SWIM!

Some people say that they learned to swim when they were thrown into the deep end. Me? I swallowed half the pool and ended up with a nasty ear infection when my first swim instructor carried me into the deep end and submerged me. Although I made numerous attempts in later life, the dog-paddle is still my stroke of choice.

Much like my experiences in the actual pool, I haven’t had much luck diving into the dating pool either. Truth be known, I’m REALLY enjoying my “single person time.” When I dip my toes in, I end up attracting exactly the opposite of what I really want. So I stopped trying.

I hired someone to do all the dirty work for me… a personal matchmaker.

This, like most premium customized services, was expensive. But I decided that since I obviously had no idea what I was doing, I should break a few patterns and cannonball right out of my comfort zone. Even if I didn’t find THAT someone, the matchmaker would be providing me useful feedback that I could use in the future toward breaking old patterns.

Some people get lucky and find their life partners early on, but the harsh reality is that most people just settle. I’ve never been one of those people. Sure, I’ve been a little too generous with a few second chances that never should have happened. Sure I’ve given the benefit of the doubt when I should have trusted my intuition SCREAMING at me not to. But I’m only human. No one is perfect.

And I’m honest with myself. I have plenty of faults. But I also know that to the right person, they might be endearing. I also know that I need someone well-rounded, who knows themselves and isn’t in the process of rebuilding after a divorce, breakup, or layoff. I’ve seen too many people not take the appropriate time to heal.

I wasn’t exactly sure how this was going to work. My matchmaker is located in another state, so I wondered how she could find someone in my area… someone who checks all of my boxes.

After a long phone conversation, several texts and emails, and a few photos exchanged she contacted me 2 days ago and told me I had a date! She asked what my schedule was, asked me to pick a place and Thursday I’m meeting someone hand-selected for me.

So here I go dog-paddling along, right into that dating pool.

Dream A Little Dream

I had a nightmare last night. Maybe it was just a bad dream, but unlike most of my dreams, I actually remembered this one and woke up believing it was real.

First I have to give you a little backstory…

A long time ago in the MySpace days, I was asked to do restaurant reviews for a local publication. At the time, I had just finished reading The Between Boyfriends Book by former SATC writer Cindy Chupack and had pitched an idea to the editor of the Dating & Love section. In the last chapter, Chupack discusses the BAD/GOOD date ratio: how many bad dates a girl must endure in order to get to a good one. My idea was to pick an eligible bachelor at random from MySpace and have him accompany me on each restaurant review meal. I would write about my experiences using aliases. By the second date, I had decided to focus my attention solely on the guy I’d chosen and table the article.

I’d been peeking at this guy’s MySpace profile for a while, so I wrote him. I realized that the head shot on his profile was done by a photographer friend of mine who’d hired me to do the makeup and hair for that corporate website session. The guy was shy and I remembered talking him into letting me put a little product in his beautiful, thick hair to give it a little texture. (To be honest, I didn’t recall this detail until I’d been on a few dates with him, but it was a better story than the whole truth, so I told it whenever people asked how we met. Not that I’m encouraging half-truths, but since online dating was terribly taboo at the time, I rolled with it.)

I was tasked with doing a review for a local sushi restaurant. Knowing myself, and my fear of eating strange things, I knew that I had to find a more adventurous, more culunarily-cultured counterpart. This guy just happened to have a photo posted of him eating something strange and raw with chopsticks, so I used it as part of my opener. I sent him a message asking if he would like to accompany me on my reviewing adventure. He accepted. Soon after, we were seen all over town enjoying dinners, drinks and the occasional hockey game.

He was the first guy in a long time that I looked up to. He was smart and enterprising… owning, running and selling several companies and one restaurant. And he was the first guy I’d ever met who could tell me that he was an “Entrepreneur” without making me cringe and immediately think he was selling Amway. I respected him. He had an interesting life of his own and we never had a boring interaction.

Flash forward to present day.

