This Date is on Fire (and now it’s not)

Once again, this blog post is long overdue…

When I last checked in, I was coming out of a fairly deep depression. I’m happy to report that I’ve come out on the other side and am back to living as a functional human being. Part of being functional means starting to date again!

I gave up on Tinder, because, well, you remember this, right?

tinder
Oh, Keith!!

I moved on to Bumble in mid-September. Honestly, I did not expect much based on the incredibly small dating pool in Bend. But it was worth a shot.

Well, lo and behold, I exchanged messages with someone and we agreed to meet for a drink.

I did not have high hopes for this date – if you wonder why, go back and read “The Dating Game;” I have a knack for attracting nuts: men with IBS, technical writers with a marginal (at best) grasp of the English language, and misogynist freaks. But I needed to get back on the proverbial horse.

We planned to meet at my favorite whiskey bar and I was pleasantly surprised with the arrival of my tall (!), handsome, and good conversationalist date.

We sat outside by the fire pit and ordered some cocktails – it’s really such a lovely bar and seating area outside:

Barrel Theif Fire
Actual fire pit (image from the The Barrel Theif’s FB page)

We had a few cocktails, a charcuterie plate, and discussed the finer points of the Western and Eastern zodiacs. Turns out I’m a marmot…

Not sure how I feel about being a marmot, but apparently we were 95% compatible…

Well, I was so engrossed in the marmot conversation that it wasn’t until I smelled something burning that I realized the straps of my purse had fallen into the fire. Yep, I set my purse on fire on our very first date.

Now, I’m always one to make an impression — good or bad, that part is debatable.

In this case, it must have been okay, as we had a good laugh and I did see him again after that.

He travels a lot, so I’m not sure when I’ll see him again, but I’d very much like to and continue to get to know him. He seems very kind (and I never say this about people, but he has a really good energy. Thinking about him makes me smile).

My faith in humanity and dating has been restored.

I did, however, purchase travel fire extinguishers in preparation for the next date.

Fire exting

And that is where this blog post originally ended…I wrote it on Saturday, but it somehow didn’t feel complete. It  didn’t have enough “slice of life” commentary that I try to imbue into each blog post… I want my blogs to evoke an emotion – humor, camaraderie, solidarity, sympathy with a touch of irony….

Well, the blog gods were clearly listening… Fast forward to today and the joys and perils of social media…

My tall guy and I did become Facebook friends, and it’s been nice to keep up with him that way.  Until today, when this post popped up on my feed… No, the below is NOT directed at me.

FB Post
Yep, this is my tall guy

Ouch! Damn…. I thought was his marmot! *sigh*

I wonder if Keith is still available…

 

 

Hello, Darkness My Old Friend

It’s been about three weeks since my last blog post – longer than I wanted to go, but I’ve been in not the best head space to write, or really do much of anything to be honest.  I started this blog as an attempt at living my best life and giving myself a creative outlet wherein I could share my experiences and hopefully make a person or two laugh along the way.  I’ve always been one to find humor in even the bleakest situations – I honestly believe life is too short not to laugh at yourself and see the absurdity in the mundane and even marginally painful situations.

But my humor and creative brain have failed me in the past month or so and I’ve felt myself slipping into a dark, dark place. I would say I’ve always veered towards the melancholy – I’m not an always chipper, happy, peppy person. I’m introspective, a little maudlin by nature, and I find comfort in that.

Like wrapping yourself up in your favorite old sweater that’s frayed just so at the cuffs – it’s imperfect, yet comfortable and well known. I’ve always been able to dip into depression and look on it like a romantic trait. Aren’t all the best and most creative minds a bit mad?

I’m not claiming to be among the best and most creative minds, but I understand the madness and the sadness that makes me feel different and other. It’s a matter of self-preservation to take the “otherness” and make it desirable.

Said Edvard Munch:

“My fear of life is necessary to me, as is my illness. Without anxiety and illness, I am a ship without a rudder. My art is grounded in reflections over being different from others. My sufferings are part of my self and my art. They are indistinguishable from me, and their destruction would destroy my art. I want to keep those sufferings”

It’s far easier to maintain what I’ve always known and understood than to try and overcome it – for what if I can’t? That’s the real terror. I guess it’s a little bit ‘the devil you know’ mentality.

