Wednesday, December 31, 2008

In Love on New Year's Eve

A year ago I made a resolution. I would fall in love in 2008. I vowed that on New Years night, 2008, I would be with someone I loved. Every month, without fail, I went on at least one date and looked for the positive in those dates, finding something to learn, something to love. I also vowed to have at least one “adventure” a month..going out of my comfort zone...doing something daring or out of character. I rappelled down waterfalls in Costa Rica. I went skinny dipping in the Pacific with someone I barely knew. Every month I took risks where I never would have before.

As I look back over my photos for the year, I see a year full of new experiences, not just with dates, but with friends, kids, parents, and strangers. I see mountains and oceans and flowers and snowflakes. I see the love between my daughter and new son-in-law and the ultrasound photo of my beautiful new grandchild. I see my kids and all their accomplishments and my heart swells with pride. I see smiles of so many people ...that love me and that I love...more than my words can ever begin to express.

My heart is full. My “adventure” this month.... to be with someone I love on New Years Eve. At first, I was looking for a date or considering finding a stranger to kiss at midnight. Then I thought it would be more noble to volunteer at a homeless shelter or nursing home. It turns out volunteers are plentiful over the holidays and they didn't need me (I guess it would be more noble to volunteer at some time other than the holiday season). I got invited to a friend's party which I attended and feasted on fondue and champagne. It may have been rude for me to leave before midnight, but I really wanted to have my adventure and keep my resolution to spend New Years this year with someone I loved.

So here I am in my bed at 11:45pm looking over my photos. I'm going to send virtual kisses via text messaging to a bunch of my friends and family. I am planning my goals and adventures for 2009. Did I fall in love in 2008? 100 times over. Am I with someone I love right now? Absolutely!

Saturday, December 06, 2008

My Yearly Sexual Encounter With Mr. Roboto

There are a lot of drama queens out there that will tell you mammograms are “horrible”. They'll tell you war stories about how their friend, Susan, was in the “squished” position when the power went out and she had to stand there “for hours” in unbearable pain. Some even have the nerve to compare this experience with childbirth.

After hearing these atrocities, I expected the worst when I went in for my first mammogram at age 40. I stood there, breast posed on the tray as the robotic spatula piece slowly made it's way down, ready to squish my middle-aged breast into a flattened pancake. Goodbye, sweet breast. You served me well through many a grope. The robot does its squeeze, and I proudly note that my breast size has increased. It's a 2 dimensional shape now, but it's stretched out past the first marked curve, almost making it to the second one. (It reminds me of those stretching exercises where you sit on the floor and see how far you can extend your fingers.) The technician tells me to hold my breath. Here it comes...that unbearable pain... She snaps her X-Ray, and the mechanical arm comes up. That's it? That's the unbearable pain that experienced mammogrammers are talking about? What wimps!

Clearly these women that scare mammogram-virgins with their stories are not comfortable with experimentation and sexual openness. For those of us that are single and don't have access to men who regularly fondling our breasts, the annual mammogram can provide a sexual adventure like none other.

Yesterday was the day. No deodorant allowed. It's OK. Mr. Roboto and I enjoy our natural scents. I wore the hospital gown parted down the middle, just hinting of the breasts beneath. I opened the gown slowly and the technician gently cupped my breast, placing it gingerly on the tray as the robot enjoyed this bit of foreplay. He, of course, was immediately turned on and started coming down on me.

“Hold your breath so I can get a good picture” the technician advised. I did as told, keeping quiet, squelching my urges to moan. I whispered a quiet “oooh...that hurt so good” under my breath once the arm started lifting. Domo Arigato, Mr. Roboto. We got into several different positions, doing “it” at different angles, the photographer guiding us through every shot. I worked the camera, knowing my breasts were being handled by a professional.

The session was over too soon. The technician went out to check the proofs while I had a quiet moment with Mr. Roboto. Still flustered from our sexy photo shoot, I was tempted to disrobe entirely and wrap myself around his steely pole. But I felt chilly and somehow, the machine seemed distant. It's funny how one moment he can be squeezing my breasts...the next he's just sitting there, uncommunicative and cold. I had a moment of melancholy. I was just another pair of breasts to him...he'll feel thousands before he touches mine again.

“Would you like to be my Mr. December?” I ask him. He sits there, saying nothing and I wonder if he cares about me at all. Machines....

The technician comes back and tells me the photos are good and I'm free to go.

Even though the robot is immobile, I know he is a complex being. It's not his fault that he has no life. It's not like he can run off to see the wizard like the Tin Man.

Even if I mean nothing to him, I will savor the sweet experience of our yearly rendezvous. He may not love me, but I know he's looking out for me and some day, may even save my life. Each relationship is different and we have to love it for what it is.

Goodbye you hunky robot. I'll see you next year.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Bed & Breakfast Magic at Chez Michele's

When traveling, Bed and Breakfast Inn's are my favorite type of establishment. I love the cozy accommodations...the homespun charm of quilts, teapots, flowers, and aromas from the kitchen. A library with books which range from familiar classics to books of art, a fluffy cat that drapes herself around you, an antique chaise in the parlor where you can lounge like a pampered queen...you just can't get this kind of romance from a Best Western or even a luxury resort.

I've never been to a Bed & Breakfast alone. That type of romance is something to be shared. Too bad men typically don't relish that “girly stuff” nearly as much as I do. In my feel-sorry-for-myself moments I pout, thinking I might never get the chance to experience the romance of a B&B again. Funny that I didn't realize I'd be visiting one over Thanksgiving right in my sister's southern California home.

I've visited my sister before, but this was the first time I was the only visitor to her lovely home, which meant I got the full attention of her hospitality. I spent two evenings of my visit traipsing the city with Mr. November, and when I arrived back at the “inn” quite late, I found candles lit and fresh flowers adorning the guest bathroom and a mint upon my pillow! In the morning I'd wake to the scents of coffee and Thanksgiving recipes in the works.

