Monday, July 28, 2014

What Do I Want?

Now that I have established a “type” I am learning more and more about what I want (and don’t). We learn this at different stages in our lives and I think I’ve always felt that you really need only examine yourself once. As any divorcee knows, this is not the truth and yet I am still going on the reflections I had as a 20-something. I am now officially 40 and since then have been through a lot of breakups, a lot of moves, a lot of maturing in both my career and my personal life, forgiveness and letting go, and the life-altering depth of growth one experiences when losing their beloved mother too early in life. 

All of these changes (and more) have occurred since I really took a hard look at what I want in life romantically, and yet I have constantly re-evaluated where I want to call home or what role my career plays in my life. Although I know that there will be changes in my outlook as long as I continue to breathe, I think the stage I’m currently in is maybe the most important and defining stage to set the rest of my life by. 

What I want in my home is to have a safe and peaceful environment, one where my dog has room to run and meet other friendly dogs, a reasonable commute, character and charm, and a community of friendly neighbors. Tall order, huh? And yet that is exactly what I have and more. What I want in my career is a place where I am respected, have a chance to build my skills in varying areas, earn a comfortable living, have room for advancement, have some level of autonomy, not have to take my work home with me, and have a chance to be creative. Another tall order? Yet I have all of this and more. 

So what do I want in my personal life? I am a person who would rather have a small set of fantastic friends rather than a mass entourage of superficial ones. The ego of having x amount of facebook friends holds no weight with me and I limit my time on social media to intermittent at best. I have also learned the quiet from not having someone to relay EVERY event of my life with someone. My sister may disagree seeing our daily talks as evidence to the contrary but only my mom and I know this to be very true, as she VERY patiently listened to every detail of my life set out before her. Hindsight is 20/20 and I only wish that I would have spent a lifetime listening more and talking less. So although I don’t want a Samuel Pepys account of my life, it would be nice to have a small group of people to share that life with; to balance somewhere between motoring through life together and brinking on over-analysis. I want neither of those extremes but rather a healthy sharing of our lives. I want this healthy balance with my family, friends, and a partner. 

With my family I have weaned from some of the more co-dependent relationships that run so common in my relatives, despite their attempts to hold fast. My relationships with some of the historically (shall we say strained?) relationship have improved simply by letting go and working on forgiveness. And my sister, whom I’m closest to, has been a daily commitment at building our relationship. We both work at it. I used to have a huge entourage of friends of varying degrees in closeness. Instead of lumping them all into an ego-mass of facebook likes, I distinguish and embrace them for what we are to each other. I have close friends who are like family to me, though they are few. I have friends who are more likely to be there just to meet up for a drink and watch a game. I have other friends who share one aspect in commonality and we will build our strength and knowledge in that area by a sharing of ideas. All of these friends have great value, but I no longer hold each to be the end-all in every aspect of a friend. For instance, someone I meet up with to just watch soccer matches I’m not going to necessarily be able to relay the pain of loss or wanting to understand a deeper level of hesychasm. We may relay on those levels or we may not, but our lack of delving past a somewhat superficial connection is fine as it is and accepted as such. 

From a romantic partner it gets a bit more complicated. I’ve dated to date and am really past that. I don’t need to try out different types of men just for the sake of knowing myself. Been there too. No I’m at a point where I would like a partner in life and perfectly happy to remain single rather than marry the wrong person. This reflection came about from a series of little things that just kept niggling at me. One friend saw the blog post and asked me have I ever dated my type. No, I hadn’t. I have dated many men –successful, interesting, educated, attractive- but none that really reflected my type. Mmphm. Also the awareness of how little I could commit to my various duty locations with my job. This constant sense of always being ready for the next move created an environment where I never would allow myself to see the men in my life as anything more than temporary. That has changed with my home purchase. Mmphm. Finally, a line from a tv show that has become my mantra outlines my desire exactly: I am looking for the perfect connection with an imperfect man. Anyone that has this knows what I mean and it’s not looking for Mr. Perfect but rather that connection that makes both your imperfections and his a part of a strong relationship. 

