Monday, January 31, 2011

A Snowy Night

Tonight I spent the evening with a good gay bf - Ben*.  I picked a place just off the "El" for us to meet.  A straight bar with 50% off the entire menu.  He is, in some ways, like my brother.  I've always had a special feeling for him.  He's just a special, kind-hearted, thoughtful guy.  This is the first time we've actually said we were going to get together and made it happen.  Although there was an impending blizzard we still made it happen.  And of course, with the blizzard everyone goes immediately home, so the place was dead.  We ordered a buffet of Korean tacos, tempura shrimp (which wasn't actually tempura but fried - still yummy), tomato bisuq soup (eh, it was so-so) and some cocktails.  It was so dead that the cook brought us a complimentary dish of bacon-wrapped dates in a vodka sauce that was to dah fer!

Ben is the kind of person who is the voice of reason.  He's the one you can talk about anything to and he totally gets it.  He's self-aware, and aware of the world around him, and tries to live a life that makes a difference, as most of us do or aspire to do.  Ben is my sounding board.  Someone I trust deeply and I know will never judge me but ask questions that provoke my thought (yes, I know he's reading this!).  So, it was an awesome evening of sharing, asking and telling. Ben is the kind of guy who, when you're leaving says "You know, I'm going to tip the waiter/bartender more because it was half off night."  For me, who worked her way through college as a waitress and bartender, I feel terrible I didn't think of it.  But Ben did. And to top it off, he walked me the few blocks to the bus stop, across from the "El" cuz he's a gentleman like that.

Tonight feels like December or the beginning of January.  This storm is late, in a our terms.  However, it feels like Old Man Winter is saying You haven't seen the last of me and this is my last chance.   Indeed, we're never sorry to see him go, but if it weren't for the winter, summer just wouldn't be so great in Chicago.  People around the world wouldn't talk about how amazing this city is in the summer.  While we rarely let bad weather keep us down, summer is when we are all at our best.  We'd take it for granted, like they do in the South and Southwest.  People wouldn't live every day to the fullest, caring less about sleep and more about being out, about and present in the warmth still radiating from the city sidewalks.  No, it just wouldn't be the same.

As we walked down the street, we are bombarded with small snow bits (not even big enough to be flakes) that dance in the wind and chill our faces.  Both of us covered from head to tail in winter gear and snow.  As always, I give him a kiss on the cheek and we agree to do this again....soon.  two and half hours and we still didn't cover everything.

Once off the bus, I begin the trek down my block.  I've written about it before, but tonight it actually happened - one of the things I love about the city - a snow covered street.  I wish I could take a picture so you could see it in it's beauty.  The block is silent and I have a spiritual moment (shutup! it is!).  It's spiritual because of its beauty - pure - and no matter how many times I experience it, I'm still filled with wonder at it.  I do not take it for granted.  The sounds of nearby city vehicles muted.  It's as if a blanket has been laid down over everything quashing the sounds of the city.  The street lights bounce off the snow and it's suddenly brighter, not to mention a wee bit safer.  The snow continues to blow into my face and only momentarily blocked by a house or four.  I. Feel. So. ALIVE.  I slow my pace, knowing it's just a few blocks to my house and I want to enjoy it; savor this feeling.  It's a high.  I want to enjoy it because I'm blessed to have a warm coat, hat and gloves on.  I want to enjoy it because I have a warm, dry house awaiting me.  I am blessed.  If there's ever a time to realize what you have, it's now.  I can only imagine what it would be like to be out there now, waiting for the several inches to fall into place, and no where to go.  No warm home.  Only a crowded shelter.  (Now, those of you who know me, know that I've worked with the homeless for 20 years.  There are those who choose, those who don't and those who don't know the difference.  I reflect and pray for the latter two.)  And, I'm super blessed to have no where to go but my home office and out to shovel in the morning (my back!  hahaha).

Even now, as I write, my face continues to sing from the chill and life that was soft burned into it walking.  I already have a rosy color - thanks to my heritage, and one I've spent a lifetime trying to cover.  It's only been recently that I've embraced my naturally rouged hue and now feel the life within those cheeks.  You just don't get this same feeling when you go from garage to car to parking lot to building.  You just don't. You can only feel it when you spend real time outside, walking, playing with the dog or kids.  You have to enjoy it.  It's not a burden but a reminder that while the sun makes us feel alive with its warmth, that the snow, it's beauty and chill, can do the same.

To those of you in the path of the storm, be safe, stay in and go out when you must.  You know who you are.


Steven: Date Three

Someone's nose must have been itching because in moments after posting yesterday, Steven texted:

S: "Are you driving or do you want me to pick you up"
E: "I don't have a car but happy to cab it.  What time?
S: I'll pick you up. 6pm."
E: "Okie Dokie"

What? No "Hi gorgeous"?  Hmmmm....come on and keep the flirting going, dude!

My outfit was laid out on my bed, I showered at 2:30 and then chilled with Meow Mix to paint my nails with a glass of wine.  This is painstaking as some of my polish, I can never remember which, gets bubbly.  Fuck!  Do over! And...Do over!  Finally, acceptable, but not perfect.  I can live with it.

It's Sunday and that means I call my Mom and Dad.  Because I'm meeting Steven at 6:00 (my regular call time) I call her at 4:00.  "Hi!" "Hi, yourself." "What are you doing?" "I'm watching Dr. Zhivago.  I've never seen it."  "Okay, well call me back but I have a date at 6:00 so if not we can talk tomorrow."  "Okay, Love you!" "Love you!" I go back to watching TV and fanning my nails as if I'm desperate to lift myself off the couch by that motion alone.

At 5: 15 I slowly get ready and Steven shows up at my house right on time.  I know this because I am totally ready and see him through the living room blinds walk up to the house.  Wait for him to knock.  Waiting, toe tapping.   Come on and just knock on the door. I can even hear him coughing on the front stoop. The phone rings. "Hi!" "Hi! I'm downstairs."  "Okay, I'll be two shakes."

I walk downstairs and he's at the door with this smirk-smile he does.  It's like he knows something know one else does, and yet it must be funny because it's not devilish, but just....happy.  A quick kiss hello, he grabs my hand, helps me down the stairs and into the car.  We're his place.

I've come to realize over the years that you can never anticipate what a guy's place will be like.  The one's who look so put together can live in a complete pigsty and those who you think are a total mess are the complete opposite at home.  Still, you do get those who are a mess all around and those men who are so totally meticulous about their home you're afraid to touch anything.  It's like being in a museum and you're ready for them to say "I don't use dishes.  They get dirty, so we'll just eat off the freshly polished floors."  With Steven, I had no idea what to expect but figured it wasn't going to be too bad. 

Steven doesn't actually live that far from me, but it was certainly a neighborhood I haven't been in before - remember when I said in a few minutes you can be in a completely different neighborhood?  Even if you've lived in the city 20 years.  It's true.  He owns a three-flat brownstone that he purchased in the late 90's and did a complete gut rehab.  He rents out the second floor to a gal with two dogs, who bark non-stop until she gets home.  Smells like separation anxiety and possibly lack of exercise.  Anywhoo...I'm not here to be the Dog Whisperer apprentice, which I'd actually enjoy, come to think of it.  The third floor is vacant, at the moment.

We park outside the house.  I get out of the car and he comes around to meet me, grabbing my hand and helping we walk carefully across the snow laden grass patch (this is what we call a yard in Chicago) to the front gate, which he gingerly unlocks and then helps me up the cement stairs - original to the 100 year-old house.  There's some ice and he immediately grabs a scoop of de-icer and puts it down.  Brownstones that are broken up into flats typically have one main door that immediate leads to two doors - one for the main floor apartment and one to the second floor.  The third floor entrance is normally off the back of the house.  His door is on the right and we walk in.  Immediately in front of me is a beautiful, large umbrella holder.  A large wall mirror to my left.  I turn to look past the open wall banister into his living room with large, but comfortable looking furniture, two almost tragic pieces of artwork, a large, wooden square coffee table just about a foot tall, and....the projector.  This is a strange new, or at least new to me, trend for boys with toys.  They might have a television and a projector or just the projector.  In this case, there's only the projector, right in front of me, pointing at what would be a beautiful bay of windows but is actually covered by a large retractable screen.  Boys and their toys.  It's hilarious.

I follow Steven to the left through the open floor plan into the dining room.  Here is where he keeps most of his travel treasures from South America.  They adorn the fireplace mantel and above them is a gorgeous oil painting of a long dark-haired woman in a red skirt and white top off her left shoulder.  She is sitting in a chair shyly looking out to us.  She's like a Latino Mona Lisa.  I can't take my eyes off of her. In the center of the room is a large, and I actually mean, HUGE wood table surrounded by an assortment of antique chairs - two leather studded chairs at each end.  It must have taken an army of strapping (mmm..yum) men to move this monstrosity in to the house.  At both ends, the table has a beautiful ceramic tile inlay. Two extra chairs sit in the corners.  This thing is so huge I don't how anyone would get around the table to get those chairs.  It's beautiful but just too big for the space.  As I turn left to follow him down the hallway I notice a wood built in full of his travel treasures - masks made of porcelain and wood, textiles, books and little knick knacks.  I walk down the hall passed the bathroom - big and gorgeous with white subway tile and this ornate cabinet and sink.  I'll check more of that out later.  More artwork in the hallway.

