Saturday, July 31, 2010

Seriously, Men??!

A few months ago, Slinky went on a disastrous date with a man who was full of himself and generally a jerk. Later, it came out that on top of these charming qualities he was also married, or used to be married, or may have been married -- the details were unclear. It also crossed my mind once or twice to wonder whether Le Canadien may have been in a relationship; there was no particular reason for me to think that, but it did occur to me. However, I pooh-poohed the notion because online dating -- especially in a small town like Boston -- is a small, small world. Sooner or later, you WILL see someone you know. They WILL tell your girlfriend, wife, or significant other. It's really not a question of if, but when.

Apparently, that's a risk some sleazy, foolhardy men are willing to take. This evening, the Cat Lady came over and regaled me and Slinky with a tale about a woman she met randomly who started talking about a new man she's dating who she met online. Gradually, as the Cat Lady listened to the details, the man began to sound familiar: it was the husband of an acquaintance of hers. Even worse, the man has OFFSPRING. There are many other sordid details -- the fake name he was using, the unprotected sex (way to bring an extra special gift home to your wife, jerk) -- but really, isn't that enough?

Wow. This opens up a whole new world of unsavory possibilities. How many men out there are doing this? Have I dated married men? How long are they able to get away with it? I think Slinky put it very nicely when we debriefed after the shocking revelation: "Isn't it amazing? They can't even be bothered to send a quick note to let you know that they're not interested, yet they go to such crazy lengths to sneak around, create double lives and cheat on their wives."

And on that depressing note, Persil and I are off on vacation. I won't be blogging for the next week or so; I'll be too busy doing this:

Friday, July 30, 2010

Sleeping Dogs (& Sleeping Birds)

Holy cow. I wanted to write a blog post last night but then I stepped out of my room for five minutes, stepped back in and couldn't find Persil. Thirteen hours later, I was STILL looking for him without having slept a wink, and finally found him hiding under a towel on the back of my door underneath about a million jackets, scarves and other miscellany. He's now having a looooooong time out in his cage to think about his behavior. (Update 3 hours later: His time out is over, I opened the door to his cage and he refuses to come out. Ingrate.)

Anyhow. After I'm done hyperventilating, I'll go back to reflecting on what I was thinking about before the shit hit the fan, which is my exes. Yesterday, I became Facebook friends with my very first boyfriend, the Modern Jewish Boy (so named because at one point he was reading a book entitled "The Modern Jewish Man"). I was in love with him from age 12 to 16, and we dated twice, once when I was 13 and again when I was 16. Both times he eventually lost interest, but rather than tell me that, he just faded away, letting more and more time pass before he returned my phone calls and being distant when we did talk. (Actually, I suspect that depression may have played some role in this behavior. But maybe that's just me making excuses.)

I still have a pretty big soft spot for him, and I was excited to see him on Facebook. I immediately went to his page and started to write a note saying hi, how's life, I'd love to get a beer with you sometime, I often think of you, etc. Before I hit "post" I glanced down at his page and read the updates he had written in his one day on Facebook. I had the same reaction I had the last time I saw him, which is: Oh, yeah. He's totally immature and exactly the same as he was when we were 13, and 16, and he's probably always going to be that way. Better to let sleeping dogs lie. I erased my friendly note.

This reminder caused me to reflect that, in the end, ALL my boyfriends have kinda been jerks. Not that they went out of their way to mistreat me (though I would say that La Moustache did), but they didn't treat me with the consideration I deserve because they were too wrapped up in themselves and their own needs. This is a worrisome thought. Do I go for jerks? Is that why I emailed the cute guy on OKC who sounded totally self-centered in his profile? I know I used to like the bad boys when I was in grade school, but I thought I was past that stage; have I moved on to the adult version of the same disease?

There is, however, one partial exception to my jerky ex-boyfriend rule: l'Artista, my painting teacher who I met when I was 18 and he was 28, who after my immediate family was probably the most formative figure in my life. I can honestly say that I would not be the person I am now if I had not met him. Yes, he should have let me go sooner than he did -- actually, he didn't exactly "let" me go, it was more like I had to claw my way out of that relationship, hanging up on him when he called, putting a block on my email, etc. It often felt like I was cutting the umbilical cord. So, in a way, he was a jerk too; but he did really, really care about me, and a huge part of him really wanted to be with me. He just couldn't do it.