So after some reflection I’ve decided that these are the qualities best for me: someone who likes to learn and open for a bit of adventure. Someone who challenges me to grow as a person; I’m not saying challenge for the sake of challenge or someone who wants to change me or nitpick, but I also don’t want someone who allows my occasional bad behavior and responds only by “yes dear.” I would like someone masculine and sure in himself. This is not the same as an egotistical guy whose statements and actions are based in insecurity but rather someone who is comfortable in his own skin. I want someone who believes in God. How wonderful it would be to find someone in my own faith, but yet I see more the pursuit of a relationship with God and an understanding of that importance in my life (without trying to convert me to Protestantism) far outweigh the actual dogmatic differences. However believing that the bar on Sunday is your church and a sport your religion will not suffice for me. And finally, someone who is committed to working at the relationship. Relationships are work, even under the best of connections and it only works if you’re both committed to making it work. 

So I guess I’m stating the ruminations in my mind mostly to get them out there but also to see how right they feel. What I find odd is that I haven’t done this in 10-15 years. I guess that must show how it wasn’t really a priority in my life until now. But I’m happy to say that just writing this takes off any perceived pressure (mostly self-induced) and actually makes me happy in the place I am now and happy for whatever the future may bring.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

The Height of Narcissism

This is a big year for me. Wait, this is about narcissism right? So it should be ME in all capitals. This is the year I turn 40 and it has a lot of meaning attached to it. First of all, I never thought of being about 40. Ever. I don't know what that means for me or my life. Also, what does that mean for certain aspects of my life: dating, marriage, children, career, moving abroad?

I hate those sayings: 40 is the new 20, you're only as old as you feel, age is just a number. Cliché's are, well, so cliché. And unhelpful. So I decided to do a few really cool things to celebrate this birthday.

I will be dye-free, or not
My hairstylist assured me he will cut the last bit of dye out of my hair prior to my birthday in July. Then he saw that it blended in and it won't be all out. But that's okay because I am close. This was a big step to go 100% natural and 100% authentic. I'm not fooling anyone to see a younger version or to try to win anyone over and THEN tell them my age. And the whole lying about your age bit? I'm sorry, but that's absolute crap and I have no patience for that. If someone is going to like you they should like YOU, not some misrepresentation of you. Rant over. Stepped off soapbox.

I am taking a trip
Where should I go? Since I just moved to DC my sister came up. My 30th I was forced to go to a work training and I didn't know anyone. My friend wasn't feeling well and couldn't meet up so I ended up spending it with a bunch of strangers. It sucked and I vowed never to spend another major birthday that way. She surprised me by also bringing my dad and we all had a great time, going to Civil War battlefields and soaking up history. Fantastic. I'm also going to cross off a bucket list item and drive around the Northeast in the Autumn. Fall is my favorite time of year and I'm going to enjoy it in New England with my dog.

I commissioned a portrait
Insert narcissism! Okay, so this has a history. In my family I am often saying that the only purebreds are the horses and the dogs. In addition we have only one commissioned portrait in the family: Amusar, aka Rascal. Rascal was my grandpa's grey Arabian stallion. Yes a horse, and I vowed that Rascal would not be the only grey in the family to have his painting done.

And reveal: This is my favorite artist and he always does these fantastic portraits with gold-leaf hair. So I commissioned a portrait with silver-leafed hair. Not only that but this painting stands nearly four feet tall. Is it me? Well, sort of. It was inspired by his impression of me and there is a mourning dove (my totem) in the painting. So take that, Amusar! You're not the only grey in the family worthy of having their portrait done!!

It is possibly downright silly for me to have had this painting made but I love it. I loved celebrating my 40th. I realize that doors are closing on me in some areas of my life but I choose to celebrate the many accomplishments I've made in my life. I may be flawed as hell but I really do work to be a better person and build a better life. And who knows, maybe doors will open for me now that never would have before?

Saturday, July 12, 2014

I Have a Type!!!

When you are young you have nothing but a type in mind and I was no different. I liked what was comfortable and reminded me of where I grew up. Since I grew up in Indian Country (read Native American) that was my type- men with long hair, bronzed skin, shy, and quiet. And never having left the Rez (read reservation).

As I studied abroad my world expanded and I saw people from all over in London. My world expanded and so did my choice in men. I came back and still fell for the Native men but also fell for guys from different backgrounds. As I went to Grad School and Americans were a minority, I discovered a veritable world of Countries and cultures I had scarcely known existed. Getting to know people from all over through shared struggles in the computer lab at 4am (that was most nights), I really bonded with people from all over.

