Monday, August 19, 2019

weekend


Back at work on a Monday morning and it's weird, but I'm happier to be here than I am to be at home. That's a big switch in my life and one I'm not particularly comfortable with.

But weekends are weird now. I still enjoy myself, especially if I'm swimming, but I also spend way too much time wishing I was out doing something with people. And I watch the phone like I did when I was in high school, waiting for someone to make contact, to care, and it gets sad when they don't.

It's not like I don't do my own things to keep busy, this weekend I had to go down to see my mother.

Now that was super weird - as if she'd read my blog post about dating (which she hadn't since she doesn't use her computer anymore) she started obsessing about my lack of a love life. She kept asking if there were any men that I was interested in or if there were any attractive men at my work. And because she has selective dementia (my term because some things she remembers quite easily) she asked the same 2 questions over and over again until I thought I would scream. Of course, knowing my mother, she wants me to FIND a man but she wouldn't want me to DO anything with him except hold hands and skip down the street to the ice cream parlor. Believe me, if I find someone, that is NOT all that I want to do with him. Widow life is frustrating...I know, TMI.

After the morning with my mother, all I wanted to do was take a nap, so I did. Yep, that's the extent of my exciting Saturday. Sunday I swam pretty much all day and then worked on my book project a bit in the evening. That made me feel better, to be doing something positive to move my life forward.



I did see my friends on Friday. We do trivia nights at local places a couple of times of month. This past week we came in third at trivia night at the Cat Cafe and on Friday we, unexpectedly, captured third place again at the Disney trivia night at a winery that's just down the street from my neighborhood. It was villain night and my friends, who are both stay at home moms, came up with great costumes. I was stuck at work until late and just made it home in time to get to trivia before all the seats were taken so no costume for me. I was tired and so hungry that I don't think I was very good company. I didn't even stay to see if we'd won (they had to text and tell me we got 3rd) I was tired and lonely in a room full of people so I headed back home around 9pm.

Weekends are when I miss Taz the most because we almost always had something going on. He would call me the Director of Fun and it was my job to come up with somewhere for us to go. And then there were the weekends when we'd just need some down time so we'd each go off to a separate part of the house and do our own thing. He either was working on some computer project or watching the ID channel on TV. He did love that true crime thing, I could never get into it. I would head out for the swimming pool. Sometimes he would join me but he was a big baby about the pool temperature. He was like Goldilocks - it was either too cold or too hot and he would ease into the pool making faces when the incorrect water temperature hit his private parts. Boys are weird.

Then around noon he'd come into the kitchen to make something for both of us for lunch. He had this weird need to "take care" of me. I'm not the type of girl that expects that and it sometimes made me feel weird but I came to recognize that this was his way of showing love. He was a lot like his mom on that score. Sometimes now, when I am sitting in my lounge chair that faces the kitchen window, I can almost imagine him standing at the stove cooking something and making silly faces at me.

So I limit the amount of time I spend in that lounge chair now.

On Sunday nights I do the familiar thing where I start to tense up about having to go back to work and wish I could have another day at home...and then I stop that line of thinking because I don't know what I would do with more endless hours after having barely made it through the last two days.

Hopefully that will change one day, I would like to go back to loving weekends.

Friday, August 16, 2019

dating



So here's the big question - how soon is too soon?

A friend of mine was recently talking about a co-worker who is a widow who has started dating again. My friend said "it hasn't even been a year yet and she's dating" with just a hint of judgement in her voice. I doubt she was even aware of it but it hit me in the face.

So clearly under a year is "too soon" as far as other people are concerned.

On the other hand, I've heard people say "it's been 2 years, it's time for her to get out there again" so 2 years is not only *not* too soon, it might even be too late.

And all of this only concerns women, apparently it's quite common for men to begin dating again in a short time but that might be because there are only so many single men to go around and women just throw themselves at them.