But what made this B&B more special than any other wasn't the candles or the food. One morning I got a lazy late morning 20-minute warning from my brother-in-law, set to go with me on a long run in the 70-degree perfect California weather. Usually a reticent fellow, we chatted the whole way, discussing religion, politics, and even relationships! Every day, I got more than just the cat that draped herself around me. I got the two golden retrievers begging to be petted, their chins in my lap, looking up at me with their puppy-dog eyes. I got random hugs of affection from my neices, nephew, and sister...not because I was saying 'hello' or saying 'goodbye'....just because they love me. B&B's usually don't come stocked with people who give you a quick hug and kiss as you walk by.

I, of course, revel in all the attention. On other Thanksgivings I've been busy with my own preparations...either cooking or parenting or...at least helping the hostess. This time my sister and her family insisted on fully spoiling me and I had to do nothing but lounge around and be served. And...get this...my sister actually seemed to be enjoying doing all this pampering! I'm sure if I had stayed a few more days, she may have gotten a little irked, once I started ringing a bell for service, but she didn't even complain when I shouted up to the front desk for someone to bring me shampoo. Instead she brought me an assortment of toiletries including the requested shampoo, hair conditioner, powder, hand cream and mouthwash! They were all unopened in their cute mini containers, just waiting for the perfect guest with dirty hair, dry skin, and bad breath. This place is like magic! Quick, what else can I ask for? I know if I yell up for love, the dogs will come bounding in along with the rest of the family, and seeing as I'm in the shower, its not really the right time.

I'm not revealing the address of this unique establishment. It's not open to the general public. But I discovered that I have enjoyed this B&B more than any I'd ever visited while I was married. My husband would indulge me with occasional romance, but he was much happier roughing it at a backwoods campsite than eating scones in a candlelit breakfast room.

So, once again, I learn that a man is not required to enjoy a romantic experience and sometimes it can be a bit more romantic without one! Romance comes in many different forms. The smell of a rose placed in a room by a sister who's thinking of you means more than strolling through gardens hand-in-hand with a man who really doesn't want to be there. It's fun to share the excitement at the unexpected surprises with the person providing the pleasures, someone who not only delights in the same flavor of charm, but appreciates being appreciated herself.

So, here's to my discovery of the romance of Chez Michele, a secret Bed &Breakfast Inn.

Now....where is she with that tea?

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Mr. November

Just a couple of weeks ago, I was ready to bag the silly “Fall in Love” goal. After breaking things off with Mr. September/October, who lasted a record 2 months, I wasn't in the mood to meet any more men. I still have to finish The Laptop Dancer Diaries but I mentally debated finishing the book with some inspirational “love yourself” psychobabble chapters. (I'd throw in a sexy scene in the jetted bathtub to steam it up a bit. If you're going to love yourself, it's important to pamper yourself in every way.) I've become very tired of this dating game. But then it turned out, I had an opportunity to meet the man I've been openly cyber-stalking, Ian Usher.

If you want to find out more about Ian, check out the many links in google. He's a celebrity who's fame is only going to grow as the book and movie deals come out (I'm not kidding... He got the check from the agent yesterday when he was in Beverly Hills for the movie rights to his story!)

Though it had been a personal goal of mine to meet this like-minded goal freak*, I hadn't seriously thought it would happen, or that he'd end up being my qualified “Mr. November” . He lives on the other side of the world...or, I suppose now he lives all over the world, achieving his 100 goals in 100 weeks. When it turned out we were both in neighboring LA cities over Thanksgiving week, it was obviously a sign that Ian was destined to be my Mr. November.

I like my man-of-the-month to be a potential partner, and to include some bit of romance. “Potential” includes men that are single, attractive, intelligent, fun, and, if possible, available. (And, of course, it would be nice if they were interested in me, but I often don't necessarily let that stop me... It gives me challenge and I kind of like the chase.)

My trouble is with the adjective “available”. I seem to be attracted to men that are unavailable....either because they live out of state, are out of my “price range” (that's my friend Michael's way of saying “out of my league”), are still in love with someone else, or are commitmentphobes. And as I examine my behaviors, I realize that I am a bit of a commitmentphobe myself. I don't know if I seek out these unavailable types because of the challenge or my own fear of commitment...or maybe it's because those that are “too available” are unappealing for some reason. In some cases, thanks to my wily charms, I will manage to “catch” one of these borderline “unavailables” and he will give in to my seductive persuasions. It is soon after that, that I lose interest. This pattern of mine is very frustrating, undoubtedly requiring much therapy.

The last two evenings with Ian were better than I could have ever hoped for. You will have to wait for the book for the full account. The unavailability factor is sky high...but, as we've established, that only makes the chase all the more fun for me. And Ian's been a fun target to chase, whether that's been in cyberspace or chasing him into the freezing ocean (Who would have thought the catholic girl who hated to even shower in front of the other girls would one day be suggesting skinny dipping to a guy she'd just met? When I step out of my comfort zone, I do it right.) Ian is out chasing his dreams, achieving his goals, and finding fulfillment with each new experience, each new relationship. I so admire his attitude, optimism and openness. He is a very rare and unique person and the perfect Mr. November. I could easily see how I could love this man. His stories and thoughts move my heart. Of course, a long-term relationship is completely out of the question, and so I will savor my November experience and move on hoping to find a lasting love a bit closer to home. I suppose that will require me to pursue someone that is actually available, both physically and emotionally.

However, last night I got news of a new person that will be coming into my life. I know without a doubt that I will love this person deeply and unconditionally.

You see, I found out I'm expecting my first Grandbaby!

Side note:
*goal freak: I use this term with the utmost respect. For those people who think I go overboard once I have a "goal", I tell you I don't hold a candle to Ian Usher. I have never met anyone who takes his goals more seriously!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Exposing Yourself

The other day an email was sent out by to my "Rebuilder" network by a fellow "Rebuilder", Matt, advertising "Resingled a Divorce Blog" , a male perspective of the newly divorced life. I read it with interest. Relationships are my favorite topic, and, of course, my own blog is about being "resingled". That being said, besides being a female perspective (and 5 years past divorce), I'm not nearly as open as Matt is in his blog about thoughts around sex. Not only are my thoughts about sex ever-changing, it's a very confusing topic. And then there's the fact that sex is very personal. Describing how I feel about it on the internet feels a little bit like posting a nude photo of yourself. It's something intimate. It's kind of like one of those things that you work your way into as you get to know someone.

