Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Full Circles & Embarrasments

Sometimes I feel like I'm put into unbelievable or ridiculous or awkward or highly embarrassing moments for the simple fact that I'm supposed to eventually write about them. I swear, the weirdest stuff happens to me. ON A DAILY BASIS, and sometimes it's so good, I couldn't make it up in my wildest dreams. Well, I could, but real life seems to be so much better and more entertaining. 

This has been my week thus far. Three situations that made me uncomfortable. Three situations that made me giggle. And three situations that needed to be honestly told about, aside from the people's names, we'll leave those out. 

Situation #1: Tinder Man

Dear Tinder Man,

We matched. You messaged. I messaged back a total of three times before I figured out that I wasn't interested and I was just going to delete Tinder altogether. And then a friend of mine sent me a screenshot of my ex's "secret" Facebook later that day. We noticed that said ex had been tagged in a post by someone we had never heard of. Imagine my surprise when we quickly realized it was you. Just days before you matched with me, you were hanging out with him downtown at 2AM. 

I hate to break it to you, but you're hitting on your buddy's ex-wife. That's his daughter in the photos with me that you've so flatteringly commented about. I could believe that you were set up, which I highly doubt. What does said ex have to gain from that? He's too busy getting his head shaved as I type this. Instead, this just leads me to believe that said ex hasn't mentioned us, at least his daughter, to you because you'd at least know what she looks like. It also leads me to believe that said ex's new pals have really great taste in women. 

**Tinder is now gone from my phone for the time being. I can only take so much. I also bypassed my ex-brother-in-law. Yikes. 

Situation #2: Little Girl

Dear Little Girl,

Imagine my surprise when I saw your resume at work today. Your name popped up and I got a very, very sick feeling in my stomach. I hate to think that we're going to run into each other again, like that time you happen to already be there at Panera when I was meeting my husband - at the time - to talk about our situation. The situation you so lovingly perpetuated. 

As such a young girl, you may not have realized that being picked up from your parents' house by your boss was a terribly inappropriate and unprofessional decision. Ya know, that time when he came to get you - a week or two after he decided to walk out on his family - and play around with you and your buds downtown. While you went out and had fun that night, I was at home dealing with a baby, alone, cutting four teeth. I would think that if you didn't realize how unprofessional that was, it was at least wrong to get in his car, late at night, when he was married with a child. But I guess everyone makes mistakes. 

You also went to his parents' house for a party he decided to throw. That night, I was again, at home, alone, taking care of our child. The one he planned to have with me. The one he wanted to have before I did. The child we had while I put off getting my masters degree, the masters degree I could have gotten from Johns Hopkins - where I was accepted without having to take the GRE because my GPA was so high, higher than yours, I noticed. I hope your summer was incredible with my husband. While you played kickball with him and went out drinking for Irish-fest, I was at home, taking care of a baby with RSV while he made sure your friend got home safely instead of answering the phone to bring us pedialyte. 

 So, sure, come chat with me sometime maybe we can work together too. We've already shared a lot. 

Situation #3: Young Stud

Dear Young Stud, 

What happened? For weeks you were texting me. We chatted a lot. We argued and bickered a lot. I told you things. I respected your insight. And your persistence opened my eyes to the thought of actually dating someone 6 years younger than me. You talked your way into my head, gracefully and quite intelligently. But maybe you're just a good game-player and I'm just too honest. 

That first time on the phone with you made me feel differently. "Does divorce make you a horrible person Grace," you forcefully asked me. "Does divorce make Claire a horrible person Grace," you continued. No, it didn't and you made me believe that I wasn't tainted from it, that you didn't care about any of that. Thank you. 

Then things got a little grey. Hot one day. Cold the next. I could feel it but I didn't ask why, not until our phone call a little over a week ago. We were just goofing off when you made the conversation go a bit serious. "Am I just wasting time talking with a woman," you began. 

I tried to explain how I felt but I needed something from you too. You were asking for me to divulge a lot without knowing what you wanted. You told me you were confused about what to do with me because you didn't know how I felt, that I hadn't said anything for you to know. And that's when I word vomitted how I felt. 

I didn't care about the age or our two different situations. I said I didn't need you or anything from you, it's about me wanting the person. And me wanting you, or at least wanting to see you when you got back, is so much more powerful and special than needing you. We left the conversation with you saying, "Okay, now we're getting somewhere," but I needed to go inside to get Claire and you needed to go to bed. You said you'd text the next morning and you did.

But again, things got grey and you went MIA. The last time I heard from you, you were texting me to tell me that the snap I glanced at after you posted didn't have anything to do with me. Admittedly, I didn't think it did. "Tired of seeing people waste time," was as far as I got before the photo vanished. I sarcastically replied with "Yessir. Glad you felt the need to clear that up." And that's the last I heard from you.

