Archive | February, 2017

Answering the question

28 Feb

My youngest sister, Kari, is a blogger and a single lady like me. Our love lives or lack thereof are of great interest to our family members, and mine is especially important to my Great Uncle Duane. Every time he sees me, the first question he asks is, “Do you have a boyfriend yet?” Not, “How have you been, my darling great niece?” or “Have you run any interesting marathons lately?” I love my Great Uncle Duane.

Kari is doing The Single Woman’s 30-Day Blogging Challenge on her blog, Time to Grow, and I thought I’d join in. Today we answer every single woman’s favorite question: “And why are YOU still single?”

If I had a quarter for every time someone asked me that question, I’d have at least 10 dollars.

For years I hated that question because I thought the answer was, “I’m broken,” or fucked up or a mess or seriously ugly. When I look in the mirror on most days, I think I’m kind of pretty, but I used to wonder if maybe I was really, truly ugly to the vast majority of people and I just had no clue. Since that was probably not the case, I worried that in fact I was still single because no one would ever want a person as imperfect as I am.

At times I have been physically, spiritually, and emotionally unhealthy. I have suffered from debilitating depression, and I have been hospitalized several times for trying to kill myself. I also abused alcohol and did a lot of very stupid things when I was drinking. No one would ever want me because of that, right? As if that weren’t enough, I have unwanted facial hair, reggae music in the morning makes me feel homicidal, and I am technically, probably, agnostic.

After believing for most of my life that there was something seriously wrong with me, I slowly had two very important realizations. The first was that plenty of people who are arguably more messed up than I am (not that I’m keeping score) have romantic partnerships and are even married (hello, Kardashians). The second was that the right someone will love me in spite of, or perhaps because of, all of the experiences and idiosyncrasies that make me me.

Now I’m older and a bit more secure (after years of therapy and a 12-step program), and I’m also pickier than I used to be. I won’t go out with someone just because they are wearing cute socks or because they say, “Hey beautiful,” and I don’t care about a Harley or a pickup or 100 acres of land or how big a fish a guy can catch. Guys in North Dakota are all about the fish. I don’t get that. So it’s harder for me to meet men than it used to be.

Today I’ll answer the question a bit differently than I might have years ago. “Why are you still single?” people ask, as if it’s any of their business. “Because I haven’t met the right person yet.”

 

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Turning down invitations

26 Feb

Today I turned down an invitation from a guy on the dating site because I thought he was too good-looking for me. There. I said it.

Ok, I know what you’re thinking, and I’ll get to that in a minute. Let me explain.

facebook_face_by_beardedboywonder

When he first sent me a message a week ago, he had no pictures on his profile and he asked me to be a sober cab for him because my profile says I don’t drink. First of all, guys who don’t have pictures on their profiles are either 1. married or unavailable, 2. a notorious criminal or simply incarcerated, or 3. unusually unattractive. Think about it…why else would someone who wants to attract a mate/partner/date not put pictures on their profile? Whatever reasons you can come up with, they are not the real ones.

Second, he asked me to drive his drunk ass home. Basically, that’s what he asked. I would do that for any of my friends or family members, and for a stranger if the opportunity presented itself and I felt confident they wouldn’t throw up in my car, but that is not the opening line you want to use — especially when you don’t have pictures on your profile, you creepy weirdo!

Today he messaged me out of the blue and asked me to go to a hockey game with him tonight. Still no pictures on his profile. I said I was busy. When he sent another message, there were like 10 pictures on his profile.

He was/is very attractive. He has sandy blonde hair and piercing blue eyes. You guys, I thought he was out of my league.

Don’t say that’s sad. Don’t say it means I don’t like myself or think I am ugly. It’s not sad, I do like myself (a lot!), and I think I’m pretty. But there are leagues. You might not believe it, but if you’re 45 and you’ve never been married and you’ve been on as many first dates as I have, you start to think that there are leagues and some people are above your league and some people are…well…below. I’m not making value judgments, and this is not all about looks. When you spend a lot of time in the drive-thru dating world, you come up with ideas about how things work. Leagues is one of my ideas.

He said he’d been rejected many times when he asked women to casually hang out. This dude needs a lesson, because he didn’t have pictures at first and he uses the wrong pick-up lines and his pictures make him look like a big party guy. Women who like big party guys are soon to be all over that dude, but I am not one of those women.