I see the kitchen ahead of me and walk in.  The floors throughout the space are all original.  As I look right the cream, ornate, Mediterranean-inspired cabinets sweep around two walls with the sink in the corner.  Sweeping around further at the end of the cabinets are two rustic wood shelving units with all kinds of unique foods. Passed the door to the back and the refrigerator stands alone. In the center of the room is an old table with two large pieces of granite sitting on top (these granite pieces also appear on the counter tops, which are not granite themselves.

When I walk in Steven is in the process of getting everything ready for dinner.  He pulls out a box of noodles, a huge plastic jug of Ragu, a large jar of minced garlic and a bag of Swiss cheese slices.  No kidding.  I can't make this shit up.  This is dinner.  He turns to put water in the pan and reaches out for me.  I succumb and he kisses me.  Both of us forget about the water for a moment until I pull away.  Normally in this situation I would be uncomfortable and pull away immediately, but I didn't.  I've resolved to let love in and there's only one way, to allow it to happen; to give it a shot.  He turns to pull the pot out from under the water and put it on the burner.  In the meantime, I walk to a spot by the table.  After turning on the burner he comes to me, opens his arms and we just...hug.  It seemed like eternity and yet it ended too quickly.  He pulls away slightly and kisses me again this time with much more diligence.  He steps away to stir the noodles.

Steven isn't really a chatty guy.  He's kind of quiet and walks around with his smirky-smile, perfectly content in his own world. So I begin to ask him questions about his family.  "My mom lives in Puerto Rico, so we have someplace to visit!" She moved shortly after her divorce to his father.  He is the middle child of three boys and then a half brother.  His youngest brother moved to Puerto Rico with his mother.  Two live close by and one in Miami.  "Have you been to Miami?  We have a place to stay when we go."  Hmmm...making future plans....hmmmm.  The saddest part is that when his mother comes to visit she chooses to spend time with his brother and his kids.  I can tell it kind of bothers him.  "Do you want to watch a movie?"  "Sure."  He leads me back to the living room and pulls out three large plastic trays of movies. Two more remain on the floor next to the couch.  It's either the "Tales of Despereaux", "Battlestar Galactica" or "Get Smart".  I pick the latter.

I walk back into the kitchen and ask him more about his house.  "Yeah, and it's great to have a roommate to help out."  What? Uhm...roommate was never mentioned before.  "Well, it's nice of him to let you have the place to yourself tonight." Cough. "Uhm yeah."

The noodles are done and he pulls out two colorful plates out of the cabinet and sets them on the table.  After draining, he grabs one plate and spoons some spaghetti on to it, sets it down in front of me and instructs me to scoop my preferred amount of garlic on the noodles.  He then takes the big jug of Ragu and pours it on until I say stop.  Next he takes two slices of Swiss cheese, places it on top of the concoction, covers it and puts it in the microwave.  I stand there watching in some disbelief.  He repeats the pattern for himself. While I'm waiting for his to cook, I turn to the refrigerator to read the article posted with magnets.  Steven walks up behind me, wraps his arms around my waist and snuggles his nose into my neck. " smell good." The microwave dings and he turns away to pull his plate out.  Each plate goes on a tray with fork, a glass of water for me and homemade apple juice for him.  We walk back to the living room and place the trays on the coffee table.  He puts in the movie, turns on the projector, hits the lights and we sit to eat. I'm not going to lie, I was a little skeptical, I mean, are you serious?  I dated a guy once who said he'd cook for me, but didn't have a clue.  It took two months before I realized he was getting take out from a variety of restaurants.

Trying to be nice. "Not bad.  The Swiss cheese gives it a different flavor."  "See! I knew you'd love it."  "Well, love is a bit much.  Let's see if I throw it up or not.  Thanks.  He grabs my head and presses our faces together. He laughs.  When Steven laughs he leans his head back, opens his mouth and the sound rises from his Buddha belly.  A little like Santa but not has full or long.

We finish dinner and I head to the bathroom.  Once in the bathroom my breath is slightly taken away.  he rehabbed this?  It's beautiful.  I look at the toilet and go to grab some TP, cuz I always do that prior to squatting, cuz you never know, and on top of the toilet is a curling iron.  Hmmmm... I finish my business and go to wash my hands.  Right there on the shelf is a wooden leaf and in it lay a cool turquoise ring. I try it on and it fits.  A female's ring. his roommate a woman?  Hmmm....why didn't he say something?  Whatever.

I return to the couch, kick off my shoes and grab the blanket to warm my bare feet - his apartment is chill-ill-lee.  He asks if I want to lay down, I say yes, and he whisks away the pillows from the couch selecting two to position behind our heads.  He maneuvers himself behind me to be on the inside and pulls me, hugging the blanket ,back to lay in the nook of his arm.  Of course, he now takes this moment to put his hand on my stomach - please don't feel the bulge.  He reaches up to my face, grabs my chin and pulls my face to his for a serious make out session.  I can tell he's, cough, enjoying it because he moans and the tongue is set free.  I just don't know what to do with that thing!  The majority of the kissing is good but this animal must. be. tamed!  "'re a good kisser.  I just realized that."  Yes, cuz I don't have a wild animal in my mouth.  We stop to take a breath and all of a sudden he's got heartburn and gas (burping not the farting kind like me).  We go back to watching the movie and when it seems to have resolved itself he comes in for more.  It continues this way for awhile.

Half way through the movie he apparently decides he wants more and we just start making out.  Some light petting and he's on top of me.  "We should move to the bedroom." Dingalingaling.  Warning Epiphany.  Warning!  "Actually, would you be upset if I..." "No!" I smile. "Good, it's just that I'm enjoying the pace that we're at."  "Totally."  We continue to make out and he sits up, pulls me on top of him so that I'm actually sitting on his lap.  All of a sudden there's a key in the dead bolt and we both jump.  His legs move out from under me to a seated position on the couch.  My legs are still behind his back and I'm covered with the blanket.  His arm rests on the back of the couch.  It's his roommate.

She (yes I said SHE) is a cute blonde in her 40's.  He makes introductions and I'm kind of confused why he didn't correct me earlier and say that the he was actually a she.  Did he think I would be jealous or something?  To me this is not a big deal, I had a male roommate at one point but he was always with his girlfriend and almost never home.  I still remember when we had a huge spider (E does NOT do spiders) on the vaulted ceiling of our apartment.  Both of us were standing on the couch screaming like girls.  Here I thought I would have a man around the house and I ended up with an eight year-old girl.  Finally we called some real men  to come dispose of the nuisance. I still laugh about that moment. 

The roommate walks back into her room and closes the door.  I look at Steven and laugh.  I can't stop.  "What?"  Trying to catch my breath, "Oh. My. Gosh.  I suddenly felt like I was 17 again!"  We both laugh and laugh.  With her settled in we continued watching the movie.  When it was over, Steven grabbed my feet under the blanket and I laid back on the couch.  He is a terrific masseuse!  Whoops!  I just let a little toot or two come out.  Damn gassy ass!  Well now he knows I fart. I try to cover it by asking questions and we talk.  We talk about scary dreams, my Nuclear bomb, and his repetitive dream from childhood that came every night.  He described how after some time he was actually able to start controlling the dream and change it.  To me it sounded like a video game and I wondered if he was joking, but he wasn't.  It apparently went on every night for years. We talked more about his family, his Mom moving, and the rest of it.  Steven is quite shy when he opens up and talks about himself.  There's a clear discomfort there but it was so nice to learn more about him.

Soon there after we were laying together again, this time E was crammed into the nook between the cushion and the back of the couch.  Very cozy and warm!  His heartburn was still acting up (and thank goodness because I think he wouldn't have stopped kissing and touching me!  It was the perfectly timed, required time out.)  However, at one point, after massaging my head (LOVE!), he began running his fingers down my neck.  My eyes were closed and I heard the direction of his breathing change to look at me.  The way I was laying compressed the little girls (with the help of a padded bra) into real cleave!  His fingers ran lower and lower down the open v-neck of my tee and I thought I was going to lose it!  I can feel my will power crumbling under his touch.  I think screw it (pun intended) and suddenly I regain sanity.  This is not how I want it to be.  It's great that we have such hot sexual chemistry, but I don't want this to be all there is. Plus, E, you're a little desperate for sex, admit it!  Finally, I stopped him and we gathered ourselves, breath included, so he could take me home.  He cupped my face with one hand and said "Such a beautiful girl. I like you...a lot."  "You're growing on me," I reply with a laugh.  Then again, is he confusing desire with like?  It's a guy thing.  Men fall in love with their penis, women with their mind (thanks again for that information, Patty Stinger!).

Finally we peel ourselves apart. He sits on the couch and reaches for my hand to pull me out of the abyss.  I stand to get my shoes and he grabs my hips, pulls me towards him and rests his head on my stomach.  He then raises my shirt to kiss my stomach.  Nnnnoooo not the bbbulllgeee!  I stop him and pull him up.  He turns on the light so I can find my shoes.  We put the couch back together and get ready to leave. 

He grabs my hand as we walk to the car, opens the door for me to get in, I reach down to hit the door lock (so "Singles") and he gets in.  Within a few minutes we're outside my house and he asks in haste and excitement, as if he's suddenly remembered he hasn't asked me to get together again, "Hey, when am I going to see you again?"  Think strategically, E.  "I think Tuesday or Thursday.  Let me check when I get in and I'll text you."  "Ok".

