets on Friday.  (I'm telling her she should sell them.  Wait for that shameless plug if she ever decides to.)

Sunday night there was a man 10 years my junior that wouldn't accept my no.  After 25, they get a little ballsy.  They know what they want and understand persistence.  We talked a bit.

The next morning I was waiting for my ex to call to tell me to come get the boys.  I told him I'd come when the kids were up.  This 28 year old said good morning and asked me to join him for coffee.  I agreed.  Just like that. We met in Pasadena and ended up talking up until I got a call saying it was time to get my kids.  His cappuccino was gone and my blonde roast coffee was cold.

On Friday when I met someone else for coffee, we talked about life, work, careers, and divorce.  It's something we both knew too much about.  We talked about Landmark and MITT.  We laughed and I really enjoyed his company.  We parted with a hug and I knew I would probably never see him again. There wasn't a spark or even a longing for more than a hug.

Monday morning I arrived first and was surprised to see us driving the same car when he pulled in.  He paid for my coffee and our conversation kept drifting in all sorts of ways through life, careers, and world travel.  He comes from the middle east and he's making the American Dream his, while caring for his parents.  For just long enough, I was able to ignore the math when thinking about how old he was when I gave birth to my firstborn 15 years ago.  I was able to ignore how creepy that felt.  We parted ways and I felt like I might be open to another date.

As the day became night and into today, the conversation is still flowing and I keep getting this instinctual gut punch that says no.  I'm still swiping and there is another man that is coming out to LA from the east coast at the end of the month.  I can already tell I'll never meet him, but I can enjoy this for what it is.  He's 27.  He has the emotional depth that I outgrew many years ago.

Both of them stand out from older men already.  It's not the looks.  They're handsome, but so are older men.  They're sexual, and interested, but so are older men.  What sets them apart is how much I can't connect with them.  I'm a straight shooter.  They reciprocate that.  They are looking to race into something and define it quickly.  They are trying to nail down my commitment to their superficial needs.  They want it physical and don't know how to slow down from the need that drives them.  They want to see if we'll be friends, and do I expect more of a relationship.  No matter how much I try to explain it, I can't quite get them to understand that no woman wants to be treated like a discount hooker.

You get older and it's more than physical needs. Both men and women need someone that understands and connects intellectually and emotionally.  One night of fun is one thing, but the person they want to share their mornings with needs to understand and support them and the younger men don't seem to know how to be comfortable in exploring their passions outside of bed with me. The road map I follow means we linger for a long while in an intellectual bliss before I'm ready to move on from there.  I know what I'm capable of and it's not a theory I need to test out at every opportunity.

Unfortunately, this same need in older men means they want to hold me down and claim me as a wife before we've ever met in person. That feels just as crazy and bad.  The older men are looking for a partner.  They understand when I need to step away to be a mother.  That might also just be the men.  I spent Christmas night with three grown men that were very hands on with their children and other's children in a way that I needed to see.  It was so healing and hopeful to see these men feed and put those babies to sleep.  They parented their children and were willing to be chased and tickle, and horseplay.  It was far from the childhood my boys had and I went home so moved.  Maybe slightly tearful.  I get to find that one day.

The younger men don't understand and their impatience stands out.  They ask if I like games like truth or dare, or if I would play video games with them. They don't understand when I explain I don't watch a lot of television or movies because I grew up with far less screen time than they did.  I don't get bored without a television or movie on.  I can be content with a pen and paper or yarn and a crochet hook.  Or a book.  Those things build, rock and destroy worlds inside of them.

I'm reminding myself to not think of the age difference because it creeps me out, and I'm trying to be patient through the parts that aren't right to enjoy how it feels to be so irresistible to these younger men.  They don't mind the softer look of a mother's body and I keep hearing that my mothering is what makes me hot. I'm trying to let that land. Trying.  I don't think it's about age, but I often come across men that feel all they have to offer is sexual or financial in nature when all I want is a deep and meaningful conversation.  That's a gift of humanity so many feel they can't take ownership of. And yet, we're all just humans.

Anatomy of a Catfish, Day 9

The day I was expecting has finally arrived! I don't need to feel like a cold harpy that couldn't give a poor romantic the benefit of the doubt.  The man that has been trying to keep my attention has finally gotten to the point, and here I go, trolling my catfish. Naughty Bloggess, I know. Someone should consider spanking me. Assuming I'm not creeped out . . . And I'm interested in his conversation . . . And dinner should happen.  Okay, maybe we should skip the spanking.  Apparently I'm asking for way too much.

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I thought the request would involve his phone.  The phone was what he kept complaining about, even though the flight home was something we talked about.  I just assumed he would say he didn't have enough notice for the flight but he surprised me.

I could understand an account being frozen, but a damaged card still has usable numbers you can read or type into a website.  He's a New Yorker/Californian/World Traveller, and he should know this. Right?

And if you can recall (I can), this job already paid him half of what he was expecting to get paid for the completion of the job.  Is it possible that with that kind of a payout on a job he flew to Brazil for with a team of about 10 . . . No one else could help him?

I offer a way out when I can. They never take it. The big request was almost anti-climactic, but this is where I start trolling him and I really have fun with it.  Because I'm not always a nice person, right?

If I were a nice person, I would just tell him the reality of what I'm doing on my blog.  But is that really a nice thing to do? To tell them we were playing a partnered game? I wouldn't take out a loan for myself if I can avoid it because I think of the reality of paying it back.  If you can't take out a loan at a bank, why should I trust you with my money.  People work at banks and get paid big bucks to make prudent decisions.  I should trust their lead, right?

Yesterday there were a few texts without his odd typos.  It's like he forgot what he was supposed to be doing.  Commitment to your lies helps sell the story.  Me for example . . .

I am intentionally making myself into a very plump and delicious whale. Maybe I can drag this one out for another 9 days.  Not that I want to bore you with my shenanigans.  I just want to frustrate him. My Kid1 intends to send me the "dankest memes" so I can send those as my send off.  We've connected over our web shenanigans.

So it's now day 10, and he's been checking in with me more often and trying to see how I'm coming along with his request.  The point of this blog series was to tell you what to look for, so I won't bother giving you the details of my debauchery and lies unless you really want them.

My reality is I've been catfished more often than I want to be.  I don't bother sharing their pictures or other details because I'm sure most of them are fake.  There's probably some innocent person out there that gives great massages, loves to cuddle and visit museums and has a really large brain and he has no idea his pictures are being used for someone's income stream.

I had a job interview for a pharmaceutical company that wanted me to interview through Google Hangouts.  That was the first red flag.  Asking my sex, age, marital status and other illegal details was another.  They asked where I banked to see if they could set up direct deposit.

I met another man Saturday just after I lost my job.  He's been offering to send me money.  He's been asking for my checking account and routing numbers but doesn't understand why I won't trust him.  He almost seemed angry at my mistrust and gave many excuses as to why he can't use Western Union, Paypal, Venmo or the Go Fund Me pages I set up when I was trying to take my leadership classes.

We reveal so much in passive conversation.  How old are you? I just had my birthday, when is yours?  Where do you live? Are we close? Are you still married?

No one needs to know where you bank or private details like your bank account.

A birth date can be used for verification.

No one needs your social security number unless they are reporting to the government.

You don't need to lend money to a person that not even a bank would trust.  Seriously. Don't take my word for it.  My kids collaborated so I could test their internet savvy.

According to Kid1:

You don't give out your address, your age, social security number, credit card information, zip code, and never post a picture of your face in your profile. Use a fake name and fake age (because he's not old enough to have a YouTube). Rule 34, if it exists, there's a porn of it, don't test it. Many of my friends have tested it.  I am unfortunately one of those people that tested it. People are very weird.  And there are many places you don't go on the internet like 8Chan, 2Chan, 4Chan.  They're all full of edgy people. They will find your internet IP and home address.  Just don't go.

