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Tuesday, May 29, 2012

What Would Be on Your Boyfriend Application?

A friend was telling me about a song he heard called, "Boyfriend Application." He came into my house singing this punk rock song, "Do you wanna be my boyfriend? Fill out an application!" It was funny, but it got me thinking... what would I put on an application for someone to be my boyfriend? This is a brief version:
Are you employed?
What was the last thing you read? (I'm a writer - this matters!)
What is your all-time favorite book?
Do you ever get bored? If so what so you do?
How do you deal with things that bother you? Do you get mad? Do you self-medicate? Do you shut down?
Are you impatient?
Are you honest?
What is your idea of the perfect day? The perfect night out?
Are you a planner when you travel or are you more laid back and like to see what comes up?
Can you be my champion?
Can you let me be yours?
Do you like animals?
What's your relationship like with alcohol and/or drugs?
Is there something you absolutely love to do? A passion?
How's your follow-through?
Are you a talker?
If I was sick, would you:
a. ignore me at the risk of getting sick yourself
b. bring me soup, ginger ale and magazines
Are you witty? Smart?
Politics - left/right? Blue/red?
Can you put someone else first - at least sometimes?

I could go on and on... but for now I'm going to leave it here. I don't think I could ever ask a guy to fill out an actual application, but maybe just knowing what I might ask, could make things a whole lot clearer, and help me make a lot fewer mistakes.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

From Writer to Author - My "Best Worst Year"

About seven years ago I started writing a novel. It was my second one. The first was a bitter diatribe about the dissolution of a marriage that happened to coincide with the end of my own.

In the meantime I began writing for a couple of different newspapers and magazines, became a life coach, fell in love, a couple of times, got my heart broken,,, a couple of times, probably broke a couple of hearts myself. And I kept writing.

I am not the most practical person in the world. I rarely wear footwear that is appropriate for the situation I'm in, I sometimes eat cookies for dinner, and I believe in doing what you love to do. Even if it seems a little crazy.

I got a late start. I married young and divorced when I was 41.It was scary, but it was also like a giant do-over, granted one that involved three children I was a responsible parent to. But it was a chance to figure out who I wanted to be. On my own. No husband, no boyfriend... just me.

And that is where we find our heroine, Cassie Keaton when "The Best Worst Year" opens. An empty nest, a rocky relationship, a tenuous job situation, and no idea of who she is when not defined by caring for others.  It's a place many women find themselves, and it can be terrifying.

My hope is that others will find Cassie's journey inspiring. Along the way I have had many mentors and guides who helped me. If in some small way my story and the one I've created can help inspire someone to live their dream I will be thrilled.

Life is full of endless possibility. So often the only thing that stops us is our own fear. I've worked through a lot of mine, though it still crops up quite often, and in "The Best Worst Year," Cassie falls apart but eventually pulls herself together.

Falling into the depths of despair happens to all of us. It's what happens on the way to pulling ourselves out that makes life and ourselves really juicy and interesting. I hope that perhaps reading about Cassie's ups and downs will help readers to realize they're far from alone, and despite us, things almost always get better.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Can You Have Love With No Drama?

I was talking to a good friend last night about relationships and that feeling of angst that often accompanies many relationship. Well at least that's what I've experienced. What I ventured was - if there's no drama, no stomach flipping anxiety, is it love? Aren't you supposed to feel...edgy?

Bottom line, what does it mean when it's easy, comfortable, when someone follows through and does what they say they will do? Is on time? Is there for you when you need them? It's good right? It should be, but if you're crazy like me you might wonder - what's wrong?

My friend reminded me of one of my favorite episodes of "Sex and the City," from Season 3, "Drama Queens." After years of drama with Big, when Carrie finds things going easily with Aidan she thinks something is wrong.
It feels odd. I'm used to the hunt.
This is... effortless. It's freaking me out.
I totally understand. You're not getting the stomach flip.
Which is just a fear of losing the guy.
Maybe I'm not used to being with someone
who doesn't do the seductive withholding dance.
Hmmm...The idea that love doesn't have to be hard and filled self-doubt, pain and wondering what is wrong with you is a revelation for many of us. I know I'm not alone. 

I still haven't figured out how much angst is excitement and how much is the biggest signal ever to run, run as fast and as far away as you can. What we sometimes respond to in another may not be a healthy zing. Sometimes the zing comes from a familiarity with something painful - the guy who ignores you, who doesn't show up on time, who keeps you at an arm's length may just get to you because it all feel very familiar. And not in a good way.

I'm not sure if I'll ever sort this all out. But I'm asking the questions and trying to figure it all out. I always hated the whole, "Love means never having to say you're sorry," lie, but maybe love does mean not having to feel insecure, alone and worried. If anything maybe love means loving yourself enough to ask the questions, to accept and expect nothing but the best, and knowing you are worthy of all good things.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

The Lessons We All Should Have Gotten As Girls

This is not just an opportunity to shamelessly exploit the awesomeness of Jon Hamm. Not completely anyway. In this short video Hamm addresses the questions and concerns of a few teen girls about everything from passing gas in front of a boy (something I STILL hate to do!) and what's up with the guy who doesn't want to take things further faster, "Slow your roll" he advises the girl.