A male friend once told me a story about a woman he'd met from match.com. She was from out of state. He's a commitmentphobe and has this habit of meeting out-of-staters...Ms. Utah, Ms. Florida, Ms. California, he calls them. Anyway, he flew Ms. Something...I can't remember the state...out for the weekend. They had a nice day, strolling around Denver, and went back to his house (by the way he has this GORGEOUS house...) She "freshens up" and when he comes down to his entertainment room, she is lying nude on his couch. She proceeds to ask if he wants to see her "man in the boat". This, apparently, is a euphemism for asking if he wants to examine her female genitalia. She spreads her legs ready to give him a guided tour to her "boat" and the "man" within.

My friend, who I'll call "Hugh", since he I think he fashions himself another Hugh Hefner, was not prepared for this. He certainly has been around the block a few times, but never had he so abruptly been thrust into this kind of surreal sexual scene. Ms. Out-of-Stater was confused by his lack of eagerness to explore. It seems that other men have jumped (literally) at such an opportunity. I mean, it does sound like something that only happens in porn movies, and I guess her body (I'm not sure if that would be considered her "dock") was playboy material. But still "Hugh" was ready to run for the hills. Where's the mystery? Where's the anticipation? This almost sounds like a gynecology appointment, which I can tell ya, is not that sexy!

"Hugh" once advised me that if I was going to write very personal "stuff" in my blog, that I should never let anyone I'm romantically interested in, read it. He said that's like going "Open Kimono". And I suppose, the more personal it is, it can even be like exposing your "man in the boat" prematurely. On one hand, it feels wonderful to be able to express your innermost thoughts, especially when someone validates those thoughts. You get a feeling that you are not alone. Someone else has these fears, these insecurities, these hopes, these joys. But part of intimacy is to discover these things over time and together. You share a little, he shares a little, a touch, a smile, a bad mood, an embarrassing moment, a fear, a quirk, a hug, a kiss... let it grow. Don't rush to get to the "man in the boat" before you've even had the joys of experiencing the little stuff. There is nothing like those tingles you get from the light touch from a man you have a huge crush on. Though the ultimate fantasy is to have mind-numbing sex, if he whips out his penis and says "Wanna do it?" your infatuation is most likely going to morph to disgust.

There's a lot I'd like to say in response to the entries in Matt's blog, and I know he's looking for comments, but a comment is not enough to give justice to my female perspective about sex and singlehood. I would say that though it may be closer to "typically female" it's unique in that every one of us is different in how we feel about this topic. I commend Matt for his openness in sharing his thoughts. Though some I agree with and others I don't, it confirms my belief that we are all different, and discovering our inner thoughts (without necessarily exposing our "man in the boat") is how we get closer to love. Perhaps that's why reading blogs can be so entertaining. You get a glimpse into someones "real" personality and you feel a sense of closeness to them. But when it comes to "real" relationships, it must be a journey that you're walking together side by side. Whether your goal is sex or love, enjoy the small steps of intimacy along the way.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Need Not Be Present To Run

Hey, I'm officially published in a real magazine! I submitted the article I wrote almost 3 years ago to Colorado Runner and this month it came out in print! Watch out...the book is next!

Need Not Be Present To Run

DisneyWorldMarathonWithCell.jpgYou make a 4:30 a.m. phone call. You hear heavy breathing, moans, and squeals of delight as the person on the other end of the call is experiencing unseen thrills. While others have to pay for lewd 900-numbers for this kind of vicarious excitement, my family and friends simply needed to sign up for my Virtual Running Buddy program as I ran the Walt Disney World Marathon. That's right. You heard it here first! Once the readers of Colorado Runner hear about this, I'm certain that it will be the trendiest running fad since the walkman.

The beginnings of the idea took hold during one of my VERY long training runs; one which, unfortunately, I was running alone. Social runner that I am, conversation during long runs keeps me as happy as the Energizer Bunny. I just keep on going. On the other hand, running alone seems to have the power of causing time to go through some magical time warp. Suddenly, it's like running in some alternative world where clocks run at least 10 times slower. I was depressingly pondering the fact that I would soon be running a marathon for an estimated "real time" of 4.5 hours. Once I converted that, taking into account the magical slow-down factor, I calculated that, indeed, I would be running for what would seem like at least 45 hours. This could result in a very dangerous brain condition called insanity.

I tried to convince friends and family to join me in Orlando. They wouldn't have to run with me. Simply cheering me on from the sidelines might be enough to fuel my brain, hopefully enough to keep me from complete dementia. But, money, jobs, geography, life, and a fear of practicing sideline-brain-support without a license prevented anyone I knew from accompanying me on this life-and-death adventure.

How unfortunate that my Mom and sister, both of whom can talk on the phone with me for hours, were not runners. They certainly could send me a good burst of conversational brain fuel. Suddenly it came to me! I work for a company that promotes working from anywhere thanks to new technologies. In this age of laptops, PDAs, and cell phones, who needs to be physically present any more? We have virtual meetings. Why not virtual running buddies? Running with a cell phone and headset, auto-answer option enabled, I should be able to talk to friends and family throughout the whole marathon.

I emailed a wide distribution list describing my plan. Given the very early hours, especially considering time zone differences, I knew I'd need to use my powers of persuasion to get callers. I promised my potential VRBs 5-10 minutes of marathon experience without having to leave the cozy comfort of their beds. I appropriately set expectations, warning that I might not be doing much talking. There were some that welcomed that aspect of the program! I encouraged creativity, a comedy routine would be fine, thank you, but anything to distract would do. However, yawning, farting and burping were not allowed. I do have SOME boundaries. Normally, I would not have to mention such things, but my 11-year-old son was on my list, so I didn't want to take chances.

