Monthly Archives: December 2013

10 Ways that Divorce Has Improved My LIfe

I’m having a glum morning. Divorcing means losing my current health insurance, and although I can and will (and have to by their rules) switch to the University’s grad student insurance, it will cost more than $1000 to sign up…. which I just don’t have. And it’s, of course, not as comprehensive by a long shot. And I can’t afford to order my contact lenses… (seriously, screw LASIK. Everyone I know who’s had it has needed vision correction within 10 years, and my eye doc says those who have gotten LASIK pay his mortgage and Mercedes car payments. Feh.)

I know I’m in the company of many, many people who have been tossed from financial security to a precarious position by divorce, but it’s still hard for independent and proud me. So, in order to lift my mood, I’m going to list the things that kind of rock about having to go through a divorce:

1. I’m Getting Fit. I am the fittest I’ve been since high school. Thanks to my friend K, I did that 40 day yoga challenge, and it converted me to Baptiste Power Yoga (sad that I wasn’t into it when I lived in Cambridge or Philly at the same time as Baron Baptiste!) I love feeling myself get stronger. I love being able to do push-ups, and trying new poses that were previously beyond me. I even like the heated rooms at this point. I’m in Bucks County, PA for two weeks visiting my parents, and am missing my Houston studio, even though I’ve been doing yoga here too! Being single means I can go to yoga whenever the whim strikes, without compromising or apologizing or negotiating the car.

2. And Getting Over my Fear of Loneliness. When I moved to Japan, I suffered immensely because I’d never lived alone and was dealing with too many pressures at once. And when I first returned to Houston, I was terrified and depressed. I felt as though I was haunting my own house. I paced. I frantically made plans. I fell into a horrible black sadness every time there was a lull in my distractions. Mostly I used dating to avoid dealing with my own mind. But I’m learning to be okay with just hanging out alone (In the past I loved alone time, because I knew that eventually someone would come home and relieve me of my solitude.) Now if I can learn stillness…

3. Learning to cook. Living with a great cook for my entire adult life meant I never did learn how to cook much of anything. I’m enjoying dusting off all of the cookbooks I had pointlessly accumulated, and making the things I once wanted to try. I’m just -learning- how to enjoy the process and results. Nobody mocks my knife skills, nobody tells me I did anything wrong. I can just learn as I go. I know I don’t cut things correctly, but my food still tastes good to me.

4. Getting to budget. I do so much better with money when I can be a super control freak about it, and without some other reluctant party to mess it up and sabotage my efforts, I can save for the things I want that are more expensive (of course, with no income that’s trickier…) When I splurge on something, I know it’s okay for my budget and I don’t have to argue with anyone over it.

5. Getting to travel if I feel like traveling. If I can scrape together the money (yay frequent flyer miles!) and, so long as I can find a way to deal with the dogs, I’m free to go. Being married to someone who hates to travel was sad during my 20s. If we’d had a budget (see #4) we could have saved for trips… but we didn’t even take a honeymoon.

6. Juice Fast? Sure, why not?. I can randomly decide to do a 7-day cleansing fast if I want to, and nobody can say boo. I’m looking at you, January 7 (when my sister goes back to Philly from Houston). I’m going to try the Cleansing Diet that Baron Baptiste used on his 7-day Bootcamps. I’ll probably get all surly again. But they really do have an overall positive effect on me, and I didn’t expect them to, so I’m not sure the case is strong for a mere placebo effect.

7. Learning to be less useless. With nobody around to handle things like the smoke detector needing a battery change, or the paint chipping on my back doors, I’m just sort of learning to do them myself. I changed my own car oil the other day!

8. For the first time in my adult life, figuring out who I really am.  I defined myself in relation to another person for my entire adult life (19-35), and I am discovering I didn’t have much of a sense of my own strength, or even who I am apart from his opinion of me. So much of me was defined by the feedback I got from him, and not all of it was complementary. I’m also realizing that, because I was the submissive partner in the relationship, I deferred to J’s opinions on a lot of things- but I’m often right (too). Not always, but more than I thought I was.