As I mentioned in my first blog post (No Pain, No Gain) I started on a prescription of Lexapro. When I went to the doctor and told her I was depressed, she had to ask the requisite question about whether or not I wanted to hurt myself. At that I burst into tears and said, “No – I don’t want to hurt myself – I just want to do the dishes!”

That’s what depression does to me – makes me unmotivated and unable to complete simple tasks. But I get through it in a day or so and go back to the regularly scheduled programming of my life.

This time is different, though.

The best way I can describe it is like being one of those mammoths in the tar pits outside of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. It probably felt warm and nice as they first stepped in the tar, but then as they were sucked further down, their limbs became immobile and heavy until they could no longer move or escape.

Mammoth

Or maybe it’s better described as an old garden statue covered in ivy – the tendrils weaving around it are beautiful, but they inevitably take over and choke. It’s a feeling of complete ambivalence – at once knowing you want to stop the vines from growing, yet also wanting to just surrender and give in. Allow myself to become completely overrun.

statue

I’ve gone too far, sunk too low – my mind has reached a depth that I didn’t know existed, and I don’t know how to get out. This is more than luxuriating on the couch in my old, frayed sweater for a day or two and then bouncing back.

Even my dreams are dense and overgrown – they are more vivid, more disorienting. I wake not knowing where I am – having to scroll through my many apartments, my childhood bedroom, before remembering and adjusting to the reality of where I live – in the house I bought, which seems so impossible as I file back through my dreams and past reality.

Somehow nothing feels real, nothing feels solid, nothing feels like mine other than the dark thoughts that are pinning me down.

So what have I done? Well, we’ve doubled the Lexapro (as of 2 weeks ago) and I’ve started seeing a therapist – I have one visit under my belt, a second one tomorrow.

But I think talking about it helps, too. It’s often scary to talk about our mental health, as it isn’t something that can be seen, yet is as real as any physical injury. I write this blog not as an exercise in self-indulgence, but in an effort to make it okay to be not strong. I am thankful for the kind people I am surrounded by who call, text, and check on me, and keep me going. I feel such love and gratitude and I know I’m lucky.

I know I’ll come out on the other side – and it isn’t that I don’t want to do the work – I just want the work to happen quickly. My intellectual brain and my emotional brain are currently at odds – and I’m afraid the emotional is winning…for now.

In the meantime, I’ll just keep up the Tinder dating:

tinder

Oh, wait…maybe not.

The Dating Game

When I was still in Los Angeles, the man who was my last good boyfriend (as compared to the 8 year shit show that came later) broke up with me quite unceremoniously. I was heartbroken, but looking back now, I know we would not have made it in the long run. Post break up I decided to move to a completely new neighborhood, Downtown Los Angeles (before it was gentrified and cool), and take up online dating.

It was pretty horrific. Here’s an overview of some of my finer dating disasters:

  • The technical writer who showed up to my house an hour early. I wanted to at least put on fresh lipstick before seeing him, and I had to walk my dogs. What am I supposed to do with him while I walk dogs? Leave him in my loft unattended? That didn’t sound wise, so he came dog walking with me, because I love making a great first impression while picking up poop.

Dogs walked, lipstick applied, we went to dinner. It was fine until he asked me about my best trait – um, I’m punctual? Like, not late or early?  Of course, I in turn, asked him his. His answer? His “tenaciousness.” Tenaciousness??? You’re a technical writer? I think you mean ‘tenacity,’ (and please do not email the fact that tenaciousness is popping up in the English language – it’s NOT a real word, and this was back in 2005 or 2006, when it most certainly was not a word). Tenaciousness aside, we got back to my loft parking lot where he dumped me in the nicest way – I got the full, “it’s not you, it’s me speech.” Dude, it was one date – like 2 hours, I’ll be okay. Although to his credit, he broke up with me much more kindly than the last good boyfriend.