Why, you ask, do I need to be strategic about this?  Well, for one good reason it's getting a bit heated and I need to tame that by not creating opportunities for it to happen too soon.  This means, NOT getting together with him Thursday-Saturday nights because he has three days off, which could mean late night dates and trouble.  I am not in a rush.  In the past, I would have ripped off his and my clothes and had sex too quickly.  Those relationships never had any depth.  We never just talked and got to know one another.  I want this to be different.  I want to find someone who is willing to wait, to have fun getting to know one another. So, Tuesday.  Tuesday is good.  We both have to work the next day, he at 5:30a. 

In the meantime, none of the other guys have contacted me except for The Wet Rag who texted the other night.  Unfortunately, a response must be given.  My standard one is "Just want to let you know that I've met some people and moving forward to see how things go there.  Take care."  Gentle but not devastating like "I'm sorry you're about as exciting as a wet rag.  I'm not interested."  There is Don who is a hottie and I think I'm going to text and ask when we're getting together.  I'm just going for it.


Sunday, January 30, 2011

I Love Marshall's

So the shopping turned out fruitful.  Gotta say, I love a little shopping therapy.  It took two hours. I was concerned because my body image is so-so at the moment, and while I'm still not thrilled with the vision in the mirror, I did end up getting two pairs of skinny jeans, Tommy Hilfiger and DKNY (in two DIFFERENT sizes - 1 up and 2 up ugh - go figure) for a total of $45 at Marshall's, and I FINALLY found a pair of flat brown boots for $40 at one of my secret shopping destinations, which will remain unnamed for the sake of it's secrecy.  Hey! If I tell you, everyone will be going there. 

I've decided on my outfit:  Tommy Hilfiger jeans, white short-sleeve v-neck T, Grey knit, open front cardigan with elbow-length sleeves, a long beaded necklace with greens and yellows (however worn with just about anything, different colors come out) and brown wedge open-toed shoes.  Hair: I'm going aux natural letting it air dry in that beachy wave that I've come to love.  I know, it's winter and there is still some snow on the ground but I'm growing tired of boots all the TIME!  It's casual for a home-cooked meal, but still fashionably sassy, and I love to be fashionable.

Fashion to me is an extension of who I am - creative, bold, outgoing - and I never fail to look in the closet and create a completely new outfit I've never worn before (made easier now that I have jeans).  People perceive you based on your fashion.  Someone who wears a suit that's too big with shoulder pads the size of Rockies, is seen as out of date, not current, and people, more than likely, won't do business with them unless they're looking for someone who isn't flashy, then they'll believe they're trustworthy because they're boring.  Not me, never been boring.  Never. And don't plan to start any time soon.  I always try very hard to mix classics with classic trendy stuff...the stuff that's hot right now but actually won't ever go out of style.  It's a carefully calculated balance.  

It's almost 1:30 and I have not heard from Steven about time (of which I assume he's picking me up)....but preparing for 6p just in case.  Hell, maybe I should plan earlier.  Mr. Spontaneous could show up any moment!  Here. We. Go.....Just hoping he's not thinking "third date is sex date".  Not happening.  I'm enjoying taking it slow.  I don't want to rush anything but enjoy the process of dating.  You only get so many first times...


Bad Dream: Change is Coming

Last week I saw a friend who I've worked with and known for 11 years.  We met because she worked for my client and became super fast friends often sharing our dating war stories.  She is now in her 40's and still drop dead gorgeous - when I saw her this summer (the first time in years) I wanted to throw up!  She has dated and dated and dated over the years, and why wouldn't she: she's GORGEOUS.  The funny thing is that she could never settle down with a guy.  Well, until she recently posted on Facebook that she's engaged.  Yep!

So, when I saw her last week I was all over the ring and questions about the guy.  "You know, it's weird," she said.  "I was very happy in my life.  I had good jobs, own my own condo, drive a great car, have amazing friends and the cutest dog...I was very happy.  He came to me on my terms and has made me want to settle down."

E: "The thing I have realized is that I'm afraid of getting into a relationship like this because I'm scared of making the wrong choice."
F: "Yeah, I was there too.  It's different when someone really wants to be with you they are always there, proving it."
E: "True, but I immediately see it as suffocation.  The guy does everything he should, just like a movie, and yet I see it as negative, not positive affection, or even that he's working to get my attention."
F: "Yep, sweetie, it's time gals like you and I realize and let go or we will be alone for life."
E: "Wise words, sister, wise words."

And with a quick hug she was off to pack for a trip to warm Mexico the next day with her fiance.

I got to thinking about it a little bit more this week, and I really am proud of myself for being part of something with Steven.  Even if it's just to see if there is substance there.  If I want to fall in love, or have someone fall in love with me, I at least have to give them a chance.  Damn fear!  Now I'm at this place where I've been alone for so long that it's what I know; it's safe.  I've dated men (subconsciously) who were emotionally and geographically unavailable because I knew it wouldn't go anywhere.  Problem is, that with the emotionally unavailable ones, there really are few warning signs.  It's not until they tell you they just got out of rehab on your fourth date that you see the RED flag.  Yet, ironically, I want to be in a relationship.  Go figure! 

Moreover, I am having these feelings that tell me to go out with others, try a few other boys on for size, and that could be the fear or "this is your last chance" talking.  Since I've rarely been in this place over the last 10 years, I do have this strange, retarded way of thinking that suggests I should only be dating one at a time.  This feeling of guilt that I'm going to be the one to do the hurting is somewhat overwhelming, and frankly it's stressing me out.  All of it.  However, my friends have sage advise on this:

"Date, date, date!  Dogs don't chase parked cars"
"Have fun...kisses aren't contracts"
I do know something big is about to happen.  Last night I dreamt that I was running and jumping into a revine to protect myself from a nuclear bomb blast.  I know, c-r-a-z-y.  You're thinking "what is going on?"  I have to admit that in my life when something is about to change for me I have these frightening, near-death dreams, which I can only explain as a warning that part of me is about to die and blossom into something new, or BIG changes are coming my way.  Usually it's tornados (hey, I'm a Kansas girl) or being shot at.  When I'm being chased and shot at I know that something needs to change but I am denying it from happening; hence running away from it.  Having an understanding keeps me alert and helps me realize when I need to let go.  To give up and let God! So you can imagine how I felt when I gasped and sat up in bed, sweating.  Nuclear bomb means something pri-tteee serious, me thinks.  What?  Well, we'll all find out together.

Of course I had to search for the meaning and here's what I got:
"To dream of a nuclear bomb, suggests feelings of helplessness and loss of control. You are experiencing some strong hostility and rage, where it is nearly destructive. Important changes are about to occur. You may also be expressing a desire to wipe out some aspect of yourself. Alternatively, the nuclear bomb serves as an indication that something crucial and precious to you has ended." my singledom?  Or maybe now I may believe that the process of deciding to move is really about letting go of everything I've held on so tightly to so I can actually grow and receive more blessings....

Why is it that when you answer questions others are created?

In the meantime, there are about 12 pairs of jeans in stack in my closet.  None that fit, so I'm preparing myself for an outing of finding the perfect pair to fit my new, wider butt and tummy, for tonight's date with Steven.  It's like boys, you have to try on a lot of them before you find the right one. 


Friday, January 28, 2011

Steven: Date Deux

At 3:30 Thursday I still had not received a call from Steven about our date, so I called him.

S:" Hi, gorgeous!"
E: "What are you doing?  Are you at work?"
S: "Nope, out shopping and running errands. You?"
E: "Ah, I'm working.  I hadn't heard from you and want to see if we're still on for tonight"
S: "We better be. I want to see you.  I was going to call you later but wasn't sure when you get off work."
E: "Cool, what's the plan?"
S: "I'll pick you up at 7:30 and we'll head to dinner."
E: "Groovy"

It was still 6:00p and I was rocking out to Michael Jackson and finishing up work until I realized I needed to get in the shower.  In a flash the shower is on and I'm ripping off clothing and letting them drop to the floor of my bathroom.  Now, I love my shower.  Last year Santa brought me a beautiful shower head that is so relaxing, I could actually let an hour slip by without notice.  That could have easily happened...but, it didn't.

Thursday was a pretty awesome day.  I established a new contract with a client, have interest from a new client (whom I actually met a year ago, but he wasn't ready for me yet) and...with a little extra cash in my pocket, and looking ahead, I decided to stop by one of my favorite consignment stores on the way home from my meeting at Starbucks.  

I adore this store, but you do have to be careful because there is a load of designer wear and you can easily spend a couple of hundred dollars.  This was not the case for me!  After trying on several pieces, I opted for a short, black cotton dress, sleeves that tie at the elbow and a low, scoop neck adorned with a roped piece of the same material for $42 and 20% off that, and a thick, woven belt in different shades of brown and a large silver buckle for $20 - it goes with EVERYTHING! Good investment.

Showered and shaved, and now somewhat sweaty from the steam, I turn up the Michael (thanks to the neighbors being at work) and dance around the living room.  I just lllooovvveeee Michael!  Pour a glass of wine, blow dry hair and walk into my bedroom where my outfit is perfectly laid out.  First, tights (NOTE: on dry winter days a hint of hairspray on tights helps prevent static cling), dress and back in the bathroom to put on make up and straighten hair.  It's now almost 7:00 and he'll arrive at 7:30.  Quick look in the mirror and I'm actually having a fantastic hair and make up day.  Yea!