9. Regaining my Sex Drive! Er, you might want to skip this, friends. But yeah, a dysfunctional relationship can really, really torpedo your sex drive, eh? I’m sure some people are able to sleep with a person towards whom they have years of accumulated hurt and pain and anger, but not I. And I’m enjoying feeling like a more healthy and vital person as a result of not having to wrestle with that emotional garbage constantly. I should qualify that the garbage is still there, but it has nothing to do with my current sex life. 

10. And…  Forcing me to Leave My House. When I am in a relationship, it’s just too easy for me to give in to my introverted instincts, to hide in my house with the other person. Thanks to being single, I’ve gone to (and participated in) The Moth, and Grownup Storytime. I’ve gone out for beers on weeknights, tried bars I hadn’t been to, etc. Forced to leave my house if I want human contact, my life is much more interesting now.

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In Which I Try to be LESS of a ‘Ho

Hello internet.. lately a week in my life feels like a year. I find that I just met someone last week, they fell out of my life this week, and the whole thing only took a week in total. This is why I hate trying to date. Although since I changed my dating site profile pictures, I am apparently quite the catch for 40-something year old cowboys with anger issues. (Alas, no cute ones yet- and the age is fine, as I’m 35.)

On Monday I had this conversation with my shrink:

“How are you?”

Me: “Hmmm…wfessffsd” (Seriously, all I managed to utter was some sort of noise.)

“Can I tell you something I’ve observed about you?”

I tried to nonchalantly take a sip of my coffee and wound up dumping it down my front. I nodded sloppily, while reaching for a fist-full of tissues.

“You come in here talking about despair and anxiety and profound depression, and yet you always seem cheerful and even perky.”

Her observation didn’t surprise me in the slightest. Actually, it surprised me that anyone would be different…

“I’ve only let two people in my entire life see my feelings,” I told her “and one is divorcing me” (have you also observed that I am prone to melodrama?)

***

A guy found my OKCupid profile and told me he too is a yogi (I will never, ever refer to myself as a yogi. Or a yogini. I’ve been doing yoga for 20 years and I’m not a damn yogi. I’m way too easily embarrassed for that), and asked where I practice. I told him, and he said that he’s been known to pop into Big Yoga as well. I looked at his profile too… he had made a fortune in his 20s, sold off his company, and now does nothing but do yoga, and quite possibly roll around in his money.

He asked if we could have a juice after class on Wednesday, and I said yes, except I’m too broke to buy a juice. I sort of (guiltily) knew he’d offer to buy me one when I mentioned that, but I really am that broke, and I don’t like to lie or demur or…   pass up a chance to complain.

As I was unfolding my mat, he approached me. His eyes moved slowly, slowly up my body. So appraising was his gaze that I involuntarily folded inward. I didn’t want him to see … me. But apparently I didn’t check out. After class he wouldn’t even turn his head towards mine as I tried to make conversation. He chugged his juice in one big gulp, and then told me he had to run. As I sat in my car by myself I thought… “Hm. Online dating is the stupidest. And that was just supposed to be a friendly conversation between… yogis. And now I get to sit in my car and wonder what he found so objectionable… was my hair a mess?”

My favorite thing is that a full 50% of the people who write to me try to do so in Google translated or sounded out Japanese “konnishiwa” “oh-hi-yo gosaimash!” I can’t imagine if I actually were Japanese. Speaking of, I do have a hot date tonight with a Japanese guy who just moved here for work. His English is perfect, unlike T’s, and I can’t tell what he thinks when I switch between English and Japanese.

But.

I have done the fadeaway with all but my trusty friends-with-benefits guy from the last post. B is such a sweetheart, and really hot. The rest were making my heart ache and my stress skyrocket.

Time for some matcha and houjicha.

3 Sides, No Whole : On how I became a ‘ho

I slid into the metal patio chair in front of one of Houston’s hipster coffee shops, and paused. My eyes met a pair of steely blue ones behind wire-rimmed glasses. He took off his glasses and regarded me carefully for a moment. In a low voice he said:

“You’re… much hotter than your photos.”

I gazed back at him. “You too.” I answered, unable to keep from smirking.

He raised an eyebrow. “I thought my photos were pretty good.”