  • The guy with IBS who wouldn’t order a drink. I got to the bar/restaurant first, and had ordered myself a glass of wine. He came in and sat at the table and I told him that the waitress would be right back to get him a drink. He put his hand on his Hawaiian-Shirt-tucked-into-high-waisted-khakis stomach and said, “Oh, I have IBS…” He also asked if his BMW would be okay parked where it was. Remember – this is before Downtown LA was cool. When I had given it adequate time, I asked him if he could give me a ride home – my dating headquarters was Pete’s, and it was walking distance from my loft, so I always walked — often accompanied by a kind homeless man who insisted I should not be walking those streets by myself.

This is Pete’s. It was the greatest! Unfortunately it’s no longer there.

Petes

Anyway, I knew based on how IBS Dude was parked, that we’d have to go around the block (lots of one way streets in DTLA), and I knew that would take him right down skid row with all the homeless tents:

Skid Row

Sure enough, his eyes became Frisbees as he white knuckled his leather steering wheel in abject fear as he drove me back to my loft, whispering, ”You’re a brave lady…”

Worked like a charm, though – he never called me again!

  • The last bad date story is perhaps the worst, as I actually walked out on him and went to The Eagle to meet a friend. The Eagle is a gay leather bar in Silver Lake – far better company than the total tool I had the displeasure of spending even a few minutes with.

The Eagle:

Eagke

What caused me to walk out, you ask? First he told me his favorite food was “DDP.” That’s Diet Dr. Pepper for those of you who don’t know… yeah, I didn’t know it was a food either…

He also told me he was a devout listener of Tom Leykis. Tom Leykis was an LA ‘shock jock’ known especially for: ” ‘Leykis 101’ in which he purports to teach men ‘how to get laid’ while spending the least amount of time, money, and effort.”  (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tom_Leykis).

A real class act.

Fast forward to present day… post the 8 year shit show that ended in 2015. I was feeling ready to stick a toe in the dating waters of Central Oregon, because surely dating here has GOT to be better than dating in Los Angeles, right?

Yeah, no.

There was the 2 days I survived on Plenty of Fish. I had enough when I received the following message exchange at 8am on a Wednesday:

Him: You’re in software? Like coding?

Me: No, not coding.

Him: Want me to come over?

Me:

IT’S 8AM ON A WEDESDAY!!!!

I then deleted my account.

I did Match, too – a lot of (and forgive me – I mean little offense) rednecks with not a lot teeth. Yes, judge me as harshly as you wish – but the toothless are not my type. I’m sure that I’m not a lot of people’s type – let’s not be offended, please.

Next up – eHarmony.

Lasted about week there. I was contacted by a rather awkward 30-something we’ll call “J.” J was awkward but sweet, and only 30, so I did respond with something along the lines of “Thanks for contacting me, but you’re 30! I’m almost 46 and I’m afraid I’m just too old for you, but best of luck in your search.” His response?

“Thanks for responding – most don’t”

Oh God!!!! That broke my heart! I felt like I should at least let him nestle his head in my breasts, the poor kid.

Next, was a blind guy. At first I thought, no way! But then…. wait a minute… he’s blind? That’s great! I’d never have to do my hair or wear makeup. I could wear yoga pants every day – that would be fantastic! The problem? He was really into role playing games. I wasn’t ready to devote my life to playing Dungeons and Dragons…

Shortly thereafter, I also deleted that account.

My last and most recent foray? Tinder. OMG the worst!

Let me give you a peek into my first conversation:

Convo 1

I sincerely hope that English is his second language, as that would make his diction understandable. That’s why I asked where he was from – I was expecting (hoping) he would say something like Romania. But, no, he’s from Astoria. If English is his first language, well, then we have problems.

I can almost overlook the bad grammar, but then he asked me “what’s your favorite color?”

Dude – really? I’m not 5. I haven’t had a favorite color in about 41 years.

There was lots of “happy until my last breath on earth” talk and quite frankly – that freaked me out! I tried to exit gracefully, but it didn’t go so well:

convo 2

And that was enough of that.

My other issue with Tinder is my lack of a firm grip on being able to tell my left from my right – so god only knows how many times I unintentionally swiped left not right or right not left. That, however, isn’t the saddest part of my Tinder tale. Apparently there are no men in central Oregon that I like that like me back, or that like me and I like them back.