According to Kid2:

Don't give out your info. No info at all, except my Nintendo friend code.

Kid3: Not your middle or last name.

Anatomy of a Catfish, Day 8

The weight of my reality gave way to the fact that I overthink everything and I'm really great at that.  And then my catfish was back to his normal  by late evening and it was easier to see clearly.

His typing errors made me believe he was just going to ask for a new phone.

Poor thing fell and hurt his phone.

It amazes me that he would seriously wait days until Christmas to try to book a flight.  There are movies made about those kinds of shenanigans.

I was thinking he was full of it, but clearly I am too, so I said he was sweet instead.

It would have been vengeance worthy if he had asked me to set my kids up for his fall too.  Seriously, who does this kind of thing?

At this point there was genuine suspense.  Was he going to try to show up? Was this part of his game?

What was the laugh? Was it that I wanted to analyze what he said? Was it about the fact that I could find a way to relate to his lies?

And there goes that phone again. Maybe he should do something about it.

Anatomy of a Catfish, Day 7 & Day 8

Day 6 started with me finding out I don't have my job anymore, but I'm fishing for a catfish so I wasn't going to let him know. Day 7 I met a friend and another friend of hers for brunch so we could brainstorm ideas and discuss my career direction. I also needed the connection and support.  I told them about my latest catfish and one of the women at our table told me about the one that forced her off all sites for good. Her situation required a police report. Yikes!

I was still in shock from some of the many turns my life is taking right now, but still super confident that this man talking to me is only lying to me.  He was very missing throughout the day, reaching out to say he missed me and loved me and wanted to leave Brazil and come home to me.

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Of course he encourages the clinginess.  That's how he knows I would do anything for him.

I was amused by this exchange because nothing can come between us, but his being right back waited several hours.  I was busy, so it wasn't a big deal.

Day 8 came and I was going through the stages we go through when faced with change in our lives.  Call it grief.  Call it disappointment.  It was stages of exhaustion, frustration, disappointment, and hope.  And in my abnormal weakness, his words penetrated in a way that was unexpected.  I'll spare you the screenshots.

 Promises of love

The reason I am writing this today is because I can’t stop thinking about you, and I can’t stop myself from imagining how happy we will be. Let this be a promise to you that I will do my best to be the man I want to be for you. I may not yet know all of the difficulties that come with a lifetime commitment, but I have enough relationship experience to know what I want and how I picture my life with the person I will commit to and that is you Yessica. I promise to do my best to make you beam daily, so count on many surprises. Your smile will be my priority. I get weak knees when anybody smiles, so just imagine the effort I will make to be the source of yours. I promise I will always look at you with the same adoration as I did the moment I realized I loved you. I promise to try to ignite the same sparkle in your eyes I see when you’re surprised, inspired, motivated or when you are about to lean in to kiss me. I promise to hold your hand when we’re 80 years old with the same liveliness that I did when I crossed that line to hold yours for the first time. I vow never to let the excitement of dating me die down; I will surprise you with the location, the reason or the activity itself. I promise to keep you guessing where we’re going next. I promise to do my best always to interest you. I will keep reinventing myself, gaining new hobbies, new knowledge and new interests to keep you and myself entertained. I promise to kiss you throughout our life do my best to remain physically attractive for you, and I will do my best to be healthy in order to keep up with our kids someone has got to teach them Muay Thai kickboxing..lol...I’ll train you, too; I want you to know how to fight and defend yourself, just don’t use it against me. Lol I promise to help you to be healthy, both physically and mentally. I will cook and clean for us. Expect the best breakfast: traditional Armenian tomato and pepper omelets, followed by fruit salad with… well, I can’t give all the secrets out. I promise to strive to be a role model for our children. I want both you and them to see me as a source of motivation. I want to inspire them in the same way that my father inspires me.I promise to do my best to love your family as you love them and to be by their side as much as I am by yours. I promise to always listen to you when you simply just want to be heard; when you want someone to vent to about something or when you want advice. I will listen to you especially when you don’t feel comfortable sharing your thoughts with anybody else, and to the things you try to tell me when you’re not even speaking. I promise to always listen. During our life together, I promise to make sure that you feel as though you are the center of the household — I know you will be — and I will always try to show my appreciation for you because of that. I promise never to let my guard down in taking care of us. I know you won’t be one to be satisfied with the bare minimum. I promise to do everything that I can for you without taking away from your independence physically, intellectually or emotionally. I promise to create family traditions and to make sure that your legacy lives forever through our children. I promise to encapsulate the moment when I realize that I am in the most magnetic, amorous and erotic love with you, not to let that feeling dissipate to the best of my ability and to relive it with you constantly, always.....I love you Yessica Please don't break my heart!!!

And this is where the doubt creeps in. When I got through this I felt a lump in my throat and my mouth went dry.  My heart was beating against my rib cage in a rabitted race. I couldn't form the words to engage with my son. I couldn't move because my body was holding me in the moment that called out to my soul. How could he speak so intimately to the many desires of my heart I never knew I could yearn for?  In the hours following, I felt so conflicted.  So much of my right now is up in the air and all that falls around me is the loss of anomie, and he's here, saying he'll be the anchor I need.  I had to go back and actually read what I had written since he became the subject of my blog posts. I had to remember that it's only been 8 days and this is not normal.  This is not okay.  But I didn't feel anger.  I felt gratitude.  He offered words that invoked feelings I thought were dead.  I thought that part of me had been broken and the times I feel a fluttering, I can only feel gratitude.

I wondered if what I'm doing is wrong.  I wondered if it's possible that he's a genuine man that really did fall in love with my smile and maybe he really did picture a forever.  It would have had nothing to do with me and everything to do with the fantasy in his head of me, but what if he's being honest? What if he really is drawn to me?  What if my blog is going to strike again as the destroyer of relationships? It has happened. It will happen. I hope to find a love that doesn't care what I write.

Then I remember that my feelings and thoughts are valid.  I remember that he really hasn't convinced me that I want more kids, and if he's genuine about what he says, he wants a child and I couldn't at this point offer that.  I have only been talking to him for 8 days.  I've never seen him in person and I've never heard his voice. This isn't a relationship but an illusion.

And then I wonder what it would be like if I wasn't who I am? What if I was the girl I was out of highschool? What if I had my past insecurities? What if I needed to hear what he was selling because I couldn't see the ways in which I am amazing. Briefly the thought of other women occurs to me.  What about these women that need to hear these things more than I do today? What about the women that would spend thousands on keeping a man happy to keep his affection.  I want to be angry and rage, but I can't.  In this moment, I let his words wash over me, and pretend for a few more moments that I have no doubts.  I pretend for a bit that we are the picture of love he's been painting and I indulge in a fantasy because my boys are yelling and his fantasy is so much better than my present reality. And I ignore the fact that aside from tomorrow night and Christmas Eve and some friends that are welcoming me on Christmas Day, lost in his fantasy, I will still be alone.  He hasn't solved the problem I had in going online to find a date.  I still don't have a date, even if he promises to be here Christmas Eve to be with me. And it occurs to me that I have nothing to wear because there's enough doubt that I wonder if he will show up.

Anatomy of a Catfish, Day 6 

We get past the good morning texts. The I love you texts.  The I miss you texts.  The what have you eaten and tell me about work texts.  Then we get to the other ways he wants to make his way into my family and life.

He wants to meet my family, and be part of my children's lives.  He plans to meet them when he's back on Christmas Eve.  We pretend jet lag doesn't matter.

Forever is a really long commitment based on a week of communication by text.  I mean, he has no clue if I have halitosis or kill kittens for fun.  Whatever.  In for a penny, you suffer my pound, right? Speaking of, my pictures are all me, but the un-angled real shots are the group ones where I don't have a mirror to preen into.  You see my soft jiggly marshmallow fluff in those.  That's authentic.  But he's only seen my selfies.