Responses were better than I could have hoped for. People from every chapter of my life signed up. Ages of my VRBs ranged from 11 to 70. Friends ranged from those I'd met in childhood to those I barely knew. There were friends I hadn't spoken with in years and those that I speak to daily. There were friends from school, friends from work, running friends, gal pals and flirt buddies, kids, siblings, and parents all ready and willing to be a VRB. As the email responses flew in, teasing me for my crazy ideas but supporting me with moving words of admiration, I suddenly realized I was in the middle of the biggest virtual party of my life.

My VRBs didn't let me down. Calling promptly at their appointed times, I was entertained throughout the entire 4.5 hours with songs, poems, quotes, quips, and even a sexy survey from Cosmopolitan. (For the record, I scored quite well.) For the first 20 miles or so, I described with high energy the sights and highlights as I passed through the theme parks and water stops. I delighted in proclaiming my perfectly paced timing... right on schedule at each mile marker! As I got closer to the end, my own ability to converse dwindling down to mere grunts of acknowledgement, I'm afraid my final VRBs didn't hear much more than the cheers from the crowds. There were times that I couldn't hear a word my VRB was saying, but I was loving that they were with me, whatever they were saying, hopefully feeling a fraction of the excitement that I was experiencing.

I realize now that there was no reason to fear the magical slowing of time during the Disney World Marathon. I didn't need my VRBs to provide entertainment. What they did provide was my own unique and wonderful cheering section throughout the race. I felt like I was experiencing some surreal version of "This is Your Life." They told me they were proud of me. They encouraged me to keep going. And they allowed me to share the wonders of an incredible experience virtually, but in real time. And in the end, four and half hours passed way too quickly.
- Yvette Francino

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Day 1 of my Costa Rica Adventure

Oct.11
Time to lose my Nervous Nellie persona and become Xevette, Jungle Princess and Slayer of Snakes. (or is Yvettemis, Goddess of the Jungle a better name? I'm still deciding.) The idea is that I become a brave and strong Super Hero on my Costa Rica Adventure. Whenever something uncomfortable happens, I will don my tropical super-hero outfit and conquer whatever beast should lay in my path! This will all happen in my mind, of course. I had toyed with the idea of making myself a little security-cape, but I'm not really ready to expose my weirdness in another country. Costumes may be best left for Halloween, Theme Parties, and fantasies...

There's a nice posse of us going on this trip, most of whom were in a Divorce Recovery class that I volunteered for last Spring. Brett (who I call Boy Toy...my younger-brother-like friend who played the role of "Mr. January" in my adventures), his girlfriend, Wendi, Cat, Bruce, Kathy, and I all flew out together from Denver. I'd describe each of them, but I'm still trying to figure out what their "book names" are going to be.

On the plane, I read "The Five Secrets of Happiness" and there were a couple of gems that struck home, especially in the chapter that talked about living life without regret. "When you have a decision to make, imagine you are an old person looking back and do the thing that would make the best story." I thought this was great advice and exactly what I've been doing thanks to this book project. Each month I force myself to do something out of my comfort zone because I need to write a chapter for my book. That's why I'm here! (And also I'm here because there are no refunds on this trip.)

The flight and subsequent drive to the Best Western Isuzu in San Jose, Costa Rica were incredibly easy. This international flight was by far the least tiring international journey I've ever had. There is NO time difference between Boulder and San Jose. The flights, layover, lines through immigration and customs, finding the van, hotel.....all went smoothly without a single hitch. On top of all this, I had my compadres with me which made the whole trip fun. The hotel is beautiful with all the amenities....including (my favorite) FREE internet access! (I don't consider it cheating on Laptop Guy in these types of circumstances.)

After we arrived and got settled, we met Lis, a friend of Cat's, who has been exploring CR for the last two weeks. She filled us in on the do's and don'ts of the land. We then went down to the hotel bar and met Merritt and the race crew and a few more of our fellow-adventurers. Kathy and I.. the two "princesses" don't drink beer...enjoyed our wine, while the others downed cervesas. I was very proud of Kathy, who, without hesitation, fulfilled her goal of doing salsa with a latin local.

The evening weather had a perfect after-rain coolness as we stood out on the balcony and compared stories, fears, and excitements about the upcoming week. There was tall 29-year-old, Brent, who had broken up 3 weeks earlier with his girlfriend, and had former highschool friend, Colin, there to accompany him instead. Cat, with my encouragement, already started making her moves on Brent and he seemed more than willing. By the end of the week, he'll have forgotten all about his broken heart.

I was a little timid about meeting race director, Merritt. After 35 emails asking him about malaria risks, his final email to me had been a rather terse, "I suggest you consult with your physician." (BTW informal polls from experienced travellers suggest the anti-malaria medication is not necessary and that the side affects from the pills are worse than the risk of catching malaria, so I'm going to forego the pills.) Though Merritt's original 'hello' to me was cautiously cool as I introduced myself as "the high maintenance one" I think as soon as he realized I wasn't going to drill him, yet again, on malaria risks, he warmed up to me.

I was very saddened to hear that the man that had written the journal for the trip last year had been recently diagnosed with stomach cancer. He did such a beautiful job of the journal. I asked Carter, one of the race volunteers, for his email address so I could write and tell him that he was an inspiration. I almost offered to write the journal this year, but, not knowing how I'll feel about the whole trip, I thought it best to hold back.

I went up to the room I'm sharing with Kathy at about midnight, wanting a little quiet time. As I was snuggling down in the bed, a little spider crawled across the bedspread, and "Slam"....I was on that baby with one whack of my notebook! Yes! Xevette, Jungle Princess saves the day!

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Adventures, Writing, and Love

I'm trying to get back on track with my 2008 resolutions and goals again. In many ways they've been going well, but the two that are giving me trouble are the same two that always give me trouble: "Write a Book" and "Fall in Love". The resolution that has been most successful has been my "Adventure a Month" commitment.

I thought I could kill 3 birds with one stone by writing a book about my adventures and falling in love. The monthly adventures themselves I thought might provide opportunities for love. I also have been on match.com and committed to at least a "date-of-the-month" which might lead to love. Again, this would provide fodder for my "book". A nice mix of adventure and romance would surely make it to the Oprah Book Club List.