I grab the same snake print clutch as before, put on some red socks and grab my camel boots, turn towards the living room to put on boots when like a banana peel under my foot my right foot slips and I come crashing down on my knee...on tile.  Ouch!  Now, this could be really bad.  Over 20 years ago I blew out m ACL and lately it seems the years of dancing are starting to take a toll.  I kind of freak out about it.  I sat on the floor.  DAMN IT!  Bend my knee.  No pain.  Shwew!  I get up and walk to the couch and have no pain.  Good, but I know it's going to be bruised and swollen for more than a few days.  I put on my boots.  Text:

S: "I'm down stairs"
E: thinking he better be at my front door "Can you hear Michael?"
S: "There's something wrong with you"
E: "You have no idea.  Be down in two shakes"

Trying to not do more damage by turning my knee, I whiz around grabbing everything I need.  Since Steven offered to pick me up I opted not to wear the thick (highly un-sexy) Thinsulate coat and go for something lighter and more stylish.  Walking down the stairs...he better be at my door.  I open the door and there is Steven in a black wool pea coat and knit cap leaning against the wood railing and resting one leg on the top step.  He slowly raises his head.

E: "You should have knocked"
S: "With Michael rockin' I didn't think you'd hear me"
E: "I'm pretty sure I would have"
S: "Mmmmm...You look beautiful" He steps on to the main level and puts his hands on my hips pulling me in for a hug.  He sneaks a kiss, and then another before hugging me in an embrace that was warm, strong, long and felt safe.  "I'm hungry, let's get outta here"
E: "Sounds good.  I didn't have lunch"
S: "Girl!"

He grabs my hand and helps me walk down the steps, which even covered in slush can be a death trap for a woman in high heels, and opens the car door for me.  On the front seat papers with a headline stating "Anit-Terrorism".

E: "Is this work stuff?  Top secret.  Maybe I should read it to learn more about you."
S: "LOL go ahead!"  I simply put it in the back seat without looking at anything further. 

His car is incredibly cleaner than it was the first night. Gone is the litter of food wrappers, drinks, random scraps of paper and other odds and ends.  I was impressed.  Immediately in the car, the smart ass comments start flying.  We're just volleying back and forth to one another.  "Oh my gosh!" I wipe his lips, "You have my lip gloss all over your lips."  "Mmmm....I like that come here and give me some more!"  "It is a great color for you."

We drive down the main street in my neighborhood heading south to what I can only assume is his hood.  He reaches for my black suede gloved hand.  "If you're cold I'll keep your hand warm."  I remove the glove and return it to it's position in his and we remained that way until approaching valet at the restaurant within a few minutes.  One of the things I love about Chicago is that in a few minutes you can be in an entirely different neighborhood.  We get out of the car, he walks around to grab my hand and escort me to the door.  Via Carducci.  This is the second, smaller location of one of my favorite Italian restaurants in Chicago. Comfort food.  Yum! He opens the door and we're immediately seated near the bar in the middle of the room.

We take off our coats and I seen that Steven has improved his fashion for this date. He wore dark jeans and a cream cable knit Nautica sweater.  I didn't have a chance to check out the shoes, but I was impressed with the top half. We sit and the flirting continues.

E: "STOP IT! I need to decide what I'm getting."
S: "You're so going to fall in love with me."
E: "Hmmm...I don't know about that.  You have a lot of work ahead of you to make that happen."
S: "I'm up for that challenge..."

A bottle of wine, Grilled Calamari appetizer, Eggplant Parmesan and Rigatoni Italiano (shared on a bread plate in the middle of the table) and I am stuffed to the gills.  Over dinner we talked and I asked again about his job.  The same answers....

E: "So, no not that it matters, but are you going to be straight with me about what you do?"
S: smile "I'm a police officer of aviation."
E: "What does that mean? Do you work for Chicago Police Department?"
S: "Nope, I do anti-terrorism, bomb threats, plane crashes and simply keep the airport safe."
E: "So what do you do at work.  Like what did you do today?"
S: "Nothing."
E: "Nothing?"
S: "Yeah, nothing.  Just stood around and watched people."
E: "Well, people watching is always good entertainment."

And that was the end of that.  He asked me about my work and we just...talked...It's so easy.   I learn that he is actually Spanish and Italian and his family came to the U.S. from Puerto Rico. He digs in his pocket and pulls out a business card with his full name and contact information (which comes in handy for cyber stalking the next day).  His last name is like a song.  It's Italian and so beautiful as it rolls off the tongue. 

The waiter removed the plates and Steven reaches his hands across the table, open like a flower asking for mine.  I answered with a smile and placing my hands in his.  He looked down at them, massaging and rubbing them silent.  He gives a half glance up at me and our eyes meet.  He smiles and looks back down. (There's an equally decent chance that he was enjoying the view of cleavage since my elbows were resting on the table, pushing my shoulders up, elbows in and the little girls out!)

S: "I want to take you to Peru.  Mayan ruins.  It's so incredibly beautiful and you would enjoy it."
E: "I would love to."
S: "What's your favorite spot?"
E: "Dying to go to Paris and left a piece of my heart in Italy.  However, I love going to my parent's place in Wyoming.  There is so much I love to do there but I can't do by myself.  My parents aren't capable any more and I've longed to share it with someone."
S: grabs my hands tighter "Sounds like something I'd love to do."

At this point, I don't have any idea what this guy is doing to me, but I'm absolutely starting to swoon.  Our eyes linger longer, my smiles become flirty and shy as I turn my head away.  Finally he pays the bill and valet appears to offer the car. Steven helps me on with my coat takes my hand, opens the door and then the car door and we're off again.  This time in the direction of my house.

E: "Where are we going?"
S: "You're house."
E: "Uhm....what?"
S: "I'm being spontaneous.  Thought we could watch a movie."
E: "Uhm, my house is not ready for public consumption.  You might have warned me."
S: "Well, we can just go to mine, then."
E: "No, this is fine but let's stop and get some wine."
S: "Okay."

We pull up and I continue harassing him for inviting himself over.  Before I reach for the door handle, still holding my hand, pulls me to him for a kiss.  Then, we're up the stairs and into my modest apartment.  Don't get me wrong, it's cute and has loads of newer qualities but sometimes I'm ashamed that I don't live in a brand new beautiful condo with granite counter tops and stainless steel appliances.  I race in and quickly close the door to my bedroom which looks like a tornado lifted the entire contents of my closet and dropped it on my bed.  Plus, the wall is peeling and it's an ongoing issue with the shitty landlord to get it fixed.  I'm picking my battles right now but it is not something I want someone to see.

I take off my coat and hang it on the hook behind the door.  Steven leaves his on the dining table chair and looks around.  I grab his hand to give a quick tour and he kisses me, there, in the dark of my small office.  I go to turn on the television and he wonders back into the kitchen to look at the pictures on my refrigerator - there are a load.  With little wall space the refrigerator has become a wall of photos including the BFF, the family, friends from my hometown and lots of babies.  He asks and I tell him who everyone is.

Finally he comes into the living room and we snuggle under the down comforter, legs out before us on the ottoman.  We settle for the season finale of "Desperate Housewives of Beverly Hills" and I tell him who's crazy, who's not, and a synopsis of the drama.  He just laughs and grabs my hand under the comforter.

E: "You know....I think we skipped out on our tab the first night."
S: "Okay, I was wondering about that and felt really bad because I figured you ended up getting it."
E: "Nope, I still thought you had, somehow."
S: LOL "Oh my gosh!  I can't believe that happened.  I am so sorry!"
E: "It's fine but I feel bad."
S: "Yeah, me too."  His hand softly brushes my cheek.  "Hmmmm....I like you."  I smile and he kisses me. "When can I see you again? Tomorrow? Saturday? Sunday? All three?"
E: LOL "I have plans Friday and Saturday but Sunday will work."
S: "I'll cook for you."
E: "Whoa!  I'm sure your toast or Campbell's Chicken Noodle Soup is divine, but let me know so I can eat beforehand."
S: LOL "I'm not a completely lost cause.  I can make spaghetti."
E: "Out of a jar doesn't count."
S: "I add some ingredients. You'll like it."
E: "I better because I like it when a guy cooks for me."
S: "Ugh, I guess I need to enroll in a cooking class."
E: "Looks like it."
S: "I like you."  I smile and he left a few minutes later.

Today's cyber stalking produced some answers.  I now know that he works for the FAA, has barely used LinkedIn and MySpace accounts (seriously, dude? No one over 12 uses MySpace anymore!), a Twitter and a Facebook page. I also located his address and google mapped his house with satellite view!  Hey, you should know that he stalked me as well.  He texted this morning to confirm our date - dinner at his - for Sunday night and said "Nice website".  Mutual cyber stalking is allowed!

There is another guy I met online who I'd like to go out with before putting my eggs all in this basket.  He's really good looking and also well-traveled, but I already know that the odds of him being as sweet to me as Steven are not high.  Not even close.


Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Dating News Flash I

After several conversations with friends, I am reaffirmed about the oddity of Steven's desire to play 20 questions with me rather than just be straight about what he does.  And, it's not really about what he does for a living, it's about honesty.  As the BFF said "I don't care what your job is for a living.  You can bag groceries, but own it and be proud of it."  Aaaaaa-greed!

Nonetheless, I am giving him the benefit of the doubt (including assuming the fact that he paid our bill, although I just feel strongly it didn't happen) and have set a date for dinner on Thursday night.

In the meantime, I've talked to two other guys I met online.  John...the conversation was painful.  He was about as exciting as a wet rag.  I think I spoke a total of three minutes on a half hour call.  I finally told him my Mom was calling on the other line and had to go (I'm sure my Mom won't mind that I used her as an excuse!)

Rich...we've been emailing online for some time.  He is actually one of the first guys I met on the site.  Seemed a little cocky...yeah, he's one of those guys who put up a photo with no shirt on. Typically I would just scoff at him and move on to the next, but in the interest of trying not to judge people without knowing them, I read his profile and his justification made sense -
"You may laugh at me because I put up a picture without a shirt, but I'm doing this to prove that I am who I say I am."
Okay, fine, cuz I can tell you how many people I've met in person and thought "that picture on your profile is about 15 years old.  You said you were 35 not 55, weren't balding and 80 pounds overweight."  Again - be who you are.  Own who you are or change it.  Plus, he's attractive and the rest of his profile seemed honest and sincere.  After the conversation with John, which about put me to sleep, I called Rich and we had a great convo for over an hour.  If he appears cocky on his profile, I definitely didn't get that vibe speaking to him.  He just sounded like a good dude.  I eventually admitted it was my bed time (I don't like games, but you have to play a little.  In this case, I always try to get off the phone first), and hoped we could catch up again by phone or in person.  "In person would be great."  "Awesome, I'm available this week, so why don't you figure something out and let me know." (Again, I always make them plan the date - hey, they can do some work to impress me!)

Yesterday I returned the call from the local dating agency and told Annie* that the timing was perfect and I am available.  "Great. We'll determine if you're a match for this person and then get back to you.  In the meantime, you might want to come back in for a face-to-face since it's been a couple of years."  "Of course! let me know when."

I have to admit something: I often feel bad dating someone I know is interested in me and then dating other people.  It's like I'm cheating or doing something behind their backs, when I know that this simply isn't true until sex and mutual monogamy is confirmed.  It's weird, I KNOW, and I have no answer as to why I feel this way other than the fact that I have been cheated on quite a bit in past relationships.  It's the reason that I probably do two things:
1. Ensures that I won't cheat.  Ironically, I have NEVER cheated, but no one needs to feel the hurt I have. I think it's less about cheating and more about hurting someone.
2. More than likely is the main culprit in my meeting men, having a great time and then rushing to see what else is out there before settling down with that person.  I want to make sure that I won't be more attracted to someone else, which is complete bullshit because I am the one who once wrote a column on men looking over my shoulder for greener grass and yet here I am.

In reality, I probably do this because:
A. If it's not going to work out I'd rather cut if off at the pass than let it go further and hurt someone more.  I will not lie...I have hurt someone in my past.  I was careless and disrespectful to him.  Why? Because, if you believe it or not, I actually believed that men did not have feelings.  Yep.  Thanks, Dad.  A mutual friend called and said that the bf was really hurt and crying nonstop.  I never knew what to do about that so I let him go because I figured "why would he take me back?"  I still feel guilt over this, the first realization that men aren't so different.
B. Protection mechanism! Scared to take the leap.  My mind suddenly races to marriage and my fear of making the wrong choice, much like I fear my Mother might have done because she was expected to get married.  After her engagement to someone she was crazy about was broken, by the guy, she picked the first handsome, eccentric, non-affectionate but hard-working man who fell for her.  He was from a lower class and my grandparents never really approved of him.  But hey, if she hadn't gone for him then I wouldn't be here, and we all know you couldn't live without me!  HA!

As I told the BFF yesterday, I am really proud of my recent realizations (epiphanies) towards relationships and dating, but there is clearly more work to be done and I'm hoping that getting out and dating will help me conquer in "real time", so to speak.  It's good to be aware of where you are and know what hills you need to get over.  There's no point in not being aware and then dragging others through your black suitcase full of bullshit!


Sunday, January 23, 2011

The Date Report: Steven

I know I promised a full report on Saturday but I ended up taking a day for moi, including sweat pants, my down comforter, Dog Whisperer, some DVR and Cold Mountain.  It was awesome!

So, without further adieu....

At 3:45p I looked into my closet with frustration and some horror.  I can't wear jeans, because their all a wee bit too tight on me so it's tights or leggings.  In this weather....leggings.  I call my gf Megan* who says "no" to the leggings and jeans would be good.  Jeans are not good.  "I can't get into any of them".  "That's all in your head."  "Oh, yeah, it's all in my head that my fat ass can't get into any of my jeans.  They don't fit, so how is that in my head?".  She sighs and says okay.  After about 20 minutes of disgust looking at my closet, I finally manage to select three outfits.

1. A maroon knee length, v-neck sweater dress that I would normally wear with tights and boots.  I tried it on and made a face in the mirror.  Too many bumps and bubbles.  So, I put on the tights.  Still too many.  Then I looked at the drawer in my dresser in fear of the one thing that lay inside.  Slowly opening the drawer it had somehow found its way to the top and it stared me straight in the face.  A girdle.  Yep, no fancy Spanx (which I think is a nice word for girdle) but a full fledged girdle.  Ughhh....I pulled it out gingerly praying that I wouldn't look better with it on and just give the whole thing up.  I slipped my feet in and PULLED and...pulled.  Sucked in some air and pulled some more.  It was on.  I slipped the dress on over it, looked in the mirror and I did look better but I also felt like any false move and the damn thing would explode, my bumps and bubbles along with it.  I did NOT feel sexy or beautiful.  I took a picture and sent it to Megan who said "gorgeous".  Ugh.  I don't feel that way.  So, it had to go.

2. A grey dress, that totally reminds me of something I owned in 1988.  It's tight on the butt and legs and then baggy on top where a silver pattern of circles or bubbles rests on the chest - believe it or not, this pattern actually helps those of who are mammary gland challenged.  The sleeves reach elbow length and a large boat neck allows me to wear it low on the chest as a v-neck or it falls off the shoulder.  Black leggings and black boots complete it.  I look in the mirror at what's become my "go to outfit" and think this might be a bit too much for a first date and a little bit too nightclub-ish.  I strip it off.

3. A long sleeve sweater/dress top with a low collared v-neck.  The thin acrylic material helps it hang and brings enough warmth that I won't be sweating indoors or freezing outside in the frozen tundra.  I pair it with jeggings (YES, I said JEGGINGS!  Shutup!  Their totally comfy) and camel knee-high stiletto boots.  I look in the mirror and see the first pleasing reflection of myself in months.  This is the one.  It's a little bit more casual than the others and very date worthy.  I also send this to Megan for approval and get it. 

I was moving slowly and it took another hour getting ready between sips of wine.  I wasn't nervous but I definitely was stressed.  Flat ironed hair to perfection, got frustrated with my eye makeup and ended up completely washing my face and doing it again.  Better, but I was missing my makeup Midas touch.

I feed Meow Mix and look at the clock - 5:10p.  Okay, I'm running late but I can hurry.  I reach under the white bed skirt and pull out the Tupperware container/box that holds my supply of clutches and other non-everyday bags.  I pull out this great snake print clutch that I got at H&M.  This bag rocks and I actually have a couple of the same style.  It's actually a multi-use bag.  The shape is square with handles at the top so you can fill it all the way and carry by handles, or throw in the essentials and fold it in half as a clutch.  Clever design, really.

I lay all the essentials out on the table and pack them one by one, most of them having their own specific place.  The rest jumbled together at the bottom, which will present an archaeological dig later to find my "lip jazz" (aka Burt's Bees tinted lip moisturizer).  Look at the clock.  Shit.  5:17. Shit.  I run into my bedroom grabbing jewelry (there is no time for decisions), quickly decide on the blue and silver circle necklace set Sister2 gave me for Christmas, and I was impressed by this gift!  A first ever.  The color sets off the blue jeggings and my eyes.  I like that my outfit is not matchy-matchy.  I've never been that kind of gal.  Fashion is, to me, an expression of art, creativity and who I am.  One more glance in the mirror.  Back to the bathroom to grab a comb for hair touch ups.  Suddenly I realize I have not put on socks or boots. Shit.  5:23. I quickly take off the jeggings, rub the bottom of my feet with deodorant, pour some baby powder in and pull a striped pair of wool knee high socks (seriously, this does help!), jeggings, zip up the boots.  Ready.  5:25.  Shit.   I wrap my purple Pashmina scarf around my neck, slip into my long Thinsulate coat - zip, snap, tie - grab my 1920's-inspired hat from Target (I get so many compliments on my hat!), gloves, keys, bag and fly down my stairs.  Opening the door, the arctic blast hits my face and the street lights are reflecting off the icy sidewalks.  Potential death, or shattered hip, await me.  Awesome.  Pull out phone. 5:32. Shit, shit!