I got the following email from him a couple of days ago:

Dearest Heathen,
It's always a pleasure to hear from you.
Prezzemolo [Parsley in Italian] is very cute. Be good with Heathen! You must be very happy now to have him at home.
And your vacation? What will the two of you do?
I am traveling in Germany, working a bit, it's not really vacation vacation.
I hope to hear from you soon.

Longtime readers of my blog may remember that, in an epic moment of bad timing, l'Artista asked me if we could be more involved in each others' lives at the very moment when I was breaking up with La Moustache. This prompted a very snarky response from me. I thought that my breakup with l'Artista would be the hardest breakup of my life, but that did not turn out to be the case. Hearing from l'Artista at that particular moment was a painful reminder that when I met Moustache I believed him to be the antithesis of l'Artista in so many ways, and I turned out to be very, very wrong.

Now I'm wondering again if I should perhaps let l'Artista back into my life a little bit, and maybe have a phone conversation with him once in a while. I've often considered calling him, even while I was with Moustache, and my friend Miami Nice always squelched the idea (feel free to squelch it again, Miami). I think I could handle it at this point without opening up a big old emotional can of worms, but I could be wrong. He feels like such an important part of my past, and I'd like to reconnect with that, but is it always better to let sleeping dogs lie?

Tuesday, July 27, 2010


I picked up Persil this morning and I've been holed up in my room with him ever since, talking gently to him and trying to make him feel as comfortable as possible. He started out very sleepy, then gradually woke up and emerged from his cage; now he's beginning to seem more comfortable, though still nervous of me. It's been a few hours, and at this point I'm beginning to get a bit cabin feverish, so I think I'll head out and take a walk soon. But, in the meantime, I took the opportunity to look through my email history on Match and OkCupid and run the numbers. I came up with some interesting statistics. Here's what my OkCupid history looks like, going back to January (sorry if the table is weird, turns out it's hard to make tables in Blogger):

Men I contacted Responses
Men who contacted me
Men I responded to
23 10 1 78 14 9

So, out of the 23 men I contacted, I only dated one! HOWEVER, that one was the Brazilian, who was arguably the most promising of all my dates; and, I'm looking forward to a second Heathen-initiated date in 2 3/4 weeks with Dreamy (though if I've learned anything from online dating, it's not to count my chickens before they're hatched, so I'll count that as a date if and when it happens). Still, I did much better on OKC just waiting for the men to contact me, filtering through them to find the good ones, and then replying. In fact, out of the 10 people who responded to my emails on OKC, half of them dropped the ball when I emailed them a second time!

It's a bit more difficult to see patterns on Match because emails get deleted automatically after 30 days, so I can only paint a picture of what's happened for me in the past month. Still, it's strikingly different:

Men I contacted
Men who contacted me
Men I responded to
9 4 2 25 3 1
I got a similar reply rate as on OkCupid, BUT the men who replied on Match followed through, and a much higher percentage resulted in a date. On the other hand, I did less well on Match with the men who contacted me.

What I take from this is that there are in fact more interesting people on OKC, but the men on Match are less flakey and POSSIBLY more open to female initiative (though I don't feel convinced of that last part; I suspect their lack of response is more due to the flakiness of OkCupidians). And, obviously, that I'm a huge nerd.

Finally, one last factoid: 100% of my OkCupid dates paid for our first date. 0% of my Match dates paid (we split the bill).

Anyone else have thoughts about this?

PS Here's my bird. He really likes hats, just like me.

Monday, July 26, 2010


I've still been maintaining a lively correspondence with Dreamy from OkCupid. Unfortunately, he is going out of town for a while, so I have to wait THREE WEEKS before meeting the man who Slinky has already taken to referring to as my "future husband" (yesterday she started a conversation about what kind of bridesmaid dress she should wear). I know I said I hadn't been this excited for a date since Le Canadien, but I'm changing that: I haven't been this excited for a date EVER.

