Sunday, August 18, 2013

I think the Universe is trying to tell me something.

I've had a bad run lately. That's all there is to it. It's one thing to live and run a private practice in a small conservative community when you are married. But it is a lousy situation when you are single. I meet no one other than my patients. And I have, in the past several years, met some very nice guys on-line. But not lately. So I decided to just let it go and spend this next year focused on friendships and getting my house ready to sell and staying active. I pulled my profile and just felt like I'd done the right thing for me. But one guy I'd emailed with tracked me down and asked me out for Saturday and suggested a Mexican restaurant. In my experience, every guy who has wanted to meet at a Mexican restaurant on the first date has been out of shape and not particularly concerned with his health. However, I knew this guy was an avid cyclist and he looked fine in his pictures and even listed his body type as "athletic and toned."  I wasn't feeling very enthusiastic about it but decided I was jumping to conclusions and suggested an alternate restaurant. (An aside - I loved the food I had in Mexico. Lots of good seafood, a variety of veggies and fresh corn tortillas. The Mexican food I don't like is the Americanized version with that awful bland rice, white flour tortillas, refried beans, cheesy sauce and shredded iceberg lettuce. Blegh.) Anyway, he said he'd call the next day to coordinate. Well, he didn't call until 3:30, and when I listened to the voicemail, he was suggesting a place downtown that is 45 minute away for me, at 5:00. I wasn't happy about the late notice and I sat and sat and sat, unable to make myself return that call. Clearly, I did not want to go. At 6:00 he called again, saying he'd still really like to meet. When I listened to that voicemail, I accidentally hit the "return call" button and so I was stuck.
The skies opened up just as I hit downtown and there was some music event going on, so I called and suggested a place on campus. When I got there, there was no parking because of the football game. I called again and said we ought to head a little west. He suggested a place way out west, near where he lives. I wasn't thrilled about that, since I'd already told him I lived east of town, but just asked where he wanted to meet since I didn't know that area. He said, "Well, there's a Holiday Inn lounge." What?  There are a blue million good restaurants in this town and he thinks our best bet is a skeezy hotel lounge? Sounds like a little slice of hell to me. I named the first place I could think of out that way, a little Thai restaurant, and he agreed. By this time, I was sincerely regretting saying yes. But I would never, ever want someone to feel like I didn't want to be on a date with him (as evidenced by my tolerant behavior with Jerkwad), so I headed on over. As I was standing under the awning watching cars circle the parking lot, I saw someone get out of his car a good ways away and head in my direction. He had that polo-shirt-tucked-into-pants pregnant man look. I offered a prayer to the cloudy skies above me, "Please, don't let that guy with the huge belly be him." And then saw him put his phone to his ear and prayed again, "Please don't let my phone ring." You guessed it.

Here's the thing - I don't expect perfection. In fact, my old boyfriend has a bit of a belly, but he's also very muscular otherwise. I am not looking for a model, but health is important to me and I put a lot of work myself into staying fit. So when someone says they are "toned" and posts outdated photos from a time when they were, I feel a little betrayed. But I smiled and said hello and didn't even flinch when he ignored my outstretched hand and hugged me instead. And he was a nice enough guy, bright (a physicist) and talkative. And of course I was friendly also. I'd eaten while I was deciding if I was going to call back, so I ordered lightly - basically an appetizer and a glass of wine.  He got an entree and had a couple of beers. When the check came, he said, "Is it okay if we split the bill?" I said, "Sure." But inside I said, "Sure, and I will never, ever see you again." Because even setting aside the fact that here in the South chivalry is still the code, it's just rude to ask someone out and then ask that person to help pay for it. He asked me out to dinner, he knew that I had made a much longer drive than he had, and he knew that while he was ten minutes away from his house, I had an hour's drive home in the pouring rain.  But he couldn't swing the $10 that was my dinner?  When the waitress returned, I'd already put my card on the bill and he hadn't. She started to pick it up and I reflexively reached out my hand to stop her. That's when he pulled out his card and asked her to split the bill. She said, "Do you mean split it down the middle?" He hesitated and I gave her a look.  She added, "Or separate checks?" and I nodded. Because damned if I was also going to subsidize his meal, which was more than double mine. While we waited for her to bring back the separated checks, he said something about maybe catching a movie. Well, let me think about that a min...No.  I made an excuse about having to get up early.

Before I pulled out of the parking lot, I texted my sister in my usual ladylike manner, "Fuck. Fuck fuck fuck. I'm never going on another date." 

Sunday, August 11, 2013

I'm outnumbered.