You may be wondering why I'm even thinking about this stuff but how could I not? It's not like I'm planning anything right now but it's still in the back of my mind that at some point I'd like to date again. I'm not very concerned about what other people think so I'll do it in my own time but it's interesting to me to see what the general consensus is.

There is a man at a monthly event I've attended for the past 8 months that is probably going to ask me out one of these days. He's certainly been working up to it and has found a way to increase the number of connections that we have. And I dread that happening because he seems like a really nice guy but not someone I'd like to date. 

But is that how I feel about dating in general? Nope. I kind of think I'm ready.

I would really like to find someone to be partners with, someone that sees the real me, that likes my unruly, hippie, rebellious side as well as the shy, quiet girl who can sometimes be unsure of herself. I don't want to play games or waste time with people that I don't have a connection with. I don't think I want to get married again and I don't want to be joined at the hip with someone, having to be together all the time...unless that's something we both want. I don't need someone to take care of me but I would like someone who wanted to take care of me from time to time, just like I would take care of them. I want someone who gets my sarcastic sense of humor and makes me laugh too. Someone who thinks I'm adorable because, let's face it, I am. ;-)

And I just read back through that list and now I know I'm delusional. A friend (who is the same age) recently expressed complete shock when I mentioned that I wouldn't mind dating again. She didn't say it but you could tell that she thought I was too old for anyone to be interested in me. She's probably right, men my age want to date 35 year olds.

And really, do I want to be that vulnerable to someone again? That part scares me and makes me want to rethink this whole dating idea. Maybe I want something much more casual. Well that would be a change, I've never done casual before and I'm afraid I could be a huge disappointment to someone that was only there for sex. What if I haven't been doing it right all these years? I've told you before that I was a REALLY good girl in my youth so my experience is limited. To be honest, that's my one regret in life, I wish I'd been a little wilder. Maybe what I lack in experience, I could make up for in enthusiasm! Yeah, it's probably not a good idea anyway, that's a whole different type of vulnerable and I'm afraid once a good girl, always a good girl. Merde.

Oh well, it's not like anybody is asking me out right now and I'm probably flattering myself to think anybody would. So I can look forward to lots of cold showers. Yay. Although it's so hot and steamy in Florida right now that a cold shower would actually feel pretty good.




Thursday, August 15, 2019

finish



I am great at starting projects - a real master. When it comes to following through and finishing, not so much.

It's not so much that I lose interest, once I fall in love with an idea I rarely fall out of love, it's more that I get scared, afraid I'll fail, so it's easier to put down the project rather than do the hard work of seeing it through to the end.


Maybe I don't have all that much confidence in my abilities.


BUT, I have decided to change that aspect of my personality. I am going to focus on a project that's been rumbling around in my head for several years now - a book.


It's based on an idea I got when I was working for the Carmel Heritage Society. A group of women in their 80s who had gone to school together would meet once a month to reminisce about their childhoods in Carmel and talk about what had happened in their lives as adults. One of those women had a particularly fascinating story which spawned an idea for a book.


I've done quite a lot of research already. Frankly, as much as I enjoy writing (and I do love it!) I'm actually much fonder of research and that's usually where I get stuck. It's way more fun to research than it is to organize everything and actually put it to paper in a concise manner. MUCH more fun.


However, the time has come to fish or cut bait, so to speak, and I'm going to finally write that book!


To that end, I'm going to be guided by the words of author Laura Bradbury who had a similar non-finishing problem of her own until a near fatal illness made her realize that time was not her friend and it was time to do what she'd always wanted to do:


1) Pick ONE thing you want to finish. A creative project? A life project? An emotional project? If you put pressure on yourself to finish everything you’re going to fail. Just pick one thing. 


Ok, so I've picked my book project. I have other book ideas but I'm going to commit to this single one until it's finished. Yes indeedy.


2) Once you have that thing, figure out a plan for finishing it - Break the work into reasonable increments and most importantly make a commitment to yourself to NOT jump to another project until you finish this thing. 