I've texted you a couple of times. I told you that you were so damn confusing the day after this snap interaction. Then after the weekend I acknowledged your passing birthday. And then today, I sent you a snap asking if you were still ignoring me - because my curiosity has been peaked. How do we go from that type of conversation and you caring enough to let me know that a certain "snap" didn't have anything to do with me, to you disappearing and to now my surprise ... unfriending me on Snapchat no less. See above screenshot. That seems a little immature? It at least seems super shady, and pointless.

I can draw my own conclusions. Something shady is probably going on, I'm not dense. I can also take a hint. But like I said, my curiosity is peaked. Why do people act so strangely? I'm so used to be completely open and upfront with myself that it confuses me to no end when they act so, well, weird. I hope one day you tell me. I hope you're okay.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Let's Not Waste Time

I don’t like wasting time. That’s probably why I can be easily frustrated. It’s also probably why my to-do lists are always raging and I take on more work than I should. I want it all, I want it done and I want it now. 

That doesn’t mean I’m super spontaneous. It doesn’t mean that I don’t juggle the outcomes and make the right decisions, it does mean that I don’t pussyfoot around issues. I feel like a lot of my life – my time – was already stolen from me. I refuse to let that happen again. 

I’m going to see the places that I want to see. I’m going to allow Claire to do and try all the things. I’m going to get the tattoos. I’m going to talk and be and experience things with people that challenge me. And I don’t have to get permission or validation from anyone else for any of those decisions. The opinions of those that don’t support me, us, my goals, Claire’s dreams … they can ever-so-eloquently suck it. 

I’ve always went after the impossible. Not in a literal sense and that could be me being a little dramatic, but in terms of what others thought were realistic or practical … that’s never been my “thing.” For example, I have a B.A. in Communication. And I distinctly remember being a semester away from graduation, visiting home sitting inside my high school’s front office listening to one of the administrators – whom I love dearly – talk about how someone we both know was “wasting his time” working on a marketing and communication degree. He won’t be able to support his family, he said. He won’t be able to do anything with that, he said. I smiled coyly and shrugged, I wasn’t about to argue because I knew there could be some truth to that. But I was different, I'd prove them wrong. 

I’m coming up on six years of working as a freelance writer, I haven’t gone a day without work within that time. I’ve lost jobs. I’ve gained better ones. I started making only $35 a week and now I can pay our bills on my own with wriggle room. Could that change tomorrow? Yes, but it’s so worth it. The impossible and all. 

That impossible way trickles over into other parts of my life as well. I've said already that I won't be bringing a pen and paper to my next relationship. I may have a list of what I'm looking for but that doesn't include a particular job, pay scale, age or amount of education. You can have a college degree and be a complete asshole. You can be 21 and be more of a man than the near 30 year-old I spent a decade with. You can have an amazing job and be the laziest person I've ever met. You can make money that supports your family but not really care about your family much at all. 

Instead, if I meet a man that has never read a book and can't string together a grammatically correct text to save his life but he's kind and warm, I'll notice. Instead, if I meet a man that by society's standard is too young to handle me, but he proves otherwise by his conversation and insight, I'll notice. I'm just not looking for things that can be tangibly measured. Ambition, drive, passion, consistency, communication; instead, I'll be going by the immeasurable. 

What does all of this have to do with wasting time? Well, when you're living your life by impossibilities, every second counts. There shouldn't be a day that goes by that I'm not working toward my goals of publication. There shouldn't be a day that goes by that I lay numb to inspiration. There shouldn't be a day that goes by that I forget to infuse life into Claire's day. And there shouldn't be a day that goes by that I forget about people who matter. On the other hand, I ask that you not waste my time either. 

Recently, I again feel like my time was wasted. Reeled in and then cast aside, being single is rough. "Welcome," Brooke says. She's so in tune with how I'm feeling right now. Watching men make an effort as you brush them off and then finally when you soften a little, they're done. It's really easy to get attention, it's easy to keep that attention but it's hard to sustain the truth. 

Talking everyday. Warming up. Letting guards down. Effort shown. Shutting down. Ghosting. Ignoring. 

The pattern is confusing. It's hurtful and disappointing too when you expect more of someone. Let's not waste each other's time. I've come to learn that every minute of my life is precious and I'm tired of using it on people that don't find me worth theirs. 

Now, let's go make some pumpkin cookies.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

It just hurts

I had to hold myself back from jumping out of the car. But I am too tired of being the one who cares. I cried today. I am crying today. And I haven't done that in a while.

This is an entirely new feeling. It's so new that I don't even know what to call it yet. I am relieved. I am confused. I am still heartbroken. Not because of the marriage but because of the person. The person I had put on a pedestal and the person that has a face that I used to love so completely, he didn't even say goodbye. He didn't find me deserving of a goodbye, let alone an explanation to all of this. I didn't get final words. I didn't get any effort. I shouldn't be surprised, and I'm not. But I am hurting.