I also recently received messages from:

  • Hoke, a military man who is widowed, currently in Syria, and looking for the right women. Not woman, women. For cuddling and fishing. He is willing to relocate to North Dakota for love.
  • A military warrant officer, currently serving in Iraq, whose pictures appear to have been stolen from the GQ website. His profile was beautifully written. His messages to me were not.
  • A social studies teacher who asked if I was into submission. When I said no, he asked if I was into anything kinky or if I had any fantasies. I told him there are other sites for that.
  • A Middle Eastern law student who lives in my town. His ethnicity says Middle Eastern. He is not, to my knowledge, studying Middle Eastern law.
  • A nice young man who drives the shuttle at the dome and would like to get into running but says it’s painful.
  • A Croatian engineer who asked me to tell me more about myself, “in full.”

I’m at home tonight with Melvin, and we’re going to eat grass-fed beef and watch Nicolas Cage movies. Did you know he plays the same character in pretty much every movie? He probably never has to learn new lines that way.

Eating the Whole30

24 Feb

Two weeks ago, I joined a friend and some family members in the Whole30 nutritional program. Initially, my objective was to help overcome or abate my dependency on sugar. To be fair, I was not an addict like some people are. I could have quit at any time. But I found myself relying on sugary foods, mostly sugary coffee drinks, for a pick-me-up or a crutch that I didn’t really need. So, I decided to reboot.

I chose to take a little sidestep last weekend when I was staying with a friend. He made me a delicious breakfast (scrambled eggs with bacon, lots of veggies, and cheese plus homemade bread and butter) two days in a row, and there was no way in hell I was going to turn that down or say, “I can’t eat that.” Officially, then, I went 100% Whole30 just four days ago.

Essentially, the Whole30 suggests that you eat whole, real, unprocessed (or minimally processed) foods. You don’t eat sugar (white, brown, turbinado, cane) or forms like glucose or lactose, or things like carrageenan or syrups that pass for sugar, and no dairy including cheese, grains, or legumes for 30 days.

cover-for-book-page

Then what do you eat? Meats that are minimally processed (did you know there is sugar in your deli meats?), fruits and vegetables including potatoes, eggs, seeds and nuts, and healthy fats (my FAVE!).

Today, for example, I ate an omelet with homemade ground turkey “chorizo” and pumpkin seed pesto for breakfast and coffee with coconut cream (not creamer). For lunch, I made a meatless power bowl with red cabbage, avocado, and sweet potatoes topped with a soft cooked egg and a dressing made with almond butter and apple cider vinegar. And for dinner I ate a mocha-rubbed beef roast that I made in the crockpot with a side of sauteed Brussels sprouts, baby carrots, and onion.

Here’s what I love about Whole30:

  • I eat more color and more vegetables.
  • I spend more money at the grocery store but less on coffee drinks or eating at restaurants.
  • I cook for myself, and I’m a really good cook!
  • I’m finding lots of great recipes and blogs to follow.
  • My gut feels good — no bloating, gas, or indigestion.
  • I don’t get a sugar crash in the afternoon

Here’s what is challenging:

  • I am sleeping poorly, though I think that is not connected to my diet. I have been having trouble with sleep and fatigue recently, so I am going to see a doctor.
  • I have some acid reflux, which I think is from the fats (coconut and olive oil and avocados — yum!). I’ve actually been dealing with this for a while now, too.
  • I am nervous about going out to eat or eating at someone’s house, and that bothers me. The Whole30 website and book give helpful suggestions for dealing with social events!
  • I am also doing Weight Watchers at this time (I started before I began Whole30) and you’re not supposed to weigh or measure yourself during Whole30. I am weighing myself, but I do it once a week at the exact same time on the same scale.
  • Even healthy fats are high in points, so I am going over my daily points pretty much every day. I have never really had a problem with healthy fats though, so I kind of don’t care about that!

Here’s what I’m learning and noticing:

  • When you tell people you’re doing anything related to eating or diet, whether it’s adding or changing or eliminating, no matter what your reason is, someone is going to say you’re doing it wrong, you don’t need to do it, or their way is better.
  • I don’t ever say, “I can’t eat that.” The truth is, I am simply choosing not to eat it, whatever “it” is, at this time.
  • I don’t classify entire categories of food or macro-nutrients as “bad” and I am not planning to eliminate any foods from my life forever.
  • I don’t miss sweets or even my beloved tortilla chips, and I am not looking for substitutes for them. An important part of Whole30 is changing your habits and thought patterns related to food, which is why those pancakes made from bananas, eggs, and oil are not allowed. Each of those foods are Whole30 foods, but your brain doesn’t know the difference between those pancakes and the other kinds.