I don't remember, but I also don't remember when those details were something I would want to share with someone I just met.  The idea that sex would make me feel like a woman is disrespectful to the boobs that sweat for me, the period cramps that can cripple me and body that has birthed 7 babies.  I don't need a man to make me feel like a woman.  I have a whole body for that.

I like to do these things alone, but I think in general, the point of dating is to discover what you'd like to do together.  Latching onto the idea of the museum we briefly spoke about on the other side of the country with my kids is not my idea of a good time.  My boys hate the idea of leaving the house for a grocery run.  I am not dragging them across country for anything less than a marriage, and even then, I'm not excited about having that letter, talk, and exchange with the ex to be able to do it. Take me to the Huntington Library.  It's on my list and local.

Ever . . . Recently . . . He's inspired a few blog posts.  It's usually only really special men that get my attention and hold it for a while that get to do that.

He wants to prove his love by marrying me, but accidently called me and couldn't handle that conversation.

A blessing that he couldn't talk to for free, through Google.  Yeah.  The special feelings are coming at me from everywhere.  It feels like a tingle that raises the hair on the back of my neck.

He wants to marry me? I'm not big on shopping for clothes, but I can do some serious damage on an Amazon account, and I should have looked into stock options for Target considering how many vacations I've funded for those shareholders.

Support my blog! Get me more followers and hits.  Oh wait.  He's so supportive.

I think a two week anniversary of when we first started chatting on Okcupid is the perfect time to shop for engagement rings.  Let's cherish our forever based on two weeks of the deep conversations we never have!  He's a keeper.  Totally.

 

Anatomy of a Catfish, Day 5

These are texts from December 16, and to recap, I met this man on an online dating site.  We started chatting through their messenger, and then through text, but he had to leave his home in Beverly Hills to work in Brazil for a couple of months.  We now talk through Google Hangouts but these men also like Kik, Viber and any other sites where they are using an app.  They've never used an iPhone and their calls are brief if they even call. They usually can't call and I'm slightly amazed at the difficulty in getting a call from international business people who would in theory call people as part of their work flow. It's a 9 hour flight to the obscure city he's in, but as a point of reference, it's not too far from Rio de Janeiro.  I know how to look up a map which is fun when they start talking about places they live. Since there's no way he could possibly see me right now, he's making sure I'm emotionally connected to him and only him.  He promises to come see me for Christmas though.  I will spare you the many times I'm asked about work, or what I'm eating or the ways he expands on the details of my life I have shared.  There's a definite schedule to our communications.  It's early morning until about noon, typically. Then it drops off until much later (almost like a whole 9 hours because he talks to me like he is working all day, but then drops off like he has a shift he really can't text through).

img_2144-1He's my good morning texter and I'm grateful that he's learning I don't need that to be at 5 in the morning.  He's established himself as the earliest texter because normal men try to keep it much more casual.  Like annoyingly casual.  Like I know that phone is in your hand, and you saw what I had to say, and yet your brief reply needs a day and a half to marinate and form.  Your disinterest is calculated or you really suck at multiple conversations at once.  They also freak out if you say more than you like them and want to hang out in the first month and a half.

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Being punctual helps with his schedule for me, and his language still gets me.  I mean, he grew up in New York but hasn't once said it was "a mad boring flight." He has lived in LA for years and his "resume work daily" is the sound of a foreigner applying natural language rules to the unnatural craziness of English.

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The hustle is what he knows and that is how he connects to me.  He asks a lot about what I do, when my breaks are, will I get in trouble for texting him.  He notices the spaces when I ignore him because I'm in a meeting or training someone else.  The distance means a 20 minute car ride but I steal the hour to clear my thoughts.  If he were really someone I could see growing a relationship with, I would insist on a call during my car ride because my car has an awesome hands free system for calls.

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Babe.  Miss you.  How's work.  I could never get lost in his depth.  That makes me sad.

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Food.  And watching a picture of me while he eats.  This doesn't say creepy at all.  Again he's connecting through things that hardly matter because he's really trying to matter.  If I feel like he's interested in my minutiae, then maybe he's the only one that cares for me and I'd better keep him close to me.

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Maya Angelou once wrote that jealousy is like salt.  A little can enhance the savor.  Too much spoils a meal.  I see it as insecurity.  The lack of confidence is not sexy.  It's clingy and vile. Don't do this.  Real or fake, clingy insecurity, jealousy and possession are a major turn off.  Besides, would you want a prisoner, or a person that doesn't need you but chooses you? I'd always prefer to be a choice.

Love sick puppy willing to country hop can sound fun.  But I've never met him.  That's a lot of pressure and a whole lot of creeptastic going on right there.

The amazing thing about smartphones is they come with world phones.  It's two taps for me to see his time and it looked like 4 in the morning.  I shouldn't have a better idea of your time zone than you do.

He might not do this for any other person but he follows a scripted pattern that others have already done.

I was bored, so I thought I'd have him remind me of his story before seeing if I could pick it apart.

If you ask any other American that lived through the 9/11 terror attacks, they could tell you exactly what they were doing.  I was on bedrest with Kid1.  I was asleep when my ex called to see if I could tell him what was on the news.  I was confused about him telling me what had just happened because I was watching the second plane live.  I couldn't imagine the same accident happening twice and I couldn't understand that it was done on purpose.

He claims to be American. He would have lived through it. I felt rage at this point.

Earlier this week he said he was close to marriage and she died.

Forever seems so long.  I give this one another week or two at the most.

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I'm really great at lying through text.  See what I did there?

He wants to marry me, and can't tell that I used song lyrics on him.  *Epic Facepalm, just short of bruising*

This tells me he'll pop the question in less than 7 days.  Will he ask for a gift card, money, a phone, cash a check he'll have mailed to me, use a credit card . . . They possibilities are endless but these are the usual.

Yes, he thinks I would want to go through diapers and sleepless nights and the cost of a child with someone I have just met and started talking to for 5 days.

I offer many opportunities for them to slow down a bit.  They never do.

Isolation looks like a hunger for love and acceptance.  He's hoping by Christmas I will see him as family and worth every hard earned penny I would otherwise use on my kids.

Anatomy of a Catfish, Day 4

Day 4 is where the fun really starts to begin for my latest catfish.  It starts as a slip, but yes, he's sure he loves me.  After 4 days of texting.  After never having met.  After blowing me off instead of warning me that we would not be able to meet on Wednesday.  But he loves me.

The crazy continues because I have yet to meet him and he would suggest I would let him meet my kids.

Handing out "I love you" like bologna sandwiches at a picnic.  I mean, I love meat.  I'm a total carnivore. I wouldn't go vegetarian for him.  Not for a month, not for a meal, so do I actually love him? Not more than steak.  Maybe more than seeded grapes.  Yes, I love him more than seeded grapes because seeded grapes aren't worth the purchase to me although I like the taste and feel of eating grapes.  Just not the ones with the seeds.

The greatest question is why would I encourage this farce?  I do it all the time and with all of them. Part of me hopes he's just really lonely and hoping for a sincere connection.  He's usually cute enough that I would try to pull out a conversation over dinner.  The larger part of me knows that if he's spinning his wheels trying to get me to bite the bait he's casting, he's not taking advantage of someone that really would do anything for companionship.  I'm looking. I'm motivated to find a relationship. I'm also happy to be alone until it's right. I'm great company to myself. I laugh at my own jokes too.

He's a big baller getting ready to take care of me, and it is supposed to get me comfortable because in theory he will be able and willing to meet my needs.  The rapport we create is supposed to be a two way street.  I'll just end up walking through his dark alley before he sees mine.

I had my office party and ended up staying out later than usual.  These posts go past midnight because my schedule pushed our conversations later than normal. Most of them have a schedule when they usually talk.  Early morning, late at night and either through the morning or afternoon, but never all day every day.  There's always a schedule.