 They're everywhere.
They look so innocent, don't they? Just eating scraps of food and minding their own business.
But that's only an act. They're watching.
And plotting.
And so it was on Friday morning when I went for a run. I had just made it a mile on the paved path along the lake when a kamikaze squirrel spotted his target and made up his mind.
As you can see, I'm quite a bit bigger than a squirrel. But they are faster. And younger. Even if it was an elderly squirrel of, say, 10, that still makes me a good four decades older. When this particular squirrel darted straight under my feet as I ran, all I could do was jump to avoid crushing it. I barely brushed its tail but I landed hard on my left foot and felt that familiar twinge in my bad knee. Ever since I blew out my knee when I was skiing in high school, I've been prone to re-injuring it. My only consolation is getting to say that I hurt it skiing in the Alps.
The squirrel retreated, snickering a little, to watch me continue. Except now I was walking instead of running. Hobbling, actually. When I went back out to try again the next morning, there was a squirrel waiting in the same spot, just off the path. As I approached, I looked at the squirrel and said, "Go tell your little friends to stay away from me!" He ran back to another squirrel at the tree, and they both turned to look at me, keeping their distance.
But I know it's a temporary truce. Don't let the big eyes and fluffiness fool you. They're just biding their time.

Friday, August 9, 2013

School's back in. Sort of.

See, I live in a county where all the kids go to the same high school. This year, they've finally built a freshman school, which took the high school's population down to 1800 students. No more need for portable buildings, the part of the school the kids called "the trailer park." And then a month ago, the vocational portion of the high school collapsed. Just... collapsed. It was impossible not to think about what would have happened if school had been in session.
The local paper published the county's intent to stay on schedule. The whole school is a construction zone, as they remodel a bit at a time. But earlier this week I started hearing stories about the cracks in the walls of the other buildings and broken roof drains that were causing water to pool on the roof. They even brought in metal beams to shore up the remainder of the school. And I started to worry. What happens when you add the weight and movement of almost two thousand adult-sized kids to a two story structurally damaged building? I called the central office and eventually talked with the director schools. He told me he had a certified letter I could come have a look at from the structural engineers who were involved saying the school was safe. That there would be regular inspections and the drains had been repaired.  That one of the engineers and the head of maintenance had children at the schools. That if he had any concerns about the safety, he'd have delayed the start of school. Still... I kept envisioning the building collapsing with my 16-year-old child in it.
I talked with my son about the option of changing to a high school in the next county. No. It's his senior year and he was NOT transferring. I said I wanted him to stay home at least the first day. He said no to that, too. He had a summer AP assignment due on the first day and he was NOT missing school. He also pointed out, reasonably enough, that there was no reason to think that if there was going to be a problem it would happen the first day. "What about the cumulative effect of the added weight?" Oh, great. I get to worry all year. But I dropped him off yesterday morning for his first day, and asked him to text me as soon as he was home so that I'd know everything was okay. This is the text he sent me:
I just don't even understand where he gets his sarcasm from.
And so I made the 15th annual First Day of School cake. I thought there would be two of these, one for each of my sons' first day of kindergarten. But when I made a first day of school cake for my older son, he apparently saw it differently. The next year, on the first day of 1st grade, he looked at me and said, "You're making a First Day of School cake, right?  It's a tradition!" And so it is.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Not just "No," but "Oh sweet Jesus NO."

I very nearly walked out before the entrĂ©es even got to the table. It was that bad. It started with him commenting about having to talk a lot for his work. I sympathized, saying that I do as well. He set my teeth on edge, right off the bat, by saying all I had to do was listen and asking why I had to go to school just to be able to say "How does that make you feel?" That's right, six years of grad school reduced to a stock comic phrase. I just responded mildly that it wasn't something I actually ever said and he said, "Sure you do. That's what it shows in movies." I let that go and asked where he was from originally. He told me Ann Arbor, and then added, "Well, really Detroit, but no one says they're from Detroit anymore." I told him my ex-husband was from Detroit and he said, "Well, I just say I'm from Ann Arbor." Sure, why not? I'm originally from Connecticut, but I just tell people I was born in Fiji.

We moved on to a discussion, after ordering, about his view of the sorry state of kids these days. His contention was that kids today don't really learn anything because they have computers (and the guy is a computer programmer, although he does not have a college degree) and how we used to memorize phone numbers but now cell phones and computers do all the work. I disagreed, stating that not memorizing phone numbers is counterbalanced by the expanding nature of knowledge and... but he interrupted me saying, "What is learning? It's retaining information, right?" I said, "Well, no, actually, .." and again he interrupted, "No! What is learning? It's retaining information! Right? Right?" I pointed out that with a doctoral degree and having taught college courses, I knew something about learning and that it included being able to use novel data and think creatively and logically, and... But he interrupted again, voice raised, and proceeded to lecture me on what constitutes learning. I finally said, "Just because you're saying it loudly and repeatedly, doesn't mean you're right." He said, "I AM right, you're just not listening!" I shut down at that point and stared at him, expressionless, while he held forth for another few minutes. When he stopped, I said calmly, "I think we're going to have to agree to disagree on this one." He said, "What?!" And I said, "We're. Going. To. Have. To. Agree. To. Disagree. " As if talking to an idiot. Because, well, - draw your own conclusions.