I also developed new interests and now the interests of my 2-dimensional life from before were just... lacking. I also found my theological path through Orthodoxy and that has been the center of my life ever since. That also has changed life for me in all aspects. These major life changes have altered the men I'm attracted to.

I was talking to a friend about men and what we found attractive. She's attracted to what I would describe as "cleanly scrubbed behind the ears," a man who is classically tall, dark, and handsome, perfectly trimmed and very conservative in his dress and appearance. I am attracted to what she would describe as "a destitute vagrant," replete with shaggy hair, beard, and apparently unwashed. I don't know, what does it mean when someone looks at your type and says, "Oh, so you're attracted to a homeless man"?

Anyhoo, now that I know I have a type I am going to describe him: tall, masculine features (no pretty boys- who apparently always have a home to go to), bearded or scruffy, shaggy hair, a guy's guy. If he has dark circles under his eyes that's a boone to me- it's my weird thing so don't judge. Below is a line-up (pun not intended but appropriate) of men I would gape over:

Personally, I think they look less hobo-like and more the type that wrestled a bear and had a shot of vodka all before 9am. To-may-to, to-mah-to, right? There's nothing wrong with a little unwashed scruffiness. So... if any of you know a good guy that resembles my wrestled-with-a-bear-homeless type, send him my way. :)

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Emotionally Unavailable

The title says it all, doesn't it? Haven't we all fallen for the emotionally unavailable man? Countless times? Always? No?? Okay, it might just be me. I have often fallen for the emotionally unavailable man because I, too have been among his ranks. For more years than I care to count, I have been in a non-stop transitional stage: moving for grad school, my job constantly moving me around the Country, or my own wanderlust and resistance to settle down. But now I am in a more settled place, I mean I bought property (formerly a subject of blanche-faced horror to me).
So as I am in a different state I'm not really into men who are emotionally unavailable. To many this may seem like a smack-me-across-the-face-duh moment, but when I was not ready to commit I certainly didn't want some guy cramping my adventures in vagabonding. But just because I have changed does not mean that the men I attract and am attracted to don't still hold on to some of the dregs of aspects I wanted before. I need to keep reminding myself of that.
Enter DC Bachelor 2. He was the second date I went on in the last month. A great guy: ruggedly handsome, secure in his full masculinity, very likely to have wrestled a bear somewhere in his lifetime, and funny as hell. We went out for drinks and had a nice time. From there sprung a series of texts back and forth, mostly pictures of our travels for work and leisure and some funny anecdote.
It was great and very comfortable... until I realized that this guy may not be emotionally available. I mean we have both traveled for work and he's been on vacation some but we've only gone on the one date. I see some interest as he continues to contact me but hmm... I think he just isn't 100% there. It caught me off guard seeing this because usually what he's doing is what I would do- when I think of a guy or want that flirting, I text. This may be consistent but there's a wall. Well, my walls are down and I don't have the time or gana to attempt a Don Quixote effort to break through someone else's walls, and vice versa.
I'm going to present some examples of emotionally unavailable types here. This may help to discern if you are interested in one of these guys or maybe what your (yes you, missy) patterns are:
His main contact is through media and not in person
If you are focused on long-distance types, ahem- you are not totally available. Likewise if you're near someone and they constantly contact you by phone or email, etc. but make not future plans to see you then he's very likely not 100% in it. This is actually something I can be accused of. I used to love these sort of long-distance relationships. Sometimes it was the constant when my job was moving me every 3 months, sometimes it was out of laziness, sometimes habit. Mostly it was getting an emotional fix on my time. Either way I wasn't 100% in it and I was just going through the motions.
You never know too much about him
Oh this reminds me of Flyboy, a guy I have known for a few years. He wanted to hang out but it was sporadic. I thought he wasn't into me so I let it go but he would never stop contacting me, even when I ignored him. I never knew much about his life and I always felt a wall. I mean I had to ask if he was married or had several lovely yet illegitimate children. The truth was not as interesting as my version of a polygamist running state borders but I have never figured that guy out. He wasn't after sex, I'm not sure what he was after. Regardless, he was emotionally unavailable in the extreme.
He has an on-again, off-again girlfriend
Even if he's technically free he really isn't free emotionally. He still carries the dregs of that relationship and is constantly comparing the two of you. Even if you always come out ahead in the game (and OF COURSE you do), he's still seeing her a bit when he looks at you. Baby Boy has issues. We're talking about someone who needs some serious couch therapy (the psychiatric kind). Yes we could all use some therapeutic tweaks but if he seems to easily fall into the bad boy category... well, he has other things to focus on and your only role is NOT to try and "save" him; a role which neither he wants nor should you desire. Focus on healthy relationships instead.
You've been together forever and there never seems to be a progression
You meet and you fell into that comfortable sock phase- the one where you can be intimate on some levels buy you never really progress. Sometimes it's laziness or bad dating habits on both sides, but more often he's not really ready to commit to you. Sometimes we enter not knowing what we want and then realize, hunh, it's more. Um, that's called being a grown-ass adult and changing. Communicate like an adult.
So as I write this out it becomes clearer about DCB2. Good guy, but afraid I'm going to have to put him on the back burner. We have a date this week and I'll just see. But I have noticed the lack of woo has turned me off a bit and we'll see if he wins it back.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