Can I make it? Luckily, I have a few distractions, including a young, impressionable, cute-but-I-see-no-future-in-it 27-year old from Match whose name is the same as the English version of La Moustache's (that right there makes him non-boyfriend material). But he seems to adore me and be at my beck and call, which is nice. Then there's my little lovebird, Persil, who I'm picking up tomorrow! I also have a week-long vacation coming up next week in Maine. Lastly, I just ran into good ol' Babe in the Woods while out doing errands, who told me to stop by his new office sometime and we'll hit up the Sam Adams Brewery together.

Unfortunately, a little Facebook stalking after this random encounter revealed that BITW has a girlfriend, too! What is WITH the flirtatious men who tell me all about their lives, show me photos of their vacations, etc. and fail to mention the significant other?? Is this just because men are sleazebags? Is it possible that the topic just never came up, or is that a ridiculously naive idea?

Death by duck tour

3:29 PM yesterday found me sitting on a duck tour amphibious vehicle surrounded by families blowing duckbill-shaped, headache-inducing whistles that make vuvuzelas sound like violins, hoping against hope that my date would show up in the 60 seconds remaining before departure time, and cursing myself for agreeing to buy the tickets ($36 each).

Thankfully, he did show up with about 20 seconds to spare, just as I was debating whether to jump ship now or wait until we were submerged in the Charles River, not long after I had my photo taken with a life buoy around my neck. He got locked out of his apartment while napping in the yard, lost on his way, yada yada yada. It was a good excuse, but I don't think he quite grasped the extent of the torture he put me through.

Turns out the torture wasn't quite over yet. It was kinda fun when we went into the river, but otherwise, it consisted of 80 minutes that felt more like 800 of being asked to say "quack quack" every time the driver blew a whistle and listening to hundreds of bad jokes mixed with inane facts about Boston. Then, my date and I went to a tapas bar, where I sized him up (it's hard to talk over the sound of the tour guide's incessant chatter and various quacking noises) and quickly realized that he was way too nerdy for me, and where we BOTH managed to get pooped on by birds (though as a bird owner I'm pretty blase about bird poop -- possibly a little too blase, since I once showed up for a date with a bit of dried bird poop on my sleeve).

The verdict: Duck tours = probably my worst date idea ever, but now that I've done it, I never have to do it again. A much better idea, courtesy of my lovely bartender (who really needs a blog name -- what's a good nickname for a man who is utterly adorable, makes the most delicious bloody marys and is covered in tattoos?), is a whale watch! Hmm, next weekend perhaps? But this time I really need to try to get my date to pay.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

In defense of OKCupid

So, a lot of people complain about OKCupid. Heck, I complain about OKCupid. But, having experienced the magic of paid dating sites, I gotta say, I think OKC is pretty great. I've been on Match for a month and a half so far, and have gone on... ONE DATE! Well, there were two guys who I was supposed to go out with and then stopped responding to, and I have two more dates coming up soon. But still. My one date was totally lackluster (thin lips -- yuck). I dunno, it just seems like all the men there are very square, and also weirdly tall. OKC is more like real life -- there are a lot of people who aren't necessarily looking for a girlfriend, but they are interesting people and it doesn't feel like a meat market. Plus, as Slinky always complains, there are a lot of short guys on there, which works well for me.

I've had some bad experiences, of course, but overall I've met some pretty great guys. The Doctor was fun for a while, and it felt good to date someone immediately post-breakup who really wanted me to be his girlfriend (even if his level of attractiveness made that utterly impossible). Paul McCartney was cute and it was fun to kiss him and to be reminded that I CAN find cute guys online and don't have to compromise. It was annoying how the Brazilian acted like he really liked me and then just disappeared into a chocolate-filled black hole, but still, I can't say I'm sorry I met him and I do think he's a nice guy. When he's famous for his futuristic chocolate-making machine I can say that I once dated him, and that he wears unattractive black briefs.