I was hoping by mid-year I'd have had 6 adventures, be in love, and have documented it all along the way. Well, here it is mid-year. I've had 6 adventures (and hope to have 6 more before the year is over). I have done fairly well with "getting out there" and dating. That part of my year has had its ups and downs. And writing about it? Well... I worry about privacy...both mine and that of my dates. If I were to really write a book about it, I'd be tempted to exaggerate...stories are always better if you "enhance" them a bit. But I would never want to hurt anyone by publicly writing about my (typically very unreasonable) reasons for not wanting to progress a relationship.

Of course, there were times when the tables were turned, and the guy I was interested in was not interested in me. I could limit my book to just those stories... But the truth is, it has been a mix. I've been on both sides of the rejection equation. And though neither side is comfortable, it has been a good balance and given me experience.

In any case, I suppose I could write about my adventures and throw in some of the dating stories and change the names. With self-publishing as an option, I'm not really that worried about the book being any good. The chances of my "dates" reading it are slim to none. Maybe it's time to start back with "The Laptop Dancer Diaries".

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Ian Usher Fan Club

Here it is July 1, the start of a new half-year and I realize I have been quite remiss with my writing and my goals, in general. I've been inspired in the last couple days by a fascinating character, Ian Usher. This is a guy that sold his "life" on eBay. He wanted to make a fresh start, so sold his house, his possessions, time with his friends, and even 2 weeks of work at his job. He got quite a lot of publicity and now he has a new venture: 100 goals in 100 weeks.

He just started this new Website yesterday, and I was there at ground zero and sent him an email and he responded within the hour! I was really quite impressed. I'm sure that will not continue because the word is spreading fast and it sounds as though he is getting inundated with email. I'm not surprised. His 100 goals are impressive and exciting. I admire his drive.

Though I'm tempted to make excuses for myself, giving reasons why I can't do something like this....money, job, parenting responsibilities...the truth is we all can do this. My goals may not be as lofty as his, but I still can have 100 goals. And, I actually have kept up with my resolution of an adventure a month for 2008. I think one of my adventures is going to be to try and sync up with Ian Usher on one of his adventures. I'd love to meet this guy.

But...for today...it's time to get going with work. Though it doesn't allow me to plan and dream about new goals, it provides the money for them, and I am quite grateful for that.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Roller Doll Poetry

My daughter has recently joined the Denver Roller Dolls...that's a Roller Derby Team. She's kind of a girly girl, so I was surprised she wanted to do this, and even more surprised when she made the team. I never even knew she was intersted in skating! But I've learned that she pretty much accomplishes whatever she sets her mind to. Anyway, there is a poetry contest going on for Season Tickets to see the Dolls....here's my entry:

Part of Her World
(to the music of "Part of Your World" from "The Little Mermaid")


Look at my girl
Isn't she neat?
Wouldn't you think her experiences complete?
Wouldn't you think she's the girl
The girl who's done everything?

Look at her world
Look what she's done
How many ways can she find to have fun?
Hearing about her you think
Sure, she's done everything

She's climbed mountains and skydived a-plenty
Her life's never a bit of a bore
You want adventure?
She's had many
But who cares?
No big deal
She wants more.....

She wants to be where the skaters are
She wants to check, wants to hip check big girls
Pushing and playing with - what do you call 'em?
Oh. Dolls!

Walking with shoes you don't get too far
Skates are required for soaring, jamming
Learning the best way to recover from - what's the word?
Falls

Out where they skate, out where they train
No she is not afraid of the pain
Fast and fear-free - she wants to be
Part of that world

What would I give if I could live watching my daughter?
What would I pay to spend a day up in the stands?
Bet'cha the fans all understand
That sometimes a girl gets slaughtered
Strong brave lasses off their a$$es
Ready to land

I'm ready to watch what the derby fans watch
Ask them my questions and get some answers
How do you score and when's the next - what's the word?
Bout?

How I would shout!
Wouldn't I love, love to cheer from the stands up above?
My Roller Baby
I long to see
That part of her world

Monday, March 10, 2008

The Most Romantic Wedding Nightmare

My daughter, Megan, could beat out Martha Stewart in a party planning showdown any day. She is a perfectionist and she has been planning her wedding down to the edible gold flakes in the champagne since before her engagement. Her mother-in-law-to-be, Lynn, has offered to arrange the flowers and make the bouquets. Her father-in-law-to-be, Mark, a former pastor, is officiating the ceremony. The rest of us have our duties as well. As mother-of-the-bride, I'm official "task master" trying to keep "Operation Wedding" running smoothly. This is really an easy job since Megan has given everyone multi-page explicit instructions of exactly what they are to do and when they are to do it. The stress, however, with less than 2 months left until the big day, is taking its toll on her. Here is an email she sent me, passing on this description of a nightmare she'd had last night.

"First of all, everyone was wearing terrible clothes, like all the guys were way too casual, the bridesmaids were wearing blue, and you were wearing a white lace wedding dress with a veil!!!!! Some girls I know that aren't invited to the wedding were there but they were so slutty, I could see through their dresses. Also, I had some vows written down that I was holding, but I didn't know what was written and I was just going to read them anyway because I didn't even have time to read them before the wedding! Then the processional was starting and I didn't know where my bouquet was, I didn't even know what it looked like! So I crawled to the front of the ceremony hoping no one would see me so that I could ask Lynn where my bouquet was! She showed me where it was and then left, but it was not even flowers, it was like these stuffed animals only they were 3 stuffed hearts on stuffed sticks! They were really ugly! I was like "I'm not carrying that down the aisle" and freaking out, but you said that I should do it anyway so as not to offend Lynn! Then they started playing Over the Rainbow as a processional song and someone was even singing it, it was terrible! THEN Mark started the ceremony and he did the dorkiest thing!!! Because we have given him a list of how the ceremony will go, and the first thing on the list is a welcome speech, he just said "Welcome" and then he made a hand gesture of a huge check mark with a stupid grin on his face and everyone was like OK..... But then, this next part was so sweet! Then, I looked into Chris' eyes and he told me with his eyes that everything is OK, and I was so happy. I felt so much love for him. It was the sweetest ending to my nightmare!"


