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 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 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 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 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