The thing is, for too many of us how we feel about ourselves is based on how boys/men (for some that moniker of boy never changes) feel about us. What I love about this is Hamm is encouraging girls to be cool with who you are. All on your own.

Why is this message so muddied and so hard to learn? I am a grown woman, I own a home, I have a career I love, I am attractive, kind, have lots of all accounts a successful life. I have many friends in the same boat. So, why is it so much of how we feel is based on a guy liking us????

Why should the temperature of our self esteem go up or down depending on what some guy thinks? Maybe if we had more guys in our lives who, like Hamm, giving us the message during those impressionable years telling us, "The world is your oyster." Who cares is Johnny in seventh period chemistry doesn't think you're all that, screw Johnny, love yourself, sister.

It's taken me until well into mid-life to finally begin to get that message - how wonderful and lovable I am is not based on a guy's opinion. It's a message I wish I had gotten sooner.

I came across a picture of me taken the summer before I turned 15, and when I saw it I remembered thinking I was fat and ugly. I was not.

How I wish I could have seen what I see in her now - a pretty, sweet, and lovely girl, who sadly had many years of battling her demons ahead of her. How I wish I could tell her not to waste her time worrying about what guys thought and to spend that precious time figuring out who she is and what makes her happy.

For girls like me who did not have a dad, it's especially crucial to make sure that message gets received. When Hamm says at the end. "I'm a 41-year-old guy, you don't have to listen to me, but it might be in your best interest to," he's right. Girls can learn from words like his. The thing is, the guy worth your time and love is the guy for whom you are perfect. Just as you are. But you have to decide you're perfect first. No one else can give you that. Know you are a catch and you are the decider. Don't focus on a guy picking you, figure out if he's worthy.

Someone very special to me with whom I had a relationship helped me get that. He told me I had to decide if someone was worthy of getting to be a contestant in the game of getting to date me. Be that decider. Don't settle, don't compromise.

I'm finally getting it. Accepting being loved for myself - not a thinner, prettier, less angsty version on me. It's taken me all this time to realize I am enough. Just as I am. And so are you.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

What Does Loving Someone Mean?

I've been doing a lot of thinking about love lately. Hey, I'm a single woman. This is what we do. It's part of the job description. I'm sure it was in the brochure that is issued to you. We think about guys, we talk about guys with our friends, and well, if you're a writer you write about it.

I married at a very young age, barely 20, was married for a long time, and then I wasn't. I did not date until my divorce became final, about a year and a half after we'd separated. I didn't care about boys, I was having a love affair with myself.

Now, many years, and a few relationships later I'm asking myself lots of questions - like, what does a good relationship look like? What does it take to make it work? Is there such a thing as "forever" or is this just for now?

After years of being brainwashed by Hollywood that love means never having to say your sorry, and "you complete me," oh, being told all the ways "he's just not that into you," it's hard to know what to think. But that doesn't stop me from trying to figure it out.

I was reading this interview with Debra Messing, who recently got divorced, and she said forever was one thing when we died at 37, 200 years ago, but now is it realistic? Granted, my cred on this topic may be questionable, but I've learned a few things in my years of dating and singledom post divorce. Here are a few...

For the most part people are who they are. Don't think that if you love someone enough, care for them enough they'll change. Unless they want to, they wont.

Be your own person. Don't define yourself through a relationship. "You complete me" is bullshit. Complete yourself.

“If you find yourself in love with two people, choose the second one, because if you really loved the first one you wouldn't have fallen for the second” Wise words from Johnny Depp of all people. I might not have believed this years ago, but I've come to see it's true. Another person doesn't breakup a relationship, if it was intact another person would never be a threat. This lesson has meant me letting go of my own blaming for the end of my marriage. And it's liberating.

I am still working on that balance of loving someone, needing someone, but not losing myself. I think it's possible, but losing myself  in love still scares the crap out of me. You work hard to become independent, strong and happy all on your own, and then you fall in love, and someone falls in love with that vital, independent person, and then as you meld, the lines get a little blurrier. It's challenging.

Loving someone who doesn't love themselves and isn't happy probably won't go well. If they're not happy without you they won't be happy with you.

Clever, fun banter is great over dinner, but is this someone who will bring you soup when you're sick? Call you just because you seemed a little down and they wanted to make sure you were okay? Think about you and not just themselves? That's what makes someone worthy of your time. Rob Gordon from "High Fidelity" is a fun character to read about, but being in a relationship with him is frustratingly empty.

Throw out your preconceptions of what the "perfect" partner looks like. He/she may show up in a very different outfit than you expected. Don't slam the door just because they aren't what you expected.

Look out for yourself. Only you know what is right for you. It's just that simple. And that hard. If you crack the code, let me know, I'm still confused as hell.