I loved this dreamy nightmare. Besides being hilarious, I thought it had an incredibly romantic ending. Megan has often been able to control things in her life. She has this unbelievable drive, knows exactly what she wants, and goes for it. I'm continually amazed at her talents and abilities to do everything she sets out to do. But in this dream she has lost control. Things are not turning out the way she wants. And the ending is perfect because she realizes what's important...it's not the flowers or the music or the dresses...it's that she is marrying her love. Chris has the laid-back charm that balances Megan's perfectionism. And I'm so glad she can look at him, both in her dreams and in real life, and see his love, and know that her wedding will be perfect, regardless of any mishaps that may occur. And the other reason I love the nightmare was because I was decked out in a white lace wedding dress and veil! I'm sure I looked gorgeous.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Takin The Polar Plunge - Brave or Stupid?

Last night we lost and hour of time. I'm trying not to worry about it. We gained a whole day on February 29th. But as I get older, I'm acutely aware of the passage of time. In order to not let life pass me by, I have committed, as a 2008 resolution, to have at least one "adventure" a month. In January, I went to Phoenix to run a half-marathon. In February, I went to Cancun...a liberating vacation all by myself! So far, so good!

I still hadn't figured out my March adventure when I got something in my inbox about the Nederland Frozen Dead Guy Days. Coffin races, hearse parades, masquerade balls, and a polar plunge, all celebrating the end of winter (yay!) and the "frozen dead guy" (Grandpa Bredo) that was found "on ice" that the town is famous for. Now this kind of thing is right up my alley...dress up festival, end of winter, humor...I love a good "theme" party. I thought...here it is! My March Adventure!

My "Just Do It!" friend, Brett, (always up for an adventure) was all with me on this. We quickly agreed that we HAD to do the polar plunge.... no good just being a spectator at these things, we had to participate! That's what the "adventure-of-the-month" is all about! We sent out emails encouraging friends to join us and started thinking about costumes. Then I walked outside and realized it was still cold.

Let me tell you something about me and cold. We do not get along. Notice my other two winter adventures involved going to warm places to get away from the cold. I suddenly realized I hadn't thought this "adventure" all the way through. Seeing as we didn't have time to collect pledges for charity or pick an appropriate costume, I convinced Brett that this should be the year we just scope out the Festival and plan to do it "right" in 2009.

As we watched all the Frozen Dead Guys activities, I admit to feeling a little disappointed in myself for not being more of a participant, but Nederland is a LOT colder than Boulder (and comparing it to Cancun...well...that's not even fair.) As the volunteer fire department were chainsawing through the solid icey pond to make a spot for the plungers, all I could think was...I am SO glad I'm not jumping in there. I was frozen just watching! Literally! My fingers and toes were numb. I was amazed that they actually let people jump into that pond that was solid ice, on a day that I was freezing even though I was bundled up in a winter coat! I figured this had to be life-threatening or at least really, really, bad for your body! It reminded me of those weird rituals where people walk across burning hot coals. Is it brave or stupid?

Amazingly, the people that took the plunge jumped in, got out, took bows, with barely a shiver! I stood in awe (well, actually, I was huddled up shivering) but I still was awe-struck at their bravery or stupidity...I still couldn't figure out which it was!

As for my March adventure? I don't think I can count just watching Frozen Dead Guys activities as an "adventure", but at least I didn't become a Frozen Dead Guy myself. I'm still thinking maybe a showshoe or ski-trip...complete with the apres-ski hot tub and wine. Yes, that sounds much more like my kind of adventure.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Dead Kids Don't Cry


One of the days of my Cancun vacation was spent on a day trip to Chichen Itza...those Mayan ruins with the big pyramids. It was a guided tour, and all quite interesting, though the business about the sacrifices was very disturbing.

Having helped my son with a school report last year, I was aware of many of the gruesome rituals of this tribe, but I was especially upset to learn that they apparently often threw children into a well as sacrifices to the rain God. They threw them in alive because it was believed their tears would bring rain. I think someone should have clued these guys in that those kids would have shed a lot more tears over the years had they been alive. Can you imagine that in today's world? People watching the weather report in dread. Dad saying, "Little Susie, I'm afraid it's no rain again, it's time to throw you into the well." Susie pleading, "No Daddy, please! I promise to cry more often! I know I haven't been crying enough, but I'll start right now and won't stop until the rain comes!"


It is hard for me to understand why ancient religions were so heavy into "sacrifice" to please the Gods. It seems so obvious to me that God would not condone violence, torture, or cruelty. But, I suppose that's because that is the image of God that I've grown up with and believe in... a God that is love-based, not one that is fear-based.

It seems outrageous to me that, today, in 2008, people are still killing each other in the name of religion. It seems outrageous to me that there is war at all! How can there still be so many people that think killing is the answer to solving conflict? I understand the need to defend and I respect our troops and what they do for our country, but sometimes I look at our society, and I realize our world is still not as enlightened as I hope it one day will be. I think in the future (or even now) people will look at our wars as I am doing with the Mayan culture, and say: "Those guys were lunatics to have thought that was the "right" thing to do! Couldn't they see how wrong and immoral their actions were?"

I know there are a lot of people in our world that promote peace and an end to violence. Unfortunately, there are also a lot with the opposite mentality... terrorists and crazies and people that somehow think war is the way to gain power. As long as we have those people, we will have wars. We cannot just lay down peacefully and let the crazies take over the world. On the other hand, I think the war we're in now could have been avoided. I don't know much about politics or foreign policy, but I do know killing people is wrong. Maybe it's a naive attitude and there are times we must defend ourselves, but the whole concept of war to me is as crazy as people throwing their kids in a well to appease the rain Gods.

Friday, February 29, 2008

Can You Love the People You Meet on Vacation?

Someone once told me that you can love every person you meet. Your goal should be to figure out what you love about them. So I took the challenge with the 6 people I met when I traveled to Mexico last week. On the very first night I told the others about my blog and my plans to write a book some day. Though I liked the idea of teasing them that I would share exaggerated embarrassing stories, I will save those for my book. I promised to change their names for privacy, though...