The first step will be to compile all my previously done research into one place. I have it on computers and in notebooks right now. Luckily I was smart enough to bring it all to Florida and not leave it behind in storage in California the way some of my other research projects are.


Second step will be to fill in the gaps in my research. There are a couple of road trips that need to be taken - one to Georgia and one to the middle of nowhere Texas. I'm really looking forward to Texas but I would prefer not to do it alone so I'm going to have to find a road trip buddy. Anybody up for an exciting adventure?


And then comes the hard part - actually writing the first draft. Luckily I've already begun the outline of the story so it's just a matter of filling in the details. And I have to keep in mind that you can always edit crap but you can't edit a blank page.


3) Expect it to be hard and feel gross. Resistance is real folks, but it helps if we can anticipate it and fully expect the finishing part to feel unnatural and difficult and just YUCK. The key is to recognize you have to experience the yuck in order to get through it and reach The End.


Yep, I imagine it will get difficult and the old me will want to put it down and do something fun but that's one of the reasons I'm putting this out here - to make myself accountable for finishing.


4) Pick an enticing reward for yourself when you’re done. I do this with every book - usually it’s a pair of shoes I’ve been coveting, The key is the delayed satisfaction of something you truly want. Post a photo of it somewhere visible to keep you slogging when the going gets tough. 


This step is harder for me because any enticing reward is going to cost money that I don't have so I can't even imagine what to pick.


5) Remember that you’re gonna die. I know this sounds harsh, but being alive is a terminal condition for all of us. Trust me, when you face the end of your life (I’ve been there) you’re going to feel unhappy that you didn’t go out and create those things or change those things or do those things you dreamed of. Whenever your motivation wanes, remind yourself that you too are heading to the terminal on this bus of life.


Kind of morbid but the one thing that the last 9 months has taught me is that life is way shorter than 20 year old me ever imagined it would be. I want to do something that I can be proud of and this is what I'm choosing to do.


So wish me luck. I'll share more of what I'm doing in the coming months. Right now I still want to hug the storyline to myself.

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

anniversary


This picture was taken 30 years ago today. Although we had already legally married, I wanted a real wedding so we waited until Taz's best friend from France came for a visit and we drove to Manteo, North Carolina (down on the Outer Banks) and had a lovely ceremony in a gazebo right on the water.

Notice that the only one smiling in the picture is the American. The two guys from France are obviously too cool to smile. LOL

I'll never forget that day, it was one of my favorites. There is even a videotape of it. I should probably get it transferred over to some other type of media like a DVD before it gets lost to the ages. 

We all look like babies to me. All of our lives have gone in directions we never could have imagined on August 14, 1989. The innocence of youth.

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

questions


I've got nothing profound to say today but just felt the need to write about some things that have been roaming around in my mind.

How does one live in the moment?

I'm having trouble with that concept. I'm very good at compartmentalizing things and I've always been determined to find something to enjoy each day but I've found it's an awful lot easier to enjoy today when you've got a plan for tomorrow.

Living in limbo is hard for me so you can imagine that this period in my life, where I really don't have a clue what the future holds, is pretty much driving me crazy.

I want so badly to relax in the here and now and enjoy what *is* without worrying about what *will be* but dang, it's difficult.

I've got a plan for the next year or two. Maybe not really a plan but a vague outline of a flicker of a shadow of a plan. Too vague for you? Me too! I'm ok with the plan, even excited for parts of it, but I wish I had more details. 

I wish I had more fun in there. I've been so focused on survival that I haven't had time to think about throw your head back and laugh-type fun and what's life without that? Without pure joy from time to time? Without an adventure?

But how does one go about finding joy and if you're too focused on finding joy in the future, mightn't you miss out on it in the present?

Oy, I'm making my head hurt again.

But I fear that I don't remember how to find joy in the moment. Or maybe the doors that used to open to joy are closed now. Maybe they're closed forever and I have to find new doors.

