Monday, June 28, 2010

You shouldn't be doing that. You're FORTY!

I find myself surrounded by people who are either going through a break-up or going through a divorce. Maybe it's a heightened awareness, as I have just gone through my own break-up.

Same thing happened when I first became pregnant with my son. I suddenly found myself surrounded by crying babies and out-of-control toddlers. I remember walking through the bookstore in search of information about being pregnant, and everywhere I looked, I found strollers, expectant parents and screaming children.

We go through times in our lives when we are going to weddings every weekend, then baby showers, graduations, funerals. Guess it's my season of the break-up.

As my son has witnessed a couple break-ups since I divorced his dad, he has declared that he will never date, never have a girlfriend, never get married. Because he's only 13, I'm not fighting this too much. If he's not thinking of girlfriends, then he's not thinking about sex, which I'm totally cool with.

But it does present a challenge. He doesn't want to see me date again because he doesn't want to see me hurt again. He sees relationships as something that end painfully.

"Why would you put yourself through that again?" he asks.

I point out all the people we know who are in long-term relationships and happy. And happy. That's the key.

"Because I believe in love," I tell him. And I explain that relationships take time and hard work, and they are beautiful when they are right.

I remind him that on the other side of sadness is joy, and I will be OK. I already am OK; I'm more than OK, in fact. And I will continue to be OK whether I meet someone or not, though I hold out hope that I find that lifelong fling.

He and I have a tradition of watching "The Bachelor" series on Monday nights. Bear with me. The show is NOT a good example of solid relationships, but I find it to be a good way to stimulate conversations about how to be and how not to be when one is wooing members of the opposite sex.

(Plus those reality TV show people are free fodder for scrutiny.)

One recent episode sparked a conversation about sex, which makes my son's skin crawl. I'm not allowed to utter the word in his presence. I said something - a general remark - about spending the night with a guy - no one in particular, just a general remark about sleeping with someone you care about.

"Mom, you shouldn't be doing that! You're FORTY," he said with serious disgust.
I wanted to tell him that 40 is when it gets good, but I didn't want to traumatize him further. Found my censorship button; pushed it.

Anyway ... I look for ways to encourage my son not to seal off his heart ... when he's much older, of course ... and be open to heartbreak. After all, heartbreak lasts as long as you choose to make it last. You get something out of every person who comes and goes from your life. What I got for my most recent experience is a respect for people who suffer from addiction. Lesson Two: I know addiction is not something I want in my world. Lesson Three: I have become a more compassionate person - or, I have become aware of my lack of compassion and I'm working to be consistently more compassionate.

I like who I am on the other side of heartbreak. And now I'm over this heartbreak. Lived through it, learned from it, moving along.

Friday, June 11, 2010

What I want

I want someone who will fight whatever demons come his way just to be with me. I want someone who will never let any substance, person, place, thing, job or friend come between him and me. I want someone who doesn't have to be reminded to ask me how I am and who is really interested in my answer. I want someone who will take an interest in my son and remember his birthday and be his friend. I want someone who will cheer for me from the sidelines when I struggle with swimming, and I'll cheer for him in whatever endeavor he takes on. I want someone who will massage my feet at the end of the day, and I'll do the same for him. I want someone who will take out my garbage ... but I won't do the same. I want a relationship built on trust - mutual trust - and respect and love and passion. I want a best friend. I want to talk on the phone for hours and, at the end of the conversation, I want to realize that we covered more topics than the newspaper covers, and it wasn't all about him. I want him to have his own interests and friends. I want some space once in a while. I want to have my circle of friends and he has his circle of friends, and sometimes we make big circles together. I want someone who doesn't fart and think it's funny. I want someone who can afford to travel and go to dinner. I want someone who's over having drama in relationships. I want to laugh with him. I want him to see what a great, smart, funny and wise kid I have, even though he performs like an under-achiever. I want him to say, "Those people are horrible," when I vent about my family, and he'll make me realize I'm being ridiculous. I want someone who likes cats. I want him to take an interest in my work and ask to see my projects after they publish. I want to listen to his tales of his job and daily work dramas, and I promise to tsk tsk at the appropriate moments. I want someone who is honest with himself, even about his shortcomings, and who is, therefore, honest with me and the other people in his life. I want someone to tell me I look pretty. I want someone who will read this and not think it's all about him ...