He's used to women jumping for him.  He wanted me home at a certain time and it didn't happen.  His impatience is usually a one way ticket to "No" from me, but I'm working on my blog with him, so I indulge it.

I'm not talking to guys. I'm talking to catfish.  The real me is picky and hasn't actually been on a date in months.  No one asks me out, but I kinda like it that way sometimes.  Usually.

He's not trying to look jealous but he does look like he's trying to make sure I'm alienated and motivated to do all he asks of me.

No.  He won't meet my boys.  He still wants to alienate me and wants to make sure I have no other romantic interests.  I have my mirror though. Maybe I should warn him that my self love is insane and he has me to compete with.

I almost feel sorry for the catfish's past lovers.  You wouldn't believe how many of them have died tragically. Don't worry, he has a happy ending.

I've met genuine widowers and none of them are this flippant.  I threw up a little in my mouth when I read this.  You are justified in being disgusted.

I know.  I'm amazing. I would be in love with me too.  You know what else I can't always get off my mind? Stress.  Fear.  Indigestion because of a wheat mishap.  I don't love those things.  It's not a crush or infatuation.  Even after 4 whole days.

Anatomy of a Catfish, Day 3

Day 3 is when my latest catfish and I were going to try to meet up.  Sort of. They never will actually meet you, but they want you to feel like that meeting is right around the corner. I had other plans and had no intention of waiting around for him to show up for me. The conversation kept going into the slight but maybe likely possibility that I would get to meet him after work.  It was Wednesday and I wouldn't have my kids, so I could meet for coffee or dinner before he flies out for Brazil.  In theory.  I actually ended up keeping Kid3 and took him to a holiday party with friends instead.

I'm still amused that he's trying to pretend to be from New York/California with his word choice.  

Notice the timestamps? I reached out on my way to pick my son up, and he waited a few hours to respond.  

It was after 10 and he was trying to suggest we might still meetup.  Honestly, if you're going to blow me off, at least be considerate that I might have other ways to spend my night.  But I knew I'd never meet him.  It's not how a catfish operates.

The difference with a catfish from most online perverts is he wants to prolong the game.  He won't bring up sex unless you do.  He'll keep it respectful to stay in your good graces.  He will make sure you understand he's hard working and he needs you to be patient for him because your payout is a good man that knows how to take care of himself and is willing to extend that to you.

I spared you all of the ways he can't do without me.  He feels special because of my attention and expects that if he mirrors what he wants me to feel, I'll feel it.  He really is sorry that we couldn't meet because of circumstances outside of his control.

Anatomy of a Catfish, Day 2

Day 2, December 13, 2016 I'm breaking up my days into the standard Midnight to Midnight format that most of us follow and posting texts per day.

Good morning comes well before I wake because he needs to be the first person on my mind. Even at 5. I'm a light sleeper so I look, ignore and try to sleep a bit longer.

We talk about our lives and he tells me about his work. It's exciting and the opportunities are always huge and impressive. The work he's about to do always has a huge payout.  Once it was a man leaving town to be with his relative that was alone and in need.  He was going to be a hero and needed my support after he was beaten and robbed in a city he doesn't call home,.

My interest in a country I've never been to gives him the opportunity to suggest an Aladdin opportunity to show me the world. Never mind the fact that we just started talking the day before and under any other circumstance this would just be creepy. Well, it is creepy.

He's establishing the fact that he will be gone but not for long. It's enough of a breadcrumb trail that I might want to support a long distance relationship for a short while. He has no clue that I pass on military men about to retire in two months that want to find a wife and have much more husbandly promise because I want company this week.

This is where it starts to get really sweet. He's laying it on thick enough to give me cavities and I begin to troll my catfish right back.  I pretend I don't know the difference between infatuation, lust, love and connection.  I let him believe I'm not self aware enough to know how I feel about myself and what I want and am willing to sacrifice in my life. I pretend I might be in love with him, rather than being in love with falling in love.  I act as if he has all I need and that I'm not at all creeped out because I need what he's selling.

Typically he lives on his own in a lonely city with few and far family in another state or country. When he inevitably needs my help, he'll need me because we've been talking two weeks and his family... Well, they can't help the successful man I've fallen in love with that is usually the one helping them.

Day 2 and he wants us to meet each other's families. Day 2 and he wants me to fly across the country with him. Day 2 and we have yet to nail down a meeting for coffee and dinner. I went to New York once. It was a trip I funded to take my ex boyfriend to see the family he missed.  We were together for over a year and a half and I didn't see all I wanted to see.  When I go back to the Big Apple, it's very likely going to be a solo trip.

Monday after being a daughter for a few hours after a full work shift, I got to my kids around 9. My mom surprised us with a Christmas tree. It's not a big deal for her because she drives a minivan.  I drive a 2016 Toyota Camry and I had 3 kids.  I wasn't up to strapping the tree to the roof, so I put down the back seat and shoved it in the trunk and through the car.  My kids squished in alongside it.  My boys were angry that they had to wait so long at Grandma's house and they weren't feeling helpful. I got home, and I threw an 8 foot tree over my shoulder and carried it down a flight of stairs after fighting it out of my trunk. I put it on the tree stand and made sure it was straight. I dragged it into place, all alone because I am a badass and wanted to give the boys space for their anger. My only help was Kid3 closing the gate behind me.  I really don't want more kids although I miss being pregnant sometimes and a man that changes my mind about that will have magic dust stowed away somewhere. I've been a single mom with a husband that parented from the couch.  I need to see how amazing he is as a Dad before I'll even consider kids with someone else, and my usual gut reaction to the question of "Do you want more kids?" is "Hell the Fuck No." So here, I was totally trolling him.

I'm not nice.  I've said this, right? The plan for tonight is we're trying to meet up.  I expect him to flake and have other plans anyway.

If it sounds too good to be true, he's probably a catfish.

Anatomy of a Catfish, Day 1

Day 1 - December 12, 2016 I have been online dating on and off since May. I have also lost track of how many times I've been catfished. My expectations for online dating are really low, and this time I jumped back in with the intent of finding a catfish.  I just put myself on a not super incognito assignment.  My blog is directly in my dating profile.  I also include the fact that I will share really tasteless texts with friends.  I don't mention there's a whole Facebook album, but if they really wanted to date me, they would probably check me out.  They follow similar patterns and as I was approached online by someone today that was practically reading a familiar script, I thought I would over think this for you.

First, he's someone I would date. He's between 35 and 49 (only if he's ridiculously beautiful). He looks much younger than the age he claims is his. He's got hair I can imagine running my fingers through or he's bald. I don't know what it is with bald heads, but I'm not complaining. He has laugh lines and salt and pepper hair.  He's more tan than deathly pale, but more likely to burn than tan under the sun. He's tall and has a great smile. His body isn't much softer than mine. I prefer it when he loves his body as much as he wants me to.  He might be a runner or into Crossfit, but he's definitely not surfing the couch most days. I don't really care about grammar and spelling because there's a chance he speaks Italian or German or French or Hebrew or Arabic. I'm picky but I'm not. I'm charmed by the variance in his word choice. He usually makes the first move beyond matching because I love it when a man knows what he wants and what he wants looks like me. I'm not picky about tattoos but he doesn't have any. There's probably a catfish credo about being appealing to most single women over 35.  They live in Beverly Hills or Santa Monica or Culver City but they're out of town for work.

This one had a picture that looked like any all American blonde adonis.

A few have been engineers. I've met businessmen that buy and sell minerals. They are archeologists. They are street planners in rural areas of America. They are airline pilots. They work in fields where years of schooling or luck, intuition and entrepreneurial grit have have given them financial comfort. All that's missing is a partner in love.

They want to know what my connections are. Will I have someone to answer to? Is there an angry clan that has my back? Am I close to my family or am I so lonely that I would do my very best to please him or help him when he runs into some terrible situation.

Working independently of a solid location means they travel. They want to take you with them. When they can, of course. But this also means they'll get stuck in a precarious situation that only the love of their life, that they met two weeks ago can bail them out.