“They are.” I grinned.

Our eyes met again, and I felt a rare kind of electricity in the air, as well as a raw animal desire to push him up against the nearest tree immediately. He was muscled, chiseled, a real Texas guy with wavy blonde hair and a slight twang. His t-shirt hugged his body closely and an intricate black tattoo wrapped around one forearm and bicep. I imagined him in the AIr Force uniform he’d worn until recently. I imagined him with his twin brother. He writes erotica with his brother now. Our date was last night. (I’ll call this guy A)

But I’d been to that coffee shop the night before with a different guy (I’ll call him B). The electricity wasn’t there, but the first guy, a published author and professional writer, had the personality and the life elements that work better for me. A is a loose cannon- I’m an academic, and A dropped out of college because he feels like academia is the highest form of bullshit in the world. His rants sound like the rants of my worst former students, who blamed their lack of discipline on my assignments. I am an academic snob even among academics. I value credentials, intellectual capital, critical theory name dropping, and I don’t think I even want to get over it. A and I (probably) have no future. And B and I? We don’t necessarily have the right chemistry, but I’m giving that one time.

Meanwhile there’s C, for whom I am a booty call. He’s also really, really hot. Objectively speaking, he’s a pretty phenomenal guy to have a friends with benefits situation with. But he’s passive, quiet, calm. He doesn’t like to talk much, about anything of substance. Our conversations are light, fluffy, and boring. I like sexing him up, and he’s endlessly kind. But the first thing he said to me when we met was that he didn’t want a commitment. And the tenth or so was a daring proposition for attachment-free sex whenever either of us wanted it. I said yes. From the moment I saw him I had wanted to see him with his shirt off, to slowly take in those muscular arms with their full tattoo sleeves. He’s half-Japanese and half French-Canadian, always dressed impeccably and with a beautiful apartment. He has no interest in spending time with me outside of our (admittedly hot) sexual escapades… and yet he surprised me with flowers, cake, and presents on my birthday. He’s hard to hang out with though, as he has to be up early for his job and has been known to go to bed as early as 8pm.

There’s still T, in Japan as well. And E, another guy who comes and goes from my life. I feel as though my life has become about scheduling men around one another, keeping them all happy, and losing myself in the process. I think in writing this I just had to concede that while I think losing one of them would be bad (I am still trying to feel them all out, to see if there’s potential there that I’m missing), the only one I really want to let play out is B. And even then just a little bit. Even though I know A and C are just kinda “my hoes”, it takes effort to juggle booty-calls. It does. My introverted self doesn’t like having so many plans all the time either.

As I was typing this, A just texted me “You’re hot, true, but what turned my head was how smart you are, and how easily and comfortably our conversation flowed. I wasn’t expecting that.”

Crap.

He’s also a professional masseuse.

He’s coming over on Saturday. He just sent me one of his erotica pieces and…well, I’ve read a lot of erotica. I even interned at an erotica publishing house in college. The way this guy writes to me makes my arms go limp and my head get all foggy. Have you ever tried flirting with someone who writes erotica professionally? It’s… intense.

I don’t know when I turned back into my 19 year old self. I’m even down to that weight (and income level- thanks, grad school). My attention flicks between people like sun through the trees. I am basking in the erotic tension. But I also hope that I can find someone who gives me the brain-sparkles AND matches my yuppie intellectual lifestyle.

In the meantime, I’ve given myself something new to stress over. And I’ve got to stop letting this interfere with my work. Less texting the harem, more reading for my dissertation.

(Good lord, I won’t tell you what A just texted me. I may fall down now.)

This Month is Travel

So, getting away to Chicago did me a lot of good insofar as it helped me realize that a) I am a mess. I might even be a hot mess? Not sure where the line is there. Anyway, it gave me a mental break from the guy who I wasted two prior blog posts on, and the space to realize he was even more nuts than am I. After not contacting me for a while, he deleted his email account and cancelled his phone service– I know because I had told myself that after a week of no contact I could send one final note: “if you’re ever ready to date, look me up” or something to that extent.