And, I'm really glad that I met Le Canadien. I haven't heard from him in a few days, and guess what -- I don't care! I think I have mastered the art of having a fling, and I have him to thank for that. I hope that I do hear from him eventually, but mostly just because I really want to have a French-speaking friend in Boston. And it would be fun to make out with him again.

Finally, I love OKCupid because their blog is awesome. They write about all the foibles and intricacies of their site, most recently the lies people tell about themselves (exaggerating their height, income, etc.). They've also written extensively about racism on their site, which made me determined to date some non-white people -- so far, it hasn't happened (the Chinese architect stopped responding and then dropped off the site), but I haven't given up. I feel good about using a site that has such an honest, transparent approach, and if I don't meet my husband there, at least I hope to meet some friends.

Plus, I have an OKC date coming up (I think) with someone I am VERY excited about! I haven't been this excited for a date since Le Canadien. Keep your fingers crossed for me.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Smelling the roses

Life is pretty good recently. It's summer vacation. My new little lovebird, who I've tentatively taken to referring to as Persil (silent L), will be coming home with me in 10 days or so. I've got money in the bank. I have an interview tomorrow for a job whose description is awfully close to the dream job I was offered last summer, then un-offered a couple of days before school began. And they've already told me I'm their top candidate -- touch wood. Even if I don't get that, I'm pretty sure I can finagle my way into a maternity leave position in the same French immersion program in a local school. I'm having a summer fling with a handsome, funny Canadian, and I'm dating other guys too.

However, I've realized lately that I have a tendency to be my own worst enemy. My ex-boyfriend, La Moustache, screwed me over royally last summer. Ever since then, I feel like every time I meet someone I like, I clench my stomach and steel myself for disappointment. I'm like a mollusk, ready to close up tight at the first sign of trouble. But no one else has the power to hurt me the way La Moustache did; these are just guys I'm dating. I'm not in love with any of them, and they are most certainly NOT irreplaceable, as Beyonce would say.

I had a mollusk moment when Le Canadien cut our date short yesterday. It made me worry that he's using me for the physical aspects of our relationship. In hindsight, though, there was really no reason for me to freak out as I did. He needs to find an apartment pronto; he is stressed about work, and he told me as soon as he arrived at my house yesterday that he'd need to take care of these things later on. Nonetheless, we spent a lovely day together. He gives me every indication that he likes me. He always responds quickly to my emails. He gives me lots of compliments. In his car yesterday on the way to the lake he told me he'd pick out music for us to listen to that he thought I'd like, and he was right -- I did like it. He listens to me talk about how cute Persil is, and asks to see photos of him. And, if he does disappoint, it will not break my heart. He is not my boyfriend, and he is never going to be my husband.

It doesn't come naturally to me, especially after my horrible experience with Moustache last year, but I'm determined to lighten up. Please remind me the next time I forget.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Déjà déçu

It is not news to me that men can be disappointing. I've been reminded of that time and time again, in big and small ways, ranging from l'Artista's inability to decide whether he wanted to be with me to my live-in ex-boyfriend La Moustache's midlife crisis at the worst possible juncture in my life and his decision to travel the world solo to the failure of men I've gone out with to follow up after a date or send a quick note saying "Hi, I enjoyed meeting you, but I don't think you're what I'm looking for."

Nonetheless, I must be the most doggedly optimistic person on the planet, because I still have hopes for men. Most recently, I had hopes for Le Canadien. I've been looking forward all week to our weekend date, which started out as a plan to watch a movie in the park and ended up involving a trip to a lake for a swim. When he got here this afternoon, he told me that he had an appointment to go see an apartment later on, and he had to stop by his lab to do a bit of work. Fine, I don't mind having a break in the middle of the date, and I assumed he'd come back shortly thereafter.