They want to know what you do and how much you make. They want to know if you can take care of their needs and see it as helping each other out, but they ask first. Even before you've ever met or spoken on a phone and you will probably never meet in person.

This one actually broached the topic of being scammed. This doesn't usually happen, but he needed to gauge what he was working with.

Back to the question of how I will support him. He starts talking about vacation, suggesting the notion that he wants me to go with him. I may be thinking a local coffee shop after work, but he's hoping I will love the idea of an Aladdin type magic carpet ride.

Again, we talk of the cat fish. He's looking out for me. I can see this, right?

I thought the conversation would stop here, but hours later he started chatting again.

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He talks about the city I have always lived in as if it's a foreign place to me, but when I ask where he is, he takes the time to come up with an answer I'm almost certain a map search provided. Actually, the Virginia Robinson Gardens is a stop on my "go-do-be-see" list. It's on Elden Way. You should check it out. 

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There's something in his text that doesn't sound like New York or Cali.  He says "Mum" instead of "mom." His phrases are off a bit because he's not a native speaker, so I ask to give him the opportunity to come up with something solid.

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He sticks to his story and then this happens:

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The conversation goes back to the bread crumb hope that he will see me soon.  Soon is always a week or two out but never actually happens.

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More to come.  Will you be reading?

Can You Trust in Online Dating?

I'm a bit jaded lately.  I had a moment in the ladies room at work. It was a moment of conversation and connection and it was a moment where I was completely transparent with a co-worker and felt she was just as open with me.  We talked about a few things, and one of those is trust. Can I trust you with this?

I left work and got in my car and turned the key in the ignition.  I expected it to start and it did.  I expected it to get me home because I can trust my car and my (many) years of driving experience to get me home.  I hear a thud from the trunk and I expect it to be the water bottle I never opened from my last hike, because I trust no one has left a body in my trunk (although there's enough room).  I get home and put my key in the door and I expect the door to be locked, but open because I used my key on the locks I changed myself.  I flip on the lights and I expect them to come on.  I trust the things I rely on but people are different.

I've had drug testing for a job where there were protocols in place.  I had to lock my belongings in a locker, enter a bathroom alone and with no personal belongings and pee in a cup.  It was odd.  I had a different drug test where a woman literally watched me pee in a cup. I've had 6 pregnancies, many of which were in learning hospitals. I'm not shy and there was no potty time performance anxiety.  It was odd, but I was okay.  The woman watching me told me about devices and contraptions people come up with.  I imagine if you get paid to watch people pee, you must be paid for your distrust. I'm boring enough that I don't do drugs and even spent Thanksgiving weekend sober because I didn't feel like drinking.

There are many things I trust, and rarely people.  That was my point, right? Only, it's not entirely true.  I proved it in the bathroom at work today and most of the time when I'm completely transparent with others.  When I was younger, my friends knew I would tell them more than they ever wanted to know. I share what is on my heart and in my mind because I don't hide from my truth anymore. I'm especially up front with my feelings lately. The gift of humanity is the intricate array of emotions we can feel and the myriad words of expression we have at our disposal to relate and connect with others. I'm working on using them. When I'm in touch with my emotions enough to know what I feel, it would be a disservice to myself to lie about it. It's not my job to help others feel better about how I feel.  It's enough to lay it out.  Isn't it? See, I'm in this space of genuine doubt.

In blogging, I try to keep the focus on me.  You might hear a bit about my kids, or one of my obsessive observation moments, but for the most part, you get my interpretation of the life I get to live.  In that way, I don't know what to trust you with and if I'm violating the things I've been trusted with.  I want to someday write a book about my surrogate pregnancies, but I haven't figured out the lines between what is my story and where it steps on the privacy of the families I helped grow.

When I was younger, my Dad promised a horse back riding trip that he kept putting off.  Over 30 years later and as a grown ass woman, I still think of that, and that broken promise keeps me from breaking promises to my kids. At the end of the day, they won't remember what I did as much as what I promised to do and then failed on. That experience comes with a feeling.  I try to not to commit to what I don't want to do.  If my promise is all I can offer, I'd rather it be a beautiful gift, untarnished by failed expectation. Last night I was talking to Kid3 about the value of our word. He volunteered to be punished if he broke his word. I asked, "if you break your word, people will see you as a liar. Isn't that punishment enough that I wouldn't be able to trust you? I think that would hurt enough."

I gave my trust in love more than once.  Being single means the trust I had in the future with the company I gave my heart, then my promise to means it wasn't treasured and I had to dust it off and rebuild again on my own.  It's really hard to trust in romance. Once I decide to love, I'm all in.  There's no holding back as I let my heart do it's thing.  My head always objects, but my heart is stronger than that and I know the risk is always worth taking if he's worthy.  Love is not synonymous with trust. I love my kids but I wouldn't trust them with my candy stash. These men are the ones where I've let them walk away and lick my wounds on my own. I might see him months later, and have an inane conversation about cake that I will never eat because of gluten and he'll never touch because of the sugar.  There will be a moment that almost feels like regret and tastes bittersweet stinging the back of my throat. Or maybe he'll text me in a while to see how I'm doing and I won't mention that my pulse still quickens when he thinks of me randomly and I read his words a few times before replying with something equally non-committal.  I trusted and let go and I'm unwilling to trust again, even if I might really want to.

Online dating has really made my trust stretch in the way where the rubber band has snapped back and the backlash isn't pretty.  I have had people ask for money, or a credit card, or for me to receive, then cash a check. I have had men say hello and the reward for my kindness has been a request for sex or an unsolicited dick pic.  I've taken ownership of this by sharing screen shots with Facebook friends.  They laugh at the stupidity of these boys with me and it is hilarious until it's another Wednesday night and my pickiness . . . my mistrust - has me eating dinner alone again. Then it's just sad. I don't need a relationship but I would love company. I'm really open to company that doesn't feel like my agreement to meet for coffee suggests sex should be part of the night.

It's hard to trust when you don't have a gut check to keep things honest.  It's hard when people hide behind a keyboard and a profile.  It's hard to trust when I know the expectation of meeting someone online means he's already been cast aside because of the car he drives, or the work he does.  I know he's judged harshly for who he is because the good ones are often rejected for dumb reasons (my reasons are dumb, but I'm sticking to the looks one). This means he's probably lashing out in a way that feels powerful to him and in moments when my sadness over the situation screams louder than laughter, I wonder what would drive a man to act so horribly to me. How I choose is if he's beautiful or his pitch grabs my attention, I let it play out for a while.  I try to let him persuade me.  Again, I haven't been on an actual date since June, and I realize that when I like him I look for similarities and it often takes one really dumb phrase for me to start looking for differences.

The takeaway? I need to just rely on my gut and that means I won't continue looking online. I was walking through Kid3's school this morning.  I was dropping off cupcakes for his birthday tomorrow.  I think people at work have become immune to the way I walk, but at my son's school, I again remembered what affect that has had on people. People admire or hate the way I walk.  There is no in between space. As I left the school and headed out for the day, I intentionally walked around without music in my ears.  I smiled at others and had friendly greetings offered.  I'm still intimidating, but I think less so when I don't shut people out with my sound barrier. Either way, I want a different result, so I'm ready to try something new, and give another shot at this trust thing.

Tonight I'm taking a hard look at the men that have gotten my attention recently.  I want to really appreciate what attracted me to them and what called out to me enough to allow them to get under my skin.  I want to really understand what kept me from trusting them completely, because I know I didn't.  I need to fix that.  They're gone and I don't expect a return to their orbit because they'd have to recon with my gravity but I believe what is meant for me will always be mine.  I'm not greater than God or the Universe or Destiny.  I can't mess up the great plan that was created for my life or alter it from what is meant to be.  I can release what isn't mine because then I am open to what is.  Whatever that is.  I can be open to trust.