Unlike my neighbors, I was smart enough to put down de-icer on my sidewalk that morning.  But that was the only danger-free zone.  I made my way to the grassy area and shuffled along on my toes - baby steps to safety.  Finally I make it past the end houses to the crosswalk and scurry across to the school sidewalk - always clear.  I get to my usual corner to grab a cab and...nothing.  Shit. I should have known.  In weather like this, there is never a cab.  Several drive by with their lights off filled with passengers enjoying the warm heat inside as I stand here in boots that have about as much warmth as a freezer.  Awesome.  I pull out my phone for the time.  Shit. 5:40.  And as I put it away the bus pulls up.  Done.

Jumping on to the bus I whip out my CTA (Chicago Transit Authority) card.  "Invalid". What the?  Okay, I pull out $3 and put it in to pay my $2.25 fare - I can't believe I don't have change - "No need for the other dollar," says bus driver.  "Thank you!" I text Steven to report on my delay.  "No cabs."  "Do you want me to come pick you up?"  "Sweet of you to offer but I'm now on CTA."  "Okay - seats by fireplace are taken. May have to work another angle to secure." "My money is on your resourcefulness." "Mission accomplished!"  "Attaboy!" 5:42.

Just 10 minutes later I get dropped at an intersection and prepare to transfer buses.  CTA has this ingenious mobile website where you can get times for buses - CTA Bustracker.  It's brills!  I quickly check the time for the next bus.  What the?  15 minutes?  Seriously?  Knowing that they can often come faster, I begin to walk down the street to the next stop.  I was certainly not going to stand their and freeze my ass off for 15 minutes.  At least walking would get the heart pumping and some warmth brewing. Knowing my CTA card was not working, I tried the trick again and claimed that I didn't have change.  "That's okay," said the busdriver.  "Thanks!"

Finally on bus.  Send text: "Just made transfer will be another 10. I'm sorry."  "No worries."  Ten minutes later, I leap off the bus, refasten the buttons on my coat and haul ass down the block to the venue.  I walk in, look around and see a handful of people sitting at the bar and a few small groups at tall boy tables sharing Happy Hour.  The place is virtually empty.  You'd never know that it is one of the hottest places come summer, jammed with people dressed to the nines and a long line waiting to go up the stairs and on to the beautiful patio on the rooftop. Finally I tell the host that I'm meeting someone by the fire. The host looks as confused as I and finally says, it looks like there is someone sitting in the nook by the fire.  I look and there are a pair legs perched on the table, but that's all I see of him.  I peak my head in and sure enough.  There he is sitting on the banquet leading up to a glass wall.  Inside a thin line of fire burns.  It's not as cozy warm as one might think but it's better than nothing.

"There you are!  Hi!" A big smile came across his face. "Hi, yourself."  We chuckle and he reaches in for a huge bear hug.  Ah!  I love big, tight hugs.  Brother-in-law1 calls it Hug Therapy, and he's right.  I love 'em.  I start to pull away and he grabs tighter.  Awesome!  "You're cold.  I'll warm you up."  Mmmm.

We finally break apart and I take off my coat but leave my hat and scarf on until I can warm up and the witty banter begins.  Wow!  Hilarious!  I love exchanging jabs and witty conversation.  It's one of my favorite things and it much fun!

Steven is about 5"10' and a biggish guy with a Buddha (hey, a little Buddha is good as long as Buddha doesn't get any bigger), large legs and muscular!  His head is shaved and he's donning some killer glasses.  For a moment I was a little confused on his pressing me to dress "sexy" when he had on Brown Timberland lace up ankle boots accompanied by dark blue jeans so worn that the only sign they were once dark is the fine line around the seams, and a bluish-grey sweater.  The guys I typically date would be in nice dark jeans, a long sleeved button down and black ankle boots.  He was dressed super casual and I was happy I chose the right outfit.  Just chic enough but no overdressed.

The waiter came up and asked if I'd like something to drink and I ordered my usual Grey Goose Gimlet up, "Oh, she's going to be trouble!"  I laugh and gingerly slap his knee to say stop.  It felt less like a first date and more like two old friends getting together after a long time. Dare I say, it was very comfortable.  Steven has a shy confidence about him.  Quick with wit but not super gregarious in nature.  It wasn't long before we were just laughing and cracking each other up.  Within 15 minutes he leans close to me and says "I really want to kiss you."  Okay, that was fast! "But I want to wait.  I just don't know how long I can wait."

Within an hour I reached the point in conversation where I wanted to dig in deeper so I asked him what he does.  "I'm a police officer of aviation."  "What does that mean? Do you work at the airport, downtown, what?" "Yes, I work at the airport and help with anti-terrorism, bomb threats, etc."  "So you're protecting us?"  "Yeah, that's a nice way of saying it."  "You carry a weapon and all?"  "Yeah, sort of." WTF, man?  Give me some straight answers!  I never did get one which kind of pissed me off.  I'm thinking he's TSA but can't for the life of me figure out what he's telling me and why he's not just telling me.  Is he ashamed?  Is he undercover?  Whatever. I try again.  "Okay, so are you a Marshall?" "I don't travel."  "Okay, so do you work regular police shifts?"  "Yeah, a few days on a few off and rotation.  I work tomorrow at 5:30."  "In the evening?" "No, morning." "Oh my gosh. We should call it a night soon so you can get to bed."  "Eh, I don't require much sleep." (I hate to pull this book into it but "He's Just Not That Into You" says that if a guys is into you he will go without sleep, find a way to make it through the day and always make time to call you...If I was blind to it before than now I'm thinking he's interested).

After awhile the touchy-feely flirtation increased, the "you're so beautiful" became a regular quote (which a gal never grows tired of hearing), the witty banter continued along with some serious stuff, he began to move in closer and for the first time I allowed myself to linger longer during glances, to study him and allow myself to open to him and see what's there.  I told him about where I'm from in Kansas.  He grabs my hand and intertwines his fingers with mine, "So you're a country girl."  "I grew up in the city of 350,000 people. That's not country!"  "That's country to this city boy."  Hmph.  "Well, country girls are a lot more friendly and confident than city girls."  "I'm beginning to see that."

He asked me why I was single and suggested that I'm a heart breaker.  Hmmmm...maybe a little bit.  I hadn't thought of it  that way.  "I just have some things to deal with.  Relationships with men in my life that I needed to reconcile in order to move forward."  "Hmmm...interesting."  I did open up to him about my dad but didn't go closer to mentioning my abuser/stalker.  He shared that he was super shy growing up and took  a trip to South America where the women are really aggressive and it gave him confidence, and probably made him a bit of a player for awhile.  "But now that I'm almost 40 I'm ready to settle down and look for something real."  "That makes sense.  When is your birthday?" He leans into my ear and whispers "Tomorrow."  "Well, happy early birthday." He leans in again, "Thanks for sharing it with me."

It was almost 10:00 and I insist that we start our departure.  He leans in and whispers "Not without a kiss."  I looked into his eyes and smiled, "Okay."  Wow. Nice, gentle and lots of chemistry.  "Okay, I think we should get our bill and go."  "I want to stay here and kiss more."  "I don't really do full on PDA."  "Okay, then we can finish this in the car. I'll take you home."  "Well, that would be very nice of you." Then we sat and talked a bit longer waiting for the waitress to come by.  She didn't.  I finally said "I have to go to the bathroom.  Let's go."  When I came back he was still sitting there.  I grabbed my coat and he immediately got up to hold it for me to slip on.  What a gent!  Then he grabbed his and said "I'm going to valet for the car."  I stood inside and got this sinking feeling something wasn't right.  He came in to get me, but didn't open the car door.  Instead I stood in front of the car waiting for traffic to clear for one second so I could run to the door and open it before I was bombarded with more oncoming traffic.  I slid into the car, the heater on, and we drove off.

Once at my door, he pulled the car over and, for the first time, I didn't grab the door handle and jump out.  I sat, waited and then he reached towards me, hand on my face and kissed me.  We were now in full blown make out.  The initial kiss was so nice and this one started out the same and then all of a sudden I had a wild animal in my mouth.  This boy did not know how to kiss after all!  My heart sank and I thought "Well, maybe I can teach him as I have others."  But who wants to teach?  I'm willing to help his wardrobe, buy a new, nice, full length coat and trash that entirely too ugly Russian fur (real fur) hat with the ear flaps that just perches on top of his head.  Shutter.  But the kissing.  :( Bummer.  Major bummer.  I finally rescued my mouth from the assault and said "Thanks for tonight. I had fun." "Me too.  I'll see you on Monday."  "Monday?"  "Yeah, that's the next time I can see you."  "Oh, I have a board meeting that night."  "Tuesday?"  "I have a networking group I host that night.  Why don't you call me when you're free and we'll schedule?"  "You are interested in going out again, aren't you?"  "Yes" I say with a sigh and smile.  "Awesome!"

I got out of the car only to see an old neighbor and stopped to give her a hug.  He waited and I told her that my date was waiting for me to go inside and I did.  As I was washing my face, I replayed the night in my head and was very proud of myself.  Proud that I allowed myself to be open and be part of something.  Proud that by doing so I am one step closer to finding my partner.  Proud to let someone be sweet and affectionate to me. Proud that I didn't just grab the door handle, lean over to kiss him on the cheek, leap out, say a quick thanks and I'll talk to you soon and within seconds be in the safety of my home.  Over the years, my wall caused me to shut down; to not get close, not open up, not take the chance.  Often times I would immediately say "this won't go anywhere" or "I'll probably break up with him" so I never bothered to let anyone get close enough to see me. I even did that when I came home.  Immediately I thought "I'm going to hurt him.  Step away now."  When the reality is that is the old Epiphany.  That's the old me and my old modus operandi.  Now that I've done it the last few times I known why I haven't been able to be in a relationship.  I don't let anyone get close.  No matter what happens, it felt really, really good.