And off I went to a 5-day conference in Chicago (dammit, I’m on another plane right now and I managed to lose one of my shoes. I took them off and now I don’t know where one is. It takes talent to lose a shoe in an airplane seat).

I love the big annual (academic) conference, and I also don’t have the disposition for it. It overstimulates me so profoundly that I almost cancelled my Thanksgiving plans because I feel the need to sit alone in my house for a week to recover. And stare at the wall. It’s basically nonstop people if you plan it that way, and I do, because I don’t like wasting my time– I’m there to shmooze and be shmoozed upon.

So I ran into my previous advisor in a bar. Earlier I’d seen him in passing in the conference hall and we paused, briefly in mutual recognition as he gestured vaguely and said:
“I’m running–“
“Then run,” I interrupted, realizing that might have been rude.
Anyway, I’m not popular by any stretch of the imagination, but as we tried to talk in the bar, we were cut off by one person after another who wanted to greet me. And one was my drunk department chair. Really drunk. 8/10 on the drunk-o-meter. Ex-advisor finally turned away out of exasperation.

Drunk department chair wanted to do dinner with a couple of my dept-mates and I, at a mediocre pan-Asian place around the corner. The only one who’d lived in Chicago among us, I had a plan to sneak off to Wow Bao and get “hot asian buns” (their slogan), but I found myself being towed along and hoped that I’d run into “hot ex-advisor” later as a consolation prize.

Dinner was somewhat worth the earlier conversation-interruptus- and it was free (dept chair is a wonderful guy who seems to suffer from the same crippling anxiety as I do, but to not be medicated for it). The parallel with my father’s situation doesn’t seem to cause me any particular emotional discomfort, although I feel like it should somehow. I mean, it should be “triggering”, right? I feel nothing.

In the basement of the hotel, in one of the many identical chandelier-ed and damask-carpeted rooms with beige walls and projector screens, we all drank $10 glasses of wine and beer, and celebrated my department’s acquisition of our field’s major journal. Ex-Advisor was there, but he spent the evening talking with a woman I didn’t recognize. Seated. Engaged. I couldn’t cut in.

I did what I always do when around inaccessible men; I feigned indifference while trying to engineer a conversation, an encounter. Two colleagues who were going to the same subsequent party as me got fed up and left for it without me. I eventually had to concede defeat, too proud to wait any longer while pretending I wasn’t, I handed the full glass of wine I’d ordered (as an excuse to linger) to a senior colleague, and wandered off. I emailed him the next morning instead.

***
I had to be up early the next morning for my flight, and was supposed to meet the guy whose apartment I had stayed in (in whose apartment i had stayed?)  to return his keys. Absent the time the night before (when he’d suggested the meeting location) to check how long it would take to get from Bronzeville to Hyde Park, I was unpleasantly shocked when my phone told me it would be an hour by bus/train- dragging my suitcase and shuffling along in the sharp cold.

An hour to go 20 blocks?

This guy bikes everywhere, and by bike it’s only about 15 minutes. But the Chicago trains and the buses wrap around HP in an inconvenient way, and I risked making myself late to my flight if I took that much time to drop off the keys.

I called and texted the guy about what to do, but he didn’t answer. Somewhat panicked, and a lot frozen on his building’s front steps, I considered my options. If he wasn’t answering, and I couldn’t get to HP without risking missing my flight, I had to leave the keys somewhere sneaky for him. I settled on one of three heavy concrete planters in front of his building. With numb bare hands, I eased it up, and carefully slid the keys underneath. Then, I took a photo of the location and sent it to him with a nervous explanation.

I was most of the way to the airport on the train when I received his angry SMS reply that what I’d done was “fucked up”. I was immediately horrified and set to explaining my position. Sure I had lived in Chicago before, but never traveled by El between Bronzeville and HP. I’d had no idea how long it would take. He told me I should have hailed cab, and I hung my head… but in hindsight there were no cabs in sight and I do think calling one was a bit above and beyond.

He got his keys back just fine, but I think he now kind of hates me.
I guess it’s my fault for not mapping the route the night before and realizing how long it would take to get to him, but he also couldn’t have picked a much more inconvenient rendezvous point.