Is this too much to ask?

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Swimming in pea soup

Last Saturday, I did my first open-water swim. Remember, I've been swimming for only seven months. Prior to November, I was a lifelong closeted non-swimmer.
The lake swim was intimidating. Distances are difficult to measure and perceive. Swimming in the lake was a little like swimming in pea soup. Little fishes nipped at my ankle bracelet. ::Shivers::
I did a few drills parallel to the shore just to warm up. A few times, I stopped, realized I couldn't touch bottom and panicked only slightly.
This treading water thing eludes me. I work my ass off to keep my head above water, even when it's not that deep. Friends tell me it's my comfort level, but I don't get it. I'm fine floating on my back or stroking through the waves. My mom tells me it's because I don't have enough body fat. I'm gonna go with her answer.
Anyway, my friend, Keith, told me to swim out 16 strokes. I did, no problem. Flipped on my back, counted to five, flipped back over and then flailed my way back to shore. My heart raced as my arms stroked like a windmill back to shore. Trying to keep him in sight was a challenge, because in the pool, we're taught to keep our chins tucked, heads down. Now we have to lift a little, to avoid drifting. Keith told me to slow down next time.
Using the tempo trainer set at a slow stroke - 1.4 seconds - Keith sent me back out. Much calmer on the return. The swim out tends to be calmer. The swim back to shore becomes urgent because I know I'm returning home and my feet will be on sand again.
Last night, at the pool, I swam a 400 set at 1.4 just to see how it feels. I did it with no problem, and could have kept going for another 400.
As I swam last night, I thought to myself that I couldn't believe I had such a hard time with a 400 in April at the Tri for the Cure.
This Saturday, my friends want me to try a 600 in the lake. Think I can get one of them to paddle alongside me on a raft?
If I can keep the pace at 1.4, I'll make it through the 700 in July at the Flagstaff tri, no problem. I look forward to the day I swim a mile in the ocean and look back at this struggle and think, "I can't believe I whined about that."

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Every strand shimmers with 3X highlights

I am shocked at how gray my hair is. For 20 years I've had the random single wiry gray that pops out like a jack-in-the-box, and in the last three years, the grayness has spread like an infectious disease, starting with great anger at my temples and tempering out as it reaches the back of my head.
My temples are solid white. Did you hear me? My temples are solid white, and I'm only 43. What the hell?
Yes, there are far larger problems in the world, and I'm all about sympathizing with the tornado victims in my home state of Ohio, being outraged by the oil in the Gulf of Mexico, wondering if the fighting in Israel, Afghanistan and Iraq will ever end ... but at the moment, I want to whine about my hair.
Before my gray days, I could stretch trips to the hair dresser to four times a year for highlights. Now that I'm living in Arizona, the growth rate of my hair seems to have doubled, and my roots demand attention every two months, and $60 to $80 every two months gets expensive.
Last weekend, someone I know said she has been coloring her own hair for years. "Really?" I said. "How long does it last?" Eight weeks, she said.
For three days, I've been thinking about her words. I can cleverly part my hair only so many ways and only for so long to disguise my gray temples. Eventually, they win, and I can't hide them.
I have no idea which formula to buy. Maybe the one that Sara Jessica Parker hawks? Garnier something? She's a Midwest girl; she wouldn't speak for something she didn't believe in, right?
At Walgreens, I am overwhelmed by the choices: Clairol, Garnier, L'Oreal. And within those brands, more choices: ammonia-free, 10-minute formula, cream, foam. The prices range from $3.99 to $14.99. I dismiss the low-price figuring you get what you pay for. The Sara Jessica Parker brand is near the low-end of the price spectrum, so I dismiss that too, remembering an interview I read where she spoke of her frugality. Not that that matters. But, I'm NOT spending $60 to professionally color my hair, so let's not go overboard with this living lean thing, I tell myself. I dismiss the most expensive brand because it comes with some confusing looking combination basting brush/hair pick.
I decide to use the same technique I used when I used to drink wine: look for cool labels, catchy names and pretty bottles.
I settle on L'Oreal's Feria Hair Color Gel, because I liked the name, and the art on the box doesn't look outdated. Feria. I have no idea what it means, but it sounds so stylish. And "every strand shimmers with 3X highlights."
If my hair-coloring adventure turns into disaster, I have a plan: I'll wear a hat tomorrow, call in sick and book myself with a professional. I look good in hats.
I follow the instructions to the letter, and I am happy to say, my first attempt at self-coloring my hair was a success. I am amazed at not only how easy it was, but also how quick and inexpensive!
I had a similar experience a few weeks ago when I bought Sally Hansen's wax strips to remove unwanted facial hair. Easy and cheap, cheap, cheap!
Maybe next I'll take on learning to change the oil in my car ...