We’re still in touch. We’ve both been through our share of failed relationships. The last for both of us ended last year. I still see him occasionally, as friends… Friends with a history.

I have no idea what spawned my subconscious to create the images it did last night, but they’re still vivid in my mind and I’m still a little shaken up by them.

Years ago when we were in the heat of our off-again on-again relationship, I never asked him to define what we were to each other. He’s one of those people who isn’t fond of PDA or discussing feelings of any type. When he took me to Puerto Rico, he spoke of a long relationship that recently ended. It was the first time I heard any sort of emotion in his voice, so although I really wanted to, I didn’t pry. He was a bit of a conundrum. I loved and hated it at the same time.

Because we never defined “US,” we found each other getting into other relationships, then coming back to each other. Although I kept looking for signs that I would be the next bona fide relationship, I never was. Instead, I was just the person he sought to fill the space in between. Evidently, this has affected me more than I thought.

Last night I dreamed that we’d been seeing each other just like we used to when one day he decided to tell me that he was in a new relationship, so we couldn’t continue. I was crushed. After all this time, I let it happen again. I could feel my heart beating out of my chest as I held back tears while trying to communicate. This time was different. He actually told me face to face instead of just ghosting me. Everything was the same, yet so different. And I was different. I finally found the words that I needed to say.

I told him “I was good enough to have fun with, but not good enough to be your girlfriend? That’s what hurts.” In fact, that has been an issue all along. I kept thinking that one day he would wake up and see me differently, but he never did. Perhaps he never will.

And although I know how much I have to offer, there’s a chance that some people will always blind to it. I was beating a dead horse, and although it’s my horse to beat, I don’t ever want to feel that way again.

I’ve had dreams that were premonitions. I’ve also had dreams that made no sense at all. But this one, although it was difficult, taught me a valuable lesson. My worth has nothing to do with how people treat me. I was tolerating behavior that made me feel less than, and I needed to move on. And just like that, the pedestal I put him on for so long is gone and I’ve finally found my voice.

Voice

MY Year of YES

There’s a subscription box group for Female Entrepreneurs that I belong to. I joined it on a whim when I was feeling a bit stuck. Although I haven’t had time for a lot of the free training sessions that have been offered, I appreciate the books, office supplies, tools and other useful stuff that comes with being a member of this elite little society. There’s a Facebook Group and the Founder is taking her wares on Shark Tank since this tiny box has taken off so exponentially. (It went from a small operation she put together in her living room, to a box she’s now outsourcing the curation and delivery of.)

I was overjoyed when I opened last month’s box and out popped Shonda Rhimes’s “The Year of YES! (How to Dance It Out, Stand In the Sun and Be Your Own Person)” This book has been on my list for a while now and I couldn’t wait to read it. Unfortunately, my schedule is a little crazy, so I resorted to grabbing the Audible download and adding it to my collection as an accompaniment. Yesterday I began reading.

This is MY year of YES.

  • YES to putting myself first
  • YES to doing the things I’ve always wanted to do before it’s too late
  • YES to cultivating meaningful relationships
  • YES to knowing that I don’t need to change to be loved
  • YES to taking good care of myself and those I care about
  • YES to listening to my own inner voice

I’m doing a lot of things that are taking me out of my comfort zone, but for the first time in a really long time I’m also perfectly fine and really happy. Although societal norms dictate that I’m supposed to have been married and popped out a few kids by now, the thought of having someone to answer to (besides my parents) isn’t one I have a desire to explore.

My last boyfriend needed constant reassurance and validation. By the time that relationship ended, you could look at pictures of me and clearly see the life had completely drained from my eyes. Now that I’m getting back on track to becoming the person I’m supposed to be, I refuse to revert to anything resembling that shell of a person. It’s not what I want for myself. I want so much more.

Don’t get me wrong, I WILL say YES to love, but only when I know it’s what’s right for me. It’s never pleasant to fail. And one of the worst failures of all is to have a failed relationship that ruins a lifelong friendship. At least I know that now. Postponing the inevitable is probably what drained the life force from my eyes. The stress and worry of the impending failure weighed a few million tons.