So we drove to the lake, doggie paddled around and joked about how we're both terrible swimmers, drank surreptitious beers, and kissed on identical beach towels. It was nice. I feel a connection with him, maybe because he reminds me of the Quebecois boys I went to college with. I feel comfortable talking to him, and I think he feels the same way. I told him the story of how I fell in love at age 18 with my 28-year-old Italian painting teacher, l'Artista, and the sad ending to that story. I even told him a bit about La Moustache. He talked to me of a girl he liked and professed his love to while he lived in Italy (she liked him back, but the timing was off and nothing ever came of it), his father's death, and the house he inherited from his father in Quebec that he remodeled and rents out. He told me he is now leaning toward staying in Boston rather than moving to California, and I felt glad about it, without having any expectations. I like the idea of having the chance to get to know him better.

Eventually we moseyed back to the place where I'm housesitting and settled in for some more kissing. When 5:30 rolled around, I reminded him that he needed to get ready for his 6:00 appointment, and he tucked in his shirt and asked if he looked like someone I'd accept as a roommate. I assured him that he looked fine. He got up to go, and as he kissed me goodbye, I said, "You'll be back for the movie at 8, right?"

"Oh, maybe... I'm not sure I can make it. If not tonight, we can go another time," was his response. Oops. Not the right answer. It reminded me of a game I used to play with La Moustache where I'd ask him a question, then when he answered, I'd do my best machine voice and say, "Réponse incorrecte," until he gave me an answer I liked. This was definitely an incorrect response. I explained that this is not a movie that is in the theaters, it is a one-time showing in the park. He said he'll try to make it back, but somehow I doubt I'll be seeing him again tonight.

Am I overreacting to feel so disappointed? Other than that, from what I know of him so far he seems great -- thoughtful, smart, funny. He has thirteen days before he has to be out of his place, and he's (justifiably) stressed about finding a new place to live. However, a date is a date, and I'm not interested in spending time with someone who's unreliable and lets me down. Now, how to let him know that this is unacceptable without sounding high maintenance?

Saturday, July 17, 2010

The new bean

I was walking down the street with my sister, Ms. Swamp, last week, discussing plans for August. We were talking about the possibility of going to visit our grandmother in Idaho, and I said the first thing that popped into my mind: "But who will take care of Haricot?"

"Umm, Haricot is dead. Or maybe he's with the birds in Maine," my sister responded.

"Oops, I don't mean Haricot... I mean the new Haricot. Haricot Junior," I answered.

I need a name for my new little beanie so I don't keep accidentally calling him Haricot. He has his own identity, his own little personality. So far he seems most characterized by his babyish uncertainty; when I put my finger in front of him and say "Step up!" he looks at it, confused about what he should do. He flaps his wings and tries to fly, not totally successfully. Haricot never had a moment of uncertainty like that, partly because he was older and understood his body better.

I'm thinking that I'll continue the trend of vegetable/food names, possibly in Italian this time. Here are the submissions so far:

Cipolla or Cipollotto -- onion in Italian, my ex-boyfriend l'Artista's idea
Pomme -- apple in French, Slinky's idea
Persil -- parsley in French; cute, but might be too hard to say (that was always an issue with Haricot)
Pruneau -- the French word for prune, Le Canadien's idea
Fagiolo -- the Italian word for Haricot; too much?
Piccola -- l'Artista's old nickname for me, meaning 'little' in Italian; too sentimental?

Anyone have a preference among these or their own idea? Here's a photo to inspire you:

Awww. Isn't he sweet? He's kinda looking like a Parsley/Persil to me right now, despite the difficult pronunciation. Two weeks till adoption day...

Friday, July 16, 2010

A fine line

It's hard to keep dating other people when you have someone already to kiss who is sexy and kind and tells you often that you are cute. Who says he adores your date ideas for the weekend, which started out as a plan to watch a movie in the park and have gradually expanded to encompass the whole day, including a trip to the beach (yes, it looks like I finally may get that swim I've long been promised...) and mojitos in the backyard. Who always answers your emails right away, and who falls asleep with his head in your lap on the couch and his arms wrapped around your waist and twitches like a puppy.

It's especially hard when his main competition is an uninspiring Chinese architect, a man whose emails keep getting shorter and who never answers the questions you ask, someone who is very busy and says that he *MIGHT* be available to see you on Tuesday (which you never respond to), and a man who is very excited about his job which you think sounds unspeakably boring.