Overall, I love this and am enjoying the fact that I’m making choices I feel good about.

Have you done Whole30? Tell me how it was for you!

Giving up sugar

14 Feb

Nothing makes me want sugar as much as when a website tells me I can’t have it for 30 days.

In general, I have fairly healthy eating habits. I eat mostly meats and other lean proteins, vegetables (which I love), and fruits. Though I don’t label particular foods or entire categories of foods “good” or “bad,” I have not eaten bread, pasta, or beans (for the most part) since November, and I rarely eat sweets.

But sugary coffee drinks are my one vice. And nachos if you want to call nachos a vice. I love good coffee, but I like heavy cream in it. And once in a while, sometimes once a day when I get rolling with the excuses for drinking them, I like mochas. It’s a lot of sugar, and I enjoy every single gram. I mean, it’s like a balm for my beleaguered soul.

coffee-heart

I want to quit sugary coffee drinks. I know my body does not need them, and I have to imagine there really aren’t a lot of health benefits to consuming them. And let’s not even talk about the cost! If I put that money toward my student loans, I have them paid off!

So with the help of a friend, I have decided to try the Whole30 Plan. I have tried other similar plans and have experienced many of the benefits of eating whole, unprocessed foods: decreased pain and headaches, better mood and sleep, and more energy to name a few. But every time I begin such a program, I mourn the loss of my sugary coffee drinks.

Today I went all Fat Tuesday and got the most sugary coffee drink I could: a white chocolate/dark chocolate mocha with whipped cream, sprinkles, and a chocolate heart on top. I was like, “If I’m going to give up sugar starting on Valentine’s Day for crying out loud, then I’m damn sure going out in a blaze of glory!”

And that attitude, right there, is exactly why I am working on giving up sugar. It’s not about the side effects. It’s about the mindset. I don’t drink sugary coffee drinks because I like them. I drink them because I think I need them to be happy.

I understood why giving up sugary coffee drinks matters for me when I read the Whole30 “Can I have…?” guidelines regarding those pancakes that are made with only banana, egg, and oil. Because bananas, eggs, and (some) oils are approved, right?

Pancakes in any form do not encourage success with the Whole30 program. Reaching your health goals depends on committing to both the rules and the spirit and intention of the program. The Whole30 is designed to change your relationship with food, first and foremost. And the psychological impact of eating pancakes as part of your healthy eating, life-changing plan cannot be ignored.

They go on (and on about pancakes):

You may not have an affinity for pancakes, but we find that most people who complete our program do best without any of these comfort/trigger/reminiscent-of-the-SAD-stuff-you-used-to-eat foods.

I don’t know what “SAD” foods are, but I bet mochas are on the list. So I’m giving them up. I may even give up coffee altogether because I mostly drink it for the heavy cream, and dairy is not a Whole30 food. If you’re my friend or coworker, you might want to steer clear of me for a few days until I get the hang of this.

Nurturing my relationship with food

12 Feb

I have a complicated relationship with food.

It troubles me that I can make such a statement. I think it is a decidedly Western, and perhaps even U.S. American, Generation-X, “I need to define these feelings” sort of notion that I can have a relationship with food. It does, after all, go into my mouth and come out of, well, the other end. But it’s what happens before I even begin to eat it that makes me fret.

guacamole

I love food. I love the taste of it. I love the smell of it. I love the texture. I love the way it makes me feel. I love when I feed someone and they love me because I fed them good food.

I hate food. I actually hate (that’s a very strong word) the way I feel about food. I hate the idea that some foods are “good” while others are “bad,” and that I feel good or bad about myself for making certain choices. I hate that some foods scare me because I can’t control myself around them, like ruffle potato chips and French onion dip (with which I have had an out-of-body experience). I hate that we judge ourselves and others for the foods we eat and the amounts of food we consume.

I obsess about food. This should have become clear by now. Some foods call out to me like the Sirens called to Odysseus. When I want a particular food, like a chocolate truffle for example, I make myself crazy thinking about why I should not eat it. I go over and over the rationale for not eating it, and then I go over and over the reasons I can eat whatever the fuck I want. I sit in my apartment and think about it. Then I get in my car and think about it. Then I drive to the grocery store and park my car and walk into the store and walk to the bakery department and walk past the dessert case and walk right back to my car without making eye contact with anyone and then finally, after the door is locked and the engine is started, I take a breath.