He may have been upset when he walked away. But he's never been too upset to change or to say something differently. I wanted him so badly to get back out of that car and apologize. I wanted him so badly to get back out of that car and say anything. He could have just said "sorry," or "bye," or "if you need something I'll still be here" or "you're doing a great job." He didn't.

This year was cliche, because it's easily been referred to as a rollercoaster. But I also dubbed it the "Shit Storm of 2016," because that's exactly what it's been. I've been weighed down so heavily. He left, he's partying, he's forgotten about us, he wouldn't bring us milk, he lost his job, he didn't tell me, he hid from me, he spent more time and money at the bars, he refused to keep up with part-time work and then, he enlists in the army

"I'll see you later," he says to Claire. 

We're on the best terms that we possibly can be. I still haven't gotten my questions answered. I still haven't gotten to have my say or truly stand up for myself. But I do believe that he doesn't want to make anything harder for us, he knows how terrible his actions not only have been but still are. He knows how thankful I am for that, for at the very least, not pushing the knife in further.

In the meantime, I am still on my own in every sense of the word and at the same time expected to succumb to the wishes of others when it's truly not in my nor Claire's best interest. Give us space. Give us time. Please stop expecting me to do so much and try putting yourselves in my shoes, just once. When you're mad about the situation, know that I am well aware of how it has affected not only myself and Claire but those around us. And if that bothers you, take it up with him. He's proud of the fact that he wanted this, that's how he explains it to people.

"I asked for a divorce," he tells others. 

And that's a good enough answer in his eyes. But for those wondering, I was never asked. I was told. I was forced and I was given no choice. I fought for two solid months, every day. I was going to compromise beliefs and promises made to me. But in the end, when I realized how much disrespect we were receiving, I did what any good woman and good mother would do. I put our lives in my hands and took them out of the ones that had betrayed us. I positioned us to succeed rather than self-destruct along with someone that was digging very deep holes. I didn't allow him to watch us fail alongside him. He doesn't blame me for any of it, so I wish others would stop. 

A few weeks ago I was upset because the divorce wasn't finalized on the day I had anticipated. I told him, "I'm upset because I don't want to be married to you anymore." That's about as strong as I've been through this, I had come to that point. I was done and okay with it. In fact, I reveled in it. I could find someone better for me, eventually better for Claire too. I had come to the realization that I would rather be alone than be living with a stranger, someone living a life outside the home he liked better than the one with his family. I never want to feel that again, I feel it over and over again when I see him.

And now, I don't know if I'll ever see him again. This could be his escape from what's he's done. Leaving me in his wake and knowing I'll take care of all the important things. Then again, I may see him in a few months. I won't be surprised either way. It hurts me nonetheless, but not in a way that makes me crave what we used to be. I need something better than that, something different. It just hurts, plain and simple. 

I don't have any closure. It's all just left hanging open.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Three Days With Tinder

Nope. Nope. Nope. Nope. Nope. Nope. Nope. DAMMIT, I could have liked that one. Nope. Nope. Nope. Nope. Maybe. Nope. Nope. Nope. Nope.

(if you didn't catch it, that dammit was when you're on a nope spree and x someone too fast and realize too late that you may have actually wanted to say yep!)

After a Friday night of coaxing, I did it. I downloaded the damn thing and braved the embarrassment. I was on it months ago, some of you even saw me. Shamelessly, and a bit shamefully, I, along with some other pals, were swiping away looking for my now ex-husband to pop up. I'm not sure what it would have accomplished other than more hurt, but we did it anyway and I got some memorable giggles out of it.

But this time, Brooke wanted me to actually try something. "It'll at least give you something to write about," she said. 

And she couldn't have been more right. I may not be super impressed by the ideology behind it all, but after three days I sure do have one hell of an experience thus far. Well, maybe not an actual experience but a classic "Grace" scenario. Also, my lucky streak is really on fire. Out of all the matches and messages, the one man I would actually go on a date with, well, he is 9000+ miles away ... IN AUSTRALIA. 

Tinder is supposed to give you local options, right? Well, my first match ... my first message on this trendy little app was from a man on an entirely different continent, where my best friend is living - the one who talked me into this, the one who said "just try it." It's ironic and hilarious and I'll be visiting her in February. So, if the shoes fits, wear it all the way to a different time zone, right?

I had to download an entirely different app to text him, which includes voice messages that I melt over. Have you ever been greeted with "G'day"? It really makes the mood so much cheerier. I totally get the appeal now Brooke. He calls snaps "snappies," he called my ex a "wanker," he calls a field a "paddock"... good on you Tinder but thanks for the cruel, cruel joke of having him literally an entire day away from me, living in the future. He is studying to be a pilot though so, he can just wing it to Nashville (see what I did there?).