But, of course, the cute person you are kissing is thinking about moving to California, where he says you should come for a visit, and is not looking for a girlfriend. Although he often talks about his long-term life plan involving a house in the countryside in Quebec, kids (definitely more than one) and a life partner. In any case, you still barely know the guy, so it's way too early to even know if you'd like him to be your boyfriend.

A classic mistake is to force oneself to go out with people you're not excited about just to keep up the action. However, another classic mistake is to perceive everyone as being uninspiring just because they pale in comparison to the main love interest. It's a tough line to navigate. So far, my solution is to keep corresponding with everyone (except Mr. Maybe Tuesday) but not go out of my way to suggest a date, and hope that a little inspiration will appear. And not to make too many plans with Le Canadien, even though it's very tempting when he says that his whole entire weekend is free to expand the date even further to include both days.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

At the Hospice

Last Thursday, I spent most of the day with two people: my handsome French-Canadian beau, Le Canadien, and my 92-year-old Hospice patient who is dying of "adult failure to thrive" (basically, old age). I ended up chatting with both of them a bit in French, but ironically, it was not Le Canadien who propositioned me with the age-old phrase, "Voulez-vous coucher avec moi?"

The room erupted in laughter when she said it, mostly from the nurses and aides since other patients were too deaf or out-of-it to catch the joke. She grinned mischievously and said, "I thought you'd enjoy that."

She is, quite simply, adorable. She is smiley and chatty and appreciative of my visits and appreciative of everything in general. It makes me very happy to go see her -- so much so that I have to resist the urge to go every day. When I left today she repeated, as always, that my visit made her day, and asked when I'd be back; I told her I can come back next week, to which she replied, "Oh no! That's too long. Can't you come back this week?" I promised to return on Friday.

She seems utterly content with her life, both past and present. She told me several times today that, while she often feels tired, she still "feels like myself." At age 92, what more can one ask for?

It can't be easy to live surrounded by people who are bent double in their wheelchairs or gaze blindly at beige walls all day while Muzak plays in the background, interrupted occasionally by a prayer broadcast over the intercom. Or to share a tiny room with a few decorative wall hangings, the sole remains of a houseful of possessions; or to be so limited physically that one can't have much of a conversation because of hearing loss, or read much because of sight loss. She handles it with remarkable grace. I hope that if I am ever in her position I can do the same.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

How can you tell...

...whether your bartender really likes you, or is just flirting to get good tips?

I spent three hours today in my favorite neighborhood bar watching the final World Cup game with my tattooed bartender. We smiled at each other a lot and joked flirtatiously about our rivalry over the game (he was for the Netherlands, I was for Spain -- yay Spain!!). He called me "sweetie" repeatedly and explained the nuances of the game, even when other customers with empty beer glasses started to look annoyed. I even looked at photographs of his vacation, for Chrissakes. Two rolls! Who gets film developed in this day and age??

At the end of the game I got -- a bill. For both drinks I ordered.

This left me wondering if I should give up or research a new sport to watch, since soccer is now officially on the shelf until 2014. That is, until I Facebook stalked him this evening and discovered that he is "in a relationship".

I guess it was all for the tips. New problem: do I have to break up with my favorite bar because the bartender led me on?

Saturday, July 10, 2010

The Manly Man

Two nights ago, while I was with Le Canadien, I felt worried. I worried that I would start to like him too much and get heartbroken because he doesn't want a girlfriend and might move to California. I worried about whether or not I should have sex with him. But now that I've had a day to catch up on my sleep and reflect on it, all I can think is, awesome.

I've dated attractive men before -- all of them have been attractive on some level. But Le Canadien is different: he has shoulders that are twice the breadth of mine and make me feel Scarlet O'Hara-ish, big muscles, a ruggedly handsome face and plenty of chest hair (but not in a gross way). He plays soccer on the weekend. When it got hot and I asked if he wanted me to crank the AC he said no, he likes being sweaty. He's a manly man. Turns out I like 'em manly, too.

He's also very charming and very smart and someone I could easily imagine incorporating into my life, and I am probably going to have to remind myself a lot of times not to like him too much or get used to having him around. But I think I can do it. I have plenty of other dates lined up, so that should help.