The Man Who Claimed to be Vin Diesel and Intuition Rewards

I don’t always have amazing instincts but on Sunday I was amazed at how things fell into place. I woke up Sunday morning after an uneventful and even dismal Saturday feeling sad about the rain changing my hiking plans. In one of my more inspired moments Sunday morning, I was in bed looking at my phone and felt like I should visit the Venice Canals.  It wasn’t one of the many places on my “Go-Do-Be List” but I wanted to go.  It was a rainy day, but paved roads and an umbrella were better than hiking in the mud through Malibu would have been.

I invited my family. They were all concerned about the rain and one sister felt it was a good day to stay in with some Pozole.  (Don’t wonder where my food joy comes from. It’s a family thing.) I ended up on another solo adventure and I was okay with it.

On my way out the door, I stopped at an ATM for cash.  I was shocked and happy to see a $20 waiting for me.  I had a brunch date with a girlfriend who had a million ideas I needed to hear.  She surprised me by covering my meal and I felt so carried and loved in that one act of kindness, aside from the many other ways she filled my cup. I felt connected with her and she encouraged me in glowing ways.  We parted and I drove toward the Canals, making an impromptu trip to the Hammer Museum.  It felt so good to be spontaneous.

I almost stopped into Starbucks for cocoa or a chai latte but felt like I needed to pass on that.  I was thinking of my tighter than I love budget and felt guilt in knowing I wouldn’t have hesitated for my kids. I got to the Canals and didn't walk far because the unleveled ground in heeled boots wasn’t my greatest idea. I walked to one corner and there were two boys, younger than my oldest, older than my youngest, selling hot chocolate.  They were selling homemade cocoa made with organic milk and homemade whipped cream. I got my hot drink for less money and encouraged two young entrepreneurs.

I was enjoying my cup on my way back to my car, walking less than a block when I walked past a friend.  She is someone I had met through a friend on Facebook and through the leadership course I took this summer and fall.  This was the second serendipitous meeting with her.  The first time was a few weeks ago in a similar moment of right time and place.  We walked past each other and it was only in the moment she was behind me that I realized I knew her.  I called out to her and when the connection was made, her hug felt like home. I walked less than a block on the one block she rarely ever walks.  She invited me to a lady’s night and I accepted.

We parted ways and I started heading east, but changed my mind and decided to go to Will Rogers Beach where I caught an amazing sunset. It was a day where I was expecting rain but never once used my windshield wipers or umbrella.  Good things happen when you expect them to.  The clouds were gone above the canals, but over the Pacific Ocean, it was a thick blanket with ephemeral cotton candy wisps here and there, and between the clouds and the sand kissed by the ocean, the sun stood long enough to shine on me and it felt like a private moment to bask in glowing glory. It was epic.  I appreciated not being home with soup in that moment.

I drove into Hollywood and found myself at an amazing property for this gathering.  Old Hollywood is full of adorable cottages built by Studios for the actors they hired to make history.  I was in a miniature compound created by United Artists for a few actors (whose names all escape me) and we ended up having the gathering in the empty home of Charlie Chaplin.  (It’s being sold and the houses are emptying for new ownership.)

It was a night of sisterhood and community. It was amazing and something I had never experienced before. There was a moment of announcing what we were struggling with as women, and a greater moment of working through it through movement and vocalizing. The end of the night was met with a “Fuck You” Piñata.  Seriously.

A piñata is a special thing for me now.  Growing up, it was what all the other kids had because it wasn’t my culture, but now my kids have had them.  A piñata is held high as a thing that is big and scary.  We face it blindly, but we face it bravely.  It’s held above as a place of hope and taken down by a stick that symbolizes righteousness and truth.  It’s for us to face our fears and annihilate them.  We took turns with a blindfold, then faced it openly with eyes open.  Our treats were cut flowers, tangerines, and gold coins and it was the most beautiful thing to sit on the floor with women who were laughing and helping clean and clear the space.  It was community and joy.  It was a great night to reflect on all the ways my intuition lead me to something special that day.

Online dating has been a special beast for me.  It has been a time of learning about myself and what matters to me. I started a Facebook album for all the boys that hold their highest value at their sexual aggression.   I don’t think I’ll find the next special person in my life online.  I'm still playing because I finally found the funny. I just need to walk around in public with more awareness and less hiding in loud music when out in public.  And maybe less open ogling of the beautiful men that like to run where I can appreciate the way that looks to me. (They have feelings too, Yessica.)

I like to follow my gut.  I often ask to meet right away.   I’d rather rely on a visceral gut reaction, than slowly fall for the words that melt the sharp edges I keep around me.  I want to know this person is real.  I want to know how my body responds because that tingle or prickle or warm feeling are what tell me the unspoken truths I need to know.  I don't want an emotional connection before my instincts have a chance to let me know if I should fight or flight or invite. There are a couple of men talking with me, and without a doubt, I know they are real.  I haven't decided if I want to go further. They all have pluses and negatives but is it enough to give up my free time? I haven't figured out the rest because they like to take it slow with texting first, then phone calls, then meeting.  Because, you know . . . I might bite or be crazy and attach too easily. (It could happen, in theory.  In practice, well, you have been reading along enough to know I don't like to keep them for too long, right?)

There was a special moment with a special man.  He approached me from Ok Cupid as Vin Diesel.  A beautiful, in my age range (if slightly above it), definitely my type with the bald head and beautiful body. There were moments of wonder but I couldn't shake the reaction in my belly. I never believed he was who he said he was, but his approach was very different. He was just a man looking to be distracted from work and stress and I was just a woman, texting between Purchase Orders at work.  There was a schedule to when we talked.  There was a need to keep distance.  I never heard his voice and he blamed never meeting on “his” fame.  It didn’t matter though.  He was just a man.  I was just a woman. Or he was just a fantasy. The really good kind.

He was the salt of the earth, man's man type.  I could sense the urgency of a life of hustle when he pushed me as we talked about my career.  In his short phrases, there was more love than hate toward exercise from him.  The way he talked about his kids . . . I imagined bringing him around my kids and it wasn't paralyzing fear and Momma bear hackles raised. We talked sex, and he made me feel like a woman, not an object.  He was an alpha male in his aggression, but not the type that has to announce it as something he wore to be noticed.  It was in who he was and an extension in all he said and did. Who he was taught me about who I am.  In the months of dating since my first crush in 15 years this past January, this was the first time I was really excited and could picture more than what was right now.  I could imagine something deeper and meaningful that was more than the libido of a woman approaching 40.

I'm not big on celebrities.  I spent some time as a tv extra.  I was on set long enough to discover all of my celebrity man crushes were much shorter than I imagined and their soft glow dimmed for me.  I have several friends that list their job title as "actor" and it's enough to pay the bills.  I don't worship them.  We're friends.  Actually, I'm not a great friend.  They'll ask their Facebook friends (including me) to watch their latest show and I rarely do.  I can be a friend, just not a fan.  And truthfully, if I ever had a moment where my friends or strangers watched me, then cheered on as I billed the heck out of our client after I've tackled an intricate PO, I'd be freaked out.  As far as this celebrity, I've maybe watched three of the many movies he's been in during his really great career.  I just don't watch movies and television.  That number didn't increase with him.

As we were texting and talking, there were moments that shocked me because I had an emotional response.  It was the strangest paradox.  I knew he was lying and in many ways, just part of my imagination, but the parts of him that I experienced when he wasn’t telling me about this celebrity’s life were genuine.  My intuition . . . That gut I trust . . . believes he’s capable of being the one . . . If he were capable of being transparent with me.  And I know the craziness in that.  At the same time I can't shake the idea that my Warrior Dragon Slayer could be a woman that knew just what I needed to hear. But it was a catfish, and he did ask for money.  Twice.

