Monday, August 11, 2014

Dating Theory

This past weekend, I spent a few hours in bed with a guy that I'd been trying to meet for a long time.  I'd first contacted him online back in the beginning of the year, but then I had to go to Florida to handle some matters for my mother's estate, and I'd been a bit overwrought and then a lot busy, and I just dropped the ball.  But I contacted him again a couple of weeks ago, and after he accepted my apology, I floated the possibility of a date, and he'd said that he was very busy (Maybe it's the same everywhere: I don't know.  But in the DC area, when you ask any guy how he's been, the answer is always "busy.") but that he would like to meet me, and that we would have sex on the first date.

I had some reservations about his pronouncement.  I think sex on the first date is a fine idea, but in my experience, a lot of guys get pretty freaked out by sex on the first date.  They assume, I think, that because you want to fuck them, that's really your only (or at least primary) interest in them.  Or something like that: who really knows what guys think?  Most of them don't really understand themselves, and if they do, they won't tell you.  I have long since ceased to get angry over this state of affairs, but it's nonetheless a fact.

In any case, this guy gave me his phone number, so I called him Sunday, and he explained to me that he always liked to have sex right away because people are at their most unguarded right after sex, so you have the best conversations then.  Also, he said, he always knows within ten minutes of meeting someone whether or not he's going to be romantically interested in him.  Dating, he explained, is like buying a house.  You know right away whether or not you want the house.  Anything after the first ten minutes with a guy is basically just an extended home inspection where you determine the flaws and decide whether you can live with them.

What he said made a lot of sense to me, but I mentioned to him my experience of guys meeting me, having great sex with me, and then freaking out because (gasp!) we had sex on the first date, and he said, "Those guys are fucked up, and you don't want anything to do with them, anyway."  He also said that his way was much more efficient.

On some gut level, I agree with this guy's theory.  I (and I think I'm remarkably un-fucked up, though I acknowledge that I'm not objective) never freak out because I had sex with a guy on a first date, and I always feel like I have the best conversations post-coitally (or intra-coitally, of you talk during or go for a second round) precisely because everyone's less guarded.  And God knows that coffee or dinner can be a very painful first date experience if the guy is a putz.

On the other hand, I've noticed among my friends and among guys online what seems to me to be a tendency to dismiss guys out of hand for what strike me as remarkably shallow reasons. And I remember thinking that the advice I read somewhere to never write a guy off until after the third date made sense, at least if the first date isn't an unmitigated disaster.  Men often have a lot of hidden depths, and they are often very bad at communicating them.

Anyway, this guy's forthrightness was very refreshing, and after twenty minutes or so on the phone, he invited me over for a shower, sex, and conversation, in no particular order, and about three hours later, we agreed that we could probably be good friends but that there was no serious romantic potential.  And getting to that point involved a significant amount of fun, though perhaps not as much fun as one might have getting to a different conclusion.

So efficient, yes.  Fun, yes.  Probably not for everyone, though.  As well as that process might work for me, I try to keep in mind that what works for me won't necessarily work for other people, and there might be some great guy out there that I could get into a relationship with but only if I wait until the third date to bed him.  If I even want a relationship that is.  Sometimes I think I do, but then again, I have a perfectly good house already, and it did very well on the home inspection.

Friday, July 25, 2014

The Year That Was

So, yeah, it's been almost a year since I posted.  I think that excuses for long absences are self-indulgent, but once it gets to be more than a few months, I also feel like I have to at least acknowledge the hiatus.

Anyway, I don't have any explanation for the first couple of months of not posting -- beyond the obvious lack of something to say -- but then shit really did start to happen.  Last December, my daughters and I were down in Florida for a just-before-Christmas visit with my mother.  It was a Saturday, and she made us all breakfast, and then the girls and I went shopping for a couple of hours, and when we got home my mother was dead.

It took us a few minutes to figure this out because she was sitting in a chair at the kitchen table, and it looked like she'd fallen asleep, so we all tiptoed past her.  Then when I came out to talk to her about what was going on with the rest of the day, she didn't answer, and then, well, I couldn't find a pulse, and my oldest called 911, and there followed a lot of CPR and paramedics and police officers and funeral home employees and calls to relatives and lawyers and and and. 

I don't know what all else to say about it.  I've had a long time to process it now, and as deaths go, it was maybe about as good as we could have hoped for?  There's every indication that she went very suddenly, and she had just spent time with us, and I guess that's what she would have wanted.  My father died four years ago, after a long illness and a period in a rest home, and overall, quick is better.  But still, it's undeniable that having your mother die sucks, and it was not something I was expecting to have to deal with for another ten years.