I buy toys to spice up my relationship with food. I have been wanting one of those spiral cutter “As Seen On TV” things so I can bring some excitement to my zucchini. I finally bought one, and it didn’t make the zucchini taste better. It was pretty to look at though.

Food should be something that nourishes and sustains me. It should be fuel for my activities. Instead, food is comfort. It takes away pain. It’s a way to hurt myself. It helps me feel less lonely. It makes me feel sad. It’s a celebration and a consolation. And that, my friends, is just the start of an explanation about why my relationship with food is so complicated.

I cannot quit this relationship, as much as I would like to do just that, so I have to figure out how to make it work. I need to balance this relationship with the other relationships in my life. Or maybe, just maybe, I should let go of the idea that I have a relationship with guacamole and tortilla chips–that they have any sort of significance other than to serve as a delicious snack–and just (for crying out loud!) eat them.

Wondering WTF

11 Feb

Guys from the dating sites ask questions and make requests that exasperate me. These are people I have never met before. They have read (or not read) a bit about me, but really they don’t know me from Eve. 

  • Text me a picture of you sweating. 
  • Do you like intimacy? 
  • What are your hopes and dreams? 
  • How is your winter going? 
  • Do you like the nachos at Ground Round? 

    Those are just the ones I received today. 

    The intimacy question really bothered me. Now, I completely understand why a stranger who is assessing my potential as a romantic partner would want to know if I like intimacy and would ask me for specific details. He is making sure I’m not like one of the last women he met, maybe his ex-wife. Their relationship fizzled. Maybe they stopped having sex and never kissed or held hands. He wants to know if I am going to be like her because if there’s even a slight chance, he’s going to drop me like a hot potato. 

    The fact is, with the right person, I love intimacy. In fact, the specifics would probably cause your jaw to drop. But that is none of your goddamn business until we get to know each other! 

    Right?! 

    Is there something wrong with me because I think these are strange or inappropriate lines of inquiry coming from a stranger? Maybe we don’t have a clue about how to interact with others anymore. When you want to get to know someone better, isn’t there a list of safe questions that aren’t awkward or provocative? Or do you just go for the big ones right away? 

    Maybe I’m not cut out for Internet dating anymore. I should return to the Victorian era and fall in love with a poet. 

    Managing Melvin

    9 Feb

    Melvin is going to be 10 years old in March. For the first half of his life, he rarely made any noise that I can recall. Then shortly after his older brother left us for the catnip field in the sky, Melvin became more chatty. Still, he uses his voice mostly to complain and yell at me, and often he makes a sound that reminds me of Marge Simpson when she gets exasperated.

    Melvin is my feline companion. Lately he has an anxiety disorder or maybe some pent-up aggression. He gets mad and freaked out at least twice a day. Every time he does, I say to him almost the exact same words in the exact same order:

    Boo Boo, why are you so mad? You should not be sad in your heart. You should be happy in your heart! You have food and water and a clean litter box and kitty crack and treats and a warm bed and a scratching post and a kitty condo. You have a mom who loves you and hugs you and kisses you a hundred times a day. You don’t have any reason to be mad!

    This week on Monday and Tuesday, I was in a VERY BAD MOOD. I could (and did) speculate about the reason or reasons why, but the bottom line is I was choosing to be angry and I was one hundred percent aware of that fact. On Tuesday night I fell asleep obsessing about an issue in my life and rehearsing the piece of my mind I was going to give to the person I was blaming for a good chunk of my unhappiness.

    And then on Wednesday morning, when I was managing Melvin’s morning anxiety attack, it occurred to me that I should do the same for myself.

    People in the recovery community often suggest that you make a gratitude list when you are feeling upset or depressed. When anyone suggests that to me, I want to punch them in the face. But obviously there’s some merit to focusing on the positive rather than the negative — in almost any situation.

    So instead of feeling my anger, which was wearing me the hell out to be honest, I started to think about all of the reasons I have to be happy. They are numerous, for I am a fortunate, healthy, and privileged person. And wouldn’t you know it, Wednesday was a much better day.

    If you ask me for advice when you are struggling with your emotions, I will never tell you to make a list. I will, however, suggest that you give yourself the same comfort you would give a friend, child, or your pissed off pet. I bet you will find your soothing words helpful.