Then there are the obnoxious amount of inappropriate messages. To quote a few:

"MILF." <--- How about no?

"Does mommy need a night off tonight?" <--- Mommy is going to punch you in the face if you refer to her as mommy ever again. 

"Me .. You .. Let's toss in the sheets." <--- Is that even serious? 

"Do you have any MILF money I can borrow?" <--- I'll give you creativity, but no.

I even had someone tell me that he was looking for a "trusting partner," one that he could "stick his d*ck in and not have it sizzle off." I laughed a lot but I also threw up a little in my mouth.

But here's what I have learned.

Nashville Tinder men are hairy, they all believe they're musicians, they really love "gym time" and having a "healthy lifestyle" but they're all obsessed with pizza and bourbon too. Apparently, the most popular hobby is spelunking and taking photos on cliffs in various locations around the country.

I have gotten quite a few ego boosts as well. A large handful of messages have started out with some type of compliment about my eyes, which surprised me. I hadn't really noticed them in years, so if anything, I'm happy I rediscovered something that I too love about myself thanks to this array of new dudes.

I doubt I have it much longer. It gives me a bit of anxiety when someone starts grilling me with questions or I get nervous that they're going to say something disgusting and ruin themselves. Instead I'd rather talk to the one I was already interested in before I took a dive into the deep end. I'd rather focus on one situation than juggle several men that don't give me an ounce of the warm feelings that he does. But what's a gal to do if he's confused and seemingly as though forgetting about me at his leisure?

I'll try to have fun and I'll try to not be so scared.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Am I Insane?

It's like a hot flash, it's like sliding into an ice bath, it's like a slap in the face.

That's how I live my life. My emotions aren't small. They come in waves. Actually, they come in tidal waves and wash over me at any given moment of any given day. They're cliché and ridiculous and there are too many to count that can't handle it. Even though, most of you can't even tell.

My hands tremble a bit when I feel that panicked anxiety rush through me. After I receive a text or a phone call that tugs at my problems with guilt and making other people happy that don't deserve for me to be that person to them. It's instantaneous.

My stomach walks right out of my torso and falls flat on the floor when I can feel rejection coming. For work, from people; I handle it but I feel the soreness for days. And then I have to talk it out and figure it out, so I don't ever make the same mistake again.

My mood gets so much brighter when I am hopeful. But in a matter of mere moments my hopefulness can change to doubt. Without reassurance I live in a state of analyzing and criticizing and planning.

It's okay to feel these things fully. It's not okay to constantly react and allow them to rule my life. Feel them, talk about them but don't carry them around anymore. I'm working on it.

I have learned so much about myself this year. I like control and I like to plan and I like my piece of paper to be perfectly made. But my paper was torn. And I've come to terms with it. I've always had a physical style of mismatching clothes and eclecticism, so why can't I live a bit like that too? It's not about the piece of paper and if my pencil is sharpened and if it's crisp and free of scribbles. I've realized that I like a bit of scribbling.

Grace doesn't have the perfect husband. She doesn't have a little family that society taught her was perfect. She may never have that again. She doesn't have a job that people understand. She doesn't do or say or look or feel or act like a lot of people expect her to.

She may live the rest of her life writing about DIY projects or she may do something bigger than we all realized she could. She may date someone that no one approves of or understands. She may end up with someone that logistically makes no sense to outsiders but makes her feel something so much differently than before. She may need that. She may start traveling the world and creating new memories. She may - have already - gotten on Tinder because her best friend made her and had a hilarious experience. She may have written about that already too. She may get her next degree from Johns Hopkins, like she was supposed to three years ago. She may be a college professor when she's older and gray. She doesn't care though. The plan is to live and to figure it out later because what matters are the feelings.

I really like paper but it doesn't have to be perfect anymore. I refuse to go into the next chapter, story, scene, experience ... of my life ... and use the plan in my head as the foundation for how to live it.

I don't need anything other than an open mind, fearless heart and an "I don't give a f*ck" attitude. And all throughout what comes, I'll be raising Claire quite differently than I had expected. Sometimes I still get a bit sad about that but I also believe that this will be so much better now. She's going to learn how to take care of herself, to embrace the giggles, to do right by your friends and family, to be strong, to stand your ground, to listen to your feelings and to listen to others, to never quit, to never look for the easy way out, to never be a follower; she would have learned all of that from me no matter what. But now she'll learn how to take life as it comes and to never settle; she'll learn that from me too.

I may be insane for a lot of things. I may be insane for dreaming really big and in most eyes, unrealistically. I may be insane for not taking a pen and paper to my next relationship. I may be insane for following my best friend to Australia in a few months. I may even be more insane for sharing so much with so many people, a lot of who I lock eyes with on a weekly basis, a lot of strangers. And if that's the case, so be it. I'm insane. But I'm going to have a hell of a lot of fun.
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