And having no parents at all is just weird.  As Mr. Wilde said, "To lose one parent may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose both looks like carelessness."  I find that statement sits well with the surrealness of suddenly being an orphan/patriarch at 52. 

Anyway, a lot of the last eight months that wasn't taken up by work or the kids has been taken up by estate management.  My brother and I were named as co-personal representatives (Florida doesn't have executors), but everyone agreed that it would be better if I handled the estate administration. (So much paperwork!) It's a relatively modest estate, and when it's all done, the 1/3 of it that I get won't be enough to change my life currently, but it might be enough -- if prudently invested -- to let me retire a couple of years earlier.  And given that I'd expected to inherit nothing but some pictures and perhaps have to pay some nursing home costs, I'm fortunate to be getting anything.  But I'll be glad when the administration is finished.

In other matters, life continues apace.  At the end of this year, I will have been at the same firm for ten years, and I appreciate the stability among so much change.  My oldest daughter returns to Bolivia next week to do her second year of teaching fourth grade there.  I was surprised that she decided to return, but I'm pretty sure this will be her last year there. She loves the kids and teaching, but there's been some culture shock ("all the men are Catholic and sexist").

My youngest goes off to college this fall.  She'll be attending St. Mary's, in Southern Maryland.  I'm really glad that's where she chose to go.  The college admissions process these days is nothing like it was when I was a senior in high school.  These days, almost everyone uses the same application form, and it is, apparently, a somewhat frequent practice for colleges to increase applications by offering to waive the applications fee.  At that point, the applicant really only has to click her mouse to apply, which is why my youngest had offers of admissions from places like Hofstra and Wichita State (prompting the only absolute declaration I made during the entire process: "I may be a friend of Dorothy, but I am NOT sending you to fucking Kansas").  But in the end, she went for a good school that's only two hours away and that won't leave her with a lot of debt on graduation.  I don't know how I ended up with such sensible children, but I'm both proud and grateful.

All of this together means that in about another month, I'll become an empty nester (unless you count Luna, who's as sweetly weird as ever), for at least nine months of the year.  I have no idea how I'm going to cope with that, and I'm a little nervous about it, but I reckon I'll adjust.  Maybe I'll blog more.  Seriously, I might, but for obvious reasons, don't hold your breath on that one.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

The Week That Was

Sacred or profane? Your choice.

I was at church this past Sunday, and the choir director told me that she wanted me to provide the music for a service at the end of October.  She said, "The topic is sin."  I said, "Sin? Ooooh!" She said, "Yeah, we thought you'd say that.  We thought of sin and right away we thought of you."

So when people think of sin, they think of me.  FUCK YEAH!  I feel like I've arrived.

In other choir news, at practice Thursday, the director gave me a fat solo in a gospel piece the choir is doing in a couple of weeks.  So, I guess when people think of gospel, they also think of me.  And, truthfully, both the sin and gospel associations are so appropriate that it's tough to think of which is more apt.  Or which I like more.


I believe I am in the midst of another dating-type situation going south, and because this now happens with some minor frequency, I have developed a new acronym: YARD, or Yet Another Romantic Disappointment.

Please note that I have used "acronym" appropriately here.  People these days (the bastards!) routinely use "acronym" when they should use "abbreviation."  An acronym is (properly, that is: the descriptivist motherfuckers who run our online dictionaries these days will change the definition of a word any time a few people start misusing it) an abbreviation that can be pronounced on its own.  So, for example, if I'm talking about a friend with privileges, and I use the term FWP, that can be either a simple abbreviation -- if you say "eff double you pee" -- or it can be an acronym -- if you say "fwip," like I do.  The relative ease of making that an acronym is why I prefer FWP to the more common FWB.  I think that saying "fwib" sounds ungainly and a little ridiculous.  YMMV (abbreviation, not acronym, thanks).

Anyway, having this particular brand spanking new acronym is, on the whole, better than having this particular guy, and I'm sure I'll have plenty of occasions to use it in the future.

I think "Descriptivist Motherfuckers" would be a great name for a punk band.  Sadly, I don't play any instruments, and my voice is all wrong for being a punk front man. Still, a boy can dream.