At the end of the day, this celebrity has a new fan.  It’s not that I want to imagine this celebrity as the man I care for.  He’s a genuinely great person from what I learned as I started picking apart the lies and learning about the causes I was asked to fund. These causes are real.  This is genuinely a good person that uses his name to further the causes close to his heart.  He's a family man and yes, that's hot.  Actually, the age he's at now with his soft laugh lines . . . the look of maturity . . . I may not have had a man crush, but I do now.  (What is it with bald heads?)

My instincts told me not to trust him. My instincts told me he could be the type of man I want but that part where I could trust him completely matters to me and it wasn't part of our relationship. Is it a relationship if you've never met?

I felt things.  Real.  Imagined.  Superficial, or soul deep.  He made me feel things. Happy things.  Sad things.  Things I couldn't understand or simplify. I never heard his voice say my name. I never saw a picture private enough to believe it wasn't stolen from a website. I never saw him in person. I felt love and excitement. I felt things I hadn't felt in decades. I must be still feeling those things if I'm protecting him by keeping that close to me.  I protect the ones I care about. Soon I'll get to stop caring, right? If all I got from him was a moment of deep and unexpected feelings, a poem with him as my muse and a new appreciation of a few songs, that will be enough. He gave me words and that was enough. His juice was worthy of my squeeze.

My muse inspired . . .

Infatuation

Alpha Female

What is Romance?

Things I Had Forgotten

A Rose by Any Other Name

Playlist

He's not real.

You have never heard his voice.

You have never met him.

You communicate through an app.

You had a schedule.

He's gone, but he made you feel and that's enough.

Open hands release and receive. And that was my lesson.

In a day that carried me from one amazing moment to another, I was gifted with so much wonder that it was a moment of peace to finally let go of the illusion I could never believe in.

 

 

What is Romance?

My latest dating foray became a lesson learned and I’m back to swiping.  I felt things.  I remembered how music can pull you closer and swapping songs can be powerful. I learned a lot about myself.  I get to figure out what it is to be in a relationship without being paranoid that I could cause jealousy in someone else. Jealousy and insecurity are like stress and fear, right? You can’t measure them.  They’re made up in your head and taking responsibility of your life means no one else can give or take them away.  I just get to internalize that to overpower reactions I learned over 16 years ago. I wish I had tears for him this latest guy because he made me feel so many great things, but I don’t.

In a swipe-happy moment, I was approached by an inbox message, and he wasn’t offensive or entirely drool worthy.  We batted banter back and forth for a bit and then he asked me if I’m romantic.  He wanted to know what kind of romantic things I like.  It sparked thought and I’m going with it.  Naturally his next question involved what sex with my ex was like and that’s when he lost that dull glow of maybe and ended up in the land of no. Boys.

What is romantic to me?

Romance can't be scripted. It's about seeing the person you care about and catering to their needs and desires. It wouldn't be romantic if it didn't come from a place of love as a reflection of the intimacy granted through trust.

So maybe that’s a bit heavy.  Let me pull and stretch this so it lands and settles in the fine lines for you.

The easy answer is that romance isn’t about sex but ways we make others feel loved and cared for. It’s about idealizing reality.  I’m fairly irritated by men that can’t see past sex when looking at me or talking to me.  A friend recently said I’m brutal.  The truth is I’m very gentle and caring for the men that saw me as a person.  The men that see me more as an option so they aren’t stuck alone and rubbing one out get treated harshly.  It’s not that I try to be mean, but they don’t try to treat me like a human.  I might enjoy posting those conversations to my Instagram lately.  I get comments that tell me I’m not the only one.

Have you ever received a gift that you didn’t want? I know I have.  I’ve looked at it, and thought wow, you got me exactly what you would want.  Of course, my upbringing means you would have only seen my smile.  I would have hugged you.  I would have tried my best to use it and later let you know I did, but that doesn’t mean I felt loved in receiving it. It feels like being used to make someone feel good about themselves through the appearance of their generosity.

I buy my own lingerie, flowers, jewelry and quiet dinners.  Thankyouverymuch.

Romance isn’t about buying stuff.  It’s not about impressing me with how much you can spend on me.  It’s about taking the time to do what I like in a way that doesn’t feel like it’s a sacrifice I’m indebted to, but a moment where I’m so important that the thing we’re doing is important to you just because I am important to you.

Romance isn’t about 5 second underwear that you get to rip off me, but something you pick out just to worship me in.

Romance is preparing a meal - not to create a sexual atmosphere but because you don’t want me to add another thing to my day, or you want to feed me (a man feeding me is almost as hot as a man that is good with kids). Maybe it’s about showing me something special to you.  Not because you need to increase a fan base, but because you love what you are excited about so much that you think it would improve my mood.

Romance is about wanting to bring someone else joy or love or peace because that person’s wellbeing is what brings you joy.

In love, we offer our trust and it’s either reflected or betrayed.  Rarely it meets a solid wall where it doesn’t affect the person that was trusted.  In the intimacy exchange, we see into each other and breathe who we are into someone else, hoping this vulnerability gives the love it receives.

How incredible is it to see someone in the promise of this exchange? How powerful would it be to take the love and trust that was offered, see what was said and what stood without voice, and offer it as a gift.  To me, this is romance.

Romance is seeing that I like flowers, but noticing which ones I like, rather than picking any bouquet available. It's about gifting me with flowers that will give me a private show of beauty before dying for me as they fade and petals fall.  It's not something that only shows up as an apology.

It’s a date that takes me into who he is and wants to show me because it is an offering of his intimacy.  It’s showing me his adorable geek out as he is digging through comic books and wants to show me what only he and a handful of other people would know. It's holding my hand through a crowd to make sure I don't get lost or fall behind because he needs me to be where he is.

Romance is letting me in and seeing where I’ve allowed someone else in and giving back in a way that honors the open capacity to be that we have shared in our exchange of trust through the fragility of our vulnerabilities.

I can be brutal, but at the heart of who I am, I really am a hopeless romantic.

Music Tied To Emotions in a Playlist for a Man

There was a moment when a playlist was born today.  I tend create music playlists that are about an encouragement I'm in need of.  They speak to me in ways that build me up. When I no longer need that message, I will create a new list. This one was different. It wasn't about motivation.   I started a playlist a week or two ago based on a someone else's list that I fell in love with, but there were a few songs that in the last couple of days made me think of a man I have been chatting with. He shared songs with me today and I heard them with new ears.  With a perspective shift, I went from giggling to blinking away tears. This playlist is all about one person. It's about wanting music to remind me of him and manufacturing emotions close to what he makes me feel. I haven't done that since the man I was into right before the man I married. My first thought was, "what the fuck, miss? I didn't order a side of feelings with my fries."  Then it hit me in all the terrifying ways.

I've been this unfeeling, uninterested person, content in the superficial distance I kept everyone at. I had fun left swiping and going out alone. For the first time last night I wanted specific company and it was new and sticky and not my normal.

I was a faithful wife and the idea of having feelings for someone wasn't something I was interested in.  I had a first crush in 15 years in January.  It was entirely one sided and silly.  But the idea of being open to looking at someone that wasn't my husband was a huge deal. My second was in May or June.  He was sweet and fun to obsess over, but with both men, I never imagined introducing them to my kids.  They were never more than a silly distraction.  They were safe and meaningless.  The feelings I got to play in today are very different and in some ways I haven’t felt this way since high school.  There's something almost pure and so far from predatory. In being me and the ways he's okay with that, I forgot about an endgame and there isn't one. It's a free fall and I didn't realize I floated off the ground.

These feelings are everything I hoped for when I started dating in May, but the out of control feeling and the hope that came with it was a lot to process.  It was entirely unexpected. What I wanted looked like more than what this is right now and that was big.  I don't normally want more than the moment and since I started dating as a single mom, I never have imagined more than a playmate for me that would never meet my kids.  I imagined him spending time with all of us.