Though "love" is a strong word, it wasn't hard to find qualities in each one of them that I admire. I don't know if our paths will ever cross again...we live in different parts of the country..but for 5 days these were people that touched my life. Here are the things I found that I "loved" about my little Cancun family.

Sherrie:
*The thoughtful way she got me a birthday card and all of us surprise gifts before we left

*Her energy. I still can't believe how chipper she was the morning after "the night of illness"

*Her friendliness. She treats every person she meets like her new best friend

*Her free spirit. From her laugh to her excitement over making bracelets, she has the playfulness of a child that we all need from time to time.

*Her New York-don't-mess-with-me attitude.

Rob:
*Those dreamy eyes.

*The way he understood the meaning and importance of the "birth minute" right away. I'll be thinking of him every day at 5:22. (or was it 5:24??)

*The time we bonded as partners when playing ping-pong...especially when in "the zone"...oh and he is awesome at cup-flipping, too!

*The way he humors me, playing along with my "dating advice" when, obviously he knows more than I ever will about the subject

*The way he can give me a hard time, tell me he's kidding, give me hard time, tell me he's kidding in a comforting cyclical pattern.

Allen:
*His salsa skills, especially when lounging pool-side, "flirting" with...not sure who....

*The way he can ride the waves, beating out those college kids any day

*His smile, hiding behind the "angry-looking" camera face.

*The trace of the Iranian accent leftover from his childhood that adds to his mystique

*The fact that he plays games as much as I do despite our initial conversation where he claimed to the contrary. (Of course, we were talking about "dating games" then...)

Janelle:
*Her beauty...though I will never be able to capture the extent of it on the camera, no matter how much I try.

*Her spirituality. She clearly has a strong faith which is something I greatly admire and respect.

*Her playfulness. Whether it be jumping through the waves or a game of ping-pong(both winning or losing!), she plays for fun

*Her subtle mischievous inner-child: That little smirk she gets on her face after the fib about the "foot massage"

*Her health. She's a walking nutrition-label! She probably knows all the vitamins and anti-oxidant level of every food there is. And if her body had a nutrition label, it would rival the most sought-after super-multi-vitamin in existence.


Christy:
* Her openness - though I did not get to talk to her much, she seemed to be the type of person who was genuine...what you see is what you get.

* Her hair - Very shiny and blond

* Her sense of adventure - Unlike me, she had no problems deciding what to do or where to go. She seems to be someone that knows what she wants and goes out and gets it

* Her risk-taker attitude - Though I'm guessing on this one, I get the sense she is a risk-taker and lives each day to the fullest

* Her easy-going nature and positive attitude - This goes along with her openness and friendliness.


Donna:
* Her beautiful eyes

* Her voice. Though I didn't get to hear it, she likes to sing...something I've always wanted to do myself.

* Our shared birthday and our common goal to celebrate.

* Her assertiveness...she says what's on her mind and does not give in to peer pressure.

* Her sense of style..whether it be in a cowboy hat and denim dress or sexy bathing suit, she had a fashion sense that tells me she'll look good where-ever she goes.

These will be the characters for the February '08 chapter of my "book", which I think I will title: "Eat, Pray, Love, but Never Sleep". Some ideas for sub chapters are:

* The Salsa Dance Double Date that Ended at the Drugstore
* Are They Gay?
* The Head Games of The Mayan and Don't You Know Dead Children Don't Cry?
* The Yellow Yucatan dress that Saved the Mexican Economy
* Allen's Near Death Experience or In Search of Mouth-to-Mouth Resuscitation
* The Art of Cup-Flipping
* Turning 48 and Passing for 70 (This one is already written in my "Finding Love at 48" blog entry)
* How Many Travel Agents Does it Take to Book an Excursion?


Coming in 2009 to a bookstore near you!

Traveling "Alone" and Loving It




Every February it's the same...I am tired of the cold, Colorado winter, and need an escape. But, I'm single, and who wants to go to a romantic spot on their own? That's just depressing...or so I thought when 3 years in a row, I decided against going to Mexico because I had yet to find a boyfriend to go with. This year, 2008, I decided things were going to be different. I was going to stop "waiting" to do romantic, beautiful things. Even when I was married, my husband and I often had different opinions about vacations, and it was time to start living how I wanted to live, with or without a boyfriend! In fact, I have more freedom than ever right now and it was time to start taking advantage of that.

When I saw a Cancun Trip advertised on Meetup for Singles, I thought this is my chance. Now...first, let me tell you, I'm not crazy about the "single's scene". I've been to my share of single's events, and usually I come away disappointed, swearing that I will never again stoop to such means of meeting people. Though I hate to classify them as "desperate", let's just say there are rarely men that I am interested in at such events. In fact, I think I can safely say I have never had a romantic interest in someone I met from a single's event.



But, I was not interested in this "Single's Trip" because I thought I'd meet a romantic partner...after all, people were coming from all over the United States and the last thing I need is a long-distance relationship. I was interested because I'd have people to sit with at meals....people to look out at the ocean with and say, "Isn't that beautiful?"...People to laugh with, play with, and drink a margarita with. And at the same time, I'd be traveling alone and have the freedom to do whatever I wanted to do. If I wanted to have a solitary hour on the beach to watch the waves, I could do that. I could do whatever I wanted on this vacation! This feeling of independence (while having the "security" of knowing there would be people to befriend if I was so inclined) was perfect.

It turned out to be the premier trip for BestSingleTravel.com, the brainchild of Sheryl Weinberger. Sheryl, our friendly, out-going travel coordinator and owner of SingleTravel.com, was quite the hostess for this trip. There were only 7 of us...5 women and 2 men...for me, that was just fine. By the end of our 5-day stay we had become friends....In fact, there was even a cabana-bed group photo (not yet approved for world-wide-viewing)!