Tangentially, am I the only one who's amazed at how little time it took for "motherfucker" to go from being taboo to commonplace?  Five or six years ago, it's something I would never have said (and, yes, I know I'm late to the motherfucking party), and nowadays it elicits not a twinge.  I'm not sure what's left that you can call someone if you truly want to offend him.  I'm partial to "douchenozzle" for people I legitimately despise, but I'm not sure that really bothers anyone, either. Alas.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Let's Pretend It's Zen

So at this very moment, I'm sitting in my office on a Saturday, and I want so very badly to avoid doing what I should be doing that I'm going to update my blog.  It's not that I don't want to update my blog, it's just that my last post was going-on-a-year ago and should have been followed up with more details of my (soooooo great!) trip to Peru, and I feel somewhat sheepish about even posting after never having gone to the trouble of uploading my pictures and giving you a rundown of my (soooooo great!) vacation, but, hey, that was a long while ago, and I'm meant to get better at living in the moment, right?  Let's pretend it's zen, rather than laziness, that has me posting this here right now.

Life continues apace, and to while life is undeniably good, I'm having some adjustment difficulties with the transitional nature of my early fifties.  For such a long time now, I've defined myself by my relationships to other people.  Parent, mostly, but also husband and partner to some (relatively minor) extent, and right now I'm facing a time where it could all be about me.  Me me me.  My younger daughter is in her senior year of high school, and her plans are in no way shape or form set, but they definitely included going somewhere else.  My older daughter is currently teaching elementary school in Cochabamba, Bolivia, and I reckon she'll be back stateside in a year or so, but I think there's a good chance she'll move to another part of the country. 

In the past, at least since I came out, when the twin time sinks of work and parenthood allowed me any free time, I mostly used that time for horizontal pursuits.  And I have been really good and successful with that, but if I'm going to have more time and/or mental energy freed up by the diminution of parental responsibilities, I don't think that bedding men is going to be enough.  And, honestly, while I feel like my slut years represent time well spent, I am getting to the point where the hunt has gotten both easier and less fulfilling than it used to be.  I kind of want something more.  Or maybe something else.  I feel like if I'm going to be on my own, then I need to be more interesting to myself. 

I've been doing some dating recently, and I guess it would be nice if that turned into something more long term, but I just don't think I'm ever going to be any good at dating.  I don't know how it is that Logo hasn't approached me to do a reality show where they shoot me going on dates and then bring in a panel of experts to tell the viewers what I'm doing wrong.  I think that could be both comical and instructive.  I usually know what I'm doing wrong, of course, but I seem to be powerless to stop doing it.  Part of it is that the available dating pool is mostly crazy men, but most of it is my own misdeeds.  And, truly, I don't mind all that much.  I am more amused than abashed by my misadventures.  And I think being more successful at dating probably would require me to be someone I'm not, and I'd sooner not bother.

Anyway, dating isn't the answer.  Working more/harder (God, no) isn't the answer.  Having more sex isn't the answer (Too bad: is there some way I can make myself shallow enough so that I could find having lots and lots of casual sex to be nourishing to my soul?  If there is, let me know, ok?).  But the answer(s) is(are) out there.  And, hey, maybe posting regularly is a good start.  If so, I'll probably post again soon.  If not, then you'll probably here from me again next April or so.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

TED´s Excellent Andean Adventure - Part I

And let me just say, right up front, that before you judge, YOU should try typing on a Peruvian keyboard while slightly drunk.  Fun fact: when typing a blog entry in Peru, almost every word, even ¨Peru,¨ gets highlighted as a spelling error.

Anyway, I am having a great time in Peru.  I will post some details at length later (I'm keeping notes), but for right now, please enjoy this small sampling of some of the street art from the Miraflores district of Lima.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012


So, if memory serves (meaning that I'm too lazy to look it up), two, three, or four years ago on one of my blogs, I said that I was going to make the day after the final tax deadline the day when I allowed myself to whinge on my blog. And then I never did it again because, well, whinging is very, very common in the blog world, and it's almost always tiresome, even when it's well done (i.e., rarely). Also, I have a strong inhibition against whinging. I have an even stronger inhibition about whining, which is why I'm using the British version: it makes doing it more palatable somehow. Which is strange, when you consider the U.K.'s reputation for barely palatable food. But I digress. Of course.

Anyway, this past filing deadline (for those of you who don't know -- i.e., everyone -- Americans who can't or won't get their returns filed by the normal April 15th deadline can get an extension to October 15th; this means that when you get close to 10/15, what you have left are a) the most difficult returns, and b) no possibility of a further extension) was especially intense, and I went three weeks without even a Sunday off, and I guess I could whinge about that, but I knew what I was getting into when I took this career and this job, so it would be bad form to complain. Besides, after all these years, I'm kind of used to it, and when you get to the Friday before the deadline and realize that all of your work is done, there's a certain level of elation. And then having a weekend off is suddenly a big deal, and that's kind of great.