Of course there's the big question - am I going to get a happily ever after or is this all I get? I sometimes feel like I'm trudging through this part of my life just waiting to get to the good part again. I really need to make this the good part for now. I don't want to waste any of the time that I've been given in case it really doesn't get any better than this.

And yet, I want to believe that it *is* going to get better than this. Maybe I'm kidding myself but I need to believe there's still something else out there for me, something I've been working my way towards my whole life. Maybe that's naive but that's just who I am and I'm not going to let grim reality beat that out of me.

And if you're thinking I'm going to end this with some big enlightenment, some answer that wraps it all up neatly in a little package, you're going to be disappointed.

Today is all about questions; I have no answers.

Monday, August 12, 2019

Virginia is for Lovers


I went to Virginia!

It was such a fun trip, even the parts where I had to work longer days than I ever do here in Florida. Those people are workhorses and the office is soooooo quiet. It's a lot louder and more social here, dare I say more fun?

But I've always loved Virginia and it was kind of life-changing to be back.

I moved to Virginia from Chicago when I was 10 or 11. I did not go happily; I hated being torn from the only place I'd ever lived. But even in my grumpy pre-teen state, I acknowledged that Virginia was beautiful and eventually grew to love living there. So being back after 6 years, seeing the gorgeous scenery and the familiar sights was like medicine for my soul.



I landed at Dulles and within an hour I was in my beloved Leesburg eating Roy Rogers. Yes, I have a Roy Rogers obsession. It's kind of weird (I'm kind of weird) because I certainly wasn't obsessed with it when I lived here. I always enjoyed the roast beef sandwich (never ate anything else there) and I loved the bbq sauce but I didn't go there all that often and I really didn't think about it after moving away until one day in 2013 when I suddenly got a craving to have it again. And that my friends, is pretty much why I planned a trip there that year.

Taz did not share my obsession and thought I was pretty weird about it but we hadn't been to Virginia in 4 years so it was time for a visit anyway. Of course I told everybody that we were coming to see friends and family but really, it was Roys.

So, of course, for last week's trip I had planned that it would be my first stop once landing...and it was...and it was totally worth it.


While I was in Leesburg I just had to swing by our house. This was so special to us, it was the first house we purchased and since it was a dirt lot when we wrote the contract, we were able to pick the model, outside style and all the flooring, countertops and cabinets. We felt so very grown up when we bought this. And a little bit like children pretending to be grown up. I swear I thought at some point during the closing they would turn to us and tell us it had all been a big joke and they weren't going to trust us with such a big investment. But they didn't, those silly people actually handed us a key!

We loved the outside because it reminded us of Colonial Williamsburg which is one of my favorite places because of all the history. I still love the look of the place and wish we could have lived there long - we were there from 1994 - 1998 - but I no longer feel an emotional attachment. The only thing that made me a little emotional was that they had torn down the enormous deck that Taz had designed but it was 25 years old so had probably gotten old and rickety. I don't know if I'll ever go back to see this house again.


After the house I swung by Wegmans. We never had a Wegmans when we lived in Virginia and I had never heard of them until Taz worked for a company based out of Rochester, NY and had to travel there at least once a month for 2 years. Wegmans is headquartered in Rochester and it's an enormous gourmet grocery store so he would stop there and stock up on their Asian buffet at the beginning of each trip so that he had dinner that he could warm up in the room each night.

He loved those stores (I'd say it was #2 on his list right after Andronicos in Palo Alto) so it was like Christmas to him when we discovered this one in Leesburg in 2013. So, of course, I had to make a pilgrimage there this time. I love the store too and we especially enjoyed their huge cheese selection.