Since then I’ve:

  1. Started a series of renovations on my house (everything I’ve always wanted to do and HAD to do)
    • Complete remodel of guest bathroom
    • Partial remodel of master bathroom
    • Foundation repair
    • HVAC line & box replacement
    • Screened in patio with built-in wet bar
  2. Purchased tickets to the Life Is Beautiful festival in Las Vegas (I went in 2015 BY MYSELF and the lineup was EPIC)
  3. Went to Raleigh’s FIRST EVER SuperCon
  4. Saw Jump Little Children and am seeing them again in October
  5. Saw and met K.Flay!
  6. Got published in an e-zine!
  7. Got promoted!
  8. Saw Bowling for Soup
  9. Graduated from the FIRST EVER Citizen’s Police Academy
  10. Went to my first “Great Cover Up”
  11. Saw Kevin Smith
  12. Had a Bride featured in Borrowed and Blue

If all goes well, renovations should be finished by my birthday (August 27, fingers crossed) so I should have some great photos to post by then. Otherwise, expect some of the usual stream-of-consciousness ramblings and photos to tide you over.

Most of the things on this list are things I would have held myself back from if I’d stayed in the same place life was going last year. I was disappearing. I was hiding from life. I was shying away from everything I really wanted because my insides were full of conflict and doubt.

NO MORE!

  • YES to knowing better so I can do better
  • YES to saying lots of YES, but knowing when to say NO so that I can take the time to recharge

Just so much YES. It feels so good each time I say it.

 

SuperCon

So there I was in a line of the sweaty, costumed masses that stretched completely around the Raleigh Civic & Convention Center. My first thought was that I didn’t bring any sunscreen, my second was that I was going to be extremely close to some of my favorite celebrities and I didn’t want to look or smell like a sweaty mess and I didn’t have deodorant in my ridiculously large bag. I’d packed everything else I could possibly need (snacks, portable phone charger, zip up hoodie for warmth, water bottle, extra t-shirt, cash, memorabilia for signatures…) I’d never been to a convention of any type, but I was a damn-quick study.

A guy dressed as batman, driving a convertible replica of the Batmobile (and probably also sitting in a puddle of his own sweat from what I could imagine) pulled up just in time for a tiny joker to appear and leer at him from behind a telephone pole. I giggled and walked past. It was like I was walking through a film set… or perhaps Bizarroworld. Not typical by any stretch of the imagination, but this was MY typical Saturday.

Once inside I felt lost only for a moment, then, as if by magic I was found by multiple people who picked me out of the crowd. (I’ll admit, I wasn’t dressed in a costume of any sort and I wasn’t slogging around in a t-shirt and jeans so I was probably the sorest of all thumbs in the bunch. But THIS, I’m accustomed to.) After I made my way to a restroom, blotted any dew I’d accumulated and taken a few deep breaths to collect myself, I ran straight into my friend John, who in recent months had begun trying his hand at CosPlay photography. He’d been hired to take all the group shots at the SuperCon so although he was busy, he took a moment to show me how to get where I needed to be… I went straight to where the celebrities are.

I’ve always been most at home with them. I think that’s something I’ve always known. They’re just more interesting than normal people. And I’ve always been drawn to those who set themselves apart.

My list included: Gaten Matarazzo (Stranger Things), Jason Mewes (Clerks, Mallrats, Jay & Silent Bob), Emma Caulfield (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, TiMER), Brian O’Halloran (Clerks, Mallrats), and Joey Lauren Adams (Chasing Amy, Big Daddy, Dazed & Confused). I loved ALL of them. Some interactions were a little more rushed than others. Some remembered me and interacted with me throughout the convention. (I even got to hug Emma goodbye and wish her safe travels. She really is the sweetest! I told her about my friend Jenn who named her second son Xander. She said, “Now THAT’S dedication! And we laughed.)