Finally snuggled into my flannel sheets and down comforter, doing Sudoku to rest my mind, it donned on me what was off about the end of the night.  I have this sinking feeling that we skipped out on our bill.  Four cocktails and tip.  Probably $50!  Unbelievable.  My phone buzzes.  Text from Steven: "I had a wonderful time with you this evening."  "As I.... :)" And with that I went to bed.  The next morning I texted a Happy Birthday wish and he said "Thanks, country bumpkin."

And with that...we shall see.  There are a couple of other guys I'm talking to and a dating service here in Chicago called to see if I'm still available.  No sex until monogamy and until then I'm dating around, and that includes another date with Steven.


Friday, January 21, 2011

Preparations Have Been Made....Countdown Begun

I've been preparing for the date with Steven since last night.  Why so long?  Well, I did my home mani last night (with a bottle of wine) and it turned out to be a disaster.  Too thick, then too much top coat, which made it bubbly, then quick dry which dried it smooth but you could see the bubbles.  Total disaster.  The worst part is that I stayed up later than normal to let it dry and couldn't sleep in this morning because my intern was coming in (that's the great thing about interns.  You HAVE to get out of bed and showered). So, took it all off. Painted bottom coat and then painted one coat each hour today while working to make sure it's dry.  Perfection!

A sugarfree Red Bull and a very hot shower, yummy on this the coldest day of the year in Chicago, and a face mask, of which I already think some bastard pimple is trying to make it's nasty ass way to the surface.  Zapped that shit!

Yep, a balmy 5 degrees currently shows on my thermometer, but the wind chill is definitely under 0. Bbbbrrrr.  It's freaking crazy!!  I wonder why any sane person would bother to go anywhere on days like this.  If I didn't work from home, I would have called in sick or negotiated working from home, for sure!  At this very moment, I write with my hot pink gloves and wool scarf on.  All I can do is think about the warmth of summer.  Not really nervous about tonight (the first date I've had in MONTHS), I'm more worried about the frigid temperatures and the fact I'd rather wear flannels and warm boots then feign an attempt of sexy, which will not be as warm.  It's all about the layers. That's how you survive Chicago winters - well, that and a warm down or Thinsulate coat.  Even's fucking COLD!

Oh, I've already been reassured that Steven is able to "..provide the heat, baby! Don't you worry about a thing." Gotta admit, I like flirtation.  It builds a nice level of excitement, fun and desire.

Years ago a gf introduced me to a wine expert from Seattle who was in town (I know you're reading this and you KNOW who I'm talking about).  He and I were on fire the second we met.  When he returned home the text messages flew.  It was a rapid fire flirtation with some dirty talk was ON!

It wasn't long before he called and asked me to meet him in Minneapolis to help him with an event.  His hotel was overbooked and they couldn't find him another room.  We ended up at a Travellodge so disgusting even the roaches wouldn't set up shop.  It smelled like a combination of ash trays, booze, trash and ass.  I don't want to think about what I might have possibly caught there.  Just breathing in the air was toxic and all guests should have been required to wear masks and goggles along with radiation suits.

A nice dinner out, couple glasses of wine and we were back in the hotel (cough, if you can call it that) ripping each others clothes off.  Needless to say, it was pretty amazing.  Even at the nasty ass Travellodge.  I don't even think squatters and the homeless would inhabit that building if it was empty.  It was NAST-OLA!  All of that heat, simply from text messages.  And then, it was over.  Sure he'd come to town and we'd hook up, but that was it.  No more hot text messages.  The desire had been extinguished.  Was I sad?  Nope.  It was exactly what it had always meant to be.

Tonight, I hope to experience the positivity of owning my shit and dealing with it.  That means how I react to, perceive and respond to men. 

So, I'm finishing up work for the day soon, because I require a load of work before heading out.  If only men appreciated the time and effort that women put in to being presentable for them.  Not to mention the sheer pain of looking fabulous.  All I can think about is stiletto boots walking on the icy sidewalks outside that await me, saying "There's no way around me.  Take the chance.  You won't fall and bruise your ass so bad you won't be able to sit for days.  Trruuussssst me."   Even with wool knee high socks,  I can already feel my feet freezing and the pain of walking with feet that are apparently about to fall off because they're frost bitten and turning black.  I can see it now.  It's going to take me 15 minutes just to walk 25 yards.  Yea.  I can't wait.

All I know is there is a warm fireplace awaiting me...that's if we get there early enough...and a martini to thaw my limbs.  And, hoping the man is just as he claims!

Full report Saturday..


Thursday, January 20, 2011

Back in the Saddle, Again

Hold your horses, kiddos.  Are you sitting down?  You might want to...

Epiphany has a DATE.  A REAL one.  Yep, turns out one of the "texters" just needed a shove and he asked me out for Friday night.  We're going to a pretty trendy place (read a lot of younger people hang there) but whatev.  It's going to be fun, and I now know that my hormones are still, in fact, working which is a big relief because I thought I was all dried up. 

Here's my problem - I don't often do first dates on the weekends because there's no "end time".  I'm sure I can maneuver my way home, but when you're meeting at 6p there's a good chance, unless it's a terrible time, he doesn't look at all like his pictures or he talks with his mouth stuffed full of food which sprays across the table every time he opens his mouth or takes a breath, that I'll be with him for 6 hours.  I guess, I'm really worried about the stigma - weekend dates mean sex!  A gf and I have a new rule (thanks Patty Stinger) "No sex before monogamy".  However, put a couple of cocktails in this gal bundled with a good time and I'll be out all night.  I didn't say sex, but it's hard for me to walk away from a good time.

Here's the other thing...I can't get into any of my jeans!  I'm legging central (and sweats) these days and...well, hoping I can find something that doesn't show the tummy and still makes me look hot.  Unfortunately, with small boobs that means drapey and drapey which means not showing some cleav...if I could afford to go shopping I'd hit "The Max".  Right now it appears my best assets are my calves which will be covered by leggings and tall stiletto boots.  So I guess that means my best assets will be my wrists and ears.  Gosh, when did my confidence die?  Pathetic!  My friends, including you, should all SLAP me! 

Enough, E!  Stop over thinking it!  I know plenty of people who had sex on the first date, or shortly after, and are now happily married.  I also know tons of men who don't care whether you have a perfect body or not.  I'm a ton of fun, witty, smart and I don't have one large mole for a face!

And this is ALL very ironic because several years ago I decided to put an end to the first date jitters.  I told myself, and should remember this, that HE should be nervous whether I will like HIM, not the other way around.  Note to self....

So, who is he?  He's Steven, 39, 5'10, dark hair, shaved head (if you're going bald, just do it. It's hot!), he's got a fairly decent sense of humor, from what I can tell (anyone who puts Rocket Scientist down as their career or sends me an official "date itinerary"has to be fun!), cute, from what I can tell, and loves, LOVES to flirt and so do I!  He may be just what the doctor ordered.  Time for a face mask and home mani tonight.

I wonder if I do some squats tonight if it will make a difference...

Here's hoping he doesn't ask broke E to pick up any part of the tab.

Wish me luck! It's been a very long time since I've had a date....


The Ring

I've been meaning to write this post for a long time, but it seemed like there was always something more pressing to explore.

What you should know is that I am like Jack Handy.  The bulletin board above my desk in my office looks like a book of inspirational quotes threw up on it.  In my bedroom I have my intentions "board" - more like several pieces of scrapbook paper with things I want in life glued to it.  I even have a post-it in by bathroom cabinet with "Excellence" written on it.  The idea is that if you look at all of this and put what you want into the world that it will come back to you.  Listen, I've tried it all and I've yet to afford the SUV, $200 dress I adore, take a vacation to the South of France...I was also never one of those girls who had a shoe box filled with ideas for their wedding or kids names. I do.  

I do find inspiration in all of this, I do, but I felt like I needed something more tangible to be a constant reminder of what I am working for everyday for myself - to define my successes.  What I found was a ring - faux of course! - that I found at TJ Max on sale.  It is the ring I would love someone to give me and it represents everything I want as successes and financial security in my life.  The ring is vintage inspired (anyone who knows me understands my live for vintage anything), is silver with a large round cubic zirconia surrounded by smaller stones, and still smaller ones set on the ring itself leading around my finger.  And yes, I tend to wear it mostly on my left ring finger, but it goes everywhere with me at which point it shifts to the other hand.

Now, you may ask "you bought yourself a promise ring?"  Yep!  I sure did.  Much like I registered for gifts and sent emails to family and friends for my 32 birthday and Christmas - because I needed stuff and wasn't getting married any time soon (no prospects) - yes, I bought myself a promise ring, or something that represents a promise to myself.  This promise is to work hard everyday, to not stop doing what I'm doing until I find my happiness, to not give up, to find my partner and to know that I deserve all of these blessings.