The thing that I'd really like to complain about, of course, is politics. Almost everyone I know considers me very laid back, sometimes to a fault, so they would be surprised if they could hear my inner monologue about American politics, which boils down to "Really?" and "AAAAAAAAAAGH!" It depends on the day which of those two predominates, but let's just say there are plenty of both. But I'm not going to say much more than that because it's impossible for me to talk about American politics without eventually concluding that a substantial number of my countrymen are idiots, and then heading down the rabbit hole of whether particular people are stupid or evil and how blurry the distinction can become.

But maybe "idiots" isn't even fair. I have long since concluded that the world has become such a complicated place that we who live here aren't intelligent enough to handle it. What I mean by that is that there are so many complexities in so many areas that no one person is smart enough to understand everything that needs to be understood to get by. Even if you're a rocket scientist, chances are you don't understand tax law. And if you're a tax whiz, like me, you might still not understand very well how your car works, even if you know how to change a tire and the oil.

 So most of us, myself included, end up relying on experts. And that works out pretty well with things like auto repair because even if you don't know a tachometer from tachycardia, there are mechanisms by which you can find out whether your mechanic is competent and/or honest. But these mechanisms fail in the political sphere.  If you're getting your information from people who are only pretending to be impartial when, in fact, they have an axe to grind AND (this is important) you don't have a healthy level of skepticism, then you end up like this guy:

Where to begin?*  As a general rule, I don't favor bumper stickers.  I'm willing to give you two, or possibly three, but after that, you devolve pretty quickly into eccentricity slouching towards madness.  Even if your bumper stickers are all things I agree with, I don't think you need to wear your heart on your bumper. 

That said, I suppose I'm a pseudo-hypocrite because while I don't have any bumper stickers on my car at the moment, I do have a yard sign supporting Maryland ballot question 6. I'll be voting absentee this year, for the first time ever, because I'll be returning from Peru on the day after election day.  And it'll be an even longer flight if Willard wins. Visit Peru and come home to a Republican victory.  That has the potential to be the steepest descent ever.

Romney's very candidacy is incomprehensible to me, but let me leave that alone for a moment and pivot to a couple of other things that I also don't get, but that I managed to take a picture of.

Let's start with Martha Stewart pet toys.  Really?  Really:

It strengthens, if only a bit, my faith in humanity that these were on clearance because no one was buying them.  I have nothing particular against Martha Stewart, most of the time, but pet toys really doesn't seem like a natural fit for her brand.  When I saw these at PetSmart, I averted my eyes and quickly purchased a different brand of toy to replace one that Luna had chewed to bits after months of diligent effort.

Speaking of Luna, I was out walking her  a couple of weeks ago when I spotted this:

Usually, Americans' fascination with their NFL teams bugs me a little, but when someone goes to all the trouble necessary to put a pair of ten-foot, inflatable football players, I have to give them a) some grudging respect for effort, and b) my sympathy over their addiction.  DC-area football fans are particularly rabid, which cannot help but intensify their frustration when the Redskins fall short yet again.  In my youth, I was a rabid Skins fan, and I would like to say that I gave it up out of solidarity with native Americans, but I have to admit that naming sports teams after indigenous peoples is something that doesn't really bother me, though I do draw the line at anything involving tomahawk chops or other weapons of individual destruction.  Grow up, sports fans.

Off topic, and totally comprehensible:

Here are two quotes from a semi-recent post from Mimi Smartypants:

Nicholson Baker is somewhat well known for writing about sex. For the record, I don’t particularly care if he writes about sex, although the sex certainly deteriorates with each of his “sex books.” Vox was semi-enjoyable as a wank book, Fermata was an elaborately sick postmodern fantasy about how it’s kind of okay to rape as long as you are extra-considerate and make sure your victim enjoys herself, and House of Holes is an unreadable disaster that lurches from scene to scene while employing some of the most ludicrous sex-talk ever. “Fill my mouth with your manly nutbag?” Please.

It has become something of a mission for me to work the phrases "Apply the wire brush of knowledge to the foreskin of ignorance" and "Fill my mouth with your manly nutbag" into my personal discourse.  I reckon the former belongs in a political debate (I can't believe Joe Biden didn't use it.) while the latter needs to be pillow talk, uttered -- obviously -- to someone with whom I never again want to share a pillow.  I have, as yet, been unsuccessful on both counts, but I think you'll agree that it's a worthwhile project, and I encourage you to take up the cause.  If you manage to say either of those, let me know, ok?

*You'll note that the guy is a cat owner, and I point this out only because I understand that some sort of microorganism that cats carry can end up in human brains.  I don't believe the full extent of the effects of this infestation is known yet, but maybe we can blame birtherism on the cats.  Then again, in medieval times, they blamed the plague on the cats, and the cats were, in fact, helping to keep the true disease vectors (the rats) in check, so maybe we shouldn't be too quick to blame Fluffy. 