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And Joey… I can’t say enough about Joey. The convention organizers placed Emma and Joey right next to each other and I can certainly understand why. They are both Sweetness and Light. During the View Askew panel while Jason was walking around being ADHD and Brian was being a comedian, Joey just sat back, calmly answered questions (no matter how off-color they were) and just glowed. She has an aura about her that is definitely old soul, but there’s a sweet vulnerability and a touch of “cool kid” that makes you want to hang out with her. In her Q&A, I asked her who was her role model. She responded without hesitation, Deborah Winger. Now I feel the need to watch more Deborah Winger movies.

But the best part was when I told her that ever since I’d watched Chasing Amy, I’d wanted her to be my best friend, she smiled and giggled and we chatted some more. She then took a stunning photo with me. What I hadn’t noticed was that she had personalized my DVD in response to our conversation. Now I’m the one who’s glowing.

When I first heard about the SuperCon, my friend Madeline had sent me a message last weekend when I went to see Kevin Smith at the comedy club. She told me that “Jay and Dante” would be there, which at the time were intriguing but not quite impressive enough for me to be completely convinced. When I saw that Joey was accompanying the boys, I clicked the purchase button immediately. As soon as I saw Emma was there, I knew my decision was a solid choice.

Madeline had a wedding to shoot in Virginia on Saturday, so I extended my ticket purchase to I could accompany her on Sunday. (Sunday was also Joey’s Q&A, so it was a win-win regardless) I got everything I wanted to do for myself done on Saturday so that I could relax and enjoy everything with Madeline on Sunday. It was the perfect plan.

The (Supposedly) Neverending Tile Saga

If I ever had a doubt, the past few years have truly shown me who my real friends are. Have you ever had those friends so connected with you that they could read your mind? I do.

Throughout this whole renovation process, my friend Lee Ann has been a perfect Partner in Crime. Although I share her affinity for HGTV, she definitely has more knowledge, experience and vocabulary in her arsenal. (Yes, this actually IS my first rodeo.) If I attempted a DIY project of this magnitude, it would look more like a Pinterest Fail.

When I first chose the shower tile for the guest bathroom, we had no idea that it would be:
a. so delicate and
b. so difficult to find.

 

 

Previously, we’d ordered half of the tiles from one store and half from another, each time having the store check the boxes on hand for broken tiles and set aside the good ones. We thought everything was taken care of until 40 tiles simply disappeared. The contractor went to pick them up and no one could locate them. (I’m not sure how one minute 40 tiles have been counted out & set aside and the next, they’re nowhere to be found, but that’s neither here nor there… literally)

This week I decided that if we could find enough of the same tile, I’d like to re-do the remaining shower in the same pattern. At last check, the store in Goldsboro (which is about an hour away) had the most in their inventory, so Lee Ann decided that it would be a good idea to take a road trip and grab it so that my contractors would have it available right away if they needed it.

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Actual photo taken in Lee Ann’s driveway prior to leaving for Goldsboro

When we arrived, the staff member I spoke to hadn’t had a chance to go through the boxes on hand. Lee Ann and I made quick work of it. By the end, we had 39 intact tiles and 29 that were broken, but large enough to be salvaged. We ended up getting the broken tiles for 10 cents apiece! (Did I fail to mention that Lee Ann is a Genius?) And to top it all off, when she found out there were more intact tiles in Rocky Mount and her Dad would be going there the next day, she got him in on our little coup. Now I have 20 more tiles that were carefully delivered by Lee Ann’s awesome Dad!

I know, I know… This is way too much trouble, right? Why didn’t I just choose another?

The tile selection was absolutely pitiful at this particular Home Improvement store, but when I saw THAT style, something just clicked. It stood out from the others. I had to have it.

Had I known the EPIC STRUGGLE that would ensue just to obtain intact pieces, I probably would have given up right on the spot. But with my biggest cheerleader in my corner, anything seemed possible.