I find myself looking at it often and it really does drive me to keep moving forward.  Hey, I could easily sit on my ass three days a week watching TV and only working the hours I get paid for the other days, but it's not like that.  No matter where I may be spiritually, financially and emotionally, I still get up everyday and do what I have to in order to market myself and my business, fulfill other commitments I've created or made.  I am still dedicated, and this ring represents my faith and dedication to getting my relatively stress-free happy ending.

I take tremendous care of this ring and often feel naked without it.  Even now, as I type it's on, under my gloves (told you earlier, it's still freakin' cold here!).  A few times, I've misplaced it and totally freaked out unmaking my bed, tossing pillows and digging in couch cushions and dumping every purse I own.  Maybe this connection is bordering on co-dependent, but it brings me comfort during a time when I am, really, alone.  

So promise ring to myself?  Yes.  Representative of  my dedication to work and life to achieve what it is I want? Yes. A dream?  Possibly.  Am I hopeful, faithful?  You betcha! It was the best $25 I could have spent on myself and it really has come to represent everything I need to do to reach my Epiphany and rise out of the ashes of my past. 

What do you have or do to represent or remind you of what you want in life?

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Online Dating - love/hate relationship

In the spirit of kick starting my love life, and hopefully pathetic sex life, I joined an online dating site.  Now, I've done this many times.  Met some great people and also a ton of players - yea! Not.  However, since I work from my home and barely leave it in the winter - why would you if you don't have to? Although we've had a relatively warm winter in Chicago it's still freakin' cold out.  Plus, the only love affair that is new is with my new, super soft, brushed cotton flannel sheets I got for Christmas (Thanks, Santa).

Before I upgrade from teetering on pathetic into adopting that calico (and two others) I saw recently, I thought I'd better get back in the game.  Seriously, cobwebs have grown.  I've gained weight, instead of losing, which was part of the plan here, and my new wardrobe consists of wearing leggings and big sweaters on a daily basis.  If I'm not careful all sense of sexuality will be sucked out of my body and given to someone more deserving.  There's really nothing too sexy about me these days and I just have to get out of that groove, because it ain't headin' anywhere good.

For the most part I'm enjoying the experience.  When I first signed up it was as if all the men on the site smelled fresh meat and I was immediately bombarded.  Let me tell you, it does wonders for the self-esteem!  Still, as exciting and fun as that is, the initial rush dies when you realize most of them don't meet your top five criteria.  So, I pleasantly turn them away and go hunting.

In the last month, I've met some great guys, BUT it's like they really have no intention of ever getting in touch with you.  They want your number to text, but not to go out.  I'm sorry.  I don't do commitment phobes.  They say they want a relationship and to find that special someone but there is no follow through.  Zip. Zilch. Nada.  It's crazy.  I have met and emailed with several guys, suggested we get together or talk on phone and then all of a sudden they disappear.  Come on!  Pull up your panties, deal with your issues and maybe you will find what you say you're looking for.  If I can be truthful about my reality, so can anyone.

The good thing is that these guys are taking themselves out of the running on their own.  I don't need to date emotionally unavailable or geographically undesirable men.  This is one thing I know, is that I always pick these guys because I know it won't work out and then I can go back to the safety of my solitary life.

Don't get me wrong.  I do enjoy my solitary life.  It can be fun but as friend's lives change and I see what I want getting further and further away from me, I realize it's time.  I'm not 25 anymore.  I...cough...can't even say where I'm at.  I don't believe it and that may be part of the problem.  The other is my emotional baggage, but, hey, I'm dealing with it.

Let's see if I can actually tie one of these guys down for a date.  I'm desperate for a shower, heels, and a sexy dress.


What's Eating Epiphany?

So, the trend of waking up after just a few hours of sleep at night continues and it's making it incredibly difficult to get through the next day.  I've tried everything from getting up and working (my clients love this!) to doing Sudoku until my eyes close.  I literally have to exhaust my brain.  And, last night was no different.

I had a nice weekend with a gf who was in town.  It was great to not think about business, money or the fact that my ovaries are losing steam everyday, along with the vibrator.  My mind reels and it doesn't seem to matter how much meditation I do, I can't stay focused.  My mind keeps wondering back to these things and, ultimately, panic and fear kick in.  It's a seemingly never ending cycle of which I'm completely confused about.  Normally I have such faith that fear gets kicked to the corner and told never to come out to play again, EVER. For some reason, things are different.  Nevertheless, I fall asleep for an hour or two until the alarm buzzes.  Ouch...

It is possible that worry and concern is good for me at this point.  I am looking to make a change, to set my priorities straight and those things are all priorities in the short term.  I'm aware of my reality....

While watching "Hope Floats" yesterday, I realized why I love that movie.  I may not have a cheating rat bastard of a husband and be going through divorce or lost my mother, but I relate to Birdie in a number of other ways.  She was "Queen of Corn" the pride of "Smitheville", "audacious".....While I can't claim the first two I was Sweetheart Queen and lived my life without real thought or concern about what other people thought.  I did what I wanted to do because...I wanted to.  There was never a question as to whether my Student Body President campaign was was, but it worked.  I had no problem shaking my groove thing and having a blast while doing it on the pom-pon squad.  And I did it all with a smile on my face and a hello for every person I encountered in school.  I didn't care who was cool and who was not.  Everyone deserved to be noticed and treated with dignity.  I still believe this.

The movie brought out the question in me of "where the hell did I go?" - I used to have that spirit but somewhere it got quashed.  Like someone put the light out.  I have so many cool and fun ideas I want to do for my business and all I can think of is what others will think.  This is NOT who I am.  Part of it may be my career.  I am no longer in the spotlight dancing, singing or performing in a musical.  I'm now behind the scenes, making others look good.  I want to do these crazy things and boost business.  I feel like I have 6-8 months to make it work or I definitely, officially have to get out (and if the great job comes along....yes.  But who knows what will happen?)

So as part of my New Year's Rezzy I will be exploring what it is that is holding me back - which is obviously MYSELF!  There's a saying, "Only you can stop YOU".  Yupper.  That's me and now that I realize it, I mean, really realize it, I am trying to take steps everyday to a. not be overwhelmed by my reality and responsibilities and with what I need to do and b. kick myself in the ass the second I realize that I'm putting things off and not living in excellence (my personal excellence).

It's just so difficult when you know what you want, there are opportunities, but it seems they come with road blocks.  Albeit, they just may be self-imposed, but they're there and I hit those walls and just want to scream.  Today, I am trying to roll with the punches.  Business comes and goes, life isn't always what you think it will be and it's high time that I accept all of it.  I want to be carefree again.


Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Life is Funny - No Lemons, Then Lots of Lemonade

So, I've been a stranger.  Guilty.

It's interesting how things unfold in life.  You make one decision and then everything explodes in another direction.  Don't get me wrong.  My aim is still to move back to Kansas City to be closer to family, but as I look back on the last month, or so, I'm beginning to realize that it wasn't as much about making the decision to move, it was more about the decision to let go of my business.  To say "I'm not a failure.  I gave it 10 years and now it's time to move on; to better provide for myself."  To let it go and be okay with it.

Since that time, my outlook has been different.  Before I would say "I won't give up my business until I've tried everything."  While I haven't done everything, I am still moving forward with it because, let's face it, it's a job and I am making money.  The whole process of letting go has presented new opportunities. Opportunities that mean business and more money coming through my door.  Although my business is one of short-term agreements and contracts with small businesses, I still have to be flexible, but in the last month...."let the flood gates open!"

Seriously, I felt like there were no lemonades to squeeze, and is truly funny and always interesting.  You have to stay alert because it will always through you for a loop!

I'm not saying I'm making TONS of money, but I'm growing steadily, and surely at a rate I can handle.  And yes, some clients have morphed or we've finished what we can do for them, but that just leaves room for more things to happen.  I'm definitely not saying that everything is going to be A-Ok from here on out.  I'm not saying that I won't leave it all behind and take a job - if the right one comes along - but what I am saying is that I'm happy for the moment.  My responsibilities still weigh heavy on my mind and sometimes keep me from sleeping at night, but I have faith.  I just know that it will be okay and whatever is to be will be.

In the meantime, more and more ideas come to me to grow my business and to really separate myself out.  One, is the generous help of Brother-in-law1 who is generously redesigning my website, and it's going to be awesome!  I'm completely grateful for the renewed energy he's pumped through my veins.  I was stuck in a rut.  A deep rut, and I feel like I'm sort of coming out of it.  There's a new business model and if I have to build myself, for the time being, on the backs of interns for credit, then I will and they'll be grateful to have the experience.  I know what my number one goal is right now and there's only one way to accomplish it - with super hard work (even more than I've committed in the past...not possible?  It is!)

So now, I'm happy to announce we've started working with one client, preparing to downsize another and have several new opportunities on the horizon, just waiting to be tackled.

With that, I must run and get back to the daily grind which I am now lovingly referring to as the daily WIND!  It winds me up and I'm excited!  I have been in business for 10 years.  Most would have given up years ago.  Not me.  Too stubborn!  Now, I am preparing to do a celebration at a networking benefit I created (couldn't think of a better way to celebrate than to give back?) and this rockin' new website...For the event, we have a liqueur sponsor and a pastry magician who is providing treats...It's going to be fun!  Who wouldn't be able to get excited about that? 

Here's a tip - for those of you interested a friend has a new fab blog about her first pregnancy.  Follow her!!

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