Throughout the stay, Sheryl worked hard at making sure we all were taken well-care-of. She coordinated meeting times and encouraged outings. Though we were free to spend as little or as much time together as a group as we wanted, most of us choose to dine together regularly and to see many of the sites around Cancun together. We soon were sharing secrets (OK...maybe they were just made up stories, but they were pretty good!) and playfully teasing each other.

I was especially impressed with Sheryl's thoughtfulness on the last day of our trip when we all found a surprise gift on our door handles. The night before, she had also clued in our wait-staff that two of us were celebrating birthdays and we had cards signed by the group as well as a cheesecake with candle. And Bingo-pro that she is (do they play it in Vegas?), she won 2 bottles of tequila, giving both of them away (one to me, and one to the other birthday girl)!

This trip gave me that liberating feeling of knowing that even when traveling "alone", I don't need to be "lonely". I had a fabulous vacation and came away with new friends. What more could you ask for?

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Finding Love at 48

Today is my 48th birthday. I've been thinking a lot about finding love at an older age. I was divorced at 43, and being single has had its ups and downs. "Dating" at any age is not really my cup-of-tea, but the older I get, the less I want to do it. I much prefer an established relationship to the early getting-to-know-you days. I'd love a 48-year-old balding guy with a paunch if he loved me, was the father of my kids and I'd shared the last 25 years with him. I'd take him over a hunky young studmuffin any day. The problem is the bald father of my kids doesn't love me, and, in fact, is married to someone else. Honestly, now that I am 5 years past that painful time, I'm glad. Being single is not great, but it's better than being married to someone who doesn't love me. And there are many habits that my ex-husband had that I am more than happy to no longer have to deal with.

It's hard to feel attracted to "older" people, though. Bald men with a paunch with whom I've shared no history, don't do it for me. That's why we fall in love when we're young, get married, and by the time we don't look good anymore, we have developed that "mature" love that's based on so much more than how attractive we are.
We usually accept each other's mutual decline on the attractiveness scale and do not have that dreaded fear of exposing middle-age imperfections.

Luckily, I have aged relatively well. I get my fair share of attention from the "older" generation. The other day I had some guy that looked like he could be 70 try and pick me up. Though I know I should be flattered by any attention, I admit to feeling somewhat panicked that my "dating pool" is moving dangerously close to those headed for the geriatrics ward.

The good news is I still get approached by young guys, too. While in Cancun last week, some young guy invited me up to his room. (I almost called him a "young hottie", but...the truth is, he wasn't that hot.) I told him I don't go to the rooms of men I don't know so he invited me for a drink to "get to know me". I accepted the drink, but told him I thought the difference in our ages was too great. I kiddingly told him I was turning 70. Now here's the really bad thing about joking like that.... He said, "Really?????" as though it might actually be true! No, NOT REALLY! DUH! To think someone might have actually believed I could be 70 (even if they were surprised!) was not pleasant. Our little "getting to know you" drink, blessedly, did not last long.

Though I sound very cynical, and, honestly, I know my ambivalence about dating is one of my biggest obstacles from finding romance at this older age, I cannot say I do not have love in my life. I have met many friends (both men and women), thanks to my single status, who I do now love. I have friends help me when I'm too weak, short, or ditzy to do "hard" things myself. I have friends I can call when I'm feeling sad or just need someone to tell me that I am sexy, even if I am pushing 50. I have friends who will laugh with me, cry with me, or tell me to "get over it" when it's time to "get over it". I may not have found my "soulmate" yet, but I have found more love since my divorce than I could ever hope for. And for that I am very grateful.

This, once again, may not be a year I "fall in love", but it is a year that I will continue to find more people to love....that's what life is all about and I plan to do it until the day I die.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Michael - Man on the Street


Michael is the first victim of my "Man on the Street" interviews--where we hear about the male perspective on love and relationships. Michael qualifies because he's an over-40, good-looking, single guy. I have to 'fess up though...He's a good friend, not really a "man on the street". We originally met on one of my earlier match.com stints over 2 years ago and dated briefly. We were both still pining over previous relationships at the time (and to some extent are still talking about those same relationships now!) Though, we didn't end up in much of a romantic relationship ourselves, we did become great friends. We have a standing coffee date every Friday morning during which we spend at least an hour discussing everything from our latest parental challenges to our philosophies on love and life.

Because I have spent so many Friday mornings with Michael, there was no need for me to have a "formal interview", but I had one anyway, mainly for the practice. Now I've lost my notes, but, that's OK. I'll just write what I want and I'll let him edit it (he used to be a Literature Professor or something at CU Boulder so he will undoubtedly think this whole blog is a piece of crap, which, of course, it is, but still...)

Here's a summary of MY impressions of Michael:

Most attractive physical characteristic: His blue eyes

Personality: Optimistic, romantic, caring father, intelligent, witty, sometimes silly, outgoing

Where he hangs out: "Flatirons Social Club"...this is what he calls his group of friends that listen to the summer bands that play at Flatirons Mall on Thursday nights. He also likes to go to Sports bars with friends or listen to Roger Clyne in concert.

Favorite Exotic Place to Go: Puerto Penasco because no one knows about it, and he drives across the Sonoran desert from Arizona to get there.

How he most likes to meet potential dates: In a Natural setting (ie. "Woman on the Street")...Not through Match.com (though I must interject here that he at least met ONE great person through match...that would be me.)

What has been his biggest obstacle to dating: Being a full-time father of 4. Now that his youngest is almost 14 and his oldest two children are out of the house, he feels he will have more freedom to pursue relationships.

Something sexy about his past: He used to be part of a rock band

His feelings on relationships and love: Michael often talks about "not settling". He is looking for the "real deal" and does not get into a romantic relationship lightly. He has high standards but is confident that he'll find the mix of physical, intellectual, and spiritual chemistry in woman when the time is right.

Things I appreciate about him: His ability and willingness to communicate, especially about relationships. His love of his children. The way he listens and gives his honest opinions. The way he helps my family cut down a Christmas Tree every year. His friendship.

Michael's own words about love: “I am looking for someone who understands the difference between trust and negligence, someone who does not mistake trust for negligence. I am looking for someone who does not believe that physical beauty is a reason to ignore her mind.”