And it always will be. ❤

I’ve mentioned a few times my new found affinity for audio books. So far I’ve stayed in the genres of motivation/self-help and autobiography. I’ve discovered that I’m really not a big fan of fiction. I enjoy good storytelling, but I like it more if it’s plausible. I think that’s why I just can’t wrap my brain around all that Game of Thrones and Walking Dead nonsense. The people are so dirty and the subject matter is so violent. I like characters, but I enjoy even more if they’re actually real. What ever happened to real life heroes?

In the past few months I’ve powered through the autobiographies of Neil Patrick Harris, George Watsky, Sara Bareilles, and Amy Poehler. (Yes, I realize what an eclectic mix this is.) I was shocked at myself for not being able to get through Tina Fey‘s autobiography as easily (it’s still waiting), but these were enjoyable for a myriad of different reasons. NPH is a brilliant storyteller, but the “Choose Your Own Adventure” format proved a bit confusing for an audiobook, even though the content was entertaining. I enjoyed hearing Watsky’s winding tales of the road and everything in between. I’ve seen Watsky live twice and met him in person once. He seems like a complicated guy and a tad difficult to get to know. Reading his memoir gave me a lot of insight and a few laughs.

The Sara Bareilles memoir was a hidden gem. She sings at the beginning of each chapter and tells stories with such aplomb that you will find yourself laughing one minute and in tears the next. It’s clear that she appreciates her fans and that she’s one of those rare artists that simply doesn’t take anything for granted. ALSO if you’re patient enough to wait through all the ending credits, there are absolutely priceless bloopers and outtakes that leave you laughing… and wanting her in your circle of friends.

But my favorite was Amy Poehler. She’s humble and adorable and she makes no qualms of telling you her shortcomings in a way that will tell you she’s actually just like you. She talks about her love/hate relationship with her cell phone, her pregnancy (and its bad timing with the Jon Hamm SNL episode), the upright citizens brigade, learning to take responsibility for her actions and apologies, SNL, Tina, Seth, her divorce, Parks & Recreation, and the TSA agent who located her laptop when she thought this book might never be published (and she attached her pic in the PDF). I enjoyed every one of her stories, and the celebrity cameos (I’m looking at you Kathleen Turner). It’s obvious that she has a lot of friends in the business who would do anything for her. And that’s saying something.

The next book I had decided to read is “Big Magic” by Elizabeth Gilbert. I’d chosen the audio book because the paperback was sent to me in a subscription box I receive monthly for Female Entrepreneurs. The reviews by other group members looked promising, so I thought I’d give it a whirl.

DEAR LORD NO! THAT WOMAN IS CRAZY! I’m only on Chapter 3 and I feel like she’s attempting to indoctrinate me with some crazy hippy commune thinking. She says that one person can have a big idea and transmit that same idea to another person simply by touch. We are just conduits for ideas as if they just whiz about looking for someone to enact them. If we aren’t ready for a big idea, if it isn’t the idea’s time, it will move on and find another conduit… or possibly come back to us when we’re ready. WHAT?!?!?

ur7ip

Yep, she’s nuts. I may be returning that title for some new hotness.

Can Jen Sincero write another book? I gobbled up the first two at warp speed. Maybe I’ll re-read them… because they were BADASS.

 

 

 

I say this to myself ALL THE TIME. In fact, I honestly didn’t realize that Maya Angelou said it first since I say so many versions of it to myself every day. And in the past 2 months alone, the things that I’ve wanted to change for so long have begun to change more rapidly than I ever imagined. I haven’t been posting because I’ve been running around getting things accomplished. (More on the rest of that later)

I’ve posted before about how I’d planned to make significant changes to my house, and as time went on, I kept thinking of more changes that would be nice to have. Of course, some of these things will need to wait until I set aside enough money to make them happen, but I got lucky and found a great (and HONEST) contractor who makes every effort to stay under budget. He has a hardworking team of subcontractors who are also decent people and that makes all the difference.