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

You're Meant To Be Lazy in Summer, Right?

Sometime this past Friday afternoon, I made a checklist of the things that I needed/wanted to get accomplished this past weekend.  It seemed like a pretty good list at the time, but yesterday morning when I was getting ready for work, I looked at it again, and 90% of it was still unchecked.  As usual, the problem isn't that I'm lazy: the problem is unrealistic expectations.  Next weekend, I'm going to put items like "sleep in," "play video games," and "breathe" on the list. 

To the Dogs

Speaking of sleeping and breathing, we did have a guest this weekend.  Greyhound Welfare, the organization we adopted Luna from, has a mailing list, and people sometimes post there in hopes of finding a greyhound-owning sitter for when they're going to be out of town.  Someone local sent a short-notice email last week, so I said I'd take care of her grey.  I thought it would be fun for Luna to have some company and a good idea to start sitting for other dogs so that people might return the favor if I want to travel dogless sometime.  Anyway, here are Luna and RC, in an action shot.

That was about the most energetic RC was for the entire weekend.  I sometimes joke that Luna's main activity is holding the carpets down, but RC made Luna look like a Jack Russell terrier.  I will say that the carpets have never been flatter.

I did manage to get both dogs out for a longish walk (2.5 miles, Luna's standard evening walk) Friday evening.  It occurred to me that if I were to treat Luna and RC as a single unit, I'd probably call them LC so that walking the dogs was just like being on an episode of The Hills.  In the same way that a deerstalker cap is just like sardines.

After that indignity, and a not-very-long hike in the woods on Saturday morning, RC apparently felt that he'd expended enough energy, and when we went for our Saturday evening walk, I got about a quarter mile from the house, and RC turned into a fencepost and absolutely would not move until I started heading back for home.  Luna really likes longer walks, so I made it up to her with a three-miler Sunday night, while RC chilled in the house with EFU.  Everybody was happy.  Still, I was a bit relieved when the rug flattener's owner came to pick him up and I could get back to just having my fun, energetic dog who doesn't feel that every tree needs and deserves to get pissed on. 

TED Discusses Politics

Paul Ryan.  Really?

Vacation Matters

I've probably whinged before here about my ineptness in planning vacations.  Back when I was partnered, I never had to plan vacations because b&c would suggest a location; I'd say, "Make it so;" he'd suggest flights, hotels, museums, and such; I'd say, "Whatever;" he'd complete the arrangements; I'd write him a check for half; and we'd be off.  But since I've been single, I haven't been able to arrange anything that didn't involve either a) me in NYC or b) me and the kids visiting family.  And since the girls went for two weeks to the West Coast with their mother and step-father this year, and EFU didn't have any additional vacation time, I didn't plan anything at all for the summer.  A few weeks ago, I was starting to feel anxious about the lack of vacation and trying to figure out what I could do, but I hadn't come up with anything. Then I called b&c to see how he was doing (his mother died recently, and he inherited her cat), and he asked me if I was interested in going with him to Peru. 

I knew without asking (though I did ask, of course) that if b&c was suggesting Peru, the trip was sure to include a visit to Machu Picchu.  It was something I'd always assumed I'd never get to see, but now it looks like I will get to see it.  We discussed dates, then we had a conference call with the tour company, and we're going at the end of October.  I'm very excited.  I already have a prescription to help with altitude sickness.  Also new hiking boots, which I am very carefully breaking in.  (We are not doing serious hiking -- i.e., we aren't walking the Inca trail -- but the tour guide representative said they'd be a good idea, and I have a history of spraining my ankle, so better not to take chances.)  I think that breaking in hiking boots is mostly about breaking in my feet, but as long as the boots and the feet get along well, I'm not that picky about which has the right of way. 

Apparently, the end of October is the beginning of the rainy season in Peru, but I'm hoping that my and b&c's good luck with weather on vacations holds.  I'm told the worst of the rainy season doesn't really hit until December, and at the end of October, the crowds have started to attenuate somewhat.  Anyway, I'm not going to worry about it.  If I disappear -- along with Machu Picchu -- in a mudslide, I'm sure I'll learn a valuable lesson from the experience.

The tour company has provided me a very detailed itinerary of what the group will be doing, but I haven't really focused in on most of it. I know that we spend one afternoon and the following morning in Machu Picchu, and there are two travel days, but I'm not so sure about the rest of the eleven days.  Presumably there will be llamas.  It occurs to me that Llamas in the Ruins is an excellent title for a satirical travel novel.  Somebody write that.