One thing we really fell for last time was a particularly pungent brie that, at the time, Wegmans called Earthy Brie. They had 3 different levels of brie - mild, medium and earthy which is now called intense. We both loved particularly flavorful cheese so this brie was right up our alley and I was looking forward to trying it again. That picture up there is of the EMPTY tray where the earthy brie was supposed to be. They were out. Quelle horreur! I ended up "settling" for something that I can buy here in Florida but I never do because it's expensive. It was delicious but I decided to check again right before I left on Saturday so that I could take some of the earthy stuff home with me at least.

The rest of the day was spent catching up with my former coworkers from the '90s. That was fantastic, they looked exactly the way they always had and it felt so familiar to be with them right from the start. That's not always the case when you haven't seen somebody in 25 years.

Drove to my perfectly adequate hotel near work and fell sound asleep. I woke up in the middle of the night and noticed that there was a strange light from under the curtains but thought it must be a light on the building. The clock said it was 1:05 so I went back to sleep. Woke up again at 1:45 and finally decided to investigate the source of that light.

It was the sun. It was completely light outside, like it was the middle of the day. I was dazed and confused, wondering what day it even was and then I panicked wondering if I'd completely overslept and missed half the day. And why did the clock say 1:45 when it was clearly closer to noon?

Ok, so I misread the clock - it was 7:45. So I hadn't overslept exactly but I needed to be at work around 8:30 and I still had to dress and put on all my makeup and do something with my hair and then there was hot breakfast downstairs and I really didn't want to miss out on that. So I hauled ass a little faster than I usually do and managed to eat and still make it to work on time. Yay me.

Work was good, learned lots and then it was that lovely dinner where we spent 4 hours talking and it was amazing. I've already told you all about that. Still makes me smile to think about it. If it had been a date, I would have rated it as the best first date ever. Kind of makes me sad that it wasn't a date.

Friday was another busy but good work day and then it was me time again! I was moving to another hotel, one that Taz and I stayed at whenever we came home to Virginia.



It's an all-suite hotel that is mostly used for business so it's expensive during the week but then hugely discounted on weekends so even I could afford it. I LOVE this place. It would make a perfect apartment for me, I would move in tomorrow if I could. I feel safe here as a single female traveler and it's got a ton of restaurants out the back door, even a movie theater so there is plenty to do without even having to leave the property.

But, of course, I needed to leave the property to go explore. This was the town we moved to when I was a kid and it was also the town Taz moved to when his father sent him to live in the US with his sister. It's where we were both living when we met and it was where we first lived after we got married. There are a million memories in this town.


My favorite Mexican restaurant although it wasn't as good as I remembered it. But maybe that's because I used to visit their original location in a different town.

 My old church right across from Anitas.


Our first house after getting married. We lived here, in this townhouse, until we purchased the Leesburg house 8 years later.


Not the best picture because I took it from my car window but this was the house Taz lived in when he first came to the United States. It was owned by his sister and brother in law until just a few years ago. It was the first single family house he had lived in since he was 6 and he thought of it as a mansion. He lived there with 2 sisters, 1 brother in law, 2 nephews and sometimes his parents. Sounds crowded to me.


My middle school. I stumbled on it by accident, it wasn't in the place I thought I had left it all those years ago and I wasn't expecting to see it on this particular street that I had randomly turned down but there it was. Which is where it's always been, my memory was faulty. I had good times here but I hadn't been back to see it since the age of 13, which kind of explains the faulty memory since that was at least a decade ago...or two...or...

Saturday, my last day in town, was a mix of catching up with my best friend from high school and running around by myself. I enjoyed the catching up part more than being by myself. I went back to Leesburg to walk around the town but it wasn't as much fun as I'd thought it would be and I was ready to leave 30 minutes after arriving which was way too early because my flight didn't leave for another 7 hours. It would have been fun to walk around with someone.


Leesburg is very quaint, very historical. I had always loved to visit the town as a kid so I was thrilled when I actually got to live within walking distance of the downtown later as an adult. 


The courthouse where we eloped, not knowing we'd eventually live in the town.