Sunday, June 6, 2010

I thought there was no crying in baseball.

Baseball isn't one of my favorite games. It's near the bottom of my list of favorite pastimes. Ok, honestly ... it's not even on my list.
I do enjoy going to the ballpark and catching a game or two during the season, but I've never made it to the end of a game, and, really, I'm just there for the socializing and to look at athletes in tight pants.
So last week when the Cleveland Indians, my home team, played in Detroit against the Tigers, my Facebook page was filled with outrage at Jim Joyce's blown call. I had to know more. Ninth inning, and Cleveland was not only scoreless (no shocker there), but it hadn't put a man on base. Detroit was looking at a perfect game - the first in its history. Though "perfect game" conjures yawns from me, it's a big deal to the cute guys in tight pants and their true fans.
Outrage. Fury. Name-calling. Fans and players were pissed off!
Joyce, who could have fought for his call, "manned up" and admitted his mistake, apologized for it and, get this, even CRIED publicly.
(I thought there was no crying in baseball?)
This got me thinking about another news item that has grabbed headlines lately - that BP oil disaster in the Gulf.
The oil company has become The One To Hate for not only the spill but the way its executives have handled the disaster. I initially thought, "Boy, those BP execs could learn a thing or two from Joyce." Then I realized I was kinda off-base. BP did take responsibility for the oil spill right away, even though it pointed fingers at Transocean, the company that owns the rig, and Halliburton, the contractor that works on the rig. Those companies pointed fingers right back.
BP's stock has been on a decline since the end of April, when the oil rig exploded and killed 11 people. Its PR folks and Tony Hayward launched an apology campaign last week in newspapers, Facebook and on TV, though the apology is framed like this: "BP takes full responsibility for the clean-up in the Gulf." It doesn't take responsibility for its role in the spill. And Hayward says, "I'm sorry," which sounds like "I"m sorry this has happened to you," as I'd say to a girlfriend whose man just walked out on her.
The apology comes about six weeks into the debacle, after angry Americans began boycotting the company and staging protests. Too little too late? Mmmmm hmmmm. BP must have some sleepless PR and legal teams.
I realize that comparing a baseball umpire's error doesn't compare to the error that cost 11 human lives and is polluting our waters with 210,000 gallons of oil a day (according to a McClathy News report).
Joyce became a hero for his immediate, sincere, tearful apology. Baseball's outraged fans were silenced; who could stay angry at an umpire who offers a tearful apology publicly?
BP became The One To Hate while it shifted blame and Hayward put his foot in his mouth ("I'd like my life back," he is quoted as saying and later apologized for). There's a lesson here to be learned about apologies, timing and sincerity, me thinks.