The Modern Day Metrosexual

I am a huge soccer/football/futbol fan. Huge. Most of all I love a good set piece: flick to Midfielder, cross to Striker, GOAL! When the game's played well, it truly is the Beautiful Game. It doesn't hurt that the players are fit, gorgeous, and at their peak- they are (literally) the icing on the cake. I mean LOOK at them! Note, I won't cheer for Italy but I will cheer for this pic.

However there's a downside to this sport and that is the dives. Oh, they could give the Screen Actors' Guild a run for the their money when it comes to acting an injury or foul play. Most times the player goes down from a mere brushing of grass blades against his ankle but you'd think it was shrapnel for the amount of writhing and carrying on.

The World Cup has occupied most of my time these days and after fantasising about more than one player on the field I've come to notice a trend in these men- the Metrosexual. I say that term as though it's a new concept but it's not. These guys have been around for years: peacocks, dandies, guys who'd rather paint caves than hunt mammoth... but what does it mean to DATE one? I always thought that going out with a metrosexual would be fine. Sure, he would spend more time on his hair than me, he might secretly get his eyebrows waxed and his chest hair lasered. He would probably spend an inordinate amount of time trimming his facial hair just so, but he'd still be masculine and really, wasn't that beard trimming done for the sake of my delicate skin??

Unfortunately not, as I came to see when going on a date with DC Bachelor 3. DCB3 is a very handsome man- tall, dark, successful, gentlemanly. He compliments, opens doors, is very interesting and interested in what I have to say. He also asks me what skin products I use, wants to trade Clinique bonus gifts, and asked me upfront what I was wearing (I suspect to coordinate outfits). The plus side is that he couldn't wait to see my hair, had been obsessing over it (his words) and wanted to see it in all lights. I love love loved that.

I thought this was all going quite well and then he told me what he was dying to do after dinner- get a mani-pedi. I barked out a laugh, unable to control myself. I thought he was kidding, after all. But no, he was dead serious and as he had beach time coming up he wanted manicured toes and nails buffed to perfection. As this was beyond bizarre I was all in- you can't make this stuff up.

So we sat in the massage chairs getting pampered, watching World Cup, and me trying not to squeal throughout my pedicure from the sadistically ticklish ministrations of the pumice stone (Fail). Afterwards we were walking in our flip flops and I was thinking how good of a date this was: I had a nice dinner, good company, a rare mani-pedi... and then he somewhat leaned in. I could have gone for it but something stopped me. It felt like I was having a slumber party with my best girlfriend and then all of the sudden she tries to kiss me. "Wh---?," I'm thinking.

Perhaps the girl time we had just spent together was not the ideal first date move. After all I'm used to guys who trim their nails with a buck knife. Seeing his soft-as-kitten-fur hands sparkling with just a hint of clear polish did little to arouse my feminine vixen lurking beneath. The downside is that the idea of a metrosexual is just not attractive to me (fare thee well beautiful soccer men... or at least 85% of you-- not YOU, of course, Giorgios). The plus side is that my appearance will improve should we continue a friendship- I'm certain he has more products than I have.