He looked dumbfounded and then,
Him: "Then what else should we talk about?" 
Me: "Well..."
Him: (interrupting) "What are your views on politics?"
Me: "Probably different from yours!"
Him:"I don't really care about politics."
Me: "Did you just pick it because it seemed safer than religion or abortion?"
Him: "I don't care about those either."

The waitress was setting the food down on the table so I took a deep breath and decided to just be friendly and get through the meal. I asked about his only child, who he told me was "25 or 26." I couldn't help but express surprise that he wasn't sure which. He thought for a minute and said, "25. But she lives in Michigan." He talked about a phone conversation with her and I asked if he got to see her often. No, it had been three years. I asked why and he told me he doesn't want to go to Michigan and he doesn't want to pay for her to fly here. In spite of the fact that earlier he'd been talking about how much money he made and his houses and boats and cars. He bemoaned the fact that she "is an artist" and doesn't have the drive to make money. I asked, "Well, does she love it?" He answered, "Yes, but you can't make any money doing art! I don't think she even cares about being able to buy things!" I simply remarked that not everyone had that as a goal in life and that maybe it's important to do what you love.

This circled back to the "kids these days" theme. Honestly, you'd think he was 88 instead of 48. I had to hear about his paper route at 11 and how hard he worked at his factory job right out of high school. I listened politely. Until he talked about the good old days of playing kick the can. Again, I could not bite my tongue. "Kick the can! Are you sure you weren't raised in the 50's?" He maintained that people played kick the can "everywhere" in the '60's and '70's. I said I hadn't found that to be true in my neighborhoods during those decades in Massachusetts, California, Mississippi or Georgia. He said he was sure it was true in 90% of the country.

I won't go into every instance of bragging, unsupported statements of questionable facts, and talking right over me. Except to say that he was very pushy about his idea that I should rent out my house rather than sell it, disregarding my many protests that the idea held no appeal for me. A final irritant was that after I would answer a question he would say, "And how does that make you feel?" and laugh heartily. Oh ha ha ha psychologist joke. I get it. After maybe the 7th time, I found myself idly wondering how he'd react if I responded, "It makes me feel like you're being a dick."

I wasn't quite halfway through my my meal when the waitress came around again. He was nearly finished, in spite of having done most of the talking. She asked if we wanted to look at a dessert menu. "Oh," I said, "I'm not even close." She told us to take our time and started to leave, but he said, "I'd like a dessert to go."   -_-    I asked for a box for the remainder of my dinner.

When we walked out to our cars, he took a few minutes to quiz me about why I hadn't submitted a claim to my insurance for a small dent and then I thanked him for dinner. Neither of us bothered to say it was nice to meet the other. There was, of course, no talk of ever communicating again, let alone a second date. With other dates that went nowhere, there were at least some good qualities. But here, I got nothin'. He was a blowhard and a bully. So pile on if you want to, I won't argue with you.

Monday, August 5, 2013

One of those "Seriously?" moments.

Remember when I was in the midst of all that de-cluttering and I cleaned out the closets and dressers in my bedroom, winnowing down my clothing? The only drawer I didn't bother with was the center drawer, which holds my bras and, since I share a bathroom with my sons, the stuff I need to get ready in the morning.  It's not like you really can fold bras anyway, and I have always just stuffed them into one side of the drawer and then rummaged through to find the one I want. Until the other day when I saw a great idea for laying them in a row, tucked into each other.  So I pulled them all out and did that (except for the ones that fasten in the middle, those are at the end folded in half). And then counted. Holy hell, I have 35 bras. And not a single ratty or disliked one in the lot, so nothing I could make myself get rid of. And, incidentally, this doesn't include the five running bras I keep with my exercise clothes.  How did this happen? Looks like I'm set for a long, long time. Either that, or it looks like I'm planning on opening a lingerie shop for a very specific type of customer. Say, small-boned women who wear a 34C.  I need an intervention.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

More Avian Adventures

From my vacation in SC earlier this summer:
Great White Herons, the slightly smaller cousins of my beloved Great Blue Herons.
Brown Egrets in the swamp.
 Snowy egret landing on a branch.
 Osprey, perched by the nest which looks over the marsh.
The lunch crowd at the shrimp boat.
Terns, which will circle your head and squawk if you get close to their nesting area.
And it sounds like this^.
 Snowy egret strolling on the beach.
These skimmers have bills longer on the bottom that top. They fly just barely above the water, trailing their lower bill and snapping up food from the surface.
 Brown pelicans and a gull.
Pelican footprints - they have big feet!
 Herons and dowichers wading in a little tide pool.
Laughing gull having a serious moment. Sometimes they are not amused.