In the meantime, I'm looking forward to the next time he comes over to "walk the dog" with me, which he says he'd like to do soon. (I'm housesitting with a pup.)

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Was it worth it?

I got a job offer yesterday that I would never have gotten had I not spent (wasted?) three years of my life with La Moustache, my Parisian ex-boyfriend who ran off with a Land Cruiser and is now somewhere between Djibouti and Yemen with his new "girlfriend". It's job is as a building substitute/maternity leave replacement in a Boston-area elementary French immersion program.

During my interview, the head of the program seemed genuinely puzzled about my language ability. "You never took any college-level French courses, yet your French is better than French majors who lived in France!" she said, almost as though she were complaining. "How is that possible?"

I didn't mention Moustache. Instead, I focused on the French classes I took in high school, the time I spent in France with my relatives there, my four years living in Montreal, the private French lessons my mom had me take as a kid... all true, but at the end of all that, I could barely put together a sentence in French. I'm pretty sure my high school French teacher would be shocked to find out that I got this job. The true secret to learning a language is to get a boyfriend (or girlfriend) who speaks it. Then have their parents who don't speak any English come for extended visits. And then there was that time when I went on vacation and finished all my books and ended up reading Moustache's copy of "I Am Charlotte Simmons" by Tom Wolfe in French... I'm sure that helped, too.

I've often considered the tradeoffs in life. What would have happened if, when my friend Miami Nice emailed me almost four years ago to ask if I wanted to go to a party and meet cute boys, I told her I was busy? Would I have gone to a different party and met another great boyfriend who wouldn't have left me for a Land Cruiser, not worked at the nightmare school I worked at last year, and still be living in New York? Of course, it's like Sliding Doors -- the alternative could be even worse. Maybe my hypothetical amazing boyfriend would have given me a horrible disease. Maybe we would have gotten in a car crash and I'd be horribly disfigured and have to spend the rest of my life in a wheelchair. Maybe I would have ended up working in an even worse school... oh wait, except the school I was at is the worst school in the ENTIRE WORLD.

In the end, I guess all you can do is appreciate what you got out of it, however little that may be. I'm glad I speak French. I'm glad I had two and a half years with my sweet little lovebird. I like the car Moustache and I bought together that he gave me his half of when he left. I like the tortilla press we bought together in Mexico that I use to make delicious homemade tortillas. It's not much, but it's not nothing, either.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Finding a modality that works for me

During my drive up to Maine on Friday for the holiday weekend, I found myself pondering the events of the last couple of weeks and months, and wondering if perhaps I need to change my approach. Here is a sampling of my thoughts:
  • I spent four days crying almost nonstop after I lost my bird, to the point where my contacts became so salt-encrusted that I couldn't see. Even as I was bawling over my little green featherball, I could feel that I was really upset over so much more.
  • I got my knickers all twisted over a chubby guy with copious backhair who I made out with a few times in March. Why did I care so much?
  • Dating has brought me frustration and bitterness, but no husbands.
  • I spent Friday morning drinking bloody marys, watching the Netherlands/Brazil soccer game and flirting with the cute bartender with a tattoo of JFK on his wrist, who commiserated with me on my loss of Haricot by telling me how sad he was when his pet python escaped.
  • I dismissed the cute, nice French Canadian who is the only good communicator of all the men I've dated since my breakup because he told me he's not looking for a wife at this time.
A piece of advice that my neighbor, the Cat Lady, gave me several months ago popped into my mind. "Maybe," she said (she prefaces all her advice this way because, as a single lesbian in her fifties, she doesn't feel totally qualified to give me advice), "you should just relax and have fun. You're young and attractive. Just see guys casually, and don't look at it as auditioning to find your next boyfriend."