Do you know what happens on the Tinder app when you have gone through every single man in Central Oregon? I do!

Your picture is in the middle of the screen and red concentric circles radiate out from around your picture.  Like a blast zone map and I’m ground zero.

So I’m pretty sure I’m done. Send me letters to the convent – I promise to be a great pen pal. The good news, however, is that I won’t need to go to the gym if I’m wearing a nun’s habit every day. (See No Pain, No Gain https://unbendable.blog/2017/08/04/first-blog-post )

No Pain, No Gain

About a month and a half ago I decided to focus on living my best life and getting myself together both mentally and physically. This first entailed a prescription for Lexapro, but we’ll cover that in another post. As for the physical – I hired a personal trainer and joined a gym.

I’ll give you all a minute to get back on your feet or back in your chair – yes, I joined a gym.

I’ve been going two to three times a week to work out with my trainer, Briana (who is totally awesome), but I know I also need to go on my own a couple of times a week. Today was the day!  The first time in my life that I would set foot in a gym by myself.

Now, I’m not completely sedentary – I’ve always played tennis, golf, hiked. Runyon Canyon was like an old friend when I lived in West Hollywood. I’m just not a gym person. Until today.

I put on my tennis shoes, I queued up my NPR podcast, walked into the gym with all my best swagger, and got on the treadmill.  I even texted Briana for positive reinforcement:

Briana Text Pic

One of the things I like about my gym is that it never seems very crowded and there’s a good mix of people – all ages and fitness levels, so I don’t feel as intimidated and self-conscious as I would at the Equinox on Sunset:

Equinox Pic

I got there at about 11:30am and it was perfect timing – it wasn’t crowded and there was no one on any of the 12 treadmills.

I hopped on the one second to the right. This one:

Treadmill pic

All is going well – I’m in my groove, I’m hitting my stride, I’m enjoying my podcast, and thinking, “I can totally do this,” as I briskly walk the inclines of the random setting. That lasted all of about 15 minutes.

All of a sudden, we’ll call him “Mr. Sprinty,” hops on the treadmill directly to my right. Seriously? There are 11 other treadmills and you have to get on the one right next to me? Of course he does. This guy is young and handsome and sprinty, so I reflexively pull back my shoulders, stick out my chest, and suck in my stomach to the best of my ability. Did I mention that Mr. Sprinty is approximately 25? I’m sure he took one look at me in my unfortunate purple shirt and saw nothing but Barney:

barney on a treadmill (002)

*Sigh* To be in my 20s again and a size 2.

I regained my composure, remembered I’m 45, soon to be 46, and I consider that Mr. Sprinty is surely totally unaware of me.

Not 10 minutes later another gentleman (who was 80 if he was a day) got on a treadmill, too. Yep – the one to my left!

Again – seriously? There are 10 other open treadmills! Why do you have to be my neighbor?

It’s like going to a nearly empty movie theater and sitting in the seat directly next to the only other person there. Is this some kind of gym behavior of which I’m unaware? Is clustering de rigueur?  Is it the mindless following of the leader/first person there? Do they have their favorite treadmills? Were these gentlemen interested in getting to know more about me? Maybe I’m putting out that “I’m single – talk to me” vibe?

Listen – I’ll take what I can get at this point, but I’m pretty sure my future insignificant other isn’t Mr. Sprinty or Mr. 80. I’d like to meet someone with a mean age of the two. Where’s that guy??

So finally Mr. Sprinty hopped off and headed to some other tortuous looking device, at which point I immediately exhaled and hunched my shoulders again. But hey – I was still there, trekking along!

Another 10 – 15 minutes later and Mr. 80 to my left starts walking further and further back on the treadmill and the belt is making a horrendous squeaking sound. I’m picturing him flying off the back and having to administer CPR.

By now, I’ve had about all I can take. My podcast is over, Mr. 80 has made it back to the front of the treadmill, so I figured he was safe and I could end my workout.

It was 40 minutes of an emotional roller coaster – but I did it! I walked into a gym on my own and survived.

Next time, however, I’m getting on the treadmill to the far left.