The war memorial where we said our vows. I always thought that was ironic. We stood in front of the back of it, not the part that lists the names of all the dead, thank goodness.


The restaurant where we had our "after eloping" lunch. It was a bbq restaurant called The Branding Iron at the time. Now it's a bakery/ice cream shop.


When I ran out of steam in Leesburg I decided to head back to Roys because Roy Rogers makes everything better. Plus the roast beef sandwich is less calories and fat than a hamburger so it's practically health food! What, you're not buying that? Too bad, I ate it anyway.

Plus, thanks to a suggestion from the CFO at my company, I asked about getting packets of bbq sauce so that I could take them home and try to figure out how to make it. In 2013 we weren't smart enough to think about packets so Taz and I pumped sauce into plastic containers and somehow snuck it through the TSA at the airport so that he could try to figure out how to recreate it at home for me. He never quite got it but he made some tasty sauce. Now I'll try again with my precious packets. I'm already trying to scheme how I can get them to send me more packets in the mail when I run out. Or maybe I can convince my friends to go to the restaurant and pick them up for me.


Geez, I look grumpy in this picture and I really wasn't. I just don't smile as much these days. I was trying to show my frizzy airport hair.

I finally gave up and ended up back at the airport 2 hours earlier than I had planned but I found a comfortable seat and just read until it was time to board and head back to Florida.

I had a great trip. Not only did I make important connections at work and reconnect with old friends but I connected with myself as well. A lot of this trip was revisiting the past and saying goodbye. I will always treasure those years and memories but it's time to look to the future.

One surprising thing that happened was this trip reminded me of how much of Virginia is still inside of me. I never missed Virginia after we moved away, never was homesick for it even when we visited in 2009 and 2013. I guess it was because I loved living in California so I never looked back once we left. But now I'm in Florida and I don't love it here so suddenly Virginia is calling to me a little and I do consider moving back one day.

Before I do that, however, I would like to visit in each of the seasons including the dreaded winter. I would especially love to visit this fall because I love that season and we really don't have it here in Florida. I would love to see the leaves change color and feel the cool breeze, wear sweaters and boots, etc.

So then here's the bad news - travel is expensive and my low balance bank account alert showed up today for the first time in over 3 years. That gave me a mini-freakout. It means I've pretty much run through the savings that Taz and I had and I'm on my own now...which means no travel right when the travel bug has been woken up by this trip which was funded by work. Shoot. There are so many places around the world I want to see so I won't let this defeat me...just as soon as I figure out how to do that.

Sunday, August 11, 2019

heard




If I were asked to describe myself, the word I would probably use first is quiet. If I'm meeting people for the first time or with people that I don't feel a connection with, it's hard for me to talk much. Plus, I often feel invisible, as if people look past me, so that doesn't lend itself to me opening up much.

But, if you've read much of this blog, you know that right now I'm starved for talk. I miss long conversations - about important things and fun nonsense. I have felt conversation just building up inside of me with nowhere to go. It had started to become very uncomfortable.

But in Virginia, I finally had an evening where I felt a connection that allowed me to be comfortable enough to talk and listen and have a real conversation...almost 4 hours of conversation. Both deep and meaningful as well as some lighthearted moments that were just plain fun.

To say that it filled a need in me doesn't even come close to describing it; it was so intensely soul satisfying. I think I'd forgotten how to talk but it came right back. That gives me hope that other things I've forgotten how to do will come right back one day too. 

I couldn't believe how late it was when I got back to my hotel room. For me, the evening just flew by. I hope it was the same for my dinner partner. I would hate to think I was the only one feeling the connection but you never really know.

Since this person and I do not live anywhere near each other and have never spent time together before, it's unlikely that this event will be repeated although I wish that could be different. And that's what's so weird, that I felt SO comfortable with someone I barely know. That's really never happened before but I'm glad it did this time. I really needed an evening like that.

More stories and pictures from my trip to Virginia in the next post!