My attention was first called to an imperfection in the guest bathroom floor (which has over time gotten worse) by the worst nosy house guest ever. She was one of those people who overstays a welcome and goes through all of your things instead of asking where something is. She also managed to scar up the cord of my brand new vacuum cleaner pretty badly. I still have no idea how people manage to do that. But I digress… This coupled with a few foundation issues made me decide that it was probably time to call in an expert.

This Monday they came in and tore everything out of the guest bathroom so that the floor situation could be assessed. As it turns out, the problem wasn’t in that area at all. Perhaps I’d just had a string of ignorant house guests and roommates who didn’t know how to properly close a shower curtain. Who knows… but the main issue was that there was a slow leak around the toilet and the floor had been patched 3 times, so there were at least 3 different layers of floor. It looked like a patchwork quilt.

I’d taken that day off and it was interesting to see how everything came together. I picked out my floor tile, fixtures, vanity, but none of the wall tile appealed to me so the contractor told me that could wait until Wednesday.

On Tuesday they put down my floor and began assessing the situation under the house.

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Tuesday night (and with SIGNIFICANT help from Lee Ann & HalleAnn) I found my wall tile, paint color, floor grout color and wall grout color. As it turned out, the tile I wanted was extremely hard to come by. Although some of the Lowe’s stores showed a certain amount in their inventory, they ended up having much less on hand. And although I’d promised Lee Ann a fun night of dinner, watching The Bachelorette, and HGTV-palooza shenanigans at Lowe’s, we ended up staying until close trying to find a store that had this elusive tile style so that my contractor would have it ready and waiting for him in the morning. I was already irked that I’d be sending him to 2 different locations instead of just one, but I had no idea of the wild goose chase that would follow.

SIDE NOTE: The tile mason gave me a small piece of the floor tile so that I could match the wall tiles. Lee Ann’s daughter is 6 and to her, this was something cool to play with. It was an honor to get to carry “the floor tile” because it was so very important to our mission. Her Mom made her carry it with TWO HANDS so that she wouldn’t drop it. You should have seen it. She was absolutely adorable.

Wednesday morning my contractor arrived at Lowe’s to find NOTHING. They couldn’t find my order by my name, his name, my phone number, his phone number… He called me and I gave him the item number, after which the Lowe’s employee quickly regained their senses and found the order, yet not the merchandise. *insert audible groan here* He was able to find a box of 10, which we found out upon further inspection (after they made it to my house) were cracked. We ended up using the pieces for edging. As soon as I hung up with him, I called the next store he was to visit to make sure I spoke to someone with some sense. I did. His name was Bobby. He had 40 tiles waiting at Customer Service for us. When my contractor arrived at my house, I debriefed him & went to work. I came home to this.

My tile mason stayed until 8PM and bought us both dinner. I’m pretty sure this doesn’t happen often.

I also forgot to mention that I have 2 doggie cameras installed. I’d purchased them back when I first got Quincy and he had a habit of chewing up things he wasn’t supposed to chew. Now that he’s all settled in, he doesn’t chew up anything, so I hadn’t been putting the cameras to use… until now. *insert devious grin here* BUT THEY WORKED THE ENTIRE TIME! I hardly ever saw a single soul on camera unless they walked by to grab something from outside, which of course only elevated my confidence in everyone. They really are great, hardworking guys… And they love my dog, which is always a bonus.

I did happen to catch my contractor vacuuming my living room, which I thought was both really nice AND really odd. When I got home, he told me that one of his guys had accidentally shattered the globe on the ceiling fan they were installing for me (as a favor). Then the light bulb in my head went off.

 The replacement will be here on Monday… and I’ve made a friend at Build.com.

The remainder of the tile was put up on Thursday and today everything was scheduled to be grouted. This morning I ordered a very expensive vanity light fixture (because all of the others sucked) and it will go perfectly with everything else I’ve chosen.

Just about every day I’ve gone into my manager’s office to update him on everything going on. His most apt remark yet… “When all of this is finished, you may want to live in that bathroom for a while just to get your money’s worth.”

He may be onto something there.