When my sister, Ms. Swamp, began online dating a couple of years ago, her goal was to find a husband, and she did. Well, they're not quite married yet, but to all intents and purposes she did. As I sifted through my feelings, I wondered if perhaps what I need right now is not a husband, but a Mr. White Pants (or several Mr. White Pants). Pants was the guy I dated for four months after I broke up with my ex-ex-boyfriend, l'Artista. He took me to the opera and drove me around Manhattan in his convertible and bought me nice dinners and generally entertained me and distracted me, and when I was ready to be emotionally connected to someone again, I moved on.

So I'm going to try the Cat Lady's approach. I'm just going to relax and enjoy the summer and give myself time to get over my traumas of the past year. I sent Le Canadien a message and asked if he wants to get a beer, and within three hours we had a date set up, because that's the kind of communicator he is. And I'll probably swing by and visit my bartender this afternoon to watch the game and maybe hear more about his python.

Friday, July 2, 2010

When to give up

I'm going up to Maine again this weekend, and am trying to decide if I should bring Haricot's cage back to Boston with me or leave it there. This seemingly simple decision has taken on symbolic significance, since if he is still alive and wandering the forests of Maine, his cage would be a familiar sight that he might gravitate toward. Recently neighbors of my parents thought they might have heard him, and his cage was moved to their yard on the off chance that he was hanging around their house (turned out to be a false alarm). On the other hand, I don't know if I'll be going back up to Maine before the end of July, when I'm scheduled to adopt a new baby lovebird.

My new baby, who I went to visit last week

I belong to a lovebird forum, where people have been very understanding and helpful with dealing with Haricot's loss. On the forum, they counsel people not to give up on finding lost birds; parrots are so friendly that they are often taken in by new families, and are sometimes returned to their owners years later. No matter what, they have counseled me, you shouldn't give up hope. Not only that, but you need to keep actively looking, posting signs and checking local listings. One woman had three parrots stolen from her home last summer, and eventually was able to recover two of them. She is still looking for the third.

I am not sure that this is a modality that works for me. While I respect other people's willingness to keep hoping and searching for months or even years, for me this would make it difficult to mourn and move on. It seems reminiscent of the cocoon of denial I have been learning about in my Hospice training: acceptance allows one to make the emotional adjustments necessary to wrap up one's life or, for the family, to keep living life.

When I get up to Maine this afternoon, I plan to comb the area again to see if I can find any trace of Haricot. I will keep posting ads on Craigslist, and check to make sure my missing bird posters are still up. But, come Monday, I think I'll be bringing Haricot's cage back to Boston, and start thinking of it as my new baby's cage. Who knows, maybe if I do find Haricot they could one day share the cage and be friends. But in the meantime I am looking forward to bringing my new baby home.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Three hours and five minutes in the life of a single girl

On Tuesday afternoon at 4:56, I sent my friend Slinky a message to inform her that I had just discovered a new guy I was excited about on Match. He's from Maine, is well-traveled, liberal, wants to own a used bookstore, and good-looking; all the basic ingredients for a good boyfriend. I sent him a friendly note to say hi.

"When is the wedding going to be?" she asked.

"Very soon! I think I'm in love," I joked back.

At 5:42 PM, I had to disregard Slinky's instructions not to talk to her because she was busy at work. "Mayday! Mayday! I got a reply, and he wants to have drinks TONIGHT!"

With Slinky's help, I decided to accept, even though I was less than impressed with his message (he told me he wanted to get drinks because he was very bored). Half an hour later, though, I had not heard back. "I think I might need a divorce," I mournfully told Slinky.

I spent the next hour or so obsessively checking my email and talking to various friends about how weird and rude men are. By 8:00 I had given up all hope of ever hearing from my husband again, and was considering giving up on online dating forever.

At 8:01, a message finally popped into my inbox. Not from my ex-husband, but from a handsome lawyer I had emailed three days ago and already given up on hearing back from. "I think I found a new husband!" I told Slinky excitedly.

24 hours later, in keeping with my new philosophy of not putting up with rudeness, I emailed my first husband to tell him how rude he is, and that I am disappointed that someone from Maine would behave that way. Then I asked the handsome lawyer if he wants to get drinks. By now, I've completely forgotten about Husband #1, and am looking forward to a date with Husband #2 next week.

Ahh, the ups and downs of life as a single girl.