I mean, he's seriously beautiful but I'm not objectifying him for you because it's secondary to what he makes me feel. And there's a proprietary shift where I have no interest in sharing what I want to be only mine. There was a man running on the pier last night and I usually appreciate that, but only noticed that I didn't care about a topless man running past me until he had already passed me by.

I realized it's easy to love unconditionally when you aren't in danger of falling in world shifting love.  When the risk is a reality rather than some vague ideal, it is hard to remain present in the moment and take it for what it is.  I imagined all the ways I wanted more and the many reasons why I could never have it and the anxiety of a loss I haven't experienced was something I was already feeling the pain of. Within 3 minutes, I imagined a really great relationship was dead and as crazy as that was, it felt real and intense. (Overthinking everything intensely is a superpower. We know this by now, right?)

Love is an intense emotion.  I'm a firm believer that we make a choice to love or not love, and the feelings follow.  We make a choice to let someone in and to find the ways we are similar and how we can relate to them.  We look at who they are and how their paths fit with the ones we've walked in life. I don't remember choosing but I did at some point.

There's a free fall.  There's a moment when the emotion is too strong to fight and we fall freely, hoping that there is someone rising to meet us.  We love the feeling and can't get enough.  We want to be surrounded by love and covered in its warmth, seduced by its smell.

It's an addiction.  We will do what it takes to have the love we need.  We sacrifice our time and dreams and alter our goals.  We give and shift what we don't have to make it work.  We make love into our god and when this deity removes her favor, we are lost in the abyss of all we expected, showing us how far from the earth we've floated and the crash that is coming can be delayed but is inevitable.

I had to remind myself I was overthinking it, and missing out on the present moment of joy he was offering me by being open to my transparency.

It's a short playlist for now, but it's growing and I'm going with it, whatever this becomes. Even if it doesn't. It'll run it's course, big or small, and I will welcome being changed by it. What fun is living if I am too afraid to share my life with someone so easy to share with? Sometimes just knowing desiccated areas of your heart can be revived is enough.

  • CALLmeKAT, Toxic
  • Boyce Avenue, It Will Rain
  • Boyce Avenue, Just Can't Get Enough
  • Jasmine Thompson, Like I'm Gonna Lose You
  • Lo-Fang, You're the One That I Want
  • Lotte Kestner, Halo
  • Ortopilot, Make You Feel My Love
  • Lukas Graham, 7 Years
  • Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, Growing Up (feat. Ed Sheeran)
  • Drake, One Dance (Feat. Wizkid & Kyla)
  • Drake, Controlla

 

Silly Boys Online and the Men I'm Raising

It's Tuesday and my last night with the boys until Monday night.  I was going back and forth about what to do when I picked them up but finalized my decision when I picked them up and they grilled me about an absentee ballot I cast a weekend or two ago. I can't control an outcome, but I can decide on my reaction and interpretation.  I decided we were eating out and away from news. This choice looked like traffic after a long day at work.  Kid1 didn't want to go at first, but loved the food so much he wanted to keep the bag we brought our leftovers in so he could tell his friends to try it out.  Kid2 was mellow and happy because he's the adventurous one that loves new tastes.  He'll eat fresh water eel and experiment with sushi. Our next adventure for him is Indian food because he tasted curry in a dip and loved it.  Kid3 was so full of energy from his day and he wanted to excitedly tell me about every moment of it.  He was loud and exuberant.  He made sure I caught and could repeat details.  After the ups and stresses of a full shift, the internet being down for a bit at work, sorting out documents by hand and the highs of random texts that made me smile all day, I was exhausted, but I gave him 110% of what I had for him, digging deep so he didn't feel my deficits.  We got our food and Kid1 and Kid2 were in a silent slurping heaven, with muttered gratitude between bites. Kid3 was immediately nauseous with the smells of Japanese food that doesn't look like sushi.  We all ate a bit faster so he could get home and later complain he's starving.

When my only job was to raise a family as mom, I did all of the cooking at home from scratch.  I seared and simmered over the stove, running to the laundry room to swap loads of clothes or bang through a sink of dishes, breaking my nails that weren't bitten down to the quick.  Help looked like the times we ate out.  We piled into the car and headed to a restaurant I usually didn't like so we could sit quietly, lost in the places our devices allowed us to escape to. Single parenthood means we've made some life style changes and family meals in restaurants took a major hit.

Tonight we went to a restaurant that a friend of mine manages.  He was off, but I wanted to check out what his Kingdom looked like.  He is the boss in way that would be so hot to me if he wasn't gay and therefore not into me. (How into me a man is has a lot to do with my attraction.)  I love that we have the same taste in men and plenty to talk about when we share eye candy moments. He has dark hair and beautiful eyes with the most alluring lilt to his voice.  He's beautiful. He gives the greatest hugs and one day he'll make some man really happy.  And maybe I'm a bit biased towards a man that has fed me more than once.

As we were sitting I watched my boys interact.  I watched their excitement.  I honored a wish to not take pictures of them.  They were discussing politics with phrases they borrowed, but concepts they tied together themselves.  Kid3 believed we could get Kid1 to vote illegally just to contribute their beliefs. It was a moment where I sat in awe of the growing they've done over the last year.  I am so proud of my boys.  I made them with my body!

At that moment . . . at the peak of my happy momma feelings I got a text from a man I had forgotten about.  I don't think I was ever fully into him.  I would have blocked him a lot sooner if I wasn't so amused by his texts.  I directed him to this blog and told him to call me if I didn't scare him away.  He never did call me.

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The laughs keep coming from this one and I did finally block him. I'm usually nicer to men in general but there is nothing about him I would want to protect and I'm not always nice.

I wouldn't call myself a male hater.  I love men. I love the way they look and smell.  I love their strength.  I love the way they think in the direct lines of logic.  I love the way they see things the way I can't.  Ultimately I would love to find a man who I believe in and would be willing to submit to.  It wouldn't be out of fear but out of respect. He wanted to be the Alpha Male, but he was far from my ideal and he didn't get it in the texts I ignored or the kindness I offered in scaring him away with my authenticity here.  I knew it would make him walk.  He's not the droid (or man) I'm looking for.  I never entertained the idea of him meeting my boys and I was never interested in giving up my alone time for him.

My laughter died down and my boys asked what was funny.  I didn't explain that he suggested I might want to call him after insulting me when I wasn't making any effort to be on his radar to begin with. Instead I told them there was a silly boy that thought their mom was dumb or that he meant enough to hurt my feelings.  He just didn't have that power.

I realized that we were in a perfect space as a family.  As mom, I'm raising men to be proud of.  (Still working on those times when Kid3 rage quits.) Apart, I'm sure their Dad is doing better than he ever did as my spouse and I can relax in the knowledge that we're doing right by them.  I don't have to worry about them when I don't have custody.

As far as dating, setting that bar really high and raising it with each solid man that I meet, whether or not he's the one for me, is the right choice.  I was having a moment in the last few days, wondering if maybe the bar is too high.  I got my answer yesterday, and no, it's not too high.  I could probably even raise it to match the man that's been making me smile like a blushing idiot all day. (I don't intimidate him.) Deciding on what I want and knowing when I'm not looking at it feels powerful. I don't feel powerful in a dominant aggressive way, but in the way where I get to control my life, unmoved by insignificance.  I don't have to believe someone else's value of me because I know who I'm showing up as to myself and to the only boys that really matter to me - the ones that are part of me and grew strong right under my heart.

I think about who I was a handful of years ago.  This boy might have hurt my feelings back then.  I've never met him in person and we never had much to discuss through text.  He read enough of my blog to feel threatened enough to do more than just fade away.  It broke whatever false kindness he thought was enough for me to offer something he wasn't even worthy enough to look at.  Call it ego.  I know my worth.  Once upon a time, I might have valued his opinion with only a glimpse of my personality through my words, and it might have mattered more than my desires for my life.  That's insane to me now.  I like that it's so crazy because this life I get to lead is that important to me.